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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - The Ultimate Collection (3CD)
Artist - KC and the Sunshine Band

As well as in the UK and USA, KC And The Sunshine Band enjoyed widespread international chart and sales success in many other countries including Holland, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa.

Their songs have been covered and sampled to provide hit singles for many different artists including Dead Or Alive, KWS, Bloodhound Gang, Basshunter, Bamboo and Cut ‘N’ Move.

The Ultimate Collection is a 3CD compilation featuring a comprehensive selection of the band’s singles and B-sides along with an extensive selection of extended versions and remixes by one of the best loved, most successful and enduring funk and soul bands of the 1970s and 1980s.

Including 55 tracks released by the T.K. Records, Jay-Boy and Epic labels including extended versions and remixes of some of KC And The Sunshine Band’s best known songs, such as ‘That’s The Way (I Like It)’, ‘Get Down Tonight’ and ‘Do You Wanna Go Party,’ as well as many B-sides, it also features all their ten UK Top 40 hit singles: including the Top 10 hits ‘Queen Of Clubs’, ‘That’s The Way (I Like it)’, ‘Please Don’t Go’ and the No.1 smash hit single ‘Give It Up’.

Disc 1:
1. Sound Your Funky Horn
2. Why Don’t We Get Together
3. Blow Your Whistle
4. I’m Gonna Do Something Good To You
5. I’m A Pushover
6. You Don’t Know
7. Queen Of Clubs
8. Do It Good
9. Get Down Tonight
10. I’m So Crazy (‘Bout You)
11. Boogie Shoes
12. That’s The Way (I Like It)
13. Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong
14. I Like To Do It
15. Come On In
16. I’m Your Boogie Man
17. Wrap Your Arms Around Me
18. (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty
19. Keep It Comin’ Love
20. Baby I Love You (Yes I Do)
21. Do You Feel Alright (Single Edit)
22. Sho-Nuff’
23. I Will Love You Tomorrow

This action-packed disco-funk-R&B-pop collection of music opens on the swinging grooves of Sound Your Funky Horn, the soul funk flow of Why Don’t We Get Together and the funky hook within Blow Your Whistle, and then brings us the sweetly grooved I’m Gonna Do Something Good To You, the funk overtones amid mid-’70s disco track I’m A Pushover, the fun You Don’t Know, the bass line and brass accompaniments OF Queen Of Clubs, and then come the dance floor scorcher Do It Good, a song that is the very essence of ’70s disco-pop music, Get Down Tonight, and both the cut where KC meets Motown, I’m So Crazy (‘Bout You) and the highly infectious Boogie Shoes.

Along next is the propulsive dancefloor smash hit That’s The Way (I Like It) and the top track Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong, and they are in turn followed by the flashback to good times on I Like To Do It, tracks that saw them at the height of their powers, Come On In and I’m Your Boogie Man, the jam that is Wrap Your Arms Around Me, before the monster hit (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty is brought forth, along with the smooth grooves of Keep It Comin’ Love, the super disco of Baby I Love You (Yes I Do), their lesser known classic disco cut Do You Feel Alright (Single Edit), the underplayed, forgotten classic Sho-Nuff’, the first disc rounding out with the beautiful sing-along I Will Love You Tomorrow.

Disc 2:
1. Who Do Ya Love
2. So Glad
3. I Get Lifted
4. It’s The Same Old Song
5. Let’s Go Party
6. Do You Wanna Go Party
7. Come To My Island
8. Let’s Go Rock And Roll
9. I’ve Got The Feeling
10. Please Don’t Go
11. I Betcha Didn’t Know That
12. It Happens Every Night (Single version)
13. Stand Up
14. Love Me
15. Don’t Say No
16. All Through The Night (Single version)
17. Give It Up
18. It’s Too Hard To Say Goodbye
19. Party With Your Body
20. Something’s Happening
21. Summer Nights

Slipping the second CD into the player and this one opens with the beautiful love song Who Do Ya Love, the happy, chilled out cut So Glad and the coldest groove of I Get Lifted, and then brings us the groovealicious, and highly addictive It’s The Same Old Song, which is followed by the ultimate disco of Let’s Go Party, the funky Do You Wanna Go Party, the happy music within Come To My Island, and then the fantastic Let’s Go Rock And Roll, the ultimate dancefloor disco of I’ve Got The Feeling, and the free flowing, masterfully crafted, and since much-covered hit Please Don’t Go.

Up next is the harmonized rare gem I Betcha Didn’t Know That and the moody It Happens Every Night (Single version) and they are in turn backed by the sway funk of Stand Up, the decadent Love Me, the impassioned Don’t Say No, and then comes the cool breeze of All Through The Night (Single version), the get up and dance vibe of the melodically ardent Give It Up, the lovely jam It’s Too Hard To Say Goodbye, this second disc rounding out on the serious dance cut Party With Your Body, the turbo charged Something’s Happening, and the excellent Summer Nights.

Disc 3:
1. I’m A Pushover
2. That’s The Way (I Like It) (Club Mix)
3. That’s The Way (I Like It) (Dub Style)
4. That’s The Way (I Like It) (Re-Master Mix Extended)
5. That’s The Way (I Like It) (New York Style Mix)
6. That’s The Way (I Like It) (Original T.K. Mix)
7. Get Down Tonight (Original T.K. Mix)
8. Keep It Comin’ Love
9. Do You Feel All Right
10. Do You Wanna Go Party (Extended Version)
11. Do You Wanna Go Party (Special Disco Mix)

This third disc is a collection of different mixes of KC hits, but predominately That’s The Way (I Like It), which gets four listening experiences, the one that stands out for me being the one that leads the way, the club mix.

Other highlights include the Original T.K. Mix of Get Down Tonight, the toe tapping Keep It Comin’ Love, and a Special Disco Mix of the still fabulous Do You Wanna Go Party.

Packaged in a deluxe 3CD digipack it also includes a fully illustrated 20-page booklet featuring extensive sleeve notes by writer Michael Silvester.

Official Purchase Link

Title - Souls On Fire: The Recordings 1983-1986 [4CD/1DVD]
Artist - Tracie Young

Tracie Young (often just billed as Tracie) is a former English pop singer from the 1980’s who achieved success after becoming a protégée of Paul Weller.

This fantastic 4CD/1DVD clamshell collection entitled Souls On Fire – The Recordings 1983-1986 features the period spans her eight singles and two studio albums over the period of 1983-1986, while Tracie was signed firstly to Paul Weller’s label, Respond Records, and then to Polydor Records for the release of two singles and the then unreleased second album, ‘No Smoke Without Fire’.

This was subsequently released in 2014 on Cherry Red Records. The exclusive DVD brings together her original promo videos, rare footage of Tracie’s appearances at the BBC and a live performance filmed in Japan in 1984.

CD 1 is centered around the ten-track debut album ‘Far From The Hurting Kind’, originally released in 1984 plus ten bonus tracks. The album opener, (I Love You) When You Sleep was written by Elvis Costello.

Disc 1:
+ denotes appearing on CD for the first time

I’ve always been a fan of Tracie, even saw her perform a very sweaty show in London back in the ’80s at The Marquee (although, in hindsight, it could have been The 100 Club), but I digress. Although the album didn’t spark a massive rush by the public for it at the record shops, to me (and all her fans) it was/is a bonafide masterpiece.

Also a nice reminder that there was more going on in the ’80s than all the disco-glitter-synthesizer bang-bang-bang (to paraphrase), like many Cherry Red reissues, this one wisely adds some fun bonus tracks, and in this case that makes all the difference; since Weller opted to mysteriously leave Tracie’s two major chart entries OFF the original album!

Ah, Mr. Weller, always the fly in the ointment. As for the original album, it is chock full of bouncy, catchy, soul-pop tunes driven by a sweet, pretty and passionate young voice in Tracie Young.

In what was a terribly ignored album in its time, stand outs still today include the totally gorgeous (I LOVE YOU) WHEN YOU SLEEP, the pop-grooved power of the addictive synth beauty DR. LOVE (complete with a slap bass middle), the poplicious WHAT DID I HEAR YOU SAY, and both the smoothness of the titular FAR FROM THE HURTING KIND and the upbeat pop-tastic THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT.

The bonus cuts - on the first disc, let alone all those spread throughout - really do bump this package up a couple notches, especially the brilliantly impassioned GIVE IT SOME EMOTION (extended version), the groovy MAMA NEVER TOLD ME, and a B-side track, where if Bananarama fanatics were ever curious to hear a very different version of Weller’s Deep Sea Skiving contribution, well, here it was aka DR. LOVE.

CD 2 features the ten tracks of Tracie’s second album, ‘No Smoke Without Fire’, plus eight related bonus tracks.

+ denotes appearing on CD for the first time

Recommended for die hard fans of the Style Council or any of the acts that proliferated briefly during the new wave of UK jazz pop (ie: early Sade, Weekend, Working Week, Matt Bianco, etc.), the second disc is her much-delayed album No Smoke Without Fire, and is yet another brilliant slice of what Tracie could do.

Although the album is, as noted, a classic Tracie, smooth-sung gem, unfortunately, aside from a couple more singles that would appear randomly here and there on compilations, this is as far as her singing career went. For Weller kind of lost interest in the label and thus it eventually disappeared, but luckily for us, this quite excellent sophomore recording lives on today.

Inclusive of a booklet that features and photos from Tracie’s own collection from behind the scenes on tour in Japan and elsewhere, stand out tracks here for me are the infectious I THINK YOU’RE LUCKY, the melodic FINGERS CROSSED, and both the dutifully harmonized (WHEN YOU) CALL ME, and the smoothly grooved, titular NO SMOKE WITHOUT FIRE.

CD 3 features rarities from Tracie’s catalogue including six tracks appearing on CD for the first time.

+ denotes appearing on CD for the first time

This wondrous third disc is, as it says, a most delicious slice of Tracie rarities, and includes a whole bunch of her stuff that I myself have never had the pleasure to hear before. Sure I have all her 12 inch singles, together with their collective poster sleeves still in tact, and sure some of those B-side tracks are never to far from my ear when the mood strikes, but here we get such gems as early versions of FAR FROM THE HURTING KIND, I CAN’T HOLD ON ‘TILL SUMMER performed here without strings, a 12 inch instrumental version of THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT, along with a quite brilliant 12 inch B-side cut of GIVE IT SOME EMOTION.

CD 4 includes previously unreleased live performances recorded by Tokyo FM recorded live in Japan, plus tracks recorded by the BBC for their In Concert series, along with many remixes.

Disc 4: LIVE + MIXES
+ denotes appearing on CD for the first time

On what is yet another pure, unmined thus far gem of musical finds, this disc contains a lot of live tracks from Tracie, most all of which I have never heard before. Stand outs amongst the beautiful tracks include two cuts from her Japan tour in the form of GIVE IT SOME EMOTION and THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT, along with three mixes: the interesting 19 (THE WICKHAM MIX), the pop-flow bounce of WE SHOULD BE TOGETHER (JEZAMIX), and the beyond fantastic to hear all these years later, TRACIE RAPS cut!

The DVD features several original promo videos plus Tracie’s memorable 1985 appearance on Wogan to perform ‘I Can’t Leave You Alone’, and ‘The House That Jack Built’ on the seminal children’s program Cheggars Plays Pop. The DVD also features a seven-track live performance recorded on May 4 1984 at Nakano Sun-plaza Hall in Tokyo.


Compilers’ note: The DVD has been compiled using the best available source material. Where any such sources weren’t ideal, the compilers felt that those clips should be retained as their historical interest to fans outweighs any technical limitations.

Tracie - Souls On Fire – The Recordings 1983-1986 [Official Trailer]

Official Purchase Link

Title - Carry On: The Deluxe Edition 1982-1992 (4CD)
Artist - The Weather Girls & Martha Wash

Childhood friends Martha Wash and Izora Armstead first began performing together in gospel group News Of The World, before successfully auditioning for gay disco icon Sylvester in the mid-’70s and signing to Fantasy Records.

Dubbed Two Tons Of Fun, the ladies toured the world with Sylvester for several years, adding gospel fire to his disco grooves before inevitably branching out on their own.

The anthemic ‘It’s Raining Men’ made them international stars in their own right in 1982 when the outrageous hi-HRG disco juggernaut topped charts across the globe. Renamed The Weather Girls, disco hitmaker Paul Jabara tailored their debut album ‘Success’ to suit their outsize personalities, crafting a six-song mini-musical mixing soaring disco, extravagant Broadway-style orchestrations and campy humor.

The albums ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ and ‘The Weather Girls’ followed, seeing the duo expand their sound into electro-funk, gospel-laced ballads and dance-orientated pop, working with producers including Full Force (Lisa Lisa, James Brown), Reggie Lucas (Madonna, Stephanie Mills) and Richard Scher (Jennifer Holliday).

After her voice was infamously used uncredited on huge club hits by the likes of C+C Music Factory and Black Box, Martha decided to try her hand at a solo career, recording her debut – simply entitled ‘Martha Wash’ – in the early ’90s and being immediately embraced by clubland.

Martha’s first two solo releases – the club classics ‘Carry On’ and ‘Give It To You’ both topped Billboard’s dance charts, followed by the Top 10 ‘Runaround’, while the acclaimed album saw Wash join forces with the likes of Todd Terry, The Basement Boys, Brian Alexander Morgan and Masters At Work.

Entitled Carry On: The Deluxe Edition 1982-1992 this extensive 4CD box set showcases the entire Columbia Records catalogue of 80s disco/soul duo The Weather Girls plus Martha Wash’s glorious solo RCA debut.

Inclusive of 58 tracks, this first-of-its-kind box set spans all three of the duo’s Columbia albums plus Martha’s hugely successful solo debut, plus a massive 22 bonus tracks including rare single edits, extended versions, club mixes and more – many appearing for the first time on CD.

Disc 1: SUCCESS (Expanded Edition) + Bonus Tracks
1. Success
2. Hungry For Love
3. Dear Santa (Bring Me A Man This Christmas)
4. Hope
5. It’s Raining Men
6. I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair
7. Ladies Hot Line [Bonus Track]
8. Hope (Long Version)[Bonus Track]
9. It’s Raining Men (12″ Vocal Version) [Bonus Track]
10. Success (Larger Than Life Remix) [Bonus Track]
11. I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair (12″ Vocal Version) [Bonus Track]
12. It’s Raining Men (7” Vocal Version) [Bonus Track]
13. Dear Santa (Bring Me A Man This Christmas) Pt. 1 [Bonus Track]
14. It’s Raining Men / I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair (Special Version) [Bonus Track]

Featuring five US Top 30 dance hits, including the duo’s 1982 global smash debut ‘It’s Raining Men’ and Martha’s solo #1 club monsters ‘Carry On’ and ‘Give It To You,’ the first disc proved it was all fun and games, while it lasted, for Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes, better known as Two Tons of Fun.

The single It’s Raining Men was one of the better left-field hits of 1982, and it helped make their debut album a storming success, although it lacked either a suitable follow-up single or consistently strong material. But that is by-the-by, for there are still a fair number of cuts demonstrating how strong the women’s voices were and exploiting their gospel roots to pop-disco perfection.

As for some of bonus material now lovingly added, well, stands out to my ear are tracks such as the deliciously enlarged It’s Raining Men (12″ Vocal Version), the bombastic Success (Larger Than Life Remix), and both the adorable I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair (12″ Vocal Version) and the always soothing to hear, Dear Santa (Bring Me A Man This Christmas) Pt. 1.

Disc 2: BIG GIRLS DON’T CRY (Expanded Edition) + Bonus Tracks
1. Lock Me Up
2. Big Girls Don’t Cry
3. Well-A-Wiggy
4. No One Can Love You More Than Me
5. Down On The Corner
6. March
7. Laughter In The Rain
8. You Can Do It
9. Well-A-Wiggy (Extended Version) [Bonus Track]
10. No One Can Love You More Than Me (Extended Mix) [Bonus Track]
*11. Well-A-Wiggy (Dub Version) [Bonus Track]
*12. No One Can Love You More Than Me (Single Version) [Bonus Track]

The final Columbia vehicle for Martha Wash and Izora Redman-Armstead and things had soured for the duo with the label. They began as a novelty act, but were truly a gospel-tinged soul unit who could also score with the dance crowd. They never really were allowed to showcase their real personalities or styles, and by the time this album was issued, they were doing formula pop-soul and dance filler.

Not to say that the album doesn’t have its genuine poptastic and soulful highlights though, far from it, for tracks such as the titular Big Girls Don’t Cry and the tongue-in-cheek Well-A-Wiggy were brilliant dance floor gems, along with the emphatic You Can Do It.

Amongst the bonus tracks, the two clear stand outs for me are the free flowing One Can Love You More Than Me (Extended Mix) and the playful Well-A-Wiggy (Dub Version).

Disc 3: HE WEATHER GIRLS (Expanded Edition) + Bonus Tracks
1. Land Of The Believer
2. Love’s On The Way
3. Why Can’t We Show Our Love
4. Opposite Directions
5. Love You Like A Train
6. Worth My Weight In Love
7. Burn Me!
8. Something For Nothing
*9. The Land Of … (F.F. Believe In Beats Mix) [Bonus Track]
*10. Love You Like A Train (Choo-Choo Mix) (12″ Version) [Bonus Track]
*11. Land Of The Believer (Single Version) [Bonus Track]
*12. Love You Like A Train (7″ Version) [Bonus Track]
*13. Love You Like A Train (7″ Instrumental) [Bonus Track]
*14. Love You Like A Train (Dub Mix) [Bonus Track]

The third and final Weather Girls album was a mainstream buying/marketing disappointment, as it was evident that the major labels weren’t willing to take the duo of Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes seriously enough to get them capable producers and find them suitable material. Instead, they struggled through another collection of fun, spirited, loud and still disco-hued tracks, but a lot of it was clearly dealt the bad hand of being linked to some uninspired production and arrangements. Thus our lovely leads never got the kind of label support their late ex-boss received at Fantasy, and so the album wasn’t brought forth with the splash it fully deserved.

Tracks to still enjoy today are the rambunctious Burn Me!, the smooth groove found within both Love’s On The Way and Why Can’t We Show Our Love, with the best of the bonus tracks, for me, being the fantabulous Love You Like A Train (Choo-Choo Mix) (12″ Version).

Disc 4: MARTHA WASH (Expanded Edition) + Bonus Tracks
1. Someone Who Believes In You (Prelude)
2. So Whatcha Gonna Do
3. Give It To You
4. Runaround
5. Now That You’re Gone
6. Things We Do For Love
7. Just Us (Dancin’)
8. Leave A Light On
9. Carry On
10. Someone Who Believes In You
11. Hold On (Part I)
12. Hold On (Part II)
13. When It’s My Heart
14. Just Us (Singin’)
15. Carry On (Masters At Work 12″ Dance Mix) [Bonus Track]
16. Give It To You (Maurice’s 12″ Mix) [Bonus Track]
17. Runaround (Tee’s 12″ Mix) [Bonus Track]
18. Give It To You (Top 40 Version) [Bonus Track]

* first appearance on CD

The fourth and final disc showcased Martha Walsh’s self-titled debut solo album. By now, Walsh’s work with the Weather Girls and Black Box was so strong that one couldn’t help but greet this debut solo album with high expectations - perhaps so high that a generally enjoyable album came as a slight disappointment.

Anyone familiar with the big-voiced diva’s history couldn’t help but hope for a soul/disco/house extravaganza, and this album, for all its strong points, doesn’t fit that description; although it still packs a knock-out punch of some wonderful dance floor gems (such as Things We Do for Love, Leave a Light On and the soaring Carry On).

Sure, if I’m being dutifully honest, most of the tracks fall under the heading of decent, but not super outstanding and after hearing Wash belt it out on the Weather Girls’ It’s Raining Men and Black Box’s Everybody Everybody, it’s impossible to expect less than consistent excellence from her; as a devoted fan.

That all said, this album still has more going for it than most of the faceless, soundalike releases flooding the urban contemporary market in 1992, but Wash is capable of so much more, is what the take away here is (again, in my own humble opinion).

The stands out here include the bountiful So Whatcha Gonna Do and the beautiful Leave A Light On along with the two bonus tracks, Carry On (Masters At Work 12″ Dance Mix) and my own personal favorite, the scintillating Runaround (Tee’s 12″ Mix).

Official Purchase Link

Title - What You Stand To Lose [Vinyl LP]
Artist - Mercy Music

For those wishing to know, their brand new album What You Stand To Lose from Mercy Music is set to release on June 30th, 2023 via Double Helix Records/SBÄM Record.

“I like to describe Mercy Music as pop hooks with guitar solos,” says Scholz. “We fall somewhere in between Superdrag, Squeeze, Samiam, Jawbreaker, and Thin Lizzy.”

As for the music itself, Scholz reveals his hopes: “I want people to know they’re not alone in whatever they’re struggling with,” he thoughtfully says, “I hope they find comfort in the record the same way I do in the records I love.” Cooper adds, “When people listen to our new album, I want them to feel happy, sad, inspired, and depressed. Then I want them to feel happy again. That last part is critically important.”

The incomparable sound and energy of the Las Vegas three-piece Rock & Roll band Mercy Music is truly like capturing lightening in a bottle, as frontman Brendan Scholz’s unmatched ability to write catchy yet soulful rock songs combined with the band’s explosive live performances make them one of the clearest and most unique voices currently performing.

Scholz, as lead singer/songwriter and guitar prodigy, helms the trio with a raw force only matched by the poignant, self-aware honesty in his songwriting.

Beginning Mercy Music originally as a solo act, Scholz brought aboard long-time collaborator and unparalleled bassist Jarred Cooper whose enthusiasm both on and off the stage brings a quality to Mercy Music that can only be described as invigorating.

Finally, balancing the band with sharp skill and precision is drummer Michael McGuinness, a talent that shines while seeming perfectly at home in the group’s ferocious sound.

Side A:
1. Suddenly
2. Love You Need You
4. Believe in We
5. Undone
6. Fine

Side B:
7. Watch Me Drown
8. Found Out I’m Useless
9. What’s the Use
10. Total Nightmare
11. Waiting to Begin

Putting the vinyl on the turntable, dropping the needle, and stepping back, this explosive, propulsive, yet ardently-cultured new album from the Las Vegas punks opens on the powerful Suddenly and the encouragingly upbeat Love You Need You (a song about about coming to terms with the fact that the person you’re in love with is no longer in love with you) and then we get the free-wheeling REAL, the impassioned strength of Believe in We, before the rockingly symphonic Undone is brought forth.

Flipping the vinyl over, which is still one of my most favorite things to do, along next on this riveting new musical masterpiece (which was itself titled as so by singer/guitarist Scholz, due to all the many monumental changes in his personal life) is the resiliently frenetic Fine and the melodic rocker Watch Me Drown, and they are seamlessly backed by the rhythmical foot-tapper Found Out I’m Useless, the liberated What’s the Use, the album rounding out on the unfettered rock hipsway of Total Nightmare, coming to a close on the textured acoustic balladry of Waiting to Begin.

Mercy Music - Love You/Need You [Official Music Video]

Official Website

Mercy Music @ Facebook

Mercy Music @ Instagram

Mercy Music @ Twitter

Mercy Music @ YouTube

Title - A Company Sleeve [Translucent Blue Vinyl LP]
Artist - The Pretty Flowers

For those unaware, A Company Sleeve, the new full-length LP from The Pretty Flowers (Noah Green, guitar/vocals; Sam Tiger, bass/vocals); Jake Gideon, guitar/vocals; and Sean Johnson, drums), is coming out on July 14th, 2023 via Double Helix Records.

The four-piece indie rock band from Los Angeles, whose music has been described as hooky, heartfelt and literate, have influences that span more than a few decades of loud guitar indie and college rock, that include, but are not limited to, such bands as Guided By Voices, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, Superchunk and Teenage Fanclub.

Furthermore, since the release of their brilliant debut album Why Trains Crash, the band has played a lot of shows around their hometown and toured the west coast a few times also. Their songs have even been featured on two seasons of Showtime’s Shameless, season 2 of the CW’s Nancy Drew, Peacock TV’s The Resort, and most recently SyFy’s Resident Alien.

Side A:
1. Young Gray Enemies
2. Another Way To Lose
3. Hit Nothing
4. Baby Food
5. Bucket Beach
6. Agendaless

Side B:
7. Wildflowers
8. Honeylight
9. Doughboy Pool
10. Sit Right With You
11. The Long Con
12. Soon Enough Blues

Putting the vinyl LP on the turntable and this melodically exciting band open up their sophomore album with the vibrantly-hued Young Gray Enemies and the powerful, lean in rock of Another Way To Lose, and then back those up with the drum-led, ’60s-imbibed beauty Hit Nothing, the glamorously frenetic Baby Food (their first single, and which touches on the feeling of being overwhelmed with everyday life), before bringing us the low slung grunge-pop vibe of Bucket Beach and the veritably shimmering Agendaless.

Flipping the LP over, an LP that I should also mention has a first pressing on Translucent Blue (limited to 250) and there will also be a first pressing of an Opaque Blue (also limited to 250), continues onward with the tambourine-imbibed Wildflowers, the impassioned Honeylight, and then they bring forth the psych-tinged alt-rocker Doughboy Pool, the guitar-driven Sit Right With You, the album rounding out on the shimmering guitar work found within The Long Con, coming to a close on the countrified-twang of the mid-tempo Soon Enough Blues.

A Company Sleeve LP - Official Band Unwrapping Video

Official Purchase Link

The Pretty Flowers @ Facebook

The Pretty Flowers @ Instagram

The Pretty Flowers @ Twitter

The Pretty Flowers @ YouTube

Title - The Hot Toddies Jazz Band
Artist - The Hot Toddies Jazz Band

For those unaware, THE HOT TODDIES JAZZ BAND are a fun-loving hot jazz & swing band from NYC who have an eclectic mix of styles perfect for dancing, lindy hop, and good times!

The band has also quickly become one of the top bands on the swing scene in NYC, the birthplace of the dance, and perform locally as much as possible, and thus being a relatively unknown group founded in 2018, have still managed to lock in a resounding fan base that grows with each and every live performance.

Led by Grammy-nominated GABE TERRACCIANO (Turtle Island String Quartet, Avalon Jazz Band) and noted composer & producer PATRICK SOLURI (Prohibition Productions), the band features some of the top musicians in the swing & jazz worlds including JUSTIN POINDEXTER (Jazz at Lincoln Center), DAN LEVINSON (Mel Torme, Woody Allen, The Aviator, Boardwalk Empire), RON WILKINS (Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gilespie), plus noted vocalists QUEEN ESTHER (James “Blood” Ulmer), and HANNAH GILL (Postmodern Jukebox, Company XIV), as well as special guest pianist GORDON WEBSTER.

They have also released their eponymous new album, the self-titled The Hot Toddies Band, which contains 11 fan-favorite, fun-loving tracks imbibing the high-and-not-so-dry spirits of the Prohibition Era.

1. Digga Digga Do
2. Love Me or Leave Me
3. I Wan’na Be Like You
4. Kansas City
5. Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You
6. Kilowatt Stomp
7. Saint Louis Blues
8. Blue Drag
9. When I Get Low I get High
10. Mean To Me
11. I’m In The Mood for Love

On an album that lovingly celebrates the sparkling array of swinging vocal and big band numbers inspired by the legendary singers and composers of the era, such as Duke Ellington, Billy Holiday, Count Basie, and more, it opens on the classic, drum-led, foot tapper Digga Digga Doo (Duke Ellington and his Orchestra) and the low slung, veritably smoldering Billie Holiday cut Love Me or Leave Me and then proceeds to bring us a rather refreshing version of the joyous swing of I Wan’na Be Like You, then comes their rhythmic rendition of Fats Domino’s Kansas City and a delightful version of Nat King Cole’s dulcet Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You.

Up next is the album’s newest entry into the collection, and the only original work on display, the playful Kilowatt Stomp (created by the group’s violinist Gabe Terracciano) and that is in turn backed by the oldest track in the set, William C. Handy’s 1914 hit Saint Louis Blues, and with the album actually having begun its recordings process shortly after the group’s inception in 2019, but was interrupted by the pandemic (and thus resumed in 2022), we next get the melodically sculptured Blue Drag, which is itself backed by an enriched rendition of When I get Low I get High (Ella Fitzgerald), the album closing on Dean Martin’s lush Mean To Me and a transportive I’m In The Mood for Love (Julie London).

Official Website

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Title - Loving You
Artist - Bobbie Nelson & Amanda Shires

“’Loving You ‘is a reflection on the life and music of Bobbie Nelson,” says Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Amanda Shires.

Shires’ mission in making ‘Loving You ‘is to pay respect to the only woman she saw working in a band and pursuing a career as a sideman. “I first saw Bobbie playing when I was 16 at some festival in Texas where I grew up,” she explains. “Much of my path seemed possible because I saw a woman working and making a career of music at a young age, and that woman was Bobbie Nelson.”

Amanda and Bobbie got together in 2021 to record at Arlyn Studios in Austin, Texas – a facility co-owned and operated by Nelson’s son, Freddy Fletcher. The album ‘Loving You’ (out now via ATO Records) features songs Nelson and Shires played and treasured their entire lives – a few of Nelson’s favorites along with her own elegant solo piano title cut. The album would eventually trace Nelson’s musical story – and personal journey.

1. Waltz Across Texas
2. Always On My Mind
3. Old Fashioned Love
4. Summertime
5. Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground
6. Dream A Little Dream Of Me
7. Tempted And Tried
8. La Paloma
9. Loving You
10. Over The Rainbow

Opening on the ambitiously evoked Waltz Across Texas and the an absolutely breathtaking, veritably crystalline Always On My Mind, and they are followed by the upbeat and joyous Old Fashioned Love, a sumptuously reworked Summertime and then we get my own personal favorite song from the film Honeysuckle Rose, Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground.

A lovingly heartwarming Dream A Little Dream Of Me is along next is is itself backed seamlessly by the sterner fare of Tempted And Tried, the simply gorgeously free flowing hipsway within La Paloma, the album rounding out on some shimmering piano work within Loving You, closing on the orchestral-hued Over The Rainbow.

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Amanda Shires

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Title - Reflections
Artist - Fireborn

For those unaware, Fireborn is a German female-fronted Hard Rock band formerly known as Dislike Silence and Reflections (out now via DEKO Music) is their first album since changing their name.

For fans of Halestorm, Burning Witches, and, well, just classic rock and metal, in general, fronted by powerhouse singer Jenny, and rounded out by Dennis, Raphael, Flo and Chris, German Metal/Rock act Fireborn produce unique and timeless music with strong passion, expressive vocals, and defining hooks.

Indeed, despite her young age, the petite singer stands out with her hard to delicate voice, extensive vocal range, and incredible sovereignty on each and every one of these new tracks.

In 2019, Fireborn (still named DISLIKE SILENCE) played in the finals of the 37th German Rock and Pop Awards and took third place in the "Rock" category.

In winter 2021 the band visited the Little Creek Studio in Gelterkinden, Switzerland where this, their debut album, Reflections was recorded with producer Schmier (Destruction) and sound engineer V.O. Pulver (Destruction, Pro-Pain Burning Witches, The Order, Nervosa).

1. Young Heart Dies
2. As Long As I Love You
3. Angel In Need
4. Eye of A Hurricane
5. Deep Blue Water
6. Proud And Ashamed
7. Guide You Home
8. Pack Of Wolves
9. You Seem So Far
10. Ferryman
11. Punchline
12. Malicious Rose
13. Done With You
14. Set Off

Opening on the ambitiously fraught Young Heart Dies and the melodic rock of As Long As I Love You, they are followed by the impassioned Angel In Need, the emphatically-charged Eye of A Hurricane, the ariose rock-metal, and yet uproarious ballad Deep Blue Water, the metal grunge of Proud And Ashamed, and then comes the Poison-esque ballad Guide You Home.

The temp is turned back up again for the rambunctious Pack Of Wolves and the melodically rhythmic metal sound of You Seem So Far, and they are in turn backed by the fist-clenched devotion found within Ferryman, the emphatic Punchline, the brilliantly assertive Malicious Rose, the album rounding out on the thunderous duo of Done With You and the rocking foot-tapper Set Off.

Fireborn - Done With You (Official Video)

Official Website

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Title - The Golden Sèkèrè
Artist - Douyé

The Great American Songbook offers delightful lyrics and delicious melodies that have been recorded and performed by a plethora of singers. While some jazz vocalists since the ‘90s strayed from that straight-ahead path by covering pop tunes of the day and writing their own compositions, the standards have continued to serve as the vocal’s bedrock of jazz over the past decades.

However, the repetition sometimes takes the surprise out of the depth of the songs. Often an album of standards performed by the best vocal talent can sound predictable.

Enter the extraordinary Lagos, Nigeria-born, Los Angeles-based jazz vocalist Douyé who breathes new life into the tried-and-true standards on The Golden Sèkèrè —h er fifth album named after the beaded percussion instrument unique to her homeland.

She blends her polyrhythmic African heritage with the lyricism of the Western jazz world to create an astonishing fourteen song collection of sublime beauty and percussive festivity. It stands tall as a special font of creative innovation.

“I’ve seen thousands of people on YouTube sing these jazz standards, but so much of it feels inauthentic,” Douyé says. “Like my father taught me, I needed to connect with the spirit of each of the songs to understand them directly.”

1. Cherokee
2. Speak Low
3. The Very Thought of You
4. My Funny Valentine (feat. Sean Jones)
5. I’ve Got You Under My Skin
6. Fly Me To The Moon (feat. Lionel Loueke)
7. Afro Blue
8. It Don’t Mean A Thing
9. Green Dolphin Street
10. I’m Confessin That I Love You (feat. Lionel Loueke)
11. Key Largo
12. Azure
13. Devil May Care (feat. Buster Williams)
14. I’ve Got You Under My Skin

Opening on the richly warming Cherokee (her take on Ray Nobel’s classic bebop standard) and the more stringently impassioned Speak Low (the Kurt Weill gem), they are followed seamlessly by the sultry, low crawl balladry of The Very Thought of You, a smokey rendition of Rodgers and Hart’s My Funny Valentine, a luxuriant I’ve Got You Under My Skin, and then we get a transportive Fly Me To The Moon and a soulful Afro Blue.

Along next is the upright bass and drum-led, Duke Ellington finger-snapper It Don’t Mean A Thing and some gorgeous hipsway within Green Dolphin Street and they are in turn backed by the softly sculpted ballad I’m Confessin That I Love You, the atmospheric Key Largo, the fully-charged Ellington cut Azure, the music rounding out on the upright bass-fed, spiced by African percussion of Devil May Care, and then she brings a decadent, rich Nigerian culture to her own redo of I’ve Got You Under My Skin.

Douyé made this album to celebrate her heritage in culture and sounds. The Golden Sèkèrè is also a loving tribute to Douyé’s father Landy Youduba. Even though she started her career recording R&B music, she never forgot her father insisting that she sing jazz.

In her album liner notes, she writes about her father’s blessings when he told her, “Omo mi, you should never forget that you came from a background that is rich in culture. I want to encourage you to create an album that celebrates your talent and heritage. I know that God is with you every step of the way.”

Douyé - My Funny Valentine (Official Video)

Official Website

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Title - New Beginning
Artist - Nic Vardanega

For those unaware, New Beginning is the third album by Australian born guitarist/composer Nic Vardanega. A New York native for the past seven years, the leader’s record title evokes the inspiration that spawned during the conception period of the project.

Vardanega elaborates, “The notion of a new beginning seemed an appropriate theme for me at this time in my life. This record encapsulates the idea of a new beginning for all of us emerging from the pandemic, resuming our non-virtual lives and for me personally in becoming a father in 2022.”

The album comprises eight new compositions penned by Vardanega, performed as a trio alongside Ben Allison on bass and Allan Mednard on drums. “For a long time I have wanted to make a trio record as many of my favorite albums have been guitar, bass and drums trios. On my last two quartet records I pared down the ensemble to feature this instrumentation for a few tracks but for this project I was envisioning the whole record being dedicated to the three piece unit.”

The empathetic, adaptable and song based playing of the group weaves a rich tapestry of moods across the program’s duration and affords Vardanega the space as a composer and guitarist to deploy full command of his musical vision. “In many ways, I feel as though this record is the most personal I have made. These eight tunes serve as honest, distilled representations of my musical identity while having the rapport and versatility of the trio with Ben and Allan frees me to shape the tunes how I want, taking the music in any direction.”

1. New Beginning
2. Cardenas
3. Side Effects
4. Looking Back
5. Inner Episode
6. Glass Moon
7. Summers
8. M’s Lullaby

Opening on the veritably shimmer title track New Beginning and the more methodically strident Cardenas, along next is the fulgent Side Effects and the soulfully cinematic Looking Back.

Up next is the forthright, playfully petulant Inner Episode and that is in turn backed by the richly warm hipsway of Glass Moon, the album rounding out on the upbeat Summers, closing on the languishing beauty found within M’s Lullaby.

Players, Instruments:
Nic Vardanega - guitar and compositions
Ben Allison - bass
Allan Mednard - drums

Official Purchase Link

Official Website

Title - This Could Be the Start
Artist - Linda Purl

Born in Connecticut, Linda Purl actually grew up in Japan, becoming the only foreigner to have trained at the Toho Geino Academy. Her studies continued at Neighborhood Playhouse and Lee Strasberg Institute and she was also the Founding Director of the California International Theatre Festival.

Purl currently tours with her solo concerts Midnight Caravan – Celebrating the Great Ladies of the Glamorous Nightclub Era and Up Jumped Spring. Her solo albums have included Alone Together, Out of this World — Live Midnight Caravan, Up Jumped Spring and the just-released This Could Be The Start (releasing August 25th, 2023).

Past concert venue appearances have included Lincoln Center Jazz, Feinstein’s in NY, Naples Philharmonic, Catalina Jazz Club in LA, Crazy Coqs in London, Club Raye in Paris and Satin Doll in Tokyo.

1. This Could Be the Start of Something Big
2. I’m in the Mood For Love
3. Let’s Get Lost
4. Blue Moon
5. Dream Dancing
6. Let Me Down Easy
7. Live Alone and Like It
8. Two Hearts (Lawns)
9. How High the Moon
10. Not While I’m Around
11. I Love Being Here With You
12. Wrap Your Troubles (in Dreams)

Purl’s subtly smooth vocals open this new recording with the titular This Could Be the Start of Something Big, and then we get the relaxing I’m in the Mood For Love, the romantic finger-snapper Let’s Get Lost, the simply gorgeous Blue Moon, a luxuriant Dream Dancing and then comes a soulful rendition of the fantastic Let Me Down Easy.

She continues to pay homage to the style of the classic singers, all whilst putting her own unique spin on things, with the free flowing elegance of Live Alone and Like It and the beautifully controlled Two Hearts (Lawns), and they are in turn backed by the vibrant How High the Moon, a deliberately stirring Not While I’m Around, the recording coming to a close on a simply sensational I Love Being Here With You and the low slung swing within Wrap Your Troubles (in Dreams).

Longtime collaborators, music director Tedd Firth and vocalist Purl pair up again for their fourth album, This Could Be the Start. The tunes collectively explore what happens when you stand on the edge and take the leap.

Things go right, things go wrong too, love awakens, deepens, is lost, and yet is inevitable. Together with master musicians David Finck, Ray Marchica and Nelson Rangeli, This Could Be the Start is sure to get you started!

Official Website

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Title - The Same Changes, Vol. II
Artist - Connor O’Neill

For those not in the know, Connor O’Neill, a leading guitarist, composer, and producer from Philadelphia, is delighted to announce the release of his new album, The Same Changes, Vol II. The upcoming album follows The Same Changes, Vol I, a compelling album with vivid compositions and arrangements.

Connor O’Neill is a Philadelphia-based guitarist, composer, and producer who is influencing the city’s thriving creative music scene. As a skilled sound engineer and music educator, his contributions extend beyond performance into shaping the musical landscape of Philadelphia.

As a celebrated graduate of the University of the Arts, O’Neill, who holds a master’s degree in jazz studies, is known for his unique blend of musical creativity. He also has an undergraduate degree from the same institution and is a recipient of the School of Music Jazz Award and the Catherine T. Quaile Memorial Guitar Award in 2017.

Building upon the success of the previous volume, The Same Changes, Vol II, set to be released on August 26th, 2023, reflects O’Neill’s life experiences and thoughts through periods of doubt, insecurity, and depression.

Despite these challenging themes, O’Neill states, I believe that negative experiences can be a forging fire to make us better people and better artists. He hopes that his music will provide listeners with a renewed sense of purpose and direction, becoming a solace during times of uncertainty.

As a self-released album, The Same Changes, Vol II is a testament to O’Neill’s dedication and commitment to his craft. The album single Early Departure will be pre-released on July 15th, 2023, offering a sneak peek into the soulful journey that awaits listeners in the full album.

1. Disordinance (6:16)
2. Another Moment Reconciled (6:21)
3. Gears (6:24)
4. Early Departure (6:02)
5. Singularity (6:24)
6. Jade (9:50)

The album opens on the aching yearn within Disordinance and the drum-led, yet mellowed and veritably shimmering Another Moment Reconciled, before then bringing us the alto-sax veined Gears (courtesy of Mervin Toussaint), the soulful, folk-hued Early Departure (complete with vocals from Jessica Cantone), the recording rounding out on the cascading Singularity (featuring Micah Graves on piano), coming to a mighty close on the near ten minute, ornately sculpted Jade.

Like the Same Changes, Vol I, this album is a collection of stories — my thoughts, experiences, and reflections manifested as moments in time O’Neill explains. However, Vol II gives the listener a chance to connect specifically with experiences in my life that have tested me; moments of depression, doubt, and insecurity.

I believe that “negative” experiences can be a forging fire to make us better people and better artists. The stories told in these songs helped give me purpose and direction, and my main goal is that they help provide the listener with a new sense of purpose and confidence, and that they can come back to them in times of doubt.

In addition to his work as a performer and producer, O’Neill has been teaching guitar, music theory, jazz history, improvisation, and musicianship privately since 2014, further enriching the Philadelphia music scene.

His pedagogical influence extends to Mobile Music Philly and the New Jersey School of Music in Medford since 2021, with students ranging in age from 6 to 75.

Whether you are a seasoned jazz enthusiast or a newcomer to the genre, The Same Changes, Vol II promises to be an enchanting and uplifting experience, reflecting O’Neill’s musical prowess and emotional depth.

Musicians, Instruments:
Connor O’Neill on guitar
Alex Delcourt on bass
Steven Perry on the drum set
Morgan Walbridge on vibraphone (track 1, 2, 3, 6)
Mervin Toussaint on alto saxophone (track 3)
Jessica Cantone on voice (track 4)
Micah Graves on piano (track 5)

Official Website

Connor O’Neill @ Facebook

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Connor O’Neill @ Bandcamp

Connor O’Neill @ Soundcloud

Title - High Hopes
Artist - Kane Kalas

For those not in the know, Kane Kalas is a classically trained crooner. His style evokes music’s Golden Age with a contemporary twist. In addition to being a recording artist, Kane is also recognized as one of the highest earning professional poker players in the world.

Furthermore, Kane is a mainstay at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, where it has become a tradition for him to sing the Star-Spangled Banner each season at the Philadelphia Phillies’ home opener and when they make the playoffs.

Kane Kalas’ debut album, High Hopes is a tribute to his late father, Phillies’ HOF broadcaster, Harry Kalas. Here, Kane offers a new and refreshing take on some of the music’s most celebrated standards.

1. Take Me Out to the Ballgame
2. All of Me
3. I’ve Never Been in Love Before
4. On the Way to Cape May
5. Luck Be a Lady
6. French Foreign Legion
7. This is the Moment
8. Guys and Dolls
9. On the Street Where You Live
10. High Hopes
11. You Make Me Feel So Young
12. If Ever I Would Leave You
13. The Way You Look Tonight
14. Fugue for Tinhorns
15. Eagles’ Victory Song
16. Edelweiss
17. Bridge Over Troubled Water
18. Goodnight My Someone

Opening on the piano-led tribute Take Me Out to the Ballgame and the sparkling All of Me and they are followed by the dulcet ballad I’ve Never Been in Love Before, the mandolin-hued On the Way to Cape May, the strident Luck Be a Lady, the military-styled French Foreign Legion, the sweeping This is the Moment, the perky, playful Guys and Dolls and then comes the finger-snapper On the Street Where You Live.

Along next is the animated High Hopes and the dashing You Make Me Feel So Young and they are in turn backed by the Latin swing found within If Ever I Would Leave You, the lush The Way You Look Tonight, the harmonized duet Fugue for Tinhorns, the impassioned Eagles’ Victory Song, a dutiful Edelweiss, the recording rounding out on a most beautiful Bridge Over Troubled Water and a pleasurable Goodnight My Someone.

What is the High Hopes album? [Official Video]

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Title - Edwin Alley
Artist - Doug MacDonald Trio

For those not in the know, the great straight ahead jazz guitarist Doug MacDonald has certainly been prolific throughout his career. Since 2017 he has led such albums as California Quartet, Organisms, Mid-Century Modern, Jazz Marathon 4, Live in Hawaii, Toluca Lake Jazz, Serenade To Highland Park, Overtones and Big Band Extravaganza, recording in a wide variety of settings with some of Southern California’s finest musicians.

His newest release, Edwin Alley (due out August 1st, 2023), is a follow-up to Serenade To Highland Park. While Serenade mostly featured the trio of MacDonald, Mike Flick on bass, and drummer Paul Kreibich performing standards along with a handful of the guitarist’s originals, Edwin Alley has MacDonald, Flick and drummer Kendall Kay interpreting eight of MacDonald’s colorful compositions plus a lone standard.

1. Zoot And Pepper (3:34)
2. Eyow / Is This It (4:46)
3. Benedetto’s Theme (5:06)
4. Three For Two (3:49)
5. Groove Blues (2:35)
6. J7 (4:11)
7. Rapini (4:13)
8. Tuned Out (3:57)
9. You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To (4:16)

Opening on the fulgent Zoot And Pepper (a tribute to Zoot Sims and Pepper Adams) and the soulful beauty within Eyow / Is This It they are followed by the upright bass-led smoothness of Benedetto’s Theme (dedicated to guitar designer Robert Benedetto) and the quietly playful Three For Two.

Along next is the upbeat and joyful Groove Blues (where MacDonald showcases his expertise on a Portuguese guitar called the Coimbra) and the gently frenetic J7 and they are in turn backed by the genuine finger snapper/foot tapper Rapini, the album rounding out on the furtive rhythms within Tuned Out, closing on the one cover, the swinging jazz standard You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To.

Throughout this easily enjoyable outing, the trio often plays as one. Their experience in working with each other is obvious and results in often-telepathic interplay. While MacDonald is the lead voice, Flick and Kay have their share of solo space and prove to be both skilled improvisers and masterful accompanists.

Musicians: Doug MacDonald: Guitar, Coimbra (Portuguese guitar) on Groove Blues, Mike Flick: Bass, Kendall Kay: Drums

Official Website

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Title - Boots in Place
Artist - Floki Sessions

Just as the bold Viking Flóki followed the path of a raven to discover Iceland over a thousand years ago, the Floki Studio’s Floki Sessions create a platform for renowned musical artists around the world to share the inspiration, soul, and energy of Iceland. The sessions are recorded at the Floki Studio’s brand-new destination studio in the Fljót Valley.

Following up The New Mastersounds’ acclaimed 2022 album The Deplar Effect, the latest installment Floki Sessions: Boots in Place finds revered funk contemporaries George Porter, Jr., Eddie Roberts, Robert Walter and Nikki Glaspie embarking on a studio retreat surrounded by the striking natural beauty of the Icelandic coastline and state-of-the-art recording equipment.

1. Boots in Place (4:15) (feat.Erica Falls)
2. Mardi Gras Day (4:49) (feat. Erica Falls, Donald Harrison)
3. Black Apple (3:19)
4. Everyone & Everything (4:36) (feat. Lamar Williams, Jr.)
5. Jardim (4:45) (feat. GreenTTea)
6. Fall Right In (3:24) (feat. Son Little)
7. Mud Flap (3:51)
8. Peace (4:09) (feat. Tierinii Jackson)
9. Jazzamatazz (4:24)
10. Pep Squad (2:40)

Opening on the tremendously groovy, ’70s blaxploitation-hued flashback Boots in Place (and which also features New Orleans mainstay vocalist Erica Fall)and the tremendously powerful Mardi Gras Day, they are followed by the soulful funk rhythms within Black Apple, the light fare of the harmonious R&B within Everyone & Everything (featuring vocalist Lamar Williams, Jr.), and then comes the luxuriant Jardim (sung by promising Chicago vocalist GreenTTea).

Along next is the uproarious, organ-imbibed Fall Right In (which features indie-soul artists Son Little) and the organ continues onward throughout the glorious Mud Flap, before we are then treated to the beautiful ballad Peace (featuring Tierinii Jackson of Southern Avenue), the album rounding out on the funky drum-led grooved Jazzamatazz (the title itself a direct nod to Guru’s iconic 1993 album), coming to a close on the frenetically-charged Pep Squad.

Floki Sessions - Boots In Place [Official Video]

Official Purchase Link

Title - Spirit of 3 Spirit of 4
Artist - Jon Menges

The Jon Menges Group is a mainstream jazz ensemble that performs various styles of standards, jazz classics, and original tunes. The group has played in many cafes, bars, restaurants, bookstores, and for private functions in the New York area. Also providing various styles of swing and Latin music, the group can perform as a trio on up.

A trumpeter, composer, arranger, and music copyist, Jon Menges’s creative and talented musical programs delighted the audiences in the Chicago area for many years. Jon has performed with such great artists as Cab Calloway, Lou Rawls, Neil Sadaka, Leslie Uggams, Joel Gray, Jim Nabors, Freddie Cole, and Jon Faddis.

As well as having traveled all over the world playing shows on cruise ships, Jon toured the country with the orchestras of Russ Morgan and Guy Lombardo. Jon also did a U.S. tour of the Broadway show Copacobana. Today, Jon resides and freelances in the New York City area as well as teaching music in Connecticut.

Jon Menges is thrilled to announce the release of his latest album, Spirit of 3, Spirit of 4, releasing on July 28th, 2023. True to its title, the album showcases two ensembles - one a trio, the other a quartet - presenting an eclectic collection of twelve Menges compositions that capture the essence of the group’s musical versatility.

Spirit of 3 Trio:
1. Anchor in the Path
2. Stairs
3. Tree of Hope
4. Angelynne
5. Turning Point
6. Walk into My Heart

The trio open on the stirring, Latin-grooved and rhythmic foot tapper Anchor in the Path and the playfully earnest Stairs and then proceeds to bring us the absorbing swing within Tree of Hope, the impassioned ballad Angelynne (dedicated to his daughter, and then come both the Celtic-hued, up-tempo Turning Point and the touching waltz Walk into My Heart (dedicated to his son).

Spirit of 4 Quartet:
7. Coqui
8. Focus
9. Heartbreak
10. Mina Buta
11. The Spirit Within
12. Somethin’

The quartet then themselves open with a track wholly inspired by the unique call of the coqui frog, Coqui and the up-tempo swing of Focus and then we get delivered the emotive ballad Heartbreak, the mellow, Latin-imbibed Mina Buta (which, interestingly enough, gets its name from the words his son uttered when he first learned to talk), the recording rounding out on the low slung swing of The Spirit Within, coming to a close on the quietly rambunctious, yet swing-hued Somethin’.

Spirit of 3, Spirit of 4 represents a fascinating evolution of the Jon Menges ensembles, blending personal narratives with diverse musical styles. The album is a testament to Menges’ ability to weave intricate musical stories while honoring the rich traditions of jazz.

Spirit of 3 Trio Musicians:
Jon Menges - trumpet, flugelhorn
Pete McCann - guitar
Evan Gregor - bass

Spirit of 4 Quartet:
Jon Menges - trumpet, flugelhorn
Nathan Childers - tenor and soprano sax
Joe Fitzgerald - bass
Robert Weiss

Official Website

Jon Menges @ Facebook

Title - Bossas and Boleros
Artist - Gabriel Espinosa

Gabriel Espinosa was born in Merida, Mexico in 1952. His love of music began at a very young age. With the help of his mother he began playing the guitar at the age of six. By the age of fourteen, along with his brothers Victor and Patricio, Gabriel performed with their group Los Deltons, where he played bass guitar.

His education brought him to the United States and in 2018 he became a citizen of both countries. “Since I lived there until I turned 23, my musical roots come from Mexico. When I came to the United States I studied in three different institutions, and I have three degrees.”

After years of studies and work, this persistent and hard-working musician ended up with a bachelor’s in arts from Central College in Pella, a master’s degree in jazz from the University of North Texas, and a graduate degree in arrangements from the prestigious Berkley College of Music in Boston.

He emphasizes that being exposed to music in the two countries gave him the knowledge and inspiration to create his unique hybrid style of music, making him a passionate instrumentalist in diverse rhythms.

“The title of my new album Bossas and Boleros honors the music I grew up with as a teenager in Yucatan, Mexico in the 60s,” he reveals. “I was very influenced by the music of Yucatecan composer Armando Manzanero as well as the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Burt Bacharach. The music I write today is inspired by those styles of music which led to the title Bossas and Boleros.”

1. New Year (feat. Kim Narazian)
2. Amelia (feat. Kim Narazian)
3. Mi Jarana (feat. Kim Narazian & Anat Cohen)
4. Aqui Estoy Yo (feat. Fred Hersch)
5. Sing (feat. New York Voices)
6. First Responders (feat. Kim Narazian)
7. Pa Eugenio (feat. Kim Narazian)
8. Nosotros (feat. Gerardo Flores)
9. 22 (feat. Kim Narazian)
10. No Me Platiques Mas

On his fourth ZOHO solo release, composer/singer/guitarist Gabriel Espinosa celebrates the Bossa and Bolero styles he grew up with in Yucatan by opening with the dulcet-styled New Year (which is just one track to feature Kim Narazian) and the veritably shimmering Amelia and then follows those up with the late night, smokey jazz club ambiance of Mi Jarana (which features both Narazian and Anat Cohen), the impassioned Aqui Estoy Yo (featuring Fred Hersch on piano) and then the melodically embracing Sing (featuring New York Voices).

Along next on this mightily fine album is the free flowing, soulful First Responders and the deeply slung Pa Eugenio and they are in turn backed by the stirring Nosotros (featuring Gerardo Flores), the upbeat and joyously-flavored 22, the recording closing out on the yearningly heartfelt No Me Platiques Mas.

Taking an in-depth look into a few of the songs, Gabriel explains the meaning of some of them: “New Year is a Bossa Nova composition that features the beautiful colors of the trumpet of Jim Seeley and the trombone of Jay Ashby with the voices sharing the melody. I wrote this in honor of the year 2021 and the opportunity it brought of a new beginning after the difficult year 2020 around the world.”

“Amelia, well, my niece Cecilia had twins in 2019, and tragically lost one of the babies, Amelia, at 27 weeks. I was inspired to write this composition shortly thereafter. Kim Nazarian wrote the lyrics to this composition inspired by and dedicated to the memory of Amelia. Kim also does a beautiful job singing the song.”

“Mi Jarana. The Jarana is a traditional dance and musical style of Yucatan, Mexico. The Jarana meter can be in 6/8 or in 3/4. I invited the brilliant clarinet player Anat Cohen to join me on this track as well as Cris Alcocer, a percussion player from Yucatan who brought together the magical feeling of the Jarana to life. This is our interpretation of the Jarana.”

“As for Aquí Estoy Yo, I first heard this beautiful song performed by Mexican singer Jose Jose with an incredible arrangement by Clare Fischer. I always envisioned recording this song only with piano & voice. I was fortunate enough to have the amazing pianist Fred Hersch along with my vocals. This song was written by a friend of mine, Memo Ruiz.”

“As for Sing, I was twenty years old when I first heard the classic 1973 recording by the Carpenters. I wrote an instrumental arrangement & my friend Jeremy Fox wrote an arrangement for vocal jazz quartet. Jeremy’s arrangement was so amazing I had to ask my friends, The New York Voices, to record it.”

Official Website

Gabriel Espinosa @ Facebook

Title - From The Vault: Notes For The Future
Artist - Todd Cochran

Todd Cochran is an American pianist, composer, keyboardist, electronic musician, and conceptual artist. Early in his career, he was also professionally known as Bayeté. Cochran started his career as a teenager with saxophonist John Handy. Two years later, he joined vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson’s Quartet and made his jazz recording debut, composing and performing on a benchmark album for Hutcherson, “Head On” (Blue Note Records).

Cochran’s first solo project, “Worlds Around the Sun,” became a #1 jazz album. From the mid-1970s forward, Todd has experimented with and incorporated synthesizers, electronic and mixed-media concepts in his creative projects while collaborating with a wide range of artists in the genres of jazz, art rock, pop, R&B, and twenty-first-century classical.

In the ’70s, Todd released two albums on Prestige Records. He was the keyboardist, principal composer, and lead singer of Automatic Man from 1976–1978 which also featured drummer Michael Shrieve and guitarist Pat Thrall. He was also a member of Fuse One, an all-star coalition of jazz musicians who released two albums on CTI Records in the ’80s. The shortlist of his collaborations includes Peter Gabriel, Joan Armatrading, Maya Angelou, and Stewart Copeland.

His brand new album, From The Vault: Notes For The Future was released this past June 23rd, 2023 via Blue Buddha Productions and features 10 newly-crafted tracks that are sure to awaken your spiritual inner being from any slumber that it might have fallen into these past few years.

1. Painted by the Sun
2. In You I See Endless Memories
3. Isms Prisms
4. Transparencies
5. We Make Two. Two Make We
6. Eye Dreaming
7. Moon Glow
8. Hymns For the Hidden People
9. The Spinning Circle
10. Inseparable

Opening on the sternly wistful, militarily-hued Painted by the Sun and the plaintive, yet impassioned In You I See Endless Memories, they are both followed by the shimmering Isms Prisms, the reflective Transparencies, and then comes the upbeat, free flowing and quietly frenetic, synth-fed jazz of We Make Two. Two Make We.

Along next is the deliciously sculpted Eye Dreaming and the stoic, at times ethereal, yet lovingly Eastern-imbibed Moon Glow, and they are in turn backed by the delicate ambiance that surrounds Hymns For the Hidden People, the recording rounding out on the aptly-titled The Spinning Circle, closing on the perpetual motion within Inseparable.

“Notes for the future are the “imagined sometime in the past” tropes of a storyteller. Freed from everyday “isms” of convention and released from the symbolic containment of the vault, the music is an allegorical exploration in futurism, Cochran explains.

“The stream running throughout the musical narrative is a speculative commentary about our human search for meaning – and we’re reminded that as a version of our ancestors’ vision, this quest never ends.”

“From The Vault is structured around a sequence of recurring themes and develops as an unfolding tour of references, hints, and clues. Moving from one perspective to another, we connect with how our planet is perpetually in a state of seeking solutions. Within the soundscape, without words, an underlying language is speaking. Nature evolves for the sum of us, not the few. We are in a continual state of becoming. We are connected. Love is passed along, as is happiness.”

“Nevertheless, expressly for the listener, an implied sense of reasoning encourages us to feel free and let go of all things familiar. And then, “over there” in the distance, we get a passing glimpse of the sacred structure.”

Official Purchase Link

Official Website

Todd Cochran @ Facebook

Todd Cochran @ Instagram

Todd Cochran @ Spotify

Todd Cochran @ YouTube

Todd Cochran @ Twitter

Title - The Reunion Concert Live
Artist - Sandra Booker & The New Trio

Jazz vocalist Sandra Booker takes the first courageous step towards reclaiming her life after surviving sexual assault and a life-threatening cancer battle, releasing The Reunion Concert Live on July 14th, 2023 in what is the first in a series of new projects for her.

Sometimes the best way to move forward is to go back. For jazz singer-songwriter Sandra Booker, she’s ready to pick up exactly where she left off eight years ago when she recorded a live album with her then band, The New Trio.

Releasing the album, “The Reunion Concert Live from Pasadena Conservatory of Music: Barrett Hall,” this month is a monumental step forward for Booker after enduring a traumatizing eight years that include sexual assault and a life-threatening cancer bout, which all combined to put a halt on her once promising performing, recording and touring career.

The 2015 concert showcasing Booker elegantly singing and astutely scatting a set of standards and a few of her original storytelling compositions took place several months after she was sexually assaulted by a musician she knew and trusted. Still numb and traumatized, Booker was determined that the show - and the recording - must go on.

“Producing that show was such a labor of love because I was still reeling from the assault in silence but determined not to let it take away my passion for music and the joy I knew it gave to others,” says Booker.

A year after the Pasadena concert, Booker was diagnosed with bladder cancer, a diagnosis she believes came as a direct result of the sexual trauma she endured. The assault awoke memories of past childhood abuse. The lengthy cancer battle that ensued became the primary focus of Booker’s existence for six years.

The gifted songbird to whom five-time Grammy winner, six-time Academy Awards nominee and four-time Emmy nominee Lalo Schifrin – the legend who wrote the liner notes for “The Reunion Concert Live from Pasadena Conservatory of Music: Barrett Hall” - calls one of his two favorite jazz vocalists was silenced over these years when all she wanted to do was sing and entertain.

Last fall, after no longer showing signs of disease, Booker didn’t know where or how to begin her comeback. But reading a timely post on social media about creating a comeback changed that. In those words, Booker saw a path towards getting back to doing what she loved. It meant going back to when life as she knew it came to a halt.

Indeed, it meant finally releasing the recording she intended to release eight years ago. She believes releasing the collection is pivotal to resuming her life, restoring her reputation and rebuilding her brand.

1. Over and Over Again
2. In A Sentimental Mood
3. My Ship
4. Black Coffee
5. It Could Happen to You
6. What Made God?
7. But Not for Me
8. Eddie
9. The Song is You

Opening on the smooth as silk Over and Over Again and the velvet textured In A Sentimental Mood, and after a brief introduction and thanks, they are followed by the impassioned My Ship (a song written for the 1941 Broadway musical Lady in the Dark), a story of love and what it can do to you, the bluesy Sonny Burke cut Black Coffee, and then comes the perky, upright bass-led ditty It Could Happen to You.

Along next is the oh-so deliciously sculpted, soft shuffle within What Made God? which is in turn backed seamlessly by her playful, precocious even take on But Not for Me, the live recording rounding out with Sandra introducing herself as a Creole girl from New Orleans and telling the audience if they wanted to get up and dance she wouldn’t stop them, before bringing us the melodic urban country music track Eddie, coming to a righteous close on the joyously frenetic The Song is You.

“I feel it is time to release this project to the world and get it off of my heart and spirit. I’m proud of the work and due to health challenges that nearly took my life, time is now of the essence. I have had a rough life but I’m not a victim. I’ve built my life on speaking the truth and being genuine. I love the person I have chosen to be, and I search for the good in myself. I am determined not to become like the people who have harmed me.”

“Facing my mortality gave me the resilience and motivation to do that and whatever is left of my life is dedicated to being the best I can be. Music is medicine to me, life is for living, and reclaiming that part of my life means everything to me,” says Booker defiantly.

“The album is a love letter to myself and chronicles my ups and downs of falling in love, being betrayed by it, and finding the hope to love again. It explores the perils of unrequited love, the dream of reunion and reconciliation, and the bitter disappointment of knowing that sometimes the love we wanted will never come to fruition. It touches on family and friendship, and the psychological and emotional challenges of losing those bonds.”

“At its core, this album is about love in its various manifestations. I wanted to musically express the highs and lows of realizing the only love we can surely rely on is the love we create and nurture within ourselves,” adds Booker, who was accompanied by Tamir Hendelman (piano), Robert Perkins (drums), Dave Robaire (upright bass) and Steve Cotter (guitar).

Official Website

Sandra Booker @ Facebook

Sandra Booker @ Soundcloud

Sandra Booker @ YouTube

Title - Between Two Worlds
Artist - Terell Stafford

When trumpeter/composer Terell Stafford brought his quartet to the Village Vanguard in July of 2020, the Victor Lewis composition Between Two Worlds took on a profound resonance.

It was easy to understand why from just one glance out into the audience – or lack thereof. This was the height of the pandemic, and the iconic room was empty save for four camera people broadcasting to an equally isolated livestream audience, his band mates hidden behind face masks.

“It really impacted me emotionally and spiritually,” the trumpeter recalls. “Driving into an empty city with no traffic to make music at a time when the world was shut down was mind blowing to me.”

That purgatorial summer is still fresh in all of our minds; months spent hovering between sickness and health, work and stasis, confinement and cautious freedom. The experience led Stafford to ponder the many ways that his life and career have necessitated juggling the demands of two different worlds at once.

Stafford’s stunning new album, Between Two Worlds, is his emotional and wide-ranging response, featuring an all-star band of longtime collaborators: saxophonist Tim Warfield, pianist Bruce Barth, bassist David Wong, drummer Johnathan Blake, and percussionist Alex Acuña.

Due out August 18th, 2023 via Le Coq Records, Between Two Worlds vividly depicts the many parallel lives Stafford has managed to balance. There’s the age-old dilemma of domestic versus professional life, for one. Stafford is a husband and father with a young daughter at home whose success translates into extended stints on the road.

As devastating as the pandemic was to him as an artist, it offered a welcome opportunity to reconnect with his loved ones on a profound level.

1. Between Two Worlds
2. Great Is Thy Faithfulness
3. Mi a Mia
4. Two Hearts As One
5. Room 208
6. Blood Count
7. Manaus at Dusk
8. You Taught My Heart To Sing
9. Wruth’s Blues

Opening on the vibrant Between Two Worlds and the rhythmically enchanting musical escape within Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Stafford and company next bring us the gently fervent Mi a Mia, the ornate gossamer of the aching ballad Two Hearts As One, and then comes the spirited Room 208.

One of my own personal favorites from this splendid new album is along next in the form of the languishing Blood Count and that is itself backed by the finger-snapping, foot-tapping Manaus at Dusk, the new recording rounding out with the sweepingly glamorous ballad You Taught My Heart To Sing, coming to a close on the enthusiastic Wruth’s Blues.

“I got to know my family,” Stafford says frankly. “I got two years to really get to know my daughter and to establish a real relationship. Before the pandemic working was just part of my DNA. I would just accept everything and make it work. Now I make sure that everything I say ‘yes’ to benefits my family in some way.”

Then there are the myriad ways in which Stafford’s career forces him to play dual roles: leader and sideman, musician and educator – and within the latter, as Chair of Instrumental Studies and Director of Jazz Studies at Temple University, it means splitting the difference between teacher and administrator.

The identities only multiply once you delve deeper into his musical life. Jazz and classical have been parallel disciplines since he picked up the trumpet, sometimes co-existing uneasily.

Zoom into the jazz realm alone, and he’s performed in a variety of styles. At the time he was putting the finishing touches on Between Two Worlds, Stafford had recently performed with bebop master Charles McPherson and recorded with Latin jazz bassist Carlos Henriquez – just one example of the stylistic shifts Stafford makes on a regular basis.

Between Two Worlds is the result of Stafford’s reexamination of these conundrums, and it speaks to his gifts as a leader that he’s able to reconcile so many of them in such spirited fashion. It helps that he’s joined by several musicians with whom he shares deep and longstanding relationships: Warfield is the Bird to his Diz, while Barth is a constant in Stafford’s bands and Wong shares the stage with him every Monday as part of the renowned Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.

All three are also faculty members at Temple. Blake is one of the first drummers that Stafford ever played with in Philly. Stafford refers to all of them, not lightly, as “family.”

Official Website

Terell Stafford @ Facebook

Terell Stafford @ Twitter

Title - Aftermath / Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass)
Artist - Rolling Stones

ABKCO Records reissued the US version of the seminal 1966 album Aftermath by The Rolling Stones on vinyl at the very end of March, kicking off the label’s enormous undertaking of getting 16 titles from the legendary rock band’s back catalog back in print in their original format.

Throughout the remainder of the year and into early 2024, US and UK versions of albums recorded between 1963 and 1970, largely by the original Jagger/Richards/Jones/Watts/Wyman lineup, will find their way onto 180-gram vinyl.

Some of these titles, including their debut live album Got Live If You Want It!, Between The Buttons (US) and the aforementioned Aftermath (US), have been out-of-print as stand-alone vinyl records for the past 37 years.

During the 1960s, it was customary for album release versions to differ depending on the territory in which they were released and this was the case with The Rolling Stones in that era, their UK label, Decca Records, and US label, London Records, had separate schedules, often utilizing different cover art and different tune stacks for a given title.

In the case of Aftermath, the first Stones album containing only original Jagger/Richards compositions, Americans were treated to the groundbreaking hit “Paint It, Black” kicking off side 1, taking the place of “Mother’s Little Helper” (and sleeve art featuring David Bailey’s haunting color photograph of the band members with faces blurred) on the UK version.

April 28th, 2023 saw the reissue of their 1967 opus Between The Buttons (US) which, despite utilizing near-identical cover art as its British counterpart, has the distinction of containing the number one hit “Ruby Tuesday” and the controversial “Let’s Spend the Night Together.”

After this, a flurry of collections will be reissued, including the UK and US versions of The Rolling Stones first hits compilation Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass) on June 9th and June 16th respectively.

This is followed on June 16th by the US-only release Flowers (1967), the band’s first official rarities collection Metamorphosis will get its own vinyl reissue on July 14th, and then come September 15th, both the US and UK versions of Out Of Our Heads (1965) will be reissued.

December 1st will then see the reissue of the aptly titled sophomore UK album The Rolling Stones No. 2 (1965), as well as December’s Children (and Everybody’s) (1965), along with Got Live If You Want It! (1966) once again seeing the light of day.

Both originally released in 1964, ABKCO plans on vinyl reissues for the debut US album (England’s Newest Hit Makers) on October 6th and the debut UK album (The Rolling Stones) in early 2024. Their third US album The Rolling Stones, Now! from 1965 will also be reissued in 2024.

The latter contains their number one UK hit “Little Red Rooster (a cover of the Howlin’ Wolf song written by Willie Dixon) as well as the Jagger/Richards ballad “Heart Of Stone.”

But, as we were oh-so kindly sent the three (3) boldly highlighted albums above for review, those shall indeed now be journalistically attended to here today.

Aftermath (180gram)

1. Paint It. Black
2. Stupid Girl
3. Lady Jane
4. Under My Thumb
5. Doncha Bother Me
6. Think

Side B:
7. Flight 505
8. High and Dry
9. It’s Not Easy
10. I Am Waiting
11. Going Home

Most widely known as the first album the band did of all original compositions, it is also important because it is also the band’s first great album. To my mind, it is as fearsome as their singles, perhaps more so, as the band is allowed to be the more vile then they have ever been on songs such as Stupid Girl (“look at that stupid girl, the way she powders her nose, she’s the worst thing in this world”), Under My Thumb (“under my thumb, a squirming dog who just had her day”), and It’s Not Easy (“gotcha running like a cat in a thunderstorm”), all about Mick Jagger’s ex-girlfriends!

These kind of songs have their roots in the R&B of the early sixties, but also point towards something new with the way the band lays down the melodies. The band also really thinks out of the box instrumentally, with Brian Jones adding a variety of background sound effect to Paint It. Black with sitar and Indian influence, marimba to Under My Thumb, slide guitar to Don’t Cha Bother Me, and so forth.

The most important thing that Aftermath finally gets right about the group is that they can balance these hard rocking tunes with moments of pure beauty such as the dulcimer driven Lady Jane, the somewhat generic, but still entertaining Think, and the hidden pop gem I Am Waiting, which is one of the most underrated songs from the band’s entire catalogue.

Only Flight 505 and High and Dry ring false notes and are, in my humble opinion, skipworthy. Last but not least, the album ends with an eleven-minute blues ditty called Going Home which is a durable tune despite its extended length.

Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass): [UK/US]

The first hits compilation of the Rolling Stones is still one of the most potent collections of singles that one can find. Listening to it in 1966 or today, one can understand how, almost prematurely for the 1960s — as most of the material here dates from 1964 or 1965 — the Stones set themselves up as the decade’s most visible rock & roll rebels.

The defiant, in-your-face fuzztone riff and sexually frustrated lyrics of (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction and the frenetic pounding punk anthem Get Off Of My Cloud are highlights of a 14-song UK set (as noted, the US set only featured 12 tracks, and yet also featured both Good Times, Bad Times and Play With Fire, neither of which appeared on the UK release) that has no weak points, only peaks.

For me, it’s the louder-than-life rhythm guitars on It’s All Over Now and The Last Time that instantly grab me, the wailing R&B of Time Is On My Side, the balladry, folk, and soul style of As Tears Go By and even the languishing Tell Me, and yet still all of the others make for a body of work that’s still bloody amazing to hear decades after the fact.

Appearing as it did in the late winter of 1966, this collection completely missed the group’s drift into psychedelia, and it has since been supplanted by Hot Rocks and More Hot Rocks, but Big Hits is still the most concentrated dose of the early Stones at their most accessible that is to be had - short of simply playing their first five albums. The artwork and photography were pretty cool too, and if you were not aware, the original LP had one of rock’s early classic gatefold album designs too.

Side A: UK
1. Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?
2. Paint It, Black
3. It’s All Over Now
4. The Last Time
5. Heart of Stone
6. Not Fade Away
7. Come On

Side B: UK
1. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
2. Get Off Of My Cloud
3. As Tears Go By
4. 19th Nervous Breakdown
5. Lady Jane
6. Time Is On My Side
7. Little Red Rooster

US Side A: US
1. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
2. The Last Time
3. As Tears Go By
4. Time Is On My Side
5. It’s All Over Now
6. Tell Me

Side B: US
1. 19th Nervous Breakdown
2. Heart Of Stone
3. Get Off Of My Cloud
4. Not Fade Away
5. Good Times, Bad Times
6. Play With Fire

These 16 180-gram vinyl reissues will join The Rolling Stones back catalog that ABKCO has long kept in print, including 12 x 5 (1964), Aftermath (UK version, 1966), Between The Buttons (UK version, 1967), Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967), Beggars Banquet(1968), Let It Bleed (1969), the live album Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones In Concert (1970), and the collections Hot Rocks 1964-1971 (1971) and More Hot Rocks (Big Hits & Fazed Cookies) from 1972.

Title - Diamonds
Artist - Mike Thomas

Nashville-based country/Americana singer-songwriter Mike Thomas is set to release his album, Diamonds, on July 21st, 2023, via Electric 3 Records.

An emerging artist steeped in tradition and drawing from a wide array of influences and experiences, Thomas and his music have been best described as “eclectic country with a vintage vibe.”

“This collection of songs is deeply personal for me, but I also believe this record will be very relatable for our audience,” says Thomas. “This record covers a lot of ground musically, from straightforward country to rock to bluegrass, but I think it maintains a continuity throughout that I have not yet achieved with prior releases. The band and our guest musicians really did some excellent work on this record, and Tres, Joe, and I have really learned how to work well together in the studio. I can’t wait to get this one out there and play a bunch of shows in support of it!”

1. Room on the Dance Floor
2. In Your Arms Again
3. Before We Say Goodnight
4. Breaking the Distance
5. When the House is Flush
6. Tryin’ Ain’t Enough
7. Bricks, Boards & Stone
8. Diamonds
9. Daddy’s Blue Collar
10. Out Back

The album opens on the free flowing countrified-pop of Room on the Dance Floor and then the rhythmically melodic, harmonica-driven honky tonk In Your Arms Again, and they are followed by the languishing balladry of Before We Say Goodnight, the upbeat and joyous Breaking the Distance, and then we get the colorful storytelling within When the House is Flush.

Along next is one of my own personal favorites, the countrified rocker Tryin’ Ain’t Enough which is itself backed by two differently-styled ballads, the Americana-hued Bricks, Boards & Stone and the lush, velvet-adorned, titular ballad Diamonds (a poignant tribute to his father), the album rounding out on the gently fervent, fiddle-tastic Daddy’s Blue Collar, closing on the lonesome tale spun within Out Back.

For Diamonds, Thomas was joined by many of the same musicians who contributed to his previous releases, including Donald Bright on electric guitar, Mark Huhta on pedal steel, Dave Colella on drums and percussion, Michael Sharp on keys, Weston Woodford provided harmony vocals, and Tres Sasser played bass in addition to producing the record. Other guest musicians included Tania Elizabeth on fiddle and harmony vocals, and Micah Hulscher on keys.

Thomas plans to tour in support of Diamonds, and fans are encouraged to check his website and social media for dates. He has already confirmed an album release show on July 22, 2023 at Fox & Locke in Lieper’s Fork, TN.

Official Purchase Link

Official Website

Mike Thomas @ Facebook

Mike Thomas @ Instagram

Mike Thomas @ Soundcloud

Title - Nine
Artist - Maci Miller

In the field of numerology, the number nine is connected to wisdom and experience. As Philadelphia-based vocalist Maci Miller writes in the liner notes for her new album, Nine, “The number nine is significant because it’s closely associated with the spirit, with spiritual growth, inner awakening and self-realization. It symbolizes a lifetime of learning and is the universal number for love and for hope. It represents patience, harmony, friendship, strength and unity.”

Whether you believe in the mystical properties of numbers or not, there’s no mistaking the relevance of those qualities to Miller’s stunning new album.

Nine is the singer’s second release following a nearly decade-long hiatus to focus on adopting and raising her daughter, Ruby, a period that certainly resulted in a wealth of personal growth and realization.

The album also arrives on the heels of a period of near-universal turmoil on the planet, making Miller’s message of universal love a vivid spiritual antidote.

Already a compelling song stylist who combines wide-ranging influences into a entrancing and unique voice all her own, Miller emerged from this period of reflection with a rejuvenated passion for songwriting and a mission to explore the theme of universal love in all its vibrant and complicated forms. She’s a beguiling storyteller with a singular ability to embody a lyric, whether the emotion calls for tenderness or sensuality, heartbreak or joy.

Perhaps most importantly, Nine is the number of musicians that Miller and producer/ pianist/writing partner Aaron Graves have assembled for this project. The stellar ensemble represents a who’s who of the thriving Philly jazz scene – the pair are joined by bassist Mike Boone, tenor sax living legend Larry McKenna, Victor North on soprano sax, and drummers Byron Landham, Leon Jordan Sr., and Josh Orlando. The number is rounded out by special guest trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, who is granted honorary Philadelphian status for his appearance on “The Nearness of You.”

“The jazz scene in Philadelphia has such a high caliber of players,” Miller says. “But what I really love is that it’s such a warm community. I felt embraced and supported right from the beginning.”

1. High Wire
2. Firm Roots
3. Love Me For Who I Am
4. Little Bird
5. Complicated
6. The Nearness of You
7. I Can’t Wait
8. Strange Is The Night
9. Feel The Music

The album opens on her uptempo rendition of Chick Corea’s High Wire and then brings us the gleaming Firm Roots (complete with a new lyric for Cedar Walton’s title song of the pianist’s 1976 album), the soulful Love Me For Who I Am and then a song that grew out of a few lines that Miller sang to coax her pet birds out of their cage, thus becoming a metaphor for leaving the nest and finding one’s own way in life, the alluring Little Bird.

Along next on this dutifully impassioned new recording is the elegant Complicated (featuring a witty call and response with Larry McKenna) and a dutiful retelling of the standard The Nearness of You (complete with a diligent Jeremy Pelt solo), and they are in turn followed by the pleasing I Can’t Wait, the album rounding out on the beauteous of Strange Is The Night (which itself addresses the societal issues confronting the world), closing on the resplendent Feel The Music.

Originally from Harrisburg, PA, Miller was born into a musical family. Her great-grandfather was a Russian Jewish violinist who immigrated to the United States to perform with the Ziegfeld Follies (family lore has it that he also worked as Eddie Cantor’s musical director in the 20s, though that has yet to be confirmed). Growing up she was drawn to the soulful divas of the day – Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner – whose influence remains in Miller’s gift for imbuing a lyric with soul and drama.

Her inspiration of the great jazz singers, in particular Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington, shines through – Holiday’s rhythmic phrasing, Fitzgerald’s brassy brightness. But Miller absorbs those legendary voices with the pop subtlety of Norah Jones and the soul storytelling of her childhood favorites to arrive at a mesmerizingly personal style, rapturously framed by her wide-ranging songcraft.

Official Website

Maci Miller @ Facebook

Maci Miller @ Instagram

Maci Miller @ Twitter

Title - 80s Classical, Volume 1
Artist - Various

Following sell-out shows in Leeds and London, Cherry Red presents volume one in a planned series of 80s Classical albums – showcasing iconic voices and songs in breath taking new studio versions performed by the original artists.

Produced by Steve Anderson (Kylie / Steps / Take That), arranged and conducted by Cliff Masterson (Little Mix / Josh Groban / Tom Walker), ‘80s Classical Volume 1’ comprises 13 brand new studio re-workings of the biggest hits of the 80s, plus a bonus remix by synth wave maestro L’Avenue.

The 80s Classical show made its debut in 2019 at the Opera North In The City festival, in Millennium Square, Leeds. Now in its fourth year, having hosted a line-up of appearances from Jimmy Somerville, Belinda Carlisle, Kim Wilde, Heaven 17, Go West, Nick Heyward, Howard Jones, Hue & Cry and John Parr, the brand makes the transition from the stage to the studio for their debut album release.

Featured artists Nik Kershaw, Johnny Hates Jazz and Carol Decker deliver extraordinary symphonic recordings of their classic hits, alongside show favorites from Adetoun Ayoola, Gavin Conder, Cliff Masterson, and a dreamy back-to-the-future L’Avenue / Nik Kershaw remix.

1. Can You Feel It – The Orchestra Of Opera North / Adetoun Ayoola
2. Wouldn’t It Be Good – Nik Kershaw / The Orchestra Of Opera North
3. China In Your Hand – Carol Decker / The Orchestra Of Opera North
4. Shattered Dreams – Johnny Hates Jazz / The Orchestra Of Opera North
5. Africa – The Orchestra Of Opera North / Gavin Conder
6. I Don’t Want To Be A Hero – Johnny Hates Jazz / The Orchestra Of Opera North
7. Human Racing – Nik Kershaw / The Orchestra Of Opera North
8. Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) – The Orchestra Of Opera North / Adetoun Ayoola
9. The Riddle – Nik Kershaw / The Orchestra Of Opera North
10. Heart And Soul – Carol Decker / The Orchestra Of Opera North
11. Turn Back The Clock – Johnny Hates Jazz / The Orchestra Of Opera North
12. St. Elmo’s Fire – The Orchestra Of Opera North / Cliff Masterson
13. I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me – Nik Kershaw / The Orchestra Of Opera North
14. Wouldn’t It Be Good (L’Avenue Remix) Nik Kershaw / The Orchestra Of Opera North / L’Avenue

The very first in a series of classical interpretations of 80s music, and featuring Nik Kershaw, Johnny Hates Jazz and Carol Decker with the 50-piece symphony Orchestra Of Opera North, the album opens on the stirring Can You Feel It (The Jacksons) by The Orchestra Of Opera North / Adetoun Ayoola and then we get one of my long time favorites, a simply breathtaking, veritably crystalline Wouldn’t It Be Good (Nik Kershaw), a delightful China In Your Hand (Carol Decker of T’Pau), and then comes the free flowing Shattered Dreams (Johnny Hates Jazz), before we revert back to The Orchestra Of Opera North with Gavin Conder on Toto’s Africa, and then another one from both Johnny Hates Jazz, the poppy I Don’t Want To Be A Hero and the always on top form Nik Kershaw, and his signature Human Racing (albeit this version toned down, stoic even, as it drifts around your ears).

Along next on this dutifully impassioned new recording is a most wondrously mysterious build up that suddenly bursts into life as Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) by The Orchestra Of Opera North with Adetoun Ayoola, and then comes Nik’s rhythmically melodic The Riddle, a rather soothing Heart And Soul (Carol Decker), the melodically charming, sweeping even Turn Back The Clock by Johnny Hates Jazz, before the recording rounds out on a soaring rendition of John Parr’s St. Elmo’s Fire (with Cliff Masterson), a bright, bubbly and bouncy, synth-tastic I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (Nik Kershaw), coming to a close on a L’Avenue Remix of Kershaw’s Wouldn’t It Be Good.

Official Purchase Link

Title - August in March
Artist - Ember

Brooklyn-based jazz trio Ember is set to release their third album, August in March, via Orrin Evans’ Imani Records on August 11th, 2023.

The collective, featuring saxophonist/trumpeter Caleb Wheeler Curtis, bassist Noah Garabedian, and drummer Vincent Sperrazza, has earned high praise for it’s innovative, genre-crossing approach and profound improvisation.

The album’s title suggests a myriad of interpretations, reflecting Ember’s evocative and open-ended music philosophy. Critics highlight the band’s collective improvisational spirit as effortless, reflecting their focus on fostering an open environment where the music is shared among them and with their audience.

August in March consists of eleven concise but intricate pieces, making it an honest representation of Ember’s musical and community-oriented aspirations.

1. Suspense
2. Snake Time
3. Frank in the Morning
4. August in March
5. Angular Saxon
6. No Signal
7. Easy Win
8. Sink and Swim
9. Flotation Device and the Shivers
10. Break Time
11. Sam Cooke

Recorded at Samurai Hotel, Astoria, NY, December 3rd 2022 by David Stoller, the recording opens on the languishing beauty within Suspense and then the low slung, atmospheric Snake Time, before then lovingly bringing forth the smooth foot-tapper Frank in the Morning, the ornately sculpted, titular August in March and then we get the jaunty rhythmic jazz shapes thrown within Angular Saxon.

Along next on this dutifully impassioned new recording is the stoic No Signal and the expressioned Easy Win, and they are in turn backed by the decadent Sink and Swim, the stoically chilled Flotation Device and the Shivers, the album rounding out on the drum-fed Break Time, coming to a close on the effortless grandeur within Sam Cooke.

In truth, the meaning of August in March doesn’t allow for easy interpretation. Is it a lament over the accelerating pace of modern life? A protest against climate change? Simply a bit of lyrical wordplay, or an intentionally obscure puzzle? It could be any of those things, or all at once – Ember isn’t telling.

But the mere fact that the phrase is so evocative and open-ended, an invitation to creative examination, may be more to the point. Those are, after all, among the guiding principles of this adventurous and exploratory trio. “I think that August in March is sort of confusing but at the same time oddly poetic,” ventures saxophonist and trumpeter player Caleb Wheeler Curtis. “It connects in multiple ways to things that we care about.”

Caleb Wheeler Curtis – stritch, trumpet, reed trumpet
Noah Garabedian – double bass
Vincent Sperrazza – drums

Official Purchase Link

Official Website

Title - Music From Mansion Road
Artist - Gamache - Marak - Messier

Wayne, Tom and John [aka Gamache - Marak - Messier] have teamed up to create an album that takes one through many emotions: Love ballads (Keep Love Simple & True Blue Faith), missing friends (Dear Friend & Free Hawk Fly), rockers (Springsteen-like Radio Baby & Harley Springer), pop rockers (Heart on the Line & In time to Catch the Wind), fun tunes (Crazy to the Core & the maybe not so lighthearted Octopus), and even songs about failed/new relationships (Never Go Back, Now That She’s Gone, Soul Crusher & Over Me, Over You).

Indeed, the listener has the opportunity to enjoy many aspects of these talented songwriters and performers, while delving into their own feelings on love, death and relationships. Great song writing and musical talents are demonstrated on every track ... so come on, what ya waiting for! Check it out, as they are mighty sure you will agree this is yet another great listen from Mansion Road Music!

1. Harley Springer
2. In Time To Catch The Wind
3. Octopus
4. Soul Crusher
5. Now That She’s Gone
6. Free Hawk Fly
7. Over You, Over Me
8. Keep Love Simple
9. Dear Friend
10. True Blue Faith
11. Never Go Back
12. Heart On The Line
13. Crazy to the Core
14. Radio Baby

The recording opens on the rocking E-Street Band-esque Harley Springer and then the gloriously free wheelin’ In Time To Catch The Wind, before then bringing forth the Celtic-hued, Beatles-tinged Octopus, the foot-tapping rocker Soul Crusher, the rhythmic Now That She’s Gone and then we get the soaring Free Hawk Fly and the mid-tempo rock-blues of Over You, Over Me.

Along next on this dutifully impassioned new recording is the melodically harmonized, ’60s-imbibed Keep Love Simple and the beautiful hipsway found within Dear Friend, and they are in turn backed by the melodious love song True Blue Faith, the heartfelt storytelling of Never Go Back, the jaunty pop-rock of Heart On The Line, the album rounding out on the ’80s alt-pop-rock of Crazy to the Core, coming to a close on the saxophone-driven rocker Radio Baby.

Official Website

Gamache - Marak - Messier @ YouTube

Title - Mud: The Singles 1973-80 [3CD Set]
Artist - Mud

Mention the name Mud to most Americans - even those neck-deep in the ’70s revival - and the likely result will be a blank stare.

In England, however, between 1974 and 1976, Mud was one of the hottest rock & roll acts there was, charting a series of monster hit singles and recording a pair of delightful oldies-oriented albums.

They were never a profoundly philosophical band, and never pretended to be. The group played music to have a good time, and merely asked that others join in, which millions of Brits did for a few years.

Formed in February 1966, their earlier success came in a pop and then glam rock style, while later hits were influenced by 1950s rock and roll, and they are best remembered for their hit singles Dyna-mite, Tiger Feet, which was the UK’s best-selling single of 1974, and Lonely This Christmas which reached Christmas number 1 in December 1974.

After signing to RAK Records and teaming up with songwriters/producers Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, the band had fourteen UK Top 20 hits between 1973 and 1976, including three number ones.

Mud: The Singles 1973-80 (releaded May 10th, 2023 via Cherry Red Records UK) presents, in a chronological A/B release order, a complete overview of their singles; which also now includes ten tracks making their debut on CD - including the ultra rare 45 issued as Ring plus the three Les Gray singles.

The booklet also contains detailed liner notes plus loads of picture sleeves and memorabilia from the era.

CD 1
1. Crazy
2. Do You Love Me
3. Hypnosis
4. Last Tango In London
5. Dyna-mite
6. Do It All Over Again
7. Tiger Feet
8. Mr. Bagatelle
9. The Cat Crept In
10. Morning
11. Rocket
12. The Ladies
13. In The Mood (as Dum)
14. Watching The Clock (as Dum)
15. Lonely This Christmas
16. I Can’t Stand It
17. The Secrets That You Keep
18. Still Watching The Clock
19. Oh Boy
20. Moonshine Sally
21. Bye Bye Johnny

This wondrous mixed bag of glammy rockers and ’50s-styled ballads opens its first disc on the deeply funky Crazy, the fun R&R of Do You Love Me and both the slow, funky grooves of Hypnosis and the harder-edged Last Tango In London, and then come the high energy of Dyna-mite, the guitar-led Do It All Over Again, my all-time favorite of theirs growing up, the rambunctious Tiger Feet, before we are brought the soulful Mr. Bagatelle, the pure glam, Elvis-hued rock of The Cat Crept In and the vibrant Morning.

Along next is the catchy, Elvis-imbibed Rocket, the foot-tapper The Ladies and then a duo of songs recorded as Dum - the harmonized instrumentals In The Mood and Watching The Clock - before we get to become all festive for three minutes with their stand out classic Lonely This Christmas, which is itself backed by the disco beats of I Can’t Stand It, the gorgeous ballad The Secrets That You Keep, the Steve Miller Band-esque instrumental Still Watching The Clock, their absolute belter Oh Boy, the disc rounding out on the exotic, almost psychedelic sound of Moonshine Sally and the low slung RNR of Bye Bye Johnny.

CD 2
1. One Night
2. Shake Rattle And Roll / See You Later Alligator
3. L’ L’ Lucy
4. My Love Is Your Love
5. Show Me You’re A Woman
6. Don’t You Know
7. Shake It Down
8. Laugh, Live, Love
9. Nite On The Tiles
10. Time And Again
11. Lean On Me
12. Greacian Lament
13. A Groovy Kind Of Love (Les Gray)
14. U.S. Style (Les Gray)
15. Slow Talking Boy
16. Let Me Out
17. Just Try (A Little Tenderness)
18. Gives You The Good Times Now
19. What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For (Les Gray)
20. Stand Still Stella (Les Gray)

The second disc opens on the Elvis-hued, mid-tempo ballad One Night and the rocking medley Shake Rattle And Roll / See You Later Alligator, and then comes their first self-penned single L’L’Lucy, the dutiful My Love Is Your Love, the pillow ballad melody Show Me You’re A Woman, the rocking Don’t You Know, and then we get the funky, keyboard disco of Shake It Down, the feelgood Laugh, Live, Love, and both the frenetic synth rocker Nite On The Tiles and the languishing ballad Time And Again.

Next up is their mid-tempo rendition of Bill Withers’s Lean On Me and the ambitious Greacian Lament, before a solo duo from Les Gray himself - the amazing A Groovy Kind Of Love (which was originally sung by American duo Diane & Annita) and a lovely U.S. Style, before Mud are back with the laid back, Mediterranean-hued glam rock of Slow Talking Boy, the fun Let Me Out, a dutifully harmonized rendition of Just Try (A Little Tenderness), the disc rounding out on the sung-whilst-smiling Gives You The Good Times Now, and another Gray solo duo in What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For and the pure, unadulterated RNR of Stand Still Stella.

CD 3
1. Beating Round The Bush
2. Under The Moon Of Love
3. Don’t Ever Change (as Roly)
4. Yes I Do (as Roly)
5. Cut Across Shorty
6. We’ve Got To Know
7. Drift Away
8. Let Me Get (Close To You)
9. Car Friends (as Roly)
10. Roly Pin (as Roly)
11. Why Do Fools Fall In Love / Book Of Love
12. Run, Don’t Walk
13. I Think Of You (Les Gray)
14. I Think I’ll Go That Way (Les Gray)
15. You’ll Like It
16. Can’t Stop
17. Drop Everything And Run
18. Taking The Easy Way Out
19. Rico (as Ring)
20. Make A Buck (as Ring)

The third disc opens on the bass-led beauty Beating Round The Bush and then comes their rollicking fine take of Curtis Lee’s Under the Moon of Love (which later became a hit for Showaddywaddy with a very similar arrangement), and they are backed by a couple from the band Roly - Don’t Ever Change and the free-flowing Yes I Do - and then we get brought the Showaddywaddy-esque Cut Across Shorty, the funky rock of We’ve Got To Know, a melodic Drift Away and a smooth Let Me Get (Close To You), before two more from Roly - the joyously pleaded Car Friends and the tongue-in-cheek Roly Pin.

The third disc then completes the wondrous package with the lovely Motown medley in Why Do Fools Fall In Love / Book Of Love, the go-ahead Run, Don’t Walk, before two more solo cuts from Gray - the beautiful I Think Of You and the forthright I Think I’ll Go That Way - and then come the upbeat You’ll Like It, the pointed RNR of Can’t Stop, both the harder rock of Drop Everything And Run (where the original band continued for a short while with female lead vocalist Margo Buchanan in Gray’s place, releasing this sadly unsuccessful, but rock-worthy single for Carrere in 1979) and much the same can be said for Taking The Easy Way Out, the collection coming to a close on two from the band Ring - the disco-fueled duo of Rico and Make A Buck in 1980.

Official 3CD Purchase Link

Title - Creatures In The Garden
Artist - Karney

Throughout her storied music career, Anna Karney has performed across the country and released an incredible catalog of chart topping and critically acclaimed music. Always keeping her mind on social justice and positive messages, KARNEY channels her love for the planet and the beauty of the earth into her powerful new full-length album CREATURES IN THE GARDEN, set for release August 18th, 2023.

Using themes of climate change awareness and respect for the planet as a focal point for her writing, CREATURES IN THE GARDEN showcases an incredible blend of soulful and dreamy acoustic arrangements, easy indie rock beats, dusty distortion, winding bass lines, and astounding indie, emo, and shoegaze rock styles, all as KARNEY weaves images of nature throughout and incorporates a high-spirited positive message about finding solutions to our current climate crisis.

CREATURES IN THE GARDEN features several prominent Bay Area musicians. Longtime drummer Jeff Herrera plays on several tracks including “Peace Is More,” which also features guitarist Erik Smyth and bassist David Doucet. A special lyrical addition to this track is the quote by Fred Rogers (aka Mr. Rogers), “Peace is far more / than the opposite of war.”

1. Sinners and Saints (acoustic)
2. Across The Planet (remix)
3. Creatures In The Garden
4. Peace Is More
5. Rainbow In The Dark
6. Shell Shock Girl (acoustic)
7. Eternity (remix)
8. Aurora (remix)
9. Wildfire
10. Sinners and Saints (full band)

The album opens on an emphatic acoustic version of Sinners and Saints and a free flowing remix of Across The Planet, before then bringing us the veritably shimmering, titular Creatures In The Garden, the pop-rocker Peace Is More, and then we are given their guitar-fed, albeit lighter in delivery than the original, Ronnie James Dio track Rainbow In The Dark.

Along next is an acoustic version of Shell Shock Girl, with a couple of remixes backing that up in the form of the free-wheeling, countrified Eternity and the drum-fed Aurora, the album rounding out on the all-embracing rock within Wildfire, coming to a close on a full band version of the opener Sinners and Saints.

The title track along with “Sinners and Saints” and a powerful cover of “Rainbow In The Dark” by Ronnie James Dio all feature James Deprato on guitar, Kevin White (Chuck Prophet Band) on bass, and new addition to the Karney crew, drummer Kyle Capistra.

KARNEY is also honored to feature two Santana band members on CREATURES IN THE GARDEN, trumpet player Bill Ortiz on the track “Across The Planet (remix)” and percussionist Karl Perazzo on the track “Wildfire.” The track “Eternity (remix)” features slide guitarist Gawain Matthews.

Anna Karney’s lyrical content offers an impassioned and straightforward approach to many of the issues facing people today. Her musical influences include Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Patti Smith, John Lennon, Sheryl Crow, Chrissie Hynde, and Joni Mitchell. As an arranger, pianist, and guitarist, she has worked with artists such as George Clinton, Linda Perry, and Dennis Bovell.

Official Website

Official Pre-Order Links

KARNEY @ Bandcamp

Title - Dangerous Rhythm
Artist - Dave Loveland

The first images you think of when you hear Dave Loveland’s music are the peaceful vibes of the breezy guitar instrumental music from way back in the 1960s.

Those sounds will surely remind listeners of the innocence of American groups like The Ventures and the iconic Duane Eddy and, from over in England, The Shadows. In fact, back in the 1960s, Dave Loveland was a member of several instrumental guitar bands in his native England.

Leaving England and emigrating to Australia in 1976, Dave carved out a career as a musician and music teacher in the land Down Under.

Dave’s long awaited solo album, Dangerous Rhythm is a superb return to form and a very easy on the ears set of guitar instrumentals that will surely inspire the listener with an array of electric guitar influences like Hank Marvin of the Shadows and country jazz guitar legend Chet Atkins to name a couple greats from the golden era of the guitar.

1. Dangerous Rhythm (3:23)
2. Mexican Trip (3:39)
3. Blue Sands (3:41)
4. Peruvian Strut (3:39)
5. I Never Thought This (4:34)
6. Blue Horizon (2:45)
7. Hopping Around (3:45)
8. Rain In The Hills (4:44)
9. Remembering Bazza (2:54)
10. Moving Clouds (5:06)
11. Cool Groove (3:01)
12. Changing (4:34)

Drawing on his repertoire of 400 originals, Dave selected a dozen Loveland classics for this album, and opens on the shimmering surf rock of the titular Dangerous Rhythm and then the sumptuous Mexican Trip, before then bringing forth the low slung Blue Sands, the flighty hipsway within Peruvian Strut, the beautiful balladry of I Never Thought This and the aptly-named mellow blues of Blue Horizon are upon us.

Along next on this dutifully impassioned new recording is the melodical Hopping Around and the quietly rhythmic Rain In The Hills and the upbeat, joyous even Remembering Bazza, the album rounding out on the more strident affair Moving Clouds, coming to a close on the foot-tapper Cool Groove and the guitar-driven, almost ’80s hair band, mid-song solo-esque Changing.

Official Purchase Link

Title - The Magic Of It All
Artist - Strawbs

Strawbs were high in the charts with ‘Grave New World’ and ‘Bursting At The Seams’ 50 years ago which coincided with a pivotal moment in the struggle for freedom in South Africa, when students and workers launched a new wave of resistance against so-called “resettlement”. The resistance in South Africa identified with Strawbs songs, especially ‘Part Of The Union’, ‘Lay Down’, and ‘New World’.

Recognizing this, South Africa documentary maker, Niel van Deventer, approached David Cousins with the idea of producing a documentary about Strawbs and the band’s influence around the world. Niel wanted to film while new songs were being recorded in a Cape Town studio. David Cousins came up with a bunch of his finest songs; Blue Weaver flew over to produce the sessions and co- write some of the material, while John Ford joined in with his contribution to the songs from New York.

Featuring brand-new songs recorded at the Academy Of Sound Engineering in Cape Town, with engineer Peter Pearlson worked with Paul Simon when he was recording South African musicians for the ‘Graceland’ album, the South African musicians on this album include Mauritz Lotz, Schalk Joubert, Kevin Gibson, Byron Abrahams, Simangele Mashazi, Marzia Barry and Luna Paige.

Also, Cathryn Craig and Nicole Tee joined the singers from the UK and the documentary The Magic Of It All will be released later this year.

1. Ready (Are We Ready)
2. The Magic Of It All
3. All Along The Bay
4. Everybody Means Something To Someone
5. Our World
6. The Time Has Come (For Giving Back)
7. Slack Jaw Alice
8. Paris Nights
9. Wiser Now
10. The Lady Of The Night
11. Christmas Ghosts

Recorded in Cape Town, South Africa, the album opens on the rhythmically melodic of Ready (Are We Ready) and the emotively titular The Magic Of It All and then brings us the Mediterranean-hued, joyous All Along The Bay, the stoically impassioned Everybody Means Something To Someone, before then bringing forth the harmonized balladry within Our World.

Along next on this simply magnificent new recording, is the heartfelt The Time Has Come (For Giving Back) and the upbeat and fun Slack Jaw Alice, and they are in turn backed seamlessly by the languishing beauty within Paris Nights, the album rounding out on the wistful Wiser Now, the stunning sculpted The Lady Of The Night, before closing on what is referred to on the artwork as the ‘Abracadabra’ closing track, the all-embracing, lighthearted, festive sleigh bell-imbibed pop bounce of Christmas Ghosts.

Strawbs - The Magic Of It All [Trailer]

Official Purchase Link

Title - Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s Württemberg Sonatas
Artist - Keith Jarrett

For those unaware, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s Württemberg Sonatas were written in 1742-3, and dedicated to Carl Eugen Duke of Württemberg, who studied with CPE at the court of Frederik the Great in Berlin. Published in 1744, they are regarded today as musical masterpieces of the era between the Baroque and the Classical.

Keith Jarrett’s recording of the Württemberg Sonatas followed a period in which he had been focusing on the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. ECM New Series documented Jarrett’s interpretations of Das Wohltemperierte Klavier Buch 1 (recorded February 1987), the Goldberg Variations (January 1989), The French Suites (September1991) and, with Kim Kashkashian, the 3 Sonaten für Viola da Gamba und Cembalo (also September 1991).

Other classical recordings made by Jarrett in this period included Shostakovich’s Bach-inspired 24 Preludes and Fugues (recorded July 1991) and Suites for Keyboard by Bach’s contemporary Georg Friedrich Händel (September 1993).

CD 1:
Sonata I in a minor, H. 30
1. Moderato (07:33)
2. Andante (03:15)
3. Allegro assai (05:28)

Sonata II in A-flat major, H. 31
4. Un poco allegro (06:51)
5. Adagio03:07)
6. Allegro03:50)

Sonata III in e minor, H. 33
7. Allegro (06:01)
8. Adagio (03:16)
9. Vivace(02:59)

The first of the discs features Sonata I in a minor, H. 30 and opens on the impassioned Moderato and then brings us the heartfelt Andante and the playful Allegro assai, before we are brought forth the Sonata II in A-flat major, H. 31, with the pronounced elegance of Un poco allegro leading the way, followed by opulent Adagio and the delightfully sprightly Allegro, the final work on this disc being Sonata III in e minor, H. 33l which opens on the poignant Allegro, the delicate Adagio, the set closing on the furtively perky Vivace.

CD 2:
Sonata IV in B-flat major, H. 32
1. Un poco allegro (05:47)
2. Andante (03:00)
3. Allegro (04:30)

Sonata V in E-flat major, H. 34
4. Allegro (07:41)
5. Adagio (03:20)
6. Allegro assai (03:31)

Sonata VI in b minor, H. 36
7. Moderato (07:02)
8. Adagio non molto (03:43)
9. Allegro (04:29)

The second disc first brings us Sonata IV in B-flat major, H. 32 which is itself led by the passionately sculpted Un poco allegro, the polished Andante and the cheery Allegro, and then comes Sonata V in E-flat major, H. 34, which is opened by the jaunty Allegro, the more studious Adagio, and rounded out by a simply dashing Allegro assai, the last piece being Sonata VI in b minor, H. 36; which opens on the flowering Moderato, is followed by a most wistful Adagio non molto, the set, along with the recording, coming to a close on the perfectly salacious dance of keys brought forth within Allegro.

Official Purchase Link

Keith Jarrett @ Facebook

Title - Austrian Syndicate
Artist - David Helbock

Austrian Syndicate…the phrase immediately brings to mind the best-known and most influential of all Austrians in jazz, Joe Zawinul. And yet David Helbock’s project is much more than just a homage to his compatriot. It is a return to the roots of fusion jazz and how things developed from then on.

It is also a new direction stylistically for Helbock, who has harnessed a panoply of inspiration with a refreshing openness to new sounds from far and wide. As Helbock himself puts it: This is close to my heart.

This Austrian supergroup is also a place where Helbock’s stellar international guests shine brightly: Maria João, Fred Wesley, Dhafer Youssef, Alex Acuña and Lakecia Benjamin.

1. Money in the Pocket
2. Hymn to Vienna
3. The Third Man
4. Dinde Et Dindon
5. Ballad for Schönenbach
6. The Ups and Downs
7. Adventure
8. Grundbira Dance
9. Crimson Woman
10. We Need Some Help Down Here
11. Nuyorican
12. Komm, Lieber Mai Und Mache

The album opens on the vibrantly enthused Money in the Pocket and the veritably ethereal Hymn to Vienna and then proceeds to bring us the synth-tastic grooves within The Third Man, the infectious rhythms within Dinde Et Dindon, and both the atmospheric Ballad for Schönenbach and the drum-led funk of The Ups and Downs.

Along next is the shimmering cacophony that makes up Adventure and the pulsing Grundbira Dance and they are in turn backed by the Asian-hued tones within Crimson Woman, the glistening We Need Some Help Down Here, the recording rounding out on the drum-spined Nuyorican, closing on their interesting take on Mozat’s Komm, Lieber Mai Und Mache (featuring Maria João and her improvisational skills on vocals).

Official Website

David Helbock @ Bandcamp

Title - Let Them Drag My Soul Away [3CD]
Artist - Dead Or Alive

Having been ‘discovered’ working in Liverpool’s Probe Records during the punk rock explosion, Pete Burns found himself fronting his own band, Nightmares In Wax who mutated into the more familiar Dead Or Alive, eventually bringing Pete into the UK pop mainstream, and a star was born.

Bringing together early singles by both Nightmares In Wax and Dead Or Alive, Peel sessions and previously unheard demos and live recordings, Let Them Drag My Soul Away shines a light on the pre-fame Burns and a revolving cast of band mates and collaborators, many of whom were mainstays of both the Liverpool and broader British post-punk scene.

From the disco punk funk of ‘Black Leather’ through proto-Gothic singles ‘It’s Been Hours Now’ and ‘The Stranger’, and into early versions of hi-NRG tracks which would eventually find their way onto the band’s debut album, this is both an invigorating exploration of an emerging talent and a valuable time capsule of an important figure in both the 80s pop and gay club scenes.

While so many pop stars hid their homosexuality for the sake of record sales and middle America, Burns stuck up two fingers and sang loudly about both his own inner world and his desire for large, leather clad boys!

Featuring sleeve notes by Electronic Sound magazine’s Mat Smith (with new interview contributions from Wayne Hussey, Joe Musker and Francesco Mellina), and a plethora of previously unheard recordings, this is a must for fans of Pete Burns, post-punk and pop enthusiasts and those with an interest in British pop culture in the aftermath of punk’s liberation.

Nightmares In Wax
1. Black Leather
2. Girl Song
3. Shangri-La
4. Girl Song (1985 Mix)
5. Shangri-La (1985 Mix)

Dead Or Alive
6. I’m Falling
7. Flowers
8. Number Eleven
9. Namegame (Live version)
10. It’s Been Hours Now
11. Whirlpool
12. Nowhere To Nowhere
13. It’s Been Hours Now 2
14. The Stranger
15. Some Of That

This very much long overdue showcase for the formative years of one of the post-punk and 80s pop scene’s most memorable figures, opens on a quintet from Nightmares In Wax - the post punk/spooky disco of Black Leather, the more forward, rhythmically jaunty Girl Song, the beautiful goth spiral of Shangri-La, and then adds on two of the same again, but these both 1985 mixes.

Then come a beautiful slew of Dead Or Alive early doors singles, where his unique, raw, yet instantly-recognizable voice shines through at all times, such as the bass-led I’m Falling, the powerfully expressive Flowers, the dark atmosphere imbibed within Number Eleven, a live version of the haunting Namegame, and then we get the darkly intriguing, veritably punk in nature It’s Been Hours Now, the Post Punk heaven of Whirlpool, the vibrantly amazing Nowhere To Nowhere, the disc rounding out on the atmospherically-charged, drum-led It’s Been Hours Now 2, the beautifully haunting The Stranger and the rousing Some Of That.

Nightmares In Wax
1. Black Leather (4-Track Demo)*
2. Girl Song (4-Track Demo)*
3. I’ll Turn Away (4-Track Demo)*
4. Shangri-La (4-Track Demo)*

Dead Or Alive
5. Selfish Side (Demo)*
6. Far Too Hard (Demo 2nd Mix)*
7. Misty Circles (Demo)*
8. What I Want (Demo)*
9. Give It To Me (Demo)*
10. Selfish Side (Alternate Early Mix) *
11. Untitled Instrumental #1*
12. Untitled Instrumental #2*
13. Untitled Instrumental #3*
(*previously unreleased)

This magnificent 3CD set that explores the early years of legendary pet Burns’ fronted Dead Or Alive, continues onward with a quartet of Nightmares In Wax demos. Inclusive of all the same aforementioned tracks from the first disc, they represent the one and only 4-Track Demo that was put out back then by Burns, and which have, until now, been previously unreleased).

Then we get a load more of previously unreleased demo tracks, this time from Dead Or Alive, and which kick off with the gently pounding Selfish Side (which there is not a great difference between this and the original), the hypnotizing Far Too Hard, and then come the hip swinging Misty Circles, the typical 80s, and yet cluttered song What I Want, the underrated Give It To Me and an alternate early mix of Selfish Side, the disc rounding out on three untitled instrumentals.

1. Nowhere To Nowhere (Peel Session)
2. Running Wild (Peel Session)
3. Number Eleven (Peel Session)
4. Flowers (Peel Session)
5. Number Twelve (Peel Session)
6. The Stranger (Peel Session)
7. Misty Circles (Peel Session)
8. Misty Circles Pt 2 (Peel Session)
9. Gilded Splinters (Live In Manchester)*
10. Don’t Tell Me (Live In Manchester)*
11. Flowers (TV Version)*
(*previously unreleased)

Out proud, and very, very loud, the recordings continue onward on the third disc with a series of Peel Session’s and live performances also now lovingly captured. The octet of Peel Session’s opens with the raw, more vocal than loud instruments Nowhere To Nowhere and then lead us into the Echo & The Bunnymen-esque Running Wild, the (early) Adam & The Antz-esque Number Eleven, the ravishing Flowers (which begins with a short cover of Melanie’s Candles In The Rain, as well as the other lyrical references in the song; Bacharach and David, Pete Seeger and the Stones, all of which had parts lyric sewn into the track), the slap bass-fed goth beauty Number Twelve, and then we get the haunting The Stranger, and the book-end duo of Misty Circles and Misty Circles Pt 2; before the disc comes to a close on brilliant two live tracks from Manchester - Gilded Splinters and Don’t Tell Me - and a TV version of Flowers (all three previously unreleased before now).

Official 3CD Purchase Link

Title - Are You Sure You Three Guys Know What You’re Doing
Artist - Mike Jones Trio

Try pronouncing it with the hoity-toity inflections of a monocled upper-crust diner party guest, or the “dese and dose” Brooklyn patois of a 1940s comedian: Are You Sure You Three Guys Know What You’re Doing? is the question that inevitably greeted Moe, Larry and Curly/Shemp when the Stooges showed up in the garb of plumbers or house painters or even [shudder] medical doctors.

In the case of this sparkling new album, the inquiry is aimed at a piano trio, two-thirds of which at least can answer assuredly in the affirmative: Mike Jones is an accomplished and acclaimed straightahead pianist who studied at Berklee and plays with the fleet, soulful virtuosity of heroes like Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum; Jeff Hamilton, meanwhile, is one of the most revered drummers on the modern mainstream jazz scene, co-founder of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and collaborator with everyone from Monty Alexander to Diana Krall, Ray Brown to Michael Bublé.

The head-scratcher comes when we look at the bass chair, held by someone who in another context could also answer with a resounding “yes” – Penn Jillette, along with his partner Teller, is perhaps the most famous, respected and irreverent magician of his generation. Penn & Teller have headlined a successful Las Vegas show full of mind-blowing illusions for more than 30 years, co-host the CW TV series Fool Us, and tour the world pulling the wool over eager audiences’ eyes. So what’s he doing walking the bass with two veteran jazz musicians?

That question was partly answered by The Show Before the Show, the duo album that Jones and Jillette released in 2018. When Jones was invited to become musical director for Penn & Teller in 2002, the gig came with one catch: his opening set would be a duo with Penn, who’d recently challenged himself to pick up the upright bass at the age of 48. In an interview at the time Jillette explained, “I felt compelled to learn something I couldn’t be the best at.”

But that album reflected an act honed over 21 years of six-nights-a-week playing, even if Penn’s practice was largely limited to his time on stage with Jones. When Hamilton dropped by to see the Penn & Teller show and suggested to Jones that the three of them record together, the fast-talking illusionist suddenly came down with an uncharacteristic case of the jitters.

“Penn freaked out,” Jones recalls. “He was as nervous as I’ve ever seen him. He was a basket case and kept repeating, ‘This is absurd. I’m out of my league.’ But I reassured him and it was a fun session that turned out great.”

Penn’s panic, not to mention the presumed second thoughts of his all-star partners, are hilariously depicted on the album cover, once again contributed by The Simpsons animator David Silverman. But ultimately, Are You Sure You Three Guys Know What You’re Doing? – out August 18th, 2023 via Capri Records – reveals that Jillette was wholly exaggerating.

Teamed with unparalleled rhythm section partners, he puts in a robust performance with a rock-solid sense of time and a hint of the quick wit that he brings to his stage act. He even takes over the melody of “The Girl From Ipanema,” gracefully essaying the familiar Jobim melody.

1. ’S Wonderful
2. Doxy
3. What A Difference A Day Makes
4. The Girl From Ipanema
5. Watch What Happens
6. On Green Dolphin Street
7. You’ve Changed
8. Perdido
9. Medley: I’ll Close My Eyes/Close Your Eyes
10. Gone With The Wind
11. Blues For Burns

This mighty fine new recording opens on their rendition of the flirtatious Gershwin classic S’ Wonderful and a playful take on Sonny Rollins’ Doxy and then proceeds to bring us the stunningly sumptuous What A Difference A Day Makes (popularized by Dinah Washington in the late fifties), a dutifully developed take on Jobim’s The Girl From Ipanema (led by Gillette), and then we get the emphatically strident, drum-led Watch What Happens.

Along next is the veritably shimmering, late night, smoky jazz club ambiance of On Green Dolphin Street and the cultured, mellow even You’ve Changed, before we are gifted the dulcet Perdido, a stunningly splendid Medley: I’ll Close My Eyes/Close Your Eyes, the album rounding out on the rather joyous brushstrokes within Gone With The Wind, closing on the gently rambunctious Blues For Burns.

There’s a novelty in witnessing someone as famous as Penn Jillette suddenly outside of his comfort zone, but that soon wears off as he ably anchors each of these tunes. What remains is the celebratory flair and the dauntless swing of a trio led by a pianist who has enjoyed a unique position for 21 years – after a new stage redesign he’ll even have his name up in lights – that provides him a spotlight several nights a week. “I get to try out all kinds of new ideas and stretch out all the time,” he says. “And I know that Penn is going to be underneath me, playing solidly.”

Mike Jones Official Website

Official Purchase Link

Title - Andrew Gold’s Fraternal Order of the All
Artist - Greetings From Planet Love

Andrew Gold’s pastiche psychedelic masterpiece The Fraternal Order of the All – Greetings from Planet Love will be released on CD on July 28th, 2023 via Esoteric Recordings.

Initially released in 1997, the album was conceived by Andrew Gold as a tribute to late 60s psychedelic rock. His remarkable compositions were wonderful stylistic evocations of artists such as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Byrds and The Doors.

The project saw Gold create the fictitious band The Fraternal Order of the All, in reality Andrew playing most of the instrumentation and singing, along with guest musicians such as 10cc legend Graham Gouldman.

Also available as a limited edition double LP, it is pressed on 10-inch colored splatter vinyl and features a newly designed lavish gatefold sleeve.

In truth, and much like us all, I wouldn’t wonder, I have always had a warm spot for some of Gold’s hits, namely the high-school buddies anthem Thank You For Being A Friend (later misappropriated by the TV show Golden Girls) and Lonely Boy, another high-school anthem for guys like me.

I was almost an outcast, saved from that fate only by my own well-disciplined and valuable but small following which was made up of boys and girls who had been stupidly rejected by the cliques which I had no use for whatsoever.

But, I digress, for I had always considered Gold to be a nice sounding one trick pony, talented but limited in depth and staying power. That was before I heard Rainbow People in the mid-naughties, and started tracking it down, and ended up with the title of a wonderful album I couldn’t buy for any amount of money for several years!

As time passed, I discovered that Rainbow People was part of an album Gold produced merely to satisfy his own creative urges, and perhaps satisfy a few of his rabid fanboys. That album’s name varied over the years, much like the sightings of the Yeti, but is generally known as Fraternal Order of the All -- a make-believe band where Gold made himself the lead singer/guitarist/instrumentalist of just about everything, just to have all kinds of sonic fun spoofing the great masters of sixties through eighties rock and roll!

Now loving restored and remastered by Esoteric Recordings in the UK (under Cherry Red Records), this 20-track recording is as magnificent, as cultured, as fun and as musically impassioned as I have ever heard before.

Clearly falling into the niche of vanity production, sure, why not, perhaps mainly because there are scant credits for other artists besides Gold himself, that does not matter one single iota, as the album is so clean and so much fun to listen to that you really don’t care if there was a cast of a one or thousands having made it!

As for the music itself, the British rock, Beatles-styled psychedelic sounds truly abound on this album, in the production values, instrumental work, and songwriting style. Highlights include Tuba Rye and Will’s Son/Balloon in the Sky (with its Beach Boys-like vocal intro), Rainbow People, Freelove Baby, the three instrumentals that help the mood along (Swirl, Twirl, and Whirl, lest we forget the Groovy Party at Jimmy’s Magic Pad), and the trippy title track, of course.

1. Greetings from Planet Love 2. Rainbow People 3. Love Tonight 4. Chasing My Tail 5. Swirl 6. Tuba Rye and Will’s Son / Balloon in the Sky 7. King of Showbiz 8. Whirl 9. Freelove Baby 10. Groovy Party at Jimmy’s Magic Pad 11. It’s Beautiful 12. Wink of the Third Eye 13. It Has No Eyes But Sight 14. Twirl 15. Space and Time 16. Time Is Standing Still 17. Ride the Snake 18. Mr Plastic Business Man 19. Ccosmicc Ccarnivall 20. Tomorrow Drop Dead

Andrew Gold Official Website

Official Purchase Link

Title - Friends & Family
Artist - Firefall

When a group reaches their fifth decade like Firefall has, they develop deep roots with their fellow musicians, whether it’s from sharing touring bills or the shuffling of band members.

On their new album Friends & Family (arriving September 22nd, 2023 on Sunset Blvd Records), Firefall celebrates these relationships by performing songs from bands whose histories are intertwined with Firefall’s.

These 13 tracks, representing multiple Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, country rock pioneers, Southern rock superstars, and Top 40 hit-makers, create an album that stands - in the words of Firefall’s remaining founding member, guitarist Jock Bartley - “as a tribute to the great music of the 70s.”

“The ‘concept’ of this album is unique and exciting,” Firefall co-founder Jock Bartley continues. “Many of the original FIREFALL band members – Rick Roberts, Jock Bartley, Mark Andes, Michael Clarke, Larry Burnett & David Muse – had played and would play in other famous bands (The Byrds, Flying Burrito Bros., Spirit, Dan Fogelberg, Heart, Gram Parsons). In 1976-77 FIREFALL played on tour & got to be friends with many top bands of the day; Doobie Bros., Loggins & Messina, The Band (!!), Fleetwood Mac, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marshal Tucker and others.”

“FRIENDS & FAMILY” album is FIREFALL in 2023 respectfully and lovingly re-creating those other band’s songs, honoring those bands and that amazing time in American music: the late 1960s and 1970s!! FIREFALL is honored and thankful to have played a small role in that fantastic musical era.”

1. Long Train Running (The Doobie Brothers)
2. Part of The Plan (Dan Fogelberg)
3. What About Love (Heart)
4. Can’t You See (The Marshall Tucker Band)
5. In The Heart of The Night (Poco)
6. Angry Eyes (Loggins & Messina)
7. Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
8. I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better (The Byrds)
9. World Turning (Fleetwood Mac)
10. I Got A Line On You (Spirit)
11. Chest Fever (The Band)
12. Colorado (The Flying Burrito Bros)
13. Ooh Las Vegas (Gram Parsons)

This mighty fine new recording opens on a stupendous Long Train Running (The Doobie Brothers) and some dulcet, harmonious tones come to the fore on the delightful Part of The Plan (Dan Fogelberg) and they are followed by a powerhouse What About Love (Heart), their rendition of a song that easily resonates with the pain inside a lot of us, Can’t You See (The Marshall Tucker Band), then we get the beautiful, wholesome hipsway of In The Heart of The Night (Poco), the soul-soothing (and what just be one of greatest songs ever written) Angry Eyes (Loggins & Messina), and then we get the first single released, a dutifully impassioned Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd).

Along next is their take on the timeless classic, and easily one of the best pop songs of all time, I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better (The Byrds) and then they grow into one of the most under-known, under-played, under-appreciated cuts ever written, Fleetwood Mac’s World Turning, before bringing us one of the early power-pop classics, I Got A Line On You (Spirit), the Hammond-led, growling rock of Chest Fever (The Band), the album rounding out on their beautifully atmospheric take on The Flying Burrito Bros’s Colorado, closing on the Cumberland blues groove that propels the frenetic Ooh Las Vegas.

Firefall - Simple Man [Official Music Video]

Official Website

Official Purchase Links

Title - What You Feel Is Real
Artist - Nina de Vitry

Nashville-based singer-songwriter Nina de Vitry’s brand new album What You Feel Is Real is a collection of songs that she feels truly showcase her eclectic musical inspirations.

Indeed, from softer songwriting moments and a swinging jazz number to a driving Dolly Parton-inspired tune, no two songs on the album have the same flavor.

She is also thrilled by the incredible musicianship that shines through from every player on every single track. You’ll hear tasty piano or rhodes on almost every song, catchy horn parts and dreamy string arrangements, and grooving bass lines and drums.

Nina’s hope is that the messages these songs and sounds carry can inspire self love, mental health awareness, personal empowerment, and hope. For at its core, the album is a plea to open one’s heart: to oneself, to others, and the the world, as well as a lesson in holding dualities without conflict.

1. History
2. Wrong Thing
3. Don’t Remind Me
4. Bright Star
5. Being with Myself
6. Life You Could Be Living
7. Song for You
8. Home
9. Mother of Mine
10. Open
11. What You Feel Is Real

This beautifully sculpted new recording opens on the low slung ambiance of the breathy History and the mid-tempo swing found within Wrong Thing and then brings us the gently furtive Don’t Remind Me, the softly-sculpted balladry of Bright Star, and then we get the beautiful Being with Myself and the smooth foot-tapper Life You Could Be Living.

Along next on this wholly impassioned album is the sumptuous Song for You and the languishing Home, and they are in turn backed by the quiet finger-snapper Mother of Mine, the album rounding out on a song intended to coax listeners out of their shells, the resoundingly beautiful, aching approachable Open, coming to a close on the dreamy, titular What You Feel Is Real.

Nina de Vitry - Open [Official Music Video]

Official Website

Nina de Vitry @ Facebook

Nina de Vitry @ YouTube

Title - Headwinds
Artist - The Kennedys

For those unaware, The Kennedys are set to release Headwinds, their first album of newly minted, original songs in five years.

Songwriting duo Peter and Maura Kennedy make a strong return to the studio and stage after three years of weekly live-streamed, lockdown-era concerts. They took the opportunity to explore classic songwriting in depth, performing over a thousand songs during the pandemic.

That vast overview strengthened and refined their own writing and laid the foundation for this new collection of original, socially conscious songs.

After such a deep dive into American roots music, we felt like we had a new set of writing tools, says Maura. We were ready to create this body of work, and there’s just so much to write about. During our five-year hiatus from writing and recording, America changed in massive ways, divisive ways that have shaken our whole foundation.

In addition to singing and writing, Pete and Maura are multi-instrumentalists. The 13 songs are cast in a soundscape that draws the classic canon of American roots, in keeping with the theme of getting back home as a nation.

Acoustic and electric guitars, a vintage steel guitar, a gospel-inflected piano/organ mix, and even a slide ukulele all add colors to a song bag of sounds that have drawn us together during hard times. Pete and Maura even believe that those sounds still have the power to pull us through again.

1. New Set of Wheels
2. Late September Breeze
3. Silence Is A Warning
4. Headwinds
5. The Sky Doesn’t Look Right
6. The Boy From The East River Shore
7. Little Green Bottles
8. The Woods and The Wild
9. Tangerine
10. Sacramento
11. Yolanda
12. Donna
13. Waging Peace

This beautifully sculpted new recording opens on the pulsing New Set of Wheels and the late evening, porch swinging yearn within Late September Breeze and then brings us the harmonious Silence Is A Warning, the simply gorgeous Headwinds, and then we get the electrified The Sky Doesn’t Look Right, the sumptious ’60s hipsway of The Boy From The East River Shore, and the fiddle-tastic Little Green Bottles.

Along next on this wholly impassioned album is the textured, ’60s-hued The Woods and The Wild and the gently rambunctious Tangerine, and they are in turn backed by the foot-tapper Sacramento, the album rounding out on the opulent Yolanda, the veritably shimmering Donna, coming to a close on the lustrously stirring Waging Peace.

The Kennedys - Headwinds [Official Music Video]

Official Website

The Kennedys @ Facebook

Title - Oi! The Singles: 1977-1985 [4CD Box-Set]
Artist - Various

Oi! The Singles 1977-1985 is a massive 101 track 4CD clamshell box set featuring the A and B-sides of 37 Oi! related singles, all released between 1977-85.

It also includes ‘pioneers’ like Cock Sparrer, Slaughter & The Dogs and Menace via flag bearers like Angelic Upstarts and Cockney Rejects through to Oi! legends The Business, 4- Skins, Last Resort and Infa-Riot and not forgetting lesser known bands like Criminal Class, Subculture and Case. Simply put, it’s all killer and no filler!

The lavish booklet that accompanies it contains illustrations of all of these highly prized (and expensive!) singles along with informative notes on each release.

CD 1:
1. COCK SPARRER Runnin’ Riot 2. COCK SPARRER Sister Suzie 3. SLAUGHTER & THE DOGS Where Have All The Boot Boys Gone? 4. SLAUGHTER & THE DOGS You’re A Bore 5. MENACE Screwed Up 6. MENACE Insane Society 7. ANGELIC UPSTARTS The Murder Of Liddle Towers 8. ANGELIC UPSTARTS Police Oppression 9. COCKNEY REJECTS Flares ‘N’ Slippers 10. COCKNEY REJECTS Police Car 11. COCKNEY REJECTS I Wanna Be A Star 12. ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT 1980 13. ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT Mechanical Man 14. THE 4 SKINS One Law For Them 15. THE 4 SKINS Brave New World 16. BLITZ Someone’s Gonna Die 17. BLITZ Attack 18. BLITZ Fight To Live 19. BLITZ 45 Revolutions 20. INFA-RIOT Kids Of The 80’s 21. INFA-RIOT Still Out Of Order 22. THE BUSINESS Harry May 23. THE BUSINESS National Insurance Blacklist (Be A Rebel And You’ll Always Be Wrong) 24. THE LAST RESORT Violence In Our Minds 25. THE LAST RESORT Held Hostage 26. THE LAST RESORT Soul Boys

This incredible collection of Oi! punk hits from back in the day, opens on two from a band formed in 1972, COCK SPARRER, the aptly-frenetic Runnin’ Riot and the Saxon-esque guitar work within Sister Suzie, then two from a band formed in 1975, SLAUGHTER & THE DOGS with the scorching Where Have All The Boot Boys Gone? and the drum-led rocker You’re A Bore, then we get two from a band formed in 1976, MENACE and their melodically-furtive Screwed Up and the angst-ridden Insane Society.

Up next is a duo from a band formed in 1977, the ANGELIC UPSTARTS, their debut single which actually championed the cause of the Birtley boxer who died after a night in a police cell, Murder Of Liddle Towers and the killer Police Oppression, then come three from a band formed in 1978, the brilliant COCKNEY REJECTS with the fist-clencher Flares ‘N’ Slippers, the angry Police Car and the street punk of I Wanna Be A Star, and then come two from a band formed in 1978, ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT and their thunderous 1980 and the more melodically-charged Mechanical Man.

Along next is a pair from a band formed in late 1979, the powerfully archetypal THE 4 SKINS and their rambunctious One Law For Them and the politically-charged Brave New World, then comes a quartet from a band formed in 1980, BLITZ and their pulsating Someone’s Gonna Die, the frenetic Attack, the drum led, anthemic rocker Fight To Live and the Ramones-esque 45 Revolutions, then we get two from a band formed in 1980, the message-ridden Kids Of The 80’s and the foot-tapper Still Out Of Order, the disc rounding out with two from a band formed in 1979, THE BUSINESS with their fist-clenched Harry May and the anarcho punk sounds of National Insurance Blacklist (Be A Rebel And You’ll Always Be Wrong), closing on a trio from a band formed in 1980 THE LAST RESORT, with the foot-tapping Violence In Our Minds, the guitar-tastic Held Hostage and the fruity-worded Soul Boys.

CD 2:
1. RED ALERT In Britain 2. RED ALERT Screaming At The Nation 3. RED ALERT Murder Missile 4. THE CRACK Don’t You Ever Let Me Down 5. THE CRACK I Can’t Take It 6. THE GONADS Punk Rock Will Never Die 7. THE GONADS Got Any Wrigleys John? 8. THE GONADS Sandra Bigg (Really Big) 9. THE GONADS I Lost My Love To A UK Sub 10. THE GONADS Annie’s Song 11. ANTISOCIAL Backstreet Boys 12. ANTISOCIAL Your Choice 13. ANTISOCIAL New Punks 14. ANTISOCIAL Screw U 15. THE EJECTED Have You Got 10p? 16. THE EJECTED Class Of ’82 17. THE EJECTED One Of The Boys 18. CRUX Keep On Running 19. CRUX Streets At Night 20. CRUX Brighton Front 21. CRUX I’ll Die With My Boots On 22. CRIMINAL CLASS Fighting The System 23. CRIMINAL CLASS Soldier 24. THE 4 SKINS Low Life 25. THE 4 SKINS Bread Or Blood

This magnificent 4CD set continues onward with three from the band formed in 1979, RED ALERT and their brilliant head banger In Britain, their fist-pumper Screaming At The Nation and the angst-ridden Murder Missile, then comes a band formed in 1980, THE CRACK and their melodic rocker Don’t You Ever Let Me Down and the guitar-led I Can’t Take It, then comes a quintet from a band who began in the backstreets of London in 1977, THE GONADS and their emphatic Punk Rock Will Never Die, the forceful Got Any Wrigleys John?, the rhythmic rocker Sandra Bigg (Really Big), and the tongue in cheek I Lost My Love To A UK Sub, then comes their Any Old Iron so-called remake, the 27 second Annie’s Song.

A band formed in the heat of the punk era, 1977, ANTISOCIAL are up next with a foursome, including their propulsive Backstreet Boys, the guitar heavy Your Choice, the drum-led track that sounds like old Disorder New Punks, and then we get the skinhead bop of Screw U, and they are backed by a trio from a band formed in 1980, THE EJECTED and their classic poncing tune Have You Got 10p?, the rhythmical Class Of ’82 and the forceful One Of The Boys, before we are brought a quartet from a band formed in 1980, CRUX and their panged Keep On Running, the fully-charged Streets At Night, the forthright Brighton Front and the raw skinhead trance of I’ll Die With My Boots On, and then the second disc rounds out with a pair from a band formed in 1979, CRIMINAL CLASS and their passionately intelligent Fighting The System and drum-led beauty Soldier, closing on two more from THE 4 SKINS: the fist-clenched salute of Low Life and the skinhead rash of Bread Or Blood.

CD 3:
1. MENACE G.L.C. 2. MENACE I’m Civilised 3. ANGELIC UPSTARTS I’m An Upstart 4. ANGELIC UPSTARTS Leave Me Alone 5. COCKNEY REJECTS I’m Not A Fool 6. COCKNEY REJECTS East End 7. THE 4 SKINS Yesterdays Heroes 8. THE 4 SKINS Justice 9. THE 4 SKINS Get Out Of My Life 10. BLITZ Never Surrender 11. BLITZ Razors In The Night 12. THE BUSINESS Smash The Discos 13. THE BUSINESS Disco Girls 14. THE BUSINESS Dayo (The Banana Boat Song) 15. INFA-RIOT The Winner 16. INFA-RIOT School’s Out 17. THE CRACK Going Out 18. THE CRACK The Troops Have Landed 19. SUBCULTURE Loud & Clear 20. SUBCULTURE Rogue Trooper 21. SUBCULTURE University City 22. THE GONADS She Can’t Whip Me 23. THE GONADS Punk City Rockers 24. THE GONADS Gonads Anthem 25. THE GONADS S.L.A.G.

The third disc opens on two from a band formed in 1976, MENACE and their skinhead riot within G.L.C. and The Rotten Klitz-esque I’m Civilised and then we get two more from the ANGELIC UPSTARTS and their high energy of I’m An Upstart and the skinhead teen anthem Leave Me Alone, and then we get another duo from COCKNEY REJECTS, the engaging I’m Not A Fool and the brutal football chant East End, and then we get another trio from THE 4 SKINS with the melodic punk of Yesterdays Heroes, the politically forthright Justice and the twanging guitar-hued Get Out Of My Life, and two more from BLITZ, in the speed and aggression of Never Surrender and the no frills Razors In The Night.

Up next is a band formed in 1979, THE BUSINESS and their drum-propelled Smash The Discos, the soaring Disco Girls and their unique take on the song based on a Jamaican folk song, Dayo (The Banana Boat Song), and then we get two more from INFA-RIOT, the strength of The Winner and a rousing School’s Out (but not the Alice Cooper cut), and then two more from THE CRACK, with their forceful Going Out and the combative, yet melodic The Troops Have Landed, then we get a trio from a band formed in 1980 SUBCULTURE, with their seething Loud & Clear, the rambunctious Rogue Trooper, and the cracking University City, the disc closing on another foursome from THE GONADS: the high-vocalized She Can’t Whip Me, the piano-blues-rock of Punk City Rockers, and both the sing-along fun of Gonads Anthem and the piano-driven rocker S.L.A.G.

CD 4:
1. COCK SPARRER England Belongs To Me 2. COCK SPARRER Argy Bargy 3. THE BUSINESS Loud Proud + Punk 4. BLITZ Voice Of A Generation (Poor No More) 5. THE GONADS TNT 6. DEAD GENERATION Francine 7. VENOM Where’s Dock Green 8. THE STRIKE Victim 9. EAST END BADOES The Way It’s Got To Be 10. SKIN DISEASE I’m Thick 11. ANGELA RIPPON’S BUM Fight For Your Lives 12. THE OPPRESSED Victims 13. THE OPPRESSED Work Together 14. THE EJECTED Fast ‘N’ Loud 15. THE EJECTED I Don’t Care 16. THE EJECTED What Happened In Brighton 17. CASE Smiling My Life Away 18. CASE Oh 19. CASE Criminal Ways 20. THE INFAS Sound And Fury 21. THE INFAS Triffic Spiv Ya OK 22. THE BUSINESS Get Out Of My House 23. THE BUSINESS All Out Tonight 24. THE BUSINESS Foreign Girl 25. THE BUSINESS Outlaw

The fourth, and final disc opens on two more from COCK SPARRER in their rhythmic rocker England Belongs To Me and the gentle headbanger Argy Bargy, and then we get THE BUSINESS and their drum-led rock out Loud Proud + Punk, BLITZ and their seething Voice Of A Generation (Poor No More), THE GONADS and their rather smooth rocker TNT, the lesser known DEAD GENERATION and a quite brilliant Francine, then comes VENOM and their Dixon Of Dock Green parody rocker Where’s Dock Green, THE STRIKE with the angered Victim and EAST END BADOES with their unpretty The Way It’s Got To Be.

Up next is SKIN DISEASE with their masterful I’m Thick and the cutely-named ANGELA RIPPON’S BUM with the free-flowing mod-rock of Fight For Your Lives, and then we get two from a band formed in 1981 THE OPPRESSED, and their full on Victims and the drum-led Work Together, three from THE EJECTED in the frenetic Fast ‘N’ Loud, the tell-it-like-it-is I Don’t Care and the street savvy What Happened In Brighton, then comes a trio from a band formed in 1979 CASE and their irate Smiling My Life Away, the fraught Oh and the truth told within the lines of Criminal Ways, the disc, and this magnificent collection, rounding out on two from a band formed at the end of 1980 THE INFAS, and their jangly Sound And Fury and forthright Triffic Spiv Ya OK, closing on another quartet from THE BUSINESS: the Herbert-quoted fun of Get Out Of My House, the short but sweet All Out Tonight, and both the anthemic Foreign Girl and the expert storytelling within the old school rocker Outlaw.

Official 4CD Purchase Link

Title - Gently As I Go
Artist - Caroline Cotter

Throughout the years​,​ Caroline ​Cotter ​has found a true home on the road and on diverse musical stages internationally, with audiences captivated by her vulnerable vocal quality which belies her insightful and award-winning songwriting.

Caroline’s third national release, Gently as I Go​​ takes listeners around the world, back home, and deep into the human heart. Since her debut album, Dreaming as I Do​,​ which was the ​number five CD of the Month on the FAI Folk DJ Charts in 2015, Caroline has performed over 1000 shows in 45 states and 14 countries, with a follow​-​up release in 2018, Home on ​the River​.​

Gently as I Go​ will be released on August​ 18th, 2023​, and veritably pulls the listener in. Exploring travel and connection, empowerment and creative practice, love, life and death, nostalgia and growing up, loss and gratitude, it’s got all emotional bases covered here with each of the 11 original songs.

1. Coming Your Way
2. Don’t Wait
3. The Year of the Wrecking Ball
4. The Call
5. Gone Away
6. Remind Me of You
7. Antonia
8. Gently As A Go
9. Enough
10. Do You Love Me
11. Morning Mantra

This amazingly impassioned, cathartic expression of ones life experience, opens on the beautifully sculpted Coming Your Way (“Find me somewhere out on the road / Take me into your heart and into your home”), where Cotter reminds us that home can be anywhere, if you’ve found someone who shares your heart, and then we get Don’t Wait, the first single from the album, in which she encourages listeners to seize the day, the heartfelt The Year of the Wrecking Ball, and then comes the impassioned The Call and the cymbal-led, profound, veritably Celtic in its ambiance, Gone Away.

On an album where the singer-songwriter ended up having to wait three years to release it, due to its completion in March of 2020, just before the world shut down, we are next brought the dulcet, yearning love song Remind Me of You and the absorbing Antonia and they are in turn backed by Gently As I Go (“I’ve got roots that go deep and grow deeper the more I leave my home”), Cotter sings in the charismatic title cut, then comes the charming Enough, the album rounding out on the upbeat, free flowingly quirky Do You Love Me (“Find a penny, pick it up, maybe it’s beginners luck; throw spaghetti at the wall, if it’s not ready, it’ll fall”), coming to a close on the warmly harmonized, inner glow of Morning Mantra (which is itself a reminder to keep going in a world that often feels dark, sad, and full of troubles).

“Songwriting for me is a cathartic expression of my life experience. It’s creative expression that just completely shifts me and gets out the ickiness,” shares Cotter, recounting a recent moment when sitting down and writing a song wiped away the anxious feeling she had been dealing with all day. “Seeing new things and connecting with people helps also, because I can get so deep into my own head, and the second I start a conversation with somebody else, it’s not about me anymore.”

And it’s a win-win. “It’s inevitable that after a show, somebody will come and share their experience with me,” Cotter says, “so it’s got the right effect, you know? It helps us all feel not alone.”

Don’t Wait - Caroline Cotter [Official Music Video]

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Title - Dutch Motel
Artist - Little Falls Trophy

Every musician winds up being the sum of their influences, but the truly great ones find distinctive ways to filter and adapt what they’ve absorbed from their heroes and peers alike into an original soundtrack all their own. Such is the case for Doug Albregts, the one-man band known as Little Falls Trophy.

Like many musicians before him, Albregts looked to The Beatles for guidance, but he found his own path for building upon The Fab Four’s impeccable songwriting template. “They were a trigger point for me because I was not a seasoned songwriter at the time,” Albregts observes. “I was taking notes while watching them as kids, and what struck me was their natural instincts. They took relatively simple things and were able to make them so unique, yet they also remained so complex in their own way.”

Those insightful observations also describe Little Falls Trophy’s second album, Dutch Motel, to a T. Dutch Motel is set for digital release on July 21st, 2023 from Rock Ridge Music, with a limited edition 180-gram vinyl pressing available exclusively on the Little Falls Trophy website and at upcoming shows.

1. Thursday’s Friday
2. Autumn Audio
3. My Little Sunshine
4. Project 6636
5. Universal
6. Heart Spark
7. Shared Melody
8. Irreverent
9. Sidelined
10. Silhouette
11. Janie and Jimmy

This melodically infused, and emotionally reflective new album opens on the drum-guitar, mid-tempo rocker Thursday’s Friday (which nods to our collective addiction to social media) and the languishing Autumn Audio and then we are given the playful little love song My Little Sunshine, the soaring synth-electro pop of Project 6636, and then comes the R.E.M.-esque Universal.

On an album that according to Doug himself, feels like a sing-along journey for those who give it a spin, and quite rightly so, up next is the euphoric rock sewn within the melodic Heart Spark, the foot tapper Shared Melody, and they are in turn backed seamlessly by the brilliant ’90s alt-rock flashback of Irreverent, the mellow, low slung indie sounds found within Sidelined, the recording rounding out on the psych-hued Silhouette, closing on the storytelling of Janie and Jimmy.

A modern throwback, of sorts, if you like the ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s time period of music, the album has got a little something for you all. The hooks and melodies will get you singing. The beats and rhythms will have your body moving. For there truly is something for everyone here on this delightfully soulful album.

While the band name Little Falls Trophy is a direct homage to a well-loved, family-owned trophy shop located in Albregts’ home state of New Jersey, it’s also meant to encompass the evocative broad-stroke ruminations of a 21st century American songwriter wholly in touch with the life-pulse of the cultural here and now. “Yeah, I’d say the name refers to Anywheretown, USA,” admits Albregts. “At first I was only using it as a placeholder, but the more I lived with it, it just seemed to fit perfectly.”

Dutch Motel is the portal pit stop that sets the course for where Doug Albregts the artist will travel next. Every one of this galvanizing album’s 11 songs are no mere dress rehearsals — they are all visceral chronicles of modern life being lived to the fullest. And now, the endless sonic awards of Little Falls Trophy’s Dutch Motel await your ears.

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Title - éclipse
Artist - Aline’s Étoile Magique

For those unaware, Aline Homzy is an award-winning violinist and composer. Originally from Montreal, born to a Québécois mom and an American dad with Eastern-European roots, Aline’s original music reflects her culturally-diverse background.

Beyond composing music, Aline is a regular violinist in the studios of Toronto, recording other artists’ original music. Aline is seeked-out for her lightning-fast sight-reading skills, her deep knowledge of jazz and improvisation and her musicality and upbeat personality.

Some artists that she has recorded for include David Occhipinti, Andrew Downing, Iskwé, The Weather Station, Amanda Tosoff and many more. She is also the leader of the string section for SymphRONica (2019 Juno-nominated), Maurizio Guarini’s “A Goblin’s Chamber Music”, De Bouche à oreille – série de spectacles francophone, and many other Toronto-based projects that record and perform in the city.

Recorded with her group Aline’s Étoile Magique, her new recording is entitled éclipse and is due out August 25th, 2023.

Joining her on the album are vibraphonist Michael Davidson (Joe Chambers), guitarist Thom Gill (Knower), Dan Fortin (Bernice) on bass, and Marito Marques (Ivan Lins) on drums, with special guests João Frade on accordion and vocalist Felicity Williams.

All 11 tracks on the album are originals, save for Charlie Parker’s “Segment,” which receives a spacey studio treatment that it fits right in with the rest of the album.

1. Caraway
2. Cosmos
3. Hanakotoba
4. Circa Herself
5. Rose du ciel
6. Alines are Pieces of Wind
7. La belle et l’abeille
8. Mesarthim
9. Starring Space
10. Segment
11. Bientôt, we will collide

This emotively impassioned, heartfelt and generously sumptuous new debut recording opens on the spirited Caraway and then confidently leads us into the smooth Cosmos, before we are brought forth the veritably glistening Hanakotoba, and the rambunctiously playful Circa Herself and the stoically ethereal Rose du ciel.

Along next is the sci-fi imbibed Aliens are Pieces of Wind and the shimmering La belle et l’abeille and they are followed seamlessly by the languishing Mesarthim, the first single from the album, a jazzy instrumental tune entitled Starring Space, the album rounding out on their resplendent rendition of Charlie Parker’s Segment, closing on the decadent Bientôt, we will collide.

“Starring Space provides opportunity for musical conversation-like settings with the rest of the ensemble,” Homzy says. “The song explores an array of folkloric musics enmeshed with a jazz-rooted process of improvisation. It seeks to embrace the nostalgia of a given moment or narrative while inviting the listener to imagine the mysterious worlds beyond the Earth and within each of us.”

The song’s title, says Homzy, “Seeks to harmonize two of the main themes of this album. The first being a complete and all-encompassing awe of the breadth and possibility of space, followed by the experience of the listener as they are encouraged to come along for an uplifting journey, a celebration of improvisation and folkloric rhythmic dialogues. It’s as if each listener is presented with an opportunity to find their own little stars of memory, and the space to paint the night sky with each one as they see fit.”

Aline Homzy - violin, voice, theremin
Michael Davidson - vibraphone, marimba, piano, synth
Marito Marques - percussion and drums
Dan Fortin - bass
Thom Gill - guitars
João Frade - accordion
Felicity Williams - voice

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Title - Holz-Strathis: Collaborative
Artist - Bob Holz

For those not in the know, Bob Holz releases Holz-Stathis: Collaborative, a definitive jazz fusion recording featuring the giants of jazz this upcoming September 8th, 2023.

On Bob’s sixth album for MVD Audio, we hear the evolution of one of jazz’s most prolific artists in the last ten years. Blending jazz, funk, Latin, pop and classical, Holz-Stathis: Collaborative takes the listener on an epic journey.

A journey which encompasses Bob’s evolving career beginning with albums with the late Larry Coryell, Stanley Clarke and Mike Stern and now culminating with a 2023 release that’s sure to garner widespread attention.

The new album features the first recording in decades utilizing the talents of Mahavishnu Orchestra alumni John McLaughlin, Jean Luc Ponty and Ralphe Armstrong. Holz’s musical expression of the pain incurred by the world during the pandemic is brought to forefront on World Turned Upside Down.

Contrasting is Make Me Smile, a tune originally recorded by Chicago. Here Holz utilizes the vocal talents of Elliot Yamin (American Idol) and Rolling Stones bassist Darryl Jones to deliver a refreshingly modern rendition of the classic Chicago track.

1. The Tunnel
2. Island Sun Love
3. Alex’s Dream
4. World Turned Upside Down
5. Side Scratch
6. Volta
7. Palo Viejo
8. Back to You
9. Wondering
10. You Can Get It
11. Better Try
12. Flight of Fancy
13. Make Me Smile
14. Lookin’ Back

This amazingly impassioned new recording opens on the funky grooves threaded through The Tunnel and the smoldering Latin-hued hipsway of Island Sun Love and they are in turn backed by the drum-fed Alex’s Dream, the atmospheric World Turned Upside Down, more smooth funk in the form of Side Scratch, and then we get the veritably shimmering Volta and the gently furtive Palo Viejo.

Along next is the lushly sculpted noir feel of Back to You and the beautiful flight of fancy brought forth within Wondering and then we get more deliciously grooved funk within You Can Get It, the dutifully romantic, saxophone-imbibed balladry of Better Try, the free flowing Flight of Fancy, the album rounding out on a spirited, breathtakingly heartwarming rendition of Chicago’s abounding Make Me Smile, closing on one more dip into the groove pool with the sumptuous Lookin’ Back.

As a drummer, Holz has made a significant mark in the jazz world and here he expands his love of Latin jazz fusion rhythms by teaming up with Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira, Alex Acuna (Weather Report) and Joey Heredia. This album exemplifies Holz’s reputation as one of the top players in jazz and fusion. The drums on this album sound amazing due to platinum recording engineer Dennis Moody’s renowned drum recording techniques.

Not to neglect the horns and woodwinds, Bob brings in Randy Brecker, Brandon Fields, Ada Rovatti and David Goldberg to capture some iconic passages on this amazing fourteen track album. Other aritists on Holz-Stathis: Collaborative include Dean Brown, Ric Fierabracci, Jamie Glaser, Billy Steinway, Ben Shepherd and Diana Moreira.

Bob Holz- Make Me Smile- From Holz-Stathis:Collaborative [Official Music Video]

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Title - Trouble Is Good
Artist - Lance Lopez

Lance Lopez was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. At the age of 12, he moved to Dallas to live with his mother, and then on to New Orleans, two years later, to reside with his father. By the age of 14, Lopez was playing guitar in the local bars and clubs in the French Quarter in New Orleans, already a professional musician.

His time in high school was split between New Orleans and Florida, after his father moved again. Lopez continued to play in local clubs on evenings and weekends. The family returned to Dallas when Lopez was 17 years old. He was recruited at the tender age of 17 by Grammy-nominated, Blues Hall of Famer, blues/soul legend Johnnie Taylor, and Lopez toured in Taylor’s band around the Chitlin Circuit for six months.

At the age of 18, Lopez was hired by acclaimed bluesman Lucky Peterson with whom he toured the world for three years. During this time Lopez established a friendship with drummer Buddy Miles, and he became the guitarist for a couple of brief spells for the Buddy Miles Express. Miles mentored Lopez, leading to Miles co-producing Lopez’s debut album, First Things First (1998).

In December 2000, Lopez and his band toured Europe, which led to him to supporting both Steve Vai and Jeff Beck the following year. In 2001, Lopez opened for B.B. King in Texas, and he and his band was awarded the Blues Band of the Year Award at the Dallas Music Awards.

Lopez released his second album, Wall of Soul, in 2003 which was co-produced by, and also featured red-hot blues guitarist Eric Gales. After the release of Wall of Soul, Lopez performed around Texas, opening shows for Los Lonely Boys and Joe Bonamassa.

Lopez released his third album, Simplify Your Vision (2006) and his fourth album, Higher Ground came out in 2007. Over the period between 2008 and 2011, Lopez toured in Europe extensively, playing at larger music festivals and supporting acts including ZZ Top, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, and Rod Stewart.

In 2009, Lopez had signed to German label MIG (Made In Germany) Records. He released two well-received albums on MIG, Salvation from Sundown, and Handmade Music. In 2012, Supersonic Blues Machine was formed by Lopez, renowned drummer Kenny Aronoff, and bassist and record producer Fabrizio Grossi. They released their debut album in 2016, West of Flushing, South Of Frisco. The band was augmented on the recording by a stellar list of axe wielders including Billy Gibbons, Robben Ford, Walter Trout, Warren Haynes, Eric Gales and Chris Duarte.

Supersonic Blues Machine had its worldwide debut concert at the Holland International Blues Festival on June 4th, 2016, in Grolloo, the Netherlands whereby Lopez received great reviews of his whiskey-soaked vocals and burn-the-house-down guitar playing.

After the release of the band’s second album, Californisoul, the rigors of touring and the lifestyle caught up with Lopez and he left the band. He resurfaced with a live album, Live in NYC , which was issued on Cleopatra Records and resulted from Lopez attending, and performing at, the 70th birthday party for Johnny Winter.

Lopez then signed with the Mascot Label Group in November 2017, and his debut album on their Provogue Records imprint was Tell the Truth, which was released on March 2nd, 2018.

Now excited to be back with Cleopatra Records, the amazing Trouble is Good is the next step forward for Lance as he continues his exciting and interesting musical journey.

1. Easy To Leave (4:32)
2. Jam With Me (3:21)
3. Trouble Is Good (4:52)
4. Uncivil War (3:34)
5. Wild Country (3:34)
6. Take A Swing (3:16)
7. Trying In The Tri Star State (3:01)
8. Slow Down (3:34)
9. Reborn (3:07)
10. Voyager: Sunrise, Voyager, I Am Ra (7:04)

This sensationally impassioned, raw and yet cultured new recording opens on the smoking break up song Easy To Leave and the free flowing blues-rock of Jam With Me, and then brings us the atmospherically-charged title track Trouble Is Good, the low slung, at first, then ardent and heated Uncivil War and the rocking foot tapper Wild Country.

Along next is the boisterous bruiser Take A Swing and the drum-led rocker Trying In The Tri Star State and they are in turn followed by the aptly-named, mid-tempo Slow Down, the album rounding out on the vehemently sung Reborn, coming to a close on the Eastern-hued, expansive, 7 minute rocker Voyager: Sunrise, Voyager, I Am Ra.

Official Purchase Link

Official Website

Lance Lopez @ Facebook

Lance Lopez @ Instagram

Lance Lopez Band - She Loves My Automobile (Live, November 5th, 2018) [Official Music Video]

Title - When It’s Right – The Anthology (1991-2007) [3CD]
Artist - Gerald Levert

When It’s Right – The Anthology (1991-2007) is a first-of-its-kind 3CD anthology drawn from the nine solo albums recorded between 1991-2006 by award-winning multi-hyphenate singer, songwriter, producer and performer, the late Gerald Levert.

As the son of the legendary Eddie Levert, the founder/lead singer of The O’Jays, Gerald blended the time-honored traditions of 60s and 70s classic soul music with ’80s and ’90s lyrical themes and contemporary grooves to create a distinctive sound that appealed to global audiences for over a decade until his untimely passing in November 2006 at the age of 40.

Ergo, When It’s Right traces Gerald’s successful solo recording career, taking a deep dive into the three albums cut for EastWest America (1991-1998), four for Elektra (1999-2003) and two for Atlantic (2004-2007) and showcasing his multi-talented skills as a songwriter and producer, primarily working with musical partner Edwin ‘Tony’ Nicholas.

It features 45 tracks, including 20 US charted tracks including ‘Private Line’, Gerald’s No. 1 R&B hit and title cut of his million-selling 1991 solo debut set; ‘Baby Hold On To Me’, which featured his famed father, Eddie Levert of The O’Jays; 1994’s ‘I’d Give Anything’; and Gerald’s back-to-back 1998 pop/R&B hits ‘Thinkin’ About It’ and ‘Taking Everything’.

The rarities included are tracks such as ‘When It’s Right’, only available previously as a bonus track on the Japanese version of Gerald’s sophomore 1994 set, ‘Groove On’; a cover of the Rick James/Teena Marie classic duet, ‘Fire And Desire’, recorded with Sherena Wynn, released on a 1995 cassette single along with remix edits of ‘Can You Handle It’ and ‘I Wanna Be Bad’, all three tracks appearing on CD for the first time.

CD 1: School Me
1. Private Line
2. School Me
3. Baby Hold On To Me (with Eddie Levert)
4. Groove On
5. I’d Give Anything
6. Answering Service
7. Same Place,Same Time
8. Love Street
9. When It’s Right
10. Thinkin’ Bout It
11. That’s The Way I Feel About You (with Mary J Blige)
12. Taking Everything
13. Nothin’ To Somethin’
14. Mr. Too Damn Good

The first disc, labelled as School Me, opens on the straight up dance-soul of Private Line, the smoothness of the titular School Me, the velvety Baby Hold On To Me (with Eddie Levert) and then brings us the cultured funk of Groove On, the ballad that still gives me goosebumps today, I’d Give Anything, the timeless Answering Service, which are neatly followed by the the creamy R&B of Same Place,Same Time, the simply beautiful Love Street, the low slung When It’s Right, the emotional Thinkin’ Bout It, the disc rounding out on the dutiful collaboration that brought about That’s The Way I Feel About You (with Mary J Blige), the vibed Taking Everything, the pure R&B groove within Nothin’ To Somethin’ and the soulful blues of Mr. Too Damn Good.

CD 2: Baby U Are
1. Baby U Are
2. Spill A Little Love
3. Let Me Know
4. What Makes It Good To You (No Premature Lovin’)
5. Made To Love Ya
6. Dream With No Love
7. Funny
8. Closure
9. Stroke Of Genius
10. (They Long To Be) Close To You (with Tamia)
11. U Got That Love (Call It A Night)
12. Wear It Out
13. Didn’t We
14. Eyes And Ears (with Sean Levert & Eddie Levert)
15. Crucify Me
16. Everyday

The second disc, entitled Baby U Are, opens on the very same-named, and highly top notch titular song and then proceeds to bring us the shimmering Spill A Little Love, the R&B-imbibed Let Me Know, the powerfully beautiful What Makes It Good To You (No Premature Lovin’), before we are brought forth the definitive Made To Love Ya, the finger-snapping hipsway of Dream With No Love, the all-embracing Funny, and the passionate Closure.

Along next is the free-flowing R&B of Stroke Of Genius and the incredible, simply divine (They Long To Be) Close To You (with Tamia), and they are in turn backed by the harmonic U Got That Love (Call It A Night), the steamy Wear It Out, the Hip-Funk-R&B vibe within Didn’t We, the soulful brotherly love within Eyes And Ears (with Sean Levert & Eddie Levert), the disc rounding out on the slow funk groove of Crucify Me and the drum-led Everyday.

CD 3: Deep As It Goes
1. One Million Times
2. Click A Glass
3. In My Songs
4. DJ Don’t
5. Deep As It Goes
6. Can It Stay
7. Private Line (Radio Club Remix)
8. Can You Handle It (Remix Edit)*
9. I Wanna Be Bad (Remix Edit)*
10. School Me (Full Live Version)
11. Can’t Help Myself (Radio Remix)
12. Answering Service (Heavy D Remix)
13. Fire And Desire (ft. Sherena Wynn)*
14. Taking Everything (Soap Opera Remix Extended)
15. DJ Don’t (Remix ft Jaheim)

The third and final disc, labelled as Deep As It Goes, opens on the sweetly soulful One Million Times and the heartfelt Click A Glass, and they are seamlessly followed by the impassioned In My Songs, the upbeat funk of DJ Don’t, the spiritually emotional depth of both Deep As It Goes and Can It Stay, the remaining numbers remixes, duets and even a live cut of School Me. The stand outs here for me personally, being the aforementioned live track, the Radio Club Remix of Private Line, the Radio Remix of Can’t Help Myself, along with a Soap Opera Remix Extended cut of Taking Everything.

Created with expert project assistance and first class mastering by Donald Cleveland and stellar artwork by Roger Williams, this excellent overview of Gerald Levert’s legacy (executive-produced by SoulMusic Records’ founder David Nathan) features an in-depth, heartfelt essay by distinguished US writer Janine Coveney (who interviewed Gerald a number of times over the years) reflecting his contribution as a bridge between classic R&B and contemporary soul music and also includes a personal tribute from Dyana Williams, the renowned US broadcaster and media coach and quotes from respected US writer A. Scott Galloway.

Official 3CD Purchase Link

Title - Mr. Big - The Albums 1976-78 [3CD]
Artist - Mr. Big

Mr. Big - The Albums 1976-78 is a long overdue 3CD 44-track box-set rounding up the mid-70s recordings by Mr Big (the British version, not to be confused with the American band of the same name!).

Disc 1 is debut album ‘Sweet Silence’ which now comes with six previously non-LP, non-CD bonus tracks having been added, including the singles ‘Eee I’m Alright’, ‘Christmas With Dicken’ and ‘Lucky Man’.

The second disc is the ‘Mr Big’ album, making its debut on CD and features the international chart hits ‘Romeo’ (No.3 in the UK) and ‘Feel Like Calling Home’ (No.35 in the UK).

The final disc is the ‘Seppuku’ album. Produced by Mott The Hoople’s Ian Hunter it was supposed to have been released in 1978 but never saw the light of day until 2001.

It also comes with a colorful, and informative booklet containing in-depth liner notes by Phil Hendriks in conversation with vocalist / songwriter Dicken and drummer John Burnip.

CD 1: Sweet Silence
1. Time Base
2. Wonderful Creation
3. Golden Lights
4. Uncle John ‘B’
5. I Ain’t Bin A Man
6. Sweet Silence
7. Zambia
8. Enjoy It
9. Violet May
10. For The Fun To Find
11. Appeared A Shining Throne
12. Throne Second Amendment [Bonus Track]
13. Eee I’m Alright [Bonus Track]
14. I Ain’t Bin A Man (Single Version) [Bonus Track]
15. Christmas With Dicken [Bonus Track]
16. Time For A Laugh [Bonus Track]
17. Lucky Man [Bonus Track]
18. Josephine [Bonus Track]

Taking Queen and Mott the Hoople as the prime influences, Mr. Big’s 1975 debut Sweet Silence fully deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as these name bands. Led by wannabe guitar extraordinaire (Jeff) Dicken, and on the showing of this almost classic set of pop/rock, Mr. Big were one of the ones that got away.

Produced by early Queen maverick Roy Thomas Baker, all the signs are here of a band that was on the road to major stardom. With tracks as powerful as Wonderful Creation, the bombastic melodrama of Throne Second Amendment, and as cockney rock of Violet May (think Heavy Metal Kids), Sweet Silence bears all the hallmarks of a lost great rock gem.

I personally saw this band live supporting Queen in 1975 at the Rainbow Theatre and loved them from first blush. I loved them then and having listened to them again now on this re-release, well, I think I love them even more now!

Incidentally, the great Ian Hunter was quoted in Melody Maker in 1979 as follows about lead singer Dicken: Dicken is England’s Bruce Springsteen, if he can only get himself together. But not only was Dicken not remotely in the same league as Springsteen artistically, he (unlike, say, John Cafferty) did not sound remotely like him either!

CD 2: Mr. Big
1. Photographic Smile
2. Romeo
3. What Colour Is The Wind
4. Louisiana Street
5. Feel Like Calling Home
6. Goodbye World
7. Vampire
8. Hold Me
9. Can We Live / Angel Of My Life
10. Easy
11. Wonderful Creation (USA LP Remix) [Bonus Track]
12. I Ain’t Bin A Man (USA LP Remix) [Bonus Track]
13. Sweet Silence (USA LP Remix) [Bonus Track]
14. Zambia (USA LP Remix) [Bonus Track]

The eclectic quintet, who, at times, melded their arrangements based on an odd mix of Queen, Yes, Abba and folk music for this album, released their self-titled sophomore album in 1977 and boy, what a great album it was.

The first single Photographic Smile, with its Yes-inspired melodies and rhytms leads the way neatly and then things get turned up a notch for the excellent Romeo, Vampire, Hold Me, and one of my own personal favorites, the veritably shimmering rock of Feel Like Calling Home (which is actually noteworthy as Fleming Rasmussen assisted Dicken in creating the song).

CD 3: Seppuku
1. Senora
2. Woman
3. Place Your Bets
4. Here It Comes Again
5. Tonight
6. Lucy
7. Goosestep
8. You Won’t See Me
9. Behind Enemy Lines
10. Come Rock With Me
11. Seppuku
12. Death Boy

Having already issued two albums and a bunch of singles before hooking up with producer Ian Hunter to record Seppuku in 1978, the album was always projected as the band’s third album, but although two songs from the sessions (Senora, which Hunter co-wrote, and Death Boy, both included here) were released as singles, EMI did not release it after all.

Having finally made its belated appearance on CD in 2001, the band were sounding more like an earthier Styx than anything else, and Dicken’s high-pitched voice also bears some resemblance to Jon Anderson of Yes, which is never a bad thing, I guess.

But, as with a lot of bands fighting against the musical tide at that time, the failure of this undistinguished mainstream arena prog-tinged ’70s rock effort to reach the racks should not be bemoaned. For, and with all that said, the album still manages to pull of some great cuts, such as the aforementioned Senora, the excellent Behind Enemy Lines and the titular Seppuku (which itself means hara-kiri).

Official 3CD Purchase Link

Title - Instant Funk - The Albums 1976-1983 [5CD]
Artist - Instant Funk

Instant Funk started life as Bunny Sigler’s backup band, who recommended them to Philadelphia International; they recorded one album for the label ‘Get Down With The Philly Jump’, which is a rarity on CD.

The band then made a quick but smart move to Salsoul Records where they instantly delivered their #1 R&B Single and Anthem ‘I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl)’ which topped the chart for three weeks.

If you missed out on Instant Funk the first time around and loved the music from that era, then this package is for you; 65 funk-fueled dance tracks, that bring the disco era of the late ’70s and early ’80s vividly back to life.

This incredible 5CD box set of the complete album releases by soul, funk and disco band Instant Funk includes bonus tracks of 12” and 7” versions of key repertoires along with the albums ‘Get Down With The Philly Jump’, ‘Instant Funk’, ‘Witch Doctor’, ‘The Funk Is On’, ‘Looks So Fine’, ‘V’ and ‘Kinky’.

Featuring all of the big floor fillers including ‘I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl)’, ‘It Ain’t Reggae (But It’s Funky)’, ‘Philly Jump’, ‘Witch Doctor’, ‘No Stoppin’ That Rockin’’, ‘Bodyshine’ plus many, many more it also comes with comprehensive sleeve notes by Charles Waring who writes for MOJO and Record Collector magazines.

CD 1: Get Down With The Philly Jump
1. It Ain’t Reggae (But It’s Funky)
2. The Mack Is Back
3. Philly Jump
4. Give Me Your Love
5. I Know Where You’re Coming From
6. Hup Two, Hup Two (Get in Line, Say Get in Line)
7. So Glad I’m the One
8. Funky Africa
9. We Can Work It Out
10. Go for Yourself
11. Float Like a Butterfly, Part I [Bonus Track]
12. Float Like a Butterfly, Part II [Bonus Track]
13. It Ain’t Reggae (But It’s Funky) – 7″ Version [Bonus Track]

When Instant Funk’s debut album, Get Down With the Philly Jump, came out in 1976, those who heard the LP agreed that the Philadelphian’s had a very recognizable and distinctive sound. In truth, Instant Funk had one foot in the sophisticated Philly soul/disco sound and the other in the gritty, down-and-dirty funk of pre-J.T. Taylor Kool & the Gang - put those things together, and you have a group that was certainly unique and risk-taking.

Although Bunny Sigler produced Get Down with the Philly Jump at Philly’s famous Sigma Sound Studios, this LP isn’t as strong as Instant Funk’s subsequent releases would be. So yeah, the album is uneven, nonetheless, the material is generally decent; one can hear Instant Funk’s potential on infectious tracks like I Know Where You’re Coming From, Hup Two, Hup Two (Get in Line, Say Get in Line) and the titular Philly Jump.

CD 2: Instant Funk
1. I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl) 2. Crying
3. Never Let It Go Away
4. Don’t You Wanna Party
5. Wide World Of Sports
6. Dark Vader
7. You Say You Want Me To Stay
8. I’ll Be Doggone
9. I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl) (7″ Version) [Bonus Track]
10. Crying (7″ Version) [Bonus Track]
11. I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl) (Special 12″ Disco Version) [Bonus Track]

Instant Funk then created a stir in 1979 when Salsoul released the single I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl). Swirling, screaming horns announce the chorus; hand claps, tambourines and a maniacal rhythm guitar battle the heavy bottom; and a woman delivers erotic lines for added impact!

Salsoul followed the number 20 pop and number one R&B (for three weeks) hit with Crying, a race horse whose relentless beat only subsides near the fade; Carmichael’s vocal is passionate, almost deranged. Never Let Me Go Away, a rare Instant Funk ballad, was so overblown the melody got buried and spooky voices and haunted-house sounds wallpaper Dark Vader’s comic-book lyrics and funky hooks.

CD 3: Witch Doctor
1. Slap, Slap, Lickedy Lap
2. Witch Doctor
3. I Had A Dream
4. Bodyshine
5. It’s Your Love On My Mind
6. I Want To Love You
7. Scream And Shout
8. Slap, Slap, Lickedy Lap (7″ Version) [Bonus Track]
9. Witch Doctor (7″ Version) [Bonus Track]
10. Bodyshine (7″ Version) [Bonus Track]

When Instant Funk moved from Philadelphia International’s TSOP label to Salsoul, all of the pieces fell into place for the band - both commercially and creatively. While its first album, Get Down With the Philly Jump, was decent but uneven, its second and third albums were generally excellent.

For Instant Funk, switching labels didn’t mean switching producers - the Philadelphian’s worked with Bunny Sigler at TSOP and continued to work with him at Salsoul. Sigler was the ideal producer for Instant Funk because he really understood what the band was going for: an unorthodox blend of Philly soul/disco and the type of hardcore funk that other cities were better known for.

Sigler is a major asset here on Witch Doctor, which was Instant Funk’s second album for Salsoul and its third album overall. From the sweaty funk of Bodyshine (a major hit), Slap, Slap Lickedy Lap, and the titular Witch Doctor, to the smooth ballad I Had a Dream, Sigler does right by Instant Funk on this solid effort.

CD 4: The Funk Is On & Looks So Fine
The Funk Is On
1. The Funk Is On
2. Everybody
3. You Want My Love
4. Funk-N-Roll
5. It’s Cool
6. What Can I Do For You
7. Can You See Where I’m Coming From
8. You’re Not Getting Older

The Funk Is On, Philly soul band Instant Funk shows an acute pop music sensibility, but funk fans need not worry, this album lives up to its title; the band still funks. The title track single, written by Brass Construction’s Randy Muller, is pure, unadulterated funk.

The same could be said for the gritty You Want My Love, where as the second single, Everybody, has a serious bounce groove along the lines of Zapp’s More Bounce to the Ounce or Vaughn Mason’s Bounce, Skate, Rock, Roll.

Looks So Fine
9. Looks So Fine
10. Why Don’t You Think About Me
11. Slam Dunk The Funk
12. Gotta Like That
13. Jumpin’ To Conclusions
14. Give It To You Baby
15. Punk Rockin’

On their fourth Salsoul album, Looks So Fine, Instant Funk showcased their precise, step-lock rhythm on the first single, Why Don’t You Think About Me, remixed by top talent François Kevorkian.

The Philly soul band backs a number of guest singers. The sister trio Direct Current sings soaring vocals on the seriously funky title track. Other standouts are the skaters favorite Gotta Like That, the O’Jays-like ballad Smack Dab in the Middle, which is a duet between producer Bunny Sigler and the band’s lead singer James Carmichael, and the NBA tribute Slam Dunk the Funk.

CD 5: V & Kinky
1. No Stoppin’ That Rockin’
2. Who Took Away The Funk
3. Hard Days Night
4. You’re Gonna Get Yours
5. Easy Come Easy Go
6. Smack Dab In The Middle
7. Blazin’
8. I’ll Be Good To You

Reduced to a quintet by 1983, Instant Funk was then comprised of Scotty Miller (drums, background vocals), Kim Miller (guitar, background vocals), Raymond Earl (bass, background vocals), Dennis Richardson (keyboards, background vocals), and James Carmichael (lead vocals); five additional rhythm players, a five-piece horn section, and additional backing vocalists augmented the band.

Tom Moulton mixed two bouncers in the form of both No Stoppin’ That Rockin’, a groovy techno-funk piece, and Who Took Away the Funk, a low groove with P-Funk-style vocals. Smack Dab in the Middle is a tender ballad with a winsome, heartfelt chorus, but my personal favorite is a quite brilliant remake of A Hard Day’s Night features punchy horns, choppy rhythms, rock guitar, and energetic vocals.

9. (Just Because) You’ll Be Mine
10. Tonight We’re Gonna Make Love
11. Kinky
12. Don’t Call Me Brother
13. Let’s Make Love
14. Passion
15. Keep It Up
16. Funkiest Party In The World

Instant Funk’s final Salsoul album, Kinky, found them reunited with the TNJ’s vocal group, who were prominently heard on producer/singer Bunny Sigler’s slow, churchy hit cover of the O’Jays’ million seller, Love Train.

The lead vocal spot was given to TNJ’s member Elijah E.J. Jones because his smooth tenor seemed to fit, and rightly so, in with the group’s sound. The first single, (Just Because) You’ll Be Mine, was remixed by Shep Pettibone (who did the same for Madonna’s 1990 two-million seller Vogue), and was a huge dance club hit, albeit sounded similar to their 1979 gold single I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl).

Other standouts are the sexy slow jams Passion and Keep It Up, the two hip-hop flavored cuts Let’s Make Love and The Funkiest Party in the World, and the popular album track Don’t Call Me Brother, itself a remake of an O’Jays LP track from their Ship Ahoy album.

Official 5CD Purchase Link

Title - Ruffyunz III
Artist - Ruffyunz

For those unaware, RUFFYUNZ is a partnership between Randy Pratt (Cactus/The Lizards), Emmy winning engineer JZ Barrell, and singer Ed Terry and a collection of drum, guitar and keyboard masters.

Also featured on the band’s new album RUFFYUNZ III is Carmine Appice along with special guests Pat Travers, Pat Thrall, Bumblefoot, Tony Franklin, Dave Meniketti, Jim McCarty, Vinnie Moore, Derek Sherinian, Tracy G, Billy “Spaceman” Patterson, and more.

Bassist Randy Pratt on bass, pedals and riffs and is best known for his work with The Lizards & Cactus. Singer Ed Terry has sung live with Stevie Wonder, Sister Sledge, John Oates, Sissy Houston, Slash and recorded with John Lennon, Keith Richards, Talking Heads, Simply Red, Little Steven, David Bowie, Rod Stewart, Fleetwood Mac, David Lee Roth, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner.

JZ Barrell handles recording, engineering, mixing and arranging…he earns his writing credits. The band’s concept is to use “known” drummers, guitarists and keyboardists as guests on their records. Once the guest guitarist has done his or her thing, Jesse trades solos with them. And, trust me, he really throws down the gauntlet, as he shreds!

1. Street Corner High
2. Looking For The Edge
3. Malevolent Fool
4. Red Lines
5. I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down
6. Electric Mind Control
7. Cadillac Walk
8. Far Too Long
9. Warm Oasis
10. Hanging

Opening on a great example of how expert musicians, masters of their craft can come together to bring a sound as smoothly grooved as AOR can be, the pumping Street Corner High is backed by the veritably shimmering rock of Looking For The Edge, the atmospherically-charged Malevolent Fool, the hard er edged Red Lines and then comes their harmonically-driven, blues-hued rendition of I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down (first recorded in 1972 by soul singer Ann Peebles, but a big hit in 1984 for English singer Paul Young).

Up next is one of my own personal favorites from this third album is up next in the form of psych rock swirl of Electric Mind Control, then comes the ZZ Top-esque twang of Cadillac Walk, which is itself backed seamlessly by the gnarly guitar work found within Far Too Long, the album rounding out on the lighter blues affair Warm Oasis, closing on the drum-led rocker Hanging.

Official Website

Title - Other Doors
Artist - Soft Machine

For those unaware, Five years after the release of their last studio album, legendary UK musical institution Soft Machine return with a brand new CD/LP, Other Doors.

Boasting new material and two numbers drawn from their extensive historical repertoire, Other Doors finds the band on their usual fiery form.

Featuring John Etheridge (guitars), Theo Travis, (saxes, flutes, Fender Rhodes piano, electronics), Fred Thelonious Baker (Fretless bass), John Marshall (drums), Other Doors also features two guest appearances from long-serving bassist Roy Babbington, who retired from the band in 2021.

1. Careless Eyes (2:28)
2. Penny Hitch (6:49)
3. Other Doors (4:51)
4. Crocked Usage (8:29)
5. Joy Of A Toy (3:24)
6. A Flock Of Holes (2:18)
7. Whisper Back (1:40)
8. The Stars Apart (4:22)
9. Now! Is The Time (2:16)
10. Fell To Earth (5:51)
11. The Visitors At The Window (4:08)
12. Maybe Never (2:26)
13. Back In Season (7:17)

Opening on the ethereal, almost haunting Careless Eyes and the veritably glistening Penny Hitch, up next is the titular, free flowing Other Doors, the abstractly percussional, one minute, electronica-imbibed the next Crooked Usage, the Pink Panther-esque, psychedelia vibe of their own 1968 track Joy of a Toy, and both the theatrical A Flock of Holes and a dutiful solo guitar piece, written and played by Etheridge, Whisper Back.

Along next is the sweetly relaxed The Stars Apart and a delightful two-minute bass duet Now! Is The Time and they are in turn backed by the sax-led, slow-weaving machinations, and prowling inquisitiveness pursued during Fell To Earth (inspired by the Nic Roeg film), the atmospherically electronic bed that thread through The Visitors At The Window, the recording rounding out with the spacial ambiance within Maybe Never, coming to a dulcet, soothingly melodic close on the elegiac seven minute Back In Season.

On Other Doors they’ve revisited the very first album, originally released in 1968, to include Kevin Ayers’ Joy Of A Toy. Fred Baker, makes his studio debut with Soft Machine. A well-known figure on the Canterbury Scene not only is he the perfect choice for the group but he’s also is a long-term fan of the repertoire. “The way I look at it is that this is all great music which we’re continuing to preserve and keep alive as we play it but also we’re adding to it all the time,” he explains.

“The idea for revisiting the number was Theo Travis’”, he adds, “and has been part of the band’s live set list for a while. I’ve added some extra harmonies and other things to it, so it’s got my stamp as well as going back right down to Kevin Ayers’ original. It somehow fitted in with all of the new material as well as the older tracks we do. It’s amazing the amount of young people coming along to gigs who are liking the wide range of music we play.”

The album also contains Penny Hitch, a track originally heard on 1973’s Soft Machine Seven. This features the first of two appearances of Roy Babbington who provides the bass lines underpinning Karl Jenkins’ composition while Fred plays the sinuous lead melody on his fretless bass. The pair also worked together as a duo on Now! Is The Time, a number originally based on a theme Babbington brought into the sessions, with Fred and Roy both adding and expanding the scope of the piece.

If the album ushers in a new member in the shape of Fred Baker, it also acts as a fond farewell to drummer John Marshall, who joined Soft Machine midway through the recording of 1972’s Fifth. At the age of 81 Marshall has decided to retire making Other Doors his final studio album with the group. “I’ve known John since 1975 when I first joined Soft Machine and of course, we’ve worked through the years together intermittently ever since. His drumming always meant a lot to me,” says Etheridge. “We worked over three days in the studio and John played great. It sounds terrific.”

Indeed, Marshall is on whip-cracking form throughout the album bringing his trademark musicality and decisive presence. With Other Doors, he brings his distinguished career to a rousing conclusion.

Intense, celebratory, and consistently impressive. Other Doors is the sound of a group determined to press forwards with an integrity and sense of purpose that’s quintessentially and definitively Soft Machine.

THEO TRAVIS - tenor and soprano saxophones, flutes, Fender Rhodes piano, electronics
FREDDY BAKER - fretless bass guitar
Special Guest; ROY BABBINGTON - bass guitar (tunes 2 and 9)

Official Purchase Link

Title - Witness to History
Artist - Eddie Henderson

If it hadn’t already been used for a 1950s television series, I Led Three Lives might have been an ideal title for the upcoming documentary about Eddie Henderson, who would be a fascinating subject in any one of those lives: as a medical doctor, as a pioneering figure skater, and of course as a legendary jazz musician.

As it is, the film is scheduled to premiere on PBS in 2024 under the equally apt title of Dr. Eddie Henderson: Uncommon Genius.

If the process of making the documentary has forced Henderson to look back over the impressive scope of his own life, it’s also led him to ruminate on the broad sweep of momentous events and influential figures that he’s encountered over the course of his nearly 83 years on the planet.Witness to History, due out September 15th, 2023 via Smoke Sessions Records, Henderson has assembled a collection of musicians and material that represent key points along that consequential timeline.

“My first trumpet teacher, way back in 1949, was Louis Armstrong,” recalls Henderson, who met the trumpet icon through his mother, a dancer at Harlem’s famed Cotton Club.

“From that point on, I witnessed the evolution in music through Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Booker Little, Woody Shaw, John Coltrane, up to the present. I lived through the turmoil of the ’60s and ’70s and the rise of Black Power in this country. I was also fortunate to come into contact with people like Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis, and Willie Mays. So, I have been a witness to history, and inevitably that rubbed off on me musically.”

The stellar quintet on this album bridges that half-century of music: lifelong collaborator George Cables returns once again to the piano bench. Henderson’s colleague in The Cookers, alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, and his more recent collaborator, bassist Gerald Cannon, have also appeared on the trumpeter’s recent string of releases for Smoke Sessions.

They’re joined by legendary drummer Lenny White, who has reunited with Henderson in the studio for the first time since Realization 50 years ago.

1. Scorpio Rising
2. Why Not?
3. Sweet and Lovely
4. It Never Entered My Mind
5. Freedom Jazz Dance
6. I Am Going to Miss You, My Darling
7. Totem Pole
8. Born to Be Blue

The release of Witness to History arrives on the 50th anniversary of Henderson’s debut as a leader, 1973’s Realization, and opens on the low slung crawl of Scorpio Rising (which revisits Scorpio-Libra from that album, and which also here features a guest appearance by drummer Mike Clark, who, like Henderson, was an integral part of Herbie Hancock’s groundbreaking fusion groups) and then comes the quieter, laid back affair Why Not? (the title tune from Cables’ own 1975 leader debut), the reimagined once melancholy ballad now a sumptuous finger-snapper Sweet and Lovely, and a yearning ache within It Never Entered My Mind; of which, as a teenager, Henderson had been inspired by Miles Davis’ rendition.

Produced by Paul Stache and Damon Smith, and recorded live in New York at Sear Sound’s Studio C on a Sear-Avalon custom console at 96KHz/24bit and mixed to 1/2″ analog tape, along next is Eddie Harris’ upbeat and playful Freedom Jazz Dance, another cut inspired by Miles, and that is followed by the opulent ballad It Never Entered My Mind (written by his wife, Natsuko), the recording rounding out on the bossa nova-imbibed Totem Pole (itself culled from Lee Morgan’s immortal The Sidewinder), coming to a close on the luxuriant, mid-tempo swing of Born to Be Blue.

Three lives, eight decades, more than fifty years of incredible music. Witness to History traces Eddie Henderson’s evolution through a remarkable span of time but listening to this captivating album, it’s abundantly clear that he’s done more than watch from the sidelines as history unfolds. Dr. Henderson has made his own indelible mark on history, and this vital music reveals that he’s far from writing his final chapter.

Eddie Henderson @ Facebook

Title - Without Question
Artist - Pete McCann

An Eau Claire, Wisconsin native, jazz guitarist Pete McCann has been an integral part of the New York City jazz scene for over 30 years. His new recording, Without Question, (his seventh as a leader) will be released in August of 2023.

A sought-after sideman from duos to big bands, with a unique and wide-ranging set of musical skills, McCann has played guitar on over 100 CDs. Pete has performed in every type of venue from jazz clubs to jazz festivals, schools to concert halls and even Carnegie Hall and he has traveled to 20 countries and has played in almost every state in the USA.

1. Without Question
2. I Can Remember
3. Trifecta
4. Lost City
5. Lovely Thing
6. Blues for O.M.
7. Conspiracy Theory
8. January
9. Hindsight
10. Erase the Hate

Recorded at Big Orange Sheep Studios, the opening track is the soulful, titular Without Question, which is followed by the veritably ethereal, haunting I Can Remember, the free flowing melodies found within Trifecta, the lushly sumptuous Lost City and then we get the furtively glistening Lovely Thing (itself McCann’s tribute to the late saxophonist Lee Konitz).

Along next is the joyously swung Blues for O.M. (which pays homage to the French composer Olivier Messiaen) and is itself backed by the harder-edged jazz-blues of Conspiracy Theory, the dulcet, sax-led January, and the recording them rounds out with the finger-snapping, foot-tapping Hindsight, coming to a close on the languishing beauty of Erase the Hate.

McCann has performed and/or recorded with Kenny Wheeler, Dave Liebman, Lee Konitz, The Manhattan Transfer, Patti Austin, Brian Blade, Bobby Previte, Grace Kelly, the Mahavishnu Project and the Maria Schneider Orchestra. He currently works in groups lead by Kendra Shank, Paul Jost, Joe Fiedler, Spin Cycle, Melissa Stylianou, Ben Kono, Brian Woodruff and orchestras led by Migiwa Miyajima, Sam Blakeslee, Dan Pugach and Christopher Zuar. As a commercial recording artist, he has worked on projects for CNN, BBC, Sesame Street and IBM.

Pete McCann - guitar, composer, Steve Wilson - sax, Henry Hey - piano, Rhodes, Matt Pavolka - bass, Mark Ferber - drums

Official Website

Pete McCann @ Facebook

Pete McCann - Without Question [Official Music Video]

Title - TechnoCats: The Music of Gregg Hill
Artist - TechnoCats

Although Detroit has long been recognized as a Midwest epicenter of jazz, from which many legendary players have emerged, the adjacent city of East Lansing, should also be acknowledged for its notable pool of players, many of which have ties in some way to the fantastic jazz studies program at Michigan State University (MSU).

All members of “TechnoCats” have this MSU connection and thus composer Gregg Hill has taken full advantage of this talent proximity by way of his latest album TechnoCats: The Music of Gregg Hill.

This album cements Gregg Hill’s reputation not only as an excellent jazz composer but also as a producer. The variety of rhythmic tunes make the quartet cover many delicious emotional flavors, while grounded firmly in classic straight ahead mid-century jazz styles, it is music designed for contemporary times.

1. Come On Down (5:13)
2. Elden’s Bop (4:26)
3. Go Figure! (5:34)
4. I Want To Live (6:43)
5. Inside Straight (4:47)
6. Loisiana (5:08)
7. Never Forget (6:32)
8. Ristra! Ristra! (4:04)
9. Sunny Daze (5:14)
10. Thank You Notes (3:32)

Assured that this brand new album will have far reaching appeal to jazz fans across the spectrum, the opening track is the low slung Come On Down and that is followed by the quietly fervent Elden’s Bop, the more forthright rhythms within Go Figure! and then we get the beautiful I Want To Live and the gently rambunctious Inside Straight.

On an album that features many delicious emotional flavors, while grounded firmly in classic straight ahead mid-century jazz styles, along next is the studious Loisiana, which is itself backed by the playful Never Forget and the opulent Ristra! Ristra!, the album rounding out on the drum-veined Sunny Daze, closing on the languishing majesties found within Thank You Notes.

The dynamic “Technocats” band includes Chris Glassman, on bass trombone, Nathan Borton, on guitar, Michael J. Reed on drums, Xavier Davis, on piano and Javier Enrique, on bass. They showcase a wide range, depth and artistic maturity. Hill’s memorable themes are used as springboards for narratives by each member of this fine group with solos that are always tasteful, lyrical and accessible.

CHRIS GLASSMAN - bass trombone; NATHAN BORTON - guitar; MICHAEL J. REED - drums; XAVIER DAVIS - piano; JAVIER ENRIQUE - bass.

Official Website

Gregg Hill Music @ Facebook

Official Purchase Link

Title - The Venetian
Artist - Vin Venezia

Guitarist Vincent Venezia is a talent on today’s contemporary music scene. He began playing guitar at age eight, studying with various instructors from his hometown of Cliffside Park, New Jersey.

Accomplished in several styles of music, he is a veteran of Broadway and European tours and works steadily in the tri-state area as a leader, sideman and composer since graduating William Paterson College with a degree in Jazz Studies and Performance.

Vincent was instructed by the best performers of our time: jazz guitarists Bob DeVos, Harry Leahey and classical guitarist Leonid Bolotin and the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Vincent two consecutive fellowships to study with modern jazz star Mike Stern.

Some of the greats he has performed with include: Kermit Driscoll, Lincoln Goines, Harvie S, Richie Morales, Cameron Brown, Steve Marcus, Steve Johns, Lew Soloff, Steve LaSpina, Gerry Niewood and Doug Weiss.

Vincent writes compositions for jazz ensemble and solo guitar with influence drawn from Wes Montgomery, Pat Metheny, Jim Hall, John Coltrane, Bill Evans and Miles Davis and his broad knowledge within the jazz tradition yields a musical voice with exciting results.

Always looking forward to performing music in more challenging creative situations, and bringing forth new music to his dutiful fans, Vin’s new album, The Venetian will be released October 20th, 2023.

1. Days Of Wine & Roses
2. Solar
3. Stella By Starlight
4. Alone Together
5. How Insensitive
6. Windows
7. Lush Life
8. Nardis
9. Tune Up
10. I Love You
11. Without A Sound
12. Without A Sound (Reprise)

The album opens on the laid low Days Of Wine & Roses and the scintillating Solar, those are followed by the accomplished Stella By Starlight, the furtively-scored Alone Together, the playful How Insensitive, and then we get both the joyously abounding Windows and the more stoically-sculpted Lush Life.

Up next on this ravishingly opulent new album, is the luxurious Nardis which is itself backed by the aptly-named Tune Up, then comes the languishing beauty found within Tell Her You Saw Me, the recording rounding out on the furtively fervent I Love You, closing on the simply divine, Renaissance-hued Without A Sound (and it’s one minute Reprise thereafter).

Featuring: Richie Morales, Harvie S, David Budway, Bob Magnuson and Danny Walsh.

Official Website

Title - Santiago Brooklyn Santiago
Artist - The Santiago Big Band & Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

The Santiago Big Band featuring Marcos Fernández & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra featuring Arturo O’Farrill have teamed up to bring us the luxuriant new recording, Santiago Brooklyn Santiago.

Yes, you heard that right, Arturo O’Farrill pairs up with Cuban pianist Marcos Fernández and Cuba’s Santiago Big Band in a historic collaboration. Santiago, Cuba, is a place where folks know their local culture, lore, and history. A place where buildings have etched brick detailing and names like Casa Lescay.

A place where the arts are beloved, and the Corneta China leads throngs of revelers. A place where young filmmakers, dancers, musicians, writers also begin their careers. A place where your soul is fed by knowledge, community and maduros.

Furthermore, Santiago is where O’Farrill first met the master musician Marcos Fernández (also known as El Brujo Del Tumbao), at his home. He had a piano and they immediately started playing for each other, together and in a round robin frenzy of pure music bonding. He also gave him a reading with the shells and told him things about himself that you could not possibly know unless you were him!

Often Santiago is called the real Cuba, which is probably because it is closer to Cuba’s African roots than Havana. The music here is profound and profoundly loved. This is the home of Son, and the practitioners are the originators. La Familia Varela, El Quarteto de Saxofon de Juan Chacon, La Conga de Los Hoyas, these are profoundly gifted, deeply rooted musicians with a command of the most authentic of Cuban musical languages.

1. Piano Prelude
2. Cha
3. Almendra
4. Asia Minor
5. Bilongo
6. Pitbull Mambo
7. Ay, Mama Ines
8. Iron Jungle
9. Dialogo
10. Crazy City (... But I Love It)
11. Santiago Brooklyn Santiago
12. El Manicero

The album opens on a decadently jagged solo number, Piano Prelude and then brings us a romantically-hued Cha, the free flowing hipsway of Almendra, the tempered Latin swing of Asia Minor, the golden days dancefloor flashback within the sprightly Bilongo, and then comes the taut melodies within Pitbull Mambo.

Along next is the playfully rambunctious Ay, Mama Ines and the drum-led rhythmic beauty Iron Jungle, the heated swirl of Dialogo, the album rounding out on the triumphantly sculpted Crazy City (... But I Love It), the all-embracing warmth of Santiago Brooklyn Santiago, coming to a close on the elegantly-imbibed El Manicero.

Rumba, Guaganco, Comparsa, Son, Cha Cha, Mambo, Timba, it’s all here and in it’s greatest expression. These are the waters in which Marcos swims and in which he excels even beyond what one could expect from a people that excel in all things artistic.

Indeed, this record began as a phone conversation between Marcos and O’Farrill in which we were looking for ways to collaborate, not an easy thing for two people who play the same instrument. He and Marcos shared musicians from of each of our groups and a true collaboration was given birth.

Marcos and his musicians recorded in Santiago and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra recorded in their homes. Guest soloists from each group played on each other’s recordings and finally after many months a unique recording was produced.

Title - Seven Shades of Violet (Rebiralost)
Artist - Michael Echaniz

Michael Echaniz is one of the brightest musicians, composers, and artists emerging from the West Coast. A pianist since five, Michael has studied music at Santa Clara University, California Jazz Conservatory (B.M.), and CalArts (MFA.) Michael is an avid performer, playing and recording alongside internationally-renowned artists such as Jeff Denson, Romain Pilon, Wu Man, Gerald Cleaver, and Friction Quartet in venues such as Black Cat, the Art Boutiki, and Yoshi’s, as well as Umbria and Montreux jazz festivals.

Michael has won numerous awards, mostly recently, the 2021 ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award and a New Music Workshop at the 2022 International Jazz Composers’ Symposium (ISJAC).

Supported by InterMusic SF’s 2020 Music Grant Program and New Music USA’s Creator Development Fund in 2022-23, Michael has just released Seven Shades of Violet (Rebiralost) (September 8th, 2023), an ambitious, virtuosic, symmetrical concept album of original compositions and arrangements on Ridgeway Records.

Michael’s forward-thinking original music embraces rhythmic complexity, haunting melodicism, fluidity between improvisation and through-composition, influence from disparate styles of classical, world, and pop music, and deep emotional connection.

On September 8th, 2023, Ridgeway Records releases Seven Shades of Violet (Rebiralost), the stunning debut jazz album from San Francisco based pianist, keyboardist, and composer, Michael Echaniz, in the wake of a successful fight against stage four lymphoma cancer.

Well over an hour in length, this epic conceptual work features the core contributions of producer, bassist, and vocalist Jeff Denson, drummer and percussionist Dillon Vado, and primary vocalists Danielle Wertz and Molly Pease with an array of special guests, including features from saxophonist Dann Zinn, percussionist Silvestre Martinez, and the strings of Friction Quartet.

1. Prologue
2. Seven Shades of Violet
3. Proxima Centauri
4. Clockwork
5. Interlude
6. Prince of Darkness
7. Edulretni
8. Everything is Embarrassing (feat. Dann Zinn)
9. Gernika (Bask Balms) (feat. Silverstre Martinez)
10. Fantaisie (feat. Friction Quartet)
11. Epilogue

His long-delayed, eighty-minute, symmetrically constructed debut album opens on the short, but vivacious Prologue which leads us into the spirited Seven Shades of Violet, the ornately, yet melodically flowing Proxima Centauri, the dutiful, and nearly 15 minute opus Clockwork, and then we get a flirtatious Interlude, and then Wayne Shorter’s Prince of Darkness presents the sole reference to the jazz canon; along with featuring an extended drum solo by Vado.

With the project representing five years of artistic development, and thus being his very first opportunity to present a completed, professional vision to the public, it continues seamlessly onward with the strident Edulretni and the joyful Everything is Embarrassing (feat. Dann Zinn), and they are in turn backed by the scintillating Gernika (Bask Balms) (feat. Silverstre Martinez), the recording rounding out on the aching yearn found within Fantaisie (feat. Friction Quartet), coming to a close on the atmospherically harmonized Epilogue.

The nine original compositions and two arrangements feature a wide variety of synesthetic moods and acoustic-electric textures, drawing inspiration from mathematics, history, Basque heritage, and existential crisis.

Michael Echaniz – Piano, Keyboards
Jeff Denson – Electric and Acoustic Basses
Dillon Vado – Drum Set

Official Website

Michael Echaniz @ Facebook

Michael Echaniz @ Instagram

Title - Love In The City
Artist - Yuka Mito

Yuka Mito, a very appealing jazz singer who made a strong impression with her previous release Time After Time, displays her continuing evolution on Love In The City, which releases September 9th, 2023.

This album features different aspects of my jazz singing, says Yuka. On Time After Time, I wasn’t scatting that much, but having performed with these musicians so much over the years since, I felt very comfortable singing and scatting with them.

Love In The City has Yuka joined by the same trio as on her previous recording. I met Allen Farnham, Dean Johnson, and Tim Horner at Jazz at Kitano and I have always really loved their playing. I like Allen’s gentle approach and his style matches very well with mine. He understands my Japanese culture, knows jazz history, and is the perfect person to arrange this music and collaborate with on my shows. I have performed with Dean and Tim many times. They work together very well, and their sound is perfect on bebop and for the other music that I sing.

1. I Got Rhythm
2. Love In The City
3. My Funny Valentine
4. Four Brothers
5. Memory Of Father
6. Love Mr Or Leave Me
7. I’ll Remember April

The album opens on the spirited I Got Rhythm and then brings us an all-embracing Love In The City, a luxuriant My Funny Valentine and a delightfully animated, upright bass and drum-hearted, albeit veritably instrumental, scat-strewn Four Brothers.

Along next is the stirring balladry of Memory Of Father, the recording rounding out on the mid-tempo hipsway of Love Mr Or Leave Me, coming to a magnificent close on the fervently impassioned I’ll Remember April.

The sessions that led to Love In The City began in 2019 but had to be stopped when the COVID pandemic hit; they were completed in more recent times. In addition to the trio, each of whom have opportunities to offer concise and perfectly fitting solos, the great altoist Vincent Herring(who Yuka met at a jam session at Smoke) uplifts a few songs with his contributions.

Official Website

Yuka Mito - Love In The City [Official Video]

Yuka Mito @ Instagram

Title - Renderings
Artist - Chuck Owen & The WDR Big Band

Critically acclaimed, seven-time-Grammy nominated, Chuck Owen rediscovered the joy (and challenge!) of being an arranger – or re-interpreter – rather than the principal composer, if you will.

More importantly, it was the immediacy, imagination, sensitivity, and musical vision of the band’s “rendering” of Chuck’s lifeless notes on a page, while most of the world was still in Covid hibernation, that defines this recording.

1. Knife’s Edge
2. ... And Your Point Is?
3. Of Mystery & Beauty
4. This Love of Mine
5. Fall Calls
6. Arabian Nights
7. A Ridge Away
8. Canoe

The album opens on the fervently-charged, veritably cinematic, and latterly full on swing of Knife’s Edge and then brings us the playfully flirtatious, samba-hued ... And Your Point Is?, the alluringly-sculpted ballad Of Mystery & Beauty (where both Karolina Strassmayer’s sax and Sara Caswell’s violin come to the fore) and then we get the spirited I Got Rhythm and then brings us a lushly sumptuous version of the old Sinatra/Tommy Dorsey classic This Love Of Mine.

Along next is the aching yearn found within John Goldsby’s Fall Calls and that is in turn seamlessly followed by their rendition of the atmospheric, 12 minute Chick Corea cut, Arabian Nights, before the recording rounds out on the organically opulent A Ridge Way, coming to a close on the quietly dutiful swing cover of Johan Horlen’s Canoe.

In a sense, the idea for “Renderings” was born when Karolina Strassmayer, WDR’s alto saxophonist asked if Chuck would arrange one of her compositions for an upcoming feature project. He was quite honored; but he quickly became aware that it had been a long time since he had taken on arranging anyone else’s music. Owen found himself invigorated by the exploration of the new “world” she provided through her composition as well as the challenge of fashioning his own home within it.

While working on the chart, Chuck received word that the planned recording date with WDR had been moved up 9 months! With a full teaching load and an international conference to produce later that spring his writing time was limited. So, with no compelling “narrative” for the album project yet in mind, Owen decided to use the opportunity to finally undertake a big band arrangement of the old Sinatra/Tommy Dorsey classic “This Love of Mine” based on a small group chart he had written some 20 years earlier.

Chuck also thought that revising an earlier arrangement he had done of Chick Corea’s “Arabian Nights” specifically for the WDR group (and to feature Sara Caswell on violin) might be fun and a great foil to the other charts. …the concept was emerging! The answer came with absolute clarity. He could expand on and totally embrace the somewhat unplanned focus of writing arrangements – a prospect that, after years of primarily focusing on original works, he found incredibly exhilarating. Owen invited other WDR band members to submit some of their compositions. Incredible Results! Official Website

WDR Big Band @ Facebook

Chuck Owen & The WDR Big Band - ... And Your Point Is? [Official Video]

Title - Love’s Got Me in a Lazy Mood
Artist - Darden Purcell

With Nancy Wilson & George Shearing’s The Swingin’s Mutual, as a model, Washington, DC-based vocalist Darden Purcell and co-producer, arranger, guitarist & husband Shawn Purcell, envisioned a modern take on that quintessential 1960s sound for her third recording as a leader.

Enlisting the dynamic New York vibraphonist Joe Locke, along with pianist Todd Simon, Jeff Reed on bass and drummer Todd Harrison, her sextet tackles the virtuosic soli passages of Shawn’s arrangement of Willow Weep for Me.

Indeed, Locke’s haunting introduction sets up the poignant reading of You’ve Changed, and the band swings hard behind Darden’s rapid-fire, Annie Ross-inspired lyrics on Chatterbox.

1. Willow Weep for Me
2. Love’s Got Me in a Lazy Mood
3. Come Back to Me
4. It’s a Most Unusual Day
5. I Concentrate on You
6. A Cottage for Sale
7. Estrada Branca (This Happy Madness)
8. Chatterbox
9. Estate
10. Taking a Chance on Love
11. You’ve Changed

The album opens on the low slung swing found within Willow Weep For Me and the veritably glistening Love’s Got Me In A Lazy Mood, and they are followed by the buoyant Come Back To Me, the simply sparkling It’s a Most Unusual Day, the upbeat foot-tapper I Concentrate on You, and then we get the lushly sculpted A Cottage for Sale.

Along next is the more diligently formed Estrada Branca (This Happy Madness) and the upright bass-led beauty Chatterbox, then we get the opulently lavish ballad Estate, the album rounding out on the perky Taking a Chance on Love, closing on the sad loss of love within You’ve Changed.

Official Website

Darden Purcell @ Facebook

Darden Purcell @ Instagram

Title - ArtWork
Artist - Jack Jones feat. Joey DeFrancesco

Jack Jones’ latest album, ARTWORK, featuring Joey DeFrancesco is out now!

Long regarded as the singer’s-singer, the two-time Grammy award winner entered United Recording Studios in Los Angeles, CA with the A-team of jazz players in 2022, just prior to the untimely passing of Joey DeFrancesco (August 25th, 2022).

ARTWORK, which was released on July 14th, 2023 on Cavalry Productions/BFE Entertainment, spotlights the lead singles, “Here’s to Life,” “One Day” and “Empty Chairs” and is available worldwide at all major music outlets.

John Clayton arranged and conducted the 53-piece orchestra. Jack Jones, Joey DeFrancesco and John Clayton are Co-Producers with Tom Scott serving as Associate Producer. Jazz legends Tamir Hendelman, Jeff Hamilton and Graham Dechter all made significant contributions to ARTWORK.

1. Fever
2. Hello
3. At Last
4. If Love Is Overrated
5. Not While I’m Around
6. She’s Funny That Way
7. This Masquerade
8. If You Go Away
9. Empty Chairs
10. Lush Life
11. Free Again
12. Is That All There Is
13. Here’s to Life
14. This Is All I Ask
15. One Day

The album opens on the impassioned Fever and the skedaddling Hello and they are followed by the sumptuous At Last, the heartfelt If Love Is Overrated, the languishing beauty within Not While I’m Around, and then we get both the staggered She’s Funny That Way and the rambunctiously joyful This Masquerade.

Along next is the more diligently formed If You Go Away and the majestically free flowing Empty Chairs and they are in turn backed by the low slung ballads Lush Life and Free Again, then comes the gentle finger-snapper Is That All There Is, the enraptured Here’s to Life, the album rounding out on the opulent This Is All I Ask, closing on the dutiful One Day.

Official Jack Jones Website

Official Joey DeFrancesco Website

Title - Synergy
Artist - Bobby Kapp plays the music of Richard Sussman

While most associated with the avant-garde, Bobby Kapp has always been a versatile drummer with the desire to perform inventive new music. He commissioned pianist Richard Sussman, a composer with a unique voice of his own, to write a set of originals that would challenge the musicians. Synergy is the very successful result.

Sussman’s themes, while harmonically advanced, are often quite rhythmically catchy. With this brand new recording Synergy, Sussman continues his exploration of the integration of contemporary jazz harmonies and improvisation with avant-garde classical compositional techniques and instrumentation. He creates his own musical world of music that is melancholy but hopeful, mysterious yet ultimately logical.

On Synergy, Kapp and Sussman lead a septet comprised of tenor-saxophonist Abraham Burton, Aaron Irwin on clarinet and bass clarinet, violinist Zach Brock, John Clark on French Horn, bassist Harvie S, Richard Sussman on piano, and Bobby Kapp on drums. Conducted by Scott Reeves, the music is filled with colorful ensembles, concise but memorable solos, and fresh themes that reward repeated listening’s.

1. Tweed Boulevard (9:31)
2. Infinite Mobility (8:44)
3. Inner Space (7:14)
4. From the Heart (7:05)
5. Synergy (6:43)
6. Trance Dance (6:37)
7. Whirling Dervish (4:26)
8. Radioactive (4:53)

The album opens on the playfully perky Tweed Boulevard and then brings us the flightly Infinite Mobility, the dutifully earnest Inner Space and then we get brought forth the more impassioned From the Heart.

Along next is the joyously soaring Synergy and the more methodically sculpted Trance Dance, the recording rounding out on the swirlish Whirling Dervish, coming to a close on the resounding affluent Radioactive.

While they have had many musical experiences through the years, Synergy is a milestone in the careers of Bobby Kapp and Richard Sussman, a distinctive recording that will greatly interest listeners who enjoy thought-provoking modern jazz.

Bobby Kapp - Drums
Richard Sussman - Piano
Zach Brock - Violin
Aaron Irwin - Clarinet/Bs Clarinet
Abraham Burton - Tenor Sax
John Clark - French Horn
Harvie S - Bass

Official Bobby Kapp Website

Official Richard Sussman Website

Official Purchase Link

Title - While We Have Time
Artist - Maddie Vogler

Immersed in thoughts of identity, family and culture, Chicago saxophonist Maddie Vogler commissioned the original cover art depicting the hands of her immigrant grandmothers to frame her debut recording.

Steeped in modern jazz while freely exploring Vogler’s relationship with her Cuban roots, her nine original compositions are brimming with adventurous rhythmic energy and melodic soulfulness.

Her musical mentor, trumpeter Tito Carrillo, shares the front line, while the rhythm section of Matt Gold, Jake Shapiro, Samuel Peters, and Neil Hemphill provide a percolating momentum on tunes such as The Need To Be, an elegiac gait on Corridors, or a driving, Afro-Cuban flavored 9/8 on Check Engine Light.

Thus, the brand new recording While We Have Time is an expansive and striking debut, planting Vogler squarely within Chicago’s historical jazz lineage.

1. The Need To Be (5:04)
2. Corridors (7:39)
3. Ropa Vieja (7:07)
4. Industrielle (7:40)
5. While We Have Time (4:51)
6. Hymn for August (1:47)
7. Between Wakefulness and Sleep (5:04)
8. Sunday Colors (6:08)
9. Check Engine Light (5:13)

The album opens on the joyously free flowing The Need To Be and the aching balladry, at first, upbeat and free thereafter Corridors, and then we get the atmospherically-charged Ropa Vieja and the lavishly rhythmic Industrielle.

Produced by Maddie Vogler herself, we continue onward with the succulent While We Have Time and the aching Hymn for August, and they are in turn backed by the playful Between Wakefulness and Sleep, the album rounding out on the simply gorgeous Sunday Colors, closing on the strident Check Engine Light.

Maddie Vogler - alto saxophone
Tito Carrillo - trumpet, flugelhorn
Matt Gold - guitar
Jake Shapiro - piano
Samuel Peters - bass
Neil Hemphill - drums

Official Website

Maddie Vogler @ Facebook

Maddie Vogler @ Instagram

Title - What We Need Is Here
Artist - Lisa Reagan

Lisa Reagan, former member of the Washington National Opera, has made another unexpected career turn with What We Need Is Here, to be released on August 25th, 2023 by Stillpoint Records.

The new album, which offers ten classic poems by noted authors, including Yeats, Frost, Keats, Wordsworth, and Shakespeare, is set to original music she composed for the project.

Lisa worked with Tony-award winning and Grammy-nominated producer/orchestrator Jamshied Sharifi, who had similar involvement in her previous release Shunia, a collaboration with fellow former National Opera alumna Suzanne Jackson.

Indeed, the song “Sa Re Sa Sa” from that album was the Silver Winner in the World Fusion Music category at the 2021 COVR Visionary Awards. To date, Lisa has recorded seven albums.

Furthermore, she titled the new album after a line from “The Wild Geese” by Wendell Berry, for which she received special permission directly from the poet:

“And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.”

1. The Owl
2. I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
3. Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day
4. The Peace of Wild Things
5. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
6. The Road Not Taken
7. The Two Trees
8. Bright Star
9. He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
10. The Wild Geese

The album opens on a flourishing The Owl and the stirring earnestness within I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, and those are followed by the veritably ethereal Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day, the heartfelt majesties of The Peace of Wild Things and then comes the precociously playful Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.

Along next is the aching yearn found within The Road Not Taken and the Celtic-hued The Two Trees, and they are in turn seamlessly backed by the Eastern-imbibed Bright Star, the recording rounding out on the luxuriant He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven, closing on the effortlessly impassioned The Wild Geese.

Lisa describes What We Need Is Here as a “project of the heart,” recalling, “I started with how the poem made me feel. It was like creating a painting that ‘looked’ how the poem felt. I wanted to set a mood, creating a tonal palette for the words. I was so fortunate to be able to hand my songs to Jamshied for the orchestral arrangements and production. He is not only a brilliant musician, but he also felt the same obligation that I did to honor the poets and their muses.”

Official Website

Lisa Reagan @ Facebook

Lisa Reagan @ Instagram

Title - More Halloween Nuggets
Artist - Various

The ultimate Halloween-themed novelty rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack featuring vintage sides from the 1960s and audio of 3 horror movie trailers!

The perfect soundtrack for celebrating Halloween with novelty rock ‘n’ roll. For fans of deep 1960s vintage Halloween themed novelty rock ‘n’ roll: witches, teenage monsters, graveyards, haunted houses, devils, ghosts and zombies.

While the tracks on this set are mostly from the 1960s, there is a sampling of late ’50s. The CD and digital includes 4 bonus tracks of audio from 3 classic horror movie trailers-Night of the Blood Beast, Frankenstein and Dracula, The Mummy and the sound effect track of The Werewolf.

This is a sequel to last year’s Halloween Nuggets and once again features a howlingly cool cover design by New York illustrator Cliff Mott. The vinyl edition will be pressed on ghostly purple vinyl complimenting the neon orange vinyl of the previous release.

1. Witch Girl/The Mystrys
2. The Beast Of Sunset Strip/Teddy Durant
3. Seance/The Ebb Tides
4. Night Of the Blood Beast (Movie Trailer)
5. Why Do I Love You/Bela La Goldstein
6. Tombstone Number 9/Murray Schafe and the Aristocrats
7. I’m The Wolf Man/Round Robin
8. The Werewolf (Sound Effect)
9. Deep Sleep/Chance Halladay
10. Count Macabre/The Connoissurs
11. Haunted/The Madmen
12. Frankenstein and Dracula (Movie Trailer)
13. The Voodoo/Terry Gale
14. Ghost Guitars/Daron Daemon & The Vampires
15. Vampire’s Ball/Mann Drake
16. The Mummy (Movie Trailer)
17. Zoola Zooky/Johnny Alderson
18. Mr. Frankenstein/Peter and The Wolves
19. Dr. Spook (Twist)/Frankie Stein and His Ghouls
20. The Raven/Kenny and The Fiends
21. The Guillotine/The Executioners
22. Werewolf/Gary Warren

The album opens on the tantalizingly vibrant storytelling within Witch Girl (The Mystrys) and the US equivalent of the UK’s Screaming Lord Sutch, Teddy Durant on the melodic The Beast Of Sunset Strip, and then come the rhythmic Seance (The Ebb Tides), a quick movie trailer in the form of Night Of the Blood Beast, which is followed by the atmospheric, organ-hued Why Do I Love You (Bela La Goldstein), the spooky jiver Tombstone Number 9 (Murray Schafe and the Aristocrats), the surf rock rockabilly of Round Robin’s brilliant I’m The Wolf Man, and then we get a very cool The Werewolf sound effect, the upbeat pop melodies within Deep Sleep (Chance Halladay), the extremely cool ghoul tune by The Connoissurs, Count Macabre, and then the psychedelic journeys of The Madmen musically come forth within Haunted.

After another movie trailer in the form of Frankenstein and Dracula, we next get the frenetic, harmonica-driven gem from Terry Gale in the form of The Voodoo, the unique retro instrumental sounds of Ghost Guitars (Daron Daemon & The Vampires), the contagious pop-rock of Vampire’s Ball (Mann Drake), and then comes The Mummy (Movie Trailer), the Country Western-imbibed Zoola Zooky (Johnny Alderson), the sumptuous novelty song Mr. Frankenstein (Peter and The Wolves), and then the collection rounds out with the excellent, if not screamingly nerve tingling, Dr. Spook (Twist) (Frankie Stein and His Ghouls), the pure ’60s pop of The Raven (Kenny and The Fiends), closing on the shimmering The Guillotine/The Executioners and the atmospherically-charged Werewolf by Gary Warren.

Official Purchase Link

Title - Radio Daze & Glamping
Artist - Roger Joseph Manning Jr

Roger Joseph Manning Jr burst onto the music world’s radar as cofounder of Jellyfish in 1990. After two critically acclaimed and now revered releases, the band parted ways, and Roger began a career that saw him in bands including Imperial Drag, The Moog Cookbook, and TV Eyes, as well as contributing to albums from Beck, Morrissey, Lana Del Rey, Blink 182, Johnny Cash, Adele, and more!

He also continued to record as a solo artist, releasing the EP Glamping independently in 2020. That was soon reissued with three live bonus tracks, but neither received a wide release. That brings us to 2023, and Roger is ready to unveil 4 new songs—two co-written with Glamping’s Chris Price (Emitt Rhodes).

Radio Daze & Glamping contains Roger’s four new studio tracks, plus the four from Glamping on LP. The CD and Digital add the three live bonus tracks from Glamping’s limited edition expanded edition, but three new live tracks and two instrumentals.

Radio Daze & Glampong revitalizes the musical landscape of Roger Joseph Manning Jr., making his music available worldwide, on multiple formats, and essential.

1. I Feel Good, Bad, Fine
2. Rockin’ It Our Way
3. I’m Startin’ A Band
4. On Our Way To The Moon
5. Operator
6. Funhouse
7. Is It All A Dream
8. I’m Not Your Cowboy

The album opens on the early Lennon-esque I Feel Good, Bad, Fine and the upbeat rawker Rockin’ It Our Way, then comes the Canterbury-esque I’m Startin’ A Band, the spacial On Our Way To The Moon, the ELO-imbibed Operator, the atmospheric rocker Funhouse, and then we get brought forth the veritably translucent, mid-tempo Is It All A Dream and the dutifully strident I’m Not Your Cowboy.

9. What You Don’t Know About The Girl (Live)
10. Operator (Live)
11. Creeple People (Live)
12. Down In Front (Live)*
13. Too Late For Us Now (Live)*
14. I’m Not Your Cowboy (Live)*
15. I’m Startin’ A Band (Instrumental)*
16. On Our Way To The Moon (Instrumental)*

* Previously unissued bonus tracks.

The bonus tracks open with six live tracks, the first the free flowing pop-lite What You Don’t Know About The Girl, Operator, the dug deep blues-rocker Creeple People, the jaunty 60s pop of Down In Front, and then both the piano-led pop bounce of Too Late For Us Now and I’m Not Your Cowboy, the expanded edition closing on two instrumentals: I’m Startin’ A Band and On Our Way To The Moon.

Official Purchase Link

Title - All The Boys on St. Mark’s Place
Artist - Jonathan Postal

Jonathan Postal has had an extensive music career fronting three different bands throughout the 1970s and ‘80s. Raised in New York City he ended up in San Francisco during the late ‘70s punk and new wave scene where he received a BFA in photography at the San Francisco Art Institute.

His photo work shooting various bands on the SF scene led him to photo stints at CBS Records, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, the Soho Weekly News and the Miami New Times. This 18-track collection compiles tracks from the three bands along with his own solo material.

Most popular and significant of those bands were the Readymades, an influential bay area group from that iconic period. The group released two singles with an album that were all compiled along with other unreleased material on the Liberation Hall 2021 release, “More Live Than Not: San Francsico 1978”.

“All The Boys on St. Mark’s Place” features three unreleased Readymades tracks that feature the female new wave band the B Girls with Cynthia Ross and Xena Holiday on background vocals. Also features Bart Lewis on guitar who went on to form the NYC glam metal band Smashed Gladys.

In the early 1980s Postal moved back to New York where he formed the band The Odds. The group featured local playing legends Kenny Aaronson on bass (Rick Derringer, Bob Dylan, Billy Idol, The Yardbirds), Johnny Rao on guitar (David Johansen, Sylvain Sylvain) and the late Lee Crystal (Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Sylvain Sylvain) on drums. The collection features 4 unreleased tracks from the NYC super group.

Jonathan’s next band The Gift contribute eight unreleased tracks that feature New York City local musicians Freddie Katz on guitar/vocals, Robert Koechel on bass and Johnny Decal on drums. The 18-track set is completed and rounded off with three solo Jonathan Postal tracks.

1. Floating World/The Odds (3:11)
2. The Wrong Man/The Odds (3:11)
3. Send It C.O.D./The Odds (2:35)
4. Nurse Debbie/The Odds (2:35)
5. Get Used To the Fact/The Readymades (2:13)
6. Fallen Angel/The Readymades (3:03)
7. Living In the Movies/The Gift (3:21)
8. Angry Young Men/The Readymades (2:35)
9. Love Me Or Leave Me Alone/The Gift (3:15)
10. You Were There/The Gift (3:05)
11. The Architect/The Gift (4:08)
12. The Girl In the Glass Cage (4:51)
13. Shut Up, This Ain’t Love (3:24)
14. Mistaken For Love/The Gift (4:37)
15. The Gift/The Gift (4:42)
16. Don’t Get Excited/The Gift (3:36)
17. Secrets Of The Heart/The Gift (3:23)
18. Nobody’s Fool (2:20)

The collection opens on four from The Odds, starting with the gently rambunctious Floating World, the more strident The Wrong Man, the free flowing rocker Send It C.O.D. and the countrified pop-rock of Nurse Debbie, and then we get three from The Readymades in the form of the pop-rocker Get Used To the Fact, the melodic, punk-hued Fallen Angel, the finger-clicking beauty Angry Young Men, with a bunch from The Gift threaded throughout: the pop-tastic Living In the Movies, the alt-rocker Love Me Or Leave Me Alone/The Gift, the rhythmic hipsway of You Were There and then we get the dutiful The Architect.

The brilliant synth-imbibed rocker The Girl In the Glass Cage is one of the highlights of this album for me and is backed by the synth drum-fed, anti-love song Shut Up, This Ain’t Love and then come a quartet from The Gift; the first being the regimented Mistaken For Love, the forthright alt-pop rocker The Gift, the resounding Don’t Get Excited, the collection rounding out on the poptastic Secrets Of The Heart, closing on the twanging countrified beauty Nobody’s Fool.

Jonathan currently resides in Memphis performing with his band the Rattlesnake Whips. He continues with his art and is the creator of Postal Guitars. For more info check out their site here:

Official Purchase Link

Title - Billy Idol (Expanded Edition) [2CD]
Artist - Billy Idol

Rock legend Billy Idol has just released an expanded edition of his self-titled debut album on July 28th, 2023 via Capitol/UMe. The reissue includes the original 10-track album, the previously unreleased August 12, 1982 concert from The Roxy in West Hollywood, CA as well as the recently unearthed and previously unreleased 12-minute Clubland Extended Remix of his classic song “White Wedding” from Idol’s debut.

For 46 years, Billy Idol has been one of the faces and voices of rock’n’roll. Between 1977 and 1981, Idol released three albums with Generation X as their camera-ready frontman. In 1982, he embarked on a transatlantic/trans-genre solo career that integrated the bold and simple lines of punk and rock’n’roll decadence.

Last year, Idol released his latest project, The Cage EP, via Dark Horse Records. The new music follows Idol’s 2021 The Roadside EP, which received praise from fans and critics alike. In January, Idol was honored with the first Hollywood Walk of Fame Star of 2023. The ceremony included guest speakers Henry Rollins and Shepard Fairey.

Disc 1 - Billy Idol:
1. Come On, Come On
2. White Wedding (Part 1)
3. Hot In The City
4. Dead On Arrival
5. Nobody’s Business
6. Love Calling
7. Hole In The Wall
8. Shooting Stars
9. It’s So Cruel
10. Congo Man
11. White Wedding (Clubland Extended Remix) (Previously Unreleased)

The original 1982 album, plus the brilliant now-added, and 12 minute bonus track, was, and without a shadow of a doubt, the album that pretty much let the world know that Idol was going to be a force in rock music.

Although this phenomenal solo debut album was pre-dated by a solo EP in 1981, although that record wasn’t a studio release or a full album, it was enough to allow Idol to springboard off it for this officially recognized debut recording.

The album, of which should have gone platinum back in the 1982-1984 music buying period, but actually wasn’t certified gold (500,000) until almost a year after its release, might well have been one of his underrated musical exploits, but it still contains a lot of greatness.

Sure, people mainly remember this album for the steamy Hot In The City, but there are other memorable (still today) standouts here, such as Come On, Come On, Nobody’s Business, the brilliant Dead on Arrival, and for my money, also Hole In The Wall.

Idol’s vocals, the guitar usage, the bass, and the overall rhythmic beat production on this album definitely combined to create an album that still stands up to musical scrutiny today, some 41 years later!

DISC 2Live At The Roxy, 1982 (Previously Unreleased):
1. Baby Talk
2. Untouchables
3. Come On, Come On
4. Hot In the City
5. Dead On Arrival
6. Heavens Inside
7. Ready Steady Go
8. Hole In The Wall
9. Shooting Stars
10. Kiss Me Deadly
11. White Wedding
12. Nobody’s Business
13. Dancing With Myself
14. Mony Mony
15. Triumph

The bonus disc is the previously unreleased live show recorded on August 12, 1982, and showcases the raw, rocking, throaty talent of William Broad to the fullest.

Giving lifelong Idol fans something to eagerly flashback to, the live recording is as energetic, as vibrant and as musically colorful as you could ever have hoped it would be.

With the Roxy set being about an hour long, included amongst the debut tracks are a bunch of Generation X ditties, such as Dancing With Myself, Ready Steady Go, Untouchables, Kiss Me Deadly and the show ender Triumph, but it’s the tracks such as his rendition of Mony Mony that become instant showstoppers.

Idol will continue to take his lauded live show on the road this summer with a select run of headline tour dates. The run of shows includes a debut performance at New York City’s Kings Theatre, D.C.’s The Anthem, and Boston’s MGM Music Hall, as well as an appearance at Jazz Aspen Snowmass with the Foo Fighters.

Performing a career-spanning set featuring his iconic hits and new music from his latest EPs, Idol will be joined by his longtime band, including his collaborator and lead guitarist of over forty years, Steve Stevens.

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Title - Astor’s Place
Artist - Dimitri Landrain Trio

Astor’s Place is part biography and part geography. It’s a biography in that we learn about Dimitri Landrain, an acclaimed French composer and pianist based in New York City.

He began studying classical piano at age eight, and he soon became enveloped with improvisation, jazz, and swing. He gigged in Paris throughout his teenage years, and he ultimately moved to the US after earning a scholarship and eventually attended Berklee.

This is where the biography turns into geography. While at Berklee, he was offered to tour the world as a bandleader on a cruise line. Landrain jumped aboard and traveled the world, seeing various port cities and learning about the music of the Americas.

The main influence for my compositions comes from my travels, he reflects. Among the places he visited were Brazil and Argentina. I vividly remember the unique and rich music of the carnival and the harmonic and melodic language of Jobim and Gilberto Gil, he says. Joining Landrain on this musical adventure are talented artists Jim Robertson (bass) and Keith Balla (drums).

Each song on this album is a stop in Landrain’s life journey: his experiences in fascinating places, and his inspirations to write music that will linger with you for days. The first (and title) track Astor’s Place is indeed a tribute to Astor Piazzolla. I tried to capture the spirit and passion of tango, especially the intensity and drama by alternating relentlessness and relief, explains Landrain.

The progression is familiar to Libertango with a minor key and a bass pedal point that supports the upper register harmony. The B section supplies the relief followed by a thoughtful piano solo leading into an inspired drum solo. Drummer Keith Balla displays an incredible versatility throughout the album, weaving a tasteful variation of styles and grooves to perfectly color and support Landrain’s compositions, while still interacting emotionally with the trio.

1. Astor’s Place (4:44)
2. Hotel Bar (5:09)
3. Entangled (4:25)
4. Eight Years (2:25)
5. Lovers In The Rain (3:55)
6. De Buen Tono (4:33)
7. O Carnaval (3:05)
8. Nostalgia (5:35)
9. Waltz For Billy (5:17)

Produced by Kabir Sehgal, the album opens on the pure elegance of the titular Astor’s Place and then brings us the lushly sculpted Hotel Bar, the free flowing melodies within Entangled and then the joyously moved Eight Years.

Along next is the opulent Lovers In The Rain and the low slung rhythms of De Buen Tono, and they are in turn backed by the upbeat hipsway within O Carnaval, the album rounding out with the laid back balladry of Nostalgia, and closing on the aptly-named Waltz For Billy.

Dimitri Landrain - piano
Jim Robertson - bass
Keith Balla - drums

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Dimitri Landrain @ Spotify

Title - Much Ado
Artist - Danbi Um / Amy Yang

Much Ado, the solo debut album by Korean-American violinist Danbi Um is as striking for the young musician’s choice of “old world” repertoire as her virtuoso interpretations and the sumptuous sound she draws from her 1683 “ex-Petschek” Nicolo Amati violin.

Danbi conjures memories of a musical Golden Age, a sensibility instilled in her by a roster of internationally renowned tutors.

The title track by Eric Korngold’s Shakespeare-inspired suite sits alongside arrangements of works by fellow Austro-Germanic composers Fritz Kreisler and Richard Wagner. Hungarian gipsy music infuses compositions by Johannes Brahms, Jenõ Hubay and Ernõ Dohnányi, juxtaposed with music by Jewish composers Ernst Bloch, Joseph Achron and Leo Zeitlin.

4 Pieces from the incidental music to Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing Op.11 (arranged by the composer)
1. I. The Maiden in the Bridal Chamber (2.55)
2. II. Dogberry and Verges (March of the Watch) (2.05)
3. III. Scene in the Garden (4.59)
4. IV. Masquerade (Hornpipe) (2.02)

RICHARD WAGNER (1813–1883)
5. Albumblatt in C WWV 94 (arr. August Wilhelmj) (4.19)

6. Hungarian Dance No.17 (arr. Fritz Kreisler) (3:59)

JENÕ HUBAY (1858–1937)
7. Scènes de la Csárda No.3 Op.18 ‘Maros vize’ (6:32)

ERNÕ DOHNÁNYI (1877–1960)
Ruralia hungarica Op.32c
8. II. Andante rubato (Gypsy Andante) (5:26)

JOSEPH ACHRON (1886–1943)
9. La Romanesca (3:29)

LEO ZEITLIN (1884–1930)
10. Eli Zion (arr. Joseph Achron) (5:24)

11. Hebrew Dance Op. 35, No. 1 (6:06)
ERNEST BLOCH (1880–1959)
12. Avodah (5:43)

FRITZ KREISLER (1875–1962)
13. Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta (8:33)

The recording opens on the four pieces within Korngold: Much Ado About Nothing, Op. 11: suite for violin (or cello) & piano; the earnestly delicate The Maiden in the Bridal Chamber, the strident Dogberry and Verges (March of the Watch), the sweepingly ornate Scene in the Garden and the feisty Masquerade (Hornpipe), before we get brought forth the stunningly exuberant stillness of Wagner: Albumblatt In das Album der Fürstin M., WWV 94 and the forthright, yet nonetheless cultured Brahms: Hungarian Dance No. 17 in F sharp minor.

Along next is the loud and proud Hubay: Scène de la csárda No. 3 Maros vize, Op. 18 and the sheer decadence within Dohnányi: Ruralia Hungarica No. 6 Op. 32 / A: Gipsy Andante, and they are in turn followed by the furrowed yearn of Achron, J: La romanesca, the embroidered Zeitlin: Eli Zion, a solid ascetic within Achron, J: Hebrew Pieces (2), Op. 35: No. 1, the recording rounding out on the regimented Bloch, E: Sacred Service (Avodath Hakodesh), closing on the flourishing Kreisler: Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta.

A multiple award winner – Danbi has taken top prizes at the Yehudi Menuhin and Naumberg International Violin Competitions, and Astral Artists’ Auditions – she has been praised by The Strad as an “utterly dazzling” artist with a “marvelous show of superb technique.”

A resident of New York City, Danbi performs regularly with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and further afield with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Washington D.C.’s Phillips Collection, and the Rockport, Moab, Saratoga Performing Arts and Santa Fe Music Festivals.

Danbi Um, violin
Amy Yang, piano

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Title - Rodgers & Hammerstein: Oklahoma! Original Score
Artist - Nathaniel Hackmann

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! was first performed in 1943; and was a significant turning point in the history of musical theatre. It was the first musical to put drama and plot to the fore; portrayed by rounded; believable characters.

It swept aside traditions that had their roots in vaudeville – star turns; comic sketches; and endless lines of high-kicking chorus girls. Oklahoma! does feature dance; but in the hands of the choreographer; Agnes de Mille; this was idiomatic to the plot; and revolutionary in terms of the fifteen-minute dream-sequence ballet at the close of Act I.

The first collaboration between composer and writer; the show was a hit; running for more than five years on Broadway; and paving the way for their masterpieces to come. John Wilson’s long-held fascination for researching original musical theatre scores of this period and bringing them anew to modern audiences reaches a milestone with this world première recording of the original score in its entirety (no cuts) and in the original orchestrations for twenty-nine-piece orchestra made by Robert Russell Bennett for the original production.

His outstanding cast features Nathaniel Hackmann; Sierra Boggess; Jamie Parker; Louise Dearman; Sandra Marvin; Rodney Earl Clarke; Nadim Naaman; and Leo Roberts; ably supported by the ‘Oklahoma!’ Ensemble – twenty-two artists drawn from London’s West End.

Wilson comments: ‘I love the connective tissue of the piece; the scene-change music; the ballet; the songs that sometimes get cut; the underscoring. And when so many vastly different new versions are appearing on stage; it’s more important than ever that we have a document of the actual source material.’

Now recorded in Surround Sound and Dolby Atmos, the work is released on double Hybrid SACD. Looking back, and composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist/librettist Oscar Hammerstein II, who controlled the rights to their record-breaking, landmark musical Oklahoma!, took their time putting together a film version, with the movie not arriving until 12 and a half years after the show’s Broadway opening.

But, of course, the songwriters’ unusual power over the production assured that whether it be the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack or this, the Original Score, it would be more faithful than most Hollywood treatments.

The result is an outstanding rendering of the score that gives it a bigger, broader interpretation and has continued to sound impressive over the decades, which may be one reason why the album, which topped the charts upon release and sold more than two million copies, has remained in print continually since it first appeared.

Now with everything added that had, for the most part, been left by the wayside on other compilations, most of what has now been re-incorporated are instrumental underscoring for dance sequences that borrowed from the melodies of the songs (in particular, the 14-minute Out of My Dreams Ballet).

Of course, Roger’s and Hammerstein’s music and lyrics are timeless. The title tune, Oh What Beautiful Morning, Surrey With the Fringe on Top, People Will Say We’re in Love, Everything’s Up-to-Date in Kansas City, I Cain’t Say No, and the others keep playing in your memory long after you’ve heard them.

Disc 1:
Overture - Act I No. 15 Lonely Room
Overture; No. 1, Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’; No. 2, Laurey’s Entrance; No. 3, The Surrey with the Fringe on Top; No. 4, Kansas City; No. 5, The Surrey with the Fringe on Top (Reprise); No. 6, I Cain’t Say No!;No. 7, I Cain’t Say No! (Encore), No. 8, Entrance of Ensemble; No. 9, Many a New Day; No. 10, Many a New Day (Dance and Reprise); No. 11, It’s a Scandal! It’s a Outrage!; No. 12, People Will Say We’re in Love; No. 13, Change of Scene; No. 14, Pore Jud is Daid; No. 15, Lonely Room.

Disc 2:
Act I No. 16 Change of Scene - Act II No. 30 Exit Music
No. 16, Change of Scene; No. 17a, Dream Sequence Melos; No. 17b, Dream Sequence Out of My Dreams; No. 17c, Dream Sequence Interlude to Ballet; No. 17d, Dream Sequence Dream Ballet; No. 18, Entr’acte; No. 19, The Farmer and the Cowman; No. 20, Farmer Dance; No. 21, Change of Scene; No. 22, All er Nothin’; No. 23, Change of Scene; No. 24, People Will Say We’re in Love (Reprise); Nos. 25 & 26, Change of Scene; No. 27, Oklahoma; No. 28, Oklahoma (Encore); No. 29, Finale Ultimo: Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’ / People Will Say We’re in Love; No. 30, Exit Music.

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Title - Vivaldi: Concerti per violino XI “Per Anna Maria”
Artist - Fabio Biondi / Europa Galante

Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante expand the Vivaldi Edition with this eleventh volume of violin concertos; bearing the name of one of the most famous performers of the early eighteenth century; Anna Maria.

A child prodigy and an exceptional performer from the Ospedale della Pietà where Vivaldi taught for forty years; Anne Maria was an accomplished violinist; but also skilled on the viola d’amore and theorbo; as well as the harpsichord; cello; lute and mandolin.

Her reputation traveled throughout Europe; and we know that her repertoire included at least twenty-four concertos dedicated to her by Vivaldi.

Vivaldi: Concerti per violino XI “Per Anna Maria”
RV 179a, 207, 229, 260, 261, 363

The recording opens on Vivaldi: Concerto in D major, RV 229, and the striking Allegro, the aching yearn within Largo and culminates on the forthright Allegro and then we are brought forth Vivaldi: Concerto for Strings and Continuo in B-flat Major, RV 363 O sia il Corneto da Posta, which itself opens on the flair of Allegro, the daintiness of Adagio and concludes on the flourishing Allegro.

Along next is Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 11 No. 1, RV 207, which opens on the soaring Allegro, the ornate Largo and culminates with the free flowing Allegro and then we get Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in E flat major, RV 260, which begins on the forthright Allegro, the pristine Adagio and ends on the darting Allego.

Then we are welcomed into Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in C Major, RV. 179a Per Anna Maria with the binding Allegro ma poco, the pronounced Largo, the work ending on the sweeping Allegro and then comes Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in E flat major, RV 261, which opens on the jubilant Allegro, the low key Largo, and culminates with the joyous Allegro assai; the collection coming to a close on the alluringly beautiful Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in C Major, RV 179a: II. Largo (with original ornementation from RV 581).

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Title - 2006-16 The Jet Age [5CD]
Artist - U.K. Subs

The brand new U.K. Subs - 2006-16 The Jet Age is a wondrous 5CD, 83 track clamshell box-set covering all the releases involving guitarist Jet Taniguchi as well as by the Charlie Harper, Alvin Gibbs, Jamie Oliver, Jet incarnation of punk legends the U.K. Subs.

Disc 1 is 2010’s ‘Work In Progress’ album which now comes with the bonus of the long deleted ‘666Yeah’ single and the ‘Warhead 2008’ mini LP.

The second disc is 2013’s ‘XXIV’album which has the addition of studio out-take ‘Workers Beer Company’ appearing here on CD for the first time.

2015’s ‘Yellow Leader’ is on Disc 3 and contains the single ‘Sin City Blues’.

The fourth disc is 2016’s ‘Ziezo’ album where the band finally achieved their aim of releasing an album for every letter of the alphabet.

Disc five is ‘Acoustic XXIV’ featuring acoustic tracks previously only available with the limited CD pressing of the ‘XXIV’ album. Now with the addition of the previously non-CD bonus track ‘Hard Times Café’.

The booklet has detailed liner notes written by the bands Time & Matter website editor and includes lots of rare photos.

CD 1: Work In Progress (2011)
1 Creation - 2 Tokyo Rose - 3 Hell Is Other People - 4 The Axe - 5 Radio Unfriendly - 6 This Chaos - 7 Guru - 8 Eighteen Wheels - 9 Children Of The Flood - 10 All Blurs Into One - 11 Blood - 12 Rock N Roll Whore - 13 Strychnine - 14 Robot Age [BONUS TRACKS] 15 666Yeah - 16 Straighten Out - 17 I Live In A Car (2008) - 18 Creation - 19 Warhead (2008) - 20 Straighten Out (2008) - 21 Knuckleduster.

The album bursts into live with Creation, a reworked version of a song previously recorded on the 2008 Warhead EP. It took time to adjust listening to this version of the song, but it sure as hell wakes you up to what is to follow!

Tokyo Rose is next, a very catchy track which leads into Hell Is Other People. Never afraid to speak his mind, Charlie just tells it how it is. Plain and simple, the way it should be. The pace slows with The Axe, but not in intensity or power. Something which this album has plenty of in abundance.

In typical U.K. Subs style they then hit top gear with Radio Unfriendly, a fast paced track which owes so much to the talent of Jamie Oliver. Modern day radio under corporate control is indeed a sludge fest, but This Chaos says it all about the world we live in. A co-operation between Charlie Harper and Lars Frederiksen definitely produced a classic social commentary track.

Guru sees Alvin Gibbs take to vocals with a self penned track about fake, self righteous guru’s who are just out for the money. There are plenty of those about who people fall victim to these days. Eighteen Wheels with it’s Dwain Eddie style guitar twang and the powerful Children Of The Flood, complete with it’s sumptuous rock style guitar solo’s from Jet lead into what for me is the best track on this album, All Blurs Into One.

The album certainly doesn’t do that by any means though, as you can tell and as much as it is the longest track on the album, it has a bunch of subtle pace changes, immense backing vocals along with pure raw U.K. Subs power. It builds in intensity all the way through to provide a real show stopping track.

Blood is a powerful punchy track and Rock n Roll Whore is another very catchy hard hitting song which makes way for the classic Sonic’s song Strychnine. A cover song they have played live many times, I’m always glad to hear it. After 13 tracks the album finishes with, for me, the weakest track, Robot Age, but it is what it is - and what it is is one brilliant rock n roll album!

CD 2: XXIV (2013)
1 Implosion 77 - 2 Coalition Government Blues - 3 Speed - 4 Rabid - 5 Monkeys - 6 Black Power Salute - 7 Las Vegas Wedding - 8 Stare At The Sun - 9 Garden Of Good And Evil - 10 Workers Revolution - 11 Wreckin’ Ball - 12 Detox - 13 Failed State - 14 Momento Mori [BONUS TRACK] 15 Workers Beer Company.

When The UK Subs gatecrashed the charts in 1979 with Stranglehold, few commentators thought their punk convictions would last until Christmas. Forty plus years later, and this is, along with everything else they have put out before and after, stunning rock n roll at its finest and is a massive testament to why the band is still going strong today.

The speed (no pun) and ferocity of Speed batters your ear drums senseless and no doubt induce a thousand cases of tinnitus. Monkeys is unsurprisingly not a tribute to our simian cousins, but actually a rallying cry from Charlie to those who stand back and turn a blind eye to the injustices of the world. Great guitar work by Jet sets the songs tone.

Implosion 77 and Rabid are also righteous blasts of speed-punk fury, while a rollicking Las Vegas Wedding is a boozy update of Party In Paris. The highlight, for me personally though, is the anthemic Coalition Government Blues, where Harper dismantles the current Parliamentary crop in between searing blasts of harmonica. It’s enough to make a younger generation of say-nothing musicians hang their heads in shame.

CD 3: Yellow Leader (2015)
1 Sick Velveteen - 2 Artificial - 3 Bordeaux Red - 4 Chemical - 5 Deconstruct - 6 Diatribe - 7 Feed The Whore - 8 Heathens - 9 Prime Evil - 10 Rebellion Song - 11 Sin City Blues - 12 Slave - 13 Big Bug - 14 Suicidal Girl - 15 Virus - 16 Cry Wolf - 17 Archaeology.

When they started and released album #1 (Another Kind of Blues, 1979), leader/vocalist Charlie Harper said he wanted to release enough albums that each could have a title from a different letter in the alphabet. How many took this seriously? Who knows, but 35 years and countless tours, singles, members, and labels later he finally hit Y with Yellow Leader. That’s 25 proper albums, plus a wide assortment of collections, live albums, archive releases, etc!

The quality hasn’t always been 100%, mind you. From the late 1980s through to early 2000s, the albums were pretty mixed, but it’s hard to be consistent when you’re getting new guitar players and drummers every few months.

That said, Yellow Leader is strong, tough, melodic, and shows a tremendous amount of growth. It still snarls and kicks like any great punk album, but they show a dynamism in playing that lacked on their earliest efforts. Check Bordeaux Red for a nice melodic shift, a little more down-tempo. But tracks like Suicidal Girl or album opener Velveteen tear you apart with their tough attack.

CD 4: Ziezo (2016)
1 Polarisation - 2 Oligarchy - 3 I’ve Got A Gun - 4 Evil Vs Evil - 5 Proto Feminist - 6 Disclosure - 7 Rise - 8 World War III - 9 Dope Fiend - 10 I Don’t Care - 11 Master Race - 12 Banksy - 13 This Machine - 14 City Of The Dead - 15 Maid Of Orleans - 16 Zeitgeist.

The fourth album and the final alphabet-orientated album title in the run, also features early 80s bassist Alvin Gibbs, guitarist Jet and drummer Jamie Oliver (aka the band’s longest running line-up).

And, trust me, U.K. Subs are as strong as they’ve ever been on this blistering album, and it’s almost a shame that they’ve reached the end of their quest with Ziezo, as it’s a monster of an album!

Jamie’s super-precise hardcore beats and Jet’s modern metal-tinged riffs give the album a contemporary edge, with blisteringly crisp production from Pat Collier, while Charlie and Alvin ensure we’re still listening to the Subs.

It’s a winning combination. Opener Polarisation pummels the senses, spitting out the aforementioned beats and riffs, though Dope Fiend is more traditional Subs fayre, and City Of The Dead is a jaunty reggae rocker in the Clash vein, but This Machine is positively corrosive!

CD 5: Acoustic XXIV (2016)
1 Angel Of Eighth Avenue - 2 Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind - 3 Metamorphosis - 4 Sleeping Rough - 5 Souls From Hell - 6 Stop Global War - 7 Four Strong Winds - 8 Higher Tide - 9 The Outsider - 10 Thunders In The Rain - 11 Stormy Day - 12 Little Black Crow [BONUS TRACK] 13 Hard Times Cafe.

Originally featured as a bonus on the original CD pressing of the 2013’s XXIV CD, the acoustic version here now features as a bonus track the previously unreleased studio out-take Hard Times Café.

Featuring a cover version of Mott The Hoople’s Angel Of Eighth Avenue as well as Charlie Harper’s Little Black Crow, which he then used as the title for his second solo LP, this 13-track recording showcases the band at their finest; and without all their rock n roll bangs and crashes cushioning them at every turn!

Official 5CD Purchase Link

Title - Lilac
Artist - TrancEnd

What happens when Prog meets Trip-hop meets Electronica meets Groove meets Pop? A mind meld of 90s Euro-trance history savored in twenty-first century progressive techno-pop. TrancEnd defies the genre labels with their galvanizing auditory epicure of sultry vocals; ambient head-space environments; and surf-shimmer guitars - glued together with deep beats landing squarely in your chest compelling your body to sway and head to rock side-to-side.

TrancEnd’s debut album release, Lilac, brings the listener into the now moment with an awestruck delivery of soundscape and lyrical imagery. Their live performances are captivating - demanding your attention and immersing your senses in an unforgettable experience of color, shape, and sound.

TrancEnd brings their love for 90s Euro trip-hop while experimenting with constrained metal rudiments tempered by catchy pop-rhythms. They are a “must see” phenomenon that continues to amaze fans and impress venue managers.

“Are you experienced?” Have the “TrancEnd experience” and find out what thousands of fans are discovering about this new artist and how they capture the essence of what we all seek in sonic bliss.

1. Landing
2. Meridian
3. Do Something
4. Waves of Rosetta
5. Flicker
6. Breathe
7. Another Day
8. Blurred Lines
9. Ethereal
10. One Thing
11. Twin
12. Mellow-D
13. Green-Yellow Lights

On an album where Prog meets Trip Hop meets Groove meets Pop, whilst weaving together the most perfect blend of 90s Euro-trance history savored in twenty-first century techno-pop, the opening track is the free flowingly translucent Landing and the veritably shimmering Meridian, and they are followed by the synth pop-rock of Do Something, the opulent beauty found within Waves of Rosetta and then we get the low slung Flicker and the verbosely ethereal Breathe.

Where TrancEnd defies the genre labels with their galvanizing auditory epicure of sultry vocals; ambient head-space environments; and surf-shimmer guitars—glued together with deep beats landing squarely in your chest, they continue onward with the strident Another Day and the thoughtful Blurred Lines and they are in turn backed by the aptly-named Ethereal, the drum-led rocker One Thing, the beaming Twin, the album rounding out on a ghostly vein that flows within Mellow-D, closing on the empyreal ambiance of Green-Yellow Lights.

The band formed during the Covid Dark Ages in 2020 - a merciless time for performing musicians, but it did provide a focused space for song writing and collaboration. The Maurus brothers: Ian, Evan, and Zachary, originally from the Detroit area, were involved in death metal projects in Michigan, then moved to North Carolina in 2015, where they recorded a brilliant 10-track death metal album and an EP.

They toured locally in North Carolina and surrounding states until 2018 when their vocalist departed. Although metal is still a passion for the Maurus brothers, they knew they may have to change musical direction to survive and appeal to a world-wide audience. Like water, creativity finds a path. They paused, and the great “inner-muse” took over.

TrancEnd is:
Brittany LeAnn - Vocals
Evan Maurus - Guitar
Zach Maurus - Guitar
Ian Maurus - Drums

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Official Website

Title - T-1 Contact Information
Artist - Tu-Ner

From the kitchen of the original King Crimson R&D fraKctal units & Stick Men comes Tu-Ner featuring touch guitarist Markus Reuter, alongside the powerhouse rhythm section of Pat Mastelotto on drums and Trey Gunn on Warr guitar.

Defying logistics to grab four days together, the immersive session included repertoire rehearsal; as well as recording semi-prepared pieces and several full improvisations. The band’s chemistry has deep roots and connections are made quickly so large slabs of music appear unedited.

These two hours of recordings are the outcome of their debut double disc album T-1 Contact Information coming August 14th, 2023.

1. Crowfin
2. 31
3. Apple Turtle
4. On The Other Side
5. Contact Information

The first disc opens on the industrially-sculpted Crowfin and the slow crawl, groove-funk of 31 and they are followed by the atmospherically-charged Apple Turtle, the sterner, gothic fare of On The Other Side, closing out on the shimmering, albeit electrified rhythms contained within the vibrant Contact Information.

1. Poem About A Sad Horse
2. Forcibly Taken Into The Future
3. Moses
4. Poodles

The second disc opens on the ornately languishing yearn within Poem About A Sad Horse and the pulsating ebb and flow of the near 23 minute electronic opus Forcibly Taken Into The Future, and then brings us the veritably ethereal glisten of tranquil orchestrations within Moses, the recording closing on the crashing prog-rock of Poodles.

Markus Reuter – Touch Guitar, Soundscapes
Pat Mastelotto – Drums, Electronics, Vocoder
Trey Gunn – Warr Guitar, Fretless Warr Guitar, Vocoder

Pat Mastelotto – Very rarely does a drummer go on to forge the most successful career on the demise of their former hit band. Phil Collins and Dave Grohl have managed it, and so too has Pat Mastelotto, a self taught drummer from Northern California, who has also been involved with pushing the envelope of electronic drumming. Pat has spent a lifetime jumping genres from pop, to prog, to electronica to world music with – among others – Mr. Mister, XTC, David Sylvian, The Rembrandts, Kimmo Pohjonen, and for the last 25 years with King Crimson and Stick Men.

Markus Reuter is a composer, guitarist, and producer. He began his musical journey as a composer before delving into Robert. Fripp’s Guitar Craft, mastering the Chapman Stick, and eventually transitioning to the U8 Touch Guitar. Reuter has released numerous solo albums and has collaborated extensively with various musicians. He holds a prominent position in the experimental band Anchor and Burden and forms the duo Tuner with Pat.

Additionally, he was a member of Europa String Choir and has worked alongside notable artists such as Gary Husband, Robert Rich, J. Peter Schwalm, Mark Wingfield, and many others. Reuter’s versatility is evident through his involvement in Devin Townsend’s touring band. Notably, he also performs in power trios including Stick Men with Pat and Tony Levin, TRUCE with Asaf Sirkis and Fabio Trentini, and Markus Reuter/Tim Motzer/Kenny Grohowski.

Trey Gunn, the extraordinary Warr guitarist and musician, has left an indelible mark on the world of progressive music. Renowned for his virtuosic talent, he has graced the stages and recording studios with legendary acts such as King Crimson, Brian Eno, David Sylvian, Robert Fripp, Happy Rhodes, Puscifer, Tool and John Paul Jones, contributing his unique blend of mesmerizing and innovative playing.

As the founder of the esteemed 7D Media record label, Gunn continues to be a guiding force in curating exceptional musical experiences. Trey Gunn’s visionary artistry and unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of sound make him a true luminary in the realm of progressive music.

Tu-Ner - 31 [Official Music Video]

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Official Website

Title - The Last Troubador
Artist - Doctor Fish

For those unaware, 2023 has been an exciting year for Doctor Fish, especially the last part with finishing up The Last Troubadour album and getting ready to release “Harry Chapin (Every Monday Night)” as its lead-off single.

The 1970s were the golden age of folk-rock singer-songwriters like Chapin as well as Jim Croce, Cat Stevens, Paul Simon, James Taylor, and Gordon Lightfoot. Doctor Fish is a little younger than those great troubadours but from the same era and thus their music is his native language.

“When I was younger, I had it figured out. I clearly understood what life was all about. But life, of course, knew better and had its way with me. You know that I’m still standing, just not where I thought I’d be.” So sings Doctor Fish in “Tuesday Morning,” from his debut with Renaissance Records, The Last Troubadour.

Doctor Fish’s songs reveal a proud musical throwback—a guitar-wielding, storytelling, folk-rock singer-songwriter. No fake retro act: he is one of the last surviving purveyors of that style from the era of its originators, the aforementioned Jim Croce, Harry Chapin, James Taylor, and Cat Stevens.

Vents Magazine heralds The Last Troubadour as “One of the best albums we’ve heard in ages.” “Rock History Music” Vlogger John Beaudin thanks Doctor Fish “for making me stare at the speaker for the first time in years. We need more music that makes us stop in our tracks. Top shelf.”

Produced by multi-platinum veteran David Kershenbaum, the album features bassist Leland Sklar (James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and Carole King) and drummer Denny Fongheiser (Heart, Counting Crows, and Shawn Colvin), along with other top studio musicians from around the world.

1. Arizona Skies
2. Tuesday Morning
3. Morning
4. Sexual Creature
5. Anastasia
6. Man Loves A Woman
7. I’m Not Done Yet
8. Hang The Moon
9. Harry Chapin
10. And So This Is Love
11. Last Troubadour

This emotively impassioned, heartfelt and generously sumptuous new recording opens on the descriptive, sweetly enveloping Arizona Skies and then confidently leads us into the strident Tuesday Morning, before we are brought forth the dutiful hipsway found within Sexual Creature, the aching yearn within Anastasia and the sleek Man Loves A Woman.
Along next is the countrified flare within the rhythmic I’m Not Done Yet and the low slung minstrel-imbibed Hang The Moon and they are followed seamlessly by the melodious first single, Harry Chapin, the album rounding out on the warm embrace of And So This Is Love, closing on the upbeat and jubilant live track Last Troubadour.

Doctor Fish’s music reveals a particular affinity to that of Harry Chapin. The late singer-songwriter inspired one of his most popular songs, “Harry Chapin (Every Monday Night)." Harry’s son Jason has called it “a great tribute to my father,” and Fish has given several interviews with Jen Chapin about her father’s legacy.

Doctor Fish pens story songs in a folk-rock style like the late activist songwriters, but his syncopated melodies and rich chord progressions also reveal his background as a jazz musician.

He grew up playing saxophone and backed legends, including Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra. “But I wound up taking a sharp left turn,” he laughs. “I picked up a guitar and began writing and singing songs.” He continued songwriting and earned his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Michigan. He went to Japan to conduct doctoral fieldwork for three years by studying with the 4th generation master of Shinto music and returned to live in the country, working as a translator and editor.

Fish’s journey brought him to North Carolina, where he built a music education program for popular music studies at Catawba College. He helped students advance to successful careers in many parts of the music industry, from performance to major talent agencies. Now living in Durham, NC, he is pursuing his own interrupted goals as a performer.

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Title - Off The Charts
Artist - Richard Baratta

For those not in the know, Savant Records is excited to announce the August 25th, 2023 release of Off The Charts, the thrilling new album from acclaimed drummer and bandleader Richard Baratta.

On his third release for Savant, the “lively [and] adroit” (Euan Dixon, Jazz Views) musician shifts gears from the movie-music repertoire that fueled his previous two efforts, and instead turns his musical prowess to a collection of lesser-known compositions by inspirational jazz greats.

To bring his musical vision to life, Baratta assembled an A-list cast of musicians including saxophone ace Jerry Bergonzi, acclaimed pianist David Kikoski, veteran bassist John Patitucci and dazzling percussionist Paul Rossman.

1. Herzog
2. Molten Glass
3. Blackberry Winter
4. Peresina
5. Afro-Centric
6. Lost
7. Sombrero Sam
8. Tones for Joan’s Bones
9. Out of This World

The album opens on the impassioned, veritably spirited Bobby Hutcherson cut Herzog and then brings us the bossa-tinged, late night club ambiance of the Joe Ferrell track Molten Glass, their simply divine rendition of Alec Wilder and Loonis McGlonohon’s Blackberry Winter and then comes the free-flowing, Latin-hued Peresina.

Along next is the more diligently formed, funk-centric, brilliant Joe Henderson cut Afro-Centric, which is itself backed by a dutifully sculpted rendition of Wayne Shorter’s Lost, the upright bass-led, Charles Lloyd track Sombrero Sam, the recording rounding out the low slung Chick Corea swinger Tones for Joan’s Bones, closing on Harold Arlen and Johnny Burke’s resilient finger-snapping, foot-tapping, Afro-Latin-imbibed telling of Out of This World.

“I really wanted to focus on music that I loved while growing up,” the New York-area drummer explains. “And I was thinking specifically about pieces I liked that weren’t the most popular numbers on some of these records — the tunes that weren’t as well publicized or listened to or re-recorded by other musicians, but were really outstanding in their own way.”

When selecting the music for Off The Charts, Baratta mined the catalog of his youth, focusing on the 1960’s and 1970’s. A period full of intense musical creativity and experimentation, Baratta counts these years as some of the most important in his artistic development. “The music was exploding with emerging geniuses and an energy I’ve seldom seen since,” he recounts.

To honor this prolific time, Baratta handpicked what he calls “hidden treasures”; somewhat overlooked gems by the likes of Bobby Hutcherson, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, and more.

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Title - Heartbeat
Artist - Ben Winkelman

Pianist Ben Winkelman’s sixth album as a leader, Heartbeat, features jazz heavyweights Gilad Hekselman, Matt Penman and Obed Calvaire, and comprises nine originals, four played by piano trio, five by quartet with guitar.

Written mostly in the early days of the Covid pandemic while awaiting the birth of his first child, the album draws inspiration from the anticipation of becoming a father, and the feeling of crisis and isolation at the start of the pandemic in New York.

Containing playful, intricate compositions as well as simple, lyrical ones, the album spans a range of moods and stylistic influences, with an emphasis on strong melodic lines, rhythmic exploration and group interplay. Having focused on the piano trio on his previous albums, this one marks a change with the addition of guitar on five tracks.

Heartbeat will be released on OA2 Records on September 15th, 2023.

1. Praise (5:24)
2. Fort Tilden (5:52)
3. Chilches (7:19)
4. Wandering (5:00)
5. Isolation (6:20)
6. The Wonky Waltz (5:57)
7. The Plague (5:55)
8. Heartbeat (5:23)
9. Machine (5:10)

The album opens on the languishing, yet at times mischievous beauty of Praise and the quietly melodic, Brazilian-influenced Fort Tilden (itself named after a beach in south Queens) and then brings us the playful swing of Chilches (named after a small seaside town outside Malaga, Spain), the sheer beauty of the stirring ballad Wandering and then comes the free-flowing, ornately sculpted Isolation, which is itself backed by the comes the jazz-classical-hued ambiance of The Wonky Waltz, the hauntingly impassioned ballad The Plague, the recording rounding out on the rhythmically-charged, titular Heartbeat, coming to a close on the cultured grooves found within Machine.

“I wrote most of these tunes in the first months of the Covid pandemic, that strange and anxious time when New York felt like the epicenter of the apocalypse and we were mostly confined to home, uncertain of the future, unsure even what we should be doing with our time,” Ben reflects. “For me it was also a hopeful and optimistic time as we waited for the arrival of our first child. This set of pieces takes inspiration from the anticipation of fatherhood and the feeling of crisis and isolation at the start of the pandemic.”

Notably, Winkelman altered his writing process during this period. “Whereas I usually compose at the piano with pencil and manuscript paper at hand, I instead made demo versions on the computer, which led me to try different sounds. Some pieces took a different direction because of the sound palette I was playing with, and I thought that some of them would come to life more with the addition of guitar, while others would work well as trio tunes. I’ve focused on the piano trio on my previous recordings, and while I still love this format, I felt it would be interesting to try mixing it up,” he explains.

The quartet tunes bookend Heartbeat, with three at the beginning, two at the end, and the four trio tunes grouped in the middle.

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Title - Voices
Artist - Danny Jonokuchi Big Band

For those unaware, Outside In Music is thrilled to announce the August 18th, 2023 release of Voices. Esteemed trumpeter and composer Danny Jonokuchi’s label debut as a bandleader is a celebration of the enduring power of collective artistry and the boundless possibilities of vocal expression.

Alongside the stellar 17-piece Danny Jonokuchi Big Band, Voices features eleven of the most virtuosic rising jazz vocalists of our time, with each putting their own unexpected and singular spin on newly arranged jazz standards. The album’s first three singles “You Turned The Tables On Me“, “Born to be Blue” and “All Or Nothing At All” are streaming now on all digital platforms.

1. The One I Love (Belongs to Somebody Else) (2:53) (Feat. Alexa Barchini)
2. All of Me (3:12) (Feat. Tahira Clayton)
3. Social Call (3:07) (Feat. Nicole Zuraitis)
4. Summertime (5:43) (Feat. Brianna Thomas)
5. You Turned the Tables on Me (3:35) (Feat. Shenel Johns)
6. What a Difference a Day Made (4:25) (Feat. Alita Moses)
7. Blame It on My Youth (5:06) (Feat. Charles Turner)
8. Born to Be Blue (5:47) (Feat. Lucy Yeghiazaryan)
9. So Many Stars (4:43) (Feat. Sirintip)
10. All or Nothing at All (4:42) (Feat. Martina DaSilva)
11. I’m Just a Lucky So-and-So (4:14) (Feat. Hannah Gill)

The album opens on the bright shine emanating from the Jones & Khan The One I Love (Belongs to Somebody Else) (featuring Alexa Barchini) and the low slung swinger All of Me (featuring Tahira Clayton) and they are followed by the cultured Social Call (featuring Nicole Zuraitis), a stridently-embracing rendition of Gershwin’s Summertime (featuring Brianna Thomas, and then comes the late night club appeal of You Turned the Tables on Me (featuring Shenel Johns).

Along next is one of my own personal favorites from this magnificently-hued new recording, the playfully skittish What a Difference a Day Made (featuring Alita Moses) and the impassioned Blame It on My Youth (featuring Charles Turner), and they are in turn backed by an upbeat retelling of Mel Tormé’s Born to Be Blue (featuring Lucy Yeghiazaryan), the yearnful ache of So Many Stars (featuring Sirintip), the album rounding out on the euphorically-charged All or Nothing at All (featuring Martina DaSilva) and then closes on the sophisticated, elegant and melodically confident Duke Ellington cut I’m Just a Lucky So-and-So (featuring Hannah Gill).

Danny Jonokuchi first moved to New York City a decade ago, initially developing the concept for Voices upon meeting the seventeen masterful musicians that now populate the incomparable Danny Jonokuchi Big Band, and the eleven vocalists featured prominently on this release.

The bandleader longed to create a project that spoke to each musician’s artistry and collaborative abilities. Jonokuchi shares: “Voices serves as a reminder of the magic that unfolds when talented musicians come together to create something greater than the sum of its parts… Without an ounce of exaggeration, Voices is truly my dream album.”

The Danny Jonokuchi Big Band features Andrew Gould (Alto Sax, Flute), Christopher McBride (Alto Sax, Flute), Chris Oatts (Alto Sax, Flute), Jon Beshay (Tenor Sax, Flute, Clarinet), Chris Lewis (Tenor Sax, Flute, Clarinet), Andrew Gutauskas (Baritone Sax, Flute, Bass Clarinet), trumpeters Nick Marchione (lead trumpet) Sam Hoyt, John Lake, James Zollar, Scott Wendholt, Noah Halpern, Bruce Harris, trombonists Robert Edwards, Sara Jacovino, Jason Jackson, Reginald Chapman (bass trombone), pianist Jeb Patton, bassist Samuel Harris, drummer Kevin Congleton and percussionist Víctor Pablo.

The album also features special guest vocalists Alexa Barchini, Tahira Clayton, Nicole Zuraitis, Brianna Thomas, Shenel Johns, Alita Moses, Charles Turner, Lucy Yeghiazaryan, Sirintip, Martina DaSilva, and Hannah Gill.

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Title - Jardineros
Artist - Hery Paz

With JARDINEROS (GARDENERS), Hery Paz summons two kindred spirits from his diaspora: master percussionist Román Díaz, (also featured on vocals) and veteran drummer Francisco Mela to search beyond the forms and codes of Cuban musical structures by reimagining syncretic, rhythmic and poetic materials into personal improvisational and instrumental practice.

Far from ritualism, mysticism and traditional constraints, JARDINEROS is a poetic declaration to freedom, a landscaping of new grounds for uncompromising dialogs among Cuban Improvisers.

Cuban musicologist Lea Cárdenas elaborates on JARDINEROS: “Approaching this album pretending to listen to what we traditionally understand as Cuban music would be a mistake. The revolutionary nature of the instrumental formats used, the novelty in Paz’s writing to graph the musical content through unconventional notation, the creative freedom that he offers to each of the musicians who accompany him on this journey, open new stylistic pathways.”

1. Calle Libertad
2. Jardineros
3. Arroyo Lajas
4. El Real de-las Palmas
4. Miel de la Tierra
5. Conga Espirituana
6. Miel de-la Tierra
7. Lenguas del Tambor
8. Comunion
9. Pensamiento
10. Barrio del Jobo

On an album which offers a recontextualization of Cuban popular music, based on the use of sounds and interpretive resources belonging to the most experimental musical styles, it opens with the fluttering beauty found within Calle Libertad (which encapsulate the enigmatic elements of Cuban Danzón, but translate into the 21st century), the cultured, titular Jardineros, and then come a lusciously sculpted pair of duets between Paz and Mela in the form of the stridently free-flowing Arroyo Lajas and the more relaxed El Real de-las Palmas.

Along next on this sumptuous album, which is itself a return to the roots, the reaffirmation of an identity, of an idiosyncrasy that is consolidated and preserved from memory and life experience, is the upbeat and joyous, flavorful Conga Espirituana (itself an impression of a carnival Comparsa in which some of the formal genre structures prevail), and which is in turn backed by the playfully perky Miel de-la Tierra, the cinematic, short but sweet Lenguas del Tambor, the effortless Comunion, the album rounding out on the classic Cuban Trova song Pensamiento, coming to a close on Paz’s metaphoric account of his family and neighborhood history, Barrio del Jobo.

Paz comments on the music’s origin: “long before elucidating any musical ideas for this project there was a very concise poem I wrote with the same name…”

in a ritual of tongues, they savor soil

between their lips & spit, invoking the

hallucinating nostalgia of the midday sun


“…those words conjured feelings of nostalgia from my life back home in what I can only describe as sensorial abstractions. Not quite memories, these are tactile feelings taking root somewhere deep between my imaginarium and reality. My back on a cold cement floor, the brass tasting water of a well, the burning smell of a charcoal pit or the paralyzing lethargy of the high noon heat… This music is my humble attempt to portrait those feelings and events in all their poetic mystery.”

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Title - On Becoming
Artist - House of Waters

For those not in the know, the staggeringly eclectic House of Waters are thrilled to announce the September 8th, 2023, release of their new album, On Becoming, on Snarky Puppy’s GroundUP Music label.

< All About Jazz has hailed the often improvisatory ensemble’s “true eclecticism, drawing [their] influences from many sources”; they called their 2016 self-titled album “a rare and beautiful gem.” Speaking of House of Waters’ 2019 album Rising, Everything is Noise declared, “Music that is as wonderfully engaging and notably unique as this only surfaces once in a long while.”

NPR called the group’s Max ZT, who’s worked with everyone from Victor Wooten to the Goo Goo Dolls, “the Jimi Hendrix of the hammered dulcimer” — he even builds his own instruments. And Onstage Review summed up this iridescent, unclassifiable, globe-spanning project: “House of Waters is a band that is bending the very fabric of the musical universe as we know it.”

How do the group themselves define this new offering? “The concept for the album was tuning the collaboration, focusing on the moment, openness, presentness, composition as a connective tool, composition as an isolating tool,” ZT states. “And the fluidity between the two.”

According to House of Waters’ bassist, Moto Fukushima, they strive for openness married to accessibility. “I want to keep the freedom, But if we keep everything free — like certain kinds of abstract music… it can often be a little too far to communicate between us and the audience. We want to have a certain structure and balance.”

1. Folding Cranes
2. Avaloch
3. 705
4. Hang in the Air
5. Tsumamiori
6. Azures
7. Still
8. The Wall
9. Kabuseori

This adventurously impassioned new recording opens on the veritably crystalline, Asian-hued Folding Cranes and then brings us the quietly emotive Avaloch (named after Avaloch Music Institute, a writer’s retreat in New Hampshire that ZT attended in 2022), the sweetly-hued 705 (whose title reflects the literal time that Fukushima finished the composition, ahead of a 9:00pm gig) and then the thoughtfully stirring Hang in the Air.

Along next is the drum-fed backbone that comes within the playful Tsumamiori (titled after the Japanese word for “rabbit ear folds”), which is itself backed by the rhythmically methodical Azures (itself written some seven years back), the expressive Still (dedicated to ZT’s guru, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, who passed away in 2022), the album rounding out on the upbeat and free-flowing The Wall (which features vocalist Priya Darshini, who is married to ZT), coming to a close on the fluttering, sumptuously improvisational Kabuseori.

Within On Becoming, ZT and Fukushima are joined by first-call accompanists: drummer Antonio Sanchez joins them throughout the album, and guitarist Mike Stern and vocalist Priya Darshini join the innovative duo as special guests.

“My job was to create a space for the band to shine and create without secular concerns,” says producer Guy Eckstine, who has worked with Herbie Hancock, Chris Botti and Wayne Shorter, among others.

Well, listening to the astonishing On Becoming, it’s clear that he — and House of Waters — have utterly fulfilled this mission.

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Title - Fo(u)rth
Artist - Anthony Fung

Fourteen years ago, when Canadian drummer Anthony Fung moved to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music, his new teacher—the larger-than-life drum legend, Ralph Peterson—had something to say about a life in music. “Onward and upward,” remembers Fung, “that was his whole philosophy. Forward. Forth.”

Now with three full-length recordings as a leader already under his belt, Fung’s newest studio effort pays honest tribute to his mentor’s mantra. Set for release on September 29th, 2023 it is entitled Fo(u)rth. As a concept, it features his longtime trio—of young stars Luca Alemanno, bass, and Michael Ragonese, piano—welcoming modern saxophone legend Mark Turner into their circle.

As a statement, Fo(u)rth is a freshly thrilling whirl of contemporary writing and improvisation which remains gallantly off-the-cuff. “A snapshot in time,”, remarks the composer, “not overthinking what’s happening.”

1. The Valley
2. A Second Chance
3. A Drummerlude
4. Utopia
5. The Upside Down
6. Fo(u)rth
7. Boo Boo’s Birthday
8. Hero Song

The album opens on the veritably cinematic The Valley and the soaringly melodic A Second Chance and then brings us the first of his solo drum sets, A Drummerlude, the gleaming Utopia, the aching ballad The Upside Down, with the second drum solo, titular Fo(u)rth coming along seamlessly next, the recording rounding out on a wholly realigned rendition of Thelonious Monk’s Boo Boo’s Birthday, closing on the piano trio piece Hero Song (which was written for his late father).

This philosophy of fearless forward-motion is dear to the drummer-leader. For his last record—2022’s What Does It Mean To Be Free?, which Fung produced and mixed himself during the early pandemic days—his desire was to “Capture this moment in time and not to be too precious about the music.”

Fung, thusly, is a prime example of when “new school” playing meets the “old-school” mentality: you get into the studio, you press record, and you hit. As always, you forge ahead. And for your new recording, you call your hero Mark Turner and see if he’s into collaborating.

“Mark moved to LA a couple of years ago—during the pandemic,” remembers Fung. Turner was an early inspiration for the drummer. “People of our generation,” he says, “we grew up listening to a lot of Kurt Rosenwinkel, and hearing Mark on those records.”

And for Fung, that saxophonist “with this wide, intervalic, leaping sound” — a well-beloved idiosyncracy of Turner’s that renders him instantly identifiable —“well, it was always captivating to me.”

“I met him a few times over the years; we were really interested in talking with each other, in playing with each other. So this past December, I asked him: would you be down to record two singles with me? He goes, ‘Yeah.’ And then, a month later, I’d written all this new music—specifically for him. I was in that mode of writing every single day — three to four hours of writing as soon as I’d wake up. All those songs were written around him; and so a week before the recording session, I tell him, ‘Hey: I wrote all this music. You still down?’” And he was. Then it wasn’t just a couple of singles anymore: it was a full record.”

A full record filled with surprise. Over the course of eight tracks—including four originals written for Turner, two drum interludes, one Monk tune, and a piano trio lullaby written for the bandleader’s father — the latest of Anthony Fung’s voice, both compositionally and on his instrument, is beautifully unfurled.

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Title - Live at Blue Llama
Artist - Allan Harris

For those unknowing, renowned vocalist and guitarist Allan Harris is proud to announce the release of his new album, Live at Blue Llama. Recorded live at the state-of-the-art jazz club in January of this year, Harris’ first live album in over thirteen years showcases his current working band at their artistic peak, and displays their deep musical bond and connection, all in front of an attentive live audience.

Joining the soulful crooner is pianist and keyboardist Arcoiris Sandoval, bassist Marty Kenney, drummer Norman Edwards, and saxophonist-flutist Irwin Hall. Live at Blue Llama will be released on July 28th, 2023 via Love Productions Records in collaboration with Live at Blue Llama Records.

1. Sunny
2. Jeannine
3. New Day
4. The Very Thought of You
5. So What
6. Black Coffee Blues
7. Shimmering Deep Blue Sea
8. Spain
9. There She Goes
10. Nature Boy

This curated collection of ten selections was combed from Harristhe Bobby Hebb-classic diverse and genre-spanning repertoire, sourced from over forty years of musical artistry, opens on the playful Bobby Hebb classic Sunny and then brings us the more relaxed Duke Person/Oscar Brown Jr-penned Jeannine, the free-flowing New Day (culled from his latest studio album, Kate’s Soulfood), and then, after admitting he loves coming to the Blue Llama, we get the smoky club atmosphere of the renowned Nat King Cole ballad The Very Thought of You and then comes the skit-skat of the foot-tapping Miles Davis beauty So What (featuring Eddie Jefferson’s vocals).

Along next is his low slung, guitar-fed original Black Coffee Blues and that is in turn seamlessly backed by a brand new composition, the all-embracing warmth of Shimmering Deep Blue Sea, the recording rounding out on his soulful rendition of the always-impressive Chick Corea and Al Jarreau cut Spain, the strident, upbeat original There She Goes, coming to a close on a most enthusiastic new arrangement of Eden Ahbez’s Nature Boy.

Called the “Jazz Vocal King of New York”, Allan Harris has stunned audiences for nearly four decades. Known for his “formidable baritone with … husky edges and deep resonant low notes” (Stephen Holden, the New York Times), Harris has released fourteen albums, including 2021’s love letter to Harlem Kate’s Soulfood, which propelled him to be named one of 8 Artists.

Described by the Miami Herald as possessing a voice with “the warmth of Tony Bennett, the bite and rhythmic sense of Sinatra, and the sly elegance of Nat ‘King’ Cole,” Harris has garnered wide acclaim from critics and legions of fans from all over the world.

His nationally acclaimed smash Cross That River, which tells the unsung story of America’s black cowboys and sheds light on their oft-overlooked contribution in taming the American West has garnered widespread attention; Cross That River was featured in the New York Times, on NPR’s Weekend Edition, and on CBS and NBC.

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Title - Swing of the Pendulum
Artist - John Wojciechowski

For those unaware, tenor saxophonist, woodwinds player, composer, bandleader, and educator John Wojciechowski is pleased to announce the August 18th, 2023 release of his third leader album, Swing of the Pendulum, on AFAR Music.

The Chicago Tribune has called Wojciechowski — known on the jazz scene as “Wojo” — “a commanding soloist, intriguing composer and effective bandleader.” DownBeat has praised his playing for its “expressive mettle.” The Jazz Page proclaimed that he “possesses a big league tone on his axe that is a pleasure to hear. Likewise, his writing is first rate.”

Originally from Detroit, Wojciechowski (woe-jih-HOW-skee) has been a sought-after performer and educator on the Chicago scene for two decades. Featuring first-call accompanists in pianist Xavier Davis, bassist Clark Sommers and drummer Dana Hall, Swing of the Pendulum marks his next evolutionary step.

1. The Leaves Fall to the Ground
2. Swing of the Pendulum
3. Past Reflections
4. Peripheral Vision
5. Bass Intro
6. Minds Eye
7. The Greater the Distance
8. Lexicon

The album opens on the flourishing The Leaves Fall to the Ground and the finger-snapping, titular Swing of the Pendulum (which was written around the time of 2018’s U.S. congressional elections) and then brings us the melodious Past Reflections, the quietly funky Peripheral Vision (which is Wojciechowski’s homage to the late piano visionary Ahmad Jamal), before we get a 90 second, yet dutiful Bass Intro, then comes the rhythmically-hued, drum-led Minds Eye, the album rounding out on the impassioned The Greater the Distance, closing on the re-recorded Lexicon.

The quartet recorded Swing of the Pendulum from soup to nuts in four and a half hours; the brevity of its creation belies the album’s profound significance. Sure, “Lexicon” closes a loop between Wojciechowski of yore and Wojciechowski now, and serves as a reminder of where he’s been.

But the overall vision of Swing of the Pendulum is future-forward, if only for this truth: it’s enthralling to imagine where this blazing tenorman could surge from here.

Official Website

Title - Our Heroes
Artist - Geof Bradfield/Rich Johnson/John Tate/Samuel Jewel

There is a harmonious convergence of exceptional Chicago talent on Our Heroes, the latest collaborative project from AFAR Music, due out on September 8th, 2023.

Featuring saxophonist Geof Bradfield, pianist Richard D. Johnson, bassist John Tate and drummer Samuel Jewell, Our Heroes pays tribute to a selection of adored musical idols through a collection of nine heartfelt and soul-stirring original compositions.

Our Heroes is the latest in a series of themed collaborative projects under the direction of pianist and label founder, Richard D. Johnson. Previous releases featured two instrument-specific supergroups: Altoizm (2021) with alto saxophone wizzes Sharel Cassity, Greg Ward and Rajiv Halim, and Tenor Time (2022) featuring tenor saxophone masters John Wojciechowski, Geof Bradfield, and Scott Burn.

Rounding out the trilogy is Our Heroes, on which the focus shifts to something more conceptual: honoring musical legends that have left a lasting impact on these jazz all-stars, and extending their lineage of mentorship. “Speaking as a musician and educator, I think it’s important for the students of this music to realize that their mentors have heroes too,” Johnson says.

1. Corea (Johnson)
2. Loved Ones (Johnson)
3. Some Other Sunday (Bradfield)
4. Caution (Johnson)
5. High & Low (Johnson)
6. Blues For Stanley Cowell (Bradfield)
7. Aspartame (Tate)
8. Peaceful Giant (Tate)
9. The Cruelest Month (Bradfield)

This magnificently hued, heartfelt and genuinely impassioned new recording opens on the sparkling Corea (written, of course, for the great Chick Corea) and the late night, smokey club ambiance of Loved Ones (inspired by the great Percy Heath), and then we are brought forth the thoughtfully sculpted balladry of the gospel-tinged Some Other Sunday (inspired by Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday”), and then comes the ardent finger-snapper Caution (a nod to Benny Green).

Next up is one of my own personal favorites here, the Pink Panther-esque High & Low (written for saxophone masters Phil Woods, Jackie McLean and Jimmy Heath), and that is itself backed by the upbeat and perky Blues For Stanley Cowell (dedicated to the often overlooked pianist-composer), the upright bass-fed Aspartame (influenced by saxophone giants Wayne Shorter and Joe Henderson), the album rounding out on the lonesome ode found within Peaceful Giant (written for the great Ron Carter), concluding on the spirited The Cruelest Month (which itself borrows its title from T.S. Elliot’s masterpiece “The Waste Land”).

To bring his concept to life, Johnson enlisted three Chicago heavy-weights in Bradfield, Tate and Jewell. Bringing musicians together is Johnson’s specialty, and Our Heroes continues the AFAR Music tradition of combining great musicians in new contexts.

While the ensemble had played together in different configurations prior, the recording of Our Heroes is the first time they’ve all played as a unit. Bradfield and Tate added a cadre of compositions each dedicated to a musical hero to Johnson’s four, and before they knew it, they had a record.

Official Geof Bradfield Facebook Page

Title - Max Gerl
Artist - Max Gerl

For those not in the know, JMI Recordings is proud to announce the release of rising star bassist Max Gerl’s self-titled album. A daring and venturesome solo record featuring the visionary player on both acoustic double and electric bass, this adventurous 11-track collection, which was recorded straight to 2-track tape, will be available as an LP and digitally on July 28th, 2023.

Produced by legendary bassist Stanley Clarke alongside associate producer Steven Mandel (The Roots, Elvis Costello), Max Gerl’s first solo enterprise is an ambitious musical work that stretches the instrument to its limits.

“My aims were to perform musically, to compose FOR the bass, and to demonstrate the breadth of sonic diversity available to this instrument,” Gerl says on his intentions behind his sophomore album. JMI Recordings founder Jake Cohn first became aware of Gerl in 2019, when he was on a recording session for the fiery drummer Mike “Blaque Dynamite” Mitchell.

Cohn was so taken by the young bassist that he extended an invitation to him to record his own project for the label. The session finally came to fruition this past December, yielding spellbinding results.

1. Patience To Find The Start of the Journey’s Path
2. Jimmy’s House Painting
3. For Rinat
4. Contradiction (Improvisation)
5. Allegro (Improvisation)
6. Lento (Improvisation)
7. Language Of The Unheard
8. Choice (Improvisation)
9. Elegy (Improvisation)
10. Let’s Cool One
11. Postlude (Improvisation)

This diligently sculpted work of musical art opens on the gently fervent Patience To Find The Start of the Journey’s Path and the playfully perky Jimmy’s House Painting, and then we are brought forth the aching yearn found within For Rinat (which is dedicated to Russian bassist Rinat Ibragimov, who passed away during COVID), and then comes the dutiful Contradiction (Improvisation) and the bass-fed Allegro (Improvisation).

Next up is the impassioned Lento (Improvisation) and the atmospheric Language Of The Unheard, and that is itself backed by the diligent Choice (Improvisation), the swooning, jazz guitar-hued Elegy (Improvisation), the album rounding out on the assiduous Let’s Cool One, concluding on the stoically fused Postlude (Improvisation).

Max Gerl is produced by bass legend Stanley Clarke, who has served as a musical mentor for Gerl since his move to Los Angeles in 2019. “When JMI offered the opportunity, I called Stanley first, as he is a pioneer of solo jazz double bass.” In the studio, Clarke played a hands-on role contributing to the compositions, as well as the execution.

In the control room, he was especially helpful when it came to mic-ing the instrument, and the overall sound of the project. “Max is one of my favorites of all the young bass players today,” Clarke proclaims. “The most important thing to me was that I wanted to be assured that whatever Max played could be heard clearly on all listening formats. I think people will be surprised at how well Max’s performances come across sonically.”

Official Facebook Page

Title - Ricano
Artist - Jonathan Suazo

Ricano, by Jonathan Suazo, is an Afro-Caribbean experience that presents themes of exploration, fusion, integration, community, and self-acceptance. Furthermore, this project is about sharing and celebrating the coexistence of Afro Puerto Rican and Afro Dominican styles of music by bringing the audience into a cross cultural fusion container of his roots and his many musical influences.

Both of these traditions are beautiful in every way, they contain uplifting chants, captivating lyrics, as well as dance and improvisational elements that are deeply connected to the unique ancestry of each island (Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic).

Ergo, this brand new album represents a transformational chapter in Jonathan’s life. It opens a new door that he is sure will span many incarnations. The process of searching, embracing, loving, celebrating and sharing all of what we are as multidimensional beings is something he can’t recommend enough. For it has given him a huge source of inspiration. Of which he truly hopes these sounds resonate with you also.

1. ¡Somos más que tú! (7:29)
2. Héroes (6:57)
3. Esperanza pa’ mi pueblo (6:43)
4. Verde Luz (8:46)
5. AFRO DOMI (4:37)
6. Don’t Take Kindly (6:11)
7. Ser de Aquí (3:42)
8. Seguimos Luchando (7:36)
9. Dharma (8:30)
10. Amapola (4:38)

This beautifully cultivated, and wholly impassioned new recording opens on the spirited ¡Somos más que tú! and the hearty Héroes, and then we are brought forth the beautiful hipsway found within Esperanza pa’ mi pueblo, and then comes the stirringly fervent Verde Luz and the bedazzling AFRO DOMI.

Next up is the joyously hued Don’t Take Kindly and the elegant piano track Ser de Aquí, and that is itself backed by the atmospherically-charged Seguimos Luchando, the album rounding out on the gently rambunctious, near nine minute Dharma, concluding on the veritably shimmering balladry of Amapola.

Suazo threads each track on the album with enveloping chants, curiosity-piquing lyrics and elements of dance and improvisational elements - all inseparable from the traditions of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Official Facebook Page

Title - Anthology, Volume 1 + Volume 2
Artist - Ken Dunn

Over the past 30 years, singer-songwriter Ken Dunn has performed at hundreds of venues across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Central America, as well as recording 10 albums of original music.

He has shared stages with a number of well-known artists, including Jerry Jeff Walker, David Amram, and Canadian folk icons Valdy, Willie P. Bennett, and Garnet Rogers.

Notable performances include those at Canada’s Festival of Friends, a sold out concert at the historic Santa Ana Theatre in San Miguel, Mexico, the Central California Neil Young tribute show in Paso Robles, California, and Jerry Jeff Walker’s Festival in San Pedro, Belize.

With the intention of promoting peace, social, and environmental justice through music, Ken has also performed a number of benefit concerts, including those for Amnesty International, Biblioteca San Miguel, Playing For Change, L.A. Family Housing, and the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida.

From the classical music sounds of The Good Friday String Quartet to the driving folk rock of Gypsy Starfish, duets with partner Anna Green and Denny Kennedy, and live solo guitar and dulcimer tracks, the first anthology includes several previously unreleased, rare, and live recordings, as well as selections from many of Ken’s studio album releases over the past 25 years.

The second anthology features 18 carefully curated tracks, many of which are from studio and live recordings that were either unreleased or subject to limited distribution.

Anthology, Volume One:
1. If You’re Lost (4:21)
2. Fukushima Nightmares (3:00)
3. Letter To My Son (3:13)
4. Tahlequah (Live) (5:32)
5. Hold On (2:51)
6. Forsaken By These Blues (4:27)
7. Laughter in Your Veins (2:49)
8. Winds of Emotion (Live) (3:51)
9. Heart of Mine (3:47)
10. Old Pouring Rain (5:28)
11. Dance of the Winter Fairies (2:34)
12. Arms of Reason (2:27)
13. Mermaid of Avila (Live) (3:10)
14. Still I Believe (4:08)
15. Hard Yellow Light (3:25)
16. Hills of Strathavon (3:22)
17. One Last Question (5:43)
18. St. James Infirmary (3:56)
19. By A Windowsill (4:06)
20. Don’t Believe (Live) (3:46)

This beautifully ornate, and wholly impassioned new recording opens on the veritably classical in stance If You’re Lost and the organ-hued Fukushima Nightmares and then proceeds to brings us the ornate Letter To My Son, the sculpted Tahlequah (Live), the low slung yearn within Hold On, and then we get the countrified, harmonica-driven Forsaken By These Blues, the acoustic guitar-fed Laughter in Your Veins, the stirring Winds of Emotion (Live), and then come the beautiful, almost cinematic balladry of both Heart of Mine and Old Pouring Rain.

Along next is the delicate fare of Dance of the Winter Fairies and the harmonic Arms of Reason and they are in turn seamlessly backed by the free flowing Mermaid of Avila (Live), the mid-tempo foot tapper Still I Believe, the nibble, harmonica-imbibed Hard Yellow Light, then we get the achingly earnest Hills of Strathavon, the pictorial One Last Question, the quietly playful St. James Infirmary, the collection rounding out on the sombre tones within By A Windowsill, closing on the diligent Don’t Believe (Live).

Anthology, Volume Two:
1. This Mountain (3:27)
2. Cross of Lorraine (5:46)
3. The Rain and the Snow (2:24)
4. Precious Life (4:53)
5. Wings of Light (Live) (2:39)
6. Inside (3:28)
7. Pour Me Home (5:18)
8. Wild Horse (5:11)
9. Time and Space (3:49)
10. Song for Sarajevo (2:40)
11. Shifting Sand (4:42)
12. Some Roads (3:34)
13. Mighty Shore (5:12)
14. Burning Bridges (4:08)
15. Are You There? (Live) (4:02)
16. Saskatoon (Louie’s Song) (3:21)
17. Doomed (5:31)
18. Lover True (3:06)

The second anthology opens on the upbeat This Mountain and the ebullient Cross of Lorraine an they are followed by the beautiful storytelling within The Rain and the Snow, the achingly elegant Precious Life, the gently rambunctious Wings of Light (Live), and then comes the harmonica-driven Inside, the lonesome ode of both Pour Me Home and Wild Horse, and then comes the all-embracing Time and Space.

Up next is the melodic pop-folk skip within Song for Sarajevo and the regimented, drum-backed Shifting Sand and they are followed by the harmoniously-delicate Some Roads, the proud stalwart ambiance of Mighty Shore, the airy magnificence of Burning Bridges, the stirring Are You There? (Live), and then comes the sentimental Saskatoon (Louie’s Song), the second collection rounding out on the free-flowing Doomed, coming to a close on the ornate balladry of Lover True.

“My intention in releasing this record was to share a body of work spanning a period of 30 years that had only been available on a limited basis due to a lack of resources,” Dunn adds.

Official Volume One Purchase Link

Official Volume Two Purchase Link

Official Facebook Page

Title - Introducing Prime Vintage
Artist - Steve Snyder Trio

For those not in the know, having been a side man for over 30 years on recordings for many different groups, this is the first opportunity Steve Snyder had to record his own music.

Some of the pieces begin with a simple, memorable melody as a starting point for improvisation; others respond to influential compositions that have long inspired him.

With respect to organists, Leon Spencer’s playing and repertoire were huge influences on his music. Here on his new album as a trio, Introducing Prime Vintage (October 4th, 2023), his arrangement of “message From The meters” is a tribute to Spencer, whose work in the early ‘70s helped to set the standard in organ playing of that era and deserves mention with other organ greats of history.

“All of the music I have loved and people I’ve played with,” he adds, “my friends, family, teachers, colleagues, students are all part of my music. I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to all of them.”

1. Legacy (5:59)
2. Message From The Meters (6:16)
3. Sharp Left (4:53)
4. So Be (6:36)
5. Fourth Sixth (5:57)
6. Thank You (6:53)
7. Those Two (3:21)
8. So That’s What This Is About (7:26)

The album opens on the veritably shimmering Legacy and the Message From The Meters and they are followed by the poptastic-guitar fervency within Sharp Left, the sculpted frenetic majesties of So Be, the laid back ambiance of Fourth Sixth, then we get given the finger-snapper Thank You, the recording rounding out on the stunning, glistening Those Two, coming to a close on the methodically-charged, rhythmically-hued So That’s What This Is About.

Steve Snyder, organ
Joel Tucker, guitar
Kenny Phelps, drum set

Official Website

Steve Snyder Big Band @ Facebook

Official Purchase Link

Title - Jazzy Italian [Vinyl LP]
Artist - Vanessa Racci

For those unaware, on her ZOHO debut, and second studio recording released in late 2022, New York based singer, Vanessa Racci revisited 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 provided creative horn writing and harmonic and metric alterations to bring even century-old songs into the present.

And as one would fully expect, Vanessa’s sultry vocal style combined a tart, brassy, catch-in-the-throat sound with Italianate ardor, dramatic flair, and swing on the magnificently-hued Jazzy Italian (now out on vinyl LP, August 11th, 2023) - James Gavin.

Side A:
1. Betcha I Getcha
2. Volare
3. At The Jazz Band Ball
4. Moon River
5. Coquette
6. Make Love To Me
7. I’m A Fool To Want You

Revisiting this vibrantly cultivated, wholly heartfelt, and genuinely sentimental-to-the-core vinyl LP, Side A opens on the gentle hipsway bed found within the skit-skatish swinging inflections of Betcha I Getcha and the Latin-imbued harmonies of the quietly frenetic Volare, and then Vanessa brings us the finger-snapping foot-tapper At The Jazz Band Ball, the veritably glistening Moon River and then the playfully flirty Coquette, the Latin-embedded flair of Make Love To Me, and then the moody I’m A Fool To Want You.

Side B:
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

Flipping the vinyl record over, which I still love to do, even after all these years, Side B of this delightful album (originally entitled Italiana Fresca) opens with the upbeat bounce of A Lifetime Or Two and the sumptuously divine A Sunday Kind of Love, and they are in turn backed by the infectiously impassioned Come Back Home With Me, the effortlessly smooth September In The Rain, the album coming to an all-too-soon close on the measured melodies within the drum-led You’re Everything and a mesmerizing, dutifully sculpted rendition of 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.

Official Website

Vanessa Racci @ Official Facebook Page

Vanessa Racci @ Official Instgram Page

Vanessa Racci @ Official YouTube Channel

Title - Identity
Artist - Ross Pederson

For those not in the know, in his decade-plus residence in New York, compelling drummer and producer Ross Pederson has performed regularly around town and toured the world as a sideman ranging from collaborating with Snarky Puppy and supporting Patti Austin at a Kennedy Center New Year’s Eve extravaganza to today serving as the drummer for the Manhattan Transfer, an international gig since 2016.

He is currently working with Grace Kelly and Shayna Steele, but, he says, his broad musical taste has taken him in many directions. Call him a musical chameleon.

“I have roots in different kinds of music that don’t show up in my sideman gigs,” says Pederson, a native of Fargo, North Dakota, and graduate of the University of Texas Jazz Studies. “So, I was looking for an outlet to express myself as an artist.”

With a stellar band of musicians attuned to a different sonic experience informed by jazz, rock, pop and even full-tilt hip-hop, Pederson makes his solo recording debut with the self-fulfilling title, Identity. The indie release—available August 25th, 2023 on most streaming platforms—opens with a splash and ends with a surprise.

“This is me,” Pederson says. “It’s a sensibility of one foot in the jazz world and one foot in pop. I drum, program, and added in layers of synths and percussion during the Identity production.”

1. Anxiety
2. Now
3. In The Moment
4. Contemplation
5. Strange Things
6. Sagittarius
7. Hope Uplift
8. No Pressure
9. Bedlam
10. Somewhere In The World
11. Bigger Than That

Opening on the electronically-hued, melodic and, at times, gently fervent Anxiety, it continues onward with the dutifully uplifting Now, the veritably ethereal In The Moment, and then come both the smooth Contemplation and Strange Things (a sci-fi groove inspired by the Netflix series Stranger Things).

Up next is one of my own personal favorites from this new recording, the electronica-nourished Sagittarius (Pederson’s birth sign, and a track that finds McCaslin and Pollack conversing together), which is itself backed by the spatially ariose Hope Uplift, the entertaining, almost cinematic ambiance of No Pressure, the impassioned Bedlam (a reflection of the 2020 elections), the album rounding out on the short, but sweet jazz-pop of Somewhere In The World, coming to a close on the left-of-center, cultured and harmonically sculpted hip-hop cut Bigger Than That.

Along for the ride are fellow in-demand beat keeper bassist Sam Minaie and two keyboardists who color the show with a full and at times dense spectrum of electronics — David Cook on piano, Wurlitzer, Rhodes, synths and Hammond B-3; and Julian “J3PO” Pollack on piano, Rhodes, B-3, synths. The group solidifies with tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin, who delivers blustery excursions and outstanding harmonies that are signature to his rock-meets jazz intuition.

“Donny is a player who has relentless energy,” Pederson says. “Before and after I moved to New York, I saw him as a key player in my own development. I looked at him as a mentor. He was driven in jazz but also just as heavily by indie rock and electronica. He’s a heavy player who is generous. We became friendly and played some sessions together. Donny was the perfect voice for this music. He stretches here.”

Ross Pedersen @ Twitter

Ross Pedersen @ Facebook

Ross Pedersen @ Instagram

Title - Madness, Money and Music [CD/DVD]
Artist - Sheena Easton

Sheena Easton rocketed to overnight fame in 1980 with the BBC broadcast of ‘The Big Time’ – arguably the first pop reality show – subsequently breaking records with her first two singles ‘Modern Girl’ and ‘9 To 5’ simultaneously hitting the UK Top Ten. Within a year, she had topped the US Hot 100 with the renamed ‘Morning Train (Nine To Five)’, recorded the Bond theme ‘For Your Eyes Only’, released two platinum-selling albums and become an international sensation.

1982 proved another whirlwind year for Sheena – beginning with her ‘Best New Artist’ win at the Grammies, followed by first national US tour, the recording of her first TV special ‘Live At The Palace, Hollywood’ and capped with the release of her third album – the aptly-titled ‘Madness, Money and Music’. Produced by Christopher Neil, the album ranged from the hyperkinetic new wave-infused ‘Machinery’ via the smooth west coast yacht rock of ‘There When I Needed You’ to classic, Streisand-style balladry on the top 20 AC hit ‘I Wouldn’t Beg For Water’.

This Madness, Money and Music: Deluxe Edition (releasing September 22nd, 2023) also features eight bonus tracks – including the exquisite previously- unreleased ballad ‘Woman’ and rare 12” remix of ‘Ice Out In The Rain.’ The bonus disc marks the first official DVD release of Sheena’s Emmy-winning 1982 TV special ‘Act One’ which includes duets with special guests Kenny Rogers and Al Jarreau as well as rare covers of songs popularised by Billy Joel, Irene Cara, Donny Hathaway and more.

CD 1:
1. Weekend In Paris
2. Are You Man Enough
3. I Wouldn’t Beg For Water
4. Machinery
5. Ice Out In The Rain
6. I Don’t Need Your Word
7. Madness, Money and Music
8. There When I Needed You
9. Wind Beneath My Wings
10. You Do It
11. In The Winter
12. Please Don’t Sympathise
13. So We Say Goodbye [B-Side] Bonus Track]
14. Loner [B-Side] [Bonus Track]
15. Some Of Us Will [B-Side] [Bonus Track]
16. Woman [Studio Sessions / Alternate Versions] [Bonus Track]
17. The Lonely Stay Alone [Studio Sessions / Alternate Versions] [Bonus Track]
18. Weekend In Paris (Alternate Version) [Bonus Track]
19. Madness Money and Music (Alternate Version) [Bonus Track]
20. Ice Out In The Rain (12” Remix) [Bonus Track]

On this classic 1982 EMI fan-favorite album – remastered from the original master tapes, and which is also part of Cherry Red’s on-going re-issue campaign of the star’s EMI catalogue in association with RT Industries - it is also one that wisely emphasizes ballads and mid-tempo tracks, over fast-paced rockers.

Including the singles ‘Machinery’, ‘Are You Man Enough’ and ‘I Wouldn’t Beg For Water,’ as well as her original recording of ‘Wind Beneath My Wings,’ Easton can sure deliver these kind of tracks from the heart; although she was also more than capable of rocking out, of course.

But for me personally, her naturally acute tone combined with Christopher Neil’s production style often made for a soaring ballad, and one that caught both the ear and the imagination more than once.

So yes, there are some moodier, yet still impassioned tracks here amongst the midst, perhaps none more so than the intriguing ‘Weekend in Paris’ or the soulful ‘I Wouldn’t Beg for Water,’ but, again, it is the ballads that truly show her divine effectiveness.

Having once been labelled as having the most beautiful eyes in Scotland, this sumptuous album also features her powerful take on ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ (recorded seven years before Bette Midler’s number one version), and amongst her fans, and perhaps even innocent bystanders, ranks as one of her very best.

Act One – TV Special
1. A Song For You
2. Feelings (Excerpt)
3. For Your Eyes Only
4. He’s A Rebel
5. Medley: Last Night At Danceland (with Al Jarreau)/ Boogie Down (Al Jarreau)/ Roof Garden (with Al Jarreau)
6. We’ve Got Tonight (with Kenny Rogers)
7. The Entertainer
8. Out Here On My Own
9. Madness, Money And Music
10. Wind Beneath My Wings
EMI Promotional Videos
1. Machinery
2. Are You Man Enough
3. Ice Out In The Rain

The bonus DVD is just an incredible selection of Sheena wonderment to behold, and is a right royal feast for the mind, body, heart and soul of everyone of her fans!

The first section is the 48 minute Act One – NBC TV Special from 1983, where the phenomenally-voiced entertainer opens on the impassioned A Song For You (although, to be fair, and I know it was the early ’80s, but she is dressed in a clownish purple dress, which tends to be very distracting early on), but as that ends and the director in the booth informs her there was a technical malfunction and to go an relax for ten minutes, Sheena then proceeds to walk around the NBC studios; her own voiceover following her every step.

Playing out like a personal home soap opera video, this is pretty much how it all lays out - musical performances, fake on-set TV interviews and Q&A’s (with herself), etc. An emotionally-charged Feelings (excerpt) is up next and is backed by the fluttering mauve dress performance of the Bond theme For Your Eyes Only, the gentle rock ’n’ roll vibe of the old classic He’s A Rebel, and then we get a most vibrant medley - where Sheena sings and dances on: Last Night At Danceland (with Al Jarreau), Boogie Down (Al Jarreau) and again with Al on Roof Garden.

After another on-set interview, albeit this time she is acting as the host behind the desk, she shares some sweet talk with Kenny Rogers before they then launch into a mighty powerful We’ve Got Tonight, a synth-tastic, pure ’80s vibed The Entertainer, the low slung balladry of Out Here On My Own, the show rounding out on the ferociously-confident Madness, Money And Music, coming to a close on, and with regard her opening purple clown dress, bringing itself full circle, the beautiful Wind Beneath My Wings.

Three EMI Promotional Videos wrap things up nicely here, in the form of the Devo-esque Machinery, the Hollywood Squares-imbibed Are You Man Enough and sultry Ice Out In The Rain.

The 24-page booklet includes rare photography and illuminating new interviews with producer Christopher Neil and songwriters Deborah Allen, Steve Thompson, Peter Vale and more by ex-Attitude editor Adam Mattera.

Official CD/DVD Purchase Link

Title - Screaming Eagles – The Complete Works [6CD]
Artist - Oliver/Dawson Saxon

In the early 2000’s, Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson, both having been founding and long serving members and songwriters of the legendary Saxon and performing on the bands most classic early albums, launched Oliver/Dawson Saxon.

Beginning a journey to not only showcase in a live setting their years as songwriters and key members of the main group, but to record new music and add a new chapter or two to their formidable legacy. The result was a band that toured consistently until 2020, along the way they also found time to release the fantastic Motorbiker studio album and issue several potent and exciting live releases, where these classic compositions took on a new lease of life.

Including the pre-Oliver/Dawson Saxon album Victim You that the pair (along with original Saxon drummer Pete Gill) issued in 1996 under the name Son Of A Bitch (prior to adopting the ODS moniker), it also comes with additional bonus solo selections from both Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson to further illustrate their role as first class songwriters in their own right.

CD 1: Motorbiker (2012)
1. Chemical Romance 2. Motorbiker 3. Whippin’ Boy 4. No Way Out 5. Just Another Suicide 6. Sinternet 7. Ghost 8. Nevada Beach 9. Screaming Eagles 10. World’s Gone Crazy 11. Hell In Helsinki 12. Nursery Crimes Bonus Tracks: 13. Denim And Leather (Live At WinterStorm, Troon) 14. Crusader (Live At WinterStorm, Troon).

An explosion of heavy metal, melodic guitar riffs and thunderously sung songs from start to finish, Motorbiker is a grandstanding musical experience of the highest order.

A metal sound verging on contemporary, everything you hope to expect to get from this album explodes at you from the off on the very first track Chemical Romance and never backs down.

Tracks that follow are such quality as the foot to the floor title track (albeit a Judas Priest-esque cut), the AOR of Ghost, the drum-led thumper Hell In Helsinki and others such as the double bass and drum attack within Whippin’ Boy, the pulsating guitar moves of World’s Gone Crazy and even the rocking metal sound of the ballad Just Another Suicide (itself complete with a sax backdrop!).

Now added are two live cuts in the form of a couple of classic Saxon tracks, both recorded at Winterstorm 2018 in Troon, Scotland, the always brilliant to hear Denim And Leather and their monster opus Crusader.

CD 2: Relanded - Live (2000)
1. Power And The Glory 2. Rock N Roll Gypsy 3. Strong Arm Of The Law 4. And The Bands Played On 5. Past The Point 6. Dallas 1pm / 7. Rockin’ Again 8. 747 Strangers In The Night / 9. The Eagle Has Landed 10. Motorcycle Man / 11. Wheels Of Steel Bonus Tracks: 12. One Sour Krout 13. World’s Gone Crazy 14. Nursery Crimes.

The first of three live recordings in this 6 CD set is Relanded from 2000 and which is, as one would fully expect, chock full of everything Saxon put out, the nostalgic trip in full effect here, my friends.

Inclusive of a shed load of the classics, such as Power And The Glory, Strong Arm Of The Law, Rock N Roll Gypsy, the gripping Dallas 1pm, the propellant 747 Strangers In The Night, a magnificently-hued The Eagle Has Landed, Motorcycle Man and, of course, the hit makers And The Bands Played On and Wheels Of Steel.

CD 3: It’s Alive (2003)
1. Power And The Glory 2. Rock N Roll Gypsy 3. Strong Arm Of The Law 4. Past The Point 5. Dallas 1pm 6. 747 (Strangers In The Night) 7. The Eagle Has Landed 8. Bitch Of A Place To Be 9. One More For The Road 10. Motorcycle Man 11. Medley: Wheels Of Steel/Devil Rides Out 12. Strong Arm Of The Law.

The second of the live trilogy is from 2003 and as much as it ropes together all the usual musical suspects, as expected, it still manages to bring forth an urgency that is desperately found so lacking in live bands today.

Featuring the duo alongside Nigel Durham on drums, Hayden Conway on guitar along with ex-Shy/Madam X vocalist John ‘Wardi’ Ward, alongside the expected we also get another Saxon classic in the form of the rocking Son Of A Bitch and the KISS-esque Past The Point.

CD 4: Blood & Thunder Live (2014)
1. Schwermetal Fur Immer 2. Past The Point 3. Everybody Up 4. Crusader 5. Whippin’ Boy 6. Redline 7. Motorcycle Man 8. Denim And Leather 9. Dallas 1pm 10. Fetzen Fliegen V 11. Princess Of The Night 12. Rock N Roll Gypsy 13. Strong Arm Of The Law 14. And The Bands Played On.

The third of the live concerts is Blood & Thunder, which was recorded in Germany in 2013 and finds Ward replaced by Seventh Son’s Brian Shaughnessy and also features Paul Oliver on drums. Again, the musical usual suspects are on offer here, but now we get to hear some rarer tracks in the form of a blistering Crusader, Power & The Glory‘s Redline, and the best of the bunch for me, Denim & Leather‘s gripping Princess Of The Night.

CD 5: Son Of A Bitch - Victim You (Studio Album) (1995)
1.Bitch Of A Place To Be 2. Drivin’ Sideways 3. Past The Point 4. No-ones Gettin’ Over 5. Treacherous Times 6. Love Your Misery 7. I Still Care 8. Old School 9. More For Me 10. Evil Sweet Evil 11. Victim You 12. Running Away (From You) Bonus Tracks: 13. 747 Strangers In The Night (Live At Winter Storm, Troon) 14. Wheels Of Steel (Live At Winter Storm, Troon) 15. Devil Rides Out (Live At WinterStorm, Troon).

Along next is a flashback to 1995 when the only album released by the Son Of A Bitch configuration (Oliver/Dawson/Gill), Victim You was presented. Also featuring Conway and Thunderhead’s Ted Bullet on vocals, the album has a distinct leaning toward Dio and even Ozzy, at times, but is nonetheless a scorchingly magnificent rock-metal album.

Stand out tracks for me are Drivin’ Sideways, the rocker Past The Point and both the brilliant Evil Sweet Evil and even the ferocious titular Victim You.

CD 6: Solo Selections
1. She 2. Step Inside Love 3. All We Dream Of 4. 2Late 5. Answer To My Prayer 6. Wings At Dawn 7. Born To Rock And Roll 8. End Of An Era 9. Goodbye To Yesterday 10. Never Surrender 11. Ride Like The Wind 12. Wamita 13. Golden Shred Jam.

The sixth and final disc is the aptly-titled Solo Selections and includes tracks from Dawson’s 2002 Pandemonium Circus and Oliver’s End Of An Era 2001 solo releases. Dawson opens the disc with six, the immediate stand out being his weirdly excellent cover of Cilla Black’s Step In Side Love (which was actually written by Lennon/McCartney), another being the pop-rock-metal of Answer My Prayer.

Then comes seven from Oliver, the highlights being the excellent glam ballad vibe of Goodbye To Yesterday, the Saxon belters Never Surrender and Ride Like The Wind, and even one of the two final instrumentals, Golden Shred Jam is a soaring success.

Amazon 6CD Purchase Link

Title - It’s Okay Honey
Artist - Julian Talamantez Brolaski

California-based country/Americana singer-songwriter Julian Talamantez Brolaski (they/them) is set to release their album, It’s Okay Honey, independently on August 4th, 2023.

Slow, melancholy waltzes and rousing, upbeat numbers lend the album a variety of moods, and the album’s 12 songs combine the language of classic country with lyrical innovation and pacing that reflect Brolaski’s point of view as a transgender poet of mixed Mescalero and Lipan Apache, Latinx, and settler heritages.

Brolaski makes traditional, inventive Americana music, adding poetic lyricism to melodies inspired by some of country and western music’s original recording stars and most beloved sounds. Classical piano lessons, the poetry and queer country music scenes on both coasts, and years spent studying languages gave Brolaski the foundation to create “sweet, cutting, and melancholy” (Country Queer) music with various bands and now as a solo artist.

1. Racin the Train
2. Sittin in the Space
3. Gourd Flower
4. No More Lonesome Heartache
5. Just Like a Man
6. Goin to Nashville
7. Covid-19 Blues
8. Buddy
9. It’s Okay Honey
10. Joyin in Joy
11. Goodbye Brother
12. When I Go with You

The album opens on the perfectly jaunty Racin the Train and the melodic dancefloor swirl of Sittin in the Space, and then seamlessly follows those up with the lonesome ode Gourd Flower, the countrified honky-tonk of the album’s first single, No More Lonesome Heartache (called “both a love song and a lust song” by Brolaski), and both the embracing Just Like a Man and the low slung two-step of Goin to Nashville.

Along next is the blues-hued balladry of Covid-19 Blues (a song built around the Blues tradition of songs about illness) and the upbeat and playful Buddy and they are in turn backed by the reassuring, titular It’s Okay Honey (a song that’s built to soothe in times of difficulty), the gently rambunctious Joyin in Joy, the album rounding out on the fervent rhythms within Goodbye Brother, closing on the ornately sculpted ballad When I Go with You.

“They’re meant to be songs of solace,” says Brolaski of the tracks on the new album. “They represent a range of emotional experience, but ultimately the goal is to be healing: to heal myself, and to solace listeners. I’m interested in the way that language and song function as medicine. My songs are infused with the enthusiasm of addressing a person you’re newly in love with and intending to elicit a response, make them feel pleasure, and heal their hurts.”

It’s Okay Honey was recorded in 2022 in Philadelphia, during Brolaski’s yearlong Pew Foundation fellowship-in-residence. While in Philly, they connected with a talented group of local musicians: renowned lap steel player Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner (also the album’s co-producer), bassist Michael Frank, harmonica player and harmony vocalist Boaz Kim, composer and electric guitarist David Laganella, and drummer Mark Schreiber.

For their part, Brolaski found inspiration for their guitarwork in the picking style of Mother Maybelle Carter of the Carter Family; they also emulate the heartbroken yodeling of another musical muse, Hank Williams Sr., particularly on the aforementioned “Covid-19 Blues.”

Julian Talamantez Brolaski - It’s Okay Honey [Official Music Video]

Official Spotify Purchase Link

Julian Talamantez Brolaski @ YouTube

Julian Talamantez Brolaski @ Instagram

Title - Memorial
Artist - SOEN

For those not in the know, SOEN have announced the release of their new album Memorial, which will be coming out September 1st, 2023 via Silver Lining Music.

Having already released the hard-hitting first single Unbreakable, the new album has a potent drive and sees the band channel the ills of current society with a crisp, riff heavy ferocity but at the same time still showcasing SOEN’s unique blend of progression, aggression, and beauty.

Memorial is drenched in melody with face-crushing guitars and rhythms from start to finish. Album opener Sincere starts off with relentless propulsion, whilst the sheer power of the title track is enriched with a solid groove, underlying the weighty tones and evocative vocals of Joel Ekelöf.

Finishing with the beautiful, tragic, Pink Floyd-esque ballad Vitals, Memorial is arguably the band finding their best stride yet. SOEN have been building up to this moment for years and now they’re here with Memorial, which is an inspiring modern hard rock classic.

SOEN are completed by Lars Enok Åhlund (Keyboards and Guitar), Oleksii ‘Zlatoyar’ Kobel (Bass) and Cody Ford (Lead Guitar) and are set to play at this year’s Download Festival (GB) on Sunday 11th June, before embarking on the Memorial 2023 tour in Europe this September.

1. Sincere
2. Unbreakable
3. Violence
4. Fortress
5. Hollowed (feat. Elisa)
6. Memorial
7. Incendiary
8. Tragedian
9. Icon
10. Vitals

The album opens on the thunderingly melodic Sincere and the prog metal-rock of Unbreakable and seamlessly follows those up with the veritably operatic Violence, the forthright metal-pop of Fortress and then we get the cultured balladry of Hollowed (featuring Elisa).

Along next is the fist clenched, impassioned, titular Memorial and the rhythmic Incendiary, and they are in turn backed by the aching yearn within the beautiful mid-tempo ballad Tragedian, the throaty roar of Icon, the album closing on the wistful ballad Vitals.

SOEN - Memorial (Official Video)

SOEN - Unbreakable (Official Video)

SOEN @ Facebook

SOEN @ Twitter

SOEN @ Instagram

Title - 30 - Live at Dizzy’s Club
Artist - The DIVA Jazz Orchestra

For those unaware, The DIVA Jazz Orchestra are a hard-charging, powerful ensemble, immersed in the history of their craft, and passionately swinging the music forward.

That’s DIVA – an ensemble of fifteen versatile, multi‑generational musicians who expertly balance enthusiastic energy with sophisticated subtlety, virtuosity, and imagination.

Headed by swinging drummer Sherrie Maride, DIVA exudes the excitement and force found in the tradition of historic big bands, with an eye towards originality and creativity. With New York as their home base, DIVA performs all over the world, playing original contemporary and mainstream big band jazz composed and arranged to fit their distinct ensemble sound and highlight their soloists’ unique personalities and styles.

Their 30th anniversary is celebrated on their latest endeavor, The DIVA Jazz Orchestra 30, which features 10 lives tracks recorded at Dizzy’s Club in New York City.

1. Something’s Coming
2. In a Mellow Tone
3. Here’s to Life
4. I’m Gonna Go Fishin’
5. Every Day I Have the Blues
6. I Feel Pretty
7. Three Sisters and a Cousin
8. A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald
9. Inka Dinka Doo
10. Airmail Special

The album opens on the euphonious Something’s Coming and the aptly-named In a Mellow Mood and then continues onward with the sumptuous, gentle finger-snapper Here’s to Life, the I’m Gonna Go Fishin’ (which is escorted into being by Leslie Havens’ bass trombone), and then we get Sherrie Maride’s introduced swinger Every Day I Have the Blues (with vocals from Sue Giles).

Along next is the free-wheeling jazz-blues of I Feel Pretty and the faster paced, foot-tapping beauty Three Sisters and a Cousin (which features some magical saxophone work), and they are in turn backed by a vibrantly impassioned A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald (The Object of my Affection, How High the Moon, Stompin’ at the Savoy/Undecided, A Tisket, A Taskket and Oh, Lady Be Good), the recording rounding out on the playful Inka Dinka Doo, closing on the fervently-charged Airmail Special.

Official Apple Digital Purchase Link

The Diva Jazz Orchestra @ YouTube

The Diva Jazz Orchestra @ Facebook

The Diva Jazz Orchestra @ Instagram

Title - Earth Rebirth
Artist - Colette Michaan

A first generation American, Native New Yorker of Egyptian-Syrian heritage, Colette Michaan is a NYC based flutist who has been influenced, inspired and musically informed by music traditions of North and West Africa, Cuba, Southeast Asia, and the Americas.

During the late 70’s, Colette worked at the Village Vanguard, which was a vital time for jazz in New York. “My three and a half years at the Vanguard were a wonderful time for me; working there was a great musical education, as night after night I heard music that inspired me. It was later, in the mid 80’s that I fell in love with the Cuban traditions of Son and Charanga”.

Since the late 1970’s, Colette has been performing internationally with her own band, as well as with other artists and has produced four albums as a bandleader. In addition, Colette has recorded with Harry Whitaker on the album “One Who Sees All Things” (2008), with Kaissa on “Looking There” (2005), and with Richard Bona on “Scenes From My Life” (1999).

Her other releases include First Cause (2004), Querencia (2010), Incarnate Encarna (2014), Heaven and Earth (Cielo Y Tierra) (2017) and her brand new album is the just-released Earth Rebirth.

1. Earth Rebirth (6:36)
2. Campiña (4:31)
3. El Raton (6:05)
4. Ni Contigo Ni Sin Ti (6:52)
5. Reincarnation of a Lovebird (8:26)
6. Throw It Away (5:16)

Music is far reaching, and its influence transcends national boundaries, politics and governments. Beyond all borders, music brings people together and thus Colette’s mantra flows freely throughout this album from the off, which is the glistening, shimmeringly vibrant, titular Earth Rebirth, the gently fervent, atmospherically-charged old Cuban classic, Campiña and the low slung rhythms found within El Raton.

In these polarized times of extreme unrest, upheaval and possibility for real change, it is essential to focus on what unites us. Love is the source, center and destiny of our experiences. Whatever our struggles in the present moment are, they can’t truly touch the larger eternal beings that we are. Which are yet another set of beloved truths that Colette weaves seamlessly within the lyrics of her music and so next we get the sumptuous hipsway of Ni Contigo Ni Sin Ti, the dancefloor swirl of Charlie Mingus’ Reincarnation of a Lovebird, the recording rounding out on her effervescent rendition of the Abbey Lincoln track, Throw It Away.

Colette Michaan @ Facebook

Title - Neon
Artist - Arina Fujiwara

Arina Fujiwara is an up-and-coming pianist and arranger-composer who recently graduated from the Manhattan School of Music.

Her first recording, a six-song EP entitled Neon (out October 2nd, 2023) is ambitious and inventive in equal measures. Her piano is teamed with vibraphonist Vid Jamnik, guitarist Brand Kang, bassist Dan Finn, drummer Mikkel Blaesild Vuust, and a string quartet for four originals and fresh renditions of a Japanese children’s song and the ragtime classic Maple Leaf Rag.

With the release of Neon, Arina has taken her first giant step forward as a significant jazz artist, displaying not only quite a bit of potential, but a strikingly original voice.

1. Yuki Ga Furu (5:28)
2. Hotaru Koi (4:47)
3. Neon (6:31)
4. Komorebi (4:32)
5. Vol. 1 (4:58)
6. Maple Leaf Rag (3:09)

This rewarding set opens on the aching, at first, playful and airy the next jazz waltz Yuki Ga Furu and the ornately sculpted, yet wildly rhythmic, traditional Hotaru Koi and then brings us the stirringly elegant Neon, the late night ambiance of the romantic Komorebi, the recording rounding out on the upbeat and free flowing Vol. 1, closing on a severely modernized rendition of the aforementioned, early ragtime musical composition for piano (composed by Scott Joplin), the joyously captivating Maple Leaf Rag.

Arina Fujiwara @ YouTube

Arina Fujiwara @ Instagram

Title - Up and Gone
Artist - The Moore-McColl Jazz Society

For those unaware, based out of Atlanta, Georgia, The Moore-McColl Jazz Society is Beth Moore (Vocals/Piano/Rhodes/Organ) and Chance McColl (Electric Guitar, Vocals).

The Moore-McColl Jazz Society delivers a fresh take on 1970’s jazz organ/guitar combos. Think: What if Groove Holmes dueted with Boogaloo Joe Jones with drums, upright bass, and a 3-part horn section?!

The dynamic duo, who united their creative energies to compose and produce an unparalleled jazz sound, masterfully blends blues and jazz to create a genre-blurring voyage that pays homage to the past while embracing a distinctively 21st-cenetury flair.

The Moore-McColl Jazz Society made a mark with Electric Fantastic, carving out an hour-long narrative of friendship, musicianship, and homage to classic jazz and blues, amplified by some of Atalanta’s finest talent.

But their journey didn’t stop there, though, for after a 2021 Christmas EP, they are now following those up with their brand new sophomore album Up and Gone, a full-length album soaked in ’70s funk influences and narrated by the collaborative voice of McColl and Moore.

1. What’s Still Happening
2. Somebody’s Calling
3. Up and Gone
4. Sunlit Flowers (Against the Sky)
5. Back to Atlanta
6. A Song for Vince
7. Sojourn in A Minor
8. No Apology

Swaying onto the scene with the smoothness of an after-hours jam, The Moore-McColl Jazz Society open this album with the late night mood caught on What’s Still Happening and the low slung blues of Somebody’s Calling and back those up with the free flowing, titular Up and Gone and the ornately sculpted balladry of Sunlit Flowers (Against the Sky).

Building on the foundations of their debut album, along next is the all-embracing, heartfelt Back to Atlanta, which is itself followed by the impassioned artistry on show within A Song for Vince, rounding out on the abundantly sumptuous, smoothly funky Sojourn in A Minor, coming to a close on the bluesy guitar work and rousing vocals of No Apology.

The Moore-McColl Jazz Society @ Facebook

Title - Elysian Eclipse
Artist - Vincent Lyn

Forever winning in Chinese is Young Sheng, Vincent Lyn’s Chinese name. He was born to a Chinese father and a British mother. His English name is sir Vincent Raymond Percival Lyn. Vincent is the kind of individual whom you instinctively know when you meet him that he is someone worth finding out more about and the more you peel away layers of the onion, the more impressed you will be.

He was born in Aden, Yemen, his father, an aircraft engineer, was stationed there with the British Royal Air Force (RAF). At two years old, Vincent and his family moved to Ethiopia, Khartoum (Sudan), Algera, Netherlands, then England. He immigrated to the United States at age 16 and then to Hong Kong after his university studies.

His brand new recording is Elysian Eclipse, a musical odyssey of the global experience. In a world where borders fade and connections grow stronger, music serves as a powerful medium to capture the diverse tapestry at our global experience.

Elysian Eclipse is a visionary musical album that takes listeners on a captivating journey, transcending cultural boundaries and embracing the shared human experience. Exploring the themes, musical elements. and emotions evoked by these transformative compositions.

1. Emerald Vibration (feat. Yoed Nir)
2. Emanate Aurora
3. Echoes of Odyssey (feat. Yoed Nir)
4. Empyrean Redemption (feat. Yoed Nir)
5. Euphoric Bloom
6. Ephemeral Oasis
7. Exalt to Exosphere (feat. Yoed Nir)
8. Escalation Red White and Blue (feat. Yoed Nir)

With the album being described as an ethereal and introspective musical album that seeks to explore the beauty, struggles, and interconnectedness of out global community, the recording opens on the veritably glistening Emerald Vibration, the stoically ethereal Emanate Aurora, and then we get the atmospherically impassioned Echoes of Odyssey and the lushly sculpted Empyrean Redemption (all, save for Emanate Aurora, featuring string arranger and cello extraordinaire, Yoed Nir).

On an album structured as a musical odyssey, taking listeners on a voyage through different landscapes and emotions, along next is the ornate, yet rousing Euphoric Bloom, which is itself followed by the airy, yet wholly moving Ephemeral Oasis, the last two tracks both featuring Nir - the sternly emotive Exalt to Exosphere and the soaring, guitar-fed Escalation Red White and Blue.

Official Apple Digital Purchase Link

Exalt to Exosphere (feat. Yoed Nir) [Official Video]

Empyrean Redemption (feat. Yoed Nir) [Official Video]

Emerald Vibration (feat. Yoed Nir) [Official Video]

Title - Artful Dodgers
Artist - Three Story Sandbox

Artful Dodgers is the result of what happens when “critical mass” meets opportunity — in this case, the chance to add a critical component at just the right moment to an already potent entity.

Three Story Sandbox, with guest artist, violinist Mark Feldman, reprises the inventive and delightfully musical free improvisation heard on its debut release Three Story Sandbox (Tall Grass Records, 2016). That project followed the highly-acclaimed Snakeheads & Ladybugs (2014), a brilliant album of improvised duets by two master jazz musicians, drummer Jack Mouse and multi-instrumentalist Scott Robinson. Equally adept at all styles of the jazz genre, their musical rapport is vividly captured.

For Three Story Sandbox, Jack and Scott added vocalist Janice Borla, describing her as having the musical knowledge, technique and comprehension of abstract concepts — traits possessed by the great master instrumental improvisers. The result was an album hailed as captivating, powerful, compelling, visceral and inspired, and a DownBeat Magazine Editor’s Pick.

The current release Artful Dodgers expands the trio to include guest artist Mark Feldman. A violin virtuoso, Feldman is known for his adventurous, genre-bending work in the worlds of jazz, improvised music and 20th century contemporary music. The addition of Feldman’s violin here exponentially expands the range of sonic possibilities and interactions.

1. Twin Rivers (3:25)
2. Kalahari Crossing (4:33)
3. Slip ’n’ Slide (3:39)
4. Brush Dance (2:39)
5. Kamakura (5:32)
6. Second Line Strut (4:08)
7. Tears for Ukraine (7:41)
8. Outback Inn (5:13)
9. Birth of a Rainbow (2:04)
10. Artful Dodgers (2:42)
11. Slapshot (2:24)
12. The Other Side of the Moon (2:49)
13. Fiddle Sticks (4:01)

With the album’s title referring to the nickname of a young pickpocket in Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist, a scamp and rascal known for his playful skill in deftly evading obstacles, inconveniences and other challenges, skills which also come into play in free improvisation, the album opens up with the playfully perky Twin Rivers and the atmospheric Kalahari Crossing (which features, and not for the only time, Janice Borla skating) and then we get the haunting Slip ’n’ Slide, the warmly embracing Brush Dance, and both the aching yearn found within Kamakura and the rhythmic Second Line Strut.

With the overarching premise of the album to make improvised music that sounds written – to create a spontaneous, conversational, yet organized interplay of sounds - the album continues onward with the acutely shimmering Tears for Ukraine and the quietly blithe Outback Inn, and they are in turn followed by the articulately mischievous Birth of a Rainbow, the low slung, titular Artful Dodgers, the album rounding out on the drum-fed Slapshot, the filmy gossamer of The Other Side of the Moon, closing on the generously joyful Fiddle Sticks.

Interplay is on radiant display throughout this album. The tracks offer a variety of settings — duets, trios, quartets — which comprise a broad array of textures and a full emotional palette, from exuberant joy to beguiling aural imageries. Jack’s total percussion mastery demonstrates his skills not only as an intuitive compositional soloist but also a sensitive, conversational accompanist.

Scott’s impeccable abilities and limitless creative imagination shine on tenor and slide saxophones, bamboo flute and East Indian gobichand. Janice freely exploits the full range of her vocal capabilities as if another instrumentalist, with consummate artistry. Mark’s technical brilliance on violin yields a gorgeous sound and a passionate, often fiery playing style.

When so much of what is called “free Jazz” is unstructured, chaotic, discordant and often unaccessible, the music on Artful Dodgers is in fact uniquely accessible. Each of its thirteen pieces is crafted to convey a mood, ambience and compelling atmosphere that makes each one a story unto itself. Despite the total spontaneity and freedom involved in making this music, it is powerfully structured, totally cohesive, richly musical, vividly virtuosic and absolutely enjoyable on every level. Another masterful recording by Three Story Sandbox.

Musicians & Instruments:
Janice Borla - voice; Scott Robinson – tenor saxophone, slide saxophone, bamboo flute, gobichand; Jack Mouse - drum set, Chinese opera gong, Japanese hyoshigi, Sabian Zodiac gong, Sabian thunder sheet, Sabian tam-tam, Japanese densho bell, Slaperoo slapstick; Guest Artist Mark Feldman – violin.

Official Purchase Link

Title - Unidad
Artist - Aguanko

Conga player, bandleader, and composer Alberto Nacif and the superlative musicians who make up the sizzling Latin Jazz septet Aguanko have a new, all original Latin Jazz recording titled Unidad.

Their 5th release as a band, self-produced, and released April 2023, it is comprised of 11 creatively fresh Cuban Jazz inspired pieces. The recording features the core group of Aguanko musicians from the incredibly rich Detroit area Jazz scene performing this music.

Their previous release, “Pattern Recognition” (released in July 2018) was well received by audiences and critics, and remained in the Jazzweek charts from September 10, 2018 to March 4, 2019 (24 weeks!), was in the top 20 for four weeks, and peaked at #16. It was voted into the second round of Grammy voting, and in the top 58 for the 61st Annual Grammy Awards, but sadly did not receive a nomination.

1. Kintsugi (Mambo) (3:59)
2. Discurso (Cha Cha Cha) (4:14)
3. Dualidad (6/8) (5:06)
4. Dedication (Bolero) (5:19)
5. Un Poco Cubop (Mambo) (3:53)
6. Todo Es Todo (Rumba/Mambo) (3:45)
7. Viaje Con El Viento (Afro/ChaCha6/8) (4:24)
8. Un Ensueño (Bolero) (4:01)
9. Interception (Mambo) (3:37)
10. Adios Amigo (Danzón/Cha Cha Cha) (3:30)
11. Espacio Verde(Comparsa/Mambo) (3:51)

The album opens on the jaunty rhythms fond within Kintsugi (Mambo) and the smoothly textured Discurso (Cha Cha Cha) and they are followed by the playfully sultry Dualidad (6/8), the low slung balladry of Dedication (Bolero) and then comes the upbeat and joyous Un Poco Cubop (Mambo).

Along next is the fervently sculpted Todo Es Todo (Rumba/Mambo) and the free flowing Viaje Con El Viento (Afro/ChaCha6/8) and they are in turn followed by the airy ambiance found within Un Ensueño (Bolero), the dashing Interception (Mambo), the album rounding out on the mid-tempo, dancefloor swirl of Adios Amigo (Danzón/Cha Cha Cha), coming to a close on the all-embracing, impassioned Espacio Verde(Comparsa/Mambo).

These tasteful musicians’ interpretation of original music is evocative and sensuous and true to its Cuban roots. Aguanko has received local, national, and international attention, and their live concerts have dazzled capacity crowds at the multiple venues where they have performed. They are also able to offer educational lecture-demonstrations and instructional seminars.

Players & Instruments:
Alberto Nacif: congas; Rick Roe: piano; Jose Espinosa: timbales, percussion; Russ Miller: saxophone, flute; Charlie Miller: trumpet, flugelhorn; Christopher Smith: trombone; Patrick Prouty: bass (1, 2, 5, 7-11) and Kurt Krahnke: bass (3, 4, 6).

Official Purchase Link

Title - Knights of the Round Table
Artist - Madre Vaca

Once upon a time, there was a land invaded by evil: Innocent damsels captured by giants, dragons terrorizing the countryside, dark sorcerers corrupting the minds of noble knights, and enemies of the king plotting their tyranny from the shadows.

The king could think of but one way to right the wrongs and bring justice back to his kingdom. He formed an order of knights, the likes of which had never been seen before. He called forth the greatest, bravest, wisest, strongest, and boldest knights from every corner of the kingdom to fight in the king’s name, and to bring peace back to the land.

These are the Knights of the Round Table.

Madre Vaca is a collective of musicians making adventurous improvisational and constructed music and here on Knights of the Roundtable (due out November 21st, 2023), composer-drummer Benjamin Shorstein utilizes eleven musicians from the Madre Vaca collective to perform a ten-part jazz suite portraying characters and action from the tales.

Among the featured musicians are pianist Jonah Pierre, guitarist Jarret Carter, bassist Thomas Milovac, saxophinist Juan Rolan, trumpeter Steve Strawley and trombonist Lance Reed. Also, Shortstein’s sister Rebecca Shorstein adds her beautiful singing voice to select pieces.

1. The Lady of the Lake (6:02)
2. Galahad (5:28)
3. Excalibur (4:19)
4. The Knights of the Round Table (9:27)
5. Camelot (6:34)
6. The Holy Grail (6:14)
7. Merlin (5:34)
8. King Arthur (5:01)
9. Guinevere (6:39)
10. Lancelot (7:35)

The recording opens on the glistening The Lady of the Lake and the sterner, tale-telling Galahad and they are followed by the eclectic Excalibur, the joyously triumphant, near ten minute The Knights of the Round Table, and then comes the hauntingly ethereal Camelot.

Along next is the flourishing The Holy Grail and the sumptuous Merlin and they are in turn backed by the strident King Arthur, the album rounding out on the ornate Guinevere, coming to a close on the scintillating Lancelot.

Official Purchase Link

Title - Land of Enchantment
Artist - Todd Mosby

A two time recipient of the ZMR Broadcasters Award in 2020 and 2019 and winner of the 2021 USA Songwriter competition, instrumental category, Todd Mosby is still very much one of a select batch of people to look out for within the music business.

Encompassing elements from jazz, raag, folk, bluegrass and jazz, Mosby has created his own musical syntax, a distinct style which is unique to Mosby’s sound and sense of composition.

“Wherever one goes in the Southwest, one encounters magic, strength, and beauty,” Ansel Adams wrote. Inspired by the same landscape – and Georgia O’Keeffe‘s art – each of the pieces on Todd Mosby’s upcoming album have similar characteristics. Land of Enchantment has magic enough for several releases. Stylish, playful and cool, the album underlines the deep connection between geography, art and culture.

From jazz, jazz fusion and samba to Bossa-nova and folk-rock, the album’s genre defying style makes sure that there is something here for everyone. I enjoy how the sound seems to represent the landscape, from the baking A Place in the Sun to the reflective By The Time I Get To Phoenix. There is a lot to discover in-between with almost limitless replay value.

1. Place in the Sun (5:55)
2. Moonrise Samba (4:56)
3. Native Dancer (5:01)
4. A Distant Light (4:45)
5. Georgia’s World (4:47)
6. Norwegian Wood (3:48)
7. Emerald Springs (3:02)
8. By the Time I Get to Phoenix (4:37)

This luxuriously rewarding set opens on the free flowing Place in the Sun and then brings us the low slung Moonrise Samba, the beautiful, Eastern-hued Native Dancer, before we then get brought the languishing A Distant Light.

Along next is the veritably shimmering Georgia’s World and another Eastern-flavored track, his dutiful rendition of The Beatles’ Norwegian Wood, with the album rounding out on the acoustic guitar-led Emerald Springs, coming to an all-too-soon close on the sumptuously embracing By the Time I Get to Phoenix.

ARTISTS: TODD MOSBY - acoustic, electric, imrat guitars, composer, arranger; TOM SCOTT - Saxophone/Aerophone; VINNIE COLAIUTA - Drums; RHONDA SMITH - Bass; CHARLIE BISHARAT - violin; DAPO TORIMIRO - Piano / Keys; LAURA VALL - Vocalist; TIMOTHY BAILEY - Bass; ARIANNA WOODS - Cello; DAVID LEACH - Percussion and RANYA IBIQAL - Cello.

Official Purchase Link

Title - Bowmanville
Artist - Bowmanville

For those unaware, Bowmanville strives to bring the hip sensibilities of Hot Club Jazz from 1930s Paris mingled with the influences born of Chicago’s global crossroads to a wider audience.

Creating a simmering synergy of vibrant bouncing sound that crackles with electric energy, Bowmanville leaves listeners always hungry for more.

The self-titled new album, Bowmanville features plenty of that wondrous variety with close interplay between violin and harmonica, passionate vocals by Graham Nelson, hot solos, and colorful ensembles. The group’s originals (a swinging Annie & Me, the minor blues Metal Bird, Don’t Force It, the Djangoish Boiano Campobasso, a brief Helen’s Theme, and the rollicking blues Weapons Of Mass Destruction) are full of excitement.

In addition, Bowmanville performs their own fresh takes on Georgia, Fly me To The Moon, St. James Infirmary, a very exotic rendition of Caravan, and a surprising version of La Vie En Rose that swings hard.

1. Annie & Me (3:55)
2. Metal Bird (3:24)
3. Georgia (6:38)
4. Don’t Force It (3:31)
5. Boiano Campobasso (5:39)
6. Fly Me To The Moon (4:33)
7. Helen’s Theme (1:38)
8. Saint James Infirmary (5:18)
9. Caravan (6:35)
10. La Vie En Rosè (3:48)
11. Weapons of Mass Distraction (3:33)

The album opens on the heartwarming melodies of Annie & Me and the stridently fervent Metal Bird and then we are brought forth their rendition of the low slung blues-jazz of Ray Charles’ Georgia, the harmonica-hued, guitar-driven Don’t Force It and then we get the playfully rambunctious Boiano Campobasso.

Along next is the beautifully dutiful version of Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me To The Moon and the mesmerizing, short, but sweet swirl within Helen’s Theme and they are in turn followed by the traditional folk song, and Cab Calloway hit Saint James Infirmary, a hauntingly imbibed, harmonica and drum-led arrangement of Duke Ellington’s Caravan, the album rounding out on their instrumental version of Edith Piaf’s beautiful La Vie En Rosè, closing on the rousing blues-jazz ambiance within Weapons of Mass Distraction.

Bowmanville’s distinctive and continually surprising swing music is well displayed on this, their brand new recording, and thus with this release, those who are lucky enough to see and hear them perform live in Chicago, well now be joined by a much larger national audience.

Official Purchase Link

Title - Cosmic Synchronicities
Artist - Afro Peruvian New Trends Orchestra

This instrumental music project of multi-project artist Corina Bartra is multi-rhythmic and multidimensional, filled with swing and danceable South and Latin American rhythms. Corina Bartra originals, a majestic, Afro Peruvian Festejo modulating to a swing groove, Osiris, the exuberant, Amazon-inspired Ecstasy Green, the moving Lando Ballas Purple Heart, Bailan Todes la Razas, and Ebano Sky, are full of beautiful melodies, exciting and colorful rhythms.

Baila y Goza modulates between a Cuban Guajira and an Afro Peruvian Fetejo, Vinilo y Cafe, Latino Blues is Cuban-inspired and filled with catchy, danceable melodies and hooks, and Far Away is a Brazilian-inspired tune intermingling with swing rhythm, and is a breath of fresh air intertwined with surprising moments.

There are also three tracks that feature the Marinera style of Peruvian Creole Music. An original, Marinera Jazz, and the traditional Palmero Siguayayay, and a medley from Chabuca Granda, Tun Tun Tun - Le Herida Oscurea, filled with challenging grooves and rhythms to play, which all these top notch players in this recording have far met.

1. Ecstasy Green (4:57)
2. Bahia (6:20)
3. Palmero Siguayayay (3:41)
4. Osiris (8:33)
5. Latino Blues (7:13)
6. Tun Tun Tun - Le Herida Oscura (5:03)
7. Vinilo y Café (5:43)
8. Ebano Sky (5:28)
9. Purple Heart (4:56)
10. Far Away (3:35)
11. Bella Y Goza (6:27)
12. Marinera Jazz (6:27)
13. Bailan Todes la Razas (6:05)

This innovative repertoire, one pleasingly rooted in the thriving Afro Peruvian traditions, opens on the stridently-hued Ecstasy Green and the euphorically-charged Bahia, and they are followed by the traditional, regimented hipsway found within Palmero Siguayayay, the near nine minute musical masterpiece Osiris, and then we get the mesmerizing swirls and twirls within Latino Blues and the joyfully impassioned Tun Tun Tun - Le Herida Oscura.

The albums deliciously vibrant melodies and its most colorful rhythms continue onward with the sprightly Vinilo y Café and the dutiful Ebano Sky and they are in turn backed by the luxuriant Purple Heart, the gently fervent, for the most part, other times sumptuously-sculpted Far Away, the recording rounding out on the drum-fed Bella Y Goza, the dancefloor swirl of Marinera Jazz, closing on the plushly opulent Bailan Todes la Razas.

Afro Peruvian New Trends Orchestra @ Facebook

Title - From The Beatles to The Bluebird
Artist - Kent Blazy

For those not in the know, Kent Blazy has unveiled From The Beatles to The Bluebird, a project inspired by the hitmaker’s visit to Liverpool and traveling to all the Beatles’ sites.

Furthermore, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer wrote all 11 tracks on the project, with the album available now.

“The songs honor lots of people who have inspired me through the years,” Kent Blazy, who has penned songs for Garth Brooks, Chris Young and Danny Gokey, himself explains. “And as the Beatles said, ‘Some are dead and some are living.’ I had a great band and engineers and it was a joy to make this record.”

1. “February 9th, 1964”
2. “Beatles to the Bluebird Cafe”
3. “Just Writing Songs”
4. “Die Young”
5. “Birds on a High Line”
6. “Stay Wild”
7. “Young Man Living In An Old Man’s Town”
8. “Not Really Living”
9. “Love to Love You”
10. “The Gift She Is”
11. “Deeper Into You”

This innovative new recording, a musical journey from the ’60s English invasion, winding through decades up till today, opens on the rhythmically informational “February 9th, 1964” and the gently rambunctious, titular “Beatles to the Bluebird Cafe” and then brings us the free flowing, Springsteen-esque “Just Writing Songs,” the rocking “Die Young,” and both the languishing balladry of “Birds on a High Line” and the foot-tapper “Stay Wild.”

On a record that sounds both immediate and alive in the moment, and which also manages to rock and roll, telling its stories with an energy you can’t help but feel, along next is the impassioned “Young Man Living In An Old Man’s Town” and the rock and roller “Not Really Living,” and they are in turn backed by the lonesome ballad “Love to Love You,” the melodic “The Gift She Is,” coming to a close on the pleasingly measured “Deeper Into You.”

From The Beatles to The Bluebird was mixed and engineered by Chris Utley while mastering was done by John Mayfield of Mayfield Mastering. Musicians on the project include bassist Lee Francis, drummer Kevin Murphy and keyboard player Dennis Matkosky. Steve Allen provided vocals on tracks 1 and 11 while Blazy also shared vocal and guitar duties.

Official Apple Music Purchase Link

Kent Blazy @ Facebook

Kent Blazy @ Instagram

Title - Live at The Village Vanguard
Artist - Kris Davis’ Diatom Ribbons

For those not aware, pianist Kris Davis, has made her mark internationally as a master improviser, composer, bandleader and highly sought-after sideperson. Davis won a Grammy in 2023 for Best Jazz Instrumental album on Terri Lyne Carrington’s album New Standards, and she was voted 2022 and 2020 Pianist of the Year in The Downbeat critics poll. She also won a Doris Duke Artist Award in 2021.

On her brand new album Diatom Ribbons Live At The Village Vanguard, her concept, first heard on the eponymous release Diatom Ribbons (Pyroclastic, 2019), is now brought forth over two CDs taken from 12 sets over six nights at the famed Greenwich Village nightclub.

“This album, which throws a wrench in the traditional jazz quartet format by adding a DJ and electronics, stands as a testament to the forward-thinking nature of the Vanguard and its willingness to embrace some of the new elements that are coming into the music. I like the idea of not allowing the group to feel too comfortable,” Davis explains.

“So I intentionally chose Julian, who I’d played with in a duo setting many times and whose playing I admire. This new configuration challenged us to find a band sound while playing this new music, and I like that process of discovery.”

1. Alice in The Congo
2. Nine Hats
3. The Dancer
4. VW
5. Dolores, Take 1
6. Bird Suite, Part 1: Kingfisher
7. Endless Columns
8. Bird Suite, Part 2: Bird Call Blues
9. Bird Suite, Part 3: Parasitic Hunter
10. Brainfeel
11. Dolores, Take 2

This innovative repertoire opens on their swirling/twirling rendition of Ronald Shannon Jackson’s Alice In The Congo and hypnotically-charged Nine Hats, and then comes the veritably shimmering beauty of Geri Allen’s The Dancer, the soulful VW (featuring samples of Sun Ra speaking of other dimensions), and then comes the gently fervent skidaddle of Dolores, Take 1.

The three part Bird Suite - separated by the solvent nature woven within Endless Columns - presents in Part 1: Kingfisher as a rocked out tribute to Charlie Parker, with Part 2: Bird Call Blues, which features bird samples over classic bebop, with Part 3: Parasitic Hunter finding Stockhausen speaking on intuitive music with fragments of Parker’s music and, quite possibly, if you listen closely enough, John Williams’ Jaws theme, the album rounding out on the languishing Brainfeel and the playfully joyful Dolores, Take 2.

Kris Davis - piano, prepared piano, arturia microfreak synthesizer
Terri Lyne Carrington - drums
Val Jeanty - turntables and electronics
Julian Lage - electric guitar
Trevor Dunn - electric bass and double bass

Official Purchase Link

Kris Davis @ Instagram

Kris Davis @ X (formerly twitter)

Title - Cry Me A River
Artist - Hilario Durán and His Latin Jazz Big Band

For those unaware, Cry Me A River is the highly anticipated release by celebrated Cuban-Canadian composer and piano virtuoso Hilario Durán.

On this recording, Durán leads his remarkable 19-piece ensemble alongside guest talents Paquito D’Rivera, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, and OKAN. This big band album, his first in 17 years, present Durán’s Cuban roots and inventive arrangements, intertwining tradition with uninhibited improvisation across nine enchanting compositions.

Available in various formats, including CD, streaming, and digital platforms like DOLBY ATMOS + Hi Res Digital, the album highlights a fusion of genres as seen in “Claudia,” featuring D’Rivera’s alto sax, and the jazz-meets-classical allure of “Fantasia Impromptu,” adorned by D’Rivera’s clarinet.

1. Pacá por Juanito
2. Mambo y Tumbao
3. Claudia
4. I Remember Mingus
5. Cry Me A River
6. Night In Tunisia
7. Wild Blues
8. Esperando la Carroza (Waiting for the Float)
9. Fantasia Impromptu

On an album where throughout its course the Grammy-nominated and Juno Award-winning Durán actively throws overboard melodic, harmonic, and structural hooks that have become expressively blunted through overuse, building big band charts that bloom in color and texture and atmospheric beauty, it opens on the flourishing Pacá por Juanito and the sweeping Mambo y Tumbao and then brings us the delicately ornate Claudia, the atmopsheric I Remember Mingus and then we are brought forth the sweepingly elegant Me A River (featuring OKAN).

Along next on this veritably translucent new recording is the melodious Night In Tunisia (featuring “El Negro” Hernández), which is in turn backed by the sterner fare of the fervent Wild Blues, the album rounding out on the joyously sculpted Esperando la Carroza (Waiting for the Float), coming to a close on the gyrating rhythmic scope found within the playful Fantasia Impromptu.

“I have waited almost twenty years to record another big band album,” Durán says. “But there was plenty of preparation for this moment.” He refers to the four radio broadcasts of his compositions and arrangements with the great WDR Big Band in Koln, Germany. “It was great to showcase my music and to ‘workshop’ some new arrangements… aspects of the craft I learned working with the Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna in Habana which I inherited from Chucho Valdés… So much to be grateful for the gift of music… it seemed that the time is right for this new album, Cry Me A River.”

Hilario Durán and his Latin Jazz Big Band - Cry Me A River [Official Promo EPK] Hilario Durán @Facebook Hilario Durán @ Instagram

Hilario Durán @ Twitter

Title - A Million Miles Later
Artist - Exile

For those not in the know, Country Rock crossover band Exile have just released their new album, A Million Miles Later on August 25th, 2023 with the new album available for streaming and download on all digital platforms now.

What makes a release unique can range from the style of music it is, the lyrics, the instruments used, or even the feeling in the studio while it was being written.

All these things make songs uniquely an artist’s. Exile uses all of these elements to their advantage. This is what sets them apart.

These all play a part in setting the tone of their release’s overall storyline, and this is what really helps their fans form a real, lasting attachment to it. They feel A Million Miles Later is a perfect example of this technique.

“This was our most ambitious album project ever, 16 songs,” shared band member J.P. Pennington. “It took about a year and a half to complete and was a total team effort. I feel like we covered a lot of ground genre-wise. We have all been influenced by many different styles of music and we tried to reflect that here. We’re very proud of it. To me this album means we’re still passionate about making new music and still focused on the growth of the band. We feel like we can always be better and I hope this album shows proof of that. I love our band!”

1. A Million Miles Later
2. Too Far Gone
3. After You
4. Daydreamin’
5. Keep On Pushin’
6. Valentine Sky
7. Nothin’ But a Thang
8. Paint the Town
9. This Ain’t Nothin’
10. Rough Around the Edges
11. Nothing But Sunshine Now
12. Never Lets Go
13. Down In Cold Water
14. Just To Get Home
15. Sugar Free
16. Sixteen Tons

This quite stunning new collection opens on the smoothly hued title track, A Million Miles Later and the funky, gently rambunctious Too Far Gone, and then comes the rhythmic hipsway of After You, the low slung Daydreamin’, the hand-clapping, foot-tapping Keep On Pushin’, the harmonized balladry of Valentine Sky, and then we get the melodious Nothin’ But a Thang and the fervent pop-rock-polka of Paint the Town.

Along next is the dutiful two-step of the delicious This Ain’t Nothin’ and the rockier Rough Around the Edges and they are in turn backed by the countrified, albeit Caribbean-imbibed finger-snapper Nothing But Sunshine Now and then we get the tectonic Never Lets Go, the Gospel-tinged blues of Down In Cold Water, the album rounding out on the lonesome ode within Just To Get Home, the upbeat and joyful Sugar Free, closing out on their equated, and fascinatingly orchestrated cover of the song popularized by Tennessee Ernie Ford, but was originally written by Merle Travis, Sixteen Tons.

“We are family — at times reading each other’s minds — a by-product of focusing with full intensity on a common goal for sixty years,” said Exile’s Steve Goetzman. “Each member is chosen for personality, as well as talent. We are good guys and help one another grow along these lines, keeping ourselves in check. Actually, we’ve covered far more than a million miles, but who’s counting. This album is a summary of how we click. I feel a lot of gratitude!”

“It’s very rewarding to be able to release a new product that we’re proud of, particularly as we’re celebrating our 60th anniversary,” commented Exile member Marlon Hargis.

“I think this is one of the best projects we’ve ever done,” stated Exile’s Les Taylor. “The creativity has never stopped in this band,” related Sonny LeMarie of Exile. “While we are grateful for our past accomplishments, we’re still striving to create new music and new challenges. This 60th anniversary project, ‘A Million, Miles, Later,’ from the writing and recording, has been a joy from start to finish. We can’t wait for fans to hear it!”

Exile @ Facebook

Exile @ Instagram

Exile @ X (formerly Twitter)

Title - Olivia
Artist - Olivia Pérez-Collellmir

A wonderfully nuanced and diverse collection of music spanning many of Olivia’s own musical interests, this extraordinary recording explores the marriage of flamenco music and Latin jazz with Spanish folk traditions and classical music, creating a universal sound with no musical boundaries.

Hailed as a “Spanish virtuoso” who adds “a flamenco touch to chamber jazz” (The Arts Fuse), Olivia captures the indigenous Catalan sounds of her hometown of Barcelona, Spain.

Growing up amongst the sounds of flamenco, along with her studying classical piano, Olivia has always held a life-long passion for the fusion of musical styles, including jazz. According to composer Osvaldo Golijov, her music “is a striking and gorgeous distillation of profound lyricism and rhythms that are ferocious and elegant at the same time.”

Olivia puts her captivating technique and artistry on full display on her new recording. With OLIVIA the pianist stays true to the Spanish influences that have shaped her artistic sound and identity as a musician; the recording also makes some exotic escapes to India and the Middle East.

1. Promenade 1
2. Cançó i Dansa VI
3. Promenade 2
4. Angelico (Tangos a Mompou)
5. Promenade 3
6. Combat del Somni
7. Promenade 4
8. Le Tombeau de Couperin
9. Together
10. Promenade 5
11. Granada
12. Promenade 6
13. Barcelona

Produced by Grammy nominee Gonzalo Grau and recorded in 2021-22, the selections being released include a handful of original songs by Olivia, and arrangements of pieces by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) and Frederic Mompou (1893-1987), one of the most universal Catalan composers.

This innovative repertoire opens on the short, but oh-so sweet piano solo Promenade 1 and the fully-charged Cançó i Dansa VI and then brings us the dulcet Promenade 2, the organically magnificent Angelico (Tangos a Mompou), and both the third short solo Promenade 3 and the aching yearn found within Combat del Somni.

Olivia’s work has allowed her to branch out to musicians all over the world. 18 of today’s finest international artists can be heard collaborating in the material she chose to record on Olivia.

Along next is the fourth solo Promenade 4 and the flourishing Le Tombeau de Couperin and they are in turn backed by the emphatically-charged, Eastern-imbibed Together, another slice of sheer solo magnificence within Promenade 5, the rhythmic Granada, the recording rounding out on the final Promenade 6, coming to a close on the album’s emotional centerpiece, Barcelona. [Which is itself a tribute to the composer’s hometown where classical music arrangements are performed by a small chamber ensemble laced with the rhythms of traditional flamenco music, vocals, and hand clapping].

Official Purchase Link

Olivia Pérez-Collellmir @ Facebook

Olivia Pérez-Collellmir @ Instagram

Title - My Heart Speaks
Artist - Ivan Lins

Ivan Lins is one of the most treasured and recorded Brazilian composers in the world and a melodist with few equals. The winner of four Latin Grammy Awards, Lins has recorded nearly fifty albums since 1970; they contain countless songs, notably “Madalena” and “Começar de Novo” (To Begin Again), that have become standards in his country. “Love Dance,” co-written with his longtime arranger, Gilson Peranzzetta, and lyricist Paul Williams, is Lins’s English-language classic.

Its performers include Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee, Mark Murphy, Shirley Horn, Blossom Dearie, Carmen McRae, George Benson, Nancy Wilson, Barbra Streisand, and Quincy Jones, who helped maneuver Lins’s U.S. breakthrough in the early ‘80s.

On September 15th, 2023 Resonance Records — the award-winning diamond of independent jazz labels — will release My Heart Speaks, the most extravagantly lush album of Lins’s career. Performing rare gems from his catalog, the composer is backed by the 91-piece symphony of Tbilisi, capital of the Republic of Georgia.

Kuno Schmid, the extraordinarily prolific Los Angeles-based composer and arranger, wrote the orchestral charts. One of Schmid’s fans was his legendary predecessor, Johnny Mandel, who earned one of his five Grammys for an arrangement of Lins’s “Velas,” featured on Jones’s album The Dude. Mandel called Schmid’s work “so good that I’m jealous.”

1. Renata Maria
2. The Heart Speaks (Antes e Depois) Dianne Reeves, Vocal
3. Não Ha Porque (There’s No Reason Why)
4. I’m Not Alone (Anjo de Mim) Tawanda, Vocal
5. Congada Blues
6. E Isso Acontece (And This Happens)
7. Easy Going
8. Corpos (Bodies)
9. Missing Miles Randy Brecker, Trumpet
10. Rio (Rio de Maio) Jane Monheit, Vocal
11. Nada Sem Você (Nothing Without You)

On an album that boasts appearances by Randy Brecker, Dianne Reeves, Jane Monheit, and an exciting newcomer, Tawanda, winner of the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, Lins’s reedy, heartfelt voice (which is itself one of the iconic sounds of Brazilian pop) first brings us the lavishly luxuriant balladry of Renata Maria (about a dreamlike goddess) and the simply sumptuous The Heart Speaks (Antes e Depois) with Dianne Reeves, and then brings us the all-embracing warmth of Não Ha Porque (There’s No Reason Why) and the glistening I’m Not Alone (Anjo de Mim) with Tawanda (an English version of Lins’s classic “Anjo de Mim”).

Holding a feast of discoveries for Lins’s American fans, this highly innovative repertoire continues onward with the vibrant Congada Blues and the impassioned E Isso Acontece (And This Happens) and they are in turn backed by the smoothly exuberant Easy Going and the heavenly Corpos (Bodies) [which actually dates from the darkest years of Brazil’s military dictatorship], and they are in turn backed by the magically sophisticated Missing Miles (featuring Randy Brecker on trumpet, Rio (Rio de Maio) with Jane Monheit, coming to a close on the impassioned Nada Sem Você (Nothing Without You).

The inspiration for My Heart Speaks grew from Night Kisses, 2020’s tribute album of Ivan Lins songs by jazz reedman Eddie Daniels. Dave Grusin and Bob James joined the project, as did Schmid’s strings for The Harlem Quartet.

Lins’s core band on this album spans several countries. Josh Nelson is a Los Angeles-based pianist whose work was called “lyrical, harmonically rich, and elegant” in DownBeat. Uruguayan guitarist Leo Amuedo has been a fixture of Lins’s groups for over a decade. Cuban bassist Carlitos Del Puerto founded the Grammy-winning Latin band Irakere.

Musical Personnel:
Ivan Lins (vocals), Dianne Reeves, Jane Monheit, Tawanda (featured vocals), Randy Brecker (trumpet), Josh Nelson (piano), Leo Amuedo (guitar), Carlitos Del Puerto (bass), Mauricio Zottarelli (drums & percussion). With special thanks to the Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra.

Ivan Lins - Renata Maria [Official Audio]

Official Purchase Link

Ivan Lins @ Instagram

Title - Invictus
Artist - Bodyguerra

In 2021, the latest Bodyguerra album, Fire & Soul was released worldwide on Fastball Music and quickly placed in the official German rock and metal charts.

The new album Invictus will be released worldwide on September 15th, 2023 and will set new standards for the band.

The four-piece - singer Ela Sturm, guitarist Guido Stoecker and the two new band members Robert Brenner on bass and Jason Steve Mageney on drums - once again impresses with an incomparably original performance and presents authentic and homegrown rock music.

With the new songs, Bodyguerra clearly set themselves apart from their previous album in terms of songwriting and production. Stomping rock numbers (Blood and Stones), driving up-tempo numbers (Twilight), the extremely bluesy-groovy She Bop or the impressive acapella number My Mother Told Me, all come together to create an entertaining album that is just plain fun.

Producer Rolf Munkes from Empire Studios aka the current guitarist from Crematory, once again provides the necessary crisp sound to give the new songs the fittingly powerful rock sound.

Bodyguerra’s live presence causes goosebumps right from the start and fires up the audience massively when Ela opens the show with her powerful voice and the question Are you ready to rooooooock?!.

Bodyguerra already rocked with Graham Bonnet (Rainbow / MSG) and as very special guests with the legendary Brits The Sweet and will play further shows next Autumn to tour this new album.

1. Blood and Stones
2. Troublemaker
3. Twilight
4. She Bop
5. Confident Woman
6. Devil’s Eye
7. I Stop Listening to You
8. Time Goes By
9. Too Late
10. C’mon, Tell Me
11. My Mother Told Me (Bonus Track)

The album opens on the drum-led Blood and Stones and the rousing ’80s rocker vibe of Troublemaker and then backs those up with the fervent metal of Twilight, their brilliant rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s underrated ’90 hit She Bop, and the empowered Confident Woman.

Along next is the propellant Devil’s Eye and the enthusiastically-charged I Stop Listening to You which are in turn followed by the mid-tempo Time Goes By, the melodic rocker Too Late, the recording rounding out on the groove-laden guitar work within C’mon, Tell Me, closing on the haunting acapella bonus track My Mother Told Me.

Bodyguerra - C’mon, Tell Me (Official Video)

Bodyguerra @ Bandcamp

Bodyguerra @ Twitter

Title - The Lost Masters: 1963-1973
Artist - Clarence White

The Lost Masters: 1963-1973 features 14 acoustic and electric tracks from guitarist Clarence White, the late country-rock pioneer who was the second longest-serving member of the Byrds. White was also a founding member of bluegrass group the Kentucky Colonels and performed with them in the 1960s and ‘70s.

The Lost Masters: 1963-1973 includes songs recorded both at the beginning and at the peak of White’s career, showcasing his critically acclaimed flat-picking guitar style. Guest players on the sessions include the Byrds’ Roger McGuinn, Gene Parsons, and Skip Battin; the Flying Burrito Brothers’ Byron Berline; multi-instrumentalist Eric Weissberg; and Don and Phil Everly on a rehearsal take of “I’m on My Way Home Again.”

Each of the 14 tracks previously appeared on White Lightnin’, a limited-edition CD released by Sierra Records in 2009.

1. No Title Yet Blues (Rehearsal)
2. Fire On the Mountain (Guitar Instruction)
3. (Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such As I (Rehearsal)
4. New Soldier’s Joy (Live at the Ash Grove)
5. Yesterday’s Train (Rehearsal)
6. Sally Goodin Meets the Byrds (Rehearsal)
7. Casper Creek aka Banjo Dog
8. Alabama Jubilee
9. Ode To Billie Joe (Live at the Nashville West Club)
10. Buckaroo (Live at the Nashville West Club)
11. Nashville West (Live at the Nashville West Club)
12. Byrd Jam aka White’s Lightning
13. Around the Barn (Jam Session)
14. I’m On My Way Home Again (Rehearsal)

The collection opens on eight from the Acoustic selections, with the fervent banjo-picking (a driving force here throughout) of No Title Yet Blues (Rehearsal), the short-but sweet Fire On the Mountain (Guitar Instruction) and then we get the dulcet ache found within (Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such As I (Rehearsal), the upbeat New Soldier’s Joy (Live at the Ash Grove), the quietly impassioned Yesterday’s Train (Rehearsal), and then we get the thigh slapper Sally Goodin Meets the Byrds (Rehearsal), the joyous foot-tapper Casper Creek aka Banjo Dog and the all-out, free flowing Alabama Jubilee.

The back eight are from the Electric selections and open with three live cuts from the Nashville West Club: the blues rocker Ode To Billie Joe, the Beatles-esque Buckaroo and the rambunctious Nashville West, the recording rounding out on the countrified rocker Byrd Jam aka White’s Lightning, the album closing on the harmonized Around the Barn (Jam Session) and a brilliant to hear first take of I’m On My Way Home Again (Rehearsal).

Official Purchase Link

Title - The All-American Rejects [20th Ann. LP + 7”]
Artist - The All-American Rejects

The All-American Rejects self-titled debut album celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Originally released in 2002 via Doghouse Records, the album was then re-released on February 4th, 2003 by DreamWorks Records.

To mark the anniversary the album is released on an exclusive color 1LP+7” configuration. Featuring some of the band’s most famous songs, The All-American Rejects contains such breakthrough singles like the addictive “Swing, Swing” (peaked at #8 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks in the United States"), the explosive “My Paper Heart,” and the punk-fueled “The Last Song.”

As a bonus, the reissue will include a special 7” with two new versions of classic songs: “The Cigarette Song (Acoustic Version)” and “Don’t Leave Me (Demo).”

For me, the album is vaguely reminiscent of one of my all-time favorites, Candy’s Whatever Happened to Fun?, in that underneath the deceptively simple and upbeat song structures lie serious emotional themes. Lyrics and key words are repeated - breathe, fade, cheating, crying, away - and so forth, but that isn’t an issue as they slot in perfectly to the overall musical masterpiece that this album most assuredly is.

In fact, it’s almost as if they wanted to create an epic album, as evidenced by the full production and dramatic vocals, but when they got to the lyrics department they couldn’t think of anything except how much some girl hurt them. And that’s kind of a cute premise, if ultimately a bit melodramatic. And yet, it works to near perfection.

Now, I understand that pushes the record dangerously close to hideous emo, and maybe in the lyrics that’s fine. But rest assured that this is musically closer to Jimmy Eat World (great band) than Dashboard or any similarly styled artless bleeding heart garbage!

It doesn’t hurt that the band was so clearly tuned in to the classic pop-rock of Rick Springfield and Def Leppard at that time of recording either, and this album should appeal to fans of those artists as much as any of the teen beat stuff that was also around back then.

Side A:
1. My Paper Heart
2. Your Star
3. Swing, Swing
4. Time Stands Still
5. One More Sad Song
6. Why Worry

This fully immersive recording opens on the falsetto vocals, emo 101 of My Paper Heart and the Def Leppard meets classic Elvis Costello balladry bounce of Your Star, and then comes the much deserved hit Swing, Swing, another raging success in Time Stands Still (where the acoustic lead in gives way to a monster chorus), the side rounding out on the melodiously upbeat track One More Sad Song, and the power pop neo-classic, sincere instrumental/lyric gem Why Worry.

Side B:
1. Don’t Leave Me
2. Too Far Gone
3. Drive Away
4. Happy Endings
5. The Last Song

Flipping the vinyl LP over, for that is one of my most favorite things to do, we next get brought forth the fake synth-pop/punk-ish guitar riff, fun drums and sing-along chorus of Don’t Leave Me and the soaring love song Too Far Gone, and they are then backed by the honest pop-rock of Drive Away, the pop-punk, riffing leads of a disjointed, almost at times stripped-down Happy Endings, closing on the radio-tuned, orchestral-imbibed, at first, optimistic, in a sense, albeit from a defeated standpoint, The Last Song.

7” Single:
A1. The Cigarette Song (Acoustic Version)
B1. Don’t Leave Me (Demo)

“A lot of our contemporaries make a big deal to break up, and we get it; it’s probably good for their psyche to draw a line in the sand, but we’re never gonna do that,” lead vocalist Tyson Ritter says. “As much as we might have going on in our lives, the one thing that we can all agree on with The All-American Rejects is that we’re never gonna stop doing this.”

Founded in 1999 out of Stillwater, Oklahoma, the band has released four albums, countless hit singles, like “Move Along,” “Dirty Little Secret” and “Swing, Swing,” and has toured alongside legendary rock bands such as Blink 182 and Bon Jovi. Starting as teenagers, their self-titled album was a defining moment for the band, which ignited the fire of indelible pop-rock hooks.

Released in 2002, the big wave of pop-punk music exploded, with Fuse, MTV, and TRL leading the charge. The band gained momentum with their debut album, never afraid to expose their honest thoughts and genuine selves, making songs relatable to teenagers across the globe.

The All-American Rejects is Tyson Ritter (lead vocals/bass), Nick Wheeler (lead guitar/backing vocals), Mike Kennerty (rhythm guitar/backing vocals), and Chris Gaylor (drums). Their self-titled debut album is re-released August 25th, 2023 via UMe and is available on exclusive 140g color vinyl and coke bottle clear 7”.

Official Purchase Link

The All-American Rejects - Swing, Swing (Official Music Video)

The All-American Rejects @ Facebook

Title - First Fish
Artist - Rintaro Mikami

The places we live leave a deep imprint. In the case of drummer and composer Rintaro Mikami, it was life on the small island of Kuchinoerabu in the south of Japan that inspired his debut release as a leader, First Fish. For two years during childhood, Mikami gained life lessons on Kuchinoerabu that he likely wouldn’t have in his native Tokyo.

First Fish refers to Mikami’s earliest experience living on the island, a memory that would guide him as he matured and developed his own artistic sensibility after returning to Tokyo. Later he pursued music studies for seven years in the great music capital of New York, and grew to become the fine drummer and creative, well-rounded musician that we hear now. All nine tracks on First Fish weave together the story of Mikami’s journey, from the island to this day.

1. Arrival
2. The Whistle
3. First Fish (feat. Lily Resnikoff)
4. Derailing
5. The sky he saw
6. A stone flows to (Interlude)
7. Interlaken
8. Secession
9. Deer’s Dream (feat. Ariel Bart)

Recorded by Colin Mohnacs at GB’s Juke Joint in New York City in February 2023, this sumptuously-sculpted new recording opens on an original poem in Japanese, Arrival (which is recited here by Mikiami himself) and then brings us the quietly fervent jazz waltz The Whistle, before revealing the ornate gossamer of the titular First Fish (featuring the dulcet vocals tones of Lily Resnikoff), and then comes the upbeat and joyously animated Derailing.

Along next is the dulcet, sobering ambiance within The sky he saw which is in turn backed by a brief solo drum interlude A stone flows to (Interlude), the sweeping Interlaken is next, the album rounding out on the veritably shimmering, at first, albeit soon enough playfully boisterous Secession, closing on the gently wistful, yet at the same time earnestly affluent Deer’s Dream (featuring Israeli harmonica player Ariel Bart’s soulful accompaniment to the tenor sax play of David Truilo).

Drums, Voice (Track 1) - Rintaro Mikami
Bass - Bar Filipowicz
Guitar - Omri Bar Giora
Piano - Henry Plotnick
Tenor Sax - David Truilo
Voice (Track 3) - Lily Resnikoff
Harmonica (Track 9) - Ariel Bart

Official Purchase Link

Rintaro Mikami @ SoundCloud

Rintaro Mikami @ Instagram

Rintaro Mikami @ YouTube

Title - Davy Jones’ Locker (2023 Crystal Blue Vinyl)
Artist - The Ocean Blue

For those not in the know, The Ocean Blue are giving 1999’s Davy Jones’ Locker, the fifth and final album of their original ’80s/’90s run, its first-ever vinyl pressing, coming out on August 25th, 2023 via their own Korda Records.

The album was originally self released — after three albums on Sire and one on Mercury Records — before getting wider distribution by March Records in 2001. “It’s definitely our most eclectic and least fussy record,” says bandleader David Schelzel. “We were experimenting with different musical directions, sounds, arrangements and lyrical themes.”

With the release of their self-titled debut, The Ocean Blue quickly achieved widespread acclaim and radio & MTV airplay with top 10 Modern Rock/College Radio hits like Between Something and Nothing, Drifting, Falling, and Vanity Fair. Soon followed by Cerulean, Beneath the Rhythm and Sound, and See The Ocean Blue, the band’s fanbase grew with each release.

The band continued to several records, including 1999’s Davy Jones Locker and 2004’s Waterworks. In 2013, the band released their first full length record in a decade, Ultramarine, on Korda Records. In 2015, the band worked with Sire Records to reissue their first three albums on vinyl, and toured North America and South America, where some of their most passionate fans reside.

In 2019, the band returned with the beautifully powerful Kings and Queens / Knaves and Thieves, and has continued to tour for this release and the newly re-issued vinyl of See The Ocean Blue (2022) and Davy Jones Locker (2023).

Side A:
1. Ayn
2. Garden Song
3. Denmark
4. My Best Friend
5. Cukaloris
6. Been Down A Lot Lately
7. Consolation Prize

Barely out of high school when they inked a deal with Sire, but their fresh jangle pop came alive on their eponymous debut, that’s for damn sure, if not more so than the jaunty, ’60s-inspired pop of Ayn and the angelic brooding and shoegazing reverie of Garden Song, and then we get the free flowing Denmark (says Schezel, “The setting of the song is the band’s tour of Denmark which marked a turning point for us, as one of the founding members of the band left right after that tour and a current member joined us”), the lyrical musings of My Best Friend, the blissful, short but sweet instrumental guitar cut Cukaloris, and the we get both the embracing yearn of Been Down A Lot Lately and the swirling pop of Consolation Prize.

Side B:
1. Cake
2. Bottle Yours
3. I Can’t See You
4. So Many Reasons
5. Do You Still Remember Me?
6. It Never, Just Might

With Schelzel’s songwriting as dreamy, and with as much heavy poetic imagery as he could muster, flipping the vinyl album over, we next get the buoyantly breezy Cake (“Don’t batter your own when you make your cake”) and the melodically layered Bottle Yours, the guitar-driven. I Can’t See You, the pop-tastic breeze of So Many Reasons, the album rounding out on the laid back, pop hispway of Do You Still Remember Me?, closing on the melodic guitar and atmospheric embellishments found within It Never, Just Might.

“On the reissue, we wanted to revisit this album this year, as it was basically out of print and never released on vinyl,” explains frontman and chief songwriter David Schelzel. “As we did this, we realized there were a lot of interesting things going on that record and at that time for the band in terms of recording, songwriting, and trying out different approaches in our own studio. We also thought the album might benefit from some light remastering, which was needed for vinyl anyways, and were really pleased with the results. We’re looking forward to playing some of the songs from this record on tour this fall.”

The Ocean Blue hits the road in support of the reissue of Davy Jones’ Locker this fall, kicking things off in late summer on September 1 at Shank Hall in Milwaukee, WI, and wrapping up on November 18th at Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix, AZ.

Sep 1 Milwaukee, WI Shank Hall
Sep 2 Chicago, IL Lincoln Hall
Sep 3 Minneapolis, MN Parkway Theater
Sep 8 Washington, DC Howard Theater
Sep 9 Pittsburgh, PA Mr. Smalls
Sep 29 Philadelphia, PA Ardmore Theater
Sep 30 Virginia Beach, VA Neptune Festival
Oct 6 San Antonio, TX Sam’s Burger Joint
Oct 7 Houston, TX Numbers
Oct 19 Toronto, ON Horseshoe Tavern
Oct 20 Detroit, MI Magic Bag
Oct 21 Columbus, OH Natalie’s Grandview Music Hall
Nov 10 Miami, FL The Ground @ Club Space
Nov 11 Chapel Hill, NC Cat’s Cradle
Nov 16 San Diego, CA Casbah *SOLD OUT*
Nov 17 San Francisco, CA The Chapel
Nov 18 Phoenix, AZ Crescent Ballroom

Official Purchase Link

The Ocean Blue - Denmark [Official Music Video]

The Ocean Blue @ Facebook

Title - Natural Impression
Artist - Mafalda Minnozzi

Acclaimed international singer Mafalda Minnozzi has been hailed by All About Jazz Italia as “a sensitive interpreter [with] outstanding vocal technique, [who] dominates the stage with her fascinating stage presence and her powerful and flexible voice, rich in a thousand nuances.”Natural Impression, the latest chapter in a longstanding collaboration with American guitarist, arranger and producer Paul Ricci, Minnozzi embodies every word of that well-deserved praise.

In a richly varied set of music, Minnozzi displays her deep affinity for Bossa nova, French chanson, Italian standards, American jazz and other flavors of global song.

Hers is a skillful balance between the virtuosity and eclecticism of jazz with the cosmopolitan sensibility of world music. Her style recalls ancestral links with Italian melodrama and French cabaret in a stylistic blend that uses the voice in the manner of a skilled instrumentalist — shown, for example, by her nimble unisons with Beavers’ trombone on “Mas Que Nada”, or with Ricci’s guitar on their boppish rendering of the Leny Andrade-associated showpiece “Estamos Aí” as well as the seductive dance with Don Byron on “Ne Me Quitte Pas”.

1. ÁGUAS DE MARÇO (4:11)
3. MAS QUE NADA (ft. Doug Beavers) (4:09)
5. SAMBA DE VERÃO (3:22)
6. NE ME QUITTE PAS (ft. Don Byron) (4:24)
7. CARNIVAL (MANHÃ DE CARNAVAL) (ft. Joe Locke) (3:57)
8. CORAÇÃO VAGABUNDO (ft. Michael Wolff and John Patitucci) (4:16)
9. ESTATE (4:20)
11. E PENSO A TE (4:36)
12. ESTAMOS AÍ (4:23)
14. BRUMA (ft. Roberto Menescal) (4:06)

The songwriters here on Natural Impression — Antonio Carlos Jobim, Ivan Lins, Luiz Bonfá, Jacques Brel, Caetano Veloso, Jorge Ben, João Bosco, Lucio Battisti, Roberto Menescal, and more — offer priceless material for Minnozzi, perhaps none more so than on the joyous Brazilian song composed by Antônio Carlos Jobim, ÁGUAS DE MARÇO, which is backed seamlessly by the dutiful hipsway within COMEÇAR DE NOVO, the playful, iconic Jorge Ben cut MAS QUE NADA (featuring trombonist Doug Beavers), the languishing Jobim moment, USELESS LANDSCAPE (INÚTIL PAISAGEM), and then we get the shimmering SAMBA DE VERÃO, the smoothly sculpted Brel ballad NE ME QUITTE PAS (featuring clarinetist Don Byron), and the sprightly Bonfá classic CARNIVAL (MANHÃ DE CARNAVAL) (featuring vibraphonist Joe Locke).

Minnozzi is boundlessly expressive in all these settings, connecting to each lyric viscerally, regardless of language, and thus along next is the veritably glistening CORAÇÃO VAGABUNDO (featuring both keyboardist Michael Wolff and bassist John Patitucci) and the guitar-fed ESTATE, and they are backed by the laid low, atmospheric balladry of DOIS PRA LÁ, DOIS PRA CÁ, the jazzy blues of E PENSO A TE, the perky ESTAMOS AÍ, a gently fervent rendition of Jobim’s SÓ TINHA DE SER COM VOCÊ, the album rounding out on the world song premiere of the sumptuous BRUMA (featuring Bossa Nova legend Roberto Menescal), closing on the jaunty SAMBA DE UMA NOTA SÓ.

Mafalda Minnozzi – vocals
Paul Ricci – guitars
Helio Alves – piano on all tracks except 8
Eduardo Belo – acoustic bass on all tracks except 8
Rogerio Boccato – drums on all tracks, percussion on tracks 3 and 10
Kassin – percussion on track 5

Special guests:
Roberto Menescal duet w/Mafalda Minnozzi on “Bruma”
Joe Locke - vibraphone on “Carnival” recorded at Franklin Academy Studio
Don Byron - clarinet on “Ne Me Quitte Pas” recorded at Hidden Quarry Studio
Doug Beavers trombone on “Mas Que Nada” recorded at Circle 9 Studios
Michael Wolff keyboards on “Coração Vagabundo” recorded at Studio 43
John Patitucci acoustic bass on “Coração Vagabundo” recorded at Pastasushi Studios

Mafalda Minnozzi @ Instagram

Mafalda Minnozzi @ Facebook

Mafalda Minnozzi @ Twitter

Title - Organ Monk Going Home
Artist - Gregory Lewis

Everybody has literal and figurative homes. There are the physical places where heads are laid at night and then there are the feelings, people, activities, or spaces that provide a feeling of the comfort of home.

Gregory Lewis has found a musical home delving into the Hammond organ and the music of the great composer/pianist Thelonious Monk, a practice that has allowed him opportunities to play with extraordinary musicians and visit amazing places, and his new recording Organ Monk Going Home brings all of these aspects to bear.

1. Who Knows (5:44)
2. Evidence (7:12)
3. San Francisco Holiday (6:37)
4. Brilliant Corners (7:55)
5. Gallop’s Gallop (5:36)
6. Two Timer (5:31)
7. Brake’s Sake (4:26)
8. Jaclyn’s Eyes (6:07)

The album opens on the spirited Who Knows and the jaunty, at times almost veritably ethereal prog of Evidence and then brings us the playfully precocious San Francisco Holiday, the lushly orchestrated Brilliant Corners, the free flowing melodies of Gallop’s Gallop, the drum-fed Two Timer, the recording rounding out on the rhythmic Brake’s Sake, coming to a close on some prog-synth jazz wonderment’s coming effortless together to bring us Jaclyn’s Eyes.

Growing up in New York in a Black household hailing from the South, Lewis was taught to celebrate the continent where civilization began, along with the society that these dynasties of Africa helped to create. Part of this societal foundation was the music that Lewis grew up hearing in his 1970s household, which included soul and funk music, along with jazz.

Lewis initially discovered Monk’s work through his father’s record collection. The impression made by the master was enough to inspire the young listener to attempt to learn the idiosyncratic music on piano. But it was when Lewis heard organist Larry Young perform a version of “Monk’s Dream” that Lewis knew that he wanted to focus on interpreting Monk’s music on the organ.

The transition of performing Monk’s music on piano to organ was a difficult one. Naturally, Monk had developed his own technique to playing the piano, its subtleties applying to many of his compositions. As there is no sustain on the organ, the extended voicings are different. The voicings provided by the organ breathe differently and can be held longer, becoming a bigger, multilayered sound. Lewis also had to rely on his foot pedals to provide the bass parts.

Years of practice and performance have honed Lewis’ skills and developed his material, leading to many opportunities and much recognition. While performing a concert of Monk material at the Brooklyn jazz club, Sista’s Place, Lewis was approached by the official photographer of Zimbabwe’s former president, Robert Mugabe. A friendship was struck, leading to Lewis being invited to United Nations functions and to visit Zimbabwe, a trip that profoundly affected Lewis when he was eventually able to make it after the Covid pandemic.

This going back to his proverbial home led Lewis to go back to a musical one. For Organ Monk Going Home, Lewis recruited drummer Nasheet Waits and guitarist Kevin McNeal to complete his trio. Waits has been a friend since the two were introduced at the New School; Waits was the drummer on Lewis’s first gig in Queens. The drummer’s pedigree and advice has long been valuable to Lewis. McNeal was tracked down twenty years ago by Lewis and they have maintained a strong musical relationship, most notably in McNeal’s Blueswing ensemble.

Reunited with these friends/collaborators, Lewis took the trio into the Samurai Hotel Recording Studio in March and April 2022 to record an inspired collection of arrangements of Monk’s material, and a Lewis original.

Gregory Lewis - organ
Kevin McNeal - guitar
Nasheet Waits - drums

Official Purchase Link

Gregory Lewis @ Instagram

Title - Fusion
Artist - Peter Xifaras

Multi-genre guitarist/composer/producer Peter Xifaras has traded in his classical composer hat, dusted off his Les Paul, and wants to take you on a wild contemporary-jazz ride. Peter is a multi-award winning artist who’s music has been heard on hundreds of radio stations, been on SiriusXM rotation for over a decade, has topped Billboard’s Classical & Crossover Charts, and was the recipient of a TELLY award for last year’s ground breaking release, Children of Conflict.

Straddling the line between classical & jazz, Peter is just as comfortable writing a piece for Symphonic Orchestra as he is laying down a wailing solo on guitar. FUSION was recorded during Covid in a variety of locations including New York, Los Angeles, Prague and Belgium.

1. Chaos (5:14)
2. Shunzo (4:23)
3. Wild and Free (4:12)
4. B Blues (5:10)
5. Think Quick (5:21)
6. While My Guitar Weeps For Mehdi Rajabian (4:54)
7. Till We Meet Again (1:56)

The album opens on the fervently rhythmic Chaos and the triumphantly-imbued Sunzo and then brings us the empowered Wild and Free, the low slung, smooth hipsway of B Blues, the smoothly sculpted Think Quick, the all-embracing, majestically euphoric While My Guitar Weeps For Mehdi Rajabian, coming to a close on the playfully perky Till We Meet Again.

Official Purchase Link

Fusion [Official Album Trailer]

Peter Xifaras @ Facebook

Title - Media Consumption Pyramid
Artist - Datarock

In these sometimes contentious and aggressively divisive times, peaceful protests are needed to balance out the aggression.

As a homage to a political movement that started at the turn of the decade, Norwegian dance punks DATAROCK offer their latest single “DISCObedience” as a worthy anthem and gift to the Extinction Rebellion phenomenon of the same name.

Taken from their upcoming album Media Consumption Pyramid (release date: September 29th, 2023 via YAP Records), “DISCObedience” is the third single from the dance-happy record that takes the acid-washed MADchester beats of Happy Mondays and Stone Roses and marries them with socially-conscious but celebratory messages and positivity.

Mixed by 2x GRAMMY®-winning Mark Rankin (Queens of the Stone Age, Iggy Pop, Bloc Party, Adele), the song features Ketel Two (a.k.a. Kjetil Traavik Møster), long time DATAROCK member and acclaimed jazz saxophone maverick who has been touring with everyone from Chick Correa and Pat Metheny to Röyksopp, Robyn, as well as his own solo project MØSTER.

DATAROCK — DISCObedience [official music video]

On “DISCObedience,” Ketel Two takes inspiration from James Chance’s signature style, but very much displaying his own unique style of improvisation — for which he has a PHD in performing arts.

1. Armadillo Pt. II
2. Heart Shaped Circle
3. Metaverse
4. Rabbit Hole
5. DISCObedience
6. Tick Tock
7. Video Store
8. Aeon Flux
9. Digital Life
10. Double Vision (Bonus Track)
11. Armadillo (Pt. I)

From one of the most underrated groups from the late ’00s, and who still making glorious tunes, whose melodies are as ’80s terrific as they ever were, the album opens on the divine, rhythmically-hued Armadillo Pt. II and the early Depeche Mode-imbibed brilliance of Heart Shaped Circle (a portrait and visual homage to Paulo Araya aka Penetra Schön), the synth-pop extravaganza Metaverse, and then comes the Talking Heads-esque Rabbit Hole and the infectiously groovy lead single DISCObedience.

Along next is the synth-rocker Tick Tock and the free-flowing, synth-tastic Video Store and they are in turn backed by the postpunk/new romantic Aeon Flux, the electronically-textured Digital Life, the album rounding out on the Beastie Boys-imbibed, rapped bonus track Double Vision, coming to a close on the Erasure-esque, Van Halen-fused Armadillo (Pt. I).

Centered around the global environmental movement whose aim is to orchestrate peaceful protests against environmental collapse, DATAROCK zeroed in on the civil disobedience events organized in city centers that takes the form of massive dance assemblies. “Hopefully one day, we’ll see one of these nonviolent, civic disobedience gatherings dancing to the beat of their very own soundtrack,” frontman Fredrik Saroea yearns, though he feels that their brand of ‘disco punk’ may be “a bit too aggressive, high tempo and inspired by post-punk like Gang Of Four and No Wave artists like DNA and James Chance and the Contortions for Extinction Rebellion’s dance routines and tutorials,” he laughs. “What a clever and charming civic disobedience that riot police can’t aggressively shut down, right?”

The accompanying A.I.-created video is a psychedelic mind trip that begins as amorphous shapes and eyeballs that eventually coalesce into a time lapse of the mundanity and banality of office life and technology. It’s a wake up call to get up from the stagnancy of work and enjoy life before life has passed you by. Created by acclaimed Norwegian art institution Aldea (who also created their previous video “Rabbit Hole”), the video for “DISCObedience” employs the creative side of A.I. to create beautifully shifting and evolving images that portray the passage of time.

The art collaborators at Aldea explain, “We’ve utilized cutting-edge technology to produce a series of music videos, each distinctively crafted for four tracks from their new the world where A.I. meets creativity, these advanced models translate the core emotions and narratives of the music into compelling visual experiences.”

DATAROCK is guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Saroea (Rock Steady Freddie), bassists Ketil Mosnes (Ketel One) & Thomas Larssen (T-Man), Casio-operator Stig Narve Brunstad (Stig The Mystical Casio Operator), keyboardist/saxophonist Kjetil Møster (Ketel Two), and drummers/percussionists Øyvind Solheim (Ike Andy) and Tarjei Strøm (LA Gear).

Official Purchase Link

DATAROCK — Rabbit Hole [official music video]

DATAROCK — Heart-Shaped Circle [official music video]

DATAROCK @ Facebook

DATAROCK @ Twitter

Title - Blank With Colour
Artist - Chris Mondak

For those unaware, Chris Mondak’s new CD BLANK WITH COLOUR will be released October 6th, 2023 on Summit Records.

The ten jazz-funk tracks include eight of Chris’s original compositions, plus covers of Cruel to Be Kind and Affirmation.

The CD was recorded on analog at Nashville’s Welcome to 1979 studio, and features Dan Hitchcock (sax), Gabe Feldman (keys), Jack Macklin (guitar) and Ryan Brasley (drums).

1. Skunk Funk
2. Cruel To Be Kind
3. Begetting
4. LowFi
5. Wake Up
6. Walking In Sunshine
7. Affirmation
8. Complicated
9. With You
10. Everybody Knows

One what is a most lively collection of jazz-funk tunes, inclusive of eight of Chris’s original compositions, he opens on the aptly-named, groove-laden Skunk Funk and a very tamed down, late night club-hued rendition of Nick Lowe’s brilliant Cruel To Be Kind, and then we get the funky, slap bass guitar work within Begetting, the lush LowFi and the foot-tapper Wake Up.

Along next is the upbeat, Caribbean-imbibed flow of Walking In Sunshine and the smoothly-sculpted Affirmation (composed by Jose Feliciano and made famous by George Benson) and they are in turn backed by the gently fervent, drum and guitar-fed Complicated, the album rounding out on the veritably hypnotic With You, coming to a close on the decidedly delightful piano balladry of Everybody Knows.

Bassist and composer Chris Mondak has lived in Nashville since 2020. Chris studied with bass legends Cecil McBee and Dave Holland at the New England Conservatory (B.M., 2020). Prior to that, Chris was active in the Champaign Central HS music program, where he was a three-time Illinois all-state musician, receiving commendations from Essentially Ellington, Music for All, the Brubeck Institute, YoungArts, and Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Chris has played with Wycliffe Gordon, Dave Douglas, Wayne Escoffery, Melanie Charles, Shelly Berg, Marvin Stamm, Jesus Molina, Jeff Hamilton, and Matt Savage. Chris has toured in the U.S., and has played in Australia, Mexico and Panama, and toured twice in China. Chris has performed at venues such as Birdland, Bop Stop, Jazz at Lincoln Center-Shanghai, Carnegie Hall, Rudy’s, and Breezy’s.

Chris Mondak, Bass
Dan Hitchcock, Sax
Gabe Feldman, Piano
Jack Macklin, Guitar
Ryan Brasley, Drums

Official Purchase Link

Title - Homegrown
Artist - Andrew Danforth

For those unaware, as a sophomore in High School, Andrew Danforth received a lesson from a New York jazz trombonist that changed his perspective on music. In the lesson he was asked to play some fundamental jazz exercises (ii-V-I licks) for the teacher to gauge where he was at in my playing.

Having never practiced any licks before, he improvised his way through the progressions. The trombonist said they sounded very “Homegrown.” Frustrated by this, Andrew spent a long time working on the fundamentals of jazz language and bebop playing. At the time, he used the comment as fuel to get better at his craft, but it took on a new meaning to me in my masters degree.

The more he spent working towards mastery of my instrument the more he realized how important it was to have a unique voice on the instrument. The “Homegrown” quality of his improvisation would never leave the core of his music.

Gaining perspective from his upbringing in the Indy jazz community and finding a much deeper appreciation for the history of music in his hometown went a long way.

Andrew’s new album, entitled, of course, Homegrown is a dedication to the past, present and future of creative music in Indianapolis and a musical representation of the natural landscape, humanity and social geography of Indianapolis that he has grown to care so deeply for.

1. Homegrown
2. New World Floors
3. Vacate
4. Absence of the Avenue
5. Vacant
6. In Motion
7. Orange Hue in the Uplands
8. Prairie Breeze

This most dutifully sculpted new recording opens on the flourishing, titular Homegrown and the drum-fed ambiance of New World Floors and then proceeds to bring us the deeply-laden trombone within Vacate, the gently fervent Absence of the Avenue, the aching yearn of Vacant, the album rounding out on the ardent finger-snapper In Motion, the warm embrace of the opulent Orange Hue in the Uplands, coming to a close on the veritably shimmering Prairie Breeze (which refers to a small stretch of land in the Tipton Till Plain just northwest of Indianapolis).

“The eponymous track Homegrown reminds me of the vast landscape in central Indiana where skyscrapers and corn fields meet,” says Danforth. “The combination of city and county governments in the 1970’s along with urban sprawl forced the mixture of urban and rural communities which gives Indianapolis its unique atmosphere. A floating horn melody sits over the off kilter lilt of the ostinato groove.”

“There is a constant switch from dark to bright tonal centers throughout the piece. All of these compositional choices are done for musical intent but hold a strong relation to the mixture of lifestyles and culture in Indianapolis.”

Andrew Danforth - trombone, composer; Sean Imboden - tenor sax, clarinet; Christopher Pitts - piano; Nick Tucker - bass; Carrington Clinton - drum set.

Official Purchase Link

Andrew Danforth @ Instagram

Title - Cicero: Future Boy (Expanded) [3CD]
Artist - Cicero

Just over 30 years ago, the Pet Shop Boys founded their own record label, Spaghetti Recordings, and their first and most memorable signing was 21 year-old electronic-pop prodigy David Cicero.

The resulting classic synth-pop album ‘Future Boy’, although completely written by Cicero, had significant input by the Pet Shop Boys on key tracks. They had a production, co-producer or mixing role on the songs ‘That Loving Feeling’, ‘Heaven Must Have Sent You Back To Me’, ‘My Middle Class Life’ and ‘Love Is Everywhere’.

They also produced the last track Cicero ever recorded for Spaghetti Recordings, the non-album single ‘Live For Today.’ This was a duet with seasoned session singer Sylvia Mason-James that featured in the ‘The Crying Game’.

Neil Tennant is further awarded a general album credit as one of the backing vocalists heard throughout the album, as is Chris Lowe for his keyboards and programming contributions.

Re-issued, in celebration of its 30th Anniversary, as a fully remastered 45-track, 3-disc deluxe expanded edition, it collects together all known Cicero tracks released during his Spaghetti Recordings years plus some recent vault discoveries and five newly commissioned 2023 remixes of the hit single ‘Love Is Everywhere’ by a range of leading underground synth-pop acts.

Presented in a 3-disc Digipak, it is complete with a richly illustrated 24-page booklet with an introduction written by Cicero himself as well as track by track comments by him too.

Hoping to extend their influence in different ways throughout the pop and dance music field, the Pet Shop Boys produced different artists, some well-known and some new discoveries.

Cicero qualifies as one of the latter. This album, released in December of 1999, produced three primary single releases - That Loving Feeling, Heaven Must Have Sent Me Back To You, and Love is Everywhere. Back in the days prior to the internet, the singles and album were hard to come by in the United States, as they never achieved wide-spread distribution or popularity.

Thus, Cicero remains one of the lesser-known Pet Shop Boys projects, which is a genuine shame as his album was a brilliant mix of synth-pop gems, in my humble opinion. Thus, and perhaps even now more so with this three disc expanded edition from Cherry Red, the album is well worth getting.

The music is all techno-electro-synth-pop oriented, as is the signature of the Pet Shop Boys, particularly in their early days. In fact, the album sounds very much like a late ’80s holdover, and a very good example of such, in truth.

Cicero’s vocals are also interesting. He is one of those rare British vocalists whose accent does get masked by the singing (so many seem to try to sing in a generic quasi-North-American accent). Cicero’s Scottish lilt fits very well with the style. One can even hear the bagpipes playing in the background of some songs, such as Love is Everywhere.

It is unfortunate that Cicero’s career did not continue after this album was originally released, as there was much potential here, as any listener of the album will honestly be able to attest to. I know that the Pet Shop Boys had their hands on things from the off, including the compositions/writing credits, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these compositions were aided along by Cicero himself; as that would add another layer to the artist re: he had an ear for the best music and lyrical content that best suited him.

As for those noted three singles released at the time, That Loving Feeling is a great dance opener with an extended intro, Heaven Must Have Sent You Back To Me is another PSB remix, slightly less aggressive than the one re-released as a single a couple of months earlier and closer to the spirit of the original track, and Love Is Everywhere (complete with those bagpipes and Scottish accent, of course).

As for the other tracks on this debut album, well, it is filled up with some very good, and nicely varied tracks. The experimental Butcher of Bucharest (which is a song about Nicolae Ceaușescu, and filled with speech and documentary samples of the Romanian revolution), the great dance instrumentals Cloud 9 and Sonic Malfunctions, and the beautiful ballad/dance track Then; which is probably my own personal favorite track from the album.

On top of producing the three singles, the Pet Shop Boys produced My Middle Class Life, which enables the song to avoid falling into oblivion, although As Time Goes By isn’t one of his best (but every album has filler). That said, the concluding Future Generations is a nice, bittersweet musical farewell.

CD 1: Original Album & Singles’ B- Sides
1 – That Loving Feeling* (5:44)
2 – Heaven Must Have Sent You Back To Me* (3:28)
3 – My Middle Class Life* (4:01)
4 – Pretend** (4:34)
5 – Cloud 9 (3:18)
6 – Love Is Everywhere* (3:29)
7 – Then (5:60
8 – As Time Goes By (4:59)
9 – Sonic Malfunction (3:35)
10 – The Butcher Of Bucharest (4:38)
11 – Future Generations (5:17)
12 – Pukka (Elevation Mix) (6:19)
13 – Mind Gap (Extended Mix) (6:36)
14 – Splatt (Extended Mix) (6:00)
15 – Jungilism (5:09)
16 – Street Life (4:46)

CD 2: The Original Remixed & Extended Singles
1 – Heaven Must Have Sent You Back To Me (Single Mix) (3:45)
2 – Heaven Must Have Sent You Back To Me (Melt Mix) (6:17)
3 – Love Is Everywhere (Extended Mix)* (7:55)
4 – That Loving Feeling (Single Mix)* (3:50)
5 – That Loving Feeling (Extended Mix)* (7:03)
6 – Live For Today (Single Version)* ^ (4:03)
7 – Live For Today (Gospel Mix)* ^ (2:46)
8 – Live For Today (Club Mix)* *** ^ (7:44)
9 – Live For Today (Underground Dub)* *** ^ (6:05)
10 – Live For Today (Orchestral Longer Version)* ** ^ (4:08)
11 – Heaven Must Have Sent You Back To Me (Remix)* (3:03)
12 – Heaven Must Have Sent You Back To Me (Extended Remix)* (5:54)
13 – Wish (Big Kahuna Mix)** ^^ (6:05)

CD 3: Ciceroddities!- New Remixes, Live & B-Side Edits
1 – Love Is Everywhere (Cicero Remix, 2023)** (4:38)
2 – Love Is Everywhere (RSF Remix, 2023)** (5:12)
3 – Love Is Everywhere (SoftWave Remix, 2023)** (5:16)
4 – Love Is Everywhere (TSF Remix, 2023)** (3:33)
5 – Love Is Everywhere (Shelter Extended Remix, 2023)** (4:45)
6 – Love Is Everywhere (Live At Heaven, 1991)** (4:21)
7 – My Middle Class Life (Live At Heaven, 1991)** (4:32)
8 – As Time Goes By (Live At Heaven, 1991)** (4:32)
9 – Then (Live At Heaven, 1991)** (3:23)
10 – Love Is Everywhere (Shelter Remix – Single Version)** (3:28)
11 – Wish (Early 7” Version)** ^^ (3:49)
12 – Pukka (7” Version) (3:59)
13 – Mind Gap (7” Version) (4:24)
14 – Splatt (7” Version) (4:09)
15 – Street Life (7” Edit) (3:40)
16 – Cicero In Da House** (0:57)

* Produced, Co-produced or Mixed by Pet Shop Boys
** Previously unreleased
*** Ft. Judge Jules
^ Ft. Sylvia Mason-James
^^ Ft. Bianca Kinane

Official 3CD Purchase Link

Title - Chevalier [2LP Vinyl]
Artist - Kris Bowers

For those not in the know quite yet, the soundtrack to the film Chevalier (from Searchlight Pictures) is out now via Hollywood Records as a luxurious double vinyl pressing, along with CD and digital, of course.

The soundtrack features original music composed by Kris Bowers, who wrote scores for the films King Richard, Bridgerton, Dear White People and more.

Also included are several pieces by the titular composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, as well as tracks by Michael Abels - who was responsible for the movie’s on-screen musical performances and created original works inspired by Chevalier’s remaining compositions.

Inspired by the incredible story of composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. The illegitimate son of an African slave and a French plantation owner, Bologne (Kelvin Harrison Jr. in a tour de force performance) rises to improbable heights in French society as a celebrated violinist-composer and fencer, complete with an ill-fated love affair and a falling out with Marie Antoinette (Lucy Boynton) and her court.

Oh, and Chevalier is available to stream on Hulu right now.

Side A:
1. Main Title - Arrival at Polytechnic (Performed by London Contemporary Orchestra)
2. Fencing Duel (Performed by London Contemporary Orchestra)
3. Awarded Chevalier (Performed by London Contemporary Orchestra)
4. A Letter Came for You - Nanon (Performed by London Contemporary Orchestra)
5. It’s Called Ernestine (Performed by London Contemporary Orchestra)
6. The Only Home I Knew (Performed by London Contemporary Orchestra)
7. The Kiss (Performed by London Contemporary Orchestra)
8. We’ll Find a Desert Island (Performed by London Contemporary Orchestra)
9. Now I’m Only a Negro (Performed by London Contemporary Orchestra)
10. My Child (Performed by London Contemporary Orchestra)
11. Composing the Finale (Performed by London Contemporary Orchestra)

Side B:
1. Not a Queen of France (Performed by London Contemporary Orchestra)
2. Flowers Through Church (Performed by London Contemporary Orchestra)
3. Choices Come from Within (Performed by London Contemporary Orchestra)
4. Egalité - Performed by London Contemporary Orchestra 5. The Queen Is Here (You Will Be Erased - Performed by London Contemporary Orchestra)
6. Violin Concerto in G Major, Op. 8, No. 2: I: Allegro (Quartet Version) (Performed by Gareth Murphy)
7. String Quartet in E-Flat Major, Op. 1, No. 2: Rondeau (Performed by Gareth Murphy)

This quite stunningly exuberant, yet glistening and ambient new recording opens on the, at first, spirited, latterly fully emboldened Main Title - Arrival at Polytechnic and the sterner, yet fluid affair of Fencing Duel, and then we get the fervent Awarded Chevalier, and the quieter, hushed pairing of A Letter Came for You - Nanon and It’s Called Ernestine.

Along next is the dutiful hush within The Only Home I Knew and the ornately sculpted The Kiss, which are backed seamlessly by the restrained beauty of We’ll Find a Desert Island, the reserved, haunting stillness that comes in the form of Now I’m Only a Negro, the side rounding out on the serene My Child and the rousing Composing the Finale.

The second side begins with the forthright, veritably triumphant Not a Queen of France and the sheer elegance of Flowers Through Church, then we get the poignant tranquility of Choices Come from Within, the calmness within Egalité, the fervent uproar of The Queen Is Here – You Will Be Erased, the side rounding out on the robust Violin Concerto in G Major, Op. 8, No. 2: I: Allegro (Quartet Version) (Gareth Murphy) and the opulent String Quartet in E-Flat Major, Op. 1, No. 2: Rondeau (Gareth Murphy).

Side C:
1. Sinfonie Liberté Part 1 & 2
2. Soul of an Artist (Performed by London Contemporary Orchestra and Ronald Long, Jr.)
3. Violin Duel (Performed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and London Contemporary Orchestra and Clayton Penrose-Whitmore and Wynton Grant)
4. Scena from “Ernestine” (Performed by Patricia Janecková and Michael Skalický)
5. O cessate di piagarmi from “Il Pompeo” (Performed by Patricia Janecková and Richard Závada and Alessandro Scarlatti)
6. Dansons Pour La Vie (Performed by Joel Virgel)
7. Violin Concerto in A Major, Op. 5, No. 2: II. Largo (Performed by Takako Nishizaki and Helmut Müller-Brühl and Cologne Chamber Orchestra)

Side D:
1. Violin Concerto in G Major, Op. 8, No. 2: I. Allegro (Performed by Randall Goosby and London Contemporary Orchestra)
2. Violin Concerto in C Major, Op. 5, No.1: I. Allegro (Performed by Takako Nishizaki and Helmut Müller-Brühl and Cologne Chamber Orchestra)
3. Sonata for Harp with Flute Obligato: II. Tempo Minuetto (Performed by Gareth Murphy)

The second vinyl in the 2LP set now on the turntable and being spun, itself opens on the languishing beauty found within Sinfonie Liberté Part 1 & 2 and the tender Soul of an Artist (Ronald Long, Jr.) and then we get the aching yearn found within the magnificent Violin Duel (Clayton Penrose-Whitmore and Wynton Grant), the joyous swirl within Scena from “Ernestine” (Patricia Janecková and Michael Skalický), the simply divine O cessate di piagarmi from “Il Pompeo” (Patricia Janecková, Richard Závada and Alessandro Scarlatti), the side rounding out on the Caribbean-imbibed rythms and melodies of Dansons Pour La Vie (Joel Virgel) and the fluidity of the magnificent Violin Concerto in A Major, Op. 5, No. 2: II. Largo (Takako Nishizaki, Helmut Müller-Brühl and Cologne Chamber Orchestra).

The fourth side opens on boldly animated Violin Concerto in G Major, Op. 8, No. 2: I. Allegro (Randall Goosby) and then brings us the ten minute opus Violin Concerto in G Major, Op. 8, No. 2: I. Allegro (Takako Nishizaki, Helmut Müller-Brühl and Cologne Chamber Orchestra), before bringing us the symphonically-charged Sonata for Harp with Flute Obligato: II. Tempo Minuetto (Gareth Murphy).

“The story isn’t being told because it’s a black person that existed in this time period. This is one of the greatest composers who was overlooked because he was black.” - Kris Bowers.

“Chevalier was the Prince of his day.” – Michael Abels

CHEVALIER | Official Trailer | Searchlight Pictures

Chevalier [2LP Vinyl] - Official Purchase Link

Title - Kaleidoscope
Artist - Paul Huang

For his debut album, the violinist b>Paul Huang has chosen to spotlight the colour and poetry of his instrument in a kaleidoscopic recital of sonatas by Saint-Saëns, Respighi, Chopin and Paganini.

Paul Huang is undoubtedly a virtuoso. A graduate of the Juilliard School in New York, winner of the 2011 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, he is already renowned, and has been a guest at the most prestigious venues such as the Kennedy Center and the Lincoln Center.

The sonatas by Saint-Saëns and Respighi are also undeniably virtuosic, and among the most difficult works in the violin repertoire. But virtuosity is not the most important quality that Huang focuses on here: he was initially attracted to the instrument as a young boy for “its sonority and its wonderful lyric qualities.”

A subtle, refined violin - the legendary 1742 ‘ex-Wieniawski’ Guarneri del Gesù - ensures a variety of colour and contrast for this vibrant Romantic programme. Paul Huang deploys a wide, generous palette of emotions bestowing a moving intimacy to Paganini’s famous Cantabile or Chopin’s Nocturne.

Respighi’s too little known sonata vibrates from the initial Moderato with velvety phrasing and controlled interiority, while the sonata by Saint-Saëns assumes the virtuosity of its last two movements with carefree beauty. “I often compare a great instrument to a great painter - its countless nuances enable him to create and recreate his art in countless ways. This is precisely what I feel when playing this violin,” says Paul Huang.

In the pianist Helen Huang, the young Taiwanese violinist has found an attentive partner who delicately enhances his textured playing. Their duets flourish in an atmosphere of confidence that has matured throughout their long collaboration and shared exacting and passionate zest for chamber music. “I would like this album to reflect my love of the violin,” concludes Paul Huang. It certainly does.

1-3 Ottorino Respighi: Violin Sonata in B minor
4 Niccolò Paganini: Cantabile for violin & piano / guitar in D major, Op. 17, MS 109
5-8 Camille Saint-Saëns: Violin Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op. 75
9 Frédéric Chopin: Nocturne No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 9 No. 2

The Respighi and Saint-Saëns Violin Sonatas are both sonatas that are not recorded often, the former opens on the haunting yearn within Moderato, the ornately sculpted Andante espressivo and the sterner fare of the plainspoken Passacaglia. Allegro moderato ma energico, the latter opening on the sincerely earnest Allegro agitato, the delicately hued Adagio, then comes the energetically cheerful Allegro moderato, closing on the fervency found within Allegro molto.

Recorded with his longtime musical partner, pianist Helen Huang, the album also brings us the work of Paganini, and in particular the generously lavish Cantabile for violin & piano / guitar in D major, Op. 17, MS 109, the final piece being Chopin’s languishing hunger within Nocturne No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 9 No. 2.

Paul Huang @ Facebook

Title - Schubert: The Complete Impromptus
Artist - Gerardo Teissonnière

Following his acclaimed album of the Late Sonatas of Beethoven, pianist Gerardo Teissonnière brings his “crystalline sound, formidable technique, and exquisite musical taste” (Cleveland Classical) to The Complete Impromptus of Schubert.

The Steinway Artist Teissonnière says, “Franz Schubert has occupied a very special place in my heart since I first became acquainted with his oeuvre in my young years. He has been my great friend ever since, and my love for his music only grew in scope after my studies with two disciples of its great champion and interpreter, Artur Schnabel. The Impromptus are an exemplary and important cornerstone of the entire piano literature, and it seemed only a natural next choice to record them after my album of Beethoven sonatas.”

Teissonnière will be performing selections from the album in recitals in Cleveland September 17 and October 25, and in San Juan for the Steinway Society of Puerto Rico on December 12.

Four Impromptus, D 899
1. Impromptu in C minor, D 899 No. 1 (Allegro molto moderato)
2. Impromptu in E flat major, D 899 No. 2 (Allegro)
3. Impromptu in G flat major, D 899 No. 3 (Andante)
4. Impromptu in A flat major, D 899 No. 4 (Allegretto)

This beautifully sculpted new recording opens on the ornate magnificence found within Impromptu in C minor, D 899 No. 1 (Allegro molto moderato) and then brings us the sweepingly playful Impromptu in E flat major, D 899 No. 2 (Allegro), the opulently sumptuous Impromptu in G flat major, D 899 No. 3 (Andante), the first half rounding out on the veritably glistening Impromptu in A flat major, D 899 No. 4 (Allegretto).

Four Impromptus, D 935
5. Impromptu in F minor, D 935 No. 1 (Allegro moderato)
6. Impromptu in A flat major, D 935 No. 2 (Allegretto)
7. Impromptu in B flat major, D 935 No. 3 (Andante)
8. Impromptu in F minor, D 935 No. 4 (Allegro scherzando)

The second set opens on the embroidered grandeur of Impromptu in F minor, D 935 No. 1 (Allegro moderato) and then proceeds to bring us the elegant Impromptu in A flat major, D 935 No. 2 (Allegretto), the sweeping Impromptu in B flat major, D 935 No. 3 (Andante), closing on the sprightly Impromptu in F minor, D 935 No. 4 (Allegro scherzando).

Official Purchase Link

Title - Desserts
Artist - Juan Carlos Quintero

I think we can all agree that as with all good meals, sweets are the most memorable and so it is no wonder the critically acclaimed chart-topping release, Table For Five segues so effortlessly to this sequel.

Juan Carlos Quintero’s new album, Desserts expands the music menu producing tasty treats while skillfully blending authentic grooves - originating from South American & Caribbean regions - culminating in a thread of meaningful performances honoring the beauty and breath of Latin-Jazz traditions.

Enticing gems include The Gift, All or Nothing At All, How Insensitive, Tangerine, A Night In Tunisia, Nature Boy and even the crowd favorite, a rather blissful rendition of Van Morrison’s Moondance.

This seasoned Quintet never disappoints as it navigates an array of well-crafted classics re-imagined with newly fine-tuned arrangements. Led by JCQ’s signature guitar voice, the music transcends protocols merging stylish overtures in company with traditions of romance, charm and melody.

1. Tangerine (5:56)
2. The Gift (Recado Bossa Nova) (5:29)
3. Estampa Cubana (4:34)
4. Nature Boy (6:55)
5. Insensatez (How Insensitive) (4:40)
6. Along Came Betty (5:49)
7. Moondance (5:43)
8. Music to Watch Girls By (5:30)
9. All or Nothing at All (7:29)
10. A Night in Tunisia (4:47)

A seamless follow-up that converts to a double-album experience for the listener, the album opens on the magnificent rhythmic hipsway of Tangerine and the melodious The Gift (Recado Bossa Nova) and they are followed by the simply sumptuous Estampa Cubana, the veritably shimmering Nature Boy, and then we get the foot-tapping, finger-snapping delights of Insensatez (How Insensitive).

Prompted by Table For Five, this final course that tops off a delicious five-star feast continues onward with the one-two dance floor swirl of Along Came Betty and their imaginative rendition of Van Morrison’s beloved Moondance, the album rounding out on the forthright Music to Watch Girls By, the languishing All or Nothing at All, coming to a close on the flourishing A Night in Tunisia.

bass/arranger Eddie Resto
piano/arrangerJoe Rotondi
percussion/arranger Joel DeLeon
drums/arrangerAaron Serfaty
guitar/arrangerJuan Carlos Quintero
recorded & mixed by Talley Sherwood
mastered by Peter Doell
produced by Juan Carlos Quintero

Official Purchase Link

Juan Carlos Quintero @ YouTube

Juan Carlos Quintero @ Facebook

Title - The Legacy Tour 2022 [2CD]
Artist - Renaissance

Since the 1970s, Renaissance has recorded fifteen albums while gracing distinguished stages, from Carnegie Hall with The New York Philharmonic to the Royal Albert Hall in London with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestras.

Indeed, even today, the five octave voice of Annie Haslam and brilliant songwriting/musicianship of Michael Dunford remain the core of Renaissance.

In celebration of Annie Haslam’s 75th year, Renaissance are caught live here performing classic Renaissance songs with the remarkable Renaissance Chamber Orchestra and music from Annie’s solo career.

Recorded at the Keswick Theatre Glenside PA USA on October 21st, 2022, there is now this just-released double live audio CD in a fold-out digipack cover with 12-page booklet.

1. Carpet Of The Sun (3:43)
2. Black Flame (6:39)
3. The Sisters (6:39)
4. Ananda (4:26)
5. The Captive Heart (4:46)
6. Symphony Of Light (13:08)
7. Blessing In Disguise (3:42)
8. Celestine (4:41)
9. Reaching Out (3:57)
10. The Angels Cry (4:33)
11. Day Of The Dreamer (10:07)
12. Running Hard (10:26)

The album opens on the emphatically uplifting Carpet Of The Sun and the beautifully angelic vocalizations within Black Flame and then we get the magically nostalgic ambiance of The Sisters, the Eastern-imbibed Ananda, the beautiful piano work that lays the foundation for the sumptuous The Captive Heart, the first disc rounding out on the stirring early acorn of what was to become symphonic rock, the dutiful 13 minute Symphony Of Light.

The second disc of classical/orchestral rock opens on the veritably Choir-hued, ethereal Blessing In Disguise and the gorgeous Celestine and they are in turn backed seamlessly by the harmonically stylistic Reaching Out, the pleasing The Angels Cry (which was written by Justin Hayward, himself having composed it for ABBA’s Agnetha Fältskog), the recording rounding out with the playfully perky, Jon Anderson-esque, ten minute Day Of The Dreamer, coming to a close on a track that perfectly highlights the incredible instrumental work and impressive vocal range of Annie, Running Hard.

Renaissance has had a long history spanning 50 years since it’s formation in 1969. With several personnel changes in the beginning years, the sound of the group eventually matured into a unique blending of folk, rock, and classical music including the integration of a full symphonic orchestra.

Crowning all of this was the sound of the equally unique five-octave voice of Annie Haslam. During their great success in the 70’s the band toured extensively throughout the world in support of their numerous album releases.

Official Purchase Link

Renaissance @ Facebook

Title - Rezurrektion (String Quartets)
Artist - Wayne Alpern

Wayne Alpern is a New York City composer, arranger, and scholar who integrates popular and jazz idioms with classical techniques and repertoire to create a sophisticated contemporary style of cross-genre, or even post-genre music.

After years of composing complex new music, he embraced his personal history and indigenous musical culture and fused them with his classical background and training.

His work includes numerous jazz arrangements, string quartets, woodwind and brass quintets, mixed ensembles, pieces for string orchestra, and several piano works.

His latest endeavor, Rezurrektion (String Quartets), is a renaissance of musical classics, remembered reimaginations transmogrified into past genre string quarters, eclectic sites of colliding recompositions, simultaneous styles, and kaleidoscope counterpoint, resulting innate vitality with revived verve and making what’s old new once more again.

1. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
2. G Minor Quintet
3. A Minor Sonata
4. F Major Sonata
5. C Major Sonata
6. Rent / Holberg
7. Black Beauty
8. Porgy and Bess

The album opens on the of veritably glistening, ornate and yet playfully robust Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and the, believe it or not, foot-tapper G Minor Quintet and they are backed by the sterner, yet nonetheless prosperous A Minor Sonata and the aching balladry yearn found within F Major Sonata.

Along next is the playfully perky, joyous and brilliantly-scored C Major Sonata and that is in turn backed by the opulent Rent / Holberg, the album rounding out on the dutifully forthright Black Beauty, closing on the all-embracing Porgy and Bess.

Official Purchase Link

Wayne Alpern @ Twitter

Wayne Alpern @ Facebook

Wayne Alpern @ Instagram

Title - Aspenrose (Live at the Opera House)
Artist - Herb Silverstein

For those not in the know, Herb Silverstein is a renowned ear surgeon, inventor, avid snow skier, biker, jazz artist, and Founder of Silverstein Institute, and the Ear Research Foundation.

In the early 1980s, one of Herb’s sons introduced him to a recording of Chick Corea, and this began a long love affair with jazz music. Herb began learning jazz piano and playing music with friends and colleagues.

In 1985, he bean writing songs, his keen and analytical mind grasped the chord changes and patterns necessary to make music, but his creative heart and soul carried that knowledge to create some remarkable, beautiful, and memorable memories.

For over 35 years, Dr. Herbert Silverstein has been composing jazz albums to help inspire support for the Ear Research Foundation. His last album, Magic Hands, was his sixteenth entry into his remarkable discography, and reached an impressive #2 on the Top Jazz Chart at NACC, and now we are presented with his seventeenth album of new music, the highly-anticipated Aspenrose (Live at the Opera House).

1. Happy Daze
2. Monday Morning
3. My Way or the Highway
4. My Four-Legged Girlfriend
5. Si Senorita
6. Our Little Secret
7. Synchrony
8. SB Blues
9. She Only Has Eyes for Herb
10. Waiting by the Window
11. Helix 49
12. Zorro

The live recording opens on the ornately dulcet Happy Daze and the happy-go-lucky Monday Morning and they are followed by the melodically buoyant My Way or the Highway, the impassioned My Four-Legged Girlfriend, the melodious Si Senorita and then comes the beautiful balladry of Our Little Secret.

Along next is the dutiful Synchrony and the playful SB Blues and they are in turn backed by the veritably shimmering She Only Has Eyes for Herb, the ornate gossamer of Waiting by the Window, the album rounding out on the concentrated Helix 49, coming to a close on the flourishing Zorro.

Official Purchase Link

Herb Silverstein @ Facebook

Title - Asalto Navideño, Vol. II [180 Gram Vinyl]
Artist - Willie Colón / Héctor Lavoe / Yomo Toro

Craft Latino is thrilled to celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of Latin music’s most beloved Christmas albums, Asalto Navideño, Vol. II. Led by the inimitable duo of Willie Colón and Héctor Lavoe, with the addition of cuatro master Yomo Toro, this classic salsa title includes such festive favorites as “La Banda,” “Doña Santos,” and “Cantemos.”

In stores on September 29th, 2023, Asalto Navideño, Vol. II features lacquers cut from the original master tapes (AAA) by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and is pressed on 180-gram vinyl. The LP is housed in a tip-on jacket, while the original jacket art (featuring Toro as Santa Claus) highlights the musicians’ playful personas.

Fans can also find Asalto Navideño Vol. II in 192/24 hi-res audio on select digital platforms. In addition, an Evergreen color vinyl exclusive is being offered at with exciting bundle options that include new holiday merch.

Asalto Navideño, which literally translates to “Christmas Assault” is named for the Puerto Rican Christmas tradition (also known as a parranda). Similar to the act of caroling, revelers visit their friends and families, singing (typically secular) songs and enjoying refreshments late into the night.

In 1971, three leading Puerto Rican-American musicians (bandleader and trombonist Willie Colón, singer Héctor “El Cantante” Lavoe, and “King of the Cuatro” Yomo Toro) banded together to record their own parranda. The resulting album, which marked the first volume of Asalto Navideño, became a best-seller in the US and Puerto Rico.

As salsa reached its height in New York, fans could not get enough. And so, in 1973, the three musicians reunited with percussionists Milton Cardona and José Mangual Jr. to record even more holiday magic.

As with the first edition of Asalto Navideño, Colón (who also served as producer and arranger) selected eight traditional Puerto Rican country songs (música jíbara) and reimagined them in the salsa tradition, blending them with an array of Afro-Caribbean rhythms (from Cuban guaguancó to Brazilian samba).

Side A:
1. Pescao (Popurri Sambao): Si Se Quema el Monte / Coje el Pandero / Pescao (Samba)
2. Recomendación
3. La Banda
4. Doña Santos ia

Side B:
1. Cantemos
2. Pa’ los Pueblos
3. Arbolito
4. Tranquilidad

In addition to some rather excellent salsa music, percussion instruments played at their finest, and the best singers of (perhaps) all time in Colón, Lavoe and Toro, throughout Vol. II is an air of spirited celebration, as the banda toasts to Christmas, Three Kings Day, and New Year’s Day, while pledging solidarity with their fellow Latin Americans – particularly in songs like “Cantemos” and “Pa’ Los Pueblos.”

These cultured Christmas songs, all with accompaniment from the beloved, renowned Cuatro master himself, Toro, have since become Christmas holiday favorites, nay staples around the world. Sure, now everyone seems to be doing albums like this, but back then this was sewn together with a genuine flair, a lush styling, and more importantly flavor that just doesn’t convey as much today as it did culturally back then.

The biggest highlights of the album, for me personally, are two of the trio’s most enduring and joyful favorites, and which round out the first side of the vinyl LP: “La Banda” and “Doña Santos.” Translating to “the group” or “the gang,” “La Banda” begins with an upbeat piano montuno before the beat kicks in and Lavoe launches into his famous improvisations.

“Doña Santos” continues the party, as the sonero sings about craving roast pig (a traditional menu item at Puerto Rican Christmas gatherings). The song climaxes in another fantastic trombone-cuatro jam by Colón and Toro.

Lavoe had a certain Jibaro thing going on which his voice and together with Willie having the whole trombone mixing down pat, and Toro’s aforementioned Cuatro coming into play, the trio made history (again) with this second volume of Christmas melodies.

At the time both Colón and Lavoe were among Latin music’s most formidable duos – and pioneers of the salsa sound - and that beams through brightly on the Brazilian rhythms and dutiful hipsway of the classic “Arbolito” and the album closer “Tranquilidad”.

In addition to these memorable songs, what made both records so special was the talent involved. At the time, Willie Colón and Héctor Lavoe were among Latin music’s most formidable duos – and pioneers of the salsa sound. Both artists were teenagers when they began working together under Fania Records.

There, they would release a string of best-selling albums, including 1967’s El Malo, 1970’s Cosa Nuestra, and 1973’s Lo Mato. Not long after the second Asalto Navideño odropped, however, Colón and Lavoe would each embark on exciting new phases of their careers. While Colón would hone his talents behind the scenes, Lavoe, who was revered for his bright vocals, seamless phrasing, and ad-libbed anecdotes, was ready to break out on his own as one of the great interpreters of salsa music.

Yomo Toro, meanwhile, was a well-known entertainer in New York City, where he hosted a popular Spanish-language TV show. At the time, he also had regular gigs performing with the celebrated Mexican bolero groups Trio Los Panchos and Los Rivereños, but his work on both Asalto Navideño ralbums would make him an international star.

In addition to becoming a mainstay in the salsa scene and performing with the Fania All-Stars, Toro became a hot commodity in the industry, eventually appearing on more than 150 albums by the likes of Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, and David Byrne.

The impact of Asalto Navideño Vols. I & II cannot be understated. Filtering the classic songs of their youth through a modern, New York City lens, Colón, Lavoe, and Toro paid homage to their Puerto Rican roots, while creating new musical traditions.

Today, both Asalto Navideño mvolumes rank among the top salsa albums of all time, while they remain Christmas staples in Latin American households, passed down from one generation to another.

Official Purchase Links

Title - Genesis
Artist - The Black Gold Orchestra

The Black Gold Orchestra is a 19-piece big band based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 2021 by Grammy-nominated producer, Larry Wilson, this band is an assembly of world class musicians, artists, and music educators.

The collective resume of this ensemble boasts some of the biggest names in music and entertainment, like Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Prince, , Wynton Marsalis, Tyler Perry, George Duke, Pattie Labelle, Usher, Maxwell, Kurt Elling, and Jazzmeia Horn, just to name a few.

Many of them have performed on Grammy-winning and nominated albums, and hold various awards and acclamations to their respective names.

The vision of this collective is to have influence in art, culture, and community. They also seek to bridge generational, socioeconomic, and even racial gaps, and encourage the preservation and innovation of jazz music through community engagement and education.

Their debut album, Genesis, is a dynamic celebration of All Black American music, fusing musical elements such as jazz, R&B, soul, hip hop, house, rock, blues, and gospel through the lens of the big band tradition.

The album features both original compositions from members of the band as well as fresh new arrangements of a few classic covers. Its scheduled release date is September 8th, 2023 on the newly established Sessions Lane Records, based in Atlanta, GA.

1. Gyau (Walton’s Call)
2. On the Move
3. Firm Roots
4. Midnight Oil
5. In the Beginning (Erik’s Flow)
6. The Creation
7. First Sight (Kenny’s Prelude)
8. Intoxicating Beauty
9. Prototype
10. Release
11. Merging Lanes
12. NutVille

The 19-piece band opens their new album on the short, but luxuriantly sweet Gyau (Walton’s Call) and then bursts into life with On the Move and the soulful Firm Roots and then brings us the euphorically vibrant, early on, smooth trumpet R&B later of Midnight Oil, the gorgeous Hammond organ flow of In the Beginning (Erik’s Flow) and then we get the low slung finger-snapper The Creation.

The ornately sculpted ballad First Sight (Kenny’s Prelude) and the aching yearn within Intoxicating Beauty are then themselves backed seamlessly by the inviting Prototype, the atmospherically-charged Release, the album rounding out on the fervent joy of Merging Lanes, closing on the expansively joyous funk-n-soul of NutVille.

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Title - Nohmad
Artist - Seulah Noh Jazz Orchestra

Nohmad is the debut album of Korean composer and pianist, Seulah Noh. Combining her award winning compositions with her incredible band, Nohmad offers a genuine reflection of Noh’s personal experience and a window into some of her influences.

Noh makes a lasting first impression, offering six original compositions and two arrangements on this debut release. From gentle melodies to hard hitting grooves, Noh cultivates an infectious energy that her band carries throughout the record.

Her most recent work, the “Traveler’s Suite” is a reflection of the experiences, impressions, and thoughts she has gathered throughout her time in the United States as a person coming from a different culture.

Nohmad will be the first snapshot of Noh’s compositional work and the beginning of an exciting journey as she continues to work and grow with her band.

1. L’illusionniste (feat. Song Yi Jeon) (8:11)
2. Arrogant or Elegant (6:38)
3. Hear the Light (feat. Astghik Martirosyan) (8:56)
4. Heartsong (6:52)
5. Traveler’s Suite: I. 6829 Miles (7:23)
6. Traveler’s Suite: II. A Letter From Me (5:55)
7. Traveler’s Suite: III. Sail at Dawn (7:44)
8. Have You Heard (feat. Kan Yanabe) (7:55)
9. L’illusionniste (Alternate Take) (8:15)

The South Korean-born composer, pianist, and conductor based in Boston, opens her album on the sweepingly elegant L’illusionniste (feat. Song Yi Jeon) and the ornately sculpted Arrogant or Elegant and they are backed by the fervently harmonized Hear the Light (feat. Astghik Martirosyan), the yearning ache within Heartsong along next.

The three-part Traveler’s Suite opens on the first part, 6829 Miles, a sumptuous gossamer of quiet fluidity, the second, A Letter From Mea, a more stoically seamed piece, the third, Sail at Dawn, a playful, veritably ’60s cinematic ditty, the album rounding out on the strident Have You Heard (feat. Kan Yanabe), coming to a close on a rather luxuriant L’illusionniste (Alternate Take).

Official Purchase Link

Seulah Noh Jazz Orchestra @ YouTube

Seulah Noh @ Instagram

Title - The Oppressed! Oi! Studio Recordings 1981-2018
Artist - The Oppressed!

The band was founded in 1981 in Cardiff (Wales) with brothers Russell and Ronnie Payne in the first line up, joined by his friends Gary Tier and Martin Brennan and they initially took the name of Forced Oppression.

In the meantime, there was another band called Insanity Squad, heir to Section 20, also formed by brothers Dom and Roddy Moreno, Vince King and Ed Fleming. When they later dissolved the band in December 1981, Moreno went to replace Ronnie Payne in The Oppressed.

With the addition of Dom Dominic Moreno on bass and the Kid Lee Jenkins on drums, along with Ducky Russell Payne on guitar, the band recorded their single Victims (Oppressed Records, 1983) and Never Say Die EP (Firm records, 1983). A year later they released their first LP entitled Oi! Oi! Music (Oppressed Records, 1984) and the album Fatal Blow (Oppressed Records, 1984).

In 1984 the group split up to return ten years later live recording the EP Anti Fascist Oi! (Bronco Bullfrog Records, 1994), 5-4-3-2-1 EP (Bronco Bullfrog Records), the re-release of the EP Victims (Bronco Bullfrog Records) as well as Fuck Fascism EP (Anti-Fascist records, 1995) to benefit the Anti-Fascist Action [AFA], and albums such as We Can Do Anything (Step 1, 1994), Music For Hooligans (Step 1, 1996) or More Noize for the Boys (Knockout Records, 2001) among others.

After a season without playing live The Oppressed returned to the stage with a revamped line-up led by Moreno. Roddy Moreno was also the precursor of SHARP (SkinHeads Against Racial Prejudice) in Europe and was the owner of Oi! Records and Ska Records in the eighties.

The just-released The Oppressed! Oi! Studio Recordings 1981-2018 4CD clam shell box-set contains the 113 studio tracks recorded by Welsh Oi! legends The Oppressed within those 37 years.

It features the albums: ‘Oi! Oi! Music’, ‘Fatal Blow’, ‘We Can Do Anything’ and ‘Music For Hooligans’ plus the singles ‘Never Say Die’, ‘Victims’, ‘Anti Fascist Oi!’, ‘Fuck Fascism’, ‘Strength In Unity’, ‘The Noise’, ‘The Insurgence’, ‘Football Violence’ and ‘2 Generations 1 Message’. This box-set also includes tracks culled from rare split compilation albums, many of the songs getting a UK release for the first time. The booklet features detailed liner notes, pictures of every release and an overview by vocalist Roddy Moreno.

1. CF3 2. That’s Alright 3. Living With Unemployment 4. Same Old Story 5. Skinhead Times 6. Garageland 7. When I Was Young 8. All Together Now 9. 5 4 3 2 1 10. No Justice 11. Pressure Drop 12. We’re The Hooligans 13. Substitute 14. Nazi Nightmare 15. Sleeping With The Enemy 16. Fuck Fascism.

To my mind, Oppressed front man Roddy Moreno is one of the most important figures in the anti-racist Oi! scene to continue to make music, and his ideologies are front and foremost on Music for Hooligans.

Put together out of a previously released EP and a handful of covers, Moreno and crew blast through the 16 Oi! anthems like it was 1982 all over again. Claiming that this was the last album of Oi! the band would ever make, it does come off as a final statement in a lot of ways.

Beginning the album with the visceral chant-fest CF3 and ending with the outrageous Fuck Fascism, every song is a politically motivated track designed for singing along and bouncing around the room.

It may not be the final statement on the band (they have a best-of that works better), and it’s not the definitive moment in the genre that they would like it to be (that probably belongs to Oi! The Album), but it is a nice last gasp from a band who always had good intentions all along.

STRENGTH IN UNITY! EP 17. Madness 18. Boots Are Made For Stompin’ 19. Skinhead Girl (New Version) 20. CF3 THE NOISE EP 21. Cum On Feel The Noize 22. Mama Weer All Crazee Now 23. Gudbuy T’Jane FAT SKINS EP 24. The AFA Song 25 Do Anything You Wanna Do ANGELIC UPSTARTS TRIBUTE 26. Solidarity.

CD 2: SKINHEAD UNITY 1. United We Stand 2. Nobody’s Fool 3. Paedophile THE INSURGENCE EP 4. I Don’t Wanna 5. Blue Army 6. I Don’t Wanna (Spanish Version) 7. Blue Army (Instrumental) FOOTBALL VIOLENCE EP 8. Football Violence 9. Remember 10. Low Life 11. Tonight Tonight S.H.A.R.P. AS A RAZOR 12. Antifa Hooligans 13. Monkey Man 14. Brother Louie 2 GENERATIONS EP 15. I Wanna Be Sedated 16. Blitzkrieg Bop SKINS ’N’ PUNKS VOLUME 6 17. Head Kicked In 18. Drunken Skinhead 19. White Flag (New Version) 20. The Greatest Cardiff Rip Off 21. Cardiff Born 22. Bluebirds Unite 23. SHARP Anthem FCK FSCSM (THIS IS ANTI FASCIST OI!) 24. Crucify The Police 25. Enoch Power 26. This Machine 27. Fuck Em All.

The second disc contains six EPs and the album SKINS ’N’ PUNKS VOLUME 6, which was the resurrection of the ‘Skins’n’Punks’ compilation series that got released between 1986 and 1989 by Roddy Moreno’s own Oi! Records.

Back then it also featured six tracks from The Prowlers, but here we get the seven original cuts in all their wondrous punk glory. Interestingly enough, The Oppressed songs here include (at the time) five new ones, a Prowlers cover (Drunken Skinhead) and a new recorded version of White Flag (for the song was originally not recorded with Roddy on vocals, but with Martin Brennan back in 1982).

CD 3: 1981 DEMO 1. Fatal Blow 2. Way Of Life 3. Last Orders 4. Local Constabulary 5. White Flag Oi! THE TAPE 6. Riot 7. Leave Me Alone 8. Joe Hawkins 9. Government 10. It Ain’t Right 11. We’re The Oppressed Oi! Oi! THAT’S YER LOT 12. White Flag (Version 2) NEVER SAY DIE EP 13. Urban Soldiers 14. Ultra-Violence 15. Run From You Oi! Oi! MUSIC LP 16. We’re The Oppressed 17. Leave Me Alone 18. Violent Society 19. Urban Soldiers 20. Chaos 21. Gun Law 22. Riot 23. Joe Hawkins 24. Fight For Your Life 25. Ultra Violence 26. Government Out 27. Run From You 28. Skinhead Girl 29. Don’t Look Back 30. Magistrate.

The third disc is comprised of three EPs, one single (albeit a powerhaus second version of White Flag) and their infamous Oi! Oi! MUSIC LP (itself a prime example of working classical rock which openly expressed opposition to racism and fascism throughout each and every lyric), but for me, the most essential component of the disc is the 6-track Oi! THE TAPE.

Originally a Dead and Buried compilation for fans of the band from 1983, with Roddy now at the helm of the band, we’re in much more familiar territory than the 1981 demo. Here we have anthems like Joe Hawkins and Riot in a rough and ready form, and it’s hard not to be blown away by the fundamental raw power of these songs.

I’m sure anyone who heard this back in ’83 knew there was something special about these guys, but surprisingly the band would never re-record It Ain’t Right, though it was later covered by The Templars.

CD 4: SINGLE 1. Victims 2. Work Together 1984 DEMO 3. Bad Man 4. Angels With Dirty Faces 5. ACAB ANTI FASCIST OI! EP 6. Substitute 7. Nazi Nightmare 8. B.N.P. (Your Full Of Shit) 9. Nazi Skinhead WE CAN DO ANYTHING LP 10. That’s Life 11. Borstal Breakout 12. Hurry Up Harry 13. Sunday Morning Nightmare 14. Evil 15. Sorry 16. Wonderful World 17. 1984 18. We Can Do Anything 19. Police Car 20. Oi! Oi! Oi! 21. I’m Not A Fool 22. King Of The Jungle 23. Skinheads In Stapress 24. Rebels With A Cause 25. Violence In Our Minds 26. Llanrumney Chorus FUCK FASCISM EP 27. Fuck Fascism 28. Sleeping With The Enemy 29. Work Together 1995 5 4 3 2 1 EP 30. Evil In Magaluf.

The fourth and final disc features the quadruple lottery pick of one of each musical output: a single, a demo, a couple of EPs and the full-length balls out, cover punk rock brilliance of WE CAN DO ANYTHING.

Aside from the scattered tracks amongst the single and the EPs, the LP is a standout collection of covers of classic Oi! songs from the likes of Cockney Rejects, Sham, Last Resort and The 4-Skins. And as we all know by now, both the Rejects and Sham have a similar sound of raw ’70s punk that captured the energy of the time before it became just another fashion edge to sell to the masses.

Last Resort have a lot more of a harder, heavier sound as do 4-Skins, whilst Resort play a slow heavy punk sound and 4-Skins are a little faster, but here all the covers are well put together and have the added unique sound of being uniquely The Oppressed.

Official 4CD Purchase Link

The Oppressed! @ Facebook

Title - Handel: Israel in Egypt
Artist - Apollo’s Fire

Apollo’s Fire’s founder and director Jeannette Sorrell is “a masterful musical storyteller” (Seen and Heard International). The Maestra and her acclaimed baroque orchestra add to their distinguished AVIE discography that includes Handel’s Dixit Dominus and Messiah, with her own adaptation of the composer’s oratorio Israel in Egypt.

This colorful orchestral showcase takes the listener on a biblical journey from the Israelites lamentations on the death of Joseph, to the frogs, locusts and diseases that plague the Egyptians, to Moses’ miraculous parting of the Red Sea.

Released on October 6th, 2023, Apollo’s Fire launch the album with a one-night-only performance of Israel in Egypt in their home base of Cleveland, on October 21, before traveling east for a collaboration of the work with the New York Philharmonic on October 25th and 26th.

Joining Sorrell and Apollo’s Fire are sopranos Margaret Carpenter Haigh and Molly Netter, countertenor Daniel Moody, tenor Jacob Perry, baritone Edward Vogel, and the Apollo’s Singers chorus.

1. Handel: Israel in Egypt, HWV 54, Pt I. Lamentations of the Israelites for the Death of Joseph

2. Handel: Israel in Egypt, HWV 54, Pt 2. Exodus

3. Handel: Israel in Egypt, HWV 54, Pt 3. Moses’ Song

This quite incredible, and wholly impassioned new recording begins with Handel: Israel in Egypt, HWV 54, Pt I. Lamentations of the Israelites for the Death of Joseph quintet, and opens on the sternly fortified Sinfonia, the tentatively sculpted The sons of Israel do mourn (Chorus), the euphorically-charged How is the mighty fall’n (Chorus), then comes the sprightly The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance (Solo & Chorus), culminating on the sombre, veritably ethereal ache of Their bodies are buried in peace (Chorus).

Next comes a set of ten pieces that make up Handel: Israel in Egypt, HWV 54, Pt 2. Exodus, which itself opens on the impassioned Now there arose a new king over Egypt (Recitativo) and the haunting And the children of Israel sighed (Solo & Chorus) and they are then in turn backed by the informative Then sent he Moses (Recitativo), the sprightly Their land brought forth frogs (Aria), the sternly atmospheric He spake the word (Chorus), the ornately melodic He gave them hailstones for rain (Chorus), before we are brought forth the stirring He sent a thick darkness over all the land (Solo & Chorus), the heated He smote all the first-born of Egypt (Chorus), before rounding out on the profound He rebuked the Red Sea (Chorus) and the dashing But the waters overwhelmed their enemies (Chorus).

The final piece is Handel: Israel in Egypt, HWV 54, Pt 3. Moses’ Song, a thirteen piece set that opens with the strident Moses and the children of Israel sung this song unto the Lord (Chorus), the emotional The Lord is my strength and my song (Duet), the intense 48 second He is my God and I will prepare him a habitation (Chorus), and then brings us the jubilant To God our strength, sing loud and clear (Aria & Chorus), the harmonic The depths have covered them (Chorus), the free-flowing Thy right hand, O Lord (Chorus), before bringing forth the blessed The enemy said, I will pursue (Aria).

Up next is the low slung ache within Thou didst blow with the wind (Aria) and the haunting Who is like unto thee (Chorus), and they are followed by the quite celestial in make up Thou in thy mercy hast led forth thy people (Duet), the recording coming to a most righteous close on the forthright The people shall hear, and be afraid (Chorus), the blooming Thou shalt bring them in (Aria), and, finally, the emphatically jubilant The Lord shall reign forever and ever (chorus); arias and recitatives.

Jeannette Sorrell’s new adaptation of Handel’s neglected oratorio has won rave reviews. In addition to being a colorful showpiece for the virtuoso players and chorus of Apollo’s Fire, the work is a gripping emotional journey – from plagues and pyramids to the crossing of the Red Sea… The Israelites’ daring escape from Egypt comes to life with reverence and triumph through Handel’s sumptuous music.

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Apollo’s Fire @ Instagram

Title - Rachmaninoff Gershwin: Transcriptions by Earl Wild
Artist - John Wilson

If the second solo album by young American pianist John Wilson had a title, it might well be “Virtuoso,” for that description permeates John’s musical selections as well as his dynamic interpretations.

John follows in the footsteps of previous pianistic giants Sergei Rachmaninoff, George Gershwin and Earl Wild, all of whom have contributions on this new release – indeed the pedigree of these composer-arranger-pianists runs through John’s musical DNA.

One of the first pieces John learned was Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, the work with which Earl Wild made a spectacular debut with Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra, a live broadcast that made front page news.

Wild’s renowned re-workings of Gershwin’s music for the stage is represented here by the Fantasy on ‘Porgy and Bess’, alongside Gershwin’s own Three Preludes for solo piano. Wild also turned his hand to solo piano arrangements of Rachmaninoff’s soulful songs which John feels a close affinity for thanks to his frequent collaborations with vocalists.

This album follows John’s acclaimed recent solo debut, Upon Further Reflection which features music of his mentor Michael Tilson Thomas, Aaron Copland and Earl Wild arrangements of George Gershwin songs.

Songs transcribed for the piano by Earl Wild
1. Dreams Op.38 No.5 (3:36)
2. Floods of Spring Op.14 No.1 (3:48)
3. The Little Island Op.14 No.2 (1:58)
4. Midsummer Nights Op.14 No.5 (3:36)
5. O, Cease Thy Singing Op.4 No.4 (4:21)
6. On the Death of a Linnet Op.21 No.8 (4:59)
7. Do Not Grieve Op.14 No.8 (3:30)

The first of the dutifully-crafted trio is from Sergei Rachmaninoff (songs transcribed for the piano by Earl Wild) and opens on the delicate Dreams Op.38 No.5, the flourishing Floods of Spring Op.14 No.1 and the shimmering The Little Island Op.14 No.2 and then we are brought forth the sterner fare of Midsummer Nights Op.14 No.5, the ornate beauty within O, Cease Thy Singing Op.4 No.4, the work rounding out on the fluttering On the Death of a Linnet Op.21 No.8 and the free-flowing Do Not Grieve Op.14 No.8.

3 Preludes
8. I Allegro ben ritmato e deciso (1:25)
9. II Andante con moto e poco rubato (3:45)
10. III Allegro ben ritmato e deciso (1:09)

Next are three from George Gershwin (3 Preludes), of which the sprightly Allegro ben ritmato e deciso leads the way, backed by the more diligent Andante con moto e poco rubato, the work culminating with the jaunty Allegro ben ritmato e deciso.

Fantasy on Porgy and Bess based on the opera Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin
11. Introduction (0:12)
12. Jasbo Brown Blues (1:37)
13. Summertime (3:03)
14. Oh, I Can’t Sit Down (1:28)
15. My Man’s Gone Now (3:25)
16. I Got Plenty o’Nuttin’ (2:34)
17. Buzzard Song (2:02)
18. It Ain’t Necessarily So (3:35)
19. Bess, You Is My Woman (2:34)
20. I Loves You, Porgy/Bess, You Is My Woman (2:01)
21. There’s a Boat Dat’s Leavin’ Soon for New York (2:26)
22. Oh Lawd, I’m on My Way (1:23)

The final work is from Earl Wild (fantasy on Porgy and Bess based on the opera Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin), and opens on the low slung, twelve second Introduction and the wildly joyous Jasbo Brown Blues, before quietening things down on Summertime, raising the tempo once again on the melodious Oh, I Can’t Sit Down, the astute pairing of both My Man’s Gone Now and the lively I Got Plenty o’Nuttin’.

Along next is a more sombre, although at times flighty rendition of Buzzard Song and the sternly sculpted It Ain’t Necessarily So and they are in turn backed by the languishing Bess, You Is My Woman, the third, and final work rounding out on the diligent I Loves You, Porgy/Bess, You Is My Woman, the captivating two-step rhythms within There’s a Boat Dat’s Leavin’ Soon for New York, closing on a cheerful Oh Lawd, I’m on My Way.

Amazon Purchase Link

John Wilson @ Instagram

Title - O Sole Mio: Mandolin Concertos & Songs
Artist - Julien Martineau

On September 29th, 2023 mandolinist Julien Martineau’s latest album, O Sole Mio will be released on naïve classiques. Martineau here fulfills his lifelong dream of recording concertos by Vivaldi, Hummel, Raffaele Calace, with the Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse under conductor Wilson Ng.

In addition to performing works with orchestra, Martineau collaborates with baritone Florian Sempey, guitarists Éric Franceries and Philippe Mouratoglou, double bassist Yann Dubost, and mandolinist Anna Schivazappa on pieces by Paganini and Mozart, and well-known Neapolitan songs including the infamous title track, O Sole Mio.

Central to the album is Calace’s Concerto for mandolin No. 1 – originally written with piano accompaniment – for which Martineau commissioned a new orchestration from composer Thibault Perrine. “In my opinion,” says Martineau, “Raffaele Calace is the central figure in the history of the mandolin, a kind of founding father of the instrument.”

Though Martineau says there was plenty of “charming” mandolin repertoire before his time, Calace added a new means of expression for the instrument, “developing a diabolical level of virtuosity.”

“We are fortunate to have a wonderful body of writing for the mandolin, which is still little explored,” says Martineau. “For every recording I am able to choose just those pieces that I consider to be chefs-d’oeuvre, whereas a pianist of a violinist often has to think twice about venturing into territories served up by an already plethoric discography: that is real freedom.”

Vivaldi - Concerto Per 2 Mandolini, Archi E Organo RV 532 I. Allegro
Vivaldi - Concerto Per 2 Mandolini, Archi E Organo RV 532 II. Andante
Vivaldi - Concerto Per 2 Mandolini, Archi E Organo RV 532 III. Allegro
Di Capua, Mazzucchi, Capurro - O Sole Mio
Valente, Tagliaferri - Passione
Calace - Concerto N°1 Op. 113 I. Marziale
Calace - Concerto N°1 Op. 113 II. Largo Tranquillo
Calace - Concerto N°1 Op. 113 III. Rondo
Paganini - Sonata Per Rovene MS 14 Introduzione, Largo Andante Sostenuto
Paganini - Sonata Per Rovene MS 14 Andantino Brillante
Paganini - Serenata MS 16 Larghetto
Paganini - Serenata MS 16 Andantino
Mozart - Don Giovanni 16. Canzonetta
Hummel - Concerto En Sol Majeur S 28 I. Allegro Moderato E Grazioso
Hummel - Concerto En Sol Majeur S 28 II. Andante Con Variazioni
Hummel - Concerto En Sol Majeur S 28 III. Rondo

This most beautiful of works opens on Vivaldi’s Concerto Per 2 Mandolini, Archi E Organo RV 532, and the stirring Allegro, the pristine, ornate Andante, and then the delightful swirl found within Allegro. The next piece is the Di Capua, Mazzucchi, Capurro titular piece O Sole Mio, a most dutifully work of musical gossamer and that is followed by the smoldering Valente, Tagliaferri work Passione.

Along next is the Raffaele Calace work Concerto N°1 Op. 113, which opens on the emboldened Marziale, then goes into the atmospheric Largo Tranquillo, ending with the striking Rondo. Niccolò Paganini’s Sonata Per Rovene MS 14 opens on the sumptuous Introduzione, Largo Andante Sostenuto and then gives us the playful Andantino Brillante, before we are lovingly brought forth the impassioned Serenata MS 16 Larghetto and then the heartfelt Andantino.

The recording rounds out on the delicate Mozart solo piece Don Giovanni 16. Canzonetta, before closing on the Johann Nepomuk Hummel work Concerto En Sol Majeur S 28, which first gives us the sprightly Allegro Moderato E Grazioso, the alluring Andante Con Variazioni, ending on the captivating Rondo.

Concerto for 2 Mandolins in G Major, RV 532: II. Andante

Apple Purchase Link

Title - Phenomena Recovered
Artist - Merv Spence

For those unaware, Merv Spence is a former member of Wishbone Ash and Trapeze as well as an established solo artist who will be touring to support the release of his brand new album, Phenomena Recovered which is also fully supported by a worldwide marketing campaign.

Phenomena is an all-star series of albums created by Tom Galley which saw its debut album sell 1.2 million copies, and its follow-up deliver a #1 hit single ‘Did It All For Love’. Spence is the former rights owner of the Phenomena albums and previously recorded his own renditions of the best-known songs.

This brand new recording features all of Merv Spence’s covers of the Phenomena tracks, both previously released and newly recorded.

1. Still The Night
2. What About Love?
3. Phoenix Rising
4. A Whole Lot of Love
5. Believe
6. Did It All For Love
7. Stop!
8. It Must Be Love
9. No Retreat, No Surrender
10. Shape It Up
11. Slave (1993 Version)
12. Dance With The Devil (2023 Recording)
13. Rock My Soul (2023 Recording)

The album opens on the atmospherically-charged rocker Still The Night and the soaring rock ballad What About Love? and then brings us the almost Gospel-hued track Phoenix Rising, the melodic A Whole Lot of Love, and then we get the Journey-esque pairing of both the synth-guitar rockers Believe and Did It All For Love.

The powerful Stop! and the veritably translucent ballad It Must Be Love are up next and are in turn followed by the propelent No Retreat, No Surrender, the ’80s guitar rock of Shape It Up, the album rounding out on the AOR of the 1993 hit Slave (1993 Version), closing on two brand new recordings: the Celtic-hued Dance With The Devil and the shimmering rock ballad Rock My Soul.

Lead singer, musician & music producer Merv Spence says of the release: “Phenomena Recovered is a very important album for me. A lot of creative blood, sweat and tears went into producing these songs and the results make me feel incredibly proud. I embraced the challenge, and gave it my own signature. I hope Phenomena fans will also embrace this production, and I look forward to performing these great songs live, both in a band capacity and solo, acoustically”.

Official Purchase Link

Title - Think Pink 5
Artist - Twink

Think Pink V is the brand new studio album from psychedelic rock icon Twink, best known as a member of Tomorrow, The Pink Fairies and The Pretty Things.

His seminal 1970 solo album ‘Think Pink’ is held in high regard as one of the founding albums of the psychedelic genre and now Twink returns with ‘Think Pink 5’, the next installment of this epic journey, recorded in 2022 and mixed in early 2023.

Twink (real name John Alder, though I believe he converted to Islam around sixteen years ago and is also known as Mohammed Abdullah) has played integral parts in two of my favorite bands, The Pretty Things and The Pink Fairies. I’ll get to them both at some point, I’m sure, but it’s as a solo artist he’s celebrated here.

John Alder, as he was simply known as at that time, started drumming for local Colchester R&B band Dane Stephens & The Deep Beats in 1963. On signing a deal with Decca, they changed their name to The Fairies and cut three singles, each of which are now well sought after.

Following the band split, John joined The Santa Barbara Machine for a while, before drumming for the third line-up of The In Crowd who would soon morph into Tomorrow.

It was with Tomorrow, one of UK’s foremost psychedelic bands of the era, that John (having by now adopted the nom de stage of ‘Twink,’) began to make a name for himself. (This was the band that featured future Yes guitarist Steve Howe and Keith West – he of he legendary ‘Excerpt From a Teenage Opera’ which reached #2 in the UK singles chart in August 1967).

Sadly, for all their Swinging Sixties ‘cred,’ Tomorrow didn’t last out the psychedelic era and disbanded in April 1968. Twink the formed Aquarian Age a psychedelic band featuring Nicky Hopkins who would go on to play piano with so many bands, most notably perhaps The Rolling Stones. They released just one single in the UK, ‘10,000 Words in a Cardboard Box,’ a reworking of which appeared on Twink’s solo album ‘Think Pink’ and is showcased below.

As seemed to be the pattern, Twink’s involvement with a band didn’t last very long and when Aquarian Age folded, he was on the move again. By chance, and by being conveniently available at just the right time, he was asked to join The Pretty Things for a gig in Germany; he remained with the band for about eighteen months!

During that spell with The Pretty Things, Twink was approached by Seymour Stein, the founder of Sire Records, with a view to recording a solo album. And so it was in 1970, using some experimental demos and an unpublished Aquarian Age track – ‘Tiptoe On The Highest Hill’ – the wonderful ‘Think Pink‘ album was born, with the help of Mick Farren (The Deviants) and close pal, Steve Peregrine Took (ex-Tyrannosaurus Rex.)

In fact, those three were the early incarnation of The Pink Fairies, though after a disastrous start to their gigging career, Twink dispensed with his two friends’ services and hired the remaining Deviants players: Paul Rudolph (guitar); Russell Hunter (drums) and Duncan Sanderson (bass).

And the rest, as they say, is history.

1. Sun Is A Star
2. Love Is A Killer
3. Silver White Horses
4. Fool Moon
5. All I Need Is You
6. Rainbow Warriors
7. My Rose
8. Neptune’s Tune
9. Lost And Found
10. Revolution Now

With Twink’s recordings always being an amazing mix of psychedelia, poetry and tales of fairies and, in the past, Gandalf, here on Think Pink V the musical experimentation continues onward from the off, with the spoken word, latterly Eastern-hued Sun Is A Star, the smooth funk of Love Is A Killer, and then come the veritably shimmering Silver White Horses, the lushly orchestrated Fool Moon and the beautiful ballad All I Need Is You.

Up next is the guitar rocker Rainbow Warriors which is in turn backed by the rousing My Rose, the fervent foot tapper Neptune’s Tune, the album rounding out on the languishing Lost And Found, closing on the Eastern-imbibed Revolution Now.

Twink was playing tour dates around the world, even in countries such as China, before lockdown and he’s now looking forward to returning to the live scene armed with this album of new material.

Twink says of the release: “The time of Five has arrived. I am wondering what you will make of it? That’s the same question I had when the original Think Pink was finished in 1969 and released in the US in 1970 & in the UK in 1971. It has been fabulous working with Ed Sykes & Dionne Corona again. We did have fun putting it together.”

Official Purchase Link

Title - Ombres & Lumieres
Artist - JJ Chardeau

For those unaware, JJ Chardeau is an unclassifiable artist, prolific singer-songwriter, quirky art-pop dandy, the character is unique, atypical and intriguing.

The irreducible doesn’t give a damn about labels and for three decades has pursued his creative deliriums off the beaten track, at the antipodes of the marketing and trendy buzz.

His brand new studio album, and which is itself the second part of his rock opera ‘Magical Musical Man,’ is titled Ombres & Lumieres and features guest appearances from: Danny Seraphine and Jason Schef (Chicago), Mark Andes (Spirit), John McFee (Doobie Brothers), John Helliwell (Supertramp), Jerry Goodman (Mahavishnu), John Jorgensen (Hellcasters), Francis, Christian and Tristan Decamps (Ange), Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson), Eric Troyer (ELO and Dave Gregory (INXS).

1. Donibane Lohitzue
2. Eire
3. Iceland & Fire
4. Scandinavia
5. Sur Le Dam
6. Over The Channel
7. Belux Concerto
8. Swing Heil
9. Tyrol Canon Snow Dance
10. Clich Suisse
11. Lisbonne Is Dying
12. Reconquista
13. Seborga
14. Edossa Fakelaki

The new recording opens on the rhythmically-charged, almost strident Donibane Lohitzue and a dutiful, languishing ache found driving Eire forward, and they are backed by the impassioned guitar and string piece Iceland & Fire, veritably crystalline, latterly Celtic-hued Scandinavia, the flourishing Sur Le Dam, and then we get the ELO-esque harmonies of Over The Channel and the classically sumptuous, stirring Belux Concerto.

Along next is the playful rock-blues-pop sounds of Swing Heil and the profoundly sculpted Tyrol Canon Snow Dance and they are in turn backed by the Westernized Clich Suisse, the melodically-sung Lisbonne Is Dying, the at first Latin-imbibed, latterly uproarious Reconquista, the album rounding out on the atmospherically layered Seborga, and the Greek-hued Edossa Fakelaki (which, in Greek, translates to I paid a bribe).

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Title - The Rubettes: The Singles 1974-77 [2CD]
Artist - The Rubettes

The Rubettes: The Singles 1974-77 is a 38-track double CD that including all nine of 70s pop legends The Rubettes’ hit singles.

‘Sugar Baby Love’ hit No.1 across Europe when first released in 1974 as well as No.2 in Australia and No.37 in the USA. It was followed by Top Ten hits ‘Juke Box Jive’ (No.3), ‘I Can Do It’ (No.7) and ‘Baby I Know’ (No.10) as well as Top 30 entries for ‘Tonight’, ‘Foe-Dee-Oh-Dee’, ‘Little Darling’ and ‘You’re The Reason Why’.

As well as the hits, this release contains rarer ‘side projects’ such as the three singles as a duo by members John Richardson and Alan Williams as well as keyboardist Bill Hurd’s only solo 45.

Informative liner notes plus picture sleeves from around the globe are a feature of the deluxe booklet.

CD 1:
1. Sugar Baby Love
2. You Could Have Told Me
3. Tonight
4. Silent Movie Queen
5. Saturday Night
6. Juke Box Jive
7. When You’re Falling In Love
8. I Can Do It
9. If You’ve Got The Time
10. At The High School Hop Tonight
11. Foe-Dee-Oh-Dee
12. With You
13. Little Darling
14. Miss Goodie Two Shoes
15. I Still Love You (as Alan & John)
16. Love Bonds (as Alan & John)
17. Take Good Care Of My Baby (as Alan & John)
18. The Price Of Living (as Alan & John)

The first set opens on the timeless, and complete with fantastic vocal range, hit single Sugar Baby Love and the smooth as silk You Could Have Told Me and they are backed by the mid-tempo, free-flowing balladry of Tonight, the beautiful Silent Movie Queen, the rock and roller Saturday Night, the lively pop-rock of Juke Box Jive, the fervent When You’re Falling In Love, and then we get both the teenage bop of I Can Do It and the sugary, country-rock candy of If You’ve Got The Time.

Along next is the rambunctious rocker At The High School Hop Tonight and the foot-tapping, finger-snapping delights of Foe-Dee-Oh-Dee and they are in turn backed by a B-side that should have become a hit of its own, With You, the seductive Little Darling, the guitar rocker Miss Goodie Two Shoesand the disc rounds out with a quartet as Alan & John: the lush ballad I Still Love You, the dutiful Love Bonds, the sweeping harmonies of Take Good Care Of My Baby, and closes on the simply gorgeous, albeit sung with a strained vocal, The Price Of Living.

CD 2:
1. You’re The Reason Why
2. Julia
3. Under One Roof
4. Sign Of The Times
5. Fools And Lovers (Bill Hurd)
6. Everybody Knows (Bill Hurd)
7. Allez Oop
8. Rock Is Dead
9. Dark Side Of The World
10. Baby I Know
11. Dancing In The Rain
12. Married (as Richards ‘N’ Williams)
13. Who Makes The World Go Round? (as Richards ‘N’ Williams)
14. Ladies Of Laredo
15. I’m In Love With You
16. Ooh-La-La
17. I Really Got To Know
18. Come On Over
19. Let Him Bleed
20. Cherie Amour

The second disc opens on the soaring pop-rock of You’re The Reason Why and the rocking album cut Julia and they are followed by the country-pop cut Under One Roof, the Beatles-eque Sign Of The Times, then come two solo cuts from The Rubettes’ keyboardist Bill Hurd, the romantic hipsway of Fools And Lovers and the jaunty Everybody Knows, and then we get back to the band, and next is their upbeat Allez Oop, the glam rocker Rock Is Dead, the lyrical escapism of Dark Side Of The World and the soft pop track Baby I Know.

Along next is the melodic one-two pop-rock punch of Dancing In The Rain and, as Richards ‘N’ Williams we are brought forth the sweetness within Married and the hand-clapper Who Makes The World Go Round?, and then the band brings us the harmonica-driven balladry of Ladies Of Laredo, the quietly Disco-driven I’m In Love With You, the drum-fed Ooh-La-La, the underrated I Really Got To Know, the collection rounding out on the Eagles-esque Come On Over, the Garfunkel-imbibed Let Him Bleed, closing on the joyously impassioned Cherie Amour.

Official 2CD Purchase Link

Title - Borrowed Roses
Artist - Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Top Stop Music is thrilled to announce the September 15th, 2023 release of Borrowed Roses, the new release from GRAMMY Award-winning master pianist and song interpreter Gonzalo Rubalcaba.

The latest in his expansive discography, Borrowed Roses is an evocative solo venture, with Rubalcaba offering his distinctive take on twelve standards and popular songs.

Borrowed Roses is Rubalcaba’s third solo piano album, and his first-ever devoted entirely to the canons of the Great American and Great Jazz Songbooks.

Not that he’s unfamiliar with either idiom: Rubalcaba’s very first album, recorded in Havana in 1986 with his pioneering Grupo Proyecto, included an intense arrangement of “Green Dolphin Street” while his Blue Note/Somethin’ Else discography of the 1990s includes a vertiginous cross-cultural homage to bebop with Ron Carter and Julio Barreto (Diz), and virtuosic interpretations of signpost songs like “All The Things You Are,” “Here’s That Rainy Day,” “Yesterdays,” “Caravan,” “Giant Steps” and, most famously, an “Autumn Leaves” with John Patitucci and Jack DeJohnette at the 1991 Mount Fuji Jazz Festival.

1. Chelsea Bridge
2. Summertime
3. Someone To Watch Over Me
4. Take Five
5. Here There and Everywhere
6. Windows
7. Lush Life
8. Night and Day
9. In a Sentimental Mood
10. Very Early
11. Do It Again
12. Shape of My Heart

With the idea for this new album having been first conceived in 2019, but was put on hold due to the pandemic, it opens here on the low slung Chelsea Bridge and the languishing Summertime and then proceeds to bring us the ornate Someone To Watch Over Me, the quietly fervent Take Five and then we get some pure, unadulterated gossamer found within Here There and Everywhere.

Along next is the softly sparkling Windows and the late night soiree of Lush Life and they are backed seamlessly by the playful Night and Day, a clutched stillness now found within In a Sentimental Mood, the album rounding out on the perky Very Early, the impassioned Do It Again, closing on the exquisite Shape of My Heart.

Now, with the evocatively titled Borrowed Roses, Rubalcaba has created a masterpiece in response to a well-conceived proposition. It came from Gregory Elias, the proprietor of Top Stop Music, who recruited Rubalcaba to play on Aymée Nuviola’s Best Tropical Grammy-winning 2019 release Journey Through Cuban Music and, in 2020, released their kinetic, Grammy-nominated Viento Y Tiempo: Live at Blue Note Tokyo collaboration, which preceded their sublime voice-piano duo, Live in Marciac, issued by Rubalcaba on his imprint label 5Passion, which won the 2022 Latin Grammy.

“I have followed Gonzalo for many years,” says Elias, a drummer and lyricist as a young man, before he entered the worlds of law and finance. “There are other piano players from Cuba who are immensely talented, but he is one of a kind. Perhaps because he’s lived for so long in America, he’s absorbed and assimilated a lot of genres from abroad and combined them with his Cuban education. I wanted him to do something with songs that are evergreens, that matter to the American public, whether it’s jazz or not.”

Spotify Purchase Link

Gonzalo Rubalcaba @ Facebook

Title - A Nuyorican Tale
Artist - Carlos Henriquez

Acclaimed GRAMMY Award-nominated bassist and composer Carlos Henriquez is thrilled to present his fourth album as a bandleader, A Nuyorican Tale.

Following in the footsteps of his GRAMMY-nominated release The South Bronx Story, Henriquez’s new album is rooted in Nuyorican culture, and shines a light on the complex history of Puerto Ricans in New York City.

Joining Henriquez on this important new work is vocalist and flutist Jeremy Bosch, trumpeters Mike Rodriguez and Terrell Stafford, trombonist Marshall Gilkes, tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, pianist Robert Rodriguez, percussionist Anthony Almonte, and drummer Obed Calvaire. A Nuyorican Tale releases independently on September 15th, 2023.

Connection to the ancestors is a major tenant of A Nuyorican Tale, and a driving force behind the bassist’s latest work. Henriquez told journalist Ed Morales in a recent article in the New York Times: “I’m working on my next album and I realize we’re right in the middle of this neighborhood that used to be called San Juan Hill.”

“And then I find out, we used to live here, with African Americans, and Benny Carter wrote a suite called Echoes of San Juan Hill, and Thelonious Monk used to play here. I came to realize how valuable this neighborhood was, and I found this out because I was yearning to find my connection to jazz.”

1. Nuyorican Souls
2. Bodegas Groove
3. Latin Gemini
4. Afro-Monk
5. My Isla Bonita
6. Chankalet’s Blues
7. Robert’s Red Line
8. Ritmo’s
9. Winds of Change

With the idea for this new album having been first conceived in 2019, but was put on hold due to the pandemic, it opens here on the rhythmically smooth Nuyorican Souls (which discusses Puerto Rican’s as an unseen child) and the hipsway of Bodegas Groove (which comes complete with a stand alone solo from trumpeter Terrel Stafford, and where the bodega delis Henriquez grew up around are tipped the hat) and then proceeds to bring us some enchanted melodies within Latin Gemini, and the upright bass-led Afro Monk (which is not only a combination of American jazz with an Afro-Cuban vibe, but pays respect to the great Thelonius Monk).

Along next on this collection of tracks where these Latin-Jazz interpretations of the stories that he feels are the pinnacle and representation of his life, is the languishing My Isla Bonita and the forthright Chankalet’s Blues and they are backed seamlessly by the foot-tapping, finger-snapping Robert’s Red Line (which is based on a true story about New York City’s redlining and how the government labeled San Juan Hill a slum), the album rounding out on the intoxicating Ritmo’s, closing on the atmopsherically-charged Winds of Change.

“A Nuyorican Tale is more than just music. It is a three-dimensional acknowledgment of souls from Africa, and our native Taino family all blended as one. When you combine these, you experience a Nuyorican: one who carries the torch and bears the rhythmic souls of our ancestors.”

Spotify Purchase Link

Carlos Henriquez @ Facebook

Title - Pulses
Artist - Elsa Nilsson’s Band of Pulses

Ears and Eyes Records is excited to announce the October 6th, 2023 release of Pulses, the groundbreaking new album from visionary flutist-composer Elsa Nilsson and her latest creative outfit Band of Pulses.

What is the line that makes sound, music? Nilsson, along with pianist Santiago Leibson, bassist Marty Kenney and drummer Rodrigo Recabarren, seek to answer that question in Pulses, a riveting eight-part suite based and built on the rhythmic and melodic aspects of Dr. Maya Angelou’s voice.

Awarded a Chamber Music America New Jazz Works Grant, Pulses explores the intersection between jazz and communication by highlighting the subtle melodic development and deep groove in Dr. Angelou’s reading of her poem “On The Pulse of Morning”.

Crafted, composed, and improvised around Dr. Angelou’s pitch and phrasing, Pulses is an impressive creative experiment that brings to light the full depth of her sonic and poetic brilliance.

“I’ve always been drawn to Dr. Angelou’s work,” says Nilsson. “What I find compelling is her ability to look directly at difficult topics and approach them with both compassion and honesty. Her unflappable clarity in her expression of everything from the beautiful to the brutal is something I work to embody on my instrument as well. I return to her work often in order to guide myself back to center, and find a path forward in making art that feels genuine.”

1. Pulse
2. The River, Rock, Tree
3. Bruising Darkness
4. Praying For A Dream
5. Root
6. The River, Rock, Tree Reprise
7. Faced With Courage
8. Up And Out

With the seeds for Pulses having been first planted about three years ago, when Recabarren shared a clip of Dr. Angelou’s seminal recitation of “On The Pulse of Morning” at Bill Clinton’s inauguration with Elsa, as they were both working on musical projects inspired by the spoken word, this new recording opens on the hauntingly Avant-garde Pulse and the historically informative The River, Rock, Tree, and then brings us the rhythmically jaunty Bruising Darkness and the skittishly playful Praying For A Dream.

On an album having been made possible with the support from the Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works program funded through the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, along next is the swirlingly melodic Root and an ornate The River, Rock, Tree Reprise, the recording rounding out on the heady ebb and flow of Faced With Courage, closing on the atmospherically-charged, electronically-hued instrumental Up And Out.

Dr. Maya Angelou stood on the national mall on January 20th, 1993 to mark the presidential inaugural celebrating the 1992 election of Bill Clinton as the 40th President of The United States of America. Looking out onto the crowd gathered for the occasion, she scanned the sea of bodies before looking toward the horizon, where she envisioned the collective pain of the country’s fraught past as a more just, equitable future.

Angelou’s poem On The Pulse of Morning found her calling out to an America that enacts the concepts of liberty, equality and fraternity as lived ideals instead of lofty ornamentation just close enough to the eye to induce wonder but hovering above us, perpetually out of reach.

An America honest enough about a legacy of settler colonialism and separatism to finally be unbound by it. An America first founded, in earnest, with little more than the elements that populate the opening words of her speech: “A rock, a river, a tree...”.

Bandcamp Purchase Link

Elsa Nilsson @ Facebook

Title - Coffin/Perlson/Krauss
Artist - Coffin/Perlson/Krauss

Ear Up Records is excited to announce the September 15th, 2023 release of Coffin/Perlson/Krauss – the brainchild of three virtuosic musical masters: renowned saxophonist Jeff Coffin, revered drummer Jordan Perlson and bass legend Viktor Krauss.

This nine-track debut of all original music is a thrilling sonic odyssey that showcases undeniable musicianship and boundless artistic expression.

Coffin, Perlson and Krauss first started playing together in 2020. Like many great musical combos, their union came together by chance. “I needed a bassist to fill in for someone on a trio gig and I reached out to Viktor,” says Coffin. “I was pleasantly surprised he was available, as he’s usually incredibly busy due to his touring and studio commitments. He’s long been one of my favorite bassists and his tone and feel are like no other I’ve ever heard.”

The drummer on the gig was Jordan Perslon, one of Coffin’s first-call musical compatriots and frequent collaborator. The connection among the trio was evident instantly. “There is a special musical chemistry that permeates with Jordan and Jeff that generates a sum greater than its parts,” Krauss reflects.

Coffin agrees. “It’s not often that ‘the magic’ suddenly happens and the bells go off and the stars align but it happened that first day we all three got together to work on the music.” He described the atmosphere as warm, and closely locked in. “We all love listening to each other play and we’re excited to hear what surprises lurk around the corner when we improvise.”

During the pandemic, the three Nashville based musicians formed a social pod, and made playing together a regularity as long as they were safe to do so. Gifted with time, the trio decided to record at Krauss’ home studio to officially document this special collaboration, eventually settling on seven compositions and two solo works.

1. On The Precipice Of Change
2. Moonchild
3. Say It Seems
4. Quiet
5. A Handful Of Beans
6. Rusty Fortune
7. Overcast
8. Su Filindeu #6
9. Here To Be Me

The album opens on the luxuriant On The Precipice Of Change (inspired by the turmoil and conflict of the present day) and the languishing Moonchild (written for Jeff’s wife), and then brings us the joyful Say It Seems, the sinewy Quiet (which is the centerpiece of a meditative three-part rumination inspired by the early days of the pandemic, Songs of Solitude), and then comes the cultured A Handful Of Beans (inspired by sonic explorer Wayne Shorter).

Along next is the buoyant and groove-laden solo feature for Perlson, Rusty Fortune and the hauntingly ethereal album’s lead single, and an outstanding feature for Coffin on bass flute, Overcast, and they are in turn backed by the impassioned, thoughtful solo feature for Krauss on Su Filindeu #6, the album coming to a close on the rousing get together Here To Be Me.

Coffin/Perlson/Krauss comes during a particularly fruitful period for the three musicians. Jeff Coffin remains one of the busiest musicians on the scene, touring worldwide with the Dave Matthews Band while releasing a steady stream of invigorating new material via Ear Up.

Last year, Coffin gained his first-ever GRAMMY nomination as a leader for Between Dreaming And Joy and just months ago, Coffin released Look For Water, which was called “bright” and “inspired” by Glide Magazine. Jordan Perlson is one of the most versatile drummers in Nashville, with appearances on more than 100 records, and with credits alongside jazz iconic Seamus Blake, Gary Burton and David Liebman to folk heroes Alison Brown and Missy Raines to genre-busting innovators like Becca Stevens and Snarky Puppy.

Viktor Krauss is one of the world’s most influential bassists with a touring and recording career that includes Lyle Lovett, Bill Frisell, James Taylor, Tom Jones, Shawn Colvin, Sheryl Crow, Carly Simon and many more. In 2022, he joined Robert Plant and his sister Alison Krauss on their Raise The Roof tour, completing the most recent leg this summer.

Jeff Coffin – tenor sax, soprano sax, clarinet, bass flute
Jordan Person – drums, percussion
Viktor Krauss – upright bass

Bandcamp Purchase Link

Title - Night Birds
Artist - Sara Serpa & André Matos

Seven years after their last duo album, vocalist Sara Serpa and guitarist André Matos return with Night Birds. Due out September 29th, 2023 in CD and digital download on the Portuguese label Robalo Music, the duo’s third release captures and crystallizes their uncanny musical connection.

Serpa is widely acclaimed as one of the premier vocalists of her generation and was crowned the 2020 Vocalist of the Year by NPR. Matos has been praised as “one of the kings of melody..." by the New York Music Daily. Together, their music has been described as “decidedly otherworldly and totally original” (The Classical Arts) and “a perfect musical union” (O Público).

A collection of original compositions, improvisations and a Bartok bagatelle, the dozen tracks on Night Birds reflect on the fast-paced societies of the modern world, questioning the consumption and exploitation of natural ecosystems.

Serpa’s distinctive singing and Matos’ spectacular sonic landscapes are enhanced by original and creative artists in jazz and improvised music including Brooklyn-based pianist Dov Manski, South-Korean avant-garde cellist Okkyung Lee (John Zorn, Nels Cline, Chris Corsano, and Thurston Moore), Ethiopian-Swedish experimental vocalist Sofia Jernberg (Fire! Orchestra, Mette Rasmussen), Portuguese up-and-coming drummer João Pereira, and on two tracks, Serpa and Matos’ child Lourenço.

At turns magical, dazzling and calm, the duo’s unique sonic world draws on pure, contemplative sounds and takes a personal approach to melody and poetry. Their musical identity is informed by their Portuguese culture and the creative artistic environment of New York.

1. From a distance
2. Carlos
3. Melting ice (feat. Okkyung Lee)
4. Family
5. Night Birds (feat. Sofia Jernberg)
6. Counting
7. Underwater (feat. Sofia Jernberg)
8. Degrowth (feat. Sofia Jernberg, Okkyung Lee)
9. Bergman’s Island
10. Lost whale (feat. Okkyung Lee)
11. Watching you grow
12. Bagatelle, Op.6 Lento

On an album that is a huge testament to the ways in which Serpa and Matos have refined and developed their sound while exploring new dimensions of spontaneity, it opens on the celestially organic From a distance and the aromatically-hued Carlos, and then brings us the aching yearn found within Melting ice (featuring South Korean cellist Okkyung Lee), and then comes the harmoniously layered Family, the veritably cristalline Night Birds (featuring Swedish experimental singer, improviser, and composer Sofia Jernberg) and the more forthright Counting.

Along next is the otherworldly Underwater (featuring Sofia Jernberg) and the lushly harmonized Degrowth (featuring both Sofia Jernberg and Okkyung Lee), and they are in turn backed by the Latin-tinged, ghostly Bergman’s Island, then we get brought forth the empyreal feel of Lost whale (featuring Okkyung Lee), the album rounding out on the hallowed feel of Watching you grow, coming to a close on the stoically devotional Bagatelle, Op.6: Lento; a simply stunning interpretation of one of Hungarian composer and pianist Béla Bartók’s best known works.

Across the album’s twelve tracks, Serpa and Matos employ unusual, diverse approaches to the voice-guitar relationship. The voice often takes on a background role, creating textures, grooves or ambiances while the guitar defines the melody or freely improvises. Adding more voices, piano, synth and cello expands the duo’s sonic palette, resulting in immersive and captivating musical moments that transcend language and barriers.

More than just a musical achievement, Night Birds addresses relevant, timely thematic concerns. “Much of this music reveals reflections on what family means for us, as immigrants and as New Yorkers, how parenting has changed our lives and how horrified we are about the overconsumption of resources and the destruction of the natural world,” Serpa explains. “How do we nurture this precious and fragile microcosmos of watching a child grow while we witness our planet’s destruction? What will be left for him?”

Bandcamp Purchase Link

Title - Everyone’s Too Sad For Everything
Artist - Erik Dahl Ensemble

Erik Dahl Ensemble make music in a dreamland between jazz, chamber music and space rock. Everyone’s Too Sad For Everything is the second album by the group. The music was written during the period of isolation the pandemic forced upon us. Numerous emotions were evoked by the lack of concerts and social life.

“I wanted to transform that specific feeling into music. The loneliness, a soaring melancholy, sadness that comes and goes. While starting to write the music I stumbled on the phrase Everyone’s Too Sad For Everything in a book. The words are paradoxical, at first it sounds so gloomy. But there is also something else, slightly absurd, almost humoristic. To be sharing your sadness with others is actually kind of hopeful.”

1. Lagim
2. The Woods Within
3. Join The Dots
4. The Fragile Ones
5. Nocturnal
6. Unfolding
7. Vulkan
8. Ceremony
9. Too Sad
10. Frostblommor till Emma Niskanpää

The album opens on the fibrous Lagim and the languishing The Woods Within, and then brings us the playful Join The Dots, and then comes the ornately sculpted The Fragile Ones and then we get the sterner, regimented fare of Nocturnal.

Along next is the veritably ethereal Unfolding and the atmospherically stoic ache found within Vulkan and they are in turn backed by the precise nature of Ceremony, the album rounding out on the gentle, low slung hipsway of Too Sad, coming to a close on the sinewy fabric that is Frostblommor till Emma Niskanpää.

The members of the group are accomplished performers on the Swedish jazz and folk music scene. They enrich the music with their multifaceted personal expressions. The group is based in Gothenburg and led by critically acclaimed composer Erik Dahl whose compositions balances melodic simplicity with experimental impulses.

Music transports us to an inner landscape. It hints at a secret world that consciousness cannot reach. This is a place with both light and darkness. To get there you must dare to travel alone into the unknown. Music is the vessel that moves us.

We are all too sad. We are the fragile ones. But we are also hardy like mountain birches. We perform a ceremony, a dance to the apocalypse. We can join the dots to form new patterns. The butterfly of the cover represents transformation and hope.

Anna Cochrane, violin/viola
Andreas Thurfjell, alto/baritone saxophone/clarinet
Anna Malmström, clarinet/bass clarinet
Erik Dahl, piano/electronics
Viktor Reuter, double bass
William Soovik, drums/percussion

Bandcamp Purchase Link

Erik Dahl Ensemble @ Facebook

Erik Dahl Ensemble @ Instagram

Title - Event Horizon
Artist - Madlen Keys

Madlen Keys is an alternative rock trio from Paris, France with electro and folk influences. It’s also a big family that comes in amplified and acoustic training.

On their brand new album Event Horizon, musical creations of an unexpected dimension abound. Where the depth of the texts is at the service of a powerful arrangement and where a sensory journey with rock tinged with violins and choirs is lovingly brought forth.

On the surface they may seem like your typical indie-rock-pop band, but their sound goes deeper than that. For the group like to experiment in a range of styles from trip rock to groove and from Celtic-imbibed to Indian-influenced music. It’s just all put into the musical blender.

1. The Maze (5:23)
2. Breathe (4:57)
3. Flaming Tree (6:12)
4. Keep A Secret (4:46)
5. The Stream (4:35)
6. Memories Of My Friends (5:15)
7. Ubik (3:58)
8. Pensando en ti (3:39)

The album opens on the fibrous The Maze and the joyful psych-pop of Breathe and then follow those up with the more ethereally-charged Flaming Tree, and a Celtic-hued at first, Eastern-imbibed latterly Keep A Secret.

Along next is the gently jaunty alt-pop vibe of The Stream and the hauntingly stoic, Cranberries-esque Memories Of My Friends, the album rounding out on the impassioned Ubik, coming to a close on the beautiful, Spanish sung Pensando en ti (Thinking of you).

Madlen Keys - Breathe (Official Music Video)

Bandcamp Purchase Link

Madlen Keys @ Facebook

Madlen Keys @ Instagram

Title - Build Myself Up From The Ground
Artist - Swearingen & Kelli

The latest offering by Swearingen & Kelli (AJ Swearingen and Jayne Kelli), Build Myself Up From the Ground, evokes nostalgia for the folk and country music of a bygone era, while forging a path distinctly its own.

The duo’s love for the dobro and string arrangements encased in pedal steel fill the self-produced-and-recorded mini-album. Harmonies honed through years of touring together and a closely shared life take center stage.

The six tracks feature hidden gems from their vault of songs, a poignant piano ballad, and a heartfelt rendition of Kris Kristofferson’s “Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll ever Do Again).” The album cover choice, portraying a living room adorned with antique furniture set upon the grass and embracing tree roots, unveils its significance by reflecting a year marked by upheaval.

The six new tracks evoke nostalgia for the folk and country music of a bygone era, while forging a path distinctly its own. The duo’s love for the dobro and string arrangements encased in pedal steel fill the self-produced-and-recorded mini-album.

The release features hidden gems from their vault of songs, a poignant piano ballad, and a heartfelt rendition of Kris Kristofferson’s “Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll ever Do Again).” The album cover choice, portraying a living room adorned with antique furniture set upon the grass and embracing tree roots, unveils its significance by reflecting a year marked by upheaval.

1. The River
2. Angel of the Dark
3. Build Myself Up From The Ground
4. Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)
5. Goodbye
6. This Old House

With harmonies honed through years of touring together and a closely shared life take center stage, the album opens on the lonesome ode The River and the fluidly melodic Angel of the Dark and then brings us the waning storytelling found within the titular Build Myself Up From The Ground, the impassioned Kristofferson track Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again), the mini album rounding out on the haunting, veritably ethereal piano ballad Goodbye, closing on the languishing ache of This Old House.

Swearingen & Kelli’s previous album, Cold-Hearted Truth, garnered critical acclaim by Americana Highways, Cowboys & Indians, NY Country Swag, and Red Line Roots, who called their approach “beautiful and rare... one that others would do well to emulate.”

They continue to pay homage to the spirit of ’60s and ’70s folk and country music, supporting the stage for legends ranging from Crystal Gayle and Kenny Rogers, to folk icons Tom Rush and David Bromberg.

With the new work in hand and accompanying tour set, the pair defies the odds and celebrates an indomitable spirit. Home to AJ and Jayne has become the road, the stage, and the people they meet at every show.

Official Purchase Link

Swearingen & Kelli @ Spotify