New Jazz & Blues – 5/15/2022

New Jazz & Blues – 5/15/2022

New Jazz:

Steven Bernstein & The Hot 9 – Manifesto Of Henryisms (Ropeadope): “Steven Bernstein first saw the late, great New Orleans pianist Henry Butler play in 1984. “He was genius-level brilliant, man,” he says, still marveling. “I couldn’t believe there was a guy who could sound like the most ancient music and the most futuristic music at the same time.” Fourteen years later, Bernstein took Hal Willner’s recommendation and hired Butler to play in the touring band that played the score for Robert Altman’s film Kansas City. In 2013, the two musicians formed the Hot 9, the name a tip of the fedora to Louis Armstrong’s landmark Hot Five and Hot Seven sessions of the 1920s. They released the acclaimed Viper’s Drag album the following year, and toured until Butler’s untimely passing in 2018. Manifesto Of Henryisms is Bernstein’s term for the rhythmic and harmonic idiosyncrasies in Butler’s piano playing. For his inventive arrangements, Bernstein isolated those “Henryisms” and distributed them to different musicians in the Hot 9, so now Butler’s style was emulated by an entire ten-piece band, effectively turning his piano into an orchestra. To hear Bernstein’s Henry-istic arrangements in action, listen to Butler’s solo piano version of his James Booker tribute “Booker Time” (from 2002’s Patchwork: A Tribute to James Booker) and then hear Bernstein’s full-band version, and the way it demonstrates the lineage between Dixieland and funk.
While Butler is no longer here to play the arrangements that Bernstein wrote for him, his spirit remains deep in this music. “I wanted to document these arrangements,” Bernstein says, “while we still had Henry’s feeling in our bodies.” But, without Butler’s resounding musical presence, Bernstein urged the band to go its own way. “We know what he taught us,” he says, “so let’s take that and make it ours. We’re carrying it forward.” On Manifesto of Henryisms, Bernstein and the band carry on that Butler-esque mix of ancient and futuristic, innovation with a reverence for tradition, embracing the virtuosity, ingeniousness and jaunty swing of early New Orleans jazz, but incorporating all kinds of music that happened in the meantime. On Manifesto of Henryisms, Bernstein and the band carry on that Butler-esque mix of ancient and futuristic, innovation with a reverence for tradition, embracing the virtuosity, ingeniousness and jaunty swing of early New Orleans jazz, but incorporating all kinds of music that happened in the meantime.” (https://stevenbernstein.bandcamp.com/album/manifesto-of-henryisms-community-music-vol-3) Click here to listen to some of the songs from this release.

Mark Filsinger Chamber Big Band- Groovin’ High (Buffalo Jazz Collective Records): “The Buffalo Jazz Collective is a group of jazz musicians and advocates dedicated to preserving, celebrating, and advancing the rich jazz heritage of Western New York. Through performance, education, and media, we pay tribute to our city’s musical past and nurture its future by ensuring jazz remains at the core of our cultural landscape.  Recognized as a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation, the Buffalo Jazz Collective will serve as the premier jazz organization in Western New York. We aim to foster opportunities for jazz musicians from our area to gain local, national, and international acclaim through producing: concerts and events in Western New York that highlight the area’s finest jazz musicians and special guest artists, performance opportunities in Western New York featuring top jazz musicians from around the world who are originally from our area and had educational opportunities for jazz learners of all ages and experiences via the Floyd Fried Jazz Academy. The
recordings, publications, and related media celebrating our area’s rich jazz heritage. (http://www.buffalojazzcollective.com/the-facts)
Click here to listen to “You Stepped Out Of A Dream” from this release.

Daniel Glass Trio – BAM! (Club 44 Records): “CLUB44 RECORDS has announced the new album from Daniel Glass Trio, BAM!, is available on streaming platforms and on CD in stores and online today, Friday, April 29. The Daniel Glass Trio – featuring three of the busiest and most prolific musicians on the New York jazz scene: Daniel Glass on drums, Sean Harkness on guitar and Michael O’Brien on bass – have created a virtuosic sound that is infectious, fun and incredibly entertaining. With both a keen respect for musical history and a bent toward the innovative and adventurous, this recording never lets the listener get too comfortable in their stylistic expectations but always provides very satisfying twists and turns. BAM! features both original tunes from the band and eclectic reinventions of the timeless standard “It Could Happen To You” and Deep Purple’s rock classic “Smoke on the Water.” “One of the reasons I love working with Sean and Michael,” says Glass, “is that the three of us share a musical ‘mission: to live in the moment and go where the music takes us. Each member of this group is a veteran New York jazzman, having spent decades in the trenches working with hundreds of other artists – particularly singers. Doing this kind of work has endowed us with a particular sense of empathy – the ability to listen, respond and support unselfishly – while also taking the reins when needed.” (https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Daniel-Glass-Trios-New-Album-BAM-Out-Today-20220429) Click here to listen to the opening song, “Bolivia”, the opener on this release.

Tigran Hamasyan – StandArt (Nonesuch): “Nonesuch Records releases pianist and composer Tigran Hamasyan’s StandArt—his first album of American standards—on April 29, 2022. StandArt includes songs from the 1920s through the 1950s, by Richard Rodgers, Charlie Parker, Jerome Kern, David Raksin, and others; it also includes a piece Hamasyan improvised with his bandmates—bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Justin Brown—and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, who is featured on two of the album’s tracks. Other special guests include saxophonist and label-mate Joshua Redman on Charlie Parker’s “Big Foot,” as well as saxophonist Mark Turner on Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein’s “All the Things You Are.” Produced by Hamasyan and recorded last spring in Los Angeles, StandArt is Hamasyan’s first release of American music, having previously only released original compositions and traditional Armenian music.”(https://tigranhamasyan.bandcamp.com/album/standart) Click here to listen to “De-Dah” and “All The Things You Are”. 

Jo Harrop – The Heart Wants (Lateralize): “Although she has built a reputation as an intuitive interpreter of other people’s songs, Jo Harrop would be the first to admit that she always lacked the confidence to reveal her own songs to the world. With no shows in her diary, she started working on what would eventually turn out to be her first album of original material with producers Hannah Vasanth and Jamie McCredie alongside a guest list of world-class musicians including Christian McBride, Jason Rebello and Troy Miller. “In an unexpected moment of stillness, when the world came to a sudden stop and confusion, frustration and fear seemed to sweep across the earth, I finally began to work on the album that I had longed to make for many years,” Harrop explains. “Ideas that I had talked over with Hannah and Jamie began to unfold, and emotions that I’d always pushed aside began to spill onto the page.” Born in Durham and raised on a heady musical diet of Nina Simone, Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin, Jo Harrop cut her teeth as a session singer, working with a host of iconic artists including Neil Diamond, Rod Stewart and Gloria Gaynor.
After moving to London, she quickly established herself as one of the most unmistakable voices in British jazz. Having signed to London-based jazz label, Lateralize Records, she recently received a raft of rapturous reviews for Weathering The Storm, her debut with guitarist, Jamie McCredie. The Guardian dubbed it ‘a little gem of an album: simple, modest and perfect,’ whilst BBC 6 Music’s Iggy Pop fell in love with her voice, calling her “a very fine jazz singer.” Beyond the mellifluous perfection of her chocolate and cream voice, there is always a beautifully bruised intimacy at the very heart of Jo Harrop’s music. It’s almost as if she’s staring directly into your soul when she sings. This may only be her second LP, yet she sounds as if she’s already lived a thousand lifetimes .… “These songs feel timeless, but they also reflect where we are here and now, caught up in life’s bittersweet journey. Music has been my whole world for as long as I can remember; it has always had the power to transport me and to move me deep inside, and I want to create the same emotional connection with people who hear my songs.” Click here to listen to the songs on this wonderful release.

David Larsen – G2 and You (G 2): “G2 and You is my first release with G2 records. This EP is my first recording since returning to performing regularly. COVID made it impossible to play in public, but I was able to work out these compositions in front of an audience. Playing with these musicians is such a pleasure and it helps our group dynamics come alive in the recording. The original tunes are inspired by two of jazz’s greatest composers, Cole Porter and Horace Silver. They were such amazing composers and using their music as an inspiration I was able to create some excellent new pieces. This double EP features both “G2 and You” and “Bright Days” released on stream services separately…. Players on “G2 and You” are David Larson (Baritone Saxophone & Composer), Danny McCollim (Keyboards), Josh Skinner (Bass) and Brendan McMurphy (Drums). Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.

John Lee – The Artist (Cellar 20): “Cellar Music Group is delighted to announce the release of The Artist, an introduction to the deeply-swinging world of bassist and multi-instrumentalist John Lee. Lee has become a first-call player on the Vancouver jazz scene, exuding an unerring swing-feel and a distinct tastefulness, radiating joy with his deeply soulful playing. The Artist stands as a document of Lee’s facility on the bass, and as a composer and arranger. The album captures the divine interplay of four masterful musicians, bassist John Lee, drummer Carl Allen, pianist Miles Black and tenor saxophonist Cory Weeds (featured on tracks 1, 7 & 8).
After graduating from Berklee College of Music in 2016, South Korea born John Lee established himself as a prominent multi-instrumentalist in Vancouver where he put in the heavy lifting and self-reflection necessary to prepare for making The Artist. When the moment arrived to envisage the album, Lee knew he wanted to play just one instrument, the hard part was knowing which instrument to choose. Lee, who performs on a high level on double bass, drums, piano, organ and guitar, notes “I’ve never considered any instrument to be my main instrument, so it was very difficult to choose what I would play on my first record.” Lee followed the advice of his frequent collaborator and mentor Cory Weeds on the bold choice of playing bass exclusively on his recording debut.  After the recording was delayed over a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the four stellar musicians finally assembled in October 2021 to realize Lee’s vision for The Artist. Immediately, the synergy between the artists was palpable. “The bass-drums hookup is a very special and unique thing, as soon as John and Carl started playing you could just tell instantly, ‘this is going to work’” says Weeds. Lee adds “Playing with Allen “was a dream come true for me”, I’ve known his work for a long time, and to hear it and feel it right in front of me was a real moment for me.”
The Artist begins with the Mulgrew Miller composition “Soul Leo”, laying down a deeply spirited groove over which the group embarks on masterful solos. Next, the group performs their take on the Benny Green Composition “Carl’s Blues” written for drummer Carl Allen. This is just the kind of hand-swinging tune that Lee relishes, so it was a natural choice to include it on The Artist. Black improvises here with an Oscar Peterson-like dexterity and intensity. The bandleader indicates “you know that when you have Miles on a project, your music will be uplifted, his playing that day in the studio was moving. He played with grace and dignity.” The album also includes an interpretation of “Softly As In a Morning Sunrise” performed with a strikingly distinctive approach, and a gorgeous rendition of “Fabienne” by the late great Swiss alto saxophonist George Robert. The album’s two original compositions, “Life is a Beautiful Thing”, and “The Artist” showcase Lee’s tremendous acuity for composition. On “Life is a Beautiful Thing”, the bassist plays the ballad’s exquisite melody with a light touch, evoking meaning. Lee notes that the song represents his “gratitude towards life over the last 10 years of my adulthood. Although there has been many hardships, I learn so much about who I am every day trying to look at life from a positive angle. I tried to put all of that into a melody.” “The Artist” is a medium tempo gem – an ideal canvas for Black, Lee and Allen to deliver satiating solos. The bassist’s agile improvisation resonates especially sweetly. Lee, who was born in Seoul, South Korea, dedicated the tune to his father Jae – “The best artist I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.” Jae passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2014. “He was such an important figure in my life and I miss him dearly every day” Lee expresses. The Artist cements Lee’s stature as a distinguished force in the jazz world, introducing his dynamic compositions, arrangements and performance to a global audience. The 28 year old bass player conveys a wisdom and musicality that’s far beyond his years, setting the tone for further profound expression to come. (https://www.rabox.is/3137964947-john-lee-the-artist-2022.html) Scroll down to listen music from the songs on this release.

Peter Madsen’s CIA Trio – 88 butterfly  (& Friends) – Playscape Records): “88 Butterfly is veteran pianist/composer Peter Madsen’s 12th release as a leader on the Playscape Recordings label and his second Playscape release with his CIA Trio, one of 12 ensembles born from Madsen’s Austria-based Collective of Improvising Artists (CIA), an organization he founded in 2007. 
Writes Madsen in his liner notes, “I have an amazing memory from when I was a young boy. I was outside playing in the front yard of my family home in Racine, Wisconsin, when all of a sudden the sky filled with the fluttering of thousands of orange and black migrating Monarch butterflies. I jumped and screamed with delight! The incredible joy and fascination of that exciting moment is still with me today and was the inspiration for the music on this recording.
“Since ancient times the butterfly has been a symbol of change, hope, endurance, rebirth and life for people all around the world. For many cultures, the butterfly represents the human soul and its spiritual journey. Some cultures see them as messengers from God or angels. The Chinese see butterflies as a symbol for long life, and in Japan they symbolize the soul of Japan. Native American cultures like the Blackfeet believe they are carriers of dreams and the Navajo recognize them as the symbol of joy and resurgence. For the Romans, butterflies represented marriage and for the Christians they were an emblem of resurrection. The Greeks thought the butterfly represented the soul or mind or psyche. For the ancient Egyptians, butterflies would await the soul in the afterlife. All this and more from a creature who survives in this beautiful form for only a few weeks or months at most. “In this crazy and dark time of the pandemic, I needed to focus on something positive and joyful, yet powerful and deep. Remembering my early childhood experience guided me to use the COVID-19 lockdown period to compose the pieces on this new CIA Trio recording called 88 Butterfly.” (http://playscape-recordings.com/index.php?catalog&aid=83) Click on the upper right of the page to listen to samples of the first three songs.

Nathaniel Morgan – Secret People (Out Of Your Head): “Simply put, if you like Tim Berne, you need to hear Secret People. Not that this trio of New-York-based musicians is necessarily sounding just like Berne, but their style of hyper-complex jazz-rock compositions coupled with exploratory improv certainly falls into the same bucket. For that matter, another point of reference is pianist / keyboardist Matt Mitchell, whose collaborations with Berne as well as members of Secret People serve as a bridge. Consisting of Kate Gentile on drums and vibes, Dustin Carlson on electric guitar and 6-string bass, and Nathaniel Morgan on sax, this self-titled release is the group’s debut even though they have played together for some time. It was recorded in 2019, perhaps a musical victim of the pandemic finally coming to light. In any event, most of the album exhibits intricate and carefully-composed lines that will tie your brain in knots. These labyrinthine arrangements are both fast and dense with a penchant for extended melodies that vary thematically rather than strictly repeating. Nonetheless, the group maintains a raw, organic feel with Carlson’s distorted guitar coloring outside the lines. These excursions lead the group into more open-ended spaces – downtempo textural improvisation and the like, with Gentile making heavy use of cymbals while Morgan squeaks and wails. Such use of extended techniques result in some passages being virtually ambient in nature. Failing to recognize Gentile’s contributions would be irresponsible. As we have written in the past, she is a brilliantly supple percussionist who provides undanceable beats and patterns as a matter of course. Her writing and playing are all over this album, and the effort is that much richer for it.” (https://avantmusicnews.com/2022/03/18/amn-reviews-secret-people-secret-people-2022-out-of-your-head-records/) Click here to listen to two songs from this release – legitimate perseverance and peephole.

Kim Nalley with Houston Person – I Want A Little Boy (Kim Nalley Jazz): “Awarded “Most Influential African American in the Bay Area” in 2005 and “Best Jazz Group” in 2013, vocalist Dr. Kim Nalley is already being called “legendary” and “San Francisco institution.  Nalley was discovered by Michael Tilson Thomas singing to packed audiences live with no amplification. MTT recorded her singing live with no amplification and invited her to sing with the San Francisco Symphony. Subsequently she became a Rounder Records recording artist and went on a worldwide tour gracing concert halls from Moscow to Lincoln Center and festivals from Umbria Jazz to Monterey Jazz garnering effusive international press, awards and ranking high on the Jazz charts and Gavin Report for her many albums. Nalley had a solid background in classical music before switching to Jazz for the freedom it provided.  A true Renaissance woman, Kim Nalley has been a featured writer for JazzWest and SF Chronicle’s City Brights, shortlisted for a Grammy nomination, a produced playwright, an avid Lindy Hop & blues dancer. and the former jazz club owner of Jazz at Pearl’s. She earned her Ph.D. in history at UC Berkeley and is a published scholar.  She was shortlisted by Downbeat Critics Poll in 2017 as a “Rising Star” (Deserving Wider Recognition). Nalley’s many philanthropic endeavors include founding the Kim Nalley Black Youth Jazz Scholarship, fundraising for Richmond-Ermet Aids Foundation, BLM, Next Village, SF-Marin Food Bank, and Department of Economic and Covid relief sponsored in part by Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts as part of their 2020 Artists Respond grant program…. In looks, Kim Nalley exudes the aura of a diva from a by-gone era. Vocally, she has pipes to burn packing a 3 1/2 octave range that can go from operatic to gritty blues on a dime, projection that can whisper a ballad yet is capable of filling a room with no microphone, and the ability to scat blistering solos without ever losing the crowd’s interest or the intense swing.” (https://www.kimnalley.com/biography) Beautiful voice! Click here to listen to “Crazy He Calls Me” from this release. 

Lou Pomanti & Friends – Lou Pomanti & Friends (Self-produced): “Multi award-winning Canadian music producer, arranger and composer Lou Pomanti presents a beautiful record featuring many of his illustrious collaborators. A stellar back-up band, phenomenal featured soloists and a “who’s who” of vocalists performing ballads to big band, bossa-nova to blues, and plenty of soul. The album features Emilie-Claire Barlow, Randy Brecker, David Clayton-Thomas, Matt Dusk, Marc Jordan, Oakland Stroke, John Finley, Dione Taylor, Robyn Black, Larnell Lewis, Irene Torres, June Garber, Sam Pomanti, Scott Alexander, Lou Bartolomucci, Tony Carlucci, William Carn, Steve Heathcote, Chris Howells, John Johnson, Drew Jurecka, Jake Langley, Blair Lofgren, Jason Logue, Steve MacDonald, Bill McBirnie, John Panchyshyn, Prague Smecky Orchestra, Marc Rogers, Kathryn Rose, William Sperandei, and Simon Wallis.
Canadian Screen Awards (Gemini) winner Lou Pomanti is one of Canada’s most accomplished producers, composers, musicians and musical directors. Lou’s original music and performances are featured on soundtracks and recordings from some of Canada’s biggest stars, and he has contributed playing, arrangements and productions to several Grammy-winning albums. In 1980 Lou received a call from David Clayton-Thomas to join the seminal jazz rock group Blood, Sweat and Tears and toured the world. It began a decades-long association including the role as producer on DCT’s “Soul Ballads” album for Universal Records. 1983 saw the beginning of Lou’s session career as the first call pianist/synthesist in Toronto. His playing and arranging has enhanced the recordings of Michael Bublé, Gordon Lightfoot and Anne Murray; as well as rockers Kim Mitchell and Triumph. He received a Gemini award for arranging and conducting “Both Sides Now” for Joni Mitchell’s induction to the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Lou is known for his big band and string arrangements. He arranged the orchestra for Michael Buble’s smash hit “Haven’t Met You Yet”, which has sold over 7 million copies worldwide. He has 8 arrangements in total on Michael Bublé records. He has contributed to and/or produced recent albums by Marc Jordan, The Tenors, Matt Dusk, David Clayton-Thomas, June Garber, John Finley, Barbra Lica and many more.” (https://soundindepth.com/lou-pomanti-friends/2022/05/10/top-jazz-news/admin/) Click here to hear Lou Pomanti and friends take on “Stoned Soul Picnic”.

Marta Sanchez – SAAM (Spanish American Art Museum) (Whirlwind): “Marta Sanchez’s creative voice is strikingly original – circling rhythms, elaborate forms and criss-crossing counterpoint distinguishes her sonic signature on the crowded New York contemporary music scene. Following three critically acclaimed quintet releases, the Madrid-born pianist-composer presents SAAM (Spanish American Art Museum) on Whirlwind Recordings, an album driven by emotional candour and boundary-pushing compositions. A talented cast realises her knotty, technical writing – frontline partners Alex Lore and Roman Filiu meet Sanchez, Rashaan Carter and Allan Mednard on backline duties. SAAM riffs on the Smithsonian American Art Museum, on an album that’s an exhibition of Sanchez’s life in musical form: “It’s made up of all the elements of society from both countries [Spain and America] that impact my life and make me who I am.” Matters internal and external are realised in musical expositions of complex feelings. The pieces took shape in lockdown, as Sanchez exchanged fortnightly composition tasks with a pen- pal. “Those compositions express all the phases I was going through at that time. I was reflecting super deeply on what’s important, and how we might give some sense to life.” Most of the album draws on those precisely realised emotions. The colouristic, texturally driven opener ‘The Unconquerable Areas’ describes parts of herself “that are still vulnerable. These weak parts of myself; even though I’ve been dealing with them for a long time, they’re still there.” Similarly reflective is ‘Dear Worthiness’, a “sad ballad that reflects on my self worth” – it features beautifully lithe melodies, but melancholy is never far away. ‘SAAM’ cuts through that smoothness, in a jagged, Schoenberg- inspired outburst full of intense feelings and dense clusters, built around an essential pain.
A different form of pain features in ‘The Eternal Stillness’ – mournful sighs and cries emanate from the saxophones, as layered textures shift underneath. Then something very different comes along – ‘Marivi’, featuring Ambrose Akinmusire and Camila Meza, offers a warm tribute to Sanchez’s mother, who died during lockdown. “I tell her things I could never tell her,” says Sanchez of the lyrics. “I loved my mum but it was really hard to tell her the deep things.”  ‘If You Could Create It’ strikes a lighter tone, with cascading torrents of tenor sax sound, before ‘The Hard Balance’ offers reflection, both musically and personally – the track is finely balanced on an intricate polyrhythm, that reflects the difficulties of maintaining a work-life balance. ‘December 11th’ is the day Sanchez’s mother died, a personal tribute featuring an extended, heartfelt piano solo. The album concludes with ‘When Dreaming is Only’, the most complex tune on the album; insistent piano rhythms and duelling saxophones give way to a band texture that’s bustling, brimming with energy. “Sometimes I just take the vibe, compose the atmosphere, and sometimes I focus on something super specific.” Sanchez’s ability to tap into emotional expression through detailed instrumental music is without parallel – this collage of moods and feelings is testament to that.” (https://martasanchez-whirlwind.bandcamp.com/album/saam-spanish-american-art-museum) Click here to listen to the songs on this release.

The Margaret Slovak Trio – Ballad For Brad (Slovak Music): “Jazz guitarist Margaret Slovak’s comeback album after overcoming major physical problems caused by a car accident is a quietly inventive trio set filled with original heartfelt compositions and subtle creativity. Joined by bassist Harvie S and drummer Michael Sarin, Margaret Slovak displays a personal style on both nylon string and electric guitars, performing ten of her colorful originals. Back in 2003 Margaret Slovak, an up-and-coming guitarist with great potential and her own sound, was seriously hurt in a car accident that damaged her right hand, arm, shoulder and brachial plexus. After many operations and years of struggle, she is now well on her way to making a successful comeback.
Ballad for Brad, her long awaited fourth album as a leader, features the guitarist in top form in a trio with bassist Harvie S and drummer Michael Sarin. The project is named after her beloved husband Brad Buchholz who has had a longtime struggle with cancer. Margaret Slovak contributed all ten compositions and, while the tempos are generally laidback and the improvisations are thoughtful, the music is filled with creative ideas and telepathic interplay by the trio. The set begins with the harmonically advanced “Again,” one of several jazz waltzes on the project. It is followed by the tender ballad “Flowers for Marie,” an enthusiastic “The Answer Within,” and two songs dedicated to Margaret’s late sister: “Song for Anne” (which celebrates her life) and the somber “Forty-Four.”
“Courage, Truth and Hope” is an upbeat tribute to journalist Bill Moyers. The whimsical “Carrot Cake Blues” gives the trio an opportunity to swing on a medium-tempo blues. “Ballad for Brad” has a complex melody that is played by Margaret with warmth and affection. “Thirty-Three” begins quite seriously with some bowed bass by Harvie S before it becomes a medium-tempo exploration with some beautiful chords from the guitarist. The satisfying set concludes with the complicated yet accessible theme of “Will You Ever Know?” Margaret Slovak, who is originally from Denver, started on the guitar when she was 11. By the time she was 14 she was already composing and two years later she began playing professionally. She graduated from the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. In 1988 she moved to New York City where she led her own group for five years and recorded “For the Moment” (which was released years later in 2007), a set of eight of her original songs with a quartet that included pianist Fred Hersch, bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Michael Sarin. Margaret moved to Portland, Oregon in 1993 where she recorded “Undying Hope”, performing her originals as a solo guitarist. She toured with her quartet (which included drummer Bob Moses), performing in Germany, the Czech Republic, Canada and throughout the United States. Despite the injuries suffered during the 2003 car accident, she was able to release “New Wings”, a set of solo and duet pieces and spent 2008-2012 back in New York City. In addition, since 1994 Margaret has performed for patients in cancer treatment centers, hospitals and hospice. Now after many surgeries and a successful recovery, Margaret Slovak (who currently lives in Austin, Texas) is realizing her potential. “Ballad for Brad”, her finest recording to date, serves as the perfect introduction to her musical talents. Click here to listen to the songs on this release.

John Scofield – John Scofield (ECM): “John Scofield, a glorious guitarist with a slightly twisty guitar sound and a language that often comes adorned with elements of funk, country and rock, has all the reasons to feel jubilant about his new recording. That’s because this self-titled album is his first solo effort in a career spanning over half a century. The chosen repertoire – five originals and eight covers – heralds new sonic directions (including traditional and rock n’roll songs), and the guitarist works his grooves and ambiences to great effect while adding some understated electronic manipulation. The recording initiates with Keith Jarrett’s “Coral”, whose relaxed 4/4 step includes an early overdubbed solo. The following step is a reworking of “Honest I Do”, an original collected out of his Grace Under Pressure album (Blue Note, 1992). Other standout tunes from Scofield’s pen are the cool “Elder Dance”, where he swings unabashedly with jazz n’ bluesy solos and opportune octave inflections; “Mrs. Scofield’s Waltz”, a lovable, gentle piece which first appeared on the superlative album Works For Me (Verve, 2000) with Brad Mehldau; and the fusion-laced “Trance De Jour”.
Both “Danny Boy”, a country/Americana folding whose soloing section is backed by loop waves, and “Junco Partner”, a 16-bar blues from Louisiana, are traditional numbers that show his love for American roots music. However, two of the most stirring cuts are interpretations of standards: “It Could Happen to You” and “There Will Never Be Another You” demonstrate Scofields’s unerring instinct to put his own soulful stamp in the traditional jazz language. Besides the marvelous improvisation, he spices up the former piece’s theme with nice glissandi, and finishes the latter with an awesome quirky chord. Conversely, “My Old Flame” doesn’t have the same impact as the other two. The reading of Buddy Holly’s rockabilly number “Not Fade Away” comes etched with Americana inscriptions and round bending notes. Here, Scofield experiments a bit more with the sound, infusing muffled bass notes and cyclic funkified electronics. The record closes out with Hank Williams’ “You Win Again”, a leisure walk through the serene prairies of country music. With all these songs serving as a catalyst for the electric hooks and phraseology of the guitarist, this is a sweeping album with a wide range of flavors. I regret I am not able to find a sample from this release.

New Blues:

Gary Cain – Next Stop (Self-produced): “Gary Cain is a Canadian-born guitarist, singer, and songwriter with one foot planted firmly in the blues, and the other foot planted in seemingly everything else. He’s been called “ridiculously talented” and a “jaw-dropper” by Blues Matters Magazine. The foundation of his virtuosic style was laid via marathon practice sessions as a youngster in his parents’ basement. “Back then it’s all I would do some days – sometimes 13, 14 hours a day. I’d have to be reminded to eat.” says Cain. Long days poring over the musical styles of blues legends gave him a deep respect for the music, but he’s not beholden to it. “I’m not a purist.” he says, “What made those players so great was what they brought to the music to make it their own. Albert King was the best Albert King there’ll ever be. You gotta do your own thing with it.” (https://www.rabox.is/3137964295-gary-cain-next-stop-2022-hi-res.html) Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.

Anthony Geraci – Blues Called My Name (Blue Heart Records): “Anthony Geraci is a 2021 Blues Music Award Winner for Instrumentalist- Piano from the Blues Foundation in Memphis, TN. Anthony Geraci and the Boston Blues All-Stars were nominated for Band of the Year as well. Anthony has a long history in the American Blues Community. A 2021 Blues Music Award Winner for Instrumentalist-Piano, as well as a Band of the Year nomination from the Blues Foundation…. 10 Original tracks by Anthony Geraci. 2021 Blues Music Award Winner for Instrumentalist-Piano from The Blues Foundation. Also nominated for Band of the Year – Anthony Geraci and The Boston Blues All-Stars. The players are Anthony Geraci (piano/Hammond organ/vocals), Anne Harris (violin), Walter Trout (guitar), Sugar Ray Norcia (vocals) and Monster Mike Welch (guitar). The set is rather laid back but enjoyable. Click here to check out “The Blues Called My Name”. 

Jim Dan Dee – Real Blues (Jim Dan Dee): “Real Blues is a story that we’ve all lived through, yet only one of us truly has. Over the damndemic we got to know the dark sides of ourselves a little better. We lost some people. We strengthened some bonds. It was a war of self-awareness and patience. Real Blues has 11 stories, some relate to this viral prison we’ve lived in and some are a beautiful distraction that harkens to better times in the past, and a future that is opening up. Fast…. Real Blues” presents an honest and raw portrait of the band’s musical Blues and Rock influences. We tried for a no overdubs approach whenever possible; listeners will get about as close as they can to the live experience without leaving their homes. We really wanted this album to breathe; all the squeaks, breaths, clicks and buzzes remain on record, so the quiet moments have a life of their own.” (https://jimdandee.bandcamp.com/) Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.

Kilborn Alley – Takin’ Time (Run It Back Records): “How can you explain hearing Robert Johnson’s “Traveling Riverside Blues” when you are twelve years old, and knowing at the base of your brain that this is the root of all the guitar music you have ever heard, knowing that the river is your own river, and that the two things can never be separated? How can we tell you what it felt like as a kid to have James Cotton come to your town, and to be blown away as Cotton blew the harp? The music is magical, and its power over us cannot be explained. But here are a couple of things to think about, if you are really determined to sit around and think about the Kilborn Alley Blues Band. He had listened to a lot of rap and reggae as a kid, but there were those damned blues tapes around the house, so when Andy started the guitar in high school, he went straight to Johnson, but also Elmore James and Hooker, with Hendrix as a constant goad. He was drawn to the string bending of B.B. King, and the big psychedelic sound of Michael Bloomfield, but got deep into the sometimes broken and twisted lines and sometimes funky stomp of Buddy Guy, and went from there to Otis Rush and off into the Westside sound. He signed up for the Muddy Waters attitude and point of view, but committed the new band to the inspiration of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, a powerful synthetic concoction where the drums, harp, lead, rhythm, bass, and voice each have a strong, distinctive, almost solo-like dimension, wound tight and sent off in a blues tidal wave.
Trying to explain Andy’s vocal influences would take pages, but just to get started think Sam Cooke and Junior Wells. Josh famously met Andy in a conversation about a Hendrix t-shirt in high school. At that age Josh loved metal, especially appreciating Metallica’s classical sophistication. Josh has always played open-fingered style. Today he has tremendous admiration for Hubert Sumlin, and has worked to bring some of those fantastic Howlin’ Wolf licks to the band. Josh has studied the rhythm guitar parts of soul music, and leads the band when they go exploring in those musical territories. A lot of Kilborn Alley fans would never know, but Joe is an excellent blues guitarist, who has spent many hours working through Son House, Skip James, and Robert Johnson, as well as developing a fast open-fingered rock style. As a harmonica player, Joe has pushed the original inspiration of James Cotton through the two Sonny Boy Williamsons, Big Walter Horton, and Little Walter Jacobs. Little Walter has been a major influence on Kilborn Alley. Joe particularly looks up to living harp masters Kim Wilson and Mark Hummel. Chris came up on rap and reggae, and followed Andy into the blues. His family has a long interest in “old timey” music, and has Chris playing around with the stand-up bass. Ed,obviously, has the longest and most complicated musical pedigree in the band. He has been in rock bands, blues bands, and some very fine country bands. With Kilborn Alley, Ed has been compared in print to the young Sam Lay at his best. Ed plays a minimal kit, and that stands for the whole Kilborn Alley approach to equipment. As Josh once said in a published interview, “We don’t play amplifiers, we play guitars.” Kilborn has played with a lot of great players– way more than will even be suggested here– but some have forced the band to really think about what they were doing and how it fits their own work– Johnny “Yard Dog” Jones, David “Honeyboy” Edwards, Joyce Lawson, Mary Lane, Taildragger Jones, and in his own weird way the late Harmonica Khan. As a band that thinks about what it is trying to do on stage, the huge influences on Kilborn Alley are Luther Allison, Muddy Watters, Paul Butterfield, Junoir Wells, Buddy Guy and most of all, Little Milton. Plainly, Nick Moss has had a big influence on Kilborn Alley, and very directly on PUT IT IN THE ALLEY. With Nick’s long work with Jimmy Rogers, this makes Kilborn Alley some sort of grandchildren in the Muddy Waters blues family tree. Finally, Kilborn Alley is the soulful band they are today through their long work with Abraham Johnson who has made them take seriously Johnnie Taylor and Tyrone Davis, and whose influence marks everything they do.” (https://peoriabluesandheritagefestival.com/lineup/kilborn-alley-blues-band/) It’s a blues/rock/soul blend that keeps you coming back again and again. Click here to share a live song for the news!

Travellin’ Blue Kings – Bending The Rules (Naked): “Let’s rewind first to the end of 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic unfortunately also affects Travellin’ Blue Kings. Originally founded by Belgian and Dutch musicians, it turned out that it was no longer possible to keep the band active & creative across national borders. The renewed “full Belgian” line-up bears solid letters of nobility and an impressive pedigree: Blues Lee, Howlin’ Bill, Rhythm Bombs, Fried Bourbon, Jim Cofey, Hideaway … just to name a few. Travellin’ is not in the name by chance, these five gentlemen worked with their respective bands all over Europe. You could find them on festival stages in Norway, Sweden, Poland, Germany, France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain. And of course, in every corner of Belgium and the Netherlands. Last year, the two Corona singles “Gotta Get Away” and “Too Many People” set the tone and demonstrated a critical view of the world’s goings-on. In February “A Stiffer Drink” once again articulated a state of mind anno 2022. And now there’s the album “Bending The Rules”, the synthesis of the passion and ability of five gentlemen who have nothing more to prove. The title says it all: honest songs that aren’t necessarily painted within the dotted lines of the genre, but who simply fill themselves in. Up to you to judge …” The band: Jb Biesmans (vocals, saxophone, harp), Jimmy Hontelé (guitar), Patrick Cuyvers (Hammond organ, backing vocals), Winne Penninckx (bass) and Marc Gijbels (drums). SOLID … and rockin’! Click this out!

Kopasetically,

Professor Bebop

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