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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - Dissolve
Artist - Richard Nelson/Makrokosmos Orchestra

For those unaware, with the 15-piece Makrokosmos Orchestra, composer/guitarist Richard Nelson provides us all with a big picture view of contemporary creative music.

The orchestra, a New York City outpost for the Maine-based Nelson and co-leader and saxophonist Tim O’Dell, encompasses influences from modern jazz and contemporary classical music, maneuvering deftly between ambitious compositions and adventurous improvisation.

Due out February 2nd, 2024 from Adhyâropa Records on Bandcamp and other services, Dissolve comprises three musical pieces that combine to form a captivating and grand scale narrative (one that Nelson suggests can be recombined in any order).

Furthermore, the title of each disparate, but interconnected work suggests a state of transition, a transformative action fitting an orchestra that exists so boldly in the spaces between genre and category.

1. Dissolve
2. Float
3. Cohere

With Dissolve marking the latest evolution of Nelson’s innovative conception of orchestral compositions, this dutifully elegant, ardently sculpted new recording opens on the 15 minute, titular and opulently spirited Dissolve, which itself still manages to, at times, sound organically cultured.

They then next bring us the more cinematically-hued, gloriously orchestrated Float (12 minutes), where the opening streams of gossamer are as ethereal and as alighting as one could have only hoped to hear, its mid-section a dutiful ambiance of pure melodic perfection.

Lastly we are brought forth the supremely decadent Cohere (12 minutes), which together with its R&B, soulful melodies and, later on, even some engaging drums and bongos dueling, is my own personal favorite of the trio.

The personnel includes such multi-talented players as saxophonist Adam Kolker, trumpeters John Carlson and Jacob Varmus, hornist Marshall Sealy, keyboardist Arco Sandoval, bassists Ken Filiano and Matt Pavolka, percussionist Rex Benincasa, and drummers Scott Neumann and Rob Garcia, among others.

Richard Nelson @ Instagram

Title - Couloir​/​Practitioners Vol. 2 “W”
Artist - Josh Sinton

For those unaware, called “varied and exciting,” as well as “one of the most striking baritone saxophonists,” Josh Sinton has been heard with some of the leading voices of Brooklyn’s creative music scene since arriving in 2004.

He’s led bands as varied as Predicate, musicianer and Ideal Bread as well as performing in the Nate Wooley Quintet, Anthony Braxton’s Tricentric Orchestra and Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society.

He’s studied at the AACM while living in Chicago in the nineties, the New England Conservatory in Boston in the aughts and with friends and colleagues here in NYC.

He also performs regularly on his chosen instrument the baritone saxophone as well as on bass clarinet and alto flute. He also writes music (and words) when the occasion demands and has just released his brand new recording Couloir​/​Practitioners Vol. 2 “W”.

1. Rift (3:21)
2. Scar (3:07)
3. Scission (2:23)
4. Scree (5:49)
5. Talus (4:26)
6. Thrutch (3:08)
7. Clough (2:58)
8. Arroyo (4:39)
9. Foramen (2:34)
10. Abyss (3:32)
11. Interstice (3:36)
12. Defile (5:33)
13. Gill (2:27)
14. Flume (3:04)
15. Seam (3:41)
16. Crevasse (9:09)
17. Willy-Nilly (7:00)
18. Whoosh (6:33)
19. Whoops (7:33)
20. Waterline (10:11)
21. Wrinkles (9:11)
22. Windfall (8:58)

Recorded July 19th, 20th and 24th, 2023 at Oktaven Studio, this dutifully masterful new recording opens on the jaunty Rift and the veritably translucent Scar and the proceeds to bring us the juttering Scission, the rhythmically divine Scree, the impassioned Talus, before unleashing the forceful Thrutch, the cautiously weaving Clough, the soulful Arroyo, and then come the playfully perky Foramen, the aching yearn within Abyss and the smooth-grooved Interstice.

Along next is the furtively cautious Defile and the inquisitive Gill and then come the ethereal Flume, the warm embrace within Seam, the stoically crafted Crevasse, which are in turn backed seamlessly by the aptly-named Willy-Nilly, a beautiful staggered hipsway found within Whoosh and the euphorically-driven Whoops, the album rounding out on the melodic, ten minute Waterline, closing on the curiously-curated Wrinkles and the emphatic nature of Windfall.

Official Purchase Link

Title - Laugh Ash
Artist - Ches Smith

For those unaware, originally from Sacramento, California, Ches Smith is a drummer, percussionist, and composer based in New York.

His most recent projects include the widely acclaimed 2021 album Path of Seven Colors by his ensemble We All Break, which merged Haitian Vodou music with progressive compositional and improvisational approaches, garnering Smith the top spot on The Guardian’s Best Jazz Albums of the Year list and a #7 ranking on the 2021 Arts Fuse critics’ poll; and Interpret It Well, an exploratory outing teaming guitar master Bill Frisell and Smith’s trio with pianist Craig Taborn and violist Mat Maneri.

He has also collaborated with a host of artists on many scenes since the early 2000s, including Marc Ribot, Tim Berne, John Zorn, Darius Jones, David Torn, Nels Cline, Mary Halvorson, Terry Riley, Kris Davis, Dave Holland, Secret Chiefs 3, Good for Cows, and Mr. Bungle, among others.

Smith’s new album, Laugh Ash, is perhaps his most startling and remarkable to date, a breathtakingly original set of music whose touchstones are myriad but ultimately meaningless in the face of an inventive and stunningly unfamiliar expression.

Due out February 2nd, 2024 via Pyroclastic Records, the album makes thrilling use of disorientation and juxtaposition: starkly beautiful chamber melodies coexist with synthetic rhythms, explosive bursts of improvisation with elusive song forms, austere ambience with thundering complexity.

Eclectic, undoubtedly, but in a paradoxical way that is defiantly cohesive while never losing sight of the fact that none of it should be.

1. Minimalism
2. Remote Convivial
3. Sweatered Webs (Hey Mom)
4. Shaken, Stirred Silence
5. The Most Fucked
6. Winter Sprung
7. Disco Inferred
8. Unyielding Daydream Welding
9. Exit Shivers

With all the music composed and arranged by Ches Smith himself, this rather diligently-sculpted new recording opens on the propulsive Minimalism and the swirling synth-driven percussional work of Remote Convivial and they are followed by the Eastern-imbibed Sweatered Webs (Hey Mom) and the jaunty Shaken, Stirred Silence.

Along next are the static melodies and rhythms that come together to make up The Most Fucked and in deep contrast, the wind chime ambiance of Winter Sprung, and they are in turn backed by the jagged electronic beats and pulses of Disco Inferred, the album rounding out on the stoically-chiming, veritably cinematic Unyielding Daydream Welding, coming to a close on the aptly-titled Exit Shivers.

Other Musicians:
Shara Lunon - voice and vocal processing
Anna Webber - flute
Oscar Noriega - clarinets
James Brandon Lewis - tenor saxophone
Nate Wooley - trumpet
Jennifer Choi - violin
Kyle Armbrust - viola
Michael Nicolas - cello
Shahzad Ismaily - bass and keyboards
Ches Smith - electronics, programming, vibes, drums, tubular bells, glockenspiel, timpani, tam tam, metal percussion

Official Purchase Link

Title - Live At The Bottom Line, 1974
Artist - Steeleye Span

For those unaware, Fairport Convention co-founder and bassist Ashley Hutchings and legendary singer, Sandy Denny parted ways with the band after their classic Liege And Leaf album.

Hutchings recruited Tim Hart and Maddy Prior (an established folk duo) and Terry and Gay Woods, naming their new band after a character in the traditional song “Horkstow Grange.”

While their line-up fluctuated (Terry Woods would leave and later become the bassist in the classic Pogues line-up a decade later), the band solidified and continues to this day.

Staying true to their folk roots, the band found themselves not only supporting Jethro Tull on tour, but signing to Chrysalis Records. Their breakthrough sixth album released in 1974, Now We Are Six, referring to both number of album releases and band members, (with a cameo from David Bowie on saxophone!) That release included the track “Thomas The Rhymer,” which has become a Steeleye concert staple.

On their fourth tour of the US, Steeleye Span played New York’s fabled Bottom Line in July of 1974, showcasing not only material from their new and previous albums, but adding the classic jig and reel medleys the band had become known for in performance.

The 74-minute set includes their #14 UK hit “Gaudete,” the classic “John Barleycorn,” and much more. Many of the US tour dates were headlining shows, they garnered good press and some were broadcast on local FM radio, including the Bottom Line show which was carried on WNYU-FM.

Live At The Bottom Line, 1974 documents what may have been Steeleye Span’s longest and most successful tour of the US, and we’re lucky that on this New York City night, the tapes were rolling to capture this fantastic ever-evolving live band. Slàinte mhath!

1. Beg Your Leave
2. Irish Jigs (including Paddy Clancy’s)
3. Alison Gross
4. Song Introduction to “Cam Ye O’er Frae France”
5. Cam Ye O’er Frae France
6. Song Introduction to “John Barleycorn”
7. John Barleycorn
8. Song Introduction to “Little Sir Hugh”
9. Little Sir Hugh
10. Song Introduction to “Two Magicians”
11. Two Magicians
12. Saucy Sailor
13. Robbery With Violins/Kitty Come Down From Limerick/O’Rourke’s Reel
14. Summer Is A Comin’ In
15. Staines Morris/In Peascod Time
16. One Misty Moisty Morning
17. Gaudete
18. Thomas The Rhymer
19. The Musical Priest/The Silver Spear/The High Reel
20. Nautical Medley: Hearts Of Oak/A Life On The Ocean Wave/Rule Britannia
21. Royal Forester
22. The Mason’s Apron

All tracks previously unissued.

A highly influential British band who helped deliver folk-rock to the mainstream in the mid-’70s, Steeleye Span have enjoyed a lengthy tenure at the vanguard of British roots music, innovating their country’s traditional songs while adding a host of their own original material to its canon.

Along with Fairport Convention, with whom they share many similarities, they are the most recognizable and enduring group to have sprung from Britain’s late-’60s folk-rock movement.

This devastatingly good live recording from 1974 opens on the melodically pleasing Beg Your Leave, the frenetically-charged Irish Jigs (including Paddy Clancy’s), and the guitar-picked Alison Gross, and they are followed by a quick Song Introduction to “Cam Ye O’er Frae France” and then the jaunty Scottish track itself, another quick Song Introduction to “John Barleycorn” (which includes the reveal that they had gone to see The Exorcist that afternoon) and the flourishing song thereafter, a Song Introduction to “Little Sir Hugh” and the fervently-driven cut itself, and then the Song Introduction to “Two Magicians,” (which, we are told with a smirk, informs us the song was collected by a remote tribe in the Andes), backed by the rhythmic track itself.

Next up is the dutiful hipway of the forthright balladry of Saucy Sailor, and the funky Robbery With Violins/Kitty Come Down From Limerick/O’Rourke’s Reel and they are in turn backed seamlessly by the mid-tempo handclapper Summer Is A Comin’ In, the simply mesmerizing Staines Morris/In Peascod Time, the veritably playful One Misty Moisty Morning, the live set rounding out on the harmonized Gaudete, the drum-led rocker Thomas The Rhymer, and then we get the dynamic Musical Priest/The Silver Spear/The High Reel and the impassioned Nautical Medley: Hearts Of Oak/A Life On The Ocean Wave/Rule Britannia, the live set closing on the spirited Royal Forester and the tireless fiddle work found within the propulsive The Mason’s Apron.

Official Purchase Link

Title - Guardians
Artist - Annie Chen

For those unaware, Annie Chen is a vocalist, composer, and bandleader from Beijing, based in New York since 2013. Her distinctive style draws on a rich continuum of musical traditions from Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

This creative vision – showcased on her releases Pisces the Dreamer (2014), Secret Treetop (2018) and her brand new album Guardians – is supported by years of experience in China’s jazz, blues, and funk scenes as well as active study and collaboration within New York’s vibrant jazz community.

Annie’s current focus is her Guardians ensemble, whose self-titled debut was released February 23rd, 2024 on JZ Music. Centered on an environmentally themed programmatic suite, the album features a dynamic cast of improvisers including Satoshi Takeishi (percussion), Fung Chern Hwei (violin), Vitor Goncalves (piano/accordion), Alex LoRe (woodwinds), Marius Duboule (guitar), and Mat Muntz (bass).

The project combines Annie’s compositional sense of storytelling and imagery with an experimental improvisational vocabulary, representing an exciting new chapter in her creative output.

1. Rozpacz (Despair) (7:19)
2. Underground Dance (6:31)
3. Rosemary’s Lullaby (6:30)
4. Güle Güle Istanbul (7:44)
5. Guardians Suite I – The Northern Eyes (7:46)
6. Guardians Suite II – The Whale River Song (6:06)
7. Guardians Suite III – Jellyfish All Around (5:34)
8. Guardians Suite IV – Vanished Tails, No Return (6:37)

First up on this eclectically-charged new recording is the emphasized Rozpacz (Despair) and the more melodically-stanched Underground Dance and they are backed by the aching yearn found within Rosemary’s Lullaby and the Eastern-flavored Güle Güle Istanbul.

The second half of the album is a quartet known as the Guardians Suite, where I – The Northern Eyes opens the musical adventure on a lushly sculpted track, and is in turned backed by the rhythmically-scattered II – The Whale River Song, then we get impassioned III – Jellyfish All Around, the album closing on the more ornately strewn IV – Vanished Tails, No Return.

A signature trait of Annie Chen’s music is its integration of experimental aesthetics with a strong sense of imagery and narrative. In her original compositions as well as her interpretations of the music of others, Annie’s approach straddles the line between abstract and programmatic music, aided by unconventional song structures, unique instrumentation, and a highly collaborative band concept.

These properties are on full display in the music presented in the newly composed Guardians suite, which provides the record’s thematic center. Preceding the suite are two new arrangements of older compositions by Annie and two interpretations of pieces by 20th-century Polish composers, all of which are drawn into the musical orbit of Guardians to form a cohesive and evocative body of work.

Through this unique set of music, Annie and her band question the relationship between humans and nature and its consequences: crisis, loss, and the possibility of hope.

Annie Chen @ Bandcamp

Title - Unwritten
Artist - Kaze

After 13 years together, international co-operative quartet Kaze make their first completely improvised album.

Featuring Satoko Fujii, Natsuki Tamura, Christian Pruvost, and Peter Orins, Unwritten releases February 9th, 2024 via Circum/Libra.

Kaze, the co-operative quartet featuring Japanese composer-pianist Satoko Fujii and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura along with French trumpeter Christian Pruvost and drummer Peter Orins, have released their first completely improvised album in their 13-year history.

For them it was not such a big stretch though. In fact, our compositions for Kaze have always been pretexts for improvisation, says Orins. Having played a mix of written music and free improvisation for so many years, leaves us a strong consciousness of structure, and in the end I think it’s hard to tell that what we play on Unwritten is only improvised.

1. Thirteen Years (36:50)
2. We Waited (17:25)
3. Evolving (8:30)

From a stylistic point of view and embedded throughout with some quite stunning, and for the most part, spontaneous improvisations, the album opens on the sonicly empowered, and equally balanced musical shapes that come to the fore on the 36 minute long opus Thirteen Years, and then we get brought forth the capriciously moody, 17 minute We Waited (where her somber, wistful piano provides a definitive arc throughout), the closing track being the undeviatingly, at first, but soon elevating, rising whirling compilations within the 8 minute Evolving.

Satoko Fujii @ Facebook

Satoko Fujii @ Twitter

Title - NOW That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 89
Artist - Various

For those not in the know, the just-released ‘NOW That’s What I Call Music! 89’ features 17 major current hits from today’s hottest artists, including Olivia Rodrigo, Paul Russell, Tate McRae, Billie Eilish, *NSYNC and Morgan Wallen.

Oh, and if all that wasn’t enough, each numeric NOW release also features “NOW Presents What’s Next” bonus tracks, previewing tomorrow’s biggest hits. Which means NOW 89 also features hot new tracks from Kyndal Inskeep, Jonah Kagen, Fridayy, Rhyan Douglas and Hannah Wicklund!

1. Olivia Rodrigo​​​ - Get Him Back!
2. Paul Russell​​​ - Lil Boo Thang
3. Tate McRae​​​ - Greedy
4. Doja Cat​​​​ - Agora Hills
5. Tyla​​​​​ - Water
6. JID Feat. 21 Savage and Baby Tate - ​Surround Sound
7. Kenya Grace​​​ - Strangers
8. Charli XCX & Sam Smith​​ - In the City
9. Sabrina Carpenter​​​ - Feather
10. Zara Larsson & David Guetta​ - On My Love
11. *NSYNC & Justin Timberlake - ​Better Place (From Trolls Band Together)
12. AJR​​​​ - Yes I’m A Mess
13. Billie Eilish - ​​​What Was I Made For? (From The Motion Picture “Barbie”)
14. Diplo, Jessie Murph & Polo G​ - Heartbroken
15. Teddy Swims​​​ - Lose Control
16. Morgan Wallen​​​ - Thinkin’ Bout Me
17. Noah Kahan - ​​​Stick Season

This free-flowing work of musical art opens on a song that was notably entirely shot on the new iPhone 15 Pro, Olivia Rodrigo​​​’s rangy alt-pop yearn within the full blooded Get Him Back! and the old school vibe and sound of Paul Russell​ with Lil Boo Thang, and they are followed by the early 2000s pop styling within Tate McRae’s Greedy, another prime example of the thin line between crazy and genius in Doja Cat’s Agora Hills, the relaxed summer vibes of Water from Tyla​​​​, and then come the absolute banger that I myself only learnt about from Tik Tok in JID featuring 21 Savage and Baby Tate on ​Surround Sound, a track that makes the sky slowly become brighter when I hear it, Kenya Grace’s Strangers, and then we get given the absolute bop cut from Charli XCX & Sam Smith​​’s In the City.

Up next is Sabrina Carpenter​​​’s Feather, a pop-rock song that openly talks about the relief and freedom that comes from ending a toxic and exhausting relationship and then Zara Larsson & David Guetta’s​ harmonious On My Love, and they are in turn backed by the MTV Awards-revealed brilliance of *NSYNC & Justin Timberlake with ​Better Place (From Trolls Band Together), the relatable Yes I’m A Mess from AJR, an emotional musical struggle brought forth within Billie Eilish’s ​​​What Was I Made For? (From The Motion Picture “Barbie”), the top music rounding out on the hook friendly Diplo, Jessie Murph & Polo G​ track Heartbroken, the remarkable, raw, gritty, bluesy sound of Teddy Swims​on Lose Control, the countrified R&B-imbibed Thinkin’ Bout Me by Morgan Wallen​and then comes the phenomenally impassioned Stick Season from Noah Kahan.

18. Kyndal Inskeep​​​ - Growing Pains
19. Jonah Kagen - ​​​The Roads
20. Fridayy​​​​ - When It Comes To You
21. Rhyan Douglas​​​ - Last Page
22. Hannah Wicklund​​ - Witness

The impressive NOW Presents What’s Next section opens with the meaning Growing Pains by Kyndal Inskeep and the beautiful, dreamlike Jonah Kagen and his track ​​The Roads, before we are given the touching, uplifting love support and happiness that bleeds through every word within Fridayy’s When It Comes To You, the beautiful hidden gem of Last Page from Rhyan Douglas, the disc closing out on the ​​​powerful voice and phenomenal guitar skills by Hannah Wicklund​on her stunning Witness.

Official CD Purchase Links

Title - NOW That’s What I Call ’90s R&B
Artist - Various

For those not in the know, NOW That’s What I Call 90s R&B features 13 of the best of the R&B hits from the ‘90s decade with tracks from Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, En Vogue, Babyface, Toni Braxton, and Whitney Houston.

1. Mariah Carey​​​ - Fantasy
2. Mary J. Blige​ - ​​Real Love
3. En Vogue​​​​ - My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)
4. Bell Biv Devoe​​ - ​Poison
5. Bobby Brown​​​ - Humpin’ Around
6. Montell Jordan - ​​​This is How We Do It
7. Donell Jones​ - ​​U Know What’s Up
8. Babyface​​​​ - Whip Appeal
9. K-Ci & JoJo​​​​ - All My Life 10. Brandy & Monica​​​ - The Boy Is Mine
11. Brian McKnight​​​ - Anytime
12. Toni Braxton​​​ - Unbreak My Heart
13. Whitney Houston - ​​​Exhale (Shoop Shoop) (from “Waiting To Exhale - Original ​​​​​Soundtrack)

The impressive NOW That’s What I Call ’90s R&B album opens with a singer who will go down in history as the one of the best, not only for her voice but her songs, for they never get old, much like the timeless, dreamy Fantasy (Mariah Carey) which is followed by the emotion, passion, and power that Mary J. Blige​ throws out within ​​Real Love, the absolute dance floor banger from En Vogue​ My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It), Bell Biv Devoe’s iconic ​R&B classic Poison, and then we get one of the Kings of the R&B period for these songs, Bobby Brown with his pulsating Humpin’ Around.

Along next on this hit after hit after hit new compilation is an absolute masterpiece from Montell Jordan with ​​​the mega-monster This is How We Do It and the track that features a flawless verse by Lefteye, Donell Jones​’ ​​U Know What’s Up and they are in turn backed seamlessly by a genuine musical national treasure, Babyface and his lush Whip Appeal, K-Ci & JoJo​​​​’s timeless classic All My Life, and Brandy & Monica​​​’ awesomely breathtaking duet The Boy Is Mine.

The disc rounds out with the genre-crossing R&B of Brian McKnight​​ with Anytime and then comes the expressively amazing vocals from Toni Braxton​ on her aching yearn found within Unbreak My Heart, the final track being the beautifully emotive, legendary voice of Whitney Houston one her ​​​Exhale (Shoop Shoop) (from “Waiting To Exhale“ - Original ​​​​​Soundtrack).

Official CD Purchase Links

Title - Chill
Artist - Lenny Williams

Vocalist Lenny Williams joined Tower Of Power in 1972 after releasing singles as a solo artist on Fantasy, Galaxy, and Atco Records. His first release with the band was their self-titled, third album, which went Gold.

After two albums with the group, Williams returned to his solo career — releasing albums in through the end of the 1970s on Warner Bros. Motown, ABC and MCA Records. Material from those albums became a hotbed for sampling decades later by Kanye West, Mobb Deep, Scarface, Young Jeezy, and others.

In 1986, Williams was recruited by award winning producer Preston Glass to sing lead vocals on a track by jazz artist Kenny G. The track, “Don’t Make Me Wait For Love,” hit #15 on the Pop charts, and the album, Duotones, went on to sell over five million copies in the US.

Lenny would reconnect with Duotones Producer Producer Glass (Stacy Lattisaw & Johnny Gill, Jermaine Stewart, George Benson, Earth, Wind & Fire, Stanley Jordan) in 1994 for a new album, Chill.

The album contains originals from Williams, Glass, and other Duotones contributors, as well as covers of hits by Daryl Hall & John Oates (“Sara Smile”) and McFadden & Whitehead (“Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now”).

Chill returns after being out of print on CD for 30 years. Featuring fresh remastering and updated artwork including new liner notes from Producer and journalist Kevin L. Goins, there has never been a better time to just Chill.

1. Chill
2. Baby, You Caught My Eye
3. Sara Smile
4. Driftin’
5. Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now
6. It Could Have Been You
7. Has Anybody Seen My Heart
8. Baby Take It Off
9. No One’s Ever Loved Me
10. Sentimental
11. I Do
12. There’s No Hiding Place

Although Lenny Williams has had a long solo career, he is still best-known for his three years as the lead singer of Tower of Power, one of the top funk/soul bands of the ’70s. But Williams was pursuing a solo career before joining Tower of Power, and he resumed his solo career after leaving that famous Oakland outfit in 1975.

Born in Little Rock, AR, on February 6th, 1945, Williams was only a child when he started singing in church (the place where so many great R&B singers got their start). Williams, who moved to Oakland, CA, when he was 14, planned to become a Christian minister but ended up changing his mind and decided to pursue a career as a secular R&B singer.

In 1969, Williams signed with Fantasy and recorded his first single, Lisa’s Gone, a soul ballad that was far from a big hit, but did receive some airplay in the Bay Area. After providing a second single for Fantasy, Williams was signed to Atlantic by Jerry Wexler and recorded a version of the Thom Bell/Linda Creed gem People Make the World Go Round.

Williams’ version might have been a hit, had it not been for the Stylistics, that is. Unfortunately for Williams, the Stylistics’ famous version of People Make the World Go Round came out as a single and soared to the top of the charts before Atlantic had a chance to release Williams’ version!

Oh, and for the record, Michael Jackson also recorded the tune in the early ’70s, although not with the same set of lyrics that the Stylistics embraced. But that setback was hardly the end of Williams’ career, for in 1972, he was hired as the new lead singer of Tower of Power. Because the band’s previous lead singer, Rick Stevens (best-known for his soaring performance on the hit ballad You’re Still a Young Man) had recently been convicted of murder, a replacement was needed, and Williams was definitely the man for the job.

Williams’ three years with Tower of Power established him as a big name in soul and funk and he became famous for his lead vocals on major hits like What Is Hip?, Don’t Change Horses (In the Middle of a Stream), This Time It’s Real and the ballad So Very Hard to Go.

But while Tower of Power was a big break for Williams, he only stuck around for three years for in 1975, the Bay Area resident left the band and became a full-time solo artist. His first few solo albums (recorded for Motown) didn’t do much, but his solo career took off in a big way when he recorded Choosing You for ABC. That 1977 release (which contains the major hit Shoo Doo Fu Fu Ooh!) almost went gold in the U.S.

Williams next solo effort, Spark of Love (also on ABC), became his first gold solo album and boasted the hit ballad Cause I Love You. After providing a few albums for MCA, Williams recorded for the independent Rocshire label in 1983 and 1984; when that company folded, he was deprived of a $50,000 dollar advance he said he was owed. Disgusted with music industry, Williams considered giving up singing and devoted a lot of his time to real estate investments.

As for the Chill album, in general, given this is indeed a review for it, well, it opens on the smooth Chill and the groovy R&B vibe of Baby, You Caught My Eye and then we get a lush rendition of Hall & Oates’ Sara Smile, a laid low Driftin’ and a funktastic Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now (featuring Lonnel Williams) and the beautiful ballad It Could Have Been You.

This tremendously effective album continues onward with the smoothly romantic Has Anybody Seen My Heart and the gentle R&B flow within Baby Take It Off, and they are in turn followed by the dutiful piano ballad No One’s Ever Loved Me, the low slung finger-snapper Sentimental, the album rounding out on the steadfast I Do, closing on the dance floor groove of There’s No Hiding Place.

Official Purchase Link

Title - Kentucky
Artist - Neal Rosner

The new album by Neal Rosner titled Kentucky chronicles the artist’s 12-year residency in Madisonville, KY and features songs that were written between 1972 -2023. Engineered by Steve Baker, a small studio with a big heart, the album is divided into 2 parts: Plain (secular) and With Peanut (semi- religious).

Indeed, Neal plays keyboards, some percussion and vocals and some rather terrific local musicians are featured on the album, like guitarists Boscoe France and Alonzo Pennington.

Says Neal, “I especially like doing the harmonies. When you sing with yourself you often have a good vocal blend.”

Furthermore, some of the songs are written about past and present events, such as “Micajah” (USA first serial killers), “The Radical” (SLA Shootout in LA 1974), “Red and Blue” (written after the 2016 election, political divisions and the curse of social media), “Le Cirque Des Enfants” (Children’s Circus song) and “What is God/ Seed of Abraham” (we are all one).

1. The Choice
2. Apocalypse Chicago
3. Les Cirque Des Enfants
4. Frances
5. I Guess The Engagement Is Off
6. Me, Myself & I
7. Micajah
8. Red and Blue
9. The Radical
10. What Price Would You Pay
11. It Lives In The Attic
12. Do You Want To Go To Heaven
13. Avinu Malkenu
14. The 3 Prayers Psalm 19:14
15. What Is God/Seed Of Abraham
16. Western Kentucky Come On Down

The album opens on the pleasing melodies within The Choice and the guitar and Hammond-driven Apocalypse Chicago, and they are followed by the playfully flirtatious Les Cirque Des Enfants, the steadfast Frances, the lonesome, accordion-imbibed I Guess The Engagement Is Off, and then we get the yearnful Me, Myself & I, the jaunty Micajah, and then the family storytelling found within Red and Blue.

Along next is the low slung blues rock vibe of The Radical and the rhythmically alt-rock feel of What Price Would You Pay and they are in turn backed by the soaring synth rock of It Lives In The Attic, the sprawling Do You Want To Go To Heaven, the impassioned, chant like Avinu Malkenu, the recording rounding out on the harmonic prog feel of The 3 Prayers Psalm 19:14, the fun alt-pop, Gospel rock feel of What Is God/Seed Of Abraham, coming to a close on the accordion-drum-Hammond powered, free flowing pop-rock of Western Kentucky Come On Down.

Neal Rosner: keyboards, bass and keyboard, percussion, vocals
Steve Baker: engineer, co-producer, percussion
Barb Rosner: backup vocals, spoken word
Alonzo Pennington: guitar
Boscoe France: guitar
James Dillingham: guitar

Official Spotify Purchase Link

Neal Rosner @ Facebook

Title - Acceleration Due To Gravity
Artist - JonesVille

Hot Cup Records is proud to present Jonesville, the second release by the nonet Acceleration Due to Gravity. Jonesville features four new compositions by bassist/composer Moppa Elliott as well as performances of three early pieces by the legendary bassist and composer Sam Jones on the occasion of his centennial year. Each of Elliott’s compositions is inspired by the music of Sam Jones and named after a town in Pennsylvania, as usual.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Elliott created blindfold tests for a small circle of musicians and friends which led to completing his collection of all the recordings made by Sam Jones during his illustrious and long career. For the entirety of 2024, Elliott will host a weekly radio broadcast on WAYO in Rochester, NY where he will play music from each of Sam Jones’ recordings in roughly chronological order, interspersed with commentary and context.

Elliott’s original compositions, as performed by ADTG, are based loops that undergo transformation during each repetition and are staggered against each other. Each tune is made up of a handful of musical phrases (which in other circumstances could be samples) that loop and repeat, but never in the same way due to both written variations and the spontaneous improvisations of the band members. This allows each piece to retain both a unique sound world and forward momentum, constantly surprising the listener, and often, the band.

Elliott takes as a model the music of The Wu-Tang Clan, The Roots, Run the Jewels, DJ Premiere and other hip-hop artists who create song forms that are vehicles for multiple soloists and do not emphasize a central “hook” or refrain. Each of Elliott’s tunes has three solo sections built into it, and no recurring melodic chorus in order to more clearly emphasize the central role of the improvised solo.

1. Waddle
2. Geiger
3. Sparks
4. Energy
5. Power
6. Bangor

This delightfully abounding new recording opens on the aptly-named, stridently flourishing Waddle and then brings us the funky horns that drive Geiger, the horn-licious Sparks, the soulfully upbeat pulse of Energy, the album rounding out on the veritably cinematic Power, coming to a close on the jauntily impassioned Bangor.

Official Purchase Link

Title - Advancing on a Wild Pitch Disasters, Vol II
Artist - Moppa Elliott

For those unaware, Disasters Vol. 2, out February 16th, 2024 on Hot Cup Records, is the much anticipated second release by the quintet Advancing on a Wild Pitch.

The recording features seven new compositions by Moppa Elliott named after towns in Pennsylvania that experienced a train collision, toxic smog, police bombings, or other disasters.

It follows up Disasters Vol. 1 recorded by MOPDtK, and this tour marks a dual celebration of both albums, with both bands. presents the new release with his quintet Advancing on a Wild Pitch.

Acclaimed bassist, composer, and arranger Moppa Elliott has always been an original with a singular vision, gathering equally imaginative and skilled colleagues in some of the most entertaining, unique ensembles in jazz. From Tuesday, February 21 – Saturday, February 24, three of those bands – Mostly Other People Do the Killing (MOPDtK), Advancing on a Wild Pitch, and Acceleration Due to Gravity – perform in Washington, DC; Pennsylvania; and New York in support of two ambitious new recordings: Disasters Vol. 2 and Jonesville, the second release from the nonet Acceleration Due to Gravity.

Jonesville features four new Elliott compositions as well as performances of three early pieces by the legendary bassist and composer Sam Jones on the occasion of his centennial year. Each of Elliott’s compositions is inspired by the music of Sam Jones and, as usual, named after a town in Pennsylvania.

1. Powelton Village (4:51)
2. Cobb’s Creek (5:10)
3. Marcus Hook (5:12)
4. The Donora Smog (4:37)
5. Mud Run (6:02)
6. Van Meter (5:08)
7. Dimock (5:01)

Second volume of compositions named after towns in Pennsylvania that experienced historical disasters. This magnificently impassioned new recording opens on the pleasing swing within Powelton Village and the lighter, piano jazz fare of Cobb’s Creek, and they are followed by the low slung Marcus Hook, the rhythmically-sculpted The Donora Smog, the flourishing Mud Run, to album rounding out on the stoic, veritably ethereal Van Meter, closing on the upbeat finger-snapper Dimock.

Sam Kulik - trombone
Charles Evans - baritone saxophone
Danny Fox - piano
Moppa Elliott - bass
Christian Coleman - drums

Official Purchase Link

Title - Duo Work
Artist - Grdina Lillinger

The JUNO award-winning Vancouver-based guitarist, composer improvisor, and master oud player Gordon Grdina is a dauntless musical explorer whose interests run the gamut from free improvisation and progressive jazz to traditional Arabic music, often weaving deftly between those desperate extremes.

Two new releases on his own Attaboygirl Records imprint showcase the stunning diversity of Grdina’s imagination: the third release by his jazz-Arabic music hybrid band The Marrow expands to include the captivating Persian vocalist Fathieh Honari, while Duo Work is a dizzying multi-directional collaboration between Grdina’s electric and MIDI guitars and the virtuosic German drummer Christian Lillinger.

While Grdina often moves from guitar to oud within the space of a single project or album, these two new efforts draw a hard line between the two. Gordon Grdina’s The Marrow with Fathieh Honari is a showcase for his deft oud work.

Duo Work is a wildly different project, electrifying and angular where The Marrow is trance-like and questing. The album continues the thrilling collaboration between Grdina and Lillinger, which has been documented via the quartet Square Peg (with violist Mat Maneri and bassist Shahzad Ismally) and a trio with Maneri.

Throughout Grdina is featured on guitar and MIDI guitar, a relatively new addition to his arsenal previously heard on Oddly Enough, a solo album featuring the compositions of Tim Berne. The instrument features synth pick-ups with MIDI controllers that allow Grdina to transform the sound of the guitar into virtually any instrument - existent or otherwise.

The axe makes for a perfect pairing with Lillinger’s expansive sound. “I wanted to fill a large sound space since Christian is quite an orchestral drummer,” Grdina explains. “I wanted to create a large sound world that could define many specific timbral spaces while retaining the freedom of an improvising duo that can turn on a dime.”

The album features four of Grdina’s compositions along with a set of improvised excursions. Each of the set’s concise pieces (most under four minutes) were isolated from longer free improvisations, chosen for their bold sense of structure and intentionality, then manipulated in post-production in a final act of (re)composition.

Grdina assigned song titles based on an impulsive sensory association. Indeed, Gerhard, named for the artist Gerhard Richter, is a clue to the overall sound.

“His paintings feel so metallic, modern and bright, yet have this warmth and soothing feeling to them,” Grdina explains. “I wanted to stress the humanity that comes through these pieces that don’t seem very natural on the surface.”

1. Song One
2. Dissolution
3. Impala
4. Bunker
5. Ash
6. Encounters
7. Pixilated
8. Jalopy
9. Gerhard
10. Big Blue
11. Traverse
12. Song Two

This supremely impassioned, heartfelt and gloriously structured new recording opens on the dogged Song One and the technical brilliance of Dissolution and they are then backed by the nuanced Impala, the rhythmically jaunty Bunker, and then comes the unyielding punk-jazz of Ash and the dynamically industrious Encounters.

Along next is one of my own personal favorites here, the resonating Pixilated and the multiple palettes woven within Jalopy and they are in turn followed seamlessly by the textural Gerhard, the guitar-electronic blending within Big Blue, the album rounding out on the incisive Traverse, coming to a close on the atmospheric Song Two.

Official Purchase Link

Grdina Lillinger @ Bandcamp

Title - Gordon Grdina’s The Marrow with Fathieh Honari
Artist - Gordon Grdina

Led by oud player Gordon Grdina, The Marrow brings together Arabic Maqam and Persian Dastgah with western improvised music and jazz.

The music is intricate and delicate, holding a deep connection to the past while looking forward. The group plays original and traditional works with Hank Roberts (cello), Mark Helias (bass), and Hamin Honari (tombak and daf).

The JUNO award-winning Vancouver-based guitarist, composer improvisor, and master oud player Gordon Grdina is a dauntless musical explorer whose interests run the gamut from free improvisation and progressive jazz to traditional Arabic music, often weaving deftly between those desperate extremes.

Two new releases on his own Attaboygirl Records imprint showcase the stunning diversity of Grdina’s imagination: the third release by his jazz-Arabic music hybrid band The Marrow expands to include the captivating Persian vocalist Fathieh Honari, while Duo Work is a dizzying multi-directional collaboration between Grdina’s electric and MIDI guitars and the virtuosic German drummer Christian Lillinger.

While Grdina often moves from guitar to oud within the space of a single project or album, these two new efforts draw a hard line between the two. Gordon Grdina’s The Marrow with Fathieh Honari is a showcase for his deft oud work.

The Marrow was originally conceived as a means of bridging the worlds of Arabic, jazz and improvised music. The core quartet brings Grdina together with veteran improvisors Hank Roberts (cello) and Mark Hallas (bass) and the Iranian-Canadian percussionist Hamin Honari.

The new album adds a rich additional layer with the addition of Hamin’s mother, the lauded Persian vocalist Fathieh Honari, through a mix of traditional songs, mid-20th century Iranian popular music, and classic Rumi poems set to Grdina’s original compositions.

“In Persian music they say that it’s not really music unless there’s poetry,” Grdina says. “So adding vocals pushes the album more towards a Persian aesthetic. I miss some element of that because I don’t speak Farsi, though I connect with Fathieh’s beautiful vocals as a sensory feeling and an emotional expression.”

1. Not of Them
2. Raqib
3. Raqs e Paravaneh
4. Break the Branch
5. Qalandar

This lushly orchestrated, wholly impassioned new recording opens on the twelve minute musical opus Not of Them, and is a stunning construction, so much so that has to be heard from start to finish to truly be fully appreciated. That is then backed by the all-embracing Raqib and the sensory push found within Raqs e Paravaneh, the album rounding out on the forlorn-hued, yet stirringly embodied Break the Branch, coming to a righteous close on the haunting Baluchi traditional song Qalandar.

Gordon Grdina - oud
Mark Helias - bass
Hank Roberts - cello
Hamin Honari - percussion
Fathieh Honari - voice

Official Purchase Link

Grdina Lillinger @ Bandcamp

Title - Sextet Session
Artist - Doug MacDonald

For those not in the know, Sextet Session is a brand new album by Los Angeles guitarist Doug MacDonald. The album features original compositions by MacDonald in addition to a few choice Standards, and Doug also wrote the arrangements for the trumpet and tenor saxophone.

Doug MacDonald is a fine bop-based guitarist in the tradition of Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel, and Joe Pass. He was raised in Honolulu and started on guitar when he was 13, having briefly played trombone before. MacDonald moved to Los Angeles in 1984 after a year in Las Vegas and made a strong impression as a freelancer.

In 1990, he relocated to New York. Doug MacDonald has played with top musicians, including Stan Getz, Sarah Vaughan, Buddy Rich, Hank Jones, Bob Cooper, Bill Holman, Jack Sheldon, and many others, recording with Sheldon, the Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra, and as a leader for Cexton and Resurgent; one of the latter is a nonet album.

1. Desert Blues
2. Whispering
3. Gee’s Flat
4. You’ve Changed
5. AT #33
6. Try Ads
7. Si Miner
8. Bubbles in the Wine

This deliciously abundant, wholly impassioned new recording opens on the upbeat and joyous Desert Blues and then we get brought forth the Brazilian samba beat found driving Whispering, the luxurious Gee’s Flat (a malapropism, a play on words, like the key of Gb), and the melodic standard You’ve Changed.

Along next is the synthesizer and harmonizer-hued AT #33 which is in turn backed seamlessly by the all-encompassing Try Ads, and then comes the Spanish-tinged Si Miner (a C minor key in music as opposed to “see coal miner”), the album rounding out on a dutifully sculpted Bubbles in the Wine.

Guitar - Doug MacDonald, Tenor Sax - Doug Webb, Trumpet - Aaron Janik, Piano - Josh Nelson, Bass - Mike Gurrola, Drums - Charles Ruggerio

Doug MacDonald @ Instagram

Title - Hip To The Skip
Artist - Christian Fabian Trio

Jazz bassist Christian Fabian has returned with a new trio album called Hip to the Skip. Fabian plays a variety of styles (he swings hard in the Lionel Hampton Big Band), but for this outing he opted to explore funk and fusion jazz.

The bassist and bandleader’s group is filled out by keyboardist Matt King and drummer Jason Marsalis, who said “This is the first album I’ve ever done where I’m playing in the funk/fusion vein the whole session. This was a lot of fun and listeners will be surprised by the music.”

Along with original songs, Fabian arranged some beloved jazz standards in the fusion style, taking cues from artists like Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, and more.

1. Hip to the Skip
2. Moanin’
3. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
4. This Can’t Be Love
5. Incognito
6. When the Saints Go Marching In
7. Zig 7
8. (Funky) Four
9. In the Name of Feminism
10. Sidekick
11. Effendi

This genuinely authentic new recording opens on the vibrancy of the titular Hip to the Skip and the stridently flavored Moanin’ and they are then followed by the smoothly lush grooves laid down within Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, the R&B bliss of This Can’t Be Love, and then we get an impassioned fervency that drives Incognito.

Up next is one of my own personal favorites, the laid back, low slung melodies that make up the beloved When the Saints Go Marching In and the funky Hammond work of Zig 7, and they are then in turn backed by the aptly-named (Funky) Four, the lovingly jaunty In the Name of Feminism, the album rounding out on the all-embracing Sidekick, closing on the rhythmic beauty Effendi.

Official Hip To The Skip Music Video

Title - 10,000 Hours
Artist - Hiruy Tirfe

For those unaware, the sound collage that opens saxophonist Hiruy Tirfe’s debut album, 10,000 Hours, features a host of influential voices.

Prominent among them, naturally, is author Malcolm Gladwell, whose oft-quoted theory about the time required to gain expertise gives the album its title.

But it also includes former Sixer Allen Iverson, via an excerpt of his legendary “practice” rant; Questlove discussing sacrifice; Will Smith on his “ridiculous, sickening work ethic”; and Barack and Michelle Obama lecturing students on hard work.

It’s clear that Tirfe has drawn inspiration from these motivational pronouncements, and that it’s paid off: at 29, Tirfe has performed with The Roots, Patti LaBelle, Solange Knowles and other luminaries, while honing his skills on stages in Philly and beyond.

But the key to his burgeoning success might be rooted less in these celebrity examples than in the humbler words heard later in the album. On “Mom and Dad,” Tirfe interviews his parents, immigrants from the East African country of Eritrea, about the struggles they faced in their adopted home.

Indeed, 10,000 Hours marks Tirfe’s arrival, driven in no small part by his parents’ example. “Growing up as a first-generation American, a first-generation musician, and the firstborn in my family, Malcolm Gladwell’s [ideas] really spoke to me,” Tirfe explains, sitting in the music room at Overbrook High School, where he’d just finished teaching.

“My parents made the sacrifices that they did to make sure I am where I am today, and it was important to me to get that across. One of my first memories is my dad going back to school while my mom was working in parking lots at 30th Street Station and South Street. It wasn’t easy for them, and they instilled a lot of discipline and work ethic in me. Their example has been truly powerful and meaningful.”

1. 10,000 Hours (The Opener)
2. A Cry For Help
3. Trial
4. Incentive
5. NFF
6. Live Your Life And Take Control
7. Little Ghetto Boy
8. 10,000 Hours
9. Mom & Dad
10. The Believer
11. Chances
12. Second Nature
13. No Saving (Extended)
14. 10,000 Hours (The Closer)
15. No Saving (Radio Edit)

On an album where diverse influences endlessly converge, the new recording opens on the informative of 10,000 Hours (The Opener) and the serenely opulent A Cry For Help and they are followed by the forthright Trial (which features the impassioned rasp of beloved Eagles center Jason Kelce and his iconic victory speech following Super Bowl LII), the impassioned Incentive, the joyfully jaunty NFF, before we are then brought forth the free flowing musical majesties found within Live Your Life And Take Control and a soulful rendition of Donny Hathaway’s Little Ghetto Boy.

With the album taking a turn around the halfway point, evoking the Studio Wednesdays scene with the appearance of spoken word artist Chiara Chantelle, up next is the a rousing, near 12 minute take of the aforementioned titular 10,000 Hours and the low slung foot tapper Mom & Dad and they are in turn backed seamlessly by the flourishing The Believer, the humbling Chances, then comes the rhythmic Second Nature, the veritably stoic, yet elegantly-hued No Saving (Extended), the album rounding out on the .36 second drum lesson within 10,000 Hours (The Closer), closing on the beautifully crafted, R&B ambiance of No Saving (Radio Edit) (both versions featuring R&B singer-songwriter Mare).

The album’s core band features musicians whose paths Tirfe crossed on the local scene — pianist Luke Carlos O’Reilly, bassist Matthew Keppler and drummer Lionel Forrester Jr. — joined by guests met through his wide-ranging experiences, including trombonist Aaron Goode and keyboardists Dan Rouse and Kayla Childs. (In her neo-soul guise as Black Buttafly, Childs will open for Tirfe at the Bride).

Official Purchase Link

Title - Fellowship
Artist - David Gibson

As indicated by the title of his Imani Records leader debut, veteran trombonist David Gibson developed the repertoire on Fellowship while endeavoring “to create a sense of purpose” amidst the isolation of Covid-19.

Deeply admired by his peers for the high-level arranging skills that highlight his seven previous albums by two- and three-horn ensembles since 2002, three albums by Orrin Evans’s Captain Black Big Band, and his work as musical director for George Gee’s Swing Orchestra, Gibson’s debut quartet album places his considerable instrumental prowess front and center, as he navigates eight originals marked by his characteristic blend of complex harmonic structures and elemental melodies with a burnished, centered tone and a flow of fresh ideas.

Joining Gibson is the challenging, kinetic rhythm section he’s frequently performed with at Smalls and various other New York venues, comprising energetic rising star pianist Davis Whitfield and drum master Kush Abadey, both thirty-ish, and bassist Joseph Lepore

1. Disquietude (6:27)
2. Beyond Breath (7:25)
3. Meek’s Wrath (6:06)
4. Discursiveness (5:24)
5. Chief Distortion (5:24)
6. Persist (5:58)
7. Waiting for Patience (7:01)
8. Fellowship (5:44)

This delightfully stylistic new recording opens on the quietly rambunctious Disquietude and the fleetingly ornate, veritably glistening Beyond Breath and they are then followed by the smoothly lush grooves laid down within Meek’s Wrath, and then we get the upbeat and euphoric-tipping Discursiveness.

Up next is the fervently-sculpted Chief Distortion which is itself backed seamlessly by the luxurious Persist, the album rounding out on the emboldened Waiting for Patience, closing on the most languishing beauty found within the titular Fellowship.

David Gibson – trombone
Davis Whitfield – piano
Joseph Lepore – bass
Kush Abadey – drums

Official Purchase Link

Title - Sons
Artist - Phil Sargent

Guitarist and composer Phil Sargent is a name to be reckoned with in the Boston and New York music scenes. Described as a musician who is cognizant of the tradition but thinks outside of the box (All About Jazz) and who incorporates melodic hooks into the mix, where superior technique, cunning interactions, memorable song forms, and seething solo jaunts attain a near-flawless symmetrical presence (, Sargent has shared the stage with the likes of giants such as Dave Liebman, Jerry Bergonzi, and John Lockwood, to contemporary earthshakers such as Matt Wilson, Bob Moses, Phil Grenadier, and Yosuke Inoue, among others.

Now, over a decade since his previous release, Sargent once more takes the stage and studio as a bandleader with Sons, an album that stands both as a tribute to and reflection on fatherhood and how it has transformed him and his world.

His 2010 release (A New Day) has received critical acclaim. In addition to writing for his own group he composes and has released recordings with the genre bending groups Iskar and The Industrious Noise Trio and many others. Phil also performs nationally as a sideman in the Sonic Explorers, Bruno Raberg Nonet, Rick DiMuzio Quintet, Mehmet Ali Sanlikol Jazz Orchestra, Brooke Sofferman Perspective, John Funkhouser quartet, and a variety of other ensembles ranging from straight ahead jazz to the avante-garde.

With his brand new album Sons (out now via Higher Level Media), Sargent makes emotively tangible that which is held deeply at the center of the human experience: family. To grow and create, to provide and protect, to wrestle and raise up - all this is held testimonial within the vast textural landscapes and sweeping genre fluidity of Sons.

Sargent composes and plays not merely for himself and for his music, but because he has something worthwhile to say, and an audience worthwhile to say it to who inspired it all to begin with.

1. Skyline
2. Rest Area
3. Me Fa Me Re
4. Life
5. Be Careful Out There
6. Bivawack
7. Isolation
8. Sons
9. Breathe

This mighty fine, and expertly focused new recording opens on the driven Skyline and the melodiously free flowing Rest Area (feat. Greg Loughman & Mike Connors), and they are then followed by the Western-hued, yearning guitar-driven Me Fa Me Re and the beautifully cultivated hipsway found within Life (feat. Jerry Sabatini, Greg Loughman & Mike Connors).

Up next are the ambient melodies within Be Careful Out There (again featuring Loughman & Connors) and the plucky Bivawack, and they are in turn backed by the languishing Isolation (with Loughman & Connors), the album rounding out on the luxuriant Sons, closing on the captivating Breathe.

Phil Sargent - Sons [Official Music Video]

Title - Circular Motion
Artist - Francesco Crosara

For those not in the know, Francesco Crosara is an Italian jazz pianist and composer who has performed at select musical venues internationally.

Furthermore, over his illustrious career thus far, he has also performed with Lionel Hampton, Freddie Hubbard, Roy Hargrove, Richie Cole, Von Freeman, Lilian Terry, Bobby Shew, Ira Sullivan, Don Menza, John Heard, Gabe Baltazar, Bruce Forman, Barbara Morrison, Earl Palmer, and more.

With a style that can be termed as straight-ahead Jazz with Latin, Fusion, Classical and World music influences, and garnered from a lifetime of music creation, for his brand new album Circular Motion, Seattle-based Crosara has selected 10 of his compositions from the last 40 years with the idea of highlighting the nexus between early work; with its simplicity and youthful appeal, to later works where he expressed richer harmonic textures and possibilities.

Three different rhythm sections bring his music to life, each adding varied sonic textures and rhythmic vitality to the whole. Bassist Clipper Anderson and drummer Mark Ivester swing and float; the vibrant grooves of electric bassist Farko Dosumov and drummer D’Vonne Lewis lend a modern momentum; and the youthful eclecticism of bassist Osama Afifi and drummer Xavier Lecouturier adds yet another dimension.

1. Preludio Flamenco (6:01)
2. Longing (6:24)
3. Julia’s Tango (6:53)
4. Gymnopédie No.4 (8:07)
5. Circular Motion (6:32)
6. Kurama (9:48)
7. Passion (8:08)
8. Maktoub (7:48)
9. One Day Honey, One Day Onions (6:22)
10. Sarava (6:14)

This new recording opens on the organic fluidity of Preludio Flamenco and the upright bass-led, and aptly-titled Longing and then proceeds to bring us the heartwarming Julia’s Tango, the playfully sculpted Gymnopédie No.4, and then comes the sheer effervescent magnificence of the titular Circular Motion.

Up next is one of my own personal favorites, the sincere foot-tapper Kurama and the delightfully orchestrated, veritably summery Passion and they are in turn backed by the upbeat and joyous melodies of Maktoub, the album rounding out on the funky rhythms within One Day Honey, One Day Onions, closing on the flamboyant swirls and twirls of the beautiful Sarava.

Francesco Crosara - acoustic piano, synthesizer (3,9,10)
Clipper Anderson - acoustic bass (2,4,5,8)
Mark Ivester - drums (2,4,5,8)
Farko Dosumov - electric bass (1,3,7,9)
D’Vonne Lewis - drums (1,3,7,9)
Osama Afifi - electric bass (6,10)
Xavier Lecouturier - drums (6,10)

Official Purchase Link

Title - Life’s a Gig
Artist - Vanisha Gould & Chris McCarthy

For those not in the know, and with themes are romance and heartbreak that course through covers and original pieces alike, Vanisha Gould & Chris McCarthy have just released their brand new duo album, Life’s a Gig.

The duo, who have been playing together some seven years or so now and thus have a mighty strong rapport with one another at their live shows, are now allowing that musical bond to seep through into this new album (out now).

“’Life’s a gig, it don’t pay much but it costs a lot,’” Vanisha reveals. “I said that at a party one evening, whispered it imitating Miles Davis. We all laughed. Truth is, life has offered me a lot. All I’ve ever wanted was to sing this beautiful music and make a living from it. I never thought I would also find family. Community. This album is meant to represent exactly that. Just family coming together singing tunes we’ve sung countless times before.”

1. Cool
2. Aisha
3. What A Little Moonlight Can Do
4. Fall In Love With Me In Fall
5. No Moon At All
6. Jolene
7. Monk’s Dream
8. No More
9. Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

With a sweetly-sculpted vein of old-fashioned jazz music from the 40’s and 50’s, this delightfully-hued new recording opens on the playful Cool and the luxuriant Aisha and then brings us the impassioned What A Little Moonlight Can Do and the veritably glistening Fall In Love With Me In Fall.

On an album where the singer is lovingly influenced by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, among others, up next that is dutifully brought to the fore on the heartfelt No Moon At All which is itself backed seamlessly by a quite stunning reworking of Dolly Parton’s Jolene, a perky Monk’s Dream, the album rounding out on the lavish No More, closing on the rhythmically jaunty Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.

“I feel truly blessed to know Chris McCarthy (piano) and Kayla Williams (Viola - Jolene & Fall in Love With Me in Fall),” Vanisha continues. “They both carry this music with such integrity and ease. I want to flower my family with love. Arleen Simmons Gould and Hollis Gould are directly responsible for the voice that you hear on this album. Without their support and unending love, well, this gig called “life” would be undesirable, and without swing.”

“My brother, Victor Gould, also my favorite musician and composer, handed me my first Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong album- the rest is history. He is not just my confidant, but he paved the path for me, as well. From middle school in Simi Valley, California to the New York Jazz scene, his extraordinary expertise and reputation has inspired me. Life’s a Gig. A pretty damn good gig.”

Vanisha Gould & Chris McCarthy - Aisha (Official Music Video)

Vanisha Gould @ Instagram

Chris McCarthy @ Instagram

Title - Falling Feels Like Flying
Artist - John Korbel

Having already established himself with a wealth of riveting releases these last few years, emerging artist John Korbel returns once again to deliver his brand new single New York All To Ourselves.

Lifted from his newly released studio album Falling Feels Like Flying, which is available to purchase now, the first single New York All To Ourselves makes for a wonderfully smooth and alluring listen.

The album also features keyboardist Mark Falchock, who is also the producer, Steve Luciano on guitar, Ezra Henry on drums, Marco Bojorquez on bass, saxophonist Alain Bradette, trombonist Derrick Harris, trumpeter and saxophonist Sam Zambito, and Chris West on woodwinds; with background vocals provided by both Carmen Harrell and Sam Reckart.

Honing more of that jazz-inspired aesthetic he is known for, there is now doubt this new one will sweep you off your feet and leave you feeling renewed throughout!

1. Wheels Up
2. Lizard Of Oz
3. New York All To Ourselves
4. The One Without Wings
5. Take A Ride With The Top Down
6. Sing
7. Natural Selection
8. Sweet Burning
9. Falling Feels Like Flying
10. Wheels Up (Extended Version)

On an album that contains a variety of tones, including some rather playful and energetic ebbs and flows, the new recording opens on the sweepingly decadent rhythms within Wheels Up and the more strident Lizard Of Oz and they are followed by the luxuriant New York All To Ourselves, the veritably shimmering The One Without Wings, and then we get the gently foot-tapper Take A Ride With The Top Down.

The old soul that lovingly drives the current music scene, Korbel continues onward with the frenetically-charged melodies within Sing and the laid low swing of Natural Selection and they are in turn backed by the aptly-named Sweet Burning, the album rounding out on the triumphant vibe of Falling Feels Like Flying, closing on an extended version of Wheels Up.

John Korbel - Falling Feels Like Flying (Official Music Video)

Title - Cohesion
Artist - David Larsen

For those unaware, David Larsen’s new recording Cohesion is due out March 1st, 2023.

David is the director of instrumental studies at Spokane Falls Community College. He holds a PhD from Washington State University and degrees from Pacific University, University of Oregon, and Western Oregon University.

David has been a presenter/performer for the Jazz Education Network, North American Saxophone Alliance, and several other conferences and festivals.

David has also performed with a variety of artists including Ken Peplowski, Francisco Torres, Dave Glenn, Ron Vincent, Bill Mays, Dean Johnson, and the internationally acclaimed jazz vocalist, Halie Loren.

David is an active composer. His published works cover a wide variety of styles and genres. His compositions have won numerous awards including JW Peppers Editor’s Choice for 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. His music has been performed and recorded by a wide variety of groups around the U.S. and abroad.

His compositions and arrangements have been played by Washington State University, University of Oregon, and others around the country.

1. Cohesion (4:50)
2. Down To It (4:36)
3. Movement (7:41)
4. Wishing Well (5:15)
5. Fedchock (5:18)
6. Working Things Out (6:15)
7. Mount Fuji (4:45)
8. El Duelo (6:24)

This delightfully ambient new recording opens on the radiant rhythms that bring the titular Cohesion together and the upbeat Down To It and they are then followed by the low slung swing of Movement and the playfully perky Wishing Well.

Up next is the triumphantly-charged Fedchock and is itself backed by the luxuriantly-hued Working Things Out, the album rounding out on the soaringly upbeat melodies within Mount Fuji, closing on the jaunty strength of sculpted magnificence within the spirited El Duelo.

“The idea for Cohesion came when I met these players while they were on tour in the Northwest”, Larsen reveals. “I really loved the sound they were getting and their group dynamic. After talking for a bit, I decided to bring them out as the guests for the SFCC Jazz Workshop. While they were out, we played some gigs and went into the studio to record this album. I wanted to capture some of the great vibes of this group with my new compositions. These styles were a bit foreign to me, but I love a challenge, so I leapt in with both feet.”

Official Purchase Release

David Larsen @ Facebook

Title - The Door is Open: The Music of Gregg Hill
Artist - Randy Napoleon

Guitarist Randy Napoleon soars on this new collection of tunes by the prolific jazz composer Gregg Hill. The core of his ongoing band intact, their freedom to expand boundaries, surprise, or just lock into an unassailable swing is readily available to enjoy.

In 2014, after more than a decade in New York City, and traveling the world with Freddie Cole, Michael Buble and others, he found himself in the middle of the thriving jazz center that Lansing, Michigan had become since bassist Rodney Whitaker’s arrival almost 25 years ago.

Along with his bandmates, pianist Rick Roe, Whitaker, and drummer Quincy Davis, composer Gregg Hill has added an energized compositional voice to the scene, enticing Napoleon, Whitaker, Michael Dease, and others into inspired collaborations.The Door Is Open: The Music of Gregg Hill, Napoleon is free to stretch, bend and expand on Hill’s central themes, and the musical rapport he shares with visiting NY vocalist Aubrey Johnson over his last two albums.

1. The Lost Tune
2. The Door is Open
3. Escape to Cat Island
4. Motel Blues
5. Spa-Teneity
6. April Song
7. The Last Pop Tune
8. Skyline
9. Triple Play

On an album chock full of artistic expression, the new recording opens on the deeply connective The Lost Tune and the warmly embracing, yet vibrantly-hued titular The Door is Open and the we get the broadly emotive Escape to Cat Island, the contextual Motel Blues and the swinging, meter-changing found within Spa-Teneity.

Along next on this album that showcases a most perfect balance between swing and soul, is the lushly harmonic and deliciously melodic April Song which is in turn followed by the musical maturity of his own personal growth within music shown within the heartbeat of The Last Pop Tune and the cleanly-sculptured, and one of my own personal favorite Skyline, the album closing on the original styling found adorning Triple Play.

Other Musicians: Aubrey Johnson (vocals), Rick Roe (piano), Quincy Davis (drums), Rodney Whitaker (bass), Luca Lafave (bass on tracks 1, 4, 5, 7), Anthony Stanco (trumpet), Walter Blanding (saxophone), and Andrew Kim (trombone).

Randy Napoleon - The Door is Open (Official Music Video)

Title - The Ways In
Artist - James Zollar

The New York City jazz world is an ecosystem involving musicians, venues, programs, enthusiasts, and much more. There are multiple “ways in” to this scene, but for a jazz artist new to the city, it is very intimidating.

Nevertheless, there are many available paths, and sometimes all that an aspiring musician needs is a “wayfinder”. Over the past few decades, James Zollar has been a wayfinder to many jazz artists looking to break into the New York City scene.

When I meet jazz artists in New York City, and let them know I am James’ older brother, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard them share glowing stories about James’ generous efforts to help them find their way into the New York City jazz ecosystem.

Just mention his name in any of the jazz circles around New York, and you will likely hear stories that speak to his giving soul and strong musicianship.

With the encouragement of his family, especially his beautiful wife, Nabuko Kiryu (an accomplished jazz singer, composer and arranger in her own right), who is also featured on this recording, James has stepped out front on this project titled, “The Ways In” (out now via Docmo Music).

1. The Fruit - Dedicated to Barry Harris
2. Peace / Blue Silver - Dedicated to Al Zollar
3. Reflectory
4. The Single Pedal of A Rose - Dedicated to Queen Elizabeth Ⅱ
5. Jim Jim
6. Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me - Dedicated to Cootie Williams
7. Swing Spring
8. Pat - Dedicated to Pat Zollar
9. Down Town Up
10. Checkered Hat
11. Epilogue Dedicated to Mercer Ellington

This magnificent sculptor of sounds opens his new recording with the upbeat and melodious The Fruit and the more forthrightly delivered Peace / Blue Silver and then follows them up with the veritably cinematic stance within Reflectory, and then we get the lush Ellington cut The Single Petal Of The Rose in its orchestral form (lovingly dedicated to Queen Elizabeth ), and the playfully perky Jim Jim.

On an album where the music emanates an intellectual and poetic approach throughout, next up is the impassioned Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me and then comes the percussion-bedded Swing Spring and they are in turn backed seamlessly by the luxuriant Pat (itself dedicated to his wife Pat Zollar), the generously vibrant Down Town Up, the album rounding out on the opulent Checkered Hat, closing on the beautiful Epilogue.

James Zollar - Down Town Up (Official Music Video)

Official Purchase Link

Title - Keep Swingin’ - The Music of Charlie Banacos
Artist - Garry Dial & Rich DeRosa

For those unaware, Garry Dial & Rich DeRosa offer a heartfelt tribute to the late Jazz genius Charlie Banacos with their new album and book Keep Swingin’, out January 19th, 2024 (via Outside in Music).

That’s right, the vibrantly-hued Keep Swingin’, a collaborative new project spearheaded by renowned pianist Garry Dial and stalwart arranger-drummer Rich DeRosa, is a tribute to the great jazz educator Charlie Banacos, whose pedagogy has influenced legions of jazz musicians over the past 50 years.

Keep Swingin’ will be released as a 10-track collection of Banacos’ music, reimagined and re-arranged by Dial and DeRosa. It is performed by some of Banacos’ most accomplished devotees,and friends including Mike Stern, Jeff Berlin, Jerry Bergonzi, Wayne Krantz, and many more.

Complimenting the album is a stunning 100-page book of Charlie’s students’ personal anecdotes, photographs, artistic renderings, and more. The book features corresponding QR codes per tune, per chapter.

It’s no understatement to call Charlie Banacos a Jedi Master of jazz. He was a pianist, composer, author, and educator — but he was far more than the sum of those parts.

1. Keep Swingin’ (feat. Garry Dial, Terell Stafford and Dick Oatts)
2. Great Awakening (feat. Wayne Krantz and Joe Hubbard)
3. The Bat Cave (feat. Gerard D’Angelo, Garry Dial, Gary Smulyan and John Riley)
4. Pine Needles (feat. Mike Stern and Garry Dial)
5. Mummy’s Curse (feat. Jerry Bergonzi)
6. Bernie Burnola (feat. Helio Alves, Anne Drummond, Paulo Levi, Mauricio Zottarelli)
7. A-440 (feat. Jeff Berlin)
8. Nero (feat. Garry Dial and Jay Anderson)
9. Pluto Language (feat. Dick Oatts, Victor Provost, Anne Drummond, Mauricio Zottarelli)
10. Pelaghia (feat. Margaret and Barbara Banacos)

This excitingly sculpted new recording opens on both alto saxophonist Dick Oatts and trumpeter Terell Stafford coming to the fore on the lushly grooved, titular Keep Swingin’ and then comes the combo of electric bassist Joe Hubbard and electric guitarist Wayne Krantz on the infectious Great Awakening, and they are followed by the The Bat Cave (featuring soloists in pianists Gerard D’Angelo, Garry Dial, baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan, and drummer John Riley), the warm embrace that guitarist Mike Stern brings to Pine Needles, and then we get brought forth the talents of tenor saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi and his quintet on the deliciously rhythmic The Mummy’s Curse.

Along next is the soulful blues found within Bernie Burnola, and which features Helio Alves, Anne Drummond, Paulo Levi, and Mauricio Zottarelli) and that is backed by my own personal favorite, the dutifully hued A-440, which itself has on board bass great Jeff Berlin, and they are in turn backed by the engaging Nero (featuring Garry Dial and Jay Anderson), the album rounding out on the uniquely-grooved Pluto Language (which utilizes a 3/4 rhythm called Mazouka (or Mazouk), a creolized version of the European Mazurka, adapted by enslaved Africans on the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique), closing on the two-piano classical piece Pelaghia (featuring Margaret and Barbara Banacos).

Garry Dial curated Keep Swingin’ along with arranger Rich DeRosa — and it turned out to be a lavish, multimedia tribute to this unquestionable titan. Both in print and on record, Keep Swingin’ features a handpicked selection of 10 Banacos tunes, from “Great Awakening” to “Bernie Burnola” to “Pluto Language.”

The album features a horn section consisting of trumpeter and flugelhornist Nick Marchione, alto saxophonist and flutist Andrew Gould, tenor saxophonist and flutist Chris Oatts, trombonist Ryan Keberle, and baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan.

“There are nine different keyboardists, five bassists, five drummers, three guitarists, six saxophonists, three trumpeters, and three flute players,” Dial explains in the book. “Please keep in mind that each track is quite different because each artist is unique.” With that, he encourages the listener to soak in the program, where you hear “all these great jazz musicians being themselves.”

Garry Dial @ Facebook

Title - Finesse
Artist - Jim Rotondi

For those unaware, veteran trumpeter and pedagogue Jim Rotondi has just released his new album Finesse, an intricately interwoven masterpiece for big band and orchestra arranged and conducted by Vienna’s Jakob Helling, featuring Steve Davis, Dick Oatts and Danny Grisset (via Cellar Music Group).

Simply put, Finesse is a new masterwork for big band and orchestra by great trumpeter, composer and educator Jim Rotondi. Known for his longstanding and star-studded career extensively throughout New York and wider Europe for over 30 years, Rotondi has been a steady member of the ensembles of everyone from Toshiko Akiyoshi and Bob Mintzer to the small groups of Lou Donaldson, Curtis Fuller, and Joe Chambers.

Now, after having already made his mark on the landscape of jazz with eight albums as a bandleader, Rotondi steps forward to bring about a longstanding dream and the fulfillment of one of the great legacies of jazz history: a large ensemble album featuring both big band and orchestra.

Aptly entitled Finesse, Rotondi’s ninth album comprises an orchestra of virtuosi conducted and arranged by Jakob Helling, all of whom are steeped in the historically and musically rich tradition of Austria, where Rotondi currently resides and teaches.

The manifold brilliance of this cast does not stop there, however, as Rotondi also called on his peers, the legendary trombonist Steve Davis, saxophonist Dick Oatts and pianist Danny Grisset from his prolific decades in New York.

With robust arrangements, luscious orchestrations, and tantalizingly crafted solos, Finesse is poised to be Rotondi’s most profound and indelible mark on the world of jazz and creative music to-date.

1. Ruth (7:30)
2. Dark Blue (6:47)
3. Ladybug (8:04) (Danny Grissett, piano)
4. Designated Hitter (4:22) (Mario Gonzi, drums)
5. Falset (7:41) (Dick Oatts, soprano saxophone)
6. Before Curtis (0:40) (Clemens Hofer, Mario Vavti, Johannes Herrlich, and Christina Lachberger, trombones)
7. For Curtis (7:11) (Danny Grissett, piano)
8. Going to the Sun (6:28)
9. Prelude for 14 Strings and Flute (1:11) (Herwig Gradischnig, baritone saxophone)
10. Interlude (5:02) (Danny Grissett, piano)
11. In Graz (7:35) (Martin Fuss, alto saxophone)
12. Happy Feet (6:06) (Daniel Nösig, trumpet)
13. Miller time (8:22) (Steve Davis, trombone)

This brilliantly-hued new recording opens on the luxuriant sculpted Ruth and the veritably cinematic Dark Blue and they are followed by the flamboyant Ladybug, the charged Designated Hitter, and then come the soothingly rhythmic Falset and the short, but sweet languishing Before Curtis.

Along next is the short, but sweet, perky and playful Before Curtis and the melodic Going to the Sun and they are in turn backed seamlessly by the low slung short Prelude for 14 Strings and Flute, the ornate beauty found within Interlude, the fervent In Graz, the album rounding out on the all-embracing Happy Feet, coming to a close on the richly decadent ebb and flow that propels Miller time.

In conclusion, the album marks an acknowledgement of the highest, most celebrated points of the jazz tradition and history and uses this jubilant vehicle of combined orchestra and big band to raise the bar and set the stage for the familiar to be utilized in new, endlessly inventive ways.

With Finesse, Rotondi showcases the sheer creative force that comes with clear vision and a decisive ability to collaborate with a strong shared goal. Indeed, as the title clearly states, Finesse is a work of adroit aptitude and endlessly subtle brilliance that could only be pulled off by one who possesses the album’s namesake quality in such potency as Rotondi.

Official Purchase Link

Title - LifeSongs
Artist - Marshall Gilkes & WDR Big Band

For those unaware, Alternate Side Records recently released LifeSongs, the latest album by renowned trombonist Marshall Gilkes and the heralded WDR Big Band.

A rich musical journey inspired by life itself, LifeSongs is a crowning achievement for the twice-GRAMMY nominated artist, who is known internationally for his virtuosic command of the trombone, and widely recognized as one of the great big band composers of our era.

Furthermore, LifeSongs represents something of a musical homecoming for Marshall Gilkes. The lauded trombonist spent four memorable years in Cologne, making his mark within the ranks of the WDR Big Band’s brass section until his departure in late 2013.

Just a month after his tenure ended, Gilkes and the WDR Big Band reunited for what would become the smashing, 2x GRAMMY nominated album Köln. His first large ensemble project as a leader, Köln formally introduced Gilkes as a multifaceted composer-arranger-conductor-soloist force to be reckoned with.

In 2018, the two teamed up again for the critically acclaimed Always Forward, of which All About Jazz praised as “succeed[ing] on every level.” Now, the two entities come together once again for a third go with LifeSongs.

Indeed, when composing the music that would make up his eighth album as a bandleader, Gilkes noticed a commonality across his compositions. “I realized that a lot of the themes for these pieces relate directly to life and what’s going on in the world these days,” Gilkes explains. Channeling these moments, both in his personal sphere and the greater whole, he crafted a breathtaking collection of material tied directly to these times.

1) Fresh Start
2) Back in the Groove
3) Cora’s Tune
4) My Unanswered Prayer
5) All the Pretty Horses
6) Middle Ground
7) Sin Filtro
8) This Nearly Was Mine
9) Sugar Rush
10) Longing for Home
11) Taconic Turns

This magnificently rhythmic new recording opens on the empowered Fresh Start and the smoothly sculpted Back in the Groove and the brings forth the all-embracing melodies within the delightful, and near ten minute Cora’s Tune, before we are graced with the more regimented My Unanswered Prayer and the soulfully-hued All the Pretty Horses.

Up next is the luxuriantly-channeled, yet stridently pointed, ten minute Middle Ground and another regimented heartbeat is then found formulated within Sin Filtro, and they are in turn backed by a veritably cultured ambiance found within the core of This Nearly Was Mine, the album rounding out on the aptly-titled Sugar Rush and the sweetly-enhanced beauty of Longing for Home, closing on the fervently-charged Taconic Turns.

Official Purchase Link

Title - Standards
Artist - Yotam Silberstein

In the liner notes to his brand new album Standards, the astonishing jazz guitarist Yotam Silberstein expresses a wish to “bear witness to the better angels of human endeavor” via music. And these six selections — associated with heavyweights from Miles Davis to Rodger and Hammerstein, Victor Young, and many more — might just prove their existence.

On Standards, which releases on February 23rd, 2024 via Jojo Records, Silberstein is joined by a straight-ahead legend in tenor saxophonist George Coleman, bassist’s bassist John Patitucci, and Billy Hart, a living legend of the jazz drumming lineage. Throughout, the guitarist channels the bebop and blues that forged him, into some of the most treasured songs in the Western musical canon.

As Silberstein explains, most of his albums — like 2019’s Future Memories, 2016’s The Village, and 2009’s Next Page — have consisted of original music. However, those steeped in his craft know of his tremendous respect for the tradition of Black American music. Which extends to his collegial relationship with the true heavies on the scene.

“A lot of my work here in New York in the last 20 years has been with some of the jazz masters,” Silberstein explains. “So, I wanted to, first of all, play standards because I had never had a chance to record an album of standards. And also, to do it with the real guys, you know? The heroes.”

1. Serenata
2. Beija Flor
3. Lo-Joe (ft. George Coleman)
4. If I Loved You
5. Eclypso
6. Never Let Me Go (ft. George Coleman)
7. Little Willie Leaps
8. Stella By Starlight

This most wondrous new recording opens on the lavishly opulent Serenata, which was itself composed in 1947 by Leroy Anderson, with its most famous rendition still being the one put to lyrics by Mitchell Parish and sung by Nat King Cole) and then we get the Brazilian-hued Beija Flor (composed by Nelson Cavaquinho), the beautiful Lo-Joe and the simply divine If I Loved You; which obviously hails from the songbook of Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rogers, and was created for the Broadway musical Carousel.

Along next is the magnificently tonal, swinging calypso found within the driving heartbeat of Eclypso and that is in turn backed by the elegantly luxurious Never Let Me Go, the album rounding out on the succulently moody ebb and flow of Little Willie Leaps (itself a contrafact of “All God’s Chillun Got Rhythm,” that Miles Davis once recorded with Charlie Parker), closing on the decadent bebop of Stella by Starlight.

Yotam Silberstein @ Facebook

Title - Live in Chicago [2CD]
Artist - Gustavo Cortiñas

The new album entitled Live in Chicago, is the fiery release from celebrated jazz drummer, composer, and educator Gustavo Cortiñas. This live recording captures the essence of Cortiñas’ musical journey, offering a glimpse into the transformative experiences that have shaped his unique sound.

Cortiñas is joined on this outing by his long-time sextet – a litany of Chicago-based jazz greats including trumpeter Drew Hansen, renowned saxophonist, clarinetist, composer, and educator Artie Black, trombonist Matthew Davis, bassist and composer Kitt Lyles, and pianist Joaquin Garcia.

“I believe that it is a rite of passage for any jazz artist to put out a live record”, remarks Cortiñas. Over the history of the artform, live jazz albums have acted as the vehicle to capture some of the rawest, truest and most organically beautiful moments in music.

The mark of a truly great live release is that it moves past its initial intention as a mere document of a performance, and captures a musical moment that transcends time. Such is the case with Cortiñas’ Live in Chicago.

Disc 1:
1. Overture
2. Hanaki
3. Wish I Could Be There Now
4. La Balada Del León
5. Arete

This beautifully adventurous new recording opens on the glorious Overture and then we get the sublime medium tempo blues cut (from Snapshot) Hanaki, which is followed by the beautifully sculpted Wish I Could Be There Now (which is a 7/4 composition dedicated to a friend affected by violence in Mexico), the stunningly effective ballad La Balada Del León (a touching ballad dedicated to Cortiñas’ father), the first disc rounding out on a mesmerizing trumpet intro by Drew Hansen for a cut from the second album, the dutiful Arete.

Disc 2:
1. Dialectics of Freedom
2. Timing Is Everything
3. The Man of Flesh and Bone
4. La Ruta de Regreso a Guinea está en la Arcoiris
5. Pax Britannica

Along next on the second disc are the technical prowess and mastery of textures found within the heartbeat of Dialectics of Freedom and the deeply expressive Timing Is Everything, which are in turn backed by the veritably transformative The Man of Flesh and Bone, the album coming to a close on the rhythmic magnificence of an African-inspired piece in 12/8 La Ruta de Regreso a Guinea está en la Arcoiris and then the supportive ensemble piece Pax Britannica.

The concept of the album stems from Cortiñas’ desire to explore the magic of live performances and treat his original compositions as living standards. The live recordings were captured at Constellation in Chicago, IL, on the night of December 15th, 2022. They are raw and unedited, attempting to capture the spirit of the moment; a Snapshot, of a moment in time.

Gustavo Cortiñas @ Instagram

Title - A New Beat
Artist - Ulysses Owens JR. and Generation Y

For those unaware, the brand new album A New Beat, by internationally lauded drummer and bandleader Ulysses Owens Jr. and his exciting outfit of promising rising talent, Generation Y, is now out and ready for consumption!

Praised by The New York Times, Rolling Stone, DownBeat and more for his impactful work as a bandleader and recognized as a vital force with legends such as Kurt Elling, Wynton Marsalis and Christian McBride, GRAMMY-Award winning Owens Jr.’s rise from “young lion” to seasoned mentor has been undeniably swift.

As his career as a world-class musician has blossomed mightily, so has his impact in music education, marked by a professorship at The Juilliard School, now in its seventh year. Informed by his experience as an educator, and by the profound legacy of mentorship enacted by great bandleaders Art Blakey and Betty Carter, Owens Jr. scouts the next generation of jazz movers and shakers in an ensemble he calls Generation Y.

Four years after its formation, Owens Jr. took the group – in its multiple iterations – into the studio. The end result is A New Beat – a unique musical juxtaposition that stands both as a tribute to the legacies and traditions of his mentors, and an homage to the unbridled potential of the future.

1. Sticks (7:36)
2. Better Days (7:15)
3. London Towne (7:06)
4. Until I See You Again
5. Soulful (8:13)
6. Heart Full of Rhythm (5:19)
7. Bird Lives (live) (8:32)
8. Helen’s Song (5:11)

This expertly manicured new recording opens on the powerfully self-aware beauty Sticks (a Cannonball Adderley/Nat Adderley track) and the stridently-hued Better Days (a composition by Generation Y band member and trumpeter Anthony Hervey) and then we get the rhythmically-emotive London Towne (an original composition by Benny Benack III) and the luxuriant, ornately sculpted, pianist Luther Allison cut Until I See You Again.

Along next is the rather aptly-named, and delightfully grooved also Soulful (itself a tribute to Roy Hargrove) and that is in turn backed by the Gospel-imbibed Heart Full of Rhythm (co-written by Horace Gerlach and Louis Armstrong), the album rounding out on the energetically fervent the Jackie McLean composition Bird Lives (live), closing on the sheer dulcet beauty found within the simply glorious Helen’s Song (George Cables).

Official Purchase Link

Title - Being Guided by the Light
Artist - Mamiko Watanabe

For those unaware, Jojo Records have just released the stunning new album Being Guided By The Light, the fifth album by pianist Mamiko Watanabe, and which is also his Jojo Records debut.

The representation of a musician in full flower, Watanabe plays the piano with grace and intensity, revealing her endless state of exploration. This trio date features Watanabe alongside heralded bassist Santi Debriano and legendary drummer Billy Hart.

Mamiko is joined by two revered masters of jazz with Billy Hart on drums and Santi Debriano on bass and is filled with praise for this collaboration “I was so grateful for this recording opportunity with Billy. His sound touched my soul. The way Santi Debriano makes the groove on my compositions are always exactly the way I want. I’ve been learning from Santi the limitless creativity through rhythm, phrasing and communicating as a group.”

NEA Jazz Master Hart, who has played alongside virtually every jazz great including Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Pharoah Sanders and more over his seven-decade career, says of Mamiko: “She is one of the very best I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing with.”

1. Being Guided by the Light (6:28)
2. Pas De Trois (6:27)
3. The Peacocks (7:17)
4. The Scene is Clean (4:39)
5. Atomic Space (8:14)
6. Nigeria (7:11)
7. My Grandfather’s Clock (5:30)
8. Island Birdie (4:45)

This empirically cultured new recording opens on the luxuriant, titular Being Guided by the Light and the sterner, more precise fare of Pas De Trois and they are then followed by the baroque gossamer of The Peacocks and a divinely dazzling The Scene is Clean.

Along next is the simply mesmerizing Atomic Space which is in turn backed by the propulsive Nigeria, the album rounding out on the exuberantly-sculpted My Grandfather’s Clock, closing on the spirited Island Birdie.

Being Guided By The Light is the latest release from Jojo Records, which was established in 2021. Created by jazz musician Simon Belelty, Jojo strives to provide listeners with a dazzling and almost mystical experience. With an emphasis on high quality audio and vinyl, the catalog is carefully curated by the most skilled technicians and producers, and leavened with passion.

Mamiko Watanabe @ Instagram

Title - The Longest Story Ever Told
Artist - The Kings

For those unaware, The Kings, originally formed in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Oakville, Ontario, are a Canadian rock band. The original lineup was David Diamond (lead vocals, bass, songwriter), Sonny Keyes (vocals, keyboards, songwriter), Max Styles (currently Todd Reynolds) (drums), and Mister Zero (guitar, songwriter).

Before their breakthrough, they spent over three years as WhistleKing, refining their skills through rehearsals, club gigs, and songwriting, always with recording as the goal. Their journey led them to Nimbus 9 Studio in Toronto, where renowned producer Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, KISS) joined the story.

Ezrin’s involvement led to a worldwide major label deal with Elektra Records in Los Angeles. Their debut project, “The Kings Are Here,” featured the smash hit ‘This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ To Glide,’ which received extensive major market airplay all over the USA and Canada, spending 23 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100, earning them a Canadian Juno Award nomination, Platinum album and Gold single status and induction into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The Kings continued their musical journey with the albums “Amazon Beach,” “RSVP,” “Unstoppable,” “Party Live in ’85”, “The Lost Tapes of a Seventies Bar Band” and “Because of You,” all of which showcase their energy and songwriting prowess. They also released a captivating documentary titled “Anatomy of a One-Hit Wonder”, as well as the incredible concert film “Live at Heatwave”.

Now, in 2024, The Kings have released the full length album The Longest Story Ever Told (out now via Dizzy Records/Curve & Warner Music), reaffirming their status as a rock band with songwriting depth. With a history of hits, over 2000 North American shows and a devoted fan base, The Kings remain a hungry band with something to prove.

1. Always Off The Deep End
2. Nowhere To Go But Gone
3. The Longest Story Ever Told
4. When Dreams Come True
5. I Know So
6. Circle of Friends / Man That I Am
7. A Rose For Your Stone
8. Clean Shot
9. She Don’t Fool Around
10. Triangle Blues

On an album where the bands enthusiasm and musical stamina is effortlessly weaved throughout each song, the new recording opens on the melodically stanced, synth rocker Always Off The Deep End and the forthright Nowhere To Go But Gone and they are followed by the pulsating, guitar/piano rocker, titular The Longest Story Ever Told, the low key, acoustic-imbibed, lennonesque-hued (at first) When Dreams Come True and then comes the driving, drum-led rock of I Know So.

With three of the original members are back together for this album - Dave Diamond (vocals, bass), Mister Zero (guitar), and Sonny Keyes (keyboards) - along next is the brilliant medley of Circle of Friends / Man That I Am and the Spanish-imbibed A Rose For Your Stone, and they are seamlessly backed by the veritably ’60s hard rock sound of Clean Shot and the propulsive She Don’t Fool Around, closing on the throaty rocker Triangle Blues.

The Kings - I Know So [Official Music Video]

The Kings @ Facebook

Title - Leave the Gate Open
Artist - Luke Carlos O’Reilly

For those unaware, Luke Carlos O’Reilly is an award winning pianist and organist whose musical style is heavily influenced by Jazz, Soul, R&B, Gospel, Latin Jazz and Classical.

After a Boston upbringing, O’Reilly moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to attend Esther Boyer School of Music at Temple University on an academic and music scholarship.

It was in Philadelphia where he had the opportunity to tour and record with artists such as Seal, Roy Ayers, Curtis Fuller, Nicholas Payton, Dave Valentin, Billy Paul, Bobby Watson, Slide Hampton, Fred Wesley, Macy Gray, Steve Turre, Musiq Soulchild, Bilal, Carol Riddick, K’naan, Wiz Khalifa and many others.

To date, O’Reilly has released four (4) solo albums; Living In The Now (Prospect Hill Records 2011), 3 Suites (Prospect Hill Records 2013), I Too, Sing America: A Black Man’s Diary (Imani Records 2021), and now his brand new release, Leave the Gate Open (2024).

In addition to his continued touring of his own projects, O’Reilly works often as a sideman as well. He is currently teaching at The Kimmel Center of Philadelphia and The University of The Arts.

1. Soul Dancing (04:28)
2. Keep On Keeping On (4:29)
3. Only Option (5:09)
4. When Darkness Takes Our Light (2:32)
5. Little Man (5:24)
6. Deshazor (4:43)
7. Mini Mama (5:47)
8. City Called Heaven (6:53)

This thoroughly impassioned, heartfelt and wholly all-embracing new recording opens on the low slung finger-snapper Soul Dancing and the joyful R&B soul found within Keep On Keeping On and then we get the drum-led grooved jazz of Only Option, and the comes my own personal favorite, the late night, skin-stroked shuffle of When Darkness Takes Our Light.

Along next is the gently frenetic Little Man and the veritably shimmering Deshazor and they are in turn backed by the rapturous Mini Mama, closing on the luxuriant City Called Heaven.

Purchase Link

Luke Carlos O’Reilly @ Facebook

Title - All For You: The Virgin Years [1986-1992] (3CD)
Artist - Cutting Crew

It’s been Cutting Crew’s fate to be primarily remembered for their enormous, multi- million selling international hit, ‘(I Just) Died In Your Arms’, and that’s here in two versions, but this box set shows that there’s much more to the band, whose driving pop- rock is defined by strong song writing, Nick Van Eede’s soulful vocals and Kevin MacMichael’s lead guitar.

The USA took Cutting Crew to their hearts and ‘(I Just) Died In Your Arms’ topped the Billboard chart, ‘I’ve Been In Love Before’ reached #9 and the album ‘Broadcast’ peaked at #16, going gold. In the UK ‘(I Just) Died In Your Arms’ was a #4 smash hit.

All four singles from ‘Broadcast’ are also presented as extended remixes originally issued on 12” singles including the much loved 12” mix of ‘(I Just) Died In Your Arms’ and Arthur Baker’s remix and dub of ‘Any Colour’.

Cutting Crew frontman Nick Van Eede has opened his archives to contribute five demos to the set, including two previously unreleased – ‘Open Up Your Window’ and a cover of Simon Dupree And The Big Sound’s ‘Kites’.

Van Eede, who still leads Cutting Crew today, has been newly interviewed for the box set booklet.

Featuring 52 tracks over 3CDs, this box set contains the three studio albums Cutting Crew recorded between 1986 and 1992, the Grammy nominated debut, ‘Broadcast’ (1986), acclaimed follow up, ‘The Scattering’ (1989), and the ripe for rediscovery, ‘Compus Mentus’ (1992), plus B sides, remixes and demos.

CD 1: Broadcast (1986)
1. Any Colour
2. One For The Mockingbird
3. I’ve Been In Love Before
4. Life In A Dangerous Time
5. Fear Of Falling
6. (I Just) Died In Your Arms
7. Don’t Look Back
8. Sahara
9. It Shouldn’t Take Too Long
10. The Broadcast

B-Sides & Remixes
11. For The Longest Time
12. I Just Died In Your Arms (12” Remix)
13. I’ve Been In Love Before (Extended)
14. One For The Mockingbird (Extended Remix)
15. Any Colour (Arthur Baker Remix)

The irony of Broadcast is that, for my money, the three hit singles weren’t even the best songs on it. The title track, Any Colour, It Shouldn’t Take Too Long, Sahara and Life In A Dangerous Time all gave evidence of a band far more thoughtful and creative than the MTV videos and the fairly naff cliches of I’ve Been In Love Before ever came close to suggesting.

Though (I Just) Died In Your Arms is obviously entirely worthy of its ’80s mainstream rock classic status, if any of those five previously mentioned songs had followed it as singles, Cutting Crew would have been a mega attraction for the rest of the decade (in my humble opinion).

The slick guitar rock on Broadcast may not have wowed the rock & roll intelligentsia, but it’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser, an underrated collection of simple, heartfelt love songs and up-tempo pop that reside between the stylistic boundaries of new wave and mainstream rock.

(I Just) Died In Your Arms and I’ve Been In Love Before immediately thrust Cutting Crew onto the U.S. charts; however, both songs aren’t sufficient in summing up Broadcast’s appeal overall though, as noted.

That said, the five bonus tracks include brilliant extended cuts, such as a 12” remix of I Just Died In Your Arms and a lovely I’ve Been In Love Before, but it’s my own personal CC favorite One For The Mockingbird (Extended Remix) that makes this disc what it is.

CD 2: The Scattering (1989)
1. Year In The Wilderness
2. The Scattering
3. Big Noise
4. Everything But My Pride
5. Handcuffs For Houdini
6. (Between A) Rock And A Hard Place
7. Tip Of Your Tongue
8. Reach For The Sky
9. The Last Thing
10. Feel The Wedge
11. Binkies Return (Instrumental)
12. Brag

B-Sides & Demos
13. Christians
14. Card House (Live)
15. Contact High
16. More Than A Dream (Demo)
17. Into The Night (Demo)
18. No Secrets (Demo)

In truth, by the time Cutting Crew released their second album in 1989, they were viewed as irrelevant by both critics and the fickle public that elevated (I Just) Died In Your Arms and I’ve Been In Love Before onto the pop charts two years earlier. The cold shoulders which welcomed The Scattering were most likely due to the lack of immediately catchy songs; nevertheless, while The Scattering doesn’t have ear candy like the band’s hit singles, the music is less-blatantly commercial and more personal.

Ergo, in my humble opinion, it’s still slick stuff -- big ’80s synthesizers, glossy FM radio guitars, in-your-face drums -- but Nick VanEede’s vocals have a frosty glow that creates a mood and sustains interest that I personally adore.

As for the accumulated B-Sides & Demos bonus tracks, the best of the best for me are the dynamic Contact High, the alluring demo Into The Night, and the live cut Card House.

CD 3: Compus Mentus (1992)
1. No Bad Thing
2. (Another One Of My) Big Ideas
3. Frigid As England
4. Julie Don’t Dance
5. If That’s The Way You Want It
6. Need Someone
7. Your Guess Is As Good As Mine
8. Ricochet
9 Sweet Auburn
10. Crooked Mile
11. Don’t Let It Bring You Down
12. All The Way In

B-Sides, Remixes & Demos
13. Been In Luv (92)
14. Everything But My Pride (92 Remix)
15. Open Up Your Window (Demo)
16. Mirror And A Blade (Live)
17. One For The Mockingbird (Shelly Yakus US Remix)
18. Any Colour (Dub)
19. Kites (Demo)

Their 1992 album Compus Mentus became the duo’s third and final album together, as they decided to part ways as band mates the next year which meant the end of Cutting Crew. Nick van Eede, a wholly underrated song writer and someone who always lays down his best lyrics on anything he directs his attention to, does enough here to carry the album, but it sure wasn’t their best.

That said, standout tracks for me include Frigid As England (written by Jeff Lowe), the plaintive Sweet Auburn and the darkly comic, Don’t Let It Bring You Down, with the album spawning just the one single, the empowered If That’s The Way You Want It.

As for the selection of bonus B-Sides, Remixes & Demos, stand outs for me include the two 1992 takes Been In Luv and Everything But My Pride, a totally rocking One For The Mockingbird (Shelly Yakus US Remix), and the delightful live cut Mirror And A Blade.

Official 3CD Purchase Link

Title - In Focus [EP]
Artist - Jason Arkins

For those unaware, Jason Arkins, hailing from Carmel, NY, is a saxophonist and composer currently in his senior year at the Frost School of Music.

Indeed, Jason was recently named the 2022 Vandoren Emerging Artist Jazz Saxophonist and has achieved many other accolades including YoungArts Finalist, participation in both the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra and NYO Jazz, and he was member of the JAS Aspen Big Band under the direction of Christian McBride.

In January of this year, he released his debut EP entitled In Focus, which features Mike Ramos, Jack Dratch, Leo Folsom, and Beau Cornelius.

1. Mister Behaving (7:26)
2. The Higher Road (7:54)
3. Cut Scene (5:53)
4. In Focus (7:46)
5. A Squeegee Situation (4:31)

This collection of original music inspired by his very own musical journey thus far, opens on the translucently fluctuating melodies within Mister Behaving and the gently furtive The Higher Road and they are in turn backed by the veritably glistening Cut Scene, the joyously sculpted, titular In Focus, with the uplifting EP coming to a close on the all-embracing, dutifully impassioned A Squeegee Situation.

Jason Arkins - Saxophone/Compositions
Beau Cornelius - Piano/Keyboards
Leo Folsom - Synths/Keyboards
Mike Ramos - Bass
Jack Dratch - Drums

Purchase Link

Jason Arkins @ Instagram

Title - Caravan (180 Gram Vinyl LP)
Artist - Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers

Originally released in 1963, Caravan was Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers’ first album for Riverside Records. Featured in addition to Blakey are Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Wayne Shorter (sax), Cedar Walton (piano) and Reggie Workman (bass).

This new edition is released as part of the Original Jazz Classics Series and is pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI with all-analogue mastering from the original tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and presented in a Tip-On Jacket. US Import.

Side A:
1. Caravan
2. Sweet ’N’ Sour
3. In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning

Side B:
1. This Is For Albert
2. Skylark
3. Thermo

In truth, this album was one of my very first purchases of a jazz LP, in 1963 or 1964, at a record store near St Lazare station in France. Why this one? First of all, the cover caught my eye. Art Blakey enthroned in front of his drums, lips pursed, focused on his playing. The title too, Caravan in large font and the name Art Blakey in gold letters. A real gem to behold and not just musically, of course.

Apart from the name of the drummer, the other performers were total strangers to me (at the time). By then I was more familiar with the Ventures’ version of Caravan than Duke Ellington’s. And apart from listening to Caravan at the beginning, I was always taken aback by this music, but from listening to the album over time, I have come to wholly appreciate everything about how Blakey constructs his musical acts of sheer wonderment.

It was much later that I realized that I owned one of the best Jazz Messengers albums, the group formed between 1961 and 1964 (approximately from the albums Mosaic to Free for All) which included three blowers destined for a very great career: Curtis Fuller (trombone), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet) and especially Wayne Shorter (tenor sax). Cedar Walton on piano and Reggie Workman on double bass completed the group.

This album, in particular, was recorded in October 1962. Three standards, Caravan and the balladry of both Skylark and and In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning were the go-to ones for the radio back then, whereas the two Shorter compositions Sweet ’N’ Sour and This Is For Albert (dedicated to Bud Powell) are pure dynamite, with one of Hubbard’s Thermo also becoming part of this musical history.

A boiling hot record that starts with a hell of a version of the Duke Ellington/Juan Tizol jazz standard Caravan, along with sparkling soloists galore and moments of genuine heartfelt and impassioned joy, now listening to this 180 Gram vinyl (from Craft Recordings) again proves to me just how this most divine record hasn’t aged a bit (just like me!)

Official Purchase Links

Title - Know What I Mean? (180 Gram Vinyl LP)
Artist - Cannonball Adderley with Bill Evans

Know What I Mean? was originally released in 1960 as a collaboration between jazz saxophonist Cannonball Adderley and legendary pianist Bill Evans, along with the rhythm section of the Modern Jazz Quartet, Percy Heath (bass) and Connie Kay (drums).

This new edition of the album is released as part of the OJC Series and is pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI with (AAA) lacquers cut from the original master tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio. It is presented in a Tip-On Jacket. US Import.

Side A:
1. Waltz For Debby
2. Goodbye
3. Who Cares?
4. Venice

Side B:
1. Toy
2. Elsa
3. Nancy (With The Laughing Face)
4. Know What I Mean?

Charlie Parker died in 1955 and, without missing a beat, Cannonball was there to catch Bird’s mantle before it had touched the ground. After Miles featured himself with Cannon (Somethin’ Else) and then added him to his front line with Coltrane, the public was well-prepared for the culmination -- Kind of Blue -- an album that remains the most successful in jazz history (in terms of both sales and critical reviews).

With the break-up of the sextet, Cannon was free to go back to the soul-jazz and hard-bop approach of the quintet with his brother -- which previously had struggled to make enough to live on. But from 1959 to 1966 (the year of Mercy, Mercy, Mercy) the Quintet was a top draw, bringing jazz to both coasts and around the world while recording a series of live albums with a succession of gifted piano-players (Bobby Timmons, Victor Feldman, Joe Zawinul) and eventually the addition of a 3rd front-liner and inarguable star, Yusef Lateef.

Cannon’s style, unlike Sonny Stitt’s, represented a distinct break from the bebop lines of Bird and Diz, replacing some of the cerebral, intimidating elements of bebop with music that was heated, deep-fried, and readily accessible. Some musicians began to take shots at Cannon (he’s too sloppy, and his elocution needs work, etc.), but those who were able to drop the comparisons with Bird soon came around to Cannon’s always joyous, firmly-supported sound (the most powerful and energized breath-stream of any alto player -- as I discovered recently when comparing three interpretations of Stars Fell on Alabama, the other two by Stitt and Phil Woods).

As a Cannonball completest and self-professed alto-tenor freak, I’d recommend Cannon’s two albums with alto plus rhythm section ahead of the admittedly more popular albums featuring Cannon with other horn players. If you’re a Wynton Kelly fan (as I am), you won’t find better Wynton or Cannon than the Riverside album Cannonball Takes Charge.

If you’re a Bill Evans fan (my favorite pianist), you won’t find a more thoughtful, lyrical Cannonball than Know What I Mean? Still, over the past 50 years, I’ve played the Wynton session ten times for every single spin of Know What I Mean?, an whereas Bill’s is a restraining influence, Wynton’s is an enabling one. Theirs is the more stimulating, mutually complementary relationship, and I trust it will be the listener’s as well.

In closing, the focus here is, of course, on Adderley’s excellent post-bop styling, but it’s also interesting to hear Evans playing with a rhythm section as staid and conservative as Kay and Heath (both charter members of the Modern Jazz Quartet). In fact, it’s hard to imagine any fan of mainstream jazz not finding much to love on this very fine recording (out now as a 180 Gram vinyl reissue from Craft Recordings).

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Title - Love is Back in Style
Artist - The Stylistics

Philadelphia legends, The Stylistics were a preeminent vocal group throughout the 1970s notching hit after R&B hit with their trademark ballads. Their chart-topping prowess was only amplified when, 25 years after The Stylistics’ original hit, “Betcha By Golly Wow” was covered by Prince on his Emancipation album, introducing the classic song to a new generation of listeners.

After two decades of success, The Stylistics took a break from the studio to focus on their live show presentation and touring, but by the mid-’90s, they were ready to record again. Producer and songwriter Preston Glass had developed a relationship with Thom Bell, which after success with other artists (Stacy Lattisaw, Kenny G, Earth, Wind & Fire), led him directly to The Stylistics.

First released on producer Preston Glass’ Marathon Records in 1996, Love Is Back In Style brought the legendary soul masters well into that decade with an album that is the perfect marriage between the then-modern sounds of the 1990s and their classic ’70s hits.

Love Is Back In Style carried a similar quality found in the great works The Stylistics gave fans in the 1970s, while under the tutelage of the iconic producer/composer/arranger/conductor Grammy®-winner Thom Bell. The album is also poignant, given that it was the last album recorded with three original Stylistics — Airrion Love, Herb Murrell, and longtime lead singer, Russell Thompkins Jr..

1. I Once Had A Love
2. She’s All That
3. Shoulder
4. Keeping You To Your Promise
5. Right Face, Wrong Mind
6. Have You Ever Been In Love?
7. Go
8. Where Do You Run
9. Love Can Heal A Wounded Heart
10. You Must Love Loneliness
11. What You’re Goin’ Through
12. She’s All That (Remix) [Bonus Track]

This stunningly ambient flashback to a much easier, smoother time of life musically surrounds the group with elegance and first-class Philly songs and arrangements from the off.

Indeed, Russell Thompkins’ effortless falsetto never sounded better and the same is true for Herb Murrell and Aiiron Love, whose deeper register takes a track such as Love Can Heal a Wounded Heart to lofty heights.

Some of the stand out tracks for me are She’s All That is a funky, synth-heavy tune that just goes everywhere you could ever wish it to, Shoulder has some of the sitar licks that bring back memories of those times, Keeping You To Your Promise is a sweet ballad with a soggy hook line, and the uptempo Right Face, Wrong Mind is an uptempo number with a dutiful soul.

Have You Ever Been In Love? once again uses the sitar sound to try and remind us of the classic Stylistics ballads, which it most assuredly does, and then we get tracks such as Where Do You Run (a competent ballad) and the aforementioned Love Can Heal A Wounded Heart has a nice shared lead between Russell, Herb and Arrion.

Oh, and as much as Herb Murrell preaches against rap at live concerts, they include one here by Biggy Smallz on the remix version of She’s All That!

Featuring remastering by multiple Grammy®-winning engineer, Michael Graves and updated artwork containing informative liners from Kevin L. Goins, Love Is Back In Style rightfully takes its place in the canon of one of Philly soul’s greatest groups.

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Title - Where? (180 Gram Vinyl LP)
Artist - Ron Carter w/ Eric Dolphy & Mal Waldron

Bass player Ron Carter’s debut album Where? features Eric Dolphy (clarinet, sax, flute) and Mal Waldron (piano). The album was originally released in 1961 having been recorded at Rudy Van Gelder Studios in New Jersey.

Interestingly enough, the set appeared under Eric Dolphy’s name first, but it is, in fact, bassist Ron Carter’s date - his first as a leader. Carter and Dolphy had played together in Chico Hamilton’s group and on Dolphy’s important 1960 date Out There.

This new edition is released as part of the Original Jazz Classics Series and is pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI with all-analog mastering from the original tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and presented in a Tip-On Jacket with obi.

Side A:
1. Rally
2. Bass Duet
3. Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise

Side B:
1. Where?
2. Yes, Indeed
3. Saucer Eyes

I love this album for a number of reasons, but foremost is the unique configuration of the ensemble. Carter’s chops as a bassist were undeniable even as a twenty-four year old, but he had the courage to enlist bassist George Duvivier to join him on three of the tracks, then play cello himself without a bassist on three other tracks. Add in Eric Dolphy’s bass clarinet on some of the tracks and you have a musician vision that is not only unique in concept, but also in performance.

The sounds brought forth embody a complete essence of a truly great album and although the music clocks in at a scant 35:48, this album is especially important to musicians - regardless of instrument - who can gain a lot of insights by closely studying the way the ensemble comes together and the structure of Carter’s arrangements.

Recorded at Rudy van Gelder’s Englewood Cliffs, NJ studio on June 20, 1961 (less than a month after Carter’s twenty-fourth birthday), Carter is heard on cello for three of the six tracks and his natural born skill set is undeniable throughout.

For me, the two highlights here are the opener, which features Dolphy’s freewheeling bass clarinet and the composer’s most adventurous cello work on this set, and the easygoing duet with George Duvivier; a quiet, back-porch conversation that makes few demands on either of these bass giants, sure, and yet sumptuously invites you to listen, to engage.

Taking them one by one, and pianist Mal Waldron is characteristically dry, economical, and swinging. Drummer Charlie Persip quietly impresses with thoughtful, detailed work. Duvivier is on bass when Carter plays cello. The six tracks lovingly comprise two Carter originals, two standards, and a pair of Randy Weston numbers and they are blended supremely.

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Title - The Rolling Stones - Singles 1966-1971 [Box-Set]
Artist - The Rolling Stones

For those not in the know, ABKCO Records has just released the second Rolling Stones Singles 1966-1971 seven inch single box-set, which follows up the 1963-1966 collection from last year, and thus contains 18 vinyl singles and extended play records as originally released by Decca, London Records and ABKCO Records.

This features original packaging, original mono and stereo single mixes and all the hits from this classic era including five number ones. Tracks include ‘Paint It Black’, ‘Have You Seen Your Mother Baby Standing In The Shadow?’, ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’, ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’, ‘Street Fighting Man’, ‘Honky Tonk Women’, ‘Brown Sugar’, and many other classics.

It also features songs that while recorded between ’66 and ’71 where sometimes issued as singles after that, an example being ‘I Don’t Know Why’, which wasn’t issued until 1975 to promote the Stones rarities album Metamorphosis. A bit more dubiously, the Neptunes and Fat Boy Slim remixes of ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ (issued on SACD in 2003) now get their own seven-inch, although at least the original version is still on disc 17.

All the tracks in this box were remastered by Bob Ludwig, and the discs are manufactured by Third Man Pressing in Detroit. The set also comes with a 32-page book containing extensive liner notes by Nigel Williamson.

Disc 1: “Paint It, Black” US version (originally released May 1966)
A. Paint It, Black
B. Stupid Girl

Disc 2: “Paint It, Black” UK version (originally released May 1966)
A. Paint It, Black
B. Long Long While

Disc 3: “Mother’s Little Helper” (originally released June 1966)
A. Mother’s Little Helper
B. Lady Jane

Disc 4: “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?” (originally released September 1966)
A. Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?
B. Who’s Driving Your Plane

Disc 5: “Let’s Spend The Night Together” (originally released January 1967)
A. Let’s Spend The Night Together
B. Ruby Tuesday

Disc 6: “We Love You” (originally released August 1967)
A. We Love You
B. Dandelion

Disc 7: “She’s A Rainbow” (originally released November 1967)
A. She’s A Rainbow
B. 2000 Light Years From Home

Disc 8: “In Another Land” (originally released December 1967)
A. In Another Land
B. The Lantern

Disc 9: “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (originally released May 1968)
A. Jumpin’ Jack Flash
B. Child Of The Moon

Disc 10: “Street Fighting Man” US version (originally released August 1968)
A. Street Fighting Man
B. No Expectations

Disc 11: “Honky Tonk Women” (originally released July 1969)
A. Honky Tonk Women (mono mix)
B. You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Disc 12: “Memo From Turner” (originally released November 1970)
A. Memo From Turner (Mick Jagger)
B. Natural Magic (Ry Cooder) from the film Performance

Disc 13: “Street Fighting Man” UK maxi-single (originally released June 1971)
A. Street Fighting Man
B1. Surprise Surprise
B2. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love

Disc 14: “Brown Sugar” (A-side originally released April 1971; B-side originally released June 1971)
A. Brown Sugar
B. Wild Horses

Disc 15: “I Don’t Know Why” (originally released May 1975)
A. I Don’t Know Why (aka Don’t Know Why I Love You)
B. Try A Little Harder

Disc 16: “Out Of Time” (originally released September 1975)
A. Out Of Time
B. Jiving Sister Fanny

Disc 17: “Honky Tonk Women” (originally released April 1976)
A. Honky Tonk Women (stereo mix)
B. Sympathy For The Devil

Disc 18: “Sympathy For The Devil” Remix (originally released as part of SACD E.P. & CD single September 2003)
A. Sympathy For The Devil (The Neptunes Remix)
B. Sympathy For The Devil (Fat Boy Slim Remix)

Having grown up in a 7” single, vinyl-buying household in both the UK and the US, and with parents both devoted fans of bands such as The Rolling Stones, the Beatles, The Kinks, The Who and oh-so many more, I myself grew up listening to all these wondrous songs (A-Sides and B-Sides, I am glad to report) and so not only feel very blessed that this quite stunning new box-set has been kindly sent to us for review by ABKCO, but honestly feel well positioned to bring to you my collective thoughts on the contents here today.

Firstly, once you remove the factory-seal and open the box, that new car smell (so to speak) generously, and gorgeously wafts up to your nose and makes you immediately smile (knowing that, unlike second hand garage sales and old timey record shops), the vinyl you remove from this box will not be raggedy-sleeved, or feature vinyl scratches and blemishes of any kind.

With, save for one, each single lovingly housed within its own color picture sleeve - as opposed to some other box-sets that shall remain nameless, where each single came out housed in plain white sleeves - it is not only the quality of the vinyl itself when played, but the look of the replica flashback picture sleeves that just make you nostalgically crumble inside.

If I had to pick a favorite from amongst this plethora of musical wonderment, it would be the opener Paint It Black, a cut that neither matched the intensity of its forebears, nor the oppressive themes which its lyrics suggested, and yet the Wyman-suggested Hammond organ pedals lay a luxurious bed from which the tune rises from.

It’s B-Side, the simply magnificent Stupid Girl, itself possesses an endearing and energetic snottiness that might have won the Stones a good amount of sexually frustrated young men fans back then, one assumes.

Another would be Mother’s Little Helper - which peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 - and is driven by its lyrics being about an indictment of middle class prescription drug abuse as an antidote to the drudgery of everyday life. It’s B-Side is Lady Jane, a song that showcases Brian Jones’ instrumental incorporation of baroque rock (as it would since come to be known).

Moving a little further into the wondrous box-set - and away from the worldwide known hits that punctuate this collection - and another stand out is the Memo From Turner. A solo single by Jagger, it features some beautifully alluring slide guitar by Ry Cooder and is from the soundtrack of Performance; in which Jagger played the role of Turner, a reclusive rock star.

The B-Side to the single is Natural Magic by Ry Cooder, also from the film Performance, and is itself a guitar virtuoso performance of the highest caliber.

Along next would be the Stevie Wonder-penned I Don’t Know Why (aka Don’t Know Why I Love You), which was a hit for the Stones in February of 1969. The B-Side is Try A Little Harder, which is itself built around a basic low twangy soul-rock guitar riff and backup harmony chant.

One more personal choice would be Out Of Time, which brought together the wonderful studio sounds of electric dulcimers, marimbas, and auto harps, all brought vividly to the fore to create a much under-rated track. It’s B-Side is Jiving Sister Fanny, which may well be chock full of incomprehensible vocalizations and filler phrases, is still a coherent tale about a man in Philadelphia who has the brain of a dinosaur!

The lovely, large color book is magnificent also, featuring lots and lots of wondrous old black and white/color photographs of the band, along with adjacent single release information. And the posed/caught live, five various art cards (photos) and luscious horizontal black and white poster make for lovely viewing also.

ABKCO Records is home to the entire catalog of The Rolling Stones from 1963 to early 1971. This includes the albums The Rolling Stones, England’s Newest Hit Makers, 12 X 5, The Rolling Stones No. 2, The Rolling Stones, Now!, Out of Our Heads, December’s Children (And Everybody’s), Aftermath, Got Live If You Want It!, Between the Buttons, Their Satanic Majesties Request, Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed and Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert. ABKCO Films is home to Charlie Is My Darling - Ireland 1965 and The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus.

Official Unboxing | The Rolling Stones 7" Singles 1966 - 1971 (Vinyl Box Set)

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Title - Reves
Artist - Philippe Graffin

Reves, the new album by acclaimed French violinist Philippe Graffin, features two world-premiere recordings of freshly discovered concertos by Belgian virtuoso violinist and composer Eugene Ysaye - the complete Violin Concerto in E Minor and Poeme Concertant. Rounding out this beautiful album are gems for violin and piano: 2 Mazurkas de Salon, Op.10, and Reve d’enfant.

The world-premiere recording of the complete Violin Concerto in E Minor by Belgian virtuoso violinist and composer Eugene Ysaye has arrived! Following the recent discovery of a first movement, further manuscripts which complete the work have come to light - one a full orchestration, others for violin and piano - which were found on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Philippe Graffin’s close collaboration with Ysayoe aficionado Xavier Falques led to a page-by-page analysis and painstaking reconstruction of the musical puzzle pieces, resulting in this recording of the full, three-movement concerto which displays Ysayoe’s trademark ardour, intensity and originality.

For reasons unknown, Ysayoe abandoned his Violin Concerto in E minor in 1885, but some years later embarked on another, Poeme concertant, which was also recently discovered in manuscript form and is imbued with passion and the love Ysayoe felt for his pupil Irma Sethe. Their love was mutual but their relationship could not endure, possibly sealing the fate of Poeme concertant which lay undiscovered for over a century but is now brought back to life with this world-premiere recording.

Philippe rounds out the recording with three Ysayoe gems for violin and piano: 2 Mazurkas de Salon, Op.10, works the violinist / composer frequently performed and gained popularity throughout Europe and Russia in his lifetime; and Reve d’enfant (A child’s dream), which he dedicated to his youngest son Antoine.

1. Ysaye: Pome Concertant (orch. Erika Vega)
2. Ysaye: Violin Concerto in E Minor: I. Allegro appassionato non troppo vivo
3. Ysaye: Violin Concerto in E Minor: II. Andante
4. Ysaye: Violin Concerto in E Minor: III. Allegro in modo di pomposo ma furioso
5. Ysaye: 2 Mazurkas de Salon, Op. 10: No. 1
6. Ysaye: 2 Mazurkas de Salon, Op. 10: No. 2
7. Ysaye: Reve d’enfant, Op. 14

This highly impressive, dutifully sculptured new recording opens on elegantly flourishing, if not cunningly stern Pome Concertant and then we get the trio: the playfully sprite Violin Concerto in E Minor: I. Allegro appassionato non troppo vivo, the engaging Violin Concerto in E Minor: II. Andante, and then comes the impassioned Violin Concerto in E Minor: III. Allegro in modo di pomposo ma furioso.

Along next is the cultured swirl and twirl that plays out within 2 Mazurkas de Salon, Op. 10: No. 1 (Dans le lontain) which is itself backed seamlessly by the ornate gossamer of its partner 2 Mazurkas de Salon, Op. 10: No. 2 (Mazurka), everything coming to a close on the more melancholy of the works, the impeccable Reve d’enfant, Op. 14.

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Title - Mystery Sonatas: Die Rosenkranz-Sonaten
Artist - Alan Choo w/ Jeannette Sorrell & Apollo’s Fire

The Mystery Sonatas by Austrian composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, believed to have been penned in the 1670s, remain unsurpassed for their virtuosity and extended use of scordatura, a unique tuning system that underscores different aural colours and timbres of the violin, thereby illuminating the pictorial themes of the Rosary – the processions devoted to major moments in the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary – which Biber’s work depicts.

Singaporean violinist Alan Choo, the vibrant leader of acclaimed baroque ensemble Apollo’s Fire, headlines a dynamic and descriptive recording of the Mystery Sonatas, enhancing the scordatura with six different violins that require 15 individual tunings. He explains, “The use of a unique scordatura tuning for each sonata means that a violinist needs to use multiple violins if performing several of the pieces in the same week – each violin kept at the tuning of its respective sonata. Otherwise, the constant re-tuning of a violin would destabilize its tuning. I used a total of six violins in this recording. The personality of each instrument shines through.”

Joined by a chamber ensemble of his Apollo’s Fire colleagues, including founding director Jeannette Sorrell on harpsichord, Choo navigates Biber’s extended techniques with aplomb and devotion to the 15 programmatic sonatas which are compiled into three cycles – the Joyful Mysteries (the Angel Gabriel delivers the news to Mary that she will be the mother of the Messiah), Sorrowful Mysteries (Jesus’ agony, knowing he is about to be betrayed) and Glorious Mysteries (the Resurrection of Christ and his ascent to heaven) – and are crowned by the timeless finale, Passacaglia for solo violin.

Disc 1:
The Joyful Mysteries
Sonata No. 1 in D Minor “The Annunciation”
1. I. Praeludium
2. II. Aria (Allegro) – Variatio – Finale

Sonata No. 2 in A Major “The Visitation”
3. I. Sonata
4. II. Allaman
5. III. Presto

Sonata No. 3 in B Minor “The Nativity”
6. I. Sonata
7. II. Courente – Double
8. III. Adagio

Sonata No. 4 in D Minor “The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple”
9. Ciacona

Sonata No. 5 in A Major “The Finding of Jesus in the Temple”
10. I. Praeludium
11. II. Allaman
12. III. Guigue
13. IV. Saraban – Double

The Sorrowful Mysteries
Sonata No. 6 in C Minor “The Agony in the Garden”
14. I. Lamento
15. II. Adagio

Sonata No. 7 in F Major “The Scourging at the Pillar”
16. I. Allamanda – Variatio
17. II. Sarabanda – Variatio

Sonata No. 8 in B flat Major “The Crowning with Thorns”
18. I. Sonata: Adagio – Presto – [Adagio]
19. II. Guigue – Double (Presto) – Double II

Sonata No. 9 in A Minor “The Carrying of the Cross”
20. I. Sonata
21. II. Courente – Double – [Double II]
22. III. Finale

Sonata No. 10 in G Minor “The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus”
23. I. Praeludium
24. II. Aria – Variatio

Recorded at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Cleveland Heights, Ohio between November 19th, 2021 - May 16th, 2023, the first disc of the recording opens on the delightful The Joyful Mysteries, and first being Sonata No. 1 in D Minor “The Annunciation”: the ornate gossamer of Praeludium and the more spirited nature of Aria (Allegro) – Variatio – Finale, and then comes Sonata No. 2 in A Major “The Visitation”: and the sterner fare of Sonata, the focused Allaman, and then the playful Presto.

Along next is Sonata No. 3 in B Minor “The Nativity”: which itself opens on the cultured Sonata, then continues with the flirtatious Courente – Double, ending with the aching yearn found within Adagio, then comes Sonata No. 4 in D Minor “The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple”: and the all-embracing Ciacona, the piece culminating with Sonata No. 5 in A Major “The Finding of Jesus in the Temple”: and the gripping Praeludium, the delightful swirls and twirls that drive Allaman, and both the upbeat Guigue and the embodied Saraban – Double.

The next work brought forth is invigoratingly dutiful The Sorrowful Mysteries which opens on Sonata No. 6 in C Minor “The Agony in the Garden”: and the aching Lamento and then the focused Adagio, and next we get Sonata No. 7 in F Major “The Scourging at the Pillar”: the delicacy of Allamanda – Variatio and the stirring waltz within Sarabanda – Variatio.

Up next is Sonata No. 8 in B flat Major “The Crowning with Thorns”: which opens with the flourishing Sonata: Adagio – Presto – [Adagio]and finishes with the thriving Guigue – Double (Presto) – Double II, then we get Sonata No. 9 in A Minor “The Carrying of the Cross”: which itself opens on the delicacy of melody within Sonata, the pleasurable Courente – Double – [Double II], culminating on the blooming Finale, the final act being Sonata No. 10 in G Minor “The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus”: the sculptured Praeludium leading the way, closing on the profuse Aria – Variatio.

Disc 2:
The Glorious Mysteries
Sonata No. 11 in G Major “The Resurrection”
1. I. Sonata
2. II. Surrexit Christus hodie
3. III. Adagio

Sonata No. 12 in C Major “The Ascension”
4. I. Intrada
5. II. Aria Tubicinum
6. III. Allamanda
7. IV. Courente – Double

Sonata No. 13 in D Minor “The Descent of the Holy Spirit”
8. I. Sonata
9. II. Gavott – Guigue
10. III. Sarabanda

Sonata No. 14 in D Major “The Assumption of Mary into Heaven”
11. I. [Praeludium]
12. II. Aria – Aria II – Guigue

Sonata No. 15 in C Major “The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth”
13. I. Sonata
14. II. Aria – [Variatio]
15. III. Canzon
16. IV. Sarabanda

Sonata No. 16 in G Minor “The Guardian Angel”
17. Passacaglia

The second disc opens on the majestic The Glorious Mysteries and its Sonata No. 11 in G Major “The Resurrection”: the simply delightful Sonata, the guided Surrexit Christus hodie and then the subtly-hued Adagio, and then comes Sonata No. 12 in C Major “The Ascension”: the first of the quartet being the quietly boisterous Intrada, the forthright Aria Tubicinum, the tender Allamanda, and finally the gently frisky Courente – Double.

Along next is Sonata No. 13 in D Minor “The Descent of the Holy Spirit” which opens on the emphatic Sonata, the confident Gavott – Guigue and ends with the somewhat sombre Sarabanda, and then comes Sonata No. 14 in D Major “The Assumption of Mary into Heaven”: and a distinctiveness found within Praeludium and the sweeping Aria – Aria II – Guigue.

The simply magnificent recording Sonata No. 15 in C Major “The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth” is up next and opens on the impressive Sonata before bringing us the engaging stillness of Aria – [Variatio], the stirring flair of Canzon and the emotional Sarabanda rounds out the work, itself closing on Sonata No. 16 in G Minor “The Guardian Angel” and a rather grippingly sentimental Passacaglia.

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Title - Requiem
Artist - Christopher Tyler Nickel

The world-premiere recording of Canadian composer Christopher Tyler Nickel’s Requiem marries the placidity of plainchant to complex rhythmic energy, powerfully communicating an intensely personal listening experience.

“In my music, peace and restlessness co-exist continually”. So explains award-winning Canadian composer Christopher Tyler Nickel, describing his setting of the Requiem, which marries the placidity of plainchant to complex rhythms and meters.

Scored for chamber orchestra, choir and solo soprano, and setting the complete standard Latin text, this world-premiere recording possesses a steady current of energy that propels the work ever-forward, whilst Chris’ contemplative musical language enhances a sense of intimacy that makes its communicative power feel intensely personal.

1. I. Introit
2. II. Kyrie
3. III. Gradual
4. IV. Tract
5. V. Dies Irae
6. VI. Tuba Mirum
7. VII. Liber Scriptus
8. VIII. Rex Tremendae
9. IX. Juste Judex
10. X. Confutatis
11. XI. Lacrimosa
12. XII. Pie Jesu
13. XIII. Offertory
14. XIV. Sanctus
15. XV. Benedictus
16. XVI. Agnus Dei
17. XVII. Lux Aeterna
18. XVIII. Responsory
19. XIX. In Paradisum

Recorded between August 21–24 2022 in St Thomas Chapel at Bastyr University, Kenmore, Washington, USA, this impassioned recording opens on the calmness personified within Introit, the more strident Kyrie, the guided Gradual and Tract both, and they are then followed by the gently flourishing Dies Irae, the harmonious Tuba Mirum, the ornately sculpted Liber Scriptus, and then we get the organically-channeled Rex Tremendae.

Along next is the spirited Juste Judex, the upbeat and rhythm-led Confutatis, the beautifully-hued Lacrimosa and the vocally-led Pie Jesu, and they are in turn backed by the gripping Offertory, the layered complexities of Sanctus, the embodied Benedictus, the recording rounding out on the impassioned Agnus Dei, the fervidly sung Lux Aeterna, closing on the chorus-led righteousness of Responsory and the veritably cinematic In Paradisum.

Catherine Redding, soprano
Northwest Sinfonia
Clyde Mitchell, conductor

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Title - Ravel: Complete Works for Solo Piano Vol. 1
Artist - Vincent Larderet

French pianist Vincent Larderet inaugurates a definitive, four-volume series of the composer’s complete works for solo piano, signifying Vincent’s fulfillment of a decades-long devotion his compatriot.

This first-ever Urtext compilation of Ravel’s complete works for solo piano is a landmark collection that embraces numerous world-premiere renditions. Many works, whilst familiar, are prepared and recorded from personal scores that were annotated by pianist and pedagogue Vlado Perlemuter during his private study and close collaboration with the composer between 1927 and 1929.

These scores reveal invaluable insights to interpretation of such aspects as tempi, pedalling, phrasing and tonal colors. Through his tutelage under Perlemuter’s student Carlos Cebro, Vincent Larderet is a direct inheritor of Ravel’s ethos and interpretive style.

Volume 1 of Vincent’s Ravel survey includes original solo piano versions of the popular Valses nobles et sentimentales and Pavane pour une infante défunte, alongside the five-movement suite Miroirs and Sonatine.

Miroirs, M.43
1. I. Noctuelles
2. II. Oiseaux tristes
3. III. Une Barque sur l’océan
4. IV. Alborada del gracioso
5. V. La vallée des cloches

6. Jeux d’eau, M.30
Valses nobles et sentimentales, M.61
7. I. Modéré, très franc
8. II. Assez lent, avec une expression intense
9. III. Modéré
10. IV. Assez animé
11. V. Presque lent, dans un sentiment intime
12. VI. Vif
13. VII. Moins vif
14. VIII. Épilogue. Lent

Sonatine, M.40
15. I. Modéré
16. II. Mouvement de menuet
17. III. Animé

18. Pavane pour une Infante défunte, M.19

Recorded between April 25–27 2023 at Alter Sendesaal, Bremen, Germany, this recording opens on Miroirs, M.43: the sparkling Noctuelles, the delicate Oiseaux tristes, the veritably glistening Une Barque sur l’océan, the perky and playful Alborada del gracioso and then the dutiful gossamer sewn throughout La vallée des cloches, and then we get a memorable Jeux d’eau, M.30.

Along next is Valses nobles et sentimentales, M.61: the sterner fare of Modéré, très franc, the stoically sculpted Assez lent, avec une expression intense, the pleasing Modéré, the flourishing Assez animé, and then we get the comforting nature of melody within Presque lent, dans un sentiment intime, the lively Vif, the profound Moins vif and the warm embrace discovered within Épilogue. Lent.

This impeccably structured recording then closes on Sonatine, M.40, which opens on the beautifully ornate Modéré, the simply divine Mouvement de menuet, the free flowing Animé, before closing on the resonant Pavane pour une Infante défunte, M.19.

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Title - Hidden Flame
Artist - Yoshika Masuda & Hyejin Kim

Japanese-American cellist Yoshika (“Yoshi”) Masuda makes his recording debut with Hidden Flame, an album containing music by Amy Beach, Clara Schumann, Rita Strohl, Nadia Boulanger, Maria Theresia Paradis, and a world-premiere by Reena Esmail.

The works on Hidden Flame span over two centuries and collectively tell a story of how women have moved from the margins of the classical repertoire to somewhere closer to the center. Whilst the quality of the music these women composed is indisputable, there are also fascinating background stories for all these pieces which often illustrate the personal and societal pressures faced by creative women in history.

Yoshi describes the album’s concept: “to present the compositions of women as masterpieces by truly great composers. Musicians and music lovers often feel confident that great works that exist in this world must already be a part of the standard repertoire.”

“However, this album proves that there are hidden gems that deserve more recognition are still out there! It is my aspiration that, in encountering both the familiar and the unfamiliar within this collection of pieces, listeners will transcend considerations of gender or race and recognize these compositions simply as expressions of profound beauty crafted by masterful composers.”

AMY BEACH (1867–1944)
1. Romance, Op.23 6.27

CLARA SCHUMANN (1819–1896)
3 Romances, Op.22
2. I. Andante molto 3.24
3. II. Allegretto: Mit zartem Vortrage 3.18
4. III. Leidenschaftlich schnell 4.13

RITA STROHL (1865–1941)
Great Dramatic Sonata ‘Titus et Bérénice’
5. I. Allegro moderato 14.03
6. II. Vivace – Molto movimento 5.30
7. III. Lento, tristamente 8.31
8. IV. Allegro molto movimento 10.45

REENA ESMAIL (b. 1983)
9. one word makes a world 5.56
world-premiere recording

3 Pieces for cello & piano
10. I. Modéré 2.51
11. II. Sans vitesse et à l’aise 1.39
12. III. Vite et nerveusement rythmé 2.33

MARIA THERESA PARADIS (1759–1824) attrib.
13. Sicilienne 3.32

Recorded between June 10–12 2022 at Cammilleri Hall, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, this dutifully impassioned new recording opens on the aching yearn of Amy Beach’s Romance, Op.23 and then we get Clara Schumann’s 3 Romances, Op.22: the sombre Andante molto, the cautious Allegretto: Mit zartem Vortrage and the flourishing Leidenschaftlich schnell, before we are brought forth Rita Strohl’s quartet within Great Dramatic Sonata ‘Titus et Bérénice’: the desiring Allegro moderato, the sprightly Vivace – Molto movimento, the shying Lento, tristamente, and then comes the opulent Allegro molto movimento.

Along next is the world-premiere recording from Reena Esmail of the layered majesties found within one word makes a world and that in turn is followed by a trio from Nadia Boulanger entitled 3 Pieces for cello & piano: which itself opens on the refined elegance of Modéré, the light and airey Sans vitesse et à l’aise and the forthright Vite et nerveusement rythmé, the recording closing on the all-embracing Sicilienne from Maria Theresa Paradis.

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Title - Monteverdi: Tutti i madrigali - Complete Madrigals
Artist - Rinaldo Alessandrini

In the forty years that he has been working on Monteverdi, Rinaldo Alessandrini has revealed the beauty, poetry and genius of the music. Today, naïve publish a box set containing the entire collection of his recordings of the madrigals with Concerto Italiano: 12 hours of music on 11 CDs, including previously unreleased books I and IX.

Rinaldo Alessandrini’s vast discography with his Concerto Italiano has included Monteverdi’s madrigals, presented whenever he wished, interlinked themes and personal dramaturgies. This complete, non- chronological collection, which began in 1993 with book IV, then gradually increased over the years up to books I and IX, recorded last year, as yet missing from their catalogue, has now culminated in the publication of a dense, full and well-documented box set.

The further Rinaldo Alessandrini advanced in his demanding and exhaustive quest, the more he discovered and mastered the inexhaustible richness of a musical art intimately linked to the theatre and the emotions. “A theatre,” he says, “made of humanity, of aspiring to the sublime and the joyful resolution of life’s sorrows through love, the curative power of song and the energetic exaltation of dance.”

Today, the Italian conductor and harpsichordist is one of the undisputed masters of this exceptional vocal heritage, the best-loved of which is the famous book VIII devoted to madrigals of love and war, with the Combattimento de Tancredi e Clorinda, the Lamento de la ninfa and Hor che’l ciel e la terra, book VI with its Lamento d’Arianna and Zefiro torna, voted Editor’s Choice by Gramophone, and book II, winner of a Gram phone Award.

All the subtlety of the intimate intermingling of text and music unfolds, in ever renewed variety. Each recording has also contributed to the methodical, fascinating and detailed construction of a personal vision of Monteverdi’s work, aided by the unfailing commitment and inspired voices of Concerto Italiano.

These recordings of the whole opus, with the addition of two hitherto unpublished books, complete a monumental work, already widely and unanimously praised, and also crown a Monteverdi cycle which began at the Barcelona Liceu in 2021.

Madrigals, Book 1: SV23-39
Madrigals, Book 2: SV40-59
Madrigals, Book 3: SV60-74
Madrigals, Book 4: SV75-93
Madrigals, Book 5: SV94-106
Madrigals, Book 6: SV107-116
Madrigals, Book 7: SV117-145
Madrigals, Book 8: SV146-167 Madrigals of Love and War
Madrigals, Book 9: SV 168-178

Simply put, if you are looking for a complete set of Monterverdi Madrigal recordings this is by far the greatest set to date, in my humble opinion. For this set by Naïve Records we get the result of the work to be as similar as possible to how it was played in the lifetime of Monteverdi. He lived from 1567 until 1643, a long period with major changes and which saw transition from Renaissance to Baroque in music.

The set includes all the nine books of Madrigals, and all culled within their most strict of sense, but what makes this set feel very much like a unified effort is all the variety of styles that Monteverdi used are well matched by the ensemble’s sensitivity to text, style, flair for the dramatic, and the excellent instrumental accompaniment.

Indeed, the set makes a musical, stylistic, and textual journey, with hardly a dull moment. The combination of countertenors, tenors, baritones and basses provides a fascinating mix of timbres, never heard on previous recordings at such a level, I would like to think.

Furthermore, artwork design is truly beautiful, all 11 CDs houses elegantly within an excellent box, which comes complete with a highly informative booklet.

Thus here on Monteverdi: Tutti i madrigali - Complete Madrigals, it is evident from the off that he himself explores themes of love, war, and the pain of loss. A madrigal was a term for all sorts of secular song forms, styles, and subjects. Lighthearted and rustic 3, and sometimes 4, voice works aplenty.

Then later came more voices and textual expressiveness with sensitivity and an experimental approach to chromaticism. Indeed, Monteverdi began his earliest works with a blend of light pastoral texts and weightier emotional texts, but here he uses striking harmonic twists to bridge between moments.

His second and third books show a freer sense of expression and intensity whereas his fourth and fifth books reveal an increase in dissonance and chromaticism, unusual harmonic choices, textural contrasts, and impassioned delivery.

He even uses long sections for 1, 2, or 3 voices within the fuller polyphonic texture, all with instrumental accompaniment, the Madrigals aligned at certain moments themselves with basso continuo ambiance.

The seventh book, titled Concerto by Monteverdi himself takes the innovation that there are no traditional 5 voice madrigals, but simply pieces from 1 to 4 voices. Also included are the Love and War Madrigals (CD 10).

Overall, and in closing, the sound throughout is exceptional and the whole package simple feels just so luxurious upon the ears as the Madrigals play out before us.

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Rinaldo Alessandrini @ Instagram

Title - Beyond Belief
Artist - Albare

At the heart of Albare’s new album Beyond Belief lies a theme of exploration and discovery, both within the realms of music and the human experience. Albare uses his guitar voice and compositional collaboration with Phil Turcio who have now worked together for the past thirty years, to guide listeners through a series of soundscapes that are as varied as they are cohesive.

The album weaves together a tapestry of influences, from the intricate rhythms of world music to the soul-stirring harmonies of modern jazz, creating a unique sonic palette.

The overarching concept of the album is one of journeying beyond the known and the ordinary. Albare invites listeners to join him in pushing past the limits of belief, exploring new horizons of emotion and expression. Each track contributes to this overarching narrative, offering its own unique flavor and perspective.

There’s a sense of introspection and wonder that permeates the album. It’s as if Albare and his comrades – Phil Turcio, Pablo Bencid and Phil Rex – are not just playing music, but also exploring the deeper questions of life, love, and existence.

The album’s fusion of different musical elements mirrors the complexity of these themes, creating a rich and multi-layered listening experience. The one track ‘I Believe’ featuring special guest vocalist Lionel Cole, you feel the voice of Lionel being used like a skilled instrumentalist in the tradition of the likes of the late Al Jarreau.

1. Missing in Action
2. Mad’s Happy Day
3. No Regrets
4. Feeling Moody
5. I Believe
6. Ladino Jazz
7. Sailing Away
8. Blue Bossa Reimagined
9. Hymn to My Friend
10. Hypothetical Retrospection

This beautifully manicured, dutifully sculpted new recording opens on the spirited Missing in Action and the romantic swirls and twirls within Mad’s Happy Day and then comes the impassioned No Regrets, the languishing beauty of Feeling Moody, and the playfully sculpted I Believe is along next.

Up next is a dutiful ebb and flow that drives Ladino Jazz and the Eastern-tinged Sailing Away, which are in turn followed by the aptly-named Blue Bossa Reimagined, the album rounding out on the ornate gossamer of Hymn to My Friend, closing on the joyously lavish Hypothetical Retrospection.

MUSICIANS: Albare: guitar, Phil Turcio: Piano, Phil Rex: bass, Pablo Bencid: drums, Lionel Cole vocals on “If I believe”

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Title - 10,000 Volts
Artist - Ace Frehley

Guitarist extraordinaire and former Kiss vociferator Ace Frehley’s tenth solo album 10,000 Volts is the sonic equivalent of Gakuryu Ishii’s bolshy film Electric Dragon 80,000 Volts - a massive, out-of-this-world experience that embraces the pure shreddage of the electric guitar, in an ultimate face-off between human and machine!

The analogy of overridden circuitry is unsurprisingly useful for evoking related emotions in Frehley’s case, as on the title track, on which a perfectly phased-out riff accompanies the lyric, She hit me like 10,000 volts, when I saw her face.

Then come the covers, such as Walkin’ On The Moon and the equally raw in-your-facers such as Cosmic Heart and Life Of A Stranger. No fillers here!

1. 10,000 Volts (3:24)
2. Walkin’ on the Moon (3:44)
3. Cosmic Heart (3:53)
4. Cherry Medicine (3:39)
5. Back Into My Arms Again (3:36)
6. Fightin’ for Life (3:20)
7. Blinded (3:53)
8. Constantly Cute (3:38)
9. Life of a Stranger (3:57)
10. Up in the Sky (4:27)
11. Stratosphere (3:05)

On this hyper-commercial hard-rock spirit of his former band, Frehley opens on the searlingly titular 10,000 Volts and the propulsive Walkin’ on the Moon and they are followed by the dynamic Cosmic Heart, the rythmically sturdy Cherry Medicine, before the mid-tempo, AOR balladry of Back Into My Arms Again is brought forth.

Along next on Frehley’s electrifying new studio solo album is the soaring Fightin’ for Life and the steadfast Blinded, and they are then backed by my own personal favorite, the melodically free flowing Constantly Cute, the album rounding out on the mesmerizing guitar work within Life of a Stranger, the rock out on Up in the Sky, closing on the atmospherically-charged Stratosphere.

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Title - Strong
Artist - Albert Cummings

For those not in the know, Blues maestro Albert Cummings has just released his eagerly awaited album, Strong, set to captivate audiences worldwide. Released through Ivy Music Company, Strong promises to deliver a potent blend of blues, rock, and raw emotion.

Recorded at the prestigious Ocean Way Recording Studio in Nashville, Tennessee, and produced by the Grammy-winning virtuoso Tom Hambridge, Strong marks a pivotal moment in Cummings’ musical journey. With 12 exceptional tracks, Cummings showcases his unparalleled songwriting abilities and undeniable talent.

1. Emmylou
2. Live Strong
3. Lookin’ Up
4. Fallen For You
5. Let It Burn
6. Bad Reputation
7. Goin’ Down Slow
8. Just About Enough
9. Get Busy
10. Lately
11. Why Don’t We Do It In the Road? (John Lennon, Paul McCartney)
12. My Sisters Guitar

On this exhilarating new blues rock album, Cummings opens on the raunchy Emmylou and the flourishing Live Strong, and they are followed by the forthright blues of Lookin’ Up, the impassioned Fallen For You, and then we get the scenic Let It Burn and the playfully flirty Bad Reputation.

Along next is the piano-hued balladry of Goin’ Down Slow and the out on the range essence within Just About Enough, and they are in turn backed by the groove-laden Get Busy, the mid-tempo Lately, the album rounding out on his take on the Beatles’ Why Don’t We Do It In the Road?, closing on the ardent yearn that drives My Sisters Guitar.

All tracks on Strong are penned by Albert Cummings (BMI), with exceptions for “Emmylou” and “Lately,” co-written with Tom Hambridge, and “Why Don’t We Do it in the Road?” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. All songs are published by Ivy Music Company (BMI).

Albert Cummings @ Facebook

Title - The Gal That Got Away: The Best of Jack Wood
Artist - Jack Wood

Jack Wood has long been a popular attraction in the Southern California jazz scene. His warm voice and tasteful swinging style have won over many fans due to his classy treatments of classics from the Great American Songbook.

The Gal That Got Away consists of some of Wood’s finest recordings. On several of the numbers he is featured with the Salt Lake City Jazz Orchestra (performing Tom Garvin arrangements) while other selections have him singing swingers and ballads with a combo.

At various times his supporting cast includes altoist Greg Floor, flugelhornist Buddy Childers, guitarists Ron Anthony and Doug MacDonald, and pianist Tom Ranier among others.

1. The Gypsy In My Soul
2. The Gal That Got Away
3. I Will Wait For You
4. Secret Love
5. A Foggy Day
6. The Shadow Of Your Smile
7. Come Rain Or Come Shine
8. A Day In The Life Of A Fool
9. One For My Baby
10. Someone To Watch Over Me

On this dutifully sculpted new recording, Wood opens his set with the low slung finger-snapper The Gypsy In My Soul and the languishing The Gal That Got Away (actually made famous by Judy Garland in A Star Is Born as “The Man That Got Away”), and then we get the pure dreamy gossamer of Michel Legrand’s I Will Wait For You, the playfully flirty Secret Love and the dutiful, rising piano balladry of A Foggy Day.

Next up is the delicately hued The Shadow Of Your Smile and the soulful Come Rain Or Come Shine, and they are in turn backed by the gentle swirls and twirls within A Day In The Life Of A Fool, the album rounding out on the pleasing One For My Baby (inclusive of the late jazz trumpeter, composer and ensemble leader Buddy Childers), coming to a close on the delightful Someone To Watch Over Me.

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Title - Love Music
Artist - Yeol Eum Son & Svetlin Roussev

Following her lyrical and witty complete recording of Mozart’s Keyboard Sonatas, issued by naïve in March 2023, Yeol Eum Son invites Svetlin Roussev to join her in the enticingly subtle harmonic intricacies of Germanic post-Romanticism entitled Love Music.

For their second recital as a duo, the Bulgarian violinist and the Korean pianist follow the course taken by works written over a period of slightly more than half a century by composers or famous performers upon whom Richard Wagner exercised crucial influence.

They take on almost every genre - cinema, opera, chamber music, transcription - treating it in the lyrical, large-scale manner of the Bayreuth master.

During their unexpected, fascinating journey, Svetlin Roussev and Yeol Eum Son chart a variety of pathways, from Waxman to Strauss.

1. Waxman, F: Tristan and Isolde Fantasia
2. Korngold: Glück, das mir verbleib Marietta’s Lied (from Die Tote Stadt)
3. Korngold: Much Ado About Nothing, Op. 11: suite for violin (or cello) & piano
4. Kreisler: Alt-Wiener Tanzweisen
5. Strauss, R: Violin Sonata in E flat major, Op. 18
6. Wagner: Träume (No. 5 from Wesendonck-Lieder)

Featuring music by Waxman, Korngold, Kreisler, Richard Strauss and Wagner, their delightfully impassioned new recording opens the delicate gossamer of Moderately Slow (from Franz Waxman’s Tristan and Isolde Fantasia) and then backs that up with a pair from Erich Wolfgang Korngold: the languishing beauty found within Langsam (Version for Violin and Piano) from Glück, das mir verbleib Marietta’s Lied (from Die Tote Stadt) and the quartet from Much Ado About Nothing, Op. 11: suite for violin (or cello) & piano - the stirring Maiden in the Bridal Chamber, the more strident affair of Dogberry and Verges. March of the Watch, the sheer elegance of Scene in the Garden, culminating on the playfully perky Masquerade. Hornpipe.

Their take on almost every genre – cinema, opera, chamber music, transcription - continues onward with a trio from Fritz Kreisler’s Alt-Wiener Tanzweisen, the veritably cinematic swirls and twirls within Liebesfreud, Allegro, the congenial fare of Liebesleid, Tempo di Landler, and finally we get brought forth the nurtured elegance of Schön Rosmarin, Grazioso.

However, the keystone of the program is unarguably the magnificent Sonata for Violin and Piano that Richard Strauss composed in 1887, Violin Sonata in E flat major, Op. 18, whose trio we listen to now are the intricately woven Allegro, ma non troppo, the aching yearn of Improvisation, Andante cantabile and the sombre fare, at first, yet later flourishing notes that reside within Finale: Andante Allegro, the collection closing on Richard Wagner’s emphatic-hued Träume (No. 5 from Wesendonck-Lieder).

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Title - Schubert
Artist - Anja Linder

By virtue of her exceptional destiny and her radiant personality, Anja Linder has become one of the most popular and charismatic harpists of her generation. Born into a family of artists, Anja Linder began playing the harp at the Strasbourg Conservatoire. Her encounters with Marie- Claire Jamet and Marielle Nordmann, as well as her literary studies (she obtained a degree in modern literature), were decisive in her career choice.

Alongside the soprano Nathalie Gaude-froy, she won first prize for chamber music at the Arles International Chamber Music Compe- tition in 1999. In 2001, a serious accident forced her to give up her instrument. This event inspired engineers Jean-Marie Panterne and Marc Lamoureux to create a computer-controlled electro-pneumatic harp, the Anjamatic.

This new instrument, which simplifies the use of pedals and opens up new musical possibilities, was taught by Anja at the Strasbourg Conservatoire from 2013 to 2020 and is now being taught in masterclasses throughout Europe.

The prestigious Banque Populaire Foundation selected her as one of its prize-winners in 2010. Passionate about words and music, Anja conceived a musical reading of Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

With the author’s exceptional permission, this project was released by Klarthe Records in 2015 and a year later, President François Hollande awarded her the Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Mérite.

Anja Linder’s new album, in collaboration with cellist Julie Sévilla-Fraysse and violinist Laurent Korcia, is called Schubert and is now available. This album, a tribute to Schubert as its name suggests, presents a selection of pieces that have accompanied the harpist over the years, each resonating in its own way in the artist’s career and life.

1. Schubert: So lasst mich scheinen, D877 No. 3
2. Schubert: Sonata in A minor Arpeggione, D821
3. Schubert: Nachtstück, D672 (Mayrhofer)
4. Schubert: Piano Trio No. 2 in E flat major, D929 - 2nd movement

This dutifully impassioned recording opens on the ornate gossamer of Schubert: So lasst mich scheinen, D877 No. 3 and then brings us the three part Schubert: Sonata in A minor Arpeggione, D821: which first delivers the preciseness of Allegro moderato, the delicate Adagio, and the finery of Allegretto, and they are backed seamlessly by the sheer elegance of Schubert: Nachtstück, D672 (Mayrhofer), closing out on the near ten minute, gracefully tender orchestrations that bring Schubert: Piano Trio No. 2 in E flat major, D929 - 2nd movement forth.

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Anja Linder @ Instagram

Title - PSA
Artist - PSA

In the pulsating heart of the Boston jazz scene, a musical alchemy transpires whenever Pritesh Walia’s guitar, Sharik Hasan’s keys/organ/synths, and Avery Logan’s drumsticks collide.

The result? A spellbinding trio, known collectively as PSA, poised to redefine the boundaries of the traditional organ trio.

The genesis of this musical union reads like a serendipitous tale — Walia, Hasan and Logan naturally gravitated towards each other, driven by an insatiable passion for jazz and a shared ambition to breathe new life into the classic organ trio format.

Their collaborative process is the stuff of legend. Almost daily, one of them would bring a musical fragment to the table, a tantalizing kernel of inspiration. What ensued was a collective workshop where each member contributed his unique perspective, refining and sculpting the music until it resonated with the collective essence of PSA. It’s this organic, iterative approach that sets PSA apart, allowing their music to organically evolve into a genre-defying sonic experience.

In anticipation of their self-titled debut album PSA, available Feb 23rd, 2024, PSA beckons listeners into a realm where tradition and innovation dance in harmonious tandem. Far more than a mere collection of tracks, this album is a manifesto — a bold declaration of intent to contemporize the organ trio while paying a respectful homage to its roots.

1. Circle Around
2. Cliff Dunes
3. Dogwood
4. Don’t Look Down
5. Hymn
6. Onward
7. Troxy Fot

Redefining the organ trio with a fusion of classic swing, groove, and jazz, the new recording opens on the frenetically-charged Circle Around and the free-flowing melodies within Cliff Dunes and the lounge-lite Dogwood.

This modernist perspective on the organ trio continues onward with the furtively playful Don’t Look Down, the organ-hued Hymn, and then rounds out with the flirtatious Onward, closing on the organically-cultured Troxy Fot.

PSA @ YouTube

Title - Born to Get Down/Doin’ It to the Bone/Shine On
Artist - Muscle Shoals Horns

The legendary Muscle Shoals Horns played with some of the biggest artists of all time including James Brown, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Robert Palmer, Elton John and Paul McCartney to name but a few.

Furthermore, Muscle Shoals Horns were inducted into Nashville’s Musicians Hall Of Fame And Museum in 2019.

Summing up the group’s achievements and pinpointing the reason for their success, Ronnie Eades highlighted the quartet’s strength as a unit, their camaraderie, and their “one-for- all, all-for-one” ethos. “We were a team, a well-oiled machine,” he stated with perceptible pride. “We worked together, ate together, slept together, did everything together. We knew each other’s thoughts… We did well and really had a good run.”Born to Get Down/Doin’ It to the Bone/Shine On 2CD includes sleeve notes by Charles Waring who writes for MOJO, Record Collector and uDiscover Music.

If you have never heard these albums before, trust me when I say that you are in for a real treat.

Disc One: “Born To Get Down”
1. Open Up Your Heart
2. Break Down
3. Where I’m Coming From
4. Hustle To The Music
5. Who’s Gonna Love You
6. Bump De Bump Yo Boodie
7. Born To Get Down (Born To Mess Around)
8. Get It Up
9. Give It To Me
10. Bump De Bump Yo Boodie (7″ Version) [Bonus Track]
11. Where I’m Coming From (7″ Version) [Bonus Track]
12. Born To Get Down (Born To Mess Around) (7” Version)[Bonus Track]

“Doin’ It To The Bone”
13. Dance To The Music
14. Addicted To Your Love
15. I Just Wanna Turn You On
16. A Love For You [And A Love For Me]
17. What’s Goin’ Down
18. Sexual Revolution
19. Can’t Break The Habit

The first disc features “Born To Get Down” which was their debut album for Bang Records. Produced by Barry Beckett and backed by the cream of the Muscle Shoals studio talent, this set was a complete surprise to come out in the day.

Who would have expected a horn-based outfit to debut with so much enthusiasm. The album was simply terrific and they avoided the dreaded trap of disco banality to perfection.

Containing the fervent joy of Break Down and the magnificently soulful Where I’m Coming From, the Swampers also added the aptly-named Hustle To The Music, the moody R&B of Who’s Gonna Love You, and one of my own personal favorites, the ode to an amazing era of music within Bump De Bump Yo Boodie.

After all that we next get “Doin’ It To The Bone” which was the Muscle Shoals Horns’ second album for Arlola Records. The members of Muscle Shoals Horns were Harrison Calloway (trumpet), Harvey Thompson (saxophone, flute), Charles Rose (trombone), Ronnie Eades (baritone saxophone).

The Muscle Shoals sound in the 1960’s and 1970’s became legendary hard southern soul and hard southern funk. Very raw and bluesy, whereas in Detroit or in Philly, soul artists were using lavish orchestration and string sections back then.

The Muscle Shoals Horns didn’t record a lot of albums of their own, but they backed a lot of major soul and rock artists and the best of the best from this album include the diligently hued Addicted To Your Love, the soul ballad Love For You [And A Love For Me], and both the R&B hipsway of What’s Goin’ Down and the invigorating Sexual Revolution.

Disc Two: “Doin’ It To The Bone” (Continued)
1. Keep On Playin’ That Funky Music
2. Doin’ It To The Bone
3. Beware Of The Rip-Off
4. I Just Wanna Turn You On (12” Version) [Bonus Track]

“Shine On”
5. Celebrate, Recreate, Participate
6. Don’t Bust Yo’ Bubbles
7. She Was Once My Woman
8. Get Down Tonight
9. We Can Work It Out
10. Shine On
11. Shoalin’ (Funky N’ Half-Hip)
12. More Than Ever Now
13. If You Don’t Want My Lovin’ (Give It Back)

The second disc continues onward with more of “Doin’ It To The Bone” and, in particular, the soulful funk of Keep On Playin’ That Funky Music and a brilliant, fresh 12” version of I Just Wanna Turn You On.

And then comes the third album “Shine On” which was also the Muscle Shoals Horns’ last album for Monument Records. Shine On contains the musical highlights such as Celebrate, Recreate, Participate, Don’t Bust Yo’ Bubbles and She Was Once My Woman.

Delicious horn arrangements are what grabs the listener instantly throughout the recording, and becomes the kind of production you would never expect in 1983, a year dominated by the electro feel. This surprising fusion of the nasty JB’s with the smooth Shakatak is a real treat to the hardcore lovers of Soul Music.

Muscle Shoals Horn were smoothly earthy and jazzy but cleverly brings out you wild side by blowing your party head off with contemporary killer grooves like the aforementioned Don’t Bust Yo’ Bubbles.

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Title - We Need The Wind
Artist - Brian Scarborough

Brian Scarborough is a standout trombonist who has made a mark for himself both as a performer and composer. With music described as “…simultaneously stimulating and accessible, refreshingly modern and rooted in tradition,” (Chicago Jazz Magazine), Scarborough continues his trend of blending tradition with innovation as he presents his second album as a bandleader, We Need The Wind.

Lauded by trombone legend Michael Dease as a recording that “beautifully capture[s]… Scarborough’s attractive tone and vibrant melodic playing,” We Need The Wind once more showcases the brilliantly organic melodies that Scarborough is known for, yet steps boldly into an exploration of new colors and harmonies.

Conceptually inspired by Scarborough’s own restorative healing process as an artist following the COVID-era pandemic, We Need The Wind paradoxically stands as both deeply introspective yet universally appealing.

1. Broken
2. 3E
3. We Need The Wind
4. The Long Road Back
5. Strange Bird
6. One Of Time
7. Central Standard Time
8. Sevens
9. The Way It’s Supposed To Be

The album opens on the quietly furtive, stealthy Broken and then brings us the upbeat 3E, before bringing us the laid back We Need The Wind and the sumptuous The Long Road Back.

Along next is the groove-laden, upright bass-led Strange Bird and the languishing One Of Time and they are in turn backed by the indelible Central Standard Time, rounding out on the late night lounge vibe of Sevens, closing on the flirtatiously upbeat The Way It’s Supposed To Be.

Autobiographical in concept, We Need The Wind is an emotive, honest album that wears its composer’s heart on its sleeve. Steeped in the earnest feelings Scarborough experienced at the point each composition was created, the album – and its intentional track placement – allows a listener to step into the shoes of the artist as he wrestles with the world changing, begins to understand and hope again, and takes steps to grow ever higher through the experience that had once felt shattering.

“Inspired by experiences and emotions felt during the global pandemic, and reflecting upon the state of society and the world at large, this project reflects on my experiences during this deeply troubling time,” Scarborough says. “We Need The Wind documents my journey through this experience and the healing process, personally and artistically.”