Clem Leek – America (2017)

FrontCover1.jpgClem Leek is a musician, composer and sound artist based in the UK. He creates modern classical ambient music which has been released on several independent labels.

Clem’s works are subtle and dreamlike, using pianos, guitars, ethereal pads, field recordings, and other solo instruments.

There always been something quite personal in the music of Clem Leek. Trained as a pianist from a young age and now a developed into a composer, sound artist, sound designer, and multi-instrumentalist, he has drawn heavily on his surroundings and life experiences from the very start; consider the misty, overcast reflections of growing up in England on Holly Lane (2010) and the intimate piano & guitar based sketches of Lifenotes (2011) and Rest (2013). The past year has apparently been on one of significant change for Leek and this is reflected in his latest opus and third studio album entitled America.

“America is a reflection of Clem’s personal transition from Europe to the U.S. Each track refers to new experiences, both information and sensory. Moving from the countryside to the city brought about a plethora of new friends, landscapes and routines and this is reflected in the new styles, instruments and techniques that have bled into the album. “

Clem Leek01.jpg

One thing that has not changed a great deal, however, is Leek’s penchant for concise forms. He is a masterful musical sketch artist who captivates here with a dozen colorful vignettes of an expansive, filmic quality that belies their diminutive length. Leek can express more in two minutes than many artists can in ten as he uses lyrical piano lines and layers of strings, voice, & electronics to convey wide-eyed wonder and the willing embrace of both personal change & new opportunities so well symbolized by Chris Keenan’s striking rural highway scene gracing the album’s cover. This is one musical road trip you won’t want to miss.

There is genuine enthusiasm and empathy in these songs – they acknowledge and move through feelings and moods, without dwelling (as evidenced by shorter song lengths, for one). The count-in on “Progress” is sheer brilliance. (by bjorns)

Clem Leek02

Personnel:
Clem Leek (all instruments)

Clem Leek03

Tracklist:
01. Change 1.16
02. Challenger 2.55
03. Dorsay 2.00
04. Skyscraping 2.23
05. Streets 1.54
06. Snow Tale #5 1.23
07. New Day 3.02
08. The Breeze 3.35
09. What Happens Next? 2.18
10. City Birds 2.17
11. Progress 3.22
12. Endeavour 2.40

Music composed by Clem Leek

MC1

*
**

Savoy Brown – Witchy Feelin’ (2017)

FrontCover1.jpgKim Simmonds founded Savoy Brown in October 1965. At 69 he still is Savoy Brown as the band is pretty much Kim Simmonds on guitar and vocals and whoever he has a back-line. Here we have him with Pat DeSalvo on bass and Garnet Grimm on drums doing a great job backing up this 69 year old British master of the blues guitar.

“Why Did You Hoodoo Me” is a nice an above mid-tempo blues rocker where Simmonds demonstrates his prowess on guitar for us. He questions why he’s been cursed by his woman in this slick production. Kim switches things up with ”Livin’ On The Bayou” with a little creole inspired stuff. A Cajun ballad with some pretty and somewhat ethereal guitar. “I Can’t Stop the Blues” has Simmonds growling out the lyrics in a song about loneliness. The guitar work is what this one’s all about- steady handed and cool. The title cut is up next, a cool slow blues with nice guitar picking, and a ghostly bass line and sound. “Guitar Slinger” picks up the tempo a little and gets into what the title says- guitar slinging. “Vintage Man” shuffles and shines nicely as Kin sings about being a vintage sort of guy in Levis, blue suede shoes and listening to his record player as he listens to and plays Jimmy Reed.

The slide comes out for “Standing In A Doorway.” Slow blues with voice and slide in a melancholy repartee, nicely done. “Memphis Blues” gives us a driving beat and some big guitar and some more slide, but this time it’s greasy and slick. “Can’t Find Paradise” is a big, blues rock anthem sort of piece with some more slide work.

SavoyBrown01

Simmonds guitar cries and wails in “Thunder, Lightning and Rain.” It’s a big cut with lots of guitar that goes on for nearly 8 minutes of 6 string soling to a steady bass and drum beat. The CD closes to “Close to Midnight,” a sultry and thoughtful instrumental of Simmonds showing us why he’s highly regard as a guitar man.

If you love Savoy Brown and Kim Simmonds then you’ll be spinning this CD a lot because this is right up your alley. Simmonds shows us he’s still got what it takes. The guitar is not overdone, but it’s big and impressively done. It’s a really enjoyable set of new songs all penned by Kim. (Steve Jones)

BackCover1.jpg

Personnel:
Garnet Grimm (drums)
Pat DeSalvo (bass)
Kim Simmonds (guitar, vocals)

Inlet1

Tracklist:
01. Why Did You Hoodoo Me 5:15
02. Livin’ On The Bayou 6.01
03. I Can’t Stop The Blues 5.27
04. Witchy Feelin’ 4.38
05. Guitar Slinger 3.53
06. Vintage Man 3.08
07. Standing In A Doorway 5.41
08. Memphis Blues 4.14
09. Can’t Find Paradise 4.30
10. Thunder, Lighting & Rain 7.56
11. Close To Midnight 4.08

All songs written by Kim Simmonds

CD1.jpg

*
**

More from Savoy Brown:

More.jpg

Don Airey – One Of A Kind (2018)

FrontCover1.jpgDonald Smith Airey (born 21 June 1948) is an English keyboardist who has been the keyboardist in the rock band Deep Purple since 2002, after the retirement of Jon Lord. He has had a long and productive career, playing with such acts as Gary Moore, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Whitesnake, Saxon, Wishbone Ash, Steve Vai, Colosseum II, Ten, Sinner, Michael Schenker, Rainbow, Empire, Thin Lizzy, Brian May, Divlje jagode and Living Loud. He has also worked with Andrew Lloyd Webber. (by wikipedia)

Don Airey can be considered rock royalty and in a quiet sort of way, and in down time from his Purple “day job”, finds the time to release consistently excellent solo albums. This is the successor to 2014′s excellent ‘Keyed Up’.

Like that album it’s as much a showcase for Airey’s fellow musicians most of whom are retained for this excursion. Vocalist Carl Sentance moonlighting from Nazareth and acquitting himself well away from McAfferty’s long shadow. And erstwhile Snakecharmer guitar slinger Simon McBride also features. McBride shines on the Gary Moore-esque ‘Remember To Call’ and makes a particularly good fist of ‘Still Got The Blues’ but more of that later.

Don Airey01

The tunes reflect Airey’s musical inclinations, and a career playing with such alumni as Ritchie Blackmore and Ozzy. There’s an uptempo Purple vibe on this offering, demonstrated on pieces like ‘Respect’ and ‘Stay The Night’. But there’s also some experimentation, such as the almost metal ‘Victim Of Pain’ and the frenetic ‘Lost Boys’. Together with a track like ‘Children Of the Sun’ Airey shows what Purple might be like if they fused with Judas Priest.

Standouts include the grind of ‘All Out Of Line’ and the deftly orchestrated title track. ‘Everytime I See Your Face’ might hint at ‘The Long & Winding Road’ but is nevertheless a good vehicle for Sentance’s softer underbelly. ‘Need You So Bad’ is another big ballad but spiced with McBride’s muscular riffage and Airey’s fluent keyboard work whilst ‘Running Free’ would make a radio-friendly single.

But if you are also partial to a bit of hairy Hammond (and some spicy synth) ‘One Of A Kind’ should tick your box. The album is padded out with a handful of bonus tracks (including Purple and Rainbow covers) recorded in Germany in 2017. This is where McBride gets to pay tribute to one of his great influences, the great Gary Moore with whom Airey also collaborated.

Don Airey02

On balance, perhaps not quite as diverse as ‘Keyed Up’ but in that respect certainly an album to excite latter-day Purple fans and surely one that will precipitate an outing if Don plays dates in his own right in the future. (by David Randall)

And the second CD is a bonus disc (recorded live at the Fabrik, Hamburg, 2017), including 4 classic Rock tunes

BackCover1.jpgPersonnel:
Don Airey (keyboards)
Laurence Cottle (bass)
Jon Finnigan (drums, percussion)
Simon McBride (guitar)
Carl Sentance (vocals)
+
Steve Bentley-Klein (strings)

Booklet04A.jpg

Tracklist:

CD 1:
01. Respect (Sentance/Airey/McBride) 4.38
02. All Out Of Line (Sentance/Airey/McBride) 4.32
03. One Of A Kind (Sentance/Airey/McBride) 5.11
04. Every Time I See Your Face (Sentance/Airey) 3.21
05. Victim Of Pain (Sentance/Airey/McBride) 5.23
06. Running Free (Sentance/Airey) 4.50
07. Lost Boys (Sentance/Airey) 4.51
08. Want You So Bad (Sentance/Airey/McBride) 4.47
09. Children Of The Sun (Sentance/Airey) 4.02
10. Remember To Call (Airey/McBride) 3.42
11. Stay The Night (Sentance/Airey/Finnigan) 4.19

CD 2:
01. Pictures Of Home (Gillan/Paice/Lord/Blackmore/Glover) 5.51
02. Since You’ve Been Gone (Ballard) 3.41
03. I Surrender (Ballard) 4.13
04. Still Got The Blues (Moore) 6.36

CDs

*
**

Inlet02A

Daigo Hanada – Ichiru (2017)

FrontCover1.jpgA very discreet musician, Daigo Hanada is a young Tokyo-based pianist and composer sharing his time between his native Japan and Berlin. Apart from two Nils Frahm reworks and a one track contribution (“Again”) to the Piano Cloud Series – Volume One compilation released last year on the 1631 Recordings, Daigo Hanada has spent a lot of time maturing and perfecting his art away from the public eye. But when the first notes of “Silhouette” start playing, there is little doubt that Daigo Hanada is a very talented musician. His full-length solo début album Ichiru was released on 27 February 2017 last on the Montréal-based label Moderna Records.

“Equipped with only an upright piano, a pair of microphones and his two hands” read the official press release, “Hanada worked for the better part of a year on these pieces in bringing them to their final form”. As a result, Ichiru is a stripped-down and concise recording, going straight to the essential core of the compositions with the carefully placed microphones scrupulously capturing the live mechanics of the piano.

“Equipped with only an upright piano, a pair of microphones and his two hands” read the official press release, “Hanada worked for the better part of a year on these pieces in bringing them to their final form”. As a result, Ichiru is a stripped-down and concise recording, going straight to the essential core of the compositions with the carefully placed microphones scrupulously capturing the live mechanics of the piano.

Daigo Hanada.jpg

“It was raining heavily but a very quiet day – I was just sitting by the window and looking outside, watching the rain fall continuously but randomly. That’s when I got this idea of falling ambient sound in the back”.

The last two tracks on the album, both much longer than the rest, draw the music towards a more electro-acoustic and ambient texture with their layering and slightly saturated meandering notes.

Almost coming out of the blue, Daigo Hanada’s Ichiru is a subtle, very expressive and captivating début. (Guillaume, spellbindingmusic.com)

BackCover

Personnel:
Daigo Hanada (piano)

Booklet.jpg

Tracklist:
01. Silhouette 2.10
02.Butterfly 2.07
03. Weak Me 2.58
04. Fragment I 2.08
05. Portrait 0.57
06. Pfau 2.07
07. Ichiru 2.20
08. Hue 3.17
09. Fragment II 2.15
10. Solitude 2.46
11. And This Is How It Ends 4.09
12. Close 7.51

Music composed by Daigo Hanada

CD

*
**

Daigo Hanada2

 

Mavis Staples – If All I Was Was Black (2017)

FrontCover1.jpgIf All I Was Was Black is the thirteenth studio album by American R&B, soul and gospel singer Mavis Staples. It was released on November 17, 2017, by ANTI- Records. The album was written and produced by Jeff Tweedy.

The album’s announced on September 11, 2017. The album consists of 11 songs, all of which were written by Jeff Tweedy. Staples said she hoped the album will “bring us all together as a people. That’s what I hope to do. You can’t stop me. You can’t break me. I’m too loving. These songs are going to change the world.” Tweedy described the message of the album, saying, “I’ve always thought of art as a political statement in and of itself—that it was enough to be on the side of creation and not destruction. But there is something that feels complicit at this moment in time about not facing what is happening in this country head on.”

The lead single, “If All I Was Was Black”, was released on September 11, 2017, along with the album’s pre-order. “Little Bit” was released as the second single from the album on October 12, 2017. The third single, “Build a Bridge”, was released on November 7, 2017. “Ain’t No Doubt About It” was released as the fourth and final single on November 14, 2017. A music video for “If All I Was Was Black” was released on February 12, 2018.

MavisStaples01.jpg

The year 2017 has been full of political unrest and growing racial division in the United States, but for good or ill, Mavis Staples has seen days like these before. As a teenager, she was a member of the Staple Singers, who in their days as a gospel group were close friends and allies with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the struggle for civil rights was at its peak. They also experienced more than their share of violence and hostility as an African-American family band touring in the Deep South in the late ’50s and early ’60s. Mavis Staples was too strong to let hatred and narrow-mindedness break her when she was a twenty-something, and at the age of 78, she still isn’t about to back down. Released in 2017, If All I Was Was Black finds Staples once again collaborating with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, who produced the sessions and wrote the bulk of the songs, and while the lyrics tend not to focus on the specifics of the chaos that’s marked the time it was made, it’s definitely an album intended to speak to troubled times.

MavisStaples02.jpg

As a woman of deep spiritual beliefs, Staples is the ideal vehicle for these songs, which often deal with hatred, inequality, and indifference while making clear that love and understanding have the capacity to heal America’s wounded spirit. Staples’ vocal style here is informed by equal parts vintage gospel and classic soul, and together they fill these messages with strength, compassion, and a much-needed sense of hope. The lyrics sometimes reflect Tweedy’s usual tropes as a writer, but Staples gives them a musical and emotional force that sets them apart.

MavisStaples03.jpg

Her voice is in splendid shape for a septuagenarian, still supple and able to navigate the twists of the melodies while sailing confidently over the arrangements that fuse indie rock with the feel of ’70s soul. And if this set of songs is a bit short on specific answers to our problems, well, “We Shall Overcome” never explained how that would happen either. What’s most special about If All I Was Was Black is the way Staples and her collaborators confront the challenges of a distraught world while filling the listener with the belief that all is not lost, that we can get past bad times and build a better future if we try. Quite simply, this is an album America needs. (by Mark Deming)

BookletBackCover1.jpg

Personnel:
Stephen Hodges (drums, percussion)
Rick Holmstrom (guitar)
Glenn Kotche (percussion)
Scott Ligon (keyboards, clavinet, guitar)
Mavis Staples (vocals)
Jeff Tweedy (guitar, bass, percussion, vocals)
Spencer Tweedy (drums, percussion)
Jeff Turnes (bass)
+
background vocals:
Donny Gerrard – Kelly Hogan – Akenya

BackCover1.jpg
Tracklist:
01. Little Bit (Tweedy) 3.51
02. If All I Was Was Black (Tweedy/Staples 3.55
03. Who Told You That (Tweedy) 2:48
04. Ain’t No Doubt About It (featuring Jeff Tweedy) Tweedy 3:18
05. Peaceful Dream (Tweedy) 3.20
06. No Time For Crying (Tweedy/Staples) 4.36
07. Build A Bridge (Tweedy) 3.37
08. We Go High (Tweedy/Staples) 3.26
09. Try Harder (Tweedy) 3.51
10. All Over Again (Tweedy) 1.54

CD1.jpg

*
**

Sticker.jpg

MavisStaples04

Ill Considered – Ill Considered 3 (2017)

FrontCover1.jpgIll considered are a band comprising four musicians interacting with each other to create freely improvised music, based loosely around simple pre-written themes or composed on the spot. Deep grooves and plaintive melodies ranging from whispered chants to monstrous climaxes, the group react to the mood of the audience and the sonics of the room to create music that is unique to the moment. (Press release)

The third album from Ill Considered has been a revelatory part of the journey for its members. While the first album was completely improvised in a two hour session involving all four musicians and no pre-written tunes, the second album was a live gig recorded at The Crypt Jazz Club, London, involving mainly compositions ( taken from the first album, as well as new tunes and some from Wildflower (the other band in which Leon Brichard and Idris Rahman collaborate with drummer Tom Skinner). The creation of Ill Considered 3 was quite different again.
A session was booked at the same studio in which Ill Considered’s first album was created, and the four musicians met (this time with Satin Singh on percussion) with a view to recording some pre-written melodies as well as some fresh, improvised material.
The band soon realised that although the pre-written tunes were to some degree working nicely, there was no comparison with the vibe, energy, spontaneity and overall freedom of the fully improvised material.

Ill Considered03.jpg

There is a musical freedom that this particular combination of musicians needs to express – throwing caution to the wind they create soundscapes, atmospheres, dreamy groove based journeys immediately in the moment, held together by deeply felt musical interaction and the interspersion of hooky bass lines and melodies. Using simple but effective motifs, the band again manage to build from delicate, intimate moments of emotion to screaming climaxes and drum and bass inspired head-bangers.
Meditative and spiritual in essence, there are a wide range of textures in this album:
Djinn has an ethereal, mystical calm about it, whilst the bass harmonics and minimal percussion of Nada Brahma give an almost Gamelan-like texture. Delusion and Meditation have a head-nodding, deep and dirty jazz-funk-inspired restless energy punctuated by abstract melodic hooks that stay with you long after you’ve finished listening.
Along with the improvised band tracks, there are three short solo tracks from bass, drums and sax – again created in the spirit of freedom. (hhv.de)

In other words: One of the most exciting new jazz group we have !

Ill Considered01.jpg

Personnel:
Leon Brichard (bass)
Idris Rahman (saxophone)
Emre Ramazanoglu (drums)
Satin Singh (percussion)

BackCover1.jpg

Tracklist:
01. Djinn (Brichard/Rahman/Ramazanoglu/Singh) 3.29
02. Incantation (Brichard/Rahman/Ramazanoglu/Singh) 5.35
03. Nada Brahma (Brichard/Rahman/Ramazanoglu/Singh) 6.38
04. Retreat (Brichard) 1.28
05. Scatter (Ramazanoglu) 1.15
06. Delusion (Brichard/Rahman/Ramazanoglu/Singh) 7.28
07. Meditation (Brichard/Rahman/Ramazanoglu/Singh) 6.7
08. Perplexity (Rahman) 1.06

LabelA1.jpg

*
**

Ill Considered02.jpg

 

Laura Cannell – Hunter Huntress Hawker (2017)

FrontCover1.jpgOn the dark edges of folk music lingers Laura Cannell, a violinist and recorder player who uses traditional instruments to evoke unearthly, ageless narratives. Her fourth album is a series of improvisations recorded in a church on the crumbling coast of Covehithe in Suffolk, roaring into life under her fiddle’s curved, baroque bow. This technique involves the four strings being played simultaneously and the effect is aggressive, unsettling, but also primordially beautiful, the harmonies of the drones often clashing cruelly before resolving themselves. Many moments are also unapologetically, uncompromisingly difficult. The harsh, stabbing playing in Blacksmith is like a metalworker’s studio in sound, while Air Splinters Through feels freshly torn from a horror soundtrack. It’s not a record for early mornings. But while this music feels ancient, it also feels brutally alive, as if a giant was waking from long slumbers, about to make its way in the world. (Jude Rogers)

The musical explorations of British fiddler and composer Laura Cannell travel between early music, folk traditions, and earthy avant-garde improvisations. A native of Norfolk, Cannell studied at the London College of Music and University of East Anglia before founding the inventive folk ensemble Horses Brawl with guitarist Adrian Lever and cellist Jonathan Manton in 2003. Following the group’s 2005 debut, Manton departed and Horses Brawl remained a duo on subsequent releases like 2007’s Dindirin and 2011’s Wild Lament.

Laura Cannell01

For their fourth LP, 2012’s Ruminantia, multi-instrumentalist Andre Bosman replaced Lever, while later that year Cannell embarked on a new collaboration with experimental harpist Rhodri Davies. Setting down her fiddle, she focused on recorder and vocals for the duo’s Feathered Swing of the Raven.

Her solo debut, Quick Sparrows Over the Black Earth, was released in 2014 and featured ten live improvisations recorded in single takes in a Norfolk church. A haunting mix of overbowed fiddle compositions and eerie double recorder pieces, several of the album’s songs were later remixed on the Black Earth Remixes EP. Her follow-up, Beneath Swooping Talons, arrived a year later via the Front + Follow label, marking a rare release issued outside of her own Brawl Records imprint. Released in 2016, Simultaneous Flight Movement continued her evolution with more deeply nuanced performances that drew from her eclectic influences and ample imagination. In addition to her solo work, a new collaborative project emerged called Oscilanz, which featured Ralph Cumbers (Bass Clef) and drummer Charles Hayward (This Heat, About Group). Cannell’s fourth solo outing, Hunter Huntress Hawker, arrived in 2017. (Timothy Monger)

Laura Cannell03

Personnel:
Laura Cannell (violin)

Laura Cannell02

Tracklist:
01. Speckled and Dappled 0.42
02. Gathering 0.46
03. Blackwater 6.56
04. Persuasion 3.13
05. Awaken Waken 2.38
06. Breathe Now 0.56
07. Blacksmith 4.53
08. Air Splinters Through 0.57
09. Under Deep Leaves 0.37
10. Nordhalla 4.10
11. Lines Of Copper Gold 2.54

Music composed by Laura Cannell

MCA

*
**