Stills & Collins – Everybody Knows (2017)

FrontCover1Everybody Knows is an album by Stephen Stills and Judy Collins, credited to “Stills & Collins”. It marks the first collaboration between the former lovers and longtime friends. It was financed through a crowdfunding campaign on PledgeMusic.

From 1968 to 1969, Stills and Collins were romantically involved. Stills wrote several songs about Judy, most notably “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” and “Judy”. But despite Stills playing on several of Collins’ recordings, they never recorded as a duo or performed on stage together.[2] Stills said that he and Collins “…talked over the years and muddled through conversations about if we did make a record together…”, ultimately releasing Everybody Knows and going on tour. (by wikipedia)

50 years ago, singer-songwriter Stephen Stills met singer-songwriter Judy Collins, known for her piercing ocean blue eyes. Their tumultuous love affair would later be immortalized by Stills with his composition “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” performed by Crosby, Stills & Nash on their landmark debut. Both artists would go gone to shape modern music with visionary approaches, but Stills and Collins’ short fiery union remains a transformative era for the two artists.

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This summer, the two icons of folk will celebrate the golden anniversary of their formative time together. Their joint summer tour marks the first time ever Stills and Collins have been onstage together. For this once in a lifetime experience, the two music legends will pull from their rich catalogs, debut songs from their upcoming album, due out Summer of 2017, and share warm and intimate stories from their journeys and the1960s folk and Laurel Canyon scenes they helped build.

Stills and Collins met in 1967 and dated for two years. Stills wrote and demoed his legendary love song to Collins right after he left Buffalo Springfield, before he joined CSN. “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” is a five-section romantic epic brimming with heartfelt sincerity. The song has been ranked #418 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time Poll.

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​                                                                                                                                                                     Stills is known for his work with Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and his solo work. In addition to “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” Stills is best known for the hits “ For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield and “Love The One You’re With” from his solo debut, Stephen Stills. He’s a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and ranked #28 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s “The 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time.” He also has the added distinction of being the first artist to be inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame twice in one night (for his work with CSN and Buffalo Springfield). He recently released a sophomore album with The Rides, the blues-rock supergroup he formed in 2013 with Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Barry Goldberg, and is currently putting the finishing touches on his long-awaited, much-anticipated autobiography.

BIG SUR FOLK FESTIVAL, 1968

‘Stills & Collins’ will be released on the heels of a very busy period for Collins, who released an album in 2015 and 2016. 2015’s ‘Strangers Again’ earned Judy her highest Billboard 200 debut in almost 30 years, and 2016’s ‘Silver Skies Blue’ duets album with Ari Hest earned a GRAMMY nomination for Best Folk Album. She’s recently been described by the NY Times as the “ageless wild angel of pop,” appeared in HBO’s Girls, and released the book ‘Cravings: How I Conquered Food’ earlier this year. (press release)

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Judy Collins provided Stephen Stills with the inspiration for “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” a song he composed in 1969 as their relationship was coming to an end. Lovers no more, the two remained friends over the years and decided to strike up a musical partnership nearly 50 years later, releasing Everybody Knows in September of 2017. The album deliberately plays off their past, with the duo reviving songs from their individual albums — “Who Knows Where the Time Goes” from Collins; “So Begins the Task” from Stills — and selecting covers from their peers, including the Traveling Wilburys’ “Handle with Care,” Tim Hardin’s “Reason to Believe,” Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country,” and Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows,” which also lends its name to the album title. It’s a clean and crisp production, so much so that its transparency reveals the disparity between Collins’ sweet voice and Stills’ scraggly singing, a pairing that can sound as smooth as sandpaper. Nevertheless, there’s an inherent warmth to Everybody Knows. Stills and Collins have a gentle, easy chemistry and the studio-slick supporting performances provide a nice bed for a project that is less nostalgia than a reassuring reminder of the comfort of growing old together. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Personnel:
Tony Beard (drums)
Judy Collins (vocals, guitar)
Kevin McCormick (bass)
Stephen Stills (vocals, guitar)
Russell Walden (keyboards)
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Marvin Etzioni (mandolin, mandocello on 05.)

Tracklist:
01. Handle With Care (Dylan/Lynne/Petty/Harrison/Orbison) 3.43
02. So Begins The Task (Stills) 3.36
03. River Of Gold (Collins) 3.37
04. Judy (Stills) 4.03
05. Everybody Knows (Cohen/Robinson) 5.27
06. Houses (Collins) 4.37
07. Reason To Believe (Hardin) 2.57
08. Girl From The North Country (Dylan) 3.26
09. Who Knows Where The Time Goes (Denny) 5.41
10. Questions (Stills) 3.45

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Ambient Jazz Ensemble – A J E (2017)

FrontCover1Colin Nicholas Baldry is a British musician, a multi-instrumentalist.

He produced the music of documentaries and TV scores

And one of his other  projects is the Ambient Jazz Ensemble. (AJE):

The AJE ethos is one of instrumental storytelling, a cinematic journey. Tracks begin from a simple idea, a texture, an ambient soundscape that has room to grow, often blossoming into euphoric suites. At the heart of every track is a jazz ensemble, but the music owes much to electronica or orchestral influences rather than jazz, it is merely the palette of sounds & collaborative musicianship that carve the AJE musical landscape.

‘Breathe It In’ licensed to Cafe Del Mar for their ad campaign.

Ambient Jazz Ensemble is Colin Baldry’s commercial music project, his chilled, cinematic Lounge Music output for Here & Now Recordings very much inspired by his tv and film music composing and production. Colin Baldry has had a glorious career in music writing and producing for RCA, Geffen, Motown, Virgin & Capitol Records. He arranges and conducts The BBC Concert Orchestra & The City Of Prague Philharmonic and has been known to perform at parties for The Rolling Stones. (bandcamp.com)

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Quality through and through. The electronic is weaved in so expertly that it amazes and enhances the compositions beautifully. Summer Slips Away took me completely by surprise by the use of only Dm and C, and still the complexity, not to mention solo work including great vocals. Magnificent! (by Patrik Adolfsson)

This is just a sublime set of tracks! ‘Summer Slips Away’ paints a perfect picture of a late August day – as the sun dips below the horizon we look up into the warm evening sky – the day folds into night. That liminal moment of heart rending memories, where we know the past is behind us but we still somehow feel it’s pull. (by Lamplighter55)

In other words: A masterpiece of modern Jazz !

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Personnel:
Tom Allan (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Colin Baldry (keyboards, guitar, bass, pedal- steel-guitar)
Sam Baldry (percussion)
Rik Carter (organ)
Kit Downes (piano)
Donna Gardier (vocals)
Gary Hammond (percussion)
Chris Hill (bass)
Finn Peters (saxophone)
Ben Reynolds (drums)
Ollie Weston (saxophone, clarinet, flute)
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The Adderbury Ensemble (strings)

HornSectionTracklist:
01. Breathe It In 4.49
02 Agfacolor 5.17
03. Felt 5.10
04. Eleven Days 5.17
05. Summer Slips Away 4.42
06. The Secret 5.15
07. Engraved 4.56
08. See The Sky 5.22
09. My Final Scene 3.21
10. One Of The Best Days 6.11

Music composed by Colin Nicholas Baldry

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Simone Kopmajer – Good Old Times (2017)

FrontCover1A cool-toned Austrian jazz vocalist, Simone Kopmajer sings in flawless English. She had classical piano lessons starting at the age of eight and at 12 began playing saxophone. She performed in a youth big band and sang regularly in her father’s band as a teenager. At 17 she studied with Sheila Jordan, who encouraged her. Kopmajer also studied with Mark Murphy, Jay Clayton, and Michele Hendricks. Since earning a Masters from the University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Graz, Austria, Kopmajer has toured the Netherlands twice with the Euro Big Band, appeared at European jazz festivals, and recorded three CDs: Moonlight Serenade (for the Japanese Venus label), her best-known set Romance (for Zoho), and her privately released Taking a Chance on Love. Each CD emphasizes her own fresh versions of standards. (by Scott Yanow)

Jazz singer and pianist Simone Kopmajer performs songs composed by the likes of Mick Jagger & Keith Richards, the Brothers Gibb (The Bee Gees), Van Morrison, John Fogerty, Neil Young, and more. She brings a sensuous femininity to songs originally performed by Simone Kopmajer01iconic male musicians.

Born in Schladming, Austria, Simone Kopmajer already achieved at a young age what many musicians, bands and ensembles dream of – the launch of a successful international career. In the United States, Japan and Southeast Asia, the singer is a household name for lovers of demanding and refined jazz music. She fills large concert halls, performs as the headliner of major international festivals and has sold thousands of CDs worldwide. Her enthusiasm and love for music kindled at a very early age. She began to sing at eight, at twelve she sang in the band of her father, who was a music school director and a big jazz fan, and at sixteen she was accepted at the University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Graz, where she was immediately admitted due to her rare talent. In the year 2000 she debuted in the U.S. and left a lasting impression among quite a few experts and connoisseurs of contemporary jazz music. Simone Kopmajer’s role models were the great voices of jazz and American show business, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Jon Hendricks, although over time she detached herself more and more from these influences to find her own musical language.

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With her charisma and unbelievable talent, Simone Kopmajer manages to give her songs a very specific emotional, charming and in-depth note, which simply touches the people. Her sound is located somewhere between jazz, swing and tasteful pop. Although her music is very relaxed, flowing and elegant, it is also very playful and varied – these multilayered facets distinguished her early off from similar formats and made her music all the more interesting.

“Simone Kopmajer possesses a voice of incredible depth. Her approach to a song is understated sincerity.” – Jazz Review

“Simone is a real beauty inside and out – she sings and swings with remarkable clarity and she’s gonna be heard from.” – Mark Murphy

“She’s dynamite.” – Florida Today

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Personnel:
Jean-Paul Bourelly (guitar)
Margarethe Deppe (cello)
Simone Kopmajer (vocals)
Jamaaladeen Tacuma (bass)
Paul Urbanek (keyboards)
Reinhardt Winkler (drums)

Booklet

Tracklist:
01. Till There Was You (Willson) 3.56
02. Lost In Love (Russell) 4.20
03. Reality (Jordan/Cosma) 4.38
04. Heart Of Gold (Young) 3.06
05. That’s Why You Go Away (Richter) 3.22
06. First Of May (R.Gibb/B.Gibb/M.Gibb) 4.25
07. You’re My Everything (Whitfield/Grant/Penzabene) 5.08
08. Have I Told You Lately (Morrison) 5.39
09. Have You Ever Seen The Rain (Fogerty) 3.35
10. Lost Stars (Alexander/Lashley/Brisebois/Southwood) 4.20
11. The Morning Sun (Kopmajer/Urvanek) 4:23
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12. All You Need Is Love (Lennon/McCartney) 3.50
13. What´s Going On (Gaye) 4.46
14. Angie (Jagger/Richards) 4.26
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Tobias Meinhart – Silent Dreamer (2017)

FrontCover1Born in a small village in rural Bavaria, Tobias Meinhart has spent the last 15 years carving out a career for himself in the international jazz scene. Since his modest beginnings in Woerth, the tenor saxophonist has garnered acclaim in both Europe and the United States, earning a nomination for an ECHO award in 2016 and claiming residency at renowned New York City jazz venues such as The Blue Note, The Jazz Gallery, Jazz at Lincoln Center and Birdland.

Tobias began his musical life as a drummer before switching to the saxophone at age thirteen. He found inspiration in his grandfather, a classically trained bassist who began playing jazz in many of the U.S. Army clubs after World War Two. This early and intimate exposure to the music had a profound effect on young Tobias, leading him to hone his skills to a tee and win first prize in Germany’s Jugend Jazzt competition.

Tobias Meinhart04After touring throughout Germany with his quartet Fourscore, Tobias went to study at the Basel Music Academy in Switzerland, where the renowned European saxophonist Domenic Landolf served as his mentor. His teachers included Adrian Mears, Jorge Rossy and Wolfgang Muthspiel. He then went on to the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and the Bern University for the Arts to study with Ferdinand Povel and Andy Scherrer.

While still a student, Tobias caught the attention of critics and audiences throughout Europe. His band won first prize at the 2009 Startbahn Jazz Competition, as well as the “Audience Award for Best Group” at the 2009 Getxo Jazz Festival in Bilbao, Spain. Already endowed with more real world experience than many musicians have long after leaving school, Tobias graduated with honors and received a diploma in Jazz Performance and Music Education the same year that he won the prize at Getxo.

Shortly after Graduation, Tobias moved to New York City and quickly became immersed in the city’s highly competitive music scene. In 2012 he received his Master’s Degree from the Aaron Copland School of Music, where he studied with Antonio Hart, John Ellis and Seamus Blake. 2012 was also the year that Tobias returned to Getxo, now with his quintet, and earned not only first prize for the band’s outstanding performance, but also the “Best Soloist” award, and the opportunity to open for of his most forceful inspirations, Wayne Shorter.

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He has five albums out under his own name, with his newest effort, Berlin People, released in Spring 2019 on Sunnyside Records. It is a new band including guitar icon Kurt Rosenwinkel.

Aside from the numerous accolades already mentioned, Tobias has also toured Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Italy and Poland and opened for renowned saxophonist Chris Potter. He has been featured at many European jazz festivals including GetxoJazz and Elbjazz, and was part of a national Next Generation All-Star Orchestra. His 2015 album Natural Perception was praised by European and American critics alike, hailed by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as “jazz at it’s finest” and as “graceful and organic… subtle colors and delicate rhythms” in a five-star review in the New York City Jazz Record. In 2017, Tobias released Silent Dreamer which got a DOWNBEAT feature article describing him as “Not only a commanding saxophonist but also a keen composer”. (taken from his website)

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One of the best things about reviewing music is putting on a disc by an artist I’ve never heard of and being blown away by it. “Silent Dreamer,” by German saxophonist Tobias Meinhart, is one of the best CD’s I’ve heard this year. Meinhart had racked up a host of awards in Europe before moving to the United States to study with some of New York’s top saxophonists. He now resides in Brooklyn and works with a variety of groups. His fourth album, “Silent Dreamer,” is not only a vehicle for his bold tenor style, it’s also a showcase for his adventurous compositions and gorgeous arrangements.

The album is also brimming with superb solos and group playing by some familiar players, like trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and bassist Orlando Le Fleming, and some less familiar but equally powerful musicians. Yago Vazquez is excellent on piano, and Justin Carroll makes the synthesizer wail. Charles Altura crosses over into rock-fusion territory on every guitar solo, and Phil Donkin and Jesse Simpson are a formidable rhythm section on acoustic and electric bass and powerhouse drums. (by Ron Netsky)

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Personnel:
Justin Carroll (synthesizer)
Phil Donkin (bass)
Ingrid Jensen (trumpet, effects)
Tobias Meinhart (saxophone, electronics)
Jesse Simpson (drums)
Yago Vazquez (piano)
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Charles Altura (guitar bei 02., 03. + 04.)
Orlando LeFleming (bass bei 02., 03. + 06.)

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Tracklist:
01. Fighting For Fears (Meinhart) 5.38
02. Letter Of Intent (Vazquez) 4.54
03. Silent Dreamer (Meinhart) 5.51
04. Mariana’s Dream (Meinhart) 5.48
05. Can’t Say Enough (Simpson) 1.44
06. Equality (Meinhart) 6.08
07. Ghost Gardens (Meinhart) 6.54
08. Purple Space (Meinhart) 4.40
09. Simple Beauty (Meinhart) 6.11

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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. “

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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)

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Personnel:
Clem Leek (all instruments)

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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

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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.

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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)

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

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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

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More from Savoy Brown:

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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.

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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.

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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)
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Steve Bentley-Klein (strings)

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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

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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.

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“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)

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Personnel:
Daigo Hanada (piano)

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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)
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background vocals:
Donny Gerrard – Kelly Hogan – Akenya

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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

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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.

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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 !

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

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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

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