Mitch’s Travel: Santa Claus kicks off Christmas season Nov. 19 in Finland

santa_claus1According to a recent news release, Santa Claus will give his much-awaited speech in the annual Christmas opening in his official hometown Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland on November 19. Fans can join the festivities directly from their own sofa.

Christmas opening festivities traditionally start the Christmas season in Finland. Held in Santa’s official hometown Rovaniemi in the Arctic Circle, the celebration gathers people from around the world to live the magic of Christmas.

The festivities start with a Christmas carol concert. Jingle bells jingle and elves gambol around when it’s time for the beloved Santa Claus to step on stage and hold his annual speech. Elves have whispered that this year Santa would speak about children’s rights and the meaning of charity. The speech and warm atmosphere will surely get everyone into the spirit of Christmas.

As Santa cannot fly everyone to Lapland to celebrate this special time of the year with him, he has arranged a possibility for fans to take part in the festivities online. A live broadcast from Arctic Circle starts at 3:30 p.m. Finnish time (UTC +2) on the Visit Rovaniemi Facebook-site  or Livestream.

Christmas opening launches an all-time winter season in Finnish Lapland

Rovaniemi enjoys exceptional popularity as a winter destination due to its fascinating nature and magical atmosphere. Even more people get to experience it this year, thanks to frequent charter flights and new direct flights from Berlin, London and Zurich. Co-operation with international operators such as Chinese Alitrip has been a significant move in terms of Asian market.

The provision of accommodation services in Rovaniemi is increasingly attractive due to the launch of new resorts such as Arctic Tree House Hotel, Santas Igloos Arctic Circle and Santa Claus Holiday Village extension. You can also find more exciting things to do, as new activities such as Aurora floating, Aurora flights, and nature watching tours have been added to the list of services. A truly breathtaking innovation is a cruise on a world’s biggest travel icebreaker on the Swedish side of the border.

The beloved Santa Claus can be visited every day of the year in Santa Claus Village, Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi.

‘Duopoly’ chronicles pianist’s sessions with improvisers

davisCritically acclaimed pianist and composer Kris Davis has released her newest album, Duopoly, on Pyroclastic Records.  The album consists of 16 tracks with eight different highly regarded improvisers.  Each musician performs two pieces alongside Davis, one composed and the other completely improvised.  For Duopoly, Davis chose to work with musicians whom she had never worked with in a recording studio.  They are: guitarists Bill Frisell and Julian Lage, pianists Craig Taborn and Angelica Sanchez, drummers Billy Drummond and Marcus Gilmore, and reed players Tim Berne and Don Byron.

The CD comes with a DVD of live performances of each piece performed by Davis and collaborator.  Davis explains in a news release, “We also chose to make a visual record, which we hoped would be as live and uncompromising as the music.  Shot by Mimi Chakarova with one fixed camera and one handheld, the goal was for this film to have a kind of 1:1 or indexical relationship to the music itself.”

Davis continues her celebratory Duopoly tour tonight at Kennedy Center Millennium Stage in Washington DC, with pianist, and album collaborator, Craig Taborn.  The tour will continue through mid-October.

Nina Simone’s years celebrated with vinyl album remasters

ninaFrom 1964 to 1967, the extraordinary Nina Simone released seven albums on Philips Records, further establishing her peerless artistic expression and singular voice. During this exceptional purple patch, she recorded some of her best and most important work of her career, much of it fuelled by the Civil Rights Movement and the turmoil of 1960s America. In conjunction with their 60th anniversary this year, Verve will celebrate the genius of Simone, the supernaturally gifted singer, pianist and prolific songwriter, and her incredible mid-’60s run with the release of her entire Philips catalog on vinyl.
Released earlier this summer as a box set titled The Philips Years, the seven LPs — Nina Simone in Concert (’64), Broadway-Blues-Ballads (’64), I Put a Spell on You (’65), Pastel Blues (’65), Let It All Out (’66), Wild Is the Wind (’66) and High Priestess of Soul (’67) — will be available individually on Friday, Sept. 30 on heavyweight 180 gram vinyl in facsimiles of the original sleeve art. The vinyl masters for the long-out-of-print titles were cut at Abbey Road using high-resolution audio transfers direct from the analog master tapes and are all in stereo. This marks the first time that Broadway-Blues-Ballads and Let It All Out have been made available on vinyl since their original release. A celebration of Simone’s remarkable talents, these albums contain many of the songs that Simone’s legacy is built upon not only such well-known cuts as “I Put a Spell on You” and “Feeling Good,” but also “Wild Is the Wind,” a song that David Bowie would memorably cover, and Simone’s version of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit.”
Since her death in 2003, Simone’s influence, significance and cultural relevance has only grown, especially most recently as issues of race, police brutality and civil rights are once again at the forefront of the cultural conversation. The Netflix feature documentary, What Happened, Miss Simone? — which just won the 2016 Emmy for Outstanding Documentary this month — has helped shine a new light on Simone’s immense talents and fearless activism, resulting in a new generation discovering her timeless music and indelible impact. Of her Philips years, NPR drew parallels to the present: “In a time when issues of race and gender are reverberating with a newfound volatility reminiscent of the 1960s — the decade in which Simone forged her reputation as a politically provocative entertainer — Nina’s concerts and recordings feel like urgent bulletins from a brooding heart and a troubled land.”
In 1964, Simone embarked on a new stage of her career. Her rejection by the Philadelphia-based Curtis Institute of Music; time spent as a pianist in an Atlantic City nightclub; her jazz, gospel, pop and classical influences — all these had fused to make her one of the most complex, fascinating and talented artists of the decade. Simone released her debut album in 1958, but when she signed to Philips in 1964 at the age of 31, her creative output was about to dovetail with the Civil Rights movement — notably coinciding with the Civil Rights Act Of 1964, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, gender, religious affiliation or nationality. It’s fitting, then, that the first album she released on Philips, 1964’s Nina Simone in Concert, captured some of Simone’s most committed Civil Rights-era material, including her explosive rendition of “Mississippi Goddam.” But this three-year period also saw her satisfy her relentlessly questing muse, with collections that focused on Broadway showtunes (Broadway-Blues-Ballads), pop material (I Put A Spell on You) and more, showing the full range of Simone’s talents.

Cuba-based jazz artist Harold López-Nussa debuts first release in U.S.

cuba

Photo Credit: Eduardo Rawdriguez

“El Viaje (The Journey),” the title track of Cuban pianist and composer Harold López-Nussa’s debut release on Mack Avenue Records, seems to sway gently like a boat in the water – as if readying for a voyage or returning to port after arrival – trumpet and voices whispering memories. This scene aptly describes López-Nussa’s experiences of traveling throughout the world, yet always finding his way back to his hometown of Havana, Cuba. This journey of body and spirit has led simultaneously to a musical exploration where he visits various genres and ideas while staying true to his foundational roots.

The release of López-Nussa’s music stateside is a significant postscript to President Obama’s recent trip to Havana. The conservatory-trained pianist is the first Cuba-based musician (he has dual citizenship in both Cuba and France) to release an album internationally since the lifting of many of the restrictions associated with the longstanding trade embargo. States Mack Avenue Records President Denny Stilwell in a recent news release, “Harold follows in the modern day tradition of exemplary Cuban pianists who have recorded and toured internationally. We feel he is an emerging artist with immense creative potential to breakthrough.”

El Viaje features The Harold López-Nussa Trio with younger brother Ruy Adrián López-Nussa on drums and percussion and from Senegal, Alune Wade on bass and vocals. This trio is augmented on certain tracks with guests including his father Ruy Francisco López-Nussa on drums, Mayquel González on trumpet and flugelhorn, and Dreiser Durruthy and Adel González on percussion.

López-Nussa, who collaborated with Wade on the 2015 album Havana-Paris-Dakar, said: “Having a non-Cuban musician on this recording speaks to our contact with other cultures. Especially with African culture, which is so far from ours geographically and yet so close. Every time we play, I believe we enter into a journey we are creating,” he says, speaking from his home in Havana.

“Ever since I was a kid, since I began to study piano, music, I have tried; I have searched for that journey of the mind, always traveling with music. I remember that I started playing ‘El Viaje’ while on tour as a way of feeling closer to home, and when I’m here, it’s also a way for my mind to travel.”

López-Nussa has moved with ease between the classical, popular and jazz music worlds. A quick look at his experiences reveal a recording of Heitor Villa-Lobos´ “Fourth Piano Concerto” with Cuba’s National Symphony Orchestra (2003) but also winning the First Prize and Audience Prize of the Jazz Solo Piano Competition at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland, in 2005. He was part of projects as diverse as Ninety Miles (a recording with David Sánchez, Christian Scott and Stefon Harris) and Esencial (an album of compositions by revered Cuban classical guitarist, composer and conductor Leo Brouwer), both in 2011.

As for his popular music and on-the-job training, he was part of projects such as the Cuba volume of Rhythms del Mundo, which paired him with veterans from Buena Vista Social Club and he spent three years in the touring band of singer Omara Portuondo, an opportunity he calls “a blessing.” He has distilled all those experiences not only into a rich, personal style, as a player and composer, but it infused López-Nussa with an engaging attitude about making and sharing music.

Charles Jenkins’ solo project reinforces positive thinking

jenkinsBillboard Magazine chart-topping recording artist Charles Jenkins is stepping out of his musical pulpit with his first solo album “Think About These Things” (Inspired People), an urban mainstream set that hits store shelves and digital platforms on Friday.

Jenkins is best know for some of the biggest gospel hits in the last five years – “Awesome” (22 weeks) and “War” (5 weeks) with Fellowship Chicago.

The 10-track “Think About These Things” was produced by Jenkins and Grammy Award winning producer Warryn Campbell (Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Mary Mary). The album is full of motivating messages Jenkins calls #positiveair.

“I wanted to lift people up with a different sound and spread some #positiveair on the radio airwaves,” says Jenkins in a recent news release. “There’s so much bad news, negativity, violence and hopelessness in the world right now that we just wanted to send out some encouragement and remind everyone that they can win and be upbeat in this thing called life.”

The first radio single is the hypnotically catchy “Winning.” The uplifting anthem of hope and determination was the second most added song on the Urban Adult Contemporary radio the week of its release. Jenkins’ other thought-provoking songs have inspired a casual wear clothing line that can be viewed at www.inspiredpeopleclothing.com.

Mitch’s Product Review: Purex plus Clorox 2 Detergent

PurexplusClorox2Detergent_OriginalFreshPurex was kind to send a sample of their Purex plus Clorox 2 detergent, which is specially formulated with Clorox 2 stain-fighting enzymes to remove the toughest stains. Works with all washing machines, including High-Efficiency (HE).

I used it to wash a stain out of a favorite T-shirt I wore. It’s pretty effective, considering you have to pretreat stains by applying some detergent directly to stains and rub into fabric. Available in grocery stories everywhere.

For more information, check out this page.

“The Purex brand provided me with a sample of Purex plus Clorox 2 detergent in exchange for a product review. However, all the opinions expressed here are my own.”

Plans unfold for the 100th anniversary celebration honoring Charlie Christian

Mark Temple, chairman of the Charlie Christian Festival committee

Mark Temple, chairman of the Charlie Christian Festival committee

In a recent new release, Mark Temple, chairman of the Charlie Christian Festival committee, revealed that plans are going well for the 100th Anniversary celebration of the late Charlie Christian and his legacy. Temple said the Deep Deuce Business Association is collaborating with Black Liberated Arts Center, Inc., festival sponsor. to create a memorable experience for Oklahoma and that will attract music lovers from around the world.

The event, to be held June 2 to 5, 2016, near the Deep Deuce area will have a number of special surprises including an appearance of the only remaining guitar that Charlie Christian owned. There will be special moments such as a brief memorial at or near Calvary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City where Christian’s funeral was held and a New Orleans style festival parade. As always, there will be plenty of family type engagement activities right along with good food, good fun and great music.

Musical artist, visual artists as well as food and non-food vendors who wish to participate should call (405) 524-3800 or visit the website at www.charliechristianmusicfestival.com Selection of musicians will begin near the end of April.

“The 100th celebration only comes once in a lifetime, so our intent is to make this festival stand out as no other festival has,” Temple concluded. The event is funded in part by BancFirst, the Oklahoma Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Sponsorships are still available by calling (405) 524-3800.

Drummer Herlin Riley moves in ‘new direction’ with project

rileySince coming of age in the nurturing environment of a very musical family and a distinguished bloodline of drummers, New Orleans native Herlin Riley emerged from that most creative era of all things rhythmic in the late ’70s and early ’80s, to enliven the ensembles of such influential and demanding improvisers as pianist Ahmad Jamal and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis through his commanding yet elegant rhythmic presence. His authoritative style of melodic percussion is deeply imbued in the fertile creative soil of the Crescent City, encompassing as it does the entire length and breadth of America’s ongoing musical journey.
Now the release of his debut recording for Mack Avenue Records, Riley’s New Direction (available on Feb. 12) is an engaging, wide-ranging recital that distills a lifetime of experience into a swinging body of new music that defines what a big tent the music of New Orleans has always represented stylistically and spiritually.
This joyous cultural amalgam of Afro-Cuban, jazz and blues speak not just to Riley’s command of all things swinging — from the formative days of Sidney Bechet and Louis Armstrong — but which evoke, what for want of a better term we might call “the pocket” — those deeply dancing grooves that have nurtured parallel streams of rhythm & blues and funk in the tradition of such great Crescent City drummers as Vernel Fournier, Earl Palmer, Ziggy Modeliste and Idris Muhammad.
“You see,” Riley explains, “New Direction  reflects a personal transition from being a musical associate with the likes of Ahmad and Wynton, to functioning in a leadership capacity, both as a bandleader and a composer. Like Art Blakey, I’m trying to maintain a certain exuberance by using all younger musicians, while helping them develop their own voices. So many great musicians and drummers have come out of New Orleans, and that really defines my personal legacy; I’m standing on the shoulders of giants. But I’ve been playing drums since I was three years old; so, while the title New Direction may suggest new bottles, this is surely some well-aged wine.
“As a boy growing up in New Orleans, way before you heard that big bass drum in the street parades, you could feel it coming from four or five blocks away, and it would literally beckon you to come on down to the street, check out this music, and participate in it. On ‘Connection to Congo Square’ I quote the ‘Reveille’ in my intro. It reflects the melodic nature of how I tune my tom toms and is also a symbolic call to arms, for all the cats from the different neighborhoods to gather ‘round, and participate in this celebration, this collective dialog.”
Well-traveled listeners might hear echoes of Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo in the Afro-Cuban celebrations of “The Crossbar” and “Connection To Congo Square.” The down and dirty groove of “Harlem Shuffle” suggests a connection to Benny Golson’s venerable “Killer Joe,” while the title tune (in the person of guest guitarist Mark Whitfield) evokes echoes of George Benson and those classic hard bop and grooving CTI sessions of yesteryear.
So when Riley and his band reference iconic elements of the jazz tradition, listeners might very well smile contentedly in recognition of audible gems with which they are conversant. Nevertheless, throughout New Direction, Riley and company also essay a very personal, original rhythmic signature on visceral, dancing arrangements such as “The Big Banana,” “Herlin’s Hurdle” and “Hiccup Smooth.” As Riley explains it, “in everything I play, there’s some reference from my own personal experience, and while it may not be explicit, it’s all underneath there somewhere.

Mitch’s Muse spotlight: Artist and filmmaker David Lynch on Artsy

David Lynch

David Lynch

If you’re a lover of art, feel free to view and browse the David Lynch page. As specified on his Artsy page, considered among the top living American filmmakers, David Lynch is revered for his singular, mind-bending vision of reality that both entrances and disturbs viewers. Among his best-known feature-length films are Eraserhead (1977); The Elephant Man (1980), a critical and commercial success that launched his career; and Blue Velvet (1986). His famed television series, the surrealistic murder mystery Twin Peaks (1990–91), has been credited with redefining the possibilities of the medium. Lynch is also a painter, singer-songwriter, and avid practitioner of and advocate for transcendental meditation. His work is lush, dark, and often shot through with violence.

Describing his creative process, he once said: “I used to go to well-lit diners, because in a well-lit diner I could sit and think and daydream and I could go to dark places knowing that I could surface in a well-lit, safe place.”

Artsy’s mission is to make all the world’s art accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. For more information, go to https://www.artsy.net.

Brandon Camphor & OneWay to release “His Name” on Dec. 4

Photo Provided. Brandon Camphor & OneWay

Photo Provided. Brandon Camphor & OneWay

Brandon Camphor & OneWay, has earned its third Billboard Top 30 Gospel AirPlay hit within two years with the new anthem “His Name.” The inspiring song of praise debuted at No. 30 two weeks ago and continues to build momentum at radio. “His Name,” a digital EP featuring a radio edit and a karaoke track, is available for pre-order on iTunes and will officially release to all major digital retailers on Dec. 4.

The group will perform “His Name “ live on the Word Network’s two-hour primetime cable television program “Rejoice in the Word” at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time Dec. 4 (Check local television listings for channel). Fans can also watch the show online at www.thewordnetwork.org during the live broadcast.

A Washington, D.C., area native, Camphor formed OneWay in 2007 with singers Angela Jones, Julia McMillan, and Fred Cleveland. Their debut album “Regeneration” was released in 2009. With Pop-flavored shades of rock and funk, the inspiring songs of faith and worship included fan favorites “It’s Possible (Gotta Have Faith)” and “Bless the Lord.”

The group won Music World Gospel and the Gospel Music Channel’s “The Most Powerful Voices Competition” in 2011 and in 2012, Camphor launched the “Jesus Rock: Live It Loud” college tour that found OneWay touring with Tye Tribbett, Kierra Sheard and Group1Crew. Camphor has also been a soloist on the Grammy Award winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir’s “Love Lead the Way” and “Pray” albums. In 2014, OneWay hit the Billboard Gospel Airplay chart for the first time with the track “You Are God.” OneWay is now putting the finishing touches on its sophomore album “Hope Is Alive,” tentatively scheduled for a spring 2016 release.