Burning Ghosts release ‘Reclamation’ now available

Burning Ghosts photo by Eron Rauch

According to a recent news release, Burning Ghosts is a politically motivated quartet at the forefront of the jazz-metal underground featuring four of the most acclaimed musicians in the L.A. experimental music scene. Playing scorching instrumentals that touch on heavy metal and jazz, the music is uncompromising and intense, filled with precise rhythmic complexity and textural power. Their first release on Tzadik is an incendiary blockbuster and is destined to become an instant classic!

Guitarist Kevin Eubanks merges musical landscape of East and West coasts

Since his 18-year tenure as guitarist and music director of TV’s “The Tonight Show” band ended in 2010, Philadelphia-born guitarist, composer Kevin Eubanks has been on a creative roll. On East West Time Line, Eubanks explores the chemistry he maintains with musicians on both coasts. And once again, his distinctive fingerstyle approach to the instrument is in the service of tunes that run the stylist gamut from urgent swingers to introspective ballads to Latin-tinged numbers and some get-down Philly funk. The Mack Avenue Records project is set for release on April 7.
Joining Eubanks on this stellar outing are longtime collaborator and former Berklee College of Music schoolmate, drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith, who fuels the West Coast outfit alongside seasoned session bassist Rene Camacho, percussionist Mino Cinelu and saxophonist Bill Pierce. Smith’s East Coast counterpart on this bi-coastal session is the irrepressibly swinging Jeff “Tain” Watts, a force of nature on the kit who combines with bassist Dave Holland, Philadelphia-based pianist Orrin Evans and New York trumpeter Nicholas Payton for a potent lineup. Together these great musicians bring out the best in Eubanks’ six-string prowess and ignite his searching instincts throughout the sessions in Los Angeles and New York.
“Of course, we all came up through New York,” says the Philly guitarist who broke in with Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers during the early ’80s in a recent news release. “But we also got the benefits of seeing the East Coast down and dirty and Hollywood down and dirty, too. We combined both vibes on this recording-the kind of Latin vibe of Los Angeles and the straight-up swinging vibe of New York.”
Overall, Eubanks seems exceedingly pleased with the copacetic nature of his first bi-coastal recording. “I think because I’m so familiar with all the musicians and we played together over the years in different settings, on different tours, that it helped the music quite a bit. There’s something that goes with friendship, knowing everybody’s journey to a large extent, that really enhances the communication between the players on a session. It’s that thing where everybody’s pulling for each other to do well and trying to make each other sound better, and you keep your ego out of it. We all have egos, we’re human beings and everything, but through the love of the music and wanting the best, good things happen. It’s really such a wonderful kind of democracy that you don’t see in other things. I think jazz music is the most perfect example of democracy in action.”

‘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.

Rob Reddy blurs the lines between improvisation and complex structure

reddySince his emergence onto the scene in 1989, composer/soprano saxophonist Rob Reddy has established himself as an adventurous and original leader in the contemporary jazz realm. Prolific, eclectic and versatile, Reddy is recognized by musicians, critics, and funding institutions. With his new recording Citizen Quintet, Reddy adds another powerful milestone to his reputation. Citizen Quintet is his eighth album where Reddy is again fully within his own territory and in the company of a superb group of musicians — trumpeter John Carlson, guitarist Brandon Ross, double bassist Dom Richards and drummer Pheeroan akLaff — all regular collaborators of his for more than 20 years.
With Citizen Quintet, Reddy has purposefully diminished the emphasis upon the compositional form on behalf of a looser and more open approach to the creative substance, allowing the musicians’ longtime familiarity to breathe more freely. As a result, Reddy says “this session had a real joy & ease to it.” Indeed, the sense of joyful turbulence and free-reined expressiveness that is so fundamental to the music of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sun Ra and Albert Ayler is vividly displayed throughout this album.
But this is no free improv or loose-knit blowing album by any means. There is a rich and complex structure and overall sense of purpose and shape always in full bloom. Reddy states in a recent news release, “Within the confines of five instrumental voices I attempted to break the ensemble down … solos, duos, trios, entire ensemble improvisations … I continue to explore the idea of juxtaposing the composed melodic material and the improvised music with one another.” They emerge from the compositional structures and sometimes the process is reversed — and often combined. Written and improvised lines are sometimes blurred, sometimes intersected and sometimes indistinguishable within the pure musicality and extraordinary musicianship of the members of the ensemble.

Rance Allen Group returns with 25th project on Oct. 28

allenThe Rance Allen Group will release its 25th album and third live project “Live From San Francisco Bay” (Tyscot Records) on October 28. The group pioneered the fusion of R&B-styled rhythms with spiritual and message music themes in the 1970s. It’s a winning style that has won them fans as varied as American Idol’s Randy Jackson and ’80s rockers Huey Lewis & the News. The 11-song set “Live from San Francisco Bay” was recorded live at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium.

“The theme really is to be encouraged in a very kind of depressed time,” says Rance Allen, who sees parallels between today’s social climate and that of when his group was formed during the Civil Rights and Vietnam eras.  “It’s a time of unusual stress with all of the killings going on, the political mess that’s going on and there’s just so many people who have just moved away from trusting God and believing in Jesus Christ. Our job of encouraging and uplifting will never be done. We’ll have to keep working on this until the Lord comes to take us home.”

The project features new songs such as the first radio single “All Day Long,” the ballad “My Delight” (led by Steve Allen), the quartet-styled stomper ‘Hold On” and the soulful tune “Vessel” (led by Paul Porter).

The group also brings back B-sides from past albums and gives them new arrangements such as the old school soul of “Like a Good Neighbor” and the funk of  “I’m Not Givin’ Up Givin’ Out Givin’ Givin’ In” that is lead by Tom Allen. The group provides some dance-floor rhythms with songs such as “Got Me Dancin’,” “Can’t Give Up (The Groove)” and “Victory Dance.” The collection is rounded out with fan favorites such as the group’s signature songs  “Miracle Worker” and “Something About the Name of Jesus.”

The Rance Allen Group was formed in 1965 in Monroe, Mich., as a self-contained band. In 1972, they signed to Stax Records’ Gospel Truth subsidiary, where they recorded a series of gritty gospel songs that won them main-stage tours with R&B headliners such as Isaac Hayes and Barry White. The group has been recording ever since and was honored with the BMI Trailblazer Award in 2008.

Drummer Nate Smith chronicles personal experiences on debut album

smithNate Smith‘s visceral, instinctive, and deep-rooted style of drumming has already established him as a key piece in reinvigorating the international jazz scene, and now his rising career reaches a new benchmark with the release of his bandleader debut, KINFOLK: Postcards from Everywhere (Feb. 3, 2017 via Ropeadope Records). Much like his diverse and ample resume (which includes esteemed leading lights such as Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Ravi Coltrane, José James, Somi, and Patricia Barber, among others), this album sees Smith fusing his original modern jazz compositions with R&B, pop, and hip-hop.
This leader debut shows Smith at the helm of a core ensemble consisting of pianist and keyboardist Kris Bowers, guitarist Jeremy Most, alto and soprano saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, electric bassist Fima Ephron, and singer/lyricist Amma Whatt, with Michael Mayo on backing vocals. The lineup expands on several cuts with the inclusion of several illustrious guests: saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist Dave Holland, guitarists Lionel Loueke and Adam Rogers, and vocalist Gretchen Parlato.
KINFOLK is about the musical family that I’ve put together,” Smith said in a recent news release. “All core members of the band have very unique and specific points of view.”
He reinforces the idea of family by composing tunes that touch upon his childhood: such is the case with the jovial “Morning and Allison,” whose title partly invokes Allison Drive, the street on which Smith grew up. The song stars Whatt serenading idyllic recollections of a child enjoying a bright, fun-filled Sunday morning.
Smith recorded his parents – Lettie and Theodore Smith – talking about their respective parents on the mesmerizing interludes “Mom” and “Dad.” On the former, Smith’s mother tells how her father migrated from Virginia to Detroit and was drafted into U.S. Army, then later returned to Virginia where he bought the family a house. The latter provides a vehicle for Theodore to recall how his own father tirelessly worked at Navy shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia during the Jim Crow era without getting proper financial compensation or promotion until decades later.
“I think of these stories as snapshots that ultimately gave shape to the Black American experience into which I was born, which ultimately informs this music,” Smith said. He stressed the significance of having his father on the disc: Theodore Smith passed away in March 2015.
“He never got a chance to hear the music or the band,” Smith said.
Because Smith didn’t come strictly from the formal matriculation of music studies as so many of his jazz contemporaries did, he lovingly describes his approach to drumming as “unrefined,” which in turns helps him distinguish his voice. He did, however, earned his bachelor’s degree in 1997 in media arts and design from James Madison University. While he was still in college, the legendary singer Betty Carter recruited him for her world-acclaimed Jazz Ahead program.
Smith said that the visual arts discipline he studied in college definitely seeps into his compositions.
“I love great movies and images. I’ve always had a deep interest in composing for film,” he said. “For this project, there is something very cinematic about the way that I conceived this record. That’s why it was so important for me to cast the right characters in terms of musicians. They bring to life the themes of family, nostalgia and identity that define this music.”
Ultimately, Smith likens the songs on KINFOLK to film vignettes sequenced together to tell a greater story about the unfolding journey of a working artist. This music represents snapshots from that voyage – these songs are the postcards from everywhere along the winding road.

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.

Jacob Garchik’s ‘Ye Olde’ explores prog rock and faux-medieval influences

(Photo by Peter Gannushkin)

(Photo by Peter Gannushkin) Trombonist/composer/arranger Jacob Garchik with Brooklyn avant guitarists Mary Halvorson, Brandon Seabrook, and Jonathan Goldberger as well as drummer Vinnie Sperrazza.

From trombonist and composer Jacob Garchik comes a fantastical and sublime work of the imagination. Ye Olde is a super band of three of Brooklyn’s baddest guitar heroes, let loose in a fun house, playing ping pong with listeners’ ears: guitarists Mary Halvorson, Brandon Seabrook and Jonathan Goldberger are joined by drummer Vinnie Sperrazza and Garchik on trombone.

Over the past 21 years in New York City, Garchik has created an eclectic career, working with Henry Threadgill, Laurie Anderson, Natalie Merchant, John Hollenbeck, and Lee Konitz; crafting over 50 arrangements as the “in-house”arranger for the Kronos Quartet; leading his award-winning jazz trio; creating his acclaimed solo project The Heavens: The Atheist Gospel Trombone Album; and co-leading Brooklyn’s first Mexican brass band, Banda de los Muertos.

Ye Olde, his fourth CD, draws from such varied influences as prog rock concept albums, Richard Strauss’s tone poems, and 90s game consoles. Garchik envisions Ye Olde as a “band” of heroes, traversing a Brooklyn that never was, taking part in surreal adventures amidst a landscape of ruined castles/apartment buildings. To help his quest he brings along Mary Halvorson (Anthony Braxton, Marc Ribot’s Sun Ship), Brandon Seabrook (Gerald Cleaver’s Black Host, Ben Allison), Jonathan Goldberger (Red Baraat, Bizingas), Vinnie Sperrazza (James Williams, Stew) and a pile of analog electronics.

 

‘Stargazer’ propels Sam Way to new height

Sam Way

Sam Way

London based singer-songwriter Sam Way launches new single ‘Stargazer’, a track that inspired his entire forthcoming record ‘Architect’ E.P. this month. Sam Way recently aired on BBC London, featured in ‘One to Watch’ of Rollacoaster Magazine and on ‘Not The One Show’. No stranger to show business, Way has appeared in TV modeling for brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Diesel and Levi’s. The EP was mastered by award winning Mandy Parnell (Bjork, The xx) at Black Saloon Studios (Paul McCartney, Brian Eno).

‘Stargazer’, a ballad of lost love, ebbs and flows between regret and hope, showcasing Sam Way’s ability as an artist and a writer. Sam Way began writing on piano from age 16, but it wasn’t until his move to London to pursue his modeling career that his father introduced him to the guitar. Since then, Sam Way has aspired to create an EP with great depth, cinematic atmosphere and lyrics that speak from the heart. Sam writes with soul, fearlessness and dynamism. His songs are positively catchy, yet still captivate the listener to explore their own stories, own worlds and own emotions. A total departure from his previous work, ‘Architect’ EP is a product of years of travel, songwriting and collaborations featuring many exciting artists – including, soul singer Matt Henry (The Voice finalist), the acclaimed London Contemporary Voices Choir (Basement Jaxx, Sam Smith) and prolific chart topping composer/orchestrator Edward Abela.

Following a successful appearance at Somersault Festival 2014 and subsequent tour of the South West of England, including interviews with BBC Devon and BBC Cornwall, Sam had announced 12 dates across the UK for October 2015 with Anna Pancaldi in support for the release of ‘Architect’ EP.

Mike Reed introduces ‘A Different Kind of Dance’ to listeners

Mike Reed

Mike Reed

When drummer, composer and bandleader Mike Reed isn’t playing music he spends much of his time watching others making it. But he also observes audiences. As a concert and festival organizer, he’s informally noted the interaction between performer and audience for years, and while his rapidly expanding discography makes plain he privileges art above all else, his awareness of the listener is always present.

A New Kind of Dance, the sixth album by his long-running quartet People, Places & Things presents the same deft interactive rapport between alto saxophonist Greg Ward and tenor saxophonist Tim Haldeman; the same crisp rhythmic drive provided by the leader and bassist Jason Roebke; and the same indelible mixture of bluesy depth and measured freedom as its superb predecessors. A New Kind of Dance advances the boundaries of the quartet’s repertoire further than ever and adds two guests to the mix: pianist Matt Shipp and trumpeter Marquis Hill.

“I wanted to challenge the quartet situation and make things slightly more dimensional, such as having three-part horn arrangements or having another harmony/rhythm instrument to dictate the path,” Reed said in a recent news release.

“I thought Matthew Shipp would throw some curve balls at the rest of the band. He has some elevated perspectives on improvising, while not standing on top of an ivory tower. His improvising is very humanistic, but he has no problem cutting people down to size, so that everyone can operate on a level playing field. Marquis seemed to be the right choice to find the right trumpet blend with Greg and Tim. His tone can keep things very centered, and he plays with a purpose.”

Here is an older video of People, Places & Things in action.