Advertisements

Musical prodigy Emily Bear set to release ‘Into the Blue’

Photo Credit: Nick Suttle

Pianist/composer Emily Bear, 15, has achieved the kinds of accolades and triumphs that take many artists a lifetime to accomplish. She’s performed at the most prestigious venues across the country and around the world, received numerous awards and honors, composed for film and television, made six appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, garnered 30 million views on YouTube, played at the White House, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, been mentored by the legendary Quincy Jones – and that’s only a partial list.

Now, with the release of Into the Blue, Bear brings us new original jazz compositions performed with her trio. The album comprises five of her original compositions plus a warm, graceful take on “My Favorite Things” that hints at the immortal John Coltrane version before veering off into dazzling variations. Exuding Bear’s own exuberant passion for music, Into the Blue is both accessible and appealing for listeners of any age.

Bear follows the chart topping success of her first album, Diversity–produced by her long time mentor, Quincy Jones–with this inspiring collection of new melodies. Her agility on the piano is matched by her skill in creating stylistic compositions – catchy, intelligent, and sophisticated.

Bear has composed and arranged for orchestra, written for film and commercials.  And while she continues to expand her musical palette, jazz holds a special place in her heart. “What I love so much about jazz is that you have a lot more freedom than in classical music,” Bear says. “Jazz has a groove that doesn’t show up in any other kind of music and I enjoy using all my musical influences to create a unique sound, familiar yet new.”

Advertisements

Mitch’s Travel: Kickoff new year with wellness/fitness getway to Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic’s all-inclusive resorts and world-class, white-sand beaches beckon travelers from all over the globe for rest and relaxation. But with the new year calling – and new fitness resolutions for 2017 – travelers should consider jetting to Dominican Republic for a fitness or wellness getaway. From outdoor activities and wellness retreats to luxurious hotel gyms, there are exercise options for every type of fitness getaway this winter.

“Dominican Republic’s wide range of travel options and activities may surprise travelers. Our country is so versatile, not only are we the premier destination for beach vacations, but we have the natural playground and high-quality service perfect for a fitness trip,” said Magaly Toribio, marketing advisor for the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism in a news release. “There are so many exciting attractions to explore, you will stay active no matter where your trip takes you.”

Home to both the highest and lowest points above sea level in the Caribbean, the boundless array of outdoor activities will keep a traveler’s muscles moving. For travelers looking for something less rigorous, yoga classes can be found in tucked-away bungalows. With so much to keep moving on a wellness getaway in Dominican Republic, R&R can be saved for home.

For example, Dominican Republic’s lush greenery and impressive mountain views can’t be found in any gym, so skip the treadmill and opt for a nature walk or hike. The country’s most rigorous hike, Pico Duarte, located in the central part of the county, is the highest peak in the Caribbean. Reaching an elevation of 10,125 feet, travelers can embark on a two-, three- or four-day trek to the top that is sure to challenge people of all fitness levels. The hike offers views of varying landscapes from tropical trees to cloud forests.

A rising travel trend, wellness retreats offer travelers a chance to forget about the busyness back home and focus on exercising their mind, body and soul. Yoga retreats can be found throughout the country, but are especially popular in the lush ecotourism hotspot of Samaná. The area’s breathtaking landscape, complete with waterfalls, mountains and mangroves, provides the perfect balance of nature and tranquility for a yoga retreat. Travelers can also opt for a yoga class on the beach to unwind. Sometimes, taking a deep breath is just what the doctor ordered.

Classes and retreats welcome yogis of all levels and practices, including acro, ashtanga, ahtah, asan and more. Some wellness retreats even provide health professionals for a complete wellness experience. There are also several meditation centers that offer more wellness retreats to help with pain issues and/or stress management.

So whether a traveler is searching for meditation, spirituality or strength training on your wellness getaway, Dominican Republic has it all.  Visit Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism’s official website at: www.GoDominicanRepublic.com.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Simple Minds’ Once Upon a Time CD release available Dec. 4

Simple MindsOriginally released in October 1985, Once Upon a Time became Simple Minds’ most successful album to date, selling two million copies in two months, hitting the top spot in the UK and making the top 10 in the U.S. It spawned four top 20 singles and launched a  15 month-long world tour that kept Simple Minds’ name in the music weeklies for most of 1986. With Jimmy Iovine and Bob Clearmountain providing a production dream team, and Anton Corbijn contributing to its instantly recognizable artwork, then Once Upon a Time had all the attributes of a classic 1980s album.

“Alive And Kicking” was the obvious first choice of single and its release preceded Once Upon a Time by a month.  The new sound, artwork and video indicated what was to come and whilst the single reached the same chart position as its predecessor in the UK, it just slipped short of the top spot in the U.S., stalling at No. 3. But Once Upon a Time easily eclipsed Sparkle in the Rain when released in October 1985, shifting two million copies in two months.

In support of the album, Simple Minds undertook their longest and biggest tour yet, beginning in the USA in October 1985 (kicking off at Poughkeepsie on the 31st) and visiting mainland Europe, the UK, the U.S. again (now with The Call as support), Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. This included a series of massive outdoor summer concerts at Ibrox, Milton Keynes Bowl and Torhout-Werchter. Their first three top 10 singles from the album were signposts detailing the progression of the tour, and the fourth, Ghost Dancing, was released as the tour wound up, all profits being donated to Amnesty International. As Simple Minds took a well earned rest, after years of relentless writing, recording and touring, Virgin released the lavishly packaged Live in the City of Light, a massive live souvenir of Once Upon a Time recorded over several nights at Le Zenith in Paris, which earned them their third successive UK No. 1.

“When I think of our most complete albums,” said Kerr. “I would say New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84) is definitely a complete album – it just feels very complete to me from start to finish; and I don’t think I’d change anything on Once Upon a Time and I wouldn’t change anything on Big Music. They, for me, are the most complete albums.  Someone might say ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ should’ve been included; and when you think about it, leaving it off is rather eccentric thing to do – you wouldn’t get away with that now. It would’ve sold double the amount of copies though! But it’s very complete: the artwork, everything about it, it is bang on.”

To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of its release, Simple Mind’s classic album Once Upon a Time will be released on Dec. 4 as a standard CD and a two CD Deluxe Edition.  The remastered standard edition contains the full original remastered album, including the singles “Sanctify Yourself,” “All The Things She Said” and the timeless “Alive and Kicking.”  The two CD Deluxe edition features the full original remastered album, as well as 13 single mixes, B-Sides and alternate versions, four of which have been previously unreleased.

Composer/pianist Myriam Alter evokes nostalgia with ‘Crossways’

alterCrossways is composer/pianist Myriam Alter‘s third production for Enja Records (licensed to Justin Time Records in North America).  Her mother grew up in Saloniki, which has given Greece some of its greatest musicians, artists, poets and thinkers, thus providing a rich background for Alter to draw upon. Her father was born in Istanbul and lived there until he was 17 when he moved to Belgium. Being brought up around these different cultural influences left an imprint on Alter and has influenced her music and compositions throughout her life.

Alter gathered a standout ensemble, with diverse cultural backgrounds like her own, to come from all over the world to produce the tight overall sound on Crossways. At the center of the music is Italian accordion virtuoso Luciano Biondini. He is joined by American (now Netherlands based) clarinetist John Ruocco, who fulfills an important soloist role in a similar fashion to his role on Alter’s previous albums. Belgian bassist Nic Thys always impresses with his strong acoustic bass foundation, and the liquid tuba of Belgian Michel Massot will be a discovery for many. The creative young Dutch percussionist Landers Gyselinck provides steady rhythmic  support and is making a name for himself in both the jazz and the avant-garde rock scene, and Italian Michel Bisceglia provides subtle, crisp piano solos with his arrangements that truly balance and support the compositions.

“I chose Crossways because of my own upbringing. I came from a Judeo-Spanish family and lived in Belgium,” says Alter in a news release. “Once you add that to the background of these musicians, all those cultures meet in the music.” Crossways not only refers to the diversity and eclecticism in the musicians’ backgrounds but also to the instrumentation for the album. The unique combination of accordion, clarinet, and tuba along with the traditional instrumentation adds a distinctive element to Alter’s music that is undeniable and also adds succinctly to the warm melodies throughout the recording. 

Although most of the performances were improvised, the melodies were arranged to evoke a certain feeling of peacefulness and tranquility. For Alter, it’s the feelings of nostalgia in the arrangements that provoke these feelings that she hopes draw the listener back. “I want these melodies to create a warm and loving feeling so the melody really sticks with the listener,” explains the composer.

2016 lineup set for Biamp PDX Jazz Festival

The 13th Annual Biamp PDX Jazz Festival is set to commence Thursday, Feb. 18 through Sunday, Feb.  28 with 30 featured concerts at venues throughout the Portland metro region. Tickets exclusively available to PDX Jazz members beginning October 4, and to the general public November 2.

This year’s 11-day celebration will also boast the second annual Jazz Forward Competition, a high school competition drawing students throughout the western region. In partnership with Portland State University, the JFC was created to establish a scholarship program in the tradition of other prestigious regional events held in Reno, Nevada; Monterey, California and Moscow, Idaho. Finalists will compete in seven categories (two college level solo categories have been added) and the winners will receive main stage exposure.

The thematic centerpiece performances are two For Portland Only concerts featuring special guest Ravi Coltrane in celebration of his father’s 90th birthday and mother’s influence and artistry. Friday, Feb. 26, The Africa Brass Ensemble, under the direction of Portland Jazz Master Charles Gray, will re-imagine the five singular pieces from John Coltrane’s debut impulse! sessions. Anchoring this performance is Philadelphia pianist and McCoy Tyner inspired, Orrin Evans and his esteemed rhythm mates. On Saturday, Feb. 27, Ravi will pay tribute to his revered mother, Alice Coltrane, in a highly anticipated program titled, Universal Consciousness, featuring Reggie Workman (a prominent collaborator with John and Alice Coltrane), pianist Geri Allen (she and Alice are both Detroit natives), harpist Brandee Younger and drummer Andrew Cyrille.

“This will be the first themed Festival since 2011,” said Don Lucoff, states executive artistic director, in a recent news release. “I can’t think of a more fitting figure than John Coltrane, who transcends jazz music and serves as a guiding influence for so many human beings in their daily lives. Through the ensuing generations, Coltrane has served as a cultural touchstone, and it’s an honor to have his son, Ravi Coltrane represent his cherished legacy, and pay loving tribute to his mom, Alice Coltrane.

“We are presenting music for the first time during the Festival at Revolution Hall, Alberta Abbey and Al’s Den. We look forward to nine exciting shows at Jimmy Mak’s, including the anticipated return of Portlander Nicole Glover, our popular PDX Piano Perspectives series including Chano Domínguez, Brandee Younger, David Goldblatt, Aaron Goldberg and the American Pianist’s Association’s 2015 Cole Porter Fellow – Sullivan Fortner. Six shows at the Newmark and three at the Winningstad Theatres, complimented by free Jazz Conversations, music in the Art Bar Atrium of P5, and various hotels and restaurants throughout the downtown corridor.”

Coltrane’s mastery will be reflected through legacy performances in special groupings through tribute projects: Gary Bartz (Coltrane Rules) and Javon Jackson/Jimmy Cobb (We FOUR); Olé Coltrane featuring the Bobby Torres Ensemble with special guest Azar Lawrence, the West Coast debut of Reggie Workman’s RW WORKz, and a week-long residency of nightly Coltrane tributes from top Portland performers.

The BIAMP PDX Jazz Festival was co-founded in 2004 with Travel Portland to establish a cultural tourism initiative in the metro Portland area, and to celebrate Black History Month through education and outreach programming.