jueves, 25 de agosto de 2016

Quinsin Nachoff - Flux (September 16, 2016)

Saxophonist/Composer Quinsin Nachoff combines jazz invention 
and classical intricacy on extraordinary new CD

Flux, out September 16, features unconventional bass-less quartet with 
David Binney, Matt Mitchell, and Kenny Wollesen

“Pure, bracing, thought-provoking music…cliche-and convention-free.” 
—Peter Hum, Ottawa Citizen, reviewing Flux’s debut concert

“[Nachoff’s writing is] bold, diverse and filled with compelling
counterpoint.” – James Hale, DownBeat

Saxophonist/composer Quinsin Nachoff brilliantly captures the sound of evolution on his latest release, Flux, due out September 16 from Mythology Records. Exploring the elusive terrain between modern jazz and contemporary classical, between the cerebral and the organic, Nachoff reveals a fervently original sound that evokes bold, incisive playing from a singularly innovative quartet. Nachoff’s vision asserts that the state of flux can represent shape-shifting invention rather than uncertainty – though he’s certainly not afraid to venture into the untested unknown.

The bass-less quartet of Flux is entirely composed of leaders in their own right, each known for their groundbreaking adventurousness. Alto saxophonist David Binney, whose Mythology label is releasing the album, is a prolific and forward-thinking player and composer as well as being an influential producer whose collaborators have included Donny McCaslin, Uri Caine and Chris Potter. Pianist/keyboardist Matt Mitchell has seized a place at the leading edge of the music through his jaw-dropping work with the likes of Dave Douglas, Tim Berne and Rudresh Mahanthappa. And drummer Kenny Wollesen is a founding member of the New Klezmer Trio and Sex Mob whose diverse resumé includes work with Bill Frisell, Norah Jones, Tom Waits and John Zorn.

These four come together to breathe vivid life into Nachoff’s wide-ranging compositions, which continue to develop his longtime interest in fusing together eclectic influences from jazz and classical music. Don’t mistake this for a “Third Stream” or “chamber-jazz” project, however; this is radically creative music that forges its own path.

“The kind of music that I’m interested in making isn’t straightahead in either genre,” says Nachoff, who has composed for string and brass ensembles as well as jazz big bands. “I like mixing and matching things. I try to find commonalities between them to put people into different landscapes to improvise in.”

Flux was born out of a time when Nachoff’s life was in a state of flux itself. The Toronto native was in the process of moving to New York City and finding a new niche for himself in the jazz mecca’s ultra-competitive scene. “It’s quite a transition going from working a lot and teaching at well-respected schools to starting again from scratch,” he says.

Nachoff discovered kinships with the members of the Flux quartet in different ways: Binney on shared gigs with bassist Michael Herring, Mitchell during an Australian tour under Nachoff’s leadership, Wollesen simply through hearing the drummer play with bassist Eivind Opsvik’s Overseas ensemble. “I was blown away by his incredible feel,” Nachoff says of his first experience hearing Wollesen live. “I was infatuated with his hi-hat the whole night - which was only playing quarter notes!”

At the core of the sound of Flux is two pairings – the twin saxophone frontline, and the alchemical, opposites-attract meeting of Mitchell and Wollesen. “The concept was to put more heady material that Matt can deal with on top of this really organic feel that Kenny does and have it work as a band sound.”

The compositions that Nachoff brings to the quartet fully explore that tension between the band’s virtuosity and passion, which fuel each other in thrilling ways. With the two saxophones, Mitchell playing a variety of keyboards including Fender Rhodes, organ, Wurlitzer, and Moog, and Wollesen incorporating a variety of handmade percussion instruments, the palette that Nachoff had to work with, in his often surprising orchestrations, was vast. 

Several of the pieces on Flux began life as commissions for classical ensembles, reinvented for and by the quartet. Aptly-named opener “Tightrope” is Nachoff’s response to the Toca Loca ensemble’s request for a “pop” influenced piece – allowing for as abstract an interpretation of that proviso as desired. The piece follows a loose verse-chorus structure with an underlying rock feel to the rhythm – and Mitchell interpreting two keyboard parts into one intricate whole.

“Complementary Opposites” is derived from a suite penned for trumpeter Peter Knight’s 5+2 Brass Ensemble and is built on surprising juxtapositions of style and rhythm – as when a reggae groove suddenly takes over the piece somewhere in the middle. The two-part “Mind’s Ear” comes from a suite written for the Greg Runions Jazz Orchestra that featured Nachoff and trumpeter Tim Hagans (who gave the piece its name) as guest soloists. The pieces are marked by unconventional harmonic motion and jarring tonal shifts.

The evocative title of “Astral Echo Poem” is an anagram for the name of its primary influence – Brazliian composer Hermeto Pascoal. Finally, “Tilted,” which erupts with nervous energy, is an apt bookend with “Tightrope,” drawing once again on hard rock inspirations for its driving beat, complicated by the fleet, snarling melodies.

A graduate of the University of Toronto, Nachoff has been colliding genres since his 2006 debut, Magic Numbers, which melded a jazz trio with a string quartet. He’s since composed music for a variety of ensembles in both worlds, including the Penderecki String Quartet, the Toronto Jazz Orchestra, and the Cecilia String Quartet, as well as his own Horizons Ensemble, Quiescence Quartet, and FoMo quartet. He also leads the Pyramid Project, which brings together saxophone, brass quintet and drums and features Ralph Alessi, Jonathan Finlayson, John Clark, Ryan Keberle, Marcus Rojas and Jim Black.  As a sideman he’s performed and/or recorded with Kenny Werner, Howard Johnson, Tim Hagans, Kenny Wheeler and Don Thompson among others. He has coached at the Banff Centre for the Arts and taught at the University of Toronto and Humber College, as well as serving as artist-in-residence at the Queensland Conservatorium in Brisbane, Australia. 

Robert Glasper Experiment Releases Single “Find You” | Album “ArtScience” Drops Sept. 16th, 2016





Robert Glasper Experiment has released “Find You,” the powerful first single from the groundbreaking, GRAMMY-winning band’s new album ArtScience (Blue Note). The eclectic album finds the Experiment getting down to its essence, with each of the band members—keyboardist Robert Glasper, saxophonist Casey Benjamin, bassist Derrick Hodge, and drummer Mark Colenburg—delivering the vocals and sharing in the production and songwriting on the album. On ArtScience, the Experiment sounds like a bit of everything that’s vibrant and challenging and great about music woven into a billowing fabric of jazz, funk, soul, rock, hip-hop, blues, disco, electronic, and pop.

ArtScience is available for pre-order now on iTunes and Amazon, and will be released on September 16. Fans who pre-order the download will instantly receive the lead single “Find You” which is also available as a single on streaming services. The album’s cover features an illustration by contemporary artist Hebru Brantley.

After a year of touring that has taken Glasper across North America, South America, Australia, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, The Experiment has announced an NYC album release show at Bowery Ballroom on October 3. Further fall touring will be announced shortly. Visit robertglasper.com for more tour info.

After delivering two star-studded, chart-topping, R&B GRAMMY-winning volumes of their acclaimed Black Radio series on which they collaborated with everyone from Erykah Badu to Norah Jones to Snoop Dogg, the band pondered where to go next. The answer? “You do you,” says Glasper with a chuckle. “People need to hear what the Experiment sounds like, just us—know what our vibe is and can be.”

“Find You” is a jaw-dropping tour-de-force co-written by all four Experiment members that charges through various moods and genres. The track features Hodge on lead vocals as well as a shredding guitar solo by Michael Severson. It closes with an impassioned plea for justice from Glasper’s son Riley. “He’s speaking his mind,” explains Glasper. “He was 5 and the Michael Brown case came on the news and he started going off.” Indeed, Riley speaks to the anger many feel: “It’s not fair! We should let other people live! … Let’s try to make the polices better … like real polices that help. No gun shooting!”

Glasper himself has been keeping incredibly busy as of late. Last year he reconvened his acclaimed acoustic trio for the GRAMMY-nominated album Covered, which was recorded live at Capitol Studios with bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Damion Reid. Glasper has also scored Don Cheadle’s Miles Ahead film, reinterpreted the Miles Davis catalog on Everything Is Beautiful, played keys all over albums from Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly to Anderson .Paak’s Malibu to Maxwell’s blackSUMMERS’night, and is currently collaborating on forthcoming albums from Herbie Hancock, Common, and Mac Miller.

The track listing for ArtScience is as follows:

1. This Is Not Fear (D. Hodge, R. Glasper, C. Benjamin, M. Colenburg)

2. Thinkin Bout You (R. Glasper, D. Hodge, M. Ayers)

3. Day To Day (C. Benjamin)

4. No One Like You (R. Glasper, C. Benjamin)

5. You And Me (R. Glasper, D. Hodge, C. Benjamin, M. Colenburg)

6. Tell Me A Bedtime Story (H. Hancock)

7. Find You (C. Benjamin, D. Hodge, R. Glasper, M. Colenburg)

8. In My Mind (R. Glasper, M. Colenburg)

9. Hurry Slowly (C. Benjamin)

10. Written In Stone (C. Benjamin, J. Lake, R. Glasper, R. Coleman)

11. Let’s Fall In Love (R. Glasper, M. Vorzimer, A. Niambi)

12. Human (J. Harris, T. Lewis)

Pianist Orrin Evans to Release New Album “#knowingishalfthebattle” on Oct. 7th, 2016 (SMOKE SESSIONS RECORDS)

Pianist Orrin Evans Lets Go and Trusts Instincts
with Electrifying Band for #knowingishalfthebattle
Available October 7 on Smoke Sessions Records

No child of the ’80s could forget the closing moments of every “G.I. Joe” cartoon: one of our heroes would teach a valuable life lesson about saying ‘no’ to drugs or not talking to strangers, followed by the familiar refrain, “And now you know… and knowing is half the battle!”

Pianist/composer Orrin Evans has parroted that line for decades, but says he’s only recently come to realize what it truly means. On #knowingishalfthebattle, his third release for Smoke Sessions Records, Evans shares his own lessons in life and music on a raw, electrifying session that teams him with a pair of renowned guitarists who are also, not coincidentally, native sons of Evans’ own hometown of Philadelphia: Kevin Eubanks and Kurt Rosenwinkel. He’s also joined by the latest in a long line of inspired rhythm sections, bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Mark Whitfield, Jr., along with up-and-coming saxophonist Caleb Wheeler Curtis and a longtime collaborator, vocalist M’Balia.

#knowingishalfthebattle shows Evans coming to terms with what he’s learned over his years on and off the bandstand — and more importantly, how to make use of that knowledge. In large part, the answer he’s come to involves letting go, forgetting what’s been learned and trusting the instincts that come along with it. By inviting such virtuosic musicians into his world, he’s asking them to do the same and making new discoveries through a collective act of forgetting.

“We’re taught that with knowledge comes power,” Evans says. “Which is true, but we never really realize that with knowledge comes responsibility. Then we have to figure out how to forget. When you let go of everything that you’ve been taught, the possibilities of what can happen on the bandstand are endless.”

“#knowingishalfthebattle” was recorded live in New York at Sear Sound’s Studio C on a Sear-Avalon custom console at 96KHz/24bit and mixed to ½” analog tape using a Studer mastering deck. Available in audiophile HD format.

Orrin Evans #knowingishalfthebattle Release Performances
November 17 – 20 | Jazz Standard w/ special guest Kurt Rosenwinkel | New York, NY
December 28 – 30 | Chris’ Jazz Cafe w/ special guest Kevin Eubanks | Philadelphia, PA

Additional Orrin Evans Performances

August 27 | Chris’ Jazz Cafe (w/ Joanna Pascale) | Philadelphia, PA
August 31 | SOUTH (w/ Reggie Watkins) | Philadelphia, PA
September 2 | Chicago Jazz Festival (w/ TARBABY) | Chicago, IL
September 29 – October 2nd | Jazz Standard (w/ Steve Wilson) | New York, NY
October 15 & 16 | Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola (w/ Matt Wilson Group) | New York, NY
October 22 | Bucks County Performing Arts Center (w/ Captain Black Big Band) | Yardley, PA

Orrin Evans · #knowingishalfthebattle
Smoke Sessions Records · Release Date: October 7, 2016

Will Calhoun - Celebrating Elvin Jones (2016) MOTÉMA MUSIC


Drummer Will Calhoun Pays Tribute to a
Profound Influence on Celebrating Elvin Jones
Available August 19 on Motéma Music

Album Features Christian McBride,
Antoine Roney, Keyon Harrold, and Special Guests
Jan Hammer and Doudou N’Diaye Rose

Although he’s best known as the hard-driving, groove-oriented drummer for the pioneering rock group Living Colour, Will Calhoun has played in a staggering variety of styles and traditions over the course of his eclectic career. Straight-ahead jazz, fusion, traditional African percussion, funk, hip-hop, and of course hard rock — Calhoun has explored them all, and he traces the roots of all of them to one man: legendary drummer Elvin Jones.

On his second album for Motéma Music, Celebrating Elvin Jones (due out August 19), Calhoun pays tribute to his earliest and most profound influence with a stellar band of musicians, all of whom were impacted by Jones through their personal growth as a musician or their past working with him directly: bassist Christian McBride, saxophonist Antoine Roney, pianist/keyboardist Carlos McKinney, and trumpeter Keyon Harrold. The great keyboardist Jan Hammer, a member of Jones’ trio for On the Mountain (1975), joins the band for a reprise of that album’s Gene Perla-penned track “Destiny;” and Senegalese percussionist Doudou N’Diaye Rose joins with a group of drummers for the traditional Japanese folk song “Doll of the Bride.”

“Elvin connected my worlds,” Calhoun says. “Although I saw him playing jazz, I felt rock and roll, I felt fusion, I felt African music. It sounds electric, it sounds acoustic, it sounds very African, it sounds very Latin, there are all these elements in there.”

Calhoun first became acquainted with Jones’ playing as a young child hearing the drummer’s recordings with the classic John Coltrane Quartet — a band that he now considers part of a Holy Trinity with the second great Miles Davis Quintet and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. At the age of 14, Calhoun witnessed Elvin playing for the first time at the Village Vanguard and had the opportunity to meet and speak with the drum legend on various occasions throughout the years prior to Jones’ passing in 2004.

“Listening to Coltrane’s band in my youth reminded me of some kind of an incredible explosion,” Calhoun says. “The music was beyond jazz. There were a few records in those days where you put the needle down and you didn’t make it back to the couch. The Coltrane records were some of those albums where I just stood there staring at the needle and listening, and Elvin was driving that train — no pun intended — by shoving a lot of coals into the fire. He had a profound effect on me.”

Jones also had a profound effect on all of the members of the band that Calhoun assembled for the occasion. McBride only played with the drummer on a few special occasions, including saxophonist Javon Jackson’s debut album, Me and Mr. Jones. Both Roney and McKinney can boast of more extensive experience under Jones’ leadership, with both appearing on the drummer’s final release, The Truth: Heard Live at the Half Note. While Harrold did not have the opportunity to ever perform with Jones, the drummer has long influenced him. Calhoun drew on all of their experiences as he developed the music for Celebrating Elvin Jones.

“Hearing those guys telling stories about when they were on the road with Elvin was helpful,” he says. “I chose according to what music would best represent my vision. I also wanted to put my own vibe into the music.”

“Elvin and Doudou reminded me of each other,” he says. “They have a lot in common in how they speak about rhythm and music in a very respectful, classy, educated and freeform way. I don’t know if they ever met, but I wanted to recognize the energy and spiritual camaraderie between those two gentlemen.”

In recording Jones’ music, Calhoun didn’t want to imitate the drummer, but simply — as is only appropriate for such a restlessly inventive and forward-thinking artist — to absorb his influence and explore his music in a uniquely personal and progressive style. “I wasn’t trying to nail Elvin’s playing or sound,” he explains. “I love Elvin and all of his contributions. He’s inspired me in so many ways, even playing with Living Colour, so this piece, to me, is celebratory. It’s a thank you and a respectful homage to this wonderful musician.”

Will Calhoun · Celebrating Elvin Jones
Motéma Music · Release Date: August 19, 2016

Best known for his role in the fierce and politically incisive rock band Living Colour, Will Calhoun is a drummer whose razor-sharp technique and elastic rhythmic feel defy the bounds of genre. His astounding discography reads like a catchall bin at the record store, with sideman credits for artists as diverse as Herb Alpert and Run-DMC. But for a drummer of such immeasurable rhythmic variation, he can also lay down an undeniably gut-wrenching swing beat. That’s a characteristic he shares with one of his heroes, Elvin Jones, to whom this album is dedicated. Celebrating Elvin Jones is an inspired project, vibrant and emotionally honest, but its greatest success may be that it brings Calhoun’s boundless energy to lesser-known gems of the Jones songbook. Tunes like “EJ Blues,” with its explosive drum fills, “Saramastah,” with its sensitive brushwork, and “Whew,” with its trenchant swing, help paint a portrait of Jones through suggestion and homage, rather than emulation. That’s an artful approach, and Calhoun is wise to have followed it. He’s joined here by a commanding ensemble with bassist Christian McBride, saxophonist Antoine Roney, keyboardist Carlos McKinney and trumpeter Keyon Harrold, all of whom bring depth and dimension to the punchy arrangements. The group is augmented on several tracks by guest stars with connections to Jones’ musical legacy. Czech keyboardist Jan Hammer, a member of Jones’ trio for On The Mountain (1975), joins the band for a propulsive take on “Destiny,” and Senegalese percussionist Doudou N’Diaye Rose, a stylistic ancestor to Jones who died in August 2015, contributes a masterful solo on “Doll Of The Bride.”

1. EJ Blues
2. Whew
3. Harmonique
4. Sarmastah
5. Mahjong
6. Shinjitsu
7. Doll of the Bride (feat. Doudou N'Diaye Rose)
8. Destiny (feat. Jan Hammer)


Miles Brown - Middle Game (2016)

The name of Miles Brown's album "Middle Game" refers to chess, one of his other passions besides music. In the middle part of a chess game, the players invoke the spirit of improvisation, creativity within a given set of parameters, shifts in energy and momentum, and aesthetic beauty. He believes that these values inspired the musicians in the creation of this music.

1. A Bishop 7:23
2. Blunder Wonder 9:44
3. Pawn to E5 4:42
4. I'm in Love with the Girl Next Door 6:46
5. Northern Lights 6:21
6. Midwest Arrival 10:11
7. Lullaby of the Fallen Oaks 4:40
8. Fanelli Bread 5:04
9. Fate Plays with Two Queens 2:57
10. Cheese Wicks 5:46

Andrew Bishop, saxophone
Kris Johnson, trumpet
Mike Jellick, piano
Jesse Kramer, drums


Cheese Wicks

Allen Hinds - Fly South (2016)

L.A.-based Alabama native Allen Hinds releases his long awaited 5th solo CD "Fly South".

Multi layers of slide, acoustic, and ambient guitars support thoughtful, expressive melodies throughout all 10 songs. Once again, Hinds has created cinematic, soulful pallets of music. This time driven by acoustic guitar, and then as a bonus, adds his creative "vocal like" solos on top.

Outstanding performances by Vinnie Coaliuta, Jimmy Johnson, Abe Laboriel and others compliment Hinds' sophisticated unique phrasing and heartfelt compositions. In particular, the interplay between Coaliuta and Hinds, is spectacular. Magical moments sprinkled all through this CD. And you can truly hear Hinds' southern roots.

Daniel Lanois meets Lowell George, meets Jeff Beck, meets Robben Ford, meets Allan Holdsworth - all these influences are heard in Allen Hinds unique style as guitarist and composer.

If you like lush guitar tone, expressive unexpected phrases, dynamic performances, interesting chord changes with memorable melodies, all with absolutely no trace of "smooth jazz", ....then you will love "Fly South"

Allen has also released another album simultaneously with his trio “Wonderland Park”, entitled “Just Get In” (available here) which is a great contrasting compliment to “Fly South”. A stripped down trio, it features simple rootsy compositions that expand into brilliant solo sections – an album of energetic playing and improvisation. Together the two CDs are a strong portrait of a great guitarist.

1. Springs Eternal (feat. Vinnie Coaliuta & Abe Laboriel) 6:20
2. Buckley (feat. Vinnie Coaliuta, Matt Rohde & Jimmy Johnson) 5:15
3. Joni (feat. Vinnie Coaliuta, Matt Rohde, Jimmy Johnson & Rogerio Jardim) 4:18
4. Yonder Hills (feat. Vinnie Coaliuta, Matt Rohde & Jimmy Johnson) 4:58
5. Heartfell (feat. Vinnie Coaliuta, Jimmy Johnson, Matt Rohde & Genevieve Artadi) 2:55
6. Little White Lies (feat. Vinnie Coaliuta & Jimmy Johnson) 4:45
7. Boo's Folly (feat. Vinnie Coaliuta & Jimmy Earl) 4:14
8. Old Mill Pond (feat. Vinnie Coaliuta & Abe Laboriel) 4:02
9. June 15th (feat. Vinnie Coaliuta & Maxayn Lewis) 3:20
10. Blues for Ok Tarpley (feat. Vinnie Coaliuta, Matt Rohde & Abe Laboriel) 6:23

Allen Hinds (guitar)
Vinnie Coaliuta (drums)
Jimmy Earl, Jimmy Johnson, Abe Laboriel (bass)
Matt Rohde (keys)
Maxayn Lewis (vocals)
Genevieve Artadi (vocals)


Springs Eternal

miércoles, 24 de agosto de 2016

Celebrate America's National Parks! Aug 25, 2016 = National Parks Centennial; Oct 14, 2016 = Wadada Leo Smith's America's National Parks

In August 2016,
Cuneiform Records Congratulates the
National Park Service on its Centennial
Announces the Upcoming Release of
America's National Parks,
a Double-Disc Set of Music by
Composer/Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith
with his Golden Quintet


August 25th, 2016
is the
100th Anniversary of the

"The national parks represent an idea born in this country, as uniquely American as the Declaration of Independence and just as radical: that the most magnificent and sacred places in our nation should be preserved, not for royalty or the rich,
but for everyone."
- Ken Burns & Dayton Duncan

An Act to Establish a National Park Service, 8/25/1916.
(General Records of the U.S. Government, National Archives)

On August 25th, 1916, the Organic Act was signed into power by President Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States, creating the National Park Service “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner … as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” 

The idea of creating National Parks - setting aside land to be owned by the American people in perpetuity, for the public's pleasure and national pride - was an American innovation. The first example of this dates back to 1872, when the US federal government under President Ulysses S. Grant designated Yellowstone as a "public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people," creating the first and oldest National Park in the world. The concept of national parks spread worldwide as the US designated additional parks and other nations began to establish their own. The 1916 Organic Act ensured the future of America's National Parks by creating a special federal bureau under the US Department of the Interior to be their stewards, and to manage and preserve them.

Numerous celebrations honoring the National Parks Centennial (National Park Service Centennial) are being held in August 2016, including:

- The National Archives in Washington DC is displaying the Organic Act of 1916 in a special exhibit throughout August.

- Free admission to all National Parks (some usually charge admission) on the weekend of Aug. 25-28

- Music celebrations in various parks

For more info on the National Parks Centennial:

Info on the Organic Act & National Parks from:

“The national parks are more than landmarks, monuments, and territories,
more than mountains, forests, lakes, and geologic wonders. 
They represent a piece of the American soul.”
- Edwin Bernbaum

Cuneiform Records' release of Wadada Leo Smith's America's National Parks auspiciously coincides with the 2016 National Parks Centennial celebrations.

October 14th, 2016 marks the release of
America's National Parks

"My focus is on the... idea of setting aside reserves for common property of the American citizens: those who have passed on before, those who are here in the present, and those who will come in the future. The...collective notion about common property, inheritance, longevity, transformation, and sustaining beauty down the line...” -Wadada Leo Smith

Wadada Leo Smith is one of America's leading composers and trumpeters and one of the most respected creative musicians in the world. His recordings and performances have been acclaimed by the international music press, and the Ankhrasmation scores he creates for some music are now in the art world's spotlight, currently exhibited at the Hammer Museums' Made in L.A. 2016 exhibit and lauded with a 2016 Mohn Award. Smith's prior release on Cuneiform was Ten Freedom Summers, a four-disc set celebrating the American Civil Rights Movement, for which he was named one of the 3 finalists for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Music. America's National Parks follows in the musical, conceptual/political and spiritual footsteps of Ten Freedom Summers, continuing Smith's dedication to celebrating America's best ideas, most monumental achievements, and most noble ideals.

Wadada Leo Smith
America's National Parks
(Cuneiform Records - Rune 430/431)
Release Date: October 14, 2016

"The notion of creating these national parks has been celebrated as the
earliest idea of collecting common ground for the ordinary base of a society. ...it’s a collective notion about common property, inheritance, longevity, transformation, and sustaining beauty down the line, where any American in history coming forward 
can see and have ownership of this common property.”
- Wadada Leo Smith

CD 1
1. New Orleans: The National Culture Park USA 1718 (20:57)
2. Eileen Jackson Southern,1920-2002: A Literary National Park (9:38)
3. Yellowstone: The First National Park and the Spirit of America – The Mountains, Super-Volcano Caldera and Its Ecosystem 1872 (12:14)

CD 2
4. The Mississippi River: Dark and Deep Dreams Flow the River – a National Memorial Park c. 5000 BC (31:07)
5. Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks: The Giant Forest, Great Canyon, Cliffs, Peaks, Waterfalls and Cave Systems 1890 (6:46)
6. Yosemite: The Glaciers, the Falls, the Wells and the Valley of Goodwill 1890 (15:23)


Golden Quintet
Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet, director of the ensemble
Anthony Davis: piano
Ashley Walters: cello
John Lindberg: bass
Pheeroan akLaff: drums
Jesse Gilbert: video artist

Music composed by Wadada Leo Smith.
Published by Kiom Music, ASCAP.

Recorded on May 5, 2016 and mixed by Nick Lloyd
at Firehouse 12 Recording Studio, New Haven, CT.

Mastered by Gene Paul at G&J Audio, Union City, NJ.

Art and Yosemite National Park photography by Jesse Gilbert.
Wadada photo: R.I. Sutherland-Cohen
Anthony photo: Erik Jepsen
Ashley photo: Tim Coburn
John photo: Sotiris Kontos
Pheeroan photo: Jimmy and Deena Katz
Jesse photo: Mona Tian

Package design by Bill Ellsworth

© 2016 Wadada Leo Smith
(p) 2016 Cuneiform Records

Opaluna - Opaluna (August 26, 2016) RIDGEWAY RECORDS

Bridging continents, cultures, languages, and musics, Opaluna weaves together a rich variety of influences and impressions to craft a vivid and decidedly modern spectrum of sound. On their self-titled debut, due out August 26 via Ridgeway Records' Rising Star series, versatile vocalist Susana Pineda and inventive guitarist Lu Salcedo freely explore Latin rhythms, electronic textures, rock grooves, folk expressiveness and genre-spanning jazz freedom in a distinctive and entrancing duo setting.

"Opaluna" combines the name of a multicolored gemstone with the Spanish word for "moon," capturing the duo's hybrid identity in a single word: two languages combining to form one meaning, a combination of vibrant colors and bold luminescence. Like their name, Opaluna's sound is also a portmanteau, bringing together two singular voices into one harmonious sound. Pineda melds the sounds and traditions of her native Colombia with a passion for modern jazz, while Bay Area native Salcedo brings his rock background and penchant for experimentalism together on the frontiers of Latin-inflected jazz.

"Our music is a blend of two cultures, two stories, two backgrounds and two languages creating one," says Pineda. Salcedo continues, "We didn't want to do something that had been done before. Working together, we got very excited about how much we could do."

The pair met while both were students at Berkeley's California Jazz Conservatory. Pineda began studying jazz in her hometown of Medellín but decided to move to the States in 2013 at the encouragement of her mentor, singer Claudia Gómez. She chose CJC due to the program's emphasis on a range of Latin traditions supplementing its core jazz focus. Salcedo came to the school with a more straight-ahead jazz interest, but his partial Mexican heritage led him to begin exploring Latin music. He and Pineda came together in a class on Afro-Venezuelan music and soon recognized their shared passions.

Soon the duo embarked on a journey of sonic experimentation, at first playing music for one another, then arranging jazz standards together to determine a common ground, and finally improvising together in an effort to discover a unified voice. "We would start from scratch, just improvising out of nowhere and seeing what happens," Pineda recalls. "We knew that we didn't want to do the traditional swing thing or play bolero normally. We wanted to blend everything we are, and we wanted to do it in a modern way."

A professor at CJC, Ridgeway Arts founder Jeff Denson heard the burgeoning duo during a lesson and immediately sensed a special chemistry in the nascent pairing. He invited them to record for the San Francisco-based non-profit's Ridgeway Records label, mentoring them through the process from a crowd-funding campaign through recording and post-production, producing the album at the legendary Fantasy Studios and also contributing his remarkable bass sound to three tracks. Fellow CJC faculty member and Bay Area percussion legend John Santos also guests on two cuts.

"I was drawn to Opaluna's music and wanted to produce them because of their creativity and passion," Denson says. "They inhabit a colorful world of sound, beauty and social consciousness that crosses cultural and musical boundaries and really draws you in. Working with Susana and Lu at the California Jazz Conservatory, I found them to be sincere, motivated young artists that care deeply about their craft. I wanted to mentor them further with the creation of their debut recording because I believe in their vision and see their great potential. Now more than ever, the world desperately needs art and music that inspires creative thought, generosity and compassion and Ridgeway Arts seeks to promote artists and projects with this same goal in any way that we can!"

Both members of Opaluna give Denson ample credit for helping to hone their sound and teach them invaluable lessons. "Jeff is an amazing musician, and having the opportunity to engage in a back and forth with him about musical aesthetics was extremely helpful," says Salcedo. To which Pineda adds,  "He always wanted to keep Opaluna and not change who we are. He just wanted to take our music and our sound to another level."

Opening track "Bridges" sums up Opaluna's approach while paying homage to the multi-cultural diversity of their Bay Area home. "It's pretty startling to be able to walk down one street and travel the world at the same time," Salcedo says. "The song is a metaphorical journey form one side of a bridge to the other, and during that trip across the bridge it changes feels and tempos from one cultural subject to another, which is something that really resonates with us because we're trying to bridge all these different stories and backgrounds."

The album is itself a journey, beginning with the chirping samba-funk of the co-written "Bridges" and continuing through the intoxicating sway of "Instinto Ornitológico," with Denson on bass and backing vocals. The Cuban classic "Dos Gardenias" is rendered with a swirling romantic atmosphere, cut through by Salcedo's incisive solo, while Wayne Shorter's "Mahjong" starts as a folk tune with a supple wordless vocal and percussive acoustic guitar before being subsumed in a psychedelic haze.

Salcedo wrote the intense "Does It Rain on the Moon?" with lyrics taken in part from the immortal children's tale "The Little Prince." A fluid Afro-Caribbean groove fuels "Champeterapia," while both the wistful "Young Bonds" and the ethereal "Once We're Gone" were built around Pineda's evocative poetry. Pineda's "Pétalos" is an intimate take on modern jazz, while "Baile de Opuestos" reimagines the childlike standard "Inchworm" as a Colombian joropo.

After spending three weeks touring Colombia this summer, Pineda and Salcedo's collaboration has truly bridged the duo's respective cultures. Their musical partnership has been an ongoing voyage of discovery, resulting in an uncategorizable sound that finds them meeting somewhere in the middle - or, perhaps, some other, completely unexplored new territory. "After all this time playing together," Salcedo says, "everything morphs into what we both need it to be."