Thursday, April 5, 2018

Sam Javitch announces the release concert of "People and Places" for April 15 @ Joe's Pub, NYC

Due for release on April 15, "People and Places" features the Sam Javitch Quartet with special guest saxophonist Rich Perry. This album represents the enormous gratitude Javitch has for the many people and places that have shaped him into the musician and person he is today. Javitch will celebrate the release of "People and Places" at Joe's Pub, NYC on April 15.

A consummate piano prodigy, Javitch first came to the instrument at age 3 after discovering that he had perfect pitch. A natural improviser, Javitch was drawn to jazz at an early age and has established himself as a unique and distinctive voice on the contemporary jazz scene. This is evidenced by his phenomenal debut solo piano effort "Train to Nowhere" (2014), by his many performances at renowned locales such as Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, Joe's Pub, Rockwood Music Hall, 55 Bar, the Jazz Room at William Paterson University,  and now, by the release of "People and Places."

Featuring Adrian Moring on bass, Matt Niedbaski on drums, and the renowned Rich Perry, known for his association with Maria Schneider and George Mraz,  on tenor saxophone, "People and Places" represents the enormous gratitude Javitch has for the many people and places that have shaped him into the musician and person he is today. The CD serves as the perfect outlet for the Manhattan School of Music graduate, who has studied with Mulgrew Miller, James Weidman, Harold Mabern, and Cecil Bridgewater, to express his sincere appreciation.

"I learned how much effort and perseverance it takes to turn a musical idea into a reality. There isn't some button you can push or a lever to pull, but when it's done, it is one of the most gratifying feelings in the world," says Javitch.

"People and Places," featuring seven original compositions, opens with "The Pitch To Rich". Upon hearing Rich Perry play, Javitch envisioned the tenor saxophonist playing his compositions. When Perry agreed to appear on the album, the title to this song was born! Another stand-out track is "Honin Myo"; an ode to Javitch's dear friend and practicing Buddhist, Sasha Ono. "Honin Myo" is a phrase that means "from this moment on". This song speaks to the hope of starting anew each day no matter what adversity one may have faced before. "Parallel Modalites for Parallel Realities" speaks to all the choices we make in life that can lead to completely different paths. People and Places also includes "Lifted: a Song for Grew and Those Who Knew", a tribute to his late mentor Mulgrew Miller, the great jazz pianist.

Javitch is truly honored to bring each of these tracks to life with Moring, Niedbaski and Perry.  Each of these talented individuals, together in quartet form, truly brought their hearts, souls, and fire into every song on this album. He also expresses utmost appreciation to Cotton Coulson, the late award-winning National Geographic photographer responsible for the album cover. Javitch met Coulson on a trip to the Arctic, where the photograph which graces this album's cover was captured. For Javitch, this significant image truly captures the intent of this album: "people and the journey we are all on together."

Sam Javitch says: "I humbly invite you to take this journey with us into my world. If you're ready, let's go."

Sam Javitch is a New York City based jazz pianist and composer who began improvising at age 3 and has been performing jazz since age 11. Sam regularly performs with various ensembles in and around New York City. He has studied with Mulgrew Miller, Garry Dial, James Weidman, Harold Mabern, Cecil Bridgewater, Russ Lossing, Andy Milne, Gerald Cleaver and Tony Malaby. He is a graduate of both William Paterson University and the Manhattan School of Music. He has performed at a number of highly respected venues including Dizzy's Jazz Club Coca-Cola, Joe's Pub, Rockwood Music Hall, The Jazz Room at William Paterson University, 55 Bar, and others. He has opened for Lou Donaldson, and has played with Roy Hargrove, the New York Voices, Rhoda Scott, Oscar Hernandez, among others.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

R.I.P.: André Rodrigues

R.I.P.: André Rodrigues, great Brazilian bassist with whom I had the honor to work in some projects during 20 years: from Dom Um Romão's "Rhythm Traveller" album in 1997 to Maria Luiza's one-month engagement at Bottle's Bar in 2017. He also played with Virginia Rodrigues, Daniela Mercury, Lulu Santos, Vanessa da Mata, Fabio Fonseca, Gilberto Gil, Marina Lima, Pery Ribeiro, Martinho da Vila and many others. Not only a fabulous musician as well as a great human being. My deepest condolences to his family.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

David Hazeltine will appear @ Zinc Bar in April

Book your tickets today!
$20 advance / $25 day of show

The Maguire Twins release U.S. debut album, "Seeking Higher Ground," March 30

Produced by Memphis legend Donald Brown, twins' first U.S. release features Gregory Tardy, Bill Mobley & Aaron Goldberg. Tokyo-born, Hong Kong-raised, and currently Memphis-based, The Maguires are newest members of elite fraternity of jazz brothers.

The Maguire Twins' mastery of their craft as jazz instrumentalists and composers is in sparkling evidence throughout their U.S. debut recording, "Seeking Higher Ground," which will be released by Three Tree Records on March 30. Drummer Carl Seitaro Maguire and bassist Alan Shutaro Maguire, who'll turn 22 on March 19, take their place in the lineage of jazz brothers that includes such illustrious last names as Heath, Farmer, Montgomery, Mangione, Brecker, and Marsalis.

Produced by Donald Brown, the CD finds the twins living up to its title by more than holding their own in the heady company of saxophonist Gregory Tardy, trumpeter Bill Mobley, and pianist Aaron Goldberg. The Maguires contribute two originals each to the program, which includes songs by their bandmates and producer. And without sacrificing cohesiveness, the songs are stylistically diverse.

Tardy's "Theodicy" is a timely commentary on misguided religion. He plays tenor with his usual Coltrane-like intensity and, says Carl, "I try to somewhat embody Elvin Jones, who is one of my heroes." Brown's tricky "The Early Bird Gets the Short End of the Stick" boasts sudden time shifts and dramatic swoops that both twins laughingly said they were greatly relieved to have handled after numerous attempts.

Carl's "Machi no Michi" (translation: "The Road of the Town") is an elegant tribute to his Japanese origins, as reflected in the Japanese scale in the bassline and the traditional taiko drum feel in the composer's playing. "I love the taiko drum's huge sound and the commanding way it is played," says Carl, who tunes his snares tightly to highlight the melody.

Goldberg's composition, "Shed," was the first modern jazz tune the Maguires learned to play, having heard the pianist play it as both sideman and leader. "It has been one of our favorites for the longest time," says Carl. "Just watching Aaron count off his tunes helped me internalize time, made my time stronger," says Alan.
Born in Tokyo in 1996 to a Japanese mother and an American father who both worked in the airline industry, identical twins Carl Seitaro Maguire (above left) and Alan Shutaro Maguire (above right) were raised in Hong Kong from age 3 and moved with their family, at 15, to musically rich Memphis. There they enrolled at the Stax Music Academy and started playing jazz. "Memphis is where most of our musical growing happened," says Carl. "I can't imagine us getting to where we are if we hadn't come here."

They learned to improvise listening to musicians at jazz clubs. "The music just took us over," says Carl. "When I heard a bassist, I would tell Alan about it. When he heard a drummer, he would make suggestions to me based on what he saw and heard. We helped each other out.

 Maguire Twins "We were open to criticism from each other as well as ideas," he adds. "Friends don't want to be too harsh, but we can criticize each other as much as we want."

Saxophonist Kirk Whalum, then artist in residence at Stax, had much to do with their development as did Donald Brown, whom they met when he came to scout students as a faculty member at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. They went on to study there with him, Gregory Tardy, and bassist Jon Hamar, who composed one of the new album's heartfelt ballads, "Clarity."

"It all goes back to Donald," says Alan. "He has kept us motivated. He's always giving us something new to work on, new CDs to check out, keeps us listening to all kinds of music and encourages us to get as many lessons from as many people as we can."

When the Maguire family made its annual visit to Japan to visit the twins' maternal grandmother in the inland town of Kitaakita City, the boys performed in various spots, building a following among local musicians as well as fans. Requests for CDs led them to record, at 18, "The Sound of Music," a demo-style album released in 2014.

With each tour of Japan and Hong Kong, where they began performing on an annual basis in 2013, their Asian following has grown. So has the talent pool they draw from over there. The twins have performed with artists such as guitarist Yosuke Onuma, trombonist Shigeharu Mukai, pianist Yuichi Inoue, and saxophonist Yosuke Sato in Japan as well as pianist Ted Lo in Hong Kong.

"Now when we go back to Japan," says Carl, "where jazz has been really important to a lot of people for a long time, we do so as individuals who really appreciate this music. It's been quite an awakening for us, and it keeps getting more fun."

Photography: Jamie Harmon

Duduka Da Fonseca, Helio Alves & Maucha Adnet @ Dizzy's Club Coca Cola this week, March 8-11

(Helio Alves & Duduka Da Fonseca)

Thursday-Sunday, March 8 - 11 - Sets at 7:30 and 9:30 pm 
Dizzy's Club Coca Cola - Frederick P. Rose Hall @ Jazz at Lincoln Center (Broadway at 60th Street, 5th Floor)

Reservations: 212-258-9595 or -9795.
Online reservations:


“Duduka is a fantastic drummer, he has worked with me and I love the way he plays.”  
Antonio Carlos Jobim, Rio de Janeiro, Spring 94      

"Duduka Da Fonseca is one of the very few drummers, or perhaps the only drummer, who has found his own unique voice by combining the two traditions. His command of Brazilian and American rhythms and his ability to integrate them so seamlessly is truly innovative.  
With music in mind, Sincerely,"  
Billy Hart

“Da Fonseca divulgues a keen awareness of where Brazilian Jazz has been and where it’s headed”
Todd Jenkins, DownBeat Magazine

"[Alves has] subtlety, musicianship and extraordinary improvisational facility..." "...outstanding capabilities as a melodic improviser..."
Robert L. Doerschuk, DownBeat Magazine

"Alves plays with a gravity and a stylistic flair that's truly impressive."
Phillip Van Vleck, Billboard Magazine

"Alves executes his feats with unhurried grace, even at very fast tempos. There is an aptitude that, if not exclusive of Brazil, has reached its highest expression there: the communication of a subtle energy embodying a life- affirming message that life is transitory."
Thomas Conrad, Jazz Times Magazine
"Adnet's voice is an emotionally powerful instrument capable of firmness or fragility, depending on the situation. When the tempo slows down and the lights are low, she reveals an attractive vocal wave—more a quiver than out-and-out vibrato—that heightens the intensity in her delivery; this level of directness and honesty transcends mere language when it appears."
- Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz

“Maucha and I have travelled the world with the Banda Nova since 1984. She is a marvelous singer. Her voice is deep, rich, mysterious. It makes me long for the Brazilian forest. Maucha is intelligent and comes from a very musical family. She is a good girl, wonderful woman, a great artist”
Kiss from your fan, 
Antonio Carlos Jobim

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Jazz Lines announces the release of "Gaslight" from Duke Pearson's "Sweet Honey Bee"

Jazz Lines Publications continue to expand the available repertoire of one of Blue Note Records' central figures, Duke Pearson. During the 1960s, he wrote, led small groups and big bands, arranged and produced for others, and was even an A&R man. Pearson was a foundational figure during the label's incredible hard bop period.

"Gaslight" is another swinging, melodic, memorable Pearson tune. Jazz Lines has added it to the rest of the charts they have published from this great record in a specially-priced five chart set at nearly 25% off of retail. Look for more Duke Pearson charts to be released soon: "Wahoo," "E.S.P.," "Empathy," and small group versions of "Amanda" and "Bedouin."

Working closely for nearly a decade with Duke's son Anthony, Jazz Lines now publish over two dozen of his fantastic charts, both from his original source materials and from Jazz Lines Publications' transcribing staff, all with Anthony's full and very generous cooperation.

Click here to order:

Friday, March 2, 2018

"Zoot Fest" with David Libeman, Bill Goodwin and other jazz masters honoring Zoot Sims

Thursday, March 29, 2018
Cecilia S. Cohen Recital Hall, 
Fine and Performing Arts Building, East Stroudsburg University

7 pm - A Tribute to Al and Zoot: David Liebman, Dave Leonhardt, Paul Rostock, Bill Goodwin
8 pm - Music from the Benny Carter recording: "Further Definitions" featuring Nelson Hill, Neil Wetzel, Dave Demsey, Craig Yaremko, Jay Rattman
Admission: $30 General / $10 Student
Deer Head Inn Jam Session starting at 9 p.m. – No charge

Contact Information:
Matt Vashlishan
200 Prospect Street
East Stroudsburg, PA 18301- 2999
Phone: 570-422-3828

A relaxed evening of music, mirth and remembrance to benefit the Al Cohn Memorial Jazz Collection at ESU

Tix and infos:

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Book of the Month - "This is Hip: The Life of Mark Murphy"

"A 360-degree perspective on Mark Murphy's uniqueness and authenticity. I liked the clear narrative and Peter Jones' probing, questioning approach; and the section on Murphy’s uninhibited, no-safety-net teaching methods is unputdownable." - Sebastian Scotney, editor of London Jazz News

With publication coinciding with Mark Murphy's birthday on March 14, Equinox is proud to announce "This is Hip: The Life of Mark Murphy" by jazz singer and journalist Peter Jones.

When my much missed friend Mark Murphy died in October 2015, the world lost one of the greatest jazz singers in history. Murphy was the last of his kind, a hipster of the Kerouac generation, who rejected the straight life of prosperity and numb consumerism. With a catalog of more than 40 albums under his own name (for such labels as Decca, Riverside, Milestone, Muse, Verve and HighNote), Mark Murphy was a consummate improviser, who never sang a song the same way twice.

He could have enjoyed a successful mainstream career in the vein of Andy Williams, Johnny Matthis or Jack Jones. But his ambition was greater – to be a jazz artist, to rebel against the commercial music industry and to carry the jazz vocal flame wherever it led him. Among the sidemen on his albums were Bill Evans, Art Farmer, Larry Coryell, David Matthews, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, David Sanborn, Bill Mays, Frank Morgan, Claudio Roditi, Vince Lateano, Mark Egan, Gerry Niewood, Gene Bertoncini, Tom Harrell, Jim Hall, Wynton Kelly, Urbie Green, Al Cohn, Clark Terry, Till Bronner, Nan Schwartz and the brazilian fusion trio Azymuth.

Murphy was a master of scat and vocalese, of songwriting and the spoken word. He expanded the jazz singing repertoire, adding his own lyrics to instrumentals like John Coltrane’s "Naima," Freddie Hubbard’s "Red Clay," and Oliver Nelson’s "Stolen Moments." Unrivaled as an interpreter of ballads, he was able to express longing and regret to a degree lacking in any other jazz singer.

For years he roamed the world, playing thousands of gigs. Rediscovered in the Eighties by a new audience of jazz dancers, and again in the 21st century by a digital generation who invited him to guest on their recordings, he remains a crucial though unjustly neglected figure in vocal jazz.

I had the honor to be his friend for over three decades. Mark used to stay in my house in Rio de Janeiro when he toured Brazil in the 80s, sometimes taking his touring band with him. And everytime I visited California, he took me to have dinner in his huge apartment in San Francisco, where he lived till moving to NY in the mid-90s.

"This Is Hip" is more than a biography: it also explores Murphy’s innovative approaches both to singing and to the teaching of singers. Based on numerous interviews with those who knew him best, the book delves into a performing and recording career that spanned 60 years and earned him five Grammy nominations.

Peter Jones is a jazz singer and journalist based in London. During the making of his first album, One Way Ticket to Palookaville, he developed a serious interest in the work of Mark Murphy, which has continued ever since. He reviews concerts and CDs and conducts interviews for London Jazz News. His second album Utopia was released in 2016 and his third Under the Setting Sun in 2017.
(Arnaldo DeSouteiro and Mark Murphy @ Arnaldo's house)

Classical CD of the Month - "Carlos Franzetti & Allison Brewster Franzetti: Buenos Aires Noir"

Classical CD of the Month
Carlos Franzetti and Allison Brewster Franzetti with City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra: "Buenos Aires Noir" (Amapola Records AR 9817) 2018
Rating: ***** (music performance & sonic quality)

Release Date: February 1st, 2018
Produced by James Fitzpatrick
Recording Engineer: Jan Holzner @ Smecky Music Studio (Prague, Czech Republic) on September 15, 2016
Mixed & Mastered by Gareth Williams

Composed & Conducted by Carlos Franzetti
Piano: Allison Brewster Franzetti
City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Orchestra Contractor: Tadlow Music Ltd.
Concertmaster: Lucie Svehlova
Assistant to Conductor: Stania Vomackova

A sublime three-movement symphonic poem for piano and orchestra. Franzetti reaches his peak as a classical composer, a master in the same level of Brouwer, Scriabin, Delius and Ogerman, while his wife Allison displays her virtuosistic talents as one of the world's greatest pianists.

"This work is based on my earlier tango ballet Dante Porteño," says Carlos, "and takes place during the last three nights of Carnaval in the Buenos Aires of the 1970's as the dirty war between the urban guerrillas and military juntas reached its fiercest point."

Instrumental Jazz CD of the Month - "Carlos Ezequiel: Circular"

Instrumental Jazz CD of the Month
Carlos Ezequiel: "Circular" (Tratore)
***** (musical performance)
**** (sonic quality)

Produced by Carlos Ezequiel for Engrenagens Prod. Artísticas
Recorded by Carlos KK Akamine @ Estúdio Cachuera (São Paulo, SP, Brazil) on August 18 & September 09, 2014
Assistant Engineer: Helio Pisca
Mixed by Carlos Ezequiel @ Luca Studios (Maceió, Alagoas, Brazil)
Mastered by Dave Darlington @ Bass Hit Studios (New York, NY) in May 2017
Cover Photo: Carlos Ezequiel
Liner Photos: Victor Kobayashi
Graphics: Luciano Murino

Arranged by Carlos Ezequiel & Gustavo Bugni
Featuring: Carlos Ezequiel (drums), David Binney (alto sax), Lage Lund (guitar), Gustavo Bugni (acoustic piano), Gui Duvignau (acoustic bass)

São Paulo-based drummer, composer, arranger and producer Carlos Ezequiel works with Brazilian music and jazz since 1992. Born in Alagoas, in the northeast of Brazil, Carlos performed there actively in the early 90's. In 1996 he won a scholarship to study at Berklee College of Music, in Boston, where he got his Bachelor's degree in 1999. In 2014, he got his Master's degree from Universidade Federal da Bahia, presenting a research on Polyrhythms and Odd-Meters applied to Brazilian Rhythms.

His first CD, “Images” (with guitarist Lupa Santiago), was nominated for the Latin Grammy 2002 as “Best Latin Jazz Album”. With group Sinequanon, Carlos recorded four albums: “Sinequanon” (2004), “Telescópio” (2006), “Horizonte Artificial” (2008) and “Ao Vivo no Jazz nos Fundos” (2017). Carlos also plays with renowned Brazilian bassist Sizão Machado, and in the new group of legendary artist Airto Moreira.

As a performer, Carlos has played in Europe, Asia, South America, U.S.A., and all over Brazil. He's been a featured player at the Hong Kong Jazz Festival, Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Atina Jazz Festival (Italy), Schelde Jazz Festival (Holland), Festival de Jazz de La Plata (Argentina), Cascavel Jazz Festival (Brazil), among many others. He was a member of Finnish sax player Pekka Pylkkanen`s Global Unit group, Irish bassist Ronan Guilfoyle`s group, and the Thomas Walbum & Thomas Maintz Brazilian Quintet in Denmark.

In 2001, Carlos was nominated for the Visa Music Award in Brazil as Best Instrumentalist. He has been a sideman for such jazz artists as Lage Lund, Kurt Rosenwinkel, David Binney, David Liebman, besides many Brazilian jazz artists like Fernando Correa, Nelson Faria, Marcelo Coelho, and Daniel D'Alcântara.

As a producer, Carlos worked on “A Saga da Travessia” (Letieres Leite & Orkestra Rumpilezz), which won 3 awards at the Premio da Musica Brasileira 2017, including Best Album. He also produced Airto Moreira's new album, “Aluê” (2017), on which he also played drums.

Carlos is a faculty member at Faculdade Souza Lima in São Paulo, and is the author of “Melodic Interpretation for the Drumset”, “Baiao and Northeastern Rhythms”, and “Brazilian Music in Odd-Meters”, all released worldwide by Advance Music.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Lou Caputo's Not So Big Band live in NY, March 6

Join us for another spectacular evening of swinging jazz you'll never forget this coming Tuesday evening, March 6 at the John Birks Gillespie Auditorium in the New York City Baha'i Center at 53 East 11th Street (between University Place & Broadway), when saxophonist Lou Caputo brings his swingin' Not So Big Band to the stage.  There are 2 shows: 8 and 9:30 p.m.

Lou Caputo, a native of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has been a professional musician for over thirty years. He has done almost every kind of job that a musician can be asked to do. A superb reedman (saxophones, clarinets and flutes), he has performed in show bands with the likes of Lou Rawls, Frankie Valli, Shirley Basey, Jack Jones, Bobby Short, Frankie Avalon, and a host of others. As well as the many of the famous Motown acts like the Temptations and the Four Tops. Aside from this he has performed along side of Salsa legends like Candido, Bobby Sanabria and Lou Perez.

However, playing jazz is really closest to Lou's heart. He has had the opportunity to perform with people like trumpeter Richard Williams, pianists Duke Jordon and Jaki Byard, drummers Walter Perkins and Mousey Alexander (in his short-lived big band), vocalist Joe "BeBop" Carroll and Dakota Staton, bassist Chris White (including a Carnegie Hall appearance).  He has spent time in the Glen Miller band under the direction of Clem DeRosa as well as the Harry James Big Band.  He has had the good fortune to record with jazz legend Dr. Billy Taylor on guitarist Ray Rivera's album Night Wind.

Lou has had the pleasure of performing in the Richie Cole Octet. Another high point is playing Birdland with the Ellington Band under the direction of Paul Ellington and Jack Jeffers. Through the years Lou has appeared in many of the area's leading jazz clubs as both a leader and side man.  He also played for former President Bill Clinton on the occasion of Clinton's 50th birthday.

Admission is 15.00, 10.00 for students.
Tickets will be sold at the door, or call 212-222-5159 for reservations and information.
For more about the NYSAJE and other acts at "Jazz Tuesdays", check out

Jazz Tuesdays in the John Birks Gillespie Auditorium
The New York Baha'i Center
53 East 11th Street (between University Place & Broadway)
Two shows: 8:00 and 9:30 p.m.

Jazz Tuesdays is funded in part from the Wilbur, Dorothy, and France Rose Davis Family Fund; the Hunt Family Fund; the DeChristopher Family Trust; and Dr. Margie Baker, Jazz Vocalist and Educator.
Lou Caputo (Alto, Soprano & Baritone Saxophones, Clarinet, Flute and Alto Flute)
Geoffry Burke & Virginia Mayhew (Saxophone)
John Eckert & Dave Smith (Trumpet)
Jason Ingram (Trombone)
Dale Turk (Tuba)
Bill Crow (Bass)
Joel Perry (Guitar)
Don Stein (Piano)
Mike Campenni & Rudy Petschauer (Drums)
Warren Smith (Vibraphone)
Eddie Montalvo & Leopoldo Fleming (Percussion)

Monday, February 26, 2018

Tomorrow: Laurie Antonioli in concert with guest Theo Bleckmann @ California Jazz Conservatory

Come celebrate the opening of the new performance hall and campus expansion at the California Jazz Conservatory! 
Laurie Antonioli In Concert - Friday, March 2nd, 8pm 
California Jazz Conservatory (2040 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA)

One of the world's greatest jazz vocalists in the contemporary scene, Laurie Antonioli will be joined by Matt Clark, Dan Feiszli, Jason Lewis, Sheldon Brown, Dave MacNab and very special guest CJC Artist-in-Residence Theo Bleckmann!
(Theo Bleckmann)

"Singer Antonioli is a rare talent, too rarely seen beyond the Bay Area." - Don Heckman, The International Review of Music 

Spanish Harlem Orchestra celebrates 15 years with "Anniversary," out in April

The 2x GRAMMY® Award winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra will be celebrating fifteen years with the release of their aptly titled sixth album "Anniversary," due out on April 16th on ArtistShare.

The release show will be Le Poisson Rouge in NYC on April 4.

Other dates include:
May 25-26 at Yoshi's Oakland, CA
June 21-24 at Dimitrious Jazz Alley, Seattle, WA
June 25 at Vancouver International Jazz Festival
June 26 at Victoria International Jazz Festival

On "Anniversary," the powerhouse 13-piece all-star salsa big band demonstrates why they are the "the leading light of the salsa reconstruction movement" (Newsday) by doing what they do best: hard-hitting, no-holds-barred New York salsa that is both contemporary and reverent to its rich musical history.

Since their inception 15 years ago, Spanish Harlem Orchestra (SHO), under the direction of pianist, composer and arranger Oscar Hernández, has earned its reputation as the true voice of the barrio with intricate arrangements and pulsating rhythms that are steeped in the authentic salsa tradition. Their high-energy performances have delighted audiences across the globe from Asia to Australia, from Latin America to Europe.

Grounded in the past, but with a focused eye on the future, Spanish Harlem Orchestra continues to play an integral role in ensuring salsa dura ("hard salsa") is not just alive, but a thriving musical force. "Over the course of 15 years, the consistent thread in each of our records has been the hardcore rhythm, sophisticated arrangements and a lot of care toward producing quality music with high integrity for our genre," says Hernández.

Each member of Spanish Harlem Orchestra has a significant connection to the authentic salsa tradition. It begins with Hernández, who has long been considered one of the most prominent musicians on the Latin, salsa and Latin-jazz music scene. Hernández's musical legacy can be traced back to the 1970's, a time in which he performed with a who's who of salsa legends including Tito Puente, Machito, Celia Cruz, Ray Barretto, Rubén Blades, Conjunto Libre, and Willie Colon. Later, Hernández went on to become the Musical Director for Paul Simon as well as the orchestrator and arranger for Gloria Estefan.
Along with showcasing the vocal prowess of long-time members Marco Bermudez and Carlos Cascante, Anniversary displays the talents of one of Latin music's most promising up and coming stars in vocalist and flutist Jeremy Bosch. On his recording debut for SHO, the 27-year-old talent contributes, in the words of Hernández, an "instant new dynamic and energy to the band". One of Bosch's brightest vocal moments can be heard on the album's second offering "Yo Te Prometo" and his virtuosic flute playing can be heard on "Goza El Ritmo".

While SHO's previous album featured jazz greats Chick Corea and Joe Lovano, Anniversary allows the band to speak for themselves over the course of 13 lively tracks. Standout moments include the album opener "Esa Nena", which swings to no end while highlighting SHO's signature sophisticated arrangements, and Hernández's "Goza El Ritmo", which will instantly bring listeners to their feet.

Other noteworthy flashes include three modern arrangements of salsa classics: the bolero "La Media Vuelta" is reworked in a salsa style featuring 3-part harmonies and a simmering brass section, while "Y Deja" (Ruben Blades/Willie Colon) and "Guaracha Y Bembe" (Joe Cuba/Cheo Feliciano) are given contemporary updates with a fresh flair. On all their recordings, SHO includes some Latin Jazz. This time jazz trumpet legend Randy Brecker is a featured guest on Hernández's original song "Somos Uno".

Produced by Hernández and co-produced by SHO trombonist and 2018 GRAMMY® Nominee Doug Beavers, "Anniversary" builds on the dynamic legacy built by their previous five releases, which have garnered four GRAMMY®  nominations and two wins (in 2004 for sophomore album "Across 110th Street" and again in 2010 for "Viva La Tradicion"). Considered "virtuosic journeymen who are one of New York's great musical resources" (The New York Times), SHO has expanded greatly from their home turf of Harlem to some of the world's premiere stages including the Sydney Opera House, the Playboy Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, and many others.

To celebrate the release of Anniversary, Spanish Harlem Orchestra will be performing on Wednesday, April 4th, at Le Poisson Rouge located at 158 Bleeker Street in New York City. More information, including booking, can be found at

Tonight only: Gilad Hekselman live @ Zinc, NY

Rob Clearfield's "Wherever You're Starting From" coming out today!

Woolgathering Records, the label headed by bassist & composer Matt Ullery, announces the February 26, 2018 release of "Wherever You're Starting From," the fourth album by imaginative and innovative pianist Rob Clearfield. Wherever You're Starting From is available for order now on

On the Chicago native's second solo piano endeavor, Clearfield explores his fascination for a compositional approach to improvisation, which is highlighted through the albums distinct and dynamic sonic landscape. "My hope is that some of the music sounds through-composed, some sounds like simple songs, and all of it sounds spontaneous."

Clearfield's compositions have been strongly influenced by his friend and colleague Makaya McCraven, the great Chicago-based drummer whose 2015 double LP "In The Moment" (International Anthem) is comprised of excerpts from live improvised performances. While touring together, Clearfield and Makaya had an in-depth discussion about an intriguing and innovative new approach to composing; improvising complete pieces by focusing more on individual moments.

"If a beginning or ending is slow to arrive, but a fully-formed spontaneous idea is captured in the middle, it's a success!"

This new idea gave way to a renewed sense of freedom, both in the studio and during the editing process by allowing Clearfield to develop a strong ear for the elements of a piece that worked, and to then utilise, edit and produce them to a high standard, regardless of the other parts that didn't make the cut. As a result, two tracks off the album begin with a fade-in, and one ends with a fade-out, highlighting short pieces which were originally inside larger pieces. The prologue and epilogue of the album were also chosen with this unique improvisational production approach at the forefront. Clearfield introduces and closes "Wherever You're Starting From" with two takes of the same song.

Clearfield's progressive and virtuosic compositional skill is rooted in both classical and jazz influences. Since the release of his debut album A Thousand Words in 2009, the established composer spent a considerable amount of time studying the canon of classical piano music, particularly the romantics (Brahms, Chopin, Rachmoninoff) and the impressionists (Ravel, Debussy).

"Their influence, particularly in regards to the textural palette of the piano, is at the forefront of the sound of this record."

This 12-track opus includes two freshly interpreted tracks by two of Clearfield's musical heroes: Johannes Brahms and John Coltrane. The inclusion of their music in this project represents the varied musical traditions Clearfield has spent his life studying: classical and jazz, composition and improvisation, solo piano and group playing, European music and Black-American music. While the Brahms piece is played in a straightforward manner, sans improvisation, Coltrane's "Giant Steps" is only faintly recognizable at first; the melody doesn't enter for several minutes, and the rhythm is stripped away almost completely.

Called " of [Chicago's] most enjoyably unpredictable players" by Neil Tesser, Clearfield has taken part in a number of highly creative and genre-bending releases since his emergence on the scene over a decade ago. They including several releases with Matt Ulery (including 2016's Festival, with Ulery's Loom/Large, 2014's In The Ivory, and 2006's Music Box Ballerina, to name just a few), as well as with Dan Bruce (2017's Earthshine), Adam Larson (last year's Second City), and Jon Deitemyer (2016's Tall Tales), among others. Clearfield's previous releases include Islands (2016) on ears&eyes Records, The Long And Short of It (2013), a collaborative EP with Bethany Hamilton The Beauty That We Live In (2010)  and his debut A Thousand Words (2009).

With each of his musical endeavours, Clearfield has always strived to be as expressive and as personal as possible. However, Wherever You're Starting From represents a new level of vulnerability and exposure, that until now, Clearfield had not yet experienced with any past venture.

"Ultimately, I came to view this work as an autobiography of sorts. My trio and quintet records are like works of fiction, creating new worlds and characters in my own image. This, on the other hand, is more of a documentary. What you're hearing is who I am, nothing more and nothing less."

In anticipation of the February release, Clearfield is delighted to announce a mid-west Spring tour.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Anna Mjöll live in NY, March 3!

LA-based Icelandic Jazz Princess Anna Mjöll makes her debut at FEINSTEIN'S/54Below in New York City on March 3! Hoping to see all my NY friends there! 😊
For tickets go to:

Charles Carlini Presents "Dangerous Rhythms" with T.J. English & Bobby Sanabria

Join bestselling author T.J. English as he curates a series of the best in contemporary Latin Jazz to celebrate the launch of his latest book, "The Corportaion."
Featuring Bobby Sanabria & Sexteto Ibiano @ Zinc Bar, NYC
April 5m 7pm & 8:30pm
Tickets: $20 advance / $25 day of show

Fernando Garcia CD release show for "Guasábara Puerto Rico" on March 10, NY

Fernando García Band: Guasábara Puerto Rico - CD Release Concert

Puerto Rican drummer, composer, and bandleader plans to release his third album this year. It showcases his talents as a drummer and composer, as well as his ability to unite an amazing group of energetic musicians from the New York City Latin-Jazz scene. It also features the Grammy-nominated and MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenón.

"Puerto Rico native García organically blends folkloric Bomba rhythms and Latin jazz in a myriad of satisfying ways. His simpático crew of youngbloods push the envelope on García's third album as a leader and debut for ZOHO music." - Bill Milkowski, Jazz Times

The concert will be 9 pm at Teatro Latea: 107 Suffolk St, New York, NY 10002
Cover: $15

Blues guitar legend Chris Cain live in Pasadena, tonight!

Friendly Warning to All Blues Lovers!

Come see Chris Cain tonight, Saturday, Feb 24, 2018 at Big Mama's Rib Shack in Pasadena. 
The show starts at 8 pm.  Show up any time after 7 pm for tickets at the door, or get tickets in advance at

The long-anticipated return of Chris Cain this weekend means one thing.  All three shows will may SELL OUT in advance. They expect a mob scene at each show!
Cadillac Zack Presents
*** CHRIS CAIN ***
FEB. 24, 25 & 26, 2018


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Spin Cycle further refines its adventuresome sound on "Assorted Colors," set for April 6 release

One of the freshest sounding bands to emerge on the jazz scene in this or any decade, Spin Cycle follows up its critically acclaimed eponymous debut from 2016 with the release on April 6 of "Assorted Colors" (Sound Footing Records). The new recording, coming after two years of intensive touring that further refined their distinctive take on jazz, sustains the praise bestowed by DownBeat's Ed Enright in his rave review of their first album that hailed the band as "a cohesive unit that commands an exceptional stylistic range and exhibits a go-for-broke attitude."

On their sophomore release, the piano-less quartet delivers more of the "bright melodic lines, deep-seated grooves, catchy rhythmic devices and sophisticated harmony" cited by Enright, who praised them for "improvisations run wild, as soloists embrace aggressive and daring ideas from the realms of modal jazz, free-jazz, second-line and soul, not to mention good old-fashioned swing."

Founded in 2014 and co-led by drummer Scott Neumann and saxophonist Tom Christensen, who have known and played with each other in various settings for well over 25 years, Spin Cycle is rounded out by guitarist Pete McCann and bassist Phil Palombi. The four musicians are mainstays of the New York jazz scene.

The title "Assorted Colors" alludes in part to the broad and eclectic stylistic palettes Christensen and Neumann each draw upon while crafting the compositions that define Spin Cycle's musical direction. (Christensen contributed six tunes to the session, Neumann five.) "One of our aims was to develop the songs not by adding sections but by building on the form itself via solos or concepts," Neumann says. "We wrote things that got to the heart of the matter, but also were vehicles that allowed us to stretch," Christensen adds.
 (L. to r.: Phil Palombi, Tom Christensen, Scott Neumann, Pete McCann)

Spin Cycle's decision to use a guitar rather than a piano in the band enables the creation of unusual blends of airy textures that are a trademark of the band's tonal tapestries. "Guitar chords are more sparse than piano chords, they're more open sounding," says Christensen.

Among the Christensen tunes on "Assorted Colors" are the arresting minor-key "Possum Dark," in his words a "swaggering bad ass blues" named after the enforcer in the post-apocalyptic novella Ginny Sweethips' Flying Circus, and the stripped-down, minimalism-streaked "Two Pan Man," on which he lets it rip on tenor while guitarist McCann, according to the composer, "sounds almost like a second wind player."

Neumann's compositions include the sharp-angled, Monk-inspired "Break Tune," whose infectious swing and sense of fun provide a spirited introduction to the album. Neumann, who spent a week in Cuba in 2017 studying with Cuban drummers, also composed "To the Puente," an intriguing blend of the son montuno and modern mambo accents à la Chick Corea. "Affirmation" has a cool, rolling vibe recalling some of Pat Metheny's classic recordings.

Tom Christensen studied classical music and jazz at both undergraduate and graduate levels at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, and moved to New York in 1989. For eight years, he was a member of the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra, appearing on five of their albums. He also has played on such notable recordings as Joe Lovano's "Celebrating Sinatra," Rufus Reid's "Quiet Pride," and the David Liebman Big Band's "Tribute to Wayne Shorter." His 2000 debut, "Gualala," and 2002 effort, "Paths," team him with multi-reedist Charles Pillow. His other recordings include "Americana" (2003) and "Kailash" (2007), on which he joins the Kailash Trio.

Scott Neumann attended North Texas State and, before moving to New York in 1988, played with the Woody Herman Orchestra for a year. On his 2006 album, "Osage County," he led a quartet including pianist David Berkman and saxophonist Sam Newsome; he recorded "Blessed" in 2014 as part of the Neu3 Trio, with Michael Blake and Mark Helias. A busy player on the New York scene who has collaborated with such luminaries as Kenny Barron and Ben Allison, Neumann has also accrued impressive credits as a vocal accompanist, a Broadway musician, and educator (he directs the drum studies program at Lehigh University).

Spin Cycle will be performing a CD release show at Smalls, NYC, on Friday 4/13. They've also scheduled several appearances in Ohio, including a concert and master class at Youngstown State (Bliss Hall), in Youngstown, 1-4pm on 4/5; concert at Andrews House, Delaware, OH 4/6; concert with Denison University Jazz Band, Granville, 8pm on 4/7; and the Bop Stop in Cleveland, 4/7.

Photography by Dennis Connors
CD graphic design by Fanny Chiari-Gotschall
Web Site:

R.I.P.: Didier Lockwood (1956-2018)

(born 11 February 1956 in Calais, France;
died 18 February 2018 in Paris, France)

Drummer Jonathan Barber announces the release of his debut album "Vision Ahead"

"Vision Ahead" due out May 11, 2018
Release show May 10, 2018 at Rockwood Music Hall, NYC

Featuring Taber Gable (piano), Andrew Renfroe (guitar), Godwin Louis (saxophone) Matt Dwonszyk (bass), Denise Renee (vocals) & Sasha Foster (vocals)

Hartford, Connecticut-native Jonathan Barber is proud to announce his arrival with the Friday, May 11th release of his highly-anticipated debut album "Vision Ahead." Featuring pianist Taber Gable, guitarist Andrew Renfroe, saxophonist Godwin Louis, bassist Matt Dwonszyk, and vocalists Denise Renee and Sasha Foster (collectively and eponymously known as the album title), "Vision Ahead" is Barber's product of six years spent cultivating a distinct and immaculately tailored sound with like minded musicians who, together, now present themselves as an undeniable, sonically-solid unit. "Vision Ahead" serves as a showcase of the fresh prospects that can be envisioned and the greatness that can be achieved when one is forced to face unanticipated, desolating life-challenges.

Upon hearing the devastating and unexpected news of his one and only brother's death in November 2016, Barber struggled to comprehend life, and the purpose of his own, individual fore-planned and foreseen envisage slipped out of his understanding. 

"I became confused with the direction that life was taking me and numb to the new norm that instantly presented itself to me; for it was that stand still moment the words "Vision Ahead" became the theme of my next chapter in life."

Sonically, "Vision Ahead" not only paints a picture of fresh perspective but one of perseverance. Aside achieving goals through adversity, it is a creation of polished craft and art that strives to breakthrough in a music industry that lacks the attention of an intellectual artist.

"My music not only helped me through my grieving process, but sparked a fresh musical style in hopes of carrying on the spirit of this American art form; jazz."
Eight out of the twelve tracks on "Vision Ahead" were personally composed by the young musician, named Best "Up & Coming" Drummer in the 2018 Modern Drummer Readers Poll. "Think On These Things" was the first composition that Jonathan Barber wrote for the album back in 2015. At the time there were no lyrics written but Barber wanted to write a ballad that reflected upon positive thinking. Inspired by the scripture Philippians 4:8, Barber aimed to portray the message that "you are what you eat and you become what you think." After the passing of his brother the lyrics came to him.

The rhythm of the title track's intro played by Andrew Renfroe lays perfectly with the syllables of the name "Vision Ahead" (spelling out the word "Vision" and saying the word "Ahead"). As the title track lifts into solos, the band provides an open section for Renfroe to let his fiery lines ring in the air.  Towards the end of Renfroe's solo he gives a call and response cue for Godwin Louis to step up to the plate and swing over the classic chord changes of Benny Golson's "Stablemates".  Once Louis is finished telling his story he cues the band to go to the bridge of "Vision Ahead" which is looped for Taber Gable's solo. Lastly, the solo section ends with Barber soloing over the intro creating a pulsating vamp. Keeping the "Vision Ahead" theme Barber sets a whirlwind of rhythms on top of this syncopated vamp. Collectively these musicians demonstrate how to take the language played by Jazz Masters and interprets it into an original composition.     

Originally written by pianist Eldar Djangirov, the seventh track off the album, "Airport" lifts off into the sky from the start. While flying to Europe on a music tour Jonathan Barber was listening to this song played by Djangirov and his trio, and inspired by the melody played in the high register on the piano, Barber began to set lyrics to this classic gem. The lyrics have a double meaning. In one sense they shine light on the function of an airplane; flying all over the world, transporting people to various destinations and living its purpose in the sky. The second message behind the lyrics is one of encouragement, to chase dreams. "Airport" is well executed, presenting a song that expresses vision and freedom.

"Believing in the Reunion" was the last composition that Jonathan Barber brought to the band. Its initial propose was designed to be the final statement to another composition. At the time it just seemed like a blueprint. Close to the end of day one in the studio, Barber wanted to record this sketched track, just to have it on file. Still unsure of the total outcome, a plan was made at that very moment. After hearing the completion of this composition in the mixing process, Jonathan knew that this song had to be a song by itself. For 1 minute and 40 seconds these musicians challenge the concept of time; There's no time signature to this composition. This closing track is played off of the present moment. Barber began to reflect about the afterlife and what reuniting with loved ones who have passed away might sound like. Would it be confined into 4/4, 3/4 or 7/8 time? Or would it sound like this composition - no time just motion.

"Collectively we capture the deep emotion and the intention that encompasses the compositions of these songs."

This tightly-knit ensemble has successfully created an album of hope and positivity. Whether itʼs graduating from The Jackie Mclean Institute of Jazz or being natives in the State of Connecticut, the seeds that were planted in one of the smallest states in the U.S. are still growing.

Jonathan Barber was first introduced to the drums by his father and began nurturing his passion and talents at his family church. During his senior year of high school, Barber became a member of the Artists Collective in Hartford, CT founded by Jackie and Dollie McLean. There he studied with master artist, Renee Mclean, who introduced him to jazz and its African roots and rhythms; it was at that point Jonathan knew he wanted to be a musician. He furthered his studies at the University of Hartford, Hartt School of Music, Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz, where he graduated Cum Laude, receiving a B.A. in Music Performance (Jazz Studies).

Wasting no time Jonathan became an ondemand drummer in the Hartford, CT jazz scene and also began building his career in the New York jazz scene. Jonathan has had the opportunity to perform with many artists such as Jimmy Greene, Erykah Badu, Wallace Roney, Jeremy Pelt, Rene Mclean, J.D. Allen, Kenny Barron, John Patitucci, Terrace Martin, Charnett Moffett, Stanley Jordan, Harold Mabern, Steve Davis, Larry Willis, Abraham Burton, Stefon Harris, Marcus Strickland and many more. Currently, Jonathan Barber continues to tour nationally and internationally and is now stepping out as a bandleader introducing his new band "Vision Ahead".

In May 2017 Jonathan debuted in his own international tour, traveling all over Japan. In January 2018 Jonathan was named best "Up & Coming" drummer in the Modern Drummer Readers Poll. Jonathan endorses Canopus Drums, Istanbul Agop Cymbals, Evans Drumheads, Promark Drumsticks and Sunhouse Percussion.

"I recognize my God given gift. Maximizing this gift to its full potential is the best thing you can do for yourself. Operating in this gift is how you give back to the world."

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fred Rogers is celebrated by Keri Johnsrud & Kevin Bales on a new album out soon

Vocalist Keri Johnsrud and Pianist/Arranger Kevin Bales Announce the Release of "Beyond the Neighborhood: The Music of Fred Rogers" 
Featuring Billy Thornton (Bass) & Marlon Patton (Drums)
Due Out March 20, Fred Rogers' Birthday!

Chicago-based vocalist Keri Johnsrud and GRAMMY nominated pianist Kevin Bales have come together once again for the March 20th release of "Beyond the Neighborhood: The Music of Fred Rogers." With the help of an esteemed rhythm section featuring Billy Thornton on bass and Marlon Patton on drums, Johnsrud and Bales have succeeded in reimagining and rearranging the music that has been heard by numerous generations on the beloved children's television program Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

The songs, which up until now were specifically tailored for a child's ear, are now presented as reinvented gems that are wise and wistful, simple but not simplistic, and even, in some cases, a bit sultry. In this collection, Mister Rogers' songs not only relate to adults; they seem to have been written for adults in the first place.

Fred McFeely Rogers - the cardigan-wearing, sneaker-shod, quintessentially gentle Presbyterian minister known as Mister Rogers on the awards-winning children's TV show that aired for nearly 35 years - also wrote the songs he sang on his program. He wrote a lot of songs, and he wrote them well. As a kid, you might not have noticed the craftsmanship of these songs, but as an adult, you can't miss it. These songs left their mark on three generations of children who made Mister Rogers' Neighborhood part of their after-school routine.

This project began over two years ago when Johnsrud and Bales discovered that they had a deep mutual love and admiration for Fred Rogers, while having a conversation about children's programs they used to watch growing up. It was obvious to them that music played an integral part in the programming of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and were amazed at how that music remains relevant today. Most songs written for youngsters try to impart messages about love and family, friendship and sharing, belief in one's self-confidence but respect for others - messages that too many adults seem to have forgotten.

"We wanted to take these songs, which we grew up with as kids, and make them relatable - more accessible - to adults as well. We discovered that a lot of Fred Rogers' music cannot translate across the generations; those songs very much catered to children. We took the songs that could be heard as adults, the songs that he implanted in our brains when we were children and that are still poignant to us now," Johnsrud explains.

What a lot of people don't know is that Fred Rogers composed all of the music heard on his programs (The Children's Corner, The MisteRogers Show, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood). In fact, Kevin's first introduction to jazz was listening to the music performed live by pianist and musical director Johnny Costa and his trio on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. With that said, Keri and Kevin wanted to compile a list of songs that may be familiar to some and unfamiliar to others to showcase the depth of Fred's songwriting talent. The pair also wanted to arrange these tunes in a way that could appeal to all generations, so that families could listen to this music together. The beauty of these compositions lies in the simple messages found in each of his songs (those of self-worth, acceptance, and kindness) and can apply to all, whether young or old.

When Fred Rogers sang "Just For Once" it expressed the desire of two kids to explore friendship on their own, minus the meddling ministrations of parents and adults. Now, against the exotic rhythm that jazz musicians know as "the 'Poinciana' beat," Johnsrud's smoldering interpretation transforms it into a song that channels the simmering ambitions of new lovers.

Several of Rogers' compositions make the transition from friendship to chaste romance. He wrote the lovely "When The Day Turns Into Night" as a comforter, girding tots against the separation anxiety that many feel at bedtime, when the lights go out and parents leave the room; here it has the heartfelt yearning of a Cole Porter meditation on separated lovers. The hard-swinging opener, "It's You I Like," carried a basic childhood message about accepting people for who they are, rather than how they look; Johnsrud and Bales turn it into a peppy, even flirty thing, suggesting the warmth and wonder of an emergent romance. And "I Like To Be Told" comes across as a love song conveying unabashed honesty and vulnerability - even though it began life as a child's plea for respectful truth from elders.

Johnsrud credits the quality of Rogers' writing for smoothing the way on this album. "He's certainly very underrated as a composer," she says, adding that the success of these "translations" from kidspeak to adulthood owes to that. "Look And Listen" could have come from pretty much any Frank Loesser musical of the 1950s; Bales instills a New Orleans beat and then adds a terrific solo to boot. On "Find A Star," Johnsrud's graceful ease with the lyric reveals a song that would instantly improve the quality of almost any modern Broadway show. (Marlon Patton's Latin-tinged rhythm and a standout bass solo from Billy Thornton, certainly help.)

"It will be interesting to see which adults are attracted to this, and it's just refreshing to have his work out there - especially in the current climate. We'd like to introduce his music to a younger audience as well, but largely through parents listening with their children, because these messages can appeal to all generations. We hope, in some small way, to carry on the legacy of Fred Rogers through this recording. Thank you for taking the time to support this endeavor and may it be a beautiful day in your neighborhood."


A highly appealing jazz singer with a quietly expressive voice and a deep understanding of the lyrics that she interprets, Keri Johnsrud has been an important part of the Chicago jazz scene for the past 15 years. With headlining appearances at Chicago's top venues including the historic Green Mill Cocktail Lounge and Jazz Showcase, Keri has built a strong reputation and following among peers and fans, alike. While having a solid regional presence, she continues to perform across the country (including regular appearances in Atlanta and New York City) and has enjoyed singing in Iowa before a hometown audience of fans and friends.

In addition to finding success with her own group, Johnsrud also lends her voice to the critically acclaimed jazz ensemble Shawn Maxwell's Alliance. Singing since she was seven years old and born and raised in Iowa alongside professional vocalists, Keri's plans for the future are as direct and as logical as her music; "I plan to keep singing, writing, teaching and performing as much as possible and want to take the music wherever it needs to go."


By some measures, Kevin Bales was a latecomer to jazz, already 17 when he encountered the sounds and structures and became captivated by the freedom and corresponding challenges of the music. But if late to the party, he wasted no time in immersing himself in the celebration, declaring total commitment to what would be his life's work and backing his announcement by resigning his job and designated career in computer programming. Kevin could commit to jazz with a reasonable degree of expectation. He was already an accomplished pianist, with classical chops refined since the age of 10. So accomplished he was invited to audition for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, at age 16.

Kevin's initial career move was to the University of North Florida and a budding if little-known jazz program. There he met and performed with, and went on to record and tour with, a number of monumental artists, including Wynton Marsalis, Louie Bellson, Eddie Daniels, James Moody, Ben Tucker, Ira Sullivan, Sam Rivers, and Nat Adderley. He counts among his mentors bassist Ben Tucker, multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan, guitar legends Nathen Page and Jack Petersen, and the fiercely individual saxophonist Bunky Green.

His meeting with Bunky Green led to five years of tours. His encounter with guitarist Nathen Page blossomed into 15 years of spot tours and four albums. And his work with trumpeter extraordinaire Marcus Printup has become a lifetime association that has included recordings on Blue Note/Capital records. Ten years touring and recording with vocal iconoclast Rene Marie culminated in a Grammy Nominated album. Few artists have the patience for teaching - as are few teachers accomplished players. But Kevin has amassed a reputation for his prowess in both professions. While still a senior at North Florida he was drafted into a full teaching load, and continued to be an integral part of the school's jazz program for upwards of a decade.

Today, Kevin manages his own jazz program, overseeing an ambitious schedule of jazz students. Kevin has accumulated a long list of awards and a reputation as one of the finest jazz pianists performing anywhere. In 1994, less than a decade into jazz, he won the American Pianist Association's Jazz Piano Competition. In addition to nearly every important jazz venue in the South, he has performed in some of the most acclaimed clubs and festivals in America and around the world: the JVC Jazz Festival in New York, The Bakery in Los Angeles, The Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center jazz series, the Toronto and Edinburgh jazz festivals, and the Moscow Center for the Performing Arts.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Frank Vignola returns after near-fatal crash - Live @ Iridium, NY, Feb 12

Frank Vignola @ Iridium - Monday, February 12, 8pm
1650 Broadway
New York, NY 10019
(212) 582-2121

with the John di Martino Trio
Frank Vignola - Guitar
John di Martino - Piano
Nicki Parrott - Bass
Drums - Dag Markhus

"Vignola returned on Sweet Georgia Brown, exhibiting his acoustic mastery in exhilarating single string runs, complex flurries and astounding full register riffs. When speed and clarity were demanded, Vignola stunned."- DownBeat

It 's been almost a year since top guitarist Frank Vignola catapulted into a tree from an off-road-vehicle in a tragic accident that nearly took his life. After being air-lifted to a renowned N.Y. area trauma center, Frank's family learned of his extensive injuries which included four broken ribs, a broken clavicle, shoulder (in two places), and arm, which has since required multiple surgeries. Additionally, Vignola suffered two collapsed lungs and massive internal bleeding.

Enduring a long but steady recovery, Frank returns to the stage in collaboration with the John di Martino Trio performing great American popular songs by Gershwin, Porter, Van Heusen, Berlin, Bernstein and more. He is grateful, and he's excited to be back to introduce the John di Martino Trio.

Frank Vignola, born December 30th, 1965, is one of the most extraordinary guitarists performing before the public today. His stunning virtuosity has made him the guitarist of choice for many of the world's top musicians, including Ringo Starr, Madonna, Donald Fagen, Wynton Marsalis, Tommy Emmanuel, the Boston Pops, the New York Pops, and guitar legend Les Paul, who named Vignola to his “Five Most Admired Guitarists List" for the Wall Street Journal. Vignola's stellar technique explains why the New York Times deemed him "one of the brightest stars of the guitar".

John di Martino is a jazz pianist, arranger and producer, based in New York City. He has been described as a "shape - shifter", for his creativity across musical genres. John has performed and recorded with David "Fat Head" Newman, Pat Martino, Houston Person and Taj Mahal. Mr. di Martino is a sought after musical director. He has accompanied Jon Hendricks, Keely Smith, Billy Eckstine , and Janis Siegel. John's talents as arranger and pianist can be heard on recordings with Gloria Lynn, and Grady Tate. John's discography includes many Grammy nominated CDs, among those are: "Love" with Issac Delgado, "Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B", and "Live & In Clave" with Bobby Sanabria.

For further information on Frank Vignola, visit his website at
For interviews and other inquiries contact :
Jim Eigo - Jazz Promo Services

For bookings contact:
Dynamic Artists
510 - 558 - 4000

Monday, February 5, 2018

Jack Wilkins, Vic Juris, Mark Whitfield & Joe Cohn: Strings Attached live in NY, Feb 9 & 10

4 Good Reasons to Catch Strings Attached at the Jazz Forum on Feb. 9 & 10: Jack Wilkins, Vic Juris, Mark Whitfield, Joe Cohn!
Presented by Charles Carlini.

Meg Okura prepares the release of two new albums

Visionary violinist and composer Meg Okura will be releasing two new albums in the coming months. She, along with Sam Newsome and Jean-Michel Pilc, will be releasing "NPO Trio Live at The Stone" on Chant Records on March 15th. On May 13th, which is Mothers Day, Meg along with the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble featuring Tom Harrell will release "IMA IMA." The latter will be celebrated at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola on August 20th.

Okura ushers in the Spring season with two new recordings: "NPO Trio Live at The Stone," the debut album from NPO Trio, which features Okura on violin, alongside Sam Newsome on soprano saxophone and Jean-Michel Pilc on piano, out Friday, March 15, and "IMA IMA," which features The Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble with Tom Harrell out Sunday, May 13.

While "Live at The Stone" introduces the impressive tightly-knit trio, who as a group weave through musical idioms of jazz and classical - from impressionism to minimalism, blues to free jazz, "IMA IMA" successfully blends the musical cultures of East and West for a new and exciting direction in modern jazz expression. With this highly-anticipated double release, Okura showcases both her truly versatile musicality. "IMA IMA" will be celebrated at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola on August 20th.
Newly established avant-garde and world music label, Chant Records is excited to announce the arrival of NPO Trio with the release of "Live at The Stone," which was recorded by the trio, led by Meg Okura during her residency at The Stone in the East Village, New York in April of 2016. Following the 2017 release of a duo album by Sam Newsome and Jean-Michel Pilc, Magic Circle, the duo multiplied its dimensions by adding the violinist to their line-up. NPO Trio is now a dynamic group of like-minded friends celebrating freedom of expression through music and sounds. Although the music presented by these three is improvisational, listeners will also hear hints of familiar melodies including well-known Yiddish songs and even excerpts of John Coltrane.

Okura explains that she has always felt emotionally connected to Yiddish melodies. The melodies are always sad and happy at the same time (typically a minor melody with major chords), just like the Japanese expression of happy sad. Reminiscing upon her childhood, Okura recalls consoling herself by truly believing that, "...sadness is absolutely necessary for me to experience true happiness in the future. And everytime I hear Jewish songs, it reminds me of my childhood."

The entire concert at The Stone consisted of three extensive improvisational parts. The first part, which is 38 minutes in total, is divided into 6 shorter segments, each given individual titles for the purpose of this album. The melody often quoted during these first six tracks is a famous Yiddish song by Mark Warshawsky (1848-1907), "Oyfn Pripetchik". The song is about a rabbi teaching his children about the value of education and perseverance. It also mentions exodus, reminding us of the sacrifices made by our ancestors, which presents us with the freedom we have today. Track 7, "Unkind Gestures" is a shorter improvisation, which pays homage to John Coltrane's Giant Steps.
With unique instrumentation including Shinobue (Japanese flute) "IMA IMA" brings together some of New York's finest jazz artists including Sam Newsome, Pablo Aslan, Brian Marsalsa, Anne Drummond, Brian Marsella and Riza Printup as well as special guest trumpeter Tom Harrell. Hailed by the New York Times as "vibrant" and "sophisticated", Okura's Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble presents "IMA IMA" as a celebration of womanhood, particularly motherhood.

Meg Okura became an Ima (meaning mother in Hebrew) seven years ago, so along with being a tribute to Okura's grandmother, who recently passed away, it is only fitting that "IMA IMA" will be released on Mother's Day this year. Okura explains that although many refer to this period of time as an interruption, she prefers to regard it as a constant state of disruptions.  "The earliest compositions on this album being the ones from my pregnancy period only support that claim. However, I do not believe motherhood has had a negative impact on my music."

Okura explains that disruptions forced her to think more creatively and resourcefully, and so inevitably made her music stronger. It inspired the Japanese native towards integrity, and excellence in her composition, improvisation and performance. Being anything other than the first-rate was not acceptable. "The last thing I wanted to do as a mother was to use motherhood as an excuse for not being able to achieve excellence."

Ima Ima -(L'dor Vador) by The Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble was supported by New Music USA, made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, Anonymous. To follow the project as it unfolds, visit the project page:


Formerly a concert violinist, Okura made her U.S. solo debut at the Kennedy Center with the late Alexander Schneider's New York String Orchestra. She then moved to New York City and earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in classical violin from The Julliard School.  Advancing her career as a jazz violinist while at the Henry Mancini Institute in Los Angeles, Okura was soloist and the concertmaster for the orchestra backing up Herbie Hancock, Shirley Horn, Diana Krall, and Terence Blanchard, under the batons of music icons as Quincy Jones, Jerry Goldsmith, and Jack Elliot.

Okura quickly became one of the most sought-after violinists on New York City's music scene, appearing on dozens of recordings with a wide range of artists including David Bowie, Lee Konitz, Diane Reeves, Heidi Grand-Murphy, Sam Newsome, Jesse Harris, Jeremy Pelt, Ziggy Marley and many more. She has toured internationally with the late Michael Brecker, Steve Swallow, Tom Harrell, appearing at venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Barbican, Madison Square Garden, Village Vanguard, Blue Note Tokyo, Hollywood Bowl and at numerous festivals and concert halls around the world. In 2016, Okura held a week-long residency at the Stone in New York City, performing and presenting 12 concerts with her 10 different groups.

Recipient of numerous grants and awards including Metlife Creative Connections Grant (Meet The Composer), Brand Personality Award (Asia Pacific Brands Foundation), Manhattan Community Arts Fund (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council), Jerome Composers Commissioning Program (American Composers Forum), and most recently, New Music USA Project Grant, Okura has also composed/ arranged for several film and television programs such as The Congregation (documentary) and Louie (TV series), as well as, the New York Symphonic Ensemble, Sirius String Quartet, and C. Eule Dance.

She has herself also appeared on many movie soundtracks as a violinist, and erhu player, has been featured in three Cirque du Soleil productions (Varekai, Wintuk and Corteo), and has collaborated and performed with Oscar nominee actor and Columbia recording artist Terrence Howard. For the past ten years, Okura has also been a member of a Jewish/Middle Eastern band "Pharaoh's Daughter" led by ex-orthodox singer-songwriter and cantor Basya Schechter.