Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Motema Music Presents Ben Wendel - What We Bring

Motema Music Presents Ben Wendel - What We Bring
Featuring Gerald Clayton, Joe Sanders & Henry Cole   
What We Bring is Wendel's Debut for Motema Music & Will Be Available September 9, 2016

What We Bring - CD Release Tour:
Sept 14 - Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, NYC - 7:30 & 9:30 PM
Sept 15 - The Regattabar, Cambridge, MA - 7:30 PM
Sept 16 - Firehouse 12, New Haven, CT
Sept 17 - Chris' Jazz Cafe, Philadelphia. PA
Sept 19 - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Sept 20 - Oakland University, Rochester, MI
Sept 21 - Constellation, Chicago IL, 7:30 & 9:30 PM
Sept 22 - Dazzle, Denver, CO, 7 & 9 PM
Sept 23-25 - SF Jazz Center - Joe Henderson Lab, San Francisco, CA, 7 & 8:30 PM (Fri/Sat), 5:30 & 7 PM (Sun)
Sept 26 - Western Oregon University, Monmouth, OR
Sept 27 - Cornish Playhouse-Seattle Center, Seattle, WA
Sept 28 - The Old Church, Portland, OR, 7:30 PM
Sept 29 - Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz, CA, 7 PM
Sept 30-Oct 1 - Blue Whale, Los Angeles, CA, 8 PM
Oct 2 - Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, AZ
Oct 8 - Le Crescent Jazz Club, Macon, France
Oct 10 - Theatre Astree, Villeurbane, France
Oct 12-13 - Duc des Lombards, Paris, France
Oct 14 - Bimhuis, Amsterdam, NL
Oct 15 - Lantaren Venster, Rotterdam, NL
Oct 16 - L'espace des Arts Vivants, Parc Culturel De Rentilly, Bussy Saint Martin, France

"A naturally inquisitive musician whose credentials branch out beyond jazz. He’s a member of Kneebody, a postmillennial groove band with a sizable following, as well as an accomplished solo artist and producer. His next album, 'What We Bring,' due out on Motéma in September, will feature a lithe postbop quartet, with Gerald Clayton on piano, Joe Sanders on bass and Henry Cole on drums."
- Nate Chinen, The New York Times

"Those who wish to be called creative musicians should actually create music, and hardly no one has done that better recently than Ben Wendel . . ." - Gary Fukushima, LAWeekly

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Saxophonist/composer/bandleader/educator/catalyst Ben Wendel's What We Bring, available September 9, 2016 on Motema Music (his 15th album as a leader or co-leader and his debut for Motema), is panegyrical, acknowledging the great legacy and lexicon that he has played and composed his way into. While composing the music for this album, it occurred to Wendel that the evolution of a musical genre, or artist, is a continuum that looks backwards and forwards at the same time. Wendel elaborated, "What We Bring refers to the experience, inspiration and shared wisdom that musicians collect and absorb throughout their lives, and how that is expressed through their art. All of the pieces on this album are dedicated to masters from the past, peers from the present and musicians of the future. In my opinion, nothing springs from a vacuum - all that we make is connected, influenced, and most importantly, indebted to what has been created before us and around us in the present day. This album expresses my continued acknowledgement and appreciation to all of those who have helped me along the path, both directly and indirectly." Wendel added, "I get the most joy when I find ways to express my love for the bravery of the people who came before me, for the people who are doing this music now, and for the people who will do this music in the future" (from the feature on Wendel by Ted Panken, DownBeat Magazine, June 2016).   

What impresses most about Wendel is that he has gleaned from past masters, and his peers, far more than technique and chops to become an artist who embodies the importance of finding your own voice, and the pluck to follow your inner compass. This is fully revealed and represented on What We Bring, which opens majestically and powerfully with "Amian", a subconscious, compositional reaction to listening to Coltrane's "Naima" hundreds of times in his formative years. Like "Naima", "Amian" possesses a melody that floats over a constant bass note, with shifting chord qualities, offering myriad moods and colors.   

"Fall" and "Spring" are two pieces repurposed from Wendel's acclaimed Seasons project of 2015, featured on NPR's All Things Considered, and in The New York Times (, "They were originally written as duo pieces for the exceptional pianists Taylor Eigsti and Aaron Parks. I felt they would be great vehicles for the quartet and decided to arrange them for this album", commented Wendel.

"Doubt" is one of two covers on the album (the other being the standard "Solar", given a highly-entertaining, brainy, odd-meter face lift by Wendel & co.), by the indie-rock band Wye Oak. "I fell in love with their music years ago and this track is hauntingly beautiful in its mood and simplicity. What We Bring also refers to what we listen to, and at this point, most jazz musicians listen to a wide spectrum of music outside of our field. I wanted to showcase something that had moved me along the way", said Wendel.

"Song Song" is dedicated to the great Ahmad Jamal, and was inspired by his famous composition, "Poinciana". "I was on tour with nothing to do one evening and watching countless performances of 'Poinciana' on YouTube. There’s something incredibly meditative about the piece that I’ve always loved - the rhythm section’s commitment to playing one beautiful groove throughout the song - not doing anything more, and most importantly, not needing to. I recall waking up the following morning with the bass line for 'Song Song' looping in my head", explained Wendel.

"Soli" rocks and swings and, like the rest of the album, displays the band's ability to conduct complex maneuvers in complete harmony with one another (the term "big ears" comes to mind). A track like this will surely send fledgling musicians scurrying to the shed, and prompt listeners to quickly hit "repeat." "Soli" is a pre-written passage played in unison by multiple instruments. You can hear this technique used in everything from classical music to big band music and Wendel has always loved the sound of it. "In fact, I’ve always had at least one piece on each album that highlights this approach. Though I don’t know how long this streak will continue, I can say this was perhaps the most challenging one I’ve written to date", said Wendel.

One of the most emotive and gorgeous songs on What We Bring is "Austin", "dedicated to the incredibly talented pianist Austin Peralta, who left this world much too soon. I played with Austin on 'Endless Planets', his final album. I was deeply saddened by Austin’s passing and also incredibly moved at his funeral by the outpouring of love from friends, family and musical peers. Many of his personal letters and writing were read at the ceremony. I was struck by the depth of his inner life - something he didn’t show the outer world very much. I didn’t get to see this side of him until it was too late. This was something I was thinking about as I wrote the piece," stated Wendel.
On What We Bring, Wendel's camaraderie with his fellow musicians, Gerald Clayton (piano), Joe Sanders (bass) and Henry Cole (drums) greatly informed his artistic choices and inspired him. He has stated (in a recent feature by Bob Weinberg, Jazziz Magazine, Spring 2016) that, "it's hard to know where the music starts and the friendship ends", and that, "all of these layers of understanding and all the coded information that's embedded in how you play together, it's so intermingled."   

More on Ben Wendel: GRAMMY-nominated saxophonist Ben Wendel was born in Vancouver, Canada and raised in Los Angeles. Currently living in Brooklyn, NY, he has enjoyed a varied career as a performer, composer and producer. Highlights include multiple domestic and international tours with artists such as Ignacio Berroa, Tigran Hamasyan, Antonio Sanchez, Gerald Clayton, Eric Harland, Taylor Eigsti, Snoop Dogg and the artist formerly known as Prince. Ben is a founding member of the GRAMMY-nominated group Kneebody, currently signed with Concord Records and Brainfeeder Music.

As a composer, he has received an ASCAP Jazz Composer Award, the 2008 and 2011 Chamber Music America “New Works Grant” and most recently was awarded the Victor Lynch-Staunton award by the Canada Council For The Arts. He also co-wrote the score for John Krasinski’s adaptation of David Foster Wallace’s "Brief Interviews With Hideous Men."  

Ben’s recent work includes producing and playing in jazz and many other genres, including the GRAMMY-nominated album "Life Forum" for pianist Gerald Clayton on Concord Records, the new Kneedelus album (Kneebody + Daedelus), released on Brainfeeder and given a rave 8.0 review from Pitchfork, appearing on Julia Holter's new film score, and collaborating with her on a new non-jazz album he is co-creating with Daedelus (the album will feature artists such as Terrace Martin, Knower and Mark Guiliana), producing an album for Folk/Americana artist Darryl Holter (a BMI Woody Guthrie Fellowship Recipient), playing on Jimmy Chamberlin's (drummer from Smashing Pumpkins) new instrumental album, and producing live concerts at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, CA from 2008-2015, with the help of Quincy Jones and his production team. He also recently worked with conductor Kent Nagano in producing a series of concerts for the Festspiel Plus in Munich, Germany.

Ben is a former Adjunct Professor of Jazz Studies at USC and a current Adjunct at the New School in NYC.  Educational outreach has been a constant in his career with over 250 masterclasses at various colleges, universities, high schools, and previous work with the LA Philharmonic Artist Program.

Ben has recorded for Sunnyside Records, Concord Records and Brainfeeder, with two solo albums under his belt, Simple Song (2009) and Frame (2012), a duo project with French-American pianist Dan Tepfer entitled Small Constructions (2013) and multiple Kneebody albums. His music video project, The Seasons, inspired by Tchaikovsky’s works of the same name, was released throughout 2015 and included guests such as Joshua Redman, Jeff Ballard, Mark Turner, Julian Lage and more. Ben's third solo album What We Bring is planned for release in the Fall of 2016 on Motema Music.  

Please Visit:,,

Press Enquiries on Ben Wendel, Please Contact:

Jason Paul Harman Byrne at Red Cat Publicity – 646 259 2105,

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Brooklyn Jazz Underground Presents The 10th Annual BJU Festival @ Smalls & Shapeshifter Lab!


red cat logo

Please Contact Jason Paul Harman Byrne - Red Cat Publicity
Tel 646 259 2105, Email

" . . . these renegade BJU bands are comprised of intelligent composers, open-minded arrangers and free-spirited improvisers.  They all deserve to be heard."
JazzTimes Magazine

"The Brooklyn Jazz Underground is a coalition of artists united by aesthetics as well as geography." 
The New York Times
" . . . the spirit of the organization is firmly rooted in Brooklyn. All of the members reside there, and they wanted to give a nod to the vitality of its scene." 
The Wall Street Journal

The 10th Annual Brooklyn Jazz Underground Festival
@ Smalls & Shapeshifter - August 17 & 18! 

The Brooklyn Jazz Underground is an association of independent artists with a shared commitment to creativity and community. Through cooperative efforts, the BJU aims to build a greater awareness of original music emerging from Brooklyn, NY.

January, 2007 saw the birth of The Brooklyn Jazz Underground, a collective conceived in the spirit of an entrepreneurial, do-it-yourself movement in the current music industry, and the emergence of myriad independent artists and record labels, spawning a creative boom which counts Brooklyn as one of its bastions of innovation and artistry.  

The Brooklyn Jazz Underground, Tammy Scheffer (voice), Adam Kolker (saxophone, woodwinds), Dave Smith (trumpet), Anne Mette Iversen (bass), Rob Garcia, Owen Howard(drums) & Dave Cook (piano), an uber-creative group contributing mightily to the vibrancy of the jazz and improvised music scene in Brooklyn and beyond, proudly announces The 10th Annual Brooklyn Jazz Underground Festival, to take place at Smalls in Greenwich Village on August 17, and Shapeshifter Lab in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn on August 18.  The Festival will feature BJU members leading their ensembles in performances of original music, much of it comprised of new works.  
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The 10th Annual Brooklyn Jazz Underground Festival
Schedule of Events:

Smalls - August 17:
$20 for the entire evening. Smalls is located at 183 W. 10th Street, NYC
7:30 PM  
Owen Howard Trio
Owen Howard-drums, Jason Rigby-saxophone, Matt Clohesy-bass
8:45 PM  
Kolker/Cardenas/Mintz + Woodwind Trio
Adam Kolker-saxophone, woodwinds, Steve Cardenas-guitar, Billy Mintz-drums, Lawrence Feldman-flute, David Gould-clarinet, Jackie Henderson-bassoon
10:00 PM 
David Smith Quartet
David Smith-trumpet, David Cook-piano, Gary Wang-bass, Anthony Pinciotti-drums
11:15 PM  
The Brooklyn Jazz Underground
Performing music from their album "A Portrait Of Brooklyn, and more
Tammy Scheffer-voice, David Smith-trumpet, Adam Kolker-saxophone, David Cook-piano, Carlo De Rosa-bass, Owen Howard-drums, Rob Garcia-drums

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Shapeshifter Lab - August 18:
$15 for the entire evening. Shapeshifter Lab is located at 18 Whitwell Place, Brooklyn, NY,
7:00 PM 
David Cook Quintet
David Cook-piano, John Ellis-saxophone, David Smith-trumpet, Matt Clohesy-bass, Mark Ferber-drums
8:15 PM 
Rob Garcia Trio
Rob Garcia-drums, Steve Cardenas-guitar, Matt Pavolka-bass
9:30 PM 
Tammy Scheffer Sextet + Voices
Tammy Scheffer-voice, Uri Gurvich-alto saxophone, Dan Pratt-tenor & soprano, Billy Test-piano, Daniel Foose-bass, Jared Schonig-drums, Aubrey Johnson, Katie Seiler, Tomas Cruz-voice

Websites for more information:

Monday, July 11, 2016

Matt Slocum Presents Trio Pacific, Vol. 1 Featuring Dayna Stephens (saxophones), Steve Cardenas (guitar), Matt Slocum (drums, compositions)

Matt Slocum Presents Trio Pacific, Vol. 1
Featuring Dayna Stephens (saxophones), Steve Cardenas (guitar), Matt Slocum (drums, compositions)

Available October 7, 2016 on Chandra Records

US Tour Dates - October 18 through November 9 (see info below)

“Slocum’s writing and playing emphasize a breathing, expressive, virtually speech-like flow of shifting meters… Slocum excels at open-tempo pulse and color inflections and can drive commandingly when called for… The young drummer constantly surprises, embracing the kit as a reactive and explorative multi-percussion whole. A fresh voice.” -Modern Drummer

“Slocum served the music with a focus on dynamic micro-detail, which in turn allowed his musicians to say even more. It’s a cerebral concept, one that comes to fruition on Black Elk’s Dream… Like Wayne Shorter’s classic Blue Note albums, Black Elk’s Dream seems to ask questions, leaving the answers open to individual interpretation.” -DownBeat Magazine

“Matt Slocum has emerged as one of the great young drummers in New York City, and therefore all of jazz… Slocum clearly places empathy and ensemble eloquence over solo fireworks, with sublime results." -Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A meticulous, deeply realized work, remarkable not only for its coherence as a single arc but also for its evolving, authentic poignancy… This dreamlike, lyrical, fervent, floating music is capable of erupting in joy or pain.” -JazzTimes (Black Elk’s Dream review)

“There are those rare records that cast a spell as soon as the music begins. Black Elk’s Dream is a beautiful dream state of a recording… a band as telepathic as it is gifted… A thoughtful, thematic record that retains its emotional intimacy.” -The New York City Jazz Record

Trio Pacific, Vol. 1, drummer/composer Matt Slocum’s fourth recording as a leader, moves away from his core piano trio for the first time to a new configuration featuring longtime creative associate Dayna Stephens and inventive guitarist Steve Cardenas. While Slocum’s acclaimed 2014 recording Black Elk’s Dream focused heavily on his extended compositional work, Trio Pacific, Vol. 1 paints the most revealing portrait to date of his distinctive musical personality on the drums.

Slocum, who penned six of the eight compositions on the date, writes, “For these sessions I was interested in working with more open compositional frameworks designed with the trio’s aesthetic approach in mind. This group seems to be geared more towards collective interaction rather than extended individual solo statements. It’s still a relatively new format as we have been playing together as a trio for only a year or so, but the initial musical connection is the strongest that I've experienced.”

He also notes that, “The title of the recording isn’t meant to imply a deep underlying meaning or anything. It just seemed appropriate as the first gigs that I played with Dayna and Steve were on the West Coast, and we all lived in California for different periods of time. There’s also a certain warmth in their playing, both sonically and in terms of content, that for whatever reason makes me think of the Pacific. But it’s totally subjective. And by ‘warmth’ I don’t mean brightness.”

More about the music on Trio Pacific, Vol. 1: Passaic is a Native American word that means “valley” or “water flowing through a valley”. The composition alludes to the sinuous path of the Passaic River and what Slocum describes as, “a type of dark beauty,” in the Great Falls of the Passaic, the second largest waterfall in the Eastern US.  The relatively obscure standard, I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me, features joyful, swinging playing from the trio and borderline telepathic interaction. Yerazel is an Armenian word that means “to dream.” Relaxin’ at Camarillo is played at a brisk tempo and features Stephens on the alto saxophone. Slocum notes that, “I’ve always loved how Tommy Flanagan played this tune.” Stephens and Cardenas solo beautifully together before handing it off to Slocum for a thematic solo statement built around the tune’s melodic and rhythmic motifs.

Afterglow, Descent and Atlantic are three new works that Slocum composed for the sessions. Afterglow incorporates a haunting melody in the lower register of the tenor saxophone over lush, non-conventional harmonic structures. The magical duo interplay between guitar and drums on Descent is a highlight of the recording. It is interesting to hear how Cardenas, a veteran of ensembles led by Paul Motian and Joey Baron, plays differently in a duo with Slocum. Slocum too has found his own voice in this setting, a creative approach to the instrument which differs significantly from those of Motian, Baron and others. Atlantic features Stephens on the soprano saxophone supported by Slocum’s textural shading on brushes, mallets and later sticks.

For Alin was composed for Slocum’s wife and originally appears on his debut recording Portraits. For this session the trio approaches the piece as a collective dialogue which culminates in a single statement of the lyrical rubato melody.

More about Matt Slocum:  Hailed as "one of his generation’s most highly regarded drummers" (Jazz Police), Matt Slocum has also earned a reputation as a distinctive, inventive and lyrical composer. He is the recipient of composition grants and commissions from the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, the American Music Center, New Music USA, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Puffin Foundation and Meet the Composer. Slocum’s ensembles have been featured throughout North America and Europe at venues such as Jazz at Lincoln Center, Yoshi's, the Blue Note, Earshot Jazz Festival, Saratoga Jazz Festival, Twin Cities Jazz Festival and the Soka International Jazz Festival among others. Frequently referred to as a "musical" drummer, Slocum possesses a uniquely personal voice on the instrument and is a propulsive, melodic and dynamic accompanist and soloist. He has performed and/or recorded with artists such as Seamus Blake, Alan Broadbent, Steve Cardenas, Gerald Clayton, Taylor Eigsti, Aaron Goldberg, Jon Irabagon, Larry Koonse, Wynton Marsalis, Lage Lund, Linda Oh, Alan Pasqua, Jerome Sabbagh, Jaleel Shaw, Walter Smith III, Anthony Wilson, Sam Yahel and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota and raised in western Wisconsin, Slocum began musical studies on piano before switching to percussion at age 11. While in high school he was introduced to jazz through recordings featuring Max Roach and Philly Joe Jones. He received a full scholarship to attend the University of Southern California where he studied with Peter Erskine. After graduating in 2004, Slocum spent three years in California before making the move to New York in fall 2007. His debut recording Portraits was released in January 2010. The New York City Jazz Record raved, "With this excellent premiere, Slocum steps out of the box as the full package," while All Music Guide wrote, "This auspicious debut should put Matt Slocum's name firmly on the jazz map." After the Storm, a more introspective trio recording, was released in October 2011 and was one of 15 recordings by American composers to receive a New Music USA recording grant in 2011. Slocum’s third recording, Black Elk’s Dream (2014), is primarily a quartet session that the Minneapolis City Pages describes as, “A sublime interpretation of the visionary Oglala Lakota leader's philosophy, life and times, the melodic sophistication of Slocum's compositions wonderfully realized by his lithe, restless percussion.”

Trio Pacific, Vol. 1 - Tour dates:
October 18- The Cornelia Street Cafe, NYC, October 21&22- Studio Z, St. Paul, MN, November 4- Dizzy’s, San Diego, CA, November 5- San Luis Obispo Jazz Society, CA, November 6- California Jazz Conservatory, Berkeley, CA, November 8- Saddleback College, Mission Viejo, CA, November 9- Blue Whale, Los Angeles, CA

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Press Enquiries on Matt Slocum & Trio Pacific, Vol. 1
Please contact: Red Cat Publicity, Jason Paul Harman Byrne

Email, Tel 646 259 2105