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

Thursday, July 7, 2016


For Immediate Release:

Available February 10, 2017

The Frank Carlberg Large Ensemble is: Kirk Knuffke, John Carlson, Dave Smith, Jonathan Powell - trumpets; Alan Ferber, Brian Drye, Chris Washburne, Max Seigal - trombones; John O’Gallagher, Jeremy Udden, Sam Sadigursky, Adam Kolker, Brian Landrus - saxophones; Christine Correa - voice; Frank Carlberg - piano, Johannes Weidenmueller - bass, Michael Sarin - drums; JC Sanford - conductor

"The pianist’s writing and versatility come across like line drawings which break a solid page of text in a publication. Thematic links to Thelonious Monk’s crooked time sense (especially on Now and Forever) and Herbie Nichols’ joyous abandon (more pointedly on Get it?), allow Carlberg to create a space where bop, cool and free impulses intersect." - Ken Waxman, The Whole Note (on Carlberg's Cosmopolitan Greetings)

"Frank Carlberg is pushing boundaries and we will be watching closely" - Steve Williams, UKVibe

MONK DREAMS, HALLUCINATIONS AND NIGHTMARES, the new large ensemble recording from Frank Carlberg (on Red Piano Records), draws its inspiration from the work of Thelonious Monk. The album taps into the atmosphere and orbit of Monk; infected by, informed by, in awe of Monk, and presented as an act of love and respect. The pieces generate their shapes from splinters, cells and feelings found in and around Monk’s music, as well as from his verbal utterances in the form of advice and/or cryptic observations. MONK DREAMS, HALLUCINATIONS AND NIGHTMARES is not intended as a tribute album, but rather as, "a celebration of the beauty and vitality of his music that has impacted me profoundly," explained Frank Carlberg. "I thought it fitting to present this recording during the Monk Centennial year, 2017."

Why Monk? Carlberg explains: “For me, a Monk-inspired project is quite personal. Monk’s music has been central to my musical life from very early on. The clarity of his thought, the uncompromising nature of his art, the emotional impact Monk’s music has made on me; this recording is a culmination of all these elements, and being able to record this music with these remarkable musicians is really a dream come true for me!”

The opener, DRY BEAN STEW, borrows shapes and snippets from Monk’s, "I Mean You". It begins with mysteriously pulsating sounds and noises that gradually develop into a restless rhythm, alternating between longer and shorter beats. This tempo with an irregular gait meets up with a descending motif that echoes "I Mean You." After several shifts the pulse slows to half-time and features resonant wind voicings. Suddenly the metrically unsettled tempo returns with cascading figures in counterpoint hurtling towards a blistering solo by John O’Gallagher on alto. The end of O'Gallagher's solo leads back to the half-time feel and a piano excursion by Carlberg. The band's swinging statement then concludes with a transition to a tutti rhythmic romp serving as a back drop to trumpeter John Carlson’s soaring, emotive lines.  A long ascending line is followed by the cascading horn lines, with increased counterpoint, before the band delivers one more short statement in half-time. A humorous wink to the classic Monk intro ends the piece on a light note.

RHYMES features a lyrical a cappella bass solo by Weidenmüller as an introduction. Once the band enters, Clark Coolidge’s evocative poem, “Rhymes with Monk” (read here by poet Paul Lichter), permeates the whole piece. The band commentary features brief solo spots by Jeremy Udden on alto saxophone, and David Smith on trumpet, as well as many allusions to Monk-like shapes by the horn sections.

SPHERE is an energetic romp centered around the pitch of Bb. Washburne’s trombone sets the tone before the horns gradually enter in playful rhythmic counterpoint with occasional interruptions. A hint of “Straight No Chaser” enters the fray but disappears just as quickly. After a metric modulation and some tonal shifts Udden’s alto takes over with a lyrical disposition. The horns re-enter and build to a climax of organized chaos. After a brief tempo change Washburne and the simmering rhythm section bring the tune to a playful ending.

After some bird-like textures on A DARKER SHADE OF LIGHT BLUE the melancholic melody enters gradually bringing the whole band together in a short tutti statement. Brian Landrus takes over with a yearning bass clarinet solo supported by bass and drums. Clustered voicings provide a backdrop to the solo. A tempo is established with Sarin setting the stage for a bass line with bass trombone and bass clarinet. Carlson solos with gusto on trumpet and a lively sectional counterpoint leads to a rambunctious finale that quickly dissipates into silence.

BEAST, with its distant echoes of Monk’s "Ugly Beauty" evokes a somber merry-go-round atmosphere. Alan Ferber’s trombone is featured to great effect, building the intensity before the re-entry of the thematic material.

YOU DIG! is a lively verbal Monk quote, sung by Christine Correa. The music rushes forward with reckless abandon, and after breathless woodwinds and relentless brass, O’Gallagher matches the intensity in his brilliant alto solo. After the band returns, drummer Michael Sarin has the spotlight and dispatches a delightfully inventive solo turn before a last humorous slow reiteration of the text.

NO FEAR, MY DEAR opens with stately low winds and bass providing the environment for Sarin’s percussive ruminations. After a gradual orchestral build Adam Kolker’s tenor plays a beautifully crafted call and response solo with the band. Eventually the ensemble takes over and borrows some phrases of "Ruby, My Dear" in rich orchestration. An open wind pyramid of perfect fifths brings the piece to a close.

The motivic and harmonic materials of INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY are mostly derived from the interval of a sixth (the interval also structurally significant in Monk's "Misterioso"). Udden provides solo commentary to the orchestral setting before giving way to a Frank Carlberg piano solo. The cornet of Kirk Knuffke then builds to the orchestral high point of the piece. A few more sixths in mixed winds end the piece in a ritardando.

Another Monk quote provides the text for the setting in ALWAYS NIGHT. Trumpeter Carlson blows over a churning rhythm section background before Correa enters with the short declamatory yet mysterious vocal line. After some instrumental interruptions the line re-appears twice more. The piece ends with a collective improvisation where Correa and Carlson lead the way.

Thelonious Monk’s classic ROUND ABOUT MIDNIGHT gets an extended, creative treatment here. Carlberg says: “I wanted to include this piece here in all its glory. Being probably Monk’s most famous composition (and most frequently recorded…) I wanted to honor the exquisite design of the piece while adding a personal take on it. I also wanted to incorporate a hint of the traditional intro as well as coda with a certain compositional transformation of the original."  Knuffke is the featured soloist throughout and turns in an exquisite performance on cornet. The band is richly orchestrated and brilliantly performs the dynamics from a hush to a roar.

Monk Dreams, Hallucinations and Nightmares is not your grandfather’s Big Band music. Specifically, it offers new perspectives on Monk’s music, and on compositions for large jazz ensemble in general.  It celebrates Thelonious Monk on his centennial while forging new paths in modern jazz by balancing the improvisational impulses with exciting orchestral and structural designs.

Please Visit:,

Press Enquiries on Red Piano Records and Frank Carlberg:
Jason Paul Harman Byrne @ Red Cat Publicity
Tel 646 259 2105

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Kevin Hays New Day Trio North Featuring Kevin Hays, Rob Jost & Greg Joseph On Sunnyside Records - August 5, 2016

For Immediate Release:

Kevin Hays New Day Trio
Featuring Kevin Hays, Rob Jost & Greg Joseph

On Sunnyside Records - August 5, 2016

Having lived in the Sugar Hill neighborhood of Harlem for five years, pianist Kevin Hays couldn’t escape the vibrations of the historic neighborhood. He was reminded of the deep musical history of Harlem when he photographed a wall that was uncovered in the midst of the City’s continuous redevelopment. The wall was festooned with concert posters from decades past, an image Hays interpolated for the cover of his new recording, North.

In New York City, Harlem is considered North. Hays isn’t the only pianist to find a special meaning in the top of the compass. Glenn Gould made a well-known documentary about the tundra of Canada and his fascination with it in the late 1960s entitled The Idea of North. There is something in these latitudes that Hays finds compelling, not only for historical reasons, but for emotional and spiritual reasons, as well. Hays relates a feeling of calm that came from his prior residence in Upstate New York, a place of beauty and repose; the album title also references finding one’s true North on one’s spiritual compass.

It has been some time since Hays recorded an acoustic piano trio. Over the past few years, Hays has become reacquainted with former roommate, and terrific drummer, Greg Joseph. Through Joseph, he met bassist Rob Jost, a player of wide taste and tremendous ability. This led to Hays forming his New Day Trio, a dynamic ensemble that can handle the leader’s challenging jazz charts and his more folk/rock leaning vocal pieces.

The Trio’s last recording, New Day, featured pieces that Hays wrote with lyrics and showcased his wonderful voice. On their follow up recording, the Trio approaches the material instrumentally, though the material doesn’t lack lyrical content. For Hays, his writing has begun to have a “thinning membrane between lyrics and melodies.” As a sort of quality control, Hays sings while composing, insuring that his phrasing is lyrical. From there, he can go back and add challenging harmonic puzzles underneath, which makes his tunes deceptively difficult.

The pieces recorded on North focus on these elements of history, beauty and hope. Hays’s musical scope goes beyond the jazz standards he incorporates on the record, bridging his love of classical, blues, soul, folk and rock music into his originals.

The recording begins with a “derangement” of Charlie Parker’s “Scrapple from the Apple,” the Trio utilizing a favorite technique of Hays to modulate the melody up a half step after every two bars and then reharmonize. Hays recorded “Elegia” on an earlier record with Brad Mehldau, revisiting his lovely ballad, which was written as challenge to write a song in under an hour. “Violetta” is a tribute to Chilean nueva cancíon singer Violeta Parra; it captures a South American folk feel in 5/4 time.

“Schumann’s Chamisso” is an arrangement of the first movement of the legendary composer’s song cycle based on poet Adelbert von Chamisso’s Frauenliebe und leben. Differing completely, the grooving “Sweet Caroline” is not by Neil Diamond but was written as a song with lyrics and features some wonderful bass work by Jost. An impressionistic rendition of Leadbelly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” leads to dramatic reworking of “All The Things You Are.”

The title track was written to portray a sense of peacefulness and solitude, feelings Hays relates to Upstate New York and that help him ground himself. A spontaneous take of Johnston and Raye’s “I’ll Remember April” is an intriguing arrangement in 6/8. The recording concludes with the uplifting “Morning,” another short form piece written with lyrics and that traverses all 12 keys under a tuneful, free melody.

Kevin Hays is a musician who has been seeking a higher ground, both literally and figuratively. The creation of the New Day Trio and their work together have been inspiring and humbling for Hays. The new recording North sheds a light on the direction of Hays and The New Day Trio and it looks as if all roads lead….

Please Visit:,

Press Enquiries on Kevin Hays and North, Contact:
Jason Paul Harman Byrne @ Red Cat Publicity
Tel 646 259 2105


Bret Sjerven @ Sunnyside Records