Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Guitarist/Composer LENI STERN Weaves Rhythms of Senegal With The Music of NYC on New Album, "3"


Guitarist/Composer LENI STERN 

Weaves Rhythms of Senegal 
With The Music of NYC on New Album, "3"
Featuring Leni Stern (guitar/vocals), Mamadou Ba (bass)
Alioune Faye (percussion & vocals)
Available April 27, 2018

Upcoming Tour Dates:
Tuesday, April 24 @ 10 PM, 55 Bar, NYC
Friday, April 27 @ 9 PM, Shrine World Music, NYC
Saturday, April 28 @ 8:30 PM, Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3, NYC
Thursday, May 3 @ 7 PM, An Die Musik, Baltimore, MD
Tuesday, May 8 @ 10 PM, 55 Bar, NYC
Tuesday, May 22 @ 10 PM, 55 Bar, NYC

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Leni Stern's music was always good - her fluid, powerful electric guitar exercised in a variety of settings - but she has really bloomed since she began her collaborations with African musicians.
- Paul Weideman, Santa Fe New Mexican, Pasa Tiempo

Few artists unite the American jazz tradition with world influences more effectively than genre-defying guitar adventurer Stern. 
- Guitar Player Magazine

This music is bursting fresh from the players' hearts and hands, never to be repeated. Some improvisers play slicker; no one plays better.
- Greg Burk,

Leni Stern has long been a triumphant voice of inspiration. The truth and steadfast beauty of her lyrics and music has touched many hearts around the world.- Jim Worsley,

Guitarist/composer Leni Stern is an unstoppable force of energy, a beacon of inspiration and a nomadic virtuoso; spreading the beauty of her music from her native Europe to her adopted home of NYC. Her devoted fans know her from a successful jazz career that saw her touring the globe on the stage of every major festival and legendary club with bands that included some of the most revered heavyweights on the scene (Dennis Chambers, Paul Motian, and Bill Frisell... to name just a few). Everything changed for Leni in 2005 when the guitarist was invited to perform at the Festival au Desert in Timbuktu, Mali. It was there that she would meet Bassekou Kouyate and his wife Ami Sacko. Embraced by their family and their bands, she dove headfirst into the traditions of West African guitar and later the n'goni (African banjo). It was a natural path into the music of West Africa. For Leni, a personal journey began, a spiritual exploration coupled with devoted study and practice. Stern followed her heart to Africa and her travels have harvested many rewards, not the least of which is her brilliant new album, "3".

Over the past 13 years Leni has worked diligently, forging a new sound that is all her own; composing, studying, practicing the rhythms and tonalities of West Africa through the chops of a superlative jazz guitarist. It is on "3" that her most authentic voice can be experienced. Joined by her regular NYC-based band in a pure trio collaboration, featuring Mamadou Ba on bass and Alioune Faye on percussion and vocals, Leni's compositions pay humble homage to the drum patterns of traditional Senegalese folk songs. What emerges is a new repertoire of cross-pollinated ideas with reverence to jazz, blues, and Africa, woven into the music of NYC, creating a brilliant follow up to the critically acclaimed Dakar Suite (2016).

More on the music on "3" with Leni Stern:
Side one of "3" opens with the infectious Senegalese rhythm of mbalax, and that beautiful, sophisticated, worldly, NYC guitar sound that could only belong to Leni Stern, on "Khavare" ("party"). Sabar (a Senegalese drum) parties typically start at midnight and go all night until dawn, all over the world, even here in the U.S. "Barambai", featuring guest Gil Goldstein on accordion, is the Senegalese rhythm of the baby naming ceremony. "While studying n'goni and voice in Bamako, Mali, Ami Sacko and Bassekou Kouyate's children took me to play guitar at similar ceremonies, and I felt incredibly privileged to be part of this. The baby naming and wedding ceremonies played a big part in how I learned to play African music." Leni heard the scale she used to compose "Wakhma" for the first time when checking out flamenco players from Spain (The first two chords of the song are typical of that style. There is a n'goni tuning in Mali that is used for the same scale.) "Wakhma" features Leni's intimate, plaintive vocals - a wonderful treat, as if she's letting us, just us, into her heart. Closing out side one of the album is "Calabas", featuring a stunning solo from husband, the great Mike Stern. "I have tried for years to learn a percussion instrument that would not be detrimental to my guitar playing. Finally while in Mali I discovered the calabas. It can take the place of the bass drum and the snare drum, if you look at it from a western standpoint. Now I can be part of a percussion ensemble!" On Calabas Leni sings: Coumba n'ge duggi marche, Leket chi diggu bobbi (Coumba went to the market with a calabas on her head).

Side two of "3" begins with the magnetic groove and interwoven melodies of "Spell." "I made friends with the Vodoun community and got their blessing to teach the children. The Marabou (sorcerers) of the Vodoun community told me many secret stories. One of them that I liked in particular, because it found its way into the blues, was the story of the spirits meeting at the crossroads at night. This is the reason why people should stay away from there come dusk. In the light of day the Marabou can leave gifts, gold mostly, and requests on people's behalf in a hole in the ground. I can't tell you any more about it, because I promised I would keep the secrets, but let me tell you this: there's a world behind the world we see." "Colombiano" is for Samuel Torres, and features a lovely lullaby-like melody. "We toured in South America last year and got to witness firsthand the influences of African rhythms on the music of the continent. On my return to NYC I asked my friend and composer/percussionist extraordinaire Samuel Torres, who hails from Colombia, to explain all the new rhythms I had learned. He also taught me the musical history of South America, and how the complex and bloody history of Colonialization explains the different musical influences. After Samuel left, I sat down and tried to capture all the stories as I wrote this song." "Assiko" is the Senegalese soccer/football rhythm. "I have always felt that all over the world we have much more in common that what sets us apart. Soccer was the sport of my childhood. I grew up in Munich, which made me very popular in Africa, because Munich is the current world champion in soccer." "3" closes with "Crocodile". In Senegal, similar to many states here in America like Florida, cities and villages have expanded into the wildlife habitat, encroaching on the animals whose very existence is threatened. The animals sometimes fight back! The Walla Walla people are believed to be able to speak with the crocodiles through rhythm and chants. They have done so since as far back as anyone can remember. "We start our song with the chant of the Walla Walla: diggi diggi m'baye diggi nata m'baye, atchoum nya nyama nya momin." 

For full-length song descriptions with Leni Stern, please contact Red Cat Publicity

In our current political climate, it is now even more essential to celebrate the immigrant experience that brought Leni Stern to the U.S. from Germany and her African band mates from Senegal and to revere the diverse languages that she speaks and sings in. It is Leni's unique goal to trace the interconnectedness of music, history, and our humanity. 

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For more information on LENI STERN & "3", and to schedule an interview  Please Contact: Jason Paul Harman Byrne at Red Cat Publicity
646 259 2105;


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Quincy Jones Guitar Protege Andreas Varady "The Quest" on Resonance (Out 4/6)


"When Andreas plays, all you can do is listen, because you are simply left without words." - QUINCY JONES

Resonance Records is Proud to Present 
The Quest is the long-awaited third album from Andreas Varady,
a protégé of the legendary Quincy Jones!
Featuring Varady's father, bassist Bandi and brother, drummer Adrian, 
plus pianist Benito Gonzalez and saxophonist Radovan Tariska
CD & Digital Editions Available on April 6, 2018
iTunes Pre-Order!!
Stream "Radio Joint" on Spotify


Los Angeles, CA (March 2018)- Resonance Records is proud to announce the release of The Quest, the third recording from twenty-year old guitar virtuoso, 
Andreas Varady. With the release of Questions (2010) and his eponymous CD in 2014, the native of Slovakia, and resident of Ireland, emerged from thin air and put the guitar playing world on notice that there was a new force on the instrument to be reckoned with. On The Quest, Varady's artistry has reached new heights, and it's staggering to behold. His unadulterated command of the guitar, his highly-developed skills as a composer, his rhythmic facility (which speaks volumes about his roots in Gypsy music), and his ability to craft an astonishing flow of single-note lines while traversing chord changes, all by ear, has attracted the attention of many legends of this music, not the least of which is Varady's mentor, manager, producer and friend, the esteemed Quincy JonesThe Quest, available on April 6, 2018, features Varady in the company of his father Bandi on bass, younger brother Adrian on drums, fellow Slovak Radovan Tariska on alto saxophone, and Venezuelan native (and current New York City resident) Benito Gonzalez on piano. 

At just twenty, Varady has already performed at major festivals and venues around the world. The next exciting new chapter in the journey of this uber-talented musician begins with the release of The Quest. Varady has expressed that this album, comprised of all original music, feels very much like his first fully realized artistic statement, and indeed it showcases Varady's evolution from child prodigy to consummate artist, one with an abundance of fresh, bold energy. "I feel like I'm giving you a piece of me on this album," said Varady. The album title, which also reads like a mission statement is, "about this whole quest that I'm on in music - seeking cool things, playing cool music in cool places, enjoying it all and having fun and doing what you wanna do," said Varady. The album is also his debut release on the boutique non-profit jazz label, Resonance Records, which signals a departure from his self-titled major label debut on Verve in 2014. Two other Quincy Jones protégés, Justin Kauflin and Alfredo Rodriguez, will also be releasing new albums in 2018.

Resonance EVP/GM (and executive producer on The Quest) Zev Feldman said about first hearing Varady, "Upon first listen, I was struck by his talent and artistry. Then getting a chance to meet him in Ireland, and spending some time talking with him, he just fits the mold of what Resonance is all about in terms of promoting younger artists and sharing their music. We're very happy to have him on the label. It's also a great honor to work with Quincy Jones and his team, and partnering with them to get Andreas' music out there is something we're very proud of. Resonance believes strongly in living artists also, not just those from a bygone era, and it's going to be very exciting to continue to watch him develop and we're thrilled to be able to add a chapter to his legacy on our label."

Varady has many influences. As expected, guitarists such as George Benson, Django Reinhardt, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Peter Bernstein have greatly impacted his playing, but Varady explains, "I've always been obsessed with saxophone players. I get as much influence listening to John Coltrane as I get from guitar players. But at the end of the day, I could list every musician that I've ever listened to as an influence. I act like a sponge that way. Whatever I listen to I always pick up some things, no matter if it's Radiohead or A Tribe Called Quest or Trane. It can be from hip-hop to rock and jazz...everything kind of all inspires me and influences me."

More about Andreas Varady:
A child prodigy of Hungarian Roma descent, Varady picked up guitar at age four and quickly revealed his uncommon gift, learning Kenny Dorham's "Blue Bossa" by ear. At age nine, he moved with his family to Ireland and by age 11, having already absorbed the influences of George Benson and Django Reinhardt, he began busking with his father on the streets of Limerick and Cork. Gigs around Ireland soon followed, mainly with drummer-producer David Lyttle, who produced Varady's first album, 2010's 
Questions. In 2011, at age 13, Andreas appeared with guitar master Martin Taylor at the Inishowen International Guitar Festival in Culdaff and later that year became the youngest headlining artist at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London. Invited to play at the 2012 Montreux Jazz Festival by founder Claude Nobs, he performed for and met Quincy Jones, who signed him to his management company. He was signed to Verve Records in 2013 and his stateside debut, executive produced by David Foster and Quincy Jones and produced by Toto's David Paich, featured guest appearances from singer Gregory Porter and trumpeter Roy Hargrove.

More about the music on The Quest:
(with excerpts from the album's liner notes by Bill Milkowski)
The opener on The Quest"Lost Memories," serves as a kind of mini-overture as Varady unleashes a fusillade of notes over the engaging theme. Up next is the dynamic 
"Radio Joint" establishing the flexible group chemistry while also showcasing urgent solos from Varady and Tariska over a driving 12/8 groove. Gonzalez pushes the envelope in his harmonically probing solo here, which is fueled by Adrian's intense, whirlwind attack around the kit. "He's in a huge growing place right now," says Varady of his younger brother. "He has this kind of ballsy playing style that I felt was the right thing for the tunes on this album." The 15-year-old further showcases his considerable drumming skills on the modal "Follow Me," which culminates in a kinetic call-and-response between the brothers. (By the way, that's Andreas playing double bass on the hip-hop flavored tag).

Varady combines speed and finesse combine on the driving 6/8 composition,
"The Time Is Now" and utilizes some Frisellian backwards guitar effects on the evocative interlude "Patience." The adventurous title track is a centerpiece for this compelling album. Opening with a rubato free section that has Gonzalez playing inside the piano while his band mates add provocative colors and textures, it resolves to a buoyant theme with Andreas and Radovan tied together in tight unisons while navigating a tricky time-shifting terrain. "He's a great player," says Varady of the Slovakian saxophonist, "and I like his strong, darker sound."

The guitarist shows his urbane side on "Story" and the uplifting, melodic number
"Her Dream." Then he swings unabashedly on the up-tempo "Radiska," a burner that also turns Tariska loose and has Gonzalez channeling his inner McCoy Tyner. "His soloing is swinging and very interactive," says Varady of the gifted pianist, who turns in a monstrous solo here. "That's the thing with all of us...we're very interactive on the album. No one is told, 'You do this, you do that.' It's more of a sketch and then see where it goes from there. So it was a natural process. This album was really open, like pure jazz...straight in the moment. That's what I was going for."

The closer, "Outro," featuring more backwards effects over a simple, serene melody, serves as a bridge to what Varady plans to explore in more depth on his next recording. "I thought it would be interesting to just add some of the elements that would be for my upcoming music," he explains. "I'm into a lot of electronic music, I'm into a lot of hip-hop. That's also a part of me, and I thought it would be cool to add that color to the album. It's almost like my one foot is solidly in jazz and on my other foot, my toes are in something else. And it's not like I'm crossing genres, it's more of like going from one of my styles to this other style and merging it all together to create this ultimate thing." 

The Quest Track Listing:

1.     Lost Memories 
2.     Radio Joint 
3.     Follow Me
4.     The Time Is Now
5.     Patience                                                                                                          
6.     The Quest
7.     Story
8.     Her Dream 
9.     Radiska
10.   Outro

Resonance Records is a multi-GRAMMY® Award-winning label (most recently for John Coltrane's Offering: Live at Temple University for "Best Album Notes") that prides itself in creating beautifully designed, informative packaging to accompany previously unreleased recordings by the jazz icons who grace Resonance's catalog. Headquartered in Beverly Hills, CA, Resonance Records is a division of Rising Jazz Stars, Inc. a California 501(c) (3) non-profit corporation created to discover the next jazz stars and advance the cause of jazz. Current Resonance Artists include Richard Galliano, Polly Gibbons, Tamir Hendelman, Christian Howes, Donald Vega and Andreas Varady. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Flutist/Composer JAMIE BAUM Explores Links Between Sacred Music Traditions on BRIDGES, A Riveting New Album by The Jamie Baum Septet+


Flutist/Composer JAMIE BAUM Explores Links Between Sacred Music Traditions on BRIDGES,
A Riveting New Album by The Jamie Baum Septet+ 

Co-produced by Jamie Baum and Richie Beirach
Available May 18, 2018 on Sunnyside Records

Jamie Baum Septet+ CD Release Celebrations for BRIDGES:
May 25 - Firehouse 12, New Haven, CT, 
May 26 - The Cell Theater, NYC, 
May 27 - StageOne, Fairfield Theatre Company, Fairfield, CT,

The Jamie Baum Septet+
Jamie Baum-flutes, singing bowl, Amir ElSaffar-trumpet, vocals, 
Sam Sadigursky
-alto sax/bass clarinet, Chris Komer-French horn, Brad Shepik-guitar, John Escreet-piano, Zack Lober-bass, singing bowl, Jeff Hirshfield-drums
Special Guests on BridgesJamey Haddad-percussion, 
Navin Chettri
-percussion, vocals

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Other Upcoming Tour Dates, With Jamie Baum & Short Stories: 

Jamie Baum & Short StoriesJamie Baum-flutes, 
Andy Milne-piano, Andrew Rathbun-sax, Joe Martin-bass, 
Jeff Hirshfield-drums  

April 13 - University of Wisconsin-Madison
, concert & workshops 
April 14 - The Glen, Glenview, IL, afternoon concert
April 14 - Constellation, Chicago, IL, evening concert
April 15 - Chicago Flute Club, afternoon concert & workshop
April 15 - The Jazz Estate, Milwaukee, WI, evening concert
April 16 - Western Michigan University School of Music, Kalamazoo, MI   concert & workshops

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Hailed by DownBeat Magazine for her "remarkable artistic facility" and by The New York Times for her "remarkable balance of fluidity and restless creativity," New York-based flutist/composer and 2014 Guggenheim Fellow Jamie Baum is proud to announce the release of her sixth CD as a leader, Bridges, featuring The Jamie Baum Septet+. The highly anticipated follow-up to her 2013 recording In This LifeBridges offers yet another recording of incredible depth, beauty, spirituality, undiluted zeal and is the culmination of Baum's search for common links between some of the world's great religious music traditions. While conducting research for her Guggenheim Fellowship Award, Baum explains, "I found there to be very deep connections going back centuries, between certain types of Jewish music (my earliest musical influences), and Muslim/Arabic and Hindu/South Asian music." Exploring these musical connections, and composing new music inspired by her findings, became the focus of Bridges.

Baum's advanced harmonic sensibility and sonic imagination, beautifully brought to life by the stellar members of her long-running ensemble, proves yet again the capacity of modern jazz to absorb and transform music of diverse traditions, without sacrificing the improvisatory element at the core of jazz's identity. In her album notes Baum cites Wikipedia's definition of the word "bridge," one that seems to sum up her artistic mission here: "a structure built to span physical obstacles without closing the way underneath." At the same time, Baum's musical wanderings highlight something even deeper: our shared humanity, and the common threads that run throughout our history.

With great respect for these varied traditions and their vast languages, Baum's goal was not to play or compose exactly in these styles, but to have her travels and playing experiences inspire new ways of writing and improvising. The diverse musicians who make up the Jamie Baum Septet+ are all first-call artists on the jazz scene, many of them accomplished leaders in their own right. Their presence gives Baum limitless compositional freedom and inspiration: "Having specific players to write for is a bandleader/composer's dream and offers an incredible opportunity for experimentation and growth," she says. We hear this borne out in the lyrical melodies, intricate contrapuntal passages and complex rhythmic ideas at the heart of Bridges, and in the textural warmth and surprise of Sam Sadigursky's alto sax and bass clarinet, Brad Shepik's guitar, Amir ElSaffar's trumpet and voice, John Escreet's dazzlingly virtuosic piano and of course Baum's compelling improvisations on flute and alto flute throughout the album.

Baum's fascination with world sacred music traditions stemmed from her love of South Asian music and in particular for Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Pakistan's late Qawwali vocal master. Her previous album In This Life was inspired by Khan's legacy, because she "found in him what I have found in those musicians who have touched me, like Coltrane, Miles and Pavarotti...a truly gifted, deeply spiritual and soulful artist," Baum writes in her album notes. Expanding her focus from Qawwali outward to other forms of religious music, Baum arrived at the focus of Bridges.

Khan's influence is also felt on "Joyful Lament," derived from a melody of Khan's called "Lament," Baum explains. This piece was arranged with Shepik's guitar in mind, and "his solo certainly exceeds anything I could have imagined," Baum enthuses.

In addition to her study of Khan, Baum's travels to India and especially Jazzmandu, the Kathmandu Jazz Festival, in 2003 and again in 2009, widened her musical horizons immeasurably. The three-movement "Honoring Nepal: The Shiva Suite," a centerpiece of Bridges, represents Baum's wish to give back to a community that has given her so much. The piece was commissioned by the Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art in New York. "It was difficult to watch the pain and destruction the 2015 earthquake caused to the beautiful people and historic sites in Nepal, including musicians I knew and places I'd been," Baum writes. "I knew I wanted to highlight and pay tribute in some way to this event and found inspiration in a painting of Shiva ... a pan-Hindu deity revered widely by Hindus in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Shiva is the 'destroyer of evil and the transformer' within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu. Shiva is the Supreme Being who creates, protects and transforms the universe. Completely contradictory aspects of life have been built into the personality of Shiva.... A particular 'thank you' to my rhythm section [Escreet, bassist Zack Lober and drummer Jeff Hirshfield] for their drive, sensitivity and expertise in navigating and highlighting the changing colors, dynamics and intensity, giving so much meaning to the arc and intent of this suite!"

The Nepali influence emerges again on "Mantra," arranged by Baum with Nepali musician Navin Chettri, who plays tanpura and sings on the track. The tune is based on Mahamrityunjaya Mantra "meant for healing, rejuvenation and nurturance," Baum writes. "According to Shiva Purana when you have fear of any unknown event this chant helps you to overcome the fear. The Shiva Purana is the highest science of elevating human nature to the very peak of consciousness, expressed in the form of very beautiful stories."

"From the Well" opens the album with the sound of a scale "common to Maqam, Jewish and South Asian music," writes Baum. "Song Without Words," a tribute to Baum's late father, highlights the composer's Jewish influence - in particular the Kol Nidre prayer so central to the holiday of Yom Kippur. "There Are No Words," with its relaxed straight-eighth feel and beautiful chamber-like interplay within the ensemble, revisits the theme of loss as well. And the closing track, "Ucross Me," was written during Baum's residency at the UCross Artist Colony in Clearmont, Wyoming in March 2015. It's a piece "about crossing boundaries and connecting influences," Baum writes, encapsulating the theme of Bridges as a whole.

In addition to her Guggenheim Fellowship (an honor she shared the same year with Steve Coleman and Elliott Sharp), Baum was awarded the 2017 New Music USA Project Grant and selected as a 2014-15 Norman Stevens Fellow during her MacDowell Colony residency. Baum's exemplary career has been built on superlative performances in the studio and on stages around the world, alongside a long list of renowned jazz artists including Randy Brecker, Mick Goodrick, Tom Harrell, Dave Douglas, Fred Hersch, Uri Caine, Ralph Alessi, David Binney, Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith and many others. She has placed in the DownBeat Critics' Polls annually since 1998 and has been nominated by the Jazz Journalists Association as "Flutist of the Year" eight times; the Jamie Baum Septet+ was nominated in 2014 as "Best Midsize Ensemble of the Year" in the same category as the Wayne Shorter Quartet and Steve Coleman's Five Elements. She has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, International Jazz Composers Alliance, Meet the Composer, Chamber Music America and the American Music Center. Her playing credits include tours as a State Dept./Kennedy Center Jazz Ambassador, in 1999 to South America and in 2002 to India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Thailand and Bangladesh. Baum has served on the faculty of the jazz department at Manhattan School of Music since 2007 and on the adjunct faculty roster at the New School University since 2004. Altus Flutes/KHS America has sponsored her innovative clinic "A Fear-Free Approach to Improvisation for the Classically Trained Musician"™ at colleges, conservatories, festivals, flute clubs and "music and art" schools worldwide since 1993.
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Jamie Baum will be attending JazzAhead in Bremen, April 2018 and is available for select interviews - international press enquiries welcome!
Press Enquiries on Jamie Baum & Bridges, Please Contact: 
Jason Paul Harman Byrne at Red Cat Publicity

Andrew Rathbun Releases New Jazz Orchestra Recording on Origin Records

Andrew Rathbun Releases New Jazz Orchestra Recording on Origin Records Composer-Arranger Sets Margaret Atwood Poems to Music on 2-CD Set

Continuing a prolific streak over the past two decades, saxophonist-composer-arranger Andrew Rathbun premieres three new suites of moving, meaningful music on his triumphant large ensemble debut for Origin Records. Two of the suites, “Two Islands” and “Power Politics,” are set to the evocative poetry of Margaret Atwood, who has enjoyed a rediscovery in the wake of the popularity of the Golden Globe-winning original series on Hulu, The Handmaid’s Tale, based on the Toronto native’s darkly dystopian and some would say prescient novel published in 1985 set in a near-futuristic totalitarian society. Rathbun’s extremely ambitious 2-CD set, Atwood Suites, includes music from a third five-movement suite. Recorded in just three days in New York, it documents the composer’s most accomplished and compelling writing to date, performed by a stellar crew of the Big Apple’s finest, many of whom are leaders and composers in their own right. Anchored by drum- mer Bill Stewart, who’s propulsive drive and interactive instincts color the proceedings in wholly unique ways, this mammoth undertaking features the brilliant flugelhorn playing of Tim Hagans and showcases the wistful, alluring vocals of Rathbun’s longtime collaborator Luciana Souza, who breathes new life into the Atwood poems “Excerpt From Circle/Music Poems” on the “Two Islands” suite and “We Are Hard On Each Other” on the “Power Politics” suite. “Luciana does such a great job,” he said. “The project really can’t be realized without her in a lot of ways. Of course, she did a record of poems by Pablo Neruda and another set to the poems of Eliza- beth Bishop, so she really knows what’s involved. She’s a pivotal part of this recording.”

The composer thanks his mother, an English teacher, for initially turning him on to the poetry of Margaret Atwood. “I had read ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ but knew nothing about her poetry. My mom just sent me a photo- copy of a bunch of different things, a couple of which I actually set to music for my True Stories project in 2001, which also featured Luciana.” Regarding his main muse for this project, fellow Canadian Atwood, the Toronto native and Professor of Saxo- phone and Jazz Studies at Western Michigan University recalled, “We’ve met twice. The last time was after a lecture she gave on her book “Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing” in New York. I was just really lucky again this time around again to get her blessing to use her work. I was a bit concerned this time around, due to the fact that the Netflix series has been so popular, but luckily it all worked out.”

Rathbun explains that his attraction to Atwood’s poetry came from an inherent lyric nature in the text that he felt an immediate affinity for. “I don’t consider myself an expert on poetry, but as a musician thinking about poetry, it’s got to sort of resemble a lyric in a way. It doesn’t have to necessarily have a rhyming scheme but it has to have an internal natural rhythm that sort of draws me in to want to set it to music. Even if the phrases are in odd groupings or kind of have a strange gait, it still has to be able to function within a musical phrase. So when I started reading her poetry I thought, ‘this would be perfect to set to music.’ So I had a go with a number of different pieces and it was a different process for me because when you’re setting music to text it’s kind of like writing music with one arm tied behind your back. Your melodic shapes and phrases have to adapt to the text.”

The roots of this latest Rathbun project go back to 2001, when the saxophonist was asked by the great Canadi- an trumpeter-composer Kenny Wheeler to write some new material for an engagement at the Birdland night- club in New York City. He came up with the three-movement “Power Politics” suite, which was performed by Wheeler’s big band at Birdland but never recorded. “I wrote those with Kenny in mind,” he explained. “One of my dreams was to get to get to record that with him but it just wasn’t in the cards. I’ve been working with Tim Hagans a little bit lately and thought he’d be great for this. He’s got a whole other thing, this incredible slippery chromatic language that he brings to the table, which I adore.

Hagans figures prominently on the two Atwood suites contained on the first CD. As renowned big band pianist-composer-arranger Jim McNeely points out in his liner notes to Atwood Suites, the flugelhornist’s “lyri- cism ranges from thoughtfully introspective to wildly expressive.” From his bracing solo on the first movement to “Two Islands” to his golden tones on the achingly beautiful second movement to his surging exclamations on the swinging section of the third movement, Hagans presence is deeply felt on this outing. Likewise, he delivers an attractive flugelhorn solo in the first movement of “Power Politics,” navigates the churning 6/8 groove of the second movement and delivers a bristling solo over Stewart’s interactive pulse and guitarist Nate Radley’s rich voicings on the third movement. Trombonist Mike Fahie, tenor saxophonist Dan Pratt and alto saxophonist John O’Gallagher also contribute potent solos throughout the highly charged “Power Politics” suite.
Rathbun conceived “Two Islands” during his residency at the Atlantic Center of the Arts artists’ colony in Florida during the late 2000s. “I brought a couple anthologies of Margaret Atwood’s work with me and just and started experimenting with that poem. And after a couple of weeks I had sketched most of the suite. There was a com- poser there at the same time named Lewis Spratlan, an amazing Pulitzer Prize winning composer. He was really helpful in bouncing ideas off of during the writing, frequently offering sage suggestions. And the things he’d say about music were really inspirational to me.”
The other pieces on this 2-CD set, including the aggressive “Fractured” (inspired, as Rathbun notes, “by the con- tinued political divisions that have plagued this county for the last decade and seem to get worse rather than improve”) and the majestic three movements, “V” “I” “II,” utilize the soaring wordless vocals of singer Aubrey Johnson. “I used her voice more like an instrument,” Rathbun explains. “She’s got this beautiful sound, with a light and flexible vocal quality, which blends really well in the ensemble. She sang some of my other vocal music, and I thought she would be a great addition to this project.”

Rathbun has similar kudos for Stewart, a remarkably flexible drummer who has been a longstanding sideman to guitarist John Scofield. “He’s not normally known as a big band guy, but I was curious to see what it would sound like if he was put in the middle of all this stuff. His beat and his phrasing and the way he sets things up are incredibly contagious and also different than anyone who, for lack of a better term, is more of a big band drummer. So I was really excited to get him into the mix. He just brings this propulsion to the music that is one of a kind. He’s not only got great time and feel but he’s also an incredible listener. He knows exactly how much to contrast what the soloist is playing and how much to complement.”
All the elements of churning rhythms, attractive melodies, exquisite textures and rich colors come together in stunning fashion on Atwood Suites, Rathbun’s crowning achievement to date. Meanwhile, the composer is “clearing the decks” to create his next opus. “My writing has taken on, I hope, some new characteristics that I do want to document in the future. So I was determined to get all this stuff that I’ve written out of the way and next time around start with a blank-slate. I want to put the things that I’ve already completed in the rear view mirror now. Let’s look ahead and see what comes next.” Stay tuned. There’s more to come for this important voice on the modern jazz scene.
Bill Milkowski
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Friday, February 16, 2018

Anat Cohen & Fred Hersch Present Their Debut Duo Recording LIVE IN HEALDSBURG


Anat Cohen & Fred Hersch Present Their Debut Duo Recording LIVE IN HEALDSBURG
Available on Anzic Records, March 9, 2018

Cohen and Hersch are both 2018 double Grammy Nominated artists; here they combine forces for their brilliant debut duo recording!

"The lyric beauty of her tone, easy fluidity of her technique and extroverted manner of her delivery make this music accessible to all."
- Howard Reich, The Chicago Tribune on Anat Cohen

"...a pianist, composer and conceptualist of rare imaginative power."
- Nate Chinen, The New York Times on Fred Hersch


Anat Cohen and Fred Hersch, two of most prolific and celebrated artists in modern jazz today, proudly announce the release of their debut duo recording, Live In Healdsburg. The album, due out on Anzic Records on March 9, displays qualities these world-class artists, and expert collaborators, have in abundance: empathy, open hearts, big ears, quick instincts, and an ego-less approach to the music. Cohen and Hersch also have the rare gift of combining virtuosity and beauty, which permeates every note they play.  

As remarkable a clarinetist as she is, I have rarely played with a musician who listens so well. Often in the middle of a solo, she will stop playing and just check out what I am doing. She has amazing ears and such an ease with her instrument that she can really 'tell stories' in the moment. And Anat always imparts a sense of joy and passion to everything she plays. It is a true pleasure to make music with her! - Fred Hersch

Playing with Fred feels like swimming in an endless sea of possibilities. Fred is finely tuned to the moment and always ready to take the music in any direction - swinging, open, serious, humorous, groovy and always tasteful. Fred's incredible playing and his fascinating palate of colors and moods inspire me to jump in with my clarinet and go on an adventure together. It is a true pleasure to make music with him! - Anat Cohen

Live In Healdsburg comes on the heels of Anat's Tentet recording, Happy Song, and her two Brazilian albums, Outra Coisa: The Music of Moacir Santos (with 7-guitarist Marcello Gonçalves) and Rosa Dos Ventos (with Trio Brasileiro), both nominated for Grammy Awards this year. This trio of releases follows her previous album, Luminosa (2015). "The sound of Luminosa reflects my musical life in New York City," she explained. "I flow between modern and traditional jazz, between samba and choro - all maybe in a week's time. The title is Portuguese for luminous and to me, music is a luminous experience. Whenever I'm immersed in it, life lights up for me, no matter what else is going on." In a feature on LuminosaNPR said: "Jazz musicians don't get much more global than Anat Cohen." Prior to that release came Claroscuro in 2012, another worldly collection that featured such guests as Paquito D'Rivera and Wycliffe Gordon - and garnered a four-and-a-half-star review in DownBeat Magazine. In 2009, Anat was the first Israeli to ever headline the hallowed Village Vanguard, a stand that yielded a quartet tribute to the Benny Goodman songbook in Clarinetwork: Live at the Village Vanguard(2010). Notes from the Village (2008) was a showcase for her multi-reed talents in quartet and quintet settings, and she released two albums in 2007, the orchestral Noir and string quartet-laced Poetica. Anat made her leader debut with the small-combo Place & Time (2005). Anat has also recorded four acclaimed albums as part of the3 Cohens Sextet with her brothers, saxophonist Yuval and trumpeter Avishai: One (2003), Braid (2007), Family (2011) and Tightrope (2013), with their work together landing them on the cover of DownBeat.

All About Jazz aptly called Anat "one of a kind," and she has won over the most knowing of jazz sages: Dan Morgenstern praised her "gutsy, swinging" style, Ira Gitler her "liquid dexterity and authentic feeling," and Gary Giddins her musicality "that bristles with invention." The late Nat Hentoff said: "Anat does what all authentic musicians do: She tells stories from her own experiences that are so deeply felt that they are very likely to connect listeners to their own dreams, desires and longings."

For Fred HerschLive In Healdsburg is the follow up recording to his latest CD, the double Grammy nominated, Open Book (his 11th and 12th nominations). This album with Ms. Cohen is also the latest recording in a stunningly impressive discography that dates back to the 1980s and encompasses more than twenty albums as a leader. Hersch has also appeared on more than thirty recordings as co-leader, over two dozen albums as a featured soloist (including the album Tightrope from The 3 Cohens, on Anzic), and more than sixty recordings as a sideman, for the likes of Art Farmer, Lee Konitz, Toots Thielemans, Eddie Daniels, Billy Harper and many others. Hersch, a Guggenheim fellow, recently released his memoir, Good Things Happen Slowly, which was featured in the Sunday New York Times and was named one of 2017's Five Best Memoirs by The Washington Post.

ANAT COHEN/FRED HERSCH - Live In Healdsburg 
1. A Lark (Fred Hersch) 8:23
2. Child's Song (Fred Hersch) 7:21
3. The Purple Piece (Anat Cohen) 8:27
4. Isfahan (Billy Strayhorn) 8:05
5. Lee's Dream (Fred Hersch) 5:19
6. Peacocks (Jimmy Rowles) 10:25
7. Jitterbug Waltz (Fats Waller) 8:19
8. Mood Indigo - Encore (Duke Ellington) 5:13

Recorded live at the Healdsburg Jazz Festival, Raven Performing Arts Theater, Healdsburg, CA, June 11, 2016

Anat Cohen On Tour - 2018

March 2 - NYC @ The 92nd Street Y

March 10 - Cambridge, MA @ Sanders Theatre
Double Bill with Ben Wendel Seasons Group

March 14-17 - Davis, CA @ Mondavi Center for The Performing Arts
Fred Hersch & Anat Cohen Duo

 March 18 - Boise, Idaho @ Boise State University
Fred Hersch & Anat Cohen Duo

March 20 & 21 - Seattle, WA @ Dimitriou's Jazz Alley
Fred Hersch & Anat Cohen Duo

April 5 - Lawrence, KS @ Lied Center of Kansas
Special Guest w/ KU Jazz Ensemble I 

 April 7 - Kansas City, MO @ American Jazz Museum
Anat Cohen Tentet

April 8 - Columbia, MO @ "We Always Swing"® Jazz Series

Anat Cohen Tentet

April 9 & 10 - Lebanon, IL @ Hettenhausen Center for the Arts, 
 McKendree University

Anat Cohen Tentet

April 11 - Dayton, OH @ Sears Recital Hall, University of Dayton

Anat Cohen Tentet

April 21 - Davie, FL @ Bailey Hall, Broward College

Anat Cohen Quartet

 May 5 - Washington, DC @ John F. Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts
Celebrate Mary Lou Williams featuring the Anat Cohen Tentet 

May 31 - Sante Fe, NM @ Lensic Performing Arts Center
Fred Hersch & Anat Cohen Duo

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