[Music] Wadada Leo Smith – Spiritual Dimensions

A proper two-album set by Wadada Leo Smith, this double disc comes complete with two different, yet somehow well-meshed bands.  To see what I mean, take a look at each lineup:

Disc One:

Wadada Leo Smith – trumpet
Vijay Iyer – piano, synthesizer
John Lindberg – bass
Pheeroan AkLaff – drums
Don Moye – drums

Disc Two:

Wadada Leo Smith – trumpet
Nels Cline – guitar
Michael Gregory – guitar
Brandon Ross – guitar
Lamar Smith – guitar
Okkyung Lee – cello
John Lindberg – double bass
Skuli Sverrisson – electric bass
Pheeroan AkLaff – drums

These lineups are the cream of the crop of the improvisational music scene.  The music is as enjoyably quirky and free as you would expect from a collaboration as grand as this.

[Music] ZEAL ONYIA-TRUMPET KING ZEAL ONYIA RETURNS. — dereksmusicblog

Zeal Onyia-Trumpet King Zeal Onyia Returns. Label: BBE Music. It was none other than Louis Armstrong who upon hearing Zeal Onyia for the first time described him as: “the highlife hep cat of Nigerian jazz trumpet’. Like so many others before him, Louis Armstrong was captivated by the combination of Zeal Onyia’s unique tone, rhythm […]

via ZEAL ONYIA-TRUMPET KING ZEAL ONYIA RETURNS.  — dereksmusicblog

[Music] The Ed Palermo Big Band – Eddy Loves Frank


 
Judging by the quality of the music and the fact that this is Ed Palermo’s third full-length album dedicated to Frank Zappa’s avant-big-band interpretations, I think that the album title is apropos.  Eddy does indeed loves Frank!  From his Bandcamp site:

Ed and his amazing 16 piece band (+ guests) return with his third album of his distinctive, big-band interpretations of the great 20th century composer, Frank Zappa. This body of work has won them huge acclaim from both new and old fans of the music and they even appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition for a short feature which was heard by millions of listeners in 2006. For those not already familiar with Ed’s colorful, jazz-based arrangements of Zappa’s compositions, Ed has led a big band for 30 years (!) and has had his band performing the music of Frank Zappa for 15 years. Many years of playing these pieces in front of hugely enthusiastic crowds have honed the band’s skills interpreting Zappa’s beautiful but notoriously difficult material to where they are able to perform these challenging charts with apparent ease. All of these musicians are high caliber, hugely talented NYC professional players, and most of them have been playing this music for a decade and a half with this group, not because it is a good paying gig (it isn’t) but because they all admire and appreciate the genius of Zappa’s work and they love having the opportunity to be able to perform these terrifically exciting charts.

“Wonderful, breathtaking, fantastic, exhilarating, great sound, great production, great musicianship…I run out of superlatives…”
– paradoxone.uk

“Palermo developed these charts during years of live shows with these musicians, and their mastery of the material shows in the performances, which turn on a dime yet feel fierce with spontaneous invention…. Palermo’s arrangements and these performances are precise, dedicated, raucous and incisive—just like Zappa himself.”
– JazzTimes

“Palermo uses Zappa’s compositions as a framework for inspiration, rather than simply trying to recreate what is already available on CD.”
– allaboutjazz.com 

 

[Music] Santiago Fradejas – The Box You Sleep In

It’s a very happy occasion when I get to review a new album by Santiago Fradejas!  Our friend, guitarist and composer now based in Barcelona, Spain, comes at us with another disc full of soundscapes which sit well between the more mellow compositions of John McLaughlin, the usual powerful post-Industrial soundscapes, and maybe because I have been listening a lot to him lately, some bits that would not sound out-of-place in a Charles Mingus album.

[Music] Various Artists – La Casa Murada MoonJune Sessions, Volume 1

MoonJune Records have established themselves as one of the premier record labels operating in the United States.  Promoting jazz, progressive and improvisational music, they work with some of the finest names in these genres in the world.

It seems that La Casa Murada is a recording studio inside a farmhouse based in Catalonia, Spain, where some of the house musicians get recorded. This is where the label’s magic takes place, so this compilation is a great way to sample what the company has to offer.

[Music] Maurice Louca – Elephantine

Maurice Louca is a 36-year-old composer and guitarist/pianist from Cairo, Egypt.  This work, a co-release by the labels Northern Spy and Sub Rosa Records is his masterpiece; a composition sitting on the apex of psychedelic progressive rock, modern classical, jazz and shaabi music.  Really swinging listening.  From his Bandcamp website:

On Elephantine, his new Northern Spy/Sub Rosa album, Cairo-based Maurice Louca guides a 12-piece ensemble through a panoramic 38-minute odyssey, which he describes as his most ambitious project yet.

One of the most gifted, prolific and adventurous figures on Egypt’s thriving experimental arts scene, Louca has in recent years garnered a global reputation through two previous solo albums and an expanding, evolving lineup of genre-defying collaborations. The Wire called his 2014 sophomore solo effort, Salute the Parrot, “remarkable music—dense, driven and splashed with colour.” In 2017, the self-titled debut by Lekhfa, the trio of Louca and vocalists Maryam Saleh and Tamer Abu Ghazaleh, was praised as an “edgy triumph” in The Guardian and picked by BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction as one of the very best 12 albums of 2017.

For Louca, 36, Elephantine serves as both the pinnacle of his wide-ranging experience and a bold next step in his development as a composer, arranger and bandleader. The celebrated Egyptian visual artist Maha Maamoun has created the album cover art, following her contribution to Salute the Parrot. “There was a blessed thing about the process of making this record,” Louca says of the sessions, held last year in Stockholm and featuring the leader on guitar and piano. “The dynamic between us musically but also as people …What these musicians delivered was really more than I could ask for, Everyone played their hearts out on this record.”

The music—from its pensive lulls through its stretches of hard-grooving hypnosis and moments of avant-jazz catharsis—testifies to that rapport. Best absorbed as a continuous performance, Elephantine’s six individually named tracks nonetheless present striking self-contained landscapes. “The Leper” entrances through a deft use of repetition that Louca gleaned from cosmic jazz, African and Yemeni music and other transcendental modal traditions. (Those who’ve followed Louca’s work might be reminded of the Dwarfs of East Agouza, his mesmeric unit with Shalabi and Sun City Girls’ Alan Bishop.)

“Laika” manages to evoke the minimalists, though on the combustible terms of ’60s and ’70s free jazz; “One More for the Gutter,” on which Louca ingeniously pits one half of his ensemble against the other, albeit in a synergistic way, mines similarly fiery terrain. “The Palm of a Ghost” distills the band to a Cairo-rooted core, featuring stirring spontaneous melodies from oud player Natik Awayez, violinist Ayman Asfour and vocalist Nadah El Shazly. The album’s title track follows, and it too blurs the border between composition and improvisation with gorgeously atmospheric results. “Al Khawaga,” with its colossal ensemble riffs, beautifully dirty swing and impassioned blowing, is an ideal finale.

Elephantine will be released on Vinyl (via Sub Rosa), CD & digital streaming/download (Northern Spy). It was recorded in Stockholm in August 2017 at Stureparken Studios by Ronny Lahti, mixed by Adham Zidan and mastered by Heba Kadry.

credits

released February 1, 2019

Tommaso Cappellato (Drums/Percussions)
Ozun Usta (Drums/Percussions)
Elsa Bergman (Bass)
Pasquale Mirra (Vibraphone)
Piero Bittolo (Baritone Sax/Alto Sax/Bass Flute)
Anna Högberg (Alto Sax)
Rasmus Kjærgård Lund (Tuba)
Isak Hedtjärn (Clarinet/Bass Clarinet)
Nadah El Shazly (Vocals)
Natik Awayez (Oud)
Ayman Asfour (Violin)
Maurice Louca (Guitar/Piano)

Recorded by: Ronny Lahti
(In the Palm of a Ghost) recorded by: Adham Zidan
Mixed by: Adham Zidan
Mastered by: Heba Kadry

[Music] Various Artists – The Library Archive: Funk, Jazz, Beats and Soundtracks from the Vaults of Cavendish Music


Though I’m enthralled with library music at the moment, thanks to my friend Chris, who has served as a bit of a guru for me, I’m disappointed to see that there isn’t much in the way of literature documenting how these classic discs came to be.  Thankfully, through the work of labels like BBE Music, we’re being treated to some remarkable compilations, giving a synopsis of the brilliant music we managed to miss out on.

From the Bandcamp site:

Join two of BBE’s most prolific artists and compilers, Mr Thing & Chris Read on a voyage into the mysterious, strange and wonderful world of Library Music, courtesy of Cavendish Music. Founded in 1937 and originally known as Boosey & Hawkes Recorded Music Library, Cavendish Music is the largest independent Library Music publisher in the UK and also represents a host of music catalogues across the globe.

During the Library Music heyday of the 60s and 70s, thousands of original instrumental tracks were produced across a broad range of genres for companies like Cavendish, who then created vinyl and tape collections, often arranged by theme or mood, for their customers in radio, television and film. Cult British TV shows such as The Sweeney and The Professionals as well as documentaries and feature films relied heavily on these catalogues, and companies like KPM, De Wolfe and Boosey & Hawkes went a long way toward defining the sound of British popular culture at the time.

Never commercially available, music created for these libraries that never made it to the promised land of TV or Radio was destined to languish in Cavendish Music’s vast London vault; only recently unearthed by a new generation of DJs and producers searching for rare gems or a perfect sample.

Mr Thing & Chris Read were first invited to examine the contents of the Cavendish Music archive in 2014 as part of WhoSampled’s ‘Samplethon’ event in which producers created new tracks against the clock using sample material mined from the catalogue. Whilst digging through box upon box of records and tapes looking for interesting sounds, the pair also discovered a host of 70s library music which has not only stood the test of time, but deserves to be heard in its original form.

From dramatic big band numbers reminiscent of Lalo Schifrin’s film scores to atmospheric proto-hip hop instrumentals produced before the genre’s existence, right through to fairly straightforward jazz and funk cuts; this amazing collection of music is sure to inspire and delight DJs and beatmakers the world over.

[Music] Massive Suits Quartet – Full Moon Wizard


Spaceship jazz.  These guys have coined a perfect term for themselves.  We have free jazz, dark jazz, all sorts of jazz, but this release by France’s Massive Suits Quartet has to be one of the most enjoyable ones of 2019.

There are touches of that ur-spaceship jazz cat Sun Ra, a wee bit of percussive hip-hop beats far off in the distance, and a vibe that would not feel too out of place in a cocktail lounge.

MSQ have left a very good impression.