RELEASE DAY: Matthew Stevens’ ‘Woodwork’ feat: Gerald Clayton, Vicente Archer, Eric Doob and Paulo Stagnaro released today.

Matthew Stevens FB avaITUNES

 

Click here for a CD or digital albums (ALAC, FLAC, MP3s and more)

 

NYC-based guitarist and composer Matthew Stevens is heralded as one of the most promising young artists in contemporary jazz music through his associations with NEXT Collective, Christian Scott, Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington, Walter Smith III, and Harvey Mason. Now Stevens comes fully into his own with his debut recording as a leader, Woodwork. The album showcases Stevens’ diverse influences, his warm, robust sound, and his fluid, emotive playing at the helm of a stellar quintet which features multiple Grammy-nominated pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist Vicente Archer, drummer Eric Doob and percussionist Paulo Stagnaro.

 

The album’s title, Stevens says, reflects the almost tactile way in which he creates music. “It’s a metaphor for how I see myself interacting with sound. Woodwork is an act of creation in collaboration with the natural world; it invokes a sense of being handmade or one of a kind. These raw materials exist regardless of whether or not you do something with them, so I try to respect that and let the music unfold naturally.”

Woodwork places the sound of Stevens’ guitar front and center, achieving a full-bodied resonance that captures the immersive feeling of a live concert experience. “When you listen to a saxophone or a trumpet, you often feel like you’re right there in the room with no buffer,” Stevens explains. “There’s a real sense of immediacy when you hear them on record, and I miss that on the guitar. As a guitarist, your touch and articulation contribute hugely to your identity as an instrumentalist, so if you have none of that air in the sound you lose a lot of nuance. I put a microphone in front of my guitar as well as the amp so it didn’t just feel in your face, but like the music was alive and moving around in the room.”

A self-described guitar fanatic who fell in love with his father’s Jimi Hendrix records as a child and never looked back, Stevens purposely assembled his band to allow the guitar to express his melodies alone. His strings shimmer over percussive interplay on opener “Ashes One,” then weave a hypnotic groove on “Star L.A;” they sing the folk-inspired melody of the title track and roar on the album’s driving composition, “Uptown Dance Party.” The elusive “Sunday” continues the genre-bridging mission of the NEXT Collective with a haunting David Bowie cover, while “Blasted” pays homage to Wayne Shorter with its churning, circular melody. Stevens was recently invited by musical director Terri Lyne Carrington to perform at a fundraiser for the upcoming documentary Wayne Shorter: Zero Gravity alongside an all-star lineup including Shorter, Hancock, Spalding, Marcus Miller, Lalah Hathaway,Corrine Bailey Rae, Lizz Wright and Dee Dee Bridgewater.

Stevens possesses a rare ability to marry singable melodies with cerebral complexity, as on the tense, shifting “Sequel” or the knotty “Grown Ups.” A through-composed duo for guitar and piano, “Gently” mesmerizingly interlaces Stevens’ and Clayton’s expressive lines. “Brothers,” performed as a trio with Archer and Doob, embraces the sound of the acoustic guitar from the blossoming resonance to the scrape of fingers on strings. And this was no ordinary acoustic guitar; much of the album was recorded at the Clubhouse Studio in Rhinebeck, New York, which just happens to own an early-70s Lowden formerly played by late folk legend Pete Seeger. It was that axe that Stevens reverently wielded for this song. “Collectively we were each able to tap into what we all think is important musically,” Stevens says. “In my own experience there’s nothing that feels more exciting than that.”

 

Here’s a full length version of the title track:

 

Alice Zawadski nominated for Best British Vocalist in 2015 Jazz FM Awards & Jazz FM session.

At times conjuring thoughts of Bjork or Kate Bush while sounding like neither.” Jazz Journal

 

Congratulations to Alice Zawadzki who has been nominated for Best British Vocalist at this year’s Jazz FM Awards, alongside Zara McFarlane and Lauren Kinsella.  The Jazz FM Awards, produced by Serious, take place on Wednesday 10th June 2015 and mark the radio station’s 25th birthday celebrations.

Amongst the burgeoning talent on the London alternative music scene, singer-songwriter, violinist and pianist Alice Zawadzki stands out from the crowd. The past few years she’s acquired a buzz from musicians, critics, club owners and fans alike, the result of her ability to communicate through her music with simple yet profound purity; she’s being talked about as one of the most infectious singer/songwriters to appear in some time. Her diverse background and ability to perform across genres- while retaining her own intelligent musical style- give her a unique accessibility. Says London Jazz about Zawadzki, “The range of textures and colors, the expressive possibilities seemed more or less infinite.”

Tune in to Jazz FM this Saturday at 10am to hear Alice talking to Nigel Williams about the nomination and her critically acclaimed album China Lane  

Alice’s Jazz FM session, with Alex Roth on guitar and Joe Stoddart on electric bass, will be featured during Nigel’s programme at 10am on Saturday May 23rd (here) as well as on The Performance Series (Monday 25 May – 6pm). (here)

 

BIG NEWS: Joel Harrison to release ‘Spirit House’ featuring Cuong Vu, Paul Hanson, Kermit Driscoll and Brian Blade on 7th July 2015.

Joel Harrison FB

 Joel Harrison releases Spirit House, his new quintet recording on 7th July 2015

 

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A broad-thinking musician with a prolific and extensive back catalog of releases – from duo and chamber to big band formats, from West African to North Indian collaborations – renowned Washington DC-born guitarist and composer Joel Harrison now turns his attention to a quintet recording featuring the intriguing front line of trumpet (Cuong Vu) and bassoon (Paul Hanson). Completed by NYC bassist Kermit Driscoll (bass) and the influential eminence of drummer Brian Blade, Harrison has created a genuine improvisers’ record on Spirit House with a conceptual focus very much on the intuitive skills of these specific players.

The richly colored palette of Joel Harrison’s output is influenced by many guitar greats such as Bill Frisell, John Scofield and Jeff Beck, with solid roots in the American rock and country eras of Duane Allman and Danny Gatton. Add to this an unerring passion for cross-pollination of musical cultures and genres, plus a distinctively vocal guitar expressiveness, and it becomes clear why Harrison’s evolving compositional sound worlds continue to engage.

Here, the instrumental line-up frequently deceives, such is the multiplicity of blends, textures and atmospheres achieved. The coupling of trumpet and bassoon, with astutely saturated guitar voicings, creates a remarkably effective ‘horn section’ – as heard in the exuberant “Left Hook” – which is then able to divide, revealing fresh nuances in extemporization. Spacial jazz/blues number “Sacred Love” contrasts markedly with the psychedelic fusion of “An Elephant in Igor’s Yard”; Joel Harrison’s yearning, poetic lyrics inform “Some Thoughts on Kenny Kirkland”; and woodwind flamboyance in “Old Friends” has hints of melancholy and joy combined.

Harrison uses the album title Spirit House as an appropriate metaphor for the musical ‘sacred space’ this accomplished ensemble occupied to magically fashion an hour of inspired music greater than the sum of its parts. Amongst the leader’s ambitions for this album is the hope that its musical accessibility, including a peppering of song-based tracks, might reach still farther than the complexity of some of his previous releases:

“This is a project that mixes heart, soul, intellect and wit to create music that might move in different ways… to open a door inside the listener that helps to experience something which takes them on a journey.”

That sense of discovery is ever present in a quintet debut characterized by innate musicality and the wonderment of unpredictability.

Here’s a full length version of the first single from Spirit House ‘The Elephant in Igor’s Yard’:

 

BIG NEWS: Release day today for Phil Robson’s organ trio album ‘The Cut Off Point’ feat: Ross Stanley and Gene Calderazzo.

 

 

Phil Robson CofP FB

 

Click here for a CD or digital albums (ALAC, FLAC, MP3s and more)

 

Now with a recently-formed organ trio – having revealed and honed new material during their summer 2014 tour, followed by recording in the fall – Robson, Ross Stanley (Hammond organ) and Gene Calderazzo (drums) release their debut The Cut Off Point. Influenced by the jazz eminence of Pat Martino, Wes Montgomery and John McLaughlin, but also with a heavier rock-grooving predilection, this close-knit triumvirate punch their way through seven of the leader’s compositions, as well as a hustling interpretation of a number by US saxman David Liebman.The ever-searching, eclectic guitarist Phil Robson has released four contrasting solo records to date and is known throughout the world for his contribution to the long-running quartet Partisans (their release Swamp won Album Of The Year in the 2015 Parliamentary Jazz Awards in the UK where he’s based). As a sideman he’s performed with Kenny Wheeler, Mark Turner, Billy Hart, Barbara Streisand, Django Bates, Christine Tobin, among others.

The organ trio format offers fascinating opportunities – Robson writing specifically with this in mind – affording the guitar the flexibility to carry melodies in different ways, roaming freely against the solid low voicings and varietal registrations, textures and dynamics of Stanley’s authentic Hammond. And with that unmistakable, saturated sound palette, Stanley is authoritative in the combined role he provides: a chordist, bassist and soloist dualizing improvisational diversity with the fluctuating distortion and tender shaping of Robson’s guitar. Drummer Gene Calderazzo (who shares a long association with Robson) displays a telepathic ability to respond to every rhythmic twist and turn; his shifting, chameleon-like colorizations here quite different to the density of his work with Partisans.

From the swinging ebullience of Herbie Hancock-styled ‘Thief’ to the lofty spaciality of “Astral” (dedicated to Kenny Wheeler), the mercurial moods of “Second Thoughts” to the quirky, almost ‘60s sci-fi feel of “Dimi and the Blue Men” and effervescent angularity of title track ‘The Cut Off Point, here is a recording that takes the organ trio format into fresh spheres, and the groove is irresistible.

 

 

Phil Trio

 

Phil will be launching the CD with a UK tour starting next month (dates listed below):

For the latest updates, including how to buy tickets, click: here

 

Friday June 5th 2015    The Red Lion, Birmingham   8pm

Saturday June 6th 2015    The Vortex, London   8pm

Sunday June 7th 2015    Hawthorn Centre, Herts   8pm

Friday June 12th 2015    Swanage Jazz Festival   4.15pm

 

Images by Monika Jakubowski

 

Here’s the full length version of ‘Thief’ from ‘The Cut Off point

 

 

Feature in Jazzwise Magazine for Alex Garnett’s Bunch of Five ‘Andromeda’ plus the latest 4* review from Jazz Journal and more from the European music press.

Andromeda is the second solo release from London-based saxophonist and composer Alex Garnett and is the debut recording of ‘Bunch of Five’ his new two tenor saxophone project. This quintet brings the classic dueling saxophone format into a contemporary context, giving it a fresh face without losing its gladiatorial edge. The musical ethos is strongly routed in groove and swing and combines the eclectic tastes and experiences of the ensemble members while leaving plenty of room for liberties and unexpected twists within the various song structures.

 

 

Andromeda recently featured in Jazzwise Magazine (scroll down) and has received further reviews in the music press.
The highlights are reproduced below:

“The emphasis is on swing and groove while leaving space for some contemporary surprises. Garnett is the lighter sounding tenor, the NYC-based Armacost slightly harder and boppish and they complement each other well. It is in effect a very good partnership in the tradition of Griffin and Davis or Ammons and Stitt, likely to appeal to all followers of those masters.”
4 Stars, Jazz Journal (full review)

“An hour of dynamic recorded music with enthusiasm and skill to be heard a plenty. An excellent combination of eight pieces that will convince any listener.”
Der Hörspiegel (website)

“Good old Brit Jazz beats mercilessly… highly professional and sometimes gladiatorial.”
Jazz Thing Magazine (website)

“Two tenor saxophones provide everything that is possible between common dance and fiery duels. It’s delicious, and mixes swing, cool, free and even bebop.”
Sol.de (website)

“A superb and very satisfying listening experience… Impressive is the interplay between the two tenor saxophonists, something that is not common and consistently in the history of jazz.”
Music an Sich (website)

“The second album from Londoner Alex Garnett, ‘Bunch of 5’, brings the saxophone duel into a contemporary context, and with taste. The members of the band leave lots of room in the music for artistic freedom.”
Jazz Zeitung (website)

 

Jazzwise album interview - Andromeda copy

The new album trailer for Phil Robson’s ‘The Cut Off Point’ out on Monday May 18th + glowing reviews in Jazzwise Magazine, The Guardian and more

Preeminent UK guitarist Phil Robson has racked up an impressive catalogue with us in just a few years and on Monday he releases his debut organ trio album The Cut Off Point featuring Ross Stanley and Gene Calderazzo.  Check the brand new album trailer to the left, which has Phil playing a solo version of one of the tracks from the album.  Also, click here to read a great review that just hit in the Guardian, one here from Bebop Spoken Here, and reprinted below is a fantastic 4 Star review that just came out in this month’s issue of Jazzwise Magazine.

 

Jazzwise review The Cut Off Point copy

New York Standards Quartet ft. David Berkman, Gene Jackson, Tim Armacost and Daiki Yasukagawa announce summer tour dates in Japan.

NYSQ have just announced dates for their forthcoming 10th anniversary tour in Japan with more yet to be confirmed. (scroll down for details) This tour will be supporting The New Straight Ahead and celebrating the brand new Japanese version of the album which will be available during the tour.

 

The NYSQ is made up of pianist David Berkman, drummer Gene Jackson, saxophonist Tim Armacost, and double bassist Daiki Yasukagawa. As a band the New York-based unit have developed a near telepathic relationship playing together in a variety of settings since their formation in 2006. Conceptually, the NYSQ strives to develop its own language within the tradition of performing standard jazz repertoire. The New Straight Ahead is the debut Whirlwind release from the New York Standards Quartet (NYSQ) and their fourth album to date. 

 

 

“What starts out as something familiar ends up as a unique and exhilarating musical statement.”
The New York City Jazz Record (website)

 

Tour Dates (Further details)

July 10    Shizuoka    Lifetime Garden Cafe

July 11    Tokyo    Body and Soul

July 12    Kyoto    Live spot RAG

July 13    Himeji    Jazz Spot Layla

July 14    Okayama    Soho Café

July 15    Fukuyama    Smoke and Jazz Loft

July 17    Hiroshima    Bird Jazz Club

July 29    Kanazawa    Riverside Jazz and Bar

July 30    Shizuoka    Lifetime Garden Cafe

Released today! Partikel’s ‘String Theory’. Promo video, full length track and tour dates..

Partikel FB

 

Click here for a CD or digital albums (ALAC, FLAC, MP3s and more)

 

String Theory is the third release from London-based Partikel (Duncan Eagles, Max Luthert and Eric Ford), a group that has maintained a feverish live schedule the past few years and that is heralded as a significant new band on the European scene. Their latest album sees them pushing their own sonic and compositional boundaries by teaming up with four respected string players of the UK scene, fusing their love of jazz, rock and world music with the textures of a string quartet to create music that showcases an array of unique soundscapes.  The string quartet has been integrated seamlessly into Partikel’s trademark style of raw emotion and fiercely interactive improvisations, striking a balance between intensity and rich harmony.

The approach to String Theory differs to Partikel’s previous albums where fine-tuning and non-stop rehearsing of arrangements characterized the lead up to the studio recordings. Eagles describes the process: “With this album the charts I wrote for the trio were purposefully more open and melodic than previous material and the arrangements were developed through touring with the band— rather than all the rehearsing— which I think gives the trio performance on this album a much more natural and spontaneous dynamic.” An example of this organic process is demonstrated in the second track of the album “Seeking Shadows” which is a sole product of their live set. “On that track the band would begin playing freely at shows and soon a form seemed to develop, followed by subsequent parts that we liked. Slowly over time a formal structure has appeared that sounds completely composed, but really there was never a chart for that track. Even when we recorded it in the studio there was still an air of the unknown.” The band has also started to incorporate electronic effects into their live set which they touch upon in the production of this album, giving String Theory a new overall sonic feel from their previous albums where they solely featured the acoustic trio.

Eagles talks about the string quartet: “When thinking about the addition of the strings I wanted to really try and push myself in all areas and not just in the actual writing of their parts which is something I’d never done until this project. Compositionally I wanted to think on a larger scale, moving away from the head–solo–head format as much as possible and I was adamant that I did not want to use the strings as just backing or padding. I wanted the string quartet to be as involved as possible and have a number of opportunities for the two ensembles to interact and improvise together. The first three tracks on the album play together as one piece and this is where I have really put this concept to work the most. When putting this together I was more concerned with allowing a flowing group effort.

 

Hear the full length version of ‘Shimmer’ from the album below:

 

 

Partikel will be launching ‘String Theory’ with a UK tour starting on May 28th 2015 taking in the following date: (for full details click here)

 

28/05/15  Watermill Jazz Club, Dorking
 
02/06/15  Pizza Express, London
 
17/06/15  Leam Jazz, Leamington Spa
 
26/06/15  The Verdict, Brighton
 
28/06/15  Ashburton Live, Ashburton, Devon
 
29/06/15 The Beaver Inn, Bideford, Devon
 
01/07/15 Fisher Theatre, Bungay, Suffolk

Pre release reviews for Partikel’s ‘String Theory’. 5* from All About Jazz, 4* from Marlbank, 4* plus feature in Jazzwise Magazine and CD of the month on the European Jazz Chart.

String Theory is the third release from London-based Partikel (Duncan Eagles, Max Luthert and Eric Ford), a group who’ve maintained a feverish live schedule the past few years and is heralded as a significant new band on the European scene. Their latest album sees them pushing their own sonic and compositional boundaries by teaming up with four respected string players of the UK scene, fusing their love of jazz, rock and world music with the textures of a string quartet to create music that showcases an array of unique soundscapes.

 

 

Prior to the release of String Theory tomorrow, the album has been been made CD of the Month (May, 2015), European Jazz Chart, and has received the following amazing reviews:

“Facilitated by inventive contrapuntally-rich arrangements, this excellent experiment represents a perfect marriage of two seemingly disparate entities, resulting in an album of richly mellifluous sonority.”5 Stars, All About Jazz (read whole review)

“An ambitious project, convincingly realized.”
4 Stars, Jazzwise Magazine (website). Full feature reproduced below.

“Definitely the best Partikel album to date, and an enjoyable listen, more to the point containing plenty of depth, sinewy improvising, and good ideas.”
4 Stars, Marlbank (read whole review)

 

 

photo 2 Partikel JazzWise feature

 

Ahead of May 26th release date, Matthew Stevens’ Woodwork named Downbeat Magazine’s Editor’s Choice + Wax Poetics exclusive video feature

Woodwork-Matthew-Stevens-Thumb

NYC-based Guitarist and composer Matthew Stevens is heralded as one of the most promising young artists in contemporary jazz music through his associations with NEXT Collective, Christian Scott, Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington, Walter Smith III, and Harvey Mason. Now Stevens comes fully into his own with his debut recording as a leader, Woodwork. The album showcases Stevens’ diverse influences, his warm, robust sound, and his fluid, emotive playing at the helm of a stellar quintet which features multiple Grammy-nominated pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist Vicente Archer, drummer Eric Doob and percussionist Paulo Stagnaro.

 

 

 

Woodwork is available exclusively on iTunes until 26th May, go: smarturl.it/matthewstevens and ahead of the official release date the album has been made editor’s pick in Downbeat Magazine (website) and been featured with an exclusive video by Wax Poetics.

Here are the highlights:

“Stevens incorporates a range of influences, including Americana and fusion flavors. There’s a density to his compositions that gives them an intellectual heft, but the mood is lightened thanks to the fluidity of the solo segments, including [Gerald] Clayton’s fiery, improvised lines on “Grown Ups.” Stevens can write a memorable melody, as he does on the title track, which melds an accessible theme with unpredictable, intricate solos.”
Editor’s Choice, Downbeat Magazine (full feature)

Wax Poetics featured the track “Processional” from Woodwork with this video (below) shot on location in Toronto.
Wax Poetics (full feature)