Rez Abbasi’s ‘Unfiltered Universe’ feat Vijay Iyer, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Johannes Weidenmueller, Dan Weiss and Elizabeth Mikhael now available for pre order

Pre-order Unfiltered Universe and receive ‘Thin-King’ as instant download
(click the player below to listen)

 

Completing a trilogy of albums whose compositions are infused with the various, colorful strands of traditional music from his Pakistani/Indian homeland, New York guitarist Rez Abbasi’s Unfiltered Universe presents the line-up of pianist Vijay Iyer, alto saxophonist
Rudresh Mahanthappa, bassist Johannes Weidenmueller and drummer Dan Weiss, plus guest appearances from renowned classical cellist Elizabeth Mikhael. Previous releases Things to Come and Suno Suno focused, respectively, on Hindustani and Qawwali music, whereas this collection of seven new numbers explores and embraces the more rhythmically exuberant, South Asian elements of Carnatic instrumental music.

Originally hailing from Karachi – and creating fresh, contemporary sounds here with players who themselves are all well-versed in north and south Indian music – Abbasi sees his subconscious responses as an equally important source of inspiration alongside the imprint of his treasured, cultural heritage. “I have an intuitive way of approaching composition – an idea of searching but not searching, being conscious but not conscious. So with all of the influences I’ve absorbed (including Indian music, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Jim Hall, Keith Jarrett, Led Zeppelin), why would I want a tunnel-vision thing happening when I can have this ‘unfiltered universe’? I’ve had the good fortune to play alongside some great Carnatic musicians – a lot of jazz players don’t get to do that. But instead of interjecting specific Carnatic ideas, I use their energy as a foundation.

“Earlier albums featured the distinctive sounds of, for example, tabla and sitar – but on this recording, there’s no Indian instrument at all, so it’s an experiment in camouflaging that exoticism. There’s certainly a rhythmic and improvisational empathy between Indian music and jazz; but here, what you’re hearing is what you’re not used to hearing” – something which Abbasi defines more acutely as ‘creative music with a jazz weighting’ rather than the quite different concepts of ‘Indian jazz’ or ‘Indojazz’.

Abbasi’s complex meters are often based on underlying, architectural structures of expansion and compression which, in propulsive, shifting ‘Thin-king’, give rise to its beautifully searching melody; and enigmatic, tumbling ‘Turn of Events’ finds an exciting, flowing synergy between cello, guitar and sax. Carefully-crafted ‘Propensity’ features a bassline which moves by an eighth note, almost undetected, through multi-time-signatured sections: “There are five-and-a-half beats there, six beats here, like the idea of someone breathing or walking irregularly”. Rock-grooving ‘Disagree to Agree’ is an angular, stoic reflection on prevalent political turmoil; and the contrasting joyousness of ‘Dance Number’ has its roots in Abbasi’s and Mahanthappa’s intense sessions working with a Carnatic dance company, the guitarist’s writing echoing the vitality of their steps and rhythms.

Rez Abbasi concludes: “With Unfiltered Universe, I’d like to trigger an emotional response which, perhaps, could change something subconsciously. If my music can impact listeners on that level, I feel I’ve succeeded. But my essential musical message is that jazz can also be this – it can be creative without being totally improvised and moving without being stylized. I hope listeners will live this record”.

September 22 release for Jure Pukl and Matija Dedić ‘Hybrid’ ft. Matt Brewer, Johnathan Blake with guest Melissa Aldana

 

Click to pre 0rder Hybrid and receive an instant gratification track

 

An energized and impassioned studio session from New York-based Slovenian saxophonist Jure Pukl, Croatian pianist Matija Dedić and their quartet with bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Johnathan Blake brings new release, Hybrid, to the Whirlwind label.Pukl’s prolific ascendancy of the international jazz scene has resulted in numerous solo and sideman recordings, recognised in 2015 by the attainment of Slovenia’s highest national arts award. His collaborations include names such as Branford Marsalis, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Dave Liebman and Vijay Iyer; and like-minded colleague Matija Dedić’s varied career has seen him perform with artists including Larry Grenadier, John Hollenbeck, Jeff Ballard and Kendrick Scott.Across a venturesome sixty-seven minutes of mostly original numbers, the individual compositions of both Pukl and Dedić stimulate a fiery, improvisational spirit throughout the quartet, their respect for tradition translating into a spontaneous, contemporary context which also embraces elements of free jazz. Pukl relates the story that, as a funk-loving youth in Slovenia, he asked his father to return from a business trip in Munich with Maceo Parker records, only to be mistakenly brought vinyls by (to him, at the time) the unknown and perplexing Charlie Parker. But after a week, the saxophonist fell in love with them, closely followed by the sounds of John Coltrane and Stan Getz/João Gilberto: “These are artists and recordings I still recognize as my inspiration”.

The immediacy of these live studio takes is palpable, from the sprawling fast swing of title track ‘Hybrid’ to journeying ‘Where Are You Coming From And Where Are You Going?’ (the latter being Pukl’s focus-pull on his development as a musician, ranging from its classically-suggested opening structure, through unconfined bass cadenza, to a spiky, irregularly-metred vamp). The repeated harmonic and rhythmic figures of ‘Sequence II’ (dual tenors introducing guest saxophonist Melissa Aldana) and ‘Sequence III’ offer freedom of expression through distinctly different atmospheres; and four-bar vamp ‘Spinning Thoughts’ entwines boisterous ideas from a single, elegant tenor motif.

Dedić’s ‘Hempburger’ and ‘Plan B’ highlight this quartet’s traditional influences with vigor, his own chordal piano foundation and rolling solos prominent throughout whilst featuring scintillating percussion from Johnathan Blake; and in a beautiful tune dedicated to Dedić’s late father, ‘Family’s obvious warmth is enhanced by Matt Brewer’s bass searching combined with ravishing tenor imaginings from Aldana. Initially quizzical ‘False Accusations’ eventually sparkles with boisterous positivity, Pukl’s tenor gliding across its choppy waters; and the late-hours first-take flow of Ornette Coleman’s ‘Lonely Woman’ simmers to misterioso piano and bass clarinet.

“There’s a really good vibe and energy between the four of us, so we got into some special moments on this record”, recalls Pukl. “We all know each other well and feel connected; and also it’s challenging and fun to play alongside Melissa. I’ve always loved performing and, for me, this album reflects both my musical and personal worlds. I always imagine and see music as pictures, so perhaps others might also get into some deeper thoughts – about themselves, about the world they live in – as they listen.”

 

 

 

Gareth Lockrane’s ‘Fistfight at the Barndance’ released today. Official launch event September 11 at London’s Kings Place

 

Fistfight at the Barndance : CDs, FLACS, ALACS, Digital Downloads and more

Album Launch – September 11th – Kings Place, London – 7.30pm (Tickets)

 

In his most ambitious artistic undertaking yet, respected British flautist, composer and educator Gareth Lockrane brings his debut big band project to Whirlwind to interpret eleven original works on an exciting, cinematic scale in Fistfight at the Barndance. Known for his considerable work with smaller ensembles such as Grooveyard (with saxophonist Alex Garnett), as well as being a familiar sideman on the UK scene, here Lockrane distils all of his experience into leading a 20-piece which sparkles with ebullient expression.

Ellington, Basie and Mingus, as well as saxophone/flute doublers such as Frank Wess and Eric Dolphy, formed the basis of Gareth Lockrane’s early-career interest in this larger format, leading to arrangements for the Royal Academy of Music and the National Youth Jazz Orchestra; and it was his degree in film composition, working with varied, expansive movie narratives, which heightened the ambition to paint on a broader canvas. He describes the rich diversity of the assembled musicians: “There are contemporaries of mine from college, including Steve Fishwick, Henry Collins, Sammy Mayne and Mike Outram; some of the players, such as Ian Thomas and Mark Nightingale, were pillars of the scene when I originally moved down to London; and then there are the younger musicians I taught at the RAM – for example, Tom Walsh, James GardinerBateman and Nadim Teimoori. So I feel a great connection with this extraordinary bunch of guys from across the generations; and with so many fine soloists amongst them, it’s satisfying to provide each with the opportunity to shine”.

The album title is a tribute to Lockrane’s late father, whose 6/8 blues harp riff of the same name (in which he jocularly envisaged the implosion of a convivial barndance) is the basis for the call-and-response between flute and brass at the centre of the title track’s bustling maelstrom. Pianist and organist Ross Stanley’s commanding soul-jazz Hammond grooves are often at the heart of the leader’s creations (influenced by the likes of John Scofield, Eddie Harrris and Behki Mseleku), including high-energy ‘Stutterfunk’ with Ryan Trebilcock’s pulsating electric bass inspiring sassy horn licks and effervescent flute and sax improv, and country-blues rock-out ‘Roots’.

Each tune on the album has its own history, the big attraction for Lockrane being the weaving together of all kinds of influences – gospel, funk, straight-ahead jazz, soundtrack – as well as the challenge of harnessing and pacing the potential power of a big band: “It’s about sustaining a mood and arranging the sounds so that every moment counts, while also allowing each section the opportunity to enjoy the freedom. And my own role is intentionally quite loose, playing off the band or ducking around inside the arrangements as a middle-man between the rhythm section and the horns”.

As an instrumentalist, Gareth Lockrane is a proven master, here adding an orchestral sheen which evokes classic movie scores of the 1960s and ‘70s, especially when using contrabass and subcontrabass flutes – so ballads such as ‘We’ll Never Meet Again’ and ‘Forever Now’ might easily conjure the evocative sound worlds of Bernard Herrmann or Henry Mancini as his deep, breathy sonorities blend imaginatively with the band’s lush, textural harmonies. Sizzling reinterpretations of earlier compositions are juxtaposed with a clutch of new tunes. ‘Do It’ possesses an edgy, nightlife swagger; blithe, streetwalking ‘On the Fly’ and ‘Mel’s Spell’ (after Mel Lewis, a distinct inspiration after seeing him in the Village Vanguard band, NYC) superbly showcase Lockrane’s flighty, higher register against his sumptuous arrangements; and exhilarating boogie ‘One for Junia’ increasingly ramps up the fervor.

Recorded in London across a single day – and mastered in New York by the esteemed Tyler McDiarmid – it’s a strong, confident statement by an amazing collective, also recounted by Gareth Lockrane as a warm, rewarding experience: “We’ve done so many great gigs, it’s great to now definitively document our achievements. I always wanted to do a strong studio big band album that was loose enough for the solos to be fresh while doing justice to the tunes (and with the right people playing them). It’s been hugely enjoyable to put together”.

 

‘A work that pulses with meaning.” ★★★★ from the The Evening Standard for Samuel Eagles’ Spirit and ‘Ask, Seek, Knock’

“Eagles delivers eight prismatic originals… A work that pulses with meaning, taking the active listener deeper and higher.”
★★★★ The Evening Standard

Increasingly incandescent across the London jazz, funk and world music scenes, alto saxophonist and composer Samuel Eagles’ SPIRIT (saxophonist Duncan Eagles, pianist Sam Leak, vibraphonist Ralph Wyld, double bassist Max Luthert and drummer Dave Hamblett) present their debut Whirlwind release  Ask, Seek, Knock.

Premier of new video from Joel Harrison’s ‘The Other River’ + ★★★★ review in DownBeat Magazine

“Pensive, dreamy Americana/indie-folk record The Other River—dips its bucket at every turn into the deep well of American music.”
Grateful Web (website)

See the full premier of the new ‘So Long Chelsea Hotel’ video here

“Varied, intimate emotions course through The Other River… The arrangements are unique to each song giving colour and texture along the way.”
★★★★ DownBeat Magazine (website) (scroll down for full review)

 

 

Gareth Lockrane Fistfight at the Barndance official album trailer, Jazzwise Magazine feature and official launch event details

“Infectious, well-crafted pieces draw from latin, funk, New Orleans second line and blues rock idioms… Lockrane’s sinuous flute solos are the pick of the bunch.”
Jazzwise Magazine (scroll down for full feature)

PRE-ORDER Fistfight at the Barndance and receive an instant downloadable track: here

The official album launch event will be held at London’s Kings Place on September 11th (7.30pm and will be a BBC Radio 3 live broadcast. (Tickets)

 

 

Launch Event Line-Up

Gareth Lockrane flutes/tunes

Tom Walsh, Andy Greenwood, Steve Fishwick, Henry Collins trumpets

Trevor Mires, Mark Nightingale, Barnaby Dickinson, Barry Clements trombones

Sam Mayne, James Gardiner-Bateman, Graeme Blevins, Nadim Teimoori, Richard Shepherd saxes

Mike Outram guitar

Ross Stanley keyboards

Ryan Trebilcock bass

Ian Thomas drums

Hugh Wilkinson percussion

Listen again to Chris Philips playing tracks from Fistfight at the Barndance on The Blueprint for Jazz FM.

 

New Focus (Euan Stevenson & Konrad Wiszniewski) play two nights at Ronnie Scott’s and headline at the Crypt, Camberwell this week

Tonight, (Friday August 18th) following two consecutive nights at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club supporting James Taylor Quartet, pianist Euan Stevenson and saxophonist Konrad Wisniewski lead their own quartet at The Crypt, Camberwell. The evening feature music from their recently released second album for Whirlwind Recordings, New Focus On Song, as well as its Scottish Album of the Year-shortlisted predecessor and possibly one or two surprise choices of covers.

“Rich arrangements, memorable themes, fine playing and a unique mix of jazz, classical and folk”
London Jazz News

“Concise, hauntingly original pieces”
The Sunday Times

‘Firmly in the International class’
The Herald

More details and tickets

London Jazz Feature

 

 

Dee Byrne’s Entropi ‘Moment Frozen’ out Sept 15 (pre order now available) + tour dates + Kings Place Launch + new video

Pre Order Moment Frozen available now – album out September 15

 

With an invigorating spirit embodying the sequential, macrocosmic concept of ‘order, unpredictability, then descent into disorder’ (originally launched and explored in the debut album New Era), London-based alto saxophonist Dee Byrne’s five-piece Entropi continue their extra-terrestrial flight with Moment Frozen – a sweeping sequence of eight original compositions again frequently inspired by galactic and chronometric themes. The band’s now-established personnel is completed by Andre Canniere (trumpet), Rebecca Nash (piano/keys), Olie Brice (double bass) and Matt Fisher (drums).

Outlining the background to this project, Byrne poses the question: “If order eventually always turns to chaos on macro and micro levels, how can we translate that into something meaningful in our lives? The album title is a statement that our lives are made up of a series of snapshots. If we hold each of them up to the light, are we happy with the sum of all these frozen moments which, together, make up the sum of our existence?” Entropi have already forged a sparky signature sound, their combined goal of breaking into new orbits lifting both fierce and nebulous extemporisation from the written page. It’s an effective balance which is as much due to Dee Byrne’s compositional generosity (born out of her eclectic musical collaborations in Western Europe, en route to gaining a Masters at Trinity Laban) as the seemingly inexhaustive, searching intent of her colleagues.

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The quintet’s two-horn solidity is finely wrought, featuring bristling unison riffs and harmonic collisions, yet Byrne’s and Canniere’s breakaways into freely improvised hyperspace also find an empathetic, textural connection with the rhythmic and chordal probings of Nash, Brice and Fisher. Indeed, as Dee elaborates on the band’s founding vision, “I was always looking for the intensity of John Coltrane’s quartet and the later Miles Davis groups, taking forward something of their 1960s spiritual depth and energy into our own, progressive experience. Music is a healing force – I feel very much in tune with that concept. Entropi has grown together as a band, and expression is everything. So the album was created from live, whole takes in the studio – moments frozen”.

Described as mirroring our human existence against the five, perceived, transitory stages of the universe, ‘Stelliferous Era’s recurring riffs are blasted into disarray with percussive turbulence; and similarly edgy ‘Interloper’ suggests the stealth of an unwanted intruder, with alto sax both frantically warning and clashing with trumpet against a maelstrom of Rhodes clusters and feisty bass and drums. The piano ostinati of ‘Elst Pizarro’ contribute to a zero-gravity pictorialization of a celestial body whose identity confused astronomers when discovered in 1979, prompting elegant sax and trumpet imaginings; and Byrne specifically describes the elongated phrases in title track ‘Moment Frozen’ as “recreating the circular motion of this [same] comet/asteroid in the asteroid belt, with the horns guiding the unwieldy rhythm section around the circular form”.

The unlikely sleeve-note tale behind ‘Fish Whisperer’ offers spatial reflection, albeit with a central, disorderly free section hinting at fusion; whilst the buoyant, open groove of ‘It’s Time’ cruises to Rebecca Nash’s sustained, tremulant Rhodes and a crisp, rhythmic undercurrent from Olie Brice and Matt Fisher. Byrne’s large-scale ‘In the Cold Light of Day’ (“a moment of realization that that something has irrevocably changed”) is episodic and fluent, showcasing her especially fervid approach to alto improv; and the soft catharsis of ‘Leap of Faith’ conveys “fragile steps into the unknown” along elegant, oscillating horn pathways.

Dee Byrne concludes: “Creative music has enabled me, in recent years, to put life into a larger context. Often we don’t think about it, yet the whole factual basis of time and space can be compelling – full of fun, drama, wonder, and with the potential to open up another perspective. Entropi’s aim is to communicate our original thoughts in that vein, translating the vast unknown of music (as did Coltrane, Miles and others) into exciting new experiences – either directly or indirectly – for us and our audiences.”

 

ENTROPI TOUR DATES

22nd September: Symphony Hall Foyer, Birmingham, UK

27th September: Jazz At The Lescar, Sheffield, UK

29th September: Kings Place, London, UK (album launch)

6th October: Bebop Club, Bristol, UK

20th October: Derby Jazz, Derby, UK

23rd October: Wonder Inn, Manchester, UK

15th November: Pizza Express, London, UK (EFG LJF)

22nd November: Zoology Museum, Cambridge, UK (Cambridge Jazz  Festival)