Brand new album trailer for Tori Freestone and Alcyona Mick’s ‘Criss Cross’ available for pre-order now (album drops March 23rd)

 

Criss Cross now available for pre order here: Criss Cross

 

With the playful opening bars of new release Criss Crossthe sublime world of tenor saxophonist and flautist Tori Freestone and pianist Alcyona Mick (plus guest vocalist Brigitte Beraha) is encapsulated through creative intrigue and improvisational dexterity, frequently glinting with mischievous spontaneity. Known for diverse roles in jazz, folk and world music, Freestone and Mick have been friends for years, performing together in different ensembles, including the London Jazz Orchestra. But it was casual duo explorations in music from their combined eclectic influences, taking in the output of Thelonious Monk, which led to an enthusiastic invitation from Manchester Jazz Festival’s artistic director, Steve Mead, to develop the project for live performance in 2015.

“I’d always felt the two of us were like-minded”, explains Freestone. “We were in Tenerife, playing together quite a lot, and it felt so easy and so lovely (on rainy days, we’d just pull out another Monk tune); and we kept saying we should do it more often – and actually made it happen. Quite different from my trio with bassist Dave Manington and drummer Tim Giles – which is specifically chordless and very rhythmic – here we both shape the rhythm in a different way, following whatever direction the music takes us in; and with such amazing piano-playing, I can bring out the harmony in new and existing compositions”. Alcyona Mick reinforces the merits of the collaboration: “There’s plenty of space for creativity; and though a duo can be more challenging, I have much more freedom to use the whole piano – in this case, the beautifully warm, richly dark sound of a Fazioli Concert Grand at Stefano Amerio’s Artesuono studio in Italy”.

In Tori Freestone’s mathematically challenging 8/11 ‘Hermetica’, Brigitte Beraha’s characteristically high, wordless tones intertwine with Brazilian-imbued flute and piano in breathtaking synchronicity, while ‘Charmed Life’ offers a lyrical beauty far from its trio origins as balmy tenor melodies are enfolded by Mick’s sensitively rippling undercurrents. As well as interpreting the inherent quirkiness of ‘Criss Cross’ (“I love how the form of the middle eight is so weird”, says Freestone), the spirit of Monk can also be found in Mick’s strutting, bluesy promenade, ‘Strange Behaviour’; and previously conceived for quintet, and then two pianos, her bustling ‘Exchange’ features complex, dancing keyboard figures and vehement conversations with Freestone’s soprano. The concerto-like breadth of Alcyona’s ‘Goodnight Computer’ demonstrates how they regularly open out on the bandstand, these wayfaring twelve minutes painting fluctuating vistas and moods. Tori’s folk-tune ‘Press Gang’ (from her 2016 release, El Barranco), takes on a new guise, Beraha’s emotive vocal elucidating its dark poetry; and comedic, theme-tune-like ‘Mrs PC’ (from the In the Chop House album) leaps and shrieks with unfettered glee.

“We have great understanding and confidence in each others’ playing”, enthuses Freestone. “In fact, we sometimes find we’ve chosen to express exactly the same thing, prompting the mutual question, ‘How did you know I was going to do that?!’. We like to accept the challenge of whatever is put in front of us, finding a new way of getting inside the music; and Alcyona’s been working a lot on the world music scene recently, so it’s great to have her back on the jazz stage. Though the duo format can present a degree of vulnerability, this project especially engenders warmth, enjoyment and openness amongst the intensity and complexity. It’s both fun and heavy – a developing journey through the material and styles we love, all with the sheer joy of playing. On Criss Cross, we are delighted to have covered that range of emotions, which is so important to us”.

 

TORI & ALCYONA TOUR DATES: (Full Details)

Feb 21 – Michael Tippett Centre, Bath

Feb 22 – Jazz at Future Inn, Bristol

Feb 23 – Ashburton Live, St Lawrence Chapel, Ashburton, Devon

4 March – The Verdict, Brighton

13th March – Emotion Festival, Bremen, Germany

18 March – Clapham Omnibus, Clapham, London

23 March 2pm – Workshop @ Leeds College Of Music, Quarry Hill, Leeds

23 March 8pm – Crescent Community Venue, York

28 March  – Symphony Hall, Birmingham

11 April (TBC) – The Vortex, Gillett Square, Dalston, London

8 May – St Ives Jazz Club (Tori Freestone & Alcyona Mick + Tori Freestone Trio)

 

 

Walter Smith III ‘TWIO’ ft Harish Raghaven and Eric Harland with special guests Christian McBride and Joshua Redman released today + DownBeat Magazine ‘Editor’s Pick’ feature and full Euro tour details (starts London, Monday 12th Feb)

“​The lively opener, Monk’s “Ask Me Now” is indicative of Smith’s feisty yet sensitive approach to the album… ​He now must surely rank highly amongst the finest saxophonists playing today.”
★★★★½ All About Jazz​ (full review)

 

CDs, digital downloads and more available: here

 

Twio from tenor saxophonist and composer Walter Smith III is released today. The album features longstanding musical partners Harish Raghavan on double bass and Eric Harland on drums, with guests Joshua Redman (tenor saxophone) and Christian McBride (double bass).

The joyful freedom of Ferde Grofé’s ‘On the Trail’ captures precisely the intended spirit of Walter Smith III’s new album Twio. Collaborating closely with established colleagues in double bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Eric Harland, the ​Texas-native, California-based tenor saxophonist & composer presents his own illuminating vision of the saxophone trio while also inviting, along the way, guest appearances by Joshua Redman (tenor saxophone) and Christian McBride (double bass).

Working and touring for the last fifteen years, playing multi-layered compositions in different configurations with artists such as Terence Blanchard,​ Roy Haynes,​ Sean Jones, Ambrose Akinmusire and with his own bands, Smith also began to revisit classic jazz songs. He elaborates: “I would try and alter tunes quite radically by rearranging, reharmonizing and altering meters to a point where I was barely playing the original song; but realized that I was confusing the point of playing the songs, so I began to interpret them more directly, as they were first meant to be played. For this album, out of around twenty recorded songs, I chose nine pieces that I have a particular relationship with and have always loved playing, including some which are maybe less frequently heard”.

While that concept appears straightforward, this recording (the saxophonist’s fifth as leader) reveals much about the ultra-confidence and musicality which these established players bring to the table, entering the studio to intuitively share ideas and discover uncharted paths. Taking sparkling dual-tenor feature ‘Contr​a​fact’ as an illustration (crafted around ‘Like Someone in Love’, but in a five meter), Smith explains: “I simply sent Josh the melody and we showed up and played… With no rehearsal, it was just ‘OK, here we go’; and that’s what I wanted for this project – just fun and live; an open sound without a chordal instrument defining the harmony, rhythm or direction. I had ideas for endings, for example, but on once instance after I had said to Christian, “We’ll close it like this”, when we got to that point he did something different which was perfect because it helped the music feel loose. We were all receptive to that organic process”.

Here, Thelonious Monk’s ‘Ask Me Now’ waltzes and trips through “a million chord changes”, Smith ever the ebullient, characterful melodicist; then Harish Raghavan’s pacey, bass propulsion of the popular Jerome Kern ‘Showboat’ tune, ‘Nobody Else But Me’, is embellished by Harland’s coruscating percussion. Sammy Fein’s amiable ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’ becomes buoyed by McBride’s clear, strutting bass; and the evergreen groove of Wayne Shorter’s ‘Adam’s Apple’ is fascinating in fizzing drum-featured trio guise. Two duo spots offer Carl Fischer’s ‘We’ll Be Together Again’ for sax and drums (“one of the best A-sections of a song ever written”) and a blithe sax-and-bass promenade on Gigi Gryce’s ‘Social Call’. Jimmy Rowles’ ‘The Peacocks’ is bathed in luscious tenor sonorities, and that Dayna Stephens arrangement of ‘On the Trail’ is a six-minute wonder as Smith and Redman josh genially across the rhythm section.

“I was pleased that Twio ended up being so close to what I wanted it be”, enthuses Smith. “It was unlike any other recording I’ve done, because there was nothing for me to actually prepare other than go along to the studio, play and hang out. The point of the album is ‘community’ – normally when we tour with original music, it’s hard to invite people up on the stage to join the band because they are simply unfamiliar with that particular repertoire that I or someone else in the group has written. This project represents something that everyone of all levels can relate to because it presents familiar and accessible songs that we’ve all grown up playing. The plan is that when we tour, I’ll use that opportunity to invite the community to come sit in, have fun, and share ideas, which I imagined this music was all about in the first place.”

 

 

Walter will be doing a week’s worth of live dates in Europe to support the release and the current schedule is as follows:

FEB 2018 Walter Smith ‘Twio’ Launch Tour Dates
(See Poster for details of Special Guests)

12 – 606 Club – London, England
13 – Porgy n Bess – Vienna, Austria
14 – Jazzclub Unterfahrt – Munich, Germany
15 – Birmingham Conservatoire + East Side Jazz Club – Birmingham, England
16 – Sunset Jazz Club – Paris, France
17 – Sunset Jazz Club – Paris, France
18 – Unity Jazz Club – Göteborg, Sweden

 

Ingrid and Christine Jensen’s ‘Infinitude’ nominated for Canadian Juno Award

Congratulations to Ingrid Jensen, Christine Jensen, Ben Monder, Fraser Hollins and Jon Wikan who have been nominated in the category  ‘jazz album of the year: group’  in the 2018 Juno Awards (Canada’s most prestigious music awards show) for their debut ensemble recording Infinitude released to worldwide acclaim on Whirlwind.  The Juno awards take place March 24, 2018.


“(Infinitude) achieves a rare distinction of being able to simultaneously combine tranquillity with rhythmic vibrancy, coalescing in a near hypnotic fusion of tone and colour. A rare delight.”

★★★★ All About Jazz

 

Infinitude – the concept of boundless possibility – is at the center of the music of Ingrid and Christine Jensen. Over the past 20 years or so, as trumpeter and saxophonist respectively, the West Canadian sisters have each shaped prolific careers in contemporary jazz with Ingrid tearing up the New York jazz scene with her effortless trumpet mastery and Christine intertwining composition and saxophone performances with Montreal’s creative music scene. Christine has been awarded the Oscar Peterson Prize of the FIJM 2017 and was voted “Rising Star – Soprano Sax” in the Downbeat Critics Poll 2017, while Ingrid has consistently been rated one of the Top 10 Jazz Trumpet Players by both the Downbeat Critics and Readers polls for the last decade. For their Whirlwind debut, the Jensens have realized a long-held ambition: to perform in the intimate setting of a quintet combining their intuitive, sibling trust with the creativity of renowned guitarist Ben Monder and the foundational artistry of bassist Fraser Hollins and drummer Jon Wikan.

 

” An all-too-rare combination of angularity with warmth.” ★★★★ All About Jazz review for Julian Siegel’s ‘VISTA’ released today + Jazzwise cover and feature

“An all-too-rare combination of angularity with warmth… This album perfectly demonstrates how a quartet of seasoned musicians can successfully and seemingly effortlessly, produce an album of fresh ideas and catchy themes.”
★★★★ All About Jazz (full review)

 

“Plenty of pushing at the barriers of tonality as you’d expect from such adventurous and accomplished players, but it’s tempered with a refreshing melodicism and groove… An exhilarating experience.”
Jazz Views (full review)

 

CDs, digital downloads and more available: here

 

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Some nine years since saxophonist Julian Siegel began collectively bouncing ideas off pianist Liam Noble, double bassist Oli Hayhurst and drummer Gene Calderazzo, the Julian Siegel Quartet release another absorbing and intrinsically crackling set of mostly original compositions in Vista. 2011’s Urban Theme Park created quite a splash with its ability to showcase both communal and individual musicality – and now that connection, knowledge and intuition is even stronger.

“It’s a shared experience”, explains Siegel who, over the years, has established himself as one of Britain’s especially eloquent performers through his work with this quartet, his trio with Joey Baron and Greg Cohen, the Julian Siegel Jazz Orchestra (formed in 2017), and with Partisans, co-led with guitarist Phil Robson.

“After playing together as a band for such a long time, you really start to get into something. When I give a new piece to Liam, he comes back with twenty times what I could imagine – he’s so free, with an amazing sense of daring, plus a really original harmonic approach. Gene has a fantastic feel and perception of time – there’s always a challenge in there that I really love; so much forward motion. And with Oli, it really swings”.

Delighting at the idea of getting back into the studio together again, the saxophonist and the quartet decided to record this as a purely acoustic set for the new album. “It’s a great opportunity, writing for this band, because you know they’re going to make it sound good!” Talking more about the writing of the music for Vista, Siegel says, “Leading up to the session, I tried to write every day, capturing ideas however/wherever they arrived, then seeing what stuck enough to make it through to first rehearsal. Each piece has a different genesis. For me, as a jazz writer, it’s the thing of: how much do you write, where do you stop? Most of the music we make on this album is improvised, so the pieces are just starting points. I like to find things that are a spark, to make something happen or to just allow a space to set something in motion; many things occurred for the very first time when we recorded the session – it was hugely exciting to catch it fresh”.

As leader, Siegel’s fluid, seamless assurance on either tenor or soprano is a joy, ‘The Opener’ encapsulating both the lyrical and snappier aspects of his character. ‘I Want To Go To Brazil’ arrived in his thoughts one morning and, in homage to Brazilian greats such as Hermeto Pascoal and Elis Regina, its gentle aubade awakens with South American zest. The luscious low-tenor resonances of ballad ‘Song’ leads to ‘Pastorale’, whose chirpy soprano/piano figure and expressive melody set up an open space for the quartet to explore.

The four break free with stomping, blues-honking ‘The Goose’ (Siegel’s name for the bass clarinet, the instrument actually then taken up by him in evasive then chivvying ‘Idea’ which follows). Bud Powell’s ‘Un Poco Loco’ is dazzlingly reimagined, pursued breathlessly by chordless trio number ‘Billion Years’; and wide-scoping title track ‘Vista’ leaps rockily to Noble’s inquiring, ascending/descending motif and Siegel’s deliciously melodic tenor.

Siegel ruminates on how a band can develop over time: “Listening to some of my favourite albums throughout the history of the music, I’m struck by how many of them were made by ‘bands’ – a particular combination of people touring and playing together for years. There’s something special about that”. Experiencing Vista, it’s a concept that is already becoming a reality for this cohesive and conversational quartet.

 

 

TOUR DATES

(Click here for details)

March 2nd – Verdict Jazz​, Brighton

March 3rd – Leicester Jazz House​, Leicester

March 14th – Vortex Jazz Club​, London – ALBUM LAUNCH

March 15th – Vortex Jazz Club​ – ALBUM LAUNCH

March 16th – Fleece Jazz​, Stoke by Nayland

March 17th – The Bear Club, Luton​

March 21st – The Bonington​, Nottingham

March 28th – Stratford ArtsHouse​, Stratford on Avon

April 12th – Cambridge Modern Jazz​, Cambridge

April 14th – The Hive, Shrewsbury Jazz Network

April 15th – Jazz at the Albert, Bristol​

April 26th – Eastside Jazz Club, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire​

May 3rd – Milton Court, London

July 15th – Swanage Jazz Festival, Dorset

October 12th – Cheltenham Jazz, Cheltenham