‘Passport’ – Omar Rahbany

passport

STAMPED with kaleidoscopic impressions from around the globe, Lebanese pianist Omar Rahbany’s Passport is a sumptuous fusion of jazz, orchestral and world music, presented by more than one hundred and eighty collaborators from twelve different nations.

Read the full review at LondonJazz News…

Released on 10 March 2017, Passport will be available from Rahbany Yahya Productions.
Audio samples at Omar Rahbany’s Facebook artist page.

 

Omar Rahbany piano, keyboards, additional bezok

Individual artists listed mostly in track-sequence appearance:
Ghada Nehme
vocals
Christopher Michael drums, Brazilian and miscellaneous percussion
Tony Dib accordion
Trad Trad clarinet
Steve Rodby acoustic bass
Raymond Hage percussion, Arabic percussion
Cuong Vu trumpet
Wayne Krantz electric guitar
Ali Madbouh ney, mezmar
Keith Carlock drums
Elie Afif electric bass
Andrew Hachem vocals
Faraj Hanna bezok, oud
Scott Harrell trumpets
Judy Lee horns
Timothy Albright trombones
Morris Kainuma tuba
Claud Chalhoub violin
Khachatur Savzyan double bass
Tom Hornig soprano saxophone
Nidal Abou Samra alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, trumpet
Karim Ziad drums
Jihad Assaad kanoon
Raed Boukamel ney
Jessy Jleilaty, Mirna Ileilaty Abdo, Andree Dib female chorus
Simon Obeid, Nader Khoury, Elie Khayat, Gilbert Jalkh, Tony Azar male chorus
Loyal El Mir vocals
Rami Maalouf flute
José Fernandez guitar
Alain Makdessi electric guitar

The Kiev City Symphonic Orchestra conducted by Volodymyr Sirenko
Members of the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra
additional strings

omarrahbany.com

Self-released (2017)

‘Caipi’ – Kurt Rosenwinkel

caipi

PHILADELPHIA-BORN, Berlin-resident jazz guitarist/keyboardist Kurt Rosenwinkel’s career is especially associated with influential artists such as Gary Burton, Paul Motion, Brad Mehldau and Chris Potter. So the sunshiny, vocal emphasis of his new release Caipi comes as something of a surprise. Yet it’s a surprise which prompts fascination, increasing endearment and positivity. 

Rosenwinkel suggests that it’s taken a decade to make this album a reality – and whilst it’s very much a solo album (the composer playing guitars, bass, piano, synth and drums throughout, and also occasionally taking lead vocal), he also welcomes a number of guests to provide a panoply of textures, including appearances from saxophonist Mark Turner and vocalist/lyricist Amanda Brecker. There’s even a subtle cameo from Eric Clapton, who describes Rosenwinkel as “a genius – he really is”; and the album’s decidedly effervescent South American flavours (‘Caipirinha’ being a Brazilian/Portuguese cocktail) are enhanced by the intriguing vocal timbres of young Brazilian singer/instrumentalist Pedro Martins.

This full hour’s eleven-track diversity might initially be perplexing, especially for fans of the guitarist’s instrumental-jazz back catalogue. But it doesn’t take long to warm to the naive frailty of Pedro Martins’ gentle voice; and though Rosenwinkel’s straight vocal delivery may be reminiscent of ’70s prog instrumentalists who came from behind the frontman’s shadows to sing for their own solo projects, it’s these constantly fluctuating points of difference, plus a tangible homely quality, which attracts. The background to this bold, intentional move is explained thus: “Writing songs with lyrics has always been very much a part of musical world, but they’ve usually stayed in my private sphere. With Caipi, I realised that these were also lyric songs and that ultimately I would sing them as well. It’s definitely something different from my other albums, but it’s a familiar place for me and it was just a matter of doing what the music needed”.

A sultry bossa nova influence is there from the opening of the title track, its wordless backing vocals and flute-voiced synth redolent of Pat Metheny or The Isley Brothers, with Rosenwinkel’s electric guitar improv reaching up to an azure sky; and Martins’ tremulant falsetto sails across the gently bass-driven gossamer-sustained layers of Kama. The contrasting pop chirpiness of Casio Vanguard and Summer Song quirkily recall the pop-jingle of ’80s band Johnny Hates Jazz, though brimming with invention and detail, whilst Methenyesque Chromatic B‘s babbling electric bass underpins its Latin piano-and-guitar pulse. Shadows-style riffs support Rosenwinkel’s affirming vocal in purposeful Hold On (“…and you know we’re not alone”); and the folksy tenderness of Ezra, dedicated to his youngest son, is similarly uplifting (“live each day with joy and laughter”) as Mark Turner’s tenor sax extemporises broadly over a mid-rock groove.

By now, it’s possible you’ll be hooked… only to discover Rosenwinkel still has four more appealing numbers to deliver – Little Dream and Casio Escher (both embellished by Amanda Brecker’s vocal dexterity), bossa shuffler Interspace and anthemically-closing Little B. An album which is both curious and distinctive, it leaves a beautiful impression of radiance and hope, and is described by its creator as “angels working for the light”.

Released in UK/Europe on 10 February 2017, and in the US on 30 March 2017, Caipi is available from Heartcore Records as well as iTunes, Amazon, etc.

 

Kurt Rosenwinkel acoustic guitar, nylon guitar, electric guitar, bass, piano, drums, percussion, synth, Casio, voice
with
Pedro Martins voice, synth, harmonium, drums, floor tom
and guests
Frederika Krier violin
Andi Haberl drums
Antonio Loureiro voice
Alex Kozmidi baritone guitar
Kyra Garéy voice
Mark Turner tenor sax
Amanda Brecker voice
Eric Clapton guitar
Zola Mennenöh voice
Chris Komer French horn

kurtrosenwinkel.com

RazDaz Recordz / Heartcore Records – RD4618 (2016)

‘Pasar Klewer’ – Dwiki Dharmawan (2CD)

dwikidharmawan

THE SCALE AND DYNAMISM of double album Pasar Klewer, from Indonesian pianist Dwiki Dharmawan, is pretty awe-inspiring. 

Reflecting the hustle and bustle of its South-East Asian marketplace title (and reinforced by a lively cover illustration), this ambitious, one-hundred-minute fusion of jazz, rock and world music has at its core a vibrant trio, with Dharmawan joined by the brilliance of bassist Yaron Stavi and drummer/percussionist Asaf Sirkis. But the beautiful eclecticism of contributions made by the pianist’s guest musicians – including clarinettist/saxophonist Gilad Atzmon and electric guitarist Mark Wingfield – elevates these eleven, expansive tracks into a cornucopia of often unexpected riches.

Described as a cultural icon in his homeland, performer, composer and arranger Dharmawan’s expertise in bringing together these various strands is impressive; and with a breathlessly flamboyant piano technique, he is clearly an inspirational leader. Title track Pasar Klewer brims with exotic colour, Mark Wingfield’s characteristic, high-velocity guitar the ideal partner for the busyness of Dharmawan, Stavi and Sirkis; yet it is also imbued with the magical sound-imagery of chants, bells and Aris Daryono’s three-stringed rebab. Glad Atzmon’s clarinet deftness (always with such a distinctly ‘vocal’ expression) soars in Spirit of Peace, a relentless, smouldering dance suffused with Nicolas Meier’s glissentar improvisations and Asaf Sirkis’ konakol voicings.

It’s an adventure of mystery and discovery, with the sense of pulling back the curtain to reveal the next chapter – so Atzmon’s superb soprano sax outpourings over vigorous gamelan orchestra and free-jazz piano trio are just a small part of the story of thirteen-minute Tjampuhan; melodically uplifting Frog Dance (with a field recording of the Balinese variety) is irresistible; and Asaf Sirkis’ own Life It Self enjoys a hard-driven prog groove perpetuated by the heavier aspect of his drumming and the stratospheric, pitch-bent guitar of Mark Wingfield.

Robert Wyatt’s Forest and the trio’s composition London in June include the theatrical vocals of Boris Savoldelli; and Dharmawan’s arrangement of traditional tune Lir Ilir is introduced by the decorative voice of Peni Candra Rini before it cranks up into full-throttle piano jazz embellished by glissentar. Amidst such intensity, moments of repose can be found in elegant Bubuyu Bulan and Purnama, whilst the expanded, instrumental version of Forest which closes the programme – featuring both Dharmawan and Wingfield, effectively enhanced by electronic shooting stars – possesses a transcendental magic.

Bask in its cosmopolitan outlook and astounding musicianship.

Further details and audio samples at MoonJune Records.

 

Dwiki Dharmawan acoustic piano
Yaron Stavi upright bass, electric bass
Asaf Sirkis drums, udu clay percussion, shaker, konakol singing
with
Mark Wingfield guitar
Nicolas Meier glissentar, acoustic guitar
Gilad Atzmon clarinet, soprano sax
Boris Savoldelli vocals
Ari Daryono vocals, gamelan percussion, kendang percussion, rebab
Peni Candra Rini vocals
Gamelan Jess Jegog led by I Nyoman Windha gamelan orchestra

dwikidharmawan.net

MoonJune Records – MJR081 (2016)

‘Snowpoet’ – Snowpoet

Snowpoet

IN A WORLD where, like some time-lapse street scene, we are frequently bombarded by high-energy grooves and cacophonous soundbites, Snowpoet have an adroit ability to create, through arresting vocal melodies/utterances and unexpected instrumental timbres, a gossamer labyrinth of intrigue and enchantment in which to lose ourselves.

The mesmerising vocals of Lauren Kinsella, fronting these nine tracks, are sensitively woven into the band’s ebbing and flowing sonic spaces – and the effect, particularly when heard in quiet isolation, has a remarkable impact on the senses. Kinsella – who sees her voice primarily as an instrument – places an emphasis on syllabic deconstruction, as well as rhythmic and tonal modulation (reminiscent of Annette Peacock), explaining that “sound comes through the word and has a musical meaning all of its own, regardless of its linguistic understanding.” That approach, central to this album’s creative folk/ambience, can be inexplicably and emotionally moving. Comprising a personnel (see below) who, individually, perform across a variety of genres (including contemporary jazz), these soundscapes are mixed by Chris Hyson and Alex Killpartrick; and the musical environments they produce require a certain abandonment from the listener.

Vivid, sun-glinted rivulets are depicted in Mermaid, a beautifully accessible introduction teeming with instrumental/electronic life and dreamy, layered vocals; and the whispered usherings of In a Quiet Space lead to Kinsella’s characteristic, undulating voice, the sense of anticipation painted by luscious clusters of sound suggesting a magical discovery under a forest canopy. Glad To Have Lost is redolent of one of Kinsella’s other projects, Blue Eyed Hawk, in the way its prog-style guitar and electronics underpin her typically measured lines before melting into piano-teared ambience; and the Irish lilt of Laura Kinsella’s poetic, melodic speech here is so compelling.

Creaking, tuned-out piano accompanies the vocal line in live-feel If I Miss a Star (an effect which recalls the quaintness of Peter Gabriel’s Me and My Teddy Bear), and countryfied Little Moon Man, with its acoustic guitar momentum, is utterly charming, delicately swathed in wordless backing vocals and ’70s-style synth riffs. The band’s acuity with audio imagery is continued in Gathering, as floating patterns, clicky extraneous sounds and broken, sustained electronics head downstream; and Kinsella’s playful dialogue in Waves is fused with 12-string guitar and plush vocal textures which later hit crashing breakers. Poetry of Stillness suggests an echoic, Peter Pan world of heavenly imagination with lengthened, storytelling vocalisations (“together, we walked up into a clou-u-ud of dreams”); and extended, rising Eviternity closes with a tingling sense of hope.

Especially in late-night solitude, this is a go-to album for immersive escapism – and that can be engendered in so many ways, be it disturbing, becalming or joyfully life-affirming. It takes deep, musical sincerity to achieve such powerful therapy; and for this reason, Snowpoet’s debut recording remains an outstanding body of work.

Released on Two Rivers Records, Snowpoet can be purchased in CD and digital download formats at Bandcamp.

 

Lauren Kinsella vocals, lyrics
Chris Hyson electric bass, keyboards, synths, piano, acoustic guitar, Wurlitzer
Matthew Robinson piano, keyboards, synths
Nicholas Costley-White acoustic and electric guitars
Josh Arcoleo backing vocals, synths, tenor saxophone
Dave Hamblett drums
with
Lloyd Haines additional drums (Little Moon Man, Poetry of Stillness)
Alex Killpartrick additional synth (Little Moon Man)

snowpoet.co.uk

Two Rivers Records – TRR 007

‘Culcha Vulcha’ – Snarky Puppy

Culcha

THE PHENOMENON known as Snarky Puppy is a grooving ‘must see’ if they’re in town!

Over the past few years, the infectious exuberance of this Brooklyn-based collective has spread out over the globe. Led by charismatic electric bassist Michael League, their seemingly inexhaustible energy has found them performing across six continents, wowing audiences from Bremen to Buenos Aires, from Manchester to Mumbai; and the sense of ‘community’ in their musical outlook has spawned residency programmes as well as many musical collaborations (most recently their second Family Dinner album featuring the likes of David Crosby, Laura Mvula and Jacob Collier).

For eleventh release Culcha Vulcha, the guys (not a snarky character amongst them!) relocated to a remote Texan pecan orchard – Sonic Ranch Studios – to record their first pure studio album in eight years. As a live band, League and colleagues fill their demographically wide audiences with an inescapable feel-good – a combination of astonishing, eclectic artistry and elated self-bemusement at the energy and new ideas they forge together on stage; but it’s also exciting to discover the sounds they carefully craft whilst spending a week in each others’ pockets. The result – well, possibly their best recorded account yet.

The personnel and instrumentation listed below only begin to indicate the heady, groove-laden ‘riffage’ that makes up this hour-plus, nine-track celebration. Often possessing an anthemic quality, the Snarkys’ memorable performances here begin to activate a ‘fave’ rush – that intro recognition which settles you in for a good time, as in the lurching groove of opener Tarova. Twang-tight horns and multifarious percussion are frequently in evidence, but its also the varied palette of pitch-bent synth improv, along with flamboyant guitar lines and League’s inherent bass impetus, which make up this potent brew.

Semente‘s Brazilian vibrancy is coloured by Chris Bullock’s peppy flute melodies and zazzy repinique triplet clattering; Grown Folks has a grungy big band urgency, full of bold horn and guitar phrases; and Gemini‘s cool, sidewalk demeanour, with mellotron and bottleneck guitar, is one of the classiest grooves heard for some time. Electronics, slow-attack synth and alto flute in Beep Box change the pace with retro space-age charm, and sophisticated clav/moog bass-driven , with so many individual instrumental highlights (at times, even redolent of Level 42 at their mid-80s live best), is a first-listen standout which has cemented itself as a ‘go-to’ to lift the spirits.

And that’s the way it continues, each track a winner – reggae-synth The Simple Life (with gritty, David Gilmour-like slide guitar) totally addictive; Cory Henry’s organ dream Palermo (written by percussionist Marcelo Woloski, and featuring haunting flugel) suggesting a gamelanese hypnotism; and Big Ugly‘s soulful, prog-tinged synth-fest a superb closer.

This album has been spinning around for a few weeks now, yet never needs a second invitation to enjoy another complete, loud play-through. Keep on doing what you’re doing, boys!

Released on 29 April 2016, Culcha Vulcha is available from the GroundUP Music website and all good retailers.

 

Cory Henry organ, Clavinet, Mellotron, Moog
Bill Laurance piano, Fender Rhodes, Synthex
Justin Stanton piano, Fender Rhodes, Omni, Prophet 6, Synthex, Arp Axxe
Bobby Sparks Clavinet, MiniMoog, Moog Bass
Michael League electric bass, nylon-string guitar, baritone guitar, Moog Sub Phatty, Moog Bass, Mellotron
Bob Lanzetti electric guitar
Mark Lettieri electric guitar, baritone guitar
Chris McQueen guitar
Jay Jennings trumpet, flugelhorn
Mike “Maz” Maher trumpet, flugelhorn
Chris Bullock tenor saxophone, flute, alto flute, keyboards
Bob Reynolds tenor saxophone
Zach Brock violin
Jason “J.T.” Thomas drums
Robert “Sput” Searight drums
Larnell Lewis drums
Nate Werth trap set, cowbells, chimes, caixa, floor tom, tambourine, shaker, angklung, cymbals, percussion, clapping
Keita Ogawa timbal, repinique, kanjira, caixa, congas
Marcelo Woloski djembe, shakers, surdo, triangle, caixa, angklung, Tang-Tang, Reco-reco cowbell, Bombo Legüero, donkey jaw, kalimba, daf, effects, clapping

snarkypuppy.com

GroundUP Music / Universal Music Classics  (2016)

‘Dreamland Mechanism’ – Beledo

Beledo

POWERING his way into the typically resolute MoonJune galaxy of contemporary jazz/rock recordings, US electric guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and composer Beledo releases Dreamland Mechanism – an impressively energised and virtuosic solo debut.

Something of a late-teen guitar hero in his native Uruguay, as well as neighbouring Argentina, Beledo moved to New York at the beginning of the 1990s – and his professional career has continued to flourish there, working with a panoply of big-name artists including Jimmy Haslip, Jeff Berlin, Randy Brecker and Gilad Atzmon. Now, for this dynamic solo project, he calls on a clutch of his associates – chiefly electric bassist Lincoln Goines and drummer Gary Husband, with contributions from Tony Steele, Doron Lev, Endang Ramdan, Cucu Kurnia, Dewa Budjana and Rudy Zulkarnaen.

Beledo’s experience of the changing face of jazz/rock fusion over the past few decades, and presumably an understanding of its ’60s/’70s roots, appear to be significant in the realisation of his compositions and these band performances – opener Mechanism, with Jerry Goodman-style violin flamboyance, summons the spirit of Mahavishnu; and reedy synth extemporisations alongside Lincoln Goine’s prominent, aqueous, electric bass in Marilyn’s Escapade easily echo the vibrancy of Zawinul and Pastorius. In an album of contrasts, such sunshiny, multi-coloured grooves are balanced with guitar rock-outs Bye Bye Blues and Big Brother Calling, their wailing synth/moog lines and soaring, echoic guitar solos perhaps recalling early ’80s Jeff Beck; and the strong, articulate drums and percussion of Gary Husband are particularly evident in these higher-octane outings, Mercury in Retrograde‘s guitar/bass/drum simplicity actually filling the room with effective, dramatic saturation.

Combining dual kendang and other percussion with Beledo’s acoustic guitar, Lucila produces an exotic, cross-cultural blend of Brazilian, Javanese and Flamenco influences – and tempered by richly lyrical electric guitar and fretless bass improvisations, this becomes a fascinatingly fluent, polyrhythmic journey. First impressions might indicate ‘an album style’, but closer investigations draw out the breadth of composition and instrumental colour across these fifty-six minutes, Silent Assessment rolling solidly to its deep bass undulations and attractive guitar riffs, as well as chiming, sweeping synths reminiscent of Dave Stewart (National Health, Bruford); and the perky, complex rhythms of Sudden Voyage are irresistible, Husband playing out of his skin(s).

Indonesian guitar star Dewa Budjana appears on sumptuous BuDJanaji – presumably a direct dedication, it’s characterised by Beledo’s shared, Lyle Mays-style vocal/guitar lines and his guest’s fine, Allan Holdsworth-like wide tremolo improvisations (both Budjana and Holdsworth are MoonJune artists). And Front Porch Pine is the perfect closer to this extravaganza – Beledo’s superb guitar electronics and speedy runs almost vying for dominance with Tony Steele’s mobile electric bass oscillations and Doron Lev’s relentless drums/percussion.

If you’re looking for good-time, well-produced, high-energy jazz/rock with especially piquant detail…… Dreamland Mechanism is available from the MoonJune Records website, as well as BandcampAmazon, etc.

 

Beledo
electric guitar
acoustic guitar (tracks 4, 8)
violin (track 1)
Fender Rhodes (track 1)
Mini Moog (track 2)
acoustic piano (track 3)
accordion (track 3)
fretless bass (track 4)
vocals (track 8)

Lincoln Goines electric bass (tracks 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7)
Gary Husband drums (tracks 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7)
Tony Steele electric bass (tracks 9, 10)
Doron Lev drums (tracks 9, 10), percussion (track 9)
Endang Ramdan lead kendang percussion (tracks 4, 8)
Cucu Kurnia kendang percussion (tracks 4, 8)
Dewa Budjana electric guitar (track 8)
Rudy Zulkarnaen electric bass (track 8)

beledo.com

MoonJune Records – MJR077 (2016)

‘Parachute’ – Magnus Öström

Parachute

OVERCOMING darkness with light, both personally and in a global context, appears central to Parachute, the third solo album from a musician synonymous with groundbreaking contemporary jazz/rock – drummer and composer Magnus Öström.

For a decade and a half, Öström was a perfect third of seminal trio e.s.t. (with pianist Esbjörn Svensson and bassist Dan Berglund), until Svensson’s shocking, untimely death in 2008.

Now, with his established personnel of Andreas Hourdakis (guitars), Thobias Gabrielson (bass, keyboards) and Daniel Karlsson (piano, keyboards) – following on from solo debut Thread of Life (2011) and Searching for Jupiter (2013) – this new release exhibits a more celebratory, cathartic approach. Öström specifically identifies his personal ‘parachute’ as the healing energy of music, especially amidst the darkest of times; and the pervading, sometimes slow-burning intent of these eight original tracks does indeed possess an aura of positivity, acceptance and contentment.

It’s a sound world which might take some time to break into – opener Dog on the Beach‘s blue-sky propulsion ripples ebulliently to guitar and keyboard riffs, whereas Walkabout Bug‘s ticking, oscillating pop gait is as much about the groove as its synth-supported improvisations. But at its heart is the unmistakable exactitude of Öström’s drumming, his characteristic attention to detail producing a signature sound familiar to any e.s.t. fan. Junas is a classic example, with its prog rock piano/keyboard drama and jazz guitar chromatics dancing to the drummer’s syncopated, shuffling, perpetual motion and typically glinting percussion.

The barren, opening theme of The Green Man and the French Horn gives way to calm abandonment, its blithe piano and guitar demeanour suggesting a folksy, hymn-like solace; and excitingly propulsive title track Parachute figuratively suggests Öström’s “way back to life” via zesty synth passages and a pianistically jazz-inflected middle section, as well as vividly pictorialising an adrenalin-fired, flare-trailed descent to terra firma.

The Shore of Unsure is animated through Öström’s compelling, palpitating drive – a dark, cinematic episode enhanced by guest trumpeter Mathias Eick’s clear, transcendent extemporisations, whilst Reedjoyce‘s pop/rock fervour reveals, more than ever, the full-on, blistering potential of this line-up; and a cool-grooving breeziness in closing track All the Remaining Days is coloured by balmy guitar-and-piano motifs.

Magnus Öström says that he had always intended this project to create at least three albums, to see how it developed – and there’s a sense of both consolidation and progress throughout these fifty minutes. As an artist, he has already provided us with an incalculably rich legacy, through e.s.t. – and with these solo realisations, as well as the new ‘e.s.t. Symphony’ project, his creative journey continues to be fascinating to follow.

Released on 1 April 2016, Parachute is available from Amazon, iTunes, etc. (album trailer here).

 

Magnus Öström drums, percussion, voice
Andreas Hourdakis electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Thobias Gabrielson bass, bass synthesizer, keyboards
Daniel Karlsson grand piano, keyboards
with
Mathias Eick trumpet (on The Shore of Unsure)

magnusostrom.com

Diesel Music – DIESEL C-54 (2016)