Tag Archives: United States of America

Cracovia Music Agency Announces the Stars of 22nd Summer Jazz Festiwal at Piwnicy Pod Baranami

Branford Marsalis and Kurt Elling – Photo by Palma Kolansky

 

On July 11, 2017, the Branford Marsalis Quartet with Kurt Elling will be appearing at Opera Krakowska [the Krakow Opera].

Branford Marsalis has already appeared many times at the Summer Festival in Krakow. The program announced this week by the Cracovia Music Agency combines the famous saxophonist’s quartet with one of the best jazz vocalists on the global music scene today: Kurt Elling. In Krakow, we’re preparing ourselves for revelations, along with top-shelf entertainment.

The Branford Marsalis Quartet consists of experienced musicians with strong personalities, all of whom enjoy undisputed status on the jazz scene, with each adding a distinctive color to the music. Joey Calderazzo, Eric Revis, and Justin Faulkner will grace the Krakow Opera stage.

The appearance of these musicians with Kurt Elling will surely be based on experience drawn from their collaborative disc Upward Spiral, released by Okeh Records in June 2016. Accordingly, we can anticipate full concord on the stage, inspiring musical dialogs, and beautiful free improvisation. On stage, Kurt Elling is not simply one additional voice, but a new space for sounds and phrases which will expand our thinking about and experience of jazz.

 

Branford Marsalis Quartet with Kurt Elling – Upward Spiral

 

On his website, Branford Marsalis reveals his concept of jazz, also expressed on Upward Spiral, writing: “My philosophy of jazz is that it should be about strong melodies and a great beat, and every song here has a melody that you can hold in your mind, that you can sing. This is not jazz as a personal think tank, where people are only concerned with impressing everyone already inside of the tank with deconstruction and reharmonization. This is the kind of music that should expand our base to include people who would like jazz if it were friendlier.

The concert will take place as part of the 22nd Summer Jazz Festival at Piwnica pod Baranami [Cellar under the Rams]. The Festival was organized for the first time in 1996, and thus is already more than twenty years old. Since 2000, the Festival has been held outdoors so as to reach many more jazz lovers. We invite you to New Orleans Sunday and Noc Jazzu [Night of Jazz], both outdoor events.

The Summer Jazz Festival in Krakow will host the cream of Polish popular music as well as many stars from abroad (including Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Bobby McFerrin, Jean-Luc Ponty, Branford Marsalis, Joe Lovano, Maria Schneider, Richard Bona, Candy Dulfer, Greg Osby, and Nigel Kennedy).

For tickets, please visit:
ticketpro.pl
biletywkrakowie.pl
Organizers’ office: Cracovia Music Agency, ul. Karmelicka 52/1, Krakow

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Artist Profiles: Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters – Got My Mojo Working

Born in Issaquena County, Mississippi as McKinley Morganfield in 1913,Artist Profiles: Muddy Waters was deeply rooted in the Mississippi Delta blues. He got his nickname as a result of a childhood predilection for ‘playing in the muddy waters.’

He started playing harmonica at nine, but later switched over to the guitar. The teenaged, tractor driver Muddy Waters spent his free time absorbing the music scene of Clarksdale, Mississippi. There, he learned from two of Mississippi’s iconic bluesmen, Son House and Robert Johnson.

Muddy soon joined up with Silas Green and his traveling show, before plying his guitar in St. Louis and finally returning home. It was back in Mississippi that Muddy met with John and Alan Lomax, where he performed songs for the pair and their folk recordings for the Library of Congress recordings.

Muddy made two extraordinary decisions at that point; he joined many making the great migration north to Chicago in search for factory work and he plugged his guitar. Muddy plugged his guitar into an amplifier to be heard over the clattering masses of the Chicago club scene and it’s that sound that changed blues music forever.

Electrified blues soon spread to the streets of Chicago and Muddy found club work and started recording for Columbia and Aristocrat (later to become Chess Records).

Muddy Waters inspired numerous blues and rock musicians, including Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray, Peter Green, and the Rolling Stones.

Muddy Waters discography is quite extensive. The following boxed sets include some of his most iconic recordings: Original Album Classics: Hard Again / I’m Ready / King Bee; The Chess Box: Muddy Waters; Chess Singles Collection – Muddy Waters; and King of Chicago Blues; and Got My Mojo Working.

Muddy Waters died April 30, 1983.

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Artist Profiles: Missy Raines

Missy Raines

Celebrated bluegrass bassist Missy Raines was born April 6, 1962 in Short Gap, West Virginia. She’s had a pioneering, courageous musical career as one of the leading female bass players.

Missy Rained got started with an unanticipated surprise from her father. “My father had been playing a washtub that he’d made himself and then decided impulsively (without consulting my mother) to buy a bass. I was already playing the piano and guitar by then, but when you’re ten or eleven years old and there is a new instrument in the house…well, I couldn’t stay away from it. That’s the bass I still have and play today.”

As a young girl, Raines attended summer music festivals and home picking parties in the winter with her parents. As Raines’ skill improved, she found herself jamming with and then learning from bigger and better players, particularly International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor member Tom Gray (The Country Gentlemen, The Seldom Scene) “I met him through mutual friends when I was 12 and it was one of the biggest deals of my life up to that point,” she recalls. “Tom is an amazing person and he took me under his wing. He says though that I never asked him to show me how to do anything; that I would just talk about how he played. I thought I was picking his brain.

Raines names her earliest influences as Bill Monroe, The Country Gentleman, The Stanley Brothers, The Bluegrass Alliance, and David Grisman. She later played jazz before discovering the music of Joe Jackson in the early 1980s. “I’d never gotten into the rock, pop scene at all – I’d been affected by it peripherally but not directly. And then I got totally caught up in his music and his writing and a whole new world was suddenly opened up for me.

Professionally, Raines has participated in a wide-range of projects. She propelled her career with experimental bluegrass ensemble Cloud Valley and toured with Eddie and Martha Adcock before joining up with The Masters (Adcock, Kenny Baker, Josh Graves and Jesse McReynolds).

Missy Raines – Photo by Gary Alter
Alter

Raines toured and recorded with Claire Lynch’s Front Porch String Band from 1995-2000 and again from 2005-2008, while creating a successful duo with band mate Jim Hurst. A gig with the Brother Boys opened Raines’ eyes to the value of musical spontaneity.

If you allow it” says Missy Raines, “music can take people and let them be seen from the inside out. It’s a way of letting people see who you are without having to sit there and talk about yourself. For instance, the title tune contains the sort of changes that life often forces upon you, expressed musically. When I was writing the tune, I was thinking, ‘this all makes really musical sense except this one half-step change here.’ That’s what throws you off. For me that’s what I’ve been through. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen, something comes up and surprises you.”

Inside Out by Missy Raines and The New Hip, released in 2009, is the product of Missy Raines 20-year long aspiration. The album, she emphasizes, is a true collaboration between her and her delicately constructed band, The New Hip: Ethan Ballinger, (mandolin/mandola), Michael Witcher (resonator guitar/lap steel/vocals), and Dillon Hodges (guitar/vocals). “I’ve wanted this for a very, very long time. This band and this sound has existed, at least in my head, for almost two decades – it was just a matter of finding musicians that could read my mind.”

Discography

Two, with Jim Hurst (Pinecastle, 2000)

My Place in the Sun (2008)

Inside Out (Compass Records, 2009)

New Frontier (Compass Records, 2013)

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Artist Profiles: Matt Flinner

Matt Flinner

Multi-instrumentalist Matt Flinner was born March 14, 1969 in Pueblo, Colorado. He started out as a banjo prodigy who performed at bluegrass festivals before he entered his teens. Flinner later learned mandolin, won the banjo contest at Winfield, Kansas, in 1990, and received the mandolin award there the following year.

Flinner’s decision to focus on eight-stringed instruments, especially the mandolin, was fundamentaly a result of opportunity. He explains, “I was getting more work on the mandolin.” Sugarbeat, an eclectic quartet that also featured banjoist Tony Furtado, lead vocalist and guitarist Ben Demerath, and bassist Sally Truitt allowed him the opportunity to master the mandolin in a contemporary folk and bluegrass context.

Flinner is now generally considered one of the finest mandolin players on the American acoustic music scene. He tours regularly with the Matt Flinner Trio, as a member of the ‘new acoustic’ trio Phillips, Grier & Flinner, as a member of Darrell Scott’s band, and with guitarist Frank Vignola (David Grisman Quintet). Flinner also special guests on banjo with Leftover Salmon and in the fall of 2008 was a featured soloist with Trey Anastasio and Carlo Aonzo during Orchestra Nashville’s performance of “Concertino” (Don Hart). He also appeared on comedian Steve Martin’s recording The Crow and the Vignola Collectives’ March 2009 release, Gypsy Grass.

Discography

* The View from Here (Compass Records, 1998)

* Phillips, Grier & Flinner, by Todd Phillips, David Grier & Matt Flinner (Compass Records, 1999)

* Latitude (Compass Records, 2001)

* Walking on the Moon (Compass Records, 2003)

* All Star Bluegrass Jam-Along for Mandolin, book + CD (Homespun, 2007)

* Music du Jour (Compass Records, 2009)

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They’re Happy Days

Lone Piñon – Días Felices (Living Music Duplication, 2017)

This new release from New Mexico, the self-professed “land of enchantment”, is sure to get you dancing. Acoustic trio, Lone Piñon’s second album, (literally translated Happy Days), is a fiesta of music that pays homage to the borderland’s cultural roots. The band members hail from different geographic, cultural, and musical backgrounds but have come together since 2012 to revive the New Mexican Chicano string band style. According to the band’s bio, they “bring a devoted and explosive musicianship to Northern New Mexican… and Mexican music”.

It’s a challenge not to clap, tap, or sway along with these rhythms. Catchy melodies abound, the vocal harmonies sung in Spanish, English, and Nahuatl. The instruments also sing: violin, accordion, guitar, guitarrón, and upright bass. Multiple themes recur and duel. Some are upbeat and some are dark and mesmerising. Some songs sound like soundtracks, some a wedding jig, some a square dance.

The opening instrumental track, “El Borrachito”, is a celebratory introduction and heralds the party to follow. Another fifteen tracks of dance music and crooning ballads demonstrate Lone Piñon’s complex repertoire.

Standout tracks are: “Estas Lindas Flores”, a duet of vocals and accordion in a jolly hoedown; “El Querreque”, a toe-tapper in huapango style; and “La Llorona”, alternating brisk fiddle and doleful lament that tells a clear narrative with or without lyrics.

 

 

Listening to this album highlights the pleasure to be derived from cross-cultural relationships. These Días Felices are uplifting.

 

 

Buy Días Felices in the Americas and rest of the world

Buy Días Felices in Europe

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Blue Harp Perspectives

Amelia Romano – New Perspectives

 

Amelia Romano – New Perspectives (indie release, 2017)

American harpist Amelia Romano plays a mix of instrumentals and songs on New Perspectives, scheduled for release later this month. I was drawn to her instrumentals, which is where she shows her talent as a harp player and composer.

Romano’s music combines blues, jazz, classical and Latin American music elements like joropo from Venezuela, Argentine tango and Mexican-style bolero. She likes to explore unpredictable rhythms from Latin America, a region with a remarkable harp tradition, although she breaks stereotypes by playing what is normally a man’s instrument.

 

 

Amelia Romano enjoys using her beautiful cobalt blue harp to extract new sounds, textures and also as an attractive visual element.

 

 

With New Perspectives, Amelia Romano shows great potential as a genre-defying composer and arranger.

 

Amelia Romano

 

Buy the digital version of New Perspectives

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Is the United States Losing Its Cool?

The musical landscape of American music overflows with cool. From Blind Lemon Jefferson to Woody Guthrie, from Ella Fitzgerald to Hank Williams, from Miles Davis to Chuck Berry, from Aaron Copland to Jimi Hendrix, from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Jessye Norman, the music of the United States has flowed freely. And that cool has spread far and wide as the likes of Aerosmith, Chicago and Bruce Springsteen have circled the globe many time over and continue to do so.

Without lapsing into some creepy American exceptionalism, we’ve reveled in the sounds of R. Carlos Nakai, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Muddy Waters, Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone, Earl Scruggs, Lester Flatt, Willie Nelson, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Mahalia Jackson and the list just goes on and on.

But here’s the thing – musically we’ve never lived in a vacuum. The general attitude of US audiences has been if it’s cool, we want it. In the early 1970s Ravi Shankar brought his Concert for Bangladesh to the US and the American audience was so enthralled by the sounds they applauded the group’s warm-up. Okay, the audience’s naiveté is amusing, but the point is we wanted this music.

Having been to a Buena Vista Social Club concert, I can attest that if anyone took my seat I would have clawed their eyes out, as I expect most others who have fallen hard for those rich, warm sounds out of Cuba. The same could be said of the concert featuring L. Subramaniam, his son Ambi Subramaniam and Mahesh Krishnamurthy. Think about it, how many times do you think you heard the Spanish summer song “Macarena” by Los del Rio or “Gangnam Style” by South Korea’s Psy?

In 1986, Paul Simon introduced audiences to South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo on his Graceland album and later in 1990 gave audiences a taste of Afro-Brazilian musicians like Grupo Cultural Olodum, Milton Nascimento and Nana Vasconcelos on his release of Rhythm of the Saints. By-the-way, Ladysmith Black Mambazo is currently on tour and will have upcoming concert dates in the US in February and March of 2017.

Paul Simon – Graceland

Bill Frisell let us into the goodness of Sidiki Camara, Vinicius Cantuaria, Christos Govetas, Greg Leisz and Jenny Scheinman with the The Intercontinentals. There are countless other examples of collaborations of American musicians with artists from around the world. We’ve been inundated by bits of bhangra, African, Indian, Celtic and every other genre under the sun in our popular music, movies and advertising.

I’m not sure how any movie soundtrack makes it without the sly addition of tabla or frame drum these days. Again, if it’s cool we want it. We need it. Let’s face it we’re the fat kid and there’s a whole lot of musical cake out there to eat. And the good thing is that we are all the better for it.

But what if all this musical collaborative goodness from around the world is coming to an end for US audiences? Let’s just forego the conversation about the President Trump’s plan to completely gut government funding for the National Endowment of the Arts and Humanities. There’s something more sinister afoot.

Recently, Zimbabwe’s Oliver Mtukudzi has been forced to cancel US tour dates because he was denied a visa from the US Embassy in Harare. Speculation has it could be the US’s ongoing wrangling with President Mugabe’s administration or a summit of Sudanese, Somalian and Libyan musicians that coincides with Mr. Mtukudzi’s concert. Also, the Beijing Chinese Orchestra is reported to have cancelled a February concert in Seattle after 22 musicians were denied entry visas by the US government. With the current climate, the powers that be and the sheer force of will to dismantle any and all of President Obama’s actions by the hard-nosed hard asses in charge, can Cuba’s musicians be far behind in the denied visa category? And, which musicians will be next?

Oliver Mtukudzi

I want to be optimistic and say that US audiences won’t go for this, but already the cancelled concerts of Mr. Mtukudzi and the Beijing Chinese Orchestra have already slipped past our collective radar. It is quite possible that there is a whole host of foreign musicians and performers who have been denied visas and those concerts have gone quietly into the night and simply disappeared. Let’s face it this is not the most up-front and honest of administrations. But what is even more worrying is the idea of musicians, artists and performers simply passing up coming to the US entirely. What if we’ve become just too much of a hassle? What if facing a populace of angry, shouting, red-faced, gun-toting, wall-building nuts just isn’t worth it? So then what? What happens when our cool openness for whatever is around the musical corner is gone?

Don’t get me wrong I still think there’s a place for the sweet little square dance or the shit-kicking hoedown, but I don’t think we can live on it alone. I don’t think I’d want to.

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Sarah Jarosz Wins Best Folk Album Grammy Award

Sarah Jarosz – Undercurrent

The album Undercurrent (Sugar Hill Records) by Sarah Jarosz is the winner of the Best Folk Album at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.

The other finalists were:

Silver Skies Blue (Wildflower Records/Cleopatra Records) – Judy Collins & Ari Hest
Upland Stories (Bloodshot Records) – Robbie Fulks
Factory Girl (Nonesuch Records) – Rhiannon Giddens
Weighted Mind – Sierra Hull (Rounder Records)

Buy Undercurrent

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Bobby Rush Wins Best Traditional Blues Album Grammy Award

Bobby Rush – Porcupine Meat

The album Porcupine Meat by Bobby Rush (Rounder Records) is the winner of Best Traditional Blues at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.

The other finalists were:

Can’t Shake This Feeling – Lurrie Bell (Delmark Records)
Live At The Greek Theatre – Joe Bonamassa (J&R Adventures)
Blues & Ballads (A Folksinger’s Songbook: Volumes I & II) – Luther Dickinson (New West Records)
The Soul Of Jimmie Rodgers – Vasti Jackson (VJM)

Buy Porcupine Meat in the Americas

Buy Porcupine Meat in Europe

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Artist Profiles: Jake Shimabukuro

Jake Shimabukuro

 

Widely recognized as the world’s top ukulele player, Jake Shimabukuro (shee-ma-BOO-koo-roh) is internationally renowned for lightening-fast fingers and revolutionary playing techniques. He views the ukulele as an “untapped source of music with unlimited potential.” Jake’s virtuosity defies label or category. Playing jazz, blues, funk, classical music, bluegrass, folk, flamenco, and rock, Jake’s mission is to show everyone that the ukulele is capable of so much more than only the traditional Hawaiian music many associate it with.

At just four years of age, Jake’s mother gave him his first ukulele lesson. “When I played my first chord I was hooked,” says Jake, “I fell in love with the instrument.” That love grew into a deep passion to create and innovate. Experimenting with various techniques allows Jake to create sounds never thought possible on the tiny four-string, two-octave instrument.

A spectacular showman, his performances captivate audiences with intricate strumming and plucking, electrifying high-energy grooves and smooth, melodic ballads. His covers of tunes by The Beatles and Led Zeppelin are interpretations that have dazzled and delighted audiences worldwide.

 

Jake Shimabukuro – Photo by Hisahi Ushida

 

From a modest beginning performing at a local Honolulu café, Jake has gone on to play famous venues such as the House of Blues and The Knitting Factory (Los Angeles), The Birchmere (Alexandria, VA), Tipitina’s (New Orleans), Joe’s Pub and B.B. King’s Nightclub (New York City), The Bumbershoot Festival (Seattle), The Fuji Rock Festival (Japan) and many others. Occasional tours with Jimmy Buffett since 2005 have given Jake the experience of a lifetime, regularly exposing his virtuosity and amazing stage presence to crowds of over 50,000.

Jake toured with Bela Fleck & the Flecktones (2002, 2005, 2006) and recorded on the band’s Little Worlds (2003) album. Jake is also featured on Ziggy Marley’s Grammy Award winning album Love is My Religion (2006) and contributed to the soundtrack of the Jimmy Buffett-produced film, Hoot. This was a rewarding experience for Jake and gave him the confidence to score the Japanese independent film Hula Girl.

The album Travels came out in 2015. The recording featured original compositions by Jake as well as modern interpretations of cherished Hawaiian standards and two 1970s’ pop hits, “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5, and “Low Rider” by War.

 

 

Also in 2015, Jake returned home to Honolulu to participate in the world premiere of Campanella, the first-ever concerto written for the ukulele. The piece was composed by Dr. Byron Yasui for Jake to perform with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. “It was a great moment for the ukulele, because it was the first time that the ukulele was presented as a classical instrument,” said Jake. “It was, by far, the most difficult piece of music I have ever performed.”

In early 2016, Jake released Live In Japan (Hitchhike Records/eOne), a two-CD set featuring career-spanning musical pieces, including a 10-minute classic reworking of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

A few months later, Jake released Nashville Sessions (2016), his first album of all original songs. what was conceived as studio jams evolved into beautifully structured compositions. The lineup incliuded Nolan Verner on bass and Evan Hutchings on drums.

 

Discography

* Sunday Morning (Hitchhike Records, 2002)
* Skyline (2002)
* Crosscurrrent (Hitchhike Records, 2003)
* Walking Down Rainhill (Hitchhike Records, 2004)
* Dragon (Hitchhike Records, 2005)
* Gently Weeps (Hitchhike Records, 2006)
* Haruyo Koi
* My Life (Hitchhike Records, 2007)
* Hula Girls (Hitchhike Records, 2007)
* Live (Hitchhike Records, 2009)
* Peace Love Ukulele (Hitchhike Records, 2011)
* Grand Ukulele (Hitchhike Records, 2012)
* Travels (Hitchhike Records, 2015)
* Live in Japan (Hitchhike Records, 2016)
* Nashville Sessions (Js Records , 2016)

DVDs

* Play Loud Ukulele (2005)
* Million Miles Away (2005)

Web Site: www.jakeshimabukuro.com

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