Tag Archives: Jazz

Artist Profiles: Monty Alexander

Monty Alexander

Monty Alexander was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica where he began piano lessons at the age of six. As a youngster, he was often invited to sit in with the bands of prominent musicians in Jamaica. While still a teenager, he had the opportunity to enjoy the performances of Louis Armstrong and Nat “King” Cole at the Carib Theater in Jamaica. His style of playing was deeply affected by their joyful gospel of jazz. He eventually formed a band called “Monty and the Cyclones,” which charted several songs on the Jamaican hit parade from 1958 to 1960.

In the summer of 1963, Monty played in Las Vegas, Nevada with Art Mooney’s orchestra. He was observed by Jilly Rizzo and his friend, Frank Sinatra. Jilly hired him to work in his club in New York City. At Jilly’s, he played for and accompanied many well-known personalities of the entertainment world, including “the chairman of the board” himself, Mr. Sinatra. It was at Jilly’s that he met Milt Jackson, who hired Monty to work with him. Soon thereafter, he began an association with bassist Ray Brown that lasted for many years. In addition, he performed with other jazz giants, including Dizzy Gillespie, dark Terry, and Sonny Rollins.

Since 1964, Monty has recorded with other artists and played on movie soundtracks and albums with Quincy Jones. He worked for producer/director Clint Eastwood on the film “Bird,” about the life of Charlie Parker. In 1991, he assisted Natalie Cole in a tribute to her father, Nat “King” Cole. That album, “Unforgettable,” won seven Grammy awards. In 1993, he had the honor of performing at Carnegie Hall in a tribute to the beloved jazz pianist Erroll Garner. In 1993 and 1994, he performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland with opera singer Barbara Hendricks in a program of Duke Ellington compositions. In 1995, he was back in Montreux with his all-Jamaican reggae group where he recorded a live album for Island Records, “Yard Movement.” In August 1996, Monty was invited to the Verbier Festival in Switzerland to perform George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with a full symphony orchestra directed by Bobby McFerrm. By 1996, Monty had recorded over 50 CDs under his own name and was frequently performing at leading festivals and music venues worldwide.

Alexander joined the Telarc label with the 1999 release of Stir It Up, an album that combined acoustic jazz and Jamaican reggae rhythm sections to interpret the music of the great Bob Marley. He was joined in he studio by the Jamaican reggae rhythm section known as Gumption. Gumption interfaced rhythmically with the jazz rhythm section, which included drummer Troy Davis and bassist Hassan Shakur. Telarc labelmate Steve Turre guested on trombone and conch shells. Stir It Up marked the beginning of a prolific period for Alexander on Telarc – one that continues to this day.

In 2000, he released Monty Meets Sly & Robbie, an album featuring Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare – reggae’s most respected and experienced rhythm section. This summit meeting of multi-talented and multi-faceted players results in a vibrant combination of classic soul tunes, funky jazz and hardcore grooves.

Goin’ Yard, released in 2001, was recorded live at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Goin’ Yard united Alexander with a six-piece band of Jamaica’s finest musicians, including special guest hand drummer Robert Thomas Jr.

Alexander’s My America released in 2002, includes guest appearances by guitarist John Pizzarelli and vocalists Freddy Cole and Kevin Mahogany. The following year, he teamed up with his jazz trio – including bassist Hassan Shakur and drummer Mark Taylor – for the first time in five years for Impressions in Blue. The album is a celebration of the bluesier side of jazz, with eleven tracks that include favorites from the great American songbook, as well as few selections of more exotic origin.

Alexander revisited his roots with Rocksteady, a collaborative album with reggae guitarist Ernest Ranglin release on Telarc in 2004. The album is a tribute to the ska movement that flourished in Jamaica’s Studio One (the island version of Motown) in the late ’60s and early ’70s and eventually spread throughout the world.

Live at the Iridium followed a year later. The live set, which also features bassist Hassan Shakur, drummer Mark Taylor and percussionist Robert Thomas, Jr., captures the energy and passion of Alexander’s stage performance at the well-known New York City jazz club.

In the late summer of 2005, Alexander traveled to Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong Studio in Kingston, Jamaica, with a crew of highly talented U.S. and Jamaican session players to record the brilliant follow-up to Stir It Up. Concrete Jungle, released in March 2006, is a set of twelve compositions penned by Bob Marley and reinterpreted via Alexander’s jazz piano-oriented arrangements. The resulting union of musical sensibilities digs even deeper into the Marley legend.

Discography:

Alexander the Great (Pacific Jazz, 1964)
Monty Alexander (1965)
Spunky (Pacific Jazz, 1965)
Zing (RCA, 1967)
This Is Monty Alexander (Verve, 1969)
Taste of Freedom (1970)
Here Comes the Sun (MPS, 1971)
We’ve Only Just Begun (MPS, 1971)
Perception (MPS, 1974)
Rass! (MPS, 1974)
Love & Sunshine (MPS, 1974)
Unlimited Love (MPS, 1975)
Montreux Alexander (MPS, 1976)
The Way It Is (MPS, 1976)
Live in Holland (Verve, 1977)
Cobilimbo (MPS, 1977)
Estade (MPS, 1978)
Jamento (Fantasy, 1978)
So What? (Black & Blue, 1979)
Facets (Concord, 1979)
In Tokyo (Pablo, 1979)
Ivory and Steel (Concord, 1980)
Trio (Concord, 1980?)
Monty Alexander – Ernest Ranglin (MPS, 1981)
Fingering (Atlas, 1981)
Look Up (1982)
Overseas Special (Concord, 1982)
Triple Treat (Concord, 1982)
Duke Ellington Songbook (MPS, 1983)
Reunion in Europe (Concord, 1983)
Full Steam Ahead (Concord Jazz, 1985)
Threesome (Soul Note, 1985)
Friday Night (Limetree, 1985)
Saturday Night (Limetree, 1985)
Triple Treat II (Concord Jazz, 1987)
Jamboree (Concord, 1988)
Triple Treat III (Concord Jazz, 1989)
The River (Concord Jazz, 1985)
Carbbean Circle (Chesky, 1993)
Maybeck Recital Hall Series, Vol. 40 (Concord Jazz, 1994)
Steamin’ (Concord Jazz, 1995)
Yard Movement (Island, 1995)
To Nat with Love (Mastermix, 1995)
To the Ends of the Earth (Concord Picante, 1996)
Echoes of Jilly’s (Concord, 1997)
The Concord Jazz Heritage Series (Concord, 1998)
Stir It Up – The Music of Bob Marley (Telarc, 1999)
Ballad Essentials (Concord Jazz, 2000)
Island Grooves (Concord Jazz, 2000)
Monty Meets Sly and Robbie (Telarc, 2000)
Goin’ Yard (Telarc, 2001)
Many Rivers to Cross (Meldac, 2001)
Caribbean Duet (Sound Hills, 2001)
My America (Telarc, 2002)
Li’l Darlin (Absord, 2003)
Steaming Hot (Concord, 2004)
Zing (BMG, 2004)
Rocksteady (Telarc, 2004)
Live at the Iridium (Telarc, 2004)
Jazz Calypso (JVC, 2005)
Concrete Jungle: The Songs of Bob Marley (Telarc, 2005)
The Way It Is (, 2006)
Impressions in Blue (Telarc, 2008)
The Good Life: Monty Alexander Plays the Songs of Tony Bennett (Chesky, 2008*)
Solo (Jeton, 2008)
Calypso Blues: The Songs of Nat King Cole (Chesky, 2009*)
Uplift (Jazz Legacy[8], 2007–10)
Love Me Tender (Venus, 2010)
Harlem-Kingston Express (Motéma, 2011)
Uplift 2 (Jazz Legacy, 2013)

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Artist Profiles: Ernest Ranglin

Ernest Ranglin

Ernest Ranglin was born June 19, 1932 and grew up in the small town of Robin’s Hall in the Parish of Manchester, a rural community In the middle of Jamaica. Music has always claimed a special place In the Island’s culture, and Ranglin’s destiny was set from an early age when two of his uncles showed him the rudiments of playing the guitar. When they discovered just how good the young boy was, they bought him a ukulele.

Ranglin learned how to play by imitating his uncles, but he was soon to be influenced by the recordings of the great American jazz guitarist Charlie Christian. Living in rural Jamaica, however, inhibited the boy’s ambitions, which, even at the age of fourteen, were focused on music. He then moved to Kingston – the country’s capital – ostensibly to finish his studies at Bodmin College. Very high on Ranglin’s agenda was to seriously study the guitar, something not on the school’s priorities.

His lessons came from guitar books and late-night sessions watching the Jamaican dance bands of the time: he was particularly influenced by Cecil Houdini, an unrecorded local musician. By the time he was sixteen years old, Ranglin was acknowledged as the rising young talent in the city. In 1948 he joined his first group, the Val Bennett Orchestra, playing in the local hotels. Such was Ranglin’s burgeoning reputation that he soon came to the attention of rival dance bands and, by the early-Fifties, he was a member of Jamaica’s best-known group, the Eric Deans Orchestra, touring around the Caribbean and as far north as the Bahamas.

The big bands gave Ranglin the hugely beneficial experience of learning how to orchestrate and arrange. The typical repertoire of the day Included tunes by Les Brown, Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton and Duke Ellington, together with Cuban music and the hot Broadway show songs. The constant tours also gave Ranglin a wider vision, meeting musicians from other traditions. Once, for instance, when he was working In Nassau his performance was heard by Les Paul, who gave Ranglin a guitar In admiration of his talents.

It was, however, back In Jamaica that his career was to be transformed by a chance meeting. In 1958 Ranglin was leading his own quintet, playing the leading hotels In Kingston and the resorts on the north of the Island. One engagement was at the Half Moon Hotel in Montego Bay, a show caught by a young would-be record producer called Chris Blackwell.

Immediately Impressed by Ranglin’s extraordinary talents, Blackwell offered him the chance to make a record. The album featured a pianist called Lance Heywood on one side with Ernest Ranglin on the other: It was the very first release by Island Records and the start of a long association between Ranglin and Blackwell.

By the following year, 1959, Ranglin had joined the bassist Cluett Johnson in a studio group called Clue J and His Blues Blasters. This was a very different kind of style to the big bands. Jamaican music was in a state of flux, the traditional mento superseded by a tough urban stance influenced by the pervading sounds of American R&B. Johnson and Ranglin recorded several instrumentals for producer Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd at Federal – the only real studio facility on the island. The first of these tunes, Shuffling Bug, is widely regarded as the first example of ska, the shuffle rhythm which exaggerated the ‘jump beat’ heard on New Orleans’ R&B records of the Fifties. Ska became the bedrock of Jamaican popular music, leading to rock steady, reggae, ragga and all the innovations the island has brought into the global mainstream.

Ernest Ranglin

Ranglin’s fluent and versatile guitar style, coupled with his arrangement skills, meant he was in constant demand right through the ska era. In addition to his work with Prince Buster and Baba Brooks, Ranglin was also remembered by Chris Blackwell who, in 1962, had launched Island Records in Britain. Blackwell had a song he thought could be a pop smash. He also had a young Jamaican singer called Millie, who’d previously recorded some sides for Coxsone Dodd. In 1964 Blackwell brought both Millie and Ranglin to London. They recorded My Boy Lollipop which, in the spring of that year, reached number two in the UK chart. It went on to become a worldwide hit, the first time ska had infiltrated into the vocabulary of pop music.

In recent years, Ernest Ranglin has gone back to his roots and has made various cross cultural collaborations and concept albums. On Below the Bassline he covers some of the greatest songs of the rock and roll era. Memories of Barber Mack is Ernest Ranglin’s tribute to the late Jamaican saxophonist Barber Mack. The Search of the Lost Riddim album took Ernest Ranglin to Senegal for his first visit since the mid 1970’s when he toured as part of the Jimmy Cliff band. These recording sessions represent the accomplishment of a dream he had cherished for over 20 years: returning to Africa to record with African musicians.

Discography:

Guitar in Ernest (Island, 1959)
Wranglin’ (Island, 1964)
Reflections (Island, 1964)
Guitar in Ernest (Federal, 1965)
The Exciting Ranglin (Federal, 1966)
Boss Reggae (Federal, 1969)
Softly With Ranglin (Federal, 1969)
Mr. Ranglin With Soul (Federal, 1969)
Today’s Best (Federal)
A Mod a Mod Ranglin (Federal, 1970)
Ranglin Roots (1972)
Ranglypso (MPS, 1976)
Be What You Want to Be/From Kingston JA to Miami USA (Konduko, 1983)
We Want to Party (Rooney, 1989)
True Blue (Rooney, 1990)
Play the Time Away (Grove, 1996)
Below the Bassline (Island, 1996)
Memories of Barber Mack (Island, 1997)
Tribute to a Legend (Kariang, 1997)
In Search of the Lost Riddim (Palm Pictures, 1998)
E.B.@Noon (Tropic, 2000)
Modern Answers to Old Problems (Telarc, 2000)
Grooving (Blue Moon, 2001)
Gotcha! (Telarc, 2001)
Alextown (Palm Pictures, 2005)
Surfin’ (Telarc, 2005)
Order of Distinction (AIX, 2006)
Ranglin & Friends (Dubtonic, 2010)
Avila (Avila Street, 2012)
Bless Up (Avila Street, 2014)
Ernest Ranglin at Side Door Records (Side Door, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Enzo Favata

Enzo Favata

Enzo Favata is one of the most active and well-known Sardinian musicians in the Italian and international panorama. He plays the saxophone and sopranino sax, as well as other wind instruments, above all ethnic ones from Sardinia. His research joins the arcane and the modern, experimenting with different languages and musical cultures.

Enzo Favata was born in the Sardinian city of Alghero in Northwest Sardinia. Curiosity moved him from playing in traditional bands to experimenting with electronic music and composing film music. Innumerable performances at festivals and awards followed.

In 1993, after having played traditional jazz for some years he debuted with a new quartet participating in the Festival Jazz di S.Anna Arresi: this group and the music which was proposed were the seeds of the Jana Project, which combined ethnic music with jazz improvisation and world music from other parts of the globe. In the live context there was interaction between acoustic instruments and samplers.

In 1992, Favata produced Jana. It documents the visionary landscape of musical mixing between that which is Sardinian and that of other cultures. During the same period he developed another project with guitarist Marcello Peghin and percussionist Roberto Pellegrini: Tangram Trio, an experimental group in the field of contemporary jazz and avant-garde music, halfway between minimalism, noise music and underground.

Alongside the concert experience was that of musical production for soundtracks working with RAI, radio and television, dance and theatre.At the beginning of 1993 he debuted as the composer of soundtracks for movies, putting his name to the music of a German film set in Sardinia “With love ….Fabia” by the Italian director Maria Teresa Camoglio, produced by Shram Film of Berlin. The experience was repeated in 1995 with the film by the director Antonello Grimaldi “The sky is ever bluer” presented in 1997 at 10 international film festivals including that of Berlin. This soundtrack is available on CD on the label San Isidro.

1995 marked the start of the collaboration with the label Robi Droli with which Islà was released– this work was recorded together with guitarist Marcello Peghin, tablista Federico Sanesi and Riccardo Tesi on the diatonic accordion. During that period Favata abandoned electronic music for the pure sounds of acoustic instruments. Islà determined and defined the stylistic character of Favata’s work which is inspired by travel.

1997 saw an important collaboration with a master of the Argentine bandoneon, Dino Saluzzi. This collaboration was recorded on the CD Ajò featuring an acoustic quintet. Its music crosses memories of emigration between Sardinia and Argentina. The collaboration with Saluzzi is currently continuing with a series of concerts.

Voyage in Sardaigne was released in 1998 for the label of the national newspaper “Il Manifesto”. This was the first album that Favata dedicated entirely to Sardinia: within this work the saxophone player involves and lets his music be performed by 32 musicians, amongst which the most important players of Sardinian folk music. Voyage en Sardaigne debuted as a show in the same year at the Festival of the Mediterranean Song at Palma de Mallorca, and then arrived in autumn at the prestigious Salon of Music in Turin, and the Book Show in Frankfurt and a concert at the Lyrical Theatre of Cagliari.

Discography:

Tangos de La Tardor (LMJ, 1987)
Frammenti (autoprodotto, 1991)
Le quattro stagioni (autoprodotto, 1991)
Jana (Il ponte sonoro, 1992)
Islà (CGD, 1995)
Ajò (Robi Droli, 1997)
Voyage en Sardaigne (Robi Droli/Il Manifesto, 1998)
Atlantico – (Il Manifesto, 1999)
Boghes and Voices (Harmonia Mundi, 2001)
Made in Sardinia (CCn’c Records / Il Manifesto, 2003)
Crossing (IRD, 2004)
No man’s land (Sixelectrix Splasch Records, 2005)
The New Village (Il Manifesto, 2007)
Jeux D’Enfant (Comar 23, 2008)
Inner Roads (Jazzit Records, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Amos Hoffman

Amos Hoffman

Composer, guitarist & ud player Amos Hoffman started as a classical guitar player. On his 8th birthday, his father gave him an ud as a present. He never studied the ud formally but taught himself, and over the years became the talented composer & player he is today.

At the age of 20, he left for New York where he played for several years with top jazz musicians such as Dennis Charles, Avishai Cohen, Sam Newsom (with whom he had also recorded an album), Collins and others. He also recorded an album (for the Spanish Fresh Sound label) with Jorge Rossy, Duane Eubanks and Avishai Cohen.

During his stay in New York, he studied ud and maqam (the Arabic modus) with the famous Lebanese ney & ud player Bassam Saba (who played with Simon Shaheen). After returning home to Israel at the end of 1999, he began to compose the music that would eventually become the tracks on Na’ama, his most recent work. On Na?ama, Hoffman plays homage to the traditions of classical Arabic music the taqasim (improvisation) and the maqam (scales). All 12 tracks are original compositions, inspired by the great Arab composers of the 20th Century. Not completely content to simply play his instruments, he’s also taught himself to build them. To date, he has built several ouds, including the one he plays on Na’ama.

Hoffman has recorded solo albums and collaborated with several artists in Israel and worldwide including Avishai Cohen, Kiko Berenguer (Spain), and Jan Mlynarski (Poland).

In 2013, Amos was awarded one of Israel’s most prestigious prizes – The Landau Prize for Arts and Sciences for Outstanding Achievement in the field of Jazz.

Hoffman’s album Back to the City follows in the tradition of the great guitarists of the old school, such as Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell. Back to the City includes original compositions and standards, with a lineup of old friends bassist Omer Avital, drummer Vince Ector, saxophonist Asaf Yuria, trumpeter Duane Eubanks and special guest Itai Kriss on flute.

Discography:

The Dreamer (Act, 1999)
Na’ama (Magda, 2006)
Evolution (RazDaz, 2008)
Carving (Razdaz Recordz, 2010)
Back to the City (2015)
Pardes (2018)

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Artist Profiles: Melanie O’Reilly

Melanie O’Reilly

One of the most sensational musical pioneers to explode on the Irish scene, Melanie O’Reilly is now firmly established in the pantheon of creative Irish artists.

As a performer/singer-songwriter, her exhilarating and unique blend of Irish traditional music and jazz creates a powerful and haunting soundscape, exploring untouched frontiers, and which captivates audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

Born in Dublin, Melanie comes from a family of musicians and actors, and she spent most of her youth treading the boards as an actress and singer, while at the same time was a multiple- award -winner singing in Dublin’s Feis Ceol competitions.

Her passion for jazz began when her sister Clodagh introduced her the sound of jazz singers at the age of 11. Intrigued by the rhythms and scat improvisations of Ella Fitzgerald, she decided then that she would become a jazz singer, and she immersed herself in the music of other jazz giants such as Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. She also absorbed much by listening to Irish groups such as Horslips, Louis Stewart’s Trio and the Sean-nos (unaccompanied traditional) singing of Sean O Riada.

After an Arts Degree from University College Dublin, Melanie began her professional musical career, discovering the possibilities of mixing jazz with traditional Irish music and began to build phenomenal respect within jazz circles.

Melanie tours extensively throughout Ireland, Scotland, England, France and other parts of Europe and the United States. Venues of note include New York’s Cooper Union, the London Barbican, the Lorient Festival Inter-Celtique in Brittany, the Cork International Jazz Festival, La Fete de la Musique in Norway and the Royal Festival Hall in London; a special highlight of her international work was performing at the Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors festival in New York. Her 2004 concert with guitarist Larry Coryell at Dublin’s Green Room was noted as one of the top jazz concerts of the year by the Sunday Independent (Dublin).

Melanie is a regular performer on the BBC radio and TV and on Ireland’s National broadcast station (RTE) as well as being a frequent guest on French radio and TV. In 2004 she entered the world of radio broadcasting, being asked by RTE to record a series of interviews with American jazz musicians. Her interviews of Bobby McFerrin, David Benoit, Larry Coryell, Kitty Margolis and others will air under the name ‘Jazz on the Bay’ in 2005.

Melanie’s stunning Celtic jazz album Oilean Draiochta (Enchanted Island) received the critical thumbs-up from the artistic community as well as garnering wide radio play and has contributions from a host of renowned musicians such as guitarist Larry Coryell, and Irish traditional stars Tommy Hayes and Eileen Ivers. It also features songs that were the result of her collaboration with Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill.

Other recordings include the album House of the dolphins, a further development of Melanie’s fusion of Celtic jazz, and nominated for Best Contemporary Album and Best Contemporary Female Artist by Irish Music magazine.

Her subsequent album, Aisling Ghear (Bitter Vision), is a duo album with guitarist Sean O’Nuallain and has been released to wide critical acclaim. Two of her songs she has co-written with Nuala ni Dhomnaill, ‘Chugat an Puca’ and ‘Amhran na Milaoise,’ were chosen for the compilation albums -‘Realta ’98‘ and ‘Realta 2000‘ (RTE). She also featured on the recently released French album Lorient Festival Interceltique ‘Trent Ans/Thirty Years, a compilation of the best of Lorient.

Melanie’s album, Women who Left, is an original song cycle exploring 19th Century Irish emigration to America through a fusion of jazz and Irish traditional themes.

In addition to her performing and recording work, Melanie also enjoys her work as a music educator. Since 1994, she has taught jazz vocals in workshops and to individual students and has presented workshops in the Scottish Highlands and Islands and at Princeton University, the Chicago Irish Heritage Center the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, the National Concert Hall in Dublin and Napier University, Edinburgh.

In 2003, she was awarded a Visiting Research Scholarship by the University of California at Berkeley in the Celtic Studies program to develop and research the theme of Irish immigration for her songwriting and performing. She currently resides in Berkeley (California).

Discography:

Oilean Draiochta – Enchanted Island
Tir Na Mara-The Sea Kingdom (CBM, 1996)
House Of The Dolphins ‎(Mistletoe Music, 1999)
Women who Left
Thieves of Time (2011)

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Sitar Meets Contemporary Jazz

Pulsar Trio – Zoo of Songs (t3Records, 2018)

Zoo of Songs features innovative contemporary jazz instrumental pieces performed with piano and keyboards, sitar and percussion. The unconventional use of the sitar gives the music an exotic element.

Although most of the album is uptempo, Zoo of Songs also features dreamy pieces with mesmerizing acoustic sounds enhanced by reverb and brushed drums.

The trio includes Beate Wein on piano and keyboards; Matyas Wolter on sitar and surbahar; and Aaron Christ on drums and percussion.

Buy Zoo of Songs

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Artist Profiles: Shweta Jhaveri

Shweta Jhaveri

Shweta Jhaveri is one of the most celebrated singers of her generation performing North Indian classical vocal music. Her specialty is the Khayal, the most elegant and technically demanding style of Indian classical music. It is through this unique song form that her innovative artistry and remarkable vocal technique have made her an enduring favorite among audiences in India and abroad.

Born and raised in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), India, Shweta was the first female vocalist to represent the state of Gujarat on an international level in the field of vocal classical Indian music. At the age of 6, she began training under the guidance of the late Pandit Vilasrao Khandekar and for eight years performed and studied with the world renowned vocalist, Pandit Jasraj. She holds a bachelor‘s degree in Literature and a master‘s in Music Composition. In 1985, at the age of nineteen, Shweta made her debut outside of India traveling to Great Britain and the United States, where she now performs annually. Shweta has also developed a strong musical following in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Shweta Jhaveri is the first Indian classical vocalist to publicly perform with westerners and musicians outside of the Indian classical tradition. The music in Anahita is composed in traditional North Indian rags in the form of Drut Khayals, one of the most popular North Indian classical vocal forms. The accompaniment of guitar, bass, violin, and drums is innovative and arresting, lending a modern touch to these traditional musical expressions.

In May 1993, Kavi Alexander, owner of Waterlily Acoustics formed an ensemble called The Court Musicians. During a two day recording session in Santa Bárbara (California), American and Classical Indian musicians collaborated and performed a collection of new works called, At The Court Of The Chera King.

The artists included: Shweta Jhaveri on vocals, Jonathan Kessler on tar, Abdullah Azam on sarod, Charlie Bisharat on violin, Tim Mullins on dobro, Roger Lewbow on cello, Joe Venegoni on dulcimer and Carl Weingarten on dobro & classical guitar.

Shweta Jhaveri is a guest instructor at the Ali Akbar Khan College of Music (AACM).

Shweta Jhaveri is the founder of a music publishing company called Cosmic Khayals (1998) and a recording label ’21st Century Cosmos’ (2003). Shweta Jhaveri has performed extensively in India (frequently at prestigious festivals like Saptak-Ahmedabad, Sankat Mochan-Varanasi, Pandit Motiram Samaroh-Hyderabad, NCPA-Mumbai, Nationwide SpicMacay festival tours,Shankarlal fest.-NewDelhi and more), USA ,UK, Canada, Europe, Argentina, The Netherlands, Bangladesh, Middle East, Mauritious, Singapore.

Besides many national music prizes and trophies, Shweta has been the recipient of – ‘Gaan Kala Bharati’-Ahmedabad at age 14, The Netragaonkar award-Pune 1991, The prestigious Pandit Jasraj award – Pune 1994, The Indo-American Chamber’s award-California 2003, The ASCAPlus awards for her world music English lyrics and Indian classical vocal CD Avishkar, in 2005.

After the released titles Avishkar & Khayal-Saga, Cosmic Khayals/21st Century Cosmos’ next production is the pioneer world vocal music CD release, featuring Shweta’s World music lyrics based on Indian classical ragas.

Discography:

Anahita (Intuition, 2000)
In Various Moods (Biswas Records, 2000)
Hindustani Classical (Biswas Records, 2001)
Avishkar (21st Century Cosmos, 2005)
Khayal-Saga (21st Century Cosmos, 2005)
Music of Teens & 20s (21st Century Cosmos, 2007)
Huge (21st Century Cosmos, 2007)
Awakening (Audiorec Classics, 2011)

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Artist Profiles: Prasant Radhakrishnan

Prasant Radhakrishnan

Prasant Radhakrishnan is a saxophonist identified with both the South Indian Classical (Carnatic) Music and Jazz disciplines. Blessed with a legendary teacher (Kadri Gopalnath) and a strong tonal depth on the saxophone, Prasant caught the attention of audiences worldwide while still in high school. His style has been described as possessing technical fluidity as well as a mature depth of melodic phrasing beyond his years.

Due to the nature of his instrument and musicianship, Prasant has transformed several first-time listeners of South Indian music into enthusiasts. His performances have been described as captivating, fresh, soothing, gripping and profound by audiences and critics all over the world. His original compositions have also been featured in premiere concerts in the U.S. and abroad. His first album Swara Sudha, released in 2000, met with critical success both in the U.S. and India. Prasant Radhakrishnan continues to push the limits of the saxophone and improvisational music.

Prasant Radhakrishnan, is the youngest musician to receive the prestigious AIIS (American Institute of India Studies) Senior Performing Arts Fellowship in its history.

Discography:

Swara Sudha (2000)
Duality (2005)
East Facing (2007)
VidyA (2008)
Kiravani: A Live Experience (2009)
Meditations: Ragas on Saxophone: Vol. 1 (2011)
Naada Samyama (2013)
Meditations: Ragas on Saxophone Vol. 2 (2015)

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Artist Profiles: Prasanna

Prasanna – Photo by Phil Maturano

Prasanna was born on August 28, 1982 in Tiruchirappalli, India. He is the most important performer of Indian Classical carnatic music on the electric guitar. Firmly grounded in tradition and yet extending its scope. Prasanna has stunned audiences all over the world at some of the most prestigious concert halls, international guitar festivals, jazz and world music festivals.

He has recorded and played on stage with numerous international world, jazz and rock artists. Prasanna has also recorded instructional videos.

In 2003, Prasanna released an educational DVD titled DVD Ragamorphism. This is the first ever educational DVD that really goes into the depths of application of Indian Classical Carnatic music to contemporary Jazz, Rock, Blues improvisation and beyond. In spite of the complex nature of the material presented on the DVD, Prasanna employs a relaxed conversational approach throughout the film. Prasanna unlocks the potent wealth of his microtonal Carnatic vocabulary, that makes it possible for him to improvise in a way no other guitarist has ever done before.

Ragamorphism explores numerous ragas and their applications in soloing over chord changes, the blues, chord voicings derived from Ragas, microtonal slurring and sliding guitar techniques, mathematical treatment of rhythms etc.

In late 2003, Prasanna’s CD Be the Change was released. Aside from Prasanna’s guitars and vocals, it features acclaimed musicians: bass legend Alphonso Johnson (Weather Report, Santana, Phil Collins etc), virtuoso bassist Victor Wooten (Bela Fleck and the Flecktones), saxophonist Jeff Coffin (Bela Fleck and the Flecktones), studio drummer Ralph Humphrey (Frank Zappa, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter etc), saxophonist/pianist Andy Suzuki (Al Jarreau, David Benoit, Kilauea), and drummer Derico Watson (Victor Wooten band, Jeff Coffin band, Bela Fleck etc).

In the summer 0f 2005, Prasanna completed 2 recording projects. Electric Ganesha Land, part Carnatic, part classic rock, part metal, part grunge and part funk with a nod to psychedelia. The powerful rhythm section features Haridwaramangalam A.K. Palanivel on thavil, Prapancham Ravindran on mridangam, Karthick on ghatam, morsing and B.S. Purushotham on kanjira. Prasanna plays electric bass additionally on a few tracks. “I recorded this album on Pro-Tools HD in the beautiful Mahati studios in Chennai, (owned by film composer Mani Sharma) and mixed it with the ubiquitous H. Sridhar at AM studios on the Neve 88R super analog console.”

The other album project was Ra Rama. “This is a traditional Carnatic CD and again I have a burning rhythm section of Haridwaramangalam A.K. Palanivel on thavil, J. Vaidhyanathan on mridangam and Karthick on Ghatam. I chose to play one composition each from many different composers and sonically this is special since this is the first time I have had both thavil and mridangam on a Carnatic album.”

Discography:

Spirit of Youth (Saragam, 1993)
Vibrant Aesthetics (Inreco, 1993)
Evergreen Classicals on guitar (Keerthana, 1993)
Evergreen Melodies on guitar (Keerthana, 1993)
Guitar goes Classical (Audio Fine, 1993)
Guitar Indian Style (Oriental Records, 1996)
Roots (Sangeetha/HMV, 1997)
Shakthi – The Omnipotent (Music Today, 2000)
Natabhairavi (Inreco, 2000)
Apoorva Ragas on Guitar (Kalakendra, 2000)
Echo (Saican, 2000)
Peaceful (Susila Music, 2001)
Be the Change (Susila Music, 2004)
Ra Rama (Kosmic Music, 2005)
Electric Ganesha Land (Susila Music, 2006)
Raga Bop Trio (Abstract Logix, 2010)
All Terrain Guitar (Susila Music, 2016)

DVDs

Ragamorphism (Susila music, 2004)
Live in Sedona (Susila Music, 2009)

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Superbly Crafted Songs of Lake Volta

Joseph Sheehan & Kinetic – Songs of Lake Volta (Ansonica, 2018)

Songs of Lake Volta is a fascinating project by Pittsburgh-based pianist, composer, and educator Joseph Sheehan. He recorded the album together with his superb contemporary jazz ensemble Kinetic and the all-female chamber music ensemble Kassia.

The material on Songs of Lake Volta consists of Ghanaian songs with original music by Sheehan. The result is a remarkable mix of Ghanaian melodies, contemporary jazz and classical music.

Kinetic features Joseph Sheehan on piano, the extraordinary vocalist Anqwenique Wingfield who sings in a variety of indigenous languages and incorporates classical, jazz, Ghanaian and soul elements in her vocal style. Another essential Kinetic member is guitarist Anthony Ambroso, who delivers an exquisite set of electric guitar parts influenced by jazz, blues and West African music. The rest of the band is an excellent rhythm section with Jason Rafalak on bass and Ryan Socrates on drums.

The Kassia Ensemble adds delightful classical music elements throughout the album. The members of the group include Dawn Posey on violin; Ashley Freeburn on violin; Maureen Conlon on violin; Si Yu on viola; and Katya Janpoladyan on cello.

 

 

Songs of Lake Volta is a beautifully-crafted album that illustrates a different side of African music through the prism of contemporary jazz and chamber music.

Buy Songs of Lake Volta from amazon

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