Tag Archives: Jazz

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)

Share

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)

Share

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

Share

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)

Share

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)

Share

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)

Share

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

Share

The Wild Brass of Downtown New York City

Hungry March Band – Running Through with the Sadness

Hungry March Band – Running Through with the Sadness (Imaginator Records, 2018)

Hungry March Band has the format of a classic American marching band with a large brass section and drums. However, their sound and look is totally different from school marching bands. Hungry March Band’s foundation is jazz and improvisation. However, this group of men and women in colorful clothes have an eclectic taste, incorporating world music which they perform at street events and concert venues.

Running Through with the Sadness has structured musical pieces and improvisation as well. The global music influences include fast faced Dominican merengue, Malian Wassulu music, irresistible ska, New Orleans-style funk, Latin jazz and more.

The musicians featured in Running Through with the Sadness include Emily Fairey on tenor saxophone; Sasha Sumner on soprano; Jason Candler on alto and baritone saxophone; Tove Langhof on tenor saxophone; Okkon Tomohiko Yokoyama on alto saxophone; Phillippe Boyer on tenor saxophone; Cousin John Heyenga, Jeremy Mushlin, John Waters and Jennifer Harder on trumpets; Sebastian Isler, Cecil Scheib and Kevin Virgilio on trombones; Tom Abbs and Ben Fausch on sousaphones; Kris Anton and Anders Nelson on snare drum; David Rogers-Berry on bass drum; Samantha Tsistinas on cymbals; Adam Loudermilk on hand percussion; Sara Valentine on clave, cowbell; and Theresa Westerdahl on tambourine.

Running Through with the Sadness is a hip-shaking, toe-tapping wild brass ride through the world of jazz and global rhythms.

Buy Running Through with the Sadness

Share

Artist Profiles: Renaud Garcia-Fons

Renaud Garcia-Fons

Renaud Garcia-Fons was born December 24, 1962 in Paris, France. He is a double bass phenomenon of Spanish-French origin who studied classical music and received an advanced degree from the Conservatoire da la Ville de Paris.

Renaud Garcia-Fons is one of the border-crossing virtuosos equally at home with contemporary classical music, jazz and traditional music. His bass has an ear open to the sounds of Andalusia, the Orient and the Occident, developing genuine World Music.

Garcia-Fons has grown into a highly reputable musician for his breathtaking technique and intonation as well as his talent as a composer. A dazzling performer on five strings, he uses his instrument’s entire range, thus dominating the music and making the bowed double bass sound rather like a cello or a violin. When listening to his percussive speed pizzicato or his sweeping arco flageolets, the breadth of his capabilities becomes evident immediately.

As a composer Garcia-Fons likes to take the listener on a gypsy’s journey through the Mediterranean area, especially Andalusia (Spain), then Brittany, Latin America, India, the Arab world and even into European classical music of the past. Although incorporating influences from far and wide, his compositions are always focused and efficient and keep to the spirit of charming chamber music.

He has collaborated with Dhafer Youssef on 1999’s Malak (Enja Records); Gianluigi Trovesi Nonet on Round About A Midsummer’s Dream (Enja Records, 2000); Antonio Placer, Paulo Bellinati and Jorge Trasante on Nomades D’Ici (Le Chant du Monde, 2000); Nguyên Lê on Three Trios (ACT Music, 1997), Bakida (ACT Music, 2000) and Fragile Beauty (ACT Music, 2008); Gerardo Núñez on Jazzpaña II (ACT Music, 2000), Kudsi Erguner on Islam Blues (ACT Music, 2001) and David Peña Dorantes on Paseo A Dos (E-Motive Records, 2015).

Discography:

Légendes (Enja Records, 1992)
Alboreá (Enja Records, 1995)
Suite Andalouse, with Pedro Soler (Al Sur, 1995)
Oriental Bass (Enja Records, 1997)
Fuera, with Jean-Louis Matinier (Enja Records, 1999)
Acoustic Songs, with Gérard Marais (Label Hopi, 2000)
Navigatore (Enja Records, 2001)
Entremundo (Enja Records, 2004)
Arcoluz (Enja Records, 2006)
La Linea Del Sur (Enja Records, 2009)
Méditerranées (Enja Records, 2010)
Solo – The Marcevol Concert (Enja Records, 2012)
Beyond The Double Bass (Enja Records, 2013)
Silk Moon, with Derya Türkan (e-motive Records, 2014)
La Vie Devant Soi (E-motive Records, 2017)

Share

Artist Profiles: Mino Cinelu

Mino Cinelu

Born in Saint-Cloud, France, in 1957, Mino Cinelu played guitar when he was a child, calling it his “first love.” As a youth, he visited his father’s homeland of Martinique and absorbed the island’s chouval bwa music with its unique rhythms. He started playing drums as a teenager, forming his own funk-fusion band. He also picked up percussion and devoured his father’s Afro-Cuban records, which he says led to his interesting playing style.

He lived in England for a year, and eventually moved to the United States of America, where he quickly hooked up with Miles Davis and began his international career. He has since been in high demand from performers of all genres.

In addition to his solo recordings he appeared on numerous albums, including Gazeuse! (1976) with Gong; Imaginary Day (1997) with Pat Metheny Group; We Want Miles (1982), Star People (1983), Decoy (1984) and That’s What Happened: Live in Germany 1987 (DVD, 1987) with Miles Davis; and Sportin’ Life (1985) and This is This! (1986) with Weather Report.

Solo Discography:

World Trio (1995)
Mino Cinelu (2000)
Quest Journey (2002)
California (2006)

Share