Tag Archives: United States of America

Artist Profiles: Alison Brown

Alison Brown

Alison Brown was born August 7, 1962 in Hartford, Connecticut. She began her music career at a young age, playing banjo in several Southern California bands alongside fiddler Stuart Duncan as a teenager. After graduating from high school, bluegrass took a back seat while Brown attended Harvard University, earned an MBA, and worked as an investment banker.

Following successful tours with both Alison Krauss and Michelle Shocked, a Grammy-nomination for her first solo effort Simple Pleasures and the Banjo Player of the Year award from the International Bluegrass Music Association, Brown put her business skills to work, founding Compass Records in 1995 with her husband Garry West. Brown?s discography includes five releases on Vanguard Records as well as four on Compass Records.

In the late 1990s Brown founded NewGrange, together with Philip Aaberg, Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, Tim O’Brien and Todd Phillips. New Grange combines traditional American elements (folk, bluegrass, even gospel and classical) with contemporary instrumentation (strings and piano).

Alison Brown

Brown’s first record on Compass was Out of the Blue. On her next album, Fair Weather, Brown is joined by special guests like Tim O’Brien, Claire Lynch, Vince Gill, Stuart Duncan, David Grier, and others, returning to her bluegrass roots with stunning results. The 2000 release includes the Grammy Award-winning track “Leaving Cottondale,” featuring Bela Fleck.

In 2002, during two days between performances at the Grand Ole Opry and a trip to the Shetland Folk Festival, the Alison Brown Quartet recorded Replay, a collection of 15 tracks recorded live in the studio. More than anything, this album is the sound of the Alison Brown Quartet relaxed and having a jamming good time in the studio. The album consists of a collection of “fans” favorites in the energetic, updated arrangements that have evolved onstage in the years since Alison Brown formed the Quartet. Produced by Garry West, Replay showcases Brown’s penchant for melodic flair. Her sound is both innovative and accessible and in Brown’s hands, her Appalachian instrument takes bluegrass, bebop and Hot Club swing into the stratosphere.

Alison Brown said about her 2005 album Stolen Moments: “For the first time, I feel like I’ve created a true hybrid sound that suggests its influences bluegrass, jazz, Celtic music but when taken as a whole isn’t any one of these things.” Among those playing on the album are bluegrass greats Sam Bush (mandolin) and Stuart Duncan (fiddle) as well as Irish maestros John Doyle (guitar) and Seamus Egan (flute), ex-Pretenders and Paul McCartney Band guitarist Robbie McIntosh and long time bandmate John R. Burr (piano). Also featured on the album are guest vocalists the Indigo Girls, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Andrea Zonn.

Brown tours internationally with the Alison Brown Quartet, has been a guest speaker at Harvard Business School, Dartmouth’s Amos Tuck School and the University of Colorado Boulder, and served as an Adjunct Professor at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music.

She is also a reputable record producer. She worked with Dale Ann Bradley, Peter Rowan, Quiles & Cloud, and Claire Lynch.

Discography:

Simple Pleasures (Vanguard Records, 1990)
Twilight Motel (Vanguard Records, 1992)
Look Left (Vanguard Records, 1994)
Quartet (Vanguard Records, 1996)
Out of the Blue (Compass Records, 1998)
Fair Weather (Compass Records, 2000)
Best of the Vanguard Years (Vanguard Records, 2002)
Replay (Compass Records, 2002)
Stolen Moments (Compass Records, 2005)
Vanguard Visionaries, compilation (Vanguard Records, 2007)
Evergreen (Compass Records, 2008)
The Company You Keep (Compass Records, 2009)
The Song Of The Banjo (Compass Records, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Alex de Grassi

Alex de Grassi in 2012

Alex de Grassi was born February 13, 1952 in Yokosuka, Japan but grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He started music on the trumpet, but at age 13, discovered the guitar and hasn’t looked back.

He studied guitar with noted teacher Bill Thrasher, jazz piano with Mark Levine and composition with William Mathieu. A Grammy Award nominee and Indie Award nominee for The Water Garden, his first recording was Turning: Turning Back, in 1978, for the fledgling Windham Hill Records, and he became one of the most popular artists on the contemporary acoustic label that would become a recording industry phenomenon.

De Grassi has played at such notable venues as the Montreux Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, Belfast International Festival, Telluride, and Wolftrap. In addition to his own workshop series, Alex has taught at the National Summer Guitar Workshop, the Milwaukee Conservatory of Music, and the Omega Institute. He was the subject of a PBS concert/interview television show, and collaborated with Chilean multi-instrumentalist Quique Cruz in the band Tatamonk and with experimental guitarist G.E. Stinson.

Discography:

Turning: Turning Back (Windham Hill, 1978)
Slow Circle (Windham Hill, 1979)
Clockwork (Windham Hill, 1981)
Southern Exposure (Windham Hill, 1983)
Altiplano (RCA/Novus, 1987)
Deep at Night (Windham Hill, 1991)
A Windham Hill Retrospective (Windham Hill, 1992)
The World’s Getting Loud (Windham Hill, 1993)
Beyond the Night Sky: Lullabies for Guitar (EarthBeat, 1996)
Alex de Grassi’s Interpretation of Simon & Garfunkel (Northsound, 1997)
Alex de Grassi’s Interpretation of James Taylor (NorthSound, 1998)
The Water Garden (Tropo, 1998)
Bolivian Blues Bar (Narada, 1999)
Tatamonk with Quique Cruz (Tropo, 2000)
Shortwave Postcard, with G.E. Stinson (Auditorium, 2001)
Now & Then: Folk Songs for the 21st Century (33rd Street, 2003)
Pure Alex de Grassi (Windham Hill, 2006)

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Artist Profiles: Robert Tree Cody

Robert Cody

Robert “Tree” Cody (also known in the Maricopa language as Oou-Kas Mah Quet or “Thunder Bear”) was born April 20, 1951 in Los Angeles, California. He is a Native American flutist, dancer, artist, educator and actor who has performed throughout the United States, continental Europe, Canada, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, East Asia, Central & South America and Mexico

As an enrolled member of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Community and of Dakota heritage, Cody shares his knowledge of Native American culture, song, dance and music as a performer and invited lecturer at concert halls, universities, museums, schools, and colleges throughout the world.

A versatile flute player and a gifted singer, Cody has eight albums on the Canyon Records label. His most recent album, Crossroads, brings together for the first time, the music of the native people of the Great Plains and Mexico. This recording teams him with Mayan flutist Xavier Quijas Yxayotl (Huichol). Native Flamenco, fuses the Native American cedar flute with flamenco guitar and ethnic percussion into a hot lively sound. Guitarist, Ruben Romero, and percussionist, Tony Redhouse, perform with him on this groundbreaking recording.

Maze, travels a musical journey through the Southwest. Set prior to European arrival to Turtle Island, a wanderer of the North travels and meets the nations of the Southwest. Maze was a Native American Music Awards winner as Best New Age Album of 1999, and it’s track “The Bird Song” was a finalist as Best Song of the Year.

In 1999, Cody appeared as a featured guest artist on a Windham Hill modern jazz release by Russ Freeman and the Rippingtons.

Cody has a remarkable ability to communicate with people of all cultures. His knowledge of six Native American languages, in addition to English, Spanish and a bit of French and Japanese is useful when he travels abroad. Cody holds a special place in his heart for young people of all cultures, and generously gives with his time and many talents for people in need.

Discography:

Traditional Flute Music Of The Native American ‎(Canyon Records, 1988)
Young Eagle’s Flight (Canyon Records, 1991)
White Buffalo (Canyon Records, 1996)
Dreams From The Grandfather (Canyon Records, 1996)
Native Brotherhood, with Ruben Romero ‎(New Earth Records, 2001)
Maze (Canyon Records, 2002)
Reflections ‎(Canyon Records, 2003)
Heart of the Wind – Music for Native American Flute and Drums, with Will Clipman (Canyon Records, 2006)

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Artist Profiles: Riley Baugus

Riley Baugus

Riley Baugus was born November 28, 1965 in North Carolina. He was brought up in a household where recordings of old-time music were often played, Riley developed a love and appreciation for traditional southern Appalachian music as a young child. He began playing the fiddle at age 10, and soon after was playing the guitar and banjo as well. Riley learned much of his music through visits with the elder traditional musicians in and around Grayson County in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Virginia, including fiddlers Tommy Jarrell and Robert Sykes, banjo player Dix man, and guitarist Paul Sutphin.

Riley has played with numerous old-time string bands, including the Red Hots, Backstep, the Old Hollow Stringband, and the Farmer’s Daughters. He also played with Cuttin’ Loose and Polecat Creek.

He has taught banjo, guitar, and fiddle at music camps all over the United States and has toured throughout Europe with Dirk Powell and Tim O?Brien, the Konnarock Critters, and Ira Bernstein. Riley’s singing is featured on the soundtrack of the iconic film, Cold Mountain. He makes his home near Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he works as a welder and blacksmith and builds old-time banjos.

Discography:

Life Of Riley (Yodel Ay Hee, 2001)
Long Steel Rail (Sugar Hill Records, 2006)

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Artist Profiles: Andy Narell

Andy Narell

Though a native of New York, Andy Narell has spent more than two decades developing a global reputation as a steel pan virtuoso whose multicultural style embraces a range of Afro-Caribbean, Latin jazz and pop traditions. He’s one of only a small handful of steel pan players in the world who are playing jazz, and perhaps the only one among that circle of musicians to commit an entire career — live and in the studio — to creating new music for the steel pan in that context.

Andy Narell was born in 1954 in New York City, New York. His father, Murray Narell, a social worker, met a gentleman from Antigua who needed a job and he knew how to make and play steel drums. Andy’s father had the idea of teaching the neighborhood kids how to play steel drums so he started one of the first steel pan programs in the United States. Muray Narell traveled to Trinidad several times, met with some of the top steel pan performers and makers and wrote notes about this encounters. He also brought back steel pans from Trinidad.

Andy Narell started his own steel band group in Queens. The group played regularly at festivals, weddings, benefit concerts and other events. In 1966, at the age of 12, Narell traveled to Trinidad for the first time. The locals were surprised to find such a great technique in a 12 year old boy from New York.

For many years, Narell worked within the context of jazz and world music. One of the highlights of his career came when he teamed with Paquito D’Rivera and Dave Samuels to form the Caribbean Jazz Project. While Narell was busy playing around the U.S., Europe and the Caribbean, or composing for the Panorama steel band festival in Trinidad, or laying down tracks on albums, films and commercials, a grassroots movement was taking shape in South Africa that would have a dramatic influence on his musical and cultural perspective. The lifting of economic restrictions and the transition to majority rule in South Africa in the early 1990s allowed residents of the major cities and outlying townships easier access to recorded music from around the world. A network of “listening clubs” sprouted throughout the region as low-income South Africans pooled their monies to buy CDs of their favorite artists.

By the late 1990s, Narell had ascended to folk-hero status in a fan club he knew nothing about. Narell had been hearing rumors as early as the mid-1990s, but he didn’t know what to make of them.

When South Africa’s government-sponsored Arts Alive festival invited him to come and play in September 1999, he figured he might fill a couple 200 or 300 seat clubs, maybe play an outdoor gig or two, and then come home. He figured wrong. When Narell and Heads Up president Dave Love landed in South Africa, the entire Andy Narell Jazz Club was at the airport, waving signs and sporting hats and t-shirts bearing his name. Arts Alive staffers told him there could be as many as 20,000 people at his outdoor performance. But even they figured wrong. Backed by some of the tightest, most intuitive jazz players from the Johannesburg scene, Narell took the stage and witnessed what he recalls as “a mass of people like I’d never seen. I’d never played in front of anything like this before in my life. The people from Arts Alive estimated between sixty and eighty thousand. And the people knew all the music. In the middle of songs, I’d hear this roar from the audience, and I’d realize that they were singing along with the music. All I could think of was, wow, we are really not in Kansas anymore. This is Africa, man.”

Andy Narell

Narell came down from the experience just long enough to come home and record Fire in the Engine Room (HUCD 3056), his 2000 studio release on Heads Up. Among the musicians featured on the album was guitarist Louis Mhlanga, whom Narell had met in Johannesburg. He returned to Southern Africa in April 2000 for an extensive concert tour that reunited the band he’d played with seven months earlier and explored many of the lesser-traveled cities and townships off the beaten Johannesburg-Cape Town-Durban tour path frequented by most foreign artists.

Live in South Africa — recorded over a two-night stand at the Blues Room in Johannesburg at the tail end of the tour — chronicles another expansion of Narell’s already multicultural sensibilities. The musicians are veterans of the South African music scene, and they bring a rich musical heritage to the performances. Along with Mhlanga, hailing from Zimbabwe, the lineup includes keyboardist Andile Yenana, from the eastern Capebassist Denny Lalouette, from the island of Mauritiusdrummer Rob Watson, from Bloernfonteinand percussionist Basi Mahlasela, from Soweto.

For every song Narell taught them, he learned his share of their music and culture in return. While the formula of solid material interpreted by high-caliber musicianship may be surefire, Narell insists that much of the album’s energy comes from those moments — in the songs themselves and in the tour in general — when spontaneity and creative energy transcended traditional musical structures and cultural boundaries. “A few gigs into this tour, I realized. This is really clicking. We’ve got a band now. The guys were more comfortable with the music, and I started pushing them to experiment more and take more chances, open the music up and allow it to become more African. And sometimes we’d have people up dancing on stage, and they’d break into their township jive and the whole place would turn into a big party. Those were the greatest moments for me, when it was their culture front and center on stage.”

Live in South Africa is all about the response. “With the South Africans’ openness to jazz and instrumental music, somehow I’ve found a way in the door — or my records did, on their own,” he says. “But there was no way I could have known. Recordings are like a message in a bottle, and you really don’t know where the message is going to land and who’s going to hear it or understand it.

His 2004 album, The Passage, which features Narell, the steelband Calypsociation, and three of the greatest soloists in jazz – Michael Brecker, Paquito D’Rivera and Hugh Masekela. The Passage was recorded and mixed using cutting-edge technology to capture all the excitement of the steelband sound, and was released in two formats: a CD, and a 5.1 surround-sound SACD.

The story of The Passage started in two places at the same time: Paris, France, and Port of Spain, Trinidad. The Parisian plot started when Narell arrived in Paris to discover the existence of Calypsociation.

I came over here to teach in the spring of 2001,” Narell recalls. “I had sent over the chart of ‘Coffee Street,’ and they played part of it for me – and I could hear after two minutes that I wanted to work with this band.”

The fit between Narell and Calypsociation was so tight that the band commissioned him to direct, compose and arrange two ten-minute pieces for the second European Steelband Festival in 2002. That music sounded so sweet, and the experience was so rewarding on all sides, that Narell continued working with Calypsociation – a collaboration that’s documented on the CD.

Narell realized that this recording provided the perfect opportunity to try something revolutionary. “Due to technical issues,” he explains, “steelband recordings tend to be one-dimensional sounding. It’s very hard to capture the power of the bass, the spatial relationships of the sections, and the clarity of all the inner parts. So even digital recordings tend to sound small and tinny compared with the massive power of the real thing. For this recording, we placed the microphones all around the band to capture the excitement of 30 people playing together in a large studio space. Then we overdubbed each of the eight sections of the band on top of the live performance to get a clean stereo pair of each section for presence, balance, and effect sends. This way I’ve got the elements I need to create a mix that puts you right there in front of the band.

That’s just the stereo mix. The 5.1 surround sound SACD will be ground-breaking in more ways than one. Obviously, this is the first steelband record to be released in surround, but Narell has gone a great deal farther. “Since surround sound is such a new format, everybody is experimenting and there are very few established conventions. So rather than take the stereo mix and just add a few things to the back for interest, which is what a lot of surround mixers do, I decided to use the technology to put the listener right into the center of a steelband. It’s a thrilling audio experience.”

To take things to yet another level, Narell invited three jazz masters to sit in – Michael Brecker, Paquito D’Rivera and Hugh Masekela. “A lot of jazz musicians don’t take steelband music seriously,” says Narell. “So it was important to me that the soloists should not only be great players, but that they would approach this music with respect, and come to the session with the anticipation that they were about to play with a tight, swinging big band – which is what Calypsociation is. Mike, Paquito and Hugh exceeded my expectations, which were very high. They add a whole new dimension to the record. They play so beautifully, and the sound of their instruments soloing in front of a steelband is a totally exciting experience for me.”

It’s not every day you get a world class orchestra to rehearse for two years to make a record,” says Narell. “I could have spent a few thousand dollars, and a few days, to record the band, but I decided to make the most of this opportunity. We put hundreds of hours of work into recording and mixing this disc. Frankly, I’m trying to redefine the art of the steelband recording.”

Discography:

Hidden Treasure (Inner City, 1979)
Stickman (Hip Pocket, 1981)
Light in Your Eyes (Hip Pocket, 1983)
Slow Motion (Hip Pocket, 1985)
The Hammer (Windham Hill, 1987)
Little Secrets (Windham Hill, 1989)
Down the Road (Windham Hill, 1992)
The Long Time Band (Windham Hill, 1995)
Behind the Bridge (Inak, 1998)
Fire in the Engine Room (Heads Up, 2000)
Live in South Africa (Heads Up, 2001)
Sakesho (Heads Up, 2002)
The Passage (Heads Up, 2004)
Tatoom (Heads Up, 2007)
University of Calypso (Heads Up, 2009)
Dis 1. 4. Raf (Listen 2 Entertainment Group, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Bill Frisell

Bill Frisell – Photo by Michael Wilson

In a career that spans more than 20 years and numerous recordings, guitarist, composer and bandleader. Frisell’s Nonesuch discography includes 16 albums, ranging from original Buster Keaton film scores to covers of music by Charles Ives, Stephen Foster, Bob Dylan and Madonna (Have a Little Faith); collaborations with Jim Keltner and Viktor Krauss (Gone, Just Like a Train and Good Dog, Happy Man); a disc of eleven jazz standards performed in duo with pianist Fred Hersch (Songs We Know); and a first-ever solo guitar album, Ghost Town.

In addition to his work as soloist and bandleader, Frisell has established himself as one of the most sought-after collaborators in contemporary music. He has contributed to the work of such diverse artists as Elvis Costello, Burt Bacharach, Ron Carter, Ginger Baker, Gavin Bryars, Jerry Douglas, Marianne Faithfull, Robin Holcomb, Wayne Horvitz, Paul Motian, David Sylvian, William S. Burroughs, Hal Willner and John Zorn, among others.

Bill Frisell was born in Baltimore and grew up in Denver, playing clarinet in his high school band and discovering his love for the guitar through his exposure to pop music on the radio. His great enthusiasm for the Chicago blues ‘particularly the music of B.B. King and Paul Butterfield ‘ led to his complex affinity for contemporary American music. Frisell studied at the University of Northern Colorado and at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. In 1978 he spent a year composing in Belgium and then moved to New York City, where he played a critical role in the foundation and widespread acceptance of the downtown new music scene. In 1989, Frisell moved to Seattle, where he continues to make his home.

Bill Frisell made a national television appearance in 1997 on Sessions at West 54th. That same year, his 1996 recording Quartet won the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, the German equivalent of a Grammy away. In 1998, Frisell’s recording Nashville won the Downbeat Critics Poll for “Album of the Year,” and in 1998 and 1999 he received both a Critics Award and an Industry Award in the category of “Best Guitarist” in the Annual Jazz Awards, sponsored by the Knitting Factory and the Jazz Journalists Association.

From 1999 through the Summer of 21 Frisell toured extensively with the New Quartet. He was also involved in a 1999 collaboration with Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach, The Sweetest Punch, which was released by Universal Classics. He has been busy in recent years composing and recording music for such films as “Finding Forrester”, “Million Dollar Hotel”, “American Hollow” and “Psycho” as well as numerous stage, television and radio productions. In addition, he’s been on the road periodically with his trio featuring bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen.

In October of 21, Nonesuch released Frisell’s self-titled trio record with jazz legends Dave Holland and Elvin Jones, a reworking of a number of Frisell’s most enduring compositions along with a couple of standards. It followed the January 21 release of Blues Dream, the debut recording of Frisell’s Septet. In many ways it represented a culmination of the strands running through several of his preceding Nonesuch releases, combining the homespun lyricism of Frisell’s previous records with the expanded tonal palette and harmonic sophistication afforded by a larger group, something he has explored as far back as his first Nonesuch recording, Before We Were Born.

Frisell collaborated with visual artist Jim Woodring (album cover illustrations from Gone, Just Like a Train, and Bill Frisell with Dave Holland and Elvin Jones) on a performance piece entitled “Mysterio Simpatico.” The event, featuring Woodring’s artwork, and Frisell’s trio music with violinist Scheinman and trumpeter Ron Miles, premiered at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn in June 22.

The Willies, Frisell’s sixteenth Nonesuch recording, was released in June, 22. Featuring Frisell on electric and acoustic guitars and loops, Danny Barnes (Bad Livers) on banjo and guitar and Keith Lowe (Fiona Apple, David Sylvian, and Wayne Horvitz’s Zony Mash) on bass, the album sets out to explore Frisell’s inimitable and modern conceptions of bluegrass and country blues. The collection features eight traditional offerings including “Cluck Old Hen” and “Cold, Cold Heart” as well as eight original compositions.

Frisell’s encounters with Malian musicians like singer and guitarist Boubacar Traore and percussionist Sidiki Camara, who has played with many of Mali’s most renowned performers, have left him eager to further explore the commonalities of African and American roots musics.

The Intercontinentals is a band Bill Frisell formed in 2001 which made its performance debut at Seattle’s Earshot Jazz Festival that fall. The self-titled album The Intercontinentals features the Brazilian composer, singer, guitarist and percussionist Vinicius Cantuaria; Greek-Macedonian musician Christos Govetas on ud, bouzouki and vocals; and Mali’s Sidiki Camera on percussion and vocals, as well as subsequently added musicians Greg Leisz on pedal steel and various slide guitars and violinist Jenny Scheinman. It is an album that combines Frisell’s own brand of American roots music and his inimitable improvisational style with the influences of Brazilian, Greek and Malian sounds. Frisell, in talking about this collaboration, has said, “With this group I’ve been finding all kinds of new musical connections. It’s been a challenge and an inspiration.”

In addition to Frisell’s ongoing performance and collaborative recording activities, he was honored at London’s Barbican Theatre with “An Evening with Bill Frisell”, where he performed with The Intercontinentals, plus special guests Djelimady Tounkara, the celebrated guitarist from Mali, and Eliza Carthy, the young singer and violinist from the UK.

Frisell was also commissioned to write and record a musical response to the paintings of Gerhard Richter, to accompany a book and exhibit celebrating Richter’s acclaimed 858 series. The resulting CD-length piece includes performances by Frisell with Jenny Scheinman (violin), Eyvind Kang (viola) and Hank Roberts (cello). Frisell also accepted an invitation from Gerard Mortier to be Artistic Director of the “Century of Song” series as part of the Ruhr Trienniale Arts Festival in Germany for the 23/24 season.

Unspeakable (Nonesuch, 2004) featured Frisell’s long-time rhythm section of Tony Scherr and Kenny Wollesen, percussionist Don Alias, horn arrangements by Steven Bernstein, and Frisell’s string arrangement for the 858 strings of Jenny Scheinman, Eyvind Kang and Hank Roberts. It won a Grammy award in 2005 for Best Contemporary Jazz recording.

The double live album East/West included Frisell’s two working trios. “West” featured Bill’s trio with Viktor Krauss and Kenny Wollesen and was recorded at Yoshi’s in Oakland. “East” features Frisell’s other working trio with Tony Scherr and Kenny Wollesen. It was recorded at the Village Vanguard in New York City.

The album, Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, Paul Motian (Nonesuch), is a collaboration with two musicians whom Bill considers to be true mentors and inspirations, and represented a personal milestone for him. “To hear Paul and Ron play together was a dream come true for me. I knew they had worked together a little bit in the 6’s and was sure they would reconnect in a big way. During the sessions I was so mesmerized listening to them, most of the time I wasn’t even aware that I was playing too! I wanted the album to be live, all of us playing in a room. It was recorded quickly, with no rehearsal,”said Frisell “In high school I heard Wes Montgomery’s Bumpin’on Sunset. This was the first solo I learned to play on the guitar. The floodgates were opened and soon I was listening to Miles, Eric Dolphy, Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, Sonny Rollins, Herbie, Wayne, Tony, Sam Rivers, Freddie Hubbard, McCoy, etc. This music changed my life. Ron Carter is the thread that runs through all of it, since he played with all those guys. It’s awesome to think about.” He continued, “I first had the chance to meet and play with Ron on Joey Baron’s albums, Down Home and We’ll Soon Find Out. He then invited me to play on his album Orfeu. We’ve done some gigs with Joey’s band and also some duo gigs at the Blue Note Club in New York. He’s been so supportive of my music and me. I wrote a tune for him, “Ron Carter” on my Blues Dream album. The bass line has only two notes.

Paul Motian is my musical father. There’s no way to put into just a few words the impact he has had on me. He helped me find my musical voice. In 1968, I heard him play live for the first time with Charles Lloyd’s band. So, just as I was discovering Ron’s music I also found Paul’s with Bill Evans, Paul Bley, Lennie Tristano, etc. In 1981, Paul was looking for a guitar player and Pat Metheny recommended me. Paul called and invited me to come to his apartment and play with bassist Marc Johnson. Bill Evans had recently passed away and they were reminiscing about their time spent with him. The first song we played together that day was My Man’s Gone Now.’ We’ve been playing together ever since.”

History, Mystery (Nonesuch, 2008) featured an octet of strings, horns and rhythm section with some of his closest music collaborator: Jenny Scheinman (violin), Eyvind Kang, (viola), Hank Roberts (cello), Ron Miles (cornet), Greg Tardy (clarinet and tenor saxophone), Tony Scherr (bass), and Kenny Wollesen (drums). History, Mystery featured new Frisell compositions as well as some of his arrangements of favorite pieces by other songwriters, ranging from soul pioneer Sam Cooke to jazzmen Thelonious Monk and Lee Konitz. The original compositions on the album were born from and inspired by collaborations with visual artist and fellow Seattle resident Jim Woodring.

Album producer Townsend said, “History, Mystery explores a fuller palette of orchestral colors and timbres than for any project Bill has done before. Thematic elements recur throughout the album, furthering its symphonic sensibility.”

The Best of Bill Frisell, Vol 1: Folk Songs was the first in a series of compilations, this one drawn from Frisell’s catalog spotlighting his idiosyncratic excursions into country and traditional folk. The album features an impressive lineup: Bill Frisell, electric and acoustic guitars, loops, music boxes; Viktor Krauss, bass; Jim Keltner, drums, percussion;Danny Barnes, banjo, acoustic guitar, bass harmonica, pump organ; Keith Lowe, bass; Jerry Douglas, dobro; Greg Leisz, pedal steel, lap steel, National steel guitar, mandolin, Weissenborn; Dobro, Scheerhorn resonator guitar; Wayne Horvitz, organ, piano, samples; Ry Cooder, electric and Ripley guitar; Kermit Driscoll, bass; Joey Baron, drums; David Piltch, bass; Kenny Wollesen, drums, percussion.

The album Disfarmer was inspired by iconic photographer Mike Disfarmer. The multimedia project Disfarmer Project featured Frisell, lap steel guitar player Greg Leisz and violinist Jenny Scheinman, plus slides of Disfarmer’s photos, displayed on screens. The piece premiered on March 3,27, at the Wexner Center, on the campus of Ohio State University. The score was subsequently recorded in Seattle and Nashville, produced by Frisell’s longtime collaborator Lee Townsend and also featured Viktor Krauss on bass. Along with Frisell’s original compositions, he included versions of Arthur Crudup’s “That’s Alright Mama”and Hank Williams Sr.’s “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love with You)”.

In his liner notes, Frisell, who took a driving trip to Heber Springs to learn more about the area where Disfarmer worked, said, “Of course I was blown away when I saw his photos for the first time and started to learn a little about his life. What a fantastic story … I kept thinking about the many other unsung and misunderstood artists who never had the recognition they deserved during their own time: Vermeer, Van Gogh, Charles Ives, Henry Darger, etc. … I try to picture what went on in Disfarmer’s mind. How did he really feel about the people in this town? What was he thinking? What did he see? We’ll never know, but as I write the music, I’d like to imagine it coming from his point of view. The sound of him looking through the lens.”

After 22 years of a productive relationship with Nonesuch Records dating from the late 1980s, Frisell signed an agreement with the Savoy Label Group. His first album for the label,Beautiful Dreamers featured a trio with Eyvind Kang on viola and Rudy Royston on drums. The repertory included Frisell originals as well as interpretations of classic songs “It’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine”, “Tea for Two”, “Goin’Out of My Head”, “Keep on the Sunnyside”and a stirring rendition of Benny Goodman’s “Benny’s Bugle”.

Frisell’s second album for Savoy Jazz,Sign of Life, with his 858 Quartet featured Jenny Scheinman (violin), Eyvind Kang (viola) and Hank Roberts (cello). This time, Frisell explored chamber-group dynamics and interplay on a set of all-Frisell original material.

In 2011, Frisell pull together an ensemble consisting of Greg Leisz (guitars), Jenny Scheinman (violin), Tony Scherr (bass) and Kenny Wollesen (drums) to record his versions of the classic songs of John Lennon. A fan of the Beatles since the age of 13, Frisell was asked to put together a performance in honor of Lennon as part of a special event in Paris. The arrangements and interpretations were recorded and appear on the album titled All We Are Saying… (Savoy Jazz).

Bill Frisell and Skúli Sverrisson – Photo by Jordan Kleinman

In 2018, Frisell recorded Strata, the first ever collaboration with Icelandic bassist Skúli Sverrisson. “I almost feel like I didn’t even play on this record. Compositionally, what Skúli brought is so amazing. There wasn’t anything for me to do, everything was there already. So natural for me to fall into–so effortless. What Skúli chose to play and what he wrote–he built this structure that didn’t have anything blocking me but it was holding me up the whole time. It feels like we’ve known each other longer that we have. And it feels like the start of something,” said Frisell.

Also in 2018, Frisell appeared in Lebroba, an album from drummer Andrew Cyrille.

In 2019, Frisell released Epistrophy, a collaboration with bassist Thomas Morgan, recorded at New York City’s Village Vanguard.

Discography:

In Line (ECM, 1983)
Rambler (ECM, 1984)
Lookout for Hope (ECM, 1987)
Before We Were Born (Nonesuch, 1989)
Is That You? (Nonesuch, 199)
Where in the World? (Nonesuch, 1991)
Have a Little Faith (Nonesuch, 1992)
This Land (Nonesuch, 1994)
Go West: Music for the Films of Buster Keaton (Nonesuch, 1995)
The High Sign/One Week: Music for the Films of Buster Keaton (Nonesuch, 1995)
Live (Gramavision, 1995)
Quartet (Nonesuch, 1996)
Nashville (Nonesuch, 1997)
Gone, Just Like a Train (Nonesuch, 1998)
Good Dog, Happy Man (Nonesuch, 1999)
The Sweetest Punch, The New Songs of Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach (Decca, 1999)
Ghost Town (Nonesuch, 2000)
Blues Dream (Nonesuch, 2001)
With Dave Holland and Elvin Jones (Nonesuch, 2001)
The Willies (Nonesuch, 2002)
The Intercontinentals (Nonesuch, 2003)
Unspeakable (Nonesuch, 2004)
Richter 858 (Songlines, 2005)
East/West (Nonesuch, 2005)
Further East/Further West (Nonesuch, 25)
Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, Paul Motian (Nonesuch, 26)
Floratone (Blue Note, 2007)
History, Mystery (Nonesuch, 2008)
Disfarmer (Nonesuch, 2009)
Beautiful Dreamers (Savoy Label Group, 2010)
Lagrimas Mexicanas with Vinicius Cantuaria (E1 Music/Naive, 2011)
Sign of Life: Music for 858 Quartet (Savoy Label Group, 2011)
All We Are Saying.. Frisell Plays Lennon (Savoy Label Group, 2011)
Floratone II (Savoy Jazz, 2012)
Big Sur (Okeh, 2013)
Guitar in the Space Age! (Okeh, 2014)
When You Wish Upon a Star (Okeh, 2016)
Small Town (Okeh, 2016)
Music IS (Okeh, 2018), Strata, with Skúli Sverrisson (Nouvelle, 2018)
Lebroba, with Andrew Cyrille (ECM, 2018)
Epistrophy, with Thomas Morgan (ECM, 2019)

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Artist Profiles: Rebeca Mauleón

Rebeca Mauleón

Rebeca Mauleón was born April 16, 1962 in Santa Monica, California. Rebeca Mauleón has been at the forefront of Latin and American world music for over 25 years. A prolific pianist, composer, arranger as well as author and educator, Mauleón has performed with luminaries in the Latin, Pop and World music scenes, including Carlos Santana, Mickey Hart, Tito Puente, Steve Winwood, Israel “Cachao” Lopez, Giovanni Hidalgo, Carlos Patato Valdez, Joe Henderson and others.

Her performing and arranging credits include Tito Puente (Goza Mi Timbal), Steve Winwood (Junction 7) and Carlos Patato Valdez (Ritmo y Candela). In the 90s she recorded and toured with Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum as its Musical Director; highlights include Woodstock ’99, the Conan O’Brien show, and the Regis and Kathy Lee Show.

As a producer, Mauleón’s first solo release, Round Trip, garnered international critical acclaim, earning Top 10 status on the Latin Beat Hit Parade for seven consecutive months, including number one.

As the leader of her own ensemble, Rebeca has appeared at numerous renowned music festivals, including the Kennedy Center’s “Women in Jazz” festival in 1999, the Monterey Jazz Festival, and San Francisco and San Jose Jazz Festivals.

In 2001, she was the recipient of the prestigious Meet The Composer New Residencies Award, for a three-year residency at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Rebeca is also much in-demand as a teacher and clinician throughout the U.S. and Europe, specializing in Latin music performance and history, combining hands-on master classes with high-energy performances by her ensemble. She is the author of several texts on Latin music technique (all published through Sher Music). She has also published articles for top industry magazines including Keyboard. Grammy Gateway, Modern Drummer, Mix en Español. and Bass Player.

Rebeca is a tenured professor of Latin American Music at City College of San Francisco, a guest lecturer at U.C. Berkeley, and sits on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Jazz Festival.

Books:

The Salsa Guidebook for Piano & Ensemble
101 Montunos

Discography:

Round Trip (Bembe Records, 1999)
Latin Fire (Rumbeca Music, 2004)
Descarga en California (Universal, 2006)

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Artist Profiles: Ozan Aksoy

Ozan Aksoy

 

Multi-instrumentalist, composer, vocalist, author and ethnomusicologist Ozan Aksoy was born in Turkey and currently lives in New York. As a young boy, growing up in Turkey, he first learned to play the saz (lute) from his father, and soon established an extraordinary scope as a multi-instrumentalist. He became proficient in many of the string, woodwind, and percussive instruments of the region, including saz, oud, ney, and various drums.

Ozan acquired a passion for the music of ethnic and religious minorities in his country including the Kurds, Armenians, Laz, and Alevi, among others.

Afterwards, in college, as an early member of the critically-acclaimed ensemble Kardeş Türküler (meaning Ballads of Solidarity), Ozan and his colleagues performed the songs of these unrecognized and suppressed peoples, pushing the boundaries of inclusion in Turkey.

 

Ozan Aksoy

 

During his time with Kardeş Türküler, the group released four albums and toured extensively throughout Europe, spreading their message of diversity and acceptance.

Ozan subsequently relocated to the United States to complete a doctorate in ethnomusicology and further develop his multicultural repertoire.

In 2018 he released his long-awaited first solo album, Ozan, with lyrics in Turkish, Kurdish, and Armenian. Ozan performed most of the instruments and vocals on the album himself, although Ozan also features collaborations with acclaimed musicians, including Jeremy Brown, Ani Kalayjian, Richard Miller, and Shyam Nepali among others.

Ozan Aksoy has performed with various ensembles, including Columbia Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, CUNY Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, Ozan Aksoy Trio, Nour and Kardeş Türküler.

Discography:

With Kardeş Türküler:

Kardeş Türküler (Kalan Müzik, 1997)
Doğu – The East (Kalan Müzik, 1999)
Roj û Heyv (Kalan Müzik, 2000)
Hemâvâz (Kalan Müzik, 2002)

Solo:

Ozan (2018)

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Artist Profiles: Arturo O’Farrill

Arturo O’Farrill

Arturo O’Farrill, born June 22, 1960 in Mexico City, is the son of renowned Cuban composer Chico O’Farrill (whose works have been recorded by Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton, Dizzy Gillespie, the Machito Orchestra, and Mario Bauza).

Arturo pursued studies at the Manhattan School of Music and the Brooklyn College Conservatory, and played in the award-winning jazz band at New York’s High School of Music and Art with future luminaries Marcus Miller and Omar Hakim. He then went on to develop as a solo performer and an ensemble member on recordings and performances with a spectrum of artists: Wynton Marsalis, Dizzy Gillespie, Steve Turre, Noel Pointer, Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band. In 1987 he became musical director for Harry Belafonte. He currently directs the Chico O’Farrill’s Afro-Cuban Jazz Big Band.

Arturo O’Farrill leads the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra. the ensemble exemplifies the best that Latin jazz culture offers: rich tradition through music and timeless appeal around the world. Latin jazz is a general term given to music that combines rhythms from African and Latin American countries with jazz harmonies from the United States. Afro-Cuban Latin jazz includes salsa, merengue, songo, son, mambo, bolero, charanga and cha cha cha. Originated in the 1940s, Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Kenton began to combine the rhythm section and structure of Afro-Cuban music. Latin jazz employs straight rhythm, not swung rhythm and the conga, timbale, guiro and claves are used in this unique music.

O’Farrill also directs the band that preserves much of his father’s music, the Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra. He has performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Fort Apache Band, Carla Bley, Lester Bowie, Harry Belafonte, Freddy Cole and Wynton Marsalis. The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra became a resident orchestra at Jazz at Lincoln Center in 2002 and has toured internationally, bringing the rhythms and heat of Latin jazz to places as far away as China. Performing the very best of traditional compositions in the canon of the Afro-Latin genre, the large ensemble commissions new work and leads education events when on the road and at Frederick P. Rose Hall. Ultimately, it seeks to provide an opportunity for a new generation of composers, arrangers and instrumentalists to further explore and define the music.

Discography:

Blood Lines (Milestone, 1999)
A Night in Tunisia (32 Jazz, 2000)
Cumana (Pony Canyon, 2004)
Live in Brooklyn (Zoho, 2005)
Una Noche Inolvidable (Palmetto, 2005)
Song for Chico (Zoho, 2008)
Risa Negra (Zoho, 2009)
40 Acres and a Burro (Zoho, 2011)
The Noguchi Sessions (Zoho, 2012)
Final Night at Birdland (Zoho, 2013)
The Offense of the Drum (Motéma, 2014)
Cuba: The Conversation Continues (Motéma, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Santana

Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana was born on July 20, 1947 in Autlán de Navarro, Jalisco, Mexico. His father, José, an accomplished mariachi violinist, introduced Carlos to ‘traditional music’ at the age of five. The family moved to the border boom town of Tijuana in 1955, where Carlos seriously took up guitar, studying and emulating the sounds of B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, T. Bone Walker and other blues greats he heard on the radio.

As much as he was inspired by the early training he received from his father in traditional musical form and theory, Carlos soon realized his dream was to break free and play rock and roll. He began performing with local bands like The T.J.s, adding his own personal flair to the popular songs of the 1950s.

As he continued playing with different bands up and down the bustling ‘Tijuana Strip,’ Carlos Santana began to hone his considerable skills and invent his inimitable sound. In 1961, he moved to San Francisco, in the United States, joining his family, who had relocated there the previous year.

Destiny had most certainly brought Carlos to the right place at the right time, planting him right in the middle of the burgeoning and hugely influential San Francisco Bay Area music scene. The Bay Area in the 1960s was a melting pot of cultural, political and artistic change. In this climate, Carlos continued to evolve his unique, genre-bending style, and in 1966, he took his music to the people with the debut performance of the Santana Blues Band.

For the next two years, the group was swept up in a whirlwind of acclaim and popularity that carried them from Bill Graham’s historic Fillmore West venue to the main stage at the Woodstock ‘Peace, Love, Music’ Festival. There, on August 16, 1969, the Santana band’s Latin-flavored rock was delivered to the masses.

The world embraced Carlos Santana with passion, captivated by music that was always changing, heralded by a guitar prowess that today remains among the most distinctive. Each new release – including several platinum and gold albums – emerged as a reflection of Carlos’s personal growth and artistic evolution.

Fans also reveled in his humanitarian messages and spiritual affirmations – subtle urgings towards peace, joy, acceptance, compassion and understanding – that have been consistently communicated in a gentle, heartfelt manner at live performances around the globe.

Carlos Santana

The Santana Band achieved double-platinum status their first time out with the 1969 Columbia debut album, Santana, featuring the hit single ‘Evil Ways,’ and quadruple-platinum with Abraxas, the classic 1970 follow-up which boasted among its tracks ‘Black Magic Woman’ and the incomparable Tito Puente composition “Oye Como Va.”

A period of experimentation with fusion jazz and non-Latin world sounds began with the supern Middle Eastern flavored fusion album Caravensarai in 1972. Santana also collaborated with John McLaughlin, leader of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, one of the top jazz-rock fusion bands at the time.

A musical family reunion took place in 1994 with the album Brothers, which featured collaborations with Carlos’s sibling Jorge and nephew Carlos Hernández.

In 1995, the comprehensive Legacy boxed-set retrospective came out. This was followed in 1997 by a 2-CD collection, Live At The Fillmore, featuring performances from Santana’s historic 1968 shows.

Carlos Santana

Significant filmed repertoire include the 1988 video retrospective Viva Santana, the 1993 South American concert video Sacred Fire, and 1997’s CD-ROM A History of Santana: The River Of Color And Sound. Fox Television aired the gala special A Supernatural Evening with Santana, a celebration of the record-setting album featuring performances with Rob Thomas, Lauryn Hill, Dave Matthews and Sara McLachlan, among others. This passion also paved the way for ventures into the new musical and geographic territories, including the scoring of the feature film La Bamba, participating in 1987’s Rock ‘n Roll Summit, the first-ever joint US-Soviet rock concert and embarking on a 1988 tour with great jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter.

Carlos Santana has also contributed his talents tot he benefit of numerous charitable causes, among them Blues for Salvador, San Francisco Earthquake Relief, Tijuana Orphans, Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and education for Latin youth in association with the Hispanic Media &Education Group. He’s received numerous civic and humanitarian commendations over the years. In 1998, Carlos Santana and his wife Deborah started the Milagro Foundation.Its mission is to help underprivileged youths.

On Thursday, June 5, 2003, Carlos Santana pledged the profits of his 2003 Shaman tour to fight AIDS. The 23-show Shaman tour was estimated to bring in between 2.5 and 3 million dollars to the cause.

Discography:

Solo albums and collaborations:

Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles! Live! (Columbia, 1972)
Love Devotion Surrender, with Mahavishnu John McLaughlin (Columbia, 1973)
Illuminations, with Turiya Alice Coltrane (Columbia, 1974)
Oneness (Silver Dreams-Golden Reality) (Columbia, 1979)
The Swing Of Delight (Columbia, 1980)
Havana Moon (Columbia, 1983)
Blues For Salvador (Columbia, 1987)
Divine Light (Columbia, 2001)
Live At The 1988 Montreux Jazz Festival, with Wayne Shorter Band (Liberation Entertainment, 2005)
The Essential Santana ‎(Sony Records, 2009)
Illumination Live At Montreux 2011, with John McLaughlin (Eagle Records, 2013)

Santana band:

Santana (Columbia Records, 1969)
Abraxas (Columbia Records, 1970)
Santana III (Columbia Records, 1971
Caravanserai (Columbia Records, 1972)
Welcome (Columbia Records, 1973)
Lotus (Columbia Records, 1974)
Borboletta (Columbia Records, 1974)
Amigos (Columbia Records, 1976)
Festival (Columbia Records, 1976)
Moonflower, (Columbia Records, 1977)
Inner Secrets (Columbia Records, 1978)
Marathon (Columbia Records, 1979)
Zebop! (Columbia Records, 1981)
Shangó (Columbia Records, 1982)
Beyond Appearances(Columbia records, 1985)
Freedom (Columbia Records, 1987)
Spirits Dancing In The Flesh (CBS, 1990)
Milagro (PolyGram, 1992)
Sacred Fire: Santana Live In South America (Polydor, 1993)
Live At The Fillmore 1968 (Columbia Records, 1997)
Supernatural (Arista, 1999)
Shaman (Arista, 2002)
All That I Am (Arista, 2005)
The Woodstock Experience (Sony BMG, 2009)
Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time (Arista, 2010)
Shape Shifter (Sony Music, 2012)
Corazón: Live From México – Live It To Believe It (Sony Music Latin, 2014)
Corazón (Sony BMG, 2014)
Santana IV (Santana IV Records, 2016)
Santana IV Live At The House Of Blues Las Vegas (Eagle Rock, 2016)
Power Of Peace, with The Isley Brothers (Legacy, 2017)

DVDs

Supernatural Live – An Evening with Carlos Santana and Friends (2002)
Santana – Live by Request (Arista, 2005)

Books

Jam with Carlos Santana with CD with CD (Audio). Publisher: Warner Brothers Publications (2000). ISBN: 1843285371
Santana Easy Guitar Anthology. Publisher: Alfred Publishing Company (2001). ISBN: 0757902200
In Session with Carlos Santana. Warner Bros Pubns; Book & CD edition (1999). ISBN: 1859096220
Carlos Santana: Back on Top by Marc Shapiro. Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (2002).ISBN: 0312288522
Soul Sacrifice by Simon Leng. Publisher: Firefly Publishing (2000). ISBN: 0946719292

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