Mehmet Polat and Embracing Colours – Quantum Leap (Aftab Records, 2019)
Ud virtuoso and composer Mehmet Polat presents a new band
and direction on his latest album, Quantum Leap. The Embracing Colours ensemble
represents a jazzier side of his modal compositions. Although Polat spent
recent years inspired by the fertile musical traditions of the Middle East,
Africa, India, Europe and the Balkans, this new venture explores focuses on
Mehmet Polat describes the musicians in his new band: “Joan Terol Amigo is a genius on drums, Hendrik Muller is a master of grooves on bass and Bart Lelivelt is a brilliant accordion player. The ud is a traditional instrument played in all Arabic countries, West Asia and Eastern Europe, and can be a great connector of cultures.”
Throughout Quantum Leap, the masterful ud dances around the admirable accordion and bass, interweaving tasteful jazz, Balkan, Anatolian and Flamenco elements.
Embracing Colours includes Mehmet Polat on ud, Joan Terol
Amigo on drums, Hendrik Muller on bass and Bart Lelivelt on accordion.
Guest musicians: Cigdem Okuyucu on vocals (track 4), Eric Vloeimans on trumpet; Imamyar Hasanov on kamancha; and and Michalis Kouloumis on violin.
Kayhan Kalhor, Rembrandt Frerichs, Tony Overwater and Vinsent Planjer – It’s Still Autumn (Kepera Records/Challenge Records International, 2019)
Somewhere in the throes of baking in the last of the summer heat thoughts of autumn arise. The lure of the pungency of dries leaves, that crystalline light that belongs to those first crisp mornings and the warm glow of that last blast before the dark of winter takes hold might just seem like property of experience or childhood memory, but what if you could capture autumn in music? What would be the soundtrack to autumn? Lucky for you I think I’ve got just the right soundtrack for you autumn listening.
The Challenge Records International release of It’s Still Autumn is the quintessential soundtrack for your autumn lolling and reflection. And, let me caution here that once you open yourself to this glorious collection of tracks it is all about the music so it’s best to sit, listen and take the ride.
Interestingly enough our autumn pleasure soundscape is the result of a collaboration between the Iranian kamanche player Kayhan Kalhor and the Dutch jazz group The Rembrandt Frerichs Trio. Music fans might know musician and composer Mr. Kalhor ‘s work with Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and recordings such as The Rain with Ghazal, The Wind and Hawniyaz. The equally impressive music pedigree of musician and composer Rembrandt Frerichs has recordings such as Ordem E Progesso Vol. 1 & 2, Levantasy with Yoram Lachish, Tony Overwater and Vinsent Planjer and The Contemporary to his credit. Musician and composer Tony Overwater’s discography includes Changes in Time, Ellington Suites with the Tony Overwater Trio with Calefax and Jungleboldie with the Tony Overwater Trio. Musician and composer Vinsent Planjer has appeared on Levantasy, Continental and A Long Story Short recordings.
With Mr. Kalhor on kamanche, Mr. Frerichs on fortepiano and harmonium, Mr. Overwater on violone and double bass and Mr. Planjer on his own crafted percussion setup called the whisper kit, It’s Still Autumn lays down a soundscape so finely crafted that if you were to close your eyes listening your mind’s eye would catch the swirl of dried leaves or the dawning light catching the dew. It’s Still Autumn is where everything is in its proper place, where curlicues of Iranian kamanche rise on the winds of fortepiano against the thrum of double bass and polished off by the tang of percussion or the tinkling of bells. It is neither wholly jazz or wholly world music – it’s the best combination it is that out-of-time, other-worldly soundscape fueled by its own goodness.
Divided into two sections of Dawn and Dusk, It’s Still Autumn is cleverly crafted where one track simply flows into another, so the opening “Dawn-Introduction” with fortepiano, violone and cascade of wind chime bells sets up the anticipation of the full light with kamanche before flowing neatly into “Dew Drops” which in turn leaps headlong into the spectacular that is the bright and joyful “Kayhan’s Chahar” with some pretty stunning double bass, fortepiano and kamanche goodness. And, that’s only three tracks in. There’s the serene sorrow of the kamanche on “Still” and the elegantly smooth “Offering.”
If the music hasn’t hooked you by this point seek professional help, but first you should check out the second section of It’s Still Autumn entitle Dusk. The eerie musical threads on the opening of Dusk’s “Introduction” snare the listener before the track slowly unfurls into a reflective mood awaiting the gloaming by way of achingly lovely kamanche lines before evolving into the melancholic mood of “Autumn” led by kamanche and laced by double bass and fortepiano. “Autumn Winds” is perhaps the most strongly jazz flavored and boasts some truly delicious double bass, fortepiano and percussion work as the track takes wild flight on the autumn winds. Closing track “Long Story Short” is simply masterful in its musicianship as it reaches out and snatches colored leaves from the wind and conjures up the very edges of light before it slips into the dark.
It’s Still Autumn is the mosaic of leaves under foot, that tang of wood smoke in the air and the golden moments of last warm light before winter. Yeah, it’s that good.
Israeli multi-instrumentalist and composer Itamar Erez is currently based in Canada. On his new album Mi Alegria, Erez put together an ensemble with some of the finest jazz and world music artists in Vancouver.
Mi Alegria (my joy in Spanish) combines exquisitely-crafted contemporary
jazz intertwined with Brazilian, Flamenco, Middle Eastern and various additional
global music influences.
Although the guitar is Itamar’s primary musical instrument, he plays the piano as well. Throughout Mi Alegria, Erez engages in captivating, spirited guitar and piano interplay with the clarinet, percussion and a diverse set of other instruments.
“I’ve been playing and composing on the piano for years, but this album is the first to feature my piano playing so prominently,” Erez clarifies, “It’s an interesting process to write on piano and shift to guitar, or vice versa. You need to find creative solutions to solve difficulties.”
The band on Mi Alegria includes Itamar Erez on guitar and piano; Francois Houle on clarinet; Hamin Honari on percussion; James Meger on bass; Kevin Romain on drums; Ilan Salem on flute; Dani Benedikt on percussion; and Celso Machado on percussion.
Mi Alegria is dedicated to Itamar’s daughter, Mia.
Brazilian guitarist and composer Ricardo Peixoto collaborates with American and Brazilian jazz and classical musicians Scary Beautiful. Although a lot of the Brazilian jazz made in the United States is smooth bossa nova, Peixoto’s music goes in a totally different direction, incorporating various other Brazilian rhythms and tonalities.
Scary Beautiful is masterfully arranged and features stellar performances by Peixoto, flutist Bob Afifi, pianist Marco Silva and a robust rhythm section.
Ricardo Peixoto Peixoto’s compositions include ensemble pieces with fascinating guitar and flute interplay, rich string and brass ensemble orchestrations and an exquisite piano and guitar duet.
The lineup includes Ricardo Peixoto on guitars; Paul McCandless on soprano saxophone; Ken Cook on piano; Cliff Hugo on bass; Kendrick Freeman on drums; Brian Rice on percussion; Bob Afifi on flute; Paul Hanson on bassoon; Marcos Silva on piano; Scott Thompson, bass; John Santos on percussion; Kendrick Freeman on percussion; Aaron Germain on bass; Rafael Barata on drums; Bernardo Bessler on violin; Priscila Plata Rato on violin; Marie Christine Bessler on viola; Marcus Ribeiro de Oliveira on cello; Claudia Villela on vocals; Rob Reich on accordion; Jessé Sadoc on flugelhorn; Marcelo Martins on tenor saxophone; Aldivas Ayres on trombone; Mike Shapiro on drums; Luiz Brasil on tenor guitar, percussion; Ricardo Guerra on percussion; Harvey Wainapel on clarinets; and Kyle Bruckman on oboe.
Scary Beautiful is an impeccable example of Brazilian guitar craftsmanship.
Cameroonian singer-songwriter Moken delivers a genre-defying
album where virtuosic jazz meets Afro-roots, American folk, lively Afropop and
The signature sound of Moken is his inventive vocals; he uses unexpected, quirky vocal modulations, shifting his pitch throughout a song, similar to the work of Portuguese-Cape Verdean singer Carmen Souza.
“This is a feelings album. Whatever felt right, we kept it,” reveals Moken. “This album has given me the musical wings I always wanted, the wings to fly and create.”
Chick Corea with The Spanish Heart Band – Antidote (Concord Jazz, 2019)
Every once in a while you come across a recording that completely stuns you, one of those where melodies and rhythms leak out, sprawl lazily across the skin and sink deep leaving you utterly spellbound and unable to anything but listen. That best sums up Antidote, out on the Concord Jazz label, by the estimable pianist, keyboardist and composer Chick Corea along with his brand new band The Spanish Heart Band. With compositions that are smart and sophisticated, a collection of musicians that make each track sizzle and all under the guiding hand of Chick Corea, Antidote is deliciously ferocious, sleekly sublime and savagely cool.
Revisiting the Spanish, Latin and flamenco influences from his own past and previous recordings such as My Spanish Heart and Touchstone, Mr. Corea assembles a dream team of musicians to realize with work on Antidote. With Flamenco guitarist Niño Josele and fellow Spaniard saxophonist and flutist Jorge Pardo, along with Cuban bassist Carlitos Del Puerto and Venezuelan percussionist Luisito Quintero, as well as drummer Marcus Gilmore, trombonist Steve Davis, trumpeter Michael Rodriquez and dancer Niño de los Reyes at his back, Mr. Corea let’s fly with his signature piano and keyboard lines in an extravaganza of Spanish tinged, Afro-Cuban goodness.
Mr Corea explains, “My genetics are Italian, but my heart is Spanish. I grew up with that music. This new band is a mix of all the wonderful and various aspects of my love and lifetime experience with these rhythms that have been such a big part of my musical heritage.”
Each track of Antidote is a bit like a turn of a kaleidoscope where all the pretty shapes and sparkly bits get rearranged into something even more spectacular. Opening and title track “Antidote” is a wildly wonderful hybrid of Latin jazz, Afro-Cuban strains and Spanish influences, made more so by vocals by Ruben Blades. Chocked full of drama set up by brass, percussion, guitar, flute, palmas and keyboards, “Antidote” is one of those tracks where every note is where it’s supposed to be and everything is right with the world and you just don’t want it to end.
Following up with the
sweetly jazzy “Duende,” Mr. Corea and company settle into a fiercely cool groove
before Antidote turns stunning with companion tracks “The Yellow Nimbus – Part
1” and “The Yellow Nimbus – Part 2.” These two tracks, colored heavily by
flamenco flashes that include a flamenco dancer, finger snaps and palmas, are
simply spectacularly drawn by way flamenco guitar, brass, percussion and piano.
They are intense, dramatic and extravagantly played out before turning sleekly
Spanish jazzy on Part 2.
And the goodness just keeps going with tracks like the easy sweetness of “My Spanish Heart,” again with Ruben Blades providing vocals. “Armando’s Rhumba” is a delicious Latin jazz cocktail of trombone, trumpet, guitar, bass and percussion against Mr. Corea’s piano lines. “Desafinado” dazzles with vocals by Maria Blanca in this plushy jazzy track.
Mr. Corea turns his sights on “Zyryab,” the Paco de Lucia, Joan Albert Amargos and Ramon de Algeciras composition. This track is loaded with goodies like Mr. Pardo on flute, Mr. Josele on guitar and Mr. Del Puerto on bass all backed by Mr. Corea on piano. Listeners get a sweet little listen to Igor Stravinsky by way of Mr. Corea’s lovely piano work on “Pas de Deux” before Antidote closes the recording with the easy, breezy flash of “Admiration” with a closing percussion and flamenco dance section.
American world jazz ensemble Atlas Maior presents a set of
saxophone-dominated musical pieces inspired by Middle Eastern modes, American
jazz and Latin American rhythms. The band’s overall style revolves around the
sounds of Joshua Thomson’s alto saxophone and the ud (Arabic lute), supported by
bass and drums.
“Our 5th studio release Riptide is the culmination of many creative ideas that have come to fruition,” says saxophonist Joshua Thomson. “This is the band’s most polished album and it’s informed by our experiences working together, and the struggles and achievements we’ve experienced as people. There’s a lot of depth, emotion, and expression within the songs on Riptide. Themes of loss, gain, resilience, and perseverance are all in there.”
Atlas Maior’s members include Joshua Thomson on alto
saxophone; Charlie Lockwood on ud; Josh
Peters on oud; and Ted Camat on drums, percussion. The album includes various
guests: Robert Riggio on violin; Gary Calhoun James on double bass; Tarik
Hassan on double bass; and Palestinian ud player Sari Andoni.
Anouar Brahem was born in 1957 in Halfawine in the Medina of Tunis. Encouraged by his father, an engraver and printer, and music lover as well, Brahem began his studies of the ud (Arab lute), at the age of 10 at the Tunis National Conservatory of Music, where his principal teacher was the ud master Ali Sriti.
An exceptional student, by the age of 15 Brahem was playing regularly with local orchestras. At 18, he decided to devote himself entirely to music. From 1981 to 1985, Brahem lived and studied in Paris, seeking out points of congruence with other cultures. He was, nonetheless, first heard on disc with an all-Tunisian trio on Barzakh (ECM 1432) in 1991. This was followed by the collaboration with Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek and the late Pakistani tabla master Shaukat Hussain on Madar (ECM 1515) and by an album reworking, with an international cast, music Brahem had written for the Tunisian cinema.
In 1985, he returned to Tunis and an invitation to perform at the Carthage festival provided him with the opportunity of bringing together, for “Liqua 85”, outstanding figures of Tunisian and Turkish music and French jazz. These included Abdelwaheb Berbech, the Erköse [Barbaros Erkose] brothers, François Jeanneau, Jean-Paul Celea, François Couturier and others. The success of the project earned Brahem Tunisia’s Grand National Prize for Music.
In 1987, he became the director of the Musical Ensemble of the City of Tunis. Instead of keeping the large existing orchestra, he broke it up into variable size ensembles, giving it new orientations: one year in the direction of new creations and the next more towards traditional music.
On the recording of Khomsa, his partners were Tunisian violinist Bechir Selmi, Swedish bassist Palle Danielsson, Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, and three musicians from France – accordionist Richard Galliano, keyboardist Frangois Couturier, and saxophonist Jean Marc Larche. Although Dave Holland and John Surman both contributed compositional material to Thimar, Brahem’s following album,most of the writing stems from Brahem’s pen.
Two of the pieces were written originally for the Musical Ensemble of Tunis, two more for the Tunisian Theatre, and one originated as a sketch for the Khomsa ensemble. The majority of the music, however, was prepared specifically for the Thimar session. Dave Holland: “I hadn’t known what to expect. Anouar gave us a pile of music the day before the session. There were no bar lines – and of course there were no chords, because that’s not a reference point in this music. But there were these complex melodies, and one phrase might have seven beats in it, and another phrase nine. And when John and I started to play this, at first we were stumbling all over ourselves. But we persevered, put some pencil marks on the music, talked about how to approach the structures… At the session, things started to fall into place, as they so often do. The moment impresses itself upon you, and you rise to the occasion. Bringing these traditions together is by no means simple, and I think what we ended up with is music that has real value.”
As was the case with Kenny Wheeler’s Angel Song, the drummerless music of Thimar places special responsibilities on Dave Holland to shoulder most of the rhythm duties. The demands seem to bring forth some of his finest playing. “With John and Anouar, although my main function was to be accompanist and rhythm player, I felt I was getting support from both of them because of their ability to maintain a sense of rhythm independently…” Holland was invited into the session after producer Manfred Eicher played Brahem Angel Song. Brahem: “I listened to that album following the bass. It’s like the heartbeat of the music. And Dave’s sound is so beautiful. Powerful, but rounded, not at all aggressive or harsh.” The ud player first became aware of John Surman’s music with the release of the solo album Road To St. Ives in 1990. “This extraordinary sense of melody that John has. ..I liked that so much. It touched me very deeply. Since then, I’ve listened to everything he’s done.”
In 1994, Surman and Brahem toured Japan together but separately, playing opposite each other in concerts to mark ECM’s 25th anniversary. “We got to know each other and got along well and talked then about making a record one day. His playing on all his instruments is exceptional, but I especially like the blending of the bass clarinet and the ud. The wood in the sound makes it a very satisfying combination, I think. “I was really impressed with the engagement of both Dave and John in the making of this album. Collaborations of this kind can be quite…dangerous. Sometimes musicians of different cultures meet only superficially. But they were both concerned to get to the essence of the music.”
In 1995, Brahem released Khomsa, featuring Richard Galliano, Bechir Selmi and François Couturier. This was followed by 1998’s Thimar with John Surman and Dave Holland.
The Astrakan Café album came out in 2000 as Anouar Brahem Trio with Barbaros Erköse and Lassad Hosni.
In 2002, Brahem released Le Pas du Chat Noir, recorded with François Couturier and Jean-Louis Matinier, followed by
2006’s Le Voyage de Sahar withe the ame lineup.
In 2009, The Astounding Eyes of Rita came out. Lineup: Klaus Gesing, Björn Meyer and Khaled Yassine.
Souvenance was released in 2014, recorded with Francois Couturier, Klaus Gesing and Björn Meyer.
Anouar Brahem released Blue Maqamns in 2017 with Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland and Django Bates.
Chaplin’s Secret is the new album by German jazz singer and book author Dotschy Reinhardt. As her last name indicates, Dotschy is part of the same extended Reinhardt family that also included legendary Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.
Dotschy Reinhardt is a Sinti, a group of formerly nomadic Central European people also known as gypsies. Although she is a jazz singer who sings primarily in English, she celebrates her heritage with a song in Romani, the language of many of the Sinti and Roma. She also sings in Portuguese.
Chaplin’s Secret includes swinging gypsy jazz, American-style jazz, and bossa nova accompanied by a fabulous band of extraordinary, versatile instrumentalists.
The title of the album makes reference to famed actor and comedian Charlie Chaplin. In 1991 Charlie Chaplin’s daughter, Victoria found a letter that her father had kept in his bedside drawer. The author of the letter, Jack Hill, informed the actor about his genuine birthplace, which was not London, as Chaplin stated in his autobiography, but Black Patch in Smethwick. At the time of Chaplin’s birth, Black Patch was a large tree-lined meadow on which Gypsy (Roma) people and entertainers camped with their caravans. It is said that he was born in 1889 as the son of an artist who had toured through England with her father’s circus, finally ending up in London.
The lineup on Chaplin’s Secret includes Roberto Badoglio on E-Bass; Max Hartmann on double bass; Alexey Krupksky on guitar; Dotschy Reinhardt on vocals; Christian von der Goltz on piano; Alexey Wagner on guitar; and Daniel Weltinger on violin. Guest musician: Nir Sabag.
Saxophonist, flutist and composer Javier Paxariño is considered one of the greatest representatives of world music in Spain. His music is characterized by mixing aspects of the three cultures that have called the Iberian Peninsula: Christian, Muslim, and Jewish, but with a view always looking south: to the Mediterranean. Founder of Radio Tarifa, he has collaborated with musicians such as Joaquín Sabina, Aute, Miguel Ríos, Víctor Manuel, Ana Belén and Luis Pastor. He has participated in film soundtracks such as Vacas, La Ardilla Roja, Una casa en las Afueras and Los amantes del Círculo Polar.
He was born in the city of Granada in 1953. He later moved to Málaga, where he studied at the Superior Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Maestro Perfecto Artola. He started his musical activity with Jazz and Rock bands in the 1970s and founded the Onice Jazz Quartet at the end of that decade, which had a great local impact, although they did not record. At that time he also began experimenting with ethnic flutes to introduce himself to his music.
By 1980 he was living in Madrid and played at the iconic Whiskey & Jazz Club. He also played occasionally at La Cova del Drac in Barcelona. At the same time he continued his musical training and attended music seminars, like the one Thad Jones directed in Bañoles (Gerona).
He worked as a teacher at the Taller de Músicos de Madrid and played as a session musician in various groups. He collaborated in recordings of different musicians (Kevin Ayers, Joan Bibiioni, Gerardo Núñez, Miguel Ríos, Joaquín Sabina, L. Aute, Víctor Manuel and Ana Belén, Pablo Guerrero, Luis Pastor, etc). Parallel to this formed Javier Paxariño Group in which he played only his own compositions and in 1988 he recorded his first album “Espacio Interior ?, with very good reception by specialized critics, presenting it at the Jazz Festival of Madrid with the Oregon group. This disc was also published in Mexico with a good impact.
He collaborated in the recording of the documentary series Indico for Televisión Española, with the composer Alberto Iglesias for film soundtracks like Vacas (awarded in Japan), La Ardilla Roja (Winner of the Goya Award), Una casa en las Afueras, as well as how the music of the work Tabulae for the choreography of Nacho Duato in the Compañía Nacional de Danza.
In 1992 he recorded Pangea, a work that involved a musical journey through different continents and that projected him on a national level, presenting it with great success at the Festival of New Music of Madrid, in which they took part: Michael Nyman, Wim Mertens, Balanescu Quartet and John Cale.
He composed with Eduardo Laguillo the original music of the work of F. García Lorca, La Zapatera Prodigiosa for the Teatro de la Danza de Madrid.
He participated in the first recording Rumba Argelina and in the formation of the multiracial group Radio Tarifa, with which he played in Europe until the end of 1994. In that same year he recorded his third album, Temurá, based on the great cultures that existed in Spain (Jewish , Christian and Muslim), in which the percussionist Glen Velez intervened. The disc was distributed in Europe, the United States and Japan, opening good expectations. The group was selected as representative of the New Spanish Music in Pop Kom in Germany. In 1995 the General Society of Authors and Publishers (S.G.A.E.) commissioned a composition to be included in the commemorative CD ROM of the Spanish Presidency of the European Community; He was a member of the jury of the S.G.A.E Awards for the best jazz compositions.
In 1996 he recorded his new album titled Perlhellón. Inspired by Mediterranean music and from sub-Saharan Africa. It was presented in Madrid with a strong public and critical success. At the same time he recorded music for Television and gives concerts with his group.
In 1997 he began a concert tour in the network of National Theaters, Festivals of Navarra, VIII Encontros Musicais da Tradicao Europea in Portugal, etc. He also participated as a guest artist in the recording made by John Cunninghan and has among other guests musicians such as Luis Delgado, Kepa Junkera, Amancio Prada, Manuel Luna and percussionists of the Radio Tarifa group.
In 1998, he took part in the VIII Festival of New Music of León and later in the Interceltic Festival that takes place in Oporto as guest artist with the group La Musgaña. Parallel to this he collaborated in the new record projects of L. Eduardo Aute, Jorge Drexler, Luis Pastor, Tomás San Miguel and was also part of the project? Hispanic Tribes? by Eliseo Parra with J.A. Arteche, the latter was awarded as the best record of the year by the Villa de Madrid and is considered by the specialized critic a fundamental work in the new folklore for his original interpretation of traditional music.
He recorded with the pianist Chano Dominguez and Hozán Yamamoto (master of the Shakuhachi flute), a disc of encounter between Flamenco, traditional Japanese music and New Music, which is also published in Japan.
In September of 2002, he released Ouroboros.
Around 2014, Javier Paxariño formed the Javier Paxariño Trio along with Josete Ordoñez on guitar and Manu de Lucena on drums. The trio incorporated Gnawa music and Ajechao rhythms from Extremadura.
Espácio Interior (Grabaciones Accidentales, 1988) Pangea (Música Sin-Fin, 1992) Temura (Nuba Records, 1994) Perihelion (Nuba Records, 1996) Tribus Hispanas (Música Sin-Fin, 1998) Ouroboros (52 P.M., 2002) Dagas De Fuego Sobre El Laberinto (Icarus, 2014)
Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music including folk, roots and various types of global fusion