Friday, August 31, 2018

USA: Mike Steinel Quintet -Song And Dance (OA2 2018)

Song And Dance

Renowned trumpeter, composer, educator, and author, Mike Steinel, partners with vocalist Rosana Eckert to showcase a wide-ranging collection of original music and songs. Though a composer of dozens of essential big band charts over the last 4 decades, Steinel opted for a quintet setting to frame his recent inspiration to write lyrics. From Irving Berlin-inspired ballads to soaring, through-composed romps, featuring intricate trumpet with wordless vocal melodies, Steinel's desire to blur stylistic boundaries and celebrate broader interests shines through. Reconfirming that music gains power when reduced to its essential elements during recent time spent with young musicians in South Africa and Haiti, Steinel's bandmates, and fellow University of North Texas professors - Eckert, Pat Coil, Steve Barnes and Carl Hillman - create a joyous musical collection, with lyrics ranging from the humorous to the poignant and back again.

USA: Joshua Breakstone - Children Of Art (Capri 2018)

Children Of Art
Joshua Breakstone's latest recording, Children of Art is a tribute to Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and is made up of compositions written by members of that hallowed band. Hundreds of great young musicians were a part of this group over the 60 year tenure of the band, all with youthful energy and enthusiasm under Blakey's mentorship. The compositions Breakstone selected were written and recorded by the musicians while they were with the band. They include Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver, Hank Mobley, Benny Golson, Cedar Walton and Walter Davis Jr. The title track is an original composition by Breakstone.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

USA: "Redemption" arrives for urban-jazz saxophonist Sam Rucker

Contact: Rick Scott 310.306.0375

“Redemption” arrives for urban-jazz saxophonist Sam Rucker

The “True Love” video premieres at SoulTracks; an instore performance to celebrate Friday’s album release is set for Saturday.

WILLIAMSBURG (24 August 2018): The freedom of jazz, the swagger of hip hop, the faith of gospel and heart-on-your-sleeve soul inspire saxophonist Sam Rucker’s “Redemption,” his third album that drops Friday from Favor Productions. An engaging mix of triumphant light and somber vibes, the release day is bitter sweet for Rucker who endured the untimely deaths of two of the record’s guitarists, including his nephew (Justin Taylor), three days apart during the recording process. As a spiritually-rooted man, he soldiers on knowing that the disc is being well received and will be feted during an instore performance on Saturday in Virginia Beach.      

Rucker previewed “Redemption” at radio with the first single, “True Love,” lensing a video for the downtempo groove rendered by an almighty tenor sax that premiered on the SoulTracks site. His resonant messages on the collection of original songs that he wrote and produced stir reflection, uplift, and proffer hope and perseverance. 

“Redemption” is the next step in Rucker’s evolution from hip hop producer to urban-jazz artist. The album’s “Overcomer” is an intimate cut on which his soprano sax is buttressed by the dual guitar combo of Taylor and John Calisto. Written to comfort and encourage others to overcome rough circumstances, it provided him solace when both men passed. Rucker’s music acknowledges and confronts pain and tumult head on, seeing such challenges as Divine will, never allowing difficulties to overshadow his appreciation for compassion, forgiveness and his many blessings. 

On Saturday at 12:30pm, Rucker will appear at the Virginia Beach landmark record store Birdland Music where he will perform a short set of music from “Redemption” and sign CDs.  

Below is a sampling of the initial album reviews:

Rucker has a unique musical recipe that is not just heard, but felt. This former hip-hop producer has developed a sound that is leaving a unique fingerprint on modern jazz…Reflective of its title and the individual themes driving its soulful, engaging tracks, Sam Rucker’s emotionally compelling third album Redemption is powered by a deep spiritual vision of true soul survival…An album chock full of bright melodies and tight grooves.” – Exclusive Magazine

Interspersed with a deep spiritual vision of the survival of the soul…listen to this album and experience your salvation!” – Keys & Chords

There’s lots here to sink your teeth into as this is music that touches the heart as well as the ears.” – Midwest Record

“A tight ten-track collection that he produces writes or co-writes throughout and which promises to be one of the urban jazz events of 2018…the first single to be serviced to radio is ‘True Love’; a sensually steamy mid-tempo tune where Rucker's fat tenor sax sound combines with sultry nylon guitar from John Calisto to really pack a punch.” - Smooth Jazz Therapy

“The suave saxman offers his third album Redemption with his own form of greased lightning and charm…This album is chock full of c-jazz goodness and laced with the faith and spirituality that Rucker has kept near and dear to his heart and very being. Grab this one and let its pure satisfaction wash over you.” – The Smooth Jazz Ride

Excellent third album by a saxophonist that is already counted among our favorite musicians.” – No Solo Smooth Jazz

“We’re particularly digging the first single from the new album. ‘True Love’ is a breezy midtempo song that features a choral chant that embodies the true message: ‘Take one look, and you will see, what true love has done for me, take one look and you will see, what true love has done in me.’” - SoulTracks

For more information, please visit

BRAZIL: Luciana Souza-The Book Of Longing(2018)

The Book Of Longing

2018 release from the Brazilian jazz vocalist. On the liner notes of this release, Luciana Souza says that making music with Chico Pinheiro and Scott Colley is a thing of wonder. And she means that in the sense of what is mysterious, miraculous, and beautiful about making music and lifting poetry from the page.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

CANADA: Montreal-Based Pianist Andrés Vial to Release "Sphereology Volume One," Sept. 28

Montreal-Based Pianist Andrés Vial
Launches Series of Recordings
Exploring Thelonious Monk's Music With
"Sphereology Volume One,"
To Be Released Sept. 28 By
Chromatic Audio Records
Guitarist & Fellow Monk Interpreter Peter Bernstein
Joins Vial in Front Line of Quartet Outing
With Two Different Rhythm Sections
August 24, 2018
Andres Vial Sphereology Volume OnePianist Andrés Vial (pronounced Vee-al) launches a series of recordings offering new perspectives on the oeuvre of Thelonious Sphere Monk with the September 28 release of Sphereology Volume One on Chromatic Audio Records.
It's a project the Montreal native has been working on since 2005, when he organized an annual Thelonious Monk Festival in Montreal. "My band played four nights of Monk's music there," says Vial. "I transcribed about 50 of his tunes for those gigs, and the festival ran for four years."
Sharing the front line with Vial on the new album, his fourth, is guitarist Peter Bernstein, who released his own critically acclaimed disc celebrating Monk in 2008. Vial also employs two different rhythm sections: Bassist Dezron Douglas and drummer Rodney Green, mainstays of the New York jazz scene, appear on the first six tracks of the album, which was recorded in the fall of 2017, on the eve of the Monk Centennial. Bassist Martin Heslop and drummer André White, who have been Vial's Montreal rhythm section since Monk Fest, appear on the last three tracks of the album.
"I consider Peter one of the leading interpreters of Monk's music today," Vial says. "He's one of the rare people who if we're on a gig together, I can call a bunch of practically esoteric Monk tunes and he'll know them. Even though Monk is a hugely important part of the jazz canon, musicians usually only play about a dozen of his tunes. There are another 60 tunes that are very infrequently performed."
Andres Vial at NYC session. Andres Vial Montreal session
At left, the New York session: Peter Bernstein, Dezron Douglas, Andrés Vial, Rodney Green.  
At right, the Montreal session: André White and Martin Heslop with Vial and Bernstein.
Sphereology introduces listeners to more obscure, rarely recorded pieces over familiar ones. The opening track, "Bluehawk," is a blues Monk only recorded once as a solo. In one of the few instances on the album where a song's groove has been changed from the original, Green uses the infectious New Orleans Second Line rhythm made famous by drummer Vernel Fournier on Ahmad Jamal's "Poinciana."   
"I had a few simple arrangement ideas," Vial adds, "but I wasn't really interested in going into the studio with 10-page-long charts and lots of reharmonizations. I wanted to keep it loose and just dive in. The musical interaction that happens within the tunes is the important part."
The other nine tunes include "Coming on the Hudson," with its unique 18½-bar form and unusual chord progression, and -- perhaps the most recognizable piece on the album -- "Think of One," which is re-contextualized with an Afro 6/8 groove, shifting to swing on the bridge and the piano solo. "Ask Me Now" is a duo performance by Vial and Bernstein, and the little-known "Introspection" (composed in 1947) is the oldest Monk song on the album.
Andres VialBorn in 1979 in Montreal, Andrés Vial recalls sitting at the piano improvising songs as a child. He began taking lessons but wasn't interested in learning to sight-read. "I would listen to my teacher play the piece," he recalls, "and then basically learn it by ear instead of off the page." He also learned from the classical, Latin, and pop records he heard around the house.  
When Vial was 11, his mother came home with a copy of John Coltrane's Blue Train. "I was just floored," he says. "That was the record that really changed the course of my life, and I was obsessed with it for years to come." He joined his middle school and high school jazz bands and also began playing drums and vibraphone.  
Andres VialVial studied jazz drums and classical percussion at Montreal's Vanier College before transferring to the New School in New York, earning a degree in jazz piano and studying with Bill CharlapHal GalperJoe Chambers, and Buster Williams. Returning to Montreal, he immediately became active on the jazz scene as well as joining the Kalmunity Vibe Collective, a grassroots group of musicians from all over the world working within black musical forms. Through the collective, he met singer Malika Tirolien (Snarky Puppy, Bokanté) and joined her band (she appeared on his debut recording, 2007's Trio/Septet).
Vial's three previous albums -- also including The Infinite Field (2011) and conception/oblivion (2015) -- reveal that he is not afraid to take risks. His fidelity to Monk's vision springs not from a lack of boldness, but from a recognition that it needs no elaboration.  
"Monk tunes are already perfect," says the pianist. "It's impossible to separate the melody from the rhythmic concept and chord voicings in each composition. Of course, you don't only want to play Monk voicings the whole time; you have to find your own way to play the tune.
"I see it as a two-step process. One, go as deeply as you can into Monk's music, and two, figure out what you're going to do to bring your own voice to it. That's what the Sphereologyproject is really about."  
Andrés Vial Plays Thelonious Monk: Sphereology Volume One 
Andrés Vial Plays Thelonious Monk:
Sphereology Volume One
Photography (Vial): Andi State 

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USA/SPAIN: Tony Levin on MoonJune's new release of Xavi Reija "The Sound Of The Earth" with Markus Reuter & Dusan Jevtovic

MoonJune announces new release
of the Catalan drummer extraordinaire
"The Sound Of The Earth"

TONY LEVIN bass guitar, upright bas, stick
MARKUS REUTER touch guitar
CD • $15 +shipping
HD Download • $10
Click on any image or link above to fully stream the album.
The Sound Of The Earth  Notes by Dan Burke

First heard on Xavi and Dusan’s inspired 2014 album, “Random Abstract” by XaDu, “Deep Ocean” starts things off with a fanfare of muscular guitar and cymbals crashing like waves on the rocky coast, carving out the beach and unearthing a primal groove with growling bass and jittering spectral figures. “The Sound of the Earth I” brings to mind David Sylvian’s post-Japan near ambient instrumental excursions where space and pause became as integral to the “composition as place” as his trusty Prophet 5. Once this world is created, and with a decidedly Beckian vibe (Jeff, that is), Dusan wrings from the neck of his guitar, some of the most emotive broken phrases and edited soulful voicings.

“From Darkness” finds Tony’s minimalist bass pulse in 5/8 with snare/kick serving as the groundwork for Dusan and Markus’ spiraling moebius strip guitar riffery. There is a slightly frenzied insistence to this track which serves as a great counterpoint to the more atmospheric work.

Leading off with playful skipping brushwork and a rich and supple Levin bass groove, then painted with Reuter’s ominous stained and weathered guitar tones, “The Sound of the Earth II” is a dark canvas of shifting clouds of color. Dusan’s skittery clipped chords and abbreviated lead lines bring necessary tension for the fluid guitar phrasings which seem to erupt and then run down the face of this 12 minute tone painting. “Serenity” is an inspired atmospheric piece which features an abstracted melodic lead buoyed by an insistent tamboura-like repeated wavering note. There is enough creativity and inspiration in this one track to feed a whole album’s worth of music.

Beginning with a deep space Curtis Mayfield vibe, “The Sound of the Earth III” unfolds slowly with a practiced teasing restraint that allows the music to bloom naturally. “Lovely Place” finds the notes of Dusan’s guitar projected, like light, into a prism and coming back as a myriad of shimmering colors. Reuter’s stellar fluid guitar solo has a heroic and almost “Hotel California” build and break before returning to Dusan’s delicate finger work.

At nearly 17 minutes long, “The Sound of the Earth IV” would feel right at home on side 3 of a double Kosmiche Musik LP from 1969. This is heady stuff with lots of room for some really spirited interplay. Markus inspires this kind of creativity with his willingness to step way outside of the comfort zone. The musicians feel as though they’ve played together for years. In “Take a Walk” Dusan knits a lean triplet argeggiated guitar riff into a tight braid to give structure while a swaggering monster groove builds and builds, all the while tugging mercilessly at the yarn of his guitar until it temporarily unravels into a series of more tentative notes and slightly bent chords.

You can feel the room in this recording and, by that, I mean you can sense both the physical space and the emotional space between these four gifted players. There is a level of trust and comfort here that puts the listener at ease and ready to take the ride. Band leader and Catalan drummer, Xavi Reija and Serbian-born guitarist Dusan Jevtovic have worked together on numerous projects these past few years and have become an intuitive musical unit. Born in Boston, Tony Levin, with his impeccable pedigree from Herbie Mann and Chuck Mangione to Peter Gabriel and King Crimson as well as his own 10- year ongoing project Stick Men, along with fellow Stick Men, Crimson ProjeKCt and Centrozoon member German-born Markus Reuter, have likewise developed a common language communicating through music.

Such heartfelt and enthusiastic playing is in short supply these days. This is not music pigeon-holed for easy consumption, rather, it challenges and rewards more and more with each listening. So put down your phone, lower the lights and prepare to experience the gift of this inspired recording. 

"The Sound Of The Earth is like a musical buffet, with something for everyone who has a taste for genre-crossing electric music. The Reija/Jevtovic pairing has a history to draw from, as does the Levin/Reuter axis—and the combination uncovers a real chemistry. Yet another magical MoonJune session." - Mark Sullivan, All About Jazz
"The Sound Of The Earth" was recorded at Club House Studio, Rhineback, NY, USA by Paul Antonell in August 2016. Mixed by Jesus Rovira at La Casa Murada Studio, Banyeres del Penedés, Catalonia, Spain in 2018. Mastered by Álvaro Balañá at Impact Mastering Lab, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Produced by Xavi Reija. Executive producers Leonardo Pavkovic and Xavi Reija.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

USA: Mark Turner/Ethan Iverson- Temporary Kings (2018)

Temporary Kings

The initial musical connection between saxophonist Mark Turner and pianist Ethan Iverson was made in 1990s jam sessions in New York City, with both going on to individual success Iverson in hit trio The Bad Plus and Turner as a solo leader and in such groups as the trio Fly (recording in both capacities for ECM). A decade after their first meeting, the saxophonist and pianist began an association in the Billy Hart Quartet, the two players featuring sympathetically on two widely lauded ECM albums by that band. Now with Temporary Kings, their debut on record as a duo, Turner and Iverson explore aesthetic common ground that encompasses the cool-toned intricacies of the Lennie Tristano/Warne Marsh school, as well as the heightened intimacy of modernist chamber music. The album presents six originals by Iverson (such as the nostalgic solo tune Yesterdays Bouquet) and two by Turner (including Myrons World, which has acquired near-classic status among contemporary jazz players). Theres an off-kilter blues (Unclaimed Freight) and a strikingly melodic, almost Ravelian opening track dedicated to the Swiss town where the album was recorded (Lugano), plus an interpretation of Marshs playfully serpentine Dixies Dilemma.

Monday, August 27, 2018

JAPAN: Tohru Aizawa Quartet-Tachibana (2018)

The desire to discover and delve into new and unexplored areas of music has turned attention on the Japanese jazz scene of the 1970s, often regarded as its gilded age. The recent ground-breaking sell-out BBE compilation J Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz from Japan 1969-1984 threw much needed light on this fascinating era and presented a range of artists and music that surprised and delighted all who heard it. A key track on the compilation was one of the rarest and least known: Dead Letter by the Tohru Aizawa Quartet, taken from ‘Tachibana’, an album so elusive that some pondered whether it even existed. The album, Tachibana, was recorded in 1975 and, until included on the J Jazz compilation, was unknown except to a small group of obsessive Japanese jazz collectors. The privately pressed record was the only album made by the Quartet, four amateur musicians who were university students at the time. The session was financed by a local businessman, Ikujiroh Tachibana, who pressed up a few hundred copies to use as a business card. In the intervening 40 odd years since its recording, few copies have surfaced, making it an in-demand yet elusive artefact from the golden age of Japanese jazz. BBE Records are honoured to present a fully authorised reissue of this holy grail, licensed directly from the band themselves. Tachibana has all the necessary components of a cult album: pressed in small numbers, a few mysterious and vague details about its origins, languishing in obscurity for decades and, above all, superb musical craftsmanship and skill. It can now be enjoyed by a new audience around the world. The album opens with the dynamic percussion work-out Philosopher’s Stone written by the then law-student and drummer Tetsuya Morimura. It propels along with the band at full pelt, showcasing Morimura’s well-developed drumming style. For a teenage amateur player to compose and perform such an accomplished and impressive piece is a testament to the talent that the band contained. Philosopher’s Stone is followed by Sacrament, an epic modal composition by saxophonist Kyoichiro Morimura that fans of Wayne Shorter, Pharoah Sanders and late-era John Coltrane will appreciate. After an extended intro the band drop into a heavy, churning groove, Morimura’s saxophone scorching above the volcanic rhythm section. Dead Letter, written by Aizawa himself, is an epic piano led symphony of spiritual jazz. Think McCoy Tyner at his imperial finest and you’ll get a flavour: impact, emotion and power all suffuse to create a overwhelming experience. Amazingly, this is still the only Aizawa composition yet to be recorded. The Tachibana album also includes two cover versions, both Latin flavoured numbers delivered with élan and brio: La Fiesta by Chick Corea and the classic Samba de Orfeu by Luiz Bonfá. So, just five tracks in total, the sole existing evidence of an astonishing band, the Tohru Aizawa Quartet. The long-awaited reissue of this mythic album will include new liner notes and photos, plus fully translated notes from the original Japanese text. The album will be presented in an authentic thick card gatefold sleeve in a faithful reproduction of the original sleeve design.

AUSTRALIA: Flora Carbo Trio-Erica (2018)


Flora Carbo - alto saxophone, bass clarinet Isaac Gunnoo - bass Maddison Carter - drums

Sunday, August 26, 2018

JAPAN/CANADA : Pianist/composer Satoko Fujii debuts new trio This Is It! with recording and Canadian tour

Pianist/composer Satoko Fujii debuts new trio This Is It!
with recording and Canadian tour

September 15 – October 8, 2018

Appearances in Guelph, Montreal, Kingston, Ottawa, Vancouver

1538, the trio’s debut CD, earning wide acclaim

4.5 stars “A rambunctious stew of explosive group dynamics and interludes of gorgeous piano ruminations beside prickly percussive keyboard moments. There are also fleeting, bright splashes of notes, odd noises from extended techniques…and driving rhythms in a wide array of time signatures.”—Dan McClenaghan All About Jazz

“The music is of the utmost simplicity, yet the works produce an effect of extraordinary voluptousness, as simple tonal chords drift in and out of focus, while the soloists describe a slow and wayward ascent, climbing higher by infinitesimal degrees.”—Raul da Gama, Jazzdagama

Acclaimed pianist/composer Satoko Fujii, celebrates her new trio This Is It! (Fujii, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, and percussionist Takashi Itani) with a Canadian tour from Saturday, September 15 – Monday, October 8, 2018. The band’s debut CD, 1538, is part of Fujii’s 60th birthday celebration for which she is releasing a new CD every month during 2018.  The group will also tour to six US cities including Philadephia, PA; Cambridge, MA; Portland, ME; Brooklyn, NY; Mission Viejo and Los Angeles, CA.

Canadian performances include:

• Sat, Sept. 15, 2 p.m. ­– Guelph Jazz Festival, Cooperators Hall, River Run Centre, 35 Woolwich St.  Guelph, Ontario.
Tickets $20-$25. GJF: Groven/Lumley/Sadhouders will also perform. For information visit or

• Tues, Sept. 18, 8 p.m. – La Sala Rossa, 4848 St. Laurent, Montreal, Quebec.
The Craig Pedersen Quartet will also perform. Presented by Suoni Per Il Popolo and CKUT. Tickets $12. For information visit or

• Wed, Sept. 19, 7 p.m. – St. Marks Church, 263 Victoria Street, Kingston, Ontario.
Presented by Kingston Jazz Society. Tickets $15 at the door.

• Fri, Sept. 21, 7 p.m. – Natsuki Tamura Solo, Improvising Musicians of Ottawa Fest, General Assembly, Ottawa.

• Sat, Sept. 22, 3 p.m. – Natsuki Tamura, trumpet; Satoko Fujii, piano; Jesse Stewart, drums, Glebe St. James United Church, 60 Lyon St. S., Ottawa.

• Sat, Sept. 22, 10 p.m. – Improvising Musicians of Ottawa Fest, Gigspace, 953 Gladstone Ave., Ottawa.
Tickets $75 festival pass, $40 Saturday only. For information visit In addition to the concert by This Is It!, Tamura will perform solo on Friday, September 21, 7 p.m. at General Assembly; Fujii will also perform solo on Sunday, September 23.

• Sun, Sept. 23, 6 p.m. – Satoko Fujii Solo – Improvising Musicians of Ottawa Fest, Gigspace, 953 Gladstone Ave., Ottawa.

• Sun, Sept. 23, 9 p.m. – Satoko Fujii directs IMOO Orchestra with tenor saxophonist Bernard Stepien, alto and/or baritone saxophonist Linsey Wellman, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, trombonist Rory Magill, guitarist David Jackson, cellist Mark Molnar, drummer Takashi Itani, Scott Warren on sound inspiration – Improvising Musicians of Ottawa Fest, Gigspace, 953 Gladsone Ave., Ottawa.

• Fri, Oct. 5, 8 p.m. – NOW Society Creative Music Series #5 at 8EAST8 E Pender St., Vancouver, BC
By donation $10-$20. Also performing are two duos: Nikki Carter and Kenton Loewen; Meredith Bates and Elsa Thorn.

• Mon, Oct. 8, 4-6 & 6:30-8:30 p.m. Improvisation Workshops – Western Front, 303 E. 8th Ave., Vancouver, BC. Suggested donation $5-$20.
Satoko Fujii leads improvisation workshops.

Pianist-composer Fujii is always searching for new colleagues to help her in her quest “to make music that no one has heard before.” She found what she was looking for on 1538 featuring her latest trio with trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and drummer Takashi Itani. She calls the band This Is It!, and it’s little wonder why. After a long search, she’s found one of her most free-spirited ensembles, capable of playing her compositions with a natural élan as well as soloing with emotional intensity. The album was released June 22, 2018 via Libra Records.

This Is It! evolved slowly over several years from Fujii’s New Trio with bassist Todd Nicholson and drummer Itani. After their 2013 debut CD, Spring Storm, Tamura joined them in concert to form Quartet Tobira, which recorded Yamiyo ni Karasu in 2014. With the departure of Nicholson, the remaining band members played as Tobira – 1 (Tobira Minus One), but as they continued to play, a distinctive trio identity emerged and Fujii rechristened them with an original name. “I always like to have smaller units that can play my compositions,” Fujii says. “I have led small groups like Satoko Fujii Quartet, Satoko Fujii Trio, ma-do, and others since the beginning of my career. Right now, this trio is the one I really like to work with, so I just named it This Is It!.”

Fujii wrote some material especially for the group, but most of the compositions come from what she calls her diary. “When I sit at the piano, I always compose for 15 minutes before I begin to practice. After doing this for more than 10 years, I have 12 books of written compositions. The short pieces in these books can help me to make long pieces. I often turn to my diary books when I start to compose something.”

As Tamura attests in his CD liner notes, these pieces are often fiendishly difficult to learn but they always have structure and flow that sound unforced and that open up new possibilities for improvisers. The trio fully inhabits Fujii’s pieces, taking different approaches to each one. The trust and confidence among them create deeply layered performances that blend melody, sound, and rhythm in endlessly inventive ways. For instance, they each twist and bend the melody of “Prime Number” as they solo, creating variations that build a unified performance. They take the high-intensity title track (1538 is the melting point of iron in degrees Celsius) in multiple directions as they improvise. Tamura shrieks and brays with tormented abstractions while Fujii alternates between high energy thundering and a melancholy lyricism, and Itani’s unmoored rhythms ebb and flow.

Some of the most otherworldly sounds to issue from a Satoko Fujii band are heard on this album (and that’s saying something). It’s often hard to tell who is making what sound. The opening of “Yozora” (which means “night sky” in Japanese) and the dreamy abstractions of “Riding on the Clouds” are bravura examples of the trio’s ability to manipulate pure sound and tone color into emotionally satisfying music. A highlight of “Swoop,” a feature for Itani, is the drummer’s virtuoso command of timbre and his sure sense of construction.

 “I just let the band play in their own way,” Fujii says. “I just love to hear how Natsuki and Takashi play my pieces. In music, I like to feel 120 percent free and I think we can do whatever we like. This is the advantage of the music!”

Drummer Takashi Itani plays everything from jazz (Max Roach was an early inspiration) to folk music, to rock. He’s been a sideman with a truly bewildering range of musicians, including singer-songwriter Yoshio Hayakawa; new wave rock guitarist Masahide Sakuma; singer-actor Hiroshi Mikami; Michiro Endo, front man of the influential punk band The Stalin; West coast jazz saxophonist Ted Brown; and best-selling Japanese American pop star Hikaru Utada. In addition he has performed with some of Japan’s most prominent poets, including Mizuki Misumi, Shuntaro Tanikawa, Gozo Yoshimasu, and the late Takaaki Yoshimoto.

Japanese trumpeter and composer Natsuki Tamura is internationally recognized for his unique musical vocabulary blending extended techniques with jazz lyricism. This unpredictable virtuoso “has some of the stark, melancholy lyricism of Miles, the bristling rage of late ’60s Freddie Hubbard and a dollop of the extended techniques of Wadada Leo Smith and Lester Bowie,” observes Mark Keresman of Throughout his career, Tamura has led bands with radically different approaches. On one hand, there are avant rock jazz fusion bands like his quartet. In contrast, Tamura has focused on the intersection of folk music and sound abstraction with Gato Libre since 2003. The band’s poetic, quietly surreal performances have been praised for their “surprisingly soft and lyrical beauty that at times borders on flat-out impressionism,” by Rick Anderson in CD Hotlist. In addition, Tamura and pianist (and wife) Satoko Fujii have maintained an ongoing duo since 1997. Tamura also collaborates on many of Fujii’s projects, from quartets and trios to big bands. As an unaccompanied soloist, he’s released three CDs, including Dragon Nat (2014). He and Fujii are also members of Kaze, a collaborative quartet with French musicians, trumpeter Christian Pruvost and drummer Peter Orins. “As unconventional as he may be,” notes Marc Chenard in Coda magazine, “Natsuki Tamura is unquestionably one of the most adventurous trumpet players on the scene today.”

Critics and fans alike hail pianist and composer Satoko Fujii as one of the most original voices in jazz today. She’s “a virtuoso piano improviser, an original composer and a bandleader who gets the best collaborators to deliver," says John Fordham in The Guardian. In concert and on more than 80 albums as a leader or co-leader, she synthesizes jazz, contemporary classical, avant-rock, and Japanese folk music into an innovative music instantly recognizable as hers alone. Over the years, Fujii has led some of the most consistently creative ensembles in modern improvised music, including her trio with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Jim Black, the Min-Yoh Ensemble, and an electrifying avant-rock quartet featuring drummer Tatsuya Yoshida of The Ruins. Her ongoing duet project with husband Natsuki Tamura released their sixth recording, Kisaragi, in 2017. “The duo's commitment to producing new sounds based on fresh ideas is second only to their musicianship,” says Karl Ackermann in All About JazzAspiration, a CD by an ad hoc band featuring Wadada Leo Smith, Tamura, and Ikue Mori, was released in 2017 to wide acclaim. “Four musicians who regularly aspire for greater heights with each venture reach the summit together on Aspiration,” writes S. Victor Aaron inSomething Else. She records infrequently as an unaccompanied soloist, but Solo (Libra), the first of her 12 birthday-year albums, led Dan McClenaghan to enthuse in All About Jazz, that the album “more so than her other solo affairs—or any of her numerous ensembles for that matter—deals in beauty, delicacy of touch, graceful melodicism.” As the leader of no less than five orchestras in the U.S., Germany, and Japan, Fujii has also established herself as one of the world’s leading composers for large jazz ensembles, leading Cadence magazine to call her, “the Ellington of free jazz.”

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USA, CA: MARIA SCHAFER AND BRAD BLACK Vitello's in Studio City on Wednesday, Sept. 12th

MARIA SCHAFER AND BRAD BLACK After touring worldwide as the star vocalist and split lead trumpet player of the renowned Glenn Miller Orchestra, Maria Schafer and Brad Black now present a world-class duo show to sate the modern audience's hunger for great music and moving artistry. With hard-swinging and beautiful arrangements of the best songs from the golden era of big bands and the Great American Songbook, this romantic mixture of solo trumpet, solo voice, and trumpet/vocal duo charts features Maria Schafer's warm and impressive vocals coupled with Brad Black's engaging showmanship and memorable trumpet playing. “"A treat for anyone...evocative vocals enveloped in equally emotive instrumentals."” - Riveting Riffs Magazine Venue Information: Upstairs At Vitello's 4349 Tujunga Ave Studio City, CA, 91604

USA: Jane Ira Bloom Trio/Early Americans Sunday, September 16th 8:30pm CORNELIA STREET CAFE

Jane Ira Bloom  soprano sax
Mark Helias   bass
Bobby Previte   drums

Sunday, Sept 16   8:30pm

29 Cornelia St.
Greenwich Village, NY
tel # 212 989-9319
Admission: $15 cover $10 minimum
Award winning soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom returns to Cornelia Street Cafe with her trio to perform songs from their critically acclaimed releases "Early Americans," "Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson" and beyond. Longtime band-mates Mark Helias (bass) and Bobby Previte (drums) join Bloom for an evening of high wire improvisation over the groove. The band¹s 2018 appearances include performances at the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Iowa City Jazz Festival, The San Francisco Jazz Center, and the Provincetown Playhouse at NYU. Don¹t miss these fearless American originals live in NYC.

"As a soprano saxophonist, she is at the top of her game."
- Robert Iannapollo, Cadence

 “Burning, deeply empathetic trio chemistry”    

 - Ian Patterson, All About Jazz
“A thrilling unity of purpose that is like little else you’ll hear in jazz these days.” 
- Jeff Simon, Buffalo News