Thursday, January 31, 2019

GREECE: A Different Path: The Mediterranean-Hued, Poetic Pleasures of Johno’s The Road Not Taken

A Different Path: The Mediterranean-Hued, Poetic Pleasures of Johno’s The Road Not Taken

It’s not always easy to tell where a road begins. For producer, musician, and songwriter Johno, the road to his first solo album The Road Not Taken began imperceptibly. Its unconventional path proved long, winding, and musically breathtaking, embracing music and musicians from around the Mediterranean and Ireland and poetry from Shakespeare to Mahmoud Darwish.

The wild trip that led to The Road Not Taken might have begun the moment Johno got his first producer gig in Albania or in the West Bank. It might have started that moment in a library in Tunisia, when Johno sketched out a setting for a beloved poem with a local friend and violinist. It may have started decades before, when his parents, Irish-born, London-based, shared verses close to their hearts, quietly inspiring their son.

This poetic inheritance unfolded for Johno over time, revealing hidden melodies and songs. “When you read these poems, they have these beautiful meters,” he reflects. “You just have to discover the songs in them. Much like Michelangelo said about stones, that they were all waiting to have a sculpture carved out them, these poems were begging to become musical compositions.”

But the compositions he discovered were radical departures from the poem’s origins, suggesting styles and locations for recording far off the beaten path. Johno drew on a decade of close collaboration and recording experience around the Balkans, North Africa, the Middle East, and Turkey, as well as his ancestral stomping grounds of Ireland, to find astonishing arrangements for the songs that sprang from poems.

As companions to his original pieces, Johno chose several songs that fit the theme and resonated with the other works, and heard them through the same unconventional filter. “It was important for me to have a few key covers take a trip,” he explains. “So I didn’t just want to do the Beatles track as a jazz number. Instead, I put it in ⅞ and recorded it in Jordan with a Turkish orchestra. I recorded a really straightforward John Denver song with a Tunisian orchestra with two hundred tracks of instruments, vocal harmonies, and percussion. I loved these songs and simply heard them differently.”

{full story below}

Johno was trained as a jazz musician but found himself increasingly in the recording booth on the other side of the glass. His skills were coupled with a growing fascination with the sounds, styles, and musical thought he discovered in other cultures. Over time, project after project came to him. As he worked with more and more well-established musicians in far-flung locales, their music and craft began to seep into his own writing.

It wasn’t, however, until recently that he resolved to step in front of the mic. Johno realized he had enough material to make his first album, songs he’d built up over years of travel and homecoming. The basis for these pieces was the poems he knew from childhood, as well as poems by icons like Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish that he discovered along this journey. They influenced the way he crafted music.

“Like many writers, I sometimes start with a riff, but to work with these poems, I chose a more theatrical way. You take the poem and read it really slowly, repeatedly and theatrically. it’s embarrassing to even demonstrate,” he laughs. “After you do that, you have the scale. You hear, for example, that it’s kind of major but it has a flat two, which suggests a certain mode you’ll hear in Arabic music. That scale is there, at the back of your mind, and it just blends with cadence of the poem.”

Once a song had emerged, Johno decided where the song could best be recorded, often fitting sessions into his travels as a producer. He invited his favorite musicians to join him, from American jazz heavyweights to Arabic hotshots. “Each song lent itself to the location. If you’re recording something like ‘Country Road,’ in ⅞ with Arabic riffs, it needs to be recorded in Tunis. Byron’s ‘Made for Loving,’ took a famous Arabic melody for the chorus...You can’t do that and record it in Germany!” Johno exclaims. “That’s why it was recorded in Jordan and Turkey. ‘Homeward Bound,’ the only song about returning home, had to be in Ireland.”

The resulting tracks are steeped in the sounds and approaches of these places, the bold horns of the Balkans, the elegant modal melodies of the Eastern Mediterranean, the rippling percussion lines. “It’s more than influence, really; the feeling of the place where I recorded--Jordan, Tunis, Ireland--is baked in there,” Johno notes. “The album wound up weaving in rhythms in 13, 7, 10, 5, as well as Arabic and Turkish modes, North African tonality. I’m lucky to know the best musicians in each place, because I’ve already had a chance to work with them.”

Some of these talents contributed directly to the composition process, as in the case of “If,” the popular Kipling poem. Johno handed the poem over to a close friend and talented musician Nikos Mixalodimitrakis, who lives not far from Johno in Greece. What came back was a wonderful surprise, a version in 5/4 with serious Greek traditional flavor. “If I had tackled it alone, it would never have sounded anything like it,” Johno says. “I love giving something to people you trust and then getting it back and being delighted.” This different, delightful approach to classic poetry promises to take listeners and literary buffs along for the moving ride.

50% of the album’s earnings will be put back to community cultural development in Johno’s various philanthropic collaborations


Johno is a multi-instrumental, omni-style musician and producer. Originally a Jazz performer, now heavily influenced by Classical music, Arabic Music, African Nuba, Rai, Gnawa, and Berber traditions, and Balkan music.
Johno works with local artists in quite a number of countries and fuses seamlessly between traditional melodies and beats to advanced 
Jazz harmonies, and classical counterpoint. Now working on his first ever original album, an ethno-jazz project evolving around composed English Poetry from Shakespeare to Robert Frost, and trying to help the world in what ever small way he can.
Johno lives on the Greek coast, and spends a fair portion of his time travelling and recording in Europe, Africa, the Balkans, and the Middle-east.
Johno is the director of the newly established label RNT Records, and the exciting new Delia Arts Foundation.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

USA:Branford Marsalis Quartet - The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul (2019)

The Secret Between the Shadow and the SoulThe Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul finds the celebrated ensemble at a new peak, addressing a kaleidoscope of moods with inspiration and group commitment. The quartet that saxophonist Branford Marsalis has led for the past three decades has always been a model of daring, no-apologies artistry, of ever-widening musical horizons and deepening collective identity. With like-minded support from pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Justin Faulkner, the band has long been a model of how to sustain and enlarge a musical outlook that is both historically and stylistically inclusive. Successive recordings have revealed new plateaus, and The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul, the band s first since 2016's acclaimed Upward Spiral with guest Kurt Elling, captures a new emphasis on both how to express and how to document the music. The new album is as complete a picture as one can assemble of the Marsalis Quartet within the confines of an hour. As usual there is compositional input from the veteran members, with Revis supplying the surging "Dance of the Evil Toys" and more tensile yet equally dynamic Nilaste, while Calderazzo reinforces the lyrical compositional yin to his virtuosic keyboard yang in "Cianna" and "Conversation Among the Ruins." In addition to the leader s own "Life Filtering from the Water Flowers," with one of his most deeply felt and keenly shaded tenor saxophone solos, there are two of the more challenging jazz jewels of the mid-seventies, Andrew Hill's "Snake Hips Waltz" and Keith Jarrett s "The Windup." The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul confirms Branford Marsalis's vision. It is sophisticated, adventurous and anything but defensive, and it captures a great band sounding better than ever.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

USA/NORWAY: Paul Jones Quartet ‎– The Process ( AMP Music & Records 2019)

The Process (feat. Paul Jones, Syberen van Munster, Tim Thornton & Francesco De Rubeis)
Musician/composer Paul Jones has never been afraid to take chances or to reach deeper when creating music that stands uniquely apart and stands the test of time. This New York-based contemporary jazz artist had been gaining musical ground as a bandleader, before the release of his debut album, Short History in 2014. With his latest album, The Process, Jones strikes out on a new journey, taking steps forward by taking a step back in time and calling on a different set of influences. The album, comprised of mostly original material, except for the refreshingly, cool version of the Rogers & Hammerstein classic, It Might As Well Be Spring, leans more heavily on traditional jazz roots than any of his previous works. Recorded live, on a quiet Sunday afternoon in Rome, Italy, at the end of a two-week European tour earlier this year -- almost every one of the eight tracks on this new album was laid down on the first take. Paul Jones - saxophone, Syberen van Munster - guitar, Tim Thornton - bass, Francesco de Rubeis - drums
AMP Music & Records

Monday, January 28, 2019

FRANCE: The Cool Feedback Quartet ‎– Live in Paris( Milano Records ‎ 2019)

1 Cool Fire 07:51 2 Conversation 06:41 3 Catalyst On The List 10:40 4 Spanish Fuss 10:01 5 Surboum Chez Gilbert Saxophone – Gilbert Artman Trumpet – Jac Berrocal 07:02

Drums – Jean-Bernard Lepape Electric Bass – Morgan Lanoë Guitar – F. Robert Lloyd, Gregoire Garrigues, Thierry Los  Saxophone – Gilbert Artman Trumpet – Jac Berrocal

Milano Records

Sunday, January 27, 2019

USA: Behn Gillece - "Parallel Universe"( Posi-Tone 2019)

Our second release of the year features rising star
Behn Gillece with an all-star band!

Behn Gillece "Parallel Universe"
catalog #PR8190

For his fourth album on Posi-Tone, Downbeat Rising Star vibraphonist Behn Gillece investigates the parallax of perspectives created by the individual approaches of introversion and extroversion which comprise the “Parallel Universe.” With purposeful intention, Gillece repeatedly shifts his musical focus back and forth between inward to outward perspectives. While doing this, he moves straight forward through a series of original compositions that skillfully combine his high-powered harmonic approach with stunning displays of lyricism and create an engaging set of transformative tour de force performances. Gillece shines brightly throughout while clearly enjoying supportive companionship from saxophonist Stacy Dillard, trumpeter Bruce Harris, pianist Art Hirahara, bassist David Wong, and drummer Rudy Royston, each of whom contribute uniquely bright moments to the proceedings. With an expressive program of musical offerings, Behn Gillece’s “Parallel Universe” is a joyous journey which seeks to engage and entertain listeners while simultaneously transporting them into new realms of personal insight and sonorous delight.
1. Break The Ice    5:11
2. Bossa For R.M.    5:55
3. Parallel Universe    6:29
4. Ready For Tomorrow    5:08
5. Smoke Screen    4:33
6. Eviscerate    3:04
7. Downpour    4:53
8. Shadow Of The Flame    5:37
9. Evening Glow    7:16
10. Alice’s Journey    4:43
11. Candle In The Dark    5:13
all compositions by Behn Gillece
Behn Gillece - vibraphone
Bruce Harris - trumpet
Stacy Dillard - tenor saxophone
Art Hirahara - piano
David Wong - bass
Rudy Royston - drums

produced by Marc Free

Behn Gillece "Parallel Universe" is available from
Posi-Tone, Apple MusiciTunesSpotifyAmazon, and many fine retailers.

For upcoming Behn Gillece shows, click HERE.

Buy Now

Saturday, January 26, 2019

TURKEY: Yavuz Akyazıcı Project ‎– Turkish Standards Vol. 3 (2019)

, Guitar – Yavuz Akyazıcı Bass – Enver Muhammedi Drums – Derin Bayhan Vocals – Funda Akyazıcı

FRANCE: Micfel Legrand (1932-2019)

Michel Legrand, piano & vocal Frank Smith, electric bass Tom Haberman, drums

Friday, January 25, 2019

CANADA, SK: Ravel and Jazz – Godwin Friesen

Gordon Gerrard, conductor
 Godwin Friesen, piano

 A concert that plans to jazz up your January: Milhaud’s jazz-infused take on the creation of the world is a perfect pairing for Ravel’s incredible piano concerto. Regina Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director Gordon Gerrard makes his SSO debut. Saskatoon’s own Godwin Friesen returns to the SSO as winner of the Shurniak Concerto Competition. His playing is laced with energy and precision that will bring the Ravel to life.

 The evening is rounded out by two Canadian pieces, Glenn Buhr’s Winter Poems and Malcolm Forsyth’s Atayoskewin.

7:30PM, Saturday, January 26, 2019 TCU Place, Sid Buckwold Theatre 35 – 22nd Street East Saskatoon, SK S7K 0C8 Google Maps Directions ($34 – $73)

 Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra

USA, CA: Maria Schafer Upcoming Appearances and news

Enjoy some jazz with your wine and cheese!

Hope your year has been going well so far! I wanted to let you know that I'll be singing at a charming little shoppe called Artisan Cheese & Wine in Studio City next Friday with phenomenal guitarist and collaborator Dori Amarilio. This is the first time I've played in L.A. proper in a listening room-type set-up in a while, so I would love if you could come out. There's no cover, and they have a deliciously-curated spread of wines and cheeses to choose from. 
Where: Artisan Cheese & Wine, Studio City, CA
When: Friday, Feb. 1st, 7:30-9PM
What: Intimate and beautiful jazz from me and guitarist Dori Amarilio! 

How Much: FREE
P.S. If you're receiving this email and thinking "WHY does Maria keep emailing me about shows in Southern California when I live in ______ (Montana, Brazil, Paris, etc)??" it's because I don't have your current address info in my list!
If you're bothered by mis-directed performance emails, please send me the town you live in, as I'm updating my regional and international mailing lists :)
Upcoming Performances
1/25/19, 6-9PM - Hotel Casa Del Mar, Santa Monica, CA
     - with guitarist Adam Ratner

1/27/19, 12-3PM - Federal Bar, Long Beach, CA
2/1/19, 6-9PM - Artisan Cheese & Wine, Studio City, CA
     - with guitarist 
Dori Amarilio
2/3/19, 12-3PM - Federal Bar, Long Beach, CA
     - with guitarist Shane Savala

2/5/19, 7-9PM - The Country Club, Costa Mesa, CA
     - with the Kevin Van Den Elzen Little Big Band

2/7/19, 7-9PM - Covina Center for the Performing Arts, Covina, CA
     - with SAE Speaks: Jazz Night

2/23/19, 7-10PM - Willmore Wine Bar, Long Beach, CA

Thursday, January 24, 2019

USA: The Roni Ben-Hur Trio 1/26 Jazz at the Kitano Maureen’s Jazz Cellar 2/2

The Roni Ben-Hur Trio
With Harvie S and Victor Lewis
Saturday, January 26, 8 & 10PM
Jazz at the Kitano
66 Park Avenue, East 38th St
New York, NY 10016
$34 cover, $20 Minimum

The Roni Ben-Hur Trio
With Marcos Varela, and Sylvia Cuenca
Saturday, February 2, 8 & 9:30PM
Maureen’s Jazz Cellar
2 N. Broadway, Nyack, NY 10960
(845) 535-3143
$20 Cover
Jazz guitarist Roni Ben-Hur has earned a sterling reputation as a musician and educator, renowned for his golden tone, improvisational brilliance, compositional lyricism and ability to charm peers, students and listeners alike. Eminent jazz critic Gary Giddins wrote in the Village Voice: "A limber and inventive guitarist, Ben-Hur keeps the modernist flame alive and pure, with a low flame burning in every note... [He's] a guitarist who knows the changes and his own mind." Ben-Hur - born in Israel in 1962 but a longtime American citizen, now based in Harlem, New York - has released 11 albums as leader or co-leader, with Time Out New York calling him "a formidable and consummately lyrical guitarist." The Star-Ledger of New Jersey summed him up this way: "A deep musician, a storyteller, Ben-Hur works with a warm, glowing sound and has an alluring way of combining engaging notes with supple rhythm."

In the January Issue of Hot House Magazine Seton Hawkins wrote -“A beloved fixture in the city’s performing and education scene, guitarist Roni Ben-Hur has for decades charmed New York with his beautifully fluid playing, crisp melodic lines and gorgeously polished tone. Noted for his mastery in both straight ahead jazz as well as in Brazilian musical styles, Roni has also forged exceptional collaborative relationships with a number of similarly versatile artists. One such relationship that stands out—his pairing with bassist Harvie S—received thoroughly deserved accolades in 2018 for the duo’s delicate and thoughtful album Introspection (Jazzheads).”

Watch Roni Ben-Hur on YouTube

Roni Ben-Hur/Harvie S Trio New CD

Roni Ben-Hur’s Trio with Santi Debriano and Vince Cherico

WIth George Cables, Harvie S and Victor Lewis

WIth Leny Andrade at Dizzy's Club, NYC

ITALY: Francesco Diodati Yellow Squeeds: “NEVER THE SAME” ( AUAND 2019)


 Francesco Diodati guitar Francesco Lento trumpet Enrico Zanisi piano, Fender Rhodes, synths Glauco Benedetti tuba, valve trombone, flute Enrico Morello drums, gongs

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

USA: Jazz Takes The Stage With Swinging Versions Of Classic Show Tunes On Putumayo's Broadway Jazz

Contact: Adam Sullivan

Putumayo continues the celebration of its 25th anniversary with Broadway Jazz, featuring swinging jazz covers of beloved show tunes. The company began the year with New Orleans Party in May, 2018, honoring its current home in the Crescent City. Putumayo now celebrates New York City, another important music center and its original home in 1993. The album is set for release on January 25, 2019 and will be available on CD, digital download and streaming on Apple Music.
Broadway Jazz explores the deep and storied history of musical theater and jazz and their intertwined relationship that dates back to the early 1900s. Since its inception, jazz has been seeping into Broadway shows. The influences went the other way as well, as songs written for Broadway quickly became adopted by jazz musicians as standards. That trend continued over the years, and the list of Broadway songs that have been interpreted by jazz musicians could fill a book.
Broadway Jazz opens with Kermit Ruffins’ New Orleans-style take on “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” a song that owes a big part of its success to another Crescent City trumpet player, Louis Armstrong. Act 2 of our musical revue highlights the silky vocal stylings of Maxine Sullivan performing Duke Ellington’s “I Got It Bad, and That Ain’t Good.” Blues legend Jimmy “T-99” Nelson reminds us that life is a “Cabaret” with his smooth performance of the title track from one of Broadway’s most successful musicals.
Jazz saxophone legend Coleman Hawkins keeps the show going with “Make Someone Happy” from the musical Do Re Mi. Canadian jazz singer Emilie-Claire Barlow offers a playful version of the Frank Sinatra classic “You Make Me Feel So Young,” a song that lived a long life before it finally made it to Broadway in Twyla Tharp’s Sinatra revue Come Fly Away.
Though its Broadway run was short lived, Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera gave birth to one of the most recognizable jazz tunes in history (thanks to Louis Armstrong and Bobby Darin’s famed renditions). Another great trumpeter and singer, Leroy Jones, gives his own New Orleans-style twist on “Mack the Knife.” This is followed by the classic Broadway tune, “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man,” from Show Boat, performed by Tony-nominated singer and actress Bertice Reading.
Legendary saxophone player Sonny Rollins delivers a moving instrumental version of a classic with his 1957 version of “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face” from My Fair Lady. Our night at the theater concludes with a double-header from the late, great Peggy Lee who sings two classics from Oklahoma, “People Will Say We’re In Love” and the closer, “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.”
Putumayo’s Broadway Jazz brings together the beautiful melodies of musical theater and the coolness of jazz for a beguiling collection. Broadway and jazz music’s shared history and longtime reciprocal relationship make for a perfect musical partnership.

For more information or to interview Putumayo founder and music compiler Dan Storper, please contact Adam Sullivan at
julia thomas