Sunday, March 31, 2019

USA/BRAZIL: Fantastic Landscape: Benji Kaplan and Rita Figueiredo Transfix with Bright, Nuanced Portraits of a Hidden Brazil on Benji & Rita

Fantastic Landscape: Benji Kaplan and Rita Figueiredo Transfix with Bright, Nuanced Portraits of a Hidden Brazil on Benji & Rita

Brazilian music has a keen ability to tie the magical and surreal with the grounded and historical. New York-based composer Benji Kaplan and Brazilian singer and songwriter Rita Figueiredo pick up that vibrating, multicolored thread and weave it into fantastical new portraits of Brazil and New York on Benji & Rita (release: May 10, 2019), their album-length debut as a duo.
Cinematic and refined, Benji & Rita channels the scents and sounds, the flora and fauna of the couple’s homelands, drawing on everything from samba and baião, to waltzes and pop catchiness, much as Brazilian popular composers have over the last five decades.
“We were going forward and backward, back to the origin,” explains Benji, “so we could share those worlds, the raw version of ourselves and then some fantasy, paintings, and stories. The arrangements reflect that, and some are simple, while some are very complex. We crafted the album to merge those two worlds and give people the fuller picture.”
“Some lyrics I wrote after Benji created the arrangement,” Rita says. “I could see images because when you have just a simple melody, you have more freedom to create things. With an arrangement, though, you see landscapes and stories in more detail. Both ways, I felt the narrative.” And that narrative, of Amazonian rivers and crazy megalopolises, of sparkling love and quiet grief, shines through the duo’s exquisite songs. 
{full story below}
For Benji, “Rita was the missing link.” He had immersed himself utterly in the music and language of Brazil, writing and releasing his own compositions inspired by the world he came to love. Then he met the songwriter, singer, and animator in Rio after a show. They swiftly began sharing musical ideas. Then they decided to share a life.
They both had substantial creative lives when they met. Son of a Cuban percussionist and American visual artist with four albums under his belt, Benji, although having had formal training at the New School for jazz guitar studies; He is almost entirely self taught as an arranger, composer and guitarist of European and Brazilian classical, and popular music in which he seamlessly blends his musical passions into nuanced pieces. He has performed and studied with artists such as Junior Mance, Chico Hamilton, Bernard Purdie, Rodney Jones and Barry Harris, to name a few. 
Rita was a classically trained singer who shifted to popular forms, recording a 2013 debut album rich in stories that made numerous “best of” lists. (She has dedicated decades to animation and illustration, with works featured in more than 20 international Festivals, had cartoons and vignettes featured on MTV Brazil and USA, Nickelodeon, TV Cultura and many other networks.  Her visual arts crossed over into a more music-specific realm when she created visual elements and videos for artists such as Marisa Monte, Ed Motta and Cássia Eller, among others).
Rita’s vivid penchant for storytelling proved the perfect complement to Benji’s musical worlds. On Benji & Rita, they explore the tensions and possibilities of the duo, often extending dramatically beyond their two instruments of voice and guitar, into big, polychrome worlds. “The album has arrangements meant to take you out of the voice and guitar realm, but we also kept things simple with more traditional tracks, where you’ll just hear guitar, voice, bass, and drums,” Benji notes.
“Piocerá” chronicles an epic journey through several Brazilian provinces, told from the perspective of someone boating down the Sao Francisco River, to the sway of the baião, the rhythm of Brazil’s northeast. “When I heard the melody for the first time, I wanted to create a story about a guy who lived in the Northeast and uses the boat to ride past the two states, Piauí and Ceará, that make up the name of the song. I use these wonderful expressions from northeastern Brazil, words that might not be clear to people who aren’t from that area,” but that convey the character of the place. The regional vibe is further enhanced with the zabumba, a percussion/bass instrument popular in the area.
The story needs the sounds, and vice versa, even when it’s telling a tale closer to the couple’s current home of New York. “Memorial Day” dives into the tensions of patriotism and pride, and war and betrayal, to the sound of a muted trumpet. “We wanted to evoke all those emotions: pride, joy, patriotism, betrayal, suffering, and for the music to reflect the lyrics,” recounts Benji. “When I wanted to arrange it, I started listening to those reveilles on trumpet. I knew I had to start the song out with that. Then it goes crazy and the arrangement gets all psychedelic and messed up. It takes listeners through the story.” “No one wins in war,” Rita adds, “but there was such beauty to this holiday, from my perspective. I wanted to capture both feelings.”
A diverse group of musicians, many part of seasoned ensembles Benji had worked with previously, brought the vision and imagery to musical life. The two dozen performers included a wind collective where each player has mastered several instruments, a string quartet--and Benji’s percussionist father, who added elements like the dumbek on “Zenite e nadir.”
Though some of the settings are complex, conjuring a sense of place, capturing the curious details that make a song live and breathe come easily to the duo. It’s their way of sharing the beauties of a country and its music, the elements that defy the brazen cry of headlines and politics. “As a lyricist, I always find I’m telling very visual stories and creating these panoramic scenes,” Rita reflects. “This album is trying to share the hidden gems and observations about Brazil that aren’t in everyday conversation.”


Ron Kadish
812-339-1195 X 202

ITALY: Jacopo Ferrazza Trio-Theater (CAM JAZZ 2019)


 Jacopo Ferrazza bass Stefano Carbonelli guitar Valerio Vantaggio drums “

They range between relatively orthodox jazz and more formal structures that recall aspects of classical trio writing. They are the kind of music that overturns many of the more casual criticisms levelled at jazz. Everything here has purpose and vigour.” (Brian Morton)
 Album release: 12 April 2019

Pre-order on iTunes

Saturday, March 30, 2019

USA, NYC: Improve your knowledge of jazz!

Photo Credit: Swing U, by Frank Stewart

Improve your knowledge of jazz!

Swing University Spring Term
Apr 1–Jun 18, 2019
Irene Diamond Education Center

Our higher education program, Swing University, offers fun and informal classes about the music you love!
This semester we will discover one of jazz’s most extraordinary figures, explore the wonder of improvisation, learn how to develop your ears to listen to jazz, examine the roots and development of Jazz-Rock Fusion, and have the chance to become a certified jazz expert!
We look forward to seeing you soon!
Spring Term Courses

Miles Davis
Apr 1–Apr 29; 4 Mondays

Jazz 101: A Beginner's Guide to Jazz
Apr 2–Jun 4; 8 Tuesdays

The Art and Science of Improvisation 
Apr 4–May 23; 6 Thursdays

Jazz 301: An Expert's Guide to Jazz
May 15–Jun 27; 7 Wednesdays & 1 Thursday

Birds of Fire: Jazz-Rock Fusion
May 30–Jun 18; 4 Tuesdays

All classes take place in the Irene Diamond Education Center, fifth floor of Frederick P. Rose Hall, Broadway at 60th Street.

Contact Swing University


Venue AddressFrederick P. Rose Hall
Broadway at 60th Street, NY
CenterCharge: 212-721-6500
Administrative Offices3 Columbus Circle, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10019
Photo Credit: Trumpets, by Frank Stewart

ITALY: Michele Rabbia - Ingar Zach-[so-nò-ro] (CAM JAZZ 2019)


Michele Rabbia - Ingar Zach

Worldwide Release:  March 15, 2019

Michele Rabbia   percussion and live electronics
Ingar Zach    percussion and live electronics

So close and involved is their interplay that the music seems to occupy a whole new plane of reality, entire of itself and utterly absorbing.  [so-nò-ro] is a glimpse back into the deep history of improvised music and the cultures it has sustained as well as a journey into its multiple futures.” (Brian Morton)

Pre-order on iTunes

Friday, March 29, 2019




Click here for the listening session event page
Click here for the box set's online media kit

Los Angeles, CA – John Coltrane’s breakout year, when his mature saxophone sound first grabbed ears and his own recordings began to sell consistently, was 1958. The upcoming box set Coltrane ’58: The Prestige Recordings (out March 29 (5-CD & digital formats) and April 26 (8-LP format) on Craft Recordings), chronicles that exciting year session by session, featuring all 37 tracks Coltrane recorded as a leader or co-leader for the independent Prestige label in those 12 months. The collection captures Coltrane in creative high gear—developing the signature improvisational style that journalist Ira Gitler famously dubbed “sheets of sound.” In addition, Coltrane ’58: The Prestige Recordings comes on the heel of the 60th anniversary of that breakthrough year, and serves as the cornerstone release marking the 70th anniversary of Prestige Records.

On Wednesday, April 3rd at 7:00 p.m.Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City will host a free listening session with a panel of experts and enthusiasts, including Coltrane biographers Lewis Porter and Ashley Kahn. Special guests will play selections and display historical images from Coltrane ’58, engaging in a discussion filled with musical revelations and historical insights. Panelists will address the term “sheets of sound,” which refers to Coltrane’s singular approach that caused shock and awe in 1958—and eventually deep appreciation, when he pushed the bebop ideal of slaloming through a tune’s chordal pathways to its extreme. Coltrane ’58 is also more than that: it’s the sound of Coltrane working and smoothing out those sheets and decreasing the intensity, caressing and embellishing a melody, an aspect that could calm the toughest critics.

Join the panelists as they play tracks from this historical collection, take questions from the audience, and examine how 1958 helped John Coltrane become the legend we now revere and why the music he made then still influences how jazz is played today. It may be a challenge to imagine how radical Coltrane sounded 60 years ago, yet there’s an enduring relevancy in Coltrane’s bold chance-taking, as a creative artist and as an African American. “In the context of current headlines and an overriding sense of déjà vu, Coltrane’s music rings clearer than ever, with even greater meaning than it had in 1958,” writes Ashley Kahn in the liner notes to Coltrane ’58. “What he was playing then never felt less than urgent and relevant—subversive even. It still sounds that way.”

Click here to watch the unboxing video for Coltrane '58 and click here to watch box set producer Nick Phillips discussing the concept, music, and packaging.

Click here to pre-order Coltrane ’58 in 8-LP, 5-CD and digital formats.

Click here for Craft Recordings' online store, currently offering exclusive bundle packages featuring a limited edition Prestige T-shirt.

Collective Personnel:
John Coltrane (tenor saxophone), Kenny Burrell (guitar), Donald Byrd (trumpet), Paul Chambers (bass), Jimmy Cobb (drums), Tommy Flanagan (piano), Red Garland (piano), Wilbur Harden (trumpet, flugelhorn), Louis Hayes (drums), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Art Taylor (drums)

Track List:


Side A
1. Lush Life
2. Come Rain or Come Shine
Side B
1. The Believer
2. Nakatini Serenade

Side A
1. Lover
2. Russian Lullaby
3. Theme for Ernie
4. You Say You Care
Side B
1. Good Bait
2. I Want to Talk About You

Side A
1. Lyresto
2. Why Was I Born
3. Freight Trane
4. I Never Knew
Side B
1. Big Paul
2. I See Your Face Before Me

Side A
1. Rise and Shine
2. Little Melonae
Side B
1. If There Is Someone Lovelier Than You
2. By the Numbers

Side A
1. Black Pearls
2. Lover Come Back to Me
Side B
1. Sweet Sapphire Blues

Side A
1. Spring Is Here
2. Invitation
Side B
1. I'm a Dreamer (Aren’t We All)
2. Love Thy Neighbor

Side A
1. Don't Take Your Love From Me
2. Stardust
Side B
1. My Ideal
2. I'll Get By (As Long as I Have You)
3. Do I Love You Because You Are Beautiful

Side A
1. Then I'll Be Tired of You
2. Something I Dreamed Last Night
Side B
1. Bahia
2. Goldsboro Express
3. Time After Time


1. Lush Life
2. Come Rain or Come Shine
3. The Believer
4. Nakatini Serenade
5. Lover
6. Russian Lullaby
7. Theme for Ernie
8. You Say You Care

1. Good Bait
2. I Want to Talk About You
3. Lyresto
4. Why Was I Born
5. Freight Trane
6. I Never Knew
7. Big Paul
8. I See Your Face Before Me

1. Rise and Shine
2. Little Melonae
3. If There Is Someone Lovelier Than You
4. By the Numbers
5. Black Pearls
6. Lover Come Back to Me

1. Sweet Sapphire Blues
2. Spring Is Here
3. Invitation
4. I'm a Dreamer (Aren't We All)
5. Love Thy Neighbor
6. Don't Take Your Love From Me
7. Stardust

1. My Ideal
2. I'll Get By (As Long as I Have You)
3. Do I Love You Because You Are Beautiful
4. Then I'll Be Tired of You
5. Something I Dreamed Last Night
6. Bahia
7. Goldsboro Express
8. Time After Time

About Craft Recordings:
Craft Recordings is home to one of the largest and most prestigious collections of master recordings and compositions in the world. Its rich and storied repertoire includes legendary artists such as Joan Baez, Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Vince Guaraldi, John Lee Hooker, Little Richard, Nine Inch Nails, Thelonious Monk, Otis Redding, R.E.M. and Traveling Wilburys, to name just a few. Renowned imprints with catalogs issued under the Craft banner include Concord, Fania, Fantasy, Milestone, Musart, Nitro, Prestige, Riverside, Rounder, Specialty, Stax, Sugar Hill, Vanguard and Vee-Jay Records, among many others. Craft creates thoughtfully curated packages, with a meticulous devotion to quality and a commitment to preservation-ensuring that these recordings endure for new generations to discover. Craft Recordings is the catalog label team for Concord Music. For more info, visit and follow on FacebookTwitterInstagram, YouTube, andSpotify.