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Warren Wolf: Convergence [All About Jazz]

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The paucity of jazz vibraphonists may be due in part to the complexity of mastering an instrument that's like a hybrid of drums, percussion and piano. Notwithstanding, one of the instrument's brightest stars is 36 year old Baltimore native Warren Wolf, a rising virtuoso whose form and technical abilities continue the lineage of great vibe players such as Milt Jackson, Bobby Hutcherson and Stefon Harris


Convergence is outstanding and features Wolf's superb trio with longtime mentor bassist Christian McBride and the dynamic drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts in a diverse mix up-tempo, ballad, and swing compositions. The icing on the cake comes in the guest appearance of jazz luminaries guitarist John Scofield on the funky boogaloo "Soul Sisters" and pianist Brad Mehldau's spacious delivery in the tone poem "Four Stars from Heaven" both which are two of the recordings many highlights.

The cover of late Bobby Hutcherson's "Montara" may be album's most memorable track with a chilled theme that recalls yet another pioneer vibraphonist Roy Ayers. Its motif is simple perfection: a threaded ostinato where Wolf lays down a soulful soliloquy on marimba while McBride and Watts go deep into the rhythmic pocket. It's a fitting ode to the great legacy of Hutcherson who passed on August 15, 2016.

Wolf's appreciation of the history, his suave control, sensitive touch and fierce percussive skills are not the only qualities which resonate. He's also serving up new memories of timeless gem in poignant covers of Stevie Wonder's "Knocks Me Off My Feet" and "Stardust / The Minute Waltz" which uniquely combines Hoagy Carmichael's classic "Stardust" with Chopin's "The Minute Waltz." Wolf does it all brilliantly.


Track Listing: Soul Sisters; Four Stars From Heaven; King Of Two Fives; New Beginning; Cell Phone; Montara; Havoc; Tergiversation; Knocks Me Off My Feet; A Prayer For The Christian Man; Stardust / The Minute Waltz.

Personnel: Warren Wolf: vibes, marimba (5, 6, 9, 10, 11), Fender Rhodes (2, 9), piano (9); Christian McBride: bass (1-3, 5-10); Brad Mehldau: piano (1, 2, 4, 5, 7); John Scofield (1, 7); Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums (1, 2, 5-10).

Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Mack Avenue Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Read the full piece from: All About Jazz

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Raul Midon hits the road for US Tour, finishes new album [SoulTracks]

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Singer-songwriter and guitarist Raul Midón is one of music's most distinctive and searching voices. He is "a one-man band who turns a guitar into an orchestra and his voice into a chorus," according to The New York Times. With eight studio albums under his belt, Raul has just wrapped another studio project, slated for a March 2017 release on Mack Avenue Records. In the meantime, Raul has announced a U.S. tour for September that takes him from coast to coast. We can’t wait to hear his new music! 


Read the full piece from: SoulTracks

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Cecile McLorin Salvant [San Diego Union-Tribune]

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“I never really wanted to play the piano — I was not an enthusiastic student! — but my mother kept me at it for 13 years. She’s a very strong woman and I’m afraid of her, slightly!” Salvant said backstage  shortly after accepting her 2016 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album for “For One to Love” (Mack Avenue Records), a 13-song aural gem that shines throughout.


Read the full piece from: San Diego Union-Tribune

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“SOUNDS OF SUMMER” WITH JOHN BEASLEY’S MONKESTRA

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Read the full piece from: Bonnie Johnson "Colors of Jazz" WICN.org

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Dominick Farinacci “​Short Stories” [Hot House Jazz]

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Short Stories, Dominick Farinacci (Mack Avenue), finds the 30-something trumpeter fashioning often sophisticated, elaborate versions of tunes culled from the worlds of pop, folk and jazz into distinctive, highly suggestive narrative arcs. The producer is famed pop music auteur Tommy LiPuma who, like the trumpeter, is a native of Cleveland. The production is sleek and lush, recalling the pristine sounds and urbane tastes of mid-20th Century albums from the labels of Creed Taylor, whose CTI brand signaled jazz sophistication.

The rhythm section features not only pianist Larry Goldings, often doubling on organ, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Steve Gadd, but often adds legendary session guitarist Dean Parks and percussionist Jamey Haddad, with Gil Goldstein playing accordion on four of the ten tracks. Six tunes also add a string and woodwind sextet, while two others feature vocals and electronic instruments from Jacob Collier.

A New Orleans R&B vibe infuses the opener, the Gypsy Kings’ “Bamboleo,” Dominick paying tribute to his Louis Armstrong roots, especially in the stop-time breaks, surrounded by churning rhythm and full ensemble sections and echoed by Mark Mauldin’s trombone (in its only appearance). Percussive shakes and rattles add to the south of the border flavor of Horace Silver’s “Senor Blues,” with multi-vocals from Jacob Collier, and the leader’s “Afternoon in Puebla” as well as Dianne Reeves’ “Tango.” Arabic scales and the muezzin-like vocals of Lebanese singer Mike Massy highlight Dominick’s “Doha Blues,” inspired by his time in Qatar.

The most lyrical period of Miles Davis and Gil Evans inspires a lush version of Tom Waits’ “Soldier’s Things,” trumpet caressed by the strings and woodwinds. Another outstanding ballad track is the standard “Black Coffee,” featuring Dominick’s one foray into plunger and muted trumpet. Two songs are appropriated from the pop charts: Cream’s early rock hit, “Sunshine of Your Love,” riding on the original bass riff jazzily swung; and the 2013 Grammy Record of the Year, “Somebody That I Used to Know,” given an electronic treatment and Beach Boys-like vocal harmonies by Jacob. Larry contributes the sly, tongue-in-cheek finale, “Parlour Song.”


Read the full piece from: Hot House Jazz

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John Beasley MONK’estra Review [DownBeat Editor’s Pick]

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BY ED ENRIGHT

John Beasley, Presents MONK’estra Vol. 1 (Mack Avenue)
The first time I listened to this album in my car, I nearly missed my exit on the expressway. There is so much hep stuff happening in these new big band arrangements of tunes by Thelonious Monk that I was transported to another realm, one where the car seems capable of driving itself. Then it struck me: That’s precisely what’s happening with these charts and this ensemble of L.A.’s finest musicians and special guests, all under the direction of pianist/conductor/arranger John Beasley. Everything on Presents MONK’estra Vol. 1 feels so natural and inevitable, it’s almost as if the material plays itself. And if you enjoy Monk—whether for his undeniable logic, quirky song architecture or innate sense of swing—Beasley’s band will leave you rapt. Beasley has been writing big band charts since he was a teenager, and he has long been fascinated by Monk’s music (this debut recording by the MONK’estra is actually Beasley’s third album of material by the High Priest of Bebop). Beasley’s MONK’estra has performed live since 2013, and he has served as musical director for the Monk Institute’s Jazz Day gala concerts since 2011 and for International Jazz Day events since 2012. (He has done plenty of commercial work as well, most notably as the lead arranger for TV’s American Idol from 2005 to 2016.) Beasley knows his Monk inside and out, and he knows his way around a chart. But, most importantly, this onetime member of groups led by Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis knows how to give his bandmembers—including guest stars Gary Burton on vibes (“Epistrophy”) and Grégoire Maret on harmonica (“Ask Me Now”)—sufficient freedom to stylize the written passages and improvise with abandon. In applying all of his acquired skills and personal passions to Presents MONK’estra Vol. 1, Beasley brings Monk to life once again for modern-minded listeners.


Read the full piece from: Downbeat

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Steve Cole “Turn It Up” [Review: Smooth Jazz Magazine]

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It's classic Cole on "Turn It Up" and "She's The One." His signature sax harmonies and up-beat melodies take over and has just the right snap and sauciness to have you craving more.



"Reverence" slows it down a bit (or one may think). If you listen really carefully you'll hear every note from every instrument; from the acoustical guitar peeping through, to the soft beats and percussion. Then there's Steve coming in strong on sax. One of the things I like about Steve, he can make it sound as soft and sexy as you want (remember "Stay Awhile" from his 1998 debut CD) or he can go strong and blow you away. That takes talent, and talent he has!


Read the full piece from: Smooth Jazz Magazine

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Warren Wolf, vibes – Convergence – [Review: Audiophile Audition]

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There was a period back in the 1970s or so, when rock supergroups were all the rage with the likes of Cream, Traffic, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young among others. Jazz never quite went in that direction apart from the unintended exception of The Quintet ( which came together for one performance only at Massey Hall, Toronto in 1953, and the historic recording that followed) and perhaps VSOP. One never quite thought of the classic Bill Evans Trio or Oscar Peterson Trio or the original Miles Davis Quintet along those lines although it would have been possible to do so. The Warren Wolf release Convergence has combined star power and individuality, and thus has all the attributes of a supergroup. Thankfully no such promotional efforts have detracted from the breadth and scope of the originality of the music coming from this band.

With a judicious mix of original material and covers of popular music, Wolf and his cohorts bring their ‘A’ game to the recording studio under the practiced ear of producer Christian McBride. “Soul Sister” is a perfect opener with its Latin/funky groove, that serves as a feature for Scofield’s wickedly bluesy guitar, followed by Wolf’s sonorous vibes, as Watts pushes the band forward with his pulsating beat.


Read the full piece from: Audiophile Audition

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Re-Defining a Life After Fighting the Taliban

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Asa performing artist, I’m fortunate to travel all over the globe. Through the years, music has gone from something that was just fun to do to as much a part of my life as breathing. It’s become increasingly clear to me that it has the power to bring people of different walks of life together, to help foster a deeper understanding of each other, to bring comfort to those going through a difficult time, and to shine a light on an important topic. These experiences are the culmination of a new series called Short Stories — bringing together music and real life stories to encourage dialogue around an important message in our society.


Read the full piece from: medium.com - Dominick Farinacci

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Kenny Garrett: Do Your Dance! [Review: WBGO]

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I have a confession to make: Kenny Garrett is the first musician that has ever made me cry during a live performance. I’ll never forget it. Kenny has a way of speaking through his saxophone in such a way that it does something to your spirit…..and you find your soul talking back. And yes, dancing is something I’ve also done to Kenny’s music, and something I found myself doing to this new album from the very start.


Read the full piece from: WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM

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Empathy personified: Dominick Farinacci debuts ‘Short Stories’ on trumpet

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A jazz musician who listens — that’s trumpeter, composer, and humanitarian Dominick Farinacci, 33. His debut album on Mack Avenue Records employs an all-star, all-you-desire global cast all over short stories in lovely, empathic musical snippets, with and without vocals. Designed to uplift the human race through shared emotional upheavals and walks in someone else’s shoes, Farinacci’s Short Stories succeeds where other recordings fail.

With Farinacci’s singular trumpet action woven throughout glimpses into the lives of the familiar and the exotic, Short Stories drips with human emotion, whether it’s the feeling you get when love ripples through like a thunder storm, or a visit to a foreign place of the ancient and the modern (Qatar).

Unlike most jazz recordings, Farinacci pinpoints feelings of pure ecstasy, wonder, and immaculate inception over love, spirituality, the despair of war with eerie accuracy, and immense empathy.

The musicians on Farinacci’s album of empirical empathy are the best ones for the job of fleshing out the wounds and banners of the indomitable, surprising human spirit. They include Grammy-winning bassist Christian McBride, Modern Drummer Hall of Fame inductee Steve Gadd, prolific keyboard composer Larry Goldings, Lebanese hand drummer Jamey Haddad, London hip mixologist Jacob Collier, and multi-Grammy-winning producer Tommy LiPuma (Paul McCartney, Miles Davis, Barbra Streisand, Diana Krall, George Benson, Natalie Cole).

This isn’t just a one-off recording, either. Farinacci’s understanding of human suffering and the art of redemption goes much, much deeper into effective activism. Together with LiPuma, 79, he’s built substantial solutions to the problem of lack in this world. They helped conceive and build the Cuyahoga Community College’s Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts in Cleveland, Ohio, where both artists are from. They and the recording band conducted workshop sessions for the students and filmed the entire process with GoPro cameras.


Read the full piece from: AXS.com

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NY Times: Jazz Listings for June 3-9

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He’s celebrating the release of “Short Stories,” an album whose personnel includes the pianist Larry Goldings, the bassist Christian McBride and the drummer Steve Gadd. (His band won’t have quite the same star power here.) At 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, 60th Street and Broadway, 212-258-9595, jazz.org. (Chinen)


Read the full piece from: NY Times

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Wynton Marsalis and Christian McBride Wow The Crowd at Inside The Jazz Note

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The chemistry between McBride and Marsalis, who first met when McBride was still in high school and Marsalis, in his 20s, was already a rising star. Marsalis recognized McBride’s talent, saying how he knew when he saw McBride play that he was going to be amazing talent because no one else was playing bass like McBride. The mutual respect and admiration the two had was poignant as was Marsalis’ sharing of his own musical journey, including experiences growing up and some of the obstacles he encountered (as well as some funny anecdotes about Marsalis’ mother).

Marsalis shared what it was like growing up in New Orleans and how he decided to leave to attend Juilliard. “I didn’t like all the racism,” says Marsalis of coming up in New Orleans. “I grew up in segregation and I didn’t like to be messed with or disrespected on any level. The disrespect was too much.”


Read the full piece from: Baristanet.com

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Cecile McLorin Salvant Brings Theatricality, Musicality to Spoleto Jazz Series

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Grammy-winning vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant is gaining renown in Europe and the US for her interpretations of classic jazz standards. Radio France describes her voice as "disarmingly musical” with “the class of Sarah Vaughn, the instinct of Betty Carter and the dark lows of Carmen McCrae.” In 2010, she won the Thelonious Monk Competition in Washington, DC. At this year’s Spoleto Festival, she’ll perform original songs from her 2015 album, For One to Love. Cecile McLorin Salvant performs Friday, June 3rd at 9pm at the College of Charleston Cistern Yard.


Read the full piece from: South Carolina Public Radio

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Brian Bromberg

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The first actually involves Bromberg's back. Full Circle marks Bromberg's return to recording and full-on playing since suffering a debilitating spinal injury several years ago. Always a chops-meister, Bromberg truly projects the sheer joy of music-making throughout. Cutting loose seems like a great thing to do, as Bromberg could barely hold his instruments, let alone play them, even after months of physical therapy and rehabilitation. Now returned to his former strength, Full Circle is also Bromberg's first "true jazz" album. There is obviously some risk involved in such a move, as Bromberg has been, first and foremost, a high-energy jazz-rock fusion artist. Though fans of Bromberg's previous albums may find Full Circle to be a little... um... disorienting, they will certainly be pleased by the virtuosic super-tight playing throughout, guest shots by high-profile artists such as Arturo Sandoval, Kirk Whalum, Mitchel Forman, and Bob Sheppard, and the album's ultra-high-gloss production values.

Backstories two and three are Bromberg's return to drumming after forty-odd years, and the dedication of Full Circle to his dad, Howard Bromberg. It turns out that Brian Bromberg's first instrument was the drum set, on which he modeled himself after his father. Bromberg père was an aspiring bebop drummer who was on the brink of a jazz career when military service took him to Tucson, AZ where he married and started a family. Howard kept his sticks at the ready, playing frequently on the local scene. He taught his sons how to play the drums, as well. Brian, however, fell in love with the bass and the rest—as they say—is history. The album is bookended by two recordings Howard Bromberg made with his Tucson-based band about 65 years ago. Using 21st Century technology Brian was able to isolate his father's drum track, along with the trumpet and trombone of Jimmy Saunders and Phil Washburn, and accompany the trio—via overdubbing—on two classic Dixieland pieces. These tracks stand as a sweet and heartfelt tribute, and they are quite enjoyable. 


Read the full piece from: All About Jazz

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Alfredo Rodriguez: Tocororo review - heading in new and unorthodox directions

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Not that the Havana native has abandoned his roots: the Tocororo is the national bird of Cuba, and the album opens with a deft exploration of Compay Segundo’s Chan Chan, which also opens the all-conquering Buena Vista Social Club album.

His collaborations with Indian vocalist Ganavaya Doraiswamy, French-Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf and, especially, the great Cameroonian bassist Richard Bona, take the Cuban virtues of rhythmic precision and heart-on-the-sleeve romanticism in new and unorthodox directions.


Read the full piece from: Irish Times

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****RINGER OF THE WEEK****Brian Bromberg: Full Circle

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Brian Bromberg is one of those consummate bass players around. A highly respected studio stud, he’s released some amazing albums ranging from “smooth” jazz to Hendrix tributes. Here, he picks, plucks strums and even hits just about everything, as he’s on acoustic bass, electic bass, piccolo bass and even drums along with a mix and match team and attitude with Randy Waldman/p and a horn section that changes partners like Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutti.

The jazz styles actually do run as the title of the album suggests, with a full circle of swing, starting and ending with some fantastic jive on “Jazz Me Blues” and “Washington and Lee Swing” that could be mistaken for a broadcast from the Roseland Ballroom as Phil Washburn/tb and Jimmy Saunders wail for the Lindy Hoppers. In other instances, you might feel like you’re sitting in on a Wes Montgomery Riverside studio session in Hackensack NJ, as Mitch Forman’s B3 grooves out to Bromberg’s guitar like bass on “Sneaky Pete” and some tight sounds sizzle on trio work with Doug Webb’s beefy sax on “Boomerang” and “Bernie’s Bop.” You even get some sweaty salsa as Arturo Sandoval smokes like a Romeo & Juliet on “Havana Nights” and even better is the Crescent City two stepping on “Naw’lins” with Kirk Whalum preaching from the pulpit.

Some day, people are going to look back on Bromberg’s catalogue and wonder why they didn’t appreciate him back ‘in the day.’ This is the day to start!


Read the full piece from: JazzWeekly.com

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Jazz, soul, blues musicians reveal surprising pre-show   rituals

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Cyrillic Aimée (Let’s Get Lost): Actually, I love having my personal moment to put on makeup before the show. It relaxes me and concentrates me. Plus, I get to have a moment without the boys, and sometimes, while I put on my makeup, I listen to a podcast (RadioLab), or to some comedy (Louis CK). I really enjoy putting it on more than I enjoy wearing it!

I used to never wear makeup, on- or off-stage, and one summer, I went on tour with a very popular electro-swing band called Caravan Palace, and we were playing in front of huge audiences of thousands of people, and when I would see the photos of the concert, I couldn't see my eyes in any of them! I realized that onstage is not like in real life. You have to wear makeup, because of the spotlights and the fact that the audience can be far away. So I bought some makeup and started learning and realized I liked doing it.


Read the full piece from: AXS.com

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Alfredo Rodriguez: Jazz pianist talks about leaving Cuba; new album ‘Tocororo’

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The Caribbean island of Cuba has been in the news a lot lately, mostly in conjunction with the “thawing” of relationships between the nation and the United States, something that will allow for a greater cultural exchange between the two countries. Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez left the island quite some time ago and is now enjoying a life in the US where he works with vaunted musician and producer Quincy Jones. The most recent fruit of their combined labors is Rodriguez’s new album, Tocororo. Rodriguez is currently on tour in the US and he’ll also be appearing with Jones at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland in July.

We had a chance to speak by email with Rodriguez, who talked about working with Jones and why the album is called Tocororo while also speaking candidly about making the difficult decision to leave Cuba. His insights below are given exclusively to AXS.com.


Read the full piece from: AXS.com

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Busy performer Christian McBride is about to become ubiquitous

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All of this comes as he settles into his new role as Newport’s artistic director, succeeding the festival’s legendary cofounder, George Wein.

McBride was already juggling assorted off-stage roles — most prominently hosting National Public Radio’s “Jazz Night in America” — when Wein announced in March that he was handing over the artistic director gig, and promoting Danny Melnick to producer. But McBride knew all along he would remain an active musician.


Read the full piece from: Boston Globe

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Yellowjackets: Coherence [REVIEW: Jazz Weekly]

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Russell Ferrante and Bob Mintzer are still around, with Dane Alderson/b and William Kennedy/dr-synth being the newest members since Haslip and Bailey have moved on. The team still sounds together, comfortable in the mix of acoustic and electric on this latest album.

The band can still churn out exciting new material, such as “Golden State” which sounds like the hustle and bustle of LA traffic with Ferrante’s hectic piano and Mintzer’s lane changing tenor. Newer members Kennedy’s ride cymbal pushes the jagged edges and mysterious piano on “Guarded Optimism” and Alderson’s bass work around Ferrante’s fingers on “Anticipation” is warm and deft.

The quartet also does some respectful tributes to tenor players of the past; Eddie Harris is felt on the soulful and funky “Eddie’s in the House” with an irresistible soul groove, and John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” is reworked with some draping strings, reharmonization and countermelody to give it a more cerebral celebration. Hints of Weather Report are delivered on the playful “Fran’s Dance” while the traditional American tune “Shanendoah” spotlights Mintzer’s glowing tenor.


Read the full piece from: JazzWeekly.com

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Cyrille Aimée: Let’s Get Lost (REVIEW - Latin Jazz Network)

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The record is beautiful and Aimée’s voice is light and limpid, though not without metal. Her roles as the character in these narratives are almost soubrette-ish. Her diction is truly exceptional throughout and impressive in both English and French – and it would seem nearly as good in Spanish too. And there is evidence of real imagination behind her programmes and her interpretations.

This is a bright and chirpy album. Both her last two albums are just so. Her singing is deeply expressive, yet she is far too intelligent a musician ever to be for a moment self-indulgent or self-conscious.


Read the full piece from: LatinJazzNet.com

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Cecile McLorin [email protected] Hall UCSB 04.27.16

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Salvant has a unique way of turning a song from a simple melody with rhythm into a audible painting, creating intricate textures not unlike a Monet as she goes from a swinging bop feel on “Nothing Like You” but yet twist and turn it into a taffy pull. Her talent for dynamics made her throw out lyrics like a slingshot on “Let’s Face The Music and Dance” whereas the pop 60s hit “Wives and Lovers” mixed prismatic harmonics with kinetic undercurrents by the rhythm team, with the opposing tensions creating an agonizingly glorious contrast.


Read the full piece from: JazzWeekly.com

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Yellowjackets Showcase New Bassist, Fresh Material at Birdland

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Prior to recording the album, the band had road-tested the new tunes during a European tour, including an extended run in London.

For the 11 p.m. set, attendance was strong, particularly for a Tuesday night. With the band’s current lineup—Bob Mintzer on saxophones and EWI, Russell Ferrante on keyboards, Will Kennedy on drums and Australian Dane Alderson, a new addition, on bass (replacing Felix Pastorius)—a more straightahead character is evident, with a lesser degree of fusion bite.


The opening number, “Spirit Of The West” (from 1998’s Club Nocturne), held a guileless cheerfulness, romping with pan-piping synth sounds and warbly bass. Even less than a decade ago, this band had a harder sound, which now seems diluted to a pastoral lightness.


Read the full piece from: DownBeat.com

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Living A Childhood Dream: Music Was Always A Part Of Herlin Riley’s Life

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“As a toddler, my uncles [saxophonist] David Lastie, [trumpeter] Melvin Lastie and [drummer] Walter Lastie had a band, the Lastie Brothers Combo. They would rehearse at my grandparents’ house and with me being there, I got to hear the music. I heard ‘Moanin’’ and ‘Sister Sadie.’ So music was always a part of me.”

Riley’s uncles and grandfather, who played drums in the church, were his first influences in his upward-spiraling career of over 40 years. At 59, Riley is considered one of the finest and most unique jazz drummers in the world and stands strongly in New Orleans’ impressive drum lineage, one that includes Ed Blackwell, James Black, Earl Palmer, Smokey Johnson, Idris Muhammad and more. Those legends too were influential in his development.


Read the full piece from: OffBeat Magazine

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Herlin Riley Quintet, Jazz Tent

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With great spirit and animation he travels the African diaspora from Congo Square to his Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood, to New York and beyond. Riley celebrates his strikingly good album New Direction with the guys who joined him in its making – pianist Emmet Cohen, bassist Russell Hall, trumpeter Bruce Harris and saxophonist Godwin Louis. You want the best, you got the best.


Read the full piece from: Louisiana Weekly

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Hear Now: 5 New Jazz Albums You Need to Check Out

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Julian Lage, Arclight (March 11, Mack Avenue Records)

The album starts with a slightly modified rock beat (“Fortune Teller”), and digs in from there -- an emphasis on melody and a lack of politeness set help Lage set himself apart from jazz guitar’s often florid tradition. Notes of prog stay “jazzy” with the sparse ensemble, while Lage’s lyric gift leaves the listener with melodies likely to endure even after just one listen. Even “Nocturne,” though gentle, won’t necessarily lull you to sleep (though it’s not out of the question the song could end up alongside Ed Sheeran on some tactical Spotify playlist). Lage’s inventive arrangements will engage even the most intimidated of jazz listeners, and his omnivorous, memorable flights will keep them on the hook.


Read the full piece from: Billboard.com

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Barack Obama to host International Jazz Day concert at White House

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Barack Obama and wife Michelle have announced plans to hold a concert next month, featuring a string of musical legends including Aretha Franklin, Al Jarreau, Sting and Herbie Hancock.

Other performers on the day will include Joey Alexander, Terence Blanchard, Kris Bowers, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Till Brönner, Terri Lyne Carrington, Chick Corea, Jamie Cullum, Kurt Elling, Robert Glasper, Buddy Guy, Dave Holland, Zakir Hussain, Diana Krall, Lionel Loueke, Hugh Masekela, Christian McBride, John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, Marcus Miller, James Morrison, Danilo Pérez, Rebirth Brass Band, Dianne Reeves, Lee Ritenour, David Sánchez, Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Trombone Shorty, Chucho Valdés, Bobby Watson and Ben Williams. John Beasley is overall musical director.


Read the full piece from: The Guardian

Danilo Pérez: A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama

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Ever since he returned to perform in his war-torn homeland in the 1980s, he's seen the potential for jazz to be a vehicle for social change, and spent much of his time offstage seeding this vision in the form of youth music education programs. The Panama Jazz Festival he founded, for instance, doesn't just feature major international acts — it brings students from all sorts of backgrounds to share the stage, and funnels profits back to them.


Read the full piece from: NPR.org

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Herlin Riley – New Direction – Mack Avenue

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In this release New Direction, he heads a band of young whipper-snappers, who dive into a set list of mostly Herlin Riley originals that run the gamut of styles, but are still jazz-oriented.

The title track “New Direction” kicks things off in exemplary fashion with Riley laying down a rhythmic direction that signifies his inventiveness, with pianist Cohen offering an inspired solo, and guitarist Mark Whitfield demonstrating why he was included in this session. “Spring Fantasy” is a Latin infused number with a bluesy feel, that has some stellar alto work by Godwin Louis. Pianist Cohen also shows some smart single-note playing.


Read the full piece from: Audiophile Audition

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Bassist Christian McBride helms the Mack Avenue Superband at the Triple Door on Tuesday, April 5

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A scaled-down quintet version of the ensemble appears in Seattle next week, with bassist Christian McBride at the helm, plus two saxophonists: Kirk Whalum, playing tenor in a muscular, straight-ahead style that might surprise his smooth-jazz fans, and husky-toned altoist Tia Fuller, who has burning bebop chops. The group, which writes its own tunes and arrangements, is rounded out by Carl Allen (drums) and McBride’s regular trio pianist, Christian Sands.


Read the full piece from: Seattle Times

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The Irish Times: Julian Lage – Arclight: guitar virtuoso finally goes electric

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Not just any electric guitar, mind you, but a Fender Telecaster, which brings out a welcome country twang in Lage’s formerly suave, sophisticated melodic imagination. The mood veers from tender to raucous, with echoes of Bill Frisell and particularly Jim Hall, whose erstwhile colleagues, bass player Scott Colley and drummer Kenny Wollensen, make up the sensitive, ever-responsive rhythm section.


Read the full piece from: The Irish Times

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LondonJazz News: Julian Lage - Arclight

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Like the Arclight of the title, this is jazz that glows with a simple intensity that throws light on what’s possible with six strings and an unlimited imagination. Released on 11 March, Arclight is Lage’s first release with the Mack Avenue label and also his debut electric guitar album. However, unlike Dylan’s decision to go electric, Lage’s selection of electric guitar - specifically, a Fender Telecaster, “the most refined embodiment of the modern guitar” as Lage puts its - seems a sensible choice for a guitarist looking for the next step in his development as an artist.


Read the full piece from: LondonJazz News

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NPR: On ‘Tocororo,’ Alfredo Rodriguez Brings Cuba To The World — And The World To Cuba

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Tocororo is equal parts sophistication and sincerity. It's the sound of a prodigiously talented Cuban embracing the wider world of music. Best of all, the album resonates with the possibility of all the other new music we'll discover as Cuba itself opens up to the world.


Read the full piece from: NPR All Things Considered

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All About Jazz: Julian Lage - Arclight

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The end result is a brisk but bracing affair, with few cuts lasting over four minutes. Lage and company spin minor variations on each of the catchy numbers' melodic, harmonic and rhythmic foundations without undue extrapolation—an approach suggested by producer and singer-songwriter Jesse Harris, who wisely encouraged the trio to stick with first takes, capturing the spontaneous energy of their initial renditions.


Read the full piece from: All About Jazz

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Jazz Weekly: Alfredo Rodriguez - Tocororo

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Pianist Alfredo Rodriguez is living up to the promise that producer/discoverer Quincy Jones initially saw in the Cuban exile a number of years ago. Each album has had its own personality and has shown growth in terms of style and composing skills...Each song has a lyrical simplicity, yet with enough richness in delivery and tecnnique to make you come back for more. Bravo.


Read the full piece from: Jazz Weekly

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The White House: “In Performance at the White House: A Tribute to Ray Charles”

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On stage and in the studio, Ray did it all -- jazz, R&B, rock and roll, pop. He even helped bring the country music he loved to a broader audience. But whatever genre of music he was playing, there was no mistaking his singular sound –- that virtuoso piano playing that matched that one-of-a-kind voice. Even as a young man, he had the rich, raw honey tone of an old soul. No matter the feeling -– whether it was love, longing, or loss -– Ray Charles had the rare ability to collapse our weightiest emotions into a single note. And from the tiny clubs in which he started out to the arenas that he eventually filled, Ray was an electrifying performer. He couldn’t see us, but we couldn’t take our eyes off of him.


Read the full piece from: The White House

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New York Observer: With a Timeless Voice, Cyrille Aimée Revitalizes Classics on ‘Let’s Get Lost’

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It’s kind of a continuation of my last album, It’s A Good Day. It’s the same band, and if It’s A Good Day was the sun, Let’s Get Lost is the moon. The band was created in the studio for the last album, and I had the band in my head before that, and the idea of having these two completely different sounding guitars come together on it. I had no idea how it was going to sound, and Michael, the electric guitar player, lives in Brooklyn and we worked on arranging and he had a great guitar view of the arrangements in a way where one wouldn’t stomp on the other’s toes.


Read the full piece from: New York Observer

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New York Times: Herlin Riley Commands Attention on ‘New Direction’

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Mr. Riley, who just turned 59, has been a shining exemplar of New Orleans rhythm — as a cultural study, a living language and a model of hybridity — since emerging on the national scene in the 1980s. Working first with the pianist Ahmad Jamal, and then the trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, he established a reputation for his commanding yet ebullient groove. That irresistible force provides the foundation for “New Direction,” but not as an end unto itself.


Read the full piece from: New York Times

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Grammys 2016: Cécile McLorin Salvant and Maria Schneider are among the jazz winners

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Bassist Christian McBride (also) won the Grammy Award for best improvised solo for his work on "Cherokee" from his trio album "Live at the Village Vanguard," which bested work from Alexander as well as Joshua Redman, John Scofield and saxophonist Donny McCaslin.


Read the full piece from: the LA Times

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DownBeat: Aimée Showcases New Album with Dazzling Set in St. Louis

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Aimée showcased her linguistic and musical range by covering a rarely performed Edith Piaf ballad, “T’es Beau Tu Sais,” then singing “Estrellitas Y Duendes,” written by the Dominican pop star Juan Luis Guerra. The combination reflected the musical influences of her French father and her mother’s Dominican heritage. Valeanu and Danor added a bolero feel to the Piaf tune, and Moignard and Valeanu seamlessly traded bright guitar riffs on the Guerra song.


Read the full piece from: DownBeat

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Boston Globe: Mack Avenue SuperBand Wows at Berklee

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The bulk of the set consisted of a composition apiece by each musician. Fuller’s challenging “Decisive Steps,” she said, is a distillation of what she always advises students about “moving forward in faith and not fear,” and she practiced what she preaches on her roaring alto solo. McBride’s “Paint Brushes” came next, Burton supplying an intro and the bassist wrapping up the soloing with one of his own. Jones’s “Gretchen” was written as Christmas approached, for Mack Avenue founder Gretchen Valade, and he joked that “Contrary to popular belief, trumpet players can write pretty songs” — his lovely waltz proving the point, greatly aided by his own gorgeous flugelhorn solo.


Read the full piece from: Boston Globe

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SoulTracks: Mack Avenue SuperBand - Live From the Detroit Jazz Festival 2015 Review

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The familiarity returns once this ensemble begins to play because whether the SuperBand reinterprets standards, contemporary pop and gospel tunes or plays their own originals, the virtues that distinguish previous Live From the Detroit Jazz Festival albums are manifestly present on this effort. Jazz, perhaps more than all other genres, is best appreciated when heard live because that’s when the notes on those charts become three dimensional, as the musicians engage in instrumental conversation and use the notes written on the page as a runway for creative flight.


Read the full piece from: SoulTracks

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Mack Avenue Superband – Live From The Detroit Jazz Festival 2015

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This iteration of the “Superband” fulfils all the promise that the names attached to the project impart. With the exception of “Test Of Time” by Makoto Ozone, the remaining numbers were all composed by members of the band, starting with “Preach Hank!” by tenor saxophonist Kirk Whalum. In a nod to the great R&B saxophonist Hank Crawford, the band gives soulful reading of the number, with the composer Whalum rocking out his solo and trumpeter Freddie Hendrix filling the air with his high notes. All of the band members take a piece of the action with exuberance.


Read the full piece from: - Audiophile Audition

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Newtown dad’s album honoring daughter earns Grammy nominations

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Jazz saxophonist Jimmy Greene is a double Grammy nominee for an album that pays tribute to his daughter. Two years after Ana was killed in the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the musician released "Beautiful Life" -- his first album since the tragedy, reports "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King. Greene described music as "the language that kicks in when words don't suffice."


Read the full piece from: CBS News

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Revive: Cyrille Aimée Shares Delightful Rendition Of “Three Little Words”

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The 12-track gem includes guitarists Adrien Moignard and Michael Valeanu, bassist Sam Anning, and Raj Jayaweera on the kit — the same ensemble that was featured at the helm on It’s A Good Day. In preparation for Let’s Get Lost‘s January 22nd release, we are excited to premiere Aimée’s fun up-tempo rendition of Harry Ruby’s classic standard, “Three Little Words.” Opening at a blistering tempo, you can’t help but admire Jayaweera’s impressive brush work underneath Moignard and Valeanu’s light yet assertive guitar comping.


Read the full piece from: Revive-Music

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New York Times - The Year in Music Videos

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For her unblinking cover of “Wives and Lovers” — a curdled artifact from the early 1960s, by Burt Bacharach and Hal David — the jazz singer Cécile McLorin Salvant devised an ingeniously simple visual concept. This clip has a blank backdrop, a blood-red filter (also as in red flag, red light, flashing sirens) and just two human figures: Ms. Salvant and Storyboard P, the brilliant flex dancer, who turns the song’s distressingly sexist message nearly inside out.


Read the full piece from: the New York Times

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All the Best Concerts, of What the Critics Have Seen

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Cécile McLorin Salvant Jazz Standard, Aug. 25: It’s not just deep mastery of a historical tradition that sets Ms. Salvant apart as a jazz singer. As she showed in this coolly intoxicating set, she’s also working with a rare set of critical tools, and the ability to make a roomful of listeners feel like sly accomplices.


Read the full piece from: the New York Times

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Top tens: our favorite albums of the year

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Beyond consensus, however, these groups include a significant spectrum of women — nearly half of the total — in both traditional and transgressive roles. Not just Adele, now in a class by herself, but new stars Kacey Musgraves (country), Courtney Barnett (indie rock), Cecile McLorin Salvant (jazz), Elle King (rock ’n’ soul) and Rhiannon Giddens (neo-folk roots)...


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2015 Year End Video

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A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you from all of us at Mack Avenue!


Read the full piece from:

Julian Lage on Tour Spring 2016

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On the guitar + singing front, Chris Eldridge and I were thrilled to finally come out to the west coast this fall to perform, finishing our year at the Fretboard Summit alongside our fellow guitar lovers. Chris and I have entered the proverbial “bat cave” with an eye on a project we are very excited to share when the time is right!

2015 also saw the beginning of a new collaboration with John Zorn, in the form of performing his Bagatelles with one of my favorite guitarists, Gyan Riley. This is music that (for the time being) only exists in the live format: either at The Stone or on the road, so we hope to see you at one of our shows soon!

Finally, this year represented the beginning of my newly formed trio, featuring Scott Colley and Kenny Wollesen, a project I have been fantasizing about ever since I was very young. We have some exciting news to share in the new year. in the meantime, I want to thank you all so dearly for coming out, your support and amazing energy! I cannot wait to see on the road you soon!

- Julian


2016 Touring

Nels Cline + Julian Lage European Tour:

16 Feb - Ljubljana, SI - Cankarjev Dom Ticket Info TBD
17 Feb - Warsaw, PL - Pardon To TuTicket Info TBD19 Feb - Wels, AT - Alter Schlachtof Wels
Tickets
20 Feb - Ferrara, IT - Jazz Club Ferrara
Tickets
21 Feb - Muri, CH - Pflegidach - Pflegi MuriTicket Info TBD23 Feb - Bremen, DE - MOMENTS
Tickets
24 Feb - Milano, IT - Blue Note MilanoTicket Info TBD26 Feb - Groningen, NL - Grand Theatre GroningenTickets
29 Feb - Bozen, IT - Bozar
Tickets
2 Mar - Brussels, BE - TBDTicket Info TBD3 Mar - Amsterdam, NL - BimhuisTicket Info TBD

Julian Lage (Trio Configuration):

3/ 6 - Cambridge, MA - Club Passim (Two Shows)
Early Show: Tickets
Late Show: Tickets
3/8 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's
Tickets
3/10 - New York, NY - Rockwood #2
Tickets
4/6 - Savannah, GA - Savannah Music Festival
Tickets
4/23 - Morrow, GA - Spivey Hall
Tickets
4/24 - Chattanooga, TN - Jazzanooga Festival
Info
4/25 - Athens, GA - The Foundry
Tickets
4/30 - Madison, WI - The Frequency
Tickets
5/1 - Evanston, IL - SPACE
Tickets
5/2 - Ann Arbor, MI - The Ark
Tickets *on sale 12/19
5/5 - Vienna, VA - Barns at Wolftrap
Tickets
5/6 - Fairfield, CT - StageOne
Tickets
5/7 - Northampton, MA - Parlor Room
Tickets
5/8 - Portland, ME - One Longfellow Square
Tickets
5/ 9 - Burlington, VT - Signal Kitchen
On Sale TBD
5/11 - Brooklyn, NY - The Hall at MP
Tickets


Julian Lage & Chris Eldridge:3/22 - Johnson City, TN - Downhome
Tickets
3/23 - Richmond, VA - Modlin Center
Tickets
3/24 - Roanoke, VA - Jefferson Center
Tickets
3/25 - Danville, KY - Norton Center
Tickets
4/3 - San Francisco, CA - Herbst Theatre
Tickets
4/21 - Denver, CO - Gates Concert Hall
Tickets


Danilo Pérez Pays Homage to McCoy Tyner

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When Tyner closed his mini-set with "Blues on the Corner," from his album "The Real McCoy," he achieved his most dynamic playing of the evening, even if its opening passages proved a bit messy. The pianist quickly regained his footing, however, generating excitement with crisply delivered repeated notes and achieving a blues-swing sensibility with his trio.


Read the full piece from: Chicago Tribune

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Cécile McLorin Salvant Interviews with The Last Magazine

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“Jazz is not seen as an alternative music, it’s seen as a dusty, old thing,” says McLorin Salvant. “There are so many instances of people saying, ‘Jazz is dead.’” Yet for her, it is full of life. “I think most of those songs have this timeless quality to them; there is no real reference to time,” she says. Now it is up to the audience to embrace the new voices and faces of jazz as they revive and reinvent that golden age, because if we’re going to bring back jazz, it’s going to take someone like McLorin Salvant to make it happen.


Read the full piece from: The Last Magazine

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Examiner: Fearless and daring, Cécile McLorin Salvant wins another Grammy nomination

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Cécile McLorin Salvant, 26, brings much of her touring set list to the Grammy-nominated jazz vocal album, For One To Love on Mack Avenue Records, released on September 4, 2015. Nothing about the songs on this album, or this young artist, says meek, mild, or clean — unless it’s the efficient way Salvant cuts through the crap down to the meat of the bare bone of the covers and originals she takes on.


Read the full piece from: Examiner.com

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WBGO: In The Air With Pianist Aaron Diehl

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...the pianist and composer shares music from his own recording Space Time Continuum (Mack Avenue) and music featuring rising star singer Cecile McLorin Salvant.


Read the full piece from: WBGO: The Checkout

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NPR: Jazz Singer Cécile McLorin Salvant Doesn’t Want to Sound ‘Clean and Pretty’

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I always wanted to have kind of a certain natural quality to my voice, and I wish it were more rough than it is, but I would listen to a lot of blues singers and sort of try to go more towards that. I had a hole in my voice. I still do...But I realized that in jazz, I could take advantage of that.


Read the full piece from: NPR Fresh Air

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NPR First Listen: Cécile McLorin Salvant, ‘For One To Love’

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Salvant's aesthetic idiosyncrasies immediately mark her apart, even within the space of "jazz singing." She's long had a predilection for finding rowdy songs from the dawn of the music to grow into — not exactly common for a twentysomething jazz musician — and that continues here...


Read the full piece from: NPR First Listen

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For Wayne Shorter: ‘Children of the Light’ is far from childish

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A lot of jazz groups tend to lose themselves in the thematic structures and far-out concepts of the artistic leader of the album. Not this group. Ever since they got together, pianist Pérez, bassist Patitucci, and drummer Blade knew they spoke the same cinematic language...“For us, it was like writing the soundtracks of our own lives. It was about using music to paint a scene, using the sounds to tell a story,” Pérez added.


Read the full piece from: AXS

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Whitaker, Diehl, Whalum Spearhead New Mack Avenue SuperBand Album

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“When you look at this particular lineup, there are a wide range of styles represented: from the Django-influenced guitar approach of Evan Perri to the soulful/gospel leanings of tenor saxophonist Kirk Whalum, and when you consider the other players, you can find just about everything in between.”


Read the full piece from: DownBeat Magazine

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Aaron Diehl, a Piano Prodigy, Taps Jazz Legends

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Mr. Diehl has taken a winding road to jazz. As a child, he played mostly classical music and learned a few jazz standards from his grandfather, who plays trombone and piano and introduced Mr. Diehl to the virtuoso pianist Art Tatum. Mr. Diehl was obsessed with aviation—his father, a funeral director, owned a plane—and he wanted to become an airline pilot. He took his first flying lesson at age 13 and recently flew a single-propeller plane from Columbus, where his parents still live, to gigs in Michigan.


Read the full piece from: Wall Street Journal

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Aaron Diehl - Space, Time, Continuum

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The trio is featured on “Santa Maria”, a commissioned work beginning with bowed bass singing over rhapsodic piano and sprawling malleted tom toms and cymbals before moving into a Spanish-tinged interlude that introduces a brightly swinging melody. The trio ratchets things up several notches on Diehl’s “Broadway Boogie Woogie”, a fiercely bebopping tour de force taken at a demonic tempo. (Page 31)


Read the full piece from: The New York City Jazz Record

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Kirk Whalum: The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter IV (DVD)

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The DVD captures the Chapter IV concert at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York. Live performance segments are interspersed with conversations with Whalum on a variety of subjects, from being a musician to the spirit of improvisation.


Read the full piece from: Journal of Gospel Music

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Congrats to Kirk Whalum - The Gospel According To Jazz: Chapter IV goes to #1

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The Gospel According To Jazz: Chapter IV - by Kirk Whalum on Rendezvous/Mackavenue closes the week at number one on the Billboard Jazz Chart.


Read the full piece from: Mack Avenue Twitter Feed!

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The Morning Call Interviews Rick Braun

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Rick Braun on his new album: "It's R&B and jazz mixed together, whereas with straight-ahead jazz there is more of a swing... 


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New York Times: Sean Jones Quartet at the Jazz Standard

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Mr. Jones, 36, was born and raised in northeast Ohio, and while he made his name in New York City — notably during his six years as...Mr. Jones, 36, was born and raised in northeast Ohio, and while he made his name in New York City — notably during his six years as...Mr. Jones, 36, was born and raised in northeast Ohio, and while he made his name in New York City — notably during his six years as...


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The Wall Street Journal: Freda Payne “Back to Big Band”

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Ms. Payne's disc, "Come Back to Me Love" (Artistry/Mack Avenue), is a collection of standards and originals done with opulent big-band arrangements; it's the sort of recording that offers an authentic alternative to the trend of pop stars doing classic repertoire with orchestral backing.


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