According to International Anthem:
Four short clicks of percussion and four short words of intention set off the top track of Dezron Douglas’s new suite of kinetic, bass-forward modern jazz, which in many ways sounds straight out of 1964. Lead single “Atalaya” has the chops, the cosmopolitan swagger and swing that you might of heard emanating from the Village Vanguard or Van Gelder Studios back in the day; but soars into the future by the benefit of evolution, revolution and refinement in the last five decades of Black music.
Followers of contemporary jazz might recognise Dezron for his bass work behind Pharoah Sanders, Louis Hayes, or Ravi Coltrane. Steady International Anthem listeners might remember him from the New York side of Makaya McCraven's Universal Beings. More recently we presented Force Majeure, Dezron’s sublime duo record with harpist Brandee Younger, which compiled the best of livestream performances from their Harlem apartment during the original covid lockdown. That album, which came out in December of 2020, reflected the speed and feeling of the moment while somehow simultaneously distracting from the harsh reality of it. It also captured a very vulnerable, intimate, and real impression of Dezron on double bass, sharing his power and truth without abandon.
Dezron’s upcoming new album ATALAYA is alive. That is, ‘alive’ in all the ways that jazz is at its best–as a pure and personal expression of Black Music channeled through time-honoured traditions by a group of musicians who practice sonic coherence through musical unity. As Dezron puts it in the opening statement of his liner notes for the album: “Mysticism, Magic, Faith, Love, Power, Discernment! These are words that embody the creative process of Music.”
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According to International Anthem:
Rafael Karlen presents Equally True, a captivating album with his new all-star quintet featuring vocalist Kristin Berardi, pianist Matt McMahon, bassist Brett Hirst and drummer Simon Barker. The lyrical compositions and beautiful interplay on Equally True draws similarities with standout ECM albums from Kenny Wheeler, and Tord Gustavsen. The album showcases the distinctive personalities and sensitive playing of this exceptional ensemble.
“When I was preparing for Equally True,” Karlen recalls, “my goal was to have clear, distilled compositions as vehicles and departure points for the players to engage with. I wanted to have pieces that were descriptive enough to capture a specific environment and mood but open enough for these amazing players to bring themselves into the music.”
The 10 original compositions elegantly traverse a compelling range of moods and themes. Alongside a Suite of four pieces which were originally commissioned for the Brisbane International Jazz Festival, the music was written while Rafael was 2018 Composer-in-Residence in the prestigious Peggy Glanville-Hicks House. The Arrivals and Prospects Suite, the only pieces to include lyrics, is an extended work exploring charged landscapes of nostalgia and lingering reflection, through to anticipation and excitement of future destinations.
“Kristin Berardi and I have worked alongside each other for many years in several different projects so we comfortably play and phrase very naturally together” says Karlen. “I have always been a fan of Matt, Brett and Simon’s playing and wanted to work with them for a long time. They all create a beautiful space and openness in their playing, and that was a key element of this project. Most pieces were from the first or sometimes the second take as these captured the clearest spark, warmth, and excitement from these wonderful musicians.”
About the Music
1: Again, as Always was written to convey openness and warm familiarity and to capture the beautiful space that these musicians are capable of producing.
2: The title Equally True refers to the complicated nature of our different views and how to reconcile these views in ways which aren’t mutually exclusive. This title also plays on the multiple ways in which one bar can equally imply a three, four and six feel.
3: Foucault’s Pendulum: I liked the thought of how setting up a Pendulum can show the earth’s rotation. It somehow makes something small a signifier for massive planetary rotation and suddenly gives it new meaning. The developing piano figure is complemented by a through-composed unison line for voice and saxophone.
4: Arrivals and Prospects Suite: Blueprint of Possibilities: One of four movements to include lyrics, this movement explores the way that we can look forward with excitement and anticipation.
5: Arrivals and Prospects Suite: Evening Corridors: Looking back and reflecting can be a beautiful thing but sometimes we can slide into closed loops of rumination and become stagnant and bitter. This is the darkest piece on the album and unravels these themes over a rubato and textural feel throughout.
6: Arrivals and Prospects Suite: The Promise of Postcards was written to express the anxieties surrounding the uncertainty of future events.
7: Arrivals and Prospects Suite: My Own Quiet Library expresses reflection on memories with kind/gentle nostalgia and the building up a personal memory archive from which to draw.
8: Seven Seconds After Sleep was titled for the expansive space we find ourselves in just after falling asleep
9: Rich Hours: With the exception of the Suite, all these compositions were written while I was the Composer-in-Residence in the Peggy Glanville-Hicks House in Sydney. This piece is titled for the fertile hours and productive output of my time living in that beautiful house.
10: Before the Day: I have been enjoying trying to explore and distil very specific moods and themes in my music. It feels like we can, as performers, uncover and delve deeply into the many corners of each concept.Pre-order here
On their fourth album, The Comet Is Coming – synth magician/producer Danalogue, drummer-producer Betamax, and saxophonist/spiritual riffologist Shabaka– burn brightly, soundtracking our epoch of change in ways their contemporaries simply aren’t trying to.
The process: emerging straight from lockdown, the trio went to Peter Gabriel’s Real World decked out studio tucked away in the English countryside. With the help of the band’s longtime engineer Kristian Craig Robinson, the trio embarked on a four-day long recording process guided by collective intuition, sheer skill, and transcendent improvisation. Next, Danalogue and Betamax fastidiously sampled the band’s own creations, alchemically weaving the out-of-body musical collisions with microscopic attention to detail in the production room. This distillation process yields a profound coherent musical message about the future of technology, humankind, spirituality, and the connectivity of the universe. Which just so happens to rock.
Tracks like “PYRAMIDS” drenched in layers of controlled synth-syncopation and Shabaka’s iconic minimalism pulsing forward and “ATOMIC WAVE DANCE” are stone-cold bangers, made for a nightclub on a space station. “LUCID DREAMER,” on the other hand is a vulnerable and emotional guided meditation led by Danalogue’s Ensoniq synth, which eerily evokes humanoid choir voicings through technology. This album has the unrelenting, driving and fiery muscle that Comet is known for, but creates a space where ideas about the future – dystopian or hopeful – technology, artificial intelligence, hidden meanings and transcendental transformations can exist.
The Comet Is Coming formed when Soccer96 – Danalogue and Betamax’s synth-drum tron-like duo – were playing and captured jazz saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings attention. After some tentative conversations between the duo and Shabaka, he hopped on stage at a show on a trial run and the energy coarsed between the trio and Comet was born. This union was a result of, as Danalogue describes it, “the algorithm of fate.” See, they all attended Guildhall School of Music where Dan and Max met - but Dan and Shabaka were a tale of missed connections as they shared the same saxophone teacher. Thankfully, fate’s algorithm guided the trio together. Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam follows their 2019 Trust In The Life Force of the Deep Mystery, which garnered praise from NPR, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, Washington Post, and their follow-up EP The Afterlife. This is their fourth full-length studio album.More info here
In These Times is the new album by Chicago-based percussionist, composer, producer, and pillar of our label family, Makaya McCraven.
Although this album is “new," the truth it’s something that's been in process for a very long time, since shortly after he released his International Anthem debut In The Moment in 2015. Dedicated followers may note he’s had 6 other releases in the meantime (including 2018’s widely-popular Universal Beings and 2020’s We’re New Again, his rework of Gil Scott-Heron’s final album for XL Recordings); but none of which have been as definitive an expression of his artistic ethos as In These Times. This is the album McCraven’s been trying to make since he started making records. And his patience, ambition, and persistence have yielded an appropriately career-defining body of work.
As epic and expansive as it is impressively potent and concise, the 11 song suite was created over 7+ years, as McCraven strived to design a highly personal but broadly communicable fusion of odd-meter original compositions from his working songbook with orchestral, large ensemble arrangements and the edit-heavy “organic beat music” that he’s honed over a growing body of production-craft.
With contributions from over a dozen musicians and creative partners from his tight-knit circle of collaborators – including Jeff Parker, Junius Paul, Brandee Younger, Joel Ross, and Marquis Hill – the music was recorded in 5 different studios and 4 live performance spaces while McCraven engaged in extensive post-production work from home. The pure fact that he was able to so eloquently condense and articulate the immense human scale of the work into 41 fleeting minutes of emotive and engaging sound is a monumental achievement. It’s an evolution and a milestone for McCraven, the producer; but moreover it’s the strongest and clearest statement we’ve yet to hear from McCraven, the composer.
In These Times is an almost unfathomable new peak for an already-soaring innovator who has been called "one of the best arguments for jazz's vitality" by The New York Times, as well as recently, and perhaps more aptly, a "cultural synthesizer." While challenging and pushing himself into uncharted territories, McCraven quintessentially expresses his unique gifts for collapsing space and transcending borders – blending past, present, and future into elegant, poly-textural arrangements of jazz-rooted, post-genre 21st century folk music.Get it here
Recorded when Johnny Walker was touring Worldwide with Veteran Jazz Star Lionel Hampton in 1982 and originally released on his own Private Press label: Walk On Productions.
This neglected underground classic LP has been off the radar since then except for the appearance of "Dipping" on the Kev Beadle – Private Collection (Independent Jazz Sounds From The Seventies And Eighties) compilation on BBE Records.
Almost unknown and unjustly negected, it's a funk drenched jazz journey with some crunchy fat beats laid down by the excellent rhythm section complementing Johnny Walkers cool horn stylings.
Reminiscent of the albums of that early Jazz Dance era by Tom Browne and Rahmlee but with a wholly instrumental edge this is Funky Jazz of the first magnitude that has not dated and sounds like it was fresh out of the studio in 2022.
Completely unknown album by Salah Ragab's Cairo Jazz Band vocalist Maha, recorded in Cairo in 1979. Features productions by Hany Shenoda of Al Massrieen. Maha’s “Orkos,” originally released on cassette, is one of these standout musical diamonds that combines Jazz and Egyptian vocal traditions with Funk, Latin and Soul. Out via Habibi Funk October 10th.
The arrival of the cassette age was a turning point in the music industry all over the world. Manufacturing a vinyl record was a time-consuming process, as well logistically and financially a barrier of entry for many. This soon led to a proliferation of smaller acts and record labels dedicated to a particular sound without the barriers present in making vinyl.
At the same time, in Egypt in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, a new generation of musicians and composers made their way into the scene. Hany Shenoda, Mohamed Mounir, Magdy El Hossainy, Omar Korshid, Salah Ragab and Hamid El Shaeri are some names that come to mind. They all made very different music compared to one another but what connected them was their desire to add something fresh and new to what was perceived as the widely monophonic musical traditions of Egypt. Many built their sounds on a combination of their own musical upbringing with influences coming from the outside. The success of these projects varied but for each one of these artists there were numerous lesser-known bands and singers. A lot of these often-short-lived projects would release their music on cassette on tiny labels.
Maha’s “Orkos” album fits this category, and it’s fair to say that it was not a success when it was originally released in 1979 by Sout El Hob. While nobody remembers the exact numbers, sales must have been very limited and the project was quickly forgotten about and no follow up release was produced.
Some years ago, we had released “Al Massrieen,” music which is the passion project of their composer, Hany Shenoda. Most of the music of this band was released by the Sout El Hob label and after our reissue they were happy with the extra visibility allowed us access to their back catalogue to assess whether there might be more projects we might be interested in. Maha’s “Orkos” was immediately a stand out album. A strong and energetic voice equally grounded in jazz as well as Egyptian vocal traditions, singing over instrumentals that offer a very wide range: from the funk sounds of “Law Laffeina El Ard” excursions into Latin music in “Orkos,” to the moody mellow sounds of “We Mesheet.” Nobody at the label really remembered much about the release or Maha herself. At the same time, we knew that this was an album we wanted to turn into a re-release.
While we could license the music from Sout El Hob, we didn’t want to commit to this project without the blessings and involvement by the woman who created it. We called her in late 2021 and she was clearly surprised to have someone call about music she recorded more than 40 years ago. But she also seemed interested in the idea to bring her music back to people’s attention and so the next time we were in Cairo we planned to meet. A few weeks later we were speaking with our friend Moataz, who runs the Disco Arabesquo project and showed him this great new album we found and to our surprise he knew the album, since having found a tape copy of it a year or two ago in Cairo. Thus, it was an obvious decision to team up for a collaboration for this project.
Upon meeting, she told us about how her brother got her introduced to music, and how she played with various bands, including Salah Ragab’s “Cairo Jazz Band”. She also told us how, in the mid 1980’s, she decided to leave music behind for a different life. But she also discussed the struggles and challenges of a woman trying to make it in the music industry. Luckily, she kept a great collection of old photos and she even had a spare copy of the promotional poster made for her release. We explained our vision to her and the idea behind making her music available again. She approved and was happy to share her story to provide valuable information and contextualization, found in the booklet accompanying the vinyl and CD release.Pre-order here
Created in 2017, this previously unreleased soundcloud beat is now availaible to purchase exclusively at bandcamp.
Featuring hypnotic guitar loops, a prodding bass and an impassioned keyboard solo, One Last Beat functions both for private chill and or a steezy opener for DJ mixes.
We Jazz Records kicks off their new series of archival 7" releases with Esa Pethman "In Belgium 1967" released 23 September 2022. The two-tracker is licensed from the Belgian VRT radio archives and both of the pieces are previously unreleased. Finnish jazz legend Pethman, heard here on alto flute and tenor sax, joins forces with European jazz greats such as Heinz Bigler, Uffe Karskov and Jean Fanis. This is a small but valuable piece of unheard European jazz history from the early heyday of modern jazz. The physical release is a quality "inside-out"-styled EP with 3mm spine and small center hole on the 45rpm vinyl.
An excerpt from the liner notes by Mikko Mattlar:
"Esa Pethman (b. 1938) was one of the key figures of modern Finnish jazz in the 1960s. His album The Modern Sound Of Finland was the first Finnish modern jazz album and his composition "The Flame" a true modern Fenno-jazz evergreen.
Pethman was born in Kuusankoski, 135 kilometres from Helsinki in the Kymenlaakso area. The jazz scene was active even though it was an area of rural landscapes and paper mills. Pethman discovered jazz when he heard a Charlie Parker record being played at a local music shop in the late 1940s. Following Parker, bebop became his favourite style of jazz.
Young Pethman played flute and saxophone in local bands who accompanied schlager singers. They played tangos and waltzes for dancers, but usually started a typical dance event with an hour of jazz. In 1959 Pethman moved to Helsinki to study music at the Sibelius Academy. Back then it was a strictly classical music academy, but Pethman later described the studies as crucial for his development and career. He quickly made his way to studio sessions and into the best orchestras in Helsinki.
As a student of composition, Pethman also began writing his own music. "The Flame" was a melody he just got on his mind one night, and he decided to write it down. The catchy composition was released as a 7" single in 1964, a year before Pethman's debut album. Both records stand as benchmarks for modern Finnish jazz. The album consisted entirely of Pethman's compositions, not versions of jazz standards like a lot of the Finnish jazz released until then.
In the mid 1960s, Finnish jazz was also taking its first international steps. Pethman's quintet took part in the first Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland in June 1967. At the Montreux jazz band competition, the quintet came in fourth of the twelve contestants. Despite not winning the competition, the band got an honourable mention, and Pethman was now recognized outside Finland.
In December 1967 Pethman travelled to Brussels. His visit was organised by the national Finnish broadcasting company Yleisradio and their jazz program producer Matti Konttinen. Konttinen was supposed to go to Brussels with Pethman, but the musician ended up traveling alone.
In the Decca recording studios Pethman played two songs. He recorded a version of his most famous composition "The Flame", where he played the alto flute and was accompanied by Belgian musicians. On Swiss saxophonist Heinz Bigler's composition "Like Steel", Pethman played the tenor saxophone. The band was now more international, consisting of Bigler, the Italian Francesco Santucci, the Dane Uffe Karskov, a Belgian rhythm section and Pethman. After 55 years, Pethman still remembers Bigler's remarkable skills as a saxophonist.
The two-day visit included the recording session, a dinner and a concert. Pethman and the other non-Belgian musicians came to Brussels mainly to play at a jazz concert organised by the European Broadcasting Union EBU. They played at the studio first, and the concert was held the following day. Pethman and all the other soloists played as members of an international big band. The studio and live session were produced by the Belgian Radio and Television jazz section leader Elias Gistelinck."Get it here
Issued on BBE Music, “Reflections” is the new album by London-based harp player and composer Alina Bzhezhinska, alongside her HipHarpCollective.
Following up her critically acclaimed debut album “Inspiration” (Ubuntu 2018), Bzhezhinskaputs together a second long-player, collaborating with British jazz stars Tony Kofi(Saxophones), Jay Phelps (Trumpet), Julie Walkington (Double Bass) and vocalist VimalaRowe, strongly supported by international talents Mikele Montolli (Electric Bass), Joel Prime(Percussion), Adam Teixeira (Drums) and Ying Xue (Violin & Viola).
Alina creates a unique sound on the harp with layered effects and electronics, combining original works and covers to pay homage to some of jazz, funk and hip-hop’s greatest innovators. Throughout the record, she draws from a variety of influences, including the likes of Dorothy Ashby’s ‘Afro-Harping’, Alice Coltrane’s spiritual outputs, Joe Henderson’s free-form jazz experimentation, 90s Acid Jazz and Trip-Hop.
“This album is very vibrant and reflects directly on London’s multicultural community. We had so much fun making this recording - it truly built up our morale in the middle of the pandemic and I hope our fans will feel this energy too.
For ‘Reflections’ I tried to break from any stereotypes and limitations - what you hear is my own choice of sounds and influences, taken from the many mixtapes I've been making since I was a teenager. I put together the music I like to listen to when I am happy or sad when I feel like dancing or meditating. The tunes we play are my own reflections on what I love the most - a free spirit, courage, innovation and all the beautiful things life gives us.
I hope our music can reach people’s hearts and evoke all the spectrum of colours and emotions that only the arts can do.” - Alina BzhezhinskaReflections is released on double LP vinyl, limited edition CD & digital formats.Get it here
British musician, multi-instrumentalist, producer and DJ cktrl returns with the release of his new EP ‘yield’.
Born from a desire to change the narrative around contemporary Black British music, the boundary-pushing musician aims with this project to prioritise the art of bonafide musicianship. A stark departure from cktrl’s previous work, ‘Yield’ is a celestial and palpably more inward body of work that harkens back to the pre-electric age of modal jazz while simultaneously pulling in elements from the disciplines of classical and baroque music.
Speaking on the project’s sonic identity, cktrl says:
“I want to be able to show that you can make things from scratch again that have that feeling and beauty without having to sample an old record. Even though that’s an art-form within itself, I want to show raw orchestration and instrumentation can be the sole source”
The origins of the title came from a period where cktrl was looking to find solace in himself after an introspective period of grief and heartbreak. As an intentionally instrumental project with minimal vocals, cktrl wants prospective listeners to see these new songs as guided meditations where they can wholly insert themselves in it. Eliciting and reaping whatever feelings come to the fore.
Speaking on what ‘Yield’ means to him as a concept, cktrl explains:
“Some people who I've asked to define the word ‘yield’ have looked at it from a harvest point of view, whereas others have seen it as something to submit to, to render, like you're giving up yourself. I see it as a barometer for how you feel - no matter if you're at your lowest or your highest vibration, you still need to show up for yourself. You still have to be present. It’s about getting the best from yourself no matter where you are in life”
The new project is the follow up to last year’s ‘Zero’ which featured collaborations with esteemed contemporaries like the GRAMMY-nominated Mereba and anaiis. Upon the project’s release, it was met with a plethora of critical acclaim from highly regarded publications and platform such as British Vogue, Dazed, CRACK Magazine, Resident Advisor, NOTION, Harper's Bazaar and ES Magazine for its sprawling and experimental scope, spanning avant-garde jazz, classical music, alternative R&B and electronica.
Moulded by a unique blend of his West Indian heritage, years of classical training in both the clarinet and saxophone, cktrl strives to do what hasn’t been done before. His approach to creation is decidedly wide-ranging and broad. In fact, where sonic descriptions might fail to encompass the breadth of cktrl’s scope, three words surface when he unpacks his musical aims: freedom, range and feeling.
Elsewhere, throughout his career, cktrl has been recognised and heralded by fashion and film VIPs as he firmly embeds himself within the black cultural renaissance emerging here in Britain. Acquiring a global network of creatives that include the late Virgil Abloh, Bianca Saunders, Tremaine Emory, Saul Nash, Maximilian Davis, Ahluwalia, Stephen Isaac Wilson, Sean Frank, Campbell Addy, Ib Kamara and Jenn Nkiru who secured him a cameo in Beyoncé’s ground-breaking film ‘Black Is King’.
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Jazz de Ville is an online jazz radio station, which airs globally from its office in Amsterdam. It's a platform for everything that has to do with Jazz and is founded by DJ Maestro, the infamous Dutch DJ, master of vinyl and producer of the platinum awarded compilation series Blue Note Trip for Blue Note Records. Recently he joined forces with Michiel Lamens of Goodmorrow.com and Korstiaan Zandvliet.
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You will never hear a DJ spin that embraces such an enormous variety of styles! Take one quick look into Maestro's massive music collection and you find great records lying next to each other: John Coltrane with Cerrone; Nina Simone with Fela Kuti; or even better Masters at Work with Chet Baker.
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