Monday, March 19, 2018

JazzWorldQuest Streaming Player Update: Kenn Smith-Has To Be(Two, 2009)

Kenn Smith-Has To Be
Album: Two

Listen @ JazzWorldQuest

For 30 years Kenn has worked as a session-touring guitarist and bassist. He has shared the stage with legendary artists such as Chi-Lites, R. Kelly, Najee, Stanley Jordan, and many others. As a recording artist for his label Kenn Smith Music, he has written, produced and release eight (8) CD's.  

This selection comes from his CD “TWO”. 

Official Website

USA: OMAR SOSA & SECKOU KEITA Transparent Water featuring GUSTAVO OVALLES @ Roulette Thursday, March 22nd 8:00 PM

Robert Browning Associates presents 
"Transparent Water" 
Omar Sosa, piano  • Seckou Keita, kora, vocals  
Gustavo Ovallespercussion

Thursday, March 22, 2018 at 8:00 PM

Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue at 3rd Avenue
Downtown Brooklyn

Tickets: $30; students, seniors $26  
Box office 

Tickets & Info
"a powerfully elegant statement of joy over shared musical discovery…I often imagined Omar Sosa lifted up to the Yoruban spirits in the form of a swarm of butterflies. Such is the beauty of his musical spirit.” – NPR

The celebrated 7-time Grammy-nominated Cuban pianist/composer/bandleader Omar Sosa and Senegalese kora (harp-lute) master/singer Seckou Keita are acclaimed musical adventurers with a rich heritage that spans jazz, Latin and African influences.  They are joined by Sosa’s longtime collaborator, Venezuelan percussion wizard Gustavo Ovalles, who encompasses the polyrhythmic sound of the African diaspora.  They will perform music from their acclaimed album on OTA Records, Transparent Water. Evocative of translucence and flowing light, it is a deeply spiritual recording full of serenity and a gentle elation with music that comes across as an antidote to the world in turmoil. The program at Roulette is part of their first national tour of Transparent Water.

Omar Sosa is one of the most versatile jazz artists on the scene today.  His musical trajectory traces the diaspora from Cuba to Africa and Brazil, from Central America to Ecuador’s African-descent communities. Born in 1965 in Camagüey, Cuba’s largest inland city, he studied percussion and marimba at the music conservatory in Camagüey, piano at the prestigious Escuela Nacional de Música in Havana, and completed his formal education at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana. Among his influences, Omar cites traditional Afro-Cuban music, European classical composers (including Chopin, Bartok, and Satie), Monk, Coltrane, Parker, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Chucho Valdés, and the pioneering Cuban jazz group Irakere. His extensive credits include Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, London’s Barbican and Queen Elizabeth Hall, Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt, and such festivals as Monterey Jazz, JVC Jazz, Montreal Jazz, Montreux Jazz, WOMAD and Cape Town International Jazz. Nominated seven times for a Grammy and twice for the BBC World Music Awards, Sosa entwines the expressive traditions of Africa and the Americas in a distinctive cosmopolitan voice, articulating a brilliant, joyous, and thoroughly contemporary global jazz idiom and creating a fresh and original urban sound – all with a Latin jazz heart. He received a lifetime achievement award from the Smithsonian Associates in Washington, DC in 2003 for his contribution to the development of Latin jazz in the United States.

Seckou Keita is one of the most influential kora players of his generation, seated in tradition whilst constantly pushing the boundaries of his art. Growing up in the Casamance area of southern Senegal, he was a child prodigy born of a line of griots (praise singers and oral historians) and kings. He has graced the international stage since 1996, earning worldwide acclaim for his kora playing and appearing with such luminaries as Salif Keita, Youssou N’Dour, and Miriam Makeba. His current solo album, 22 Strings, explored what it means to be a modern global citizen, and yet to live with seven centuries of tradition and heritage expressed through music. The album won Best Album in the Africa and Middle East category in SonglinesMusic Awards 2016, and was recently selected as one of Simon Broughton’s Top Ten Kora Albums.

Gustavo Ovalles has worked with leading artists from the worlds of salsa and jazz and shared the folkloric music of his native Venezuela with world musicians.  After studying at the Caracas Conservatory, he turned to percussion and traditional Venezuelan dance, visited Venezuelan villages to find the roots of traditional music, and went to Havana to work with drum masters. He has participated in many jazz festivals, and appeared on prestigious stages from New York to Tokyo. Prior to Transparent Water, he worked on three projects with Omar Sosa: Sentir, Ayaguna, and Eggūn.

Made possible in part with public funding provided by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State legislature.

Press contact:  Helene Browning:

FRANCE: Soul Blade Orchestra-Soul Blade Orchestra, vol. 1 (2017)

USA: Josh Lawrence & Color Theory "Contrast" (Posi-Tone 2018)

new music release:

Josh Lawrence & Color Theory

Trumpet player Josh Lawrence examines the scene from a whole new perspective on "Contrast,” his second release for Posi-Tone. Using both his instrument and his skills as a bandleader, Lawrence succeeds in making another inspired statement by exploring several different musical avenues with his "Color Theory" project. Also featured on the record are the colors and sounds of alto saxophonist Caleb Curtis, trombonist David Gibson pianists Orrin Evans and Zaccai Curtis, bassist Luques Curtis, and drummer Anwar Marshall. The session is elegantly lyrical and clearly suggestive of a modern jazz sensibility. With an amazing combination of talents, brilliant performances, and an evocative program of new original compositions, "Contrast" is sure to bring bright moments of intense delight to serious listeners and jazz fans everywhere.

video of "Agent Orange" feat. Orrin Evans:

links to music:

Sunday, March 18, 2018

USA: Diane Moser’s Composers Big Band Celebrates Women in Jazz Wed., March 21st 8PM & 10PM

Diane Moser’s Composers Big Band
Celebrates Women in Jazz
with guest composer Ann Belmont
and resident composers Barbara Cifelli and Diane Moser.
Wednesday, March 21st

Sets at 8pm & 10pm

Cover $20
Trumpets Jazz Club
6 Depot Square
Montclair, NJ

Diane Moser’s Composers Big Band Celeste’s Women in Jazz this month with guest composer Ann Belmont, and resident composers Barbara Cifelli and Diane Moser.

Ann Belmont is a long-time member of the BMI Jazz Composers’ Workshop. Her work has been featured in concert with the BMI Jazz Orchestra, Diane Moser’s Composers Big Band, Friends Jazz Orchestra, and under her own name.  She was awarded a Meet the Composer grant to present a performance in Hartford, Conn., of “Kansas”, a piece for jazz orchestra plus strings.

Read more about Ann at

Barbara Cifelli has held down the baritone sax/bass clarinet/alto flute chair in the CBB since the very first rehearsal in 1996. She is also the baritone/Eb clarinet/flute player of the Ed Palermo Big Band whose CD, Eddy Loves Frank, was nominated for a Grammy and continues to receive rave reviews. She has played with the Lynn Oliver Band, Joe Gallant’s Illuminati, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Buster Poindexter, the Birdland Big Band, the Diva Jazz Orchestra and many others. She has also toured with “Mame" and “Sugar Babies”, and has played multiple woodwinds on Broadway and at the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. 

Diane Moser, musical director, pianist and contributing composer, has had many of her compositions played by the CBB. She began composing for big band when she co-founded the band in 1996. Many of her compositions are audience favorites such as: Flipped Kitty in the City, The Journey Home and For My Mother. 

Joining the CBB in the band tonight are: alto saxophonist Anton Denner, tenor saxophonist Paul Ostermayer, and trombonist Scott Reeves.

The members of the CBB are:
Saxes: Barbara Cifelli, Marty Fogel, Craig Yaremko, Tom Colao, Rob Middleton and Ed Xiques (emeritus).
Trombones: Erick Storckman, Ben Williams, Matt Haviland and Dennis Argul.
Trumpets: Mike Spengler, Jim Cifelli, Chris Rogers and Rob Henke.
Rhythm Section:
Diane Moser-piano, Larry Maltz-guitar, Andy Eulau-bass and Scott Neumann-drums.

Their resident composers include:
Dennis Argul, Barbara Cifelli, Jim Cifelli, Marty Fogel, Matt Haviland, Rob Henke, Rob Middleton, Diane Moser, Chris Rogers, Erick Storckman,Russ Vines, Ed Xiques, and Craig Yaremko.

"You can always hear jazz big bands that play the classic repertoire, where the music has been. To hear where big band music is going, check out the Composers Big Band."
– George Kanzler – Star Ledger Newark NJ

"…big band lives…barroom or church, it’s all the same to this band of musical trail-blazers. Most amazing are the crowds that are flocking to hear [this] new music- a pivotal point if jazz is to survive and grow"
– Jim Beckerman – Bergen Record New Jersey

"Big, swinging, and Mingus-esque!"
– admin – Lurid Culture-Wordpress

" …this stellar band is as good as it gets"
– Zan Stewart – Star Ledger Newark NJ

For more information go

UK:Andrew Bain- Embodied Hope (Whirlwind 2017)


Andrew Bain - drums
George Colligan - piano
Jon Irabagon - tenor saxophone
Michael Janisch - double bass


New routes in musical exploration are at the heart of drummer Andrew Bain’s episodic suite, Embodied Hope – a project with pianist George Colligan, saxophonist Jon Irabagon and bassist Michael Janisch. An influential percussionist and educator based in Birmingham, England (and a first-call sideman both in the UK and the States), Bain’s own research has led him to study a concept which seeks to link improvisation with the increasingly topical issues of human rights, community and social transformation. Taking jazz as a metaphor for positive change in the world, and based on seven aspects – listening, surprise, accompaniment, practice, responsibility, trust and, ultimately, hope – this work is defined both by its distinct flexibility of expression and the quartet’s ongoing appraisal of what it progressively achieves.

Andrew Bain explains that, rather than counting himself as a composer, he’s a writer of music for improvisers: “Like all good music written with improvisation in mind, Embodied Hope starts with an idea and a vibe, as well as melodies, chord sequences, solo sections and as many boundaries as I want to provide. But apart from that, it’s all in flux and very much up to the band, even in terms of suite order, solo order, etc. I trust these guys with where they take things – an experimental journey evolving on the road, night after night”.

The approach is melodic and full of singable melodies originally conceived at the piano. Each movement is developed from a different perspective, with Bain’s intricate though powerful percussion subtly directing group improvisation; so rather than a stated theme and variations, there’s individual symbolism in each piece. ‘Surprise’ begins with a drum spotlight (so a surprise in itself), and then the solos from three written cues start to arrive – not in a traditional way, but by interrupting each other, challenging more conventional song formats. The free, opening section of ‘Listening’ sounds largely improvised, yet isn’t, because it grows out of ten specific lines of melody written in a similar key center (albeit with no set tempo); and the drummer reveals that ‘Accompaniment’ was originally intended as the ballad, a moment of solace: “But as we rehearsed, it became this classic Coltrane rumble-and-tumble, elevating it with some kind of higher energy. So, importantly, I realised that together we had decided this was something different, and it became the opener to the suite.”

Recorded on the twelfth day of a two-week tour of workshops, masterclasses and performances, the session presented its own challenge – after all, how is it possible for improvisers to decide on the definitive version of a constantly evolving work? But it’s precisely that captured moment in time from which the sparks of originality fly, whether through Jon Irabagon’s rapid sax invention in feverishly-swinging ‘Practise’, George Colligan’s typically artful Steely Dan quote in the solid groove of ‘Responsibility’ or a theme-tune-like amiability woven into ‘Trust’.

Echoing the album title, driving, anthemic ‘Hope’ synopsizes what has become important to the band in this process – how they have made it relevant to themselves through their social interaction; how the concept has literally been embodied as they have memorized the music; and the positivity arising from what they fashion and develop together. “The best music that I play is with musicians I really trust”, says Bain. “Not that it’s cosy and we all know what we’re going to do, but that we’re comfortable to push each other, over and over, with every performance. When you’re in that space, there are so many things the music could be… and that’s as good as it gets”.

"​Bain's skilled and memorable compositions on Embodied Hope are expertly executed with first rate playing and shimmering moments of sheer brilliance.​"​
​★★★★​ ​All About Jazz​

“His own [Bain's] playing is a revelation as he combines power with detail and precision in a bright, busy, colourful and imaginative display behind the kit.”
★★★★ The Jazz Mann

"Ingenious writing devices that bely Bain’s modest claim that he’s a writer of music for improvisors rather than a composer... An uplifting listen."
Jazz Views

"Bain is always a vital driver behind the kit, ever engaged and urging his fellow players on.​.. and as a composer brings a strong melodic sense to his tunes.​"
London Jazz​

"Funky piano, paint-stripping tenor from Irabagon, sound bass (as ever) from Janisch and amazing drumming from Andrew Bain"
Bebop Spoken Here

“Uplifting solos and mature musical dialogue from these top notch, virtuoso musicians.”
Jazzma (HU)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

SWITZERLAND: Werner Fischer's Travelogue-The Light Is On (2018)

"THE LIGHT IS ON" is the third album by Werner Fischer's Travelogue and features singer Coco Rouzier (USA) in a perfect blend of original tunes and standards, 'Baltimore' and 'Everything Must Change' being among them.
Grab your bags and start again!
"Smack Dab In The Middle" drops the listener right in the middle of the action. Blinded by the spotlights of a train taking off, you get carried away by the unstoppable playing mood of the well-rehearsed sextet, driven by the relentless swing of the rhythm group which inspires the guitarist to a first stunning solo.
The christening gift of the brand new jazz branch of the West Swiss label PBR Records SA is the third album of Werner Fischer's Travelogue and the first with the superb singer Coco Rouzier (USA) on board.
Impressive how disciplined the musicians roll out their original compositions as well as the classics: Like a flock of fully trained racehorses, they gallop on, sheering out individually from time to time until their boisterous fervor is held back right on the beat by the strong hand of the bandleader, transferring their concentrated power to the stunned listener.
Following the kick-ass start, Randy Newman's gloomy ballad "Baltimore" introduces a quieter stretch. Rouzier’s wonderful melancholic timbre and the relaxed attitude of the train attendants transform the grim view of the lyrics into an experience you can’t get enough of.
Our gut-feeling after the first two songs is expressed in a compliment to the band by stormproof entertainer Coco on "Wait On Love": "The groove is just - wow – I mean it’s tight." We agree.
A skillful instrumental revealing Fischer's flirtation with Chinese culture is followed by the three-part "Transcendental Suite": A deeply felt version of the 70ies classic "Everything Must Change", followed by a brief free interlude which is dissolved by the soothing balm of "Step By Step" - a pleasant breathing exercise guided by Rouzier’s relaxed voice and accompanied by Fischer-Tian’s filigree Gibson. The suite ends with a respectful salute to the "thin white Duke" with the line "Say goodbye to ground control."
Getting off the Transamerican Express, we hop into the waiting Space Shuttle as the pilot takes us for a ride to exoplanet Kepler 452-b, stirring our hopes for a better world. We are welcomed by the bitter sweet "Rescue Me", a smooth bossa nova, spiced up by Jürg Wickihalder ravishingly blowing his heartache into the night.
Yet another retro flash hits us in space: After an intro resembling a slow-motion version of "Walking On The Moon“, the "Wrong Song" turns out to be a hypnotic reggae of the lasciviously intoxicated kind.
Planet earth comes within sight and we land in "A Summer's Tale" - the continuing story of a wonderfully timeless summer, an acapella version of "Summertime" merging seamlessly into the wistful late summer-tune "Summer's End". Expect to hear a silver moon rise above the deserted beach club behind Roberto Domeniconi’s enchanted piano.
After the heartfelt confession of the singer, that "Jazz Is Nothin’ But Soul", the grandiose album closes with a roguish Hammond organ on "Bringing it all back home". The light-hearted conclusion of a wonderfully enriching journey leaving us with lasting impressions and the wish to grab your bags and start again. (Jan Krohn)
coco rouzier – vocals
jürg wickihalder – tenor sax
werner tian fischer – guitar
roberto domeniconi – piano & hammond
fredi meli – double bass
gabriel schiltknecht – drums & percussion

USA: MOVIE: New Film to Make Jazz History

The Music Kept Them Alive…
And Killed Them!

THEY DIED BEFORE 40 (93 minutes)
- a new jazz film to make history

View The Trailer

Which jazz musician’s funeral attracted 10,000 mourners and an 80-car funeral procession?

Which African American musician was forced to play at the other end of the recording studio with white musicians?

The website for the film has
 40 Hot Points and more (

More than two dozen gifted jazz artists died before reaching the age of 40. Most of them are relatively unknown, some even to jazz fans. Many of them made significant contributions to this art form. All of them had much more to give and, individually and collectively, would have made a greater impact on this music had they lived full lives. It is important that their contributions be made known, their music heard and that we show how and why they died.
     Many people may have heard of Bix Beiderbecke (who died at 28) and Charlie Parker (who died at 34). But others, such as Herschel Evans, who died before reaching 30, are very little known and their stories untold. For example, Jo Jones, drummer and an integral part of the Count Basie band for many years, has called Evans the greatest musician he ever played with. He said that Evans made everyone he played with better.
     Who was this giant, what made him an important creative artist, how and why did he die so young? These are questions that this film will answer concerning Evans and many more. In addition to Evans also featured will be Bunny Berigan, Chick Webb, Fats Waller, Charlie Christian, Jimmy Blanton, Clifford Brown and Chu Berry. About two dozen others’ ages and causes of death are included.
     Through their music, some archival film footage, photographs, reminiscences and expert discourse we learn more about these artists, develop an appreciation of their artistry and reveal how and why their careers were cut short.
     The film expands our cultural heritage for this internationally renowned art form and also helps us to understand the unique lifestyle that these artists led.

Financing is sought for music licensing. 

Please forward this to anyone else you think might be interested.

Howard E. Fischer - Producer

Friday, March 16, 2018

USA: Brad Mehldau-After Bach(Nonesuch 2018)

After Bach
New 2018 album! Recordings of four preludes and one fugue from JS Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier", plus original 2018 interludes by the US jazz pianist. On Nonesuch.

The pianist intersperses classic Bach pieces with his own responses in a headscratching album of harmonic adventures



March Is Women’s History Month

New CD From
"This project runs through a gamut of emotions like anger, sadness, joy, and optimism, throwing new angles onto familiar songs and exposing  forgotten songs and songwriters to the world at large. This is a strong work of art that seems like it would be amazing live.” -  4* Jerome Wilson, All About Jazz  (USA)
“'Swallow Song' is just a tiny glimpse of the duo's album 'A Woman's Journey', a little taste if you like, before you devour what is a fabulous album. If your in the mood for original, different and engaging wide appealing jazz centred music, you have arrived at your destination. “ BeeHiveCandy (USA)
“The most beautiful piano/vocal/flute song I’ve heard in 2017. Just wonderful.” Dick Metcalf, Contemporary fusion Reviews (USA)
“Like jazz itself, ‘Madeleine & Salomon’ know no boundaries and explore the outer limits of imagination, improvisation and cultural revolution. This is a musical experience that embraces change and pushes the cage walls further apart, exploring freedom with grandiose conviction.” Dee Dee McNeil, Musicalmemoirs (USA)
“This release as a whole flows with impeccable sense and beauty.” Larry Blood, Monterey Jazz Fest Broadcast Producer - 88.7 TCI cable radio  - 91.3 Monterey Peninsula TV cable radio (USA)
“Such a beautiful thoughtful recording” Ken Irving, WMCB 107.9 (USA)
“Madeleine & Salomon, unforgettable music, this album is stunning” Alice Woelfle-Erskine, KZYX Radio (USA) 
“A fascinating album. So many moods, so much space and lyricism” Clive Davis, THE SUNDAY TIMES (UK)
“Bright spark” Kevin Legendre, ECHOES MAG (UK)
“Superb new CD”  BBC RADIO 3 (UK)

Label: Tzigart/Promiseland PL0012
Release Date: JANUARY 12, 2018
Artist Website:
UPC Code: 3 760100 040159

Clotilde : vocals, flute
Alexandre Saada : Piano, Rhodes, Clavinette, back vocals
All arrangements by : Madeleine & Salomon

Track listing w/ track time
1. Image (Nina Simone, William Waring Cuney) 1:552. Swallow song (Mimi Farina, Richard Farina) 2:163. All the Pretty Horses (Traditional) 3:194. No Government/High School Drag (Nicolette, Philip Anthony Johnson
/ Mel Welles) 4:525. At seventeen (Janis Ian) 2:236. Strange Fruit (Billie Holiday, Abel Meeropol) 3:097. Save the children (Al Cleveland, Renaldo Benson, Marvin Gaye) 4:328. Bain libre 1 (Alexandre Saada, Clotilde) 0:229. Little Girl Blue (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart) 2:19
10. The End of Silence/Mercedes Benz (Elaine Brown/Janis Joplin) 4:2511. Les eurs (Charles Stepney, Richard Rudolph) 2:0712. Bain Libre 1 (Alexandre Saada, Clotilde) 0:5113. Four women (Nina Simone) 6:35
14. Vous Faites Partie de Moi (Cole Porter, Josephine Baker) 2:3915. Le Jour né de la Femme (Alexandre Saada, Clotilde) 3:54

Madeleine & Salomon is the meeting of two artists with well-established musical visions: the vocalist and flutist Clotilde and the pianist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, Alexandre Saada.
Long-term friends, they discovered, during a tour of Asia, in 2014, that they shared a common musical aesthetic and decided to form the duo Madeleine & Salomon with its minimalist music stamped in impressionist poetry.

They took advantage of the Melbourne Recital Centre (Australia) invitation in June 2015 to rethink the American Songbook in their decidedly original fashion, and record their first album A Woman’s Journey. This homage to American female protest songstresses is enriched on stage by free improvisations inspired by dreamlike short films specifically edited from stock shots.

A lonely voice, surveying a minor scale and reciting fundamentally feminist lines. Thus commences this first album of Madeleine & Salomon, “A Woman’s Journey”.  A minimalist and delicate duo tackling a humanist and rebellious repertoire. Madeleine sings, Salomon sits at the piano. Madeleine & Salomon, a duo with a natural elegance, “less is more” their essence.

The epic and libertarian duo Madeleine & Salomon embraces with ardor the feminist American songbook to cover it with loving-kindness tinged with a minimalistic music and with a deep and incandescent chant. Their 1st album A Woman’s Journey reveals a graceful and unexpected reinterpretation of a humanist and rebellious repertoirefrom Nina Simone to Janis Joplin to Billie Holiday to Josephine Baker.

"Superb new CD" 
“A fascinating album. So many moods, so much space and lyricism.” 
––––––––––––––––––––––––– ––––– 
“This is true class, no fakery, a moment of grace” 
LES INROCKS – 10 Best 
Summer Jazz CD 
“ A n unbelievable atmosphere, literally out of time.” 
“ Unheralded, unheard - of and totally necessary” 

Vocalist and flutist Clotilde (CLOW-TEELD) completed her studies in jazz and improvised music at the IACP and EDIM schools. She also explored world music vocal techniques ,developing an original approach to the voice as a multifaceted and narrative instrument. In 2007, Clotilde released Live au 7 Lézards. Accompanied by guitarist Hugo Lippi, the album was acclaimed by Jazzman, Jazzmag and Jazzhot magazines.

Pianist , composer, and multi - instrumentalist Alexandre Saada [SAH - AH - DAH]
studied classical music for ten years before expanding to include jazz, pop, and song, stud ying under Michel Petrucciani. Since his installation in Paris in 1999 he has not only carved out his own career of compos ing, performing and lead ing but has also worked alongside many artists as Leonore Boulanger, Electricdiva and Malia. In 2010 he performed solo at the Saint - Germain Jazz Festival. He has compose d for cinema, garnering a purse of the Sacem. In 2014 h e released Continuation to the end , followed by Portraits in 2015 . 

Available From
IMS distribution from Marvelio

Amazon • iTunes

For Promos or Downloads

Media Contact
Jim Eigo
Jazz Promo Services
272 State Route 94 South #1
Warwick, NY 10990-3363
Ph: 845-986-1677 
Cell / text: 917-755-8960
Skype: jazzpromo
"Specializing in Media Campaigns for the music community, artists, labels, venues and events.”

National Radio Campaign
814.482.0010 Richard: 773.706.3293

Thursday, March 15, 2018

USA: EP Release: Total Music: The Golden Conversation between American and Brazilian Music Blossoms on Alexandra Jackson: Legacy & Alchemy

EP Release: Total Music: The Golden Conversation between American and Brazilian Music Blossoms on Alexandra Jackson: Legacy & Alchemy

Music industry veteran and IT entrepreneur Robert Hebert happened to be in Brazil on a work trip. One day in Rio, he stepped out of an ordinary hotel elevator and had a revelation. “I heard these young musicians in the lobby, and realized that Brazil might create the next Sade, the next singer to really synthesize pop, jazz, and Brazilian sounds like Sade and her producer Robin Millar did.”
Hebert’s insight led him somewhere altogether different, ever deeper into Brazil’s unique repertoire, heritage, and spirit. Amalgamating the golden age of 20th-century Brazilian sounds with Chicago jazz and funk, unleashing a soulful young vocalist from Atlanta on the Brazilian and Brazil-inspired songbook, Hebert created the first, epic project on his new independent LEGACY AND ALCHEMY label, Alexandra Jackson: Legacy & Alchemy. At the center stands singer Alexandra Jackson, supported by some of the most significant musicians in samba, bossa nova, and MPB, and by American jazz and funk heavyweights.
“We wanted to bring together Brazilian and American musicians and create something around the vocals, and to our pleasant surprise, it was an American vocalist who made this possible,” remarks Hebert. “We embraced the highest level of Brazilian music, with its great musicianship. The highest levels of Brazilian music and American jazz have always resonated.”
Legacy & Alchemy pays homage to samba, now in its second century, with the classic “Sonho Meu,” which contrasts Jackson’s voice with that of 96-year-old samba grande dame and songwriter Doña Ivone Lara. It demonstrates the power of Brazilian bossa nova with a cheeky, gender-reversed “Girl from Ipanema,” in which Jackson finds a whole other American-inflected swing to beloved song. It also draws on songwriting inspired by Brazil’s boundless musical creativity and resilience: “Brazilica” (by Chess Records alums Charles Stepney, Maurice White, and Ramsey Lewis) and “Our Time Now” (a heartfelt anthem co-crafted by Lionel Richie and Rod Temperton that ends with the powerhouse contribution by Armando Marcal from Rio de Janeiro’s legendary Portela samba school (reigning champion of Carnaval).
The main musical catalyst was a young singer out of Atlanta, the daughter of a remarkable, culturally and socially prominent African American family, Alexandra Jackson. With intensive vocal training and wide-ranging musical interests, Jackson had the sensitivity, sensuality, and strength to capture the essence of these songs, whether singing in English or Portuguese. (Jackson worked with coaches for weeks to be able to nail the lyrics and win over Brazilian critics.)
“I’ve worked with so many top singers, and I don’t think anyone else I’ve worked with could have or would have even tried to do this.  Alexandra could and did.  The biggest thing is she made it convincing for Brazilians,” including standout performances as part of the 2016 Rio Olympics festivities.
“There’s a huge melting pot of music in our world today,” says Jackson. “This album offers the opportunity for people to step outside the box. It’s not just jazz, not the blues, not soul, not bossa nova, not samba, but it’s a mix of them all.”
Though the project resulted in 23 tracks with more than 35 contributing artists in featured roles (and 100 musicians and engineers overall), this first EP-length burst of songs sets the historical stage for the project’s ongoing engagement with Brazilian and American music’s decades-long dialog. The project’s bigger-picture goal is as ambitious as its scope: “I want to reintroduce this music to the world,” says Hebert. “I want to return it to its rightful place in the mainstream.”
This ambition has a powerful historical precedent. Brazilian music was some of the most popular in the world until the British Invasion struck and tastes shifted. There was a reason Brazilian music resonated worldwide: the sway of samba, the wry elegance of bossa nova balanced the earthy and the refined. It channeled some of the world’s most breathtaking musicianship. Hebert reached out to everyone from Jobim’s son and grandson, to samba elders like Lara and its next generation master (percussionist Pretinho de Serrinha), to the iconic Brazilian composer Ivan Lins.
Hebert and his collaborators knew it was time to elevate these elements again. “We’re really giving all we got to reintroduce this music to the mainstream, where it left off in the mid 60s. I wanted to choose songs that were hits in Brazil. Some may be familiar, but many are incredible songs the world outside of Brazil hasn’t been exposed to very much yet. We’re alchemizing it with American music, and the heart of this music is Chicago,” Hebert’s hometown and the birthplace of a jazz aesthetic that pairs perfectly with midcentury Brazilian sounds.
This alchemy creates what project advisor and contributor Ivan Lins calls “total music,” music that has no limits due to its geographical origins, that is timeless and widely compelling. Lins, along with the legacy of icon Quincy Jones, inspired Hebert to reach for the best possible performers and performances as the vision came together.
“Quincy has really inspired me over the years — not just with music, but the way he applies his true genius to the interaction of master-level human beings.  I have known him since 1993 and his musical legacy was a guiding star for me on this project. [In the wake of the untimely passing of Rod Temperton, Jones directly assisted in securing co-writer’s Lionel Richie’s blessing for “Our Time Now.”] I knew if Quincy were doing this, he would really try to get to the heart and soul of the music in a way that opened up the musicianship, that brought something new to it. I did the best I could, knowing I’m less than 1% of the musician that Q is,” Hebert laughs.  “But, I just kept asking myself for 3 years … as a Producer, what do I think Q would do?” 
To get there, Hebert asked multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer Larry Williams to be his main collaborator. Williams, who has worked with Jones, Al Jarreau, George Benson, Sheila E, and Michael Jackson, over a 40-year career was lead producer on eight of the 23 tracks recorded for the project. “This record got done because of Larry.  No Larry Williams … no Rod Temperton, no Ivan Lins, no Djavan, no Al Jarreau,” Hebert notes. “Larry was my anchor.  I knew that this ambitious undertaking would get done because Larry Williams was in my corner. I needed one of the greatest arrangers of our time to get us over the top, where we needed to be.  That could only happen with a music master of Larry’s genius, commitment, focus, pedigree and context.”   
Hebert and Williams formed a Chicago-meets-Rio house band to record in Brazil. It included Williams and Marco Brito as primary keyboardists, tag-teaming super bassists (Darryl Jones, Arthur Maia), one of Brazil’s greatest drummers (in a country of excellent drumming) Teo Lima, guitarist Ricardo Silveira, percussionist Armando Marcal, horn players and arrangers Marcelo Martins and Jesse Sadoc. They were joined by vocal masters Chris Walker (who produced the vocals for the album), Darryl Tookes, and Curtis King, and by percussionist Pretinho da Serrinha. The Brazilian and American feels for the pocket differ, but the conversation between and among master musicians adds another layer to an already rich mix.
Hebert also gathered an orchestra for the two songs orchestrated and conducted by Larry Williams, and 4 songs orchestrated and conducted by Hebert’s 1970s’ Chicago high school bandmate Charles Floyd (who has gone on to conduct over 500 orchestras all over the world).  Hebert named the orchestra “The Bossa Nova Noites Orquestra” … comprised of Brazil’s top orchestra musicians under the supervision of concertmaster Ricardo Amado.
It is no accident Hebert and company made the record they did, one that has all the precision and warmth of a Quincy Jones project, or the early Sade projects produced by Robin Millar, but with all the virtuosic scrappiness of Chicago and Rio.
“This is old school; I’m not interested in contemporizing this music with drum machines or sequencers. Computers cannot spiritually collaborate, interact, and connect in context and in real time with a human,” Hebert states. “I wanted to create an environment and commitment to the alchemy of the music, based on humans endeavoring to evolve the origins of the music.  Brazilian, African and American music have a history of connection due to the slave trade, and that’s what creates this sense of musical integrity, what ties it all together. I let the music masters of Brazil and America contemporize the music with their insight, context and virtuosity.”  


Ron Kadish
812-339-1195 X 202