Angelique Kidjo performs song for imprisoned human rights activist; Nasrin Sotoudeh / NYSMusic


NYSMusic's Andie Chapman writes...... Four-time Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo has often advocated for human rights as she has been a UNICEF ambassador since 2002. Her music is imbued with compassion, and throughout the years she has contributed songs for important causes, such as her contribution song "Leila" for the Enough Project which raised awareness for women's rights in Raise Hope for Congo.    In 2020, the singer and activist recorded the song "How Can I Tell You?" by composers Lynn Ahrens (lyrics) and Stephen Flaherty who wrote "Ragtime," "Once on This Island," "Anastasia," and many more notable works. This song was included in a documentary directed and produced by Jeff Kaufman titled Nasrin. Often referred to as the "Nelson Mandela of Iran," Nasrin Sotoudeh fought for human rights in Iran, eventually leading to her arrest in June 2018 for defending women who publicly protested Iran's mandatory hijab law. The government sentenced her to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes. Nasrin now has COVID-19 and a heart condition, but even from the confines of prison she has continued to challenge the authorities.      READ THE FULL NYSMusic ARTICLE & WATCH THE VIDEO
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Branford Marsalis' soundtrack of Ma Rainey's studio sessions is an impeccable recreation / The Guardian


The Guardian's Dave Gelly writes....August Wilson's 1982 play, and the 2020 Netflix film, are about a lot more than music, but Gertude "Ma" Rainey ("Mother of the Blues") was a real person, and the action takes place around what was a real recording session. Music, and how it's treated, is the basic metaphor here, so music is an important accompaniment to the story. In this case – like the clothes, the cars and the surrounding scene – it must also persuade us that we are in Chicago in 1927. Saxophonist Branford Marsalis has certainly spared no effort in recreating authentic period sounds.    Photograph: David Lee/AP READ THE FULL Guardian ARTICLE
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Hilary Hahn announces new album release; ?Paris? / udiscovermusic.


udiscovermusic. - Sharon Kelley writes....Violinist Hilary Hahn will release her new album ‘Paris', featuring the world premiere recording of Rautavaara's final score, in March 2021. The three-time Grammy-winning violinist Hilary Hahn pays homage to the rich cultural heritage of a city that has been close to her heart throughout her career on her new recording which features her renewed partnership with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and its Music Director, Mikko Franck. Paris includes the world premiere recording of Rautavaara's final score, Deux Sérénades, Poème by Parisian-born composer Chausson, and Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No.1, first performed in the French capital in 1923. Photo: OJ Slaughter - DG READ THE FULL udiscovermusic. ARTICLE
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Shai Maestro with WBGO's The Checkout, on being more 'Human'


WBGO'S The Checkout: SIMON RENTNER writes......We've always admired Shai Maestro's fearless approach to music. When he sits down at the piano, especially in an improvisational solo setting, he checks the temperature of a space and lets the music come to him, allowing one idea to flow into another. But he wasn't always that free. On this episode of The Checkout, Maestro remembers a difficult moment on tour with bassist Avishai Cohen and drummer Mark Guiliana - a moment that would shape his career. In the middle of a performance, while playing his tune, the trio took an unexpected detour and he completely freaked out. That meltdown would change his thinking, and approach to music, forever. To hear Maestro tell it, what he became after this experience was more human - which is also the title of his new album, which ECM will release on Jan. 29.  READ THE FULL WBGO: Newark NJ ARTICLE & LISTEN TO THE SEGMENT
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From the civil war to civil rights, Jeni Slotchiver talks about 'American Heritage' with 90.1WUSB


90.1WUSB - Stony Brook NY, Captain Phil writes.....Following the success of the Busoni The Visionary series, Jeni is humbled to introduce something so intimately close to home. With Southern roots of her own, Ms. Slotchiver's debut ZOHO CD release American Heritage presents compositions that honor the vast African-American musical tradition as well as Union army hymns from the Civil War. There are contemporary arrangements and harmonizations of sea shanties, songs of enslaved people, and secular dances, plus arrangements of spirituals. Several compositions recall the strong, Southern voices of gospel and blues, and of the eight composers represented, six are of African descent and two of these are women. Jeni Slotchiver earned the Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Piano Performance at Indiana University, before continuing her studies in New York City with Maestros German Diez, the legendary Cuban pianist, student and later teaching assistant of Claudio Arrau; and Joseph Bloch, Professor Emeritus, The Julliard School. Honored with performance grants from The Smithsonian Institute and the New York Public Libraries, Ms. Slotchiver gave her solo recital debut at Carnegie Hall as the first prize winner of the Artists International Young Musicians Auditions. A champion of twentieth century composers, Jeni Slotchiver is dedicated to the presentation of new and rarely heard music, and has given the world premieres of many works in major New York City recitals. Anthony Tommasini, in an article published in The New York Times on the eve of the millennium, selected Ms. Slotchiver's debut CD, Busoni The Visionary, as a Critics Choice: Appropriate For Millennial Reflection. David Hurwitz, in Classics Today, wrote, "Her wide range of keyboard color and sense of mystery are quite simply mesmerizing… Positively physical." Ms. Slotchiver participated in two international Busoni Symposiums, and she presented a historic all-Busoni performance at Merkin Concert Hall, the first of its kind in New York City in thirty years. Her three CD series, Busoni The Visionary, received worldwide critical acclaim. "No one plays Busoni's piano music with greater clarity or depth of understanding than Jeni Slotchiver. As she demonstrated in Volume I of this series, this is music she clearly loves and understands both intellectually and intuitively. There is no finer, or more committed, advocate for this greatly underrated composer working today." - Jerry Bowles, Editor, Sequenza/21, NYC. Jeni Slotchiver has performed as recitalist and concerto soloist across the world, from Manhattan's Lincoln Center to the World Piano Conference in Novi Sad, Serbia. American radio and broadcast appearances include, NPR's Performance Today, WNYC's The Fishko Files, WPLN's Live in Studio C, WKCR's Live Constructions, and WQXR's Reflections from the Keyboard with David Dubal. Profiles of Jeni have appeared in, The Los Angeles Times, Piano Magazine, CDNOW, SEQUENZA/21, Mundoclasico, Time Out NY, Café Momus (Budapest), and PЖ (Moscow). Her articles and essays are published in many languages, and featured in prominent music periodicals, including Musical Opinion Quarterly, International Piano and Piano. Following the success of the Busoni The Visionary series, Jeni is humbled to introduce something so intimately close to home. With Southern roots of her own, Ms. Slotchiver's debut ZOHO CD release, American Heritage, is her homage to the legendary composers preserving American folk music and creating anew. What was once familiar, is reborn. Captain Phil filling in for Scott with and interviews concert pianist Jeni Slotchiver, talking about her new album American Heritage. Listen to the attached file.
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  Interview with WUSB: Stoney Brook NY

Jeni Slotchiver - American Heritage takes you to a different world of patience and space / Jazz Weekly


Following the success of the Busoni The Visionary series, Jeni Slotchiver is humbled to introduce something so intimately close to home. With Southern roots of her own, Ms. Slotchiver's debut ZOHO CD release American Heritage is her homage to the legendary composers preserving American folk music and creating anew. What was once familiar, is reborn. Spanning 125 years, from Louis Moreau Gottschalk's The Banjo (ca. 1854-5) to Frederic Rzewski's Down by the riverside (1979), American Heritage presents piano compositions by composers of concert music, inspired by the melodies, dance rhythms, harmonic inventions and various stylistic elements evocative of the American experience. Of the eight composers represented, six are of African descent and two of these are women. There are quotes from spirituals, use of the African American pentatonic scale, the African call and response structure popularized in southern church tradition, polyphonic rhythms of jazz, and the rich, sultry harmonies of blues. With the exception of the rich musical heritage of Indigenous people, the largest and most important American folkloric body of work arrived on American shores with the first enslaved African people.  Jazz Weekly's  George W. Harris writes....Pianist Jeni Slotchiver gives solo interpretations of music from early to late 20th Century, taking you to a different world of patience and space. While classically trained, Slotchiver has a rich blues touch and a bona fide feel for gospel and folk material. Material ranges from a homespun read of "Swanee River" to the spiritual "Down By The Riverside" as well as the folk classic "Shenandoah" but with an arrangement by Keith Jarret. Parlor moods are presented in a collection of pieces from Harry Thacker Burleigh and the genteel pen of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, on "Union" and "The Banjo" while traditional pieces like "Deep River" and even 1967's "Troubled Water" feel like they've both been drawn from the same well. A journey to another world and world view. SEE THE Jazz Weekly PAGE
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Jane Ira Bloom and Mark Helias improvise together over zoom / NPR: Fresh Air


Soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom and bassist Mark Helias come together to create duets discovered in the moment in a way that is rarely heard today with Some Kind of Tomorrow. The long time bandmates, separated by space and time find a way to play in real time with one another and the results are magical. Two master improvisers and composers bring listeners up-close and personal to the first spark of their imaginations at work, recording eleven duet improvisations over the spring, summer, and fall of 2020. The music is raw, authentic, intimate, alive, and unapologetic in its passion. Their sound is deep wood and polished brass recorded with a depth that is hard to describe. They played the music, recorded it, mastered it firsthand and are now making it available to listeners for the first time as a digital download on Bandcamp. Don't miss these fearless jazz explorers as they face the future.   Heard on Fresh Air, here's Kevin Whitehead's piece. LISTEN & READ THE TRANSCRIPT
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Shunia delivers heart-lifting chants for these troubled times / American songwriter


Shunia is a duo that combines addictive melodies, ancient chants and polycultural rhythms into a sound that feels both new and timeless. Their music captures and conveys deep energies and spirit. The state of "shunia" means stillness, receptivity. Shunia's members, Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson both performed with the Washington National Opera for 20 years before finding continued success in their solo careers. Coming together as Shunia, they combined their influences, inspirations and experiences to create genre-defying music with the power to transform and to connect you to the energy within and around you. It can put you in touch with something as simple as your five senses or as mysterious as the infinite. American Songwriter's NADIA NEOPHYTOU writes......To press play on Shunia's new album of chants is to allow a wave of calm and relaxation to wash over one's whole self. For Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson, who've known each other for 30 years, sharing the gift that's been a major part of their lives with others is the reason they began recording together as the duo Shunia in the first place. "Music in and of itself is such a powerful medium," Reagan tells American Songwriter. "It is the language of our humanity and our souls. We know these mantras are tried and true, and we have personally been chanting them for years." READ THE FULL American songwriter ARTICLE
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Ed O'Keefe is the CBS news white house correspondent who came to play / 98.7WFMT Q&A


WFMT: Chicago 's Candice Agree writes....From the age of 3, CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe toiled at a keyboard-not in typing, as unintended preparation for his 13 years at the Washington Post, but in studying classical piano in Delmar, a suburb of Albany, NY. Although he loved playing, his interest in current events and politics pulled him into a journalism career. No stranger to Chicago, in 2008, O'Keefe was in Grant Park the night that Barack Obama was elected president. O'Keefe, 37, is about to become a fixture in the White House press room, as he will cover the Biden administration for the TV network he joined in 2018. But he has never left his first passion far behind. He shared some musical memories with us before taking on his new assignment at CBS News as Senior White House & Political Correspondent.    Photo courtesy CBS News) READ Candice Agree's Q&A with Ed O'Keefe.
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Jane Ira Bloom, Mark Helias 'Some Kind Of Tomorrow' is raw, intimate, and fearless / JAZZ VIEWS


Jane Ira Bloom, Mark Helias 'Some Kind Of Tomorrow' was Reviewed by JAZZ VIEWS Sammy Stein, who wrote........
Saxophone player Jane Ira Bloom and bass player Mark Helias are long-time collaborators. This album was born out of the need to create music in such a unique time where live audiences and in-person studio recordings were impossible. Recorded remotely from their homes, the music stands as a departure from any kind of release they have done together as all tracks are completely improvised. The resulting sound is raw, intimate, and fearless.​ I asked Jane Ira Bloom about the recording, and she explained, " Given how we had to make this made Mark and I rely on the most basic aspect of our collaborative impulse – our two sets of ears. Mark and I have known one another for over 40 years. We first met in New Haven CT in the 1970s, and when you think about it, you build up so much shared vocabulary when you've played with someone over such a long time. We really didn't plan this recording. It happened because we needed to improvise with one another and so the music emerged from a different place than normal when you plan a recording project." READ THE FULL JAZZ VIEWS REVIEW
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Signum Saxophone Quartet - Echoes is the WFMT: Featured New Release


An ensemble that attracts rave reviews and sell-out crowds at prestigious venues everywhere from Vienna to New York, the sensational Signum Saxophone Quartet presents their first Deutsche Grammophon album. Featuring inventive arrangements of music by composers from Dowland to Peter Gregson, as well as Guillermo Lago's Sarajevo, a saxophone quartet original, Echoes showcases the full potential of the saxophone – a modern instrument more than capable of capturing the echoes of the past. For January 19, 2021, the Signum Saxophone Quartet: Echoes is the WFMT: Chicago 'Featured New Release.'
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Neon Jazz catches up with Jane Ira Bloom on new virtual project full of magic


Welcome to a new edition of the Neon Jazz interview series with Legendary Soprano Saxophonist & Composer Jane Ira Bloom .. We caught up on January 15, 2021 to talk about a new virtual project full of magic she did with bassist Mark Helias and the project is called Some Kind of Tomorrow .. They are long time bandmates separated by space and time and found a way to play in real time with one another .. they are both master improvisers and composers and the results are impressive .. Jane is from Boston and has had a great jazz ride that led to Yale, New York City and around the world. LISTEN Neon Jazz is a radio program airing since 2011. Hosted by Joe Dimino and Engineered by John Christopher in Kansas City, Missouri giving listeners a journey into one of America's finest inventions. Take a listen on KCXL (102.9 FM / 1140 AM) out of Liberty, MO. Listen to KCXL on Tunein Radio at http://tunein.com/radio/Neon-Jazz-Wit.... You can now catch Neon Jazz on KOJH 104.7 FM out of the Mutual Musicians Foundation from Noon - 1 p.m. CST Monday-Friday.
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Top 10 Albums for January

Jon Batiste :

'I Need You' from 'We Are'

Multi Grammy & Emmy nominated recording artist, TV star and activist Jon Batiste announces a new single "I Need You" from his forthcoming ‘black pop' album WE ARE. The album is set for worldwide release on March 19 (Verve Records). On "I Need You" Batiste showcases his vocal range, accompanied by his once-in-a-generation musicianship. Produced and written in collaboration with songwriter Autumn Rowe and producer Kizzo, the song is communal and deceptively sophisticated. It fuses the sound of early 20th century black social music, with modern pop production and a hint of hip-hop storytelling. He expertly alternates between belting high notes in full voice, to singing harmony with himself on the choruses, to delivering the verses in a ‘farm rap' style. Batiste then dives into two killer instrumental breaks on both piano and saxophone - all in less than 3 minutes. Says Batiste, "This song is a vibe cleanse. After 2020, this is like a warm hug," says Batiste. "Let's bring the vibes back!"
SIGNUM saxophone quartet :

Echoes

An ensemble that attracts rave reviews and sell-out crowds at prestigious venues everywhere from Vienna to New York, the sensational SIGNUM saxophone quartet are now set to present their first Deutsche Grammophon album. Featuring inventive arrangements of music by composers from Dowland to Peter Gregson, as well as Guillermo Lago's "Sarajevo", a sax quartet original, Echoes is released as an e-album on 15 January 2021, its launch marked by a concert on DG Stage, streamed from the Berlin Meistersaal. SIGNUM saxophone quartet's recording showcases the full potential of the saxophone – a modern instrument but one more than capable of capturing the echoes of the past. Two of its tracks, arrangements of works by the hugely successful contemporary composers Joep Beving and Max Richter, were pre-released as digital singles, complete with e-videos. "Ab Ovo" (arr. Knoth), from Beving's album Prehension, and Richter's "On the Nature of Daylight", from The Blue Notebooks, are out now.
The Album Leaf :

SYNCHRONIC - OMPS

Milan Records announces the release of SYNCHRONIC (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) with music by The Album Leaf.  Available everywhere now, the album features music from the critically acclaimed sci-fi thriller by filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, which is streaming on all platforms from XYZ Films. The 26-track record etches an immersive soundscape underpinned by synth transmissions, organic strings, artful experimentation, and moments of cathartic energy. It runs the gamut of everything from sonic euphoria to mania as turbulent as the action on-screen. It also builds on an ironclad creative partnership between The Album Leaf and the directors as their third collaboration.
Shai Maestro :

Human

In its review of pianist Shai Maestro's leader debut, The Dream Thief, All About Jazz spoke of "a searching lyrical atmosphere, emotional eloquence and communal virtuosity that serves the music." All of which also applies to Human, Maestro's second album as a bandleader on the ECM imprint, which was recorded at Studios la Buissonne in February 2020 and produced by Manfred Eicher. The pianist's outgoing and highly communicative trio with fellow Israeli Ofri Nehemya on drums and Peruvian bassist Jorge Roeder becomes a quartet with the inspired addition of American trumpeter Philip Dizack. Maestro's expansive pianism and differentiated touch is well-matched by Dizack's alert, quick-thinking approach to improvising. "There was always a special understanding between us on how we see music and how we see life," says Maestro. "It's one of those relationships that it feels like it's always been there." Before adding him to the band, Maestro and Dizack played together as sidemen on gigs with numerous groups in New York. "Philip's trumpet playing sounds to me like a human voice speaking to you," says Maestro, "and adding him to the trio takes us to our next level."
Poor Clare Sisters of Arundel :

Light for the World

More than 800 years since they were founded, the Poor Clare Sisters of Arundel – a community of 23 nuns living in the south of England – have found themselves unexpected recording stars. Their album, Light for the World, released by Decca Records in October, is enjoying international chart success and they have become the UK's best-selling classical artist debut of 2020 Now, the Poor Clares are releasing a new digital deluxe version of their album, which combines traditional plainchant with added beats. The new album includes four brand new ‘chill' mixes – a soothing soundtrack for mindfulness and relaxation in challenging times.
Ilan Eshkeri :

A Perfect Planet

Sony Music today announces the January 8, 2021 release of A PERFECT PLANET (SOUNDTRACK FROM THE BBC SERIES) with music by composer ILAN ESHKERI (Stardust, The Young Victoria). Available everywhere now, the album features the music from Eshkeri's fourth collaboration with Sir David Attenborough, the legendary naturalist who will narrate the BBC series. Composer ILAN ESHKERI says: "Creating the music for A Perfect Planet has been a hugely rewarding experience. The series celebrates the extraordinary world we are a part of as well as showing the delicate balance of the systems that support life, and what we need to do to ensure its future stability. It's a message that's very important to me and one that I believe we have a responsibility to engage with – in a way that not only educates but inspires the next generation. This influenced my approach to the music, and set me on an unconventional path. Composing the music for A Perfect Planet has also been enormously challenging – not least because of the unprecedented logistical issues of trying to record an orchestra during the lockdown! I'm grateful to everyone at the BBC and [production company] Silverback who supported me and the ideas I threw at them and I hope my music can play a small part in helping to inspire change."
Jane Ira Bloom, Mark Helias :

Some Kind of Tomorrow

Soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom and bassist Mark Helias come together to create duets discovered in the moment in a way that is rarely heard today with Some Kind of Tomorrow. The long time bandmates, separated by space and time find a way to play in real time with one another and the results are magical. Two master improvisers and composers bring listeners up-close and personal to the first spark of their imaginations at work, recording eleven duet improvisations over the spring, summer, and fall of 2020. The music is raw, authentic, intimate, alive, and unapologetic in its passion. Their sound is deep wood and polished brass recorded with a depth that is hard to describe. They played the music, recorded it, mastered it firsthand and are now making it available to listeners for the first time as a digital download on Bandcamp. Don't miss these fearless jazz explorers as they face the future.  
Catalyst Quartet :

Uncovered Vol. 1 - Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

On Friday, February 5, 2021, GRAMMY Award-winning Catalyst Quartet releases UNCOVERED Volume 1 on Azica Records. The first of a multi-volume set, Volume 1 features the works of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor including his Quintet in G minor for Pianoand Strings with pianist Stewart Goodyear, Fantasiestück, and Quintet in F sharp minor with clarinetist Anthony McGill. UNCOVERED Volume 2 will feature the works of Florence Price and Volume 3 and beyond will feature Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, William Grant Still, and George Walker among others. Catalyst Quartet poses, "Over the course of time there have been many overlooked artists in classical music, especially because of their race or gender. It is important to acknowledge that we have not yet heard the whole story due to this sidelining of musical voices. Composers like Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Florence Price, and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson have contributed beautifully crafted work to the repertoire but are not widely celebrated because quality recordings and performances of their music are rare or non existent. With our next recording project we are helping to change this unfortunate reality."
Laila Biali :

A Case of You - LIVE

SOCAN Music and JUNO Award winner Laila Biali shares an intimate acoustic cover of Joni Mitchell's classic love song, A Case of You, captured live off the floor at Revolution Recording Studios. This heartfelt interpretation, created with Valentine's Day in mind, features George Koller on upright bass and Laila's husband Ben Wittman on djembe.  Laila Biali – vocals, piano, arrangement George Koller – bass Ben Wittman – djembe, mix
Max Richter :

Beethoven - Opus 2020

Max Richter and Deutsche Grammophon are set to release a brand-new orchestral composition to mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birthday. Beethoven – Opus 2020 was commissioned by the Beethoven-Haus Bonn, birthplace of the composer and now a museum, cultural institution and research centre. The British composer's new work will be available on all digital streaming platforms from 17 December, the day on which Beethoven was born. Its world premiere performance is scheduled to take place at the Beethoven-Haus on 16 December and will be streamed live on Deutsche Grammophon's Facebook page. Andante Loops, a piece for solo piano derived by Richter from his Opus 2020 score, meanwhile received its premiere on 11 December in Apple Music's Beethoven Room. The two works will be paired together on a digital EP, available from 18 December. 
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