Archive for May 20th, 2010

Esperanza Spalding – Chamber Music Society

Centuries ago, long before the advent of radio or recording technology, chamber music was the music for the masses – the music in which people from nearly every segment of society could find meaning and relevance. A decade into the 21st century, Esperanza Spalding – the bassist, vocalist and composer who first appeared on the jazz scene in 2008 – takes a contemporary approach to this once universal form of entertainment with Chamber Music Society.

Backed by drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and pianist Leo Genovese – and inspired by the classical training of her younger years – Esperanza creates a modern chamber music group that combines the spontaneity and intrigue of improvisation with sweet and angular string trio arrangements. The result is a sound that weaves the innovative elements of jazz, folk and world music into the enduring foundations of classical music.

“So much of my early musical experience was spent playing chamber music on the violin, and it’s a form of music that I’ve always loved,” says Esperanza. “I was very inspired by a lot of classical music, and chamber music in particular. I’m intrigued by the concept of intimate works that can be played and experienced among friends in an intimate setting. So I decided to create my version of contemporary chamber music, and add one more voice to that rich history.”

Chamber Music Society is a place where connoisseurs of classical music and jazz devotees – and fans of other musics as well – can find common ground. The recording offers a chamber music for modern times – one that brings together people of different perspectives and broadens their cultural experience, just as it did in an earlier age.

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Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden – Jasmine

jasmineKeith Jarrett and Charlie Haden back together again! Thirty three years after the break-up of Keith Jarrett’s great “American Quartet” , the pianist and bassist Charlie Haden reunited for an album of standards, played with deep feeling. The program on Jasmine, includes such classic songs as “Body and Soul”, “For All We Know” , “Where Can I Go Without You”, “Don’t Ever Leave Me” and more. Intimate, spontaneous and warm, the album, recorded at Jarrett’s home, has affinities, in its unaffected directness, with his The Melody At Night, With You. Jarrett and Haden play the music and nothing but the music – as only they can.

Early in 2007, Keith Jarrett was invited to contribute some reminiscences to a film documentary about Charlie Haden (Reto Caduff’s “Rambling Boy”). This led to some informal playing together (the first time since the 1976 break-up of the “American Quartet”). A few months later, Jarrett invited Haden to his home studio and they recorded in duo over a four day period in March 2007.

Keith Jarrett (from the liner notes): “This recording was done in my small studio. So it is direct and straightforward. I chose to use the American Steinway that really isn’t at all in the best of shape, yet I have this strange connection with it, and it is better for a kind of informality and slight funkiness that was going to work with the music. With a choice of songs this good, it was hard not to become engaged right away. We did not rehearse per se, but went over chords when necessary….Over close to three years we lived with these tapes, talked a lot about them, disputed over choices, but eventually I found Charlie to be the most remarkable and sensitive helper in getting this finally assembled. I wanted only the distilled essence of what we had, and it took some time to wean ourselves from going for hip solos or unevenly played tunes (even though they had wonderful things inside them). This is spontaneous music made on the spot without any preparation save our dedication throughout our lives that we won’t accept a substitute. These are great love songs played by players who are trying, mostly, to keep the message intact. I hope you can hear it the way we did.”

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Jonathan Butler – So Strong

He is a guitarist, he is a vocalist, but foremost he is the lively personification of joie de vivre. I had the opportunity to attend his performance at Warren Hill’s Smooth Jazz cruise in 2005. When Jonathan Butler goes onstage, he mesmerizes the audience with his incredible voice. his fantastic presence and his charismatic attitude.

He became popular with his huge hits Lies, Sarah, Sarah or More Than Friends. Fostering his popularity with numerous concerts in Europe, South Africa and the US he still maintains the status of a superstar.

His new album So Strong is his 15th solo collection, offering a bouquet of fourteen compelling songs. “You can’t keep your head down all the time. You have to celebrate. With all that’s presently going on in the world, I felt the need to give something to the fans, to offer hope. I had to get to that fun place again. The album is a departure; it’s optimistic and positive. It’s get up-and-dance, and feel good. It’s all about just letting go. It’s about fun with flavor and a lot of feeling. I call it the three Fs: fun, flavor and feeling,” chuckles Jonathan.

Jonathan Butler produced and arranged the album, played most of the instruments, including guitars, bass and keyboards and brought in his friends Rick Braun, Dave Koz, Michael Lington, and Gordon Campbell. Butler’s daughters Randy and Jodie sing background vocals.

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