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  • Womanchild Womanchild Quick View

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    Womanchild

    When CÉcile McLorin Salvant arrived at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC to compete in the finals of the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, she was not only the youngest finalist, but also a mystery woman with the most unusual background of any of the participants. When she walked away with first place in the jazz world's most prestigious contest, the buzz began almost immediately. If anything, it has intensified in the months leading up to the launch of her Mack Avenue Records debut, WomanChild.


    "She has poise, elegance, soul, humor, sensuality, power, virtuosity, range, insight, intelligence, depth and grace," Wynton Marsalis asserts. "I've never heard a singer of her generation who has such a command of styles," remarks pianist Aaron Diehl. "She radiates authority," critic Ben Ratliff wrote in The New York Times in response to one of her post-competition performances, and a few weeks later his colleague Stephen Holden announced that "Ms. McLorin Salvant has it all.... If anyone can extend the lineage of the Big Three-Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald-it is this 23-year-old virtuoso."


    Yet at almost every step of the way, McLorin Salvant has followed a different path from her peers. Born in Miami to a French mother and Haitian father, McLorin Salvant's first language was French. She immersed herself in the classical music tradition, long before she turned to jazz-starting on piano at age five and joining the Miami Choral Society at age eight. When it came time for college, McLorin Salvant bypassed all the US conservatories and jazz schools, heading instead to Aix-en-Provence in France, where she continued to develop as a singer, but with an emphasis on classical and baroque vocal music as well as jazz.
    There, thousands of miles away from jazz's land of origin, McLorin Salvant entered into a fruitful partnership with reed player and teacher Jean-François Bonnel, first as a student and soon as a performer. Before returning to the US, she gave concerts in Paris, recorded with Bonnel's quintet, and immersed herself in the early jazz and blues vocal tradition. By the time she returned to her home country to take the stage in the Monk Competition, she had drawn on this unusual set of formative experiences in shaping a personal style of jazz singing, surprising and dramatic by turns, and very much in contrast to that of the other participants and McLorin Salvant's contemporaries.


    In the aftermath of McLorin Salvant's triumph at the Monk Competition, the jazz world eagerly awaited the winner's first US recording. Answering that call with WomanChild, McLorin Salvant draws on songs spanning three centuries of American music. "I like to choose songs that are a little unknown or have been recorded very few times," McLorin Salvant notes. "While these songs aren't recognized as standards, many should be because they are so beautifully crafted."


    On the album, her repertoire ranges from the 19th century ballad "John Henry," refreshed in a spirited up-to- date arrangement, to McLorin Salvant's own 21st century waltz "Le Front CachÉ Sur Tes Genoux" which draws on a poem by Haitian writer Ida Salomon Faubert for its lyric. She is joined by a world class band who share her concern for creating jazz of today by drawing on vibrant traditions of the past: pianist Aaron Diehl and bassist Rodney Whitaker (both of whom are Mack Avenue label mates), guitarist James Chirillo and master drummer Herlin Riley.


    The old and new rub shoulders throughout this album, but this singer's attitude is neither beholden to the past nor trying to anticipate the trends of the future. Her captivating singing is immersed in the immediacy of the present moment. So much so, that those who have seen McLorin Salvant in concert marvel at how she radiates the confidence and poise of a mature artist even though she is just at the dawn of her own career.


    McLorin Salvant may have the deepest roots of any singer of her generation. She knows the sounds and styles of modern jazz but also possesses complete command of the classic blues and early American vocal tradition. She has studied the entire recorded legacy of the great Bessie Smith (1894-1937), often called the Empress of the Blues, and also has deep familiarity with Valaida Snow, Bert Williams and other early masters of American music. For her, these musicians are exponents of living traditions that she has drawn into the orbit of her own work.


    However, McLorin Salvant can't be pinned down as a jazz traditionalist. Alongside fellow Monk Competition winner Jacky Terrasson, she has recorded works by John Lennon/Yoko Ono and Erik Satie, and can sing in French, Spanish or English as the mood and situation warrant. Knowledgeable jazz fans will identify the influence and inspiration from some of the most distinctive modern jazz stylists, such as Betty Carter, Carmen McRae and Abbey Lincoln. She is also currently continuing her studies of the classical and baroque tradition. In short, McLorin Salvant is a seeker and a creative spirit who is determined to push ahead, even while she shows an extraordinary command of the tradition that has preceded her.


    In his article in The New York Times, critic Stephen Holden listed some of the virtues of McLorin Salvant's singing: "perfect pitch and enunciation, a playful sense of humor, a rich and varied tonal palette, a supple sense of swing, exquisite taste in songs and phrasing, and a deep connection to lyrics." Her musical skills are considerable, but they are matched by an interpretive ability that is almost more akin to an actor's than a singer's. She draws out the story hidden inside the song, and can draw on the elements of her own personality and a full gamut of emotional stances-from the darkly troubling to the richly comic-in bringing lyrics to life.


    "I want to get as close to the center of the song as I can," McLorin Salvant explains. "When I find something beautiful and touching I try to get close to it, and share that with the audience."


    On WomanChild, McLorin Salvant gives music lovers the chance to hear why the illustrious judges at the Monk Competition gave her top honors. McLorin Salvant is still a bit of a mystery, but she will hardly be a secret any longer.

    1. St. Louis Gal
    2. I Didn't Know What Time It Was
    3. Nobody
    4. WomanChild
    5. Prelude/There's A Lull In My Life
    6. You Bring Out The Savage In Me
    7. Baby Have Pity On Me
    8. John Henry
    9. Jitterbug Waltz
    10. What A Little Moonlight Can Do
    11. Deep Dark Blue
    Cecile McLorin Salvant
    $35.99
    Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
  • Seeds From The Underground Seeds From The Underground Quick View

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    Seeds From The Underground

    Over the course of a stellar career that has spanned more than 30 years, saxophonist Kenny Garrett has become the preeminent alto saxophonist of his generation. From his first gig with the Duke Ellington Orchestra (led by Mercer Ellington) through his time spent with musicians such as Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis, Garrett has always brought a vigorous yet melodic, and truly distinctive, alto saxophone sound to each musical situation. As a bandleader for the last two decades, he has also continually grown as a composer. With his latest recording (and second for Mack Avenue Records), Seeds From The Underground, Garrett has given notice that these qualities have not only become more impressive, but have provided him with the platform to expand his horizons and communicate his musical vision clearly. Seeds From The Underground is a powerful return to the straight-ahead, acoustic and propulsive quartet format that showcases Garrett's extraordinary abilities.


    For Garrett, Seeds From The Underground is a special recording. It once again consists of all original compositions, and is truly an homage to those who have inspired and influenced him, both personally and musically. "All of these songs are dedicated to someone," says Garrett. "And the 'seeds' have been planted, directly or indirectly, by people who have been instrumental in my development."


    With Seeds From The Underground Garrett has crafted a project that offers his appreciation while always making the listener aware of his band's skillful approach to melody, harmony and rhythm. From personal nods such as the opening track "Boogety Boogety," dedicated to his memory of watching western films with his father (the title refers to the sound of a galloping horse); "Wiggins," which references his high school band director Bill Wiggins; and "Detroit," an evocative, reflective composition about his hometown, and a celebration of mentor Marcus Belgrave; to his appreciation of some of his musical heroes on "J Mac" (Jackie McLean); "Haynes Here" (Roy Haynes); and "Do Wo Mo" (Duke Ellington, Woody Shaw and Thelonious Monk).


    Melody, as a matter of fact, was a key element for the saxophonist when writing for the recording. "I wanted to focus on the melody," Garrett reflects. "I want people to remember what the melody is before we start improvising and on some songs I heard voices, the singing of the melody." This latter point is in evidence on the selections "Haynes Here," "Detroit" and "Welcome Earth Song."


    Another notable component compositionally for Garrett on Seeds From The Underground is his approach to rhythm and meter. Over the past few years, one of the most popular and acclaimed groups that he has been a part of is the GRAMMY® award winning Five Peace Band, joining guitarist John McLaughlin, pianist Chick Corea, bassist Christian McBride, and drummers Vinnie Colaiuta and Brian Blade. His participation in that band led him to experiment with writing in different meters. "Some of these songs are in odd meters; in my experience with John, we played some songs in odd meters, so I thought, this is a different way of writing songs," Garrett states. "So there is some of that approach here."


    Garrett's current working band is very much up to the task on Seeds From The Underground. And like all successful bandleaders, Garrett knows what he wants musically and has formed a band that will best communicate his message (with implicit trust among one another). Bassist Nat Reeves is a rhythmic anchor and a long-standing member of Garrett's past aggregations. However, for this recording, Garrett thought a lot about the talents of fellow Detroiter, drummer Ronald Bruner, as well as Venezuelan pianist Benito Gonzalez. "When I decided I wanted to do the album, I had Ronald in mind; I thought that he would work well on these songs. And Benito has been in my band for a while, and we talked conceptually about how I hear the piano in the band. McCoy Tyner is my man, so I wanted to have more of that sound, and there aren't a lot of young guys around who are dealing with that like Benito is." Percussionist Rudy Bird also provides a driving, rhythmic pulse to the recording.


    A very important contributor to Seeds From The Underground is the project's co-producer: pianist, composer and educator, Donald Brown. His friendship with Garrett goes back to their days with Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers. He has been an integral part of past Garrett recordings, and has been a musical inspiration for him. "I feel comfortable in the studio with him and I know he's going to hear what I hear, because we think alike in how we hear music," states Garrett. "I've also always admired his compositions and he was really inspired by these compositions, so he was glad that we were able to hook back up on this project."


    Garrett has always expressed interest in music from other parts of the world. Whether it's Africa, Greece, Indonesia, China or Guadeloupe, he immerses himself in the culture and gleans from his experience something that becomes a part of his artistic message. On Seeds From The Underground, the African-influenced "Welcome Earth Song" and "Laviso, I Bon?" (the latter was inspired by a musician friend in Guadeloupe) are prime examples.


    The album highlights Garrett's overall approach to music: wide-ranging, receiving ideas from all musical sources and genres. Garrett states, "I love the challenge of trying to stay open about music and about life. If it's music, I just try to check it out. Right now I'm listening to some music from Martinique and I'm lovin' it. If I like it, maybe I can incorporate some of it into what I do." As for composing: "I don't try to control what I write," he says. "Music comes from 'The Creator.' It's a gift that's coming in, and I receive it. I write in all genres, and I'm writing all the time. It's never about what it is I just say thank you."


    Seeds From The Underground is the latest stop on what continues to be a fascinating musical journey for Kenny Garrett and his listeners. It's a recording that is not only a significant personal statement from the saxophonist, but a musical declaration of his continued growth as a musician, and in particular, as a composer.

    1. Boogety Boogety
    2. J. Mac
    3. Wiggins
    4. Haynes Here
    5. Detroit
    6. Seeds from the Underground
    7. Du-Wo-Mo
    8. Welcome Earth Song
    9. Ballad Jarrett
    10. Laviso, I Bon?
    Kenny Garrett
    $27.99
    180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
  • Common Ground Common Ground Quick View

    $27.99
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    Common Ground

    Available on audiophile 180 gram double vinyl for the first time courtesy of Mack Avenue Records.

    On Common Ground, Gary Burton's debut release on Mack Avenue Records, the Grammy-winning pioneer of the four-mallet technique of playing the vibes is not only delivering his first studio album since 2005, but is also introducing his latest band. Well-known throughout his five-decade career for his quartets (beginning with his 1967 group featuring Larry Coryell, Roy Haynes and Steve Swallow), Burton is returning to the configuration for the first time since the mid-90s.

    He expresses great enthusiasm for the new band's alchemy. "I've always liked the vibraphone-guitar sound," says Burton, whose masterful vibes glisten throughout Common Ground. "It's something that I discovered when Nashville country guitarist Hank Garland invited me in the '60s to record with him. The sound of the two instruments together has an ideal timbre and coolness."

    Musicians:

    - Gary Burton (vibes)

    - Scott Colley (bass)

    - Julian Lage (guitar)

    - Antonio Sanchez (drums)

    LP1

    1. Late Night Sunrise

    2. Never The Same Way

    3. Common Ground

    4. Was It So Long Ago?

    5. Etude


    LP2

    1. Last Snow

    2. Did You Get It?

    3. My Funny Valentine

    4. Banksy

    5. In Your Quiet Place

    The New Gary Burton Quartet
    $27.99
    180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
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