Category: jazz

New Audio: Cochemea Gastelum Returns with a Thoughtful and Gorgeous New Composition

Perhaps best known for a 15-year stint as a member of the acclaimed soul act and JOVM mainstays Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, the California-born, New York-based multi-instrumentalist Cochemea Gastelum simultaneously has a lengthy career as a soloist, bandleader, musical director, composer and ensemble player — including releasing a critically applauded effort as a bandleader, The Electric Sound of Johnny Arrow several years ago. 

With both of his parents being musicians, Gastelum grew up in a rather musical home. And although the multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, musical director and composer can claim Yaqui Mescalero Apache Indian heritage — in fact, his name is Yaqui Mescalero Apache for “they were all asleep” — he grew up without knowing much about his own heritage. Ironically though, he has spent the bulk of his musical career writing, performing and recording various iterations of roots music. 

Slated for a February 22, 2019 release through Daptone Records, Gastelum’s soon-to-be released effort All My Relations find the California-born, New York-based former member of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings connecting with his roots through music.  “All My Relations is a way for me to explore my roots through music,” the California-born, New York-based saxophonist, bandleader, musical director and composer says in press notes. “Some of it is a memory that is imagined from a time and place I’ve never been (‘Sonora’) or a musical impression of ritual (‘Mitote’). I felt compelled to add the way I feel when I go to ceremony, when I feel connected with my ancestors, to the musical narrative.”

Originally conceived during Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings’ final year of touring, Gastelum along with Daptone Records head and producer Gabriel Roth cast a varied but familial set of local musicians to bring Gastelum’s ideas to life. Unsurprisingly, a large portion of the album was created through improvisation and collective writing, where its  10 musicians created a melodic, percussive conversation. “It was a beautiful experience – people would start playing and we’d work up these arrangements on the spot, then record it,” Gastelum says of the recording sessions. Now, as you may recall, the album title track and first single “All My Relations” featured an arrangement of tribal percussion, chanting, ethereal flute, and a gently propulsive bass line that created a composition that feels ceremonial and suggests that the musicians were aiming for something much more profound and necessary — a connection with the infinite. 

All My Relations’ second and latest single “Al-Mu’Tasim” derives its name from the Arabic phrase “he who seeks shelter in God.” Sonically, the track is reportedly by Moroccan Gnawa music, and as a result the track consists of a composition centered around a looping and expressive horn line, a sinuous and bass line, tribal drumming and a chanted chorus. Sonically, the composition manages to recall the most gorgeous and thoughtful elements of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme — but with a tribal and ancient vibe. “This track features Gabe [Roth] on the Gimbre. He has some North African ancestry and had a Gimbre that his dad brought him back from Morocco. It’s influenced by Gnawa music from the region,” Gastelum says in press notes. 

New Audio: Acclaimed Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings Member Releases a Song that Aims for the Timeless

Best known for a 15-year stint as a member of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, the California-born, New York-based multi-instrumentalist Cochemea Gastelum has a lengthy and acclaimed career as a soloist, bandleader, musical director, composer and ensemble player, including releasing a critically applauded album The Electric Sound of Johnny Arrow several years ago.

Interestingly, Gastelum, who has Yaqui Mescalero Apache Indian heritage, grew up in a rather musical home — with both of his parents being musicians. And although his name actually means “they were all killed asleep,” he grew up without knowing much about his own heritage.  Ironically, the California-born New York-based saxophonist, bandleader, musical director, composer has spent the bulk of his musical career writing, performing and recording various iterations of roots music; but his forthcoming solo effort All My Relations, which is slated for a February 22, 2019 release through Daptone Records finds Gastelum connecting with his roots through music. “All My Relations is a way for me to explore my roots through music,” the California-born, New York-based saxophonist, bandleader, musical director and composer says in press notes. “Some of it is a memory that is imagined from a time and place I’ve never been (‘Sonora’) or a musical impression of ritual (‘Mitote’). I felt compelled to add the way I feel when I go to ceremony, when I feel connected with my ancestors, to the musical narrative.”

Originally conceived during Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings’ final year of touring, Gastelum along with Daptone Records head and producer Gabriel Roth casted a varied but familial set of local musicians to bring Gastelum’s ideas to life. Unsurprisingly, a large portion of the album was created through improvisation and collective writing, where its  10 musicians created a melodic, percussive conversation. “It was a beautiful experience – people would start playing and we’d work up these arrangements on the spot, then record it,” Gastelum says of the recording sessions. 

Album title track and first single “All My Relations” is centered by an arrangement featuring tribal percussion, chants, ethereal flute, and a gently propulsive bass line to create a type of ceremonial music that feels and sounds primordial and older than our own perception of time. But perhaps most important, the track finds the musicians aiming for something much more profound — a connection with the infinite. 

 

Throughout the course of this site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, bassist and JOVM mainstay Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner, and as you may recall Thundercat has developed a reputation as a highly-desired collaborator and a critically applauded solo artist; in fact, he has collaborated with Kendrick Lamar  on Lamar’s Grammy Award-winning album, To Pimp A Butterfly and  Brainfeeder Records labelmate, Kamasi Washington’s The Epic, which he promptly followed up with one of my favorite releases of 2015, the mini-album The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam. 2017’s Drunk, Bruner’s critically applauded third full-length album was written as an epic journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the singer/songwriter and bassist, and it featured an All-Star list of collaborators including some of his go-to collaborators Kamasi Washington, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa and Pharrell Williams, along with Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins.

Currently comprised of founding members Matthew Tavares (keys), Chester Hansen (bass), and Alexander Sowinski (drums) with newest member Leland Whitty (saxophone), the Toronto, Ontario, Canada instrumental act BADBADNOTGOOD derive their name from an abandoned comedy TV project that Tavares was working on before the band formed – and whether as trio or a quartet, the band has developed a reputation for a sound and compositional approach that draws from hip-hop, electronica, jazz, prog rock; but they’re perhaps best known for their jazz-based interpretation of hip-hop tracks, which have allowed them to collaborate with Kendrick Lamar, Tyler The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Denzel Curry, Danny Brown, Mick Jenkins, Ghostface Killah and others. Interestingly, the band can trace its origins to when the band’s founding trio bonding over a mutual love of hip-hop – in particular MF Doom and Odd Future.

As the story goes, the then-trio played a piece based on Odd Future’s music for a panel of their jazz performance instructors, who didn’t believe it had much musical value – but interestingly enough, after they released the track as “The Odd Future Sessions, Part 1,” the track caught the attention of Tyler The Creator, who helped the video go viral. The Canadian act followed that up with the 2011 release of their full-length debut BBNG, which featured interpretations of A Tribe Called Quest, Waka Flocka Flame and Odd Future. Building upon a growing profile, the members of BADBADNOTGOOD recorded a live jam session with Tyler The Creator in Sowinski’s basement, with videos from the session amassing more than a million views each.

2012’s sophomore effort BBNG2 was recorded over the course of a ten-hour studio session and featured Leland Whitty (saxophone) and Luan Phung (electric guitar) and featured their own original material, as well as renditions of songs by Kanye West, My Bloody Valentine, James Blake, Earl Sweatshirt and Feist. That year, the band was the official Coachella Festival house band, backing Frank Ocean and Odd Future over the course of its two weekends.

2013 saw the release of III, which featured “Hedron,” a track that was also featured on the compilation album Late Night Tales: Bonobo; “CS60” and “Can’t Leave the Night,” which was released with the B-side “Sustain,” and they were involved on the soundtrack for The Man with the Iron Fists, assisting with the production and composition.

2015’s fourth, full-length album Sour Soul, found them collaborating with Ghostface Killah – and interestingly, the album is more of a hip-hop album that nods at (and is largely influenced by) jazz. They ended the year with covers of a handful of holiday standards, including “Christmas Time Is Here” with Choir! Choir! Choir!

Leland Whitty joined the band as a full-time member in early 2016, and they followed that up with producing “Hoarse” off Earl Sweatshirt’s full-length debut Doris and “GUV’NOR,” a remix, which appeared on JJ DOOM’s Keys to the Kuffs (Butter Edition). By the middle of that year, BADBADNOTGOOD released their fifth full-length album IV, an album that featured guest spots from Future Islands’ Sam Herring, Colin Stetson, Kaytranada,Mick Jenkins and Charlotte Day Wilson, and was named BBC Radio 6’s #1 album of the year.

Interestingly, Thundercat and BADBADNOTGOOD have collaborated on what may arguably be one of the most hotly-anticipated collaborations in recent memory, “King of the Hill,” a track that’s a seamless meshing of Bruner’s soulful and dreamy falsetto with his dexterous bass work, a swaggering, boom-bap like backbeat from BADBADNOTGOOD and an atmospheric and shimmering production from Flying Lotus — and as a result, the track manages to be a soulful yet psychedelic take on jazz fusion that’s retro-futuristic yet incredibly contemporary.

Look for the track to be featured on Brainfeeder Records’ forthcoming 36 track Brainfeeder X compilation, and the compilation which is is slated for a November 16, 2018 release will celebrate the label’s decade of releasing the work of fearless and uncompromisingly forward-looking artists that will be split into volumes — a retrospective of their critically applauded releases and the other featuring even more forward-thinking work and collaborations.