Tag: 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. 

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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.

 

Throwback: John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout its eight year history, you’d know that it’s an annual tradition to post John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme on September 11th. Personally, it’s an annual tradition in my home that goes back to 2005: On that particular September 11th, I had returned home from a day job at a small Midtown Manhattan-based publisher to my father cooking and playing A Love Supreme on the living room stereo loudly — so loudly that it almost felt and sounded as though the each of the legendary musicians of those sessions were playing right in our living room. My father wasn’t exactly the most thoughtful or even mindful person but in light of such terrifying and awful events, it seemed to be one of the most thoughtful things he’s done in many years; after all, the album is not just a reminder of the profound beauty we are sometimes capable of, as well an album that humbly contemplates the nature of God and of God’s love. And while I’ve long been an atheist, needing to contemplate our beauty and goodness in light of such terrible events seemed necessary and life affirming. 

As a native New Yorker, September 11th has a much different meaning than for other Americans. Back on September 11, 2011, I was finishing my final semester at NYU and there are a handful of things I’ll always remember: I had met my friend Jill later that day, and as we were walking down 71st Street/Continental Avenue towards the TGI Friday’s on Austin Street and 70th Street, we saw a number of our fellow New Yorkers covered in concrete dust — and everyone walking around in a daze, not knowing what happened or what to do; the utterly unfamiliar silence of three days without airplanes or much traffic; and the missing posters the tweet from ceiling to floor, east to west across Sixth Avenue at the West 4th Street, A,B,C,D,E,F and M subway station. (Editor’s Note: The M train didn’t stop there at the time; the long discontinued V train did though.) Each of those posters included a picture that captured their loved one in the fullness of their lives, smiling awkwardly, as everyone would do in extremely posed photos or doing something they loved. Written on the poster, the family, the friends, the coworkers wrote “My friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/brother/sister, etc. was last seen on the 103rd floor/the 98th floor/the 93rd floor . . . “And from the posters, there was this unshakeable sense that most of those poor souls would never be found again — and that the family would be left to try to piece together their lives without someone they loved and cherished. The funny thing is that we talk so much about closure but in life there really is no closure; things are incomplete and frustratingly unresolved, and we have to accept that — perhaps even more so when your loved one dies in such a senseless and inexplicable fashion. 

I’ll leave you with this: life sometimes can be so overwhelmingly difficult — to the point that it can be difficult to figure out how to keep pushing forward. And perhaps even more so when everything seems to suggest that humanity is inching its way closer to its own annihilation. But in light of such terrible events today, cherish the small things and hold on to them dearly. They’re all we have. 

Born in Washington, DC and currently based in Austin, TX, Zapot Mgwana never knew his father, but his mother, who worked for the Ethiopian Embassy always told him that Herman Poole Blount (a.k.a. Sun Ra) was his father. When Mgwana was nine, he and his mother moved to Nigeria, where he spent most of his formative years. Recently Mgwana returned to the States and formed his musical project The Golden Dawn Arkestra — and much like the work of Sun Ra, Mgwana’s Arkestra focuses on intergalactic travel, transcendence, and time travel but while sonically pairing deep grooves and cinematic quality with a world spanning expansiveness.

Children of the Sun, The Golden Dawn Arkestra’s finds the band further cementing their growing reputation for an expansive, globe spanning sound with album’s material inspired by the sounds of Berlin, Brazil, psych rock, disco, soul and world music. In fact, Children of the Sun‘s latest single “Lovely Day” sounds as though the band were drawing from Bossa Nova, Afrobeat and the work of Ennio Morricone — it’s an expansive, global and forward looking take on the large band format that manages to be mischievously retro-futuristic and with a kaleidoscopic vibe. 

Currently comprised of founding duo Soulive‘s Alan Evans (drums) and The New Mastersounds’ Eddie Roberts (guitar), along with Chris Spies (keys), Kevin Scott (bass), who’s a member of Jimmy Herring‘s backing band, Adyron de Leon (vocals) and Pimps of Joytime’s Kimberly Dawson, Matador! Soul Sounds can trace their origins to when Evans and Roberts were touring together with their respective main gigs, and as Roberts explains in press notes, “The idea came about one night while we were drinking wine in a bar in DC, when I turned to Alan and asked ‘can we start a band together?’ Alan obviously shared the same sentiment, as we are here today launching the debut album!”

Interestingly, the band is loosely centered around the concept of Spanish bullfighting. A common American misconception of bullfighting is that it’s the feat off one man versus one bull; but rather, bullfighting is largely a team effort in which the matter is backed by his cuadrilla, his team, his corner — and its actually much more like boxing. Additionally, the band’s name is partially a nod at Grant Green’Matador, which both Evans and Roberts had liked immensely. Sonically, Matador! Soul Sounds approach draws from its founders shared musical passions including jazz, funk and soul, but in a subtly different fashion than the individual band leader’s previous work.

The act’s latest single  “Theme for a Private Investigator” finds the act drawing from crispy, Southern fried funk, soul and blues in a way that may remind some listeners of Matthew Stubbs and the Antiguas, as Matador! Soul Sounds nods at the work of Booker T and the MG’s, as well as Muscle Shoals and The Meters while possessing an incredibly cinematic, 70s TV theme song like quality; in fact, you can probably picture the show’s protagonist and his wise-cracking sidekick strutting to their badass car, fighting bad guys, saving the girl and what not to the song, and it makes perfect sense.

The All-Star act’s full-length debut Get Ready is slated for release next week — both digitally and on vinyl, and they’ll be embarking on a national tour to support the album, which will include a March 17, 2018 stop at Brooklyn Bowl. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.
Tour Dates
3/15 @ Rex Theatre – Pittsburgh, PA – tix
3/16 @ Union Stage – Washington, DC – tix
3/17 @ [Pacifico Presents] Brooklyn Bowl – Brooklyn, NY – tix
3/18 @ Fairfield Theatre Company – Fairfield, CT – tix
3/19 @ Brighton Music Hall – Boston, MA – tix
3/21 @ The Ardmore Music Hall – Ardmore, PA – tix
3/22 @ Martyr’s – Chicago, IL – tix – tix
3/23 @ Cervantes’ Other Side – Denver, CO – tix
3/24 @ Fox Theatre – Boulder, CO – tix
3/26 @ Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA – tix
3/28 @ Jack London Revue – Portland, OR – tix
3/29 @ Nectar Lounge – Seattle, WA – tix