Tag: jazz

Norwegian instrumental tropical funk/pop outfit Orions Belte — Øyind Blomstrøm (guitar), Chris Holm (bass) and Kim Åge Furuhaug (drums) — features members who have spent the bulk of their lives and professional careers as touring musicians. Naturally, they’ve been on the road — a lot. As the story goes, when Blomstrøm’s and Holm’s paths crossed for what seemed like the umpteenth time, they bonded over a mutual desire to create instrumental music, and they then decided to start a band together. The duo then recruited Holm’s Bergen scene pal Kim Åge Furuhaug to complete the band’s lineup.

With the release of 2018’s Mint, the Norwegian trio quickly established a genre-defying, style-mashing sound that draws from a wide and eclectic array of sources including 70s Nigerian rock, postcards from French Riviera, Formula One traces at Monza and 1971’s “Fight of the Century” between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali.

2019’s Slim EP featured inventive reworkings of songs they love by artists they love, including Ghostface Killah‘s “Cherchez La Ghost,” Milton Nascimento‘s Tudo O Que Você Podia Ser”– and an original cut that pays homage to Norwegian beat group The Pussycats and the Mac Miller. 

Although the past two years may arguably be some of the most challenging years in recent memory for musicians and other creatives, the Norwegian trio haver remained extremely busy: In 2020, they released a handful of singles including “Bean” and 600m per minute, an EP of experimental compositions that derived its title from an elevator in Tokyo that can transport 40 people at a time a maximum speed of 600 meters per minute. The EP found the trio pushing the boundaries of instrumental music as they possibly could.

Last year’s sophomore album Villa Amorini derived its name from a popular Bergen nightclub; the place in town where everything happened — and where you needed to be, to be a part of it. Originally opened in the 80s as a fine dining spot, the business gradually evolved into an extravagant nightclub, where you’d see artists and DJs in loud t-shirts and oversized sunglasses. The album saw the trio meshing elements of underground pop, psych and world music, while further cementing their reputation for their ability to pull in listeners of diverse genres and styles. And with that understanding in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that the album’s material sets up a particular scene: the energy and vibe of a busy downtown sidewalk with intricately layered arrangements meant to draw you in and leave the listener wondering where it will lead.

A few weeks after Villa Amorini‘s release, the trio followed up with a Lagniappe Session EP in collaboration with Aquarium Drunkard. That June saw the release of their first live album, Scenic Route, which featured recordings from their live-streamed outdoor shows from the previous year.

Continuing their reputation for restless prolificacy, the Norwegian trio will be releasing a 3LP box set consisting of a solo album from each member — just like KISS did in 1978, they’ll gladly mention. The full 3LP box set is slated for November 18, 2022 release through Jansen Records: Chris Holm’s solo, self-titled album, a trippy psych pop-inspired affair was released last November. Øyvind Blomstrøm’s solo self-titled album, a funky mix of psych folk, psych funk, and psych blues was released earlier this year.

Last but not least, the band’s Kim Åge Furuhaug will be releasing his solo, self-titled album on November 18 2022, which coincides with the release of the of the box set. Furuhaug’s solo album is a sonic left-turn from Furuhaug’s work with Orions Belte: The album is a jazz album co-written and co-produced with Matias Tellez that features some of Norway’s finest jazz musicians, including Ole Morten Vågan (upright bass), Andreas Ulvo (piano, keys, organ) and Lars Horntveth (saxophone, clarinet, percussion, guitar).

“Jangle Med,” the first single of Furuhaug’s solo album is a meditative and expansive composition that seems indebted to classic bop jazz — in particular, Kind of Blue-era Miles Davis comes to mind. The arrangement is roomy enough for a warm and dreamy introduction featuring bursts of pedal steel, followed by gorgeous and soulful piano and clarinet solos from Horntveth.

New Video: Makaya McCraven Shares Gorgeous “The Fours”

Makaya McCraven is an acclaimed Paris-born Chicago-based jazz percussionist, beatmaker and producer, who has released a remarkable run of critically applauded, genre-defying and re-defining albums that includes 2015’s The Moment, 2017’s Highly Rare, 2018’s Universal Beings, 2020’s We’re New Again and Universal Beings E&F Sides, and last year’s Deciphering the Message

McCraven’s newest album, In These Times is slated for a September 23, 2022 release through International Anthem/Nonesuch/XL Recordings. The album is a collection of polytemporal compositions inspired as much by broader cultural struggles as it is by McCraven’s personal experience as the product of a multinational, working class musician community. In These Times‘ material was seven years in the making, and was consistently in process in the background while McCraven was in the middle of his critically applauded run of albums. 

Featuring contributions from a talented cast of collaborators including Jeff ParkerJunius PaulBrandee Younger, Joel RossMarquis Hill, Lia KohlMacie StewartZara ZaharievaMarta Sofia HonerGreg Ward, Irvin Pierce, Matt GoldGreg SperoDe’Sean Jones, and Rob Clearfield, the new album was recorded in five different studios and four live performance spaces while McCraven engaged in extensive post-production work at home. Sonically, the album sees McCraven and his collaborators weaving orchestral, large ensemble arrangements with the “organic beat music” sound that’s become his signature sound. The end result is an album that’s reportedly a bold and decided evolution for McCraven as a composer and as a producer. 

So far I’ve written about two tracks off In These Times:

  • Seventh String,” a dazzling and dizzying composition featuring rolling bursts of polyrhythmic drumming and beats, glistening, finger plucked guitar, gorgeous orchestral strings, twinkling bursts of harp and soulful flute lines. While the composition smudges then blurs the lines between J. Dilla-like beatmaking and jazz, it sees the musicians carefully walking a tightrope between chaos and order, free-flowing improvisation and structured composition in a way that’s thoughtful, mischievous, and forceful yet breathtaking. 
  • Dream Another” features Brandee Younger (harp), Junius Paul (bass), Matt Gold (guitar, sitar) and De’Sean Jones (flute) on a gorgeous and expansive composition that simultaneously nods at 70s soul jazz and jazz fusion and psychedelia in a way that reminds me a bit of synthesis of Return to Forever, Mahavisnu Orchestra and J. Dilla. 

In These Times‘ third and latest single “The Fours” is centered around a gorgeous yet mind-bending arrangement featuring Younger’s twinkling and explosive bursts of harp, shuffling layers of polyrhythmic beats, looping horn lines. Sonically, “The Fours” is a synthesis of bop-era jazz and DJ Premier-like boom bap.

Directed by Ryosuke Tanzawa, the gorgeously cinematic accompanying video features a dreamy mixture of the natural and the man-made here in New York City.

Next Monday, McCraven will perform music from In These Times at Public Records with an All-Star cast that will include Junius Paul, Brandee Younger, De’Sean Jones and the string quartet from the album — Marta Sofia Honer, Macie Stewart, Zara Zaharieva and Lia Kohl.

New Video: Seattle’s High Pulp Shares Surreal and Symbolic Visual for “You’ve Got to Pull It Up From The Ground” feat. Theo Croker

Seattle-based jazz outfit High Pulp features:

  • Antoine Martel (keys, synths), a self-professed mad scientist with a wall of modular synthesizers and a passion for film scores and abstract soundscapes
  • Rob Homan (keys), whose innate ability to process, deconstruct and reassemble material on the fly bordered on the impressive and scary
  • Scott Rixon (bass), who comes from a punk and hardcore background and possesses pop sensibilities
  • Victor Nguyen (tenor sax), a Pharaoh Sanders acolyte with an ear for urgent, entrancing solos
  • Andrew Morrill (alto sax), whose bold tones and fearless harmonic sensibilities earned him a reputation for pushing the old school into the 21st Century
  • Bobby Granfelt (drums), whose hip-hop and bebop-inspired drumming laid the rhythmic foundation for the entire project

High Pulp can trace their origins to a loose, weekly jam session at Seattle’s historic Royal Room. “When you put us all together, our sound isn’t so much a fusion as it is a synthesis,” the band’s Bobby Granfelt says in press notes. ““There’s a lot of different personalities coming from a lot of different places, and we use it all as fuel to create something that’s totally our own.”

The Seattle sextet’s latest album Pursuit of Ends is slated for a Friday release through Anti- Records. The band’s unique brand of experimental jazz is simultaneously vintage and futuristic, often hinting at Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Aphex Twin and My Bloody Valentine and a wide range of others. The album’s material sees the band carefully balancing meticulous composition with visceral spontaneity and centered around virtuosic performances.

While High Pulp is primarily centered around their core six, Pursuit of Ends sees the band making judicious use of a board network of collaborators with guest spots from Jaleel Shaw (sax), who has played with Roy Haynes and Mingus Big Band; Brandee Younger (harp), who has played with Ravi Coltrane, The Roots, and Makaya McCraven; Grammy-nominated Theo Croker (trumpet); Jacob Mann (keys), who has played with Rufus Wainright and Louis Cole to help push their sonic boundaries even further.

Pursuit of Ends‘ latest single “You’ve Got To Pull It Up From The Ground” is a mind-bending and incredibly slick synthesis of bop, jazz fusion, funk and hip hop. The composition begins with an extensive bop jazz-inspired, drum solo. The song then quickly moves to a section featuring rapid fire percussion paired with sinuous bass lines, twinkling keys and a mournful, modal horn line led by Theo Croker’s expressive Miles Davis-like playing. Throughout the rest of the song, the melody floats and dances through the instrumentation. While the material is rooted in precise performance of the written composition, there’s ample room for soulful, free-flowing improvisation among a collection of sensitive and thoughtful artists.

“During COVID we spent a lot of time listen to Miles Davis’ Second Quintet, and specifically the drum solo at the start was inspired by ‘Agitation’ off of E.S.P.,” Granfelt explains “There’s something about that quintet that is so awe-inspiring. I think it’s the way they have such a deep shared concept which allows them to improvise in a meaningful way.”

“Pull It Up” is really a concept that is at the core of the band,” Granfelt explains. “It’s sort of about magic, sort of about will, sort of about self-love. It’s a concept based in the idea that things are already where they need to be, and it’s about unearthing what is already there as opposed to creating something ‘new’.”

Directed by Isaac Calvin and Seth Calvin, the accompanying video draws on the song’s overarching theme of digging deep, being persistent and staying humble. The video features Granfelt doing useful but mundane tasks: pulling nails out of a board, washing dishes, tying knots and so on. Towards the end f the video, Granfelt builds a shrine, but the offerings aren’t high quality of expensive; rather, they’re scuffed up, well-worn items including roadside flowers, cigarette butts, trinkets, tchotchkes and knick-knacks.

Steve Terry Project is a Denver-based jazz/jazz-fusion/funk outfit. The band’s latest single “Hot Mess Express” is a a loose and laid back track seemingly drawing from 70s funk and jazz fusion centered around a bluesy and soulful horn line, twinkling organ, sinuous bass lines, bursts of retro-futuristic synths, rolling percussion placed within an expansive and improv-driven composition featuring a explosive peaks and meditative valleys. The composition also manages to be spacious enough for each musician to take the metaphorical wheel, catch the song’s funky groove and jam out.

Written during a caffeinated drive across Georgia and South Carolina, Terry found himself humming the bass line, connecting its repetitious nature to the seemingly endless sameness of trees, road, highway sign, trees, road, highway sign, sky. The composition’s horn line is meant to represent the stop and start nature of breaks in the trees — or a new landmark approaching. The track is also heavily influenced by the Grant Green standard “Jan Jan,” as Terry recalls having just performed it at an open jam prior to recording “Hot Mess Express.”

New Video: Makaya McCraven Shares Gorgeous and Dream-Like “Dream Another”

Makaya McCraven is an acclaimed Paris-born Chicago-based jazz percussionist, beatmaker and producer, who has released a remarkable run of critically applauded, genre-defying and re-defining albums that includes 2015’s The Moment, 2017’s Highly Rare, 2018’s Universal Beings, 2020’s We’re New Again and Universal Beings E&F Sides, and last year’s Deciphering the Message

McCraven’s newest album, In These Times is slated for a September 23, 2022 release through International Anthem/Nonesuch/XL Recordings. The album is a collection of polytemporal compositions inspired as much by broader cultural struggles as it is by McCraven’s personal experience as the producer of a multinational, working class musician community. In These Times‘ material was seven years in the making, and was consistently in process in the background while McCraven was in the middle of his critically applauded run of albums. 

Featuring contributions from a talented cast of collaborators including Jeff ParkerJunius PaulBrandee Younger, Joel RossMarquis Hill, Lia KohlMacie StewartZara ZaharievaMarta Sofia HonerGreg Ward, Irvin Pierce, Matt GoldGreg SperoDe’Sean Jones, and Rob Clearfield, the new album was recorded in five different studios and four live performance spaces while McCraven engaged in extensive post-production work at home. Sonically, the album sees McCraven and his collaborators weaving orchestral, large ensemble arrangements with the “organic beat music” sound that’s become his signature sound. The end result is an album that’s reportedly a bold and decided evolution for McCraven as a composer and as a producer. 

Last month, I wrote about In These Times single “Seventh String,” a dazzling and dizzying composition featuring rolling bursts of polyrhythmic drumming and beats, glistening, finger plucked guitar, gorgeous orchestral strings, twinkling bursts of harp and soulful flute lines.

In These Times‘ first single “Seventh String” was a dazzling and dizzying composition centered around rolling bursts of polyrhythmic drumming, glistening, finger plucked guitar, gorgeous orchestral strings, twinkling bursts of harp, soulful flute lines. While the composition smudges then blurs the lines between J. Dilla-like beatmaking and jazz, it sees the musicians carefully walking a tightrope between chaos and order, free-flowing improvisation and structured composition in a way that’s thoughtful, mischievous, and forceful yet breathtakingly gorgeous. 

Written and recorded in McCraven’s Chicago-based home studio, In These Times‘ second and latest single “Dream Another” features Brandee Younger (harp), Junius Paul (bass), Matt Gold (guitar, sitar) and De’Sean Jones (flute) on a gorgeous and expansion composition that simultaneously nods at 70s soul jazz and jazz fusion and psychedelia in a way that reminds me a bit of synthesis of Return to Forever, Mahavisnu Orchestra and the aforementioned — and beloved — J. Dilla.

Directed by Nik Arthur, the accompanying visualizer features hand-drawn, digital and photographic animations composed and then laser-etched into stone in the style of a “zoopraxiscope,” a 19th century animation device that predates the motion picture, and allowed images to move on screen for the first time.