Famous Yet? Ivan FUNKBOY Bodley

Funkboy aka Ivan Bodley is a bass player and music director for the stars. He has performed with 50 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees and counting. He has been musical director for Sam Moore (Sam & Dave), Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, The Shirelles, The Crystals, The Tokens and has performed with Sting, Elvis Costello, Temptations, Solomon Burke, Ben E. King, Percy Sledge, Eddie Floyd, Rufus & Carla Thomas, Bo Diddley, Buster Poindexter, Uptown Horns, Paul Rodgers, Wynonna Judd, and David Foster. Funkboy is a magna cum laude graduate of the Berklee College of Music and an inductee into the New York Blues Hall of Fame. To date, he has traveled to 29 countries around the world and played to audiences of up to 82,000 people in performance settings ranging from jazz duos to 150-member symphony orchestras. Appearances include Carnegie Hall (featured soloist with the Rock Concerto), Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize (with Cracked Ice led by Crispin Cioe), 12 Broadway shows including “Rock of Ages,” “Spider-Man,” “Hedwig & the Angry Inch,” “Kinky Boots,” “Fun Home,” and “Ain’t Too Proud,” Obama Inaugural Ball featured in the Barry Levinson documentary “Poliwood,” Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Today Show, Emeril Live, Imus in the Morning, Charlie Rose, Live with Regis & Kelly, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Istanbul State Symphony and Israel Symphony Orchestras. So you can see that this Funkboy is a FunkMAN of the world.

All the above happenings come with more stories than one could imagine. Luckily for us, Funkboy has put many of them down into his new book: “Am I Famous Yet? Memoir of a Working-Class Rock Star”. I had the opportunity to catch up with him recently to garnish a little insight into some of the types of tales told within the pages (the ones he shares will certainly tease you into wanting a little more). He tells stories of circles being complete in a way where they seem drawn by fairy dust and an incredible gig, for two. That’s right…Just two people. Not only is this a page turning, but it is a head-shaer as well, people never stop amazing and I am thankful we had FUNKBOY’s keen observational skills taking notes. We also dissect his new tune (and first of hopefully many) on Color Red Music called “Crab Walk” and find out what it was like creating the music during a wacky time in the world.

Talkin’ Garage A Trois With Skerik

Garage A Trois return in the form from which they were born 22 years earlier with a new studio album, Calm Down Cologne, on RPF Records. Comprised by guitarist friends of the proGram, Charlie Hunter, saxophonist Skerik and drummer Stanton Moore, OG GAT released their debut album Mysteryfunk to wide acclaim in 1999. The band evolved over the years in various configurations before eventually going dormant following its 2011 album, Always Be Happy, In 2019, the original 3 piece line-up reunited for a handful of shows. This would lead to an afternoon recording at Stone Gossard’s Studio Litho in Seattle, right across the street from where the band was playing a sold out, three night run at Nectar Lounge. Ace engineer Randall Dunn was invited to document the proceedings and captured the resulting album in one magical session. Dunn later took the tracks to AVAST! Recording Co. for mixing. With all but a few edits on the beginnings and ends of performances, Calm Down Cologne presents the music as it was played in the studio that day. The story about the album title might be that legendary underground Seattle artist Rick Klu gave Skerik the idea when he was describing a bouncer having to use some ‘calm down cologne’ on an unruly patron. I have been sprayed once or twice myself I think.

I had the chance to dive deep into the new music with Skerik. We talk about the creation of these mind-opening, ass-shaking tunes and how music – this music is the best thing they can do and capture this music in the now moment. This translates so beautifully when this band is live and amazingly, onto this record. We also got into some of the new music is is making with True Loves on Color Red Music, and recent music with Nels Cline. SAY WHA????? Skerik is also cool enough to build a setlist of things around one of the new tracks on Calm Down Cologne….click into find out what he choose.

Praying For Enemies with Joy Harjo

In her first new recording in a decade, Joy Harjo – the first Native American named Poet Laureate of the United States – digs deep into the indigenous red earth and the shared languages of music to sing, speak and play a stunningly original musical meditation that seeks healing for a troubled world – “I Pray for My Enemies”, released on Sunyata Records March 5. Collaborating with producer/engineer Barrett Martin on this unique new album, Joy brings a fresh identity to the poetry & songs that have made her a renowned poet of the Muscogee Creek Nation & one of the most authentic and compelling voices of these times. “The concept for I Pray for My Enemies began” says Harjo, “with an urgent need to deal with discord, opposition. It could have been on a tribal, national or a personal level. I no longer remember. The urgency had a heartbeat and in any gathering of two or more, perhaps the whole planet, our hearts lean to entrainment – that is, to beat together.” Latin Grammy-winning producer, composer and founding father of the historic Seattle music scene, Barrett Martin brings a new dimension to Harjo’s unique sound-world – her words and music spoken, sung and explored in a vibrant mix of classic instrumental sounds. Harjo and Martin describe it as “funkified spoken word” inspiring “elegant jazz, urban soul, and inner city, reservation grit.” She sings and speaks her poetry, as well as playing saxophone and flute, on an album she describes as “very much of-the-moment.” Martin holds it all together with drums, upright bass, keyboards & production duties. He assembled an all-star band to explore Harjo’s work, featuring Peter Buck (R.E.M.) on electric guitar & feedback; Mike McCready (Pearl Jam) on electric guitar solos; Krist Novoselic (Nirvana) on acoustic guitar; and Rich Robinson (Black Crowes) on electric guitar solos. Additional players include renowned Iraqi oud master Rahim Alhaj; trumpeter Dave Carter & percussionist/backing vocalist Lisette Garcia. Joy’s stepdaughters sing harmony vocals, and her husband Owen Sapulpa plays surdo drum on the album. Joy defines songs and poems as distinctly different expressions, & both are featured in the 16 tracks that make up the album. Her words & music, older & newer, get a fresh new identity here. Some of Harjo’s defining poems appear here – “An American Sunrise,” “Fear,” “Running” & “Remember” – refracting her own experience as a Native American woman of her culturally defining generation. “Calling the Spirit Back,” from an early collection of Harjo’s poems, and the new song “How Love Blows Through the Trees” – written when COVID-19 reached her home in Tulsa, OK – echo the suffering of a world experiencing a pandemic.
Joy Harjo is the author of several books of poetry, plays, children’s books. In May, The Library of Congress will release Living Nations, Living Words: an Anthology of First Peoples Poetry: and in September a memoir Poet Warrior, A Call for Love and Justice, Oprah Winfrey recently picked her anthology of Native American poetry for her book club. Her many honors include the Ruth Lily Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the Poetry Foundation; the Academy of American Poets Wallace Stevens Award; PEN USA Literary Award and many others. She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and is a founding board member of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation.

I had the complete honor of catching up with Joy about this brand new release and we dive into the seed to flower tale. How she got to work with Mr. Martin and the key of the rhythm. All the words above speak the truth about Joy, but to get a true sense of this album and how it sounds and more importantly feels, is up to you. Go hear, go feel.

Triptides Bring Out Alter Echoes

With a sound oscillating between psychedelic pop and space rock, Triptides’ album Alter Echoes channels both The Byrds at their most hallucinogenic and Pink Floyd at their most cosmically composed while creating something immediate and new. These are some heady, sun-drenched psych-pop-type sounds that guarantee to open new paths within you, and bring a easy cool feeling over you. The band has established itself as a preeminent part of the new wave of L.A. psych music. With Alter Echoes they pull away from the pack, thanks to the quality of their songwriting, performance and production. The Los Angeles based band is led by multi-instrumentalist Glenn Brigman, and with drummer Brendan Peleo-Lazar and bassist/guitarist Stephen Burns. Triptides’ Alter Echoes will be released on limited vinyl and digital / streaming platforms on March 19th via Alive Naturalsound Records.

I had the chance to catch up quick with Glenn Brigman of Triptides to dive a little deeper into the uplifting sounds created on ‘Alter Echoes”. We get into the path from start to finish, the growth of the music and Glenn builds a set around one of the tracks off the record with some other wild artists and tunes. EarGrab the conversation but make sure to get an earful of this album.

All Exce$$ With Danny Zelisko

When concert promoter Danny Zelisko says, “I’ve got some stories to tell,” he isn’t kidding. His remarkable new book, ALL EXCE$$ Occupation: Concert Promoter, takes you both backstage & on stage with music’s top stars, recounting his incredible five-decade career in which he has produced over 10,000 concert events throughout the country. Along with his vivid, insightful and highly entertaining recollections, Danny shares an eye-popping array of never-before-seen photos from his personal archives that might have readers thinking he’s a rock ‘n’ roll Zelig: There’s stories & shots of him with Alice Cooper, Willie Nelson, Roger Waters, Aerosmith, the Grateful Dead, members of Led Zeppelin and The Doors, Herbie Hancock, Jeff Beck, Kris Kristofferson, Chuck Berry, Jon Bon Jovi, Tony Bennett, Muddy Waters, Genesis, Tina Turner, Billy Idol, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Billy Joel, Bob Seger, James Brown, John Prine – as they say, the list goes on and on.
In addition, Danny chronicles his lifelong love of sports, his passion for collecting memorabilia/autographs, and some of the incredible friendships he formed while in his pre-teens with giants such as Chicago Cubs shortstop/first baseman Ernie Banks and Chicago Bears stars Brian Piccolo & Gale Sayers. He also talks about his first impressions & situations that followed with concert business legends Bill Graham & Shep Gordon, who went on to be his close friends and mentors throughout his career. What message does he hope readers will take away from the book? “Anything & everything is possible,” he says. “I want to inspire people, whatever they want to do, they can do it. You see a picture of me with Robert Plant or Muhammad Ali, and you might think, how did this guy get there? That’s the story I tell. And it can happen to you, too. You just have to believe in yourself & never quit.”
How does a starry-eyed Midwestern kid go on to become one of the biggest concert promoters in history? Danny details his rise from scrappy beginnings to overseeing iconic stadium shows. “A lot of people have no idea what a concert promoter actually does, so that’s something else I hope people take away from the book,” he says. “There’s the great times – hanging out with the stars, the fun, the partying – but there’s awful times, too. And there’s the work. My team and I are responsible for every aspect of putting on a show. Without the great people who have supported these promotions, day in and out, I could never have done it. They are the stars behind the scenes”.
At its heart, ALL EXCE$$ Occupation: Concert Promoter is a tale of friendships. His longtime pal & baseball legend Kirk Gibson wrote the book’s Foreword in which he describes the author as “the straw that stirs the drink.” “I’m very fortunate to have made such incredible friends,” Zelisko says. “I think a big reason for that is because I’m always very honest with the people I deal with. I can admire them and worship what they do, but I deal with them straight and tell them the truth. I think that’s how you last in the business, and it’s how you maintain relationships.”

I had the chance to catch up with Danny about this book of tales, some you might expect, some you might not. But the journey feels maGical when I put myself in his shoes through the pages. Hear what he has to say about it here:

ALL EXCE$$ Occupation: Concert Promoter is available at dzplive.com, you can also get it from Kindle, Amazon and Amazon Print on Demand. Additionally, a limited number of first-edition signed copies are available to benefit NIVA’s Save Our Stages (to support music industry employees affected by COVID-19).

Loud Apartment’s System Breakdown

NYC-based funk art collective Loud Apartment has released their new album, aptly titled ‘System Breakdown’, produced by Bill Laswell and created at Orange Music in West Orange, New Jersey. This is Loud Apartment’s 2nd studio album & the first with the current lineup. Their unique NYC fusion of funk, soul & rock with Latin, reggae, dub & hip hop influences is inspired by growing up on the old upper west side. The band debuted in 2012 with their ‘Get Up Get Down’ LP, which was mixed by Mr. Laswell & featured Dr. Bernie Worrell* (P-Funk/Talking Heads), who also appeared with them for live performances at Galapagos Art Space, Drom, & Public Assembly in NYC. Their sound embodies the intersection of culture that is New York City, loose enough to give room for improvisation & extended grooves. Created by musician & technologist Nevaris A.C., the band’s current lineup includes legendary musician/producer Bill Laswell on bass, turntablist DJ Logic*, multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum* (flute/sax), guitarist Will Bernard, drummer Lockatron, and Nevaris (voice, percussion, keyboards). “System Breakdown” refers to the collapse of the systems meant to protect citizens during a time like is being experienced right now. Access to healthcare. Access to a vital financial lifeline after the collapse of the live music industry during the pandemic. The album also takes aim at the incompetence & negligence of the current administration in the first 2 songs. The band began recording ‘System Breakdown’ in January 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic. Once it hit New York City, recording was halted & Nevaris began writing new lyrics that reflected his anger at the current administration. The band returned to the studio in the summer of 2020 to finish the album, including the new material, giving the record a more political tone.

I had the chance to catch up with Nevaris A.C. to dive ear first into the creation of the album and the way this current (and what I consider a mind-bending MVP group) lineup came toGether and some of the things working with people like trailblazers like Bill Laswell and Bernie Worrell brought to his creative spirit and creation approach. We talk about the current situation here in the States and how that was influential when wrapping this project up and we find out which songs Nevaris A.C. would choose off the new album if he was taking over for me in the studio. Get this record into your earholes!

Josh Werner’s Mode For Titan

Raised in Milwaukee, Josh Werner was a private student of Richard Davis. In 1996, he moved to New York and attended the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music program. His years of recording and performing with top-tier and cutting-edge artists has made an imprint on his identity and place in music history. He is also a frequent collaborator of Bill Laswell via such projects as Method Of Defiance and Bass invaders. On October 9th, Josh dropped his album ‘Mode For Titan’, a solo bass offering that is grounded in minimalist beauty and co-produced Mr. Laswell. This stunning collection of tracks is being released via Laswell’s label M.O.D. Reloaded. This album proves that the bass is a melodic and ambient force in its own right. Writing on and for the bass, Josh explores new dimensions of composition and improvisation, and effortlessly moves through sonic textures, all without a conventional rhythm section, he explores novel instrumental territory, including the sitar bass, seven-string and fretless bass. Over the years, Josh has made quite a name for himself working in a variety of styles, most notably in dub, experimental rock, hip hop and jazz. His work with Ghostface Killer, CocoRosie, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Cibo Matto, PopCaan, James Brandon Lewis, Matisyahu, Sly and Robbie, Wu Tang Clan and TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe has cemented his status as a low-end heavyweight.

I had the chance to catch up with the program’s friend, Josh Werner about this new project. We get into the beGinnings of the album, we talk about how the roots set into the ground of the songs and while a wide array of influences is heard on his compositions, it’s the introspective creative focus that guides. Simplicity, beauty and space are constant in this journey, and the rich colors of Mr. Laswell’s sonic translations are the compass. So, we get into how creating the entirety of the album with someone like Mr. Bill Laswell took the album to where it calls home. I think when you get your whole person wrapped around the experience of this collection of feelings, you’ll find where it fits into your home too. As of October 9, the ‘Mode For Titan’ LP is available on CD and digitally everywhere, including Apple Music, Amazon and Spotify. It can also be obtained directly from the label via Bandcamp.

Angelheaded Hipster & Marc Urselli

Marc Urselli writes, produces and records artists from all over the world. He also composes music for TV and film and does sound design for commercials. Marc was born in Switzerland and raised in Italy. His musical education began with studying the piano at age twelve. At age seventeen he opened his first commercial recording facility in Italy. He later moved to New York City where he began, and continues to work at the legendary recording studio EastSide Sound as the resident Chief House Engineer. In 2005 he participated in the recordings of “Strength” by Roy Hagrove‘s project RH Factor which was nominated for Best Contemporary Jazz Album and in the same year he also participated in the recordings of Lila Down‘s album “Una Sangre (One Blood)”, which won a Latin Grammy Award for Best Folk Album. Additionally, in 2006 Marc won two Grammy Awards (Best Instrumental Rock Performance & Best Instrumental Pop Performance) for his work engineering and mixing the entire Capitol/EMI album “American Made, World Played” album by Les Paul & Friends (featuring Sting, Joss Stone, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, Buddy Guy, Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora, Goo Goo Dolls’ Johnny Rzeznick, ZZ Top, Sam Cooke, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall and many more). Marc also does and has done live sound for artists such as Eliane Elias, John Zorn, Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed and others.

AngelHeaded Hipster: The Songs of Marc Bolan and T.Rex

The genius and pioneering influence of Marc Bolan’s T. Rex – 2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee and one of the great rock musicians of all time – will be celebrated with AngelHeaded Hipster: The Songs of Marc Bolan and T.Rex, out September 4 on BMG. The collection features 26 songs culled from Bolan’s vast body of work released as T.Rex and Tyrannosaurus Rex from 1968-77. A wide-ranging cast of wizards and cosmic dancers have joined together to reimagine Bolan’s work – sometimes in radical fashion – resulting in a collection that is less tribute than bold new work. Featuring some of Bolan’s greatest songs, including, ‘Jeepster’, ‘Bang A Gong (Get It On)’, ‘Ride A White Swan’, and beyond/deeper. AngelHeaded Hipster was lovingly created by the late great leGend, Mr. Hal Willner, who passed away on April 7 from COVID-19. The acclaimed music producer, who “for nearly four decades bent and shaped the dimensions of almost-popular music” (New York Times), produced albums for artists including Lou Reed, Marianne Faithfull, and William S. Burroughs, and concept albums drawing upon the music of Thelonious Monk, Kurt Weill, vintage Disney films and others. He also produced concert events exploring the work of such subjects as Leonard Cohen, Allan Sherman, Neil Young, Edgar Allan Poe, and Tim Buckley, and served as the Saturday Night Live sketch music producer for nearly 40 years. After his passing, many of the artists who knew Mr. Willner best posted tributes to his singular spirit, including Elvis Costello, Bono, Tom Waits, and Nick Cave, who praised his “limitless imagination” adding “Hal was our visionary, our ringleader, always working against reason itself, armed with a deep love and bottomless knowledge of music.” Mr. Willner, who referred to AngelHeaded Hipster as his ‘White Album’, was eager for everyone to hear these beautiful songs and to start thinking about Bolan and T. Rex again. This album is a testament to Hal’s spirit.”

I had the honor of catching up with Marc about this latest project. How it went from Mr. Willner’s vision to his ear, the depth of the songwriter, not just the rocker that Marc Bolan obviously was and we talk about some of the challenges/highlights while getting into the nooks and crannies of the diverse roster of artists that came together for this “concept” album. This is one of those releases that belong on everyone’s playlist.

Bromberg Plays Hendrix: Remastered

A half century after his tragic death, Jimi Hendrix remains cemented in place near the top of anyone’s list of the greatest rock guitarists of all time. So why would anyone decided to pay tribute to the iconic axe-man on a full album without a single guitar? The virtuosic bassist and world-renowned producer Brian Bromberg tackled that audacious challenge on his 2012 album “Bromberg Plays Hendrix”, a blistering homage on which Bromberg’s fretless and piccolo basses stand in for the original’s fleet fretwork. Joined only by the in-demand drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, Bromberg summoned a whirlwind of sound from his four- and five-string arsenal to craft a smoldering set of classics in keeping with Hendrix’s exploratory spirit. A decade after its recording, the album remains dizzying in the virtuosity and visceral power of its musicianship and passion. Brian was happy with the original version of the CD, but after a big studio upgrade and new equipment he wanted to jump back into the project and do a remix/remaster to make the project sound as good as he felt it deserved to sound. On September 18, 2020 a newly remixed and remastered edition will be released digitally by Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Music Group.

I had the complete honor of discussing the newly remixed and remastered edition of this epic album with Mr. Bromberg. We got into how the original ideas took shape to make this sort of thing a reality. The absolutely attempt to not try and sound like Jimi Hendirx…because…well…how could anyone, nevermind a bass player. We dive into the heart and soul of how these songs work from the perspective of a listeners, the players behind them as well as someone like me, who likes to get it into people’s ears for the first time. When you or I listen to these songs, there will be that sense of familiar with a head twist to the different, I think it only adds to the already greatness of the music we know and allows something that has been there for us through so many days, into us in a newly imagined way. And With that, Mr. Bromberg and I talk a bit about the changes that were made in his new state of the art studio to make an album you already want to crank up, worthy of going to 11 or 12 on the volume knob. Wee…turn it up man. And what is this about a holiday album…just listen all the way through our chat to find out.

Swallow Tales With Steve Swallow

Friend of the proGram, John Scofield celebrates the music of his friend and mentor Steve Swallow in an outgoing and spirited recording, aply titled “Swallow Tales” – made in an afternoon in New York City in March 2019. John was a 20-year-old student at Berklee when he first met and played with bassist Swallow, and they have continued ever since, in many different contexts. “I love these songs”, says Scofield of the selection of Swallow compositions explored here – a broad range including tunes that have become standards, as well as some lesser-known works. The rapport between Scofield and Swallow is evident in every moment. John: “Sometimes when we play it’s like one big guitar, the bass part and my part together.” Behind the drum kit, Bill Stewart is alert to all the implications of the interaction. “What Bill does is more than ‘playing the drums,'” Scofield says. “He’s a melodic voice in the music, playing counterpoint, and comping, while also swinging really hard.” The guitarist himself plays with fire and invention throughout: “These two giants bring out the best in me.” Swallow’s compositions, John notes, “make perfect vehicles for improvisation. The changes are always interesting – but not too interesting! They’re grounded in reality with cadences that make sense. They’re never just intellectual exercises, and they’re so melodic. They’re all songs, rather than ‘pieces’. They could all be sung.”

I had the honor of chatting with Mr. Steve Swallow about the way this album (out now on ECM Records), came together, from start to finish. We get into the way the three “generations” got to the working part of this piece of art. Talking with Mr. Swallow was a learning reminder of how things are born into change. Hearing him talk about how he had to wear a bassist hat rather than the person who brought these tunes into the world originally was just thrilling. Hearing a little of that mentor pride is his voice as he speaks about the way Mr. Scofield goes after it when making music, especially this music was equally ear-opening for me. As someone who loves to share these sounds with others and weave them into little neighborhoods over the airwaves, it is moments like this, getting a little mind-time with the artist(s) that reminds me why pushing those buttons and twisting those knobs is an important part of getting the entire story out there on behalf of these creators. Take a moment, and be in the room with Mr. Swallow and I.

Talking Change With Wadada Leo Smith

Trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist and composer Wadada Leo Smith is one of the most boldly original and influential artists of his time. Transcending the bounds of genre or idiom, he distinctly defines his music, tirelessly inventive in both sound and approach, as “Creative Music.” For the last five decades, Smith has been a member of the legendary AACM collective, pivotal in its wide-open perspectives on music and art in general. He has carried those all-embracing concepts into his own work, expanding upon them in myriad ways. Throughout his career, Smith has been recognized for his groundbreaking body of work. A finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, he received the 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award and earned an honorary doctorate from CalArts, where he was also celebrated as Faculty Emeritus. In addition, he received the Hammer Museum’s 2016 Mohn Award for Career Achievement “honoring brilliance and resilience.” In 2018 he received the Religion and The Arts Award from the American Academy of Religion. Smith has released more than 50 albums as a leader on labels including ECM, Moers, Black Saint, Tzadik, Pi Recordings, TUM, Leo and Cuneiform. His diverse discography reveals a recorded history centered around important issues that have impacted his world, exploring the social, natural and political environment of his times with passion and fierce intelligence. His recent recording is 2019’s Rosa Parks: Pure Love, an Oratorio of Seven Songs. His 2016 recording, America’s National Parks earned a place on numerous best of the year lists including the New York Times, NPR Music and many others. Smith’s landmark 2012 civil rights opus Ten Freedom Summers was called “A staggering achievement [that] merits comparison to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in sobriety and reach.” Writing about Smith’s 2017 album Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk in the New York Review of Books, Adam Shatz notes: “For all the minimalism of his sound, Smith has turned out to be a maximalist in his ambitions, evolving into one of our most powerful storytellers, an heir to American chroniclers like Charles Ives and Ornette Coleman.”

This Legendary composer and trumpeter is now featured on Deerhoof’s new live album To Be Surrounded By Beautiful, Curious, Breathing, Laughing Flesh Is Enough, available as a Bandcamp exclusive from July 3rd, 2020 via Joyful Noise Recordings. Deerhoof is in peak form on the album, which culminates in a thrilling five-song collaborative set with Mr. Smith as part of New York City’s Winter Jazzfest at Le Poisson Rouge. All album proceeds will benefit Black Lives Matter. We get into the making of the music and how the feelings of it translate from then to now, but also how the live set transforms moments in time and brings the listener to that ten, right now. We get deep into the movement and making real change. REAL CHANGE. Whether it’s the man, the music, that band or the movement, this all works so well for that change and I hope this conversation helps lead you to a new space in time, toGether.

Check out the album here.

Big Smoke With Five Alarm Funk

Five Alarm Funk is a horn-powered, percussion-fueled sonic and visual assault. Over seventeen years of hard funking the band has burned up stages on four continents, released six studio albums and received two Juno Award nominations. And this ride isn’t about to slow down, they just released their 7th studio album, Big Smoke today. The eleven tracks get right to the roots of what Five Alarm Funk is all about: epic, intense arrangements, heavy groove and a ton of fun. For all the honing of their studio craft, the the groups epic live shows is still what defines the band. The sweat-drenched concerts are infused with an intense spirit of fun that breaks down barriers between band and audience and moves both into a manic dance party. Wild costumes, props, and choreography complement the seriously tight arrangements and genre-mashing grooves. That live show has taken Five Alarm Funk on dozens of North American coast to coast tours, performing at over 100 festivals in the last three years alone. The band has also begun to break ground abroad, with performances in Taiwan, Mexico, and a performance for international peacekeeping forces in Mali.

I had a chance to catch up with drummer, vocalist, and band leader Tayo Branston to talk about this latest release, Big Smoke out now on Ropeadope Sur. We get into the seed to flower of the new collection of tunes, how it came to have both the leGend, Bootsy Collins and Leo P of Too Many Zooz appear on the record and what’s the what as we await a clearer path through this current pandemic. To me, as we find ourselves in a new world, this is just the type of sound and groove to help us all meet on the virtual funk bridge and “shake that thang” a bit.

Rolling Stone: Life And Death Of Brian Jones

Dudeski/Chip Baker Films is proud to announce the official release date of their latest project “Rolling Stone Life and Death of Brian Jones”, a Danny Garcia film. It is the first documentary about the founder and original leader of The Rolling Stones. Rolling Stone Life and Death of Brian Jones is the 5th acclaimed music documentary for Spanish filmmaker Danny Garcia. His other releases include “The Rise and Fall of The Clash”; “Looking for Johnny”, about New York Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders; “Sad Vacation”, a film chronicling the final months in New York City of the Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious & his girlfriend Nancy Spungen and Danny’s most recent release “Stiv: No Compromise, No Regrets” about Stiv Bators, legendary frontman of the iconic Ohio band the Dead Boys and The Lords of the New Church.

Film Background:

In the mid 1960s, Brian Jones emerged as “the face” and poster boy of the Bohemian Swingin’ London scene, topping the charts with The Rolling Stones and dating model/actress Anita Pallenberg. However, his excessive lifestyle and his reputation as “the original bad boy of Rock & Roll” was to cost him dearly. As the scene descended into the acid ridden year of 1967 so did Brian. Targeted by the authorities and media, he spiraled out of control, losing both Anita and the respect of the Stones. Two years later, Brian was found at the bottom of his swimming pool, the verdict: death by misadventure. During the last 50 years many theories have emerged, claiming that Brian was murdered and that it was covered up at high level, as this film discovers – the evidence for this is extremely compelling.

I had the chance to catch up with filmmaker, Danny Garcia about the project to get a sense of what prompted him to want to revisit the mysteries and confusion behind the death of Brian Jones. There is so much more to this film than that, but after watching the film, my eyes and ears have been opened up in a much different way. If you’re into the Stones, music culture, mystery and questioning authority….might I suggest you find a way to check it out. The film was released June 12th, 2020 on DVD by MVD Entertainment Group and will be available thru the following streaming services: Amazon/Dish Network/Films Media Group/Google Play/Night Flight/Sling/Xbox/Vimeo

Here is a link to the film’s trailer

Sister Dynamite with Alice Bag

Alice Bag is a singer/songwriter, musician, author, artist, educator and feminist. Alice was the lead singer and co-founder of the Bags, one of the first bands to form during the initial wave of punk in Los Angeles. The Alice Bag Band was featured in the seminal documentary on punk rock, The Decline of Western Civilization. Alice went on to perform in other groundbreaking bands, including Castration Squad, Cholita, and Las Tres. She is the author of the critically acclaimed books ‘Violence Girl’ and ‘Pipe Bomb For the Soul.’ Her self-titled 2016 debut album received critical acclaim and was named one of the best albums of 2016 by AllMusic. Her second album, Blueprint, was named one of the Best Albums of 2018 by NPR and the Los Angeles Times. Her 3rd album, Sister Dynamite, was released in April 2020.

I had the honor of checking in with Alice about this brand new album, Sister Dynamite on In The Red Recordings. We get into the creation of, the inspirations behind the sound (including how working with friends of the program, Fea helped direct some of the way she hoped her band could produces/create/be the sounds. That part of the conversation with someone that certainly helped open my musical mind was/is a real treat to get to be apart of. We touch on the who she is right now, and how the others can “eat it” if they don’t like it. As I was letting he know how I think this was a perfect time to release these songs (I meant these songs have great meaning to a listener in THESE moment of THIS now), she put me in my place reminding me that she cannot go out and tour them and get the scene of the music into people’s faces. Madison would love to have her back as soon as possible, I am sure of it. Listen in to find out what song off the new album she’d choose to build a setlist off of and what other bands she’d likely add to that set. I even sneak in a mention of Madison’s own The Hussy and Woodstock NYs The Bobby Lees. Did I mention, LEGEND?

Sister Dynamite, cover art by Gronk. 2020 In The Red Records

Flyin’ Right With Zev Feldman of Resonance Records

Resonance Records is a non-profit jazz record label with a mission. Devoted to preserving jazz & discovering the rising stars of tomorrow. Resonance is a division of the Rising Jazz Stars Foundation, a California 501(c)3 non-profit Corporation created to discover the next jazz stars – passionate, brilliant musicians from around the world. We assist and support them through recording, performance opportunities, and distribution of their art. Every Resonance CD or Video DVD is produced without compromise, to create and preserve our artists’ jazz legacy. Resonance Records was founded in 2007 by George Klabin. Klabin, with over two decades of experience as a producer and audio engineer, has recorded a full spectrum of jazz heavyweights for a wide variety of major labels. These include Dexter Gordon, Bill Evans, James Moody, Illinois Jacquet, Keith Jarrett, Albert Ayler, Charles Lloyd, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band and many more. As owner of the legendary New York recording studio Sound Ideas, Klabin was the overseer of sessions for top stars like James Brown and Quincy Jones as well as pure jazz giants such as Sonny Stitt, Tommy Flanagan and Archie Shepp. Today, they are releasing a teaser from the 2019 Nat King Cole boxed set, “Straighten Up and Fly Right – The Best of Hittin’ the Ramp: The Early Years (1936-1943)”. This Best-of-the-Box digital compilation includes 21 tracks including one a previously-unissued transcription version of “This Side Up” not on the boxed set. 15 of these 21 songs have never been available digitally before in any version.

I had the chance to reconnect with my pal Zev Feldman of Resonance Records about this latest treasure from Resonance. We get into the original 7 CD/10 LP boxed set and some of the efforts of the team that went into its creation and how that helped pump of this latest “Best Of” compilation that comes out today. We discuss the mission of Resonance as a company and the work that he is charged with taking care of (it sounds like my dream job BTW). I am always happy to hear as much as I can (whether in the music or in the story-telling) about Wes Montgomery, so we talk a bit about a couple of projects surrounding him and a few other artists associated with the great work on Resonance. And not only that, but Zev was kind enough to clue us in to some new projects and strategies, sure to please all music lovers out there.

Jazz Is Dead 001 With Adrian Younge

Adrian Younge is the next generation of soul music. A self-taught musician and recording engineer who has dedicated his life to the study of classic soul music, he finds himself at the center of a new soul renaissance with a vision for pushing the boundaries of the music itself. Beginning in 1998, he taught himself how to play various instruments to fully realize his vision; a soundtrack to a fictional film titled “Venice Dawn.” Recording the album over the course of the next year, he developed a sound that is equal parts Morricone, Air, and Portishead. Self-released in 2000, the moody, synth-drenched album was entirely composed, arranged, played, and recorded by Younge himself. Eight years later, he would find himself at the center of the Black Dynamite phenomenon. Instrumental in the film’s development, he not only edited the film, but also composed the original score, which was hailed as a modern blaxploitation masterpiece, solidifying himself as a force to be reckoned with, composing music for the accompanying cartoon series for Adult Swim. In 2009, he envisioned a new sound that would revisit his earlier, more baroque instrumental work, and mesh it together with the deep, gritty soul of Black Dynamite, releasing material under the moniker Venice Dawn. Something About April (2009) was a heavy, dark mix of psychedelic soul, and cinematic instrumentals, with hip-hop aesthetics. In spring of 2013, he released “Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics” (Wax Poetics Records), cowritten with William Hart, as well as Twelve Reasons to Die, a concept album with Ghostface Killah on RZA’s imprint, Soul Temple. Since then, he has launched his own record label (Linear Labs), and completed work with Souls of Mischief’s, a sequel to Twelve Reasons To Die, and produced albums for Bilal, and A Tribe Called Quest alumn, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, with whom he is in a real dynamic duo “The Midnight Hour” with…as well as a brand new project, Jazz Is Dead.

I had the honor of checking in with Adrian about the latest project Jazz Is Dead (the first album out is a teaser of what’s to come titled simply 001). We dive into the project, the new label associated with it and how the path to working with many jazz legends, whether from the day or in the now has been getting paved. To me, Adrian is an open-minded individual who wants to keep making the best of music that can be had from where it was at a time to how the conversation can be enhanced in the now for the future generations to take with them as they keep building on. It was an honor just to get to listen to this music, so getting a chance to connect with Adrian, a person I see as a visionary and pioneer, to find out more about how it all went down, is going down and what’s to come, was yet another reason why music is the bridge I try to help build.

Across The Universe with Al Di Meola

Al Di Meola‘s ongoing fascination with complex rhythmic syncopation combined with provocative lyrical melodies and sophisticated harmony has been at the heart of his music throughout a celebrated career that has spanned four decades and earned him critical accolades, three gold albums and more than six million in record sales worldwide. A bona fide guitar hero, perennial poll-winner, and prolific composer, he has amassed over 20 albums as a leader while collaborating on a dozen or so others with the likes of the fusion supergroup Return to Forever (with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White), the celebrated acoustic Guitar Trio featuring fellow virtuosos John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia, and the Rite of Strings trio with bassist Clarke and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. And while his dazzling technique on both acoustic and electric guitars has afforded him regal status among the hordes of fretboard fanatics who regularly flock to his concerts, the depth of Di Meola’s writing along with the soulfulness and the inherent lyricism of his guitaristic expression have won him legions of fans worldwide beyond the guitar aficionado set. A retrospective of Al Di Meola’s nearly 50 year acclaimed career is expressed through his latest Ear Music release of March 2020 “ACROSS THE UNIVERSE” with his virtuosic arrangements and creative interpretations of 14 Beatles songs with lightning speed electric guitar orchestrations balanced with lavish acoustic arrangements.

I had the honor of scratching off one of those bucket list items while catching up with Mr. Al Di Meola about the new album, “Across The Universe”. We talk about how he turned songs we all know deeply into brand new things, while keeping certain aspects and “Di Meola-fying” other parts. We find out who was harder to work with, Randy Breaker or his daughter and we walk through how “Dear Prudence” went from the one we know into the one that shows up on the new release. I hope you all get to cross off some things you have always hoped to do during these new kind of times, and while you do so, check out this chat and the new album.

The Notorious Burrito Brothers

The Burrito Brothers celebrate an illustrious past while serving up fresh contributions for a bright future. They continue to climb the branches of the “many tall pines” first planted in 1968. Trace the winding paths of Country and Rock & Roll back, you’ll find them there. Anyone who had a heart and ears can tell these guys are world-class musicians and songwriters with one listen. Here they are in the years, carrying on the tradition of classic late-1960s and early ’70s “Hippie Country-Rock” music, expanding its boundaries, always exploring new horizons. Country Rock’s big bang came in Los Angeles in the late ‘60s. In 1968, Ian Dunlop and Barry Tashian started The Flying Burrito Brothers. Then in 1969, with Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman at the helm, the group released their classic first LP, “The Gilded Palace of Sin”. Since then the band has carried on, always evolving. This year marks the 50th anniversary of that classic LP. Gram Parsons’ original vision for the band is still going strong. “I just ran 20 red lights in his honor,” says Chris P James. At the beginning of the 1980s the band moved their base of operations from LA to Nashville. At that point the name was shortened to The Burrito Brothers. The band has remained in Nashville ever since. Now, The Burrito Brothers are right on track with a brand new release that is ready cherish the legacy it was build upon.

I had the chance to catch up with lead singer/keyboardist/harmoicaplayer/songwriter for the band, Chris P. James to discuss the brand new album “The Notorious Burrito Brothers”, released last month on The Store For Music/MVD Entertainment. We dissect the few tracks I intend on sharing with the listeners – which leads into a fascinating story behind one of the tunes (“Sometimes You Just Can’t Win”)that comes with the finding of a Gram Parsons handwritten piece. Chris reminds us of the story of the band’s travels and name/lineup changes through all the years, and that easily ties back into the sound of this new album being a reminder of its epic beGinnings in the late 60’s/early 70’s. This album has that feeling of going back there and either reliving some moments or being able to desire them in the first place.

Ready To Step Up With Tower Of Power

Since its formation in Oakland, California in 1968, Tower of Power has forged a reputation as a crack band of high achieving musicians fluent in all realms of Soul, Rock and Pop music with a sophistication and punch like that of a Jazz big band. From their first album East Bay Grease (1970) on Rock impresario Bill Graham’s San Francisco Records label (distributed by Atlantic), the interracial band became pillars and signatures of The Bay Area Music Scene that included pioneering like-minded bands such as Sly & The Family Stone, Cold Blood, Graham Central Station, The Pointer Sisters and The Sons of Champlin plus rock-oriented outfits such as Santana, Betty Davis and Journey.

Along with T.O.P.’s classic recordings, the 5-piece Tower of Power Horns – known for its power packed punch and fullness with two trumpets, two tenor saxophones plus a baritone sax on the bottom – became much in demand for studio sessions and live gigs. Among the hundreds of artists they have blessed with their presence are Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Graham Central Station, Elton John, Little Feat, Billy Preston, John Lee Hooker, Coke Escovedo, Jose Feliciano, Al Kooper, Rod Stewart, Harvey Mason, Lenny White, The Brothers Johnson, The Meters, Lee Oskar, Dionne Warwick, Melissa Manchester, Heart, Rick James, Santana, Smokey Robinson, Huey Lewis & The News, Paul Shaffer, Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville, Spyro Gyra, Luther Vandross, Aerosmith, Phish, John Hiatt, Neil Diamond, P.Diddy, Bill Wyman and TV’s The Simpsons (Sing The Blues).

Most importantly, when almost all other R&B bands abandoned their horn sections as the sound of Soul music morphed into more stripped-down techno and synthesizer strains in the `80s, Tower of Power near single-handedly carried the torch for full-on 10-piece bands, often even including a conguero/percussionist. Faithful fans flocked to their concerts and purchased their new albums that kept the real soul vibe alive for decades. Indeed, the horn section is so pivotal to Tower of Power that unlike most band stage setups that have horns in the back, T.O.P.’s renowned and respected horn section is right up-front with the lead singer.

I had the chance to catch up with friend of the proGram and founding member of the mighty Tower Of Power, Mr. Emilio Castillo, just a day before the brand new album, “Step Up” is released. We dive into the family style creation of this album, how the songs were selected to complete the package and the feeling and inspiration the title track could lend out there in this time of uncertainty.

Raise The Spirit With Ethnic Heritage Ensemble

The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble has been “breaking the habits of boredom and pushing beyond nostalgia into the present” for 47 years. Their music fuses traditional African rhythmic and melodic sensibilities with popular African American musical expression and the array of instrumentation endows their music with a warm textural richness and depth. Within a framework of organic, understated compositions, the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble imparts an ancestral wisdom and conjures an energy and spark rarely encountered in contemporary music. In 1976, Kahil El’Zabar, having just graduated from the school of Chicago’s legendary Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, teamed up with tenor saxophonist and Edward Wilkerson, Jr. Wilkerson has been called “one of the most thoughtful minds in modern experimental music,” and is himself the leader of the premier Windy City octet Eight Bold Souls and big band Shadow Vignettes. Kahil El’Zabar is an accomplished trap drummer, having worked with acclaimed soul, blues and R&B artists Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway, and jazz greats from Cannonball Adderely to David Murray, he is also a virtuostic kalimba player, master of Mandingo-style earth drum, balaphonist, flautist and vocalist. Over the now 47 years of traveling the world and sharing a uniting vibe, the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble has a trio of musicians that sets a new standard. With the incredible Corey Wilkes on trumpet and Detroit’s own baritone saxophonists, Alex Harding rounding out the group, the fabric of this spiritual afro-futuristic jazz outfit is just starting to warm us up.

I had the chance to catch up with Kahil El’Zabar ahead of the February 29th event here in Madison at Cafe Coda. We get into the players and how they work toGether to create moments where a spark in time in which heightened sensibility & a higher consciousness can be universally shared. We dissect a track off the groups 2019 release “Be Known Ancient/Future/Music”, and how someone like a Mr. Roy Hargrove (RIP) transcended the music and humans scene. As we sit here in 2020, we don;t have to look to hard it seems to find reasons to heal, or send healing vibes….on the day I spoke with Kahil, the EHE had just played a show at Artlore Studio in Eerie, PA which is a venue of our friend Stephen, whose family just went through a tragic situation and their spirits definitely needed to be raised.