An East African Journey with Omar Sosa

Omar Sosa has been passionately interested in exploring African musical cultures and their connections with his Afro-Cuban roots since early in his career – subtly blending traditional and contemporary sounds on many of his recordings. He has forged collaborations with Gnawa musicians in Morocco, and with musicians from Senegal, Mozambique, Mali, Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil, and South Africa, et al. Highlights include his 2002 GRAMMY-nominated recording ‘Sentir’ featuring Moroccan singer and Guimbre player El Houssaine Kily, and his 2008 CD release ‘Afreecanos’, which served as a point of departure for his East Africa project. This new exquisite set of music featuring the 7-time GRAMMY-nominated Cuban composer and pianist Mr. Sosa showcases collaborations with 8 East African artists, fusing traditional sounds with jazz in a subtle, contemporary production. The folkloric music forming the basis of this project was recorded by Mr. Sosa while on tour in East Africa, including material from Madagascar (Rajery), Kenya (Olith Ratego), Sudan, Ethiopia (Seleshe Damessae), Burundi (Steven Sogo), Zambia and Mauritius (Menwar). With Mr. Sosa on pana and Paris-based producer, Steve Argüelles on drums and percussion and multi-instrumentalist Christophe ‘Disco’ Minck on double bass, synths and effects. These recordings will help expose some of the rich musical traditions of East Africa to new and wider audiences. Included in these recordings are some possibly unknown instruments that are the very keys to unlock the newness of sounds.

I had the honor of talking with Mr. Sosa about not only his personal journey on the creation of this magical album, but the journey of the music. We got into the times between the recording and the ability for me to be able to share and enrich others with the final product. We dive into the people, the cultures and the special instruments for the regions unfamiliar to many of us, but easily uniting those who open their ears and minds. I have to admit that Omar Sosa has long been one of those artists I have admired from a far, and I am so pleased we got a chance to talk abut this project…as it has taken me back while moving me forward. Hope you get that sense! An East African Journey will be released everywhere on March 5th. Check out more here.

A Trilogy Of Albums And Mike Dillon

Mike Dillon has spent the last 3 decades playing well over 200 shows a year with both his own band, as well as a vibraphonist/percussionist with artists including Rickie Lee Jones, Les Claypool & Ani DiFranco. So when the pandemic hit in early 2020 forcing him off the road, he instinctively directed his perpetually restless creative energy to writing & recording. Recently relocating to Kansas City after spending 15 years in New Orleans, he and producer Chad Meise would track a trilogy of albums. In collaboration with his longtime record label Royal Potato Family, they would offer the records exclusively via Bandcamp just days after they were mixed and mastered. On March 12, 2021, those albums now receive the full vinyl treatment, as well as complete digital release across all streaming outlets.

The first of the 3 records, ‘Shoot The Moon,’ is a 10 track collection, which Mike describes as “Punkadelic-Funk-Psych,” focused heavily on the current political climate in the United States. Assembling an assortment of stylistically uncompromising musicians to contribute, its line-up features Matt Chamberlain, Steven Bernstein, Nicholas Payton, Robbie Seahag Mangano, Jean-Paul Gaster & Nick Bockrath among others. Highlights include the apocalyptic road warrior anthem “Drivin’ Down The Road,” a swirling New Orleans jazz-raga “Further Adventures in Misadventures” and the snarling punk rock diatribe “Quool Aid Man” with its indictment of the American right: “old men and their guns.”

The 2nd recording in the series, ‘Suitcase Man’ is a 9-song cycle through which Mike examine his life & choices made over the past 55 years. It’s a distinct entry in his extensive discography, notable for its strikingly honest lyricism & minimalist arrangements that incorporate sparse vibraphone & percussion with a handful of background vocals by Tiff Lamson of Givers and frequent collaborator JJ Jungle. Songs like “Empty Bones,” “Turkish Rose” & “Matthew” represent him at his most creatively daring, while confirming his ascent into the upper echelon of cult music outsiders in the lineage of artists like Tom Waits, Harry Partch & Captain Beefheart.

Mike completes the trilogy with ‘1918.’ The focal point here are his instrumentals: the dank and dark Moog/tabla/vibraphone psych vibe of “Pinocchio,” the electro analog trance of “Pelagic” and the jungle groove, space rock of the title track. Mike once again calls on friends like drummer Earl Harvin and guitarist Shane Theriot to assist. Thematically speaking, the material addresses the Covid-19 pandemic and recent social unrest.

I had the pleasure of catching up with friend of the proGram, Mike Dillon to discuss the creation and construction of these three different feelings and flavors of sound. We touch on the who and what, the how and the why and how a pirates’ voice for he comes into play.

Talking Bill Evans Trio With Mr. Jack DeJohnette

Resonance Records proudly released Bill Evans Live at Ronnie Scott’s, the label’s 3rd collection featuring unheard recordings by the great pianist’s short-lived 1968 trio with bassist Eddie Gomez & drummer Jack DeJohnette, as a 2-LP Record Store Day exclusive on Black Friday, November 27. The album will subsequently be released as a 2-CD set and a digital download on December 4th. Unearthed by Resonance co-president Zev Feldman (a/k/a “the Jazz Detective”), Some Other Time: The Lost Session From the Black Forest (2016) was a two-LP/two-CD studio date, cut five days after the Evans-Gomez-DeJohnette trio’s Montreux appearance, which had sat unheard in the German vaults for 50 years. A 2nd historic discovery, Another Time (2018), was recorded two days later by the Netherlands Radio Union in Hilversum. Drawn from Jack DeJohnette’s personal archives, Live at Ronnie Scott’s comprises 20 scintillating tracks captured during the Evans trio’s month-long ’68 residency at the eponymous saxophonist-impresario’s Soho club. (It is Resonance’s second live Evans album to emanate from that venue: 2019’s Evans in England derived from a 1969 stand at Scott’s, featuring Gomez and drummer Marty Morell.) Recordings by the Evans-Gomez-DeJohnette lineup are as prized as they are rare. Mr. DeJohnette was an especially simpatico accompanist for Evans, for he had been a pianist before taking up the drums. Despite their chemistry, the trio played together for a mere 6 months. During their stay at Scott’s, Miles Davis stopped in to check out the band, and the trumpeter swiftly recruited DeJohnette for his new group. By the end of 1968, Morell was hired by Evans as his replacement, and he drummed behind the pianist through 1974. Distinguished British critic, author, broadcaster, & pianist Brian Priestley, who witnessed Evans’ ’68 trio in action, puts the London stand and Evans’ then-current repertoire in context in newly commissioned notes for the release. He writes that the performances’ “compelling, indeed at times overwhelming, musical quality is such as to impress this listener all over again. Live at Ronnie Scott’s also features a joint interview, conducted by Feldman, with DeJohnette and Grammy-winning pianist (and, in his early career, drummer) Chick Corea, who played with DeJohnette in Miles Davis’ storied late-‘60s lineups. And as with all of Resonance Records releases, the packaging/artwork & provided documented history makes this yet another “must have” to any music lovers collection. Bill Evans Live at Ronnie Scott’s will be the fifth Resonance title to feature unreleased music by the pianist: 2014’s Live at Art D’Lugoff’s Top of the Gate was the label’s first Evans collection. Smile With Your Heart: The Best of Bill Evans on Resonance, a mid-priced compilation, was issued in 2020.

I had the honor of chatting with the legendary, Mr. Jack DeJohnette about this release. We get into the time and place of its creation. How Mr. Evans was creatively at the top of his playing game and how fortunate we are that these recordings made it to all of us, with some fine cleaning up work, we get to re-live and re-feel moments that many of us never shared in originally. Mr. DeJohnette and I also talk a little about working within the change on a moment stylings of Miles Davis as well an naming off a few artists he sees as carrying on that ability to create in any situation, and how they can find some cracks in structure to find freedom.

Sikiru Adepoju & Riddim Doctors

Sikiru Adepoju is a master of the talking drum and many other Yoruba percussion instruments. After moving to the San Fransico Bay Area in 1985, Sikiru joined the influential and pioneering Nigerian percussionist Babatunde Olantunji and his Drums of Passion. This marked a lengthy period of high productivity from Sikiru which saw him recording and performing throughout the world until a year before Olantunji’s death in 2003. During this period he was introduced to Grateful Dead drummer, Mickey Hart, who has called Sikiru “The Mozart of the talking drum,” and employed him on many of his personal projects including the Grammy award winning albums Planet Drum (1991) & Global Drum Project (2008). Sikiru has shared the stage or recorded with many of music’s finest including The Grateful Dead, Stevie Wonder, Jerry Garcia, Carlos Santana, Ornette Coleman, Airto Moreira, Zakir Hussein, Pharaoh Sanders, Dave Schools, George Porter Jr., and many more. It is his versatility, skill, good humor, and willingness to push the limits of his drumming and his music which has gained Sikiru acceptance and respect among his peers and music listeners of all tastes. Now, in 2020 Sikiru brings us a new album titled “Ope (Gratitude)” with the group dubbed Riddim Doctors on MansMark Records.

I had the honor of spending a little time with Sikiru recently to discuss the new album. We get into the long and winding journey this music has taken, along with Sikiru, in order to make it out to the world. We talk about the incredible process and the amazing people behind the album’s sound and style. Including the role, Zakir Hussain played in the process. We also spoke about what he was able to learn, as a master when he started to talk with, work with and create with both Babatunde Olatunji and Mickey Hart. it is within this portion of the conversation that I knew Sikiru and I were connected by the bridge of the moment, finding your space within each of those moments. It’s times like this that remind me why it’s not just about the sounds, it’s about those who bring them to us just as much. While I have been close to him via his previous recordings and projects and that has helped me grow as a listener and sharer, this new music brings all that back plus, a sense of the now where this music, this sentiment is needed.

Spoken Drum from Victor DeLorenzo

We have been fortunate enough to have Victor DeLorenzo be a part of the show in many ways. From Femmes to the Drum-n-Cello of Nineteen Thirteen to the open aired radio plays of “Frail Pagans”. This time around we have a chance to discuss a new spoken word project he is putting forth to the world. Check out the chat below for more into the thoughts and execution of the Spoken Drum project and hear the voice from within the instrument.

TRACKS LISTING:

head
coffee
run
civil rights
cry
lovely
bow
world
if

Produced by Victor DeLorenzo

*Recorded and Mixed at Sympathetic Muffler
and The Past Office in Milwaukee by Victor

**Text and Light Music by Victor
with Janet Schiff and Josh Schmidt

***All pieces c&p 2020 Defendimusics bmi

Victor: Drum Sets, Snare Drums, Cymbals, Voices, Keyboards,
Bass Keyboards and Percussion.

Janet: Bass Keyboard and Cello on “civil rights”
and Keyboards on “head”.

Josh: Cello Orchestra Arrangement and Recording
on “civil rights”.

Available now here.

Como De Allstars with Robert Walter

“Como De Allstars” is the title track from a surprise Greyboy Allstars studio album which dropped July 3. Self-described boogaloo revivalists, the band’s first new music in seven years captures a relentless Caribbean funk groove buoyed by an inspired message of unity: “Surviving in a bitter world…divided, confused by the states…united, come on friends we’re gonna make it brighter.” The quintet initially formed in 1994 to provide a live band alternative to the rare groove DJs who were spinning records from the dusty catalogs of labels like Blue Note and Prestige, as well as, the lighter funk of English acid jazzers playing to loops and samples. Comprised by saxophonist Karl Denson, guitarist Elgin Park, organist Robert Walter, bassist Chris Stillwell and drummer Aaron Redfield, Greyboy Allstars debuted with the revelatory and electrifying LP, ‘West Coast Boogaloo,’ featuring James Brown trombonist Fred Wesley as a special guest. Coinciding with the band’s forthcoming new album, reissue label Light In The Attic Records will deliver a fresh pressing of the long out of print ‘West Coast Boogaloo’ on August 7. Greyboy Allstars have slowed their recording and touring schedule down considerably over the years as demand has grown for individual members in other capacities: Mike Andrews (aka Elgin Park) is renowned for his film scores, including most recently ‘The King of Staten Island,’ Karl Denson tours as the saxophonist in The Rolling Stones, as well as his own Tiny Universe, Robert Walter plays keys for Phish bassist Mike Gordon and fronts his own ensemble 20th Congress, while rhythm section Chris Stillwell and Aaron Redfield are in demand sessions players whose resumes stretch from Elton John to Charli XCX. The magic between the five musicians returns instantly, however, when reunited—as ‘Como De Allstars’ so convincingly displays.

I had a chance to catch up with Robert Walter to talk about the new album and the re-issue of one of my favorite Greyboy albums. We do some comparing and contrasting, diggin’ into a few tracks and the growth of the players and the band, and just how it is they are able to get all the cylinders firing as if they never skipped a beat. We learn a little about what Robert has been doing with his “lockdown” time, kids…don’t be surprised it has everything to do with fundamentals and we build a set-list toGether which will lead the listeners to want him there more than they want me. I have to admit, Robert is one of those players for me that when I hear him, I know it is him and my joy level instantly rises. Just like when I tune into this new release.

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.

Fred Hersch Live At The Village Vanguard

A select member of jazz’s piano pantheon, Fred Hersch is an influential creative force who has shaped the music’s course over more than three decades. A fifteen-time Grammy nominee, Hersch has long set the standard for expressive interpretation and inventive creativity. A revered improviser, composer, educator, bandleader, collaborator and recording artist, Hersch has been proclaimed “the most arrestingly innovative pianist in jazz over the last decade” by Vanity Fair, “an elegant force of musical invention” by The L.A. Times, and “a living legend” by The New Yorker. For decades Hersch has been firmly entrenched as one of the most acclaimed and captivating pianists in modern jazz, whether through his exquisite solo performances, as the leader of one of jazz’s era-defining trios, or in eloquent dialogue with his deeply attuned duo partners. His brilliant 2017 memoir, Good Things Happen Slowly, was named one of 2017’s Five Best Memoirs by the Washington Post and The New York Times.

Mr Hersch’s latest project:

Esperanza Spalding & Fred Hersch: Live at the Village Vanguard – Rough Mix EP, the five-song EP from visionary vocalist, bassist and songwriter Esperanza Spalding and iconic pianist/ composer Fred Hersch. They released the EP on Friday, May 29 exclusively for download through Bandcamp, with all proceeds benefiting the Jazz Foundation of America’s efforts to assist members of the jazz community impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A live rough mix with no edits, the EP will be available for purchase only through the end of June 2020. It’s available for a minimum of $17, with additional donations encouraged on a pay-what-you-wish basis. Purchase the album here: https://esperanzaspaldingfredhersch.bandcamp.com.

I had the honor of chatting with Mr. Hersch shortly after the new EP dropped on basecamp about how the original live shows went down. He was quick to point out how different this recording will be for those who are used to hearing Esperanza Spalding playing the bass and doing her thang that-a-way. For these shows and this recording, we are treating to her vocal-stylin’s as the feature. We dive into each track with some story telling and flow, the kinds of things that take a song deeper into us. We talk about the struggles, the real and true struggles for the arts, the artists and the people who enjoy these things in their lives and how going out and getting this new EP treasure is a small step in helping support. Mr. Hersch is kind enough to let us know some of the things he has been doing to stay going in these times…adaptations, technology etc on the new/next moments ahead. Thank you for showing your support for the music you/me/we love.

Tranceaphone from Victor DeLorenzo

Friend of the program and my brother, Victor DeLorenzo has a brand new stunner of an EP out to sharpen your senses and bring you to a place you remember, or maybe didn’t know you needed to be in. Victor is of course half of the drum and cello duo, Nineteen Thirteen (he’s the drum half) these days, but he has never stopped doing his own things, musically, artistically and humanly. When you find this new EP on one of the many platforms I am sure you find music at, you’ll immediate hear and feel a sense of that old Violent Femmes magic. That sound and feeling is the tranceaphone, I am sure of it. Victor reminds us what that instrument is, which Femmes track you might remember it from and how it lends itself on this brand new release. We get into how the idea to put out a solo effort took share, with the support and door opening from the first lady of cello, Janet Schiff. If this happens to be your first brush with his music, good for you, there is no time like now to start listening in and going back in time to catch up on anything you may have missed. With the uncertain times we are in now, there is a need to find something to fill a void and I personally think, as Victor does that you can never be alone a Tranceaphone.

Warna by Joey Alexander

A funny thing happened to Joey Alexander over the past five years, a whirlwind period during which he became the most brilliantly precocious talent in jazz history—that is, a renowned festival and concert-hall headliner; the youngest musician ever nominated for a Grammy Award in a jazz category; and a media favorite who’s earned a profile on 60 Minutes, a front-page profile in the New York Times and other premier coverage. As heard on WARNA, his new major-label Verve Records debut, he’s simply become one of the most expressive and thrilling pianist-composers currently at work in jazz. Alexander’s precocity can still stun concertgoers, but his music, including original work and personalized interpretations of great songs, has now taken its rightful place in the spotlight. Translating as “color” from Alexander’s native language of Bahasa, WARNA follows four Motéma Music albums that garnered the pianist three Grammy nominations and such honors as historic critics’ and readers’ poll victories in DownBeat and JazzTimes. But whereas those recordings were documents of an extraordinary young musician in development, WARNA is primarily a collection of reflective, moving new music by an experienced, confident bandleader. He arrived in New York as a lightning bolt in the spring of 2014, performing at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s annual fundraising gala. At the helm of a packed-out theater containing some of Manhattan’s most elite arts benefactors, he dropped jaws with a remarkably lyrical rendition of “’Round Midnight.” A standing ovation ensued, and he hasn’t slowed down since. The following spring, the New York Times wrote in an enthusiastic profile that “For a jazz pianist, the mastery entails a staggering breadth of knowledge about harmony, rhythm and orchestration, all converging in an eloquent synthesis. Joey Alexander has a handle on a good deal of that.” From there, he went on to receive three Grammy nominations, with two of Alexander’s four previous albums topping the Billboard Jazz Albums chart. His live performances have been equally celebrated. At the 58th Grammy Awards, in February of 2016, he played during both the pre-telecast and the primetime TV event. That same year, Joey also performed with Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding for the Obamas at the White House, as part of a nationally televised International Jazz Day special. In 2018, Alexander headlined Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater with a 20-piece string section orchestrated and conducted by Grammy nominee Richard DeRosa. On October 18, 2019, he made his triumphant Carnegie Hall debut to a sold-out Zankel Hall crowd. Early on in Joey’s ascent, the trumpeter and Jazz at Lincoln Center leader Wynton Marsalis said that “there has never been anyone … who could play like that at his age.” Marsalis, who essentially “discovered” Alexander via his YouTube videos and invited him to New York, was spot-on in his assessment. But today, in light of WARNA, one could extend their judgment to say that Joey Alexander continues to perform at the highest level.

I had the chance to catch up with Joey about the creation of Warna. We got into how the album grew from the seed of an idea into the flower of sound I get to share with the listeners. We talk about how the musicians that join him were either selected or how they continued the musical conversations they had started earlier. Like I told Joey offline, Warna is an album I have been really happy to advise advise my pals who may not have stumbled onto it themselves to go ahead and when you feel like you need a Sunday morning to breathe, hit play and sink in.

At The Knuckledown With Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal

Night after night at their live shows, Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal leave it all on the table, bringing crowds palpably authentic music. This is a real working band; music for the people, by the people. You hear the veracity in his voice. You hear the strife of a guitar amp being pushed to its limits. You hear keyboards hammering notes home while emboldened horns soar over the top of a rhythm section akin to a freight train. The raucous funk and smooth soul emanating from the stage dutifully pays homage to the past soul giants while simultaneously charging forward, piloting themselves into the modern era. This is soul music. Josh formed Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal in 2012 in famed blues town Lincoln, Nebraska. The award-winning five-piece band includes some of the area’s most revered and accomplished musicians. Joining Josh (keyboards/vocals) is Blake DeForest (trumpet), Mike Keeling (bass), Benjamin Kushner (guitar), and Harrison ElDorado (drums). Inspired by the sounds of Stax, Motown, Muscle Shoals, New Orleans, Philly and San Francisco, the band continuously crosses musical boundaries both in style and era, and joins forces each show with a common goal – to have the crowd dancing so much they forget even their smallest troubles. Through all the years now and the many destinations and opening for and playing with all sorts of musical talents, 2020 is bringing more tour dates and some brand new tunes to gather the people together, and help them move and groove it all away.

I had the chance to catch up with friend of the proGram, Josh Hoyer ahead of the February 29th show in Madison at The Knuckledown Saloon. Josh and I talk about what kinda scene will be happening whenever he and Soul Colossal roll into town. Josh really diggs coming through Madison to make music and he gives a real sweet tip of the cap to Chris and the Knuckledown crew as well as sharing that we will get to taste some of the newmusic that is in the works. We discuss the creation of one of those new tunes and find out more about the label he’s working with to put it out. Find out why Color Red, the label of another friend of this program, Mr. Eddie Roberts gets some high praise and deservedly so. And of course, if I was throwing a share a vinyl with my ears party…..it may not be a surprise what album you could expect Josh to bring to the fun.

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.

Feeling Ragmala With Adam Rudolph

For the past four decades composer, improviser/percussionist/moment creator Adam Rudolph has performed extensively in concert throughout North & South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. He has been hailed as “a pioneer in world music” by the NY Times and “a master percussionist” by Musician magazine. He has released over twenty five recordings under his own name, featuring his compositions and percussion work. Adam composes for his ensembles Adam Rudolph’s Moving Pictures, Hu: Vibrational percussion group, and Go: Organic Orchestra, an eighteen to fifty four piece group for which he has developed an original music notation and conducting system. He has taught and conducted hundreds of musicians worldwide in the Go: Organic Orchestra concept. In 1995 Rudolph premiered his opera The Dreamer, based on the text of Friedreich Nietzsche’s “The Birth of Tragedy”. Adam has performed with Don Cherry, Jon Hassell, Sam Rivers, Pharaoh Sanders, L. Shankar, A.A.C.M co-founders Fred Anderson and Muhal Richard Abrams, Wadada Leo Smith, and Omar Sosa. He has toured extensively and recorded 15 albums with Yusef Lateef including duets and their large ensemble compositional collaborations. Between his beginnings of sharing his musical creations to the very moment of reading this word, Adam is combining so many factors of living and life into the living being of sound. He is able to connect many rhythms and grooves together through the relationships with the people, the places and the knowledge he has been able to soak in and forge a path forward with blends of the this and then and the then and now.

Adam is more than a friend of the proGram. The way he does what he does is exactly how I feel themusic I get. When I say get, I man that gets me. This time around we are discussing his latest project: “Ragmala: A Garland Of Ragas” with his Go: Organic Orchestra and Brooklyn Raga Massive. We get into how these two musical energies got together to create this latest release, and how it works. We take a look inside a couple of the latest moments of evolution of tracks familiar to the ear and how intuition, integrity and worldly knowledge help in piecing or is that “PEACE-ing” it all together. We also discuss how such an expansive project of many is able to be performed in a live setting, and an upcoming December 13th concert. I always feel like my mind’s ear has been opened just a little wider after talking with Adam, and this time is no exception. As you listen in, you’ll understand. I also wanted to point out the fantastic and perfectly chosen art that accompanies this double record release (and some other release of Adam’s) by the artist, Nancy Jackson . I am proud to be apart of all that Adam does and the honor of bringing all this art to the listeners keeps me feeling real.

The High Hawks Land In Madison on 11/10

No one knows where the train will take them. It’s one you jump on out of the curiosity and excitement of the unknown. The very wonder of what the stars and the spirits will conjure on any given jubilee. And what the hell is a High Hawk? The High Hawks, is a new all-star project comprised of friend of the proGram Vince Herman (Leftover Salmon), Adam Greuel (Horseshoes & Hand Grenades), Chad Staehly (Hard Working Americans), Brian Adams (DeadPhish Orchestra), and Will Trask (Great American Taxi), will bring their blend of Americana, jam, and bluegrass music on the road.

The High Hawks will come together with friends including Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth) and Chicago Farmer for their inaugural run of live shows. The band’s fall run began with a performance at Boulder, CO’s Fox Theatre on October 18th, followed by stops at Denver, CO’s Cervantes’ Other Side (10/19); Fort Collins, CO’s Aggie Theatre (10/20). After a short break to soak it all in, they head to Milwaukee, WI’s The Back Room @ Colectivo (11/7); Peoria, IL’s Spirit of Peoria (11/8); La Crosse, WI’s La Crosse Distilling Co. (11/9); and Madison, WI’s High Noon Saloon on November 10th.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Chad Staehly ahead of the November 10th show in Madison at the High Noon Saloon. We talk about how the dip your toe in the water of the first couple of Colorado shows went and what type of momentum they are building on with each note played. We talk about the mission of the band and answer the question, “Just what is a High Hawk?” LoHi Records is a place where Chad (and Tim) are putting a lot of their energy – so learning a bit more on what they are up to and who they are working with really puts a pin in the music map and we find out what tunes/artists Chad would choose if he was to build a setlist for the listeners. Chad and I run in some of the same circles, so the setlist building conversation led us to talking about how artists can find support they need with any if their struggles. Platforms such as Backline and and Music Cares are some of the resources we discuss.

Walking In Gratitude With Melody Trucks

After touring with her father, Butch Trucks and the Freight Train, Melody Trucks immersed herself in the increasingly rich and diverse music scene in Jacksonville, Florida. The Melody Trucks Band came together in early 2017 as she encountered each member within this extended musical family. Their individual styles and influences run the entire span of every music genre: rock, blues, jazz, funk, classical, country, thrash metal, and even world music. This has culminated in fresh and unique interpretations of iconic songs from the genre of Melody’s extended family. After Butch passed, Melody found herself letting this musical path guide her and open a door to what was already inside her. As the live events added up, The Melody Trucks Band had all its proper pieces in place and the path led into the studio for their first studio effort. “Walking In Gratitude” drops on September 28th. The proper pieces that could only build this music are:

Melody Trucks – Vocals/Percussion
West Brook – Lap Steel/Guitar/Vocals
Brady Clampitt – Guitar/Keys/Vocals
Isaac Corbitt – Harmonica/Vocals
Willis Gore – Guitar/Vocals
Shane Platten – Bass/Vocals
Shaun Taunton – Drums
Dave Murphy – Tallahassee Recording – Engineer and Co-Producer

I had a chance to reconnect with Melody to follow up on our initial conversation about getting out and playing music again. Back when we first spoke in the end of 2017, an album was merely a distant thought. And here we are.
Proudly, we get into the process of getting the pieces in the right places, the organic flow to the creation of these nine new original tracks and just how they met up with and worked with one of her father’s (The Allman Brother’s Butch Trucks) engineers & producer Finding out what one major hurdle was for this group reminded me that it’s all about the timing and the place will be like home. Now, the magic of these moments will be available soon for all of us to be a part of this musical scene and family style groove that will certainly bridge all our souls toGether. Wherever you are, you’ll be able to take a little Melody Trucks Band home with you and if luck will have it, maybe they will be heading to an area near you to get a chance to feel the songs and the band stretch out.

Photo By Michael Price

Charlie Wooton Project’s Blue Basso

Charlie Wooton and I go back a ways now. I have covered many of his projects over the years and when you get that kind of longevity, the feeling of pride gets shared when something really truly special happens. With the latest release, “Blue Basso”, I believe that moment is here. When I first met up with Charlie, he was based out of Atlanta and formed the progressive dance band Zydefunk while maintaining his ‘The Charlie Wooton Project’ for his more experimental cross-generic work combining jazz,rock, blues and world music. During this period he played with a diverse group of musicians including Count M’Butu, Oliver Wood, Donny McCormick, Sean Costello, Grant Green Jr., Jeff Sipe, Rev. Jeff Moser and Willie Green. Home called and Charlie headed back to Louisiana where he has become a sought after sideman with some of the best ear-opening talent from the area, including Bonerama, Sonny Landreth, Zigaboo Modeliste, Johnny Vidacovich, Cyril Neville, Chief Monk Boudreaux, New Orleans Suspects, Big Sam’s Funky Nation and so many more. As the bassist for Royal Southern Brotherhood over a four year period Charlie recorded four CDs and wrote several of their tunes. I covered Charlie’s ZabaDuo project with percussionist Rafael Pereira, which explored the world of Brazilian music, and led to the Charlie Wooton Project’s Zabadodat. Around 2015 Charlie joined the New Orleans Suspects, replacing founding member and friend of the proGram, Mr. Reggie Scanlan. All along, Charlie’s desire to honor one of the gods of bass, Mr. Jaco Pastorious. I think with Blue Basso, he has started to stretch his fingers and abilities to write and create into the same language that Jaco was speaking.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Charlie about the creation of Blue Basso from the ideas to the sound stories I get to share with the listeners. Charlie gives major props to the many people who helped make this vision into a musical reality. From, Doug Wimbish to Eric McFadden….Arsene DeLay to Daniel Groover, the list of contributors is as relevant as the music. It’s my belief that these songs could not have been made so brilliantly without the right pieces. Charlie and I discuss what role friend of the proGram, Samantha Fish had in the process as this new release is put out on her Wild Heart Records label.

Power Trio Cycles Ride Into Madison

Cycles brings the power-trio format at you with a ripping guitar, fat bass grooves played out through furious slapping, and dynamic drum beats flowing over intricate tempo changes. Each member wields a unique take on their instrument that when played together, forms a truly fresh and cohesive sound. Patrick Harvey commands the guitar with speed and precision while using his loop pedal virtually as its own instrument. Michael Wood has subtly forged a drum style that showcases his ability to mashup funky hip-hop beats with frenzied rock riffs and displays his flashy technique when necessary while implementing the creative use of various sound-modulating drum triggers. At the heart of the band lies Tucker McClung’s dominant slap-bass chops that captivates audiences & pumps the musical blood through the band. Drawing influence from artists such as Rage Against the Machine, Primus and Weather Report, Cycles fuse an eclectic blend of genres to produce a fresh and original sound. Just in the infancy state still, this band has over 250 shows under their belt with tours extending across the entire U.S.A.

They will make a stop in Madison on March 7th at the High Noon Saloon and I was able to chat with drummer, Michael Wood for a bit about the show, the band and the new live album. We get into what new ears to this band could expect from the upcoming event. We talk about how this band is a live band currently and why it was natural to put out a live album, brand new release “Selections, Vol. 1” dropped mid-February. Michael talks a little about his love of great studio albums and perhaps how that influences the next steps in growth for the band.

Lamplight Turned On By Paris Monster

Beat-driven. Employing heavy elements of funk and soul, Paris Monster closes the gaps between synth-pop & garage; between modern detail and old-school grit. Solid earth. Soaring soundscapes. A mass of noise. Volatility. Vocal singularity. In fall of 2017 they began recording their first full length LP, set to be released in 2018. The album will solidify their dirty, glitchy, lyric-centered, groove-based sound, and will be a milepost in their search for a focused and flexible musical approach. The elements of funk and soul join with lyrical themes of bygone eras in rural settings, characters lost, and mortality confronted. Love achieved, and denied. Americana. Themes in stark contrast to the pounding grooves and electronic mayhem, creating depths and dimensions that could have been otherwise achieved only by dropping a modular synth in the corn fields of central New York or the woods of Connecticut. And maybe that’s exactly what happened. And then the album dropped.

I had the chance to chat with this diverse duo, Josh Dion and Geoff Kraly of Paris Monster about their brand new release, “Lamplight”. We got into how the album got it’s wings to soar, and how this duo got it’s beginnings. We speak about their upcoming gigs with a Madison funky favorite, Turkuaz and what these cats might potentially share with my listeners if they were given the opportunity to take over the proGrmaming of greenarrowradio. I have a feeling if you check out their live show, I will receive tons of thank you cards in the mail. Go ahead. Test that.

Photo By Samuel Fava

Means To The Ends With Bright Dog Red

Bright Dog Red (BDR), an improvising collective from Albany, New York, fuses free improvisation, electronica, jazz, hip hop, psychedelia, and noise music into a proliferation of beats, bars, and blasts of sonic energy. In early 2018, BDR signed on to release an album with Ropeadope Records, the Philadelphia based record label. The band’s first full-length album, “Means to the Ends,” dropped October 5, 2018. Since debuting in September of 2015, BDR has played a number of high profile bookings, including opening for friend of the proGram, Mr. George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic at the historic Paramount Hudson Valley Theater, opening for Hip Hop sensation Decora, sharing bills with Italian Surf Academy and with pianist Zack Clarke. In addition, the band has become a fixture on the New York jazz and improvisation scene, playing regularly at venues such as ShapeShifter Lab, Nublu, and Spectrum. Beyond New York, the band has performed at the Berklee College of Music, twice headlined Albany’s Madison Theatre, played BSP Lounge in Kingston NY, Lilypad at Inman in Cambridge, MA, Olive’s in Nyack, NY, and the O+ Festival three years in a row.

I had the opportunity to catch up with the founding member and percussionist of Bright Dog Red, Joe Pignato. We got deep into the creation of this wild new release, “Means To The Ends”, discussing the process that the group followed and follows in making their music. Including leaving in the clams! We learn how the teachers and influences in Joe’s life, the great Yusef Lateef and Max Roach had such a profound imprint on the way Joe goes about his path in life, musically and/or otherwise. How important it must be to find a record label that gets it, even without knowing what IT is, that’s the Ropeadope Records way and is how this partnership came into effect. What a treat it would be to do a three hour radio set build with Joe, as we learn some of what he would try to weave toGether if I gave him a portion of the program to help build that bridge for you. This is a very interesting listen, which makes sense when you put on the new record.

Grand Funk Railroad’s Don Brewer

Grand Funk Railroad laid the groundwork for such bands as Foreigner, Journey and Van Halen with its signature hard driving sound, soulful vocals, muscular instrumentation and forceful pop-rock melodies. The fact that Grand Funk’s legacy still reigns over the Classic Rock landscape forty years after its 1969 birth in Flint, Michigan is a testament to the group’s influence and staying power. Internationally acclaimed Grand Funk Railroad has toured the world, selling out in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan and South America. A 1971 performance at New York’s Shea Stadium even sold out faster than the Beatles. The group’s widespread appeal is also evident in its prestigious recording achievements. Over their career, Grand Funk has had 19 charted singles, 8 Top 40 hits and two Number One singles (We’re An American Band and Locomotion, both selling more than one million each). The group has now accumulated 13 gold and 10 platinum records with record sales in excess of 25 million copies sold worldwide. The most recent gold CD award was presented to the band for their greatest hits package Grand Funk Railroad The Collectors Series. This top selling and legendary American rock group of the ‘70s is “COMIN’ TO YOUR TOWN TO HELP YOU PARTY IT DOWN.” Grand Funk Railroad is extremely excited to be touring in 2018 marking a 49 year milestone. After playing to millions of fans on the band’s tours from 1996 to 2017, Grand Funk’s 2018 Tour will continue to reach both new and long-time fans.

I had the honor of talking with founding member and legendary drummer, Mr. Don Brewer about the multi-talented band that will be coming to The Dodge County Fair in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin on August 18th. Mr. Brewer shares with me what to expect at a 2018 show from the classics everyone is familiar with all the way to tunes no one has head before. We discuss some of the differences between the then and now of the business and what advise he would give to emerging artists. The story behind one of the most played songs out there, “We’re An American Band” is walked through from idea to necessity all the way to how it is at the tips of most of our musical minds. Check out out chat to find out what Mr. Brewer and his wife enjoying doing with some of their extra time and what two bands Don would play to the listeners if he had control over greenarrowradio for a bit.

Photo By: Jim McGuire