Paolo Nutini's Sunny Side Up Available Everywhere Today

PaoloIf you think you know Paolo Nutini, think again. His two million selling 2006 debut album, These Streets, established the young Scotsman as a leading light amongst the new wave of singer-songwriters. Paolo's extraordinary follow up, Sunny Side Up, casts him in a whole other light.

"Musically where I'm at, I dont really have a genre or style that I feel a part of," explains Paolo.  "It's a bit of a random mish mash. I honestly wanted it all to come out, and not harness it, not manipulate it. I just wanted it to be organic, and so immediate it's in your face and you can't help but take it all in."

The first single from the 22-year-old's new release is "Candy" - a heart tugging ballad written after an argument with his girlfriend, when it suddenly occurred to him that the fault lay with him. Watch the cinematic video here, and be sure to pick up a copy of Sunny Side Up available everywhere today.

EOTO Set to Play Two Shows During Summer Solstice

The left coast breakbeat, glitch-hop and house duo known as EOTO is set to play two monumental shows during the Summer Solstice in California on June 19 and June 20, on top of their already jam-packed festival schedule. Since the new year rolled around has toured relentlessly and played more than 80 shows and making a name for themselves as pioneers of a new sound, an innovative blend of live instrumentation and digital mixing. Both the June 19 show at Rhythm Lounge in Long Beach, CA, and the June 20 show at The Belly Up in Solana Beach, CA, should be another set of landmarks performances for the ground-shattering, beat innovators.

eotoFeaturing Jason Hann and Michael Travis, formerly of the progressive jam outfit The String Cheese Incident, EOTO is a shot of adrenaline to the heart of the music industry. Differing in sonic stature from their mixing forefathers, the typical EOTO live experience is 100% atypical, meaning nothing is pre-recorded, nothing is pre-looped and no set is pre-planned. Every night is a distinctive journey into the musical minds of Hann and Travis, each feeding off of the other’s creativity and the audience’s vibes. EOTO combines cutting-edge technology with live instrumental performance to create truly original and melodic dance music in the moment.

No group on the circuit tours as hard as EOTO and nothing has changed for the foreseeable future, save festival dates in exchange for the night-after-night venue spots they have played so far in 2009. Hann and Travis have been from west to east and everywhere in between in just five months and are primed to play at least 35 shows between now and the end of September. It will be a nice break for the two to venture back indoors for the pair of Summer Solstice shows, where the bone-quaking and mind-rippling beats they create spontaneously are well at home. By the time they reach California, EOTO will have more than proven they are big enough and calculated enough for the wide open spaces of the festival tour, which includes stops at Summercamp, Wakarusa, SONIC BLOOM, Rothbury Festival, Camp Bisco, The Phamily Reunion, Shambhala Festival and Earthdance.

National Jazz Museum in Harlem June Schedule

We launch an exciting month of programming in conversation with Will Friedwald, one of the nation’s top jazz critics and authorities on jazz singing, for Jazz for Curious Readers. Next, we present a listening and learning session on a classic album by Bill Evans, the first of five classic recordings for discussion at Jazz for Curious Listeners in June.

Living legend Jon Hendricks, the reigning master of vocalese, truly embodies the notion of “living history.” Hear history come alive at Harlem Speaks with Hendricks, and, later in the month, the legendary bassist/educator Rufus Reid.

A special session of Harlem Speaks will be held at The Riverside Theater, as part of its annual Family Arts Festival. Young New Orleans trumpeter and composer Etienne Charles will lead the NJMH All-Stars in a groove we call Caribbean Swing.

Come to Connecticut to hear the NJMH All-Stars celebrate the music of Benny Carter and swing back to Harlem in late June as they focus their fire on the music of Duke Ellington. Our Saturday Panel discussion celebrates the centennial of the peerless pianist Art Tatum and the mighty tenor saxophonist Ben Webster, and their continued relevance ion the 21st century.

Our Harlem in the Himalayas concert features one of the younger stars in jazz, pianist Kevin Hays, in a wonderful acoustic setting at the Rubin Museum of Art.

Whether it’s live performance or discussion, our public programming guarantees you a good time in the joyful spirit of swing.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Jazz for Curious Readers
Will Friedwald, Author
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

Dubbed (by Past Times magazine) as "The Poet Laureate of vintage pop music," Friedwald is internationally recognized as the leading authority on jazz singing and "adult" pop music. He is the author of three books on the subject, the most recent of which is Tony Bennett's autobiography, The Good Life (1998, Pocket Books) and also include Jazz Singing and Sinatra! The Song is You, both published in hardcover by Scribners (Simon and Schuster) and in paperback by Da Capo Press. Sinatra! The Song is You is the first full-length musical biography of Frank Sinatra and was hailed by The New York Times Book Review as the "single most important book on Sinatra ever published." In 1996, Sinatra! Received the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for Excellence In Music Criticism.

Since 1984, Friedwald has written regularly about music for The Village Voice and also appears frequently in the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. His work has also appeared in The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, Entertainment Weekly, Oxford American, New York, Entertainment Weekly, New York Newsday, L. A. Weekly, Mojo, BBC Music Magazine, Stereo Review, Fi(Delity), The New York Observer (where he was the resident jazz critic), Seven Days and numerous music and film journals.

With prolific television and radio experience under his belt, Friedwald has appeared on hundreds of programs in both mediums. He has served as a consultant and on-screen commentator on many television documentaries and news programs (including ABC Nightline, The MacNeil Lehrer Report, Good Morning America, The Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, and A&E Biography's profiles of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Mel Tormé). On the radio, he has hosted many of his own regular disc jockey radio shows, and has also served as a commentator / "columnist" on the National Public Radio program Artbeat. He was a frequent guest with Stan Martin and Jonathan Schwartz on WQEW, and was the subject of an hour-long interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. He served as a consultant and interviewee on NPR's massive Ellington project as well as on dozens of installments of Jazz Profiles and other NPR documentary programs.

In addition, Friedwald has produced and annotated hundreds of compact disc reissues, including several Grammy-winning packages (out of a total of six Grammy nominations). Expect an insightful and humorous evening of wit and historical depth.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Special Event
Dine Around Downtown with the NJMH All-Stars 11AM – 3PM

Location: Chase Manhattan Plaza, between Liberty & Pine and Nassau & William Sts.  The Downtown Alliance is pleased to present Dine Around Downtown 2009.

Savor some of the best food in town at the 11th annual Dine Around Downtown - a Downtown tradition showcasing over 50 of the finest restaurants in Lower Manhattan. Sample signature menu items for $3 to $6 while enjoying an array of live entertainment and music by the Jazz Museum throughout the day. Rain date is Wednesday, June 3.

Jazz for Curious Listeners
5 Classic Albums: Bill Evans Trio at the Village Vanguard
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

Learn how to listen to classic jazz albums from a musician’s perspective. This live recording by the Bill Evans Trio at the Village Vanguard on June 25, 1961, marked the end of one of the most sublime instrumental combinations in jazz history when bassist Scott LaFaro died in a car accident 10 days later. This unit is underdocumented because Evans, a notorious perfectionist, was reluctant to record. The interchange between Evans on piano, LaFaro on bass and Paul Motian on drums is balletic in its balance of emotional beauty and technical precision. Multiple takes of "Gloria's Step," "Alice in Wonderland," "All of You," and "Jade Visions" show how the invention these players brought to each performance makes repeated material sound like movements in a suite.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Harlem Speaks

Jon Hendricks, Vocalist
6:30 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

Jon Hendricks has been called the "James Joyce of Jive" by Times Magazine and "The Poet Laureate of Jazz" by jazz critic and historian Leonard Feather. He has distinguished himself as a vocalist capable of transforming instrumental choruses into lyrically rich voices, an art form called vocalese.

Before Hendricks reached his teens, his family moved to Toledo, Ohio, where he began appearing on radio and where he encountered the pianist extraordinaire Art Tatum, who took a keen interest in Hendricks’ musical development. A brief encounter with another iconoclastic musical genius—Charlie Parker—caused Hendricks to pursue music professionally.

He was the key lyricist and principal member of the trio Lambert, Hendricks and Ross formed in 1958. The group remained together for 6 years, during which time the trio toured widely and recorded extensively, featuring a repertory of jazz vocalese. The trio mastered the technique of adding words to jazz instrumental classics, including those of Basie and Ellington. After that, Hendricks performed with the new group, Jon Hendricks and Company. He moved to London in 1968 and performed in Europe and Africa for five years. He frequently performed on British television and appeared in the British film "Jazz is our Religion" and the french film "Hommage a Cole Porter".

He then moved to California where he was a jazz critic for the San Francisco Chronicle and taught classes at California State University at Sonoma and the University of California at Berkeley. His 1985 album Vocalese, featuring the Manhattan Transfer, won five Grammy Awards. His television documentary, Somewhere To Lay My Weary Head, received an Emmy, Iris and Peabody Award. His stage work, Evolution of the Blues, ran an unprecedented five years at the Broadway theatre in San Francisco.

Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Buck Clayton, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Wynton Marsalis, and Bobby McFerrin are among those with whom he has worked. As written in the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, "He is a fine scat singer, and is also adept at imitating instrumental sounds that his improvisations often surpass the solos played by his accompanists." None other than Al Jarreau declared that Hendricks is “pound-for-pound the best jazz singer on the planet—maybe that's ever been.”

His legacy of song, scat and puissant lyricism is perhaps matched only by his story-telling talents, as you will find out in this historic discussion. Come early: we expect a full house.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Harlem Speaks
Caribbean Swing with Etienne Charles and the NJMH All-Stars
7:00 – 9:00pm
Location: The Riverside Theater
(91 Claremont Avenue)
FREE | Family Arts Festival box office: 212-870-6784

Join us for an interview with and then music from 2006 National Trumpet Competition winner Etienne Charles. One listen to his debut recording Culture Shock shows the depth and breadth of his varied musical heritage. From the Calypso and Caribbean steel pan grooves of his native Trinidad, to sophisticated swing firmly rooted in the jazz tradition, Charles deftly incorporates a multitude of styles while maintaining continuity, freshness, and maturity in his sound.

Charles comes from a rich legacy of musical tradition. His grandfather was seldom seen without his cuatro or guitar.  His father Francis was a member of Phase II Pan Groove, one of the world’s top steel bands and one that Etienne would later join himself. Music surrounded Charles as a child, emanating from his father’s record collection, and the sounds of calypso, steel pan, and African shango and tassa drumming.  These formative years inform Charles’s playing and are evident in his sound today.

For his first album, Culture Shock, Charles assembled an outstanding and seasoned band of veteran musicians to help him bring his vision of jazz fused with Afro-Caribbean rhythms to fruition. Pianist extraordinaire Marcus Roberts is featured, with Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra trombonist Vincent Gardner, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, Ralph MacDonald, vocalist Pam Laws, saxophonist Dayve Stewart, and the hard swinging and solid rhythm section of Rodney Jordan and Leon Anderson on bass and drums respectively. This all-star cast brings together Charles’s diverse influences and creates a unified, fresh, and urgent musical presentation on par with the best jazz being made today. Etienne Charles is a talented, creative soul with a vision and the will to bring it to the world, as heard on his most recent recording, Folklore, a suite of jazz-oriented compositions that address the mythical heritage of the Caribbean region.
Saturday, June 6, 2009

Special Event
Benny Carter Memorial Concert, NJMH All-Stars

Loren Schoenberg, tenor saxophone; Kris Bowers, piano, Yasushi Nakamura, bass; Marion Felder, drums

Location: Jewish Community Center
(9 Route 39 S Sherman, CT 06784-2026)
FREE | For more information: 860-355-8050

Join the NJMH All-Stars in a tribute to jazz giant Benny Carter, an original and influential alto saxophonist, who was also a masterly composer and arranger and an important bandleader, trumpeter, and clarinetist. Along with Johnny Hodges and Charlie Parker, he is considered one of the three most influential alto sax stylists of the jazz idiom.

Carter grew up in New York City and attended Wilberforce College briefly before joining, as alto saxophonist and arranger, a series of big bands, including those led by Charlie Johnson, Horace Henderson, Chick Webb, and Fletcher Henderson.

Carter had learned the trumpet during his youth and began doubling on that instrument while leading McKinney's Cotton Pickers (1931–32); he then led his own big band in 1932–34. He spent most of 1935–38 playing and arranging in Europe. When he returned to the United States, he formed big swing bands in New York and California. Carter settled permanently in Los Angeles in 1945, where he concentrated largely on compositions for films and television, though he sometimes played alto saxophone on jazz tours and recordings.

Carter's saxophone work at its best is characterized by purity of tone, elegant ornamentation, rhythmic precision and swing, and diatonic phrasing; often it features closely constructed lines based on the development of simple musical motifs. As an arranger he was especially noted for his scoring for woodwind sections, and he composed attractive songs such as “Waltzing the Blues,” “Blue Star,” and “When Lights Are Low.” Among Carter's most acclaimed recordings are of the songs “Six or Seven Times,” “Dee Blues,” and “I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me,” all of which were performed with the Chocolate Dandies; “Crazy Rhythm,” with Coleman Hawkins; “Shoe Shiner's Drag,” with Lionel Hampton; and a 1961 album led by Carter, Further Definitions.

Carter focused on composing and arranging during the 1960s, but he played with greater frequency from the mid-1970s. He maintained a highly active career well into the 1990s, when an octogenarian Carter was still regarded as one of the top alto saxophonists in the jazz world. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2000.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Jazz for Curious Listeners
5 Classic Albums: Wayne Shorter, Speak No Evil
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

Learn how to listen to classic jazz albums from a musician’s perspective. Tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter came into his own in 1964, the year of this classic recording as well as the year Miles Davis hired him away from Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Up until that time he was known primarily through his association with Blakey, but the combination of three Blue Note albums in one year as a leader, and his new gig with the Miles Davis Quintet left no doubt about his unique abilities as a player and composer.

Speak No Evil is comprised of six original tunes written by Shorter and played by Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter, and Elvin Jones. Herbie Hancock's classic Maiden Voyage was recorded just a few months earlier with the same basic group, and in many ways they are two sides of the same coin, with Shorter's collection having a darker tone. Over the next 40 years, Wayne Shorter would continue to explore the boundaries between traditional, free, and pop styles with Miles Davis, Weather Report and solo recordings, extending concepts that first came to light during this period in the early '60s.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Jazz for Curious Listeners
5 Classic Albums: Louis Armstrong plays W.C. Handy
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

Learn how to listen to classic jazz albums from a musician’s perspective. A wonderful meeting of two institutions of American music, this 1954 album was perhaps the finest recording of Louis Armstrong's later career, with the great trumpeter-singer turning to material that was very close to his roots. Both W.C. Handy and Armstrong had a complex relationship with the blues, an essential source for both Handy's popular songs and Armstrong's improvisational art, and these recordings touch on the heart of the matter. On "Yellow Dog Blues," a product of Handy's own early and chance encounter with the rural blues, there's a majesty that recalls Armstrong's early recordings with Bessie Smith. Armstrong is clearly inspired by the classic material and the chance to stretch out on record, and his regular band of the period joins in perfectly. Trombonist Trummy Young, clarinetist Barney Bigard, pianist Billy Kyle, and singer Velma Middleton contribute stellar solos and support, while bassist Arvell Shaw and drummer Barrett Deems do an exceptional job of keeping the slower tempos rock steady. This is a deeply moving and consummately executed performance, as you will readily hear in this session of Jazz for Curious Listeners.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday Panels
Art Tatum and Ben Webster: A 2009 Centennial Celebration
10:00am – 4:00pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | Reservations: 212-348-8300

Tatum was blessed a prodigious technique and ironic sensibility that remained unsurpassed; Webster played in a fashion that exuded warmth, strength, passion and simplicity, but they were close friends and made one of the great albums of all times together, just months before Tatum died. Join us for panel discussions, rare film, and a lot of love directed at these two masters.

Art Tatum was among the most extraordinary of all jazz musicians, a pianist with wondrous technique who could not only play incredibly rapid lines with both hands (his 1933 solo version of "Tiger Rag" sounds as if there were three pianists jamming together) but was harmonically 30 years ahead of his time; all pianists have to deal to a certain extent with Tatum's innovations in order to be taken seriously. Able to play stride, swing, and boogie-woogie with speed and complexity that could only previously be imagined, Tatum's quick reflexes and boundless imagination kept his improvisations filled with fresh (and sometimes futuristic) ideas that put him way ahead of his contemporaries.

Born nearly blind, Tatum gained some formal piano training at the Toledo School of Music in Ohio but was largely self-taught. He first played professionally in Toledo in the mid-'20s and had a radio show during 1929-1930. In 1932 Tatum traveled with singer Adelaide Hall to New York and made his recording debut accompanying Hall (as one of two pianists). But for those who had never heard him in person, it was his solos of 1933 (including "Tiger Rag") that announced the arrival of a truly major talent. In the 1930s, Tatum spent periods working in Cleveland, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and (in 1938) England.

Although he led a popular trio with guitarist Tiny Grimes (later Everett Barksdale) and bassist Slam Stewart in the mid-'40s, Tatum spent most of his life as a solo pianist who could always scare the competition. Some observers criticized him for having too much technique (is such a thing possible?), working out and then keeping the same arrangements for particular songs, and for using too many notes, but those minor reservations pale when compared to Tatum's reworkings of such tunes as "Yesterdays," "Begin the Beguine," and even "Humoresque." Although he was not a composer, Tatum's rearrangements of standards made even warhorses sound like new compositions.

Art Tatum, who recorded for Decca throughout the 1930s and Capitol in the late '40s, starred at the Esquire Metropolitan Opera House concert of 1944 and appeared briefly in his only film in 1947, The Fabulous Dorseys (leading a jam session on a heated blues). He recorded extensively for Norman Granz near the end of his life in the 1950s, both solo and with all-star groups; all of the music has been reissued by Pablo on a six-CD box set. The best of these feature a collaboration with tenor saxophonist Ben Webster, “whose economy of means made for a perfect contrast with Tatum,” writes Executive Director Loren Schoenberg in his The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Jazz. Tatum’s premature death from uremia has not resulted in any loss of fame, for his recordings still have the ability to scare modern pianists.

Ben Webster was considered one of the "big three" of swing tenors along with Coleman Hawkins (his main influence) and Lester Young. He had a tough, raspy, and brutal tone on stomps (with his own distinctive growls) yet on ballads he would play with warmth and sentiment and deep romanticism.

After violin lessons as a child, Webster learned how to play rudimentary piano (his neighbor Pete Johnson taught him to play blues). But after Budd Johnson showed him some basics on the saxophone, Webster played sax in the Young Family Band (which at the time included Lester Young). He had stints with Jap Allen and Blanche Calloway (making his recording debut with the latter) before joining Bennie Moten's Orchestra in time to be one of the stars on a classic session in 1932. Webster spent time with quite a few orchestras in the 1930s (including Andy Kirk, Fletcher Henderson in 1934, Benny Carter, Willie Bryant, Cab Calloway, and the short-lived Teddy Wilson big band).

In 1940 (after short stints in 1935 and 1936), Ben Webster became Duke Ellington's first major tenor soloist. During the next three years he was on many famous recordings, including "Cotton Tail" (which in addition to his memorable solo had a saxophone ensemble arranged by Webster) and "All Too Soon." After leaving Ellington in 1943 (he would return for a time in 1948-1949), Webster worked on 52nd Street; recorded frequently as both a leader and a sideman; had short periods with Raymond Scott, John Kirby, and Sid Catlett; and toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic during several seasons in the 1950s. In this period, Webster's work on ballads became quite popular and Norman Granz recorded him on many memorable sessions.
Webster recorded a classic set with Art Tatum and generally worked steadily, but in 1964 he moved permanently to Copenhagen where he played when he pleased during his last decade. Webster could swing with the best and his tone was a later influence on such diverse players as Archie Shepp, Lew Tabackin, Scott Hamilton, and Bennie Wallace.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jazz for Curious Listeners
5 Classic Albums: Paul Motian on Broadway
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

Learn how to listen to classic jazz albums from a musician’s perspective. Paul Motian's On Broadway, Volume 1, released in 1989 is one of the best albums in Motian's long and varied career. Paul Motian is the drummer who played in Bill Evans' trio on such legendary albums like Waltz For Debby, Sunday Afternoon At The Village Vanguard, and Portrait In Jazz, to name a few. Motian has also recorded three more "On Broadway" sessions.

Motian is joined by guitarist Bill Frisell, saxophonist Joe Lovano, and bassist Charlie Haden. This recording is critically acclaimed for its fresh takes on jazz standards. Come discover why this modern recording deserves the designation of “classic.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Harlem Speaks
Rufus Reid, Bassist/Educator
6:30 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

Rufus Reid, one of today's premiere bassists on the international jazz scene, with his reputation firmly established in the education arena, now adds composition to his vitae. For several years, Reid has been a participant in the BMI Jazz Composer's Workshop which has empowered him to move more deeply into the composing arena. He won the Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Award for his composition, "Skies Over Emilia." His composition, "Whims of the Blue Bird" is the result of this award's commission. This has led to further commissions. He is writing for string orchestra, jazz ensembles large and small, and double bass ensemble pieces.

Rufus Reid received a 2006 Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts to enable him to continue composing, and he received The ASCAP/IAJE Commission for Established Jazz Composers, which was premiered at the 2007 IAJE Conference in New York City.

The 2006 Sackler Commission Prize was awarded to Rufus which allowed him to fulfill a dream he has had to compose a work dedicated to the artist, Elizabeth Catlett. Her life and work inspired in Rufus a desire to honor her and introduce her to people who might not know about her. This four movement work for Jazz Big Band, inspired by four of her sculptures, premiered at The University of Connecticut at Storrs and at Stamford in March, 2007.

Reid's book, The Evolving Bassist, published since 1974, continues to be recognized as the industry standard as the definitive bass method. As of January, 2000, the book is available in its millennium edition.

Rufus Reid is equally known as an exceptional educator as well, teaching clinics since 1971, holding associations with Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops, the Stanford University Jazz Workshop, and the Lake Placid Institute, to name a few. Reid was on the faculty of William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, as Full Professor and Director of the Jazz Studies and Performance program for twenty years completing his tenure in 1999.

Rufus Reid's major professional career began in Chicago and continues, since 1976, in New York City. Along with performing and recording with the remaining giants of jazz of today, he was privileged to share many musical moments with some that have passed on: Gene Ammons, Kenny Dorham, Eddie Harris, Sonny Stitt, Don Byas, Philly Joe Jones, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Dexter Gordon, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, and Art Farmer.

Born on February 10, 1944 in Atlanta, GA, Rufus Reid was raised in Sacramento, California where he played the trumpet through junior high and high school. Upon graduation from Sacramento High School, he entered the United States Air Force as a trumpet player. During that period he began to be seriously interested in the bass. After fulfilling his duties in the military, Rufus had decided he wanted to pursue a career as a professional bassist. He moved to Seattle, Washington, where he began serious study with James Harnett of the Seattle Symphony. He continued his education at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he studied with Warren Benfield and principal bassist, Joseph Guastefeste, both of the Chicago Symphony. He graduated in 1971 with a Bachelor of Music Degree as a Performance Major on the Double Bass.

In 1997, The International Association of Jazz Educators awarded Rufus with the Humanitarian Award. BASS PLAYER magazine, awarded Rufus the 1998 Jazz Educator Achievement Award, and DOWN BEAT magazine in March 1999, had a feature story on Rufus Reid as a legendary thirty year veteran. In November 1999, The New Jersey Chapter of the IAJE named him OUTSTANDING EDUCATOR of 1999.

Rufus Reid's new CD/DVD recording, Live at Kennedy Center, by noted Independent label, Motema Music was recorded October 13, 2006, at Washington, DC's venerable national home for the performing arts, and released May 29, 2007. This CD/DVD set features diverse moods and textures ranging from his dynamic opening jaunt "Come Out and Play," one of many compelling, accessible original compositions on the disc to "Ode to Angela," by Harold Land, "Heroes" by Billy Childs, and a sensitive solo bass interpretation of Duke Ellington's classic, "Sophisticated Lady." This package also includes a special in-depth feature, "Meet Rufus Reid," our sentiment exactly for this session of Harlem Speaks.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Harlem in the Himalayas
Kevin Hays
Location: Rubin Museum of Art
(150 West 17th Street)
$18 in advance | $20 at door |
Box Office: 212-620-5000 ext. 344

Pianist/Composer Kevin Hays has recorded 10 CDs as a leader and is featured on dozens of recordings with a variety of leading jazz artists. Included in his leader discography are 3 critically acclaimed recordings for Blue Note Records. His 'Seventh Sense' was praised by The New York Times and recognized as one of the “Top 40 Jazz Releases of the Year” by Musician Magazine.

Kevin has performed and recorded with some of the most prominent and influential musicians in Jazz, including Sonny Rollins, John Scofield, Benny Golson, Roy Haynes, Chris Potter, Al Foster, Joe Henderson, Buster Williams, Art Farmer and Joshua Redman.

Born May 1st of 1968 in New York City and raised in Connecticut, he began studying piano at the age of 6 and was playing professionally by 15. At 17 he began playing with baritone saxophone great Nick Brignola. After spending a year at The Manhattan School of Music, he began traveling in the U.S., Japan, and Europe with various bands including The Harper Brothers, Benny Golson, Joe Henderson and Eddie Gomez. In 1995 Sonny Rollins invited him to join his group; a year and a half later he began touring with guitarist John Scofield in his celebrated “Quiet” band.

Today, Kevin continues to perform worldwide in Solo concerts, with his Trio which includes bassist Doug Weiss and drummer Bill Stewart, and with The Sangha Quartet which features Seamus Blake, Larry Grenadier, and Bill Stewart. He also conducts Master Classes in the U.S. and overseas.

Kevin's recent recording activity includes a new Solo Piano CD Open Range on the ACT label; the launching of PinonDisk Records, his own label on which he has released his latest Trio CD What Survives; a new trio project with the groundbreaking web-based company, and two releases under the JazzEyes label: For Heaven's Sake (2006) and the recently released You've Got a Friend.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Special Event
NJMH Big Band Ellington Tribute
2:00 – 4:00pm
Location: Harlem Meer, just outside The Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (Central Park at 110th between Lenox and 5th Avenues)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

Featuring the NJMH All-Star Big band directed by Loren Schoenberg

As a fine art, jazz is timeless. What makes this so? One great example is Duke Ellington’s genius as a composer, arranger, big band leader, and pianist. Duke’s compositions, which capture the spirit of America in sound, will be the focus of this free Saturday concert. Come, bring some friends, and don’t forget your dancing shoes!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jazz for Curious Listeners
5 Classic Albums: Common, Like Water for Chocolate
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

Learn how to listen to classic jazz albums from a musician’s perspective. Common is a hip hop lyricist and spoken word artist known for his integration of political, cultural and educational themes in a socially conscious musical package that eschews the necessity of a “gangsta” pose for legitimacy or to cow-tow to a minstrel aesthetic.

As is the case with his Brooklyn homeboy, Mos Def, Common draws from a wide palette of musical styles in his recordings, including jazz. The title Like Water for Chocolate, is a double entendre: one meaning is derived from the movie of the same title, the other from the Gordan Parks photo of a black girl drinking from a “Colored Only” water fountain, used as the CD cover.

The recording is known for its Afrocentric focus, and features collaborations with guest stars from rap, eliciting a range of themes from love songs (“The Light,”) to a flip-the-script discussion between a pimp and a potential employee that humorously belies his rep as a “conscious rapper,” to a tribute to real hip hop history (“Nag Champa”), as well as a hat’s off to Fela Kuti and Assata Shakur.

This album was Common’s commercial breakthrough recording in 2000; he demonstrated that he could maintain his artistic integrity and get “large” at the same time. Come discover a jazz perspective on a hip hop classic.

Band du Jour @ Boulder Theater

Band du Jour, the Jam band sensation from the 90’s returns to Boulder with soulful vocals and high energy jams. Their original brand of soul n' roll made them an institution in the 90's in Boulder where they brought the funk to enraptured audiences time and time again. Now Band du Jour returns, with the soulful vocals and high energy jams that will keep the audience boogying all night long once again.

Band Du Jour's style was concocted from a wide array of influences including rock n' roll, New Orleans style funk, soul, R&B and reggae. Their unique and compelling original songs are complimented by their psychedelic jams. With five vocalists in the band supported by a rhythm section, two guitars, and a Hammond organ player/pianist, the band has an authentic rootsy sound. This year, the entire original line up will be performing, including the legendary Sherri Jackson whose raw vocal power and electrifying charisma light up the stage.

Members include Danny Brandt Schults, the founder of Band du Jour, Sherri Jackson, John Ohnmacht and Bill McKay.

Tickets are on sale now at The Boulder Theater Box Office. Call (303) 786-7030 for tickets by phone.  Tickets are also available through our website @ Ticket prices include tax and service charge.   GA / 21+ / $15.00

Umphrey's Releases Live DVD & Announces Summer Dates

Umphrey's McGee is gearing up for a busy summer. On June 2nd the band releases their new DVD, Umphrey's McGee - Live.  Recorded during their 2007 performance for PBS's Soundstage, Umphrey's McGee - Live is offers an incredible 13-song set on DVD, including six favorites not shown during the PBS broadcast, which premiered this past February.   Also this summer, Umphrey's McGee celebrates the European release of their highly acclaimed new studio album, Mantis. Look for the band on tour this summer, including a just-announced ROTHBURY appearance, a run of co-bill dates with Matisyahu, two nights with Dave Matthews Band, and even some stops at Chicago's baseball fields (it wouldn't be summer for Umphrey's McGee without baseball!).


umLegendary on the live music circuit, Chicago-based Umphrey's McGee has perfected the art of progressive improvisation.  With swirling guitar textures, multi-faceted arrangements and their signature blend of power and finesse, the sextet brings jamming to a new level.  During the summer of 2007, Umphrey's McGee came home to Chicago to record a special live performance for the award-winning PBS music series Soundstage at WTTW's Grainger Studio. UMPHREY'S McGEE - LIVE features over two hours of dazzling music presented in High-Definition and mixed in 5.1 Surround Sound, plus two bonus tracks (including "Made to Measure" off their most recent studio album Mantis).  A visual showcase of the band's spontaneity and innovative prowess, UMPHREY'S McGEE - LIVE, is a must-own for all music enthusiasts and progressive rock fans, and is available in stores and online for $19.99 SRP.


Also this summer, Umphrey's McGee's skips across the pond with the European release of their new studio album, Mantis. The special 2-disc European edition of Mantis, released by Floating World Records/Evangeline, is now available in Holland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Scandanavia, and the UK. Mantis is Umphrey's fifth studio release, and their most successful to date.  Here's what U.S. critics had to say:


"...the sleekly constructed tunes...sparkle with a sweetness and soul that's more than the sum of their influences."- Entertainment Weekly

"...meticulous... If complexity is the standard by which it should be judged, Mantis warranted the buildup [of its release]." - New York Times

"A beautiful music gumbo... The band pulls off the trans-genre trick without a hitch." 
- Associated Press

"...their slickest and most ambitious tunes yet." - Rolling Stone


Look for Umphrey's McGee on tour this summer, including an unlikely pairing - Notre Dame alums Umphrey's McGee with Hasidic reggae-man Matisyahu, two nights with Dave Matthews Band, plus festival stops including ROTHBURY, All Good, High Sierra and others.


Of personal note for the Chicago natives are their confirmed appearances at Chicago's baseball fields. The band will sing the National Anthem and "God Bless America" at Wrigley Field on Sunday, May 31st, when the Cubs host playoff rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then, on June 8th, the band heads to the South Side for their fifth performance at US Cellular Field for the Chicago White Sox versus the Detroit Tigers. On this official "Umphrey's McGee Fan Appreciation Night," the band will deliver a three-song acoustic set from home plate, followed by the singing of the National Anthem. Need more baseball? Catch Umphrey's McGee's music in a new movie about the Chicago Cubs. Titled "We Believe," the movie will be out in late spring and will premiere at the Chicago Theater on June 12th.


The complete list of confirmed summer appearances is as follows:

umMay 29 Mountain Jam Festival ~ Hunter Mountain Hunter NY
May 30 Newport Music Hall Columbus OH
May 31 Wrigley Field Chicago IL
June 5 Wanee Festival Live Oak FL
June 6 Bama Jam Enterprise AL
June 8 US Cellular Field Chicago IL
June 25 Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Richmond VA
June 26 Buffalo Place Rocks the Harbor Buffalo NY
June 27 Papermill Island Amphitheatre Baldwinsville NY
July 2 High Sierra Music Festival Quincy CA
July 3-5 ROTHBURY Rothbury MI
July 7 Bank of America Pavilion Boston MA w/ Matisyahu
July 8 Electric Factory Philadelphia PA w/ Matisyahu
July 9 Central Park Summerstage New York NY w/ Matisyahu
July 10 NorVa Norfolk VA
July 11 All Good Music Festival ~ Marvin's Mountaintop Masontown WV
July 12 Forecastle Festival Louisville KY 
July 15 Simon Estes Amphitheatre Des Moines IA
July 16 Capitol Theatre Davenport IA 
July 17 Crossroads Kansas City MO
July 18-19 Alpine Valley East Troy WI supporting Dave Matthews Band
July 25 10,000 Lakes Festival Detroit Lakes, MN

August 15 Mulberry Mountain Harvest Music Festival Ozark AR
September 4 Mishawaka Bellevue CO
September 5 Jazz Aspen Aspen CO

Infected Mushroom Return with ‘Legend of the Black Shawarma’

For their highly anticipated release LEGEND OF THE BLACK SHAWARMA, electronic-rock innovators INFECTED MUSHROOM return with their patented hybrid of thrashing metal and psychedelic trance to bring a frenetic rock energy to the form and venture where other electronic acts fear to tread.  The Israeli-bred, Los Angeles-based electronic duo continues to push sonic boundaries for their eighth studio album that’s due out September 8, 2009 on electronic music giant Paul Oakenfold’s Perfecto label.

infected-mushroomLegend Of The Black Shawarma sees Amit “Duvdev” Duvedevani and Erez Eisen teaming with high-profile rockers. The album’s lead single “Smashing the Opponent” features a scorching vocal from Korn’s Jonathan Davis, while Jane’s Addiction frontman and alt-rock trailblazer Perry Farrell lends his inimitable pipes to the follow-up track “Killing Time.”  “Recording with Jonathan and Perry was a highlight, of course,” Duvdev notes.  “They were both incredibly cool. The fact that they liked the tracks was awesome because we’re huge fans of what they do.”

The album is the follow-up to 2007’s Vicious Delicious and takes INFECTED MUSHROOM's psy-trance fusion of bruising, metallic rock and unstoppable dance-floor beats to a new level.  “It’s a really diverse record,” Duvdev says, “but it’s even more aggressive–both on the metal side and on the breakbeat side.”  Taking its time to craft the album, the duo worked on Shawarma whenever their frenetic, globe-trotting tour schedule permitted.  Whether singing about “Smashing” and “Killing” or paying tribute to beloved (Los Angeles) eateries like “Poquito Mas,” “Frank’s” (“The best taco place in Mexico in our opinion”) or Israeli hummus factory “Sae’ed,” INFECTED MUSHROOM prove they’ve stayed hungry despite their massive international success.

And what of the album’s mysterious, culinary title?  “We were on tour in Australia two years ago,” he explains.  “My friend came to me said, ‘I have this dream to dive with sharks.’  They do that in Australia–you’re lowered into shark-infested waters in a cage.” At that point, Duvdev warned his burly friend that in a wetsuit he would resemble, to toothy denizens of the deep, a certain meat wrap of Middle Eastern origin.  “I told him if he did this, there were five gigantic sharks waiting for a shawarma like him to come down in a cage and be devoured.  We thought that was pretty funny and the Legend of the Black Shawarma was born.”  As the title track’s cautionary lyrics have it:  “Life’s been treating you nice/You better be wise/And enjoy your moment.”

Thanks to INFECTED MUSHROOM's genre-pushing songs and incendiary performances, the adventurous duo has become one of the biggest live electronic bands on the planet.  Their schedule has proved as relentless as their juggernaut jams.  From the Ultra Music Festival in Miami (which drew over 100,000 attendees this past March), Coachella, the Virgin Festival in Baltimore, Mexico’s OMIX, Brazil’s Ipanema Beach and Melbourne’s Metro Club, INFECTED MUSHROOM has averaged about 120 live performances per year. Twice ranked among the world’s 10 best DJs by the bible of the scene, the U.K.’s DJ magazine, they routinely whip crowds of all cultures into the same whirling froth.

Their explosive show--featuring guitars, live drums, Duvdev’s intensely passionate vocals, Erez’s nimble keyboards and an ambitious multimedia backdrop--ranks among the genre’s most unpredictably joyous events. INFECTED MUSHROOM will highlight new selections from Shawarma during several of their live shows in North America this summer, launching “Smash The Opponent” during their performance at electronic mega-music festival Electric Daisy Carnival in Los Angeles June 27.  The complete list of dates follows below.

The complete track listing for INFECTED MUSHROOM's Legend of the Black Shawarma is:

1. Poquito Mas

2. Sa'eed

3. End of the Road

4. Smashing the Opponent *featuring Jonathan Davis (Korn)

5. Can't Stop

6. Herbert the Pervert  

7. Killing Time *featuring Perry Farrell (Janes Addiction)  

8. Project 100  

9. Franks

10. Slowly

11. Legend of the Black Shawarma

INFECTED MUSHROOM’s North American summer tour dates are as follows:

DATE                          CITY                                    VENUE

Thu      6/11                 Anaheim, CA                          Heat

Fri        6/12                 San Diego, CA                         Spin

Sat       6/13                 Denver, CO                            Electric Daisy Carnival

Thu      6/25                 Edmonton, CANADA                Empire Ballroom

Fri        6/26                 Sal Lake City, UT                     The Great Saltair Magna

Sat       6/27                 Los Angeles, CA                      Electric Day Carnival

Fri        7/3                   Seattle, WA                           The Showbox Sodo

Fri        7/17                 San Francisco, CA                    Regency Center Grand Ballroom

Sat       7/18                 Los Angeles, CA                      Vanguard

Sanofi-aventis Jazzfest 2009

Despite the demise of the JVC Jazz Festival, there will still be a major jazz festival in the New York area – the sanofi-aventis Jazzfest. Originally started as part of the Newport Jazz Festival New York, Jazzfest has been presented by the New Jersey Jazz Society for 34 years. This popular jazz festival will take place on the campus of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey on June 5 and 6 and is now the region’s only true straight ahead jazz festival.

jazzfestJazzfest kicks off with a free concert sponsored by Jazzmobile and the Madison Downtown Development Commission on Friday at 7:00. Featuring three of New Jersey’s best student jazz bands, the concert has become a New Jersey Jazz Society tradition of celebrating jazz education and young talented musicians.

On Saturday, the gates open at 11:00 am and the music begins at noon and runs until 10:00 PM. In the afternoon, four bands will alternate sets on three stages both indoors in the Dorothy Young Performing Arts Center and outdoors under the jazz tent. Those bands include a tribute to the great Benny Goodman with the Allan Vache Benny Goodman Tribute Big Band, the Houston Person Quartet, Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, Trio da Paz and the Generations of Jazz with Pam Purvis.

In the evening, three groups take the main stage with the Rio Clemente Trio and vocalist Laura Hull kicking things off at 5:30 pm. At 7:00 pm, jazz singer Curtis Stigers takes the stage followed by Sherrie Maricle and the DIVA Jazz Orchestra.

·       The Benny Goodman Tribute Big Band is one of the official bands approved by the great clarinetist’s estate to celebrate the centennial of his birth. Led by Allen Vache, the band features some of the swingingest musicians in jazz, including Warren Vache, Terry Blaine, Randy Reinhart, Tom Artin, Mark Shane and Joe Ascione.

·       Complimenting the swing of the Goodman band will be Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks whose recreation of hot jazz from the twenties and thirties have made them one of the most sought after ensembles in the country, with many guest appearances in film and on radio.

·       Trio da Paz brings together three of Brazil’s top jazz musicians, Romero Lubambo, Nilson Matta and Duduka deFonseca. Their brand of infectious South American jazz has given them a worldwide audience.

·       Saxophonist Houston Person is riding a new wave of popularity as a younger generation is discovering his soulful, bluesy style. Although he has recorded more that 75 albums, he has never lost his creative, swinging edge.

·       In the evening, Jazzfest will feature the locally popular Rio Clemente Trio with singer Laura Hull from 5:30 to 7:00. They will be followed by singer Curtis Stigers who has made the transition from pop star in the 1980s to jazz star today. He has appeared with Eric Clapton, Herbie Hancock, Diana Krall and Wynton Marsalis, to name a few of the great artists who love his style. He has been called the “best male jazz singer of his generation” by the critics.

·       The evening concludes with one of the best big bands on the scene today, the all-woman big band Sherrie Maricle & the DIVA Jazz Orchestra. Leading critic and reader polls consistently rank them as one of the best big bands in the world and for good reason. Following in the tradition of the Buddy Rich Big Band, DIVA blends a contemporary sound with a big band tradition. Their performances are uniquely spontaneous, energetic and lots of fun.

The sanofi-aventis Jazzfest co-sponsored by RXR will also feature great food and many vendors all day on Saturday, including a special Southern Barbecue, sales of rare CDs and vinyl records, jazz related art and jewelry as well as many craft and retail vendors. The festival is also made possible by the generous support of corporations and local organizations, including JazzMobile, Riker Danzig, Madison Downtown Development Commission, Toyota of Morristown, WBGO Jazz88FM and JazzTimes Magazine. The Best Western Morristown Inn is the official festival hotel and offers a special discount room rate for attendees of the festival. The Morristown Inn is located just two miles from the Drew campus in historic Morristown.

The New Jersey Jazz Society will also take time out to honor Bill Hyland, for many years the legal and music advisor for Benny Goodman, Todd Rechler whose company RSR Realty is a champion of the arts in the region, and sanofi-aventis which has supported Jazzfest for the past five years.

Tickets are only $50.00 in advance, but will be $65.00 at the gate on June 6. New Jersey Jazz Society members enjoy even larger savings. For more information, advance sale discount tickets, membership information and hotel reservations log onto or call 800-303-6557. Students are $10.00 at the gate and kids 16 and under are free. Drew University is conveniently located on Route 124 in Madison and parking is free. The university is also easily accessible by public transportation.

Matt Flinner Trio Nashville CD Release Party

In August of 2006, with the backdrop of the Rockies to inspire them, the Matt Flinner Trio (Matt Flinner (mandolin), Ross Martin (guitar), and Eric Thorin (bass)) threw down a challenge to one another: write a new tune each day while on tour and perform it that evening. The first gig was at a small art gallery in Salt Lake City and barring a frantic evening of photocopying and rehearsing, the show was a success. The players continued with their daily musical challenge, giving birth to the concept of the "Music du Jour" tours and later the Music du Jour album. Between Flinner, Ross, and Thorin, over sixty new tunes were composed during three western US tours, and in December 2008 the trio committed the twelve best to record at the Compass Sound Studio. With Music du Jour the Matt Flinner Trio sets a new standard for the bluegrass trio sound and creative output.



flinnerMulti-instrumentalist Matt Flinner has made a career out of playing acoustic music in new ways. Starting out as a banjo prodigy who was playing bluegrass festivals before he entered his teens, Flinner later took up the mandolin, won the banjo contest at Winfield Kansas in 1990, and took the mandolin award there the following year. Flinner's decision to focus on eight-stringed instruments, especially the mandolin, was primarily a function of opportunity.  He explains, "I was getting more work on the mandolin." Sugarbeat, an eclectic quartet that also featured banjoist Tony Furtado, lead vocalist and guitarist Ben Demerath, and bassist Sally Truitt allowed him the opportunity to master the mandolin in a contemporary folk and bluegrass context.



Flinner is now widely considered one of the hottest mandolin players on the acoustic scene. He tours actively with the Matt Flinner Trio, as a member of the 'new acoustic' trio Phillips, Grier & Flinner, as a member of Darrell Scott's band, and with guitarist Frank Vignola (David Grisman Quintet). Flinner also special guests on banjo with Leftover Salmon and in the fall of 2008 was a featured soloist with Trey Anastasio and Carlo Aonzo during Orchestra Nashville's performance of "Concertino" (Don Hart). He most recently appeared on comedian Steve Martin's new recording The Crow and the Vignola Collectives' March 09 release, Gypsy Grass.



With his singular combination of taste, tone, and time, Matt Flinner has and continues to create a sound that is unique to his vision and makes an important statement in the evolution of acoustic string band music.

The Charlatans UK Announce US 2009 Tour

The Charlatans’ tenth studio album, ‘You Cross My Path’, is nothing less than a masterpiece – only the latest triumph, in a career which has been positively stuffed with them.

It was one of the most talked-about records in recent years, before anyone had even heard a note of it. It was first released in early March in MP3 format, via alternative radio station Xfm’s website. In a revolutionary move, The Charlatans were charging their fans not a penny to own and enjoy their latest music.

charlatans“I know some people have given their music away free before, like Throbbing Gristle, and Pete Doherty,” says Tim Burgess, the band’s singer, proudly, “but we’re the first to give a brand new album away free. The idea was just to get the music into people’s iPods. We came to the conclusion that we didn’t really care how people got it, just as long as they got it.”

On that score, mission accomplished: within a week, ‘You Cross My Path’ had been downloaded no less than 60,000 times. Had those transactions taken place within “official” channels, it would’ve been sufficient to send the album to Number Two in the UK charts. Another week later, the album was posted for download on the band’s own website, , again for free. At the last count, approximately 90,000 MP3 copies of the album were out in the world.

For those many happy owners of ‘You Cross My Path’, this hasn’t been some bizarre virtual twist on the money/old rope equation. Without having their minds made up for them by the media, they’ve come to realise that the album is amongst The Charlatans’ very best, if not the finest of all.

“The idea actually came up about two years ago,” says Tim, “soon after I asked Alan McGee to manage the band. I was really looking for a fresh start in a lot of ways. I decided to give up drinking and taking drugs, just to see where that takes me. It was a really painful time, because I loved drinking and taking drugs so much, but after about three months I really began to feel the benefit.

“Anyway, after we had that idea, personally I felt really inspired, and I think it helped the whole band. You try to get up in the morning and write a new record, but unfortunately it doesn’t happen all the time. You need something inspiring to fuel your energy. Lots of things seemed to start happening, it was really invigorating.”

At home in Los Angeles through the latter half of 2006, Tim had been submerging himself in his huge and ever-expanding record collection. As ever, the tunes he was listening to in that period provided the starting point for, and became a shaping influence on, the music that he and the band created over the ensuing months.

Tim: “We’ve been influenced by Motown, punk, 60’s psyche and we’ve been through Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons and Curtis Mayfield… I wanted a different thing this time. I was listening to Brian Eno a lot, which triggered thoughts of Joy Division, who I found out were really inspired by Eno and Bowie, and that set me off listening to all the records I was listening to in 1981-86 – Section 25, The Wake, Royal Family And The Poor, and all those obscure Factory bands.

“Plus, my wife, Michelle, discovered ‘The Head On The Door’ by The Cure. When that originaly came out, I was working in a chemical factory in manchester; at the weekend, I’d go to the pub, drink bad cider and get pissed. They were times of optimism for me, hope for the future. I’d got to clubs and dance to Grandmaster Flash, D.A.F ‘The Cutter’ by Echo & The Bunnymen, ‘Temptation’ by New Order and ‘Felicity’ by Orange Juice – all in a row. In the same way, all that stuff blended into one over the two years of making the record.”

For the first time, Burgess wrote his initial song ideas using the Apple programme Logic. This enabled him to send them instantly to Tony Rogers, the band’s keyboard player and in-house computer wizard, “to get my ideas more fully realised”. In February ’07, Rogers and Mark Collins, the Charlies’ guitarist, joined Tim in LA for preliminary sessions.

The trio then reconvened for a couple more sessions at Tony’s house in Ireland, in April and October, before the remaining parts were completed, with bassist Martin Blunt and drummer Jon Brookes, at the band’s studio HQ in Cheshire, Big Mushroom. The album was then mixed by Alan Moulder, revered for his work with, amongst others, The Jesus & Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and The Cure.

‘You Cross My Path’ includes some of the most euphoric music the Charlatans have ever made – some of the most disturbed, too. Like on a classic Cure or New Order record, Blunt’s basslines lead from the front, for a driving, danceable sound, which is both nostalgic and fiercely contemporary. Burgess was keen to cut against the music’s polished upfulness in his lyrics. The first song he worked on was ‘Oh! Vanity’, which he says is “about nostalgia, and not a warm nostalgia – I wanted it to have quite a cold atmosphere.” You Cross My Path’, meanwhile, is “angry – someone had backed me into a corner, and I came out fighting”.

Those two tunes set him off trying to strike a new and different lyrical vibe. His wife suggested he try the cut-up technique originated by William Burroughs, and transposed to the pop world by David Bowie.

“I was like, I did that when I was 21 years old! I was at home one day, and I ended up writing four sets of lyrics for an Italian disco record I’d got by Doris Norton – one about the band, one about my childhood, one a weird essay on Diane Arbus, this photographer I really love, and one about a bad acid trip in a hotel. Eventually, I cut it all up, but I didn’t just throw it altogether, I just took all bits I needed. That became ‘The Misbegotten’.”

Tim laughs. “It might seem like I had too much time on my hands, but if LA’s been good for me in one way, it’s that I’ve got time on my hands. I come down to the room where I’ve got all my records, and just get inspired by music, which to me is what it’s all about.”

As The Charlatans approach their twentieth anniversary, their music continues to be just as inspirational to hundreds of thousands of fans. They first appeared in 1989 with the self-financed ‘Indian Rope’ single, and quickly followed it with ‘The Only One I Know’, which is to this day amongst the most beloved hits from that exciting era in British music.

The Charlatans themselves have proved every bit as enduring as that signature song, in the face of often tragic circumstances. Their history encompasses imprisonment, a fatal car accident, testicular cancer and the embezzlement of half a million quid by their accountant, not to mention the passing of countless musical trends.

As a result, they have often been cast as “survivors” – a rather grim and unflattering image for a band, who have scored nine UK Top Ten albums (not including ‘You Cross My Path’, as yet), and 22 Top 40 singles. Burgess singles out ‘Tellin’ Stories’ (1996), ‘Us & Us Only’ (1999) and ‘Wonderland’ (2001) as what he calls “our championship title-winning records”, but their music continues to evolve, excite and excel, both in the studio, and as an unstoppable touring combo.

For this, Burgess and his cohorts have lately found themselves adopted as godfathers by a new generation of bands for whom they have been literally a lifelong obsession. When Mark Ronson included a rendition of ‘The Only One I Know’ on his ‘Version’ album (sung by Robbie Williams, no less), it soon became clear that he’d done so out of immense reverence for the original, and its makers. Burgess has since sung it onstage with Ronson.

“He introduces me as the person that got him into music,” says Tim, “which is quite humbling, really. The first time we ever played in New York, he snuck out to see us. He was only 13 years old, and then did a paper [at school] about his favourite band, which was us.”

Similarly, a list of admirers that includes The Klaxons, The Horrors, Carl Barât and The Twang, as well as rising acts like Electricty In Our Homes and Glasvegas, have been welcomed into the ever-growing, music-obsessed Charlatans social whirl. Another group, Hatcham Social, recently enlisted Tim to produce their single, ‘Till The Dawn’. “They’re really into Orange Juice,” he enthuses, before launching into a lengthy discourse on the producer responsible for many of Factory’s early masterpieces, Martin Hannett.

…Which brings us back to ‘You Cross My Path’. “This’ll probably sound fucked-up,” says Tim, “but every day, I used to walk to the gym, because I thought I needed to get into training to make this record. In the final song, ‘This Is The End’, there’s the line, ‘I look at all the amputees on the Strip’, because on my walk I noticed all these guys who’d come home from the War [in Iraq] and were homeless, starting to live on [Sunset] Strip.

“I just wanted to put all that stuff in,” he continues. “Everything! The whole record came out as one complete thought – like ‘Power Corruption & Lies’, or ‘Electric Ladyland’, or ‘Kollaps’ by Einstürzende Neubauten. Everything’s in there, as one big flow of ideas.”

There is, perhaps, a strong sense of irony about such an incorrigible vinyl junkie, who takes so much guiding light from his records, suddenly becoming a spokesman for the digital revolution. The irony wasn’t lost on him, right from the beginning. “When WE were first talking about [the free download], “I secretly knew I’d want it on vinyl as well”. So, the album now arrives physically, in 33 territories, on deluxe double CD, single CD and trusty vinyl, courtesy of Cooking Vinyl.

“It feels like a great idea – to release it again!” Tim concludes. “We’re learning as we go along. We’ll just see where it takes us. But the whole thing has been invigorating. It really feels like the band have been reborn, like we’ve got a whole new lease of life.”

Otis Taylor Examines the Darker Dimensions of Love

No one ever accused blues singer/composer/multi-instrumentalist Otis Taylor of overindulging in the happier aspects of the human condition. His songs are often peopled with characters whose emotional landscape — no matter how raw or dark — is laid bare for all to experience, and the story is often less than pretty.

otis taylorBut if love — in any or all of its joyous and painful variations — is somewhere amid that confusing emotional swirl, he’ll go there too. The result will by no means be syrupy ballads obsessing over romantic love. Instead, Taylor’s love songs take a hard, realistic look at the relative benefits and costs of what is perhaps the most unnerving of forces within the human heart.

Taylor’s new recording, Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs, throws a light on the complexities of love in all of its forms. The album is set for June 23, 2009, release on Telarc International, a division of Concord Music Group. In addition to Taylor’s trademark haunting vocals and simple but stirring guitar riffs — a combination often referred to as trance blues — the album also features guest appearances by Irish blues-rock guitarist Gary Moore (previously heard on Taylor’s Definition of a Circle in 2007) and jazz/hip-hop pianist Jason Moran.

Within these songs of love are tales of tragedy and loss, misunderstanding and deception — but there’s often a glimmer of hope as well. “That’s just my nature,” says Taylor. “I may write love songs, but they aren’t always going to be happy and pretty. Look at songs like ‘Teen Angel’ or ‘Ode To Billy Joe.’ Those are love songs, but they aren’t exactly happy. So why shouldn’t my songs be considered love songs?”

The set opens with the pensive “Looking for Some Heat,” the story of a man looking for some love and sunshine. Moran and cornetist Ron Miles provide enough subtle riffs to serve as counterpoint to Taylor’s more edgy vocals. “I met Jason in Germany once, but I didn’t really pay that much attention to him at first,” says Taylor. “Then I saw him in concert in West Virginia, and I was really amazed. I wanted to get him on one of my records.”

The melancholy “Sunday Morning” features lead vocals by Cassie Taylor (Otis’ 21-year-old daughter), backed by Gary Moore’s understated but potent flamenco guitar lines. The power of the song lies in the simplicity of the lyrics, as they draw attention to the images and rituals of what is often the most introspective day of the week.

“Lost My Guitar” was inspired by the tragic true story of Emma K. Walsh, whose preschool-age daughter was killed in a car accident in Boulder, Colorado, in 1974. The singer in the song laments the loss of his guitar, but “the guitar is a metaphor for the child,” says Taylor.

“I’m Not Mysterious,” a tale of puppy love between two eight-year-olds, seems innocent enough, but the difference in race between the two children makes for an undercurrent of tensions. “That’s something I’ve lived, so I decided to write about it,” says Taylor, who grew up in Denver in the ‘50s and ‘60s. “When I was a little kid, this little girl sent me a note telling me she loved me. So I followed her home to see where she lived. Then one time I visited her at her house. That was when I had to stop seeing her.”

otisThe hypnotic “Mama’s Best Friend,” sung by Cassie and fueled by the odjembe drumming of percussionist Fara Tolno, is a glimpse into the life of Taylor’s mother — a sort of follow-up chapter to “Mama’s Selling Heroin,” a track from his 2004 recording, Double V. “My mother was gay, and she eventually hooked up with one of her girlfriends,” he explains. “My father left and went to California. I put these stories out there for my children.”

The closer, “If You Hope,” is a story about a ghost who wants his lover to join him in the afterlife. “If you listen to the very end, you hear it build up beautifully,” says Taylor, “sort of like a grand finale to the entire album. It brings the various elements of my music together — the jazz, the blues-rock, all of it.”

Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs follows Taylor’s 2008 opus Recapturing the Banjo, an album that celebrated the African roots of an instrument whose origins have been largely obscured by its subsequent associations with Appalachian folk music.

“This is a different kind of endeavor for me,” he says of the new recording. “I found myself saying, ‘What can I do after making a banjo album? What will people want to listen to?’ My answer was love songs. I’m doing things here that I didn’t have the opportunity to do on previous albums, things that people wouldn’t normally expect from me, compared to what I’ve done so far. I think it’s one of my best works because it has such unusual elements.”