sam

Big Sam's Funky Nation & Sullivan Hall

Big Sam's Funky Nation had an amazing Halloween weekend & the party's not over yet! Put on your dancin' shoes, BSFN is making their way back to New York for a night of pure, booty-shaking funk this Friday, November 6th.
Recently awarded the Big Easy Music Award for "Best Funk Group of 2008," Big Sam's Funky Nation is a driving force of urban funk. The band is led by trombone powerhouse, Big Sam Williams, formerly the trombonist for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, who the San Francisco Chronicle calls "the top man on the slide trombone in the birthplace of jazz." Combining his distinctive trombone riffs with a call-and-response MC style, Big Sam refuses to let the audience sit still. Between the band's solos and his trombone riffs, Big Sam second-lines (a uniquely New Orleans style of street-dance) and gets the crowd going. Big Sam's Funky Nation is not a one man show; the members of the Funky Nation, a group of well trained and experienced musicians with impressive credentials of their own, meet the challenges of their funky band leader. BSFN masterfully combines a rock sensibility with improv-style associated with jazz and the horn-heavy front section that's the hallmark of big band funk. The energy level is high voltage when this band takes the stage, and as Jambase Online proclaims, "as long as groups like Big Sam's Funky Nation helm communal happenings like this one the funky fever is bound to spread."
Kicking the night off will be the Honey Island Swamp Band. Come out and show your love at the upcoming Big Sam's Funky Nation show at Sullivan Hall--you'll be sure to Shake Yo Thang!

DATE: Friday, November 6th TIME:  10:30pm

Sam Bush Honors First Loves on "Circles Around Me"

Sam Bush doesn't seem old enough to be a musical legend. And he's not. But he is. In September, the Americana Music Association with its Lifetime Achievement for Instrumentalist award will honor Bush, who is alternately known as the King of Telluride and the King of Newgrass. "It's overwhelming and humbling," says Bush of the honor. "It goes along with the title cut of my new album, Circles Around Me, which basically says, how in the hell did we get this far? In my brain I'm still 17, but I look in the mirror and I'm 57."

sam-bushCircles Around Me, Bush's seventh solo album and sixth with Sugar Hill, will be released Oct. 20. The album is an aurally inspiring mix of bluegrass favorites and complementary new songs. "I don't know why, but it felt right at this moment in my life to go back and revisit some things that I've loved all my life, which is bluegrass and, unapologetically, newgrass," says Bush. "After all these years of experimenting --and there's experimentation on this record too --I've come full circle."

Produced by three-time Grammy winner Bush, the 14-song set includes appearances by Del McCoury, Edgar Meyer, Jerry Douglas and New Grass Revival co-founder Courtney Johnson (posthumously). The album also employs the phenomenal talent of Bush's band: Scott Vestal, Stephen Mougin, Byron House and Chris Brown.

The title cut, which Bush co-wrote with Jeff Black, "is about being thankful that you're still here, that you're still alive walking around," Bush explains. "Why are we the ones still here when we've had fallen comrades and loved ones?"

"The Ballad of Stringbean and Estelle," which Bush co-wrote with Guy Clark and Verlon Thompson, is the haunting real-life story of the 1973 murder of Grand Ole Opry star David "Stringbean" Akeman and his wife.

Courtney Johnson, who passed in 1996, was reunited with Bush on the album thanks to New Grass Revival producer Garth Fundis, who found a previously unreleased recording with Bush and Johnson's fiddle and banjo recording of  "Apple Blossom" from 1976. The tape was restored and new parts were added. "It's pretty special and it means a lot to me," Bush says. "It reminds me how much I loved Courtney's playing."

Meanwhile, "Souvenir Bottles" and "Whisper My Name" are fine updates of songs Bush first recorded in his New Grass Revival days. "I guess I'm proud that I can still sing it in the key that we first cut it in," Bush says of "Whisper," which was on New Grass Revival's 1972 debut album.

McCoury, whom Bush has known since the mid-60s, guests on two Bill Monroe songs, "Roll On Buddy, Roll On" and "Midnight On The Stormy Deep." "Del always encouraged me to sing," Bush says. "So I wanted to do these songs with him. 'Roll On' is one of the few songs Del ever recorded with Bill."

Songs such as "Diamond Joe" and "You Left Me Alone" have roots in Bush's youth. The latter was on an album by the Country Gentlemen that Bush bought in the '60s. "It's a great 6/8 fast waltz tune and I am almost quoting John Duffey's mandolin playing note for note," he says. "It's a great tune and I never heard anyone else do it."

The Bush-penned "Old North Woods" is a "Bill Monroe-sounding waltz," according to Bush, that features Meyer, his wife, Cornelia Heard of the Blair String Quartet, and their 16 year old son, George, in his recording debut.

There's plenty more of course and Bush fans new and old will find plenty to love. "It's crazy to think about," Bush says of his influence on today's crop of mandolin players. "I'm proud to be part of a natural progression in music. But I hope to still be playing 30 years from now."

Bill Evans Soulgrass Special Edition w/ Special Guest Sam Bush

bush_evansTHE IRIDIUM JAZZ CLUB IS VERY PLEASED TO PRESENT THE KING OF NEWGRASS SAM BUSH AND JAZZ-SOUL SAX MAN BILL EVANS IN A VERY SPECIAL APPEARANCE APRIL 2-5.  BILL EVANS SOULGRASS SPECIAL EDITION SPECIAL GUEST SAM BUSH FEATURING DENNIS CHAMBERS, RICHARD BONA, RYAN CAVANAUGH AND CHRISTIAN HOWES (SAT AND SUN ONLY

Bill Evans

Throughout his 20-year career as a solo artist, saxophonist Bill Evans  has explored a variety of musical settings that go well beyond the confines of traditional jazz, including hip-hop, fusion, reggae, Brazilian and slamming funk.  Evans stepped into more adventurous territory with his 2006 Grammy nominated release Soulgrass, blending jazz, funk and bluegrass into a seamless and wholly unique hybrid of quintessentially American styles. He collaborated on the project with an exciting and eclectic group of all-stars, including Vinnie Colaiuta, Stuart Duncan, Jerry Douglas, Bela Fleck, Bruce Hornsby, John Scofield, Victor Wooten and Mark Egan.

His follow up to that widely acclaimed project, found him pushing the envelope a little further in that direction on The Other Side Of Something. “It’s an extension of Soulgrass,” he says of his latest release. “I am always trying to push the envelope and take the music somewhere it hasn’t been before. I am just beginning to explore all of the possibilities. I have been touring a lot over the last two years, using the banjo and fiddle as my rhythm instruments, so by the time I started writing new music for the new CD, I was over-flowing with ideas. One of the first ideas I had was to sing for the first time on one of my CDs. The saxophone and voice are very similar in range so it seemed like a very natural thing for me to do. It is, of course, another instrument so I have been working very hard at it. People will hear a new side to me that they have never heard before”.

 
The Other Side Of Something features Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, Richard Bona, Victor Wooten, Dennis Chambers, as well as his regular touring band of Chris Howes, Ryan Cavanaugh, and Joel Rosenblatt.

 
Evans first joined Miles Davis group at the age of 22 in 1980, and went on to record six records and tour the world with Davis numerous times over a four-year period. He then toured and recorded three CDs with John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and later played with Herbie Hancock, Lee Ritenour, Dave Grusin, Steps Ahead and Mick Jagger, among others. The saxman has been touring almost exclusively with his own band since 1990, playing well over 100 concerts per year worldwide. He has recorded 15 solo CD’s and received two Grammy nominations, one for Soul Insider(2002) and the other for Soulgrass ( 2006).

Sam Bush

Though he admits a certain discomfort with the moniker "King of Newgrass" Sam Bush has more than earned it. As cofounder and leader of the seminal progressive bluegrass band New Grass Revival through 18 years during the 1970s and '80s, Bush is responsible for influencing legions of bands like Nickel Creek, Yonder Mountain String Band, and String Cheese Incident, to name just a few.

When not heading his own band, Bush has spent the past 15 years as a supersideman with the likes of Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett, and the Flecktones; spearheaded boundary-stretching collaborations with Edgar Meyer, Mark O'Connor, and David Grisman, and driven nearly every "bluegrass supergroup" imaginable with his inimitable mandolin playing.

 
icon) on mandolin . Bill Evans and Sam Bush have teamed up before to produce an invigorating blend of styles that gets the audience up out of their seats. Sam also hosted the Bluegrass awards last year in Nashville and came home with the "best mandolin of the year" award.

Dennis Chambers is a drummer whose propulsive style and versatility have enabled him to play in combos or large groups, and work with fusion and hard bop bandleaders. He has released two sessions as a leader and recorded and played with Parliament and Funkadelic, Special EFX, David Sanborn, John Scofield, Mike Stern/Bob Berg Band, Randy Brecker’s Band and Michael Brecker’s Band, Mike Urbaniak's Band/Bill Evans Band/CTI All Stars/George Duke/Stanley Clark's Band/Steve Kahn's Eyewitness Band/John McLaughlin Band. 2005 till now: Santana - 2007: Tower Of Power.

RICHARD BONA Dubbed “The African Sting, Richard Bona has been recognized as one of the planet’s five revelations of the past decade. A complete artist, an absolute master of his art, and a melodist of rare elegance and sensuality, he’s also a poignant singer, and a member of that exclusive club, "the world’s best bassists. ”His unique style is situated at the crossroads of a horde of influences - jazz, bossa nova, pop music, afro-beat, traditional song, and funk.

RYAN CAVANAUGH Whether playing traditional bluegrass music, or adding a unique twist to a modern fusion quintet with master saxophonist Bill Evans, Ryan Cavanaugh strives to be original and innovative on the banjo. Having shared stages with Jazz legends such as Bill Evans, John McLaughlin, and Bluegrass legends like Sam Bush, Cavanaugh's journey has taken him from the fiddlers' conventions of VA to the Jazz audiences of Europe.


CHRISTIAN HOWES
has already made an indelible mark and is poised to be a path-finding figure on the contemporary violin. He’s won recognition and kudos from artists and critics alike. Says guitar pioneer Les Paul, with whom Christian has made numerous appearances: “There is nobody better than this guy.” The prominent artists Howes has performed and/or recorded with include Greg Osby, Randy Brecker, James Carter, Jack DeJohnette, Akua Dixon’s Quartette Indigo, Billy Hart, D.D. Jackson, David Murray, Steve Turre’s Sextet with Strings, Jane Monheit, Dr. John, Frank Vignola, and Lenny White, to name a few.

IRIDIUM JAZZ CLUB
1650 BROADWAY (Corner of 51st)
NEW YORK, NY 10023
RESERVATIONS: 212-582-2121
http://www.iridiumjazzclub.com/
Sets At 8:30 & 10:30PM

Sam Sparro: Bringing Personality to Dance Music

Sam Sparro- for the Grateful Web

Young Australian-born songwriter/producer, Sam Sparro, is a musical wonder.  Partly he comes by this honestly. He grew up in a musical family that explored a lot of musical styles.  His great-grandfather was a professor of music. His grandfather is a jazz trumpet player, who played with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. His grandmother is an accomplished singer and dancer, and his father, Chris Falson, is a noted gospel singer.  However, when Sparro decided to venture into the musical world himself, he created something totally new and unexpected.

Sparro moved to LA when he was ten because his dad was going to record a gospel album there. Falson introduced his son to some of the best singers in the gospel realm by taking him to a local church that was home to many session singers, like the McCrary Family who had backed up Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and Chaka Khan. When Sparro and his father were visiting the McCrarys, Chaka Khan stopped by and Sparro sang a new gospel song for her that the McCrarys had wanted her to record. Her response, I'm told, was, "Damn, that white boy can sing!"

During stays in Australia, then London, and then back in LA, Sparro worked in the music industry and soon began writing songs. On a return to Australia, he formed a band called Sugar James. But it was when he finally moved back to LA that he found the LA music underground that was very reminiscent to him of the London scene.  His father offered to set up a speakeasy style club and Sparro and Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello became regulars. Here, Sparro was discovered by Jesse  Rogg of Modus Viendi Music.

Sparro and Rogg produced a six-song EP called Black & Gold that is very difficult to find. I got a copy from his publicist and I guarantee it will become a valuable collector's item. It is the precursor to a self-titled, full-length album that is currently only available as a import from the UK.  The 13 songs on the new album have five of the cuts on the EP, but these are fleshed out more. The EP has Sparro and Rogg manning all of the instruments. The full album sports Sparro's vocals along with him playing keytar, guitar, and synths, and doing programming. Rogg plays synths and keys and does programming.  Laura Fares is the drummer, Charlie Willcocks handles another set of keys, and James Stephenson is on bass.

The Black & Gold EP presents a fun mix of dance beats with Sparro's fluid R&B vocals, which are sometimes electronic-altered. This is in keeping with Sparro's intent, which is to add personality in the form of a frontman to electronic music. It is a successful melding.

The title cut "Black & Gold" is ripe for a music video. It is the kind of dance music that is infectious. Though the lyrics were spawned in one of the lowest points in Sparro's life when he wondered if his life would have any direction musically, it offers such a haunting chorus, "I want to be next to you, black and gold."

"Sick" offers more of the throb of dance music, but the smooth vocals and electronic flourishes set the song above most music of that genre. The recurrent chorus, "It's a sick, sick world/But I'll be your medicine."

"Cottonmouth"is a whimsical R&B song about a condition any speaker or singer has experienced. It's a fun addition to the selections.

Then, Sparro moves into what could be a bitter song about a stalker relationship. Instead, in "Cling Wrap," he offers another humorous twist, couching bitting words into witty phrasing. He croons, "You must have thought I was a snack because you're sticking to me like cling wrap." Then, toward the end, he raps, "I'm going to need me a pair of pliers to get you off my back because you crossed your wires." The listener is prepared for something weird because the first sounds off the track sound like someone on helium.

Finally, "Miss Rexi,"the only song on the EP that isn't on the full-length CD, probably is the one song that should have been on that album. It is a song with strong social commentary, telling the story of "Miss Rexi, first name Ana," who really sounds more like she's bulimic than anorexic. Sparro says that Miss Rexi "was so skinny she thought it was sexy" then he sings, "I want to fatten you up/Get you back to a C cup," and "You don't have to be a bean/To be sexy on the scene/You're going to make yourself sick/There's no point in being a stick."

Sparro could reach a lot of young listeners with that song. It is a remarkable song housed in a fine piece of music. But, I was surprised by one reviewer who missed what was obvious in the lyrics, focusing on one line that says, "Ana listen to me/Put that in your mouth and start chewing," thinking the song is racy. If the reviewer listened more closely, he would have known that Sparro was talking about food.

Sam Sparro is experimenting with retro R&B sounds, saucy electronic beats, and a whole new realm of songwriting from someone who sees the world with very fresh eyes. His material is welcome in a techno/hip-hop/R&B world that has tended to grind out the same-ole, same-ole. Sam Sparro keeps it coming and get some of those tunes out here in the States!