miles

Sheryl Crow @ Boulder Roots & Blues Summit

For Sheryl Crow, the title of her seventh album isn?t just a location; it's a state of mind. "I grew up in a small town 100 miles from Memphis, and that informed not only my musical taste, but how I look at life," she says. "The drive to Memphis is all farmland, and everyone is community-oriented, God-fearing people, connected to the earth. The music that came out of that part of the world is a part of who I am, and it's the biggest inspiration for what I do and why I do it."

So for the Kennett, Missouri native, calling the disc 100 Miles From Memphis is a statement of purpose, both musical and emotional. It also marks a long-awaited return by the nine-time Grammy winner to the sounds that first drew her to making music.

The results evoke a time when soul and passion filled the radio waves, when the sweat and joy of a recording session could be captured forever on wax. Sometimes the musical references?Al Green, Sly and the Family Stone, Stevie Wonder?are made apparent, but the album?s eleven songs are characterized more by capturing a classic spirit than by imitating any specific style.

Crow explains that the way 100 Miles From Memphis was recorded is crucial to its slinky grooves and rolling rhythms. Produced by Doyle Bramhall II and Justin Stanley ("I knew they could get that old soul feeling with authenticity," she says), and cut mostly live with a regular crew of musicians, the album presented a new set of challenges for her as a singer and a songwriter.

With the musical direction already established, the album's messages crystallized in one night at Crow's farm, outside of Nashville. "Having a three year old, you don't get too much quiet time," she says, "but I sat up one night, and I worked all night long and came up with the better part of five lyrics."

What emerged was a set of songs that are unusually open and direct for someone often celebrated for the care and craft of her writing. "This music called for emotion, a place of sensuality and sexuality, and that's a little challenging for me," she says. "Sometimes it's easier for me to hide behind more intellectual lyrics. So it was a great stretching experience to show more vulnerability in my writing."

The songs on 100 Miles From Memphis display impressive range, in feeling and performance. First single "Summer Day" is a delightfully breezy slice of glory-days AM radio pop. "I wanted to experiment with writing something simple and positive," says Crow. "The feeling of a great, solid love, not just a new love, but something everlasting."

Crow, of course, first reached the spotlight as a back-up singer with Michael Jackson, and adds that "I Want You Back" was the first single she ever bought. "It wasn't a conscious choice to do an homage, but it wound up being a very bittersweet thing," she says. "Michael's death brought a lot of stuff back for me, so it was nice that we could include this."

For Sheryl Crow, 100 Miles From Memphis is the right album at the right moment. "My last record (2008's Detours) was pretty political, extremely personal, and more lyric-driven," she says, "so it seemed like a great time to do something soulful and sexy and more driven by the music." It took a lot of years, but with this set of songs, she finally made it back home.

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Miles Davis, Albert King & Bill Evans get Definitive discs on Concord

Concord Music Group has assembled three new titles in its ongoing Definitive series, one of which marks the series’ initial foray into CMG’s vast blues catalog. The Definitive Miles Davis on Prestige; The Definitive Bill Evans on Riverside and Fantasy; and The Definitive Albert King on Stax span a total of 60 years and include the music of two monumental figures in jazz and an equally influential figure in the blues. Each of the two-CD collections is set for release on April 5, 2011.

The two dozen tracks of The Definitive Miles Davis on Prestige follow the creative evolution of the most revered trumpeter in the annals of jazz. Spanning the first half of the 1950s, the collection captures Miles at the beginning of his breakthrough to mainstream appeal, according to the liner notes by music journalist and historian Ashley Kahn.

“The purpose of this collection is to deliver a full, definitive overview of that very special period in Miles’s career,” says Kahn. “Its focus covers the nearly six-year period when the trumpeter was signed exclusively to Prestige. Disc 1 offers the best of his 1951 to ’56 sessions primarily as a leader of various ad hoc all-star ensembles. Disc 2 provides a generous sampling of Miles the bandleader, in ’55 and ’56, at the helm of one of the most groundbreaking groups of the day.”

The collection also chronicles Miles’s dramatic artistic growth over a relatively short time, says Nick Phillips, Concord Music Group’s Vice President of Jazz and Catalog A&R and the producer of the collection. “The years between 1951 and 1956 are not a huge amount of time, but the development by Miles — as a musician and as a bandleader — is pretty astonishing in this period,” says Phillips. “This culminates in what ended up being one of the most legendary groups in jazz, the Miles Davis Quintet, featuring John Coltrane.”

The Definitive Bill Evans on Riverside and Fantasy tracks more than two decades of recordings by a highly influential figure in jazz piano. “It would be difficult to think of a major jazz pianist emerging after 1960 who did not take Bill Evans as a model,” says jazz journalist Doug Ramsey, who wrote the liner notes for the 25-song collection that begins in the mid-1950s and ends in 1977. “Indeed, many seasoned pianists who preceded Evans altered their styles after hearing him.”

What’s more, “Evans had a profound effect on how musicians play jazz and how listeners hear it,” says Ramsey. “He is so much a part of the jazz atmosphere that many musicians — regardless of instrument — who came of age in the 21st century are not conscious that his concepts helped form them.”

The collection also gives proper attention on the second disc to Evans’s Fantasy-era recordings of the mid-1970s, says Phillips, who also produced the Evans collection. “Because the Riverside sessions are so acclaimed and so legendary, the Fantasy tracks are often overshadowed,” he says. “But in listening to this collection, you realize that Evans was still creating some amazing recordings throughout the Fantasy period with some high-caliber musicians, like Eddie Gomez, Kenny Burrell, Lee Konitz, Tony Bennett, Ray Brown, and Philly Joe Jones.”

The Definitive Albert King on Stax follows 15 years worth of recordings — from 1961 to 1975, plus a final track from 1984 — by a bluesman who’d spent the early part of his career playing to an African-American fan base in the roadhouses and theaters of the chitlin’ circuit. But by the latter half of the 1960s, the genre “was now attracting the rapt interest of young white listeners, their sensibilities opened wide by the muscular, in-your-face blues rock of the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, and Jimi Hendrix,” says roots music historian Bill Dahl in his liner notes for the collection. “These new converts were gravitating to the best the idiom had to offer. No single blues guitarist made a more stunning impact during that tumultuous timeframe than Albert King.”

“For as paradoxical as it might sound, you could make the case that Albert King was a cheery blues guy,” says Chris Clough, Concord’s manager of catalog development and producer of the Albert King collection. “He had that wry smile, and he often smoked a pipe. He was always well dressed and dapper. He was genuinely interested in putting on a show for his audience, and that sensibility comes through on these tracks.”

Dahl suggests that the years between 1966 and 1975 were a “Golden Decade” for King. “He was with Stax that entire time,” he says, “right up to the Memphis label’s unfortunate demise, cutting one enduring blues classic after another as he scaled the charts over and over again. In the process, King deeply influenced countless up-and-coming blues axemen, even though the ringing licks he coaxed out of his futuristic Gibson Flying V were all but impossible to accurately recreate.”

Teddy Charles Quartet at KItano | NYC

Teddy Charles is considered to be one of the great jazz vibraphonists and composers of all time, playing with such jazz legends as Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis. As a student at Julliard in the mid 40s, he haunted New York's jazz clubs, occasionally sitting in with the bands on vibes or piano. His break came unexpectedly one night when he was asked to sit in on piano with Coleman Hawkin's band for the overdue Thelonious Monk. Soon after, Charles began to appear regularly with the top jazz groups of the day, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Buddy De Franco, playing alongside and writing for such jazz stars as Coltrane, Parker, Max Roach and Miles Davis. Recently appeared with Max Roach, David Amram, Lee Konitz. In the early 1950s he began leading his own groups, composing, producing and recording original works such as No More Nights, Blues Become Elektra and Word from Bird.

TEDDY CHARLES QUARTET

FRI. & SAT. APRIL 23 & 24 SETS 8:00 PM & 10:00 PM

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Kuan announce March tour dates

If you watch the audience at a Kuan gig, something unusual happens to the socially diverse crowd that tends to make up their fan base. The punk rockers, prog rockers, hipsters, b-boys and metalheads all react in about the sameway: they start by nodding their heads. Then they sway a little. Then, they do whatever the word 'dance' means to each of them. They smile.

When one thinks of post-rock, post-punk, or avant-garde jazz, a word that does not often come to mind is joy. But that is Kuan's music. It's their joy, but it never fails to infect the audience. Brett Nagafuchi loses himself in his exultant, wicked drumming. Chip Heck collapses to the stage floor, shit-eating grin on his face as he alternates between shredding and coaxing strange ambient squeals from his pedals. Bryan Wright's bass undergirds and warms the thunder, stepping with a lightness his bobbing, peaceful frame belies. Paul Larkowski's lead guitar guides the ensemble with the gentleness and power of the best soloists in rock or jazz, tying what threatens at any one moment to explode into a beautiful mess together into a tight groove, the very thing you wanted to hear, but didn't know until you heard it.

Kuan is a Buddhist term. It translates as "wordless contemplation." But it is clear that lyricless as they are, Kuan's songs speak to their audiences. There is an urban legend that says when John Coltrane would perform one of his trademark hour-long solos while with the Miles Davis Quintet, someone once asked Miles "Why'd you let him play so long?" Miles's reply: "He wasn't finished saying what he had to say."

All veterans of Dayton's post-rock, punk and jazz scenes, Kuan formed originally as a three-piece, adding Wright in 2008. The quartet's post-rock, punk and jazz-influenced heavy groove has been compared by critics to Tortoise, June of 44, Do Make Say Think, and Fugazi. The Dayton-based band claims all of these, as well as Miles Davis, John and Alice Coltrane and Aphex Twin as influences. They attract fans from across the genres. Now gearing up for a second tour, they're preparing a vegetable-oil-powered van to reduce the high carbon footprint of touring.

Kuan Tour Dates
Mar 5 - Southgate House-Parlour - Newport, KY
Mar 6 - Rock Room - Pittsburgh, PA
Mar 8 - Chanti Loft - Ithaca, NY
Mar 9 - Trash Bar - Brooklyn, NY
Mar 10 - O'Brien's - Boston, MA
Mar 11 - The Khyber - Philadelphia, PA
Mar 12 - The Velvet Lounge - Washington, DC
Mar 19 - Baba Budans - Cincinnati, OH
Mar 26 - Chip's Basement - Dayton, OH
Apr 10 - Blind Bob's - Dayton, OHApr 23 - Reggie's - Chicago, IL

Dylan, Cash, Miles + More at Morrison Hotel's 30th St. Exhibit

Miles Davis - photos by Don Hunstein- for the Grateful Web

On July 18 the Morrison Hotel Gallery's Soho loft (116 Prince Street, NYC) will offer the first fine art photography exhibit drawn from the extensive Sony BMG archive. "In Session at the Columbia Records 30th Street Studio" will feature candid, in-the-studio photographs taken mostly by Columbia Records' in-house photographer Don Hunstein, at its legendary 30th Street Studio in New York City. The exhibit will feature over 30 limited edition fine art silver gelatin prints - many of them never-before-seen - of singular figures such as Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Billie Holiday, Tony Bennett, Miles Davis, Muhammad Ali, and Charles Mingus among others. Prior to the exhibit's public opening, the Morrison Hotel Gallery will host invitation-only previews of "In Session" on July 17.

In 1949, an abandoned Armenian Greek Orthodox church at 207 East 30th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue in Manhattan, was transformed into one of the world's greatest recording studios, where some of the most dynamic and enduring records were created. From Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" to Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story," from Miles Davis's "Kind Of Blue" to Glenn Gould's interpretations of Bach's "Goldberg Variations," the 30th Street Studio provided a distinctive ambience, featuring a kaleidoscope of sublime sonic qualities unparalleled in the recording industry.

Though the building itself was demolished, "In Session" frames the momentous occasions that occurred within the 30th Street Studio walls and allows fans to hold on to them forever.

Each print to be featured in this exhibit was meticulously hand selected by the Morrison Hotel Gallery and Sony BMG's ICON Collectibles (www.Icon-Collectibles.com), and represents a piece of musical history. Prints by Don Huntstein are numbered and signed by the photographer, who still lives in New York, and plans to attend the 'In Session' preview events. Prints will also be available for sale at morrisonhotelgallery.com.

About The Morrison Hotel Gallery
Founded in 2001 by former record company executive and producer Peter Blachley, former independent record store owner Rich Horowitz and music photographer Henry Diltz, The Morrison Hotel Gallery has grown to become the major brand in fine art music photography. With already thriving locations in Soho in NYC, La Jolla California, and Los Angeles, MHG opened their largest location to date in March 2008, at 313 Bowery Street in NYC, former home to the legendary CBGB Gallery.

About ICON Collectibles
ICON Collectibles is a business specializing in selling unique Fine Art Prints, Music Plaques, Cover Art and one-of-a-kind memorabilia featuring a diversified collection of some of the world's greatest recording artists including: Bob Dylan, Tony Bennett, Miles Davis, Johnny Cash, Ella Fitzgerald and Muhammad Ali. All offerings are showcased and sold on Icon-Collectibles.com. Powered by SONY BMG Music Entertainment, ICON Collectibles is headquartered in New York City.