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Bassist Marcos Varela Bridges Generations On Remarkable Debut CD

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Bassist Marcos Varela Bridges Generations On Remarkable Debut CD

Bassist Marcos Varela Bridges Generations On Remarkable Debut CD

San Ygnacio, out March 18 on Origin, features veterans George Cables, Billy Hart and Clifton Anderson alongside exceptional younger players on a diverse set

New York City is a long way from tiny San Ygnacio, Texas – not only measured in miles (around 2,000, for the record) but also in temperament. Born and raised in Houston, bassist Marcos Varela nonetheless traces his roots back to the historic Texas town where his family has lived on the same ranch since at least the 1750s. Based in New York for the last 12 years, Varela takes stock of how far he’s come on his leader debut, San Ygnacio, due to be released March 18 on Origin Records.

Drawing on collaborators from throughout his time in New York, Varela assembles a stand-out cast of veterans and peers. The album’s core rhythm section is composed of two jazz giants: pianist George Cables, a key mentor, and drummer Billy Hart, one of Varela’s earliest employers. They’re joined by another longtime employer, trombonist Clifton Anderson, as well as two of Varela’s most gifted contemporaries, saxophonists Dayna Stephens and Logan Richardson. On two tracks, Varela features his one-time collective quartet with up-and-coming players Arnold Lee (alto, son of bassist/composer Bill Lee and half-brother of director Spike Lee), Eden Ladin (piano) and Kush Abadey (drums).

Varela is a graduate of Houston’s renowned High School for the Performing & Visual Arts, where his fellow alumni include Jason Moran, Robert Glasper, Eric Harland, Chris Dave, and Beyoncé. He arrived in NYC to continue his studies at the New School, leading to opportunities to perform with a wide range of artists including Cables, Hart, Anderson, Moran, Geri Allen, The Last Poets, the Mingus Big Band, Kendrick Scott, Billy Harper and Tyshawn Sorey, among countless others. He has also composed music for several film and TV projects, including director Domenica Cameron-Scorsese’s film “Roots in Water.”

“This record is a culmination of my New York experience,” Varela says of San Ygnacio. “It features some of my favorite people to play with and recalls some of the positive experiences I’ve had during my New York days.”

Legendary bassist Ron Carter contributed the album’s liner notes, where he writes that Varela’s “tone, choice of notes and compositions will place his playing and name on the list of bassists to be heard.” A hero turned mentor, Carter is just one of the jazz elders who have taken note of Varela’s talents and encouraged the bassist along his path. While still in college, he was invited to join longtime Dizzy Gillespie drummer Charlie Persip’s big band. Around the same time, Hart included Varela in a sextet of young players that also featured rising stars Theo Croker, Sullivan Fortner, and Irwin Hall.

“Billy encouraged us to challenge him and keep him young, and then he wanted to impart his experience and knowledge onto us as well,” Varela says. “It was a great learning experience.”

Three of the tracks on San Ygnacio come from the repertoire of Hart’s sextet: “Pepper” and “Picturesque” are both George Mraz compositions, while “Lullaby for Imke” is a gentle ballad that the drummer recorded on a 2006 quartet release, presented here in a new arrangement by pianist Ezra Weiss. “Picturesque” is the album’s sole trio piece, with Varela and Cables doubling up on the angular melody, while the brisk “Pepper” is highlighted by the pairing of Dayna Stephens’ tenor and Varela’s arco playing.

The album opens with its only standard, Cables’ bold arrangement of “I Should Care.” Varela says, “Especially on a debut record, the jazz community wants to hear you play over a standard and know that you have that ability. If you can’t play a standard, it negates your jazz legitimacy. Besides, I’ve spent a lot of time playing that music, I loved George’s arrangement, and I wanted something that everyone could get together and be creative on immediately.”

Varela’s “Colinas de Santa Maria” is named for his family’s ranch in San Ygnacio, which has been in his family’s possession since at least a mid-18th century Spanish land grant. While he grew up in Houston, Varela spent plenty of time visiting family at the ranch and enjoying the town’s unchanged Spanish architecture. He evokes a sense of nostalgia for that time and landscape, while saxophonist Arnold Lee contributes a vivid, wistful solo. The same quartet, whose members Varela continues to play with in other contexts, returns on Eden Ladin’s simmering “Red on Planet Pluto.”

The leader takes the spotlight on “Mitsuru,” a bass feature composed by Anderson, who often used the tune to feature Varela in the trombonist’s own band. Anderson also contributes and plays on the mid-tempo swinger “Sister Gemini.” Cables, who Varela met through the auspices of Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center, wrote the intoxicating waltz “Looking For the Light,” which Varela calls “one of my favorite George pieces – it really encourages you to play lyrically.”

The album concludes with Varela’s “Where the Wild Things Are,” a modern burner named for his favorite childhood book. Following a darkly atmospheric introduction, the piece erupts into a bristling melody, finally leading into a raucous solo showcase for Billy Hart. The tune is the prime example of Varela’s approach to bridging the generations represented in his band. “I wanted to take the veterans out of their comfort zone,” he explains. “I wanted to flip the script a little bit and try something different, have them be adventurous and play some songs they wouldn’t normally be heard playing. I wanted to push people in different directions to create a new sound.”

An intriguing mix of personalities and influences, generations and sounds, San Ygnacio traces Marcos Varela’s journey from Houston to New York, a trek rich with experiences and opportunities. It’s a striking debut that points the way toward even more music – and miles – to come.

www.marcosvarelamusic.com

 

Bass CDs

New Album: Orlando le Fleming, Wandering Talk

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New Album: Orlando le Fleming, Wandering Talk

Bassist, band leader, and composer Orlando le Fleming continues to make music that crosses genres as readily as he crosses the Atlantic, with this new album ‘Wandering Talk’, to be released physically on 23rd August via the UK’s premiere jazz label, Whirlwind Recordings.

After 20 years in New York City, he’s back in his native UK, forging new pathways and renewing old partnerships. His love for the acoustic tradition continues unabated alongside his deep affection for the robust, muscular electric fusion that emerged in the 1980s, and he has received critical acclaim from media including The Guardian, Financial Times, Jazzwise, and All About Jazz among others. He has also toured and recorded with some of the world’s greatest jazz musicians including Branford Marsalis, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Antonio Sanchez, Ari Hoenig, and Wayne Krantz.

The Romantic Funk project was born in New York’s legendary 55 Bar to explore that legacy: now the new album ‘Wandering Talk’ builds on the critical acclaim generated by ‘The Unfamiliar’ (2020), building on the framework with a set of collaborators that brings together London and New York, past and present, acoustic, and electric, and merges it all into a spectacular whole.

Following the same principles that served the project in NYC, le Fleming booked four Friday nights at London’s renowned Vortex Club to workshop the music that would become the album, with a rotating cast of players which he honed down into the final line-up. Old London friends Tom Cawley (piano/keys) and James Maddren (drums) completed the rhythm section. New acquaintance Nathaniel Facey was picked from the ranks of the UK’s brightest young saxophone players. NYC stalwart Philip Dizack flew in from the US to play trumpet and reaching back to Orlando’s school days and forward to his own family, one-time classmate Chris Martin (Coldplay) and his own daughter Nadia combined to provide vocals on a special setting of Rumi’s poetry.

As before, the music combines fusion’s flash and fire with a contemporary sensibility. This time, Orlando’s questing spirit sends his superb band forward to investigate fresh areas of creativity in dynamic and texture.

Visit online at orlandolefleming.com

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Album: John Entwistle, Rarities Oxhumed – Volume Two

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Album- John Entwistle, Rarities Oxhumed - Volume Two

Album: John Entwistle, Rarities Oxhumed – Volume Two

Rarities Oxhumed – Volume Two is the second of the series of posthumous releases coming from John Entwistle.

Rarities Oxhumed – Volume Two is a compilation that was curated by drummer Steve Luongo, who served as John Entwistle’s producer, bandmate, business partner and good friend for many years. As Luongo states, “When I agreed to do two volumes of John Entwistle rarities, I knew volume two had to be even better than volume one. It is!” The collection of songs on Volume Two are from his years with the John Entwistle Band and include re-mastered versions of studio tracks including “Endless Vacation”, alternate mixes of tracks like “Sometimes”, and live tracks including The Who cuts “Real Me”, “Long Live Rock” and an epic version of “Young Man Blues”. The latest preview track to be released is the Who cut “Had Enough.”

Listen to “Had Enough” here: push.fm/ps/hadenough

Rarities Oxhumed – Volume One was quickly embraced by longtime fans as it featured gems like “Bogey Man” featuring Keith Moon, “Where You Going Now” (demo for the Who), and a raw live version of “Trick of the Light” recorded during the John Entwistle Band’s final tour in 2001. Deko Entertainment is thrilled to have been able to bring both volumes of this unearthed music of John Entwistle to the fans and forever solidify him as one of the greatest rock musicians ever.

For more information, visit online at dekoentertainment.com/john-entwistle

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Album Review: Mark Egan, Cross Currents

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Album Review: Mark Egan, Cross Currents

Mark Egan, Cross Currents…

It is exciting every time I get a new album from Mark Egan as he is such an amazingly versatile player and I never know what to expect (except for excellent artistry!) In his latest release, Mark has teamed up with Shawn Peyton on drums and Shane Theriot on guitar to bring us “Cross Currents”.

This collection of eleven tracks transports me to the Gulf Coast (New Orleans specifically). Mark’s fretless basses lay down a solid groove and lots of juicy solo work for this rootsy collection of funk, ambient, swamp-rock, second line, ballads, Cajun and even Indian Raga.

This trio is super-tight and the musicianship is flawless as each member has ample opportunity to shine. Even though each player is very talented in their own right, I feel that the collective energy is greater than just the sum of the players on this album. Each musician contributed to composing music for this project but the lion’s share are Mark’s original pieces.

I spent the summer of 1981 in New Orleans and this wonderful music takes me back to those fond memories. I participated in a wacky raft race on Lake Ponchatrain and this opening track elicits images of fun, sunshine, music, and great food.

This is another superb album that everyone will enjoy. Get your copy today! Cross Currents is available online at Amazon.com. Visit Mark online at markegan.com.

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New Project: NEMESIS CALL Announce “Kingdom of Shred” Album

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New Project: NEMESIS CALL Announce "Kingdom of Shred" Album

ALBERTO RIGONI’s New Project NEMESIS CALL Announce “Kingdom of Shred” Album, Feat. Super Talented Guests Such as Mike Terrana, Alexandra Zerner + Many Others

Worldwide known Italian bassist and composer ALBERTO RIGONI (soloist, BAD As, Kim Bingham, Vivaldi Metal Project, etc.) announces the new album “Kingdom of Shred” of his new project NEMESIS CALL. 

Alberto says: 
“Even if my latest album “Unexpected Lullabies”, dedicated to my newborn Vittoria Parini Rigoni, was released on June 4th 2024, I felt the need to compose new music (yes, I really can’t stop!). This time will be quite challenging because I’m willing to release an instrumental shred/prog/rock/metal/melodic album, that will feature many talented top-notch musicians such as drummer Mike Terrana, Alexandra Zerner, Alexandra Lioness, Aanika Pai (11 years old!), Keiji by Zero (19 years old!), SAKI and many others TBA/TBC). It won’t be easy to manage all such great musicians but I will make it! Are you ready to face a new prog experience? The album will be released in Digipack CD and in high-quality digital format approximately at the beginning of 2025 or maybe for Christmas!.”

As an independent artist, Alberto Rigoni has launched a fundraising campaign to support the project. Support at www.albertorigoni.net/nemesiscall. 20% of the income will be donated to Lega del Filo d’Oro (www.legadelfilodoro.it/it), an Italian association that helps deaf and blind children!

Visit online at www.albertorigoni.net | albertorigoni.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/albertorigonimusic | www.badas.rocks

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New Album: Los Lonely Boys first new album in 11 years, Resurrection

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New Album: Los Lonely Boys first new album in 11 years, Resurrection

Today, Los Lonely Boys announce the release of their first new album in 11 years.

Out August 2nd via BMG, Resurrection marks a return to form for the GRAMMY-winning, multi-platinum trio of Texican brothers, who have performed everywhere from the GRAMMYs telecast to the World Series to recent tours with The Who. Lead single “Wish You Would” conjures the group’s classic sound, combining breezy guitar leads with hard-earned doses of wisdom.

“It’s something we think people need to hear—especially the youth,” says bassist/vocalist Jojo Garza, speaking on “Wish You Would” and Resurrection. “When we’re young, we think we have it figured out. When you get older, you start to see things differently. Having kids of our own, we see their ambitions and ideas of what they want to be, so we want to be good parents. The message is, ‘Be careful what you wish for. There could be a false light, and we don’t want you to get hurt’.”

After an extended break from recording, Los Lonely Boys are making a triumphant return with Resurrection. Rejuvenated and more cosmically attuned than ever before, the album rekindles the sonic fire that bonds the Los Lonely Boys brotherhood, while also paying respects to Texas legends like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Freddy Fender, among others. The album was recorded at guitarist/vocalist Henry Garza’s home studio in St. Angelo, TX, and El Paso’s Sonic Ranch (Fiona Apple, Bon Iver, Snarky Puppy etc), and mixed live in Chicago by Chris Gelin at Opus Audio Labs. 

This year Los Lonely Boys will also celebrate the 20th Anniversary of their self-titled debut, which reached double-platinum status and yielded the gold-certified, generational smash “Heaven,” which earned them a GRAMMY Award for Best Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and performance on the awards telecast. The brothers’ follow-up Sacred bowed at #2 on the Billboard 200, paving the way for fan favorites ForgivenRockpango, and Revelation. Along the way, Los Lonely Boys collaborated with legends such as Santana, Willie Nelson, and Dr. John. 

Even as they’ve been away from the studio, Los Lonely Boys have continued to tour tirelessly for decades, and this year they’ve hit the road again for an extensive, months-long run across the US. They will also perform on select shows alongside long time friends Los Lobos. Find tickets here. Pre-order Resurrection

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