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The Joe Policastro Trio Releases “POPS!”



The Joe Policastro Trio Releases POPS

The Joe Policastro Trio Releases “POPS!”…

POPS!, the new release by bassist Joe Policastro and his trio, celebrates the intersection of time and place. The place is Pops For Champagne, one of Chicago’s top night clubs and where the trio performs three nights a week, and the time is the “pop” music of artists from the 1960s–90s, such as Prince, Tom Waits, The Pixies, Neil Young, and others.

Chicago is a city with a deep musical history. It‘s been a breeding ground for blues, straight-ahead jazz, experimental, improvised, and post­rock music. Policastro and his trio incorporate all of these elements, creating a jazz sound that is truly their own.

The trio is made up of Joe Policastro on bass, Dave Miller on guitar, and Mikel Avery on drums, musicians who are well known on Chicago’s diverse music scene and are leaders in their own right. The CD also features two guest artists, Andy Brown and Andy Pratt, two guitarists who often perform with the trio. Each of these musicians has his own strong, unique voice, making this project a genuine collaboration that is the culmination of the many hours of performing together week after week.

According to Policastro, “When I got the job at Pops for Champagne, I saw it as a great opportunity to experiment with incorporating different musical styles, including rock, funk, soul, and Brazilian music within a jazz trio framework. I was lucky to find a steady gig where I could compose, arrange, and develop new ideas, and I was even luckier to find musical partners who shared my vision.”

The different approach this band takes is apparent right from the opening number, “Wives and Lovers,” written in 1963 by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Policastro thought it was a good idea to open the CD with this tune because he feels that Bacharach is a figure who represents the transition from the era of the Great American Songbook to the modern pop era. Although it’s been recorded numerous times, the trio re-imagines the tune with a funky 6/4 meter giving it an updated and very contemporary feel that is difficult to classify.

Policastro quips that the CD is almost “an accidental tribute album” because it includes tunes by Prince and Billy Paul, both of whom died after the CD was recorded. Policastro says, “Prince has been part of our repertoire for a long time. I adore him. We had two separate arrangements for “Condition of the Heart” and “Diamonds and Pearls,” but one of the great things about playing together regularly is seeing how the music grows and changes. The two tunes eventually morphed into a medley with open spaces for improvisation.” The voices of the trio are individually and collectively on display here as the tunes move between blues, Americana, minimalism, and even free jazz.

On Stevie Wonder’s “Creepin’” the band plays a highly charged funk jam with strong arco work by Policastro and featuring Miller’s singular guitar sound and Mikel Avery’s unique drumming and auxiliary percussion.

Guest artist Andy Brown’s reputation extends far beyond the Chicago area, playing in jazz festivals around the world. He is an old friend of Policastro and joins the trio on two tunes, Billy Paul’s “Me And Mrs. Jones” and The Bee Gees’ “More Than A Woman.” Policastro says, “A lot people don’t like to admit they like the Bee Gees’ music. It’s a guilty pleasure for some.” The trio plays several of their tunes live and decided to record this one because they have so much fun with it. On this project, they take the disco standard and turn it into an up-tempo samba with Brown taking the lead and leaving plenty of room for drummer Avery to display his unorthodox percussion work.

Andy Pratt is a Chicago native who has played with the trio off and on for years. He appears on the Pixie’s “Wave Of Mutilation” and “Drive” by the Cars. “Drive” was an international hit in 1984-85. Policastro says in the liner notes, “…what better way to end an album dedicated to a champagne bar than with a song that asks, ‘Who’s gonna drive you home tonight?’”

Whether playing Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” or Tom Wait’s “Take It With Me,” the secret ingredient that holds it all together is the singular jazz sound that can only develop between musical compadres who have worked together as long and intimately as the Joe Policastro Trio and friends.

About the Joe Policastro Trio
Joe Policastro is a Chicago bassist, composer, arranger, and educator. He was raised in the fertile jazz, classical, and popular music scene of Cincinnati, OH and moved to Chicago in early 2003. He has performed and recorded with jazz luminaries such as Diane Schuur, Jeff Hamilton, Howard Levy, Phil Woods, Tim Ries, Ira Sullivan, Howard Alden, Rick Margitza, Jim Snidero, David “Fathead” Newman, and Billy Hart. Policastro also leads and co-¬leads three Gerry Mulligan¬esque ensembles: Jeru, the Mulligan Mosaics Big Band, and the Mulligan Mulligan Mosaics Nonet for which he has extensively written and arranged. As composer/arranger, his work can be heard on recordings by numerous artists including Ira Sullivan and the Rob Parton Big Band.

Guitarist Dave Miller’s notable associations include Patricia Barber, Ted Sirota, and Brazilian composer Clarice Assad.

Drummer Mikel Avery is an interdisciplinary artist whose associations include the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, Rob Mazurek, and international artist Theaster Gates.

POPS! is available on Amazon, iTunes, and a host of digital media outlets.

Visit online at

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New Album: EZRA’s Self-titled Debut Album



New Album: EZRA's Self-titled Debut Album

EZRA released their self-titled debut album with Adhyâropa Records…

Founded by award-winning composer and multi-instrumentalist Jesse Jones, EZRA is a collective of classical, jazz, rock, and bluegrass musicians focused on the creation of genre-crossing and style-inclusive new music. The ensemble consists of world-renowned mandolinist Jacob Jolliff, banjo virtuoso Max Allard, and bassist extraordinaire Craig Butterfield, with Jones on guitar- and keyboard-related instruments.

EZRA’s debut album EZRA includes nine works by Jones, and was recorded while Jones was on a one year sabbatical from his composition professorship at Oberlin Conservatory. Jones, who is also a luthier, used much of his sabbatical to build some of the instruments he plays on the album. He then invited longtime collaborator Butterfield, together with Jolliff and Allard, for an intense week of rehearsals and recording in Oberlin. It was the first time all four musicians had been in the same room, much less played together, but things fell into place from the first notes.

This speaks to the musicianship and camaraderie of all involved, but it is also due to the fact that Jones had been collecting these pieces for years, waiting for the right moment, and the right musicians. Jones says, “I sat alone in my living room for at least a decade playing through the dozens of compositions I had in my head. When I met Craig, who shared a lot of similar classical, roots, and folk interests, I decided to stretch myself and see if I could hang (musically) with a world-class musician like him. We hit it off, and from 2013 through 2019 we co-wrote and recorded three albums as a duo. I grew immeasurably as a musician as a result.”

Jones continues, “When the pandemic closed everything down, I found myself back in my living room, writing tune after tune alone with my instruments. In 2021, I fortuitously reconnected with an old friend, the phenomenal mandolinist Jacob Jolliff, and around the same time became acquainted with banjo wunderkind Max Allard. I jumped on the chance to get these guys together and record nine of the tunes I had lying around. The result was beyond what I could have imagined and was heaps of fun to rehearse and record.”

“Fabulous playing! So great to hear the next generation of string wizards dive in and continue the tradition forward.” — Mike Marshall

Jones began building instruments in 2020, studying with Alan Chapman of Chapman/Fisher Guitars. In the last year and a half, Jones has built a variety of instruments, including a quarter-tone Irish bouzouki, a 13-tone small instrument, a Pardessus, several steel string guitars, four classical guitars, two ukuleles, three mandolins (two of them experimental, single string designs), and a mandola.

On the track “Jarrah,” Jones plays the banjo-tuned guitar he built using jarrah wood, a deep red wood he particularly enjoys working with: “I have just a small block of it and used it for the rosette/headstock — when I got the instrument up and running, a tune fell from it into my hands, and I named it “Jarrah” after the wood.”

Jones explains that a lot of his compositions come about that way: “I play a lot of different instruments, and when I go down the rabbit hole on one of them (say the banjo in double C tuning), I tend to fall into several new tunes, almost by accident — Banjaleena, Dix-Neuf (at least the 4/4 melody part), Smoke in the Valley, and Garden Gate all came as I was searching and discovering new shapes and sounds on the banjo (the parts Max plays). “Cowboy Walks” just emerged from the first classical guitar I made.”

Though Jones wrote all nine compositions for the debut album, EZRA’s focus is centered around collaboration. Working up the arrangements together was part of the process (and the fun). Recorded and engineered by Paul Eachus at First Church in downtown Oberlin and mastered by Dave Sinko (Punch Brothers, Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer), EZRA’s debut album captures lightning in a bottle.

EZRA is available on all services. For more information, visit online at

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Bass CDs

New Album: Alberto Rigoni, Unexpected Lullabies



New Album: Alberto Rigoni, Unexpected Lullabies

Alberto Rigoni, Unexpected Lullabies…

In an exhilarating revelation, the musical genius Alberto Rigoni has announced his latest masterpiece, “Unexpected Lullabies”, set to hit the airwaves on June 4th, 2024.

This album isn’t just any release; it’s a bold exploration of sound, merging the soothing essence of lullabies with the raw energy of rock-metal to create a musical hybrid that’s absolutely groundbreaking. Rigoni’s latest venture is a heartfelt ode to the circle of life, dedicated to newborns everywhere, symbolizing hope and the beautiful continuity of life with the poignant message: “There are no just tragedies in this world, life is going on!”

*A Stellar Lineup of Musical Legends*

What makes ‘Unexpected Lullabies’ even more exciting is the assembly of musical titans. The album features the legendary bassist Michael Manring, the keyboard wizardry of Alessandro Bertoni (of the Graham Bonnet Band) and Vitalij Kuprij (known for Artension and Trans-Siberian Orchestra), and many more yet-to-be-revealed guest artists.

Unexpected Lullabies is now available on pre-order from Shop Sliptrick at

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FOREIGNER Announces Red Vinyl Farewell Album



FOREIGNER Announces Red Vinyl Farewell Album

FOREIGNER Announces Red Vinyl Farewell Album for Valentine’s Day…

Who needs candy or flowers, when you can give the gift of music to your better half with a red-hot limited-edition vinyl from FOREIGNER.  The band continues its epic two-year farewell tour with Las Vegas residences at The Venetian Hotel, a run of Canadian shows, and this summer, co-headlining the “Renegades & Juke Box Heroes” tour with Styx and special guest John Waite. Now, FOREIGNER announces FAREWELL – The Very Best Of Foreigner (HOT BLOODED EDITION), a very special limited-edition album, available exclusively at tour stops and online in time for Valentine’s Day at

A must-have collector’s album, this limited-edition striking red vinyl features FOREIGNER’s greatest hits produced by Mick Jones with Jeff Pilson. Tracks include FOREIGNER’s most beloved hits including “Hot Blooded,” “Cold As Ice,” “Urgent,” “Double Vision,” and the worldwide #1 hit, “I Want To Know What Love Is,” among many more. Only 5,000 individually numbered albums are available, and with many tour dates already selling out, these albums are sure to go quickly!  2024 Foreigner shows commence on March 1st.  Please go to for full information.

The “Renegades & Juke Box Heroes” tour is set to launch June 11, 2024 in Grand Rapids, MI at the Van Andel Arena. Nothing sounds more like summer than collective feel-good anthems such as “Come Sail Away,” “Feels Like The First Time,” “Renegade,” “Juke Box Hero,” “Mr. Roboto,” and “Double Vision” plus John Waite’s #1 songs, “Missing You” and “When I See You Smile.” Tickets are going fast, available at

Mick Jones continues to elevate FOREIGNER’s influence and guide the band to new horizons with his stylistic songwriting, indelible guitar hooks and multi-layered talents. Lead singer Kelly Hansen, one of rock’s greatest showmen, has led FOREIGNER into the digital age, inspiring a whole new generation of fans. Bassist Jeff Pilson; Michael Bluestein on keyboards; guitarist Bruce Watson; Chris Frazier on drums, and guitarist Luis Maldonado provide an unprecedented level of energy that has resulted in the re-emergence of the astounding music that speaks to FOREIGNER‘s enduring popularity.

With more Billboard Top 10 hits than Journey, and just as many as Fleetwood Mac, FOREIGNER is universally hailed as one of the most popular rock acts in the world with a formidable musical arsenal that continues to propel sold-out tours and album sales, now exceeding 80 million. Responsible for some of rock and roll’s most enduring anthems, including “Juke Box Hero,” “Cold As Ice,” “Hot Blooded,” “Waiting For A Girl Like You,” “Feels Like The First Time,” “Urgent,” “Head Games,” “Say You Will,” “Dirty White Boy,” “Long, Long Way From Home” and the worldwide #1 hit, “I Want To Know What Love Is,” FOREIGNER still rocks the charts more than 40 years into the game with massive airplay and continued Billboard Top 200 album success.  Streams of FOREIGNER’s hits are approaching 15 million per week.

Side A:
1. Feels Like The First Time / 2. Cold As Ice / 3. Long, Long Way From Home / 4. Hot Blooded / 5. Double Vision / 6. Head Games
Side B:
1. Dirty White Boy / 2. Urgent / 3. Waiting For A Girl Like You / 4. Juke Box Hero / 5. I Want To Know What Love Is

To purchase FAREWELL – The Very Best Of Foreigner (HOT BLOODED EDITION), please visit

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New Album: Ross Valory Debut Solo Album, All Of The Above + First Single



New Album: Ross Valory Debut Solo Album, All Of The Above + First Single

Ross Valory, All Of The Above + First Single…

ROSS VALORY, regarded as one of rock’s best bass guitarists and an original member of the multi-platinum band Journey until his 2020 departure, returns today (January 17) with the video for “Tomland.” It’s the hypnotic first single from the bassist and songwriter’s debut solo album ALL OF THE ABOVE due out this April (exact date TBA) on OID Music. Watch the movingly atmospheric video, directed by Michael CottenHERE for the single which is out this Friday (January 19).

Penned by VALORY, the all-instrumental “Tomland” marks the second piece recorded for the project—and the first done entirely at his new studio in the East Bay area of Northern California. The track builds to a ripping, climactic solo by red-hot guitarist Miles Schon, drummer Prairie Prince and keyboardist Eric Levy. VALORY had the basic parts kicking around since shortly after leaving the Steve Miller Band in 1972, a bluesy set of chords that roll into each other mellifluously, something he had jammed on a lot over the years. He pulled it out to fashion a piece that not only recalls the passing of collaboratorTom Size (accomplished engineer known for his work with Mr. Big, Y&T, and Aerosmith), but also offers an affirmation of resolve to move forward, the sunlight of optimism illuminating the process.  

ROSS VALORY always had pieces of music tucked away that he had written, although songwriting contributions to Journey slipped away after the first three “experimental” albums. As a member of Journey, VALORY concentrated on shaping the rhythm section and contributing his baritone vocals to the background blend.

During the band’s second coming following the 1995 reunion album Trial By Fire, VALORY began sorting through his files and polishing up some of his old notes. In between tour dates, he pulled together a tight-knit group of collaborators and slowly began to finish what he started. After a lifetime in music, VALORY scrupulously etched ALL OF THE ABOVE. The album was produced by VALORY and co-produced by Jacob Stowe and Eric Levy.

VALORY developed a repertory company of musicians over the years that came together at his studio. He cultivated individual numbers like sprawling projects, experimenting with different arrangements played by an assortment of musicians. Sometimes spending years jamming on these ideas, the pieces took shape slowly. Different ideas were tried and discarded, remodeled and refurbished. The basic concept was to find the heart of the material and expand upon it until VALORY could refine and shape the music’s path to his supreme satisfaction. He cast specific musicians to specific parts. The studio became his laboratory and the compositions his experiments.

From the Latin-fired intensity of “Wild Kingdom” to the ethereal dirge of “No One Wins a War,” the raucous party on “Low Rider” or the brilliant reprise ofSantana’s “Incident of Neshabur,” the album presents an evolved artist fully in command of his vision, a lifetime of experience behind the project, augmenting his core associates with guest musicians such as Gregg Errico ofSly & the Family Stone, drummer Steve Smith, and saxophonist Marc Russo. The nine tracks on the album represent the full maturity of VALORY’s musical gifts, cutting a broad swath through the instrumental territory the music travels. He plays keyboards, guitar, and, of course, many basses in a display of cultivated virtuosity across a palette far broader than could be found in his work with Journey. He is stepping out from behind his bass and, for the first time in his more than half-century as a professional musician, representing his vision and his compositions.

VALORY left Journey in 2020 and the band members worked out their issues in a peaceful mediated settlement. VALORY, who spent most of his life as a member of Journey, has no regrets. He counts his blessings at having spent an amazing career with a remarkable group of musicians who succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

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New Album: Mark Egan, Cross Currents



New Album: Mark Egan, Cross Currents

Bassist Mark Egan to release “Cross Currents” with Shawn Pelton and Shane Theriot – Release Date: March 7th, 2024…

After five decades of touring and recording as an in-demand sideman and leader in his own right, acclaimed bassist Mark Egan has finally released an album that encapsulates his myriad of musical influences in one all-encompassing package. “In many ways this is a new production sound for me,” said the bassist who studied privately with Jaco Pastorius during the mid ‘70s while attending the University of Florida before becoming a charter member of The Pat Metheny Group. “My early influences are from playing r&b, soul and rock before becoming indoctrinated into jazz in the Miami years.

This trio record explores those rootsy R&B funk-rock grooves coupled with my jazz and world sensibilities and utilizes the various fretted and fretless basses that I’ve worked with over the years. It’s a culmination of the many worlds of my experiences and is the reason that it’s titled Cross Currents.”

Completing this potent trio with Egan are drummer Shawn Pelton (a 30-year veteran of the Saturday Night Live band and first-call New York City studio player who has recorded with everyone from Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart and Bruce Springsteen to Elton John, Billy Joel, Van Morrison, Sheryl Crow, David Byrne, Pink and Luciano Pavarotti) and Louisiana-born guitarist Shane Theriot (musical director for Hall & Oates who has also recorded and/or performed with The Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Boz Scaggs, Allen Toussaint, Rickie Lee Jones, Willie Nelson and Todd Rundgren).

Together they cut a wide stylistic swath on Cross Currents, from funk (‘Homebrew’, ‘Pocket Call’) to ambient (‘Big Sky’) to swamp rock (‘Gulf Stream’), second-line (‘Ponchatrain’) and ballads (the Jimi Hendrix flavored ‘Sand Castles’ and the moody ‘Roll With It’) with allusions to Cajun (‘Nonc Rodell’) and Indian Raga (‘Eastern Blue’).

Recorded at Power Station New England in Waterford, CT (a perfect replica of the storied New York City recording studio where Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, David Bowie, Madonna, Sting, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Mayer recorded iconic albums), Cross Currents is Egan’s most versatile and ambitious offering to date. While his past outings as a leader, like 2006’s As We Speak, 2010’s Truth Be Told, 2014’s About Now and Direction Home, 2018’s Dreaming Spirits and 2020’s Electric Blue, have been primarily organic trio and duo affairs, Cross Currents is a power trio with orchestrated layers of rhythms and textures by the participants.

“The intent of this recording was to capture the interplay and energy of the trio and orchestrate it by adding additional guitars, bass and percussion to enhance what the songs were calling for.

Everyone had so many great ideas for orchestrating and arranging the material. The record has electric and acoustic guitar as well as bass and percussion overdubs. We wanted to make atmospheric pads to create a backdrop for us to improvise over. Once I had decided on recording this trio format I spent nine months of composing and arranging the compositions. Shane and Shawn also spent a lot of time conceptualizing and contributing songs. We had three days to record and orchestrate the eleven compositions so the preproduction allowed us to have the time to be creative in the studio and focus on the group interplay and soloing.”

For Egan, interplay and soloing means digging down on his fretted bass

groove lines to lock with the rhythm section and using his fretless electric bass for his signature singing sound that has graced his own recordings since 1985’s groundbreaking and decidedly bass-centric Mosaic. That quality comes across throughout Cross Currents and is particularly evident with him carrying the melody on tunes like ‘Gulf Stream’, ‘Big Sky’, ‘Pocket Call’ and the title track or by his uncommonly lyrical improvising on tunes like ‘Ponchatrain’, ‘Homebrew’, ‘Sunflower’ and ‘Eastern Blue’.

The bassist had high praise for his comrades Shawn and Shane on Cross Currents. “They both came very prepared for the sessions. I had sent them demos along with arrangements with suggestions for solo sections and overdub possibilities, and we rehearsed one day before going into the studio to work things out. Shane and Shawn both brought so much to the table and did their homework by creating and practicing grooves, melodies and instrument choices as well as coming up with great orchestration ideas. They are both so fundamentally strong in everything they do that it made the recording process creative and a lot of fun.”

Egan had previously recorded with Theriot on the bassist’s 2018 album, Dreaming Spirits, an Indian flavored trio project with tabla player/percussionist Arjun Bruggeman. “I loved Shane’s contribution on Dreaming Spirits and thought he would be a perfect fit for the trio on Cross Currents. And though Shawn and I have played together on many sessions in New York over the years, he had never played on any of my records before.”

The three players had actually first established some chemistry on a show backing NYC poet Frank Messina back in pre-pandemic times. “This was late 2019, before the COVID shut down,” Egan recalled. “Frank asked me to recommend people for this show that he was performing in New York City and I recommended Shane and Shawn. There was no rehearsal but just a very loose structure to it all with a lot of improvisation. Frank gave us a lot of room to improvise and play off of his poetry. At one point that evening we were playing trio — just Shane, Shawn and myself. That was the ‘light bulb moment’ for me, when I thought, this is very happening. I want to record a project with this trio. In the fall of 2022 I was in touch with Shane and Shawn about recording a trio project and I started writing songs for the group. Shane also sent me a few of his songs that inspired me to write others in a similar style. We co-wrote ‘Big Sky’ as Shane sent me the song as a demo with acoustic guitar chords and a groove and I wrote a melody and added an extended section for his acoustic guitar solo. Shane also contributed ‘Ponchatrain’, ‘Sunflower’ and ‘Homebrew’. Shawn contributed ‘Nonc Rodell’ which is a tribute to his uncle.

‘Nonc Rodell’ showcases Shawn as a world class groove drummer as well as the depth of his creative drumming abilities. Shawn pre recorded his tracks at his studio with his drums, squeezebox (accordion), and added tenor guitar parts as well. We brought those tracks into Power Station New England studio and Shane and I added guitars and basses on top of Shawn’s prerecorded tracks. It’s a very creative track that features Shawn’s amazing drumming and I love it.”

An in-demand New York City studio musician who has played on multi-gold and platinum-selling recordings by Sting, Arcadia, Marc Cohn, GRP Christmas, Mecano and Joan Osborne, Egan has also recorded with a wide variety of artists from pop stars like Roger Daltry, Sophie B. Hawkins, Marianne Faithfull, Judy Collins, Cyndi Lauper and Art Garfunkel to jazz notables like David Sanborn, John McLaughlin, John Abercrombie, Randy Brecker, Gato Barbieri, Freddy Cole, Pat Martino, Jim Hall, Joe Beck, Mark Murphy and Larry Coryell. A member of the Gil Evans Orchestra for 13 years, he has 14 albums as a leader to his credit and another 10 as a co-leader of Elements, the fusion band he formed in 1982 with his Pat Metheny Group bandmate, drummer Danny Gottlieb.

And now Cross Currents, on his own Wavetone label, may be his crowning achievement to date as Egan continues to push the boundaries of his creativity.

For more information visit

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