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Bassist Lorenzo Feliciati Releases Elevator Man

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The Italian composer and bassist’s third RareNoise release (after Frequent Flyer and KOI) continues his path towards a unique musical language bridging jazz and rock.

Feliciati is accompanied by a plethora of exceptional musicians from across the globe.

As a follow-up to his most personal project to date, 2015’s KOI, in-demand Italian session bassist and RareNoise recording artist Lorenzo Feliciati has upped the ante on his latest project, Elevator Man. A powerhouse recording with echoes of King Crimson, Allan Holdsworth and other Prog Rock icons, this latest outing by the prolific bassist-composer-arranger features a rotating cast of stellar musicians, including King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto, former Holdsworth drummer Chad Wackerman, Swedish Freak Guitar shredder Mattias IA Eklundh (of the Jonas Hellborg Trio and Art Metal), Italian progressive metal guitarist Marco Sfogli (currently of the legendary Italian Prog Rock band Premiata Forneria Marconi, aka PFM), trumpeter Cuong Vu and Feliciati’s Naked Truth bandmate Roy Powell on distortion-laced clavinet. As well as composing and arranging all the material, Feliciati plays fretted and fretless basses, electric guitar and keyboards on his seventh and most potent recording as a leader to date “Elevator Man has a different lineup on every song,” explains Feliciati, a member of RareNoise bands Naked Truth, Berserk!, Twinscapes and Mumpbeak. “It’s the same ‘one song-one line up’ philosophy that I used on Frequent Flyer, but this time all the music for Elevator Man was composed at the same time, in a three-month period. So I was probably able to concentrate more and think more deeply about the direction of the album. And while a varied stylistic approach is something I always try to achieve, this one has a more clear Prog Rock flavor that was a planned decision. After KOI, I felt the need to move from the soundtrack-ambient soundscapes attitude that is a crucial ingredient of both KOI and Twinscapes, my duo project with bassist Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree, to a more songs-oriented project.”

From the opening track, “Elevator Man,” Feliciati shifts to the dynamic “The Brick,” “14 Stories opens with an ambient, mysterioso vibe the top before the piece erupts into an orchestral crescendo. The melancholy ballad “Black Book, Red Letter,” also highlights some lyrical trumpet playing and some impassioned soloing from the alto saxophonist. The aggressive rocker “Three Women” has Feliciati grooving on fretless bass while “Unchained Houdini” is a slamming jam that pits Feliciati’s bass, guitar and keys against some whirlwind wailing on the kit. “The Third Door” has Feliciati going mano-a-mano with a turntable wizard while “S.O.S.” introduces a mellow vibraphone and an intense guitarist. The swinging “Thief Like Me,” features a strong bass solo from Feliciati, who also anchors the proceedings on Moog bass. And the haunting closer, “U Turn in Falmouth,” has Feliciati interacting on bass, guitars and keyboards. “The power to have these great musicians ready to play on the songs forced me to be a more focused composer on this project,” said Feliciati. “So this one is less on the abstract/improvised side. When you have so many amazing musicians ready to collaborate with you, you are the luckiest person in the world but you must have a very clear idea of what you will ask them to play on, what you want them to add to your music.”

Feliciati, who has worked with some of the great drummers throughout his career, seemed especially pleased with the crew of time-keepers he was able to recruit for Elevator Man. ”I love drums and drummers and to have such great players on this album as Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson, Stickmen), Chad Wackerman, Roberto Gualdi (PFM), Davide Pettirossi, Armando Croce, Gianluca Palmieri (Greg Howe Band) and the young star Davide Savarese is such a wonderful privilege. To compose some music and have so many choices in front of you is wonderful. And to realize that everyone involved is enthusiastic and willing to collaborate is truly fantastic.”

He also heaped high praise on the two sensational guitarists who appear on Elevator Man. “Marco Sfogli is a great friend of mine and we played together several times,” explains Feliciati. “I played on his latest solo album. Mattias Ecklundh did a masterclass at the school where I was teaching in Rome. I asked to do some music together and he enthusiastically agreed. I was happy when he agreed to play on this record.”

Returning from KOI is the three-piece horn section of trombonist Pierluigi Bastioli, baritone saxophonist Duiliu Ingress and bass trombonist Stan Adams, who also arranged and conducted the section. “The idea for the horns came while working on KOI, where the same three-piece section plays on several tracks,” Feliciati explains. “I was wondering about doubling the bass riffs with a horn section on that recording but I immediately understood that a funky-jazzy section of trumpet/sax/trombone would have been too conventional or traditional sounding. So I switched to this low-end section consisting of bass trombone, trombone and baritone sax, and the final result was so good I immediately decided to use them on some of the songs of Elevator Man.”

The bassist-composer-arranger describes his daily creative process that has led to the realization of such visionary projects as Frequent Flyer, Koi and Elevator Man: “I love to wake up early in the morning, have

breakfast with family and then walk upstairs to my home studio and ask myself, ‘What do you like to work on today?’ I always had a home studio and the technology related to recording (software like ProTools, etc.) became way less expensive. This way I can work on different projects at the same time, switching from one to another; not to mention all the sessions I do at home for music that arrives via Dropbox from all over the world, People want me on their music and with the files-exchange approach they can have my bass track on their album easily and fast.”

The great bassist also acknowledges the towering influence of Jaco Pastorius on his own playing and on this recording, particularly on “Elevator Man”, “S.O.S.” and “Black Book, Red Letter.” Says Feliciati of Jaco’s influence: “For me you can easily divide not only bass playing but also Jazz Rock Fusion in before Jaco/after Jaco segments. The influence he had on my love for the bass and music is endless. I saw Weather Report in 1980 in Rome on their Night Passage tour. That night changed my life. I decided to play the bass after that because I realized how much the instrument can drive a band and be the center of the sonic spectrum. If the song, the music needed one note, Jaco was playing one note…if the song needed one hundred he was playing the right ones the most soulful ones and with such an incredible timing and groove. But I really love Jaco the composer. And of all the wonderful tunes he wrote and played, the one that is touching me the most is still ‘John and Mary’ from his Word of Mouth album. Together with Night Passage and Joni Mitchell’s Shadows and Light, these are timeless classics.

That Pastorius influence is present throughout Elevator Man. But Feliciati also carves out his own unique niche on this superb prog-rock flavored outing.

Visit online at www.rarenoiserecords.com.

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New Album: Jake Leckie, Planter of Seeds

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Planter of Seeds is bassist/composer Jake Leckie’s third release as a bandleader and explores what beauty can come tomorrow from the seeds we plant today. 

Bassist Jake Leckie and The Guide Trio Unveil New Album Planter of Seeds,
to be released on June 7, 2024

Planter of Seeds is bassist/composer Jake Leckie’s third release as a bandleader and explores what beauty can come tomorrow from the seeds we plant today. 

What are we putting in the ground? What are we building? What is the village we want to bring our children up in? At the core of the ensemble is The Guide Trio, his working band with guitarist Nadav Peled and drummer Beth Goodfellow, who played on Leckie’s second album, The Guide, a rootsy funky acoustic analog folk-jazz recording released on Ropeadope records in 2022. For Planter of Seeds, the ensemble is augmented by Cathlene Pineda (piano), Randal Fisher (tenor saxophone), and Darius Christian (trombone), who infuse freedom and soul into the already tightly established ensemble.

Eight original compositions were pristinely recorded live off the floor of Studio 3 at East West Studios in Hollywood CA, and mastered by A.T. Michael MacDonald. The cover art is by internationally acclaimed visual artist Wayne White. Whereas his previous work has been compared to Charles Mingus, and Keith Jarrett’s American Quartet with Charlie Haden, Leckie’s new collection sits comfortably between the funky odd time signatures of the Dave Holland Quintet and the modern folk-jazz of the Brian Blade Fellowship Band with a respectful nod towards the late 1950s classic recordings of Ahmad Jamal and Miles Davis.

The title track, “Planter of Seeds,” is dedicated to a close family friend, who was originally from Trinidad, and whenever she visited family or friends at their homes, without anyone knowing, she would plant seeds she kept in her pocket in their gardens, so the next season beautiful flowers would pop up. It was a small altruistic anonymous act of kindness that brought just a little more beauty into the world. The rhythm is a tribute to Ahmad Jamal, who we also lost around the same time, and whose theme song Poinciana is about a tree from the Caribbean.

“Big Sur Jade” was written on a trip Leckie took with his wife to Big Sur, CA, and is a celebration of his family and community. This swinging 5/4 blues opens with an unaccompanied bass solo, and gives an opportunity for each of the musicians to share their improvisational voices. “Clear Skies” is a cathartic up-tempo release of collective creative energies in fiery improvisational freedom. “The Aquatic Uncle” features Randal Fisher’s saxophone and is named after an Italo Calvino short story which contemplates if one can embrace the new ways while being in tune with tradition. In ancient times, before a rudder, the Starboard side of the ship was where it was steered from with a steering oar. In this meditative quartet performance, the bass is like the steering oar of the ensemble: it can control the direction of the music, and when things begin to unravel or become unhinged, a simple pedal note keeps everything grounded.

The two trio tunes on the album are proof that the establishment of his consistent working band The Guide Trio has been a fruitful collaboration. “Santa Teresa”, a bouncy samba-blues in ? time, embodies the winding streets and stairways of the bohemian neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro it is named for. The swampy drum feel on “String Song” pays homage to Levon Helm of The Band, a group where you can’t always tell who wrote the song or who the bandleader is, proving that the sum is greater than the individual parts. Early jazz reflected egalitarianism in collective improvisation, and this group dynamic is an expression of that kind of inclusivity and democracy.

“The Daughters of the Moon” rounds out the album, putting book ends on the naturalist themes. This composition is named after magical surrealist Italo Calvino’s short story about consumerism, in which a mythical modern society that values only buying shiny new things throws away the moon like it is a piece of garbage and the daughters of the moon save it and resurrect it. It’s an eco-feminist take on how women are going to save the world. Pineda’s piano outro is a hauntingly beautiful lunar voyage, blinding us with love. Leckie dedicates this song to his daughter: “My hope is that my daughter becomes a daughter of the moon, helping to make the world a more beautiful and verdant place to live.”

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Debut Album: Nate Sabat, Bass Fiddler

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Debut Album: Nate Sabat, Bass Fiddler

In a thrilling solo debut, bassist Nate Sabat combines instrumental virtuosity with a songwriter’s heart on Bass Fiddler

The upright bass and the human voice. Two essential musical instruments, one with roots in 15th century Europe, the other as old as humanity itself. 

On Bass Fiddler (Adhyâropa Records ÂR00057), the debut album from Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter and bass virtuoso Nate Sabat, the scope is narrowed down a bit. Drawing from the rich and thriving tradition of American folk music, Sabat delivers expertly crafted original songs and choice covers with the upright bass as his lone tool for accompaniment. 

The concept was born a decade ago when Sabat began studying with the legendary old-time fiddler Bruce Molsky at Berklee College of Music. “One of Bruce’s specialties is singing and playing fiddle at the same time. The second I heard it I was hooked,” recalls Sabat. “I thought, how can I do this on the bass?” From there, he was off to the races, arranging original and traditional material with Molsky as his guide. “Fast forward to 2020, and I — like so many other musicians — was thinking of how to best spend my time. I sat down with the goal of writing some new songs and arranging some new covers, and an entire record came out.” When the time came to make the album, it was evident that Molsky would be the ideal producer. Sabat asked him if he’d be interested, and luckily he was. “What an inspiration to work with an artist like Nate,” says Molsky. “Right at the beginning, he came to this project with a strong, personal and unique vision. Plus he had the guts to try for a complete and compelling cycle of music with nothing but a bass and a voice. You’ll hear right away that it’s engaging, sometimes serious, sometimes fun, and beautifully thought out from top to bottom.” 

While this record is, at its core, a folk music album, Sabat uses the term broadly. Some tracks lean more rock (‘In the Shade’), some more pop (‘White Marble’, ‘Rabid Thoughts’), some more jazz (‘Fade Away’), but the setting ties them all together. “There’s something inherently folksy about a musician singing songs with their instrument, no matter the influences behind the compositions themselves,” Sabat notes. To be sure, there are plenty of folk songs (‘Louise’ ‘Sometimes’, ‘Eli’) and fiddling (‘Year of the Ox’) to be had here — the folk music fan won’t go hungry. There’s a healthy dose of bluegrass too (‘Orphan Annie’, ‘Lonesome Night’), clean and simple, the way Mr. Bill Monroe intended. 

All in all, this album shines a light on an instrument that often goes overlooked in the folk music world, enveloping the listener in its myriad sounds, textures, and colors. “There’s nothing I love more than playing the upright bass,” exclaims Sabat. “My hope is that listeners take the time to sit with this album front to back — I want them to take in the full scope of the work. I have a feeling they’ll hear something they haven’t heard before.”

Available online at natesabat.bandcamp.com/album/walking-away

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New Album: Avery Sharpe, I Am My Neighbors Keeper

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A new recording will be released on JKNM Records by internationally renowned bassist/composer Avery Sharpe, “I Am My Neighbors Keeper”

Avery Sharpe and his Double Quartet to release, I Am My Neighbors Keeper

A new recording will be released on JKNM Records by internationally renowned bassist/composer Avery Sharpe, “I Am My Neighbors Keeper” is scheduled for release in June 2024.

Sharpe has composed a new work that highlights our commitment to one another. Avery initiated the project as a response to the political and racial division that has grown over the past seven years in the country. “The U.S political climate has drastically changed in the past 40-plus years, especially during the last seven of those years. In this age of greed, which Sharpe refers to as “IGM,” I Got Mine, basic human compassion has been eroded. Racial, economic and social strides are being turned back.

“We have food insecurity, the unhoused, pandemics, school shootings, domestic violence, and an opioid problem, just to name some. There is a need to remind people that each of us is here on this planet for a very short period of time. It doesn’t matter if one has a religious approach or a secular approach, it all comes down to concern and compassion for each other. Through these compositions and recordings, Avery’s mission as an artist is to remind us that we all are interconnected and that ‘We Are Our Neighbor’s Keeper.’ When we help to uplift one, we uplift everyone,” Sharpe said.

Each movement in the piece describes the values we should strive for to help one another for this multi-media (video slide show during performance) and multi-discipline performance.

Many of Sharpe’s projects and recordings have been about “standing on the shoulders of ancestors, heroes and sheroes.” Among his recordings and projects, include “Running Man” (celebrating the athlete Jesse Owens), “Ain’t I A Woman” (about Sojourner Truth), and his most recent project “400: An African American Musical Portrait” (marking the 400 years from 1619 to 2019).

Avery Sharpe has recorded and performed with many jazz greats from Dizzy Gillespie to Yusef Lateef. He had an illustrious run of 20 plus years with the legendary Jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, of which he recorded more than 25 records with Mr. Tyner and performed countless worldwide concerts.

Visit online at averysharpe.com/

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New Album: Killing Bees, Racing Towards Ruin

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New Album: Killing Bees, Racing Towards Ruin

Killing Bees Racing Towards Ruin out May 10th via Tonequake Records.

There are some records where the first note grabs you and doesn’t let go. Before the first lyric is sung, Killing Bees pull you into Racing Towards Ruins via the sheer power of TONES, MAN, TONES. Brown-note bass reverberations and gut-punch kickdrum snap the listener out of daily reverie instantaneously. Together, bassist/vocalist Nic Nifoussi and drummer Ray Mehlbaum (both of Automatic 7) and producer Andrew Scheps (Mars Volta, Audioslave, Adele) have crafted a piece of art that fuses low-rock minimalism, post-hardcore aggression, and SoCal throttle rock urgency into, well, a real ass-kicker. 

The bones of Killing Bees began their calcification when Nifoussi started a high school punk band called Automatic 7. They signed to BYO Records upon graduation and soon found themselves in need of a new drummer. Enter Ray Mehlbaum. Tours with Bad Religion, Social Distortion, Face 2 Face, Bouncing Souls, Suicide Machines, Unwritten Law, Youth Brigade, DOA, and others followed, as well as a deal with A&M Records. A&M got bought by Universal, the band moved to Vagrant Records, cut a new record, toured, then broke up. 

“Eventually, Ray and I decided to start a two-piece band” explains Nifoussi. “I was trying out a new sound using 2 amps and an A-B switch. Overdrive through one amp and playing a lot of chords to get a guitar-like sound. After years of playing together, we were already tight and used to writing together. The songs came quickly and easily.”

Via Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion, the band had come to know Grammy-winning producer and engineer Andrew Scheps. Though originally recommended as a producer for Automatic 7, when the band played him the Killing Bees songs, he loved the concept and the trio got to work on their self-titled debut. Following the record’s release on Guano Loco/Loose Fang Records, “we played a bunch of shows and eventually started writing the new record in our North Hollywood lockout” says Nifoussi.

Recorded once again at Scheps’ studio, drums and bass were recorded live, the only overdubs being vocals and some bass and accordion textures (Nifoussi is an accomplished accordionist). “We tracked the two together over 4 or 5 days and everything you hear was played live by talented humans, not put together after the fact.  I think that live energy is what makes the record so compelling!” says Scheps. “Andrew wanted to challenge us. We came in wired towards traditional songwriting – he wasn’t interested in that” explains Mehlbaum. “He encouraged us to think about instrumental bits that would drive the tune, as opposed to the sing-along chorus of a traditional song. As a drummer, he kicked my ass. I remember him saying “we’re gonna turn the click off. I want you to go completely ‘out of time’ then come back in.” That’s some crazy shit! But I fucking loved it.”

Thematically, the record deals with the dangers of love and politics in equal measure. As Nifoussi puts it, “if there’s a takeaway, it’s to be careful with who you love… and vote into government.” So, Racing Towards Ruin. A concise, compelling listen, arresting at first blush, and deeply moving upon completion. A modern rock record (not a modern-rock record), unrelentingly heavy and sonically immaculate. And loud. Super loud.  

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New Album: Lucy Clifford, Meeting Place

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New Album: Lucy Clifford, Meeting Place

Bassist and composer Lucy Clifford has announced the release of her new EP ‘Meeting Place’.

This live studio recording was captured at Golden Retriever Studios in Sydney, and features Australian guitarist Felix Lalanne and Swiss drummer Jessie Cox. 

As a bassist who has dedicated many years to accompanying artists of different kinds, Lucy shares some of her own music in a kaleidoscope of sounds and influences that have shaped her creative identity. The trio explores Lucy’s compositions, which weave between both energy and repose, lyrical soundscapes colliding with dynamic grooves that are sure to occupy your mind. This 4 song EP is presented as an uninterrupted musical odyssey and serves as a dedication to the places and people that hold a profound ability to anchor us in the present moment, our meeting places. 

For Lucy, this meeting place created with Felix and Jessie is a “celebration of collaborative spirit and the immersive spatial movements of sound. In an era where connections are more crucial than ever, this music emerged while reflecting on the many borders, barriers, and structures that currently hold back human connection and communal bonds. We need reminding to rediscover our meeting places, that bring us the love, comfort, truth, and creativity we so urgently need.” 

‘Meeting Place’ will be out April 5th on digital platforms, along with the live studio performance for viewing on Youtube.

Visit online at www.lucycliffordmusic.com

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