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Hot Club of Cowtown Releases Wild Kingdom, Featuring Upright Bassist Jake Erwin

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Hot Club Of Cowtown Goes Wild On First Album Of Original Material In Ten Years: Wild Kingdom

Something magical happens when the sultry hot jazz made famous by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli meets the hard-driving Western swing sound pioneered by Bob Wills and early string bands of the American Southwest. The ear-catching result of this surprising marriage is the Hot Club of Cowtown, the effervescent Austin-based trio beloved for more than two decades by devoted fans across the United States and around the world. Romantic and rhythmic, happy-making and heart-breaking, sophisticated and elegant while still down-to-earth and rugged, the Hot Club of Cowtownnow returns with its much-anticipated eleventh album, an enticing new collection of original compositions (plus a few inspired standards) entitled Wild Kingdom.

Whit Smith, the band’s dexterous guitarist, embodies the spirit of early jazz players like Charlie Christian in both his vintage gear and his high-flying fretwork. Upright bass player Jake Erwin is a rhythm powerhouse who keeps the beat with determination and gusto, slapping that bass like it owes him money. Elana James rounds out the trio with sweet, inviting vocals and the astounding fiddle playing that leaves audiences reeling. As the Hot Club of Cowtown, these three talented and charismatic performers have been entertaining audiences for twenty-one years— along the way winning Ameripolitan Awards, touring with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, and representing the United States in international showcases from Azerbaijan to the Sultanate of Oman.

The Hot Club got its start in 1994 in New York City, when Whit Smith answered a classified ad that Elana James placed in the Village Voice looking for musicians who shared her eclectic tastes and dedication to traditional music. The pair’s first collaboration was a full Western swing orchestra, but they soon decided they preferred the group’s sound when it was pared down to its essential elements. After making the move to Austin, the Hot Club released its first studio album, Swingin’ Stampede, in 1998, followed quickly by three more: Tall TalesDev’lish Mary, andGhost Train. In 2003, Jake Erwin completed the band’s line-up, appearing on the rollicking live albumContinental Stomp,and the trio as we now know it was formed. In 2004, the Hot Club of Cowtownwas inducted into the Texas Western Swing Hall of Fame, and the band continued to tour and record, releasing compilations, appearing on soundtracks, and honing its high-energy live show.

Since 2011, the Hot Club of Cowtownhas been revisiting its roots, releasing three acclaimed albums dedicated exclusively to the music that influenced and shaped the band’s sound — artists like Bob Wills, Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli, Bing Crosby, and Cindy Walker.  Most recently, the Hot Club branched out to issue Crossing the Great Divide, a seven-song EP reimagining classic tunes by The Band on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the release of The Band’s two most influential records, The Band and Music From Big Pink

Now, just in time for an extensive fall tour through the United States and the United Kingdom, the Hot Club of Cowtown returns with its most exciting record yet, a powerful collection of eleven brand-new original songs plus three traditional band favorites. Wild Kingdom is a true marvel, packed with musical virtuosity and dazzling songwriting, anchored by a sound that is both decidedly traditional and wildly original. Certain to delight both their army of seasoned fans and a brand new audience of Hot Club novices, Wild Kingdomis a fitting return to form by one of the most essential bands in traditional American music. 

Peel back the wrapper on Wild Kingdomand you’ll find the first of several songs by James, “My Candy,” which sets the stage for the kind of retro-simplicity that the band’s fans love and expect as Elana does some sweet talking about how she loves her candy more than any old tootsie roll or Charleston chew. James’s waltz “Last Call” is a drinking-song melody with beautiful lyrics about finally being called home by God. James’s “Near Mrs.” is a classic list song a la “All My Exes Live in Texas” (and includes a surprising name-dropof a famous country star you won’t want to miss!), while the chugging country rhythm of “Tall Tall Ship” offers an irrepressible sing-along almost divinely bestowed for a drive up the California coast with the top down. “Rodeo Blues” uses the metaphor of the pickup rider in a rodeo as the savior in a relationship and “High Upon the Mountain” paints a picture of nature’s power to make us look inward and consider the stillness around us in contrast to the turmoil in our lives. “Before the Time of Men” is a complex mix of central Asian flair and manouche jazz that celebrates the magic of what a horse-hair instrument can do while mourning the incredible loss of life and beauty that takes place when man dominates creatures and land. 

While James’s offerings for the most part tend to look toward romantic love and relationships, albeit sometimes in the afterlife, Whit Smith’s originals embrace the existential and offer a tart complement: “Caveman” draws a swinging portrait of the titular prehistoric character who becomes famous for his cave paintings. In “Billy the Kid,” we travel in time to the instant the famous outlaw’s life flashes before his eyes as he’s gunned down by Sheriff Pat Garrett, and Smith’s “Ways of Escape” is a uniquely bluesy reminder to get back on track with our most cherished dreams, while in “Easy Money” Smith shrugs off a gold-digging girlfriend he can’t help but love. 

Three band favorites also made the cut for Wild Kingdomeach showing off the trio’s intricate, exuberant arrangements of three-part vocal harmonies and guitar and fiddle twin lines, including the 1930s theme from the eponymous film “Three Little Words,” a swinging version of the traditional “Loch Lomond” which rides a wistful folk melody through the steep sides of the blustery Scottish highlands, and an inspired cover of Les Paul and Mary Ford’s “How High the Moon.” 

With the release of Wild Kingdom, the Hot Club of Cowtownwill be proving once more their unparalleled ability to take a diverse range of well-established genres and breathe new life into them through a healthy dose of buoyancy, joy, and blazing virtuosity.

Visit online at hotclubofcowtown.com

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New Album: Ben Wolfe, The Understated

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New Album: Ben Wolfe, The Understated

Acclaimed bassist and composer Ben Wolfe is thrilled to announce the August 9, 2024 release of The Understated.

This evocative new album features a collection of new original compositions by Wolfe paired, with re-imaginings of some of the composer’s classic material, with a particular emphasis on the ballad song-form. The album features ten tracks, five of which are ballads – a bold move for any composer – Wolfe creates a cohesive narrative here that challenges the listeners perception of the classic ballad. The Understated features Wolfe alongside artists who make up the very frontline of modern jazz, including pianist Orrin Evans, tenor saxophonist Nicole Glover, drummer Aaron Kimmel, guitarist Russell Malone and pianist Sullivan Fortner.

Wolfe has always been drawn to finding beauty in subtlety. He perceives a certain tranquility and elegance in the Coltrane Quartet, Louis Armstrong’s Hot Fives and Sevens, the legendary Miles Davis bands and rhythm sections, and the music of Charlie Parker. While he, of course, revels at the immense world-building energy of this music, it’s the “other side” – the elusive, magical aspect that endlessly captivates him – the understated. The composer draws inspiration most from the ensemble work of these hallmark jazz ensembles. Despite the individual parts being extraordinarily beautiful on their own, the musicians in these archetypal ensembles play only what is needed to serve the music, paying particular attention to the band-sound more-so than their individual sound. The Understated embodies this ethos with a tremendously impactful ensemble-oriented approach.

Wolfe sought to continue the thread started by “Lullaby in D” from his previous critically acclaimed release Unjust. Wolfe indicates, “Something about that take was so perfect to me. It had been brought to life, and it had that ensemble thing.” Wolfe assembled the quartet who recorded “Lullaby” (including longtime collaborator Orrin Evans, as well as recent frequent collaborators Aaron Kimmel and Nicole Glover) and two very special guests, Russell Malone and Sullivan Fortner. The recording process took place in one room with no headphones or isolation booths, further emphasizing the group’s collective awareness.

This record succeeds in bringing Wolfe’s expansive music to life through extremely conscientious group playing. Nothing is forced or pushed; everything that needs to be stated is stated. The single from the album, “Waltz,” encapsulates the spirit of the project. Wolfe says, “I view albums like a complete painting, so singles have been difficult for me. This song is very much in the spirit of the whole but doesn’t give away the record.” The piece features a sentimental melody delivered with grace by tenor saxophonist Nicole Glover, before Glover and Evans embark on stirring solos dancing in and out of the tune’s harmony.

 Other new original compositions featured here include “Ballad in B”, which perhaps best demonstrates the group’s stunning cohesion. This tune is a refreshing diversion as it features a serene repeated melody without overt melodic improvisation. The following track, “Anagram”, begins with Kimmel’s rhythmic refrains and a unison melody played by Glover and Wolfe and is a true ensemble piece. On this track, Wolfe shines with a lyrical solo. The moody short interlude “So Indeed” is a lyrical masterwork that leaves the listener wanting even more.  “Beautiful You” features master guitarist Russell Malone on the track’s melody. The emphasis here on restrained lyricism is a prime reminder of the old adage “it’s not the notes you play, it’s the notes you don’t play”. Each pocket of space in between melodic moments leaves room for the listener to breathe deeper and deeper into the song. The driving “Triangle Man” features fantastic improvisation from Glover and Kimmel. The tender “Barely Spoken” concludes the album with a feature for pianist Sullivan Fortner.

 The album also weaves in references to Wolfe’s past works, creating a personal musical universe. “The Poet Speaks” is the opening track on his first record, 13 Sketches. “Occam’s Razor” was composed years ago for a collaboration with a choreographer and painter, and was a much different composition in its original form. “Love Is Near” was originally found on The Whisperer. With ballads in particular, Ben uses voicings and sounds that represent certain things to him, intentionally referencing his other compositions to generate connections between his songs.

 Wolfe’s tremendous compositions on this album are also influenced by the group of musicians that he assembled for this release. Wolfe remarks “One of the things these five musicians share in common is that not only are they true ensemble players, they will always play something unexpected and special.” Listeners will find calm and beauty within the ensemble performances throughout The Understated.

Visit online at benwolfe.com/

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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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