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Bassist Fred Randolph Releases 4th CD of All Originals, “Mood Walk,”

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Bassist Fred Randolph Releases 4th CD of All Originals, "Mood Walk,"

It took Fred Randolph many years to decide which instrument he wanted to play, but when he finally settled on the bass, he knew he had found his true, creative métier.

Randolph is now releasing MOOD WALK, his fourth CD as a leader. Each of his three previous albums received wide airplay and stellar reviews, including his 2015 release Song Without Singing, which All About Jazz called “An exquisite project from bassist Fred Randolph, whose talents as a composer and arranger are what truly makes Song Without Singing an engaging musical experience. Presenting straight-ahead, Latin, Brazilian, and Afro styled rhythms, Randolph designs a varied musical package that will appeal to the most discerning aficionado.”

Randolph grew up in Honolulu where he started taking ukulele lessons when he was very young.

At the time, every young guy wanted to be a rock star, so he switched to guitar when he was 11 years old because he wanted to emulate Jimi Hendrix. When he was in high school, he began listening to jazz albums such as “The Boss” by Jimmy Smith featuring George Benson and became fascinated with jazz harmony. It changed his musical direction forever, and he became a serious student of jazz guitar.  

After high school, Randolph went to UC San Diego. He admits, “I really went there to surf. But after growing up by the beautiful, blue, warm water around Hawaii, the ocean was too cold in San Diego.” So, he switched schools and enrolled in UC Berkeley. One of his guitar teachers in San Diego had suggested he listen to sax players like Coltrane to expand his jazz vocabulary. Soon after his move north, he rented a sax from a pawn shop in Berkeley and became hooked. He put aside the guitar and spent the next 12 years playing the sax.  

After so many years and too many bad casuals, Randolph felt it was time for a change.

He was always a quick study when it came to music, and he had taught himself bass one summer years ago to play in a band. Although he hadn’t played it in over a decade, someone who remembered him from those days asked him to play bass in his band. Soon, one gig led to another. By that time, he had gone back to school and was working on his master’s degree in Composition at CSU Hayward. Says Randolph. “I fell under the spell of the bass, captivated by its endless possibilities and sounds. The acoustic and electric basses became my main instruments, and I started to study intensively. I listened to all types of jazz solos on other instruments and adapted them to the bass.” 

After receiving his M.A., he pursued his professional career as a bass player. At first, he co-led the jazz quintet, The Zone, for several years, composing most of the music for the group’s first CD Grand Canyon Blue. Although he is a jazz musician at heart, his musical interests encompass a wide palette, and he also spent two years as a member of the Diablo Symphony Orchestra while leading his own jazz groups. 

Randolph has performed as a sideman in many genres, from rock to classical, from salsa and samba to jazz, and he feels that great music has common elements that transcend style.

Music should be relatable on an emotive level, and a strong melody is perhaps the most important element in a song. The way a melody is phrased should resemble the natural cadences of speech, but harmony also conjures emotions. Randolph encourages his students to infer the emotion that each, individual chord evokes.  

These elements are well represented on MOOD WALK. Randolph composed all the tunes on the album. He frequently finds inspiration from other compositions when he writes. “I often start writing by listening to other music. However, by the time I’m done, whatever I write doesn’t sound at all like the tune that inspired me,” says Randolph. 

Randolph’s band comprises some of the finest musicians in Northern California.

Each band member is a leader in his own right. Trumpeter ERIK JEKABSON and pianist DAN ZEMELMAN have been members of Randolph’s band just about from the beginning. The core of the band also includes woodwinds player SHELDON BROWN and GREG WYSER-PRATTE on drums. Randolph wanted to add other colors to the music, so he brought on board some special guests, including GREG SANKOVICH on keyboards and organ; SILVESTRE MARTINEZ, who Randolph met on the salsa circuit, on percussion; BRIAN RICE on percussion; and DILLON VADO on vibes.  

The album opens with “On the Upside,” which was inspired by Clifford Brown’s upbeat music. Randolph wrote “Unaware,” inspired by Chick Corea, about people who walk through the streets unaware of their surroundings. “T-Bone Slide” has an R&B shuffle feeling influenced by drummer Bernard Purdie’s playing, especially in Steely Dan. “Strange Game” is about the music business. Randolph wrote it after listening to the latest album by the legendary David Crosby. The bluesy “Mood Walk” is followed by the Latin-tinged “Knowing.”  

Coltrane Plays the Blues was the inspiration for “Mr. Now.” Randolph has been a big fan of Todd Rundgren and wrote “Todd’s Idea,” featuring the old school sound of a Wurlitzer electric piano. Listening to NPR one day, Randolph heard a group from the Congo playing the Ndombolo rhythm, which inspired him to write “Nouveau Monde.” “Meadows” is an impressionistic Latin waltz styled after Brazilian composer Guinga. Randolph closes the album with “Funky N.O. Thing.” He originally wrote this 2nd line groove for his group, The Zone, and wanted to record a new version of it. Everyone gets to solo on the tune. 

Randolph has always loved the power, valor, energy, and confidence of jaguars, which had spiritual significance in Pre-Columbian, Meso-American cultures. That’s why he used a painting of one on the cover of the CD. MOOD WALK was inspired by its beauty, mesmerizing movements, and mystery.  

MOOD WALK is set for release in June 2020, and will be available at Amazon, iTunes, and everywhere.   

Visit online at Fredrandolph.com

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New Album: EZRA’s Self-titled Debut Album

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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 ezraquartet.com

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New Album: Alberto Rigoni, Unexpected Lullabies

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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 deadpulse.com/product/alberto-rigoni-unexpected-lullabies/

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FOREIGNER Announces Red Vinyl Farewell Album

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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 foreigner.merchmadeeasy.com/hotblooded.

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 www.foreigneronline.com 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 LiveNation.com.

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.

FAREWELL – THE VERY BEST OF FOREIGNER TRACK LIST:
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 foreigner.merchmadeeasy.com/hotblooded

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

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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

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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 markegan.com

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