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New Album – Brian Bromberg Celebrate Me Home: The Holiday Sessions

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New Album - Brian Bromberg Celebrate Me Home: The Holiday Sessions

Brian Bromberg Celebrate Me Home

World-Renowned Bassist and Producer Brian Bromberg Celebrates Being Home – and Nowhere Else – for the holidays with New Album, Recorded in Quarantine – Celebrate Me Home: The Holiday Sessions.

The album Features an Eclectic Mix of Songs in a Wide Array of Styles, with an All-Star Cast Including Najee, Everette Harp, Maysa, Elan Trotman and Chris Walker.

For a virtuoso jazz bassist and world-renowned producer, quarantined in his Southern California home during a global pandemic and contemplating an uncertain future, the holidays would seem to be the last thing on one’s mind.

The chameleonic Brian Bromberg has never been one to follow the expected path, however. With live gigs canceled and the opportunity for collaboration complicated by social distancing, Bromberg virtually assembled a stellar cohort of musicians to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year on Celebrate Me Home: The Holiday Sessions.

Available now on Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Music GroupCelebrate Me Home takes its title from the Kenny Loggins classic, co-written by Bob James, which feels all the more poignant given our current circumstances. Gorgeously expressed by vocalist Chris Walker, the song achingly captures the yearning for a return to familiar surroundings and loved ones that many of us are feeling right now, regardless of the season.

“It’s an incredible song, and it absolutely fits this moment,” Bromberg says, admitting that tackling beloved Christmas songs in isolation made for an unusual challenge. “We can’t go anywhere, we can’t do anything; we’re all stuck dreaming about all the things we’d rather be doing, the fun we’d love to be having, but we just can’t. So, we had to figure out how to create a vibe and an experience while we’re stuck in this weird place. On the flip side of that, I don’t think this record would have happened the way that it did had I not been in quarantine. This made it possible to take a dark place and turn it into a light place, which became my saving grace.”

The album’s joyous spirit belies the conditions under which it was created. The sessions were conducted piece by piece, with each musician contributing from their home studio, or in isolation at a studio of choice. To transcend those limitations, Bromberg invited an all-star roster of special guests: vocalists Walker and Maysa, saxophonists Everette HarpElan Trotman and Gary Meek, flutist Najee, guitarist Ramon Stagnaro and steel pan master Kareem Thompson. They join a remarkable band of longtime collaborators that includes keyboardist Tom Zink, guitarist Ray Fuller, saxophonist Andrew Neu, drummers Tony Moore and Joel Taylor, and percussionist Alex Acuña.

Longtime Bromberg fans have become familiar with the versatile bassist’s whiplash shifts in style and approach from one project to the next over the course of his four-decade career.

His recordings span big band swing and smooth jazz, Latin rhythms and tender balladry, raucous funk and blistering rock (the holiday album’s release, in fact, coincides with the remixed and remastered reissue of his 2012 album Bromberg Plays Hendrix, a muscular tribute to the late rock icon). But Celebrate Me Home brings Bromberg’s many facets together for a musical holiday party where jazz mingles with calypso and R&B meets swing under the mistletoe.

That stylistic diversity is in keeping with the eclectic choice of material on the album, which includes many of the expected Yuletide classics (“The Christmas Song,” “Deck the Halls”) but also such pop hits as Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” and Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime,” José Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad,” a smash hit that is rarely reprised, and a pair of heartfelt original compositions.

Bromberg is the first to admit that the idea of recording a Christmas album had never crossed his mind.

He had contributed to other artists’ Christmas albums, including projects by David Benoit and Brian Culbertson, and knew that radio was always hungry for new songs of the season as the end of the year came into sight. He was also urged to get into the spirit by his fiancée and her best friend, so eventually gave in and recorded a finger-snapping swing rendition of “Let It Snow,” featuring a duet between Walker and Maysa. “It was so much fun,” Bromberg says, “I decided to take this more seriously. It allowed me to be creative and jump into Latin jazz, big band jazz, swinging straight-ahead jazz, funky stuff and R&B jams, all on one record and get away with it.”

A smooth, soulful version of “This Christmas” opens the album, with Bromberg playing the silky melody on nylon-string piccolo bass. McCartney’s polarizing “Wonderful Christmastime” follows, with Bromberg tipping his Santa cap to the ex-Beatle’s legacy with an homage to “All You Need Is Love” in Andrew Neu’s horn arrangement. The entrance of sleigh bells segues into the wintry landscape of Bromberg’s first original, the warmly embracing “Let’s Go On a Sleigh Ride!”

The open fire roasts more than chestnuts on a romantic reimagining of “The Christmas Song,” while Bromberg gives “Jingle Bells” a cultural twist as a medley with “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel,” along with the Barbados-born Trotman and Thompson’s steel pans transforming both songs into a tropical calypso culminating at the end in “St. Thomas.” Bromberg shows off his impressive drum skills as he sets the pace for a brisk, swinging hybrid of “Deck the Halls” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” before slowing things down for the original ballad “Holidays Without You.” Stagnaro and Acuña add a Latin feel to “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “Feliz Navidad,” while Bromberg’s acoustic bass and Neu’s baritone sax stand-in for Thurl Ravenscroft’s snarl on “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

For all of the improbabilities facing its creation, Celebrate Me Home ended up being a lively and deeply felt project of which Bromberg is deservedly proud. “The one thing that I hope people will hear on the record is honesty,” he concludes. “I really think you can hear that we’re all having fun and that my heart was in it, 100 percent.”

For more information, please visit BrianBromberg.net

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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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New Album: Christian de Mesones, You Only Live Twice

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New Album: Christian de Mesones, You Only Live Twice

Christian de Mesones, You Only Live Twice…

Reborn, Reimagined and Remixed: Jazz funk bassist Christian de Mesones returns with “You Only Live Twice,” a new album dropping April 12 that contains the Billboard No. 1 hit “Hispanica” featuring keyboard legend Bob James.

A lifetime ago, Christian de Mesones was a New York City cabbie and heavy metal bassist who had a voracious appetite for the seedy decadence the Big Apple’s music scene was known for in the 1980s. Determined to change his life, de Mesones did a complete one-eighty, got clean and changed his musical muse to jazz funk. Dedicating his “second life” to pursuing his newfound passion for contemporary jazz and deep soul grooves spiced with Latin rhythms, de Mesones will release his second album, “You Only Live Twice,” on April 12 on the That 555 Lyfe label. Christopher Valentine produced nine of the album’s ten tracks, all but one of which are original songs written or cowritten by de Mesones.

de Mesones’s turnaround began decades ago, but it wasn’t until March of 2020 that he finally assembled his solo debut album, “They Call Me Big New York,” just as Covid-19 put the world on lockdown. Three singles from the set, “Big Tall Wish,” “Spirit” and “Latin Jive Redux,” landed on three national charts. However, pandemic restrictions limited de Mesones’s opportunities to promote the project and grow his brand.

A year later, de Mesones released a sultry Latin-tinged cut titled “Hispanica.” A British DJ sent the song to two-time Grammy-winning keyboardist Bob James, who agreed to play piano on the track. The single went to No. 1 on the Billboard chart, de Mesones’s first.

“I have always believed in the power of composition. One song can change the world. In my case, one of my own compositions forever changed mine. Before releasing ‘Hispanica’ as a single, I felt it was my strongest composition to date. It was featured on my previous album as a vocal track, and on the advice of my radio promoter, it was reimagined as an instrumental. I immediately knew I wanted a piano for the melody. Having the legendary Bob James play on it was a fairytale come true. It has become one of the most meaningful experiences of my career,” said de Mesones.

de Mesones dropped the follow-up single, “In His Vision,” in 2022. He wrote the rousing tune on which his bass takes on lyrically expressive qualities and gets a boost from saxophonist Eddie Baccus Jr.’s impassioned play.

“This song written for and inspired by my father-in-law was a challenge for me. I wanted to play the melody and do it justice. It had to have that Wayman Tisdale vibe, so last minute before the recording, I changed to piccolo gauge strings, giving me the sound I envisioned. Eddie Baccus Jr.’s sax put the song over the top, giving it exactly what I thought it needed,” explained de Mesones.

A movie buff, de Mesones is a big James Bond fan and the secret agent’s presence is felt twice on the album, including on the title track, which was released as a single last year. The production and arrangements are sprawling on the track “You Only Live Twice,” layered with majestic horn section parts and a dreamy vocal chorus.

“The album’s title track holds multiple meanings for me. Putting aside my love for the classic James Bond film with this title, it perfectly represents my second album release as a solo artist as well as the album artwork featuring my custom double neck bass. This song was composed many years ago and has come to fruition at a time when I have found true love and real purpose in my life. I believe in second chances, and love is definitely sweeter the second time around,” said de Mesones who is married to his producer’s sister, Jennifer Valentine.

A fourth single prefaced the album with the release of “Don Pedro” last year. Written in memory of his late father, the contemplative ballad is as beautiful as it is emotional. Two-time Grammy-winning vocalist David Blamires provides a haunting wordless caress throughout the track led by Jaared Arosemena’s soprano sax.

“My personal favorite track on the album captures the essence of my father who was a larger-than-life figure to me when I was a child. As I grew older, we had our difficulties, as many sons and fathers do, but I was blessed to be able to mend our relationship in his later years. Through the completion and release of this song, which I toiled over for years, I found a way to keep his spirit alive and with me everywhere I go,” de Mesones shared.

For the other Bond-connected song on the album, de Mesones reinterprets five-time Academy Award winner John Barry’s “Capsule In Space,” setting it to a funky Latin modern-day groove. Michael “Arch” Thompson’s spiraling flute work adds a floating sensation.

“I love the orchestration and composing skills of John Barry and loved using this music to accompany the visuals for my live shows. This song is a bit sentimental, too, as it conjures memories of growing up in Brooklyn and my father and grandmother taking me to see James Bond movies. Creating an urban take on this masterpiece was a lot of fun,” de Mesones shared.

Other tracks on the album are the seductive jazz funk prowl of “Sexy Beast”; the mighty five-bass attack “Throb!” on which de Mesones formed a brotherhood of bassists with Bill DickensBrendan RothwellAndrew Gouche and Vail Johnson on this revamped track that originally appeared on his debut disc; “Arrival,” an exciting, exuberant and explosive space jam that de Mesones plans to use to open his concerts; the sensual “Stay,” an R&B single illumined by Nes Powers’s distinctive voice; and “Sweetnight,” which de Mesones converted from a vocal tune into an instrumental.

“‘Sweetnight’ went through more changes than any other song in my entire repertoire. This instrumental version represents what I hear when I close my eyes and imagine a world where love rules all things,” de Mesones described.

Brooklyn-born and bred, de Mesones relocated to a sleepy town in Virginia as he rebuilt his life. He made his concert debut at the Capital Jazz Festival near Washington, DC in 2006 and has persevered ever since to get to the next level. “You Only Live Twice” is a big album on multiple levels. Valentine’s elaborate production and crafty arrangements give the project a grand sound design. de Mesones’s rubbery basslines, dynamic rhythms and equanimity when it comes to sharing the spotlight with an accomplished collective of first-call musicians in service to the song has equipped him with a next-level album meriting a major breakthrough.

“After my days of living a lifestyle of excess, now being surrounded by such loving, supportive friends, family, and fans feels like a rebirth. And my life is so much sweeter the second time around. From sex, drugs, and rock and roll to smooth grooves and funky Latin soul, my feet are now on solid ground. And I’m here to tell you, it’s true: your best life is not in the rear-view mirror.”

de Mesones’s “You Only Live Twice” album contains the following songs:

“You Only Live Twice”
“Sexy Beast” with Bill McGee and Rob Maletick
“Throb!” (Bass Godz Remix) featuring Bill Dickens, Brendan Rothwell, Andrew Gouche and Vail Johnson
“Arrival”
“Stay” (Big New York Remix) featuring Nes Powers
“Sweetnight”
“Capsule In Space”
“In His Vision” featuring Eddie Baccus Jr.
“Hispanica” featuring Bob James
“Don Pedro” featuring Jaared Arosemena

For more information, please visit bignybassworld.com.

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Album Review: Brian Bromberg, LaFaro

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Album Review: Brian Bromberg, LaFaro

Brian Bromberg, LaFaro…

Scott LaFaro was an extraordinary upright bass player who we lost in 1961 at the age of 25. Even though he was a young bassist he worked with the Bill Evans Trio from 1959 to 1961; he was an exceptional musician and his bass work was lightyears ahead of his time.

Brian Bromberg has teamed up with pianist Tom Zink and drummer Charles Ruggiero to produce a tribute album to this legendary player. We are treated to a dozen tracks (with three bonus tracks on the digital platforms) that were Bill Evans Trio standards. While the original band’s work inspired Brian, this tribute album is not an attempt by the musicians to replicate the music but to organically express themselves on these tunes. When you listen, you may note that it doesn’t sound like LaFaro and it isn’t supposed to.

As I have noted on many of Brian’s previous albums, the bass work (all upright here) is extraordinary and he knows how to get a crystal-clear sound. Every note is pristine and balanced perfectly with the piano and drums. Brian’s approach to recording upright bass should be the golden standard for all upright players. He also handpicked the other members of this trio and they are excellent musicians who really deliver the goods.

If you would like more insight into this album, I can share that in my cover interview with Brian, coming soon.

The projected album release date is April 5, 2024, and will be available at www.brianbromberg.net

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New Album: Iron Axxis, 2286

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New Album: Iron Axxis, 2286

Iron Axxis, 2286…

New York’s metal scene is growing and mighty, and bringing the genre to new heights is instrumental metal band Iron Axxis.

Iron Axxis is gearing up for the release of their forthcoming album 2286. Due out March 29, 2024, the album highlights the band’s unique progressive, guitar-driven songwriting. “The sound is closer to Dream Theater than Van Halen, but there are some neat tips of the hat to Eddie, with some playful bends and whammy bar horse whinnies, while the track also crosses into Vai-esque meditative phrases and Holdsworthian scalic runs.” (GuitarWorld)

The band states, “‘‘2286’ is our first full-length album release. The album blends the high-risk Influences of the ‘guitar & bass guitar virtuosos’ of yesteryear and looks into the future by incorporating modern metal.. for a futuristic take on ‘guitar music. The listener will hear that ‘2286’ runs deep with their favorite metal influences with badass heavy riffage, thundering bass lines, and monstrous drum grooves, all while exploring metal through a wide cinematic lens, which ultimately takes it up a notch to an untamed guitar universe. “

Iron Axxis was forged from a friendship between Anupam Shobhakar and Phil Duke, two metal heads. They have worked together on previous recording studio projects and were in Book of Harmony, which was signed to Sony affiliates. Hailing from Brooklyn, they began to develop Iron Axxis at their studio in 2022.

Visit online at ironaxxis.live

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