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New Album: Jeff Denson, Brian Blade, Romain Pilon… Finding Light

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New Album: Jeff Denson, Brian Blade, Romain Pilon… Finding Light

The first time that bassist Jeff Denson and guitarist Romain Pilon got together to record with drummer Brian Blade felt like a lightning strike. Like so many musicians before them, the longtime friends from their days as standout students at Berklee experienced what’s often been described as the Blade Factor, a sudden, clarifying jolt that illuminates the musical moment. Captured in the studio on the 2019 Ridgeway Records album Between Two Worlds, the trio’s debut introduced an uncommon communion that seemed destined for further adventures.

Even two years of pandemic angst hasn’t been able to dim their brilliant chemistry. If anything, the trio’s second album, Finding Light, blazes all the more brightly as an antidote to isolation, anxiety, and despair. Slated for release on Denson’s Ridgeway Records label on September 23, 2022, the project beams with the palpable pleasure the musicians take in each other’s company as they explore new music together in glorious trialogue.

Denson spent the first 18 months of the pandemic keeping the California Jazz Conservatory running online as dean of instruction. Though two years had elapsed between the trio’s last tour and regrouping to record Finding Light, they picked up where they left off, exploring a “sound that evolved because we did a lot of playing and travelling together in 2019 and 2020,” Denson said. “Each time we played together the band kept growing and our sound and direction evolved. Our connection kept intensifying.”

That intensity is evident throughout Finding Light. The trio’s new music reflects both the unbridled joy of gathering together again and the small pleasures (particularly the fur-bearing variety) that eased the surreal passage of pandemic time. The album opens with Denson’s “Daily Jubilee of Dancing Herbie D.” an odd-meter tune inspired by his miniature schnauzer, a smart little dog with a big personality. Bouncing with an irresistible groove in the vicinity of New Orleans, it’s an invitation for an outdoor romp written with Blade and Pilon in mind.

Denson’s title track is a sinuous, singing melody and an imperative. The dance between his bass and Blade’s brushes is so deft and exquisite that the tune builds tension to a delicious peak while maintaining an almost whispered dynamic. When Pilon reenters the conversation, “Finding Light” answers its own call. The light we need is embodied in the musical connection. Denson says, “With this tune, I really wanted to encapsulate a sense of hope ­– a sense of finding much need light amidst these dark times we’ve all been living through.”

It’s only kind of a coincidence that Pilon’s first tune is also a paean to his pooch. “This Way Cooky” is a slyly grooving number “inspired by some of the funk music I rediscovered during the pandemic,” he said, thinking particularly of Blade’s work with Joshua Redman. With its fierce determination and sinewy rhythmic feel, Cooky is clearly a handful. “On walks I’m always trying to direct him, ‘this way, Cooky,’ and he never goes the way I want,” Pilon explains.

The trio really hit a high point on their tour in February 2020 reaching a new level of interaction and connection that is clearly evident in their live concert videos from the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley on Feb. 11, 2020. “That tour was a like a musical dream – the trio was on another level!” Denson recalls. “And then less than a month later the world went into a surreal nightmare with the onset of COVID.”  “A Moment in Time” was the first piece composed for the album and with it, Denson paints a sonic surrealist landscape of the unknown – inspired by the novelty of the imposed silence and naivety that it would only last a few weeks. “In those first three weeks of the shelter-in-place, like everyone, I was somewhat in shock, and had no idea it would last for such a long time. Sitting alone in my home studio I kept hearing Romain and Brian in my head from our tour in February and their sound mixed with the silence of the world around me and the feelings of bewilderment brought this piece clearly into focus for me.”

Denson transformed his song “Wishing Well,” which he recorded with his vocals on his 2016 album Concentric Circles, into a mysterious instrumental ballad that fits snugly into the trio’s exploratory mission. His piece “The Tipster” is a briskly swinging tune inspired by a frisky feline companion who long kept his mother company, and passed away this past fall. Swing is central to Denson’s musical identity, “and who can swing like Brian?” he says. “I could hear the melody and like ‘Finding Light,’ there’s all this intricate harmony, and all these rhythmic shifts, which kind of reflects Tippy’s personality. He was a wild, playful guy.”

Drawing on his Virginia roots, Denson improvised the bass intro to Pilon’s “Terre,” evoking a bluesy Americana melody and feeling. The tune itself, which means “Earth” in French, is a loving, sometimes ominous ode to our endangered planet inspired by the striking landscape Pilon and his family have inhabited since a pandemic-induced move from Paris to the Brittany coast. The album closes with a disparate pair of Pilon compositions. “Espoir,” which means “hope,” is a spacious anthem that evokes the search for silver linings. With its rock edge and lean beat, the track offers his distilled take on Brian Blade Fellowship, the drummer’s gospel-and-folk-music inspired band. Finding Light concludes with “Sixto,” a piece inspired by the story of Sixto Rodriguez, the musician whose astonishing story was featured in the award-winning 2012 documentary Searching For Sugarman. For a project that’s all about breaking through darkness, the tune’s stutter-stepping ascent evokes a sense of immanent, luminous possibility.

The creative sparks that kindled Finding Light first ignited back in 2017 when Denson joined a tour anchoring Joel Harrison’s Spirit House quintet, which the guitarist/composer built around Blade. “Brian and I clicked right away,” Denson says. “Immediately we were throwing the ball back and forth really quickly. As a bassist, to have a drummer I can completely react and do anything I want and he’s right there throwing ideas back, well, that’s not a given.” Something about their chemistry prompted Denson to reach out to Pilon, an old friend from Berklee he hadn’t had a chance to play with much in recent years. “He’s a bad dude,” Denson said. “A virtuoso player, but very sensitive and very musical—the same exact words I would use to describe Brian. It just seemed like a perfect fit.”

For more information, visit online at Jeffdenson.com

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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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New Album: Los Lonely Boys first new album in 11 years, Resurrection

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New Album: Los Lonely Boys first new album in 11 years, Resurrection

Today, Los Lonely Boys announce the release of their first new album in 11 years.

Out August 2nd via BMG, Resurrection marks a return to form for the GRAMMY-winning, multi-platinum trio of Texican brothers, who have performed everywhere from the GRAMMYs telecast to the World Series to recent tours with The Who. Lead single “Wish You Would” conjures the group’s classic sound, combining breezy guitar leads with hard-earned doses of wisdom.

“It’s something we think people need to hear—especially the youth,” says bassist/vocalist Jojo Garza, speaking on “Wish You Would” and Resurrection. “When we’re young, we think we have it figured out. When you get older, you start to see things differently. Having kids of our own, we see their ambitions and ideas of what they want to be, so we want to be good parents. The message is, ‘Be careful what you wish for. There could be a false light, and we don’t want you to get hurt’.”

After an extended break from recording, Los Lonely Boys are making a triumphant return with Resurrection. Rejuvenated and more cosmically attuned than ever before, the album rekindles the sonic fire that bonds the Los Lonely Boys brotherhood, while also paying respects to Texas legends like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Freddy Fender, among others. The album was recorded at guitarist/vocalist Henry Garza’s home studio in St. Angelo, TX, and El Paso’s Sonic Ranch (Fiona Apple, Bon Iver, Snarky Puppy etc), and mixed live in Chicago by Chris Gelin at Opus Audio Labs. 

This year Los Lonely Boys will also celebrate the 20th Anniversary of their self-titled debut, which reached double-platinum status and yielded the gold-certified, generational smash “Heaven,” which earned them a GRAMMY Award for Best Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and performance on the awards telecast. The brothers’ follow-up Sacred bowed at #2 on the Billboard 200, paving the way for fan favorites ForgivenRockpango, and Revelation. Along the way, Los Lonely Boys collaborated with legends such as Santana, Willie Nelson, and Dr. John. 

Even as they’ve been away from the studio, Los Lonely Boys have continued to tour tirelessly for decades, and this year they’ve hit the road again for an extensive, months-long run across the US. They will also perform on select shows alongside long time friends Los Lobos. Find tickets here. Pre-order Resurrection

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New Album: Alberto Rigoni, Unexpected Lullabies

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New Album: Alberto Rigoni, Unexpected Lullabies

Alberto Rigoni, Unexpected Lullabies…

ALBERTO RIGONI Springs Surprises on “Unexpected Lullabies” Album, Out Today!

Today, Italian bassist and composer ALBERTO RIGONI has released his new solo album “Unexpected Lullabies” via Sliptrick Records, containing songs that are half-sweet and half rock-metal. The album is produced and partially composed by Alberto Rigoni and it’s dedicated to Vittoria Parini Rigoni and all newborn babies. 

Alberto shared: “There are no just tragedies in this world, life is going on!”

Album Design and Artwork created by Mark Barrett at elmtreecreative.co.uk

Among the various bass used one belonged to Randy Coven for the recording of Ark – Burn The Sun. Alberto searched it for years since he’s a great fan of Randy (Rest in Peace and Power)!

Tracklist:
01. Vittoria
02. Fly Me To The Moon
03. Azzurra
04. Dancing With Tears In My Eyes
05. Out Of Fear
06. Veni Laetitia
07. Nenia
08. Slap Lullaby
09. Saga
10. Vicky
11. Ocean Traveler
12. Strangers In The Night
13. Peaceful
14. Un uomo che voga

Order the album at deadpulse.com/product/alberto-rigoni-unexpected-lullabies/

This album promises to be a collection of auditory wonders, each track a testament to Rigoni’s genius and his ability to transcend musical boundaries. Featuring a symphony of guest musicians alongside Rigoni’s virtuosic bass, Unexpected Lullabies is poised to be a beacon for lovers of music, an invitation to explore the depths of creativity and emotion. 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.

Alberto Rigoni is:
Alberto Rigoni – Bass | Plus various guest musicians

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New Album: Ben Mortiz, MORENO

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New Album: Ben Mortiz, MORENO

The Chilean bassist, producer and sociologist, Ben Mortiz, celebrates the launch of his latest studio work, “MORENO” an album that mixes jazz, soul, and funk following the characteristic Latin style of  Mortiz. The artist completely produced the album under the label “Fallen Lab Records” in the south of Chile.

“MORENO” brings deep and smooth sounds, expressing a sophisticated and elegant Latin vibe. You will find meditative harmonies and joyful melodic voices. The record’s core is the human vibration that Mortiz feels from the Latin American music. The Caribbean rhythms and strong Latin percussions are the musical glue in every song that emerges with the force of the electric bass.

“MORENO” creates a real connection between corporal reactions and mind sensations, always in reference to the originality of Mortiz to fuse modern and classic Latin sounds.

For more information, visit online at danielbenmortiz.com/

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