Korean-born, New York-based composer / bassist SeaJun Kwon vividly explores moments of change on his breathtaking second album…
A micro-nap is a way to quickly recharge one’s batteries without slipping into a deeper state of slumber. It’s a restful moment somewhere in between waking and sleeping, consciousness and unconsciousness. Korean-born, New York-based composer and bassist SeaJun Kwon delights in such liminal spaces. On Micro-Nap, the second album by his exploratory Walking Cliché Sextet, Kwon and his deeply attuned ensemble navigate constantly changing compositions through a series of elusive, transient moments.
“A micro-nap,” Kwon explains, “is an example of non-linear and broken moments. Usually, these extremely short non-linear moments are dense, noisy, and full of energy… I wanted to expose the liminal space of each micro-ordered moment layered with others, and head towards macro-chaotic surprises. This album reflects my emotional frustrations, non-linearity, the transience of feelings, and the emptiness of noise – as well as my attraction to them.”
The album dropped in October, 2022 via saxophonist Kevin Sun’s Endectomorph Music label, Micro Nap investigates these notions of minuscule changes to reflect the far more monumental transitions that have characterized Kwon’s life and career over the past decade. In a way, it serves as a farewell to his time in Boston, where he moved in 2016 to study at New England Conservatory. The Walking Cliché Sextet is made up of the bassist’s NEC classmates: pianist Erez Dessel, drummer Charles Weller, alto saxophonist Aaron Dutton, tenor saxophonist Jacob Shulman, and trombonist and tuba player Michael Prentky all return from the band’s 2021 debut, Suite Chase Reflex. This time out the piano and drum chairs are shared with Jacob Hiser and Avery Logan respectively, one concrete instance of evolution over time.
The band itself, with its three-horn frontline, is another practical example. Kwon favors the sextet format, he says, because it exists on the boundary between a flexible small group and the intricate arrangements of a big band. “It’s kind of in the middle. In a quartet or a smaller format, we have a lot of freedom and the music can be more abstract. The sextet is still in the small ensemble zone, but it allows for a lot of orchestral options. You might need some arrangements to clean up the sound—or maybe not clean it up, intentionally. It’s fun in that way.”
Kwon is now based in New York City, while his compatriots in the sextet have scattered to various new locales, promising more changes to come either within the sextet or with new projects stemming from Kwon’s new environs. But the bassist’s presence in the States – and on the jazz scene – was a seismic shift that happened fairly rapidly. He first played an upright bass just eight months before enrolling at NEC. Prior to that Kwon had been living in Seoul, South Korea, studying computer science and machine learning and occasionally tinkering with an electric bass, but not actively pursuing a life in music.
That all changed when he took his first acoustic bass lesson, almost on a whim. “I really liked listening to jazz, so I took a lesson. It wasn’t very serious. It became a little serious when I realized that I really liked learning it. I had no formal music education before that. From that point on I had to learn everything very fast. It was like every moment was a moment of change.”
That sensation is captured on “Transient,” the closing track on Micro-Nap and the first piece written for the new album. A professed adherent of avant-grade jazz and contemporary classical composers such as Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, and György Ligeti, Kwon points out that “Transient” may be a more traditional piece than most – it has an almost ballad-like grace as opposed to the pointillist and abstract nature of much of the rest of the album – but there is a steadily accumulating tension that never settles into one place or feeling for too long.
The album is disconcerting from the first, with entrancing piano accompanied by unplaceable stomps and creaking noises on Dessel’s “Muad’Dib.” Prentky contributed the drone-oriented second piece, “Commune,” which explodes halfway through into strident unison horn lines punctuated by machine gun rhythms. The rest of the compositions are the bandleader’s own, from the jagged, angular title track to the chaotic “Anamorphosis No.1,” the meditative “Rumination” to the burly “Trio, Interlude,” no less raucous for the absence of the horn section.
While Kwon is processing a number of very serious ideas through this music, he chose the title Micro-Nap in keeping with the tongue-in-cheek name of the Walking Cliché Sextet. The inspiration for the sobriquet came from the 2002 Spike Jonze film Adaptation., in which Nicolas Cage’s character describes himself with the term during an opening monologue. “He’s ruminating in a loop of clichés,” Kwon describes. “And it was funny—I was emotionally attached to it while also feeling like he’s being too serious about small things when he calls himself a walking cliché. I think ‘walking cliché’ implies both that seriousness and the comedic aspect at the same time.”
Humor and drama, stasis and change, waking and sleep, home and away; Kwon and his music thrive at the juncture of these contradictory states. While he may be constantly on the move, there’s nothing cliché about the music that results.
Visit online at seajunkwonmusic.com
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/
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:
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
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
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 Cotten, HERE 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.
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
New Album: Gerald Cannon, Live at Dizzy’s Club – The Music Of Elvin & McCoy
Celebrated Bassist Gerald Cannon Honors McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones on Live at Dizzy’s Club – The Music Of Elvin & McCoy on January 19, 2024…
Woodneck Records is pleased to announce the January 19, 2024 release of Live at Dizzy’s Club – The Music of Elvin & McCoy by consummate bassist Gerald Cannon. Recorded at the famed Jazz at Lincoln Center venue, Cannon’s latest musical endeavor honors two musical giants: McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones, with whom Cannon proudly played alongside for 14 years, and nine years respectively. Invoking the true essence of McCoy and Elvin, Cannon’s vehicle features an outstanding ensemble of musicians who also shared the stage with these giants: pianist Dave Kikoski, drummer Lenny White, tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, alto saxophonist Sherman Irby, trumpeter Eddie Henderson, and trombonist Steve Turre.
Nothing says ‘lineage’ like a congruence of living legends paying homage to two of the great architects of the jazz art form. To tap into the immense spirit of Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner is no simple task, and no one is more suited to lead such an ambitious outing than bassist Gerald Cannon. Cannon has McCoy’s adventurous harmonic ethos and Elvin’s rhythmic invention spun into the very strands of his own musical DNA. The Music of Elvin & McCoy tells a story about Cannon’s musical journey, chronicling his years with Elvin, McCoy and also the time that he spent with pianist Larry Willis in the Roy Hargrove Band. These mentors were revered by Cannon who acted as the common thread in their ensembles for many years.
Over the course of two evenings, June 3 – 4, 2022, at New York City’s iconic Dizzy’s Club, audiences were treated to many moments of passion, grace and soul delivered by Cannon and his esteemed bandmates. Bassist Buster Williams, who shares storied histories with Jones, Tyner and Willis, remarks in the liner notes: “…this is the quintessence of art. It’s no surprise that this is an exceptional recording. These guys know how to breathe, they know how to trust, they create freedom for each other.”
The album begins with Elvin Jones’ “EJ’s Blues”, immediately showcasing the sheer tightness of the rhythm section and the communication taking place between the frontline players, Cannon, and drummer Lenny White. The group then changes tempos and delivers one of Gerald Cannon’s compositional gems – “Three Elders”. This heart-rending composition demonstrates the bandleader’s deep love felt for Jones, Tyner and Willis. Henderson begins the piece with a solo trumpet intro reminiscent of ‘taps’, in honor of these three fallen heroes who paved the way for us all.
The band delivers a spirited rendition of Elvin Jones’ “Three Card Molly”, a tune that originally appeared on Jones’ Genesis album. Cannon offers a rousing, lyrical solo before shifting into one of McCoy Tyner’s classic compositions, “Search For Peace”. The piece features Lovano and Henderson who both masterfully convey a story with their horns over McCoy’s changes. The piece gains its buoyancy through Cannon and White’s impeccable feel. McCoy’s “Blues in The Minor” begins with Cannon and White, and then the ensemble joins explosively. Kikoski offers a brilliant solo, harkening to McCoy’s fourth-filled voicings and pentatonic refrains. Cannon, Kikoski and White are so locked that they appear to be joined at the hip. Lovano and Irby bring a true fire to this piece with their supple melodic invention.
The band continues with another McCoy Tyner piece entitled “Home”. White’s driving cymbal-work brings a crispness to the piece that is perfectly complemented by Cannon’s deep groove and Kikoski’s left hand. On this piece in particular, one can hear, undeniably, the joy that this group feels playing together. Kikoski’s solo is both insightful and elegant, befitting McCoy’s composition. The group explores an array of dynamics and textures on “Contemporary Focus”. A bombastic, densely harmonic melody section leads to driving solos by Lovano, Turre, and Irby. The dynamics shift when Henderson comes in for a solo and is accompanied only by Cannon and later being joined by the rest of the group. A true ensemble piece!
The group concludes the album with the McCoy Tyner classic “Inception”. The piece features Kikoski who really stretches out and demonstrates his melodic acuity, White and Cannon offering a muscular accompaniment.
Gerald Cannon Live at Dizzy’s Club – The Music of Elvin & McCoy acts as a stellar document, not only of two swingin’ evenings at Dizzy’s, but of the continued impact of masters Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner and Larry Willis on the jazz idiom. With his immense and singular voice on his instrument, Cannon is the living through-line to the sound of the masters, carrying the lineage of the artform forward into present day.
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