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New Album: Buster Williams, Unalome

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Buster Williams, Unalome…

Legendary Bassist/Composer Buster Williams Celebrates 80 Years (and Counting) Along a Path to Musical Enlightenment on his Stunning New Album Unalome.

Available via Smoke Sessions Records, Unalome Features Vocalist Jean Baylor, Saxophonist Bruce Williams, Vibraphonist Stefon Harris, Pianist George Colligan, and Drummer Lenny White.

For those unfamiliar with the meaning of the title of the gorgeous new album from legendary bassist/composer Buster WilliamsUnalome, or the lotus flower-topped symbol that graces its cover – “Unalome” is a Buddhist symbol representing individual transcendence and the path to enlightenment over the course of one’s life.

It is a guiding concept that Williams, a long practicing Buddhist himself, has been exploring throughout his life and career. The idea came vividly to life on his forward-looking new album. “It seemed to express perfectly the mood or the collective spirit of the music on this particular project,” Williams explains. “I believe that your life should be a succession of steps, and that those steps should be along an ascending path.

Unalome is the latest step along what has certainly been a storied path. One of the most revered bassists of the last half century, the Grammy-winning Williams has played, recorded, and collaborated with such jazz giants as Art Blakey, Chet Baker, Chick Corea, Dexter Gordon, Jimmy Heath, Larry Coryell, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Sonny Rollins, Count Basie, Errol Garner, Freddie Hubbard, and countless others. He was a charter member of Herbie Hancock’s groundbreaking Mwandishi band and the all-star Thelonious Monk tribute ensemble Sphere.

Williams’ playing has always been remarkable for being as tasteful and nuanced as it is bold and adventurous, which has made him the accompanist of choice for vocal greats like Nancy Wilson, Betty Carter, Carmen McRae, and Sarah Vaughan. Those experiences in part inspired the ensemble that Williams assembled for Unalome, which features vocalist Jean Baylor along with a stellar group featuring saxophonist Bruce Williams, vibraphonist Stefon Harris, pianist George Colligan, and drummer Lenny White.

Along with her husband, drummer Marcus Baylor, Jean co-leads The Baylor Project, whose inspired debut album Be a Light garnered Grammy nominations in both jazz and R&B categories. She also was a pioneer of the neo-soul movement as half of the platinum-selling Motown Records duo Zhané.

Colligan and White have been Williams’ rhythm section of choice for the last two decades, with his relationship with the drummer stretching back even further and including collaborations not only in each other’s bands but in groups led by Wallace Roney, Cyrus Chestnut, and a number of others. Renowned for his membership in the landmark fusion group Return To Forever, White has also served notable tenures with Stanley Clarke, Geri Allen and Larry Coryell. Colligan, meanwhile, has released more than 30 albums as a leader alongside brilliant work with jazz greats like Jack DeJohnette, John Scofield, Ravi Coltrane and Cassandra Wilson.

Besides his longstanding relationship with Buster, Bruce Williams (no relation) has worked with such jazz legends as Little Jimmy Scott, Frank Foster, Stanley Cowell, Curtis Fuller, and Roy Hargrove, and was recruited into the elite ranks of the World Saxophone Quartet. Buster first met Stefon Harris more than 25 years ago at the urging of trombonist Steve Turre, who raved so highly about the young vibraphone wizard that Williams hired him sight unseen for a gig at now-defunct NYC club Sweet Basil.

Unalome begins with Williams’ dazzling original “Stairways,” with Baylor’s wordless vocals fusing beautifully with the frontline on the tune’s optimistic melody. It was one of three pieces the bassist penned especially for the session, another being the aching ballad “In the Middle of a Rainbow.” The memorable melody is one that had been in Williams’ mind for some time, but he dreamed up the lyric on the drive to the studio just before recording. While he’s long been an acclaimed composer, Williams began to find himself as a lyricist more recently – one of the steps along that ascending pathway he’s traveled.

“I used to think that I couldn’t write lyrics,” he says. “I wouldn’t even try. But when I wrote the title track and ‘Air Dancing’ for [the 1989 album] Something More, lyrics started coming to me. I don’t put barriers up anymore to say, ‘I can’t do this.’ I’d rather say, ‘Up till now I haven’t.’ Rather than, you know, I can’t. That’s been part of my growth, and it’s very refreshing because it lets me know that doors are not locked. Doors are there to be opened.”

The third new piece, the ethereal “The Wisdom of Silence,” is one that Williams says is still unfinished, which presents another door still to be opened. “I like that, because I’m excited to see where it’s going to go.” The composer also reached into his back catalogue for “Tayamisha,” a piece named for Williams’ daughter that he originally recorded on the 1975 album Pinnacle and later with both The Timeless All Stars and Sphere. It was revived here at the behest of his bandmates.

The Brazilian classic “Estate” is another piece that Williams associates with The Timeless All Stars, thought not from performing it with the band, which also featured Cedar Walton, Billy Higgins, Harold Land, Bobby Hutcherson, and Curtis Fuller. “We did a summer tour of Italy, and I remember riding in the tour bus through the beautiful landscape full of vineyards and spacious land. We were listening to the brilliant Brazilian guitarist João Gilberto’s album Amoroso, and he sang ‘Estate.’ I just loved it; it became one of my favorites. So when I had the opportunity to have Jean sing on the album, I chose ‘Estate’ and ‘Here’s To Life.’ for her.”

The latter was the signature song of Shirley Horn, another immortal vocalist who Williams worked with. Baylor chose “I’ve Got the World on a String,” while the unusual, moody arrangement of “42nd Street” suggests not the hectic vitality of the metropolis but the alluring romance of life in the city. Williams introduced the song into his repertoire when he was invited to lead the NYC-centric Empire State Building Jazz Orchestra.

At 80 years of age, Buster Williams shows no sign of slowing his climb along that ascending path. Unalome brilliantly reflects how far he’s come while looking eagerly head to future chapters. “As I get older, I discover that there’s more over the horizon than you think,” he declares. “The horizon may look like the end, but the closer you get the more you realize that you’ll never reach it. What you can see from where you are seems to be limited, but with each step you see more and more.”

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New Album: Orlando le Fleming, Wandering Talk

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New Album: Orlando le Fleming, Wandering Talk

Bassist, band leader, and composer Orlando le Fleming continues to make music that crosses genres as readily as he crosses the Atlantic, with this new album ‘Wandering Talk’, to be released physically on 23rd August via the UK’s premiere jazz label, Whirlwind Recordings.

After 20 years in New York City, he’s back in his native UK, forging new pathways and renewing old partnerships. His love for the acoustic tradition continues unabated alongside his deep affection for the robust, muscular electric fusion that emerged in the 1980s, and he has received critical acclaim from media including The Guardian, Financial Times, Jazzwise, and All About Jazz among others. He has also toured and recorded with some of the world’s greatest jazz musicians including Branford Marsalis, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Antonio Sanchez, Ari Hoenig, and Wayne Krantz.

The Romantic Funk project was born in New York’s legendary 55 Bar to explore that legacy: now the new album ‘Wandering Talk’ builds on the critical acclaim generated by ‘The Unfamiliar’ (2020), building on the framework with a set of collaborators that brings together London and New York, past and present, acoustic, and electric, and merges it all into a spectacular whole.

Following the same principles that served the project in NYC, le Fleming booked four Friday nights at London’s renowned Vortex Club to workshop the music that would become the album, with a rotating cast of players which he honed down into the final line-up. Old London friends Tom Cawley (piano/keys) and James Maddren (drums) completed the rhythm section. New acquaintance Nathaniel Facey was picked from the ranks of the UK’s brightest young saxophone players. NYC stalwart Philip Dizack flew in from the US to play trumpet and reaching back to Orlando’s school days and forward to his own family, one-time classmate Chris Martin (Coldplay) and his own daughter Nadia combined to provide vocals on a special setting of Rumi’s poetry.

As before, the music combines fusion’s flash and fire with a contemporary sensibility. This time, Orlando’s questing spirit sends his superb band forward to investigate fresh areas of creativity in dynamic and texture.

Visit online at orlandolefleming.com

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Album: John Entwistle, Rarities Oxhumed – Volume Two

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Album- John Entwistle, Rarities Oxhumed - Volume Two

Album: John Entwistle, Rarities Oxhumed – Volume Two

Rarities Oxhumed – Volume Two is the second of the series of posthumous releases coming from John Entwistle.

Rarities Oxhumed – Volume Two is a compilation that was curated by drummer Steve Luongo, who served as John Entwistle’s producer, bandmate, business partner and good friend for many years. As Luongo states, “When I agreed to do two volumes of John Entwistle rarities, I knew volume two had to be even better than volume one. It is!” The collection of songs on Volume Two are from his years with the John Entwistle Band and include re-mastered versions of studio tracks including “Endless Vacation”, alternate mixes of tracks like “Sometimes”, and live tracks including The Who cuts “Real Me”, “Long Live Rock” and an epic version of “Young Man Blues”. The latest preview track to be released is the Who cut “Had Enough.”

Listen to “Had Enough” here: push.fm/ps/hadenough

Rarities Oxhumed – Volume One was quickly embraced by longtime fans as it featured gems like “Bogey Man” featuring Keith Moon, “Where You Going Now” (demo for the Who), and a raw live version of “Trick of the Light” recorded during the John Entwistle Band’s final tour in 2001. Deko Entertainment is thrilled to have been able to bring both volumes of this unearthed music of John Entwistle to the fans and forever solidify him as one of the greatest rock musicians ever.

For more information, visit online at dekoentertainment.com/john-entwistle

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Album Review: Mark Egan, Cross Currents

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Album Review: Mark Egan, Cross Currents

Mark Egan, Cross Currents…

It is exciting every time I get a new album from Mark Egan as he is such an amazingly versatile player and I never know what to expect (except for excellent artistry!) In his latest release, Mark has teamed up with Shawn Peyton on drums and Shane Theriot on guitar to bring us “Cross Currents”.

This collection of eleven tracks transports me to the Gulf Coast (New Orleans specifically). Mark’s fretless basses lay down a solid groove and lots of juicy solo work for this rootsy collection of funk, ambient, swamp-rock, second line, ballads, Cajun and even Indian Raga.

This trio is super-tight and the musicianship is flawless as each member has ample opportunity to shine. Even though each player is very talented in their own right, I feel that the collective energy is greater than just the sum of the players on this album. Each musician contributed to composing music for this project but the lion’s share are Mark’s original pieces.

I spent the summer of 1981 in New Orleans and this wonderful music takes me back to those fond memories. I participated in a wacky raft race on Lake Ponchatrain and this opening track elicits images of fun, sunshine, music, and great food.

This is another superb album that everyone will enjoy. Get your copy today! Cross Currents is available online at Amazon.com. Visit Mark online at markegan.com.

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New Project: NEMESIS CALL Announce “Kingdom of Shred” Album

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New Project: NEMESIS CALL Announce "Kingdom of Shred" Album

ALBERTO RIGONI’s New Project NEMESIS CALL Announce “Kingdom of Shred” Album, Feat. Super Talented Guests Such as Mike Terrana, Alexandra Zerner + Many Others

Worldwide known Italian bassist and composer ALBERTO RIGONI (soloist, BAD As, Kim Bingham, Vivaldi Metal Project, etc.) announces the new album “Kingdom of Shred” of his new project NEMESIS CALL. 

Alberto says: 
“Even if my latest album “Unexpected Lullabies”, dedicated to my newborn Vittoria Parini Rigoni, was released on June 4th 2024, I felt the need to compose new music (yes, I really can’t stop!). This time will be quite challenging because I’m willing to release an instrumental shred/prog/rock/metal/melodic album, that will feature many talented top-notch musicians such as drummer Mike Terrana, Alexandra Zerner, Alexandra Lioness, Aanika Pai (11 years old!), Keiji by Zero (19 years old!), SAKI and many others TBA/TBC). It won’t be easy to manage all such great musicians but I will make it! Are you ready to face a new prog experience? The album will be released in Digipack CD and in high-quality digital format approximately at the beginning of 2025 or maybe for Christmas!.”

As an independent artist, Alberto Rigoni has launched a fundraising campaign to support the project. Support at www.albertorigoni.net/nemesiscall. 20% of the income will be donated to Lega del Filo d’Oro (www.legadelfilodoro.it/it), an Italian association that helps deaf and blind children!

Visit online at www.albertorigoni.net | albertorigoni.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/albertorigonimusic | www.badas.rocks

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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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