(via Sandra Nkaké bewitches with Bowie and Simone at ReVoice!)
"Arguably the unknown quantity at this year’s edition of Georgia Mancio’s excellent ReVoice! Festival, French singer Sandra Nkaké also has an uncommon stage presence. With a high auburn Mohawk figure, black halterneck and red trainers she recalls both the heyday of Neneh Cherry and Grace Jones, and certainly has much of the theatrical, choreographic prowess of the latter. Although stationed behind a keyboard-sampler with duo partner Jerome Dru, who also has the same electronic hardware as well as a flute, Nkaké extends long arms, tilts head and raises shoulder to visually underscore many of the songs and generally looks as much like an actress singing a script as a singer evoking the ways of an actress.
Interesting as this visual element is it in no way overshadows the wonder of Nkaké ’s voice, which has a weighty, full-bodied tone and an operatic upper register in which notes are thinned out and embroidered into existence like lengths of ornate silk. Generously, the singer gives a lot of space to Dru who takes several smart solos on the delicate woodwind instrument, often floating upwards in sync with Nkaké’s voice. Among the original songs an untitled improvisation at the close of the evening is memorable but it is the string of covers that takes up the bulk of the set that really hits home. David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ is a touch on the flashy-cheesy side but enjoyable; Nina Simone’s ‘Four Women’ is harrowing and uplifting in equal measure; The Doors’ ‘Light My Fire’ slightly camp fun as the singer-keyboardists tuck into the slow moving backbeat with aplomb…”
Nkaké’s Nothing for Granted on Jazz Village is on iTunes: http://ow.ly/CWINA Amazon: http://ow.ly/CWIUx
(via Rant ‘N’ Roll: What Is Hip? | The Aquarian Weekly)
"…Lucky Peterson is, indeed, The Son of A Bluesman (Jazz Village). His father James performed in the Buffalo area for years and brought his five-year-old to the attention of Willie Dixon at Chess Records in Chicago. This resulted in a 1969 hit single (“1-2-3-4”) and before he was six, Lucky was on television and had a debut album entitled Our Future: 5 Year Old Lucky Peterson where he played organ and sang. It took 20 more years to make another album (1989’s Lucky Strikes). He also spent three years in The Bobby Blue Bland Blues Band, and another three with Little Milton.
Now a fixture on the Dallas blues scene, he sees this album as a self-produced culmination of a life in music: he does Wilson Pickett’s one-chord “Funky Broadway” as well as Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” (personal to him after battling drugs most of his life). Self-produced, wildly eclectic, with seething, stinging lead guitar and organ (he’s mastered both), the strength of this CD, though, his primal vocals, is enough to win anybody over. The dude just can’t be subtle. He’s a Mack truck driving at you at 100 miles per hour and if you don’t get out of his way, he’s going to flatten you and leave you like a dead skunk in the middle of the road stinkin’ to high heaven. That may not be hip but it sure is funky.”
(via Okayafrica TV: Tony Allen And The Genesis of Afrobeat | Okayafrica. Okayafrica.)
"Today we honor the afrobeat creator, on what would have been his 76th birthday, with Felabrations around the world. Yesterday Fela‘s afrobeat co-founder and longtime drummer, Tony Allen, celebrated the release of his tenth studio album. Film Of Life, produced by French trio The Jazzbastards and featuring appearances from Damon Albarn, Nigerian singer Kuku and Nigerian all-female folk singing group Adunni & Nefertiti, is a ten-track self portrait of the Nigerian percussion pioneer through incursions into bebop, psychedelic pop and, of course, afrobeat. Allen, who has been touring in support of his new album, was recently in New York City, where he hit the studio to lay down his parts for a new project with Antibalas drummer and EMEFE bandleader Miles Arntzen. Okayafrica TV caught up with Allen at Brooklyn’s Daptone Studios to discuss his start in music, Fela Kuti and the beginning of afrobeat, and the influence of James Brown on the continent. Watch the latest episode of OKATV below. Tony Allen’s Film Of Life is out now [in the US] via Jazz Village." okayafrica
Concert Review: Ahmad Jamal is still surprising at 84 - Chicago Tribune
"…He opened with his impressionistic "Autumn Rain," from the "Blue Moon" album of 2012, his pianism a riot of color and surprise. Elegantly voiced chords morphed into sharp snippets of melody, glistening scales climaxed with sudden silences, whispered figures up in the stratosphere of the piano were answered with rumbling double octaves down below…
And yet in the midst of this seemingly free-wheeling music-making, Jamal and friends somehow stopped on a dime at certain junctures, as if it were all preordained. In essence, Jamal’s quartet achieved tremendous freedom within structure, which perhaps is what jazz always has sought to do.
The title cut of Jamal’s “Saturday Morning” album, of last year, sounded even more gestural, Jamal’s quartet creating music that often avoided melody, backbeat, you name it. This was all about atmosphere and color, one lush ensemble sound giving way to another and another. The pianist’s delicate piano figures inspired mists of music from the rest of the band, the players interchanging ideas with remarkable fluidity…”
(via Film of Life - Tony Allen | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic)
"…Film of Life was recorded in France with the Jazzbastards playing and producing, and a slew of guests contributing to its musical mix. It can be heard both as a portrait of Allen’s career as Afrobeat’s bannerman rhythmnatist or — perhaps more accurately — the soundtrack to his own musical innovation and evolution through it. Either way it’s a stone killer. The opener "Moving On" is funky Afrobeat, complete with slippery, percussive guitar vamps, fat brassy horns, a trance-like bassline, and Allen’s signature, hi-hat/tom-tom combination, sparked by his skittering circular snare. His vocal — backed by Audrey Gbaguidi in choral response style — tells his story through his album titles. This would be a gimmick from a lesser musician, but for Allen it’s a volley of truth, pure and simple. Damon Albarn (his bandmate in the aforementioned units) is lead vocalist on the set’s first single, the break-heavy "Go Back." The tune stretches the musical and textural boundaries of modern pop and retro-Philly soul as they encounter African rhythms. Ludovic Bruni’s tightly wound bassline interacts with Allen’s cracking kit in lockstep grooves. The meld of Afro-funk and Far Eastern pop use B-movie tropes. Wah-wah guitars, fuzzed-out basslines, and a cheesy synth melody submit to Allen’s crisp drumming in the role of storyteller, altering their shape and nuance. "Koko Dance" moves in another direction. Blaxploitation’s extreme funkiness is filtered through spaghetti western guitars and the organ-driven vamps of Afrobeat. Taken together, these tunes subvert the trappings of their predecessors and make ’70s Hollywood a racist caricature of itself. American-born Nigerian singer Kuku makes one of two exceptional vocal appearances here (the second is on the brilliant closer "Tony Wood"). As the horns punctuate the choruses, the use of Auto-Tune and dubwise reverb twists everything into perverse, snaky directions. "Ire Omo," with fierce vocals by female vocal ensemble Adunni & Nefertiti, refracts Afrobeat through the source of its original inspiration: James Brown. Its cutting horn lines, wonky clavinet, and Allen’s kinetic kitwork make this jammer irresistible. The ticking hi-hat on "African Mind" introduces the set’s most ferocious track. The spirited dialogues between horns, guitars, fractious bass, vibraphone, hard snap breaks, and circular rhythms goes completely over the top. Fans may not have realized it, but Film of Life provides us with what we’ve missed sorely: Allen as Allen. With the Jazzbastards’ aid, the master drummer has used his entire musical history to create a sound that is vital, urgent, powerful, and sexy as hell."
(via Tony Allen: Fela Kuti, Damon Albarn and me | Music | The Guardian)
"He was the drummer for Fela Kuti throughout the master’s groundbreaking years and has helped shape Afrobeat ever since. Ahead of his new album, Film of Life, Tony Allen chooses five top moments from his 55-year career
Fela Kuti and the Africa 70: Question Jam Answer (1972)
Question Jam Answer was the beginning of Africa 70 finding very strong form. The personnel was changing a lot at that time, but this was a great lineup [including Ayo Azenanbor on bass and trumpet from Tony Njoku]. Fela was writing a lot of good songs at that time, and that’s why it’s difficult for me to say that I like this one more than the other. But Question Jam Answer stands out because of the composition, the way Fela wrote it, and my own drumming – which isn’t a common or a familiar drumming pattern – is something different. The approach that Fela brought when he wrote it was all about letting the music talk, and every time he wrote it was like a challenge to me and I like to face that type of challenge. I’m happy when I rise to it and people hear something and think: “Wow! That’s different.” When Fela wrote Question Jam Answer, some of his friends confronted him about the drumming and said: “Fela, what if this Allenko came to you tomorrow and said he was going to leave unless you gave him more money? You would have to do it because his drumming is too difficult to copy.” Nobody is going to take my place…”
Get Film of Life today on Amazon: http://ow.ly/CKpsq On iTunes on Oct 20: http://ow.ly/CKtX1
Tony Allen's Film of Life is out today!! http://ow.ly/CKpsq He’s featured on the cover of Songlines!
"he curates a thrilling mélange of tribal grooves, jazz and funk that pays homage to his rich musical past but at the same time expands Afrobeat far beyond the parameters he defined with Fela Kuti all those years ago… Albarn contributes to two of the most arresting tracks, ‘Tiger Skip’, a clattering instrumental collision of melodica, dubby effects and complex, supple rhythmic patterns, and ‘Go Back’, a characteristically plaintive Damon Albarn-sung ballad about exile, which Allen drives with jazzy precision.”
Ahmad Jamal is featured in The Chicago Tribune for Friday’s concert at the Symphony Center! http://ow.ly/CouIa
"…the freedom that Jamal declared at the piano more than half a century ago surely opened up new possibilities in sound for any jazz pianist who touched the instrument after hearing him.
No longer would pianists feel tethered to comfortable backbeats, conventional song structures, ornate bebop syntax and the like. Instead, Jamal offered up jagged shards of melody, striking chord clusters, abrupt silences, open spaces and an emphasis on gesture, color and mood. A palpable tension has coursed through Jamal’s recordings and live performances, making his music as gripping as it was innovative.
Remarkably, Jamal at 84 still sounds fresh and perpetually modern at the piano, as his recent performances and recordings have affirmed. Jamal offered up jagged shards of melody, striking chord clusters, abrupt silences, open spaces and an emphasis on gesture, color and mood…
Maybe when Jamal is at the piano he’s taking us on a freewheeling exploration into sound, the pianist darting restlessly from one idea to the next, from one discovery to another. At one moment, he tosses off a technically brilliant passage worthy of Franz Liszt. At the next, he produces an impressionistic series of chords evoking Claude Debussy. Then he swings hard for a few bars before stopping and proceeding to something entirely different…
Jamal’s music bristles with the kind of inventiveness that cannot be taught. It continues to this day, his novel ideas and ferocious spontaneity distinguishing his two recent albums, ‘Blue Moon’ (2012) and ‘Saturday Morning’ (2013).”
Live at The Olympia on Amazon: http://ow.ly/CouU3
(via Ahmad Jamal | Symphony Center | Jazz | Chicago Reader)
When: Fri., Oct. 10, 8 p.m.
Pianist Ahmad Jamal, who turned 84 this summer, has settled into a groove over the last few decades—a kind of late-career sweet spot—usually leading a quartet that masterfully aids him in achieving a flow that’s like a part of nature itself. His sidemen tend to stick with him for years at a time, resulting in a palpable rapport and stop-on-a-dime precision. His current lineup is typically sharp, featuring bassist Reginald Veal and drummer Herlin Riley—both seasoned sidemen for Wynton Marsalis prior to their partnership with Jamal—and journeyman percussionist Manolo Badrena, who has worked with Weather Report, the Rolling Stones, and Carla Bley. They’re all with him on the recently released Live at the Olympia—June 27, 2012 (Jazz Village), a concert recording notable in part because it features collaborations with the late reedist Yusef Lateef, who died at the age of 93 last December. The first of the album’s two discs is just Jamal’s lithe quartet, though, and on both the originals and standards he leads his combo through endless peaks and valleys that include shifts in tempo and sonic densities. Each player gets space to improvise, but the group functions best as a well-oiled ensemble—and that collective attack remains dazzling, more satisfying than the solo work. I listened to the new album right after spending time with the group’s previous studio effort, last year’s Saturday Morning (Jazz Village), in which even Badrena’s overused wind chimes can’t diminish the sudden surges in power you experience when Jamal drops thundering chords into his tune “Edith’s Cake” or chops up and emphasizes specific melody lines on a version of Ellington’s “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good.” —Peter Margasak
220 S. Michigan Ave. LOOP
(via Dallas great Lucky Peterson sings blues Friday in album release show | Dallas Morning News)
"…“I didn’t choose the blues, the blues chose me,” Dallas-based Peterson sings on the title track to The Son of a Bluesman, which he’ll perform Friday night in a CD-release concert at the Granada Theater. “My daddy gave me the blues before I could walk / I played the Hammond organ before I could talk.”
On the flip side is a familiar showbiz tale of early fame that led to early addictions that have chased him ever since.
“Some people can be around those kinds of things at an early age and experiment and be done with it. But I’m not one of those people,” the organist and guitarist says. “I’ll have this sickness for the rest of my life.”
Don’t get him wrong; he’s not complaining. The Son of a Bluesman is filled with hope, joy and resilience, best exemplified by the song “I’m Still Here.”
“I still thank the man up above for not letting me throw the towel in,” he sings in a booming tenor that sounds older and wiser than his 49 years.
Recorded mostly at the Kitchen Studios near White Rock Lake and released on France’s Jazz Village label, The Son of a Bluesman is the first album Peterson has produced by himself. It’s a strong, eclectic work that covers gospel, soul and a dozen shades of blues, from “Boogie-Woogie Blues Joint Party” to a remake of Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “I Pity the Fool.” He alludes to his quest to give up cocaine and booze with a jazzy version of Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now.”
Peterson co-wrote the title track with lyricist Dianne Tucker (of the defunct Deep Ellum club Tuckers’ Blues) in tribute to his late father, James Peterson, who was a blues musician and nightclub owner in Lucky’s native Buffalo, N.Y.
Lucky moved to North Texas in the late 1980s to be with his first wife, and while the marriage didn’t last, his appreciation for Dallas did.
A quarter-century later, he’s perhaps the city’s best-known living blues artist….”