New releases

  • Alexa Torres: IN SITU

    14th June 2024

    Violinist/ Composer Alexa Torres and her Quartet to release new recording : IN SITU

    In July 2022, Alexa Torres set out on a one-year trip to interview and collaborate with improvising violinists across Belgium, France, and Poland. Her hybrid research and performance sojourn was funded by two prestigious awards: The Presser Graduate Music Award and The Fulbright Grant. Torres recorded her debut album, In Situ, in preparation for this journey, to reflect internally on the sound cultures that shape her personal musical milieu before turning her gaze externally to new soundscapes.

    “In situ is an archaeological term which refers to the original position of an artifact found in place. When I was 21, I spent five weeks excavating Maya ruins in the Belizean jungle. We spent 8 or 9 hours a day digging in the wet dirt, often without finding much. But I remember the sense of awe I felt when I finally dug up an artifact. It was a scraper – a type of tool, carved out of stone. As I held it, I thought about how I was likely the first person to touch it in over a thousand years, and I imagined stories about the people who had used the tool before me so long ago. I wanted to bring that very particular feeling of awe to this album. The term in situ evokes a sense of rediscovery and recontextualization which are processes that I think play a big role in improvisation. It also conveys a feeling of connection between past, present, and future. Artifacts found in situ represent material culture which we use to construct narratives of the past in order to better understand our present and our future.”

    This sense of temporal connection is reflected musically through the textures, improvisational languages, and timbres of In Situ. With a blended acoustic-electric violin sound, Torres’s be-bop lines intertwined with modern diminished and altered vocabulary float over guitarist Wellman’s bright, distinctly contemporary voicings. Further mirroring Torres’s goal of bridging past, present, and future, In Situ brings together original compositions as well as contemporary arrangements of jazz standards. The result reflects an intimate engagement with jazz idioms and with Torres’s own Latinx heritage by synthesizing Latinx rhythms, modern jazz devices, and improvisation.

    “I recorded this album right after I had finished my master’s degree in jazz violin from The University of North Texas. It was real transition moment – I was preparing to leave the country for an extended period of time, I was in the process of moving, and my future was uncertain. And I really wanted to use this record as an opportunity to sit in that liminal space between where you are coming from and where you are going. I wanted to use it as an opportunity to reflect not just on this deep digging into jazz traditions I did in my master’s, and what it means to try to transfer these traditions to the violin, but to move further into the past to also reflect on my Cuban heritage, and on the years I spent living and performing in Chile. I saw this album a sort of excavation of my own past, and also as a deeply personal, multilayered syncretism. When I say this, I mean that I saw it as a way of integrating the different physical spaces I’ve occupied, the various soundscapes I’ve encountered in those spaces, and also of uniting my research and performance practices.”

    In addition to being a professional improvising violinist, Torres is a music researcher with a background in cultural anthropology. “I view my work as an ethnographic researcher and my performance practice as an improvising violinist as intrinsically connected,” she says. “They mutually inform each other.”

    Torres was awarded the Austin Live Music Grant to support the release of In Situ and the album will be available on all streaming platforms on June 14th, 2024. Immediately following its virtual debut,  In Situ is set for a live release concert on June 15th at the Dougherty Arts Center in Austin, Texas. Torres has teamed up with the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center in Austin, TX to offer a community-centered performance that is free to the public, which will be complemented by additional summer release performances in New York City and Austin, TX.

    In December and January 2023-2024, Alexa performed a pre-release tour of In Situ in Chile. During the tour, Alexa played in the cities of Valparaiso and Santiago, performing at some of the country’s top jazz clubs such as Thelonious Lugar de Jazz.

    “My four years living in Chile were really formative for me. I did a lot of growing up in Chile. I learned a lot about myself, and about what I want in life and in music. And so much of this album is about connecting different spaces and times that were important to me, so I was thrilled to be able to do that not only conceptually but also physically by performing this album in Chile with some really great friends and musicians.”

    Torres’s violin is supported by a rhythm section of talented musicians: Mario Wellmann on guitar, Josh Newburry on bass, and Jordan Proffer on drums. Weaving an aural landscape that is both personally and historically grounded, In Situ sculps a sonic bridge between the past and the present, between tradition and innovation, and between musical idioms and cultures.

    Alexa website click here

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  • Espial: The Act Of Noticing

    24th May 2024

    Espial release new album The Act Of Noticing on May 24th 2024, with DISCUS MUSIC

    The Act Of Noticing is an invitation to enter a sound world rich in sonic imagery, evocative atmosphere, and finely wrought detail. This album takes listeners on a journey, at one moment guiding them through changing musical landscapes at high speed, at another inviting them to simply stop and stare.

    Espial emerged from a discussion between David Beebee and myself about how to develop and extend the musical language we had established on our duo album for Discus, “Ripples”. David felt that expanding the group to a trio would be a good idea, and suggested inviting Josephine. Our first session playing together worked very well and so this new ensemble was born. 

    The music on the album is almost entirely improvised. Listening back to the takes, there seemed to be a very evocative, organic quality to the pieces which informed the titling decisions. Just one piece, “… fresh snowfall at dawn”, used pre-composed material as a basis for improvisation. Everything else is entirely spontaneous. Everything is played live, with no overdubs. 

    Espial is an archaic word meaning “the act of noticing”, which seemed hugely appropriate and appealing as the name for an improvising group.

    Josephine Davies - tenor and soprano saxophones
    David Beebee - electric piano / effects
    Martin Pyne - vibraphone / balafon / percussion

    BIOGRAPHIES

    Winner of the 2019 Parliamentary Award ‘Jazz Instrumentalist of the year’, Josephine Davies is a musical artist at the forefront of the UK contemporary music scene. Her current main artistic project is Satori – a sax/bass/drums trio with an emphasis on extended and collaborative improvisation. It is a project that combines her seeking of freedom of expression with an interest in Japanese philosophy and lifestyle. As well as Satori she now leads her own big band ‘The Enso Ensemble’.  She is known for her melodic focus, versatility and unique style which has been described as “consistently inventive” (Jazzwise Magazine), “strong and authoritative” (The JazzMann) and “with winning immediacy” (MOJO Magazine).

    David Beebee is a pianist , bass player, and composer. He leads his own trio, and a quartet playing his own music featuring saxophonist Julian Nicholas, drummer Eric Ford and bassist Jakub Cywinski. He plays in the trio Small Blue , with Marianne Windham and Martin Pyne , who have just released an album The Stealthy Moon,  and he  recently performed on singer Imogen Ryall’s highly acclaimed new album “Charles Mingus / Joni Mitchell Songbook” released on Rubicon Jazz. In addition to his work as a musician David is a highly accomplished recording engineer, and runs his own studio, Beeboss Studio, in Seaford on the South Coast of England.

    Martin Pyne is a versatile musician, playing vibraphone, drums, and a range of other percussion. His own music ranges from free improvisation to relatively straight-ahead jazz, and takes in influences from jazz, world music, Americana, and the avant-garde. He leads a quartet, the trio Small Blue, and performs solo. He has an ongoing song writing partnership with singer Laura Zakian, and records and performs with Martin Archer and Charlotte Keeffe in the group Hi Res Heart. He also works regularly with leading silent film accompanist Stephen Horne. By far the greatest part of Martin’s professional time is spent working with contemporary dance. Martin’s solo album, Spirits Of Absent Dancers, was named by writer Richard Williams in The Guardian, as once of his top albums of 2020.

    Josephine Davies website click here

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  • Allegra Levy: Out of the Question

    20th May 2024

    Jazz Vocalist Allegra’s latest album, Out Of The Question, is out of this world! Set for release on May 20, 2024

    NEW YORK – “How deep is the ocean?” “What is this thing called love?” Jazz singer-songwriter Allegra Levy may not have all the answers, but she sure has plenty of questions. One thing about which there can be no question, though, is that her career is on the rise. Named one of the Top Ten Rising Stars among jazz vocalists in Downbeat’s 2021 Critics’ Poll, she has been dubbed a “double-barreled talent” by JazzTimes, and called everything from “sophisticated, worldly, and swinging” to “the new pin-up girl for cool.” Her latest album, to be released May 20, truly seals the deal. Out of the Question, Levy’s fifth release from SteepleChase Records, is composed entirely of songs in search of answers, from “Where Are You Going?” to Carole King’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” It features an all-star, all-women band, including Carmen Staaf on piano, Allison Miller on drums, and Mimi Jones on bass, with special guests Roxy Coss on sax, Aubrey Johnson on vocals, and Andrew Baird on guitar.

    A Connecticut native now based in New York, Levy has appeared at most of the top jazz venues in NYC, including the Jazz Standard, the Blue Note, Birdland Theatre, Zinc Bar, and the Bitter End. “Fresh … exotic… and far beyond the ordinary,” declared The New York Times of her debut album, 2014’s Lonely City. Ever since, she has continued to pen a collection of harmonically adventurous-yet-familiar originals steeped in the Great American Songbook. Her third album, Looking at the Moon, was an Editor’s Pick in both DownBeat and JazzTimes. Her fourth, Lose My Number: Allegra Levy Sings John McNeil – featuring her own lyrics set to the tunes of renowned trumpeter John McNeil – was lauded in The New Yorker as “a showcase for Levy’s… agile vocalizing and her gift for sculpting words.”

    Last spring, Levy ventured into jazz for the juvenile set with an internationally acclaimed children’s album, Songs for You and Me. Her new record, however, is strictly PG … or maybe even R, for rousing, riveting, and downright raunchy when it comes to her bluesy take on the ‘80s punk rock classic, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” by The Clash.

    This new project was the brainchild of Levy’s longtime collaborator, pianist Carmen Staaf, a winner of the Mary Lou Williams jazz piano competition, who currently serves as musical director for DeeDee Bridgewater. “She pointed out that some of the most beautiful songs are questions, not answers, and I became fascinated with the concept,” Levy says. “As I get older, I find that it really is more about the questions.”

    The question remained what songs to choose. Although there were countless cross-genre standards to choose from — from Irving Berlin’s flapper-era “What’ll I Do?” to Michel Legrand’s haunting 1969 melody “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” — the album also includes two classic instrumental numbers for which Levy wrote lyrics: “Are You Real?” by Benny Golson, and Horace Silver’s “Que Pasa?”

    There are two of Levy’s originals as well, entitled “What’s In a Name?” and “What Are You Waiting For?” The latter is a sort of musical pep talk about going for what you want rather than waiting for dreams to magically come true. “It’s a message I want to pass on to newcomers and other young women on the scene,” Levy says, “to make your own dreams and shape your own existence, because nobody is going to hand it to you.”

    One personal dream come true for her was getting to record with drummer Allison Miller. “She’s been one of my heroes ever since I got to New York,” Levy says. Called “a modern jazz icon in the making” by All About Jazz, Miller is known for everything from leading her own stellar band, Boom Tic Boom, to being a member of the supergroup ARTEMIS. Her frequent collaborators include singers Brandi Carlile, Ani DiFranco, and Natalie Merchant, organ legend Dr. Lonnie Smith, and reedists Anat Cohen and Ben Goldberg, as well as Staaf, with whom she has released two stellar albums.

    Rounding out the band is bassist Mimi Jones, voted No. 2 Rising Star jazz bassist in Downbeat’s Critics’ Poll three years in a row. During her more than two decades as both a leader and sought-after sidewoman, she has worked with everyone from Beyoncé, Dianne Reeves, and DeeDee Bridgewater to Roy Hargrove, Ravi Coltrane, and Terri Lyne Carrington. The combined force of these three phenomenal femme fatales helped inspire the album’s title. “I have this all-female trio that can’t be reckoned with,” Levy explains, “and messing with them is really ‘out of the question.’”

    The same could be said for Levy herself, who continues to accumulate accolades. She was among last year’s winners of the John Lennon Songwriting Competition for Best Children’s Song. She was also a 2023 finalist in the International Songwriting Competition’s Children’s Music category for her song “It’s So Hard to Be You.” Plus, she took first place in the 2019 Great American Song Contest’s Adult Contemporary Music category for her pop tune “Waste My Time.” Yet she is equally known for her jazzy originals and rich, emotive, contralto voice. A graduate of New England Conservatory, she proudly serves on the leadership of the Women in Jazz Organization. She wishes to dedicate this album to her young daughter, Stella Plum, as well as her future son, due this summer, about whom she wonders,“Who will you become?” But in the end, “Sometimes we don’t need all the answers,” Levy says. “We just have to explore the questions.”

    Out of the Question will be available on all major platforms.

    Album Details: Out of the Question

    Release Date: May 20, 2024

    Label: SteepleChase Records

    Out of the Question Track Listing

    1. Are You Real?

    2. What Are You Waiting For?

    3. Where Are You Going?

    4. Should I Stay or Should I Go?

    5. What Is This Thing Called Love?

    6. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

    7. Que Pasa?

    8. What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?

    9. Will You Still Be Mine?

    10. What's In a Name?

    11. How Deep is the Ocean?

    12. What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

    13. What'll I Do?

    Allegra Levy website

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  • BOREAL SUN: Dawn

    17th May 2024

    BOREAL SUN channel broken beat, 70s fusion and acid jazz on highly anticipated debut project!A collaboration between Swedish vocalist Liselotte Östblom (Sput, Ghost-Note) and UK producer/multi-instrumentalist Matt Roberts (Cleo Sol, Jorja Smith), BOREAL SUN are set to release their highly anticipated debut EP via Bridge The Gap on Friday 17th May. It follows the success of singles which drew support from tastemakers including Jamz Supernova and Deb Grant (BBCR6), Gilles Peterson (WWFM), Kev Beadle (TWR) and Tony Minvielle (Jazz FM), as well as recieving widespread airplay across Jazz FM, Rinse FM, NTS and more.

    Formed in London, BOREAL SUN showcases the very best talent of the city’s thriving jazz, groove and independent music scenes. ‘Dawn’ features contributions from bassist/producer Robin Mullarkey (Brotherly, Jacob Collier), percussionist Yahael Camara Onono (Balimaya Project), saxophonist Emma Rawicz, drummer Josh Blackmore (Troyka, SiZE), flautist Gareth Lockrane and many more.

    The group combine syncopated grooves, sweeping orchestrations, uplifting vocal hooks, powerful lyrical themes and explorative improvisations. The result is a rich, captivating sonic landscape that speaks to the breadth of influences, ranging from the 1970’s fusion excursions of Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, to London’s broken beat and acid jazz movements of the 1990’s.

    Scene-setting opener ‘First Light’ flows seemlessly into ‘New Beginning’, where West African influences are channeled into a utopian tale of endless possibilities and opportunities to flourish. Continuing with the theme of utopia, ‘Horizon’ acts as a call to action for fragmented social movements to come together for collective liberation, set against a backdrop of broken, jazz-funk grooves that build into an expansive string chorale.

     Lead single ‘ Code’ explores themes of hedonism and the strains of modern society, presenting a dancefloor-ready concoction of broken beat and 70s fusion. Its frantic grooves dissolve into uplifting soul-fusion cut ‘Gold’, written as a letter to a young child to encourage self-worth and to pursue a brighter future. ‘Can We Take A Moment’ closes the project on a memorable note, relating back to themes from ‘ Code’ and featuring a Brecker-esque saxophone solo from Emma Rawicz.

    Instagram | Spotify | Bandcamp

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  • Vidya: Adi Shakti

    17th May 2024

    Prophone and Naxos Sweden are proud to present Adi Shakti, the third studio album by singer, pianist and composer Vidya-Liselotte Sundberg, known widely as ‘Vidya’. Building on the sentiment of her second album Papillon, Adi Shakti draws upon Vidya’s experience of having searched for, found, then lost her biological Indian mother, followed by the death of her adopted Swedish mother in 2022. The Hindu mantra ‘Adi Shakti’ means ‘Primal Power’, and it was this alongside an extremely moving poem by the 13th century Persian scholar and mystic Rumi that inspired her new music.

    “Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing there is a field, I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down on that grass the world is too full to talk about” - Rumi

    Adi Shakti means ‘Primal Power’ and connects humanity to the vast and infinite divine source inside. The mantra is feminine to its aspect and when chanting the words, it merges the material world into the life giving motherly-energy, that creates all things. Vidya felt that the mantra and the poem harmonize well together, as they are both implying there’s a place beyond all our knowing, where a new world is available. Her new music came to be inspired from this. Speaking about the concept of her new album, Vidya says: “I discovered the Rumi poem in my twenties and after that it circulated in my memory for many years. After experiencing great loss by losing my two mothers, the poem suddenly came back to me in an instant flash. I realised this field is actually a space of freedom…The Adi Shakta mantra keeps the door open to it and from that discovery music started to pour out...”

    Born in Pune and raised in Gavle, Vidya developed her musical prowess at The University of Gothenburg, eventually cultivating a unique style that respected publication Hymn describes as “Genre Free”. This atypical creative journey eventually led to Vidya’s debut album Peace Play, which received a range of complimentary reviews in Swedish music magazines and Dagens Nyheter, the countries biggest and most respected newspaper. Her second album Papillon went on to achieve international acclaim, also being nominated for ‘The Manifest Prize’. Now with Adi Shakti, her very best work to date, Vidya is able to build on a solid foundation with which to gain further global recognition.

    Adi Shakti also features the exceptionally creative musicians Rob Luft on guitar, Magnus Bergstrom on bass, Jon Falt on drums and additional vocals from Lisa Rydberg, resulting in an exciting quintet of musicians who’s dynamic synergy very much shines through on the recording. Speaking about working with Vidya, guitarist Rob Luft says: “Co-composing a piece with Vidya and playing on this album was a real pleasure and a privilege. She’s a hugely talented singer-songwriter and I particularly love the way in which she has given each player huge amounts of musical freedom on this record. There’s ample space for master improvisers Jon Fält & Magnus Bergström to create inventive Nordic jazz textures and rocky grooves, and my own musical voice is ever-present from start to finish.”

    Vidya hopes that her new work will inspire all those who listen.

    Vidya is born in Pune, (India) and grew up in Gävle (Sweden). She is a playful and strongly intuitive singer/pianist/composer/producer. In Vidya’s music the listener get to meet the truth in her voice and a pulsating now. She is a prestigeless musician, guided by a feeling of freedom when singing and playing.. Her music often appears in her dreams... Vidya is educated at the Music University of Gothenburg and her first album Peace Play (2011), received great reviews from several Swedish magazines. Amongst them being Dagens Nyheter - Swedens biggest and most respected newspaper. Her second album The Papillon- (2022) was also very well received and reviewed as, "Satisfying on every level" (All about Jazz) "Genre free” (Hymn) "An original voice in the Swedish music with exciting compositions" (Salt Peanuts) The songs from The papillon has appeared on national, as well as international radio. The Papillon was also nominated for ”The Manifest Prize” which is the independent version of the Swedish Grammis, where she also performed live. Vidya has also collaborated with acoustic bass player Georg Riedel.

    VIDYA website click here

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  • Maddalena Ghezzi and Ruth Goller: Dolomite

    17th May 2024

    Dolomite, the fifth release of Ghezzi’s series Minerals, is a collaboration with acclaimed bassist, vocalist, composer and environmentalist Ruth Goller (International Anthem). Both  linked to the Dolomites mountain range, Ruth and Maddalena reckon with themes around climate change, nature and healing spaces. This is a water journey through a changing landscape.

    The EP is written from the perspective of a particle or water embarking into the water cycle and each time witnessing changes in the environment it passes through. Ghezzi and Goller were inspired by the transient element within nature and its constant motion. The Dolomites were once the bottom of the ocean and now they constitute some of the highest mountains in Europe. What seems static to our human viewpoint, like a mountain range, is instead in constant change. This puts into perspective the full human experience and the balance between stability and instability.

    Seiser Alm (Alpe di Siusi) is the valley where Ruth grew up and Maddalena spent her summers. The mountains, its forests and its stories have a strong influence on both artists. Maddalena spent the last 10 years doing a sort of secular pilgrimage in memory of her father whose ashes were scattered on Plattkofel (Sasso Piatto). Spending some days each year in altitude, immersed in nature, switching off her phone, walking from hut to hut has allowed Ghezzi to heal and to feel small yet part of the magnitude of nature. This has helped to deal with the concept of death and has raised questions about healing. Being in nature is beneficial to our psyche and body, being in nature alone can be inspirational and help tap into creativity but who has access to that? As women, how do we access remote places? If nature is destroyed, forests are screaming and fresh water is a scarcity, can we heal? Aren’t we just killing ourselves? How do we reckon with this?

    The EP is in 4 languages. Ghezzi wrote a poem in English and Italian and Goller translated it in German and Ladino. Italian, Ladino and German are the languages spoken in South Tyrol. After WW1 South Tyrol, prior part of the Austrian Empire, was annexed to Italy and a ruthless Italianization of the area began under the Italian fascist government. In the area all these communities are intertwined not without frictions yet all engulfed in the incredible nature that surrounds them. Singing the same poem in different languages makes it resonate in more directions providing moments of reflections around similarities and differences. Ghezzi is not new to singing in various languages and experimenting with translation. She feels that the strong connection between sounds, languages and meaning has been at the basis of her development as a singer. When Ghezzi asked

    Goller how she felt about singing in different languages, Goller replied: “I love to sing in different languages, however I tend to get a bit nervous about pronouncing languages that I don't speak well, as for instance the Ladino. But then I just have to accept that languages are here for communicating and very fluid in themselves. It's ok to make them a bit our own, mixing with others if it feels necessary. Singing something in Ladino for the first time was near to my heart, as it is the culture I am from.”

    Throughout the EP Goller experiments both with tuning and different bass sounds. In Jole she explores an unconventional bass tuning to create melodies with harmonics on a different harmonic bed. In “I Fliag” Ruth experiments with a short delay.

    In the summer of 2023, Ghezzi recorded the Mediterranean sea in Sicily for Flex and Float, a storm in Val di Dona and a disastrous hail storm in Milan for Volo.Goller and Ghezzi choose to call the tracks: Volo, I fliag and Jole. All meaning “I fly” as it felt organic to them. The track in English is called Flex and Float bringing attention to the motion and constant changeable aspect of water. Water exploitation from the tourist industry has been an issue resident to the valley experience. This has brought Goller and Ghezzi to reckon with our society's priorities and how the accumulation of wealth seems to often be the main concern instead of the balance with nature.

    The single Flex and Float is accompanied by an animated collage technique video by art collective Libri Finti Clandestini and photographer and filmmaker Tanguy Bombonera who created a collage video using original photos from the Ghezzi’s family archive. People become containers of nature to symbolise our belonging to the environment.

    Dolomite was home recorded

    Compositions: Ruth Goller and Maddalena Ghezzi

    Production: Ruth Goller and Maddalena Ghezzi

    Lyrics: Maddalena Ghezzi

    Translation (Italian): Maddalena Ghezzi

    Translation (German and Ladino): Ruth Goller

    Mix: Pietro Cavassa a.k.a. Anything Pointless

    Master: Nick Powell

    Released under DēngYuè Records

    Video: Libri Finti Clandestini and Tanguy Bombonera

    Supported by LaMunt (premium mountain clothing created by women for women) and VAIA (innovative sustainability project)

    Photography, makeup and styling: Sara Polonghini

    Maddalena Ghezzi website click here

    Ruth Goller website click here

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