New releases

  • 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

  • Meg Okura and Kevin Hays: Lingering

    10th May 2024

    Two Jazz Visionaries, Violinist MEG OKURA and Pianist KEVIN HAYS, Release Debut Duo Album Lingering on Adhyâropa Records in Celebration of National Chamber Music Month

    “Meg and Kevin connect on so many levels. The repertoire varies, from composed songs to purely improvised pieces. Kevin is in excellent form, and Meg demonstrates her wide range as one of the premier violinists, jazz or otherwise, of our time.” – Jim McNeely, jazz composer-pianist

    Hailed as “the queen of chamber jazz (All About Jazz),” Tokyo-native violinist Meg Okura and American jazz pianist Kevin Hays celebrate the release of their debut album as a duo, Lingering on Adhyâropa Records. With recognition such as the highly competitive Jazz Road Tours grant, which took them over 5,000 miles to Hawaii, Okura and Hays have been collaborating for a decade since their serendipitous encounter on a New York City bus in 2014. Lingering showcases the remarkable synergy and confidence they share, evident from their transcendent exploration of musical possibility. They engage in a musical dialogue using only the raw essence of two instruments without overdubs or effects, exploring a spectrum of textures and tones, inviting listeners into unfiltered emotions of intimacy and vulnerability.

    For Hays, whose discography boasts numerous duo projects with jazz contemporaries such as Brad Mehldau, Lionel Loueke, and Bill Stewart, the connection with Okura was immediate and undeniable**.** Their collaboration, unlike many others, is not born from shared musical associations or cultural backgrounds. Hays and Okura hail from disparate musical traditions – Hays, a jazz pianist with a sound steeped in the post-bop and modern jazz tradition, boasts a storied career working with luminaries such as Sonny Rollins and John Scofield, while Okura's journey from concert violinist to rising star in the world of jazz composition has earned her acclaim from the likes of the International Society of Jazz Arranger and Composers.

    *“Kevin grounds me in a gentler, earthier realm, as his aesthetic is deeply rooted in traditions, extending from post-bop to Americana, and reaching farther back to the works of J.S. Bach. When playing so freely as a duo, even on written pieces, my perfect pitch becomes a lifeline, seamlessly catching every chord while my instincts anticipate his next move. When I go into the Bach-like counterpoint, Kevin catches me within two beats and starts creating his counter melody. Kevin knows how to trust his duo partners and, more importantly, his adeptness in creating music no matter what happens during a tune or lack thereof. I love this attitude and the challenge that comes with it! It’s an adventure that I welcome!” *

    Throughout Lingering, Okura and Hays weave a tapestry of sound and emotion, from melancholic beauty to haunting echoes to boundless expressions bursting with dynamism. The album comprises 11 short melodies by Okura, including “Seven Short Pieces” — a Jewish-influenced suite written for this duo during the Pandemic. “Waltz for Wollesen,” by Hays has previously been recorded on his 2019 album Where Are You with Mark Turner and Marc Miralta. In this duo version, the piece takes on new life, and they recorded what Okura calls the “Brahms’s version of Kevin Hays.” The album also includes two entirely improvised tracks demonstrating just how differently the duo approaches free improvisation. Even within the composed pieces, Okura leaves ample room for interpretation and improvisation. Drawing inspiration from both classical and jazz composers from Olivier Messiaen to Oliver Nelson, or Schuman to Ellington, Okura uses big classical sounds as well as tender whispers of harmonics, to col legno batuto, to the “chop” technique to create a percussive groove. As the album reaches its poignant denouement with the title track, "Lingering," Okura's single note and Hays' last chord hang in the air like a whispered promise, never fully resolving.

    Meg Okura website

  • Lizz Wright: Shadow

    12th April 2024

    US Vocalist Lizz Wright Marks Illustrious 20 Year-Career With New Studio Album Featuring Angelique Kidjo & Meshell Ndegeocello

    Acclaimed vocalist Lizz Wright encapsulates an illustrious 20-year career as one of the great modern American singers with new album, Shadow, the studio debut on her label Blues & Greens Records (with licensing/distribution through Lightyear Entertainment/Virgin Music), set for release on April 12, 2024.

    On Shadow, Wright pens five originals with special guests Angelique Kidjo and Meshell Ndegeocello appearing on two separate songs (“Sparrow” and “Your Love”). Renowned for her singular writing style across six critically-acclaimed studio albums, Wright also beautifully weaves into her recordings unforgettable renditions of songs by artists she loves. Shadow’s producer and longtime collaborator/music director Chris Bruce(Seal, Bettye LaVette, Sheryl Crow) with Wright brought “Sweet Feeling” by Candi Staton into her world as part of the pre-production process of listening to an array of songs. 

    Wright comments, “I first heard Candi Staton as a child because of her gospel singing, which my father loved. I didn’t realize that she also sang contemporary music until years later. Her voice is like no other and sounds honest and at home in anything she sings, no matter the genre.”

    On “Sweet Feeling,” Wright digs her heels into the blues without apology. Making a home in the blues city of Chicago, she signals that now is the time and place to lean back and be in it. Wright says, “I’m excited to be singing the blues more now. It has a boldness, but it also comforting. Singing the blues in Chicago is like finding sap in a great old tree. The blues is in the spirit of the city.”

    For the music video of “Sweet Feeling,” Wright sings on stage at the legendary Green Mill jazz club on Broadway in Uptown, Chicago. Sweeping views of the Chicago skyline, Lake Michigan and the iconic ambience at the Green Mill set the backdrop for Wright’s performance. The filming aesthetic of “Sweet Feeling” pays tribute to both past and modern Chicago blues. Video credits include: Angelo Valentino Margentina (Director Of Photography), Halley Buenrostro (Cinematographer), Carlos Bernal (VHS Camera Operator), and Monica Haslip (Art Director).

    Blues & Greens Records is Wright’s innovative label venture designed to position artists to build sustainable and wholesome careers. Blues & Greens Records seeks to create a healthy ecosystem for artists as it uplifts and centralizes humanity in the music business with wellness offerings and sound business practices at the forefront. 

    Click here for Lizz Wright website

  • Amy Gadiaga: All Black Everything

    5th April 2024

    UK-based Parisian bassist, vocalist and composer Amy Gadiaga has announced the release of her debut EP All Black Everything, an expansive, boundary-pushing 5-track collectionset for release on the Jazz re:freshed label on April 5th 2024.

    Showcasing prodigious bass playing and a voice brimming with power and emotion, All Black Everything is a profound exploration of self-acceptance that presents both a celebration and acknowledgment of Gadiaga’s deep-seated darkness.Inspired by the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement, All Black Everything confronts racial identity complexities and the challenges of being a societal 'black sheep’ and sees Gadiaga courageously transform her insecurities into a narrative of self-empowerment. 

    All Black Everything’s lead single Paloma Negra, an adventurous, unpredictable track pervaded by shimmering jazz grooves and Mexican rhythms is out now and available to listen to HERE.

    “Paloma Negra is a tribute to black artists as they contribute to shifting culture all over the world” explains Gadiaga. “I wrote it during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement at a time when I was really into Mexican folk music. The title means Black Dove in Spanish and it’s a recurring theme in Mexican folk songs.”

    Born to parents of Senegalese, Gambian, and Malian descent, and hailing from the outskirts of Paris, the multitalented Gadiaga has been making waves in the UK music industry since she moved to London aged 18. With a fresh and unique style that bridges the old school jazz tradition of musicians such as Betty Carter and Wayne Shorter with the raw, rootsy modern sound of artists such as D’Angelo, Stevie Wonder and Twinkie Clark, Gadiaga’s breadth of ambition and revitalising approach have brought early critical acclaim and ardent fans.

    Signalling the arrival of a significant new voice on the London music scene, All Black Everything communicates the liberating essence of embracing individuality and presents a journey through Gadiaga's personal struggles, standing as a testament to art's transformative power and encouraging listeners to find strength in their uniqueness. “All Black Everything is very much an exploration and embracing of one of my archetypes in life which is the black bird/black sheep” she explains. “That feeling of not thinking you belong anywhere, of being misunderstood and really tending to your own. No helping hand. But it’s ok sometimes because you also feel like nobody can compete with you, you’re one of a kind.” 

    All Black Everything is released on the Jazz re:freshed label on April 5th 2024.


  • Aimee-Jo Benoit: Horns of Hope

    29th March 2024

    Available Friday March 29th on Chronograph Records

    Barefoot (single) released Friday March 8th

    Release concert Saturday April 6th at Theatre 1308, Calgary AB

    When the world stopped, our family’s identity was stripped away overnight, we were no longer who we thought we were. We embarked on a journey of wearing different skins, playing different roles, feeling generally out of place. These skins led me down a path I never thought possible, surrounded by warm hands, life and death.

    What began as a project with a vastly different direction, Horns of Hope was born out of a need for a simple, uncomplicated gathering of friends that materialised in eight beautiful, heartbreaking, and hopeful songs. There was a sense of urgency in comparison to BORJONER which took nearly a decade to complete. Horns of Hope happened in a period of months - imagined in coffee shops and texts between myself and Carsten, it came to life in what seemed like only a few conversations.

    The title "Horns of Hope” was brought on when I was contemplating the philosophical phrase, “the horns of the dilemma”, which is the choice between two things, and neither of them are desirable. The pandemic felt this way to me, for I could choose myself and my own freedoms or rights, or I could choose the rights and freedoms of others, keeping myself secluded and masked. This made me hopeless for a time. However, Hope exists in duality, for we cannot be hopeful without the existence of struggle, pain, and loss. We must accept the duality of our existence, be present in it when possible, and listen for the signs. To be in society, we must see the dualities of light and dark, hope and fear.

    Why these songs? It’s both uncomfortable and important for me to say that I had specific moments, people, and experiences attached to each song on this album. It’s incredibly private and utterly public. I will most likely never mention to those people that it’s about them, but they might infer it.

    Aimee-Jo Benoit


    Aimee-Jo Benoit - Vocals

    Carsten Rubeling - Trombone

    Mark DeJong - Tenor Saxophone, Bass Clarinet

    Andre Wickenheiser - Trumpet

    Daniel Gaucher - Drums

    Mark Limacher - Piano, Rhodes

    Jon Wielebknowski - Upright Bass, Electric Bass

    About Aimee-Jo Benoit:

    Renowned for her distinctive vocal style, articulate diction, and expressive phrasing, Calgary vocalist Aimee-Jo Benoit is recognized for her unwavering commitment to featuring the works of Canadian songwriters in her repertoire. Her performances guide the audience along the path of her emotional roots with the music of Daniel Lanois, Joni Mitchell as well as Leslie Feist, Michael Feuerstack and others.

    Benoit takes a classic approach to standards as well as interpreting well- known contemporary songs into a new sound, paying homage to the long-standing jazz tradition of creating a new canon.

    Continually honing her craft, Aimee-Jo has studied privately with Tamara Beatty, Leon Leontaridis, Cheryl Fisher, Vivian Martin & workshopped with Jay Clayton. Her discography includes four studio albums with Woodpigeon from 2008-2012, has lent her vocal talent to recordings by Summerlad and Aaron Booth in 2005 and 2008 respectively, as well as Hermitess' 2020 release, "The Tower.”

    Independently released in June 2020, her debut album "BORJONER," a improvisation led collaboration with TRIO VELOCITY, marked a significant milestone in her musical journey. On March29, 2024 her sophomore album HORNS OF HOPE will be released on boutique label Chronograph Records.

    In addition to being a performer, Aimee-Jo has earned a Master of Arts degree in the academic study of religion, with a particular emphasis on examining the correlation between improvisation in religious contexts and its application to the study of religion in academic research. Committed to her local jazz community she volunteers as Secretary of the Board for Buckingjam Music Foundation, as well as maintaining a blog under MOTHER/MUSIC/HOOD. Through this platform, she shares her personal experiences of motherhood, striving to construct a supportive community for fellow creatives navigating the complexities of balancing artistic pursuits with motherhood. She hopes that her vulnerability will help to empower women to realize their own second acts in the realm of creativity.

    Website: Instagram: @aimeejobenoitmusic Facebook: AimeeJoBenoitMusic

  • Carla Diratz & The Archers Of Sorrow: Blue Stitches

    22nd March 2024

    Carla Diratz - voice, keyboard

    Martin Archer - saxophones, clarinets, keyboards, electronics

    Nick Robinson - guitars

    Adam Fairhall - organ, electric piano

    Dave Sturt - bass guitar

    Adam Fairclough - drums

    Charlotte Keeffe – trumpet

    When Carla, Nick and I has completed our previous work “The Scale” in 2021, I felt this was such a unique work in its scope and feel – prog, pop, abstraction and chanson – that it would be very difficult to follow up such a definitive statement.

    Then in 2022 Carla commented that if she made another album, the state of the world dictated that it would have to be a blues album. Immediately we had our brief for a new record. Each of us had out own take on this idea.  Carla sent in four jazz infected / inflected pieces for voice and keys which were recorded on her phone.  Nick came up with a sequence of progressive blues rock pieces for the band.  And I came up with a few little odds and ends with my own leftfield take on the format.

    All of these were realised magnificently in the studio by our wonderful band, this time round bringing in the great improvising musician Adam Fairhall on organ.

    We hope you will enjoy our modern contribution to the progressive blues rock tradition. – Martin Archer

    On first hearing this album our friend the poet Carl Sonnenfeld wrote:

    "Carla and her heavy voice crushed rock a whisper that blows the hot the cold a whisper that sinks snake engulfs with the alligator in a swamp of New Orleans Carla and her voice flows this Mississippi river that we go up against current back to reblues as an initiative quest towards Chicago Carla and her river voice that carries all the pain and grace Carla and her voice dries like sand that hangs on to the erratic harmonica of a mad angel Carla and her old dodge vehicle voice that tracks its way on the desert red dirt From Mojave to see Captain Beefheart and Neil Young. Carla and her voodoo voice to conjure fate and communicate with old bluesmen prayers to severe echoes of bass sax in osmosis with ambient chaos Carla gives her voice to the Blues a revisited and destroyed blues a Blues that resembles Carla"

    For further information and links: Martin Archer - Discus Music


You are on page 1 of 16

Next page