World of Jazz 586

On this show new music from Behn Gillece, Tim Berne With Aurora Nealand and Hank Roberts, The JOI Jazz Orchestra, three new releases on Diskoknife from Audible Spirits Darren Johnston and Mick Rossi with Peter Hess and Matt Moran, Ben Sher, Massimo Magee, Louis Stewart with Noel Kelehan, Michael Wetherwax and the Kupkasonic Jazz Orchestra, Ramdat, Charlie Apicella & Iron City Meet The Griots Speak, Simon Deeley, and, John Dikeman with Pat Thomas  John Edwards and Steve Noble.

Show Intro 00:00

Behn Gillece “Roamers” from Between The Bars (Posi-tone) 00:39

Tim Berne, Aurora Nealand, Hank Roberts “10tious” from Oceans And (Intakt) 07:19

The JOI Jazz Orchestra “Smoke In Mirrors” from A Joifull Noizz (Jazz Outreach Initiative)  19:50

Audible Spirits “Stolen Moments” from  Audible Spirits (Diskoknife) 28:08

Darren Johnston “Anchorite” from Wide Awake (Diskoknife) 34:24

Mick Rossi, Peter Hess, Matt Moran “El Dorado” from You Break, You Buy (Diskoknife) 41:39

Ben Sher “Anthropofagia” from Samba For Tarsila (Zoho) 53:04

Massimo Magee “Blinkenlights – duo with Lance Austin Olsen” from Networking (Orbit 577) 1:00:00

Louis Stewart and Noel Kelehan “Yesterdays” from Some Other Blues (Livia Records) 1:12:17

Michael Wetherwax and the Kupkasonic Jazz Orchestra  “Gina’s Groove” from Big Band Trax By Wax (Self Released) 1:18:19 

Ramdat “Lost In Time And Space” from Maat Mons (Ramble Records) 1:22:30

Charlie Apicella & Iron City Meet The Griots Speak “If You Know Where To Look” from Destiny Calling (Origin OA2 Records) 1:30:23

Simon Deeley “Theme of The Legends” from String Rise Azure Traces (Self Released) 1:38:34

John Dikeman, Pat Thomas, John Edwards, Steve Noble “Comment!” from Volume 2 (577 Records) 1:48:39


Behn Gillece

Rising Star vibraphonist Behn Gillece strikes an effortless and joyous balance between sound, silence and rhythm on his new album “Between The Bars” released 7th April by Posi-tone Records.

Gillece shines brightly throughout, while clearly enjoying the supportive companionship of pianist Art Hirahara, bassist Peter Slavov, and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza, each of whom provide unique contributions to the proceedings. Also joining the band for a few tracks are saxophonists Diego Rivera and Patrick Cornelius, along with talented newcomer trombonist Altin Sencalar.

Featured track Roamers is written by Art Hirahara

Tim Berne, Aurora Nealand, Hank Roberts

Tim Berne’s work is characterized by tireless artistic dedication and creativity. His newly formed trio with accordionist and multi-instrumentalist Aurora Nealand and cellist Hank Roberts takes the listener on a sonically adventurous journey on Oceans And and delights with much imagination and amazing musical diversity. The co-composed pieces are all open doors to infinite interpretation and development. “The breathtaking music, created by Tim Berne, Aurora Nealand, and Hank Roberts can be deservedly and on all accounts deemed: profound, probing, intriguing, distinct, intricate, raw, courageous, mysterious, and thoughtful. The group’s concerted effort to achieve a cohesive blend is a refreshing relief. An honest crusade of in-depth imagination, this music is a beacon of light in an unsettling world,” writes Baikida Carroll in the liner notes and adds: “It stimulates the brain, animates the imagination, and charms the heart.”

The JOI Jazz Orchestra

Debut recording

Trumpets/Flugelhorns – Daniel Falcone (Lead), Gary Cordell, Wes Marshall, Jorge Machain, Kenny Rampton 

Trombones – Curt Miller – (Lead) Trombone, Nathan Tanouye – Trombone, David Philippus – Trombone, Sonny Hernandez – Trombone

Reeds – Phil Wigfall (Lead) – Alto, Soprano, Flute, Eddie Rich – Alto, Flute, Clarinet, Wayne de Silva – Tenor, Rob Mader – Tenor, Clarinet, John Summers – Baritone, Bass Clarinet

Strings – Lauren Cordell – Vln 1, Geri Thompson – Vln 2, Omar Shelley – Viola, Moonlight Tran – Cello  

Rhythm Section – Jimmy Tripi – Guitar, Dave Loeb – Piano, David Ostrem – Upright Bass

Johnny Friday – Drums

Diskonife Records proudly announces new releases from label founders Matt Moran and Peter Hess, and new Diskonife artist, trumpeter/composer Darren Johnston. All three recordings, to be released simultaneously on May 26, 2023, follow the label’s imperative of documenting creative music without commercial pressures, and releasing work to the world to invigorate creative flow. 

Audible Spirits

Vibraphonist and Diskonife co-founder Matt Moran brings us Audible Spirits, the eponymous release of a collaboration which recognizes that jazz brings its history with it, and that performance is the fulcrum between the past and the future: as musicians push the boundaries for the future, those that came before us are always present in the room. These three musicians – Sarah Elizabeth Charles (voice and effects), Curtis Hasselbring (samples and trombone), and Matt Moran (vibraphone) – use their instruments and electronic samples of Jamey Aebersold Play-A-Long recordings to explore legacy in jazz. By reverently diving deeply into this iconic jazz education tool and exploring jazz standards, Audible Spirits is a manifesto on historical lineage and individual creativity in a hall of mirrors.

Originally created as a live theater piece, Audible Spirits is grounded on the bedrock idea that public performance of jazz with a pre-recorded rhythm section is heresy. At the same time, generations of jazz musicians have come up practicing to tracks, especially Jamey Aebersold Play-A-Long tracks, in private. During the Covid pandemic the trio reworked the theater piece into a discrete musical statement that blurs the boundaries between heresy and convention, background and foreground, tradition and innovation, jazz and improvisation, electronic and acoustic sound, and the past and the future. 

By sampling and manipulating the sounds of these jazz rhythm sections (with the permission of Jamey Aebersold), Audible Spirits invokes classic jazz sounds and forms and yet transforms them, sometimes subtly and sometimes completely. Each song is handled differently: the original track may be deconstructed to make new sounds that are played live to express the composition as in the featured track Stolen Moments, or layered so that multiple versions of the form happen simultaneously or sequentially.

Darren Johnston

For Darren Johnston, “someone to watch, on trumpet of course, but as a composer and bandleader as well” (John Corbett, DownBeat Magazine), creating the music for Wild Awake, along with marathon days of practising and composing in general, helped him to maintain a sense of purpose, wonder, and calm through the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic era shutdown. Once it finally became possible, Johnston hit the studio and made three distinct recording sessions within five weeks’ time; Wild Awake was the final recording of this prolific period that included a quartet recording in Chicago (Life In Time, on Origin Records) and a trio record in Brooklyn (Breathing Room, on Minus Zero).

Wild Awake expanded a trio that had been one of his first NYC-based bands as a leader, featuring the incredible Jacob Sacks on piano and Sean Conly on bass, to include two friends from his time in the Bay Area back in the late 90’s, both of whom now undeniably important voices in the world of jazz and improvised music: Dayna Stephens on multiple saxophones and Ches Smith on drums.

This assemblage of  musicians is one that is willing and able to go anywhere with imagination, soul, and integrity. With their creative diversity in mind, Johnston brought to the proceedings some unusual pieces such as a song with lyrics, using the final words written by the iconic bard of the labor movement Joe Hill, which were found in his cell after his execution in 1915. Other pieces were harmonically open-ended and groove-based in a more traditional melody-with-chords-to-improvise-over format, or launching pads for free improvisation.

Ultimately, Wild Awake represents a moment in time for five musicians with broad tastes and abilities, who according to Johnston “were just so very happy to be playing music with fellow humans again, one day in Brooklyn, during uncertain, but optimistic times. It was a wonderful day,”

Mick Rossi, Peter Hess, Matt Moran

On Rossi/Hess/Moran, You Break You Buy, these three eminent artists, major players in multiple uber-creative settings, across multiple genres, came together with no script, a large array of instruments (and one dog toy) at hand, a blank canvas, and no plan other than to document the day and the many moments we are treated to on this album. “We just wanted to decorate time for some hours and create a sonic event, capture it, and share it,” said Hess. So ultimately this is a free improvisation record, but there are many other factors at play that combine to bring us this highly distinctive long-player. 

Achieving a real identity as a trio comes from the players reacting to each other, listening, supporting, subverting and blending. Hess explains that, “the individual things we each bring aren’t coming out of thin air: in the arc of being a true improvisor, each statement has been growing, mutating, coalescing into its present form for a lifetime; getting at something purely new isn’t impossible but the seeds fall in old growth. So we’re carrying the past, the history of music as we know it, with us at all times. That’s what makes ‘improvisor’ an identity rather than a just a vocation.” What the trio of Rossi, Hess and Moran improvised on that day wouldn’t be the last of these sounds, as the music was later manipulated, harmonized, distorted and fortified. “For this album, in the singular moment of improvising, we’re rooted in the past, creating in the present, and looking to the future when these sounds will take their final form. Aware of this, we’re often improvising the foundation of what the pieces will finally be. Or sometimes the top floor first, or maybe even the garden out back. There are two layers of imagination here, not just what we’re going to play in the moment but what else they imply that we’re going to include later. Thinking beyond our own individual sounds, into a larger context, while still trying to speak out clearly, was a part of the brief. That said, there’s a good part of the record we left alone, in its space in time. There are places that we built over, layered up, and later stripped it all back to reveal what was underneath,” said Hess.

Ben Sher

To know Ben Sher is to recognize a virtuoso. An acclaimed jazz guitarist who hails from Pittsburgh, Sher has toured the world as an artist and now resides in New York. That he has crisscrossed the globe is evident in his music, which is a beautiful blend between jazz and classical that draws upon traditions from across the Americas.

When you listen closely to his performances, you hear the influences of Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Kenny Burrell and legendary Brazilian guitarists like Baden Powell, João Gilberto, and Raphael Rabello. In Sher, we have an example of the student becoming the teacher: He is now a Professor at Berklee College of Music and Kutztown University.

Samba for Tarsila is a marvellous mashup of familiar and feel-good songs fashioned as Brazilian jazz fusion. Let’s start with unpacking the title: Tarsila de Aguiar do Amaral (1886-1973) was a Brazilian modernist painter. Tarsila is considered a leading Latin American artist of the twentieth century. Her paintings often involved long and colorful shapes with vibrant natural elements from Brazil’s topography. Indeed, her landscapes inspired Sher’s soundscapes. “Her portrayal of Brazil thorough abstract semi-literal images was the inspiration for this very album,” said Sher.

Samba for Tarsila is eclectic and electric, entertaining, and enlivening. And the musicians are absolutely world class: They are a cohesive group that navigate the obstacle course of syncopation with dexterity and grace:

 Gary Fisher is a seasoned New York jazz pianist, performing around New York with Vincent Herring, Monte Croft, Eric Alexander, Joe Farnsworth and others.

Greg Jones is another veteran New York musician, with a list of touring and recordings credits with Astrud Gilberto, Jon Lucien, Carly Simon, Max Roach and Michael Urbaniak.

Special guest Vanderlei Pereira is one of the most revered Brazilian drummers in New York. His list of recording credits reads like a who’s-who of Brazilian music: Airto Moreira, Lenny Andrade, Toots Thielman, Dom Salvador, and Rosa Passos.

The opening track Antropofagia is an upbeat, fun, and funky piece. It begins with angular lines, a bevy of hits, thick bass drops, and unfolding guitar chords. The groove is forward-moving and propulsive. In making this tune, Sher’s point of reference was Quincy Jones’ “Soul Bossa,” which also has an infectious groove. The highlight of this song is undoubtedly Sher’s spellbinding solo. 

Massimo Magee

The album that became Networking started out on 20 December 2020, when, in one day, Magee recorded a series of alto saxophone solos whilst thinking of particular musical friends and collaborators. The atmosphere of continuing pandemic-induced isolation from group music-making was weighing on his mind and he resolved to do something about it through the most powerful tool available to him at the time: the internet. Each of the solos he recorded was intended for its specific recipient.   After a short solo statement to mark the departure point, the tracks explore a progressively broadening approach to the possibilities of the alto saxophone as instrument/object across their span, with a brief solo coda to close the loop (and then some).  The resulting music has something to say about the importance of musical communication even in trying circumstances, and the inextinguishable imperative to keep striving to push exploratory music into new realms of possibility, no matter the difficulties.

Louis Stewart and Noel Kelehan

This previously unknown release is regarded as a Holy Grail of Irish Jazz as it’s the only known studio recording of Louis Stewart and Noel Kelehan. While Stewart was a local hero and internationally renowned guitarist, Kelehan was not well known as a jazz pianist outside of Ireland due to his TV-based composing, arranging and conducting, even though jazz was his first love.

Here we find Louis and Noel, two giants of Irish jazz, in the kind of electrifying form that

thrilled Irish jazz audiences in the 1960s, and 70s, in a programme of duets that scale the

heights of swing, virtuosity, and interplay

Michael Wetherwax

Michael Wetherwax grew up in Burbank, California. In his younger years, he performed with his family band “The Reflectors” under the direction of his father, who was an accomplished musician, teaching in several different schools in Burbank. In Michael’s teen years, he wrote for a Henry Mancini TV Special and the Tonight Show Band, while studying with Hugo Montenegro, Earle Hagan, Quincy Jones, and Fredrick Fennel. He was awarded High School Jazz Composer of the Year 2 years in a row and wrote and conducted at the Monterey Jazz Festival while performing on lead trumpet in the California All Star Band. There he was asked to join the Stan Kenton Neophonic Orchestra where he performed with legendary musicians, Joe Pass and Louie Bellson.

During his college years, he continued to compose and perform for different bands featuring his colleagues such as John and Jeff Clayton. Additionally, he played in Los Angeles with “Rural Still Life”, which soon became the band Toto. At 19, after recording a demo album with them, he travelled to Japan to work as a writer and accompanist for NHK. He loved performing his accompanying skills that he mentored from the great Jimmy Rowles, who recorded with Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae.

When he returned from Japan, he played keyboards for Universal, Disney, and MGM for several shows such as Night Rider, Airwolf, and Fame. Subsequently, he arranged, recorded, and performed music for the MGM Grand theme park in Vegas, and the I Love Lucy, Blues Brothers, and Marilyn Monroe Shows at Universal Studios Hollywood and started composing and arranging for movies from Rodger Corman to Oliver Stone to the Hallmark Channel, and TV shows such as Lassie and Twilight Zone. This Big Band album, the first of different genres in a “Trax by WAX” series, documents his love for exciting and contemporary Big Band music that friends convinced him to record.

On the featured track “Gina’s Groove” the soloists are   Colin Kupka (alto sax); Chris Price (trumpet); Michael Wetherwax (piano); Eric Jorgensen (trombone). 


Athens Greece quartet Ramdat combines jazz rock, punk, groove, free improvisation and ambience on Maat Mons that culminates in an immersive deep space experience and will sit nicely in the collection next to King Crimson, Larry Coryell, Sun Ra, Herbie Hancock, and Miles’ electric era.

Charlie Apicella & Iron City Meet The Griots Speak

The Griots Speak: Destiny Calling forges new ground, mixing NYC organ grooves with free

improvisation. The Griots are legends of the 1960s NYC loft jazz scene and Charlie Apicella brings his lean, driving, hard bop guitar to the band while reinventing himself with his debut as a percussionist.

Daniel Carter, saxophones, flute, clarinet, trumpet, piano

Charlie Apicella, madal drum, Tibetan singing bowls, guitar

William Parker, bass, doson ngoni, gralla, gembiri, pocket trumpet

Juma Sultan, congas, shakers, percussion 

Brad Whiteley, organ

Austin Walker, drums

Simon Deeley

The artists that pianist Simon chose to form the quartet to record this album are all frequent and highly respected performers on the Welsh jazz scene including much regarded guitarist James Kilby Chadwick, bassist Aidan Thorne and drummer Mark O’Connor.  Released 28 March it consists of seven new tracks composed by Simon.

John Dikeman, Pat Thomas, John Edwards, Steve Noble 

Super groups are always risky—the potential for disappointing fans or warring musical styles is high—but when longtime friends and masterful improvisers come together, they usually work. Evident in their first collaboration  similarlyVolume 2 echoes the wide dynamic range of the first album, combining fast-paced, complex jazz in-the-moment arrangements with elegant solo gems from each musician, highlighting their best work, together and independently. The project will be available in vinyl, CD and digital editions on June 23, 2023.

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