Third all-solo outing from Nat Birchall. This time Nat pays homage to the patron saint of the tenor saxophone, John Coltrane. With a balanced programme of original songs and John Coltrane compositions the album focusses on the more Afrocentric aspects of the music.released May 27, 2022Nat Birchall - Tenor & soprano saxophones, bass clarinet, zurna, piano, Korg Minilogue, harmonium, bass, drums, hand drums, mbira, percussion.
The fourth album by Web Web “WEB MAX” is a great spiritual jazz work - sometimes floating, sometimes soulful, always intense, and a wonderful homage to early 70s Jazz. Web Web mastermind Roberto Di Gioia is accompanied for the first time by Max Herre as a composer, musician, and producer. Both came together with guest musicians such as Mulatu Astatke, Brandee Younger, Charles Tolliver (Strata East), and others to deliver a virtuoso masterpiece.WEB MAXIn the winter of 2014, German rapper/producer Max Herre and Italian-German pianist Roberto Di Gioia played a tremendous show together. The two had been guest musicians at a few gigs for Gregory Porter, who in turn kindly accepted their invitation to perform at Herre’s MTV Unplugged session (produced by Herre alongside Di Gioia and Samon Kawamura as production team KAHEDI). Porter’s approach to the jazz quartet inspired Max to reflect how a rap artist could work in a more freely-flowingmusical environment. Di Gioia’s inspiration was a bit more straightforward: in the 80s, Di Gioia had played with jazz legends like Woody Shaw, Johnny Griffin, and James Moody, but he’d largely left the jazz stages of his early years behind — just one random jam session with Porter’s musicians during soundcheck relit his passion immensely. A short time later, Herre called Di Gioia saying “Let’s get a spiritual jazz session going.”Now, six years later, the album WEB MAX is the amazing result from the spur of that moment. It is a wonderful homage to the cosmic open-mindedness of early 70s jazz, to the transcendent sublimity of spiritual sound.WEB MAX is the fourth album in four years by the highly acclaimed Web Web quartet, consisting of keyboardist/pianist Roberto Di Gioia, saxophonist Tony Lakatos, bassistChristian von Kaphengst, and drummer Peter Gall, all of them longtime performers of the highest virtuosity, signed to Michael Reinboth’s Compost Records.The one and a half minute intro is called “The Prequel,” introducing the journey with feverish drums,nervous bass, hoarse saxophone, and splintering piano. It kicks and feels like a lost recording from a jazz cellar of the late 60s. “But it was actually created in the KAHEDI apartment studio in Berlin,Kreuzberg,” says Di Gioia with a grin. On one hand, the song is unusual, because the rest of WEB MAX was recorded during completely analog sessions that the band and Herre recorded between 2018 and 2020 in the legendary Munich Mastermix-Studio. At the same time, it nicely illustrates the threshold on which the project moves. As impressively as WEB MAX evokes a bygone era, it moves confidently into the here-and-now. The slightly distorted sound, for example, comes from a four-track recorder that Di Gioia transferred the recordings to, and then bounced them from. Not a replica, but an emulation. Or like Roberto Di Gioia states: “The very own derivative of the absorbed.”A good example is Turquoise,” inspired by the famous Lebanese singer Fairuz (Arabic for turquoise) and her brother-in-law, the composer Elias Rhabani. The wide, flattering melodic arc plays with all sorts of African and Eastern influences, like it was recorded for a Middle-Eastern Quentin Tarantino movie. The ballad “Thesa-Mbawula” – with its flowery, musing melody – is reminiscent of the South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim. Furthermore, it is a nod to Herre’s father-in-law (the father of Herre’s wife, soul singer Joy Denalane) – the title means “Embers,“ which was his nickname as a soccer player during his youth in Johannesburg.And emphatically, WEB MAX creates a direct connection into history. The song “Intersections” features the 79 year old trumpeter Charles Tolliver, whose label Strata East was perhaps the most important center of spiritual soul jazz in the early 70s. Jazz history also runs through the biography of Di Gioia, who played with deep jazz legends like Clifford Jordan and Buster Williams from Munich to Detroit in the mid-80s.“Meskel Flower” features Mulatu Astatke, the father of Ethio-jazz. That collaboration came about thanks to Ben Abarbanel-Wolff (heard playing saxophone on “The Prequel”), who played with Astatke’s backing band The Heliocentrics. “Ben introduced us to Astatke after a concert in Berlin, and the next day we were together in the studio,” recalls Herre. With his vibraphone, Astatke conjures up the pentatonic scale emblematic of Ethio-jazz, which itself was the result of a cultural exchange — in the early 60s, Astatke was the first African to study at the prestigious Berklee College in Boston, and he brought jazz back to his homeland in the early 70s.On “Satori Ways,” New York-based Brandee Younger brings a touch of atmospheric depth with her harp, evoking the spirit of pioneers like Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane. Tony Lakatos‘s dark-hued alto flute illuminates the unusual timbres and arrangement of this piece.The only words on the album belong to Yusef Lateef, the great saxophonist and flutist who passed away in 2013. On “Akinuba / The Heart,” in the form of a poem Lateef talks about “The Heart” along a repetitive bass line. “I was particularly impressed by his musical lyrics. And how close his music melts with the topics he is talking about; says Herre. The poem ends with the words: the heart is born pure.”Herre’s voice, on the other hand, can only be heard as an occasional whispering falsetto in cosmic spheres. His electronic “rustle” (as he calls it) and the groovy, minimalist thrusts of his Wurlitzer may seem modest at first amid the other virtuoso instrumentalists. However, it is precisely this simplicity that proves to be an integral piece. “Simplicity is sometimes the most sophisticated effort”, explains Di Gioia. “And he has something special there that I don’t have. Max plays like an indie guitarist who just hits that one note that makes people freak out.“ And Herre replies with a laugh: “I am a rhythm pianist. I actually just play a few repeating chords at a time, almost like a hip-hop sample.“Herre’s love for jazz goes back to his teenage years in Stuttgart, way back before his hip-hop career.And that too began around 1990, when jazz became a go-to for hip-hop groups like A Tribe Called Quest or Gang Starr. This influence carries from Herre‘s former group Freundeskreis, to his solo albums produced with Di Gioia, and finally all the way to WEB MAX. “I benefit from my experience with hip-hop, because there is an importance of continuing on the loop.“ says Herre. Of course, it also brings something to bear in the production process, in the subtleties or niceness of its texture. And last but not least, Herre says it was Kendrick Lamar who played an important role in the renewed interest in spiritual jazz by the masses — Lamar’s work with musicians like Kamasi Washington has resulted in a new interest in jazz artists. “But in the end, this genre is also about communication, unity, and being deeply moved,” says Herre in the Zoom call. “Just as with instrumentalists, any virtuosity is internalized. Same as I am coming from the story, I have to conduct the story.” While Di Gioia adds: “It’s very emotionalwhat we’re playing here, it is not interchangeable. It all comes with love from the heart, with all the energy and spirit we have.”
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio—or as it is sometimes referred to, DLO3—specialize in the lost art of “feel good music.” The ingredients of this intoxicating cocktail include a big helping of the 1960s organ jazz stylings of Jimmy Smith and Baby Face Willette; a pinch of the snappy soul strut of Booker T. The M.G.’s and The Meters; and sprinkles Motown, Stax Records, blues, and cosmic Jimi Hendrix-style guitar. It’s a soul-jazz concoction that goes straight to your heart and head makes your body break out in a sweat.The band features organist Delvon Lamarr, a self-taught virtuosic musician, with perfect pitch who taught himself jazz and has effortlessly been able to play a multitude of instruments. On guitar is the dynamo Jimmy James who eases through Steve Cropper-style chanking guitar, volcanic acid-rock freak-out lead playing, and slinky Grant Green style jazz. From Reno, Nevada is drummer Dan Weiss (also of the powerhouse soul and funk collective The Sextones). Dan’s smoldering pocket-groove drumming locks in the trio’s explosive chemistry.Founded by Lamarr’s wife and manager Amy Novo, the trio started from humble beginnings in 2015, but since then has released two Billboard charting albums and toured the world to sold out venues. The trio returns now with their second studio album, I Told You So, with even heavier grooves and more confidence. It may have been several years since their most recent studio effort, but they haven’t missed a beat.Pressing Information:- Mastered by Doug Krebs- Lacquers cut by Well Made Music- Pressed at Gotta Groove Records- Housed in heavy Stoughton Tip-On gatefold jacket- Includes download card
Following on from his recent string of exceptional all-solo albums, Mysticism of Sound, Ancient Africa and Afro Trane, Nat Birchall releases his first new studio recording, Spiritual Progressions, with his current working group, Unity Ensemble. This group consists of long time musical partner Adam Fairhall on piano, plus the bassist in Nat’s group for several years and albums, Michael Bardon, and a welcome return on drums by Paul Hession who recorded on the legendary Live In Larissa double album. Rounding out the five-piece ensemble is percussionist Lascelle Gordon, a mainstay of the London music scene for many years.Nat says he chose the name for the group because “This particular group of musicians has a very unified sound, each player has a very individual sound and concept but they all come together in this group and blend incredibly well. Making music with this band is pure joy.”The album features four tracks, all composed by Nat, which beautifully illustrate Nat’s comments.The first track, Unity, speaks for itself and the cohesion of the group sound, each instrument adding to the overall vibe with no hint of grandstanding or musical one-upmanship.Lokumbe is named for the legendary trumpeter and composer/bandleader, Hannibal Lokumbe, formerly known as Marvin Peterson, who is one of Nat’s musical heroes, keeping the flame of soulful, spiritual and far-reaching music alive for many decades and still going strong.Nile Valley is so titled because, as Nat explains “This song made me think of an ancient Egyptian Royal barge moving along the river Nile, in a slow and stately fashion.” The unhurried pace of the song and genuinely colourful sounds from all the instruments really bring this image to life in the mind of the listener.The final track, Sun in the East, is about “new beginnings, figuratively speaking, like the sunrise in the East every morning, each day bringing a fresh opportunity to renew our resolve to progress in different ways, or even to start again from scratch. It’s never too late to make a change or to begin a journey.”The album was recorded live in the studio in Manchester, then Nat overdubbed some percussion and other instruments, mbira, balaphon, wood flutes etc, to add some extra textures to the musical canvas. As Nat says “Music and painting have many things in common, and I tend to think in terms of musical colours and textures when composing or arranging songs. As with a painting, balance is very important when making music, and this group is the most beautifully balanced group I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.”Nat Birchall Unity Ensemble – Spiritual Progressions (Ancient Archive of Sound AAOS 221)140g black vinyl LP pressed in the UK at Vinyl Factory released August 26, 2022Nat Birchall - tenor saxophone, wood flutes, singing bowls, mbira, balaphon, gunibri, percussion. Adam Fairhall - piano. Michael Bardon - bass. Paul Hession - drums. Lascelle Gordon - percussion, hand drums.