Available Now at Beezwaxrecords.com and to be officially released on March 31, 2009
Balance features Sellenraad with Abraham Burton (saxophones), Kiyoshi Kitagawa (bass) + Victor Lewis (drums)
“...you will definitely be hearing more from Will Sellenraad” – Kenny Barron
Hailed as a “hidden gem,” guitarist/composer Will Sellenraad has earned a fast growing reputation of being at the forefront of a new generation of jazz musicians. Known for his brilliant improvisations and his compelling, emotive compositions, this New York City native melds the various styles, phrasings and concepts of the jazz idiom with the raw elements of soul, rock and funk, to create a singular sound that is nothing short of inspiring.
This Spring, on March 31, Beezwax Records will release Will Sellenraad’s much anticipated new recording, Balance, featuring his working quartet of many years: renowned saxophonist Abraham Burton, internationally acclaimed bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa and the legendary, and much in demand, Victor Lewis on drums. With compositions by Sellenraad, Lewis and Kitagawa, Balance, the guitarist’s brilliant follow up to Streams (his compelling debut) and Star Hustler (Will’s modern take on the great soul jazz of the 1960s), is an extraordinary new CD from this rising star on the jazz scene.
Balance, Sellenraad’s third recording as a leader, is laced with a joyful composure and a New York City native’s understated swagger. Sellenraad is a mature composer that put this music together with two guidelines, best explained by the man himself: “I always try to write as simply as possible, and that's always the challenge, to keep it simple. I also really had these cats in mind as the music was shaping up.” His approach, and the fact that this band continues to count many hours together on the bandstand, proved fruitful; the entire CD was recorded in one day at Systems Two in Brooklyn with no more than two takes ever needed. The resulting music on this recording certainly speaks for itself.
Highlights on Balance include the title track which opens the album, and immediately showcases this band’s collective mastery and solidarity, and Sellenraad’s gift as a composer and soloist; “Nye”, a funky bossa written for his wife that has a lovely, memorable melody immediately followed by a solo from Sellenraad that effortlessly waxes lyrical; the absolutely stunning “Prayer” (with a nod to Elvin, as in Jones, and as in Sellenraad’s young son named after the late drummer), that Sellenraad wrote after waking up one night at 3 AM with the melody in his head; and “It’s Been A Long Time”, a Victor Lewis original, recorded on Balance for the first time, that the master drummer composed roughly 30 years ago. Sellenraad explains, “Victor wrote this... a really long time ago. I think it is one of his first tunes. He picked it out especially for this band.” “’Blewis’ was written for Victor. He writes so great and is a such big influence on all of my writing,” explains Sellenraad. The album closes with Will’s theme, “Left (Shout Chorus)” which he composed for the club Detour. “I played there a lot. It was the pass the tip jar song. I usually played it as a theme" to end sets. Just something nice to have people leave with some positivity.”
Will Sellenraad will be performing throughout 2009 in celebration of the release of Balance.
“... sophisticated harmonic thinking and a modern approach…As a guitarist, Sellenraad has an abundance of technique... there is an absence of grandstanding, and one always hears music first.” --Jazz Improv Magazine
More on Will Sellenraad: The son of prominent New York artists, Johan and Ellen Sellenraad (who named their son after Willem de Kooning and Piet Mondrian), Sellenraad was destined towards music at an early age. Raised and immersed in the City's downtown art and music culture, Sellenraad was able to focus all his energies and talent toward the guitar. After being awarded numerous scholarships, Sellenraad graduated from the New School University Jazz Program, where he studied under many jazz giants including John Abercrombie, Gary Dial, Jim Hall and Reggie Workman.
In the mid-1990's, the guitarist landed the house gig at Visiones, one of New York's finest jazz clubs. Over several years of performances at the club Sellenraad developed a great musical kinship with fellow native New Yorker, drummer Eric McPherson and first-call bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa. This great musical rapport led to the 1998 recording of his critically acclaimed debut album, Streams, which features a special appearance by Blue Note recording artist James Hurt.
In 2002, Mr. Sellenraad recorded Star Hustler with his band Root Down, featuring Brian Charette on organ and Darren Beckett, of Ambulance Ltd., on drums. This album, which embraces the spirit of the great organ trios of the 1960s, creates compositions that legendary drummer Victor Lewis has hailed as “fresh… and taken with spontaneity.” Incorporating elements of soul jazz through to the Meters, Soulive and beyond, Star Hustler is truly music for all audiences.
A recipient of several grants from the New York State Council on the Arts, Sellenraad is a mainstay on the music scene in and around New York City, regularly appearing at storied jazz venues such as The 55 Bar, Smalls, The Blue Note, Birdland, the former Bradley's, The Iridium, the former Sweet Basil and many others. As a bandleader, he has also performed at the Panasonic Village and JVC Jazz Festivals in New York and the Discover Jazz Festival in Burlington, Vermont.
As a sideman Sellenraad has toured extensively, and has played with some of today's most influential jazz musicians, such as Brian Blade, Victor Lewis, Dwayne Burno, Ben Streett, Tommy Campbell, Garry Dial, Ed Howard, Adam Nussbaum, Nasheet Waits, Donny McCaslin, Gary Versace, Steve Wilson, and others.
About Beezwax Records
Since October of 1997, Beezwax Records has been quietly and slowly building a reputation for remarkable quality in jazz, brass and blues: a level of quality that reflects both the quirky philosophy and extraordinary musical ear of label founder David Seyboldt, who imagined a record label that wouldn't let the quest for growth hamper the groove. To that end, Beeswax was born with a peculiar, built-in safeguard against that kind of success: each and every Beezwax CD is hand-assembled and hand- stamped with a serial number and the owner's name.
While this does allow Beezwax to maintain a very complete database of customers, it also serves a larger purpose: to remind both the label and the listener that the most important part of the equation is the music on the disc. Call it crazy or call it brilliant, the Beezwax Records approach ensures that everyone who is touched by the music knows they are listening to a work of art, made in the traditional manner, just as the label's slogan says; One Of A Kind, One At A Time."