BJURecords Kicks Off This Spring With Its First Three Releases From Alexis Cuadrado, Anne Mette Iversen and Bernard Emer Lackner Ferber - Available on April 22
Consider this the opening shot in the latest revolution to hit New York's improv scene." --Time Out New York
Think of it as a mix-tape, a calling card from artists who operate in a small world but like to think big." --JazzTimes (on the BJU Compilation, Vol. 1)
Brooklyn jazz is happening and those who venture across the bridge will be delighted by the hard-edged ethnically-flavored jazz that they find on the other side. Two great places to start exploring the new artist collective known as 'The Brooklyn Jazz Underground' are Sign of the Times and This is My House, the latest from keyboardist Benny Lackner and bassist Anne Mette Iversen respectively." --All About Jazz
BJURecords Mission Statement: Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records is an independent and artist-run label committed to creative and adventurous contemporary improvised music. We strive to put out quality recordings that define the shape of today's jazz. BJURecords is a sister company of the Brooklyn Jazz Underground bandleader collective.
This Spring, members of the Brooklyn Jazz Underground, Alexis Cuadrado, Anne Mette Iversen and Benny Lackner will launch Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records (BJURecords) with three new recordings of all original music. This new label, a sister company to the 10 member Brooklyn Jazz Underground collective, has grown out of the entrepreneurial, do- it-yourself spirit that gave birth to the BJU in January of 2007. With the launch of BJURecords these artists not only continue to be at the forefront of a creative boom that is currently emanating from Brooklyn, but they now engage in releasing their music internationally, starting with new recordings from bassist/composer Alexis Cuadrado, bassist/composer Anne Mette Iversen and Bernard Emer Lackner Ferber, a new ensemble featuring BJU member, pianist/composer Benny Lackner, guitarist Will Bernard, bassist Andrew Emer and drummer Mark Ferber.
The Brooklyn Jazz Underground is a coalition of artists united by aesthetics as well as geography." - The New York Times
Alexis Cuadrado - Puzzles (BJUR 004), Alexis Cuadrado (bass & compositions), Loren Stillman (saxophone), Brad Shepik (guitar), Mark Ferber (drums), Alan Ferber (trombone, 3, 6, 9), Pete Rende (organ, 5): Alexis Cuadrado's 3rd CD, Puzzles, is an important step forward in the Barcelona-born bassist and composer's career. Not only did he write and arrange the album's music, but the project is completely self-produced. The making of Puzzles also helped inspire him to co-found Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records.
The Puzzles band features some of the most innovative musicians on New York's jazz scene: Loren Stillman on sax, Brad Shepik on guitar and Mark Ferber on drums. Trombonist Alan Ferber is as a guest on three songs, and Pete Rende adds a special touch playing organ on one track. After a year of intense playing, the group recorded the album in Alexis' Brooklyn living room in order to capture the raw sound of the band. It was a return to the classic way jazz records used to be made, but forward thinking in musical content.
I feel it is my most private record," Alexis stated in a recent interview, It tells my personal story of the last 3 years... it was initially conceived in the home where I moved in 2004. My wife Ave and I bought a fixer-upper house in Brooklyn and I wrote all the songs as we were renovating the space. So both projects grew together. Then I decided that I actually wanted to record it here in my living room with the band playing together without separation... so that gives it a real jazz feel. The sound we got reminds me a bit of the old Blue Note records..."
The actual music has a very 'jazz' concept to me... The songs might seem intricate or abstract, but they all have a strong jazz essence to them. I feel the pieces allowed the band to develop its own sound and vibe, and every time we perform, we find new ways of playing them that take us to unknown places."
The CD cover art is from a photo of a 1970's work of art my father-in-law painted, which is composed with thousands of puzzle pieces. It's a crazy art piece... He died in 2005, when we were in the middle of a construction zone in the house... It was very emotional for me. My wife and her mother, who's a professional photographer, took all the pictures for the album, so the record has a really strong connection to friends, home, family, life..."
Puzzles closes a kind of trilogy, together with Alexis' previous CDs Metro (2001) and Visual (2004). Without any of the trappings of a studio recording, it plainly displays exactly what it is: an honest recording of a great band.
Highlights on Puzzles: Puzzles opens with the vibrant Bright Light", a sharp and upbeat song with a bit of a pop twinge where all the band members solo with strength and eloquence. Levittation" is a lyrical waltz written for Sean Levitt, a jazz legend that Alexis worked with in the 1990's. The 3rd cut, Quintessential" is the longest and most elaborate composition of the album, with a mini-suite format that showcases Shepik in a blazing guitar solo and Loren Stillman in the closing segment. Alan Ferber joins the band on trombone here as a special guest. Abstract Rhythm" is a very personal take on the classic Rhythm Changes". It features the joint soloing of Shepik and Stillman, and some trading between Alexis and Mark Ferber, where they demonstrate their quasi-ESP connection. 8&1/2" is a Fellini tribute song. With fascinating processed guitar sounds by Brad Shepik, this composition channels the surrealism of the late Italian filmmaker while the band blows freely. The closer track of Puzzles, East 10th Shuffle", features the fire of Alan Ferber's trombone soloing as well as great interventions by Shepik and Mark Ferber. With a feel that borrows a bit from Miles Davis' Jack Johnson's" album, it feels like the right desert to a great meal.
. . . the spirit of the organization is firmly rooted in Brooklyn. All of the members reside there, and they wanted to give a nod to the vitality of its scene." - The Wall Street Journal
Anne Mette Iversen - Best of West (AMI & 4Corners String Quartet) + Many Places (AMI Quartet) (BJUR 002), Anne Mette Iversen Quartet is - AMI (bass & compositions), John Ellis (saxophones), Danny Grissett (piano), Otis Brown III (drums). 4Corners String Quartet - Tine Rudloff (violin), Sarah McClelland Jacobsen (violin), Anne Lindeskov (viola), Mats Larsson (cello): A jazz-suite for double-quartet, Best of the West (disc 1) was written by Anne Mette Iversen for her jazz quartet and the string quartet, 4Corners. Musically Best of the West is inspired and has grown out of Ms. Iversen's background in both jazz and classical music, and aims to bring together these two; for the bassist/composer, maybe the two most profound/sophisticated music traditions of western culture."
Best of the West is, so far, the pinnacle of Ms. Iversen's compositional writings, as it succeeds in bringing together jazz and classical music on equal terms. The piece is written in four movements like a classical symphony, and the musical union happens as each movement is based on a traditional classical form, being: EAST" - Allegro (medium/up), SOUTH" - Adagio (slow), WEST" - Menuet (waltz), NORTH" - Presto (fast). The musical content is derived mainly from the jazz language, although there are times within the suite, where the writing, particularly for the strings, is best described as contemporary classical music.
The piece expresses variety in feeling and emotion that bring into focus the multifaceted world we live in; i.e. a world which requires open-mindedness and focus on communication between cultures as a central ingredient in our lives. This theme is underlined in the music particularly in that the string-quartet and the jazz-quartet maintain their identity and individuality throughout the piece. Unlike most meetings of jazz and classical music, where one style performs a subservient role, or both styles are diluted beyond recognition, Best of the West manages to present each group and style at it's most compelling, and this way, in purely musical terms; it illustrates the beauty of concepts such as interaction, conversation, dialog and mutual support.
The Anne Mette Iversen Quartet has made three records together and has toured Europe every year for the past three years. Many Places (disc 2) compiles music from various periods of these three years, and on this recording the quartet has matured into one unit, one voice, one identity; speaking in the musical language of Anne Mette Iversen, but flavored with the individual voices of each band member.
There is no overall programmatic idea to the album, but rather different personal stories behind each tune. Many Places" toys with the theme that one can settle down many places, i.e. anywhere, and create an at home" feeling; because man can adopt to any situation as long as one stays true to oneself and one's own needs. 2004" is simply a description of a certain swinging moment; Milo Man" is a reflection and an ode to Anne Mette's first born son; and Out the Atlantic" is saying goodbye to life on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. Pjerrot's Smile" is the comic teasing figure that will run around in circles with you; and Sambavian" is an attempt gone off track" to express Anne Mette's love for Brazilian music. The three tunes Cataldo One", Cataldo Ballad" and The Square in Ravello" are all composed during an artist residency on the Amalfi Coast in Italy in 2006. They are respectively 1) trying to catch the hectic New York atmosphere from afar, 2) capturing the beauty of the Amalfi Coast, and 3) watching the children in play on the center square in front of the church in Ravello.
With Best of the West and Many Places, Anne Mette Iversen presents two (or more) sides of her musical identity in all its glory, offering a burst of creativity and beauty from the fertile and imaginative mind of a Brooklyn-based artist.
There's power in numbers, and a bunch of local musicians have united to share their ideas and enhance their visibility" . . . the breadth (and singularity) of these up-and- comers will be obvious" - The Village Voice
Bernard Emer Lackner Ferber - Night For Day (BJUR 003), Will Bernard (guitar), Andrew Emer (bass), Benny Lackner (piano), Mark Ferber (drums): Bernard Emer Lackner Ferber is a new collective of four distinct musicians (coincidentally all Californians transplanted in NYC) who have come together to create a unique blend of sounds comprised of Will Bernard's blues and New Orleans influences, blended with Emer and Lackner's free form compositions, and Ferber's propulsive, highly interactive drumming. Bernard, Emer and Lackner have all developed their individual sound by leading their own bands for years. On Night For Day these artists coalesce into a four headed juggernaut. Individually they have performed around the world, and are now planning their first European tour for October, 2008.
Benny and Andrew met and began their musical collaboration thirteen years ago at Cal Arts in California where they were both studying with Charlie Haden. Over the years, they have remained great friends but never had a chance to truly collaborate together due to other musical obligations. In the Summer of 2007 they met Will Bernard while teaching a week long jazz camp for kids in California. This included faculty concerts which revealed that there was something special among this mixture. With Bernard moving to Brooklyn shortly after, the dye was cast and they recorded Night For Day one month later. Adding Mark Ferber was a natural choice since not only is Mark a fellow Californian, but also someone which both Benny and Andrew have been playing with for over a decade. The drummer brings the perfect amount of taste and sensibility to compliment the varying influences of this group. The album title is open for interpretation," says bassist Emer; I see it as the yin and yang, or heaven and earth, of making music and art - day and night."
In addition to the nine original compositions on the album by various members of the ensemble, the group also covers Billy Strayhorn's Heaven." Emer commented on the decision to record this Strayhorn gem, it's pure heaven and is the only standard we wanted on the record- it just says so much and is such a simple song." Other highlights include Dry Tortugas," borrowing the name of islands off the coast of Florida, but the song itself is more about a drunk guy swaggering through the night," says Emer. Pianohaus" was written by Lackner in Germany at a piano store where he would routinely practice. Waltz" was written as a folk song by Emer, a spiritual of sorts about the the cruelty of battle and the longing for home." Chicken Pox" is about - you guessed it - the chicken pox. Night For Day signals the arrival of a group that will be amongst a host of young musicians carrying jazz into the future with an adventurous and enterprising spirit. Night For Day is surely the first of many recordings we will see from this brilliant group.
More on Bernard Emer Lackner Ferber: In 1998, guitarist Will Bernard released his debut CD as a leader, Medicine Hat on Verve/Antilles. Subsequently Will self produced two Albums Will Bernard and Motherbug (2001) and Directions to My House (2005) both on his own label. He has led his bands at The Monterey, North Sea, SF Jazz, Bumbershoot, Be- Bop and Brew, Montreal, Vancouver and The High Sierra festivals, as well as at clubs across the country and throughout Canada, opening for Herbie Hancock and the Head Hunters, Jimmy McGriff, The Funky Meters, John Scofield, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Zigaboo Modeliste and the Charlie Hunter Quartet. More recently Will has been working with a range of musicians that include Robert Walter, Stanton Moore, Dr Lonnie Smith, Idris Muhammad, Adam Deitch, Zigaboo Modeliste, and John Medeski. 2007 brought the release of the Grammy nominated recording Party Hats. Benny Lackner, a member of the Brooklyn Jazz Underground, has recorded five albums as a leader and has led his band on several extensive European tours. Born in Berlin (raised in California from age 13), Lackner has worked with artists such as Billy Higgins, Marc Ribot, Brad Shepik, Pheeroan akLaff, and is now residing in NYC where is working with his internationally touring trio, recently sharing bills with artists as Elvis Costello, the Jazz Passengers, Sex Mob, Vijay Iyer, Ralph Alessi and many others. Andrew Emer has toured and performed with Jazz legends including Billy Higgins, Lee Konitz & Donald Byrd. To call drummer Mark Ferber ubiquitous is a major understatement. Maintaining a busy playing schedule in Europe and on both the coasts of the States, he has worked with Lee Konitz, David Liebman, Don Byron, Norah Jones, Kenny Werner, Steve Swallow, Fred Hersch, Billy Childs, Bud Shank, Anthony Wilson, Larry Goldings, brother Alan Ferber, and many others. Ferber is also a part time faculty member for the City College of New York and the School of Improvisational Music. He currently resides in Brooklyn.
The members of The BJU, and the artists on BJURecords, serve an important role in our culture and society by providing a bustle of recording, composing, playing and teaching that enriches, delights, provokes, inspires and educates.
BJURecords Artists' CD Release Celebrations/Performances: Friday, May 23 @ The Jazz Gallery (www.jazzgallery.org): ALEXIS CUADRADO PUZZLES QUARTET - CD Release Celebration for Puzzles Alexis Cuadrado (bass), Loren Stillman (alto sax), Brad Shepik (guitar), Mark Ferber (drums)
Saturday, May 24 @ The Jazz Gallery: ANNE METTE IVERSEN QUARTET Anne Mette Iversen (bass), John Ellis (saxophones), Danny Grissett (piano), Otis Brown III (drums) & AMI QUARTET & 4CORNERS (strings) CD Release Celebration for the double disc release - Best of the West/Many Places
Saturday, JUNE 14 @ Smalls: BERNARD EMER LACKNER FERBER - CD Release Celebration for Night For Day Benny Lackner (piano), Will Bernard (guitar), Andrew Emer (bass), George Schuller (drums)
This story appears courtesy of Jason Byrne, Red Cat Publicity.
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