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Jazz - To be released January 1, 2050 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - To be released November 13, 2020 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - To be released October 23, 2020 | Blue Note Records

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Pop - Released October 20, 2020 | Blue Note Records

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Pop - Released October 20, 2020 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released October 9, 2020 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released October 9, 2020 | Blue Note Records

Rainbow Sign is trumpeter/composer Ron Miles' debut recording for Blue Note. He re-enlists the same intuitive quintet who played on 2017's I Am a Man. It features guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist Jason Moran, bassist Thomas Morgan, and drummer Brian Blade. Written during the summer of 2018 while caring for his dying father, these nine compositions were intended to provide empathy, peace, love, and reassurance to his transitioning parent and his family. Clocking in at over 71 minutes, Rainbow Sign bridges polytonal modal music, blues, gospel, post-bop, and pop. The long opener "Like Those Who Dream" commences with sparse, seemingly unrelated piano and bass notes, droning trumpet tones, and guitar harmonics, with Blade's syncopated snare offering skeletal rhythmic miniatures. A pulse emerges from the front line at two minutes in, and Miles moves into deep blues. He and Frisell twin through gorgeously scripted lyric lines as the rhythm section floats atop and around his modal blues. The trumpeter's solo sings with pain and resonance as Moran's expansive comping is colored by Frisell's intelligent chord voicings before embarking on his own break. Single "Queen of the South" was inspired by Ethiopian pop, and is so songlike it's hummable. The lyric and textural interaction between Miles, Morgan, and Frisell entwines then separates for Moran who grounds the harmony in a majestic cadence as Blade plays around the beat before stretching it. The drummer employs muted tom-toms to introduce the haunting, minor-key ballad "Average." Its impressionist melodic center assumes a dominant role even as it shifts to allow for tonal variances from Frisell and Moran. "The Rumor" is infused with a drifting Americana melody from the guitarist. In a stately 4/4, Moran embellishes and extrapolates the harmony while Blade's dialogues with him intimately before Miles opens the circle thematically with muted blues lines and phrases before delivering an artfully rendered solo. "Custodian of the New" is a post-bop number with intersecting rhythms. Moran, with Miles and Frisell in tow, interrogate a layered, labyrinthine lyric as Morgan and Blade drive it with almost rockist force. "A Kind Word" closes with dramatic harmonic ideas amid multivalent rhythmic interplay. Its six-note boogaloo riff offers Moran room for chordal extrapolation while Frisell and Miles travel the lyric's outer reaches with gorgeous sonic effects as they inquire about its nuances and sense impressions. Rainbow Sign is a deeply personal album for Miles. It's a work rife with dignity and emotional and spiritual power, performed with grace and taste by this gifted quintet. It builds on I Am a Man with song-like compositions, and more intimate and intuitive dialogue, resulting in a very different, yet equally compelling listening experience. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released September 11, 2020 | Blue Note Records

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Super groups are often over marketed and rather dull. However, this appears to be the complete opposite with Artemis’s debut album, released on Blue Note Records. Behind the Artemis name, Greek Goddess of nature, the hunt and childbirth, are seven internationally acclaimed female musicians, each masters of their craft. At the head of this multi generational roundup, the Canadian pianist and musical director of the project, Renee Rosnes has brought together the Israeli clarinetist Anat Cohen, the Chilean tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, the Canadian trompettiste Ingrid Jensen, the Japanese double bassist Noriko Ueda, the American drummer Allison Miller, and on two tracks, the Franco-American vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant. ‘Each member of Artemis is a unique individual, and this is what music needs, artistic versatility!’, explains Cohen. ‘It’s the people that make life interesting and that make music captivating’. The group’s identity has flourished organically thanks to the seven musicians, each expressing their own vison and perspective yet maintaining a strong homogeneity throughout the record. For Jensen, ‘the character of the Greek Goddess Artemis reveals the energy and the broad musical horizons that our band brings on stage’. This is where the success of the record, focused on natural unification, shines. This vast album, comprised mainly of original compositions also features eclectic covers of The Fool On The Hill by the Beatles, Cry Buttercup, Cry, popularised by Maxine Sullivan, The Sidewinder by Lee Morgan and If It’s Magic by Stevie Wonder. Expert in her field, Renee Rosnes’ musical arrangements capture and cement the artistic creativity of each member. This super group, entirely female in its line-up, sends a strong message to the male dominated jazz world. Artemis’ music is beautiful, intelligent, and challenges the preconceived ideas of the jazz genre. ©️ Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released September 11, 2020 | Blue Note Records

The all women jazz collective's debut showcases their improvisational virtuosity and deeply textured sound. © TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 27, 2020 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released August 27, 2020 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released August 14, 2020 | Blue Note Records

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Before we marvel at the high-altitude interplay of the Bill Frisell Trio or the sometimes extreme sonic gyrations of its leader, let's begin at the most basic level—with stark, simple, standalone guitar declarations. Frisell opens several pieces on Valentine this way, in the clear. He'll send a carefully plucked single note out into the air, and then, after it subsides, he'll drop another. Tone is his only lure, and it's all he needs to suggest the framework of a tune like "Levees:" The initial phrase operates like an opening scene in a film, establishing a thick and specific atmosphere. Out of that blossoms a six-minute exploration in which Frisell, bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Rudy Royston travel between strict tempo and drifty listlessness, blues repetition and free-jazz high dives, jittery conversation and disquieting silences. From a single note, there are many resonances; Frisell has been doing this kind of quiet alchemy for years, of course. Valentine is among the most rousing works in his extensive discography in part because it's so relentlessly visual. On just about every piece, Frisell and his trio work transfixingly together to conjure dirt-road sojurns and nature vistas out of thin air. They create contemplative spaces the jazz academy never visits. They dance through a blithe, lighthearted reading of Burt Bacharach's "What The World Needs Now" and a disquieting sorrow-filled version of "We Shall Overcome." And on many of Frisell's skeletal originals (the stunning "Keep Your Eyes Open," for example), they transform their three-way improvised abstractions into clear, singable music that has the sturdy narrative arc of classic country music. As these journeys unfold, it becomes clear that right along with the spontaneity there's some deep intention at work. The stylistic juxtapositions and sudden changes in density are hardly random. Neither are the fragile little introductions—somehow they're all Frisell needs to telegraph where he's going. As in so many aspects of life, the tone is set from the top. © Tom Moon/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released August 14, 2020 | Blue Note Records

Bill Frisell's catalog is as vast as it is diverse. Whenever he releases an album, the question is often, "which Frisell will show up?" On Valentine, the debut offering from the guitarist's 2020 trio with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Rudy Royston, he offers a multi-dimensional display of his many identities. Frisell has led few recorded trio offerings, although he performs in that setting most often. This rhythm section jumped into the studio immediately after a well-reviewed two-week run at the Village Vanguard in New York and that live sense of presence and intuition is ever present. The program consists mainly of radically re-visioned versions of tunes Frisell's recorded before, but he re-investigates the older material with fresh ears and delivers it accordingly. Check "Baba Drame," the set opener by Malian guitarist Boubacar Traoré. It appeared as a droning desert blues with the composer's vocals and Jenny Scheinman's haunted violin on 2003's The Intercontinentals. Here it's breezier, lighter, and jazzier, with multi-tracked drones framed by earthy tom-toms and a syncopated bassline. Frisell's title track owes a large debt to Thelonious Monk's "Well, You Needn't" with its angular yet melodic introduction and complex rhythmic approach. Before long, it opens in a loose yet engaged trio interplay that swings the post-bop blues balanced by somewhat abstracted improv. "Levees," penned for the soundtrack to Bill Morrison's 2014 documentary The Great Flood, is directly inspired by the Delta tradition. This version is multi-dimensional thanks to the rhythm section's deft inquiry. The trio focus on offering notes and tones just outside the frame of those Frisell plays. "Keep Your Eyes Open" was one of the most lyrical tunes to appear on 1997's Nashville. Its melodicism falls inside a quicker tempo and a stripped arrangement -- sans strummed acoustic guitars or dobros. This version of Billy Strayhorn's classic "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing," is rendered with elegance, grace, and subtle harmonic questions amid its gentle swing. "Electricity" moves from modal blues to nursery rhyme to euphoric post-bop. "Aunt Mary" is a postmodern parlor waltz; it blurs notions between folk song and chamber jazz. Burt Bacharach's and Hal David's "What the World Needs Now," marks the third time Frisell has cut it. This is the most nuanced and revealing of all; it maps the tune's harmonic subtleties in a lithe modern jazz approach. Introduced by pinched guitar harmonics, set-closer "We Shall Overcome" is presented (at least initially) as a reverential shuffle. Its chart revels in the stirring melody that reveals its roots in Rev. Dr. Charles Albert Tindley's pre-War gospel original, circa 1900. Valentine is a portrait of this trio at a creative peak. While not the liveliest record in Frisell's catalog, it is one of his most inquiring, rhythmically inventive, and lyrical. Given his voluminous discography, that's saying plenty. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 7, 2020 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released August 7, 2020 | Blue Note Records

Immanuel Wilkins is a 23-year-old saxophonist and composer. Though well-known to musicians since he was a teen, his excellent playing on Joel Ross' acclaimed 2019 debut KingMaker caught the attention of jazz fans. Wilkins' tone is warm, but sometimes searing, and capable of expressing deep emotion with technical aplomb. His phrasing is eloquent, sometimes angular, and his compositions reflect a complex harmonic system derived equally from gospel, blues, spiritual post-bop, and the musical thinking of Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. Omega was produced by pianist/mentor Jason Moran. Wilkins' quartet includes pianist Micah Thomas, bassist Daryl Johns, and drummer Kweku Sumbry. The tunes here reflect Wilkins' feelings about the ongoing struggle begun by the Civil Rights movement in the 20th century and carried on by Black Lives Matter in the 21st. Lush melody and shifting tempos govern opener "Warriors." Jones takes the first solo, moving across jazz history with an expansive, swinging sensibility. The rhythm section's interplay is knotty and tight, addressing Jones' right-hand runs with physicality. "Ferguson: An American Tradition" frames the communities' reaction to the 2014 killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown, Jr. by a police officer who was later acquitted. Wilkins offers an elegy as his intro, portraying the event in reverse. It becomes more intense as piano and percussion fire in tandem; Wilkins' solo bridges them, its motion and rumbling dissent are colored by grief, sorrow, and immense pain. "The Dreamer," honoring James Weldon Johnson (the first executive secretary of the NAACP) is almost contemplative, with speculative piano chords, a sparse bassline, and brushed cymbals. Wilkins' lyric statement and solo are abundant in tenderness and empathy. "Mary Turner: An American Tradition" is a turbulent, angry, and inventive composition about the brutal murder of a pregnant black woman lynched (and worse) by a Georgia mob in 1918, after publicly calling out whites for her husband's murder. "Grace and Mercy" is another respite, its lyricism finds Wilkins and Thomas joining in the melody before the saxist sets it aloft with his fluid solo. The album's centerpiece is a four-part suite of varying rhythmic and harmonic strategies that Wilkins composed at Juilliard. First, "The Key" offers subdued gospel tones with single alto notes as Johns plays chords and Sembry dances on his cymbals. "Saudade" is knotty modern post-bop that crisscrosses modalism with swing, and allows everyone a solo. "Eulogy" is a ballad entwining sax lines with slightly staggered piano chords as the rhythm section delivers angular asides, adding tension to the sweetness. Closing movement "Guarded Heart" weds an elegant modal lyric to fiery, heated, yet always graceful group improvisation. The title-track closer comes right out of John Coltrane's Impressions period. Jones counters with striated Latin rhythms and comps as Johns and Sumbry embrace both and Wilkins' solo buoys them in exploring outer dimensions. All told, it amounts to Omega as an auspicious, extremely impressive debut from an artist who arrives fully formed as a bandleader. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 6, 2020 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released August 6, 2020 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released August 6, 2020 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released August 6, 2020 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released July 17, 2020 | Blue Note Records

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This time capsule, recorded in 1959 in Rudy Van Gelder's Hackensack, NJ, living room and left undisturbed in the Blue Note vaults until now, contains the essential DNA of the first flowering of hard bop in the late '50s. All the genre hallmarks are present: There are intricate chase-scene originals and clever arrangements (the standard "Close Your Eyes") and brash blues-inflected outbursts that light up the solos. And yet, transcending those individual traits, defining not just the notes but the very spirit of the endeavor, is a quality that doesn't get discussed enough in jazz—precision, as in persnickety dotted i's and crossed t's. At times it's downright startling hearing these five musicians nail the details to the wall. They're hardly "just coolin'" here; they're attentive to the small nuances of tunes that might have been written the morning of the session. You can detect the commitment in the pitch-bending doiiiits and the staccato single-note jabs, in the explosion of a long-cresting press roll and the deliberate, nothing-extra stride of a Blakey-trademarked medium-tempo swing. You can hear it in the way trumpeter Lee Morgan and tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley phrase together, adding grace notes that are almost inaudible but key nonetheless. And you can't miss it in the thrillingly open lanes where the solos happen. Blakey was revered for the communication he cultivated between musicians; using a repertoire of hits and jabs, he pulled his collaborators into rich, sometimes boisterous discussions, a mode of interplay that in many ways defines hard bop. There are plenty of examples on this record, but perhaps the most crystalline comes during Morgan's first few choruses on "Jimerick," a blazing uptempo blues. He begins with a short inversion of the theme, first restating it in a lazy way. Then he articulates more aggressively, as though trying to establish consensus on the tempo. Blakey picks that up, and jabs out an even sharper response from the metal rim of the snare drum. That unleashes some mean Morgan double-time bebop; what began as a single-note bugle call becomes an intricate conversation. Each element of that conversation is notable for its clarity, and each new soloist contributes to it in a different way—check the unhurried, wonderfully lucid way Mobley carves up the opening "Hipsippy Blues." The tune is one of three originals Mobley wrote for the date, and if it's familiar that's because it was included on a monumental live recording captured a few months later—At the Jazz Corner of the World, a fiery and complex document that's become part of the "essential listening" jazz canon. Just Coolin', which is apparently the only other recording of this short lived incarnation of the group, might be a step below that in terms of intensity. But only a step. © Tom Moon/Qobuz

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