Harris Eisenstadt’s Canada Day Out Today

October 6, 2009

Drummer/composer Harris Eisenstadt‘s latest release, Canada Day (Clean Feed), officially hits the streets today.

The record, the Toronto native’s eighth as a bandleader, is the debut of his primary working ensemble, also called Canada Day, featuring Nate Wooley (trumpet), Matt Bauder (tenor saxophone), Chris Dingman (vibraphone) and Eivind Opsvik (bass).

It documents his original book of music for the group, which was written for the specific musical personalities of these musicians and developed in live performances in New York and beyond over the past three years.

“The material on the group’s self-titled album is as exciting as it is diverse,” declares Dusted‘s Marc Medwin, “with any clichés about group telepathy sounding entirely appropriate. Precision and spontaneity make every gesture simultaneously soloistic and supportive as the structures wend their complex but catchy ways forward. He’s the lynchpin of an exciting aggregate.”

“Drawing upon some of the best new talent in the Brooklyn scene,” explains AllAboutJazz.com’s Troy Collins, “Eisenstadt’s formidable quintet is as capable of adventurous timbral explorations as they are of in-the-pocket swing. Blending a mid-’60s Blue Note vibe with elastic post-rock grooves and subtle West African influences, Eisenstadt successfully unites his assorted interests into a cohesive ensemble sound. An accessible blend of inside and outside traditions delivered by an empathetic young ensemble, Canada Day is a welcome addition to the burgeoning discography of one of the new generation’s leading composers.”

AllMusic.com’s Michael G. Nastos adds, “A composer of great depth and diversity, Eisenstadt proves a fine trap drummer for this recording, and a formidable bandleader who deserves more recognition in both areas. The cohesion of the ensemble, glued by the steady, steaming, streaming rhythms of Eisenstadt, keeps the listener focused and compelled to hear more…this is a strong candidate for Top Ten status in the category of best jazz CDs of 2009.”

You can learn more about Eisenstadt, Canada Day, and his many other projects in a new interview by Clifford Allen posted yesterday at AllAboutJazz.com

And, the band will be celebrating its new release with Northeast tour dates in New York, Toronto, Buffalo and Rochester starting October 24th. Details are available here.

Firehouse 12 To Present The Steve Lehman Trio October 9th

September 9, 2009
Photo by Dominik Huber

Photo by Dominik Huber

On Friday, October 9th, New Haven’s Firehouse 12 will present innovative saxophonist/composer Steve Lehman‘s only area performance this year as part its fifth annual Fall Jazz Series. Lehman, who grew up in Hartford before earning two degrees at Wesleyan University during studies with Anthony Braxton and Jackie McLean, will be performing selections from his latest release, Travail, Transformation, and Flow (Pi Recordings). Originally composed for his octet, the music, which daringly integrates elements of spectral harmony into jazz, has been meticulously arranged for this acoustic trio featuring bassist Chris Tordini and drummer Damion Reid.

“With Travail, Transformation, and Flow,” writes the Washington City Paper‘s Michael J. West, “alto saxophonist Steve Lehman makes a rare offering to the jazz world: a thoroughly alternative principle of improvisation. Lehman’s deeply compelling harmonies and textures sound noticeably different from anything before it, but the music doesn’t have the threat-to-everything-we-know-and-love trappings of prior upheavals. The mysterious and open-ended tensions on Travail are a powerful lure into an advanced and challenging set of music that firmly establishes Lehman as a major force in jazz’s avant-garde without taking the music too far out for comfort.”

Critics have called him “an inspired talent” (John Fordham, The Guardian) and “one of the rising stars in modern creative jazz” (Michael G. Nastos, AllMusic.com), noting that “Steve Lehman is thinking about jazz in a new way” (Will Layman, PopMatters.com) by opening “his own corridor of exploration” (Nate Chinen, New York Times). L.A. Weekly‘s Chris Barton adds, “Lehman’s heady excursions remain unique and engaging to the listener whatever your knowledge of musical theory.” In addition to leading his own bands, Lehman is a member of such prominent creative music ensembles as the Anthony Braxton 12+1tet and Fieldwork. He is also an instructor and departmental fellow at Columbia University, where he is a doctoral candidate in music composition. Learn more at http://www.stevelehman.com

2009 Fall Jazz Series Schedule:

09/18 :: Brandon Ross & Blazing Beauty
09/25 :: Matt Wilson Quartet
10/02 :: Mauger: Rudresh Mahanthappa/Mark Dresser/Gerry Hemingway
10/09 :: Steve Lehman Trio
10/16 :: Gretchen Parlato Band
10/23 :: Whirrr! The Music of Jimmy Giuffre
10/30 :: Taylor Eigsti Trio
11/06 :: ODE: Larry Ochs/Trevor Dunn/Lisle Ellis/Michael Sarin
11/13 :: The Peter Evans Quartet
11/20 :: Darius Jones Trio
12/04 :: Mary Halvorson Quintet
12/11 :: Amy Cervini Quartet
12/18 :: Daniel Levin Trio

Tickets and more information available at:

Darcy James Argue To Perform At New Languages Festival & Jazz Gallery In September

July 21, 2009
Photo by Ben Anaman

Photo by Ben Anaman

This September, composer/conductor Darcy James Argue and his 18-piece steampunk big band, Secret Society, will perform in New York on two consecutive nights.

On Thursday, September 17th at 11:30 p.m., the group will appear at the fifth annual New Languages Festival at McCarren Hall in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The following night, at 9:00 and 10:30 p.m, Argue and the ensemble will return to Manhattan’s Jazz Gallery, which commissioned two of the tracks heard on its acclaimed debut, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam). These concerts will mark the first-ever performances of Argue’s latest composition.

Critics have credited Argue with creating “a nearly perfect creative synthesis between tradition and innovation” (John Eyles, BBC.com), “a fully integrated sound world as current as it is timeless” (Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com) and “startling and satisfying original music played by some very impressive musicians” (Michael G. Nastos, AllMusic.com).

“We’re just past the halfway point, and the acclaimed young bandleader’s Infernal Machines is 2009’s consensus jazz disc,” adds the Village Voice‘s Jim Macnie. “A fanfare here, a freak-out there, enough dark hues and ingenious oddities to woo a twenty-something audience that doesn’t know or care about the ancient stack o’ riffs that big bands were built on; it’s all here.”

A native of Vancouver, and former member of the Montreal jazz scene, Argue moved to New York in 2003 after earning a Master’s Degree in Boston while studying with legendary composer Bob Brookmeyer. Since the debut of Secret Society in 2005, he has become one of the most visible and respected musicians in New York, as well as one of the jazz world’s most prolific and influential bloggers.

His recent career highlights include profiles in publications such as the New York ObserverNewsweek, the Wall Street Journal and the Village Voice, three nominations in this year’s Jazz Journalists Association Awards and performances at such notable European venues as the Bimhuis in Amsterdam and the legendary Moers Festival in Germany. Learn more at http://secretsociety.typepad.com

AllMusic.com: Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines

June 29, 2009

“If you enjoy the efforts of Gil Evans, Bob Brookmeyer, Carla Bley, Maria Schneider, Guillermo Klein, NOJO or Jason Lindner’s big band in modern times,” writes Michael G. Nastos in his newly posted review of Infernal Machines at AllMusic.com, “you’ll surely enjoy this finely crafted effort from Argue, supported by a combination of New York veterans and newcomers.”

He adds, “The combined layering of sounds, vibrant color palate, and marvelous inventive writing makes for some startling and satisfying original music played by some very impressive musicians.”

Michael Musillami’s From Seeds Released Today

May 19, 2009

Playscape Recordings is proud to announce today’s release of the Michael Musillami Trio + 3’s From Seeds, the first title released in the label’s 10th anniversary year.

The follow-up to 2007’s The Treatment, his trio’s critically acclaimed collaboration with renowned violinist Mark Feldman, this release finds guitarist/composer Michael Musillami augmenting his seven year-old trio, featuring bassist Joe Fonda and drummer George Schuller, with trumpeter Ralph Alessi, multi-instrumentalist Marty Ehrlich and vibraphonist Matt Moran.

The group will celebrate the new disc this week with performances at New Haven’s Firehouse 12 (May 22), Teaneck’s The Puffin Foundation (May 23) and New York’s Cornelia Street Cafe (May 24).

What the critics are saying:

“Building on the jazz tradition with graceful strides, From Seeds is one of Musillami’s finest efforts, and a high water mark for a label whose longstanding dedication to quality is documented in each release.”
Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com

“[Musillami] continues to assert himself not only as a very competent performer, but especially as one of the most innovative composers on the scene. This sextet is potent, equally as able to turn on a dime, ride with the wind, or hop aboard a freight train of steaming power and perseverance…a marvelous new music recording of great depth and vision that retains its vibrancy upon repeated plays…highly recommended.”
Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide

“As much as any of their trio dates, From Seeds shows Musillami, Fonda and Schuller to be one of the finest working units in jazz today, with or without the ‘+3’.”
 —Robert Iannapollo, AllAboutJazz-New York

“If you have been impressed with the guitarist’s mature and intelligent compositions, here are six more. If you have listened over the years, you already know that Musillami is an intrepid arranger and when given the opportunity to score his music, he does so with wit and polish. From Seeds is an aural delight, one more stellar recording from Michael Musillami.”
Richard Kamins, Hartford Courant

AMG Review: Harris Eisenstadt’s Guewel

May 8, 2009

Michael G. Nastos’ review of drummer/composer Harris Eisenstadt‘s most recent recording, Guewel (Clean Feed Records), is now posted at AllMusic.com.

“Eisenstadt’s vision for this music, the arrangements he has certainly painstaking produced, and how this incredible band executes them to the max, results in some fabulous, truly original music that deserves many repeat listenings,” writes Nastos. 

“Guewel (the Wolof term for griot story tellers or hereditary musicians) is an essential modern recording that deserves all the accolades one can bestow, and is highly recommended to all progressive jazz and world music listeners without reservation.”

All Music Guide Review: Michael Musillami’s From Seeds

May 4, 2009

Michael G. Nastos’ review of the Michael Musilliami Trio + 3’s forthcoming release, From Seeds (Playscape Recordings), is now posted at All Music Guide. The disc, which features Musillami’s new sextet with Ralph Alessi, Marty Ehrlich, Joe Fonda, Matt Moran and George Schuller, officially hits the streets on May 19th.

“Moving further into the realm of truly original modern creative music,” Nastos writes, “[Musillami] continues to assert himself not only as a very competent performer, but especially as one of the most innovative composers on the scene. This sextet is potent, equally as able to turn on a dime, ride with the wind, or hop aboard a freight train of steaming power and perseverance…a marvelous new music recording of great depth and vision that retains its vibrancy upon repeated plays…highly recommended.”

Catch the group live on tour May 22-24 at Firehouse 12, The Puffin Foundation and Cornelia Street Cafe.