The Newport Jazz Festival is back, and Boston Concert Reviews was there to see it all

Real music lovers can find the melody in everything. From the park to the concert hall, our friend Nelson Brill is always on the hunt for great sound. In this blog, we welcome the return of the Newport Jazz Festival. Nelson was there in order to share the performances with you, from time-honored veterans to fresh voices of the festival.


NEWPORT JAZZ FESTIVAL 2021 – A HAVEN FOR FRESH SOUNDS AND RESILIENT SPIRIT

By Nelson Brill September 1, 2021

America’s music, Jazz, is on the move again. The joys of hearing live jazz continued this summer with the return, (after a one-year hiatus), of the 67th Edition of The Newport Jazz Festival (“Newport Jazz”) (www.newportjazz.org) held at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, Rhode Island from July 30th-August 1st. Newport Jazz, directed by the singular impresario George Wein for over sixty years and now captained by its Artistic Director, Christian McBride, continues to be a fertile ground for music of experimentation and verve reflecting the diversity of today’s America and its political and social movements. At the Saturday session, the sold-out crowd was teeming with young people, Black and White mingling together, clearly demonstrating that McBride and his staff have succeeded in advancing Wein’s legacy in presenting jazz that continues to be a unifying force and an inspiration for all ages.

Mavis Staples at Newport Jazz – photo by Jim Brock

The 95-year old Wein, (on a video call from New York City) welcomed to the Newport Jazz Lawn Stage one of his contemporaries, the singular Mavis Staples, who performed her magnetic “down home” Chicago blues and gospel-tinged songs before her dancing, adorning audience. After Wein’s introduction, the indomitable Mavis grabbed her microphone, punched her fists into the air and launched into the classic Staples Singers’ tune, “I’ll Take You There!” dancing alongside her tight-knit band: guitarist Rick Holmstrom, bassist Jeff Trumes, drummer Stephen Hodges and singers Donny Gerrard and Vicki Randle.

The band dug deep into several songs taken from their superb live recording, Live In London [Anti Records; www.ANTI.com]. They hunkered down on the deep grooves of the bristling “Who Told You That?” and rocked away on a spunky version of the Talking Head’s classic, “Slippery People”. Their pulsating “Can You Get To That” rode on Trumes’ thundering bass, Holmstrom’s melodic pulses and Mavis’ reveling vocals, accented by deep bass plunges from singer Donny Gerrard.

Holmstrom and Mavis made for a particularly joyful musical partnership. Mavis would lovingly clap the dapper Holmstrom on his back for his animated guitar solos that teemed with stinging notes and crisp rhythm-guitar sparks. Mavis’ voice was in fine form. Her voice still packs emotional power with its dusky low calls or gospel-rich leaps. Her bracing voice propelled the rollicking classic, “Respect Yourself!” and mined poignantly the soulful depths of the gospel gem, “Wade In The Water”. During this song, Mavis preached to the crowd about keeping up the fight against injustices and hatred (repeating in soaring calls, “My soul is anchored!).

Ledisi at Newport Jazz- photo by Jim Brock

Mavis and her band’s joyful performance at Newport Jazz was a perfect segue to hearing a fresh voice on the R&B and jazz scene, Ledisi Anibade Young, (known simply as “Ledisi”), whose music is also greatly influenced by down-home blues and gospel power. Ledisi swept onto the Quad Stage and took the audience by storm with her commanding voice– warm, lustrous and expressive – in intrepid exploration of the songbook of one of her heroes, the legendary Nina Simone. Accompanied by her sterling and nimble band, Ledisi launched into Simone’s “Do I Move You?” with deliberate stride, her silvery fluid voice capturing the power and sensual glow of this song’s slow-burning zeal.

If you are a vinyl fan, find at your local record store an original pressing, (or refer to the online catalogue of Analogue Productions (www.acousticsounds.com] for their excellent re-master) of the seminal blues recording, Nina Simone Sings The Blues [RCA LSP-3789]. On this brilliant recording, Simone entwines “Do I Move You?” with singular vocal power. This entire album is a treat (one of my favorite blues albums) and when it is heard on a reference high quality audio system, (in my room, FM Acoustics 123 phono preamplifier; Holborne turntable with Fuuga cartridge feeding Goldmund Telos 590 Next Gen. II Integrated Amplifier and Seidenton loudspeakers – see “Nelson’s System” for full details and reviews), Simone appears at her dynamic piano with reach-out and-touch tactile presence and natural imaging, as only vinyl can deliver. Her song, “My Man’s Gone Now” is a luminescent stunner and her “Backlash Blues” a searing indictment of institutional racism.

Back at Newport Jazz, Ledisi’s interpretation of Simone’s funky “Be My Husband” was all sass and inventive vocal flourishes. Another highlight from her concert was the band’s combination of Randy Newman’s powerful anthem “Baltimore” (sung by Simone on her 1978 album of the same name) transformed here into a bold statement. This powerful tune segued into Ledisi’s original song, “Shot Down”, a scathing portrayal of recent police murders led by thunderous big bass, drum thrusts and Ledisi’s glowing charge to the top of her expansive register. (Some of these passionate high flourishes, unfortunately, were marred by the shrill high volume of the sound mix at the Quad Stage for this performance).

Ledisi has just released her Ledisi Sings Nina [BMG Label; www.bmg.com] and this should be a treat to hear judging from her inventive and powerful interpretations of these songs at Newport Jazz. I have also enjoyed exploring Ledisi’s 2020 CD release, The Wild Card [BMG Label] a superb collection of both her originals and covers that teems with her adventurous spirit.

Highlights include the opening ”Anything For You”, (with Ledisi’s voice frolicking high and lithe); the uplifting “Stone” (gospel strong and regal), the swaying bluesy pulse of “Next Time” and the brimming sass of the swinging “What Kind of Love Is That”. Ledisi’s commanding voice flows warmly, earthy and creatively forceful on all of her great R & B and soul-infused adventures.

That same warm R&B flow -that feel for the sinuous groove or funky powerful blast – shares kindred space with the music of two other gifted artists who also appeared at the Saturday edition of Newport Jazz 2021: keyboardist and intrepid composer Robert Glasper (whose colorful “Now or Never” is covered in fine grooving form by Ledisi on her Wild Card) and bold trumpeter and composer, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah.

One of the many formations that the inventive Glasper has lassoed over the years is his “R+R=N” (“Reflect + Respond = Now”) group, consisting (at its core) of Glasper on keyboards, Derrick Hodge on bass, Terrace Martin and Taylor Mcferrin on synthesizers and vocoder and Justin Tyson on drums. R+R=N’s 2018 recording, Collagically Speaking [Blue Note; www.bluenote.com], is an excellent introduction to this alighting music with its shifting rhythms, layered drum and bass textures and inventive spoken-word directness to the power of love and resilience. Listen to the ever-adventurous Derrick Hodge on his sinuous bass (for example, his warm plucky solo introducing the powerful tune, “Her=Now”) or get dancing to R+R=N’s grooving “Resting Warrior”, riding on Adjuah’s streaking trumpet and Martin and McFerrin’s keyboard and synthesizer windswept grooves.

Robert Glasper “Dinner Party” with Kamasi Washington at Newport Jazz – photo by Jim Brock

At their Saturday performance, this core group (aided by talented guests saxophonist Kamasi Washington and vocalist Phoelix), plied their adoring audience with their funky “jazztronica” brew- diverse in its sounds, colors and dance. The group’s performance of “Freeze Tag” added ripples of spoken-word and poetry to their creative mix with Martin’s sax hitting hard in the warm groove propelled by Glasper’s repeating patterns on his lithe keyboard.

Christian Scott atunde Adjuah at Newport Jazz – photo by Jim Brock

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, making a guest appearance with Glasper on Saturday, also appeared with his own spirited band at the Lawn Stage at Newport Jazz, exploring his “Stretch Music”- spanning the globe with influences from bebop to lithe African rhythms. The band’s questing spirit at their Newport Jazz performance included the welcomed addition of flautist Elena Pinderhughes, who plied her sprite instrument with bluesy trills and high, dancing flourishes. Her sparkling flute, combined with Adjuah’s dynamic trumpet, made for a radiant partnership. Her articulate flute dipped and danced with Adjuah’s trumpet- from his highest rapid-fire piercing runs to his tranquil moments (squeezing short breathy bleats from his horn)- all in the service of questing passion and expression. Keyboardist Lawrence Fields, always an intrepid force, added his own twinkling voice to the band’s charisma and invention. His twinkling piano solo on the ballad, “Guinevere” (a David Crosby nugget) glowed with lithe charm. His careening solo on the band’s rollicking version of Herbie Hancock’s “Eye Of The Hurricane” (ranging to every octave of his piano) propelled Hancock’s feast delivered in bold colors and intensity by this consummate, gregarious band.

Another source of open-eared music at Newport Jazz at this Saturday session – one that combined a mercurial jazz band, impassioned vocals, (spoken-word and poetry) with snippets of pre-recorded speeches and nimble DJ action- was the striking music performed by drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and her Social Science, with pianist Aaron Parks, guitarist Matthew Stevens, saxophonist and bassist Morgan Guenin, vocalist Debo Ray and MC, DJ Kassa Overall. Social Science explored original material from their bold 2020 album, Waiting Game [Motema Music; www.motema.com], a quality recording that captures the tactile heat and synergy of these convivial musicians thriving on their songs of deep groove and spoken-word power.

John Watson photo

Every tune on the album is driven by the singular Carrington on her stalwart drum kit. She reliably drives the music’s foundation with inventive, fluid propulsion that sparkles and shines or startles – with her dynamic deep eruptions hitting with audacious power – as the music requires.

At Social Science’s Newport Jazz performance, their”If Not Now” was a funky, grooving power glide with the band laying down mercurial, potent colors. The song ended with the crowd singing along with vocalist Debo Ray on the tune’s swaying and dancing “By-yah, By–yah” choruses. Ray also sang with operatic power (in to her highest silvery register) on the band’s powerful “Anthem”, a song that salutes the resiliency and power of women everywhere. On the band’s shimmering version of Joni Mitchell’s “Love,” Ray’s voice nestled tender in Steven’s guitar washes and Guenin’s spinning warm bass slides. Kassa Overall’s limber percussive effects and snippets of recordings (from women held as political prisoners in recent history) generated the power of “No Justice For Political Prisoners”, a magnetic piece that blazed on Guenin’s muscular sax solo, Steven’s layered guitar hurls and seismic hits from Carrington’s drums. All of this swirling energy empowered the recorded statements by these political prisoners calling for an end to racism and injustices suffered in their own legal cases (and for the advancement of prisoner’s rights everywhere). This was a moving, boundless performance by Social Science, highlighting the transformative power of music in the service of political and personal change.

Kenny Garrett at Newport Jazz – photo by Jim Brock

The feast of exuberant music at Newport Jazz at this Saturday edition concluded with two performances teeming with joyful soar and upbeat possibilities. First up was an explosive performance by venturing saxophonist Kenny Garrett, soaring on his instrument with irresistible groove and power. Garrett delivered geysers of sounds and colors from his gleaming sax – lean and nimble in their quick bursts – throwing back his head to ignite his rapid-fired high calls. His music was a global feast, roughhousing from blues to Cuban rumba with a joyful sense of discovery. Garrett’s trusted bandmates added carousing piano colors, lithe bass lines and big swathes of drum and conga heat to Garrett’s full-bore attack. The apex of this knockout performance occurred when Garrett took off on an extended solo flight on his sax that teemed with breathless runs, blazing trills, deep bleats and swaggering R & B swing ending with a journey into the stratosphere of his register, urged on by a raucous audience riveted to his every blistering run. Garrett’s new album, Sounds From the Ancestors [Mack Avenue Records, www.mackavenue.com], is due out soon and should be a thrill to explore, given his shining, global-inspired performance at Newport Jazz.

Trombone Shorty and Pete Murano at Newport Jazz- photo by Jim Brock

Saturday’s Newport Jazz edition concluded monumentally with a joyful, rollicking performance by Troy Andrews (aka. Trombone Shorty; “Shorty”) and his big band, Orleans Avenue, barnstorming Newport’s Lawn Stage with their kinetic grooves. The energy of this show was irresistible – from the first blares of punctual brass to the appearance of Shorty and his gleaming trombone (lifted to the sky) to deliver his instrument’s breathy, powerful pulses of dance.

The tight-knit Orleans Avenue concentrated on a number of cuts from their terrific 2017 Blue Note label recording, Parking Lot Symphony, a recording that captures this frolicking band in all its tactile, layered heat within the airy confines of the legendary Esplanade Studio in New Orleans, the same studio where Newvelle Records recently recorded their fabulous New Orleans Collection of artists on their impeccable LPs (see my earlier review and www.newvelle-records.com for all information).

The high-wattage fun at Shorty and Orleans Avenue‘s Newport Jazz performance had the capacity crowd dancing from start to finish. The dashing instrumental, “Tripped Out Slim” sent the dancing ablaze with its pumping foundation by baritone saxman BK Jackson and the rest of the band’s tight grooves. “Dirty Water” pranced on the slink of Pete Murano’s electric guitar and on “It Ain’t No Use”, Shorty’s molasses-smooth vocals sashayed alongside the shimmy of brass choruses. On the irresistible anthem, “Where It At?”, Shorty’s gushing and vital trombone led the “Second Line” carouse with its deep pulses and flair while the crowd danced and sung along to the rousing chorus: “I just want my heart back – Where it At?” Here was Newport Jazz at its most funky and playful – a carefree abandon in rejoicing music of resiliency.

sfchronicle.com

*Many thanks to my friend and colleague, Jim Brock [www.eyeonthemusic.com], for his superb photos from all the great action at Newport Jazz this year!


You can read more of Nelson’s concert reviews at www.bostonconcertreviews.com.


Nordost Playlist – September 2021

Nordost products are designed to allow you to enjoy your favorite performances as they were intended to be heard. All of us here are passionate about great music, and want to share our passion with you. Each one of us has our own style… We listen to a wide variety of artists and genres but, in a way, we appreciate them all. We thought that we would share a few of the songs on our own personal playlists with you each month. Some may be classics, some may be brand new, some may not even be to your tastes, but we hope that there is something here for everyone.

Here are some of the songs that we will have on rotation this September.


You can now listen to our monthly playlist here:  TIDAL  | SPOTIFY  |  QOBUZ


  1. Cruel—St. Vincent—Strange Mercy
  2. Feelin’ Alright—Joe Cocker—With A Little Help From My Friends
  3. Can I Go On—Sleater-Kinney—The Center Won’t Hold
  4. Have You Ever Seen Peaches Growing…—Jake Xerxes Fussell—What in the Natural World 
  5. Winners (feat. Yxng Bane, Chance The Rapper & Joey Purp)—Smoko Ono, Yxng Bane, Chance the Rapper, Joey Purp—Winners
  6. Smoldering Fire—Ural Tomas and the Pain—The Right Time
  7. Never My Love—The Association—Insight Out
  8. Tank!—Seatbelts—COWBOY BEBOP
  9. Disco Man—Remi Wolf—I’m Allergic to dogs!
  10. The Way We Were/Through The Eyes Of Love (Live)—Barbra Streisand—Back to Brooklyn

Better Normal: A ‘Concept Concert’ with Eleanor McEvoy

Join our good friend and industry advocate, Eleanor McEvoy for an up-beat, up tempo ‘Concept Concert’ that will warm the heart and lift the spirits: Better Normal. 

Eleanor McEvoy, along with Jess Kavanagh, and Pauline Scanlon, will walk you through Skiffle songs from the 1900s and bring you right up to original songs specially commissioned for the show and written by Eleanor McEvoy, Paul Brady, Derek Ryan and Dave Rotheray (ex-Beautiful South).

What is Skiffle music? 

Skiffle is a type of music that originated in America in the early 1900s, rooted primarily in folk music, and contains elements of blues and jazz. It was typically played by amateur musicians on improvised homemade instruments. 

The 1950s brought a massive revival of Skiffle in Britain. Many of the estimated 40,000 skiffle groups around this time grew into successful, well-established acts. Among them was “The Quarrymen”, the pre-curser to The Beatles, formed in 1956 by John Lennon. 

Eleanor McEvoy, Jess Kavanagh and Pauline Scanlon will be accompanied by a five-piece band, augmented by a three-piece (New Orleans style) brass ensemble and a ten-piece Gospel Choir!

Not “back to normal”, but instead creating a “better normal”.

Better Normal is available to stream at the link below internationally Friday August 27th at 8pm for €15 

https://ticketco.events/ie/ie/m

Nordost Playlist – August 2021

Nordost products are designed to allow you to enjoy your favorite performances as they were intended to be heard. All of us here are passionate about great music, and want to share our passion with you. Each one of us has our own style… We listen to a wide variety of artists and genres but, in a way, we appreciate them all. We thought that we would share a few of the songs on our own personal playlists with you each month. Some may be classics, some may be brand new, some may not even be to your tastes, but we hope that there is something here for everyone.

Here are some of the songs that we will have on rotation this August.


You can now listen to our monthly playlist here:  TIDAL  | SPOTIFY  |  QOBUZ


  1. Crimson and Clover—The Shacks—Crimson and Clover
  2. Black Grease—The Black Angels—Passover
  3. Floated By—Peter Cat Recording Co.—Bismillah
  4. The River—Michael Farneti—Good Morning Kisses 
  5. I Get A Kick Out Of You—Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga—I Get A Kick Out Of You
  6. Surf’s Up – A Cappella—The Beach Boys—Feel Flows The Sunflower & Surf’s Up Sessions 
  7. Be Aware—Barbra Streisand—Release Me 2
  8. World That’s Not Real—Gloria Ann Taylor—Deep Inside you 
  9. Angel – Work Tape—Aretha Franklin—ARETHA 
  10. Turnaround (Cocaine Song)—Tōth—You and Me and Everything

Nordost Playlist – July 2021

Nordost products are designed to allow you to enjoy your favorite performances as they were intended to be heard. All of us here are passionate about great music, and want to share our passion with you. Each one of us has our own style… We listen to a wide variety of artists and genres but, in a way, we appreciate them all. We thought that we would share a few of the songs on our own personal playlists with you each month. Some may be classics, some may be brand new, some may not even be to your tastes, but we hope that there is something here for everyone.

Here are some of the songs that we will have on rotation this July.


You can now listen to our monthly playlist here:  TIDAL  | SPOTIFY  |  QOBUZ


  1. We Cannot Resist—LUMP, Laura Marling, Mike Lindsay 
  2. Bed Head—Manchester Orchestra—Bed Head 
  3. Lowdown—Boz Scaggs—Silk Degrees 
  4. Slow Mover—Angie McMahon—Salt 
  5. You & Me—Dave Matthews Band—Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King (Expanded Edition)
  6. Comerte Entera—C. Tangana, Toquinho—Comerte Entera
  7. Somebody Help Me—Otis Brown—Southside Chicago
  8. Tip Toe—SAULT—7
  9. Dreams—Fleetwood Mac—Rumours
  10. Against The Wind—Victory—The Broken Instrument

Nelson Brill Shares New CD Recommendations for Blues Lovers

Real music lovers can find the melody in everything. From the park to the concert hall, our friend Nelson Brill is always on the hunt for great sound. In this blog, Nelson reviews and recommends a few new, bluesy CD recordings for you to enjoy this spring!


SPRING FLING LISTENING SESSION WITH THE BLUES RUNNING THROUGH

By Nelson Brill May 26, 2021

“If you’ll be my Dixie Chicken, I’ll be your Tennessee Lamb
And we can walk together down in Dixieland..
Down in Dixieland” – Little Feat

Paul Barrere and Lowell George – New York Times

Taking a Spring Fling clue from the rollicking Lowell George and his legendary boogie band, Little Feat, (soaking up their medley of “Dixie Chicken” into “Tripe Face Boogie” from their matchless 1978 live album, Waiting For Columbus (heard best -still with some thin highs- on Stan Ricker’s half-speed mastering on Mobile Fidelity LP #2013], here are some recommended new CD recordings that shimmy with joyful spring grooves for your listening pleasure:

First up, a barn-burning new archival recording from 2007 in which the Dickinson Brothers (guitarist Luther and drummer Cody, along with their late father, pianist and producer Jim Dickinson), dig deep into the blues in a casual “potluck” session, jamming with studio guests Charlie Musselwhite, Alvin Youngblood Hart and Jimbo Mathus. The camaraderie of this hot session, captured on two separate CD releases, New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom Rockers Volume I and II [Stony Plain Music; www.stonyplainrecords.com] invites us in to hear all the rich musical dialogue shared by these razor-sharp musicians in their jovial company. My favorites, from the stunning Volume I session, are the Musselwhite-driven beauties driven by Musselwhite’s gritty vocals and sharp harp careens.

Charlie Musselwhite -San Diego.org

Other highlights include Jim Dickinson’s stomping version of “Come On Down To My House” and his swinging version of the classic feel-good rocker, “Let’s Work Together”. Alvin Youngblood Hart’s cranking hot version of Hendrix’s “Stone Free” and Jimbo Mathius’s steamy “Night Time” are also knockouts. These two Volumes rock from start to finish, hunkering down with roughhousing grooves and startling musicianship wrapped up in a layered and spacious acoustic. For all their verve and gleeful sound, I voted these two Volumes “Best Blues Albums” in the recent DownBeat Annual Critics Poll (www.downbeat.com).

Blues also spark the rollicking singing, songwriting and guitar playing of William Apostal, aka Billy Strings, on his terrific 2019 CD, Home [Rounder Records; www.rounder.com]. Home is another great studio recording delivering palpable ambient heat, natural images and a soundstage layered with plucky dynamic delights (if your quality audio system is up to the task!).

The musicianship on this recording is boundless and irresistible. Strings’ assembled a stellar band for this recording, including Billy Failing on banjo, Jarrod Walker on mandolin, Royal Masat on bass and John Mailander on violin. They are joined by a glowing string section and the great Jerry Douglas adding his expressive dobro to the acoustic delight.

Billy Strings -Emily Butler photo

Strings’ songs are smart, swinging and fresh. His skill on acoustic and electric guitars is a marvel with his frenetic fingering and the clarity and expressiveness of his note and chord selections. The opening “Taking Water” is a twinkling swinger with political fervor. “Must Be Seven” is a striking narrative with optimistic leaps while “Hollow Heart and “Everything’s The Same” are joyful romps of kinetic heat. Strings’ guitar explorations can also teem with soulful play, such as on the atmospheric title cut where his electric guitar rises and falls in company with his magnetic string and percussive partners. Strings’ voice is a confident vessel: strong, expressive and hardscrabble. It fills his bracing songs with sweet rapport, such as on the light swing of “Watch It Fall”, and can be gracious and glowing, as on his “Enough To Leave” or “Love Like Me,” (with Douglas’ dobro blossoming in the layered soundstage). The band careens away on “Highway Hyphosis,” a heavy pedal on bluegrass sway and soar. Each player is set in their airy individual space on this superb studio recording that ensnares this shining band’s down-home roots, freeform and gleeful.

Billy Strings and his band’s charm and potency inspires a listen to a new recording from a favorite blues dynamo: vocalist and guitarist, Janiva Magness. On her latest album, Magness creates her own barn burning concoction by mining the rich vein of songs penned by the great singer/songwriter, John Fogerty, on her superb CD, Change In The Weather [Blue Elan Recordswww.blueelanrecords.com]. The recording quality here is excellent, offering layered warmth, air, natural image dimensionality and an up-front, crackling presence.

I first heard Magness on bluesman Doug Macleod’s brilliant 2000 CD, Whose Truth Whose Lies [Audioquest; www.doug-macleod.com] where Magness joined Macleod on a stunning vocal duet on Macleod’s song, “Norfolk County Line”, one of my favorite audiophile references for its beauty and sonic splendor. Magness brings this same expressive vocal grace and powerful presence to her mining of these classic Forgerty tunes. Her version of Fogerty’s ballad, “A Hundred And Ten In The Shade”, is a powerful statement riding on Magness’ silvery fluid vocals and her gliding pitch-perfect leaps and plunges. The stirring Fogerty ballads, “Someday Never Comes”, and “Wrote A Song For Everyone” also deliver the beautiful range of Magness’ voice filled with ardor, charisma and spunk. Her playful duet with Taj Mahal, on Fogerty’s “Don’t You wish It Were True” springs forth on Taj’s crisp slide guitar and dusty vocals entwined in Magness’ fun-loving, creative calls. Guitarists Zachary Ross, Dave Darling (who also produced this bracing outing) and Zachary Rusty Young share duties sizzling away with chiming guitar lines, keeping the blues rock pulse grooving and punchy. The band is in full grooving flight on such toe-tapping Fogerty gems as “Lodi” and “Fortunate Son,” Magness’ vocals soaring high and expressive around her rocking partners.

Magness’ venturing blues, inspired by Fogerty’s indelible songs, led to a listen to a new recording from another brilliant songwriter, the late Tom Petty. In the mid-1990’s, Petty and his band worked through dozens of new songs in a series of recording sessions produced by Rick Rubin in Los Angeles, and the result was the sterling Petty album, Wildflowers. Now, with efforts from the Petty family, the original band members and superb re-mastering by Chris Bellman at legendary Bernie Grundman Mastering, we are gifted with Wildflowers & All The Rest [Warner Records; www.tompetty.com], a CD collection brimming with original cuts and alternate and unreleased takes from these legendary recording sessions. This is another studio recording gem, firing away with toe-tapping presence and tactile energy.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers perform at Wrigley Field Thursday, June 29, 2017 in Chicago. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)

The blues were embedded in Petty and his band’s creative arsenal in their Wildflower sessions, and this influence can be heard in the pump of “You Don’t Know How It Feels”, the fury (of guitar slashes) on both “You Wreck Me” and “Cabin Down Below” and the slow brewing punch of “Honey Bee.” The band also had an inventive way with combining blues with folk influences, such as on the soft chiming leaps of “A Higher Place” and the willowy title cut, swooping away on Petty’s tenor climbs.

Petty and Campbell – Apt613.com

The re- mastering of these classics reveals new treats, most notably the zestful interplay of Petty with his longtime sparring partner, Mike Campbell. Campbell’s spirited guitar is a marvel: angular, sweet, ferocious, funky – all in the service of Petty’s songs. Steve Ferrone’s drums are also magnetic and vital on this new recording, as is Benmont Trench’s piano and organ that sweep to and fro in the layered soundstage on “Hard On Me” or wistfully on “Crawling Back To You.” The second disc, “All The Rest”, contains alternative takes and unreleased songs that hold such treats as Petty’s sly “Something Could Happen”; his driving “Hope You Never” and two takes of “Climb That Hill” – one an acoustic blues and the other an electric rocker. The brilliance of Petty’s songwriting is revealed in the sprite and jangly sounds of his play with his sympathetic partners, captured crisp, creative and rocking.

Petty’s song, “Wildflowers” has been covered by many bands. On another new recording, it is transformed into a spry nugget of light and groove in the creative hands of guitarist Andrew Renfroe and bassist Luke Sellick, on their self-produced CD, Small Vacation [www.sellickrenfroe.bandcamp.com]. Sellick and Renfroe are both stalwarts on the New York City music scene and their keen companionship and chemistry makes for a contemplative, glowing romp on Small Vacation.

Sellick and Renfroe: somethingelsereviews.com

Their interplay teems with skittering lightness, funky soul and twinkling zeal. Neil Young’s “Tell Me Why” unspools on Sellick’s pungent bass lines and softly punctuated plucks (captured coherent and deep) plied with Renfroe’s spidery guitar twists and twirls (relishing the blend of colors in his deep strums and accentuated notes). Those colorful strums and deep pulses drive McDowell’s “Someday Baby” with swanking power while Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman” is re-envisioned as a dancing frolic, combining Reinfroe’s wistful guitar with Sellick’s buoyant bass. The blues reach deep and gravelly on a cool version of James’ “Hard Time Killin’ Floor Blues”, a slow-stirring combustion with Renfroe’s guitar shuffling with string bends and colorful accents. The sound quality is also excellent: tactile, with natural tones, textures and image dimensionality. It delivers all the glowing warmth and vividness to the drama created between these two sterling musicians at joyful, creative play.

Another beautiful CD collection that takes classic blues to venturesome new places, (where jazz and blues meld in fresh and glowing ways), is Adam Nussbaum’s Lead Belly Project, consisting of two separately released recordings: 2018’s Lead Belly Project and 2020’s Lead Belly Reimagined, both on the Sunnyside Records label [www.sunnysiderecords.com]. Nussbaum, a drummer of ebullient flow and exploration, brings new colors to these classic Lead Belly tunes by combining his frolicking drums with the sounds of two guitars, plied by virtuosi Steve Cardenas and Nate Radley, with a glowing muscular saxophone, played by Ohad Talmor. The results are fresh and delectable. The recording quality of both CD’s is stunning. Every instrument is captured in its true tonal colors with great clarity and tactile presence. Each player’s image is placed in perfect three-dimensional acuity with Nussbaum’s drum kit naturally anchored and focused in the soundstage – with no artificial, confusing lateral spread. Everything is heard crisp, tactile clear and tonally right – a sonic joy!

Nussbaum: AllAboutJazz

Focusing on the newest CD, Lead Belly Reimagined, this tight band greases these Lead Belly nuggets with cavorting fun, always keeping the blues and jazz inspiration fresh and gut-thumping. Their “Rock Island Line” train gets pumping down its tracks on a shimmer of Nussbaum’s glittering cymbals and brushes, (some of the truest tones for this percussion that you will ever hear!), gaining momentum until interwoven with Talmor’s streaking sax. The inventions of guitarists Cardenas and Radley are spicy-sweet delights to explore: Cardenas gently shape-shifting his assured notes with sharp, angular twists (coaxing surprising colors) while Radley draws more on fleshy deep patterns and colors, bluesy and pungent. On the slow-rollicking “Relax Your Mind”, each guitarist gets a chance to jostle and shine within Nussbaum’s animated percussion while on the following cut, “Laura”, the band goes into a frenetic spidery whirl, firing away on Nussbaum’s quicksilver snare/cymbal combinations and Talmor’s careening sax runs. The roguish “Governor Pat Noff” rocks away on Nussbaum’s big pulses and the band’s comic spirited runs (ending on a howl of laughter). “When I Was A Cowboy” and “If It Wasn’t For Dicky” are two incandescent ballads, softly intrepid on cymbal washes, swashes of guitar colors and Talmor’s ardent sax. This is plucky, sweet and inventive music that brings a new dimension to Lead Belly’s peerless blues: intrepid, open-minded and beautiful to explore.

From Nussbaum and his band’s funky and fresh Lead Belly spirit, lets conclude this blues-drenched listening session with a young guitarist, singer-songwriter from Boston who brings his own fiery, creative blues rock passion to every string bend and volcanic hold. This is the youthful blast of Tyler Morris, whose new CD, Living In The Shadows [Vizztone; www.tylerdmorris.com], is a molten rocker. Keep in mind that this blues recording suffers from the sonic limitations of many a modern studio manipulation. It has a constricted soundstage (with little layering or depth) and its treble is artificially ramped up so that as dynamics increase, so does the brittle nature of its upper mid-bass to its treble regions (i.e. cymbals are thin and mere splashes of sound). Even with its sonic limitations though, this is a fine rock-surging blues recording from a vivacious young talent- thus the audiophile quality exception made here. Morris is joined on Living In The Shadows by a tight power trio: Terry Dry on bass, Matthew Robert Johnson on drums and Lewis Stephens on piano and Hammond B3. Together, they make a fire-alarm commotion that speaks the language of their electric blues with rocking pulse and power.

Tyler Morris- New England Blues Review

Morris’ thrashing electric guitar lays down some serious heat and raw vitality. The special thing is that his bravado and confident technical skills are all put to the service of his songs. He loves to hit frenetic trills, bending his strings and declaring some great slide guitar thunder- all in partnership with his brawny-toned vocals (tough minded in their limited range) to tell his stories. The opening “Mov’in On” is a sizzling feast with the band tight and nimble as Morris burns with athletic driving force to map out his escape down the road. The pile driving continues on “Why Is Love So Blue”, a grooving boogie number laced with Morris’ animated playing, his beefy vocals and his rhythm section’s bold foundation. Morris is joined by several kindred guests on Living In The Shadows. The legendary guitarist Ronnie Earl joins Morris for a blistering duet, “Young Man’s Blues”, in which Morris and Earl trade radiant and decisive riffs (Earl’s spidery and eloquent next to Morris’ galvanizing attack). Vocalist Amanda Fish joins Morris on a rocking “Better Than You” with sly, assured vocals that fit like a glove into Morris and his band’s tight-knit urgency and pump. “Polk Salad Annie” features virtuoso blues guitarist and vocalist Joe Louis Walker and guitarist Mike Zito joining Morris in a swanking romp that showcases Walker’s smooth-gliding vocals with fierce guitar inventions from Morris. Morris’ title cut, along with his tune “Temptation”, also offer a nice slice of his slow-blues artistry, glowing with twisting power chords, brewing invention and his incandescent guitar power. The future heart of the blues beats fierce and vital in Morris’ young hands on Living In the Shadows, taking his electric blues into animated, limb-shaking and open-hearted territory. Turn up the volume, let the blues flow and take a joyful “walk down in Dixie Land!”

Tyler Morris with legendary bluesman James Montgomery – everybodywiki.com

You can read more of Nelson’s concert reviews at www.bostonconcertreviews.com.


Nordost Playlist – June 2021

Nordost is happy that we can continue to make our time spent at home a little more enjoyable with the gift of great music. Our products aim to allow you to enjoy your favorite performances as they were intended to be heard. Like you, we here at Nordost are music lovers. Each one of us has our own style… we listen to a wide variety of artists and genres but, in a way, we appreciate them all. We thought that we would share a few of the songs on our own personal playlists with you each month. Some may be classics, some may be brand new, some may not even be to your tastes, but we hope that there is something here for everyone. 

Here are some of the songs that we will have on rotation this June.


You can now listen to our monthly playlist here:  TIDAL  | SPOTIFY  |  QOBUZ


  1. Eu Velejava Em Você (Ao Vivo)—Maria Bethânia— Eu Velejava Em Você (Ao Vivo)
  2. Sharecropper’s Son—Robert Finley—Sharecropper’s Son
  3. All the While—The Pines—Dark So Gold 
  4. Janie Runaway—Steely Dan—Two Against Nature 
  5. Tick Of The Clock—Chromatics—Tick Of The Clock 
  6. Thinking of You—Macy Gray—Thinking of you 
  7. Nashville—Béla Flech, Toumani Diabaté—Throw Down Your Heart: The Complete Africa Sessions
  8. Like I Used To—Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen—Like I Used To
  9. deja vu—Olivia Rodrigo—Sour
  10. Sound & Color—Atlantic String Machine—The Bayfield Sessions

Nordost Playlist – May 2021

Nordost is happy that we can continue to make our time spent at home a little more enjoyable with the gift of great music. Our products aim to allow you to enjoy your favorite performances as they were intended to be heard. Like you, we here at Nordost are music lovers. Each one of us has our own style… we listen to a wide variety of artists and genres but, in a way, we appreciate them all. We thought that we would share a few of the songs on our own personal playlists with you each month. Some may be classics, some may be brand new, some may not even be to your tastes, but we hope that there is something here for everyone. 

Here are some of the songs that we will have on rotation this May.


You can now listen to our monthly playlist here:  TIDAL  | SPOTIFY  |  QOBUZ


  1. Mama Papa—La Force—La Force     
  2. Get It Right—Aretha Franklin—Get It Right
  3. Baby Baby Baby—Make the Girl Dance—Baby Baby Baby
  4. Past Lives—BØRNS—Dopamine 
  5. It Never Entered My Mind—Miles Davis Quintet—Workin’
  6. Woncha Come On Home—Joan Armatrading—Show Some Emotion 
  7. All That Heaven Allows—Mercury Girls—Ariana 
  8. The Times They Are A Changing—The Brothers And Sisters—Dylan’s Gospel
  9. Glasshouses—Maribou State—Kingdoms In Colour 
  10. Posing In Bondage—Japanese Breakfast—Jubilee

Newvelle Live – Incredible artists. Live in studio.

After a year of having to suffer without live music, our friends at Newvelle Records have found a solution: Newvelle Live. Newvelle is giving music lovers around the world a front row seat to live, jazz concerts, brought to you from their favorite recording studio, East Side Sound! This is a wonderful opportunity to join in on a unique experience, enjoy world-class performances, and support talented artists. 
 
Continue reading to find out all of the details you need to participate in these fantastic events. 


What is Newvelle Live?

Every week in April 2021, Newvelle invites you to experience live concerts at our favorite studio – East Side Sound – where we’ve recorded each of our first five seasons. But for the first time, you’ll have a chance to see Newvelle artists perform, streaming to wherever you are in the world.

With live performances all but eliminated due to the pandemic, Newvelle Live gives you a novel way to support artists and institutions who are preserving the legacy of jazz for a new generation. Anyone can join. All we ask is that you consider making a contribution to support the musicians performing every Friday in April. Contributions will be divided equally among the 12 artists performing throughout the series.

Newvelle, thanks to the generous support of musician and entrepreneur Alex Rigopolous, covers the entire overhead for producing and recording this series. So all of the money that is donated for this streaming series goes straight to the musicians.

This series is designed as a radical experiment: one that explores the relationship between musician and fan, and an attempt to strengthen our communities and support musicians at a critical time.

As society slowly starts to spin forward again, we are given a chance to reassess how we value music.


John Patitucci, Yotam Silberstein and Roggerio Bocato: April 9
Tim Berne and Gregg Belisle-Chi: April 16
Rufus Reid and Sullivan Fortner: April 23

Carmen Staff and Allison Miller:  April 30

www.newvelle-records.com


Nordost Playlist – April 2021

Nordost is happy that we can continue to make our time spent at home a little more enjoyable with the gift of great music. Our products aim to allow you to enjoy your favorite performances as they were intended to be heard. Like you, we here at Nordost are music lovers. Each one of us has our own style… we listen to a wide variety of artists and genres but, in a way, we appreciate them all. We thought that we would share a few of the songs on our own personal playlists with you each month. Some may be classics, some may be brand new, some may not even be to your tastes, but we hope that there is something here for everyone. 

Here are some of the songs that we will have on rotation this April.


You can now listen to our monthly playlist here:  TIDAL  | SPOTIFY  |  QOBUZ


  1. FREEDOM—Jon Batiste—WE ARE 
  2. Pay Your Way In Pain—St. Vincent—Pay Your Way In Pain 
  3. It Might as Well Be Spring—Nina Simone—Portrait 
  4. À l’ammoniaque / Mon dieu—La Zarra—À l’ammoniaque / Mon dieu
  5. Days Like This—Van Morrison—Days Like This
  6. Take Me to the Good Times—The Suffers—Take Me to the Good Times 
  7. Colors—Black Pumas—Black Pumas 
  8. Under Pressure—Karen O, Willie Nelson—Under Pressure
  9. The Steps—HAIM—Women In Music Pt. III
  10. Waiting for the Sun—The Doors—Morrison Hotel