Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 19, 2014

Joao Hasselberg The Truth Must Be Given In Riddles 2014 Fundacao

A major league talent, a rising star in the world of improvisational music!
Brent Black /
Electric and double bassist Joao Hasselberg has taken a giant leap forward in harmonic weight class with the releases of his sophomore effort, Truth has to be given in riddles. This septet functions with an amazing lyrical direction and synergy while still conducting a unique lyrical exploratory within a most sold set of eight compositions which are surprisingly enough all original works and have Hasselberg poised to assume the latest rising star role on the international scene.
Instrumentation includes guitar, trumpet, sax, well placed vocals, piano, drums and a lyrical sense of purpose from Hasselberg who doubles as a respected teacher at the Villas-Boas Jazz School. From the more melancholy "For Charlie" to the nuanced elegance of the title selection " The Truth Has To Be Given In Riddles" there lyrical and melodic strength of each composition is focused and while the technical execution is literally flawless, there is an elegance to the release that edges past what we would consider straight ahead jazz here in the U.S.
Joao Hasselberg continues his own personal study and the exponential growth is outstanding. As fine an artist as you will here, as technically proficient as he is artistically gifted. The Truth Must Be Given In Riddles easily passes the sophomore slum that trips up so many quality performers.
Tracks: Opening; Abraham's Double; Two Brohers In A Treasure Hunt; For Charlie; Two Halves Of A Mercado; En Madrid; Perry Smith's Dream; The Return Of The Prodigal Son.


News From Dana Lynn

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Hoping that you are well and enjoying a safe holiday season.
I am happy to finally be able to share news regards the 2015 release of Slim Bone Head Volt, Vol. 1, my collaboration with Vincent D'Onofrio. Our record will be out on March 3 via Buddhabug Records. I was initially going for a cassette-only release but I've been convinced to release it in vinyl. For more information, please click here ( and to preview the single, please click here ( . Featured on the album are Ben Holmes, Clara Kennedy, Geoff Kraly, Briggan Krauss, Mike Mcginnis, Kyle Sanna, Vinnie Sperrazza, myself and Vincent D.
We are doing a live show at 7 pm this Saturday at Joe's Pub. There are still tickets available for purchase, here ( .
In other news...
Mother Octopus, formerly known as Yeti Camp, has a show coming up on January 4, 2015, at Brooklyn's very own Barbes ( . Mother Octopus features Mike McGinnis (clarinet), Clara Kennedy (cello), Jonathan Goldberger (guitar) and Vinnie Sperrazza (drums), all fiercely talented musicians kind enough to learn my music. I am very thankful.
My duo ( with Kyle Sanna is currently recording its follow-up to the record with a really long title (The Hare Said a Prayer to the Rainbow and Followed the Fox Down the Hole). We will be in South Carolina and Georgia this January and are planning a west coast jaunt in the early summer. Please stay tuned for more details (I realize that this is my fault that many events remain mysterious, as my allergy to online communication is known).
This year I also had the pleasure of playing a lot of music (and some BASS!!!) with songwriters Matt Kanelos (  and David Heatley ( , the Irish poet Louis de Paor, who let me accompany his beautiful words with a bicycle wheel, and the cast of Family Album, a musical from the writing team of Stew and Heidi Rodewald. Please check all of these folks out when you have a chance.
Thank you so much for reading and I'm hoping that everyone has a lovely transition into 2015.
all the best, Dana

Thana Alexa To Release Ode To Heroes

Vocalist THANA ALEXA Immortalizes Personal and Musical Influences on
Path to 
Self-Discovery with Debut Album, Ode To Heroes

Available March 10 via Jazz Village

Album Features Collaborations with
Antonio Sanchez, Donny McCaslin, and Scott Colley

"'Ode To Heroes' is an impressive collection of ambitious music beautifully
pulled together by the powerful vocals of Thana Alexa that gives it all continuity.
Alexa's music is challenging, but her use of the musicians and her voice makes everything sound natural and easy." - Pat Metheny

"Thana Alexa is a great new talent...has a beautiful voice and
is a great composer and bandleader...She's a musician first
and a vocalist second." 
- Antonio Sanchez

"(Ode To Heroes) is a beautiful record - each piece a gem...
a very personal, emotive statement...the technical excellence only serves
to enhance the human message." - Joe Locke


By the time an artist discovers their own voice, they've inevitably been shaped by countless influences. On her debut album, Ode To Heroes, vocalist Thana Alexa pays tribute to the personalities both personal and musical who have impacted her on the path to forging her own distinctively individual voice. It's a telling list that encompasses her own family; jazz giants like Wayne Shorter, Charles Mingus, and Paul Desmond; and the stellar musicians who collaborate with her on the album, including drummer and co-producer Antonio Sanchez, saxophonists Donny McCaslin and Lenart Krecic, bassists Jorge Roeder and Scott Colley, pianist Sergio Salvatore and vibraphonist Christos Rafalides.
The release of Ode To Heroes, due out March 10 via Harmonia Mundi/Jazz Village, marks the arrival of a rising star on the modern vocal jazz scene. The album mainly features her engaging original compositions, along with vibrant takes on jazz standards like Shorter's "Footprints," Mingus' "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," and Desmond and Dave Brubeck's "Take 5." Most importantly, it spotlights Alexa's ability to engage in rewarding and illuminating conversation with some of the music's most renowned and forward-thinking players.
Ode To Heroes' title track opens the album with sudden staccato stabs, and it may take listeners a few moments to realize that there's a voice alongside the sax and drums. It's a fitting introduction for a singer who sees herself as a part of the band, more interested in mixing it up and improvising with her sidemen than standing alone at the front of the stage. Alexa honed that approach while a student at the New School, where she embraced the challenge of breaking down jazz's entrenched borders.
"This divide between vocalists and instrumentalists was very much a problem for me," Alexa says. "Whether it was through the curriculum or just through the psychology of the musicians, vocalists were oftentimes separated and classed as something different. And I was not cool with that. I ended up putting myself in really uncomfortable situations, becoming the very first vocalist in a lot of ensembles. I really wanted to take myself out of my comfort zone and learn through trial and error."
Though she was born in New York City, Alexa was raised in Croatia, so her path was never going to be the expected one. She first encountered jazz at an outdoor café in Dubrovnik. The owner was a bassist who encouraged her to join his band onstage when he spotted her mouthing the lyrics in the audience. "He yelled to me from the stage in broken English and my mom pushed me up there," she recalls. "I must have looked like a tree just standing there; it was my first time ever singing in front of people."
Photo Credit: Salvatore Corso
The experience ignited a passion for jazz and soon Alexa was taking voice lessons at the Rock Academy of Zagreb. A few years later vibraphonist and club owner Bosko Petrovic took the young singer under his wing, producing a demo and urging her to discover her own voice. She returned to the States at the age of 18 to attend Northeastern University, majoring in psychology because she still saw jazz as a hobby. "I had the darkest year of my life," she says. "It was only during a jazz course I had once a week that something would light up inside of me when I had my five minutes to sing. The message was clear that a life change had to be made, so I moved to New York City and enrolled at the New School where I received a B.F.A in jazz performance and also finished my B.A. in psychology."
Alexa looks back at that time on "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" (listed as "The Wanderer" on the track list), which was one of the songs she studied in class that inspired her to pursue music. Her lyrics for the Mingus classic as well as Shorter's "Footprints" both explore her journey of self-discovery as a musician. 
The results are evident on Ode To Heroes, where the personal and the aesthetic merge throughout. "When Evening Comes" begins with an intense wordless vocal solo, building to the tune's hypnotic groove. "In a Mode" was inspired by Herbie Hancock, while the title track was written with Antonio Sanchez and Donny McCaslin's virtuosic musicality in mind.
On the aching and delicate "Ghost Hawk," Alexa pens a love letter to her brother, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2010. "The song is supposed to be hopeful," she says. "It's supposed to send the message that you should live life to the fullest and not be scared of who you love, how you love, or that you love. That's the way that my brother lived, and he was my main inspiration for this record. He was a larger than life kind of guy - his energy permeated through my whole writing process. It became my way to keep him living, even though he was no longer around physically."
Closing tunes "M's Lullaby" and "You Are Not Alone" are dedicated to Alexa's mother, who was ailing at the time that she wrote them. "I live very far away from my parents, who are in Croatia. So I wanted to express to my mother through music that no matter where I am, I'm always there for her, and allow her to find her own strength in knowing that I love her."
Alexa met Antonio Sanchez when she saw him unexpectedly playing at Carnegie Hall with Oliver Dragojevic, one of Croatia's biggest pop stars. She references their relationship on two pieces from Ode To Heroes: "Siena," named for the destination where the couple took their first trip together (and where the song was written) and "Groove Tune," which talks about their first encounter over coffee and which provides the band an opportunity to loosen up and stretch out.
About Thana Alexa
Since dedicating herself to music, Alexa has performed and recorded with Antonio Sanchez on his album New Life and his upcoming album The Meridian Suite - performances have included Red Sea Jazz Festival and Montreal Jazz Festival - with legendary drummer Bernard "Pretty" Purdie and two albums with guitarist Gene Ess. She won the 2011 Jazzon Alpe-Andria International Competition for "Ode To Heroes," while "Siena" was nominated for a Best Jazz Composition award by PORIN, the Croatian Music Academy, an honor equivalent to the Grammy Awards in America. For the last two years she's been in residency at Greenwich Village's 55 Bar.

Thana Alexa Ode to Heroes LIVE EPK
Thana Alexa - "Ode to Heroes" - LIVE EPK

Upcoming Thana Alexa Performances

March 14 / The Side Door / Old Lyme, CT
** March 23 / SubCulture / New York, NY

** w/ special guests Antonio Sanchez and Donny McCaslin

Thana Alexa · Ode To Heroes
Jazz Village  ·  Release Date: March 10, 2015 

For more information on Thana Alexa, please visit:

For more information on Jazz Villageplease visit: 

The Liver Chronicles - I Heard The News Today...

A quick one...(to borrow from The Who).

The doctor finally gave me a prognosis..."Maybe a year" was his answer and I wanted to inform those of you that have been concerned and checked in etc...It is tough, my cognitive skills are slipping. Soon, I wont even know what day it is and at times some of the closest people to me will seem like strangers. This is slowly happening as we speak.

Sometimes life isn't fair and sometimes you have to pay for your own mistakes. I thank each one of you. It isn't about "just get a new liver" as there are simply not enough out there and the wait alone will not be enough time. My cancer is advanced.

Be an organ donor and save a life, please...


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Eddie Henderson Collective Portrait Smoke Sessions 2014

Trumpet and flugelhorn master Eddie Harris steps out front with Collective Portrait, and kills it!
Brent Black /
Collective Portrait is far from a solo release but more of a true collective of a myriad of artistic expression from an all star band including George Cables, Gary Bartz, Doug Weiss and Carl Allen. Smoke Sessions has released some of the finest straight ahead jazz this year, Collective Portrait may be one of the three best.
A somewhat introspective and highly personal release has Henderson paying fitting homage to those that have influenced his career. Freddie Hubbard's "First Light" along with the great Woody Shaw tune "Zoltan" are the high watermarks yet tunes such as George Cables "Morning Song" bring a slightly more funk oriented vibe some players seem to prefer to sidestep. The rhythm section is superb with Cables, Allen and Weiss. Gary Bartz lays out of some of the ballads yet more than shows his immense talent everywhere else.
Solid, entertaining and the mark of a true lyrical artist, Collective Portrait is simply top notch.
Tracks: Sunburst; Dreams; Morning Song; You Know I Care; Beyond Forever; First Light; Together; Ginger Bread Boy; Spring; Zoltan.

Allegra Levy Lonely City SteepleChase 2014

Lonely City

Pristine swing for the next generation!

Brent Black /

The true lyrical swing torch has be relit and is now being passed to the next generation and Allegra Levy is certainly a more than qualified standard bearer! Eleven originals with stellar arrangements and a band featuring luminaries as Richie Barshay, Carmen Staff are propelling Levy to the head of the pack of the tightly knit sorority of the female jazz singer.

Normally a release such as Lonely City would include a handful of well placed covers yet Levy is truly solo with an all star band and the chops to back up her skills! There is an organic depth to Lonely City that while seldom heard is highly infectious. The rather introspective "A better Day" embraces an Ella Fitzgerald vibe while "Lonely City" is deceptively subtle with a nuanced and slightly more contemporary vibe.

There is simply very little to harp on with this release and Allegra Levy has now established herself as an artist to watch now and in the future!

Tracks: Anxiety; I Don't Want To Be In Love; Everything Green: A New Face; Why Do I; A Better Day; I'm Not Okay; Clear-Eyed Tango; Lonely City; Our Lullaby; The Duet