The Spirit of Cecilia Interview: Record Store Day 2022 with “Jazz Detective” Zev Feldman

Back in 2020, I talked with archival producer Zev Feldman about his ongoing efforts to make great, officially unreleased recordings by titans of jazz available the right way — with state of the art sound, lavish documentation and full payment to musicians (or their estates) and other rights-holders. As co-president of Resonance Records and consulting producer for Elemental Music, this year Zev is responsible for five new sets he’s shepherded toward release on LP this Record Store Day, April 23rd; links to each album’s Bandcamp page (which offer CD and download pre-orders for April 29th release) are below!

It was a delight to catch up with Zev again and talk about this cornucopia of fine jazz from the vaults! Listen to our conversation below; transcribed highlights follow the jump.

Continue reading The Spirit of Cecilia Interview: Record Store Day 2022 with “Jazz Detective” Zev Feldman

Nameless riders and Supreme Court Justice

Few months ago I went riding to Eastern Washington, then just hopped over to Idaho and Montana for a full day exploration. Did this loop via Hwy2 – Troy – Bull Lake and finally back to Washington via HWY200/2. Needless to say, Montana is gorgeous! Had stopped more than a few times for breathtaking views and also for fuel. Basically exquisite views to fuel the weary senses and Chevron to fuel the motorcycle. Like a lot of other journeys, this also involved riding through stretches of rustic towns. Even though the area was novel to me, for the curious onlookers at the gas stations I was just another motorcyclist! Just another nameless rider, even though looking jaded from journey, exhibiting frequent unexplained bursts of enthusiasm to navigate those winding roads, often at uncomfortable speeds!

Might sound romantic, but unlike traveling in a car or truck, there is a degree of anonymity to motorcycling. Doesn’t matter where you live or what you do, during those long journeys your identity turns into that of a rider! It’s sort of like the famous veil of ignorance, the unique life circumstances of a motorcyclist hidden beneath all that protective gear! There is also a degree of comfort in that anonymity. It’s like you’re admired or derided or just ignored purely for your riding, not for other incoherent factors. There is a justice in that objective evaluation.

As usual, to paraphrase Prof. Hayek, man sort of became civilized when we invented such an unbiased evaluation based on rule of law, instead of rule of status — like class, occupation, ethnicity, race, tribe etc. But, our primitive instincts constantly surface in most ironic ways. More recently, in spite of my best efforts to avoid news, I couldn’t escape the recent Supreme Court justice appointment. As usual, even with of all her individual accomplishments, headlines were constantly celebrating Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s characteristic which is an accident of birth!

Top-Notch Sword and Sorcery From A Prog Rocker

Skallagrim 2

Stephen Babb is best known as coleader, bassist, singer, and songwriter for venerable prog-rockers Glass Hammer. Now he can add “accomplished fantasy author” to his resume. He has just published Book One of a projected trilogy featuring the character Skallagrim, who also features in the two most recent Glass Hammer albums, Dreaming City and Into the Breach.

Let me say right off the bat how impressed I am with Babb’s writing ability. From the very first word, he takes the reader on a rollercoaster of a ride through a fully fleshed out world that includes demons, sorcerers, assassins, hideous Lovecraftian creatures, beautiful nymphs, and monstrous ghouls.

While the plot loosely follows the one outlined in Dreaming City, Skallagrim In The Vales of Pagarna is full of surprising twists and turns. Skallagrim himself is a very likeable and endearing character who endures tremendous trials and hardships on his quest to rescue a beautiful young woman he sees for just a moment before she is taken captive by an evil sorcerer. I won’t say anything more than that regarding the plot, because I don’t want share any spoilers. However, even if you’re familiar with Dreaming City, you will still be surprised with how this story concludes. 

Skallagrim 1

 

The underlying theme of the story is how Skallagrim, a lowly thief who suffers from amnesia, matures both emotionally and spiritually. In that sense, In The Vales of Pagarna is a modern-day Pilgrim’s Progress, albeit quite a bit bloodier! The obvious comparisons are to Tolkien and Lewis, but Babb has managed to come up with an original mix that includes the aforementioned H. P. Lovecraft and a bit of Moorcock. Like Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Christianity provides the framework for Babb’s fictional world, but it is never explicitly referenced. There are several episodes where Skallagrim is “surprised by joy” as C. S. Lewis would say.

Fans of Glass Hammer will rejoice to learn that the story from their The Inconsolable Secret album is deftly integrated into this new saga, and there are several “Easter eggs” sprinkled throughout. GH has long been a favorite musical artist of mine; now I have a favorite fantasy author as well!

Pattern-Seeking Animals New Video

Pattern-Seeking Animals share video for new single “Rock Paper Scissors”
 Taken from upcoming album from upcoming album ‘Only Passing Through’, due on April 1st, 2022.PATTERN-SEEKING ANIMALS, the California-based band featuring Ted Leonard (lead vocals & guitars), Jimmy Keegan (drums & vocals), Dave Meros (bass) and John Boegehold (keyboards), have announced the band’s third studio album titled Only Passing Through, on April 1st, 2022 through InsideOutMusic. The album is the follow up to the critically acclaimed 2020 release Prehensile Tales.
 
Today, the band are pleased to release the new single “Rock Paper Scissors.”  You can watch the video here:
https://youtu.be/jLVSmxiT8Co
 
John Boegehold comments as follows:
“This is a cheery little tune about kids and the games they once played in a dystopian, alternate universe.”
 Watch the video for the first single “I Can’t Stay Here Anymore” here:
https://youtu.be/c2kq2winO14
Track List:1.Everdark Mountain (2:50)
2.I Can’t Stay Here Any More (6:05)
3.Time Has a Way (13:15)
4.Rock Paper Scissors (5:01)
5.Much Ado (4:49)
6.Only Passing Through (4:19)
7.Said the Stranger (7:08)
8.Here with You with Me (8:07)Bonus Tracks:9.I’m Not Alright (4:18)
10.Just Another Day at the Beach (3:33)

‘Only Passing Through’ is available for pre-order here:
https://patternseekinganimals.lnk.to/OnlyPassingThroughAvailable in the following formats: 
Ltd. CD Edition ‘SleevePac’
CD Jewelcase (Canada, Mexico, USA)
Gatefold black 180g LP+CD (etching on Side D)
Digital AlbumOffering eight songs (and two bonus tracks) that are as varied as they are excellent, Only Passing Through is a work that will deliver on all fronts. From the opener ‘Everdark Mountain’ to the weighty ‘Much Ado’ and the 13-minute epic ‘Time Has a Way’, the album has something to please fans in all quarters. If you ever wondered what Spaghetti Western Cinema would sound like in the world of 2022 prog, have a listen to ‘Said the Stranger.’ For some jazzier stylings, lend an ear to ‘Here with You with Me.’

Boegehold is justifiably proud of the album: Only Passing Through picks up where Prehensile Tales left off but soon takes several stylistic detours as it progresses. Everyone involved made this album a lot of fun to make and we’re all looking forward to it finally being heard.”

Discography
 Prehensile Tales (2020)
Pattern-Seeking Animals (2019)

PATTERN-SEEKING ANIMALS is:
John Boegehold (keyboards, programming and production)
Ted Leonard (lead vocals & guitar)
Dave Meros (bass and vocals)
Jimmy Keegan (drums & vocals)
PATTERN-SEEKING ANIMALS online:
http://PSAnimals1.com 
http://Facebook.com/psanimals1
https://twitter.com/psanimals1
https://www.instagram.com/psanimals1/INSIDEOUT MUSIC online:
www.insideoutmusic.com
www.youtube.com/InsideOutMusicTV
www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic
www.twitter.com/InsideOutUSA
www.insideoutmusicshop.comINSIDEOUTMUSIC Spotify Playlist: 
http://spotify.com/progrockessentials

In Praise of Immanuel Wilkins

Where are the great jazz saxophonists today?

The last of the giants of the 1950s and 1960s, Sonny Rollins and Wayne Shorter, have retired from live performance (though Shorter’s operatic collaboration with bassist Esperanza Spalding, Iphigenia, is just completing its debut run). The Young Lions who made their impact in the 1980s and 1980s — Branford Marsalis, Kenny Garrett, Donald Harrison, Joe Lovano and Greg Osby among them — continue to gig and record honorably, though without the boost they received from the recording industry before its post-Napster collapse. The flame kindled by Kamasi Washington’s ambitious remounting of 1970s spiritual jazz — two triple-disc sets, 2015’s The Epic and 2018’s Heaven and Earth — seems to have sputtered in the face of mass market fame, giving way to lower profile collaborations and soundtracks.

Who might carry that torch into 2022 ? I give you Immanuel Wilkins.

I gave Wilkins’ 2020 debut for Blue Note, Omega, a cursory listen when it came out, but missed the depths on display back then. Returning to it recently, I was belatedly blown away. Steeped in the music of the black church, Wilkins’ compositions offer a fresh take on spiritual jazz, leaner and more abstract; like Thelonious Monk’s best work, there’s an interior focus to his taut, angular writing. That interior emotion is unleashed via his playing; having thoroughly assimilated Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane’s vocabularies, Wilkins sends his solos spinning in freshly oblique directions. And he’s aided and abetted by his kinetic quartet (Micah Thomas on piano, Daryl Johns on bass and Kweku Sumbry on drums) who skitter as much as they swing, astonishingly flexible and in sync with their leader, whether at their knottiest or their most romantic.

The ambition of those compositions is noteworthy as well, though not surprising if you factor in Wilkins’ mentoring by both traditionalist par excellence Wynton Marsalis and cutting-edge postmodern pianist Jason Moran. Omega’s tunes run the gamut from the painful grief of “Ferguson: An American Tradition” through the fluid lyricism of “Grace and Mercy” to the dense, richly varied ideas of a four part suite composed during Wilkins’ time at the Julliard School of Music (“The Key”, “Saudade”, “Eulogy” and “Guarded Heart”). The absolute opposite of a blowing session, Omega laid down Wilkins’ impressive jazz credentials as a writer and a player — but also could have been an extremely hard act to follow.

To my delight, Wilkins’ new album, The 7th Hand, ups the ante! First, a six-part suite bookended by seething post-bop probes and modal riffing (“Emanation” and “Lighthouse”) that explores the polyrhythms of African percussion (“Don’t Break”), gospel music (“Fugitive Ritual, Selah”), the blues (“Shadow”) and folk hymnody (“Witness”). Then “Lift”, a half-hour of committed free exploration that broods, then snaps awake and howls in catharsis before it flutters to a soft, delicate landing. The concept behind it all: does the Holy Spirit have a role in what Wilkins, his quartet and his guests (the Farafina Kan Percussion Ensemble and flutist Elena PInderhughes) are creating in the moment? Given the consistent inspiration laid down here, I wouldn’t bet against it.

As always, your mileage may vary. But if you have any interest in the present and future of jazz saxophone, I strongly suggest you check out Immanuel Wilkins for yourself. Learn more about his Blue Note releases here.

— Rick Krueger

Spirit of Cecilia Decrees: The Flower Kings’ Latest Rules!

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The Flower Kings have a new album coming out March 4, 2022, and it’s called By Royal Decree. It is a two-disc set that includes some songs that were written even before they recorded their first album! Brad Birzer and Tad Wert share their thoughts on this latest release from one of their favorite prog artists.

Brad: When one thinks about Third Wave prog, it’s rather impossible not to think about Roine Stolt and The Flower Kings.  And, of course, who wouldn’t want to spend time thinking about Stolt?  The man just exudes genius in every project he’s in, as does every manifestation of The Flower Kings.  

Really, just think about how important Stolt is–not just to The Flower Kings, but to Transatlantic, Sea Within, Stolt/Anderson, Steve Hackett, The Tangent, his solo material. . . .

Amazingly, to me at least, I didn’t encounter The Flower Kings until 1999’s Flower Power.  A student (now, thankfully, a beloved colleague) lent Flower Power to me, and I was rather and immediately gobsmacked by it.  I then quickly purchased every previous release from the band and looked forward to every future release.  There’s nothing the band has released that I don’t like, and I would rank Space Revolver, especially, as a top-ten of all time rock release for me, with Stardust We Are and Paradox Hotel ranked very highly as well.  Unfold the Future, too.  Anyway and regardless, The Flower Kings have been a favorite for me for nearly 23 years now, and I can’t imagine my adult life without the band providing a myriad of soundtracks to it.

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This brings us to the latest by the band, the forthcoming By Royal Decree (Inside Out Music).  It is, simply put, excellent, a double-album that reminds me very much of Stardust We Are.  The band, once again, proves why it is still the most mischievous psychedelic prog band out there.  The energy levels of the band are off the charts, and the uniquely Flower King flourishes are delightfully to be found throughout the album.  And, I, for one, am very happy.

Tad: Brad, Mr. Stolt certainly spoils us fans, doesn’t he? After 2020’s huge two-disc Islands, he and his bandmates begin 2022 with another two-disc offering. Talk about an embarrassment of riches! 

Since you outlined your history with the Flower Kings, I’ll just say that I first learned of them years ago after I read an article on prog rock in Mojo Magazine. There was a brief article on “new and up and coming prog artists”. Based on that article, I picked up Porcupine Tree’s In Absentia, Spock’s Beard’s V, and The Flower Kings’ Stardust We Are. I remain a devoted fan of all three groups and their various permutations and offshoots to this day.

Album_Cover

So let’s take a look at By Royal Decree. First off, I absolutely love the cover art. I have no idea why the monkey is holding a timepiece, nor what significance the peacocks have, but it all gives the impression of some fantastical world that an Alice might fall into.

The first song that really grabs me is track 3: “Blinded”. I am a sucker for a sinuous bassline, and this song has one in spades. I also dig the soprano sax that trades solos with Roine’s guitar. The mix of jazz and rock in this song, along with the stop/starts and time changes, reminds me of ‘70s Frank Zappa. 

Brad: Tad, it’s always good to review with you!  Such a joy in this rather fallen world.  And, thank God for The Flower Kings.  Like you, it’s very hard to imagine the last two decades without them playing constantly in my life.  

For what it’s worth, I don’t get the album cover either, but I think it’s gorgeous.  I think–but am not sure–that it’s supposed to be a sequel cover to the earlier album, Waiting for Miracles.  As much as I liked Roger Dean’s cover for Islands, I really love it when The Flower Kings are blatantly surrealistic and hippie-ish.  This cover for By Royal Decree is just weird enough–and beautiful enough in its colors, especially–to make it exactly the right cover for this album.  I’m assuming the monkey holding the watch is the great pretender?

I really like “Blinded” as well, and it has a very traditional TFK sound to it.  Very angular in the construction of the song with fetching lyrics.  In actuality, I really like the whole first disk as a whole.  I think it blends together really nicely, again, reminding me of Stardust We Are.  But, of course, musically–especially the sax part on “Blinded”–harkens back to Space Revolver.  “I left my heart in San Francisco, I left my mind in San Francisco Bay!”  In fact, one of the truly great aspects of this album is how much it plays with the history of the band itself, constantly echoing themes and melodies from previous albums.

Immediately after the wildly progressive and jazz-infused “Blinded”, the band gives us the very lush and poppish “A Million Stars,” which the band has also released as a video to support the album.

After “A Million Stars” comes the nearly-perfect track, “The Soldier,” a gut-wrenching examination of our darker sides, but with gorgeous bass playing and keyboards and drums.  Indeed, every instrument just soars on this song.  I also really love “Peacock on Parade,” the second from last track on disk one, as well as the final track, the resigned and circus-like “Revolution.”

Disk Two is every bit as strong as Disk One, with wonderfully odd tracks such as the progressive folky “Letter” and the soulful “Evolution” and the chamber-like drama of “Moth.”  I’m especially taken with the “Big Funk” which brings back the Holy Mother of Unfold the Future, as well as the final song of the album, the rather complex “Funeral Pyres.”

Tad: Brad, I think Disk Two is a wee bit better than Disk One. “Evolution” is my favorite song on the album (at least today it is!). The organ intro conjures up classic Yes vibes for me, and it has a great hook in the melody.

Disk Two also closes incredibly strong: “The Big Funk”, “Open Your Heart”, “Shrine”, and “Funeral Pyre” are all terrific songs – a minisuite of excellence. On “Funeral Pyres” Stolt crafts one of his finest guitar solos ever. 

All in all, I would say that By Royal Decree is at the top of The Flower Kings’ discography, and they have released a lot of great albums! As good as Islands was a couple of years ago, TRD is even better. Isn’t it impressive how prolific The Flower Kings are without any diminution in quality?

Brad: Tad, thank you so much for this joint review.  Let me just conclude my part by stating, I am one very happy man.  This is exactly The Flower King’s album I wanted and needed.  A glorious return to all that makes the band so special.  Roine Stolt is truly astounding as a composer, as a lyricist, and as a guitarist.

The Tangent News

Hello everyone! 

First and most importantly we would like to wish you a happy and healthy 2022, we hope that you are safe and well and we send our love and good wishes to all of you wherever you may be.

We are absolutely delighted to announce that the 12th album from The Tangent “Songs From The Hard Shoulder” is now available for “special” pre- pre-ordering and is due for release on InsideOut in June 2022 

This newsletter is being sent to fans of the band who have ordered Tangent albums directly from the band’s website previously or added their details to our mailing list.

There are 2 important things to note

1) Regular pre-ordering will be available nearer to the release date.
2) All Pre-orders made from fans in mainland Europe will be posted FROM WITHIN mainland Europe.

You can find out more about the album and different options for pre-ordering here at www.thetangent.org

There is plenty of information over on the website but Andy wanted to add a message especially for fans who are subscribed to this mailing list:

“We are so happy to be bringing you our twelfth album, now in our 20th year! Keyboards, Drums, Saxophones, Flute and vocals recorded by Steve, Theo and myself here at my studio in Yorkshire, Guitars recorded at Luke’s studio in Trowbridge UK and bass recorded in Jonas’ studio near Vienna in Austria. As usual it’s been a great ride and we look forward enormously to you hearing this very human feeling recording which is among our most emotional and heartfelt pieces yet. The album is involved and deep, and highly “composed” with three pieces over the 15 minute mark – one of which is an instrumental. We tie it all off with the bounciest of retro pop songs – and all copies pre-ordered will be the “special edition” which features a short bonus track which is our third cover version in our 20 year history. And it’s a prog classic.”

You can listen here to just over 5 minutes of an EARLY preview of tracks in progress for the new album. Rough mixes only with incomplete instrumentation here:

https://soundcloud.com/andy-tillison/the-tangent-work-in-progress-trailer

Those of you who buy the “Mega Fan” and “Pay the wages” pre-ordering packages will be given access to a drop box link which already contains substantially updated versions of some of the music and Andy would like those who have already pre-ordered to know that there is a new update to the drop box coming very soon so keep checking!

If you haven’t already, please consider joining The Tangent Facebook group

We are aware that many don’t enjoy the various social media sites but for bands, particularly during these socially distanced times, it is the easiest way to connect with fans, for musicians and fans to connect with each other and to enable people to help spread the word about their favourite music – We have a very friendly and active (but not annoyingly so) Facebook group for The Tangent and everyone is very welcome, Andy is around regularly to answer questions and join in general banter and from time to time the rest of the band pop in to add comments or answer particular questions. Facebook is generally the first place where you will get to hear about new music, get to be the first to check out links to new stuff and even get involved in/make suggestions for new ideas and plans for future Tangent and Andy related musical projects…he really does take people’s ideas on board. So, please don’t be shy we’d love to hear from you all! https://www.facebook.com/groups/alltangentmembers

(PS We never add anyone to our Facebook group unless they request membership themselves, please do not add friends without their permission thank you).

Bandcamp

Don’t forget that apart from the web site Andy has his own Bandcamp page – The Tangent albums are on InsideOut/Sony music so not available on Band Camp but people who like Andy Tillison’s solo ambient electronica and Multiplex projects and his previous bands PO90 and GFDD might like to check out his band camp page… there are also a couple of Tangent fan releases and a live album or two that collectors and completists might be interested in…. 

https://andytangent.bandcamp.com/

Please support your favourite artists by buying from Bandcamp particularly on the first Friday of every month “Bandcamp Friday” when all fees and commission are waived. Bandcamp is one of the best platforms for buying music if you want to be sure of your hard earned cash going to the artist.

And finally thank you!

A huge thank you to everyone who purchased albums from The Tangent, Andy Tillison solo albums such as the new Kalman Filter album  “Moons of Neptune” (we have very few copies left so be quick if you want one) and in particular the brand new Tillison Reingold Tiranti (TRT) Italian Prog album “Allium Una Storia”, the response was absolutely fantastic and so delighted were the guys with the enthusiasm from fans and fantastic media reviews that plans are in place for a second album, keep checking the website for updates and we will write again soon!


Thank you all as always for your loyal support of The Tangent and all its subsidiaries in whatever form that might take. We realise that the last couple of years have been hard on many of you and so even if you aren’t able to buy a special pre-order, or any pre-order at all, just knowing that you are out there, telling friends about the band or sending us messages of support, posting questions or reviews on the Facebook group, commenting on forum threads, joining in discussions etc. etc. really does make a huge difference to the band’s visibility and reach online. 

Every little bit of action you take to give your support, in whatever way you are able, gives the band members a huge confidence boost which in turn feeds into their ability to create, write and play at the top of their game. Every little positive action counts and makes YOU a part of the music and a reason to keep making the records. 

Love to you all from all of us at Tangent HQ 

Stay well, stay safe!

~ Andy, Jonas, Luke, Steve, Theo and Sally x

www.thetangent.org

www.tillisonreingoldtiranti.com

Velcrocranes, forthcoming

InsideOutMusic announce signing of Russian progressive rockers VELCROCRANES
InsideOutMusic are pleased to announce the signing of Russian progressive rock newcomers Velcrocranes. The band’s debut album ‘What If I Die’ will be released on April 29th, 2022 via their new label home. Watch a teaser here: https://youtu.be/Fn1V07X1n5w
Started out as a small jazz ensemble created originally for practice, it wasn’t until they discovered the music of Porcupine Tree and the malleable world of progressive rock that their true sound came into focus. This new, expansive direction was the future of Velcrocranes.In 2017, the band would begin playing live shows for fans in their local music scene, which, at that time, still largely consisted of covers – mixed in with new material that the group was diligently working on. In 2018, the band release d their debut EP, ‘Afterlife’, which featured the songs “Hold Your Breath” & “Afterlife”. The tracks would bring the stirring and ethereal vocals of Efim Kolitinov into the forefront, as well as the harmonious guitar leads of Liza Kotova, who serves as a primary songwriter for the group, and the intricate arrangements from Alexander Papsuev. On their debut full-length, ‘What If I Die’, Velcrocranes remain true to the foundation that they’ve carefully laid in recent years – while showing little restraint for reaching into the bag of tricks to delight their listeners. Speaking about the creative drive behind the themes explored on the LP, the band says, “We imagine the main idea of the album as changing as the listener goes along. Our goal was to draw a parallel to the way your understanding of life’s meaning, your values and choices, and your perception of death change during your lifetime.” The debut album also features keyboard contributions throughout from Adam Holzman (Miles Davis & Steven Wilson): “We’d been trying a lot of different options until at some point we got desperate enough to take a chance and write to Adam … which was totally worth it because he just hit the spot! He managed to keep our original ideas, embellish them and beautifully highlight the genre features.”The artwork for the band’s forthcoming debut was created by Carl Glover of Aleph Studio, known for his work with Steven Wilson, Frost*, Marillion & more. The band comment: “The idea behind the cover artwork is as simple as it is effective. It seems to emphasize the focus on the intellectual and metaphorical vs concrete and corporeal – this, together with the minimalistic color scheme, blends in just perfectly and echoes the music.”
‘What If I Die’ will be released as Limited CD (with bonus track), Vinyl LP + CD & as Digital Album. Pre-orders will begin on February 25th. 2022.
 
Velcrocranes are:
Efim Kolitinov – vocals
Liza Kotova – guitars, backing vocals
Alexander Papsuev – guitars, keyboards
Nikita Sarukhanov – drums, percussion
Bogdan Defo – bass
VELCROCRANES Online:
https://www.facebook.com/velcrocranes/
https://www.instagram.com/velcrocranes/?hl=en
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE2O4Jgvfev-5u57bf15mRA


INSIDEOUT MUSIC online:
www.insideoutmusic.com
www.youtube.com/InsideOutMusicTV
www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic
www.twitter.com/InsideOutUSA
www.insideoutmusic.store
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