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Luke Holmes on Ocean Grove's new single and music's old energy



Ocean Grove's single "Stratosphere Love" from the album The Rhapsody Tapes



   Firstly, thank you for having me! I'd say the general consensus of the song ("Stratosphere Love") and record (The Rhapsody Tapes) have been equally as positive which is always a bonus. For me one of the hugely redeeming qualities of this band is the varied influences and background we share. I think our music has become quite unique and immeasurable by the sheer amount of influence creating this unique flavour. Our music libraries vary from psychedelic rock to garage to trip-hop to 80's metal to musicals. I think all of these bring a different undertone to the record and its a good representation of our sum total of influences. At the moment I'm really loving The Prodigy, Robbie Williams and have rediscovered my love for Savage Garden.


About the video I guess in ways we wanted to capture an existential struggle and the war that exists within ones self about doing what you feel is good and doing what makes you feel good. This is definitely a topic I've pondered and I think when you're writing music often the many things you are fascinated by or concerned with leak into your music so I can see how it would be interpreted that way... it's probably a topic I delved deeper into on a track called "Intimate Alien". Ultimately, we try to write our lyrics more like poetry and for people to make their own interpretations rather than just spelling it out... I think one of the most interesting parts of releasing a record is hearing peoples take on what you were trying to convey with lyricism.







   Forgive me if you take this as the typical, pseudo-intellectual pretentious thing to say, that I fear it may be,  but I'd to say my approach to music is one of passion. Not that I think I'm the most devoted or outgoing individual to have lived but in the way that if I'm doing something, no matter what it is in life, I want to give it my all or not at all and be very honest in doing so. Ocean Grove's musical journey came from very humble beginnings and our mission statement was never really more than to see the world and play the music we wanted to play together in the hope this would leave a lasting impact on our lives or to anyone that listened.


A concept of Odd World was something conceived in the early stages of writing this record. We really wanted to make this album a score to this place, Odd World, a different paradigm where our different influences and quirks could roam free. I guess we wanted to make a place that reflected our music... something that was borderless and if our music wasn't going to be confined to genre this place wasn't going to be confined to the routine normalcies of just any record. As the album progressed and the music almost started writing itself instead of this concept of the Odd World became more and more shaped by the music rather than this ideology shaping the music. In the end this Odd World we had created was almost a mirrored image reflecting the oddities of our own world and I am glad that you had picked up on that in a previous question.



Ocean Grove "Intimate Alien"


   Music is to me what I would consider it to be to most, a multifaceted energy and something that will always be a constant in my life. Multifaceted in the way that it can be an escape, a motivator, something to pass the time, something to enhance emotion... it's purposes and benefits are endless.


I've only been on this earth for 23 years but I'm yet to meet someone that doesn't find some kind of solace in music or that straight up dislikes the idea of music. Music to me is what I want it to be and most importantly to share a love for music is to be human.



Ocean Grove are: Luke Holmes - vocals, Jimmy Hall - guitar, Matthew Henley - guitar, Dale Tanner - bass & clean vocals, Sam Bassal - drums, Matthew Kopp - studio member


FIND OUT MORE HERE

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Dorian Lynskey has received his Music Journalist of the Year-award




Dorian Lynskey is the recipient of the third annual Music Journalist of the Year-award. This was announced earlier. And yesterday Dorian Lynskey received his much deserved award in London.

The artist jury that selected this brilliant writer are The Brand New Heavies, Ian Ethan Case and Miriam Kaul. And as usual they selected the recipient from your nominations. We would like to say thank you to our visitors for your excellent suggestions, and for once again giving the jury a difficult task.


The jury's motivation for giving Dorian Lynskey this award for his work in 2016 reads as follows:


We raise our hat to Dorian Lynskey. His work is vivid, deep and wide, and deliciously moreish to read, as he describes the world through music and vice versa. An accomplished writer, who is an asset to the field that he chooses to cover, and music is fortunate that he chose music. Flowing through a deep well of logical references, selecting quotes that zoom in or out on the topic at the right moment, and at times connecting us, the readers, to his subject matter, to the extent that he makes us feel as though they were neighbors, friends, Lynskey brings the horizon as well as humanism to life in his words.



Read a few examples of Lynskey's work in 2016 here.




The previous recipients of this award are:


Derek Walmsley, The Wire, for 2014




Ruth Saxelby, The Fader, for 2015

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Phillip Johnston on moving to Australia and more




For me professionally, living in Australia has its pros and cons. On one hand, it’s certainly not a good career move from a US perspective. The way I describe it to people is that if a New York musician moves to Europe it’s like they died; if they move to Australia it’s like they were never born in the first place. But when we moved, my wife supported me in making the commitment to remain connected to my musical life in New York, and I’ve continued to travel to New York or Europe several times a year to play with the people I’ve been playing with for decades, and continue at different times with The Microscopic Septet, The Spokes, Guy Klucevsek, Joel Forrester, The Silent Six and others.

I’ve also had a very rich musical life in Australia, playing with some of the most amazing musicians I’ve ever met anywhere. I’ve started new groups here ranging from The Greasy Chicken Orchestra, (which plays my arrangements of 20s and 30s jazz), The Coolerators/Phillip Johnston Quartet playing my newest compositions, Tight Corners, with Melbourne pianist Jex Saarelaht (playing the music of Monk, Lacy and Herbie Nichols), the saxophone quartet SNAP, and others. I’ve also created my most recent score for silent film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) here, and premiered the newest version of Page of Madness: Suite for Improvisers, that I first performed at The Stone in New York in 2015, and completed a PhD in Music Composition.

But I moved to Sydney for personal reasons: my wife is Australian playwright Hilary Bell, whom I met in New York. We fell in love, got married, had two children, Moss and Ivy, and went on living in New York. But at a certain point she wanted to move back to Sydney to be closer to her family and I’m always ready for an adventure, so here we are, and it’s 12 years later. Australia is a good place to live, and the US, of course, is unfortunately not having one of its best moments.

I’ve lived in a few places. I lived in San Francisco on and off throughout the 70s, which was wonderful–I still love it there. I grew up in New York, but never thought of myself as a New Yorker, or as an American for that matter, until I first went to Europe in the early 80s. You define yourself in contrast to other people, and often turn into a parody of yourself. I never realised that my conversation was composed almost entirely of slang and colloquialisms until I tried to speak English with people who had studied it. Now I live in Australia and people also see me as a ‘real New Yorker’. Australians are very polite and New Yorkers are more aggressive–they argue about everything just for the sport of it; some Australians find this impolite.

I chose the saxophone for my instrument because a lot of the music I listened to when I was young featured saxophone. I had a girlfriend in high school who was much more sophisticated than I was–she introduced me to the music of Thelonious Monk (Charlie Rouse), Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp. I discovered Captain Beefheart and Anthony Braxton. They all (except Braxton) played tenor, so I started on tenor. But I also loved the jazz of the 20s and 30s. I was drawn to the soprano early on by Sidney Bechet and Steve Lacy–I didn’t listen much to Coltrane or Wayne Shorter. But over time I came to appreciate many kinds of music form 60s pop music to tango to electronica…

Being a musician is an odd job. When you meet people at a party, and they ask what you do and you say, “I’m a musician”, they say, “but what do you do for a living?”. They don’t think of it as a real job. On the other hand, musicians are idealized by some, sometimes to their detriment. All jobs have their good side and bad side and they’re not that different. But no one ever meets some one at a party and when told “I’m a plumber”, respond, “But what do you do for a living?”




Find out more HERE


 

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Georg "Jojje" Wadenius: - If you left New York you had to start over






   I am not working that much in 2017. I worked far too much last year and it started to take its tow on my health, so this year I’m playing some material for children and doing a tour in the fall with The Cleo Band, my band with Lars Danielsson, Per Lindvall and Jesper Nordenström.



Cleo live


Blood Sweat & Tears live



   I wound up in Blood Sweat & Tears – and in New York – because I ran into a friend, the guitarist Stefan Grossman, who is a childhood friend of three or four of the guys in the band. They had had a band meeting where they decided that they needed a guitarist who could play rock and jazz, and Stefan had said to them that he knew who they needed. So I got a call from them and went over to play with them between Christmas and new-years in 1971. And it went well, so I returned home to Sweden to get my things together, after which I made the move to the US.


   I had so much work in the US. For a studio musician the job is often to be able to fit into a lot. Being a session musician there I was part of so many things that made it out to the general public, and so many things that didn’t, because it didn’t work out on the business end for example.



A mere few examples of the many album productions that Jojje Wadenius has contributed to



    I worked a great deal with Luther Vandross, and he was a lot of fun to work with and an agreeable person. We had been working with Roberta Flack prior to that. It was me on guitar, Marcus Miller on bass, Buddy Williams on drums, and Luther doing backgrounds. So when he initially recorded a couple of tracks, he brought us for that. After that I kept working with him a lot but I really only toured with him in New York. Things were going well for me, and not in the least financially. If you left New York for six months to do a tour you had to almost start over as a session musician, because there were always new people coming in. I also had young children, and wouldn’t have enjoyed being away for months.



Classic Luther Vandross "Never Too Much"


   It’s hard to say what makes a great artist. Most artists who make it have talent at the core, but you can hardly say that all of them are nice people. I think that one thing the greats have in common is that they don’t release something before it is as good as it can be. They wouldn’t stand for something that is seventy percent of what they want. And a lot of them have AD/HD too.


   These days I find it’s difficult to keep up with what’s going on. I have heard such a lot of music and  often I quickly get tired of the music that is popular now. We do have some great acts in Norway though, where I am based these days.


As for the future I just hope to be able to continue, and to be continually inspired.


Made In Sweden with Jojje Wadenius

Georg Wadenius and Cleo



Find out more HERE



The Music Journalist of the Year 2016 is Dorian Lynskey!


We are proud to announce that the recipient of the Music Journalist of the Year-award for 2016 is Dorian Lynskey!

Dorian Lynskey contributes to The Guardian / The Observer, Mojo and GQ Magazine, among other publications. Dorian Lynskey is also the author of 33 Revolutions Per Minute, a book on the history of protest music published in 2011.


Among the articles that Lynskey produced during the previous year you find examples such as these:


https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2016/nov/11/leonard-cohen-he-knew-things-about-life-and-if-you-listened-you-could-learn


https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/jun/26/glastonbury-memories-dorian-lynksey-festival-1994-2016


http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/donald-trump-aint-dope-official


http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/david-bowie-great-man-of-pop



Musicians' Corner's artist jury's motivation for awarding Dorian Lynskey with the title of Music Journalist of the Year:


We raise our hat to Dorian Lynskey. His work is vivid, deep and wide, and deliciously moreish to read, as he describes the world through music and vice versa. An accomplished writer, who is an asset to the field that he chooses to cover, and music is fortunate that he chose music. Flowing through a deep well of logical references, selecting quotes that zoom in or out on the topic at the right moment, and at times connecting us, the readers, to his subject matter, to the extent that he makes us feel as though they were neighbors, friends, Lynskey brings the horizon as well as humanism to life in his words.


The artist jury for this year's award are  The Brand New Heavies, Miriam Kaul and Ian Ethan Case.

The annual Music Journalist of the Year-award was first presented in 2015.




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Joel Forrester: - Our times cry out for the community in music



Composer and pianist Joel Forrester talks about where his band The Microscoptic Septet are at currently after their 2017 release. Photo: Thomas Schaefer / www.ts-fotografik.de


What we will do with the Micros has been up in the air since we rebanded a few years ago. The co-leader lives in Sydney. I sometimes refer to us as a zombie band – we reconvene in New York and are alive again. We have plans to continue, I think.


I feel that we are survivors of the 80’s and 90’s era in New York. These days there are few venues that can support a band of our size. We also used to have more time. The high cost of living these days effects a lot on the music scene.


The Microscopic Septet "Don't Mind If I Do" from the 2017 release "Been Up So Long It Looks Like Down To Me"


There used to be specific strands of jazz that sorted themselves out, and The Microscopic Septet combined them. We aren’t a band of long and selfish solos. We are about collective improvisation, and solos with music underneath, the same as the big bands were.


Now there is no longer an avant-garde in music.






Photo: Thomas Schaefer / www.ts-fotografik.de


Thelonious Monk means everything to me. I first started listening to him when I was 12-13 years old, and I used to hide the record player under the covers of my bed and keep listening. Later I met him, and he was just as eccentric as his music was. I played for him. He was in another room with the door open. I thought that he would come out and correct me every now and then, but he never did. If he liked what I played he simply kept the door open. If he didn’t the door would slam shut. It did a few times. And I realized that the door stayed open when I developed the music I was playing.


"Bunny Boy" by Joel Forrester live 2011


A good composition has to have integrity – and the sound of surprise. I also believe that the rhythm and timing are equally important to the harmonies. My compositions always start with the rhythm.


Even more important than the beauty in music is the symbolic of people getting together through music, the community in this artform. Our times cry out for this. Everything is splitting apart in the times that we live in, and community is a great human need. Music is a necessity in the resistance against breaking.





FIND OUT MORE HERE

AND HERE

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The nominations are in!



Once again the visitors to this site have nominated music journalists to the Music Journalist of the Year Award, and given the artist jury a difficult job with selecting a recipient, of this third annual award.

Miriam Kaul, Ian Ethan Case and The Brand New Heavies are hard at work reading the work by the nominees, and you really didn't give them an easy task this time around. As usual you found truly interesting journalists, including a nominee who was in fact nominated last year as well, and short-listed by the jury.

We will know this year's jury's decision in May!

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Proudly presenting this year's jury

Article in the section Articles about the Music Journalist of the Year award




With just a few more days left to nominate journalists for The Music Journalist of the Year-award we are proud to present the jury that will choose the recipient of the award for 2016!


They are:


** THE BRAND NEW HEAVIES:

SIMON BARTHOLOMEW / ANDREW LEVY **






https://www.facebook.com/BrandNewHeavies/

http://www.musicians-corner.net/Jan-Kincaid---We-need-to-give-the-kids-some-credit/



** IAN ETHAN CASE **





https://www.facebook.com/OpenLandMusic/

http://musicians-corner.net/Ian-Ethan-Case---I-think-everyone-has-a-unique-voice/

http://musicians-corner.net/Ian-Ethan-Case-on-keeping-a-beautiful-tone/



** MIRIAM KAUL **






https://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/MiriamKaul

http://www.musicians-corner.net/Miriam-Kaul---The-main-thing-no-matter-what-I-will-keep-on-playing-music/



You only have a few days left to nominate journalists for the award. To find out more about the award, and to nominate a music journalist you read, listen to, view, or work with, go HERE.

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Jennifer Johns about the album she released after her journey

In March last year we heard from Jennifer Johns, who was traveling South Africa with the FUN Manifesto. Now that journey has resulted in an album.



   A year ago I got on a plane to South Africa to ask people about freedom… While I knew this journey would change me forever, I was still not prepared for all that I encountered. For 10 (unexpected) months Spirit moved with me through what was one of the deepest, hardest and most transformational quests of my life. I learned about how hurt people hurt people, how lovers love regardless and how powerful and nuanced real love is…


   Honestly I had no plan of recording music at all when I began this trip… but upon reaching Cape Town something shifted in me… I was made into the vessel I prayed to be and created a body of work that I am humbled chose me.






READ THE PREVIOUS ARTICLE HERE

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Chris LoPorto talks about Can't Swim's album release



Chris LoPorto and his band Can't Swim release their album Fail You Again March 10. Read about LoPorto's journey towards this album, and the autobiographical video that he made about it.




 
   The reason for the album title, Fail You Again, is that it is the last song on the record. We had a bunch of ideas for the title for the album and the guys liked this one. It is about searching for the truth and the truth failing you. It is about things that happened to me in my early 20’s. 


Can’t Swim is the first project that I write for, being a drummer. It is about 28 years of events in my life, events that have taken their toll. They come out in the songs and in ways it’s why I started a band. It’s almost for therapeutic reasons, although I never thought that it would lead to a full band.



   My mother is the most important person in my life. My parents had me when they were teenagers still figuring it out. I always felt like she was my best friend. She got me into music. We were not a family that was financially stable, but she did everything for me.


How I got signed is very peculiar, and I was very lucky. I wrote the songs on my laptop, and sent them to very few people, with no intention. They sent them to other people. Then Pure Noise Records called and wanted to sign me. I was like “What?”. I never sung in front of people.


   The idea behind the autobiographical clip for Fail You Again was a collaborative effort. The management and label asked me if I was okay with it, and I jumped on board. It was bizarre going back there, but it gave some background. I don’t hide who I am. I left that house 4-5 years ago and I now live in New York.


The album is released March 10 and it will be a big year for touring for us, supporting the album. I also plan on writing for a future release.


We have a new drummer in the band, and it is lovely that she is part of the band. The former drummer is now playing guitar. In fact there are a lot of drummers in this band who pretend to be guitarists.






Can't Swim's new release Fail You Again






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Brian Owens talks about his new release "Soul of Ferguson"




   Where I get my sound from? Every artist is the sum total of their influences. Even the ones that we feel are the most original, if we dig deep enough we'll find out, "Oh, that's where you got that." So, the idea of original/originality is being an original vehicle. It's not necessarily that the ideas or the esthetics are original. In a lot of ways, in me embracing those influences I find my own voice and it's comprised of the different colors.


You can definitely listen to my album and go, "Man, that reminds me of Curtis Mayfield, oh that sounds like some Stax horns, oh that sounds like this." Yeah, because that's what I listen to, that's what I study. I think that's a good thing because it's always informing my forward progression as an artist and as a writer - just expanding to more stuff.

It's like an artist who has a broad palette of colors that they work with. That's how I see the influences. There's a broad palette: you have the blue of Curtis, you have the red of Marvin, you have the green of Otis, you have the browns and the tans or the yellows of The Temptations. Whatever those colors may be, they make up my palette as a vocalist and I get to choose, depending on the song, which one I want to go after but once I put it on the canvas, how I put it on the canvas is Brian.





That's the originality. The colors are what they are but it's how they end up on the palette and how I use brushstrokes and the perspectives and those kind of things, which are just as important to how we define a vocalist or a songwriter as the way they sound. It's the whole thing.


That's why people who study classical music still study the same people. There's some new people that you study, but by and large you're going to study Bach, you're going to study Beethoven, you're going to study Mozart. Why? Because that's the foundation.
 
Same with jazz. You listen to Miles and you listen to Monk and you listen to Coltrane, because that's the foundation. Well, the foundation of soul is Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Motown, Stax, Muscle Shoals. For me, it's about getting into the roots music of other genres that are related, like the music of Johnny Cash and interpreting that music. 
 
It all informs me as a writer. Especially Johnny Cash. I really, really dig Johnny Cash, and I really like Hank Williams, too, and the way they wrote. Those are two songwriters who are good people to study, so I have. More so Johnny Cash than Hank Williams but the influence is definitely in there.


Having a musical family means verything to me! Growing up in such a rich musical tradition with outstanding singers and musicians around me developed areas of my skill set that I may other wise not have.



 

I see this album as an old-school LP - there's a Side A and a Side B. And the songs are really why the album can be experienced in its totality, like if you're listening to it on a CD. I also see two sets of ideals: The A-side is basically what I would call love songs and the B-side is what I would call life songs. At this point I'm like, however people want to listen, just listen. That's the important thing. However you want to listen, just listen.
 

When I say “The Soul of Ferguson,” I think it’s the soundtrack to the heart of my city. But what is the soul and heart of the city? People from Ferguson have to wrestle with trials everyday. This album is what I think the soundscape is, and I look out and see it’s a difficult story. Healing and growing is something we have to do. And that’s what this project represented for me, a soundscape for the city. We can move against stagnation.







   My plans right now are that I am finishing an americanna project that focuses on the music of Johhny Cash as well as touring and continuing to promote our brand and message of hope and love.

I'm enjoying John Mayer's new work as well as several artist here in St. Louis like Peter Martin and the 442's. I am also very inspired by the work of my students!


   Music to me is one of the greatest gifts that God has ever bestowed upon humanity and has the power to shape hearts, cultures and nations and i am honored to be a part of that.




FIND OUT MORE HERE



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Philip Lassiter looks back on working with Prince as he releases his solo album






   For over 15 years I have been cultivating my own sound using stacked trumpets.  I first heard this sound when D'Angelo released "Voodoo" with Roy Hargrove laying down trumpet overdubs.  I was already a huge Hargrove fan and had just got my first digital recording studio so I was off to the races. It wasn't long before I started getting asked to lay down my own stacks on other artist's albums.  Over the years I have had the opportunity to play on hundreds of projects, making the "trumpet stack" thing something I'm fairly known for but it took me THIS long to record a trumpet album of my own!  I thought to myself, it's about time!  So, I reached out to some of my favorite producers and asked for them to submit tracks that they had laying around.  James Poyser did 2 tracks on the album and they are so funky!  I had a lot of help from my good pal Rodney Lil Rod Jones with production and mixing on this album.  It may not have been possible without his generosity and expertise.  This project is so unique because of the mixture of true hiphop grooves with super harmonic trumpet soundscapes.  I couldn't be more proud of a record and I'd love to do another one at some point.



Before I first chose the trumpet I tried lots of instruments. Sax, drums, even oboe but I gravitated to the baritone first.  I got a nice sound on it right from the bat.  I was a small kid so lugging that heavy instrument around was quite a pain so, after trying my friend's trumpet, I was hooked. 








   Prince was someone I always drew inspiration from.  I was always heavily into funk music.  I was way into Sexy MF, Kiss, Musicology and those types of Prince songs.  I always used to say that if I went on the road again it would be with someone like Prince.  I was playing on gospel record after gospel record, just basically making a living.  I lived in Brooklyn at the time I got the call from another gospel musician who had just linked up with Prince. He referred me directly to him and the audition process began.  The whole thing was very surreal and it all happened because of the work that I had done year after year playing on records.  Eventually my work spread all the way to the purple lord of funk himself!

Working with Prince was magical.  He was the hardest working person I've ever known.  I'll never forget the day we met.  I flew first class for the first time ever.  I arrived at Paisley Park and he greeted me at the door and immediately complimented my work.  I then followed him down a dark hallway into the foryer of the complex.  Murals and awards were everywhere.  The ceiling was painted like the sky and there was a piano shaped like a spaceship!  I was totally tripping out.  He then led me to a conference room where he told me what he that he wanted to build a HUGE horn section.  He said, "my father used to tell me about great big horn sections in soul bands..like 10 horns".  "At this point in my career I do not feel like there's anything that I NEED to say....so if I'm going to say something it's got to be something that I'M interested in...and to honest, I just want to HEAR it."  I replied, "right on". :)

We then went on to have an 11 piece horn section with 4 trumpets, 1 alto, 2 tenor saxes, 2 bones and 2 bari saxes!  It was such an epic sound.  At times it reminded me of Quincy Jones's horn section in The Whiz.  Prince enjoyed us so much.  He was very proud of us and loved to show us off.  He would often say, "we are going to make history".  I never heard anyone say that out loud.  lol
Then we turned around and did JUST THAT. 

We played the United Center in Chicago and SXXW in Austin.  We gave an epic performance on the Arsenio Hall show in which my favorite horn arranger, Jerry Hey wrote and complimented me on my arrangement after the performance.  We did 3 nights at the famous Montreaux Jazz Festival which was video recorded and said one of his finest performances.  We also performed for almost 4 hours in a heat watch on Curacao, an island close to South America where I met my wife.  

The experiences I had with Prince will forever be some of the richest moments in my life.  I will always remember him as someone who believed in me and encouraged me to think outside of the box and keep the music moving forward.



My wife and I just moved to LA so we are very excited about what's around the corner.  I recently wrote and arranged horns and strings on the latest Kirk Franklin and CeCe Winans records.  Kirk just won a Grammy for best gospel album.  I also did horns for Jose James and Kandace Springs, 2 up and coming soul/jazz singers on Blue Note records.  Right now I simply plan to be as visible as I can and let people on the west coast know that I'm around and ready to work!


There are so many I would like to collaborate with.  I have my eyes and ears set on the stirring and resurgence of soul music.  I am really digging where artists like Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke, Adele, Ceelo and many others are headed. I would love to team up with producers like Will.I.Am, Mark Ronson and Pharell. The sky is the limit and I believe anything is possible.







FIND OUT MORE HERE!



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The Music Journalist Of The Year-Award 2017

Article in the section Articles about the Music Journalist of the Year award





It is time for the MUSIC JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR-AWARD!


  

This annual award, which was presented for the first time in 2015, is now open for nominations!


   We flip things around a little at Musicians’ Corner. Usually when you read about music in the media what you read was written by a journalist. On this site artists write and speak about music with minimal journalistic involvement. Usually it is journalists who express opinions about music and musicians in the media. On this site musicians are about to express an opinion about music journalists – in the form of giving an award out! Yes, usually when awards are given out they are given by journalists to artists…

With this award we want to encourage accomplished journalistic work about music. It is of great significance to us all, to artists as well as to music fans.





   Who among music journalists dug deeper, was in the right place, expanded your horizon, did the best interviews, took you back, described this art form and the world through it, in 2016? Who among music journalists deserves an award for outstanding work last year? In your opinion? Let’s have it!





We are open to nominations for the award until 2017.04.01. You are welcome to nominate a music journalist you read, listen to or view, a music journalist you work with, and if you are a music journalist you can nominate yourself too.


Please nominate using the form below. Include the name of the journalist/s you nominate and links to journalistic work by the nominee/s.


 

Nominate








 


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Soul legend Gerald Alston: - I still see Blue in my mind



   I have been a member of a group all through my life. And it has lost all its members except for me. I am the only one left.


  I told Blue on his deathbed that the legacy would continue.


The Manhattans "Kiss And Say Goodbye"

  

   Being a part of The Manhattans has been a wonderful experience.


   I became a member of the group after I had left high school, and during my first year I performed in London and Amsterdam. I was singing at the Apollo in October that year. It was fantastic, and I have no regrets. I learned a lot, worked with a lot of great people and with people I had only seen on TV.



  

The Manhattans "One Life To Live"


   I have seen what music can do, not in the least during the times when we toured South Africa. There were gang problems and we were told that if we saw anything of that we were to walk off stage. And we did see things, and Blue stopped the show to say to the audience that we were there to have a good time. The trouble stopped and we continued playing. After the US, South Africa is the country where we have sold the most records, and when we went over there we added several shows every day to our tours. We kept going back and we loved South Africa.




The Manhattans "There's No Me Without You"  


  There are so many memories. Just a few examples: 


- We were in Rotterdam and had just performed for Jimmy Carter. We were used to a full orchestra, but that show was on a different kind of stage, and I fell. People were wondering “Should we laugh?” because it was funny, or if I had hurt myself. But I got up and kept singing.

– When we won a Grammy for “Shining Star” we had tough competition and we had no idea that we would win. When they called our names we were wondering “Is this real?”.

– We toured with Marvin Gaye. Through all his struggles he never missed a beat. I met him in his younger days. And he never said something if he didn’t mean it, but he told me “You are one of the best lead singers I have ever seen”, and it meant a lot to me.


The Manhattans "Shining Star"


   It was really rough in December of 2014. I got a call that Sonny had passed, and Blue had cancer. It all happened at once and was very rough emotionally. I still see Blue in my mind. I see him doing his choreography, and I know it was what kept him going when he was sick.


   I left the group in 1987 and Blue wasn’t well at the time, and had to come off the road as well. Sonny continued to sing. At the time of our 30 year anniversary a reunion was suggested and Blue said yes to it. Sonny refused to come in. There were two acts after that, The Manhattans featuring me and Blue, and The Manhattans which Sonny did. I’m not going to talk down about it but what he did didn’t go so well. We didn’t get the chance to talk to him before he passed away.


   The Manhattans still sing, and the crowd is young. After Blue passed away my cousin Edward Dwight Fields joined the Group; Troy May, David Tyson and myself. Fields passed away on August 26, 2016. Now Troy, David and myself are continuing "The Legacy".


Gerald Alston "Getting Back Into Love"


   Music has changed. It used to be about money but it was also about art. The advice I would give young artists is you must believe in yourself and record music that people want to hear. We wrote songs about life, and they last. Easy money doesn’t.


Gerald Alston with Mel Holder "Back To Basics"



The Manhattans formed in 1962. Gerald Alston joined the group in 1970. They have released albums with their 'trademark' smooth soul for five decades... Gerald Alston also has a successful solo career, and has released five albums as solo artist, to date.


Find out more HERE

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Markus Pajakkala goes brutal with Utopianisti


Learn about Utopianisti in bandleader Markus Pajakkala's words


   Utopianisti is mostly my project, I’ve written all the songs but the band members and guests’ voices can also be heard in the result. I don’t want to be a despot leader, but rather like to provide an engine through which the other musicians can shine.

I made the first album in 2010-11 as a school project while studying at the Sibelius Academy. I would’ve made it anyway, but I got it neatly merged into my studies, which was handy. I wrote all the songs, engineered and produced the whole thing, and played a lot of the instruments -- and there were also seventeen guests on the album. It was mostly a lab for myself to play with different ideas, and the genres varied heavily. The second album got even more ambitious, having thirty-one guests including big band horns and opera singers. These were only studio albums. Most of the musicians on them never even met each other. After the 2nd album I felt that the material could be tried out live, so I asked some talented friends of mine to come try it out. The band came together smoothly and suddenly we were booked to tour Mexico before we had done a single gig - that was a rocket start! The 7-piece line-up felt great and I started writing music specifically for this group.


Utopianisti "13 Demons In The Disco Dimension" (2016)


   The third album ”The Third Frontier” (released May 2016 through our big hero Pekka Pohjola’s old label Pohjola Records) was recorded mostly live in the studio with the new line-up, this time with only 2 guest singers. Most of the songs had been played live a lot prior to the recording, and it made them come together in a way that I could previously only dream of. The album has got very good reviews and I also regard it as the highest point so far in the history of Utopianisti. The palette of musical styles was narrowed down from ”absolutely whatever goes” (of the first two albums) to the more cohesive jazz-rock meets prog with hints of avant-garde thrown in. But be sure that I don’t want to be boring or predictable - the palette is still pretty wide and anything can happen, as you see…







   The fourth and newest album ”Brutopianisti” is a kind of experimental side project. It doesn’t involve the band, though the band isn’t disbanding, but the album is a play on multiple ideas I’ve had floating around. It came together very naturally, like a huge burst of inspiration captured in the moment. It’s very loud, brutal and extreme, very different from the previous albums. I play all the instruments myself apart from some modular synths tweaked by Anssi from the band, and the vocalists are guests ranging from growling and squeaking to throat singing. I’m very happy about it. It turned out great. It seems that it might get us some new fans, but if the old fans don’t like the extremity of it, don’t worry - that it’s not the direction we’re planning to stick to.


Utopianisti live in 2014


   I first got started playing music because as a kid I was banging on stuff around the house, and a friend of my parents’ said “Get him a drum kit”. So I got one when I was 10. After that I also got a computer and music software. After I had put loops together for some time I started writing music of my own. On my way deeper into music (namely jazz and world music), I got fascinated with the saxophone and picked it up when I was 15. I also play some flute and keys on the side. I guess my main composing tool is the piano, even though it can be anything else too, like a table, a bottle or a toy xylophone. A real piano is actually very rarely heard in my compositions (even though the name Utopianisti might suggest otherwise). Nowadays I’m in the lucky situation that I make a living by writing and producing music for my employer Yousician, with some freelancing and Utopianisti on the side. I also get to satisfy my need for genre hopping in my day job, so maybe Utopianisti can concentrate on it’s own voice now.

I like the energy of music and to be able to express myself through it. Not only for the huge joy of it, but it’s also good for the demons in my head. There is so much that you can do with music. I love playing, playing with other musicians, and listening to others playing. Music is something to immerse myself in, and I wouldn’t be happy without it. I’m into jazz, prog and world music for example. I like building tension through my music, and then letting go. I tend to listen to more flamboyant music, also sometimes go for something more ambient, but my active personality makes it pretty hard for me to compose something like that! I’m happy to take that as a challenge though…

The way I see it, now that the band has its own kind of voice we’re about to take it deeper into greater songs and interplay.  We are trying to get some gigs booked for 2017, also abroad. This year’s plans also include writing more music for the band, although we probably won’t be ready to record it this year. But you might hear new songs on our gigs!


Utopianisti's latest offering "brutopianisti" (Album)



Utopianisti is Markus Pajakkala's band and solo project. Utopianisti has released four albums to date, out of which "Brutopianisti" is the most recent. Markus Pajakkala studied at the Sibelius Academy and Utopianisti are based in Finland. They are: Markus Pajakkala,Rolf Pilve, Olli Helin, Tuomas Marttila, Jaakko Luoma, Antero Mentu and Anssi Solismaa.


Find out more HERE





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Mark Holub: Still finding out what you are doing is important




Find out what Led Bib are up to through bandleader Mark Holub


   This is our 5th studio album and it’s the first time that we have done it this way. We usually tour a lot and  have ten new tunes that we have played for a year before we record them.  This time everybody brought some tunes, which we recorded in Vienna, and when we go on tour in a few weeks it will be the first time that we play them live. It was all about re-engaging with the process and the band.


A relationship with a band is much like a relationship with a partner. I grew up as a musician playing with this band. I was about 21 when we started and am around 35 now. We used to play concerts a couple of times a month and live within five minutes of each other. Now I live in Vienna, and we work in other ways. If we have a tour coming up we rehearse for a day.


Led Bib "Ceasefire" (2017)


We know each other from playing together all these years, and trust each other. Just now, an hour ago, there was an issue with the keyboards, and I don’t have any preconceptions about what Led Bib should be anymore. If Toby is happy playing synths I’m happy with that.


You have to realize that the people you are playing with are great and trust that something great will come -- and at times when you’re playing live and aren’t happy with your own playing you know that.


Of course it’s nice to get praise for what you are doing, but it isn’t an impetus for what you are doing. It enables us. Through acknowledgement you get a record company interested or a new agent. But it would be crazy to do things just because people like them. And that feeling of not being confident is something that you prize. Still finding out what you are doing is important.





   Things are changing a lot for modern jazz acts in the UK. When we first started out in 2003 there weren’t a lot of opportunities for people to play their music in this sort of sphere. And we were searching for chances to tour more. Maybe that has changed and there are tons of bands now. A lot of people are studying jazz and want to have a band. And people are so much more advanced. Not that everything is great. We played North Sea Jazz Festival early on, which was nerve-wracking, and we didn’t know what to do. We spread our instruments far apart on that big stage and it was hard to connect during the gig. But there is less money now. Jazz Services offered small touring grants when we started out, grants that covered the renting a van and made tours possible, but that is gone now. And there used to be visionary promotors such as Leeds Jazz, that are also gone. We are established in the UK and we are still able to tour.


This year we are doing the album launch tour in February, followed by more tours and festivals in the summer. It will be busy. We have fifty shows between now and May.


/ Mark Holub


 

Led Bib's new album "Umbrella Weather" (released January 20, 2017)



Led Bib are a modern jazz Group from London. They have released five studio albums to date, and were nominated for the Mercury Prize for their 2009 release "Sensible Shoes". Led Bib are Mark Holub (bandleader), Pete Grogan, Chris Williams, Toby McLaren and Liran Donan.


Find out more HERE


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Miles Solay: I’ll give my life but I want to know, will you be there?

Miles Solay from Outernational speaks of the imminent presidential inauguration. Miles' views are his own. Photo by RefuseFascism.org


It is January 2017 and we are on the eve of a fascist regime coming to power in the USA. I have been throwing in with the RefuseFascism.org movement to organize millions to take to the streets to prevent the Donald Trump/Mike Pence Regime from  taking power. This moment feels like we are at the end of the Weimer Republic and the beginning of the Third Reich. I say that analogy fully cognizant of its weight and significance. It is time to rise to the challenge to prevent a catastrophic horror for humanity. Millions are outraged. We cannot sit back and to try to fit in. When and where people have done that throughout history, the outcome has been horrendous.


The Trump/Pence Regime is illegitimate because fascism is never legitimate. There are enough crises amongst the ruling elites in American society that if millions of people went into the streets and declared the Trump/Pence Regime as illegitimate it could have influence. And if those millions then didn't leave the streets until the Regime was unable to take power, the seemingly impossible could become possible.


Welcome To The Surreal Fascist Twilight Zone.


I have been inspired to see people taking to the streets and courageously speaking out. I’ve been in Washington, DC along with the defiant ones of Refuse Fascism and others. I also have been disappointed to see people who should know better doing nothing. Or talking about building some kind of puny opposition for the next 4 years. What are you waiting for?? A registry of Muslims? A wall against our Mexican brothers and sisters? A punishing squashing of dissent?? The most powerful military in history on the brink of using nuclear weapons?! Women with no control over their bodies or reproductive freedom?! Open white-supremacist attack lynch-mobs?!


The hour is late but not too late. Live your life and give your life for the 7 billion. In the name of humanity, for our planet. For it all now.


The Donald Trump Regime will move swiftly. We must rise to the challenge. Every city in the world, wherever you are. Let’s go.


Miles Solay,

Outernational




A few videos by Outernational:


Outernational "It Didn't Get Better (U Just Got Used 2 IT" (2016)


Classic Outernational "Todos Somos Ilegales" (2012)



Outernational latest video "Tighten Up" (2016)




Outernational are a band based in New York, with many releases and tours on the American continents and in Europe, as well as collaborations with a large number of artists, behind them. Outernational are currently Miles Solay, Jesse Williams and Nate Hassan.

Find out more HERE

Find out more about RefuseFascism HERE

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Zhenya Strigalev moving sax forward

Find out what Zhenya Strigalev is busy with


   Since the 2014 article for Musicians’ Corner I have basically recorded two albums, Robin Goodie (2015) and Never Group, and toured after. Both albums were well received. One of the reasons for Never Group is that I wanted to do an album with a trio. Tim Lefebvre and Eric Harland had never previously recorded together in the trio format, and they have great musical chemistry. They sound really fresh, and we understand each other very well.


"In The Mood Redux" Never Group - official video 2016


   The album was recorded in Berlin. We were on tour and stayed on there for a few days to record it. The sessions were improvised and relaxed, growing in different directions, and we picked up the best moments from the improvisations.


   Bruno Liberda is a pioneer in electronic music and a classical composer, based in Vienna. We had met and discussed some kind of collaboration, and there was space for that in this production. It added colour to it. I sent him tracks from different recorded channels and he did his own compositions using our recordings. It isn’t remixes. Tim is very good with pedals and it all fit together.

   I also wanted to do a few tunes in trio format with double bass. I never forget about acoustic jazz so I wanted to record that too with Matt Penman on double bass.


   My friend John Escreet who lives in New York also added work.


   The album has different kinds of music, and is like a DJ playing diverse tracks for a listening audience.

   I am happy that the album has been well received and hope that people are discovering it.


"Strange Party" Never Group - official video 2016


   We are now touring, and the setting is different with two trumpets, drums and bass. I am doing some electronics and also pedals, figuring out a special way of using them that nobody else does.


   I like to propose tunes with a strong melody which inspires improvisation, a melody that isn’t locked in into one genre of jazz, but something that we can do many things with, and a lot of space to move in musically.


   I don’t like talking too much about future plans.



Zhenya Strigalev has gone from strength to strength in his recording career, with three acclaimed releases behind him to date, the latest of which is Never Group (self titled, April 2016). Strigalev also has interesting concepts for the recorded and live formats respectively, and seems to be on an ever expanding journey into the language of music.

Find out more HERE and HERE 

Zhenya Strigalev has previously contributed to Musicians’ Corner. Read the earlier article HERE

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Sam Barsh reflects on the election




LA-based artist and songwriter Sam Barsh reflects on the US election in this interesting text, which he generously shares. Sam's views are his own.



   Over the past year, I've spoken to Trump voters in person, on the phone (while making calls before the election), visited "Trump Country," and heard Trump supporters of diverse backgrounds and ethnicities speak on local and national call-in radio programs. For the last few days I've been processing what I learned, and I want to share it here.

Since I have many friends that are dumbfounded as to how Trump won, and feel that all of his supporters are either racist, ignorant or both, I hope this lends some insight. It helped me understand that though we may be divided politically, most Americans share similar hopes and dreams for ourselves and our loved ones.

What is written below does not represent my personal views, and the information was complied as objectively as possible. I've categorized it into key points that I heard referenced repeatedly by Trump's supporters.

-People feel that the 2 party system is systematically screwing them

For many, a vote for Trump was simply a vote against the 2 party system. People I heard were especially fed up with political gridlock, and a general sameness in economic policy between the 2 parties that has benefitted corporations and "elites." For the first time in a long time, a candidate that looked like they could actually blow up the system came along, and people got behind him.

-With both candidates considered untruthful, people had to choose what rhetoric to ignore

Both candidates had high untrustworthy ratings by the public. According to politifact.com, while 14% of Trump's statements were either "true" or "mostly true," that percentage was only 51% for Clinton. While much better than Trump, it still meant that every time she said something, there was a coin's flip of a chance it was at least a partial lie. Thus, people had to decide what to believe and what not to believe about each candidate. This gave many people a green light to dismiss certain things Trump said as empty rhetoric, and focus on the parts they agreed with.

-The above was especially true with his racist and misogynistic speech

A lot of people I spoke to and heard speak said that they just didn't believe Trump was a racist. They understood the racist coalition that comprises one portion of right-wing voters, and they considered it a strategic move on his part to get votes. These included Black people, Indian people, Latinos, other immigrants or children of immigrants, and Whites.

One young woman I met in LA said that she had never voted before but registered just so she could vote for Trump, and that she didn't feel any misogyny from Trump even after seeing his "grab em by the pussy" video. Another said that she despised his actions, but still felt that he would ultimately be a better leader than Clinton because her dishonesty went too deep.

-Many Trump supporters had no problem with gay marriage or abortion rights, but it was not a make or break issue for them

With only 2 viable choices, many people were forced to make some very difficult compromises. Aside from the people who always vote according to their stand on social issues no matter the candidate, there were plenty of Trump supporters that either didn't believe he actually opposed gay marriage and Roe vs. Wade and was just saying so to get votes, or they felt strongly enough about another issue(s) they agreed with him on that they were willing to compromise their stance on social issues. Another group of people just didn't really care about social issues one way or another.

-Political baggage weighed more than non-political baggage

Both candidates had extreme amounts of baggage. Purely by not having ever held a position in government, all of Trump's baggage (checkered business history, sexual assault, racist and xenophobic language) existed outside of politics. Having spent nearly her entire adult life in politics, all of Clinton's baggage resided within it.

The private email server, relationships with banks (massive speaking fees and de-regulation), the Clinton Foundation's ties to oppressive regimes and it's funding of the Clintons' lifestyle were all issues I heard people complain about repeatedly. To people frustrated with corrupt politicians, Trump simply seemed like the lesser of two evils. They felt that Trump could possibly be good or possibly be terrible, but had their minds made up that Clinton was guaranteed to be terrible.

-Obamacare was bigger than health care; it represented government overreach

Many people (some who I know personally) have a fundamental opposition to being told what to do by their government. This is a core issue to them, as important as abortion is to others.

From people I spoke to and from listening to a woman who wrote a book about Wisconsin voters, being forced by the government to pay for something feels like violation of their rights as citizens. They are not opposed to receiving health care, they just don't want to be forced to pay for it.

Obamacare helped a lot of people, but it also raised millions of Americans' premiums while shrinking their network of available doctors, and this was a common complaint. As Obama's signature piece of legislation, it became something that was obvious for Trump to campaign against, and he won these voters largely because of it.

-Not all women felt represented by Hillary

Lots of women saw the difference between HRC and Whitney Houston - Hillary isn't every woman, she's one woman. (sorry I had to try to inject some humor, however lame)

Many female Trump supporters saw Hillary as representing her own interests, not as a symbol for gender progress in America (as many of her supporters did).

There was also some resentment of Hillary for portraying herself as a victim of gender inequality, since these voters saw her as a symbol of the establishment who had for years worked the system in her own favor, and hadn't had to suffer the unfair treatment that she claimed. Fair or not, this was a prominent perception.

-Immigration is a very complex issue

In recent years both Democrats and Republicans in Washington have taken similar, fairly laxed stances on illegal immigration. Deport some, naturalize some, let the rest remain off the books, and keep the status quo along the borders (this is a generalization for the sake of not writing forever).

In liberal circles in progressive cities, it is rare to find anyone with a point of view much different than this, except possibly to grant legal residence to all illegal immigrants. But across the country, and even within these cities, there are people with vastly divergent visions of what immigration policy should look like. Any combination of opinions abound on deportation, naturalization, borders, religious/background screening, etc.

The statistic of 0% net immigration over the last few years is a good talking point for the establishment point of view, and for people whose jobs are not competed for by low wage illegal immigrants. But many people have stories from their own lives which paint a different picture.

An African-American man from Coney Island, Brooklyn called into a show to say that none of the stores in neighboring Brighton Beach would hire Black youths from the neighborhood, preferring to only hire (and ostensibly underpay) illegal Mexicans. (though this could be viewed as a generalization for Latinos, the large emigration of Mexicans to south Brooklyn in recent years gives his description some credibility). Many immigrants who dealt with the painstakingly long, and often expensive, process of immigrating here legally expressed resentment towards those who come here and "cut in line."

I watched a documentary called "Lost on Long Island" about long-term unemployed people on Long Island. One man finally gets a job, but he's training workers from overseas here on temporary work visas who will ultimately replace him for lower wages. This storyline has been repeated ad nauseum.

Democrats assumed that Latinos would vote against Trump's anti-immigration stance, discounting the fact that not all Latinos are the same, they don't all agree on issues, and they don't all like each other. Especially worth noting is the distinction between Puerto Ricans (who are US citizens) and Cubans (whose path to legal US residence is relatively easy) and the rest of Spanish-speaking Latin Americans who don't share the same benefits.


Trump campaigned against loose borders, against these temporary work visas, and against globalization, which has ravaged many middle class jobs here. This may have spoken to xenophobic people, but it also spoke to people who felt personally affected by at least one of these issues.

He also campaigned for banning and/or screening Muslims attempting to enter this country, which played to many peoples' fears of ISIS both abroad and domestically. He did make a distinction between screening potential immigrants as opposed to people who are already citizens, which let some people consider it not an anti-Muslim but rather a security-oriented position.

-If your means to feed yourself and your family is at risk, no other issues matter

There are many places in the US, especially the "rust belt," where the economic opportunities have gone from bad to worse, to (for some) non-existent. It can be hard to conceive of this living in a city or suburban area; even if the economy is down, there are still a lot of stores, freelance work, restaurants, and businesses large and small that keep the majority of people working. The fact that its been referred to as the rust belt for nearly 2 decades is telling.

The actor trying to make it in LA or the musician trying to make it in NYC can find a job serving, bartending, temping, driving uber, etc., even if they hate it. In much of the US, there are no restaurants or bars. Many towns have some fast food, gas stations and maybe a grocery store. You'll be considered to live in a semi-big town if you have a Walmart. These aren't the cute little towns with the local diner and the town pharmacy where everybody knows each other, these are places where the outlook is bleak.

(Having grown up in the midwest and spent years traveling with music, I've personally spent significant time in rust belt states, especially Wisconsin and Michigan, which were considered reliably Democratic but went for Trump. I've seen this with my own eyes, and it is heartbreaking.)

It's not peoples' fault that they live there, nobody chooses where they're born. And much like the urban poor, many of whom have difficulty envisioning a life beyond their surroundings (despite living a stone’s throw away from thriving economic possibilities across town) these areas breed little in the way of hope or the possibility of escape. In this scenario, being able to earn a living takes precedence over any other issue.
 This section of America feels ignored by both parties. They hear people talking about global human rights, providing asylum to refugees, and naturalizing illegal immigrants, all while feeling that their own human rights have been violated. For these people, our fellow Americans, a vote for Trump was a vote against both parties, and the wealthy power brokers they feel have cast them aside as worthless. It was a vote of desperation, a vote to possibly recover a chance at basic economic stability.



SAM BARSH is a keyboardist and songwriter. He has written and produced songs for major label artists like Norah Jones, Robin McKelle and Aloe Blacc.

He has also performed with a diverse group of renowned artists, including: Avishai Cohen, Babyface, Bobby McFerrin, Branford Marsalis, Brenna Whitaker, Bruno Mars, Cassandra Wilson, Common, David Foster, Dontae Winslow, Emily King, Estelle, Fred Wesley, Gavin DeGraw, Gene Simmons, Gregory Porter, Je Parker (of Tortoise), John Robinson, Jojo, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Kiran Ahluwalia, Large Professor, Lonnie Plaxico, Mark Ballas, Maurice Brown, Maya Azucena, Mino Cinelu, Natasha Bedingeld, Quadron, Ravi Coltrane, Rez Abbasi, Robin Eubanks, Robin McKelle, Roy Hargrove, Stevie Wonder, The Brand New Heavies, The Mighty Blue Kings, The Spam All-Stars, Tom Jones, Wax, and Zach Brock.

Find out more HERE.

Sam Barsh has previously contributed an article to Musicians' Corner. Read it HERE.

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How it first began...

   How do people first connect with music? Discover how. This is what a few of the contributors to this site said on this topic.

   When you read it you might realize that two of the most important people in this perspective could very well be our parents... And it may just be some food for thought to those out there who are parents to young children now, when music might have taken a back seat to other things that go on in their homes.







TK Blue:
 - There were several factors that influenced my early attraction to the saxophone. I used to listen to James Brown as a teenager and I love Maceo Parker on alto sax. I used to pretend that I was playing those sax solos with “The Godfather of Soul”.





Kris Bowers:
 - My parents got me started in music. They aren’t musicians, but they put me in lessons when I was 4 or 5. They let me try other things as well besides music.







Lige Curry:
 - When you are a kid you are trying to figure it out. I had relatives who thought that I should get into sports and others who thought I should be a doctor. But my auntie, one of my mother’s sisters, got me a toy guitar and she was right. I started playing with it like I did with the rest of my toys, but the guitar was more interesting.





Joey DeFrancesco:
 - It definitely meant a lot that I grew up in a musical family – it’s why I play music! It is also why I play the organ. I got the love for it at home. If I hadn’t been around it I wouldn’t have known about it.





Jennifer Johns:
 - My parents say that I was singing before I could speak. As a child I sang with my dad, who was my first voice-coach.





Steven Kroon:
 - At a very early age I became paralized by the music on the radio. My older brother Bobby started playing before me, and I chose to follow in his footsteps. He was a great inspiration to me and my first mentor.
When our parents discovered that we wanted to play musical instruments, they went and bought us our first drums, and were happy to let us practice in the basement.
I often tell people that music chose me. I felt like lightening struck me the first time I heard music coming out of the radio. From then on it was love at first sight.





David Murray:
 - Music was always in front if me.  My mother was a pianist and the director of music in a church, where she played the organ and piano, and directed the choir. My father played the guitar. I started taking piano lessons at five years old, for a local piano teacher. I started playing saxophone at nine. My brother played the clarinet by then.





Bria Skonberg:
 - My family were supporters of music, and there were musical instruments around the house. My brother played the fiddle. I picked up the trumpet in 7th grade, and then I joined the school band.

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Musicians' Corner 3 years!







Musicians' Corner is celebrating three years!

A big thank you to all of our contributors and supporters is in order!

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Will Calhoun celebrates the legacy of Elvin Jones



Discover why Will Calhoun pays tribute to Elvin Jones


Elvin Jones means many things to me. He was my introduction to rhythmical individualism. I was very young when I first heard him, which was on a record with John Coltrane that was playing at my house. It was very striking, didn’t sound like anything else. It was highly forward-moving, and not the same language as the other giants.


Later I met him, and my meeting him included a drum clinic at SIR studios as well as talking to him backstage, from where I also watched him as he set up and tuned up – both intense experiences.


I went to his funeral. I became friends with his tour manager and wife, Keiko. I haven’t contacted her since we made the album, but back then she wanted me be on a tribute tour, and after Elvin passed over I sat in with his band.






I decided that I wanted to do a tribute album many years ago, but I wasn’t sure how. For a long time I thought about covering the On The Mountain-album in its entirety, which was the original idea. But as I did research I found so many great recordings. I have tons of recordings with him. Then Motéma Records approached me and wanted me to do the album with them. A Sonny Fortune-interview was also part of the process that lead to the making of this album.


I only wanted Elvin alumni on it. Carlos McKinney, Antoine Roney and Keyon Harrold are among my favorites. I didn’t expect that Christian McBride would be available, but he contacted me and requested to be on the album.  Jan Hammer is also a favorite. I was surprised that he said yes. There are also people who are with us in spirit on this record. There is 40 000 years of drum information on it through Doudou Ndiaye and his sons on their Senegalese sabar drums. This is where drums came from, and the modern contribution – that of the drum set – is American.


More tribute albums should absolutely be made. We live in the age of social media, and we live at twice the speed of sound not remembering a thing. Max Roach should be celebrated. They made such huge contributions. We need to remember the depth in the music, and the stories and lifestyles behind it.



Besides this project I currently have an exhibition. With Living Colour I have a mixtape out, which is a cover of Biggie’s  “Who Shot Ya?” protesting the gun violence. Our new album, Shade, will probably be released during the first quarter of next year, and we will be touring after that. I will also play a few select gigs with the Elvin Jones-project, such as a gig at Blue Note.



Find out more HERE.

Will Calhoun has previously contributed to Musicians' Corner. Read that article HERE.

Introducing Musicians' Corner's Artist Hangouts

Page in the listener-section at Musicians' Corner. If you are a listener check this and other posts in this section




Here at Musicians' Corner you read and hear artists in their own words -- in articles.

But from now on you will not have to 'make do' with that -- only.

You can also talk to the artists yourself!


Introducing Musicians' Corner's Artist Hangouts, where you meet artists in person -- in realtime.


Articles are great. Material on music, as told by musicians, is gathered here and growing, and will continue to develop into even more of the great resource that it is. And it is staying put here too. You can look it up anytime.

However, meeting is also great...


Our Artist Hangouts begin this fall and take place over the internet, so you can join us from your own home or from wherever you happen to be. No flight tickets needed, no hassle, just straight to the conversation.

You sign up for the Artist Hangout/s that you are interested in taking part in. During all our hangouts the number of participants will be small, so there is ample opportunity to talk to the artist who is holding the hangout.

You are taking part for your own reasons. Perhaps you are a music fan, who would like to be able to talk to successful artists? Perhaps you're a music student, who would like the chance to ask a few questions? Maybe you're a fan of a specific artist who will hold a hangout here at Musicians' Corner, and would like the chance to connect to ask about records, gear or tour plans? It may be that you are an artist yourself, starting out or moving country, or in any number of situations that you wouldn't mind getting some advice on? Whatever your reason is, let's hangout and chat!

As said the spaces at our Artist Hangouts are very limited. There will only be a handful seats at every hangout -- so make sure you don't miss them by not signing up asap when they are announced !


Shortly we will announce the first Artist Hangouts, so keep it here !



Miriam Kaul: - The main thing, no matter what, I will keep on playing music


Read Miriam Kaul's story


Growing up, in Connecticut for a short time, my father always played classical music on a transoceanic radio that he loved. He also played violin. Unfortunately, he left us under tragic circumstances. Then, financially, we were forced to move in with my Grandmother, in West Va. Not exactly the jazz Mecca of the world.


However, that was where I discovered jazz! I used to stay up very late listening to a radio station out of Rochester, New York. It was a jazz station, but I did not know at the time, what jazz was. One night I heard what to me was the most magnificent thing I had ever heard. It was John Coltrane, playing "Lonnie´s Lament". For me, I did not distinguish that from classical music, I simply knew it was beautiful, it was wonderful, and it was like nothing I had ever heard before. I knew I wanted to play saxophone! My Mom bought me a rather kaput used alto sax (I did not know at the time the difference between alto and tenor). I played around with it and began to pick up tunes I heard „by ear“. What I do remember was trying to play along with a Cannonball recording, and then I couldn´t figure out what to do in the bridge because it was more complicated.  A long time later, I learned why. Later, of course, I listened to everything, Cannonball, Gary Barz, Joe Zawinul, Tito Puente, Gato Barbieri, and many more.


Then, we went to Baltimore, Maryland, and that was the beginning of my real exposure to jazz. I also at that time, began taking some courses at Towson University, where Hank Levy, a brilliant arranger who wrote for Stan Kenton, was a teacher. (I also sudied for a Masters Diploma in American History) But, the real learning experience was when I discovered the little „hole in the wall“ jazz clubs in Baltimore.  They are not in the Tourist´s Hand Books.


I had heard a vibes player at one of the clubs. I was just starting out and had managed to book a few jobs, (I could talk and convince more than I could play at the time). although I wasn´t quite ready. I called the vibes player, Jimmy Wells, and said I have a job, would you play with me? He hesitated a bit and said yes. He asked who my rhythm section was, and I said I didn´t have one. He brought his own, and also brought with him his own steady sax player, Mickey Fields, and I heard greatness live for the first time. I was very, very naive. So, we played this job, and at the end, Jimmy said, „Miriam, you don´t know no chord changes“. I said what`s a chord change. So, that was the true beginning of my education. Later on, his girlfriend told me Jimmy had said yes to my job out of curiosity. He wanted to know who this little white girl was, who called him out of the blue, since after all, he was a top name in Baltimore`.  Jimmy hired me to do some jazz school programs with him and be the moderator. I agreed, on the condition I could play a couple of tunes. I said, I knew how to talk, I wanted to learn how to get better playing. So, he agreed. Mickey, the sax player was there, and always stood behind me and encouraged me, gave me little clues if I got lost. They became very dear friends to me. Years later when I was playing with a trio at the Hyatt Regency, Jimmy came up and said „you´re starting to sound like a real saxophone player“. That was a tremendous compliment.






I did not know at the time that I had the wonderful opportunity to meet the „old school“ of players. They didn´t read music, knew 1,000 tunes, learned from records, and simply played great. That is something one does not learn at a University. Of course I continued taking courses to develop my education, but I never stopped going to those little clubs in the black, and mostly dangerous neighborhoods. I can truly say that folks looked out for me. Once they realized I was serious about the music, they really did see that I got to the car unharmed, showed me some musical tricks, and more importantly, took me under their wings. I also heard Gary Barz at one of those clubs (he´s from Baltimore) and his sound and ideas changed everything for me regarding my musical direction.. He and Mickey Fields on the Bandstand together is sui generis, unique amongst the gods.


I heard Richie Cole live in Washington, D.C. And had never heard many alto players live. I applied for and received a National Endowment for the Arts, a travel/study grant with him. I learned from him to transpose spontaneously from concert key to alto key.  Also, many tunes I should learn.  He let me always play the last tune with him on the Bandstand for his concerts.


Meanwhile in Baltimore, I got more and more jobs, met more and more people. I met Gary Thomas at the Sportsman Lounge, and we ended up doing some jobs together before he left to play with Miles Davis, Jack Johnette, Greg Osby, etc. Also in Baltimore, I had the privilege of playing with Dennis Chambers. He was already on the road at that time, first playing with Parliament Funkadelic and going on to the Brecker Brothers, Carlos Santana, and everyone imaginable. He always stayed modest and a Baltimore person. When he was in town, if you asked him, he would come out and play, even for 40 dollars. That´s the kind of person he was. I remember playing with him in a Quintett on a little boat that cruised around the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, to entertain tourists. He paid me a great compliment. He said, „you´re gonna be fine, just keep on playing.“


I called him years later to play on a CD, which he did, and so I also got to record with both Dennis and also Lonnie Plaxico on bass. The rest of the musicians were the Baltimore gang, Tim Murphy, Tom Williams, also great musicians. Tom Williams played a brilliant solo with Jon Faddis on You Tube. Incidentally, Tom Williams, Tim Murphy and Geoff Harper also played on my CD. Plus my best friend, saxophonist Leigh Pilzer, who plays in the DIVA Big Band in New York.


Miriam Kaul in concert


I came to Europe and put together a jazz Christmas CD because I was homesick. It turned out to be fairly successful and I got many jobs from that. It is called „Christmas Time is Here“.


I first landed in Köln upon coming to Europe. I came because I wanted to have that adventure and that experience. I had come twice to Frankfurt am Main, to play with an American Band, and used the opportunity to go out and meet German musicians. When I decided to come to Köln to see what Europe was all about, I started meeting folks and I did many tours out of Köln and got to see things I would have never normally had the chance to see and experience; Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, Hungary and many more. I played with Joy Fleming, Bill Ramsey, Helen Schneider, Peter Fessler, King Size Dick, and many others. I played with the RIAS Big Band in the saxophone section when they needed an ersatz person, if some sax player called in sick, or didn´t want to make a tour. 


While in Berlin, I got a call to record with a German arranger, Peter Herborn. The recording was going to be live in New York. I said yes, and it ended up being like „old home week“. Gary Thomas played tenor, Greg Osby played lead alto, I played second alto, and two other N:Y sax players were in the section. Robin Eubanks and Dan Gottshall were in the trombone section. Unfortunately, I have forgotten the other names.  Gene Jackson played drums, Uri Caine played piano. It was an amazing experience with cream of the crop musicians. The CD is called "Large One".

I did another CD in Berlin with Pete "Wyoming" Bender, called "Around the Korner", with a super blues singer, Peter Thorup.  We had a great horn section.  I still like that recording a lot.  I also got to play on some recordings done by the RIAS Big Band.

In most situations, I tend to play in a Quintett format because that´s how I started out, and although I enjoy playing in Big Bands, a Quintett gives more room to take longer solos. There is more freedom. 



There are differences playing here in Europe to playing in the States. In the States, there are rarely rehearsals. If one is playing in a horn section with a famous R & B group, such as The Funk Brothers, The Temptation, The Supremes, the band leader simply goes through the music, points out some tricky parts and sings them. You don´t even take your horn out and it never lasts more than 45 minutes for the „rehearsal“. Here rehearsals can take two, three, four hours to put together a project. The competition is simply greater and more intense in the States. One only gets one chance. If you mess up, you won´t get called again. As for the jazz jobs in the States, there was rarely a rehearsal. You called the musicians and gave them a list of tunes you wanted to play. They learned them from a record or a CD and the first time we played them together was on the job.


But here there is more of an opportunity to play experimental types of music. The only place you hear that kind of music in the States is New York City, I think. Here one can try out new ideas much easier and have a public accept them. Jobs in the States are more commercially oriented, if they pay well.

But, the jazz clubs in the States rarely pay well. And, it is too far to go to different States very easily. Because Europe is small, there is the opportunity to do concerts playing really hard, serious jazz and getting paid for it. It is easy to go from one country to another.






Trying to think about my plans for 2016, puts me in a real quandry. I just finally finished my own CD, after having played on so many CDs of other musicians. It was a tremendous relief to finish it, because I have always had a difficult time of letting something be finished. I always think I should go back and change this little thing or that. It is hard to let go. My CD is called „The Tower Of Babble“. In the EPK is a little bio, and some information on the inspiration for the CD. I received a Stipendium from Zueruckgeben, an organisation that supports creative endeavors of Jewish Women and that helped support the making of this CD, as well as a Senat´s Grant.

I want to spend some time in 2016 developing venues for the music from the CD. I might want to go do some concerts in the States. I think about maybe writing more tunes. I am interested in experimenting and changing my playing style. 

Basically, I am just trying to figure it out and try to approach each task one at a time so I don´t get overwhelmed, and to stay open for what ever opportunities may come.. But, the main thing is, no matter what,  I will keep on playing music!

Miriam Kaul


Miriam Kaul's album "Tower of Babble" (2015) on Spotify




Miriam Kaul is an American saxophonist based in Berlin. She has recently released her record "The Tower Of Babble". Find out more here: www.mkaul.com

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Ruth Saxelby received the Music Journalist of the Year-award

Article in the section Articles about the Music Journalist of the Year award



The Music Journalist of the Year 2015 is Ruth Saxelby.

Earlier in the year Musicians' Corners' artist-jury elected Saxelby, currently at The Fader, as the recipient based on your nominations.

And yesterday Ruth Saxelby received her much deserved award in New York.

Singer Emma Larsson presented the award.

The artist jury's motivation for awarding Saxelby's journalistic work is:


Ruth Saxelby is our choice. We have done many interviews, and questions can occasionally feel contrived. Saxelby's approach to questioning artists keeps the interest of the reader, while moving the subject matter in a cohesive manner.  As performance artists ourselves, we appreciate her insight and attention to the topic. It was refreshing to read about subjects we don't often read about, such as the inspiration of a film composer. Saxelby is a talented writer, and we hope that she will have many years of unique and insightful journalism.


The artist-jury for the award this year are Kent Beatty, Will Calhoun and Mfa Kera.


This was Musicians' Corner's second annual Music Journalist of the Year-award. In 2015 it first went to Derek Walmsley.

The importance of quality music journalism can't be overestimated, and we very much want to acknowledge it here at Musicians' Corner. We look forward to following Ruth Saxelby's work in the coming years.



Ruth Saxelby: http://www.thefader.com/contributor_hub/ruth-saxelby

Emma Larsson: http://www.emmalarsson.com/

Kent Beatty: http://www.kentbeatty.com/

Will Calhoun: http://www.willcalhoun.com/

Mfa Kera: http://www.blackheritage.de/

The Music Journalist of the Year-award for 2014: http://www.musicians-corner.net/Derek-Walmsley-received-The-Music-Journalist-of-the-Year-award/

The Music Journalist of the Year-award: http://www.musicians-corner.net/category/presentation/

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The top 15 most liked articles on Musicians' Corner - to date !

Find out which articles were the most popular to date



  
Here at Musicians' Corner we normally keep the "Like"-buttons static. But they are getting a lot of clicks, and today it is time to lift the veil on the 15 articles that got the most clicks to date! David Murray remembering Butch Morris made the list. Check out which other articles did! And we really want to thank our readers for your many visits and your awesome music-love!




15. MONICA BORRFORS











14. PAUL JOSEPH











13. ZAM JOHNSON











12. MOTOSHI KOSAKO









11. KENNETH MEREDITH










10. YUVAL AVITAL









9. BRIA SKONBERG










8. DAVID MURRAY REMEMBERS BUTCH MORRIS










7. BEN CAPLAN








6. BOB HEMENGER










5. TITO PUENTE JR









4. CHRIS SIMMONS










3. BRYAN BELLER









2. LIGE CURRY









1. SARAH LONGFIELD










The story continues...!

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Saxophonist Marcus Miller: I’m extraordinarily curious, that is what drives me

Discover what's on Marcus Miller's mind


I liked math as a little kid but was discouraged by my math teacher in the 6th grade, which was when I really got into music. I was really good at school so my mentors urged me to academic college instead of a music conservatory. I decided on Harvard. Looking through the course catalogue I was drawn to math because words like “Riemannian Manifold” or “Noetherian Rings” sounded exciting to me, and I asked myself “when would I have the chance to learn it again?” I fell in love with math at Harvard.


I don’t think in mathematical terms when I think about music. There are artists who are into that sort of thing. For me my background in math has taught me how to solve problems. It has put me in a mindset for discovering new things. It makes me feel right when things are a match.
People are looking for the deeper connections, thinking of queries such as “Does listening to Mozart make you smarter? And if so for how long does it last?” The research is undecided, but Every culture has had music, so it has to be important at least anthropologically. You can look at music from a scientific standpoint because music is basically physics, it’s vibration. But if you think that vibration makes it spiritual or mystical then everything can be seen as spiritual or mystical. People like to see it in music and in math. They don’t consider it in technology like an iPhone, but it’s the same thing.



In the American school system you got to try different instruments in 4th grade. My father played the saxophone, had one, and taught me a little bit. I played as a kid and had my first professional gig at 13 thanks to excellent training by my music teacher Bruce Williams. I took a break from it during college. And after college I didn’t want to go to grad school immediately. Then things happened. One day during my senior year a friend of mine called me out of the blue. It was a Friday and he told me that I had a gig on the following Monday in New York. I told him that I couldn’t do it, but he said I had to, so I took the bus down to New York from Harvard, and after the gig I took the bus back again at 6am for morning math class. I did this all through my second semester senior year. When I graduated I went to work at a hedge fund but I realized quickly that I didn’t want to work in finance after I started. I was really a musician and creative. That was when I moved back to New York.







I want to understand what people are listening to and for. The sax has tradition in jazz and soul, but not so much in music that my friends were listening to. I wanted to learn about how to make modern popular music, electronic music, and hip hop too. When got to New York, I learnt to engineer and produce, and I learnt from one of the best, “Bassy” Bob Brockman. That enabled me to make my own music and experiment with software, different sounds and broaden my imagination. I did all the production, engineering, writing, and performance on my own album, Love in Absentia.
New York is great. I’m working, getting cool gigs and good tours. This summer I’m doing a European tour with a New Orleans-band, New Orleans Swamp Donkeys. I played in a lot of genres, I played with big bands, I love electronic music. I’m extraordinarily curious, and that is what drives me. After the tour I will be back in New York, and I plan on moving forward with my band. I will also do work with Av8ted, a creative collective that I collaborate with.

 

Marcus Miller "After All"



Marcus Miller [Marcus the Artyst] is a saxophonist and recording artist, based in New York.

Find out more HERE

And HERE

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Kenneth Meredith - The Love Man



Kenneth Meredith with King Selassie Burke and Solomon Burke.


   I grew up in Compton California where I was always looking for a way to better my life.  I started playing the trumpet in junior high school.  My motivation to play trumpet came from my brother James Meredith who played the trombone with the Little Richard Band.  I loved sports but playing music soon became the love of my life.  Though I thought it was nerdy to play an instrument at the time, I found out later that many other athletes enjoyed playing music as well.


   Troy Robinson, who was a big influence in my Life, introduced me to people like Red Foxx, Donald Byrd and Richard Pryor.  Those were great moments in my life.  He also introduced me to different styles of jazz.  Troy truly opened a lot of doors for me and I will forever be appreciative of his kindness toward me.  He was also instrumental in me being recruited by the New England Conservatory in Boston MA.


   In 1974 I had the opportunity to play at the Southwestern Jazz Festival in San Diego California.  It was there that I got a great break in my musical career.   I was approached by Dr. Eddie Meadows and he invited me to join the jazz onsombo at San Diego State University.


Kenneth Meredith performing with Solomon Burke on Late Night


 

   I met Solomon Burke in 1987 and played with him throughout the years.  The one thing I really enjoyed was the way he always had us well-rehearsed, yet during the concerts he would play according to the mood of the crowd, Solomon always knew what the crowd wanted to hear.


   Solomon liked to pass out roses at every show, and once while in Chicago the orchestra pit was shut down and the ladies had no way of getting to Solomon.  Chicago Sun Times stated that Solomon Burk was trailed by a horn player, who was the only band member dressed in a tight bright red suite and a red hat.   At that time they didn’t know who the man in the suit was, but because of his participation in the show and passing out roses they nicked named him the love man.  That name stayed with me through the rest of my time with Solomon.


   Solomon performed most of the show seated on a huge red thorn and gave out red roses like the Rev. Al Greene.  The love man would come down and assist Solomon during the time the roses were being given to the ladies in the crowd; it was a great time during the show.





Kenneth Meredith on stage with Solomon Burke


   Michael Jackson and Prince, who sadly passed away at a young age, were in my opinion among the greatest entertainers of all times.  My favor horn players are Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Nat Adderley, Clifford Brown and Miles Davis to name a few.


   Presently I play with different local groups and have the opportunity to impart a wealth of experience that I gained as a professional while on the road with Solomon Burke.  I will forever cherish the friendship that we had.  The band members and I are still in contact with one another and sometimes talk about a tribute to Solomon but only with the blessing of his family.


   Solomon Burke had a big heart and touched a lot of people and it's mind-blowing to me that I had the chance to play with such a legend as Solomon Burke.  The gift he gave to me was simply being around him and enjoying life to the fullest, he truly treated me like a son.  So I take this opportunity to solute a great man, a dear friend and one of the greatest entertainers of all times, Mr. Solomon Burk.


Ken Meredith,
 Aka “The Love Man”


Solomon Burke with Kenneth Meredith at Pinkpop 2003





The Music Journalist of the Year 2015 is Ruth Saxelby!

Article in the section Articles about the Music Journalist of the Year award



   We are proud to announce that the recipient of The Music Journalist of the Year-award for 2015 is Ruth Saxelby.

   Ruth Saxelby is managing editor at The Fader, and has also contributed her journalistic skills at Pitchfork, The Guardian, Dummy, and Dazed & Confused.

   Among the excellent articles that Saxelby produced during the previous year you find examples such as these:


Techno Pioneer Derrick May Is Ready For Detroit To Get Its On-Screen Dues

In Conversation With The All-Knowing Ryuichi Sakamoto


   Musicians Corners' artist jury's motivation for awarding Ruth Saxelby with the title Music Journalist of the Year:


Ruth Saxelby is our choice. We have done many interviews, and questions can occasionally feel contrived. Saxelby's approach to questioning artists keeps the interest of the reader, while moving the subject matter in a cohesive manner.  As performance artists ourselves, we appreciate her insight and attention to the topic. It was refreshing to read about subjects we don't often read about, such as the inspiration of a film composer. Saxelby is a talented writer, and we hope that she will have many years of unique and insightful journalism.


   The artist jury for this year's award were Kent Beatty, Will Calhoun and Mfa Kera.

   The annual Music Journalist of the Year-award was first presented in 2015.

  



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Emma Larsson: - I feel like I'm always working






New York has been in my dreams as long as I can remember, but it was after coming here for a visit 8 years ago I knew it was time to turn the dream into a goal, and so I started to plan my big move. I was teaching at a Universtity in Finland.


During my first year in the city I was lucky to get a steady gig at Lime Leaf and I have been there with my trio every Thursday for almost 5 years now. It’s so great to have a place to try out new material. And I’ve met so many good musicians and friends through doing that gig.


I released my third album ‘Sing to the Sky’ last October. It’s my first release in the US. It took a while to get the music together. Coming to New York was overwhelming in many ways, but especially it made me really think about jazz and its origin in a new way. I guess I was a little intimidated being surrounded by all these great American musicians, at the same time considering the cultural aspect of jazz more than treating it as an academic field, which I feel is happening a lot these days.






So I took a step back and thought a lot about these things, talked to people, read books etc. And little by little the music came together and I had a feeling that it was already written and I was just discovering it. Kinda like that Michelangelo quote “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”


I played classical piano growing up, but fell in love with the sound of saxophone. So eventually I got into jazz. I listened to everything from Spyro Gyra to Charlie Parker. My heart has always been close to music with a groove, that makes you feel good. I always had a longing for singing though. Looking back, I can see how everything I’ve done musically growing up, student big bands, wind orchestras, classical music, singing etc comes together in my composing and singing.


Emma Larsson "Irie Butterfly"


On a typical day I get up and have some coffee before I practice, answer emails and go to the gym. Usually I give lessons to students in the afternoons, and I devote my evenings to being creative at home, or if I don’t have a gig myself, checking out some music in the city. Being an independant artist sometimes I feel like I’m always working.


During the rest of the year I’ll be doing what I am already doing and I’m also planning to take my music outside of the US and play more in Europe and Japan. I’m also starting to write music and lyrics for my next album.




There was recently (March 23 2016) a nice review about Emma Larsson in JazzTimes: "... Beneath that elegant surface is a tiger ready to spring, a jazz-savvy adventuress worthy of Abbey Lincoln or Betty Carter. "



Emma Larsson is a Swedish singer based in New York. She released two albums while based in Scandinavia: Irie Butterflies (2006) and Let It Go (2010), where she also studied music at the Sibelius Academy in Finland. Her third album, a US release, is titled Sing To The Sky.

Find out more HERE.

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