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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Coming from Telarc

The 2008 release schedule from Telarc/Heads Up Records offers some very interesting discs (notably no Monty Alexander album in '08). Check it:

Telarc/Heads Up 2008 release schedule



HUCD 3133 (053361313326) / HUSA 9133 (053361913366)
Shaka Zulu was an early 19th century African warrior who united his own Zulu tribe and various neighboring groups into a single powerful force. Today, he is considered one of the greatest leaders in African history, with a combination of warrior discipline, visionary leadership, innate creativity, and unshakable belief in a united nation. He is revered as the single figure who gave birth to the indomitable fighting spirit of the Zulus – the same spirit that enabled South Africans to persevere amid the European domination of their homeland for nearly two centuries of apartheid. Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the GRAMMY® Award winning vocal group from South Africa that has conquered nations in its own way with a joyous and spiritually charged brand of vocal music and native choreography, pays tribute to this historical icon with their new Heads Up International release, Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu. Released in both CD and SACD formats, Ilembe (which translates to “the greatest warrior”) celebrates not only Shaka Zulu but the sense of perseverance, creativity and pride that he has inspired in generations of descendants. Either directly or indirectly, each of the tracks speaks to Shaka’s rare combination of attributes and how they resonate in contemporary society – not just for South Africans, but for the entire world. (Mike Wilpizeski)



CD 83658 (089408365829)
For several years, L.A.-born songwriter/vocalist/musician Raya Yarbrough has been captivating West Coast audiences with a mesmerizing blend of jazz, pop, rhythm and blues, Latin and much more. On the strength of compelling live performances that reveal shades of Joni Mitchell, Duke Ellington, and a variety of other diverse influences, she has captured the attention of critics as an up-and-coming star. The Los Angeles Times called her voice “a pliable, versatile instrument, an effective vehicle for a musical expression that ranges freely from pop-style ballad to surprisingly effective scat singing.” Yarbrough makes her self-titled debut on Telarc, an album that embraces the broad sweep of her musical influences and the insightful songcraft that has become her trademark. Produced by guitarist-composer Steve Bartek (formerly of Oingo Boingo), the album represents a personal triumph for Yarbrough, whose initial attempt at a debut recording a few years ago was thwarted when her earlier label went bankrupt and her work in progress remained unfinished and unreleased. (Amanda Sweet)

CD 83667 (089408366727)
The banjo is an instrument whose historical roots dig much deeper than its commonly held associations with American folk and bluegrass traditions. The instrument ultimately originated in Africa, and made its way to America with the African slaves who were brought to the fledgling colonies as early as the 1700s. Otis Taylor, who shatters the illusions of the status quo time and again via his uniquely haunting songcraft and compelling musicianship, sheds new light on this centuries-old instrument with his new Telarc recording, Recapturing the Banjo. The album includes riveting performances by Taylor along with some of the most accomplished African-American banjo players on the current roots music scene: Guy Davis, Corey Harris, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Keb’ Mo’ and Don Vappie. “Freed from racial stereotypes and ignorance, the banjo offers opportunities for black musicians to recapture their heritage,” says musician and music historian Dick Weissman in the album’s liner notes. “This recording is a step in that direction, from a group of artists who have already made their mark as black blues revivalists.” (Amanda Sweet)

HUCD 3134 (053361313425) All Americas and Asia except Japan
ROOTS AND GROOVES / MACEO PARKER (Specially priced 2 CD set)
Acclaimed soul/funk saxophonist and former James Brown session man and stage foil Maceo Parker steps into the spotlight for his 2-disc Heads Up debut, Roots & Grooves, an album that features a rock-solid rhythm section and no less than fourteen horn players behind and alongside this brilliant and innovative sax legend. Disc 1 is a tribute to Ray Charles, with well-known classics like “Hallelujah, I Love Her So,” “Busted,” “Hit the Road Jack,” “Georgia on My Mind” and “What’d I Say?” Disc 2 consists almost entirely of original Parker material, loaded with the same punchy, high energy stuff that cemented his and Brown’s collective reputation as the co-architects of the original soul sound more than four decades ago. (Mike Wilpizeski)

CCD 30614 US Release
HUCD 3138 (053361313821) International Release
For more than two decades, vocalist Dianne Schuur has blended jazz with shades of pop, soul, R&B and various other styles that make up a unique signature sound. Friends For Schuur, her 2000 debut on Concord, garnered critical acclaim due in large part to Schuur’s confidence and poise in vocal duets with bigger-than-life figures like Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. Subsequent Concord releases, Swingin’ For Schuur (2001) and Midnight (2003), were both met with equally high praise. Some Other Time is another multifaceted yet cohesive set from this captivating vocalist. (Mike Wilpizeski)



HUCD 3137 (053361313722)
Led by vibraphonist Dave Samuels, the Caribbean Jazz Project has been crafting brilliant Afro-Caribbean sounds since the mid -1990s. More than a decade after recording their earliest albums on Heads Up International, Samuels and company return to the label and unite with the Maryland-based Afro-Bop Alliance Big Band, the seven-piece Latin jazz collective that has garnered high praise from critics since EncarnaciĆ³n, their 2004 debut recording. Produced by Samuels with arrangements by Afro Bop Alliance trombonist Dan Drew, The Caribbean Jazz Project Afro-Bop Alliance showcases material from CJP’s seven previous recordings spanning 15-years, yet recasts each tune via innovative and full-bodied arrangements. Catch this musical match made in heaven and hear the Caribbean Jazz Project like you’ve never heard them before. (Mike Wilpizeski)

CD 83675 (089408367526)
Dirty Linen has called guitarist-songwriter Eric Bibb “a strong guitar player, confident performer, and gifted songwriter who is blessed with an expressive voice.” Following up on the success of Diamond Days, his highly acclaimed 2007 release on Telarc, Get Onboard is the latest excursion in Bibb’s ongoing quest to uncover the unique nuggets of profound wisdom and enlightenment hidden just below the surface of the everyday human experience. (Amanda Sweet)

HUCD 3130 (053361313029)
Contemporary jazz bassist Gerald Veasley sees music as a pursuit that involves a combination of strategy, quick thinking and even a bit of blind faith, not unlike the game of chess. “There’s a multiplicity of decision making in the game of chess, and there are consequences to every action,” says Veasley. “In a lot of ways, making music is like that too. There are so many choices, especially in jazz, where the situation is never the same twice. That’s always exciting to me. You’re creating new scenarios at every turn…That’s what drew me to this kind of music in the first place – the idea that it was always fresh, there was always an opportunity and a new challenge.” That same combination of challenges and opportunities is at the heart of Veasley’s Your Move, the latest – and perhaps most innovative and audacious – maneuver in the game that he’s been playing since his early days in his native Philadelphia. But any good game involves more than one player, and Veasley has a couple collaborators on hand that make Your Move an intriguing gambit. Guitarist Chuck Loeb steps in as a formidable session player/producer and author or co-author of several tracks. Saxophonist and longtime Veasley band member Chris Farr also shares a few song credits. (Mike Wilpizeski)



CD 83681 (089408368127)
Founding member of Galactic and a mainstay of the rich New Orleans music scene, Stanton Moore follows up on his 2006 Telarc debut (III) with another eclectic set that showcases his versatility and virtuosity as a drummer and percussionist. (Amanda Sweet)

CD 83674 (089408367427) / DVD 73674 (089408367496)
Guitarist Tab Benoit’s 2007 Telarc release, Power of the Pontchartrain – along with the acclaimed IMAX film, Hurricane on the Bayou, a documentary of life in post-Katrina Louisiana – have cemented the Louisiana native’s reputation as a tireless environmental activist as well as a seasoned blues musician. Blues Revue called Pontchartrain “a three-alarm blaze,” while Billboard hailed it as “…the best album of his career…” Armed with rock-solid guitar chops and a voice like bayou lightning, the self-described “new kid from the old school” follows Pontchartrain with another satisfying set that merges the best elements of his musical roots, electric blues, cajun, vintage R&B and soul. (Mike Wilpizeski)

HUCD 3135 (053361313524)
Electric bass virtuoso Victor Wooten is a GRAMMY nominee and the only three-time winner of Bass Player magazine’s Bass Player of the Year award. The legendary solo artist and longtime Bela Fleck collaborator makes his Heads Up debut with this mesmerizing 12-song set – a recording that boasts a long list of special guests including Richard Bona, Mike Stern, Alvin Lee and Keb’ Mo’. (Mike Wilpizeski)



HUCD 3139 (053361313920)
The Yellowjackets, two-time GRAMMY winners and cutting-edge purveyors of innovative and eclectic jazz for more than 25 years, and Mike Stern, the four-time GRAMMY nominee who has established himself as the premier jazz and jazz-fusion guitarist of his generation, are headed for the studio in January 2008 for a joint project that could potentially redefine the parameters of 21st century jazz. The studio project was inspired by Yellowjackets’ appearance as guest musicians during Stern’s performance at the Montreal Jazz Festival in the summer of 2007, and will showcase all five musicians’ individual and collective virtuosity as instrumentalists and songwriters. Stern and the Yellowjackets are both still riding on the wave of critical and commercial success generated by their most recent Heads Up releases. JazzTimes said Stern’s Who Let the Cats Out is “his most eclectic effort yet—and just may be his best as well.” In response to the Jackets’ 25 – an aptly titled celebration of their 25th anniversary as a recording and touring unit – DownBeat called the quartet “one of the few bands from the early ‘80s to retain its punch today.”

HUCD 3141 (053361314125)
AllMusic calls him “one of the most prominent figures in the late 20th century blues,” but singer and multi-instrumentalist Taj Mahal is still very much a force to be reckoned with as the 21st century gets under way. He makes his Heads Up International debut with Taj Around the World, a celebration of four decades of rich and vibrant music that reaches far beyond the blues to embrace folk, reggae, rhythm and blues, soul, gospel, world and beyond. The guest list for this anniversary bash includes Los Lobos, Angelique Kidjo, Ben Harper, Jack Johnson and many more.

CD 83673 (089408367328)
In 2004, Telarc released Gathering of Spirits, a collaboration by the aptly named Sax Summit – a trio of the finest living saxophone talents in the jazz universe: Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano. While the passing of Brecker in 2007 makes that initial recording a singular moment that can never be completely recreated, Seraphic Light - Sax Summit II offers that same spirit of exploration and adventure that has always been a hallmark of great jazz. Liebman and Lovano return, while Ravi Coltrane (son of titan John Coltrane) does a notable job of filling the empty space left by Brecker. The threesome are backed by the same rhythm section as found on Gathering of Spirits – pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Billy Hart. Trumpeter Randy Brecker steps in on two tunes, and also contributes the poignant original, “Message To Mike,” penned for his late brother. (Amanda Sweet)

CD 83686 (089408368622)
After three highly acclaimed solo releases on Telarc – Another Mind (2003), Brain (2004), Spiral (2006) – Hiromi upped the ante by assembling a new band, Sonicbloom, for her fourth Telarc recording, Time Control, released in 2007. Guitarist Dave Fiuczynski, bassist Tony Grey and drummer Martin Valihora helped make Time Control one of the best recordings to date from the “ferociously talented” Hiromi (Los Angeles Times). This same lineup is back on Hiromi’s fifth CD, which promises to be an edgy and progressive mix of piano- and guitar-driven jazz laced with unmistakable shades of pop, rock and even avant garde – the trademark hybrid of this brilliant artist whose star continues to rise over the jazz landscape. (Mike Wilpizeski)

HUCD 3140 (053361314026)
This 23-year-old upright jazz bassist is not only an accomplished jazz artist but also a fluent vocalist in three languages – English, Spanish and Portuguese. She makes her Heads Up International debut with a recording that showcases a brilliant mastery of her instrument and a voice brimming with emotion and subtle confidence.



CD 83680 (089408368028)
Who better to record an album of delta blues classics than one of the music’s most influential figures? Mississippi-born pianist/vocalist Joe Willie “Pinetop” Perkins is joined by a small army of blues luminaries – Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Jimmie Vaughan, Willie Kent and many others – in a recording that includes reverent and rollicking covers of some of the most memorable tunes in the blues tradition. The set includes “Got My Mojo Working,” “Hoochie Coochie Man,” “Look On Yonders Wall,” “Sweet Home Chicago” and more. The releases just two weeks before Perkins’ 95th birthday.

HUCD 3142 (053361314224)
With its roots in gospel, doo-wop, and the sophisticated jazz-influenced singing groups of mid-century America like the Hi-Los, the a cappella vocal group Take 6 – assembled in Alabama in the 1980s – is on one hand the direct descendent of an earlier brand of American vocal music and at the same time a precursor for a number of black male pop groups of the 1990s. the group makes its debut on Heads Up with a recording whose guest list includes Aaron Neville, Brian McKnight and many others.

HUCD 3143 (053361314323)
Although rooted in the jazz of the 1960s, pianist/keyboardist George Duke made numerous subsequent forays into pop, R&B and most notably funk. This diverse odyssey has made for a complex and richly layered sound in everything Duke sets his hand to. Funk is the keyword on his Heads Up International debut, as he explores the sound and sensibility whose ascendance he witnessed first hand in the ‘70s. Three decades later, he proves that the funk groove is still very much alive in the 21st century.

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