This fall, trumpeter and composer Josef Leimberg will launch his debut full-length Astral Progressions. Hitting vinyl prints and digital formats with the Alpha Pup Records jazz imprint World Galaxy, Astral Progressions is a powerful record in the canon of 21st century music. It also continues the momentum Leimberg achieved on the Kendrick Lamar Grammy Award winning album To Pimp A Butterfly. A hybrid state of jazz fusion, world music, R&B and golden era hip hop instrumentalism. Josef Leimberg has created a rich tapestry of sound that fits right in with the resurgence of progressive music in the 2010’s, launching out on his own terms after an impressive career of guest work.
When South Africa was still suffering under the apartheid system in the 1980s, Johnny Clegg & Savuka was the last thing apartheid supporters wanted in a pop group. Their lyrics were often vehemently anti-apartheid, and apartheid supporters hated the fact that a half-black, half-white outfit out of South Africa was integrated and proud of it. Released in the U.S. at the end of the 1980s, Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World is among the many rewarding albums the band has recorded. Sting and the Police are a definite influence on Clegg & Savuka, who have absorbed everything from various African pop styles to Western pop, funk, rock, and reggae. The lyrics are consistently substantial and frequently sociopolitical – "Bombs Away" addresses the violence of the apartheid regime, while "Warsaw 1943" reflects on the horrors Eastern Europe experienced at the hands of both communists and fascists during World War II. Clegg and company enjoyed a passionate following at the time, and this fine CD proves that it was well deserved.
Now that the whole Return to Forever reunion experience is in his rearview mirror (and unlikely to be repeated ever again), guitar star Al Di Meola is pursuing his own musical vision with newfound conviction via his World Sinfonia. Essentially an acoustic ensemble featuring Fausto Beccalossi on accordion and Di Meola’s longtime collaborator Gumbi Ortiz on cajon and assorted hand percussion, along with second guitarist Peo Alfonsi, bassist Victor Miranda and drummer Peter Kaszas, this edition of the World Sinfonia has developed a tightly knit chemistry through frequent touring. This limited-edition release, the first in a series of live recordings being sold initially at World Sinfonia gigs, documents their easy rapport in concerts held in Seattle, San Francisco and Istanbul.
The Arab Orchestra of Barcelona was born in the late twentieth century in Barcelona and up musicians from different backgrounds, such Chefchaoen, Tangiers or Thessaloniki. Its founding members are Mohamed Soulimane (director and violin) and Mohamed Ayoub Bout (voice).
This collection on the U.K.'s Soul Brother imprint is a very compelling look at a big slice of Freddie Hubbard's long career as a leader, and one that gets ignored for the most part. Hubbard recorded over 20 records between Backlash, his Atlantic debut in 1966, and Ride Like the Wind for Elektra in 1982, with lengthy stops at Columbia and CTI (as well some straight hard bop and post-bop outings for labels Fantasy and Pablo). In many cases, some of these original recordings were not only disregarded by more traditional jazzheads, they were regarded with outright hostility. It didn't matter to Hubbard, however, because at the time, these were among his best-selling albums and connected with the public deeply.
Chick Corea's Elektric Band II found bassist John Patitucci, drummer Dave Weckl and guitarist Frank Gambale going out on their own and being replaced by Jimmy Earl, Gary Novak and Mike Miller. Saxophonist Eric Marienthal was the only sideman from the first Elektric Band to stick with Corea. Although the new members are not as distinctive as their predecessors, the high-quality material played on this release (which includes Jimmy Heath's "CTA," "Blue Miles" and a variety of Corea originals) is very jazz-oriented and occasionally there are straightahead sections. This set is recommended even to listeners who have not yet acquired a taste for fusion.