James Newton // The Manual of Light
"This recording is contemporary classical music written by a composer whose lineage is of the rare group of classical and jazz composers who have influenced each other - Igor Stravinsky, Maurice Ravel, James P. Johnson, Duke Ellington, Mary Lou Williams, and György Ligeti. This very personal collection of chamber and solo compositions masterfully reflects a new integration of diverse musical languages in a modern setting. The two very different arrangements of Amazing Grace for string orchestra dedicated to President Barak Obama and the Emmanuel AME nine who lost their lives in Charleston, SC, breathtakingly capture the moment of our times while presenting a traditional sacred song that quintessentially reflects an American reality in a contemporary context." –James Newton
David Dominique // Mask
“In sum, Mask covers a broad swathe of musical and emotional territory that goes beyond your run of the mill classically-influenced jazz/rock. And clocking in at just under 38 minutes, Dominique says what he has to say, then takes a bow. The result? A singular and compelling release. Bravo.” –Mike Borella, Avant Music News
Steuart Liebig Men-Tot Six // Last Call
The idea for this project started back in 2008. I would take two related bands that I’d been writing for—The Mentones (Tony Atherton, Bill Barrett, Joe Berardi, me) and the Tee-Tot Quartet (Dan Clucas, Scot Ray, Joe Berardi, me)—and combine them. I started to write the music, I started the artwork, I had the album title—but life and the world intervened. Then in 2017, I had the opportunity to play a fairly high-profile gig and I asked to do this, my deferred dream band. The presenter put faith in me (thank you, Lisa Mezzacappa!) and Men-Tot Six was back.
Twin Whales // Watt Doom
On their debut album Watt Doom, the instrumental group Twin Whales synthesizes disparate landscapes, divergent sonic backgrounds, and a shifting musical direction. Think improvisation, think modularity, think inspiration. Formed in 2015, the group has found a voice in music that they refer to as “pure survival mode” – frenetic and complex stuff that allows for unpredictable stylistic shifts and moments of quiet beauty.
Daniel Corral // Polytope
Polytope is an aural vortex of electronic minimalism and alternate tuning that recalls classic experimental electronic albums like Terry Riley’s Shri Camel, Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II, Laurie Spiegel’s The Expanding Universe, or Eliane Radigue’s Trilogie de la Mort. Sequenza 21 praised Polytope as “an extraordinary piece of musical and visual art… that is both accessible and compelling,” SF Gate hailed it as “a mesmerizing visual and musical spectacle,” and The Stranger described it as “gamelan from Pluto—or maybe ’70s Philip Glass as interpreted by Harry Partch on his Cloud-Chamber Bowls.”
Walt Weiskopf // European Quartet
Recorded at the conclusion of a two-week tour of Denmark, Norway, and Germany in January of 2016; U.S. tenor giant Walt Weiskopf has teamed up with three of Europe's finest and most sought-after jazz musicians; pianist Carl Winther, bassist Daniel Franck and drummer Anders Mogensen. The result of this collaboration is great energetic music. Each member of the quartet contributed original compositions to the set; rounded out with Mal Waldron's beautiful "Soul Eyes" and the modern jazz-classic "Bolivia" by the great Cedar Walton.
Evil Genius // Experiments on Human Subjects
Critically acclaimed experimental jazz-rock trio Evil Genius returns with their second full-length release, Experiments on Human Subjects on Orenda Records. This new collection utilizes an even broader palette of sonic madness, with more extensive through-composed material and traverses vast stylistic terrain with gleeful perversity and scorched-earth impunity. What remains from their 2015 debut Bitter Human is the group's remarkably nuanced interplay and freedom to glide effortlessly as individual voices united by a common mission.
Derrick Spiva Jr. // American Mirror
Los Angeles-based composer Derrick Spiva Jr. could not have chosen a better name for his malleable ensemble, Bridge to Everywhere. The name embodies his compositional and cultural ethos clearly and succinctly. At a time when our society needs bridges more than ever, Spiva’s music connects music from all over the world with his own American identity. His second album, American Mirror, places rhythmic and melodic foundations from West and North Africa, India, Eastern Europe, and Appalachia seamlessly within the realm of modern American classical music. American Mirror proposes that diverse musical cultures can become even more beautiful when they exist and collaborate together. It is a musical metaphor for how disparate segments of American society, which has roots all over the world, can be truly harmonious.
The Vinny Golia Sextet // Trajectory
For over a decade, The Vinny Golia Sextet has dedicated itself to the compositions of Los Angeles creative music legend and multi-instrumentalist Vinny Golia. Juxtaposing composition with dynamic improvisation, Golia's music engages the mind and the heart, and radiates an enigmatic spirit that has inspired generations of musicians. Trajectory presents an epic collection of music written and performed in every-evolving ways over the last 10+ years, and features an adventurous lineup that shines on Golia’s unique approach to modern jazz language.
Zack Teran // Portalis
Multi-talented bassist, composer and producer Zack Teran assembles a quartet of like-minded colleagues to present a strong original sound on his debut, Portalis. Teran adroitly balances a rhythmic groove informed by modern electronic music with the harmonic contours of modern jazz and timbral spectrum of mid-2000s indie rock, and vividly channels his impressions from time spent in the mountain landscapes of the American West.
Quoan // Fine Dining
Brimming with cheeky humor and fearless creativity, this band tips its hat to the historic lineage of the modern chord-less jazz quartet with an album that feels classic yet new, biting yet sweet, and overflowing with virtuosity.
DR. MiNT // Beyond The Void
With expansive vision, improvisational daring, and stylish aesthetic, this music delves into the realm of the subconscious. Each song is the result of spontaneous collective inspiration. DR. MiNT's signature sound is produced through a combination of pure improvisation, and real-time notation of melodic content. With a rhythm section rooted in drum 'n' bass and heavy rock, and horn soloists pushing the edges of experimental jazz, the band creates their own universe, held together by the dark matter of intuitive mental connection.
The Evan Francis Group // Imaginary Hero
Imaginary Hero, the new album from saxophonist, flutist, and composer Evan Francis, delivers wildly dynamic music drawing from an impressive array of stylistic flavors. His cool and steadfast band, The Evan Francis Group navigates his slyly shifting compositions with poise, while virtuoso soloists burst with thrilling alacrity. Imbued with thick funk, tasty dance rhythms, firm roots in jazz and Afro-Cuban music, with a flare for avant-garde improvisation, Imaginary Hero moves with assured vision.
Richard Lloyd Giddens Jr. // Mimosas
"Although Giddens conceived this recording as a showcase for each musician, what one notices immediately is the brilliant sound that each musician has on his instrument thus achieving the beautiful sound the band creates as a whole. Their ensemble performance has a strength, maturity and cohesiveness that derives from knowing one another well, and having performed together in various combinations for many years. They’re in sync with each other, both musically and spiritually. These sophisticated musicians, composers and improvisors have reunited to produce a finely woven tapestry of interconnected compositions and spontaneous performances."
David Tranchina // Grey Sky
Grey Sky, bassist and composer David Tranchina's debut album as a leader, is an impressionistic cycle of somnambulant movements that wander freely from a base in jazz to psychedelic ambience and beyond. An unmistakable sense of curiosity and exploration is prevalent throughout the seven pieces on the album and is shepherded by two wordless vocal performances by singer, Argenta Walther.
Red Oak Duo | Seven American Monuments
Storm Nilson - Acoustic & Electric Guitar
Adam Benjamin - Piano & Fender Rhodes
Android Trio | Road Songs
Road Songs, the debut recording from the Android Trio, is a collection of instrumental reflections of the hazy experience
of an American band touring abroad. The set of eight original compositions was written and arranged by drummer,
composer and percussionist, Andrew Niven, and covers a wide landscape of stylistic terrain including doom metal, third
stream jazz and progressive rock.
Snow Nerds | Gup Life
GUP LIFE, the vibrant and subversive debut of progressive jazz quartet SNOW NERDS, comes onto the Los Angeles improvised music scene with attitude, ernest, and no shortage of absurdist humor. With devilish hooks, hard-hitting instrumental performances, and thought-provoking composition, this record is a breath of fresh air to those who seek an alternative to the desire-to-impress that so often plague the world of academic music.
Scot Ray & Vicki Ray | Yar
Sibling-driven duoscapes pushing prepared piano and slide guitar into the spiral turbulence of a free jazz new music front - looped, glitched, and morphed tales of surreal subterranean travel.
"...confidently sensitive, texturally nuanced, sonically fascinating, darkly introspective, and starkly ritualistic." —Alex Cline
Tina Raymond | Left Right Left
"Left Right Left is an introspective album, open and textural, the spaciousness lightly colored by Raymond, Lande, and West Coast veteran bassist Putter Smith."
—Gary Fukushima, Medium.com
Sam Minaie | Heyo!
Sam Minaie has quickly established himself a one of jazz's most exciting rising stars of both upright and electric bass. His compelling debut as a leader, Heyo!, features a band of heavyweight modern jazz innovators rollicking through mostly original compositions with fire, grit, and attitude, and a distinctive sound that's as unusual as it is fun.
DR. MiNT | Voices In The Void
With Voices In The Void, DR.MiNT presents their futuristic approach to powerful rhythms, warped electronics, roaring horns, and infectious spontaneity with a sci-fi cinematic aesthetic that’s as innovative as it is fun.
Jonathan Rowden Group | Skyward Eye
The music of Skyward Eye is presented in two chapters, both full of compositional breadth, improvised soundscapes and purposeful solos. Rowden and Pryor split the composing load 50/50 on Skyward Eye. They both share many of the same roots and aesthetics - the interplay between their composing styles allowed them to tell a similar story from two perspectives. Drummer and percussionist, James Yoshizawa’s diverse and massive arsenal of instruments (including Japanese taiko drums, homemade metallics, and celtic percussion) are responsible for the majority of the soundscape creation. Bassist Jordan Richard’s bass-choir overdubs create the heart-wrenching soul of the album on the track “Flight.” Songs flow in and out of one another, crafted with care and purpose. Voices and metal chairs became drum hits, saxophone mouthpieces became war-cries, and the breath of a choir became the sound of ghosts of battle, and the laughter of children in the distance. For the group, Skyward Eye became a film without actors, a book without words.
Sound Etiquette | Sound Etiquette
Sound Etiquette, the first calling from a brilliantly inventive trio based out of Oakland, CA, imagines a universe where the small-minded distinctions of musical genres become obsolete. This kaleidoscopic collection of music will take you on a journey where the line between improvisation and composition is erased, giving way to a virgin space where new unions of sound are possible.
Jon Armstrong | Burnt Hibiscus
Burnt Hibiscus is a stunning new work for a ten-piece chamber jazz ensemble created by saxophonist/composer, Jon Armstrong. The music, in Armstrong’s words, serves as an “unsentimental love letter to Los Angeles, highlighting the hypnagogic quality of life as an artist in the southland”. At its core, Burnt Hibiscus revolves around the timbres of multi-instrumentalist and Indian American musician, Sheela Bringi and the sublime poetry of Armstrong’s wife and fellow ensemble member, Erin Armstrong. The result of Armstong’s vision is some of the most enigmatic modern jazz yet offered on the West Coast or anywhere else.
Alexander Noice | Music Made With Voices
The human voice is perhaps our most organically individual trait and the root of our personal expression. On his latest studio album, Music Made With Voices, acclaimed guitarist and composer Alexander Noice uses a single note sung by eight different people as the sole source material to create eight elaborate, fragmented, and beautiful sonic portraits that reflect our modern relationships seen through a digitized prism.
A Conrad Trio | Screaming While Playing
Screaming While Playing, the bold debut album by vibrant Los Angeles saxophonist and composer, Andrew Conrad, is an immediately honest glimpse into the mind of an uncompromising artist who does not segregate art and life. Raw and visceral, this record presents a deeply intertwined musical dialogue rarely encountered in an age that favors technology and sheen over unfiltered expression.
Nathan Hubbard/Skeleton Key Orchestra | Furiously Dreaming
San Diego percussionist and composer, Nathan Hubbard, culls together his Skeleton Key Orchestra, for their sophomore effort, Furiously Dreaming. Gathering together a staggering 49 of Southern California’s most ambitious creative musicians, this epic 2-disc achievement is a swirling, seductive, mind-bending sonic array mixing avant-garde jazz and electronica, poetry, and quite literally, the music of dreams.
Burning Ghosts | Burning Ghosts
Burning Ghosts explodes from the Los Angeles Underground with an expressionist metal-jazz opus that singes the fabric of a fraying American culture. An ambitious and scathing referendum, this eponymous debut comes at a moment when our civic morality and sense of social justice, our communal values and even our very national identity, find themselves under brutal scrutiny. Holding the mirror close and clear, Burning Ghosts is an uncompromising, incendiary artistic response to ubiquitous injustice. This is music without restraint.
Gavin Templeton | Ballast
BALLAST, the coiled, stimulating album Los Angeles jazzman Gavin Templeton has been crafting for more than a year, was inspired by a range of thought and experience that continues to drive Templeton - and now, thanks to its febrile, probing nature, us. This tough, hopeful recording is uncompromisingly modern, mostly hard, but at times unexpectedly, disarmingly sweet. And while most of its source material is uneasy, joy, even jauntiness, peek out.
Cathlene Pineda | Passing: A California Suite
Los Angeles based pianist and composer, Cathlene Pineda’s second Orenda Records album, Passing: A California Suite stands out as a unique and original voice in the jazz world. Pineda’s artful compositions, her quartet’s cohesive sound and understated virtuosity, and her creative use of poetry and original artwork tell a story that connects to the core of the human experience.
Daniel Rosenboom | Book of Storms
Rooted in mysticism, magick, and mythology, trumpeter, composer, and producer Daniel Rosenboom's ongoing "book" series explores the more spiritually nebulous aspects of human nature. Using graphic scores and guided improvisation, these projects draw together some of the creative music world's most distinctive instrumental voices to intone esoteric incantations inspired by and dedicated to visions from "the other side." Psychedelic, raw, and highly imaginative, this music is for seekers and dreamers, and those who seek to go beyond.
Jake Vossler & Aaron McLendon | Versus
Screaming harpies, preying mantises, and a needle drilling through the Earth's core? Sounds like metal to me! But what makes Jake Vossler and Aaron McLendon's guitar-drums duo opus Versus an incredible standout in the genre and beyond isn't its speed, brutality, or heaviness. It's the uncanny ESP on display, the immediacy of communication in improvisation, shared sense of imagination, and virtuosity not as instrumentalists, but as mind-readers.
Christine Tavolacci | Ryoanji
A haunting and meditative exploration of subtlety and sonic space, Christine Tavolacci's hypnotic flute, and Bonnie Whiting's quietly insistent percussion give life to this transportive performance of John Cage's landmark piece inspired by the legendary Japanese rock garden. This special release will be a limited edition hand-made package by Eron Rauch.
Daniel Rosenboom | Resonance
"...music of a kind of free-fusion, which might be the only way to contain Rosenboom’s radioactive trumpeting and an unquenchable creative fire that will meltdown before it shuts down."
"Daniel Rosenboom, the sharpest neofusionist in the West..."
Evil Genius | Bitter Human
Here at Orenda Records, we receive a lot of music to review for release consideration. But it's not every day that a tuba, guitar, drums trio crosses our desk - and it's even rarer to hear such a formation explode with the kind of commanding vigor and infectious levity that the LA/Brooklyn bicoastal band Evil Genius embodies. Steeped in genre bending, wry wit, and dazzling virtuosity, this trio’s impressive debut, Bitter Human, is like nothing you've ever heard, and might make you smile way more than you think.
Fell Runner | Fell Runner
It would be easy to overlook a new post-punk indie rock band from Los Angeles, but in the opening seconds their powerful self-titled debut, Fell Runner seizes their moment with infectious interlocking guitar riffs, seductive vocals, surging rhythm, rolling bass, and an noisy inter-continental vibe that could put you on almost any beach in the world! Seamlessly blending influences from Tune-Yards, Dirty Projectors, Pixies, and Wilco with a studied and extensive understanding of West African traditional music, their sound is a kind of folk-punk-world mash-up that can only be categorized as forward-thinking, global, and awesome.
Daniel Corral | Diamond Pulses
On the surface of the single, 32-minute track, everything seems perfectly transparent, maybe even grid-like. Insistent, hopped-up Plinko polyrhythms braid together in a dense patchwork of minimalist activity, while oceanic noise waxes and wanes. Or it’s pop electronica, but more desperate, more worldly, shamelessly reverbed. Minimalist motivic transitions speed the texture through harmonic and registral shifts, while rhythm remains constant. Corral knows exactly what he wants us to hear, at what pace, and moody swells of noise give us enough respite to fool us into thinking we’ve made our own choices. Robert Ashley said that music either comes from speech, or it comes from dance. Diamond Pulses is unconditionally from the dance. There are no words here at all.
Derrick Spiva Jr. | Prisms, Cycles, Leaps
Prisms, Cycles, Leaps is a sonic illustration of the body’s perception of rhythm and the ancient relationship between cycles in nature and the energy created by tempo. The album bridges several musical cultures and the genres of classical, world, and jazz.
Weston Saxon Groove Assembly | Acceleration
"An album that embraces familiar approaches, but doesn’t quite sound like anything else I’ve heard. Not exactly jazz, not exact rock, not exactly anything, Acceleration is a superb offering for anyone who is looking for thoughtful, varied music, that is a whole lot of fun."
—Mike Borella, Avant Music News
Trevor Anderies | Promise Of A Tree
"Where the other was a thoughtful expression of the place where hard bop and avant-garde meet, his newest sees him growing more nuanced and increasingly diverse with this mix of modern and classic jazz, folk, and pop."
—Dave Sumner, Bird Is The Worm
Randy Gloss | The Ayes Have It (Vol. I)
"The Ayes Have It, Vol. 1. ‘Aye’ might as well have been spelled ‘I’, as Gloss has done it all himself, producing, recording, mixing, and playing a myriad of rhythmic and melodic percussive instruments. Gloss is a true master of almost anything that can be hand-struck, which he so eloquently demonstrates with sounds and textures that blend together in a delicious confectionary for the ear."
Ryan Dragon | Kid Songs
"Embracing microtonality, contrafactual brilliance, soundscapes, driving metric modulation, meditative grooves and myriad rhythmic influences, Dragon’s strong musical presence imbues the entire proceedings."
Daniel Rosenboom | Astral Transference & Seven Dreams
"L.A. trumpeter Daniel Rosenboom seems to gravitate towards music that challenges on multiple levels...wildly ambitious... It's a fascinating blend and blur of the notated versus the improvised, and the constant shifting keeps the listener's interest at a peak level... Imagine a synthesis of Wayne Shorter's "Moto Grosso Feio," and Cecil Taylor's "Conquistador," and one knows what to expect. Recommended."
—Robert Bush, All About Jazz
Kubilay Üner | Inn Paradiso
"What you see, hear, make out, even if it's a real sound like a wolf or an escalator, is just there to sound the way it does. There's no story, no meaning, just a ballet of sound gestures coming together to create a dance. You make your own story - or just enjoy the movement and colors."
— Kubilay Üner, January 2015
Michael Mull Octet | Source Code
The Michael Mull Octet is a chameleon ensemble of emerging Los Angeles talent. Performing the original works of composer/multi-instrumentalist Michael Mull, this group explores a soundscape of cinematic colors, deep-seated groove, fiery improvisations, and yearning melody that ranges from sweet and nostalgic to crushing and electrifying.
The Matthew Yeakley Group | Clean Numbers & Dirty Words
"An impressive debut album from a talented up and coming artist. Fans of modern guitar are sure to love the compositions and fiery playing by everyone on these discs."
—All About Jazz
Walsh Set Trio | Three
"Experimental at heart and jazz in behavior. Modern jazz, a bit post-bop and a bit avant-garde, floats right along nicely until interrupted by theatrical vocalizations and dissonant clashes of instruments. An album with a sense of humor, where the jokes are just as likely to inspire contemplation as they are smiles."
—Dave Sumner, Bird Is The Worm
Gavin Templeton Trio | Some Spinning, Some At Rest
"LA alto saxophonist Gavin Templeton's sophomore release as a leader, Some Spinning, Some At Rest represents the values of composition and free-improvising with equal fervor and expertise, and alongside double-bassist Richard Giddens and drummer Gene Coye, Mr. Templeton has documented one of the finest saxophone trio recordings in recent memory."
—Robert Bush, All About Jazz
Jon Armstrong Jazz Orchestra | Farewell
“The gifted Los Angeles tenor saxophonist may have assembled a 23-piece band of fairly traditional instrumentation, but he is a composer and arranger who dares to imagine… Seldom resorting to the full blast of massed horns, he prefers to draw out shifting patterns of colours, textures and dynamics, using structures that sometimes dare to reach beyond the hackneyed head-solos-head format. Improvising becomes a conceptual part of the pieces.”
—John Shand, The Sydney Morning Herald
Jonathan Rowden Group | Becoming
“Los Angeles-based saxophonist and bandleader Jonathan Rowden is making some notable noise as a worthy player and conceptualist way out west, to quote Sonny Rollins. His group’s aptly named debut, Becoming, is a mix of unabashed emotionality, compositional breadth and occasional flights of free-ish fancy, adding up to an intriguing introductory mission statement from a West Coaster with something fresh to say and play.”
— Josef Woodard, Downbeat Magazine
DR. MiNT | Kingsize Sessions
DR. MiNT is a veritable lightning rod for intuitive music. Their compositions are "100% spontaneously created," and their brand new album, Kingsize Sessions, captures everything the band has become known to channel. Often associated with heavier rock, metal, or electronic musical styles, it’s easy to forget that the music that is being played, is always being played for the first time.
The Daniel Rosenboom Septet | Unsayable Absence
An exploration of cross-genre pollination over the backdrop of jazz; an experiment in stretching to the edge of the universe with one foot on the ground; a testament to the soul.
DR. MiNT | Ritual
“With unswerving focus and expansive vision…Dr. Mint present a thoroughly modern view of jazz.”
—Troy Collins, All About Jazz
“Dr. Mint is true improvisational jazz/rock fusion, with trumpet and sax explosions as if Al Hirt and Charlie Parker rose from the grave and went insane.”
—A. Canales, Critical Review Service
Cathlene Pineda | A Week's Time
With a lush and introspective approach to the jazz, Cathlene Pineda and her quartet effortlessly glide from group melodic improvisation to composed rhythmic motives, incorporating elements of song form and classical composition, tonality and color.
Falsetto Teeth | Boiling High Idol
A visceral reaction to the top 40 drone that plagues the current airwaves. Falsetto Teeth's mix of pop melody and intricate rhythm schemes makes them stand out like puppy love in the midst of a mannequin orgy.
The Daniel Rosenboom Quintet | Fire Keeper
The Daniel Rosenboom Quintet is an electrifying ensemble that brings together some of the Los Angeles creative music scene's most distinctive instrumental voices. Their debut album, Fire Keeper, introduces a new brand of American music, unbound by genre or stylistic idiom. The quintet seamlessly blends elements of jazz, progressive and experimental rock, electronic music, blues, grunge, and contemporary classical music into an unprecedented sound that is fiery, grooving, intelligent and exciting. The band rocks hard, but flies with the freedom of inspired jazz. The sound is fresh yet grounded, and for all its brazen metal edge, this is joyous music.