Thursday, January 28, 2010





Miles Davis called him a "little genius" and "the fire, the creative spark" of his '60s quintet, which arguably featured the best rhythm section jazz has ever known. The rhythmic instigator was Tony Williams-only a teenager when he joined the group-who went on to become one of the greatest drummers-if not the greatest-of all time. When he tragically died at the age of 51 in 1997 in the midst of continuing to speed ahead with new compositional projects, he left in his wake a drummer who counted him an invaluable mentor and close friend whose career has been a testament to Williams' legacy. Cindy Blackman is not only one of contemporary music's most creative drummers but also a passionate witness to the role model Williams provided to her. In her first recording as a leader since 2005's double CD Music for the New Millennium, Blackman pays homage to the Jazz-Rock legend with Another Lifetime (Four Quarters Entertainment), a tour de force collection of many of Williams' songs from his seminal group Lifetime, which he helmed from 1969-1976.

"It's true that this album celebrates him, but really this is only a documentation of the recording sessions that make up
Another Lifetime," says Blackman, a top-drawer jazz drummer whose resume also includes a lengthy association with rocker Lenny Kravitz (1993-2004, 2005-2007). "Tony's impact was so great on me that I celebrate him every day of my life. Every time I think about music, I celebrate Tony because I celebrate that level of virtuosity. I'm here to let it be known what that man created and how in his drumming he carried the entire history of all the great jazz drummers. He was an incredibly schooled drummer who set up the direction for me. When I first heard him, I knew that's how I wanted it to go for me. I remember thinking I've got to get to that. Celebrating Tony is not just one day or one album, but it's a way of living, a way of being-creative, spontaneous, thoughtful and diligent in pushing the envelope."

Without copying or resorting to duplicating the Tony Williams experience, Blackman set out to imaginatively re-envision some of her favorite Lifetime tunes (including "Vashkar," "Where," "There Comes a Time" and "Wildlife") as well as dynamically improvise originals that capture her master teacher's energy. The result is a session of intensity, teeming with bold, propulsive drum velocity recorded with four different teams of collaborators. The first support group comprises guitarist Mike Stern, organist Doug Carne and bassist Benny Reitvald, who appear on seven of the 11 tracks. On two tunes, Blackman is joined by guitarist Fionn O Lochlainn and organist Carlton Holmes; while the final track on
Another Lifetime, "Wildlife," features guitarist Vernon Reid, keyboardist Patrice Rushen and bassist David Santos. There's also a guest appearance by saxophonist Joe Lovano in Blackman's duo rendition of "Love Song," one of the CD highlights.

As for her volcanic delivery throughout, Blackman laughs and says, "That was my goal. I love being the driving force. It's what every great drummer does regardless of how subtle you play. That was how Tony played. He had great examples to learn from, including Art Blakey, Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones, Elvin Jones and Roy Haynes-how they pushed the bands they were in. That's the lineage I come from and love. It's a force of nature."

Given that her admiration for Williams was so high, was it a challenge for Blackman to delve into his music on such a personal level? "Of course, but this is jazz; it's a creative music," she says. "Ever since I was young, learning his music has been a beautiful challenge." As for choosing such a relatively small number of tunes from Williams' expansive Lifetime library, Blackman says that she wanted to include a lot more (hinting that a second volume may be in the offing). "So many of Tony's pieces were incredible in their concepts, rhythmic layers, harmonies and the different sounds of his bands. So I went with songs that are particular favorites, especially Carla Bley's composition 'Vashkar' that Tony put his personal stamp on."

Another Lifetime, Blackman uses "Vashkar" as a thematic chorus of sorts, leading off the album with a blistering rendition of it, adding new twists to the decidedly rock vibe spearheaded by her powerhouse drumming and Stern's and Carne's fire. Williams was so innovative in the way he played, Blackman says, that it was natural to follow suit but in her own voice. "I wanted to do it differently," she says. "I couldn't do it verbatim. Even every night when Tony played this song, it was totally different. I brought to it some new sections and feels."

Blackman returns to the song twice more in the collection, with a reprised version (track four) and a tune she calls "Vashkar and the Altered Dimension Theory" (track 7). As for the latter, best described as a rocking muse, she says, "This version is so completely different. It's as if it could have existed in a parallel universe to the original."

Blackman delivers another of her favorites, "Where," which starts in a dreamy vein before powering up. "That tune sounds so mysterious," she says. "It and his original Lifetime Group also shows how Tony innovated a new sound for an organ trio. And the way he plays 6/8 was different than anybody played it. In our version, we tagged Tony's tune 'Emergency' just to mix things up." In the first of two vocal contributions on the CD, Blackman sings on this track. She says, "I love Tony's lyrics." On another Williams piece with lyrics, "Beyond Games," the drummer sang, but Blackman chose to focus on the tune itself, working with the flow in terms of form and rhythms.

Another Lifetime, there are snippets of tunes, including the short and fast "Game Theory," largely an improvisation with Blackman, Stern, Carne and Reitveld in a heightened interplay; and the searing "And Heaven Welcomed a King," another original with inspired improvisational fury and a dynamic, "big-energy" ending that was "fitting for Tony's music," says Blackman. She sings again on the four-minute "There Comes a Time," another one of her favorite Williams compositions that wasn't originally planned to be on the collection. "I was in the studio with Fionn and Carlton, and we played around with this and we liked what we did," Blackman says. "It's not as long as Tony's version, and I only sang half of the lyrics Tony wrote."

Another short original credited to all the band members of the Holmes-O Lochlainn group, the slow, funk-tinged "40 Years of Innovation" not only pays tribute to Williams' heritage, but also serves as a pointed, spoken-word rebuttal to a comment drummer Billy Cobham once made. She recalls, "I read an interview with Billy once where he slammed me and Tony. He said that Tony was a kid who didn't have his ideas together and who made it on hype. That made me so angry. Billy missed the point completely. When I wrote this song, I was thinking of Billy Cobham and how I didn't appreciate his complete lack of respect for Tony's innovations. I found these lyrics a nice way to address this."

Another Lifetime closes with the CD's most lyrical tune, "Wildlife," featuring Reid (who had enlisted the drummer to do a Tony Williams Lifetime tribute tour in Japan in 2007 along with keyboardist John Medeski and original Lifetime bassist Jack Bruce), Rushen and Santos. "I dig this tune so much-the melody and the feel," Blackman says. "Tony was so musical. He loved to compose and orchestrate. Patrice put some nice touches on this to make it sound majestic." Blackman hastens to note that this track was recorded in analog, which made for somewhat of a surprise ending to the tune. "We were coming to the end of it when the tape ran out," she explains. "I thought about it, then realized that this was the perfect ending. It happens at the end of the album, plus the song actually did end too short, too quickly. And that was just what happened with Tony. His life ended too quickly."

Blackman hopes that
Another Lifetime will rekindle interest in Tony Williams' importance to jazz, rock and drumming in general. "Tony kept studying and searching, right up to the end," she says. "This was a man who was born a genius. He was advanced as a drummer at the age of 15, and he kept striving his entire life, regardless of what people thought about him. He was a true innovator."

Cindy Blackman · Another Lifetime
Release Date: February 23, 2010

For media information, please contact:
DL Media · 610-667-0501


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Resonance Logo


Roditi's New CD Follows His
2009 Grammy-Nominated Brazilliance x 4

In the wake of his acclaimed and Grammy-nominated (in the "Best Latin Jazz Album" category) 2009 Resonance Records release, Brazilliance x 4, trumpet/flugelhorn player Claudio Roditi has created Simpatico, another tuneful showcase for his patented blend of Brazilian samba and bossa nova with straight-ahead jazz. But where last year's recording included works by such Brazilian legends as João Donato, Durval Ferreira, and Johnny Alf, Simpatico spotlights both Roditi's playing and his composing talents.

"To me," Roditi remarks, "the main difference of this album from everything else I have done is that for the very first time these are all my compositions, all twelve of them. There are some new pieces, some a little older, but these are mostly things I haven't recorded, and some of them I haven't played live."

There also are some other new wrinkles on Simpatico. For instance, on "Piccolo Blues," Roditi plays an instrument that is relatively new to him and quite uncommon in jazz, the tiny piccolo trumpet. "It's about a year and a half that I've been fooling around with the piccolo trumpet," he notes. "It's a hard instrument to get a nice sound on, but little by little I've been learning and playing it more and more. I wrote this song in a comfortable range for the piccolo trumpet, and it's my 'introduction.' In other words, I was introducing myself to the instrument with this song."

And while most of the tracks on Simpatico find him in quintet settings, Roditi revisits "Slow Fire," a tune he first recorded back in 1989, but this time with a lush orchestral backing created by Kuno Schmid. "He is a phenomenal arranger and he created a different feeling for this song, which put us is a new direction. And Duduka is playing very, very differently on the drums than on the original recording." Of course, Roditi is referring to Duduka Da Fonseca, his fellow Brazilian and drummer of choice for more than two decades.

Brazilian pianist Helio Alves, another frequent Roditi colleague who has appeared on a number of the trumpeter's previous recordings, notably Brazilliance x 4, demonstrates once again that he is equally at home with both Brazilian and straight-ahead jazz genres. John Lee is another longtime collaborator and the reason Roditi has used the electric bass on so many of his projects, including Simpatico. "It's not about the electric bass," he explains. "It's about John Lee. It so happens that he plays electric bass. We've been associated since our days with Dizzy Gillespie's United Nation Orchestra and I like the way he plays the music, period. So the fact that he chooses to play electric bass is, to me, irrelevant."

On three tracks, Roditi is joined by the brilliant, up-and-coming trombonist Michael Dease. "This is the first time that he has recorded with me. Mike plays beautifully on all three songs, but his solo on 'Blues for Ronni' is especially great. He's a very talented musician" The other quintet tunes feature guitarist Romero Lubambo, who, along with Duduka Da Fonseca, is one third of the superb Brazilian combo, Trio Da Paz, "It's the first time that I've used Romero on an album. He's one of the masters of the acoustic guitar. Romero also plays one tune on the electric guitar, 'A Dream for Kristen,' but he gets a completely different sound. It's so warm that it sounds almost like an acoustic guitar."

Claudio Roditi was born on May 28, 1946, in Rio de Janeiro and began his musical studies at the age of five. As a teenager he discovered the music of trumpet giants like Louis Armstrong, Harry James, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles Davis, thanks to an American uncle's record collection. At twenty he was a finalist in the International Jazz Competition in Vienna, then in 1970 moved to Boston to study at the Berklee School of Music. By 1976 Roditi had arrived on the New York jazz scene, and over the years worked alongside such jazz luminaries as Mario Bauzá, Paquito D'Rivera, Joe Henderson, Herbie Mann, Tito Puente, Charlie Rouse and McCoy Tyner.

In 1989 Roditi became a member of Dizzy Gillespie's United Nation Orchestra, and since then he has toured and recorded with The JazzMasters and The Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, Gillespie tribute groups led by musical director Slide Hampton. A gifted musical storyteller with a vast improviser's imagination, Roditi's playing is characterized by its essential lyricism and warmth. "Claudio doesn't even try to be original and he is," Paquito D'Rivera has observed, expressing a widely held opinion within the jazz community "He is such a sincere player. He doesn't play to try to impress anybody, he plays just music. ... I learn a lot from his way of approaching music, the honest way to play the music. The way he plays is so noble."

"I'm grateful to George Klabin and Resonance Records for giving me the opportunity to do a project like this, that I have been 'rehearsing' to do for years, trying to accept my own compositions," Roditi concludes. "I've finally, after so many years, started to realize that I have some good ones and so, for me this is a milestone."


Resonance Records HCD-2002 / February 9, 2010

For further information on this and other Resonance Records releases,

Resonance Records Receives Two Grammy Nominations

Best Instrumental Arrangement "West Side Story Medley"
Bill Cunliffe, arranger (Resonance Big Band)
Resonance Big Band Pays Tribute To Oscar Peterson

Best Latin Jazz Album (Vocal or Instrumental)
Brazilliance x 4, Claudio Roditi

This is very exciting for us as these are our first-ever Grammy Nominations
in our label's one and a half year history.
We couldn't be more proud of our artists and their music.
Thank YOU for all of your support.
Everyone at Resonance Records

Resonance Records is a program of the Rising Jazz Stars Foundation,
a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation

For media information contact:

Jordy Freed at DL MEDIA (p) 610-667-0501 (e)
Don Lucoff at DL MEDIA (p) 610-667-0501 (e)


Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Mack Avenue logo

Decisive Steps cover

The astonishingly gifted, Colorado-born, alto / soprano saxophonist / flautist Tia Fuller is at home at all points of the musicverse - from her show-stopping solos as a member of superstar Beyoncé's all-female band, to her scintillatingly swinging jazz dates and recordings. Her newest Mack Avenue release Decisive Steps, is the long-awaited follow-up to her 2007 label debut Healing Space. It features her Beyoncé bandmate, drummer Kim Thompson; bassistMiriam Sullivan; Fuller's sister, Shamie Royston on piano and Fender Rhodes; with special guests, trumpeter Sean Jones and bassist Christian McBride (both Mack Avenue label mates); vibraphonist Warren Wolf; and tap dancer Maurice Chestnut.

"It's a continuation of Healing Space, evolving from a stationary place of healing to steps of action," Fuller says. "I've been in the mindset of really moving forward to the next level in my life, constantly being in the mindset of greatness, relentless in my pursuit and progressing with purpose by embracing my talents, recognizing my strengths and improving upon my weaknesses...but also in not being afraid of change; stepping forward in faith and not in fear."

Indeed, the ten tracks on this sumptuous CD aurally illustrate Fuller's artistic fearlessness fulfilled by her agile, buoyant and elegant full-bodied sax lines effortlessly improvising a number of moods and grooves, as evidenced by the take-no-prisoners tempo of the title track. "The first track, 'Decisive Steps,' was one of the last songs that I wrote for the album," Fuller says. "This particular song is very intricate - it has a lot of hits and time changes, so, compositionally, I wanted to portray a sonic representation of momentum; in moving forward, and really feature everybody in the quartet." Royston's Icarusian "Windsoar" highlights she and her sister's telepathic compositional bond. "We have a way of writing, where our songs are almost seamless," Fuller says. "It's funny; when Shamie started writing 'Windsoar,' it begins with a melody surrounded by a concert B-flat, and I was like, 'Shamie...I just started writing 'Clear Mind' with the same concept of the harmonies surrounding the melody of the B-flat.' We were writing in the same light of each other. We didn't talk about it; it was intuitive."

That intuitive simpatico comes through loud and clear on the funky "Ebb & Flow," which features McBride and Sullivan. "The concept of the song was inspired by one of my Spelman [College] sisters reunion," Fuller says. "In preparing for my recording and taking those aggressive steps, you have to be one with the spirit - allowing the ebb and flow of the physical and spiritual to become one." "Shades of McBride" is Fuller's finessed take on McBride's "Shade of the Cedar Tree." "My melody is an expansion of his melody, over different chord changes. After a week of singing my melody over his tune, I knew it was complete," Fuller says. "He's been a mentor of mine and a great friend."

The interlude "Steppin'," featuring tap dancer Maurice Chestnut, takes Fuller's thematic concept to a new level. "Prior to the recording I had the opportunity to meet Maurice Chestnut...we did some gigs together with the T.S. Monk Septet. I was like 'man, I'd really like to feature him - tying it along with the concept of decisive audibly represent stepping.' I was thinking what better way to do that, than with a tap dancer. Musically, it's an interlude to represent moving forward and serves as a transition within the sequence of the album."

The Latinesque "Kissed by the Sun" was "inspired by a melody I that was in my head as I awoke, the sun hitting my felt like a kiss." Likewise, the waltz-like "Night Glow," penned by Shamie Royston's husband [Rudy Royston], is equally impressive. The album also contains Fuller's ingenious reworking of two well-worn standards. "On 'I Can't Get Started' I wanted to feature the amazing artistry of Christian McBride and Warren Wolf," Fuller shares. "I wanted to experience the purity of the bass, sax and vibe combination, absent of drums. This arrangement expands the timbre of the album and recording with Christian is a dream come true - this trio combination is timeless. On 'My Shining Hour' I wanted something we could 'burn-out' on, but also something that grabs the listener's attention. This arrangement gives us the harmonic freedom...simple, yet complex bass-line over the classic melody is the ultimate balance of the familiar meeting the unfamiliar...closing the album with the excitement of the quartet."

The bonus track, "Life Brings," a percussive, "syncopated spiritual" featuring Chestnut and vocalist Asaph Womack, will be available digitally. "It's a blueprint of what I want to do in the future: an orchestral piece, with a full choir, video and tap dancers - a large production."

On Decisive Steps, Fuller's sound is soaring, supple and in-the-pocket from years of channeling her horn heroes. "The first solo I transcribed was Cannonball Adderley's 'Stars Fell on Alabama' my freshman year at Spelman," Fuller says. "I've always had a deep love for Cannonball. I always find myself going back to him. He has everything in his playing: soul, technique, his sound is amazing. Also John Coltrane; he's another person that I checked out early on. I actually heard him before I started playing the saxophone because my parents are musicians. Recently, I've really been checking out Earl Bostic. With the Beyoncé gig, I have a solo where I am playing a twelve bar G blues intro [the cadenza before "Work It Out" while Beyoncé is talking] and I thought, let me check out Earl Bostic, Trane did. More importantly, he was one of the saxophone legends that mastered the art of playing in the R&B world, the pop world and the jazz world...ultimately speaking the language and dialect of each genre."

Fuller's jazz-rooted, genre-crossing artistry is the result of an arts-filled childhood. She was born in Aurora, Colorado to musician parents, bassist Fred and singer Elthopia, who both taught in the Denver Public School District. She grew up listening to Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan and Charlie Parker. She started playing classical piano at the aTIA2ge of three, inspired by her older sister, Shamie, and studied the instrument for ten years. She started playing the flute at the age of nine and began playing the saxophone, deepening her interest in middle school. In 1998, she graduated Magna Cum Laude at Spelman College in Atlanta (where she studied with the great saxophonist/educator Joe Jennings) and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music; graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a Master of Music degree, Jazz Pedagogy and Performance in 2000.

Fuller made the eventual move to New York, relocating to nearby Jersey City, arriving two days before September 11, 2001. Undaunted by the terrible times of that period, she forged ahead and played and recorded with some of jazz's brightest stars, including the Duke Ellington Big Band, Nancy Wilson, T.S. Monk, Don Byron, Brad Leali, Wycliffe Gordon, Mickey Roker, Ralph Petersen, Jon Faddis, Rufus Reid, Jimmy Heath, Gerald Wilson, Sean Jones, Charlie Persip, and Don Braden. Then, on June 17, 2006 she was hired by Beyoncé and, as they say, the rest is history.

In 2005 she released her first CD as a leader (produced by mother, Elthopia Fuller), Pillar of Strength (Wambui), which was praised by Terrell Holmes of All About Jazz for being "an exhilarating work that introduced her as a leader who strives for perfection," followed by her Mack Avenue debut, Healing Space in 2007.

Her teaching credentials are equally expansive and impressive. She has conducted numerous clinics and master classes at the middle, high school, and college levels, including: Jazz Institute of New Jersey, Aurora Public Schools, Mile High Jazz Camp, University of Colorado at Boulder, Miami-Dade Community College, Jazz Institute of New Jersey, Stanford Jazz Workshop, Drexel University, Montclair State University, Bloomfield College, and New Mexico State University.

Which brings us to Decisive Steps: Tia Fuller's latest sonic testament to her ever upward-and-evolving evolution toward artistic perfection; an evolution that is taking place in an intricately intertwined musical world where an artist combines a myriad of genres. "The Beyoncé gig has helped me to really appreciate the artistry and freedom that we have in jazz," Fuller says. "Playing in jazz settings helps me to appreciate and integrate what we're doing with Beyoncé. Playing in front of sixteen thousand people, or sixty people, it's the same, because it's all about people, transferring energy, uplifting and encouraging spirits and sharing the love of music. There's a common thread between the two, and they enhance each other. I think musicians are taking a step forward on both sides; we're moving forward with combining all forms, and more people are accepting that concept, because it's all inter-connected. We, as a people, are taking Decisive Steps!"

Tia Fuller · Decisive Steps (MAC 1043)
Release Date: March 16, 2010

For media information, please contact:
DL Media · 610-667-0501

Become a fan of Tia Fuller on
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MACK AVENUE · the road to great music ·
19900 Harper Avenue, Harper Woods, MI 48225 · 313-640-8414 · 313-640-8415 fax

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pianist Marian McPartland Awarded Prestigious "Officer of the Order of the British Empire" by Queen Elizabeth II

Pianist Marian McPartland Awarded Prestigious
"Officer of the Order of the British Empire"
by Queen Elizabeth II

DL Media is proud to announce that legendary jazz pianist and National Public Radio host Marian McPartland was awarded the prestigious "Officer of the Order of the British Empire" honor by Queen Elizabeth II.

McPartland, one of two honorees with New York ties, received the citation (the highest honor other than "Dame") for services to jazz and for aspiring young musicians in the United States.

"I am thrilled and proud to have received this great honor bestowed on me by Queen Elizabeth," says McPartland. "I am truly grateful."

The Order of the British Empire recognizes distinguished service to the arts and sciences, public services outside the Civil Service and work with charitable and welfare organizations of all kinds.

Sir Alan Collins, British Consul-General in New York said: "I congratulate Ms. McPartland and Mr. [Peter Dyce] Tear on their well deserved honors. Their awards are an acknowledgement of the significant contribution each has made to the arts and for their roles in strengthening the UK-US relationship." Peter Dyce Tear, Executive Producer of 59E59 Theatres in New York, was awarded a Member of the British Empire (MBE) honor for services to UK/US cultural relations.

91 year-old McPartland continues to showcase the world's top musicians on NPR's longest-running and most widely carried jazz program, "Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz," which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary on-air. Currently, writer Paul DeBarros (Seattle Times/Downbeat) is writing the first biography on McPartland to be published by St. Martin's Press.

The long list of honors bestowed upon McPartland and the show include, a George Foster Peabody Award, the Gracie Allen Award given by American Women in Radio and Television, the National Music Council's American Eagle Award, and a Grammy Trustee's Award for lifetime achievement. After nearly 28 years as host of "Piano Jazz," in 2007, Marian was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. She has received honorary degrees from Hamilton, Union, and Bates Colleges, Bowling Green University, and the University of South Carolina.

Queen Elizabeth's 2010 New Year Honors was announced on January 1, 2010. The UK honors system recognizes exceptional achievement and service to the nation.

For more information on National Public Radio's "Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz," please visit:

For more information contact:

Don Lucoff / DL Media / 610-667-0501




Celebrating Kenny's 70th Birthday (February 10)

Kenny Rankin
Kenny Rankin came into the larger public consciousness in the early 1970s. It was the era of the singer-songwriter, and although he fit the profile, Rankin transcended that genre. He had many more musical ingredients - folk, jazz, country, Brazilian, doo-wop, standards and soul - and much more musicality than the average retooled folkie. It was the best kind of eclecticism and Rankin was, as Duke Ellington classified, beyond category.

The Mack Avenue label imprint Sly Dog Records is set to release six titles by Rankin (who died in Los Angeles from lung cancer on June 7, 2009 at 69); Mind-Dusters , Family , Like A Seed *, Silver Morning *, Inside , and The Kenny Rankin Album , at all popular retailers on February 16, 2010. All six are currently available for download at online digital sellers (iTunes, Rhapsody, eMusic, etc).
*These two titles have been remastered from the original tapes.

Rankin brought a finely tuned sophistication and a capacity for a surprising variety of musical expression to contemporary pop music. His high tenor voice - vulnerable yet capable of conveying many emotional gradations - helped Rankin establish instant intimacy with audiences everywhere. Though he might appear with a trio, Rankin often performed alone. A singer with only his guitar between him and the audience, Rankin was a knight without armor. He seemed to relish the exposed posture; it underscored the emotional nakedness of his performances. Paul McCartney was so taken with Rankin's version of "Blackbird" that he invited Kenny to perform the tune when Lennon and McCartney were inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame.

Rankin grew up in New York City and absorbed the many forms of music around him like a sponge. He sang a cappella in the hallways of the same neighborhood that Dion DiMucci and Teddy Randazzo lived in. It would be no surprise to his old friends when doo-wop elements surfaced later in songs like "Roll-A-Round" on the Inside album.

A Greenwich Village apprenticeship brought Rankin into contact with producer Tom Wilson in '65. At Wilson's invitation, Rankin played rhythm guitar on "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and "Maggie's Farm" for Bob Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home .

His songs preceded him into the national marketplace: Mel Tormé recorded Rankin's bright waltz "Haven't We Met" on his A Lush Romantic Album of '65 and Helen Reddy took "Peaceful" to the Top Ten in '73.

Validation came in the form of a deal with Little David Records. Rankin's struggle suddenly turned into a journey. Founded by Monte Kay, Little David was a boutique label whose main artists were comedians Flip Wilson and George Carlin. Jazz entrepreneur Kay's résumé included the fabled Royal Roost nightclub, the Miles Davis Tentet (the so-called Birth of the Cool band), and the Modern Jazz Quartet. Rankin couldn't have been happier to be in such company.

Kay was a hands-on CEO with his partner and prolific jazz producer Jack Lewis. Together they co-produced Rankin's first three albums with the label. Lewis had the vision to place Rankin in a variety of musical settings that showed off different facets of the singer's assets. The debut of Mind Dusters ('67) had an imaginative redesign of Fred Neil's "Dolphins" that backed Rankin with a string quartet. It served notice that a new and exciting artist was developing.

Michael Stewart came on board to produce Silver Morning ('74), and stayed to produce the next few albums. Yvonne, Kenny's then wife, co-produced Inside ('75) with Stewart. She co-wrote numerous songs with Rankin and her lyrics were a major influence on his melodies throughout his recordings during this time.

Jazz singer Ruth Price booked him many times at her Jazz Bakery performance space in Culver City. She observed a benign shrewdness on Rankin's part: "He liked to be out in the audience as the people filed in; I've never seen anybody else do that. It allowed him to get a real feel for the room and tailor his performances.

Price also recognized Rankin's musical worth. "I was a real fan of what he sang," she says. "His intonation was amazing. Most of the time he sang with no vibrato, and when he would jump octaves he'd hit those notes square on the head."

Chris Rankin, Kenny's son and a longtime music industry professional, sees his father's work this way: "I think what my father really tried to do is put a voice to the human experience, in all of its forms. His songs examined those human challenges from every angle with a beautiful voice and a lot of emotional depth. He was willing to share it all with his audience. Love was a predominant theme throughout his work: romantic love, loss of love, and love's redemption. He was never afraid to express his emotions through his work; he loved playing for the people.

"He had a unique way of hearing other people's songs and finding new things in them. My family is very proud of my father's musical legacy and we're very appreciative that his albums are going to be reissued."

In closing, Mack Avenue label President Denny Stilwell comments, "Kenny Rankin and Sly Dog Records are a perfect match for the prototype singer-songwriter that he embodied. Kenny was a natural musician with a vocal talent that wrung every nuance from deeply evocative lyrics. Lyrics both common and ethereal - everyday and extraordinary. Kenny's gift and these landmark recordings are a treasure, and it's an honor to be involved with their reintroduction. Our cooperative relationship with Kenny's family has been open and unified in our mutual goals - first and foremost, the active care-taking of Kenny Rankin's musical legacy."

Kenny Rankin

Mind-Dusters (SLY 3005)
Family (SLY 3006)
Like A Seed (SLY 3007)
Silver Morning (SLY 3008)
Inside (3009)
The Kenny Rankin Album (SLY 3010)

Worldwide Release Date: February 16, 2010

For Publicity, please contact Don Lucoff at DL Media
610-667-0501 /

19900 Harper Avenue, Harper Woods, MI 48225 / 313-640-8414 / 313-640-8415 fax


Monday, January 4, 2010




E1 Entertainment is proud to announce performance dates for the Joe Locke Group featuring vocalist Kenny Washington at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola on January 26th through 31st. The week-long engagement will launch their forthcoming January 26th release, For The Love of You .

Joining Locke and Washington is an all-star rhythm section: Grammy nominated pianist Geoffrey Keezer, bassist George Mraz, and drummer Clarence Penn.

When Locke's group made its debut last year at New York's Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola , word quickly got out that this was a "can't miss" gig, and the lines at Jazz at Lincoln Center were proof positive of the fact.

Now, with the release of For The Love of You , jazz fans everywhere can hear what all the talk was about.

For the first time in many years, the vibesman includes vocals as a primary part of the mix. Forging a style that seems to be made of equal parts Nat King Cole and Donny Hathaway, Kenny Washingtonweaves his unique spell around a diverse repertoire. The seven vocal tunes include pieces taken from the contemporary pop / soul lexicon as well as the Great American Songbook.

The critical community continually cites Locke for his artistic work. He has been given the "Mallet Player of the Year" Award by the Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) on three occasions and has been voted the #1 "Rising Star" vibraphonist in DownBeat Magazine's Critic's Poll several times. Throughout his career, Locke has shared the stage luminaries ranging from Dizzy Gillespie, Pepper Adams and Mongo Santamaria to Rod Stewart and The Beastie Boys, among dozens of others.

Joe Locke Group feat. vocalist Kenny Washington

Tuesday-Sunday, January 26-31
7:30pm & 9:30pm
11:30pm set on Fri/Sat

Joe Locke, vibes
Kenny Washington, vocals
Geoffrey Keezer, piano
George Mraz, bass
Clarence Penn, drums

Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola
Jazz at Lincoln Center
Broadway at 60th Street, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10023
phone: 212.258.9595

Click here to listen to an exclusive
streaming track from the album

Please visit or

For more information contact:

Scott Thompson at Jazz at Lincoln Center
(p) 212.258.9807 (e)

Jordy Freed at DL MEDIA
(p) 610.667.0501 (e)