Blue Canoe artist, Hiroe Sekine, is back in the spotlight with her fourth release, "Hiroe's Spirit". With this bold effort, Ms. Sekine brings fresh, unique arrangements to jazz and classical songs in a very original way.
A native of Japan, pianist Hiroe Sekine has been living in the Los Angeles area since 1993, performing at many venues, festivals, and others, including the Jazz Concert Series at Los Angeles County Museum of Arts (LACMA) in 2014 and 2016. Ms. Hiroe studied jazz at University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. In 2010, Ms. Sekine's debut album, "a-mé", was named by "All About Jazz" as one of the 25 best albums of the year. Ms. Sekine's long-time musical relationship with Russell Ferrante of the YellowJackets continues on "Hiroe's Spirit" and the result is a classical crossover stunner. Over the years, she has worked with musical greats such as Bob Sheppard (Chick Corea, Steely Dan, Michael Brecker, Joni Mitchell), Tony Dumas (The Manhattan Transfer, Chick Corea, Etta James, Mariah Carey), Peter Erskine (Weather Report, Pat Metheny, John Scofield,) and Abraham Laboriel (Al Jarreau, George Benson, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles) to name a few.
"Hiroe's Spirit" opens with a dramatic rendition of “Pavane pour une infante défunte” by French composer Maurice Ravel. It begins with Ms. Sekine hinting at the melody with her strong piano phrasing against a simple drum beat. Bob Sheppard floats to the front with his sax and takes over melodic duties before the listener is drawn in by spirited accompaniment with Michael Valerio (bass), James Tate (drums) and Akira Jimbo (shaker). Together they reach the summit with dramatically soaring sax ringing triumphantly in the end.
Another very original take on Spirit is Ms. Hiroe's version of Ave Maria. She chooses a very upbeat approach with riveting drum and bass intro. The great Abraham Laboriel contributes both electric bass and vocals in this unique approach to the standard. The changes in rhythmic patterns throughout the interpretation keep the listener engaged as Ms. Hiroe falls in with a breathtaking piano solo that will leave an audience wanting for more. At the end, all come together in a force of rocket-paced bass groove along with subdued vocals that magically just works. Creatively divine, indeed!
"Hiroe's Spirit" is an intelligent, stand-out creation that will not be matched this year. Take a ride with Hiroe Sekine's "Hiroe's Spirit" today....this one is not to be missed.
Cody Carpenter is at it again with his sophomore release “Force Of Nature” on Blue Canoe Records. This stunning instrumental prog-rock, fusion effort is the follow-up to the outstanding "Interdependence" (2018). This prolific songwriter and keyboardist has teamed up with some old friends and new to bring the listener into the prog glory days of Yes and Emerson Lake and Palmer.
Cody Carpenter is the son of Adrienne Barbeau, a star of film, television and the Broadway stage, and legendary Academy Award winning writer, actor, composer, producer and director John Carpenter. The Senior Carpenter is best know for classic horror films (Halloween, The Fog, The Thing) and sci-fi thrillers (Escape From new York, Starman). As a composer, he is known for synthesizer-based pieces and is perhaps best known for the theme song to the movie Halloween (1978). It is not difficult to see how Cody Carpenter comes by his synthesizer based compositions. Cody was introduced to his first musical instrument around the age of three and has been playing and composing original music ever since. In addition to contributing music for two of his father’s films, Vampires (1998) and Ghosts of Mars (2001), Carpenter composed and performed the full-length score for “Cigarette Burns” and “Pro-Life” in Showtime’s Masters of Horror (2005) movie series. Cody co-wrote, co-produced, and performed on the acclaimed Lost Themes (2015) and Lost Themes II (2016) with his father and Daniel Davies. In 2016 and 2017 Cody toured North America and Europe with his father and a six piece band, performing material from both Lost Themes albums and his father’s films. In 2018, Cody (along with John Carpenter and Daniel Davies), helped to compose the music for the latest Halloween movie released on October 19th, 2018, starring Jamie Lee Curtis.
Mr. Carpenter opens like a tornado with the expansive track "Transcendence". He plays all the instruments on this firestorm except the drums contributed by Grammy nominated (with Tenacious D) artist Scott Seiver (Jason Mraz, Ed Sheeran). "Transcendence" pulls no punches and sets up Cody Carpenter's blistering pace for the rest of the "Force".
Cody brings in some friends on "Fantasy of Form". He rounds out the rhythm section with multi-Grammy winner Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets founding member). Mr. Carpenter starts things off with a bouncing keyboard lead and Grammy winner John Konesky (Tenacious D, John Carpenter) responds with a singing solo. Mr. Haslip lights things up with a riveting solo about midway through just before Mr. Carpenter takes over and brings things home. The interplay between rhythm section and the soaring keyboard work is mesmerizing.
Cody Carpenter’s "Force of Nature" is an incredible second effort. The years of absorbing the influence of his father and the fusion masters have certainly brought sonic fruit in this 50-minute demonstration of power. There is clearly no slowing down this "Force of Nature”.
Low end powerhouse and former Yellowjacket backbone, Jimmy Haslip collaborates with pianist, composer, arranger and educator Otmaro Ruíz and virtuosic rhythm guru Jimmy Branly for a project that is a perfect mix of composition and broad audience appeal. Mastered by Grammy nominee Rich Breen (Herbie Hancock, Norah Jones, Peter Erskine, Charlie Haden and more), "elemental" is a current jazz classic bringing elements of old and new to keep fans on their toes.
Grammy nominee Otmaro Ruíz (2016), composer of most of the "elemental" tracks, holds an honorary doctorate from Shepherd University and has played with all the modern greats...Gino Vannelli, John McLaughlin, Tito Puente, Steve Winwood, John Patitucci, Vinnie Colaiuta just to name a few. Mr. Ruíz is regarded as one of the most sought-after keyboardists on the scene yet still finds time for teaching. He is a frequent guest clinician at Los Angeles Music Academy and Musician's Institute.
Jimmy Branly is from Cuba and began his studies at the Conservatory of Music in Havana Adolfo Guzman and ENA (National School of Art). Mr. Branly also has played with greats from all genres including Colin Hay, Abraham Laboriel, Michael Nezmith, John Patitucci, Doc Severinsen, Ricky Martin, Andy Garcia, Natalie Cole, Gloria Estefan, Emilio Estefan. He performed at The White House in 2013 a Latin presentation for President Obama.
Jimmy Haslip was a founding member and 32 year band mate of The Yellowjackets. Mr. Haslip has been nominated for 22 Grammy awards and has won 3. Over his 50+ years of playing, he has contributed to the biggest names in music over a plethora of genres (Jeff Lorber, David Sanborn, Jerry Garcia, Bruce Hornsby, Chaka Khan, Allan Holdsworth, Oz Noy to name a few)
"Elemental" opens with "A Good Start" and right out of the gate leaves listeners slack-jawed. The high energy mover leads with dramatic injections from both Mr. Branly and Mr. Ruíz. These lyrical jabs give way to a simple, soaring melody on keyboards that establishes the emotional trajectory for the rest of the song. The trio brings the audience up then down then back up again all the while compelling exquisite anticipation. The troupe rewards in the end with a crescendo of harmonic punches as "A Good Start" gives way to "Greed".
"Greed" leads with a coy, sly keyboard melody that is enticing. Mr. Branly and Mr. Haslip jump in quickly in a way that are both supportive and improvisational. The listener is left with a slightly uneasy feeling as the rhythm's presence rolls up and down and moves from support to spontaneous until Mr. Haslip steps out with a subdued but perfect solo. Mr. Branly rounds things out and brings it in as Mr. Ruíz's keyboards sail home.
"Elemental" is a fusion of the most talented jazz artists of our time. More than that, though, the resulting sound is clearly greater than the sum of it's parts. When asked to comment on the compilation, Otmaro Ruíz thought carefully and stated simply, "Music for All". Indeed...music for all.