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HABTEMARIAM UPPED TO CHAIRMAN/CEO AT MOTOWN
A new chapter for Hitsville USA (3/1a)
GRAMMY CHEW: THE
PRE-GRAMMY BOUNCE
Let's hear it for ironic guitar-smashing. (3/1a)
NEAR TRUTHS:
PIE IN THE SKY
The stream is irrigating a money tree. (3/1a)
ATTENTION, ALT PROGRAMMERS
KG thinks she's glimpsing a light at the end of the tunnel. (3/1a)
FREEDOM NOW AND OTHER JAMS, PART 4
Social justice through the lens of jazz (3/1a)
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
A jazz chronicle of fighting the power.
GRAMMYS: WHERE TO FROM HERE?
After the snubs, the show.
ACQUITTED
In a phenomenal display of cowardice.
MOVING THE NEEDLE
When vaccination schedules and touring schedules meet.
Critics' Choice
GEARBOX HITS NEW MILESTONES
2/24/21

Black-owned indie label Gearbox has operated with a vinyl-first ethos since being launched by Darrel Sheinman in 2009.

The London-based label, which focuses on jazz, electronic, funk, Americana, ambient and lo-fi soul, has accumulated over 50 releases in its 12+ years and is hitting new milestones this year, including opening its first office in Japan. 

“This is the second-largest music market after the U.S., and our music and products are a good fit there. Having a local presence will help us exploit the nuances of that market,” shared Sheinman.

Additionally, Gearbox inked its first Japanese artist, Chihei Hatakayama, released a series of 15 Japanese Editions with Japanese liner notes and obi strip, which are available in the U.S. with the last few arriving in March, as well as other limited vinyl series available on their direct shop.

The series includes repressed vinyl from legends likes Thelonious Monk, Buddy Rich and Abdullah Ibrahim as well as newcomers like Theon Cross and Butcher Brown, a previously released Don Cherry 1965 session, plus more. They also dropped a limited edition pressing of London duo Binker & Moses’ live album, Escape the Flames.

Mentored by Blue Note engineer Rudy Van Gelder, Sheinman has amassed the same gear that Van Gelder previously used, including a Studer C37 valve reel-to-reel tape machine. The studio also has direct-to-disc capabilities.

Audiophiles can learn more about Gearbox here.

A SURPRISE FROM RHIANNON GIDDENS
2/11/21

Rhiannon Giddens has a surprise new album They're Calling Me Home (Nonesuch) featuring Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi that will be released 4/9. Giddens has released a video for the title track.

Giddens and Turrisi have been holed up in Ireland since March due to the pandemic. Drawn to the music of their native and adoptive countries of America, Italy and Ireland, Giddens and Turrisi decamped to Hellfire, a small studio on a working farm outside of Dublin, to record 12 songs over six days.

TOWER OF POWER: FUNKY AT 50
2/11/21

Tower of Power’s celebration of its 50th anniversary—a two-night performance in Oakland in June 2018—will be released on video and various audio formats via Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Music Group.

The Hi-Res digital edition of 50 Years of Funk & Soul: Live at the Fox Theater–Oakland, CA–June 2018  will be available for streaming and download on Qobuz on 2/26; a three-LP set, a two-CD/DVD combo, a standalone DVD and digital offerings are set for 3/26.

For the shows, band leader/saxophonist Emilio Castillo invited several ToP alumni, among them saxophonist Lenny Pickett, keyboardist Chester Thompson, guitarist Bruce Conte and singer Ray Greene, who showed off his trombone prowess. The current lineup includes co-founder Stephen “Doc” Kupka on baritone sax and longtime drummer David Garibaldi.

The setlist includes the classics “You’re Still a Young Man,” “So Very Hard to Go,” “What is Hip?” and “Don’t Change Horses” to songs from recent albums on Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Music Group, Soul Side of Town (2018) and Step Up (2020).

“You can take the boy out of Oakland, but you can't take the Oakland out of the boy,” Castillo says. “We always called the East Bay, where we were from, the dark side of the Bay. It was more ethnic, with a lot of blacks, Hispanics and Asians, and soul was the thing there. So, we called our first album East Bay Grease and put a map of Oakland on the cover, which proved to be a really smart move. People all over the world started saying that we represent the Oakland soul sound.”