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Shameless Promotion of Local Artists: Bay Area Recordings in 2018

December 17, 2018

Welcome to SFCV's 2018 year-end roundup of recordings released this year by local artists. Our list isn’t limited to classical music: We’ve embraced everything from Baroque music to jazz to Celtic, folk, blues, and bluegrass. We can't claim that our roster is comprehensive, but we tried to provide a solid sample of the area's musical wealth. There is so much great music here that we aren't able to hear or review over the year, and this is one way for us to catch up.

We offer this listing with no editorializing or reviews: Blurbs are drawn primarily from artist and label promotional materials. Album titles and cover images are linked to sites with more information and purchasing options. We hope you find something new and interesting as you peruse the listing. Take a chance and enjoy the diversity of sounds available here.  Visit us on Facebook to add your comments and suggestions, and please share this with your musical friends.


Leila Abdul-Rauf

Diminution

Diminution, Leila Abdul-Rauf’s third solo album, sees the Bay Area-based, multi-instrumentalist take a more stripped-down approach to her uniquely haunting and shadowy soundscapes. With an atmosphere of urban loneliness and early morning solitude, the tracks are generally longer than Abdul-Rauf’s previous works and feel more spacious and open. Sparse melodies and gentle textural flow meet ethereal choral vocals, distant trumpet, delicate guitar, and melancholy drones.


Actual Trio

Act II

The Actual Trio is a vehicle for the compositions of iconoclastic Bay Area guitarist John Schott (Junk Genius, T.J. Kirk). Bassist Dan Seamans (New Klezmer Trio, Lost Trio), and drummer John Hanes (Henry Kaiser, Victor Krummenacher) provide the foundation for Schott’s adventurous-but-accessible compositions, marrying deep pockets and joyful swing to wayward harmonies and spontaneous excursions.  


Mark Abel

Time and Distance

Sonoma composer Mark Abel offers listeners food for thought with his signature fusion of classical, rock, and jazz and powerful content. Grammy-winning soprano Hila Plitmann brings her full emotional range to three Abel works, including Those Who Loved Medusa, a powerful story and evocative musical setting that connects ancient Greek legend with our present days #MeToo movement. Other tracks include In the Rear-View Mirror Now and Warmth fills The Ocean of Forgiveness, a cycle sung by mezzo-soprano Janelle DeStefano.


John Adams

Dr. Atomic

In this first recording of John Adams’s 2005 opera, the composer leads the BBC Singers and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, with a cast led by Gerald Finley, who originated the role of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Longtime Adams collaborator Peter Sellars created the libretto, drawing from original sources to explore the final hours leading up to the first atomic bomb explosion at the Alamagordo test site in New Mexico in July 1945. The recording received a Grammy nomination for best opera recording.


Admiral Launch Duo

Launch

The Admiral Launch Duo explores new sounds for harp and saxophone through improvisation and direct collaboration with composers. On their debut album on Albany Records, saxophonist Jonathan Hulting-Cohen and harpist Jennifer R. Ellis present their interpretation of pieces by Yusef Lateef, Angélica Negrón, Ida Gotkovsky, Marcel Tournier, Stephen Rush, Natalie Moller, Patrick O’Malley, Christine Delphine Hedden, and Jasper Sussman.


Alexander String Quartet with Kindra Scharich

In meinem Himmel: The Mahler Song Cycles

The award-winning Alexander String Quartet joins with acclaimed mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich in this world premiere recording of some of Mahler's great orchestral Lieder transcribed for voice and string quartet by Zakarias Grafilo. Commissioned by Lieder Alive!, these exquisite transcriptions combine the lushness of the orchestral versions with the intimacy of chamber music.
Read the SFCV review.


Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet

Landfall

Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet’s Landfall, inspired by her experience of Hurricane Sandy, is the first collaboration between the iconic storyteller/musician and the groundbreaking string quartet, who perform together on the recording. Landfall juxtaposes lush electronics and traditional strings by Kronos with Anderson’s powerful descriptions of loss, from water-logged pianos to disappearing animal species to Dutch karaoke bars.
Read the SFCV review.


Tiffany Austin

Unbroken

Unbroken confirms the Bay Area vocalist’s status as one of jazz’s elite singers and a formidable songwriter as well. The album is both a timeless meditation on African-American culture’s extraordinary resilience and an all-too-timely response to the reenergized forces seeking to degrade and deny that legacy. Produced by Grammy Award-winning jazz champion Richard Seidel, the album features arrangements by trombonist Mitch Butler. He’s joined by a stellar cast of jazz veterans, including pianist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist Rodney Whitaker, drummer Carl Allen, and tenor saxophonist Teodross Avery, along with young trumpeter Ashlin Parker.


Mason Bates

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs

In The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, Bay Area composer Mason Bates and librettist Mark Campbell explore the spiritual evolution of one of the most influential men of modern times as he creates a revolutionary new world of technological empowerment, then discovers a larger world within himself. Like Steve Jobs, composer Mason Bates is an innovator whose creativity breaks through boundaries, combining traditional orchestration with electronics in ways that have made him one of the most sought-after and widely programmed composers in the United States.


Brass Magic

Fanfare

The Oakland-based “horns and drums” band builds on its foundation of integrating nontraditional grooves, textures, and influences into the brass band tradition. Fanfare finds Brass Magic in an exploratory phase, with a new willingness to depart from strictly dance music. The recording features saxophonists Raffi Garabedian (tenor) and Joseph Hartnett (alto), trumpeters Max Miller-Lorin and Ross Eustis, trombonists Danny Lubin-Laden (founder of Brass Magic) and Rob Ewing, tubist Jonathan Seiberlich, and drummer Adam Starkopf, as well as guest vocalist Kaila Baće.


Cappella SF

Timeless

Timeless is the ensemble’s third album for Delos. Director Ragnar Bohlin offers choral fans and history-minded classical-music aficionados an audio tour of choral compositions touching on every musical period of the past millennium. Selections range from the chant-based music of Hildegard von Bingen and Guillaume de Machaut to stunning pieces by such distinguished living composers as Arvo Part, Eric Whitacre, Frank Ticheli, and Ola Gjeilo.


Chanticleer

Then and There / Hear and Now

Chanticleer celebrates its 40th anniversary with their latest offering. Recorded at Skywalker Sound, the album features recordings of longtime ensemble favorites including works by Palestrina, Victoria, Stucky, Sametz, and Bates, and popular arrangements by Jennings, McGlynn, and others. The recording represents the expansive aesthetic of Chanticleer’s repertoire, from the earliest music to the most recent, some of its favorite composers and arrangers, and the blend of male voices from soprano to contrabass that makes it unique. Read the SFCV review.


Charmas

Stark Raving Celtic

According to Charmas, the group originally set out to record their best stage music from the years 2013–2017. But once the band started inviting contributions from its past members, theme show guests, and local musician friends, the project grew far beyond anyone's expectations. Stark Raving Celtic is described as a “concept album” that features “rocketing instrumentals, evocative laments and whimsical ballads transport Celtic music from its traditional roots into the 21st century.”


Sasha Cooke

Live

In this special release, internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke showcases a selection of unforgettable performances from past [email protected] chamber music festivals. The diverse repertoire includes songs from Barber, Brahms, and Britten, De Falla, and Bolcom, plus Henry T. Burleigh’s arrangements of traditional spirituals. [email protected] artists featured include pianists Inon Barnatan, Gilbert Kalish, and Wu Han, as well as violist Paul Neubauer and guitarist Jason Vieaux.


The Crooked Jades

Empathy Moves the Water

Empathy Moves the Water emphasizes the lonesome in “high-lonesome’ music. The band’s old-time roots reflect the cultural melange and longing implicit in the shadows of America — from haunting ballads punctuated by hypnotic fiddles that express isolation and humanity lost in a rapidly changing land, to the high energy revival songs inspired by early rural gospel and blues music. Reaffirming their reputation as an innovative old-time string band, The Crooked Jades create a unique and soulful modern sound by exploring the roots of Americana and interweaving the diverse musical influences of Europe and Africa.


Crying Uncle Bluegrass Band

Crying Uncle

With a burgeoning reputation as one of the finest young acoustic bands on the Bay Area scene, Crying Uncle Bluegrass Band plays bluegrass classics and more with youthful energy and a signature sound. Amazing instrumentals and tight vocal harmonies make this a band to watch. Winners of Arizona’s 2018 Pickin’ in the Pines Band Contest, CUBG features Alameda's Miles and Teo Quale — National and State Champion fiddlers and pickers — joined by award-winning bassist Andrew Osborn and former CBA Youth Ambassador guitarist John Gooding.


Lisa Delan

A Certain Slant of Light

Soprano Lisa Delan’s latest release, A Certain Slant of Light, features musical settings of Emily Dickinson poems by four outstanding American composers: Aaron Copland, Gordon Getty, Jake Heggie, and Michael Tilson Thomas. The collection of songs featured on this album reveals the diversity of Dickinson’s oeuvre, as well as the rich 20th- and 21st-century tradition of American art song composition. Delan is accompanied by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille under the baton of Lawrence Foster.


Electric Squeezebox Orchestra

The Falling Dream

For their second recording, the Electric Squeezebox Orchestra went into the legendary Fantasy Studios in Berkeley for a marathon two-day session that captured the band’s eclectic spirit through nine original compositions along with an arrangement of McCoy Tyner’s “Señor Carlos.” Led by trumpeter Erik Jekabson, the band has held down Sunday nights for three years at Doc’s Lab in North Beach, where they built a formidable book of originals and creative arrangements, a dynamic group aesthetic, and a loyal fan-base ready for anything.


Elements

The Alchemy

This is the second CD from global chamber jazz trio, Elements, comprising American saxophonist and composer, George Brooks; North Indian violinist and vocalist, Kala Ramnath; and Dutch harp virtuoso, Gwyneth Wentink. Their dynamic and adventurous music bridges cultures and genres, drawing inspiration from a wide spectrum of rich musical heritages. Innovative compositions inspired by Indian ragas, western minimal music and contemporary improvisation unify the aesthetics of Europe, India and the Americas.


Ensemble for These Times

The Hungarians: From Rózsa to Justus

Ensemble for These Times released their second recording as a digital EP. It includes music by three Hungarian (and one Hungarian-American) composers who were exiled or killed in the Holocaust: multiple-Oscar-recipient Miklós Rózsa (1907–1995), Sándor Vándor (1901–1945), Lajos Delej (1923–1945), and György Justus (1898–1945). Featuring duos for cello and piano by Rozsa and Vandor — plus a Scherzo from a missing cello sonata attributed to Delej — songs by Vandor and Justus for soprano and piano, and the premiere recording of a recently rediscovered set of piano miniatures by Delej, the CD is the result of the group’s successful four-city concert tour in Hungary in 2014, which was sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Budapest.


Topher Gayle

Fiddle in a Tree

Santa Rosa multi-instrumentalist Topher Gayle’s latest is a collection of mostly original instrumental tunes that explores a variety of moods and styles. Joined by jazz violinist Julian Smedley, bassist Chuck Ervin, bassist Louisa Knabe, and accordionist David Lange, Gayle’s tunes range from the strutting, bluesy “Lobster Stroll,” to the David Grisman-inflected “Dark and Stormy,” to the serene, jazzy “Blue Heron.” Three waltzes round out the program he describes as “alternately toe-tapping, quirky, sweet, and funky.”


Gordon Getty

Beauty Come Dancing

Beauty Come Dancing is composer Gordon Getty’s new album of choral works, described as “an ode to love and dance.” Love and dance permeate this collection of new music, which pays  homage to the romantic and elegant traditions abounding in the latter half of the 19th century.  Getty finds inspiration in the poetry of John Keats, Lord Byron, John Masefield, Sara Teasdale, Edwin Arlington Robinson, and Ernest Christopher Dowson. These settings sit alongside choral treatments of three of Getty’s original poems, plus his arrangement of traditional favorite “Shenandoah.” Read the SFCV review.


Gravenstein Mandolin Ensemble

Sweet Harvest

The Bay Area is the epicenter of the American mandolin resurgence, and there is even a San Francisco festival dedicated to all the mandolin-centric groups and soloists in the area. The Gravenstein Mandolin Ensemble, based in Sonoma County, has been the primary California wine-country mandolin orchestra for over 10 years. Playing with spirit and a sense of fun, they search out moving and exciting music that is well-suited to their blend of mandolins, mandolas, mandocellos, guitar, and bass. Their worldwide repertoire includes music from the Classical Era to modern compositions for mandolins, traditional Jewish music, Brazilian choro, Mexican marches, and more.


Larry Hanks

Last Wagon

Larry Hanks is a stalwart of the Bay Area folk scene, and his sonorous baritone voice and refined fingerpicking guitar style have graced countless stages and numerous recordings over the decades. In talking about his new album, he says, “I had conceived of this album being about Western migration: trapping, mining, cowboys, and farming. But, the collection turned out to be mostly cowboy songs with a few others tossed in for a little balance.” This collection includes many of Hanks’s most-requested songs, each presented simply and elegantly with just voice and guitar.


Richard Howell and Sudden Changes

Coming of Age — Mangaku

Richard Howell is a Bay Area treasure who has come into his own as a bandleader after decades of producing and supporting other artists. The new recording has a strong spiritual component and is an album of honest original Richard Howell compositions. The record introduces Howell’s youngest son, Elé Salif Howell, a spirited teenaged drummer joined by the virtuosic pianist Frederick Harris, veteran bassist Ravi Abcarian and scorching alto saxophonist Charles McNeal,with an appearance from “stretch music” pioneer trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah.


Jubilee

Jubilee

Known for their relentless groove and breathtaking improvisation, this group of young, award-winning musicians bring a fresh approach to traditional bluegrass, old-time, and even work their genre-bending magic on a little jazz and funk. Jubilee has performed perform through the Bay Area’s folk and bluegrass venues and were featured recently at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, North Carolina. The band comprises the Quale brothers Miles (age 14, on fiddle and vocals) and Teo (age 12, on mandolin and vocals) from Alameda, with the Walker twins Aerie (cello) and Tuki (fiddle, vocals), both 15.


Kitka

Evening Star

Kitka, the venerable Bay Area vocal-arts ensemble is inspired by traditional songs and vocal techniques from Eastern Europe, is celebrating its 39th season. Evening Star's 22-track playlist includes sacred and secular pieces inspired by cosmic wonders and earthly rituals of the winter season. This collection features meticulously researched and creatively arranged songs sung in Bulgarian, Russian, Romanian, Georgian, Yiddish, Latvian, Serbian, Ukrainian, Mingrelian, Svan, Laz, and Greek interspersed with sonic surprises to delight the ear and stir the soul.


Masaru Koga

Flower Fire

Multi-instrumental woodwind player Masaru Koga is known for his creative and cross-cultural influences in the Bay Area jazz scene. Flower Fire marks his first album as a leader, featuring seasoned and accomplished band members who bring vibrant life to his original compositions. The title is a literal translation of the characters used in the Japanese word “hanabi” (花火). Koga reflects on the intricate and beautiful parallels between life and hanabi through his original compositions. Each of the ten pieces is dedicated to moments, memories, feelings, and people, like a burst of illuminations in the dark skies.


Kronos Quartet

Michael Gordon: Clouded Yellow

Over the course of a decade, Michael Gordon has collaborated with the world-renowned Kronos Quartet on a series of provocative works that have sought to stretch, bend and otherwise reshape the boundaries of modern classical music. Clouded Yellow assembles these works for the first time, perfectly encapsulating the breadth and complexity of this long-standing creative partnership. The album features four pieces: the title track (composed in 2010), Exalted (2010), The Sad Park (2006) and Potassium (2000). The title of the first refers to the clouded yellow butterfly, which is known in England for its mass migrations; the word “clouded” is also meant to describe the blurred harmonies and melodies of the piece.


Evie Ladin

Riding the Rooster

Singer-songwriter, body percussionist, step dancer, and banjo maven Evie Ladin’s latest project is a collection of mostly traditional old-time fiddle and banjo duets with 17 of her favorite fiddlers — some from here in the Bay Area, others from far-flung corners of the country. Ladin describes the process of making the album: “This record is a field recording — a good visit, mostly unrehearsed, looking for that vibe, that energy, the beautiful confluence of fiddle and banjo that draws me back into the music forever, no matter how far I take it. My favorite thing in this milieu is to sit down with a fiddler and launch fast into some crooked tune I’ve never heard. Every cell kicks in, and the experience is as much like I imagine riding a rooster to be — visceral, in the moment, somewhat off the chain.”


Los Cenzontles and Shira Kammen

A la mar

Subtitled “Reconnecting Early European and Mexican Roots,” this album brings together the Bay Area band and cultural arts center with indefatigable early music string player Shira Kammen. Los Cenzontles founder Eugene Rodriguez, who studied with S.F. Conservatory guitarist David Tanenbaum, conceived of the project, which fits well with a number of recent releases in early music connecting traditional folk music to Baroque and earlier classical traditions. Kammen sounds completely at home on tracks like “El Siquisirí,” and even more on tracks where the band is in full cry and she is playing an obligato line. Perhaps most striking is the dirgelike “El Zacamandú,” in which Kammen plays vielle against the voices of Lucina Rodriguez and Fabiola Trujillo over a drone bass. Some of the son jarocho numbers seem to gain depth in this context as well. 


Mercury Rising

Waltz of Wings

Waltz of Wings brings you the hot dance music of contra dance band Mercury Rising, with Topher Gayle (mandolin, guitar, doumbek, octave mandolin), Lee Anne Welch (fiddle), and Ruth Anne Fraley (piano). The trio interprets a selection of Gayle’s original compositions, mixed with classic and new dance repertoire. As they describe it: “Stomping reel sets alternate with grooving jig sets and waltzes in the way that Mercury Rising fans have come to love.”


Reginald Mobley and Agave Baroque

Peace in Our Time

Acclaimed countertenor Reginald Mobley joins the Agave Baroque: Aaron Westman, violin; Natalie Carducci, violin and viola; Anna Washburn, violin and viola; Katherine Kyme, viola; William Skeen, viola da gamba; Kevin Cooper, theorbo; Henry Lebedinsky, organ). The material is described as “music of love and loss in the shadow of the Thirty Years’ War.” Read the SFCV review of the CD-release concert.


Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret

The Other Side of Air

Bay Area pianist Myra Melford — whom the New Yorker called “a stalwart of the new-jazz movement” – has spent the last three decades making brilliant original music, in equal parts challenging and engaging. She has explored an array of formats, from dynamic solo-piano recitals to deeply interactive small groups and even the swinging grandeur of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. But it’s her quintet Snowy Egret that best defines her artistry in 2018: “I really feel like it’s the vehicle that expresses where I am as a composer, performer and bandleader right now,” she says.


Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale

Le Temple de la Gloire (The Temple of Glory)

In this world premiere recording, music director and conductor Nicholas McGegan, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale, and an international cast of French Baroque opera stars present Jean-Philippe Rameau’s original 1745 version of Le Temple de la Gloire, with libretto by Voltaire. Presented as a fully staged opera in April 2017, the three sold-out performances enjoyed universal critical acclaim from some of the world’s leading publications. Read SFCV’s review of the performance.


Quartet San Francisco

A QSF Journey

Founded in 2001 by violinist and composer Jeremy Cohen, Quartet San Francisco excels in multiple styles, from jazz to tango, pop to funk, blues to bluegrass, gypsy swing to big band and beyond. On this new release they journey into the chamber music of the 21st century. The 12 tracks on the album include nine written or arranged by Cohen. Seven are world premieres, and another three are world premieres in string quartet form. The performances have been captured in natural audiophile sound by Reference Recordings own award-winning engineering team: Keith O. Johnson and Sean Royce Martin. A QSF Journey was recorded May 2018 at Skywalker Sound in Marin County, California. QSF s last four releases garnered three Grammy nominations.


Joshua Redman

Still Dreaming

Joshua Redman is joined by drummer Brian Blade, bassist Scott Colley, and trumpeter Ron Miles for Still Dreaming, an album inspired by his father Dewey Redman's band Old and New Dreams. That band had an all-star lineup of Ornette Coleman collaborators: Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, and Ed Blackwell. Still Dreaming features six new compositions by the new band plus one tune by Haden, one by Coleman.


Rebecca Richman

Rebecca Richman

Santa Rosa fiddler Rebecca Richman has been playing since she was old enough to hold the instrument. Richman has explored numerous styles of music, including some formal training at Mills College in Oakland, but her main emphasis has been on the music of Scotland and Ireland. Several years ago, she immersed herself into the deep pool of traditional Appalachian fiddling. After several visits to that region, especially the famous fiddle camp in Cliff Top, West Virginia, she now brings a refreshing perspective to the old tunes. She is joined by Marin County’s Kyle Alden, who produced the project and plays guitar and keyboards.  


Anne Sajdera

New Year

What started for Anne Sajdera as a simple visit to her ancestors’ homeland in Central Europe became a revitalizing musical journey. Over the past two decades the conservatory-trained San Francisco pianist has created a luminous body of original, improvisation-laced compositions deeply informed by her love of the verdant Brazilian songbook. But with New Year, she has opened another creative chapter shaped by her ongoing collaboration with a brilliant cast of Czech jazz artists. More than a voyage of self-discovery, her Czech sojourn has turned into a creatively charged musical bridge between Prague and the Bay Area.


San Francisco Girls Chorus

Final Answer

San Francisco Girls Chorus, conducted by Valerie Sainte-Agathe, offers this new recording features music by composers Philip Glass, Lisa Bielawa, Gabriel Kahane, John Zorn, Carla Kihlstedt, Aleksandra Vrebalov, Sahba Aminikia, Matthew Welch, and Theo Bleckmann. It includes remarkable performances by featured performers including the Kronos Quartet, Andy Meyerson on vibraphone, Matthew Welch on bagpipes, and vocalist Theo Bleckmann.


SFJAZZ Collective

Live: SFJAZZ Center 2017

Recorded over four nights at the SFJAZZ Center from October 26–29, 2017, this collection consists of one CD of new pieces composed by each member of the current SFJAZZ Collective with a second CD of fresh versions of selections from the Collective’s vast trove of tunes including Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk and Stevie Wonder arranged over the years by former SFJAZZ Collective members, saxophonist Joshua Redman, trumpeter Dave Douglas, arranger Gil Goldstein, and trumpeter Avishai Cohen, for the current SFJAZZ Collective members.


SFJAZZ High School All-Stars Big Band and Combo

High School All-Stars 2017–2018

The SFJAZZ High School All-Stars is a top-tier training program presented by SFJAZZ Education. Participants are chosen by competitive audition each year from schools throughout the greater Bay Area. The All-Stars program is comprised of two ensembles: the Big Band, led by Paul Contos, and the Combo, led by Dann Zinn. Both ensembles rehearse weekly at the SFJAZZ Center, and take part in performances, recording sessions, festivals, and competitions each year, both in California and throughout the United States.


Sheldon Brown Group

Blood of the Air

Alto saxophonist and clarinetist Sheldon Brown and his group present a set “based on the poetry and speech melodies of Surrealist poet Philip Lamantia. It celebrates the spontaneous natural music of the spoken word and a freedom of imagination usually relegated to dreams. Philip Lamantia (1927–2005), whose mystical work is noted for its wild imagery, is widely considered America’s greatest Surrealist poet. The ensemble includes Darren Johnson on trumpet, Lorin Benedict on voice, Andrew Joron on theremin, Dave MacNab and John Finkbeiner on electric guitars, Jonathan Alford on piano, Michael Wilcox on bass, and Vijay Anderson and Alan Hall on drums.


Edward Simon

Sorrows and Triumphs

Pianist-composer Edward Simon, a native of Venezuela, has made a name for himself over decades in America as a jazz improviser, composer-arranger, and bandleader, with his profile heightening in recent years as he has explored the commonalities of jazz with the folkloric sounds of Latin America. His Sorrows and Triumphs features Afinidad, his quartet with alto saxophonist David Binney, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade. The richly textured recording also colored by very special guests: vocalist Gretchen Parlato, guitarist Adam Rogers, and chamber quintet Imani Winds.


SLUGish Ensemble

An Eight out of Nine

For SLUGish Ensemble’s debut album, Steven Lugerner revisited a selection of “go-to” nostalgic recordings by many of his favorite artists. “I started to make a list of songs that tugged at my heart, soul and ears. The collection of songs on this album are all songs that have been deeply embedded in my musical ethos, play after play.” Lugerner also wanted to explore arranging a “non-jazz” book of repertoire for a completely instrumental, jazz-rooted ensemble as with SLUGish. Lugerner loosely borrowed a compositional technique from Dirty Projectors’ Dave Longstreth, where one re-creates a song from memory, after a long span of time without listening to it as a crutch. This is the underpinning of An Eight Out Of Nine.


Kristen Strom

Moving Day: The Music of John Shifflett

John Shifflett (1955–2017) John Shifflett was a beloved bassist, well-known as the sideman in many of the Bay Area’s foremost ensembles and for traveling jazz dignitaries. Kept more as a guarded secret was his compositional skills and library of compelling and varied pieces of music. Saxophonist Kristen Strom, guitarist Scott Sorkin and drummer Jason Lewis played with John in their quartet and on countless other projects over the last 25 years. For this deeply heartfelt tribute to their friend, Kristen, Scott, and Jason have arranged a collection of his compositions and brought together some of his esteemed Bay Area colleagues to perform, record, and celebrate his music.


Telegraph Quartet

Into the Light

This release features 20th-century string quartets that are among the finest of the era. The Telegraph Quartet (Eric Chin and Joseph Maile, violins; Pei-Ling Lin, viola; Jeremiah Shaw, cello) formed in 2013 with an equal passion for the standard chamber music repertoire and contemporary, nonstandard works alike. The Telegraph Quartet was awarded the prestigious 2016 Walter W. Naumburg Chamber Music Award and the Grand Prize at the 2014 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. Currently, the group is Quartet-in-Residence at the San Francisco Conservatory. Read SFCV’s review of the recording.


Vadalma

Music of Elderflowers

The Bay Area group recorded their latest project in Budapest in 2018. The album features traditional Hungarian folk songs in unique handmade settings, with both traditional and original accompaniment. Vadalma learned the songs directly from village singers across the Carpathian Basin, and re-imagined them with new frames, crafted to cherish the richness of this music. Musicians include Zina Bozzay (voice, arrangements), Matthew Szemela (violin), and Misha Khalikulov (cello), with guests Éva Fábián (voice, ütőgardon, the percussive cello from Transylvania), Andrea Navratil (voice), and Gergely Agócs (Transdanubian long flute).


Hristo Vitchev

Of Lights and Shadows

Hristo Vitchev is an impressionistic modern jazz guitarist and composer from Sofia, Bulgaria, now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Hristo leads a variety of modern jazz formations, ranging from duets to quintets. He has written more than 270 original compositions, many articles on jazz improvisation, and a book on chordal theory and construction titled Between the Voicings: A New Approach to Chord Building for Guitarists. His newest release is described as “impressionistic modern jazz with elements of Romantic, Classical, and progressive rock.”


Joe Weed

Two Steps West of the Mississippi

Joe Weed is a producer, multi-instrumentalist, recording artist, and writer. He has released seven albums of his own, and his productions have been used by Ken Burns, PBS, NPR, the Martin Guitar Company, and at Arlington National Cemetery. Joe has composed music for film scores at the Lincoln Museum, the National Steinbeck Center, and many others. His latest project is inspired by the two-step dances still practiced by dancers in rural dance halls. According to Weed, “For many years, I have loved playing two-steps at country dance halls. These tunes provide a mellow groove that allows couples the freedom to express their individuality while following a common beat.” He’s joined on the recording by a who’s-who of traditional American folk music, including Norton Buffalo, Matt Flinner, David Grier, Todd Phillips, and Rob Ickes.


Denny Zeitlin

Wishing on the Moon

The revered pianist describes the genesis of his most-recent recording: "By 2009, Buster Williams, Matt Wilson, and I had been performing as a trio for eight years, and this recording of a night at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola captures some of our best music-full of surprise, exploration, confidence, excitement, nuance, and empathy. The program has some of my favorite originals and standards. I had recorded all of them previously; they have always provided a special springboard into improvisation."

Paul Kotapish is the managing editor for SFCV.  You can learn more here or at guitarfish.net.

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