Shabaka Hutchings gets meditative and Pasquale Grasso goes bebop, in Take Five
Pasquale Grasso, "A Night in Tunisia"
For anyone familiar with the fleet fingerboard command of guitarist Pasquale Grasso, it should come as no surprise to learn that he's an absolute monster with the language of bebop. For those who aren't fully aware, there is Be-Bop! — Grasso's latest effort on Sony Masterworks, due out on June 17. Conceived as a tribute to Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, the album pushes Grasso's fretboard wizardry to the fore, even more than on his previous releases (which is saying something). First consider his complex articulation of the melody, and then behold the Birdlike solo break he takes just after the one-minute mark. Backed by his working rhythm team of bassist Ari Roland and drummer Keith Balla, Grasso makes Gillespie's tune sing.
The Pasquale Grasso Trio performs at Mezzrow on Monday, at The Django on Wednesday, and the Harold Prince Theater in Philadelphia on Thursday; tour dates.
Shabaka, "Black Meditation"
Shabaka Hutchings, the tenor saxophonist, clarinetist and flutist at the heart of the insurgent new London scene, has often stood at the front of a musical firestorm — often either in his carnival-rhythm wrecking crew Sons of Kemet or the electro-acoustic outfit The Comet is Coming. Hutchings' new solo release — Afrikan Culture, an eight-track digital EP that Impulse! will release on Friday — assumes a distinctly less confrontational air. The opening track and first single, "Black Meditation," captures the spirit with overdubbed layers of shakuhachi flutes, bass clarinets and percussion. It's an enveloping sound bath that encourages a listener to look within.
Chimytina feat. Joel Ross, "My Universe"
When last we heard from ChimyTina, they were bringing their sparkly innocence to the delivery of holiday songs. Now the winsome duo — singer Martina DaSilva and bassist Dan "Chimy" Chmielinski — is about to release Constellations, a a new full-length, via la reserve on June 17. Their guests on the album include saxophonists Grace Kelly and Lucas Pino, trumpeter Marquis Hill, guitarist Andrew Renfroe, and vibraphonist Joel Ross, who is featured on DaSilva's reflective, harmonically intriguing song "My Universe."
Florian Hoefner Trio, "The Day Everything Stopped"
"The Day Everything Stopped," a new track from pianist Florian Hoefner, refers to precisely what you'd expect. It's the first single from a new album, Desert Bloom, which will be released on the Alma label on June 3, and it speaks to the abrupt sensation of lockdown. But as Hoefner explains in press materials, it also reflects some of the study he embarked on in pandemic time — notably in relation to post-minimalist composers, and their strategies of droning pedal points and motivic repetition. "These devices also helped me to capture my experience during the early days of the pandemic, which was dominated by the contrast between an unruly and dramatic outside world and a much quieter personal world," he says. Keep that in mind as you absorb the crystalline interplay between Hoefner, bassist Andrew Downing and drummer Nick Fraser.
Vieux Farka Touré, "Ngala Kaourene"
The Malian guitar guru Vieux Farqua Touré has traveled the world, collaborating widely and exploring many avenues of sound — but he always operates from a core of West African musical traditions. His forthcoming album, Les Racines, due out June 10 on World Circuit Records, honors that root system explicitly. Recorded at Touré's home studio in Bamako, it's a labor of love and deep study that gestures at times toward his late father, the musical titan Ali Farka Touré. But while the music rings of desert blues, it also speaks to contemporary issues; "Ngala Kaourene," the third single, is a case in point. "Today my country Mali is going through a difficult situation," Touré says in a press statement. "All I ask of my brothers is to give each other their hand, whatever your ethnic group. Let's reconcile for a way out of the crisis. Only unity creates strength. Let's make peace. It is in peace that we can flourish."
Viex Farqua Touré will perform at Le Poisson Rouge in New York on Friday, and at World Café Live in Philadelphia on Saturday; see his full tour itinerary.