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Enlightened Planet » Jazz http://www.enlightenedplanet.com Showcasing great music in Southeast Asia! Tue, 25 Mar 2014 15:16:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Now Here This: A legendary guitarist producing great new music http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/2014-03/now-here-this-a-legendary-guitarist-producing-great-new-music/ http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/2014-03/now-here-this-a-legendary-guitarist-producing-great-new-music/#comments Sun, 02 Mar 2014 09:35:23 +0000 http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/?p=2688 John McLaughlinJohn McLaughlin will be making his first-ever appearances on stage in Thailand on March 17 and 18, 2014, with his latest band The 4th Dimension.  The CD Now Here This is garnering great reviews, but, after all, it’s hard to avoid superlatives when speaking of John and his long and incredible career in music.

“John McLaughlin is one of the most celebrated, widely regarded guitarists in jazz history, and one that helped to change the music forever in the same way that Wes Montgomery and Jim Hall did before him.” – Thom Jurek, All Music Guide

“McLaughlin was peerless, mixing psychedelic rock, R&B, gypsy jazz, flamenco and Indian raga techniques. That polyglot mastery earned him huge respect from jazz and rock peers alike.” – Rolling Stone, 100 Greatest Guitarists

“The modal jazz, jazz-rock, fusion and the ever-present blues that has largely defined McLaughlin’s unique five-decade musical adventure are all in the mix, though artfully distilled to maximize melody and lyricism…  The 4th Dimension has evolved to a point where the sky’s the limit.  In concert?  Surely unmissable.” – Ian Patterson, All About Jazz

John McLaughlin was 27 years old when he arrived in New York City from his native England in 1969.  He had landed a gig with Tony Williams Lifetime after catching the eye of Jack DeJohnette at a jam session at Ronnie Scott’s club in London…  and that gig with Tony resulted in an introduction to Miles Davis, and an immediate invitation to participate in the In A Silent Way sessions.  He could not possibly have found his way into the bubbling cauldron of electric jazz-rock fusion any faster!  The resulting recordings, like Tony Williams Lifetime’s Emergency! and Miles’s Bitches Brew are still considered revolutionary.

In John’s own words, “After a club date in Boston in 1970 with Miles, he tells me it’s time to form my own band.”  From that simple statement a monster is born:  Mahavishnu Orchestra.  It might be hard today to understand the impact that this band had.  Here was a raw, powerful, rock-loud, instrumental band, with virtuosi at every position, playing electricified jazz one minute, and beautiful, haunting ballads the next.  With drummer extraordinaire Billy Cobham and bass player Rick Laird driving the rhythm, violinist Jerry Goodman and keyboard player Jan Hammer joined John on some incredible flights of fancy.  Audiences were mesmerized.  Their second studio LP, Birds of Fire, recorded in August 1972, made it to #15 on the US album charts.

My personal introduction to John’s music actually came through a slightly different angle, though:  Carlos Santana.  Santana had begun making his own foray into jazz-fusion, and I was a huge and immediate fan of his album Caravanserai, which finished recording in May 1972.  Shortly after recording Birds of Fire, McLaughlin and Santana brought together several members of their respective bands, plus organist Larry Young from Tony Wiliams Lifetime, and recorded Love Devotion Surrender.  Thom Jurek, in All Music Guide, says “After three decades it still sounds completely radical and stunningly, movingly beautiful… the interplay of two men who were not merely playing tribute to John Coltrane, but trying to take his ideas about going beyond the realm of Western music to communicate with the language of the heart as it united with the cosmos.”  Yes…  big stuff.

It wasn’t until the early 1980’s in Houston that I first had an opportunity to see John play a live concert, and by then it was in an entirely different musical setting:  the acoustic guitar trio with Al DiMeola and Paco de Lucia, touring on the back of the extraordinary album Friday Night in San Francisco.  Then in the mid 1990’s I caught John and the Free Spirits, with Dennis Chambers on drums and Joey DeFrancesco on Hammond organ and trumpet, at the Singapore Arts Festival.  There are so many more groups I would have loved to have seen:  Shakti with Zakir Hussain, the trio with Elvin Jones, The Heart Of Things with Dennis Chambers and Matt Garrison…

Enlightened Planet exists today because I want to share the music I love.  It is so great to have a chance to present John McLaughlin in Thailand, after already having produced events in Southeast Asia with a couple of John’s former drummer colleagues, Billy Cobham and Dennis Chambers.  And on Enlightened Planet Facebook page this month I am treating everyone to a “history lesson” in John’s music…  hopefully lending some audio and video context to this gushing post!

Which brings us to the present day…  and The 4th Dimension.  I believe this latest album is John’s best electric work in a long time.  But don’t just take MY word for it:

“Nearly a half-century after he first started gigging in the U.K., McLaughlin retains the dazzling technique and articulation that established him as a guitar hero with Miles in the late ’60s and stunned with Mahavishnu Orchestra in the ’70s.  Now Here This, his second album with The 4th Dimension – Gary Husband (keys, drums), Ranjit Barot (drums) and Etienne M’Bappe (electric bass) – treads as close to classic Mahavishnu fusion territory as McLaughlin has ventured in many a year…  Like Billy Cobham and Tony Williams before him, Barot is a juggernaut but he’s also got plenty of ideas about how to ride a melody.  In collusion with funkmeister M’Bappe and the highly rhythmic Husband, he gives McLaughlin a hell of a lot to work with here:  The 4th Dimension is the guitarist’s most imposing electric band since those heady days of 40 years back.” – Jeff Tamarkin, JazzTimes

Come out Monday, March 17th to Overtone Club at RCA in Bangkok at 7pm for John’s Guitar Workshop (with Gary Husband on keyboards)…  and then join The 4th Dimension for the full concert on March 18th at M Theatre at 8pm!  The Thailand shows are presented by Prart Music Group, and are part of the wider Asia Tour 2014 which is being managed by the good folks at AbstractLogix.  Tickets are available for the Bangkok shows at ThaiTicketMajor or contact Prart Music Group on +66-2-2030423.

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Filling the Jazz Happens Bar with Excess Luggage… http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/2012-11/filling-the-jazz-happens-bar-with-excess-luggage/ http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/2012-11/filling-the-jazz-happens-bar-with-excess-luggage/#comments Sun, 18 Nov 2012 16:05:58 +0000 http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/?p=2250 It’s always been Enlightened Planet’s goal to bring interesting musicians from around the world to perform in Asia in general, and in Thailand in particular. For seven years now we’ve tried to establish connections to make it easy to get things done when the chances arise.

So, when a Norwegian keyboard player that I know through Australian expat friends in Shanghai and who’s recorded with friends in New York called me on Skype when I was sitting in Sydney and says he needed a gig in Bangkok in two weeks… I just sent a few emails to my Thai promoter and venue owner friends and hoped it would work out. And, in this case, it did…

On November 20th at 9:00pm, Enlightened Planet joins together with Jazz Happens Bar to present Excess Luggage!

Excess Luggage is three highly-regarded Norwegian jazz musicians who pooled their talents together to create a trio based on Hammond B3 organ, piano, and drums. To say this is an “uncommon lineup” is perhaps an understatement… but once they tried it out they discovered that they loved the combination of the “groovy feel of the organ trio with the harmonic and melodic style of the piano trio”, and they wondered why it wasn’t a lineup that was used more often in contemporary jazz.

Of course, the resulting group name says everything about an organ, piano, and drums trio: who’d want to travel with that much “Excess Luggage”?

The organist, Steinar Nickelsen, was elected “Young Norwegian Jazz Musician of the Year” in 2002 with the trio “SOLID!”, which also won the Getxo competition in Spain in 2003. He toured with Trondheim Jazzorchestra and Pat Metheny in 2003. His 2007 CD Nickelsen Trio “Mis en Bouteille au New York” featured Lage Lund and Ari Hoenig.

Vigleik Storaas is one of the most important piano players in Norway. He has received two Norwegian Grammys for his releases with his own trio. He also works as a composer with commissions for the Vossajazz and Trondheim festivals. He has played on more than 20 other jazz records as a sideman with, among others, Karin Krog, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Terje Rypdal, Warne Marsh and John Surman.

Håkon Mjåset Johansen started early to establish himself as one of the leading Norwegian drummers. The trio “Urban  Connection”  was elected “Young Norwegian Jazz Musician of the Year” in 1998. They won a Grammy for their debut “Urban Connection” and were nominated for their second called“French Only”. Håkon has toured with Chick Corea and Trondheim Jazzorchestra in 2000-01, and played quartet with Michael Brecker on the Molde festival in 2003. He has also played with “Motif”, “Solid!” and “Come Shine”.

Their 2011 CD entitled Hand Luggage Only received excellent reviews. “Given this Norwegian trio’s two keyboards-plus-drums instrumentation, there may be the expectation of something avant-garde, or perhaps something reminiscent of ’70s-era prog rock. However, Excess Luggage’s core values are firmly oriented towards aggressive, swinging modern jazz… The playing is first rate, the compositions are strong, and the whole concept just works.” Dave Wayne, AllAboutJazz.com

Check out the unique sounds of Excess Luggage at 9:00pm on Tuesday, November 20th, at Jazz Happens Bar in Bangkok, Thailand. Admission is free! Please call for reservations on 02-2829934 or 084-4500505.

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Benny Lackner Trio: “Superbly modernistic piano trio music…” http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/2012-06/benny-lackner-trio-superbly-modernistic-piano-trio-music/ http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/2012-06/benny-lackner-trio-superbly-modernistic-piano-trio-music/#comments Sat, 16 Jun 2012 04:32:37 +0000 http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/?p=2144 It’s been just over a year since we last spotted Benny Lackner in Asia, a tumultuous year at that. Benny’s managed to release his fourth CD, entitled Cachuma, while also finding the time to learn the ropes as the first-time father of a lovely baby girl!

For those of you who may still be unfamiliar with Benny Lackner, he is a German-American jazz pianist who studied at the California Institute of the Arts under the direction of Charlie Haden and his mentor, Brad Mehldau. Benny has developed a unique compositional voice, and has gained a reputation for interesting re-interpretions of jazz standards and an eclectic mix of modern songs as well. Moving from an electronics-tinged version of Charles Mingus’s “Moanin’”, to Prince’s “Sign Of The Times”, to original compositions like “Rambo Sex Party”, “Feisty Beast”, or “Transkei”, is not for the faint of heart.

After about 10 years living and working in New York City, Benny has recently relocated to Berlin, and he’s relishing the changes. “This album marks a new beginning”, he said recently. “The making of Cachuma is life-changing for me.” The songs speak to someone searching for a new center while being drawn by feelings from both sides of the Atlantic: “Find Your Place”, “Brooklyn/Berlin”, and, of course, “I Can Do Whatever I Want”.

In an excellent review of Cachuma in AllAboutJazz.com, Dan McClenaghan compares Benny’s work to other artists who have been modernizing the piano trio format, like Medeski Martin & Wood, and e.s.t. (with the late Esbjorn Svensson). “Lackner has molded a very idiosyncratically distinctive artistic voice within the trio format… he sprinkles and spices the sound of the acoustic instrument with subtle electronics… to juice up his nine contemporary sounding compositions and a couple of well-chosen covers.” “He wraps up his fourth CD as a leader doing exactly what he wants to do: making superbly modernistic piano trio music.”

Supporting Benny in this quest is a wonderful French rhythm section, Matthieu Chazarenc on drums, and Jérôme Regard on bass. Matthieu accompanied Benny on his tour of Asia in 2011. He studied drums at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, as well as privately with artists like Jeff Ballard and Ari Hoenig. Along with a vast number of French jazz musicians, Matthieu’s also played with international artists like Paolo Fresu, Robert Glasper, and Mark Turner. Jérôme studied at the Conservatoire National Lyon, and similarly has played with world-class artists like Jan Garbarek, Manu Katché, and Michel Legrand.

The Benny Lackner Trio will be performing in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand from June 16 through 28, on the 2012 tour. Please check our event page for more details on the venues nearest you!

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Expanding Musical Boundaries with John Abercrombie http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/2012-05/expanding-musical-boundaries-with-john-abercrombie/ http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/2012-05/expanding-musical-boundaries-with-john-abercrombie/#comments Sat, 26 May 2012 09:17:42 +0000 http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/?p=2071 John Abercrombie is an acknowledged master of the electric guitar. As you might expect for someone who launched his musical career in the 1960’s, John has always been known as an experimenter. He was a key part of early fusion jazz bands with Billy Cobham, and the Brecker Brothers, but eventually followed his own muse in a different direction. His recordings for the ECM record label in the 1970’s and 1980’s were hugely influential, and helped define that label’s progressive chamber jazz reputation. In 2011, he’s still going strong: in their 59th Annual Critics Poll, Downbeat magazine named John as one of the top 15 guitarists working in jazz today. As he told one interviewer, “I’d like people to perceive me as having a direct connection to the history of jazz guitar, while expanding some musical boundaries.”

I first heard John Abercrombie’s music in 1979. As a freshman at Rice University in Houston, Texas, I managed to get involved with KTRU, the university’s student radio station. Though the station was certainly more famous at the time for playing new music by groups like U2, the B-52’s and the Dead Kennedys, they did have a jazz show on the weekends, and I was tasked with reviewing some of the incoming LPs so the DJs would have some idea of what to present on the air.

ECM Sampler 3. That was the one. It was my first introduction to ECM, which immediately became a favorite. Looking back at the artist listings now I’m still stunned by the collection of talent on this one record: Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Pat Metheny, Ralph Towner, Gary Burton, Jack DeJohnette, Terje Rypdal… I devoured it, and then started chasing down every recording I could find from the other players on those tracks as well.

His 1975 recording Timeless, featuring Jan Hammer on keyboards and Jack DeJohnette on drums, was his first for ECM, and in fact was also his debut as a bandleader. You can find the origins of his “Organ Trio” here, though Jan Hammer did introduce an interesting mix of synthesizer sounds into the recordings as well. It was thought-provoking music which you would find hard to place in any particular category.

John has always professed a love for the sound of the organ and the guitar together. Over the years he’s released a number of recordings in this format, including While We’re Young (1993), Speak Of The Devil (1994), and Tactics (1997).

Adam Nussbaum has been one of John’s regular musical partners since 1992, and has always been a key member of the Organ Trio. He’s also played with Dave Liebman, John Scofield, Steve Swallow, Carla Bley, Michael Brecker, and many others.

Gary Versace was voted a Rising Star on the Organ in the 2011 Downbeat Critics poll, and is the relative newcomer to the Organ Trio. He’s released several CDs as a leader on the Criss Cross label, and appeared as a sideman in over 50 recordings.

On this particular tour Enlightened Planet is proud to work with Southbridge to present the John Abercrombie Organ Trio in concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall in Singapore on June 4, 2012. The Organ Trio is also playing regionally in Hong Kong at the Summer Jazz Festival on May 30, in Manila at the 1st Philippine Jazz & Blues Guitar Festival on June 1 and 2. Further afield there are scheduled dates in Japan and in India as well! Support great live music wherever you are.

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Essential listening – Ari Hoenig Quartet http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/2012-03/essential-listening-ari-hoenig-quartet/ http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/2012-03/essential-listening-ari-hoenig-quartet/#comments Sat, 03 Mar 2012 13:58:36 +0000 http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/?p=2021 Last year, TimeOut New York published an article entitled “The 25 essential New York City jazz icons”. The list included 25 musicians, ranging in age from 30 to 86, whose “creative vitality… live presence, influence, conceptual ambition, stylistic range, and other intangibles” contributed to a “compelling case for why New York jazz is in the midst of a new golden age.”

Out of those 25 musicians, there were only three spots taken by drummers: Paul Motian, Roy Haynes, and… Ari Hoenig!

Ari Hoenig

Ari is certainly in fine company; we’re talking about two of the greatest drummers in jazz history here. Paul Motian (number one on the list!) was 70 when he passed away shortly after the article came out, and a legend in jazz drumming with nearly 40 albums as a bandleader; Roy Haynes (at number five) started making a name for himself with Lester Young, and Charlie Parker in the late 1940’s, and is still going strong with his band Fountain Of Youth at 86 years of age!

So what about this “young legend”, Ari Hoenig? TimeOut said Ari “works in what could be termed the mainstream jazz idiom, performing a conventional blend of nimble up-tempo standards and ballads; inventive originals, some with a punky or fusiony bent, season the mix. What’s really special about Hoenig, though, is his improvisational flair: the drummer’s daringly off-kilter punctuations, subtly elastic tempos and melodic tom-tom workouts make his gigs anything but routine. If you want to hear what famed critic Whitney Balliett meant when he called jazz ‘the sound of surprise’, head to Smalls (club in New York City) on a Monday, and get there early to secure a good view of the drummer.”

Ari has been an Enlightened Planet favorite for a long time now. March 2012 will mark his third visit to Thailand in the past four years, and for this tour we’ve added shows at the Cotton Club in Japan and at the Mosaic Music Festival in Singapore as well. He’ll be leading a stellar band: Gilad Hekselman on guitar, Orlando le Fleming on bass, and Shai Maestro on piano.

Ari Hoenig Quartet

Gilad Hekselman is a phenomenal young guitarist. In 2011 he contributed some wonderful work to Ari’s CD “Lines of Oppression”. Gilad also released his third CD as a bandleader, the incredible “Hearts Wide Open”, which was selected among the “Best of 2011” by The New York Times, and jumped up the charts at iTunes and Amazon. In an interview in September last year Pat Metheny named Gilad as one of the “great young players out there”. And recently, Guitar Aficionado magazine included Gilad in their article “Five Contemporary Jazz Guitarists Worth Exploring”. I expect great things from Gilad in the future!

Orlando le Fleming is “a major talent with the keenest of ears, deeply expressive technique, and a penchant for challenge”, according to All About Jazz. Orlando is another veteran bandmate of Ari’s, providing most of the bass work for “Lines of Oppression”, and is a key member of other top flight groups with Jonathan Kreisberg, Will Vinson, Lage Lund, and David Sanchez. He is also developing into a fine bandleader in his own right, with his 2010 CD debut “From Brooklyn With Love”.

Shai Maestro is the newcomer to this team, and is building an impressive resume himself. Only 25 years of age, Shai was a featured member of Avishai Cohen’s band since 2007, with the latest recorded effort being 2011’s “Seven Seas”. Recently, he left to pursue bigger plans for his own Shai Maestro Trio, and their first CD will be released in April 2012.

The Ari Hoenig Quartet starts their Asian tour with three nights at the Cotton Club in Tokyo, Japan, March 10, 11, and 12, before jetting to Bangkok, Thailand for workshops at Silpakorn University on March 14, and performance at Mello Yello on March 15. They wrap up with a performance at the Mosaic Music Festival at the Esplanade Recital Studio in Singapore on March 17, and a workshop with the Bright Young Things jazz mentorship program on March 18. Please use the links provided for more information on tickets and times!

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The piano trio reinvigorated http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/2011-06/the-piano-trio-reinvigorated/ http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/2011-06/the-piano-trio-reinvigorated/#comments Sun, 05 Jun 2011 09:38:03 +0000 http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/?p=1943 In the old days you could spend a few hours going through an entire record store top to bottom, and walk away with a handful of things that you’d NEVER heard of, but which looked very promising for one reason or another.

That’s how I found the Benny Lackner Trio.

I’m sure I’m showing my age. I’d been doing this kind of thing since at least 1978, all over the world, finding little recorded gems in the oddest of places. And, of course, nobody says RECORD store any more…

But there I was, exploring, discovering, at the (now defunct) CD Warehouse in the Emporium in Bangkok. For some reason they were the local distributor for the Nagel Heyer label, so over time I picked up a few of their releases, like Benny Lackner Trio’s Not The Same and Sign Of The Times. Riveting stuff.

Fast forward another four years. An email from Benny, an interest in touring in Southeast Asia, and, remarkably, some support for travel from the Berlin Senate Cultural Affairs Department. 160 emails later, and the tour is ready to go!

Benny Lackner Trio

Born in Berlin, Benny Lackner moved to California at the age of thirteen. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts under the direction of Charlie Haden and David Roitstein. From 1997 to 1998 he studied privately with his mentor, Brad Mehldau.

The Benny Lackner Trio is one of a handful of recent groups who are busy reinventing and reinvigorating the piano trio. Influenced by the work of Keith Jarrett, Ahmad Jamal, and Bill Evans, they’ve nonetheless put their own distinct personality into their output, and drawn comparisons to groups like The Bad Plus and E.S.T., and artists like Jason Moran and, of course, Brad Mehldau. The sound is acoustic piano, bass, and drums, spiced with occasional electronic ornamentation. One minute they may be interpreting a Mingus, Monk or Gershwin tune, the next putting a jazz spin on Hendrix, Prince, or Bjork, before delivering some incredible original tunes.

The 2006 recording probably brought Benny the most press coverage of his fledgling career. AllAboutJazz said “Lackner can be tagged a young-lion as of this writing… Sign Of The Times proves itself a wonderfully realized work of art, every tune a highlight, and with it Lackner steps into the ranks of fully developed jazz artists.” JazzTimes said “Sign Of The Times is piano trio music not for the faint of heart… (this trio’s) raw creative energy and brute force is directed by Lackner’s musical sophistication and imposing technical facility.”

From June 14 to June 22, the Benny Lackner Trio will perform around Southeast Asia, starting with workshops and a concert in Bangkok, Thailand. Further shows will be held in Phnom Penh, Kota Kinabalu, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hong Kong… check our event page for more details!

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Electric! http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/2011-03/electric/ http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/2011-03/electric/#comments Sat, 05 Mar 2011 14:18:14 +0000 http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/?p=1858 Enlightened Planet is proud to be associated with Prart Music Group’s presentation of the Scott Henderson Trio on March 16th, 2011 at Xanadu Pub & Restaurant at the Furama Hotel in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and on March 18th, 2011 at Mello Yello Music & Bistro (formerly Overtone Music Cave) at RCA in Bangkok.

Scott Henderson

Scott Henderson claims to be a blues-rock guitar player. His early fascination with monster rock guitarists like Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, and blues greats such as Albert King and Buddy Guy, tempered by the influence of jazz music, led him finally to the style of music he is most famous for playing and composing. In his early professional years he played with Chick Corea’s Elektric Band, violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, and Weather Report’s Joe Zawinul, and then set out to create his own sound with bands like Tribal Tech and Vital Tech Tones.

Bangkok fans will no doubt remember Scott’s 2009 visit as a key member of the “Super Jazz Trio”, but this year marks the first time that Scott has been able to lead his own Trio to Thailand. Featuring Travis Carlton on bass, and Alan Hertz on drums, the Scott Henderson Trio has toured extensively in the U.S., Europe, South America, and Japan, playing music from Scott’s considerable catalog of blues and electric jazz fusion compositions.

This is also the first time that Scott will perform in Chiang Mai, affording the North’s electric guitar aficionados a great chance to see him up-close and personal.

Two great shows, and the start of a busy year for Enlightened Planet! See you there!

Tickets for the Bangkok show are available through ThaiTicketMajor outlets or on the web; tickets for the Chiang Mai show are available through the Furama Chiang Mai on 053-415222.

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A Rare Talent: Guitar virtuoso Stanley Jordan http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/2010-09/a-rare-talent-guitar-virtuoso-stanley-jordan/ http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/2010-09/a-rare-talent-guitar-virtuoso-stanley-jordan/#comments Tue, 28 Sep 2010 00:50:40 +0000 http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/?p=1797 When I started putting together Enlightened Planet in 2005, I knew that what I wanted to do more than ANYTHING was to make it possible for some of the world’s most talented musicians to get an opportunity to perform in Southeast Asia.

I wasn’t interested in just one musical genre. I wasn’t interested in just one nationality, or just one instrument, or just one record label… I wasn’t interested in JUST ONE of anything. I wanted EVERYTHING.

I wanted to present artists who were masters of their instruments, artists who were incredible composers, artists who had created phenomenal recordings, artists with the intellect and the strength to take on a challenge, and artists who were confident enough to build on those skills and those past glories, and continue innovating and producing new works in their own chosen paths.

Stanley Jordan is clearly one of those artists.

Stanley Jordan

Stanley Jordan came to prominence with the release of his 1985 debut gold-selling album Magic Touch, a revolutionary project that dually placed him at the forefront of re-launching legendary Blue Note Records into a contemporary entity in jazz and beyond, as well as establishing the then-twenty- something Jordan as among the most distinctive and refreshing new voices of the electric guitar.

Key to Jordan’s fast-track acclaim was his mastery of a special “tapping” technique on the guitar’s fretboard instead of conventional strumming and picking. While a handful of other virtuoso players were using similar techniques, Stanley’s fluid and melodic use of tapping captured the imagination of listeners via his inherent warmth and sensitivity.

But the success of that first release created a bit of a trap for a musician who was known for his eclectic interests. Because he debuted on the Blue Note label, he was marketed as a jazz progressive when what he was trying to stress was music beyond stylistic boundaries. Subsequent albums found Jordan caught in a frustrating web of wanting to usher his audience into deeper levels of his artistry while record companies craved more of the stuff that had whisked him to the top of the charts.

After a self-imposed exile from the rat race in the 90’s that included a retreat into the mountains of the southwestern part of the US, Stanley Jordan has re-emerged with a new life’s direction. “Most people – if and when they find their calling – come to see themselves in some sort of service capacity,” he states. “Right now I feel a strong desire to bring my music to the people not just for entertainment, but also for inspiration and healing.”

His latest CD release, 2008’s State Of Nature, is a gorgeous and sweeping recording which brings together all these key aspects of Jordan’s approach to life: the musical virtuosity and eclecticism, the love of nature, the drive to learn and evolve and improve.

“Part of the reason I made this album were revelations I discovered in my journey to try to become a better person,” he states. “The other reason is that I discovered some disturbing information about environmental issues… The two main ideas that consumed my thoughts were these: human beings need to get back to nature, which extends to the environment as well as our bodies – the part of nature we carry around with us – and we need to evolve intellectually, spiritually, and politically.”

This thought process led to the underlying inspiration for the song structures and themes of State Of Nature. The resulting music finds Stanley weaving classical, jazz and rock textures to get across his messages of atonement and harmony. Beyond his signature touch technique on guitar, Stanley utilizes other revolutionary techniques, such as playing two guitars at once, playing guitar and piano simultaneously, and incorporating sounds of nature that he recorded himself.

Enlightened Planet is delighted to be supporting the presentation of Stanley Jordan, live in concert, in both Thailand and Singapore.

Please join us on October 7th at M Theatre Bangkok, as Prart Music Group and Singha present the Stanley Jordan Jazz Concert…

Or please join us on October 10th at The Esplanade Recital Studio in Singapore, for A Night with Stanley Jordan, supported by locally based jazz trio Weixiang on piano, Christy Smith on bass, and Eddie Layman on drums.

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Niu’s 1st International Bangkok Jazz Festival: A feast for music lovers http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/2009-11/niu%e2%80%99s-1st-international-bangkok-jazz-festival/ http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/2009-11/niu%e2%80%99s-1st-international-bangkok-jazz-festival/#comments Sat, 28 Nov 2009 10:37:37 +0000 http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/?p=1672

The good people at Niu’s on Silom Jazz Club & Wine Bar are ready to put on a show. A big show, a REALLY big show. It’s so BIG it’s going to have to be held outside the club. It’s so VERY BIG you may have already gotten some of the advance word, but let me do this right and give you the full announcement:

On December 11th and 12th, 2009, the open-air courtyard at Baan Silom Arcade will be transformed into a “dream of jazz, blues, and world music” for Niu’s 1st International Bangkok Jazz Festival!

This is the single biggest event with which Enlightened Planet has ever been involved, and we are finally able to live up to our long-standing company vision and present jazz, blues, and world music, all in one major event.

Enlightened Planet is directly responsible for four of the international acts at the festival, all of which are making their first ever appearance in Thailand: 2009 Blues Music Awards Acoustic Artist of the Year Eden Brent on piano and vocals, the ultimate acoustic roots blues duo of Phil Wiggins and Corey Harris, the electric groove-oriented jazz of super saxman Chris Potter and his Underground quartet featuring Adam Rogers, Scott Colley, and Nate Smith, and the soulful sound of Cameroon-born jazz bassist and vocalist Richard Bona and his group.

The festival will also feature Thailand’s own Koh Mr. Saxman, a fusion of jazz and ethnic music with Francois Lindemann and Tewan Sapsangyakorn, rising British piano star Gwilym Simcock with his trio, and American sax sensation James Carter with his organ trio.

These are going to be two great evenings out: the cool night air of a Bangkok December, comfortable seating for 400 music lovers, fine wines, delicious food, and the famous hospitality of Niu’s on Silom… and, of course, a splendid variety of music from around the world guaranteed to clear your mind, stir your heart, and free your soul! And you’re not going to find that anywhere else…

There has already been an excellent article in the Bangkok Post about this event. Over the next few days I will provide more information about these fine artists and their music.

Tickets for the Niu’s 1st International Bangkok Jazz Festival are available through ThaiTicketMajor and their associated outlets, or by contacting Niu’s on Silom Jazz Club & Wine Bar on 02-2665333 or at reservation@niusonsilom.com. Tickets are 3500 THB for one night, or 6000 THB for a two-night pass.

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Niu’s on Silom welcomes the Ari Hoenig Quartet http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/2009-11/nius-on-silom-ari-hoenig-quartet/ http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/2009-11/nius-on-silom-ari-hoenig-quartet/#comments Sun, 01 Nov 2009 04:50:30 +0000 http://www.enlightenedplanet.com/?p=1587

Ari Hoenig is a drummer and bandleader who is truly making a huge name for himself in the highly competitive New York jazz scene, and winning audiences over worldwide. In 2008, Ari put on a virtuoso display in Bangkok with pianist Jean-Michel Pilc. This year, fresh from a tour of Australia, Ari returns with a totally different lineup for two nights at Niu’s on Silom Jazz Club & Wine Bar: the Ari Hoenig Quartet featuring Gilad Hekselman, Jamie Oehlers, and Orlando Le Fleming.

“One of the most promising jazz percussionists of his generation, Ari Hoenig is worth watching.” – All Music Guide

He is, first and foremost, a remarkable musician who happens to play the drums. His phenomenal sense of rhythm and polyrhythm and his ability to take over the melody from behind the kit are simply an exhilirating experience to see in person.

“Ari Hoenig is drumming’s new resourceful shining light – his drums dance and flirt with the soloist like few you’ll hear.” – All About Jazz

Over the past year he has put together a top-notch international group to bring his musical ideas to life, including 2005 Gibson Montreux International Guitar Competition winner Gilad Hekselman, 2007 Australian Jazz Musician of the Year Jamie Oehlers on saxophone, and Britain’s Orlando Le Fleming on bass. Whether they’re adding a post-bop twist to a Gershwin tune, putting their signature on a Coltrane standard, or soaring through an original Ari Hoenig composition, you’ll enjoy the freshness of the sound and feel the passion and excitement of the artists. This is music for purists and adventurers alike!

“The payoff arrives in this band without much delay. The set started with a Thelonius Monk tune, which Mr. Hoenig has thoroughly altered, with a highly rearranged theme and extra arrangements to frame the solos. Mr. Hekselman, playing complex chords with extended harmony, moved his solo toward a peak. About two minutes in the audience began yelling.” – New York Times

Join us on November 4th and 5th at Niu’s on Silom Jazz Club & Wine Bar at 9:30pm for the exclusive presentation of the Ari Hoenig Quartet. Tickets available through ThaiTicketMajor, or by calling Niu’s on Silom on (02) 266-5333.


Ari Hoenig (born on November 13, 1973 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), is a jazz drummer, composer and educator known for his unusual and intense approach to drumming emphasizing complex rhythms in direct harmony with other group members.

Hoenig is also known for his unique ability to modify the pitch of a drum by using drum sticks, mallets, and even parts of his body (such as his hands and elbows). Using this technique, he can play any note in the chromatic scale, virtually any melody, and even improvise on a chord structure in the same way as any other instrumentalist would.

Hoenig has released 6 CDs as a bandleader, and has performed or recorded with jazz greats Mike Stern, Joshua Redman, Herbie Hancock, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Richard Bona, Dave Liebman, Chris Potter, Toots Thielemans, Dave Holland, Joe Lovano, Pat Metheny, and Pat Martino, among others.

Gilad Hekselman studied classical piano from age six to nine in his native Israel, before taking up the guitar. By age 12 he was a regular performer on a weekly children’s television show. In 2005, at the age of 22, he won the Gibson Montreux International Guitar Competition, which opened doors for him at jazz festivals around the world. After moving full-time to New York he’s been able to perform with top jazz talents like Chris Potter, John Scofield, Gretchen Parlato, Sam Yahel, Anat Cohen, Jeff Ballard, and Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts. He has also released two CDs as a band-leader, Split Life and Words Unspoken, and is set to participate in an all-star jazz release this year called Disney Jazz.

Recognized as one of Australia’s leading jazz musicians, Jamie Oehlers was the winner of the White Foundation World Saxophone Competition at Montreux Jazz Festival in 2003. He was won numerous other awards in Australia, has performed at jazz festivals around the world, and in the past year has played gigs in the US, Great Britain, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, and the Philippines. He has performed with international artists such as Charlie Haden, Ronnie Scott, Cindy Blackman, Jamie Cullum, and Eric Harland, and has created eight CDs as a bandleader. When he is not performing he is the Coordinator of Jazz Studies at the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts.

Englishman Orlando Le Fleming was torn between a love for cricket and a passion for music, right up until he received a place at London’s Royal Academy of Music, which seemed to settle the matter for the time being. He quickly established himself as one of the UK’s most prominent bass players, in demand from both local British artists and from visiting international stars. He’s performed with the bright lights of British jazz such as Jason Rebello, Iain Ballamy, and Guy Barker, and with touring US musicians such as Branford Marsalis, Bill Charlap, George Coleman, and Dave Liebman. After moving to New York he joined Jane Monheit’s band for three years, and continued to build a strong reputation by performing with Billy Cobham, Joey Calderazzo, and David Sanchez.

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