Pianist, composer, and vocalist Cameron Graves’ new album, Seven (Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Music Group), features drummer MIKE MITCHELL, guitarist Colin Cook, bassist Max Gerl, and on two tracks, saxophonist Kamasi Washington. Graves and Mitchell served together on the road with fusion bass giant Stanley Clarke. “No one has the over-the-top chops that he has,” says the pianist. “No one has the timing and syncopation skills that Mike possesses. He can play hip-hop, jazz…. I’ve seen him play every style of swing like Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette, and Elvin Jones. But I’ve always wanted to hear Mike play rock and metal, and this was my chance.”
Graves, who grew up listening to the rock bands like Pantera, Slipknot, and Meshuggah while studying jazz and classical music, dubs the music on Seven “thrash-jazz,” and sees his mission as continuing the “legacy of advanced music that was started by bands like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, and Return to Forever.” Graves previously contributed to Kamasi Washington’s highly regarded debut, The Epic, and, with his brother Taylor, created the music for Michelle Obama’s Netflix documentary Becoming.
Invitation, the debut album by saxophonist Dave Liebman’s Generations Quartet, features drummer IAN FROMAN (Rick Margitza, Gary Burton, Miroslav Vitous), bassist Evan Gregor, and pianist Billy Test. Froman and Liebman’s shared lineage goes back to Miles Davis and John Coltrane — the saxophonist played with Miles and with the Coltrane Quartet’s drummer Elvin Jones, while Froman later studied under Elvin and soon after formed a working relationship with Liebman that has lasted more than thirty years.
“Lieb has been like a musical father to me,” says the drummer, who, like the leader, is a highly regarded educator, with institutions including Berklee College of Music, Drummers Collective, and the New School to his credit. Invitation is a collection of American Songbook standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “You and the Night and the Music” (the latter recorded live at the famed Poconos venue the Deer Head Inn) and covers of iconic compositions like Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage” and Coltrane’s “Village Blues.”
Fabulous Twilight, the upcoming album by singer, songwriter, and guitarist Jon Klages, features drummer PETE THOMAS and bassist Davey Faragher, the rhythm section of Elvis Costello’s Imposters. Thomas has been a stapple in Costello’s bands since the new wave/pop-rock icon’s 1977 sophomore album, This Year’s Model, which contains such still-bracing drum performances as “No Action,” “I Don’t Want to Go to Chelsea,” and “Lipstick Vogue.” He’s also done extensive studio work with the likes of Graham Parker, Richard Thompson, Los Lobos, John Paul Jones/Diamanda Galás, Elliott Smith, Mathew Sweet, and Arctic Monkeys.
The collection of originals and instrumentals on Fabulous Twilight is due April 1 on Danbury Fair Recordings; in advance of that, Klages — who was a member of the seminal Hoboken, New Jersey, band the Individuals and went on to work with Television’s Richard Lloyd, True West’s Russ Tolman, the Dream Syndicate’s Steve Wynn, and the Long Ryders’ Stephen McCarthy — has released two tracks on his Soundcloud page.
The drummer-led PHILIPPE LEMM TRIO is releasing First Steps on March 26 on Outside in Music. Lemm’s composition “The Kiln,” which opens the album, was released as the first single on February 12 and can be heard on streaming services. “Before I played the drums, I was a dancer,” says Lemm. “In a way, I still feel like the drums are my expression of movement. [Last year] felt like an uncertain choreography. We had to practice slow-dancing by ourselves and learn to maneuver without reference. It dictated its own movement and made us more aware of our fundamental need for one another and how much we desired our dance partners.”
Lemm and his bandmates, bassist Jeff Koch and pianist Angelo Di Loreto, met a decade ago as students at Manhattan School of Music, and have since released several albums and performed at Bimhuis in Amsterdam, the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Blue Note in Manhattan, Ronnie Scott’s in London, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C, among other venues. For more info go to the band’s website.