New music round-up (for w/e 4 March 2022)

Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 4 March 2022.

GRAMMY-nominated saxophonist and composer Melissa Aldana joins Blue Note Records with the release of 12 Stars, her debut album as a leader for the legendary jazz label. At 33, the Brooklyn-based tenor player from Santiago, Chile has garnered international recognition for her visionary work as a band leader, as well as her deeply meditative interpretation of language and vocabulary. 12 Stars grapples with concepts of childrearing, familial forgiveness, acceptance, and self-love. Inspired by the arcs and nuances of tarot, 12 Stars features a series of tributes to moments of challenge and triumph in Aldana’s New York life. “For some time, I had been very curious about tarot — the symbols, and the actual story of the tradition,” she says. “So I took the lockdown as an opportunity to learn more about myself through the process of learning tarot, whose focus is the journey of an individual. As I studied the cards, I started writing music about each of them, individually. And I found that the process described on the tarot is a process that we all deal with somehow throughout our journey here on earth.”


Ballad of a Tryhard is the third album by Scott Hardware, the moniker of Toronto-based musician and composer Scott Harwood. On the record, he attempts a response by honouring the splendour of “living between emotions.” It’s an album where a rich inner monologue, and the undefined space between reflection and realization can offer an invaluable reprieve.


Following the orchestra’s acclaimed live debut at the BBC Proms 2021, John Wilson and Sinfonia of London release their next studio album, featuring the music of French composer and master orchestrator Maurice Ravel. The album is notable for being the premiere recording of the complete original ballets of both Boléro and Ma Mère l’Oye (Mother Goose), in a new edition by François Dru, general editor of the Ravel Edition. Ravel’s dark and compelling La Valse, which featured in the orchestra’s televised 2021 BBC Prom performance, opens the disc. Ravel’s orchestrations of his own piano works complete the programme: Valse nobles et sentimentales, Pavane pour une infante défunte, and Alborada del gracioso, with its colourful illustration of Spanish sounds and culture.


Defying expectations is standard operating procedure for El Ten Eleven. Seriously, who would expect two instrumentalists to create such a large and complex sound? But thanks to inventive arrangements and a masterful use of looping, Dunn (bass/guitar) and Fogarty (drums) developed a pulsating sound full of atmospheric intensity. Struggles are sloshed away by tidal waves of champagne on the band’s new album New Year’s Eve. Resolutions are boldly proclaimed or whispered in one’s own heart. A ball drops, and we expect a whole new life to spring out. But nothing is transformed or transposed, because miracles don’t happen during the hung time between last year and this one. It’s just another New Year’s Eve.


How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars is an introspective record of songs from The Weather Station. The tracks were written alongside those that appeared on their previous album, Ignorance. Not intended to be a follow up, but to be a companion piece, the record is a piece of reflection and quiet, meant to hold stillness in the aftermath. It was recorded live, as a performance; an improvisation, with a group of Toronto jazz musicians. I imagined it as a record of ballads; simple, pure, almost naive, but speaking to many of the same realities as Ignorance does. I see the two albums as two halves of the same coin; the moon and sun, a photograph and a photo-negative.


EWAH & The Vision of Paradise are based in Hobart Tasmania. Cinematic post-punk merging with new wave and a lick of gothic. Their new record, The Warning Birds is an exploration in the meaning of paradise that, across its twelve tracks, manages to feel both grim and uplifting in equal measure; something of a treatise on a world in crisis, the album searches for paradise, starting from a hellish post-apocalyptic world.


Sugaray Rayford returns with In Too Deep, the follow up to his 2020 Grammy® nominated Somebody Save Me, an album which also earned Rayford two major Blues Music Awards for B.B. King Entertainer and Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year (two straight years). Recorded with Producer Eric Corne (John Mayall), In Too Deep combines classic soul melodies with funky R&B grooves and raw blues power, mashed up with modern sensibilities. The album takes on issues, such as PTSD, civil rights and social justice. With vibrantly detailed arrangements tailored to showcase Rayford’s deft portrayals and interpretations, In Too Deep is a poignant album that seeks to inspire and uplift.


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