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NIGHT DREAMER

Charlie Stacey

The Light Beyond Time

    Keyboard player and pianist Charlie Stacey fuses jazz-piano virtuosity with dark synth textures and grooves on his first solo project - a direct-to-disc, one take recording for Night Dreamer Records.

    One of the UK’s leading keys players, Charlie Stacey improvisational skills are unmatched. Known for his work with Yussef Dayes and fellow Tomorrow Warrio’s alumni such as Moses Boyd, Stacey’s technical prowess and ability to jump between genres has quietly gained the young pianist a reputation as one of the most advanced players around.

    Fronting a band for his debut recording under his own name, Stacey had to bring that knack for improvisation to the fore. Alongside his regular band of Oscar Ogden (drums), Tom Driessler (bass) and Jay Phelps (trumpet), Stacey was joined in the studio for the first time by vocalist Vula Malinga - who has performed with Basement Jaxx and Incognito - and Holland-based Senegalese percussionist Mamour Seck. Together, the group forged four sprawling jams from the white heat of the direct-to-disc recording process.

    As an agile and highly adaptive performer and composer, Stacey allowed the new line-up to shape the sound in unexpected ways. What began as a Herbie Hancock-era Headhunters instrumental tip erred instead towards old school jazz scat in places, ethereal RnB and Kamasi Washington-esque lyrical space-ballads in others.

    From the soulful acid jazz sound that Malinga brings to opening track ‘Music is Healing’, to the Afro-Cuban twist on Stacey’s signature ‘Charlie’s Tune’, there is a spontaneity to the recordings that give them a collective urgency true to the essence of the jazz tradition.

    “The chance to record in the way that Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and many of my heroes recorded was really appealing,” says Stacey. Drawing on the sounds of classic jazz-funk keyboard players like Chick Corea and George Duke, ‘Rivers of Gondor’ pays tribute to what Stacey calls “the imaginative world of JRR Tolkien”, with all its dark and wistful folk-inspired turns. A staple of Stacey’s live sets, it is joined on the B-Side by ‘Mamour’s Tune’, which was written and recorded on the day and foregrounds the astonishing rhythmic and melodic character of Marmour Seck’s playing.

    As Stacey explains: “The fact we only spent one-and-a-half days recording actually made it more fun, as it meant we played in a more intense, focused way.”

    In fact, as a touring live musician, Stacey relished the opportunity to record with the same levels of jeopardy. “I liked the idea of the spontaneity of creating something with one opportunity only to get it right,” he explains. “I also liked the idea of non-judgement that leaving stuff intact lends itself to. Whatever we played on the day is what we ended up using and therefore is neither right nor wrong, it just is.” Stacey is the not the first young UK jazz musician to take on the direct-to-disc recording process at Night Dreamer, and joins the likes of Emma-Jean Thackray, Sarathy Korwar and Maisha, who have all cut equally exploratory records for the label. A riot of collaborative improvisation and acrobatic syncopation, Stacey’s Night Dreamer Session captures a singular coming together of musicians from across the jazz world, performing at the peak of their creative powers.

    TRACK LISTING

    A1. Dawn Chorus
    A2. Music Is Healing
    A3. Charlie’s Tune
    B1. Rivers Of Gondor
    B2. Mamour's Tune

    Gary Bartz & Maisha

    Night Dreamer Direct-to-Disc Sessions - 2022 Repress

    The third release from Night Dreamer’s essential “Direct-to-Disc” sessions sees an incredible meeting between legendary US saxophonist Gary Bartz and leading UK spiritual jazz ensemble, Maisha, featuring two Bartz classics and three brand new joint songs written by both Bartz & Maisha in close collaboration.

    Having cut his teeth playing with the likes of Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Art Blakey and finally in 1970, Miles Davis at the peak of his electric period, Gary Bartz became a leading figure of the early-to-mid 70s spiritual jazz movement, releasing a string of ground-breaking albums on legendary NYC jazz label Prestige Records with his NTU Troop, featuring classics such as “Celestial Blues”, “Uhuru Dance” and “I’ve Known Rivers”, before collaborating on Blue Note Records with the Mizell Brothers on the anthemic jazz funk of “Music Is My Sanctuary”. An oeuvre much loved by soul jazzers and hip hop fans alike.

    Led by drummer Jake Long, Maisha have been central to the UK’s jazz explosion, and have fast become the UK’s most exciting and in-demand young spiritual jazz ensemble, from steller shows at Jazz re:freshed, Total Refreshment Centre & Church of Sound and supporting the Sun Ra Arkestra, to releasing their critically acclaimed debut LP, “There Is A Place” on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings in 2018. Theirs is an organic & explosive sound that blends influences from afrobeat and broken beat to Persian music, with a deep love and understanding of jazz, particularly the heritage of spiritual jazz led by titans such as Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane and of course, Gary Bartz.

    Which makes this collaboration even more special. Bartz was first invited to share a stage with Maisha by Gilles Peterson to headline the inaugural We Out Here festival. Their chemistry was rich and instantaneous, certainly a two-way street, with the young musicians reinvigorating the legend’s performance and wowing the intergenerational festival audience. A European tour followed, including a London Jazz Festival highlight at the Royal Festival Hall, celebrating the 50th anniversary of his album “Another Earth”, originally featuring fellow legends, Pharoah Sanders, Charles Tolliver, Stanley Cowell, and John Coltrane’s own bassist, Reggie Workman. Now the relationship has evolved into a special straight-to-disc recording for Night Dreamer Records, that captures the vitality of their collaboration. Whilst Bartz and Maisha reinvent classic Bartz compositions “Uhuru Sasa” and “Dr Follows Dance”, extending the pieces into long piece improvised grooves, their recording session gave birth to three brand new joint compositions, written the very same day. These include the propulsive “Leta’s Dance” that magically combines the Bartz’ soulful musical lyricism with Maisha’s African-jazz influences, and the organic jazz funk of “Harlem to Haarlem”, featuring a hot solo from guest trumpeter Axel Kaner-Lidstrom of Cykada & Levitation Orchestra fame.

    Like previous Night Dreamer efforts from afrobeat star Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, and the beautiful collaboration between Brazilian stars Seu Jorge & Rogê, the album was recorded in Haarlem’s Artone Studio, a stones throw from Amsterdam, in just one-take, straight-to-disc, avoiding postproduction embellishments and retaining the purity of the performance lost in modern recording techniques.

    This record really is an event, in and of itself, a meeting of talents, minds, generations and zeitgeist moments, captured in a unique and pure manner. The music does not disappoint, as Maisha have been inspired to reach new heights whilst we find Bartz truly reinvigorated, and both artists in tune to the spirit of the other.

    TRACK LISTING

    A1 - Harlem To Haarlem
    A2 - The Stank
    B1 - Leta's Dance
    B2 - Uhuru Sasa
    B3 - Dr Follows Dance

    Emma-Jean Thackray

    Um Yang - 2022 Repress

      Emma-Jean Thackray, an outstanding figure in the UK jazz scene, releases Um Yang, her long-dreamed project dedicated to the Taoist philosophy of duality and harmony. A highly ambitious and personal record that sees Thackray leading a septet featuring Soweto Kinch and Steam Down’s Wonky Logic, recorded straight to vinyl.

      An accomplished trumpeter, beat-maker, singer, composer and DJ, Thackray draws on far wider influences than jazz. Her sound is distinctive; in the words of The Guardian like “Bitches Brew era Miles entering the dub chamber with a New Orleans marching band – in a good way”. Since debuting in 2016, Thackray has directed the London Symphony Orchestra, performed at the NY Winter Jazz Fest, played Glastonbury five times in 2019 alone, and launched her own record label, Movementt (in association with Warp).

      Raised in Yorkshire, Thackray inherited a grounding in Taoism from her father, and approaches her music with the same pursuit of harmony between Um & Yang (the Korean Ying & Yang), balancing melody and rhythm, groove and free improvisation, cerebral and physical. For this one-off recording, Thackray has applied this ideology in every sense, even down to the ensemble itself featuring not one but two percussionists. Um commences with ethereal interplay between keys, percussion, and Thackray’s trumpet, recalling the spiritual jazz of Alice Coltrane’s classic records. As the piece builds, an earthy groove emerges. On both trumpet and vocals, Thackray leads the ensemble further out until the piece peaks with an epic breakdown. On the flip, Yang starts on the same cacophonous note but progresses to a joyful groove before returning to a peaceful state again, balance restored.

      When Night Dreamer Records invited Emma to record Um Yang straight-to-disc at Artone’s vintage recording studio in Haarlem, Holland, Emma was excited by the idea of capturing this specific project in one-take, without overdubs or edits. “Recording in (Artone) was such a dream” Thackray recalls. “It had all the fantasy analogue equipment you daydream about one day being able to use. The desk looked like something Uhura would use. All the instruments were natural, woods and metals, no plastic in sight, and everything was to be hit or blown, all analogue. I really needed everything to be natural and real, because the music is about the universe, about the energy of all things, and what is more real than that.” Honest sound to match truly honest music. With Um Yang, Emma-Jean Thackray has created her most personal and defining work to date.

      PERSONNEL:
      Emma-Jean Thackray - Trumpet, Voice, Percussion
      Soweto Kinch - Saxophones
      Lyle Barton - Rhodes
      Ben Kelly - Sousaphone
      Dwayne Kilvington - Percussion
      Crispin Robinson - Congas
      Dougal Taylor - Drums

      Sarathy Korwar & UPAJ Collective

      Night Dreamer Direct-to-Disc Sessions

      On their Night Dreamer debut, the sensational drummer, percussionist and musical artist Sarathy Korwar and his allstar “UPAJ Collective” gain brand new ground in their mission to rebalance spiritual jazz with authentic Indian classical music. “UPAJ” means “to improvise” in Hindi, and recording direct-to-disc at Artone Studios with almost no preconceived directions, they truly capture the “spirit of spontaneous improvisation”, as Sarathy puts it, like never before.

      Fluent on both tabla & drums, Korwar has firmly established himself on the UK jazz scene & far beyond, playing with the likes of Shabaka Hutchings & Hieroglyphic Being. Winning a Steve Reid Foundation award and most recently winning an AIM award for best independent album for the album 'More Arriving’.

      On this special recording for Night Dreamer, Korwar and co have brought the UPAJ fully to bear with its mission to collaborate and improvise.The nature of recording straight-to-acetate, with just a pause between each record side, was a challenge they fully embraced, entering the recording with minimal instructions. Korwar relates that they initiated the session by sitting together in a circle to perform a set of breathing exercises, now a regular part of their gig prep. This set a collective tone, slowing heart rates, it centered the players and they felt more present, more aware of the space and each other. As such, trust, communication and ability to relate, came before the instrumentation.

      This new release for Night Dreamer marks an exciting chapter for Sarathy Korwar & The UPAJ Collective, “stepping into the unknown”, only to discover a more true and honest reflection of their art.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. So Said Said
      2. Flight IC 408
      3. Elephant Hangover
      4. Intimate Enemy
      5. So Said Said – Yoruba Soul Mix


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