Composed by Phil Scarff and performed by world-jazz ensemble Natraj, RAGAMALA PAINTINGS ALIVE! shines a contemporary light on historic artwork from India. The members of Natraj individually and collectively bring a wealth of experience exploring the intersection of jazz and global musical traditions. Their stunning performance showcased in this release is wide ranging, deep, and accessible, while firmly rooted in the rich tapestry of Indian classical music. RAGAMALA PAINTINGS ALIVE! is part of a larger multimedia work created in collaboration with Indian classical dancer Jayshree Bala Rajamani, incorporating dance, music, spoken word, and projected images. It brings to life historic ragamala paintings, with each painting representing one Indian classical raga or melodic framework. Inspired by Modest Mussorgsky and his iconic work, Pictures at an Exhibition, Scarff threads the suite together with musical “promenades” that represent the viewer entering and moving about an art gallery, with each theme anticipating a painting or set of paintings to come. Whether heard on its own or experienced as a full multimedia performance, RAGAMALA PAINTINGS ALIVE! takes listeners on a compelling contemporary journey that celebrates classic ragamala paintings from India.
YOU LOVED ME THEN, David Harris’ first album of originals in over 30 years, reflects his eclectic musical journey. It began when his father played him the works of Romantic composers like Chopin and Schuman, continued to his grade school encounters with the Beatles and The Doors, and was crowned by his teenage discovery of John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, and most importantly, Thelonious Monk. Harris estimates that he has written somewhere around 3,000 jazz, pop, and classical compositions. With the help of renowned pianist Paul English and a cadre of exceptional jazz talents, Harris brings some of his favorites to life on this Big Round Records release.
When thinking of versatile instrumental setups, the brass quintet might not be the first thing that comes to mind. A grave oversight, according to Alias Brass Company, an all-American brass ensemble which aims to change any such preconceived notions with their vibrant renditions of highly diverse and inclusive music on PRISM from Big Round Records.
The versatility in terms of style, mood, and genre is absolutely stunning, whether it's a film soundtrack (Gabriel's Oboe, Over the Rainbow), an obelisk of Baroque music (J.S. Bach's Little Fugue in G Minor), a Christian hymn (Amazing Grace) or a blues standard (St. James Infirmary), the Alias Brass Company navigates the territory with mesmerizing panache. Audacious and bold!
Berl Olswanger, “Mr. Music of Memphis,” returns for a fifth installment of timeless archival recordings on Big Round Records with BERL OLSWANGER IN THE STUDIO. This never-before-heard collection transports listeners back to the pianist’s private studio in 1950’s Memphis where he recorded his early compositions, some of which went on to become fully orchestrated tracks on the 2021 release BERL OLSWANGER AT PEPPER RECORDS.
With a smooth blend of blues, country, boogie-woogie, and ragtime influences, Olswanger delivers tunes that capture the popular sounds of the era. From the strong stride piano solo in Chicken Bone Man to the fluttering fills in Tennessee Skidoo, Olswanger’s inimitable approach shines through, inviting listeners into his private studio to witness an early period of the piano great’s legacy.
WHEN GAIA FALLS from composer Bradford Blackburn is an environmental call for action in the face of climate change manifested through musical, literary, and sonic eclecticism as a medium of universality. Its central message? There is no better time to save the future than the present.
From the body of electroacoustic, choral, and chamber works emerge a trio of narrative sub texts. The first, to simplify our needs and desires, the second, to make ecologically sustainable choices, and the third, to pursue positive change as a society. Bradford calls upon several artists to drive his message home in this release, spanning a variety of genres and moods that make a compelling case.
THE OXTET DOES HINDEMITH from Josh Oxford is a bold reimagining of classical music in a jazz fusion context. In this album, Oxford revisits some of Paul Hindemith’s greatest works. Hindemith, a late Romantic German composer, lived during the first half of the 20th century and was among the most significant composers of his time. The album contains sonatas for trumpet, tuba, trombone, and more, in which tonically complex horn lines weave above a jazz band. Recorded at Pyramid Sound in Ithaca and at Ithaca College, the timbres of the various horns along with marimba, Fender Rhodes, drums, electric guitar and bass, and more, are rendered in high fidelity. THE OXTET DOES HINDEMITH features the music of this legendary composer as you’ve never heard it before.
Israel Neuman’s VOLUTION fuses the power of hip hop with the versatility of jazz to form a uniquely forceful expression. The music heard on the album hints at a number of other musical genres as well, including rhythm and blues and middle-eastern folk music, to name a few. Vocalists including AceKidd and Cole Bracey rap and sing over the kaleidoscopic timbres created by Neuman’s music. In Tear It Down, AceKidd’s lyrics decry systemic injustice with lines like “man down/oh but you won’t lend a hand out/pressed down expecting us to stand down.” In Rough, a lovesick Cole Bracey croons “I’m worthless without your love/I’m spinning…Oh it’s rough.” With evocative lyrics, masterful modulations, and a smooth blend of celebrated musical styles, VOLUTION invites a wide audience of music lovers to the table.
Grab a drink, take a seat, and sway with your sweetie to the swinging sounds of pianist Berl Olswanger and his band on THE BERL OLSWANGER SHOW, Big Round Records’ fourth release of recordings by “Mr. Music of Memphis.” Recorded live in 1974, the never-before-heard album transports listeners to stageside seats as the band plays a historic set of toe-tapping tunes, from the horn-heavy Proud Mary to the country-western Green, Green Grass of Home. No matter the track, Olswanger’s presence is front and center, from his genre-blending skills and his technical chops at the piano to his ability to keep the band crisp and tight as they boogie through the set.
Blues and big band lovers are in for a swingin' treat with Big Round Records' new archival recording of BERL OLSWANGER AND THE OLSWANGER BEAT, the label’s third released recording by “Mr. Music of Memphis." Olswanger, whose musical career spanned over a half-century, could easily be called a jack-of-all-trades: a popular bandleader, a prolific composer of swing music, a serial entrepreneur, and a wildly successful teacher bringing the art of music-making to the masses.
Since its inception in 2006, the B-Side Band has become the premiere professional big band in the city of Brno in the Czech Republic. Now, under the direction of bandleader Josef Buchta, the band presents its newest album: MISSA JAZZ. In this latest work, the B-Side Band is joined by Chamber Orchestra Brno and the Ars Brunensis chamber choir; together, they perform Jaromír Hnilička’s Missa Jazz. As its name suggests, the work is a complete Mass, and the score for its first iteration is held at the Vatican Library. Now, the original composition has been expanded to include a chamber orchestra and several new choral parts, resulting in a total reimagining of the work. First debuted in the fall of 2008, this album is the first-ever studio recording of the final expanded version of the Missa Jazz.
Berl Olswanger returns for a second installment of timeless archival recordings on Big Round Records, with BERL OLSWANGER AT PEPPER RECORDS, a collection of tunes recorded during the late-50’s golden era of the Memphis record business. Olswanger hit the state-of-the-art studios at Pepper Records to record 10 songs by William “Pat” Best, Floyd Huddleston, Olswanger himself, and more.
I AM NOT A VIRUS from composer Jordan VanHemert and Big Round Records, is a collection of contemporary music uniquely fitting for this unprecedented juncture in human history. Called an "excellent outing" by jazz historian Scott Yanow, the collection of lively, piano-driven jazz band performances takes inspiration from a wide swath of timely subjects—everything from the coronavirus pandemic to racially charged police killings and the resulting Black Lives Matter protests of 2020.
Big Round Records presents the first of three albums by “Mr. Music of Memphis,” Berl Olswanger, featuring tunes by Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael, Cole Porter, and more. From pop standards and jazz ditties to good old-fashioned polka, pianist Berl Olswanger wrested command of just about every style.
Fresh from Big Round Records comes the Cotatcha Orchestra’s BIGBANDOVÁ ELEKTRONIKA/BIGBAND ELECTRONICS. As its name suggests, this unprecedented album pairs original big band music with electronic music, concocting a sound—and perhaps even a brand new genre—that listeners have never heard before.
New from Big Round Records comes jazz composer and pianist Paul English’s GIRL IN GREEN. The album features never-before-heard renditions of immortal classics as well as English’s original works. Listen as English and his cadre of masterful soloists carve a place for themselves in jazz history.
Described by critics as “beyond category, to use Duke Ellington’s signature compliment” (All About Jazz), Japanese marimba extraordinaire Mika Stoltzman brings her wealth of experience to her latest “Mikarimba” album, Big Round Records’ TAPEREBÁ. Vibrant and bursting with flavor (just like the Brazilian fruit which the album derives its title from), the jazzy TAPEREBÁ features performances by Stoltzman and a circle of legendary fellow artists. With over 25 Grammy Awards shared between the members on this record, a memorable listening experience is practically guaranteed.
On TO ONE, Croatian-born Lela Kaplowitz delivers a collection of songs that expressively hearken back to the singer/songwriter era of the 1970s, reviving the spirit of such ground-breaking artists as Carole King, Laura Nyro, and Roberta Flack. Kaplowitz, who has been lauded by jazz vocal legend Sheila Jordan as “an extremely talented vocalist” and Bobby McFerrin as having a “wonderful voice,” presents a nuanced mélange of pop, soul, jazz, and even folk music on TO ONE.
Even though the tracks on BIRTH OF A CITY are loosely grouped by their titles, the recording is very much a concept album. Haney, himself an accomplished pianist who also studied composition, scored the pieces for a kind of string quartet (violin – viola – cello – double bass), interspersed by varying quantities of brass instruments and percussion. Naturally, as one would expect from this kind of music, all works are scored with exactitude – for the most part, that is. Remarkably, Haney grants the performers a great amount of improvisatory freedom – indubitably owing to his own background in jazz, the genre which definitely and definitively shines through in all his compositions.
A BISSEL RHYTHM is composer and clarinetist Paul Green’s PARMA Recordings debut, although it marks his second recorded exploration into the fusion between jazz and Jewish music. A performance at Merkin Concert Hall resulted in the New York Times extolling his talents: “Like a cobra intent on doing some charming of its own, the clarinetist Paul Green weaved, darted and hovered over his instrument…conjuring gorgeous sounds.”
Concert pianist and composer Michael Arnowitt, assisted by ImproVisions Jazz, makes his Big Round Records debut with SWEET SPONTANEOUS, the title drawn from a poem by e.e.cummings. This two-disc jazz album features 14 of Arnowitt’s own compositions with the composer himself at the piano, joined by a dozen jazz notables including Yosvany Terry on alto sax, Lucas Pino on tenor sax, Dave Smith on trumpet, and Colin Stranahan on drums.