John Stein – Lifeline – For many years, the remarkable guitarist John Stein has enjoyed high prestige and respect among colleagues and jazz lovers. According to his creative interests, Stein is revered as the direct heir of Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell and Grant Green. For many years, Stein has been closely associated with the renowned New Bedford, Massachusetts-based independent label Whaling City Sound, where his work is published. Due to this fact, almost all of them have been reviewed on our website. Recently, John suffered a serious illness and only now gradually began to recover, returned home from the hospital, but still cannot play his favorite instrument, which he has not parted with since the age of seven. This prompted John, along with the Whaling City Sound team, to create a kind of anthology of his work over the past twenty years. This idea took shape in the form of a large album of two discs (only two and a half hours of sound), for which Stein selected his most significant recordings of different years. The album is called Lifeline and will be released on Whaling City Sound on June 17th.
If you have never heard the music of John Stein before, then Lifeline will give you the opportunity to get to know this guitarist and composer, to appreciate his skill in playing in a variety of formats – after all, the recordings for the album are taken from different albums, where John played with different partners: from Green Street (1999) to Serendipity (2021). There were a lot of them, and among them there are many high-class jazzmen, which gives the album additional interest. So, the first disc opens with the piece Up and at ‘em, where Stein’s main partner in the quartet is the famous saxophonist David Fathead Newman. And already in the second track of Brazilian Hug, it will become clear to you how much Stein loves Brazilian music. This love was born when John was in the 7th grade, and the family first purchased a stereo player, and one of the first discs in the home collection was the album by Stan Getz and João Gilberto. Since then, both swing and bossa nova have become Stein’s guiding stars in music.
There will be many more “Brazilian” pieces in the album, as well as first-class Brazilian musicians, such as percussionist Ze Eduardo Nazario or flutist Fernando Brandao. I will also pay attention to the piece Moonlight in Vermont, where Larry Gouldings’ piano dialogues with Stein’s guitar, as well as the classical standard On Green Dolphin Street, an example of Stein’s deep understanding of the jazz tradition. But Stein is no stranger to music of a completely different kind – listen, for example, to Stanley Turentine’s almost funky version of Sugar or the author’s lyric composition Ira’s Tango, which John dedicated to his father. Literally every one of the twenty-six tracks on the album deserves a mention, but instead of listing them all, I’ll end this text with an aphoristic comment from Whaling City Sound President Neal Weiss: “CDs often take on a life of their own. This album gives a real sense of the vast amount of quality music John has created and released over the last twenty plus years. It’s a great overview of his journey in music and also a top notch collection, so fire up the player, sit back and listen.”
Mario Hilario of NBC Studio 10 interviewed Bruce Gertz, a Berklee alum/educator, and Raleigh Green, a professional designer, developer, musician, and educator. Together they built this music sight-reading program with the aim of carving out a completely unique and impactful educational space. Says Gertz, “We are really excited about the vast potential of what this product can provide to students and professionals all over the world.”
Essentially launching both a library and a hybrid app all in one, the first release, “Classical Collection Vol 1”, is part of the Interactive Sight
Reading Series. This runs on the platform, Music Sight Reader, available on Apple Books (formerly iBooks from 2010 to 2018) an e-book reading and store application by Apple Inc. for its iOS and macOS operating systems. Music Sight Reader runs natively within Apple Books on Apple devices such as iPads, iPhones and Mac computers.
The flagship “Classical Collection Vol.1”, includes classical duets, trios, and quartets (featuring Bach, Brahms, Mozart, and more), arranged for a given clef and instrument. The bass volume has been arranged for bass clef, while the guitar volume has been arranged for treble clef. This means that guitar players, for example, can now read both voices of a Mozart Sonata originally composed for piano, or a bass student can now read all parts of a Bach Chorale, originally composed for voice. Choose which part to play and Music Sight Reader will play the other parts, while the notes automatically scroll across the screen.This cutting-edge format gives musicians around the globe fresh new access to some of the greatest music ever written, all without the trappings of standard sight reading apps (subscription plans and in-the-style-of arrangements). The pieces in ‘Classical Collection Vol 1” can also be purchased À la carte as individual works. À la carte pieces and collections arranged for piano are currently under development and will be released soon.
Changes the Game for Musicians
Interactive sheet music comes to the Apple Books platform
Music Sight Reader is the first of its kind. In a marketplace saturated with music education apps, hardcover sheet music, and sheet music for download, Music Sight Reader rises to the top as a new way for students, educators, and musicians to practice, teach, and enjoy sight reading. The platform is neither an app nor an e-book, but rather an app/e-book combo. Music Sight Reader is interactive sheet music for your virtual bookshelf.
Essentially launching both a library and a hybrid app all in one, the first release, “Classical Collection Vol 1”, is part of the Interactive Sight Reading Series. This runs on the platform, Music Sight Reader, available on Apple Books (formerly iBooks from 2010 to 2018) an e-book reading and store application by Apple Inc. for its iOS and macOS operating systems. Music Sight Reader runs natively within Apple Books on Apple devices such as iPads, iPhones and Mac computers.
The flagship “Classical Collection Vol.1”, includes classical duets, trios, and quartets (featuring Bach, Brahms, Mozart, and more), arranged for a given clef and instrument. The bass volume has been arranged for bass clef, while the guitar volume has been arranged for treble clef. This means that guitar players, for example, can now read both voices of a Mozart Sonata originally composed for piano, or a bass student can now read all parts of a Bach Chorale, originally composed for voice. Choose which part to play and Music Sight Reader will play the other parts, while the notes automatically scroll across the screen.
This cutting-edge format gives musicians around the globe fresh new access to some of the greatest music ever written, all without the trappings of standard sight reading apps (subscription plans and in-the-style-of arrangements). The pieces in ‘Classical Collection Vol 1” can also be purchased À la carte as individual works. À la carte pieces and collections arranged for piano are currently under development and will be released soon.
Bruce Gertz and Raleigh Green are onto something special with Music Sight Reader. Gertz, a Berklee alum/educator, and acclaimed jazz bass player and Green, a professional designer, developer, musician, and educator, built this music sight-reading program with the aim of carving out a completely unique and impactful educational space. Says Gertz, “We are really excited about the vast potential of what this product can provide to students and professionals all over the world.”
“This is a really wonderful idea for an interactive Apple Books/app. Of course, not only do you practice your reading but you play through classic melodies. And you can use Music Sight Reader for analyzing some of those great compositions. Congratulations!” — Mike Stern
Whaling City Sound warmly thanks the knowledgeable and committed readers of DOWNBEAT Magazine for the honor of making our label #5 on the list of esteemed jazz labels for the year 2020-21. While some deride polls as “popularity contests,” all of us at Whaling City Sound have no problem being considered near the top of those organizations who bring jazz to you on a regular basis.
We are also thankful that many of the artists featured on our releases in recent years, either as leaders, co-leaders, or side-persons, have been recognized by Downbeat readers. Congratulations to those who have achieved this well-earned recognition. If we left anyone out of the list below, we apologize, and again, thank you for listening and voting. Feel free to reach out to us if you would like to know more about which releases include any particular musicians. ~Neal Weiss, President.
Hall of Fame: Kenny Barron #2
Jazz Artist: Christian McBride: #2, Kenny Barron: #7, Teri Lyne Carrington
Trumpet: Ingrid Jensen
Trombone: Steve Davis
Soprano sax: David Liebman #2,
Alto sax: Greg Abate: #2
Tenor Sax: Gerry Bergonzi
Flute: Ted Nash, David Liebman
Piano: Chick Corea, #1, Kenny Barron, #3
Keyboard: Mark Cary
Organ: Joey DeFrancesco, #1: Larry Goldings, #3
Guitar: Russell Malone
Bass: Ron Carter, #2: John Patitucci, Linda May Han Oh, Dezron Douglas
Drums: Teri Lyne Carrington, #3: Joe Farnsworth; Johnathan Blake, Jeff “Tain” Watts
JIM ROBITAILLE in concert THURSDAY, AUGUST 14, 2021, sets 5:30 + 7:15 PM
“Bossas, Ballads, and Blues” New Bedford AHA! Night (AHA is Art-History-Architecture)
A FREE arts & cultural event in Downtown New Bedford, MA
The jazz wall on the side of the Kaller Beef Building houses
Fiber Optics Center and Whaling City Sound, 23 Center Street, New Bedford.
American jazz guitarist Jim Robitaille, who constantly collaborates with the label Whaling City Sound, and looks like and does not look like himself, if you compare his last year’s album A View From Within (a review of the disc is on the site) and the current Space Cycles. Similar, because his compositional imagination and soft, somehow cozy sound, which the authors of the press release for the new album compare with the tradition of Legato, coming from Jim Hall, Abercrombie and Schofield, have not gone away. And it doesn’t look like it, because Space Cycles is recorded in a completely different format – a classic trio with a guitar and a rhythm band. In fact, A View From Within also featured the same trio, but with a significant addition: then there was a saxophonist next to Robitaille on the stage, and not just anyone, but Dave Liebman himself. The main plot of that album was based on the interaction of guitar and saxophone. In Space Cycles, Jim Robitaille reigns supreme. Of course, it is tightly and qualitatively supported by the rhythm group (both musicians, bass guitarist Bill Miele and drummer Chris Poudrier, I have not heard before) – the king, as you know, makes a retinue, and in this sense, Jim’s partners are quite on the level.
Of the ten songs on the album, Robitaille wrote seven. Of the three covers of the program, I, as a person who grew up on Beatles music, was particularly pleased with the jazz version of the Lennon and McCartney song Here, There, and Everywhere. But even more interesting to listen to their own compositions Robitaille. Jim played the title song Space Cycles very temperamentally and with a good drive, but, as I think, at heart he is still more of a lyricist. Both the starting Natural Selection, and the elegiac When We Passed, and the strict Nocturne – here the beauty of the sound of the Robitaille instrument in the slow pace of music is revealed with special force. Jim in all the pieces, both his own and arranged, stylistically remains within the framework of post-BOP. Hand on heart, the modern mainstream is not always interesting to listen to. Unfortunately, many young musicians, having mastered jazz technique perfectly at Berklee and other modern schools, do not always know what they really want to say with it. Jim Robitaille well-versed in the categories of “what”, “how” and “why”. This is probably why listening to his music is both interesting and enjoyable.
After a brief interlude in a group format, Jim Robitaille is back inside the sparse and generous spaces of his trio. Flanked by Bill Miele on electric bass and Chris Poudrier on drums, Robitaille sounds as if he’s returned home after being away for a while. Originally, the trio evolved out of a jam session series Robitaille ran out of UMass Dartmouth and today it has certainly become a part of his musical DNA.
Like most of his previous trio work, Space Cycles explores the lexicon of post-bop jazz, but also features a variety of roots and branches. The sonic spectrum spans delicate ballads and energetic funk. The recording features seven Robitaille originals along with three covers—the jazz standard “Baubles, Bangles and Beads,” “Never Never Land” (from the 1954 Broadway musical Peter Pan), and the Beatles’ “Here, There and Everywhere.” The canvas is vast and allows for the trio to paint in vibrant colors as it spreads out before them.
From the moody opener, “Natural Selection,” to the closing, epic ensemble jam “Chance Meeting,” the session is dazzling, even sublime. The colors throughout these arrangements pulse and glow, while Robitaille’s guitar tone—born in the legato tradition of names like Hall, Abercrombie and Scofield—articulates a palette of explosive creativity. At his side, Miele and Poudrier support Robitaille’s work with sturdy, confident rhythm and gentle explorations of their own. Miele shines frequently, in spots such as his melodic solos on “All the Things You Are” and “When We Passed.” Poudrier is loose on “Baubles, Bangles and Beads,” and he comes out swinging on “Chance Meeting,” helping the trio to close out the session with freewheeling brio. It is a fitting end to an album that feels like a journey, punctuated by exhilarating straightaways, gorgeous viewpoints, and chilled out rest areas.
Like a flowing, casual conversation among old friends, the comfort level of the musicians here feels brisk, amusing, impressive, and, above all, satisfying to hear. Robitaille is coming into a new level of expression. His musical scope has evolved, as has the tone from his guitar, leaping over traditional jazz into the great and jazzy unknown, a place where Robitaille, with the help of his longtime accompanists, clearly feels wonderfully familiar.
Positive reviews are coming in for “A View From Within,” an album of jazz released in October by The Jim Robitaille Group on the local label Whaling City Sound. A professor at UMass-Dartmouth, Robitaille is a guitarist teamed with three esteemed musicians, foremostly internationally renowned saxophonist Dave Liebman. “These compositions represent my goals of creating a personal style and sound in my playing and writing with my instrument,” Robitaille said. “I want to make a statement with a natural, authentic sound and expression in the music and the playing, and hopefully the emotional elements of the music moves people.” The online publication All About Jazz described the record as “pure magic, fire and finesse with a rare degree of passion. (Robitaille) is an artist deserving greater recognition.”
Award-winning guitarist Jim Robitaille and Dave Liebman (soprano and tenor saxophones), Tony Marino (double bass), and Alex Ritz (drums) present A View from Within, a vibrant jazz album that captivates the listener with its extraordinary flair. A treasure for connoisseurs of the genre, A View from Within is highly recommended for personal and public library jazz guitar collections, and also makes an excellent gift! The tracks are “A View from Within”, “Slow Tuesday”, “Point of Origin”, “Nightfall”, “Touch and Go”, “Opaque”, “What is this Thing Called Love”, “Spatial”, and “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise”.