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
“Robitaille’s guitar tone articulates a palette of explosive creativity. – Johnston Sunrise
Space Cycles is a unique and extraordinary jazz album, that ventures beyond conventional boundaries. – Midwest Review
Quite an impression is made on the listener as these players develop this piece into a breathtaking flight of fancy.– Bill Copeland
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”.
Mixed Media Promotions intern and guitarist Jeffrey DiIorio, a graduate student in music at URI, plays with Alexus Lee at CAV Providence on Feb. 13. Alexus plays jazz standards and easy contemporary music every Wednesday at CAV from 6:30p – 9:00p.