Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Museum of Romanticism and More: Madrid, museum capital

From a media release:

The Museum of Romanticism and More: Madrid, museum capital

Madrid’s Museum of Romanticism and Costume Museum join forces for this exhibition of 22 outfits, reflecting the social uses of fashion in the 19th century.Most of the items are from the Costume Museum’s collection, including a frock coat which belonged to the writer Mariano José de Larra, and several wedding dresses and ball gowns with corsets and crinolines, very typical of the period. Tail-coats, waistcoats and frock coats are also on display. This temporary exhibition is complemented by themed activities for all ages. The exhibit is on until March 5, 2017.

Madrid - the Museum Route
At the end of the 18th century, King Charles III had a large avenue built with trees, fountains monuments and palaces fit for the capital of his kingdom. These buildings have been adapted for cultural purposes over the years, lending them world renown. Alongside newer buildings, they mean visitors can enjoy an infinite experience in the world of art in just 2 kilometres.

It's difficult to gauge the time this route takes. It will all depend on your interest in the various styles of artistic expression to be found along the route and how long you'd like to spend exploring all the cultural venues on the Paseo del Prado and in the surrounding streets.
View of the Puerta de Goya entrance, Prado Museum. © Turespaña
We recommend starting with a visit to the exhibitions in two emblematic buildings in Calle Alcalá street at the junction with the Gran Vía. The Círculo de Bellas Artes (Academy of Fine Arts) founded in 1880, is at no. 42, and keeps a close watch on all the latest avant-garde art trends. Across the street at no. 49 is the Cariátides building, today the headquarters of the Cervantes Institute, dedicated to promoting Hispanic culture.

We start heading up the Paseo del Prado from the famous Cibeles fountain. Before setting off, take a look at the Casa de América (Plaza de Cibeles, 2) in the Linares Palace. Legend has it that the palace's ghosts may surprise visitors as they tour the rococo-style rooms, browse the exhibitions or attend debates on Latin American issues.
Exterior of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum © Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
The Thyssen-Bornemisza museum is at no. 88 Paseo del Prado, in the neo-classical Villahermosa Palace . A tour of the permanent collection offers an extensive survey of European painting from the 13th century to the present day, with outstanding works from the Renaissance, Impressionist and avant-garde movements. It also houses one of the few collections of 19th-century North American painting in Europe.

Now, we should prepare to dedicate a large part of the day to the main destination on the route: the Prado Museum. It's no surprise that it's regarded as one of the most important galleries in the world, and an absolute must for art lovers. Velázquez, Goya, El Greco, Rubens, Hieronymus Bosch... and numerous other towering figures of universal art hang on the walls of the rooms in this great neo-classical building. Designed by Juan de Villanueva, a recent extension by Rafael Moneo (2007) now houses new exhibition spaces and museum services.

Our artistic tour continues at no. 36 with a new modern venue: the CaixaForum culture and exhibition centre designed by the architects Herzog and De Meuron. The vertical garden hanging from the façade offers an evoactive counterpoint to its neighbour across the road, the Royal Botanical Gardens, with 30,000 plant species.

We're now reaching the southernmost point and the end of the Paseo del Arte. The Reina Sofía National Art Museum (Santa Isabel, 52) was recently extended by Jean Nouvel and provides a fitting addition to our journey with a wide selection of contemporary painting. Here we can see Picasso's Guernica and the work of artists such as Miró, Dalí, Saura, Gargallo, Magritte and Max Ernst.
Façade of the Reina Sofía National Art Centre © Ministerio de Cultura
There's also the option of adding another three visits. First, the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts museum (Alcalá, 13, around 20 minutes' walk from the Reina Sofía National Art Museum) has a collection of paintings from the 16th to the 19th centuries. We can also stop off at the National Museum of Decorative Arts (Montalbán, 12) which houses around 15,000 pieces. Finally, the Naval Museum (Paseo del Prado, 5) contains collections on Spain's naval history.

Global Fusion: Charles Okafor 'America' Remixes

From a media release:


Buy the EP
Buy America

Nigerian-born, US-world citizen Charleston Okafor has never been one to do things predictably. He left Nigeria for the U.S. to study pre-med at Western Kentucky University, but that plan was quickly dashed when MTV reawakened his long held dream of a recording career. He soon left school to pursue his musical vision.
Charles Okafor
Now, rather than following the typical industry route of following an original release with remixes, he’s putting out the remixes first, in advance of his second album, America (out December 12th on RHOV). Together with Canadian global fusion producer Eccodek (aka Andrew McPherson), Okafor has crafted a record full of organic, live-off-the-floor intensity, groove and sonic texturalism that drives the diverse lyrical themes of life with two passports, love and partnership, the human soul and power and oppression.

For the preceding remixes (out November 11th), Okafor turned to friends he’s made since embarking on his musical journey. Charleston and Dub Trio founder Joe Tomino go back to the late 90’s reggae club scene in Cleveland (where Okafor has made his home), when their bands gigged at the same clubs and appeared on the same bills; the two even sat in with each other’s groups on occasion. Tomino takes the electro-dancehall raga of “Rama Rama” and stone cold dubs it, slowing the tempo of the original considerably and applying a classic, tripped-out dubplate vibe reminiscent of Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Black Ark days.

Charleston first heard the music of Dubmatix (aka Jesse King) through spinning some of his tracks on African Abstract, the radio show Okafor’s hosted since 1992. As luck would have it, America producer Eccodek knew Dubmatix well and introduced him to Charleston. The result is a chilled out version of “Rama Rama,” with a skipping, reggaefied lilt that will work subtle magic on the dancefloor.

For a remix of the title track, Charleston enlisted the services of long time friends Ray Lugo and Jake Fader of Kokolo Afrobeat Orchestra. The three met in 2006 when Charleston booked Kokolo to play at AfroFest Cleveland, an event of Okafor’s creating. Ray and Jake have since formed their own duo, Los Terrificos. With its jazz funk groove, the original version of “America” is probably the most “American” song on the album. But while Los Terrificos’ Latin-tinged, Afrobeat remix production conjures a more exotic vibe, it also feels right at home in the truly welcoming melting pot that is Okafor’s vision of America.

To accompany the release of the remixes and album, Okafor shot a video set to the Dubmatix version of “Rama Rama.” It’s a fitting and poetic completion of the cycle that began when he first encountered MTV, an experience that significantly influenced his life, just as it did the lives of the generation of American kids who grew up with the channel.

With the release of these remixes -- followed closely by the original, America -- Okafor begins a new cycle, one that is as sure to be as unpredictable as it is to see him maintaining a life in music. Fittingly, the U.S., with its culmination of one of the most heated presidential campaigns ever, is also about to begin a new cycle. True to his trademark confidence and good cheer, Charleston has no doubt that, regardless of who’s leading it, his adopted home country will remain what it meant to him since before he first moved here: a beacon of hope. That’s what Charleston Okafor’s America is all about.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Latin Alternative: Nacional Records Highlights of 2016

From our friends at Nacional Records in Los Angeles:

Nacional Records
Highlights of 2016

Take a listen to our "Taste of 2016" Spotify playlist

This year was a rollercoaster ride! Below are silver linings from some of the amazing artists we are lucky to work with. We look forward to the new year.

With more than ten years under our belts, we are proud to have released albums by amazing artists such as Nortec Collective, Tom Tom Club, Aterciopelados, Alex Anwandter, Ceci Bastida, Systema Solar, El Guincho, Elastic Bond, Los Amigos Invisibles, Ana Tijoux, La Vida Boheme,  Manu Chao, Bomba Estereo, Mexican Institute of Sound. DJ Bitman, DJ Raff, and Jarabe de Palo among many others over the years. We are happy to have accomplished so much in 2016, and here's to an amazing 2017!

Rumbera is the first single for Systema Solar's new album "Rumbo A Tierra" out January 13th, 2017

Pre-order "Rumbo a Tierra" on iTunes 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Jazz Bass: Jeff Denson Quartet - Concentric Circles (Ridgeway Records)

From a media release:

Bassist Extraordinaire, Composer and Vocalist Jeff Denson
Redefines his Ever-Expanding Creative Universe with Concentric Circles
(Ridgeway Records, June 24, 2016)

"From his hard driving quarter note swing, to cello-like bowed melodies and interactive counterpoint, Denson is always surprising and inspiring!"-Lee Konitz

Buy the CD

A protean musical force who reveals new sonic realms with each project, Jeff Denson decided to see what it sounds like when his worlds collide. The bassist, composer, professor and bandleader has produced an array of astonishing music since settling in the San Francisco Bay Area. He's explored intricate harmonic soundscapes in Electreo with drummer Alan Hall and bassoon and electronics virtuoso Paul Hanson, and reached his widest audience collaborating with the octogenarian alto legend on 2015's The Jeff Denson Trio + Lee Konitz. His new album Concentric Circles, just released on his Ridgeway label on June 24, combines the talent-laden personnel of Electreo and the Jeff Denson Trio in a startlingly original quartet.

Featuring Electreo's Hanson and Hall and the Jeff Denson Trio's pianist Dan Zemelman, Concentric Circles is a breathtaking acoustic project that focuses on the bassist's finely wrought compositions. While only two tracks feature his vocals, Denson's writing is deeply informed by his connection to the voice, a lyrical sensibility that manifests itself in his breathtaking bow work and gracefully flowing pizzicato lines. While he draws personnel from two ongoing ensembles, Denson sees Concentric Circles as encompassing yet another distinct creative domain by building on the intricately constructed chamber jazz of Secret World, his 2012 album featuring trumpeter Ralph Alessi, drummer Dan Weiss and pianist Florian Weber (his partner in the acclaimed collective trio Minsarah).

"I started with the concept of bringing these two groups together, so that's one set of circles," Denson says. "And I'm writing music dealing with interlocking melodies, wheels within wheels, themes exploring constant change and the world we live in. It's really a follow up to Secret World, a setting in which I'm really free to write and compose. The pieces aren't lead sheet style compositions. The forms are pretty complicated, with a lot of through-composed parts, written out second lines and improvised sections that touch on my circles of influence-jazz, free improv, chamber music, and the centrality of the voice."

Marked by rapid movement and vivid incident, the album opens with "City Life," a tune built on an unusual subdivision of seven inspired by the relentless momentum of New York subways. Like a Mondrian grid, the piece turns an abstract representation into the pulsing embodiment of urban experience. Driven by Zemelman's hurtling left hand, "Anticipation" exemplifies Denson's gift for crafting extended melodic lines. Navigating the long form and the unexpected harmonic progression with seeming ease, these consummate musicians make his highly challenging piece sound like an oft-played jazz standard.

One of the many pleasures provided by Concentric Circles is the way in which Denson and Hanson blend their sumptuous sounds. On "A Thought That Lingers" it's often impossible to distinguish between the double reed and the arco bass as the episodic, multi-meter tune moves from the lush opening harmonies to the jagged, almost atonal middle section and the concluding return to comforting tonality. Like Electreo, Denson sees the ensemble as a forum for exploring Hanson's unprecedented mastery. "Almost immediately after meeting him I put Electreo together and we started doing gigs in different settings," he says. "In addition to being a hyper virtuoso, Paul is arguably the top improvising bassoonist in the world."

Denson's formative source of inspiration, the voice, moves to the foreground on "Wishing Well," a gently imploring chamber jazz setting that serves as an open letter to a close friend. He puts his voice to very different use on "Once the Door Opens," a ravishing piece in which Denson's lithe bass moves in a different meter than his wordless vocal line. A spiritually charged journey, the song builds to an exquisite intertwined harmonic dance between bass, vocals, and bassoon. While conceived with lyrics, "Time Waits for No One" turned into an instrumental number with Denson bowing the melancholy, almost brooding melody.
Jeff Denson

The album closes with Duke Ellington's classic lament "I've Got It Bad." It's a brief solo bass tour de force, rendered entirely with ringing harmonics, an exercise that flows from Denson's continual quest to bring the bass into new territory. "I wanted to see what I could do to make it sound like a chordal instrument," he says. "You can make the bass sound like a flute or angels singing, so you wouldn't even know it's this gigantic wooden box."

Make no mistake, Denson writes difficult music. The marvelous coherence and captivating interplay on Concentric Circles is a testament to these musicians' capacious skills. Zemelman is "a very creative and very musical player who's really interested in straight ahead jazz," Denson says. "But he's also very open, and a great reader. He's a great melodic improviser, who can bridge these different sounds I'm interested in with his classical background. And Alan is awesome, a super creative person. He's a fantastic visual artist who does mixed-media work with photography and found objects. And of course he's a virtuoso drummer, with amazing rhythmic control, and an incredible amount of power and energy he can bring to a group."

Preparing to move to New York City upon graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2005 from the MM in Jazz Studies at the Florida State Univeristy, Jeff ran into bass giant Mark Dresser, who had just been hired as a professor at UC San Diego. With Dresser's encouragement and a full scholarship, Denson relocated to Southern California and earned his doctorate in contemporary music performance with an emphasis on composition. Throughout his San Diego sojourn, Denson continued to tour widely with Minsarah, and it was during a spate of 2006 concerts in Germany that Lee Konitz first heard the band, "the start of a great adventure," Denson says. "The stuff we do is very different than any music in his canon. Lee is a true improviser. He doesn't play licks. He really responds."

With Minsarah serving as his band, the critically hailed Lee Konitz New Quartet debuted on 2007's Deep Lee and followed up with 2009's Live at the Village Vanguard, which earned the 2010 Album of the Year Award from France's Jazzman Magazine, and 2014's Standards Live: At the Village Vanguard (all on Enja). Denson went on to demonstrate his vast versatility with simultaneous duo releases, interpreting American hymns and spirituals with powerhouse San Diego pianist Joshua White on I'll Fly Away and recording an album of free improvisation with Swiss clarinet virtuoso Claudio Puntin on Two. Since relocating to the East Bay in 2011 to take on a full professorship at the California Jazz Conservatory, Denson has forged ties with some of the Bay Area's top players, including clarinetist Ben Goldberg and guitarist Mimi Fox. A prolific composer and arranger, he's written music for an array of jazz settings, from big band to trio, as well as for string ensembles, solo bass, and a chamber opera.

He's brought his many pursuits under one umbrella with the recent unveiling of Ridgeway Arts, a non-profit designed to enhance and fortify the Bay Area scene, and to make a strong contribution to the national landscape of jazz and the arts in general, through a four-pronged plan of expression, education, presenting and documentation.  He introduced the initiative with The Jeff Denson Trio + Lee Konitz, and followed up with Arctic by Alan Hall's critically hailed electric ensemble Ratatet. With Concentric Circles, Denson continues to expand Ridgeway's possibilities, building bridges between artists, students, and audiences "to get the music to people," he says. "It's a vehicle for music that gets lost amidst the dross of mass culture."

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Ian Maksin & Guests: Cello Unlimited at le poisson rouge - New York City January 4th 2017

From a media release:

Ian Maksin & Guests: Cello Unlimited
at le poisson rouge - New York City
January 4th, 2017

Buy Tickets

NEW YORK CITY - Credibly one of today’s most versatile and innovative artists, cellist and composer Ian Maksin has taken the instrument yet to a new dimension. Equally brilliant in many genres from classical and jazz to world music, Maksin is using the cello as the common denominator and has created his own style by blending together these old elements in a new way.

For his LPR debut, Ian Maksin will cover all bases from unaccompanied cello suites by J.S. Bach to his original music infused with traditional flavors from his native Russia, the Balkans and Flamenco Arabe, as well as his own funky take on some jazz and rock classics. He will sing along with his cello in at least four languages backed up by a pair of New York’s finest instrumentalists.

Cellist and composer Ian Maksin has gained international acclaim for his beautiful tone and distinct style as well as his uniquely charismatic way with the audience. Apart from being recognized as one of the leading classical musicians, Maksin plays jazz,  world, blues, flamenco, rock, R&B, pop, and has taken the cello well outside its conventional scope. He has collaborated with artists of many different genres including Andrea Bocelli, P. Diddy, Snoop Dogg and Gloria Estefan. He has also opened for such artists as Sting and his guitarist Dominic Miller.

Toronto Dance Theatre Presents Noisy by Ame Henderson January 26 to February 4 2017

From a media release:

Toronto Dance Theatre Presents
Noisy, a New Work by Ame Henderson
January 26 to February 4, 2017

Buy Tickets

Dec 16, 2016 (Toronto) - Toronto Dance Theatre (TDT) proudly announces the premiere of choreographer Ame Henderson's Noisy (January 26 - 28. 2017 + Feb 1 - 4, 2017 at 8 PM; January 29, 2017 at 2 PM) at the Winchester Street Theatre in historic Cabbagetown, Toronto.

TDT artists James Phillips, Valeria Calam and Pulga Muchochoma in Noisy.
Photo: Omer Yukseker, 2016. 
Ame Henderson returns to TDT in a continuation of the experimental trajectory that drove her Dora-nominated Henderson / Castle: voyager. In that piece Henderson worked with her collaborators, including singer/songwriter Jennifer Castle, to discover what happens when the body must stay in motion without repetition. Noisy, in partnership with acclaimed musicians Robin Dann and
Matt Smith, sees her questioning the silent presence of the dancer: the song is given to the performers themselves.

How does the dance change when the dancer is responsible for creating both movement and song in an always-emerging counterpoint? Noisy resists a predetermined arc, insisting, rather, on a radical negotiation of time, movement and melody in a dance of un-muted bodies.
Created in partnership with musicians Matt Smith and Robin Dann, lighting designer Simon Rossiter, costume designer Claudia Fancello and performers Valerie Calam, Alana Elmer, Yuichiro Inoue, Justin de Luna, Pulga Muchochoma, James Phillips and Christianne Ullmark.

Thursday, January 26 - 8:00 PM
Friday, January 27 - 8:00 PM
Saturday, January 28 - 8:00 PM
Sunday, January 29 - 2:00 PM (PWYC)

Wednesday, February 1 - 8:00 PM
Thursday, February 2 - 8:00 PM
Friday, February 3 - 8:00 PM
Saturday, February 4 - 8:00 PM

Winchester Street Theatre, 80 Winchester St, Toronto
TICKETS: Adult $25 | Student/Senior $20
BOX OFFICE: 416-967-1365 or

Audiences are invited to attend Into the Work at the Winchester Street Theatre on Monday, January 16, 2017 at 7 PM to learn more about the creative process and get a behind-the-scenes look at Noisy. This free event brings audiences closer to the act of creation and features a special discussion with the creative team.

Barbershop, art gallery and cocktail den: Barber & Co arrives in the Six

From a media release:

Barber & Co arrives in the Six
Barbershop, art gallery and cocktail den on Ossington celebrates the modern man

TORONTO, ON – Steeped in a combined six generations of honest tradition, Barber & Co – a union of full-service barbershops and a grooming line for the modern man – opens its first location in Toronto today. Located on the vibrant Ossington strip, Barber & Co isn’t your average geriatric barbershop. Designed to meet the grooming needs of a contemporary man, each barbershop honours the longstanding ritual of a cut, trim or shave, merged with the cool comforts of a social club.
A haircut and a shave 
Hailing from the west coast, Barber & Co is built on a culture of traditional barbering - from the sharp expertise of the time-honoured craft to the shop chairs turned away from the mirrors to encourage social interaction – the Toronto outpost will offer men an authentic experience from generations past combined with the modernity of today. An amalgamation of old school curb appeal with a raw, modern edge, Barber & Co is the personification of the Ossington strips’ culture. Located in a building constructed in 1890, the barbershop pays homage to the character of the century-old home and the artists who previously resided in it. The original paint-splattered walls that once acted as a canvas for the artists are juxtaposed with sleek modern finishes, and complimented with baseball stitch leather barber chairs. A rotating cast of eclectic artwork and installations are bound to be conservation starters, and will also have passersby turn their heads in curiosity. This is a place where the craft of barbering thrives with a hint of the unexpected.

“Barbershops have a longstanding tradition of serving as social clubs, and our mission is to re-create the authentic barbershop experience that was established by our own fathers fathers,” says Martin Rivard, Co-Founder and Master Barber of Barber and Co. “We’re excited to bring Barber & Co to Toronto, and there’s no doubt that Ossington is the right place for barbering culture to thrive. We aim to cultivate a social space where men of all tastes can get skillfully groomed and hang out with the fellas.”
Exterior (L) and interior (R) shot of Barber & Co Ossington.Photo credit: Barber & Co
Play at the Gift Shop
An inspired addition unique to Barber & Co Ossington is Gift Shop, a dual-purpose spot in the back of the shop that encourages the guys to start (or continue) socializing pre- or post-cut or shave. The bar-shop hybrid, designed with retro tiles, dimly-lit mirrored ceilings and two working barber stations, is filled with iconic collectibles and memorabilia, from Rolex watches to vintage comic books, Hot Wheels and more, that are on display and available for purchase.

After hours, Gift Shop continues as a full-service cocktail bar, with patrons entering through the darkened barbershop, reminiscent of an old-school speakeasy.

Flip through the Gift Shop menu, loaded with cocktails skilfully curated by adventurous barman and Bartender of the Year Vancouver recipient, known as H. Skipped breakfast? Order the Breakfast of Champions ($13) for a hearty “meal” comprised of Wild Turkey bourbon, Vinzano rosso, dry curaçao marmalade, coffee and tobacco Angostura bitters and baked bread perfume. For that ravenous sweet tooth, Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory ($13) is just the right amount of nostalgia and well, sweetness, with Havana Club 3 rum, clarified lemon juice, banana split and chocolate peanut syrup, edible paint, egg white, candy sprinkles and cotton candy perfume. For those with a worldlier craving, Gift Shop offers four remarkable concoctions from New Orleans, New York, London and Victoria – a nod to the legends of cocktails past and present.

Pair drinks with light, but flavourful bar snacks sure to satisfy even the most discerning of taste buds. From grana Padano Cheese Straws ($2) with spicy salt to mixed Barnuts ($5) and smoked Castelvetrano Olives ($6), Gift Shop rounds out the Barber & Co experience.

Curious fact: The bar menu itself is a vintage play on old-timey collectables with its format reflective of Popular Science Magazine – a notable science journal founded in the late 19th century.

Stay well-groomed between visits
A grooming line, manufactured in Barber & Co’s Academy + Lab space in Vancouver’s historic Yaletown neighbourhood - keeps men well-groomed between visits. Paraben, sulfate-free and environmentally friendly, Barber & Co’s range of grooming products range from matte pomade or putty to beard and shave oil. Handcrafted using sustainable practices and natural ingredients whenever possible, the Barber & Co line is a modern interpretation of traditional sensibilities created by master barbers.

• To view a full list of Barber & Co’s products, click here.

Barbershop hours:
Monday to Friday: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Gift Shop hours
Wednesday to Sunday: 8 p.m. – Late

Instagram: barberandco
Twitter: @barberandco
Hashtag: #BarberandCoTO

About Barber & Co:
Steeped in a combined six generations of honest tradition, Barber & Co. is a union of full-service barbershops and grooming line for the modern man. The shops offer sharp expertise in the craft of barbering artfully blended with the comforts of a social club. The products are a modern interpretation of those traditional sensibilities made by barbers out of our Academy + Lab space in Vancouver’s historic Yaletown neighbourhood. Our products are crafted by hand using sustainable practices and natural ingredients whenever possible. They are paraben and sulfate free. Each product is developed in the lab and rigorously tested in our shops by our barbers before going to market.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Agriturismo in Puglia Italy: Explore centuries old food culture from the ground up

With material from a release:

Explore centuries old food culture from the ground up
Agriturismo in Puglia, Italy

Find a Farming Holiday in Puglia, Italy

If the shape of Italy is often compared to a boot, then Puglia, or Apulia, is the heel, a southern region of the European nation. Puglia stretches along hundreds of kilometres of coastline along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas that has been whitewashed by the warm Mediterranean sun. Here, you'll find a local culture with deep, deep roots. There are farms that have been cultivated for centuries, including, naturally vineyards, and olive groves, producing rich local cuisine that varies from town to town. There are enchanting cities full of baroque architecture and beautiful beaches to explore. This is where savvy travelers are finding an authentic taste of Italy without the crowds of Tuscany or Lombardy.
Torre Sant'Andrea, Lecce by Freddyballo

Over the centuries, the area has seen its share of ups and downs, peace and warfare, including getting caught up in Greek and Turkish battles. It was once part of the ancient Arab empire. Puglia is a place of contrasts and a history you can explore in places like the Castel del Monte (literally, Castel of the Mount), built by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and dating back to Byzantine and Norman civilization. But the typical historical buildings of this region are actually the Masserie, originally fortified farms, which are now dedicated to tourists.

In a region so renowned for its agricultural history and food culture, a farming holiday is the natural option. Here, you can abandon yourself to the slow pace of the countryside while exploring Puglia’s agricultural museums and didactic manor farms. These are set amidst broad expanses of centuries-old olive groves and vineyards where Designation of Origin products are made, like PDO extra virgin olive oil and delicious DOC (Controlled Designation of Origin) and IGT (Typical Geographical Indication) wines: Negroamaro, Aleatico and Primitivo.
Traditional trulli (sing. trullo) found only in the Itria Valley
This is the flavor of a countryside vacation, with its slow rhythms set by nature, and its settings beneath the star dome ceilings of ancient masserie (manor farms) and traditional trulli (traditional stone huts) surrounded by lush forests and stretches of farmland.
Puglia Masseria-Le-Fabricche
Bari is the capital of the region as well as a university town, and it's where you'll find the area's trendiest clubs and shops in the contrada Capitolo. This busy port on the Adriatic Sea has a beautifully preserved Old Town section with narrow, winding streets and artisan workshops, and beautiful old churches.
Castello di Bari, Puglia by Riccardo Cambiassi of London, UK
A drive along the coast from Bari will take you to a string of villages that dot the whitened cliffs. Molfetta, less than 20 km north from Bari, is one of the most important fishing centres in the region. The historic centre, famous for its “fishbone shaped” alleys, is dominated by the Romanesque Duomo of San Corrado, an architectural gem of the old city with two towers, and also by the Torrione Passari, belonging to the ancient city walls, the Church of Sant’Andrea and the Diocesan Museum.
View from Bari, Puglia at night
Each small village has its own typical recipes and dishes rich in local fragrances, with menus based on homemade orecchiette, grilled meats and fish-based specialties. But there are also seasonable vegetables, dairy products, cheeses and many baked goods: focaccia, fried pettole and sweet pasticciotti to savour.
Bari Basilica San Nicola
Eating your way through Puglia
In Puglia, land of extra virgin olive oil DOP (denomination of protected origin), fine wines of DOC (denomination of controlled origin) and IGT (typical geographic indication), the bounty of the land in agricultural products and seafood and fish from the turquoise seas merge into a delicious traditional cuisine.
Gargano, Puglia, Italy
In Gargano, among lakes and the sea, an area framed by the wonderful landscape of Lesina, you can taste the famed eels and other extra-fresh fish varieties, which in Peschici and Vieste are served inside the old trabucchi, a wooden fishing "machine" built to jut into the sea on a platform, suspended above the waters. In the province of Foggia, you will find some of the most beautiful hamlets in Italy,such as Rodi, Vico del Gargano and Ischitella: here valuable citrus trees are cultivated and you cannot miss sampling the prosciutto, and the lard of Faeto, along with the caciocavallo podolico, a type of cheese made from the raw milk of the Podoica, a rare breed of cow native to the region.
Antipasto tipico in Puglia nel Salento by Francesca Cesa Bianchi, Milano
Further south, in the Imperial Puglia and in the Land of Bari a superb delicatessen experience created by the dairy tradition and renowned bakery products await your eating pleasure. A visit to Castel del Monte, in Andria, is also a chance to taste the burrata, a fresh cheese made of mozzarella and cream, and the queen of Puglia’s dairy products.
Orecchiette al Pomodoro
The olive groves and vineyards of Bari have resulted in a famed tradition of cuisine. Bari area specialties include tiella (made with rice, potatoes and mussels,) soft focaccia made with fresh tomatoes, and orecchiette, the pasta that is the undisputed queen of Bari’s cuisine. In Alamura and Laterza, you'll savour the centuries old art of breadmaking. In the land of trulli, you’ll be welcomed by the smell of grilled meat. In the Itria Valley, in Martina Franca, Locorotondo and Cisternino: these quiet towns are best discovered at a leisurely pace while strolling through the paved alleys lined with whitewashed houses.
Basilica di Santa Croce in Lecce, Puglia by Paride81 at Italian Wikipedia
With the superb black mussels of Taranto, and Gallipoli’s fish soup, the sea literally vies with the land for the most authentic flavours and fragrances, finding their highest expression in the reinterpretation of traditional dishes. In Lecce, the "Florence of the South" with its treasure chest of southern Baroque architecture, traditional dishes made of local fava beans and chicory will win over your palate. Here you can order ciciri e tria, an ancient dish with Arab roots and made with pasta and chick peas, and pasticciotto, the traditional custard-filled sweet, which is sometimes called "pusties" in North America.

Puglia is a feast for all the senses, best experienced at the relaxed pace of the countryside.

Grammys 2017: Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony 'Mason Bates: Works for Orchestra'

From a media release:


Recording on Orchestra’s in-house label SFS Media nominated for Best Orchestral Performance

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SAN FRANCISCO, December 2016 — Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony’s live concert recording of works by Bay Area composer Mason Bates was nominated for a 2017 Grammy® Award today in the category of Best Orchestral Performance. Mason Bates: Works for Orchestra was released in March 2016 and features the first recordings of the SFS-commissioned The B-Sides and Liquid Interface, in addition to Alternative Energy. These three works illustrate Bates’s exuberantly inventive music that expands the symphonic palette with sounds of the digital age: techno, drum ‘n’ bass, field recordings and more, with the composer performing on electronica. MTT and the SFS have championed Bates’s works for over a decade, evolving a partnership built on multi-year commissioning, performing, recording, and touring projects. Click here to watch a video about Mason Bates: Works for Orchestra.

"I never cease to be astonished by the San Francisco Symphony's impact on American music,” stated Mason Bates this morning. “Their performances of living legends, from Lou Harrison to John Adams, have continually thrilled and educated me.  It's an honor to be part of their recorded legacy and receive this Grammy nomination.”
Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony by Bill Swerbenski

This recording is available as a hybrid SACD, playable in conventional CD players as well as in SACD stereo and SACD surround formats for audiophiles who want a greater range of premiere sound options, and as a studio master quality digital download. This is the 20th Grammy nomination for the San Francisco Symphony; the Orchestra has won 15 Grammy Awards, eight since launching SFS Media in 2001.The 59th annual Grammy Awards will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 12, 2017, and broadcast in high definition and 5.1 surround sound on the CBS Television Network at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Since the release of Mason Bates: Works for Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony has continued to collaborate with Mason Bates. In April 2016 the Orchestra performed the world premiere of his work Auditorium, with Bates performing on electronica. The performance was streamed live on Facebook, marking the first time a major symphony orchestra had utilized Facebook’s live video streaming feature for a world premiere performance and reaching nearly 1 million people from more than 50 countries.

In January 2017, SoundBox — the San Francisco Symphony’s experimental performance venue and late-night live music series — presents two performances co-curated by Mason Bates and Edwin Outwater and exploring music written in response to natural settings. These performances will culminate in the SFS premiere of Bates’s The Rise of Exotic Computing for sinfonietta and laptop.

• For more information about SoundBox visit

SFS Media is the San Francisco Symphony’s award-winning in-house label, launched in 2001. SFS Media releases reflect MTT and the SFS’s artistic vision of showcasing music by American composers as well as core classical masterworks and embody the broad range of programming that has been a hallmark of the MTT/SFS partnership. Recorded live in concert and engineered at Davies Symphony Hall, the audio recordings are released on hybrid SACD and in high-resolution digital formats.

All SFS Media recordings are available from the Symphony Store in Davies Symphony Hall and online at, digitally on, and from all major retailers and other digital outlets worldwide. SFS Media recordings are distributed by harmonia mundi in the U.S., Canada, and France, through Avie Records internationally, and by The Orchard to digital retailers.

Mason Bates: Works For Orchestra
Composer: Mason Bates (b. 1977)
Artists: San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas, Music Director, Mason Bates, electronica
The B-Sides (2007)
Liquid Interface (2009)
Alternative Energy (2011)
Release Date: March 11, 2016
Distribution: [PIAS] Group via RED Distribution and Sony Music Canada (U.S. & Canada)
Avie (International) The Orchard (Digital)

Sunday, December 11, 2016

#IndieMusic Dino Jag - You Make Me Feel So Good (Independent - 28 October 2016)

Dino Jag - You Make Me Feel So Good
(Independent - 28 October 2016)

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Recently released Dino Jag's EP You Make Me Feel So Good is an accomplished release that should establish his reputation internationally. It's full of catchy pop anthems like Two Young Hearts. The lyrics cover well worn romantic territory, but it's his impassioned and expressive delivery that elevates the material, along with imaginative arrangements that never sound like the same old, same old.

Dino Jag gives us a little bit of everything pop in this EP collection, including a quasi-country-rock turn on You Make Me Feel So that morphs into a bit of disco on the bridgek. It's the most original of the tracks, and one that feels idiosyncratic. Breakthrough, the title track, is a piano ballad, showcasing a nice upper range to his voice.

This is pop music that looks back to the classic era of the 1970s for its inspiration. Dino gets funky in Nothing But You, with a driving beat that wants to push you out of your seat, and slips into a retro Motown-ish mode for Sweet Summer Smile, where his voice is warm and muscular around the beats.

My Life Is Changed is the ballad of the EP, and again it's his nimble vocals that make the standard inspirational pop song more than the sum of its parts. He's got a nice range as well as control over tone that colours the notes.

A star in his native South Australia, Dino Jag first hit the music scene more than a decade ago in 2005 with a cover of Play That Funky Music that reached the charts in Australia and Scandinavia. This release is intended to be his definitive foray this side of the globe. It was recorded at the legendary Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood with Grammy Award Winning Producer Jeff Bova. Back kup musicians include Aaron Sterling (Drums - John Mayer), Corey Britz (Bass - Bush), Tim Pierce (Guitar - Bruce Springsteen), Jeff Bova (Keyboards - Michael Jackson), Carroll Hatchet (Backing Vocals - Bette Midler) & Bernard Fowler (Backing Vocals - The Rolling Stones).

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CD Review: Michael Van & The Movers - A Little More Country (Independent - December 20th 2016)

CD Review:
Michael Van & The Movers - A Little More Country
(Independent - December 20th 2016)

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Straight out of Georgia USA, Michael Van and the Movers come with this full length releast of roots country with a modern sensibility. It's classic, mainstream country music, straight up, performed with a sincerity that is true the music's roots from the tremulous emotion three singers squeeze out of their voices to the sweet vocal harmonies.

The instrumentation is lush in a rootsy vein, where mandolin works in nicely with a twangy slide guitar and the occasional fiddle line. Vocal variations with different singers, from the rich baritone of a country heartthrob to a raspier tone, add to the appeal of the CD.

Michael Van is the name of the band, but Van spreads the spotlight around pretty equally among an ensemble of talented players and vocalists, and that includes songwriting skills in the Americana/country/roots vein. Even the drum beat stumbles a little (intentionally that is) on Van's Getting Drunk On A Monday, an ode to barroom regulars. Gimme Back My Guitar is an old time country waltz that rolls along underneath lyrics about communicating in a relationship - modern sensibilities combine with a rich roots sound. It's a winning marriage that characterizes the whole CD.

Alan Bond (of Dark Hollow) plays tasteful mandolin leads and adds vocal harmonies, as well as songwriting talents. He sings lead on a few songs, including River Road, where the mournful quality of his voice works nicely with the silvery notes of his mandolin. In Skedaddle Mountain Lullaby, you almost wonder if he didn't come up with the title first and then filled in the blanks with fiddle and twangy guitar leads in a rapid two-step beat.

Pete Ahonen adds his vocals to the mix, along with some of the CD's more colourful lyrics. Love Me Till Thursday is a romantic waltz, an Eagle-esque tune that's lit up by the retro country arrangement - let's call the lyrics romantic realism at its finest. As you'd expect, Juanita is their foray into a Mexican flavoured groove - and a gritty kind of realistic perspective. Juanita, cross the border again...
Michael Van and the Movers
Michael Van's raspy, expressive voice shines on Don't Mind If I Do in a world weary tone that works so well. It's the highlight of the CD. Sounds Like Rain is the prettiest song - musically that is - with lyrics that tell a hard luck story about poverty and family violence. Perhaps most haunting is the band's cover of Look At Miss Ohio, a Gillian Welch song with lovely chord changes lit up by some imaginative harmony vocals.

If you appreciate polished country music in a roots mode, this is a release to check out.

The Band:
Michael Van: Acoustic Guitar and Vocals, Pete
Ahonen: Electric Guitar, Banjo and Vocals, Alan Bond: Mandolin, Fiddle and Vocals, Larry Lawson: bass, Bob Skye: Drums and Harmonica, Special Guest Mark Berhard Stevenson on Steel guitar, Noah Duvernell and Paul Ohnemus on Drums.

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