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Pino Palladino


Pino Palladino (17 October 1957 in Cardiff, Wales, UK) is a Welsh bass guitarist of Italian ancestry. Palladino rose to public notice playing primarily rock and roll, blues rock, and rhythm and blues music, although he has been lauded for his ability to play most genres of popular music, including jazz, neo soul, and funk. Adding to his eclectic grasp and melodic approach on his instrument, he has become one of the most sought-after session players on the bass in the music industry. He has played on a large number of recordings by some of the world's most successful entertainers, in part, by mastering a variety of techniques on both his late 1970s fretless Music Man StingRay bass guitar and later in his career, adding fretted Fender Precision and Jaguar basses. His playing has earned him custom instruments bearing his name. As of  late, Pino Palladino has released "Notes With Attachments ", the first album released under Palladino’s own name, co-headlining with producer and instrumentalist Blake Mills. "Notes With Attachments is an elusive instrumental album, subtle despite the pun in its title. The songs are based around repeating chord changes inspired by funk, West African, and Cuban music, but the continuously shifting arrangements mean that no one instrument carries the melody for long. It’s the sound of consummate collaborators imagining a world where there’s no such thing as a lead performer."( Pitchfork)


"Around a third of the music is vaguely reminiscent, in spirit if not in execution, of the 1949-1950 Birth Of The Cool sessions conducted by Miles Davis with arrangers Gil Evans, John Lewis, Gerry Mulligan and Johnny Carisi." (All About Jazz)


Makaya McCraven 

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Makaya McCraven is a prolific drummer, composer and producer who, according to the New York Times, “has quietly become one of the best arguments for jazz’s vitality. His newest album, In These Times, is the triumphant finale of a project 7+ years in the making. It’s a preeminent addition to his acclaimed and extensive discography, and it’s the album he’s been trying to make since he started making records.

After cutting his teeth in the Western Massachusetts music scene and co-founding the jazz-hip hop band Cold Duck Complex – that ultimately opened for The Pharcyde, Digable Planets, and the Wu-Tang Clan – he moved to Chicago in 2006. McCraven found himself immersed in both the creative and straight-ahead jazz scenes, proving his versatility, and along the way finding a community that mirrored the pulsating scene that birthed him artistically. Within five years’ time, he’d established a name for himself, gigging alongside scene stalwarts like Willie Pickens, Marquis Hill and Jeff Parker.

McCraven continued to hone his process of live improvisation and sampling with Highly Rare in 2017, as well as Where We Come From (CHICAGOxLONDON Mixtape) and Universal Beings, both released in 2018. His work has featured various esteemed players including Nubya Garcia and Shabaka Hutchings from London, Junius Paul and Tomeka Reid of Chicago, Anna Butterss and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson from Los Angeles, and Brandee Younger and Dezron Douglas from New York.

He recently remixed Gil Scott-Heron’s final album, I’m New Here, for 2020’s We’re New Again: A Reimagining by Makaya McCraven; issued Universal Beings E+F Sides (also in 2020); and delved into the venerable Blue Note Records catalog in 2021 for Deciphering the Message, each project also employing new improvisations and sampling, helping to further cement his “beat scientist” moniker.

In These Times encompasses all he’s lived through, as well as his lineage, while also pushing the music forward. Music critic Passion of the Weiss suggested that “McCraven’s work, both with younger players and the sounds of older recordings, is part of a necessary conversation about the next evolution of the Black improvised music known colloquially as ‘jazz.’ He’s found the threads connecting the past with the present, and is either wrapping them with new colors and textures, or he’s plucking them gleefully like the strings of a grand instrument.” McCraven concurs: “To me, that is the tradition that I want to try to take part in. Being well-rooted, but walking into the future, is really what all of the leaders in this music have done that I admire. And I think that resonates with people. Something that's like how we know it, but is evolving… It's just where I am at, where we're at, and the evolution of that, and that's what I'm trying to be.”


Takuya Kuroda


Takuya Kuroda is a highly respected trumpeter and arranger born in Kobe, Japan and based in New York City. 'Midnight Crisp' is Takuya's seventh studio album, entirely self-produced and following 2020's highly acclaimed 'Fly Moon Die Soon', also released on UK label First Word (winner of the Worldwide Award's Label of the Year in 2019). Consisting of six new tracks, this once again sees Takuya displaying his unique hybrid sound, blending soulful jazz, funk, post-bop, fusion and hip hop. After following the footsteps of his trombonist brother playing in big bands, he relocated to New York to study jazz & contemporary music at The New School in Union Square; a course he graduated from in the mid-nineties. It was here that Takuya met vocalist José James, with whom he worked on the 'Blackmagic' and 'No Beginning No End' projects.


Following graduation, Takuya established himself further in the NYC jazz scene, performing with the likes of Akoya Afrobeat and in recent years with DJ Premier's BADDER band. Premier said "The BADDER Band project was put together by my manager, and an agent I've known since the beginning of my Gang Starr career. He said, 'What if you put a band together that revolved around a trumpet player from Japan named Takuya Kuroda? He's got a hip-hop perspective and respect in the jazz field...''Takuya Kuroda is already incredibly prolific, releasing six albums in the past decade and fortifying a solid reputation in the global jazz scene. 2011 saw the release of Takuya's independently-produced debut album, 'Edge', followed by 'Bitter and High' the following year and 'Six Aces' on P-Vine in 2013.


Takuya was signed to the legendary Blue Note Records in 2014 for his album 'Rising Son', as well as appearing on their 2019 cover versions project, 'Blue Note Voyage'. He released his 5th album 'Zigzagger' on Concord in 2016, which also featured Antibalason, a reimagining of the Donald Byrdclassic 'Think Twice'. His last album was the afore-mentioned 'Fly Moon Die Soon' on First Word, which received plays and support from the likes of Pitchfork, Earmilk, Bandcamp Weekly, Worldwide FM, All About Jazz, Apple Music, Tidal, Stereogum, Treble, Brooklyn Vegan, FIP (France), Tony Minvielle, Jazz FM, Huey Morgan (BBC 6 Music), BBC Radio 3, Novena Carmel, KCRW and tons more DJs, tastemakers, selectors, radio stations, bloggers & magazines. His new project 'Midnight Crisp' was  released October 21st 2022 on vinyl, CD and digital, worldwide via First Word Records. Takuya backed up this release with a nearly sold out European tour. 


Gregoire Maret

Grammy winner, Swiss born harmonica player and composer, Gregoire Maret moved to New York City at 18 years old to study at the New School University.
Over the course of the past decade, Gregoire has emerged as a unique and compelling new voice across a wide spectrum of the modern jazz world. That his chosen instrument - the harmonica - is a relative rarity in the genre is one element in his singular sound, but far from the whole explanation. After all, the extensive list of heavy- hitters who have enlisted him for their own projects is unparalleled: Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Cassandra Wilson, and Marcus Miller are some of his most prominent employers, none of whom have the patience to employ novelty for novelty's sake.

His guest appearances on recording sessions and concert stages expand that list to even more jaw-dropping proportions: Prince, Sting, Elton John, Jimmy Scott, Dianne Reeves, Toots Thielemans, Raul Midón, Richard Bona, Terri Lyne Carrington, Tito Puente, Kurt Elling, Mike Stern, Jeff “Tain” Watts and Charlie Hunter have all made use of Maret's unmatched palette of color.

Along the way, Maret has redefined the role of the harmonica, finding fresh pathways through a remarkable variety of styles. Herbie Hancock has called Maret "one of the most creative musicians around," while Marcus Miller has declared that he is "carrying the instrument into the 21st century with prowess, passion, and creativity."

In 2020, Gregoire in collaboration with French pianist Romain Collin and guitar visionary Bill Frisell have created "Americana". The music on Americana comes from the perspective of two immigrants to the U.S.; the Swiss-native Maret, and Frenchman Collin. "From their peaceful opener, a bucolic take on Mark Knopfler’s “Brothers in Arms,” to Frisell’s engaging, folksy “Small Town,” to Romain’s heartland anthem “San Luis Obispo,” with Maret doubling Frisell’s twangy electric guitar lines, this is all warm, comforting material. A heart-rending interpretation of Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman,” Maret’s sweet lullaby “Back Home,” and the hymn-like “Still,” underscored by Frisell’s swirling, entrancing guitar loops, also weave a subtle spell on listeners." (Absolute Sound). Americana was nominated for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album on the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards (2020). 


Mark Whitfield


    “For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver”, a recording by the Christian Mcbride Big Band featuring Mark Whitfield and Joey Defrancesco has received the 2022 Grammy nomination for “Best Large Jazz Ensemble”! This is the most recent collaboration between Whitfield and McBride, a musical relationship that began over 30 years ago when they were both featured members of the “Jazz Futures”, an All-Star Jazz Band that also launched the career of the late Roy Hargrove. 


    Mark Whitfield graduated from Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, the world’s foremost institution for the study of Jazz and modern American music in the spring of 1987. Shortly thereafter, he returned to his to his native New York to embark on a career as a Jazz Guitarist that has afforded him the opportunity to collaborate with such legendary artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock, Carmen McRae, Gladys Knight, Burt Bacharach, Jimmy Smith, Clark Terry, Shirley Horn, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Joe Williams, Stanley Turrentine and his mentor, the great George Benson.


     In 1990 the New York Times dubbed Whitfield “The Best Young Guitarist in the Business”. Later that year, Warner Bros. released his debut album “The Marksman”. The success of his debut release led to a recording career that has produced a total of 16 solo recordings and a myriad of collaborative efforts with some of the most important artists in recent years; Sting, Steven Tyler, D’Angelo, Mary J. Blige, John Mayer, Chaka Khan, Jill Scott, Diana Krall, Chris Botti, Roy Hargrove, Nicholas Payton, Robert Glasper and the aforementioned Christian Mcbride.

    Mark Whitfield remains extremely active as a performer, recording artist and sideman and as a highly sought after instructor and master clinician.

"It was nearly 25 years ago when I joined David Passick’s artist roster. His advice and guidance were invaluable to me as I navigated through some of the most challenging times of my life and career. Even though circumstances eventually drew us in different directions, I remained confident that David would be my greatest ally when it was time to re-embark on my solo recording career.

I am truly honored and humbled to be reunited with David Passick and I am excited for all that we will accomplish together!"



The Heat Inc.

The Heat Inc
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Out of London, UK comes the sensational new band THE HEAT INC. They are formed around singer Jon Dodd, guitarist Marco Simoncelli and the rhythm section of Nicolas Rigot and Maurizio Vitale, and Asleep in the Ejector Seat is their official first full-length album. Without a doubt, these guys have delivered a Champions League album here, because it easily beats all the other rock albums I have heard in 2023! There is a lot of competition and countless bands out there doing a sorta similar rockstyle, but THE HEAT INC. are doing it just a little better, which is thanks to catchy songs, a rich tough rocking sound and a charismatic singer with a voice that immediately makes clear THE HEAT INC. has got something special. I am really excited about this band and if they can cut it live as well, then we are looking at a band that might become one of the big rockbands in the future.


The album opens with a dark tough uptempo rocker titled Souvenir, which sounds quite melodic as well, but also a little gothic/post-punk ish here and there, kinda like a mix between THE STOOGES, THE DOORS, THE CULT. Following is even better and is quite sensational if you ask me, as this is uptempo melodic post-punkrock at its very best, with even memories of THE DAMNED, yet in a modern jacket. These guys sound like the next big thing if you ask me, as the lead vocals of Jon are superb (like a mix between BILLY IDOL, JIM MORRISON and MICHAEL HUTCHENCE, yet with an own identity), the melodies are catchy and their overall tight tough sound fits somewhere between Classic Punk, Post-Punk and Rock and Roll. Thankfully the rest of the album keeps the high level of the first 2 songs, with as other highlights up-tempo pieces like Little Knuckle Charlie, ’98 (SENSATIONAL!!!, an instant crowd pleaser and radio winner! THE KILLERS eat your heart out!), Ms. Willie Mae and the very melodic Get Wild. The band also draws some inspiration from dark heavy blues rock in a song like This Thing Called Love and raw dirty mean Garage Rock and Roll can be heard at it’s very best during Akasaka Murder Squad, so there is enough diversity to keep everyone entertained, The album closes with a little bit of the old Ultraviolence, that opens with some rather peaceful acoustic guitar and tambourine, as this starts to build like a classic lighter in the air ballad, in tribute to dear old Stanley, as this gets all windblown, with cool backing vocals with strings for a cool comedown to close this immense sounding album.


This record will belong to the best rock albums of 2023 and as aforementioned if they can do this live as well on this studio album, then we need to keep our eyes wide open for.




Masayuki Hirano - better known as BIGYUKI - is a ground-breaking songwriter and virtuoso keyboard player who blends jazz, soul, hip-hop and electronica to create a sound that’s wholly his own. BIGYUKI is highly sought-after as a performer and collaborator by the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, Kamasi Washington and Lauryn Hill.


After moving to New York from Japan, Yuki started to take part in late night jam sessions where acclaimed drummer Daru Jones was so impressed by his ability on the keys that he invited BIGYUKI to join the band he was putting together for Talib Kweli. A string of successful live shows and jam sessions meant BIGYUKI’s reputation as a session musician was growing, while at the same time he was starting to hone an individual sound he could call his own. Another major building block in Yuki's development was joining Bilal's band, which led to playing with Robert Glasper.


In 2016 he spent two months as a member of Jon Batiste’s house band on ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’ and played on J. Cole’s album ‘4 Your Eyez Only’. That same year he also played on and wrote for A Tribe Called Quest’s final record ‘We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service’. “I had worked with Q-Tip on music for a TV pilot, so he had seen my ideas and how I operate in the studio,” explains BIGYUKI. “Eventually he asked me if I’d be interested in being a part of the A Tribe Called Quest record and of course I was like: ‘Yes please!’ I only really understood the historical significance of the album after it came out, because when I was in the studio with them it was just a pure energy exchange.”


Having toured with Kamasi Washington’s band in 2019 and played in Lauryn Hill’s band at the Louis Vuitton Men’s Spring-Summer 2021 show. Recently BIGYUKI has worked on an album and toured with José James, Antonio Sanchez, recorded with Kassa Overall, started a project utilizing AI technology, and toured worldwide as a solo act.


He is currently working on new music which plans to release in 2024. 

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