March 27th, guitarist Liberty Ellman’s sextet returns with Last Desert, the follow up to his critically-acclaimed 2015 release Radiate, which the Wall Street Journal described as “bristling with energy and innovation” and Downbeat praised as “unique, indelible and fully human.” Named #1 Rising Star Guitarist in the 2016 Downbeat Critics Poll, Ellman is perhaps best known as a trusted associate of jazz legend Henry Threadgill, with whom he has played for almost 20 years, including on the Pulitzer Prize-winning release In for a Penny, In for a Pound. His unorthodox playing style is also key to collaborations with the likes of Myra Melford, Joe Lovano, and JD Allen. Pianist and MacArthur Fellow Vijay Iyer calls him “my favorite living guitarist.”
Ellman’s new work is inspired by a foot race that takes place in Antarctica, the final leg in a series of ultramarathons called Four Deserts that take place in some of the harshest environments on earth. Last Desert celebrates the juxtaposition of the austere beauty of the landscape with the grueling nature of the event, and the clarity of focus that the competition requires. His compositions employ a complex melodic weave, but are always lyrical and percolate with groove. Ellman is rejoined by all the musicians from Radiate: Steve Lehman on alto sax, Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, Jose Davila on tuba, Stephan Crump on bass and Damion Reid on drums. Together, they conjure Ellman’s panoramic musical vista to brilliant effect.
Welcome to 2020. The new year is starting off with lots of momentum. We’re working on new releases and are excited to get them out.
Our first releases of 2020 is the Liberty Ellman sextet’s Last Desert. The recording will be out in March. The lineup from Radiate, Liberty – guitar, Stephan Crump – bass, Damion Reid – drums, Steve Lehman – alto saxophone, Jonathan Finlayson – trumpet and José Davila – tuba, trombone, all return for this latest installment.
Following that, Dan Weiss’s Starebaby will be returning with their new album Natural Selection in May 2020. Starebaby has been performing the music live and will be bring it to Big Ears in Knoxville in March. They will be there alongside Steve Coleman and Five Elements, featuring Jonathan Finlayson – trumpet, Kokayi – lyricist, Anthony Tidd – electric bass and Sean Rickman – drums. If you’ve never been to Big Ears you owe it to yourself to go. There’s nothing else like it.
A closing note on 2019, we are very excited that once again we had a very positive showing in this year’s NPR Jazz Critics Poll. Three of our releases earned spots in the top 10.
Art Ensemble of Chicago – We Are On The Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration, Steve Lehman Trio & Craig Taborn – The People I Love and Anna Webber – Clockwise.
Additionally, 3 other Pi releases were in the top 50:
Tyshawn Sorey & Marilyn Crispell – The Adornment of Time
Matt Mitchell – Phalanx Ambassadors
Miles Okazaki – The Sky Below
Thank you for helping us to have a great 2019 and we look forward to what 2020 has in store.