Imani Records Releases New Albums from Alto Saxophonist Caleb Wheeler Curtis and Pianist Luke Carlos O’Reilly
Under the direction of pianist and impresario Orrin Evans, the forward-thinking Imani Records has remained active during a most difficult year. Throughout the pandemic, Imani Records has been working diligently to keep music thriving in the form of live music, and in the recorded music sphere. Their regular Club Patio sessions, which featured top-flight jazz musicians in concert direct from Evans’ home, became a pandemic-era staple, and are planned to continue this Spring. In addition, Imani Records released two astounding new releases in March: Caleb Wheeler Curtis’s Ain’t No Storm and Luke Carlos O’Reilly’s I Too Sing America: A Black Man’s Diary. Both released on March 17th, these spellbinding new releases are available on all digital platforms.
Caleb Wheeler Curtis’s Ain’t No Storm is the artist’s sophomore release on Imani Records, and a sign that music is in good hands. Curtis’ prolific performance on the alto saxophone is accompanied by trumpeter Josh Lawrence, tenor saxophonist Chet Doxas, double bassist Luques Curtis, drummer Mark Whitfield Jr. and special guest pianists Julius Rodriguez and Orrin Evans, as well as vocalist Sarah Elizabeth Charles. Ain’t No Storm is a collection of character driven songs, each focused on a single unifying idea. Like its luminous album cover, Ain’t No Storm carries an uplifting and provocative tone and its tracks providing ample space for each musician’s personality to shine through. Halfway through the album, the title track, “Ain’t No Storm,” implores listeners to remember that when we feel we are at our lowest points, a moment of clarity reveals how a shift in perspective opens a new path. This is an album where the sound of each instrument and musician is the driving force for the music, and the compositions are written to highlight the highly individual sonic identity of each of us, while providing an insight into the inner working of the artist’s mind.
I Too Sing America: A Black Man’s Diary is the thought-provoking new release from the multifaceted pianist Luke Carlos O’Reilly. O’Reilly’s performance on the piano, rhodes, and organ is complimented by a stellar roster of musicians, including Nimrad Elab Speaks on the acoustic bass and Anwar Marshall on drums. Special guests include Christopher McBride on alto saxophone and tambourine, Caleb Wheeler Curtis on alto sax, Stacy Dillard on soprano sax, Lee Hogans on trumpet and flugelhorn, Josh Evans on trumpet, Corey Wallace and David Gibson on trombone, Shenel Johns on lyrics and vocals, Irv Washington with additional keys, and Khemist with lyrics. O’Reilly’s intention for this release is to convey the pain, hurt and heartache that one goes through as a black man or woman living in America today. Though O’Reilly’s message is all too familiar, his dynamic instrumentation on the opening track “Black Lives Matter ” presents painful stories of abuse in a unique, hybrid form — by overlapping recordings of breaking news on top of his compositions, listeners are reminded that these tragedies are continually at play. O’Reilly’s rapid organ playing on “Stop n Frisk” poignantly stresses the reality that violence and oppression are seemingly endless. I Too Sing America: A Black Man’s Diary emphasizes that those who are responsible for these tragedies, who remain unpunished, are perpetuating civil unrest. O’Reilly’s hope? That his music reminds us all that black lives really do matter. From the song titles to the rich sounds of black music hitting your ears, this record is a musical documentation of an important part in American History.
More About Caleb Wheeler Curtis:
Caleb Wheeler Curtis is a Brooklyn, NY based saxophonist. He appears on two GRAMMY Nominated albums by Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band. His playing and compositions are informed by a constant searching, at times introspective, brash and melodic. In addition to band-leading, Caleb is a core member of Walking Distance (Sunnyside Records), Orrin Evans & The Captain Black Big Band (Smoke Sessions Records), Josh Lawrence & Triptych (Posi-Tone Records), Ember (Curtis+Garabedian+Sperrazza) (Outside In Music), and the Fat Cat Big Band.
More About Luke Carlos O’Reilly:
Colombian native Luke Carlos O’Reilly is an award winning pianist whose musical career spans multiple genres. At an early age, O’Reilly was drawn to Jazz, Soul, R&B, Gospel, Latin Jazz, Classical and beyond. When he was four years old, he and his mother started taking group piano lessons together. By age ten he began to study the saxophone as well. It was the introduction of Oscar Peterson’s music at the age of fourteen that steered Luke in the direction of Jazz. Until then, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Earth, Wind and Fire and Otis Redding had been his heaviest influences.Through years of practicing and support from his family, Luke became well known on the music scene in the Boston area, where he spent most of his childhood. Before the age of 17, through his high school’s music program, Luke had been given the opportunity to play with Clark Terry, Joshua Redman, Walter Blanding, and Steve Turre, as well as to play on a 15 day tour in Europe. He also took part in several international music festivals at Berklee, IAJE, and University of New Hampshire as well as participating in All-District and All-State competition bands.