Arturo O’Farrill And The Latin Jazz Orchestra’s New Album Is A Real Success

Courtesy: Zoho Music

Famed pianist/composer Arturo O’Farrill has had quite the successful career over the years.  He has earned multiple Grammy awards and nominations, recorded and performed with some of the most respected names in the jazz community, and in the process made quite the name for himself within that realm.  Now with his latest album with the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Virtual Birdland, he continues to build his reputation within the jazz community.  The album, at least his eighth with the group, was released Friday, a little more than a year after the organization’s most recent album, Four Questions.  It is an enjoyable presentation thanks in part to its companion booklet, which will be discussed shortly.  The songs featured in the recording and the group’s performance thereof is directly connected to the album’s companion booklet.  They add even more engagement and entertainment to the record’s presentation.  They will be discussed a little later.  The album’s sequencing puts the finishing touch to its presentation.  When it is considered along with the other noted items, the whole makes Virtual Birdland one more of this year’s top new jazz and blues albums.

Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra’s latest album is a positive new addition to the group’s already extensive catalog.  It is a work that will certainly appeal to the group’s fans and to jazz fans in general.  This is due in no small part to the album’s companion booklet.  The booklet features brief but concise explanations of each of the album’s songs.  That background sets the groundwork for the album.  It ensures an appreciation for each song, regardless of listeners’ familiarity with the group.  Building on that groundwork, the liner notes also give some background into how the events of 2020 played into the creation of the group’s new record.  There is even mention of a foundation created by the collective to aid people negatively impacted by everything that happened in 2020.  That story and the background provided about the album’s songs makes for a great starting point for listening experience.  From there, the songs featured in the record and the musicians’ performance thereof builds on the presentation, enhancing the experience even more.

The songs featured in Virtual Birdland stand out in part because they are original compositions crafted by members of the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra.  That is pointed out in the already discussed liner notes.  They are varied in their stylistic approaches and sounds, either.  ‘Desert’ for instance lives up to its name, with a clear Middle Eastern influence.  By comparison, a song, such as ‘En La Oscuridad’ (roughly translated means ‘In The Dark’) is a much more relaxed, smooth song.  According to the information provided in the liner notes, O’Farrill’s father played a key part in the song’s composition while saxophonist Mario Rivera took the lead in the work.  Rivera’s performance, along with that of percussionist Vince Cherico on drums, makes this work such a smooth work.  Considering the overall feel and the name, one can only imagine what happens in the dark even though the liner notes do not make any hint.  It clearly has to be assumed.  It is sure to make for a great song for any date night.

‘Para Los Rumberos,’ on another hand is completely unlike ‘En La Oscuridad’ and the album’s other entries in its sound.  The only song that even relatively comes close to this one (which is a cover of the classic Tito Puente composition) in terms of sound and style is ‘Samba for Carmen’ what with the big band style approach and sound here.  A close listen to the pair however, reveals that the arrangements are unique of one another.  The musical fire that the organization fuels through the performance of ‘Para Los Rumberos’ is an excellent way to end the album.  From the energy in the group’s entire percussion section, to the energy exuded by the horns and saxophone, the whole comes together for such a great composition that will get any listener on the floor, feet flying in time.  The energy that the group in whole is a great mirror image of what the liner notes say of rumberos: that they are people who would rather embrace the challenge of tough situations than let those situations get them down.  Looking at this song and the others noted here, their variety and the orchestra’s performance of each work makes the record in whole enjoyable in themselves.  When they are considered along with the background that the album’s liner notes, the whole makes the album even more engaging and entertaining.  These noted items are only a portion of what makes the album a success.  The songs’ sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

The sequencing of Virtual Birdland is important to note in part because it keeps the album’s pacing solid from start to end.  That solid pacing comes as a result of the balance in the arrangements’ energies.  From start to end, the variances between and even within songs ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment because they keep the record changing.  Songs, such as ‘Desert’ and ‘Ana Mashoof’ are full, relaxed compositions that switch things up in the bigger picture of the record.  They make for break points in the album’s run.  Meanwhile, songs, such as ‘Alafia,’ and ‘Nightfall’ that start in soft, relaxed form give way to more energetic presentations, keeping things interesting in their  own way.  On the polar opposite end of the spectrum are works, such as ‘Samba for Carmen’ and ‘Para Los Rumberos’ that are full on energy from start to finish.  The placement of these varied stylistic approaches ensures that listeners get something different in each work, thus ensuring the noted engagement and entertainment.  Clearly, much thought and time was put into sequencing the varied stylistic approaches.  It paid off, too.  When this is considered along with the songs and their performances, and their companion background information, the result of all that is that it makes this record a work another impressive offering from Aturo O’Farrill and the Aro-Latin Jazz Orchestra.  It is a presentation that every jazz fan will enjoy.

Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra’s latest album, Virtual Birdland, is a presentation that will appeal widely among jazz fans.  That is proven in part through its companion booklet.  The booklet offers listeners a brief, but concise background on each featured song as well as a thorough background on how this latest offering came about.  That collective groundwork establishes a solid starting point for the album’s presentation.  The album’s featured songs are unique of one another, and the performances thereof are just as impressive, making for even more enjoyment.  The songs’ sequencing puts the finishing touch to the album.  That is because it ensures the album’s pacing remains stable throughout.  It also works with the songs to keep listeners engaged and entertained through the variety of sounds and stylistic approaches.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Virtual Birdland.  All things considered, they make this latest offering from Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra’s easily one more of this year’s top new jazz and blues albums.  Virtual Birdland is available now through Zoho Music.  More information on the album is available along with all of its latest news at:




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Chaser Announces New Album’s Title,Release Date, Cover Art

Courtesy: Thousand Islands Records/Soundspeed Records/SBAM Records/Pee Records

Surf punk rock band Chaser will release its new album next month.

The band is scheduled to release its new album Dreamers April 8 through Thousand Islands Records, Soundspeed Records,SBAM Records, and Pee Records. The 13-song record features the already released singles ‘2020‘ and ‘A New Direction.’

Bassist Jesse Stopnitzky talked about the record, the band’s fifth, during a recent interview.

“‘Dreamers’ is a 13-song burst of anthemic and melodic punk energy with self-reflecting and hopeful lyrics,” he said. “It is a reminder to keep chasing your dreams and keep your head up. It’s the most personal album we have written, touching on the highs and lows of life, but as always, with a positive CHASER twist.”

Chaser’s new album will come more than seven months after the release of the band’s latest studio, its EP Look Alive. Released Sept. 4, the two-song record features the EP’s title track and ‘Found Myself Again.’

More information on Chaser’s new album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:




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Yellowjackets’ Big Band Collaboration Makes Its New LP An XL Success

Courtesy: Mack Avenue

Jazz and blues fans have had a lot to like this year.  That is because this year has produced so much enjoyable and memorable music from the two genres, which are so closely aligned.  From Yellowjackets’ new album Jackets XL to Joe Bonamassa’s new album Royal Tea to he Rev. Shawn Amos’ latest album Blue Sky and more, this year has seen so much great music released.  That being said, with the year winding down, critics are already releasing their lists of the year’s top new albums in these categories.  This critic is joining those ranks with a list of the best of the year’s new jazz and blues albums.

As with each list released by Phil’s Picks, this list features the Top 10 new albums from the two genres and five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 albums.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Jazz and Blues Albums.


  1. Yellowjackets – Jackets XL
  2. Joe Bonamassa – Royal Tea
  3. Lisa Hilton – More Than Another Day
  4. The Rev. Shawn Amos & The Brotherhood – Blue Sky
  5. Analog Players Society – Soundtrack for a Nonexistent Film
  6. Melody Gardot – Sunset In Blue
  7. Dion – Blues With Friends
  8. Ronie Earl & The Broadcasters – Rise Up
  9. Shadow & The Thrill – Sugarbowl
  10. Diana Krall – This Dream Of You
  11. Sugar Ray & The Bluetones – Too Far From The Bar
  12. Carol Welsman – Dance With Me
  13. The Rough Guide to the Roots of Country Blues
  14. The Roots of Blues
  15. The Rough Guide to Spiritual Blues

Next up from Phil’s Picks is the Top 10 New World Music Albums from 2020.  Stay tuned for that. 

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Ra Debuts ‘Intercorrupted’ Video

Courtesy: Wake Up! Music

Hard rock band Ra debuted the video for its latest single this week.

The band debuted the video for its new single ‘Intercorrupted’ Thursday. The single is the lead single and title song from the band’s forthcoming album, which is scheduled for release March 19, 2021 through Wake Up! Music.

The video features a woman making her way up the stairs of a building to confront a man who is carrying a mysterious briefcase containing a secret inside. The man is accompanied by a trio of other figures who are sent to slow her down. The song’s melodic hard rock arrangement plays over the song.

The song’s lyrical theme is meant as a commentary about the impact that we all have on one another as a result of our actions and words, according to front man Sahaj Ticotin.

“With everyone releasing songs about the state of the world in 2020, we felt that there was an opportunity to say something about the state of the mind,” said Ticotin. “Divisiveness does not exist in a vacuum. Your cause most certainly results in an effect, making it impossible to truly cast blame for the things currently that we are all up in arms against. Your personal beliefs require an adversary or contrary position in order to germinate in the current world of social media and sensational news coverage. We are part of the global synapses in this hivemind world. I believe there is a little hope to evolve as a species if we don’t redefine and accept our own role in creating the very things we abhor. We are intertwined. We are Intercorrupted”

Additionally, Ticotin addressed the sing’s companion video.

“Since the beginning of the band, we’ve always wanted to make a ballsy video,” he said. “Something cryptic but cinematic…with maybe a little action. We certainly bit off a lot with the concept but with Curt Pair filming it, we knew it was going to look like a movie. We shot the whole thing in one day which is ambitious enough but it was also 112 degrees in Arizona and we had on full suits. Ra has only had one other video in our 20 yr history as a band so we went big. The concept was for the band to play the villains but that we were not completely without ideology or reason. We believe that mankind has lost the right to have its freedom and hope and that for the sake of the world it must be hidden away. We are in the process of that when we get tracked down by our heroine who dispatches us one by one and then sets it all right again releasing hope and freedom back into the world. It relates to the song in that we are intertwined in our faults and fear and that we should not take hope and freedom for granted. I’ve always like the Matrix and Inception. We were trying to invoke elements of them both.”

More information on Ra’s new single and video is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:




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Abandoned Souls’ New Single Encourages Listeners To Face Their Own “Darkness”

Courtesy: Asher Media Relations/Fiend Records

Independent hard rock band Abandoned Souls debuted its new single this week.

The band debuted the single ‘Blinding Darkness’ Thursday through, one day before making the song available worldwide. The song is the band’s first new single since 2017. Its musical arrangement is a heavy, melodic hard rock composition that will appeal to fans of bands, such as Godmsack, Three Days Grace, and Alter Bridge.

The lyrical content featured in the band’s brand new single was written following the death of front man James Todd’s mother. He explained the connection in a recent interview.

“The song is about facing the reality of death or dark times and dealing with it,” he said. “It’s also learning to maneuver through the darkness and finding a way to be more comfortable within that space. To realize that you need to face it head-on sometimes and learn how to live and prosper from the experience of getting through these times.”

Abandoned Souls has released four albums and one EP since its formation in 2006. more information on those records is available along with more information on the band’s new single and all of its latest news at:




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Anvil To Perform Live Online This Weekend

Courtesy: Asher Media Relations

Veteran rock band Anvil will perform live digitally this weekend.

The band will hold a live streaming performance at 5 p.m. EDT Saturday.  The performance, which is in support of the band’s latest album Legal At Last (2020), is produced by District 7 Production and L’Anti Bar & Spectacles.  Legal At Last is a celebration of the legalization of recreational cannabis use in the band’s home nation of Canada.

The stream will run at 10 p.m. (UK) and 11 p.m. (Central European Time) Saturday.  Audiences in Japan in Australia will get to see the stream at 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. respectively on Sunday.

Tickets for this weekend’s streaming shows are available here.  The show will stream here.

The concert’s organizers had the following to say about the event in a collective statement:

“I was wondering how to make L’Anti Bar & Spectacles live again in the midst of a health crisis,” the statement reads.  “I’ve been presenting virtual live shows with a ticket office since May 9. The first shows were appreciated by the spectators, we sold hundreds of tickets across Canada and in Europe during our first virtual shows. I wanted to present the first virtual metal show in Canada. I thought Anvil would be the perfect band for this show. I have an excellent relationship with them; the members of Anvil accepted without hesitation. Spectators should expect a virtual show with impeccable production quality in terms of sound, image, and lighting.”

More information on Anvil’s upcoming live stream show is available at:







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Angeles Debuts ‘Rolling Like Thunder’ Video

Courtesy: DarkStar Records

Rock band Angeles debuted the video for its latest single this week.

The band debuted the video for its new single ‘Rolling Like Thunder‘ Monday.  The song is the band’s first new music since it released is most recent album Fire It Up last year.It is also the band’s first single with the current lineup of Dale Lytle Louis Collins, Cal Shelton and Danny Basulto.

The DIY-style video features new vocalist Louis Collins performing the single while footage of the band is edited into the whole along with live footage of the band from past performances. The song’s musical arrangement is a familiar up-tempo, classic 80s, guitar-driven style work.  Its lyrical content comes across as being just as familiar, hinting at going out partying and rocking.

Angeles is scheduled to open for Krokus Oct. 10 at the famed Whiskey A Go-GO in Los Angeles, LA for the last show of Krokus’ farewell tour.

‘Rolling Like Thunder’ is available to download through Apple Music, Google Play, and Amazon.

More information on Angeles’ new single is available online along with all of the band’s latest news atL





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