Greenleaf Music

Celebrate 10 Years of Greenleaf Music at SubCulture

Dave Douglas' critically-acclaimed record company celebrates its 10th anniversary next week with a show at SubCulture on May 27th. The concert will be hosted by founder Dave Douglas and feature bands lead by Linda OhDonny McCaslin, and Ryan Keberle. Each band will play an hour-long set starting at 7:30. Tickets are $30 general admission and $20 for students. Buy your tickets now!

7:30 pm: Linda Oh’s Sun Pictures
8:30 pm: Donny McCaslin's Fast Future
9:30 pm: Ryan Keberle & Catharsis

Linda Oh’s Sun Pictures
Ben Wendel – Tenor Sax
Ben Monder – Guitar
Linda Oh – Bass
Justin Brown – Drums

Donny McCaslin
Donny McCaslin – Tenor Sax
Henry Hey – Keyboards
Matt Clohesy – Bass
Nate Wood – Drums

Ryan Keberle & Catharsis
Ryan Keberle – Trombone
Mike Rodriguez – Trumpet
Camila Meza – Voice
Jorge Roeder – Bass
Jimmy Macbride – Drums

Ten Years of Greenleaf Music

Dave Douglas' company Greenleaf Music celebrates its 10th Anniversary in 2015, kicking things off with a sale commemorating Mountain Passages, the label's first release, on January 25, 2005.

Greenleaf was started with the intent to make and distribute music in a different way, to provide a platform for Dave’s work as well as for artists he wants to showcase, and to create a community of like-minded fans to discover and enjoy the music. In ten years, Greenleaf Music has released over 40 different projects, including countless albums from Dave Douglas, as well as artists KneebodyDonny McCaslinMichael BatesNicole MitchellCurtis MacDonaldLinda OhMatt UleryRudy RoystonRiverside and Ryan Keberle.

Read more about the history of this music company here.

Greenleaf is a family name that goes back at least four centuries. I wanted the label to have a sense of family, both in the way we treat recordings and in the way we deal with artists. You can sit around and gripe about the music industry ’til you’re blue in the face or you can do it yourself and act on what you believe in.
— Dave Douglas, 2005

Greenleaf Music to release Donny McCaslin "Fast Future" on March 31!

Saxophonist/Composer/Bandleader DONNY McCASLIN Releases New EDM-Influenced Album, Fast Future,  Available March 31 via Greenleaf Music

Follows Up GRAMMY®-Nominated Album, Casting for Gravity (Released in 2012) 

Further Exploration of Crossroads Between Jazz & Electronica/EDM, Influences Ranging From Weather Report & Herbie Hancock's Headhunters to Aphex Twin & Skrillex

Features Working Band Jason Lindner, Tim Lefebvre, & Mark Guiliana, Produced by David Binney 

The only thing predictable about Donny McCaslin's first ten albums was their unpredictability. Each new release arrived with a new line-up and not infrequently a new direction, often providing the perpetually curious saxophonist/composer with fertile new ground to explore.

On the surface, what makes McCaslin's latest release, Fast Future (available March 31, 2015 on Dave Douglas' Greenleaf Music), something of a radical departure from his usual M.O., is that it reprises the stunning electro-acoustic quartet from its groundbreaking, critically-acclaimed predecessor, Casting for Gravity - a project that earned McCaslin a 2014 GRAMMY® nomination for "Best Instrumental Jazz Solo" on the track "Stadium Jazz." However as the title implies, Fast Future finds McCaslin and company - keyboardist Jason Lindner, bassist Tim Lefebvre, and drummer Mark Guiliana, along with longtime producer David Binney - hurtling further into the relatively unexplored crossroads between jazz and electronica with virtuosic musicianship. Long influenced by fusion pioneers like Weather Report and Herbie Hancock's Headhunters, McCaslin integrates those hybrid instincts with innovative modern artists like Aphex Twin and Skrillex.

...[McCaslin] may prove to be an important portal for expanding the shrinking jazz audience
— The Huffington Post

"I really love the sonic textures and ambient vibe that you hear in a lot of that music," says McCaslin of the influence that electronica and EDM (Electronic Dance Music) has had on his music. "Having these guys improvising and interacting within that sonic landscape feels great."

At the core of even the most adventurous soundscapes on Fast Future - McCaslin's fourth album for Greenleaf and the first release during the company's 10th anniversary year - are similar sensibilities that have fueled McCaslin's acoustic music, namely vigorous melodies, taut interaction, and the leader's instantly recognizable, brawny tenor voice. Take "No Eyes," a cover of a song by Baths, the alter ego of L.A.-based electronica artist Will Wiesenfeld. Atop the electronic synth-bass throb sits a gorgeous, singable melody, which Binney enhances via transcendent wordless vocals (an element that was not previously highlighted on Casting for Gravity). "Sometimes in the electronica realm there's not enough harmonic movement or melody for me," McCaslin says. "But that song is a beautiful tune in and of itself and you could play it in a variety of ways." It is in this overall spirit that Fast Future showcases McCaslin in a slightly more commercial context, featuring production tendencies that are more often reserved for non-jazz projects. "Greenleaf has again provided an opportunity for me to experiment and that comes from the openness and sensibility of Dave Douglas," says McCaslin, who was a member of Douglas' quintet.

McCaslin is well known for his standout playing in the Maria Schneider Orchestra (having recently been featured on the David Bowie/Maria Schneider collaboration, "Sue") and Ryan Truesdell's Gil Evans Project, and he compares the feeling of playing amid lush electronic environments to soloing against those vivid big-band backdrops. "Standing and playing in front of this bed of beauty is such a joy," he says. "It's so awesome to be surrounded by such deep music."

The members of McCaslin's quartet have been incredibly busy in the two years since the release of Casting for Gravity. Lefebvre, already in-demand for Hollywood soundtrack work and subbing on Saturday Night Live, joined the Tedeschi Trucks Band, a touring juggernaut that has kept him almost constantly on the road. Lindner remains a commanding presence on the NYC jazz scene, leading his renowned band Now Vs Now and its large ensemble spin-off, Breeding Ground. Guiliana joined with pianist Brad Mehldau to form the electronic duo project Mehliana and founded the independent record label Beat Music Productions, which recently launched with the release of two of his own new projects.

All of those experiences converge when these individually inventive artists come together in McCaslin's quartet, now with multiple years of experience as a working unit. The saxophonist calls Lefebvre "the DJ of the band," the breadth of his stylistic and sonic range driving the band into different territories from one moment to the next. With his own background in production, drum and bass, and electronic music, Guiliana easily transcends the genre boundaries traversed by McCaslin's music and is so crucial to the band's sound that the bandleader has said, "this record is a drum solo." And McCaslin praises Lindner's "stylistic malleability," noting his gift at finding "these sounds that feel right and are edgy, but he's also able to be so in the moment and so organic."

Saxophonist/composer/producer Binney, McCaslin's longtime friend, collaborator, and basketball partner, is the fifth member of the quartet. Months before he sets foot in the studio for any project, McCaslin consults with Binney and the two shape a vision for his next project. "I can't overstate the significance of Dave's contribution to this record," McCaslin says. "It was a real partnership. He was never more of an influence on a record than he was on this one."

One example that McCaslin cites is the haunting spoken word interlude on "Love What is Mortal," performed by Jana Dagdagan, intertwined above McCaslin pristine soloing and treatment of melody. An integral component of the song's melancholy atmosphere, the dialogue was entirely Binney's idea, and he presented it complete and already edited into the track when McCaslin entered the studio one day. "I thought it was perfect," McCaslin says. "How lucky am I to have a friend like that?" 

From the bombastic grooves of the title track, through the lustrous ballad "Midnight Light" and the frantic free-jazz mutation of Aphex Twin's "54 Cymru Beats," to the final dub-tinged stealth of closer "Squeeze Thru," which evokes McCaslin's youth in Santa Cruz, seeing reggae legends like Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, Mighty Diamonds, and Burning Spear live, Fast Future offers a thrilling vision of the shape and redefinition of jazz to come. 

Upcoming DONNY McCASLIN Performances:

 All dates to feature the Donny McCaslin Group unless otherwise noted.  

Personnel for each date varies.

January 29 - 31 / University of Mary (Guest w/ Univ. Big Band)  / Bismarck, ND

February 12 / Regattabar / Cambridge, MA

 February 14 - 15 / Venues TBD (w/Maria Schneider Orchestra) / Istanbul, Turkey

February 20 - 21 / University of Wisconsin - 

River Falls (Guest w/ Univ. Big Band) / River Falls, WI

March 7 / The Jazz Bakery / Los Angeles, CA

March 12 - 15 / Cuesta College / San Luis Obispo, CA

March 16 / El Cerrito High School (Guest w/ High School Jazz Band) / El Cerrito, CA

March 19 / Jazz en Rafale (Donny McCaslin Trio 

w/ Scott Colley & Jonathan Blake) / Montreal, QC

March 25 - 28 / Mondavi Center / Davis, CA

April 1 / Humber College (Artist-in-Residence) / Toronto

April 3 / Kent State University (Guest Artist) / Kent, OH

April 7 - 8 / The Jazz Standard / New York, NY

April 12 - 18 / Jaazar Festivel (Guest Artist) / Aarua, Switzerland

April 21 - 25 / Reno Jazz Festival (Guest Artist) / Reno, NV

 April 28 - May 3  / Village Vanguard (w/ Enrico Pieranunzi Group) / New York, NY

May 14 - 17 / Jazz Standard (w/ Gil Evans Project - CD Release / New York, NY

June 2 - 6 / Birdland (w/ Maria Schneider Orchestra) / New York, NY

July 18 / Kuumbwa Jazz Center / Santa Cruz, CA

July 19 / Stanford Jazz Workshop / Stanford, CA

Greenleaf Music releases Ryan Keberle's "Into The Zone"

Into The Zone represents trombonist and composer Ryan Keberle's first release on Greenleaf Music and features his band Catharsis with special appearances by veteran saxophonist Scott Robinson and Chilean-born vocalist Camila Meza.

The pianoless quartet Catharsis draws upon lessons learned as Keberle played alongside masters in a multitude of forms, including Sufjan Stevens, Maria Schneider, Darcy James Argue, Alicia Keys and Justin Timberlake.

A young trombonist of vision and composure
— The New York Times

Greenleaf Music releases Matt Ulery's “In the Ivory”

“In the Ivory” is bassist and composer Matt Ulery’s follow-up to his 2012 record “Wake An Echo”, named by NPR Music as one of the Top 50 Albums of the Year. This double-CD features pianist Rob Clearfield, drummer Jon Deitemeyer, violinist Zach Brock, vocalist Grazyna Auguscik and three-time GRAMMY®-winning new music ensemble eighth blackbird in a lush chamber setting.

Also, with every purchase of “In the Ivory” made before September 30th fans will receive a free one-month subscription to Greenleaf Music's innovative Cloud Player. This proprietary streaming player allows listeners access to the label's entire catalog on their desktop, phone or tablet.

Matt Ulery to release Third Record "In the Ivory" on Greenleaf Music

Chicago Bassist & Composer Matt Ulery
To Release Third Greenleaf Music Album, 
In The Ivory, September 16, 2014
Expanding Upon the Critically Acclaimed
2012 Chamber-Jazz Double Album, By A Little Light

With The Help of His Core Trio Plus Violinist Zach Brock, Vocalist Grazyna Auguscik and 3-time GRAMMY-Winning
New Music Ensemble, eighth blackbird

Expanding upon the artistic and critical success of his 2012 double album By a Little Light, Chicago bassist-composer Matt Ulery returns with In the Ivory on Dave Douglas' acclaimed independent label Greenleaf Music – eighty minutes of resplendent, lyrical, transportive, and impeccably performed chamber-jazz music. Inspired and motivated by the musical and personal relationships developed while recording and performing By a Little Light--Ulery’s most ambitious project to date--In the Ivory explores the idea of consciousness through patient, lyrical composition.

At a time when classical musicians perform in clubs almost as frequently as jazz musicians appear in concert halls, Ulery has forged a unique signature sound that combines a jazz core with luminous ensemble writing and song craft.  Built around a band of select, unique voices, In the Ivory draws upon Ulery's positive experience performing Light with this particular thirteen-piece aggregation.

Ulery's sixth album as a leader blends jazz, American minimalism, Eastern European folk music (as a longtime writing member of Chicago band Eastern Blok), and romanticism into a constantly evolving emotional kaleidoscope.

Ivory's core consists of Ulery on double bass alongside his longtime trio mates pianist Rob Clearfield and drummer Jon Deitemyer as well as violinist Zach Brock, a longtime friend and collaborator. Five of the 14 tracks contain vocals, all but one by Polish singer Grazyna Auguscik, with whom Ulery has worked for a decade. And every track except one features Chicago contemporary music and three-time Grammy-winning ensemble, eighth blackbird.

Ulery is primarily a linear composer whose self-expression is concerned with form and structure presenting narrative through patient, elegant, and sophisticated melodic development.  Intimate and compassionate trio playing is supported by carefully composed ensemble accompaniment.  Minimalism is used as texture rather than as engine, with Clearfield's piano looming large as the music's predominant voice in tracks like "Mary Shelley" and “Black Squirrel.” "In the context of the whole work, it can be digested like a piano concerto with chamber orchestra," says the composer. “It’s of the utmost importance that the evolving energy of one moment be allowed to progress effortlessly to the next.” The trio's long, deep history of this core rhythm section trio is evident in its finesse and fervency.  

Photo by Jim Newberry

Photo by Jim Newberry

Ulery writes fanciful music that is  rooted in the real.  “In this art form, we embrace the learned prowess of technique and comprehension of musical theories together with our personal emotional response to collective energy in crafting something extraordinary for the purpose of abstraction. "When things go bad – and they do, and they will – I propose fantasy as a way to confront our own reality."

Three central musical esthetics present themselves on In the Ivory: chamber ensemble writing, jazz improvisation, and song.  The ensemble writing is evident throughout and is pared down in three pieces of music for strings only – "Innocent,” "Longing," and “Viscous,” which were composed originally for Ulery’s own wedding.

While his 2013 Wake an Echo album with his quintet, Loom, was a self-described “palate cleanser,” Ulery has continued to explore songwriting with his poetic inventions and orchestrations featuring Grazyna Auguscik. These include the profound “There’s a Reason and a Thousand Ways,” “Write it on the Wall,” “When Everything is Just the Same,” and “Visceral.”  Along with "The Farm," sung hauntingly by Sarah Marie Young, these distinctive pieces combine all three elements of this unique brand of modern jazz composition.

Ivory possesses the emotional power and nuance of the Russian and Eastern European Romantics who came to Hollywood in the mid-twentieth century. But it also has the spontaneity of jazz improvisation. This is apparent in the subtle dissolves between Eighth Blackbird and the jazz trio, as on "Sweet Bitter," which features the trio of Ulery, Deitemyer, and violinist Zach Brock soloing intimately in and around one another. Zach Brock, while classically trained as one would expect, is also genuinely steeped in the authentic jazz tradition and has gained exposure as a member of bassist Stanley Clarke’s quartet.

Insofar as In the Ivory emerged from global culture--musical and otherwise--feel free to call it chamber jazz, with an emphasis on the noun rather than the adjective. Think of an update of an update presented by Dave Douglas’ string group, Parallel Worlds, proposed 20 years ago, and revel in the sound of Matt Ulery imagining the possibilities.

Matt Ulery In the Ivory Tour 

September 19-20 - The Green Mill, Chicago, IL

(Official Release Weekend) with full 11-piece ensemble 

October 10th - Constellation, Chicago, IL
with full 11-piece ensemble, featuring eigth blackbird

October 14th at Littlefield, Brooklyn
with full 11-piece ensemble, featuring eigth blackbird

October 15th at An Die Musik, Baltimore

October 17th and 8th at Chris Jazz Cafe, Philadelphia

October 21st at Kerrytown Concert House, Ann Arbor, MI

October 22nd at Merrimen's Playhouse, South Bend, IN

October 24th and 25th at Cliff Bells, Detroit, MI

Greenleaf Music to release "Into the Zone" by Ryan Keberle & Catharsis

Trombonist Ryan Keberle & Catharsis
Release Second Record, Into the Zone

Exploring Meditative Concept of Mindfulness As Applied to Improvised Music,

On Dave Douglas' Greenleaf Music,
 Out Sept. 30, 2014

Album Features Original Catharsis Lineup:

KEBERLE (trombone/melodica), MIKE RODRIGUEZ (trumpet),
JORGE ROEDER (bass), ERIC DOOB (drums),

Plus Newest Addition to Catharsis, CAMILA MEZA (vocals);

And An Encore Guest Spot from SCOTT ROBINSON (sax)

Read More in Keberle's Liner Notes

Most jazz musicians avoid repetition dogmatically. But when Ryan Keberlerealized he’d been playing the same eight-note phrase in all his recent warm-ups, the trombonist embraced his inclination. “As I started playing it more and more, I realized I wasn’t thinking of anything else,” he says. “You can reach a real state of mindfulness through repetition.” Keberle built the phrase into “Without a Thought,” the complex but gracefully flowing centerpiece of his new album, Into the Zone. It’s his first for Dave Douglas’ Greenleaf Music—and arguably the most personal document yet from a trombonist and bandleader better known for his soloist role in famed large ensembles.

Keberle is featured trombonist in Maria Schneider’s Grammy-winning orchestra, Darcy James Argue’s experimental Secret Society band andPedro Giraudo’s Latin jazz ensemble. Keberle has toured with Sufjan Stevens, and recorded with pop stars like Alicia KeysDavid Byrne andSt. Vincent. Even at home in New York City his plate stays full: He teaches atHunter College, leads two groups and occasionally subs with the Saturday Night Live band.

On Into the Zone (which features the smoky vocals of Chilean singer, Camila Meza) Keberle uses mindfulness and Zen philosophy as techniques to tune out the noise of that busy career, while accessing something elemental. “The active process of thinking and editing and critiquing is what most often gets in the way of truly great, spontaneous music,” Keberle says. “It’s those moments of spontaneity that are typically most telling of an artist’s true self.”

Keberle wrote the album’s starkly glamorous music with his stripped-down, pianoless quartet, Catharsis, in mind. Internally, Keberle tends to hear his compositions for orchestra, but he loves the clean power of channeling them through just a few instruments. “A large ensemble allows you more control in telling your musical story,” Keberle admits. “But trying to do more with less has actually opened up manifold possibilities. And as a composer-bandleader, it means trying to let go and let the musicians in your band tell the story.” And in a pared-down setting, a side of his playing emerges that’s often easy to miss: his sensitivity, his discipline, the straight-to-the-point evocativeness of his solos.            

Much credit is also due to the strong, flexible chemistry of Catharsis, which features Mike Rodriguez on trumpet, Jorge Roeder on bass and Eric Doob on drums. Saxophone great Scott Robinson joins as a guest on two tracks, slotting snugly into Keberle’s arrangements and taking a gripping solo on “Gallop.” Most notable, though, is the fertile divide between Meza’s wordless vocals and the band’s double-brass frontline: It feels blurry, sometimes even invisible—partly because Keberle’s trombone sound has such a fluid, vocal-like quality.

“I equate the human voice with honesty,” he explains, saying he strives to achieve an equally primal effect with the trombone. “It isn’t always going to sing the right note at the right time to the right chords, but that’s part of the excitement, and the value. Regardless of the style or the complexity, when audiences hear a voice they immediately pay more attention to the music”

On the disc-ending, two-movement “Zone,” Keberle starts in dappled harmony with Rodriguez, underneath Meza’s wind-tracing melody. A quarter of the way through, he picks up the melodica. All of a sudden Keberle is playing minor chords with upward angles, building tension and creating a sharp sort of darkness. By the end, he and Meza are laying down an oscillating foundation of harmony while Rodriguez takes a sky-scraping solo that makes the high register feel both irresistible and forbidding.

As a music professor in New York City, Keberle often finds that dedication to refinement can inhibit an artist’s ability to really self-investigate. “In the academic world there’s a lot of music these days that lacks that cathartic element. As the level of proficiency continues to rise, we’re losing some of the human aspect,” he says. “In terms of practicing and learning jazz and acquiring the knowledge you need to be a functional jazz musician, you also have to practice shutting down, and letting your mind go.” With Into the Zone, he has achieved something that’s thoroughly modern, but at the same time raw and ancient.