Listen To New Albums From Phish’s Mike Gordon, Keller Williams & Gibb Droll, Fleck/Meyer/Hussain/Chaurasia & More

Sexmob & Scotty Hard and Pete Francis also have new releases out today, Friday, May 12th.

By Team JamBase May 12, 2023 6:25 am PDT

Each week Release Day Picks profiles new LPs and EPs Team JamBase will be checking out on release day Friday. This week we highlight new albums by Mike Gordon, Keller Williams & Gibb Droll, Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer, Zakir Hussain and Rakesh Chaurasia; Sex Mob & Scotty Hard; and Pete Francis. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.

Mike Gordon – Flying Games

After six years, a new solo album finally arrives today from Phish bassist Mike Gordon. Flying Games was self-produced by the Vermont resident with longtime collaborator Jared Slomoff handling recording duties and Grammy-winning engineer Shawn Everett mixing as he did on 2017’s OGOGO. Gordon is joined on the 13-track collection by his solo bandmates guitarist Scott Murawski, percussionist Craig Myers, keyboardist Robert Walter and drummer John Kimock. Each contributed their parts remotely as Mike wrote and recorded the majority of Flying Games while locked down due to the pandemic at his makeshift Megaplum home studio in Vermont. Gordon stated the following about the long process that led to his latest solo LP:

“As someone who comes from a world of telepathic improvisation, the idea of one person layering sounds alone in a room might seem a bit against the mythos. But with this record I didn’t want to work in that traditional way of going into a studio with a band and recording for two weeks; I wanted to take my time and explore, and really go deep into the fabric of the music to see what we could find.”

Keller Williams & Gibb Droll – Droll

Multi-instrumentalist Keller Williams continues his streak of single-word album titles with today’s release of Droll. As the one word — or in this instance one name — title implies, Williams worked with frequent musical cohort and fellow multi-instrumentalist Gibb Droll on the newly released album. Williams and Droll have performed together in several configurations over the years, including the group The Keller Williams KWahtro. The mostly improvised and instrumental album follows Williams’ 2022 release Grit. The two music makers previewed their upcoming collaborative work with the drippy lead single, “Flip Phone Love.” Williams described how the song was created, stating:

“‘Flip Phone Love’ came out of an improv as my collaborator, Gibb Droll, owns a flip phone. The simple idea of texting the word love requires multiple button pushes. My voice was pitched down for a sexy/creepy effect and was recorded in about two hours starting at midnight, so it has that natural late-night vibe. Please enjoy.”

Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer, Zakir Hussain & Rakesh Chaurasia – As We Speak

Banjoist Béla Fleck, bassist Edgar Meyer and tabla master Zakir Hussain recorded a new album, As We Speak, with Indian flautist Rakesh Chaurasia. As We Speak “not only showcases the group’s breathtaking abilities as instrumentalists but underscores the wide range of influences at their command. Across a dozen songs, the quartet glides easily between the cerebral complexity of Indian rhythm and the gut-level groove of a funky bass line, sounding equally at home with the rigors of raga,” noted press materials. Fleck and Meyer first worked with Hussain in 2006 to compose Triple Concerto For Banjo, Bass And Tabla and the trio recorded the material for the Grammy-nominated 2009 LP The Melody Of Rhythm. The three musicians crossed paths with Rakesh Chaurasia while touring India in support of The Melody Of Rhythm. Rakesh Chaurasia, the nephew of Indian flute legend and Hussain confidante Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, plays a type of Indian bamboo flute called the bansuri. After Rakesh sat in with the trio, they knew they had a special chemistry.

“I think we wanted to see if we could do something a little more organic with just a small group,” explained Meyer of the decision to record with Rakesh Chaurasia. “And to have somebody who plays as beautifully as Rakesh join us really opened it up to a more lyrical and melodic situation.”

Sexmob & Scotty Hard – The Hard Way

New York-based jazz quartet Sexmob teamed back up with longtime producer Scotty Hard for a collaborative album, The Hard Way, out today via unique Chicago imprint Corbett vs. Dempsey. Although producer Scotty Hard was always hands-on with previous Sexmob albums, the aptly named The Hard Way is a true collaboration between the band — founder/slide trumpeter Steven Bernstein, bassist Tony Scherr, drummer Kenny Wollesen and saxophonist Briggan Krauss — and the producer known for his beats and soundscapes. Hard and Bernstein tapped Vijay Iyer, DJ Olive and keyboardist John Medeski to guest on The Hard Way, with the latter appearing on the tracks “Banacek” and “Club Pythagorean.”

“Steven really loved my last album,” Hard noted, “and I suggested we do something entirely different. A process record. We’ve already done the four musicians (sometimes more) in a room thing, so let’s do something totally unique and collaborative.”

Pete Francis – PTRN SKY!

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Pete Francis released his first solo album since 2010 and first since leaving Dispatch in 2019 today via Noble Steed Music. Francis recorded PTRN SKY! at home in Connecticut and tapped Scott Jacoby (Coldplay, Vampire Weekend) to produce. Francis’ new record is a testament to the healing power of music, as press materials for the LP noted:

PTRN SKY! finds the acclaimed songwriter and multi-instrumentalist reckoning with the depression and anxiety that have dogged him for most of his adult life, functioning both as an account of how Francis healed and as an agent of healing itself. In addition to therapy and medication, Francis used songwriting as a means of self-care, inhabiting a stream of consciousness style unlike anything he had previously done.

Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.

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