Jana Herzen & Charnett Moffett - ’Round The World’
Jana Herzen & Charnett Moffett
’Round The World’
New Album on Motéma
Digital Release: July 3 / CD Release: July 17
“There’s something special anytime that Jana Herzen and Charnett Moffett make music together. It’s pure, soulful and especially beautiful to hear now, maybe more than ever.” – American Songwriter
“Charnett Moffett is a Bass Wonder Man” – Downbeat
“Herzen’s rich past imbues her work with color and character.” – People
“Herzen’s clean guitar work [is] a confident dance partner for her sly vocal style… storytelling remains first and foremost. “ – Downbeat
‘Round The World’ (Digital July 3/CD July 17, 2020) is the new album from acclaimed U.S.singer-songwriter/guitarist Jana Herzen and innovative, world-renowned bassist Charnett Moffett. Released through Herzen’s Motéma label, (which debuted Gregory Porter and has 24 GRAMMY® nominations and 5 wins), ‘Round The World’ finds the duo serving up a delightful eleven track set which combines skillfully assembled originals alongside freshly imagined covers by the Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Maria Muldaur, Roberta Flack, Men At Work and more.
Herzen and bassist Charnett Moffett capture lightning in a bottle with a dreamy, sophisticated, smart and quirky mix of songs. They marry innovation with nostalgia as they seamlessly shape shift from folk to jazz to reggae to Afro-beat and beyond. Outstanding new originals such as ‘On The Outside’, ‘Far Away’ and ‘Round The World’ sit comfortably alongside the duo’s very personal take on covers such as ‘Blackbird’ (The Beatles), ‘Both Sides Now’ (Joni Mitchell, ‘Sweetheart’ (Maria Muldaur), ‘Down Under’ (Men At Work) and the much cherished ‘Killing Me Softly’ (Roberta Flack). Throughout the album, the duo reveals themselves to be creative partners who can finish each other’s musical sentences.
At the heart of the album, which was recorded,long before the Covid-19 pandemic, are central themes of love, hope, optimism, respect and honesty. Though they never intended to release the album during a worldwide pandemic, the album’s themes feel very appropriate for this moment. Herzen and Moffett hope that the comforting vibrations of their music will provide a healing antidote to the isolation, fear and disconnection that so many are feeling.
After sixteen years helming the genre-bridging Motéma label, that has introduced ground-breaking albums by Gregory Porter, Joey Alexander, Deva Mahal, Pedrito Martinez, Jaimeo Brown, Brian Jackson, Donny McCaslin, Monty Alexander, Geri Allen,Terri Lyne Carrington & Social Science and more is now experiencing a watershed moment for her own considerable musical talents. This duo release follows close on the heels of another all-original band project, ‘Nothing But Love,’ which came out in January 2020, sparking fervent press response and rising social media engagements. She also recently began touring and recording as a guitarist in Moffett’s Bright New day band which she credits as opening new creative horizons.
Herzen has spent a lifetime in the arts. The child of activist scientists on the Stanford University Campus in California in the turbulent 1960’s. She began performing at five, sang in coffee houses as a teenager, and worked extensively in music and theatre in her early professional life. In her thirties she travelled the world and began writing and recording. She has worked as an art agent, and as a Founder and key executive for two of New York’s more influential arts companies: the MCC Theater (now in its fourth decade), and Motéma Music (now in its 16th year). Wisdom gained along this winding way shows up in her poetry and musicality as well as her confident and magnetic performance style.
As for Moffett, he brings his own forty plus years of arts experience to the table, along with an unusual abundance of spirit and charisma. Considered one of the most virtuosic bassists in jazz, Moffett has honed his A-Team chops through four decades as a musician/composer during which he’s recorded fifteen innovative albums of his own, and over two hundred albums as a bassist to the stars including such revered jazz titles as Wynton Marsalis' ‘Black Codes for the Underground’, McCoy Tyner’s ‘Land of the Giants’, Ornette Coleman’s ‘Sound Museum’, Herbie Hancock’s ‘Future 2 Future’, and Sonny Sharrock's ‘Ask the Ages’.
When Herzen first signed Moffett to Motéma in 2008 they began forging an uncommon artistic bond that has grown organically through years of producing, touring and recording together. Serving first as his Executive Producer, Herzen released two Moffett projects on Motéma before releasing their first duo project, ‘Passion of a Lonely Heart’ in 2012. In 2013 she co-produced Moffett’s solo upright bass tour-de-force ‘The Bridge’ and in 2016 she produced Moffett’s acclaimed live recording debut, ‘Music From Our Soul’, featuring Pharaoh Sanders, Stanley Jordan, Cyrus Chestnut, Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts, Victor Lewis, and Mike Clark. The success of that project led to Moffett inviting Herzen to fill the guitar chair on his live dates and then on his quintet album ‘Bright New Day’ which came out in June 2019. Loving the sound that Moffett’s band brought to her song ‘Precious Air’ in his Bright New Day sessions, Herzen decided to engage the same team for her own band album ‘Nothing But Love’ which came out January 17th.
The release of ‘Round the World’ represents both a new direction and a full circle return for the duo. The tracks for these eleven songs were laid down in early experimental sessions that that led to their first duo recording. Of twenty-two tracks recorded back then, half came out on Herzen’s jazz focused ‘Passion of a Lonely Heart’ in 2012. The others were saved for later release and now appear on this disc. These moving duo arrangements of 1960, ‘70 & ‘80s hits that Herzen used to cover at folk clubs and coffeehouses in her teens, and for her five story-driven originals written along her path since then, reveal the deep musical camaraderie and artistic telepathy that seeded this unlikely pair’s many fruitful collaborations.
“The music doesn’t lie,” explains Moffett. “Jana’s musical creativity is diverse. She is an artist with an original sound and style who always sings and plays from her heart. Her poetic lyrics and song writing embrace the listener with the compassion of truth. I’ve found that playing in a duo capacity allows the sound of the bass to have a voice of its own. Our duo recordings and performances have all been exciting for me. I never know which style Jana will travel into next as each song finds a new journey every time the music is created.” – Charnett Moffett
“Charnett’s ever flowing waterfall of musical ideas is always a thrill to collaborate with. There’s a language we’re developing that been gaining nuance through the years and I’m looking forward to what’s coming ‘round the bend.” – Jana Herzen
The duo will be sharing performances online to support ‘Round the World and their other recent releases and looks forward to touring and more recording in better times to come.”
For further information: Stuart Kirkham PR 07795 844611 firstname.lastname@example.org
Websites: http://janaherzen.net • http://charnettmoffettbass.net • http://motema.com
‘ROUND THE WORLD’ TRACK BY TRACK:
1) Sweetheart (1974, Ken Burgan) 3:16 – Recorded first by Dan Hicks and made famous by Maria Muldaur, one of Jana's earliest influences. Jana comments: “I saw her in San Francisco when I was 13 and was deeply impressed by her freedom, bluesy sound and sassiness. She gave me the idea that I might like to be a professional singer. ”
2) Both Sides Now (1968– Joni Mitchell) 4:51 – Herzen and Moffett give it a jazz/reggae feel that gives the stunning lyrics extra room to breathe.
3) Killing Me Softly (1973 – Charles Fox/Norman Gimbel) 4:10 – A jazzy take on the Roberta Flack pop hit which has been a favourite of Herzen’s since she first heard it on the radio in 1973.
4) On the Outside –5:20 – A slow burn jazz duo version of one of the highlight tracks on Herzen’s Nothing But Love album. Here Moffett inspired the arrangement, with his famously relentless groove.
5) Blackbird – (1968 – Lennon/McCartney) 3:48 – From The Beatles (White Album) McCartney has stated that the lyrics of the song were inspired by hearing the call of a blackbird in Rishikesh, India as well as by the unfortunate state of race relations in the United States in the 1960s. Herzen and Moffett play it as a prayer.
6) Far Away –(Jana Herzen/Shakara Mutela) 6:13 – Lyrics are by Herzen, music by Congolese ex-pat Shakara Mutela, producer of Herzen’s debut album, Soups on Fire (2001), whom she met indirectly through Carlos Santana. It’s a long story. Feel free to ask.
7) ‘Round the World (Jana Herzen) 4:13 – A blues ballad that came to Jana in the middle of the night in New York City after returning from what she calls her “Musical Mystery Tour” through Japan, Bali and Outback Australia in 1990-91.
8) Bali Dream – (Jana Herzen) 5:50 – Inspired by Jana’s experiences of that mystical island.
9) Land Down Under (1980, Colin Hay, Ron Strykert) 4:47 – A soulful and grooving reggae treatment of the 1980 international hit by Men at Work. Jana took time to learn this song while traveling in Australia in the 1990’s during some studio sessions where she had a chance to record some of her first original song demos
10) Part of the Wild (Jana Herzen) 4:32 – Written late at night under a grove of Redwoods in Oregon after an eventful weekend at the Oregon Country Fair in 1992.
11) Rainbow Connection (1979, Paul Williams, Kenneth Ascher) 3:57 – From the film The Muppet Movie. Jana comments: “This gem, first made famous by a frog, is really quite deep. I hope people will enjoy our reggae styled interpretation”.
ABOUT MOTÉMA MUSIC:
Motéma Music is an award-winning independent label founded in by Jana Herzen in San Francisco in 2003 and now based in Harlem in New York City. The label has garnered 24 GRAMMY ® nominations with five wins in the genres of jazz, Latin jazz, reggae and R&B. Motéma has launched recording careers for international stars Gregory Porter, Joey Alexander, Pedrito Martinez and Deva Mahal and supported a wide array of innovative jazz artists including Randy Weston, Monty Alexander, Geri Allen, David Murray, Donny McCaslin, Marc Guiliana, Ben Wendel, Melissa Aldana. The label has released the politically conscious projects: Playing for Change “Listen to the Music”, Jaimeo Brown’s Transcendence, Kentyah’s “Evolutionary Minded (The Music of Brian Jackson & Gil Scott Heron) and the Terri Lyne Carrington & Social Science 2019 juggernaut, Waiting Game. Please visit Motéma.com to learn more.
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