New modern jazz with Seattle connections: Riley Mulherkar, Ari Joshua, Francesco Crosara
Six weeks into the new year, the New Cool showcases new releases from a trio of Northwest connected artists. This Friday's show includes a fresh collection of songs from guitarist Ari Joshua, pianist Francesco Crosara and trumpeter Riley Mulherkar.
Mulherkar, a graduate of Garfield High School, has been based in New York for nearly 15 years. Most of those years have had the trumpeter busy with the four-horn quartet The Westerlies, which he co-founded with Seattle-area friends who'd also relocated to the East Coast.
Due Feb.16, his album Riley promises plenty of Mulherkar's unique blend of early American roots and modern electronics that never lets you forget this is the music of a trumpeter.
The modern march of the pre-release single "Ride or Die" spotlights a catchy hook with a handful of unexpected twists undergirded by a thick bass line and driving rhythms of Russell Hall and Kyle Poole.
The second single from the album is the vocal feature "No More," with Vuyo Sotashe bringing gospel passion to Mulherkar's dramatic ballad. A slow, cracking thud of rhythm drags the song along with spooky sound design from Rafiq Bhatia and the album's pianist, Chris Pattishall.
Mulherkar's experience with the Westerlies has honed his skills to a fine edge - he can pull a variety of interesting tones and textures from his instrument as well as play a compelling melodic line. Riley is an exciting debut from a unique voice in contemporary music.
Recently in town to honor his GHS band leader Clarence Acox, Mulherkar was excited to finally release his first album as a bandleader. "It's been a long time coming," he said of Riley. He'll be at the Royal Room next Friday night to celebrate the new release with his hometown friends and fans.
The Italian pianist Francesco Crosara moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2017 and quickly gained attention for his joyful, Latin-influenced melodies in an acoustic setting. The new album Circular Motion is a half-acoustic, half-electric affair with three different trios playing fresh recordings of original songs written over Crosara's 40-year career.
Bassist Clipper Anderson and drummer Mark Ivester join Crosara on straight-ahead acoustic tunes, while he employs Osama Afifi and Xavier LeCouturier for a few songs with "more of a world music approach," he explained.
The third rhythm section, Farko Dosumov and D'Vonne Lewis, bring a contemporary post-fusion element. "One Day Honey, One Day Onions" establishes a sharp groove in 7/4 time that finds Crosara's keyboard wash topped by a synthesized sound you might mistake for electric guitar. Dosumov's sparsely backed bass solo is soaked in rubbery effects, leading to a colorful drum break from Lewis.
The song is one of Crosara's most recent creations, which he debuted in 2021 for a remote streaming concert at the Royal Room. Crosara explained that he used an "electric guitar synthesizer voice with a clear inspiration and dedication to (fusion guitarist) John McLaughlin."
You can find Crosara leading yet another trio, with Osama Afifi and drummer Glenn Young, on the Kitsap Peninsula at Casa Mexico in Keyport Feb. 16.
A familiar face in Seattle's "groove jazz" scene, guitarist Ari Joshua displays his musical versatility with new single "Country Stroll." A twangy tribute to former Seattlite Bill Frisell, the song includes Joshua's friends John Medeski and Billy Martin from Medeski, Martin & Wood.
The tenderly tangled melody is catchy country blues, modernized by the improvisational styles of all three terrific musicians. Medeski offers a joyful solo followed by upbeat guitar plucking that expands the melody further.
Using brushes instead of sticks, Martin’s drumming has a lazy southern drawl feeling with just a hint of urban sensibility.
Joshua has also released the funky "Elephant Walk" with this trio and has more recordings with bassist Jason Fraticelli, expanding the group to a quartet.
Joshua also shared that his Music Factory Records will be releasing a song this spring from saxophonist Peter Daniel in a group with Joshua, Marina Albero, Marina Christopher and Heather Thomas playing keyboards, bass and drums.
Ari Joshua will explore live, improvised EDM with Hurricane Dreams at the Seamonster Lounge on Valentine's Day next week and stay connected to the New Cool for more recording and concert news from this energized artist.
There's more to come for modern jazz lovers in the Pacific Northwest, including the PDX Jazz Festival beginning Feb. 16. Stay connected for a preview of festival acts traveling north from Portland for concerts in Seattle on next week's show!
The New Cool airs Fridays at 9 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Washington. LISTEN ON DEMAND