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release: greenhorn in a red state...

After many years in New York, saxophonist Richard Oppenheim relocated to San Antonio, Texas in 2006 with his wife and longtime musical colleague, Katchie Cartwright. He’s thriving there, and yet coming to grips with the notion of “always being an auslander in these parts” — or a Greenhorn in a Red State, to quote the title of Oppenheim’s invigorating new release for Harriton Carved Wax.

Leading a fine sextet with Cartwright on piccolo, daughter Eleonore Oppenheim on bass, Mark Lomanno on piano, Kevin Hess on drums and Georgie Padilla on percussion, Oppenheim muses on ideas of belonging and unfamiliarity, of how to call where you are home. The term “greenhorn,” he recalls, was his grandmother’s description of herself and other immigrants upon arrival at Ellis Island. “It is also a reference to the vivid green patina my Selmer Mark VI has increasingly acquired since Katchie and I moved down here,” Oppenheim adds.

The vibrant tonal blend of Oppenheim’s alto sax and Cartwright’s piccolo is what anchors Greenhorn in a Red State, from the opening 5/4 strut of “Where Is Baseball?” to the closing slow shuffle of “Boog Powell’s Greasy Barbecue Pit (Is Not in San Antonio).” With the baseball reference, Oppenheim, an ardent fan, rues the fact that no one in San Antonio can be bothered with the sport.

There’s almost a Latin block-party flavor, very much a taste of New York, in this band’s front line, and in Padilla’s roiling congas on numerous tracks. Echoes of boogaloo, funk and rock come through on cuts like “Mean Old Bastrop” and “Sunken Kitchens of Terrell Hills,” highlighting the tight and inventive rhythm section. Along with the group’s loose improvisatory feeling, there’s a strong element of counterpoint and rhythmic precision. The shifts in mood, too, can be dramatic: “Debutante At The Coronation Of The Queen Of The Order Of The Alamo” (an actual thing in San Antonio) proceeds as a pair of ethereal duets, first for alto sax and pizzicato bass, then bowed bass and piano. These moments and many others on Greenhorn in a Red State reflect the broad range and eclecticism of Oppenheim’s achievements in music, as a sideman and a leader.

Born in Chicago in 1953, Oppenheim has played alto saxophone since age 13. Following his studies at Indiana University, he gained experience playing with the likes of Marvin Gaye, Charles Mingus and Lonnie Brooks. On relocating to New York in 1976 he recorded with Ray Anderson, Chuck Loeb, Bern Nix, Bill Goodwin and many more. From the late ’70s through ’80s he performed with Lionel Hampton, Clifford Jordan, Otis Rush, Mick Ronson, Ian Hunter, Foghat, Johnny Winter, Buddy Rich, Bernard Purdie, Jaki Byard, David Johanssen and Illinios Jacquet.

Tales and Tongues (2011), the latest release from Katchie & Le Monde Caché, relies strongly on Oppenheim’s fire and endless versatility (Christopher Loudon, Jazz Times, praised Cartwright for “unearthing new ways to illuminate standards with non-English roots ... [with] unilateral mastery and imagination”). Oppenheim’s previous efforts with Cartwright include A Mumbai of the Mind: Ferlinghetti Improvisations and La Faute de la Musique: Songs of John Cage, hailed by David Dupont of One Final Note as “a pair of estimable releases...each session has a distinct flavor, yet the more I listened to them, the more they merged into one beautiful expression...” Earlier releases are Soulmates by the Cartwright/Oppenheim Quintet (“Intriguing and unpredictable” – Scott Yanow), and Live! At the Deer Head Inn by the Katchie Cartwright Quintet (“Highly recommended” – Phil Woods). With Greenhorn in a Red State, Oppenheim takes another important and uniquely personal step in his musical journey.

 

release: tales & tongues...

Vocalist/flutist Katchie Cartwright and her group Le Monde Caché are proud to announce the release of Tales & Tongues — a collection of songs spanning cultures and epochs, performed by a fiery jazz quintet and imbued with a vibrant improvisational aesthetic.

The great Jimmy Heath has hailed Cartwright as “a soulful intellectual with a velvet sound and uncommon ability.” JazzTimes has described her as “one helluva singer.” Holding a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology, she melds her insights as a scholar, educator and performer into an original, forward-thinking musical vision she terms the “global songbook.”

Honoring the great songwriting talents of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Charles Trenet, Argentina’s Carlos Gardel and more, Cartwright sings in Yiddish (“Bay Mir Bistu Sheyn,” “Ikh Hob Dikh Tsufil Lib”), Ladino (“Alta Va La Luna”), Spanish (“El Día Que Me Quieras”), French (“Sous Le Ciel De Paris,” “Que Reste-t-il De Nos Amours”), Italian (“Estate”) and Portuguese (“Triste,” “Chega de Saudade”). She concludes with an instrumental flute feature on the Victor Young standard “Delilah.”

Through it all she projects a surefooted individuality — a remarkable feat in a set of music this diverse and far-reaching. As music journalist David R. Adler writes in the liner notes: “Ultimately, Tales & Tongues is about musical openness, about jazz’s particular way of drawing in the world and still remaining unmistakably itself.”

Cartwright’s partners on Tales & Tongues are saxophonist Richard Oppenheim — her husband and musical collaborator of long standing — along with pianist Mark Lomanno, bassist Billy Satterwhite and drummer Kevin Hess. Together the group lends supple rhythm, luxuriant harmony and springy interplay to a set rich in melody and poetic vocal expression.

A longtime New Yorker, Cartwright relocated in 2006 to San Antonio, Texas, where she has a tenured appointment at Northwest Vista College. She has received Fulbright awards for residencies in Greece and Lebanon, and has performed and conducted workshops in South Asia, West Africa, South America, the Caribbean and Europe.

“When I got to San Antonio,” she states, “I started a radio show, ‘Planet Jazz,’ on the Trinity University station, and a lot of that was the global songbook — playing music that has gone into the jazz ‘stream,’ things that have gone back and forth from African diaspora cultures and can be considered a part of jazz, in one way or another.”

This process of listening and sharing fed into the project that became Tales & Tongues. Cartwright’s previous efforts with Richard Oppenheim include A Mumbai of the Mind: Ferlinghetti Improvisations and La Faute de la Musique: Songs of John Cage, hailed by David Dupont of One Final Note as “a pair of estimable releases … each session has a distinct flavor, yet the more I listened to them, the more they merged into one beautiful expression....”

Earlier releases are Soulmates by the Cartwright/Oppenheim Quintet (“Intriguing and unpredictable” – Scott Yanow), and Live! At the Deer Head Inn by the Katchie Cartwright Quintet (“Highly recommended” – Phil Woods). These CDs feature Oppenheim with James Weidman on piano, (producer) Bill Goodwin on drums, and Cameron Brown or Belden Bullock on bass.

With every outing, Cartwright solidifies her reputation as “an uncommonly disciplined, unaffected artist” (Joel Siegel, Washington City Paper). Tales & Tongues is another new departure and a sign of more great music to come.

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