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Mack Avenue Music Group Celebrates Magnificent Year with Rebranding and New Logo Leading into 20th Anniversary in 2019

Mack Avenue Music Group Celebrates

Magnificent Year with Rebranding and New Logo

Leading into 20th Anniversary in 2019

More Than 25 Projects Released in 2018 – CDs, EPs

and Vinyl – Alongside Announcement of Brand New

Imprint Under Christian McBride’s Direction,

Brother Mister Productions

Mack Avenue Music Group is celebrating a magnificent year which included more than 25 releases and the launch of a new imprint. The newly re-branded parent company to Mack Avenue Records, Artistry Music, Rendezvous Music, Sly Dog Records, MaxJazz, Detroit Music Factory, and Brother Mister Productions is preparing to celebrate its landmark 20th anniversary in 2019 with a new modern logo.

The record label, which was founded independently in 1999 by Gretchen Valade, was conceived purely out of a genuine love for the music. With an infrastructure that grew around the passion, the label began to take shape in the early 2000s and now boasts an esteemed list of GRAMMY® Award wins.

In 2018, a year where Mack Avenue was the amongst the most nominated of all independent record labels across any genre for the 60th Annual GRAMMY® Awards, the label released new projects from its critically acclaimed longstanding artists and made pivotal new signings with icons such as Tower of Power, Chucho Valdés and Macy Gray. Furthermore, the label forged relationships with the estates of Oscar Peterson and Erroll Garner to release historic recordings.

This also marks another prolific year for its vinyl release program, with beautifully packaged albums by Macy Gray, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Gary Burton, Christian McBride, Tower of Power, Erroll Garner, Christian Sands, and more. Additionally, Mack Avenue made their first steps into EP territory with thoughtfully curated digital-only releases from Christian Sands, Cameron Graves, Jeffrey Osborne, and Jesse Palter.

Christian McBride also made waves within the organization, launching his own imprint: Brother Mister Productions. The unparalleled bassist debuts his latest group, New Jawn, with an eponymous release on the newly-minted imprint.

“This has been an exciting and pivotal year for us and we are hard at work continuing on that path for 2019,” comments Mack Avenue Music Group President Denny Stilwell.

Since its inception, Mack Avenue Music Group has continually developed and nourished the growing careers of legends and new young lions alike. Having been home and family to incredibly talented artists such as Christian McBride, Stanley Clarke, Yellowjackets, Danilo Pérez, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Christian Sands, Cameron Graves, Tia Fuller, the late Gerald Wilson, and more, Mack Avenue is looking forward to another stellar year with new releases from Joey DeFrancesco, Cyrille Aimée, Julian Lage, Alfredo Rodríguez, Herlin Riley, Christian McBride, and more. 

See Below for Details and Quotes for Each Release:

Dave Bennett — Blood Moon (Released: Oct. 20, 2017)

A “blood moon” is a natural phenomenon that evokes a sense of foreboding yet captivating wonderment. However, the moon eventually returns to its natural state, shedding its reddish hues back to normalcy. Clarinetist Dave Bennett has not returned to normalcy and neither has his music. Blood Moon, Bennett’s sophomore release for Mack Avenue Records, is a dark and reflective collection that deals with loss, heartbreak, and ultimately a return to faith and hope.

“Bennett is a player superbly well balanced between purity and power…” — DownBeat

“…Bennett injects three heady shots of adrenalin that bring the music sharply to life.” — DownBeat


Oscar Peterson — Oscar, With Love (Released: Nov. 17, 2017)

Oscar, With Love showcases Oscar Peterson as a composer and includes the world première of several pieces he wrote, but never recorded. The compositions were retrieved from Peterson’s library for the project. Most of the music on the recording was written by Peterson, or for him, by some of his closest musical friends.

“Listen to this set in its entirety, and you get a sense that you’re hearing the

essence of Peterson, regardless of who’s playing the piano.” — Chicago Tribune

“Listen to this set in its entirety and you get a sense that you’re hearing the essence of

Peterson, regardless of who’s playing the piano. The poetry of his melodies and the questing

nature of his harmonies reflect a decidedly introspective personality.” — Los Angeles Times


Julian Lage — Modern Lore (Released: Feb. 2, 2018)

Modern Lore finds Lage playfully flipping the script he followed on his acclaimed 2016 Mack Avenue debut, Arclight. That album was his first trio set on electric guitar and found Lage inspired by the sounds and the attitude of the freewheeling, pre-bebop jazz era, when, as he puts it, “country music and jazz and swing were in this weird wild-west period.” This time he incorporates the sensibility, if not the outright sound, of early rock and roll, a similarly hybrid form driven by rhythm, personality and a passion for the electric guitar. 

“(Julian Lage) is in the highest category of improvising musicians, those who can

enact thoughts and impulses as they receive them.” — The New Yorker

“It’s the strongest album of Lage’s career so far, and the first that fully captures his trademark

melding of fleet precision, open-road possibility and radiant self-assurance.” — NPR


Alfredo Rodríguez — The Little Dream (Released: Feb. 23, 2018)

“The Little Dream,” the title track of Cuban pianist and composer Alfredo Rodríguez’s fourth studio album (Mack Avenue Records), gently builds into an uplifting statement – one that reflects the hope children hold in building a brighter future, where tiny dreams manifest into grandiose realities.

“Alfredo Rodríguez is a figurehead of the new generation of Cuban jazz musicians who

observe and honor their roots while constantly seeking new avenues for expression.” — NPR

“The virtuoso Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodríguez, a Quincy Jones protégé, recorded

many of the tunes on “The Little Dream” in a single take: His chops are that solid,

and his trio is that tightly woven.” — The New York Times


Cameron Graves — Planetary Prince: The Eternal Survival EP (Released: May 18, 2018)

Following on the heels of his 2017 critically-acclaimed debut album Planetary Prince, the fleet-fingered pianist is ready to continue the message with an EP entitled Planetary Prince: The Eternal Survival EP. This new collection of music features dynamic no-holds-barred live performances from Washington, Bruner, trombonist Ryan Porter, bassist Carlitos del Puerto, guitarist Matt Haze, and special guest Stanley Clarke, as well as two previously unreleased studio sessions.


Christian Sands — REACH FUTHER EP (Released: May 18, 2018)

After a dynamic 2017, filled with international touring and the release of his critically acclaimed Mack Avenue Records debut album REACH, singularly talented pianist, GRAMMY® Award-nominee, and Steinway artist Christian Sands expanded on his story with REACH FURTHER EP. This outing features live performances of three tracks from his latest album, recorded on March 7, 2018 at the popular Los Angeles jazz club Blue Whale, as well as two unreleased tracks from the original studio recording sessions. 


Jeffrey Osborne — Worth It All (Released: May 25, 2018)

Jeffrey Osborne — Worth It All The Remix EP (Released: June 15, 2018)

Jeffrey Osborne releases his first Soul Music album of new material in 13 years, returning to the realm in which he so indelibly inscribed his mark. The singer/songwriter/producer makes a most triumphant return on Worth It All, featuring 12 new songs, all written by Jeffrey. The album features special guests Gerald Albright on saxophone and Rick Braun on trumpet. 

“At 70 years of age one of the most beautiful soul voices continues…with a

‘back to the roots’ repertoire that has not aged a bit.”  Rolling Stone UK

“WORTH IT ALL is a vibrant and thoughtfully romantic collection of songs in which

Osborne reflects on his 35-plus years of marriage and sets said thoughts to a richly robust

and diversified palate of sumptuous soul music” — Broadway World


Tia Fuller — Diamond Cut (Released: May 25, 2018)

While “diamond in the rough” often describes burgeoning talents brimming with potential, Fuller has exhibited impending greatness since emerging more than a decade ago. Now, her artistic capacity has blossomed tremendously, resulting in her fourth Mack Avenue Records release – the aptly titled Diamond Cut, her first album as leader since 2012’s Angelic Warrior. In those six years, she’s transitioned from being a member of Beyoncé’s touring band to becoming a full-time professor at Berklee College of Music, while juggling a demanding career as a solo artist and touring with the likes of Terri Lyne Carrington and Esperanza Spalding, among others.

“‘Diamond Cut’ shows that she is respected by the most impressive musicians in the music

and that we should all respect her sound, her soul, and her vision.”  PopMatters

“Scalding and propulsive, Ms. Fuller always seems to be testing the limits of

her own power — as if seeing if she can single-handedly overload

your ear’s switchboard.”  The New York Times


Tower of Power — Soul Side of Town (Released: June 1, 2018)

The most dynamic and distinctive band of survivors in Soul Music are roaring into its unprecedented 50th anniversary with a dynamic album of all new material. A labor of love, definitively titled Soul Side of Town, this package is charged with 14 filler-free songs. As always, the songs on Tower of Power’s Soul Side of Town were primarily composed by the hit-making team of founding members Emilio Castillo and Stephen “Doc” Kupka who also hold down the world famous 5-man Tower of Power Horns. 

“This 50th-anniversary recording affirms the trademarks of the meticulous

10-piece ensemble: a razor-sharp horn section of distinctive saxophone drama, versatile

lead vocalists, song titles demanding the listener join in the fun and just enough

variety to avoid predictability.” — DownBeat 

“All steamy and sweaty and Latin-fied. It’s all instantly identifiable—a few seconds in,

anywhere, and you know who you’re listening to.” — Relix


Harold López-Nussa — Un Día Cualquiera (Released: June 15, 2018)

Un Día Cualquiera is a forceful statement from a Cuban musician leading his tight-knit Cuban band, recorded in the U.S. (at WGBH Studios in Boston, Mass.), and influenced by music from both countries in ways that transcend narrow notions of “Latin jazz.” The album nods to classic Cuban composers and musicians but it focuses mostly on pianist Harold López-Nussa’s original compositions and his distinctive trio concept. These compositions are mostly new, save for one or two, such as the opener, “Cimarrón,” which are older pieces reinvented for the present moment.

“One of the most esteemed contemporary musical families from Cuba…. the 34-year-old

musician and composer is known for energizing the Havana scene.” — Billboard

“Amid a crowded field of contemporaries, Harold holds his own and more. His new album,

‘Un Día Calquieria,’ is the best example yet of his talents as a player and writer.” — NPR Music


Cyrille Aimée — Cyrille Aimée Live (Released: June 22, 2018)

The end of one chapter means the beginning of another. Like all the best cliffhangers, Cyrille Aimée Live leaves the audience wanting more…but also eager to discover what comes next. Recorded at a typically lively and engaging performance at New York City’s (Le) Poisson Rouge in August 2017, the album finds the acclaimed vocalist bidding a fond adieu to her long-standing band and looking forward to a brand-new phase in her life and career. The August performance marked the band’s final show together, saying goodbye to this configuration of Aimée’s band while welcoming a new chapter of creative output.

“Ms. Aimée’s other unmistakable trademark is a penchant for sonic playfulness.

A good point of comparison might be Ella Fitzgerald…” — Wall Street Journal

“Cyrille Aimée has a high, taut voice that travels light: It’s dexterous,

flexible, not especially thick.” — The New York Times


Stanley Clarke — The Message (Released: June 29, 2018)

45 years after his album debut, four-time Grammy® Award-winning bassist Stanley Clarke shows he is still unapproachable on both the electric and acoustic, wielding a vision of fusion and funk, breakbeats and bass-interpreted cello suites with a little help from friends like rapper/beatboxer Doug E. Fresh and trumpeter Mark Isham. Backed by a young versatile band and a collection of tunes written in the midst of a tumultuous tour of Europe, The Message swells with an abundance of strength, soul and astounding musicianship.

“It’s easy to throw the word legend around when you talk to musicians who regularly

appear on World Cafe. So when a real legend shows up, you’ve run out of superlatives.

In the truest sense of the word, Stanley Clarke is a legend.”  NPR “World Cafe”

“‘The Message’ may be the most stylistically diverse album that Stanley Clarke has

made to date—quite an achievement in itself, considering the massive volume of work the

bassist has turned out, both as a leader and collaborator, over the past four-plus decades.”  Relix


Erroll Garner — Nightconcert (Released: July 13, 2018)

Nightconcert (from the Dutch Nachtconcert) is a midnight jazz performance held at The Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, one of the premiere concert halls in the world. Recorded on November 7, 1964, it features Garner with his classic trio (bassist Eddie Calhoun and drummer Kelly Martin) performing to a packed house of 2,000 enraptured fans. The audience witnessed a blistering set featuring the group’s unique take on classics from The Great American Songbook, as well as three originals by Garner: “Theme From A New Kind of Love (All Yours),” “No More Shadows” and a new composition titled “That Amsterdam Swing.”

“With Nightconcert,’ we now have a Garner performance spring-loaded

with his most captivating keyboard tricks. As evidenced by the recording, he made sure

his fans left delighted.” — Wall Street Journal

“The master pianist Erroll Garner was known for his plush, fluent harmonies

and his lilting fluidity.” — The New York Times


Brian Bromberg — Thicker Than Water (Released: July 13, 2018)

Thicker Than Water is a record I’ve been wanting to make for a very long time,” says the dynamic bass virtuoso Brian Bromberg. “I love the upright bass. It’s where my heart and soul is. My connection with that instrument is unlike anything in my life. I also love the electric bass and really wanted to explore its endless possibilities on this project.” That love of the bass is evident across the wide-range of irresistible grooves found on Thicker Than Water.

“Bromberg—ever the innovator…unlocks the instrument’s unlimited potential to shape

a vast array of sounds not normally attributed to it.”  Elmore Magazine

“Tight horns, sweet sexy sax work, energetic percussion, precise and supportive

keys and masterful writing and arrangements…”  Bass Musician Magazine


Jonathan Butler — Close To You (Released: Aug. 24, 2018)

World renowned South African singer-songwriter and guitarist Jonathan Butler’s latest endeavor Close To You is a collection of Burt Bacharach Classics reinterpreted with his masterful skills as well as a celebration of his career on the world stage. Butler’s relationship and love affair with Bacharach dates back to age 12 when he recorded his version of “Please Stay” in Apartheid-era South Africa. Even after escaping the brutal political and social system, Butler kept his South African identity and the world is grateful for his many gifts. 

“…a powerful new version of ‘What the World Needs Now’…” — Parade

“‘This collection of Burt classics get a fresh coat of sonic paint across Jonathan Butler’s

‘Close To You’.  A full-length tribute to songs created by the classic team of lyricist

Hal David and composer Burt Bacharach”  Rockwrite 


Raul Midón — If You Really Want (Released: Sept. 14, 2018)

With his exciting new album, If You Really Want, Midón’s voice and guitar ride the waves of an actual orchestra: the acclaimed Metropole Orkest, the GRAMMY® Award-winning Dutch ensemble that has collaborated with artists from Al Jarreau and Elvis Costello to Laura Mvula and Snarky Puppy. Midón – who earned his first GRAMMY nomination for Bad Ass and Blind, his Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Records album of 2017 – worked hand in glove on If You Really Want with another renowned GRAMMY winner and frequent Metropole Orkest collaborator: conductor-composer-arranger Vince Mendoza.

“Midón’s interpretation of his surroundings is borderless. He sings with the

passion of the best classic soul singers, and his instrumental chops stand

alongside the most accomplished jazz musicians.”  — NPR Music 

“…guaranteed to get you moving and smiling. Yes, at the same time!” — Parade


Yellowjackets — Raising Our Voice (Released: Sept. 14, 2018)

While the Los Angeles-based Yellowjackets have been a creative force on the jazz scene since 1981 when they recorded their eponymous debut, their fourth Mack Avenue Records album, Raising Our Voice, once again ups the ante by inviting vocalist extraordinaire Luciana Souza to collaborate with the group for seven of its thirteen tunes as well as subtly taking a resistant stand against the status quo of the cultural and political undercurrent of our times. The band has recorded close to 30 albums, been nominated for 17 GRAMMY® Awards, and has adventurously amplified the eclectic, electro-acoustic soundscape, creating a unique sound since its beginnings.

“They’re always so creative. They’re musically impeccable,

amazing musicians.” — NPR Weekend Edition

“The Yellowjackets’ new “Raising Our Voice” includes Souza as a singer and leans

appealingly Brazilian in their original writing.” — The Boston Globe


Christian Sands — Facing Dragons (Released: Sept. 21, 2018)

Not yet 30, Christian Sands is currently one of the most in-demand pianists working in jazz. In the last few years he has toured around the world as a bandleader and recently appeared as a sideman on records by Christian McBride and Gregory Porter. After the one-two punch of REACH and REACH FURTHER – EP, Sands’ dynamic 2017 Mack Avenue debut and his live/unreleased studio tracks EP follow-up released earlier this year, Facing Dragons is Sands’ return to the recording studio with an indestructible band and an unwavering allegiance to the groove.

“…a display of casual ebullience that would impress at any age.” — NPR Music

“Sands, 29, has a résumé that would produce anxiety in a

pianist twice his age…” — New York Magazine


Macy Gray — RUBY (Released: Sept. 21, 2018)

Rubies hold a special place amongst the world’s rarest natural treasures. The most sought-after of the corundum family, the gemstone’s crimson hue instantly catches attention—as if extracting passion from the earth itself and crystallizing it in mineral form. Similarly, Macy Gray occupies a rare space in the canon of modern music. Now, her tenth full-length album, RUBY [Artistry Music/Mack Avenue], reaffirms and reasserts that signature rarity millions continue to treasure.

“The zest evident across her 10th album, even when the theme is misfortune

or heartbreak, is infectious. Her trademark jazzy soul and R&B foundations are accounted for…

and Gray’s vocals and effervescent personality shine through.” — Associated Press 

“…the 10th studio album from Gray delivers a series of lightning-strike reminders

of the soul singer’s way with phrasing a lyric.”  — Los Angeles Times


Cécile McLorin Salvant — The Window (Released: Sept. 28, 2018)

The world first learned of the incredible Cécile McLorin Salvant when she won the prestigious 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. In just under the span of a decade she has evolved from a darling of jazz critics and fans, to a multi-GRAMMY® Award winner, to a prescient and fearless voice in music today. Her newest release, The Window, an album of duets with the pianist Sullivan Fortner, explores and extends the tradition of the piano-vocal duo and its expressive possibilities. With just Fortner’s deft accompaniment as support, to play freely with time, harmony, melody and phrasing.

“The leader of a new pack of fully modern jazz singers explores the historical context and modern possibilities of every song she sings, even the deepest American standards.” — Pitchfork

 “The most radical thing a jazz singer could do in 2018 is stick to the basics…

But on ‘The Window,’ the wise, virtuosic and subtly subversive 29-year-old singer

opts for a setting so stark it can almost seem abstract.” — Rolling Stone


Connie Han — CRIME ZONE (Released: Oct. 19, 2018)

With her debut Mack Avenue Records album CRIME ZONE, next generation Los Angeles pianist Connie Han has created an edgy blend of modern and traditional jazz. Han’s parents, both practicing classical musicians, instilled an appreciation for music and a strong work ethic in Han very early on, enrolling her in piano lessons at the age of five.

“This 22-year-old pianist is the rare musician with fearsome technical chops,

a breadth of historical knowledge and enough originality to write tunes

that absorb your ear easily.” — The New York Times

“Mack Avenue has found a diamond in the rough.” — DownBeat


Jesse Palter — The Paper Trail EP (Released: Oct. 19, 2018)

By the time Jesse Palter officially signed to Artistry Music and began honing the set list for the release of her debut EP The Paper Trail, she had written an astounding number of songs. Her multitude of talents as a vocalist and songwriter of strength and depth are showcased powerfully on the five tracks of The Paper Trail EP.




Christian McBride New Jawn — Eponymous (Upcoming Release: Oct. 26, 2018)

If there’s one thing the acclaimed bassist knows, it’s that when it comes to grit there’s no better resource to draw from than his own hometown, Philadelphia. So, McBride turned to one of the city’s most beloved colloquialisms to christen his latest project, Christian McBride’s New Jawn. On the band’s eponymous debut, these four stellar musicians ably walk the razor’s edge between thrilling virtuosity and gut-punch instinctiveness. The release will be available on October 26 via Brother Mister Productions, McBride’s own newly launched imprint of his longtime label, Mack Avenue Records.


Gary Burton — Take Another Look: A Career Retrospective (Upcoming Release: Nov. 2, 2018)

In 2018, Gary Burton celebrated both his 75th birthday and the first full year of his well-deserved (if, for our tastes, way too early) retirement. To celebrate, Mack Avenue Records is taking a look back over the legendary vibraphonist’s storied career with the five-LP collection Take Another Look: A Career RetrospectiveTake Another Look encompasses the entirety of Burton’s 50+-year career, from his attention-grabbing early releases for industry powerhouse RCA Victor, through his wide-ranging sessions for Atlantic and his iconic ECM recordings, on to his fusion-era reinvention on GRP and his eclectic and generation-spanning efforts for Concord and Mack Avenue.


Chucho Valdés — Jazz Batá 2 (Upcoming Release: Nov. 16, 2018)

Jazz Batá 2, composer, pianist and bandleader Chucho Valdés’ first album for Mack Avenue Records, marks a new peak of creativity for the artist, even as it revisits the small-group concept of his 1972 Cuban album Jazz Batá. That album upon release was originally considered experimental at the time, but the trio project – featuring no drum set and two virtuosi who would subsequently be charter members of Irakere: Carlos del Puerto (bass) and Oscar Valdés (batá: the sacred, hourglass shaped drums of the Yoruba religion in Cuba) – would now be considered contemporary.