Only an <em>Octave</em> Away: A Sneak Preview of JRR's Eighth CD

By 
Margot Edwards
March 31, 2011
Dayramir Gonzalez
Lee Dynes
Concetta Donato
Felix Peikli
Eran Fink
Hagai Perets
Leonardo Radicchi
Zac Zinger Group
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist
Photo by Alexandria Pierre-Etienne

Berklee's student-run label Jazz Revelation Records (JRR) offers a preview of its upcoming album, Octave, with a concert Wednesday, April 20, at the Berklee Performance Center. The concert features top performers Dayramir y Habana enTRANCE, Lee Dynes and the Jazz Tellers, Concetta Donato, Zac Zinger Group, and the Felix Peikli Quartet.

Called Octave because it is the label's eighth release, the album is chock-full of great music, including fresh new talent and a returning artist, showcasing some of Berklee's top jazz players from around the world. Listen to or download the CD in advance at JRR's Bandcamp page. The bandleaders hail from Cuba, Israel, Italy, Mozambique, Norway, and the United States, each bringing a unique perspective to their original compositions in varied styles of jazz—contemporary, straight-ahead, old school bebop, Latin, experimental, piano trio ballads, and progressive.

Only an Octave Away: A Sneak Preview of JRR's Eighth CD is $10 ($5 for seniors) and begins at 8:15 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center (BPC), located at 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. For more information, call 617 747-2261 or visit berkleebpc.com. Advance tickets are available at the box office or at ticketmaster.com. The BPC is wheelchair-accessible.

"Of special note this year is Cuban artist Dayramir Gonzalez. He has upped the ante in terms of sound. We captured the true spirit of modern Cuban music despite the difficulties of recording a larger band and the cultural differences in working together," says Kevin McCluskey, faculty advisor and executive producer for Jazz Revelation Records. "Dayramir is considered by many to be a leading Young Turk among Cuba's incredible up-and-coming pianists."

Of the decision to include a musician from a prior album, McCluskey says, "We saw last year's artists grow exponentially as writers and players and we wanted to both celebrate that and document it. . . Zac Zinger is back with an entirely new take on his music. He wrote his composition entirely without the use of thirds. The result is fresh and surprisingly melodic."

JRR is operated by Berklee students who possess a keen desire to discover, record, promote, and market fantastic jazz musicians. The JRR team is responsible for choosing the artists; producing, engineering, and promoting the album; and designing its artwork. In addition to the annual CD and concert, JRR produces shows at the all-ages venue Cafe 939 and at the Berklee library. JRR also provides bands for the Music Production and Engineering Department to record during class time, giving the student engineers an opportunity to work with bands that are more experienced in the studio.

Jazz Revelation Records was founded in 2003 by Berklee College of Music students deeply involved in original jazz composition and performance. With the help of the college's Professional Music Department, the ensuing years have seen the release of seven full-length compilation CDs: Rebirth, Two, Ars Nova, The New Old School, Common Ground, Dedication, and Birds of a Feather. All proceeds go towards maintaining the label and recording next year's project. Octave will be available May 10 on CDBaby and iTunes. To support the students with a purchase, visit JRR's page at cdbaby.com.

Listen to or download the CD in advance at JRR's Bandcamp page.

About the Artists in the Concert

Dayramir y Habana enTRANCE (Cuban big band) is a 10-piece group led by pianist Dayramir Gonzalez, who began studying piano at 8 in Havana and then attended Cuba's National School of Music. Gonzalez has played with many Cuban jazz greats, including Omar Puente, Julito Padron, Chucho Valdez, and Timbalaye. In 2004, Gonzalez created his own group, Habana enTRANCE. Two years later, he won the international Jojazz contest in Cuba, allowing him to complete the group's first album. In 2010, he became the first Cuban living on the island to be awarded a full scholarship to study at Berklee.

Felix Peikli (progressive jazz), a native of Oslo, Norway, found his way into music trough the local marching band, where he played clarinet. In his mission to help others through music, Peikli held an AIDS benefit concert in 2007 to coincide with Harry Belafonte's visit to Oslo that raised $5,000 for the cause. In 2010, he performed his first international tour, appearing at venues including the Oslo Jazzfestival, TV2, NRK1, and Rica Victoria. Peikli, a full-tuition scholarship recipient, is a member of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute under the direction of Danilo Pérez and Marco Pignataro.

Lee Dynes and the Jazz Tellers (Afro-jazz and rock) are led by guitarist Lee Dynes, from Tipp City, Ohio. Dynes studies performance and composition on a full-tuition scholarship and has performed with artists including Patti Austin, Pat Metheny, James Moody, and Phil Woods. He became noted for his unique and passionate guitar style, leading to appearances at festivals including San Francisco's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass with Dr. Magpie. He has received numerous honors, such as the ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Award, National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts in Jazz Guitar, and the coveted 2007 Grammy Jazz Ensemble.

Concetta Donato (tango-influenced jazz and blues) was an accomplished pianist and composer before coming to Berklee on scholarship. Donato graduated from the conservatory in Reggio Calabria, Italy, where she studied classical music and composition. In 2007, she released her first albums of original compositions, which was well reviewed in JazzIt, Musica Jazz, and Jazz Magazine. At Berklee, she has served as a student ambassador at scholarship auditions and interviews in Rome, and as accompanist for Berklee Summer School at Umbria Jazz Clinics. She is also a member of the Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra.

Zac Zinger Group (progressive jazz) is led by Zac Zinger, a native of Pittsburgh. Zinger picked up saxophone at 9 and has received a number of awards, including the Herb Pomeroy Award twice and the Pittsburgh Jazz Society Award for Musical Excellence. He has performed his works around the world with ensembles ranging from quartets to a 90-piece orchestra. The Zac Zinger Group is a quartet of musicians with a passion for exploring new music in ways that challenge both the musicians and the listener. Formed in 2007, the group also appeared on JRR's 2009 release, Dedication. Zinger also writes music for film and video games.

Additional Artists Appearing on the CD

Eran Fink (progressive jazz) started keyboard lessons at 6. At 10, he began drum lessons and soon realized he had found his true passion. While attending the prestigious Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts in Israel, he had the opportunity to tour in the United States with the Thelma Yellin Big Band. After his army service, he started working and gigging professionally before studying at the Rimon School, where he was awarded the school's Jazz Musician of the Year prize. Fink began studying at Berklee on scholarship in 2009, and is currently in his final semester.

Albino Mbie (Afro-pop and soul), a guitarist from Mozambique, studied at the University Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo. He performed at concerts and festivals all over southern Africa before auditioning for Berklee in South Africa and earning a scholarship through the Africa Scholars Program. Mbie is also a member of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute. "I am lucky to be an African jazz musician, so my responsibility to affect my community is perhaps greater than others," says Mbie. "I'm privileged to expand on the rhythms from the oral traditions of my country, and weave them with the harmony and writing skills that are strong at Berklee."

Leonardo Radicchi (jazz/hip-hop), a saxophonist, arranger and composer from Perugia, Italy, started studying music at 11, and plays different genres including classical, reggae, blues, funk, and folk. Radicchi attended Berklee clinics at the Umbria Jazz Festival and studied with Dino Govoni and Greg Hopkins, after which he became more involved in local music, playing with Perujazz Big Band and performing at festivals. Radicchi graduated from the University of Perugia with a degree in international relations but then decided to pursue music full-time. At Berklee, he has founded his own band with some of the college's best students.

Hagai Perets (experimental jazz) began taking guitar lessons at 12 at the Kiryat Ata Conservatory in his hometown of Haifa, Israel. He joined the Haifa Representative Jazz Ensemble after completing three years of army service. An accomplished musician, Perets has led several ensembles with his original music. In addition to performance, he has taught guitar at conservatories in Israel. Perets is a performance major attending Berklee on scholarship, where he studies privately with faculty members Mick Goodrick, Tim Miller, Curt Shumate, Bob Harrigan, and Randy Roos.

Pasquale Strizzi (classic jazz ballad), a native of Palo del Colle, Italy, is a composer, arranger for big band, jingle writer, and performer. He started studying piano at 4, and later attended the conservatory Niccolò Piccinni, in Bari, Italy. In 2005, he attended Berklee's clinics in Perugia, where he was awarded a Berklee scholarship. Since coming to Berklee, he has shared the stage with artists like Danilo Pérez, Greg Osby, Jetro Da Silva, and Meshell Ndegeocello. Strizzi works as an accompanist in the vocal department for genres including pop, R&B, soul, Latin, rock, jazz, funk, and hip-hop, making him a more versatile musician.