March 2021 Edition of What’s NEW!!

My new series What’s NEW!! in association with Cadence Jazz World and Cadence Magazine spotlights new music that is cutting edge and creatively impactful by emerging musical artists and/or established musical artists who have recently released CDs, digital recordings or soon to be released recordings of original music, new music, and music that  reflects elements from a variety of musical sources/genres in addition to Jazz.

This month featured the music of Kuba Cichocki and his latest release with Brandon Seabrook entitled Brisk Distortions as well as a couple tracks from an earlier release Live at Spectrum with his group that includes: Kuba Cichocki – piano, Patrick Breiner – tenor saxophone, Sean Ali – bass, and, Flin van Hemmen – drums. This is my second edition of What’s NEW!! and I’m very energized to present it.

The first show was dedicated to the music of a young extraordinarily creative versatile guitarist, singer/songwriter by the name of Daniel Weiss who I will be writing about next. Daniel’s musical voice is what inspired this new series for the Nora’s Jazz Show podcast.

I am including my review of Kuba Cichocki’s Brisk Distortion Please take a moment to also check out the podcast below, and feel free to reach out to me at:, I’d love to hear from you.

By:  Nora McCarthy for Cadence Magazine, What’s NEW!! March3, 2021

The newly formed collaboration of pianist, composer, Kuba Cichocki and guitarist Brandon Seabrook, has produced an extraordinarily inventive CD. Their highly intuitive improvisational approach functions as one mind with two divergent sides that are at once seamlessly independent of the other often moving in opposite directions as well as simultaneously interdependently moving together toward the same muse in absolute synergy.

Their new release, Brisk Distortions, is a multi-sensorial experience. Observing the work from an aural and visual perspective initially, as they both are immediately and strongly present in this twenty-one track CD, I became aware of other elements that were arising out of the compositional improvisations that made it as much abstract performance art as musical art.

“Scribbles,” the first track on the CD, jumps right into the action pulling the listener in as it goes down a discovery hole into an unexpected journey that begins to unfold in a most magical way dissolving boundaries and expanding throughout, punctuated by conceptual pools in the form of short-often-under-a-minute interludes or rests that outline shapes, add textures and colors to the overall design and also provide a respite from the larger more developed improvisations. These connecting pivotal changes in the landscape take their direction from titles such as “Bounce,” “Bubbles,” “Cosmic,” “Leftovers,” “Naptime” and “Holes.” This is a journey you must take to the end in order to fully appreciate the profound artistic weight of this CD.

The sensation of flesh against strings is palpable, you can feel the sound of metal popping, slapping, and twanging against wood. The clarity of expression is as present as a spider’s intricate spinning and tethering of its web into silken perfection. The deliberate warping, twisting, and contorting of tones into a conversation between two instruments capable of transmitting thoughts through the language of sound is undiluted imagination at work.

Cichocki and Seabrook both provocatively alter the acoustics of their individual sounds and develop them into architectonic structures—from distortion to crystalline, delicate to intense, flat to sharp, dense to featherlight, intermingled with pianistic runs, jazz patterns, (I heard shades of Monk as well as reminiscences of Satie in Cichocki’s renderings,) a splash of vintage rock recollections, percussive thumps, avant-jazz comping, trills, electronic buzzing, all derived from the pure virtuosity and ingenuity of these two sound artists whose passionate improvisations paint a metaphysical mural rife with symbolic and allegorical meaning. The CD resolves into a dreamlike state, having reached its destination arriving at a place of serene tranquility as it floats away leaving the listener in blissful peace on the last track “Breathe Out.”

Highlights include:  “Scribbles,” “Solid,” “Rays,” “Spots,” “Chainsawing ” and “Breathe Out”

5*****Fine modern musical art at its best.

Nora McCarthy People of Peace Quintet New CD blesSINGS


A Stunning New CD by Vocal Artist Nora McCarthy People of Peace Quintet

“Your lessons are your blessings” says jazz vocal artist and composer Nora McCarthy of her soon-to-be-released CD, blesSINGS. “It has been my blessing in life to sing. There is nothing more sacred to me than the sound of the human voice connecting soul to soul from the heart through singing.”

Jazz Insisde Cover Nora 001



RedZen Records 2016

Personnel:  Nora McCarthy-voice/compositions/lyrics, Jorge Sylvester-alto saxophone/compositions, Pablo Vergara-piano, Donald Nicks-electric bass, Kenny Grohowski-drums

Tracks:  Love Poem For The People; Akara Moi Moi; Nimbus; Into The Middle Of Something; Restless Mind; The Blessing; Passion Dance; Listen Close To What The Trees Are Saying; Night On Earth; Nowhere Ever After

Produced by Nora McCarthy and recorded at Tedesco Studio in Paramus, New Jersey on August 26 & 27th, 2015, blesSINGS is a modern post bop jazz record that combines several elements to make its powerfully beautiful statement: original compositions and lyrics; various applications of vocal and musical language, inventive improvisation and imaginative arrangements.

McCarthy states: “blesSINGS, addresses the overwhelming need for compassion, environmental awareness and understanding in our world today; it is first and foremost a love story that urges us to love one another and ourselves, to be the best we can be, to open our minds and hearts and acknowledge our blessings. It is about peace through harmony, liberation through creative expression, paying homage to the subtle energies that influence creativity, and ultimately give birth to hope and renewal.”

The artistry on blesSINGS is stunning; the musicianship throughout is exquisite and the overall sound is reminiscent of the great creative jazz recordings of the ‘60s and ‘70s where the artists used their music as a conduit for spirituality and as a reaction to turbulent events that were taking place in the country, much like today: war, racism, civil unrest, terrorism, mass killings.

McCarthy felt compelled to put out a CD with a positive message—something to feel good about in a world where bad news prevails and can be so discouraging. In looking over her many compositions, Nora made a discovery. There assembled before her eyes was the music that would be that tap root she sought to provide peace and optimism to the world. The golden thread that wove them all together so perfectly was the word “blessing” as they all contained within their bars and measures, their form and structure, a blessing, and so, blesSINGS came into being.

Several of the compositions and the opening poetry on blesSINGS was written in the ‘80s by giants in the field of creative music—in particular, Butch Morris—who McCarthy would, decades later, come to know and work with in the Chorus of Poets. Her own compositions and those of Jorge Sylvester’s span several decades from the late ‘80s to present day and are in effect a continuation of the movement that began in the 60’s. As creative artists first and foremost, McCarthy and Sylvester have been dedicated for well over 16 years, to using their voices, vis-a-vis, their many projects together, to bring awareness to important social, political, environmental, economic and spiritual issues and to expand the consciousness of humanity through global unity.

Upon first hearing McCarthy recite her poetry for the composition “Today In America” with the ConceptualMotion Orchestra at the Baha’i Center in 2013, master musician, avant-garde jazz artist, humanist/activist, Will Connell (worked with Horace Tapscott) said to her, “I haven’t heard protest poetry this good since the ‘70s!”

Beginning with the gift “Love Poem For the People” written on Christmas Day, 1982 by Poet James Randolph Daniels – Akinwale Pitan-Ogun Adisa, Nora builds her composition around Daniels’ prayer like verses simulating the opening of the heart like the petals of the lotus flower, each phrase unfolding into the other intensifying the power of love in a rising cadence at the end. Tibetan bells and gongs throughout bring a feeling of peace. “Nowhere Ever After” written by Conductor Butch Morris in the early ‘80s is the last track on the album and the final transition we all will make. Nora’s lyrics are a tribute to her friend, whom she worked with both as a member of the Chorus of Poets from 2005-2010 and as assistant to Mr. Morris by helping him organize the Chorus. McCarthy ingeniously reconfigured several clips of excerpts she selected into an intro and outro from a performance of “Conduction No. 172 – Where Is Peace” at the Living Theatre in NYC in 2007. This song describes Morris from inside the Chorus’ perspective he conducted as well as from the audience’s perspective – the outside and provides a total look into that magical experience. It ends as if Morris is right there and the poets are speaking to him leading the listener to the comforting and optimistic conclusion that nothing is as we think it is and nothing really ever ends but continues on. A very imaginative arrangement by McCarthy makes for an unforgettable overall creative CD.

“Passion Dance,” with McCarthy’s horn-like scat, motivational lyrics, Sylvester’s inventive riveting saxophone solo, funky ‘Nawlins’ bass lines supplied by Donald Nicks and Grohowski’s impeccable drum work brings a heightened sense of passion to this familiar treasured Tyner masterpiece; “Restless Mind,” a McCarthy original written in 1987 features a glorious solo by Chilean pianist Pablo Vergara carries a powerful message about self-love; “The Blessing” – an Ornette Colelman classic heretofore recorded only by instrumentalists, McCarthy’s well designed lyrics and her fresh arrangement which interjects an unexpected refreshing vocal interlude—a departure from the traditional treatment—is performed to perfection and with pizzazz; “Night On Earth,” by pianist Lucian Ban has a floating spatial effect with open re-harmonized voicings by pianist Vergara—a beauty that features Nora’s intense vocal emotional capacity and demonstrates her strong lyrical ability; Sylvester’s “Akara Moi Moi” with lyrics by McCarthy turns this minor blues named after a traditional African breakfast dish into a spiritual manifesto; and “Nimbus” with its free vocal conceptual poetic intro and lyrics by McCarthy is an abstract ballad with an angular melodic line that redefines the definition of its title by drawing a correlation to the process of improvisation; “Into the Middle of Something,” is McCarthy’s rendition in six of the fool’s journey through life based on the real life escapades of somebody she once knew – a story we can all relate to; and, “Listen Close To What The Trees Are Saying,” opens with delicate brush work by drummer Grohowski playing against the sound of leaves dancing in the breeze and is a song McCarthy wrote to bring awareness to the loss of our forests and the destruction of trees across the globe due to deforestation, urban development, the logging and paper industry, and humanity.

“McCarthy draws on both the spirituality of post-bop instrumentalists and the spirituality of post-bop vocal jazz. She gets in plenty of memorable scatting on blesSINGS, and emotionally, she expresses herself in different ways on this album: as a performer and writer of lyrics, as a composer, as an arranger, and as a scat singer.  McCarthy wears a variety of hats on blesSINGS and wears all of them well.”  Alex Henderson

McCarthy’s highly expressive seasoned burnished alto voice soars on every track. Her broad range is full of lovely textures and nuances and her use of dynamics which is basically a lost art among singers today, is wrought with emotion. Her trademark phrasing and innate sense of rhythm demonstrates not only her expert ability to convey a story but her overall understanding of melodic and harmonic structure—she is a masterful musician. McCarthy uses her complete voice, as an instrument and as an interpreter of the word.

blesSINGS features: The People of Peace Quintet –  Nora McCarthy-voice; Jorge Sylvester-alto saxophone; Pablo Vergara-piano; Donald Nicks-electric bass; and, Kenny Grohowski and is dedicated to: Alto Saxophonist/Composer-Arranger/Conductor Jorge Sylvester, Poet James Randolph Daniels – Akinwale Pitan-Ogun Adisa, Conductor Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris, the Creative Jazz Musician, and to People of Peace everywhere.

To learn more about the music of Nora McCarthy, please visit her websites:

Agents For Creative Music – Performance/Workshops/Collaborations

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