James Shipp's Nós Novo | Strange Sweethearts in America

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Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz Folk: Celtic Folk Moods: Type: Sonic
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Strange Sweethearts in America

by James Shipp's Nós Novo

New York jazz and folk musicians tackle Irish repertoire with Afro-Brazilian grooves and an explorative spirit.
Genre: Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Blacksmith
5:38 album only
2. Ponta de Areia / Bealach an Doirín
7:42 album only
3. As I Roved Out (feat. Kate McGarry)
5:01 album only
4. The Frost is All Over
3:52 album only
5. Fold
7:22 album only
6. I Mean You
5:08 album only
7. When She is Away
5:39 album only
8. South Australia (sea shanty)
3:31 album only
9. Bean Phaidon (Phaidon's Wife)
4:30 album only
10. Ag Taisteal na Blarnan (Travelling Through Blarney)
2:38 album only
11. In My Head
6:41 album only
12. Charlie's Buttermilk Mary (reel)
4:39 album only
13. May Morning Dew
5:38 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"Vibraphonist James Shipp's Nós Novo offers a worldly mix of sea shanties, Celtic reels and airs, Brazilian soul and jazz spirit, played via a mix of strings, percussion instruments and the soaring voice of singer Jo Lawry. More amazing than the boldness of the mix is the seamlessness with which it all comes together on the band's lovely new album, Strange Sweethearts in America." -- Time Out New York

"Mr. Shipp ... draws here from a striking new album, Strange Sweethearts in
America (Shippwrite), which advances a jazz-based take on traditional
Celtic music." -- Nate Chinen, The New York Times

“Nós Novo's 'Strange Sweethearts in America' is a refreshing blend of Irish, Brazilian music and jazz that really works wonderfully. The arrangements are unique, the playing and singing are superb, and the disc is filled with unbridled joy. A real treat all around.” -- pianist/composer Fred Hersch

Part of what makes jazz a truly American art form is its ability to absorb and celebrate the musics of other cultures that wash up on its shores. With their debut recording, vibraphonist/percussionist James Shipp and his band Nós Novo bring the songs and sounds of Ireland into the fold of New York’s jazz and creative music scene.

In his liner notes James says: “…my family has no Celtic ancestry to speak of. My love of Irish music began at age 12 when my father brought home a Chieftains CD. It grew tenfold in 2006, when an Irishman I barely knew gave me the unexpected gifts of a bodhran and an album by the legendary Irish band Planxty. That kind act inspired my exploration of Celtic musics, both in recordings and in dimly-lit pubs all over New York. This album is intended, above all else, to be a love letter to that music, and to the people who play it.”

From Planxty’s repertoire, the band tackles two classic folk ballads: “The Blacksmith” receives a percussive, middle-eastern treatment that expands upon Andy Irvine’s classic arrangement, and guest vocalist Kate McGarry delivers a heart-breaking reading of the famine-era “As I Roved Out.” On the wilder side, “The Frost is All Over” and “Bean Phaidon,” are re-imagined as playfully avant-garde, and the band makes a joyous Bahian street-parade of “South Australia.”

The two reels here also receive Brazilian settings: “Bealach an Doirin” pulses with a maracatú groove from Pernambuco, and São Paulo native Rogério Boccato lays down a dancing baião feel for “Charlie’s Buttermilk Mary.”
James learned both tunes from his favorite album by the Chieftains, “Boil the Breakfast Early,” from which the air “Ag Taisteal na Blarnan” also came.

Looking beyond the UK, Shipp and company bring their unique sound to Thelonious Monk’s music with an impressionistic, jig-based take on “I Mean You.” “Fold,” by singer-songwriter José González, takes on a tone that is both meditative and epic, aided by the presence of two pandeiros, a South-Indian drone box known as a shruti, a dangerously down-tuned guitar, and Lawry’s powerful vocal performance.


Born in Columbia, Maryland, James Shipp moved to New York to study music, and has resided there ever since. James’ career is full of musics that inhabit multiple worlds. His earliest work of note as a sideman was with Tito Puente veteran trumpeter Ray Vega, with whom he played vjbes in Caribbean jazz quartets and quintets from 2002-2005. In 2006 he recorded with Vega and operatic soprano Sharon Spinetti, playing music by Debussy, Lara, and Villa-Lobos arranged by James for jazz quartet.

In 2005 James began his musical relationship with Jo Lawry, the vocalist in Nós Novo. Her critically acclaimed 2008 release featured a number of his arrangements and compositions, along with his vibes, marimba, and percussion playing. 2008 also saw the release of Kate McGarry’s “If Less is More, Nothing is Everything” on Palmetto Records, which received a Grammy nomination for best album by a jazz vocalist. James lent his talents as both a percussionist and arranger to this album.

In addition to his work with vocalists, James has appeared on several instrumental albums in varying styles. Recent highlights include playing percussion on organist Dr. Lonnie Smith’s latest Palmetto Release, “Rise Up!,” and contributing both arrangements and pandeiro playing to afro-Cuban/Brazilian percussionist Steve Kroon’s album, “El Mas Alla.”

Outside of the studio, James has enjoyed recent performances under the direction of up-and-coming Trinidiadian jazz trumpeter Etienne Charles, New York Voices vocalist Peter Eldridge, and tabla master Ustad Zakir Hussain, with whom he performed at Carnegie Hall in April 2009.

Born on an almond farm in South Australia, vocalist Jo Lawry moved to New York as a Fulbright scholar in 2004. Since her arrival, she has played with a variety of artists including Jon Faddis, Donny McCaslin, Kate McGarry, and Peter Eldridge. In 2008 Jo joined legendary pianist Fred Hersch’s “Pocket Orchestra,” and recently performed on a number of concerts and a DVD with pop icon Sting. Jo’s folk music roots run deep; her Aunt Tina Lawton was recognized as one of Australia’s greatest folksingers in the late 1960s.

Guitarist Keith Ganz has been performing and recording in New York for the last _ years. His ability to sound at home in any style has led to collaborations with Kate McGarry, Luciana Souza, MOSS, and Harry Connick, Jr.

Drummer/percussionist Rogério Boccato has been a top-call New York drummer and percussionist since moving to the area four years ago. He has appeared in performances and on recordings with saxophonist Kenny Garrett, bassist John Pattitucci, legendary Brazilian guitarist and singer Toninho Horta, and the Orquestra Jazz Sinfonica of São Paulo.



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