Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag
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Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag: Live at 800 East

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Liner Notes: Live at 800 East

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According to that essential guide to contemporary American life UrbanDictionary.com, humblebrag means "subtly letting others now about how fantastic your life is while undercutting it with a bit of self-effacing humor." While Michael Feinberg's new Humblebrag album Live at 800 East is rife with subtle interplay and half-hidden sources of inspiration, there's nothing self-effacing about the bassist/composer's music. Slated for April release on BeHip Records®, the album features a stellar cast of young musicians powered by veteran drum master Terreon Gulley.

A rapidly rising force on the New York scene who also leads The Elvin Jones Project, Feinberg rechristened his band Humblebrag for the new album because the eponymous track that closes the album marked a new phase of his musical development. He's deadly serious about the music, but isn't particularly interested in making any grand statement about the state of the art form. Recorded live in-studio in Atlanta, Georgia, Feinberg's follow up to 2011's critically hailed debut With Many Hands captures the searing energy and unbridled imagination of smart young musicians deep in conversation with each other. "Naming tunes and bands, people want to sound so cool and edgy and mysterious," Feinberg says. "But it's just one little voice in the world."

Humblebrag's voice is wide-ranging, perpetually curious and not averse to funk and fusion. Writing the title track, Feinberg was thinking about his experiences playing with Re-Animation, trumpeter Tim Hagans' riff on the early electric music of Miles Davis. Built on a hypnotic five-note motif, the piece features dramatic orchestration, and the roiling but dynamically sensitive trap work by [Terreon] Gully, best known for his work with Christian McBride's funk-inflected electro-acoustic band. "Rock has always been a big part of my life," Feinberg says, "and this is my contemporary version of that."

If there's any chest-pounding going on in Humblebrag it's over the superlative quality of Feinberg's collaborators. Aside from Gully, a well-traveled player who came up two jazz-generations earlier, the band features some of the brightest young players on the New York scene, including pianist Julian Shore, Haitian-American alto saxophonist Godwin Louis, and trumpeter Billy Buss (who recently released a very impressive debut album Scenes From A Dream featuring Feinberg and Godwin Louis). Jacob Deaton, an excellent Atlanta guitarist, contributes on one track.

"These guys are my friends and they make it a comfortable environment," Feinberg says. "Each one is a talented composer, and knows how to interpret my music. Billy and Godwin spent two years playing together every day at the Monk Institute, and on top of their virtuosic musicianship they're an amazing team. Along with Julian they're the next generation of guys coming up."

The album opens with the rousing, hip hop-tinged "Tutuola", a name that should sound familiar to anyone who's watched Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Noting that young players with a lot of down time often end up binging on Law & Order marathons, Feinberg wrote an episodic theme that slyly alludes to Ice T's earlier career. "I came up with the rhythmic part of it, and the melody was definitely influenced by listening to Busta Rhymes and getting into his flow," he says.

Feinberg evokes the hustle and flow of life on New York's streets with "Puncher's Chance", a piece that lightly wears its infatuation with Robert Glasper's experiments. And he gets down in the gutter with "Duckface", a joyful post-bop blues set to a celebratory New Orleans groove that coaxes some evangelical fervor from Buss and Louis. The album's centerpiece is the waxing/waning three-part suite "But the Sound", which opens slow and woozy and grows increasingly intense as it modulates between keys before a spare, beatific solo by Shore signals calm acceptance. Before exiting with the title track, Feinberg offers the ravishing ballad "Untitled 2", a piece that touches on the radical simplicity of bassist/composer Ben Allison's music from the turn of the century. "It's a pretty piece, not a side of myself that usually comes out," Feinberg says. "Ben Allison was definitely a formative influence. I'm trying to take stuff I hear and present it in ways I haven't heard."

Born and raised in Atlanta, Feinberg earned his BM in Jazz Performance at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music, and graduated from New York University with a master's degree in 2013. While he's enmeshed with his contemporaries, he credits several authoritative veterans with playing a formative role in his development, including pianist Jean-Michel Pilc, guitarist John Scofield, drummer Billy Drummond, and particularly tenor saxophonist George Garzone. A generous mentor to several generations of improvisers, Garzone inculcated a sense of commitment in every note that Feinberg plays."He really taught me a lot about confidence and having an attitude," Feinberg says. "He's a no-holds barred player, and he's so deep when it comes to rhythm and sound. We played duo in his apartment and it forced me to become a better player."

In many ways, Feinberg's musical concept hinges on his immersion in the music of Elvin Jones, the universally hailed rhythmic innovator whose post-Coltrane work as a bandleader is still too little known. When a friend in college hipped him to Earth Jones, a classic but long out-of-print quintet 1982 session on Palo Alto, it started him on a journey that led to The Elvin Jones Project, Feinberg's powerhouse 2012 album on Sunnyside with Garzone, drum legend Billy Hart, trumpeter Tim Hagans, and pianist Leo Genovese. "I knew Elvin's work with Coltrane and Larry Young's Unity, and Wayne Shorter's Blue Note albums, but not much beyond that," Feinberg recalls. "I started digging and digging, and became pretty obsessed with him. He was such an amazing musician and as celebrated as he is I don't think a lot of people recognize how progressive he was. And Elvin connects all of favorite bassists: Gene Perla, Dave Holland, George Mraz, Jimmy Garrison. George Garzone really helped me put it all together."

When it comes to a group concept, he's also drawn inspiration from Pilc, the French-born pianist who has developed a volatile trio that plays his episodic originals and radically reconstructed standards. "I studied with Hal Crook, and he said that being in a band should be like a team full of captains. Jean-Michel's trio works that way, and that's how I want my group to work. We all have defined roles but it's in flux and they can change at any time."

Feinberg made a memorable debut as a leader with 2011's With Many Hands, a project that gathered some of his generation's most formidable players, including Humblebrag's Shore and Louis, tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger, and versatile drummer Daniel Platzman (who recently won a Grammy Award with the Las Vegas rock band Imagine Dragons). As a composer and bandleader, he continues to cast a wide net, drawing on his disparate array of experiences and deep pool of exceptional talent. Primarily identified as a jazz musician, Feinberg is often sought out by singer/songwriters and rock combos. His music, passionate, emotionally engaged and unafraid to sound raw or polished, effectively reflects the confluence of sounds and ideas running through New York these days, and that's no humblebrag.

Hailed as a "musical prodigy turned evil genius" (spinner.com) bassist and composer Michael Feinberg has quickly become one of New York's most in demand sidemen and band leaders. Feinberg's Humblebrag (previously the MF5) has headlined clubs and festivals all over the world including the Blue Note, Kennedy Center, SXSW, AJMF, Blue Whale, and Churchill Gorunds. Humblebrag was formed during a year and a half "residency" at the 55 Bar in NYC's west village where Feinberg brought a rotating crew of young musicians to the club every month to workshop new music and form the concept for what Humblebrag would become. As a a bassist Feinberg has been hailed as someone to "keep an eye on". He has the flexibility, energy, love of the music and intensity necessary to make a difference NOW!!!" by the legendary John Pattitucci and as a composer he has won a student downbeat award and was a three time semi finalist in the International Songwriting Competition.

Trumpeter Billy Buss has established himslef as one of the leading young trumpeters in the world. A graduate of the Thelonious Monk Institute, Buss has performed alongside Billy Hart, Deltron 3030, and Herbie Hancock to name a few. He was recently selected to the 2013 Faces of New Trumpet Festival and his debut album featuring HB saxoponist Godwin Louis (and HB crew member Dayna Stephens) will be out in 2014.

Saxophonist Godwin Louis was recently a finalist in the Thelonious Monk Competition. A graduate of the Monk Insitute, Louis has toured all over the world with some of the top jazz musicins including Herbie Hancock, John Scofield, and Ralph Peterson Jr. Godwin was recently selected by Wynton Marsallis to join the JALC orchestra for their run of After Midnight on broadway featuring Fantasia, Maria Carey, Toni Braxton, Aretha Franklin, and more.

Pianist Julian Shore, a noted bandleader and composer in his own right, has been heraled as "a pianist with a sense of space usually reserved for more veteran players" (Downbeat). Shore's recent release "Filaments" showcases his deft comper's hand as well as his unique virtuosity (especially when heard alongside guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel). As a sideman Shore has worked with Gretchen Parlato, Myron Waldon, and Gilad Hekselman, among many others.

Drummer Terreon "Tank" Gully came up with Feinberg's first employer trumpeter Russell Gunn and has been a fixture on the jazz scene ever since. Over the past 20 years Terreon has worked with hundreds of artists, most notably Christian McBride, Diane Reeves, Stefon Harris, and the Geoffrey Keezer/Joe Locke group.

 

Photos: Live at 800 East

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News & Reviews: Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag: Live at 800 East

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MICHAEL FEINBERG'S HUMBLEBRAG/Live at 800 East: If a jazzbo can show enough of a sense of humor that he can fess up to being hooked on "Law & Order" marathons, he's got our attention. An amalgam of well traveled jazzbos that are making their marks makes up this crew and they deliver some solid, envelop pushing sounds inspired by but not aping Miles. A bunch of pals form Atlanta that have found their ways into crews honoring Elvin Jones, Monk and all the rest of the hitters that made modern jazz modern jazz, this is high tone, sitting down jazz that blows your ears and your mind wide open. Killer stuff for those ready to saddle up for a wild ride.

       -- Chris Spector (Midwest Record)

Bassist Michael Feinberg’s last recording was The Elvin Jones Project; here he showcases six of his own often knotty and complex originals. What carries over from the earlier project is an intense kinetic energy, amplified here by the explosive, smack and crackle drumming of Terreon Gully, the senior member of this young quintet. Feinberg follows in the tradition of bassist-leaders like Charles Mingus and Dave Holland, creating demanding challenges for his sidemen. Humblebrag features a frontline of Godwin Louis (alto sax), Billy Buss (trumpet) and Julian Shore (piano), Feinberg dividing his time equally between acoustic bass and electric bass guitar. The music is definitely postbop, boasting influences of hip-hop and jazz fusion as well as more than a dollop of Mingus strategies.

This live-in-studio recording begins with "Tutuola", a reference not to the late Nigerian fabulist Amos Tutuola, but to the rapper Ice-T, who plays detective Fin Tutuola on TV’s Law and Order: SVU, the theme alluding to Ice-T’s early rap career in the rhythms. The stuttering theme gives way to a splashy solo from Buss, whose brash playing throughout pushes the instrument’s limits with daredevil abandon. He and Louis engage in a heated exchange, encroaching excitingly on each other’s space, on "Puncher’s Chance", a piece with a hip-hop ostinato electric bassline and the shifting times and burgeoning intensity of a Mingus piece.

Electric bass also propels a funky backbeat shuffle on "Duckface", an update of New Orleans blues, and the title tune, a nod to early electric Miles Davis with a fast fusion line over a jazz-rock beat, gritty staccato bounce from Louis and slithery perfervid wails from Buss, plus an eye-of-the-storm piano turn from Shore. Spooky sounds clash with bop lines and changing rhythms, suspended time and extreme dynamics on the overly ambitious suite "But the Sound…". Jacob Deaton’s guitar is added on the largely throughcomposed and engagingly developed, contrapuntal ballad "Untitled 2". For more information, visit behiprecords.com.

This project is at Blue Note May 11th. See Calendar.

       -- George Kanzler (The New York City Jazz Record)
 
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Album Info

"Live at 800 East"

Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag

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  • Michael Feinberg's Humblebrag
    "Live at 800 East"

    LP street date: 03/07/14
    UPC: 029882192931
  • A BeHip™ Records Production

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