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April 19 2019

Vibraphonist Joel Ross has revealed “Yana,” another new track from his auspicious debut album KingMaker, which comes out May 3. Hear “Yana” on our Jazz Now! playlist. Ross will be celebrating the album’s release at Jazz Standard in New York City on June 4-5 and Pizza Express in London on July 10-11. This Spring and Summer he’ll also be appearing at festivals in the U.S. (Atlanta & Newport) and Europe (North Sea & Umbria), in addition to upcoming tour stops in Brooklyn, Washington DC, and Boston. See below for a full list of tour dates.

“Ask any clubgoing New Yorker to name the most exciting young jazz musician on the scene, and chances are good that he or she will mention Joel Ross,” wrote WBGO’s Nate Chinen. “A smart, self-possessed vibraphonist who practically sends high voltage through his mallets, Ross has been turning heads at late-night sessions for the last several years... KingMaker consolidates a lot of what he has been up to as a composer-bandleader in the postmillennial jazz mainstream. Featuring a dozen sleek originals, all but one of them composed by Ross, it’s a vibrant statement of intent that also showcases a powerful working band: Good Vibes, which features Ross alongside Immanuel Wilkins on alto saxophone, Jeremy Corren on piano, Benjamin Tiberio on bass and Jeremy Dutton on drums.”

If 2018 was the year the Chicago-born, Brooklyn-based vibraphonist and composer kept turning up on acclaimed album after acclaimed album (Makaya McCraven Universal Beings, Walter Smith III & Matthew Stevens In Common, James Francies Flight, Marquis Hill Modern Flows, Vol. 2), then 2019 is his year to be the star as he joins the Blue Note Records roster and adds his name to an illustrious jazz vibraphone legacy on the legendary label that extends from Milt Jackson to Bobby Hutcherson to Stefon Harris and now Ross.

KingMaker is an album that meets clear technical might with a whole lot of youthful energy and bright emotion. It’s a lithe and melodic trip through a wild array of inspirations: the uncanny interplay of Miles and Wayne, the cooling touch of Bags, the harmonic acuity of Harris, the rhythmic heat of Steve Coleman, and the genius album-building of Ambrose Akinmusire. And at the heart of it all is the wisdom passed down personally to Ross from Hutcherson: “Write music about your life and write every day.”

“I took Bobby's words literally,” says Ross, who visited the master in his home while studying in California. “Every song is influenced by people or events, relationships I had, or even a question someone posed.” From the cover photo to the music within, the album finds him exploring the formative stuff that made him the man he is, first and foremost, family. The centerpiece and title track is dedicated to his mother, while other compositions pay homage to Ross’ twin brother, father, and niece.


The track listing for KingMaker is as follows:

1. Touched By An Angel

2. Prince Lynn's Twin

3. The Grand Struggle Against Fear

4. Ill Relations

5. Is It Love That Inspires You?

6. Interlude

7. KingMaker

8. Freda's Disposition feat. Gretchen Parlato

9. With Whom Do You Learn Trust?

10. Grey

11. Yana

12. It's Already Too Late



May 22 – Roulette – Brooklyn, NY

May 25 – Atlanta Jazz Festival – Atlanta, GA

May 28 – Blues Alley – Washington DC

June 4 – Jazz Standard – New York, NY

June 5 – Jazz Standard – New York, NY

June 6 – Scullers Jazz – Boston, MA

July 10 – Pizza Express – London, UK

July 11 – Pizza Express – London, UK

July 14 – North Sea Jazz Festival – Rotterdam, Netherlands

July 17 – Umbria Jazz Festival – Umbria, Italy

July 19 – Plaza de Europa – Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands

July 20 – Plaza de Santa Ana – Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

August 3 – Newport Jazz Festival – Newport, RI