New Music Monday: Karl Denson, Benny Sings, Ran Blake and More

Looking for some Monday motivation? We’ve got you covered. From a track speaking to a message of fellowship to a track inspired by an astronomical event, here are five new songs that you can listen to right now to start your week the right way.

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, “I’m Your Biggest Fan”

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe has announced its new studio album, Gnomes & Badgers, will be released March 8 via Seven Spheres Records. This 11-track effort is inspired by the current political discourse and speaks to a larger message of fellowship across generations, genders, religions and cultures by merging funk, soul, rock, jazz, blues and more. “I’m Your Biggest Fan,” the first single from the album, shows the contagious energy and spirit of Gnomes & Badgers. Saxophonist-composer Karl Denson says: “Somebody needs to say something, and hopefully I can say it in a way that will make people reconsider how they think about things.”

Darrell Katz, “To an Angel”

In case you missed it, composer Darrell Katz released Rats Live on No Evil Star on October 12 via JCA Recordings – and it is one of his richest albums in a career spanning more than 30 years. Here, he enlists his JCA Orchestra and vocalist Rebecca Shrimpton to perform new works that seek an active interaction with the listener by blending the power and poetry of words with the emotional immediacy of the music. “I really want the listener to pay attention to the words, and I want the music to help them,” Katz says. “But it’s hard to describe, a lot of it is intuitive. A lot of meaning and feeling is rather abstract, but it’s what I’m looking to match.” The blues-flavored and witty “To an Angel” perfectly illustrates this approach.

Nick Sanders Trio, “Live Normal”

Pianist-composer Nick Sanders looks to the future with a unique combination of imaginative complexity and dark humor on Playtime 2050, the third release by his inventive trio, featuring bassist and drummer Connor Baker. Out March 15 via Sunnyside, the record consists entirely of originals, such as the sharp, jaunty angled album opener “Live Normal,” which bears traces of Thelonious Monk influences. “I explored a lot of new territory on this album,” Sanders says. “This is my contribution to the idea of pushing the music forward, which I think is extremely crucial in keeping the music alive and culturally important.”

Benny Sings, “Not Enough”

Dutch soul-pop vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Benny Sings shared the new video for his single “Not Enough.” This funky track with an ’80s feel was co-written with Mayer Hawthorne and was originally dropped last month as the first single from his upcoming album City Pop, out February 22 via Stones Throw. The video is directed by Bear Damen, a Dutch director known for a certain hypnotic quality on the visual surface of his films. “[He] is an awesome director, so I was really happy that he wanted to make this with me,” comments Sings. “I think we both look for the same qualities in music videos, parts that are both intuitive and playful, so it was a good match.”

Claire Ritter and Ran Blake, “Eclipse Orange”

Innovative third stream pianists Claire Ritter and Ran Blake first met in 1981, when Ritter arrived in Boston to study at the New England Conservatory, where Blake has taught for more than 50 years. Their relationship has evolved from mentorship to collaboration, as they celebrate Thelonious Monk’s 100th birthday on their first duo outing, Eclipse Orange, out February 15 via Zoning Recordings. The album captures a live performance at Queens University in Ritter’s (and Monk’s) native North Carolina. Ritter’s dramatic title track was originally composer following the solar eclipse of 2014, while this two-piano version was created in the wake of the summer 2017 eclipse.

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