LABYRINTH LOUNGE

In this day in age, with the immediate availability of cheap flights and ubiquity of the internet, it’s becoming more and more common to see musical groups form over long distances. Today The Big Takeover brings you the premiere of “Trouble Won’t Last” by Labyrinth Lounge, one band who is not letting a few thousand miles stand in the way of making and performing great music.

Labyrinth Lounge was conceived and launched in the late ’90s in New York and re-assembled in the Bay Area in 2016. Purveyors of soul and jazz with a vigorous spirit of social activism, they are currently comprised of Valerie Troutt (vocals), Ambessa “the Articulate” Cantave (rap vocals), Emanuel Ruffler (keyboards), John Ormond (bass), and Jaz Sawyer (drums).

This is the first single from their forthcoming debut album, called Porgy, to be released via New York’s Rufftone Records

““Trouble Won’t Last” is a funky soulful laid back approach to Trump’s America. It’s what our grandmothers said when life gave them lemons. It’s a reminder to keep pushing against all odds until you see the outcome you desire,” says vocalist Valerie Troutt.

Despite the fact that this is the group’s debut album under this name, the project has a long-running history, carried in the bass and drums of John Ormond and Jaz Sawyer, who are best known as the rhythm section for the late Abbey Lincoln, one of the most outspoken among the great jazz divas, a long-term messenger of black consciousness and political activism in the jazz world. Ormond and Sawyer now carry on this tradition within the framework of today’s sounds, including hip-hop, rock, neo-soul, and spoken word poetry. 

In the late 1990s, involvement with vocalist Valerie Troutt, Emanuel Ruffler on keyboards, and Ambessa “the Articulate” Cantave has resulted in a unique and hopeful fusion of genres, including jazz, R&B, soul and, experimental music, which they’ve touted throughout clubs and lounges in lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey.

The project revived in summer 2016 with the original line-up, but based in East Bay, where Valerie Troutt had since established herself as more than an artist, becoming a leader in the area’s famed creative community. After performing at Oakland’s Studio Grand the band members secluded themselves in California’s Bird and Egg Studio the following day, recording six new tracks.

“The inspiration was confronting problems, how to overcome them. I thought of a few dilemmas I was going through at the time and freestyled about the feelings I had,” explains Ambessa Cantave.

In autumn 2017, Labyrinth Lounge should bring a series of live performances to LA and the San Francisco Bay Area. The band’s full debut album is scheduled to release in early September via Rufftone Records, a fast-growing New York City label focused on producing genre-defying music. Their latest releases include the piano-drum duo Paintingand the debut album from Brooklyn jazz-core outfit A Tree Grows, featuring Tivon Pennicott, whose music we introduced you to earlier here

 

The single is set to drop on July 21 via all the regular online music stores and streaming platforms, but until then, keep your eye on this playlist, which will build as the label adds track after track.

SG from Marlbank

Tantalisingly brief, more an EP than a full album, feel the quality not the width, the New York-based Painting duo of German-born pianist Emanuel Ruffler and Seattle drummer Kassa Overall release their debut Gravity (Rufftone ****) later this summer.

Together as a playing entity for three years first performing together, according to their website “at a gig in a Brooklyn bike store,” the wheel turns in more senses than that convenient metaphor here.

Ruffler is the kind of player who certainly has appeal to Craig Taborn or Kris Davis fans and Overall plays very free, almost multi-directional at times but often more in a style familiar from Gerald Cleaver’s approach, cascading ever outwards.

As a duo a tipping point is quickly reached far beyond sheer musical vocabulary and relies on a no-safety-net sense of free expression.

The pieces are very brief, as short as just under two minutes on ‘Straight Emptiness / Like a Glass Inside of Glass’, the longest the opener and extravagantly titled ‘Gravity Pushes Me Down While Bubbles Rise to the Top.’

A poem in the artwork gives clues to their inspiration... an earthquake in Japan caused by the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear reactor, a trembling coastline, radioactive fallout... eventual serenity.

Theirs is a poetic hugely immersive highly intellectualised style, the power in their ideas contained within the exploitation of space, silence and freedom. SG