Rising star Jazz saxophonist releases first single off new album
Lifestyle / Mon 26th Mar 2018 pm31 02:33pm
RAPIDLY rising saxophonist Mike Casey is proud to announce the release of the first track from his sophomore album, Stay Surprising: Live at The Side Door, entitled “West End”, inspired by his time living in the West End of Hartford, CT.
The first of seven, Stay Surprising will released track by track from April-Nov 2018 – with the only way for fans to hear the full album is by ordering a CD copy direct from the artist. Music videos for all seven songs on the album will be released in between the track premieres – which means Mike will be releasing new material every 2 weeks for 7 months – a staggering goal for a fully independent artist with no label or manager.
Casey and his longtime trio present a earthy, dynamic, surprising follow up to his 2017 debut, The Sound of Surprise: Live at The Side Door. Inspired by the neighborhood Casey lived in for nearly 4 years in Hartford, the West End has housed many of Hartford’s top talent over the years, and a big inspiration for Casey. In fact, the exact apartment Casey lived in was also hosted members of rising future soul band Broca’s area, Matt Dwonszyk (the bassist in his trio), and acclaimed harpist Brandee Younger – all at different times, of course. The composition was written in the summer of 2015, shortly after graduating from the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz, housed at The University of Hartford’s Hartt School.
Fresh off his recently released, critically acclaimed February 2017 debut, “The Sound of Surprise: Live at The Side Door”, Mike Casey has been taking the jazz world (and beyond) by storm, with notable mentions from icons Sonny Rollins & Quincy Jones Productions, features from JAY Z’s TIDAL, @NPRMusic/WBGO, Jazz in Europe (2x), Sofar Sounds NYC, Canada’s Jazz da Gama, Live for Live Music (album review / video premiere), plus digital & print features in nearly every major CT publication including The Hartford Courant, The Day, New Haven Register, and Connecticut Magazine. The Mike Casey Trio was just voted “Best Jazz Band” in the CTNow Readers Poll, Mike was named one of Connecticut Magazine’s 40 Under 40, was featured as the cover image for Spotify’s ‘State of Jazz’ playlist (sandwiched between cover features from icons like Brian Blade, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Chick Corea) and the album has surpassed 500,000 streams worldwide since its February 2017 release – no small feat for a fully independent instrumental jazz debut – recorded live, no less – without any label backing. Major coffee brand Peet’s Coffee has been featuring the album on their official Pandora station, broadcasting to 250 locations nationwide, and Mike’s September 2017 single Norwegian Wood (Live from Sofar Sounds NYC) already has surpassed 300,000 streams worldwide.
The album release tour was capped on a high note with Brooklyn’s BRIC Jazz Fest (one of NYC’s top jazz festivals) in October, on the bill with notable artists such as Maceo Parker (of James Brown fame), Sun Ra Arkestra, Miles Mosley & the West Coast Get Down (of Kamasi Washington fame), Vijay Iyer, Regina Carter, Butcher Brown and more.
The Hartford inspiration comes full circle, as Casey moved to the Philly area in September, with his trio mates leaving CT for New York City. All three have a fondness for the Hartford jazz scene which raised them. “The City of Hartford – along with peers and faculty at The Hartt School and Hartford Academy for the Arts – raised me and my band, musically,” says Casey.
Both The Sound of Surprise and Stay Surprising were recorded live the same fateful night at The Side Door Jazz Club in Old Lyme, CT in 2016. 14 first takes were the result, so Casey decided to split it into two albums. The Sound of Surprise leans a bit more towards Mike’s alto saxophone stylings and covers, while Stay Surprising leans more on his tenor toughness and original music – a natural development for Mike, who loves writing music but eschews the high brow term ‘composer’, calling himself a saxophonist & songwriter.
Since its opening in 2013, the Side Door has established itself as one of the premier jazz clubs in the world, having been recognized in Downbeat Magazine’s 2016 international list of top jazz clubs. The club features a steady performance roster of jazz greats and rising stars. With its pristine acoustics, knowledgeable staff and particularly attentive audience, the Side Door is especially conducive to creating. For Casey, choosing to record his debut at the Side Door was particularly apropos, considering the experience he has gained there sitting in with the likes of JD Allen, Nat Reeves, Justin Kauflin, and other world-class musicians.
While 2017 may have been Casey’s formal introduction with 2018 his followup, he has hard at work building his rep since he began attending the prestigious Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the Hartt School of Music (University of Hartford, CT ) in 2011. Shortly before graduating in 2015, Casey was one of 24 worldwide selected by Jason Moran to participate in the prestigious Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
He’s shared the stage with the likes of resume includes DJ Logic, Charles Tolliver, Brandee Younger, Benito Gonzalez, Zaccai Curtis, Tarus Mateen, Duane Eubanks, Nat Reeves and Marc Cary, whose project “The Harlem Sessions” features Casey as an original member. Through his apprenticeship with Cary, he’s performed on notable stages such as Lincoln Center, Marcus Samuelsson’s Ginny’s Supper Club, NYC SummerStage, and Cape May’s Exit Zero Jazz Festival. In fall 2016, he sold out his NYC debut as a leader at the legendary Minton’s jazz club in Harlem, and crowdfunded his debut The Sound of Surprise 124% funded using PledgeMusic.
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