Photo | Renae Wootson

Photo | Renae Wootson

Day turns to night as Mark de Clive-Lowe’s Heritage II takes us from the meditative zen of Heritage into a world of jazz and Japanese roots culture fused with hip hop, drum’n’bass and broken-beat.

‘Heritage is a legacy we receive from our ancestors to pass on to future generations. It’s the thread that holds us together in lineage and cultural identity,’ posits jazz and electronic music pioneer Mark de Clive-Lowe. The half-Japanese half-New Zealander presents his new album Heritage II - the partner and second installment to his critically acclaimed album Heritage, a deeply personal exploration of his Japanese cultural and ancestral roots.  

“Heritage is what gives our relatively short lives context and meaning in the bigger picture of generations past and future. We are the new ancestors, and with that in mind, it’s important that we act - and contribute - accordingly. This is my identity search and journey to better understand where I’ve come from, what ancestry means to me and where I’m going to. ”

Heritage II opens with a meditative solo piano introduction, conjuring up the evocative folkloric sounds of the preceding part one album, which soon gives way to a J Dilla inspired interpretation of the traditional folk song “O-Edo Nihonbashi” - de Clive-Lowe programming beats, basslines while playing piano and keyboards live along with his band. Although the Heritage albums were recorded over three nights live at LA’s Blue Whale and one subsequent day in a North Hollywood studio, nothing you hear is overdubbed or the result of post-production “studio magic”. De Clive-Lowe’s live workflow often sees him labeled an “alien”, leaving audiences captivated by his seamless juggling of grand piano, synths, drum machines, samplers and more to create layer-upon-layer of musical stories in real time.

O-Edo Nihonbashi gives way to “Bushido II” (the way of the warrior) - recontextualizing the familiar theme from Heritage into a wildly experimental drum’n’bass ride, evoking images of great Japanese samurai warriors in full fighting mode. These opening two compositions set the scene for Heritage II - the flipside of the coin to Heritage - continuing the same story, but with new perspectives.

‘I came up loving jazz, hip hop, drum’n’bass, house, broken beat and so much more. I like to lean into these different inspirations at the same time, balancing the sonic aesthetics and stylistic approaches in unexpected ways. That’s a huge part of my own ‘in’ and ‘yo’ (yin and yang in Japanese) balance in my process and creativity. To be able to bring all of this together with musical stories of my ancestry, roots and identity is something that’s very special to me.’

De Clive-Lowe resumes his culture-rich journey throughout Heritage II, showcasing his breadth of skill as a producer, composer and instrumentalist. An artist who is as indebted to the jazz greats as much as hip hop, house and experimental music icons, de Clive-Lowe challenges us to leave our preconceptions at the door and follow him down the path on a journey of his own discovery. Like his peers Kamasi Washington, Makaya McCraven and Robert Glasper, de Clive-Lowe isn’t content to simply play the jazz lane and he purposefully reaches across a diverse palette of genres and influences to create something quite unlike anything else.

Heritage II captures the essence of childhood folk-tales (“Ryūgū-jō - The Dragon Palace - immortalized in the story of Urashima Taro), Buddhist myths ('‘Shitennō’ - The Four Heavenly Kings - exploring the idea of ancestral protectors and guardians) and ‘The Silk Road’ - a broken-beat riding composition born from de Clive-Lowe’s learning of the identical scales used in both Ethiopian and Japanese traditional music - ‘these musical building blocks, or DNA, of traditional melodies and harmonies in Ethiopia and Japan are literally identical. Not approximately, but exactly. Understanding this helped me conclude that a common musical language traveled the old world Silk Road as much as trade, commerce, customs and learned knowledge. This is inspired by that idea and imagining a whole new world which it all leads to.’

On Heritage II, de Clive-Lowe is joined by a cast of world-class musicians: Josh Johnson (Leon Bridges/Esperanza Spalding), Teodross Avery (Talib Kweli/Mos Def), Brandon Eugene Owens (Terrace Martin/Robert Glasper), Brandon Combs (Moses Sumney/Iman Omari), Carlos Niño (Build An Ark/Lifeforce Trio) and Tylana Enomoto (Kamasi Washington/Bonobo) - who all contribute stellar performances in support of de Clive-Lowe’s music.

These are not only my favorite musicians, but my friends, and that they were all able to be part of this project really means a lot to me. They’re all such incredible musicians, and no one brings any ego to the table - that’s one key thing that makes it possible to explore this music with a real sense of vulnerability and honesty.’

Heritage II is the partner album to Heritage. The album’s original artwork by Tokio Aoyama depicts Bon Odori - a summer festival dance under the night-time sky - surreally all happening inside de Clive-Lowe’s grand piano...

De Clive-Lowe celebrates the new album with a major launch show at the Aratani Theater, Little Tokyo, Los Angeles with his full band plus string quartet, dancers and live visuals:

April 20 - Heritage II | Album Launch Show | Aratani Theater, 244 San Pedro St, Los Angeles, CA 90012


Recent Press

“…he’s one of the few instrumentalists who can effortlessly combine piano jazz improvisation and electronic dance music.” - Simon Rentner / WBGO

"...a timely reminder that some of the greatest producers, in line with the likes of Quincy and Stepney, are also musicians with chops as well as smart adventurers in sound." - Echoes

“de Clive Lowe… finds multiple artistic voices with his new album, Heritage.” - Qwest TV


Heritage II

Release Date: April 5, 2019

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Mark de Clive-Lowe - piano, rhodes, synths, live electronics, programming
Josh Johnson - alto sax, flute
Teodross Avery - tenor sax (‘Bushidō II”, “Isan”, “The Silk Road” only)
Brandon Eugene Owens - bass
Carlos Niño - additional percussion
Brandon Combs – drums
Tylana Enomoto - violin (“Ryūgū-jō” only)

Produced by Mark de Clive-Lowe

All compositions by M. de Clive-Lowe (Mashibeats/Songs of Defend) except “O Edo-Nihonbashi” (trad., arr M. de Clive-Lowe), “Mirai no Rekishi” by M. de Clive-Lowe (Mashibeats/Songs of Defend) / B. E. Owens (Eugenepusher ASCAP)

Recorded live at The Blue Whale, Los Angeles June 22, 23, 24, 2018 and NRG Studios, Los Angeles July 10, 2018

Live Engineer: Maximillian Sink
Live Recording Engineer: Benjamin Tierney
Studio Recording Engineer: Daniel Pampuri
Mixed by Clinton McCreery of Toni Economides Music, London
Mastered by Neil Pickles at Reveal Sound, London

Original Artwork by Tokio Aoyama
Design and Layout by Jaime Robertson


Heritage

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Heritage is the idea of transmitting from the past to the future - knowing more about who we are and where we’re going by understanding where we come from. It’s about identity and one’s place in the world,” muses pianist and electronics wizard Mark de Clive-Lowe. For the half-Japanese half-New Zealander who calls Los Angeles home, his latest musical offering, Heritage, is a deeply personal exploration of his ancestry and cultural roots.

“I was raised bi-culturally and as time goes on, the more I appreciate how much I owe to my roots. Japan is my spiritual and ancestral home - the connection I feel there is so visceral and has shaped much of my life, largely without me even being fully aware of its influence. This music is me openly embracing and interpreting what Japan means, feels like and sounds like to me.

Leaning into the moods and textures of Japan’s folkloric mythology and culture in tandem with his already nuanced blend of jazz, live electronics and sampling, de Clive-Lowe takes us on a culture-rich journey through his own sonic imagination, seamlessly fusing genres and blurring the lines between technology and live musicianship.

De Clive-Lowe is somewhat of a musical chameleon - as comfortable on the grand piano in a jazz club as he is multi-tasking electronics and live beats for a dancefloor. Like his peers Kamasi Washington, Makaya McCraven and Robert Glasper, de Clive-Lowe isn’t content to simply play the jazz lane and he purposefully reaches across a broad palette of genres and influences to create something quite unlike anything else.

“I grew up on a mix of jazz, hip-hop and electronic music, so there’s always all these different sounds in my head. Some sounds can be expressed on conventional instruments, some need machines and I’ve developed a hybrid setup to facilitate all of that when I perform. Adding my own cultural story - allowing myself to reflect on and really show my ancestry and roots - feels like I’ve found the missing piece to my own identity and artistry.”

Heritage was recorded live at LA’s Blue Whale jazz club over three nights, as well as one day in a North Hollywood studio. Exactly where the live recording stops and the studio recording starts is all but impossible tell with de Clive-Lowe editing the material to purposely blur that line.

“The way I incorporate technology is always live - capturing and manipulating moments as they happen in real time - so this record was never about post-production, how you hear it on the album is how it happens live on stage.”

The music reflects his own experiences in Japan (“Memories of Nanzenji” recollecting his visit to the historic Kyoto temple and gardens), the samurai warrior code (“Bushidō” - “The Way of the Warrior”), childhood folk songs (“Akatombo” - an arrangement of a traditional melody as ubiquitous to Japanese people as Twinkle Twinkle is in the west) and more.

On Heritage, de Clive-Lowe is joined by a cast of world class musicians: Josh Johnson (Leon Bridges/Esperanza Spalding), Teodross Avery (Talib Kweli/Mos Def), Brandon Eugene Owens (Terrace Martin/Robert Glasper), Brandon Combs (Moses Sumney/Iman Omari) and Carlos Niño (Build An Ark/Lifeforce Trio) - who all contribute stellar performances in support of de Clive-Lowe’s music.

“These are not only my favorite musicians, but my friends, and that they were all able to be part of this project really means a lot to me. They’re all such incredible musicians, and no one brings any ego to the table - that’s one key thing that makes it possible to explore this music with a real sense of vulnerability and honesty.”

Heritage is the first in a two part project. Heritage II will be unveiled in April 2019. Original album artwork is by Japanese painter Tokio Aoyama.


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Credits

Mark de Clive-Lowe - piano, rhodes, synths, live electronics, programming
Josh Johnson - alto sax, flute
Teodross Avery - tenor sax
Brandon Eugene Owens - bass
Carlos Niño - additional percussion
Brandon Combs – drums

Produced by Mark de Clive-Lowe

All compositions by M. de Clive-Lowe (Mashibeats/Songs of Defend) except “Akatombo” (trad., arr M. de Clive-Lowe), “Asa no Yume” by M. de Clive-Lowe (Mashibeats/Songs of Defend) / B. E. Owens (Eugenepusher ASCAP) / J. Johnson (Sky and City Music BMI)

Recorded live at The Blue Whale, Los Angeles June 22, 23, 24, 2018 and NRG Studios, Los Angeles July 10, 2018

Live Engineer: Maximillian Sink
Live Recording Engineer: Benjamin Tierney
Studio Recording Engineer: Daniel Pampuri

Mixed by Clinton McCreery of Toni Economides Music, London
Mastered by Neil Pickles at Reveal Sound, London

Original Artwork by Tokio Aoyama
Design and Layout by Jaime Robertson

Bookings (UK+Europe): sam@diplomatsofsound.com
Bookings
(Elsewhere): delia@mashibeats.com

Heritage

Release Date: February 8, 2019

 

PRESS

"(the) avant-garde soulful pianist/DJ/producer delivers his lifetime of journeys to different musical ports in a concise package, seamlessly... transporting not just in genre but in emotion and spirit." - Huffington Post

"...a timely reminder that some of the greatest producers, in line with the likes of Quincy and Stepney, are also musicians with chops as well as smart adventurers in sound." - Echoes

” Incorporating a progressive sensibility honed as part of the UK's broken beat scene, de Clive-Lowe has produced an early candidate for jazz record of the year.” - Kevin Press / Exclaim!

We generously throw around terms like “unique” and “fresh” but there’s nothing quite like Mark de Clive-Lowe’s blend of acoustic and electronica with his Eastern influences. - Jim Hynes / Glide Magazine

“With the slow, misty grace of a requiem, “Memories of Nanzenji” finds the keyboardist and crossover-jazz guru Mark de Clive-Lowe reflecting on a visit to the historic temple and gardens in Kyoto, Japan.” - Giovanni Russonello / New York Times

“…he’s one of the few instrumentalists who can effortlessly combine piano jazz improvisation and electronic dance music.” - Simon Rentner / WBGO

“…rooted in modern electronics and an array of jazz forms.” - Erik Otis / XLR8R

“…he continues to serve as today’s preeminent bridge builder between jazz and its neighboring genres.” - Brian Zimmerman / JAZZIZ


LIVE AT THE BLUE WHALE

Mark de Clive-Lowe delivers an outstanding 4 track EP recorded live at Los Angeles’ Blue Whale jazz club. The EP finds MdCL revisiting the grand piano, putting his first instrument front and center with his technological world of keyboards and electronics. It’s his signature amalgamation of acoustic sound sparring with new technology, joined by a world-­class crew: Josh Johnson (Miguel Atwood-­Ferguson/Wayne Shorter) on sax and flute, Brandon Eugene Owens (Robert Glasper/Terrace Martin) on bass and Gene Coye (Thundercat/Flying Lotus) on drums.

The instrumental EP opens with an original composition, ‘Evergreen'. Solo piano sets the mood as the composition evolves into a head‐nodding, beat‐driven journey of improvisational conversation. As the music progresses, we hear MdCL programming beats and electronics live and on the spot – manipulating and sampling his own piano, keyboards and Johnson’s sax – creating a musical palimpsest inspired by hip hop’s sampling aesthetic. Only here, the samples are all organic - performed, captured and manipulated completely on the fly.

The following tracks pay homage to three of MdCL’s heroes – Yusef Lateef firstly on the loping ‘L+H' – inspired by Yusef’s ‘Love + Humor’ with Owens and Coye underpinning the groove while MdCL and Johnson play and become live samples themselves. Sun Ra gets honored the EP’s centrepiece – an 11 minute exploration of his composition ‘The Golden Lady' – once again, MdCL’s piano is the central focus here, leading the way through a mystically evocative soundscape that reimagines the great master. Johnson switches to flute here bringing his playfulness and musical guile to the mix with the piece culminating in an intoxicating blend of beats, live samples and acoustic band. We close out with an interlude of Ahmad Jamal’s ‘Swahililand' – most famously sampled for De La Soul’s ‘Stakes is High’ by iconic producer J Dilla.

It’s a real treat to hear MdCL and band in full‐flight live show mode with none of the safety nets of studio production. Live at the Blue Whale hints at what’s more to come from a truly individual musician.


lIVE AT THE BLUE WHALE