Michael Leonhart and JSWISS prompt a “BLACKOUT” and provide the “light” on their new single

Accomplished rapper and hip hop artist, JSWISS joins Grammy – winning trumpeter, producer, arranger and composer, Michael Leonhart to deliver “BLACKOUT,” the stellar first single from their upcoming duo project dropping later this year.  On the track, JSWISS continues to establish his place amongst the game’s elite lyricists as he delivers an inspiring message and rallying cry amidst the current call for justice, change and “Black Lives Matter” as Leonhart provides a perfectly infectious, and lush musical canvas.  

Regarding the lyrical approach to “BLACKOUT” JSWISS explains,  “As a young Black man obviously the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, and the spotlight on police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement are heavIly on my mind. But I wanted to go beyond the grief and anger that takes a toll on us, and beyond saying our lives simply “matter”, and recognize that not only should we not be killed, but we should be celebrated, and celebrate ourselves.”  And what he asserts, which is the very essence of the track,  “Black people are valuable to this world and this country, and have been so despite efforts to hold us down.” From the musical side, Leonhart states, “We wanted to create a driving, orchestral hip hop track that would support the empowering and uplifting history lesson contained in JSWISS’s lyrics”

In 2019 JSWISS, who has worked with elite musicians such as Nicholas Payton, Ben Williams, Marcus Strickland, E.J. Strickland and Maurice “MoBetta” Brown, was brought on by Michael Leonhart as now, a recurrent guest with his acclaimed, 15 – piece jazz orchestra for its monthly residency at the Jazz Standard in NYC. Leonhart who’s eclectic resumé boast work with the likes of Steely Dan, Q-Tip, Wu-Tang Clan, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and on the Bruno Mars/Mark Ronson hit, “Uptown Funk,”  needed a quality rapper to perform on his arrangements of the legendary hip hop tracks, “Electric Relaxation” and “Untouchables.” JSWISS not only fit the bill and more, but the two instantly discovered a musical kinship and formed an immediate bond.  The two songs were so very well received especially by way of performances that appeared on NPR and renowned jazz station WBGO, that jazz label, Sunnyside Records formally released the live recordings of them earlier this year.  All of this ultimately signaled a duo project was on the horizon and “BLACKOUT” marks the debut.

“BLACKOUT” is indeed a well- accomplished, fitting anthem and necessary perspective to proclaim the calls for justice and real equality by the African – American community are not a plea, but a demand long earned. BC

Check out the short video promo for “BLACKOUT” that features legendary figures, established artists and impressive young newcomers.

Tomás Doncker is a mirror to the times we live

“An artist’s main job is to reflect his or her time. That’s the job. With any luck we can actually, per chance, illuminate, shine a light, strike a match, curse the darkness. Thats if we’re lucky . . .”

Those words came from Tomás Doncker just over three years ago during our interview with him upon the release of his riveting release, The Mess We Made. (Click here to view the interview) That project, quite without intention, was born from what was for him the literal life-numbing response to hearing about the atrocious killing of nine African-Americans inside a church located in Charleston, SC, murdered by white supremacist Dylan Roof.  

Doncker, a super busy, accomplished singer/songwriter/guitarist/producer and impresario of the successful label, True Groove Records, shut himself down to everything except his guitar and a means to capture his thoughts in response to that heinous act.  In doing so what emerged was the essence of what we asserted then was, “an incredibly impressive, provocative, no holds barred, scolding of our country and of our society, but not without a few suggestions of things we can do to get right.” 

Continue reading “Tomás Doncker is a mirror to the times we live”

Songtress Chandanie ponders societal gender mores on “Make We Whole”


What are the possibilities when we’re not confined by a little box called gender? What does that wholeness look like?” Maryland – born singer/songwriter Chandanie poses that question when talking about the inspiration for her new single, “Make We Whole,” which features long time collaborator and acclaimed emcee, JSWISS. She further submits about the ideology behind the track, “Wholeness is being able to show up authentically, being able to show up in a way that feels good to me. Feminine, masculine, or beyond.” Needless to say, quite an intriguing premise. But this is the kind of live-living territory the talented artist is often apt to muse.

Co-produced by Chandanie and guitarist/songwriter Vo-Era, “Make We Whole” is the follow-up to her single, “I Win My Love”, an ode to self-love and another example of what the emerging vocalist calls Soul Liberation Music. It’s a groove-infused brew that blends the musical elements of jazz, soul, R&B and more with purposeful messages. These are messages that evolve from her own introspective grappling with issues relating to self-love, gender counter-normativity and relationships, but grappling likely shared by many. And they are delivered throughout by her stylistic, vocal flow and tone that harnesses both nostalgia and newness surrounded with siren-like harmonies.

Chandanie, who now calls Brooklyn, NY home, is gradually spreading her sound or crusade, if you will, via performances throughout NYC and through recordings that include her own and as a featured vocalist on projects from JSWISS, accomplished saxophonist/producer FKAJazz and other impressive young artists on the come up. It’s clear “Make We Whole” will open the door to more questions of the soul Chandanie is likely already pondering.