Carlos Niño & Friends

Live at Commend, NYC

— One time edition of 300 cassettes, with only 150 available directly from RVNG Intl.
— Each purchase includes a multi-format download redeemable via Bandcamp


Release date: April 1, 2022

Live at Commend, NYC documents an evening under the spell of Carlos Niño and a cast of new and familiar friends and cosmic collaborators including Laraaji, Surya Botofasina, Photay, and Will Logan. Performed and recorded at Commend, the once and future gravitational center of RVNG Intl., on November 16, 2021, Live at Commend, NYC transcends format for serene, celestial sound.

The Los Angeles based musician and sound voyager Carlos Niño centers his practice around organizing and documenting collective improvisations rooted in the spacious side of spiritual jazz, and the loose lineages of New Age and ambient formlessness. In these group settings, Niño plays an array of percussion, and directs the proceedings with an agile touch, articulating a sensibility, and spirituality, that honors an intersection of adventurous and experimental music traditions. With a fresh perspective, Niño then winnows down session recordings into discrete pieces, or suites, in a fashion akin to producer Teo Macero’s collaborations with Miles Davis on the latter’s pioneering electric fusion albums.

Over the years, Niño has drawn from a rotating cast of sympathetic players and dreamers, and the lineup assembled on this evening is especially ascendant, if not transcendent.  Surya Botofasina’s electric piano and synths anchor the ensemble’s effortless rapport. Botofasina’s command of the keyboard comes as no surprise, as he spent much of his childhood residing alongside his parents on Alice Coltrane Turiysangitananda’s Sai Anantam ashram in southern California, where he received musical tutelage from Swamini herself for many years.

Laraaji is the most traveled traveler for this journey, as his musical and spiritual practices of the past forty years have always been grounded in the meditative (in)attention that improvisation demands. His electrified kalimba and mantra-like laughter are essential, playful threads woven throughout the recording, reverberating from, and illuminating, its infinite corners.

Photay’s sturdy, humanizing work on the drum machines coupled with his melodic bass lines provide a foundation that humbly undergirds the tone and momentum of the ensemble’s music without ever diminishing other elements in the mix. Photay’s playing and programming are attentive yet adrift in their correspondence with the ever-shifting melodic landscape, allowing space for Will Logan’s diverse, dextrous, and at times explosive expression on the drum kit.

As the recording opens, zephyrs of electric piano, and dabs and murmurs of kalimba elide over cymbal crashes, ushering us into this shared space of communion and gestation. The seven numbered sections here, designated NYC Peace 1 – 7, function equally well as discrete pieces, or constituent movements of a larger statement, bound together by a shifting, unspoken vocabulary that enables the musicians’ exploratory communication. The  collaborators venerate the improvisation-as-village model of ancestors like the Art Ensemble of Chicago, wherein a conversational, familiar exchange allows for casual epiphanies that are all the more potent for their lack of premeditation. They come from, and address the now, a gift of presence to those who were present that magical evening, and who are transported there via this documentation.

Carlos Niño & Friends’ Live at Commend, NYC will be released on limited cassette and unlimited digital formats Friday, April 1. One of the very last performances at Commend (and one of the first after nearly two years without gatherings in Lower East Side space), Live at Commend, NYC is a vital document of how this special space provided sanctuary for artists and onlookers alike.


Side A
A1. Commend, NYC Peace 2 (10:22)
A2. Commend, NYC Peace 3 (6:38)
A3. Commend, NYC Peace 4 (9:25)

Side B
B1. Commend, NYC Peace 5 (10:31)
B2. Commend, NYC Peace 6 (6:36)
B3. Commend, NYC Peace 7 (8:25)


01. Commend, NYC Peace 1 (Digital Bonus Track)
02. Commend, NYC Peace 2
03. Commend, NYC Peace 3
04. Commend, NYC Peace 4
05. Commend, NYC Peace 5
06. Commend, NYC Peace 6
07. Commend, NYC Peace 7