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Madre Vaca

Madre Vaca Records is a home base for creative music. From ancient songs to psychedelic rock operas and free jazz adventures, the music we support ventures deep into the forest of musical exploration. We champion improvisational music, original composition, and unusual arrangements that bend our expectations of what music can be. We make warm, high-fidelity recordings that combine adventurous performance with striking composition and improvisation.

Madre Vaca was brought to life in 2005 by a quartet of teenagers in Jacksonville, FL. The magic first began when recording engineer JeanCarlo Mendez and drummer/composer Benjamin Shorstein recorded improvisational and experimental music with pianist Jonah Pierre and guitarist Jarrett Carter. JeanCarlo had a humble mobile recording setup back then which featured a milk crate equipment rack and a microphone collection from a pawn shop. The gear was nothing special, but the love… now that was very special. These simple recording sessions planted a seed for our budding artists. Within that seed was the love and excitement of crafting something new and different with friends, exploring terrains of the sonic world together through recorded experiments with improvisation and composition.


Album Review

Madre Vaca: Knights of the Round Table

Read "Knights of the Round Table" reviewed by Jack Bowers

The legend of King Arthur and Camelot is depicted musically on Knights of the Round Table, the sixth album by the Florida-based eleven-member ensemble, Madre Vaca, whose themes are composed by drummer Benjamin Shorstein. While Knights is presented as a ten-part suite, there seems to be no connecting tissue aside from the names of individual works --"Arthur," “Camelot," “Galahad," “Merlin," “Guinevere" and “Lancelot" among them. True, there seems to be an over-all medieval vibe underlining Shorstein's music, ...

Album Review

Madre Vaca: The Elements

Read "The Elements" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Ambitious? How about depicting musically four basic elements--fire, water, earth, wind--and doing so with only four musicians. On its fourth recording, The Elements, the guitar-led quartet Madre Vaca endeavors to do exactly that, and in roughly forty-one minutes. Each of the album's four selections was written by a member of the group: “Fire" by drummer Benjamin Shorstein; “Water" by guitarist Jarrett Carter; “Earth" by bassist Thomas Milovac; “Wind" by pianist Jonah Pierre. So how do they fare? ...

Album Review

Madre Vaca: Winterreise

Read "Winterreise" reviewed by Jack Bowers

For its third recording, the Florida-based jazz octet Madre Vaca has chosen to perform music by Franz Schubert—hold it; stop right there! Music by who? Yes, that's what it says—music by none other than Franz Schubert (1797-1828), an Austrian composer of what we know as classical music who in his brief lifetime wrote more than 600 secular vocal works, seven complete symphonies (and the well-known “Unfinished"), as well as sacred chorales, operas, and chamber, piano and incidental music. When did ...

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Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

The Elements

Self Produced



Self Produced



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