Saturday night, the festival continued with the appearance of trumpet player Cindy Bradley with saxophonist Dan Cipriano. The two musicians are a newly wed couple, having married only three weeks ago, and one could feel their happiness. Dan Cipriano was tagged being one of the busiest saxophone players in NYC, and his resume was impressive with some of the biggest names from the rock and pop business he played with in the past. Now, since having fallen in love with Cindy, Dan started to appear with her more frequently and moved a bit more into smooth jazz territory. Being an accomplished player, he had no trouble to adapt to this format. It was clear from the beginning that this was a Cindy Bradley concert, they kicked off the show with "Deja Blue" and moved on to "Lifted", both tracks from her awesome Unscripted album, giving both players some time to solo. Another nice one was Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" that allowed for some more extensive soloing, while "You Don't Know What Love Is" played on the muted trumped proved to be a highlight of the show, showing Cindy Bradley's skills as a jazz player. In addition, Dan Cipriano did some cool flute playing. The band contributed some nice solos, especially Martin Feske on guitar and Lutz Deterra on keys made some outstanding contributions. They concluded their show with their #1 hit "Massive Transit" that went down very well with the crowd. An encore was demanded, the band played "Curves Ahead", finishing a truly great concert. This concert was the highlight of the whole festival for me.
Saxophonist Theresa Grayson's "Live2Love," a compelling mix of pop gems from past to present and soul-jazz originals, will be released November 5th
Theresa Grayson wears her passion for soulful pop music proudly. From Aretha Franklin, Hall & Oats, Sade and Tony! Toni! Toné! to Bruno Mars, Maroon 5 and John Legend, the saxophonist-flutist mines hits from decades past to present on her sophomore album, "Live2Love," which will be released November 5th by L2L Records. The disc also showcases five soul-jazz originals, four of which were penned by Grayson including the first radio single, "Afterthoughts," an urbane track featuring soprano sax, scat-like vocalization and live instrumentation typical of the set from producer Terence Fisher.
Grayson alternates between expressive tenor and soprano sax on "Live2Love" augmented by graceful flute flourishes. She wields soprano on the lush '70s retro themed "More Pressure." The frenetic pace on "Locked Out of Heaven" gushes streams of flowing melody. Grayson presents "Sarah Smile" as a soulful tenor serenade and she surprises with soothing lead and backing vocals on "Smooth Operator." "Tonight (Best You Ever Had)" soars upon a futuristic sonicscape giving flight to the saxtress' impassioned calls. "Moves Like Jagger" prances feverishly with a sense of urgency established by a driving beat. The stately "Natural Woman" receives an anthem-like rendering. Lights dim for "Spend My Life" and "Close Your Eyes," seductive urban adult contemporary grooves lit by Grayson's sensual soprano and a vocal chorus. Desire permeates the ballad "Just A Little Time" while the longing continues on the classic slow jam "It Never Rains in Southern California," which closes the collection.
Calling all Jeff Golub fans, friends, musicians, and industry folks: Before September 24th - 'Like' Jeff Golub documentary video
by Val Vaccaro (Photo by Bazpix except for photo from video)
For the past 25 years in contemporary jazz - as well as in pop and rock music during the 1980s and 1990s - guitarist, composer, and producer Jeff Golub has put his melodic, edgy jazz, blues, and rock-infused signature sound ranging from exuberant to funky to pensive into a style uniquely his own. Jeff Golub has recorded fourteen CDs as an instrumental artist, and has played on over 100 albums of top smooth jazz, pop, and rock artists. Many of Jeff Golub's recordings have appeared at the top of Billboard magazine's charts for Top Contemporary Jazz Albums, Top Blues Albums, and top Smooth Jazz Songs.
If guitarist Jeff Golub's music has brought joy, happiness, and inspiration to your life as a fan, friend, musician, or member of the music industry ... this is your chance to help get a documentary produced by cinematographer Kyle Kelley about Jeff Golub's life (which has been dramatically transformed since Golub lost his eyesight in 2011 due to an inexplicable collapse of his optic nerves). You can help - just 'Like' the new video short of the documentary pitch before September 24th. https://vimeo.com/73179502. [See details on how to 'like' the video at the end of this article.]
According to Bud Harner, Jeff Golub's long-time manager, co-producer and friend, "(I am) very excited about the documentary being put together on Jeff Golub. It will be a great way for Jeff's fans to get a glimpse into what he's been going through and what a strong spirit and heart he possesses. Not to mention the huge help any contribution to Jeff's medical account can mean!" [Details on how to contribute to the Jeff Golub Medical Fund are also at the end of this article.]
Jeff Golub: Train Keeps A Rolling is a 4:45 minute video pitch for a new documentary hoping to be produced by cinematographer Kyle I. Kelley of BullMoose Pictures. This August, the video was entered into the 2013 AbelCine Documentary Grant Competition on Vimeo.com. Up until Tuesday, September 24th votes will be counted to 'like' the video. The 10 videos submitted to the documentary contest with the most 'likes' on Vimeo.com will become finalists and move to the next round of judging. Three winners will receive an equipment usage grant worth about $33,000. If Kyle Kelley wins the grant, it will help jumpstart his film project. Cinematographer Kelley recently said that "the next step will be to raise production funds." Currently, there are 86 videos submitted on Vimeo for the documentary competition, and the Jeff Golub: Train Keeps A Rolling video has 216 'likes'... but there are a few more videos in the documentary grant competition that have a higher number of 'likes' - so if you 'like' the video - your vote will really help!
Having established itself well over the years, the 6th annual Smooth Jazz Festival Augsburg took place September 13-14 at the Parktheater at the Kurhaus Göggingen. Both nights, all the seats were sold out with only a few tickets left in the standing areas, this year's edition obviously is a success. Like every year, smooth jazz fans from all across Europe gathered in Augsburg to hear some of their favorite players, have fun and meet like-minded people. I saw many familiar faces from previous years or the Mallorca Smooth Jazz Festival (which was held in May this year), talked to fellow music aficionados and musicians, in addition I made some new friends, it was like family.
Again, festival organizer Christian Bössner was able to come up with another great line-up this year, bringing some of the top US smooth jazz players to Europe. With the exception of the Pizza Express in London and Steve Quirk's occasional smooth jazz concerts in Manchester, opportunities for smooth jazz artists in Europe have been scarce for years, so the Smooth Jazz Festivals in Mallorca and Augsburg provide a welcome platform to bring over those players. The concept of a local backing band supporting the main players has been working well, so the tried and tested band of Lutz Deterra on keys, Andy Pilger on drums, Günter Asbeck on bass and Martin Feske on guitar took over the job to play four concerts with the headlining US players, learning numerous songs, rehearsing in the afternoon and bringing the music onto the main stage in the evening. As usual, they did an excellent job.
The festival was opened by guitarist Jeff Golub, who turned blind during the summer of 2011 due to collapsed optical nerves, a rare eye disease which struck him suddenly. Thankfully, Jeff continues to pursue his music career, being well supported by the music community, he is touring, plays with many different artists, and just released a new CD Train Keeps A Rolling with organist Brian Auger. In Augsburg, he was led onto the stage and brought to his chair, where he performed his show sitting. He did nice covers of "Always There" and the classic "Cold Duck Time", from his own catalog he played a groovy version of "Dangerous Curves", among other material from his catalog like "Naked City". Before he was stuck with blindness, he used to be a very dynamic performer jumping around on stage, now being confined to a chair translated to his playing, which was a bit static and less dynamic than before. Nevertheless, he did an admirable job and repeatedly created some heat with his bluesy playing, which was well received with the capacity crowd.
On the 20th anniversary of its release, the multi-instrumentalist hitmaker returns to his contemporary jazz roots to remake his debut album joined by many of the accomplished artists that inspired him.
Brian Culbertson was a 20-year-old student at DePaul University recording demos in his bedroom "studio" in a crowded apartment that he shared with three roommates above a costume shop on a busy Chicago street. Those demos not only landed the then trombone player in DePaul's jazz ensemble a record deal, but they were released a year later - February 1994 - as part of his debut album, "Long Night Out," on which Culbertson played most of the instruments himself. Twenty years later, he's an award-winning recording artist, songwriter and producer who is currently in the studio revisiting that first collection of songs that will be released in February 2014 as "Another Long Night Out," but this time he'll be accompanied by many of the contemporary jazz artists who influenced him when making the original.
D E N I S * P O O L E
'Snap' by Nicholas Cole from his 2012 CD 'Endless Possibilities'. Although released last year this album is proving to be the gift that keeps on giving. In fact it is a measure of the depth of this fine collection that Trippin 'N' Rhythm continues to raid it for radio possibilities. The latest such track headed to the airwaves is the extremely pleasing 'Snap' that features rising sax star Vincent Ingala and which, for Cole, serves as another glowing endorsement of his talent.
'Honeycomb' by Dee Brown from his soon to be released new CD 'Brown Sugar, Honey-Coated Love'. From as far back as 2007, and the release of his debut recording 'No Time To Waste', I have followed the career of guitarist, songwriter, arranger and producer Dee Brown with interest. He has certainly gone from strength to strength and if this delightful mid tempo radio single is anything to go by he is all set to go even further. It finds him re-united with sax-man Dezie McCullers Jr (who just happens to be the brother of flautist extraordinaire Althea Rene) and is a fine example of smooth jazz with an edge.
'Groove Me', the latest stand-alone single from keyboard player Greg Manning. Written by Manning and mixed by Paul Brown this enticing tune features Elan Trotman on sax and looks a certainty to dominate the contemporary jazz charts for some time to come.
'Do Your Thing' by Steve Cole from his brand new CD, 'Pulse'. With a soulful sixties vibe and a horn enriched hook that is totally to die for this is what Cole does best and is a certainty for my top twenty of 2013.
'Treasure' by saxophonist Jarez from his upcoming CD 'On Top Of The World'. Although Jarez currently tours the world as the sax player for close friend and hip-hop star Coolio, this hot single could well change all that. Big, smooth and soulful with some superb production touches, this one could do well.
Founding members James Lloyd (keyboards) and Curtis Harmon (drums) both use words like "thankful," "blessed" and "grateful" to describe how they feel about their work and their fans, who have continued to make it all possible. Curtis says, "I would describe In The Moment as a milestone for us. Not many groups get to reach 37 years and 20 albums! I feel very fortunate and blessed to be in the music industry this long and to have this kind of success." James adds, "That's crazy isn't it?! Twenty albums and the first one came out in 1981 when I was a senior in high school, 16 years old. We were out on the road with Grover Washington, Jr. the following year and I basically grew up on the road with him. We would open for him as Pieces and then play as part of his rhythm section." And Grover Washington, Jr. was indeed their guiding light, a mentor who took Pieces of a Dream under his wing as the first group he signed with his brand new production company. James and Curtis were the nucleus of the band, having played together as members of the Ada Lewis Middle School jazz ensemble along with former member bassist Cedric Napoleon. Danny Harmon, Curtis' father and a jazz musician himself, became their manager and had the guys listening to the Modern Jazz Quartet, Ahmad Jamal and Oscar Peterson as they developed their unique sound, blending their jazz roots with R&B, soul and funk. Pieces released three albums in quick succession, establishing its place in the world of smooth jazz with the CDs Pieces of a Dream (1981), We Are One (1982) and Imagine This (1983). Those albums include some of their biggest early hits, including "Warm Weather," "Mount Airy Groove" and "Fo Fi Fo."
In The Moment is the first new release for Pieces since the 2009 album Soul Intent and features eleven tracks, ten originals and a cover of the 1942 Harry Warren/Mack Gordon jazz standard "There Will Never Be Another You." While Lloyd and Harmon have been with Pieces from the very start, the latest members of the band include Rohn Lawrence on guitar, Tony Watson, Jr. on saxophone and David Dyson on bass. Each of the members contributed songs for the album as David, Rohn and Tony wrote or co-wrote several of the tunes including "For Real," "TTYL (I'm Driving)" and "Coming Home" respectively.
Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole's Secret Garden, the page that offers a personal perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. For what seems like the entire evolution of contemporary jazz, guitarist Chuck Loeb has provided a soothing presence that continues to resonate with true connoisseurs of the genre. In fact, for Loeb, 2013 has been a very good year. In addition to building his growing reputation as an integral part of super group Fourplay he has not only contributed to a wonderful new album from Keiko Matsui but also has released his twentieth solo recording. Titled Silhouette it finds him orchestrating four unique ensembles that allow Loeb to give listeners an insight into some of the music and musicians to have touched him throughout his career.
Big hooks and big horns power saxman Steve Cole's (www.stevecole.net) "Pulse." In the 15 years since the release of his debut album, Cole has traveled full-circle creatively and arrived back home on the 10-song set mixing R&B, contemporary jazz, gospel, blues and pop that he produced with fellow saxophonist David Mann. The new collection, which will be released September 17th, showcases the artist's affinity for infectious melodies, a wall of horns, and soulful grooves.
Cole's inspired sax play throughout "Pulse" is poured with passion and precision. There is feverish urgency and muscle along with harnessed control, grace and gentility. Cole and Mann co-wrote the tunes for the album, which we recently sent you. The record is teeming with potential radio favorites and crowd pleasers crafted by a confident, self-assured artist who, after exploring an array of sounds and styles, has reclaimed his roots. The music on the album is the music that rhythmically throbs within Cole's spirit. Long-time fans and those about to discover the works of this accomplished musician-songwriter-producer will find a bounty to feast upon.
The title track gets the beat going from the gun with plenty of horns and a funky mid-tempo groove. Cole composed the cut with whiz kid Nicholas Cole. Soaring brightly over a monsoon of melody, the hook on "Do Your Thing" packs a punch from the opening notes and fondly recalls the late 1960s and '70s. The album's first radio single, "With You All The Way" provides a warm, empowering hook that embraces as Cole's sax pledges devotion. The single is the #1 most added and earned #1 most increased plays honors on the smooth jazz charts this week. Cole covers Mann's "Slinky" that uncoils amongst complex beats and an edgy funk groove armed with old school guitar riffs from Bernd Schoenhart while Ricky Peterson dispenses gusts of rousing organ. Cole always wanted to record the soul classic "Going In Circles," which he used to play in his native Chicago clubs. Backing vocals from Nicki Richards add heavenly touches while plush horn section swatches provide the ideal backdrop for Cole's impassioned, show-stopping sax that seemingly pleads for mercy. Sunny, optimistic and brimful of hope, "Looking Up" is another big and buoyant hook that connects instantly. Peterson's gospel-like Hammond B3 organ paves the way for a triumphant, throw your arms in the air in praise sax solo. Head-bobbing hip hop rhythms introduce an entirely different dimension on "Maximum Cool." The chill groove with slamming beats reeks of the streets. With a title inspired by R&B band Mint Condition, Cole's lively sax sparks the flavor on "Minty Fresh." The almighty horn section provides a combustive burst while surfing a skin tight rhythm. On "Ain't No Love," gritty lead vocals from guitarist Rico McFarland add ambience and street cred to the track packed with horns and a choir of background voices. McFarland's guitar shreds before Cole's tenor counters with a wall-shaking guttural growl. The retro riff on "Believe" is familiar and friendly offering a gospel jazz confirmation reminiscent of the '70s. Peterson's organ blasts testifies and sanctifies the album closer.
By Ricky Richardson
A record number of music aficionados descended once again on the lovely Rainbow Lagoon for the 26th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival. The festival was held on Friday, August 9th thru Sunday, August 11, 2013.
A sadness as well as joy hovered over the festival with the news of the death of the late great piano player George Duke. Mr. Duke graced the Long Beach Jazz Festival many times in the past. We can take joy in the huge amount of music that he recorded over the years. Our collective prayers goes out to his family.
People arrived Friday afternoon to kick off the long weekend while enjoying the sounds of some of today's most distinquished jazz and R&B artist. The crowd were in for another magnificent musical experience that they come to expect from attending the Long Beach Jazz Festival.
This year's line-up features some easy listening sounds of the saxophones, several R&B crooners, new up and coming crowd favorites, straight-ahead jazz, thumping bass as well as several trips down memory lane each night of the festival.
Billboard chart-topping saxophonist Everette Harp opened the show and contributed another layer of love portion by way of relaxing smooth jazz tunes to set the mood for the evening as the sun dimmed to darkness. Everette Harp opened his set with "What's Going On" and continued with "Holler," "Where Were You When I Needed You," "All Jazzed Up and No Where to Go," and several tunes recorded with George Duke "Going Through Changes," and "Central Park West."
Famed R&B and gospel singer Howard Hewett was outstanding during his set as he enticed to lovers to cuddle up a little closer on this cool evening. He performed "Stay," "I'm for Real," "Show Me," "Once, Twice, Three Times," and "Enough" which also was recorded with Mr. George Duke.
Soul and harmony masters, The Whispers took the crowd and I on our first trip down memory lane with some of their classic tunes as they ventured through their extensive catalog of greatest hits to close out the first night of the festival on a lovely note.
A special shout out to KJLH Radio 102.3FM for hosting the VIP Reception on Friday evening. Chef Desiree Edwards of Watts Coffee House prepared and served up some tasty treats: mojito wings(with a kick), shrimp fondue(where and when can I get seconds), fresh fruits, brownies, chocolate chip cookies and habenera cheese to make this evening extra special for the invited guests.