August 1, 2009

What We're Listening To ** July

R O N A L D * J A C K S O N

Streetwize, Put U To Bed (Shanachie) – The latest installment in the Streetwize series from producers Chris “Big Dog” Davis and saxman Kim Waters looms as large and as tastefully urban as urban jazz can get. These guys just keep successfully tapping into the soul and depth of this appealing hybrid form of jazz and never seem to miss their mark. This version contains slow jam hits and compositions by such luminaries as Usher, Alicia Keys, Jill Scott, Ledisi, T-Pain, and Rex Rideout. Very satisfying indeed.

Richard Elliot, After Dark, (Blue Note) – A classic among Elliot albums. This is the one that clearly hooked me and decided for me that Elliot was going to be an integral part of the smooth jazz engine for years to come. Boy, was I right! Too many hits on which to elaborate here, the 15-year-old album is truly a stand-up immortal must-have!

Pieces of A Dream, Acquainted With the Night (Heads Up) – I’m on a classics kick here, I guess, but this album embodies the very essence of a veteran group that has been together , producing quality hits, melodies, and funk, for more decades than some of its fans have lived!

Maysa, Metamorphosis (Shanachie)—When you talk extraordinary vocals from an extraordinary personality who pushes herself to the limits of passion and soul with each release, you have to think Maysa, and you have to have this stylish and moving gem.

Rare Requests, Vol. III (Liquid)—A really well-conceived collection of smooth jazz hits including Ronnie Laws’ “Always There,” Warren Hill’s “Passion Theme,” Torcuato Mariano’s “Last Look” and Dancing Fantasy’s “Cry Nature.” Quality!

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Jessy J, True Love (Peak)

Najee, Mind Over Matter (Heads Up)

Freddie Fox, Feelin' It (NuGroove)

Micaela Haley, Syren (Posh)

June Kuramoto, Under the Stars (Mauna Kea)


J E F F * D A N I E L S

HiroshimaLegacy (Heads Up)  (2009)

Jessy J, True Love (Peak Records) (2009)

Paul Taylor, Burnin' (Peak Records) (2009)

Cindy Bradley, Bloom (Trippin & Rhythm) (2009)

Jakob ElvstromSaxClub vol. 1  (Calibrated) (2009)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Yoshiaki Masuo - The Song Is You And Me (1980)
This LP by japanese guitarist sounds like a lost GRP session from their best period thanks to a great session cast and arranging by Yutaka Yokokura. You get breezy latin tracks to funky groovers, Yoshiaki Masuo sounds like a cross between Lee Ritenour and Wilbert Longmire. A gem!

Cassandre McKinley - Baring The Soul: The Music Of Marvin Gaye (2004)
Just stumbled over this excellent album on my iPod. Songstress Cassandre McKinley performs some of the greatest Gaye songs in a stripped down acoustic jazz setting. Slow burning and intense!

Shaun LaBelle - Desert Nights (2009)
Multiinstrumentalist Shaun LaBelle delivers a great smooth jazz album full of contemporary grooves and some top-notch guests. Will make your head bob!

Freddie Hubbard - Love Connection, Bundle Of Joy, High Energy, Skagly, Windjammer
Finally - Freddie Hubbard's Columba catalog is out on CD!


D E N I S * P O O L E

‘The Blink Of An Eye’ by Jeff Golub from his forthcoming CD Blues For You. Relaxed and appealing, this turned down gem shimmers with the sheer emotion that is at the core of most things that Golub does.

‘Steady As She Goes’ by Walter Beasley from his album Free Your Mind. Written and produced by Pieces of a Dream mainstay James K Lloyd, this groove drenched masterpiece finds Lloyd on keys scattering his magic far and wide. In every respect it is the ultimate showcase for Beasley’s melodic playing.

‘Pacific Breeze’ by keyboard player Gail Jhonson from her 2008 release Pearls. The latest from this wonderful album to go to radio this sumptuous track will leave the listener in no doubt as to Jhonson’s consummate skill as writer and performer.

The title cut from keyboard player Jonathan Fritzén’s brand new recording VIP. With a groove that owes much to Brian Culbertson, Joe McBride and Brian Simpson this totally in the pocket tune features Jay Soto who injects a typically tight guitar solo.

‘Move On Up’ by Richard Elliot from his CD Rock Steady. Elliot’s stunning take on Curtis Mayfield’s classic song is already powering its way up the charts of most played on smooth jazz radio.

Posted by Peter Böhi at August 1, 2009 8:45 AM