December 31, 2004

Happy new year from all @ smoothvibes.com

Peter_2.jpgWe wish to all readers and visitors of Smooth Jazz Vibes happy holidays and a great new year. We are looking forward to share another year of exciting new music from our favorite artists with you.

This past year has been tremendously successful for us. With our first-rate team of contributors - they are Jonathan Widran, Brian Soergel, Denis Poole, Beverly Packard and Danny Desart - we managed to bring you exclusive news, in-depth reviews, enthusiastic concert reviews and more at a staggering rate. I thank these people for their outstanding work making the site what it is today.

We will strive hard to continue in this vein to bring you the good stuff from the world of smooth jazz. God bless you all!

Peter Böhi, Editor

PS: You are welcome to leave your shouts at our forum (please register and come back often!).

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:41 AM

December 27, 2004

Song of the Week: Ken Navarro -- "Breathe"

KenNavarroLoveColouredSoul_small.gifKen Navarro’s “Breathe” is like a breath of fresh air. The song from his new Love Coloured Soul CD is a smart single for adventurous smooth jazz radio stations looking to add more adventurous listeners. Most of Navarro’s songs are perfectly beautiful and serene. “Breathe,” however, spins a driving, chugging rhythm section anchored by Andre Webb and Kevin Prince, but mostly offers some pretty fast guitar picking by Navarro. Don’t get me wrong – “Breathe” is not the unlistenable stuff some artists tack onto the end of their projects to show they can play. “Breathe” shows Navarro can play, furiously at time, but still works as one of the best smooth jazz songs you’re going to hear in a while.

Of course, Navarro is free to go all out now that he’s back on the Positive Music label, the same one he founded more than a decade ago. Love Coloured Soul is now only available at kennavarro.com, but will be in stores on Jan. 25, 2005.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:39 AM

December 26, 2004

Jamie Bonk - My World

Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a British perspective on all that’s good, and not so good, in the world of smooth jazz and classic soul.

New on The Secret Garden’s horizons this time around is a thoroughly enjoyable new release from Toronto based guitarist / composer Jamie Bonk.

jamiebonk3.jpgMy World is his third release, has been three years in the making and is a piece of work that he considers to be his most collaborative to date. His recording history started back in 1997 when his self-tiled debut album was released in Canada and the following year in the USA. It was voted the New Age Voice (NAV) Radio Album Of The Year in 1999 and remains as NAV’s Airwaves Top 100 longest charting CD. Its eighteen-month stay on the charts was almost seven months longer than the previous record holder Loreena McKennitt with her Book Of Secrets release.

Frequent travelers in Canada and North America may be more familiar with Jamie’s music than they think. Both Jamie Bonk and his second release, A Perfect Tomorrow, have been played as part of many in flight audio programs with participating airlines including Asiana, TWA, US Airways, America West, American and Canadian. Air Canada used Jamie Bonk in its entirety as boarding music through out 1998.

All this is a far cry from Queens University, which Jamie entered as a music composition student back in 1983. Perhaps Jamie’s most influential teacher at Queens was composition professor Bruce Pennycook who enabled him to experiment with first generation MIDI sequencers, samplers and synthesizers. It was in 1986, while still at Queens that Bonk won the silver medal in the electro acoustic category of the CAPAC competition. After graduation he started his musical career in Toronto where he played for local bands, played studio guitar, programmed for a multitude of album projects and even composed film scores for Heart Of The Forest for Lindrian Films and Brenda Longfellow’s Our Marilyn.

Throughout the 90’s Jamie was Associate Guitar Instructor at the Toronto Guitar Institute and combined this with the composition and production of corporate video soundtracks for companies such as Manulife and Cadillac Fairview.

Since 1997, and the formation, with his father, of Bonk Productions he has been producing, promoting and distributing his own special style of music. My World carries this journey on with eleven interesting tracks that are certain to find a place on the adult contemporary scene. The listener is immediately engaged by the extremely bright start that the title track makes. It’s a Latin flavored piece that displays a tight beat throughout and settles into an excellent melody. Track #2, ‘This Is It’ is of slower tempo, incorporates production of a quality that prevents the strong back beat from becoming overpowering and really builds to a climax. The first vocal contribution is heard on track #4 with Ron Scott doing the honors on ‘If This Is Love’, a rock ballad with good lyrics and nice overall feel that deserves to make it a winner.

‘Looking In’ (#5), and ‘What I Never Said’ (#9) are what can be classed as routine pieces of smooth jazz guitar but are none the worse for it. ‘Wiggle’ is at #6 and that’s just what Bonk does with deft playing on what is an out and out feel good number while the lower key ‘Third Time’ has nostalgia running right through it, an evocation of something lost, or perhaps something rediscovered.

Ron Scott features again on track #8 with a cover of ‘Nights On Broadway’, which is fine, but then again there will only ever one Bee Gees. ‘Centre Tone’, an up temp jazz flavored tune, features another vocal, this time by Shelley Hamilton, while the album closes out with ‘Waiting For Winter’, a sleepy sitting by the fire side piece that leaves a warm feeling inside.

In 2003 Jamie became a contributing editor for NewAgeReporter.com. His artist-to-artist conversation series has featured many top name artists in the contemporary instrumental genre. It’s a long hard climb in the ultra competitive environment of smooth jazz guitar to get up there with those leading stars. With My World Jamie Bonk is staking a claim to his very own place in the top flight.

Do you have any comments on what you have found in this latest edition of Secret Garden? Do you have a favorite Smooth Soul Survivor that you would enjoy being featured in a future edition? If so please contact the Smooth Jazz Vibes Guest Book or e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.

Posted by Denis Poole at 4:10 PM

December 23, 2004

Dave Koz Scores No. 1 Smooth Jazz Single For 2004

Dave Koz's "All I See Is You" is the No. 1 single for 2004.

Dave_Koz2.jpgSaxophonist Dave Koz has a very good year, which has been confirmed by Radio & Records, a trade publication serving the radio industry. Koz’s “All I See Is You,” which stayed at the No. 1 position for 10 weeks, is officially the top song of the year on the smooth jazz charts.

The song is from Koz’s Grammy-nominated Saxophonic album, which also features the No. 1 song “Honey-dipped” and his current single, “Let It Free,” which is now #15 on the charts.

Coming in at No. 2 is guitarist Paul Brown’s “24/7,” which was followed by saxophonist Paul Taylor’s “Steppin’ Out,” guitarist Peter White’s “Talkin’ Bout Love” and saxophonist Kim Waters’ “The Ride.”

Rounding out the top 10 singles of the year are saxophonist Euge Groove’s “Livin’ Large,” guitarist Marc Antoine’s “Mediterraneo,” saxophonist Richard Elliot’s “Sly,” Paul Hardcastle and the Jazzmasters’ “Puerto Banus” and guitarist Nick Colionne’s “High Flyin’.”

Radio & Records Top 100 Smooth Jazz Songs For 2004

1 Dave Koz, All I See Is You (Capitol)
2 Paul Brown, 24/7 (Peak)
3 Paul Taylor, Steppin' Out (GRP)
4 Peter White,Talkin' Bout Love (Columbia)
5 Kim Waters, The Ride (Shanachie)
6 Euge Groove, Livin' Large (Narada)
7 Marc Antoine, Mediterraneo (Rendezvous)
8 Richard Elliot, Sly (GRP)
9 Paul Hardcastle and Jazzmasters, Puerto Banus (Trippin 'n Rhythm)
10 Nick Colionne, High Flyin'(3 Keys Music)
11 Michael Lington, Show Me (Rendezvous)
12 Chris Botti, Indian Summer (Columbia)
13 Praful, Sigh (Rendezvous)
14 George Benson, Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise (GRP/VMG)
15 Richard Smith, Sing A Song (A440)
16 Gerald Albright, To The Max (GRP/VMG)
17 Boney James, Here She Comes (Warner Bros.)
18 Hil St. Soul, For The Love Of You (Shanachie)
19 Joyce Cooling, Expression (Narada)
20 Steve Cole, Everyday (Warner Bros.)
21 Dave Koz, Honey-Dipped (Capitol)
22 Diana Krall, Temptation (GRP/VMG)
23 Paul Jackson Jr., Walkin' (Blue Note/EMC)
24 Michael McDonald, Ain't No Mountain High Enough (Motown/Universal)
25 Wayman Tisdale, Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now (Rendezvous)
26 Bass X, Vonni (Liquid 8)
27 Brian Culbertson and Norman Brown, Come On Up (Warner Bros.)
28 Anita Baker, You're My Everything (Blue Note/Virgin)
29 Rick Braun, Daddy-O (Warner Bros.)
30 Mindi Abair, Flirt (GRP/VMG)
31 Jimmy Sommers, Take My Heart (You Can Have It If You Want It) (Gemini/Higher Octave)
32 Chris Botti, Back Into My Heart (Columbia)
33 Ronny Jordan, At Last (N-Coded)
34 Mindi Abair, Save The Last Dance (GRP/VMG)
35 Candy Dulfer, Finsbury Park, Cafe 67 (Eagle Rock)
36 Norah Jones, Sunrise (Blue Note/EMC)
37 Paul Jackson Jr., It's A Shame (Blue Note/EMC)
38 Seal, Love's Divine (Warner Bros.)
39 Kenny G, Malibu Dreams (Arista/RMG)
40 Najee, Eye 2 Eye (N-Coded)
41 Dan Siegel, In Your Eyes (Native Language)
42 Richard Elliot, Your Secret Love (GRP/VMG)
43 Seal, Touch (Warner Bros.)
44 David Benoit, Watermelon Man (GRP/VMG)
45 Daryl Hall, She's Gone (Rhythm & Groove/Liquid 8)
46 Praful, Let The Chips Fall (Rendezvous)
47 Marion Meadows, Sweet Grapes (Heads Up)
48 Luther Vandross with Beyonce, The Closer I Get To You (J/RMG)
49 Norman Brown, Up 'N' At 'Em (Warner Bros.)
50 Luther Vandross, Dance With My Father (J/RMG)
51 Nick Colionne, It's Been Too Long (3 Keys Music)
52 Simply Red, Sunrise (simplyred.com/Red Ink)
53 Urban Knights, Got To Give It Up (Narada)
54 Ramsey Lewis, Trio The In Crowd (Narada)
55 Tim Bowman, Summer Groove (Liquid 8)
56 Rick Braun, Green Tomatoes (Warner Bros.)
57 Kim Waters, In Deep (Shanachie)
58 David Sanborn, Comin' Home Baby (GRP/VMG)
59 Paul Taylor, On The Move (Peak)
60 Soul Ballet, Cream (215)
61 Pamela Williams, Afterglow (Shanachie)
62 Marc Antoine, Funky Picante (Rendezvous)
63 Chieli Minucci, Kickin' It Hard (Shanachie)
64 Chuck Loeb, eBop (Shanachie)
65 Patti LaBelle, New Day (Def Soul/IDJMG)
66 Jeff Lorber, Ain't Nobody (Samson/Gold Circle)
67 Mindi Abair, Come As You Are (GRP/VMG)
68 Lee Ritenour, Inner City Blues (GRP/VMG)
69 Jeff Golub, Pass It On (GRP/VMG)
70 Gladys Knight featuring Edesio Alejandro, Feelin' Good (Vacilon) (Pyramid)
71 Paul Hardcastle, Desire (Trippin' 'N' Rhythm)
72 Kirk Whalum, Do You Feel Me (Warner Bros.)
73 Euge Groove, Rewind (Warner Bros.)
74 Alicia Keys, Fallin' (J)
75 Fattburger, Evil Ways (Shanachie)
76 David Sanborn, Isn't She Lovely (GRP/VMG)
77 Michael McDonald, I Heard It Through The Grapevine (Motown/Universal)
78 Peter White, How Does It Feel (Columbia)
79 Walter Beasley, Precious Moments (N-Coded)
80 Wayman Tisdale, Can't Hide Love (Atlantic)
81 Richard Elliot, Corner Pocket (GRP/VMG)
82 Nestor Torres, Maybe Tonight (Heads Up)
83 Grady Nichols, Allright (Compendia)
84 Alfonzo Blackwell, Funky Shuffle (Shanachie)
85 Renee Olstead, A Love That Will Last (143/Reprise)
86 Pieces Of A Dream, It's Go Time (Heads Up)
87 Rick Braun, Use Me (Warner Bros.)
88 Pete Belasco, Deeper (Compendia)
89 Tha' Hot Club, I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby (Shanachie)
90 Queen Latifah, California Dreamin' (Vector)
91 Down To The Bone, Cellar Funk (Narada)
92 Peter White, Dreamwalk (Columbia)
93 Gregg Karukas, Riverside Drive (N-Coded)
94 Steve Cole, From The Start (Atlantic)
95 Alkemx, Time To Lounge (Rendezvous)
96 Eric Marienthal, Sweet Talk (Peak)
97 Steve Oliver, Chips & Salsa (Koch)
98 Michael McDonald, Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing (Motown/Universal)
99 Hall & Oates, Love TKO (U-Watch)
100 Brian Bromberg, Bobblehead (A440)


Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:54 AM

December 22, 2004

Secret Garden Snippet - Andre Ward Lending A Hand At Christmas

AndreWard_bw.jpgReaders of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, will know it’s the place to go for a British perspective on all that’s good, and not so good, in the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. In order to bring you more of the news more of the time this latest Secret Garden Snippet brings another current sound bite from the adult contemporary scene. This time we have news from New York, NY that smooth jazz man Andre Ward, who was The Secret Garden featured artist in August this year, will take part in the ‘closing day’ that has been an annual charity tradition in Boston, MA since 1956.

Globe Santa is local newspaper The Boston Globe's annual appeal for needy children in Greater Boston. The Globe Santa Fund collects donations from readers and advertisers to purchase holiday gifts for underprivileged children. The Globe pays administrative costs, and provides space in the newspaper during the holiday season, for stories to be written about family needs and to publish the names of people who donate. In recent years Globe Santa has received more than $1 million dollars in annual contributions. The program helps brighten the holiday season for more than 27,000 families and 57,000 children in 130 communities.

Andre will appear at the Globe Santa Sleigh at Faneuil Hall at noon on December 23. ‘I look forward to being a Globe Santa Helper, so to speak, and meeting and greeting those who are giving to the children as well as meeting some of the children themselves,’ says Andre whose current album, Steppin' Up, rose to #6 on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz Charts. ‘Boston is my home and whatever I can do to help our community, I will do.’

Want to know more? Want to add a snippet of your own? E-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com

Posted by Denis Poole at 8:36 AM

December 19, 2004

Song of the Week: Swing Out Sister -- "Love Won't Let You Down"

SwingOutSister.jpgThe veteran British pop vocal group Swing Out Sister is defined, of course, by the deeply resonant vocals of Corinne Drewery and its catchy, easy-on-the-ears melodies. The group also features Andy Connell on piano and Paul Staveley O’Duffy on programming and percussion.

“Love Won’t Let You Down” is one of those upbeat, sunny songs that seems lifted from the go-go 1960s. Drewery’s vocals are sublime, of course, but it’s the constant vocal refrain from the group – whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-ohhh – that makes the song sparkle and keeps it lodged in your head long after its over. It’s one of the best songs of 2004.

The song is from the band’s brand-new album called Where Our Love Grows, on the Shanachie label. The rest of the CD is sublime, too.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 11:53 PM

Holiday Albums 2004

Christmas Day is only a few days away, and no one really wants to hear Christmas music after it’s over, right? With that in mind, here a few holiday CDs that would be worth listening to this week. All were released this year.

Xmas_tree.jpgWill Downing, Christmas, Love and You (GRP): On Will Downing’s first-ever holiday recording, listeners are treated to a sensual Christmas delivered by one of music’s most emotive singers. Songs include traditional classics such as “The Little Drummer Boy,” “White Christmas” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” Also included are three new original holiday tunes written by Will, “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” “Christmas Time After Time” and the title track. Musical guests include guitarist Jonathan Butler, saxophonists David Sanborn, Gerald Albright and Kirk Whalum, keyboardist Joe Sample and saxophonist Najee on flute.

Vanessa Williams, Silver & Gold (Lava): The velvety voiced singer has always been one of the most popular singers in the smooth jazz genre, and she does nothing here to dispel that. This CD marks her first in seven years, and she has another one on the way in February 2005. Williams’ earlier version of “What Child Is This” remains one of the most popular holiday songs on smooth jazz radio. There are many new classics on this new collection, including a duet with Brian McKnight on "Joy to the World," the touching title track and "Mary's Little Boy Child" has a reggae/calypso beat. And “Merry Christmas, Darling” has the ring of a brand-new hit to it.

Dionne Warwick, My Favorite Time of the Year (DMI): Smooth jazz saxophonist Dave Koz helps Dionne Warwick get into the holiday spirit as he performs on three songs on the legendary singer’s holiday album. You can hear Koz’s distinctive saxophone on "White Christmas," "Joy to the World" and "Winter Wonderland." Warwick’s first holiday project also features duets with Gladys Knight on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and BeBe Winans on an original tune Winans wrote called “I Believe in Christmas.”

James Taylor, A Christmas Album (Hallmark): James Taylor's first seasonal collection is a charming treat for his many longtime fans. Trumpet player Chris Botti, vocalist Natalie Cole and pianist Dave Grusin all contribute to the project, his first since 2002’s “October Road.” Botti has a trumpet solo on the album’s opening song, the classic “Winter Wonderland,” while Cole sings a duet with Taylor on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and Grusin plays piano on several tracks and also produces the album. Other songs on the album include “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” “Deck The Halls,” “Auld Lang Syne” and “Jingle Bells.” “A Christmas Album” is available exclusively at Hallmark stores. Regularly priced at $10.95, the CD is $6.95 with the purchase of any three Hallmark cards.

Hiroshima, Spirit of the Season (Heads Up): The veteran smooth jazz group, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, re-released its first-ever holiday album, “Spirit of the Season.” It was released independently two years ago, but is now offered for wider distribution by the Heads Up label. The band is led by Dan Kuramoto and June Kuramoto. Song titles include familiar songs such as “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “White Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland” as well as new original holiday tunes including “Spirit Of The Season,” “Listen (To The Falling Snow)” and “Peace On Earth.” In addition, the album features a new arrangement of the band’s classic song “Thousand Cranes” originally released in 1989.

Christian Jazz Artists, Hymn Favorities (Songs of David): Don't let the title fool you. This delightful CD features several well-known session players, including Alex Acuna, David Diggs, Greg Vail and Ric Flauding. The arrangements are jazzified and alternately funky, smooth and very mellow. The track "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," featuring pianist Ray Lyon, sounds like a composition Lyle Mays and Pat Metheny would write. It's a great CD, available at www.songsofdavid.com. At that site, you can also stream music from Songs of David's Internet radio station.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 11:49 PM

December 16, 2004

Chuck Loeb To Honor Stan Getz And Ray Charles On New Album

Guitarist Chuck Loeb pays tribute to two big names on his upcoming CD.

ChuckLoeb_bw.jpgSmooth jazz guitarist Chuck Loeb, who joined the band of legendary saxophonist Stan Getz 25 years ago for a two-year stint, will dedicate a song to his former boss on his upcoming album.

And what a song it is. Loeb has confirmed that he will interpret one of Getz’s most famous songs, “The Girl From Ipanema,” for his upcoming album. Getz, who helped popularize Brazilians bossa nova music in the U.S. with Antonio Carlos Jobim with songs like “The Girl From Ipanema” and “Desafinado,” died in 1991.

In addition, Chuck will include an original song he wrote in honor of the late Ray Charles, “Brother Ray.”

The new album, Loeb’s seventh for the Shanachie label, will be called When I’m With You. Other titles that Loeb has finished include "Double Life,” "Tropical” and “Anytime, Anywhere.”

When I’m With You is expected to be released on Feb. 22, 2005.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:40 PM

Freddie Jackson - Back On The Block

Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a British perspective on all that’s good, and not so good, in the world of smooth jazz and classic soul.

Latest news out of New York is that R&B legend Freddie Jackson has reunited with the management team who were responsible for launching his career. Charles and Beau Huggins established Freddie amongst the R&B elite of the '80's, a position from which he dominated the airwaves with the most #1 Urban chart singles of that era.

FreddieJackson.jpgThe forte of Freddie Jackson was sophisticated, romantic soul ballads aimed at adult audiences, but he was also capable of tackling urban contemporary dance numbers and even the occasional jazz tune. Yet, unlike many of his peers, Luther Vandross, Anita Baker and Peabo Bryson included, Jackson never managed to cross over to the pop charts where none of his R&B smashes even breached the Top Ten. During the 90’s, as new trends like hip-hop impacted the urban contemporary landscape, Jackson gradually faded from view.

Jackson was born October 2, 1956, in Harlem. He was trained as a gospel singer and, from an early age, sang at the White Rock Baptist Church. There he met Paul Laurence who later became his producer and songwriting partner. After completing school, Jackson joined Laurence's group, LJE, (Laurence Jones Ensemble), and, in addition, played the New York club scene. By the early '80s, Jackson had moved to the West Coast and, for a time, was lead singer with the R&B band Mystic Merlin. However, he returned to New York to work with Laurence at the Hush Productions company where he sang on demo recordings of Laurence’s compositions. Melba Moore happened to see his nightclub act and promptly recruited him as a backup singer.

Freddie had eleven #1 singles on the Billboard charts, a chain of events that started in 1985 when he landed a record deal with Capitol and issued the debut album, Rock Me Tonight. It sold four million copies, garnered the Laurence composed single of the same name and stayed at #1 for six weeks. Significantly it also set him up for a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.

Freddie was quickly back to #1 with the follow up single, ‘You Are My Lady’ a recording that proved to be his highest-charting single on the pop charts, peaking at number 13. Jackson wasted no time in following up on his new found success. ‘Just Like The First Time’ appeared in 1986 hot on the heels of ‘A Little Bit More’, a number one R&B duet with Melba Moore that was taken from her album A Lot Of Love. ‘Tasty Love’, ‘Have You Ever Loved Somebody’, and ‘Jam Tonight’ all hit number one, while ‘I Don't Want to Lose Your Love’ went to number two.

The title track of 1990's Do Me Again took him back to the top of the R & B charts, and ‘Main Course’ just missed, topping out at number two. Even so, Jackson's early placings in the lower reaches of the pop Top 40 had long since disappeared and some critics commented that his albums were becoming too similar. Perhaps it was this lack of distinctiveness in his material that hurt Jackson's chances for that all-important pop breakthrough. His 1992 release Time For Love, that included the hit cover of the Billy Paul classic ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’, still failed to duplicate the crossover success that Luther Vandross was belatedly enjoying.

Jackson went on to have 30 charted singles, winning an American Music Award in 1988 for ‘Nice and Slow’, a track lifted from his platinum selling album, Don't Let Love Slip Away.

Seeking a new beginning, Jackson left Capitol in late 1993, and signed with RCA. His label debut, Here It Is, appeared the following year, with diminished commercial returns. This, in part, was possibly due to the fact that his straightforwardly romantic ballad style was increasingly out of step with the sexually explicit new breed of R&B. Following a Christmas album, Jackson split with RCA and, in 1995, recorded Private Party for the much smaller Street Life label. Several years of silence ensued, until Orpheus issued Life After 30 in late 1999. The equally low-key release Live in Concert followed in 2000.

Now at the end of 2004, with a resurgence in the market for smooth romantic soul, the timely reuniting of Freddie Jackson with the Huggins will lead him to a new album in 2005. Not only that, he will team up with long term mentor Melba Moore when the two of them take the stage to perform a duet at the Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, New York on December 22. Tony Award winning Moore has always been proud of her protégé and the duet with Freddie, as part of her Fisher Hall concert, promises to be memorable on all sorts of levels. Renewed success could be just around the corner.

Do you have any comments on what you have found in this months Secret Garden? Do you have a favorite Smooth Soul Survivor that you would enjoy being featured in a future edition? If so please contact the Smooth Jazz Vibes Guest Book or e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.

Posted by Denis Poole at 1:06 PM

December 15, 2004

Out-Of-Print Mindi Abair Tunes Now Available As Digital Downloads

Love Mindi Abair? More of her music is now available online.

MindiAbair04.jpgAre you a fan of smooth jazz saxophonist Mindi Abair? You no doubt have her two albums – It Just Happens That Way from 2003 and the recently released Come As You Are. But did you know that Abair has two other albums that are out of print?

The good news is that you can purchase both online. It was in 2000 that Abair released what is officially her first album, Always And Never The Same. Co-produced by Abair and producer Matthew Hager, the album features nine vocal tracks featuring Abair. You can get the album at mp3.com.

In addition, last year Abair recorded a two-song holiday project that she called I Can’t Wait For Christmas. It features the title song, which is a vocal track, and an instrumental version of John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas.” You can purchase it at numerous online sites, including MusicMatch, iTunes and WalMart.

Abair's current single is the title track to her new album, Come As You Are.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:29 AM

Ronny Jordan Now An A&R Guy

Smooth jazz guitarist Ronny Jordan will work behind the scenes at a new label called N-2 Groove Music.

RonnyJordan_live.jpgAlthough Ronny Jordan is doing quite well as a smooth jazz guitarist, he is now working behind the scenes for his record label, N-Coded Music, on a brand-new subsidiary label called N-2 Groove Music. Ronny says the musical direction of the label will be “groove in the name of jazz hip-hop and neo-soul.”

Jordan, who most recent CD is called After 8, is working with two artists, who will be named later, to have their first releases on the label by the spring of 2005. Jordan, who is British but now lives in New York, helped pioneer the “acid jazz movement” in contemporary jazz more than 10 years ago.

As the artists-and-repertoire agent for N-2 Groove Music, Jordan says he wants to impart his knowledge of the music industry with others.

“You know, there’s very few A&R people within the industry who actually know what they’re doing," he says. "My plan’s just to change the game when it comes to this job. I’ve toured, I’ve recorded. I can relate to the artists better than a lot of other A&R people can. Just having a good ear is not enough. Not only are my artists going to learn from me musically, they’re going to learn the business side of it as well.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:23 AM

Earl Klugh Among Those To Raise AIDS Awareness

Earl Klugh, Al Jarreau and George Duke will perform in India next year to promote AIDS awareness.

Secretary of State Colin Powell and the U.S. State Department is launching a jazz tour of India to promote AIDS awareness. Guitarist Earl Klugh, vocalist Al Jarreau, pianist George Duke and saxophonist Ravi Coltrane will join graduate students from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz for the tour, which is called Indians and Americans Together Against HIV/AIDS.

The 2005 tour is co-sponsored by the State Department, BET (Black Entertainment Television) Jazz and MTV. The tour, with shows, master classes and HIV/AIDS outreach programs, will be Jan. 13 to Jan. 19 in New Delhi and Mubai, India. India, which has more than 1 billion people, has the second-largest population of HIV-positive people in the world, with about 5.1 million people living with the disease.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:19 AM

December 14, 2004

CD Reviews: Dec. 14, 2005

Chris Botti's sublime When I Fall in Love is one of several great new releases.

Chris Botti
When I Fall In Love
(Columbia)

After the great success of A Thousand Kisses Deep and his nationwide exposure opening for Sting, trumpeter Chris Botti decided to strike again with his popularity at an all-time high. Wise move. This new album has already soared to the top of Billboard’s jazz charts, making Botti one of the few smooth jazz artists who’s been able to successfully cross over into mainstream jazz.

The 13-song CD of classic and new romantic songs is lushly orchestrated by the London Session Orchestra and ably put together by producer Bobby Columby. The mood is mellow and just so beautiful throughout as Botti wisely doesn’t deviate from his romantic, cuddle-by-the-fireplace theme. There are so many instrumental highlights – kudos to band members Billy Kilson on drums, Dean Parks on guitar, Billy Childs on piano and Brian Bromberg on bass – but the vocal tracks really shine.

Paula Cole’s quiet elegance on Irving Berlin’s “What’ll I Do?” is right up there, and the song even showcases Botti’s own vocal chops. Botti recruits Sting to sing on “La Belle Dame Sans Regrets,” a composition Sting wrote for one of his earlier CDs. And gospel singer Jill Zadeh adds vocalese to a cover of Sade’s “No Ordinary Love,” which features Jeff Lorber on piano.

Botti also interprets songs by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart ("My Romance"), Ira and George Gershwin ("Someone to Watch Over Me"), Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer (the swinging “Let’s Fall in Love,” "One For My Baby" and "One More For The Road"), among others. Another highlight is Botti’s interpretation of the familiar song “Time to Say Goodbye (Con te Partiro),” a worldwide smash for opera singer Andrea Bocelli.

Botti has said that this is the one CD he’s always wanted to make, and it’s obvious that he’s having a good time interpreting jazz songs. This project is so excellent you wonder if Botti will ever return to smooth jazz.

Smooth grade: A+


Garry Goin
Goin’ Places
(Compendia)

Veteran guitarist Garry Goin has paid his dues and is amply rewarded on his debut CD, which is co-produced by his longtime associate David Porter. Goin, raised in Cleveland, has performed as a session guitarist for many years in Memphis, where he was introduced to saxophonist Kirk Whalum. Goin’s influence is all over Whalum’s last CD, Into My Soul, as he co-produces, co-writes and performs on most of the tunes.

Although his songs are crisp and definitely in the middle of a groove, Goin isn’t afraid to play some real guitar and attack melodies. But Goin also has a playful and energetic approach, which begins with the lead song, “Riverside Drive.” It begins as a melody blues dirge, but morphs into a something much more cheerful, propelled by a reggae beat. It’s one of nine original songs on the CD; Goin also covers Bill Withers' classic “Ain’t No Sunshine” and the Emotions ballad “Don’t Ask My Neighbors,” which features an appearance by Whalum, who also contributes to two other songs. Goin is able to evoke many moods, as he shows on the quirky soulfulness of “Blue House” and on the straight-up smooth jazz on “Is It Deep Enough” and “Will You Marry Me.”

With its blues and rock influences, Goin Places is a Memphis type of record. But it also falls nicely into smooth jazz with a bit of a bite, which makes it an interesting addition to any collection.

Smooth grade: A


Novecento Featuring Stanley Jordan
Dreams of Peace
(Favored Nations Cool)

Novecento is an Italian pop group which has been around for 20 years and features three brothers and sisters sharing the last name of NicolosiRosanna on bass, Lino on guitar and Pino on keyboards. In addition, Lino Nicolosi’s wife, Dora, adds vocals. This CD is on the new Favored Nations label, which was founded by guitarist Steve Vai and is best-known for a guitar duo release a few years ago with Larry Carlton and Steve Lukather.

The CD marks the return to the studio in a decade for Stanley Jordan, who has toured with Novecento and has a long relationship with them. In addition to his playing, there are also contributions by established musicians such as trumpeter Randy Brecker, drummer Danny Gottlieb, saxophonist Dave Liebman and flugelhornist Guy Barker.

Although Jordan can play some pretty esoteric jazz and helped pioneer a type of guitar playing where he vigorously taps on the strings, this is a smooth and welcoming project. The best songs here are the instrumentals that showcase Jordan’s playing. Novecento lets Jordan let loose on his axe on the frenetic “Spring,” but mostly it’s just pretty good smooth jazz, especially on songs such as “Flying on the Sky.” Wordless vocals and breezy guitar lines make it very appealing. And on the head-nodding “Too Close to the Sun,” Jordan’s guitar lines playfully spar with Barker’s flugelhorn.

Elsewhere, Dora Nicolosi quietly channels the vocals of Basia on “Destination of My Heart,” while her singing on “Tell Me Something” sounds like a cross between Enya and Loreena McKinnet. That’s not such a bad thing. This is good instrumental pop.

Smooth grade: B


Greg Adams
FireFly
(215 Music)

The trumpet is a vital lead instrument in smooth jazz, and listeners have several styles to choose from. Rick Braun offers flawless pop. Chris Botti digs mellow jazz with downtempo influences. With Greg Adams, you get what you’d expect from someone who helped co-found the seminal rock-funk group Tower of Power. Partly due to his long association with that band and his many movie and TV scores, Adams has only released three solo albums. But the first two found favor with smooth jazz radio, which have played “Smooth Operator” and “Midnight Morning” to death.

Now with FireFly, Adams offers 10 more original and funk-inspired songs, including the first radio single, the chugging title track. Adams and his nine-piece band are, as you might expect, energetic and above all brassy. Listen to “Loco Motive” – you won’t like this album if you don’t like horns. Above all, though, FireFly is a project by a seasoned artist in fine form. This is a well-balanced smooth jazz album, with bouncy, Braun-y numbers like “Not So Long Ago” and “5 North” mixing nicely with slow burners like “The Crossing,” “She Still Waits” and “Afterglow.”

Adams closes the CD with “Just Like Breathing,” a quiet, jazzy number that shows that he’d probably do just fine if he decided to make a jazz standard CD like Botti’s When I Fall in Love.

Smooth grade: B


Brenda Russell
Between the Sun and the Moon
(Narada Jazz)

Soulful vocalist Brenda Russell, long a presence on the smooth jazz scene due to hits such as “Piano in the Dark” and her association with Dave Koz’s Christmas tours, offers her first new album in four years. Welcome back.

There’s an international influence here, as Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick of Incognito co-wrote and produced two songs – “Make You Smile,” which has a happy bossa-nova beat, and “Ain't No Smoke,” which has the background vocals of Hamish Stuart of Average White Band. Victor Redwood-Sawyer, a member of the band Hil St. Soul, co-produced the languid “Too Cool For The Room,” while the team of Simon Law and Lee Hamblin co-produced “When You Comin' Back to Me” and “You Know Our Day Will Come.” It’s no surprise that vocalist Patti Austin replaced Russell on Koz’s 2004 Christmas tour after Russell was diagnosed with diabetes. The two are close friends, and Austin co-wrote the title track with her during a rare lunar eclipse several years ago. Austin also adds her vocals to the track.

Russell is one of the best representatives of smooth jazz vocals because most of her songs could probably stand as instrumentals without her vocals. But that would be beside the point and a waste of her lovely singing. Standouts here include a cover of Smokey Robinson’s “The Tracks of My Tears,” a personal illumination of Russell’s faith in “The Message,” and the simple and acoustic “Different Eyes.” She closes the CD with the charming “It’s a Jazz Day,” where she uses clever wordplay to pay homage to many of her musical heroes.

Smooth grade: B+

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:52 PM

December 13, 2004

Song of the week: Richard Elliot - "Your Secret Love"

Here's a new feature - the song of the week. It could be a No. 1 smooth jazz songs, as this week's choice is. Or it could just be a song that deserves to be spotlighted.

The songs will all have the same thing in common: They are all good enough to go straight to the top of the charts.

richardelliot.jpgSaxophonist Richard Elliot's "Your Secret Love” is, of course, his version of the Luther Vandross classic. It's now No. 1 on Radio & Record's smooth jazz singles chart.

Its the first single from the recent album Forever, For Love, For Luther, a tribute to the singer featuring many of smooth jazz’s top stars that just so happened to pick up a Grammy nomination on Dec. 7 for its producers, Bud Harner and Rex Rideout. In addition to Elliot on sax, the song features Rideout on keyboards, Alex Al on bass, Dwight Sills on guitar and Fonzi Thornton, Lisa Fischer, Brenda White-King and Cindy Mizelle on backing vocals.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:39 AM

Top 10 CDs of 2004

These may not have been the best CDs of the year, but they're the ones I played the most.

1. Pete Belasco, Deeper (Comedia): Sublime falsetto vocals and some of the best sax going. Romantic, mellow, sexy.
2. Chris Botti, When I Fall in Love (Columbia): Botti makes the album he was destined to - romantic, standard ballads. Superb trumpet playing.
3. Peter White, Confidential (Columbia): No one makes sweet acoustic pop sound as smooth as the veteran guitarist.
4. Ronny Jordan, After 8 (N-Coded): Guitarist Jordan mixes his acid-jazz and experimental instinct with smooth pop grooves.
5. Ottmar Liebert, La Semana (SSRI): His first album in a few years, and it's more welcome flamenco pop-jazz. No one better at setting a mood.
6. Norman Brown, West Coast Coolin' (Warner Bros.): No one channels George Benson as well as Brown, who sings and plays as good as the master.
7. Paul Brown, Upfront (GRP): Years of producing No. 1 smooth jazz songs obviously rubbed off for the gutarist and vocalist.
8. Boney James, Pure (Warner Bros.): Boney writes some great music, and knows how to select soulful vocalists to inject some R&B magic.
9. Steve Oliver, 3D (Koch): The guitarist/scatter/singer consistently produces top-notch material that's as memorable as it is listenable.
10. Bob Baldwin, Brazil Chill (A440): This CD is by far the pianist's best. Top-notch playing and a samba swing make this the CD to play to escape by.

There was lots of quality smooth jazz in 2004. Here are some more titles worthy of your collection:

Swing Out Sister, Where Our Love Grows (Shanachie)
Brian Bromberg, Choices (A440)
Renee Olstead, Renee Olstead (143)
Bebel Gilberto, Bebel Gilberto (Six Degrees)
Keiko Matsui, Wildflower (Narada)
Braxton Brothers, Rollin' (Peak)
Euge Groove, Livin' Large (Narada)
Anita Baker, My Everything (Blue Note)
Maximum Grooves, Coast to Coast (Telarc)
Mindi Abair, Come As You Are (GRP)
Jamie Cullum, twentysomething (Verve)
Theo Bishop, Newport Nights (Native Language)
Michael Lington, Stay With Me (Rendezvous)
Torcuato Mariano, Diary (215)
Gerald Albright, Kickin' It Up (GRP)
David Benoit/Russ Freeman, Benoit/Freeman Project 2 (Peak)
Eric Darius, Night on the Town (Higher Octave)
Ed Johnson and Novo Tempo, Movimento (Cumulus)
James Vargas, James Vargas (Trippin 'N Rhythm)
Wayman Tisdale, Hang Time (Rendezvous)
Soul Ballet, DreamBeatDream (215)
Fattburger, Work To Do (Shanachie)
Queen Latifah, The Dana Owens Album (Vector)
Gary Goin, Going Places (Compendia)
Rafe Gomez, The Groove Boutique: Volume One (Tommy Boy)
Vernon Neilly & G-Fire With Mark Whitfield, G-Fire II (Boosweet)
Pavlo, Fantasia (Justin Time)


Posted by Brian Soergel at 1:28 AM

December 9, 2004

Smooth Jazz Grammy Nominees

There's plenty of music that's heard on smooth jazz radio that earned Grammy nominations on Dec. 7. For a full list of 2004 Grammy Award nominees, check out www.grammy.com. The 47th Annual Grammy Awards will be presented Feb. 13, 2005, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and broadcast on CBS.

The nominees for the 47th annual Grammy Awards were announced on Dec. 7 in Los Angeles, and while producer-turned-rapper Kayne West led all artists with 10 nominations and R&B singers Usher and Alicia Keys followed with eight, it was the late, great singer Ray Charles who was close behind with seven nods.

On Charles’ posthumous recording of duets called Genius Loves Company, the singer got plenty of help from artists whose songs are played on Smooth Jazz radio, including Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Michael McDonald, Natalie Cole, Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt and James Taylor. Among the albums’ nominations were for the category of Album Of The Year and Record Of The Year for the song “Here We Go Again,” a duet with Jones. By the way, although Keys burns up the R&B charts, she also is a presence on the smooth jazz charts now with a song called “If I Ain’t Got You.”


Norah Jones Gets 5 Nominations
In addition to her Record Of The Year and Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals nominations with Charles for the duet “Here We Go Again,” Norah Jones picked up three other Grammy nominations for her sophomore album, Feels Like Home. She was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Female Pop Performance for the song “Sunrise” and Best Country Collaboration With Vocals for “Creepin’ In,” a duet with Dolly Parton.


Smooth Jazz Nominees
Meanwhile, the Best Pop Instrumental Album category will pit Boney James and his Pure against Saxophonic by Dave Koz and Forever, For Always, For Luther, a tribute album to Luther Vandross produced by Bud Harner and Rex Rideout. “We're excited and grateful to have received a Grammy nomination," says Rideout. "We want to thank all of the great artists who took part in this project" adds Harner "We’re thrilled to get this nomination, and we think it’s a great statement for smooth jazz, too.”

George Benson was nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for his Vandross instrumental cover of “Take You Out,” which is on his Irreplaceable album and also on the Harner/Rideout tribute album. Also in that category, producer Jason Miles and his band Maximum Grooves got a nod for the song “Chasing Shadows,” with features Russ Freeman, Herb Alpert and others. It’s Miles’ second Grammy nomination.

Veteran band Fourplay earned a nomination for Best Contemporary Jazz Album for Journey. For Best Jazz Vocal Album, Al Jarreau is nominated for Accentuate the Positive and is joined by Jamie Cullum’s Twentysomething and Queen Latifah’s The Dana Owens Album. Seal got a nod for Best Male Pop Performance for the smooth jazz single “Love’s Devine.”

Meanwhile, vocalist Diana Krall did not receive a Grammy nomination this year, but she is included on the soundtrack to the movie De-Lovely, which earned a nomination for Best Soundtrack Album. Krall’s producer, Tommy LiPuma, however, earned a nomination for Producer Of The Year for The Girl In The Other Room and also for Jarreau’s Accentuate The Positive. In addition, veteran sound engineer Al Schmitt picked up a nomination for Krall’s album, one of five he earned.


Dave Koz Nominated Again
Dave Koz has never won a Grammy Award. But he has received four nominations in the last four years. In 2001, Koz and his friends picked up a nod in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category for A Smooth Jazz Christmas. In 2002, Koz and his brother, Jeff Koz, were nominated in the Best Pop Instrumental Performance for their lullaby rendition of the Beatles classic, "Blackbird." Last year, Koz picked up the nod in the Best Pop Instrumental Performance category for his #1 hit "Honey-Dipped" from the album Saxophonic. This year, he is once again up for Best Pop Instrumental Album for Saxophonic, which was released on Oct. 7, 2003.

Koz will be competing against his good friend and fellow saxophonist Boney James and his Pure album. In addition, Koz will be competing against two more friends, producers Harner and Rideout, who produced Forever, For Always, For Luther. Ironically, that album features Koz and keyboardist Brian Culbertson on the song “If Only For One Night.” The Luther tribute album also features a song by fellow nominee James called “Wait For Love.” Also, Koz appears on Rod Stewart’s Stardust … The Great American Songbook, Vol. III, which earned a nomination for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.


Boney James Enjoying Nomination
Boney James heard about his Grammy nomination from his Southern California home and soon was accepting congratulatory phone calls from friends and family members. His ninth album, Pure, was nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Album. The album, the first which James has produced exclusively, entered the Billboard 200 charts at No. 66 over the summer, selling 17,000 copies in its first week and becoming the best debut in his career.

James' previous album, 2001’s Ride, received a Grammy nomination in the Best Instrumental Album category. Although nominated in the instrumental category, Pure has several vocal tracks, including the R&B single “Better With Time” with vocalist Bilal. The first single from Pure, a song called “Here She Comes,” went all the way to No. 1 on the smooth jazz charts. The new single, “Stone Groove,” features legendary pianist Joe Sample.

“You know, it’s a thrill," James says. "This actually means a little bit more for me because this record is so personal to me since I produced it myself and it just really in a way feels almost like my first record. To have it recognized by the Recording Academy like this is a real exciting moment for me.”


Anita Baker Nominated Once Again
Eight-time Grammy winner Anita Baker has a chance to add two more Grammys to her collection as she was nominated for Best R&B Album for My Everything and Best Traditional R&B Performance for her Smooth Jazz single “You’re My Everything.” In the Vocal Performance category, Anita will be competing against Patti LaBelle and her smooth jazz single “New Day” from her Timeless Journey album. For Best Album, Baker will go against Alicia Keys, Prince, Jill Scott and Al Green.

It was on Sept. 7, 2004, that the album My Everything was released on the Blue Note label, becoming Baker’s first album in 10 years. The album debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, sold more than 131,000 copies in its first week and has now moved more than 427,000 copies in the United States. In the past, Baker has picked up Grammys for her albums Rapture, Giving You The Best That I’ve Got and Compositions. Songs that have won Grammys are “Sweet Love,” “Ain’t No Need To Worry,” “Giving You The Best That I’ve Got” and “I Apologize.”

In addition to hearing her name announced by blues singer and presenter Joss Stone , Baker also presented the nominees for the Best Pop Vocal and Record Of The Year categories in the ceremony aired live on E! Entertainment Television.


47th Grammy Awards Nominations (Selected - complete list at www.grammy.com)

Best Pop Instrumental Album: Pure, Boney James; Saxophonic, Dave Koz; Forever, For Always, For Luther, Bud Harner and Rex Rideout, producers

Best Pop Instrumental Performance: “Take You Out,” George Benson; “Chasing Shadows,” Maximum Grooves (with Jason Miles, Herb Alpert, Russ Freeman, James Genus, Gene Lake)

Best Contemporary Jazz Album: Journey, Fourplay

Best Jazz Vocal Album: Accentuate The Positive, Al Jarreau; Twentysomething, Jamie Cullum; The Dana Owens Album, Queen Latifah

Best R&B Album: My Everything, Anita Baker

Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance: “You’re My Everything,” Anita Baker; “New Day,” Patti LaBelle

Best Female Pop Performance: Norah Jones, “Sunrise”

Record Of The Year: Ray Charles and Norah Jones, “Here We Go Again”

Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals: Ray Charles and Norah Jones, “Here We Go Again”

Best Pop Vocal Album: Feels Like Home, Norah Jones; Genius Loves Company, Ray Charles and various artists

Best Country Collaboration With Vocals: “Creepin’ In,” Norah Jones and Dolly Parton

Album Of The Year: Ray Charles, Genius Loves Company

Song Of The Year and Best Female Vocal R&B Performance: Alicia Keys, “If I Ain’t Got You”

Best Male Pop Performance: Seal, “Love’s Devine”

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album: Stardust … The Great American Songbook, Vol. III, Rod Stewart (featuring Dave Koz)

Best Male R&B Vocal Performance: “What We Do Here,” Brian McKnight

Best Jazz Instrumental Solo: “Speak Like A Child,” Herbie Hancock (from the solo album All My Heart by Harvey Mason of Fourplay)

Best Song Written For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media: “You Will Be My Ain True Love” from Cold Mountain, written by Sting, sung by Alison Krauss

Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media: De-Lovely, with vocals by Mick Hucknall of Simply Red, Diana Krall, Natalie Cole, others

Producer Of The Year: Tommy LiPuma, Accentuate The Positive by Al Jarreau; The Girl In The Other Room by Diana Krall

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:08 PM

December 8, 2004

Chaka Khan releases ClassiKhan

Watch out for Chaka Khan's latest release entitled ClassiKhan


ChakaKhan_bw.jpgSince her arrival on the scene in the early 1970’s, Chaka Khan has been setting standards in most every music genre: Pop, Rhythm & Blues, Rock, Disco, Fusion, Jazz, Hip-Hop and even classical. Today, Chaka Khan is an 8 time Grammy Award winning musical icon who is known and loved by millions of fans around the world. Over the years, Chaka has built a strong bond and intimacy with her fans while perfecting her craft and bringing her own special brand of energy and dynamism to her live performances.

Her reputation as an exciting onstage performer goes back to her early years when Rufus featuring Chaka Khan began to make an unrivalled impact on the music world with one platinum album, five gold albums, five gold singles and five number one hits as well as two Grammy Awards. Among those many endearing hits: “Sweet Thing,” “Tell Me Something Good,” “Once You Get Started,” “Everlasting Love,” “ Do You Love What You Feel,” and “Ain’t Nobody.”

Launching her solo career with I’m Every Woman, a tune written especially for her by the legendary songwriting team of Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson, Chaka has recorded nine albums and been honored with countless awards. A constant fixture on the global best-selling charts, Khan’s classic hits include: “What Cha Gonna Do For Me?” “Clouds,” the million-selling “I Feel For You,” and “Through The Fire.” Much-loved and admired by her peers, Chaka has constantly worked with some of the music world’s icons, starting with Stevie Wonder who wrote “Tell Me Something Good” especially for Chaka and Rufus and moving onto other superstars like her dear friend Joni Mitchell, world-class producer Quincy Jones and R&B icon Gladys Knight. Other diverse musical talents she has collaborated with include: Dizzy Gillespie, Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Lenny White, Bobby McFerrin, Eric Clapton, Fourplay, Peter Cetera, Phil Collins and Miles Davis. Chaka’s collaboration with veteran rappers, De La Soul on the single “All Good?” spent twelve weeks on Billboard’s Rap Single Chart.

Chaka’s work has not been limited to the studio and stage. Expressing her admiration for children, Chaka recorded the theme song for Levar Burton’s PBS series Reading Rainbow. She has also been inducted to the Sesame Street family, performing with Elmo and Telly. She proudly performs for charity benefits that aid women and children in crisis. In 1999, the Chaka Khan Foundation was established to offer drug and alcohol treatment and services, programs to help women and children transition out of a life of poverty and support programs that assisted battered women. The foundation also assists in the treatment and preventative education of HIV and Hepatitis. It also assists communities with their efforts to encourage artistic, cultural and racial expression as an effort to break down racial barriers. Of this endeavor, Chaka simply says, “It’s time to build up and time to give back.”

Khan an avid film fan, has been involved with the recording of fifteen movie soundtracks. She can be heard on the multi-platinum Waiting to Exhale soundtrack performing “My Funny Valentine” for a new generation. She was nominated for a Grammy Award for her collaboration with Bruce Hornsby on “Love Me Still” which was featured on Spike Lee’s Clockers. Other soundtracks include: Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar, White Knights, Miami Vice, Moscow on the Hudson, Disappearing Acts, Have A Little Faith In Me. Chaka and Michael MacDonald recorded the theme song “For Your Love” for the hit television series of the same name. The Yardbirds classic provided Chaka with the opportunity to add yet another gem to a list of outstanding duets that includes “I’ll Be Good To You” with Ray Charles and “Higher Love” with Steve Winwood – both recordings were Grammy Award winners.

Over the years, Chaka has expanded her creativity by taking to the theatrical stage: she was featured in a lead role in the London West End production of Mama, I Want to Sing. Her performance that earned her London’s “1995 Capitol Radio Listener’s Poll Award for London’s Best Actress.” In 1996, the State of Illinois and City of Chicago declared Oct 19th as Chaka Kkan Day. The same year she was presented with the “Lena Horne Lady of Soul Award” and the Soul Train’s “Career Achievement Award.”

Chaka has spent the last few years performing and preparing the release of ClassiKhan which is the debut release on her Earthsong Record Label. Indeed, ClassiKhan is aptly titled for it features the renowned London Symphony Orchestra accompanying Chaka onsongs such as Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is?” and “The Best Is Yet To Come.” Working on ten songs with producer/arranger Eve Nelson and famed musician Joe Sample on three tracks, Chaka recorded her vocals in London mostly at the famous Abbey Road Studios and many done live with the London Symphony. “That orchestra added a special dimension to the process of recording,” Chaka recalls. “I adore them. They are unaffected people who know their art. Working with them, there was a true and honest beauty without a whole lot of fanfare.”

Chaka’s song choices for ClassiKhan ran the musical gamut: “Hey Big Spender,” “I’m In The Mood For Love,” Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” “The Best Is Yet To Come” and “To Sir With Love” (the first single off the disc) which Chaka explains “Well, “To Sir With Love” is just a beautiful song. Not too many people have done it before and when I sing it, I think of my father and the song is dedicated to him.” The album’s closing cut, the poignant yet lyrically powerful “I Believe,” a Khan-penned original.

ClassiKhan comes on the heels of a highly productive period for Chaka in which the Chicago-born-multi-talented singer, songwriter and musician has added several milestones to an already impressive career. In 2003, Chaka’s frank and candid autobiography Chaka! Through The Fire was published with rave reviews. Chaka also created her own line of chocolates Chakalates which can be found in all twenty two Neimen Marcus stores and as a testament to the enduring nature of her music and her influence on a whole generation of today’s performers, hip-hop artist and producer Kayne West had a huge hit this year with “Through The Wire” (which contained samples of “Through the Fire) as an homage to Chaka adding to the array of covers Khan classics such as “Sweet Thing,” revisited by Mary J. Blige and “I’m Every Women,” revived by Whitney Houston (fifteen years after it became Chaka’s first hit as a solo artist).

Sound samples (Real Audio): To Sir with Love, Stormy Weather

Khan currently resides in Los Angeles.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 12:12 PM

December 7, 2004

Kenny G's Valentine Day Giveaway

JAZZ NEWZ: December

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With the release of international superstar Kenny G's new album, At Last....The DUETS Album, readers have a chance to win some very special prizes just in time for Valentine's Day!

The album features a star-studded line-up of performers from different musical arenas and generations: Country music's LEANN RIMES,R&B/Soul veterans LIONEL RICHIE, CHAKA KHAN, GLADYS KNIGHT, EARTH WIND AND FIRE, Simply Red's MICK HUCKNALL, KENNY LOGGINS, EARL KLUGH, JIM BRICKMAN, GEORGE BENSON, DARREN HAYES of Savage Garden, and iconic songwriter/producer BURT BACHARACH. The album includes cover songs such as 'My Funny Valentine,' 'The Way You Move,' and 'Can't Help Falling In Love.'

Prizes are sponsored by Click2Music.com and include:

One (1) grand prize winner will receive a Valentine's getaway package to Miami, Florida including:

Round-trip airfare for two
Two-night hotel accomodations
Ground transportation
Dinner for two at a 5-star restaurant

Five runner-up winners will each receive a Best of Kenny G package which includes three of Kenny's best selling albums of all time as well as his NEW duets album, At Last...!

And the contest doesn't end there! If you're a visitor here during the month of December, and you post in the Smooth Jazz Forum, your email address will be entered in a separate drawing to be held d right here on January 1st at smoothvibes.com. Each of five lucky winners will receive his very own copy of this new album.

Post often and you will receive more chances to win!

Winners will be announced in the forum, so be sure to visit on January 1st to claim your winning CD!

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Good luck to those entering the official contest, and I hope to see all of you in the Smooth Talk Forum!

Happy Jazzin'

Beverly Packard
Jazz Circle Member of the Berks Arts Council
Reading, Pennsylvania

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 3:43 AM

December 5, 2004

Bob Berg Memorial CD Planned

Producer Jason Miles is working on a CD that will pay tribute to one of his dearest friends, the late Bob Berg.

Bob-Berg.jpgIt was two years ago today -- Dec. 5, 2002 -- that the brilliant jazz saxophonist Bob Berg was killed in a car accident in Long Island.

Producer and musician Jason Miles, who called Berg a lifelong friend, says he doesn't want people to forget what a good friend and brilliant sax player Berg was.

Because of that, Miles and Berg's wife Arja and longtime friend and manager Christine Martin are working with Savoy Jazz on a Bob Berg memorial CD that will include tracks from Berg's CDs on Denon and Stretch records.

"We hope it will be released by the end of March or early April," says Miles. "We also plan on having an event to coincide with the release in NYC."

Miles has a wish for today. "If you have any CDs of either his solo work or with him playing on it, maybe you could give it a spin today in his memory. Bob is definitely missed. Lets all remember how precious life really is."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:12 PM

December 3, 2004

Ken Navarro's Latest Is Offered Exclusively Through His Website

Love Coloured Soul, the new album by Ken Navarro, is now available though his website, and will be in stores on Jan. 25.

ken_navarro.jpgRight now, smooth jazz guitarist Ken Navarro is offering his new album – but only online. You can go to kennavarro.com to purchase Love Coloured Soul, but will have to wait until Jan. 25 if you want to buy the album in stores.

The album is being released on the Positive Music label, the same label Navarro founded more than a decade ago. He says Love Coloured Soul has a similar sound to one he released in 1997 called Smooth Sailing, with its warm and peaceful vibe.

Among the album’s 10 songs are covers of John Klemmer’s “Glass Dolphins” and the late Laura Nyro’s “Stoned Soul Picnic.” Original titles include “You Are Everything,” “You Did It Again” and “Summer Of Love.”

As a bonus, you can also can purchase two available DVDs which include full-length audio interviews, photo galleries, video movies and graphics, in addition to the CD itself. These packages are only available through Navarro’s website. .

Love Coloured Soul Track Listing

1. You Are Everything (Ken Navarro-Jay Lang) 4:52
2. You Did It Again (Ken Navarro) 4:46
3. Glass Dolphins (John Klemmer) 3:31
4. Stoned Soul Picnic (Laura Nyro) 4:46
5. Love Coloured Soul (Ken Navarro) 4:17
6. Breathe (Ken Navarro) 4:10
7. Parallel Lives (Ken Navarro) 5:13
8. Gentle Soul (Ken Navarro) 4:33
9. Let It Go (Ken Navarro) 5:35
10. Summer Of Love (Ken Navarro) 4:45

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:46 AM

December 2, 2004

Concord Records Completes Acquisition Of Fantasy, Inc.

Two Companies Merged to Form the CONCORD MUSIC GROUP, INC., A New Leader in Independent, Adult-Focused Recorded Music

Tailwind Capital Partners Partner With Norman Lear and Hal Gaba to Provide Equity Financing

Concord Records, Inc. and Fantasy, Inc. today announced that Concord has completed its acquisition of Fantasy and has merged the two companies to form a new entity called the Concord Music Group, Inc. 

Concord Records is a prominent 31-year-old, active record label focused on jazz, traditional pop and adult contemporary formats that is currently enjoying considerable success in 2004 with the multi-platinum release of Ray Charles’ final recording, Genius Loves Company (in association with Starbucks Hear Music™). Fantasy owns one of the world’s largest and most prestigious catalogs of jazz, blues, R&B and rock music, including certain music publishing assets and legendary recordings by John Coltrane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Ella Fitzgerald, Vince Guaraldi, Isaac Hayes, Little Richard, Albert King, Thelonious Monk, Joe Pass, Art Pepper, Otis Redding, Sonny Rollins, and numerous others. Fantasy also owns and operates the world-class Fantasy Recording Studios in Berkeley, California. Following the merger, the Concord Music Group will be one of the foremost adult-focused recorded music companies in the world.

As part of the transaction, Tailwind Capital Partners, a leading private equity investment firm focused on media and other growth sectors of the economy, provided new equity capital to the Concord Music Group.  The existing owners of Concord Records, Norman Lear and Hal Gaba, remain substantial shareholders in the combined entity.  Concord’s management will also have a share of the new company.

Ralph Kaffel, President of Fantasy, said, “During the negotiations and due diligence process, we got to know the principals and key employees of Concord quite well, which re-affirmed the correctness of our initial judgment that Concord is the proper home for our catalogs.  Having spent fifty years in the record business, 33 of them at Fantasy building up the catalogs, my primary concern as well as that of the other principals, was that the acquiring entity should have the proper understanding and respect for the treasure that we are turning over to them, and be willing to perpetuate the historical legacy these catalogs represent. With Norman, Hal, Glen Barros and all the other talented people now at the helm at the Concord Music Group, my colleagues and I are convinced the Fantasy catalog is in very good hands.”

Glen Barros, President and CEO at Concord, and now president and chief executive officer of the Concord Music Group, said “I am incredibly honored to be in a position to help carry the Fantasy legacy into the future. I am so enthusiastic about this merger, about working with the talented professionals involved from both sides, and the great opportunities for the combined companies going forward.”.
Douglas M. Karp and Lawrence B. Sorrel, co-chief executive officers of Tailwind, said “Concord Music Group targets an attractive, underserved niche with strong brands and an incredible catalog of content with proven value.  Together, these two companies have considerable prospects for growth by exploiting complementary catalogs as well as to create substantial shareholder value through operational efficiencies.  We look forward to working together with Norman, Hal, Glen and the rest of this world-class management team to realize that promise.”


ABOUT CONCORD

Concord Records is widely regarded as one of the preeminent record companies in the industry today, committed to offering the adult music audience inspiring, innovative and high quality recordings of jazz and popular music. With a family of labels that now includes several partnerships and imprints (Peak Records, Stretch, Playboy Jazz, Concord Picante and more), Concord has amassed a catalog of over 1,000 albums from such legendary artists as Ray Brown, Charlie Byrd, Rosemary Clooney, Herb Ellis, Stan Getz, Gene Harris Tito Puente, and Mel Tormé, among others.  The label’s current roster of world-class vocal and instrumental artists includes: Karrin Allyson, Patti Austin, Regina Belle, Peter Cincotti, Michael Feinstein, Nnenna Freelon, Robben Ford, Latoya London, Marian McPartland, Barry Manilow, Ozomatli, Eddie Palmieri, The Rippingtons, Poncho Sanchez, and Curtis Stigers.


ABOUT FANTASY

Fantasy, Inc. is home of one of the largest and most prestigious collections of jazz and blues music in the world.  The label's first artist was Dave Brubeck, and recordings by Cal Tjader, Gerry Mulligan/Chet Baker, Vince Guaraldi (whose A Charlie Brown Christmas is a perennial seasonal best-seller), Mongo Santamaria and John Lee Hooker soon followed. In 1968, just one year after Fantasy was purchased by Saul Zaentz, currently Fantasy’s Chairman and a triple Academy Award-winning film producer, Creedence Clearwater Revival released its debut recording. Within 18-months, the band scored no fewer than 20 Hot 100 singles and nine consecutive top 10 singles in the U.S; eventually they would become one of the most successful four-man Rock N’ Roll bands of all time, earning at least 21 RIAA-certified gold or platinum records.

Today, the Fantasy labels include Contemporary/Good Time Jazz, Debut, Fantasy, Galaxy, Kicking Mule, Milestone, Pablo, Prestige/New Jazz, Riverside/Jazzland, Stax/Volt/Enterprise, Specialty and Takoma. The company's publishing assets include the catalogs of Cireco Music, Composers Music, Contemporary Music, Jondora Music, Orpheum Music, Parker Music and Prestige Music. Fantasy’s catalog of original soundtrack recordings includes music from the Academy Award winners for Best Picture Amadeus, The English Patient, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, as well as the original animated version of The Lord of the Rings.


ABOUT TAILWIND

Tailwind Capital Partners is a private equity firm focused on the growth sectors of the economy including media and communications, healthcare, technology and business services.  Tailwind manages Thomas Weisel Capital Partners L.P., a $1.3 billion private equity fund affiliated with investment banking firm Thomas Weisel Partners LLC with backing from leading institutional investors. Tailwind’s portfolio of over 25 companies includes NextMedia (radio broadcasting), Trover Solutions, Inc. (insurance services), Aircast Incorporated (orthopedic devices), Hospital Partners of America (hospital management), and Ion Systems (technology capital equipment). Tailwind’s team of 15 dedicated investment professionals brings to bear an exceptional combination of private equity and operating experience and is headquartered in New York and San Francisco.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 11:31 PM

Secret Garden Snippet - Larry White

Readers of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, will know it’s the place to go for a British perspective on all that’s good, and not so good, in the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. In order to bring you more of the news more of the time this Secret Garden Snippet carries another sound bite from the adult contemporary scene. Breaking news has it that Larry White's album Unsolicited Material, featured in an August 2004 offering of The Secret Garden, has been nominated for a Grammy Award.

This is just recognition for a recording that was described in these pages as one of the best of 2004, right up there with Peter White's Confidential, Freeman Benoit Project 2 and Pure from Boney James. Check out Larry at www.larrywhite.com and don’t forget you heard it first from The Secret Garden.

Want to know more? Want to add a snippet of your own? E-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com

Posted by Denis Poole at 3:40 AM

December 1, 2004

December Is Light On Smooth Jazz!

December is relatively light for activity on the Vegas scene.

Guitar legend Lee Ritenour will be performing at the Suncoast Casino for two nights, December 4th and 5th.

The Sixth Annual McJazz Holiday Concert will be held at the Boulder Station Hotel, Wednesday, December 8th, in the Railhead Showroom, beginning at 7pm.

This year's lineup features sax master and former New York session player Jim Spoto and his band.

Notable guitar great/engineer/producer T-Bone Demman, who has worked for many great artists from Christina Aquilara to Michael Crawford, will lead his band "To A T" for the second year in a row.

Recording artist/saxophonist Rocky Gordon, who created the event, will bring his unique sound the stage with his Killer Groove Band.

There will be a soprano saxophone giveaway awarded at the end of the concert courtesy of E.M. Winston Saxophones.

The McJazz Holiday Concert proceeds all go to the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Posted by Danny Desart at 4:29 PM