What We're Listening To -- June

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

Sandro Albert, The Color of Things: Sandro Albert, a Brazilian guitarist, is a breath of fresh air and a must-listen for those who enjoy the Brazilian-themed guitar work by Pat Metheney, Lee Ritenour and Brian Hughes. Grand statements are realized here, and Albert shows his chops on songs such as the title track and �Minas to Rio.� One especially noteworthy track is �Aguas,� if only because it features the late, great Mark Ledford�s vocalese, sounding as fresh as when he brightened Metheny�s music.

Jason Parra & the X Factor, Two Reasons: Smooth jazz trumpet music straight out of Boise, Idaho. Building on funk and R&B influences, Parra delivers a mostly grooving set that recalls Rick Braun, especially on �Aguamala� and �What Goes Around.� Good stuff.

Various Artists, Motown Remixed: The originals are still cool, of course, but what�s not to like about hearing Marvin Gaye�s original vocals on �Let�s Get It On� with a pumped-up rhythm section? Some songs work better than others, but overall there�s a lot here to like. It�s like revisiting the past while moving forward. Weird, I know.

Marcus Click, Movin� On: Smooth and sassy, saxophonist Marcus Click delivers smooth jazz that sometimes feels just about right. Other times, such as on �Smooth Ride� � a song I keep returning to � he�s creating music that steps just a little outside the comfort zone and is the better for it.

Vic Juris, A Second Look: Juris is a veteran musician who has created a quintessential acoustic jazz guitar record. He knows when to be fast and furious and when to let the music breathe. The result is a CD that shows off Juris� skills but also is remarkably easy and relaxing to listen to. This is why people around the world love American jazz.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Jackiem Joyner - This Time Around (2005)
This sax player caught my attention on the recent Marcus Johnson DVD "In Person Live" and now comes up with his debut album full of sweet and soulful sax and flute playing with lots of mellow contemporary grooves - another rising star next to Eric Darius.

Jefferson - Jeff Our Son (2004)
Guitarist Jefferson offers a funky and groovy album with memorable compositions, lots of great guitar playing backed by a competent band with smoking sax and keyboard solos.

Gabriel Mark Hasselbach - First Name Basis (2005)
Beautiful smooth jazz album by veteran trumpet player Gabriel Mark Hasselbach delivering catchy songs over a polished contemporary backdrop. Contains a nice cover of Lisa Stansfield's "Been Around The World".

Al Turner - It's Good To Have Friends (2005)
Bass player Al Turner delivers a funky album full of heavy bass playing and groovy jazz-funk tracks boasting "friends" like Everette Harp on sax, Paul Jackson Jr. and Earl Klugh on guitar among others.

Jeff Golub - Temptation (2005)
Guitarist Jeff Golub hits the bulls eye again with his latest album. Funky, groovy, mellow, finger-snapping, jazzy - you name it. A pure delight from beginning to end and very recommended.

PS: The Jackiem Joyner, Jefferson and Al Turner CDs are available at CDBaby.com.

D E N I S * P O O L E

'Confounded' by Steve Cole from his current release Spin. A piece of smooth jazz that shows a new side and an added depth to Steve's music.

'Come As You Are' by Mindi Abair from the album of the same name. For a little girl Mindi sure has a big big sound.

'Strawberry Letter 23' by The Brothers Johnson. A track to challenge Kool and The Gangs 'Summer Madness' as the chill out track of all time.

'Wish You Were Near' by Acoustic Alchemy from their 2001 release Aart. For those of you who have not rediscovered AA post 'The Beautiful Game' get out and check them out now.

'The Secret Garden' by Brian Culbertson from his CD Something Bout Love. I have been doing some work this month with Lisa Taylor from the Culbertson fan club so I got the chance to get into his music all over again.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Gerald Veasley, At The Jazz Base! (Heads Up)

Jason McGuire, Distancias (Bolero Records)

Brian Bromberg, Choices (Artistry Music)

Jonathan Butler, Jonathan (Rendezvous Entertainment)

Down To The Bone, Spread Love Like Wildfire (Narada Jazz)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Queen Latifah, The Dana Owens Album, 2004. What a versatile singer � soft and sultry, big and powerful, talking her way through some songs to make a point, she can serenade you so you strain to catch every phrase, or she can belt it out and make you listen. Unbelievable version of �California Dreamin� beginning with just her voice, then the guitar and violins creeping in, leading to a symphony sound reminiscent of some Elton John songs of yesteryear, working up to an ending with definite jazz phrasing and capped off with some flamenco guitar. Great organ accompaniment, especially on �Simply Beautiful. Great phrasing and dynamics on gospel-flavored �Mercy, Mercy, Mercy� and a perfect rendition of �Hello Stranger.

Tom Grant and Valerie Day, Side by Side, 2005. What a winning combination these two are, Day being the lead singer of the �80s group NuShooz with a subsequent career all her own, and Grant having been a successful pianist/vocalist in many genres of music. Each of them brings to this venture their love of jazz, spontaneity, and enormous talent and appreciation for each other. Includes 13 familiar tunes � songs like Charade, On the Street Where You Live, Midnight Sun, Up On the Roof (that one is an incredible rendition) and others. Upbeat and fun listening!

Gerald Veasley, At the Jazz Base! 2005. I was at this recorded session, and listening to the CD brings back all the excitement of having been there to see the performance of Gerald and his awesome band, with Will Brock and Peter Kuzma on keyboards, Eric Greene on drums, Pablo Batista on percussion, and Chris Farr on saxophone. Listeners will witness how Gerald brings us all under his spell as he asks us to �Sit �back..and relax.� (interview and recap of the recording session coming soon�)