Bryan Anderson - Beaufort Avenue (2005)
Bass player Bryan Anderson offers a relaxed smooth jazz set with beautiful compositions and heartfelt playing. Very recommended.
Down To The Bone - Spread Love Like Wildfire (2005)
Groovy tracks with a full horn section, screaming organ and catchy compositions make this another outstanding release by this British combo.
Steven Lee Group - From The Ground Up (2003)
Headed by guitar player Steven Lee this group delivers some great smooth jazz and outstanding playing putting you in a laid-back mood.
NexLevel - Level One (2004)
NexLevel is a Columbus-based band that specializes in smooth jazz, rhythm & blues and urban contemporary gospel styles of music. Don't miss it!
D E N I S * P O O L E
'Miss You' by Danny Federici from his forthcoming CD Out Of a Dream. This is sure to be one of the smooth jazz covers of the year.
'Old Friends' by Paul Brown from his new CD The City that is out this week. An excellent overall recording that is that much more confident and assured than his debut album of last year.
'Love Will Never Let You Down' by Brian Culbertson from the CD Its On Tonight due out on July 26. A very special track indeed.
'The Rain' with vocals by Culbertson collaborator Ledisi from the concept album Def Jazz due out in August. This one will be a major player.
'Steppin' Up by Mark Hollingsworth from his new CD On The Mark. Ex session man Hollingsworth steps center stage to great effect.
J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N
Rena Scott, Let Me Love You (Amor Records) � The one time backup singer for Aretha Franklin and featured performer with The Crusaders works up a soothing and romantic, ballad heavy collection that makes for the perfect soundtrack to a balmy summer night.
The Reverend Al Green, Everything�s OK (Blue Note)
Don Murray & Vuelo, Romanza (Whaling City Sound)
Patrick Yandall, Just Be Thankful (Apria Records)
David Pack, The Secret of Moving On (Peak Records)
NEW & NOTEWORTHY
O�2L, Doyle�s Brunch (Peak Records)
Mark Carter, West Coast Groove (Mark Carter Productions)
Jeff Golub, Temptation (Narada Jazz)
Steve Cole, Spin (Narada Jazz
Jim Brickman, Grace (Windham Hill/RCA Victor)
B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D
Harry Hmura, Passion, 2003 (Stormcloud)
This is a debut CD by Harry Hmura, guitarist and composer who has had an impressive career including playing festivals all over the world. Well known for his contributions to Latin Jazz, he also spent five years with Brian Culbertson before embarking on his own career. Passion is filled with just that -- passion! His skill is firmly established on the first track and simply continues all the way through. 'Lucky Lady' is an especially compelling Latin jazz track. One thing that strikes me about his playing is that he rarely gives the guitar any break in the song, he just fills in everywhere in a completely effective and tireless performance on many of the songs. He can communicate anything and everything with that guitar.
He'll have a second CD coming out soon, so this is a good time to catch up with what he's done on Passion (if you haven't already), so that you can be in the same position I'm in -- on the edge of your seat waiting for 'the new one,' which will be entitled Face to the Sun. Stay tuned for the release date and more about Harry Hmura. Visit harryhmura.com.
Others I'm listening to:
Chuck Loeb, When I'm With You (2005, Shanachie)
Robin Avery, The Way You Hold Me (2005)
Najee, My Point of View (upcoming)
Will Brock, A Letter From Eye to I, (DHP Records)
B R I A N * S O E R G E L
Paul Brown, The City: The great smooth jazz producer does it again on his sophomore solo recording. The first single is classic Brown � light guitar riff over vocalese. But he dares to rock on �Real Mutha For Ya,� a cover of the Johnny �Guitar� Watson classic with voice-box effects on the guitar. Cool stuff.
Bebel Gilberto, Bebel Gilberto: Just as solid as her classic Tanto Tempo, Gilberto�s latest features another intoxicating mix of Brazilian bossa-electronica sung in Portuguese and English. The highlight here is the memorable �All Around.� A remix CD is already out. A real discovery for smooth jazz fans.
Brian Culbertson, It�s On Tonight: The pianist�s latest won�t be released until later in July, but reserve your copy now. This CD of �slow jams� actually begins with the uptempo �Let�s Get Started,� a feel-good ride. Twelve songs, all great, with a few well-placed vocals mixed in with the instrumentals. Best track � the dreamy, �Dreaming of You.� The album is by far Culbertson�s most consistent.
Suzanne Ciani, Silver Ship: The queen of new age-piano music returns with another masterpiece that will have you dreaming of tall ships cutting through fog-shrouded water. OK, maybe not, but see what her music can do to you?
Richard Elliot, Metro Blue: The veteran saxophonist has never sounded better, and his knack for writing pure pop songs in unquestioned. Especially delicious are �Coastline,� �Mango Tango� and the top smooth jazz cover version of the Stylistics� �People Make the World Go Round.�