CD101.9 Liberty Jazz Festival presented by The Star Ledger

by Val Vaccaro

LibertyJazzFestival.jpgThe 1st annual CD101.9 Liberty Jazz Festival presented by The Star Ledger will take place Saturday September 9th through Sunday September 10th, 2006. (; (

The exciting new Festival will be held in Liberty State Park in New Jersey, about 200 feet away from the Statue of Liberty. Smooth jazz fans can have a double delight with watching some of their favorite artists perform, while being so close to the iconic statue, with the beautiful New York City skyline in the background. The Festival is being promoted as the culmination of CD101.9FM. summer events that included the Cool Cruise concerts (which depart from New York City's Chelsea Piers and cruise around lower Manhattan and near the Statue of Liberty).

ON SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9th, the Festival will have shows from 12 noon to 10pm. The festival will kick off with the Spirit of Life Ensemble featuring Daoud-David Williams.

Popular, eight-time Grammy winning legendary guitarist/vocalist George Benson will be there to perform a great, uplifting show with dozens of hishits such as "Breezin,'" "Turn Your Love Around," "Give Me the Night" and "This Masquerade." George's upcoming CD is a duets album with singer Al Jarreau called Givin' It Up (to be released in October). The CD has special guests including Chris Botti, Patti Austin and Paul McCartney.

Also gracing the stage will also be the legendary tenor saxophonist Gato Barbieri, with his passionate, emotive style who has recorded an amazing 50 albums, including his classic Caliente! (1976) with his signature renditionof "Europa" to lush, gorgeous tunes such as "Into the Sunrise" on the CD Que Pasa (1997) - the fourth highest selling Contemporary Jazz album that year. Another treat will be guitarist Gil Harris (who has toured with Blood Sweat& Tears).

To top off this special evening, the finale concert jam will feature a superstar group with vocalist Patti Austin, guitarist Norman Brown, pianist Alex Bugnon and saxophonist Paul Taylor. Patti Austin's now classic duet with James Ingram "Baby Come to Me" is amongst the most popular song in the vocalist 's repertoire. Her music is adored by fans as she tours around the world. Austin has recorded 16 solo albums. Recently, Austin recorded a live CD with a big band called For Ella, a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald. At present, Austin, is working on her next CD entitled "The Highest Standards," a concept album of inspirational, empowering songs in celebration of the "higher standards " in life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.

For over ten years, Norman Brown has been working his magic on the guitar. When you listen to CD101.9FM, you probably hear Norman Brown's classic, catchy cover version of "Any Love" or his catchy song "Better Days Ahead." In 2002, Brown's CD Just Chillin' - won a Grammy® in the prestigious Best Pop Instrumental Category. Brown was also part of the successful BWB group with their 2002 CD Groovin' with Kirk Whalum and Rick Braun. Brown's current CD West Coast Coolin (2004)

Its' been 11 years since the release of Taylor's debut album On The Horn. His current CD Nightlife (Peak Records) is a sensuous soul jazz vibe similar to his Steppin' Out CD. "Steppin' Out," was the popular titletrack from his 2003 Top Ten Billboard Contemporary Jazz album. Taylor has toured the U.S. with the all-star "Groovin' For Grover" lineup with Jeff Lorber, Richard Elliot and Gerald Albright. He also made his acting debut on the legendary ABC soap opera One Life To Live.

Pianist Alex Bugnon's lush melodic hits have been played on CD101.9, from "107 Degrees in the Shade," to the gorgeous, inspirational "Love Season," to the pretty tune "Around 12:15am." His most recent album, Free (2005) is a mixture of exotic rhythms with haunting, soulful melodies.

On SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 10th from 12 noon to 8pm, there will be another great day of jazz in the sun at Liberty State Park.

The first afternoon concert will feature Stanley Jordan, the brilliant, classically influenced jazz guitarist, known for his special guitar technique, as well as his smooth jazz hit cover of the tune "Lady in My Life" (originally from his CD Magic Touch). Jordan's new CD is called Ragas featuring Jay Kishor (on sitar), of music in the Indian classical tradition. Jordan has also has an interest in the healing of music therapy.

Next onstage will be legendary alto saxophonist David Sanborn. A six-time Grammy winner, Sanborn has released over 20 solo albums since 1975. One of the innovators of the pop-jazz alto saxophone sound, Sanborn has worked with Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, The Who, Miles Davis and many others. Sanborn's CD Timeagain (Verve 2003) featured the hit cover tune of "Comin' Home Baby" and includes classics such as "Tequila" and "Isn't She Lovely" as well as many bluesy, soulful songs. Recently, CD101.9 has been playing Sanborn's version of "Got to Give It Up". Some of Sanborn's biggest hits include "Chicago Song," "This Masquerade," "The Dream," and "Benny."

Another highlight of this year's first annual Liberty Jazz Festival will be the "Guitars and Saxes" show with some of smooth jazz genre's most popular artists: saxophonists Richard Elliot and Gerald Albright and guitarists Jeff Golub and Peter White.

Richard Elliot's highly dramatic tenor saxophone's distinctive growls and heartwarming sounds can be heard on his trademark tune "When a Man Loves a Woman," as well as "Ain't Nothin' Like the Real Thing" and his cover of "Secret Love." Metro Blue (ARTizen Music Group), Elliot's 14th solo album includes three catchy hits: The Stylistics' classic R & B tune "People Make The World Go Round," an optimistic, passionate original tune "Mystique," and the soulful song "Inside Out."

Jeff Golub is known for his funky, boisterous covers of the Average White Band's " Pick Up The Pieces" (Avenue Blue CD) and "Cut The Cake" (from the CD Do It Again). He's also recorded a catchy duet with Peter White "No Two Ways About It" (on the CD Dangerous Curves). On the Do It Again CD, Golub recorded the classic tune "Cold Duck Time" with Gerald Albright, which they get to do live - a real treat! Golub has an incredible repertoire, with tunes such as "Uptown Express" spiked with a spunky Wes Montgomery inspired spin from Temptation, his current CD on the Narada Jazz label). Also, Golub has a new CD in the works.

Gerald Albright's bright, bluesy and uplifting tone on alto sax and incredibly high altissimo notes are instantly recognizable. His cover of Luther Vandross' hit "So Amazing" demonstrates his incredibly inspiring range and power. Albright's improvisational prowess and soulful sounds delight on other hit tunes like "My, My, My" and "Bermuda Nights". Albright expressively soars on the classic Ray Charles tune "Georgia On My Mind"- featured on the current CD New Beginnings (Peak Records), his 11th recording as a solo artist.

Peter White's smooth grooves have earned him the title "Guitarist of the Year" four years in a row from National Smooth Jazz Awards. Peter's new CD is Playin' Favorites (Sony), a follow-up to his popular CD Reflections of romantic cover tunes, as well as his cover of the Isley Brothers' tune "Who's That Lady" (from the Glow CD). White's new CD includes the single "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)" - the old Junior Walker song - and the classic Grover Washington tune "Mister Magic" - a favorite or as White would prefer, a "favourite" (British version) song of fans and musicians alike.

The big CD101.9FM Liberty Jazz Festival finale will be a fantastic show with the Rendezvous All Stars featuring: saxophonist Kirk Whalum, bassist Wayman Tisdale, guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Butler, and pianist Brian Simpson.

Bassist Wayman Tisdale's current CD, Way Up, was aptly named by Dave Koz, because it's been topping the smooth jazz radio charts since it's release this past June. Hear a note or two, and you instantly recognize the buoyant bass sounds of Wayman Tisdale on songs like his current hit "Get Down On It" on his 7th CD, Way Up (2006 Rendezvous), the enthusiastic cover of "Ain'tNo Stoppin' Us Now" (from the CD Hang Time) or "Can't Hide Love" (from the CD Face to Face). This past June, during an instore appearance at FYE Records in New York City, Tisdale said that Marcus Miller once told him that if the audience can recognize an artist in a note or two, he's achieved something great.Tisdale has certainly done that and more.

It's always a great pleasure to hear the ever soulful, smooth sounds of Kirk Whalum. For the past few months, Whalum has been touring with the Rendezvous All Stars. His latest CD is Kirk Whalum Performs the Babyface Songbook (Rendezvous Records), which includes covers of hit songs such as "Can We Talk," "I'll Make Love To You," "When Can I See You," and "Someone to Love." One of Whalum's specialties for over a decade has been doing beautifully soulful interpretations of R&B tunes (e.g., "Ascension," "Same Ole' Love," "My All," "If Only For One Night" "God Must Have Spent (A Little More Time With You)" ). Next year, Whalum will have the honor of being the first full-time artist in residence at the Stax Music Academy in Memphis, Tennessee.

The sensitive stylings of South-African guitarist/songwriter Jonathan Butler' s latest CD is simply titled Jonathan (his debut on Rendezvous). The first single is Butler's poignantly beautiful cover of the classic "Fire and Rain." Another tune on the new CD is "Mandela Bay," an optimistic,joyful tribute to the legacy of Nelson Mandela.

Pianist Brian Simpson's catchy, enthusiastic, upbeat hit song "It's All Good" (the title track to his current solo CD (Rendezvous) is a breath of fresh air on smooth jazz radio. Simpson was musical director and touring keyboardist for Dave Koz and pop star Janet Jackson.

This year's Liberty Jazz Fest promises to be a wonderful experience! We hope it will become a tradition and look forward to next year's Fest.

GENERAL INFORMATION: Smooth Jazz fans can purchase a 1 day or a 2 day pass (Liberty Jazz Festival 2 Day Pass). Two types of tickets are available, VIP tickets (assigned on a first come basis in reserved seating near the stage, with access to the VIP tent that has separate food service and restrooms) and also lawn tickets. Children who are 6 years old and under can attend for free. So you can bring the kids!

Here's the Schedule:

Saturday 9/9 *

11am - Shuttle Buses from parking lots available
11:30am - Will-call ticket window opens
Noon - Gates open!
12:30pm - Spirit of Life Ensemble featuring Daoud-David Williams performance
2:00pm - Gil Parris performance
3:30pm - Gato Barbieri performance
5:00pm - George Benson performance
7:30pm - Norman Brown, Patti Austin, Alex Bugnon & Paul Taylor all-star jam finale!

Sunday 9/10 *

11am - Shuttle Buses from parking lots available
11:30am - Will-call ticket w indow opens
Noon - Gates Open!
12:30pm - Stanley Jordon performance
2:00pm - David Sanborn performance
3:30pm - GUITARS & SAXES with Jeff Golub, Richard Elliot, Gerald Albright and Peter White all-star jam
6:00pm- RENDEZVOUS ALL-STARS with Wayman Tisdale, Kirk Whalum, Jonathan Butler and Brian Simpson all-star finale!

*all times subject to change