September 28, 2006

What We're Listening To ** September

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

Greg Adams, Cool to the Touch (Ripa): The veteran trumpeter has hands-down released his best CD yet. Cool, funky and smooth, it's a tonic for those pining for some upbeat Chris Botti material.

George Duke, In a Mellow Tone (BPM): The title says it all. What a great CD, featuring a warm version of "Spring Is Here" and a new jazzy version of "Sweet Baby." There are also a few stellar new tunes. The master of funk shows he can slow it down.

Alan Broadbent, Every Time I Think of You (Artistry): The Grammy-winning pianist provides warm and inviting jazz with bassist Brian Bromberg and drummer Kendall Kay. A string section adds lushness.

Sebastian Lorefice, Short Stories, Infinite Corridors (Arc Sound): There's a lot going on in this CD by the veteran Australian musician, who fuses lounge jazz, Latin, space music, electronica and other styles in a satisfying mix. There are some rough experimental edges, but this is definitely different. Check out samples at cdbaby.com.

Everett B. Walters, Always High Reaching (Petey Pete): The group's name is actually a jumble of the names of two brothers, Harold Walter Brown III and Mike Everett Brown. Hip and definitely in-the-pocket, the CD delivers funky smooth jazz mixed with a few soulful vocal tunes. Especially compelling is "And the Story Goes," which the Brown brothers wrote for pianist Brian Simpson and here offer a version just as tasty as his.


P E T E R * B O E H I

DowntogetUpUrbanJazz.jpgUrban Jazz Coalition - Down To Get Up (2006)
Latest album by this outstanding group full of top-notch smooth jazz tracks with great playing by all members. Not a dud in sight, very recommended!

Howard Isaacson - Dream World (2002)
Easy smooth jazz album full of nice melodies and top notch playing by saxophonist Howard Isaacson. Quality stuff!

Joel Del Rosario - Calm In The Storm (2006)
Very competent contemporary guitar playing, well produced and arranged, nice melodies and cool grooves make this one a winner.

Alphonso Thomas - While We Still Can (1997)
Young sax player comes up with a groovy album full of memorable instrumentals and soulful vocals, with an urban touch. Not to be overlooked!

Willie Bobo - Lost And Found (1970)
This lost gem in the shape of unreleased tapes hidden in the closet of Willie Bobo's widow and discovered by his son now see the light of day on CD for the very first time. Groovy, funky, vintage latin stuff of the highest order.


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

AlexBugnon.jpgAlex Bugnon, Free (Narada)

David Benoit, Full Circle (Peak Records)

The Rippingtons, Anniversary (Peak Records)

Fourplay, X (RCA)

Bob James, Lucky Seven (Koch Records)


K A L E N * M A R I E * G R A N T

Eliane%20Elias.jpgEliane Elias – ‘Running’ and ‘Jammin’’ from Around the City (2006 RCA Victor)
Elias gives the world another taste of her Brazilian flavor. ‘Running’ seems to even have a techno feel to it while ‘Jammin’’ is definitely a different take on Bob Marley’s idea, but it will get a few head nods and foot taps from listeners.

Shilts – ‘I Knew You’d Like This’ from Headboppin’ (2006 ARTizen Music Group)
Paul “Shilts” Weimar has played in many places and for many people all over the realms of jazz and pop music. He knew we’d like the sixth cut on his latest project. Well… it made my playlist.

Maysa – ‘The First Time (Ever I Saw Your Face)’ from Sweet Classic Soul (2006 Shanachie Records)
Maysa, a recording veteran, takes us through the classic soul hits in one album. Her rich and lustrous voice covers Stevie Wonder’s ‘All I Do’, the Stylistics’ ‘Betcha By Golly Wow’ and Roberta Flack’s ‘The First Time (Ever I Saw Your Face)’. These covers are as nice as their originals.

Herbie Hancock w/ Christina Aguilera – ‘A Song for You’ – from Possibilities (2005 Hear Music)
Herbie Hancock gave us a serious musical treat with this project last year. Christina Aguilera’s vocals on this song still has singers warming up their pipes to have such a full, sensual, but effective sound as she has in this song.

Dave Brubeck – ‘Take Five’ from Time Out (1959 Legacy Recordings)
Every now and then it is good to get in touch with something old, something traditional, something unique, but still something so revolution during it’s time.


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

InsideWorld.jpgJ Thompson, Inside World (AMH Records)

Patrick Yandall, Samoa Soul (Zangi Records)

Marilyn Scott, Innocent of Nothing (Prana Entertainment)

Jazzmasters V (Trippin N’ Rhythm)

Joyce Cooling, Revolving Door (Narada Jazz)


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

Chris Korblein - Love Notes
I recently discovered this artist and find his CD very enjoyable. Another talented guitar player whose song Boys Night Out is a dynamite track which has been doing very well.

Jay Rowe - Red, Hot and Smooth
Keyboardist for Special EFX who has a few CDs of his own, Jay is one of the most happy, enthusiastic players you'll see on stage. This CD, his latest, gives me a whole new appreciation for his talent not only in playing but in composing. Great melodies that make you want to pop this one in often!

Josh Groban - Live At The Greek (CD and DVD)
As seen on the PBS Great Performances series, Josh is at his finest in connecting with the crowd in LA, despite singing in Italian or Spanish much of the time. Accompanied by a full orchestra of talent and spellbinding violin solos. Features Josh playing one song on the piano and one song where he plays the drums.

Philippe Saisse Trio - Body and Soul
So enjoyable to listen to -- the more one listens, the more evident is Saisse's absolute command of the piano. Masterful arrangements of standards from the past that we all cherish.

Jeff Golub - Out of the Blue
In studying about Philippe Saisse, I found that he produced and played on this CD, long one of my favorites. Now I have even more reason to know why it is such a standout in my collection.

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 1:23 AM

September 27, 2006

Seasonal Jazz

Photos and Text by Ricky Richardson

Nils_live.jpgMy busy schedule finally allowed me the opportunity to attend the 3rd Annual Riverside Jazz Festival at Fairmount Park, Saturday, September 23rd.

Fairmount Park was the ideal setting for this festival with its well kept grounds and the abundance of trees. The weather co-operated by providing a steady breeze throughout the afternoon for the first weekend of fall.

Emcee Jaijai Jackson, Woman of Jazz did a good job of introducing the bands and thanking the many sponsors who contributed to the success of the festival.

Groove Session got the festival under way with a set of original tunes with a Latin twist. Guitarist Nils, saxophonist Everette Harp, Unwrapped featuring Vesta and Mindi Abair provided the sounds. The small but attentive audience rocked and swayed to the upbeat, contemporary smooth jazz and danceable R&B music delivered by the above mentioned world-class, internationally known musicians.

********

Freda-Payne.jpgSunday the historic Watts Towers was the site for the 30th Annual Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival.

Alaadun, Martin's Flavor (gospel), Nate Morgan (jazz), song stylist Freda Payne performed a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, Dr. Bobby Rodriguez spiced up the atmosphere with some Latin jazz, Ray Bailey got down with the blues, and vocalist Dwight Trible thrilled the crowd at this festive event.

Dr-Bobby-Rodriguez.jpgJames Janisse and Torre Brannon emceed the event. Rosie Lee Hooks and Munyungo Jackson served as Artistic Director for this splendid affair.

Tours of the Simon Rodia Towers, Universal Drum circle, Prof. Peter Abilogu - stiltdancer, an exhibition in The Noah Purifoy Gallery entitled "Ancestral Legacy" from the Collection of the Watts Towers Arts Center, a gift from Congressman Augustus Hawkins, curated by Brian Breye, supervised children's arts and crafts as well as food, arts and crafts and Community Services Booths and Indigenous Arts & Crafts demonstrations rounded out the scheduled day long activities for the entire family to enjoy. To view a photo gallery of the above events go to http://rrichardson915.photosite.com click on album 2

Posted by Peter Böhi at 4:58 PM

September 25, 2006

SwissGroove: new website successfully launched

logo_sg_113_50.jpgSwissGroove.ch, now the home of SwissGroove & SmoothVibes audiochannels, is proud to announce today the launch of its newly designed website, created by nothing.ch.

While earlier facelifts of the site has been done internally, the new website has been planned and realized by professional web designers from Switzerland.

"It's high time we develop a website that really lives up to not only our sense of quality, but also that of our listeners. It reflects our intention and aim to be regarded as serious entrepreneurs within the online-radio business. It must serve as an attractive and well structured platform so that advertising companies, sponsors and partners feel comfortable having their names and logos displayed on it," says Thomas P. Illes, PR & Marketing Director.

The designers have done an excellent job: the website contains a simple navigation menu, an attractive, clean layout and lean programming.

Time goes on and the progress within the online-radio sector is fast and steep. "We carefully evaluate the infrastructure and technology in use on a regular basis so that we can adjust them quickly, as the needs of our high quality biased listeners dictate," says founder Patrik Jungo.

Besides the newly launched website, the makers have also succeeded in partnering with All Blues, the leading concert-agency within Switzerland in the Jazz, Soul, Blues & World sector. "Thanks to the Internet, our audiochannels can be heard worldwide. We want to be best known and most listened to locally here in Switzerland, but, of course, don't mind if people from other countries fancy our radio, too," says Patrik Jungo.

SwissGroove listeners may also look forward to some new Station Ids & Jingles that will be introduced in October on both channels. They will be produced by Devaweb in Great Britain, the company who has already been in charge of the ones currently used on SwissGroove.

Moreover, a special radio shows fully dedicated to Jazz, produced and presented by Thomas P. Illes, aka DJ Thilles will soon be introduced. The show will be called Exploring Jazz and will be broadcasted weekly.

Now, it's time for you to check out our new website at www.swissgroove.ch, where you will find further information about SwissGroove, the music and people behind this innovative venture.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:31 PM

September 24, 2006

Matt Marshak Band CD101.9 FM Show – Harry Chapin Theater

By Val Vaccaro [with photos by Baz Chapman]

On Friday, August 18th, Long Island guitarist Matt Marshak performed a great show at the Harry Chapin Theater in Eisenhower Park in the Long Island town of East Meadow, New York. Joining Marshak were two band members, super-steady, versatile drummer Chris Marshak, the ever-cool keyboardist Tim Regusis and special guest - the funky bassist Bakithi Kumalo. (Kumalo has his own CD, tours with Paul Simon - and has played on Simon’s classic CD Graceland - as well as on Marshak’s CDs.) The show also included another special guest, the soulful vocalist De’adre Aziza (the voice on the CD101.9FM jingle).

MattMarshak_Band.jpgFittingly, Marshak and band were introduced by Nassau County Legislator Roger Corbin, who represents a diverse community of towns surrounding the Eisenhower Park area. Marshak acknowledged his pride in Long Island’s diversity, as reflected by the audience, which mirrors the appeal of his music to people of different backgrounds and ages. Marshak’s show was an example of the universal power and beauty of music to bring people together in an uplifting celebration. Corbin introduced Marshak’s music as a refreshing mix of smooth jazz, chill, retro soul vibes, world beat, and more.

The Matt Marshak show at the Harry Chapin Theater at Eisenhower Park was sponsored by the New York/Metropolitan area smooth jazz station CD101.9FM. A talented guitarist and gifted composer, Marshak won the CD101.9 FM original music contest sponsored by Absolut Vodka in 2003, opening at Bryant Park in NYC (site of ABC TV’s Good Morning America summer concerts) for the Guitars & Saxes show with smooth jazz artists Peter White, Jeff Golub, Richard Elliot and Steve Cole. Last year, CD101.9FM sponsored shows at Eisenhower Park with established smooth jazz artists such as Jonathan Butler and Chuck Loeb.

Marshak and band performed a wonderful show on a beautiful summer night. From a beautiful sunset to a starry night, while the birds flew across the sky over the Eisenhower Park lake, the hour and a half plus show brought music filled with joy and delight to the audience.

MattMarshak_Band2.jpgMarshak was a fine host, confidently relaxed and friendly, talking with the audience in between songs; he sounded great on guitar, with some vocals and scatting and played tunes from all three of his CDs. Marshak has a knack for playing guitar solos that are both sonically expressive and visually animating. From the well-received, current CD Groovosphere, the band played the energetic “Summerfunk” - the first single on radio charts for the past few months in the Top 50. The band also performed the pretty, inspired “Montauk Moon” – the second single released recently to 300 smooth jazz radio stations across America. (review of Groovosphere). The audience also heard the upbeat tune “Be With You” and the beautiful ballad “Quietly” from Marshak’s second CD This Time Around (2004), with moving solos from the band, including keyboardist Tim Regusis. (review of the CD This Time Around).

Guest vocalist De’adre Aziza was a bright spot in the show singing the bluesy “Nuthin’ But Time” from Marshak’s debut CD Preservation (2003) and the sultry R&B tune “Seduction” from the CD This Time Around. “Seduction” is one of many of Marshak’s songs which have been played across the U.S. on Rafe Gomez’ syndicated radio show The Groove Boutique.

Marshak’s band also played some new material. One of the highlights of the show was the super-charged, funky “Feelin’ It” – in which Marshak fuses funky guitar lines reminiscent of the James Brown band and melodic influences of Larry Carlton; there was also an exciting, dynamic jam by drummer Chris Marshak and bassist Bakithi Kumalo. (Kumalo also has his own CD out Transmigration (GuruProject))

Another audience treat was also the gorgeous “Sanibel,” a memorable, laid-back tune co-written by Marshak and Kumalo with tropical island flair and a South African vibe. The band also did excellent versions of two cover tunes, the classic George Benson tune “Breezin’” and the funky “Low Rider” by the 70s pop-rock group War.

MattMarshak.jpgOver the past five years, Marshak’s been busy. Back in 2004, Marshak opened for Spyro Gyra, Stanley Jordan, Marcia Ball, Mose Allison and other artists at the Brookhaven Theater’s Hilltop Jazz & Blues Festival in Long Island. This year in April, Marshak co-headlined a show at IMAC Theater, a national venue where top smooth jazz artists often play (e.g., Peter White, Jeff Golub, Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum, Marc Antoine) in Huntington, New York.

This June, Marshak was a finalist at the Capital Jazz Fest Challenge original music contest (in Baltimore, Maryland). Also, Marshak has been playing across the U.S. in other places such as Washington D.C. and Nevada. During the summer, Marshak appeared regularly with his band at a trendy restaurant in Long Island often with renowned guest musicians such as keyboardists Mike Ricchuiti (Chuck Loeb, Patti Austin) and Tim Regusis (Patti Austin, Jonathan Butler, Ruben Blades, Najee, Chuck Mangione), and bassists Ron Jenkins (Jeff Golub, Chuck Loeb), Paul Ossola (G.E. Smith) and Bakithi Kumalo (Paul Simon), as well as many others, including newcomer saxophonist Vallynda Voz.

In September, Marshak performed in Melbourne, Florida with WGRV 'the groove' Smooth Jazz 107.9 at the Crowne Plaza overlooking the Space Coast near the Kennedy space center. In August, Marshak joined the Mighty Music Group marketing/promotion/booking agent firm which represents artists such as Nick Colionne, Brian Simpson, Nils, Rafe Gomez and others. On October 1st, Marshak is doing a concert for WPKN, with Gale Storm at Martha Clara Vineyards (in Riverhead, New York).

In addition, Marshak is looking forward to bringing his music to other parts of America and around the world. Later in October, Marshak is also scheduled to play three days in Europe in the Czech Republic for some great jazz festivals. On October 21s Marshak will be playing at the Jazz Festival Nove Zamky. The next day, on October 22nd, Marshak will be appearing at the Jazz Festival Bratislava Jazz Days, and on October 23rd, he’ll be playing at the Agharta Prague Jazz Festival.

The band is currently seeking sponsorship of their Czech Republic/Slovakia tour. Marshak says, “We are very excited. We are working to find a sponsor for this journey to this great part of the world. If interested, we would be happy to put your business on our site, and include you in our emails as part of our sponsorship program.”

Back in the U.S., on October 27th, Marshak will be playing in Charlestown, West Virginia at Charlestown Casinos. Marshak’s music can be heard on the radio in the U.S., Canada and around Europe. For more information, see www.MattMarshak.com, www.myspace.com/mattmarshak and www.NuanceMusicGroup.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:45 PM

September 23, 2006

Greg Adams - Cool To The Touch

The musical arrangements that trumpeter Greg Adams has created for Rod Stewart, Elton John, and Linda Ronstadt to name only a few has made him one of the ultimate musicians’ musicians. Indeed everyone from the Rolling Stones to Paul Schaffer to Madonna has called on him to contribute to their projects and, in addition, Greg’s hallmark ensemble sound has made the concept of the horn section an American treasure. Despite all that, and the huge credentials gained as founding member of the evergreen Tower of Power (ToP), it took until 1995 and his solo debut album Hidden Agenda for him to be become as well recognized outside the recording studio as he was within it. The album rocketed to number one on the smooth jazz charts and his second CD, Midnight Morning, evoked memories of the legendary arrangements he created during his many years with Tower Of Power. The critically acclaimed Firefly followed in 2004. Now he is back with a brand new release Cool To The Touch.

gregadams.jpgMore evidence of those Adams hallmark arrangements is there as early as the very first track, the foot tapping ‘Felix The Cat’. With a horn section from heaven that comprises ToP old boy Richard Elliot, Boney James, Eric Marienthal, Johnnie Bamont and Mindi Abair it’s just not possible to have too much of a good thing. The sound brings thoughts of Tower Of Power flooding back and the way the horns combine with the icy sophistication of Adams playing makes this is top notch contemporary jazz and then some. ‘One Night In Rio’ barely needs an introduction as, doing exactly what its title says, Adams flowing trumpet conjures up images of busy neon lit streets and steamy dark alleys. Equally Latin infused is ‘Bongo Baby’. Co-written by Adams and former Tower of Power guitar player Carmen Grillo it’s simply laden with Latin percussion. The ‘A Team’ horn section on duty for ‘Felix The Cat’ is back; this time joined by Paul Jackson Jr. on guitar, for the smoky crawler of a title track that Adams makes both hot (and cool) to the touch and another typically edgy Adams melody can be found on ‘Hermosa’, co-written with Joey Navarro.

Greg gets seriously funky with ‘Life In The Key Of Blue’. Johnny Sandoval’s percussion lights this one up, Paul Jackson Jr. plays a part, ex ToP regular Nick Milo is on keyboards and the great Tom Scott on sax produces interplay with Adams that is out of this world. Much more melodic yet tight and pleasing is the handsome mid tempo ‘It’s Only Love, Love’ while tight is again the operative word for ‘Hi-Fi’. This little mover is a joy to the ears and ideal therapy for a slow and difficult commute home. Adams pays his respects to Sting with his smoky interpretation of the hit ‘If I Ever Lose My Faith In You’ and, in an album as groove driven as this, ‘When The Party’s Over’ is the calm oasis in a sea of funk. Spellbinding and beautiful it is an absolutely wonderful track.

Greg Adams has the ability to bring together everything that is good in contemporary jazz. Cool To The Touch is a great example of his art and a CD well worth looking out for. Go to www.gregadamsmusic.com for more on the man and his music.

Posted by Denis Poole at 4:24 PM

September 20, 2006

Dubai International Jazz festival 2007, extended to nine consecutive nights.

DubaiJazzFest.jpgChillout Productions, winner of the Award for the Best Festival in the UAE has announced the dates for the 5th edition of the Dubai International Jazz Festival 2007, which will run for nine days instead of three. The festival will take place between March 1, and 9, at Dubai Media City and at Madinat Jumeirah Outdoor Amphitheater.

“Due to the overwhelming and maintained growth of audiences by 20% each year since the beginning of the Dubai International Jazz Festival in 2003 and due to the large demand of fans and friends of the festival, we have decided to extend the festival to nine consecutive nights and add an additional venue.” Said Anthony Younes, Managing Director for Chillout Productions.

This year, the festival will showcase an incredibly diverse array of more than 24 internationally recognized recording artists. Featured genres include everything with a jazzy flavor: singer-songwriter, rocket-fueled funk and bluegrass, pop, blues, rock, reggae, and afro-centric music.

The Dubai International Jazz Festival 2007 is the only mutli-day music event of its caliber in the UAE and the region where music-loving souls meet. This year the 1st six nights “March 1-6” will take place at Madinat Jumeirah outdoor amphitheater and will feature 12 mainstream jazz bands and artists from different parts of the world whereby the admission is free for all.

The last three nights, “March 7-9” will remain at the Dubai Media City outdoor amphitheater park and will host 12 world-recognized, legends and pop acts.

“Last year, we have witnessed more than 21,500 fans flocking into the festival. This year we speculate a tremendous increase of fans’ attendance during the 9 days and thus create a new chapter in the history of Dubai International Jazz Festival.’ added Anthony.

[Festival home page] [Infos for artists interested to perform at this event]

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:44 PM

September 19, 2006

Big Sam's Funky Nation

bigsamsfunkynationtipitinas.jpgLadies and Gentlemen, Dolls and Cats, Mommas and Papas… As the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina came and went, several displaced artists were and are still struggling to find their way. However, the world-renowned Big Sam and his Funky Nation are back and funkier than ever and are still funkin’ around New Orleans, Louisiana and other places. BSFN’s second independent release is Take Me Back and its right here in… The Hot Seat.

Big Sam, a New Orleans native, graduated from New Orleans Center for the Creative arts in 1999. Other famous names to attend this institution include, Branford, Wynton and Jason Marsalis, Nicholas Payton, Harry Connick Jr., Irvin Mayfield, Terrance Blanchard, Christian Scott, and many others. This trombone player along with his nation recorded their first release, Birth of a Nation, in 2003 in New Orleans. This current project, Take Me Back, was released in 2006 and features the New Orleans historical “second line” music.

Many songs on this project include lyrics that promote dancing, shaking, happiness, and getting down right funky. One song in particular would be BSFN’s personal invite to New Orleans. "Come Down To New Orleans" includes all of the most popular Cajun phrases and invites listeners to partake in Mardi Gras and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. While in another song, "Funky People", BSFN wants to help you free yourself.

More than half of the tracks on BSFN’s latest project are funky without Big Sam‘s vocals. Instead, they feature Big Sam’s gruff trombone riffs, electrifying electric guitar solos from either Matthew Fricke or Elliot Cohn, funky bass from either Nori Naraoka or Kenny Green, and rockin’ drums from either Ian Hodge or Eddie Christmas. Also featured on this project is trumpet player Andrew Baham, saxophone player Jim Mara, and Josh Paxton and Adam Matasar on keys.

One funky instrumental track is "Funkin’@ The Butt". This song references to The Funky Butt, a jazz club that was located on N. Rampart Street in downtown New Orleans prior to Katrina. This particular club was where many big names were able to come by and let loose in a comfortable environment. It just so happens that the current owner, Shanekah Peterson-Williams, is the recent bride of Big Sam (9/3/06). It has been heard that The Funky Butt will return.

For more information on Big Sam’s Funky Nation visit www.bigsamsfunkynation.com


album%20cover.jpgTRACK LIST
1. Shake Yo Thang (3:38)
2. Party (3:24)
3. We Gon Do It (4:15)
4. Bah-Duey-Duey (3:23)
5. Funkin' @ The Butt (3:49)
6. Come Down To New Orleans (4:22)
7. Funky People (2:44)
8. Get Down (2:11)
9. It Is What It Is (2:34)
10. Hey Buddy (3:20)
11. Thank U & Farewell (3:53)

Posted by Kalen Marie Grant at 7:27 PM

September 18, 2006

Second Smooth Jazz Tribute To Luther Vandross Planned

This time it will be released by Rendezvous Entertainment.

A second Luther Vandross tribute CD titled Forever, For Always, For Luther, Volume 2 will be released Nov. 20 by Rendezvous Entertainment, the smooth jazz label co-founded by saxophonist Dave Koz. The CD follows a 2004 compilation released by the GRP label one year before the singer's death on July 1, 2005 after never fully recovering from a diabetes-caused stroke.

The upcoming tribute will once again be produced by Rex Rideout and Bud Harner. The lineup will include Patti Austin, Norman Brown, Jonathan Butler, Jeff Lorber, Wayman Tisdale, Gerald Albright, Maysa, Kirk Whalum and Will Downing. A portion of the CD's proceeds will benefit the American Heart Association. It is rumored that a U.S. tour, featuring the recording's participants, is being planned for the spring of 2007.

The first tribute CD boasted a No. 1 smooth jazz hit, "Your Secret Love" by saxophonist Richard Elliot.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:27 PM

September 12, 2006

Ready To Be Released Billy Cobham Drum’n’voice Vol. 2

billy-web.gifAfter the great success of Drum’n’voice – All That Groove distributed world wide by Sony on 2001, within few weeks Nicolosi Productions will release Billy Cobham Drum’n’voice Vol. 2 in which Billy Cobham is performing with some old friends from the ‘1970's when musicians first experimented with jazz-rock 'fusion' (this involves the combining of jazz musical concepts with rock and roll rhythms) - and show that those years still can be inspirational.

Nicolosi Productions is following the usual formula and again is offering a great list of guests like: Brian Auger (hammond organ), Buddy Miles (voice), Frank Gambale (el.guit.), Mike Lindup (voice), Dominic Miller (guitars), Jeff Berlin (el.bass), Guy Barker (flicorno), John Patitucci (el.bass), Airto Moreira (perc.), Novecento (band) and Jan Hammer (synt. 30 years after Spectrum), inside a panorama of pop, electric jazz, funky, blues, smooth and world music.

With the first Drum’n’Voice, Billy Cobham made himself approachable as well for the less used to the jazz sonority - something that has given to him the vantage to increase his popularity - the Drum’n’Voice Vol. 2 abandoned a good part of the pop concepts and presents sounds that stand strongly with jazz, rock, funky and blues.

Here Cobham is again the album’s soul as his guests take strength in their performance from his drumming. A home coming that is clearly updated from the Seventies.

The Nicolosis Brothers (owner of the label) are the authors of all the tracks but two: Real Funk written in collaboration with Buddy Miles and One more time to live in collaboration with Dominic Miller and Mike Lindup.

At the moment Nicolosi Productions features an album on world wide distribution with Wrasse: Gregg “Kofi” Brown’s Together as One (feat. Sting).

Another one of their productions, Novecento’s Dreams of Peace featuring Stanley Jordan, has been on top (1st place) of CD101.9 Smooth Jazz in New York on 2003.

More info on Nicolosi Productions: www.nicolosiproductions.com

More info on Billy Cobham: www.billycobham.com

Releasing date: September 20, 2006


Track list:

1. Waveform (feat. Brian Auger)
2. Real Funk (feat. Buddy Miles-Frank Gambale)
3. Running (feat. Novecento)
4. Final Destination (feat. Novecento)
5. One More Day To Live (feat. Mike Lindup-Dominic Miller)
6. Ozone Part 1 (feat. Airto Moreira)
7. Ozone Part 2 (feat. Dominic Miller, Jan Hammer, Jeff Berlin)
8. Take Seven (feat. John Patitucci)
9. Let Me Breathe (feat. Novecento)
10. Amazon (feat. Airto Moreira)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:54 AM

September 9, 2006

You Can't Lose With The Blues

Photos and Text by Ricky Richardson

JoeCocker_LB.jpgLong Beach - Many of you may be saddened by the fact that Labor Day is the official end of summer. There are several events that contribute to your gloomy mood: the end of out door festival season, kids returning to school, shorter days and/or a return to work if you have been out on vacation like I have.

There is no cure for the blues better than going out to a blues club, concert or festival. I joined thousands of blues fans from all over the United States for KJAZZ 27th Annual Long Beach Blues Festival on the campus of Cal State Long Beach.

Sunday, September 3rd was the day I was in attendance to pick up my prescription of the blues. This was the last and final day of the blues festival that featured a smorgasbord of various hues of the blues.

The Campbell Brothers opened the festival with a spiritually, uplifting set of foot stomping, hand clapping, praiseworthy gospel music. For the un-initiated this is what you will experience at African American churches on any given Sunday. The grounds of the blues festival felt like a tent revival as the Campbell Brothers served the spiritual needs of the congregation (blues fans) with these songs - "Sign of The Judgement", "Fly Away", "I'll Take The Morning Train Home", "Bye and Bye", and "Don't Let The Devil Drive". The Choir (The Campbell Brothers) featured Phil Campbell - guitar/piano, Chuck Campbell - lap steel guitar, Derrick Campbell - lap steel guitar, Carl Campbell - drums, Malcolm Kirby - bass with Tiffany Goddatt and Denise Brown - vocals.

Kenny Neal - guitar, Billy Branch - harmonica and Carl Weathersby - guitar took the crowd to the delta with an acoustic set of blues with the song "Don't Get Me To Talking". Next, festival goers traveled north up the Mississippi River to the Bayous of Louisiana. Kenny Neal served swamp drenched blues on "Things That I Use To Do", "Since I Met You Baby", "Any Fool Will Do", and "Better Off With The Blues".

Vocalist Betty Lavette celebrated her 45th years in the entertainment business at the festival. She treated the audience to some of her hits from the past as well as some other gems: "He Made A Women Out Of Me", "Walking Out That Door", "Your Time To Cry", "My Joy", "Little Sparrow", "It Serves Him Right", "Souvenir", and closed her splendid set with "Don't Stop Falling In Love".

A cool summer breeze hovered over the festival grounds during the performance of Jerry "The Iceman" Butler. The band was augmented with a five piece horn section and a beautiful group of talented women in the string section. "The Iceman" delivered a top-notched performance of R&B, Soul, Blues, and Jazz classics. Mr. Butler's set list brought back many fond memories for the audience with hits such as "I Think About Cooling Out", "Moody Women", "Just Because of You", "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do", "Never Gonna Give You Up", "He Don't Love You Like I Love You", "Let It Be Me". He closed out his set by honoring the legacy of Jimmy Reed- ""Oh Baby; You Don't Have To Go", John Lee Hooker- "Boom, Boom, Boom" and Duke Ellington- "I'm Just A Lucky So and So", "Don't Mean A Thing; If It Don't Got That Swing", "Satin Doll", "Don't Get Around Much Anymore", and closed out his marvelous set with "Western Union", and "My Funny Valentine".

Vocalist Joe Cocker closed out the KJAZZ 27th Annual Long Beach Blues Festival with a set of soulful hits from the past "I'm Feeling Alright", "You Are So Beautiful", and "Up Where We Belong" were some of the highlights of his entertaining set.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:01 AM

September 8, 2006

"Jazz In The Park", the 4th Annual Inglewood Jazz Festival 2006

Photos and Text by Ricky Richardson

Inglewood - I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate the end of summer than by going to Edward Vincent Jr. Park in Inglewood for "Jazz In The Park". Southbay Entertainment Group, along with the City of Inglewood, presented "Jazz In The Park", the 4th Annual Inglewood Jazz Festival on Saturday, September 2nd, 2006.

The event featured a stellar line-up of nationally renowned contemporary smooth jazz and R&B artist. Keyboardist Bob Baldwin opened the show with some original tunes from previous CD's. Mr. Baldwin was making a return engagement from last year's festival to the delight of the huge crowd of contemporary smooth jazz buffs.

DavidGarfield_Inglewood.jpgThe David Garfield Project and 3rd Force played a set of musical treats that contributed to the over all success of the festival.

DJ Jonathan Phillips played music in between sets that kept the crowd continually dancing.

The second half of the festival featured a trio of audience favorite performers.

Vocalist Regina Belle featured material from her latest CD Lazy Afternoon. She sang songs that brought back fond memories to me and the audience. Ms Belle performed "Living For The City" by the Isley Brothers, "Make It Like It Was", and "Ooh Boy!" "Fly Me To The Moon", "Show Me", "Write Me A Letter", "If I Could", "Give Me The Heat of Your Passion", "and concluded with "Baby Come To Me". Regina Belle received a roaring standing ovation.

EricDarius_Inglewood.jpgSaxophonist Eric Darius has been heating up the contemporary smooth jazz community. He has two critically acclaimed CD's out Night On The Town and Just Getting Started. The titled of his last CD is letting the smooth jazz community know that he plans on being around for the long haul. A thunderous applause welcomed and greeted Eric before he played his first note. Mr. Darius continued to build up a repoir with the audience with his selection of songs that he performed. "Love TKO", "If I Can't Have You" by Alicia Keys, "Now's The Time", "Let's Stay Together" and finished his fantastic set with "Europa" by Gato Barbieri.

Keyboardist Bobby Lyle, guitarist Paul Jackson Jr., and Peabo Bryson were the GRAND FINALE to the 4th Annual Inglewood Jazz Festival "Jazz In The Park". They all performed superbly as individuals and collectively to solidify their standing in the music world.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:51 AM

September 7, 2006

Veteran Smooth Jazz Group Loses Founding Member

Saxophonist Hollis Gentry dies two years after car accident.

HollisGentry_bw.jpgSaxophonist Hollis Gentry, who helped found the San Diego-based Smooth Jazz group Fattburger more than 20 years ago, has died at age 51. It was two years ago that Gentry was involved in a serious automobile accident in San Diego. He had been through rehabilitation, but entered a hospice a few weeks ago after his health began to worsen. He died on Tuesday, Sept. 5, at his home.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in music composition and a master’s in music technology, Gentry and childhood friend and keyboardist Carl Evans Jr. founded Fattburger, which garnered a huge local following in San Diego and eventually became well-known in the U.S. and overseas, especially in Japan. In addition, Gentry was a teacher who counted Kirk Whalum among his students, and he also toured with such superstars as Al Jarreau, Larry Carlton and Joe Sample.

Evans recalls that a benefit concert for Gentry – held after his 2004 accident and featuring Fattburger and Hollis’ childhood friend Nathan East – meant a lot to the saxophonist:

"He was really pleased to see some footage on the news about the benefit concert for him," Evans said. "And he was just really touched. Just really surprised and really overwhelmed. "

Funeral services will be held Sept. 15 in San Diego.

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Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:26 PM

September 6, 2006

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. (http://www.cd1019.com/feature/liberty_jazz.aspx); (http://www.starledger.com/)

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

Posted by Peter Böhi at 11:24 PM

September 4, 2006

Madeleine Peyroux Readies New Record ‘Half The Perfect World’ Release Is Set For September 12 On Rounder Records

Major Fall Tour Planned

MadeleinePeyroux.jpgMadeleine Peyroux, the smoky voiced singer whose remarkable recent success made her one of the major surprise hit stories of last year, has completed work on her new album titled Half the Perfect World, set for release September 12 on Rounder Records. Peyroux spent the month of April in Los Angeles recording with producer Larry Klein, who also worked with the singer on her worldwide million selling smash Careless Love. Klein recently told the Wall St. Journal that Peyroux is working with an “expanded palette,” while the newspaper predicted the new album “may expand...her audience.”

Besides landing on top ten album of the year lists in Newsweek and the Wall St. Journal among many other critical coups, Careless Love is nearing Gold in the US with another 600,000 for the rest of the world. It’s Gold in the UK, France and Australia.

Plans are in the works for major touring in the Fall. For more information on Half the Perfect World and the Madeleine Peyroux tour visit http://www.rounder.com/?id=artistHome.php

Founded in 1970, Rounder Records is America's premier independent label. Rounder and its Zoë, Heartbeat, Philo and Bullseye Blues imprints have a catalog of over 3000 albums, representing a wide variety of folk, roots, rock, blues, and reggae music.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:04 PM

September 3, 2006

Contempo September 2006

EveretteHarp_LB2006.jpgTrue to the title concept of his debut album on Shanachie, saxophonist Everette Harp has passionately dedicated himself to blowing heavily In The Moment since his first self-titled, George Duke-produced disc came out on Blue Note in 1992. His robust, urgent voice is still a solid part of the smooth jazz landscape, but like so many of his peers, he’s no longer creating those magic moments with the marketing power of a major label behind him.

Back in the early days of the genre, before the New Adult Contemporary format was officially dubbed “smooth jazz,” majors — inspired partly by the enormous success of gold and platinum selling artists like Kenny G and Najee — would cultivate new saxmen for their unique sound and give them a hefty budget and full autonomy over their tracks. The more successful the format became over the years, however, the more it began stressing the importance of airplay singles — and, according to Harp, the artist’s identity became secondary to the need for instant hits. Record companies who were once the groundbreakers and tastemakers were suddenly taking dictation from radio stations, and musical creativity became secondary to scoring that next #1 single.

As a result of the shifting landscape, majors these days are largely out of the smooth jazz game, and veterans like Everette Harp, Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, Najee and Richard Elliot have all found healthy homes on independent labels. Before landing at Shanachie — which helped make In The Moment Harp’s very first disc to debut at the top of Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Chart — the saxman had to endure the struggle of watching his previous effort, the solid All For You, get lost in the tumble of the once thriving A440 Music.

“The biggest change that has occurred with the rise of indie labels is that there are so many more artists out there vying for airplay and chart space,” says Harp. “It seems like everyone can put out a record now, and the most important thing is that they play a nice melody. In the early days of smooth jazz, and even in the heyday of jazz fusion, everyone who put out an album was a solid artist with the potential to endure. Companies would only sign viable players with a distinct vibe. That fit me perfectly because in the mix with the pop songs I write I always like to stay away from the norm and play hard. Now, labels will sometimes put out artists who simply emulate the sound that radio wants. So things get a bit diluted.”

Harp seems to have found the best of both worlds at Shanachie, which actually had its eye on him as a potential artist for their roster even as A440 was folding. “They’re really a well-oiled machine, and they knew from the start what they wanted to do with me,” he says. “They approached me and told me they didn’t just want one hit record and out, but were committed to me for the long haul. The fact that I debuted at #1 speaks volumes. They put their money where their promises were.”

Still mindful of what today’s marketplace demands, Harp chose Rex Rideout to help him keep his sometimes overly artsy tendencies in check. Rideout, a proven genre hitmaker with credits that include Gerald Albright, Najee, Richard Elliot and Boney James, produced one cut on All For You. This time, Harp used him as a sounding board throughout and he co-produced six cuts, including the gospel blues explosion “Holla” (with Paul Jackson, Jr. on guitar), the sweet seduction “Just As You Are,” and the sizzling and brassy, throbbing retro blues track “No Bout A Doubt It.” Harp trusted his own instincts and produced the track that became In the Moment’s first single, “Monday Speaks,” which was written by labelmate Chuck Loeb and features Norman Brown.

“Rex is musical enough so that he doesn’t handcuff me, but if I got self-indulgent on a solo at any point, he’d kindly sway me back to reality,” Harp says. “Because this album marks another new beginning for me, I wanted to make some changes in my writing and production approach, and Rex was the first person I thought of to help me get to the next level. On the personal side, I just love his vibe, and he’s a great guy and an extraordinary musician. I knew we were onto something when we wrote four songs in the first four days we hung out together!”

Harp has an easy answer for the logical question of why he stays in the game when such a corporate, cookie cutter mentality has largely taken over for the true fostering of creativity that existed when he began his solo career 14 years ago. “The romantic answer for me and my fellow artists is, that’s what we do,” he says. “We each have an audience who loves what we do and supports us. It becomes like a drug you want more of. For me, it’s just so incredible to get out there and play for the fans, knowing some of the personal stories about how my music has impacted their lives. Playing the sax is a God given ability, and nothing can really interfere with the joy of just doing everything I can to express gratitude for the gift.”


British born neo-soul influenced guitarist Chris Standring is another smooth jazz artist newly signed to an indie label (Trippin’ N Rhythm) who perfectly balances radio friendliness and a more trad jazz expressiveness on the eminently listenable Soul Express. While he produced ten of the slightly chill oriented light funk tracks with his longtime partner, old school groove keyboardist Rodney Lee, Standring turned to the genre’s premiere hitmaking producer, Paul Brown, for assistance on the sensual, catchy and sweetly atmospheric mid-tempo tune which became the obvious first single, “I Can’t Help Myself.”

“Artists can get self-indulgent and guys like Paul know where we have to stop,” says the guitarist. “I brought him the song and he told me to keep the track but rewrite the melody, especially the chorus, and it worked. Aside from pushing me to write a catchier tune, he’s brilliant in the mixing room. He’s good at understanding simplicity and what a song needs. He’s a bridge between the artist and the listener.”

While Soul Express — also the name of his packaged touring group with Jeff Lorber and singer Jody Watley - is chock full of shimmering tracks in this vein, Standring goes slightly bop with his crisp improvisational playing on the final two tracks, the Booker T flavored “Shooting Stars” and especially “Giant Steps,” a Coltrane standard which keeps the familiar solo section but includes reharmonized verses. Standring always loved Pat Metheny’s bossa version, and here achieves the definitive electronica take.

“With smooth jazz radio being so conservative these days, it’s not always an easy climate to make a fresh recording in,” he says. “It’s interesting that chill is now so popular because my first album Velvet in 1998 had that very European vibe to it. The key for me has always been to make music I enjoy playing and making the best record I can in a way that’s true to myself.”


Personal Tastes

1) Angelyna Martinez, Labor of Love (Mexiscott Music) – This San Antonio native has been dubbed the “Gwen Stefani of Jazz” for her unique, sexy and breathy vocal stylings, which weave a sensuous magic on sparse trio arrangements of Billie Holliday chestnuts and add explosive new energy to “Route 66” and a scorching big band arrangement (with scat galore) of “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).”
2) Merle Jagger, Rancho Los Angeles (LPJ Records)
3) John Pizzarelli/The Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Dear Mr. Sinatra (Telarc)
4) Jim Self, Innerplay (Basset Hound Records)
5) Jon Faddis, Teranga (Koch Records)


New and Noteworthy

1) Greg Vail, The Gospel Truth Revisited (Greg Vail Music)
2) Jack Prybylski, Window Shopping (SuShan Music)
3) Bill Cantos, Love Wins (GIC Productions)
4) Andy Snitzer, Some Quiet Place (Native Language)
5) Tiba, Jukebox Baby (Fynsworth Alley)

Posted by Jonathan Widran at 9:44 PM

September 2, 2006

Ripps Continue 20th Anniversary Tour In Vegas

The Rippingtons, featuring Russ Freeman, continue the 20th Anniversary Tour with a stopover in Vegas, one night only, at the Santa Fe Hotel, in the Chrome Showroom, September 8th. Preceding the Ripps the week before will be one of the hottest smooth jazz guitarists on the scene today, Paul Brown, also appearing in Chrome at the Santa Fe, September 2nd.

Best wishes go out to the family and fans of trumpet legend Maynard Ferguson, who's recent passing left a hole in the jazz world. He was scheduled to appear at the Santa Fe following the Rippingtons on Saturday, September 9th. He was 78 years old.

Chartbusting vocalist/songwriter Brian McKnight will perform his hits in the Dallas Events Center at Texas Station on September 15th.

And the following week, back in the Chrome Showroom at the Santa Fe, are the super talents of the Larry Coryell, Victor Bailey, and Lenny White Trio on September 22nd, followeed byt the smooth soprano sax sounds of Marion Meadows in the same venue the following night.

Jazz Under The Stars #3 with trumpeter Rick Braun, along with the mystical jazz of Hiroshima kick it up in the cool mountain air at the Spring Mountain State Park, Saturday, September 2nd. The event is presented by longtime jazz promoter Michael Schivo.

Rocky Gordon, and his band KGB, will perform for the Jazz Sunday Brunch in the Envy Steakhouse in the Renaissance Hotel, hosted by Smooth Jazz 105.7 The Oasis.

Posted by Danny Desart at 12:03 AM | TrackBack