November 30, 2006

What We're Listening To * November

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

Shilts, Headboppin (Artizen)

Richard S. & The Vibe Tribe, Cools Shoes (Lipstick Records)

Herbie Hancock, The New Standard (Polygram Records)

Ronny Jordan, A Brighter Day (Blue Note Records)

Wilton Felder, Let's Spend Some Time (Bcs Records)

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

Candy Dulfer - 'Mister Marvin' from Sax-A-Go-Go 1993 RCA

Boney James and Rick Braun - 'Grazin in the Grass' from Shake It Up 2000 Warner Bros

Jeff Kashiwa - 'Hyde Park' from Another Door Opens 2000 Native Language

Eric Marienthal - 'One Day in Venice' from Turn Up the Heat 2001 Peak

Euge Groove - 'Rewind' from Play Date 2002 Warner Bros

D E N I S * P O O L E

'Slow and Easy' by Michael Vince from his debut EP of the same name. Paul Brown produces.

'Bright Spot' by Jack Prybylski from his CD Window Shopping. This collaboration with Ken Navarro is a winner.

'Across The Sea' by Dan Siegel from his current release Departure. This is vintage Siegel and then some.

'Everyday Routine' by Quintin Gerard W from his forthcoming Perseverance. Wonderful R & B infused contemporary jazz.

'They Love Like This' by Sophia Darcell from her brand new CD Soul Eclectic. It has the ability to cross the divide between soul and jazz.

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

Jim Brickman, Escape (SLG)

George Benson & Al Jarreau, Givin’ It Up (Concord)

Alan Hewitt, Metropolis (215 Records)

Michael Manson, Just Feelin’ It (215 Records)

Steve Cole, True (Narada Jazz)

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

Brian Simpson, It's All Good, Rendevous, 2005)

Doc Powell, Doc Powell (Heads Up)

Harry Hmura, Face to the Sun, (Stormcloud, 2006)

Brian Culbertson, Soulful Christmas (GRP, 2006)

Philippe Saisse Trio, Body and Soul (Rendevous, 2006)

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

Bobby Darin, Seeing Is Believing (Hyena); The king of cool comes alive on this DVD with 20 songs from various live recordings. "Mack the Knife," "Beyond the Sea" and "If I Were a Carpenter" are included of course, but so are tender versions of Bread's "If" and Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline." This DVD was compiled in conjection with the Bobby Darin Estate and is an important piece of American musical history.

Paolo Rustichelli, Neopagan (Next Age): Italian film composer and producer Paolo Rustichelli uses only computer softeware for this recording, but it's still pretty cool. He fuses 1970s new age music, contemporary jazz and World Beat and even does some singing. Different is good.

Brian Culbertson, A Soulful Christmas (GRP): Not what you'd think. Instead of going for the mellow groove of his last studio CD, Culbertson instead has a jazzy good time with Christmas chestnuts and an original song titled "All Throught the Christmas Night" with husky Michael McDonald.

Matt Catingub Orchestra of Hawaii, Return to Romance (Mountain Apple): It's impossible not to love a CD that begins with a lounge version of "Can't Help Falling in Love." But saxophonist Dave Koz and vocalist Patti Austin are also on this CD of romantic songs that has its happy heart in the right place. Very cool.

Various Artists, Forever, For Always, For Luther Vol. II (Rendezvous): The second edition of smooth jazz musicians covering the late Luther Vandross features an all-star cast and first-rate intepretations. A goodie: Patti Austin on "So Amazing."

P E T E R * B O E H I

Lionel Jones - Papa Jones (2006)
Beautiful album by vibes player Lionel Jones featuring soft r&b songs and cool instrumentals featuring the leader. A gem!

Jamhunters - Jamhunters (2006)
Soft, smooth, soulful and relaxed vibes featuring great Wes inspired guitar playing and memorable melodies. Despite a few groovier tracks, this is a great album to chill and unwind!

Michael Paulo - Beautiful (2004)
This veteran sax player delivers another top notch smooth jazz album boasting an a-list of session players and great songs. "When Time Stood Still" is a favorite a SmoothVibes radio. Recommended!

Mark Maxwell - Saxual Healing (2006)
Ultra cool smooth jazz album by sax player Mark Maxwell with a laid back chill vibe. Very nice!

Bill McGee
- Chase The Sunset (2006)
Latest release by this great trumpet player who comes up with another great smooth jazz album full of smooth playing and a great selection of material. Very recommended!

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 8:56 PM

November 25, 2006

Berks Jazz Festival Announces 2007 Line-Up

BerksJazzFest_Logo.jpgFor most people, the chilly nip in November air signals that winter is just around the corner, but for jazz enthusiasts it means that spring can't be far off. For us, spring is synonymous with Berks Jazz Fest. Just as spring breathes new life into our surroundings, Berks Jazz Fest breathes new life in the form of music into our souls. As we eagerly anticipate the arrival of our music, we're reminded how dependent we are on this yearly renewal we call Berks.

Artists seem to enjoy returning to Berks as often as they can, making it fair to say that they, too, take something very special with them to last the whole year through. The festival dates are set for March 16 0- 25th, 2007, giving artists and fans alike yet another opportunity to renew friendships and add new fans, artists and experiences to their lists of treasured memories.

The line-up has been announced, and with the predictability of leaves tumbling to the ground in fall, some of us in the Jazz Circle began lining up at 8 AM (some before that) to purchase tickets at the Sovereign Center and the Sovereign Performing Arts Center in downtown Reading. Yes, it was a chilly morning, but it was worth the wait to get some good seats from which to listen and enjoy the music at the various venues featured this year. Others in the Jazz Circle were busily ordering tickets online or dialing into Ticketmaster. (Note: Jazz Circle membership is open to all. You can join during the festival or at other times throughout the year to enjoy the privilege of early ticket ordering as well as other membership features.)

Note: Jazz Circle Members began ordering tickets Saturday, November 25th. Tickets go on sale to the public on December 2nd at 10 AM. Ticket information and a link to artist profiles, written by our own Jonathan Widran, appear at the end of this article, as well as the dates of the major ticketed events.

Click below to read an excerpt from the Berks Jazz Fest website itself, giving a preview of artists and venues for ticketed events:

You don’t have to sift through a lot of clues to figure out why the FirstEnergy Berks Jazz Fest owns a timeshare among the world’s elite music festivals. The 17th annual Berks Jazz Fest, presented by the Berks Arts Council, runs March 16-25, 2007, and features an abundance of great artists, a plethora of wonderfully intimate venues, a schedule of staggering scale and exquisite ensemble concerts.

As usual, the Berks festival features a marvelous medley of musical styles -- contemporary jazz, traditional jazz, big band, blues and more -- at more than 130 events at major venues, clubs and restaurants throughout Reading and Berks County. Once again, its star power could populate a good-sized galaxy.

DavidSanborn_BNL.jpg Among the spectacular featured artists are urban jazz saxophonist Boney James; legendary saxophonist David Sanborn; the ever-popular Guitars & Saxes featuring saxophonists Gerald Albright and Kirk Whalum and guitarists Jeff Golub and Tim Bowman; esteemed pianist/composer Dave Brubeck; saxophonist Nelson Rangell; keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist Philippe Saisse; guitarist Joyce Cooling; guitarist Pat Martino; saxophonist Mindi Abair; guitarist Chuck Loeb; singer/songwriter Ann Hampton Callaway; the Denis DiBlasio Quintet; bassist Gerald Veasley’s Electric Mingus Project with special guest violinist John Blake; vocalist Kevin Mahogany; saxophonist David Liebman; the Sax Pack featuring Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters and Steve Cole; saxophonist Warren Hill; guitarist Nick Colionne; Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band; and the Berks All-Star Jazz Jam featuring Rick Braun, Chuck Loeb, Gerald Veasley, Richard Elliot, Nick Colionne, Warren Hill and Joe McBride.

Then there are such soul-drenching blues artists as the Keb' Mo' Band; guitarist Tab Benoit; Frank Bey & Swing City Blues Band; electric guitarist Smokin' Joe Kubek featuring guitarist/singer Bnois King; vocalist Billy Price and his band; and pianist/saxophonist Deanna Bogart.

RickBraun_BNL.jpg A marquee attraction is the 17th Anniversary Concert, Rick Braun & Friends, that features the explosive trumpeter with powerhouse saxman Richard Elliot; gifted singer/guitarist Jonathan Butler; soulful saxophonist Jackiem Joyner; and dynamic drummer Rayford Griffin.

Now for the very special ensemble concerts being produced by music director and keyboardist Jason Miles:
DionneWarwick_BNL.jpg Celebrating the Life and Music of Luther Vandross, the late, multi-talented singer/songwriter, are Miles, co-music director and keyboardist Nat Adderley Jr.; legendary vocalist Dionne Warwick; guitarist Doc Powell; saxophonist Kirk Whalum; saxophonist Walter Beasley, vocalist James "D Train" Williams; vocalist Cissy Houston; vocalist Lisa Fischer; vocalist Paulette McWilliams; drummer Buddy Williams and bassist Tinker Barfield.

The world premiere Soul Summit concert features Miles along with vocalist/guitarist Susan Tedeschi; vocal artist Maysa; saxophonist Richard Elliot; Derek Trucks Band vocalist Mike Mattison; trumpeter Barry Danielian; saxophonist Andy Snitzer; drummer Steve Ferrone; bassist Bob Babbitt; guitarist Reggie Young; guitarist Sherrod Barnes and turntablist DJ Logic.

And there are even more special group concerts.

Both an Afternoon and an Evening of Heads Up features legendary Philadelphia-based super group Pieces of a Dream; pianist Bobby Lyle; saxophonist Marion Meadows; flutist Alexander Zonjic and bassist Gerald Veasley.

DavidBromberg_BNL.jpg The Downright Upright All-Stars feature bassist Brian Bromberg; drummer Dave Weckl; keyboardist Jeff Lorber; saxophonist Gary Meek; and trumpet and flugelhorn master Randy Brecker.

Tim Ries’ The Rolling Stones Project showcases Ries, the Stones’ saxophonist, playing Stones’ classics with a jazz interpretation along with trombonist Mike Davis, vocalist Bernard Fowler and guitarist Ben Monder.

The Trumpet Summit showcases a trinity of terrific trumpeters in Brian Lynch, Scott Wendholt and Alex Sipiagin performing with Dave Stahl, Reading's own esteemed trumpeter, and his Big Band.

So, as you can see, once again the FirstEnergy Berks Jazz Fest features a delicious smorgasbord of music!

Major ticketed events:

Friday, March 16 -- Dave Brubeck Quartet, Sovereign Performing Arts Center, 7:30 p.m., $46 and $39

Friday, March 16 -- Downright Upright All-Stars featuring Brian Bromberg, Randy Brecker, Jeff Lorber, Gary Meek and Dave Weckl, Sheraton Reading Hotel Ballroom, 10 p.m., $32

Saturday, March 17 -- An Afternoon of Heads Up featuring Pieces of a Dream, Bobby Lyle, Marion Meadows, Alexander Zonjic and Gerald Veasley, Sheraton Reading Hotel Ballroom, 2 p.m., $38 and $33

Saturday, March 17 -- Gerald Veasley's Electric Mingus Project with special guest John Blake, Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base at the Sheraton Reading Hotel, 7 p.m., $20

Saturday, March 17 -- Boney James, Sovereign Performing Arts Center, 7:30 p.m., $46 and $39

Saturday, March 17 -- An Evening of Heads Up featuring Pieces of a Dream, Bobby Lyle, Marion Meadows, Alexander Zonjic and Gerald Veasley, Sheraton Reading Hotel Ballroom, 10 p.m., $38 and $33

Sunday, March 18 -- Nelson Rangell and Philippe Saisse plus Joyce Cooling, Sheraton Reading Hotel Ballroom, 1:30 p.m., $25

Sunday, March 18 -- Celebrating the Life & Music of Luther Vandross: Dionne Warwick, Kirk Whalum, Walter Beasley, Cissy Houston, Doc Powell, James "D Train" Williams, Lisa Fischer, Paulette McWilliams, Buddy Williams, Tinker Barfield and music directors Jason Miles and Nat Adderley Jr., Sovereign Performing Arts Center, 7 p.m., $46 and $39.

Tuesday, March 20 -- Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band plus Berks High School All-Star Band, Scottish Rite Cathedral, 7:30 p.m., $18 and $10 for students with ID.

Wednesday, March 21 -- The Rolling Stones Project featuring Tim Ries, Mike Davis, Bernard Fowler and Ben Monder, Abraham Lincoln Hotel Ballroom, 7:30 p.m., $30

Thursday, March 22 -- Greg Hatza ORGANization, Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base at the Sheraton Reading Hotel, 7 p.m., $12

Thursday, March 22 -- Mindi Abair, The Abraham Lincoln Hotel Ballroom, 7:30 p.m., $30

Thursday, March 22 -- Berks All-Star Jazz Jam featuring Rick Braun, Chuck Loeb, Gerald Veasley, Richard Elliot, Nick Colionne, Warren Hill and Joe McBride, Sheraton Reading Hotel Ballroom, 10 p.m., $30

Friday, March 23 -- Pat Martino Quartet, Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base at the Sheraton Reading Hotel, 7 p.m., $28

Friday, March 23 -- Ann Hampton Callaway plus Denis DiBlasio Quintet, The Abraham Lincoln Hotel Ballroom, 7 p.m., $30

Friday, March 23 -- Keb' Mo' Band, Scottish Rite Cathedral, 7 p.m., $40 and $34

Friday, March 23 -- 17th Anniversary Concert: Rick Braun & Friends featuring Richard Elliot, Jonathan Butler, Jackiem Joyner and Rayford Griffin, Sovereign Performing Arts Center, 7:30 p.m., $46 and $39

Friday, March 23 -- Tab Benoit and Frank Bey & Swing City Blues Band, Inn at Reading, 9:30 p.m., $28

Friday, March 23 -- Pat Martino Quartet, Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base at the Sheraton Reading Hotel, 10:30 p.m., $28

Friday March 23 -- David Sanborn, Sheraton Reading Hotel Ballroom, 10:30 p.m., $38 and $33

Saturday, March 24 -- Ladies of Jazz featuring Toni Lynne, Sharon Bailey and Suzie Ernesto with The Last Big Band, The Abraham Lincoln Hotel Ballroom, 1 p.m., $20

Saturday, March 24 -- Warren Hill plus Nick Colionne, Sheraton Reading Hotel Ballroom, 1:30 p.m., $38 and $33.

Saturday, March 24 -- Tribute to Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane: Kevin Mahogany featuring saxophonist David Liebman, Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base at the Sheraton Reading Hotel, 7 p.m., $28

Saturday, March 24 -- World Premiere Concert: Soul Summit featuring Jason Miles, Steve Ferrone, Bob Babbitt, Reggie Young, DJ Logic and Sherrod Barnes plus special guests Susan Tedeschi, Maysa, Richard Elliot, Mike Mattison, Barry Danielian and Andy Snitzer, 7 p.m., $46 and $39

Saturday, March 24 -- Smokin' Joe Kubek featuring Bnois King plus Billy Price Band plus Deanna Bogart, Inn at Reading, 7 p.m., $35

Saturday, March 24 -- Trumpet Summit featuring guest trumpeters Brian Lynch, Scott Wendholt and Alex Sipiagin and Dave Stahl and his Big Band, The Abraham Lincoln Hotel Ballroom, 8 p.m., $25

Saturday, March 24 -- Tribute to Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane: Kevin Mahogany featuring saxophonist David Liebman, Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base at the Sheraton Reading Hotel, 10:30 p.m., $28

Saturday, March 24 -- The Sax Pack featuring Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters and Steve Cole, Sheraton Reading Hotel Ballroom, 10:30 p.m., $38 and $33

Sunday, March 25 -- Chuck Loeb featuring the Berks Jazz Fest Horns plus the WJJZ All-Stars Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters and Steve Cole, Sheraton Reading Hotel Ballroom, 1:30 p.m., $25

Sunday, March 25 -- Guitars & Saxes featuring Gerald Albright, Tim Bowman, Jeff Golub and Kirk Whalum, Scottish Rite Cathedral, 7 p.m., $46 and $39

To Read Artist Bios:

To Order Tickets:
Purchase online at
Sovereign Performing Arts Center Box Office, 136 N. Sixth St., Reading, PA 19601
Sovereign Center Box Office, Seventh and Penn Streets, Reading, PA 19602

I hope to see you in March at the 17th Annual Berks Jazz Festival!!

Happy Jazzin'

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

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 7:54 PM

November 24, 2006

Ken Navarro Releases New CD Online

Veteran guitarist will offer the CD in stores in January.

ken_navarro.jpgSmooth jazz guitarist Ken Navarro is now offering his 17th CD, The Meeting Place, exclusively online at The online release will be followed by a nationwide retail release on Jan. 23, 2007.

As with his CD, Love Coloured Soul, the new project is being released on Navarro's Positive Music record label. The Meeting Place features 10 new songs composed by Navarro and a cover of guitarist Pat Metheny’s "Lakes" from his 1977 album titled Watercolors.

Navarro recently added some videos and podcasts on his website for those who want to learn more about the CD.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:49 PM

November 22, 2006

Saxophonist Steve Cole plays True to his roots on new CD

Well-received album released today salutes the artist’s musical influences and hometown while showcasing his skills as a soloist
Demonstrating that one can be inspired to greatness by simply returning to their roots, contemporary jazz saxophonist Steve Cole released his fifth album, True, today from Narada Jazz/Blue Note Label Group.  Cole produced the collection and composed or co-wrote the nine new R&B, jazz, funk, dance and pop songs that comprise the disc. 
Through his previous albums, Cole established himself as a core artist in contemporary jazz.  His consistency as a songwriter and producer also merits recognition and respect as he’s scored four #1 radio hits and ten Top 5 singles since his 1998 debut.  True promises to add to Cole’s impressive accomplishments. 
The album title refers to a return to innocence, a return to the music that inspired Cole to explore his passion for jazz-funk made popular by artists such as Eddie Harris, Grover Washington, Jr., David Sanborn, Junior Walker and George Benson.  It was an era of well-crafted songs, live production and expressive music that emerged from the core of the artists’ being.  Those were the ingredients Cole used to create True.  He pushed himself to reach new heights delivering unadulterated artistry and organic musicianship.  He was inspired by the music that emerged from his hometown of Chicago where he still resides.  On the album, Cole salutes seminal Chicago pioneers such as jazz-funk legend Quincy Jones and soul icon Curtis Mayfield along with clubby house music, which emerged from the Chicago underground.  But broadening his saxwork and improvising were equally important objectives for Cole on True.  He sought to produce the record as “live” as possible, fostering the setting for expansive soloing.  A talented cast of musicians helped make True a reality, including Jeff Golub, Steve Rodby, David Mann, Ricky Peterson, Lenny Castro and Khari Parker
Last month, the house music-inspired cut “Metro,” boasting an extended sax solo that’s both expressive and functional, was serviced to smooth jazz radio stations where it is presently garnering airplay.  The early reaction to the album from music critics has been enthusiastic.  All Music Guide said, “If the title of this superior collection is indicative of the true persona that's here to stay, then genre fans will be in for a powerful adventure… Cole has scored many hits while on the road to finding his true voice, and with any luck, he'll stay right there as the perfect antidote to his less imaginative contemporaries.”  JazzReview wrote, “In this watershed album, Cole lets down his hair and goes for it, showing his talent in featured solos-- blending textures, melodies and awesome extremes… Cole states, ‘A lot of the substance of a player is evident once they get off the melody and start improvising.’  That’s exactly what Cole does on True, adding fresh notes, compelling hooks and smooth grooves.” 
Concert dates to support True are being scheduled for early next year.  For more information, please visit  To hear tracks from True, click

Posted by Peter Böhi at 2:41 PM

November 20, 2006

Hidden Beach Recordings Helps Music Lovers Get “Unwrapped” For The Holidays

Indie Label Releases Special, Four-Disc Box Set Of Groundbreaking Jazz/Hip-Hop Series – Including Bonus Material

On November 21, and just in time for the holidays, Hidden Beach Recordings (HBR) will release a special four-CD box set of its groundbreaking “Unwrapped” series, the widely popular collection of jazzy, instrumental interpretations of standout Hip Hop classics and recent chart-toppers. Officially titled Hidden Beach Recordings Presents: Unwrapped The Ultimate Box Set, the multi-disc compilation features re-sequenced and re-mastered songs from all four previously released Unwrapped CDs (Vols. 1-4), broken down into “old school” and “new school” themes, as well as bonus tracks and music videos culled from the life of the project.

Among the more than 50 songs included in the Box Set are jazzy takes on such Hip Hop standards as Notorious Big’s “One More Chance,” 50 Cent’s “In Da Club,” Outkast’s “The Way You Move,” Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story,” The Roots’ “I Got You,” Common’s “The Light,” Tupac’s “I Get Around,” Busta Rhymes’ “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See,” Nelly’s “Hot In Here,” A Tribe Called Quest’s “Electric Relaxation,” and the Terror Squad’s “Lean Back,” among many, many more.

These songs are given new life by some of the music industry’s most talented and accomplished instrumentalists, many of whom are featured across the span of all four Unwrapped editions. Included in this All-Star lineup are such notables as keyboardists Frank McComb, Jeff Lorber and Patrice Rushen; guitarists Paul Jackson Jr., Everett Harp and Dennis Nelson; violinist Karen Briggs; bassist Andrew Gouche; and flautist Louis Van Taylor, as well as Hidden Beach’s own sax sensation Mike Phillips, trombone impresario Jeff Bradshaw, and guitarist/singer Peter Black, among other leading musicians.

The Unwrapped series burst onto the music scene in 2001 with the critically acclaimed release of Unwrapped Vol. 1 and, without the benefit of national airplay or a high-priced marketing campaign, quickly went on to debut at the top spot on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Chart. Subsequent editions in 2002, 2004 and 2005 followed in the tradition of the premiere disc, all serving to build on the Hidden Beach legacy of fusing the two genres and building bridges between diverse music audiences.

Music producers Tony Joseph and Darryl Ross, who served to produce a majority of the material throughout the series, originally brought this specific concept, unnamed at the time, to HBR Founder/CEO Steve McKeever. The rest, as they say, is history.

The success of the Unwrapped series is best gauged by the impact it has had in the industry; it has spawned a number of copycat projects and, in many circles, the term “unwrapped” has come to be synonymous with the merging of jazz and Hip Hop.

The Box Set’s bonus material includes songs that were included on a limited edition version of Unwrapped Vol. 2 (Jay Z’s “Girls, Girls, Girls,” Junior Mafia’s “Get Money,” and Mystikal’s “Bouncin’ Back”), as well as music videos for “You Got Me,” “In Da Club,” and “Bouncin’ Back.” Also included are tribute medleys to fallen rappers Biggie, Tupac and Run DMC’s Jam Master Jay.


Based in Santa Monica, CA, Hidden Beach Recordings publicly bowed onto the entertainment scene in 2000 with the introduction of multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning vocal sensation Jill Scott. The label went on to release projects from such standout artists as award-winning songwriter/vocalist Brenda Russell, Kindred the Family Soul, saxman Mike Phillips, songstress Lina, gospel legend/Grammy-winner BeBe Winans, Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker, and trombone maestro Jeff Bradshaw, among others.

On October 17, Hidden Beach released the debut CD from TribalJazz, the multi-cultural jazz group led by John Densmore, the legendary drummer and co-founder of the seminal rock band The Doors. In 2007, the label will debut new Hidden Beach artists including vocalist/musician Keite Young, singer Leigh Jones, singer/guitarist Peter Black, and the Still Waters (HBR’s inspirational imprint) releases of song stylist Onitsha, and talented vocalist Sunny Hawkins.

The New Year will also bring a new studio album from Jill Scott, as well as a specialty compilation release of joint efforts between Scott and an eclectic array of hip hop, soul, instrumental, jazz, pop and gospel artists. The disc of wide-ranging collaborations shines a spotlight on the singer’s incredible diversity as she has teamed over the years with the likes of Sergio Mendes and of the Black Eyed Peas, Chris Botti, George Benson, Al Jarreau and Kirk Franklin, Lupe Fiasco, Common, The Roots and Will Smith. Also returning in 2007 will be such Hidden Beach favorites such as Kindred, Mike Phillips and Jeff Bradshaw.

Hidden Beach is distributed by Universal Music Group Distribution. Please visit for more information on Hidden Beach Recordings.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:37 AM

November 18, 2006

Marc Antoine And Rendezvous Part Ways

After two albums with Dave Koz’s Rendezvous Entertainment, guitarist Marc Antoine and the record label have decided to go their separate ways. Antoine is now close to signing a record deal with a new label. Antoine's seventh CD, released in August of 2005, is titled Modern Times and featured the hit “Bella Via.”

Antoine's debut for Rendezvous, Mediterraneo, included the No. 1 song of the same name, which was his fourth song to top the smooth jazz singles chart – the others were "On the Strip," "Mas Que Nada" and "Sunland." Antoine, who is 43 years old, lives in Spain with his wife Rebeca and young son Alejandro.

Antoine is now back on the smooth jazz charts thanks to pianist Jim Brickman and his song Escape, on which of course Antoine plays guitar.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:01 PM

November 13, 2006

The Renowned Rock Group Toto Will Be Rocking The City Of Dubai With Jazz

The legendary rock group, Toto, have confirmed their participation in the 5th edition of the Dubai International Jazz Festival 2007. This leg is the band’s first gig in any Arab world.

Toto.jpgA band like Toto, has become a worldwide household name, with at least a disc or two on every music rack that includes songs dating back to the late 70s, songs we grew up listening to, songs we’ve heard on every radio station, hits that lived on and on and no matter how much we think that music evolved, we keep coming back and humming Toto’s songs unwillingly.

Toto is one of the rare gems of rock music, a band with its front man guitar player, Steve Lukather who have influenced generations of rock stars and other inspiring artists just like Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix did.

But the band doesn’t fall short of a legendary line up besides Lukather, stars whom each have also their own independent work and have played with other legendary artists, the likes of Simon Philips on drums, Mike Porcaro on Bass, Bobby Kimball on Vocals, Greg Phillinganes on keyboards and vocals and David Paich on Keyboards and vocals too.

Anthony Younes, Managing Director Of Chillout Productions, the founders and Organizers of the Dubai International Jazz Festival, said: “I am so excited to have arranged this leg for the Dubai International Jazz Festival 2007. I have a clear vision of the audience watching Toto live, yes I can see endless waves of fans stoned immaculate while witnessing how Steve Lukather and Toto are continuing to hone their chops and progress musically, up to perfection.”

And by the time Toto reach Dubai, they will be celebrating their 30th anniversary with songs that defy taste or musical back ground, hits such as "Rosana", "Stop Loving you", "Hold the Line" and "Africa" to name a few.

And with the release of their new Album, Falling In Between, nothing short of excellence and genius”, Toto will not only be playing their classical repertoire but also some new and fresh material that includes Toto’s most innovative sounds, songs in which Toto have upped and revamped their musical tastes and ideas and retooled them for a new generation.

Yes after 7 years of original studio inactivity one of the world’s most favorite bands returns with a dynamic illustration of why this group of 6 can be considered the most talented rock group ever assembled and lucky Dubai will be the eye witness to why Toto won 4 Grammy Awards and why each member has played on most of our best songs ever recorded.

“If anything, the band is stronger and vital than ever and they’re flying to Dubai to show a definite resurgence in their live musical powers. Toto live at the Dubai International Jazz Festival is already a divine memory written down in the chapters of history before their arrival here. And who knows maybe next year we’ll be resurrecting Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison.” Said Anthony laughing.

In almost 30 years, with some of the most skillful, interesting, and great music ever recorded, Toto who have already received their own star on Vienna's Walk Of Stars at the Gasometer on August 17th 2006, is not to be missed live at The Dubai International Jazz Festival 2007.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 2:24 PM

November 12, 2006

Contempo November 2006

Dan Siegel’s output since his late 80s-early 90s radio heyday may be a bit spotty, but every few years, the versatile keyboardist comes back with a gem that reminds us just why he was so influential in smooth jazz’s toddler years. Almost two decades ago, he helped define the melodic joys of the genre with his bestselling album Northern Nights and still-played radio hits like “Rhapsody.”

In those days, Siegel was setting trends, and now, over 25 years into his recording career, he’s happily defying them with his second Native Language disc that truly lives up to its moniker as a Departure from his tried and true approach. An all acoustic, live in the studio date featuring three performers who are as adept at straight ahead as smooth jazz - bassist Brian Bromberg, saxman Bob Sheppard and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta - the collection effortlessly mixes Siegel’s grooving pop sensibilities with his traditional jazz roots.

Like his fellow contemporary jazz fellow statesmen Tom Scott and Lee Ritenour, Siegel has always had an equal love for bebop even while cranking out the pop and funk. Departure doesn’t quite jaunt into that sacred territory, but the organic setup allows for a lot of jazzy spontaneity within his usual accessible framework. He’s come full circle with Colaiuta, who played the skins way back when on Northern Nights.

“I don’t want to scare anyone away, but this is a concept I’ve been wanting to do for a long time,” he says. “I always wanted to play in the context of traditional jazz with a drummer playing brushes, and the ambience created by all unplugged instruments. We cut all the tracks live, and people don’t just make records like this anymore, particularly in smooth jazz where commerce unfortunately takes precedence sometimes over art. Going into these sessions, I wanted to see what would happen if you put four guys together with some basic song structures, and just let all of us do what comes naturally to us.”

Siegel_Departure.jpgSiegel has high praise for his cohorts, particularly Bromberg, who wound up co-producing Departure. “I’ve worked with Vinnie many times, and he played on my big hits,” he says. “A lot of the tunes here took different turns because of the way he turned the groove upside down. To me, Bob Sheppard is the ultimate sax player and I felt at ease giving him more complex harmonies. I had never recorded with Brian before, but he was immediately interested once Vinnie hooked us up. He’s a great big picture kind of guy, willing to forgo the little details to make sure I was always on track. These guys helped me reconnect with my lifelong love for Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett. Their playing inspired me years ago and still affects me.”

The first two tracks, the soaring, wordless vocal enhanced “Across The Sea” and the easy strutting funk tune “Street Talk” (featuring Norman Brown), show that Siegel can still be radio friendly, no matter the instrumentation. Although being on a smooth jazz oriented label like Native Language means there has to be a “hit single,” the keyboardist stuck to the integrity of the overall project by giving it what he calls an “old school CTI early 70s George Benson flavor.”

Siegel starts digging deep on “Mosaic,” whose dark and shadowy piano and sax textures rise coolly over the gentle rumble of bass and drums. The title track opens in a moody tone, then goes sunny with a spirited piano romp over aggressive high hat percussion and a bubbly bassline. Siegel contrasts this vibe with a breezy Vince Guaraldi sensibility on “Shades of Gray” (which features Grant Geissman on guitar). He can try all he wants to be gloomy, but at heart, Siegel is an optimistic romantic who has always had a great facility to write heart-tugging ballads. The emotional core of Departure is three songs in this vein: “From Here On Out,” “A World Away” and the elegant closer “Alone,” which includes Colaiuta’s restrained brushes and Sheppard’s soaring, lyrical sax.

For Siegel, introducing his built in smooth jazz audience an artsier side may incur a slight commercial risk, but in this current radio hit driven climate — where “cutting edge” means doing an album without generic cover songs — it’s easily one of the most inspired outings of the year. “Anytime you hire Vinnie or Brian, there’s going to be an element of brilliance that most smooth jazz today just doesn’t have,” he says. “This was a record I made out a desire to go in and play in a more organic way. Anytime you put an acoustic bass in there, it’s going to sound more classic, less modern and funky, a little sideways or taken down a notch. I’d like to pursue this kind of subtle ensemble thing in the future.”

The only possible frustration in Brian Simpson’s incredible emergence as a genre solo artist this year — which includes a #1 smooth jazz radio single with the title track from his Rendezvous Music debut It’s All Good — is that it should have happened over a decade ago. Back in 1995, the versatile keyboardist released the equally infectious Closer Still on Michael Paulo’s then thriving label Noteworthy Records. The disc was ahead of its time in two ways — it had an unmistakable urban flavor that would soon become the genre’s dominant vibe, and included a jamming cover (almost a requirement these days) of Janet Jackson’s “Because of Love,” an ode to his time briefly touring with the superstar.

In the intervening years, Simpson built up a ton of goodwill among genre fans as Dave Koz’s keyboardist and musical director. Even while building an incredible resume as a sideman (Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Larry Carlton, Gerald Albright), Simpson has always been working on demos of his own music. When Koz and two partners launched Rendezvous a few years ago, they liked what Simpson showed them and encouraged him to the point where his label debut would be chock full of potential hits.

The good news for fans into deeper music is that Simpson’s idol as a kid growing up in Chicago was Oscar Peterson. While he always adds a spunky sense of improvisation into his pop tunes, he balances airplay friendly tunes like “It’s All Good” and the follow-up single “Saturday Cool” with the contemplative “Blues for Scott” and the raucous, happy bebop-flavored jam “Au Contraire.”
“I have a unique style of writing, and since I’m a real jazz musician, listeners are going to hear a real jazz soloist, rather than just a nice melody and fancy production,” says Simpson, whose big band at Northern Illinois University once toured with Clark Terry. “I have to put a little meaty bebop into what I play because it’s the music I loved growing up. In this format, you sort of have to sneak it in, but it’s there for those who listen closely.

“Piano is a much harder instrument to write for than sax,” he adds, “but my songs play to its strengths, doing the melody with my right hand and comping or adding edgier chords with the left. Becoming a full-fledged solo artist has taken me a long time, but a radio hits works wonders. I play the first notes of ‘It’s All Good’ and fans start cheering. At Tokyo’s Blue Note, I was billed equally with Dave Koz and Kirk Whalum. Not only is it all good, it’s kind of unbelievable!”


1) Jeanne Newhall, Wild Blue (Blix Street) – Bookending her gently beautiful and haunting originals with an ethereal take on Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” and a graceful soft jazz take on “These Foolish Things,” the versatile, classically trained pianist and singer proves masterful in finding subtle ways to touch the heart.
2) The Matt Savage Trio, Quantum Leap (Savage Records)
3) Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, The Phat Pack (Immergent)
4) Corinne Bailey Rae (Capitol)
5) Bill Cantos, Love Wins (GIC Productions)


1) J Thompson, Inside World (AMH Records)
2) Patrick Yandall, Samoa Soul (Zangi Records)
3) Marilyn Scott, Innocent of Nothing (Prana Entertainment)
4) Jazzmasters V (Trippin N’ Rhythm)
5) Joyce Cooling, Revolving Door (Narada Jazz)

Posted by Jonathan Widran at 1:20 PM

November 11, 2006

Jack Prybylski - Window Shopping

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. Window Shopping is the latest CD release from Buffalo, New York sax man Jack Prybylski (purr-bill-ski). It was his 2002 effort Soho Strut that started to get him noticed and which garnered the Internet radio single ‘Mandalay Bay’ but now, with excellent support from none other than Ken Navarro, Window Shopping has the potential to move Prybylski to the centre of where it’s at in the world of contemporary jazz. Prybylski first came to Navarro’s attention when a mutual friend suggested that he should contact Jack for ideas on Internet radio resources. The two hit it off and when Jack asked if Navarro would play a part with the new CD he was delighted to accept. This involvement has extended to production, mixing, performing and, in addition, writing the tune ‘Bright Spot’ that has been selected as the first from the album to be lifted for radio play.

The influences that came Prybylski’s way as he grew up listening to bands with big horn sections and to players like Tom Scott permeate his current work and the opening track, the up beat ‘Night Flyer’, has Scott written all over it. However Prybylski can do mellow with the best of them and the restrained ‘I Need You’, where Navarro’s guitar adds hugely, checks all the right boxes of romantic smooth jazz. In similar vein is the title track. Its beauty comes courtesy of Navarro and its full sound is delivered on the wave of a pleasing sax riff and cool Hammond B3 from Jay Rowe. The one vocal track on the album, ‘Don’t Say No’, has JJ Moscato doing the honours and engendering something of an Ambrosia feel while the smoky ‘3 Cats’, bound together with a tight beat, is both laid back yet melodic.

Prybylski provides a jazzy twist to his generally regulation cover of the Stevie Wonder staple ‘I Wish’ and drifts a little off message with the experimental rendition of ‘Space Lion’ from the Japanese anime concept Cowboy Bebop. Bringing it closer to home Ken Navarro kicks open the door on ‘Santa Faustina’ with his urgent Latin playing before handing off to Prybylski who, with his own full sound, keeps the vibe very much south of the border. All that said the killer cut remains ‘Bright Spot’. This text book example of mid tempo contemporary jazz stands out as one of the best tunes of 2006.

For more on Jack Prybylski and to buy Window Shopping go to

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

Posted by Denis Poole at 12:33 PM

November 7, 2006

Dave Koz Finalizes Track Listing For Soundtrack CD

The saxophonist adds Donna Summer and a Judy Garland sample.

Saxophonist Dave Koz has completed his highly anticipated, fully orchestrated CD titled At the Movies, which he says he created to help show the crucial role music plays in film. A late addition to Koz’s eighth studio album was ‘70s disco diva Donna Summer, who sings “A Whole New World” from the Disney animated motion picture Aladdin. In addition, a sample from the late Judy Garland leads off the album and Koz’s version of “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz.

Other guest artists include India Arie (“It Might Be You” from Tootsie), Anita Baker (“Somewhere” from West Side Story), Barry Manilow (“Moon River” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s), Johnny Mathis and Chris Botti (“Shadow Of Your Smile” from the Love Theme From The Sandpiper) and Vanessa Williams (“The Way We Were” from the film of the same name).

The CD also includes instrumentals of the themes from Casablanca, Schindler’s List, Cinema Paradiso, Pink Panther and Summer of ’42.

Koz currently has a Top 30 smooth jazz hit with the instrumental version of “It Might Be You” that features guitarist Peter White. The song is from Tootsie.

At the Movies

1. Over The Rainbow (With Judy Garland sample)
2. Moonriver (With Barry Manilow)
3. As Time Goes By
4. Somewhere (With Anita Baker)
5. The Shadow Of Your Smile (Love Theme from The Sandpiper) (With Johnny Mathis and Chris Botti)
6. The Pink Panther
7. The Way We Were (With Vanessa Williams)
8. The Summer Knows [Theme from the Summer of 42]
9. It Might Be You (With India Arie)
10. Cinema Paradiso Suite
11. A Whole New World (With Donna Summer)
12. Schindler’s List
13. It Might Be You (With Peter White)
14. The Shadow Of Your Smile [Love Theme from The Sandpiper] (With Chris Botti)

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:32 AM

November 4, 2006

Fifteen Annual City Of Lights Jazz Festival 2007 Booked

Michael Schivo, producer of the City Of Lights Jazz Festival that takes place in April each year, has stated to Smooth Vibes that he has the primary acts booked. The two day event will take place on April 20th and 21st in 2007, and Schivo will host more of an R & B, Soul type evening on the first night, and top name smooth jazz artists the second. The lineup includes Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler, Richard Elliot, and Peter White. The festival will celebrate its fifteenth year in Las Vegas.

Michael Franks will perform his crossover Jazz-Adult Contemporary vocal stylings in the Railhead Showroom at the Boulder Station Hotel, Friday, November 3rd.

Also performing in Vegas that same weekend is Pop-R & B-Jazz songstress Vanessa Williams, November 3rd-5th, at the Orleans Hotel.

Lake Las Vegas, which hosts Friday night jazz at Montelago Village, presents Rocky Gordon and his band KGB, regarded as a cutting edge contemporary jazz group. They perform Friday, November 3rd.

Diane Schuur brings her hip, straight-ahead style to the Boulder Station Hotel November 18th.

Spyro Gyra will bring thirty years of great tunes and great playing to the Suncoast Hotel for three nights, November 17th-19th.

The South Point Hotel (formerly The South Coast), in conjunction with Findlay Toyota, present The Cool Jazz, Smooth Soul Series on Saturday, November 18th. Performing that evening will be vocalist Will Downing, guitarist Norman Brown, and saxophonist Gerald Albright.

Posted by Danny Desart at 7:04 AM

November 3, 2006

Norah Jones CD Not Too Late Available Jan. 30

The singer and songwriter will offer all-new original songs on Not Too Late.

NorahJones.jpgEight-time Grammy winner Norah Jones’ new album, Not Too Late, will be her first to include all original songs. It will be released on Jan. 30.

In addition, for the first time ever, all of the songs are either written or co-written by Norah, who sings and plays piano and guitar. The CD, Norah’s third solo effort for Blue Note, follows her 2002 debut Come Away With Me and 2004’s Feels Like Home. Jones says that Not Too Late, produced by her boyfriend and bandmember/bassist Lee Alexander in his home studio in New York, is more personal than her previous efforts since she had a hand in composing all of the CD’s songs.

The CD features guitarists Adam Levy and Jesse Harris, keyboardist Larry Goldings, drummer Andy Borger, saxophonist Bill McHenry, vocalist and flutist Daru Oda, cellist Julia Kent and cellist Jeff Zeigler of the classical-jazz group Kronos Quartet. Song titles are the title track, “Until the End,” “Rosie’s Lullaby,” "Be My Somebody," "Sinkin' Soon," “Thinking About You,” “Little Room,” “The Broken,” “Wake Up,” “Wish I Could,” "My Dear Country" and "The Sun Doesn't Like You."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:16 AM

November 1, 2006

Forever, For Always, For Luther Volume II

LutherTributeVol2.jpgThis new loving tribute features all-star performances by Patti Austin, Gerald Albright, Jonathan Butler, Norman Brown, Will Downing, Everette Harp, Jeff Lorber, Maysa, Najee, Wayman Tisdale, Kevin Whalum and Kirk Whalum

“Having the opportunity to know and to work with Luther has truly been a blessing. This album was important in that it celebrates  Luther as both singer and songwriter.” - Rex Rideout, Co-Producer Forever, For Always, For Luther Vols. I & II

This November 21st, Rendezvous Entertainment will release Forever, For Always, For Luther Volume II. Once again produced by Rex Rideout and Bud Harner, Vol. II boasts a new cast of all-star singers and players.

“Huge personality, huge talent...Luther Vandross will be forever missed,” says Dave Koz. “But in true Luther-style, he left such large footprints for us to continue to evidenced by this outpouring of musical love.  I am thrilled and honored that Rendezvous could be part of the legacy, and help keep the man and his music alive.”

In keeping with tradition, Rendezvous Entertainment is partnering the release with the American Heart Association’s lifesaving campaign “The Power To End Stroke.”  Especially targeted to the African-American community, the program seeks to raise the awareness of the warning signs of stroke in order to prevent or greatly minimize many of its debilitating consequences.

“When you look at the African American community, you see a greater disposition to virtually all the risk factors for stroke,” states the American Heart Association’s Dr. Bruce Ovbiagele.  “This is exacerbated by the fact that there’s such a shortage of good, accurate information out there, especially in the black community on stoke.  That’s leading to a stroke epidemic in the black community, and it’s critical that we act now to stop it.”

Preview the album before its release exclusively at

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:48 PM