February 28, 2007

What We're Listening To * February

D E N I S * P O O L E

'Because Of Love' by Brian Simpson - not from his 2005 smash It's All Good or from his new one due out in early summer but from the sensational Closer Still that was released as far back as 1995.

'More Or Les Paul' by Paul Brown from his CD White Sand that was released on January 27. Featuring Euge Groove this one is a future radio single and no mistake.

'Dreamin' by Nils from his brand new CD Ready To Play. A lovely track from the most radio friendly artist on the scene.

‘En Mis Suenos’ by the Urban Jazz Coalition from their CD Down To Get Up. This Ohio based collective is a real treasure and the track shimmers with the mellowest most infectious hook that you will hear in a long time. This is Latin lusciousness of the highest order.

‘Cruisin’ by Tim Cunningham from the CD Manchester Road. Almost an instrumental form of deep soul it has a sumptuous groove and evocatively mellow playing that, in this month of Valentines romance, is sure to gain kudos when shared with the one you love.


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

Kyle Eastwood, Now (Candid Records/Rendezvous)

Walter Beasley, Ready For Love (Heads Up)

William Woods, The Hear and Now (Whaling City Sound)

Incognito, bees+things+flowers (Narada Jazz)

Gil Parris, Strength (215 Records)


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

Chieli Minucci, Sweet Surrender, (Shanachie, 2007) A brand new one by this master composer/guitarist. Not entirely ‘smooth jazz,’ but rather contains tunes that trace the diverse musical career of Chieli Minucci as an individual artist and as member of Special EFX. A total delight.

Chuck Loeb, When I’m With You, (Shanachie, 2005)

Nick Colionne, Just Come On In, (Three Keys Music, 2003)

Rachel Z, Everlasting, (Tone Center, 2004)

Richard Smith, Soulidified (A440 Music Group, 2004)

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

Jeff Golub, Grand Central (Narada): Bluesy smooth jazz guitar sounds from an artist at the top of his game.

Jesse Lee Johnson, With a Latin Touch (Jesse Lee Johnson): Lounge-like guitar licks that are so nerdy they are cool. Go to http://cdbaby.com/cd/tshgojlj for samples.

Brian Bromberg, Upright Downright (Artistry): The bassist recruits some of the top names in smooth jazz for this funky, jazzy project.

Paul Brown, White Sand (Peak): On his third CD, the producer-turned-solo-artist just keeps getting better.

Lao Tizer, Diversify (YSE): Smooth and funky piano grooves.


P E T E R * B O E H I

Michael Stricklin - Michael Stricklin (1997)
Beautiful smooth jazz album with a lot of substance and variety by sax player Michael Stricklin. Quality all over, a real gem which should not be overlooked. Take it from me!

Nils - Ready To Play (2007)
After having been out of the spotlight for years Nils had a big success with his "Pacific Coast Highway" album from last year. Now he jumps on the opportunity and hits bulls eye again with this great collection of catchy smooth jazz songs featuring his cool guitar. SwissGroove radio virtually soaked it up from beginning to end. Thumbs up!

Mel Davis - Revealed (2005)
Hammond B3 player Mel Davis delivers a cool album full of groovy tracks covering songs like "Real Mother For Ya" and "Smooth Operator" which are totally awesome, while the second half of the CD is more straight ahead organ jazz in the old school. Check it out!

Chuck Loeb - Presence (2007)
This outstanding guitar player can do no wrong and this new release is another example of his superior musicianship. Picture perfect smooth jazz and even a great chill track "Llevame" (which has been added to the playlist of SmoothVibes right away) yield a top-notch package of aural bliss.

James Last - Seduction (1980)
A blast from the past finally released on CD. James Last is a German big band leader who has sold millions of records during his lengthy career and usually is ignored by jazz lovers. But this album was done in the US with the best of the best - Michael Brecker, David Sanborn, Lee Ritenour and others - resulting in a great mix of nice James Last compositions/arrangements and masterful playing. Worth to come back to!


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

Chuck Loeb, Presence (Heads Up)

Al Jarreau, Glow (Reprise / Wea)

Gregg Karukas, Looking Up (Trippin 'n Rhythm)

Pat Metheny / Brad Mehldau, Metheny / Mehldau (Nonesuch)

Joyce Cooling, Revolving Door (Narada)

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 12:49 AM

February 27, 2007

Stanley Clarke’s Night School Is In Session On New Heads Up DVD

Musicians Institute concert features Stevie Wonder, Stewart Copeland, Marcus Miller, Bela Fleck and many others

7118.jpgBassist/composer/producer Stanley Clarke has done it all. A teenage prodigy from the musically and culturally rich city of Philadelphia, he emerged in the early 1970s with an innovative style that immediately redefined his instrument’s potential in virtually every genre of music – jazz, R&B, rock, funk, world and beyond. Both as a solo artist and a co-founder of the seminal quartet Return To Forever, and later as a composer for the big and small screens, Clarke has compiled a resume that includes an impressive list of gold and platinum records, GRAMMYs, Emmys and much more.

But after more than three decades of awards and accolades, Clarke still insists that education is his highest calling. Since the late 1990s, his annual Stanley Clarke Scholarship has given a boost to numerous up-and-coming young musicians – bass players and otherwise – from all parts of the world. The scholarship is marked by an annual concert that continues to draw a lineup of high-profile musicians every year.

Night School: An Evening with Stanley Clarke and Friends (HUDV-7118) is a star-studded DVD set for release on Heads Up International through Clarke’s own Roxboro Entertainment Group on March 27, 2007. The 90-minute presentation chronicles the third annual Stanley Clarke Scholarship Concert, recorded at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA, in October 2002. With guest performances by Stevie Wonder, Wallace Roney, Bela Fleck, Sheila E., Stewart Copeland, Flea, Wayman Tisdale, Marcus Miller and more, Night School captures performances that range from straightahead jazz to full-tilt rock fusion to twenty-two-piece string arrangements – all on one stage, all in a single night!

“We had great chemistry at the scholarship concert in 2003,” says Clarke of the Night School DVD. “The thing I really liked about that concert – aside from raising the money for the scholarship – was that all these great people showed up, and just got up onstage and played with no real rehearsal to speak of. They just got up there, and this energy and groove just sort of happened.”

StanleyClarke_bw1.jpgAmong Clarke’s favorite moments in the concert – and the DVD – is a segment wherein he’s joined by electric banjoist Bela Fleck and violinist Karen Briggs in “Song To John,” a composition written by Clarke and dedicated to jazz pioneer John Coltrane. Immediately afterward, drummer Stewart Copeland (formerly of the Police) settles in behind the kit and takes the foursome through “The Lochs of Dread,” a song penned by Fleck during his tenure in the short-lived bluegrass combo Strength in Numbers.

Throughout the DVD, the musical numbers are intercut with commentary from Clarke on the merits of Musicians Institute and the value of education for young and aspiring musicians. Likewise, various other musicians from the concert lineup also weigh in with high praise for Clarke, his scholarship, his commitment to education in general and his contribution to the jazz tradition and the role of the bass within it.

The tone shifts to the orchestral when a full string section takes the stage to perform a series of compositions from Clarke’s vast catalog of film scores. The segment includes “Frequent Flyer” from Passenger 57; the theme from Boyz ‘N the Hood; and “Anna Mae,” from the 1993 Tina Turner biopic What’s Love Got To Do With It?

The energy level ratchets up several notches in a “The Big Jam,” featuring bassist Flea (from Red Hot Chili Peppers), Briggs, Copeland and drummer/percussionist Sheila E. Stevie Wonder follows with “Every Day I Have the Blues” and Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” two classics delivered with an ensemble that includes Clarke, Briggs, keyboardist Rodney Franklin (on “Blues”) and drummer Gerry Brown.

StanleyClarke_clr1.jpgThe finale is a monster jam that Clarke himself characterizes as “way off the hook.” The free-for-all features Clarke accompanied by an army of no less than 10 bass players – including Flea, Wayman Tisdale, Marcus Miller and a host of other axemen – each taking a turn riffing on an extended version of Clarke’s landmark hit “School Days.”

Sometimes thundering, sometimes understated and thought-provoking, Night School is an eclectic affair, but one that holds together because of a universal willingness by everyone present to reach out to future generations of musicians and lend a helping hand. “I don’t care what kind of music you’re into – jazz, R&B, country, or whatever – there’s a certain point in your life when you decide that you want to make it as a musician,” says Clarke, who began teaching bass at age 16 and continues to do so forty years later, despite a perennially hectic recording and touring schedule. “That feeling is something that you never really forget, and you recognize it in other people. I think the common thread among everyone in this performance is that they’re all looking to somehow help a kid or a couple kids attain their goals. The individual genre or style doesn’t really have anything to do with it.”

He adds: “I guess I really have a soft spot for that kid in school who’s just trying to make it, or that kid who isn’t in school but wants to get into a good program that will help him really maximize his potential. If there’s anything I can do to help that kid, I’m there, and I will probably always be calling on a lot of people to help me in that regard.”

Night School is the precursor to a Clarke’s yet-to-be-titled CD project scheduled for release on Heads Up in June 2007.

Stanley Clarke
Night School
(DVD)

HUVD7118
UPC: 0-53361-7118-9-4
Release Date: March 27, 2007

DVD Chapter Listing:
1. The Floor
2. Wild Dog
3. Goodbye Porkpie Hat
4. Song to John
5. The Lochs of Dread
6. Frequent Flyer
7. Anna Mae
8. Theme from Boyz 'N The Hood
9. Big Jam
10. Every Day I Have The Blues
11. Giant Steps
12. School Days

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:36 PM

February 26, 2007

Paul Brown - White Sand

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. Paul Brown has an approach that is always innovative, different and fresh. His prowess as a producer is unrivalled and the extension of his talents to that of solo performer has been seamless. His debut album, the 2004 Up Front proved to be an instant radio favourite and his follow up, The City, did just as well. Not only that, as an artist, it demonstrated his growing maturity. This increased self assurance, which capitalized on the skill he has in exploring new areas for sounds previously unheard in contemporary jazz, spilled out into the creation of what fast became his own distinctive sound. It made the statement that it was suddenly OK to blend smooth jazz with guitar driven rock and he has built on this platform for his latest project. In doing so he has further refined that special ‘Paul Brown sound’ into a delicious blend that lays somewhere between rock, smooth jazz and chill. The result, White Sand, hits record stores across the USA on February 27.

In fact, by bringing together artists that Brown has worked with over the years he has, for the most part, created a duets album. However, despite the awesome contribution made by each of these guest performers, the unique nature of the sound that Brown has created labels White Sand as very much all his own work. A case in point is ‘Mercy Mercy Mercy’. Made popular by Cannonball Adderley, and covered by everyone, Brown’s inspired use of Bobby Caldwell on vocals, his own bluesy guitar and a big sounding horn section makes this feel brand new. He does it again with ‘For What’s Its Worth’ where he is joined by Jeff Caruthers on keys. This Stephen Stills composition was a hit for Buffalo Springfield back in 1967 and here, deconstructed into a chunk of chilled out rock; Brown’s own vocals fit the mood perfectly. Brown calls on up-coming female sax star Jessy J for the mellow and atmospheric title track. Her playing intertwines delightfully with his own picture perfect guitar and another top notch guitar sax duet comes in the form of ‘Ol’ Skoolin’. This time Brown’s collaborator is none other than Boney James and the empathy that so clearly pulses between them adds to the ultra tight feel of this foot tapping track.

‘R n B Bump’ is co-written by Brown, Bobby English and Johnny Brit. It starts out with Latin tinged piano from David Benoit and, in sync with its title, rapidly moves to a more earthy place. This, in no small part, is due to the sax of English and sumptuous horns from Brit’s own band, the excellent Impromp2. Brown’s writing partners for the cool and jazzy ‘Makes Me Feel So Good’ are Gerald McCauley, Joe Wolf and Al Jarreau. Each impact the recording in their own special way with keyboardist, composer and producer McCauley singing backing vocals and sharing keys with Wolf while the ultra distinctive voice of Jarreau adds all the star quality anyone could ever need.

The albums third and final cover, ‘I Say A Little Prayer’ is hugely different but no less special. The vocals of Hidden Beach recording artist Lina gives this Dionne Warwick classic a shimmering quality and sets it up as a radio hit of the future. Of course, having been released as the advance single, ‘The Rhythm Method’ is already on radio and is now tearing up the chart of thirty most played. With Jeff Caruthers contributing hugely on both strings and moog this sparse edgy piece has a chill factor that is off the scale. Its clearly one of the standout tracks of the entire collection and another personal favourite is the cleverly titled ‘More or Les Paul’. Browns cool guitar is again firmly in chill territory, his production weaves that special PB magic and Euge Groove on sax tops it off flawlessly with the melodic groovy chorus.

The onomatopoeic ‘Mr Cool’ could be the signature track of the whole CD. With production from Brown that is right in the pocket, and restrained trumpet from Rick Braun, its tranquil yet compelling vibe is a comforting constant. It reinforces the fact that with White Sand Paul Brown has created what will undoubtedly be one of the standout albums of 2007.

Do you have any comments on what you have found in this edition of the Secret Garden? If so please contact the Smooth Jazz Vibes Guest Book or e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.

Posted by Denis Poole at 2:28 PM

February 25, 2007

Trio of Concerts Climaxes Berks Jazz Festival

A blockbuster trio of concerts climaxes the March 16-25 First Energy Berks Jazz Fest

The 10-day groove in Greater Reading climaxes with a trio of great shows -- An Evening With The Sax Pack featuring Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters and Steve Cole on Saturday, March 24, at 10:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Reading Hotel Ballroom; Chuck Loeb featuring The Berks Jazz Fest Horns plus the WJJZ All-Stars Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters, Steve Cole and Gerald Veasley on Sunday, March 25, at 1:30 p.m., also at the Sheraton Reading Hotel Ballroom; and An Evening With Guitars & Saxes featuring Gerald Albright, Tim Bowman, Jeff Golub and Kirk Whalum on Sunday, March 25, at 7 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Cathedral.

SaxPack.jpgThe Sax Pack ensemble of Kashiwa, Waters and Cole definitely puts the funk into teamwork. Kashiwa is one of the most energetic saxophone presences in smooth jazz. He is celebrated for his inventiveness with the sax. Waters also has had a robust solo career, selling close to half a million records. Through almost 20 years as a recording artist he remains the epitome of sexy, romantic cool. Cole, who rocketed to fame via his several-year side gig with Brian Culbertson, is one of contemporary jazz's hottest saxophonists.

ChuckLoeb_Promo.jpgChuck Loeb's gig featuring The Berks Jazz Fest Horns plus the WJJZ All-Stars is a particularly poignant event because it is the WJJZ Smooth Jazz 97.5 Fan Appreciation Concert. Thousands of smooth jazz listeners in the greater Philadelphia area were ecstatic when WJJZ came back on the air at 97.5 FM in November of last year after a three-month hiatus due to a format change by its previous station's management.

And who better to be the headliner for this special celebration than Loeb, the brilliant guitarist, renowned producer, master educator and perennial Berks Jazz Fest fan favorite? Kashiwa, Waters, Steve Cole and acclaimed bassist Gerald Veasley (another popular Jazz Fest staple) comprise the WJJZ All-Stars and undoubtedly will be joined by others by the time the concert hits the Sheraton stage. Proving that homegrown talent definitely can be big league are The Berks Jazz Fest Horns -- Bill Miller on trombone, Rob Diener on trumpet and Mike Anderson on sax.

The festival's closing concert features one of the most enduring but ever evolving all-star shows in the smooth jazz genre -- Guitars & Saxes. With the lineup the past 10 years rotating seemingly more frequently than the globe, the concept stays fresh because every year the four artists bring their own unique vibe, groove and musicianship to the ensemble.

Saxophonists Gerald Albright and Kirk Whalum are two of contemporary jazz's most soulful and dynamic performers. Both spent several years touring with Jeff Lorber as part of the ongoing Groovin' for Grover phenomenon, paying tribute to the Philadelphia sax legend whose brilliant blend of pop, soul and jazz laid the foundation for the popular genre.

Jeff Golub's signature guitar sound is one of funky, blues-drenched smooth jazz. Fellow guitarist Tim Bowman, the brother of gospel star Vickie Winans, is equal parts smooth jazz and gospel. The musical director of The Winans in the 1980s, he segued to smooth jazz a decade ago and the genre is richer for it.

Among the other headliners at this year's festival are the Luther Vandross tribute featuring Dionne Warwick; the world premiere Soul Summit concert; Boney James; David Sanborn; Rick Braun; Richard Elliot; Jonathan Butler; Pieces of a Dream; Marion Meadows; Doc Powell; Dave Brubeck; Nelson Rangell; Philippe Saisse; Joyce Cooling; Pat Martino; Mindi Abair; Ann Hampton Callaway; Denis DiBlasio Quintet; Gerald Veasley’s Electric Mingus Project with John Blake Jr.; Kevin Mahogany; David Liebman; Warren Hill; Nick Colionne; Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band; The Rolling Stones Project featuring Tim Ries, Mike Davis, Bernard Fowler and Ben Monder; and the Berks All-Star Jazz Jam.

To order tickets:
Visit the Sovereign Center Box Office, 7th & Penn streets, Reading
Visit the Sovereign Performing Arts Center Box Office, 136 N. 6th St., Reading
Call Ticketmaster at 215-336-2000 or visit www.ticketmaster.com
Order online at berksjazzfest.com
For more information on the festival, including artist bios, click on www.berksjazzfest.com
For more information on the Berks Arts Council, a nonprofit organization that promotes all the arts in an effort to enrich the quality of life in Berks County, click on www.berksarts.org

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 10:44 PM

An Unrivaled Final Line Up Is Confirmed For The 5th Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival 2007, Featuring More Legends, More Pioneers, More Divas, And Much More Than Jazz…

Chillout Productions, founders and organizers of the Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival (S-DIJF) (www.dubaijazzfest.com), has announced the final line up for the festival’s fifth anniversary edition. The spectacular three-day event will be held on March 8, 9, 10, 2007 at Dubai Media City.

“To add up to the two previously announced artists who will be rocking Dubai by storm, the rock stars Toto and the fantastic Jamie Cullum, we made sure to enclose an unsurpassed three nights of magic by confirming artists such as the living legend, Freddy Cole, the splendid diva, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and the multi-award winners, Acoustic Alchemy, to name a few.” Said Anthony Younes, managing director of Chillout Productions.

DeeDeeBridgewater.jpgThe 1st night, Thursday the 8th of March will feature Kamal Musallam Trio with his Oriental Jazz band, the living legend Freddy Cole who combines consummate ease with a lyric, an acute sense of melodic and rhythmic phrasing and a smoky air voice that helps make his interpretations of pop and jazz songs very much his own. Then comes Guy Manoukian and his unique style of classical jazz/oriental music and finally the magnificent Diva, Dee Dee Bridgewater whom beyond being a dynamic singer with a rip-roaring scat, is a Tony Award-winning actress, an announcer, and a noted humorist..

RandyAda.jpgThe second night, Friday the 9th of March will also play host to a huge line up. A powerful yet dramatic opening act with the Dubai-based blues skilled Sergio Bekhazi and his band, the Three Ladies of Blues who sing the same way they look: powerful, swinging and sexy, the virtuosic trumpeter and prolific composer Randy Brecker along with his wife, the fluent post-bop tenor and soprano saxophonist Ada Rovatti, and finally ending the evening with a treasured memory of the unquestionable rock legends, Toto.

AcousticAlchemy.jpgAnd the closing night, Saturday the 10th of March will witness Dubai Drums with their interactive and exquisite show, the remarkable singing style of Robin McKelle whose soul-infused alto tinged voice will go haunting echoes from the postwar jazz greats. Followed by Robin are the Acoustic Alchemy and their pioneer concept of two acoustic guitars which will be the emotional centrepiece that draws people close and conclusively the phenomenal prodigy, Jamie Cullum.

Besides the confirmation of the final line up of its 5th edition, Chillout Productions has announced ticket sales for the Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival.

Sales of the popular “Early Bird Deal” will be running throughout the month of February at the discount price of AED 165 for the one night ticket and AED 445 for the Three-day season pass and can be exclusively bought from Chillout Productions offices located in CNN building, Dubai Media City, office 312. Regular priced tickets are now also available at all Virgin Megastores, Hallmark, Spinneys and online from www.boxofficeme.com or www.timeouttickets.com.

The 2007 Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival promises to be an enchanting experience where the audience will be exposed to a lot of diverse music over the course of the three nights. The success of the event relies on many factors be it the 2 exceptional and distinctive stages hosted by Skywards and Cadillac, the hospitality chalets, the VIP lounges, the beanbags and the friendly atmosphere, the Food & Beverage village or the Arts & Crafts Bazaar, all together with the beautiful people who will be strolling down the venue at the 2007 Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival.

“This year in addition to the jamming sessions which will take place at Jambase Madinat Jumeirah, we will be having a new concept called, “ Midnight Shisha and Jazz” with musicians Furat Quaddouri and Jon Hassall. This new event will take place on the same dates of the festival, after midnight, at Tamanya Terrace, Radisson SAS Hotel, Dubai Media City and will also have all the participating artists from the festival present for a unforgettable night of spontaneous magic.” Says Eric Kahi, Marketing and Communication Manager of Chillout Productions.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 12:22 PM

February 24, 2007

Bromberg's 'Downright Upright All-Stars' show celebrates CD release

downright-cover-lg.jpgBrian Bromberg will be making his second appearance at the Berks Jazz Fest. And he will be bringing an exciting new project - The Downright Upright All-Stars.

The outstanding ensemble features Bromberg on acoustic bass, Dave Weckl on drums, Randy Brecker on trumpet, Jeff Lorber on keyboards and Gary Meek on saxophone. Now that's a hot band!

The concert is set for Friday, March 16, 10 p.m. at the Sheraton Reading Hotel ballroom.

The concert celebrates the release of Brian's latest CD project Downright Upright which features Brian's return to the acoustic upright bass. The new CD is a project that Bromberg says will please the casual smooth jazz fans and the jazz purists.

Already released in Japan, Downright Upright is a return to the acoustic upright bass for Bromberg, which he last featured on the 2006 Wood II. But this record represents a unique progression from that lauded CD, which was laced with Bromberg’s innocent humor and embellished with solo Paul McCartney and Earth, Wind and Fire covers.

Once a drummer following the footsteps of his brother and father, a cellist until convinced to take up the bass during junior high orchestra practice, Brian Bromberg has become one of the most well-respected virtuoso bass players in jazz, thanks to his A-list studio and touring status as sideman, producer and leader of such diverse stylistic range.

The CDs will be available during the festival.

www.brianbromberg.net

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:55 AM

February 23, 2007

Acoustic Alchemy's New CD Due In June

Acoustic Alchemy has completed a new album called This Way, which follows the band’s American/English project from 2005. Once again, the group led by the British guitar duo of Greg Carmichael and Miles Gilderdale recorded most of the album at the legendary Hansa Haus studios in Germany, but also utilized two studios in London and one in York, England.

The album includes all original songs, with titles including “Love Is All There Is,” “Who Knows,” “Slampop,” “Tied Up With String” and “Only In My Dreams.” In addition to guest stars Rick Braun on trumpet on the song “Carlos and the King” and Jeff Kashiwa on saxophone on the tune “Egg,” band members include Neil Cowley on piano, Snake Davis on sax, Terry Disley on piano, Greg Grainger on drums, Fred White on trumpet and Julian Crampton on bass.

This Way will be released on June 5.

This Way Track Listing

1. Love Is All There Is (G.Carmichael/M.Gilderdale) - 4:22
2. Ernie (G.Carmichael/M.Gilderdale) - 6:34
3. Who Knows (G.Carmichael/M. Gilderdale/A.H.White) - 3:56
4. Slampop (G.Carmichael/M.Gilderdale) - 4:47
5. Out of Nowhere (G.Carmichael/M.Gilderdale) - 3:38
6. This Way (G.Carmichael/M.Gilderdale) - 4:41
7. Tied Up With String (G.Carmichael/M.Gilderdale) - 5:12
8. Only In My Dreams (G.Carmichael/ M.Gilderdale) - 5:52
9. Carlos the King (G.Carmichael/ M.Gilderdale) - 5:52
10. Egg (G.Carmichael/M.Gilderdale/A.H.White) - 5:11
11. Now I'm On My Way (G.Carmichael/M.Gilderdale) - 4:44

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:54 AM

February 21, 2007

Wayman Tisdale Breaks A Leg

Smooth jazz bassist Wayman Tisdale, who broke his right leg late last week at his home in Southern California, is now recuperating. Tisdale was already getting some rest after undergoing outpatient Lap-Band surgery to take off at least 100 pounds. The accident forced Wayman to cancel shows on Feb. 16 and Feb. 17 in Las Vegas at the Boulder Station Casino that were tied into the NBA All-Star game, which the former pro basketball player had planned to attend but was also forced to miss.

Although Tisdale is using crutches to help him get around, he still plans to perform March 4 at the Return to Romance music festival in Honolulu. He’ll be performing songs from his latest CD, Way Up, which featured the No. 1 smooth jazz hit “Get Down on It.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:21 PM

February 18, 2007

Randy Crawford And Joe Sample Are Feeling Good About New CD

February release on PRA Records marks reunion of vocalist and pianist more than 30 years after “Street Life” - CD launched worldwide “literally” with December NASA mission

Sample_Crawford.jpgOn Tuesday, February 20, 2007 PRA Records will release Feeling Good, a new album from Randy Crawford and Joe Sample.  This Tommy LiPuma-produced CD marks a return collaboration between vocalist Crawford and pianist Sample who first worked together more than 30 years ago.

To celebrate this special reunion, the album’s upbeat title track and lead single received a literal around-the-world launch in December of 2006, as the song accompanied NASA astronauts on the Space Shuttle STS 116. Astronaut Joan Higginbotham took the song “Feeling Good” with her on the shuttle, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, and the song was selected by NASA as one of the official songs used by Mission Control to wake the astronauts for their daily chores during the 12-day mission.

From the first downbeat of “Feeling Good” through the last note of “Mr. Ugly”, the listener is drawn into the warm embrace of Joe and Randy’s musical heritage, a mixture of soul, jazz, gospel, pop, and a touch of the blues.  One of the premier songstresses in contemporary music, Crawford showcases her versatile vocal instrument on songs such as “All Night Long”, “End of the Line”, and the moving ballad “Save Your Love for Me”.

The lasting mastery of Sample’s piano playing skill is evident through each of the album’s 13 songs.  From their interpretation of Peter Gabriel’s “Lovetown” to the Latin-flavored “Rio de Janiero Blue”, to a modernly funky but also softened reading of “See Line Woman”, Sample’s work on the keys surrounds, highlights, and compliments Crawford’s voice exquisitely.  Some of the other covers chosen for this album include a seductive take on Billie Holiday’s “Tell Me More and More and Then Some”, a breezy run through “Everybody’s Talking”, the tune made famous by Harry Nilsson and the film Midnight Cowboy, and a heartfelt version of  “When I Need You”, written by Albert Hammond and Carol Bayer Sager.  A special sentimental choice is “Last Night at Danceland”, a song written by Sample and originally recorded by Crawford in 1980.
 
The keen interaction between Sample and Crawford throughout the album is a clear testimony to a musical friendship that began three decades ago, when Joe played on Randy’s debut CD, Everything Must Change. Soon after, when writing songs for his influential band The Crusaders, Sample invited Crawford to be a guest on their record and wrote the song “Street Life” especially for her.  Of course, that tune went on to become an international hit, and the two collaborated on and off for years afterwards.  With both artists having worked previously with GRAMMY®-winning producer Tommy LiPuma, the three coming together to record Feeling Good was a natural fit.  Also the joining the team was multiple GRAMMY®-winning engineer Al Schmitt, whose inimitable touch gives the album its flawless, crystal clear sound, along with Steve Gadd on drums and Christian McBride on bass.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 2:20 PM

February 17, 2007

Adriana Evans ‘El Camino’ Out March 12th on Expansion Records

AdrianaEvans.jpgAdriana Evans also known as Adriana Madera, is not just a beautiful face. She is truly a one of a kind artist, the likes of which have not been seen since Natalie Cole and Chaka Khan. She is the daughter of jazz recording artist Mary Stallings, who sang with Count Basie, Dizzie Gillespie and Cal Tjader. Adriana was raised in the Haight Ashbury and Mission District of San Francisco. Exposed early in life to the sounds of jazz and blues by her mother and also the explosive sounds of Afro Cuban music from her father's culture she was destined to be a musical sponge. Her love for soul, rock and hip hop added more to her rich musical tapestry.

When she was a freshman in college she befriended the aspiring rapper Dred Scott. This chance encounter led her to collaboration on his 1994 A&M records release Breaking Combs. Just one year later she and Dred wrote and recorded her debut self titled album on Capitol records. A political shake up at Capitol landed Adriana and the record on RCA/Loud Records. The album was thought to be somewhat revolutionary. It was the first so called "Neo Soul record" at the time. The use of live instrumentation combined with the classic sound of Adriana's vocals took a lot of people off guard. When you think about the musical landscape in 1995, you understand that this album was extremely groundbreaking. It was completely devoid of the synthetic mechanical sounds and stacked vocal stylings of music from that era. Yet this is typical for Adriana, who always finds herself ahead of the curve.

After the release of her first album she became disenchanted with the politics of music. She travelled the world finding an unlimited source of creative inspiration. She spent much of her time in Latin America feeling at home in the relaxed musically enriched environment. Brazil became a home away from home for her spiritually and musically. Upon her return to the US she began assembling her second record Nomadic. This was a project that she and longtime collaborator Dred Scott really enjoyed. It is an eclectic reflection of her musical journey. Nomadic incorporates the sounds of Latin, rock, soul, jazz, blues and hip hop. It reflects the variety of manifestations of black music in the Americas. She states, "Africans came to North America, South America and the Carribean via the slave trade and through some sort of alchemy turned pain into beauty. They gave the world their music!" Nomadic honors their remarkable contributions.

Her new CD, El Camino blends the familiar sounds of her first recording with the growth of her second CD. The musical emphasis of this work is based more on the soul tradition yet it still has eclectic elements that reflect Adriana's unique perspective. The title "El Camino" means the road or path in Spanish. This CD is about Adriana's overall journey, starting from the beginning of her career to the present. El Camino is a path that brings Adriana back to the source and beyond. It is released on 12th March 2007.

AdrianaEvans_ElCamino.jpgHere is what the British music publication "Blues & Soul" had to say abouth this new album: “Whether she likes it or not, just as long as Adriana Evans keeps making music like this she will continue to be categorized as “neo-soul”. If we were to attempt definition of said genre we might talk about organic music, real instrumentation, meaningful lyrics and committed vocals. You’ll find all that here but what makes El Camino different to say the neo soul of Dwele and India Airie is the lightness and joy in the music. This album seems to float on an air of optimism, which might be explained by the singer’s love affair with Brazil – a country we’re told, where despite economic hardships, life seems fresher and freer. Indeed Latin rhythms provide the overriding flavour of the album which opens with the gentle bossa of “Hey Now”. However, “Blue Bird In Bahia” and the title track offer the most overt Brazilian feeling – both with luscious Jobim style guitar. But Ms. Evans, remember, has family roots in jazz and “Blue Bird” and “Same As Ever I Was” have a great loose jazz feeling to them while “World On Fire” is just a great soul groove. For my sins, I found myself going back to “All For Love” – chiefly ‘cos the brass stabs reminded me of vintage Bacharach. In truth though, this isn’t an album of one-off tracks. Here we’re talking about an organic sound that develops though the 12 songs. “El Camino”, the notes say, means “path”. I’d always thought it meant more of a pilgrimage – a spiritual journey if you would… and there's lots of spirituality here, and to me spirituality equates with soul.”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 2:05 PM

February 16, 2007

Keiko Matsui - Moyo

KeikoMatsui_Moyo.jpgContemporary Jazz icon Keiko Matsui's new album, Moyo (Swahili for "heart and soul"), recorded on location with musicians in South Africa, Japan and the United States, introduces new sounds and rhythms to her elegant piano melodies and gentle jazz grooves. Matsui's first self-produced album - this time without the usual input from her ex-husband Kazu Matsui - Moyo debuts April 24th from Shout! Factory.
 
The 12 new songs on Moyo evoke a sense of freedom and independence, as this is the first time Matsui has had total artistic control. For this special project, Matsui invited other artists into the creative process, including legendary trumpeter Hugh Masakela, tenor sax player Gerald Albright, soprano sax player Paul Taylor, Richard Bona on bass and vocals Akira Jimbo on Drums and Waldemar Bastos on Vocals.
 
Recording in South Africa influenced the songs on the album greatly. "A Great Romance" was inspired by a piano factory in the country side, the only place available for rehearsal, while "Marula" was written after she tasted the fruit from an elephant tree. With over 1.2 million units sold in the U.S. and sold-out appearances at concert halls across the world, Matsui is one of the most recognized artists in the genre. A mainstay on the concert circuit, Matsui looks forward to an extensive world tour this spring and summer. Dates begin in March in cities around the world from South Africa and Ukraine to Los Angeles, CA and New York, NY.

1. Moyo (Heart And Soul)
2. A Great Romance
3. Into The Night
4. Caricias
5. An Evening In Gibraltar
6. When I Close My Eyes
7. After The Rain
8. Allure
9. Black River
10. Old Potch Road
11. Um Novo Dia (A New Day)
12. Marula

Guest musicians:
Hugh Masekela - horns
Gerald Albright - sax
Paul Taylor - sax
Richard Bona - bass
Jimbo Akira - Drums

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:42 PM

February 15, 2007

Eldee Young, Original Member Of Ramsey Lewis Trio, Dies In Thailand

YoungHoltUnlimited.JPEGEldee Young, the original bass player for the Ramsey Lewis Trio, has died. Young, who was 71, suffered a heart attack on Monday, Feb. 12, in Thailand, where he was performing.

It was in 1954 that Young, pianist Lewis and drummer Isaac “Red” Holt, who were high-school friends in Chicago, formed a jazz trio originally called the Gentlemen of Swing. They soon became known as the Ramsey Lewis Trio. In the mid-1960s, shortly after performing on the classic songs “The In Crowd” and “Hang on Sloopy,” Young and Holt left the trio to form Young-Holt Unlimited and scored a smash hit instrumental single in 1969 with "Soulful Strut." That famous tune was originally the backing track for soul singer Barbara Acklin's song "Am I the Same Girl."

Lewis replaced Young and Holt with bassist Cleveland Eaton and drummer Maurice White, who later formed Earth, Wind and Fire. The current Ramsey Lewis Trio lineup consists of Lewis, bassist Larry Gray and drummer Leon Joyce. The trio begins a tour on March 18 and will be performing for much of the year.

Young is survived by his wife, three sons and a sister.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:37 AM

February 13, 2007

Berks Jazz Fest Update

The FirstEnergy Berks Jazz Fest offers one-of-a-kind shows to expand jazz lovers' horizons and touch their souls. Presented by the Berks Arts Council, the festival runs March 16-25 and features an abundance of great artists, more than 130 venues large and small, a schedule of staggering scale and amazing ensemble concerts. Featured here are just a few of the highlights you may not know about:


SOUL SUMMIT ENSEMBLE

This year brings another world-premiere show in Soul Summit on Saturday, March 24 at 7 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Cathedral. This dazzling tribute to America's music has some of the hottest names in soul. The concert is being produced by music director and keyboardist Jason Miles, who is no stranger to producing unforgettable ensemble shows for the Berks Jazz Fest.

02_Susan%20Tedeschi%207684.jpgAlong with Miles, Soul Summit features vocalist/guitarist Susan Tedeschi; vocal artist Maysa Leak; saxophonist Richard Elliot; Derek Trucks Band vocalist Mike Mattison; funky saxman Karl Denson; trumpeter Barry Danielian; drummer Steve Ferrone; bassist Bob Babbitt; guitarist Reggie Young; guitarist Sherrod Barnes; saxophonist David Mann; and turntablist DJ Logic.

The concert finale will be a rousing tribute to the late James Brown, the Godfather of Soul. "It's only fitting that we close the concert with the music of James Brown," said Miles. "With these incredible musicians all on stage at the same time, it's going to be one heckuva finale. We also will be paying tribute to the late Herbie Mann and his legendary Memphis Underground project."

Miles' shows at the Berks Jazz Fest are always special, from “Miles to Miles: In the Spirit of Miles Davis” to last year’s all-star shows “The Music of Marvin Gaye and Motown” and “The Music of Ivan Lins.”

Known as “The Time Keeper,” legendary drummer Steve Ferrone has worked with an incredibly diverse group of artists, from Chaka Khan and Tom Petty to AWB, Duran Duran, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, David Sanborn, Scritti Politti and Jaco Pastorius.

Bassist Bob Babbitt established his name in the annals of R&B as a member of the legendary Funk brothers who played on so many of the great Motown hits by such legends as Marvin Gaye, The Temptations and Smokey Robinson.

With appearances on such legendary hits as “Son Of A Preacher Man,” “Slip Away,” “Suspicious Minds” and “In The Ghetto,” Reggie Young is arguably the most recorded guitarist in the history of music.

DJ Logic is the turntable master who has successfully mixed the turntable culture of hip-hop with classic jazz and soul. In addition to three solo CDs, he has also played with John Mayer, John Popper, Medeski Martin and Wood and others.

One of the funkiest guitarists on the planet, Sherrod Barnes’ resume as player and producer boasts two eras of soul divas with Roberta Flack and Beyonce.

Guest artists who will also join Soul Summit include famed smooth jazz saxophonist Richard Elliot (once called “The James Brown of Contemporary Jazz” by Jazziz Magazine); Grammy-winning guitarist Susan Tedeschi; R&B singer Maysa Leak (a longtime member of the U.K. soul collective Incognito who has several solo recordings to her credit); and Mike Mattison, best known as a lead singer of The Derek Trucks Band. He also has his own band called Scrapomatic.

Trumpeter/producer-arranger Barry Danielian has more than 15 years experience as a versatile sideman. David Mann will lend his expertise on the saxophone to this collaborative concert. Saxman Karl Denson is the leader of Tiny Universe, a highly energized funk band. He played with Lenny Kravitz before launching his solo career in 1992.

The show promises to be a brilliant tribute to soul, an original American art form born in the Mississippi Delta.

Continue reading about other one of a kind highlights to the Berks Jazz Fest, including Gordon Goodwin & the Big Phat Band, The Rolling Stones Project, and David Sanborn.

GORDON GOODWIN & THE BIG PHAT BAND

Montage-Web_000.gifThe FirstEnergy Berks Jazz Fest has always been dedicated to jazz education as well as entertainment. Each year, the festival's education committee arranges clinics, workshops and performances with world-renowned jazz musicians for local jazz students.

This year, the committee is pleased to present Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, whose dynamic sound has refocused the national spotlight on big bands. Goodwin is a champion promoter of the big-band sound on high school and college campuses, and his high-energy fusion Phat Band isn't your mother's big band.

They will be joined by the Berks High School All-Star Band for the Music Educators of Berks County Night, Tuesday, March 20, at 7 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Cathedral. Tickets are $18, and $10 for students with ID. In keeping with their philosophy on educational outreach, Goodwin and his band will host a workshop before the concert. The Berks Jazz Fest places a strong emphasis on educational outreach. There will be at least five other educational workshops conducted by various artists throughout the festival.

Goodwin and his 18-member Big Phat Band will propel the listener on a journey through a myriad of styles: Latin, blues, swing classical, hard-hitting jazz and even a homage to Looney Tunes. The group has two Grammy-nominated albums out and The Phat Pack currently hitting the charts.

Goodwin is a three-time Emmy Award winner, a five-time Grammy nominee and recent winner of a 48th annual Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement for his arrangement of "The Incredits" from Pixar's "The Incredibles."

Members of the Big Phat Band have distinguished themselves as recording artists and soloists in the jazz field, including Eric Marienthal, Wayne Bergeron (also a Grammy nominee), Andy Martin, Bob Summers, Luis Conte, Bernie Dresel and Grant Geissman.

The Phat Band is: saxes - Eric Marienthal, Sal Lozano, Brian Scanlon, Jeff Driskill, Jay Mason; trumpets - Wayne Bergeron, Dan Fornero, Bob Summers, Dan Savant; trombones - Andy Martin, Alex Iles, Charlie Morillas, Craig Ware; drums - Ray Brinker, Bernie Dressel; AC & EL Bass - Rick Shaw; guitar - Grant Geissman,Carl Verheyen; percussion - Luis Conte, Brad Dutz; leader - Gordon Goodwin.

THE ROLLING STONES PROJECT

The Rolling Stones are coming to the FirstEnergy Berks Jazz Fest. To be more precise, The Rolling Stones Project featuring Tim Ries, Mike Davis, Bernard Fowler and Ben Monder is coming to The Abraham Lincoln Ballroom in downtown Reading on Wednesday, March 2,1 at 7:30 p.m.

TimRies.jpgRies, a veteran saxophonist who has been on several world tours with the Stones, and his band mates put a jazz touch to the Stones' classic rock songs. Ries is basking in an abundance of critical acclaim for his 2005 Concord Jazz CD debut The Rolling Stones Project. The 11-song collection not only salutes the Stones but also illustrates how fertile their songs are for jazz interpretations." I was shocked that this album came together the way it did, " Ries said. "To get all these performers and to put a jazz touch on the Stones’ songs, well, I've got to say that this project was a miracle.”

The CD featured guest spots by vocalists Sheryl Crow, Lisa Fischer, Norah Jones and Luciana Souza; jazz guitar icons Bill Frisell and John Scofield; keyboardist Larry Goldings; and Wayne Shorter's bass-drum team of John Patitucci and Brian Blade. There were also performances by Rolling Stones members Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ron Wood, who contributed the album cover art. Berks Jazz Fest fans will be fortunate enough to see this miracle of an album come to life at The Abraham Lincoln Ballroom when Ries takes center stage with three other jazz vets who made key contributions to the project -- trombonist Mike Davis, vocalist Bernard Fowler and guitarist Ben Monder -- to create a live experience called The Stones Meet Jazz.

Ries, who's also a composer, has extensive jazz roots. He has collaborated with such jazz artists as Phil Woods, Tom Harrell, Al Foster, John Patitucci, Dave Liebman, Danilo Perez, Maynard Ferguson and Red Garland. His other recording and performance credits include work with Donald Fagen, Paul Simon, Sheryl Crow, Lyle Lovett, Stevie Wonder, Incognito, Blood Sweat & Tears, Bob Belden and David Lee Roth.

Davis has also worked extensively with the Stones, in addition to performing and/or recording with Sheryl Crow, Keb’ Mo’, Lyle Lovett and The Bob Mintzer Big Band. Fowler also has been part of the Stones' experience, having done backing vocals on many of their recordings in addition to those by Herbie Hancock, Bonnie Raitt, Herb Alpert and George Clinton. Monder is one of most identifiable and sought-after stylists on the progressive jazz scene, an heir to the ethereal yet edgy approach of players such as John Abercrombie and Bill Frisell. Monder has been active as a sideman since 1984, working with Jack McDuff, Marc Johnson, David Binney, Paul Motian, Lee Konitz and Toots Thielmans.


DAVID SANBORN

david-sanborn.jpgDavid Sanborn, the six-time Grammy winning jazz/funk saxophonist, returns to the FirstEnergy Berks Jazz Fest for a third time, this time with The David Sanborn Group.

Sanborn’s sizzling funk-edged alto -- one of the most identifiable and often imitated sax timbres in contemporary music -- has influenced an entire generation of sax players, from Dave Koz to Euge Groove and Mindi Abair, and created a body of work that spans the genres of rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, pop and jazz

See the legendary saxman Friday, March 23, at 10:30 p.m., at the Sheraton Reading Hotel Ballroom. Tickets are $38 and $33.

Sanborn is experiencing something of a renaissance in the genre these days, thanks to the radio success of his 2003 Verve debut Time Again (his first release after a four-year hiatus) and 2005’s Closer, an ambitious disc featuring bassist Christian McBride, guitarist Russell Malone, Larry Goldings on electric piano and organ, vibist Mike Manieri and drummer Steve Gadd. He also reconnected with his smooth jazz audience via his participation on last fall’s Dave Koz And Friends At Sea cruise.

David Sanborn is both musician and artist - that rare breed of popular recording star as eager today as he was in his youth to continue pushing boundaries and to continue making music that challenges the mind as it rewards the heart and soul.

We hope to see you during this happy ten days known as the Berks Jazz Fest!

Happy Jazzin'

Beverly J. Packard
Jazz Circle Member of the Berks Arts Council
MyGirlSunday22@aol.com

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 11:47 PM

Berks Jazz Fest Ticketed Events and Ticket Sales

The great thing about a ten day festival is the sheer number of shows and musical artists who can be a part of it, not to mention the staggering number of fans who will grace us with their presence from March 16th through 25th. As you can see by the listing, there are so many producers/composers/players -- musicians with roots in early jazz who have evolved and grown over the years to carefully blend the old and the new in innovative and exciting ways, as well as younger talent constantly arriving on the jazz scene.

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, Gerald Veasley and Doc Powell, Sheraton Reading Hotel Ballroom, 2 p.m., $38 and $33

Saturday, March 17 -- Gerald Veasley's Electric Mingus Project featuring Gerald Veasley, John Swana, Chris Farr, Tony Miceli and Butch Reed plus special guest John Blake Jr., 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, Gerald Veasley and Doc Powell, 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, Paulette McWilliams, Buddy Williams, Tinker Barfield, Cindy Mizell 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, Joe McBride, Steve Oliver, Rayford Griffin, Mindi Abair and Brian Bromberg, 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 -- Bettye LaVette and Frank Bey & The 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 -- The David Sanborn Group, 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 -- "The Groove Boutique's" Rafe Gomez hosts Warren Hill and 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, Karl Denson, DJ Logic, Sherrod Barnes, Barry Daniellan, David Mann plus special guests Susan Tedeschi, Maysa Leak, Richard Elliot, Mike Mattison and Karl Denson, Scottish Rite Cathedral, 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, Steve Cole and Gerald Veasley, 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 order tickets: Visit the Sovereign Center Box Office, 7th & Penn streets, Reading Visit the Sovereign Performing Arts Center Box Office, 136 N. 6th St., Reading Call Ticketmaster at 215-336-2000 or visit www.ticketmaster.com Order online at berksjazzfest.com For more information on the festival, including artist bios, click on www.berksjazzfest.com For more information on the Berks Arts Council, a nonprofit organization that promotes all the arts in an effort to enrich the quality of life in Berks County, click on www.berksarts.org

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 9:36 PM

February 12, 2007

George Benson And Al Jarreau Win 2 Grammys

The powerhouse duo of George Benson and Al Jarreau picked up two awards for songs on their Givin' It Up album at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 11 in Los Angeles. “Mornin’,” a former No. 1 Smooth Jazz hit, won for Best Pop Instrumental Performance, while “God Bless the Child,” which features vocalist Jill Scott, won in the Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance category. Benson now has 10 Grammys for his career, while Jarreau has seven.

Enya won her fourth Grammy in the Best New Age Album category for Amarantine, while Tony Bennett’s Duets: an American Classic – featuring performances by Diana Krall and Chris Botti – won for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. Other winners: Best Pop Instrumental Album, Fingerprints, by Peter Frampton; Best Contemporary Jazz Album, The Hidden Land, by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones; Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group, The Ultimate Adventure, by Chick Corea; Best Jazz Vocal Album, Turned to Blue, by Nancy Wilson; and Best Surround Sound Album, Morph the Cat, by Donald Fagen.

Finally, the late saxophonist Michael Brecker won two Grammys for his album "Some Skunk Funk."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:22 AM

February 11, 2007

Brian Simpson At The 2007 Smooth Jazz Cruise

artists_brian-simpson.jpgWelcome 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. Throughout the week of the 2007 Smooth Jazz Cruise the contribution of Brian Simpson was nothing short of immense. Shifting roles effortlessly from Musical Director to sideman to headline artist he consistently hit all the right buttons and in doing so showed himself to be an engaging, amusing and downright entertaining performer. Indeed Simpson demonstrated these talents perfectly during the late evening show he played in the intimate jazz club atmosphere of the Queens Lounge. Here, only minutes after stepping from the main concert stage where he had directed music and played keyboards for Jonathan Butler, he kicked off a really outstanding solo set with ‘It Could Happen’ from his 2005 run-away success It’s All Good. Fittingly, Simpson’s co-writer of this one, bass player Andre Berry, was there with him as was Randy Jacobs on guitar and Dave Hooper on drums. This well practised trio was joined from time to time by the excellent Jimmy Roberts on sax and the predictably tight combination provided the perfect backdrop to Simpson’s virtuoso playing. As well as delivering a ton of funk, Roberts, a long time member of Rod Stewart's touring band, also brought with him a huge slice of blues and this was an attribute he employed to particularly good effect while playing his part on the bands rendition of the old Jimmy Smith number ‘The Chicken Shack’ which, purely for cruise purposes, Simpson jokingly dubbed the ‘Zuiderdam Blues’.

It’s All Good was one of the few genuinely ‘complete’ albums of 2005 and as such the packed house would have been delighted had he simply played every number from it. Although he did enthral them with the seductive ‘Waiting’ and the albums two radio hits, the hip ‘Saturday Cool’ and the chart topping title track, he also provided a reminder of his first album, Closer Still. Released in 1995, a full ten years before It’s All Good, this sumptuous piece of buried treasure is an almost definitive example of what smooth jazz should be. In fact, after tempting his audience with ‘Brazilia’, which he composed during his first tour in Brazil with George Duke, and his sensational cover of the Janet Jackson hit ‘Because Of Love’, the copies of the album on sale in the ships record store sold out within hours. Fortunately Brian Simpson’s rapidly growing fan base will not have to wait ten more years for his next offering. His new CD is now eighty percent complete and is expected out in early summer. He used the tune ‘One More Time’ as a sneak preview of what is to come and if it is anything to go by then Brian Simpson is set for quite a 2007.

Do you have any comments on what you have found in this edition of the Secret Garden? If so please contact the Smooth Jazz Vibes Guest Book or e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.

Posted by Denis Poole at 1:54 PM

February 8, 2007

Simply Red's Mick Hucknall Will Be First-Time Dad

mickandgabriella.jpgMick Hucknall, founder of the band Simply Red, has announced that he will soon become a father for the first time. Hucknall, who is 46, and his partner Gabriella Wesberry, who speaks six languages and is in her 30s, are expecting a daughter in June. The couple began dating in 1995 but broke up due to Hucknall’s constant touring schedule with Simply Red. They got back together in 2003. Wesberry is the director of Hucknall’s wine company, which has a vineyard on the slopes of Mt. Etna in Italy.

Hucknall, the British-born singer who has homes in England, France and Italy, has earned quite a reputation in the past as a ladies’ man by dating some of the world's most glamorous women, including actresses Catherine Zeta-Jones and Brigitte Nielsen, as well as tennis player Steffi Graf. Hucknall, who has never married, has said that he may one day consider marriage, but only after he had kids.

Hucknall and Simply Red are looking forward to the March 12 release of a new album, Stay, which features the smooth jazz hit “So Not Over You.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:10 AM

February 6, 2007

Jeff Lorber's New CD: He Had A Hat

Grammy-nominated keyboardist and producer Jeff Lorber has just wrapped up production of a brand-new CD that is mixed by Paul Brown and produced by Blood, Sweat & Tears original member Bobby Columby, who produced the last two best-selling CDs by trumpeter Chris Botti.

The CD, He Had a Hat, is a 13-song project with 10 songs co-written by himself and Columby. The CD, due in April, also features a tune written by Bill Withers, “Grandma’s Hands,” that features vocalist Eric Benet. Another song, “Orchid,” is co-written by Botti and features soloing by the trumpeter. “The Other Side of the Heart,” co-written by Paula Cole, features Cole and Benet on vocals. Among the other new songs are “Anthem for a New America,” “All Most Blues,” “BC Bop,” “Hudson” and “Super Fusion Unit.”

Guest artists include Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, Brian Bromberg, Randy Brecker, Paul Jackson Jr., the Blood Sweat and Tears horn section, Hubert Laws and Tom Scott.

He Had a Hat Track Listing

1. Anthem for a New America (Jeff Lorber/Bobby Columby)
2. He Had a Hat (Jeff Lorber/Bobby Columby)
3. Grandma's Hands (Bill Withers)
4. Surreptitious (Jeff Lorber/Bobby Columby)
5. All Most Blues (Jeff Lorber/Bobby Columby)
6. Orchid (Jeff Lorber/Chris Botti)
7. BC Bop (Jeff Lorber/Bobby Columby)
8. The Other Side of the Heart (Paula Cole/Jeff Lorber)
9. Hudson (Jeff Lorber/Bobby Columby)
10. Super Fusion Unit (Jeff Lorber/Bobby Columby)
11. Eye Tunes (Jeff Lorber/Bobby Columby)
12. Requiem for Gandalf (Jeff Lorber/Bobby Columby)
13. Burn Brightly (Jeff Lorber/Bobby Columby)

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:52 PM

February 4, 2007

Vesta Pays Homage to Her Musical Heroes on Shanachie Debut Distant Lover

Vocalist Reinvents Timeless R&B Songs Sung By Marvin Gaye, The Spinners, Smokey Robinson, Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder, Deniece Williams & Other R&B Icons

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word ‘classic’ as ‘being of the highest, rank or class’ or ‘serving as an outstanding representation of a kind.’ Vesta’s new CD Distant Lover exemplifies the word ‘classic’ on a number of levels. Not only is her Shanachie debut a sampling of some of the greatest R&B ‘classics’ but it is a sublime example of how a singer can rework a song when they posses an innate ability to personalize and take chances with a composition. Distant Lover is a refreshing exploration of R&B gems that reveal Vesta’s personal connection to each song. Her intensely rich, earthy and soulful voice combined with her intelligent, thoughtful and often playful phrasing drive home the lyrics of any song she sings. The upbeat and charming singer shares, “I don’t think people will expect to hear me sing all the different styles featured on Distant Lover. I hope to shock people when they learn that these are not only songs that I love but also ones that I can actually sing and capture the essence of all the incredible artists who sang them.”

Distant Lover is a thrilling glimpse into the singer’s personality and creative genius as a song stylist. Her renditions of Babyface’s “Whip Appeal” and Sly Stone’s anthem “If You Want Me To Stay,” show off her playful and comedic side. Vesta states, “I had a lot of fun with Sly’s song and got to show off my more stank funky side!” Vesta equally enjoyed recording the Bill Withers hit “Use Me,” a song she frequently performs in concert. “This song has a lot to do with some of the experiences I have had,” says Vesta. “I have run into a lot of severe vultures in the business and in relationships.” Vesta also calls upon songs from her youth on Distant Lover, like the Spinners staple “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” and the title track, which was a hit for Marvin Gaye. Vesta recalls “In my youth, I remember sitting in my living room and listening to ‘Distant Lover’ over and over again. Growing up it was one of my favorite songs. I guess I was lonely and the song just spoke to me.”

Other highlights on Distant Lover include “Ooh Baby Baby,” popularized by Smokey Robinson who Vesta calls “the coolest of the cool.” The ballad is the perfect vehicle for Vesta to display her range of emotion as she delivers a stunning performance. The singer explains, “If you do not really pay attention to the words of this song, it can sound happier than it is. I tried to get to the real pain of the lyrics and convey what I felt Smokey was trying to say.” Vesta also took great joy in recording Steve Wonder’s “Knock Me Off My Feet.” She confesses, “Stevie’s songs are deceptively difficult. His genius is such that his songs sound easier to sing then they are. ‘Knock Me Off My Feet’ is so beautifully romantic and I am a romantic!”

While most of the tracks on Distant Lover are classics recorded by men, Vesta highlights three songs sung by women for whom she holds deep admiration: Deniece Williams, Sade and Syreeta Wright. Vesta remakes Deniece Williams’ smash hit “Free” and says “Deniece Williams is an amazing vocalist and person. She happens to be someone who is as sweet as she sounds!” Sade’s “No Ordinary Love” is a song that Vesta fell in love with the first time she heard it. She shares, “There is a wonderful mood to Sade’s writing. She stands alone in her genre.” Vesta and singer Issac Clemon, perform a memorable version of “Born Again,” which was sung by Syreeta and the late Billy Preston. The singer confides, “I had the pleasure of spending time with Syreeta at her home and she was such wonderful person. When the idea of a duet came up, I knew ‘Born Again’ was the right song. With the passing of Billy Preston, it was heavy on my heart. He was a sweetheart and a killer piano player and you could almost forget how well he sang until you heard him singing. I called upon Syreeta in my minds eye when we were recording this song. Hopefully she came and visited. Maybe that beautiful smile from heaven blessed us with her essence.”

As much as Vesta enjoyed recording the repertoire on Distant Lover, she equally enjoyed collaborating with the personnel on the CD which includes saxophonists Kim Waters and Marty Q, guitarists Derrick “HotSauce” Cummings, Randy Bowland, Rhon Lawrence and Wayne Bruce. Producer Chris “Big Dog” Davis, who Vesta affectionately refers to as “Muscle,” plays all the additional instruments heard on the CD. “Recording this music with ‘Muscle’ was just magical,” says Vesta. “Creative energies are powerful and sometime stubborn but this was such a beautiful experience.”

With the release of Distant Lover, Vesta is sure to delight and surprise old fans and garner new ones with her refreshing takes on timeless classics. Vesta concludes, “I hope that my love for this music and the musicians and composers who wrote and sang them comes through.”

www.myspace.com/vestawilliams

Posted by Peter Böhi at 3:19 PM

February 3, 2007

Tower Of Groove

Euge Groove, an alumni of several pop acts, including a stint with the legendary funk band, Tower Of Power, performed Friday, February 2nd, at the Boulder Station Hotel in the Railhead Showroom to a packed house.

And coincidently, Euge's former employers, Tower Of Power, arrive the following weekend for three big nights, February 9-11, at the Orleans Hotel. Original members, Emilio Castillo, Rocco Prestia, Doc Kupka, and my favorite funk rhythm master, David Garibaldi, are the four original mainstays driving the standards they wrote over thirty years ago. Songs like What Is Hip, So Very Far To Go, You're Still A Young Man, Soul Vaccination, are stil the most requested along with newer tunes recorded in the last ten years, like the now popular, Diggin' On James Brown.

Tonight Show bandleader/jazz guitarist Kevin Eubanks breaks stride from Jay Leno for one night at the Santa Fe Station in the Chrome Showroom on February 10th.

Smooth jazz bass player Wayman Tisdale returns to the Boulder Station Hotel on February 16th. Wayman is probably the only musician today who will one day receive a sports pension from his twelve year tenure as a pro-basketball player.

The great guitarist/vocalist Jerry Lopez is still bringing on "the healing" at the Palms Hotel every Monday night with his band, Santa Fe And The Fat City Horns. Bandmember and featured alto saxophonist Phil Wigfall is undoubtably one of the most underrated jazz musicians performing today.

Local radio station Sunny 106.5 hosts the Third Annual Chocolate Affair at the South Point Hotel on February 11th with entertainment provided by saxophonist Rocky Gordon and his band KGB. Rocky and his band will also be featured during KXPT 97.1 The Point's Sunday Morning Jazz Show at the Promenade on February18th.

Condolences go out to the families of Michael Brecker and Alice Coltrane. It is somewhat poetic that these two great artists passed on within twenty-four hours of each other, both who carried the legacy of the legendary John Coltrane.

Posted by Danny Desart at 5:02 PM

The Arrangements Of Greg Adams

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. With his excellent Cool To The Touch now on release it’s as a recording artist that trumpeter Greg Adams has featured here of late. In a solo discography that stretches back to 1995, and includes the critically acclaimed Hidden Agenda and Firefly, he has constantly delivered sophisticated contemporary jazz with an edge. His second solo album, the 2002 Midnight Morning, evoked memories of the legendary arrangements he fashioned during his many years with Tower Of Power and it’s this ability that betrays a side of his musical genius that many may not be aware of. In fact since 1971 he has been creating musical arrangements for a galaxy of stars that include Rod Stewart, Neil Diamond and Elton John. This extended discography, which takes in Santana’s ‘Everybody’s Everything’ and ‘Fools Paradise’ from Rufus, is overwhelming testimony to the calibre of artists he has routinely been invited to work with. 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.

GregAdams2.jpgThe Secret Garden has chosen a very personal way to process his arranging achievements so, without further ado; here is our take on the all time top ten arrangements of Greg Adams. Record companies watch out: this would be one of the best compilation albums ever.

1974 - Tower Of Power and ‘So Very Hard To Go’ from the bands self titled album

1980 - Heart and ‘Tell It Like It Is’ from their album Greatest Hits – Live.

1986 - Huey Lewis and ‘Doing It All For My Baby’ from the album Fore.

1989 - Linda Ronstadt and ‘When Something Is Wrong With My Baby’ from Cry Like A Rainstorm, Howl Like The Wind.

1992 - Michael Bolton and ‘Knock On Wood’ from the CD Timeless – The Classics

1994 - B.B. King's ‘Woman’s Got Soul’ from A Tribute To Curtis Mayfield.

1994 - Luther Vandross and ‘Going In Circles’ from the CD Songs.

1999 - Sammy Hagar and ‘Don’t Fight It’ from the CD Red Voodoo.

2000 - Raphael Saadiq and ‘Blind Man’ from the CD Instant Vintage.

2004 - Santana and ‘Brown Skin Girl’ from their CD All That I Am.

Check some of them out if you can. It’s a musical catalog that will blow you away. For more on Greg Adams go to www.gregadamsmusic.com

Do you have any comments on what you have found in this edition of the Secret Garden? If so please contact the Smooth Jazz Vibes Guest Book or e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.

Posted by Denis Poole at 8:55 AM

February 2, 2007

Dave Koz Selected For Oscars' Governors Ball

This year's Academy Awards official after-party, also known as the Governors Ball, has called on saxophonist Dave Koz to perform as the featured artist before the elite of Hollywood. The show in the Grand Ballroom of the Hollywood and Highland Center will commence immediately following the 79th Academy Awards telecast on Feb. 25. Koz, who just released a CD of Oscar-nominated and winning scores titled At the Movies, will perform for the Ball’s 1,500 Academy Award winners and nominees, show presenters, telecast participants and other distinguished guests.

Koz will be accompanied by 19-year-old jazz vocalist Erin Boheme, whose debut CD in 2006 was produced by bassist Brian Bromberg. She will join Koz on the songs "A Whole New World,” "It Might Be You," "Somewhere Out There" and "The Way We Were."

Koz’s performance will mark the second year in a row that a smooth jazz artist has performed before Hollywood’s biggest stars. Saxophonist Mindi Abair, along with vocalist Patti Austin and saxophonist Tom Scott, took the stage at last year’s Governors Ball.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:42 PM

February 1, 2007

Brenda Russell Is A Happy Grandmother

BR-Nehemiah.jpgVocalist and composer Brenda Russell has some great news she wants to share: She’s a first-time grandmother. Russell's daughter, Lindsay Walker, had her first baby on Jan. 26, a boy that she and her husband, Jonas Walker, named Nehemiah. The baby, born at a Los Angeles area hospital, checked in at 8 pounds, 9 ounces. Lindsay, who is 30, and Jonas were married in April of 2004. Russell was in the delivery room as Nehemiah was born and reports that he is healthy and happy.

"Yes, we are very much excited in our family," Russell says. "I’m already the doting grandmother. It’s pathetic. I now understand why they have all these silly signs on people’s cars. I’m the happy grandparent or whatever. I get it. It’s a life-changing experience. It’s so profound to see how generations just keep coming. It’s an amazing thing you have to experience to really get it, you know?"

Lindsay Walker is a talented singer and songwriter who performed background vocals on Brenda’s hit single titled “Catch On,” in addition to performing background vocals for Smokey Robinson on tour.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:18 AM