March 31, 2007

What We're Listening To ** March

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

Patti Austin, Avant Gershwin

Chieli Minucci & Special EFX, Sweet Surrender

Jeff Golub, Grand Central

Kim Waters, You Are MY Lady

Jeff Lorber, He Had A Hat...

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

Bob James, Angels of Shanghai

Steve Oliver, Radiant

Brian Culbertson, Come On Up

Gerald Veasley, At the Jazz Base

Tom Grant, Hands: The Tom Grant Collection


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

Kim Waters, You Are My Lady (Shanachie)

Various Artists, Smooth Jazz Plays Motown's Greatest Hits (Shanachie)

Jeff Lorber, He Had a Hat (Blue Note)

Four80East, En Route (Native Language)

Julie Dexter and Khari Simmons, Moon Bossa (Brash)


P E T E R * B O E H I

Justin Young - On The Way (2007)
Newcomer and rising star Justin Young on the sax comes up with a gem of a smooth jazz album. Boasting some first-rate guest artists like Tim Bowman, Gail Jhonson and Paul Brown, this man proves that he is destined to go straight to the top!

Dean James - Brighter Days (2006)
I almost missed this picture perfect smooth jazz CD by sax player Dean James who has resurfaced after a hiatus. He plays so sensuous and passionate! Very recommended!

Laffayette Harris, Jr. - In The Middle Of The Night (2007)
This is a gem which can be found at CDBaby.com. This great piano player delivers a great album full of memorable melodies and top notch playing. Not to be missed!

Will Donato - Will Call (2006)
Another top-notch smooth jazz saxophone player waiting to make his breakthrough. Quality and class throughout. Check this artist out!

Quincy Jones - Mellow Madness (1973)
Available as Japan CD this classic Quincy album features a great selection of soulful songs and jazzy instrumentals featuring many of the industry's finest artists. Belongs into every collection!


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

Rocco Ventrella, Give Me The Groove (Smooth Sounds Music) 2007

Dexter Wansel, Digital Groove World (Hhotplanet Entertainment) 2004

Various Artist, Smooth Jazz Plays Motown's Greatest Love Songs (Shanachie)
2007

Earl Klugh, Finger Paintings (Blue Note Records) 1978

Wayman Tisdale, The Very Best of Wayman Tisdale (Grp Records)


D E N I S * P O O L E

'Aint No Woman (Like The One I Got)' by Jeff Gulob from his the CD 'Grand Central'. This picture perfect cover of the Four Tops classic has a wonderful contribution on sax from Richard Elliot and is a track that shows off Golub's range and versatility.

'Thinking Of You' by soulful vocalist Victor Fields from the album of the same name. This Jeff Lorber composition, with a haunting chorus that gets in your head and won't go away, is a sensuous chunk of chilled out mood music and a modern day quiet storm classic in the making.

The sensational 'Call Me Up' by Dee Brown from his outstanding album No Time To Waste. This, the albums best cut, is horn driven, up tempo and right in the pocket. It epitomizes what No Time To Waste is all about.

'Oh! What A Girl' by Simply Red from the CD Stay. Thrusting along on a driving up tempo beat, and with a horn arrangement of which Tower Of Power would be proud, this is undoubtedly up there among the best songs that Simply Red has ever recorded.

'Sensuality' by Rocco Ventrella from the CD Give Me The Groove. With a chilled out groove that oozes sex and playing from Rocco that's as tight as tight can be this one really gets the job done.

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 4:25 AM

March 27, 2007

Wayman Tisdale Recovering From Cancerous Cyst

Our best wishes go out today to smooth jazz bassist Wayman Tisdale, who is undergoing treatment to remove a cancerous cyst from his fibula, according to his manager Earl Cole and his record label, Rendezvous Entertainment. Wayman suffered a leg injury last month due to a fall in his home. After an extensive series of tests, doctors determined that the cause of the injury was a cancerous cyst isolated to a bone in his leg.

Tisdale says his recovery will be 100 percent, and that he has been told that he is otherwise cancer-free. To recover properly, he has cancelled all of his scheduled appearances for 2007 but plans to be able to resume touring in time for his Smooth Jazz Cruise in January of 2008. He is also planning a new album, which he is tentatively titling Rebound. It will be the follow-up to his current CD Way Up, which features the current Top 5 hit of the same name.

Get well soon, Wayman.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:54 PM

March 26, 2007

Berks Jazz Fest 2007: Guitars & Saxes

Berks07_GuitarsSaxes.jpgThe final show of the festival took place at the Scottish Rite Cathedral Sunday evening with Guitars & Saxes, combining the talents of sax players Gerald Albright and Kirk Whalum and guitarists Jeff Golub and Tim Bowman. They had a stellar band featuring Ricky Lawson on drums, Nate Phillips on bass and Marlon McClain on guitar plus keyboards. This band came here to play and you could feel the energy and fun they created. The show was kicked off with each of the main artists stepping to the stage playing a short sample of one of their hits segueing into the next song, instantly creating a good vibe. Kirk Whalum played several songs from the Babyface songbook and his current #1 song "Give Me The Reason", while Jeff Golub performed some songs from his brand new release Grand Central which was released only a few weeks ago, delving deeply into Blues territory. Gerald Albright played his favorites "So Amazing" and "My, My, My" to the delight of the crowd, one woman even brought him a bouquet of flowers to the stage which touched him visibly. Tim Bowman for me was a most welcome addition to the band, his Wes-styled playing is outstanding and his hit song "Summer Groove" - being a favorite of mine - was a great musical moment to hear live. Then they slowed down things a little with an unplugged segment of the show where they sat on stools next to each other playing their instruments imaging they were sitting in someone's living room just having a good time, among the songs played was a great version of "Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay" and the great "Mojito" from Jeff Golub's new CD. Towards the end of the show hit was following hit, but they relied exclusively on cover versions completely ignoring their own catalog of music, virtually turning into a "Greatest-Hits-Music-Review" which was okay with the crowd who were all up, clapping, dancing and singing, bringing a truly great festival to an end.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:06 PM

Berks Jazz Fest 2007: Chuck Loeb & Friends

Berks07_Loeb.jpgSunday afternoon it was WJJZ 97.5's turn to host a Fan Appreciation Concert featuring Chuck Loeb plus Gerald Veasley and Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters and Steve Cole (who appeared the previous night as the Sax Pack), once more supported by the great Berks Jazz Fest Horns. The concert was well attended and Chuck Loeb opened the concert just with his band featuring drummer Josh Dion, keyboardist Matt King and bass. Chuck settled comfortably into some of his compositions, among them "E-Bop" and "Presence" from the current CD, displaying his great skills on guitar. He kept things soft and low with his great rendition of James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Lonely Tonight", on this song drummer Josh Dion played in the most subtle and sensitive fashion I have seen, later adding some of his soulful singing bringing the song to a rousing end. During the first half of the show special guest and local hero Gerald Veasley came to the stage to play a truly heartfelt rendition of his own "Forever", a song dedicated to his wife having special meaning for him, a fact you could feel! His bass playing was just great and his appearance a welcome addition to this concert. After a short intermission some considerable sax power was added to the show with Kim Waters, then Jeff Kashiwa and lastly Steve Cole stepping on the stage to perform one of their songs, raising the level of energy considerably. All of them are outstanding players and stage personalities, again they couldn't help but making jokes and pulling each others legs, creating a good vibe. During one song the Berks Jazz Fest Horns got their round of solos, especially Mike Anderson on sax stood out proving that he is an artist in his own right. While these artists delivered a high energy show as the Sax Pack the previous night, during this afternoon they showed their softer sides, which yielded some great solos, especially Jeff Kashiwa played a tremendously smooth and heartfelt solo during one of Chuck Loeb's tunes. The last track "Bounce" (from Steve Cole's True album) reunited all artists for a great finale, ending another great show of first rate artists.

(Sorry for the bad picture, but I sat in the back and this was the best I could achieve)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:00 PM

March 25, 2007

Berks Jazz Fest 2007: Brian Culbertson All-Star Smooth Jazz Cruise Jam II

Berks07_AllStarCruiseJam.jpgAfter the Sax Pack show at 1am the Brian Culbertson All-Star Smooth Jazz Cruise Jam II hosted by Nick Colionne at the Sheraton was due, a promotional event to tease people into joining the All-Star Cruise. All you had to do to get in was to buy a raffle ticket (giving you the chance to win a cabin on that cruise), giving you access to this show, which is always a lot of fun and full of surprises. Host Nick Colionne was dressed in a red suit and hat and ready to lead many artists through a loose jam night. On stage were parts of his band (Dave Hiltebrand on bass, his keyboarad player and drummer), with the additional help of several fellow artists, some of them exclusively appearing at this show. First guest was Alvin Fisher on flute, then on came Jackiem Joyner on sax delivering some great solos, then bass player Gerald Veasley stepped on the stage giving us some serious bass playing. Then sax player Andrew Neu showed up again, helped out by a local guy claiming to be the best mandolin player of Berks County, they played Grover Washington Jr.'s "Winelight" for us with the mandolin player - obviously not exactly playing the style of music he is used to - delivering a totally spaced-out solo on the mandolin, while Andrew Neu turned out to be a true top-shelf player. Then the lovely Althea Rene on flute appeared displaying some serious chops, then bass player Michael Manson stepped on the stage soloing fiercly, then Maysa appeared having come of the Soul Summit show settling into a beautiful version of "Summertime" with lots of scatting and vocal improvisations (having her performance at the Soul Summit pale in comparison), then bass players Gerald Veasley and Scott Ambush (from Spyro Gyra, having sneaked in too) gave us a veritable battle on their basses, before returning the song gently to Maysa to end it. Steve Oliver was there too adding his flashy guitar playing contributing further highlights to this concert. Alan Hewitt played some keyboards and vibes, while another local sax player (who was a little overwhelmed by all the star power around him) got his solo spots too. Nick Colionne directed the proceedings by calling artists to the stage and selecting songs, additionally he played some great guitar solos. The night was concluded with Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon" reuniting all artists on stage for the rousing finale. This was the best concert of the festival, not only because of the tremendous star power but most of all because of the truly impromptu setting and the loose way these artists could play and express themselves. At 2am who cares, just let's have some fun!

Here is a short sample of the action on stage:

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:07 PM

Berks Jazz Fest 2007: Sax Pack

Berks07_SaxPack.jpgLate Saturday evening the great The Sax Pack, featuring Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters and Steve Cole, were scheduled to appear at the Sheraton. These three artists belong to the absolute best smooth jazz sax players on the scene and their energetic shows are always a treat, besides their styles merge well. They were joking, pulling each others legs and having just fun on stage. Each of these artists played songs from his catalog, some songs were done together, some individually. Kim Waters played his hit song "Waterfall" in his smooth and sexy style, while Steve Cole delivered several songs from his latest release True, among them "Just A Natural Thang" and - as I had hoped - the gorgeous "Curtis" which gave him the opportunity to express himself on the tenor sax. Jeff Kashiwa announced a new release to come out in June, he played two songs from that making us look forward to hear it soon. All off the artists made their strolls into the audience, sometimes together, which stirred quite some heart. The band was grooving hard, among them were bass player Dave Hiltebrand, keyboard player Mike Richiutti and guitar player Jerry Johnson. This great concert was concluded with Jeff Kashiwa's radio hit "Hyde Park (the "Ah, Oooh" song)" giving the audience a change to contribute the vocal part. This was another top notch concert full of fun and energy by three really outstanding sax players.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:56 PM

Berks Jazz Fest 2007: Soul Summit

Berks07_SoulSummit.jpgSaturday evening another one of those concerts you can only experience at Berks was due with Soul Summit, a star-studded event dedicated to Soul music celebrating an important part of American heritage. Jason Miles assembled some musical legends and some outstanding current players. Among the legends were bass player Bob Babbit and guitar player Reggie Young, who both have played on many unforgettable classics. Both must be in their 70ies, so Bob Babbit preferred to do the performance sitting. The world class band was completed by Steve Ferrone on drums, Sherrod Barnes on guitar, Jason Miles on keyboards and a horn section consisting of David Mann on sax, Karl Denson on flute and saxes and Barry Danielian on trumpet. They kicked off the show with an instrumental featuring David Mann on sax, before playing "Memphis 2000" from Jason Miles, followed by Herbie Mann's "Memphis Underground" featuring Karl Denson on flute, a track which featured Reggie Young back in the day. Later vocalists Mike Mattison (from the Derek Trucks Band) and Susan Tedeschi came to the stage to sing a few songs, among them "Song Of A Preacher Man", which was done justice by Susan Tedeschi who admittedly was a bit reluctant to tackle this giant classic song. The great songstress Maysa gave us "What A Man", then surprise artist Richard Elliot came to the stage infusing lots of energy into the show playing "Chicken & Waffles" (from the Jason Miles CD Mr. X which featured the late Grover Washington Jr. on the album) and a great version of Junior Walker's "Shotgun". Another outstanding artist was the great Karl Denson who contributed several powerful solos on the saxophone and helped to raise the bar a notch. At the end of the show a tribute to James Brown was due in the form a medley covering songs like "I Feel Good" and "Sex Machine" with Karl Denson taking the JB part bringing a memorable performance to its end. This was another special evening and Jason Miles has to be applauded for pulling such events off. I look forward to what he has in store for us at next year's festival.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:29 PM

Incognito - Bees + Things + Flowers

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. Jean Paul 'Bluey' Maunick has been the heart life and soul of jazz funksters Incognito from as far back as 1980. It was then that the band put out its first demo single, ‘Parisienne Girl’ which, thanks to strong radio and club support, peaked at #73 in the UK charts. Subsequently, and with a panache that has developed through time for including a variety of guest singers, Incognito has continued to push the envelope of its own brand of jazz tinged soul. Its music, often sophisticated, sometimes complex, but always compelling, has helped establish the band as one of the UK’s finest exports. In addition, the reputation of Maunick has also transcended continents and led him to produce for Ray Simpson, Chaka Khan and George Benson. Although it took ten full years from the 1981 release of their debut Jazz Funk for the ‘follow up’, Inside Life, to come along, the momentum since then has been such that their new release Bees + Things + Flowers is the bands seventeenth in all. Featuring the largest number of guest singing stars from the Incognito stable ever to appear on one album it is a collection of re-imaged classics, choice covers and original music that finds Bluey turning down the tempo in favor of sumptuous arrangements and poetic lyrics.

A case in point is the sensitive handling of ‘Always There’ featuring Jocelyn Brown. Singing in falsetto tones and deconstructing the tune to its basic elements she quite simply turns this club classic into a thing of beauty. As expected Maunick’s mark is everywhere. As well as providing stellar production he variously writes or co-writes four new songs and one of them, ‘Crave’, helps position the CD’s overall sound. Bluey’s original intention had been to create Bees + Things + Flowers as a totally acoustic project. However, the warmth of the sound he engendered by use of a Fender Rhodes gave the track a rich tone and became the framework for the whole album. Another brand new song, ‘Raise’, again finds Jocelyn Brown in restrained mode while Tony Momrelle is in charge for Maunick’s gentle ‘You Are Golden’.

Maysa is another Incognito regular and in keeping with the mood of the entire CD she takes a gentle approach to her vocals on the reworking of two of the bands songs from the past, ‘Still A Friend Of Mine’ and the wonderfully sparse ‘Deep Waters’. She also shares vocal credits with Carleen Anderson on the nine minute odyssey of Earth Wind and Fires ‘That’s The Way Of The World’ and its Anderson who is up front for two more imaginative covers. Her smoky take on the Lovin’ Spoonful’s ‘Summer In The City’ is exceptional while her performance on the bands polished interpretation of the America 1974 hit ‘Tin Man’ makes it one of the albums standout tracks.

Bluey reaches back to 1995 and turns to the vocals of Imaani for the jazzily mellow ‘Everyday’ while it’s a line from the albums opening cut, the Roy Ayers classic ‘Everybody Loves The Sunshine’, that provides Bees + Things + Flowers with its title. With Joy Rose on vocals, distinctive keys from Matt Cooper and understated strings from the Millennia Ensemble this is jazz fusion as it’s meant to be.

Recorded in just six consecutive days during the summer of 2006 Bees + Things + Flowers is sure to find a fit with Incognito stalwarts and those new to the band who prefer their jazz with a melodic and soulful twist.

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 5:23 PM

Berks Jazz Fest 2007: Warren Hill & Nick Colionne

Berks07_WarrenHill.jpgSaturday early afternoon people gathered for The Groove Boutique's Rafe Gomez Hosts Warren Hill and Nick Colionne, a double bill of two full length concerts by two very popular artists. The afternoon was hosted by radio DJ Rafe Gomez who played some well selected music before and in between concerts.

Saxophone player Warren Hill had to fight some obstacles to bring his music to us, three of his band members were stuck in LA because their flight was overbooked, so he had to recruit the guitar player from the Sax Pack and the drummer from the Nick Colionne band filling in on short notice to complete his band, which otherwise consisted of Andre Berry on bass (who was touring with Mindi Abair concurrently) and keyboard player Ron Reinhardt. They had to improvise a little but this even added to the fun of the afternoon, Warren Hill was in a relaxed mood and entertained the crowd with witty comments and stories in between songs, yielding some good laughs. He kicked off his show with the Beatles classic "Come Together", then he continued with a great rendition of Grover Washington Jr.'s "Mr. Magic", which he segued into "Winelight", breaking it down nicely giving me goose-bumps! Then he played "Light My Fire" showing tremendous sensibility and a knack for soft and smooth grooves. The crowd just loved it! The whole band did a great job, and Warren Hill had the audience in the palm of his hand. One of the highlights was his version of "Play This Funky Music" having him to walk in the audience and playing his sax standing on chairs amidst the clapping crowd. This was a musically satisfying, very entertaining concert by one of the greatest smooth jazz artists out there.

Berks07_Colionne.jpgThen it was time for the unique Nick Colionne, who was dressed all in white and was ready to give us a good time. Nick knows how to work the crowd, he is a consummate artist, and his witty comments and great rapport with the audience resulted in another very entertaining concert. He played some of his hit songs, among them "High Flyin'" and "Arrival", showing tremendous skills on the guitar, backed by a competent and seriously grooving band. I had forgotten how good this guy actually is and was completely blown away by his flashy runs on the guitar and his Wes-inclined playing, he definitely is up to par with George Benson! Often he broke it down and played it softly and smooth, just to build it up again, he also made more than one strolls into the audience addressing several (mostly female) fans personally. One highlight was his heartfelt rendition of the song "A Rainy Night In Georgia", his low voice gave me a fuzzy feeling and his sensuous playing on the guitar topped it all. Nick Colionne has risen to the absolute top within the smooth jazz genre and I look forward to hear more from this gifted and very likable artist.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:22 PM

March 24, 2007

Berks Jazz Fest 2007: Steve Oliver

Berks07_Oliver.jpgWhile David Sanborn and Pat Martino were having their performances at the Sheraton the inimitable Steve Oliver was scheduled to appear at the Wyndham in a non-ticketed event which took place in the club-like setting of L'Arte della Vita Jazz Cabaret. Steve Oliver appeared just with the great percussion player Humberto Vela, who added many grooves and colors to the proceedings, while Steve relied on his guitar (which triggered a multitude of synths) and vocals. The duo created a surprisingly full sound and Steve Oliver was just happy to play and perform songs from his vast catalog of music. Outstanding moments of the concert were the uptempo "Chips & Salsa" with some first-rate guitar playing and a vocal where he added sounds in the spirit of Bobby McFerrin, accompanied by his guitar synth, which left the audience in awe. Other highlights were his hit songs "High Noon" featuring some flashy guitar playing and vocal ad-libs, the great song "Cool" and the yet unrecorded vocal "Fearless", which will be part of an upcoming all-vocals album. His show was much appreciated, Steve Oliver is one of the greatest talents on the scene and I always look forward to hear more music of this truly original and constantly developing artist.

Here is a snippet of the action (sorry for the low light conditions):

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:11 PM

Berks Jazz Fest 2007: Rick Braun & Friends

Berks07_BraunFriends.jpgSaturday evening we were in for a treat by Rick Braun & Friends giving a special concert to celebrate the 17th anniversary of the festival. The friends Rick brought with him were Ron Reinhardt on keyboards, Stanley Sargeant on bass, Rayford Griffin on drums, Dwight Sills on guitar and a horn section consisting of his brother Ross Braun and Nick Lane on trombones, Jimmy Roberts on sax and an additional trumpet player. Rick opened the concert with his proven habit to wander to the stage from the back of the audience playing his instrument this way creating an instant rapport with the crowd, the first song featured a great solo by saxophonist Jimmy Roberts. Then saxophone player Richard Elliot entered the stage raising the bar a notch with his muscular playing, before the great Jonathan Butler gave us a beautiful rendition of his song "Sarah, Sarah" which created enthusiastic responses from the audience. Rick Braun was the party man cheering the crowd, his cover of Bill Withers' classic "Use Me" with some audience participation was a highlight of the concert. Another cool part was the battle of the trombones having Ross Braun and Nick Lane duelling on their horns, after all fun and entertainment was the order of the evening! This was also true for Richard Elliot's version of "People Make The World Go Round" having the saxophonist cowering just emitting growling sounds from his instrument, which was fun to watch. Saxophonist Jackiem Joyner is the latest addition to the roster of Artizen Records, the label run by Rick Braun and Richard Elliot, and therefore got an opportunity during the concert to be introduced to the fans. Jackiem Joyner played a great song from his upcoming release Babysoul and won the hearts of the crowd with his soulful and smooth playing. At the end of the concert Richard Elliot gave us a heartfelt version of his signature song "When A Man Loves A Women" which brought him again to his knees, then Jonathan Butler came to the rescue, helped him up and finished the song with a rousing vocal, which was truly mesmerizing. The crowd cheered for more so Jonathan Butler performed his hit song "Lies" which brought a very entertaining evening to its end.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:07 PM

Berks Jazz Fest 2007: Dave Brubeck - Ankle injury sidelines legend

Brubeck concert reset for April 27

The Dave Brubeck Quartet had been scheduled to open the 17th annual FirstEnergy Berks Jazz Fest.

Now the acclaimed group will be performing in Reading a month after the festival has concluded its 10-day run.

The Berks Arts Council announced today that the 86-year-old Brubeck suffered a setback over the weekend in his recovery from surgery for a blood clot and infection that were triggered by a recent ankle injury.

Consequently, he and his quartet now will perform on Friday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Sovereign Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $46 and $39.

All tickets will be honored on that date for the show, which first was scheduled for Friday, March 16, and then first rescheduled for Wednesday, March 21.

Brubeck's setback over the weekend forced his doctors to be even further protective of his infection situation.

Hence, the switch of the concert to its own special BJF date on April 27.

Dave Brubeck Quartet
Friday, April 27
Sovereign Performing Arts Center
7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $46 and $39

Posted by Peter Böhi at 4:13 PM

March 23, 2007

Berks Jazz Fest 2007: Berks All-Star Jazz Jam

Berks07_AllStarJazzJam.jpgThe traditional Berks All-Star Jazz Jam was held at the Sheraton late Friday evening and was a star-studded event of the highest order. Sometimes the stage was almost a little overcrowded making one wonder if less might be more. But anyway, the pairing of these artists in this impromptu setting made way for some great moments of music. The evening was put together by guitar player Chuck Loeb who led this bunch of artists through a selection of mainly standards. On stage were at times 6 sax players, 4 guitarists, 2 bassists, 1 violinist, 1 trumpet player, 1 keyboardist and 1 drummer, giving some of the artists a hard time to be heard, the sound man at the mixing console seemed not always being able to keep up with the proceedings on stage. This quibbles aside those involved put all their hearts into their performances, we had sax players Jackiem Joyner, Warren Hill, Richard Elliot, Keith McKelley, Andrew Neu and Mindi Abair, guitar players Pat Martino, Nick Colionne, Chuck Loeb and Steve Oliver, bass players Brian Bromberg and Gerald Veasley, violinist John Blake, trumpet player Rick Braun, keyboardist Joe McBride and drummer Rayford Griffin. With the exception of the first and last songs the artists played together in various smaller combinations, the songs played ranged from "Caravan" giving Rick Braun a chance to show his tremendous improvisational skills and chops on trumpet, the slower "All Blues" featuring a great Mindi Abair (backed by the legendary Pat Martino) to "Summertime", which marked the highlight of the concert for me. This song featured Mindi Abair on sax and Steve Oliver on vocals and guitar giving both artists ample room to play this great tune, Steve Oliver's vocal artistry was outstanding, reminding me of Bobby McFerrin and Al Jarreau, complemented by his first rate guitar playing. This guy is a huge talent who gets better and better each time I see him. Newcomers like the great Jackiem Joyner, Andrew Neu or Keith McKelley (member of Joe McBride's band) were welcome additions to the roster of seasoned stars having one to look forward to the future of the format. The show was concluded with the Crusaders classic "Put It Where You Want It" reuniting all artists of the evening giving Richard Elliot one more opportunity to dazzle the crowd with his gutsy saxophone playing. I always like the All-Star Jam, because it is full of surprises with artists willing to take a few risks, yielding some magical moments, and this Jam was no exception.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:23 PM

Berks Jazz Fest 2007: Mindi Abair

Berks07_Abair.jpgThursday evening the pace of the festival started to pick up again with several major acts to come. The beautiful Mindi Abair appeared at the Wyndham Hotel ballroom with her youthful and seriously grooving band. Despite her georgeous looks the lady definitely can blow and knows how to throw a party, she and her band mates seemed to have a good time on stage with lots of joking and laughing. She gave us some great renditions of her hit songs like "Flirt", "Remember" and the smoking "It Just Happens That Way" which offered the bass player Andre Berry an opportunity to play a funky bass solo which left the audience in awe. Her music was oscillating between rock, pop, funk and jazz resulting in a delicious mix, to loosen up things she performed a few pop vocals, spiced up with her hot soprano playing. Being known as an artist mainly performing self-written material, the exception to this rule was her cover of Cannonball Adderley's "Walk Tall". She ended the show with her signature song "Lucy's" which went down very well with the crowd which was in happy partying mood. This was another entertaining evening by a consummate artist.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:08 PM

March 22, 2007

Berks Jazz Fest 2007: Joe McBride

Berks07_McBride.jpgWednesday night the great Joe McBride & The Texas Rhythm Club gave a concert at the Peanut Bar in Reading, this was a non-ticketed event in a restaurant, providing an intimate setting to the music. All the tables were booked and we were staying at the bar enjoying the show. The current lineup of The Texas Rhythm Club consists of Keith McKelley on sax, Walter Barns on bass and additional keys, and Rob Hubbard on drums. The band was crowded together on the small stage delivering a strong vibe, they kicked their show off with the Ronnie Laws classic "Always There", then continued with songs from Joe's various albums and a share of well selected covers, among them a groovy version of Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon" which promted several members of the audience to dance in front of the stage. Joe McBride was great as always playing keys, singing and joking in between songs providing his unmistakable brand of music, while sax player Keith McKelley turned out to be a huge talent with his expressive playing, getting a lot of shouts of appreciation from the audience. Drummer Ron Hubbard delivered a steady beat, while bassist Walter Barns stepped out more than once to give us some funky slapping on the bass. This was a great and very entertaining evening, heads bopping, folks dancing, everybody having a good time.

Here is a small sample of what you have missed:

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:34 PM

March 21, 2007

More than 25,000 music lovers flocked at the 5th Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival 2007

Dubai is still reverberating with the soulful sounds

Dubai2007.jpgWhile Dubai’s International Jazz Festival 2006 was proclaimed the best yet, this year’s performances are almost certain to repeat if not better this record.

The Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival 2007 (S-DIJF) brought jazz fanatics who flocked to Dubai from all over the UAE, the GCC and from Europe, three spectacular nights of quality music and performances, complimented by a magical atmosphere and a stunning set-up, and has left people euphoric and hungry for more. This was the 5th year of this hugely popular event and its success, thanks to an unparalleled, legendary line up, was evident from the cheers of an appreciative crowd the applauses of which are still resonating around the idyllic venue at Dubai Media City’s outdoor amphitheatre.

“On the first night we had a crowd of 6,500 fans, 9,000 attended the second night of the event, and an incredible crowd of 9,500 attended the final night of performances.” Said Anthony Younes, managing director of Chillout Productions, founders and organizers of the Dubai Jazz Festival.

The first night, Thursday March 8, saw the oriental jazz band, Kamal Musallam Trio, open the festival to great acclaim from the audience. The strains of middle-eastern jazz-fusion filled the air as Kamal added his unique, doleful sounding Glissentar, an innovative instrument created by Godin, which is an amazing marriage of the guitar and the oud. Musallam’s alluring hybrid of oriental passion and charming jazz was the perfect opener.

Suitably ‘warmed up’ by Kamal, the audience welcomed the second act, a living legend in the person of the soulful Freddy Cole. Cole, already a confirmed favorite of the UAE’s jazz and blues aficionados, did not disappoint. Playing to his audience, Cole delivered a polished performance, in his inimitable easy going style which, coupled with his unforgettably husky voice and acute sense of melodic and rhythmic phrasing made his interpretations of both pop and jazz music very much his own.

Subsequently, Guy Manoukian, the charismatic, Armenian origin, Lebanese born composer, stormed the Cadillac stage with his unique style of classical jazz/oriental music. Manoukian enthralled the strong Lebanese contingent and others with cover versions of Fairouz and traditional Armenian songs ‘jazzed up’ (if you’ll pardon the pun) with catchy upbeat rhythms that had people literally dancing all around; these were featured alongside several of his own compositions. Manoukian was called back on stage to perform another number that kept the crowd applauding until long after the stage lights were extinguished.

DeeDee_Dubai.jpgThe artist who topped the bill on the first night was the spectacular Dee Dee Bridgewater, putting on a powerful show with the aid of her Malian family The Dee Dee Bridgewater Malian Project. Dee Dee’s repertoire delved into the roots of jazz, blues and her own history as an ‘Afro-American’. The power of her voice and the energy and spirit of her performance was the perfect end to a fabulous evening that celebrated the jazz movement from all four corners of the earth.

The local blues hero Sergio Bekhazi, formerly of the Sergio Bekhazi Trio, opened the second night of the S-DIJF 2007 ably assisted by Drummer Tim Burnell and his own brother cum bassist, Roy Bekhazi. Sergio, winner of several North American blues guitar magazine awards, ‘charged up’ the crowd with a selection of music from such legends as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, John Mayer and others, in addition to some of his compositions.

3LadiesBlues.jpgIn true Emirates style, Sergio was given a rousing reception and a big hand of thanks when his performance regrettably came to a close and he handed the stage over to the Three Ladies of Blues, whose singing was as impressive as their looks. Powerful, moving and sexy are some of the adjectives evoked by the sheer vocal strength and range of these three virtuosos, who delivered an intensely emotional and moving performance. The audience of the 2007 S-DIJF were captivated and taken back to the early years of Harlem paying tribute to such great female Jazz, Blues and Gospel singers and musicians as Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Diana Washington along with a number of other stars of black American music, whose music and lyrics are still strong in our minds even today…

What more can be said about the seasoned jazz veteran, amazing trumpet virtuoso and prolific composer Randy Brecker who, following the Three Ladies of Blues, shared the Cadillac stage with his wife, Ada Rovatti, a fluent tenor and an accomplished soprano saxophonist in her own right. The audience was transported by the melodic sounds of this traditional and funky jazz duet.

Toto_Lukather.jpgThe much anticipated Toto, who were celebrating 30 years together on stage, along with the 9,000-strong audience at the Jazz Festival, ably lived up to their reputation. This legendary group that has hundreds of well-merited credits, tributes and honors to their names, blew away the crowd for a full two and a half hours. Professionalism at its best!

The finale to our three-day jazz extravaganza was initiated by the popular Dubai Drums, who were invited back by public demand thanks to the extremely positive audience feedback received after last year’s event. True to form, Dubai Drums put on an intensely interactive and truly astounding show that energized the crowd and has surely given them something to talk about for months to come.

Next, S-DIJF 2007 attendees welcomed on stage the European jazz-chart-topping Robin McKelle. McKelle treated the attentive crowd to a selection of songs from her debut solo album Introducing Robin McKelle, extending her repertoire of mesmerizing songs that echoed with haunting memories of the postwar jazz greats to include a touch of retro-swing and demonstrating the range of her remarkable soul-infused, alto pitched voice.

Fresh from two successful world tours, a Grammy nomination (their third), a Gibson Guitar Award, a Jazz Trax "Album of the Year" Award and a National Smooth Jazz Awards nomination in the "Group/Duo of the Year" category, the British jazz group Acoustic Alchemy closed the Cadillac stage performances on March 10, 2007 with a sensational performance of their two acoustic guitars concept via an adventurous mix of Latin, jazz, pop and soul textures which drew people closer and closer to the stage, mesmerized!

Jamie Cullum, the dynamic 26-year-old British singer, songwriter, and pianist met everybody’s expectations, and then some! The crowd was electric, but not more than the artist himself, who gave a performance to top all performances - one that will stay in the memories of everyone who had the good fortune to be there. Cullum played songs from his Verve debut album, Twentysomething, leaving the audience in no doubt as to why he has set the record as the fastest-selling jazz debut artiste in UK history. The album was certified Platinum in just six weeks, selling over two million copies (including nearly 400,000 in the States) and garnering a Grammy nomination. Jamie’s repertoire for the 2007 S-DIJF as well as including songs from his new album, Catching Tales, also featured titles such as "Photograph" along with some songs from his second album Pointless Nostalgic. Cullum’s performance was truly incredible. An onlooker from the crowd was heard to declare “What a performer, he truly is the face of modern jazz.’

Anthony said, “My sincere thanks go out to the main sponsors Skywards, Cadillac, Emirates, to name just a few, and all the press and media partners and to everyone who has contributed to the success of this incredible event. We will, of course, endeavor to put together an equally illustrious line-up of invitees for next year.”

The two stages, worked well giving the public the chance to discover all the additional stands that were there, as they took a leisurely stroll along the paved walkways between the two stages. Not forgetting the Arts & Crafts village located next to the Cadillac stage which showcased some of its best crafts so far. The atmosphere was one of relaxed conviviality; the food and beverage village catered by Hilton had a wide variety of snacks to suit all tastes, from burgers and shawarmas, to the famous Zaatar W Zeit, right down to the Seatle’s Best Coffee.

“This year we added a second jamming session venue besides Jambase, Madinat Jumeirah “Midnight Jamming Session”, held at the Tamaniya terrace, Radisson SAS Hotel “Midnight Shisha & Jazz”, and it had proved to be highly successful with Furat Qaddouri Quartet and all the festival musicians stepping on stage to create what we call the “magic pot”! said Anthony, adding, “and we can promise all our fans that next year is going to be no less surprise- filled than the years before.

Its an ongoing thriving vision, we have to keep the Jazz festival reflecting nothing less than electrifying music blended with dazzling performances that would appeal to the true music thirsted ever growing audience, leaving them anticipating the following show that is constantly evolving to evoke the soul in Dubai’s creative music scene. See you next year at the 2008 Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival which is going to take place in the first 10 days of March.”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 3:10 PM

March 20, 2007

Berks Jazz Fest 2007: Celebrating the Life & Music of Luther Vandross

Berks07_LutherTribute1.jpgSunday evening it was time for one of the true highlights of the festival: the star-studded Celebrating the Life & Music of Luther Vandross, put together by Jason Miles realizing another "once in history" event summoning artists who have played and worked for years with the late Luther Vandross, resulting in an evening which really deserved naming himself to be a Luther tribute. Present in the audience was Luther's mother, a fact which made it even more special and personal. The band consisted of long-time members of Luther's band, among them the long time musical director and keyboard player Nat Adderley, Jr, drummer Buddy Williams, bass player Tinker Barfield, percussionist Steve Kroon, guitarist Doc Powell and last but not least Jason Miles on keyboards, who worked with Luther for many years as well. The band played two instrumentals, one featuring the smooth guitar playing of Doc Powell, before the saxophonist Walter Beasley came to the stage to give us his renditions of "So Amazing" and "Creepin'". Then it was James "D Train" Williams who has a similar voice like Luther singing a heartfelt version of"You Turn Me On", followed by Sharon Bryant singing the touching "Dance With My Father", followed by Doc Powell again, you could feel the bond all of them had with Luther. Several of the artists shared some insightful stories about their time with Luther shedding some light on him as a person. One of the highlights of the concert was the appearance of saxophonist extraordinaire Kirk Whalum who played "Give Me The Reason" to great effect. Later he adressed the problem of diabetes and stroke - the cause of Luther's untimely death - and asked to support the Power To End Stroke campaign. Next highlight was the appearance of living legend Dionne Warwick who sang "What The World Needs Now", “Anyone Who Had a Heart” and the Luther classic "A House Is Not A Home", resulting in a very memorable performance by a true icon of American culture. Next was Cissy Houston, being in the 70ies also, giving us her takes of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and "Amazing Grace" accompanied by the gospel-drenched piano of Nat Adderley, Jr. Later Jason Miles got the chance to shine on his hammond organ before the concert was concluded with a reunion of all artists involved for the rousing finale of a truly memorable evening.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:24 PM

Berks Jazz Fest 2007: Joyce Cooling and Nelson Rangell & Philippe Saisse Acoustique Trio

Sunday afternoon we were ready to receive two full length concerts under the banner of Smooth Jazz 92.7 Fan Appreciation Concert featuring Joyce Cooling and Nelson Rangell & Philippe Saisse Acoustique Trio. The event took place at the Sheraton and was well attended.

Berks07_Cooling.jpgThe show was opened by the lovely Joyce Cooling and her band featuring her long time partner Jay Wagner on keys, along with longtime drummer Billy Johnson and a great bass player. Joyce Cooling looks back on a catalog spanning 7 CDs - a thing she admitted not to have expected at the beginning of her career - allowing her to draw from a lot of material. Among the songs they played was the catchy "Daddy-O", the nice "Savannah" and the heartfelt and very personal "Revolving Door" from her current CD for which she sat down on the edge of the stage. Having her brother suffering from mental illness she decided to make people aware of this problem, thus partnering with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and donating parts of the proceeds from her CD and merchandise sales to them, besides the title of her latest CD refers to this topic. The band was in fine form and Joyce played it hot and cool, showing considerable chops and sense for melody and groove. A little samba-style percussion interlude created quite some heat and added some spice, while the solo performance of Joyce just singing and playing her guitar to express her appreciation for the support of the audience for her music made a special impression. This was a solid set by a seasoned band that knows how to please a crowd.

Berks07_SaisseRangell.jpgAfter a short intermission the stage was ready for Nelson Rangell, backed by the great Philippe Saisse Acoustique Trio featuring David Finck on acoustic bass and Scooter Warner on drums. Obviously Nelson Rangell was called for the gig and asked Philippe Saisse to back him up, admittedly playing together for the first time. The pairing of Nelson Rangell and Philippe Saisse worked very well together, the trio providing the flexible backdrop for Nelson to play his flute and sax to great effect. Nelson Rangell is an incredible player constantly striving for perfection in all aspects of his art. Each time I hear him he blows me away with his chops and sound, truly a world class player. The selection of songs ranged from "Dolphin" featuring flawless flute playing by Nelson, the EWF classic "September", both from Philip Saisse's The Body And Soul Sessions, while Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing" and Hampton Hawes' "Sonora" were from Rangell's My American Songbook, Vol. 1. The latter song was a true highlight of the concert having Nelson Rangell whistling the song in the most subtle and intense way, adding some great piccolo flute playing in the end - pure magic! While Philippe Saisse was a bit more in the background, he delivered some great acoustic piano playing and anchored the top notch band, who also shone on their instruments delivering some outstanding solos on acoustic bass and drums respectively. I wonder what the future holds for these two artists who both seem to work very well together. This was a superlative concert by two underrated players.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:12 PM

Dave Brubeck Quartet FirstEnergy Berks Jazz Fest Concert Reset For Friday, April 27

Dave_Brubeck.jpgREADING, PA -- March 19 -- The Dave Brubeck Quartet had been scheduled to open the 17th annual FirstEnergy Berks Jazz Fest. Now the acclaimed group will be performing in Reading a month after the festival has concluded its 10-day run.

The Berks Arts Council announced today that the 86-year-old Brubeck suffered a setback over the weekend in his recovery from surgery for a blood clot and infection that were triggered by a recent ankle injury. Consequently, he and his quartet now will perform on Friday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Sovereign Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $46 and $39.

All tickets will be honored on that date for the show, which first was scheduled for Friday, March 16, and then first rescheduled for Wednesday, March 21. Brubeck's setback over the weekend forced his doctors to be even further protective of his infection situation. Hence, the switch of the concert to its own special BJF date on April 27.

Brubeck, of course, has the sort of legendary stature that makes his twice-delayed Berks Jazz Fest appearance well worth waiting for. He has evolved over five decades into the major figure in the history of jazz as a pianist and composer. The first jazz figure ever to make the cover of Time magazine, he is the leader of perhaps the most widely known and well-traveled quartet in the history of jazz.

In 1959 the Dave Brubeck Quartet released Time Out, which quickly went platinum. The quartet followed its success with several more albums in the same vein, including Time Further Out, Time in Outer Space and Time Changes.

Brubeck continues to write new works, including orchestrations and ballet scores. He tours about 80 cities each year. His last major release, 2005's London Flat, London Sharp, met with wide critical acclaim.

Regarding refunds, patrons can get a refund for the Dave Brubeck concert at the "point of purchase." All refund requests MUST BE made prior to the rescheduled date.

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 1:26 AM

March 19, 2007

Chieli Minucci's Father Passes Away

Minucci_Father.jpgAlthough Chieli Minucci is celebrating another Daytime Emmy Award nomination and the release of a brand-new album, he is also mourning the death of his father. Ulpio Minucci died at his home in Brentwood, California, at age 89, on March 9. Born in Italy, Ulpio emigrated from Italy to the United States in the 1930s after studying at the Santa Cecilia Music Conservatory in Rome and earning a doctorate of law from the University of Palermo. He wrote many songs in his career, including “A Thousand Thoughts of You” performed by Nat “King” Cole and “Domani,” performed by Bing Crosby. In addition to being an A&R representative in charge of talent for Columbia Records, Ulpio composed the theme and musical score for the 1985 animated television series Robotech, as well as the ABC series Saga of Western Man.

On his 2005 CD Got It Goin’ On, Chieli paid tribute to his father with an instrumental song that Ulpio had written called “Love Is Always Young.” It wasn’t the first time Chieli had rearranged one of his father’s songs – he also did it with a song called “Mountains” on his debut solo album from 1994 called Jewels. In addition to Chieli, Ulpio is survived by his wife of 55 years, Catherine, daughter Nina, and three grandchildren.

Photo credit: Bettie Miner, 10/06 (MinerWorksofArt.com)

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:13 PM

March 18, 2007

Berks Jazz Fest 2007: Boney James

Berks0_BoneyJames1.jpgSaturday evening the ever reliable Boney James was scheduled to appear at the Sovereign Performing Arts centre. The house was packed and the show seemed to be sold out. The sax player came with a young band of great players who weren't familiar to me but delivered a solid foundation of phat grooves for Boney to ride on. Boney James has found his voice on the instrument and is easily recognizable, his unique style allows him to communicate through his instrument freely and evoke fond reactions in his fans, many of them female who didn't hide their appreciation of the music. The mood of the music was mostly laid back but the inner fire in Boney's playing generated quite some intensity, sometimes even with a touch of Gato Barbieri. He played several songs from his current release Shine, among them the beautiful "In The Rain" or the gentle bossa nova of "Aquas De Marco (Waters Of March)" where his soprano interplayed nicely with the keys. A great moment of the concert was during the song "Stone Groove" when all the band members exited, leaving the stage to Boney and his drummer who engaged in a very inspired and improvisational interplay, delivering the jazziest moment of the festival for me so far - pure bliss! Boney did also his famous strolls into the audience, once to serenade a lovely woman with his saxophone, and later to visit even the people in the back and on the balcony. The extremly palatable mix of jazz and urban elements delivered by one of the greatests talents on the sax yielded another great evening leaving the capacity crowd in a happy and satisfied state.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 3:26 PM

March 17, 2007

Berks Jazz Fest 2007: Heads Up All-Stars

Berks07_Veasley.jpgSaturday afternoon it was An Afternoon of Heads Up, an all-star event featuring the roster of the Heads Up label. The concert was opened by Pieces Of A Dream which served as the backing band for the rest of the afternoon. Their opening piece gave each member of the band the chance to solo extensively and show their skills, on stage were founders James Lloyd on keyboard and Curtis Harmon on drums, David Dyson on bass and a second keyboard player (regular sax player Eddie Baccus Jr. unfortunately was not present). They played "Wake Up Call" from their latest album Pillow Talk, before the first guest came to the party. It was bass player Gerald Veasley who approached the bandstand from the audience playing his version of "Valdez In The Country" showing his tremendous skills. Then it was the crowd pleaser "Sugar Time" (to be found on his Live At The Jazz Base CD) where he took the lead, while David Dyson took the bass part.

Berks07_Powell.jpgNext was Doc Powell on guitar playing some nice songs from his latest self titled album, among them "Me, Myself & Rio", the Carole King classic "It's Too Late" (where he invited some ladies from the audience to take care of the vocal part) and a great piece called "Circumstances" featuring his Wes-inclined playing. For one song the familiar Berks Jazz Fest horns were added to the proceedings.

Berks07_HeadsUp.jpgThen Joe McBride was brought to the stage to sing a couple of songs, one of them the Norah Jones hit "Don't Know Why", with a sax solo by Marion Meadows and just accompanied by bass, guitar and soft drums. Next was a Bob Marley song "One Love" which went down well with the audience.

After that piano player Bobby Lyle sat at the grand piano and played a beautiful version of Sade's "The Sweetest Taboo", then a gospel-drenched version of "Minute By Minute" and a three-handed piano-version of "A Night In Tunisia" together with the Pieces keyboard players shuffling positions giving each player the chance to shine.

Berks07_Zonjic.jpgAfter that flute player Alexander Zonjic had his share of the afternoon which he used to great effect. He played songs from his last album Seldom Blue, among them the title track which was written by James Lloyd. Alexander Zonjic raised the level of excitement a notch and turned out to be a great instrumentalist and entertainer.

Next star was sax player Marion Meadows who looked as cool as always and played songs from his last two albums Player's Club and Dressed To Chill, his laid-back and sexy grooves were definitely appreciated by the crowd. The rousing finale featured all artists joining together bringing a great afternoon of first rate music to an end.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:08 PM

Berks Jazz Fest 2007: Brian Bromberg

Berks07_Bromberg.jpgDue to the fact that the concert of Dave Brubeck had to be postponed because of health problems it was Brian Bromberg and band to open this year's 17th annual Berks Jazz Festival. It was snowing outside, the roads were covered with snow and driving conditions were difficult, this led to a late arrival of the band who were driving all day down from Boston to Reading. This led to a considerable delay, but the friendly crowd was patiently waiting in the lobby of the Sheraton hanging around, having a drink and chatting with friends. Past 11pm the band was set up, sound check done and ready to play. Brian Bromberg exclusively played his upright acoustic bass for the night, but this didn't mean that we had to do without some groovy and funky playing. The leader held his stellar band together and provided a great selection of tracks from his current album Downright Upright, many of them covers of classic jazz tunes like Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon" and "Cantaloupe Island", Joe Zawinul's "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" or Eddie Harris' "Cold Duck Time". The band was tight, especially outstanding was drummer Dave Weckl who never missed a beat and impressed with some complex and varied playing. On keyboards was Jeff Lorber who did well in the more straight ahead context of this set on acoustic piano and keyboards, I especially liked the smooth "Slow Burn" with its laid back groove. Legendary Randy Brecker on trumpet and Gary Meek on sax completed the lineup, both delivered great solos and tight horn lines. The concert was brought to an end with the composition "Shag Carpet" giving the band ample room to deliver the good stuff. This was a satisfying concert and a great start of this year's festival which holds many more highlights to come.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 4:04 PM

March 16, 2007

15th Annual Capital Jazz Fest

CapitalJazzFest2007.jpgThis year's 15th annual Capital Jazz Festival starts already on Wednesday evening, as usual held at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland May 30 - June 3, 2007. Tickets are on sale now at all TicketMaster locations in the Washington/Baltimore area, including Macy's (formerly Hecht's) and Record & Tape Traders. Tickets are also available online at the festival's web site. More infos are available at www.capitaljazz.com.

The Capital Jazz Fest offers a premium selection of music from both jazz and soul/r&b genres delivering a great mix of music, additionally the event provides a beautiful outdoor atmosphere and lots more. Check out this year's great lineup!

Talent Lineup

Wednesday, May 30
7:30pm
George Benson & Al Jarreau, Gerald Albright

Thursday, May 31
7:30pm
Herbie Hancock, The Jazz Attack (featuring Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Peter White, & Jonathan Butler)

Friday, June 1
7:30pm
Special event!
An Evening with Anita Baker

Saturday, June 2
12 noon-10pm
Pavilion Stage
The Jazzmasters (featuring Gregg Karukas, Shilts, & Chris Standring), David Sanborn, Brenda Russell, Bob James (with special surprise guest), Eric Darius, Ray Parker Jr.
Special guest emcee: Tommy Davidson

Symphony Woods Stage
War, Amel Larrieux, Kindred The Family Soul, Raul Midon, Musiq Soulchild

Plus the 4th annual Capital Jazz Challenge competition

Sunday, June 3
12 noon-10pm
Pavilion Stage
Dave Koz, The Brand New Heavies (featuring N'dea Davenport), Ramsey Lewis, Take 6, Najee, Nick Colionne, Diane Schuur
Special guest emcee: Tommy Davidson

Symphony Woods Stage
Isaac Hayes, The Original Blackbyrds (with special guest Kevin Toney), Vivian Green, Victor Fields, Hil St. Soul

Plus the 3rd annual Capital Jazz Poetry Slam

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:10 PM

Berks Jazz Festival: Additional tickets available for both Heads Up shows, Cooling/Rangell concert at Sheraton this weekend

If you were looking for tickets to the two Heads Up concerts Saturday and the Joyce Cooling-Nelson Rangell-Philippe Saisse concert on Sunday at the Sheraton Reading Hotel, you are in luck.

Tickets are now available for the previously sold-out concerts.

The Sheraton has made the entire ballroom available to the festival this weekend, allowing space for the additional reserved seating.

"An Afternoon of Heads Up" is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

"An Evening of Heads Up" is scheduled for 10:00 p.m. Saturday night.

Both Heads Up concerts feature an all-star lineup of Pieces of a Dream, Marion Meadows, Bobby Lyle, Alexander Zonjic, Gerald Veasley, Doc Powell and a few special surprises.

Tickets are $38 and $33.

The co-bill of Joyce Cooling and Nelson Rangell, Philippe Saisse is scheduled for Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

Tickets are $25 for the Smooth Jazz 92.7 Fan Appreciation Concert. These tickets will go fast. So get your tickets today by visiting the local box offices or calling Ticketmaster.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 4:03 PM

March 15, 2007

Dave Brubeck Quartet Berks Jazz Fest Concert Postponed

Update 19/3: The Berks Arts Council announced today that the 86-year-old Brubeck suffered a setback over the weekend in his recovery from surgery for a blood clot and infection that were triggered by a recent ankle injury. Consequently, he and his quartet now will perform on Friday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Sovereign Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $46 and $39.

All tickets will be honored on that date for the show, which first was scheduled for Friday, March 16, and then first rescheduled for Wednesday, March 21. Brubeck's setback over the weekend forced his doctors to be even further protective of his infection situation. Hence, the switch of the concert to its own special BJF date on April 27.

*******

READING, PA -- March 15 -- The Berks Arts Council announced today that the opening night FirstEnergy Berks Jazz Fest concert with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, scheduled for this Friday night at 7:30 at the Sovereign Performing Arts Center, has been postponed until Wednesday, March 21.

All tickets will be honored at the rescheduled date, also set for the Sovereign Performing Arts Center at 7:30. Tickets are $46 and $39.

The 86-year-old Brubeck injured his ankle recently, which triggered a blood clot on his ankle. On Monday he underwent minor surgery at Yale University Hospital near his Connecticut home to ensure there was no infection.

Russell Gloyd, Brubeck's road manager, said Thursday that doctors are being protective of possible infection and do not want Brubeck traveling for a few days.

"Dave is in fine health otherwise and is disappointed he had to postpone the date," Gloyd said. "But he's looking forward to playing the Berks festival Wednesday."

After Monday's surgery, Brubeck told his manager and the doctors he was committed to doing the concert on Friday. Consequently, Berks Arts Council and Berks Jazz Fest officials stayed the course until Brubeck's medical team on Thursday forced them to alter plans.

Brubeck has evolved over a half of a century into the major figure in the history of jazz as a pianist and composer. The first jazz figure ever to make the cover of Time magazine, he is the leader of perhaps the most widely known and well-traveled quartet in the history of jazz.

In 1959 the Dave Brubeck Quartet released Time Out, which quickly went platinum. The quartet followed its success with several more albums in the same vein, including Time Further Out, Time in Outer Space and Time Changes.

Brubeck continues to write new works, including orchestrations and ballet scores. He tours about 80 cities each year. His last major release, 2005's London Flat, London Sharp, met with wide critical acclaim.

The Berks Jazz Fest, which runs March 16 through 25, features an abundance of great artists, a plethora of wonderfully intimate venues, a schedule of staggering scale and exquisite ensemble concerts.

As usual, the festival features a marvelous medley of musical styles -- contemporary jazz, traditional jazz, big band, blues and more -- and does so with an abundance of great artists, a plethora of wonderfully intimate venues, a schedule of staggering scale and exquisite ensemble concerts.

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 8:52 PM

March 14, 2007

Fresh & funky soul grooves from gifted young saxman Jackiem Joyner scheduled for delivery May 8th

Babysoul previewed by radio single “Stay With Me Tonight”

JackiemJoyner1.jpgA fresh young soul talent will emerge May 8th with the birth of Babysoul, the ARTizen Music Group debut disc from Jackiem Joyner, saxophonist, flutist, songwriter and producer. The artist enters the fray with the seductive soprano sax-led single, “Stay With Me Tonight,” featuring special guest Peter White on acoustic guitar, now collecting adds at radio. Joyner produced the album and wrote ten soul, R&B and funk songs sweetened with touches of contemporary jazz and instrumental pop. Rick Braun executive produced in addition to contributing trumpet and flugelhorn.

Joyner impresses with the confidence in his swagger that reflects maturity beyond his 27 years. His compositions are accessible and inviting yet astute and challenging. As a producer, his sounds and beats are imaginative, sensual and dynamic. Joyner’s lead sax is often in tandem on choruses with his flute, which adds richness and warmth as well as uniqueness. Most of the instrumentation you hear on the album was performed by Joyner. Babysoul opens with a shuffling beat on the energizing “This Time Around.” David Dyson pummels the title track with his robust bass. “Just Groove” is a funky, swinging jam with big horns. The amorous “In Love Again” is a mid-tempo flute and sax duet. Joyner beautifully covers the sexy “Say Yes,” originally recorded by Floetry. “Share My Tears” is a down-tempo commercial ballad. Named for his wife, “Lola” is intricately musical with sax and flute carrying the melody while a kinetic beat dances. “Unforgiven” is another steamy Quiet Storm romancer. Upbeat sax and flute engage in a call-and-response dialect on “Elevation.” Closing the album is “Innocence,” a poignant, heartfelt slow jam.

JackiemJoyner_Babysoul.jpg“I want my debut album to speak about who I am as well as make a statement from a baby artist coming into the game. My message is simple: soulful sax, with the emphasis on soul,” said Joyner coolly. “I love writing music and I’m often awoken in the middle of the night with new songs running through my head. In fact, I’ve already started writing the next album.”

JackiemJoyner2.jpgBorn into a musical family in Norfolk, Virginia (his father was a professional bassist), Joyner’s first experiences in music were in church where he sang in the gospel choir and played drums. After moving to Buffalo, New York for middle school, he picked up the sax. In three consecutive years, the teenager won national youth achievement competitions sponsored by the NAACP in music categories. He moved back to Virginia after high school and became the leader of a church-affiliated music department, which enabled him to travel to perform in Africa. His demo ended up in the hands of keyboardist and Three Key Music label owner Marcus Johnson, who added Joyner to his band. Joyner played with Bobby Lyle and other artists on the label and eventually landed a spot on a 30-city tour opening for Angela Bofill, Ronnie Laws and Jean Carne. He’s also had the opportunity to open for George Duke, Najee, Phil Perry and Bob Baldwin. Now Joyner’s sights are firmly set on supporting his own recordings in addition to creating soul music with impact.

Jackiem Joyner’s Babysoul contains the following songs:

“This Time Around”
“Stay With Me Tonight”
“Babysoul”
“Just Groove”
“In Love Again”
“Innocence”
“Say Yes”
“Share My Tears”
“Lola”
“Unforgiven”
“Elevation”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 4:46 PM

March 13, 2007

Keyboardist-composer Lao Tizer broadens his jazz muse on Diversify

April 3rd album release prefaced by radio single “Uptown”
 
By the time keyboardist-composer Lao Tizer was 17, he had already released three self-produced, self-released solo piano and keyboard albums.  Being an overachiever who ambitiously strives to grow, stretch and achieve new heights comes naturally to him.  Tizer is now set to release an expansive and accomplished sophomore outing with his own band.  Diversify will be unveiled nationally on April 3rd via his Yse Records label, which is distributed by the ARTizen Music Group.  Tizer wrote fourteen new songs for the sumptuous opus that clocks in at over 77-minutes of inventive contemporary jazz that encompasses fusion, classical, World Music, Latin and instrumental pop tapestries.  He also co-produced the record, with his long-time guitarist Jeff Kollman seated in the producer’s chair.

Radio was recently serviced the first taste of Diversify, the funky, hooky, accessible urban-powered “Uptown,” a song Tizer and his band use to close their dynamic concerts.  Although he records under his own name, Tizer is quick to emphasize the group aspect of the project and the invaluable contributions the band makes to his music both in the recording studio and on stage.  He humbly shares the spotlight equally with Jeff Kollman (guitars, programming), Steve Nieves (vocals, saxophones and percussion), Christopher Maloney (bass) and Drew Megna (drums).  Special guests on the album include guitarist Chieli Minucci (Special EFX), violinist Karen Briggs (Yanni, Chaka Khan), percussionist D. Munyungo Jackson (Sting, Stevie Wonder) and saxophonist Andy Suzuki (Michael Franks, David Benoit).  While diverse, the songs are seamlessly bound by a thread that keeps the collection cohesive.  As a composer, Tizer deftly dispenses simple intoxicating pop melodies, astute and complex compositions that incorporate a variety of musical stylings, fun and robust R&B-funk jams, and beautiful, sensitive moments that touch and emote poetically.

“The music on the album represents what inspires me.  It’s a combination of influences including World Music, funk and intimate moments,” explained Tizer.  “The message behind the album is about being open to the music and the journeys it can take you on if you allow it.  It represents diversity and the melding of composition and improvisation.  It’s the combination of both (composition and improvisation) that can elevate the musical experience from the mundane into something truly special.”
 
Tizer’s fiery, youthful and compelling concerts play a major part of what makes the artist a complete musician.  He’ll lead his band out to launch the push to support the album release on the concert trail on April 13th by opening for legends George Benson & Al Jarreau at the prestigious Jacksonville Jazz Festival in Florida.  
 
A native of Boulder, Colorado, Tizer began his performing career early when as an enterprising 14 –year-old, he played at outdoor malls for tips to earn money to repay his parents for the money they loaned him to purchase a keyboard and P.A. System.  The teenager started producing and selling albums, which is how he met his first manager.  After moving to Los Angeles, Tizer met Minucci, who mentored the youth and produced his debut band recording, Golden Soul (2001).  The disc spawned the popular radio single, “Her Poetry,” a track that hit the Billboard and Radio & Records charts and garnered him a “Best New Artist” nomination at the 2002 National Smooth Jazz Awards.  Additional information can be found at www.laotizer.com.               
 
Lao Tizer’s Diversify contains the following songs:
 
“A Night In The City”
“Uptown”
“Diversify”
“Flow”
“A Hui Hou (Til We Meet Again)”
“Olivas Adobe”
“Summer Dayz”          
“Autumn Sky”
“Improvisation”
“Up A Notch”
“Namaste”
“November”
“Rapture”
“Ella’s First Light”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:38 PM

March 12, 2007

Rachel Z, Tim Price Set For Shows at L'Arte della Vita

As released on the BerksJazzFest.com site, the Abraham Lincoln Hotel will be one of the "hot spots" for late-night jazz during the Berks Jazz Fest. The Lincoln management will transform the L'Arte della Vita restaurant into a jazz cabaret on both weekends of the festival, featuring top-notch entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights starting at 10 p.m.

Headlining on March 16 and 17 will be outstanding pianist Rachel Z and Berks County saxophonist Tim Price, who will team up with Rachel Z's trio for some great late-night jazz. No strangers to Berks Jazz, these two have given us marvelous shows at Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base in recent years.

RachelZ_piano.jpgThrough the course of her career, Rachel Z has always managed to have it both ways. On the one hand, her recorded work presented an accomplished piano stylist with a gift for improvisation; on the other she marketed herself with the savvy of a rock performer. That is hardly surprising given her other gig as keyboardist to innovative rock artist Peter Gabriel. Z managed to present the music of Wayne Shorter and Joni Mitchell on successive albums in a way that gave equal musical weight to each and which matched its musical voice to its subject completely.

TimPrice.jpgIn the last few years, Tim Price has had the good fortune to have bands of his own featuring world-class players like Lew Tabackin, Rachel Z, Allison Miller, and Scott Lee. His stature at the North Sea Jazz Festival couldn't have been more prestigious with a backup band of Bennie Green on piano, Ray Drummond on bass, and Carl Allen on drums. Tim's special guest that night at the end of his set was Dutch superstar tenor titan Hans Dulfer.

Make your reservations now. Call 610-372-3700.

To learn more about these fantastic artists, please visit:

www.rachelz.com
www.timpricejazz.com

To learn more about the Berks Jazz Fest, visit www.berksjazzfest.com

Happy Jazzin'

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

Photos courtesy of : Michael Packard and the Berks Jazz Fest

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 1:26 AM

Berks Jazz Fest's Big Band Saturday

The FirstEnergy Berks Jazz Fest promises to bring back the vibe of the swinging '40s with its Big Band Saturday on March 24.

The first of two shows, Ladies of Jazz featuring Toni Lynne, Sharon Bailey, Suzie Ernesto with The Last Big Band, will be at 1 p.m. in The Abraham Lincoln Hotel Ballroom.

Later that evening, Trumpet Summit featuring Dave Stahl & His Big Band with special guest trumpeters Brian Lynch, Scott Wendholt and Alex Sipiagin takes the stage in the Abraham Lincoln ballroom at 8 p.m. Both shows are WEEU 75th Anniversary Celebration Concerts.

Tickets for the Ladies of Jazz show are $20; Trumpet Summit tickets are $25.

The Ladies of Jazz will take the audience on a musical journey of the great American songbook. Lynne was the recipient of the 2006 Frank Scott Award, presented by the Berks Arts Council. She's been singing for more than 40 years. Bailey is a freelance vocalist who leads several of her own ensembles. Her most recent CD, It Never Entered My Mind, was released in 2005 and has been getting great reviews. Ernesto and cousin, guitarist Ed McCartan, formed Relatively Speaking and released a CD titled Relatively Speaking & Friends, which includes bassist Gerald Veasley as a special guest.

The Last Big Band is a perennial favorite at Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base. Trombonist Jim Zoller and trumpeter Roger Morgan have assembled 17 of the area's top musicians for this first-rate jazz orchestra. Along with the old chestnuts from the classic swing era, the band's repertoire includes contemporary big band charts, plus outstanding original charts from the band's own arrangers.

On saxes and woodwinds: Mike Solick, Ken Blekicki, Henry Frecon, Bob Fanelli, Chris Heslop, Phil Forlano; on trombone: H. Lee Southall, James Zoller, John Loos, Bill Schaller; on trumpet: Joe LoBalbo, Roger Morgan, Rick Lacey, Gene Umbenhouer; Dave Heck on piano; Bob Carl on bass; John Rozum on drums; and Mike Byrne on guitar. H. Lee Southall is the musical director.

The Trumpet Summit will be a high-energy show headed up by Berks County's Dave Stahl and his big band, sharing the stage with world-class trumpeters Lynch, Wendholt and Sipiagin. Stahl has performed as lead trumpet and as a soloist with many of the top bands in America. He reformed his own big band in 2001.

Lynch won the Best Latin Jazz Album 2006 Grammy award for Simpático, The Brian Lynch/Eddie Palmieri Project.

Wendholt is an articulate, passionate, and lyrical trumpeter who approaches music with energy and spirit. As a soloist, Sipiagin has seven recordings to his credit. Today, Sipiagin regularly performs, records and tours worldwide with Dave Holland, the various Mingus groups, and the Monday Michiru Band.

Don't miss these fun, high-energy shows at this year's Berks Jazz Fest.

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

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, Butch Reed and Pablo Baptista 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 -- The annual Skip Norcott Concert, presented by the Reading Pops Orchestra, with special guest guitarist David Cullen, Kutztown University's Schaeffer Auditorium, 4:30 p.m., $20.

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, Sherrod Barnes, Barry Danielian, 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


Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 1:18 AM

March 11, 2007

Victor Fields - Thinking Of You

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. Thinking Of You is the brand new CD from soulful vocalist Victor Fields and it is testimony to his talent and professionalism that some of the biggest stars in smooth jazz have hurried in to perform on it with him. This is Fields fourth solo release and represents a further step on the journey to discovering his true musical identity. It has been an adventure that began in 1998 with his debut album Promise and which passed a significant milestone in 2002 when he forged a partnership with producer Chris Camozzi. This collaboration led to the release of 52nd Street, a recording which found a place on the Billboard’s jazz album chart and featured guest performances from Chris Botti, Jeff Lorber and Gerald Albright. Three years later Fields and Camozzi returned with an expansive collection of love songs. Simply titled Victor it ran the gamut of traditional and contemporary jazz, through R&B to theatrical Broadway like themes. Now, with smooth vocals shimmering over funky tracks, Thinking Of You takes Fields through a further evolution and moves him from being a jazz vocalist with overt urban tendencies to the real smooth jazz deal.

For the most part Fields uses Thinking Of You as a vehicle to re-imagine some the coolest R & B cuts of the last thirty years. However, the depth to which he delves for some really rare and diverse examples means that this is far from simply being a collection of covers. The mellow ‘Butterflies’ that was made famous by Michael Jackson is a case in point and very much in the same mold is Fields exceptional take on ‘For The Cool In You’. Originally from the acclaimed Babyface album of the same name it’s a wonderful example of what might be termed urban smooth jazz. In fact a smooth jazz vibe is never too far away and the featured guitar of Chris Camozzi for the Marvin Gaye classic ‘What’s Going On’ really gets the job done. The excellent Blackbyrds hit ‘Walking In Rhythm’, with Fields gentle tones gelling faultlessly with soulful sax from Richard Elliot, is equally compelling and Elliot’s ARTizen stable-mate Rick Braun maintains the contemporary jazz mood with his atmospheric flugelhorn on the Stevie Wonder composition ‘Creepin’. Fields makes this former Luther Vandross hit feel as smooth as smooth can be but ratchets up the soul factor for his version of the Gap Band's ‘Yearning For Your Love’. With wonderful sax from Vince Lars and picture perfect backing vocals from Nicolas Bearde and Sandi Griffith this is one of the albums standout songs while just as good is ‘When Somebody Loves You Back’. Taken from ‘Life Is A Song Worth Singing’, the 1978 breakthrough album by Teddy Pendergrass that moved him to true solo stardom, this new rendition glistens with a sumptuous and understated horn arrangement plus more great backing from Bearde and Griffith.

Fields restrained handling of the Bill Withers classic ‘Lovely Day’ benefits from the cool Fender Rhodes of Jeff Lorber and it's Lorber who also contributes two original songs to this smoothly soulful collection. The mid tempo ‘Its In Your Vibe’ is in the pocket from the get go and generates, as the title would suggest, a hugely hypnotic vibe. It’s a contender for best track on the album but just shading it is the title track for which Lorber also provides a writing input. With Lars again massive on sax and a haunting chorus that gets in your head and won’t go away this sensuous chunk of chilled out mood music is a modern day quiet storm classic in the making.

As smooth jazz continues to evolve and adapt there is every chance that the vocal component will play an ever more significant part. That being the case Victor Fields is well placed to take the genre to a new and exciting level.

For more on Victor Fields go to www.victorfields.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 9:11 AM

March 10, 2007

Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns In New Palms Showroom

Guitarist/vocalist Jerry Lopez and his long standing band, Santa Fe & the Fat City Horns, move into the Pearl Showroom at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas for a one-time concert. The band has been holding down the Monday night spot at the Palms recently with much success.

Gino Vannelli, contemporary pop-jazz vocalist who garnered hits back in the late '70s and early '80s with songs like "I Just Wanna Stop", "Living Inside Myself", and "Black Cars", will be performing at the Suncoast Hotel March 23rd-25th. Gino's brother, Joe, has been at the helm of keyboards and musical direction throughout Gino's career, and should be present as well.

Candy Dulfer, the first lady of smooth jazz saxophonists who first came to prominence back inthe late '80s and early '90s with top chart hits and several guest apearances on the old Arsenio Hall show, will be performing in the Chrome Showroom at the Santa Fe Hotel on March 30th.

The Suncoast Hotel will feature guitarist Estaban on March 31st, a multi-format friendly musician who gained much notariety in the last few years through his nationally televised infomercials promoting his specially designed acoustic guitars.

Posted by Danny Desart at 4:47 PM

March 9, 2007

Guitarist Jeff Golub’s Grand Central opens with a strong buzz

Jazz-blues-rock homage to New York City critically-praised
 
Celebrating the diversity and bustling energy of the city he’s called home for more than twenty years, guitarist Jeff Golub’s Grand Central album was released in record stores Tuesday (March 6th) by Narada Jazz/Blue Note Label Group.  The vibe he captured is “live,” as if he grabbed his guitar, headed down to a dimly lit, gritty blues or jazz club in New York City, plugged in and started jamming with a talented group of friends.  That’s pretty much how the album was recorded, although it was tracked in several recording studios.  However, Golub, who produced most of this, his seventh solo album in addition to writing or co-writing eight songs, kept things loose and casual, allowing the musicians the freedom to improvise and freely explore the jazz, blues, rock, R&B and pop melodies and rhythms.  There’s nothing particularly smooth about this edgy musician who brings blues and rock to contemporary jazz.  
 
Taking its title from an old Dentyne commercial, “Hello Betty” prefaced the album release at radio where the signature Golub track is swiftly moving up the chart.  The funky horn section and a bumpin’ groove on the Rick Braun-produced cut get scorched by Golub’s cool-toned, incendiary guitar lead.  Special guest appearances and contributions to Grand Central were made by Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Kirk Whalum, Philippe Saisse and Paul Brown, with Braun and Brown producing a few tracks.  But the NYC cats Golub was primarily chillin’ with were drummers Steve Ferrone and Shawn Pelton, Chris Palmero (keyboards, Hammond B3, rhythm guitar), Mitchel Forman (piano, organ & string synth, Fender Rhodes & clavinet), bassist Lincoln Goines, percussionist Luis Conte, saxophonist Dave Woodford, and trombonist Nick Lane while Steven Miller co-produced, recorded and mixed the record.

Golub, who begins co-headlining the national Guitars & Saxes Tour with Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum and Tim Bowman at the Nokia Theatre in New York City on March 24th with concert dates that run through the end of the summer, is getting some love from the media.  He’s scheduled to appear on an episode of Smooth Jazz Television, record an intimate performance for Sirius Satellite Radio, and grace the cover of next month’s annual guitar special issue of West Coast trade Music Connection magazine. 
 
The album reviews have also been quite favorable.  Jazz USA stated, “Jeff Golub's new release (his seventh solo album) is full of fire and energy.  It has a distinct New York City vibe and manages to capture the artist in his own unique element.”  All Music Guide wrote, “At his best, as on this exciting collection, he's raw and just a bit dirty, wailing with his buddies and having some loose, energetic fun…He plays it mostly fast and funky, but shows a unique emotional depth…”  ABYSSJazz Magazine enthused, “The result is vintage Golub – funky, fresh and infused with the spontaneous feel that live sessions engender.  It's a diverse set of originals and covers with highlights galore…You can tell the musicians are having a grand time creating this music.  It's a New York vibe with universal appeal!”  Smooth Jazz Therapy concurred, “…this natural flare he has for delivering raw and honest recordings spills out into every one of the eleven choice tracks.  Although a delicious mix of rock, pop and electric plus acoustic blues, excellent examples of R&B tinged contemporary jazz also abound…”  SmoothViews declared, “Sometimes you hear guys like Jeff Golub, who used to back rockers like Rod Stewart, referred to as ‘former rockers.’  I’ve seen Jeff play live.  There’s no ‘former’ about him.  He’s still a rocker!  And with his latest release, Grand Central, Golub brings on the feel and flavor of New York City with tracks that cover everything from jazz to blues to rock.”
 
Additional information can be found at www.jeffgolub.com

Posted by Peter Böhi at 4:13 PM

March 7, 2007

Norman Brown Finishes First CD For Peak Records

Grammy Award-winning guitarist Norman Brown has just finished his seventh solo album and his first for Peak Records, which was co-founded by Russ Freeman of the Rippingtons. The CD, Stay With Me, is Brown's follow-up to 2004’s West Coast Coolin’. The new CD has 10 songs, most written or co-written by Brown. In addition to playing the guitar, Brown will once again show off his vocal skills.

The album gets its title from a song written by Brian McKnight, who sings on the song with Brown. Also guest starring on the CD are saxophonist Kirk Whalum, trumpeter Rick Braun and guitarist Paul Brown. In fact, Brown, Whalum and Braun all perform on the song “It Ain’t Over BWB.” BWB was the name of the group featuring the trio that released a CD in 2002 titled Groovin’.   Other songs on the all-original CD include “Let’s Take a Ride,” “So in Love,” “You Keep Lifting Me Higher” and “Every Little Thing.”

Stay With Me will be released on April 24.

Stay With Me Track Listing
1. Let’s Take A Ride (Norman Brown) - (4:59)
2. You Keep Lifting Me Higher (Norman Brown/Lloyd Tolbert/Nikkole Hall) - 4:18
3. Pop’s Cool Groove (Paul Brown/Norman Brown/Jeff Carruthers) - 4:24
4. It Ain’t Over BWB (Norman Brown) - 4:37
5. So In Love (Norman Brown) - 5:58
6. Stay With Me (Brian McKnight) - 3:32
7. Soul Dance (Jeff Carruthers/Norman Brown/Paul Brown) - 4:14
8. Every Little Thing (Norman Brown) - 4:43
9. A Quiet Place (Norman Brown) - 3:49
10. I Need You (Norman Brown/Kenneth Williams) - 4:49

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:33 AM

March 4, 2007

Jacksonville Jazz Festival 2007

Mayor Peyton and the City of Jacksonville Announce 2007 Jacksonville Jazz Festival Activities and Lineup

Jazz-07-poster-web.jpgThe City of Jacksonville is proud to announce an exciting lineup of activities for the 2007 Jacksonville Jazz Festival Friday, April 13 through Sunday, April 15.

This year’s festival will take place in three downtown venues: The Florida Theatre, Metropolitan Park, and the Ritz Theatre & LaVilla Museum.

“The Jacksonville Jazz Festival is one of the city’s marquee events,” said Mayor John Peyton. “With exciting events and performances scheduled throughout the weekend, it’s a great opportunity for everyone to come out and experience some of the country’s most talented jazz musicians at great downtown venues”.

Metropolitan Park will also be the site of Art at the Met, an art show and sale featuring many of the Southeast’s finest artists and craftspeople and 38° Latitude: A Wine Tasting Experience.

The Florida Theatre will house the Jazz Odyssey: A Retrospective of Photographs by Milt Hinton, an, exhibit from the late Milton J. Hinton, a renowned jazz bassist who captured the lives of jazz musicians at work and play for more than six decades. Photos of Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Cab Calloway are just a few that are featured in this collection. This exhibit will be on display at The Florida Theatre during festival hours Friday, April 13-Sunday, April 15.

General admission to the festival each day is $10 plus applicable service charges. Experience Jazz VIP packages are good at all venues all festival days for $150 plus applicable service charges. Tickets can be purchased beginning Feb. 27 at Noon.

The ‘Round Midnight Jazz Jam on Saturday, April 14 at The Jacksonville Marriott is free to the public. Jazz fans are encouraged to bring their instruments and jam with festival performers.

The Ritz Jazz Brunch on Sunday, April 15 will be $25 at the door.

Complimentary trolley transportation provided by Verizon Wireless to and from Metropolitan Park, The Florida Theatre and the Ritz Theatre & LaVilla Museum will be provided Friday, April 13 – Sunday, April 15, making one-time parking and venue-hopping easy for festival attendees.

Entertainment Schedule
The Florida Theatre- 128 East Forsyth Street
Friday, April 13
6 p.m. Doors Open
7 p.m. The Great American Jazz Piano Competition

The Great American Jazz Piano Competition has been a Jacksonville tradition for more than 20 years. Five finalists, chosen by a selection committee through "blind" judging, will compete for the honor of this award. The first-place winner will receive a monetary prize of $3,500 and will perform at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival 2007 on Saturday, April 14, at Metropolitan Park. The finalists will be announced the week of March 5.

The rhythm section accompanying the five finalists during the piano competition includes Jay Leonhart on bass and Danny Gottlieb on drums. In addition, the 2007 Jacksonville Jazz Hall of Fame inductee, Von Barlow, will perform with emcee Noel Freidline during the competition.

Artists and performance times are subject to change. See Ticket Pricing for complete information.

Saturday, April 14
1:30 p.m. Doors Open
2:30 p.m. Greg Adams
4 p.m. St. Johns River City Band with special guest Diane Schuur
6 p.m. Regina Carter
7:30 p.m. McCoy Tyner

Sunday, April 15
1 p.m. Doors Open
2 p.m. The Original Super Stars of Jazz Fusion featuring Roy Ayers, Jean Carne, Wayne Henderson of the Jazz Crusaders, Ronnie Laws, Jon Lucien and Lonnie Liston Smith with The Ubiquity Band
4 p.m. Noel Freidline Quintet
5:30 p.m. Dianne Reeves

Artists and performance times are subject to change. See Ticket Pricing for complete information.


Metropolitan Park - 1410 Gator Bowl Boulevard
Friday, April 13
6 p.m. Gates Open
7 p.m. Lao Tizer
8:30 p.m. George Benson and Al Jarreau
6 p.m. Art at the Met Art Show and Sale
6 p.m. 38° Latitude: A Wine Tasting Experience

Saturday, April 14
10 a.m. Gates Open
12:30 p.m. The Great American Jazz Piano Competition Winner
1:30 p.m. Douglas Anderson School of the Arts Jazz Ensemble I
3 p.m. UNF Jazz Ensemble 1 with special guest Ed Calle
4:45 p.m. The Dizzy Gillespie™ All Star Big Band under the direction of Slide Hampton
6:30 p.m. Wayman Tisdale
8:15 p.m. Jazz Attack featuring Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler, Richard Elliot and Peter White
10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Art at the Met Art Show and Sale
2 -10 p.m. 38° Latitude: A Wine Tasting Experience

Sunday, April 15
Noon Gates Open
1 p.m. The Kelly-Scott 5tet with special guest Ed Calle
2:30 p.m. The Big 3 Palladium Orchestra
4 p.m. Karrin Allyson Quartet
5:30 p.m. Chris Botti
Noon- 7 p.m. Art at the Met Art Show and Sale
Noon – 7 p.m. 38° Latitude…A Wine Tasting Experience

Artists and performance times are subject to change. See Ticket Pricing for complete information.


The Ritz Theatre & LaVilla Museum - 829 North Davis Street
Friday, April 13
Late Night at the Ritz
8:30 p.m. Doors Open
9 p.m. Urban Jazz Coalition
10:30 p.m. Guitars & Saxes featuring Gerald Alright, Kirk Whalum, Jeff Golub and Tim Bowman.

Saturday, April 14
4:30 p.m. Doors Open
5:30 p.m. Ya’ Gozo’ The Latin Jazz Band
7 p.m. Johnny O’Neal
8:30 p.m. Roy Haynes

Sunday, April 15
10:30 a.m. Doors Open
11 a.m. Jazz Brunch catered by Chef Matthew Medure featuring The PM Xperience Band
Live broadcast of the Na’im Rashid’s “First Sunday Cup” radio show.
1:30 p.m. Marc Dickman
3 p.m. Chuck Mangione

Artists and performance times are subject to change. See Ticket Pricing for complete information.


For more information about the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, call the Office of Special Events at (904) 630-3690 or visit www.jaxjazzfest.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:21 PM

March 3, 2007

Jackiem Joyner - Baby Soul

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. Jackiem Joyner is now just 27 years old yet it’s a sign of his amazing maturity that he has been catching the eye with his live performances since 2001. He has opened for India Arie, Boney James, Spyro Gyra and George Benson but was first noticed by Marcus Johnson who hired him as his touring sax-man. Since then this native of Norfolk Virginia has gone on to work extensively with Bobby Lyle, Jean Carne, Angela Bofill and the great Ronnie Laws. Those who saw him perform at the recent 2007 Smooth Jazz Cruise will have marveled equally at his distinctive soulfully urban sound and the way in which he connected with his audience in both the large and small venue settings that this event threw his way. Relocated to LA, and after taking a year out to create his own new music, he is now fashioning an exciting solo career with his debut release for ARTizen Music Group, Baby Soul.

joynerphoto.jpgProduced by Joyner, who also writes ten of the eleven choice cuts, the CD is further improved by ARTizen’s own Rick Braun who executive produces, mixes and variously plays trumpet and flugelhorn on three of the tracks. Together they achieve commendable balance and, with an array of moods and emotions that range from funky dance elements to a more romantic vibe, Joyner always remains soulfully smooth and in control. That said the most up-tempo track on the album is the tight groove driven title cut. It has a compelling thread running right through it and the luscious full sounding ‘Just Groove’ starts out that way too. Helped in no small part by excellent trumpet from Rick Braun, Joyner flatters to deceive by at first toning it down with his cool melodic playing before really blossoming into a funky finale.

Rick Braun is also there for ‘This Time Around’. It has all the rhythm and melody necessary to place it up there with the best examples of good contemporary jazz and these staple elements are also well to the fore with the album’s first radio single, ‘Stay With Me Tonight’. The instantly recognizable Peter White, who has an exemplary record of contributing to the success of many up-coming artists, gets this one moving and his interplay with Joyner is terrific throughout. ‘In Love Again’ is underpinned by a smoky vibe that provides a tasty platform for Joyner’s mellow playing while with ‘Share My Tears’ he turns it down one more notch for a lusciously romantic groove that he gets just right.

The horn driven ‘Lola’ is dappled with Latin influence and skips pleasantly between Joyner’s heartfelt playing and the big brassy chorus. With a freshness that is invigorating this is a track that shows off his versatility and he switches moods yet again for the warmly gentle yet still soulful ‘Innocence’. Joyner stays predictably tight as he ratchets up the tempo for the compelling ‘Elevation’ then deftly changes gears for the album’s one cover, his sultry rendition of ‘Say Yes’. This erotic slow jam was written by Marsha Ambrosius and Natalie Stewart (aka Floetry) and appeared on their 2002 CD Floetic. It’s a candidate for best track on the album and another personal favorite is the mellow ‘Unforgiven’. Right in the pocket from the get-go this slice of retro tinged late night jazz features wonderful flugelhorn from Braun and excellent electric guitar courtesy of Iouri Ionidi.

Due out in May 2007 Baby Soul is an extremely accomplished collection and signals an association between Joyner and ARTizen that could well be a partnership made in heaven. With the nurturing qualities of the label gelling with the obvious talent and sizzling potential of the artist the name of Jackiem Joyner is bound to be around for a long time to come.

For more on the great music available from ARTizen and latest news on Jackiem Joyner go to www.artizenmusic.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 11:18 AM