June 30, 2007

What We're Listening To * June

P E T E R * B O E H I

Dominic Amato - Fresh From The Groove (2007)
This is a top-drawer album full of great tracks from beginning to end by saxophonist Dominc Amato. Absolutely outstanding, so get it at CDBaby.com!

Ben Tankard - Let's Get Quiet: The Smooth Jazz Experience (2007)
Beautiful, laid-back and polished smooth jazz album by keyboard player Ben Tankard. Has a good cover of Maze's "Before I Let Go" on it.

Jackiem Joyner - BabySoul (2007)
This great newcomer who was taken under the wings of ARTizen label owners Rick Braun and Richard Elliot comes out with his major debut and it is a winner. Top notch artistry throughout, great to see new talent emerge on the scene.

Kevin Kooyumjian - Montery Cool! (2007)
Ok, I admit it: I am a fan of Kevin Kooyumjian. This keyboard player from Monterey delivers one beautiful album after the other with no signs of slowing down. Catchy melodies, jazzy playing and great solos on various keyboards and synths propel you into smooth jazz heaven!

Dotsero - Live at Jazz@Jack's (2007)
This brilliant live CD delivers vibrant smooth jazz at its finest. Flawlessly recorded in front of an appreciative and excited audience Dotsero play many of their finest tracks boasting great compositions and top-notch artistry. This album actually lets you feel the joy of a live concert and makes you want to rush out and attend one yourself. Very recommended!

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

Four80East, En Route (2007 Native Language)

Vibraphonic, Vibraphonic (1993 Hollywood Records)

Billy Cobham, Drum N Voice: All That Groove [IMPORT] (2002 Sony)

Nu Groove Collective, Souls of the Nu Groove (1998 Nu Groove (M.S.)

Paul Brown, White Sand (2007 Peak Records)

D E N I S * P O O L E

'A Love Of Your Own' by Paul Taylor from the CD Ladies Choice. This picture perfect interpretation of the Average White Band classic finds Rex Rideout playing delicious retro keyboards, vocals from Lauren Evans that are at soul factor ten and sax from Taylor that sends shivers down the spine.

'The Message' by Lin Rowntree from his excellent re-released album Groovetree, Featuring the vocals of Leslie Nelson this is a slice of urban jazz that checks all the right boxes.

'Mellow Nights' by J Dee from his outstanding Tippin on the Edge of Funk. This is the albums standout track and shimmers with a sumptuous quality that will draw you in and leave you longing for more. It is contemporary jazz at its outstanding best.

'2 Cool' by Jamie Williams from the CD After Hours. WilliamS is at his edgy best for this hugely funky tune that features an understated hype track from Oddz N Endz and has all the street ¡cred¢ you will ever need.

'Outstanding' by Marcus H Mitchell from the album R & R. This is a welcome new outing for the much loved 1982 classic from The Gap Band and glistens with the vocals of Tara Aldridge that are just perfect.

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

Acoustic Alchemy, This Way (Blue note)

Dee Brown, No Time To Waste (DeLaf Records)

Down to The Bone, Supercharged (Narada Jazz)

Jeff Kashiwa, Play! (Native Language)

Keiko Matsui, Moyo (Shout Factory)

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

Bob James, Angels of Shanghai

Jay Rowe, Red, Hot and Smooth

Chieli Minucci, Sweet Surrender

Matt Bianco, Whose Side Are You On

Brian Culbertson, Come On Up

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

Mocean Worker, Cinco de Mowo! (MOWO! Inc.): A breathtaking mix of beats, jazz, pop and anything else you can throw in there. "Shake Ya Boogie" is sublime.

Floratone, Floratone (Blue Note): Unpredicatable jazz from guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer Matt Chamberlain, but there's much for contemporary jazz fans to groove on, including "Swamped."

Rocco Ventrella, Give Me the Groove (Smooth Sounds Music): You'll flip for the saxophonist's version of Grover's "Soulful Strut" and "Winelight," and the rest ain't so bad either.

Blake Aaron, Desire (Innervsion): Good guitar music from a music veteran starting to get noticed in smooth jazz.

Zap Mama, Supermoon (Heads Up): World flavors from a bountiful vocalist. Not for everyone, as it's a tad eccentric.

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 9:48 AM

J Dee - Tippin On The Edge Of Funk

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. Producer, songwriter and musician John Bolden (AKA J. Dee) is best known for his production and arrangement credits that include Grover Washington Jr.’s 1992 album, Next Exit. Now as a solo artist Bolden steps out with the stage name of J. Dee for his debut project entitled Tippin' on the Edge of Funk. Laden with true urban, jazz, funk and soul grooves it’s a hugely accomplished first outing that shows off the multiplicity of his talents. As well as writing ten of the twelve tracks he also produces and plays both sax and keyboards. In doing so he paints a lavish picture of urban jazz which pulses with a light and shade that at times is tender and at others addictively funky.

Tippin' on the Edge of Funk opens up dramatically with ‘Jah Jah Can’. With a clanking reggae style thing going on, a loping rhythm and soprano sax from J. Dee that is full rich and melodic this is a track that is different enough to get noticed. Switching moods for ‘Esta Noche’ J. Dee brings the listener into the world of ‘in your face’ Latin jazz that’s a great example of the genre while ‘Slo Yo Roll’, with its distinctly big band feel and a vibe that’s both repetitive and compelling, is completely on the money. The title track is every bit as funky as its name suggests it should be. Tight and mid tempo, J. Dee never lets it get out of control and he shows that same classy restraint with the first of the albums two covers, the Michael Franks masterpiece ‘Rainy Night In Tokyo’. His mellow and sensitive treatment of it is perfect to chill to and equally soothing is ‘A Black Tie Affair’. This laid back tour de force glistens with the evocative vibes that are released through J. Dee’s magnificently melodic playing.

When J. Dee plays smooth jazz he has all the rhythm and melody necessary to make it sound fresh funky and different. Tracks such as ‘Ya Dah’, which is underpinned by a kicking beat, and the extremely edgy ‘Kickin High’ are set apart from the crowd by the high caliber of his production and are in complete contrast to the big bold and funky ‘Wednesday On The Westside’. This ability to changes moods and tempo’s is a sheer delight and adds hugely to the overall quality of the album. The CD’s one true vocal cut is the controlled and soulful ‘Loves Gonna Getcha’. J. Dee’s sensitive sax and Claude J Woods lead vocals that are backed in fine style by Latesha Thierry, Dionne Knighton and Rich Figueroa make this a wonderful illustration of the best in smooth R & B. Woods is back, this time with backing vocals, for J. Dee’s instrumental interpretation of the Smokey Robinson classic ‘Quiet Storm’. As smooth as velvet, J. Dee makes it completely his own and goes one better with the albums standout track, the breathtakingly beautiful ‘Mellow Nights’. Shimmering with a sumptuous quality that will draw you in and leave you longing for more this is contemporary jazz at its outstanding best.

Tippin' on the Edge of Funk checks virtually every box on how contemporary jazz in 2007 should sound. Look out for it, buy it and enjoy.

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

Posted by Denis Poole at 8:41 AM

June 29, 2007

Guitarist Blake Aaron's new CD Desire on sale now

Blake Aaron has come a long way from the kid who declared to his mother that he wanted to be a rock and roll musician. A guitarist that is known best for his ability to connect with an audience, Aaron has been a staple on the national music scene for many years as a live performer and in the studio.

A composer with an edge, Aaron has been the guitarist for such television shows as "MAD TV" (FOX), "10-8" (ABC), "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment" (WB), "Gary and Mike" (UPN),"The Ben Stiller Show" (FOX), "Sunday Night Comics" (FOX), and has recorded and/or performed with such artists as Steve Reid's Bamboo Forest, Eric Marienthal, Bobby Womack, Carlos Santana and The Gap Band.

Blake's debut Innervision release, With Every Touch (2001), included special guest appearances by Eric Marienthal and David Benoit.

His second album, Bringin' It Back (2004), propelled Blake into the forefront of contemporary jazz by reaching #26 on the Radio and Records charts. Two singles would reach the top 100 of the year on the smooth jazz charts.

Blake took a brief sabbatical from solo recording to focus on his studio career. Additionally, with the assistance of All Star Music Lessons, Blake would produce three instructional videos for the guitar. Meanwhile, he continued his studio work with several television shows, which included regular recording sessions and an appearance on Mad TV.

In Jun 2007, Blake released the hot CD, Desire. Filled with sizzling grooves and stellar craftsmanship and mastered by the legendary Bernie Grundman (Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie and more), Desire has been on the tip of the tongue of reviewers for some time and is sure to catapult Blake to the next level of contemporary jazz stardom.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:17 AM

June 28, 2007

Michael Lington Wants Your Memories

Lington_Stairs_Big.jpgWhat is your favorite memory of Michael Lington? The smooth jazz saxophonist wants to know. In 50 words or less, you can share your experience with Michael by emailing to teamlington@yahoo.com. Include your name, address and email address. Several people’s memories will be chosen to be included in a future edition of Lington’s newsletter, which he emails to those subscribing to his mailing list at michaellington.com.

Lington is now creating some memories of his own as he is composing songs for a new CD to follow-up last year’s project of his favorite cover tunes, A Song For You. The new CD, which will feature the songwriting and producing talents of Michael Sembello, who collaborated with Lington on 2004’s Stay With Me CD, will have Latin, pop and R&B elements. The saxophonist says all the songs will be originals and there will be a few vocal tunes.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:40 AM

June 24, 2007

Paul Taylor - Ladies Choice

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. Ladies Choice from smooth sax superstar Paul Taylor is his fourth CD on Peak Records, his seventh in total and without doubt his most soulful ever. Starting with the concept of blending six of the most accessible instrumental smooth jazz cuts you will find anywhere with tracks featuring guest performances from four of the best female R & B singers around, this is a collection that has everything right about it. In addition, for the third album in a row, Taylor has turned to Rex Rideout and Barry J. Eastmond to variously add their legendary writing, production and performing skills for an end product that is almost indescribably good. Rideout is best known for his collaborations with Boney James, Larry Carlton and Will Downing among others while Eastmond has worked with everyone from Britney Spears to Al Jarreau, Phil Perry to Freddie Jackson and Anita Baker to Jonathan Butler. Taylor was so enthused by the excitement that each of them brought to his 2003 project Steppin Out that he brought them back for the 2005 Nightlife and now, with Ladies Choice, the partnership are redefining the boundaries of sumptuous ‘in the pocket’ urban jazz.

Paul Taylor has a penchant for vibrant up-tempo, uplifting contemporary jazz and the Eastmond produced title track is a superb example of it. Melodic and entirely radio ready it’s in the exquisite company of the wonderful ‘Here We Go’ that also has Eastmond’s magic touch all over it. In similar vein and every bit as good is the Taylor Rideout collaboration ‘Point Of View’ and when Taylor again hooks up with Eastmond for ‘Streamline’ they deliver what can only be described as a mid tempo stunner. ‘Overdrive’ is rich, soulful and just as strong while Taylor’s sensitive playing coupled with Barry Eastmond’s inventive production makes the evocative ‘Summers End’ a thing of real beauty.

These instrumentals are good enough to grace any album but when spliced as they are here with five exceptionally smooth R & B duets the overall quality is ratcheted to new heights. The complex ‘Long Distance Relationship’ featuring Terry Dexter is produced by the redoubtable Rex Rideout. He also plays keyboards and with Taylor slipping into a mellow mood the result is a fine example of fresh urban jazz. LaToya London takes the vocal lead on the sultry romantic ballad ‘I Want To Be Loved (By You)’. Her interplay with Taylor is breathtaking yet even better is the outstanding ‘How Did You Know’. This Eastmond produced number blends Taylor’s smoking alto sax with the sensual vocals of Regina Belle and, with a hook that is down right addictive, is without question one of the highlights of the entire album. Belle is back to tug at the heartstrings with the luxuriant ‘Open Your Eyes’ that she co-writes with Eastmond. Guaranteed to send the listener into a soulful haze its difficult to imagine anything better yet Taylor tops it with his picture perfect interpretation of the Average White Bands ‘A Love Of Your Own’. With Rideouts delicious retro keyboards, vocals from Lauren Evans that are at soul factor ten and sax from Taylor that sends shivers down the spine this incredibly soulful smoker is as good as anything you will hear either this year or next.

Ladies Choice from Paul Taylor is an absolute joy. Go out and buy it now.

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 12:06 PM

June 23, 2007

It’s going to be a scorching hot summer of R n R

Soul-jazz stars Rick Braun & Richard Elliot unite for the album event of the year
Summer is about spontaneous, energetic fun and a bit of R n R with friends.  Trumpeter Rick Braun and saxman Richard Elliot plan to make this summer swelter.  Circle August 28th on your calendar as that’s the date the hitmen will deliver a cool-jazz treat in what bodes to be the album event of the year in the contemporary instrumental genre.  The dynamic duo wrote and produced R n R, a long-anticipated collection of original funk, R&B, jazz and pop songs that will be released on the ARTizen Music Group record label for which they partner.  Kicking the party off at radio is the groovy title track, an infectious horn-drenched romp that seems both familiar and fresh, which goes for adds June 25th.  However, a track from the album that previously was exclusively available via the ARTizen website, the breezy exotic romance of “Sao Paulo,” is already nearing the Top 10 on the Radio & Records chart.

BraunElliot_live.jpgWith 24 solo albums between them and a massive catalogue of chart-topping radio hits, the thrilling collaboration between Braun and Elliot has been in the making for over a decade.  They’ve toured together for years and have made guest appearances on each other’s records.  When they launched ARTizen Music Group with a couple of music industry veterans almost three years ago, it was only a matter of time before the two heavyweights stepped into the ring together to deliver a knockout album full of punchy beats & rhythms, potent melodies and collaborative sparks that are natural and have roots way beyond the music.  R n R was conceptualized on the fly as they entered Braun’s studio to record without any preconceived ideas.  Armed with grooves from a number of sources, including album contributor’s Jeff Lorber, Rex Rideout and Philippe Saisse, Elliot and Braun wrote the melodies while recording, which was a unique process for them, especially for Braun who played a horn with one hand while controlling the soundboard with the other.  Helping to fill up the tracks were some of their gifted friends such as Chris Standring, Dwight Sills, Gregg Karukas, Lenny Castro, Ricky Lawson and Nate Phillips.  The result is an album that has all the spontaneity and smoldering energy of a live performance.                 
“We’ve had so much fun playing together live that it was time for us to get together musically,” declared Elliot.  “We have different approaches yet they are complementary.  We called upon our roots (Elliot was a long-time member of Tower of Power and Braun played with War) and we constantly bounced ideas off each other.  As much as we let the songs develop and evolve from our interaction, the record was probably more honed and refined than other albums because we were constantly going over the work and tweaking and changing things.”
“Overall, I think the album is very energetic and percolates.  We didn’t want to overpower the melodies by just blasting a lot of horns in people’s faces.  In fact, we did the opposite by using single trumpet, flugelhorn and tenor sax melodies much like old recordings from the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60’s, which gave it an intimate and warm sound.  The horn section parts were doubled to really give it that oomph and muscle.  We treated the lead instruments as would vocalists recording duets, which gave them each a personal voice,” explained Braun.            
Road warriors, Braun and Elliot are already out touring with the perennially successful Jazz Attack line-up that co-stars Peter White and Jonathan Butler.  They’ll be introducing more and more songs from the new album into their performances as the record release date nears.  Braun and Elliot expect to be working the road through the end of the year to support the album. 
Elliot began his recording career young while playing on songs by Motown legends Smokey Robinson and The Temptations.  He was still a teenager when he toured with Melissa Manchester.  That gig led to him spending five formative years playing in the mighty Tower of Power, who molded the impressionable musician into a passionate entertainer.  He put out his first solo album in 1976 and in subsequent years, the Scotland-born, Los Angeles-raised saxophonist became a pioneering voice in contemporary jazz by consistently scoring hit after hit while building a growing legion of fans year after year through his explosive concerts. 
Braun is a trumpeter-flugelhorn player-keyboardist who started his professional career by writing a Top 20 pop hit for REO Speedwagon (“Here With Me”).  The Allentown, Pennsylvania native has played in bands behind Rod Stewart, Sade, Tom Petty, Tina Turner, Natalie Cole and Crowded House.  As a producer, he’s guided #1 hits for David Benoit, Marc Antoine and Avenue Blue.  Since debuting as a solo artist in 1993, twice he has been honored as Gavin’s “Artist of the Year” in addition to collecting a Gavin “Album of the Year” trophy and “Best Producer” and “Best Brass Player” titles from the Oasis Smooth Jazz Awards.     
Rick Braun and Richard Elliot’s R n R contains the following songs:
“R n R”
“Sweet Somethin’”
“Curve Ball”
“The Stranger”
“Da JR Funk”
“Que Paso”
“Better Times”
“Down and Dirty”
“Two Heart Tango”
“Q It Up”
“Sunday Night”
“Sao Paulo”

Catch Braun and Elliot performing on the following Jazz Attack dates (additional dates together and solo that run through the end of the year will be added):
June 21             Frazee Pavilion                           Kettering, OH
June 22             City of Southfield Civic Center    Detroit, OH
June 23             Rodney Strong Vineyards            Healdsburg, CA
July 14              Radisson Hotel                          Sacramento, CA
July 20              The Pageant                               St. Louis, MO
July 21              Chicago Theatre                         Chicago, IL
July 22              Hideaway Park                          Winter Park, CO
August 11          Long Beach Jazz Festival             Long Beach, CO
August 18          Sleep Train Pavilion                    Concord, CA
Additional information is available at www.artizenmusic.com, www.rickbraun.com and www.richardelliot.com.

Photo credits: Bonnie Schendell (Smoothviews.com)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:33 AM

June 22, 2007

First Annual Celebration of Hope

Remembering Luther Vandross with Kirk Whalum and Friends in NYC

By Val Vaccaro
On Sunday, July 1st at 6pm, the Stroke of Hope Foundation (www.strokeofhope.net) will host its first NYC benefit concert in honor of the late, great, beloved R&B/pop singer Luther Vandross, who during his career sold over 25 million records.  The benefit concert will be held at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. 

SOH_Show.jpgIt was two years ago on July 1, 2005 that Vandross passed away, and it was back in April 2003 that he had the stroke, related to diabetes, that ultimately contributed to his death.
According to Luther’s 82 year old mother Mary Ida Vandross, “The Stroke of Hope Foundation is near and dear to my heart. People need to take better care of themselves. I have formed a meaningful relationship with Stroke of Hope and it is my mission now to try to help others.”  Stroke of Hope’s founder and executive director, Hazella Rollins-LaVar, is herself, a stroke survivor with an inspiring story of her own.
The upcoming benefit show will feature saxophonist Kirk Whalum, guitarist Jeff Golub, keyboardist Philippe Saisse and many others. Whalum’s own father is stroke survivor.  Earlier this year in Los Angeles, Whalum performed a show for the Stroke of Hope Foundation.   Whalum said that “I have made a very personal and spiritual commitment to this cause… to use my gift and talents not only to heal, but to educate others while honoring my friend and my father.”
Last November, Kirk Whalum recorded his the song, “Give Me the Reason” on the tribute CD Forever, For Always, For Luther Vol. II (various artists). Fittingly, Whalum (like so many other great musicians) has played on many of Vandross’ original recordings. In 1986, Whalum played on Vandross’ “Give Me the Reason;” in 1988, he performed on “Any Love;”  in 1991, he played on “Power of Love;” in 1993 on “Never Let me Go;” in 1996 on “Your Secret Love,” and in 1998 on “I Know,” as well as a medley of “Night I fell in Love/Give me the Reason/Power of Love.”  
These three top smooth jazz musicians, Kirk Whalum, Jeff Golub and Philippe Saisse have performed with each other live and on many of each others’ recordings as well as hundreds of top pop music artists.

SOH_Luther.jpgSaisse played on Vandross’ 1993 recording “Never Let Me Go” as well as on Whalum’s CD’s including Cache (’93), Colors (’97) and Best of Kirk Whalum (2002). Both Whalum and Saisse played on Golub’s Out of the Blue CD (’99) and current CD Grand Central (2007). Whalum’s played on the Saisse CDs Masques (’95) and Next Voyage (’97). Golub played on the CD Joined at the Hip with Bob James & Kirk Whalum (’96). Golub also played on the Saisse CD Halfway til Dawn (’99).     Golub and Saisse also played on Que Pasa, Gato Barbieri’s CD (’97).
To buy tickets for what should be a great show and a moving tribute: Call the Tribeca Performing Arts box office at: 1(212)220-1460 or order online at: www.tribecapac.org/box_office.htm The Show starts on Sunday at 6pm. Mezzanine seats are $50 per ticket. There are also $100 VIP tickets available for orchestra seats which also include admission to a Pre-Reception from 4pm-5:30pm. 
Proceeds from the show will benefit the Stroke of Hope Foundation.  

In the U.S., stroke is the 3rd leading cause of death, and the #1 cause of long-term disability. For more information, or to make a donation, please visit www.strokeofhope.netStroke of Hope is a non-profit organization committed to improving quality of life for people by creating stroke awareness, promoting prevention and providing support for stroke survivors, their care partners and families by encouraging physical and emotional recovery, and maintaining an on-line support system. Thank you for your support.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 2:14 PM

June 21, 2007

Party Time At The Playboy Jazz Festival

By Ricky Richardson

Johnny-Polanco.jpgFestival Productions organizers of the 29th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival (presented by L.A. Philharmonic Association) were fortunate enough to have a distraction free Fathers Day weekend June 16-17, 2007.

The NBA Finals was finished two days before the festival. Paris Hilton was resting comfortably in her jail cell. The weather was pleasantly warm with a Caribbean breeze hovering over the Historic Hollywood Bowl for this year's highly anticipated jazz festival of the summer.

The festival got under way with the Eagle Rock High School Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Greg Samuel. The band superbly performed big band tunes of Duke Ellington 'Boy Meets Horn' and a tune by Miles Davis entitled 'All Blue'. The talented young musicians from Eagle Rock High School Jazz Ensemble were cool, calm and poised as they performed at the historic Hollywood Bowl and were humbled and honored to be on the same line-up as other well established jazz musicians.

The staged rotated and things got pretty hot with a performance by Johnny Polanco Y Su Conjunto Amistad. This very busy and very popular L.A. based band played a spicy set of Latin Jazz and salsa. People were dancing in the aisle throughout his set which consisted of 'Llegue', 'Mambo Inn', 'Palo Pa Rumba', and 'Picadillo' - a tribute to the late great Tito Puente, followed by 'Cuarto do Tula', 'Preparato Bailador. It should be noted that Johnny Polanco is proficient at playing thirteen different instruments. He played only three for this show-the trombone, cuarto and vibraphones.

Angelique-Kidjo.jpgThe highlight of the entire weekend came courtesy of a dynamic performance by Angelique Kidjo. She made a bold statement throughout her energetic set as she strutted and danced across the stage and at one time ventured out into the crowd. Ms. Kidjo captivated all in attendance with her singing as well as the dances that she showcased from Africa, Brazilian Samba and Salsa. She was backed by a wonderful band that propelled her hour long set. Rubens de la Corte - guitar, Joao Moto - guitar, Stephane Castry - bass, Ibarhim Diagne - percussion and Harvey Wirth - drums. Their highly entertaining set featured the following tunes: 'Papa', 'Djin Djin', 'Arouna', 'Salala', 'Gi Mi Shelter', 'Malaiha', 'Mama Golo', 'Senamou', Africa', and closed out with 'Tumba'. Don't be surprise if you see Angelique Kidjo on the bill for the 30th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival in 2008.

I was concerned if the band that followed Ms. Kidjo would be able to sustain the crowds' attention. My fears were completely laid to rest when The World Famous Count Basie Orchestra directed by Bill Hughes and featuring Butch Miles came out performing an explosive, swinging set of Basie's tunes. This is what jazz is all about listening to 'Down For The Count', 'Little Darlin', 'Half Moon Street' followed by 'April in Paris', 'and 'All of Me with vocalist Melba Joyce. They concluded their set with a rousing rendition of 'One O' Clock Jump.'

Issac Delgado from Cuba who presently resides in my hometown of Tampa, Florida took the musical entertainment up a notch. Just like the seventh inning stretch seen at a baseball game, Issac Delgado and his band got the crowd up out of their seats, off of the benches to dance to the contagious hot Latin sounds of salsa and the new sounds of timba. Several famous Playboy Jazz Festival conga lines snaked throughout the Hollywood Bowl.

Saturday's line-up also featured The James Carter Organ Trio, Cos of Good Music featuring Dwayne Burno, James Carter, Ndugu Chancler, Vincent Herring, Ron Johnson, Ray Parker Jr., Jeremy Pelt and Larry Willis. The Randy Brecker-Bill Evans SoulBop Band with Hiram Bullock, Dave Kikoski, Victor Bailey and Rodney Holmes, The Phil Woods Quintet featuring Bill Charlip, Brian Lynch, Steve Gilmore and Bill Goodwin. Chris Botti and Buddy Guy closed out the evening.

The festival got under way on Fathers Day appropriately enough with one of TV's popular sons - Malcolm-Jamal Warner (Theo - from The Cosby Show) and his group Miles Long. He opened the show grooving with some smooth jazz with a mixture of hip-hop and spoken word. The song 'The Beat Don't Move Me Like It Use To' spoke to the changing world of hip-hop with all of its negative connotations. 'Sprung' talked about his experience with a long distance relationship. Malcolm-Jamal Warner performs in the play Love & Other Social Issues at the Assistance League Playhouse, 1367 N. St. Andrews Place, Hollywood, and CA. conclude on July 1. This is a play about love, loyalty, inner-city life and more, accompanied by a jazz-funk ensemble Call (323) 960-7784 for more information

Pianist Taylor Eigsti is another young rising star on the jazz horizon. He solidified his status during his performance at the Playboy Jazz Festival and at festivals, concert halls and jazz clubs all over the world. He was assisted by Rueben Rogers on bass, Eric Harland on drums and Julian Lage on guitar performing 'Get Your Hopes Up', 'I've Seen It All' by Bjork, 'Caravan' and closed out with 'Argument' based on the chord changes to 'All Blue' by Miles Davis.

The party continued with Nathan and The Zydeco Cha Chas. More dancing in the aisle with secondline dancing and handkerchiefs waving were evidence in the crowd.

Red-Hollyway.jpgThe next major highlight of the festival consisted of a performance by Red Hollyway. The legendary saxophonist was celebrating his 80th Birthday with a set of straight-ahead jazz and some blues with special guest Kevin Mahogany. I was tapping my feet and snapping my fingers on the tunes 'You've Changed', 'The Way You Look Tonight', and joined onstage with Kevin Mahogany with 'Time is Getting Tougher Than Tough', 'Fools Rush In', 'What Price Love' and closed out with an up-tempo version of 'Route 66'.

Rounding out day two of the 29th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival featured the talents of Richard Bona, Terence Blanchard, Marcus Miller, Dianne Reeves, The World Premier of Arturo Sandoval's Mambo Mania Big Band, Etta James And The Roots Band and finished off with Norman Brown's Summer Storm featuring Peabo Bryson, Marion Meadows and Jeff Lorber.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:49 PM

June 20, 2007

Rendezvous Offers Free CD By Svoy

Rendezvous Entertainment, which was co-founded by Dave Koz and is now celebrating its five-year anniversary, has decided on a unique avenue to gain exposure for its latest signing, the single-named artist Svoy. The label has decided to offer the artist’s entire CD titled Eclectric as a free download through Aug. 15.

Although many record labels offer a song or two for free, offering an entire CD free of charge is Rendezvous’ attempt to get people to listen to an artist it feels strongly about. Eclectric, originally released on May 1, is an intriguing mixture of pop vocals and chill tunes from the Russian-born artist who studied at the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston and now lives in New York.

To take advantage of the offer, go to freesvoy.com. Anyone with a valid email address can download the entire album in unrestricted mp3 format. You will be asked to supply your e-mail address for directions of how to download it. In addition, in an attempt to get others to hear the CD, you will be asked to give the e-mails of three people you think might be interested.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:47 PM

June 15, 2007

Jeff Kashiwa Announces New CD And Tour Dates

Contemporay jazz saxophonist to release new album, Play, on July 31

JeffKashiwa_live.jpgOn Tuesday, July 31, 2007, Jeff Kashiwa will release Play, a brand new CD featuring over a dozen great tracks. Play is Kashiwa’s fourth outing for the Native Language Music record label. Kashiwa is also out on the road and has announced a number of upcoming tour dates.

One of the most diverse sax players in all of contemporary jazz, Jeff Kashiwa is a Seattle native who established himself as a dynamic live saxophonist during his amazing decade-long tenure with The Rippingtons. Kashiwa used some of his down time from the group to lay the foundation for his solo career, which has included five previous albums and a #1 hit on the Radio & Records chart with “Hyde Park (The Aah, Ooh Song).”

At the emotional core of his new CD Play are the eight Kashiwa-produced tracks recorded live at Sounden Studios with his band Coastal Access. In addition to longtime members Allen Hinds (guitar), Melvin Davis (bass) and Dave Hooper (drums), the saxman brought in legendary Yellowjackets keyboardist Russell Ferrante to play sparkling acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes, along with famed percussionist Lenny Castro.

Coastal Access is the ensemble appearing on Play’s first single, the sizzling retro soul-flavored funk jam “Forever.” The fiery track is already getting a great response from NAC radio. Some of Play’s other songs include the exotic, reggae-tinged “Blue Jeans”; the sensuous “New View,” and a lush ballad, Fall.” The adventurous “Way Out West” features drum programming by Kashiwa’s Native Language labelmates Four80East). “The songs cover a lot of stylistic territory, from funky pop to more classic traditional jazz,” said Kashiwa. “They’re all part of my new definition of ‘play’ - to be free, to engage in joyful activity. We just got in the studio and said, let’s play. Let’s really play!”

Kashiwa is looking forward to bringing that energy and freedom to his fans across the United States with his upcoming tour. For updates, visit nativelanguage.com/jeffkashiwa.

Date Venue City Appearing With
6/23/2007 City Of Southfield Civic Center Detroit The Sax Pack
6/24/2007 City Of Southfield Civic Center Detroit The Rippingtons Reunion Band
6/30/2007 Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center Redondo Beach Coastal Access
7/4/2007 Fourth of Jul-Ivar's Celebration Seattle Coastal Access
7/13/2007 House of Blues Dallas The Rippingtons Reunion Band
7/14/2007 One World Theater Austin The Rippingtons Reunion Band
8/1/2007 Spirit Cruise New York City The Rippingtons Reunion Band
8/2/2007 The Birchmere Alexandria The Rippingtons Reunion Band
8/3/2007 Summer Nights Series @ Penn's Landing Philadelphia Ken Navarro
8/4/2007 IMAC Theater Huntington The Rippingtons Reunion Band
8/12/2007 Long Beach Jazz Festival Long Beach The Sax Pack
8/16/2007 Scullers Boston The Rippingtons Reunion Band
8/17/2007 Scullers Boston The Rippingtons Reunion Band
8/18/2007 Scullers Boston The Rippingtons Reunion Band
8/24/2007 Chastain Park Atlanta The Rippingtons Reunion Band
8/25/2007 Icicle Ridge Winery Leavenworth The Northwest All Star Band
9/14/2007 Hyatt Newporter Newport Beach The Rippingtons Reunion Band
9/15/2007 Mablehouse-Barnes Amphitheater Mableton The Sax Pack
9/16/2007 Thorton Winery Temecula The Rippingtons Reunion Band
9/23/2007 Jazz'Salive! San Antonio The Rippingtons Reunion Band
9/28/2007 Lyman Center New Haven The Sax Pack
9/29/2007 IMAC Theater Huntington The Sax Pack
10/13/2007 San Bernadino County Fair Victorville The Rippingtons Reunion Band

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:31 PM

June 6, 2007

Gerald Albright For Three Big Nights

Gerald Albright will bring his award winning, and aggressively entertaining saxophone sound to the Suncoast Hotel for three big nights, June 15-17.

Saxophonist Jimmy Mullidore, who has performed behind everyone from Elvis to Diana Ross, offered up one night of jazz at the Gold Coast Hotel on June 4th to a very responsive audience.

Ottmar Liebert,whose signature acoustic guitar work has built a fanbase for well over a decade, returns to the Railhead Showroom at The Boulder Station Hotel for one night only on Saturday, June 9th.

Talented and unique, Keiko Matsui's keyboard style and compositions have enjoyed several years of success with her new age-jazz approach to music. She returns as well to The Boulder Station Hotel on Friday, June 22nd.

The fairly new and very popular hotel, Red Rock Station, hosts one special evening with a performance from the Grammy Award Winning and very talented singer Lauryn Hill, who has been in and out of the eye of the industry for the last few years.

And on a sad note, the equipment gear used by Santa Fe And The Fat City Horns was stolen a few weeks back from their storage. The band, however, with the help of local musicians and friends, have been able to continue their successful engagement on Monday night at The Palms Hotel. Anyone knowing of any information leading to the whereabouts of the band's equipment should email Jerry Lopez at bigvox@cox.net, or leave information on the band website at www.santafeandthefatcityhorns.com.

Posted by Danny Desart at 4:00 AM

June 5, 2007

Abair, Braun And White Plan Holiday CD

For the past few years, fans have been treated to holiday music by guitarist Peter White, trumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Mindi Abair during the annual A Peter White Christmas tour. Now, the trio is collaborating on a Christmas CD that will be offered in time for this year’s tour, the fifth overall. It will be released by the ARTizen Music Group, co-founded by Braun.

The CD will be representative of the live show and will include Abair's original song "I Can't Wait for Christmas" and a new original from the saxophonist titled "The Best Part of Christmas." You can also expect White's arrangement of "The Christmas Song" and "River," as well as Braun's arrangements of "Jingle Blues" and "Little Drummer Boy," among many others.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:23 PM

June 4, 2007

Marc Antoine's New CD Returns To Classic Style

antoine_2007_sjv.jpgMarc Antoine, who has scored five No. 1 Smooth Jazz singles with his trademark acoustic Latin and flamenco guitar sounds, has wrapped up a new CD titled Hi-Lo Split. The CD, his eighth overall, marks a return to Antoine's smooth nylon-guitar sounds and is his first for Peak Records. His previous CD, 2005’s Modern Times, experimented with hip-hop and techno rhythms.

Featured are 11 songs, including titles such as “For a Smile,” “Silk & Steel,” “Cancun Blue,” “Tomorrow” and a cover of the Classic IV’s classic hit single from 40 years ago, “Spooky.” Antoine, who lives in Spain, used mostly local musicians for the CD, including keyboardist Frederic Gaillardet, bassist Andre Manga, trumpeter Manuel Machado and saxophonist Bobby Martinez.

Hi-Lo Split, named after a type of poker game, will be available July 24.

Hi-Lo Split

For a Smile (Antoine) – 4:14
Hi-Lo Split (Antoine) – 5:23
Spooky (Buie/Cobb/Middlebrooks/Shapiro) – 4:03
Silk & Steel (Antoine) – 5:00
Cancun Blue (Antoine) – 4:47
Groovin' High (Antoine) – 4:43
Forever (Antoine) – 5:31
Panacea (Antoine/Stevens) – 6:26
Bossalectro (Antoine) – 4:11
Voodoo Dool (Antoine) – 5:07
Tomorrow (Antoine) – 4:08

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:43 PM