September 30, 2007

What We're Listening To * September

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Every X You R Near’ by Soul Ballet from the CD Lavish. Hypnotic in the extreme Rick Kelly uses tight percussion and subliminal vocals to lay the foundation for an increasingly urgent beat that glistens with lavish strings and cool yet compelling guitar.

'Movin On' by Jeff Kashiwa from the CD Play: With the excellent horn section of David Mann, Barry Danelian and Michael Davis, this uplifting slice of smooth jazz really hits the spot. Kashiwa shares writing credits with Miles Gilderdale who also features on acoustic guitar. The result is a brass driven masterpiece that is seriously addictive.

‘Sunny’ by Justin Young from the CD On The Way. This accessible mid tempo track finds Young completely in sync with Rod Long on keyboards with whom he seems able to routinely produce picture perfect pieces of in the pocket smooth jazz.

‘Shine’ by Blake Aaron from the CD Desire. With Paul Brown providing creativity as producer and performer, neat programming touches from Browns pro tools guy DC, the excellent Roberto Vally on bass, stunning flute from Jessy J and Aaron at his melodic best, this could well be one of the standout smooth jazz tracks of the year.

‘Haven’t You Heard’ by Tom Braxton from his CD Imagine This. This Patrice Rushen smash originally appeared on her 1980 release Pizzazz which featured the then fledgling session musicians Gerald Albright and Paul Jackson Jr. Here it is given a new lease of life by Braxton who in doing so fashions what is likely to remain as one of the best covers of 2007.

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

Peabo Bryson, Missing You (Peak)

Eric Marienthal, Just Around the Corner (Peak)

Kirk Whalum, Roundtrip (Rendezvous)

Brian Simpson, Above The Clouds (Rendezvous)

Soul Ballet, Lavish (ARTizen)


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

Jeff Kashiwa, Play, (Native Language, 2007)

George Benson, Breezin’ (Warner Bros., 1990)

The Mann Brothers, Mann to Mann, Early album by David Mann on Saxophone and brother Ned on keyboards.

Grover Washington, Jr., Mr. Magic (Motown, 1995)

Jay Soto, Stay Awhile (NuGroove, 2007)


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

Marcos Ariel, 4 Friends (Tenure): I highly recommend the latest from the Brazilian pianist. If you like mellow bossa nova, it'd be tough to pass up.

Najee, Rising Sun (Heads Up): Strong CD from the veteran saxophonist.

Rick Braun and Richard Elliot, RnR (ARTizen): A complete winner - smart, catchy, jazzy.

Brian Simpson, Above the Clouds (Rendezvous): Dave Koz's musical director makes great piano-led smooth jazz.

Kirk Whalum, Round Trip (Rendezvous): The best saxophonist in smooth jazz remakes some classics and throws in some spoken word and rap.


P E T E R * B O E H I

Marcus Johnson - The Phoenix (2007)
Keyboard player Marcus Johnson hits the nail on the head with this new release full of memorable melodies, funky grooves and most of all outstanding playing of all involved. Superlative stuff!

Joey Sommerville - Like You Mean It (2007)
Trumpet player Joey Sommerville definitely moves up to the top ranks of the smooth jazz scene. On this very entertaining album he is joined by Wayman Tisdale, Phil Perry, Bob Baldwin, Rhonda Smith and Mike Phillips yielding some great results. Very recommended!

Keiko Matsui - Moyo (2007)
Being on her own again after splitting up with Kazu Matsui hasn't affected her artistry at all. This album is full of uplifting, spirited music in her inimitable style boasting top-notch musicianship. This woman doesn't stop to amaze and enlighten her audience.

Jay Soto - Stay Awhile (2007)
This guitar player must be the next smooth jazz superstar waiting to break through. This is an outstanding release full of top-drawer smooth jazz that epitomizes the genre, ably supported by Jeff Lorber, Paul Brown, Michael Lington, Euge Groove, and Jeffrey Osborne. It doesn't get much better than this!

Neil Larsen - Jungle Fever (1978)
This is a great classic record from back in the day featuring the outstanding guitar work of Buzz Feiten with "Sudden Samba" being an all-time favorite of mine. Get this one on CD and add the High Gear album on Japan Import while supplies last!


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

Pat Metheny and Brad Mehldau, Metheny Mehldau Quartet (Nonesuch 2007)

Down to the Bone, Supercharged (Narada 2007)

Jay Soto, Stay a While (Nu Groove Music 2007)

Maysa, Feel the Fire (Shanachie 2007)

Jeff Lorber, He Had a Hat (Blue Note 2007)


D O R E E N * H A Y W O O D

SOMETHING OLD: To pay homage to the standard bearers
Alice ColtraneJourney in Satchidananda (GRP, 1970)

SOMETHING NEW: To remind me not to despise small beginnings
Jeanette Harris BandReflections (J & M Records, 2007)

SOMETHING CONTEMPORARY: To keep me forever young
Blake AaronDesire (Innervision Records & Entertainment, 2007)

SOMETHING FEMALE: To keep me bonded with my sisterhood
JanitaSeasons of Life (Lightyear, 2006)

SOMETHING FROM AFRICA: To nourish my cultural heritage
Abdullah IbrahimBest of Abdullah Ibrahim (EMI Music, 1999)

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 3:39 AM

September 26, 2007

Answer: 94.7 the Wave. Question: Guess who's turning 20?

Greek-Theatre.jpgWritten by The Jazz Gypsy

Photos courtesy of The Greek Theatre
www.greektheatrela.com

The popular Los Angeles radio station KTWV, 94.7 The Wave Smooth Jazz, turned 20 this year, officially on February 14, 2007. To commemorate this important occasion,"The Wave" is celebrating in grand style with two full evenings of jazz, R&B, and soul music under the stars.

Michael-McDonald.jpgBilled as the Mercedes-Benz Wave Fest, music lovers will enjoy the intimate outdoor amphitheatre setting of the world-renowned, award-winning Greek Theatre. “The Greek” is nestled in the picturesque tree-lined setting of Griffith Park.

Below is the line-up for this much anticipated event.

Indie-Arie.jpg7:00 p.m., Friday, September 28th -
Michael McDonald, Patti Austin, Marc Antoine, Poncho Sanchez

7:00 p.m., Saturday, September 29th
India.Arie, Ziggy Marley, Ottmar Liebert, Phillippe Saisse Trio

Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster outlets including Wherehouse Music, select Macy’s locations and Ritmo Latino. To charge by phone, call (213) 480-3232 or (714) 740-2000. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com, or at The Greek Theatre Box Office.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 2:04 AM

September 25, 2007

Jazz at the Beach with Boney James & Paul Taylor

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Photographs by Kendall Dixon
www.filx-photography.com

Pier & Ocean Background.JPGTake a hot and sunny day, add in the beautiful blue waters of the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop, dot the shoreline with classic California palm trees, mix in two of the hottest saxophone players in the business and shake it up with a few thousand avid smooth jazz fans and you’ve got the perfect beach party.

Sunday, September 23, 2007, 3,000 smooth jazz fans from San Diego to Los Angeles defied the severe weather warnings that predicted tropical rains and came out en masse for an afternoon of sax on sax. Produced by KiFM, San Diego’s Smooth Jazz 98.1 The Breeze, the sold out event was held at the historic Oceanside Pier in Oceanside, CA. Kelly Cole, on air radio personality from the station opened the show and introduced Peak Recording artist saxophonist Paul Taylor.

Paul Taylor.JPGTaylor immediately laid down a sensuous tone for his set as he launched into "Here We Go", from his new 2007 release, Ladies Choice, that is currently in the top 10 on the national smooth jazz charts. From there, the audience snapped their fingers, swayed their arms and swiveled their hips to three additional songs from Ladies Choice including the title song, “Ladies Choice”, “Love of Your Own”, and “Long Distance”. Also, to the sheer delight of the crowd, Taylor performed his ever popular “Pleasure Seeker”, (Pleasure Seeker, 1997), “P.T. Cruiser” (Hypnotic, 2001) and “Exotica” from Taylor’s first release in 1985, On the Horn.

Taylor’s fluid, smooth style, warm charisma and hypnotic rhythms completely enchanted the audience that gave him several standing ovations. Taylor’s band included K.T. Tyler (bass), Ray Mouton (guitar), Boy Katindig (keyboard), and Terrell Martin (drums). Lauren Evans’ lead vocals on “Love of Our Own” and “Long Distance” added a rich, crisp yet sultry sound.

It’s always a pleasure to see Taylor perform, especially since his style and sound is the ultimate personification of smooth jazz. The fans showed their appreciation during the show and afterwards as they formed a long line for autographs, and cd purchases.

BJames serenades fan in VIP.JPGDuring intermission, Mark Vrabel from the All Star Smooth Cruise announced that Haven Entertainment was giving away a free cruise for two at the end of the concert. Both Paul Taylor and Boney James will be performing on the All Star Smooth Cruise, hosted by Norman Brown, which departs from San Diego in January 2008. Other artists on the cruise or scheduled to perform at the land concert prior to sailing to Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, are Kenny G, Patti, Austin, Nick Colionne, Warren Hill, Chieli Minucci, Marion Meadows, Four Play, Larry Carlton, Shilts, Steve Oliver, Alan Hewitt, Acoustic Alchemy, Althea Rene, Kool and the Gang, The Four Tops and The Spinners.

At approximately 5:00 pm with the sun still ablaze in the background, Mike V, Musical Director and Lenny B, on air radio personality from KiFM, introduced two-time Grammy nominated sax star saxophonist Boney James who was greeted with a standing ovation. James’ band, comprised of Eric Daniels (keyboard), Mike Feingold (guitar), Sam Simms (bass), and Omari Williams (drums), served up a funky back beat that kept the crowd spontaneously jumping up to dance despite the “Dance Police” that kept trying to keep people in their seats. It was a loosing battle…..because everybody knew it was a beach party not a wake! Even Boney encouraged everybody to keep on groovin’ as he left the stage to serenade the guests in the VIP section before catapulting to the top of the stairs to perform in the midst of enthusiastic fans in the bleachers.

Lauren Evans.JPGBoney’s extended 11-song set included "Into the Blue", "All Night Long", "Stone Groove", "In the Rain", "Let it Go", "Metropolis", "Aguas De Marco", A medley of "Ain’t no Sunshine", "Creepin'" and "Sweet Thing", "Total Experience", "See What I’m Saying" and "Grazin’ in the Grass". Although the party ended at the beach at about 6:20 pm, I’m sure the smooth vibe continued well into the night. Now that’s a beach party!

The happy winner of the All Star Smooth Cruise hosted by Norman Brown was a smooth jazz fan from Chino Hills, CA.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: Boney’s new Christmas cd was just released on September 19th and features duets with R& B stars Chante Moore, Angie Stone and Anthony Hamilton. Trumpeter Rick Braun also reunites with James on this holiday classics cd.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 4:59 PM

September 24, 2007

Warren Hill Offering Live Show Audio

Several smooth jazz artists have offered songs recorded live in concert as a bonus to their fans. Saxophonist Warren Hill is now taking that one step further: he is putting the audio of several of his live shows online. You can check out excerpts as free downloads or purchase the entire show for $7.99. The shows are in the mp3 format.

Hill has posted four shows online at popjazz.com. They are from the following shows: July 21 in Springfield, OH; July 22 in Atlanta; Aug. 10in Long Beach, CA; and Aug. 14 in Dundee, NY.

Hill will be joining keyboardist Jeff Lorber and guitarist Jeff Golub on the inaugural A Funky Little Christmas tour beginning in November.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:57 AM

September 21, 2007

Kenny G Latin CD To Be Released On Valentine's Day

Kenny G will release a new CD focusing on Latin melodies and sounds on Valentine's Day 2008. Although he has not yet settled on a final track listing, the saxophonist has been playing songs to be included on the CD in recent concerts and says most of the music will be original.

Since releasing the all-new Paradise CD in 2002, the saxophonist has offered two Christmas CDs, a best-of collection, a duets CD and his current I’m In the Mood for Love … The Most Romantic Melodies of All Time. Of course, Kenny has given his fans a taste of Latin music in the past. On 1999’s Classics in the Key of G, for example, he covered Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Desafinado” and “The Girl From Ipanema,” the latter featuring the vocals of Brazilian vocalist Bebel Gilberto. And the Paradise CD featured songs with such titles as “Brazil” and “Spanish Nights.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:51 AM

September 20, 2007

Living The Good Life via the Wine and Jazz Experience

Wine-Jazz-Logo.jpg
Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Photography courtesty of Mario, Wine and Jazz and Spaghettini
CD Artwork courtesty of Bettie Grace Minor

Wine and Jazz
www.wineandjazz.com
805.658.1153


Be sure and read The Jazz Gypsy Tip at the end….it’s a great news scoop!


WineJazzGroup.jpgFor those of us who work hard we know the value of playing even harder. Enter the ultimate indulgence……..the Wine and Jazz Experience. Proprietors, smooth jazz fans and wine lovers, Mike and Cindy Nordskog, have found a winning combination by pairing smooth jazz with the finest wines delivered to your door (home or office) every two months. To celebrate the pairing, the Nordskog’s also produce Wine and Jazz Autograph Sessions for each new release. These give smooth jazz fans the rare chance to meet and talk with the artists in a relaxed and fun atmosphere and taste wine.

In just 18-months, this new company has carved out a unique niche in the smooth jazz industry with their first 10 wine and jazz packages:

Pkg. No.- Artist(s) - CD - Wine - Wine Package Release Date


10. Rick Braun & Richard Elliott, R & R, Benessere Vineyards, 9/07
09. Nick Colionne, Keepin’ it Cool, Tobin James Cellars, 7/07
08. Shilts, Head Boppin’ , Firestone Vineyards, 5/07
07. Michael Lington, A Song For You, Rodney Strong Vineyards, 3/07
06. Marion Meadows, Players Club, Steltzer Vineyards, 1/07*
05. Randy Singer, Harmonica Dreams, Marilyn Remark Winery, 11/06*
04. Loren Gold, Keys, Orfila Vineyards, 9/06*
03. Mindi Abair, Life Less Ordinary, Wilson Creek Winery, 7/06*
02. A. Ray Fuller, The Weeper, Gainey Vineyard, 5/06*
01. Jimmy Reed, For The Family, Irish Vineyards, 3/06*

* Although individual cd’s of these artist are available, these Wine and Jazz packages are sold out.

waj_shipment10.jpgWhat is The Wine and Jazz Experience?


  • High quality wine and smooth jazz music are paired to create a unique experience.

  • Each shipment is elegantly packaged with two bottles of wine, two winery logo glasses, one smooth jazz CD, and one specially-minted, limited numbered commemorative Wine and Jazz collector coin.

  • Vintners from each winery include messages, promotions, and special insights for their winery.

  • Featured smooth jazz musicians include letters and autographed photographs

  • Shipped to your home or office every other month.

  • Complimentary Smooth Jazz News Magazine

Each Wine and Jazz package is only $99, plus shipping and handling. Members are automatically billed and shipped to every two months (Six times a year). And individual orders and gift packages are also available.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: Here’s the scoop on the next two Wine and Jazz packages and signings:

PeterWhiteChristmasGroup.jpgIn November, Wine and Jazz presents a special Holiday Wine and Jazz Package with smooth jazz artists Peter White, Rick Braun & Mindi Abair, featuring:

  • The upcoming “A Peter WHITE CHRISTMAS” CD, with Peter White, Rick Braun & Mindi Abair, released by ARTizen Music Group (www.ARTizenmusic.com)

  • 2 bottles of specially selected wine

  • A special White, Braun & Abair Holiday Wine Glass,

  • A Commemorative Wine and Jazz Collector’s Coin

WarrenHill_Spaghettini.jpgJoin White, Braun & Abair for a special Wine and Jazz Autograph Session:

When: Sunday, November 18, 2007
Where: Spaghettini Grill & Jazz Club
3005 Old Ranch Parkway
Seal Beach, CA 90740
(www.spaghetini.com)
562.596.2199

Time: 11:00 – 3:00 pm - Reservations are highly recommended.


Also, note: In January 2008 the Wine and Jazz Experience will feature Euge Groove. In celebration, there will be a Wine and Jazz Autograph Session at a TBD date.

Brunch6.jpgThese Wine and Jazz Autograph Sessions are held during Spaghettini’s (known by the locals as “Spags”) highly popular Smooth Jazz Sunday Champagne Brunch. The White, Braun & Abair (and Euge Groove) events are sure to sell out well in advance. Make your reservations early……or you’ll miss out!

With a well-crafted and easy to navigate site, www.wineandjazz.com features wine and jazz packages, a smooth jazz store that sells cd’s for $11.98 or less, wine accessories, women’s and men’s apparel and artwork by noted artist Bettie Grace Miner (www.MinerWorksofArt.com) . WineandJazz.com also has an extensive listing of wineries, concerts, festivals, cruises, wine tastings and related events.

Don’t forget that the reasonably priced Wine and Jazz Experience makes the perfect gift for the holiday season or a special occasion gift for the smooth jazz fan.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 3:18 AM

September 16, 2007

Contempo September 2007

A mainstay on the smooth jazz charts and festival stages since the mid-90s, Paul Taylor hit a significant career milestone this past May when Ladies’ Choice — his fourth release for Peak Records and seventh overall — debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Chart, the first time he’d ever hit the top slot right out of the box.

The titles of his previous albums seemed designed to capture the joyful seduction the saxman conveys in his sensuous rhythms and melodies: Pleasure Seeker, Nightlife, Hypnotic. Yet the moniker of his latest project goes further, reflecting not only the grooving, retro vibe of the music, but his fascinating impact as one of the genre’s genuine sex symbols. Most smooth jazz sax players write and perform amazing make-out music, but few cast the Tom Jones like spell that Taylor does when he’s onstage.

Those big first week sales indicate that husbands and boyfriends are snatching up his music, too, but ask any female who’s ever fallen under his sway during a live performance: he’s their choice. He’s been happily married to his wife Laronda for 19 years, but that doesn’t stop his fans from coming up to him afterwards for photo op, a hug and kiss, and fantasizing about more.

Taylor enhances his natural charisma with a strong stage presence and sense of showmanship that comes across as casual, yet shows an awareness of his own personal charm and the simmering power of his music. For the past ten years or so, the ladies lucky enough to have seats in the first rows have clamored for a shot to get onstage with about ten fellow pleasure seekers and accept his invitation to come up and slow dance along as he plays one of his trademark hits, “Deeper.” The moment has become a crowd-pleasing staple of his set. Those who don’t make it up cheer vicariously for those that did and hope they’ll have a chance next time.

“The idea for the ‘Deeper’ thing happened when we were putting together a tour in support of my Pleasure Seeker CD,” Taylor says. “The title track was #1 on the radio charts and it was important for me to create a show that could keep that positive momentum going. The idea to bring one or two fans up came from Andi Howard (Taylor’s manager and co-founder of Peak Records). We started small and when it was clear that the audience was digging it, I started inviting more and more women onstage and it became a vibe. There have been shows over the years where I haven’t done it and no one complained, but I’ve learned over the years to go with my strengths. It started as an experiment, but as it grew I became more aware that this was a great opportunity to touch my fans with more than simply the music.”

Before his gig as a sideman for Keiko Matsui which led to his emergence as a solo artist with 1995’s On The Horn, Taylor cut his chops playing in numerous showrooms in his adopted hometown of Las Vegas. The razzle-dazzle clearly rubbed off. “Working so many gigs in Vegas was great for building my confidence and learning the value of putting on an entertaining show,” he says. “I knew I always wanted to be a star playing the sax, so when I had the chance to do my own shows, I felt it was important to do everything I could to have an advantage. The music has to be there, but I also worked on my image. When my first album came out, I had one of those perm, bi-level haircuts that were trendy at the time, but then I grew these dreadlocks and liked how they looked.

PaulTaylor_live.jpg“It’s all about enhancing what comes naturally to you, and finding ways to be interesting to people,” he says. “It’s so flattering to have such adulation and for women to consider me sexy. Part of that’s genetic, and I think it’s the way I approach the horn as well. If the image they respond to enhances their appreciation for my music, and helps me connect with them in a more meaningful way, that’s great for everyone.”

Ironically, Taylor wasn’t thinking about his frenzied fans when the title of the new album came to him. Preferring a natural flow in the studio to over-conceptualizing his projects, Taylor came up with the cool moniker when he and producer Barry Eastmond were listening back to the song that became the title track. Its thumping, discofied Chic flavor reminded the saxman of a distinct 70s club vibe. In those days, there was a sweet moment during the night when the DJ would stop the music, take the mic and turn the moment over to “Ladies’ Choice” - an invitation for the girls to choose the guys they wanted to boogie with.

Once the concept grabbed hold, Taylor took it to heart and invited four exciting female soul singers to the party as lead vocalists on five of the eleven tracks: LaToya London (a former American Idol finalist who released her debut album on Peak), who sings the tender candlelight ballad “I Want To Be Loved By You”; labelmate Regina Belle (the crisply romantic “How Did You Know” and the soaring “Open Your Eyes”); Terry Dexter (“Long Distance Relationship”); and Lauren Evans (a horn-splashed cover of AWB’s “A Love Of Your Own.”) Taylor insists that surrounding himself with these ladies was a purely creative move, but he’s excited about the multi-format possibilities it offers as well; even as the title track was rising on the smooth jazz airplay charts, Peak released “How Did You Know” to Urban AC radio outlets.

“Obviously, this is the best reception I’ve gotten for one of my albums, but I don’t think it’s because I did anything different than what I always do,” he says. “Each time out, I just want to make the best music I can, working with great producers like Barry and Rex Rideout. I think I have a gift of making good melodies and I’m happy I can do that. I dreamed of having a #1 album when I was a kid, and now to be there after so many close calls is the coolest thing and very fulfilling. I guess I just made all the right choices.”


With the release of his Peak Records debut White Sand earlier this year, Paul Brown still only has three solo discs to his credit — but no single person has had a greater impact on the smooth jazz airplay charts over the past 15 years. Google him sometime and you’ll find close to 50 #1 Radio & Records airplay hits for everyone: Boney James, Larry Carlton, Kirk Whalum, Al Jarreau, George Benson and Patti Austin, to name a few. In 2006, he started competing with himself; his version of “Winelight” was ranked by Mediabase as the most spun track of the year, and he also had chart-toppers with Norman Brown, Euge Groove and Peter White. He’s doing it again in 2007, starting the summer with three songs on R&R’s Top Ten: “Rhythm Method,” the first single from White Sand; Norman Brown’s “Let’s Take A Ride” and Peter White’s “Mister Magic” (Brown digs Grover!).

Not surprisingly considering his resume of brilliant pals, Brown makes it a party on White Sand, keeping his guitars up front while celebrating a mix of old school and contemporary soul textures. Billing the artist credit as Paul Brown & Friends, he’s got everyone contributing: Boney James, Al Jarreau, Euge Groove, David Benoit, Rick Braun and Bobby Caldwell (a killer vocal of “Mercy Mercy Mercy”). He also spotlights his current touring sax player, Jessy J, who will soon be giving Candy Dulfer and Mindi Abair a run for their money, and another newcomer, the torchy vocalist Lina.


Personal Taste

1) Keith England, Standards, New & Used (SwingSet Music) – An homage to the idea of “it’s never too late,” the former rock backup singer joins forces with brilliant pianist, arranger and producer Mike Melvoin on a stylish mix of standards (Gershwin, Ellington, et al) and snappy Melvoin originals that fit beautifully alongside the greats.
2) Acoustic Alchemy, This Way (Blue Note)
3) Maria Guida, Soul Eyes (Larknote)
4) Dee Brown, No Time To Waste (DeLaf Records)
5) Wensday, Torch Rock (Desert Dreams Records)

Posted by Jonathan Widran at 10:26 AM

September 14, 2007

The Great Escape: A Guide To The 21st Catalina Jazz Festival: Two Decade Anniversary 1987- 2007

Welcome-To-Catalina-Sign.jpgWritten by The Jazz Gypsy

The Catalina Jazz Festival
Oct. 4-7, 11-14, 18-21, 2007
Santa Catalina Island, CA
www.jazztrax.com
1.866.872.9849

It’s easy to see why thousands continue to make the annual pilgrimage to the Catalina JazzTrax Festival on Santa Catalina Island, (usually called Catalina), just off the Southern California coastline. Definitely one of the top 10 smooth jazz festival destinations in the US, The Catalina Jazz Festival, produced by Art Good of JazzTrax, offers unparallel music, ambiance and amenities.

With sixteen days of music, thirty musicians, beautiful beachfront and mountain views, idyllic weather, shops, restaurants, and activities within short walking distance….what’s not to love? Travelers to JazzTrax can tailor their experience to fit their schedules, whether they travel to Catalina for one day, one weekend or consume the full 3-weekend series.

Casino-Ballroom.jpgThe Music:
• Three, 3-day week-ends of music: Oct. 5-7, Oct. 12-14, Oct. 19-21
• Bonus Thursday night unplugged sessions: Oct. 4, 11, 12


The Line-Up: Thursday Night Unplugged Performances
• Oct. 4 – Ray Parker, Jr., Full B-B-Q Dinner & Bar, & Fri. morning secret tour
• Oct. 11 – Mindi Abair, Full B-B-Q Dinner & Bar, & Fri. morning secret tour
• Oct. 18 – Peter White, Full B-B-Q Dinner & Bar, & Fri. morning secret tour

The Line-Up: First Weekend, Oct. 5-7
• Oct. 5 – Paul Brown, Marion Meadows
• Oct. 6 – Jesse Jay, Nick Colionne, Nils, Candy Dulfur• Oct. 7 - Lao Tizer, David Pack, Four 80 East, Mindi Abair

The Line-Up: Second Weekend, Oct. 12-14
• Oct. 12 – Steve Oliver, Kyle Eastwood
• Oct. 13 – Jackiem Joyner, Ray Parker, Jr., Michael Lington, Lee Ritenour w/Patrice Rushen
• Oct. 14 - Oli Silk, Marion Meadows, Jesse Jay, Jazz Attack (Richard Elliott, Peter White & Rick Braun)

The Line-Up: Third Weekend, Oct. 19-21
• Oct. 19 – Lao Tizer, Tim Bowman
• Oct. 20 – Jackiem Joyner, Pieces of A Dream, Greg Karukas, Kirk Whalum
• Oct. 21 – U-Nam, Paul Jackson, Jr., Jesse Jay, Norman Brown’s Summer Storm (Norman Brown, Jeff Lorber, Marion Meadows, Peabo Bryson)

The Time:
• Thursday night unplugged shows start at 8:00 (bus transportation leaves at 4:45 pm)
• Friday shows begin at 7:30 pm
• Sat. & Sun. afternoon shows are at Noon & 2:00 pm
• Sat. & Sun. evening shows are at 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm

Catalina-and-boats.jpgOn weekends, there’s plenty of time before shows to have a leisurely breakfast, jog up the mountain, stroll on the beach, meet friends at the Café for espresso or just sleep in.

Then there’s ample time between the afternoon & evening shows to shop the shops, have a sumptuous evening dinner, and cocktails before heading back to the Casino for the last two shows.

The Pricing:
• Unplugged Thursday nights: $125 - $155, includes a scenic bus tour to and from Wrigley’s Ranch, special under the stars unplugged performance, dinner, & secret casino tour on Friday morning.
• First, Second or Third Week-End Series, 3-days, 10-performances on Fri., Sat. & Sun.: $119.50 - $315.00.
• Single Performances: $25.00 - $75.00, depending on seating, and day & time of performance.

The Ticketing:
• Simple, by phone: 1.866.872.9849
• Convenient on-line, see & pick your own seats: www.jazztrax.com

The Location:
• Idyllic Catalina Island, 26 miles off the coast of So Cal, with mild weather, averaging between 70 – 85° during the day, with cool ocean breezes and 60 – 75° during the night.

The Music Venues:
• The Historic Wrigley Casino Ballroom
• Wrigley’s Ranch - home of the special Thursday night Unplugged Performances

The Transportation:
• Getting To & From Catalina: Ferry, Helicopter, Private Boat or Yacht

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: Save time & insure you get the time reservation you want by reserving your roundtrip ferry ride in advance at www.catalinaexpress.com or call 1.866.872.9849. Catalina Express offers 1-hour transportation from Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point, CA and offers late night service to select ports during the Festival.

• Getting Around on Catalina: By foot, bicycle or golf cart rental, or Taxi

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: Getting around is really easy since downtown Catalina is only 1 square mile and everything is in walking distance. For those with physical disabilities, there are two shuttle lines, one of which will take you from the center of town to the Casino for about $2. Also, Taxi’s charges by the trip, not by the passenger so grab a few friends and pay a flat rate.


Catalina-Hillside.jpgThe Accommodations:
• All unique boutique hotels, no chains here
• Rent a room for one, a cottage for two or a villa for 4 or more

The Jazz Gypsy Tip:
• Avalon Hotels Offer Thursday Discounted Rooms to Get You in a Night Early For Unplugged Under the Stars at Wrigley Ranch:

Catalina Island Inn
Guests attending Thursday Nights ‘Unplugged at the Wrigley Ranch" can ask for a 50% discount on that night’s hotel accommodations. Also offering a 25% discount for "One Night" hotel reservations each Sunday Night of each JazzTrax Festival Weekend. Call for reservations 1 (800)246-8134…….or 1(310) 510-1623

Pavilion Lodge and Hotel Atwater
Save 50% on Thursday Night Rooms if you stay Friday & Saturday Nights. Book On-Line
Or Call 1-800-626-1496

Seaport Village Inn
Book 3 Nights Friday, Saturday, Sunday on Any of the 3 JazzTrax Festival Weekends and get a Thursday Night room FREE, including hot breakfast. Spend 5 days and 4 nights during JazzTrax at Seaport Village Inn, starting at $359 per person (plus tax) including room with a view, roundtrip boat fare, shuttle to hotel, Champagne, and Hot Breakfast. Must reference September JazzTrax E-Mail Alert and call Reservations Staff 800-2 CATALINA 800-222-8254 or 310-510-0344. Not available when booking on-line.

Hamilton Cove Villas
Includes free golf cart with Villa. Ask about possible Thursday night discount on your Villa Rental. Each Condo has Individual Owners. If you have Friday, Saturday, Sunday hotel reservations already at a different hotel, you might ask if they’ll offer a Thursday Night discount for you.

The Dining:
• Beachfront Cafes, Waterfront restaurants offering countless dining options
• Get the freshest seafood, straight from the ocean that’s at your feet

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: Although restaurant prices are very reasonable, if you’re staying on the island for at least a weekend, consider shopping for beverages, snacks and light food fare at the local Vons Market on Metropole Avenue, since most hotel rooms have a small fridge and microwave.

Shopping-Area-at-Catalina.jpgThe Activities (besides the Festival):
• Shopping: Unique, one-of-a-kind stores, not your usual tourist trap shops.
• Sports: Golf, Tennis, Bike Riding, Kayaking, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, Horseback Riding, Parasailing
• Island Tours and Excursions
• Spa Treatments

On a budget? Not to worry. You can enjoy the Catalina JazzTrax experience for less than $100. Here’s how:
• Save on the parking fee at the Catalina Express Terminal by either having a friend drop you off and pick you up from the Terminal or carpool with friends and split the parking fee.
• Check the Catalina Express website (www.catalinaexpress.com) for discount coupons.
• Pack a picnic lunch in a small collapsible cooler to enjoy while on the ferry ride over to the Island or arrive early and have a picnic on the beach. (All food and beverages must be consumed before the show, since no outside food or drinks are allowed in the Casino Ballroom.)
• Purchase the most inexpensive seat, since every seat in the ballroom offers a great view.

Want to splurge? There’s plenty of opportunities for that. Here’s how:
• Arrive by private plane, yacht or helicopter.
• Rent a villa for three weeks.
• Indulge yourself daily with golf, and spa treatments.
• Purchase the best seats available for all 33 JazzTrax shows and the Wine Maker Dinners at the Country Club.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: The “Catalina Insiders” maximize their experience at the Festival by enjoying the “bonus” JazzTrax activities:
• Thursday Night - Unplugged Performances Under the Stars at the Wrigley Ranch
• Saturday Late Afternoon - Wine Maker Dinners at the Country Club
• Each Saturday Night – FREE After Party on the Beach at Descanso
• Each Sunday Night - FREE After Parties at the Landing Courtyard


Useful websites:
Festival Information: www.jazztrax.com

Catalina Island Info: www.catalinachamber.com
Interactive Catalina Street Map: www.catalinaclickmap.com/clickmap/clickmap.htm
Historical Information about Catalina Island: www.answers.com/topic/santa-catalina-island-california

Special Hotel Discounts: www.jazztrax.com/jazz/catalina.html#Anchor-Avalon-10518
Transportation by Ferry: www.catalinaexpress.com

Posted by JazzGypsy at 6:06 PM

September 11, 2007

Weather Report's Joe Zawinul Dies

JoeZawinul_bw.jpgJoe Zawinul, a legendary jazz pioneer credited with bringing the electric piano and synthesizer into the jazz mainstream and who performed and recorded with Miles Davis, died early on Sept. 11 in Vienna, Austria, at age 75. Zawinul had been hospitalized since last month and had Merkel cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.

As a keyboardist, Zawinul performed on Davis’ "Bitches Brew" CD, among others, that helped usher in the era of electric jazz, along with Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. In 1970, he founded the band Weather Report, and in 1987 founded the Zawinul Syndicate. Zawinul is perhaps best-known worldwide for two songs he composed: “Birdland” and “Mercy Mercy Mercy.” The latter song is a favorite of smooth jazz performers. Those who have recorded it include Ramsey Lewis, Jeff Golub, Kenny G, BWB, Eric Marienthal and Kim Waters. Two new versions were unveiled this year – on Brian Bromberg’s “Downright Upright” and Paul Brown’s “White Sand.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:47 PM

September 10, 2007

Making Music That Matters: Artists 4 Children, A Benefit Wine & Jazz Series

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

September 14, 21 & 28, 2007
Imagine That,
Upland, CA
www.weepersfriends.org


Noted R&B guitarist Ray Fuller, who served as music director for superstars Whitney Houston and Anita Baker, and LA’s, 94.7 the Wave's Hugh Fuller will host a roster of celebrated artists in an effort to raise critically needed funds for the Weeper's Friends Foundation's after school program with the YMCA to bring creative arts to at-risk and underprivileged children.

Fri., Sept. 14 – Everette Harp, Frank McComb
Fri., Sept. 21 – Yellow Jackets, featuring Eric Marenthal; Jeff Lorber; Marilyn Scott
Fri., Sept. 28 – Pete Escovedo’s Latin Orchestra & Chielli Minucci

VIP and General Admission seating is available as well as discounts for couples and multi-date concert purchases. VIP admission includes early entry at 6:00 pm, a Q & A mixer with the Artists and dinner.

"Artist4Children is a worth while event that should be supported", says Fuller, who is a long-time supporter of children that have been placed at-risk. "It showcases artists and patrons whose hearts are in the right place and are doing the right thing with their time, talent and treasure."

Weeper's Friends Foundation is a 501(c)(3), 509(a)(1), organization under the National Heritage Foundation. The charitable scope of their work is to nurture gifted and talented artists and encourage them to support children’s causes as they achieve success.

For sponsorship information, ticket prices, and artists updates go to ww.weepersfriends.org or call Michelle at 909.581.1155.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: We will not be remembered for what we got but rather for what we gave in life.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 10:13 PM

September 9, 2007

T.O.P. Tops the List of Artists on the Dave Koz & Friends @ Sea Smooth Jazz Cruise

thumb_DKLogo.gifWritten by The Jazz Gypsy

November 4-11, 2007
Dave Koz & Friends At Sea Smooth Jazz Cruise
Holland America m/s Westerdam
www.davekozcruise.com

The legendary rhythm, blues, soul & funk Tower of Power Band has just been added to the list of artists appearing on the 3rd sailing of the Dave Koz & Friends at Sea Smooth Jazz Cruise, according to Michael Lazaroff, Executive Producer of Jazz Cruises, LLC.

Set to sail on November 4, 2007 from Ft. Lauderdale to San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Kitts and Half Moon Cay, over 1,000 smooth jazz fans will begin a 7-day voyage at sea with some of the top names in the industry: Dave Koz, Greg Adams, Gerald Albright, Marc Antoine, David Benoit, Norman Brown, Peabo Bryson, Jonathan Butler, Eric Darius, Richard Elliott, Jeff Lorber, Keiko Matsui, Chris Stranding, Jody Whatley, special guests, Sypro Gyra, and now Tower of Power. Rounding out the entertainment is comedian Alonzo Bolden and Southern California’s favorite DJ, Jonathan Phillips from Sound Familiar Events.

Special cabin pricing is now available for the less than 50 cabins remaining.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 5:22 PM

Nancy Wilson Turns 70 and Completely Flips the Script!

Written by The Jazz Gypsy


Wednesday, August 29, 20007, 8:00 pm
Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, CA

There are certain expectations that we have about life. In one fell swoop, Nancy Wilson destroyed all those notions about aging, beauty, divas, birthdays and more.

Last night, at the Hollywood Bowl, Wilson appeared on stage to celebrate her 70th birthday in sheer perfection. Everything about her (and the evening for that matter), from the superficial to the deep and complex, was perfect: her hair, her wardrobe, her make-up, her charm, her cadence, her stride, her smile, her voice, her band, her selection of songs, the brief stories she told, her spontaneous laughter during a song, and all her friends who performed were all perfect.

At 70, that is not our expectation. Where were the wrinkles….at least one? Where was the little tell-tell signs that she’d let herself go….just a little? Where was the person who had to help her across the stage? Where were the cracks in her voice indicating she’d lost a bit of her trademark sound? And, at the very least, where was the traditional birthday song, the candles, the cake and the gifts for the birthday girl?

There was none of that. At 70, celebrating her birthday in grand style and high fashion, Wilson completely flipped the script. Instead of receiving gifts, Wilson showered the near-capacity crowd with gifts far that went far beyond her awesome vocal talent. Wilson showed us that at 70:
• Class never goes out of style
• You ARE defined by your friends, choose wisely
• Make good career choices early and stay the path
• Grace is sexy
• You can still be the most beautiful woman in the room, even in a crowd of 18,000 people
• Living well is not only is the best revenge but it also looks damn good too!
• A true Diva is one someone who not only starts at the top of her game but someone that remains there.

Wilson’s celebration included an impressive list of extraordinary artists who were at times accompanied by the Hollywood Bowl’s Big Band (HBBB). Because all the performances were phenomenal, there is no way I can comment on each and keep this article under a zillion words. This is one of those times when the saying, “You had to have been there” is most appropriate. Therefore, the next best thing I can suggest is that you purchase the complete discography of each of the artists below. Here are the songs they performed last night:

Ernie Andrews & HBBB – “From This Moment On”, “You Are So Beautiful”
Regina Carter – “Love Won’t Let Me Wait”
Nnenna Freelon & HBBB – “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”, “If I Had You”
Kurt Elling & HBBB – “Close Your Eyes”, “My Foolish Heart”
Patti Austin & HBBB – “Stairway to Paradise”, “Lady Be Good”
Nancy Wilson, Terence Blanchard & Tom Scott – “Save Your Love For Me”, “Masquerade”
Nancy Wilson & James Ingram – “Wish You Were Here”
James Ingram & HBBB – “100 Ways”
Ramsey Lewis Trio – “To Know Her Is To Love Her”, “Sun Goddess”
Nancy Wilson & Ramsey Lewis – “God Bless the Child”
Natalie Cole & HBBB – “I’m Gonna Laugh You Right Out Of My Life”, “Let There Be Love”
Nancy Wilson & HBBB – “It Don’t Mean A Thing”, “Guess Who I Saw Today”, & A Medley of Wilson’s Hits: “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”, “Save Your Love For Me”, “How Glad I Am”, “When Did You Leave Heaven”, “I’ve Never Been to Me”, “Face it Girl”, “This Masquerade Is Over”, “You Can Have Him”, “The Greatest Performance of My Life”, “Day in, Day Out”.

Arsenio Hall, who was discovered by Nancy Wilson, hosted this celebration.

Nancy Wilson Trio: Llew Matthews, piano; Roy McCurdy, drums; John Belzaguy, bass
Ramsey Lewis Trio: Ramsey Lewis Jr., piano; Larry Gray, bass; Leon Joyce, Jr., drums

Hollywood Bowl Big Band (HBBB): Llew Matthews, Conductor/Musical Director; Trumpets: Wayne Bergerson, principal; Bob Summers, Bijon Watson, Sal Cracchiolo; Trombones: Andy Martin, Principal; George Bohanon, Scott Whitfield; Bass Trombone: Craig Gosnell; Alto Saxophones: Lanny Morgan, Keith Fiddmont; Tenor Saxophones: Rickey Woodard, Tom Peterson; Baritone Saxophone: Tom Scott; Piano: Llew Matthews; Drums: Roy McCurdy; Bass: John Belzaguy; Orchestra Contractor: Brian Miller.

As a writer I know there are certain words you should use sparingly, like the words “perfect” and “legend”. Having said that, I will conclude that Nancy Wilson’s 70th Birthday Celebration at the Hollywood Bowl showcased a legend, performing at a legendary venue with legends that was just perfect.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: To experience perfection, you have to be in the room. Nancy Wilson’s 2007/2008 performance schedule follows. ‘Nuf said.

2007
11/02 - Hyatt Regency, Chicago, IL, (Ticket info: Akiba Bookstore, 1.888.962.5660 x 331)
11/17 - Lyric Theatre, Baltimore, MD.

2008 – Upcoming, check each venue for updates & more information
2/15-16 – South East Symphony, Los Angeles
3/14 – McCallum Theatre, Palm Dessert, CA w/Michael Feinstein
3/28 – Berks Jazz Festival, Reading, PA
4/05 – Cannon Center, Memphis, TN
4/19 – Kennedy Center, Washington, DC
5/4 – Melbourne Jazz Festival, Melbourne, Australia

Posted by JazzGypsy at 4:07 PM

September 8, 2007

Get Out Your Pearls & Little Black Dress: Smooth Jazz Gets All Dressed Up And Has Someplace To Go

Written by The Jazz Gypsy
Pictures by Michelle Wong

PeterWhite_MW.jpgMercedes-Benz (MB) of Laguna Niguel in Southern California was the proud co-presenter and home of 2007 The Taste of Laguna Niguel on Friday, August 24, 2007. Where else would Orange Country’s (OC) well-heeled and cultured crowd feel more at home than at one of the largest MB dealerships in the nation that has an inventory of over 1,600 new and pre-owned vehicles?

Billed as an evening of fine jazz, fine wine and fine food, the event kept their promise. The evening began at 5:00 pm with free valet parking. The registration tables where guests received a program, Passport to the World of Taste, plate, and wine glass were strategically placed in the lobby where guests had to walk through an immaculate showroom displaying glistening new and vintage Mercedes’ en route to the tastings. The showroom also had a parts department that was open for business that looked more like fine men’s clothing store with a million dollar inventory of MB gifts, accessories and parts. The two chocolate and wine bars located on the showroom floor kept patrons returning to be within close proximity of the newest MB C-Class Models displayed in the showroom with eager salesmen nearby.

MichaelPaulo_MW.jpgOutside and beneath the warm California evening air, linen covered tables were placed before a large stage. Food stations lined the perimeter and beverage bars were dotted throughout the courtyard. A separate VIP room offering fine wine, Champaign, chocolates and gift bags from Saks Fifth Avenue was also on the grounds.

Since this was a tasting, I must comment on the food. It was simply to die for. Several of my favorite items included grilled shrimp wrapped in bacon, shrimp & crab risotto served on puff pastry, and the roast beef with gravy & mashed potatoes served in martini glasses with a sprig of rosemary. The Ritz-Carlton Eno Bar, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Salt Creek Grille, Savannah Steak and Chop House, Tommy Bahama’s Tropical Café & Emporium, White Horses, Maestro’s Ocean Club, Nirvana Grille, Javier’s, Infusion, Bristol Farms, Chaparosa Grille and Splashes Restaurant were the featured restaurants.

Providing a perfect pairing for the delectable edibles, California Taste Fine Wine, From the Vine Wine Boutique, Gioia Luisa America, Inc., Nolet Spirits USA/Ketel One Vodka, PRP Wine, Salt Creek Wine Company, Wilson Creek Winery and Wine Pavilion provided free-flowing beverages.

WhitePaulo_MW.jpgRounding out the evening was the music from the surprise smooth jazz artist, Peter White. Appearing with band members Donald Patterson on bass, Kimo Cornwell (of Hiroshima) on Keyboards and La Mont Peoples, Drums, White’s extended set included more than a dozen songs which were all crowd pleasers: "Talkin’ About Love", a Mr. Magic medley including "What Does It Take" (To Win Your Love), "Who’s That Lady", "Papa Was A Rolling Stone"; "Heart & Soul"; "Bueno Funk"; "My Prayer"; "Midnight in Manhattan"; "Hit the Road Jack"; "The Closer I Get to You"; "San Diego"; "Millennium Funk"; and "What’s Going On".

White, who was joined by saxophonists Michael Paulo and up and coming, 19-year old Shannon Kennedy, kept the patrons dancing on both the fast and funky tunes as well as the slow, romantic songs. Who knew the OC could “boogey uggie uggie” to "Papa Was A Rolling Stone"? Even White and Paulo boogied across the stage and each, at different times, fell to their knees, adding drama to their solo presentations.

PeterWhite2_MW.jpgEarlier in the evening, Actor Richard Burgi, who plays the character “Karl Mayer” on the popular, Emmy award winning Desperate Housewives ABC TV series, shared his thoughts on “Fine Tastes for Fine Causes” and introduced the event’s Official Spotlight Charity, Beta Foster Care, and the events’ co-Sponsor, The Laguna Niguel Chamber of Commerce.

Sponsors and local radio station Jazz! FM 88.5, KSBR, broadcasted live from 5 pm – 8 pm. KSBR is a state-of-the-art broadcast facility that reaches approximately 35,000 south OC listeners with a highly successful contemporary jazz format.

KSBR is also widely known and supported by many smooth jazz artists and the OC community during their annual KSBR Birthday Bash that is always held on the Sunday of the Memorial Day weekend. This year, over 30 artists participated in the Bash. Performers listed by instruments were: Sax: Greg Vail, Michael Paulo, Jackiem Joyner; Keyboard: Brian Simpson, Dan Siegel, Rob Whitlock; Guitar: Nils, Chuck Loeb, David Boswell, Ray Fuller, Peter White; Percussion: Mombo Hernandez, Rafael Feliciano, Johnny Blas, Bass: Michael Manson, Max Bennett, Brian Bromberg, Melvin Davis, David Levray, Tony Guerrero, Greg Adams, Joey Sellers, Drums: Evan Stone, Steve Ferrone, Nathan Scott, Donnel Spencer; Vocals: Bill Cantos, Kelly Sweet, David Pack, Sara Gazarek; and Band: Hiroshima kicked off the event with the first two songs.

The Taste of Laguna Niguel seemed to be a huge success. It ended with smiling guests receiving beautiful black paper gift bags embossed with the words “Mercedes Benz” filled with bright orange crepe paper poking out of the tops and many wonderful treats inside.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: When attending a “taste of”, invite a designated driver so you can indulge in the liquor responsibly.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 3:32 PM

September 7, 2007

A Legacy Of Talent Hits Vegas

Kyle Eastwood, son of Clint, brought his phenomenal jazz bass playing to the Santa Fe Hotel on Friday, September 7th to a sold out audience.

Another legacy of greatness is Tito Puente Jr., who is carving his own niche in the jazz world these days, and who will be performing three great nights of latin jazz, September 14-16, at the Suncoast Hotel in Las Vegas.

Jazz violinist Michael Ward, who tore it up this past July for a one night performance, returns to the Plaza Hotel, September 15th.

Smooth chart buster, saxophonist Michael Lington, will be at the Santa Fe Station on September 15th.

Robert Cray brings his blues mastery to the Railhead Showroon inside the Boulder Station Hotel on September 21st.

Kudos to Santa Fe And The Fat City Horns for releasing their live CD, recorded at the Palms Hotel. The band reflects a lot of tightness and professionalism, not to mention some great tunes. The Palms has extended their loyalty to this unit based on a packed house every single Monday night they have performed.

Rocky Gordon will return to the Gordon Biersch Brewery on Sunday, September 16th, with some new material inclusive with selections from his current release, Alone In The Crowd. And congrats goes out to Rocky's daughter, who was an American Idol Top 12 finalist from Season 4. Mikalah Gordon is currently filming an episode for CBS' The Unit as the prime guest star, the character being a pop star performing in Iraq. it's her first major breakout role.

Posted by Danny Desart at 5:49 AM

September 6, 2007

Rick Braun and Richard Elliot Top Both Billboard and R&R Charts

Braun_Elliot_RnR.jpgTrumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Richard Elliot have accomplished a rare feat as they are on top of two prestigious music charts at the same time. Their new CD RnR, released on Aug. 28, has debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart after selling more than 3,500 copies. In addition, the title track from the CD reached the top of the smooth jazz chart based on airplay and determined by the trade publication Radio & Records.

Braun and Elliot have something else to celebrate as well, as RnR is the first No. 1 CD for the ARTizen Music Group, which Braun and Elliot co-founded.

Both chart-topping positions are well-earned, as RnR is one of the strongest of the year. Both players take chances will keeping the groove foremost in mind.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:35 PM

September 5, 2007

Take a Sweet Drive to “Club Street” with guitarist Les Sabler September 25th

Diverse collection of soulful contemporary jazz sparkles with sterling production and stellar performances
 
For his fourth album, guitarist Les Sabler shifts into high gear on Sweet Drive, a scenic and expansive contemporary jazz, R&B and adult pop excursion scheduled for national release September 25th from The Music Force record label.  Riding shot gun is bassist Brian Bromberg, who produced the disc.  The album’s first radio sojourn will be “Club Street,” a kinetic electric guitar and sax thrill ride that alters its pace between mellow straightaways and careening downhills that goes for playlist adds September 10th.                

LesSabler_live.jpgSabler is serious and passionately committed to taking his music career to the next level.  As an independent label artist, he’s fully invested in himself.  To realize his vision for Sweet Drive, he astutely surrounded himself with some of the best musicians in contemporary jazz, including Brian Bromberg, Jeff Lorber, Eric Marienthal, Ricky Peterson, Vinnie Colaiuta, Alex Acuna, and Gary Meek.  Adding vibrant brass were Jerry Hey and the Seawind HornsRahsaan Patterson, Toni Scruggs and Richard Jackson season the tracks with soulful vocals.  The dozen songs consist of four covers and eight originals, including Sabler’s “Food Chain.”  From cut to cut, Sabler mixes tempos, sounds and styles, which are underscored by an array of guitar “voices” that range from cool-toned jazz and edgy electric rock fusion to gentle acoustic and vulnerable nylon-string guitar.  His ambitious goal was to challenge himself to elevate his artform while striving to emulate the lofty standards established in the vintage contemporary jazz records from the 1970’s that sparked his interest in becoming a musician.  Listeners are treated to an interesting, varied and cohesive body of music that achieves the artist’s agenda adeptly.
 
“This is an important record for me and I put everything into it.  There were no compromises,” said Sabler.  “I put a lot of thought into the song selection and trusted Brian (Bromberg) to guide my performances.  With the gifted players he assembled, it inspired me to bring my ‘A’ game.  The records and the artists that influenced me most were the ones from the mid-70s like early George Benson, Larry Carlton, and Lee Ritenour, who blended a variety of styles while balancing their (musical) chops with commercial accessibility.  That’s what I set out to accomplish on Sweet Drive.”           
 
Put a guitar into the hands of the mellow, soft-spoken Montreal, Quebec native and he comes alive.  To Sabler, making records is the necessary path one must tread in order to reach his true destination: playing guitar on center stage.  He already has a couple of local gigs lined up in October in his adopted hometown of Tampa, Florida to support the album release and he’s looking forward to adding more dates. 
 
After graduating as a jazz major from Concordia University, Sabler did his graduate studies at the prestigious University of Miami jazz department.  In 1989, he scored and produced an original soundtrack for the Canadian Television Network’s documentary, Lost Treasures of the Titanic.  Sabler’s recording career began the following year with the release of Hidden Treasures, which received attention from contemporary jazz and smooth jazz radio.  He released Time For Love in 1995, which also garnered radio play.  His 2003 debut for The Music Force/Sin-Drome, Bridge The Gap, spawned a #1 hit in Canada along with significant radio spins in the U.S.  Over the years, Sabler headlined and opened concerts for such notables as Jeff Lorber, Spyro Gyra, Richard Elliot, Michael Lington, Diane Schuur and Fattburger.  Additional information is available at www.lessabler.com.
 
Sabler’s Sweet Drive contains the following songs:
 
“You’ve Got It Bad Girl”
“Sweet Drive”
“Daydreaming”
“Club Street”
“Can You Stop The Rain”
“I’m Not The Same”
“Struttin’”
“Who Am I?”
“Twenty-two”
“Biggest Part Of Me”
“Food Chain”
“Could You Be”
“Daydreaming” (instrumental)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:34 PM

September 4, 2007

The 5th Annual BB Jazz Festival, Saturday, September 8, 2007

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

BBJazzLogo.jpgEnjoy a stellar line-up of great performers in Central Park’s beautiful and tranquil setting in Huntington Beach, CA. Performers include George Duke; Norman Brown’s Summer Storm featuring Norman Brown, Peabo Bryson, Marion Meadows and Jeff Lorber; Greg Adams; Michael Manson with Tom Braxton; Andrew Delano & Brian Simpson. DJ Jonathan Phillips will also be spinning the best contemporary music from smooth jazz to R&B and oldies.

GeorgeDuke_press.jpgIf you like being in the company of a sophisticated crowd that likes to have a good time then BB Jazz Festival is the place to be. Here, you can indulge in your pleasures of good food, drinks and friends while you party and support a good cause…..children with Autism. BB Jazz is not just another festival but a party with a purpose!

Platinum VIP: Experience the concert up close and personal in reserved table seating center of the stage. Indulge in a gastronomical delight prepared fresh by a local, celebrated chef with a hosted alcoholic and non-alcoholic bar. Enjoy an all-you-can- eat dinner and open bar from 4:00 – 8:00 pm. Waitress service is also available.

Gold VIP: Reserved seating, on both sides of the Platinum Table Seats close to the stage with an all you-can-eat dinner 4:00-8:00pm (bar not included).

Lawn Seating: Bring your own low-back chairs, blankets and picnic items. Relax in the open grassy areas beneath the shade trees. One personal bottle of water is allowed. No Styrofoam of any kind is allowed in the park by city ordinance.

Food, beverage and merchandise vendors will be on site and you can also purchase festival merchandise and artist cds.

When: Saturday, September 8, 2008
Where: Central Park, 7111 Talbert Ave., Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Box Office Opens at 9:00 am
Time: Gates open at 10:30 am, show starts at Noon w/continuous music until 9:00 pm
Costs: $45 lawn, $130 Gold VIP, $205 Platinum VIP
Venue: Outdoors, Park
Contact: BB Jazz at 714.377.7574, Betty@bbjazz.com or Corky@bbjazz.com,
Tickets: www.bbjazz.com

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: VIP patrons have exclusive use of the most spacious, beautifully appointed, and air-conditioned bathrooms.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:03 PM

September 3, 2007

Weather Channel Releasing Smooth Jazz CD

For years, viewers of The Weather Channel have been exposed to smooth jazz music through the cable channel’s Local on the 8s segment. Artists have included Dave Koz, Steve Oliver, Brian Hughes, Norman Brown and many others. Now, the first in a planned series of CDs featuring Weather Channel music has been commissioned by Nashville-based Midas Records.

Although the 25-year-old network has previously licensed items ranging from apparel to weather radios to umbrellas, this marks the first time it has entered the licensed-entertainment category. The first in the series, titled The Weather Channel Presents: Best of Smooth Jazz, will be released online and at traditional retailers on Oct. 9.

The CD features several songs that may be familiar to smooth jazz fans: “Shakin’ the Shack” by Koz; “The Gift” by 3rd Force; “Sidewayz” by Najee; “Ocean View” by Pieces of a Dream; “Viaduct” by Four80East; “Santa Monica Triangle” by Jeff Lorber; and “Mildred’s Attraction” by Joyce Cooling.

Although he didn’t make it onto The Weather Channel’s first Smooth Jazz compilation, guitarist Steve Oliver's songs are frequently played on the channel. Who knows - he could make it on the next one. Oliver says he’s always pleasantly surprised to hear his music when tuning in.

"I always watch The Weather Channel beause I like to see what the weather's like in California, or wherever we’re going to the next. So I’m always watching it. Every time I hear it, it's like Oh my God, wait a minute, I know this song. Wait. Oh my gosh, they’re playing this track. And it fits the vibe, you know, while they’re doing the local forecast."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:35 PM

September 2, 2007

Bob Jamieson Goes Smooth Cruising

Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a British perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. Although, to music fans, the name of Bob Jamieson may not be instantly recognizable he is in fact one of the shrewdest business brains in the industry. He is credited with the high profile turn around of the then ailing RCA Records and his work in this respect resulted in him being made the subject of a Harvard Business School case study.

In the music business most of his working life, Jamieson has been responsible for signing some legendary performers. Now he is using that same business nous and passion for music as the driving force behind the new look (and freshly named) All Star Smooth Jazz Cruise. When I caught up with Bob at his office in New Haven, CT I first asked him about his motivation to get involved with the project.

It was simple, he explained. Although fully aware of the phenomenon that smooth jazz cruising had become he was, himself, a cruise virgin. That was until January 2007 when he was invited to join the All Star Smooth Jazz Cruise to find out more of what it was all about. Not only was he immediately captivated by the unique atmosphere that fizzed like electricity between artists and guests, he was also left in awe of the stellar performances that he witnessed there. Later, when he was invited to play an active roll in the 2008 event, he jumped at the chance to build on what was already there and to widen the scope of the musical offering in order to welcome in those guests who draw their reference point of the adult contemporary scene from what they hear on smooth jazz radio.

His first deliberate step has been to drop the word ‘jazz’ from the title and given the difficulty involved in explaining to the uninitiated what the term ‘smooth jazz’ really means the rationale for this change of name is easy to understand. In addition, to further show off the genre in its widest possible sense he has drafted in some overtly R & B acts for the pre-cruise show in San Diego. This all inclusive approach is sure to pay big dividends for those who identify with a smooth groove and who seek the energy and excitement that this avenue of music routinely delivers.

With a line up that is rapidly approaching epic proportions Bob really has combined the best of all worlds. The talent assembled for the pre-cruise entertainment at the Town and Country Resort ranges from Kenny G to The Four Tops and The Spinners to Kool & The Gang. If that isn’t enough, once the ship embarks, the intriguing prospect of ‘new kid on the cruise host block’ Norman Brown rubbing shoulders with the veteran Warren Hill will be breathtaking to say the least. For many, Hill remains as the godfather of smooth jazz cruising and, in actuality, he and Bob Jamieson go way back. Jamieson signed him to RCA in 1993 and they have remained friends ever since.

When I asked Bob what his message would be for those out there who were still contemplating if smooth cruising was for them he recalled that not too long ago he was also new to the scene. He urged them to be like him, to ‘give it a go’, to come along and sample the excitement. He promises that they will find themselves in the magical company of 1100 ‘friends’, all united by the common bond of music, and ready to party.

The All Star Smooth Cruise festivities begin in San Diego on January 19, 2008. For more information on the complete line-up go to www.allstarcruise.com or call 877 529 9729.

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 9:55 AM