November 30, 2007

Blue Note Releasing Dave Koz's 'Double Feature'

Koz_AtMovies2007.jpgA combination CD and DVD package based on Dave Koz’s At The Movies album will be released by Blue Note on Feb. 5. Double Feature will include the entire CD of Dave’s interpretations of Oscar-winning movie themes, as well as a DVD of performances from Dave and the album’s guest artists, which included Chris Botti, Peter White, Barry Manilow, Anita Baker, Johnny Mathis, Vanessa Williams, Donna Summer and India Arie.

The DVD will also feature commentary by esteemed movie historian and critic Leonard Maltin. A version of the upcoming DVD, Dave Koz At The Movies, aired this summer in the U.S. on PBS television stations.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:08 AM

November 27, 2007

VF Outlet Berks Jazz Fest Brings the Best and the Brightest

Following is the initial press release regarding the VF Outlet Berks Jazz Fest 2008. Plan to come and enjoy all the musical talent. Please note that other artists will be added in the coming days and months before the festival, so keep checking the line-up! Tickets can be obtained by the public on December 8th.

READING, PA -- November 26 -- The 18th annual Berks Jazz Fest, presented by the Berks Arts Council, runs March 28 through April 6 and will offer fans a wide array of musical styles, including contemporary and traditional jazz, blues and big band, with some gospel and even bluegrass thrown in. Shows are held at major venues, clubs and restaurants throughout Reading and Berks County, making it a truly unique festival.

The Berks Arts Council is proud to announce that VF Outlet is the title sponsor of the Berks Jazz Fest from 2008 through 2010. This announcement has particular meaning because VFOutlet helped launch the festival as title sponsor of the first three-day Berks Jazz Fest in 1991, and remained title sponsor through the 1995 festival. Thirteen years and countless shows later, the now 10-day festival has come full circle with its title sponsorship.

Featured artists at this year's festival include legendary song stylist Nancy Wilson; always-rocking blues guitarist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nductee Buddy Guy; the return of the ever-popular Guitars & Saxes featuring Gerald Albright, Peter White, Jeff Golub and Jeff Lorber; jazz guitar great Pat Martino; alto saxophonist Candy Dulfer; the gifted and charismatic trumpeter Chris Botti; guitarist Paul Brown, vocalist Kenny Rankin, fellow guitarist Marc Antoine and saxman Eric Darius; Berks favorite, keyboardist Brian Culbertson; trumpet great Rick Braun and saxman Richard Elliot; guitarist Nick Colionne with keyboardist Brian Simpson; versatile bassist Brian Bromberg; Bill Evans' Soulgrass with bluegrass vocalist and instrumentalist Sam Bush; popular keyboardist and vocalist Joe McBride; the Caribbean Jazz Project featuring Dave Samuels with special guest, reed player Paquito D'Rivera; saxman Euge Groove and keyboardist Alex Bugnon; and violinist Regina Carter in a quintet.

There is no shortage of the blues at this year's fest. In addition to Buddy Guy, there are two big shows on the closing weekend -- a New Orleans Funky Friday with Maria Muldaur and Bonerama; and blues night with the Clarence Spady Band, Campbell Brothers and Eric Bibb.

Among the more unconventional shows this year are the Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, high-energy jazz dance performers; the NYPD Big Band, an 18-member group performing jazz and pop standards; Kennedy Center presents Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead, featuring young emerging artists; Sherrie Maricle and the all-female DIVA Jazz Orchestra; Simone, daughter of legendary singer Nina Simone, and the Rob Stoneback Big Band; and the return of Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band.

Music director and keyboardist Jason Miles is once again bringing very special ensemble shows to Berks.
Miles will bring together an all-star roster to join him in Celebrating the Life & Music of Grover Washington Jr., the late legendary saxman. The show, To Grover with Love, brings together some of the top names in the business, including Patti LaBelle, Walter Beasley, Everette Harp, Kim Waters, Maysa, Phil Perry, Chuck Loeb, Will Lee, Buddy Williams and Ralph MacDonald.

For the world premiere of his show Global Noize, Jason Miles will be joined by Christian Scott, DJ Logic, Karl Denson, Cafe, Billy Martin, Sherrod Barnes, Bernie Worrell and Tim LeFebvre. Miles has dubbed the group a "global groove band."

Must-see special group shows are one of the big draws at the Berks Jazz Fest, and this year is no exception. There is the LA Chillharmonic, a cool all-star ensemble spearheaded by smooth jazz guitarist Richard Smith and bassist Brian Bromberg. They will be joined by Michael Paulo, Gregg Karukas, Greg Adams and the Berks Jazz Fest Horns.

Gerald Veasley and the WJJZ All-Stars will be the third live television event for the Berks Jazz Fest, broadcast live by WFMZ-TV Channel 69, and will feature Bobby Lyle, Rick Braun, Chuck Loeb, Chris Farr and the Berks Jazz Fest Horns.

A perennial late-night favorite, guaranteed to wake up any sleepy fans, is the Berks All-Star Jazz Jam. This year's jam artists include Rick Braun, Chuck Loeb, Gerald Veasley, Richard Elliot, Nick Colionne, Brian Bromberg, Pat Martino, Joe McBride, Brian Simpson, Ricky Lawson, Andrew Neu and more.

Chuck Loeb, well known to any Berks Jazz Fest fan, will be joined by special guests Eric Marienthal, Tom Scott, Will Lee, wife Carmen Cuesta, daughter Lizzy Loeb and more for a special show.

This year's festival is packed with must-see artists and unforgettable ensembles, offering cool smooth jazz, hot rockin' blues, soulful singing, rousing tributes and so much more.

Tickets go on sale Saturday, Dec. 8, at 10 a.m.

To order tickets:
~~Visit the Sovereign Center Box Office, Seventh and Penn streets, Reading

~~Visit the Sovereign Performing Arts Center Box Office, 136 N. Sixth St.,
Reading

~~Call Ticketmaster at 215-336-2000 or visit www.ticketmaster.com

~~Order online at berksjazzfest.com

For more information on the festival, including artist bios and archived releases, click on www.berksjazzfest.com

For more information on the Berks Arts Council, a nonprofit organization that promotes all the arts in an effort to enrich the quality of life in Berks County, click on www.berksarts.org.

Major Ticketed Events

Friday, March 28 -- Brian Bromberg Band, Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base,
Sheraton Reading Hotel, 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., $25

Friday, March 28 -- An Evening with Nancy Wilson, Sovereign Performing Arts Center, 7:30 p.m., $47 and $41

Friday, March 28 -- Buddy Guy, Sheraton Reading Hotel ballroom, 10 p.m., $40 and $35

Friday, March 28 -- Kenny Blake Quartet, L'Arte della Vita Jazz Cabaret, Abraham Lincoln Hotel, 10 p.m., $15

Saturday, March 29 -- LA Chillharmonic featuring Brian Bromberg, Richard Smith, Michael Paulo, Gregg Karukas, Greg Adams plus the Berks Jazz Fest Horns, Sheraton Reading Hotel ballroom, 2 p.m., $39 and $34

Saturday, March 29 -- Simone and the Rob Stoneback Big Band, Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base, Sheraton Reading Hotel, 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., $25

Saturday, March 29 -- Chris Botti, Sovereign Performing Arts Center, 7:30p.m., $47 and $41

Saturday, March 29 -- Jump Rhythm Dance Project, Miller Center for the Arts, 8 p.m., $20

Saturday, March 29 -- Kenny Blake Quartet, L'Arte della Vita Jazz Cabaret, Abraham Lincoln Hotel, 10 p.m., $15

Saturday, March 29 -- Gerald Veasley and the WJJZ All-Stars Bobby Lyle, Rick Braun, Chuck Loeb, Chris Farr and the Berks Jazz Fest Horns, Sheraton Reading Hotel, 10:30 p.m., $39 and $34

Sunday, March 30 -- Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead, Miller Center, 1:30 p.m., no charge

Sunday, March 30 -- Paul Brown, Kenny Rankin and Marc Antoine plus Eric Darius, Sheraton Reading Hotel Ballroom, 2 p.m., $39 and $34

Sunday, March 30 -- Celebrating the Life & Music of Grover Washington Jr. -- To Grover with Love: Patti LaBelle, Walter Beasley, Everette Harp, Kim Waters, Maysa, Phil Perry, Chuck Loeb, Will Lee, Buddy Williams, Ralph MacDonald, and musical director Jason Miles, Sovereign Performing Arts Center, 7 p.m., $49 and $43

Tuesday, April 1 -- NYPD Big Band, Sheraton Reading Hotel, 7:30 p.m., $15

Wednesday, April 2 -- Bill Evans' Soulgrass with special guest Sam Bush, Abraham Lincoln Hotel ballroom, 7:30 p.m., $32

Thursday, April 3 -- MusicReport with special guests Lynn Riley and Aaron Graves, Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base, Sheraton Reading Hotel, 7 p.m., $12

Thursday, April 3 -- Nick Colionne with special guest Brian Simpson, Abraham Lincoln Hotel ballroom, 7:30 p.m., $32

Thursday, April 3 -- Berks All-Star Jazz Jam featuring Rick Braun, Chuck Loeb, Gerald Veasley, Richard Elliot, Nick Colionne, Brian Bromberg, Pat Martino, Joe McBride, Brian Simpson, Ricky Lawson, Andrew Neu and more, Sheraton Reading Hotel ballroom, 10 p.m., $35

Friday, April 4 -- Pat Martino Quartet, Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base, Sheraton Reading Hotel, 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., $30

Friday, April 4 -- The Caribbean Jazz Project featuring Dave Samuels with special guest Paquito D'Rivera, Abraham Lincoln Hotel ballroom, 7:30 p.m., $32

Friday, April 4 -- Rick Braun & Richard Elliot, Scottish Rite Cathedral, 7:30 p.m., $47 and $41

Friday, April 4 -- New Orleans Funky Friday: Maria Muldaur and Bonerama, Inn at Reading, 7:30 p.m., $32

Friday, April 4 -- Joe McBride Trio, L'Arte della Vita Jazz Cabaret, Abraham Lincoln Hotel, 10 p.m., $15

Friday, April 4 -- Candy Dulfer, Sheraton Reading Hotel ballroom, 10:30 p.m., $39 and $34

Saturday, April 5 -- Euge Groove plus Alex Bugnon, Sheraton Reading Hotel ballroom, 2 p.m., $39 and $34

Saturday, April 5 -- Sherrie Maricle & The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Abraham Lincoln Hotel ballroom, 2 p.m., $28

Saturday, April 5 -- Tribute to Chet Baker: Rick Braun, Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base, Sheraton Reading Hotel, 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., $30

Saturday, April 5 -- Guitars & Saxes featuring Peter White, Gerald Albright, Jeff Golub and Jeff Lorber, Scottish Rite Cathedral, 7 p.m., $47 and $41

Saturday, April 5 -- Clarence Spady Band plus Campbell Brothers plus Eric Bibb, Inn at Reading, 7 p.m., $37

Saturday, April 5 -- Regina Carter Quintet, Miller Center for the Arts, 7:30 p.m., $38

Saturday, April 5 -- Joe McBride Trio, L'Arte della Vita Jazz Cabaret, Abraham Lincoln Hotel, 10 p.m., $15

Saturday, April 5 -- World Premiere: Global Noize featuring Jason Miles, Christian Scott, DJ Logic, Karl Denson, Cafe, Billy Martin, Sherrod Barnes, Bernie Worrell and Tim LeFebvre, Sheraton Reading Hotel ballroom, 10:30 p.m., $39 and $34

Sunday, April 6 -- Chuck Loeb with special guests Eric Marienthal, Tom Scott, Will Lee, Carmen Cuesta, Lizzy Loeb, and more, Sheraton Reading Hotel ballroom, 2 p.m., $39 and $34

Sunday, April 6 -- Brian Culbertson, Scottish Rite Cathedral, 7 p.m., $47 and $41

Press release provided by:
Catherine Catanach, APR
Director of Development and Marketing
Berks Arts Council


Happy Jazzin' and I hope to see you at the festival!

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

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 4:00 AM

November 23, 2007

Jeff Golub Offers 'Six String Santa'

Golub_SixStringSanta.jpgGuitarist Jeff Golub is offering his first holiday CD, Six String Santa, which he is releasing independently through his Metro Café Records. On the CD, Golub offers his own smooth and funky interpretations of holiday classics like “Deck the Halls,” “Jingle Bells,” “Oh Christmas Tree” and “The First Noel.” In addition, saxophonist Warren Hill is featured on “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Golub's band consists of Chris Palmaro on keyboards, Lincoln Goines on bass, Stephen Ferrone and Shawn Pelton on drums, and Roger Squitero on percussion.

The CD is available as a download or in physical form only at jeffgolub.com.

"I’ve always wanted to do a record of Christmas music, but this year it just happened," Golub says. "I went in the studio, and I think we came up with some very spirited arrangements of these classic songs that I love so much. Now, the inspiration for this came kind of late in the year, so it’s not going to be an official release this year. The only way you can get ‘Six String Santa’ is by going to jeffgolub.com. I hope you like this music enough that you’ll play it at your Christmas party this year."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:22 PM

November 21, 2007

Richard Elliot And Rick Braun To Launch RnR Tour

RnR.jpgTrumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Richard Elliot have announced that they will tour in 2008 to support their collaboration CD, RnR, whose title track has been one of the top singles of the year by remaining No. 1 for 10 weeks. At this point, Braun and Elliot will begin their tour at the brand-new Yoshi’s Jazz Club in San Francisco on Feb. 7, where they will perform for four nights. Ten other cities are included so far, with more likely to be added. The tour will continue through September at least, with a show scheduled Sept. 28 in Oceanside, California. Saxophonist Eric Darius will open the show on Feb. 14 in Phoenix.

The CD “RnR,” released in August, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart. The same week, it reached the top of the smooth jazz charts, where it has remained every week since, except for one week. The CD was released by the ARTizen Music Group, which Braun and Elliot co-founded.

"One of the things we wanted to do was make a record obviously that was accessible to people, that people didn’t feel that it was too much of a left turn," says Elliot. "But at the same time, we wanted to take a few chances and stretch a little bit. One thing we definitely wanted was to have a spontaneity in this record, and almost a kind of a live spark to it, but not taking away from sort of the polish. Trying to get all those things at the same time is not always an easy thing to do, but I think the approach that we took is what gave us all those elements."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:18 PM

November 20, 2007

Kick Off The Holiday Season In Style: Two Premier BB Jazz Events

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Saturday, Nov. 24, 2007, 7pm
A Peter White Christmas featuring Peter White, Mindi Abair & Rick Braun

Rick Braun.jpg Mindi Abair.jpg artist_peter_white[1].jpg

Monday, December 31, 2007, 8pm
A New Years Eve Gala featuring Jeffrey Osborne

Jeffery Osborne.jpg

Hyatt Regency,Resort & Spa
21500 Pacific Coast Highway,
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

www.bbjazz.com

The holidays are a special time of year when family and friends get together to celebrate and embrace the spirit of the holidays. Holidays are also a time when we put away our summer tees, tanks, shorts and jeans and slip into our celebratory attire. And, one of the best places to begin the holiday season is at the elegant Hyatt Regency Hotel in Huntington Beach, CA.

94[1].7WaveLogo.jpgJoin 94.7 The Wave & BB Jazz for two great evenings of music, dinner, and dancing: A Peter White Christmas, on Saturday, November 24, 2007, 7:00 pm, featuring Peter White, Mindi Abair, Rick Braun and opening artist, Jackiem Joyner. And, A New Year's Gala, on Monday, December 31st, 8:00 pm, featuring Jeffery Osborne and opening act DW3 and DJ Jonathan Phillips.

A Peter White Christmas is always a fun and cheery concert. The Huntington Beach show on November 24th is the second date of the Peter White Christmas tour that is scheduled for over twenty cities nationally. White, Abair & Braun’s cd of the same title was recently released on September 25, 2007 and it captures the magic of the holiday and the synergy of the trio.

Jackiem Joyner.jpgThe opening artist, Jackiem Joyner, is a new, major talent. Already this year, I have seen Joyner perform at four very diverse venues; The Berks Jazz Festival, The Inland Empire Jazz Festival and twice at The Catalina Jazz Festival as a headliner with his own band. Each time Joyner performed, he wowed the crowds and garnered multiple standing ovations.

Joyner’s sound is so delectable that you just don’t want him to leave the stage. He also has a stage presence that is equally endearing. Recently signed to ARTizen Music Group, which is co-owned by Rick Braun and Richard Elliott, Joyner has released his debut cd, Babysoul. The first single released from Babysoul, “Stay With Me Tonight" features Peter White and has risen to the top 20 on the smooth jazz charts.

The next special holiday date is Monday, December 31, 2007, 8:00 pm when BB Jazz presents A New Year’s Eve Gala featuring Jeffrey Osborne with opening artist, DW3 and DJ Jonathan Phillips.

What better way to ring in the New Year than with one of the best R&B vocalist of our time? Osborne, an original member of Love Men, Ltd., a.k.a., LTD, recorded such memorable hits as "Every Time I Turn Around (Back In Love Again)", "Love Ballad" and "(Holdin' On) When Love Is Gone". Then as a solo artist, Osborne captured the decade of the eighties with five gold and platinum albums, leaving an indelible mark in the musical memory of the baby boomer generation.

DW3.jpgThe opening act, DW3, is Southern California’s hottest old school, funk, dance and Latin jazz band. Widely known for the vocal abilities, this LA-based band is one of the most musically diverse groups with a loyal following. The band consists of Eric Mondragen (leader, keyboards, lead vocals), Billy Mondragen (percussions, lead vocals), Damon (lead vocals), Bryant Siorio (bass) and Ronnie Guitierrez (drums, percussions). (http://www.myspace.com/muzicaldragon)

With DJ Jonathan Phillips spinning music that will that will carry the evening over into the wee morning hours, why not begin the New Year in a spectacular oceanfront setting in beautiful Southern California at the Hyatt Regency Hotel Resort & Spa? With luxury accommodations, this four-story Huntington Beach hotel is perched above the historic Pacific Coast Highway and provides stunning views from 517 guestrooms including 57 suites... each with its own private terrace. The hotel features three restaurants, a lounge, a retail-shopping plaza, more than 110,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space and the Pacific Waters Spa providing treatments indigenous to Pacific Island cultures.

BBJazzLogo_Color[1].jpgBB Jazz is known for their "sophisticated but never stuffy” concerts and festivals where everybody has a really good time. Proceeds from both events also go to help raise awareness and funds for children with autism.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: A Peter White Christmas is the featured November/Holiday Wine and Jazz Experience. This first holiday package offered by WineandJazz.com includes A Peter White Christmas cd, Rideau Vineyard’s 2005 Tempranillo & 2005 Fleur Blanche wines, bottled with Rideau’s special New Orleans jazz label, two special holiday wine glasses plus photographs and other goodies. Treat yourself or a family member, friend, business associate or client with an elegant gift they will thank you for all year round. www.wineandjazz.com

Posted by JazzGypsy at 4:47 PM

November 17, 2007

No Surprise: Paul Hardcastle Debuts At No. 19

paulhardcastle_11.jpgIf you’re a fan of British-based instrumentalist and producer Paul Hardcastle, you know the number “19” is important to him. It was the name of a 1985 worldwide hit dance song featuring the spoken-word samples of a narrator talking about Vietnam War veterans. As the song makes clear, “19” was the average age of the Vietnam soldier. And Simon Fuller, who was Hardcastle’s manager at the time, would go on to name his entertainment company 19 Management. Fuller then created the British reality series Pop Idol, renamed American Idol in the U.S.

Now, Hardcastle’s management at the Trippin N Rhythm record label is once again noting that Hardcastle’s latest single, “Lucky Star,” is his latest song or CD to debut at No. 19. “Lucky Star,” the first single from the upcoming Hardcastle 5 CD, debuts this week at that lucky number on Radio & Records’ smooth jazz chart. Hardcastle’s management says this is at least the fifth time that one of his songs or CD has debuted at No. 19 on either Radio & Records’ chart or on Billboard’s contemporary jazz chart.

We’ll have to wait to see how the Hardcastle 5 debuts, however, as it won’t be released until Feb. 5.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:08 PM

November 16, 2007

Contempo November 2007

With apologies to the late, great James Brown, Rick Braun and Richard Elliot have been the hardest working cats in showbiz — or at least smooth jazz-land - since launching their indie label ARTizen Music Group with their manager Steve Chapman and industry vet Al Evers in 2005.

The trumpet and sax icons signed and released projects by three solid artists in Shilts, Jackiem Joyner and Rick Kelly/Soul Ballet and criss-crossed the U.S. as half of Jazz Attack (with Peter White and Jonathan Butler) in the summers of 2005 and 2007. Along the way, each put out a solo album that spawned a hit cover song, Braun scoring with “Shining Star” from Yours Truly and Elliot spending 11 weeks at #1 on Radio & Records’ airplay chart with “People Make The World Go Round,” from Metro Blue, which was co-produced by Braun.

After all that, you can’t really blame them for wanting some RnR, the name of their cleverly titled dual album that Braun feels—after so much previous collaboration—is way overdue.

“We’ve talked about doing a full length project together for a long time,” he says, “and when we finally had the chance, it was exciting and fun for both of us. We have so much mutual respect for each other and are such great friends that it was just a matter of getting together, being spontaneous and letting things fall where they may. From start to finish, RnR was this effortless flow of energy and exchange of ideas.”

For both musicians, the overriding concept was to reach back beyond the smooth jazz era and draw on their individual roots with powerhouse horn sections, Elliot’s with Tower of Power (1982-87) and Braun’s with War (mid-80s). By tapping into those experiences and writing on the fly — the mic was permanently switched on at Brauntosoarus, Braun’s home studio in Los Angeles, to capture the melodic and arrangement ideas as they flowed - Elliot says they were able to create the raw, percolating feeling of a live date but with the polish of a studio recording. This approach offered the opportunity for many more first takes than most genre recordings.

“It was a blast to make music in such an uncontrived way and from the gut level like this,” he says. “While we didn’t fixate on the retro R&B vibe, doing it like this took us back to the old days when recordings were done more organically. These days, being retro is also keeping current, so it’s a mix of old school and contemporary sounds. The horn playing also happened naturally. There are some cool horn section passages, but we didn’t want to fall into the trap of constantly stacking up trumpet and sax in people’s faces and overpowering the melodies. Instead, we treated the project as if it were a dual vocal album, creating a lot of intimate single tenor and trumpet or flugelhorn lines. Then maybe we’d come back together on the chorus.”

After Elliot invokes inspirational works by Miles Davis with Wayne Shorter and John Coltrane, Braun adds, “The sessions were like a lot like old recordings from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, which gave the record a warm sound. Then the horn section parts were doubled to give it that oomph and muscle.”

The buoyant, hard grooving title track captures this controlled madness perfectly, opening with bright and sensual dual textures on the chorus, then jetting into urgent, brief conversations between Elliot’s tenor and Braun’s trumpet before a return to the party. The late night romantic vibe of “Sweet Somethin’” starts with Elliot at his subtle, simmering best, offering a few gentle lines before Braun chimes in on muted trumpet in response; but even when they come together for the hook, they’re cool about it.

With a funky foundation created by Braun and Jeff Lorber, the Brecker Brothers styled “Curveball” has some high octane, percussive brass; but between the scorching chorus parts, there are laid back singular passages. This sly rapport reaches deep into RnR, illuminating what Elliot calls the “just plain stinky” grooves of “Down and Dirty,” the hypnotic funk jam “Da JR Funk” and the slightly more genteel “Two Heart Tango.” Lorber’s not the only heavyweight contributing groovy ideas; Braun and Elliot also called on old pals Rex Rideout, Philippe Saisse and Shilts to launch some wild but steady foundations.

It took about three months to record the album at Brauntosoarus whenever the two were between tour dates, but Braun did a lot of the heavy lifting on the production side while Elliot was stuck in 2-3 hours traffic coming up from Escondido, in San Diego Country, to Woodland Hills in L.A. Road rage filled Southern Californians could take a lesson from Elliot, who used the gridlock to his advantage. “I was driving back and forth each day, which was about 5-6 hours roundtrip,” he says. “But I kind of liked it. It gave me time to listen to tracks in the car on the ride in so I knew what I wanted to do that day. At night, I’d drive home with what we worked on so I could listen to what I wanted to do or change at the next session.”

Braun, waiting for the screech in his driveway, was amazed every time his partner showed up refreshed and ready to work. “With a large family, outside entrepreneurial endeavors and a full life, Richard has every right to be scattered at all times,” he says. “But once you get a hold of him, he’s brilliant and completely focused. He’s capable of getting off hours on the 405 Freeway and walking into the studio without needing a minute to enter a creative headspace. Making RnR was a fascinating process, and I think without a doubt the best record I’ve ever done.”


Braun’s 20-year friendship with the versatile composer/producer Rick Kelly made it easy to choose his chill-electronica-jazz-pop instrumental outlet Soul Ballet as ARTizen’s latest signing. A veteran pop songwriter, film/TV composer and sideman to numerous pop and jazz artists (Herbie Hancock, Michael Jackson, Jaco Pastorius, Madonna), Kelly launched his Soul Ballet concept in the mid-90s and scored two #1 airplay hits, “NYC Trip’n” and “Blue Girl.” His greatest success came some years later, as “Cream” became one of the biggest smooth jazz hits of 2005, staying at #1 on the R&R airplay chart for nine weeks and ranking as the #2 single of the year.

Kelly, who spends his non-musical time as a TV actor (Nip/Tuck, Days Of Our Lives, Cold Case, CSI), is a big fan of modern urban music and calls his ARTizen debut Lavish “hip jazz, smooth hop” — a hybrid of contemporary and retro soul, sweet piano melodies, orchestral flavors and hypnotic ambiences. By way of comparison, the vibe takes the beautiful ivory touch of Keiko Matsui, engages it in a lively street dance with Timbaland, Jay-Z and Pharrel and sweeps them all up into some old soaring James Bond film scores. With Lavish, ARTizen artfully expands beyond its roster of in the pocket, funky smooth jazz artists and looks to the future.

Elliot and Braun take a hands on approach to Soul Ballet’s latest as well, with the saxman playing the lead tenor melody on the title track and the trumpeter lending his own vibrant touch to the album’s catchy and soulful lead single “SmoothVegas.”


PERSONAL TASTE

1) Carol Welsman (Justin Time) – The popular Canadian Smooth Jazz Award winner and multiple Juno nominee proves herself a true musical citizen of the world with this Latin and Brazilian flavored mix of originals, well known pop and jazz tunes and the singer’s incredible facility for singing in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
2) Colbie Caillat, Coco (Universal Republic)
3) Sara Gazarek, Return To You (Native Language)
4) Marc Antoine, Hi-Lo Split (Peak Records)
5) Kirk Whalum, Ultimate Kirk Whalum (Mosaic Contemporary)

Posted by Jonathan Widran at 8:42 PM

November 14, 2007

Era Over For Kenny G And Arista; Signs With Concord

KennyG_Smiling07a.jpgKenny G and Arista Records have gone their own ways, ending a 25-year relationship where the saxophonist became the No. 1 selling instrumental artist in history, selling close to 80 million albums worldwide.

The saxophonist has signed a new recording contract with the Concord Music Group, which is also home to Peak Records, co-founded by Russ Freeman of the Rippingtons, and the Heads Up label, which works with many smooth jazz musicians. (It's the second sax coup for Concord recently. In January 2006, another high-profile saxophonist, Boney James, signed to the Concord Music Group after 13 years with Warner Bros.) Kenny G, a close friend of Arista founder Clive Davis, released his debut CD with Arista in 1982 and has compiled 12 No. 1 smooth jazz albums for the label, including his latest titled I’m in the Mood for Love … The Most Romantic Ballads of All Time.

His fifth studio album, “Breathless,” became the No. 1 best selling instrumental album ever, with more than 15 million copies sold, of which 12 million were in the U.S. He broke another record when his first holiday album, Miracles, sold more than 13 million copies, making it the most successful Christmas album to date.

Kenny G's debut CD for Concord, Rhythm and Romance, is scheduled to be released in February.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:35 AM

November 12, 2007

Brian Culbertson's A Soulful Christmas


Contemporary jazz favorite Brian Culbertson will bring his holiday show to audiences across the nation beginning on November 23.  Presented by AirTran Airways, Brian Culbertson's A Soulful Christmas features an all-star cast consisting of saxman Gerald Albright, vocalist Howard Hewett, guitarist Nick Colionne, and introducing vocalist Victoria White.

Audiences are guaranteed to be in the holiday spirit after experiencing Brian Culbertson's A Soulful Christmas.  In typical Brian Culbertson fashion, the show features uplifting and soulful performances of holiday favorites and tunes from Brian's holiday album A Soulful Christmas (in stores now).  In addition, Brian and his guests will play hits from their respective catalogues.

"I am thrilled to be taking A Soulful Christmas on the road for the second year in a row," said Culbertson. "I can't wait to share the stage with this talented group of musicians to celebrate the holiday season!"

Tour dates are as follows:

11/23   Indianapolis, IN            Music Mill
11/24   Chicago, IL                  Chicago Theatre
11/25   New York, NY              Town Hall
11/27   Alexandria, VA The Birchmere
11/28   Alexandria, VA The Birchmere
11/30   Toronto, ON                The Music Hall
12/1     New Haven, CT           Lyman Center for the Performing Arts
12/2     Collingswood, NJ        Scottish-Rite Auditorium
12/8     Sparks, NV                  Nugget-Celebrity Showroom Casino
12/9     Sacramento, CA         Crest Theater
12/11   San Diego, CA            Anthology
12/13   Phoenix, AZ                 Celebrity Theatre
12/14   Las Vegas, NV            Boulder Station Casino
12/15   Palm Desert, CA         McCallum Theatre
12/16   Anaheim, CA               The Grove of Anaheim
12/18   Los Angeles, CA         The Wilshire Theatre
12/20   Seattle, WA                 Paramount Theater
12/21   Portland, WA               Crystal Ballroom
12/22   Redwood City, CA      Fox Theatre

For the latest news and information, please visit www.asoulfulxmas.com or www.brianculbertson.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:32 PM

November 11, 2007

Jazz Legend Passes In Vegas

Irv Gordon, tenor saxophonist and arranger whose career spans all the way back to the latter bebop era of the early '50s to today, passed away Thursday, November 8th. Credits include a "whose who" list from Billy Holiday, Philly Joe Jones, to Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Carl Fontana. As an arranger/conductor, Gordon employed future giants in jazz trumpeters Chuck Findlay, Bobby Shew, and bassist Bob Magnusson back in the '60s for Minsky's. As a saxophonist, Gordon's sound and approach represented a strong influence from the Lester Young school of playing, putting him alongside Zoot Sims and Stan Getz as a lyrical improvisationalist. Gordon is survived by his seven children and nine grandchildren. He was seventy four.

The Average White Band made their first appearance on November 9th at the Red Rock Hotel to a sold out house.

Hiroshima, with a new album out this year, returned to the Boulder Station Hotel in the Railhead Showroom on November 10th.

Chris Botti makes his debut at the Green Valley Ranch Resort on November 16th.

Guitarist Peter White will display his virtuosity at the Santa Fe Station on Noevember 17th.

The Yellowjackets, with twenty six plus years together, bring it on at the Boulder Station hotel on November 30th.

Queen Latifah, riding high now as a successful jazz vocalist as opposed to her early career as a female rap artist, performs one night only at The House Of Blues on November 16th.

Ongoing performances include Monday night at the Palms Hotel with the high energy sound of Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns..

Posted by Danny Desart at 8:09 PM

November 9, 2007

Kenny G Saves A Life On Golf Course

KennyG_Golfer.jpgSaxophonist Kenny G has disclosed that he saved someone’s life at a recent golf tournament in California. It happened when Kenny, an avid golfer who frequently performs in tournaments, spotted someone in a catering tent having who had stopped breathing. Kenny was able to get the person breathing again. Kenny has basic life-saving skills and is knowledgeable about CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver. Kenny also has a defibrillator – which is used to restart a failing heart – at his home, but admits it was a gag gift from his wife for his 50th birthday last year.

The saxophonist's next CD, Rhythm and Romance, will be released in February.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:21 PM

November 8, 2007

Chris Standring Creates Record Label, New CD

Standring_2007LP.jpgFurthering a trend among smooth jazz artists, guitarist Chris Standring has created his own record label, Ultimate Vibe Recordings, which he hopes to develop into a label for niche compilations in the smooth jazz and chill genres. The first CD, however, will be Standring's own and will be released early next year. The new CD, Love & Paragraphs, will be distributed by the ARTizen Music Group, the record label founded by trumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Richard Elliot.

The CD, Standring's fifth, features 10 original songs with his core group of Rodney Lee, Andre Berry, Rico Belled, Eric Valentine, David Karasony, Larry Steen and Jeff Robinson, along with a new vocalist from England, Mary Cassidy. In addition, saxophonist Everette Harp and keyboardist Jeff Lorber have guest appearances. Songs include the title track, “As Luck Would Have It,” “Liquid Soul,” “Ooh Bop” and “CS in the Sunshine.”

"I just want to be in control now," Standring says. "I sell CDs at shows and online now and I need to be able to contractually be able to do that now without having to go through other people and make it happen. Ostensibly this is to release my own albums. But I do intend to get into releasing maybe some niche-market compilation CDs. I’m gonna be very, very cautious about it. I do have an advantage with my Internet marketing experience. I can shift a lot of CDs online, in a way that pretty much everybody else haven’t figured out how to do yet. So it really makes sense for me to be doing this."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:21 PM

You Can Never Get Enough of a Good Thing: Michael Lington appears this Sunday in Santa Monica; Wednesday at Universal CityWalk!!

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Lington.jpgSat., Nov. 11th - 11:00 – 1:00 pm
i Cugini
1501 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, CA
310.451.4595

Wed., Nov. 14th – 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
BB King’s Jazz & Blues Club
Universal CityWalk
Universal City, CA
818.622.5464


Join Michael Lington this Sunday, 11/11, at Santa Monica's favorite smooth jazz restaurant, i Cugini, for a special autograph signing in celebration of Lington’s latest album, A SONG FOR YOU, from 11am - 1pm at 94.7 The WAVE's Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunch! On A Song For You, Denmark-born Lington has mastered the iconic American contemporary and pop songs of the 70’s, layering each track with distinctive sensual and emotional gradations.

I Cugini is known for serving the finest Italian seafood cuisine in Southern California where the daily menu is not determined until the catch of the day is brought to the kitchen. It’s the perfect place to end or begin your week where you can see the relaxing sights and hear the calming sounds of crashing waves ebb and flow over the sandy Santa Monica shoreline. The elegant décor includes vaulted ceilings, parquet wood floors, terrazzo marble countertops, huge murals, and massive columns, reminiscent of an Italian seaside patio. Reservations are suggested.

Then, on Wednesday, 11/14, Lington and his band will perform at 7pm for The WAVE's Wednesday Jazz Series at BB King’s Jazz & Blues Club at Universal CityWalk in Universal City. BB King’s intimate, cocoon-like setting is the perfect venue to experience Lington’s rich, full-bodied, sax-voice that is both exhilarating and passionate, making his live performances a sumptuous indulgence. Call ahead to guarantee your reservation for this incredible evening!

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: The Michael Lington Wine and Jazz Package is still available from www.wineandjazz.com. This special package includes Lington’s A Song for You cd, Rodney Strong’s 2004 Knotty Vines Zinfandel & 2003 Alexander’s Crown Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and a bonus gift of two of Lington's own personal brand of cigars – The Michael Lington Classics.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 7:20 PM

November 7, 2007

Berks Jazz Festival on Sale Dec. 1st: You Won’t Want To Miss This Early Bird Special

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Berks08_Logo.jpgBerks Jazz Festival
March 28 – April 6, 2008
Reading, PA
www.berksjazzfest.com


I am not impartial when it comes to my preferences for jazz festivals. Some are good, some are better and some are best. To make my top 5 list, a jazz festival has to be pretty awesome. The Berks Jazz Festival in Reading, PA, is not only on my top 5 list but it’s #1.

For those of you who’ve never attended Berks, you’re probably scratching your head and asking:
Berks….what is that? Reading….where is that? No. 1…..how can something I’ve never attended rank so highly?

Remember when former President Bill Clinton said, “It’s about the economy, stupid!” Well to smooth jazz fans, I’d say, “It’s about the music, smarty!” And, this is what Berks delivers: music, music and more music.

The Berks Jazz Fest began in 1991 with about a dozen events. Since 2000, this 10-day festival has become a world-class event, featuring more than 130 shows. Many of the artists that will be on tour during 2008 will appear FIRST between March 28 & April 6, 2008 at Berks.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the confirmed line-up for 2008: Nancy Wilson, Buddy Guy, Rick Braun, Brian Culbertson, Richard Elliot, Brian Bromberg, Richard Smith, Gregg Karukas, Paul Brown, Kenny Rankin, Marc Antoine, Gerald Albright, Peter White, Jeff Golub, Jeff Lorber, Gerald Veasley, Bobby Lyle, Chuck Loeb, Walter Beasley, Everette Harp, Kim Waters, Jason Miles, Euge Groove, Alex Bugnon, Regina Carter, Sherrie Maricle & The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Maysa, Phil Perry, Maria Muldaur, Eric Bibb, Campbell Brothers, Clarence Spady, Bonerama, Dave Samuels, Paquito D'Rivera, Will Lee. And, again, many more artists will be added.

What else makes Berks my #1 pick for US smooth jazz festivals? Pricing. In California, a single VIP seat can cost up to $260. At Berks, the same seat is less than $50. Sure, you don’t get food and beverages but you do get a premium seat (within the first four rows) and with the $210 you saved on the seat, you can buy your own dinner and a bottle of Dom Perignon. Two years ago, I purchased tickets for 14 different shows at Berks for less than what I paid for tickets at a 3-day festival on the East Coast. At Berks, most of my seats were on the front row; none were beyond the 4th row.

Why Berks?
1. The music, the music, the music – over 130 shows – you can see almost every major smooth jazz artist in two weekends - not just the smooth jazz circuit regulars.
2. Affordable prices – everybody can afford front row tickets – without having to get a second mortgage on your house or selling your first born child.
3. Different genres of music – you can overdose on smooth jazz shows - but also sample a little straight ahead, blues and/or country.
4. Freedom to enjoy yourself - a very cool, hip and relaxing vibe – no dance police, strip searches or confiscation of your cameras.
5. The warmth of the Berks Jazz Council – not only do the promoters they act like they want you there - but they actually treat you in a way where you know they want you to come back!
6. Location, location, location - centrally located to Philly, DC & NY – close enough to visit a few major East Coast cities between the two major weekends of music.
7. Enjoy America’s favorite winter sport - shop ‘till you drop at the outlets, upscale malls and antique stores in the Greater Reading area – and more importantly, support the companies that support smooth jazz –like the Vanity Fair Outlet in Reading, Berks new Title Sponsor for 2008.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: Become a Berks Arts Council Jazz Circle member at a $50 level and get your Jazz Fest tickets before they go on-sale to the public. Tickets for Jazz Circle members go on sale December 1st. Berks Art Jazz Council membership also gives you additional privileges and benefits. (www.berksarts.org/membership)

Posted by JazzGypsy at 4:59 PM