R O N A L D * J A C K S O N
Brian Culbertson, Bringing Back the Funk (GRP/Verve): Heavy synths, thick and bottomless bass lines, demanding drum thrusts, slicing and harmonically perfect horn arrangements, and personality all mark this �down & dirty,� collaborative mega-funk tribute by this master keyboardist.
Douye, Journey (Independent release): Newcomer Douye�s debut album comes loaded with splendid melodies and rhythms, colored perfectly with her oh-so-fine vocals. Such a combination is usually a success, and Douye is here to add an exclamation point to that assertion.
Jeff Foxx, Jeff Foxx (Jeff Foxx/Nerraj Records): New York radio DJ and bassist Jeff Foxx launches his self-titled debut album, bringing with it fiery funk, smooth soul caresses and the general sense that this artist/radio personality thoroughly enjoys what he's doing
Jonathan Butler, Live in South Africa (Rendezvous Records): A homecoming of monumental proportions, this album does serious justice to the man, his music, his story, and his life as one of the most buoyant and talented artists around.
Steffen Kuehn, Trumpop (Stefrecords): Trumpeter Steffen Kuehn unleashes sheer silkiness on pillow-soft, serene, yet head-bopping and moving jazz melodies.
B R I A N * S O E R G E L
Jonathan Fritzen, Love Birds (Nordic Nights): Mellow pop-piano sounds a la Brian Culbertson.
David Benoit, Jazz For Peanuts: A Retrospective of the Charlie Brown Television Themes (Peak): Good ol' David Benoit has done it again with six new tracks, three composed by Benoit and three by Vince Guaraldi and performed by Benoit. Other goodies abound.
Walter Beasley, Free Your Mind (Heads Up): Smooth jazz from the Berklee College of Music professor and saxophonist.
Jamhunters, Music Speaks Louder Than Words (Gateway): "The Pier" is one of the top songs of year. The Denmark duo throw in plenty of playfulness - including vocal hooklines and speaking parts - to spice up the groove. Great music.
J E F F * D A N I E L S
Nick Colionne, No Limits (Koch Records) (2008)
Pat Metheny, Tokyo Day Trip - Live EP [EP] [LIVE] (Nonesuch) (2008)
Eric Darius, Goin' All Out (Blue Note Records) (2008)
Chick Corea, The Elektric Band (Grp Records) (1990)
D E N I S * P O O L E
�You Got Something� by Jeff Lorber from his current CD Heard That. With a lavish veneer of horns from Gary Meek and Ron King, a mid tempo vibe to die for plus the subtlest of vocals from Phillip �Taj� Jackson, this could well be the hottest urban jazz cut of the year so far.
�Lets Figure It Out� by the wonderful Maysa from her latest album Metamorphosis. Nick Colionne leads off what proves to be a staggering three minute ten second guitar introduction and with production in the expert hands of Chris Davis this superb slice of chill out music evolves into a feisty dance floor filler.
The sensational �Soft And Warm� by Marcus Johnson from his FLO (for The Love Of Romance) collection. The sumptuous vibe and exquisite vocal interpretation by Alyson Williams of this song that first featured on her own 2004 Three Keys recording �Its About Time� is everything and more that great urban jazz should be.
�Missin� You� by DeNate from the album Reminsce. This incredibly turned down gem by duo Deborah Conners and Nate Harasim finds Connors in typically sultry mode on vocals while Harasim is picture perfect on keys. Michael Powell makes an understated, yet colossal, contribution on guitar and already this is certain to be one of my top tracks of 2008.
�How Could You Break My Heart� by Bobby Womack from the brand new compilation by Jazz FM The Sound Of Jazz FM 2008. A major feature of previous incarnations this revered radio station was its legendary compilations of smooth jazz and soul CD�s. Now back and transmitting on digital and online it has lost little time in resurrecting these excellent samplers. In fact all thirty tracks are wonderful representations of the evolution of soul tinged contemporary jazz over the last twenty something years.
B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D
Harry Hmura, Passion
Rippingtons, Best of
Acoustic Alchemy, Radio Contact
Gerald Veasley, At the Jazz Base