June 29, 2008

What We're Listening To * June

P E T E R * B O E H I

Howard Isaacson - Blue Skies (2008)
Saxophonist Howard Isaacson delivers a beautiful smooth jazz album full of memorable tracks and outstanding playing that warms your soul. Don't overlook this gem!

Al Turner - Movin' (2008)
Bass player Al Turner delivers a great smooth jazz with catchy songs and some top-notch guests like Everette Harp, Paul Jackson Jr. and Earl Klugh. Thumbs up!

Kyle Wolverton - Soul Groove (2008)
A gutsy tenor sax and a nicely grooving band yield some great results, this player is a welcome addition to the smooth jazz scene. Check him out!

David Benoit - Heroes (2008)
Pianist David Benoit is still going strong after all these years, his latest album is a stunning collection of his interpretation of songs from the "heroes" that influenced him musically, ranging from The Beatles to Horace Silver. Unmissable!

Dave Valentin - Land Of The Third Eye (1980)
And as usual a nod to a classic album of the past, this time flautist Dave Valentin's "Land Of The Third Eye" that is pure GRP magic that stood the test of time. Oh, those memories...

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

Kevin Kooyumjian, Monterey Style! (Kevin Kooyumjian) (2005)

Chris Standring, Love and Paragraphs (Ultimate Vibe Recordings) (2008)

Voodoo Village, Sleight of Hand (Forty West) (2008)

The Sax Pack, The Sax Pack (Shanachie Entertainment) (2008)

Yosuke Onuma, Beautiful Day [IMPORT] (2007)

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

Nnenna Freelon, Better Than Anything: The Quintessential Nnenna Freelon (Concord Jazz)

Brian Culbertson, Bringing Back the Funk (GRP)

Lizz Wright, The Orchard (Verve)

David Benoit, Heroes (Peak)

Steve Oliver, One Night Live (Nu Groove)


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

Michael Lington, A Song For You, Rendevous, 2006.

Gil Parris, Strength, 215 Records, 2006.

Richard Smith, Puma Creek, Chase Music, 1993.

3rd Force, Driving Force, Higher Octave, 2005.

Grover Washington, Jr., Mister Magic, Motown, 1974.


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

Ottmar Liebert + Luna Negra, The Scent of Light (SSRI): The veteran flamenco guitarist returns with his best full-band sound in quite a few years. Pick track: "Up Close: Embrace."

Jamhunters, Music Speaks Louder Than Words (Gateway): Cool chill, vocals and smooth flavors from Danish lads Lars Fabiansen and Peter Michael. There must be something good in the water in Denmark.

The Dan Siegel Project, Fables (Dan Siegel/Native Language): Worth it just for "Celestial Bodies." Siegel has updated songs from three new age classics, with help from Michael Lington, Tony Guerrero, Allen Hinds, Abraham Laboriel and Nadia Freeman. Sublime.

Various artists, Grooves From the Edge (NuGroove): The resurrected smooth jazz label offers a sampler of its artists, including Jay Soto, Bob Baldwin, Michael Manson and Dee Brown, available exclusively at Circuit City.

Sergio Mendes, Encanto (Concord/Starbucks): More updated classics and a few new Brazilian grooves from the master, featuring Natalie Cole, Herb Alpert, Fergie, Ledisi and others.


T H E * J A Z Z * G Y P S Y

SOMETHING OLD: To pay homage to the standard bearers
Ornette Coleman Something Else!!! The Music of Ornette Coleman (Ojc, 1958)

SOMETHING NEW: To remind me not to despise small beginnings
Esperanza Spaulding Esperanza (Heads Up, 2008)

SOMETHING CONTEMPORARY: To keep me forever young
Gerald Albright Sax for Stax (Peak Records, 2008)

SOMETHING FEMALE: To keep me bonded with my sisterhood
Dee Dee Bridgewater Red Earth (Emarcy / Umg, 2007)

SOMETHING FROM AFRICA: To nourish my cultural heritage
Seun Anikulapo Kuti Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 (Disorient, 2008)


D E N I S * P O O L E

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 4:28 PM

June 28, 2008

L.A. Chillharmonic Drops 08/26 Worldwide

LA_Chillharmonic.jpgFollowing in the tradition of Tom Scott & The L.A. Express, one of the most successful and influential jazz/funk/pop/R&B bands from the '70s, guitarist Richard Smith has assembled an all-star cast of fellow Los Angeles-based players for an updating of that same crossover aesthetic that opened the door to jazz for a generation of listeners. Collectively known as The L.A. Chillharmonic featuring Richard Smith, this stellar crew is rounded out by the world class rhythm tandem of bassist Brian Bromberg and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, percussionist Alex Acuña, keyboardist Jeff Lorber, pianists Patrice Rushen and Greg Karukas, trumpeter Greg Adams, saxophonists Gary Meek, Michael Paulo, and Eric Marienthal.

"It's something that represents the best and brightest in my geographic area," says Smith, a former longtime sideman for chart-topping saxophonist Richard Elliott. "Most major cities have a philharmonic orchestra in the classical idiom, and some cities have municipal jazz bands, but no city has something that represents a major musical genre like instrumental jazz/funk/pop/R&B. And with this project I just wanted to represent and celebrate the unique musical signature as Los Angeles players, writers and arrangers."

On their groove-heavy self-titled debut on Artistry Music, Smith and his dream team deliver a quintessentially L.A. sound - contemporary jazz with pop accessibility and a funky R&B edge - on infectious Smith originals like "Ultimate X," "Back in the Day" and the hard-grooving title track along with faithful covers of Stevie Wonder's "Boogie On Reggae Woman," Brian McKnight's romantic "What We Do Here" and Dan Siegel's bubbling romp "Alvinator." For a change of pace, Smith offers some gentle nylon string acoustic guitar work on the soothing "Gift," which features alluring wordless vocals and a stellar piano solo by Patrice Rushen, and also on "Agrigento," a tender ballad which he says "captures a little bit of Sicily but with an L.A. Beat."

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:57 AM

June 27, 2008

Contempo June 2008

MarcusMiller_live.jpgWhen Condoleeza Rice hangs it up next January, our next president should seriously consider tapping Marcus Miller for Secretary of State. Without saying a word, just plucking the funk out of his fretless bass, the masterful musical jack-of-all-trades could negotiate serious peace and soothe the hearts and minds of our toughest global foes. His resume stretches back to when he was a teenager burning up the clubs of New York in the late 70s, but last year’s string of international achievements is reason enough to appoint him. When Miller’s rockin’ the house - as he did in 2007 in Indonesia, Korea, Russia, Western Europe or Mexico - everyone’s thinking “God Bless America.”

Miller, whose latest disc Marcus is his first U.S release on his own 3 Deuces Records and distributed by the Concord Music Group, would be the only Cabinet member ever to tour with and produce Miles Davis, write trademark hits for David Sanborn, Bob James and Luther Vandross, and spend nights in hotel rooms emailing pieces of score for TV’s Everybody Hates Chris. He could enchant world leaders with stories of his 500 plus sessions with artists identifiable by one name — Dizzy, Shorter, Sinatra, Elton, Clapton, Aretha, Chaka, Grover, Snoop and Mariah. Who knows, maybe even invite their delegations on the inaugural Playboy Jazz Cruise he’s hosting in January 2009.

“In all my years of touring abroad,” says the two-time Grammy winner, “I’ve always felt that people can feel the American emotions that come across in my music, because I incorporate the best of everything we have, from jazz and soul to classical, rock, funk and blues. People really admire our sense of freedom and individuality. The key to winning them over so quickly is that we’re mostly playing instrumentals, so there are no cultural or language barriers to prevent their emotional response. The music can mean what it needs to mean to them.

“Anybody who has ever had to talk to somebody they love or someone they don’t know knows how easy it is for words to mess everything up,” he adds. “If the sentiments and words are not articulated right, you’ve got problems. I go on stage sometimes and don’t even know how to say hello in the native language, but the music and the emotions are pure and connect to the energy and feelings that all people share. There’s no fear of offending anyone with a cultural faux pas when you’re dealing solely with the sound of emotion.”

Because most of the CDs Miller has released since 1993’s Billboard Top Ten Contemporary Jazz Album The Sun Don’t Lie have different label and distribution deals for the U.S., Europe and Asia, it’s hard to count precisely the number of discs he’s put out. But the stylistically schizophrenic experience of listening to each one is a joyful throwback to the 70s, years before formats were so homogenized and divided, when independent FM stations would play anything and everything that was good. Marcus, which continues the bassist’s new association with Concord — including appearing on George Benson & Al Jarreau’s Givin’ It Up and Tom Scott’s Cannon Re-Loaded project — continues in that vein, defying modern corporate wisdom by grooving effortlessly from genre to genre.

“I’ve heard that rule, that we’re supposed to keep it tight, make sure your album’s focused and not all over the place,” he says. “But I’ve come to realize that despite the diversity, my recordings do have an important through line with my bass that holds everything together. People appreciate the fact that I start with the attitude of ‘let it ride, let it go where it goes.’”

The latest Miller thriller begins with him getting in our face with three trademark funk-jazz free for alls with apt titles like “Pluck,” “Strum” and “Ooh.” Then he makes covers fun again with Tower of Power’s “What Is Hip?”, yet another Stevie Wonder jam (his wild “Higher Ground” matches the fire of Silver Rain’s “Boogie On Reggae Woman”), a tender moment with “When I Fall In Love” and two variations on soul singer Robin Thicke’s 2007 hit “Lost Without U” – one featuring actress Taraji P. Henson doing spoken word and the other a smoother reading featuring Lalah Hathaway. Miller goes spacey-bluesy with the help of Keb Mo on “Milky Way” and even introduces Italian guitarist Andrea Braldo — a cat he found on Myspace — on “Blast!” Yet the heart and soul of Marcus, hands down, is the first single, “Free,” a graceful and sensual take on Deniece Williams’ 1976 soul classic featuring the elegant vocal caress of Grammy Award winning singer Corinne Bailey Rae.

“I was in the middle of doing the album and driving my car when her song ‘Put Your Records On’ came on the radio,” Miller says. “I thought, wow, now there’s a unique voice. I live for distinctive personalities. I pulled the car right over, called my people and told them they had to find Corinne for me. There’s something so natural about the way she comes across. There are just artists who make people take notice and go, ‘wow, who’s that?’”

If we’re going to lay blame for Miller’s free-styling, multi-genre ways, let’s start with the Brooklyn born, Jamaica, Queens raised multi-instrumentalist’s parents: dad was playing Bach while mom was digging on Ray Charles. Miller loved walking the streets of Manhattan looking for gigs, hearing it all — funk, jazz, salsa and calypso. He never made distinctions - all that mattered was that the music hit a nerve.

“I may be one of the few crazy musicians in the world who can hear similarities between polka, Louis Armstrong and John Coltrane,” he laughs. “But then I can break the music down and show you the exact thing that makes the music great. New artists coming along these days have to narrow their attack to break through commercially, but a lot of players would really love to do it all. I’m sure if I did one narrow thing, I’d have more commercial success, but what matters more is that people are always hungry for fresh and exciting music. That’s what I’m aiming for every time I step in the studio.”


Brilliantly melodic, hard grooving keyboardist Bob Baldwin may have launched his recording career with the gospel influenced Rejoice in 1990, but he’s clearly a child of the 2000s now. Maybe artists like him who have been bounced around from label to label have to look ahead and think big, but his popularity grew in leaps and bounds when he called his 2000 release BobBaldwin.com. Eight years later, he’s still a dot commer, calling his nuGroove Records debut NewUrbanJazz.com and making a bold statement about the future of his subset of smooth jazz. It’s hard to say why he calls it new, because Baldwin’s always been about the kind of high spirited, just enough improvisation, super catchy, touch of old school, happy funk vibe he’s putting across here. The music speaks for itself, with fun, uptempo jams like “Jeep jazz” (featuring a new vocalist named Zoiea) and “Third Wind,” which features the keyboardist scatting, Norman Brown style over the spirited ivory pounding. While he brings out many big urban and smooth jazz guns — Najee, Marion Meadows, Phil Perry, Joceylyn Brown, Freddie Jackson — he also introduces a few new names (Frank McComb, rapper Delta Croche) and gets adventurous beyond the R&B/jazz borders on the “ole skool” free for all tribute to “Joe Zawinul.” His colorful liner notes declaring “New Urban Jazz” a fresh phenomenon are curious, however, because ever since Paul Brown started producing Boney James in the early 90s, smooth jazz has seen a progressive infusion of heavy soul elements. As a result, his spoken word intro and outro hitting on an explanation of “New Urban Jazz” are slightly superfluous.

Personal Tastes

1) Michael Manson, Up Front (NuGroove Records) — One of the funkiest cats in “new urban jazz” is this Chicago based hitmaker, whose third solo disc strikes gold with new tracks featuring George Duke, Najee and Paul Jackson, Jr., mixed with re-mastered versions of long unavailable cuts from his previous release Just Feelin’ It and a “Chicago Style” take on his breakthrough single “Outer Drive.”
2) Stax Does The Beatles (Stax)
3) Soulsville Sings Hitsville (Stax)
4) Jovino Santos Neto, Alma Do Nordeste (Adventure Music)
5) The Osmonds, 50th Anniversary Reunion Concert (SLG/Denon)

Posted by Jonathan Widran at 9:59 PM

June 26, 2008

That’s (Playboy) Jazz! At The Hollywood Bowl

Photos and Text by Ricky Richardson

Ricky-and-Herman.jpgEvery June, people of all ages are known to yell, shout or scream four letter words without fear of reprisal. They don’t have to worry about being politically correct and they sure won’t suffer the ire/consternation of others. Grads, Dads and Jazz!!! What were you thinking?

Celebrating 30 years of electrifying performances, magical moments and extraordinary music, Playboy once again presented a world class roster of talent at the 30th Anniversary Jazz Festival, Saturday, June 14th and Sunday, June 15th at the famous Hollywood Bowl. As usual, festival organizers presented a variety of musical genres to satisfy the diverse taste of an equally diverse audience.

I had some errands to run on Saturday. Afterwards, I rushed over to the Bowl so that I could catch the opening act. The festivals always get underway each day by showcasing some remarkable high school jazz ensembles. The honor was bestowed on the Hamilton Academy of Music Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Dan Taguchi. They played about four jazz standards with “Blues In The Access Tooth” as one of my favorites.

The Press room backstage at the Bowl offers the Media contingents a respite from the heat in an air conditioned room. We were able to get a bite to eat courtesy of Festival LLC., compare notes after each performance and share stories of other recent concerts one has attended. The hot topic was the re-union tour of Return To Forever the night before at the Gibson Amphitheatre. The photographers were blessed to be in the presence of world renowned photographer Herman Leonard who was hanging out backstage in the Press room.

The Robert Glasper Trio - Robert Glasper - piano, Vincente Archer - bass and Jamire Williams - drums were unknown to me before the festival. This tight trio from New York left a lasting impression playing material from his previous CD’s Canvas and In My Element on the Blue Note Label. I found myself swaying to “FTB,” “Silly Rabbit,” and “Maiden Voyage/Everything In Its Rite Place.”

Bill-Cosby.jpgComedian Bill Cosby wore many hats at the festival. He served as Master of Ceremonies, 12th Bowl appearance as leader of “Cos of Good Music.” When he wasn’t laying down some serious licks on the drums, he could be seen conducting the band. They opened with a tune dedicated to the late great Jimmy McGriff featuring Jerry Peters - Hammond B-3 organ, and David T. Walker on guitar. Several tunes stood out during their set “Dear Lord,” “Lime House Light Blues,” and “Moanin.”

Another newcomer on the jazz scene is Hiromi (keyboards/piano) and her band SonicBloom featuring Tony Grey - bass, David Fiucynki - guitar and Martin Valihora on drums. She wowed the audience with her interpretation of “Caravan.”

James-Moody.jpgSaxophonist James Moody was the unofficial Elder Statesman of the festival. He is still delivering hard driving, hard bopping jazz all over the world. He had an All-Star group backing him on this gig, all who is leaders in their own right. Renee Rosnes - piano, Todd Coolman - bass, Adam Nussbaum - drums, and special guest Terrance Blanchard.

Sherry Maricle and The Diva Jazz Orchestra played a crowd pleasing set of original and some jazz standards for the small but loyal jazz purist in the crowd of 35,000 at the Hollywood Bowl. Their set featured many magical moments and was one of the highlights for the opening day of the festival.

Fans of smooth jazz were treated to a double serving with RnR - Rick Braun - trumpet and Richard Elliott - saxophones. The crowd were up and dancing throughout the Bowl to their smooth grooves.

Los Angeles favorite conguero Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band served up a potent mix of a pinch of R&B, a dab of soul, marinated with some Afro-Cuban jazz with guest vocalist Eddie Floyd. You can see novice as well as experienced dancers, dancing in the aisles.

Rick-and-Richard_08.jpgThe Playboy Jazz Festival is not the only ones celebrating a milestone. Tower of Power is celebrating their 40 Anniversary as well. The band continues to re-define “What Is Hip?” with their distinguished soulful sounds and their patented funky horn-driven music. People were dancing from the top of the Bowl (nosebleed section) all the way down to the exit as Tower of Power closed out the first day of the festival. Other highlights from day one consisted of wonderful entertainment of Dr. John and vocalist Al Jarreau.

Sunday, final day of the festival got under way with another top notched ensemble. View Park Prep Jazz Ensemble directed by Fernando Pullum. These kids were worth arriving early to the Bowl to see them perform. They performed “There’s The Rub,” “So What,” “Two Slip; Lose Lips,” “Meeting Place,” and got down and funky on this Father’s Day with “Father Funk.”

Ben Riley’s Monk Legacy Septet (piano less group) honored the legacy of Thelonious Monk on the following tunes “Brakes Sake,” “Bemsha Swing,” “Bright Mississippi”-based on the changes to “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “Epistrophy,” and “Ryhthm-A-Ning” from their latest CD Memories of T.

Vocalist Ryan Shaw was another newcomer to festival goers. People will not soon forget this dynamic singer as he rocked the Bowl with a set of rock, soul and R&B tunes from his debut CD This Is Ryan Shaw.

Another milestone was celebrated on Sunday. Ivan Lins - keyboards and piano with special guest Oscar Castro-Neves - guitar celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Bossa Nova music paying homage to Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Roy Hargrove Big Band provided me and the jazz purist a set of original straight ahead jazz with a lot of explosive energy. Vocalist Roberta Gambarini joined the band for a couple of songs.

Dee-Dee-Bridgewater.jpgDee Dee Bridgewater took the crowd on a wonderful journey. She sang and danced to songs from her latest CD Red Earth: A Malian Journey. She mesmerized the captivated the crowd by featuring musicians playing several African instruments (kora, and djembe) and also featured guest vocalist Yocouba Sissoko, Tamani, N’Goni, Mamani Keita, and Kabine Kouyate.

The 7th inning stretch was spiced up a bit with the appearance of Plena Libre from the enchanting island of Puerto Rico. They had very little of trouble keeping and holding the attention of the audience. Some people were busy texting their friend on their cell phones or blackberry’s to get the score of the NBA Finals match, Game 5 between the Lakers and the Celtics. The majority of the audience was busy dancing to the infectious Latin rhythms of plena and salsa of this exciting band.

Keb’ Mo’ kept the crowd up on their feet and in the party mood by playing a crowd pleasing set of feel good, uptempo blues. You felt like you were part of a tent revival as oppose to a jazz festival.

Herbie Hancock was the hands down crowd favorite of this year Playboy Jazz Festival. He delighted the crowd with some jazz from his extended catalog of LP’s/CD’s. His most recent is the 2008 Grammy Award winning CD River: The Joni Letters. The band was aided and abetted by the presence of Marcus Miller - bass, C-Minus - turntables, and The Debbie Allen Dance Academy.

Guitars and Saxes - Gerald Albright and Jessy J (saxophones), with Jeff Golub and Peter White (guitars) closed out the 30th Anniversary Playboy Jazz Festival with a fun set of smooth jazz grooves.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:26 AM

June 24, 2008

Dave Koz To Get Hollywood Star

kozblowing_1.jpgCongratulations to saxophonist Dave Koz, who the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has selected to receive a star on its famous Hollywood Walk of Fame next year. The honor, created 50 years ago, is generally regarded as making the entertainment Hall of Fame, and other performers who have received the honor include Kenny G, Al Jarreau, Sting, Queen Latifah and Vanessa Williams. Star ceremonies are open to the public and formerly were led by honorary Hollywood mayor Johnny Grant prior to his death earlier this year.

Among those joining Koz to get stars next year are Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, the Village People, Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Cameron Diaz, Robert Downey Jr., Ben Kingsley, William Petersen, Kyra Sedgwick and Shakira.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:44 AM

June 16, 2008

Summer Kicks Off Hot Weather With Hot Acts

Erykah Badu brings her original style of crossover pop to the Mandalay Bay Events Center at Mandalay Bay June 13th.

KGB (The Killer Groove Band) with saxophonist Rocky Gordon, performed at the District on Friday night, June 13th.

Marion Meadow's smooth signature soprano sax can be heard in the Chrome Showroom at the Santa Fe Station June 21st.

The legendary Chuck Mangione will perform two nights in the Suncoast showroom at the Suncoast Hotel for two nights, June 20-21.

Primm Valley Resorts at the Nevada stateline on June 21st present the great female alto vocal sounds of Anita Baker, whose comeback is still ongoing with a loyal fan base still in tact.

Peabo Bryson performs his soulful hits one night only in the Railhead Showroom at the Boulder Station Hotel on June 27th.

Las Vegas favorite, guitarist Ottmar Liebert, returns to the Boulder Station Hotel on June 28th.

On a side note: Smooth Jazz 105.7 The Oasis radio station has opted for Dave Koz to host his syndicated afternoon drive radio show from 2p-7p, Monday-Friday. Hopefully this effort will circumvent the station's sagging ratings in the last year.

Posted by Danny Desart at 5:47 AM

June 15, 2008

1st Annual Smooth Jazz Festival Bregenz - License To Chill

Goodbye James – hello Candy. Only a couple of weeks ago the Bregenz Festival Hall was under the motto “Quantum of Solace” – but soon that is going to be: Enjoy a “Quantum of smooth jazz”...

SJFestBregenz08.jpgNeusäß, 09.06.2008: While hot action scenes have rounded off the shooting programme for “Quantum of Solace” – the 22nd episode of the famous “My name is Bond”–special agent-saga - on the roof of the Bregenz Festival Hall, preparations for the just as promising 1st episode of a festival are in full swing: the 1st Annual Smooth Jazz Festival which is taking place here on the 20th and 30th of August. Not only does the smooth entertainment GmbH, Neusäß, provide the suitable background music for a shaken vodka martini with this event, but it also stages yet another world premiere in the studio theatre in Bregenz – and this mission is everything but secret. On the contrary: we are more than pleased to share all the news...

First Mission: What is Smooth Jazz?

The term “Smooth Jazz” is not one commonly used in this part of the world, so let’s start with a short definition: first: Smooth Jazz is not Jazz – or not only, at least. Secondly: Smooth Jazz is no muzak*!! But: Smooth Jazz is – a touch of Soul, a touch of RnB (not too much), a touch of Jazz, too. While wikipedia.de claims that Smooth Jazz is a variety of Jazz, we claim: Smooth Jazz is the play list of the “Cafe del Mar” – CDs. It is emotion. An attitude towards life which finds no echo in the mainstream–scores of the charts. It is chill-out music at its finest, but definitely with a light savoir-vivre- and laissez-faire-feeling at its heart. In the U.S and in Dubai the fans of this floating sound number millions already, prominent artists are e.g. Candy Dulfer, Sade, Carlos Santana, Simply Red, Nora Jones, Sting, but also the German band De Phazz with singer Pat Appleton.

Second Mission: Why Bregenz?

Smooth Jazz is casually cultivated lifestyle, paired with a dose of coolness, cultivated indulgence and culture – an ambience completely in line with the Bregenz Festival Hall. On the one hand a touch of “Casino Royale”, on the other a breeze of beach-feeling à la “Cafe del Mar”. Concerts with well-known artists will take place on both nights. The location: the studio theatre, the “rough diamond for events” of the Bregenz Festival Hall, set up as a multifunctional “Black Box” which will transform into a chilled-out party lounge on the occasion of the 1st Annual Smooth Jazz Festival. Moreover an outdoor lounge will be open to all – not only festival guests – from the afternoon.

Third Mission: Which Acts?

The Festival line-up sparkles with highlights: On the first night the Italian band Gabin will hit the stage with groovy beats. Then the American guitarist Chieli Minucci, who has already performed with artists like Jennifer Lopez and Anastacia, the saxophonist Marion Meadows, from the U.S. as well, and the Swiss-born pianist Alex Bugnon will take you away into the world of Smooth Jazz. De Phazz from Heidelberg is the closing climax of the first-night live acts, and will put the audience in the mood for the following after-show-party with elements of Dub, Jazz, Soul, Trip-Hop, Latin, Drum'n'Bass and Ambient; we have of course booked well-known clubbing-scene djs for both party nights.

The second night will be opened by De-Phazz-singer Pat Appleton with her own band, then big names in the world of Smooth Jazz, Peter White, Jaared plus Rocco Ventrella and Candy Dulfer, follow onto the stage. The saxophonist from the Netherlands has already performed with international stars like Prince, Beyonce, Aretha Franklin and Pink Floyd and will put the heat on the audience for the following after-show-party. On this weekend a visit to Bregenz will even be doubly rewarding: on both days of the Festival the Bregenz town fair takes place during daytime, which each year attracts 120.000 guests to a visit at the lake promenade.

More information at smoothjazzfestival.de

Posted by Peter Böhi at 3:10 PM

June 14, 2008

David Sanborn's Here And Gone Release August 12, 2008 On Decca Records Featuring Special Guests Eric Clapton, Sam Moore, Joss Stone And More

Here And Gone - the new record from the legendary David Sanborn - is set for release on Decca Records in the US, Tuesday, August 12, 2008.

DavidSanborn_Here&Gone.jpgHere And Gone is a tribute to the sound of Hank Crawford, David "Fathead" Newman, Ray Charles, etc. Backing Sanborn are Steve Gadd (drums) and Christian McBride (bass). Guests include Eric Clapton, Joss Stone, Sam Moore, Derek Trucks and Anthony Wilson.  Here And Gone was produced by yet another legend and longtime friend: Phil Ramone.
 
"Joss is a real phenomenon," Sanborn says. "It takes a forceful talent to take a song ["I Believe It to My Soul"] that Ray Charles not only wrote but really defined and put your own identity on it."
 
Sanborn, who has been friends with Eric Clapton for many years and a collaborator with him on several previous projects, asked Eric to play on Percy Mayfield's "I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town."
 
"Fortunately he agreed not only to sing on it but play on it! But he's got such a great understanding of what the music is about and the way it should be presented."
 
Sanborn's song selection - like "I've Got News For You" which features Sam Moore of Sam & Dave fame - gives the listener a glimpse to his sense of humor.
 
Sanborn, an unrivaled player who straddles the pop and jazz worlds while commanding respect in both, has worked with Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder and The Rolling Stones to name just a few. Remember David Bowie's "Young Americans" or the Saturday Night Live theme - that's Sanborn.
 
Night Music - his groundbreaking music television show on NBC - was produced by SNL's creator Lorne Michaels and featured a remarkably diverse guest artist list including Lou Reed, Sonic Youth, Sonny Rollins, the Pixies, Leonard Cohen and Al Green. Many of these episodes are on YouTube.
 
As a child, David had polio. His doctor suggested he play a wind instrument to improve his lung strength. His father took him to a basketball game in his hometown of St. Louis. Hank Crawford performed during halftime, Sanborn was inspired and immediately took up the sax - the rest is history.
 
Sanborn will tour later this summer in support of  Here And Gone.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:41 PM

June 13, 2008

Dan Siegel Updates Songs For Compelling New CD

Siegel_Dan.jpgPianist Dan Siegel is now offering a new CD titled Fables that features updated re-recordings of songs that he composed in the mid-1980s on his CDs Another Time Another Place, On The Edge and Short Stories. The CD is being released independently and distributed by Native Language.

Among the many musicians joining Siegel on the CD, which is billed as The Dan Siegel Project, are saxophonist Michael Lington, trumpeter Tony Guerrero, guitarist Allen Hinds, bassist Abraham Laboriel and vocalist Nadia Freeman. There are a mixture of new age, chill and smooth jazz tunes, including “Concrete Jungle,” “Fugitives” and the hit-worthy “Celestial Bodies.”

The CD is highly recommended.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:23 AM

June 7, 2008

Euge Groove To Tour With Tina Turner Again

Groove_Born2.jpgEuge Groove will be performing for whole new audience in the coming months as the saxophonist has been selected by legendary vocalist Tina Turner to join her on her Tina: Live in Concert Tour. It will be a reunion for Euge and the 68-year-old performer, as he also performed in Turner’s band on a tour in 2000, which also happened to be the last time she mounted a tour.

The upcoming tour will run from Oct. 1 to Dec. 12 in North America, as well as Jan. 14 to April 1 in Europe. Groove, who also toured in the past with Tower of Power, Richard Marx, Joe Cocker and Huey Lewis before becoming a solo artist, said it was difficult to turn Turner down when she approached him about the tour. But Euge says that he will still be performing solo shows when not with Turner, although he has been forced to cancel an appearance with the Dave Koz & Friends At Sea tour this November.

Groove recalls meeting Turner late in 1999 before going to tour with her in 2000. "She just starts going into me. I want you to do this and this and this, and jump up and down and dance and I’m like, Oh my gosh, what have I gotten myself into, you know? And that very much was her personality. She knows what she wants, and she’s going to let you know what she wants, and there’s only one way to do it – the way that she wants. But here’s the other side of that that’s great. She was always right. People would think that she was not right or try to tell her to do something else, and she would stick to her guns and ultimately in the end she was right every time"

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:13 PM

June 5, 2008

George Benson Named NEA Jazz Master

Benson_George_2008A.jpgCongratulations to 10-time Grammy Award-winning singer, composer and guitarist George Benson, who has been selected by the National Endowment for the Arts, or NEA, as one of the newest Jazz Masters, the nation's highest Jazz honor.

The NEA recognized Benson as a distinguished artist whose excellence, impact, and significant contributions have helped to keep the important tradition of jazz alive. Specifically, the NEA remarked that Benson created the innovative practice of playing a florid guitar melody accompanied by an identical, scatted vocal line.

Also announced as 2009 NEA Jazz Masters were Jimmy Cobb, Lee Konitz, Toots Thielemans, Snooky Young and Rudy Van Gelder. The six recipients will each receive a $25,000 grant award. The Oct. 17 presentation of the 2009 NEA Jazz Masters Award will take place at Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:21 AM