July 28, 2010

Smooth Jazz Festival Augsburg 2010, Germany

I am happy to report that the Smooth Jazz Festival in Europe is being continued and going strong, after Bregenz and Munich, the 3rd festival will the be held in Augsburg in Germany at the "Park Theater at Kurhaus Göggingen", September 24-26. It will be full of intensive, passionate Smooth Jazz and relaxed vibes set in a noble ambiance. What awaits music lovers is a sound experience until now undreamt of in Europe, which does not have too much in common with classical Jazz and will be celebrated by some of the greatest names in the international Smooth Jazz scene.

In the side wings of the Kurhaus, the catering crew will be offering drinks, lounge-food and international tapas. The patio will be opened for the guests to enjoy the warm late-summer nights and harmoniously flowing sounds. Visitors from all parts of Germany and fans from all over Europe meet here for a pleasant, atmospheric weekend in the beautiful ambiance of the Kurhaus in Göggingen.

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The line-up is first rate and features a who's who of today's smooth jazz scene:

RICK BRAUN | Trumpet | Friday at 8:00 pm
The composer, arranger and producer with own record label looks back at joint performances with e. g. Sade, Tina Turner, Natalie Cole, Rod Stewart, Tom Petty. He is a two-time winner of the Gavin Report’s “Smooth Jazz Artist of the Year” award and is with 15 solo albums (latest CD “All It Takes”) one of the most successful US Smooth jazz musicians.

DAVID BENOIT | Piano | Friday at 9:30 pm
The versatile pianist, composer and conductor (e. g. Los Angeles Philharmonics, London Symphony Orchestra) is not only a magnificent musician, he is shaping the genre since many years. Looking back on 5 Grammy nominations and 25 solo albums (latest CD “Earthglow”), he will be honored with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the American Smooth Jazz Awards on October 29, 2010.

SHILTS | Saxophone | Saturday at 8:00 pm
Since his earliest childhood “Shilts” is playing the saxophone. 11 years leader of the popular Funk/Soul/Jazz band “Down to the Bone”, now the born Londoner is a successful solo-artist. His latest CD is called “Jigsaw Life”. On the stage and in the studio he has already performed with artists such as David Bowie, Beyonce, U2, Gloria Gaynor, Jamiroquai or Brand New Heavies.

CHUCK LOEB | Guitar | Saturday at 9:30 pm
For four decades he has been internationally successful as a musician, composer and producer. Chuck was in the 80s the musical director of Stan Getz´s band and has performed with renown international artists such as Jim Hall and Pat Metheny as well as with the German drummer Wolfgang Haffner. After 8 solo albums his latest CD “Between 2 Worlds” is in the stores. For a few weeks he became member of the legendary Contemporary jazz quartet “Fourplay” and took over the guitar chair from the great Larry Carlton.

JOYCE COOLING | Vocals & Guitar | Sunday at 11:00 am
Along with Norah Jones and Diana Krall Joyce Cooling belongs to the current top female jazz musicians of the new generation. She stood on stage with stars like Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, Charlie Byrd or Al Jarreau and has won multiple music awards, including the Gibson Best Jazz Guitarist of the Year. Furthermore Cooling was nominated among others for the California Music Award. 8 solo albums have appeared, her latest CD: “Global Cooling”.


The Latin Smooth jazz duo AKUSTICOS - from Costa Rica – John Odio (saxophone) and Walter Blanco (guitar) – will start the concert evening on Saturday at 7:30 pm as opening band ahead of Shilts. In addition, the duo will provide a melodic conclusion of the evening at the aftershow party from 10:30 pm.

Rick Braun, David Benoit, Shilts and Chuck Loeb will be accompanied and supported by the HEAVY MELLOW QUARTET – Stefan Machalitzky, Voker Meitz, Björn Werra and Kai Schönburg, the same group that supported all the major acts at last year's festival in Munich.

On Friday and Saturday doors will open at 7:00 pm. On Sunday for the Smooth Jazz Matinee with Joyce Cooling at 10:30 am.

For further information visit www.smoothjazzfestival.de or call +49 (0)821 – 906 22 22

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:40 PM

July 26, 2010

Brian Culbertson XII

Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a personal perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. Ever since 1994, and the advent of his debut CD Long Night Out, Brian Culbertson has stood out as the master of R & B tinged smooth jazz. His discography is faultless and has now been further enhanced by the release of his twelfth solo album, the aptly titled XII. Out on GRP Records, this landmark collection offers up twelve original Culbertson compositions and, with a star studded line-up of guest performers, is among the best contemporary jazz recordings of the year so far.

The first single to be slated for Urban AC radio is the edgy ballad ‘Skies Wide Open’ that features stand-out vocals from Avant. It is one of three tracks co-produced by Rex Rideout and another is ‘Don't U Know Me By Now’ that is brought to stunning life by the earthy vocals of Faith Evans. She is also around for the high octane party tune ‘Feelin' It’ for which the horn section of Greg Boyer, Bryan Mills and Brad Clements is to die for. This ultra funky number is further enhanced by input on vocals and guitar from Chuck Brown who is regarded by many as the pioneer of Washington DC ‘Go-Go’ music and when Culbertson teams with Brian McKnight for the sensational steppers cut ‘Out On The Floor’ the result is pure magic.

Of course no Brian Culbertson album would be complete without a smattering of the ultra catchy instrumental tracks with which he made his name. XII is no exception as first for ‘Stay Wit It’ and again with the zesty ‘It’s Time’ he delivers luscious slices of what might be described as ‘classic Culbertson’. This latter tune was written in collaboration with Sheldon Reynolds of Earth Wind & Fire fame and when later they again combine for the mellow ‘Forever’ Culbertson calls upon the legendary Ray Parker Jr. to lend a hand. Parker also features on the distinctly sexy ‘I Wanna Love You’ that evokes memories of the sultry mood so memorably created by Culbertson’s 2005 project It's On Tonight and as he keeps the tempo relaxed for ‘Waiting For You’ the outcome is a velvety, understated gem.

Already making an impact on the chart of most played on smooth jazz radio is the feel good groove of ‘That's Life’ that finds Culbertson in delightful partnership with the wonderful Earl Klugh while elsewhere spoken word starlet Natalie Stewart (of Floetry fame) sprinkles her unique talents all over ‘I Don't Know’. The addition of a compelling beat and great keys from Culbertson makes this one of the CD’s best cuts but right up there with it, and a real Secret Garden favorite, is ‘Another Love’. With a thumping old school vibe, and silkily soulful vocals from the always excellent Kenny Lattimore, smooth R & B doesn’t get better than this.

XII is out now and comes highly recommended.

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

Posted by Denis Poole at 5:47 PM

July 13, 2010

Chris Botti At Humphreys

Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden the page that offers a personal perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul.

July 9, 2010. Ever since 1995, when he first came to prominence with the CD First Wish, Chris Botti has gradually differentiated himself from other contemporary jazz trumpeters by ever increasing diversions down avenues of standards, classical music and opera. With a stage presence that is both articulate and magnetic, he has the ability to command an audience of any size and at Humphreys open air concert venue on the rim of the San Diego Bay he did just that. In the company of some of the finest musicians to be assembled anywhere, he captivated the sell out crowd with a performance of rare quality and although some may have been surprised by how removed Botti now is from the smooth jazz format, no one could have been disappointed by the magnitude of the virtuosity on display.

The show opened with Botti’s rendition of the title cut from his 2004 When I Fall In Love which here included a jazz drenched piano solo from the Grammy winning Billy Childs. Later, when he revisited this collection for a stunning interpretation of the theme music from Cinema Paradiso, he was joined on stage by guest violinist Caroline Campbell. This evocative song can also be found on Botti’s latest project Chris Botti In Boston and he delved generously into it for ‘Emmanuel’ (where Campbell again played her part), the Miles Davis tune ‘Flamenco Sketches’ and most notably the Leonard Cohen classic ‘Halleluja’ for which Mark Whitfield on guitar was outstanding.

Botti’s backing line-up was completed by drummer Billy Kilson, who has been with him for the last six years; San Diego based keyboard player Geoffrey Keezer and bass player Carlos Henriques. All were significant throughout and particularly so when Botti turned to the title track from his 2007 album Italia. Staying with Italia, he opted for the heavily operatic ‘Caruso’ which he then contrasted with the timeless ‘The Very Thought Of You’ from the same CD.

A highlight of the entire show was the contribution of Lisa Fischer who, for over twenty years, has been the vocal powerhouse behind live performances by Luther Vandross and The Rolling Stones. First with ‘The Look Of Love’ from Botti’s 2003 album A Thousand Kisses Deep and again with ‘Good Morning Heartache’ from the 2005 Duets collection she lit up the night.

Chris Botti’s extensive concert schedule can be found at www.chrisbotti.com

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

Posted by Denis Poole at 6:19 PM

July 7, 2010

4th of July Blast with Jazz and Blues

By Ricky Richardson

Los Angeles-Councilmember Bernard C. Parks and Bobbie Parks and the staff of the 8th District welcomed thousands gathered in the Vision Theatre Backlot in Leimert Park Village for the 8th Annual 4th of July Jazz Festival.

Celebrating country, community and freedom with family and friends on Sunday, July 4, 2010 with a nice summer breeze. James Janisse served as Master of Ceremonies.

Rev. Alvin McKinney got the program under way properly by leading the crowd with the “National Anthem” on saxophone.

Phyllis Battle, former vocalist with the 5th Dimensions, belted out some jazz and blues with a lot of soul on “Amen”- acapella, Do I Do,” “Fever,” “What a Wonderful World,” and “Joy Spring” by Clifford Brown.

CJS Quintet delighted the crowd with some be-bop, hard bop. The band were swinging hard on “Hanky Panky” by Dexter Gordon, “Subtle Intensity” composed by keyboardist Art Hillary, “Melody for Thelma” by Blue Mitchell and closed with another composition by Art Hillary “What Now My Love.” You can find several of these tunes on their latest CD Let’s Play.

An added treat to the festival were two dynamic and funny stand up comics to entertain the crowd between acts. Roz Browne and Rose Nelson had the crowd laughing hard until their sides hurt. I look to hear more from these talented comics in the future.

Guitarist Ray Bailey fired up the already enthusiastic crowd by taking us down south for some good down home blues. He demonstrated his virtuosity on “Sugar” by Stanley Turrentine. He cranked up the throttle up a notch on “Why I Sang The Blues” by B.B. King, “Black Night” by Lowell Fulson and closed out his set with “Caldonia” by Luis Jordon.

Mark Felton aka The Panther closed out another successful and thrilling day with a set of up tempo contemporary jazz.

The festivities switched over to Exposition Park for the annual KJLH Radio Music Festival. The day was capped off with fireworks spectacular at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:12 PM

July 5, 2010

What We're Listening To ** June

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘You’ll Be Mine’ by Jonathan Fritzen from his latest release Diamonds. This soul drenched stunner features sensational vocals from Laila Adéle and is but one great cut in an album crammed full of them.

‘Sugar Free’ by The Jeff Lorber Fusion from the CD Now Is The Time. This, the best track on the album, has a jazzy soulful swagger, nice guitar from Paul Jackson Jr, killer bass from Jimmy Haslip and a vocal performance by Barcelona born and Florida based Irene B that is out of this world.

‘Tomorrow’s Promise’ by keyboard player Chris Geith from his fabulous new collection Island Of A Thousand Dreams. Geith’s music is full of glorious melodies and hugely accessible rhythms. It is as if every song tells a story and the inbuilt urgency of this selected tune really is something special.

‘Come Dancing’ by vocalist Lisa McClowry from her latest project Time Signatures. This hauntingly beautiful Jim Peterik composition is blessed with truly superb strings from Matt Mantell, Emily Mantell and Caroline Curtis. Indeed, it has all the attributes of being a real keeper.

‘The Road To Peace (A Prayer For Haiti)’ by Gerald Albright from his brand new CD Pushing The Envelope; Here, in magical companionship with the great George Duke, Albright delivers a groove that is entirely something to savor. Without doubt this is one of the coolest cuts you will find anywhere.


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

Chris Standring, Blue Bolero (Ultimate Vibe Recordings) (2010)

Grover Washington Jr., Grover Live (Lightyear Records) (2010)

Eric Darius, On A Mission (Shanachie Entertainment) (2010)

Attila Molnar, Dreams (Catapult Records) (2009)

Kirk Whalum, The Gospel According To Jazz Chapter 3 (Rendezvous Records) (2010)


P E T E R * B O E H I

Chris Geith - Island Of A Thousand Dreams (2010)
This latest release by pianist Chris Geith sparkles with pretty melodies, cool grooves, top-notch musicianship and is definitely standing out from the crop of new releases. Very recommended!

Norman Brown - Sending My Love (2010)
This brand new album of guitarist Norman Brown delivers more of his trademark guitar playing, thankfully sticking to his tried formula of fluid guitar lines, warm, funky backdrops and catchy melodies. Quality throughout!

David Benoit - Earthglow (2010)
Pianist David Benoit is still going strong on his latest release which is full of memorable melodies, spirited playing and happy grooves, yielding a very satisfying piece of music. Thumbs up!

Eric Darius - On A Mission (2010)
Another corker of saxophonist Eric Darius who pulls all the stops on his newest release. Although the songs fusing jazz and hip hop don't work for me, his inclusion of Herbie Hancock's "Butterfly" featuring Rick Braun is a welcome highlight. One of the best young players on the scene!

Bob James - The Very Best Of (2009)
My nod to the past goes to this 2 CD set of Bob James which covers the whole career of this seminal pianist and arranger, starting out with his early CTI albums going to his current material featuring collaborations with David Sanborn, Earl Klugh and Kirk Whalum. The sound quality is not always stellar, but the music is simply ingenious!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:56 PM

July 2, 2010

Dave Koz's Bandleader Gig Ends

It looks like Dave Koz's gig as a bandleader is over.

In April, the saxophonist debuted as the bandleader on the new Emeril Lagasse Show, the first original non-scripted series on the ION television network. His all-star band included keyboardist Philippe Saisse, guitarist Jeff Golub, drummer Skoota Warner and bassist Conrad Korsch.

Koz composed and recorded the theme song for show, and “Emeril’s Theme” marked the second television theme song penned by Koz – his “Faces of the Heart” was used as ABC’s General Hospital theme. It was Koz’s second stint as a bandleader, as he appeared in a similar role early in his career with late-night TV host Arsenio Hall.

All indications point to the fact that the Emeril Lagasse Show will not be returning, and Koz acknowledged as much in a recent interview. Lagasse has signed on to create and host a daytime game show, A Taste of Emeril's: Cooking Challenge, for CBS. He’s also begins hosting the new show, Fresh Food Fast, on The Cooking Channel this month.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 9:29 PM