March 31, 2011

Berks Jazz Fest 2011: Chuck Loeb & Friends

Wednesday evening, I attended a show at the packed Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base at the Crowne Plaza hotel tagged The Bebop Sessions, it was led by guitarist Chuck Loeb and featured Rick Braun, Randy Brecker, Brian Bromberg, Gerald Albright, Ada Rovatti and Philippe Saisse. There was not a smooth jazz track in sight, instead this band of world class players provided a program of straight ahead material with lots of excellent solos. It was quite a treat to experience those artists in the intimate setting of a club teaming up for a fun evening of jazz.


The first track featured each member of the band, later the band was broken up a bit to allow for various combinations of soloists. Guitarist Chuck Loeb coordinated the efforts and directed the players, while Brian Bromberg stuck the whole evening to his acoustic bass, which was the appropriate choice for this musical material, but this didn't hinder him to provide some outstanding solos. He seemed to feel very comfortable and anchored the band in a sovereign manner, together with drummer Lionel Cordew - who usually plays with Chieli Minucci & Special EFX - doing an outstanding job. All players seemed to have a lot of fun, a relaxed atmosphere permeated the show, I enjoyed to hear my favorite saxophonist Gerald Albright to stretch out a little more, while Ada Rovatti on tenor sax was firmly rooted in the bebop tradition and must have felt very comfortable in this setting. Randy Brecker showed his impeccable technique and hardly missed a note, while fellow trumpet player Rick Braun proved to be a skilled straight ahead player on trumpet and flugelhorn as well. At the end of the show, he sang a heartfelt version of "Body & Soul", complete with a solo on the muted trumpet. Philippe Saisse alternated on keyboards and grand piano and provided some great solos as well. The material covered included "Groovin' High" and "Night In Tunisia" by Dizzy Gillespie, "Joy Spring" by Clifford Brown, "52nd Street Theme" plus a few Charlie Parker tracks (among them "My Little Suede Shoes"). The concert had an intermission and lasted well over two overs, it was of the kind you only can experience at the Berks Jazz Festival.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 4:48 PM

March 29, 2011

Berks Jazz Fest 2011: Guitars & Saxes

Sunday evening, another highlight was the Guitars & Saxes show featuring Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, Peter White and Jeff Golub with special guests Jeff Lorber and Eric Marienthal, the event took place in the Sovereign Performing Arts Center. Those four performers belong to the very best of the genre, so the expectations were high. The show was started with Peter White, who introduced Kirk Whalum, followed by Jeff Golub and Gerald Albright, each one played a short part of one of their signature tracks. The band consisted of Sean McCurley on drums, Ron Reinhardt on keys plus a young bass player whose name I didn't catch. Peter White played his tribute to Wayman Tisdale with the song "Bright", followed by Kirk Whalum playing "Valdez In The Country" from his current release Everything Is Everything: The Music Of Donny Hathaway with a burning guitar solo by Jeff Golub, who later played his own "Shuffleboard" in his bluesy style. Gerald Albright stuck to his tried and tested classics "Mi, Mi, Mi" and "Georgia On My Mind", complete with the breaks and the familiar antics on the horn.

Always great is Peter White's rendition of the Isley Brothers' "Who's That Lady" (later segueing into "Papa Was A Rolling Stone"), and his own "Bueno Funk" which is one of my all-time favorites from his catalog. Jeff Golub brought back the blues with "In The Blink Of An Eye". A very entertaining segment of the show was when each artist told what players or songs had influenced them in the beginning, playing those songs - Kirk Whalum, the son of a pastor, reflected his gospel background with "Oh Happy Day", Jeff Golub was influenced by various blues players like B.B. King, he played "The Thrill Is Gone" (with Kirk Whalum singing), Gerald Albright grew up in L.A. and through the record collection of his brother learned about Maceo Parker and Cannonball Adderley, he played "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy", while Peter White in England was primarily exposed to the Beatles in his youth, obviously he learned fast after that. After Gerald Albright's "Pushing The Envelope" they brought special guests Jeff Lorber on keys and Eric Marienthal on sax to the stage to perform "Ain't Nobody" giving those players ample solo space, bringing a great and very entertaining concert to a close.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:36 PM

Berks Jazz Fest 2011: Pieces Of A Dream feat. Phil Perry

Smooth Jazz 92.7 was hosting the next concert that took place in the Crowne Plaza Reading Ballroom, the show featured Pieces of a Dream with special guest Phil Perry, being another sold out show. Pieces Of A Dream are founding members Curtis Harmon on drums and James Lloyd on keyboards, plus Rohn Lawrence on guitar, David Dyson on bass, plus new faces Morris Pleasure on keyboards and a new young saxophone player whose name unfortunately I didn't catch. They kicked things off with the groovy "Wakeup Call" that had the crowd cheering, followed by the slow-burning "Anywhere You Are", a Curtis Harmon composition dedicated to his wife, that featured the saxophonist. They revisited their own classic "Fo-Fi-Fo", after a couple more tracks, special guest Phil Perry was brought to the stage bringing his inimitable vocals to the proceedings, he sang "If Only You Knew" pouring all his heart into it. The first set was closed with the Christopher Cross classic "Ride Like The Wind".

The beginning of the second set was dedicated to their late mentor Grover Washington, Jr. with their rendition of "Mr. Magic" that gave both Morris Pleasure on keys and Rohn Lawrence on guitar some time to play extended solos. Things slowed down with "Night Vision", an often requested track from their catalog, before going back in time to play "Mt. Airy Groove" with a long, stunning bass solo by David Dyson and a smoking drum solo by Curtis Harmon. Then Phil Perry joined the band and performed the Isley Brothers' classic "For The Love Of You", later in the show, he whistled in an incredible and jazzy way, showing what a great talent he is. Notable also was a Benson-like guitar solo by Rohn Lawrence where he concurrently played and scatted. Phil Perry finished his part with "Dance With Me", before the band appeared for one more instrumental track as encore. The whole show lasted close to two and a half hours and was well received by the capacity crowd.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 4:40 PM

Berks Jazz Fest 2011: Smooth Jazz 92.7 Sunday Brunch feat. Andrew Neu

Sunday morning we had to be back early at 10am for the Smooth Jazz 92.7 Sunday Brunch featuring Andrew Neu which took place at the Abraham Lincoln Hotel Ballroom. There were tables set up and a big buffet that catered every need, so you could eat, meet people and socialize a bit, before the show started. Saxophonist Andrew Neu has been working with many artists in the past, most notably Bobby Caldwell with whom he tours regularly, and has started his own solo career concurrently a few years ago. He was backed by a great band and led us through his program of mostly self composed material, they kicked off the show with "Poolside", a new track that will be released on a forthcoming CD. Another favorite was a song penned by Brian Bromberg for him called "Wine" from the In Clear View CD, another track from the same album was the groovy "Seven Mile Bridge". They slowed down things for "Open Mind" from their current album Try Something Neu, providing some great moments of intensity. Later in the show, they played a nice cover of Steely Dan's "Peg" and - my personal highlight - the funky "The Nut" which really stuck in my mind. This was a good show by a consummate sax player who definitely deserves wider recognition.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 3:41 PM

March 28, 2011

Berks Jazz Fest 2011: Gerald Veasley's Sounds of Philly

The late show Saturday was tagged Gerald Veasley's Sounds of Philly featuring Will Downing, Carol Riddick, Nick Colionne and Walter Beasley, held in the ballroom the Crowne Plaza hotel. The evening turned out to be another sold out show, it was broadcasted live on WFMZ-TV Channel 69.

Bassist Gerald Veasley is a Philadelphia native who handpicked a bunch of artists to recreate some Philly magic that evening. After a brief version of "Nights Over Egypt" and the announcement by Rick Scott, they kicked off the show with their version of "TSOP", before returning to "Nights Over Egypt" featuring Carol Riddick on vocals. Mighty great music they did back in the heydays of the PIR label! Carol gave us her heartfelt rendition of "You Are Everything", before guitarist Nick Colionne stepped to the stage, beautifully clad in a pink suit and hat, playing "Love TKO" providing an early highlight of the show, having the audience sing along. Saxophonist Walter Beasley played Blue Magic's "Sideshow", pleasing the crowd, before the reference to Grover Washington, Jr. in the form of "Winelight" was given, proving Walter Beasley being the perfect choice to perform this song in the spirit of Grover. Then singer Will Downing joined the stage to provide a totally smoothed out version of "Mr. Magic" with Walter Beasley which was a total treat. Then he sang "Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)" in his inimitable style, which was pure soul bliss. I could go on endlessly, but I won't run down the rest of the show, just let me say that many great artists alternated to give the Philly catalog their reference, all held together by our favorite, Gerald Veasley on bass, who has to be applauded for another great project you only get to hear at the Berks Jazz Festival. The show lasted over two hours and left a satisfied crowed well past midnight.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:53 PM

Berks Jazz Fest 2011: Al Jarreau & George Duke

Saturday evening, two of the biggest stars of the scene were due in the Sovereign Performing Arts Center: Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio were to reunite. Both artists started out in a club called Half Note in San Francisco in 1965 where they performed regularly together, now after over 40 years, they are recreating the magic.

The show was kicked off with Al Jarreau singing "Moanin'", before the George Duke Trio took over with "Brazilian Love Affair". We got the great Michael Manson on bass and Rayford Griffin on drums, forming a world-class rhythm section. George Duke showed why he is one of the most respected keyboard players in the industry with his excellent playing, be it jazz or funk. Al Jarreau came back to give us his version of the Eddie Harris classic "Cold Duck Time" with some of his trademark scatting and vocal antics, then his pop hit "We're In This Love Together" was thrown into the mix for good measure. Then it was George Duke's turn again singing his biggest hit ever (done under the banner of the Clarke/Duke Project) "Sweet Baby", followed by my personal highlight of the concert, the deeply felt "No Rhyme No Reason" where George really pulled all the stops with a cool keyboard solo that started electrically and ended acoustically. After some more Al Jarreau songs, among them the inevitable "Roof Garden", George Duke flipped the switch and launched the funk with "Reach For It", with his keyboard strapped around his neck, he walked out into the cheering crowd. This was a great concert that touched all different kinds of music provided by two classic artists.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:54 PM

Berks Jazz Fest 2011: Victor Wooten & Stanley Clarke

Saturday afternoon was a treat for all bass fans with the double show of the Victor Wooten Band, followed by the Stanley Clarke Band. Both bands are touring as a package. The shows were sold out and the capacity crowd was in for a treat.

Bassist Victor Wooten is one of the new bass heros on the scene and naturally, he was the center of the action during his show. With him, he had his brothers Regi Wooten on guitar and Joseph Wooten on keyboards (who toured with the Steve Miller Band for 18 years), backed by the amazing drummer Derico Watson. They provided a powerful show full of hard-hitting fusion and out-of-this-world bass playing, Victor Wooten showed a tremendous range of technique from slapping to tapping to whatever you can imagine that can be done with a bass. The other members of the band showed great skills as well, especially Regi on guitar showed a masterful tapping technique that reminded me of Stanley Jordan in parts. Another player that really stood out was drummer Derico Watson who not only could play some mean in the pocket funky grooves, but also provided some mind-boggling and complex drum solos. The band mostly played songs from their own catalog, among them the thought-provoking "I Saw God" from their current Palmystery CD, plus a jazzed and funked up version of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back". This was a really impressing concert for all fusion and bass lovers.

Next was Stanley Clarke, the now 60 years old bassist who started out in the early 70ies with Return To Forever and later went on with a successful solo career, being a living bass legend having legions of fans, me included - his music, among others, was responsible for igniting my love for jazz, so whenever I hear the sound of his instruments, it is like an old friend that is re-visiting me. He was accompanied by a band of young players, two keyboard players from Israel (Ruslan Sirota and Davy Nathan), Ronald Bruner, Jr on drums and Charles Artura on guitar. Stanley started on the acoustic bass and played a couple of great straight-ahead tracks in the RTF vein with some good solos by the band, before he picked up the electric bass for some more hard-hitting tracks. Then another acoustic part followed, before Victor Wooten was called to the stage to help bring down the house with Stanley's biggest hit "School Days". This was a excellent show on a high level which was musically satisfying.

After the show, both bass players visited Gerald Veasley's Bass Boot Camp where several workshops took place to instruct bass players of all levels, sharing some knowledge and experience with the aspiring bassists attending.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:11 PM

March 26, 2011

Berks Jazz Fest 2011: Richard Elliot & Norman Brown

The first major show for me was the concert by guitarist Norman Brown and saxophonist Richard Elliot who for the first time were co-headlining a show. I saw some familiar faces in the band like Ron Reinhardt and Gail Jhonson on keyboards and Dwight Sills on guitar, they seemed to have taken members of both bands to back the two main players. They kicked off the show with a smashing cover of EWFs "Getaway", before Richard Elliot took over to do the first half of the show, keeping the groove with "Rock Steady", "Move On Up" and others, then did his nod to Grover with "Inner City Blues". A Richard Elliot show would not be complete without "When A Man Loves A Woman" and - despite having played this song numerous times - did it in a totally convincing and heartfelt manner, bringing the house down. Another great part of the show was his version of "A Night In Tunisia" which was jazzy and swinging, providing a nice change of pace. He finished his part with Eddie Kendrick's "Keep On Truckin'" before Norman Brown took over, playing the title track from his newest CD Sending My Love, and the great uptempo latin song "Play Time" from the same album, before revisiting the After The Storm album - another must-have album. He performed Kenny Loggins' "Celebrate Me Home" as a reference to his daughter currently doing military service in Iraq. Another highlight was the part where he payed tribute to his main influences Jimi Hendrix, Wes Montgomery and - you guessed it - George Benson. The he did a P-funk style song, before Richard Elliot joined him for the finale. This was a great show by two consummate veteran artists of the scene.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:24 PM

Berks Jazz Fest 2011: Joey De Francesco

This year's Berks Jazz Fest started for me Friday evening at Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base in the Crowne Plaza hotel, the intimate jazz club hosting smaller concerts, with the first set by organist Joey De Francesco (he had a second one at 10pm). This well known Hammond B3 player was accompanied by his longtime band members Byron Landham on drums and the excellent Paul Bollenback on guitar who took us on a trip through the vast repertoire of the leader. As Joey De Francesco stated, the band doesn't have a set list, they know each other well enough to go through any song the leader feels playing without any rehearsals, so the whole concert is spontaneous and the result of the interaction between the artists and the audience, which I found a great concept. Apart from some classics, they played two songs from his latest release Never Can Say Goodbye: The Music of Michael Jackson ("Never Can Say Goodbye" and the title track), before they finished the show with a blues track. Each song involved longer improvisational parts and allowed each member of the band to shine, especially guitarist Paul Bollenback provided many inspired solos. This nice concert was a good start to the festivities.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:17 PM

March 22, 2011

Rod Kelley - Mama's Boy

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. The multi talented Rod Kelley never forgot what his mother told him, that he could be “anything he wanted to be”. It inspired him to make music, and years later, with Barack Obama elected to the United States Presidency, he is reminded that his mom's words were true.

Annie Ruth Wise Kelley loved the music of the day, the soul of Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Otis Redding and James Brown, music that propelled a whole generation of artists to a position in American society which, before the advent of popular music culture, could never have been possible. Indeed it is interesting to speculate how James Brown, if he had been alive to witness Obama’s inauguration, might have put his own musical spin on the new found feeling of ‘living in America’. With his latest CD, Mama’s Boy, Rod reflects all of this and in so doing includes music that he believes would have made his mother proud. Not only that, the recording pays generous tribute to her and sends out a beacon of inspiration to those who in their own lives have been held back through fear or doubt.

Rod has huge love and respect for what he describes as ‘the mother of lands,’ Africa, and of his ancestry as an African American. He opens Mama’s Boy with the languid, easy grooving ‘Moments’ that he co-writes with long time collaborator Todd Bethel. It shimmers with the African rhythms that he holds so dear and carries the message that we should savor every precious moment that life presents to us. This is a premise that Rod returns to often and underpins many of the beliefs that he formed while still a boy. Rod’s happily grooving and retro tinged ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’ leads snuggly into his cover of Michael McDonald’s ‘Taking It To the Streets’ which he not only infuses with a wonderful gospel warmth but also uses as a commentary on his formative years when growing up in the ‘Projects’ of Bowen Homes, Atlanta, GA. These were times when community spirit was everything and Rod still cherishes the recollection of hearing Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. speak during one of his many visits to the city.

Of course Dr King’s dream did come true and with ‘POTUS, the 44th’ , Kelley, with the help of an edgy rap from Joel “Profit” Kelley, tips a funky hat to Barrack Obama and the new hope he has given to millions.

The album’s central theme is spectacularly brought to mind by the spine tingling ‘Mothers Love’ where vocals from Tawana Lael work to perfection and Kelley further respects the memory of his late mother with the sumptuous ‘I See The Look In Your Eyes’ which, courtesy of his own velvety vocal, proves to be an authentic slice of nostalgia laden, old school soul.

Rod’s mother passed away when he was only ten years old. She was a gospel recording artist with the group Souls of Faith and Rod is certain that if she had lived she would have gone on to become the Queen of Soul. Consequently, it is no surprise that Kelley finds space for a song from the proclaimed Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. ‘Natural Woman’ is delivered with an understated swagger, the addition of fabulous sax from Karen Green plus the stunning backing vocals of Maria Kelley, Symone Kelley & Stewart Gardner which combine to make it feel brand new. In a way it sums up the groove of the entire collection and much the same can be said about the incredibly tight ‘Fat Chance’ which demonstrates that special knack Kelley has for playing contemporary urban jazz that can look back whilst remaining totally current.

Rod’s valve trombone driven ‘Sexy Bone (My Little Groove)’ serves as a short but extremely rhythmic transitional track and when it is reprised as ‘Tickle These (My Little Groove)’ his switch from trombone to keyboards represents how, over the years, his focus has changed from one instrument to the other. Both stand alone as mini masterpieces and as the album concludes with a great version of Quincy Jones’ ‘The Streetbeater’ (aka the theme from Sanford & Son) there can be no question, Rod’s Mama really would have loved it.

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 7:43 PM

March 15, 2011

Patrick Bradley - Under The Sun

Jazz fusion keyboardist Patrick Bradley taps a luminous cast for the spiritually-inspired Under the Sun

Talk about mixed emotions. That’s what jazz fusion artist Patrick Bradley will experience April 26th, when he celebrates his birthday by releasing his second album, Under the Sun. April 26th also marks the anniversary of his father’s passing. Bradley’s mother passed away eleven months to the day after his father. It was one heck of a year. But instead of sorrow, the keyboardist-songwriter turned to his faith when composing or co-writing eleven songs of hope, adventure and spiritual surrender for a record produced by seminal fusion keyboardist Jeff Lorber.

In addition to Bradley’s and Lorber’s high-level, tag team keyboard artistry, the musicianship on Under the Sun is equally stellar, thanks to the masterful performances of saxmen Dave Koz and Eric Marienthal, flugelhorn and trumpeter Rick Braun, guitarists Dwight Sills and Michael Thompson, bassists Alex Al and Nate Phillips, drummers Tony Moore and Dave Weckl, horn section work from David Mann, and the sultry voice of Irene B.

With the genesis of the collection coming from reading Ecclesiastes, Bradley harnessed a variety of influences and inspirations for Under the Sun, on which he played piano, keyboards, organ and Moog synthesizers. Bradley refers to the deep-pocketed “Straight Path,” the first track to be serviced to radio stations, as his “life verse” as it is about trusting the Lord for guidance. A lilting and joyous celebration of love with a cascading piano hook, “Into the Sunset” was written for his wife, Lisa. Koz and Irene B. add seductive elements to the R&B ballad “Just Let Go.” Bradley is a passionate road cyclist and he offers a taste of the adrenaline rush experienced while descending in a pack on “Slipstream,” which includes a lead-out from Braun’s horns. The unpredictability of life is the focus of “Time and Chance,” which delivers the message to live life to the fullest while being unafraid of taking chances. “Crows on the Lawn” swings. The poignant “Tears from the Sky” was written after his father’s passing and it’s an expansive, emotional piece both mournful and celebratory. “Rush Street” and the majestic “The Empress of Dalmatia” explode into aggressive progressive rock-jazz fusion jams ignited by Sills’ incendiary guitar pyrotechnics.

As for the album title, Bradley said, “The idea behind this record is to enjoy life and celebrate all it offers during the brief time we have under the sun. No matter what life dishes up, we should keep our dreams alive and pursue our passion, hopes and aspirations. The last few years have been challenging for all of us as we find ourselves in times of change and uncertainty. Seasons of change hit home for me personally when my parents passed away. I found myself in a period of reflection. These songs were written in times of joy, sorrow and triumph, yet with an eye on eternity. Life is speeding by. My hope is that we all will take the time to prioritize and tend to the important things and important people and relationships, and not just chase the mad pursuits of this life.”

A self-taught musician who started playing piano at age eight, Bradley’s musical endeavors have spanned jazz fusion, smooth jazz, gospel, rock, progressive rock, and classical. The Southern California native debuted in 2007 with Come Rain or Shine, an international seller that spawned the title track single, which peaked at #26 on the radio chart. Bradley is assembling a band to perform music from Under the Sun live in support of the album release. Outside of music, Bradley serves as a regional president of the Whole Foods Market southern pacific region. Further information is available at www.patrickbradley.net.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:54 AM

March 14, 2011

Smooth Jazz In The Cube 2011

World Premieret: First Smooth Jazz Festival in the mountains

  • CUBE Biberwier-Lermoos hosts SMOOTH JAZZ IN THE CUBE 2011
  • One whole weekend of smooth jazz: May 20-22, 2011
  • International smooth jazz stars at CUBE Biberwier-Lermoos
CUBE Biberwier-Lermoos becomes a concert venue when the first-ever Smooth Jazz Festival takes place from May 20-22, 2011 in the mountain world of Tyrol’s Zugspitz Arena. Already held in several German cities such as Augsburg and Munich, smooth entertainment founder Christian Bössner is taking his festival back to Austria this year. Music fans can look forward to seeing some of the biggest and most successful stars of the international contemporary and smooth jazz scene. On the programme of Smooth Jazz in the CUBE are two concerts each night Friday and Saturday held directly in the lounge of the design hotel. The first two days will feature individual concerts before the festival weekend ends on Sunday with the Smooth Jazz Allstars & Brunch – a final jam session that brings together all the artists from the weekend on stage one last time. The open loft-like architecture gives CUBE BIBERWIER-LERMOOS unique acoustics and, above all, makes it possible to see the stage from all floors of the hotel. The chill-out lounges on every floor make for a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. CUBE offers the perfect opportunity for dialogue and exchange between audiences and fans. This atmosphere, which allows the artists to mingle with the audience after their performance, is greatly appreciated by musicians and guests alike.

A passion for notes

Christian Bössner, founder of smooth entertainment GmbH, on the start of the cooperation with CUBE BIBERWIER-LERMOOS: “CUBE is a pioneer in the holiday hotels sector; we are pioneers with smooth jazz in Europe. Surely, we have a few things in common.” Smooth jazz is a subgenre of jazz defined by a stylish and harmonious sound and a real passion for notes. It is primarily an instrumental form of music combining elements of pop music and jazz, with a strong leaning towards the pop component. Also characteristic of smooth jazz is its incorporation of other genres such as urban jazz, R&B, lounge music, chill-out music and hip-hop. In the United States, smooth jazz has been extremely popular with audiences for 30 years. One reason is that, in the US, there are over 50 terrestrial (=received through a conventional aerial antenna) smooth jazz radio stations. In Europe, things still look quite different. “Most people are immediately excited by the music, but they often don’t know what exactly they are hearing,” the ambitious festival founder observes.

The first Smooth Jazz in the CUBE Festival will feature Nils, Brian Culbertson, Jackiem Joyner and Nick Colionne, who will thrill the international audience with their exceptional performances. Three of those four musicians are currently listed in the Billboard top 10 jazz single charts.

The stars of the smooth jazz stage

Munich native Nils is the only German ever to have landed a No. 1 hit in the US charts. The song remains so successful today that it was recently chosen the most-played smooth jazz song of the last decade. Brian Culbertson is another current super star of the genre and an artist whose fame reaches far beyond the borders of the US. Jackiem Joyner is the young talent among the artists at the Smooth Jazz in the CUBE Festival in Biberwier and has already landed two No. 1 hits in the Billboard single jazz charts. Nick Colionne is famous for his qualities as an entertainer – besides his own live performance on Saturday, he will host the popular jam session on Sunday (Smooth Jazz Allstars & Brunch).


Smooth Jazz in the CUBE – Get your tickets now!

“CUBE is community and entertainment, which is why, after our first talks with the organisers, it was no longer a question for us of why, but rather of when a first festival could take place,” explains CUBE Managing Director Jörg Preiss. For all smooth jazz fans, CUBE is offering a concert evening including accommodation starting from € 86 per person in a double room. More information about the tickets and package are available at the websites www.cube.smoothjazzfestival.de and www.cube-biberwier.at.

When not enjoying the concert weekend, the design hotel is the perfect home base for smooth jazz enthusiasts and fan groups: the spaciously laid-out hotel lobby with chill-out lounge, video wall, open fireplace and 24h bar is perfect for relaxing get-togethers. Later at night, the party gets going with hot DJ sounds in the CUBE Club.

About CUBE:

CUBE means unconventional architecture and urban design in the middle of the Alps, with a relaxed community feel and 24-hour entertainment. A varied programme of sports activities rounds off the innovative holiday concept – in addition to the classic varieties of sport, the offer also includes the latest fun sports for summer and winter. The CUBE Hotels at the destinations Nassfeld (Carinthia/AT), Biberwier (Tyrol/AT) and Savognin (Graubünden/CH) are the perfect home base for active, sporty, young-at-heart holidaymakers from around the world.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:17 PM

March 13, 2011

George Benson To Headline "Ultimate Weekend" Of Smooth Jazz At 2011 Seabreeze Jazz Festival April 13-17th

National "Top 10" Jazz Festival Returns to Pier Park In Panama City Beach

The sounds of contemporary jazz from top performers will again beckon jazz fans to return to the beautiful beaches of Northwest Florida as the 2011 Seabreeze Jazz Festival returns to Pier Park in Panama City Beach, FL. The event, now in its 13th year, is set for April 13th-17th with performances on stage at the Pier Park Amphitheater adjacent to the exciting Pier Park shopping and entertainment complex.

Named "Top 10 Jazz Festival in the USA" by Jazziz Magazine and recently nominated as "Best Jazz Festival" at the Oasis Smooth Jazz Awards, The Seabreeze Jazz Festival combines the top national smooth jazz artists with a full weekend of fun, sun, great beaches, and good times-- all on the west end of Panama City Beach. The event now attracts over 20,000 fans from the USA, Canada, and Europe for what many call "The Ultimate Weekend" in one non-stop performance-packed weekend of music. Hosted by WSBZ Midday Personality Miranda Wilson, fans will get a live taste of the programming that makes WSBZ-FM The Seabreeze one of the most unique radio stations on the Gulf Coast .

Artists to perform for 2011 include Grammy-Award winner George Benson, along with Boney James, Brian Culbertson, Norman Brown, Richard Elliot, Peter White, Candy Dulfer, Euge Groove, Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, Warren Hill, Jeff Golub, Mindi Abair, Eric Darius, Ken Ford, Cindy Bradley, Paul Taylor, Marion Meadows, Dotsero, Joey Sommerville, Marcus Anderson, Julian Vaughn, Nicholas Cole, Robert Harris, Roman Street, and Jones and Company. The Seabreeze Jazz Festival is unique in it's lineup of current top smooth jazz stars--all with recent or current Top 10 Contemporary Jazz hits on national radio.

Special events include a Smooth Jazz Dinner Cruise aboard The Lady Anderson dinner boat in Panama City on Wednesday, April 13th from 7-10pm with live entertainment from top saxman Eric Darius.

The festival kicks off on the main stage at Pier Park with "A Special Evening with George Benson and Boney James" set for Thursday, April 13th -- showcasing two of the top names in contemporary jazz. George Benson, a guitar legend and multi-Grammy winner, will be celebrating the 35th Anniversary of his landmark album Breezin during the event weekend plus showcasing selections from his latest release Songs and Stories. A free Meet and Greet/Mini Performance event at Borders Books with select festival artists is set for Friday, April 15th at 3pm at the store at Pier Park . And jazz fans will be able to "groove into the late night" after the main performances at the All-Star Jazz Jam After-Parties set for Friday and Saturday nights at Reggae J's at Pier Park hosted by Eric Darius.

Order by phone at 1-800-595-4849 or online at www.seabreezejazzfestival.net. Tickets are $80 for Single Day Events, $140 for a Weekend Pass , and $200 for a Four Day Pass which includes the show with George Benson and Boney James on Thursday, April 14th. Special limited VIP Tickets for "An Evening with George Benson and Boney James" are available for $150 each including VIP parking, VIP entrance, covered table seating near the stage, dinner catered with beer, wine, and soft drinks, and VIP restrooms. Special event tickets to the Smooth Jazz Dinner Cruise and After-Parties are available by phone or online only.

For more information, call 850-267-3279.

For full festival information including performance schedules and tickets, go online to www.seabreezejazzfestival.net.

Presented by WSBZ-FM Seabreeze 106.3 Smooth Jazz. Proceeds to benefit Music In the Schools for local high school band music scholarships, instrument purchases, and jazz band clinics.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 12:29 PM

March 10, 2011

What We're Listening To ** February 2011

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

Steve Cole, Moonlight (Artistry Music) (2011)

Dave Koz, Hello Tomorrow (Concord Jazz) (2010)

Ed Spargo, Too Much TV (Spice Rack Records) (2011)

Karen Briggs, Soulchestral Groove (CDBY Records) (2009)

Spyro Gyra, Spyro Gyra (AMHERST RECORDS) (1998)



P E T E R * B O E H I

Jimmy Haslip & Joe Vannelli - Night Fall (2010)
Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip teams up with keyboardist Joe Vannelli on this great fusion album, technically on the highest level with great musicianship and interesting compositions, one highlight is the vocal track "Deep Waters" featuring the outstanding vocal ensemble Perri. Top-notch music!

Nate Harasim - Rush (2011)
This is a beautiful, perfectly crafted smooth jazz album by keyboardist Nate Harasim featuring a bunch of great guest players, among them Darren Rahn and Steve Oliver, full of catchy melodies and groovy playing. Thumbs up!

Planet Zu - In The Light Of Day (2010)
This band is fronted by guitarist Dan Baraszu, funky grooves, fat hammond organ and catchy tracks keep your head bopping. Nice version of Santana's "Black Magic Woman". Good stuff!

Ed Spargo - Too Much TV (2011)
This excellent release by bassist Ed Spargo caught me by surprise, this one oozes quality from beginning to end and is one of the best releases of recent times. Cool grooves, keys, horns, always soulful. Very recommended!

Les Hooper Big Band - Look What They've Done (1974)
Les Hooper's big band project always have been funky, this early LP from 1974 delivers tight horn charts, burning solos and good compositions performed by a truly excellent big band. Definitely stood the test of time!


D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Picking Up The Pieces’ by Gianna from her album Something True. With a tasty ‘telephone’ intro this is a track which fits firmly into the category of ‘late lounge’ music. Not only that, it perfectly demonstrates why she is currently enjoying the kind of cult status unique to the British smooth soul and R & B market.

The title cut from Boney James’ soon to be released CD Contact. A new album release from sax-man Boney James is always a special event. The velvety horn driven radio single is replete with Boney’s hallmark playing and is sure to do well.

‘Awakening’, from Keiko Matsui’s brand new recording The Road. Much of the early buzz surrounding The Road has been all about the two tracks featuring Kirk Whalum. Both have already found a way to radio and although the lovely ‘Affirmation’ is a convergence of Matsui’s melodic magic and Whalum’s cool sax, it is ‘Awakening’ that stands apart as the collection’s outstanding track. As fine an example of her work as will be found anywhere this sparkling song is nothing short of incredible.

‘Heaven In Your Eyes’ by Elan Trotman from his forthcoming CD Love And Sax. Trotman calls upon bass player Alex Al, drummer Tony Moore and keyboard player Davy Nathan for this easy grooving number which also features a fine piano solo from the excellent Brian Simpson.

‘Island Of Love’, from Damien DelRusso’s debut album, Looking Through Rain. DelRusso is a piano tuner, musician and composer who also happens to be almost blind. 2010 saw him release Looking Through Rain which contains eleven all original compositions and from which a $1.00 of each sale will be donated to The Foundation For Fighting Blindness

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:12 PM

March 9, 2011

San Diego's Anthology To Host Stunning Smooth Jazz Showcase

From the wreckage of the failed Oasis Contemporary Jazz Awards, good things are beginning to flow. The special music showcase featuring the combined talents of Jarred, Greg Manning and Vincent Ingala has been switched from the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego to the wonderful Anthology on India Street where it will take place on Saturday March 12 from noon until 4-00 PM. Anthology is southern California?s preeminent music venue and, in addition to these three original artists, event organiser Bruce Nazarian tells me that guitarist Brad Rambur plus at least six more stars of smooth jazz are expected to perform.

This will not only be a spectacular show in a stunning setting but will also provide the perfect antidote to the disappointment of the failed Oasis promotion.

Surprises are definitely on the cards so with time running out go to http://TDG2010.eventbrite.com and reserve your place now. This is not a free event but with a donation of $20 you will receive a complementary copy of the brand new compilation CD The Digital Guy's Outstanding Tracks Of 2010.

The album is a compilation of the very best music played over the last twelve months on Bruce Nazarian's Digital Guy Radio Show and as well as featuring tracks from Manning, Ingala and Jaared, the collection includes tunes from, among others, Dave Koz. Part of the proceeds from the sale of every CD will go to benefit school music programs in the Californian cities of Glendale and Burbank. The underlying plan is to extend this support to other parts of the USA and The Digital Guy Foundation has been set up to help make this happen.

Posted by Denis Poole at 3:10 AM