May 28, 2012

What We're Listening To ** May 2012

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

Jeff Lorber Fusion, Galaxy (Heads Up) (2012)

Esperanza Spalding, Radio Music Society (Heads Up) (2012)

Brian Auger, Language Of The Heart (Ghostown Records) (2012)

Incognito, Surreal (Shanachie) (2012)

Hiroshima, Departure (Hiroshima) (2012)


P E T E R * B O E H I

Philadelphia International Records - The 40th Anniversary Box Set (2012)
Massive, 10 CD box set offering 175 handpicked tracks from this seminal label's catalog, lovingly compiled, packaged and delivered, the lavish booklet offers the complete PIR discography, plenty of images and additional information. A labor of love!

Brian Bromberg - In The Spirit Of Jobim (2012)
Master bassist Brian Bromberg tackles the catalog of Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim on acoustic and electric basses, the music is very jazzy and spirited with lots of great solos and nice orchestration. Another winner from Brian!

Roman Andren - Cabra Negra (2012)
Swedish keyboard player Roman Andren released this acoustic afro-cuban album in Japan. Innovative, jazzy and musical, this is a welcome change from your usual smooth jazz fodder. The music is accessible and easy on the ear, still it challenges your mind. Excellent stuff!

Chris Standring - Electric Wonderland (2012)
Another great release by guitarist Chris Standring who once again managed to come up with a smooth jazz album that is not generic, but original and varied. The music has a lot of substance, there is top-notch musicianship and a general upbeat atmosphere. Thumbs up!

Billy Mitchell - Blue City Jam (1984)
My nod to the past goes to this LP from keyboardist Billy Mitchell which was released on the Pausa label and features a bunch of catchy originals, among them "Good Feelin'" which is a classic of the genre. Memories!


D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Shelby St. Bridge’, the brand new single from guitarist and keyboard player Michael Vince. With a languid, easy grooving vibe that is entirely to die for this track is a fitting follow up to his excellent self-titled EP, which included two tracks produced by none other than Paul Brown.

‘Aint It Time’ by Incognito from the CD Surreal. Think Brass Construction then add a potently soulful vocal from Vanessa Haynes and what you have is this high-octane smoker. Haynes contributed to Incognito's 2010 release Transatlantic R.P.M and has previously worked with Van Morrison, Billy Ocean and Chaka Khan.

‘Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)’ by Bob Baldwin from his latest album Betcha By Golly Wow - The Songs Of Thom Bell. This wonderful cut features both Paul Brown and Russ Freeman on guitars while longtime Baldwin collaborator Ragan Whiteside makes her usual outstanding contribution on flute.

‘Happy Feelings’ by Jeff Bradshaw from the CD Bone Appetit. With guest appearances from the likes of Maysa, Brass Heaven and the fantastic Kindred The Family Soul, this is an album that is an absolute urban extravaganza. As if to underline the fact the first single to go to radio is this sumptuous re-imagining of the Maze blockbuster. Think the opening bars of Earth Wind & Fire’s ‘That’s The Way of The World’ then put yourself into a deliciously horn driven haze and you will just about get what ‘Happy Feelings’ is all about.

‘Lucky In Love’ by Pete Gitlin from his latest album Amplify. Phoenix based guitarist Pete Gitlin first came to my attention with the CD Full Circle and the Great Temptation and the follow up, Amplify, promises to be just as good. A case in the point is the velvety radio single, ‘Lucky In Love’ which includes input from regular collaborators Michael Broening and Mel Brown.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:33 AM

May 19, 2012

Gary Honor - Heads & Tales

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.

Gary Honor is a sax-star in the making and if the CD Heads & Tales is anything to go by that stardom is not too far away. It marks his debut on Trippin n Rhythm and includes one well-chosen cover plus twelve original compositions that Honor has written in collaboration with label-mate and producer Oli Silk. Make no mistake, Heads & Tales is the real smooth jazz deal and seems a lifetime away from 2004 when Honor journeyed from his native Australia to Fort Lauderdale for a vacation aboard the Warren Hill Smooth Jazz Cruise. Whilst on board Gary entered the cruise ‘star search’ which had been created to find smooth jazz talent from amongst the paying passengers and under the watching gaze of some of the finest musicians the genre has to offer, he duly won. After a spell in the United Kingdom (where he first hooked up with Silk) Honor progressed to work on a whole range of musical projects both in the USA and in Australia. Now with Heads & Tales he is all set to take his career to an exciting new level.

The album is quickly up and running with the zesty title cut that not only captures the innate feeling Honor has for silky smooth contemporary jazz but also demonstrates how he can get funky with the best of them. Talking of funky it doesn’t really get more so than with the big, brass driven ‘Don’t Push It’ or for that matter the equally high octane ‘Cor Blimey!’ for which it is inconceivable that cheeky English chap Oli Silk did not have an input into this extremely ‘London-centric’ title. ‘Chatswood Chase’ is another track where Gary has his foot firmly on the gas. It is embellished by a nice guitar solo from Mark Jaimes while in similar vein is ‘Rock The Jazzbah!’ where Jaimes again plays a part and something comparable to a disco beat makes the whole piece fizz.

When Honor switches to flute for the delightfully easy grooving ‘Southern Exposure’ the effect is akin to being wrapped in a warm comforting blanket and he stays with flute for ‘Dreamweaver’ that is bolstered by a multiplicity of world rhythms. ‘Way Back When’ reverberates to a big anthem like hook which serves as a delicious backdrop to Honor’s fine playing and although ‘Island Pearl’ finds him in romantic mood he quickly shifts gears for the hugely jazzy and percussive ‘Under The Influence’ where is a strong bass-line from Orefo Orakwue grabs the attention.

Oli Silk’s distinctive piano tones herald in the moody ‘Leave Tomorrow Behind’ which is right up there with the best Heads & Tales has to offer. In terms of personal favourites it is in the good company of the tremendously accessible and mid-tempo ‘Juan Step Ahead’ which complete with nice production touches from Silk has radio ready written all over it. It must have been a clear contender for the first track to be serviced to radio but instead that particular accolade goes to ‘Close To You’. Not to be confused with the Carpenters song of the same name this is in fact a swaggering reimagining of the Maxi Priest blockbuster and features vocals from both Briana Cowlishaw and Troy Anthony-Smith. As cover versions go this one is right up there and is one reason among many why Heads & Tales deserves close scrutiny.

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 4:25 PM

May 17, 2012

PLAYBOY JAZZ FESTIVAL ADDS THREE ARTISTS TO 2012 LINEUP

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

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PIANIST PATRICE RUSHEN, NEW ORLEANS’ BIG CHIEF MONK, AND LATIN JAZZ BANDLEADER LOUIE CRUZ BELTRAN WILL APPEAR SATURDAY AND SUNDAY, JUNE 16TH AND 17TH AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL

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Headliners include Ramsey Lewis, Robin Thicke, Ozomatli, Sheila E., Boney James and Christian McBride

The Playboy Jazz Festival has added three more acclaimed artists to its stellar 2012 lineup. Showcasing the full spectrum of jazz, the Festival will take place Saturday and Sunday, June 16th and 17th at the world famous Hollywood Bowl.

Joining the roster of Grammy-winning jazz greats and rising stars are multi Grammy-nominated R&B pianist/composer Patrice Rushen, New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian phenomenon Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, and Latin Jazz Bandleader Louie Cruz Beltran.

Rushen will perform on Sunday with Terri Lyne Carrington’s Grammy-winning Mosaic Project, along with other surprise guests from the CD. On Saturday, New Orleans vocalist/percussionist Big Chief Monk will play with The Soul Rebels, bringing the distinctive rhythms of the Mardi Gras Indians from the Crescent City to the Festival stage, and Beltran will appear with his contemporary salsa group, the Louie Cruz Beltran Latin Jazz Orchestra.

A classically trained pianist, Rushen is one of music’s most sought after artists, having performed or produced recordings for such legendary stars as Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Prince, Boys II Men, George Benson, and many more. Rushen was also the first woman to serve as Musical Director for the Grammy Awards, the Emmy Awards, and the NAACP Image Awards, and is also the only woman Musical Director/Composer for the People’s Choice Awards and HBO’s Comic Relief.

Known for his longtime collaborations with Big Chief Bo Dollis in The Wild Magnolias, Big Chief Monk (aka Monk Boudreaux) is the head of the Mardi Gras Indian tribe, the Gold Eagles. In recent years, he has toured and recorded with the Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars, a band featuring musicians Tab Benoit, Cyril Neville and Dr. John. He performs regularly in his hometown with John Lisi & Delta Funk and in 2010 appeared in Bury the Hatchet, a feature length documentary by Aaron Walker about the Mardi Gras Indian tradition.

Louie Cruz Beltran, leader of The Louie Cruz Beltran Latin Jazz Orchestra, has performed with such great artists as Tito Puente, Francisco Aquabella, Ray Baretto, Natalie Cole and Gladys Knight, among others. Beltran’s most recent album Paint the Rhythm, spent 12 weeks on the Media Base national smooth jazz charts, reaching #11; his single “Esperando” hit #4.

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Single day tickets are available through Ticketmaster. Patrons can purchase tickets online at www.ticketmaster.com, over the phone by calling (213) 365-3500 or (714) 740-7878, at any Ticketmaster outlet or by downloading a ticket order form at www.playboyjazzfestival.com. There is also a link to the Ticketmaster website on the Playboy Jazz Festival website. Tickets may also be purchased at the Hollywood Bowl Box Office.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 2:15 AM

May 6, 2012

International Jazz Day in New Orleans

By Ricky Richardson

Several hundred jazz aficionados got an early jolt to their day during the inaugural International Jazz Day in Congo Square, the birthplace of jazz in Louis Armstrong Park, located in historic Fauberg Treme.

The first annual International Jazz Day, April 30th was celebrated with an All-Star concert in New Orleans at sunrise and in New York at sunset.The International Jazz Day was celebrated by millions worldwide. International Jazz Day was presented by UNESCO in partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. International Jazz Day was created to celebrate and recognize jazz music as a universal language of freedom. International Jazz Day hope to encourage and highlight intercultural dialogue and understanding through jazz, America's contribution to the world of music. There is a popular saying "Jazz made in America; celebrated and enjoyed all over the world." It is also fitting that this inaugural event was held in a park name after Louis Armstrong who is and continues to be a worldwide Jazz Ambassador.

The early morning fog burned off as Luther Gray led a group of percussionist for a Ritual drumming as people arrived in the park. Freddi Williams Evans recited a poem Congo Square: African Americans in New Orleans. Harry Shearer served as Master of Ceremonies.

The Treme Brass Band with Dr. Michael White and Kermit Ruffins performed "Canal Street Blues" with a dash of "When the Saints Go Marching In." New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landreau and UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova delivered remarks in honor of the occassion. International Jazz Day will be celebrated every year on April 30th, the last day of Jazz Appreciation Month.

International Jazz Day is Herbie Hancock's first major program introduced as a Goodwill Ambassador. International Jazz Day was created to celebrate and recognize jazz music as a universal language of freedom. It is intended to unite communities all over the world to celebrate jazz; its roots, and its impact.

Herbie Hancock led a history-making performance of "Watermelon Man" at the International Jazz Day sunrise concert. Herbie Hancock performed with a talented group of students participating in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performing Arts High Schools Jazz Program. In a statement made by Herbie Hancock "It is a thrill and very gratifying to perform this morning with four talented young musicians-and to have thousands of students from all over the world join in the band. Wow - I believe this is a musical first."

Herbie Hancock on piano, Miles Berry - tenor saxophone, Glen Hall III - trumpet, Sarah Kuo - bass and drummer Michael L. Mitchell performed an original composition "Watermelon Man," celebrating its 50th Anniversary. "Watermelon Man" was also performed at the same time with students in Cape Town, South Africa; in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil; and in Paris, France live via satellite. For his next tune, Mr. Hancock was joined by Roland Guerin - bass, Terence Blanchard - trumpet, Dr. Michael White - clarinet, Bill Summers - percussions and Jeff "Tain" Watts on drums.The band played a rousing version of "Night in Tunisia" by Dizzy Gillespie.

Ellis Marsalis and and the previous group was featured for the next tune. Mr.Marsalis on piano, was joined by vocalist Stephanie Jordon for "On a Clear Day." Kermit Ruffins - trumpet and Dr. Michael White - clarinet rejoined the group for "On the Sunny Side of the Street" with vocals by Kermit Ruffins.

The Treme Brass Band closed out the show with a medley of songs on a celebratory note. A spontaneuos drum circle continued in the park throughout the morning.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:33 PM