June 30, 2012

What We're Listening To ** June 2012

P E T E R * B O E H I

Ron Reinhardt - From The Shadows (2011)
Keyboardist Ron Reinhardt tours with "Guitars & Saxes" and "R'n'R" among other A-list players, on this CD he steps into the spotlight and delivers a great, funky and very entertaining album, that not only features him on various keys, but also some top-notch guest artists. Very recommended!

Max Valldeneu - It's About Love (2011)
This is a great guitar player that reminds me a lot of Norman Brown, this album offers a bunch of funky instrumentals, some originals, some covers, yielding a very satisfying CD. Don't miss it!

Dreaming In Colour - The Dream Merchant (2012)
This is a top-notch smooth jazz album featuring players like Jeff Lorber, Eric Marienthal, Nelson Rangell and Tim Pascoal, so you know that the level of musicianship is excellent. Thumbs up!

Igor Gerzina - Metropolis (2012)
This saxophonist hailing from Kroatia released a beautiful smooth jazz CD, the songs are catchy, the playing is soulful and the production is on the highest level. A gem!

Casiopea - Casiopea (1979)
My nod to the past goes Japanese fusion band Casiopea, this is one of their early releases and features the Brecker Brothers and David Sanborn. Always worth to come back to!

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

Grover Washington Jr. Tribute Band, Live At Godor 2011

Scott Grimaldi, Color of Midnight (CD Baby) (2011)

Raphael Wressnig & Alex Schultz, Soul Gift (Peppercake (ZYX) (2012)

Philadelphia International Records: The 40th Anniversary Box Set, (Harmless) (2012)

Jazz For Japan, (Indie Europe/Zoom) (2012)

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Close To You’ by saxophonist Gary Honor from his current CD Heads n Tails. Not to be confused with the Carpenters song of the same time this is in fact an ultra smooth cover of the Maxi Priest hit which on the album can be found both in vocal and instrumental form.

‘Hey Girl’, the new single by sax-man Rick Parma. Since 2009, when he relocated to LA from his native Chicago, Parma has become a regular presence on the west coast live music scene. The extremely easy grooving ‘Hey Girl’ is an absolute delight and the single also includes his own vocal take of the same song.

‘I Aint Doin It’ by Pete Belasco from the album Lights On. Taking it back to soulsville and then some, this wonderful track proves to be where lounge music meets chill in the most sensational of ways.

‘Kei’s Song Redux’ by David Benoit from his latest release Conversations. Akin to being wrapped in a warm comforting blanket, the melodic magic of this breath-taking tune has all the hallmarks of being a modern day classic in the making.

‘One’, the title cut from the brand new project from those masters of harmony, Take 6. Celebrating twenty-five years in the business in the best possible way, the soulful ‘One’ is an absolute gem.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:10 PM

June 17, 2012

Gerald Albright & Norman Brown - 24/7

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. Friends for three decades and now recording partners, smooth jazz superstars Gerald Albright and Norman Brown are all set to release their first ever album together. Titled 24/7, this fine ten-track recording draws on their collective jazz sensibilities in a way that is little short of sublime and with almost fifty years of recording experience between them, there is little doubt that these two fine players sit loftily at the very peak of their respective careers. In fact Albright’s resume reaches all the way back to 1987 and the CD Just Between Us while Brown, by way of a massive coincidence, made his debut in 1992 with a project that, remarkably, was also named Just Between Us. Despite all of that it seems certain that for both of them, 24/7 will bring a future that is every bit as good as their illustrious past.

24/7 is a wonderful slice of ultra accessible smooth jazz which with ‘In The Moment’ starts exactly the way it intends to go on. One of seven originals written or co-written by either Albright or Brown it has the sort of feel good vibe that typifies much of what the genre should all be about while elsewhere the vibrant ‘Buenos Amigos’ is the place where Latin meets funk in the most delightful of ways.

‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ was written by Brown in collaboration with up-coming sax player Jeanette Harris. It has an easy grooving retro tinged vibe that checks every box imaginable and another of Brown’s tunes, ‘Perfect Love’, is replete with the fluid playing style that he has made entirely his own and comes complete with dreamy backing vocals from Rochella Brown and Demille Cole-Heard. Rochella is Brown’s daughter and Demille his godson so its no surprise that with the silky smooth title cut Albright also makes it something of a family affair. Not only does he come up big on alto sax, flute, bass and percussion but in addition puts the song’s sumptuous vocals into the capable hands of daughter Selina Albright. This is a track that can be best summed up as six plus minutes of unadulterated smooth jazz joy and when Selina returns to sing background vocals for the brilliant ‘Champagne Life, Brown and Albright make this outstanding Ne-Yo song feel brand new. In fact the inclusion of the song was Albright’s idea. He thought it would work particularly well for the duo’s live summer concert dates but in the event it stands out amongst the finest that 24/7 has to offer.

Written by Brown’s long-term production partner Herman Jackson, ‘Keep It Moving’ is another feisty tune that showcases to perfection the chemistry that Albright and Brown have going on and, although the hip swinging, mid tempo ‘Yes I Can’ has the sort of edgy quality that is sure to play well with a live audience, a mellow cover of the Brothers Johnson 1976 hit ‘Tomorrow’ proves to be a highlight of a CD crammed full of them.

With strings courtesy of everyone’s favorite contemporary jazz violinist Mark Cargill, 24/7 is brought to a thoughtful yet emotional end by the velvety Albright composition ‘Power Of Your Smile’. Again the combined artistry of Albright and Brown is immense and like all great albums leaves the listener yearning for more.

24/7 will hit the streets on June 19 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 5:12 PM