November 25, 2012

What We're Listening To ** November 2012

P E T E R * B O E H I

Daniel D. - Epic Sounds (2012)
Violinist Daniel Davis comes up with his latest album - funded via Kickstarter - and it is a winner. Representing a new generation of musicians, Daniel D. blends jazz, funk and hip-hop into an irresistible mix, featuring his great violin playing. A cover of Grover's "Mr. Magic" completes a well rounded package. Thumbs up!

Bill Withers - The Complete Sussex and Columbia Albums (2012)
People it has been time, but now we got those all those gems in a 9 CD box set. While some of those albums have been out on CD before, others now are available for the first time, like "Naked & Warm", "Making Music" and "Justments", which have been awaited for years and now are happily welcomed. Quality songs from beginning to end, a remarkable voice and words that have a lot of meaning. Essential stuff!

Elisabeth Mis - Breakaway (2012)
Saxophonist Elisabeth Mis delivers another slice of groovy smooth jazz with catchy melodies, great musicianship and production and her sax playing taking things to another level. Very recommended!

Matt Marshak - Colors Of Me (2012)
Guitarist Matt Marshak hails from NYC and his latest release is full of groovy tracks featuring the bluesy guitar playing of the leader - reminding me a bit of Jeff Golub - supported by a great band complete with hammond B3, delivering an organic sound. Excellent stuff!

Caldera - Sky Islands (1977)
My nod to the past goes to this seminal album by Caldera, a jazz-funk / fusion band making music that is at the same time groovy and complex, music for the body and soul, absolutely essential stuff I always love to come back to. Memories!

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘All I Wanna Do’ by Fourplay from the band’s hot new album Esprit De Four. This smoothly jazzy cut was co-written by Nathan East who also does a fine job on vocals. Very much akin to being wrapped in a warm comforting blanket this is contemporary jazz at its soothing best.

‘Into U’ by George Anderson from the CD Expressions. Think the Luther Vandross classic ‘I Wanted Your Love’; add the smoky vocals of Fil Straughan and what you have is a magnificent slice of very danceable R & B.

‘Call Me’ by Nils from his latest hit album City Groove. The epitome of west coast groove, this one is right up there with the best that this fine collection has to offer.

‘Smooth’ by Phoenix based keyboard player Cal Harris Jr. Without doubt one of the hottest singles of the year so far, not only is it replete with Cal’s rapidly emerging trademark sound but also includes a delicious interjection of sax from the highly regarded Elan Trotman.

‘On The Dance Floor’ by Ragan Whiteside from her latest CD, Evolve. Whiteside’s talents as a sublime flute player, a songwriter and vocalist know no bounds and this superbly soulful track goes some way in explaining why. It finds her in a glorious duet with Porter Carroll Jr and is a delight from beginning to end.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:35 PM

November 10, 2012

Carl Stanley - A Beautiful Thing

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.

Currently attracting some attention as part of Peter White’s UK tour, British born sax-man Carl Stanley has recently released his debut CD, the appropriately titled A Beautiful Thing. This ultra cool collection of twelve self penned contemporary jazz gems is right up there with the best releases of the year so far and, with guest performances from guitarist Dwight Sills, keyboard player Oli Silk and vocalist Gianna, is a superb example of how jazz can merge with R & B in the most delightful of ways.

Take for example the easy grooving title cut where Stanley’s seriously soulful playing really hits the spot. Its one of several tracks to feature the always excellent Sills on guitar and another is the velvety and deliciously melodic ‘You Make Me…La La’ that is right up there with the best that A Beautiful Thing has to offer.

Two numbers are included in both vocal and instrumental form with the first of these being the romantically inclined and heartfelt ‘Love’. On the vocal version Stanley, although handing over center stage to the sultry Gianna, still makes some sensational sax interventions that on the instrumental take are understandably developed in a way that totally captivates. The other song to be given this same dual treatment is ‘Hold Me Close’ for which Stanley’s performance on tenor sax makes comparisons with Kirk Whalum impossible not to make.

It again finds Gianna in splendid soulful form and it’s worth noting that Gianna (Welling) originates from Tulsa, Oklahoma but has made a musical name for herself in Houston Texas. Her CD Something True found an instant fit with the club culture of the United Kingdom where throughout 2009 it flirted with the top placings in the UK soul charts.

In terms of personal favorites the smoky ‘Secrets’ benefits from a fine keyboard solo by Oli Silk (who also mixes throughout) but all things considered the top tune is ‘The Way You Smile’. This mid tempo smoker shimmers with a totally compelling vibe and is a certainty to be one my top tracks for 2012.

Laced together by groove-drenched vignettes that Stanley titles ‘Introlude’, ‘Interlude’ and ‘Postlude’ respectively A Beautiful Thing is a worthy addition to this year’s crop of new music 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

Posted by Denis Poole at 5:47 PM