March 31, 2013

What We're Listening To ** March 2013

R O N A L D * J A C K S O N

J. Laroi, West End of the Sky, Soul Theory Entertainment

Mekiel Reuben, If You Were Here Tonight, MekMuse Records

Bluey, Leap of Faith, Shanachie Records

Phil Perry, Say Yes, Shanachie Records

Paul Hardcastle, VII, Trippin N Rhythm

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

Jeanette Harris, Summer Rain (J&M Records) (2013)

Monday Michiru, Don't Disturb This Groove (Grand Gallery) (2011)

Lee Ritenour, Rhythm Sessions (Concord Records) (2012)

Fourplay, Esprit De Four (Heads Up) (2012)

Thieme Schipper, Just A Breath Away (Thieme Records) (2012)

Airborne, New Single "Sunshower" from 25th Anniversary CD - Silver Skies ( Tilt Records) (2013)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Quasimode - Soul Delivery Live (2013)
This outstanding jazz quartet from Japan just released this stunning live album, the band is supported by three horn players, the music is all-acoustic but is cooking and grooving like hell, a vibrant and exciting album that will win them more fans all over the world. I just love this band!

Jeanette Harris - Summer Rain (2013)
This saxophonist belongs to the few female sax players that really can compete with the best, her latest release is a joy full of sensual playing, smooth grooves and catchy melodies. Thumbs up!

Thieme Schipper - Just A Breath Away (2013)
This young saxophonist from the Netherlands comes up with a very well done album that should please every smooth jazz lover. Check him out!

Daniel Domenge - Lost In My Thoughts (2013)
Another great release by French guitarist Daniel Domenge delivering his Wes guitar playing over contemporary grooves, perfect to chill out. Don't miss it!

Billy Mitchell - Blue City Jam (1984)
My nod to the past goes to this early album by pianist Billy Mitchell, the LP was released on the Pausa label and impressed me deeply in my youth, it has stood the test of time and I always love to come back to it.

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Speechless’ by vocalist Barbie Anaka from the CD of the same name. From the Pacific Northwest, and adept as a songwriter, pianist, producer, and music educator, Barbie has just released what is a very interesting recoding and this, the title cut, is proving to be something of a radio revelation. A stupendous groove coupled with some stellar backing marks out this seductive song is as the biggest surprise of the musical year so far.

‘Faith In The Middle’ by Monkey House from the album Headquarters. With splendid brass sections, and judicious use of male and female backing vocals, there is certainly enough here to appeal to a contemporary jazz audience. A case in point is this foot-tapping charmer where the addition of velvety horns really is the icing on a rather nice cake.

‘In The Flow’ by smooth jazz flautist Althea Rene from her brand new album of the same name. Produced by Michael Broening this up-tempo and zesty tune is just what those of us who have followed Althea’s career closely have come to expect.

‘One World’ by Canadian guitarist Rob Tardik from his latest recording, Limitless. Tardik certainly put down a marker with his recent album Balance Energy Laughter Love (aka BELL). If this infectious Latin infused track is anything to go by then he seems all set to do the same again.

‘I Will Love You (The Wedding Song)’ by the ultra smooth Andre Ward from his CD Caution. The first single from this excellent collection was ‘Marvin’s Medley’ which truth to tell is a hard act to follow. Built round snippets of Gaye’s 1976 smash ‘I Want You To Want Me’ this was far from your usual revamp of Marvin Gaye staples and with an arrangement that sizzled with an authentic Motown vibe it was a track that united fans of classic and smooth jazz in a coming together of mutual appreciation. Now this second single shows off a different side of Ward’s musical persona. It is built around the vocals of Jamie Knight and is produced by Rahni Song who also features on keyboards.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:13 AM

March 3, 2013

Marion Meadows - Whisper

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.

It was in 1990 that smooth jazz sax-man Marion Meadows made his debut with the critically acclaimed For Lover's Only and only two years later he was back with the wonderful Keep It Right. The fact it found him forging a soulful liaison with the likes of Will Downing, Bob Baldwin, Angela Bofill and Norman Connors is significant as it placed Meadows very much on the urban side of contemporary jazz. As he proceeded to amass a significant body of work this soulful connection has never been too far away and now, newly ensconced on the Shanachie label, he is all set to further progress his musical journey with Whisper that will be released February 26, 2013. Featuring twelve choice tracks, of which the majority are originals, Meadows weaves a fine thread of soul and fire, intellect and emotion, sensitivity and power. The result is a delight and sure to cement Meadows’s place in the very highest echelons of smooth jazz.

Whisper is Meadows’ first new recording in four years and it opens in fine style with the hugely rhythmic driven ‘The Visitor’ which sublimely segues into the atmospheric title cut. It was co-written by ‘in demand’ keyboard player and producer Michael Broening while other production talents involved in the project include Carlos Pennisi, Bob Baldwin and Rahni Song.

The collection’s first single is the smoothly supercharged ‘Black Pearl’ where writing credits are shared with Pennisi and elsewhere ‘Timeless’ proves to be a tender ballad in the best traditions of the art form. The tune was written in partnership with Rahni Song who also lends a hand on keyboards and when Meadows ratchets up the urgency with ‘Curves’ he not only delivers a dance floor filler of the highest order but also provides a real personal favorite.

Equally scorching is the James Brown inspired ‘Wild Thing’ and although ‘Magic Life’ and ‘Golden Curtain’ (with fabulous flute from Althea Rene) are both wonderful examples of textbook smooth jazz, it is when Meadows takes a nostalgic look back that things become really interesting.

His version of Freddie Hubbard’s classic ‘Sky Dive’ is added to in no small measure by the cool trumpet of Joey Sommerville and another superb reimagining comes in the form of the Dave Grusin number ‘Marcosinho’ which can be found on the 1980 CD from Dave Valentin, The Hawk.

Later, the always-immaculate Bob Baldwin teams with Meadows to create, what are arguably, some of the finest moments that Whisper has to offer. The seductive melody of ‘Turn Up The Quiet’ represents the perfect vehicle for a memorable ‘Meadows – Baldwin’ double act and when long time Baldwin collaborator and flautist Ragan Whiteside joins them for the jazzy yet easy grooving ‘Bottoms Up’ the outcome is even better.

Whisper is Meadow’s twelfth album release 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 4:55 PM

March 1, 2013

35th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival Line-Up Announced

By Ricky Richardson

The spotlight continues to shine brightly over Hollywood. This is due to the contigent of international media corp who gathered at the Playboy Mansion, Thursday, February 28, 2013 for the Playboy Jazz Festival Press Conference.

The Press Conference was held on a beautiful, picture perfect, sunny Southern California day. The talented Los Angeles High School for the Arts Jazz Combo under the direction of Dan Castro entertained the crowd arriving to mingle on the serene, well kept lawn of the Playboy Mansion. The Jazz Combo featured Heather Rivas - piano, Sarah Kuo - bass, Adrian Cota - drums, Aaron Shaw - saxophones, Kalia Vandever - trombone, and Luca Ferrera on guitar. They provided the perfect soundtrack for the Press Conference on the tunes "Yardbird," "Birdlike," "Confirmation," "Like Someone in Love," and "I Hear a Rhapsody" to the delight of the attentive crowd.

Commemorating 35 years of extraordinary performances, captivating music and magical moments, Playboy will again present a stellar line-up of talent for the 35th Anniversary Jazz Festival, Saturday, June 15th and Sunday, June 16th, at the renowned Hollywood Bowl.

The line-up features a diverse mix of illustrious jazz greats, next generation leaders and festival favorites, the two-day concert will spotlight the entire genre of jazz with an assortment of world premieres, rare collaborations and highly anticipated artist debuts.

New to this year's festival is the multi-talented entertainer George Lopez, who will make his own debut as the new master of ceremonies, taking over this year from the legendary Bill Cosby, who relinquished the role last summer after more than 30 years.

35th Anniversrary Playboy Jazz Festival Artist Line-Up
Presented in cooperation with the L.A. Philharmonic Association

Saturday,June 15,2013,-3:00P.M.-11:00P.M
(Artist line-up subject to change)

George Duke with special guest Jeffrey Osborne
Naturally 7 with special guest Herbie Hancock
Angelique Kidjo with special guest Hugh Masekela
Ole Coltrane featuring Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Band with special guest James Carter
Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band with special guest Lee Ritenour
Gregory Porter
Robert Glasper Experiment
Grace Kelly Quintet with special guest Phil Woods
Pedrito Martinez Group featuring Ariacne Trujillo
Los Angeles County High School for the Arts Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Jason Goldman

Sunday,June 16,2013-3:00P.M.-10:30P.M
(Artist line-up subject to change)

Sheila E
Bob James/David Sanborn featuring Steve Gadd and James Genus
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra celebrating Quincy Jones' 80th Birthday with special guest Patti Austin and Hubert Laws
Taj Mahal and the Real Thing Tuba Band
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Brubeck Brothers Quartet - A Dave Brubeck Tribute
Elew and JazzAntiqua Dance Ensemble, Pat Taylor, Artistic Director - A World Premiere Collaboration
The LAUSD Beyond the Bell Jazz Band, under the direction of Tony White and J.B.Dyas

George Lopez will serve as Master of Ceremonies. Darlene Chan, President of Festival West Inc., is the Producer of the Playboy Jazz Festival for the 35th consecutive year. Hugh Hefner is Executive Producer and Richard Rosenzweig is President Emeritus of the Playboy Jazz Festivals.

Single day tickets will be available through Ticketmaster starting Thursday, February 28th at 6:00PM. Patrons can purchase tickets online at, over the phone by calling (213)365-3500 or (714)740-7878, at any Ticketmaster outlet or by downloading a ticket order form available at 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 beginning in early May, exact date to be announced.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:43 AM