What We're Listening To ** May 2014

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

Lori Williams, Eclipse Of The Soul (Pacific Coast Jazz) (2013)

Will Downing, Euphoria (Liaison Records) (2014)

Nathan East, Nathan East (Yamaha Entertainment) (2014)

Harvey Mason, Chameleon (Concord Records) (2014)

Incognito, Amplified Soul (Shanachie) (2014)


P E T E R * B O E H I

Harvey Mason - Chameleon (2014)
Drummer extraordinaire Harvey Mason at the age of 67 comes up with a standout album re-visiting tracks he did himself or collaborated on with other artists during his lengthy career. His band consists of a few of his old cohorts like Bill Summers on percussion plus a host of young, exciting players like the awesome Kamasi Washington on sax and Corey King on keyboards, who both are a breath of fresh air, while Jimmy Haslip plays the bass. The opening track, Grover Washington, Jr.'s "Black Frost" is mind-boggling, while the vocal "If I Ever Lose This Heaven" featuring singer Chris Turner breathes new life into this classic. "Mase's Theme" is another outstanding track, and Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon" reminds us of what classic jazz-funk this drummer was part of. The Japan release contains 3 additional bonus tracks, I downloaded my album 24/96 at HDtracks and e-Onkyo (for the Jap stuff). A musical milestone!

Nick Colionne - Influences (2014)
This new album by guitarist Nick Colionne is the bomb, in my opinion, it is the best release of his whole career. It is "all killer, no filler" with his Wes-inclinded guitar out front, delivering a batch of great compositions. His cover of "Born Again" - the Billy Preston & Syreeta Wright classic - is simply breathtaking with some great input by Maysa, showing the impeccable taste of the man when it comes to selecting and doing covers. The instrumentals are all slamming, fresh, exciting and have great melodies that stay in your head. This is music that makes you happy!

Chris Standring - Don't Talk, Dance! (2014)
Guitarist Chris Standring comes up with another groovy album slightly off the beaten track, delivering mostly danceable, uptempo tracks featuring his cool guitar. Thumbs up!

Daniel Stelter - Krikel Krakel (2012)
German guitarist Daniel Stelter is a recent discovery, I heard him live and was totally blown away by his unique playing that is funky and complex at the same time. His current release offers a bunch of tracks that are entertaining and accessible despite the fact that they are not the usual smooth jazz fodder we are used to, they merit some closer listening. Check him out!

George Benson - In Flight (1977)
My nod to the past goes to this album by George Benson which is one that helped ignite my love for jazz, the excitement when I heard "The World Is A Ghetto" as a teenager for the first time is indescribable, I haven't looked back ever since and the rest is history, as they say. This record is full of outstanding tracks, from "Nature Boy" to "Gonna Love You More" to "Everything Must Change" to "Valdez In The Country", one gem after the other. One of my "desert island" discs!


D E N I S * P O O L E

'Slammin' by Nick Colionne from his hot new CD 'Influences'.  With a flavor of the Luther Vandross hit 'Never Too Much' this one is tailor made for the sort of high-octane live performances for which Colionne is famous.

'Heard You Smile', by Southern Californian sax-man Brad Rambur.  As debut albums go Rambur's 'Can't Put It Down'  could hardly have been better.  Now, with an eye firmly on the follow-up, Brad is back with this tasty single.  With an effervescent vibe and some cool production it puts him right back where he left off, firmly on track for smooth jazz stardom.

'Be True 2 Who U R' by hip-hop producer turned sax-man Sam Rucker from his sophomore CD 'Tell You Something'.  Easy on the ear, radio-friendly and gushing with brass enriched old school sensibilities; this one is a real gem.

'Calling You', the lead single from guitarist Steve Oliver's new album titled 'Best Of So Far'.  Although ostensibly a 'best of' collection this fifteen-track set includes two brand new compositions and 'Calling You' is one of them.  It's a vibrant number that can accurately be described as classic Oliver.

'North Shore' by the Rippingtons from the forthcoming album 'Fountain Of Youth'.  Since the release of 'Moonlighting' in 1987, and with a reliability that is breathtaking, The Rippingtons have maintained a level of excellence that has kept them within the highest echelons of smooth jazz.  'Fountain Of Youth' looks all set to continue that success and is being previewed by this splendid radio single which, in common with much of what has gone before, is built around the fine playing of leader and guitarist Russ Freeman.