What We're Listening To ** July 2014

D E N I S * P O O L E

'Playa Blanca', by keyboard player and composer Paolo Rustichelli, from his CD 'Soul Italiana'.  When it comes to blending smooth jazz with chill and electronica then Rustichelli is the undisputed master.

'Givin' It Up' by sax stalwart Richard Elliot from his soon to be released CD 'Lip Service'.  Although it has almost become the norm to over hype every smooth jazz single that is ever released, this one really hits the spot.  It's an easy grooving charmer of the highest order that benefits from the production magic of Paul Brown plus a wonderful injection of horns from Jerry Hey and Lee Thornburg.

'Cruisin' Down The Road' by Greg Manning from the album 'Dance With You'.  Featuring superstar in the making Vincent Ingala, this one has the sort of vibe that is guaranteed to attract followers.  Check it out and be an early rider on the Greg Manning bandwagon.  It really is going to roll.

'Remind Me' by Ragan Whiteside from her latest CD 'Quantum Drive'.  With Whiteside sublime on flute and vocals, this exciting cover of Patrice Rushen's silky smooth gem is taken to new heights by a guest appearance by Rushen on keyboards.

'Love On Top' by Grammy-nominated guitarist Doc Powell from his latest project, 'This Is Soul'.  Produced by the award winning Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, 'This Is Soul' is a collection that brings together the heart and soul of some of the best music from the present and the past and is perfectly summed up by the first single 'Love On Top' that finds Powell breathing new instrumental life into this Beyonce classic.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Greg Manning - Dance With You (2014)
Swiss-American keyboardist Greg Manning delivers a truly great piece of music with his latest release, featuring not only his excellent keyboard playing that reminds me a lot of Ramsey Lewis, he has a good cast of sax players supporting him like Gianni Vancini, Elan Trotman, Vincent Ingala, Jimmy Reid and Mindi Abair, the music has an organic feel and runs the gamut from latin to jazz-funk, the production is top notch with EWF's Maurice White serving as executive producer. Very recommended!

Al Gomez - Casa Groove (2014)
Guitarist Al Gomez offers a beautiful, mostly laid-back and relaxed smooth jazz album that soothes your soul and lifts your spirits, with some great contributions by keyboardist Billy Townes. The heat is turned up with the TOP classic "What Is Hip" featuring Bobby Sparks and Tony Mac, while "Another Sad Love Song" featuring Kamil Bonner provides a nice vocal. I just love it!

Matt Marshak - Lifestyle (2014)
The amiable guitarist from NY comes up with another smashing album full of funky instrumental tracks, supported by a killer band. His own description sums it up perfectly: "Soulfully handcrafted jazz guitar set to an organic and funky R&B backdrop". Another winner!

Bennett B - Groove Time (2014)
This album featuring original compositions by guitarist Bennet B has been produced by Paul Brown, guest players include Ricky Lawson on drums and Greg Adams on flugelhorn. This groovy guitar led album goes down like honey wine. Thumbs up!

Cal Tjader - Hip Vibrations (1967)
Vibraphonist Cal Tjader belongs to the very few musicians that pleases me each time he touches his instrument, I feel right at home with his music, and this groovy session from the late 60ies is no exception. I located a good copy on vinyl and now am enjoying tracks like "Sweet Honeybee" and "Blues March", a Benny Golson composition. A timeless masterpiece!

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

Marcus Anderson, Style Meets Substance (CD Baby) (2014)

Dennis Chambers, Groove & More (Soul Trade Music Publishing Group) (2013)

Jeff Lorber, Chuck Loeb & Everette Harp, Jazz Funk Soul (Shanachie) (2014)

Dara Tucker, The Sun Season (Watchman Music) (2014)

Stephen Richards, The Gallery Sessions: Suite Movements Series 1 (Southern Dialect Music) (2014)