P E T E R * B O E H I
Rocco Ventrella - Another Time (2015)
Saxophonist Rocco Ventrella hails from Bari, Italy and delivers a beautiful smooth jazz album with his latest and - in my opinion - best album, it was produced by keyboardist Greg Manning and recorded in California. Rocco is backed by a killer band and has vocalists Kenya Hathaway and Ilaria De Robertis guesting, both providing some truly heartfelt singing on the album's only two vocals. Rocco's sax and soulful playing shine throughout. Very recommended!
Nils Gessinger - Jam It Up! (2003)
I just discovered this German keyboard player recently, he has 5 albums out - two of them even on GRP Records - that feature some top-drawer US players. On this release, he has artists like Dave Weckl on drums, Peter Weniger on sax and Joe Gallardo on trombone guesting. The material ranges from TOP influenced jazz-funk tracks with a big horn section to nice smooth jazz instrumentals like "Cozumel", delivering a solid mix of jazz based, funky music crossing many musical borders. Thumbs up!
B3 - Back To My Roots (2014)
This album is a great discovery, it is a funk-jazz fest of the highest order provided by a band around hammond B3 and keyboard player Andreas Hommelsheim. The musician is located in Berlin, Germany and usually works in the movie industry, on this CD, he delivers a great funky mix of music with his fellow players Christian Krauss on bass and Lutz Halfter on drums, plus a host of guests adding lots of nice solos. All killer, no filler!
Jessy J - My One And Only One (2015)
Saxophonist Jessy J delivers her best album to date, this artist has matured well over the years and together with producer Paul Brown - who also add lots of nice guitar playing to the album - Jessy J provides pure smooth jazz bliss. Her warm, sultry saxophone sound is perfectly complemented by the stellar band, the songs range from laid back to funky and are always up to the point. Her cover of Adele's "Lovesong" is killing me. Simply outstanding!
Mikio Masuda - Silver Shadow (1980)
My nod to the past goes to this album by Japanese keyboarder Mikio Masuda, one of the few that is still available on LP only. Supported by a great band of Japanese players, he offers a nice set of groovy fusion and smooth jazz tracks, the opening track reminds me a lot of Neil Larsen's "Sudden Samba". Quality stuff from beginning to end!
D E N I S * P O O L E
'Pocket Full Of Funk' by saxophonist Paula Atherton from her latest CD Ear Candy. The title of this one just about says it all and is the kind of high octane number with which Paula has made her name.
'Point Of Departure' by Nelson Rangell from the album Red. After way too long Nelson is back with not one but two new recordings. The first is Red which features dynamic and heartfelt sax driven songs while Blue is filled with beautiful melodies and phenomenal performances on flute. The first single from Red is 'Point Of Departure' which proves (if proof was actually needed) that Rangel has lost none of his musical magic.
'Sky Watcher' by Brian Simpson from his new CD Out Of A Dream. With ten all original numbers plus some outstanding guest performances, this is an early contender for best smooth jazz recording of 2015. As for top tracks look no further than the groove drenched 'Sky Watcher'. Co-written by Simpson and Ryan Farish it is already tearing up the charts of most played on smooth jazz radio.
'Boss' by smooth Jazz saxophonist Jazmin Ghent from her debut album Boss that just has been released. Jazmin boarded the Smooth Jazz Cruise in 2014 as a paying customer and left as a star in the making. By winning the star search 'Opening Act' she not only came to the attention of some of the biggest names in the genre but also demonstrated a talent that is agile enough to connect with a whole range of jazz styles from smooth all the way to 'straight ahead'. This edgy mid tempo cut promises much and is well worth a listen.
'I Can't Tell You Why' by DW3 from the CD Vintage Truth. This Paul Brown produced gem is DW3's take on the Eagles classic and might already be the best cover version of 2015.
J E F F * D A N I E L S
Tokyo Skinny Boys, Tokyonow! - Alto Sax Version (555405 Records DK) (2014)
Dr. Dave, Carefree (Hatherill Records) (2015)
F. Gregory Holland, Soul Of Her Love (CDBaby.com) (2015)
Keith Andrew, Adventurous Soul (Keith Andrew) (2015)