August 5, 2010

Euge Groove - Groove On This!

GrooveEugeBIG.jpgSmooth jazz saxophonist Euge Groove has something different planned for his next CD. Now, many artists say their next project is different, but Groove's certainly is.

On Aug. 31, Groove will debut a new, interactive CD titled Groove On This! The CD works inside the Beamz interactive software. A YouTube video explains a bit about how it works.

"The cool thing," says Groove, "is you can interact with my songs from either the laser beam controller, a midi keyboard, or directly for the keys on your computer. It's for anyone to mess with even if they know nothing about playing a musical instrument. I re-recorded new versions of 10 of my most popular songs and spent the last eight months getting it all to work inside the Beamz software."

Groove is justifiably proud of his upcoming CD. "It's a pretty bitchin' project," he says. "It truly is a blast to play with. I'll have video tutorials for each song up on my eugegroove.com/beamz site when it launches at month's end. In the meantime, the disc also comes with some brief video content from me explaining how to use it as well as mp3 versions of the 10 songs for people to reference to."

Groove on This track list

1. Chillaxin
2. Slam Dunk
3. XXL
4. Vinyl
5. Born 2 Groove
6. Geez Spot
7. Babylon
8. Rewind
9. As You Like It
10. From the TOP

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:55 AM

July 2, 2010

Dave Koz's Bandleader Gig Ends

It looks like Dave Koz's gig as a bandleader is over.

In April, the saxophonist debuted as the bandleader on the new Emeril Lagasse Show, the first original non-scripted series on the ION television network. His all-star band included keyboardist Philippe Saisse, guitarist Jeff Golub, drummer Skoota Warner and bassist Conrad Korsch.

Koz composed and recorded the theme song for show, and “Emeril’s Theme” marked the second television theme song penned by Koz – his “Faces of the Heart” was used as ABC’s General Hospital theme. It was Koz’s second stint as a bandleader, as he appeared in a similar role early in his career with late-night TV host Arsenio Hall.

All indications point to the fact that the Emeril Lagasse Show will not be returning, and Koz acknowledged as much in a recent interview. Lagasse has signed on to create and host a daytime game show, A Taste of Emeril's: Cooking Challenge, for CBS. He’s also begins hosting the new show, Fresh Food Fast, on The Cooking Channel this month.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 9:29 PM

August 3, 2009

Get George Benson's Hit Single For Free

Singer, composer and guitarist George Benson is now offering a free download of the first smooth jazz hit single from his upcoming CD Songs and Stories. “Living in High Definition,” an original song written by Lamont Dozier, includes Benson’s guitar and scatting. In addition, there’s Greg Phillinganes on piano, Marcus Miller on bass, vibes and string production, and John Robinson on drums.

To get the song, go to georgebenson.com. To access the download, you must first sign up to receive Benson’s newsletters. Songs and Stories will be released on Aug. 25.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 9:09 PM

July 14, 2009

JAZZTIMES FINDS A BUYER, WILL RESUME PUBLICATION

JazzTimes magazine, one of the world’s leading jazz publications, has found a buyer and will resume publication. Early last month, JazzTimes temporarily suspended publication of the magazine and furloughed the bulk of its staff while it finalized a sale of its assets. Now, the JazzTimes brand has been purchased by Madavor Media, a publishing group based in Boston. Madavor specializes in niche and enthusiast publications. “We are very optimistic for the magazine’s long-term future given the resources and vision of Madavor and its staff,” says JazzTimes editor Lee Mergner.

The magazine’s office in Silver Spring, Md., will not be reopened. The majority of operations will be run out of Madavor’s offices in Boston; the majority of the staff that was furloughed during the hiatus will no longer be with the publication. Mergner and managing editor Evan Haga have been retained to oversee the editorial direction.

The magazine’s June issue, which was not printed, will more than likely be published as the August issue, Mergner says.

JazzTimes was founded in 1970 as Radio Free Jazz by Ira Sabin. Its named was changed to JazzTimes in 1980 and today has a circulation of more than 100,000. In addition to traditional or mainstream jazz, it also publishes stories and reviews on smooth jazz artists.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:55 PM

July 13, 2009

Kenny G Donates Sax To Event Benefiting Pro Golfer

Kenny G is doing what he can to support a professional golfer whose life was tragically altered on Father’s Day. Golfer Chris Smith’s wife Beth, who was 42, was killed in an automobile accident in Indiana that also critically injured the couple's children, 16-year-old Abigail and 12-year-old Cameron. A benefit to support Smith will be held August 7th at the Legends of Indiana Golf Course in Franklin, Indiana.

Kenny, an avid golfer who has played with the pros at several Pro-Am tournaments, is one of the many celebrities donating items for auction.   He is giving a signed saxophone. Among others pledging items are golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and country music singer Kenny Chesney.

Beth Smith's funeral service will be held tomorrow (July 14th) in Peru, Indiana. To make a contribution, you can go to legendsofindiana.com. Smith, who has won five times on the Nationwide Tour and once on the PGA Tour, plans to skip the remainder of the 2009 season to be home with his children, who face extensive rehabilitation.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:35 AM

July 7, 2009

Coming Up: George Benson's Songs and Stories

Singer, composer and guitarist George Benson has just finished a new album called Songs and Stories. It will be his follow-up to his 2006 Grammy Award-winning duets CD with Al Jarreau, Givin' It Up, and his first solo CD since 2004’s Irreplaceable.

The CD, to be released by Concord Records on Aug. 25, is co-produced by bassist Marcus Miller. Songs and Stories is a collection of tunes penned by some of the most prolific and enduring songwriters of the last half-century. Some were written specifically for this new recording, such as Bill Withers’s "A Telephone Call Away," Rod Temperton’s "Family Reunion" and Lamont Dozier’s "Living in High Definition," which features guitarist Norman Brown. Others, including James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," Donny Hathaway's "Someday We'll All Be Free" and Christopher Cross's "Sailing," were hand-picked by Benson for their ability to convey simple but universal truths about the human experience.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 11:39 PM

June 5, 2009

Dave Koz, Capitol Part Ways; Signs With Concord

Smooth jazz saxophonist Dave Koz and the legendary Capitol Records have ended their almost 20-year partnership as Koz has been signed by the Concord Music Group. The label is expected to release a new CD by Koz later this year.

It was back in 1990 that Koz released his self-titled debut on Capitol, and followed that in the 1990s with Lucky Man, Off the Beaten Path, December Makes Me Feel This Way and The Dance. This decade has seen Saxophonic, At the Movies, Memories of a Winter’s Night and Greatest Hits. The latter CD features the current Top 5 single “Bada Bing.”

In 2002, Koz co-founded Rendezvous Entertainment, where he released music by other artists but not his own. Last year, Rendezvous was sold to Mack Avenue Records. Koz joins an impressive list of artists at Concord, including Boney James, Kenny G and Vanessa Williams. Concord also releases smooth jazz music through its Peak and Heads Up labels.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:58 PM

June 4, 2009

Peter White’s ‘Good Day’ Has All New Tracks, One Song With Basia

Popular smooth jazz guitarist Peter White has finished a brand-new CD titled Good Day that features all-new original songs. The CD is his follow-up to 2006’s Playin’ Favorites, which boasted two #1 Smooth Jazz singles, “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” and “Mister Magic,” which combined spent 24 weeks at the top of the charts.

Produced by White, DC and Philippe Saisse, the guitarist says that seven of the CD’s 10 songs sprang from ideas that he has accumulated over the past 10 to 15 years. Those songs include “Always, Forever,” “Temptation,” “Mission 2 Mars” and “Bright,” the latter dedicated to the late Wayman Tisdale.

Other songs include the title track by Michael Egizi, who also co-wrote Peter’s smooth jazz hit “Turn It Out”; “(UN) Forgiven,” based on a musical idea by David Kochanski and DC; and “Love Will Find You,” recorded around a pre-existing track by White's brother, Danny White, and featuring new vocals by Basia.

Says White: "My last CD, ‘Playing Favorites,’ was all cover songs. So I won’t be doing any more cover songs for quite awhile, I think. But I’m been working on a new album, and I brought in Philippe Saisse, who I think is a genius. And he’s really kicked it up quite a few levels. I think the world doesn’t want another mediocre smooth jazz album. I have a feeling it might be my best album ever. That’s all I can say. I mean, I’ve really taken my time with it and I’ve been drawing on material that I’ve had over the last 10 years that I’ve stockpiled to put the album together."

Good Day track listing

Good Day (White/Egizi) – 5:55
Always, Forever (White/DC) – 5:08
Just Give Me a Chance (White) – 4:39
Love Will Find You (White/White/Basia) – 3:16
(Un)Forgiven (Kochanski/White) – 5:18
Temptation (White) – 6:18
Mission 2 Mars (White) – 5:46
Bright (White) – 4:13
Lamont’s Lament – Ramon’s Revenge (White) – 6:56
Say Goodnight (White) – 3:38

Posted by Brian Soergel at 9:17 PM

June 3, 2009

Trumpeter Offers Free Download Of Hit Single

Trippin N Rhythm, the U.K. based Smooth Jazz label that releases CDs by Paul Hardcastle, Gregg Karukas, Oli Silk and others, has signed American trumpeter Cindy Bradley and will release her major-label debut CD at the end of the month. The CD, titled Bloom, features the smooth jazz hit single of the same name.

To promote the CD and single, the label is now offering “Bloom” as a free download. To get the single, go to trippinrecords.com. Bradley’s CD, due in stores June 23, includes nine other original songs written and composed by Bradley and Michael Broening.   Guests include Marion Meadows, Tim Bowman, Jaared and Jay Soto.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 10:18 PM

May 15, 2009

Wayman Tisdale Passes Away

Smooth Jazz Bassist Wayman Tisdale has died at the age of 44.   Wayman passed away today (May 15) after a long battle with cancer. In early 2007, doctors discovered a cancerous growth in his right knee and he underwent chemotherapy. In August of 2008, Wayman had the lower part of his right leg amputated. Our sincere condolences go out to Wayman’s family – his wife Regina and his four children – Danielle, Tiffany, Wayman Jr., and Gabriel.

Picture taken March 29, 2009 at the Berks Jazz Festival.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:48 PM

May 13, 2009

London Goes Bonkers For Smooth Jazz

Don't tell people in London that smooth jazz is on the skids.

Dave Koz, Nick Colionne and Brian Simpson have just returned from a triumphant multi-night gig at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in London. Colionne's manager, Carol Ray, says that all six shows sold out, people were being turned away at the door, and there were standing ovations aplenty. In addition, all three artists sold out of the CDs they brought. Needless to say, the club was ecstatic over the shows and the standing-room-only crowds.

"I wish we could have you all here forever," said club manager Soufiane Maadad. "The music was great, you were all great. Looking forward to having you again."

Adds Ray: "My head is still in London; the warmth of that city and the audiences every night was overwhelming. They literally roared at the beginning of the shows during the introductions, not just applauding politely. They really set the tone and Nick, Dave and Brian responded with the most unbelievable shows."

The backing band was Frank Felix on bass and Tony Mason on drums. Both are Londoners. Felix was formerly with Acoustic Alchemy and Mason with Incognito.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:31 AM

May 11, 2009

Norah Jones To Star In Upcoming Indie Film

Grammy Award-winning vocalist Norah Jones, who made her motion picture starring debut in My Blueberry Nights, will star in her second motion picture this summer. Jones has a role in a film titled Wah Do Dem (What They Do), which stars fellow musician and New Yorker Sean Bones. Bones, whose real name is Sean Sullivan, plays reggae music and will release a CD this summer that has an appearance by Norah.

Wah Do Dem is set in Jamaica and features Bones on his solitary odyssey after his girlfriend, played by Norah, dumps him days before their departure. The movie features plenty of reggae music and famed Jamaican actor and musician Carl Bradshaw, who appeared in the 1972 movie The Harder They Come with Jimmy Cliff.

Wah Do Dem (What They Do) will make its world premiere in June at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:10 AM

May 4, 2009

Craig Chaquico Returning With A New, Sweet CD

Veteran smooth jazz guitarist Craig Chaquico has finished a new CD titled Follow the Sun, which will be released by the Shanachie record label on May 19. Chaquico's first non-holiday CD in almost five years follows Midnight Noon, which boasted the smooth jazz hits “Her Boyfriend’s Wedding” and “Dream Date.”

"Why Follow the Sun?" asks Chaquico. "Well, when you think about it, most of us jazz musicians come out after the sun goes down. So we kinda follow the sun. We’re sorta like night-blooming jazz-men."

Follow the Sun features nine original songs and a guitar-cover of saxophonist Kenny G’s first major hit single, “Song Bird.” The CD features plenty of Chaquico’s trademark guitar playing, Latin rhythms, and several rock-guitar passages that recall his days with the legendary rock group Jefferson Starship. Titles include “Fantasy in Paradise,” “Barefoot in the Sand,” “The Coast of Orion” and “Lights Out San Francisco,” the latter with vocalist Rolf Hartley.

The CD could be one of the best of Chaquico's career. The many stylings and adventuresome playing raise it to the top.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:40 PM

April 29, 2009

First Sade CD In 9 Years Likely This Year

Sade fans, your wait looks like it could be almost over. Several indications point to a new CD by the reclusive singer this fall, which would be her first since Lovers Rock was released in November 2000. In addition to a post from the singer Maxwell, who has worked with both Sade and her band and says the CD is definitely coming out, Sade’s record label, Sony, has re-launched the singer’s official website in the U.S., sadeusa.com.

That’s where you can interact with fans at forums and sign up for updates. In addition, there are links to her MySpace and Facebook sites.

Sade, who has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide, is best known for her many hits singles, including “By Your Side,” “Hang on To Your Love,” “Smooth Operator,” “The Sweetest Taboo,” “No Ordinary Love” and “Kiss of Life,” among many others. In 2005, Sade did compose a song called “Mum” specifically for a DVD called Voices of Darfur.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:42 AM

April 16, 2009

Mindi Abair Shooting Pilot For TV

One day, perhaps one day soon, saxophonist Mindi Abair just might become the next big TV star. That’s because Abair recently spent time in Philadelphia filming a pilot for a new TV show called Music In America. Abair says the show, which she is co-hosting with good friend and blues musician Keb’ Mo’, is basically about going to cities all across America to learn a little bit about each city’s musical history, its hot spots, and of course the current music scene.

While in Philadelphia, Abair interviewed Bobby Eli, a guitarist behind the Sound of Philadelphia scene in the 1970s. Although Music In America has not yet been sold for syndication, Abair says the show will soon be edited and shopped around.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:16 PM

April 8, 2009

Wayman Tisdale Entering College Basketball Hall Of Fame

Congratulations to Wayman Tisdale, the University of Oklahoma's all-time leading scorer, who will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Tisdale – who was also a star in the NBA for 11 season and is now a smooth jazz superstar, of course – was a three-year first-team All-American and Big Eight Player of the Year who averaged 25.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game during his three seasons with the Sooners.

He will be inducted Nov. 22 at the College Basketball Experience in the Sprint Center in Kansas City. He’ll be in some pretty good company – also being inducted will be Indiana State's Larry Bird and Michigan State's Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

Tisdale was also honored on April 7 with a Community Hero Award by the new Oklahoma City Thunder pro basketball team. He received the honor during halftime of the Thunder’s game against the San Antonio Spurs.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 1:54 AM

March 27, 2009

Benefit Show For Ramsey Lewis Bassist

A benefit show for Cleveland Eaton, a former bassist with the Ramsey Lewis Trio who is featured on the hit songs “Wade in the Water” and “Hang On Sloopy,” will be held March 28 at the Open Door Café in Mountain Brook, Alabama. Eaton, who has been diagnosed with cancer, will himself perform during the evening, which will raise money for his medical costs.

Eaton, 69, performed on numerous CDs with Ramsey Lewis after replacing original member Eldee Young. If you’d like to help with a donation, you can visit Eaton’s website at clevelandeaton.com.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:46 PM

March 26, 2009

David Benoit's Cat: The Next Reality Star?

Could Smooth Jazz pianist David Benoit’s pet cat become the next reality TV star? You’ll find out this summer when David and his family appear on an episode of Housecat Housecall" on the Animal Planet channel. The show, which debuted in 2008, is hosted by veterinarian Katrina Warren. Each episode has Warren visiting the home of people who are having any number of problems with their cats.

The episode with the Benoit family, which centers on their cat Brownie, will most likely air in June.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:16 AM

March 13, 2009

Rick Braun Working On Solo CD And Chet Baker Tribute

Fans of trumpeter Rick Braun will be pleased to now that he is working on not one, but two CDs. A new solo project, What It Takes, is being co-produced by Philippe Saisse and features a mix of funk, smooth jazz and world music. The CD, to be offered by Artisan Records, will be Rick’s first solo project of original material since 2003’s Esperanto.

In 2005, Braun released a covers CD Yours Truly and in 2007 offered RnR, a project with saxophonist Richard Elliot.

The other CD is a tribute to one of Rick’s heroes, the late trumpeter Chet Baker, and features Saisse, bassist Brian Bromberg and drummer Ricky Lawson. Braun, of course, will be playing the trumpet and well as singing. The CD is an outgrowth of live shows in honor of Baker that Braun began last year. He will be doing the shows again this year, including next month at the Berks Jazz Festival.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:40 AM

March 11, 2009

Smooth Jazz Contributor Needs Transplant

Armsted Christian, a professor of music at Berklee School of Music in Boston and a frequent contributor to smooth jazz projects, is in need of a double lung transplant. The 57-year-old singer and songwriter, who has performed with Gerald Albright, Walter Beasley, Marion Meadows, Chieli Minucci, Najee, Will Downing and others, has what is usually a fairly benign illness called sarcoidosis, which was first diagnosed in him in 1976.

But doctors say Christian, whose lungs are badly scarred and constantly infected, is one of the rare patients whose life is threatened by the disease. His condition qualifies him to be placed on an organ donor waiting list for a double lung transplant. To help raise money for Christian’s medical costs and to support his sarcoidosis research foundation, a benefit is planned March 14 in his hometown of New Bedford, Mass.

To learn more, or to make a donation, go to berklee.com.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:23 PM

March 4, 2009

Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson To Tour This Summer

After several years of fronting the Dave Koz & Friends: Smooth Summer Nights tour, last summer saxophonist Dave Koz hit the road solo with just his band. For this summer, Koz will add one friend and sometimes another friend on the U.S. tour. Koz will be joined by pianist Brian Culbertson on all of the shows, with occasional appearances by guest vocalist Peabo Bryson.

They will be backed by a mix of musicians from both Koz and Culbertson’s bands. Koz's tour, which for the second year in a row will not retain the Smooth Summer Nights moniker, will get a name at a later date, says Koz's management. There is only one date confirmed so far: Aug. 23 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, with Bryson featured at that performance.

Many more dates are expected to be announced soon, which is the first time that Koz and Culbertson have hit the road together since 2002.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:36 AM

February 17, 2009

Update: Police Recover One Of Paul Jackson Jr.’s Stolen Guitars

Police have recovered one of the three guitars that were recently stolen from Smooth Jazz musician and “American Idol” band guitarist Paul Jackson Jr.'s car. It turns out it is the Paul Reed Smith single-cut hollow body, which is pictured on the back on Paul’s upcoming CD Lay It Back, which is due March 17.

Jackson is offering a reward on all three of the guitars, but at this time he is gathering information on how the one missing guitar was recovered. Thieves originally stole the guitars by smashing the window of Jackson's car in his Los Angeles-area neighborhood.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 9:51 PM

Paul Jackson Jr. Offering Reward For Stolen Guitars

Smooth jazz musician and American Idol band guitarist Paul Jackson Jr. is offering a substantial reward for the safe return of three of his favorite guitars. Thieves stole the guitars by smashing the window of Jackson’s car parked outside his Los Angeles-area neighborhood. He had just returned home about two in the morning after a gig, was exhausted, and never thought his car would be burglarized.

The reward will be offered for any of the guitars, which have great sentimental and monetary value. One of them, a Paul Reed Smith single-cut hollow body, is the one pictured on the back on Jackson’s upcoming CD Lay It Back, which is due March 17.

To take a look at the guitars or to e-mail Jackson with any suggestions on how to get his guitars back, go to pauljacksonjr.com.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:04 PM

February 13, 2009

2 Members Of Chuck Mangione Band Die In New York Plane Crash

Two members of Grammy Award-winner Chuck Mangione’s band have been identified as among those killed Feb. 12 on the plane that crashed into a Buffalo, New York, house. Publicist Sanford Brokaw identifies the band members as Gerry Niewood and Coleman Mellett. In a statement Mangione, best known for his smash hit "Feels So Good,” said that he was “in shock over the horrible, heartbreaking tragedy."

Niewood, a flutist and saxophonist, has appeared on albums by Grover Washington Jr., Bob James, Jason Miles and Patti Austin. In 2004, he released a CD titled Facets on the smooth jazz label Native Language. Niewood was also the first saxophonist for the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra.

"I am in a state of shock," said Miles. "I knew Gerry since 1974. He was one the nicest, mellowest guys you will ever meet. Gerry was really, along with Grover, one of the first guys who really played contemporary jazz."

Guitarist Mellett, who has performed with many top stars, was called on to replace smooth jazz guitarist Grant Geissman as Mangione’s band guitarist. Mangione and his band were scheduled to perform Feb. 22 in Wickenburg, Ariz.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 9:58 PM

February 10, 2009

Kenny G Doing A Movie-Themed CD Like Dave Koz?

One of saxophonist Kenny G's ideas for his next CD may raise a few eyebrows: a project of all Oscar-winning film scores. That idea was already realized in January 2007 when another smooth jazz saxophonist, Dave Koz, released At the Movies. Koz's CD spent 12 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s contemporary jazz chart and featured guest vocalists and such Academy Award-winning songs as “The Pink Panther”, “West Side Story,” “Breakfast At Tiffany’s,” “The Way We Were” and “The Wizard of Oz.”

Kenny, who is asking his fans their thoughts on the project through his new blog at kennyg.com, says he might also write one new song for a current film and include that on the project. If Kenny decides to do the CD of movie music, he’s just about set – he’s got the London Symphony Orchestra booked in April to record with him.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:11 PM

February 1, 2009

Happy 70th Birthday To Joe Sample!

Happy birthday to pianist and composer Joe Sample, who is celebrating his 70th birthday on Sunday, Feb. 1.

"I can’t remember any particular birthday that stands out," Sample says. "I know the big one that is coming up will stand out more than any of them. I will be 70. That’s a milestone. I cannot believe it. I do feel wonderful, but it’s like, 70? Are you kidding me?"

He was born Joseph Leslie Sample and raised in the Creole section of Houston, referred to as French Town. In 2002, Sample returned to Houston after residing in Northern California for 10 years.

Before his solo career was ignited, Sample was a longtime member of the Jazz Crusaders, and in 1971 they became known simply as The Crusaders. In 2003, Joe reunited with saxophonist Wilton Felder and drummer Stix Hooper for the first time in 33 years, releasing a new Crusaders album, Rural Renewal.

Meanwhile, Sample's latest project, No Regrets, will be released on March 24. It’s his second CD in a row with vocalist Randy Crawford, following the Grammy-nominated Feeling Good.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 12:28 AM

January 27, 2009

Kenny G Returning To U.K. For First Time In 12 Years

We all know that saxophonist Kenny G is just as popular overseas as he is in the U.S., as evidenced by his more than 75 million albums sold worldwide. Although he has frequently toured Asia in the past few years, Kenny has not been to the United Kingdom in 12 years. That ends in April, as he has announced four shows there, including one in Scotland and three in England, including at London’s Albert Hall.

The tour is called An Evening with Kenny G. Kenny’s latest CD, Rhythm & Romance, features the former No. 1 smooth jazz single “Sax-O-Loco,” as well as the current “Tango.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 12:42 AM

January 13, 2009

Pat Metheny Scores Music For Off-Broadway Play

Later this month, Grammy Award-winning guitarist Pat Metheny will see the debut of a new score for a theatrical production as he’s written the music for Eugene O’Neill’s epic Mourning Becomes Electra. The drama, starring veteran actresses Lili Taylor and Jena Malone, will play a limited Off-Broadway run Jan. 27 through April 18 at the Acorn Theatre in New York. Metheny composed and performed the solo guitar score on an instrument from the 1860s, which is the same period as the play.

It’s Metheny’s first score for a theatrical production since 1986’s Orphans, which played in Chicago, New York and London. Metheny also has scored the music for numerous motion pictures, including A Map of the World, Twice in a Lifetime and The Falcon and the Snowman. The latter produced the hit single “Chris.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:33 AM

January 7, 2009

Chris Botti Buys Porsche, Looking For Home In L.A.

It looks like Chris Botti wants to be homeless no more, as he is currently searching for the perfect home in Los Angeles. Botti says he had his heart set on one, but talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel eventually put together the winning offer. For years, Botti has essentially lived out of a large suitcase while he’s been touring nonstop for nine years. His home base has been New York, but he’s lived in hotels there and occupied the one home he did own for a grand total of 10 days. In Los Angeles, Botti likes to stay at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, just minutes from famed Rodeo Drive.

Since he’s looking for a base while in Los Angeles, the trumpeter recently also purchased a Porsche 911 convertible. Botti wants a home in Los Angeles because he records his albums at the famed Columbia Studios. In addition, he says, many of the New York studios are closing down.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:47 PM

December 30, 2008

Dave Koz On A Float For Rose Parade

Guess who is performing with past celebrities and cast members in the Dancing With The Stars float during the nationally televised Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena? If you’re thinking Dave Koz, you guessed right.

Koz is a confirmed fan of ABC’s reality series and has even attended live shows. And it just so happens that Cloris Leachman, a contestant during the last season, is the Grand Marshal of this year’s Rose Parade. Koz, who just concluded his annual Dave Koz & Friends Christmas tour, says he’s going to make sure to get plenty of sleep the night before.

The annual Rose Parade, first staged in the late 1800s to showcase the mild Southern California winter weather, is now in its 120th year and will be televised live on Jan. 1 at 8 a.m. Pacific time. The parade, whose theme this year is Hats Off to Entertainment, will be broadcast on ABC, NBC, Univision, HGTV and the Travel Channel, among others, and will also been seen in more than 200 international territories.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 12:34 AM

December 12, 2008

2008's Best Smooth Jazz CDs

Just my opinion. But of the hundreds of CDs I listened to in 2008, here is a list of some of the best smooth jazz CDs of 2008.

1. Ken Navarro, The Grace of Summer Light (Positive): Spellbinding homage to Pat Metheny.
2. Earl Klugh, The Spice of Life (Koch): Sweet nylon-string guitar.
3. Chris Standring, Love & Paragraphs (Ultimate Vibes): No one has better hooks. He's at the top of his game.
4. Fourplay, Energy (Heads Up): Consistently strong.
5. Jeff Lorber, Heard That (Peak): Jam music for fans.
6. Wayman Tisdale, Rebound (Rendezvous): Melodic, memorable.
7. Denny Jiosa, Dreams Like This (Sonic Canvas): Creative genius from an incredible guitarist.
8. Ottmar Liebert + Luna Negra, The Scent of Light (SSRI): Strongest effort in years.
9. Jessy J, Tequila Moon (Peak): Great saxophone/vocal debut.
10. Jamhunters, Music Speaks Louder Than Words (Gateway): Chill/smooth mixture extraordinaire.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:12 AM

December 10, 2008

Chuck Loeb Scales Back For Upcoming CD

Smooth jazz guitarist Chuck Loeb has completed a new CD titled Between 2 Worlds that was recorded in New York and Berlin. Loeb says the CD dispenses with much of the technology of his previous recordings and instead focuses on the basic trio of guitar, bass and drums. But he does get contributions from smooth jazz superstars, including Brian Culbertson, who has a trombone solo, and saxophonist Eric Marienthal, as well as trumpeter Till Bronner and bassists Gerald Veasley and Will Lee.

The CD also features vocal contributions from Loeb’s wife, Carmen Cuesta, and daughter, Lizzy Loeb. Titles include the cover track and James Taylor's “Mean Old Man,” as well as “Let’s Go,” “Mittens,” “Let’s Play” and “Hiram,” the latter a tribute to the late guitarist Hiram Bullock. In addition, the song “360” is dedicated to fellow guitarist Pat Metheny.

Between 2 Worlds will be released by Heads Up on March 24.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:01 PM

November 19, 2008

Superstar Project: Paul Brown, Marc Antoine CD Of Duets

A superstar smooth jazz pair of guitarists, Paul Brown and Marc Antoine, are now working on a duets album titled Foreign Exchange. The album gets its name from the fact that Brown is a lifelong resident of Southern California and Antoine is a native of France who now lives in Spain. The idea for the CD was hatched after some successful shows Brown began last year called Paul Brown’s Guitar Night, which featured Antoine as one of the revolving musicians.

Brown – who plays mostly the electric guitar – is an in-demand producer who has also released three solo CDs, including his latest, White Sand. Antoine – who plays mostly classical guitar – has released eight albums and his latest is Hi-Lo Split.

Foreign Exchange will be released in April by Peak Records. Brown and Antoine will tour together to support the CD.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:52 PM

November 18, 2008

Joyce Cooling Offering Christmas Song

Smooth jazz guitarist Joyce Cooling has recorded her first holiday song and wants to share it with her fans. Cooling sings on the original “It’s Feeling Like Christmas,” which she is offering as a free download on her website. You also have the option of simply streaming the song or watching a video of it, which is also posted on YouTube.

Cooling will have a whole CD of new songs in April when she releases Global Cooling.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:51 PM

November 8, 2008

Boney James' New CD Of Love Songs: 9 Instrumentals, 6 Covers

Smooth jazz saxophonist Boney James has completed his 11th solo CD and second for the Concord Music Group. Scheduled to be released the week before Valentine’s Day, Send One Your Love is a CD of love songs with a mixture of six cover songs and four new tunes Boney wrote – “Wanna Show U Sumthin’,” “Hold On,” “Butter” and “City of Light.” The CD gets it title from the Stevie Wonder song.

In addition, Boney covers John Klemmer’s “Touch,” Barry White’s “I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby,” The Brothers Johnson’s “I’ll Be Good to You” and The Stylistics’ “Stop, Look, Listen To Your Heart.” The only vocal track, James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight,” marks the debut of R&B vocalist Quinn.

Send One Your Love will be available Feb. 3.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 1:43 AM

October 28, 2008

3rd Force’s William Aura Planning School In Nepal

William Aura, leader of the smooth jazz group 3rd Force, has announced that he has collected nearly $2,500 so far toward the building of a school in rural Nepal. Aura has visited the area many times on humanitarian missions, and footage that he shot in India and Nepal, where many Tibetan refugees have resettled, was featured in a recent documentary titled 10 Questions For The Dalai Lama.

Aura’s school will be located near a river in a remote Himalayan valley about 300 miles southeast of Kathmandu. About 50 students now study three hours a day outside in the elements. Aura’s school will replace a traditional straw-thatched roof with wood and bamboo, which is in abundance nearby. If you would like to contribute, you can visit the Aura Imports website, which is designed to aid the harsh economic conditions of the Tibetan people by offering jewelry, clothing and other items handmade by young Tibetan artists and craftspeople in exile.

William Aura describes how Buddhism and his travels to Nepal, where he is building a school, help him to stay centered: "I’m a student of Buddhism. It’s not really religion to me. It’s more of a school of thought. I love traveling there and working with the young people and teaching English when I’m there and studying in the monasteries and just finding something that’s very relaxing and peaceful to me. It helps me become more mindful and appreciative of everything we have."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:01 PM

October 24, 2008

Walter Beasley Records Song For Barack Obama

Saxophonist Walter Beasley, who has already officially supported presidential candidate Barack Obama on his website, is now the first major smooth jazz artist to include a song for Obama on a CD. Beasley’s “Free Your Mind,” which is due in January on Heads Up, features a tune called “Barack’s Groove” that was written and produced by Phil Davis.

The song is one of 11 new ones on the CD, which is Beasley’s follow-up to Ready for Love, which included the No. 1 song of the same name. New songs include a tribute to George Duke called “DukeZillia,” as well as a tribute to the late trumpeter and vocalist Mark Ledford from the Pat Metheny Group called “Message to Mark.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 10:39 PM

October 10, 2008

Kim Waters Paying Tribute To Marvin Gaye

On his last CD, 2006’s You Are My Lady, saxophonist Kim Waters scored a smooth jazz hit with the legendary Marvin Gaye’s most famous songs, “Got to Give It Up.” Now, Kim has finished a new CD, his 16th, titled I Want You: Love in the Spirit of Marvin.   The 11-song CD has two songs composed by Gaye, the title track “I Want You” – which has lead vocals by Vivian Green – and “Distant Lover.”

The remaining nine tunes, as the CD title suggests, are all originals that Waters wrote and hopes listeners will feel have some of that Marvin Gaye magic to them. Among those songs are “Let’s Get On It,” “Groove With Me,” “Some Dreams Come True” and “Smooth Sailing.”

I Want You: Love in the Spirit of Marvin will be available Oct. 28.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:50 AM

October 7, 2008

Kirk Whalum Wants You To Join Him On Twitter

Have you heard of Twitter, the free social networking site? Like blogging, Twitter lets you write messages that other people can read.   But unlike blogging, Twitter limits your messages to 140 characters. It’s a self-described micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users' updates, which are known as “tweets.”

Smooth jazz saxophonist Kirk Whalum, who already posts a blog on his website, has now opened a Twitter account and is calling on his fans to do the same. So now you can join Whalum as he "tweets" about jazz, his travels, current projects and even random ideas. You can create your own Twitter profile along with Whalum and share quick messages about your day-to-day experiences. It can also a great way for music students to follow the course of a professional jazz musician.

For more information, go to twitter.com/kirkwhalum.

Whalum's latest project is Promises Made, an all-star benefit album by The Millennium Promise Jazz Project Featuring Kirk Whalum.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 10:20 PM

September 13, 2008

Kevin Toney Offers Solo Piano CD

If you like solo piano CDs, you might be interested in Kevin Toney's latest. It's the first solo project for the veteran musician, who was a member of the Blackbyrds and is best-known for his smooth jazz hit single “Kings.”

A Grateful Heart features 10 new, original compositions with titles such as “Stars in the Sky,” “Morning Prayer,” “Giving Thanks” and “Beautiful New Clothes." Relaxing and heartfelt, it's a throwback to an earlier era. It's released by Toney's K-Tone Productions, and you can find out more about it by going to Toney's website. You can also listen to samples at the site.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:33 PM

September 10, 2008

Guitars And Saxes Does Christmas

For 14 years, the popular Guitars & Saxes has been a staple of the smooth jazz summer touring season. This year, for the first time, the tour will be celebrating the spirit of the holidays with the Guitars & Saxes Christmas tour. On board for the first edition, which is expected to be an annual event, are saxophonist Richard Elliot, guitarist Paul Brown and saxophonist Jessy J.

Elliot has performed on the regular Guitars & Saxes tour, while Brown will be making his debut. For Jessy J, it’s a step up, as she not a starring member of this year’s summer tour with Jeff Golub, Peter White, Gerald Albright and Jeff Lorber, but instead as a member of the backing band.

The tour, which is now adding dates, is scheduled to open on November 29th in Nevada with a special, one-time-only guest – vocalist Bobby Caldwell. Other shows are in Seattle and San Ramon, California.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:46 PM

September 5, 2008

Larry Carlton Covers Songs - By King Of Thailand

carltonLarryxa.jpgIn addition to his work with with smooth jazz supergroup Fourplay and throughout his long solo career, legendary guitarist Larry Carlton has also played the music of numerous musicians as one of the most prolific studio musicians ever. Soon, though, Carlton will offer a CD that has a unique origin: All the songs are Larry’s interpretations of music written by the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Needless to say, the King is a fan of Carlton’s and asked him to perform last year for his 80th birthday celebration in Thailand. The result is a nine-song CD titled The Jazz King, comprised of eight songs written by the King and one new track written by Carlton, “Celebration.” Among those joining Carlton on the CD are Fourplay members Nathan East and Harvey Mason, as well as saxophonist Tom Scott, guitarist Earl Klugh and Carlton’s wife, vocalist Michelle Pillar.

The King of Thailand is considered to be a accomplished jazz musician. He plays the sax and has recorded with Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Maynard Ferguson and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Carlton says “The Jazz King” will be released soon on his own 335 Records.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:10 PM

September 3, 2008

Peter White, Columbia, Split After A Decade

WhitePeterXX08.jpgGuitarist Peter White and his label, Columbia Records, have ended their decade-long relationship as Peter has signed a contract with Peak Records, the expanding smooth jazz record label co-founded by Russ Freeman of the Rippingtons.

A new CD of all-original material is expected to be released in March 2009.

The upcoming CD, White's 11th, follows 2006’s Playin’ Favorites, which featured two No. 1 smooth jazz singles, “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” and “Mister Magic.”

White joins a roster that includes Mindi Abair, Jeff Lorber, The Rippingtons, Marc Antoine, Gerald Albright, Paul Taylor, Norman Brown, Lee Ritenour, Will Downing, Eric Marienthal, David Benoit and Jessy J.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:47 AM

August 27, 2008

Wayman Tisdale Has Portion Of Leg Amputated

Tisdale_Bass.jpgOur best for a speedy recovery goes out to smooth jazz superstar Wayman Tisdale, who this week had the lower part of his right amputated due to bone cancer. The 44-year-old Tisdale said on his website that he has “complete faith that with the Lord's blessings, this surgery will eliminate the cancer from my body."

It was in February 2007 that Tisdale first learned he had a cancerous cyst below his right knee after he broke his leg in a fall at his home in Los Angeles. Following a five-month regimen of chemotherapy, Tisdale underwent eight-hour knee-replacement surgery. He later said he was 100 percent cured of cancer, and in June released a comeback CD appropriately titled Rebound.

Tisdale will be taking some time off to recuperate but says he expects to resume touring this fall and still plans to host the Smooth Jazz Cruise in January. "There's a lot more music inside me," Wayman said on his website, "and once I am back on my feet, I look forward to sharing my joy with my fans, friends and fellow musicians."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:59 PM

August 15, 2008

Dave Koz Sells Rendezvous Record Label

koz_xab08.jpgSaxophonist Dave Koz and his partners at Rendezvous Entertainment, a record label founded six years ago, have sold their business to Mack Avenue Records. According to Koz, Rendezvous will continue to release music under the Rendezvous brand, although there is no official announcement yet as to which Rendezvous recording artists, including Wayman Tisdale and Jonathan Butler, would be kept. The deal is similar to one earlier this year, in which bassist Brian Bromberg sold his Artistry Music Group, also to Mack Avenue.

During its tenure with Koz, who co-founded Rendezvous with industry veterans Hyman Katz and Frank Cody, the label released CDs by Tisdale, Butler, Kirk Whalum, Marc Antoine, Praful, Patti Austin, Brian Simpson, Kyle Eastwood, Philippe Saisse and Michael Lington, among others. Rendezvous also offered compilations CDs, including two volumes of Rendezvous Lounge and the tribute CD For Ever, For Always, For Luther, Volume 2.

Koz says it was vital that Rendezvous be sold to a label he trusted. "That’s one of the things that was very, very important to my partners and I, seeing as how we were very dedicated to our artists and our brand. Here was a place that would be a great new home for our artists. We felt very confident with that. And also that the Rendezvous brand, which does stand for something, will continue in the future as well. So those are two parameters that were met, making this feel good for all of us. I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone to know that the music business over the last couple of years has changed so dramatically, making it virtually impossible for a young, completely independent company to thrive."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:25 PM

August 14, 2008

Michael Lington Performing On Labor Day Telethon

Lington_Young.jpgSaxophonist Michael Lington will get some national television exposure as he has been invited to perform during the 42nd annual Labor Day Telethon benefiting the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Lington will be performing “Baker Street” from his upcoming CD Heat, which will be released Sept. 2. He will be joined by American Idol Top 10 finalist Ace Young, who also signs the song on Lington's CD. The Labor Day special hosted by Jerry Lewis reaches millions of viewers across the U.S. and this year will be held on Sept. 1.

Lington says his publicist was the one who first came up with the idea of appearing on the Labor Day Telethon. "One of the first thing he said was look, your album comes out on Sept. 2, and Labor Day weekend is the telethon. I want you to get on that show. And Ace Young was already doing the telethon. So we all came up with the idea of doing ‘Baker Street’ on the telethon together. They loved it over there, and now we’re doing it."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 1:27 AM

August 4, 2008

Jeff Lorber Covers Amy Winehouse Hit Song

Lorber_Jeff_08a.jpgKeyboardist and producer Jeff Lorber has just wrapped up production of a new funky and soulful CD co-produced by smooth jazz veteran Rex Rideout. The CD, Heard That, is Lorber's follow-up to the Grammy-nominated He Had a Hat, which featured the hit single “Anthem for a New America.”

The CD of original material does have one cover song: an instrumental version of British singer’s Amy Winehouse’s "Rehab,” which was mixed by Paul Brown and features Rick Braun on trumpet. In addition to the title track, which was co-written with saxophonist Eric Darius, the CD features titles such as “Don’t Hold Back,” “Gamma Rays,” “Don’t Stop” and “The Bomb."

Heard That, Lorber's debut for Peak Records, will be available on Sept. 30. I've listened to an advance version, and this is definitely a CD you'll want.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:52 PM

July 23, 2008

Euge Groove Donates Saxophone To His High School

Groove.jpgIt’s well-known that many school music programs have experienced troubles with funding over the past few years. Euge Groove wants to help where he can, which is why he’s donated his personal Selmer Ref 54 tenor saxophone to the band program at South Hagerstown High School in Maryland, which he graduated from in 1980.

The saxophone, valued at $9,250, will be raffled off. Euge says the sax was the main one that he toured and recorded with for three years. He also used it on his Just Feels Right album, which featured the smooth jazz hits “Get Em Goin’” and “Chillaxin.”

If you want to help by purchasing a $25 raffle ticket, you can go to eugegroove.com, where Euge has a link to the school’s site.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:38 PM

July 10, 2008

Larry Carlton Gets Lifetime Achievement Honor

carltonLarryxa.jpgLegendary guitarist Larry Carlton, who has appeared on more than 3,000 CDs, has had a successful solo career with 31 albums and is a member of the smooth jazz supergroup Fourplay, has been honored with the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award by Guitar Player magazine.

Carlton, who has won three Grammy Awards, recently celebrated his 60th birthday and is as busy as ever. He’s got a full slate of shows this summer, is working on some new projects and his new Fourplay CD, Energy, will be available on Sept. 23.

To see a video tribute to Larry created by Guitar Player, go to Larry’s mr335tv.com website. You’ll hear a bunch of Larry’s music as well as viewing a slide show featuring just a few of CDs he’s performed on over his long career.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:18 AM

July 3, 2008

First-Call Bassist Dave Carpenter Dies

carpenter_dave.jpgDave Carpenter, a respected, first-call jazz bassist who worked with scores of legendary names in all musical styles on more than 200 recordings, died June 23 of a heart attack at his home in Burbank, Calif. He was 48. Carpenter was a favorite among smooth jazz artists – most recently, he performed on saxophonist Dave Koz’s At the Movies CD and saxophonist Tom Scott’s Cannon Re-Loaded: All-Star Celebration of Cannonball Adderley.

Carpenter also performed on CDs by Mindi Abair, Jeff Golub, Lee Ritenour, Eric Marienthal, Harvey Mason, the Benoit/Freeman Project, Marc Antoine, Bobby Caldwell and Al Jarreau. Most recently, Carpenter had been playing in a trio with pianist Alan Pasqua and drummer Peter Erskine and had just released an album called “Standards."

This is surely a big loss for anyone mesmerized by Carpenter's work on the upright bass.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:24 PM

June 24, 2008

Dave Koz To Get Hollywood Star

kozblowing_1.jpgCongratulations to saxophonist Dave Koz, who the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has selected to receive a star on its famous Hollywood Walk of Fame next year. The honor, created 50 years ago, is generally regarded as making the entertainment Hall of Fame, and other performers who have received the honor include Kenny G, Al Jarreau, Sting, Queen Latifah and Vanessa Williams. Star ceremonies are open to the public and formerly were led by honorary Hollywood mayor Johnny Grant prior to his death earlier this year.

Among those joining Koz to get stars next year are Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, the Village People, Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Cameron Diaz, Robert Downey Jr., Ben Kingsley, William Petersen, Kyra Sedgwick and Shakira.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:44 AM

June 13, 2008

Dan Siegel Updates Songs For Compelling New CD

Siegel_Dan.jpgPianist Dan Siegel is now offering a new CD titled Fables that features updated re-recordings of songs that he composed in the mid-1980s on his CDs Another Time Another Place, On The Edge and Short Stories. The CD is being released independently and distributed by Native Language.

Among the many musicians joining Siegel on the CD, which is billed as The Dan Siegel Project, are saxophonist Michael Lington, trumpeter Tony Guerrero, guitarist Allen Hinds, bassist Abraham Laboriel and vocalist Nadia Freeman. There are a mixture of new age, chill and smooth jazz tunes, including “Concrete Jungle,” “Fugitives” and the hit-worthy “Celestial Bodies.”

The CD is highly recommended.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:23 AM

June 7, 2008

Euge Groove To Tour With Tina Turner Again

Groove_Born2.jpgEuge Groove will be performing for whole new audience in the coming months as the saxophonist has been selected by legendary vocalist Tina Turner to join her on her Tina: Live in Concert Tour. It will be a reunion for Euge and the 68-year-old performer, as he also performed in Turner’s band on a tour in 2000, which also happened to be the last time she mounted a tour.

The upcoming tour will run from Oct. 1 to Dec. 12 in North America, as well as Jan. 14 to April 1 in Europe. Groove, who also toured in the past with Tower of Power, Richard Marx, Joe Cocker and Huey Lewis before becoming a solo artist, said it was difficult to turn Turner down when she approached him about the tour. But Euge says that he will still be performing solo shows when not with Turner, although he has been forced to cancel an appearance with the Dave Koz & Friends At Sea tour this November.

Groove recalls meeting Turner late in 1999 before going to tour with her in 2000. "She just starts going into me. I want you to do this and this and this, and jump up and down and dance and I’m like, Oh my gosh, what have I gotten myself into, you know? And that very much was her personality. She knows what she wants, and she’s going to let you know what she wants, and there’s only one way to do it – the way that she wants. But here’s the other side of that that’s great. She was always right. People would think that she was not right or try to tell her to do something else, and she would stick to her guns and ultimately in the end she was right every time"

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:13 PM

June 5, 2008

George Benson Named NEA Jazz Master

Benson_George_2008A.jpgCongratulations to 10-time Grammy Award-winning singer, composer and guitarist George Benson, who has been selected by the National Endowment for the Arts, or NEA, as one of the newest Jazz Masters, the nation's highest Jazz honor.

The NEA recognized Benson as a distinguished artist whose excellence, impact, and significant contributions have helped to keep the important tradition of jazz alive. Specifically, the NEA remarked that Benson created the innovative practice of playing a florid guitar melody accompanied by an identical, scatted vocal line.

Also announced as 2009 NEA Jazz Masters were Jimmy Cobb, Lee Konitz, Toots Thielemans, Snooky Young and Rudy Van Gelder. The six recipients will each receive a $25,000 grant award. The Oct. 17 presentation of the 2009 NEA Jazz Masters Award will take place at Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:21 AM

May 24, 2008

Chieli Minucci: 4 New Projects Online

Minucci_2007_A.JPGLast year, guitarist Chieli Minucci offered a new CD of never-released material Travels as a digital download only on his website. This year his fans are in for a real treat as he has now released four new full CDs as digital downloads. The music is all new or never released, and he co-wrote, produced, and played instruments on all the compositions.

Solos, Duos & Trios has intimate compositions featuring the work of Minucci, percussionist George Jinda, and others. Raspberry n’ Cream features blues-based vocal pieces co-written and performed by Minucci with Philip Hamilton, Will Brock, Armsted Christian and others. Pop Today, meanwhile, has pop and rock songs with Minucci, Johnny Kemp, Vic Starsky and Noel Cruz. Finally, Drippings consists of soundtrack-style, ambient music in multiple styles.

All the music is ongoing from the last few years, and you sample or purchase any combination of songs at chielimusic.com.   All songs are in mp3 format and are $1 each, except for Drippings, which is $10 for the full project.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 11:58 PM

May 13, 2008

Boney James, Syesha Mercado Team For Song

James_Syesha.jpgSmooth jazz saxophonist Boney James and current American Idol Top 3 finalist Syesha Mercado have joined forces to release a new version of “Gonna Get It” exclusively on iTunes. The song, written by Boney and Rahsaan Patterson, originally appeared on James' current CD Shine and was sung by Faith Evans.

The new version of “Gonna Get It” – which you also hear at Boney’s MySpace page – pairs him with the last woman standing on American Idol. James, whose current smooth jazz single is the former No. 1 hit “Let It Go,” says that the first time he saw the 21-year-old Mercado perform, he was incredibly impressed. He added that “Gonna Get It” seemed like a perfect fit for her, and he’s really proud of how well she’s doing on American Idol.

Mercado, David Cook and David Archuleta will perform on the FOX reality series on May 13, and one will be voted off on May 14.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:19 PM

April 29, 2008

Ken Navarro Offers Free Stream Of New CD

Navarro2006.jpgGuitarist Ken Navarro, in a first for a smooth jazz artist and in an attempt to get his music heard by as many people as possible, is making his upcoming CD The Grace of Summer Light available for streaming more than a month before its official release. Navarro says that the best way for his fans to understand what he’s accomplished with his new music, and to follow the story he’s telling with these compositions, is to hear the CD in its entirety. Of course, he’s also hoping that those who hear it will then want to purchase it.

You can listen to the entire 10-song CD in high-quality audio by going to kennavarro.com. The official release date for The Grace of Summer Light is June 17. That will be proceeded, however, by the exclusive download release beginning May 5 on kennavarro.com.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:40 PM

April 23, 2008

Dave Koz Wants Your 3 Favorite Songs

kozblowing_1.jpgWhat’s your favorite smooth jazz songs by Dave Koz? The saxophonist is looking for your opinion as he is asking fans to vote for their three all-time favorite Koz songs as he plans to release his first-ever greatest hits CD in September. Koz makes the request on a humorous three-minute video that you can view at brickmanmedia.com/koz. During the video, Koz discloses several tongue-in-cheek secrets to making a hit single, including wearing a robe, eating a cantaloupe and warming up his fingers with a video game.

Making a cameo in the video is Koz’s niece Holly, who plays a kazoo while Koz plays a portion of his smash hit “You Make Me Smile.” That song is just one of Koz’s greatest hits, joining such classics as “Together Again,” “Let It Free,” “Honey-Dipped, “All I See Is You,” “The Bright Side” and “Can’t Let You Go,” among many others.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 10:49 PM

April 17, 2008

Mindi Abair's Live, Interactive Online Concert

Abair_Stars_XX.jpgSaxophonist and vocalist Mindi Abair will soon be having a worldwide CD release party unlike any you’ve heard of before. On May 1, Abair will be streaming a live, interactive show while previewing songs from her upcoming CD Stars thanks to deeprockdrive.com, which bills itself as the world’s first live interactive entertainment service.

Abair will be performing for a crowd of 5,000 people at Deep Rock Drive’s soundstage in Las Vegas. The concert is fully interactive and will allow those who stream it to vote for the songs they want to hear. Fans can also choose and adjust camera angles and even chat with everyone else attending as well as with Abair during the show. To take part in the experience, go to deeprockdrive.com and sign up. The show begins at 6 p.m. Pacific Time.

"We’ve never done anything like this," says Abair. "And I have to say when it presented itself, I just sat there kind of wide-eyed. And I said, that is the coolest idea I’ve ever heard in my life. I mean, it’s so interactive it’s just ridiculous. And you’re there right in the room, via the Internet, with us."

Abair's new CD, Stars, will be released on May 6.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 10:36 PM

April 16, 2008

Dave Koz Honors Mother With Cookies For A Koz

Saxophonist Dave Koz and his sister Roberta have created a brand-new company in honor of their late mother they’re calling Cookies For a Koz. Koz says that his mother Audrey Koz, who died in 2005, spent her adult life spreading happiness, love and smiles through the proliferation of her chocolate chip cookies.

Cookies For A Koz is Koz's way of ensuring that the special magic and love she put into every batch lives on. As the name implies, this company is also committed to raising money for an important cause: the Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation, which helps seriously ill children and their families cope with their pain, fear and isolation through entertainment and education. This was Audrey’s favorite charity, and Koz has long been global ambassador. Ten percent of the purchase price of these cookies goes directly to Starlight.

Cookies available are original chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, white chocolate chip, and snickerdoodle. For more information, go to cookiesforakoz.com.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 10:07 PM

April 14, 2008

Fattburger's Carl Evans Jr. Dies

Carl Evans Jr., a founding member of the veteran San Diego-based smooth jazz group Fattburger, passed away on April 10 at age 53 due to complications from diabetes. In December, Evans underwent surgery to remove his left leg below the knee. Several benefits were held in San Diego to help pay for Evans’ medical costs, including one featuring friend and bassist Nathan East of Fourplay.

Fattburger – which features guitarist Evan Marks, bassist Mark Hunter, drummer Kevin Koch and percussionist Tommy Aros – also played a benefit show. It was in September 2006 that Fattburger saxophonist Hollis Gentry died two years after being involved in a serious automobile accident.

Public viewing will be held April 18 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Anderson-Ragsdale Mortuary in San Diego. A service will held April 19 at 10 a.m. at St. Rita’s Catholic Church in San Diego.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:57 PM

March 11, 2008

Kenny G May Move To China For Six Months

KennyG_Playing2008.jpgSaxophonist Kenny G, who has announced plans to create a music academy in China, is now seriously contemplating his next step: moving to Shanghai for the first six months of 2009 to help get the process rolling. Kenny is a frequent visitor to the country, where last year he debuted his G-Series line of saxophones in Shanghai before unveiling them at a trade show in the U.S. this past January. Kenny also recently performed at the closing ceremony of China's Special Olympics.

The saxophonist, who lives in Southern California, says an academy in China would be his way of giving back, and he wants to make it easier for students to start playing musical instruments. He adds that, in an effort to make the academy accessible to all, he’s looking for a sponsor to help with costs. By the way, Kenny has six shows planned in China during late April and early May.

"There’s a lot of stuff I want to get done over there," Kenny says. "My music’s super popular there, and I think I can get a lot accomplished. I want to partner with somebody, so I have find the right endorsee and the right sponsor. I know that the future’s there for me in that sense, giving back and having an academy where I can teach students. And maybe I’ll do a master class like once every quarter. They’ll be teachers there that can teach music the way that I would teach it. I can show them my style of teaching and hopefully help a lot of people get really into music."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:52 PM

March 5, 2008

Denny Jiosa Records Sunny With Original Singer

JiosaDenny08.jpgDenny Jiosa, a great Nashville-based guitarist, has released a new smooth jazz CD titled Dreams Like This, his sixth overall and first of all-new music since 2002’s Body 2 Body. Jiosa is well-known for his smooth jazz single "Lights of the City” from his 1996 CD Inner Voices.

Dreams Like This – an enhanced CD featuring performance and interview videos – offers Jiosa’s version of one of the most popular songs of all time: “Sunny.” In a major coup, Denny played his version to Bobby Hebb – who wrote and recorded the song in 1966 – and Hebb liked it so much he agreed to perform on it.

As a promotion for the new CD, those who subscribe to the mailing list at jiosajazz.com will receive a free copy of Denny’s Jazzberry Pie CD if they purchase Dreams Like This by March 8.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:03 PM

February 27, 2008

Paul Hardcastle Searching For His Own Idols

HardcastlePaul08.jpgBritish-based instrumentalist and producer Paul Hardcastle, whose “Lucky Star” is the No. 1 smooth jazz song in the country, has just started an American Idol-like contest searching for talented singers. Hardcastle says he’s looking for outstanding, soulful voices that would fit into the smooth jazz or R&B music formats.

He says that his fans can look for exciting new projects soon from a new record label he’s creating called, appropriately enough, Hardcastle Records. As you may know, the creator of “American Idol” and similar worldwide versions of the show is British entertainment executive Simon Fuller. Fuller called his company 19 Entertainment after Hardcastle’s 1985 dance hit titled “19” since he managed Hardcastle at the time.

If you’re interested in having Hardcastle hear a sample of your voice, e-mail a demo in mp3 format or another format to Feedbacktrax@mac.com. For more information, you can go to Hardcastle's website at paulhardcastle19.com.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:09 AM

February 20, 2008

Philippe Saisse Moves To California; Signs To Koch

saisse_2007_1.jpgKeyboardist, composer and producer Philippe Saisse, has moved to Southern California after many years of life in New York City and in the New York suburb of Scarsdale. Saisse, who was born and raised in France, is finally settled in with his wife Laura and young son Dorian after what he calls a whirlwind move.

In a career-enhancing move, Saisse has decided to live in the western Los Angeles County city of Calabasas, which he jokingly refers to as the smooth jazz capital of the world. Among the many smooth jazz performers who live in or near the area are Jonathan Butler, Rick Braun, Chris Standring, Norman Brown, Greg Adams, Paul Brown and Euge Groove.

Saisse has plenty to keep him busy, as he is now writing music for the follow-up to his The Body & Soul Sessions, which featured the No. 1 smooth jazz single “Do It Again.”

He hopes to offer the CD, to be released by the Koch record label, in the fall.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:53 AM

February 18, 2008

Michael Lington Marries Former Miss Australia

Lington_wife.jpgSmooth jazz star Michael Lington is single no more, as the saxophonist has posted a picture of himself and his new wife, Shivaune Christina, on his website. There were married late last year in a secretive ceremony. The picture is from a recent issue of 944, a style and celebrity magazine with regional issues in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County, California.

Lington and his wife were photographed attending a chartity event in Los Angeles. Lington is 38 and his new wife, who is 28 and six-feet tall, represented Australia at the 2003 Miss Earth beauty pageant. She has worked in modeling and television broadcasting and owns Angelic Services, a media relations company focused on talent and relationship management.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:01 PM

February 7, 2008

Dave Koz Will Offer Best-Of CD And New Material In 2008

KozGladd.jpgSaxophonist Dave Koz has announced that he will be releasing two CDs in 2008. First, Koz expects to offer his first-ever best-of CD featuring his No. 1 smooth jazz singles, a long list that includes “Let It Free,” “Honey-Dipped, “All I See Is You,” “The Bright Side” and “Can’t Let You Go,” among many others. The best-of CD will also have a few new songs. Then, Koz says he will focus on a new CD of original music that would not be a continuation of his current, Grammy-nominated At The Movies. That would make it his first CD of original material since Saxophonic, released in October of 2003.

Meanwhile, you won’t have to wait very long for some even more new material by Koz. On Feb. 12, he will offer Double Feature, a CD and DVD combination based on his At The Movies that will have two bonus songs in addition to the DVD showing the creation of the project.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:58 PM

February 2, 2008

Peak Expands Roster With Jeff Lorber Signing

Lorber_Jeff_08a.jpgKeyboardist and producer Jeff Lorber, whose latest CD is nominated for a Grammy, follows saxophonist Mindi Abair as the latest artist to sign a recording contract with Peak Records, the expanding smooth jazz record label co-founded by Russ Freeman of the Rippingtons. Peak is a subsidiary of Concord Records.

Lorber joins a roster that in addition to Abair includes The Rippingtons, Marc Antoine, Gerald Albright, Paul Taylor, Norman Brown, Lee Ritenour, Will Downing, Eric Marienthal, David Benoit and Jessy J. Jeff’s most recent CD, He Had a Hat, which featured the smooth jazz hit “Anthem for a New America,” was released on Blue Note Records. The CD is nominated in the Best Contemporary Jazz Album category, and Lorber will find out if he’s a winner when the Grammy Awards are held Feb. 10.

Jeff’s first CD for Peak – which features collaborations with veteran smooth jazz composer and producer Rex Rideout – will be released on June 10.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 11:08 PM

January 26, 2008

Paul Hardcastle Unveils New Website

hardcastle_paulmaxine_1.jpgFans of Paul Hardcastle, who has a Top 5 smooth jazz single with “Lucky Star,” haven’t had many places to catch up on the goings-on of the British-based instrumentalist and producer since he closed up his official website a few years ago. There are unauthorized fan sites, and his record label has some biographical information at trippinrecords.com.

Now, however, Hardcastle has just unveiled a personalized website at paulhardcastle19.com. The “19,” by the way, refers to his worldwide smash hit from 1985. The home page features a full stream of “The Return of the Rainman,” a song taken from his forthcoming CD, Hardcastle 5. Hardcastle has also included exclusive photos of himself, friends and family, a news section where he maintains a blog and an “Exclusive” section where he’ll highlight songs. And just added are two treats: a never-before-released tune titled "Run Free" and a track Hardcastle recorded titled "70s Cop Show," which he says could wind up a future CD.

There are also separate sections on both of his kids, 21-year-old Maxine (pictured in photo) and 16-year-old Paul Jr. Both have appeared on their father’s CDs, and in fact Hardcastle Jr. wrote and performed a song called “Take 1” for Hardcastle 5, which will be released Feb. 5.

"It’s got some funny bits about my son, about Maxine, what she’s doing," Hardcastle says. "And it’s also go some photos of when my wife did me a surprise party over in Spain for my 50th birthday. So yeah, it’s just meant as a little bit of fun. Just for catching up with little bits of news and things like that. It’s just for a laugh, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy it."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:22 PM

January 25, 2008

Fourplay Will Join Legends Of Jazz Tour

Fourplay08X.jpgPianist Ramsey Lewis has confirmed that a live tour based on his “Legends of Jazz” syndicated radio show and PBS television series will have at least 15 dates. They will be spread out one or two dates at a time as opposed to a conventional tour. There are plans to have about 15 show in various markets around the U.S. So far there is one confirmed show, April 24 in Newport News, VA.

There will be two different packages depending on location. One will feature the Ramsey Lewis Trio, saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera and the smooth jazz group Fourplay, which consists of Bob James, Larry Carlton, Nathan East and Harvey Mason. The other lineup has vocalist Kurt Elling with his trio, saxophonist and flutist Ernie Watts and the Ethel String Quartet performing a program of ballads popularized by legendary saxophonist John Coltrane on his 1962 Ballads album and on his classic 1963 album with vocalist Johnny Hartman.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 10:21 PM

January 22, 2008

Kenny G Unveils Saxophone Line In U.S.

KennyGSax_X.jpgKenny G made the U.S. debut of his long-awaited line of saxophones in Anaheim, Calif., at the annual National Association of Music Merchants show, more commonly known as NAMM. The G-Series Saxophones and Educational Series Saxophones are based those he has been using for many years and was co-designed by Rheuben Allen, a Southern California-based maker and repairer of saxophones.

The G-Series soprano saxophone, tailored for professional musicians, comes in three versions and vary in price. The alto and tenor saxophones are designed for students, with the alto retailing for $1,495 and the tenor for $1,695. During the show, Kenny demonstrated his soprano sax line by performing “Sabor A Mi” and other songs from his forthcoming CD Rhythm and Romance. The CD will be in stores on Feb. 5th.

For more information on Kenny’s saxophone lines, you can go to a new site he’s created at kennygsaxophones.com.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 10:11 PM

January 19, 2008

Very First Chris Standring Album Unveiled

Standring_XX.jpgBack in 1989, guitarist Chris Standring recorded his first album in his native London with a group of session players. He titled it Main Course and headed off to Los Angeles, where he now lives, to try to get a label to release the record, which is all instrumental songs except for one track. It features original songs and a cover of “Where Is the Love?” The album of jazz-fusion wasn’t released, however.

Now, Standring has digitized Main Course – which I've heard and loved; fans should really get this – from the original master tapes and is offering it as a free download to fans who pre-order his upcoming CD, Love & Paragraphs.

"I think for a long time I didn’t actually want anybody to hear this," Standring says. "But I kind of do now. I had these grandiose aspirations of moving over and getting big tours and being a superstar All that stuff. I think it was a good album. It might not have been what they were used to hearing. I mean they were starting to go into the commercial formats over here, and it’s not that. It’s very much an indulgent, fusion-y type record where I’m starting to stretch out a little bit."

The new CD, which Chris is offering on his own Ultimate Vibe Recordings record label, will officially be released on April 22. To order Standring's new CD along with the free download, go to chrisstandring.com

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:28 PM

January 16, 2008

Brian Bromberg's Record Label Purchased

Mack Avenue Records, which this year begins its second decade, has announced the acquisition of Los Angeles-based Artistry Music Group, a label co-founded by smooth jazz bassist and producer Brian Bromberg. Under the agreement, Artistry will remain an imprint of Mack Avenue and will continue its emphasis on smooth jazz and adult-oriented music. Bromberg will not be involved in any management capacity, but will continue to release albums with Artistry.

Artistry was founded in 2005 by Bromberg, vocalist Rahsaan Patterson and music industry veterans Lucille Hunt and Denny Stilwell. Stilwell has been named president of Mack Avenue, and Hunt will remain as licensing and publishing director. Patterson will also continue to record for Artistry. Artistry's recent successes include a 2007 Grammy nomination for Bromberg in the Best Contemporary Jazz Album category for “Downright Upright,” which features the hit smooth jazz single “Cantaloupe Island.”

Mack Avenue is home to several artists, including Saturday Night Live band instrumentalist Ron Blake and the newly signed Stanley Jordan.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 1:16 AM

January 7, 2008

Benefits Upcoming For Fattburger's Carl Evans Jr.

Two upcoming benefits in California will aid Carl Evans Jr., a founding member of the veteran San Diego-based Smooth Jazz group Fattburger. Evans is currently in the middle of some serious health challenges. On Dec. 10, he underwent surgery to remove his left leg below the knee. This surgery was necessary to continue his ongoing battle against diabetes. On Jan. 1, doctors performed another operation.

To help with medical costs and future care, the Anthology club in San Diego will be hosting two benefit concerts on Jan. 20. Numerous San Diego musicians will performing, including bassist Nathan East of Fourplay, a longtime friend who Evans has known since elementary school. Also on board is saxophonist Charles McPherson, trumpeters Brian Lynch and Gilbert Castellanos, and keyboardist Rob Whitlock. All net proceeds will benefit the Carl Evans Jr. Health Relief Fund through Washington Mutual. Donations can be made directly to this fund at any time at any Washington Mutual bank. For more information on the show, go to fattburger.com.

Fattburger itself – which now features guitarist Evan Marks, bassist Mark Hunter, drummer Kevin Koch and percussionist Tommy Aros, plans a benefit show for Evans on Feb. 10 at Humphrey’s in San Diego.

This is the second setback for Fattburger in recent years. In September of 2006, Fattburger saxophonist Hollis Gentry died two years after being involved in a serious automobile accident.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:52 PM

January 2, 2008

Pat Metheny Tops JazzTimes Poll

Once again, Grammy Award-winning guitarist Pat Metheny has been named Best Guitarist in the annual readers poll conducted by JazzTimes magazine. In addition, readers named the Pat Metheny Group the top Contemporary/Electric Group. Elsewhere, the late saxophonist Michael Brecker won as Artist of the Year and for New Release for his Pilgrimage CD, which was released after his death. Brecker was also voted by fans into the JazzTimes Hall of Fame.

Other winners include Kenny Garrett, Best Alto Saxophone; Dave Valentin, Best Flute; Poncho Sanchez, Best Percussion; Stanley Clarke, Best Electric Bass; and the late Joe Zawinul, Best Electric Keyboards.

All of the results are the February edition of JazzTimes, which hit newsstands this week.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:52 AM

December 24, 2007

Starbucks To Release Kenny G's New CD

kennyg_2006.jpgKenny G is joining Paul McCartney, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell as the latest artist to have their music for sale at Starbucks. Kenny’s Rhythm & Romance will be offered at Starbucks stores and traditional outlets as part of the fruitful partnership between Starbucks Entertainment and Concord Records.

In November, Kenny and his longtime record label Arista parted ways after the saxophonist’s I’m in the Mood for Love … The Most Romantic Ballads of All Time. The saxophonist's association with Starbucks makes sense. Kenny is a Seattle native who was one of the original investors in the Seattle-based company and is actually a co-owner. A few years ago, Starbucks sponsored Kenny’s tour in the Far East, where the saxophonist helped promote coffee sales.

Kenny says he invested in Starbucks when it just a small company in Seattle, largely due to the charm of then-CEO Howard Schultz. "When it was a privately owned in Seattle, it was owned by just a handful of people that knew about Starbucks," Kenny says. "Everybody knew that Starbucks had really great coffee, and the CEO at that time, he’s such a charismatic guy and so passionate. That's why I invested in the company. I felt that he had a great product. This was a guy that I felt was a winner."

On Rhythm & Romance, Kenny is backed by his longtime pianist Walter Afanasieff, who also produced the CD, as well as Alex Acuña on drums, Ramon Stagnaro on guitar, Enrique Martinez on accordion, John Pena and Nathan East of Fourplay on bass, and Michito Sanchez and Paulino Da Costa on percussion. Chile's Barbara Munoz and Camila supply guest vocals. Songs includes classic selections such as “Besame Mucho” and “Sabor a Mi,” as well as “Brasilia,” “Peruvian Nights,” “Fiesta Loca” and "Salsa Kenny.”

Rhythm and Romance will be available at Starbucks and at retail stores and online on Feb. 5.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 10:40 PM

December 13, 2007

Top 10 CDs For 2007

Four80eastEnroute.jpgHere are one person's picks for Top 10 smooth jazz CDs of the year. Some are more jazz than smooth jazz, such as Jeff Lorber's He Had a Hat and Marcos Ariel's 4 Friends. Some are classic smooth jazz, such as R&R by newcomer Marcus H. Mitchell. Others simply defy categorization, such as Four80East's En Route, which stood head and shoulders above the rest. Whatever they share or don't share, they all have one thing in common: They are damn fine CDs.

1. Four80East, En Route (Native Language)
2. U-Nam, Back From The 80's (Trippin N Rhythm)
3. Euge Groove, Born 2 Groove (Narada)
4. Jeff Golub, Grand Central (Narada)
5. Keiko Matsui, Moyo (Shout Factory)
6. Brian Simpson, Above the Clouds (Rendezvous)
7. Brian Bromberg, Downright Upright (Artistry)
8. Marcos Ariel, 4 Friends (Tenure)
9. Jeff Lorber, He Had a Hat (Narada)
10. Marcus H. Mitchell, R&R (24th)

Posted by Brian Soergel at 11:24 PM

December 11, 2007

Nils Offering Jingle Bells Download

Nils-Pix.jpgSmooth jazz guitarist Nils hopes to brighten your holidays by offering a brand-new rendition of “Jingle Bells.” There’s only one place you can get it, however, and that’s at his MySpace page at myspace.com/nilsguitar. Nils is offering the seasonal song as a 99-cent download. Nils’ current Smooth Jazz single is titled “Catnap.” It’s from his latest CD, Ready to Play. The guitarist is now firming up dates for 2008 and already has shows planned in Las Vegas; San Diego; Dayton, Ohio; and San Juan Capistrano, California.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:59 PM

November 30, 2007

Blue Note Releasing Dave Koz's 'Double Feature'

Koz_AtMovies2007.jpgA combination CD and DVD package based on Dave Koz’s At The Movies album will be released by Blue Note on Feb. 5. Double Feature will include the entire CD of Dave’s interpretations of Oscar-winning movie themes, as well as a DVD of performances from Dave and the album’s guest artists, which included Chris Botti, Peter White, Barry Manilow, Anita Baker, Johnny Mathis, Vanessa Williams, Donna Summer and India Arie.

The DVD will also feature commentary by esteemed movie historian and critic Leonard Maltin. A version of the upcoming DVD, Dave Koz At The Movies, aired this summer in the U.S. on PBS television stations.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:08 AM

November 23, 2007

Jeff Golub Offers 'Six String Santa'

Golub_SixStringSanta.jpgGuitarist Jeff Golub is offering his first holiday CD, Six String Santa, which he is releasing independently through his Metro Café Records. On the CD, Golub offers his own smooth and funky interpretations of holiday classics like “Deck the Halls,” “Jingle Bells,” “Oh Christmas Tree” and “The First Noel.” In addition, saxophonist Warren Hill is featured on “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Golub's band consists of Chris Palmaro on keyboards, Lincoln Goines on bass, Stephen Ferrone and Shawn Pelton on drums, and Roger Squitero on percussion.

The CD is available as a download or in physical form only at jeffgolub.com.

"I’ve always wanted to do a record of Christmas music, but this year it just happened," Golub says. "I went in the studio, and I think we came up with some very spirited arrangements of these classic songs that I love so much. Now, the inspiration for this came kind of late in the year, so it’s not going to be an official release this year. The only way you can get ‘Six String Santa’ is by going to jeffgolub.com. I hope you like this music enough that you’ll play it at your Christmas party this year."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:22 PM

November 21, 2007

Richard Elliot And Rick Braun To Launch RnR Tour

RnR.jpgTrumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Richard Elliot have announced that they will tour in 2008 to support their collaboration CD, RnR, whose title track has been one of the top singles of the year by remaining No. 1 for 10 weeks. At this point, Braun and Elliot will begin their tour at the brand-new Yoshi’s Jazz Club in San Francisco on Feb. 7, where they will perform for four nights. Ten other cities are included so far, with more likely to be added. The tour will continue through September at least, with a show scheduled Sept. 28 in Oceanside, California. Saxophonist Eric Darius will open the show on Feb. 14 in Phoenix.

The CD “RnR,” released in August, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart. The same week, it reached the top of the smooth jazz charts, where it has remained every week since, except for one week. The CD was released by the ARTizen Music Group, which Braun and Elliot co-founded.

"One of the things we wanted to do was make a record obviously that was accessible to people, that people didn’t feel that it was too much of a left turn," says Elliot. "But at the same time, we wanted to take a few chances and stretch a little bit. One thing we definitely wanted was to have a spontaneity in this record, and almost a kind of a live spark to it, but not taking away from sort of the polish. Trying to get all those things at the same time is not always an easy thing to do, but I think the approach that we took is what gave us all those elements."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:18 PM

November 17, 2007

No Surprise: Paul Hardcastle Debuts At No. 19

paulhardcastle_11.jpgIf you’re a fan of British-based instrumentalist and producer Paul Hardcastle, you know the number “19” is important to him. It was the name of a 1985 worldwide hit dance song featuring the spoken-word samples of a narrator talking about Vietnam War veterans. As the song makes clear, “19” was the average age of the Vietnam soldier. And Simon Fuller, who was Hardcastle’s manager at the time, would go on to name his entertainment company 19 Management. Fuller then created the British reality series Pop Idol, renamed American Idol in the U.S.

Now, Hardcastle’s management at the Trippin N Rhythm record label is once again noting that Hardcastle’s latest single, “Lucky Star,” is his latest song or CD to debut at No. 19. “Lucky Star,” the first single from the upcoming Hardcastle 5 CD, debuts this week at that lucky number on Radio & Records’ smooth jazz chart. Hardcastle’s management says this is at least the fifth time that one of his songs or CD has debuted at No. 19 on either Radio & Records’ chart or on Billboard’s contemporary jazz chart.

We’ll have to wait to see how the Hardcastle 5 debuts, however, as it won’t be released until Feb. 5.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:08 PM

November 14, 2007

Era Over For Kenny G And Arista; Signs With Concord

KennyG_Smiling07a.jpgKenny G and Arista Records have gone their own ways, ending a 25-year relationship where the saxophonist became the No. 1 selling instrumental artist in history, selling close to 80 million albums worldwide.

The saxophonist has signed a new recording contract with the Concord Music Group, which is also home to Peak Records, co-founded by Russ Freeman of the Rippingtons, and the Heads Up label, which works with many smooth jazz musicians. (It's the second sax coup for Concord recently. In January 2006, another high-profile saxophonist, Boney James, signed to the Concord Music Group after 13 years with Warner Bros.) Kenny G, a close friend of Arista founder Clive Davis, released his debut CD with Arista in 1982 and has compiled 12 No. 1 smooth jazz albums for the label, including his latest titled I’m in the Mood for Love … The Most Romantic Ballads of All Time.

His fifth studio album, “Breathless,” became the No. 1 best selling instrumental album ever, with more than 15 million copies sold, of which 12 million were in the U.S. He broke another record when his first holiday album, Miracles, sold more than 13 million copies, making it the most successful Christmas album to date.

Kenny G's debut CD for Concord, Rhythm and Romance, is scheduled to be released in February.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:35 AM

November 9, 2007

Kenny G Saves A Life On Golf Course

KennyG_Golfer.jpgSaxophonist Kenny G has disclosed that he saved someone’s life at a recent golf tournament in California. It happened when Kenny, an avid golfer who frequently performs in tournaments, spotted someone in a catering tent having who had stopped breathing. Kenny was able to get the person breathing again. Kenny has basic life-saving skills and is knowledgeable about CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver. Kenny also has a defibrillator – which is used to restart a failing heart – at his home, but admits it was a gag gift from his wife for his 50th birthday last year.

The saxophonist's next CD, Rhythm and Romance, will be released in February.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:21 PM

November 8, 2007

Chris Standring Creates Record Label, New CD

Standring_2007LP.jpgFurthering a trend among smooth jazz artists, guitarist Chris Standring has created his own record label, Ultimate Vibe Recordings, which he hopes to develop into a label for niche compilations in the smooth jazz and chill genres. The first CD, however, will be Standring's own and will be released early next year. The new CD, Love & Paragraphs, will be distributed by the ARTizen Music Group, the record label founded by trumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Richard Elliot.

The CD, Standring's fifth, features 10 original songs with his core group of Rodney Lee, Andre Berry, Rico Belled, Eric Valentine, David Karasony, Larry Steen and Jeff Robinson, along with a new vocalist from England, Mary Cassidy. In addition, saxophonist Everette Harp and keyboardist Jeff Lorber have guest appearances. Songs include the title track, “As Luck Would Have It,” “Liquid Soul,” “Ooh Bop” and “CS in the Sunshine.”

"I just want to be in control now," Standring says. "I sell CDs at shows and online now and I need to be able to contractually be able to do that now without having to go through other people and make it happen. Ostensibly this is to release my own albums. But I do intend to get into releasing maybe some niche-market compilation CDs. I’m gonna be very, very cautious about it. I do have an advantage with my Internet marketing experience. I can shift a lot of CDs online, in a way that pretty much everybody else haven’t figured out how to do yet. So it really makes sense for me to be doing this."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:21 PM

October 23, 2007

Brian Culbertson's Next CD: Old-School Funky

CulbertsonPiano07.jpgEarly in November, keyboardist Brian Culbertson will enter the studio to record a brand-new project that he says will be an old-school funk record. The CD will be his follow-up to It’s On Tonight, which he released in July of 2005 on the GRP record label, the same label that will release the as-yet untitled CD. “It’s On Tonight” spent more than 100 weeks on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart and featured the No. 1 smooth jazz hits “Hookin’ Up” and “Let’s Get Started.”

The new CD, to be recorded mostly live in the studio, will have both original and cover songs. Two of the cover songs, which Culbertson says will not be typical of the originals, are the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Band” and David Bowie’s “Fame.” The CD is scheduled to be released in April to coincide with the annual Berks Jazz Festival in Pennsylvania.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:26 PM

October 21, 2007

Upcoming Paul Hardcastle CD Will Have New Vocalist

PAUL-5.jpgBritish-based instrumentalist and producer Paul Hardcastle has finished recording the latest in his Hardcastle CD series, Paul Hardcastle 5. Hardcastle alternates between his Hardcastle and Jazzmasters projects and his last CD, 2006’s Jazzmasters 5, featured the No. 1 smooth jazz hit “Free As the Wind.”

Paul Hardcastle 5 will offer mostly instrumentals and several songs with 25-year-old British vocalist Becki Biggins, who is also a saxophonist. Hardcastle’s previous CDs over the years have generally featured vocalist Helen Rogers, as well as Paul’s daughter Maxine Hardcastle. The 13-track CD features such titles as “Lucky Star,” “In the Beginning,” “Return of the Rainman,” “Don’t You Know” and “Blew My Mind.” Paul Hardcastle 5 is scheduled to be released Jan. 22 by the Trippin N Rhythm label.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 9:10 PM

October 16, 2007

Tom Grant Readies First Smooth Jazz CD Since 2000

GrantTom.jpgKeyboardist and composer Tom Grant, whose 30-year-career has produced such memorable smooth jazz hits singles as “Angels Crossing” and “Change,” is now composing music for a brand-new smooth jazz record that will release on his Nu-Wrinkle record label next year.

The CD will be Tom’s first smooth jazz project since “Tune It In” in 2000, which featured the hit single of the same name. Since that CD, the Portland, Oregon-based musician has release a holiday CD, a solo piano CD, jazz CD and a duets project with vocalist Valerie Day. He also offered a CD titled “Reprise” that featured his best-known songs will all-new arrangements.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 1:53 AM

October 3, 2007

Larry Carlton Reworks His Hits

Carlton_GreatestHits.jpgThree-time Grammy Award-winning guitarist Larry Carlton is now offering a unique retrospective titled Greatest Hits Rerecorded, Volume One. Although artists in the past have reworked songs from the catalog in various ways – such as making electric songs acoustic – Carlton says this is truly different. It is.

To breath new life and spirit into the songs, he re-recorded nine songs with a new rhythm section featuring Jeff Babko on keyboards, Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Paul Cerra on sax and Travis Carlton – who happens to be Carlton's son – on bass. In addition, all of Larry’s guitar solos are different than the originals. Among those songs are “Smiles and Miles to Go,” “Kid Gloves,” “Room 335” and “High Steppin’.” The CD is released on Carlton’s own 335 Records and can be purchased by going to his website at larrycarlton.com.

Highly recommended, and let's hope it isn't too long before Volume Two is offered.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:24 AM | TrackBack

September 24, 2007

Warren Hill Offering Live Show Audio

Several smooth jazz artists have offered songs recorded live in concert as a bonus to their fans. Saxophonist Warren Hill is now taking that one step further: he is putting the audio of several of his live shows online. You can check out excerpts as free downloads or purchase the entire show for $7.99. The shows are in the mp3 format.

Hill has posted four shows online at popjazz.com. They are from the following shows: July 21 in Springfield, OH; July 22 in Atlanta; Aug. 10in Long Beach, CA; and Aug. 14 in Dundee, NY.

Hill will be joining keyboardist Jeff Lorber and guitarist Jeff Golub on the inaugural A Funky Little Christmas tour beginning in November.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:57 AM

September 21, 2007

Kenny G Latin CD To Be Released On Valentine's Day

Kenny G will release a new CD focusing on Latin melodies and sounds on Valentine's Day 2008. Although he has not yet settled on a final track listing, the saxophonist has been playing songs to be included on the CD in recent concerts and says most of the music will be original.

Since releasing the all-new Paradise CD in 2002, the saxophonist has offered two Christmas CDs, a best-of collection, a duets CD and his current I’m In the Mood for Love … The Most Romantic Melodies of All Time. Of course, Kenny has given his fans a taste of Latin music in the past. On 1999’s Classics in the Key of G, for example, he covered Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Desafinado” and “The Girl From Ipanema,” the latter featuring the vocals of Brazilian vocalist Bebel Gilberto. And the Paradise CD featured songs with such titles as “Brazil” and “Spanish Nights.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:51 AM

September 6, 2007

Rick Braun and Richard Elliot Top Both Billboard and R&R Charts

Braun_Elliot_RnR.jpgTrumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Richard Elliot have accomplished a rare feat as they are on top of two prestigious music charts at the same time. Their new CD RnR, released on Aug. 28, has debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart after selling more than 3,500 copies. In addition, the title track from the CD reached the top of the smooth jazz chart based on airplay and determined by the trade publication Radio & Records.

Braun and Elliot have something else to celebrate as well, as RnR is the first No. 1 CD for the ARTizen Music Group, which Braun and Elliot co-founded.

Both chart-topping positions are well-earned, as RnR is one of the strongest of the year. Both players take chances will keeping the groove foremost in mind.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:35 PM

September 3, 2007

Weather Channel Releasing Smooth Jazz CD

For years, viewers of The Weather Channel have been exposed to smooth jazz music through the cable channel’s Local on the 8s segment. Artists have included Dave Koz, Steve Oliver, Brian Hughes, Norman Brown and many others. Now, the first in a planned series of CDs featuring Weather Channel music has been commissioned by Nashville-based Midas Records.

Although the 25-year-old network has previously licensed items ranging from apparel to weather radios to umbrellas, this marks the first time it has entered the licensed-entertainment category. The first in the series, titled The Weather Channel Presents: Best of Smooth Jazz, will be released online and at traditional retailers on Oct. 9.

The CD features several songs that may be familiar to smooth jazz fans: “Shakin’ the Shack” by Koz; “The Gift” by 3rd Force; “Sidewayz” by Najee; “Ocean View” by Pieces of a Dream; “Viaduct” by Four80East; “Santa Monica Triangle” by Jeff Lorber; and “Mildred’s Attraction” by Joyce Cooling.

Although he didn’t make it onto The Weather Channel’s first Smooth Jazz compilation, guitarist Steve Oliver's songs are frequently played on the channel. Who knows - he could make it on the next one. Oliver says he’s always pleasantly surprised to hear his music when tuning in.

"I always watch The Weather Channel beause I like to see what the weather's like in California, or wherever we’re going to the next. So I’m always watching it. Every time I hear it, it's like Oh my God, wait a minute, I know this song. Wait. Oh my gosh, they’re playing this track. And it fits the vibe, you know, while they’re doing the local forecast."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:35 PM

August 16, 2007

Brian Hughes Offers Live CD On Website

Hughes_Brian_Playing.jpgSmooth jazz guitarist extraordinaire Brian Hughes has released his first-ever live recording and it’s titled, simply enough, Live. The eight-song CD, which checks in at more than 72 minutes, was recorded at Maison de la culture Frontenac in Montreal. It features bassist Tim Landers, drummer Tal Bergman, percussionist Ron Powell, and pianist Les Portelli.

Among the CD’s songs are “For You,” “The Beat,” “Omaha Unbound” and “Thinking of You.” Live is being offered exclusively at Brian’s website at brianhughes.com. You can either purchase the entire CD or just individual songs.

There may be more Hughes music in store. A show in Los Angeles on Aug. 11 was recorded, and Hughes says he hopes to offer a DVD of it later this year.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:58 AM

August 11, 2007

New Chieli Minucci Music Available Only In Digital Format

Minucci.jpgChieli Minucci is offering a new CD of never-released material, but you won’t find it in a record store. The guitarist has released a CD titled Travels as a digital download only on his website, chielimusic.com, the second time he has done so. Minucci says the music is separate from his Special EFX sound, although it overlaps stylistically. The music is a compilation of two projects, both of which are long-form compositions originally used for pre-show music for the theatrical productions Dora the Explorer – Live, Go, Diego Go - Live and Thomas and His Friends – Thomas Saves the Day.

Minucci says he's now put much more of a personal touch to these pieces, and they transcended their original purpose. The compositions are "Journey,"which has three parts, and “Bienvenidos” which has five. Each of the eight compositions are $1 each.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:32 PM

August 8, 2007

Chris Botti Bonus DVD To Have Plenty Of Extras

Botti_Italia.jpgOn Sept. 25, trumpeter Chris Botti will offer his fans a special version of his Italia CD that comes with a DVD. This extra version features four exclusive bonus audio tracks from the Italia session. The songs are “Emmanuel,” which Botti originally recorded for The Young and the Restless soap opera and has only been available online to this point; a version of Miles Davis’ “Sketches of Spain”; “If I Loved You” with vocals by Paula Cole; and the standard “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” which has been covered most famously by Vic Damone and also the Platters.

The DVD will also take you through recording and photo sessions with footage of Botti recording Italia in London, Los Angeles, and Italy. You can also go behind the scenes with Botti and Andrea Bocelli in Italy as they rehearse their duet "Italia" and see Botti recording "Nessun Dorma" and "The Way You Look Tonight" in London with a full orchestra. Also included will be interviews with Botti, songwriter David Foster and producer Bobby Colomby.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:48 PM

August 3, 2007

Peter White Christmas CD Songs Selected; Tour Dates Set

White_Xmas.jpgGuitarist Peter White, trumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Mindi Abair have selected and are recording the songs for their first-ever holiday CD tied into the annual A Peter White Christmas tour, which features all three artists. The CD is tentatively scheduled to be released on Sept. 11 by the ARTizen Music Group, co-founded by Braun and saxophonist Richard Elliot.

White, Braun and Abair, in addition to playing their chosen instruments – White will also play the harmonica – will also be handling lead vocals on A Peter White Christmas With Rick Braun and Mindi Abair, whose songs include “The Christmas Song,” “Greensleeves, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and medleys of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town/Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “Happy Christmas/O Holy Night.” In addition, guest vocalist Jeffrey Osborne is featured on “Silent Night” and other guest artists include bassists Brian Bromberg and Nate Phillips, percussionist Lenny Castro, keyboardist Ron Reinhardt and drummer and vocalist Rayford Griffin.

The CD is representative of the live show and also has Abair's original song "I Can't Wait for Christmas" and a new original from the saxophonist titled "The Best Part of Christmas." You can also hear White's arrangement of "The Christmas Song" and "River," as well as Braun's arrangements of "Jingle Jingle Blues" and "The Little Drummer Boy," among many others.

Ninenteen shows have just been announced so far for this year’s A Peter White Christmas, which begins Nov. 24 in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Peter White Christmas With Rick Braun and Mindi Abair

The Little Drummer Boy
The Christmas Song
I Can't Wait For Christmas
Greensleeves (What Child is This)
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
River
Jingle Jangle Blues
Silent Night
The Best Part of Christmas
Santa Claus is Coming to Town/Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
White Christmas
Happy Christmas/O Holy Night

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:35 PM

July 19, 2007

Smooth Cruise Names New Host: Norman Brown

Brown_N_Standing.jpgGuitarist Norman Brown, whose "Let’s Take A Ride” is the No. 1 Smooth Jazz song in the country, has been named the new host of the 2008 All-Star Smooth Cruise, formerly the All-Star Smooth Jazz Cruise. Until recently, keyboardist Brian Culbertson was set to host the cruise, which will depart from San Diego in January, for the second year in a row. Trumpeter Rick Braun hosted the inaugural year.

The change is due to new management, Haven Entertainment, which bought the rights to the cruise from AAI Events. As part of the change, Haven Entertainment is going through the process of re-selecting artists to perform. As of now, in addition to Brown, confirmed performers include jam-show host Nick Colionne, Marion Meadows, Paul Taylor, Chieli Minucci and Boney James. A full list of performers is expected to be announced shortly on the cruise website at allstarcruise.com.

Because of the changes, those who have already made deposits will be able to get a full refund if they wish, and Haven Entertainment will be sending out an e-mail to those people soon.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:31 AM

July 17, 2007

Larry Carlton Creates 335 Records

Carlton_L_07.jpgThree-time Grammy Award-winning guitarist and Fourplay member Larry Carlton, saying he has announced his independence from established record labels, has now created his own. The name of Carlton’s new independent label is no surprise – 335 Records. Carlton is known by his many fans as Mr. 335 due to his 1969 Gibson ES-335 guitar, which he first played in the early 1970s with the legendary Crusaders. Anyone can now purchase a guitar built by the famed Gibson guitar company named ES-335. In addition, Room 335 is the name of the studio that Larry built several years ago at his home near Nashville.

The first CD offered by 335 Records is Live in Tokyo, which Carlton recorded with fellow guitarist guitarist Robben Ford. It's available on his website. Carlton’s next solo CD will be with his own label, and he is also expected to sign artist to release their music on the label, as well.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:08 AM

July 12, 2007

Candy Dulfer Getting Married In 2008

Candy%20Dulfer%20-%20%20Carin%20Verbruggen%20photography%20and%20concept%20Ferry%20Drenthem%20Soesman%2002_5x7.jpgThirty-eight-year-old Dutch saxophonist Candy Dulfer has announced that she is engaged to her longtime boyfriend and bandmember Thomas Bank.

They plan to marry sometime next year in the garden of their home, a converted barn north of Amsterdam. Dulfer and Bank have been boyfriend and girlfriend for more than a decade.

It was back in 1996 that Bank, who plays keyboards and co-writes songs, first appeared on Dulfer’s music, performing on her CD Big Girl. Bank is the primary producer on Dulfer's upcoming CD, Candy Store, her debut for the Heads Up record label that will be available on Sept. 18.

"We want to get married in our own garden," Dulfer says. "We want to have fun and a party and a band. We might even play ourselves. We’re not in a hurry."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:36 AM

July 1, 2007

Object Thrown From Kenny G's House Injures Girl

We’re learning more about an incident that occurred on the beach in front of Kenny G’s Malibu house that injured a young girl. On June 23, a girl visiting Little Dume Beach with her family was struck in the head with an object allegedly thrown from the property belonging to the famed saxophonist. Brooke Porter, who is 9, was visiting the beach with her family and suffered a bleeding injury to her head. After the incident, Brooke’s father, Bart Porter, jumped over the fence of Kenny’s estate and was met by Kenny’s wife, Lyndie Benson, who later acknowledged that someone had indeed thrown something from her house.

However, Benson disputes the father’s claim that it was a rock that was thrown at his daughter and that it was intentional. He claims that whoever threw the items targeted Brooke and her brother, a 12-year-old with Down Syndrome and autism. Benson says the object was a rolled up PowerBar, and that a friend of her 13-year-old son, Max, threw it. Benson paid for the young girl’s treatment at the Malibu Urgent Care, where she received four stitches and is scheduled to undergo an MRI. An investigation is being conducted by the local sheriff’s department, while Bart Porter is filing a lawsuit and considering filing criminal charges.

We know that Kenny wasn’t at the house at the time of the incident. He was in Bend, Oregon, performing at the grand opening of a new golf course.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:04 PM

June 28, 2007

Michael Lington Wants Your Memories

Lington_Stairs_Big.jpgWhat is your favorite memory of Michael Lington? The smooth jazz saxophonist wants to know. In 50 words or less, you can share your experience with Michael by emailing to teamlington@yahoo.com. Include your name, address and email address. Several people’s memories will be chosen to be included in a future edition of Lington’s newsletter, which he emails to those subscribing to his mailing list at michaellington.com.

Lington is now creating some memories of his own as he is composing songs for a new CD to follow-up last year’s project of his favorite cover tunes, A Song For You. The new CD, which will feature the songwriting and producing talents of Michael Sembello, who collaborated with Lington on 2004’s Stay With Me CD, will have Latin, pop and R&B elements. The saxophonist says all the songs will be originals and there will be a few vocal tunes.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:40 AM

June 20, 2007

Rendezvous Offers Free CD By Svoy

Rendezvous Entertainment, which was co-founded by Dave Koz and is now celebrating its five-year anniversary, has decided on a unique avenue to gain exposure for its latest signing, the single-named artist Svoy. The label has decided to offer the artist’s entire CD titled Eclectric as a free download through Aug. 15.

Although many record labels offer a song or two for free, offering an entire CD free of charge is Rendezvous’ attempt to get people to listen to an artist it feels strongly about. Eclectric, originally released on May 1, is an intriguing mixture of pop vocals and chill tunes from the Russian-born artist who studied at the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston and now lives in New York.

To take advantage of the offer, go to freesvoy.com. Anyone with a valid email address can download the entire album in unrestricted mp3 format. You will be asked to supply your e-mail address for directions of how to download it. In addition, in an attempt to get others to hear the CD, you will be asked to give the e-mails of three people you think might be interested.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:47 PM

June 5, 2007

Abair, Braun And White Plan Holiday CD

For the past few years, fans have been treated to holiday music by guitarist Peter White, trumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Mindi Abair during the annual A Peter White Christmas tour. Now, the trio is collaborating on a Christmas CD that will be offered in time for this year’s tour, the fifth overall. It will be released by the ARTizen Music Group, co-founded by Braun.

The CD will be representative of the live show and will include Abair's original song "I Can't Wait for Christmas" and a new original from the saxophonist titled "The Best Part of Christmas." You can also expect White's arrangement of "The Christmas Song" and "River," as well as Braun's arrangements of "Jingle Blues" and "Little Drummer Boy," among many others.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:23 PM

June 4, 2007

Marc Antoine's New CD Returns To Classic Style

antoine_2007_sjv.jpgMarc Antoine, who has scored five No. 1 Smooth Jazz singles with his trademark acoustic Latin and flamenco guitar sounds, has wrapped up a new CD titled Hi-Lo Split. The CD, his eighth overall, marks a return to Antoine's smooth nylon-guitar sounds and is his first for Peak Records. His previous CD, 2005’s Modern Times, experimented with hip-hop and techno rhythms.

Featured are 11 songs, including titles such as “For a Smile,” “Silk & Steel,” “Cancun Blue,” “Tomorrow” and a cover of the Classic IV’s classic hit single from 40 years ago, “Spooky.” Antoine, who lives in Spain, used mostly local musicians for the CD, including keyboardist Frederic Gaillardet, bassist Andre Manga, trumpeter Manuel Machado and saxophonist Bobby Martinez.

Hi-Lo Split, named after a type of poker game, will be available July 24.

Hi-Lo Split

For a Smile (Antoine) – 4:14
Hi-Lo Split (Antoine) – 5:23
Spooky (Buie/Cobb/Middlebrooks/Shapiro) – 4:03
Silk & Steel (Antoine) – 5:00
Cancun Blue (Antoine) – 4:47
Groovin' High (Antoine) – 4:43
Forever (Antoine) – 5:31
Panacea (Antoine/Stevens) – 6:26
Bossalectro (Antoine) – 4:11
Voodoo Dool (Antoine) – 5:07
Tomorrow (Antoine) – 4:08

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:43 PM

May 24, 2007

Dave Koz's Secret Symphony Gig

KozBlog.jpgYou won’t find Dave Koz’s three shows in Nashville beginning May 24 listed on his website. He’s not the headliner, just a special guest. But Koz says his appearance with the Nashville Symphony is a culmination of a life-long dream as it’s his debut live performance with an orchestra.

The three performances are titled Mancini at the Movies and feature conductor Albert-George Schram and vocalist Monica Mancini. Mancini, the daughter of the late, famed composer Henry Mancini, will be performing songs that her father composed specifically for the movies. Two of those songs, “The Pink Panther” and “Moon River,” are featured on Koz’s At the Movies CD and will be performed by the saxophonist.

"To me, this is like a dream come true," says Koz. "This is what I want to do. I mean, you want to talk about doing movie music with an actual orchestra in a beautiful performing arts center. It doesn’t get any better than that, so I’m very excited this facet of my career."


Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:45 PM

Pick Warren Hill's Next Single On PopJazz Site

HIlWarrenPop.jpgSaxophonist Warren Hill has unveiled a new website, popjazz.com, that he says can benefit both musicians and fans. The site’s main feature is to allow musicians to have a presence on the site to let their fans know about their music, touring and news.

Those already on the site include Chieli Minucci, Ray Parker Jr., Don Grusin, Andre Berry, Will Donato and Allen Hinds. All the content is free to access, however there is a subscription option for fans who want to access an online jukebox and to get other perks. Hill says the site is already getting a few thousands hits a day.

Those who go to the site now can help pick the next single that Hill will offer to radio: the original Gimme Some or his cover of the Doors' Light My Fire. Those who vote on the songs, which will be on Warren's next CD, will be then given the option to download both for free.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 12:31 AM

May 16, 2007

Dave Koz Confirms Next Project: His Third Holiday Album

You won’t have to wait another three years for a new CD from saxophonist Dave Koz. Koz Koz_2007New.jpghas confirmed that he has already begun work on a holiday CD to be released in time for the Christmas holidays. The as-yet titled project comes 10 years after Koz released his first CD of holiday songs, December Makes Me Feel This Way. His second, A Smooth Jazz Christmas, was offered in 2001. Two songs are confirmed for the new project: "Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “Deck the Halls.” Both have new arrangements by pianist Brian Culbertson. Versions of the two songs have previously been available through the Best Buy stores’ Sweet Tracks holiday promotion, with “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” offered in 2006 and “Deck the Halls” in 2004.

Koz says the CD will be in stores before the beginning of this year’s Dave Koz & Friends: At the Movies Christmas Tour. "When I think of the most beautiful Christmas songs and songs of the holidays, it’s always more of that kind of intimate and warm and inviting feeling," Koz says. "Christmas music for me has always been like that wonderful blanket that you can put on. It just makes you feel great all over. And some of the songs are a little upbeat and fun, but for the most part it’s like Bing Crosby singing ‘White Christmas’ or ‘The Christmas Song’ by Nat King Cole. Or Ella Fitzgerald singing any song around Christmastime. It’s more about that classic sound that just puts you in that holiday spirit."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:58 AM

May 11, 2007

Kelly Sweet To Join Dave Koz Summer Tour

Saxophonist Dave Koz has added another member to the 2007 edition of the Dave Koz & Sweet_Kelly.jpg Friends: A Smooth Summer Night tour: Kelly Sweet. The 19-year-old from vocalist from Utah has a smooth jazz hit with the song “Raincoat,” a selection from her debut album released in March, We Are One. Koz is featured on the song on a version mixed especially for smooth jazz radio. Says Koz: "The first I heard of her was when played at her manager’s wedding. When they were doing a smooth jazz version of her hit single ‘Raincoat,’ they wanted me to play on it. So I heard it and I was like, absolutely, I’d love to do this."

Sweet will join previously two previously announced performers, pianist David Benoit and vocalist Phil Perry. Sweet has already performed more than 500 concerts in the U.S., including opening gigs for Anita Baker, Paul Simon and Kenny Loggins.

Each show on the tour will be a "double feature," with the performers playing their respective hits during the first half of the show, then joining together on numerous selections from Koz's At The Movies CD. Koz and Sweet will debut on Sweet’s “Raincoat.” Playing keyboards and serving as musical director is pianist Brian Simpson. Rounding out the band are Bill Sharpe on bass, Stevo Theard on drums and Randy Jacobs on guitar. The tour launches June 3 in Columbia, MD, and wraps up at the Hollywood Bowl on Aug. 19.


Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:20 PM

May 4, 2007

Norman Brown Finally Gets To Top Of Charts

Brown_Norman_Sideways.jpgGrammy Award-winning guitarist Norman Brown has just accomplished something that has eluded him his entire career: a No. 1 record. Brown's debut CD Stay With Me for Peak Records entered Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart at the top spot after selling more than 7,000 copies, ahead of Simply Red’s new CD Stay. Four previous albums by Brown – Just Chillin’, Celebration, Better Days Ahead and After the Storm – reached as high as No. 2.

In addition, Stay With Me entered the Billboard 200 charts at No. 107, giving him another career highlight – it’s the highest-charting release for Brown, who has made the Billboard 200 chart on three previous occasions. The CD also debuted at No. 28 on the R&B charts.

One of the reasons Brown has expanded his audience beyond the smooth jazz market is that he's been able to capitalize on his vocals.

"I've always felt like I could do what a lot of the great jazz artists in the past have done," he says. "Starting with Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole and into the future with George Benson. People like this were able to bring a whole new audience over to instrumental music because they were singing. So I’ve been finding the right songs, which has been successful so far."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 11:00 PM

May 2, 2007

Jeff Kashiwa's New CD Is A Stunner

Kashiwa_07.jpgGet ready to be blown away. Saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa has finished recording tracks for a brand-new CD titled Play!, which will be his sixth overall and fourth for the Native Language label. Kashiwa says the CD’s title comes from his decision to let his sax take on an even more prominent role than it has in the past. And, for the first time, Kashiwa only plays one sax throughout the CD, the deep-sounding tenor. Play! features all original songs, including “The Lucky One,” “Changes,” “Blue Jeans,” “New View” and “Remember When.” In addition, Acoustic Alchemy guitarist Miles Gilderdale co-wrote and performs on the the song “Movin’ Up.”

"I was searching for a title for the CD,and I didn’t want it to be so thought-provoking and so heavy," Kashiwa says. "Not to belittle the music in any kind of way; I’m very proud of this album. But people always ask me, what’s the album like? And my answer is: I wanted to play more on this album. You know, dig in, really get into my horn and play, as if you were seeing me live. No more of the polite eight-bar solos. I really want to extend them."

Kashiwa's band includes Dave Hooper on drums, Melvin Davis on bass and Allen Hinds on guitar. Joining the core trio is guest Russ Ferrante of the Yellowjackets on keyboards. The new CD will be released on July 17th.

Having heard the CD in its entirety, I can tell you that it's one of the best sax records of the 2000s as Kashiwa forgoes the safe route and plays like his life depends on it.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:42 AM

April 27, 2007

New Grover Washington Jr. Live CD To Be Released

A new CD by the late saxophonist Grover Washington Jr., capturing a live performance in 1994 at the famed Monterey Jazz Festival, will be the first release by a new record label created in conjunction with the festival’s 50th anniversary in September.

The never-before-heard release – Washington’s one and only performance at the festival, held five years before his death at age 56 from a heart attack – will be offered by Monterey Jazz Festival Records in partnership with the Concord Music Group. Washington’s CD, which is untitled at this point, will be released on July 31, along with other never-been-heard live recordings from Monterey by Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Shirley Horn.

You can expect more releases, as the festival has more than 1,600 tapes with more than 2,000 hours of concerts in its archives. In fact, the next round of recordings is expected to offered in September.

The band features Washington on tenor, alto, and soprano saxophones; music director Bill Jolly on keyboards and vocals; Donald Robinson on keys; Richard Lee Steacker on guitar; Lanar Brantley on bass; Steven Wolf on drums; and Pablo Batista on congas and percussion.

Track Listing

Black Frost - 8:19
Gramercy Park - 5:58
Brand New Age - 5:58
When I Fall in Love 6:54
Please Send Me Someone to Love 5:00
Take Five (Take Another Five) - 10:50
MEDLEY:
Winelight - 1:23
Inner City Blues - :46
Jammin’ - :59
Ain’t No Sunshine - 1:07
East River Drive - 2:03
Inside Moves - 1:11
Lock It in the Pocket - 1:00
Just the Two of Us - 1:53
Sausalito - 4:58

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:46 AM

April 22, 2007

Mindi Abair Taking Over Chris Botti Chill Show

After hosting the nationally syndicated radio show Chill With Chris Botti Abair_Outside.jpg since September of 2004, trumpeter Chris Botti has decided to hand over hosting duties to saxophonist Mindi Abair. Mindi, who says she excited about her new job as she loves chill music and has always aspired to get into radio, will officially take over the first week of May.

Abair and Botti have already co-hosted a few shows together this month that were recorded from Botti’s room at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. Chill music, which developed on the beaches in Café del Mar on the Spanish island of Ibiza, draws its roots from smooth jazz, dance, electronica, pop, new age, trance and techno music. Today, the music is best-known through artists such as Praful Zero 7, Adani & Wolf, Tosca and Moby.

The new "Chill With Mindi Abair" radio show is a product of Rendezvous Entertainment, Broadcast Architecture and Crystal Media, the same group that syndicates The Dave Koz Radio Show.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:50 AM

April 16, 2007

Will Downing Diagnosed With Debilitating Muscle Disorder

Vocalist Will Downing has cancelled touring for the immediate future after being diagnosed with a disorder called polymyositis, a debilitating chronic inflammatory disease of the muscles that can possibly lead to the point where those afflicted are no longer walk or move their bodies. Its cause is unknown. Downing, 46, has been hospitalized since January.

Although polymyositis can occur at any age, it mostly affects adults in their 40s and 50s. It is more common in blacks than in whites, and women are diagnosed more often than men. According to the Mayo Clinic, periods of remission, during which signs and symptoms improve spontaneously, rarely occur in polymyositis. However, treatment can improve muscle strength and function.

Downing says that he first came down with symptoms over the holidays when he felt extremely tired and sick. He adds that his fear of doctors kept him from discovering what his affliction was. However, the singer says he is now in rehabilitation and working to get himself back in shape. He’s moving slowly, but he’s moving nonetheless and is thankful for that and for the fact that his voice so far has not been affected.

Downing says he still plans to release a new CD this September on Peak Records, which was co-founded by Russ Freeman of the Rippingtons.

Our best wishes go out to Will and his family as he learns to live with the disease.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:43 PM

April 11, 2007

Chris Botti Going Italian For New CD

Chris Botti's upcoming CD will have an Italian theme. Botti has been in a London studio recording with an orchestra on 18 songs, although not at of them are scheduled to be included on the still-untitled project, scheduled to be released this fall. A few of the tunes being worked on include "The Mission," "Caruso," "Nessun Dorma" and "Don't Give Up,” the latter originally written and recorded by Peter Gabriel.

“The Mission” was written by famed composer Ennio Morricone for the 1986 motion picture starring Robert DeNiro. “Caruso,” written by Lucio Dalla 21 years ago to honor the famed Italian opera singer, has been recorded by many, including trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, guitarist and vocalist Oscar Castro-Neves and vocalist Josh Groban. And "Nessun Dorma” is an aria from the final act of Puccini’s opera titled Turandot and has been recorded by pianist Ramsey Lewis, vocalist Sarah Brightman and several others.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:53 AM

April 5, 2007

Denny Jiosa Offering Free Downloads

Guitarist Denny Jiosa has released five great smooth jazz CDs, including his last in 2002 titled Body 2 Body. He has spent the past few years producing and appearing on other’s CDs, but is now working on a new one of his own. To get his fans excited about his new project, the Nashville-based musician has started an online campaign called the JiosaJazz A-List. Those who subscribe to the mailing list at jiosajazz.com will receive monthly free downloads of Jiosa's past music, special discounts to members only and pre-release availability of Jiosa's upcoming music.

The first song to be offered as a free download is one of his best: "Lights of the City," taken from his 1996 CD titled Inner Voices. The song was Jiosa’s biggest smooth jazz hit.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:08 AM

March 27, 2007

Wayman Tisdale Recovering From Cancerous Cyst

Our best wishes go out today to smooth jazz bassist Wayman Tisdale, who is undergoing treatment to remove a cancerous cyst from his fibula, according to his manager Earl Cole and his record label, Rendezvous Entertainment. Wayman suffered a leg injury last month due to a fall in his home. After an extensive series of tests, doctors determined that the cause of the injury was a cancerous cyst isolated to a bone in his leg.

Tisdale says his recovery will be 100 percent, and that he has been told that he is otherwise cancer-free. To recover properly, he has cancelled all of his scheduled appearances for 2007 but plans to be able to resume touring in time for his Smooth Jazz Cruise in January of 2008. He is also planning a new album, which he is tentatively titling Rebound. It will be the follow-up to his current CD Way Up, which features the current Top 5 hit of the same name.

Get well soon, Wayman.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:54 PM

March 19, 2007

Chieli Minucci's Father Passes Away

Minucci_Father.jpgAlthough Chieli Minucci is celebrating another Daytime Emmy Award nomination and the release of a brand-new album, he is also mourning the death of his father. Ulpio Minucci died at his home in Brentwood, California, at age 89, on March 9. Born in Italy, Ulpio emigrated from Italy to the United States in the 1930s after studying at the Santa Cecilia Music Conservatory in Rome and earning a doctorate of law from the University of Palermo. He wrote many songs in his career, including “A Thousand Thoughts of You” performed by Nat “King” Cole and “Domani,” performed by Bing Crosby. In addition to being an A&R representative in charge of talent for Columbia Records, Ulpio composed the theme and musical score for the 1985 animated television series Robotech, as well as the ABC series Saga of Western Man.

On his 2005 CD Got It Goin’ On, Chieli paid tribute to his father with an instrumental song that Ulpio had written called “Love Is Always Young.” It wasn’t the first time Chieli had rearranged one of his father’s songs – he also did it with a song called “Mountains” on his debut solo album from 1994 called Jewels. In addition to Chieli, Ulpio is survived by his wife of 55 years, Catherine, daughter Nina, and three grandchildren.

Photo credit: Bettie Miner, 10/06 (MinerWorksofArt.com)

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:13 PM

March 7, 2007

Norman Brown Finishes First CD For Peak Records

Grammy Award-winning guitarist Norman Brown has just finished his seventh solo album and his first for Peak Records, which was co-founded by Russ Freeman of the Rippingtons. The CD, Stay With Me, is Brown's follow-up to 2004’s West Coast Coolin’. The new CD has 10 songs, most written or co-written by Brown. In addition to playing the guitar, Brown will once again show off his vocal skills.

The album gets its title from a song written by Brian McKnight, who sings on the song with Brown. Also guest starring on the CD are saxophonist Kirk Whalum, trumpeter Rick Braun and guitarist Paul Brown. In fact, Brown, Whalum and Braun all perform on the song “It Ain’t Over BWB.” BWB was the name of the group featuring the trio that released a CD in 2002 titled Groovin’.   Other songs on the all-original CD include “Let’s Take a Ride,” “So in Love,” “You Keep Lifting Me Higher” and “Every Little Thing.”

Stay With Me will be released on April 24.

Stay With Me Track Listing
1. Let’s Take A Ride (Norman Brown) - (4:59)
2. You Keep Lifting Me Higher (Norman Brown/Lloyd Tolbert/Nikkole Hall) - 4:18
3. Pop’s Cool Groove (Paul Brown/Norman Brown/Jeff Carruthers) - 4:24
4. It Ain’t Over BWB (Norman Brown) - 4:37
5. So In Love (Norman Brown) - 5:58
6. Stay With Me (Brian McKnight) - 3:32
7. Soul Dance (Jeff Carruthers/Norman Brown/Paul Brown) - 4:14
8. Every Little Thing (Norman Brown) - 4:43
9. A Quiet Place (Norman Brown) - 3:49
10. I Need You (Norman Brown/Kenneth Williams) - 4:49

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:33 AM

February 23, 2007

Acoustic Alchemy's New CD Due In June

Acoustic Alchemy has completed a new album called This Way, which follows the band’s American/English project from 2005. Once again, the group led by the British guitar duo of Greg Carmichael and Miles Gilderdale recorded most of the album at the legendary Hansa Haus studios in Germany, but also utilized two studios in London and one in York, England.

The album includes all original songs, with titles including “Love Is All There Is,” “Who Knows,” “Slampop,” “Tied Up With String” and “Only In My Dreams.” In addition to guest stars Rick Braun on trumpet on the song “Carlos and the King” and Jeff Kashiwa on saxophone on the tune “Egg,” band members include Neil Cowley on piano, Snake Davis on sax, Terry Disley on piano, Greg Grainger on drums, Fred White on trumpet and Julian Crampton on bass.

This Way will be released on June 5.

This Way Track Listing

1. Love Is All There Is (G.Carmichael/M.Gilderdale) - 4:22
2. Ernie (G.Carmichael/M.Gilderdale) - 6:34
3. Who Knows (G.Carmichael/M. Gilderdale/A.H.White) - 3:56
4. Slampop (G.Carmichael/M.Gilderdale) - 4:47
5. Out of Nowhere (G.Carmichael/M.Gilderdale) - 3:38
6. This Way (G.Carmichael/M.Gilderdale) - 4:41
7. Tied Up With String (G.Carmichael/M.Gilderdale) - 5:12
8. Only In My Dreams (G.Carmichael/ M.Gilderdale) - 5:52
9. Carlos the King (G.Carmichael/ M.Gilderdale) - 5:52
10. Egg (G.Carmichael/M.Gilderdale/A.H.White) - 5:11
11. Now I'm On My Way (G.Carmichael/M.Gilderdale) - 4:44

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:54 AM

February 21, 2007

Wayman Tisdale Breaks A Leg

Smooth jazz bassist Wayman Tisdale, who broke his right leg late last week at his home in Southern California, is now recuperating. Tisdale was already getting some rest after undergoing outpatient Lap-Band surgery to take off at least 100 pounds. The accident forced Wayman to cancel shows on Feb. 16 and Feb. 17 in Las Vegas at the Boulder Station Casino that were tied into the NBA All-Star game, which the former pro basketball player had planned to attend but was also forced to miss.

Although Tisdale is using crutches to help him get around, he still plans to perform March 4 at the Return to Romance music festival in Honolulu. He’ll be performing songs from his latest CD, Way Up, which featured the No. 1 smooth jazz hit “Get Down on It.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:21 PM

February 15, 2007

Eldee Young, Original Member Of Ramsey Lewis Trio, Dies In Thailand

YoungHoltUnlimited.JPEGEldee Young, the original bass player for the Ramsey Lewis Trio, has died. Young, who was 71, suffered a heart attack on Monday, Feb. 12, in Thailand, where he was performing.

It was in 1954 that Young, pianist Lewis and drummer Isaac “Red” Holt, who were high-school friends in Chicago, formed a jazz trio originally called the Gentlemen of Swing. They soon became known as the Ramsey Lewis Trio. In the mid-1960s, shortly after performing on the classic songs “The In Crowd” and “Hang on Sloopy,” Young and Holt left the trio to form Young-Holt Unlimited and scored a smash hit instrumental single in 1969 with "Soulful Strut." That famous tune was originally the backing track for soul singer Barbara Acklin's song "Am I the Same Girl."

Lewis replaced Young and Holt with bassist Cleveland Eaton and drummer Maurice White, who later formed Earth, Wind and Fire. The current Ramsey Lewis Trio lineup consists of Lewis, bassist Larry Gray and drummer Leon Joyce. The trio begins a tour on March 18 and will be performing for much of the year.

Young is survived by his wife, three sons and a sister.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:37 AM

February 12, 2007

George Benson And Al Jarreau Win 2 Grammys

The powerhouse duo of George Benson and Al Jarreau picked up two awards for songs on their Givin' It Up album at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 11 in Los Angeles. “Mornin’,” a former No. 1 Smooth Jazz hit, won for Best Pop Instrumental Performance, while “God Bless the Child,” which features vocalist Jill Scott, won in the Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance category. Benson now has 10 Grammys for his career, while Jarreau has seven.

Enya won her fourth Grammy in the Best New Age Album category for Amarantine, while Tony Bennett’s Duets: an American Classic – featuring performances by Diana Krall and Chris Botti – won for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. Other winners: Best Pop Instrumental Album, Fingerprints, by Peter Frampton; Best Contemporary Jazz Album, The Hidden Land, by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones; Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group, The Ultimate Adventure, by Chick Corea; Best Jazz Vocal Album, Turned to Blue, by Nancy Wilson; and Best Surround Sound Album, Morph the Cat, by Donald Fagen.

Finally, the late saxophonist Michael Brecker won two Grammys for his album "Some Skunk Funk."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:22 AM

February 8, 2007

Simply Red's Mick Hucknall Will Be First-Time Dad

mickandgabriella.jpgMick Hucknall, founder of the band Simply Red, has announced that he will soon become a father for the first time. Hucknall, who is 46, and his partner Gabriella Wesberry, who speaks six languages and is in her 30s, are expecting a daughter in June. The couple began dating in 1995 but broke up due to Hucknall’s constant touring schedule with Simply Red. They got back together in 2003. Wesberry is the director of Hucknall’s wine company, which has a vineyard on the slopes of Mt. Etna in Italy.

Hucknall, the British-born singer who has homes in England, France and Italy, has earned quite a reputation in the past as a ladies’ man by dating some of the world's most glamorous women, including actresses Catherine Zeta-Jones and Brigitte Nielsen, as well as tennis player Steffi Graf. Hucknall, who has never married, has said that he may one day consider marriage, but only after he had kids.

Hucknall and Simply Red are looking forward to the March 12 release of a new album, Stay, which features the smooth jazz hit “So Not Over You.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:10 AM

February 6, 2007

Jeff Lorber's New CD: He Had A Hat

Grammy-nominated keyboardist and producer Jeff Lorber has just wrapped up production of a brand-new CD that is mixed by Paul Brown and produced by Blood, Sweat & Tears original member Bobby Columby, who produced the last two best-selling CDs by trumpeter Chris Botti.

The CD, He Had a Hat, is a 13-song project with 10 songs co-written by himself and Columby. The CD, due in April, also features a tune written by Bill Withers, “Grandma’s Hands,” that features vocalist Eric Benet. Another song, “Orchid,” is co-written by Botti and features soloing by the trumpeter. “The Other Side of the Heart,” co-written by Paula Cole, features Cole and Benet on vocals. Among the other new songs are “Anthem for a New America,” “All Most Blues,” “BC Bop,” “Hudson” and “Super Fusion Unit.”

Guest artists include Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, Brian Bromberg, Randy Brecker, Paul Jackson Jr., the Blood Sweat and Tears horn section, Hubert Laws and Tom Scott.

He Had a Hat Track Listing

1. Anthem for a New America (Jeff Lorber/Bobby Columby)
2. He Had a Hat (Jeff Lorber/Bobby Columby)
3. Grandma's Hands (Bill Withers)
4. Surreptitious (Jeff Lorber/Bobby Columby)
5. All Most Blues (Jeff Lorber/Bobby Columby)
6. Orchid (Jeff Lorber/Chris Botti)
7. BC Bop (Jeff Lorber/Bobby Columby)
8. The Other Side of the Heart (Paula Cole/Jeff Lorber)
9. Hudson (Jeff Lorber/Bobby Columby)
10. Super Fusion Unit (Jeff Lorber/Bobby Columby)
11. Eye Tunes (Jeff Lorber/Bobby Columby)
12. Requiem for Gandalf (Jeff Lorber/Bobby Columby)
13. Burn Brightly (Jeff Lorber/Bobby Columby)

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:52 PM

February 2, 2007

Dave Koz Selected For Oscars' Governors Ball

This year's Academy Awards official after-party, also known as the Governors Ball, has called on saxophonist Dave Koz to perform as the featured artist before the elite of Hollywood. The show in the Grand Ballroom of the Hollywood and Highland Center will commence immediately following the 79th Academy Awards telecast on Feb. 25. Koz, who just released a CD of Oscar-nominated and winning scores titled At the Movies, will perform for the Ball’s 1,500 Academy Award winners and nominees, show presenters, telecast participants and other distinguished guests.

Koz will be accompanied by 19-year-old jazz vocalist Erin Boheme, whose debut CD in 2006 was produced by bassist Brian Bromberg. She will join Koz on the songs "A Whole New World,” "It Might Be You," "Somewhere Out There" and "The Way We Were."

Koz’s performance will mark the second year in a row that a smooth jazz artist has performed before Hollywood’s biggest stars. Saxophonist Mindi Abair, along with vocalist Patti Austin and saxophonist Tom Scott, took the stage at last year’s Governors Ball.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:42 PM

February 1, 2007

Brenda Russell Is A Happy Grandmother

BR-Nehemiah.jpgVocalist and composer Brenda Russell has some great news she wants to share: She’s a first-time grandmother. Russell's daughter, Lindsay Walker, had her first baby on Jan. 26, a boy that she and her husband, Jonas Walker, named Nehemiah. The baby, born at a Los Angeles area hospital, checked in at 8 pounds, 9 ounces. Lindsay, who is 30, and Jonas were married in April of 2004. Russell was in the delivery room as Nehemiah was born and reports that he is healthy and happy.

"Yes, we are very much excited in our family," Russell says. "I’m already the doting grandmother. It’s pathetic. I now understand why they have all these silly signs on people’s cars. I’m the happy grandparent or whatever. I get it. It’s a life-changing experience. It’s so profound to see how generations just keep coming. It’s an amazing thing you have to experience to really get it, you know?"

Lindsay Walker is a talented singer and songwriter who performed background vocals on Brenda’s hit single titled “Catch On,” in addition to performing background vocals for Smokey Robinson on tour.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:18 AM

January 30, 2007

Organization To Honor Pat Metheny Family With Sculpture

A new organization has been created in the name of one of the most respected guitarists in the entire music industry. The Metheny Music Foundation, named after the family of Grammy Award winner Pat Metheny, will aim to boost the music education and profile of Lee’s Summit, Mo., where Metheny was born 52 years ago.

The foundation will offer music scholarships and work toward the creation of a state music museum in Lee's Summit. Also planned is a sculpture honoring the Metheny family featuring an intertwined trumpet, guitar and phonograph.

The Metheny musical line began in 1915 when Harrison Metheny, a musician, arrived in Lee's Summit. Pat Metheny and his brother Mike Metheny, a trumpeter, grew up in the town and are members of the Lee's Summit High School Music Hall of Fame.

Metheny has just announced that he will release a new quartet CD in March with jazz pianist Brad Mehldau. Metheny and Meldau begin a nationwide tour of the U.S. in March, and Metheny will return with his trio in October.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:39 AM

January 25, 2007

Peak Records Signs Guitarist Marc Antoine

Smooth jazz guitarist Marc Antoine has signed a contract with Peak Records and is scheduled to release his first CD with the label in July. Peak was co-founded by Russ Freeman of the Rippingtons and recently signed another smooth jazz superstar, Paul Brown, who releases a new CD titled White Sand next month.

As a solo artist, Antoine has released eight recordings, including his last two with Rendezvous Entertainment, co-founded by saxophonist Dave Koz. His many smooth jazz singles have included four No. 1 Smooth Jazz hits: “Mediterraneo,” "On the Strip," "Mas Que Nada" and "Sunland."

Peak is also home to David Benoit, Eric Marienthal, the Braxton Brothers, Lee Ritenour, Paul Taylor, Norman Brown and Will Downing.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:37 AM

January 18, 2007

Kenny G Denies Supergroup Rumors

Contrary to rumors that have been posted online, Kenny G wants to dispel any myths about forming a supergroup with Michael Bolton, John Tesh and Yanni. On his website, he admits he has no idea where the rumor came from.

The saxophonist, who recently returned from a tour of China and Thailand, says he's in the middle of promoting his new CD, I’m in the Mood For Love … The Most Romantic Melodies of All Time, and his smooth jazz single “You’re Beautiful.” He adds that he has no intention of being part of any type of group – super or otherwise, with the exception of the great musicians that have been part of his band for the past 15 years.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 12:35 AM

January 14, 2007

Saxophonist Michael Brecker Dies From Leukemia

brecker.jpgEleven-time Grammy Award winning saxophonist Michael Brecker has lost his battle with leukemia. Brecker died on Jan. 13 at a hospital in New York City at age 57. In 2005, Brecker was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a bone marrow disorder which can progress to leukemia. Last year, he received an experimental, partial-match stem-cell transplant from his daughter, but the procedure didn’t have the expected results.

Brecker, whose brother is trumpeter Randy Brecker, had a storied career, and has collaborated in the studio with smooth jazz artists such as David Benoit, George Benson, Larry Carlton, Bob James, Earl Klugh, Chuck Loeb, David Sanborn and Diana Krall. Brecker’s record label, Heads Up, is scheduled to release his final CD this spring. It features collaborations with guitarist Pat Metheny, pianist Herbie Hancock and others.

Producer and keyboardist Jason Miles, who in 2006 released the CD What’s Going On: The Music of Marvin Gaye, has recorded extensively with Brecker. "There are very few people out there, and I don’t even know of anybody – and if I can find that person, I wanna know – that could go and play stone pop music one minute and convince you that that’s what he does, and then play the most difficult, intense jazz the next minute and convince you that that’s what he does," he says. " That is an art that a lot of people can’t do."

Brecker is survived by his wife, Susan, and two children: Jessica and Sam. Memorial services are being planned.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:05 PM

December 21, 2006

Rick Braun Offers Free Christmas Song Download

Merry Christmas from Rick Braun. The trumpeter and co-owner of the ARTizen Music record label has recorded a new version of a Christmas favorite, "O Tannenbaum,” which can be downloaded for free at www.artizenmusic.com. Braun says he’s offering the song to all the fans who have contributed to the success of the smooth jazz label, which was co-founded by saxophonist Richard Elliot.

Braun has plenty to be cheerful about. He's now spreading holiday cheer on the road, performing once again in the annual A Peter White Christmas tour with guitarist Peter White and saxophonist Mindi Abair.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:53 AM

December 7, 2006

George Benson And Al Jarreau Get 3 Grammy Nominations

Gerald Albright, Chris Botti, Anita Baker, Larry Carlton, Fourplay, Enya, Diana Krall and others also recognized. The 49th annual Grammy Awards will be held Feb. 11 in Los Angeles.

The superstar duo of George Benson and Al Jarreau will have a chance to add some Grammys to their collections as three songs from their CD Givin’ It Up were selected during announcements for the 49th annual Grammy Awards. “Mornin’,” currently the No. 1 smooth jazz song in the country, was nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Performance; “Breezin’” for Best R&B Performance By a Duo Or Group With Vocals; and “God Bless the Child,” which features vocalist Jill Scott, for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance.

"We figured this way of intermingling current-day, contemporary Al and George into these classic pieces of Al Jarreau and George Benson's that people just recognize in a different form," says Jarreau. "But still there we are, and the arrangements are fresh. I dare you to not like it!"

Saxophonist Gerald Albright is nominated for his album New Beginnings in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category. He had more than 20 e-mails of congratulations when he logged onto his laptop after the Grammys were announced. "We went with a lot of the mainstays that I normally use on my previous projects," Albright says. "Like with Paul Jackson on guitar, Patrice Rushen, Jeff Lorber, Teddy Campbell on drums, Tony Moore on drums. We have Melvin Davis on bass and I play bass on a lot of the tracks as well. I have the ‘A’ team on this project. They really put their heart and soul into every note that was played and executed."

Also nominated in that category is Spryo Gyra for Wrapped in a Dream; Larry Carlton for Fire Wire; and Fourplay for Fourplay X.

Carlton knows why the new Fourplay CD is strong. "We think we delivered wonderful product in the past and it all came together," he said, "but we had some discussions months before going in the studio and we all came to the agreement that maybe this time we’ll all be more diligent about having our songs prepared and fairly well arranged. So we don’t spend too much time in the studio just kind of looking for the arrangement. And it made the process obviously go much quicker and much easier."

Vocalist Enya earned Best New Age Album and Best Pop Instrumental Performance nominations for her album Amarantine,” while Diana Krall was recognized for Best Jazz Vocal Album for From This Moment On. “Good Morning Heartache,” a song from Chris Botti’s To Love Again CD featuring vocals by Jill Scott, picked up a Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist nomination for Gil Goldstein and Greg Phillinganes.

Brenda Russell, who co-composed the music to the Broadway musical The Color Purple, was nominated for Best Musical Show Album. Two veteran artists were nominated for songs that are currently on the smooth jazz charts; Natalie Cole as a Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for “Lionel Richie for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for “I Call It Love.” Richie will be up against the late Luther Vandross, nominated for the song Got You Home, a new song from this year’s The Ultimate Luther Vandross.

British singer Corrine Bailey Rae, who this had a smooth jazz hit with “Put Your Records On,” saw that song nominated in two categories: Record of the Year and Song of the Year.   She also picked up a nomination for Best New Artist.

Finally, Anita Baker will be competing against Benson and Jarreau in the Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance category for her song “Christmas Time Is Here” from her holiday CD Christmas Fantasy.

The 49th annual Grammy Awards will be held Feb. 11 in Los Angeles.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:59 AM

December 6, 2006

Can't Beat This: Shilts Offers Free Download

Saxophonist Shilts recently called on smooth jazz superstar producer Paul Brown to remix his hit single titled “Look What’s Happened.” Now, for a limited time, Shilts is making the remix available as a free download.

This is a good deal, since the song is easily one of the best of the year.

Shilts, who is also a member of the British group Down to the Bone, earlier this year released his second CD, HeadBoppin, his first for the ARTizen Music Group, the record label co-created by trumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Richard Elliot.

Shilts actually wrote the song shortly after his first CD was released five years ago. "It’s gone through many different kinds of arrangements over the years and I kept going back to it," he says. "It’s something I really wanted to go on the album and was really pleased when it was one that Rick and the guys chose."

To get the free download, go to shiltsmusic.com.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:27 AM

December 1, 2006

Smooth Jazz Network Poised For Action

The Smooth Jazz Network will have a 24/7 presence in many major radio markets in the U.S. DJs include Ramsey Lewis, Dave Koz, Kenny G, Norman Brown and Paul Hardcastle.

The consulting company Broadcast Architecture, which for years has conducted audience research that suggest what music its partner smooth jazz radio stations play, will in January unveil its own programming: Smooth Jazz Networks. The network is now in pre-launch mode, with full-time talent on the air beginning Dec. 4 in 10 markets across the U.S. Weekend shows begin in January, when the full launch is scheduled.

SJN, which has selected Renee DePuy as program director, will have some of smooth jazz’s top artists as radio hosts, including Ramsey Lewis, Dave Koz, Kenny G, Norman Brown and Paul Hardcastle.

The pre-launch of the network is already underway with Ramsey Lewis' morning show on the air at WNUA Chicago, WLVE Miami, WDSJ Dayton, KIJZ Portland, KMYT Temecula and KABQ in Albuquerque. Smooth Jazz format veteran, evening host Annie Ashe, is also on the air at WNUA Chicago, WZJZ Ft. Myers, WDSJ Dayton, KMYT Temecula, KIJZ Portland and KABQ in Albuquerque.

Clear Channel’s Broadcast Architecture is led by company president Allen Kepler, who Billboard once described as an “evangelist” for the smooth jazz format.

Kenny G, for one, is pumped. “I am really excited to be a part of this new network,” he says. “I think it is a great way for me to personally be in touch with the people around the country that have supported my music for many years. Allen Kepler’s enthusiasm is addictive and I look forward to working with him to create something new and exciting on a national level. This is going to be a wonderful collaboration, but the most important thing is that we are all going to be sharing a lot of good music with the entire country.”

Here’s the lineup for the Smooth Jazz Network:

Monday through Friday
6 a.m.-10 a.m. Ramsey Lewis
10 a.m.-3 p.m. Miranda Wilson
3 p.m.-7 p.m. Dave Koz
7 p.m.-midnight. Annie Ashe
Midnight-6 a.m. Billy Raven

Weekends
6 a.m.-10 a.m. Brian Culbertson
10 a.m.-2 p.m. Kenny G
2 p.m.-7p.m. Norman Brown
7 p.m.-midnight. Paul Hardcastle
Midnight-6 a.m. Billy Raven

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:58 PM

November 24, 2006

Ken Navarro Releases New CD Online

Veteran guitarist will offer the CD in stores in January.

ken_navarro.jpgSmooth jazz guitarist Ken Navarro is now offering his 17th CD, The Meeting Place, exclusively online at kennavarro.com. The online release will be followed by a nationwide retail release on Jan. 23, 2007.

As with his CD, Love Coloured Soul, the new project is being released on Navarro's Positive Music record label. The Meeting Place features 10 new songs composed by Navarro and a cover of guitarist Pat Metheny’s "Lakes" from his 1977 album titled Watercolors.

Navarro recently added some videos and podcasts on his website for those who want to learn more about the CD.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:49 PM

November 18, 2006

Marc Antoine And Rendezvous Part Ways

After two albums with Dave Koz’s Rendezvous Entertainment, guitarist Marc Antoine and the record label have decided to go their separate ways. Antoine is now close to signing a record deal with a new label. Antoine's seventh CD, released in August of 2005, is titled Modern Times and featured the hit “Bella Via.”

Antoine's debut for Rendezvous, Mediterraneo, included the No. 1 song of the same name, which was his fourth song to top the smooth jazz singles chart – the others were "On the Strip," "Mas Que Nada" and "Sunland." Antoine, who is 43 years old, lives in Spain with his wife Rebeca and young son Alejandro.

Antoine is now back on the smooth jazz charts thanks to pianist Jim Brickman and his song Escape, on which of course Antoine plays guitar.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:01 PM

November 7, 2006

Dave Koz Finalizes Track Listing For Soundtrack CD

The saxophonist adds Donna Summer and a Judy Garland sample.

Saxophonist Dave Koz has completed his highly anticipated, fully orchestrated CD titled At the Movies, which he says he created to help show the crucial role music plays in film. A late addition to Koz’s eighth studio album was ‘70s disco diva Donna Summer, who sings “A Whole New World” from the Disney animated motion picture Aladdin. In addition, a sample from the late Judy Garland leads off the album and Koz’s version of “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz.

Other guest artists include India Arie (“It Might Be You” from Tootsie), Anita Baker (“Somewhere” from West Side Story), Barry Manilow (“Moon River” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s), Johnny Mathis and Chris Botti (“Shadow Of Your Smile” from the Love Theme From The Sandpiper) and Vanessa Williams (“The Way We Were” from the film of the same name).

The CD also includes instrumentals of the themes from Casablanca, Schindler’s List, Cinema Paradiso, Pink Panther and Summer of ’42.

Koz currently has a Top 30 smooth jazz hit with the instrumental version of “It Might Be You” that features guitarist Peter White. The song is from Tootsie.

At the Movies

1. Over The Rainbow (With Judy Garland sample)
2. Moonriver (With Barry Manilow)
3. As Time Goes By
4. Somewhere (With Anita Baker)
5. The Shadow Of Your Smile (Love Theme from The Sandpiper) (With Johnny Mathis and Chris Botti)
6. The Pink Panther
7. The Way We Were (With Vanessa Williams)
8. The Summer Knows [Theme from the Summer of 42]
9. It Might Be You (With India Arie)
10. Cinema Paradiso Suite
11. A Whole New World (With Donna Summer)
12. Schindler’s List
13. It Might Be You (With Peter White)
14. The Shadow Of Your Smile [Love Theme from The Sandpiper] (With Chris Botti)

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:32 AM

November 3, 2006

Norah Jones CD Not Too Late Available Jan. 30

The singer and songwriter will offer all-new original songs on Not Too Late.

NorahJones.jpgEight-time Grammy winner Norah Jones’ new album, Not Too Late, will be her first to include all original songs. It will be released on Jan. 30.

In addition, for the first time ever, all of the songs are either written or co-written by Norah, who sings and plays piano and guitar. The CD, Norah’s third solo effort for Blue Note, follows her 2002 debut Come Away With Me and 2004’s Feels Like Home. Jones says that Not Too Late, produced by her boyfriend and bandmember/bassist Lee Alexander in his home studio in New York, is more personal than her previous efforts since she had a hand in composing all of the CD’s songs.

The CD features guitarists Adam Levy and Jesse Harris, keyboardist Larry Goldings, drummer Andy Borger, saxophonist Bill McHenry, vocalist and flutist Daru Oda, cellist Julia Kent and cellist Jeff Zeigler of the classical-jazz group Kronos Quartet. Song titles are the title track, “Until the End,” “Rosie’s Lullaby,” "Be My Somebody," "Sinkin' Soon," “Thinking About You,” “Little Room,” “The Broken,” “Wake Up,” “Wish I Could,” "My Dear Country" and "The Sun Doesn't Like You."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:16 AM

October 26, 2006

Michael Lington To Unveil Cigar Line

The saxophonist will be aiming at the high-end market.

Saxophonist Michael Lington will become – as far as we know – the first smooth jazz artist to offer a high-end line of cigars. Lington’s cigars, which will be aged four years and called the Michael Lington Classic, will come in three sizes and are being produced in the Dominican Republic. The cigars, featuring the high-end Connecticut Shade wrapper, will have a black label etched with silver-foil writing and be offered in custom cedar boxes.

Lington says he will officially debut his cigars next month during the second annual Dave Koz & Friends At Sea cruise, which departs from San Diego. The cigars will then be available on Lington’s website at michaellington.com and, eventually, through national distribution at tobacco shops and other outlets.

The first single from Michael’s brand-new A Song For You is titled “It’s Too Late” and is on Radio & Records' smooth jazz chart.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:31 AM

October 16, 2006

Peter White Sets Record For Weeks at No. 1

“What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” does the trick.

Peter White's “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” has made it into the record books. The guitarist's cover of the Junior Walker & the All-Stars classic has been at the top of Radio & Records' smooth jazz chart for 16 weeks, breaking the record of 15 by Paul Hardcastle, whose “Walkin’ to Freedom” held the previous record of 15 in 1995.

Behind White and Hardcastle are both Richard Elliot, whose “People Make the World Go Round” in 2005 spent 11 weeks at No. 1, and saxophonist David Sanborn’s “Comin’ Home Baby,” which did the same in 2003.

White's record-breaking song is the first single from his new CD titled Playin’ Favorites and features Jeff Carruthers on keyboards and drums, Sam Riney on saxophone, Roberto Vally on bass and DC with programming. It’s the 14th No. 1 song in White's16-year solo career.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:04 PM

October 14, 2006

Chris Botti Purchases Home In Manhattan

Trumpeter no longer has to live in New York hotels.

chrisbotti3.jpgChris Botti’s management team has confirmed that the smooth jazz trumpeter is homeless no more as he has purchased a home in Manhattan. But it’s not just any home – ironically, it’s one that was previously owned by Sting. Botti, of course, was once a member of Sting’s band and has also toured with the superstar with his own band. They are also close friends.

The home is actually a posh Manhattan apartment in SoHo and was reportedly on the market for about $4 million. As has been reported often, Botti has been on the road pretty much all the time for almost seven straight years, living in hotels. It was at the beginning of his current marathon tour, in 1999, that he sold his New York apartment and dumped most of his possessions into a storage locker. Most recently, he had been living in the swank 60 Thompson hotel in Manhattan.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:53 AM

October 3, 2006

Dave Koz To Host Musical Program On PBS Called "Frequency"

The ever-busy saxophonist also announces release date for latest CD: Jan. 30.

Dave_Koz2.jpgSaxophonist Dave Koz, who already hosts two radio shows and a smooth jazz cruise, will soon be able to add that of television host. Koz has been selected as the host of an upcoming series devoted to music called Frequency that will be aired on PBS stations nationwide.

The show will give viewers a backstage look into the lives of a variety of music artists from all musical genres, from emerging artists to more established acts. Each episode will blend performances and interviews by Koz. The 30-minute show, scheduled to debut early next year, will air weekly. The initial, hour-long episode will include an interview with saxophonist Michael Lington, who will also perform. Lington is signed to Koz’s Rendezvous Entertainment record label, and his latest CD, A Song For You, was released recently.

Among the other artists on the hour-long series premiere will be Corrine Bailey Rae, Ben Harper, Steve Miller, Nelly Furtado and KT Tunstall.

"This will be a nationwide program, a music magazine," says Koz. "The thing I love about it is that it is cross-genre, so the first show could have a story about Michael Lington, which it did. It could have Ben Harper, who’s a fantastic singer-songwriter. And it could have everything in between, too. It's kind of a cross between interview and music footage, live music footage as well. I’s recorded out of Capitol Records studios in Hollywood. So it’s emanating from a place where a lot of incredible music has been made."

Koz's upcoming CD called At the Movies will be released by Capitol Records on Jan. 30. The first single, "It Must Be You" featuring guitarist Peter White, is now available on iTunes.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 1:47 AM

September 18, 2006

Second Smooth Jazz Tribute To Luther Vandross Planned

This time it will be released by Rendezvous Entertainment.

A second Luther Vandross tribute CD titled Forever, For Always, For Luther, Volume 2 will be released Nov. 20 by Rendezvous Entertainment, the smooth jazz label co-founded by saxophonist Dave Koz. The CD follows a 2004 compilation released by the GRP label one year before the singer's death on July 1, 2005 after never fully recovering from a diabetes-caused stroke.

The upcoming tribute will once again be produced by Rex Rideout and Bud Harner. The lineup will include Patti Austin, Norman Brown, Jonathan Butler, Jeff Lorber, Wayman Tisdale, Gerald Albright, Maysa, Kirk Whalum and Will Downing. A portion of the CD's proceeds will benefit the American Heart Association. It is rumored that a U.S. tour, featuring the recording's participants, is being planned for the spring of 2007.

The first tribute CD boasted a No. 1 smooth jazz hit, "Your Secret Love" by saxophonist Richard Elliot.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:27 PM

September 7, 2006

Veteran Smooth Jazz Group Loses Founding Member

Saxophonist Hollis Gentry dies two years after car accident.

HollisGentry_bw.jpgSaxophonist Hollis Gentry, who helped found the San Diego-based Smooth Jazz group Fattburger more than 20 years ago, has died at age 51. It was two years ago that Gentry was involved in a serious automobile accident in San Diego. He had been through rehabilitation, but entered a hospice a few weeks ago after his health began to worsen. He died on Tuesday, Sept. 5, at his home.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in music composition and a master’s in music technology, Gentry and childhood friend and keyboardist Carl Evans Jr. founded Fattburger, which garnered a huge local following in San Diego and eventually became well-known in the U.S. and overseas, especially in Japan. In addition, Gentry was a teacher who counted Kirk Whalum among his students, and he also toured with such superstars as Al Jarreau, Larry Carlton and Joe Sample.

Evans recalls that a benefit concert for Gentry – held after his 2004 accident and featuring Fattburger and Hollis’ childhood friend Nathan East – meant a lot to the saxophonist:

"He was really pleased to see some footage on the news about the benefit concert for him," Evans said. "And he was just really touched. Just really surprised and really overwhelmed. "

Funeral services will be held Sept. 15 in San Diego.

[More]

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:26 PM

August 29, 2006

Eliane Elias Redefines Brazilian Cool

The veteran vocalist retuns with Around the City. Chill masters, here's a remix album for ya.

ElianeElias.jpgPianist and vocalist Eliane Elias in the past was known as an amazing jazz pianist who frequently paid homage to her Brazilian heritage. She still is, but Elias, who is now based in New York and has performed on albums by guitarist Earl Klugh and vocalist Michael Franks, has remade herself on a brand-new CD called Around the City that no doubt owes much to the success of Bebel Gilberto.

Gilberto is a favorite among the chill-crowd, who remake her songs with a downtempo bent. They could do the same with Elias' latest, a sublime mix of pop and jazz that features both English and Portuguese vocals. In fact, the two languages are combine on the CD's opening track, "Running," quite possibly the smoothest and best vocal tune of the year. It's impossible to get out of your head.

Making appearances on the CD are trumpeter Randy Brecker (her former husband), bassist Marc Johnson (her current husband), flutist Dave Valentin, percussionist Paulino da Costa and others. Her 18th album, released by the Bluebird record label, has covers of such well-known tunes as Bob Marley’s “Jammin’” and Santana’s “Oye Como Va.” Original tunes include “We’re So Good,” “Slide Show” and “Save Your Love For Me.”

Elias will be making appearances in the U.S. in September in Philadelphia, New York, Seattle and Los Angeles. If you live in or near any of those cities, you deserve a night out to hear this exquisite musician.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:40 AM

August 24, 2006

Stax Academy Names Kirk Whalum Artist In Residence

Kirk Whalum will have an important role at the Stax Music Academy in his hometown of Memphis, where he will be returning to as a full-time resident early next year.

KirkWhalum2.jpgThe Stax Music Academy in Memphis, which opened three years ago, has picked saxophonist Kirk Whalum as its first artist in residence. Whalum, who grew up in Memphis but moved away at age 18, will begin his duties on Sept. 5. Whalum will be much closer to the museum soon, as he recently announced that he is moving back to his hometown early next year and that he and wife, Ruby, are looking for a place downtown.

Since leaving Memphis, Whalum has lived in Paris, Southern California and, for the past 10 years, in Nashville. Besides sharing his many musical experiences, Whalum will perform with academy students in public concerts as well as conduct public and private master classes. He’ll also record public service announcements for the Stax Music Academy and adjacent Stax Museum of American Soul Music.

It was in 2003 that Whalum recorded a CD in Memphis called Into My Soul, giving praise to Soulville's Stax Records and the sound of Memphis music. The one-time Memphis based record label was one of the most popular soul-music labels ever, second only to Motown. Whalum grew up listening to the Stax Recording artists such as Al Green, Otis Redding and John Lee Hooker, among others.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:47 AM

August 23, 2006

Lee Ritenour Engaged To Japanese Pop Star

Anri will be Mrs. Captain Fingers.

Guitarist Lee Ritenour, who just released a fantastic new CD called “Smoke n’ Mirrors,” is engaged to be married to Japanese pop singer Anri, whose music he has been producing since her 2000 CD called Smooth Jam – Quiet Storm.

Ritenour_Anri.jpgAnri, who is 45 on Aug. 31, made her debut in 1979 and sang the theme song for the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998. Among those who have performed on her Japanese pop albums, in addition to Ritenour, are guitarists Larry Carlton and Paul Jackson Jr., bassist Nathan East and drummer Ricky Lawson.

Ritenour, whose nickname is Captain Fingers, produced her latest CD, Sol, which was released in Japan in November. Ritenour, 54, has a son named Wesley from his first marriage and has frequently made trips to Japan during his career to perform and produce music.

"She’s quite a well-known singer in Japan," says Ritenour. "I mean very famous over there. We’ve know each other for years as friends and colleagues. We've had a longtime friendship."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:40 AM

August 11, 2006

George Benson, Al Jarreau Call On Superstars

George Benson and Al Jarreau's new collaboration looks to be one of the most highly anticipated CDs of the year.

George Benson and Al Jarreau have recruited an all-star cast for their highly anticipated duets album titled Givin' It Up. The 13-song CD is a mix of cover songs and originals. Trumpeter Chris Botti and vocalist Patti Austin are featured on a song written by Jarreau called “Let it Rain,” while Paul McCartney joins Benson and Jarreau on a cover of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home to Me.”

Elsewhere, there are two new versions of Benson and Jarreau’s most famous songs. Jarreau wrote new lyrics for Benson’s “Breezin’,” while guitarist Benson returns the favor by performing an instrumental version of Jarreau’s “Morning.” The superstar pair also cover Seals & Crofts’ "Summer Breeze,” Paul Young's "Every Time You Go Away," John Legend's "Ordinary People," Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child” and Miles Davis' "Four" and "’Long Come Tutu."

Original tunes include “All I Am,” “Givin’ It Up For Love” and “Don’t Start No Schtuff.” Among the many musicians and co-writers on the CD are Marion Meadows, Rex Rideout, Freddie Ravel, Herbie Hancock, Jill ScottPatrice Rushen, Marcus Miller and Stanley Clarke.

Givin' It Up, a collaboration between Concord Records and Monster Music, will be released Oct. 24.

Givin’ It Up Track Listing

1. Breezin’ (Bobby Womack/Al Jarreau) - (5:40)
2. Morning (Al Jarreau/David Foster/Jay Graydon) - (5:02)
3. ‘Long Came Tutu (Marcus Miller/Al Jarreau) - (6:37)
4. God Bless the Child (Billie Holiday/Arthur Herzog Jr.) - (3:40)
5. Summer Breeze (Darrell Crofts/Jimmy Seals) - (5:01)
6. All I Am (Rex Rideout/Phillip Taj Jackson) - (3:23)
7. Ordinary People (John Legend/will.i.am) - (5:18)
8. Let It Rain (Al Jarreau/Barry Eastmond) - (4:54)
9. Givin’ It Up for Love (Al Jarreau/Freddie Ravel) - (3:57)
10. Every Time You Go Away (Darryl Hall) - (4:30)
11. Four (Miles Davis/Jon Hendricks) - (5:15)
12. Don’t Start No Schtuff (Al Jarreau/Joe Turano) - (4:44)
13. Bring It on Home to Me (Sam Cooke) - (4:25)

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:14 PM

July 29, 2006

Paul Brown Signs To Peak, Releasing Duets CD

Guitarist and producer Paul Brown and GRP go their separate ways, but he lands with Peak Records.

Paul Brown, who has produced more than 40 No. 1 smooth jazz hits and now even has one of his own, has signed a recording contract with Peak Records, which was co-founded by Russ Freeman of the Rippingtons. The guitarist joins Peak’s latest signee, Chante Moore, as well as pianist David Benoit, saxophonists Gerald Albright and Eric Marienthal, guitarists Norman Brown and Lee Ritenour, the Braxton Brothers, and others.

After acting as a producer for more than 20 years, Brown released his debut solo record in 2004 called Up Front on the GRP label, which featured the hit single “24/7.” He followed that in 2005 on GRP with The City, which produced his first No. 1 song this year with “Winelight.” The cover of the Grover Washington Jr. song is still on the smooth jazz charts.

Brown says he’s already recorded several songs for the new CD, including one featuring saxophonist Euge Groove.

"For this record we decided it was going to be more like a Paul Brown and friends kind of a record. So each song will have some kind of duet on it. I’m doing eight instrumentals and three vocal tunes and hopefully will get some well-known singers to do a couple songs. And I’ll probably sing one song. And then I’m going to get all my buddies to come and play on the other stuff."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 11:42 PM

June 30, 2006

Yule Like This: A Cool Jazz Christmas Tour

The latest smooth jazz holiday tour features David Benoit, saxophonist Kirk Whalum, guitarist and vocalist Jonathan Butler and vocalist Michael Franks. Some dates have already been confirmed.

Smooth jazz fans now have another option in the increasingly crowded field of Smooth Jazz holiday tours. Just announced is a new tour called Cool Jazz Christmas, which will features pianist David Benoit, saxophonist Kirk Whalum, guitarist and vocalist Jonathan Butler and vocalist Michael Franks.

Franks, who in 2004 offered a holiday CD called Watching the Snow, had a few shows to promote the CD back then. But he says was excited to be able to play those songs again when offered a role with the tour. "I had thought that wouldn’t it be great to do something like guest with some group and do three or four of the tunes from this record. You know, I’ve recorded actually with Kirk a little bit and I've met Jonathan. I also recorded the song 'Christmas Time Is Here' on one of David Benoit’s Christmas albums, which is one of my favorite Christmas tunes. So it seemed like this tour had a great combination of artists."

At this point the tour will visit eight cities in North America beginning Dec. 1 in Houston and concluding with two show in Cerritos, Calif. The new holiday tour joins two tour that have already proven to be successful – Dave Koz & Friends: A Smooth Jazz Christmas and A Peter White Christmas. Although Dave Koz’s annual tour will be taking a break this year, Peter White’s annual show with trumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Mindi Abair is confirmed and begins Nov. 24.

Whalum and Butler are currently performing as part of the Rendezvous All Stars tour. Benoit just released a new CD called Full Circle while Franks' latest is Rendezvous in Rio.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:46 AM

June 23, 2006

Boney James Has Five Vocalists On New CD

Boney James' CD Shine will be released on Sept. 26.

BoneyJames_live.jpgSaxophonist Boney James calls Shine, his 10th CD and first for Concord Music Group, an upbeat and positive work that features many of his musical influences. The 12-song CD – with nine originals and three covers – has a guest performance by guitarist George Benson on the song “Hypnotic,” marking the first time the two smooth jazz powerhouses have collaborated together. Benson is also recording an album for Concord, a duets project with Al Jarreau.

Also guesting on Shine are pianist George Duke and five singers: R&B vocalists Dwele on a cover of the Dramatics’ “In the Rain”; Faith Evans; Phillip Bailey; gospel vocalist Ann Nesby, who sings on a cover of a song Chuck Mangione recorded in 1975 called “Soft”; and chill-influenced vocalist Esthero. James also adds an instrumental cover of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s bossa-nova classic “Aguas de Marco.”

Shine willl be released Sept. 26.

1. Shine (Boney James/Lily Mariye/Laren Evans) (With Esthero)
2. The Total Experience (Boney James/Johnny Britt) (With George Duke)
3. Aguas de Marco (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
4. Let It Go (Boney James/Rex Rideout)
5. In The Rain (The Dramatics) (With Dwele)
6. Gonna Get It (Boney James/Rahsaan Patterson) (With Faith Evans)
7. Breathe (Boney James/Phil Davis)
8. Love Song (Boney James/Eric Daniels/Johnny Britt) (With Phillip Bailey)
9. Hypnotic (Boney James) (With George Benson)
10. The Way She Walks (Boney James/Leon Bisquera)
11. Dedication (Boney James/Joe Wolfe/Gerald McCauley)
12. Soft (Chuck Mangione) (With Ann Nesby)

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:48 PM

June 17, 2006

Helen Rogers Returns On New Jazzmasters CD

Paul Hardcastle's new Jazzmasters CD will be released on July 25.

Jazzmasters-5-cover.jpgPaul Hardcastle is returning to the familiar for his next CD but at the same time trying something new. He's once again reunited with vocalist Helen Rogers for Jazzmasters V, which he recently completed. Rogers has always been part of the Jazzmasters CDs, which alternate with the Hardcastle ones.

But on the new CD, Rogers only sings on three songs, “Children of the Ghetto,” “Garden of Eden” and “Live for the Dream,” after appearing on six of the 13 songs on Jazzmasters 4. That obviously means the new CD is more of an instrumental project than previous Jazzmasters efforts.

The 11-song CD features titles such as the first single "Free As the Wind,” “Never Far Away” and “The Sun Says Goodbye.” Jazzmasters 5 will be available July 25 on Trippin 'N Rhythm.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 10:03 PM

May 6, 2006

Brian Culbertson Recording Christmas CD, Planning Tour

The popular pianist will light up the holiday season with "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and other seasonal classics.

Dave Koz may have cancelled his annual Christmas tour, but Brian Culbertson is happy to fill the void.

Culbertson has confirmed that he will indeed embark on the first-ever Brian Culbertson Christmas Concert Tour with Bobby Caldwell, Warren Hill, Eric Darius and Ray Parker, Jr.

The tour comes about because just last week Culbertson entered the studio to create holiday music for his first-ever Christmas CD that will be released by GRP on November 7. He has already recorded what he calls a funky arrangement of “Ruldoph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” with keyboarder and composer Jeff Lorber.

To add a warm feel, Culbertson says CD will have real musicians with real drums, bass, guitars, keyboards and horns instead of computerized music.

Culbertson's latest smooth jazz hit, “Let’s Get Started,” is currently in the Top 5 on Radio & Records' smooth jazz chart.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:47 AM

May 5, 2006

Lee Ritenour's New CD Will Have World Flavor

The guitarist has named his summer release Smoke n’ Mirrors.

LeeRitenour2.jpgGuitarist Lee Ritenour has wrapped up production on a brand-new CD called Smoke n’ Mirrors, which will be his first released for Peak Records, which is co-owned by Russ Freeman of the Rippingtons. The new CD is the first since Rit’s House in 2002.

Ritenour says the upcoming CD is influenced by world music and has numerous featured musicians from Brazil and Africa. Although most of the tunes will be instrumentals, Ritenour recruited a 21-year-old female artist from South Africa named Zamajobe for one track. Other vocal songs featured the female singer Joyce and 33-year-old Daniel Jobim, the grandson of the late Antonio Carlos Jobim.

It was in 1997 that Ritenour released the first of his popular Twist Of” CDs called A Twist of Jobim that featured numerous Smooth Jazz stars. Smoke n’ Mirrors will be released this summer.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:42 AM

May 3, 2006

Chris Standring CD Cover Banned

The guitarist had to re-crop the cover of his upcoming CD after it was deemed too provocative.

Guitarist Chris Standring wanted something hot and eye-catching on the cover of his fourth solo CD, Soul Express. Now it turns out that the cover was just too hot to handle.

Standring received word that some retail outlets, when getting a glimpse of what he had it mind, said they would not carry the CD unless it was redone. Why the fuss? Well, instead of putting just another image of himself on the cover, Standring decided on a provocative image of model Holly Weber with only a strategically placed hand and a slim belt between her and nudity.

Standring's record label, Trippin N Rhythm, has now cropped the CD cover photo to the satisfaction of retail. If you want to see what the current CD cover looks like, you can go to chrisstandring.com. There, you can also visit Standring's Backstage Area to see the full image that was rejected. The image is also pictured here.

Soul Express – which features the hot smooth jazz hit “I Can’t Help Myself,” will be available on May 9. Standring will be joining keyboardist Jeff Lorber and vocalist Jody Watley on the Soul Express tour this summer.

SoulExpressOriginalCover.jpg

[As admirers of all things beautiful we would like to make this cover available to you here. Peter Böhi]

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:30 PM

April 26, 2006

Chris Botti Recording Duet For Dean Martin CD

The trumpeter will featured on a CD that pairs instrumentalists and vocalists with the late Rat Pack icon.

Trumpeter Chris Botti’s latest duet will be with the legendary Dean Martin, one of the famous group of singers known collectively as the Rat Pack. Yes, Martin died more than 10 years ago. But like Kenny G and Natalie Cole before him, Botti will be performing his instrument on the Lerner/Loewe standard called "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face," which will then be edited into Martin’s vocals of the song, which he first recorded in 1957.

Botti just finished recording his part of the song at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles. The CD, which is being engineered by Grammy Award-winner Al Schmitt and is expected to be released later this year, is taking original recordings of Martin’s vocals, deleting the instrumentation and putting different backing and soloists with them.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:55 PM

April 21, 2006

Peter White Releases Details Of New Cover-Song CD

Guitarist Peter White will cover the Isley Brothers, Grover Washington Jr., Van Morrison, Burt Bacharach and many more on his new CD. Along for the ride are the biggest names in smooth jazz.

PeterWhite.jpgSmooth jazz guitarist Peter White has just finished his 10th CD, tentatively titled Deja Vu and a sequel of sorts to a full CD of cover songs he first explored in 1994 with Reflections. The album is once again produced by Paul Brown, who helmed Reflections and also co-produced White’s most recent album, 2004’s Confidential.

White's upcoming project has an all-star cast of guest musicians, including trumpeter Rick Braun, guitarist Jonathan Butler, saxophonists Richard Elliot and Boney James, pianist Bob James and vocalists Jeffrey Osborne and Kiki Ebsen. Butler sings lead vocals on “Lovely Day,” while Osborne does the same on “You Are Everything.”

The upcoming CD has 11 songs, including “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love),” “The Look of Love,” “Mister Magic"and “One on One.”

Look for the CD, to be released by Columbia Records, to be available this summer.

Deja Vu track listing

1. What Does It Take (To Win Your Love) (Bristol/Bullock)
2. The Look Of Love (Bacharach/David)
3. Deja Vu (Anderson/Hayes)
4. Mister Magic (McDonald/Salter)
5. Lovely Day (Scarborough)
6. Crazy Love (Morrison)
7. Sunny (Hebb)
8. For The Love Of You (Isley/Isley/Isley/Isley/Jasper)
9. Hit The Road Jack (Mayfield)
10. You Are Everything (Bell/Epstein)
11. One On One (Hall)

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:35 AM

April 14, 2006

Dave Koz Cancels Summer Show, Delays New CD

The ever-busy saxophonist will be focusing on his record label, his new CD and the Rendezvous All Stars tour.

Dave_Koz2.jpgSaxophonist Dave Koz, who every year has been a familiar face on smooth jazz stages, has announced that he will be taking some time off from touring but will return in 2007 with a full schedule of shows. His last show was earlier this month when he performed in Japan for the first time.

Koz’s hiatus means there will be no Dave Koz & Friends: A Smooth Summer Night tour this year, which has been held four years in a row, and it is uncertain if the Dave Koz & Friends holiday show will return for the 10th straight year. At this point, Koz is scheduled to make his return to the stage in November during the second annual Dave Koz & Friends at Sea cruise.

For much of 2006 Koz will be focusing more on Rendezvous Entertainment, the record label he founded and now serves as its Senior VP of Development. He’ll also be more involved in producing projects for the label, which includes smooth jazz artists such as Marc Antoine, Wayman Tisdale, Michael Lington, Kirk Whalum, Brian Simpson and Jonathan Butler. In addtion, Koz is behind the scenes creatively with the brand-new Rendezvous All Stars tour, which will be traveling the country with Tisdale, Whalum, Butler and Simpson.

Koz will continue to produce his weekday radio show on KTWV in Los Angeles and his popular weekly syndicated program, The Dave Koz Radio Show. He'll also remain focuses on his next album with producer Phil Ramone, which features movie theme songs.

The follow-up to Koz’s Saxophonic CD from 2003 was originally to be released this year but has been pushed back to 2007.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:43 PM

April 7, 2006

Anita Baker Planning Some Summer Shows

Veteran vocalist will make some rare appearances.

AnitaBaker.jpgWhere’s Anita Baker?

Since ending her musical hiatus in September of 2004 with a new CD called My Everything, her first in 10 years, 48-year-old singer has remained mostly out of the spotlight and her official website was only briefly functional before being taken offline more than a year ago.

It turns out that Anita is planning a few shows this summer, but there probably won't be too many. They'll be the first since just a handful of shows last summer, some of which featured Babyface as the opening act. In addition, a spokeswoman for Baker’s record label, Blue Note, says that an announcement is expected soon on more touring dates and possibly a new CD.

Baker's My Everything has been certified Gold, with more than 500,000 copies sold, but that’s far less than her previous album, 1994’s Rhythm of Love, which sold more than 2 million copies. Baker's best-selling album to date is her classic Rapture with more than 5 million sold.

In addition to declining sales, another reason for the inactivity is that music just isn't the overiding force in Baker's life that it was in the past. She is a wife and mother to two young boys, Walter Jr. and Eddie Bridgforth, both of whom are attending exclusive Grosse Pointe Academy in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, where Anita and husband Walter Bridgforth live.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:46 AM

March 30, 2006

Norman Brown Returning With Summer Storm Tour

The lineup this year features new artists.

NormanBrown2.jpgGuitarist Norman Brown has unveiled the lineup for the second annual Norman Brown’s Summer Storm tour. Brown will be joined by saxophonist Paul Taylor, vocalist Patti Austin and pianist Alex Bugnon. Last year’s inaugural lineup featured Brown, saxophonist Najee and vocalists Peabo Bryson and Brenda Russell.

The tour has so far booked more than 10 cities, beginning May 20th in Newport Beach, Calif., and ending December 31st in Huntington Beach, Calif.   There are two dates when Austin will not be performing – on May 20, when she’ll be replaced by Peabo Bryson, and July 19 in Detroit.

Summer Storm Tour

05/20/2006: Lexus Jazz Festival, Newport Beach, CA
06/04/2006: Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD
06/17/2006: Radisson Hotel, Sacramento, CA
06/24/2006: Coors Amphitheater, Englewood, CO
07/19/2006: Chene Park, Detroit, MI
08/12/2006: Robert Mondavi Winery, Oakville, CA
08/18/2006: Boulder Station Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV
08/19/2006: Wilson Creek Winery, Temecula, CA
08/20/2006: Hollywood Bowl/JVC Jazz Festival, Hollywood, CA
09/04/2006: Ritz Carlton, Half Moon Bay, CA
12/31/2006: Hyatt Regency, Huntington Beach, CA

Posted by Brian Soergel at 12:30 AM

March 24, 2006

Gerald Albright Cancels National Anthem Gig After Mother Dies

The saxophonist is in Texas this weekend for his mother's funeral.

GeraldAlbright.jpgOur thoughts are with saxophonist Gerald Albright as his mother, Mattie Pearl Albright, died March 18 at East Texas Medical Center in Tyler, Texas. Mrs. Albright, who was 88, was married to the late William Dudley Albright, who died in September of 2003.

Albright, whose latest album called New Beginnings will be released on March 28, was scheduled to perform the National Anthem on March 25 for the Colorado Crush Arena Football League team at the Pepsi Center in Denver, but has of course cancelled the performance. He will, however, peform the National Anthem on April 17 before a Denver Nuggets baskeball game. Albright, who lives in Castle Rock, Colorado, is in Texas for his mother’s funeral service scheduled March 25 at Frankston High School in Frankston, Texas.

Albright is asking those who would like to make a donation in Mattie Albright’s name to send them to Top Ladies Of Distinction Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 4459, Tyler, TX 75712.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:27 PM

March 23, 2006

Superstar CD: George Benson And Al Jarreau

Legendary guitarist signs to Concord Records.

GeorgeBenson.jpgGuitarist and vocalist George Benson, who parted ways with the GRP/Verve Music Group in July of 2005, has signed to Concord Records, which recently also added saxophonist Boney James to its roster. Although details are still being worked out, it appears that Benson’s first project for Concord will be a duet album with vocalist Al Jarreau, whose most recent CD is called Accentuate the Positive.

In addition, the CD will be part of a new collaboration between the Concord Music Group and Monster Cable that offers what they call SuperDiscs. These CDs offer high-definition Surround Sound, and some feature multiple mixes that allow listeners to select their own Surround experience, ranging from “front row performance” and "in the room" to "on stage" and "orchestral." Benson has worked with Monster Cable – known for its music accessories for recording studios – in recent years as a product endorser and has a link to the company on his website. And in January, Benson and Jarreau headlined a Monster Cable concert in Las Vegas at the annual Consumer Electronics Show.

Benson's last CD, Irreplaceable, featured the No. 1 smooth jazz song “Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 12:06 AM

March 16, 2006

Saxophonist Takes Bold Step With New CD

Pamela Williams announces that she is gay.

PamelaWilliams_bw.gifOn her upcoming album called Elixer, which will be released next week, smooth jazz saxophonist Pamela Williams thanks her domestic partner Precious for her support throughout the years. Williams decided that with her sixth album – she debuted 10 years ago with Saxtress – that it was time to announce that she is gay.

Williams calls Elixer her coming-out CD and, although it’s a scary step for her, she’s glad to finally let the truth be known.

"I think it’s always something that’s very scary to do because, of course, as an entertainer you don’t want to alienate anybody," says Williams, who recently moved from Southern California to Atlanta. "But it’s just at a point in my life I just kind of wanted everybody to really know who I really am. And I think that that’s not the biggest part of who you are. It’s a little part, but it’s important I think to be honest. And it does feel like a weight has lifted off of you, because you really don’t have to pretend or lie about who you really are. So for me I think it’s important for people to be who they are and be proud of it."

Elixer features 10 songs with titles such as “Positive Vibe,” “A Jam for Pam,” “Forbidden Fruit” and “Rejuvenation.” The CD will be released March 21 by Shanachie, which on the same day will offer a DVD of Williams in concert called A Night With the Saxtress.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:06 AM

March 4, 2006

Movie Stars' Attention Will Be On Mindi Abair After Oscars

Saxophonist Mindi Abair will be dressed regally in a designer dress while performing for Hollywood's biggest stars after the Academy Awards.

On March 5, the elite of Hollywood will be entertained by smooth jazz saxophonist Mindi Abair, who will be performing at this year's Academy Awards official after-party known as the Governors Ball.

"Now for the important part," Abair says. "I'm wearing a very cool Sheri Bodell dress. It might take the Oscars to get me into a dress, but if I'm doing it, I'm going for it!"

Abair will perform for the likes of Charlize Theron, Steven Spielberg, George Clooney, Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix, all nominated for Oscars. More than 1,500 movie stars, producers, directors and friends and family are expected to show up at the grand party, held at the Hollywood & Highland entertainment complex.

Abair's band features Jay Gore on guitar, Andre Berry on bass, Jamey Tate on drums and Rodney Lee on keyboards. Among the 10 songs she will perform in her one-hour set are “Flirt,” “Lucy’s,” “Come As You Are,” “Every Time” and “Ordinary Love” from her upcoming CD called Life Less Ordinary, which will be released May 2.

If you're a movie star lucky enough to catch Mindi on Sunday, here's the set list:

“Right On”
“High 5”
“Come As You Are”
“Every Time”
“Save the Last Dance”
“Ordinary Love” (from the upcoming CD Life Less Ordinary)
“Work Song”
“Save Tonight”
“Flirt”
“Lucy’s”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:19 PM

March 3, 2006

Dave Koz Forms Rendezvous All Stars

The supergroup performs this weekend at the Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia.

A new group coalition of revolving musicians is taking shape, and they all have one thing in common: They are signed to Dave Koz’s Rendezvous Entertainment record label. Called the Rendezvous All Stars, they debuted in a major way, performing last month at the Grammy Awards’ post-party. That group consisted of Koz, saxophonists Kirk Whalum and Michael Lington, vocalist Patti Austin, guitarist Jonathan Butler, pianist Brian Simpson and bassist Wayman Tisdale.

On March 3, the Rendezvous All Stars will return with Koz, Simpson, Whalum and Austin at the Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia. On March 5, the group will feature Koz, Simpson, Whalum and Butler at the festival. Then, beginning March 30, Koz and Rendezvous All Stars, with Simpson and Whalum, will perform over six nights the famed Blue Note jazz club in Tokyo.

Shows starring the Rendezvous All Stars with Whalum, Butler, Tisdale and Simpson are now being confirmed for this summer.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:55 AM

March 1, 2006

Philippe Saisse Releasing CD On Rendezvous In April

Veteran pianist and composer Philippe Saisse returns with a acoustic jazz CD of cover songs for Dave Koz's Rendezvous Entertainment.

PhilippeSaisse.jpgDave Koz’s Rendezvous Entertainment has announced the latest signing to its record label: keyboardist, composer and producer Philippe Saisse. Saisse, a French native who now lives near New York City, recently released a CD in Japan called The Body and Soul Sessions that was recorded at his Valerian Studios. That CD will now be repackaged and re-released by Rendezvous on April 18.

The CD is a trio recording that also features David Finck on acoustic bass and Scooter Warner on drums and percussion. The CD’s music is all cover songs, including the title track by Johnny Green, “Do It Again” by Steely Dan, “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire, “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor, “Lady Madonna” by the Beatles and “We’re All Alone” by Boz Scaggs.

If you can't wait - and this CD is definitely worth getting - Saisse is also selling the Japanese version now on his Web site.

Saisse has released six previous solo CDs, including the subliminal, ahead-of-its-time chill/downtempo Halfway Til Dawn in 1999 on the GRP record label.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:16 AM

February 26, 2006

Chris Standring Creates Guitar Course For Beginners

Guitar Made Simple comes on a CD-ROM, with a discount if purchased before Feb. 28.

cd_rom.jpgSeveral years ago, guitarist Chris Standring created a guitar-lesson course focusing on jazz called Play What You Hear. It was designed for those who already played the guitar. Now Standring is offering a brand-new course, Guitar Made Simple, that is designed for beginning and intermediate guitar players. The home-study course, which comes on a CD-ROM, offers numerous videos of Standring explaining the lessons as he goes along. There are 12 chapters covering everything from how to hold the guitar, learning chords and how to read simple music. The course gets more detailed as it moves along.

I have a copy of Guitar Made Simple and heartily recommend it to beginners and for those with a little experience.

Standring will release a brand-new CD in May called Soul Express.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:20 AM

February 14, 2006

Chris Botti Has 3 New Songs On ITunes

Download a digital gift for your sweetheart for Valentine's Day? That's soooo 2006.

If you’re looking for an original Valentine’s Day gift, the romantic sounds of Chris Botti just may be your answer. The trumpeter has just released a three-song Valentine’s Day sampler that is available only on iTunes.

The set includes one song that was previously available on the digital music site: "Emmanuel," a song written by the late French composer Michel Colombier that Chris first performed in December on the long-running daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless.

Also included are “Be My Love,” an American songbook classic written by Nikolaus Brodsky and Sammy Cahn that Chris recorded during sessions for his latest CD To Love Again; and “Pavanne,” the oft-covered classical song by the late French composer Gabriel Fauré that Chris recorded during sessions for his 2004 CD When I Fall in Love.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:20 AM

February 6, 2006

New Chris Standring Single Is Smooth Jazz Perfection

Guitarist Chris Standring will release a new CD in May, with a Paul Brown-produced single hitting airwaves later this month. He is now a part of the Trippin N Rhythm roster.

Guitarist Chris Standring who recently signed a contract with Trippin N Rhythm, which was founded in 1999 in London, has finished a new album for the label called Soul Express. It’s his first since Groovalicious was released in July of 2003.

The new, 11-song CD features original songs written mostly by Chris and his longtime writing partner Rodney Lee. The first single, “I Can’t Help Myself,” is co-written and produced by hitmaker Paul Brown, whose had a hand in more than 40 No. 1 songs. The single will be released to smooth jazz radio later this month. It’s a loping, sweet-as-candy slice of music that’s sure to be a hit with listeners.

Standring also covers “As” from Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life and “Giant Steps” from the iconic saxophonist John Coltrane.

Among the musicians on the CD are bassists Roberto Valley and Stan Sargent, drummer Dave Karasony and vocalist Jeff Robinson.

Standring, originally from the U.K. but now living in Southern California, is pleased to be part of the Trippin roster, which also includes Paul Hardcastle. Standring has his nationality in common with Hardcastle and with his new label’s founder and president, Les Cutmore.

“It might have helped us connect somewhat but I think Les has seen my success happen in England probably before he saw it happen here,” Standring say. “Because when Jazz FM was happening, there was a couple of DJs completely pounding my stuff over there, several times a day. And Les, being based in London, was probably listening to that station all the time. So he got wind of exactly what I was doing over there before I probably had that much going on over here at all.”

Soul Express Track Listing

1. Constellation (Standring)
2. Kaleidoscope (Standring/Lee)
3. Method to the Madness (Standring/Lee)
4. I Can’t Help Myself (Standring/P. Brown/C. Simone)
5. Shooting Stars (Standring/Lee)
6. Mumbo Jumbo (Standring/Lee)
7. Thru the Looking Glass (Standring/Lee)
8. Catwalk (Standring/Lee)
9. Giant Steps (John Coltrane)
10. As (Stevie Wonder)
11. Soul Express (Standring/Lee)

Posted by Brian Soergel at 9:30 PM

February 2, 2006

KTWV, The Wave, Now Streaming Online

The Los Angeles radio station that helped pioneer smooth jazz music can now be heard all over the world.

Los Angeles radio station KTWV, known as The Wave, is now streaming online. The station that debuted with new age music in 1987 is widely credited as one of the first to introduce smooth jazz to the masses.

Saxophonist Dave Koz is the morning drivetime host along with Pat Prescott. Among other KTWV DJs are Talaya Trigueros, Don Burns, Keri Tombazian, Sandy Kelly and Barbara Blake.

To listen, you'll have to fill out a registration form. Go to www.947wave.com .

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:44 PM

February 1, 2006

Court To Rule On Case Involving Bobby Lyle's Daughter

California Supreme Court will decide suit brought against the sitcom Friends.

After more than six years, the daughter of smooth jazz pianist Bobby Lyle will soon learn the outcome of her suit against one of the most popular TV shows in American history. Amaani Lyle, a former writer’s assistant for the hit comedy Friends, sued Warner Bros. and three Friends writers for sexual harassment, claiming that the writers created a "hostile work environment" by engaging in sex-related comments and jokes during writers' meetings.

Now, the California Supreme Court will hold a one-hour hearing in Sacramento on Feb. 14 where lawyers for Amaani Lyle and Warner Bros. will argue their cases. The court will then issue a written ruling within 90 days.

Amaani Lyle is currently serving in the U.S. Air Force in Germany, where she is the editor of a base newspaper. Bobby Lyle recently signed to Heads Up and will release a new CD this year.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:48 AM

January 26, 2006

Joyce Cooling Donating CD Proceeds To Mental Health

The guitarist says she's dedicated to awareness and research.

JoyceCooling_live2.jpgSmooth jazz guitarist Joyce Cooling has announced that all proceeds for her upcoming CD, which she is now completing, will be donated to two mental-health organizations: the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression.

In addition, Joyce will be performing at a benefit for the National Alliance on Mental Illness on June 3 at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco during the organization's annual walkathon.

Cooling says she wants to raise awareness and help with research of mental illness because her brother has been diagnosed as being schizophrenic. Joyce is calling her new album Revolving Door. Cooling and her writing partner Jay Wagner have already named several songs, including the title track and “Come and Get It,” “At the Modern,” “Mildred’s Attraction” and “Jesse’s Bench.”

Revolving Door will be released by Narada Jazz this spring.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:07 AM

January 25, 2006

Chris Botti-Andrea Bocelli Song Only On iTunes

To hear Chris Botti's new song on Andrea Bocelli's new CD, you have to buy the whole CD from iTunes.

Chris Botti is contributing to a new Andrea Bocelli song, but you won't find it on Bocelli's Amore when it's released on Jan. 31. The only way you can hear the song, “Estate,” will be to pre-order the entire CD on iTunes. The bonus song is included with orders.

The 14-song CD, without Botti’s tune, does include a song featuring saxophonist Kenny G called “Mi Manchi.” Pop stars Stevie Wonder and Christina Aguilera are also featured.

You knew this had to come. Botti is now so popular he's being used as a bargaining chip.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:15 AM

January 20, 2006

Chris Botti Performing National Anthem Sunday In Denver

The trumpeter will be in the national spotlight during the AFC Championship game between the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers.

This Sunday, Jan. 22, smooth jazz trumpeter Chris Botti will perform the National Anthem in Denver at the AFC Championship game between the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers. Chris will be joined by four French horn players from the Colorado Symphony at Denver’s Invesco Field.

It’s Botti’s first performance in the national spotlight at a sporting event since he did his version of “God Bless America” in October 2005 during a World Series games between the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros.

Sunday’s game will be televised live at 3 p.m. ET on CBS.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 9:50 PM

January 17, 2006

Mindi Abair Finishes New CD: Life Less Ordinary

Mindi Abair's follow-up to Come As You Are will be released in May.

Saxophonist Mindi Abair has completed a new, highly anticipated CD she's titled Life Less Ordinary. The 10-song CD, recorded at Capitol Studios in Los Angles and which will be released by the GRP record label, features nine original songs written by Abair and her writing partners Matthew Hager and Tyrone Stevens.

The CD also includes one cover song: “It Must Be Love,” which singer and songwriter Rickie Lee Jones recorded in 1984. Abair says she doesn’t normally do cover songs, but adds that she’s a huge of fan of Jones and the song holds a special meaning to her. In addition to singing on the song, Abair enlisted good friend Lalah Hathaway to provide background vocals.

Original songs include “Rain,” that she’s dedicating to the people of New Orleans; “Far Away,” which features a string section directed by Julie Rogers; and “Slinky,” which Mindi calls a fun and sexy, Euro-inspired tune. Also making the cut are “Bloom,” “Do You Miss Me?” “Long Ride Home,” “The Joint,” “True Blue” and “Ordinary Love.”

Mindi will be conducting a photo shoot for the CD early in February. Life Less Ordinary is expected to be released May 24.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 12:37 AM

January 15, 2006

Second In Rendezvous Lounge Series Is On The Way

Dave Koz's label will release the second installment of the Rendezvous Lounge compilation on Jan. 24.

Rendezvous Entertainment, co-founded by smooth jazz saxophonist Dave Koz, has just wrapped production on the second installment of its chill music series called Rendezvous Lounge. The new 13-song CD, Rendezvous Lounge 2, is once again compiled by DJ Mark Gorbulew and features a mix of jazz, downtempo and world beat songs by Rendezvous artists Marc Antoine, Praful, Adani & Wolf and Camiel, in addition to European chill groups such as Afterlife and Montefiori Cocktail. Also, Gorbulew created a new song called “Manhattan Groove.”

As a preview, Rendezvous is offering a free download of Praful’s “Wishful Walk,” which is included on the CD. To get your copy, go to the Rendezvous Afterparty website.

Rendezvous Lounge 2 will be available on Jan. 24.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:42 PM

January 10, 2006

Boney James Signs With Concord, Plans Summer CD

One of the most popular musicians in smooth jazz lands with a new label.

jazzphoto1.gifSaxophonist Boney James has signed a contract with the Concord Music Group and is now working on a brand-new CD to be released this summer. Concord is also home to Peak Records, co-founded by Russ Freeman of the Rippingtons, and the Heads Up label, which works with many smooth jazz musicians.

It was inevitable that James would end his decade-long association with Warner Bros. when the label shuttered its jazz division in 2004. James released eight albums with Warner Bros., including a Christmas album and a duets project with trumpeter Rick Braun in 2000 called Shake It Up.

James' final CD with Warners wasn't too shabby. Released in August 2004, Pure entered the Billboard 200 charts at No. 66 and sold 17,000 copies in its first week, his best debut ever. It was nominated for a Grammy and featured two No. 1 smooth jazz singles, “Here She Comes” and “Stone Groove.” The third single, “2:01 AM,” is still on the charts.

"I’m thrilled and excited to be starting fresh with such a cool, forward-thinking company," says James. "I’m hard at work as we speak. Still hooking up some collaborations, but I already have George Duke and Wah Wah Watson on a track."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 1:14 AM

January 6, 2006

Michael Brecker Gets Transplant From Daughter

Saxophonist gets transfusion of daughter's "good cells."

MichaelBrecker2_bw.jpgGrammy Award-winning saxophonist Michael Brecker, who has a rare blood disorder, has received a stem-cell transplant from his 16-year-old daughter, Jessica. The musician who has played on many popular smooth jazz recordings was diagnosed last year with myelodysplastic syndrome, known as MDS.

Brecker, who is 56, has been checked out of the Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center in New York City and is being monitored by doctors.

Brecker has had a storied career, and has collaborated in the studio with artists such as David Benoit, George Benson, Larry Carlton, Bob James, Earl Klugh, Chuck Loeb, David Sanborn, Diana Krall and many others. In May 2004, Michael signed with the Heads Up recording label – home to Spyro Gyra, Marion Meadows, Pieces of a Dream, Nestor Torres and others – and was due to release a new album sometime in 2006.

That CD, of course, has been delayed, but Michael will be featured on Some Skunk Funk, a live album recorded in 2003 with his brother, trumpeter Randy Brecker. Heads Up will release the CD in July.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:41 PM

Chris Botti PBS Special And DVD Due In March

Chris Botti fans will have more reasons to love the trumpeter in March.

Chris_ Botti.jpgIn December 2005, a film crew from PBS shot footage from trumpeter Chris Botti’s two star-studded shows at the Wilshire Theater in Los Angeles for an upcoming one-hour television special. The special will air the weekend of March 3 on PBS stations nationwide.

In addition, those who want to watch the show over and over again will be able to purchase a DVD that will be available at the same time that PBS will be promoting during a pledge drive. It will feature an extended drum solo by Botti bandmember Billy Kilson that will not be shown on the PBS special. The still-untitled DVD will be Botti’s second – in 2002 he released one called Chris Botti & Friends: Night Sessions.

At the Los Angeles shows Botti performed songs from his new album of duets called To Love Again. Joining Chris on stage were Sting, Burt Bacharach, Paula Cole, Renee Olstead, Paul Buchanan and Gladys Knight, to name a few. Gil Goldstein is the orchestra conductor.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 1:42 AM

December 30, 2005

Details Released On Special EFX DVD

Chieli Minucci will shortly be releasing his first DVD.

Minucci 2.jpgSmooth jazz guitarist Chieli Minucci has just wrapped up video editing for an upcoming DVD that features Chieli and his veteran band called Special EFX. The DVD is not taken from a show – instead, the footage comes from a live studio recording in June from Toronto.

The DVD, which is untitled at this point, will be released in the enhanced, high-definition format. The songs, which are taken from Special EFX and also Chieli’s solo albums, include “Courageous Cats” from the Jewels CD; “Speak to Me” from Masterpiece; “Daybreak” from Global Village; “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers” from Renaissance; “Cruise Control” from Butterfly; and a medley of “Still Waiting/Jewels Part 2” from Jewels and the current CD called Got It Goin’ On.

"I wanted to capture what my band has been doing live onstage," Minucci says. "At this point, when people come to see us perform live, it’s a combination of Chieli Minucci songs and Special EFX songs all kind of medley-ed together."

The DVD will be released by Shanachie early in 2006.


Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:27 PM

December 28, 2005

Nils Has Radio's Top Song In 2005

You weren't dreaming if you thought you heard a song called "Pacific Coast Highway" a lot this year.

If you haven't heard the song called "Pacific Coast Highway" by Nils, you should do yourself a favor and check it out. If you haven't heard it, you probably didn't listen to a smooth jazz radio station this year.

That song by the veteran session player new to the smooth jazz scene in 2005, has been named the U.S.'s No. 1 smooth jazz single for 2005 by Radio & Records, a trade publication serving the radio industry.

The song was No. 1 for seven weeks. Although saxophonist Richard Elliot’s hit single called “People Make the World Go Round” took the top spot for 11 consecutive weeks, Radio & Records’ year-end chart is based on the total number of times a song is played, or “spinned.” “Pacific Coast Highway” was played almost 1,000 times more than the No. 2 song, Soul Ballet’s “Cream.” Nils’ current single, “Summer Nights,” also made the chart at No. 99 for the year. Coming in at No. 3 behind Soul Ballet is guitarist Tim Bowman’s “Summer Groove,” followed by “Pick Up the Pieces” by saxophonist Kenny G, “Two of a Kind” by saxophonist Michael Lington and “Let It Free” by saxophonist Dave Koz.

Rounding out the top 10 singles of the year are saxophonist Boney James’ “Stone Groove” with Joe Sample on piano, “Thursday” by saxophonist Steve Cole, “Nightlife” by saxophonist Paul Taylor and “XXL” by saxophonist Euge Groove.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:23 AM

December 22, 2005

Rick Braun And Richard Elliot Will Begin Duets Project

Look for a CD in 2006 from two of smooth jazz's biggest stars.

Trumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Richard Elliot are now in the planning stages of what could be one of the biggest smooth jazz projects in years: a new duets album. Braun says that the CD, which could be released by the fall of 2006, will draw on the duo's history with the brass-heavy bands War and Tower of Power.

It was back in 2000 that Braun offered a CD with saxophonist Boney James called Shake It Up that was released by Warner Bros. The upcoming duets CD will of course be released by ARTizen Music Group, the new smooth jazz record label Braun and Elliot founded.

Braun's new album called Yours Truly features the single called 'Shining Star.' Elliot's current single, 'Mystique,' is the second from his ARTizen debut called Metro Blue. The first single, 'People Make the World Go Round,' was No. 1 for 11 weeks.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:25 AM

December 15, 2005

Smooth Jazz Artists Dish Their Favorite Recipes

A smooth jazz DJ offers recipes and music from smooth jazz artists.

002MC.jpgSome of today's top contemporary jazz performers show off their culinary chops in Smooth Cooking, part of a series of four collectible recipe-card packages called Music Cooks that features various themes. The recipes are selected by Mark De Anda, who is the programmer director at the smooth jazz radio station KMGQ in Santa Barbara, Calif.

The collection of personal recipes from smooth jazz artists includes the Mambo Martini by guitarist Brian Hughes; Tom Scott's Easy Chopped Salad; Vegetarin Fajitas by Russ Freeman of the Rippingtons; Prawns with Green Curry from Greg Carmichael of Acoustic Alchemy; Chicken With Lemon and Green Olives by guitarist Craig Chaquico; and Smooth Jazz Burgers by pianist Bob James. There are 16 recipes in all.

The recipe package includes a smooth jazz compilation CD featuring 11 smooth jazz classics from artists such as George Benson, Grover Washington Jr. and Rick Braun.

Smooth Cooking is the the brainchild of Sharon O'Connor, a musician and author of 19 cookbooks. It's available at www.menusandmusic.com. A portion of the proceeds of Smooth Cooking will be donated to Santa Barbara-based The Dream Foudation, a non-profit company.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:40 AM

December 12, 2005

Top 10 Smooth Jazz CDs Of 2005

Several CDs stand out from among the many released in 2005.

1. Brian Culbertson, It's On Tonight (GRP): Culbertson sticks to his slow and sexy theme with amazing results. His best ever.

2. Jonathan Butler, Jonathan (Rendezvous): A return to mostly instrumentals was a good career move for the veteran guitarist.

3. Matt Bianco featuring Basia, Matt's Mood (Decca/Universal): The intoxicating mix of Brazilian and cool jazz is a winner. Every song is a treat.

4. Paul Hardcastle, Hardcastle 4 (Trippin 'n' Rhythm): Hardcastle's best yet, and the vocal tunes featuring daughter Maxine are cool and sexy.

5. Marc Antoine, Modern Times (Rendezvous): Unlike anything he's done before, but it's Antoine all the way.

6. Jeff Lorber, Flipside (Narada Jazz): Another steady CD by the veteran pianist. Nominated for a Grammy.

7. Praful, Pyramid In Your Backyard (Rendezvous): A bold step in a new direction from his debut CD.

8. Bona Fide, Soul Lounge (Heads Up): Vibes galore.

9. Steve Cole, Spin (Narada Jazz): The Chicago saxophonist creates some of the best hooks on the planet.

10. Brian Simpson, It's All Good (Rendezvous): Simply great music from Dave Koz's musical director.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:27 AM

December 8, 2005

Steve Oliver Offers Free Download Of “Imagine” On Dec. 8

Guitarist Steve Oliver offering free download of "Imagine" in honor of John Lennon.

beatle_john.jpgDec. 8 is the anniversary of a somber milestone. It was 25 years ago that John Lennon was killed by Mark David Chapman outside the Dakota apartment building in New York as he returned home from a recording session. Thousands of fans worldwide will pause to reflect on Lennon’s life and career and thousand will gather in New York’s Strawberry Fields, located inside Central Park, to remember the former Beatle. Many will gather around a mosaic that reads simply, “Imagine.” It is, of course, in honor of Lennon’s iconic solo song of the same name.

To honor Lennon in his own way, smooth jazz guitarist Steve Oliver is making available his recording of his version of “Imagine” as a free digital download. The song – taken from Steve’s album called 3D – will only be available for free on Dec. 8.

Oliver says that he grew up listening to the Beatles, and John Lennon's message of hope and peace continues to weave its way into his own compositions.

To get your copy of "Imagine," go to www.steveolivermusic.com.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:51 AM

December 6, 2005

Marvin Gaye Music Springs To Life On Jason Miles CD

Marvin Gaye's most memorable music will soon be heard in a brand-new way.

marvin.jpgOn his last album, producer and keyboardist Jason Miles – who has collaborated with many of the top names in smooth jazz – invoked the sprit of the late jazz trumpeter Miles Davis with a work called Miles to Miles.

Now Miles has his sights on the songs of Marvin Gaye for a CD he’s just finished recording called What’s Goin’ On: The Music of Marvin Gaye. Miles rearranged many of Marvin’s greatest hits and enlisted several top-notch musicians to help him, including vocalist Bobby Caldwell on “Distant Lover,” guitarist Nick Colionne on “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” Spyro Gyra saxophonist Jay Beckenstein on “Too Busy Thinkin’ Bout My Baby” and trumpeter Herb Alpert on “Let’s Get It On.” As always, Miles assembled a killer rhythm section with bassists Marcus Miller, Scott Ambush and James Genus, drummer Gene Lake and percussionist Cyro Baptista on board here.

Among the CD’s other songs are such Marvin Gaye nuggets as “What’s Goin’ On,” “Sexual Healing,” “Mercy Mercy Me” and “Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing.” There's a good mixture of instrumental and vocal tunes, with some inspired singing by Mike Mattison, Chiara Civello, James "D Train" Williams and Guida DePalma.

Miles says the idea for the CD came on an October evening at a restaurant in Martha’s Vineyard that was playing Marvin Gaye songs. Miles is no stranger to compilations. He has produced several other concept albums, including To Grover, With Love, Celebrating the Music of Weather Report and A Love Affair: The Music of Ivan Lins.

What’s Goin’ On: The Music of Marvin Gaye will be available Feb. 7 on the Narada label.

After listening to an advance copy of this CD, I feel condident in saying it's one of the best tribute projects to come down the road in a long time. Miles takes Marvin's music in a new direction, and it's exhilarating.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:54 AM

December 2, 2005

Chris Botti Teams Up With Andrea Bocelli

The smooth jazz trumpeter is recording with a smooth vocalist.

AndreaBocelli.jpgChris Botti will perform on the upcoming album called Amore by international superstar Andrea Bocelli, who has sold more than 50 million albums. Bocelli, a blind classical and operatic tenor from Tuscany, Italy, will be recording romantic standards with the help of producer David Foster.

In addition to Botti, Bocelli also called on several musicians with smooth jazz ties: Fourplay bassist Nathan East, guitarist Dean Parks, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and percussionist Paulinho da Costa.

Amore will be released by the Sugar/Phillips recording label on Jan. 31.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:37 AM

November 24, 2005

Kenny G Best-Of Collection His Biggest Ever

Look for some personal notes from Kenny G with the debut of his 31-song greatest hits collection on Jan. 24.

kennyg_150.jpgSaxophonist Kenny G has released several best-of collections, but an upcoming one will be the first to have the saxophonist’s personal comments attached to each selection. The Essential Kenny G, on Arista/Legacy, is the most extensive collection of his career as it features two CDs and 31 songs.

It’s being released in January to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Kenny’s Duotones CD of 1986. That CD sold more than 5 million copies and is considered his breakthrough project. The first single from that CD, “Songbird,” remains one of Kenny’s most popular and he says in the liner notes that he wrote it as a love letter to Lyndie Benson, a woman Kenny met at a concert two years earlier. They later became man and wife.

The Essential Kenny G will be released on Jan. 24.

The Essential Kenny G

1. Songbird (Kenny G) -5:02
2. Sade (Kenny G) -4:18
3. Slip Of The Tongue (Preston Glass, Narada Michael Walden) -4:50
4. Don't Make Me Wait For Love (Featuring Lenny Williams) (Preston Glass, Walter Afanasieff, Narada Michael Walden) - 4:01
5. Silhouette (Kenny G) - 5:27
6. Against Doctors Orders (Kenny G, Preston Glass, Alan Glass) - 4:43
7. What Does It Take (To Win Your Love) (Featuring Ellis Hall) (Johnny Bristol, Vernon Bullock, Harvey Fuqua) - 4:07
8. Brazil (Kenny G., Walter Afanasieff) - 4:36
9. Theme From Dying Young (James Newton Howard) - 3:58
10. We've Saved The Best For Last (Featuring Smokey Robinson) (Lou Pardini, Dennis Matkosky, Paul Gordon) - 4:18
11. Forever In Love (Kenny G) - 4:57
12. Midnight Motion live (Kenny G) - 8:21
13. By The Time This Night Is Over (Featuring Peabo Bryson) (Michael Bolton, Diane Warren, Andy Goldmark) - 4:22
14. Loving You (Dan Shea, Walter Afanasieff, Kenny G) - 3:17
15. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane) - 3:54
16. Sentimental (Kenny G., Walter Afanasieff) - 6:34

1. What A Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong with Kenny G) (George David Weiss, Robert Thiele) - 2:59
2. Morning (Kenny G., Walter Afanasieff) - 5:14
3. Sister Rose (Kenny G., Walter Afanasieff) - 6:12
4. Even If My Heart Would Break (Featuring Aaron Neville) (Franne Golde, Adrian Gurvitz) - 4:58
5. The Moment (Kenny G) - 6:00
6. Summertime (Featuring George Benson) (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, Dubose Heyward) - 6:43
7. Missing You Now (Michael Bolton featuring Kenny G) (Michael Bolton, Walter Afanasieff, Diane Warren) - 4:34
8. Pick Up The Pieces (Featuring David Sanborn) (Alan Gorrie, Owen McIntyre, Roger Ball, Malcolm Duncan, Robbie McIntosh,
Hamish Stuart) - 4:13
9. My Heart Will Go On (James Horner, Will Jennings) - 4:21
10. Beautiful (Featuring Chaka Khan) (Linda Perry) - 3:43
11. Havana (Kenny G., Walter Afanasieff) - 7:20
12. Going Home (Kenny G., Walter Afanasieff) - 5:30
13. The Way You Move (Featuring Earth Wind and Fire) (Antwan Patton, Carlton Mahone, Patrick Brown) - 4:08
14. Deck The Halls/The Twelve Days of Christmas Medley (Traditional) - 2:59
15. Auld Lang Syne The Millennium Mix (Traditional) - 7:52

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:50 PM

November 17, 2005

Sony Recalls Chris Botti's Latest CD

Major record label recalling up to 5 million CDs.

Earlier this week, Sony BMG Music announced that it would temporarily suspend production of music CDs with anti-piracy software called XCP – or “extended copy protection” – that when played on Windows PCs leave them vulnerable to viruses and hackers. Now Sony will now recall nearly 5 million of the CDS, which includes Chris Botti’s latest album called To Love Again. In addition, Sony has announced several other titles that are affected and will be recalled, including So Amazing: All-Star Tribute to Luther Vandross and At This Time by Burt Bacharach.

Sony BMG had created a website where users could uninstall the software that allowed the CD to play on computers, but now says that it will soon release an updated uninstall program. In addition, Microsoft has announced that its upcoming Windows Update will remove the malicious software. Sony says that customers can exchange any CD with the XCP software for a replacement copy without it. For more information, go to www.sonybmg.com.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:58 AM

November 12, 2005

Steve Oliver Offers Holiday CD On Website

Southern California guitarist creates inspiring music.

img3.gifLyrical guitarist Steve Oliver has just released his first holiday album, Snowfall, which at this time can only be found on his newly redesigned website at www.steveolivermusic.com.

The 10-song CD is offered by Oliver’s Oohla Productions and features such standards as “Carol of the Bells,” “Silent Night,” “Joy to the World,” “The Christmas Song” and “Little Drummer Boy.” Steve wrote two original songs, an instrumental called “Crystals in the Snow” and “Watching the Snow,” which features his lead vocals. In addition to playing guitar and singing on the CD, Oliver also played keyboards and percussion while handing the musical programming.

Contributing to the CD are pianist Tony Windle, saxophonist Will Donato and bassist KT Tyler.

To purchase Snowfall you can download the entire album for $10 or you can have it delivered for $15. The CD is Oliver’s follow-up to 3D, which was released on the Koch label.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:55 AM

November 10, 2005

Mindi Abair Dedicating Song On New CD To New Orleans

The saxophonist is just about finished with her third major smooth jazz release.

Smooth jazz saxophonist Mindi Abair has entered the famed Capitol Studios in Los Angeles to finish recording her third CD and follow-up to Come As You Are. She has completed a tune called “Rain” that she’s dedicating to the people of New Orleans, many of whom were displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Other songs include “Far Away,” which features a string section directed by Julie Rogers, “Bloom,” “Do You Miss Me?” and “Slinky,” which Abair calls a fun and sexy, Euro-inspired tune that she plays the soprano saxophone on.

As we’ve reported, the majority of the songs are written by Abair and her writing partner Matthew Hager. In addition to songs written with Adam Levy, the guitarist in Norah Jones’ band, and with blues legend Keb’ Mo’, Abair has called on numerous musicians to guest star on the CD, including vocalist Lalah Hathaway, keyboardist Ricky Peterson, bassists Stan Sargeant and Larry Klein and percussionist Paulinho da Costa.

The CD is expected to be released in the spring of 2006. Abair says she’s realizing a lifelong dream to record at Capitol Studios, where trumpeter Chris Botti also recorded his new CD called To Love Again.

"I definitely look forward to recording," she says. "You’ve written these songs and you have a specific sound in your head of what you want these songs to sound like. It’s a really fun yet arduous process. You know, I mean you’re sitting there, hmm, I hear this kind of thing and I go through five million keyboard sounds to try and find the right sound that I’m hearing. And so it is this really fun experiment of what we can make of this music that’s been in our heads for so long."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:12 AM

November 3, 2005

Joyce Cooling Cancels Cruise Due To Injury

Guitarist now recuperating and working on new CD.

JoyceCooling_live.jpgBack problems have forced smooth jazz guitarist Joyce Cooling to cancel her appearance on this month’s first-ever All Star Smooth Jazz Cruise hosted by trumpeter Rick Braun.

Although Cooling recently strained her back while hauling musical equipment, she had hoped to still be able to set sail when the cruise departs on Nov. 13. But Cooling's manager says that she’s decided that it would be better for her to remain in her Bay Area home to recuperate while canceling all appearances for the rest of the year. Her first appearance in 2006 is scheduled for Jan. 14 in Cerritos, Calif.

Cooling is now focused on her rebabilitation and is working with musical partner Jay Wagner on a new album to follow-up her March 2004 release called This Girl’s Got to Play.

"We’ve written a bunch of songs for it," Cooling says. "And, as always but even more now than ever – and I think I say this every CD – I’m ready for a change. I need to stretch in a different way. I need to do some different things. I’ve been fooling around with a balalaika, and it’s given me some different chords and just opened up my head a little bit. I’ve been playing a little bit of keyboards, working on some vocals and just stretching out."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:22 AM

October 22, 2005

Maxine Hardcastle Working With Idol Creator

The talented 19-year-old daughter of smooth jazz star Paul Hardcastle is now creating original material.

Maxine Hardcastle, whose sublime vocals made their debut on this summer’s Hardcastle 4 CD by her father, Paul Hardcastle, is now getting some excellent career guidance.

hardcastle_maxine2.jpgThe 19-year-old budding singer and songwriter is now working on demo songs with Simon Fuller, who just so happened to create Pop Idol in Britain and its version in the U.S., American Idol. If you’ve heard Maxine’s vocals on the new CD, on which she sings three songs, you know she’s got talent galore. But she’s still able to take advantage of the fact that Fuller is Maxine’s godfather and was Paul’s best man at his wedding. Also, Fuller named his entertainment and talent management company, 19 Entertainment, after Paul’s worldwide hit from 1985 called “19.” Since then, Fuller – who created the Spice Girls and manages Annie Lennox – has been involved in the creation of 106 #1 singles and 83 #1 albums in the UK, along with 281 Top 40 albums and 430 Top 40 singles.

Proud Paul – whose “Serene” has been No. 1 on Radio & Records' smooth jazz singles chart for five consecutive weeks – calls Maxine’s original songs a cross between Norah Jones and the Corrs.

Hardcastle says he auditioned Maxine for a song called “Smooth Jazz Is Bumpin” on his new CD and says she definitely passed the test.

"You know when it’s your own daughter you have to be hyper-critical. And I was almost thinking, no, she wouldn’t suit it. But when I heard the way that she approached the song and sung it, I was really surprised. That’s why I got her involved in three tracks. My good old friend Simon Fuller’s helping me out to look after her so there’s no rush. But she will be looked after I think she’s got a great future ahead."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:28 AM

October 20, 2005

Chris Botti Performing "God Bless America" Sunday At World Series

Major League Baseball calls on hot, hot, hot trumpeter Chris Botti to perform "God Bless America."

Chris_ Botti.jpgSmooth jazz trumpeter Chris Botti will have a national audience on Sunday, Oct. 23, when he performs "God Bless America" in Chicago at U.S. Cellular Field for Game 2 of the World Series. The Chicago White Sox are playing the Houston Astros.

Botti is only too happy to be in the national spotlight. Last year, he was scheuled to perform “God Bless America” during Game 5 of the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox. But the Red Sox, of course, swept the Series in four games to capture their first championship in 86 years and deny Botti his chance.

"Me and my manager decided that it would be best for our schedule to play Game Five," he recalls. "Who would have ever thought that the St. Louis Cardinals would get swept in four? I think that was the lowest part of my career. We flew into St. Louis and landed during the seventh inning of Game Four and realized that they weren’t going pull it out and go to Game Five. You know, having to sit there in the hotel in St. Louis, which was by then a ghost town with sadness because the Cardinals had lost, was no fun. But that’s the way it goes. And those are the choices you make. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose."

Botti has a brand-new CD out this week called To Love Again.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:06 AM

October 14, 2005

Euge Groove Shares Some Very Personal Information

Euge&Bane.jpgMany fans of smooth jazz saxophonist Euge Groove knew that he and wife Bane were expecting their fourth child last month, in September. Euge now wants to let his fans know that Bane suffered a miscarriage earlier in the year.

The saxophonist says he decided to go public with this personal matter because so many of his fans had been asking. "I want to thank all of my fans who expressed their concern and have wished us well," he says.

Meanwhile, Groove and his wife will celebrate their 16th wedding anniversary next month and enjoy the time they spend with their three children; 15-year-old Dax, 14-year-old Canyon and 8-year-old Lilah Belle. In fact, they will be taking the kids with them on Warren Hill's Smooth Jazz Cruise in January 2006.

Groove's first single from his new album called Just Feels Right, a song called "Get Em Goin'," moved up to #4 on Radio & Records' smooth jazz chart this week.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 9:41 PM

October 10, 2005

Rick Braun Streamcast Gives Glimpse Into Creative Process

Listen in as Rick Braun explains why he chose the songs he did for his upcoming cover album.

RickBraun_wtp.jpgRick Braun’s new CD of cover songs called Yours Truly won’t be released until Oct. 25, but right now you can hear song samples in addition to Rick’s explanation as to why he chose the specific songs that he did. You can listen in by going to www.artizenmusic.com to hear a streamcast, or you download it to listen to at whenever you want.

Braun says the nine-minute audio is one of many interactive features that will be unveiled at the home of the ARTizen Music Group, which was co-founded by Rick and saxophonist Richard Elliot. During the five-minute audio, Rick explains that the upcoming CD is a love letter to his fans, which is why he chose Yours Truly as the title.

Among the interesting things you’ll hear what song inspired him when he fell in love for the first time, what songs he grooved to while driving from his home to Pennsylvania to L.A. to embark on his musical career, and what track he couldn’t stop listening to after it came out.

"I’ve been lucky to have a pretty successful career in smooth jazz," Braun says. "I’ve got a lot of very loyal fans. So I decided to record a CD that was a compilation of some of my favorite songs and dedicate it to all of my fans who have given me this incredible career. On the liner notes, you'll see that I I sign it off as, 'Yours truly, Rick Braun.' "

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:36 AM

October 6, 2005

Richy Kicklighter Kicks Back With Chill Guitar Grooves

Veteran Florida guitarist Richy Kicklighter returns with a welcome CD.

kicklighter2.jpgYou may never have heard of Florida guitarist Richy Kicklighter, but over the course of seven albums he’s made some of the most mellow and gorgeous smooth jazz on the planet.

Kighlighter's King’s Highway and Myakka CDs from 1993 and 1994, respectively, are two of his best. It may conjure up overworked images, but his best songs on those and all of his CDs have been the ones that’d be kissin' cousins for the warm breezes of tropical nights.

Kicklighter – and you have to love that name – returns with 12 new songs on Moving Skies, released on his Midnight Pass Music. There are many memorable moments here, but the one song that jumps out as one of the guitarist’s new classics is the title track. It’s simple, elegant and the perfect chill-out tune after a hot day at the beach. “Bahia Vista” and “Indian Shores” would work also.

A perfect way to iron out stresses, Moving Skies is a muy bueno guilty pleasure, better than therapy.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:45 AM

October 4, 2005

Russ Freeman Embarks On New Solo Career As A Bachelor

Russ Freeman of the Rippingtons and his wife of more than seven years, Rona, have gone their separate ways.

Russ_Freeman.jpgRippingtons leader Russ Freeman is now officially divorced from his wife of seven-and-a-half years, Rona Freeman. While Russ remains in South Florida, Rona has decided to move to Los Angeles. In fact, Rona – a model and actress – is starting a new life in the motion picture industry.

Rona, whose maiden name is Lewis but says she will remain as Rona Freeman for the time being, has landed a role in new horror movie. Its title and release date is still not confirmed. Rona is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and has already acted in such movies as Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You and the TV shows Law And Order and Homicide: Life On The Street.

Rona has also found new love in her relationship with Hollywood-based personal trainer Mike Torchia, also known as Mr. California. Torchia's clients have included actors Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey, Matt Damon and Kim Cattrall. Rona says she wants Russ' fans to know that she only wish him good things.

As for Russ, he is dating again as well. He told JazzTimes recently that he had a Latin girfriend. The guitarist and the Rippingtons, whose new CD is called Wild Card, will return to the road soon as he and the Rippingtons perform at the Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:04 AM

October 3, 2005

Bob James' Smooth Jazz Meeting Eastern Influences

Bob James is finishing new project called The Angels of Shanghai.

BobJames.jpgVeteran pianist Bob James' ambitious vision to fuse smooth jazz with music from the Far East and share it with his fans worldwide will shortly become a reality. James has just inked a deal with the Japanese division of Sony Music to release a CD called The Angels of Shanghai.

In January 2005, James made his third trip in two years to the Shanghai Conservatory of Music to record music with a talented group of five young Chinese musicians who attend the prestigious university. The result, when released later this year in Asia, will be a new Bob James CD with a decidedly Asian bent featuring exotic violins, harps and flutes and traditional Chinese melodies adapted to his own style.

Included will be a original songs, including one composed with Fourplay bandmember Nathan East called “Endless Time.” The CD will first be released in Japan and then Europe, and later next year in the U.S. to not conflict with a solo CD called Urban Flamingo that’s scheduled to be offered this February. U.S. audiences can get a taste of the music, however, since James plans to add “Endless Time” to Urban Flamingo.

The pianist will debut the music of Angels of Shanghai at a live performance on Dec. 17 at the Bangkok Jazz Festival. In addition to James and five musicians from Shanghai, the band will include East on bass and vocals, Jack Lee on guitar and Louis Pragasam on drums.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:47 AM

September 24, 2005

Wayman Tisdale Trades Sooner State For Golden State

Bassist Wayman Tisdale is pulling up roots.

WaymanTisdale.jpgWayman Tisdale, a native Oklahoman, has now settled in Southern California with his wife and children to be closer to the heart of the smooth jazz industry. For now, the bassist plans to keep his farm house in Tulsa as well.

Wayman’s new home in western Los Angeles County is not too far from his recording label, Beverly Hills-based Rendezvous Entertainment. In addition, Tisdale’s manager lives in the area and now hopes to add more shows on the West Coast to his tour schedule.

In fact, Wayman will only have to drive about 45-minutes to his next gig, which is Sept. 29 on board the Queen Mary in Long Beach. During the solo show, Wayman will be performing songs from his latest CD called Hang Time, which features the current smooth jazz single “Ready to Hang.” Three days later, he’ll perform as part of the Guitars & Saxes tour 26 miles off the California coast during the Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 1:34 AM

September 22, 2005

Chris Botti Finishes New CD - To Love Again

Chris Botti's upcoming CD has a new name - again. It's now called To Love Again. Look for it on Oct. 18.

chris_botti_blue.jpgChris Botti has finally decided on a name for his new CD. The follow-up to his best-selling When I Fall in Love as originally called Embraceable You, then Still in Love and now To Love Again.

Botti has now whittled down the songs for the CD and has decided on 13 songs with guest performers such as Sting, Michael Buble, Gladys Knight, Steven Tyler, Renee Oldstead, and Jill Scott. The album’s songs include “Lover Man,” “Good Morning Heartache,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” “Smile,” “Pennies From Heaven,” “I’ll Be Seeing You” and “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?”

When the CD arrives in stores on Oct. 18 it will be available in two versions. The first CD version features the 13 songs, while second is a DualDisc, which is a double-sided disc with one side containing a standard CD and other side with DVD content. The DualDisc version of To Love Again has four bonus tracks of live performances: “To Love Again,” “I’ll Be Seeing You,” and two from Botti's idol, Miles Davis: “Flamenco Sketches” and “Milestones.”

To Love Again Track Listing

1. Embraceable You
2. What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life
3. My One And Only Love
4. Let There Be Love
5. What's New
6. Good Morning Heartache
7. To Love Again
8. Are You Lonesome Tonight
9. Lover Man
10. I'll Be Seeing You
11. Pennies From Heaven
12. Here's That Rainy Day
13. Smile
(With DualDisc)
1. Flamenco Sketches
2. To Love Again
3. I'll Be Seeing You
4. Milestones

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:33 AM

September 15, 2005

Chuck Loeb Trying Life In South Carolina

Gutiarist Chuck Loeb has temporarily traded his home in New York for one on Hilton Head Island, S.C.

ChuckLoeb.jpgSmooth jazz guitarist Chuck Loeb, a native New Yorker, has just relocated to South Carolina.

The move was prompted after the Loebs learned that the house of one of their friends had burned down. Wanting to help out, the Loebs decided to offer up their house in Irvington, which is on the Hudson River north of New York City, to the family while they were rebuilding their destroyed home. At the same time, Loeb and his wife, Carmen Cuesta, felt that this gave them the perfect opportunity to test the waters as far as living in the South for a while.

Last year, Loeb and his wife invested in a home on Hilton Head Island, S.C. Loeb is now taking advantage of the nearby airport in Savannah, Ga., to travel back to New York for recording sessions and for traveling to shows. In fact, Chuck will be flying from Savannah to Boston on Sept. 24 for the annual Beantown Jazz Festival.

Loeb's most recent album, When I’m With You, features the Top 5 hit called "Tropical."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:31 AM

September 7, 2005

Gabriela Anders Ties Knot With Musician Wayne Krantz

Surprise: Vocalist Gabriela Anders has married and has a daughter named Marley.

anders4.jpgTop-secret celebrity weddings are nothing new.

Earlier this year, actress Renee Zellweger and country singer Kenny Chesney tied the knot in a private ceremony away from the prying eyes of paparazzi. And Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Roberts and John F. Kennedy Jr. all managed to marry without the media finding out.

Smooth jazz vocalist Gabriela Anders has also managed to keep her marriage secret, although not because she didn’t want anyone to know. She just says she didn’t think anyone would be interested, did not give out any interviews and put nothing on her website. Gabriela’s wedding – which is secret no longer – occurred at a small church in New York City on May 22, 2004, in front of a small group of family and friends.

Anders married Wayne Krantz, a guitarist who performed on Gabriela’s latest CD, Last Tango in Rio. The name may not be too familiar, but Krantz has released several solo CDs and has appeared on albums by Steely Dan, Michael Brecker and others. Gabriela and Wayne have been keeping another secret – they are the proud parents of a nine-month baby girl named Marley Meredith Krantz.

Anders fell in love with her soon-to-be husband while watching him perform in a New York City club called the 55 Bar where he performs every Thursday night. "I was checking it out, then slowly we became friends and then we started to date," Anders recalls with a laugh. "And now we’ve become married and have a little baby. I have a small family, he has a small family, so the wedding was cool."

Marley will stay at home with her Dad in New York while Mom performs Sept. 10 in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:55 AM

September 4, 2005

A First at Catalina: Mindi Abair Performs All Three Weekends

It'll be hard to miss saxophonist Mindi Abair at the 19th annual Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival, but many of smooth jazz's top artists will also make appearances. And it's not just about smooth jazz anymore - also on hand will be the straight-ahead jazz of Kyle Eastwood and the chill of O'2L and Camiel.

Abair_Catalina.jpgEvery year, thousands of people make the annual trek 26 miles off the Southern California coast to the island of Catalina to enjoy the music of Art Good's Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival.

This year is the festival's 19th anniversary and will offer more than 35 smooth jazz artists spread over three consecutive weekends starting Sept. 30. This year, saxophonist Mindi Abair will be the first artist to perform all three weekends at the festival. She will perform solo, with Guitars & Saxes and with Forever, For Always, For Luther. Fans will notice that Abair has ditched the streaks in her hair and is now completely blonde.

This year's show will feature a wide variety of performances ranging from the pioneers of smooth jazz to some of the newest stars of the stage. Look for such legendary groups as Hiroshima, 3rd Force and Pieces of a Dream, in addition to vocalist Bobby Caldwell.

New faces on the scene include bassist Kyle Eastwood, guitarist Nils and chill music artists Camiel and O’2L.

Package deals include Guitars & Saxes with Mindi Abair, Wayman Tisdale, Jeff Golub and Warren Hill; the Sax Pack with Kim Waters, Marion Meadows and Jeff Kashiwa; the Triad Tour with Steve Oliver, Gerald Veasley and Michael Paulo; and Forever, For Always, For Luther with Kirk Whalum, Mindi Abair, Paul Jackson Jr. and Lalah Hathaway.

In addition, there will be a reunion show from the Hawaiian smooth jazz band Kilauea. Other artists include Soul Ballet, Bona Fide, James Vargas, Eric Darius, Najee, Euge Groove, Paul Brown, Everette Harp, Tim Bowman, Steve Cole, Gregg Karukas and Luis Villegas.

Performances will once again be aired live on www.jazztrax.com.   For this year's artist lineup and ticket information, log on to www.jazztrax.com.   The syndicated JazzTrax radio show this year is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:24 PM

September 2, 2005

Bob Baldwin CD Coming On 215 Records

Pianist Bob Baldwin, whose Brazil Chill was one of the best smooth jazz CDs of 2004, has signed to 215 Records.

BobBaldwin3.jpgPianist Bob Baldwin is the latest artist to sign with 215 Records, which debuted last year as a smooth jazz label and features Soul Ballet, Greg Adams, the Alan Hewitt Project, Blake Aaron and others.

Baldwin was left without a record label after the recent bankruptcy of the Chicago-based A440 Music Group. Baldwin has finished his first CD for the label – his 10th overall – which is called All In a Day’s Work, featuring titles such as “The Very Last Night in Rio,” “Sunrise,” “Steamy” “Day-O” and others.

In addition, Baldwin's new label will also re-issue Bob’s album from early 2004 called Brazil Chill, in addition to a 2000 album called BobBaldwin.com.

All in a Day's Work

1. A New York Minute 6:12
2. All In a Day’s Work 4:56
3. Day-O 5:49
4. Third Time’s The Charm 5:40
5. Quirky 6:30
6. Can You Feel It? 6:37
7. Steamy 5:53
8. Sunrise 4:54
9. Quality Time 1:47
10. Steamy (Interlude) 0:51
11. The Very Last Night In Rio 5:21
12. Don’t Get It Twisted 7:44
13. Can You Feel It? (Interlude) 1:19

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:09 PM

August 6, 2005

Lee Ritenour Working on Melodic Music For 2006

The guitarist, who recently released a live-in-studio retrospective on his career, will be offering his fans some great new music in 2006.

LeeRitenour2.jpgLee Ritenour, who has released many diverse albums during the past few years, is now in the studio recording his first CD of original smooth jazz since 1998’s This Is Love. That CD featured the smash hit called “Ooh-Yeah.” Since then, Ritenour has offered a classical CD with Dave Grusin, A Twist of Marley featuring various artists in 2001, a jazz CD called Rit’s House in 2002, A Twist of Motown in 2003 and the current OverTime, a live-in-the-studio recording of his greatest hits.

The only bad news is that it looks like Ritenour won’t be working on any new Twist Of CDs for a while. Those compilations, which began in 1997 with a tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim, are produced by the gutiarist and feature numerous smooth jazz artists. Ritenour says he wants to focus on the solo CD, which he hopes to release in the spring of 2006.

"Certain things come in phases, and we did three of the ‘Twists’ that were all very successful," Ritenour says. "But I think a lot of fans of mine also want to see me focus on the Lee Ritenour solo career and the guitar, so the guitar being in front and center will be an important part of it."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:56 AM

August 3, 2005

Culbertsons Plan a Tour of Churches For Hymn CD

You just may be able to catch Brian Culbertson inside a church later this year - playing piano.

BrianMichelleCulbertson.jpgSmooth jazz pianist Brian Culbertson, who just recently released his eighth solo album, is now finalizing one for his wife Michelle Culbertson called Be Still My Soul.

The album of traditional hymns will spotlight only Brian’s piano and Michelle’s vocals. After it's released this fall, the husband-and-wife team from Southern California plan to take the music on a tour of churches. Michelle, an operatic singer, will lend her talents to a mixture of classical, jazz and pop compositions such as “Amazing Grace” “Holy, Holy, Holy” and “How Great Thou Art.”

In addition to 13 hymns, the album will include two original songs composed by Brian and songwriter Lindy Robbins. The CD will be released independently and offered on both Brian and Michelle’s websites in the fall.

"It’s a complete musical switch and change from myself, and it was really cool," says Brian. "We did all these new arrangements of all these hymns that are well over a hundred years old. Like if you would just play the piano alone, you would have no idea what song it is. And that’s what we wanted to try to create. It’s very cinematic. I've played it for a few people and they’re like, Oh man, I could have heard that in Braveheart."

If you want to hear what Brian and Michelle sound like in a smooth jazz mood, check out Brian’s new CD called It’s On Tonight. Michelle’s vocals and violin playing is featured on a couple of songs.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:13 AM

July 29, 2005

Gitmo Jazz Fest Will Welcome Smooth Jazz Stars

Coming up at Gitmo: Guitarist Peter White, pianist Alex Bugnon, saxophonist Paul Taylor and the Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman.

Over the past year, the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – also known as Gitmo – has been in the news due to alleged abuses at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.

More than 500 foreign military prisoners from the war on terror are detained at the Detention Center’s Camp Delta. This Labor Day, however, the mood at the base will be lightened during the third annual Guantanamo Bay Jazz Festival.

Scheduled to perform are guitarist Peter White, pianist Alex Bugnon, saxophonist Paul Taylor and the Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman. White and the Rippingtons also performed at last year’s event.

More than 6,000 people representing all five of the armed forces – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard – will be on hand. Smooth Jazz has a history at the base. It was back in 1997 that Spyro Gyra made the trip as they performed for the troops following singer Sheryl Crow.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 1:12 AM

July 22, 2005

Michael Brecker In Hospital With Serious Illness

You can e-mail the saxophonist or send him a letter.

MichaelBrecker2_bw.jpgGrammy Award-winning saxophonist Michael Brecker, who has played on many popular smooth jazz recordings, has been diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, known as MDS. It’s a blood disorder that can lead to leukemia. Brecker, who is 56, is said to be seriously ill and has cancelled all of his scheduled concerts for the time being. He is now undergoing chemotherapy at the Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center in New York City and is scheduled to undergo a bone-marrow transplant.

Brecker has had a storied career, and has collaborated in the studio with artists such as David Benoit, George Benson, Larry Carlton, Bob James, Earl Klugh, Chuck Loeb, David Sanborn, Diana Krall and many others. Recently, Brecker performed on the album by Jason Miles' Maximum Grooves called Coast to Coast and was a special guest on an album by steel pan player Andy Narell called The Passage.

In May 2004, Michael signed with the Heads Up recording label – home to Spyro Gyra, Marion Meadows, Pieces of a Dream, Nestor Torres and others – and was due to release a new album sometime in 2006. If you would like to send Brecker a get-well message, you can e-mail info@michaelbrecker.com.

You can also send a letter to:

Michael Brecker
Room 1137
Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center
1275 York Avenue
New York, NY 10021

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:50 AM

July 20, 2005

Standing Together No More: George Benson and Verve Split

Premier smooth jazz guitarist George Benson has split from his record label.

GeorgeBenson_bw.jpgAfter releasing four CDs with the GRP/Verve Music Group record label since 1996, guitarist George Benson and the label have parted in what the label called a mutual agreement.

Benson’s last CD for Verve, which is part of the Universal Music Company, was last year’s Irreplaceable. That CD was originally to be a collection of vocal tracks, but the singer and guitarist halted its release, at the request of the label, to rework the project to include three instrumental songs and create more of a smooth jazz flavor. In stepped uber-producer Paul Brown, and one of the two songs he produced, “Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise,” paid off. It topped the R&R smooth jazz chart for six weeks.

Irreplaceable followed Absolute Benson in 2000, Standing Together in 1998 and That’s Right in 1996, all of which went to No. 1 on Billboard’s contemporary jazz chart.

Benson also actually released a few albums for Verve in the 1960s before beginning associations with the A&M and Warner Bros. labels, among others.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:24 PM

July 19, 2005

N-n-n-n-n-nineteen: Maxine Hardcastle Makes Strong Debut

Paul Hardcastle's 19-year-old daughter, Maxine Hardcastle, makes a smashing debut on Hardcastle 4, especially on the smoldering "Smooth Jazz Is Bumpin.'"

The latest smooth vazz vocalist to hit the scene is a teenager, Maxine Hardcastle.

Yes, she is the daughter of British smooth jazz composer Paul Hardcastle. Maxine sings and has co-writing credits on three song on the new CD that was released last week called Hardcastle 4. They are “Smooth Jazz Is Bumpin'," “Was It Love” and “Where Are You Now.”

The budding young singer's voice is a real treat, and recalls frequent Hardcastle collaborator Helen Rogers. (Rogers will be back on the next Jazzmasters' CD. Maxine was the inspiration for an old Hardcastle song called "Maxine," and she also had a spoken-word monologue throughout a song called "Look to the Future" from the Hardcastle 2 album released in 1996.

Ironically, Maxine turned 19 years old in April. You may recall that Hardcastle had a worldwide dance smash back in 1985 with the song “19,” which used spoken-word reports from Vietnam throughout the song that described the average age of American combatants as 19.

"It’s the first time that she’s actually done something really popular in the studio, and she really likes this type of music," says Paul Hardcastle. "Who knows? She could have her own album out in a couple of years time. We don’t want to rush her into it. Her songwriting’s getting very, very good at the moment, and I think she’s got a great future ahead of her."

We agree.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:31 AM

July 15, 2005

"London Underground": Gregg Karukas Sticking With Title Of New Single

Pianist Gregg Karukas hopes his new smooth jazz song will be greeted with a postive outlook.

GreggKarukasLookingUp.jpgThe terrorist attacks in London on July 7 – three of which occurred in the city’s subway system – created quite a coincidence for a new song by pianist Gregg Karukas. The first smooth jazz single from his upcoming album called Looking Up is called “London Underground.”

On his website, Karukas says the attacks hit close to home since his new record label, Trippin N Rhythm, is based in London and one of his oldest friends from grade school lives in the city. Karukas, who recorded “London Underground” months ago, says he and record label have decided to stick with the name of instrumental song because they hope its positive outlook will help soothe and unite people in their need to confront violence.

"It is quite a coincidence considering I came up the title to the first single, ‘London Underground,’ a few months ago, mostly as a tribute to Trippin N Rhythm records, since they’re based in England," says Karukas. "I can only hope the upbeat vibe of ‘London Underground’ will somehow has a positive impact. Music does have power, and I’m now even more dedicated to speaking out, and playing out, on behalf and tolerance in the world."

Looking Up will be released on Aug. 16.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:43 PM

July 9, 2005

Smooth Jazz Pianist Pays Homage To Iron Butterfly

Joe McBride does something a little different on his latest CD.

JoeMcBride.jpgReady for a smooth jazz version of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”?

Pianist Joe McBride offers one for your listening enjoyment on his upcoming CD called Texas Hold ‘Em. The Dallas native's is calling his cover of the Iron Butterfly classic “In A Garden of Eden.”

Unlike the original 1968 version, which clocked in at more than 17 minutes, McBride's’s jazzy version is just a little more than three-and-a-half minutes.

The rest of the 11-song CD features McBride with his group of local musicians known as the Texas Rhythm Club.

Texas Hold ‘Em, McBride’s seventh release for the Heads Up label, will be available on Sept. 27.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:19 AM

July 2, 2005

Luther Vandross Dies At Age 54

Legendary vocalist Luther Vandross, whose music crossed over into the smooth jazz genre, was one of the best.

LutherVandross_bw.gifThe music world lost one of its biggest stars on July 1 when the legendary Luther Vandross died at age 54. Luther, who suffered a debilitating stroke on April 16, 2003, died at JFK Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey, at 1:47 p.m. ET, surrounded by family, friends and a medical support team, a statement from the hospital said.

Ironically, earlier on July 1 a free concert in New York City honored the continuing legacy of Vandross. The concert was sponsored by Divabetic, a diabetes-awareness organization inspired by Vandross with the encouragement and support of Luther’s mother, Mary Ida Vandross.

"You know, Luther always was careful to say that it’s not how you sing that makes the difference," remembers saxophonist Kirk Whalum, who performed on many of Vandross' CDs. "In other words, what inflections you use or what cute little riffs you might sing or, you know, any of that. It’s really the sound of your voice that impacts people. And I think that’s another way of saying that it’s really God’s gift that really impacts people."

Luther, of course, has had numerous top hits, such as “Any Love,” “Stop to Love,” “Give Me the Reason,” “Here and Now” and many, many others.

His last album, "Dance With My Father" sold about 442,000 units in its first week of release ending June 15, 2003, according to industry retail monitor Nielsen SoundScan.

In July 2004, the GRP label released “Forever, For Always, For Luther,” which featured some of the biggest names in smooth jazz lending their talents to a tribute album in honor of Vandross. The first single from that album, “Your Secret Love” by saxophonist Richard Elliot, went all the way to No. 1 on the smooth jazz charts.

And earlier this year, it was announced that record label mogul Clive Davis was planning another tribute to Vandross, this time on his Arista label, which Luther was signed to. In another tribute to Vandross, over the Memorial Day weekend, several Smooth Jazz performers united in tribute to the great singer on a special live tour called Forever, For Always, For Luther. The tour, produced by Vandross’s good friend Rex Rideout and Art Good of the nationally syndicated JazzTrax radio show, starred saxophonist Kirk Whalum, keyboardist Brian Culbertson, guitarist Paul Jackson Jr. and vocalist Lalah Hathaway.

The concert also was performed June 18 in Bear Bear Lake, California, and will be a big part of the 19th annual Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival in October.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:12 AM

June 30, 2005

Euge Groove Goes Retro With A Real Album

The saxophonist releases details on his new project.

Saxophonist Euge Groove has just finished work on his fourth solo album, his second for the Narada label and follow-up to 2003’s Livin’ Large. On the new album, Just Feels Right, Groove decided to look back to the past and make an album with a beginning and an end - he wrote the first song first and continued to the end to make the album a cohesive whole.

"We decided that we were gonna try and do like a real retro ‘70s type of an album," says Paul Brown, who produced the CD. "We got some great old musicians, and it’s a very live-oriented type of record. Euge has definitely got that screaming tenor. He’s got that barrelhouse thing going on. I think it’s cool. Everybody loves Euge, you know?"

Although there is a cover of “Just My Imagination,” the album features other original material with titles such as “Get Em Goin’,” “Straight Up,” “This Must Be For Real” and “Ballerina Girl.” There are eight full songs and three interludes, called “gimmealilclick,” “gonnatakeyouhigher” and “cantstopthefunk.”

Musicians include Clarence McDonald keyboards, Freddie Washington on bass, Ray Parker Jr. on guitar, David T. Walker on guitar, Lenny Castro on percussion and James Gatson on drums.

Just Feels Right will be released on Aug. 30.

Just Feels Right

1. gimmealilclick
2. Get Em Goin
3. Chillaxin
4. Just My Imagination (Runnin Away With Me)
5. gonnatakeuhigher
6. Straight Up
7. This Must Be For Real
8. Just Feels Right
9. cantstopdafunk
10. 12:08 AM
11. Ballerina Girl

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:21 AM

June 26, 2005

Dave Koz Wins DJ Award For Second Straight Year

Dave Koz has been recognized once again for his morning radio show in Los Angeles.

Dave_Koz2.jpgSaxophonist Dave Koz on on June 24 won for the third time in the Smooth Jazz personality/show of the year category at the Radio & Records national industry convention in Cleveland.

Koz also won that award last year and in 2002. He won for “The Dave Koz Radio Show,” a morning show on KTWV-The Wave in Los Angeles. Sharing in Dave’s award was co-host Pat Prescott.

For the second time in a row, Koz was also nominated in the syndicated personality of the year for the syndicated version of his radio show, which was won by the duo of Bob & Tom.

Also among the winners were WNUA of Chicago, KSSJ in Sacramento and WCJZ of Charlottsville, Va., for stations of the year in their respective markets; Paul Goldstein of KTWV in Los Angeles for program director of the year; Suzanne Berg of the Verve Music Group for promotion executive of the year; Kelly Cole of KiFM in San Diego for music director of the year; and Verve Music Group for label of the year.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:47 AM

June 21, 2005

Gregg Karukas Is Looking Up

Veteran keyboarist Gregg Karukas has signed to a new label.

GreggKarukas.jpgSmooth Jazz pianist Gregg Karukas – best known for his No. 1 smooth jazz single “Night Shift” – has signed to the Trippin N Rhythm recording label, which also features Smooth Jazz musician Paul Hardcastle.

Karukas has completed a new album for the label called “Looking Up.” The upcoming album, Gregg’s 10th, features guest performances from trumpeter Rick Braun, saxophonist and flutist Andy Suzuki, and a host of guitarists – Peter White, Richard Smith, Michael O’Neill, Ricardo Silveira and Thom Rotella.

Karukas says the 11-song album is the culmination of a year’s effort to explore new grooves and write songs that focus more on the acoustic piano. In addition to a song called “Corner Club” that is dedicated to the music of Brazilian vocalist Milton Nascimento, the album features such titles as “Girl in the Red Dress,” “London Underground,” “First Flight Home” and “Isabella.”

Looking Up will be released on Aug. 16.

GreggKarukasLookingUp.jpgLooking Up

1. Girl in the Red Dress (Gregg Karukas)
2. London Underground (Gregg Karukas)
3. Looking Up (Gregg Karukas)
4. Relentless (Gregg Karukas)
5. First Flight Home (Gregg Karukas)
6. Show Me the Way (Gregg Karukas)
7. Corner Club/Clube da Esquina (Gregg Karukas)
8. Isabella (Gregg Karukas)
9. CrossRhodes (Gregg Karukas)
10. Deep Into You (Gregg Karukas)
11. Lost in Negril (Gregg Karukas)

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:26 AM

June 8, 2005

Showtime Comedy "Weeds" Will Feature Music By Nils

Guitarist Nils is creating music for a cable TV show.

Nils-1.jpgSmooth jazz guitarist Nils, whose “Pacific Coast Highway” has topped the Smooth Jazz charts for four weeks, is now busy working on the score for a new U.S. cable TV show called Weeds.

Nils, who full name is Nils Jiptner, was raised in Germany and now lives in Southern California.

The comedy stars Mary-Louise Parker as a PTA mom who sells marijuana to help get by after her husband dies. The show co-stars Elizabeth Perkins and Kevin Nealon and is created by Jenji Kohan, who also created the HBO series “Tracey Takes On …”

As a composer for both television and film, Nils recently provided original music and re-mixes for the 2004 and 2005 Independent Spirit Awards. He also recently composed music for an independent movie called Sinners that was released on video in 2004.

Weeds will debut on Showtime Aug. 10th at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT. If you're in the San Francisco area on June 16, you can catch Nils as he'll be performing at a brand-new club called Shanghai 1930. The show is sponsored by San Francisco smooth jazz radio station KKSF.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:27 AM

June 3, 2005

Kirk Whalum Will Cover Babyface Songs

Kirk Whalum will pay homage to Babyface.

Saxophonist Kirk Whalum, who last month signed a recording contract with the Rendezvous Entertainment record label, is recording an album based on the songbook by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. It is expected to be released in September.

Babyface, of course, is a singer, producer and songwriter who has had top hits on his own and has written them for many others. Whalum has toured with Babyface and recorded one of his songs – on his 1993 album called Cache he includes Babyface’s “Love Saw It.”

It was back in 1998 Whalum released a cover album of some of his favorite songs called For You.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 9:40 PM

It's No Mystery: ARTizen Offers Free Richard Elliot Song

Saxophonist Richard Elliot recorded a song called "Mystery" that can only be downloaded - for free. You do have to register, however.

RichardElliotMetroBlue.jpg?If you want to hear purchase Richard Elliot’s upcoming album called Metro Blue, you have to wait until it’s released on June 28. But, right now, you can download a song called “Mystery” that Richard recorded especially for his fans to download off the Internet. You can find the four-minute song at www.artizenmusic.com, a website that was unveiled this week.

ARTizen Music is the new record label that Elliot and trumpeter and partner Rick Braun debuted late last year. By the way, you won’t find “Mystery” on Metro Blue. The song was recorded during the same session as the new CD, but specifically for the free Internet download.

"It was done as an additional track to ‘Metro Blue,’ but for the specific purpose of not putting in on the CD," Elliot says. "You can only get it on the website. And it’s 100 percent free. You don’t have to buy the CD to get the track. We’re embracing the online side of things whole-heartedly. We know it’s been a little bit of a dilemma for some of the larger labels. All new technologies have challenges that you have to overcome."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 1:10 AM

May 28, 2005

Eric Marienthal CD Of Covers To Be One Of Many This Year

Get ready for a summer of cover songs by some of your favorite smooth jazz releases. For example, from saxophonist Eric Marienthal. Stay tuned for information on other projects.

Saxophonist Eric Marienthal is covering some of his favorite songs for his upcoming album called, appropriately enough, Got You Covered. The CD is Marienthal’s third for the Peak Records label and follows Sweet Talk from 2003.

The music choice is eclectic – the Beatles“I Will,” the Bee Gees“Emotions,” a selection by classical composer Bach, Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind,” Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” and Gino Vanelli’s “I Just Want to Stop,” among others.

The album was recorded live in the studio in a quartet setting and features pianist Russell Ferrante, drummer Peter Erskine and bassist Dave Carpenter.

Got You Covered is produced by Russ Freeman of the Rippingtons, who co-founded the Peak record label. Marienthal plays sax on the Rippingtons' new CD called Wild Card and is touring with the band this year. "It’s a very different kind of an album," Freeman says. "What’s unique about it is his song choices – they’re all cover songs. And they’re very wide-ranging. From Frank Sinatra to Gino Vanelli to some pop standards. It's really a beautiful record."

Got You Covered will be released on Sept. 20.

Got You Covered

1. I Will (John Lennon-Paul McCartney)
2. New York State Of Mind (Billy Joel)
3. Love & Liberte (Tonino Baliardo-Nicolas Reyes)
4. Compared To What (Gene McDaniels)
5. I’ve Got The World On A String (Harold Arlen-Ted Koehler)
6. Emotion (Barry Gibb-Robin Gibb)
7. Two Part Invention #4 in D Minor (Johann Sebastian Bach)
8. My One And Only Love (Robert Mellin-Guy Wood)
9. You’ve Got A Friend (Carole King)
10. Stand By Me (Ben E. King-Jerry Leiber-Mike Stoller)
11. Moody's Mood For Love (James Moody-Dorothy Fields-Jimmy McHugh)
12. I Just Want To Stop (Gino Vannelli-Ross Vannelli)

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:18 AM

May 27, 2005

New Paul Hardcastle Project Is Hardcastle 4

British smoooth jazz star Paul Hardcastle is getting ready to release Hardcastle 4.

British instrumentalist and producer Paul Hardcastle has finished his new album, “Hardcastle 4,” his follow-up to 2003’s “The Jazzmasters 4” featuring the No. 1 smooth jazz single “Puerto Banus.”

Although Paul helms both “Hardcastle” and “Jazzmasters” projects, the “Hardcastle” album tend to be a bit more uptempo and experimental. The new 12-song album, in addition to featuring such titles as the first single “Serene,” “Moments in Time” and “Eastern Winds,” actually features a song called “Smooth Jazz.”

“Hardcastle 4” will be released by the Trippin 'N' Rhythm label on July 12.

Hardcastle 4

1. Serene
2. Freefall
3. Smooth Jazz
4. Keeping it Real
5. Moments in Time
6. Was it Love
7. Midnight Moon
8. Eastern Winds
9. Where Are You Now
10. Straight Ahead
11. Time to Reflect
12. Journey of the Lost Tribes

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:42 AM

Smooth Jazz Books Its First Cruise To Alaska

Who needs the heat? You can sail to Alaska with Michael Paulo and friends this summer.

image002.jpgThere are several smooth jazz cruises options these days, and they all take you to sunny climes such as Mexico and the Caribbean. But now there’s an option for those who want to see killer whales and snow-capped mountains.

Saxophonist Michael Paulo is the music director for the first-ever Alaskan Smooth Jazz Cruise, which will depart from Seattle on August 27, returning on September 3. Paulo, who organizes the annual Temecula Jazz Festival in Southern California, has secured 200 cabins aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam cruise ship. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same ship that will hold the inaugural Dave Koz & Friends cruise in November.

Artists confirmed for the cruise – which will make ports of call in Victoria, British Columbia, and the Alaskan towns of Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan – include saxophonist Everette Harp, pianist Dan Siegel, guitarist Ray Fuller and vocalists Kenny Rankin and Pauline Wilson.

For more information, you can call 888-891-8385 or 951-296-5300 or log on to www.choicevacations.com. Of course, you can of course be sure that Paulo will be on the cruise. He’ll be playing songs from his upcoming album called “Beautiful.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:41 AM

May 21, 2005

Michael Lington Dating Movie Star

Smooth jazz saxophonist Michael Lington is dating a Hollywood actress he met at a car wash.

Michael-Lington-Pic-3.jpgSaxophonist Michael Lington has been spotted hand-in-hand with the beautiful Hollywood actress Donnamarie Recco. Recco has appeared in such motion pictures as Analyze This and View From the Top and had a guest-starring role on the TV hit The Sopranos. They first met at a Los Angeles area car wash.

Recently, Recco was spotted cheering in the crowd as Lignton performed live at the Lexus Jazz Festival in Newport Beach, California. Michael, who turns 36 next month, is a native of Denmark and now lives in the Hollywood Hills. Recco is a fast-rising star whose most visible roles so far have been as Robert De Niro’s girlfriend Sheila in both Analysis This and the sequel, Analyze That. She also played a character named Mistress Victoria in Auto Focus, a 2002 movie about Hogan’s Heroes star Bob Crane and starring Greg Kinnear.

On the small screen, Recco had a leading role in the PAX TV movie Murder Amongst Friends and has appeared on Judging Amy, NYPD Blue, Law & Order and Third Watch.

Lington's most recent CD is called Stay With Me. It features the current Top 5 smooth jazz single called "Two of a Kind.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 1:43 AM

May 16, 2005

Next Rick Braun Project Will Be Guitar-Based Cover Songs

Rick Braun has announced a few details about his next CD.

artist_3051.jpgSmooth jazz trumpeter Rick Braun is now working on a brand-new album that will be unlike any he’s ever done – every track is a cover song. Braun is still sifting through which ones he wants to interpret, but says he has finished three already with guitarist Jon Pondel, who was a member of the jazz-fusion group Kombo. Also among the artists expected on the album are guitarist and vocalist Jonathan Butler and guitarists Peter White and Norman Brown.

Braun says he want the album to have an acoustic, unplugged approach with a guitar foundation. He’ll draw from the jazz, pop and R&B worlds. The album, expected to be released later this year, will be Braun’s second for his ARTizen label, which he co-founded with saxophonist Richard Elliot. Rick’s previous album, “Sessions: Volume 1,” was released in June 2004.

"There are going to be songs that have been a part of my life, from the eighth grade on," says Braun. "Just songs that have had a special meaning to me throughout my life. Starting from very early on up until, like, last Thursday."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:57 AM

Gerald Albright Trades Southern California For Rocky Mountains

Gerald Albright joins fellow saxophonists Nelson Rangell and Warren Hill in Colorado.

GeraldAlbright.jpgSmooth jazz saxophonist Gerald Albright recently traded the sunny climes of Southern California for the mile-high altitude of Denver, Colorado. In doing so, Albright joins fellow saxophonists Nelson Rangell, who lives in the Denver suburb of Littleton, and Warren Hill, who lives west of Denver in the town of Boulder, as residents of the Centennial State.

The move came abut after Albright, who lived in Ventura County, did a benefit performance late last year in Denver for Elijah’s Rainbow, a nonprofit organization that provides financial medical assistance for children in need of medical coverage. After exploring the city for a few days wife his wife Glynis and two children, they soon made plans to make the move.

Albright still has commitments in Los Angeles, not the least of which is performing in the house band for FOX’s highly rated “American Idol.” But since there are only two more weeks for the current version of the show, he’ll soon be able to spend much more time in the land of the Rocky Mountains before heading back to – you guessed it – California for a show on June 11.

"We looked at the city and different properties," says Albright. "It just felt so comfortable and spiritual for us that we decided to make the move to Denver. We’re really enjoying the atmosphere, the people, and the fact that there’s less traffic here. We’re even enjoying the change in climate. You know, going from a sunny day of 70 degrees to snow blizzards. It’s all good – it’s nature at its best."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:51 AM

May 10, 2005

Song of the Week: Bradley Leighton – “Europa”

bradleyleighton2.jpg“Europa,” the smooth jazz radio staple written by Carlos Santana and Tom Coster and also performed by saxophonist Gato Barbieri, gets a new twist from Bradley Leighton. Leighton performs the song on the alto flute, backed by the trio of Rob Whitlock on Hammond B3 organ, Bob Boss on guitar and Duncan Moore on drums.

It’s dreamy.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:26 PM

May 9, 2005

Anita Baker Announces First Tour Dates

The veteran singer has scheduled four shows, with more to come.

AnitaBaker.jpg Anita Baker, who returned to the recording scene last September after a 10-year absence, has announced the first four shows for her summer tour.

The shows are June 25 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, July 16 at the Palace in Detroit, July 23 at Jones Beach Theater in New York and July 30 at the United Center in Chicago. More nationwide dates are expected to be announced soon.

Baker will be performing songs from My Everything on the Blue Note label, which has sold more than 500,000 copies and features the smooth jazz singles “You’re My Everything” and “How Does It Feel.”

She'll no doubt also be performing many familiar songs from her vast repertoire.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:41 PM

May 6, 2005

Paul Brown's Second CD Sounds Like A Winner

The veteran producer has finished a brand-new CD that features more of his guitar playing.

PaulBrown.jpgSmooth jazz producer Paul Brown, who released his debut solo album in February 2004 called Up Front, has now finished his follow-up. The City, the guitarist and vocalist’s second effort for the GRP label, offers 11 songs, including a cover of the Grover Washington Jr. classic called “Winelight.”

Brown also includes a cover of a song called “Real Mutha For Ya” by the legendary blues musician Johnny “Guitar” Watson. On the song, Brown plays the talk-box - you remember, like Peter Frampton did on "Do You Feel Like We Do?" In addition, he wraps his vocals around the classic early 1970s song “The City” by the Mark-Almond Band, in addition to offering an instrumental version of that song.

Other tracks include “Side Steppin’,” “Cosmic Monkey,” “Hello Again” and “Las Vegas.”

"It still has the vibe of the first CD, but it's a little bit more intense on the guitar playing," says Brown. "There’s a few things that are kind of psychedelic, a couple things that are just stone-cold old-school funk. I pulled out all the stops."

The CD shows off Brown's guitar playing and packs several radio-friendly singles in addition to some stylish and jazzy cuts. Of course, the production is first-rate since it comes straight from Brown's Funky Joint studio in Southern California.

The CD will be another winner for Brown, who has had two smooth jazz hits from Up Front - "24/7" and the current "Moment By Moment."

The City will be released on July 12.

The City

1. Cosmic Monkey
2. Hello Again
3. Side Steppin'
4. The City
5. Las Vegas
6. Old Friends
7. Winelite
8. Jumpin' Uptown
9. Food for the Moon
10. Reel Mutha for Ya
11. The City (instrumental)

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:03 AM

Hidden Tracks Revealed

More and more smooth jazz artists are opting for hidden tracks to express themselves.

Although with the advent of the CD they might not be so hard to find anymore, more and more smooth jazz artists are including hidden tracks at the end of their albums.

First up this year was saxophonist Mindi Abair, who included the six-minute “26 Hemenway” on her most recent project called Come As You Are. On the song, Mindi displays her traditional jazz skills as she pays homage to one of her favorite players, the late Cannonball Adderley. The song, co-written by Rusell Ferrante of the Yellowjackets, gets its title from the address where Mindi lived while attending Berklee College of Music in Boston.

"I just thought, wow, this has to be on the record," says Abair. "And I know this wasn't what people are expecting from me, to hear this traditional jazz, fast swing kind of thing. But I just thought, it is a part of who I am and I just think we should put it on there and make it this fun, special little hidden track. I felt like fans who go the extra mile and just let the CD play will get a nice little surprise."

Chuck Loeb followed Abair with an untitled track at the end of his new When I’m With You album. The jazz-funk song, which clocks in at four minutes and thirty seconds, features guitarist Loeb on the bass.

Then there’s guitarist Chieli Minucci, who actually put four hidden tracks on his CD called Got It Goin’ On, which you’ll only hear if you keep playing the CD in order without skipping around tracks in your CD player. They are actually more like interludes than hidden tracks. The last hidden track comes more than two minutes after the end of the last song, “Still Waiting.”

Finally, on saxophonist Steve Cole’s brand-new CD, Spin, a hidden track appears more than 30 seconds after the final song. The track, which is more than three minutes, is a chill-music groove with strings and Steve’s sax playing.

So keep on listening when it appears your CD is over – you just never know what will pop up.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:53 AM

May 4, 2005

Bob Baldwin Brings Smooth Jazz Fest To Greater New York

Those living near New York City will finally have a weekend smooth jazz concert to call their own.

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This July, you can be sure that Bob Baldwin won’t have any trouble getting on the bill for the first-ever Croton Music Festival. That’s because the smooth jazz pianist created the event, signed the musicians to perform and is helping to publicize the event.

Although there are other jazz festivals in the New York area over the summer, they usually features mainstream jazz artists.

Baldwin's festival will be held July 9-10 at Croton Point Park in the town of Croton, about 35 miles north of New York City on the Hudson River. Confirmed acts include saxophonist Marion Meadows, Pieces of a Dream, flutist Dave Valentin, vibraphonist Roy Ayers and vocalists Bobby Caldwell, Michael Franks, Phil Perry and Stephanie Mills.

Of course, Baldwin – whose latest album is called Brazil Chill – will also be performing at the concert in Westchester County, which he calls home. For more information, go to www.crotonmusicfest.com.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:14 AM

Groovin' For Grover Adds Kirk Whalum

Groovin' for Grover will feature Kirk Whalum this year.

KirkWhalum_live.jpgThe smooth jazz tour known as Groovin’ For Grover, which debuted its celebration of the music and life of the late saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. last year, will continue this year with a new lineup.

Saxophonist Kirk Whalum will now join fellow saxophonist Gerald Albright and keyboardist and musical director Jeff Lorber when the tour kicks off in June. Last year’s tour also featured saxophonists Richard Elliot and Paul Taylor. Taylor is now working on a solo tour to promote his new album, Nightlife, while Elliott is booked throughout the year as part of the Jazz Attack tour with trumpeter Rick Braun, guitarist Peter White and guitarist and vocalist Jonathan Butler.

This year’s tour, like last year’s, will benefit the Protect the Dream Foundation, a nonprofit site based in Grover’s hometown of Philadelphia that is dedicated to enriching the lives of young people through music education. The tour will debut its new lineup June 24 in Houston, Texas.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:10 AM

April 27, 2005

Gerald Albright Finds A Home

Gerald Albright has reached an agreement with a new label.

GeraldAlbright.jpgSmooth jazz saxophonist Gerald Albright has signed to Peak Records. Albright joins a roster that includes Peak co-founder Russ Freeman and his band the Rippingtons, Paul Taylor, David Benoit, Eric Marienthal, the Braxton Brothers and the most recent singing, guitarist Lee Ritenour.

Gerald’s most recent album, Kickin’ It Up, was released in June 2004 by GRP label and featured the No. 1 smooth jazz single called “To The Max.” Gerald’s first album for GRP, Groovology, was released in 2002. Before that, the saxophonist was signed to Atlantic Records.

Expect a new release from Albright early in 2006.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:28 AM

Rick Braun, Dave Koz and Gerald Albright on Jonathan Butler CD

Jonathan Butler's debut for Rendezvous Entertainment will be released on May 17. It is by far the guitarist's best smooth jazz work.

j_butler.jpgGuitarist and vocalist Jonathan Butler has called on trumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonists Dave Koz and Gerald Albright for his upcoming album called, simply enough, Jonathan. The album is Butler’s first for the Rendezvous Entertainment label, which Koz co-founded, and also features Dave Dyson on bass, Greg Wachter on keyboards, Eric Valentine on drums and David Diggs with string arrangements.

"Thanks to Dave Koz for twisting my arm and talking me into it," Butler says.

The album marks a return to Butler’s smooth jazz roots, as there are nine instrumental songs and two vocal tracks, “Baby Love” and the first single, a cover of James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” featuring blues guitarist Jonny Lang on electric guitar. Instrumental songs, which feature Jonathan’s acoustic guitar, include “Rio,” “10 Degrees South,” “Sweet Island Love” and “Sprit Of Our Nation.”

Jonathan

1. Rio (Jonathan Butler)
2. Mandela Bay (Jonathan Butler)
3. 10 Degrees South (Jonathan Butler)
4. Randy's Song (Jonathan Butler)
5. Fire and Rain (James V. Taylor)
6. Precious Things (Jonathan Butler)
7. Sweet Island Love (Jonathan Butler)
8. Baby Love (Jonathan Butler)
9. For a Friend (Jonathan Butler)
10. Spirit of Our Nation (Jonathan Butler-David Batteau)
11. Move Me (Jonathan Butler)

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:24 AM

April 26, 2005

Chris Standring Creating Music Label For "JazzTronica" Music

Chris Standring he's excited about his upcoming CD, which he plans to release on his own label.

ChrisStandring_bw.jpgSmooth jazz guitarist Chris Standring, who has released three solo albums with two record labels, has decided create his own label. Chris and his longtime musical partner Rodney Lee will focus on music that they’re calling "JazzTronica," which has elements of smooth jazz, traditional jazz and chill music.

Chris says he’ll eventually invite other artists to record on the label, drawing on the talents of producers in Europe. Standring, whose last album was called Groovalicious, is now in the middle of writing and recording the debut CD for the label, which at this point does not have a name. The CD is expected early in 2006.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:49 AM

April 22, 2005

Richard Elliot Calls On Top Stars For New CD

Saxophonist Richard Elliot's Metro Blue will be the first all-new CD for the Artisan label.

jazz-richard-elliot.jpgThe first album of all new material by one of smooth jazz’s newest record labels have some of its biggest stars represented. Artisan Records, which was co-founded last year by trumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Richard Elliot, called on some heavy hitters for Elliot’s new album called Metro Blue.

Recruited for the project were Braun, guitarist Peter White and keyboardists Brian Culbertson, Jeff Lorber, Gregg Karukas and Rex Rideout. Also on the album are bassists Nate Philips and Ronnie Garrett, drummer Michael White, guitarist Dwight Sills and keyboardist Phil Davis.

The CD, co-produced by Elliot and Braun, features such titles as “Inside Out,” “Coastline,” “Chill Bill” and a cover of the classic “People Make the World Go Round.” The latter is the first song released to smooth jazz radio.

The CD is Richard’s follow-up to Ricochet, which was released in 2003 by the GRP label. Metro Blue will be released on June 28.

Metro Blue

1. Inside Out – 4:10
2. Camella – 4:06
3. Coastline - 4:34
4. People Make The World Go Round - 4:25
5. Say It’s So - 4:13
6. Chill Bill - 4:01
7. Mystique - 4:28
8. Mango Tango - 4:38
9. Maxis - 4:01
10. Metro Blue - 2:55

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:24 AM

Song of the Week: Steve Cole – “Spin”

SteveCole_Spin.jpgThe first single from saxophonist Steve Cole’s new CD is called “Thursday,” and it’s a catchy number. But the real pop gem on Spin is the title track. The jaunty track features Cole on tenor sax and guitar and has funky Hammond B-3 background jive by Ricky Peterson. This is a toe-tapper to end all toe-tappers, a head-shaking pop nugget that will have you smiling all day. Just try to get the melody out of your head.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:23 AM

April 20, 2005

Keb' Mo' To Serenade Mindi Abair at wedding

Mindi Abair has called on a good friend to sing her first song at her wedding reception on Saturday.

Saxophonist Mindi Abair is now sorting out last-minute details for her wedding on April 23, which will be held in her native Florida. Mindi will be tying the knot with studio musician and composer Jason Steele.

"We chose the 23rd because it’s a special date in my family," Abair says. "My birthday’s May 23, my parents got married on April 23 and my grandmother’s birthday was November 23. You know, lots of 23s."

The wedding will be very private, and good friend and blues musician Keb’ Mo’ will perform the first dance for the new couple at the reception. He’ll sing his song called “Every Morning.” Meanwhile, R&B legend Smokey Robinson popped into the studio during rehearsals for the Guitars & Saxes tour last week to wish Mindi good luck on her big day. Mindi was rehearsing Smokey’s “Crusin” with fellow Guitars & Saxes members Wayman Tisdale, Jeff Golub and Warren Hill. Wayman covers the song on his latest album.

"I’ll be a missus very soon," says Abair. She plans to use the name Mindi Abair-Steele in her personal life, but will continue with just Mindi Abair in her recording career.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:44 AM

Coca-Cola Ad Pokes Fun At Smooth Jazz

A new billboard campaign for an energy drink takes a poke at smooth jazz music.

Coke_ad.jpgHave you seen the new billboard for a beverage called Full Throttle Energy Drink? Well, here’s what the ad says: “Do not expose to smooth jazz. 16 ounces of raw energy.” As you can see, the Coca-Cola Company is making a little fun of smooth jazz’s perception – for some, anyway – as nice, quiet music that you can relax to. And for those of us who enjoy it that way, there is some truth to the perception.

But Coca-Cola may not want to place the billboards near any of the high-energy smooth jazz festivals now beginning to dot the landscape. That would include Guitars & Saxes, with saxophonists Warren Hill and Mindi Abair, guitarist Jeff Golub and bassist Wayman Tisdale, which began over the weekend in California. Not to mention Jazz Attack, with trumpeter Rick Braun, saxophonist Richard Elliot, guitarist Peter White and guitarist and vocalist Jonathan Butler.

As anyone who has seen these shows will testify to, the last thing these energetic performers need is 16 more ounces of raw energy.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:37 AM

April 16, 2005

Basia Returns With Matt Bianco

Why did the singer Basia spend 10 years away from the recording studio?

basia3.jpgWhen considering the 2005 comeback of the smooth jazz singer known as Basia, it’s difficult not to consider the similar re-emergence of Anita Baker. Like Baker, Basia was extremely popular on the smooth jazz airwaves more than 10 years ago thanks to sophisticated, hummable tunes like “New Day for You” and “Cruising for Bruising.” Like Baker, also, Basia disappeared after 1994 to take a break from the rigors of recording and touring and to tend to family matters.

Basia is back now, touring more than 25 cities in the U.S. this month and in May. She’s also singing lead vocals on a new CD called Matt’s Mood. It’s not technically a solo Basia CD, as she’s reunited with a group called Matt Bianco, a band featuring Danny White and Mark Reilly with which she embarked on her musical career as a backing vocalist in the early 1980s.

More on Matt Bianco and Basia in a minute.

What everyone wants to know right now is the following: What specifically has been Basia been doing with herself over the past 10 years? Well, for one thing she’s been in a healthy and committed relationship. Once divorced, Basia and trumpeter Kevin Robinson have been a couple for 14 years. Robinson played on all of Basia’s solo albums and contributes to Matt’s Mood. Perhaps because she’s experienced divorce, Basia says she’s in no hurry to get married.

“Music is very important to us, and we have so much in common musically,” says Basia over the phone from her home in London. “He lives and breathes music and is involved in a lot of workshops where he shares his skills. Kevin is an amazing jazz musician.”

But while Basia says her relationship with Robinson brings her much happiness, she found herself under a cloud of inconsolable grief a few years ago when her mother, Kazia Trzetrzelewska, died. “I didn’t work for a long time after she died,” Basia says. She eventually tried to focus on a solo album with White, who was instrumental for much of her solo success. “Danny and I tried, but I just couldn’t put my heart into it. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t sing and was in such incredible grief.”

At age 45, Basia is quick to laugh, seems genuinely happy with her life and her new music and the upcoming U.S. tour. But she admits her mother’s passing crippled her artistically for a couple of years. Kazia was a sounding board, Basia says, so much so that she relied on her for what worked on her CDs and what didn’t. “I lost the most incredible force behind my music. She was such a fan. I realized that a lot of music I did for her.”

When Basia was ready to make music again, White and Reilly played her some tunes they’d been working on and asked her if she wanted to be part of it.

mattbianco_2005.jpgBasia’s comeback was officially on, and Matt’s Mood was released in the U.K. last year and on March 1 this year in the U.S. “Matt Bianco’s style is more refined now, and it’s great to be a part of it,” says Basia. “There’s always been elements of jazz, Latin and R&B, which I love.”

Most vocalists show their talents at any early age. That was certainly the case for Basia Trzetrzelewska, who was born in the Polish industrial town of Jaworzno. At the tender age of 15, she won a national talent competition and shortly after joined an all-girl band called Alibabki that toured Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union for two years. She then joined a Top 40 cover band called Perfect after moving to Chicago to live in the Polish community and became inspired by musicians such as Prince, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder.

Basia moved to London in 1981, where she wrote commercial jingles for such companies as Kleenex and British Airways. Her musical break came when she teamed up with a keyboardist named Danny White, who had placed an ad in the music magazine Melody Maker for a vocalist to join his band called Bronze. (White just so happened to be the brother of a guitarist whose claim to fame at that point came as a session player on albums by folk-rock singer Al Stewart. That guitarist, as you might have guessed, is Peter White, now one of the biggest stars in smooth jazz.) Danny White and Basia soon joined the British band Matt Bianco, who were part of a sophisticated pop-jazz movement in the UK that also boasted Sade, Swing Out Sister, Everything But the Girl and Simply Red. The duo was instrumental in the success of Matt Bianco’s solo CD called Whose Side Are You On? in 1984, although Basia is modest about her input. “I was just a girl who came to help the record sound good as a backing vocalist,” she recalls.

The next year, Basia left the group to focus on a full-fledged solo career, taking musical partner White with her. “The reason I left is because the music I was writing didn’t seen to fit the band,” Basia says. “I get bored easily, and I wanted to try different things – I like to sing samba, but I also like to have a good scream.”

Matt Bianco continued as a popular group with Reilly and keyboardist Mark Fisher and, while never quite breaking through in the U.S., was extremely popular in the U.K. The band released eight acclaimed CDs over a period of 15 years.

Basia, of course, was able to cross over to success in the U.S. immediately with her debut CD in 1987, Time and Tide. Her sophisticated voice, made even more so by her slight accent, was heard on such hits as “New Day for You” and “Time and Tide.” The CD went to the top of Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart – and stayed there for two months – and her next release three years later, London, Warsaw, New York – also went to No. 1 That project featured such memorable songs as “Cruising for Bruising” and “Baby You’re Mine.”

Basia’s next album, 1994’s The Sweetest Illusion, didn’t have the same success as her first two works. It remains her last solo effort, although she did release a live CD in 1995 called Basia on Broadway.

It’s no wonder, then, that more than 10 years later Basia fans are excited by the release of Matt’s Mood, even though it’s technically not a Basia solo album. It was released in the U.K. as simply by Matt Bianco, but in the U.S. is billed as Matt Bianco Featuring Basia, which speaks of the singer’s enduring popularity here.

basia4.jpgMatt Bianco’s sophisticated jazz sound has always been its staple. The band’s name is actually based a character they made up due to the group member’s love of spy movies and theme music. By all accounts, Matt’s Mood – co-written and produced by all three members – has already found its audience. A huge hit in the U.K. and Japan, it has already spawned a couple of hit singles. In the U.S., the first single is called “Ordinary Day,” and it’s not hard to see why this particular song was picked to go to smooth jazz radio. It’s almost a time warp to Basia’s three solo records, with her pop-perfect voice surrounded by an infectious Brazilian-Latin shuffle rhythm.

Basia’s lead vocals are featured on the majority of the songs, but Reilly does get a chance to show his vocal skills as well, such as the charming ballad of regret, “Never Meant To,” and on the Manhattan Transfer-like bop of “Golden Days,” where Basia provides vocal backing. There’s even a funky instrumental chill music tune called “Matt’s Mood III,” which longtime fans will know is a continuation of sorts of the instrumental songs “Matt’s Mood” and “Matt’s Mood II” from the debut Matt Bianco CD.

Also featured on the CD is the late Ronnie Ross, a well-know saxophonist and session player in the U.K. who died at age 58 in 1991. Ross, who performed on the first three Matt Bianco projects, is perhaps best known for his sax solo in Lou Reed’s seminal “Walk on the Wild Side.” Danny White had retained several of Ross’ sax demos, which he used on three songs on Matt’s Mood: “Ronnie’s Samba,” “La Luna” and “Slip & Sliding.”

Will Basia ever record another solo CD? “In a perfect world,” Basia says, “I’d be happy to make another CD with Matt Bianco. At the same time, I’m writing songs that do not suit the band. In an ideal world, I’d make two records – one of my own and one with Matt Bianco.”

Most of the 10 guest musicians will be featured on the upcoming Matt Bianco Featuring Basia tour, with one notable exception – Peter White, who plays guitar and accordion on five tracks. White is, of course, involved in his own tour this year, the new Jazz Attack.

The Matt Bianco Featuring Basia tour was actually to begin earlier, but was postponed after the band have travel problems. “We’re sorry to the fans who missed our first four shows,” Basia says, referring to gigs scheduled for March. “It’s a sign of the times, and none of us had been through this recently. We’re really forward to bringing our music to our fans.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:15 AM

April 12, 2005

Song of the Week: Jonathan Butler – “Fire and Rain”

j_butler.jpgWhether singing the songs of Bob Marley or here with smooth jazz icon James Taylor, guitarist and vocalist Jonathan Butler has no problem making someone else’s song his own. Butler’s vocals can be both tender and masculine at the same time, the slight break in his voice adding even more poignancy. Of course, Butler’s gospel tendencies (his most recent album is praiseworthy) come through with the backgroung choir and a special emphasis on the classic line “look down upon me Jesus.”

Taylor’s classic is born again.

The song is the first single from Buter's upcoming CD called Jonathan. It's due May 17 via Rendezvous Music.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:29 PM

April 3, 2005

Bona Fide Finishes Long-Awaited Third CD

Marc Antoine and Chuck Loeb make guest appearances on Soul Lounge.

slimman.jpgThe smooth jazz group Bona Fide, which will release its third album, Soul Lounge, on the A440 Music label, called on superstars Marc Antoine and Chuck Loeb for its new project. Antoine and Loeb both play guitar on a song called “Midnight Train” and Antoine also performs on the song “23rd Of May.”

The album is the follow-up to The Poe House in 2001 and Royal Function in 1999, which produced the No. 1 smooth jazz hit “X Ray Hip.” The instrumental group Bona Fide is led by Tim Camponeschi, who also records vocal albums under the name Slim Man.

The all-original, 11-song album features the songs “Funk Box,” “The Journey,” “B. More Knights” and “Bona Fide Club,” among others, and once again has many references to the band's hometown of Baltimore.

The CD is expected to be released this summer. Meanwhile, Camponeschi and Bona Fide are firming up touring dates to support the album, and will perform April 16 and April 17 in Washington, D.C.

Soul Lounge

1. Midnight Train (Tim Camponeschi) - 3:29
2. Bona Fide Club (Tim Camponeschi) - 3:34
3. Girard’s (Tim Camponeschi) - 5:32
4. 23rd of May (Tim Camponeschi) - 3:58
5. Funk Box (Kevin Levi) - 4:08
6. The Journey (Tim Camponeschi) - 4:13
7. B. More Knights (Joe Ercole) - 2:55
8. Rosebank Gang (Tim Camponeschi) - 3:23
9. Bromo Tower (Tim Camponeschi) - 3:04
10. Soul Lounge (Tim Camponeschi) - 6:35
11. Deep Chill (Tim Camponeschi) - 13:02

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:36 AM

April 1, 2005

Song of the Week: Dave Koz – “Let It Free”

It seems that every Dave Koz CD has that magical song with the killer hook. I never thought he’d top “Together Again” from The Dance in 1999, but the saxophonist comes close with “Let It Free,” the No. 1 song on Radio & Records’ smooth jazz charts for two weeks now.

Interestingly, the song – written by Dave and his brother, Jeff Koz – was named by a second-grade girl at her school's career day. The Koz brothers played the as-yet untitled song and asked the class for suggestions. “A young lady raised her hand,” Dave recalls, “and she said, I think you should call it ‘Let It Free.’ My brother and I look at each other and we go, hmm. That’s actually good!”

"Let It Free" is the third No. 1 song from the CD Saxophonic, following "Honey-Dipped" and "All I See Is You."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:45 PM

March 26, 2005

With New CD Coming in September, Chris Botti Wants To Be Like Miles Davis

Trumpet player Chris Botti says he's working on a new CD that is an extension of When I Fall in Love. Look for it in September.

chris_botti_blue.jpgChris Botti, whose breakthrough album of jazz standards called When I Fall In Love has sold more than 500,000 copies, will do more of the same for his next project. Botti says he wants to follow the model of Miles Davis, who recorded several albums with the same theme with his partner, Gil Evans.

“Miles did those collaborative things with Gil Evans," Botti says. "Hopefully this could be my sort of thing too, and he did three or four of those records. I think it’ll be the logical extension to When I Fall in Love. We’re going have a couple of other surprise guests on the record and it’s going be done in very much the same way as the last one, in probably eight or nine days in Los Angeles and in London.”

Although he is currently busy touring, Botti says he and producer Bobby Columby are selecting songs for the new album, which will be recorded in June and released by October.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:14 AM

Ottmar Liebert Working On An Album With No Titles

Ottmar Liebert plans something a little different with his next project.

OttmarLiebert.jpgFlamenco guitarist Ottmar Liebert is now working on the second in what he’s calling the Blue solo series. The first album, from 2002, was an album of lullaby songs called In the Arms of Love: Lullabies 4 Children + Adults. Liebert says, however, that the new album called Tears In The Rain will not be another lullaby record. Instead, the album will be unique in that it will not have any recognizable titles – each track will have a series of numbers taken from the time and date they are recorded.

Liebert says he wants listeners to hear the music without any suggestions from him as to what the song may be about.

Liebert is also working on a new holiday CD.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:10 AM

March 22, 2005

Song of the Week: Dalminjo – “Bossa Note”

Dalminjo, a new artist with a Brazilian-sounding name and a hit called “Bossa Note,” is – wouldn’t you know it – from icy Norway. Dalminjo is actually the name adopted by Ole Roar Granli, a producer who has previously recorded under the name ORG Lounge.

Anyway, it just goes to show how influential Brazilian music is worldwide, especially in the chill/downtempo genre.

Dalminjo has the groove down pat, with nicely repeating acoustical guitar chords, soft percussion and lush background vocals straight from a Bond movie.

This delicious song is from Dalminjo’s CD Fjord Fusioneer on the Kriztal label.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:20 AM

March 18, 2005

Visa Problems Postpone Matt Bianco Featuring Basia Tour

Matt Bianco Featuring Basia will now begin its U.S. tour in April.

An international snafu – in large part caused by restrictions put in place after September 11th – caused the cancellation of the first leg of the US. tour of Matt Bianco Featuring Basia.

Basia reports that the band’s tour manager submitted the members’ visas too late, and when the band tried to enter the country from their native England they were told their papers were not in order. A visa is required for both visits to the U.S. and those seeking residence.

“We’re sorry to the fans who missed our first four shows,” Basia says, referring to gigs scheduled for last week. “It’s a sign of the times, and none of us had been through this recently.”

Matt Bianco Featuring Basia recently released an album called Matt’s Mood with the single called “Ordinary Day.” The album marks a comeback for Basia, who hasn’t toured in the States since the mid-1990s. Meanwhile, the band has worked out its travel arrangements and will now begin its U.S. tour on April 5 in Minneapolis. All of the cancelled shows have been rescheduled or will be rescheduled shortly.

The tour will feature Basia and Matt Bianco's Danny White and Mark Reilly. In addition, numerous other musicians who appeared on Matt's Mood will join the tour, including trumpeter Kevin Robinson. Robinson, who appeared on all of Basia's solo albums, has been in a relationship with the singer for 14 years.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:56 AM

March 16, 2005

Hillary Clinton Invites Chris Botti To Perform At Fundraiser

Chris Botti will be the only performer at a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser for Hillary Clinton.

chrisbotti3.jpgLast year, the world discovered that Oprah Winfrey is a huge Chris Botti fan when she praised his music before he performed on her popular TV show. Now it can be assumed that Botti has a huge fan in another of one of America’s most powerful women: New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

The senator has invited Botti to be the only musical performer at fundraiser in New York City on March 21. While Botti will be playing at the event at the Hudson Theatre in Manhattan, this is not a standard Chris Botti show – tickets are $1,000 per plate. Botti even wants his fans to know that while the event is open to the public, its purpose is to support Clinton more than it is a chance to see him perform. Clinton's six-year term in the Senate expires next year, and speculation has it that she may even make a bid for the presidency in 2008.

Performing at the fund-raiser for the former First Lady of the United States is just part of what’s been an incredible run for the very successful Botti. He recalls when he knew he had officially crossed over into superstardom before performing last year at a Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo, Norway:

“I walked into this press conference, and there was this long table and a million photographers," he says. "And the artists that were supposed to play at the performance that night were all there. Diana Krall, Tony Bennett, Cyndi Lauper, Joss Stone, Patti LaBelle, myself, Andrea Bocelli. And it was hosted by Tom Cruise and Oprah Winfrey. And I kind of sat there and said to myself – being the only instrumentalist on the bill, playing in front of worldwide television – I just said, 'Well, I feel that the sound of my instrument crossed over at the moment.' And then I freaked out.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 11:39 PM

March 15, 2005

Dave Koz Announces His Friends For Annual Summer Tour

Dave Koz has named the three artists who will join him on his annual tour.

DaveKoz_ship.jpgProducer and saxophonist Praful, guitarist Marc Antoine and vocalist Jeffrey Osborne will join saxophonist Dave Koz for the fourth edition of the Dave Koz & Friends Summer Nights tour.

Osborne performed on the tour last year, but it will mark the debut on the summer tour for Antoine, who has previously joined Koz on his annual Christmas tour. The show is also the debut for Praful, the Amsterdam-based artist who has scored hits with “Sigh” and “Let The Chips Fall.” Praful, like Antoine, is signed to Dave’s Rendezvous Entertainment label.

You can expect the tour schedule for this year’s Dave Koz & Friends Smooth Summer Nights tour, which will visit more than 25 cities in the U.S., to be announced soon. Meanwhile, all of the artists will be reunited in November on the inaugural Dave Koz & Friends At Sea cruise of the Mexican Riviera.

For information on the cruise, you can go to www.davekozcruise.com.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:31 AM

March 11, 2005

Praful's New Album: "Pyramid in Your Backyard"

Praful has finished his follow-up to One Day Deep for Rendezvous Entertainment.

Praful, the Dutch multi-instrumentalist who packs a punch on the saxophone, has completed his follow-up album to One Day Deep. That album, originally released in 2001 in the Netherlands but re-released by Rendezvous Entertainment in the U.S. in 2003, produced the mega-hit called “Sigh.”

Praful describes the new CD, Pyramid in Your Backyard, as “jazz meets electronica” with many world-music elements. It features 12 songs and is produced by Praful’s labelmates on Rendezvous, the duo of Adani & Wolf.

The album has several guest vocalists, singing in English, Portuguese and Indian Hindi. The vocalists include Praful himself, Sandhya Sanjana from India and Katia Moraes from Brazil. Pyramid In Your Backyard is expected to be released on May 31. It will have its official debut, however, at the Maison Royal festival March 26-27 in Amsterdam.

Pyramid in Your Backyard

PrafulPyramidBackjard.jpg1. Moon Glide
2. Says Kabir
3. Acredite
4. April Seven
5. Eternity
6. Handcart Puller
7. Naked
8. Azul
9. Drop To The Ocean
10. Wishful Walk
11. Ponto De Partida
12. We Live On

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:07 PM

Song of the Week: Matt Bianco Featuring Basia – “Ordinary Day”

It’s great to welcome back an old friend, Basia, back to smooth jazz radio with her hit single “Ordinary Day.” The song opens the new album Matt’s Mood and features a soft bossa-nova beat and Basia's as-fresh-as-ever vocals.

Part of Basia’s vocal appeal has always been her European/cosmopolitan roots, which includes a slight accent that contributes to her sophistication. Contributing to the song is guitarist Peter White, brother of Matt Bianco original member Danny White, who plays keyboards on the CD. Another original member, Mark Reilly, provides vocal accompaniment.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:06 PM

March 7, 2005

Reflections CD Sequel Is Next For Peter White

Guitarist Peter White is planning a sequel to one of this most popular CDs.

PeterWhite.jpgPeter White has confirmed that he is working on the follow-up to his popular Reflections album from 1994. That CD remains one of the guitarist's most popular, and featured a collection of cover tunes from the 1970s. They included "Walk On By," "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" and "The Closer I Get To You," which all had Boney James on the saxophone.

“I was going through some of my old tapes, and I found my original demos for Reflections," he says. "And I forgot that there are so many songs on there that I never used. It’s quite amazing. You know, beause I think we put 10 songs on the Reflections CD. I have another 10 songs which never made it to the CD.”

White says that once again he wants to recruit some of the top names in smooth jazz for the project, which he is now in the process of finalizing the song selection. He says he’s got some classic songs from the 1970s in mind, but also has many tunes that he's hung onto.

While working on the project, White is gearing up to do some more touring in support of his current album, Confidential, which includes the smooth jazz hits “Talkin’ Bout Love” and the current “How Does It Feel.”

White will be performing in the brand-new Jazz Attack tour with Rick Braun, Richard Elliot and Jonathan Butler begining April 8 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 9:40 AM

March 3, 2005

Song of the Week: Acoustic Alchemy – “Say Yeah”

Miles Gilderdale, one half of the guitar duo that leads the veteran band Acoustic Alchemy, comes into his own on this delicious song from the band’s new album called American/English.

It’s a bouncy funk fest with a slight reggae beat, and Gilderdale sings the vocal chorus while also showing his skills as a scat-master, his vocals keeping time with the guitar a la George Benson.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:10 PM

March 1, 2005

New Ultrablue Project Features Pete Belasco and Gabriela Anders

Pete Belasco, whose latest smooth jazz single is called "Hurry Hurry," has updated an American classic for a new CD by the group called Ultrablue. Also on the CD are Gabriela Anders and Nestor Torres.

PeteBelasco.jpgSaxophonist and vocalist Pete Belasco and vocalist Gabriela Anders have completed songs for the new CD by the group called Ultrablue. The group released a CD called Dusk 2 Dawn in 2003 that featured core members John Smatla and Dave Stryker and had guest appearances by Belasco and saxophonist David Mann.

On the upcoming album, Belasco performs on a track called “The Summer Knows,” the familiar theme song by Michel Legrand from the 1971 movie Summer of ’42. "It's a beautiful piece; I had such a blast doing it," says Belasco. "It's a really moody, dark, vibey saxophone song, and just so much fun. I could do that all day.”

Anders adds her vocals to a song called “Destiny.” Other guests include flutist Nestor Torres on the track “Jungle Fever,” trumpeter Randy Brecker on “Soul Candy” and vocalist Philip Hamilton on “Indiscretions.”

The still-untitled album is expected to be released this summer.

Meanwhile, Belasco will peform March 19 in New York with pianist Eliane Elias. He’ll also be doing songs from his latest CD called Deeper, which features the Smooth Jazz hits “Deeper” and the current “Hurry Hurry.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:23 AM

Big-Screen Movie Recruits Rendezvous Smooth Jazz Artists

Dave Koz, Praful and Marc Antoine will have their music featured in an upcoming movie called Cages.

Rendezvous Entertainment, a smooth jazz label co-created by saxophonist Dave Koz, will have a major musical role in an independent movie that is now in post-production.

Cages, filmed in Singapore and directed by Graham Streeter, called on Rendezvous to provide music for the film’s soundtrack and for several parts in the movie. Featured in either the movie or soundtrack will be music by Rendezvous artists, including Koz’s “Love Changes Everything” and “Remembrance,” Praful’s “Sigh,” Marc Antoine’s “Castellana Hood” and “Gotham” and two songs from the Rendezvous Lounge project, “Mezz Bar Blue” by Astro and “Ocean Beach” from the Black Mighty Orchestra.

Among Cages stars are Mako Iwamatsu, the veteran Japanese actor who starred as Admiral Yamamoto in the 2001 blockbuster Pearl Harbor, and Zelda Rubinstein, who starred in “Poltergeist” and in the TV series Picket Fences. The movie tells the story of Ali, a single mother who is forced into the streets with her blind 8-year-old son.

“The director is a good friend of Frank Cody, who’s one of the Rendezvous partners," says Koz. "That’s how the connection was made. We started hearing about this film and saw the storyboarding. We all were interested in being a part of it. So we’ll see what happens. This is definitely our first foray into that area of the business."

Cages is expected to be released by the end of year.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:16 AM

February 26, 2005

Norman Brown Presents A Summer Concert Series

Guitarist Norman Brown will tour with Brenda Russell, Everette Harp and Peabo Bryson.

NormanBrown2.jpgGuitarist Norman Brown will debut a tour in May that he’s calling Norman Brown’s Summer Storm. The tour, which so far has booked eight cities, will feature vocalists Brenda Russell and Peabo Bryson, in addition to saxophonist Everette Harp.

The tour will be a reunion of sorts for Brown and Russell. Russell was scheduled to join Brown on last year’s Dave Koz & Friends Smooth Jazz Christmas tour, but she was forced to back out after getting a diagnosis of diabetes. The tour, scheduled to begin on May 28, will stop at some of summer’s biggest festivals, including the Catalina Island JazzTrax and Playboy Jazz festivals in California.

Brown, who is primarily known to smooth jazz fans for his guitar playing, wants to expand his reach during his upcoming concert tour by singing more vocal tunes as he does on his latest album, West Coast Coolin’.

"I want to grab a new audience and try to broaden this base, and introduce some more people to this instrumental music," he says. "And the way to do that is like some of great people in the past did: Louis Armstrong and Nat ‘King’ Cole, more recently George Benson. These guys were totally instrumentalists who crossed over into singing. It brought a new dynamic to everything.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:27 AM

February 25, 2005

Mindi Abair, Wayman Tisdale To Join Guitars & Saxes

The popular Guitars & Saxes tour has added two new players for 2005.

MindiAbair2.jpgSmooth jazz saxophonist Mindi Abair will become the first female member to perform as part of the annual Guitars & Saxes tour. She’ll join another first-time performer on the tour, bassist Wayman Tisdale, in addition to returnees Jeff Golub on guitar and Warren Hill on saxophone.

Although the Guitars & Saxes lineup changes each year, Golub and Hill both also performed on last year’s tour, along with guitarist Marc Antoine and saxophonist Euge Groove.

Hill, who was part of the original lineup in 1995, is making his fifth appearance on the tour, while Golub is making his fourth. Although more dates are being added, the tour looks like it will kick off April 16 in Palm Springs, California.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:40 AM

February 24, 2005

Kenny G, Dave Koz To Headline Landslide Benefit

Radio station Magic 97.5 in Santa Barbara and Cumulus Broadcasting are sponsoring a benefit show for those victimized by a Southern California landslide.

KennyG_live.jpgSmooth jazz saxophonists Kenny G and Dave Koz will headline an amazing array of talent next month during a benefit concert for those victimized by the La Conchita mudslide. Ten people died as a result of the massive slide on Jan. 10 in the coastal Southern California town.

The benefit, Smooth Jazz 4 La Conchita, will take place on March 9 at the Arlington Theatre in nearby Santa Barbara. It's sponsored by Santa Barbara smooth jazz station Magic 97.5 and Cumulus Broadcasting.

Also on the bill will be saxophonist Michael Lington, vocalist Bobby Caldwell, trumpeter Greg Adams and the group 3rd Force.

Tickets go on sale Feb. 25 at noon. For more information, call (805) 963-4408.

The show is the second for the landslide victims. On Feb. 12, Michael McDonald and Christopher Cross joined Jackson Browne at a benefit show that was also held in Santa Barbara.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:06 AM

February 23, 2005

Song of the Week: Adani & Wolf – “Daylight”

Adani&Wolf.jpgAdani & Wolf, a Dutch duo who have just had their CD called Les Seigneurs released by Dave Koz’s Rendezvous label, are part of the chill-music movement. One their first single, “Daylight,” a steady bass beat and a really cool downtempo rhythm make this kind of a poster song for the movement.

But what sets it apart from other songs in the genre is legendary guitarist Ernest Ranglin’s electric guitar runs throughout. Mood and substance combine for a sublime treat.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:37 PM

February 21, 2005

Mindi Abair To Be Married In April

MindiAbair.jpgSmooth jazz saxophonist Mindi Abair, 35, is engaged to a musician named Jason Steele and is scheduled to be married on April 23.

Steele, who is originally from Ft. Wayne, Indiana, is a guitarist and composer who has written music for television and film.

Steele proposed to Abair during a recent trip to Hawaii.

The soon-to-be-bride currently has the No. 2 song on Radio & Records' smooth jazz chart, "Come As You Are." The song is from her CD of the same name.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 11:02 PM

February 18, 2005

Rendezvous Label Completes "Golden Slumbers" Vocal Album

The second edition of Dave Koz's A Father's Love features all vocal songs.

The Rendezvous label, co-founded by saxophonist Dave Koz, has finished an album called Golden Slumbers: A Father's Love, the sequel to the highly successful, Grammy-nominated Golden Slumbers: A Father's Lullaby album that was released in 2002.

The new album this time features all vocal tracks instead of instrumentals. Each artist was asked to bring their own perspective on what fatherhood means to them, and the result is a work of both original recordings and new interpretations of classic songs.

"The CD is really a celebration of the bond between fathers and their kids," Koz says. "And this time you get to hear lyrics. And it really gives this poignancy to the CD. It’s a very different kind of feeling. When vocalist fathers are singing about their kids, and there’s like that personal thing you can feel in their voice, it’s powerful”

The album features vocals by Michael McDonald, Will Downing, Phil Collins, Dave Matthews, Richard Marx, Jon Secada, Loudon Wainwright, Solomon Burke, Carlos Ponce and actor James Earl Jones.

Among the cover songs are country music singer Buddy Jewell on Luther Vandross’ “Dance With My Father” and Smokey Robinson on Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful.” In addition, saxophonist Kirk Whalum wrote and produced a song called “My Little Man,” which features Kirk on the sax and his son Kevin Whalum on vocals.

The album is executive produced by Koz and his brother, Jeff Koz. Golden Slumbers: A Father’s Love will be released on April 5.

Golden Slumbers: A Father's Love

1. Life Is Just A Matter Of Time (Solomon Burke-Jeff Koz) (featuring Solomon Burke and Dave Koz)
2. You Touch My Heart (Phil Collins) (featuring Phil Collins)
3. Lullaby (Billy Joel) (featuring Will Dowing)
4. Dance With My Father (Luther Vandross-Richard Marx) (featuring Buddy Jewell)
5. That’s My Job (Gary Burr) (featuring Richard Marx)
6. Baby (David J. Matthews) (featuring Dave Matthews)
7. When Scarlet Smiles (Michael McDonald) (featuring Michael McDonald and Dave Koz)
8. You’ll Be In My Heart (Phil Collins) (featuring Carlos Ponce with Inner Voice)
9. You Are So Beautiful (Bruce Fisher-William E. Preston) (featuring Smokey Robinson and Dave Koz)
10. Find Me In Your Dreams (Jon Secada) (featuring Jon Secada and Dave Koz)
11. Daughter (Peter Blegvad) (featuring Loudon Wainwright
12. My Little Man (Kirk Whalum) (featuring Kirk Whalum and Kevin Whalum)
13. Children (Kahili Gibran) (featuring James Earl Jones)

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:42 AM

Warren Hill Creates New Record Label Called Pop Jazz

Saxophonist Warren Hill has a new CD coming out called Pop Jazz. That's also the name of his new Internet-based record label.

Smooth jazz saxophonist Warren Hill, whose last two albums were released on the Narada label, has completed a brand-new album that he will release on his own record label.

Both the label and the album will be called Pop Jazz. The 12-song album has been finished, and includes covers of Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music,” War’s “Low Rider,” Brian McKnight’s “Back At One” and the Beatles’ “Come Together.” Featured musicians include keyboardist Brian Culbertson, guitarist Allen Hinds and drummer Dave Hooper.

“The new label is actually an Internet-based label," Hill says. "I’m going to be diving into uncharted territory, in a sense. I have the freedom to do it now, and my personal opinion is that CD sales are heading to the Internet.”

Hundreds of lucky fans have already heard the CD, which is produced by Warren and Andre Berry, since a pre-release copy was distributed to all those attending Warren Hill’s Smooth Jazz Cruise 2005 back in January.

A release date has not yet been set on the CD.

Pop Jazz

WarrenHill_PopJazz.jpg1. Introduction
2. Toronto (W. Hill)
3. Play That Funky Music (R. Parissi)
4. Under Cover (W. Hill)
5. Interlude (R. Jacobs)
6. Still in Love (W. Hill)
7. Flow (W. Hill)
8. Low Rider (T. Allen, H. Brown, M. Dickerson, G. Goldstein, L. Jordan, L. Levitin, C. Miller, H. Scott)
9. Tuff (W. Hill)
10. Back at One (B. McKnight)
11. Come Together (J. Lennon, P. McCartney)
12. Bridgin’ the Gap (A. Berry, W. Hill)

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:34 AM

February 15, 2005

Song of the Week: Michael Buble – “Home”

MichaelBuble.jpgYoung retro jazz vocalist Michael Buble, a protégé of David Foster like Josh Groban, has a fondness for big, brassy jazz numbers and for corny love songs. But on “Home,” a beautiful song from his new CD called It’s Time, Buble has written an original tune that’ll break your heart.

Voicing a familiar sentiment, Buble positions himself as the world-weary traveler – too many cities, too many airports – who longs to travel home to see his true love again. Trite, but listen to Buble sing it and you’ll think it’s the first time you’ve ever heard it. Among those helping out are Foster on piano, bassist Brian Bromberg, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and guitarists Dean Parks and Brian Green.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:41 AM

February 14, 2005

Jazz FM in London Switching Name To Smooth FM

Smooth FM to take over the airwaves in London.

London's Jazz FM will now officially been known as Smooth FM. It is expected to make the change with the next six months, reports scotsman.com.

The station's owner, the Guardian Media Group, already programs Smooth FM on the 100.4 frequency, serving northwest England. Smooth FM in London will be programmed on 102.2.

Jazz FM was originally started in 1990. It has always features smooth jazz, but has also included mainstream jazz and vocal R&B tunes.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 9:18 PM

February 12, 2005

Soul Ballet Offers Two New Songs On Remix Album

Want more Soul Ballet? Rick Kelly offers remixes and two news songs on a new effort.

Soul Ballet, a concept band led by Rick Kelly, is now offering two brand-new songs as part of a remix album called All The Pretty Lights, Volume 1.

“It’s like all the things I wanted to do on the first couple albums with those tracks, I’m able to do because I can just make them very, very long and seductive and hypnotic," says Kelly. "It's been a blast."

The new songs are called “The Revolution/Make The Music Louder” and “Pretty Lights.” Seven other tracks are extended versions of previously released material. The songs “Man And Woman,” “Exotique,” “N.Y.C. Trippin’,” “Love Juliet” and “Am I Close Enough” are from Soul Ballet’s self-titled debut album.

The songs “BLU Girl” and “Monique Slept Here” are from the follow-up album, Trip The Night Fantastic.

Kelly, meanwhile, is already working on the second volume of All The Pretty Lights, which he expects to release later this year. Soul Ballet has the No. 1 smooth jazz song in the States with “Cream” from the album called DreamBeatDream.

All The Pretty Lights, Vol. 1

SoulBallet_PrettyLights1.jpg1. Man And Woman
2. Exotique
3. Love Juliet
4. The Revolution/Make The Music Louder
5. BLU Girl
6. Am I Close Enough
7. Pretty Lights
8. NYC Trippin’
9. Monique Slept Here

Posted by Brian Soergel at 9:26 PM

February 10, 2005

Verve/GRP Signs Brian Culbertson

Brian Culbertson finally has a new label and is working on a new CD.

BrianCulbertson2.jpgSmooth jazz pianist and composer Brian Culbertson, who found himself without a label last year after Warner Bros. closed its jazz division, has signed to the Verve label.

The label releases smooth jazz under its GRP subsidiary. Culbertson is now writing music for his debut album with the label, which he expects to be released on June 28th. The tentative name of the album is Sensuality.

Culbertson says the album will have a slower, sexier vibe than previous works such as his last album, Come On Up, which featured the single of the same name.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:20 AM

Michael Lington Is A Stand-Up Guy

Saxophonist Michael Lington is taking classes at a Los Angeles comedy club.

MichaelLington.jpgIf you’ve ever seen saxophonist Michael Lington in concert, you know the tall saxophone is self-assured on stage. He’s also been known to crack a joke or two. Now we’ve learned that Michael is honing his skills even more through an improv class at the famous Groundlings Theater on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood.

Michael says that he’s been taking weekly classes and that he just graduated from the round of sessions. He says he’s having a lot of fun and that the classes have helped not only his stage presence but also his social skills. He’s already signed up for classes during the next semester.

Groundlings, a sketch comedy group, has graduated such notable talent as Will Farrell, Lisa Kudrow, Jon Lovitz and Cheri Otari.

Lington's most recent CD, Stay With Me, includes the current hit single “Two Of A Kind.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:16 AM

February 8, 2005

Song of the Week: Jeff Lorber – “Ooh La La”

Smooth jazz pioneer Jeff Lorber has produced one of his best CDs ever – and his first single is a gem. “Ooh La La,” co-written by Lorber, producer Steven Dubin and young keyboardist Nelson Jackson, begins with a brief keyboard intro lifted from some smoky 1950s jazz club, then segues into a jaunty ditty showcasing Lorber’s acoustic piano acumen.

Like the rest of the CD, the song radiates an organic and wholesome freshness that offers a welcome change of pace from his previous funkified works. Lenny Castro provides percussion and John Roberts mans the drums.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:45 AM

February 4, 2005

Euge Groove To Be A Father Again

Euge Groove and his wife, Bane, have some good news.

Euge&Bane.jpgSaxophonist Euge Groove and his wife Bane, are expecting their fourth child. Although they do not yet know the sex of the baby, which is due in September, Groove says the couple is hoping for a girl to round out their family.

The family now consists of two boys – Dax, 14, and Canyon, 13, and one girl, 7-year-old Lilah Belle. Euge, who is 42, and Bane celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary in November.

The father-to-be is currently opening for Joe Cocker and playing his current smooth jazz single called “XXL." It’s from his Livin’ Large album.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:08 AM

Rippingtons Complete 15th CD

Russ Freeman and the Rippingtons will release a new album in May.

wild-card185.jpgThe Rippingtons' new CD, Wild Card, will feature two salsa singers and R&B vocalist Chante Moore. The album by the venerable smooth jazz band, which is led by Russ Freeman, will be released on his Peak Records label.

The CD is the band’s 15th and follows Let It Ripp, which was released in May 2003. Moore will be featured on a cover version of the Aretha Franklin hit “Til You Come Back To Me,” while Cuban singers Albita and Willy Chirino – both of whom are salsa music stars in Cuba – will be featured on two songs.

Song titles include “Spanish Girl,” “Paradise,” “King Of Hearts,” “Gypsy Eyes” and “Moonlight.” Wild Card will released on May 3.

Wild Card

1. Spanish Girl
2. Wild Card
3. Mulat de Mi Amor
4. Paradise
5. King of Hearts
6. Midnight Ride
7. Gypsy Eyes
8. El Vacilon
9. In the End
10. Moonlight
11. Lay It Down
12. Til You Come Back to Me

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:58 AM

Marion Meadows To Join Sax Pack

Marion Meadows' saxophone will replace Steve Cole's later this year during the Sax Pack festival started by another saxophonist, Jeff Kashiwa.

MarionMeadows.jpgThe new edition of Sax Pack – which this year features saxophonists Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters and new addition Marion Meadows – will begins its U.S. tour April 17 at the Seabreeze Jazz Festival in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

Two other dates are confirmed – May 27 at the JazzTrax Lake Tahoe Smooth Summer Jazz Festival and July 2 at the Jazz Under the Stars festival in Las Vegas.

“Marion is a powerful presence on stage,” says Kashiwa, who created the Sax Pack last year. “He can captivate an audience with his sense of style and groove.”

Steve Cole, an original member of the Sax Pack, will perform his last gig as part of the tour March 19 at the Berks Jazz Festival in Pennsylvania.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:50 AM

February 3, 2005

Song of the Week: Nils – “Pacific Coast Highway”

Nils.jpgNils is a guitarist who was born in Germany but has lived in Southern California for many years. He’s got the California vibe down pat on “Pacific Coast Highway,” his first single from the album by the same name.

Breezy and fun, the song sashays along with Nils’ Lee Ritenour-like lead creating a memorable hook. If ever there was a song to pop into CD player while cruising a beach-front road in a 'Vette, here you go.

This song is a sure thing.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:56 AM

January 30, 2005

Chris Botti Shows His Star-Making Skills at Jazz Alley

Chris Botti sparkled during a gig at the Jazz Alley.

Smooth jazz trumpeter Chris Botti is a musical superstar who has successfully crossed over in the pop and jazz worlds on the strength of his new album, When I Fall in Love. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Oprah Winfrey sang his praises on a show on which he performed, or that Gotham City’s tabloid newspapers now report every sighting between New York-based Botti and his girlfriend, Today show co-host Katie Couric.

The world is opening up a little more for Botti now as he opens for Josh Groban, the phenomenally popular young singer whose fans of all ages swoon over his classically inspired music.

ChrisBotti_live.jpgBut none of all of this seemed to matter recently when Botti performed at the intimate Jazz Alley in Seattle with his crack band, keyboardist Frederico Pena; bassist Jon Ossman; guitarist Marc Shulman; and drummer Billy Kilson. Botti was the focus of the show, of course, but he also gave bandmembers plenty of time to share in the glory.

Botti opened the show with a quiet version of the new album’s title song, a gorgeous ballad by Edward Heyman and Victor Young. He then neatly segued into the more contemporary sounds of “Streets Ahead,” a groovy trip thanks to Pena’s extended organ solo. Botti later dipped into to the past for a spirited reading of “Miami Overnight,” using the muted trumpet and letting Schulman take off on a long improvisation guitar jam.

He tuned it down for a mellow reading “My Funny Valentine,” which featured only the accompaniment of Pena’s piano. On this song, Botti likes to perform very personally in front of a young audience member. This is no doubt due to his devotion to his idol, Miles Davis, with whom – as luck would have it – he shared a brownstone with on West 77th in New York City during his formative days. He dedicates that song to Davis. It was included on Botti’s A Thousand Kisses Deep CD and foreshadowed his desire to remake the classics.

Of course, the contented and well-fed crowd at Seattle’s premier jazz club wanted to hear more of Botti’s new classics. He only did two, however, adding Irving Berlin’s “What’ll I Do” to the title track he opened with. Since Paula Cole was nowhere in sight, he substituted her vocals from the CD with the expressive “vocals” of Pena’s keyboards. It worked wonderfully.

Botti only played seven songs over the course of the 75-minute set (ending with “Why Not?” from Slowing Down the World), but that seemed to be OK since all songs came packed with extended jams. It’s a good bet no one at Jazz Alley felt cheated.

At one point, the handsome trumpeter joked that many of his former girlfriends are starting to appear at his shows. Only one hasn’t shown up, he explained – the one who turned him down at the senior prom.

What was she thinking?

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:43 PM

January 28, 2005

Song of the Week: Jem –“They”

Jem.jpgJem, born in Wales, has become incredibly successfully behind the bubbly, bass-heavy goodness of “They” from her CD Finally Woken. It’s a great song for the dance floor and a great choice for a chill-down session.

Weird, but true.

Her angelic vocals (love those ba-bah-da’s) combined with her obvious affinity with the downtempo/chill groove, have fast made her a favorite of the club scene.

You can catch Jem on Late Show With Conan O’Brien in the States on Feb. 4.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 12:44 AM

January 27, 2005

Tom Grant Finishes New Album With Vocalist Valerie Day, Formerly With Nu Shooz

Tom Grant's new project, like his last, will be a jazz record -- with a familiar voice from the 1980s.

TomGrant_bw.jpgSmooth jazz pianist and Oregon native Tom Grant has finished work on a new album, his 21st, which features jazz singer Valerie Day and is called Side By Side. In her previous pop life, Day was a member of the Portland, Oregon-based band Nu Shooz in the 1980s and sang on the band’s hit single “I Can’t Wait.”

Grant's 13-song album spotlights mostly jazz and pop standards from the 20th century American songbook and features just Tom’s piano and Valerie’s vocals. The album, to be released in March on Grant’s Nu-Wrinkle label, is his follow-up to Nice Work If You Can Get It, an album of jazz standards that showcased his vocals.

Meanwhile, Grant will return to his roots when he performs in a reunion concert this summer with his original band from the 1980s that performed on his early albums called Take Me to Your Dream, Night Charade and Mango Tango. Those band members included Dan Balmer on guitar, Carlton Jackson on drums and Jeff Leonard on bass.

The reunion show is Aug. 13th in Portland, Ore.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:50 AM

January 25, 2005

Anita Baker Working With Design Team For Summer Tour

Anita Baker is finally preparing a new tour to support her first album in 10 years, My Everything.

AnitaBaker.jpg Nearly four months after Anita Baker's long-awaited new solo album My Everything arrived in stores, the soulful diva and her management team are now gearing up for a live show to promote the album.

Baker's design team is at this point creating the live show. Although no official dates have been confirmed, it is expected that Baker will return to the road this summer.

Even though the singer's Grammy-nominated album has sold more than 500,000 copies, she has kept a low profile because she wanted to make sure she was at home for her two young boys while they’re in school.

The first single from the new album – her first in 10 years – is called “You’re My Everything.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:31 AM

January 23, 2005

Brenda Russell, Managing Her Diabetes, Organizing U.S. And European Tours; First Show Confirmed

Brenda Russell's first show after getting a diagnosis of diabetes will be on April 7 in California.

BrendaRussell.jpgVocalist Brenda Russell is now working on a comeback of sorts. She was forced to cancel her starring role in the Dave Koz & Friends Smooth Jazz Christmas tour in December after getting a diagnosis of diabetes. Now, with her health improving and her diabetes under control, Russell says she’s planning to tour this spring and summer.

She has confirmed one show, to be held April 7 in El Cajon, California, with producer and keyboardist George Duke. Other U.S. dates will be announced soon and plans are in the making for her long-awaited return to Europe. Meanwhile, Brenda’s first new album in four years, Between the Sun and the Moon, was released last year. It features the single, “I Know You By Heart.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:11 PM

Manager Says Book’s Claims About Chris Botti Show At Inauguration Are Inaccurate

Did Sting derail a performance by Chris Botti at the presidential inauguration?

chrisbotti3.jpgChris Botti had been invited to perform during President George W. Bush’s inauguration festivities, but had to decline due to shows that were already scheduled.

However, an upcoming book claims that Sting, whom Botti has performed with, had a hand in the matter. Toby Rogers, in his book on Bush called The Blue And The Red, claims that Sting – who is no fan of Bush – forcibly convinced Botti not to perform at the inauguration because it could ruin the trumpeter’s career.

However, Botti’s management says the account in the book is simply untrue. "The information published is completely and totally inaccurate,” says Botti manager Marc Silag. “The author and his publisher went to press without corroborating the facts. Beyond that, I have no comment."

Botti, who opens for vocalist Josh Groban beginning Jan. 25th, performed in Oakland, California, on Jan. 18 and Jan. 19 and began a four-day run in Seattle on Jan. 20.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:06 PM

January 20, 2005

Remix Artist Rafe Gomez Updating Seminal Smokey Robinson Ballad

Smokey Robinson's classic "Quiet Storm" will be remixed by the host of The Groove Boutique radio show.

In 1975, classic Motown soul singer Smokey Robinson released an album called A Quiet Storm that actually helped to create a new musical format of sensual R&B ballads.

Twenty years later, Rafe Gomez – the host of the nationally syndicated radio show The Groove Boutique – will give Smokey’s classic song a chill-music face lift. The remix, performed with a live band that includes vibraphonist Roy Ayers and using Smokey’s original lyrics, will be included as a bonus track in an anthology of Smokey’s music to be released in February.

A longer version of the song will be available March 29 on an album called Motown Remixed.

“I heard Smokey’s vocal and was so stunned by its beauty and purity that I decided to not touch it," Gomez says. "There is no processing, no effects, nothing, on this vocal. For curiosity’s sake, I put it through this computer program called an auto tuner. You can see on the screen what the notes that the vocalist sang and compare them with the notes that are the right notes. They were perfect. There was no difference.”

Gomez’s original song called “Icy” from the album The Groove Boutique: Volume One is being played on numerous smooth jazz radio stations.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:59 PM

Basia Will Tour With Matt Bianco

Smooth jazz vocalist Basia will tour this year after a long hiatus.

basia2.jpgA smooth jazz voice from the past will soon be touring in the United States with a nine-piece band. Basia, whose solo smooth jazz hits include “Promises,” “New Day For You” and “Cruising For A Bruising,” is expected to announce several dates for a tour with the band Matt Bianco. The tour is expected to begin on April 5, but will include a date on March 8 in New York to coincide with the release on the new Matt Bianco album called Matt's Mood on the Decca label.

The band, once the most popular in England, released their debut album in 1982 with Basia, vocalist Mark Reilly and keyboardist Danny White, among others. Danny White is the brother of smooth jazz guitarist Peter White. The American tour, marking the first time the original line-up has ever toured together as a band.

Matt’s Mood features Basia with the original group, as well as several guests appearances by Peter White. The album was released in Europe and Japan in March 2004.

Matt's Mood marks the first time that Basia’s vocals have appeared on an album in 11 years. Singles that have been played overseas include "La Luna," "I Never Meant To" and "Ronnie's Samba."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:45 PM

January 18, 2005

Song of the Week: Donny Osmond –“Breeze On By”

Like Simply Red’s “Sunrise” from last year, which sampled Hall & Oates’ “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do),” former child singer Donny Osmond scores in 2005 with “Breeze On By.” The song, which Osmond wrote lyrics to, samples George Benson’s magnificent “Breezin’” throughout.

It’s an unlikely pairing – one of smooth jazz’s iconic figures and a singer who’s unfairly or not is too often portrayed as anti-cool. But with this track, from his new CD What I Meant to Say, Donny Osmond is officially one cool dude. Put in on and watch your worries slip away.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:18 PM

January 11, 2005

Dave Koz's New CD To Pay Homage To The Movies

Dave Koz is working on a follow-up to his Saxophonic CD.

Smooth jazz saxophonist Dave Koz is now working on a follow-up album to 2003’s Grammy-nominated Saxophonic that will be unlike anything he’s done before.

The album will be Koz’s interpretations of his favorite songs and themes from the movies and will have symphonic and orchestral elements.

“One of the things that I love is all the classic movie scores, the romantic movie scores," Koz says. "You think of your favorite films over the last 40 to 50 years and you can think of so many fantastic melodies. I'm sifting through all these great melodies to come up with the 10 or 12 that really, really say what I want to say.”

The CD, which is untitled at this point, will be released later this year.

Koz's current smooth jazz hit is “Let It Free."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:03 PM

Song of the Week: Rafe Gomez –“Icy”

Rafe Gomez, a DJ and mixer who produces a nationally syndicated show called The Groove Boutique, has a single himself that is getting some airplay on Smooth Jazz radio. “Icy” is a sprightly ditty that clocks in at just under three minutes and features a can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head melody, trumpet by Glenn Kaye , unobtrusive vocalese and chants of "Icy."

This is the cool stuff, baby. Gomez says the song has “a sound that’s best described as Herb Alpert meets Bob James in Brazil, with Praful mixing the drinks.”

The happy track is one of 15 that Gomez compiled for The Groove Boutique: Volume One on Tommy Boy Records. The CD is available at the usual outlets, including for a discount at Dusty Groove America at www.dustygroove.com.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 12:25 AM

January 9, 2005

Donald Fagen Working On First Solo CD in 12 Years

Steely Dan member Donald Fagen hopes to release a new CD this year, his first since Kamakiriad in 1993.

DonaldFagen.jpgDonald Fagen is now working on a new solo album that would be his first in 12 years. It is expected to be released this year.

Fagen, a pianist and vocalist who along with Walter Becker comprise the seminal pop group Steely Dan, released his solo debut in 1982 with The Nightfly, which featured the hit single “I.G.Y. (What A Beautiful World).” Eleven years later, he released Kamakiriad, which had the single called "Tomorrow's Girls."

After disbanding in the early 1980s, Fagen and Becker reunited as Steely Dan to release the albums Two Against Nature in 2000 and Everything Must Go in 2003.

Fagen celebrates his 57th birthday on January 10th.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:17 AM

January 8, 2005

Paul Brown Producing New CD By Singer Kiki Ebsen

The new album by vocalist Kiki Ebsen, produced by Paul Brown, will feature a song written by the vocalist's father -- the late actor Buddy Ebsen.

KikiEbsen.jpgFamed Hollywood actor Buddy Ebsen, an iconic American figure who starred in the TV series The Beverly Hillbillies and Barnaby Jones and who died in 2003 at age 95, was also a dancer on Broadway who wrote songs for musicals. One of the songs he wrote has been interpreted by his singer-songwriter daughter, Kiki Ebsen, in a tune she’s calling “Missing You.”

It’s one of several original and cover songs on a new album called Kiki that’s produced by smooth jazz producer and guitarist Paul Brown. The album features Kiki’s vocals and a trio consisting of Brown on guitar, Roberto Vally on upright bass and Dave Beyer on drums.

It was 12 years ago that Ebsen released a CD called Red, which featured backing instrumentals by saxophonist Boney James, guitarist Paul Jackson Jr. and Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip. Brown produced that album, as well.

Cover songs include “Tears Of A Clown” by Smokey Robinson, “I Say A Little Prayer,” which was written by Burt Bacharach and made into a hit by Dionne Warwick, and “Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys,” performed by Steve Winwood and Traffic.

The album is expected to be released early this year, and you can hear samples of it at www.kikiebsen.com.

Brown's current smooth jazz single is called "Moment By Moment."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:24 PM

Dave Koz Performing In Tsunami Benefit

Saxophonist Dave Koz will help raise funds for the American Red Cross on Jan. 10 in Southern California.

DaveKoz_live.jpgOn Jan. 10, saxophonist Dave Koz will perform at Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park in Buena Park, California, as part of a benefit for victims affected by the deadly tsunami in Asia.

The Southern California Tsunami Money Drive, sponsored by several Los Angeles radio and television stations, will raise money on behalf of the American Red Cross. After Knott’s temporarily closes its doors earlier than usual on Monday, the park will reopen from 7 to 10 p.m. to the general public, with a minimum donation of $20 requested.

Koz, the host of the popular Dave Koz Radio Show, will perform at 7:30 p.m. at Knott’s Charles Schultz Theatre. The first 2,000 people will be allowed in free, but inside will be encouraged to again donate as much as they’d like.

At the show, Koz will play songs from his Grammy-nominated album Saxophonic, which includes the single “Let It Free,” currently No. 13 on Radio & Records' smooth jazz charts.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:19 PM

January 6, 2005

JazzTrax Names Its Top 10 For 2004, Launches Weekly Countdown

Art Good, creator and host of the top syndicated radio show JazzTrax, has named the Benoit Freeman Project 2 album of the year in his Top 10 countdown of the best smooth jazz albums of 2004.

The JazzTrax top 10 albums of 2004:

benoitfreeman2.jpg1. DAVID BENOIT & RUSS FREEMAN,
THE BENOIT-FREEMAN PROJECT 2

2. DOWN TO THE BONE, CELLAR FUNK

3. GRP TRIBUTE TO LUTHER VANDROSS,
FOREVER F0R ALWAYS FOR LUTHER

4. GERALD ALBRIGHT, KICKIN' IT UP

5. NORMAN BROWN, WEST COAST COOLIN

6. MINDI ABAIR, COME AS YOU ARE

7. GEORGE BENSON, IRREPLACEABLE

8. PAUL BROWN, UP FRONT

9. JAMES VARGAS, JAMES VARGAS

10. (Tie)
VARIOUS ARTISTS, RENDEZVOUS LOUNGE
VARIOUS ARTISTS, THE GROOVE BOUTIQUE VOLUME 1

In addition, 2005 marks the launch of the JazzTrax Top 10 Weekly Countdown, to be announced every week on the syndicated radio show. JazzTrax is distributed by United Stations to 40 markets.

In addition to creating and producing the syndicated radio show JazzTrax, Good also founded and produces the Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival, entering its 19th year, as well as the 24/7 Internet JazzTrax radio show.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:19 AM

January 4, 2005

First-Ever Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards Announced

CanadianSmoothJazzAwards.jpgGood news for smooth jazz fans.

The first-ever Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards will be held April 10 at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts near Toronto. Leading the way with three nominations each are flutist Alexander Zonjic, guitarist Brian Hughes and vocalist Diana Krall.

Zonjic, a disc jockey for Detroit’s Smooth Jazz V98.7, was raised and still lives in Windsor, Ontario. He’s nominated for Broadcaster Of The Year, Album Of The Year for Seldom Blues and for Best Wind Instrumentalist.

Hughes, who hails from Toronto but now lives in Southern California, is nominated for Guitarist Of The Year, Album Of The Year for Along The Way and Best Original Composition for “Wherever You Are.”

Krall, who was born and raised in British Columbia and now lives in New York, is nominated for Female Vocalist, Album Of The Year for The Girl In The Other Room and Best Original Composition for “Narrow Daylight.” Krall is nominated for that song along with her husband and co-writer, Elvis Costello.

Receiving International Artist awards are vocalist Anita Baker, who lives in Michigan; guitarist Marc Antoine, who lives in Spain; and guitarist Peter White and saxophonists Dave Koz and Euge Groove, who all live in Southern California.

Among the many other artists receiving awards are saxophonist Warren Hill, guitarist Jesse Cook and the group Four80East. In addition, a lifetime achievement award will be given to New Jersey resident and guitarist George Benson.

Here is a complete list of nominees.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:27 AM

January 3, 2005

Song of the Week: Alex Cortiz – “Schmooz”

Chill music, downtempo, nu-lounge – whatever you call it, more and more cool radio stations such as CD 101.9 in New York are including the music of smooth jazz’s younger, more adventurous sibling every day. Alex Cortiz is one of the genre’s brightest stars and his “Schmooz” from his most recent CD, Mesmerizing (Kriztal Entertainment), is intoxicatingly sophisticated, mellow and sexy.

Cortiz, a Holland producer whose real name is Aad de Mooy, programs repetitious, bass heavy beats to lull you into his clutches. He then sprinkles dashes of guitar, organ and assorted sounds on top of the lower end. “Schmooz” would make a great addition to any playlist currently playing music from Praful or from the groundbreaking Rendezvous Lounge series.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:43 AM

December 27, 2004

Song of the Week: Ken Navarro -- "Breathe"

KenNavarroLoveColouredSoul_small.gifKen Navarro’s “Breathe” is like a breath of fresh air. The song from his new Love Coloured Soul CD is a smart single for adventurous smooth jazz radio stations looking to add more adventurous listeners. Most of Navarro’s songs are perfectly beautiful and serene. “Breathe,” however, spins a driving, chugging rhythm section anchored by Andre Webb and Kevin Prince, but mostly offers some pretty fast guitar picking by Navarro. Don’t get me wrong – “Breathe” is not the unlistenable stuff some artists tack onto the end of their projects to show they can play. “Breathe” shows Navarro can play, furiously at time, but still works as one of the best smooth jazz songs you’re going to hear in a while.

Of course, Navarro is free to go all out now that he’s back on the Positive Music label, the same one he founded more than a decade ago. Love Coloured Soul is now only available at kennavarro.com, but will be in stores on Jan. 25, 2005.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:39 AM

December 23, 2004

Dave Koz Scores No. 1 Smooth Jazz Single For 2004

Dave Koz's "All I See Is You" is the No. 1 single for 2004.

Dave_Koz2.jpgSaxophonist Dave Koz has a very good year, which has been confirmed by Radio & Records, a trade publication serving the radio industry. Koz’s “All I See Is You,” which stayed at the No. 1 position for 10 weeks, is officially the top song of the year on the smooth jazz charts.

The song is from Koz’s Grammy-nominated Saxophonic album, which also features the No. 1 song “Honey-dipped” and his current single, “Let It Free,” which is now #15 on the charts.

Coming in at No. 2 is guitarist Paul Brown’s “24/7,” which was followed by saxophonist Paul Taylor’s “Steppin’ Out,” guitarist Peter White’s “Talkin’ Bout Love” and saxophonist Kim Waters’ “The Ride.”

Rounding out the top 10 singles of the year are saxophonist Euge Groove’s “Livin’ Large,” guitarist Marc Antoine’s “Mediterraneo,” saxophonist Richard Elliot’s “Sly,” Paul Hardcastle and the Jazzmasters’ “Puerto Banus” and guitarist Nick Colionne’s “High Flyin’.”

Radio & Records Top 100 Smooth Jazz Songs For 2004

1 Dave Koz, All I See Is You (Capitol)
2 Paul Brown, 24/7 (Peak)
3 Paul Taylor, Steppin' Out (GRP)
4 Peter White,Talkin' Bout Love (Columbia)
5 Kim Waters, The Ride (Shanachie)
6 Euge Groove, Livin' Large (Narada)
7 Marc Antoine, Mediterraneo (Rendezvous)
8 Richard Elliot, Sly (GRP)
9 Paul Hardcastle and Jazzmasters, Puerto Banus (Trippin 'n Rhythm)
10 Nick Colionne, High Flyin'(3 Keys Music)
11 Michael Lington, Show Me (Rendezvous)
12 Chris Botti, Indian Summer (Columbia)
13 Praful, Sigh (Rendezvous)
14 George Benson, Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise (GRP/VMG)
15 Richard Smith, Sing A Song (A440)
16 Gerald Albright, To The Max (GRP/VMG)
17 Boney James, Here She Comes (Warner Bros.)
18 Hil St. Soul, For The Love Of You (Shanachie)
19 Joyce Cooling, Expression (Narada)
20 Steve Cole, Everyday (Warner Bros.)
21 Dave Koz, Honey-Dipped (Capitol)
22 Diana Krall, Temptation (GRP/VMG)
23 Paul Jackson Jr., Walkin' (Blue Note/EMC)
24 Michael McDonald, Ain't No Mountain High Enough (Motown/Universal)
25 Wayman Tisdale, Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now (Rendezvous)
26 Bass X, Vonni (Liquid 8)
27 Brian Culbertson and Norman Brown, Come On Up (Warner Bros.)
28 Anita Baker, You're My Everything (Blue Note/Virgin)
29 Rick Braun, Daddy-O (Warner Bros.)
30 Mindi Abair, Flirt (GRP/VMG)
31 Jimmy Sommers, Take My Heart (You Can Have It If You Want It) (Gemini/Higher Octave)
32 Chris Botti, Back Into My Heart (Columbia)
33 Ronny Jordan, At Last (N-Coded)
34 Mindi Abair, Save The Last Dance (GRP/VMG)
35 Candy Dulfer, Finsbury Park, Cafe 67 (Eagle Rock)
36 Norah Jones, Sunrise (Blue Note/EMC)
37 Paul Jackson Jr., It's A Shame (Blue Note/EMC)
38 Seal, Love's Divine (Warner Bros.)
39 Kenny G, Malibu Dreams (Arista/RMG)
40 Najee, Eye 2 Eye (N-Coded)
41 Dan Siegel, In Your Eyes (Native Language)
42 Richard Elliot, Your Secret Love (GRP/VMG)
43 Seal, Touch (Warner Bros.)
44 David Benoit, Watermelon Man (GRP/VMG)
45 Daryl Hall, She's Gone (Rhythm & Groove/Liquid 8)
46 Praful, Let The Chips Fall (Rendezvous)
47 Marion Meadows, Sweet Grapes (Heads Up)
48 Luther Vandross with Beyonce, The Closer I Get To You (J/RMG)
49 Norman Brown, Up 'N' At 'Em (Warner Bros.)
50 Luther Vandross, Dance With My Father (J/RMG)
51 Nick Colionne, It's Been Too Long (3 Keys Music)
52 Simply Red, Sunrise (simplyred.com/Red Ink)
53 Urban Knights, Got To Give It Up (Narada)
54 Ramsey Lewis, Trio The In Crowd (Narada)
55 Tim Bowman, Summer Groove (Liquid 8)
56 Rick Braun, Green Tomatoes (Warner Bros.)
57 Kim Waters, In Deep (Shanachie)
58 David Sanborn, Comin' Home Baby (GRP/VMG)
59 Paul Taylor, On The Move (Peak)
60 Soul Ballet, Cream (215)
61 Pamela Williams, Afterglow (Shanachie)
62 Marc Antoine, Funky Picante (Rendezvous)
63 Chieli Minucci, Kickin' It Hard (Shanachie)
64 Chuck Loeb, eBop (Shanachie)
65 Patti LaBelle, New Day (Def Soul/IDJMG)
66 Jeff Lorber, Ain't Nobody (Samson/Gold Circle)
67 Mindi Abair, Come As You Are (GRP/VMG)
68 Lee Ritenour, Inner City Blues (GRP/VMG)
69 Jeff Golub, Pass It On (GRP/VMG)
70 Gladys Knight featuring Edesio Alejandro, Feelin' Good (Vacilon) (Pyramid)
71 Paul Hardcastle, Desire (Trippin' 'N' Rhythm)
72 Kirk Whalum, Do You Feel Me (Warner Bros.)
73 Euge Groove, Rewind (Warner Bros.)
74 Alicia Keys, Fallin' (J)
75 Fattburger, Evil Ways (Shanachie)
76 David Sanborn, Isn't She Lovely (GRP/VMG)
77 Michael McDonald, I Heard It Through The Grapevine (Motown/Universal)
78 Peter White, How Does It Feel (Columbia)
79 Walter Beasley, Precious Moments (N-Coded)
80 Wayman Tisdale, Can't Hide Love (Atlantic)
81 Richard Elliot, Corner Pocket (GRP/VMG)
82 Nestor Torres, Maybe Tonight (Heads Up)
83 Grady Nichols, Allright (Compendia)
84 Alfonzo Blackwell, Funky Shuffle (Shanachie)
85 Renee Olstead, A Love That Will Last (143/Reprise)
86 Pieces Of A Dream, It's Go Time (Heads Up)
87 Rick Braun, Use Me (Warner Bros.)
88 Pete Belasco, Deeper (Compendia)
89 Tha' Hot Club, I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby (Shanachie)
90 Queen Latifah, California Dreamin' (Vector)
91 Down To The Bone, Cellar Funk (Narada)
92 Peter White, Dreamwalk (Columbia)
93 Gregg Karukas, Riverside Drive (N-Coded)
94 Steve Cole, From The Start (Atlantic)
95 Alkemx, Time To Lounge (Rendezvous)
96 Eric Marienthal, Sweet Talk (Peak)
97 Steve Oliver, Chips & Salsa (Koch)
98 Michael McDonald, Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing (Motown/Universal)
99 Hall & Oates, Love TKO (U-Watch)
100 Brian Bromberg, Bobblehead (A440)


Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:54 AM

December 19, 2004

Song of the Week: Swing Out Sister -- "Love Won't Let You Down"

SwingOutSister.jpgThe veteran British pop vocal group Swing Out Sister is defined, of course, by the deeply resonant vocals of Corinne Drewery and its catchy, easy-on-the-ears melodies. The group also features Andy Connell on piano and Paul Staveley O’Duffy on programming and percussion.

“Love Won’t Let You Down” is one of those upbeat, sunny songs that seems lifted from the go-go 1960s. Drewery’s vocals are sublime, of course, but it’s the constant vocal refrain from the group – whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-ohhh – that makes the song sparkle and keeps it lodged in your head long after its over. It’s one of the best songs of 2004.

The song is from the band’s brand-new album called Where Our Love Grows, on the Shanachie label. The rest of the CD is sublime, too.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 11:53 PM

December 16, 2004

Chuck Loeb To Honor Stan Getz And Ray Charles On New Album

Guitarist Chuck Loeb pays tribute to two big names on his upcoming CD.

ChuckLoeb_bw.jpgSmooth jazz guitarist Chuck Loeb, who joined the band of legendary saxophonist Stan Getz 25 years ago for a two-year stint, will dedicate a song to his former boss on his upcoming album.

And what a song it is. Loeb has confirmed that he will interpret one of Getz’s most famous songs, “The Girl From Ipanema,” for his upcoming album. Getz, who helped popularize Brazilians bossa nova music in the U.S. with Antonio Carlos Jobim with songs like “The Girl From Ipanema” and “Desafinado,” died in 1991.

In addition, Chuck will include an original song he wrote in honor of the late Ray Charles, “Brother Ray.”

The new album, Loeb’s seventh for the Shanachie label, will be called When I’m With You. Other titles that Loeb has finished include "Double Life,” "Tropical” and “Anytime, Anywhere.”

When I’m With You is expected to be released on Feb. 22, 2005.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:40 PM

December 15, 2004

Out-Of-Print Mindi Abair Tunes Now Available As Digital Downloads

Love Mindi Abair? More of her music is now available online.

MindiAbair04.jpgAre you a fan of smooth jazz saxophonist Mindi Abair? You no doubt have her two albums – It Just Happens That Way from 2003 and the recently released Come As You Are. But did you know that Abair has two other albums that are out of print?

The good news is that you can purchase both online. It was in 2000 that Abair released what is officially her first album, Always And Never The Same. Co-produced by Abair and producer Matthew Hager, the album features nine vocal tracks featuring Abair. You can get the album at mp3.com.

In addition, last year Abair recorded a two-song holiday project that she called I Can’t Wait For Christmas. It features the title song, which is a vocal track, and an instrumental version of John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas.” You can purchase it at numerous online sites, including MusicMatch, iTunes and WalMart.

Abair's current single is the title track to her new album, Come As You Are.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:29 AM

Ronny Jordan Now An A&R Guy

Smooth jazz guitarist Ronny Jordan will work behind the scenes at a new label called N-2 Groove Music.

RonnyJordan_live.jpgAlthough Ronny Jordan is doing quite well as a smooth jazz guitarist, he is now working behind the scenes for his record label, N-Coded Music, on a brand-new subsidiary label called N-2 Groove Music. Ronny says the musical direction of the label will be “groove in the name of jazz hip-hop and neo-soul.”

Jordan, who most recent CD is called After 8, is working with two artists, who will be named later, to have their first releases on the label by the spring of 2005. Jordan, who is British but now lives in New York, helped pioneer the “acid jazz movement” in contemporary jazz more than 10 years ago.

As the artists-and-repertoire agent for N-2 Groove Music, Jordan says he wants to impart his knowledge of the music industry with others.

“You know, there’s very few A&R people within the industry who actually know what they’re doing," he says. "My plan’s just to change the game when it comes to this job. I’ve toured, I’ve recorded. I can relate to the artists better than a lot of other A&R people can. Just having a good ear is not enough. Not only are my artists going to learn from me musically, they’re going to learn the business side of it as well.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:23 AM

Earl Klugh Among Those To Raise AIDS Awareness

Earl Klugh, Al Jarreau and George Duke will perform in India next year to promote AIDS awareness.

Secretary of State Colin Powell and the U.S. State Department is launching a jazz tour of India to promote AIDS awareness. Guitarist Earl Klugh, vocalist Al Jarreau, pianist George Duke and saxophonist Ravi Coltrane will join graduate students from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz for the tour, which is called Indians and Americans Together Against HIV/AIDS.

The 2005 tour is co-sponsored by the State Department, BET (Black Entertainment Television) Jazz and MTV. The tour, with shows, master classes and HIV/AIDS outreach programs, will be Jan. 13 to Jan. 19 in New Delhi and Mubai, India. India, which has more than 1 billion people, has the second-largest population of HIV-positive people in the world, with about 5.1 million people living with the disease.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:19 AM

December 13, 2004

Song of the week: Richard Elliot - "Your Secret Love"

Here's a new feature - the song of the week. It could be a No. 1 smooth jazz songs, as this week's choice is. Or it could just be a song that deserves to be spotlighted.

The songs will all have the same thing in common: They are all good enough to go straight to the top of the charts.

richardelliot.jpgSaxophonist Richard Elliot's "Your Secret Love” is, of course, his version of the Luther Vandross classic. It's now No. 1 on Radio & Record's smooth jazz singles chart.

Its the first single from the recent album Forever, For Love, For Luther, a tribute to the singer featuring many of smooth jazz’s top stars that just so happened to pick up a Grammy nomination on Dec. 7 for its producers, Bud Harner and Rex Rideout. In addition to Elliot on sax, the song features Rideout on keyboards, Alex Al on bass, Dwight Sills on guitar and Fonzi Thornton, Lisa Fischer, Brenda White-King and Cindy Mizelle on backing vocals.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 2:39 AM

Top 10 CDs of 2004

These may not have been the best CDs of the year, but they're the ones I played the most.

1. Pete Belasco, Deeper (Comedia): Sublime falsetto vocals and some of the best sax going. Romantic, mellow, sexy.
2. Chris Botti, When I Fall in Love (Columbia): Botti makes the album he was destined to - romantic, standard ballads. Superb trumpet playing.
3. Peter White, Confidential (Columbia): No one makes sweet acoustic pop sound as smooth as the veteran guitarist.
4. Ronny Jordan, After 8 (N-Coded): Guitarist Jordan mixes his acid-jazz and experimental instinct with smooth pop grooves.
5. Ottmar Liebert, La Semana (SSRI): His first album in a few years, and it's more welcome flamenco pop-jazz. No one better at setting a mood.
6. Norman Brown, West Coast Coolin' (Warner Bros.): No one channels George Benson as well as Brown, who sings and plays as good as the master.
7. Paul Brown, Upfront (GRP): Years of producing No. 1 smooth jazz songs obviously rubbed off for the gutarist and vocalist.
8. Boney James, Pure (Warner Bros.): Boney writes some great music, and knows how to select soulful vocalists to inject some R&B magic.
9. Steve Oliver, 3D (Koch): The guitarist/scatter/singer consistently produces top-notch material that's as memorable as it is listenable.
10. Bob Baldwin, Brazil Chill (A440): This CD is by far the pianist's best. Top-notch playing and a samba swing make this the CD to play to escape by.

There was lots of quality smooth jazz in 2004. Here are some more titles worthy of your collection:

Swing Out Sister, Where Our Love Grows (Shanachie)
Brian Bromberg, Choices (A440)
Renee Olstead, Renee Olstead (143)
Bebel Gilberto, Bebel Gilberto (Six Degrees)
Keiko Matsui, Wildflower (Narada)
Braxton Brothers, Rollin' (Peak)
Euge Groove, Livin' Large (Narada)
Anita Baker, My Everything (Blue Note)
Maximum Grooves, Coast to Coast (Telarc)
Mindi Abair, Come As You Are (GRP)
Jamie Cullum, twentysomething (Verve)
Theo Bishop, Newport Nights (Native Language)
Michael Lington, Stay With Me (Rendezvous)
Torcuato Mariano, Diary (215)
Gerald Albright, Kickin' It Up (GRP)
David Benoit/Russ Freeman, Benoit/Freeman Project 2 (Peak)
Eric Darius, Night on the Town (Higher Octave)
Ed Johnson and Novo Tempo, Movimento (Cumulus)
James Vargas, James Vargas (Trippin 'N Rhythm)
Wayman Tisdale, Hang Time (Rendezvous)
Soul Ballet, DreamBeatDream (215)
Fattburger, Work To Do (Shanachie)
Queen Latifah, The Dana Owens Album (Vector)
Gary Goin, Going Places (Compendia)
Rafe Gomez, The Groove Boutique: Volume One (Tommy Boy)
Vernon Neilly & G-Fire With Mark Whitfield, G-Fire II (Boosweet)
Pavlo, Fantasia (Justin Time)


Posted by Brian Soergel at 1:28 AM

December 9, 2004

Smooth Jazz Grammy Nominees

There's plenty of music that's heard on smooth jazz radio that earned Grammy nominations on Dec. 7. For a full list of 2004 Grammy Award nominees, check out www.grammy.com. The 47th Annual Grammy Awards will be presented Feb. 13, 2005, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and broadcast on CBS.

The nominees for the 47th annual Grammy Awards were announced on Dec. 7 in Los Angeles, and while producer-turned-rapper Kayne West led all artists with 10 nominations and R&B singers Usher and Alicia Keys followed with eight, it was the late, great singer Ray Charles who was close behind with seven nods.

On Charles’ posthumous recording of duets called Genius Loves Company, the singer got plenty of help from artists whose songs are played on Smooth Jazz radio, including Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Michael McDonald, Natalie Cole, Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt and James Taylor. Among the albums’ nominations were for the category of Album Of The Year and Record Of The Year for the song “Here We Go Again,” a duet with Jones. By the way, although Keys burns up the R&B charts, she also is a presence on the smooth jazz charts now with a song called “If I Ain’t Got You.”


Norah Jones Gets 5 Nominations
In addition to her Record Of The Year and Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals nominations with Charles for the duet “Here We Go Again,” Norah Jones picked up three other Grammy nominations for her sophomore album, Feels Like Home. She was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Female Pop Performance for the song “Sunrise” and Best Country Collaboration With Vocals for “Creepin’ In,” a duet with Dolly Parton.


Smooth Jazz Nominees
Meanwhile, the Best Pop Instrumental Album category will pit Boney James and his Pure against Saxophonic by Dave Koz and Forever, For Always, For Luther, a tribute album to Luther Vandross produced by Bud Harner and Rex Rideout. “We're excited and grateful to have received a Grammy nomination," says Rideout. "We want to thank all of the great artists who took part in this project" adds Harner "We’re thrilled to get this nomination, and we think it’s a great statement for smooth jazz, too.”

George Benson was nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for his Vandross instrumental cover of “Take You Out,” which is on his Irreplaceable album and also on the Harner/Rideout tribute album. Also in that category, producer Jason Miles and his band Maximum Grooves got a nod for the song “Chasing Shadows,” with features Russ Freeman, Herb Alpert and others. It’s Miles’ second Grammy nomination.

Veteran band Fourplay earned a nomination for Best Contemporary Jazz Album for Journey. For Best Jazz Vocal Album, Al Jarreau is nominated for Accentuate the Positive and is joined by Jamie Cullum’s Twentysomething and Queen Latifah’s The Dana Owens Album. Seal got a nod for Best Male Pop Performance for the smooth jazz single “Love’s Devine.”

Meanwhile, vocalist Diana Krall did not receive a Grammy nomination this year, but she is included on the soundtrack to the movie De-Lovely, which earned a nomination for Best Soundtrack Album. Krall’s producer, Tommy LiPuma, however, earned a nomination for Producer Of The Year for The Girl In The Other Room and also for Jarreau’s Accentuate The Positive. In addition, veteran sound engineer Al Schmitt picked up a nomination for Krall’s album, one of five he earned.


Dave Koz Nominated Again
Dave Koz has never won a Grammy Award. But he has received four nominations in the last four years. In 2001, Koz and his friends picked up a nod in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category for A Smooth Jazz Christmas. In 2002, Koz and his brother, Jeff Koz, were nominated in the Best Pop Instrumental Performance for their lullaby rendition of the Beatles classic, "Blackbird." Last year, Koz picked up the nod in the Best Pop Instrumental Performance category for his #1 hit "Honey-Dipped" from the album Saxophonic. This year, he is once again up for Best Pop Instrumental Album for Saxophonic, which was released on Oct. 7, 2003.

Koz will be competing against his good friend and fellow saxophonist Boney James and his Pure album. In addition, Koz will be competing against two more friends, producers Harner and Rideout, who produced Forever, For Always, For Luther. Ironically, that album features Koz and keyboardist Brian Culbertson on the song “If Only For One Night.” The Luther tribute album also features a song by fellow nominee James called “Wait For Love.” Also, Koz appears on Rod Stewart’s Stardust … The Great American Songbook, Vol. III, which earned a nomination for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.


Boney James Enjoying Nomination
Boney James heard about his Grammy nomination from his Southern California home and soon was accepting congratulatory phone calls from friends and family members. His ninth album, Pure, was nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Album. The album, the first which James has produced exclusively, entered the Billboard 200 charts at No. 66 over the summer, selling 17,000 copies in its first week and becoming the best debut in his career.

James' previous album, 2001’s Ride, received a Grammy nomination in the Best Instrumental Album category. Although nominated in the instrumental category, Pure has several vocal tracks, including the R&B single “Better With Time” with vocalist Bilal. The first single from Pure, a song called “Here She Comes,” went all the way to No. 1 on the smooth jazz charts. The new single, “Stone Groove,” features legendary pianist Joe Sample.

“You know, it’s a thrill," James says. "This actually means a little bit more for me because this record is so personal to me since I produced it myself and it just really in a way feels almost like my first record. To have it recognized by the Recording Academy like this is a real exciting moment for me.”


Anita Baker Nominated Once Again
Eight-time Grammy winner Anita Baker has a chance to add two more Grammys to her collection as she was nominated for Best R&B Album for My Everything and Best Traditional R&B Performance for her Smooth Jazz single “You’re My Everything.” In the Vocal Performance category, Anita will be competing against Patti LaBelle and her smooth jazz single “New Day” from her Timeless Journey album. For Best Album, Baker will go against Alicia Keys, Prince, Jill Scott and Al Green.

It was on Sept. 7, 2004, that the album My Everything was released on the Blue Note label, becoming Baker’s first album in 10 years. The album debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, sold more than 131,000 copies in its first week and has now moved more than 427,000 copies in the United States. In the past, Baker has picked up Grammys for her albums Rapture, Giving You The Best That I’ve Got and Compositions. Songs that have won Grammys are “Sweet Love,” “Ain’t No Need To Worry,” “Giving You The Best That I’ve Got” and “I Apologize.”

In addition to hearing her name announced by blues singer and presenter Joss Stone , Baker also presented the nominees for the Best Pop Vocal and Record Of The Year categories in the ceremony aired live on E! Entertainment Television.


47th Grammy Awards Nominations (Selected - complete list at www.grammy.com)

Best Pop Instrumental Album: Pure, Boney James; Saxophonic, Dave Koz; Forever, For Always, For Luther, Bud Harner and Rex Rideout, producers

Best Pop Instrumental Performance: “Take You Out,” George Benson; “Chasing Shadows,” Maximum Grooves (with Jason Miles, Herb Alpert, Russ Freeman, James Genus, Gene Lake)

Best Contemporary Jazz Album: Journey, Fourplay

Best Jazz Vocal Album: Accentuate The Positive, Al Jarreau; Twentysomething, Jamie Cullum; The Dana Owens Album, Queen Latifah

Best R&B Album: My Everything, Anita Baker

Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance: “You’re My Everything,” Anita Baker; “New Day,” Patti LaBelle

Best Female Pop Performance: Norah Jones, “Sunrise”

Record Of The Year: Ray Charles and Norah Jones, “Here We Go Again”

Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals: Ray Charles and Norah Jones, “Here We Go Again”

Best Pop Vocal Album: Feels Like Home, Norah Jones; Genius Loves Company, Ray Charles and various artists

Best Country Collaboration With Vocals: “Creepin’ In,” Norah Jones and Dolly Parton

Album Of The Year: Ray Charles, Genius Loves Company

Song Of The Year and Best Female Vocal R&B Performance: Alicia Keys, “If I Ain’t Got You”

Best Male Pop Performance: Seal, “Love’s Devine”

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album: Stardust … The Great American Songbook, Vol. III, Rod Stewart (featuring Dave Koz)

Best Male R&B Vocal Performance: “What We Do Here,” Brian McKnight

Best Jazz Instrumental Solo: “Speak Like A Child,” Herbie Hancock (from the solo album All My Heart by Harvey Mason of Fourplay)

Best Song Written For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media: “You Will Be My Ain True Love” from Cold Mountain, written by Sting, sung by Alison Krauss

Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media: De-Lovely, with vocals by Mick Hucknall of Simply Red, Diana Krall, Natalie Cole, others

Producer Of The Year: Tommy LiPuma, Accentuate The Positive by Al Jarreau; The Girl In The Other Room by Diana Krall

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:08 PM

December 5, 2004

Bob Berg Memorial CD Planned

Producer Jason Miles is working on a CD that will pay tribute to one of his dearest friends, the late Bob Berg.

Bob-Berg.jpgIt was two years ago today -- Dec. 5, 2002 -- that the brilliant jazz saxophonist Bob Berg was killed in a car accident in Long Island.

Producer and musician Jason Miles, who called Berg a lifelong friend, says he doesn't want people to forget what a good friend and brilliant sax player Berg was.

Because of that, Miles and Berg's wife Arja and longtime friend and manager Christine Martin are working with Savoy Jazz on a Bob Berg memorial CD that will include tracks from Berg's CDs on Denon and Stretch records.

"We hope it will be released by the end of March or early April," says Miles. "We also plan on having an event to coincide with the release in NYC."

Miles has a wish for today. "If you have any CDs of either his solo work or with him playing on it, maybe you could give it a spin today in his memory. Bob is definitely missed. Lets all remember how precious life really is."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:12 PM

December 3, 2004

Ken Navarro's Latest Is Offered Exclusively Through His Website

Love Coloured Soul, the new album by Ken Navarro, is now available though his website, and will be in stores on Jan. 25.

ken_navarro.jpgRight now, smooth jazz guitarist Ken Navarro is offering his new album – but only online. You can go to kennavarro.com to purchase Love Coloured Soul, but will have to wait until Jan. 25 if you want to buy the album in stores.

The album is being released on the Positive Music label, the same label Navarro founded more than a decade ago. He says Love Coloured Soul has a similar sound to one he released in 1997 called Smooth Sailing, with its warm and peaceful vibe.

Among the album’s 10 songs are covers of John Klemmer’s “Glass Dolphins” and the late Laura Nyro’s “Stoned Soul Picnic.” Original titles include “You Are Everything,” “You Did It Again” and “Summer Of Love.”

As a bonus, you can also can purchase two available DVDs which include full-length audio interviews, photo galleries, video movies and graphics, in addition to the CD itself. These packages are only available through Navarro’s website. .

Love Coloured Soul Track Listing

1. You Are Everything (Ken Navarro-Jay Lang) 4:52
2. You Did It Again (Ken Navarro) 4:46
3. Glass Dolphins (John Klemmer) 3:31
4. Stoned Soul Picnic (Laura Nyro) 4:46
5. Love Coloured Soul (Ken Navarro) 4:17
6. Breathe (Ken Navarro) 4:10
7. Parallel Lives (Ken Navarro) 5:13
8. Gentle Soul (Ken Navarro) 4:33
9. Let It Go (Ken Navarro) 5:35
10. Summer Of Love (Ken Navarro) 4:45

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:46 AM

November 22, 2004

Smooth Jazz Radio Station Adding Chill Music To Its Mix

CD 101.9 in New York is chilling out.

Beginning today, smooth-jazz radio station WQCD (101.9 FM) in New York is incorporating more chill music into its mix.

It's now known as New York Chill. The station is including about 30 percent of the music into its smooth jazz rotation.

Chill music - also known as "downtempo" - incorporates elements of pop, jazz, electronica and world music. The genre's stars include Tosca, Thievery Corporation, Air, Charles Afton and Zero 7.

In the United States, the first full-time radio station playing chill music is KLBU, Blue 102.9, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The show is streamed live on the Internet at www.blu102.com. In addition, smooth jazz trumpeter Chris Botti has a weekly radio show called Chill With Chris Botti that debuted Sept. 4 and is now heard on numerous radio stations. Another popular syndicated show that CD 101.9 already airs is The Groove Boutique with host and mixer Rafe Gomez.

This year, the Rendezvous Music label, which is co-owned by saxophonist Dave Koz, released an album called Rendezvous Lounge. It features stars of the chill music genre and featured the smooth jazz single "Time to Lounge" by Alkemx. In February 2005, it will re-release a CD called Les Seigneurs by the chill music duo of Adani & Wolf. The label has just released a song by the group, "Daylight," to smooth jazz radio.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 9:42 PM

November 19, 2004

TV Appearances Boost Sales For Chris Botti

Chris Botti sees a spike in album sales after performing on TV.

As expected, two appearances this week on highly rated television shows have helped push sales of trumpeter Chris Botti’s new album, When I Fall In Love, through the roof.

On Nov. 12, Botti performed “Someone To Watch Over Me” and was interviewed by Al Roker on the Today show. And on Nov. 16, Botti struck gold in a starring role with Oprah Winfrey on Oprah, where he performed the song “When I Fall In Love” during a wedding and also in Oprah’s studio. Oprah told her audience that she bought all of Botti's ablums after she heard him play for the first time. After Botti's performance, Oprah jumped out of her seat to give the trumpeter a big hug.

Although sales figures for this week haven't been released yet for Botti's big week, When I Fall In Love right now has the distinction of being the No. 1 album in sales for all musical genres on amazon.com. The album also nailed down the No. 1 position on Billboard’s Jazz charts for several weeks after being released in late September.

In addition, it’s been a steady performer on Billboard’s Heatseeker chart, reaching a high of No. 3 so far. The Heatseeker chart lists the best-selling titles by new and developing artists, defined as those who have never appeared in the top 100 of the Billboard 200 chart. When a CD reaches this level, the CD and the artist's subsequent ones are ineligible to appear on the Heatseeker chart.

In other words, Botti is a big star now.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:47 AM

Paul Brown Producing New Jeff Golub CD

Guitarist Jeff Golub has enlisted smooth jazz's premier producer for his upcoming CD on Higher Octave.

jeffgolub_bw.jpgThis month, guitarist Jeff Golub begins recording his new album. Golub has a new label, Higher Octave, and a new producer – Paul Brown, the most sought-after producer in smooth jazz.

Golub, who lives in New York, will be bicoastal for a while as he works on the album in Brown's Funky Joint studio in Southern California. According to Brown, the two musicians already have a couple of original songs finished, including one called “Simple Pleasures,” and are now deciding on one or more cover songs. Brown – who has produced music for Boney James, Euge Groove, Rick Braun, Norman Brown and Richard Elliot, among many others – says some of Jeff’s new songs will be funkier, more urban and more orchestrated than his previous works.

“Jeff’s a excellent musician, and I really like his style," says Brown. "I think he’s one of the more recognizable guitarists out there. He doesn’t sound like Wes Montgomery or George Benson. He’s got this Southern blues thing that he does so well. I'm trying to put him into some different environments for him to play in so he stands out even more.”

The CD, expected to be released in the spring of 2005, is the follow-up to Golub’s Soul Sessions, which was released in August 2003 by the GRP label. In addition to producing, Brown of course is now a solo artist in his own right. His debut album, Up Front, features the smash single “24/7,” which went all the way to No. 2 on the smooth jazz charts. His current single is called “Moment By Moment," a catchy number that displays Brown's vocalese skills.



Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:34 AM

November 4, 2004

Longtime Pat Metheny Group Member Dies After Heart Attack

Mark Ledford, whose wordless vocals on the Pat Metheny Group's classic "Last Train Home" song help define their sound, has died after a heart attack.

Mark_Ledford.jpgSmooth Jazz Vibes can now confirm that Mark Ledford, a frequent vocalist with the Pat Metheny Group and a regular contributor to smooth jazz albums, died on Nov. 1. His family has confirmed that he suffered a heart attack. He was 44.

Ledford, known for sporting a shaved head, was not scheduled to perform on the Pat Metheny Group’s upcoming album called The Way Up. Ledford was raised in Detroit and studied at Berklee School of Music. In addition to performing on numerous albums with Metheny, the prolific Ledford - who played the trumpet - appeared appeared on albums by Special EFX, Walter Beasley, Doc Powell, Brenda Russell, Alex Bugnon, Najee, the Rippingtons and Club 1600 with Rex Rideout. He also performed with Kevin Eubanks, Hugh Masekela, Bobby McFerrin, Mary J. Blige and many other artists in various musical genres.

Ledford’s most recent appearances on a smooth jazz album was on Brenda Russell’s Between The Sun And The Moon, which was released Oct. 5. He sang background vocals on the song “It’s A Jazz Day.” In addition, Ledford’s trumpet can heard on the current smooth jazz single by guitarist Doc Powell called “Listen Up.”

Ledford’s only solo album, Miles 2 Go from 1996, featured contributions from Metheny and Najee.

Ledford will be missed by Pat Metheny Group fans who remember his passionate and beautiful vocalese, both on record an in concert. His work on perhaps Metheny's best-loved album, Still Life (Talking), along with vocalists Armando Marcal and David Blamires, was nothing short of heavenly. Ledford vocals helped make the song "Last Train Home" one of the goup's most popular songs and a radio standard even today.

But perhaps Ledford's range was best expressed on the 10-minute song "Finding and Believing" on Metheny's classic Secret Story CD from 10 years ago. Up and down it went, like a manic, tribal ritual. Glorious.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 3:44 AM

November 1, 2004

Jeff Lorber's Wife To Donate Kidney For His Transplant

Jeff Lorber will get a kidney transplant later this month.

JeffLorber.jpgKeyboardist and producer Jeff Lorber, who suffers from a kidney disease, will enter a hospital this month to undergo a kidney transplant. Luckily for Jeff, he didn’t have to go far to find a match – his wife, Mink, turned out to be a perfect match. “I’m very fortunate that my wife was found to be a match,” says Jeff, who turns 52 on Nov. 4. “I’m feeling very positive about the operation.”

The disease Lorber has, Polycystic Kidney Disease, is genetic and runs in his family. It is one of the most common genetic and life-threatening diseases, affecting more than 600,000 Americans and an estimated 12.5 million people worldwide – regardless of sex, age, race or ethnic origin. With the disease, cysts grow and multiply over time, causing the kidney to shut down. Dialysis and kidney transplants are the only forms of treatment.

For more information, you can go to pkdcure.com, which Lorber references on his website at lorber.com and on all of his albums. You can make donations online, by phone or through the mail.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:39 PM

October 31, 2004

Najee Signs With Heads Up Label

Veteran saxophonist Najee is the latest artist with the Cleveland-based Heads Up label, joining recent signee and saxophonist Walter Beasley.

Najee_bw.jpgVeteran saxophonist Najee has just signed a contract with the Heads Up record label and is currently working on new songs for first album on the label. The album is expected to be released next August.

The new album will be the follow-up to Embrace from 2003, which was on the N-Coded label. Before that, Najee’s albums included Morning Tenderness and Songs From The Key Of Life, a tribute to Stevie Wonder.

Najee is the recipient of many music awards, including the Soul Train Music Award for Best Jazz Artist in 1991 and 1993. Over the years, he has worked with artists such as Quincy Jones, Patti LaBelle, George Duke, Lionel Richie and Jonathan Butler. Most recently, Najee performed with Prince.

Najee is joining a Heads Up roster that is also home to, among others, Pieces of a Dream, Nestor Torres, Hiroshima, Spyro Gyra, Doc Powell and newcomer Walter Beasley.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 1:21 AM

October 29, 2004

Brenda Russell Diagnosed With Diabetes, Will Skip Dave Koz Christmas Tour

Vocalist Brenda Russell, who has been diagnosed with diabetes, will not perform as part of Dave Koz's annual Christmas tour under advice from her doctors.

BrendaRussell.jpgVocalist Brenda Russell has been diagnosed with diabetes. Because of concerns for her health, her doctors have advised her to cancel her participation in the eighth annual Dave Koz & Friends: A Smooth Jazz Christmas Tour.

Patti Austin, a good friend of Russell's, with replace her on the 22-city tour, which begins Nov. 26 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. On her website, Brenda says she was looking forward to the tour this year to connect with the loyal fans of the holiday show, in which she has performed several time. She adds that she’s disappointed but felt that getting healthy was the best choice for her now so she will be able to get back on the road soon.

In a note to her fans on her website, Brenda says: “With all of the good things that are happening in my life right now, being diagnosed with diabetes was definitely a shocking turn of events. However, I have learned that so many people have this disease and lead normal lives with proper medication, diet and exercise. We are actually having an epidemic in this country, particularly among African-Americans, so I would like to encourage those of you who think you might be at risk or have diabetes in your family, to please go and get tested. It is a preventable disease if you catch the signs early enough. I'm sorry I'm going to miss doing some of my new material on the road with my buddy Dave Koz and friends this Christmas, but I promise to be back out next year to do some live gigs for you. I guess this is just God's way of getting me to lay down for a minute while I become adjusted to a new lifestyle. I'm wishing everyone a happy and blessed holiday season."

On Oct. 5, Russell released her first album in four years, Between The Sun And The Moon, which features the single “I Know You By Heart.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:22 PM

Chris Botti Dating Katie Couric

Chris Botti, about to embark on a worldwide tour with Sting, will have to spend some time away from his new beau, Today show co-host Katie Couric.

KatieCouric.jpgKatie Couric isn't wasting any time. A couple of weeks after breaking up with TV producer Tom Werner, the co-host of NBC's Today show only has eyes for one of smooth jazz's biggest stars: trumpeter Chris Botti.

People reports that Couric, 47, and Botti, 42 are now dating. Couric, who has co-hosted Today since 1991 and also reports for NBC's Dateline, lost husband Jay Monahan to colon cancer five years ago.

Couric and Botti might not be seeing much of each other. Botti is schuduled to fly to Rotterdam, The Netherlands, on Nov. 2 to perform as the opening act for Sting's European leg of his Sacred Love tour.

Although not as big of a star as Couric, Botti is getting there. He was recently named one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People and performed "God Bless America" during the National League baseball playoff series. He was also scheduled to perform the song if there were to be a fifth game of the World Series. But that didn't happen when the Boston Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals four-games-to-one in the best-of-seven series.

Botti's most recent album of love song, When I Fall In Love, is also helping to put the trumpeter in the national spotlight. It's current No. 1 on Billboard's jazz charts.

Botti's previous album, A Thousand Kisses Deep, features the No. 6 song on Radio & Records' smooth jazz charts, “Back Into My Heart.” At the same time, he now has a single from When I Fall in Love called “No Ordinary Love,” a cover of the Sade classic.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:06 AM

October 24, 2004

Pat Metheny Group's Upcoming CD Features One Song

The Way Up by the Pat Metheny Group has just one song. But it's more than an hour long.

Metheny.jpgSixteen-time Grammy Award winner and guitarist Pat Metheny has confirmed that the name of the new Pat Metheny Group album will be called The Way Up. The recording, the first from Metheny’s group since 2002’s Speaking Of Now, promises to be a little different – the album is a single, continuous 68-minute composition written by Metheny and longtime collaborator and pianist Lyle Mays.

The Pat Metheny Group also features Steve Rodby on acoustic and electric bass and cello, Cuong Vu on trumpet and vocals, Gregoire Maret on harmonica and Antonio Sanchez on drums.

Says Metheny: “This is our most ambitious undertaking ever as a group – and we have never been so excited about a project. This record takes every aspect of the band to a new level.”

The Way Up will be released on Jan. 11, 2005.

In addition, Metheny has finalized several dates for a world tour, which begins Feb. 18 in Toronto and continues through early April. He then begins a tour of Japan and South Korea, with European dates to follow.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:55 AM

Duets highlight new Kenny G CD

Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Daryl Hall and LeAnn Rimes will all be featured on Kenny G's new CD, At Last ... The Duets Album.

Kenny G, the top-selling instrumentalist of all time, will be joined by such well-known singers as Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Daryl Hall and LeAnn Rimes on his new CD, At Last ... The Duets Album.

There will be some intrumentals. The saxophonist enlisted pianist Jim Brickman for a duet on Norah Jones“Don’t Know Why,” trumpeter Arturo Sandoval for the title track, “At Last,” and composer and pianist Burt Bacharach for "Alfie."

The album will also feature Kenny G on an instrumental version of the popular rap song by Outkast, “The Way You Move.”

At Last … The Duets Album will be released on Nov. 23.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:49 AM

Dave Koz's Art on 7-Up Cans

7 Up enlists saxophonist Dave Koz and vocalist Michael McDonald for a promotion.

In a promotional campaign for February’s 47th annual Grammy Awards, more than 145 million specially designed 7 Up cans will hit stores nationwide on Oct. 25 in the U.S.

The cans – available only in 12-packs – feature artwork from participating musicians and their renditions of the Grammys' famed gramophone logo. The signed, collectible cans, which will be available through the end of the year, include several 7 Up brands and feature artwork by saxophonist Dave Koz (Canada Dry Ginger Ale) and vocalist Michael McDonald (7 Up). Koz’s art has a saxophone inside the gramophone logo, with the words “Unity” and “Music” underneath. McDonald, on the other hand, has the words “Music Makes Us More Human” make up the shape of the gramophone.

In conjunction with the promotion, 7 Up contributed $60,000 donation to the Grammy Foundation's Signature Schools program. Signature Schools supports music and arts education and recognizes high-school music programs nationwide. "With the decline in music programs offered in public schools,” says Koz, who has mentored students in the Grammy Foundation program for several years, “there has never been a more important time to raise funds and awareness to get kids back into music."

Other artists who designed labels are Brian McKnight (Sunkist), Five for Fighting's John Ondrasik (Diet 7 Up), Wynonna Judd (Cherry 7 Up) and Randy Travis (A&W Root Beer).

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:39 AM

October 22, 2004

Do you have a song in your head? Tom Grant is interested

Tom Grant is calling on his fans for help with a new CD.

TomGrant_bw.jpgIf you've got some lyrics that you think are worth publishing, smooth jazz pianist Tom Grant might be interested in seeing what you’ve got. Grant, who has performed instrumental music for the majority of his career, freely admits that writing lyrics isn’t his strong point. So, although he knows he’s sticking his neck out a bit, he’s calling on fans to send any potential song lyrics that they’ve been working on to him.

If Grant does select your lyrics for an upcoming album, he’ll send you a copy of the album along with his latest project called Nice Work If You Can Get It. So it you have a great song, send it to Tom as an e-mail attachment to tom@tomgrant.com.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:00 AM

Gabriela Anders Co-Stars In Online Movie Thriller

Gabriela Anders appears as a sexy lounge singer in a new Internet movie.

GabrielaAnders_LastTangoInRio.jpgSmooth jazz vocalist Gabriela Anders has had her music used in numerous commercials, including those for Crest and Tropicana. Now you can hear and see the sexy Argentine native, who now lives in New York, in a 13-minute commercial by Mercedes-Benz being marketed online as a thriller with an all-star cast.

Debuting this week is a mini-movie called The Porter, which you can see at www.the-porter.com. In it, Gabriela sings a song in a bar where a pivotal scene of the movie takes place. The movie tells the story of a porter at a five-star hotel in Budapest who becomes wrapped-up in a diamond smuggling operation.

Bryan Ferry of the group Roxy Music plays a jewel smuggler, English singer and actor Max Beesley is the porter and Dannii Minogue – the sister of pop star Kylie Minogue – is the seductive nightclub owner. You can see more of Anders in a link that takes you to an interview, which also shows more of her performance. You can also download her song “The Wave” at the site.

Of course, also at the heart of the movie is Mercedes-Benz’s new CLS class four-door coupe. It’s a unique advertisement, featuring the equally unique music of Anders, who is now promoting her brand-new album, Last Tango In Rio.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:54 AM

Fund Established For Injured Smooth Jazz Saxophonist Hollis Gentry

A fund has been set up to help saxophonist Hollis Gentry, who was seriously injured in a car crash.

Hollis_Playing.jpgSaxophonist Hollis Gentry, a founding member of the veteran Smooth Jazz group Fattburger who was seriously injured in a car crash in San Diego, is now out of intensive care. After more than a month, Hollis has been moved to his own room.

Members of Fattburger, assisted by local smooth jazz radio station KiFM, held a benefit concert for Hollis on Oct. 10 that helped raise more than $12,000. All of the money will go toward Hollis’ hospital bills and recovery. Fans can now send donations to a fund established by Hollis’ family:

Hollis Gentry III Fund
P.O. Box 740441
San Diego, CA 92174

According to Fattburger guitarist Carl Evans Jr., Gentry was driving his SUV to a show on Interstate 805 in La Jolla when the vehicle veered off the road and flipped over several times. Hollis’ injuries included a broken leg, foot, jaw and severe facial injuries that required reconstructive surgery.

Alhough Hollis has a long road to recovery, you can hear his saxophone on five songs on Fattburger’s new album, Work To Do! The title track, which features Hollis, is the first single.

Evans says Gentry is showing signs of encouragement in the hospital.

“He has a long way to go, but I think he’ll be OK. He’s out of a coma, and he’s aware of what has happened to him and that he’s recovering. He was really pleased to see some footage on the news about the benefit concert for him, and he was just really touched by all of that. I heard he was in a wheelchair and they took him out of intensive care for a little while. He found a piano, in one of the little conference rooms, and played it for 45 minutes.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:47 AM

October 15, 2004

Chris Botti A Smash on Late-Night TV

Smooth jazz trumpet player Chris Botti gave an amazing peformance Thursday night on late-night TV.

chrisbotti3.jpgChris Botti may have gained many fans while opening for Sting, but he no doubt scored thousands more after a performance Thursday on The Late Late Show.

Botti performed his gorgeous song "What'll I Do?" from his brand-new CD of love songs, When I Fall in Love. Backing him up were Billy Kilson on drums, Jon Ossman on bass and Billy Childs on keyboards. A highlight came midway through the song when Paula Cole gracefully entered on stage and began her vocals as she does on the CD. It was great to see Botti joining her a brief vocal duet.

An added bonus: During an interview with actress Famke Janssen, guest host Craig Ferguson frequently joked with the actress about her sexy name while reaching behind the anchor desk to switch on a few snippets of "What'll I Do?"

Another bonus for Botti fans was a commercial for the new album, which aired before his performance and was shot during the CD's cover shot.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:32 PM

Ronny Jordan Calls On George Benson's Son For New CD

Gutarist Ronny Jordan's new CD will be released on Nov. 2.

RonnyJordan.jpgGuitarist and New York City resident Ronny Jordan has finished his seventh solo album, which he’s calling After 8. It will be released on Nov. 2 by the N-Coded label, which also released Jordan’s At Last from 2003, which featured the smooth jazz hit of the same name.

Jordan’s new album, which features his longtime band and which he produced, strives for a cohesive live sound. The all-instrumental project features 10 songs, with seven originals and three covers. He wrote five of the songs himself, and co-wrote the title song with Rob Benson, the son of legendary guitarist George Benson. Another song, "Bahia Magic," was written by keyboardist Dario Boente, an Argentinean who now lives in New York City. The cover songs include "Caught Up," which is based on the song from R&B star Usher's multi-million selling album Confessions.

"I Remember You" is the Johnny Mercer jazz classic song which Jordan puts his own spin on, and "Lighthouse" was originally performed by the late reggae star Peter Tosh. Ronny describes After 8 as featuring elements of smooth jazz and acid jazz, with some hip-hop and R&B influences.

"You'll hear snippets of all of my major guitar influences, from Wes Montgomery to George Benson to Kenny Burrell and Grant Green," Jordan says. "There's even a little Jimi Hendrix thrown in, too. But there's also some of me in there as well. As soon as you hear the melodic playing, you can tell it's me right away."

On the CD, Jordan says he tried not to overdo or rely too much on playing octaves - a technique that is closely associated with the late smooth-jazz guitar pioneer Montgomery.

"That style is copied by virtually every smooth jazz guitarist you hear on the radio," Jordan says. "For me right now, it's overkill. On After 8, I just wanted to take a less-is-more approach in regards to playing the octaves and not entirely depend on them to carry a melody. I'm constantly trying to forge my own sound and style. Bottom line, there'll never be another Wes or George."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:40 AM

Candy Dulfer Appears In Controversial Prince Video

Saxophonist Candy Dulfer plays tambourine in the controversial new video by Prince.

PrinceDulfer.jpgAlthough she is only seen a couple of times, saxophonist Candy Dulfer is featured in a controversial new video by Prince that will get nationwide exposure the week of Oct. 18 on MTV.

Dulfer sings background vocals and plays tambourine in the video called “Cinnamon Girl,” a song from Prince’s Musicology album. The video, which can now be seen on the Internet, focuses on a teen-ager Arab girl who experiences prejudice following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. The girl, played by New Zealand actress Keisha Castle-Hughes from the movie Whale Rider, imagines herself blowing up a crowed airport terminal in a suicide attack. At the end of the video, however, with a tears tumbling down her cheeks, it’s clear that she had only imagined the horror.

Dulfer also appeared in another Prince video, “Call My Name,” which was in regular rotation on VH1 and BET earlier this year. Candy also sang and played the saxophone and other instruments throughout the Musicology album, and performed with Prince on his recent tour of the United States.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:26 AM

October 2, 2004

Listen To Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival Live From Your Computer

The 18th annual Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival is now in full swing for three weekends in October.

Cat04cover.jpgIf you aren’t one of the lucky ones able to attend Art Good’s 18th annual Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival in Southern California, you can listen live to all 30 shows spread out over three weekends in webcasts airing live on www.jazztrax.com.

Look for such legendary groups as Pieces of a Dream and Fourplay to vocalist Lalah Hathaway and the legendary David Sanborn. New faces on the scene include guitarist Nick Colionne and saxophonist James Vargas, who are making their first-ever live appearances on the island. Other artists include Kim Waters, Everette Harp, Michael Lington, Steve Oliver, Ronnie Laws, Euge Groove and the entire crew of the Groovin' for Grover tour featuring Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot, Jeff Lorber and Paul Taylor.

Although she will not be performing, saxophonist Mindi Abair will be on the island as Art Good’s co-host.

"Catalina is a great place to relax and an even better place to play music," says Down to the Bone's Stuart Wade. His band plays Oct. 16 at noon.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:31 PM

Fattburger's Hollis Gentry Seriously Injured In Car Crash

A benefit concert is scheduled Oct. 10 in San Diego for Fattburger saxophonis Hollis Gentry, who was seriously injured in a car crash.

Hollis_Playing.jpgSaxophonist Hollis Gentry, who helped found the San Diego-based group Fattburger 20 years ago, was involved in a serious car accident about three weeks ago in San Diego. He is reportedly still in the hospital in intensive care.

The current members of Fattburger – guitarist Evan Marks, keyboardist Carl Evans Jr., bassist Mark Hunter, drummer Kevin Koch and percussionist Tommy Aros – have announced that a benefit concert for Hollis will be held Oct. 10 at Humphrey's By The Bay in San Diego. It will be from 3 to 6 p.m., and there is a $25 cover charge.

Musicians scheduled to perform include Fattburger, Nathan East, and Hollis' teachers, Daniel Jackson and Charles McPherson. In addition, members of San Diego smooth jazz station KiFM will be on hand.

Hollis performs on five songs on Fattburger’s new album, Work To Do!, which was released last week. Among the songs is the title track, a cover of the Isley Brothers hit, which is the first smooth jazz single.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:02 PM

September 22, 2004

Dave Koz and Rod Stewart Together Again

Dave Koz will return to Rod Stewart’s American Songbook album series.

Smooth jazz saxophonist Dave Koz will make a return appearance with the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Rod Stewart as the vocalist comes out with the third volume of his interpretations of the Great American Songbook.

You may recall that Koz performed on Stewart’s It Had to Be You...The Great American Songbook, the first in the series released in October of 2002. Koz also made an appearance with Stewart onstage on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. Koz didn’t perform on Stewart’s second in the series from 2003, As Time Goes By, but will definitely be featured on the upcoming Stardust ... The Great American Songbook: Volume III, to be released by J Records.

The first two albums, debuting at No. 4 and No. 2, respectively, on the Billboard charts, have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. Also dueting with Stewart will be Stevie Wonder, Dave Grusin, Eric Clapton, Arturo Sandoval, Bette Midler and Dolly Parton.

Songs include "What A Wonderful World," "For Sentimental Reasons," "Embraceable You," "S'Wonderful," "But Not For Me," "Stardust," "I Can't Get Started," "Isn't It Romantic," "Night And Day," "Baby, It's Cold Outside," "Manhattan," and "Blue Moon."

Stardust ... The Great American Songbook: Volume II will be released on Oct. 19.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:51 AM

September 21, 2004

Chris Botti Free Song Offer

Those who order Chris Botti's new CD in advance can get a free download of a song not on the upcoming project.

chrisbotti3.jpgOn Sept. 28 you can pick up trumpeter Chris Botti’s highly anticipated 13-song album of love songs, When I Fall In Love, in stores and through online retailers. But those who pre-order the album now through sonymusicstore.com will receive an extra song and a limited-edition booklet autographed by Botti.

The free digital song download is the song “But Beautiful,” which Botti recorded during the When I Fall In Love sessions. “But Beautiful” was written by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen and has been performed numerous jazz and pop artists over the years.

If you can't get enough of the sexy trumpeter, you can catch him in the States on September 25 during the CBS Early Saturday show. Vocalist Paula Cole will join Botti on one song. Cole and Botti duet on two songs on the album – “What’ll I Do” and “How Love Should Be.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 12:11 AM

September 13, 2004

Dave Koz Christmas Tour Finalized

It looks like another strong lineup for Dave Koz's annual holiday show.

KozChristmasTour.jpgKeyboardist Brian Culbertson, guitarist Norman Brown and vocalist Brenda Russell will all join saxophonist Dave Koz for this year's Dave Koz and Friends Smooth Jazz Christmas tour.

In addition, trumpeter Chris Botti will join the tour in Los Angeles and other select dates.

The U.S.-only tour begins Nov. 26 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A list of shows is now posted on Koz's tour page at davekoz.com.

Brown and Russell both have new CDs coming out. Brown's West Coast Coolin' will be released on Sept. 21. The current single is called "Up 'N' At 'Em." And Russell's first new album in four years, Between the Sun and the Moon, features the first single “I Know You By Heart.” The CD will be available on Oct. 5.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:30 AM

September 11, 2004

Artists Announced for Luther Vandross Tribute

Many of the artists who performed on a recent tribute album for Luther Vandross, who is recovering from a stoke, will perform at a tribute concert for him in October in New York. Tickets are now on sale.

LutherVandross_bw.gifTickets are now on sale for A Concert of Love, a tribute show for Luther Vandross featuring many of today’s top smooth jazz performers.

The majority of artists have now been announced for the show, which takes place Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York. Those confirmed are saxophonists Dave Koz, Mindi Abair, Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot and Kirk Whalum, keyboardist Brian Culbertson, guitarist Paul Jackson Jr. and vocalists Will Downing, Lalah Hathaway and Ledisi. All of these artists, except for Downing, performed on the tribute album Forever, For Always, For Luther, which was released in July by the Verve Music Group.

Musicians who may appear at the event, but are not yet confirmed, include trumpeter Rick Braun, saxophonist Boney James and Def Soul recording artist Musiq. The host has yet to be announced, but it is expected to be Patti LaBelle.

Tickets for the show are priced from $59.50 to $99.50. Meanwhile, the first single from Forever, For Always, For Luther features Richard Elliot on “Your Secret Love.” The song is No. 15 on Radio & Records' smooth jazz charts.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:48 AM

September 9, 2004

Chris Standring Will Join Dad for a Good Cause

Chris Standring will help his father as he walks the length of the British Isles to raise awareness of prostate cancer.

ChrisStandring_bw.jpgSmooth jazz guitarist and England native Chris Standring, who now lives in Southern California, will soon be helping his father on the adventure of a lifetime. After Chris finishes the last of four performances in London on Sept. 28, he’ll join 70-year-old Alistair Standring for a few days on a 1,000-mile walk to help raise awareness of prostate cancer.

“My father turned 70 this year, and being the active sort of chap he is, he’s decided to take it upon himself to walk the length of the British Isles," says Standring. "It’s going to take him 10 weeks. He’ll be doing about 20 miles a day with his two dogs dressed in orange outfits.”

On Aug. 23, the grandfather and father of four left Land’s End in southwestern England and, if everything goes according to schedule, is expected to arrive in the town of John o’Groats on the northeastern tip of Scotland on Oct. 24th. The senior Standring was inspired to do the walk after he lost a friend to prostate cancer and discovered other friends who had been diagnosed with it. Alistair, a salesman from Oxfordshire in England, will also be joined by his partner, Yvette, on some of the route.

Local television and radio stations will document his progress, and more than 800 salesmen from Alistair’s company will be raising funds for Alistair across the U.K. If you want to donate or find out more information about the walk, you can go to paws4prostate.co.uk.

Meanwhile, Chris Standring’s tour dates are supporting his current album Groovalicious, which features the singles “Ain’t Mad Atcha” and “Miss Downtown Sugar Girl.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:52 AM

Warren Hill's Smooth Jazz Cruise 2005

It's coming sooner than you think. Smooth jazz's biggest stars will be sailing for a week in the Caribbean beginning Jan. 15. You could be there, too.

SmoothJazzCruise2005.jpgHow would you like to spend an entire week in the Caribbean on a ship solely dedicated to smooth jazz? You can this January during Warren Hill’s Smooth Jazz Cruise 2005.

When the cruise debuted in January 2004, the smooth jazz activities were limited to a certain part of the ship. For the next sailing, though, the entire Holland America Zuiderdam will be devoted to the more than 1,800 passengers expected to attend.

The lineup of artists for the cruise is impressive: Marc Antoine, Rick Braun, Norman Brown, Jonathan Butler, Jeff Golub, Euge Groove, Wayman Tisdale, Kim Waters, Kirk Whalum, Peter White, Oleta Adams and the Harris Brothers will all perform. Of course, Warren Hill will be on stage also. There will be three to four shows per night, midnight jam sessions and plenty of chances for fans to collect autographs.

This year’s cruise departs Jan. 15 from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with ports of call in the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands at Half Moon Cay, St. Thomas, Tortola and Nassua. The cruise returns to Fort Lauderdale on Jan. 22.

For more information, log onto smoothcruise2005.com or call toll-free at 877-330-JAZZ.

Cruise director Hill, who is responsible for event coordination and artist booking, says passengers are in for some incredible shows.

“All these guys are incredible performers and they really love putting on a show and entertaining a crowd," Hill says. "They all play with passion."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:35 AM

September 6, 2004

Jeff Golub Signs With Higher Octave

Guitarist Jeff Golub has a new label and is now working on a brand-new album.

jeffgolub_bw.jpgGuitarist Jeff Golub has signed a record deal with Higher Octave, an imprint of the Narada label, and expects to release a new album in the spring of 2005. He has already started working on new material.

Jeff has previously record eight solo albums, including his last three for the GRP/Verve label: Dangerous Curves, Do It Again and his current Soul Sessions. That album features two hit singles: “Boom Boom” and “Pass It On.” Meanwhile, Jeff is currently on tour with Guitars and Saxes, which has Jeff on stage with Marc Antoine, Euge Groove and Warren Hill.

“It’s important, with the people you work with at a record label, that they understand what you want to do and what is different about you than another artist," says Golub. "So that everybody doesn’t just keep making the same records.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:26 PM

Art Porter Fund Established

Jeff Lorber's Shades Of Soul calls for donations to Art Porter fund.

artporter_bw.jpgAlthough the late, great smooth jazz saxophonist Art Porter died almost eight years ago, you can still hear his music on a new album by the group called Shades of Soul, which features keyboardist/composer Jeff Lorber, guitarist Marlon McClain and bassist Nathaniel Phillips.

Porter died tragically on November 23, 1996, after a boating accident off the coast of Thailand, two years after he laid down tracks for the Shades Of Soul project that wasn’t released until last month. Tragically, Art’s wife, Barbi, died a few years later from cancer, leaving two teenage boys, Art Porter III and Arrington Porter. Now, Shades Of Soul is asking for your help to support Art junior and Arrington. Those who want to contribute can do so by writing to:

Art Porter Jr. Children’s Education Fund
P.O. Box 166035
Little Rock, AR 72216

This isn’t the first time that Smooth Jazz artists and fans have helped the Porter kids. A couple of years ago, the smooth jazz community and friends of the late saxophonist pulled together to help them with a special benefit featuring Lorber, Brenda Russell, Kirk Whalum, Steve Cole and Peter White and others. They performed two special concerts in Chicago and raised about $20,000 for the Porter children’s college fund.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:21 PM

September 4, 2004

Chris Botti Chill Show Debuts

Let's Chill With Chris Botti has its first airing on Saturday, Sept. 4. You can listen to it on San Diego radio station KiFM, which will stream it live.

chrisbotti3.jpgLet's Chill With Chris Botti, the new syndicated radio show hosted by Chris Botti, will air in six markets beginning this Saturday, Sept. 4. The two-hour show begins in six cities in the United States: Dallas; Atlanta; San Diego; Las Vegas; Dayton, Ohio; and Reno.

KOAI, Dallas - 8-10 p.m.
WJZZ, Atlanta - 10 p.m.-midnight
KIFM, San Diego - 10 p.m.-midnight
KOAS, Las Vegas - 8-10 p.m.
WDSJ, Dayton - 8-10 p.m.
WJZS, Reno - 10-midnight

You can also listen via the Internet on KiFM (kifm.com) in San Diego, which will stream live audio. The show will air in San Diego every Saturday evening, beginning September 4, from 10 p.m. to midnight Pacific time.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:57 AM

August 12, 2004

Praful Show In Greenland?

Praful may get a "cool" reception at a show in Greenland.

Praful.jpgTickets for saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Praful’s upcoming performance in Greenland may be hard to get.

The concert is a prank.

On his newly redesigned website at praful.nl, the musician features a map of the world, where you can click on a region to see where he’s scheduled to perform. When you click on Greenland, an Oct. 7 concert is listed as “Praful live at the annual polar bear convention.”

“It’s a joke,” Praful admits. “Is there such a thing as a polar bear convention?”

Truthfully, though, Praful does has some upcoming performances in the United States. His current hit is called “Let the Chips Fall,” the follow-up to his smash single called “Sigh” from his album One Day Deep.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:05 AM

Craig Chaquico In His Own Time Zone On New CD

Smooth jazz guitarist Craig Chaquico goes from contrasts on his new CD, Midnight Noon.

Chaquico.jpgGuitarist Craig Chaquico has finished recording his seventh album, Midnight Noon, his seventh solo effort overall and the follow-up to 2002’s Shadow and Light, which produced the smooth jazz hit “Luminosa.”

The album features 10 songs with titles that Craig says all belong to the overall feeling of duality, time and contrast that he is trying to achieve. Titles include “Dream Date,” “Bobby Sox,” “Jazz Noon” and the first single, “Her Boyfriend’s Wedding.” Unlike previous albums, which have included numerous guest artists, Midnight Noon spotlights longtime band members – keyboardist and co-composer Ozzie Ahlers, saxophonist Kevin Paladini, bassist Jim Reitzel, drummer Wade Olson and percussionist Marquinho Brasil.

“The title of the album is based on an old jazz expression called 'jazz noon,' " says Chaqucio. " 'Jazz noon' is midnight, 12 a.m. I heard that years ago, and whenever I thought about it it was just so intriguing to me that that was jazz noon was midnight. Most people’s noon is noon. But in the jazz world some clubs don’t even open until 11 o’clock at night and the second set starts at 2 a.m. There was just something interesting about the other side of the clock.”

The two guests who are on the CD are keyboardist and producer Bill Heller, who has performed with the Rippingtons, and vocalist April Hendrix, who sings “Always With You” and has performed with the band 3rd Force.

Midnight Noon

1. Her Boyfriend’s Wedding
2. Dream Date
3. El Gato
4. Always With You
5. Bobby Sox
6. Dial Del Zorro
7. Jazz Noon
8. Girl’s Night Out
9. Equinox
10. Outlaw in the City

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:59 AM

Upcoming Mindi Abair CD To Feature 6-Minute Jazz Song

Mindi Abair's upcoming album features a jazzy "hidden track" dedicated to the spirit of Cannonball Adderley.

MindiAbair.jpgWhen smooth jazz saxophonist Mindi Abair releases her new album called Come as You Are in September, it will contain a “hidden track” that clocks in at six minutes and nineteen seconds. On the song, “26 Hemenway,” Mindi displays her traditional jazz skills as she pays homage to one of her favorite players, the late Cannonball Adderley. The song gets its title from the address where Mindi lived while attending Berklee College of Music in Boston.

The rest of the album features 11 original songs with such titles as “Shine,” “Make a Wish,” “Head Over Heels,” “Sticks and Stones” and “High Five.” Mindi sings vocals on three songs: “Every Time,” “I Can Remember” and “You’ll Never Know,” which has a bossa-nova beat. The first single, the title track “Come as You Are,” will be shipped to radio stations on August 23rd.

Musicians include the album’s producer and co-writer Matthew Hager, Ricky Peterson, Russell Ferrante, Steve Ferrone, Luis Conte and others. In addition, Mindi’s father, Lance Abair, makes a guest appearance on tenor sax on the song “New Shoes.”

The much-anticipated album is the follow-up to Mindi’s major label debut in 2003, It Just Happens That Way, which has sold almost 100,000 copies and features the current hit “Save the Last Dance” as well as "Lucy's" and "Flirt."

Look for Come As You Are on Sept. 14.

Mindi is now on the cover of Windplayer magazine.

Come As You Are

1. Come as You Are
2. Shine
3. Every Time
4. Head Over Heels
5. Make a Wish
6. Sticks and Stones
7. I Can Remember
8. New Shoes
9. High Five
10. You'll Never Know
11. Cyan
12. 26 Hemenway (hidden track)

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:50 AM

Pat Metheny Group CD Coming Up

The contemporary jazz sounds of the Pat Metheny Group will resurface in January 2005.

Metheny.jpgSixteen-time Grammy Award winner and guitarist Pat Metheny has been reunited with one of his earliest collaborators as his albums will now be released by Nonesuch Records. The label is owned by Warner Bros., which has released Pat’s most recent albums.

Robert Hurwitz, the president of Nonesuch, was integral in Pat’s early career when he released several albums on the ECM label. As part of the new deal, the Pat Metheny Group will release a new album on January 11th.

Pat released a solo guitar album last year, One Quiet Night, but the music he creates with the Pat Metheny Group has much more of a smooth jazz influence. His last CD with the Pat Metheny Group, Speaking of Now from 2002, went to the top of the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charts and picked up a Grammy for the Best Contemporary Jazz Album. It featured the single “As It Is.”

In addition to presenting Metheny’s new music, the entire Metheny catalog from 1985 through the present – with the some of the music remastered and remixed – will become available on Nonesuch. The Pat Metheny Group will begin a world tour in February.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:42 AM

July 30, 2004

Walter Beasley Pondering Retirement

Saxophonist Walter Beasley says he may retire from making music after his new contract with the Heads Up label expires. He says he wants to focus more on his teaching career at the Berklee College of Music.

WalterBeasley.jpgVeteran saxophonist Walter Beasley, who recently signed a contract with the Heads Up record label and is now writing songs for his first album for them, says he’s thinking of retiring after recording a few more albums. Beasley is in his 40s and has recorded 10 albums.

As you may know, he is also a full-time associate professor of music at the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he teaches courses in composition and contemporary jazz. He’ll be teaching an online hip-hop course in the fall, and is soon releasing instructional DVDs on his website, walterbeasley.com. Walter admits that he has some disillusionment with the music industry, but says he also wants to focus even more of his life on teaching music.

“Whether I stay retired, you can just never tell," says Beasley. "I want to go out knowing that I made a difference and knowing that people knew that I was different type of saxophonist-slash-writer-vocalist or what have you than the rest of the bunch. And that’s the way I wanna end my musical career. I’ll teach – and that’s something that I would love to dedicate the rest of my life to. And that takes time. You can’t be in two places at one time.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:43 AM

Slow Songs Next For Brian Culbertson

Brian Culbertson says he'll slow it down on his next CD.

Culbertson.jpg"This record will be, ah, for certain things," says smooth jazz pianist Brian Culbertson. "You know what I’m saying."

Culbertson is known for his energetic live performances. But when he goes back into the studio this fall after his extended tour, he plans to slow things down a bit. Brian says that, for his next album, he’s planning a concept album of “slow jams.” Brian’s current album called Come On Up is mixture of uptempo songs, with a ballad or two. The current single on the charts is the title song, “Come On Up,” which features Norman Brownon guitar and vocals.

“It'll get you in the mood and stay in the mood for the whole record," Culbertson says. "No uptempo crazy funkiness."

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:32 AM

July 8, 2004

Walter Beasley signs to Heads Up label

Saxophonist Walter Beasley is label-less no more, as he's signed a deal with the Heads Up label.

WalterBeasley.jpgVeteran saxophonist Walter Beasley has signed a contract with the Heads Up label and this month is beginning to write new songs for his first album on his new label. The new album will be the follow-up to Go With the Flow from 2003, which was on the N-Coded label and included the hit “West Hamilton Groove.”

Before that, Walter – who is a music professor at the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston – recorded four albums with the Shanachie label. Walter is joining a Heads Up roster that is also home to, among others, Pieces of a Dream, Nestor Torres, Joyce Cooling, Spyro Gyra and Doc Powell.

One of the reasons Walter Beasley signed with the Heads Up label was the chance to work with someone he really admires.

“I’m looking forward to working actually with James Lloyd, the keyboardist of Pieces of a Dream," Beasley says. "His writing and his arrangement is just so beautiful and so different that I’m looking forward to working with him specifically. I’m looking to get deeper into Walter Beasley by, you know, using other people to do it.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:14 AM

Jeff Lorber's Shades Of Soul finally to be released

Ten years ago, Jeff Lorber started recording a CD by a group he called Shades of Soul. It was never released. But the group's time has come, and now it has Chris Botti.

JeffLorber.jpgAlmost 10 years after recording began, an album by a group called Shades of Soul with Jeff Lorber will finally see the light of day. It was back in 1995 that pianist and composer Lorber got together with guitarist Marion McClain and bassist Nathaniel Phillips, who both briefly played with the Dazz Band of “Whip It” fame, and began work on an album. Guests included saxophonist Art Porter, who drowned in November 1996, vocalist Terry Stanton from the popular Hidden Beach label compilations and saxophonist Patrick Lamb.

In 2000, Lorber recruited trumpet player Chris Botti to play on several tracks, as well. Lorber says he received several offers to release the 11-song CD, a mix of old-school funk and smooth jazz that includes a cover of Evelyn “Champagne” King’s “Love Come Down,” but didn’t feel the time was right until now. For Porter fans, the album gives them a chance to hear the saxophonist play on songs that have never been released. Shades of Soul’s debut, self-titled CD will be released August 24th on the Narada Jazz label. The first single is called "Gazpacho."

Shades of Soul

1. All Night Long
2. Then and Now
3. Enjoy Yourself
4. Gazpacho
5. Love Come Down
6. We Got To Live Together
7. Get Wid’ It
8. San Vicente
9. Shades of Soul
10. Gangsta Jam
11. Hey Uh

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:09 AM

July 7, 2004

Jason Miles offers unreleased CD on new website

Composer and producer Jason Miles will soon offer an album he made in 1979 called Cozmopolitan on his brand-new website.

JasonMiles2.jpgFor the recent launch of his first-ever website, music industry veteran Jason Miles decided to offer a collection of jazz-fusion music from 25 years ago that has never been available. In 1979, Jason went into the studio as a leader for the first time with an impressive team of musicians, including saxophonist Michael Brecker, bassist Marcus Miller and saxophonist and flutist Gerry Niewood and guitarist Ricardo Silveira. The result was an album called Cozmopolitan.

“Marcus was 19, Brecker was 28 or -9, I was 27, Ricardo was like 21," says Miles. "The energy on this record is just totally wild."

Although the album was never released, several months ago Jason rediscovered the original music while rooting around his house. The new version of Cozmopolitan was remixed by Doug Oberkircher, who has worked for Spyro Gyra and Eric Marienthal and remixed the upcoming album by guitarist Steve Oliver. Oberkircher has also mixed all of Miles' CDs over the past six years.

Cozmopolitan will be available late this summer exclusively on the website, but you can now stream one of the songs and view a few pictures from the original recording session. You can find Jason’s website at jasonmilesmusic.com.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:23 AM

June 29, 2004

Luther Vandross Updates

In conjunction with a smooth jazz tribute CD for Luther Vandross due July 27, the Verve Music Group has set up a fund in his name through the American Diabetes Association. The label will also co-sponsor a letter-writing campaign beginning Aug. 3.

There are also conflicting opinions on the state of Vandross' health and what the diabetes-induced stroke he suffered means to his singing career.

LutherLive.jpgAlthough a tribute album for singer Luther Vandross by some of smooth jazz’s biggest names won’t be released until July 27, you can do something now to help support research into the disease that caused the singer’s stroke on April 16th, 2003. The Verve Music Group, which is releasing Forever, For Always, For Luther, has set up a fund in Luther’s name to support the American Diabetes Association as it works to find a cure and make a difference in the lives of millions of Americans with diabetes. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation, you can send it to:

American Diabetes Association
Forever, For Always, For Luther Fund
1701 North Beauregard St.
Alexandria, VA 22311

Mary Ida Vandross, Luther’s mother, said in a statement that she appreciates the support of musicians such as Boney James, Kirk Whalum, Mindi Abair, Richard Elliot, George Benson, Paul Jackson Jr., Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson and Rex Rideout, who contributed to the album. “I really enjoy and appreciate this wonderful jazz tribute to my son and his musical legacy,” she says. “I’m hoping that this album will touch you as it has me. And will help to keep Luther in the hearts and minds of his fans around the world.”

The Verve label has added the Write a Lover Letter to Luther campaign. The call to action will be featured inside the upcoming CD, in all advertising, online marketing and point-of-purchase at retail stores. The American Diabetes Association will also promote the campaign. Fans will be invited to send a note to Luther with a contribution to the For Always, For Always, For Luther fund. The letter-writing campaign will begin on Aug. 3rd. The letters will be collected and presented to Luther and his family.

In a related note, there are now plans to a tribute show for Vandross in New York sometime in October featuring many of the artists on the tribute album.

Meanwhile, there are conflicting opinions about Vandross' condition. Singer Richard Marx told the Associated Press he thinks it’s doubtful that Vandross will ever perform again. Marx co-wrote Vandross' smash hit “Dance With My Father.” But Fox News reported that Luther may be thinking of singing again. Luther made the announcement at a fund-raiser at famed Studio 54 in New York. At the event was Nile Rodgers, who created the disco group Chic. Fox News reported that, if he’s ready, Vandross may sing on a new Chic album that Rodgers is assembling for late fall.

“I do hope that Luther will be able to come back," says saxophonist Kirk Whalum, who has performed on numerous of his CDs. It’ll be a hard run, of course. I know a lot of people will be praying for him.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:48 AM

June 17, 2004

People Magazine Names Dave Koz One of ‘50 Hottest Bachelors’

People magazine calls saxophonist Dave Koz one of the world's hottest bachelors.

DaveKoz_bw2.jpgDave Koz has been named on of People magazine’s 50 Hottest Bachelors in the issue that hits newsstands on June 18.

It was back in April when Koz announced in Advocate magazine that he was gay. Koz becomes the second high-profile smooth jazz musician to be singled out by the magazine in the last two months: The April 30 edition called trumpeter Chris Botti one of the country’s 50 Most Beautiful People.

Koz joins some pretty select company in Friday's issue, including actors Orlando Bloom and Jake Gyllenhaal, as well as rap star Pharrell Williams of the group N.E.R.D.

Koz, 41, would be a good catch. His second No. 1 song from his album Saxophonic, following “Honey-dipped,” is called “All I See Is You.” It’s been at the top of the smooth jazz charts for three weeks. Koz is currently on the Dave Koz and Friends Smooth Summer Nights Tour.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:37 PM

June 14, 2004

New Rick Braun CD Only Available Online and at Concerts

Trumpeter Rick Braun’s upcoming CD will only be available at his Web site and at live shows.

RickBraun_Sessions1.gifIf you want to grab Rick Braun’s upcoming CD, you'll have to either get in during a concert or online at rickbraun.com.

Sessions: Volume 1 is the first album to be released on Braun’s new Internet-based record label, which Braun started earlier this year after he broke ties with his label, Warner Bros. The album was recorded live in the studio in an attempt to capture the energy of a live show and features 11 songs from Rick’s catalog, in addition to a new song called “TGIF,” which features saxophonist Dave Koz and keyboardist Rick Braun.

Songs include "Groovis," "Marty's Party," "Notorious" (with saxophonist Richard Elliot), "Night Walk," “Grazing in the Grass” and "Philadelphia" (with guitarist Jeff Golub). Rick’s studio band on the album consists of Jimmy Roberts, Mitch Foreman, Randy Jacobs, Andre Berry, Rayford Griffin and Luis Conte.

Look for Sessions: Volume 1 to be available later in June, but you can pre-order now at rickbraun.com.

Sessions: Volume 1 Songs

1. Cadillac Slim
2. Notorious (featuring Richard Elliot)
3. Philadelphia (featuring Jeff Golub)
4. RSVP
5. Grazing in the Grass
6. Missing in Venice
7. Love Will Find a Way
8. Groovis
9. TGIF (featuring Dave Koz and Brian Culbertson)
10. Nightwalk
11. Marty’s Party
12. Coolsville

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:40 PM

June 10, 2004

Happy Holidays From Peter White, Mindi Abair and Rick Braun

Here's an early holiday treat. Peter White will tour with Mindi Abair and Rick Braun this holiday season.

WhiteAbairXmasTour.jpgIt’s going to be a very merry holiday season, indeed, as trumpeter Rick Braun joins guitarist Peter White and saxophonist Mindi Abair on a Christmas tour this holiday season. It’ll be the second time around for Peter and Mindi, who toured last season as part of the first Peter White Christmas tour, but this year will mark the first time all three have gathered on stage for a holiday show together. At this point, only one show has been confirmed, December 10 at the Inter-Media Art Center in Huntington, New York, but new shows are expected to be announced in the near future. Peter and Rick have both toured in the past with the Dave Koz & Friends: A Smooth Jazz Christmas tour.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:23 AM

Joe Sample Looks to the Past

Joe Sample is now working on a solo-piano CD.

joesample.jpgPianist Joe Sample will revisit the past – his own with the Crusaders and selections from legends such as Fats Waller – on an all-new solo-piano project of jazz standards called Soul Shadows. In fact, “Soul Shadows” is actually the title song of a Crusaders song written by Sample and Will Jennings in the mid-‘70s. You may remember that Sample re-interpreted “Soul Shadows” on a 1997 album called Sample This, where he also revisited songs from his past, but in a band setting. Sample’s most current CD is from 2002, The Pecan Tree, which featured the #1 hit “X Marks the Spot.” Soul Shadows will be released on the PRA/GRP label in August or early September.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:19 AM

Everette Harp Puts Song Samples Online

It's not coming out until later this summer, but you can listen to selections from Everette Harp's new CD right now.

everetteharp.jpgSmooth jazz saxophonist Everette Harp has a new album coming out later this summer, but he'd like you to get a sneak preview now. Harp has placed samples of seven of the 12 songs on All For You on his website, everetteharp.com. Each sample is about a minute long, and the songs include “Kisses Don’t Lie,” “Just Like Old Times,” “When Can I See You Again,” “Time of Our Lives,” “I Remember When” and the album’s first single, “Can You Hear Me.” The album, his debut for the A440 Music Group label and the first since 2000’s For the Love, includes guest appearances by keyboardist George Duke and guitarists Norman Brown, Earl Klugh, Paul Jackson Jr. and Dwight Sills. Everette co-produced the album with veteran smooth jazz producer Rex Rideout.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 4:08 AM

May 28, 2004

Dave Koz vs. Howard Stern and John Tesh

Dave Koz is up against Howard Stern and John Tesh for Radio & Records' Syndicated Personality of the Year.

DaveKoz_bw.jpgSaxophonist and radio personality Dave Koz joined some heady company this week as, for the first time ever, he’s picked up a nomination as Syndicated Personality of the Year for “The Dave Koz Radio Show.”

Winners will be announced June 23, 2004, at the Radio & Records national industry convention.

Dave’s competition includes Howard Stern, Tom Joyner, Delilah, Little Steven and John Tesh. Dave was also nominated in the smooth jazz Personality/Show of the Year category, along with co-host Pat Prescott, for his morning show on KTWV-The Wave in Los Angeles. Koz won that award in 2002.

Also nominated in the Personality/Show of the Year category was previous winner Ramsey Lewis, who hosts a morning show along with Carol Williams for WNUA in Chicago. Lewis also hosts the nationally syndicated “Legends of Jazz” radio show.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:08 AM

May 25, 2004

Alexander Zonjic opening restaurant and jazz club

Flutist and smooth-jazz radio DJ Alexander Zonjic will open a restaurant and jazz club in Detroit in June called Seldom Blues, which is also the name of his new CD.

Zonjic.jpgSmooth jazz flutist Alexander Zonjic will open a restaurant and jazz club next month in Detroit.

Peter White, Bob James and Earl Klugh are expected to be on hand during an invitation-only celebration on June 2 to open the fine-dining and jazz club in Detroit’s Renaissance Center. The restaurant, called Seldom Blues, is owned by Zonjic, who is also the morning-show host for Detroit's Smooth Jazz V98.7 radio station. The restaurant, which is being billed as a “supper club,” seats 300 people.

Zonjic partnered with Detroit Lions football player Robert Porcher, executive chef Jerry Nottage and restaurateur Frank Taylor to open the club, which will feature “continental cuisine with a French flair.” Seldom Blues will open June 3 to the public, and Zonjic will perform on weekends, along with special guests.

Seldom Blues is also the name of Zonjic's new CD, which will be released by Heads Up International this summer.

James wrote the title track and also performs on it. Other original material includes tracks from Jeff Lorber, Peter White, James Lloyd of Pieces of a Dream and Tim Bowman. Cover tracks include Eric Burdon's "Spill the Wine" and an arrangement of "People Make the World Go Round" by Lloyd.

Kirk Whalum and his vocalist brother, Kevin Whalum, are also contributing to the project.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:22 AM

Basia returns after 10 years - sort of

Basia's last solo CD came 10 years. Now she's back on a new album by the group that gave her her start - Matt Bianco.

basia.jpgOne of smooth jazz’s biggest stars from a decade ago, Basia, joins one of today's top stars, Peter White, on a new album being released this month in Europe and Japan by Universal called Matt’s Mood by the pop-jazz band Matt Bianco.

It was back in 1984 that Matt Bianco, co-founded by Peter’s brother, Danny White, made its debut with an album called Whose Side Are You On? featuring Basia’s vocals and Peter’s guitar work. Basia left the group after that album, along with her producer Danny White, to concentrate on Basia’s solo career, which would boast two albums that reached #1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz charts: Time and Tide and London Warsaw New York.

Now, although Basia has not released a solo album since 1994, she is reunited on the new album with brothers Danny and Peter White and Mark Reilly. Peter plays plays guitar or accordion on five songs. Matt’s Mood is scheduled to be released in the United States and Canada in the spring of 2005.

“It’s not a Basia record, but there’s a lot of Basia on it," says Peter White. "And there's a lot of me on it, too. I'm very proud of the record."

The first single is "Ordinary Day."

Here are the songs:

1. Ordinary Day
2. I Never Meant To
3. Wrong Side of the Street
4. La Luna
5. Golden Days
6. Ronnie Samba
7. Say the Word
8. Kaliedo Scope
9. Slip & Sliding
10. Matt's Mood III
11. Ordinary Day- (bonus track in Japan)

Posted by Brian Soergel at 7:09 AM

May 23, 2004

Chris Botti Planning New CD

Chris Botti is hot. He's one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful" people, toured with Sting and has a smash CD called A Thousand Kisses Deep. So it's no surprise that he's entering the recording studio soon to take advantage of his popularity.

chrisbotti.jpgTrumpet player Chris Botti is getting ready to head back into the studio soon to record a new album of musical standards, the follow-up to his current and most successful album so far, A Thousand Kisses Deep. The new album, called When I Fall in Love, will feature some orchestration. The title song is a Edward Heyman and Victor Young composition that has been covered by numerous jazz and pop artists and was popularized by Nat King Cole.

Botti gained worldwide exposure touring with Sting, appearing in People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful” issue and having a No. 1 song, "Indian Summer." He also will debut Let's Chill With Chris Botti on radio stations this summer.

When I Fall in Love is expected to be released in October.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:07 PM

May 18, 2004

Wayman Tisdale Continues Retro Run

Bassist Wayman Tisdale loves the old songs. Look for two classics on his upcoming CD Hang Time.

WaymanTisdale.jpgBassist Wayman Tisdale will continue his love affair with classic old-school songs on his new CD, Hang Time, his first for Dave Koz’s Rendezvous Entertainment. The first single on the Tulsa, Oklahoma, resident’s upcoming CD, which is due July 13, will be a cover of McFadden and Whitehead’s “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.” Tragically, the writer of that song, John Whitehead, was murdered in Philadelphia last week. Tisdale also covers Smoky Robinson’s “Crusin’.”

Tisdale scored a No. 1 hit on the smooth-jazz charts on his last CD, Face to Face, with a cover of "Can't Hide Love" by Earth, Wind and Fire.

Tisdale is part of Koz’s third annual A Smooth Summer Night tour, which begins June 5 and features Koz, singer Jeffrey Osborne and guitarist Jonathan Butler. Trumpeter Rick Braun joins the tour on June 25.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:12 AM

May 15, 2004

Bam! Emeril Band has ties to Pieces Of A Dream

The band on the American TV show Emeril Live has a strong connection to smooth jazz group Pieces Of A Dream. Now that's kicking it up a notch.

emshow.jpgIf you’ve ever watched Emeril Live on the Food Network, you know that the Emeril Live Band helps host Emeril Lagasse “kick it up a notch” with its grooving jazz sounds. In addition, Emeril has featured a number of smooth jzz artists on his show over the years, including Chris Botti, Mindi Abair, Al Jarreau, Dave Koz, Kirk Whalum and Jonathan Butler. But did you know that two of the Emeril Band Live players have connections to veteran smooth jazz group Pieces of a Dream?

Drummer and leader Leonard “Doc” Gibbs played on a Pieces of a Dream album from 1982, We Are One, and again in 1999 on Ahead to the Past. And keyboardist Cliff Starkey performed on several albums, including Goodbye Manhattan and In Flight.

“Doc Gibbs, of course, was the percussionist with Grover Washington Jr. for many years, so he’s an old friend from way back," says Pieces of Dream co-founder James Lloyd. The late Grover Washington Jr. and Pieces of Dream had a long association. "And Cliff played with Pieces for a while, so I feel proud when I see them on the show."

Lloyd admits, though, that he doesn't get much time to watch Emeril. He's either making his own music, including a brand-new CD called No Assembly Required, producing others' music (including Alexander Zonjic and Nestor Torres) at his studio in Youngstown, Ohio, or indulging in his out-of-music passion: cooking.

Sounds like Lloyd is a perfect fit for a guest spot on Emeril Live.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:49 AM

Smooth Jazzers on Miles Davis Concept CD

Producer Jason Miles' upcoming concept album, to be recorded "in the spirit of Miles Davis," boast smooth jazz stars Marc Antoine and Keiko Matsui.

JasonMiles.jpgProducer Jason Miles has recorded concept albums featuring the music of Grover Washington Jr., Ivan Lins and Weather Report. Now he's tackling the king of jazz: trumpeter Miles Davis.

Miles says his latest is inspired by Davis' music. The Rendezvous Entertainment and Narada labels are working together on Miles' upcoming Miles 2 Miles: Imagined Collaborations. The album’s concept is collaborations invoking the spirit of Davis’ music, using today’s most accomplished musicians from a diverse range of musical styles. Most of the songs will be originals, but one highlight is a new interpretation of Davis’ “Flamenco Sketches” with guitarist Marc Antoine and pianist Keiko Matsui. Other musical guests include Mike Brecker, Randy Brecker, Me'Shell Ndegeocello and Nicholas Payton, among others.

Look for Miles 2 Miles: Imagined Collaborations this fall. Meanwhile, Jason’s current project, on the Telarc label, is the group Maximum Grooves and the album Coast to Coast.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:31 AM

May 13, 2004

Peter White Confidential

No one's hotter in smooth jazz right now than Peter White. His first single from his latest CD, Confidential, is a happy ditty called "Talkin' Bout Love" that has stayed on the top of the smooth-jazz charts for five weeks.

Peter talks to Smooth Jazz Vibes about the album, its groovy cover art and mysterious liner notes, his early days with Al Stewart, and future CDs he like to create for his fans.

And here's a challenge he throws out to readers: How does it feel? E-mail him at email@peterwhite.com if you think you know the answer.

PeterWhite_live2002.jpgWhen you think of romance, you picture White’s comforting acoustic guitar melodies, which he’s serenaded his adoring smooth-jazz fans with for 14 years and over the course of nine albums, including his latest, Confidential.

Peter White is clearly a musician at the top of his form. His contemporaries call on him to sprinkle his magic dust on their CDs, festivals book him to draw bodies and his fans count the days until the next batch of songs.

The latest batch of songs, released March 23, looks like it’ll perch near the top of Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz charts for a while. The first single, “Talkin’ Bout Love,” has been No. 1 on Radio & Records’ top 30 charts for five weeks as of the week ending May 14. The single is the 13th No. 1 in White’s career. Paul Brown, the genre’s most successful producer who now has a CD of his own, Up Front, co-wrote and produced the song. Brown’s first single from that project, “24/7,” has been stuck at No. 2 for a while due to the popularity of “Talkin’ Bout Love.”

“Paul’s probably wishing I would vacate the top spot,” says White jokingly. “But I’m sure he’s not complaining, since I think he’s already sold more records than I did on my first album. Paul’s a great friend and a great talent.”

coverConfidential features an all-star cast of guest musicians, including trumpeter Chris Botti, keyboardist Brian Culbertson, percussionist Lenny Castro, saxophonists Mindi Abair and Michael Paulo. Christopher Cross’s angelic vocals caress a cover of a Brenda Russell song "She's in Love," which she and White did a duet on during past Dave Koz and Friends Christmas tours. White took Russell’s arrangement and substituted his guitar for the piano tracks.

Like all of White’s CDs, there are a number of songs that scream “I’m a hit.” “How Does It Feel,” for example. “It’s silly, funny, it’s light-hearted,” says White, who wrote the song with Abair’s producer, Matthew Hager. “It’s pop, it’s dancey, it’s happy. Matthew came up with guitar line, and I originally told him I couldn’t play it that way. But it kept coming back to me.” In the end, White picked the main acoustic riff, while Hager did the same riff on a funky electric guitar. “There’s a lot of guitars in that song, which is a first for me,” says White. “I like that song because it’s different.”

White chose the artwork of cartoon illustrator Mark Zingarelli for the CD cover, which gives the CD a steamy noir-ish look that matches the title. It’s the second time in a row that White’s face didn’t appeared on the cover. His last, Glow, showed Dean Chamberlain’s photo of a guitar.

“The record company decided they didn’t want my picture on the cover,” White says. “We did a photo shoot for the album where I was determined to smile in every shot. But I’ve never had a photo shoot for an album cover where I’m smiling – I really wanted to be smiling this time. We spent a whole day shooting and the record company said they didn’t think it was moody enough. I seem to go for friendly-smiley thing, but the record company and my manager seem to go for the moody thing every time.”

So White thought if he wasn’t going to have his smiley mug on the cover, he wanted to do something romantic. Hence the cover art and the corresponding liner notes, where White writes a mini-narrative using – directly or indirectly – every song title contained within.

On the cover, a man in room 102 of an anonymous-looking hotel room holds a lipstick-kissed envelope. A woman lounges against the open door. “The open door says so much to more than if it had been closed,” says White. “Why is the door open? Is she leaving? Did she just come in? Does she want to leave? Is he leaving? I think she wants something from him; she’s professing her undying love for him, but he doesn’t believe her. The story really is about me, about 20 years ago. The story isn’t real, but characters are. I’m writing about me in the first person. There’s a half-baked philosophy in there too. I think it’s all more interesting than just thanking people. Half the people I thank I’ve never heard of, anyway. I think they all work for the record company and they put their own names in there.”

Holiday tour with Mindi Abair
WhiteAbairXmasTour.jpgThis holiday season, White says he’ll once again tour with Mindi Abair, with another high-profile guest to be announced. White has tons of experience with seasonal music, as he’s released a holiday CD called Songs of the Season and toured in the past with Dave Koz’s annual Christmas tour. A compelling reason to revisit the tour, says White, is the crowd-pleasing appeal of Abair, one of the freshest new talents in smooth jazz.

“She’s a wonderful performer, and of course she plays great. I look in the audience and no one’s looking at me, especially the guys. I was thinking this is just what smooth jazz needs. After the show you’ll see all these guys talking to Mindi and they don’t even care about me.” He laughs about this. “But that’s fine. There’s enough for everybody. I love playing with her. On the Christmas tour, she’d always be energetic and up for the show. She’d say, ‘Come on, guys!’ “

Peter White looks back
As White turns 50 this year in September, he admits he’s been thinking of the past. Nonetheless, he feels milestones are overrated. “All that means to me is that I’ve survived and managed to make a living for 30 years, so I’m very happy to be turning 50 this year, happier than 30. That was big year for me, leaving adolescence behind. But I felt at age 30 I hadn’t achieved what I’d hoped for.”

White was only 22 when British folk singer Al Stewart released his classic Year of the Cat album, which featured White playing some of the guitar lines. White co-wrote the title song on Stewart’s next album released two years later, Time Passages, which turned out to be Stewart’s biggest hit and White’s first taste of the top of the charts.

Shortly after the British-born White turned 33 and had already been living in the U.S. for a while, however, he became aware of what eventually would become smooth jazz while simultaneously listening to Los Angeles’ pioneering Wave radio station and hearing the music of Acoustic Alchemy. “I thought, What is this music? It’s got acoustic guitar and a good beat. I could play acoustic instrumental pop. And I’m sure they didn’t know there would be ready-made audience for them in U.S. They were just a couple of English guys playing music in a bar.”

In 1990, White released his first CD, Reveillez-Vous, whose title song was his first No. 1 hit. He followed that with Excusez-Moi (an apology for the unpronounceable title of the first effort) and Promenade.

Although nothing is definite on any future projects, White says he has plenty of ideas. “I have so many album projects in me that I want to come out, a lot of retrospectives. I want to go back to those first three albums and rework them with different instruments, maybe some orchestration, using the resources I have today to hire the best musicians and get the best studios. There’s also about 10 songs that didn’t get on my fourth album, Reflections, that I’d like to release.”

He’d also like to offer a greatest-hits CD, but with reworked versions of all of this No. 1 songs. “It’d be the best of, but with a twist so there’s a legitimate reason why someone would pick out the album. It’s an idea that gets me excited, and not much gets me excited. I’m approaching 50, remember. The past becomes far more important to you as you get older.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:01 AM

May 11, 2004

Smooth Jazz Scoop May 11, 2004

Norman Brown and Tom Grant have wrapped up new CDs. For Brown, it'll be his first since his Grammy-winning Just Chillin'. Grant's 20th CD will feature his vocals on some straight-ahead jazz.

NEW NORMAN BROWN CD NEXT MONTH

NormanBrown_studio.jpgIt’s now confirmed that Smooth Jazz guitarist Norman Brown will release his eagerly anticipated new album, which is still untitled, in the middle of June. Norman’s sixth solo album is the follow-up to his Grammy-winning release from 2002, Just Chillin’,which won the Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album and whose title song was a #1 Smooth Jazz hit. Also picking up a Grammy for his work on Just Chillin’ was producer and guitarist Paul Brown, who also produces a couple of songs on the new album. Although the jazz division of Warner Bros. recently closed, Norman remains signed to the label and the new album will be Norman’s third for the company.

TOM GRANT FINISHES HIS 20th CD

TomGrant_onstage.jpgVeteran pianist Tom Grant – who has had many smooth jazz hits over the last 28 years – has finished work on his 20th solo album, a traditional jazz project called Nice Work If You Can Get It. The album, released on Tom’s Nu-Wrinkle label, features 11 songs, including two he decided to record after a trip to Brazil: Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Desafinado” and “A Felicidade,” the latter with Nancy Curtin singing in Portuguese. Although he’s sung on albums before, this is the first that really features Tom’s vocals, on songs such as “You Make Me Feel So Young,” “People Will Say We’re in Love” and “I’m Old Fashioned.” There are also several instrumentals and solo piano pieces. Band members include Dave Captein and Phil Baker on bass, Gary Hobbs and Ron Steen on drums and Paul Mazzio and Richard Titterington on flugelhorn. Look for Nice Work If You Can Get It to be released on June 1, and a new smooth jazz CD early in 2005.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 6:23 AM

May 1, 2004

Brian Soergel's Smooth Jazz Scoop: May 2004

This month marks the debut of a new column for smoothvibes.com called Brian Soergel's Smooth Jazz Scoop. Written by smooth-jazz industry veteran Brian Soergel, it will focus on the very latest updates concerning your favorite smooth-jazz musicians, as well as spotlighting promising new artists. In this post are major announcements concerning Dave Koz and Rick Braun.

Brian Soergel also writes for JazzTimes, Smooth Jazz News, All About Jazz and Smart Jock Networks, a radio prep company servicing smooth-jazz radio. Contact Brian at riffzy@comcast.net

DAVE KOZ ANNOUNCES THAT HE’S GAY

DaveKoz_bw.jpgDave Koz, one of the most visible stars in smooth jazz, announced in the April 27 edition of Advocate magazine that he is gay and that it’s time to “get to the next plateau.” “It’s a big deal, and it’s not a big deal,” the saxophonist told the national gay and lesbian magazine. “For the most part, I’ve been out in my personal life and even in my professional life to a degree.” A few days before the magazine hit the newsstands, Koz posted a statement on his Web site, davekoz.com, about the article. "I'm proud and happy to share another side of who I am and what I do,” he wrote. “As I move through this life, I have found that it's increasingly all about peeling back the layers, speaking the truth, and striving for authenticity. This is an inspiring and powerful moment for me, and I've certainly learned a lot getting here. I am most definitely looking forward to where this road leads and I do hope you'll enjoy taking the ride with me."

Koz says the earliest memory he has of recognizing his sexuality was when he looked at ads in the Sunday paper and saw “the guys in the T-shirts and looking at their muscles and going, ‘Wow.’ That’s early, huh?” Koz, whose most recent CD is called Saxophonic, hosts the weekly Dave Koz Radio Show and is co-owner, along with industry executives Hyman Katz and Frank Cody, of Rendezvous Entertainment. Rendezvous, in addition to Koz, features saxophonist Michael Lington, guitarist Marc Antoine, saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Praful and new signee Wayman Tisdale, who plays bass. Koz’s current radio hit is called “All I See Is You.”


RICK BRAUN CREATING INTERNET RECORD COMPANY

RickBraun.jpgThe closure of Warner Bros. jazz department meant that many smooth jazz artists were forced to start looking for new labels for their music. Trumpet player Rick Braun decided he’d just start his own label instead. Braun is now creating his own Internet-based record company that, in addition to releasing music, will offer fans and musicians a chance to interact.

Braun’s first project is a new CD of 11 songs recorded live in the studio in an attempt to capture the energy of a live show. Most of the songs are from Braun’s catalog, although he does promise a new song or two. The CD features such Braun staples as “Groovis,” “Marty's Party,” “Notorious” (with saxophonist Richard Elliot), “Night Walk” and “Philadelphia” (with guitarist Jeff Golub). Rick Braun Live 2004 is expected to be available this summer. Braun, whose latest CD – and his best – is called Esperanto, plans to include online courses for musicians and explain how musicians make their CDs. Students learning instruments will be able to download songs in individual files. Braun’s current smooth jazz hit is called “Daddy-O.”

Also, Braun recently redsigned his Web site, rickbraun.com, to include “audience cams,” showing his fans in concert. Braun has a few dates coming with BWB (Braun, Kirk Whalum, Norman Brown) and will appear this summer with Dave Koz’s Smooth Summer Nights tour.


'BEAUTIFUL' CHRIS BOTTI TO CHILL OUT WITH NEW RADIO SHOW

ChrisBotti_bw.gifTrumpeter Chris Botti is everywhere these days. In the April 28th edition of People magazine, he’s on the list for the magazine’s annual issue recognizing the “50 Most Beautiful People.” He joins such stars as actors Orlando Bloom, Jude Law and Brad Pitt and actresses Halle Berry, Lindsay Lohan and singer/actress Beyonce. Botti’s recognition soared this year as he opened for Sting during his Brand New Day tour.

Now Botti’s ready to make some quiet noise. This summer, he’ll debut a new radio show called Let's Chill With Chris Botti, which is expected hit airwaves this summer. The title comes from “chill music,” which is a type of music popular on the beaches in Café del Mar on the Spanish island of Ibiza. The music has many similarities to smooth jazz and techno music, and some of the artists played in the format include Praful and Moby. “The music is the largest radio format outside the U.S., but it’s gaining popularity here,” says Botti. “It’s not so much about the artists who make it; it’s about a lifestyle.” Let’s Chill With Chris Botti is a product of Rendezvous Entertainment, Broadcast Architecture and Crystal Media, the same group that syndicates The Dave Koz Radio Show.

Botti recently scored his fourth No. 1 hit on the smooth charts with the song “Indian Summer” from his every-song-is-keeper A Thousand Kisses Deep CD. Botti says the CD has many chill-music influences. Botti’s current single is called “Back Into My Heart,” which Chris wrote with noted hitmakers Matthew Gerrard and Bridget Benenate. Later this month, Chris will perform at the Blue Note in Tokyo.


SMOOTH JAZZ STARS PAY TRIBUTE TO LUTHER VANDROSS

LutherVandross_bw.gifSome of the biggest names in smooth jazz are now finishing their contributions to a tribute album to singer Luther Vandross, who is recovering from a stroke he suffered a year ago. “It’s a who’s-who of smooth jazz, so you know it’s going to be an incredible album,” says keys player Brian Culbertson, who duets with Dave Koz on “If Only For One Night.” The 10-song album, called Forever, For Always, For Luther, is scheduled to be released on the Verve label this summer.

In addition to Culbertson and Koz, artists recording songs made famous by Vandross are Boney James, Kirk Whalum, Mindi Abair, Richard Elliot, George Benson, Paul Jackson Jr. and Lalah Hathaway. James will interpret “Wait For Love” and add his sax to singer Ledisi’s version of “Sensitivity.” Other songs include Whalum on “Any Love,” James on “Wait For Love,” Abair on “Stop to Love,” Braun on “Dance With My Father,” Jackson Jr. on “Never Too Much,” Elliot on “Your Secret Love” and Benson on “Take You Out.” Luther’s good friend, keyboardist Rex Rideout, is producing the CD.


ON THE HORIZON: CDs BY 3rd FORCE, STEVE OLIVER, EARL KLUGH , WAYMAN TISDALE , JEFF KASHIWA

Arrow.gifIt’s been a long wait between albums for sweet-sounding acoustic guitarist Earl Klugh, but the good news is that he’s working on two projects simultaneously. Earl’s last album was called Peculiar Situation and released in 1999 on the Windham Hill Jazz label. Now, from his home recording studio in Atlanta, Earl is recording an acoustic album of jazz standards and another melodic album that is more in tune with the many his Smooth Jazz fans have come to love over the years. “I’ve been out here for twenty-five years plus, so there’s a lot of material to pick from while performing,” says Klugh, talking about his rigorous touring schedule. Look for the acoustic album in September and the band album sometime in spring 2005.

Arrow.gifMichael Lington’s first CD for Rendezvous is called Stay With Me, and is available on May 18. The first single on the 10-track CD is called “Show Me,” an extremely catchy number that is already a hit and should land high in the charts. Look for this CD to really propel Lington to stardom. Lington performs with Brian Culbertson in June at the Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles. Lington also plays sax on an upcoming single called “Up South” by drummer Gene Dunlap. Expect to hear more from Dunlap at the end of June when his CD Wass Up is released on the Liquid 8 label, which is home to the popular smooth-jazz/R&B group Bass X.

Arrow.gifVeteran smooth jazz group 3rd Force, now celebrating its 10th year, has started recording a new album called Driving Force, the sequel to 2002’s Gentle Force. Featured artists include Brian Hughes, Craig Chaquico, Marc Antoine and 21-year-saxophonist Eric Darius. 3rd Force leader William Aura says the new album is more upbeat and funky than Gentle Force, which was intentionally on the contemplative side. “This one is very funk and groove oriented, a party album, if you will,” says the mild-mannered Aura, who nonetheless knows how to crank it up when necessary. This month Aura is in Katmandu, Nepal, to record a song for the CD with Rashmi, one of several young Nepali and Tibetan students he sponsors through his website auraimports.com. Look for Driving Force, which will be mixed in June, to be released by the Higher Octave/Narada label early in 2005.

Arrow.gifSaxophonist Jeff Kashiwa will release Peace of Mind, his follow-up to The Simple Truth, on Aug. 24 on the Native Language label. The Seattle-area resident enlisted Brian Bromberg and Chuck Loeb to co-produce the album. Kashiwa also handles a few tracks. Look for Peace of Mind in stores and online on Aug. 24. Also, Kashiwa is currently preparing of a tour he started The Sax Pack, starring himself and saxophonists Kim Waters and Steve Cole. The tour begins May 15 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Arrow.gifGuitarist and vocalist Steve Oliver, who recently moved out of Los Angeles to a home in the rolling foothills near Banning in Southern California, has finished mixing a new album with Doug Oberkircher, who has worked with Spyro Gyra and Eric Marienthal. Steve’s new album, tentatively titled 3-D, is his first for the Koch Records label after two albums – First View and Positive Energy – for Native Language. You may remember Oliver’s hits, which have included “High Noon,” “Positive Energy” and “West End.” The new album will include four vocal tracks and one cover tune. Musical guests include saxophonist Marienthal, drummer Harvey Mason and pianist Tom Schuman of Spyro Gyra, who also produced the album with Oliver. The first single is expected to be “Chips and Salsa.” Look for Oliver’s new CD this summer.

Arrow.gifWayman Tisdale, the former pro basketball player who is now one of Smooth Jazz’s most well-known bass players, has signed with Rendezvous Entertainment. Look for Wayman’s debut with Rendezvous, Hang Time, his fifth album overall, to be released on July 13. James Lloyd of Pieces of a Dream wrote and produced the title track. Meanwhile, Tisdale is part of Dave Koz’s third annual Smooth Summer Nights tour, which begins June 5th and features Koz, singer Jeffrey Osborne and guitarist Jonathan Butler. Trumpeter Rick Braun joins the tour on June 25.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 10:43 PM