March 31, 2013

What We're Listening To ** March 2013

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

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

Mekiel Reuben, If You Were Here Tonight, MekMuse Records

Bluey, Leap of Faith, Shanachie Records

Phil Perry, Say Yes, Shanachie Records

Paul Hardcastle, VII, Trippin N Rhythm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

P E T E R * B O E H I

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

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

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

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

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

D E N I S * P O O L E

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:13 AM

February 28, 2013

What We're Listening To ** February 2012

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

The Lucky Peterson Band, Live At The 55 Arts Club Berlin (JSP Records) (2013)

Marcus Miller, Renaissance, (Concord Jazz) (2012)

Flamingo Star, I Wouldn't Wait No Longer (Sheer Sound/peacelounge Records) (2008)

Groove55, Voyage ( (2012)

Duncan Millar, Fresh Air (Warmday Records) (2013)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Fabiana Passoni - Dim The Lights (2013)
Brazilian songstress Fabiana Passoni tackles some Pop and R&B classics with her sultry voice and laid-back acoustic Brazilian bossa nova style. Songs include Minnie Riperton's "Lovin' You", Michael Jackson's "Rock With You", Rufus & Chaka Khan's "Ain't Nobody" and others. Great unobtrusive horn arrangements and a top-notch band make this a very pleasing album to unwind. Thumbs up!

Joe Sample - Rainbow Seeker (1978)
This album by Crusaders' pianist Joe Sample is one of my "desert island" albums and the best record he ever did in his whole career (although this is certainly debatable, given his extensive and varied output). I always love to come back to this album full of memorable melodies and enjoy its mix of great piano playing that is always jazzy, but never overpowering, supported by an excellent band and tons of strings. Out of this world!

Drew Davidsen - True Drew (2013)
You may think of Drew whatever you want, but this guy is relentless and keeps on making his mark on the music scene, delivering another outstanding album. He employed great producers (among them Norman Connors) and a string of top-drawer players, so with his heartfelt playing and a bunch of strong compositions, you a get a great guitar album. Keep it up, Drew!

Terry Tuck - Desert Wind (2013)
Bass player Terry Tuck comes up with a funky album showcasing his thumping bass playing, it offers a nice selection of groovy compositions and good ensemble playing, but most of all - he covers one of my all-time favorite love songs by guitarist Wilbert Longmire called "But I Love You". Who else would dare doing that?

David Spinozza - Here's That Rainy Day (1983)
My nod to the past goes to Guitarist David Spinozza who delivers here a great LP supported by NYC finest session players. You get a mix of relaxed playing by a bunch of seasoned session player with nice melodies and - above all - true instruments, yielding a nice live feeling. Very nice funked up version of "My Funny Valentine". Stood the test of time!

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Surrendered Soul’ by Tim Cunningham from his soon to be released CD Reflection. This highly anticipated follow up to his 2007 project Manchester Road promises much and, if this sultry, cool yet definitely funky track is anything to go by, is sure to do well.

‘Island Groove’ by sax-man Elan Trotman from the album Tropicality. Hidden amongst what otherwise are predominately understated, sunshine filled songs, this zesty cut has the potential to fill dance floors around the world. Produced by Rhani Song, and with sensuous vocals from Chantel Hampton, it may well prove to be the surprise packet of the entire recording.

‘Dance With You’, the extremely attractive single release from composer producer and keyboard player Greg Manning. Featuring Mindi Abair on sax, and that smooth jazz chameleon Bruce Nazarian on guitar, this up-tempo high-octane tune is well worth checking out.

‘Get What You Give’ by Duncan Millar from the CD Fresh Air. Vitalized by subtle backing vocals from Dennis Charles and without doubt the most upbeat number that the collection has to offer, this is a track with the potential to attract cult status.

‘I’m Into You’ by guitarist Drew Davidsen from his current release True Drew. Complete with opulent backing from The Temptations vocalist Ron Tyson this one proves to be a mellifluous masterpiece.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:09 PM

January 31, 2013

What We're Listening To ** January 2013

P E T E R * B O E H I

Duncan Millar - Fresh Air (2013)
British keyboardist Duncan Millar has released a new CD after a hiatus featuring tons of memorable tracks, he is supported by the best UK players, and his keyboard playing over cool grooves results in another brilliant album. Don't miss it!

GRP 30: The Digital Master Company 30th Anniversary (2012)
This 2 CD set provides over two hours of great jazz recorded during the past 30 years of the seminal GRP label and shows their versatility and scope with artists ranging from David Benoit, Dave Valentin, Lee Ritenour, Diane Schuur and Dave Grusin to George Benson, Dizzy Gillespie, Tom Scott, Spyro Gyra and Arturo Sandoval. Everything is perfectly recorded and produced. A gem!

Quasimode - Four Pieces: The Best Selection (2012)
This excellent band from Japan combines straight-ahead acoustic jazz with contemporary club grooves, which yields mesmerizing results. This best of selection provides their best tracks and is the place to start if you want to learn more about this band. Groovy!

Elan Trotman - Tropicality (2013)
Saxman Elan Trotman is quickly entering the top level of smooth jazz with his latest release. Guests like Jeff Lorber, Nick Colionne, Terry Lyne Carrington, Paul Brown and others make sure that the playing is nothing but outstanding. The CD has a nice tropical vibe. Recommended!

Jeff Tyzik - Radiance (1982)
My nod to the past goes to this LP by trumpeter Jeff Tyzik from 1982 featuring the best NYC session players like Steve Khan, Warren Bernhardt, Will Lee, Steve Gadd, Rubens Bassini, Grant Geissman, Don Grolnick and more. This brand of jazz-funk is my kind of music. Just love it!

D E N I S * P O O L E

The title cut from High Fidelity, the latest album release from that ultra talented singer, songwriter and keyboard player Alan Hewitt. This cool instrumental is everything one has come to expect from an artist with rhythm and melody to burn.

The sumptuous ‘No Stress At All’ from Paul Hardcastle’s soon to be released Hardcastle VII. Those listeners who go back that far will be unable to ignore comparisons with Kool & The Gang’s seminal 1974 hit ‘Summer Madness’ yet, that said, ‘No Stress At All’ is a fine example of Hardcastle at his best and an early contender for one of my tracks of the year.

‘Manhattan Vibe’, the title track from the brand-new project from composer, producer and keyboard player Phil Casagrande. Replete with a cool yet edgy vibe, this is a number that, given the right exposure, could well be a surprise club scene crossover.

‘59th St.’ by multi-instrumentalist and vocalist d.Mills from his CD On The Table. d.Mills combines the pursuit of a career in music with his ‘day job as a NYPD detective. This superb track not only captures the streetwise attitude of the Big Apple but, fittingly, would also play well as theme music for; yes you guessed it, a television cop show.

‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind’ by New York based singer, songwriter and woodwind player Paula Atherton from her latest recording Enjoy The Ride. This mellifluous masterpiece proves to be the perfect vehicle with which to showcase Paula’s considerable vocal talent and when she reprises the number in instrumental form the result is just as good.

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

Dean Brown, DBIII (BHM) (2010)

ETH Big Band, Brasil (2012)

Nils, City Groove (Baja Records) (2012)

Reggie Codrington, C-Note (REC Booking, INC) (2003)

Matt Marshak, Colors of Me (Matt Marshak) (2012)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 4:05 PM

December 26, 2012

What We're Listening To ** December 2012

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Just Kickin It’ by sax-man Rob White from the CD of the same name. This groove drenched cut is one of the best recordings of the year and certain to herald big things for this talented player.

‘Sunday Jam’ by Jackiem Joyner from his latest release Church Boy. The magic of Joyner is best summed up by this smoothly grooving cut that should not only be the perfect song for Sunday morning listening but also an ideal accompaniment for a Sunday afternoon drive.

Well it is Christmas time and I have to admit to having a certain seasonal weakness for the timeless ‘Baby, It's Cold Outside’ that despite being written in 1944 carries with it a festive charm which never gets old. Up until now my favorite version has always been that recorded by James Taylor in collaboration with Natalie Cole and hidden away on Taylor’s little known CD ‘A Christmas Album’ which was only ever available from Hallmark stores. However, right up there with it is a brand new and very different interpretation by soul icons Jeffrey Osborne and Chaka Khan. In fact it is the first single from Osborne’s upcoming project A Time For Love and is sure to be a sumptuous stocking filler for the holiday season.

‘The Way You Smile’ by Carl Stanley from the album A Beautiful Thing. This mid tempo smoker shimmers with a totally compelling vibe and is a joy from beginning to end.

‘Marvin’s Medley’ by Andre Ward from his new album Caution. Refreshingly different and built round snippets of Gaye’s 1976 smash ‘I Want You To Want Me’, this is far from your usual revamp of Marvin Gaye staples and with an arrangement that sizzles with an authentic Motown vibe it’s a track that is sure to unite fans of classic soul and smooth jazz in a coming together of mutual appreciation.

P E T E R * B O E H I

David Wildi Guitar Poetry - The Inner Star (2012)
Swiss guitarist David Wildi comes up with a relaxed jazzy guitar album, featuring the excellent playing of the leader and some great solos by the band. The music is funky and groovy, the melodies are catchy, very nice indeed! Check it out!

J.A.M. - Jazz Acoustic Machine (2012)
This japanese piano trio combines ultra funky grooves with fender rhodes and piano, the tracks are simple and up to the point, the playing is great and entertaining. Check out "Sing Without You", excellent stuff!

Lee Ritenour - Rhythm Sessions (2012)
Guitarist Lee Ritenour returns to his roots of funky fusion, this CD offers plenty of top-notch guitar playing supported by a stellar cast. Skip the few introspective tracks and you get plenty of the good stuff!

Nighthawks - Live In Hamburg (2012)
Chill-Out/Lounge band Nighthawks are a great act, this album was recorded live in Germany and features some mesmerizing tracks featuring the trademark jazzy trumpet playing by Rainer Winterschladen and lots of Pink Floyd-like guitar solos. Cannot get enough!

Alexander Zonjic - Romance With You (1989)
Flautist Alexander Zonjic - having played with Bob James for years - released this LP in 1989, he is supported by Bob James and several players from his band and label, like Gary King, Yogi Horton, Mark Colby and - last but not least - Earl Klugh. This LP sounds like some of the best stuff Bob James released during his Tappan Zee period. A classic!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:11 PM

November 25, 2012

What We're Listening To ** November 2012

P E T E R * B O E H I

Daniel D. - Epic Sounds (2012)
Violinist Daniel Davis comes up with his latest album - funded via Kickstarter - and it is a winner. Representing a new generation of musicians, Daniel D. blends jazz, funk and hip-hop into an irresistible mix, featuring his great violin playing. A cover of Grover's "Mr. Magic" completes a well rounded package. Thumbs up!

Bill Withers - The Complete Sussex and Columbia Albums (2012)
People it has been time, but now we got those all those gems in a 9 CD box set. While some of those albums have been out on CD before, others now are available for the first time, like "Naked & Warm", "Making Music" and "Justments", which have been awaited for years and now are happily welcomed. Quality songs from beginning to end, a remarkable voice and words that have a lot of meaning. Essential stuff!

Elisabeth Mis - Breakaway (2012)
Saxophonist Elisabeth Mis delivers another slice of groovy smooth jazz with catchy melodies, great musicianship and production and her sax playing taking things to another level. Very recommended!

Matt Marshak - Colors Of Me (2012)
Guitarist Matt Marshak hails from NYC and his latest release is full of groovy tracks featuring the bluesy guitar playing of the leader - reminding me a bit of Jeff Golub - supported by a great band complete with hammond B3, delivering an organic sound. Excellent stuff!

Caldera - Sky Islands (1977)
My nod to the past goes to this seminal album by Caldera, a jazz-funk / fusion band making music that is at the same time groovy and complex, music for the body and soul, absolutely essential stuff I always love to come back to. Memories!

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘All I Wanna Do’ by Fourplay from the band’s hot new album Esprit De Four. This smoothly jazzy cut was co-written by Nathan East who also does a fine job on vocals. Very much akin to being wrapped in a warm comforting blanket this is contemporary jazz at its soothing best.

‘Into U’ by George Anderson from the CD Expressions. Think the Luther Vandross classic ‘I Wanted Your Love’; add the smoky vocals of Fil Straughan and what you have is a magnificent slice of very danceable R & B.

‘Call Me’ by Nils from his latest hit album City Groove. The epitome of west coast groove, this one is right up there with the best that this fine collection has to offer.

‘Smooth’ by Phoenix based keyboard player Cal Harris Jr. Without doubt one of the hottest singles of the year so far, not only is it replete with Cal’s rapidly emerging trademark sound but also includes a delicious interjection of sax from the highly regarded Elan Trotman.

‘On The Dance Floor’ by Ragan Whiteside from her latest CD, Evolve. Whiteside’s talents as a sublime flute player, a songwriter and vocalist know no bounds and this superbly soulful track goes some way in explaining why. It finds her in a glorious duet with Porter Carroll Jr and is a delight from beginning to end.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:35 PM

September 30, 2012

What We're Listening To ** September 2012

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Metropolis Night’ by Croatian sax-man Igor Gerzina from the CD Metropolis. In terms of contemporary jazz strongholds, this former Yugoslavian republic may not be the first to come to mind yet this is a collection that might well change all that. My own personal favorite is ‘Metropolis Night’ which, segueing between an approach that is entirely off the chain and one somewhat more melodic, proves to be a total triumph.

‘Lately’ by Anita Baker from the soon to be released CD Only Forever. Baker’s distinctive tones have been lighting up the world of smooth soulful contemporary jazz since she made her debut in 1983 with The Songstress. Only Forever will be released on October 23 and if the sumptuous ‘Lately’ is anything to go by it’s going to be something special.

‘Breakthrough’ by Julian Vaughn from the album of the same name. This sublime cut features Tobbi White Darks on vocals and with Darren Rahn making a fulsome contribution on sax this massively soulful song is totally to die for.

‘Feels Like Heaven’ by Neamen Lyles from his hot new album So Free. With a melodic swagger that checks every contemporary jazz box imaginable this track is yet another reason why Lyles (who is an experienced teacher and clinician at the Arizona Jazz Institute in Tucson, AZ) may not be back at school anytime soon.

‘Master Blaster (Jammin)’ by saxophonist Elan Trotman from his new release Tropicality. Co-produced by Peter White this is a collection that gives a nod to Trotman’s Barbadian roots and the Caribbean connection extends to this, the first single, which is Trotman’s juicy interpretation of the Bob Marley classic.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Matt Marshak - Colors Of Me (2012)
Guitarist Matt Marshak delivers another great slice of organically sounding, funky and groovy smooth jazz with lots of hammond b3 and horns. Catchy melodies and top-notch playing yield another winner. Thumbs up!

Euge Groove - House Of Groove (2012)
This latest release by saxophonist supreme Euge Groove is a laid-back yet still groovy affair, it is beauty and perfection rolled into one, the songs are catchy and go down like good wine. Smooth jazz bliss!

Jeff Kashiwa - Let It Ride (2012)
Saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa comes up with another solo release, it offers more of Jeff's gutsy sax playing supported by a cast of great players, it's another solid slice of smooth jazz. Good stuff!

Dean Brown - Unfinished Business (2012)
Guitar player Dean Brown takes no prisoners on his latest release, it is a funky affair running the gamut from funk to jazz and blues, featuring the adventurous guitar of the leader and an all-star cast. Just excellent!

Jim Hall & David Matthews Orchestra - Concierto De Aranjuez (1981)
My nod to the past goes to this LP from 1981, featuring guitarist Jim Hall with the David Matthews Orchestra, going through a catalog of great compositions, most notably the classic "Concierto De Aranjuez", which is a track I always love to go back to. Stood the test of time!

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

John Dukich, Down in Brazil (Ferential Studios) (2012)

Jonathan Butler, Grace and Mercy (Rendezvous Music) (2012)

U-Nam, Weekend in L.A (A Tribute to George Benson) (Skytown Record) (2012)

Jeff Kashiwa, Let It Ride (Native Language Music) (2012)

Four80East, Off Duty (Boomtang Records) (2012)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 4:12 PM

September 3, 2012

What We're Listening To ** August 2012

P E T E R * B O E H I

Slim Man - Live (2012)
This great live CD by Slim Man (aka Tim Camponeschi) with his long time band members delivers some great live performances, some of them featuring guitarist Marc Antoine, and it is a winner combining jazz, soul and pop to an irresistible mix of music, graced by the smooth vocals of the leader. The release of this CD was successfully funded via Kickstarter (with a little help from yours truly). Thumbs up!

The Rippingtons feat. Russ Freeman - Built To Last (2012)
More magic by Russ Freeman on guitar with his Ripps, in parts supported by an orchestra, delivering their trademark sound featuring great compositions and playing, you can't go wrong by getting their music. Classic stuff!

Gerald Albright & Norman Brown - 24/7 (2012)
Saxophonist Gerald Albright hasn't sounded so fresh in a long time like on this collaboration album with guitarist Norman Brown, this is a perfect slice of smooth jazz with catchy compositions and superior playing by all involved. Simply excellent!

Bruce Riley - Smooth Jazz and Smooth Jazz 2 (2012)
Despite the generic titles, these are very worthwhile CDs featuring groovy, accessible instrumental music with top-notch playing, there is no background info on the artist on CDBaby, but nevertheless, the stuff is good! Take it from me!

Greg Errico - Giants (1978)
My nod to the past goes to this LP by drummer Greg Errico, this album features Carlos Santana on guitar, Lee Oskar on harmonica and Herbie Hancock on keys, it delivers some funky instrumentals and grooving latin tracks, my favorite is "Kilimanjaro" and "Fried Neckbones And Home Fries". Track it down!

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Just Give Me A Minute’ by sax-man Shilts, from his latest album All Grown Up. As Shilts moves further from his Down To The Bone phase he is now delivering cutting edge contemporary jazz that is always compelling and never too smooth. A case in point is ‘Just Give Me A Minute’ which with a down and dirty beat is entirely to die for.

‘Its Real’ by trumpet and flugelhorn player Gabriel Mark Hasselbach from his new CD Kissed By The Sun. This rhythmic, mid-tempo number features Rob Tardik on guitar and is a real personal favorite.

‘Yes You Have’ by Sean O’Bryan Smith from the album Reflection. This thoughtful number from one of the best bass players in the business includes soul-tinged vocals from Gary Brown. With a free flowing melody that you will want to return to often it is one reason among many why you should check out this interesting collection.

‘Electric’ by the incredible Jonathan Fritzén from his brand new project Magical. With Fritzén’s talents as a composer, producer and performer all brilliantly on display this is proving to be one of the albums of the entire year. Although crammed with standout tunes there is nothing to surpass the rhythmic splendor of the superb ‘Electric’. Without doubt a contemporary jazz classic in the making, this is a track that is certain to make it into my top twenty of 2012.

‘Star Of The Story’ by Rahni Song from his current CD Breakin’ The Rules. Seems like producer, arranger, songwriter and recording engineer Rahni Song, has been drip-feeding an appreciative audience with a sequence of singles from this fine album. First came the fabulous ‘91 North’ which is already inked in as one of my tracks of the year while other gems include a wonderful cover version of the Roberta Flack – Donny Hathaway classic ‘The Closer I Get To You’ and ‘Barry’s Medley’ that Song uses as his own evocative tribute to the great Barry White. Now comes the sumptuous ‘Star Of The Story’ that includes luscious vocals from Berklee School Of Music graduate Chantel Hampton. This smooth and soulful cut is a real winner.

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

Return to Forever, The Mothership Returns (Eagle Rock Entertainment) (2012)

Mike Stern, All Over the Place (Heads Up) (2012)

David Benoit, Conversation (Heads Up) (2012)

Shilts, All Grown Up (Blanket Records) (2012)

Yonrico Scott, Be in My World (Blue Canoe) (2012)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:49 PM

August 3, 2012

What We're Listening To ** July 2012

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Smile’ by Canadian guitarist Rob Tardik from his current album Balance Energy Laughter Love (aka BELL). This is proving to be a collection that keeps on giving as with the singles ‘East Meets Wes’ and ‘Shakin The House’ already having made a considerable impact on smooth jazz radio Smile’ seems all set to do just as well. Featuring Jaared on sax, this happy tune with a feel good vibe is sure to put a smile on the face of all those who hear it.

‘Namaste’ by Kenny G and Rahul Sharma from the CD of the same name. Although the title track to this interesting collection is already dominating the smooth jazz airwaves the version of it to really check all the boxes is a ‘Soul Seekers Club Mix’ that completely steals the show. Although the words Kenny G and ‘dance floor filler’ don’t often appear in the same sentence this one, despite all the odds, is an absolute gem.

‘All I Do’, by soulful saxophonist Jeanette Harris from the album, Saxified. Although this is a collection that first saw the light of day in 2010 it is only now getting the publicity it so richly deserves. Central to this refocusing is the brand new radio single ‘All I Do’ which is a silky cover of the Stevie Wonder composition that back in 1966 helped make Tammi Terrell a star. It is but one highlight of an album packed full of them.

‘In The City’ by Brian Culbertson from the album Dreams. From moody beginnings and with a killer bass line throughout this one is a certainty to be in my twenty top tunes of 2012.

‘Cougars’ by the Rippingtons from the soon to be released new CD Built To Last. This Latin spiced easy grooving number finds Freeman on guitar at the very center of a song which, when compared to past classics such as ‘Tourist In Paradise’, is very much Rippingtons on the reflective side.

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

Pat Metheny, Unity Band (Nonesuch) (2010)

Al Jarreau & The Metropole Orkest: Live (Concord Jazz) (2012)

Gerald Albright & Norman Brown, 24/7 (Concord Jazz) (2012)

Rico Belled, XR7 (Black Scratch Music) (2012)

Brian Culbertson, Dreams (Verve) (2012)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Marcus Miller - Tutu Revisited (2011)
This 2CD plus DVD set is one of the greatest albums to come along in a long time, I am repeatedly drawn back to this excellent set of musicianship by a killer band featuring trumpet player Christian Scott and saxophonist Alex Han, propelled by the masterful and funky bass of Marcus Miller. The album was recorded live in France and revisits Miles Davis' Tutu catalog, where Marcus Miller was Miles' musical partner. The often lengthy performances are out of this world with great solos by all involved and - above all - the rock solid and inspired bass playing of the leader who is on top of his game. A musical milestone!

Billy Kilson's BK Groove - Rhythm Dancer (2011)
Drummer Billy Kilson is a very unique drummer with a complex technique that impresses and delights, he tours with Chris Botti for years and does his own projects as well. This set was recorded live with a great band, additionally you get a DVD to add the visuals. This set has a similar spirit like the Marcus Miller album with its great playing and lengthy solos, the band delivers an outstanding performance to sink your teeth into. Excellent stuff!

Return To Forever - The Mothership Returns (2012)
Originally formed in 1971 and being on the forefront of fusion during the 70ies, this great band reunited with original members Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White, plus Frank Gambale on guitar and Jean-Luc Ponty on violin, who perfectly fit the bill and form a cohesive and tight group that delivers flawlessly. The music was recorded live, you get a 2 CD set plus a DVD with some concert footage and interviews, the music is complex and challenging yet still groovy and accessible, the band has mellowed out a bit and gives the music more room to breathe, which is a welcome development. The songs are long and give each player ample room to stretch out. Simply wonderful!

Shilts - All Grown Up (2012)
Saxophonist Shilts comes up with a great slice of funky and groovy smooth jazz, the playing is just excellent and I especially like the pairing of sax and trombone on "The Test Of Time", this is an album that is really top-notch and heartily recommended. Thumbs up!

Yonrico Scott - Be In My World (2012)
This release by drummer Yonrico Scott seems to have come out of nowhere, it blew me away right from the start with its cool funkiness and strong compositions and playing. The songs are catchy and the instrumentals jazzy and interesting. Quality stuff from beginning to end!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:06 AM

June 30, 2012

What We're Listening To ** June 2012

P E T E R * B O E H I

Ron Reinhardt - From The Shadows (2011)
Keyboardist Ron Reinhardt tours with "Guitars & Saxes" and "R'n'R" among other A-list players, on this CD he steps into the spotlight and delivers a great, funky and very entertaining album, that not only features him on various keys, but also some top-notch guest artists. Very recommended!

Max Valldeneu - It's About Love (2011)
This is a great guitar player that reminds me a lot of Norman Brown, this album offers a bunch of funky instrumentals, some originals, some covers, yielding a very satisfying CD. Don't miss it!

Dreaming In Colour - The Dream Merchant (2012)
This is a top-notch smooth jazz album featuring players like Jeff Lorber, Eric Marienthal, Nelson Rangell and Tim Pascoal, so you know that the level of musicianship is excellent. Thumbs up!

Igor Gerzina - Metropolis (2012)
This saxophonist hailing from Kroatia released a beautiful smooth jazz CD, the songs are catchy, the playing is soulful and the production is on the highest level. A gem!

Casiopea - Casiopea (1979)
My nod to the past goes Japanese fusion band Casiopea, this is one of their early releases and features the Brecker Brothers and David Sanborn. Always worth to come back to!

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

Grover Washington Jr. Tribute Band, Live At Godor 2011

Scott Grimaldi, Color of Midnight (CD Baby) (2011)

Raphael Wressnig & Alex Schultz, Soul Gift (Peppercake (ZYX) (2012)

Philadelphia International Records: The 40th Anniversary Box Set, (Harmless) (2012)

Jazz For Japan, (Indie Europe/Zoom) (2012)

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Close To You’ by saxophonist Gary Honor from his current CD Heads n Tails. Not to be confused with the Carpenters song of the same time this is in fact an ultra smooth cover of the Maxi Priest hit which on the album can be found both in vocal and instrumental form.

‘Hey Girl’, the new single by sax-man Rick Parma. Since 2009, when he relocated to LA from his native Chicago, Parma has become a regular presence on the west coast live music scene. The extremely easy grooving ‘Hey Girl’ is an absolute delight and the single also includes his own vocal take of the same song.

‘I Aint Doin It’ by Pete Belasco from the album Lights On. Taking it back to soulsville and then some, this wonderful track proves to be where lounge music meets chill in the most sensational of ways.

‘Kei’s Song Redux’ by David Benoit from his latest release Conversations. Akin to being wrapped in a warm comforting blanket, the melodic magic of this breath-taking tune has all the hallmarks of being a modern day classic in the making.

‘One’, the title cut from the brand new project from those masters of harmony, Take 6. Celebrating twenty-five years in the business in the best possible way, the soulful ‘One’ is an absolute gem.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:10 PM

May 28, 2012

What We're Listening To ** May 2012

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

Jeff Lorber Fusion, Galaxy (Heads Up) (2012)

Esperanza Spalding, Radio Music Society (Heads Up) (2012)

Brian Auger, Language Of The Heart (Ghostown Records) (2012)

Incognito, Surreal (Shanachie) (2012)

Hiroshima, Departure (Hiroshima) (2012)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Philadelphia International Records - The 40th Anniversary Box Set (2012)
Massive, 10 CD box set offering 175 handpicked tracks from this seminal label's catalog, lovingly compiled, packaged and delivered, the lavish booklet offers the complete PIR discography, plenty of images and additional information. A labor of love!

Brian Bromberg - In The Spirit Of Jobim (2012)
Master bassist Brian Bromberg tackles the catalog of Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim on acoustic and electric basses, the music is very jazzy and spirited with lots of great solos and nice orchestration. Another winner from Brian!

Roman Andren - Cabra Negra (2012)
Swedish keyboard player Roman Andren released this acoustic afro-cuban album in Japan. Innovative, jazzy and musical, this is a welcome change from your usual smooth jazz fodder. The music is accessible and easy on the ear, still it challenges your mind. Excellent stuff!

Chris Standring - Electric Wonderland (2012)
Another great release by guitarist Chris Standring who once again managed to come up with a smooth jazz album that is not generic, but original and varied. The music has a lot of substance, there is top-notch musicianship and a general upbeat atmosphere. Thumbs up!

Billy Mitchell - Blue City Jam (1984)
My nod to the past goes to this LP from keyboardist Billy Mitchell which was released on the Pausa label and features a bunch of catchy originals, among them "Good Feelin'" which is a classic of the genre. Memories!

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Shelby St. Bridge’, the brand new single from guitarist and keyboard player Michael Vince. With a languid, easy grooving vibe that is entirely to die for this track is a fitting follow up to his excellent self-titled EP, which included two tracks produced by none other than Paul Brown.

‘Aint It Time’ by Incognito from the CD Surreal. Think Brass Construction then add a potently soulful vocal from Vanessa Haynes and what you have is this high-octane smoker. Haynes contributed to Incognito's 2010 release Transatlantic R.P.M and has previously worked with Van Morrison, Billy Ocean and Chaka Khan.

‘Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)’ by Bob Baldwin from his latest album Betcha By Golly Wow - The Songs Of Thom Bell. This wonderful cut features both Paul Brown and Russ Freeman on guitars while longtime Baldwin collaborator Ragan Whiteside makes her usual outstanding contribution on flute.

‘Happy Feelings’ by Jeff Bradshaw from the CD Bone Appetit. With guest appearances from the likes of Maysa, Brass Heaven and the fantastic Kindred The Family Soul, this is an album that is an absolute urban extravaganza. As if to underline the fact the first single to go to radio is this sumptuous re-imagining of the Maze blockbuster. Think the opening bars of Earth Wind & Fire’s ‘That’s The Way of The World’ then put yourself into a deliciously horn driven haze and you will just about get what ‘Happy Feelings’ is all about.

‘Lucky In Love’ by Pete Gitlin from his latest album Amplify. Phoenix based guitarist Pete Gitlin first came to my attention with the CD Full Circle and the Great Temptation and the follow up, Amplify, promises to be just as good. A case in the point is the velvety radio single, ‘Lucky In Love’ which includes input from regular collaborators Michael Broening and Mel Brown.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:33 AM

April 22, 2012

What We're Listening To ** March 2012

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘One Night In Paris’ by Dave McMurray from his excellent CD I Know About Love. This mellifluous track, embellished by the vocals of TIYI Adjovi and superb flute from McMurray, is right up there with the albums best.

‘Just To Fall In Love’ by Najee from his latest release The Smooth Side Of Soul. Here Najee’s playing on flute is wonderful and is complemented in no small measure by the outstanding vocals of Phil Perry.

‘Saxdance’ by Reinhold Schwartzwald from his recently re-released collection Sunset. Produced by the legendary Patrice Rushen, this gorgeous tune opens with a rhythm reminiscent of what Quincy Jones used to routinely do for Michael Jackson, and develops into a wonderfully commercial smooth jazz tune, that is sure to do well.

‘Venice Street Fair’ by Brian Auger from his highly acclaimed new album Language Of The Heart. Motivated by the Annual Street fair in Venice Beach, CA, where Brian now resides, this deceptively easy grooving number is added to in no small measure by a guitar solo from Jeffrey ‘Skunk’ Baxter that is right on the money.

‘91 North’, by Rahni Song, from the CD Breakin’ The Rules. Rahni Song (aka Rahni P. Harris, Jr.) really has a lot going on. Active as a producer, composer, arranger, songwriter, recording engineer and educator, his resume includes extensive work with legendary funksters Bootsy Collins and George Clinton. His new CD, Breakin’ The Rules, is fine example of the urban direction in which contemporary jazz is currently flowing and contains a number of what can accurately be described as truly outstanding tracks. Amongst these is the first tune to be selected for radio, the sumptuously turned down ‘91 North’. It finds Rahni (who is immaculate on keys) in the substantial company of sax-man Marion Meadows.

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

Kevin Kooyumjian, Monterey Groove! (Kevin Kooyumjian) (2006)

Bob James & Keiko Matsui, Altair & Vega (Ent. One Music) (2011)

Roy Ayers & Wayne Henderson, Step Into Our Life / Prime Time (Cherry Red UK) (2011)

Billy Cobham, Live in Leverkusen (Bhm/ZYX) (2011)

Haakon Graf, License To Chill (Nordic Records) (2010)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Noel Elmowy - Feelin' Good (2003)
This is a standout album that is dear to my heart, featuring Australian piano player Noel Elmowy with an all star cast, among them Gerald Albright. Fresh, upbeat, catchy instrumentals of the highest order. Outstanding!

Michael Ghegan - Michael Ghegan (2003)
This is a beautiful sax led smooth jazz album by Michael Ghegan - who toured with Keiko Matsui - that stood the test of time. Slick production, cool grooves, soulful playing and great songs. Very recommended!

Will Downing - Yesterday (2012)
This is one of the smoothest, velvetiest and most soulful slices of music you will encounter these days by master singer Will Downing, this 4 track EP is part of a trilogy. Pure soul bliss!

Mario Biondi & Duke Orchestra - I Love You More (2007)
Mario Biondi - Yes You (2010)
Those are two great live 2CDs sets by Italian singer Mario Biondi, both are with full orchestra covering jazz and soul, his great taste is reflected in his choice of covers - among them Bill Withers' "I'm Her Daddy" and Gil Scott-Heron's "Winter In America". Both albums are an uplifting celebration of music.

Roberta Flack & Peabo Bryson - Live & More (1980)
Call me a helpless nostalgic, but they don't make music like this anymore, please give me a time machine to transport me back to "Love In Every Season/I Believe In You" right in the middle of the screaming audience. A classic!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:31 PM

March 8, 2012

What We're Listening To ** February 2012

P E T E R * B O E H I

Billy Cobham Band - Live In Leverkusen (2011)
This is a live recording by the great drummer Billy Cobham with his new young band, done in Leverkusen (Germany) in November 2010 and it kicks ass! At age 67, Billy Cobham is still on top of his game and his drumming is just superb propelling the music to new heights, the band is top-notch, delivering an outstanding concert full of classic fusion and jazz-funk. One of my all-time favorite drummers!

Kevin Kooyumjian - Monterey Groove! (2012)
This is one of my favorite keyboardists on the planet, his unbridled energy is just infecting, he is mostly playing on San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf on the street, but his abilities as a musician are unquestioned. His albums are groovy, uplifting and catchy, when he starts a solo, he takes it to one level after another, just incredible. A talent deserving wider recognition!

Jeff Lorber Fusion - Galaxy (2012)
Jeff Lorber gets down to business and revisits his Jeff Lorber Fusion days with this all-star band (with players like Dave Weckl and Eric Marienthal), playing some energetic and tight songs, in parts revisiting his early catalog and giving it a new twist. Very recommended!

Nathaniel Kearney, Jr. - Back To Bassics (2011)
Nathaniel Kearny, Jr. is the current bass player of keyboardist Brian Culbertson, several band members help out with this great jazz-funk album full of bass-heavy tracks (most notably the opener "Shake"), some mellower tracks round it up nicely. For the bass lovers out there!

Tom Browne - Browne Sugar (1979)
My nod to the past goes to this classic album by trumpet player Tom Browne, done on the GRP label with the house band (Buddy Williams, Marcus Miller etc.) and produced by Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen, this record provides the right balance between groove and jazziness. A true classic!

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

Paul Whitley, Versatility (Pablo Productions) (2011)

Al Turner, Sunny Days (Al Turner) (2011)

John Tropea, Live At Mikell's, New York (Stp Records) (1981)

Najee, The Smooth Side Of Soul (Shanachie) (2012)

The Loudhorns, One For Maynard (Loud Conversation Pieces) (2009)

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Our Dance’ by smooth jazz superstar Peter White from his soon to be released CD Here We Go. With a melody that tugs unashamedly at the heartstrings this captivating cut includes an injection of sax from Kirk Whalum, which, much like the entire album, is pure gold.

‘Valentines Night’, by guitarist Patrick Yandall, from his great new album Acoustic Dreamscape. Tender, understated and beautifully performed this superb tune is the perfect backdrop for spending time with the one you love.

‘Merry Go Round’ by Chris Standring from the CD Electric Wonderland. Standring can always be relied upon to do something different and right out of left field comes this enchanting number. With a string section replicating to perfection the easy paced fun of the fair, and a splendid piano solo from Mitchel Forman, this one is a delight

‘Magnetic’, the advance radio single from Darren Rahn’s Trippin 'N' Rhythm debut recording Speechless. This easy grooving track with a seriously addictive urban swagger is sure to dominate the airwaves for some considerable time.

‘Message In A Bottle’, the first single from Ken Navarro’s excellent new collection The Test Of Time. Not due out until March 20, this set of twelve timeless tunes has already been described as “solo guitar like you never imagined it.” With no overdubs whatsoever and melodies, bass lines, harmonies and percussion all played simultaneously on just one guitar this is a very special piece of work and typical of it is Navarro’s fine rendition of this seminal hit by the Police.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:53 PM

February 6, 2012

What We're Listening To ** January 2012

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

Tony Carbone, Real Love (Quark Records) (2012)

Pierre Copeland, I'm On Fire (Piemando Records) (2011)

Lori Williams, Healing Within (Pacific Coast Jazz) (2010)

Godwin, Here's My Heart (The Urban Dance Experience) (2011)

Airborne, Back in the Dayz - Airborne Anthology (Tilt Records) (2011)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Cinque - Catch A Corner (2011)
This is an organic band with a funky backdrop created by Steve Gadd on drums, Joey DeFrancesco on organ and Peter Cardinali on bass, with Robi Botos on piano and John Johnson on saxes. The band delivers a bunch of nicely grooving songs with strong solos by all involved, the musicianship is truly superior. Thumbs up!

Najee - The Smooth Side Of Soul (2012)
Another solid release by saxophonist Najee who also plays the flute, this album delivers more of his groovy smooth jazz, supported by some great guest artists like Phil Perry on vocals and Jeff Lorber and James Lloyd on keyboards. Tried and tested stuff!

Paul Whitley - Versatility (2011)
Excellent album by guitarist Paul Whitley offering a nice mix of funky and mellow instrumentals, with a great cast of players. This is a top-notch album delivering the good stuff. Very recommended!

Earth, Wind & Fire - The Complete Columbia Masters Collection (2011)
Massive 15 CD box set covering the whole output at Columbia by this seminal r&b/funk band between 1972 and 1990. There are must-have albums like Last Days And Time, Head To The Sky, Open Our Eyes, That's The Way Of The World, Gratitude, Spirit, All 'N All, Best Of Vol. 1, I Am and later releases that unfortunately are not up to par with their earlier output, but nevertheless, this box belongs into every collection. The sound quality unfortunately could have been a bit better. Anyway, classic stuff anyone needs!

Gato Barbieri - Euphoria (1979)
This classic LP by saxophonist Gato Barbieri was produced and arranged by Jay Chattaway, boasting the best of the NY session scene like Ron Carter, Anthony Jackson, Neil Jason, Billy Cobham, Eric Gale, Steve Khan, Richard Tee - the list goes on. One of my favorites of Gato!

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘March On’ by Marcin Nowakowski from the CD Shine. This cool mid tempo cut has much to commend it but of particular note are the last 50 seconds where the groove drenched interplay between Nowakowski and Jeff Lorber (who writes and produces the tune) is out of this world.

‘Road Trip’ by Michael Lington from his soon to be released CD Pure. Featuring Lee Ritenour on guitar this is a tune that is full of the gutsy ‘in your face’ playing for which Lington is best known.

‘You Are Too Beautiful’ by Kirk Whalum from the album Romance Language. The surprise packet of the entire collection, this sensational eight minute thirty two second R & B interpretation of the Rodgers & Hart classic is really something special. Beginning with Kevin Whalum’s sparkling vocal, and transitioning to a deep soul groove that is totally out of this world, this, if listened to in the company of the one you love, may well need to be handled with care.

‘Sweet Ladies’ by Quintin Gerard W from his hot new CD Before It’s Gone. This sumptuous tune with a lusciously seductive vibe is as good an example of top notch urban jazz as will be found anywhere.

‘Get Here’ by Eric Marienthal from his brand new release It’s Love. Brenda Russell’s timeless composition proved to be a massive hit for Oleta Adams and those who have seen Adams perform it live will need no reminding of the emotion that she packs into each and every note. There can be no finer complement than to say Marienthal’s instrumental version does all this and more.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:00 PM

December 27, 2011

What We're Listening To ** December 2011

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘What A Day’ by Demetrius Nabors from the CD A Journey Within. In terms of genre defining smooth jazz, a better tune than this would be hard to find. Crammed full of all the rhythm and melody you will ever need this one looks set to put Nabors on the map.

‘Touch’ by Randy Scott from his latest album 90 Degrees At Midnight. This engagingly mellow cut is added to in no small measure by a fine contribution on piccolo bass from Terrance Palmer.

‘Written In Red’ by Hart Ramsey from his second CD My Next Heartbeat. With a terrific bass line from co-writer Sean Michael Ray, and in contradiction to the gentle nature of much of the collection, this one turns out to be a real mover and shaker.

‘Enjoy The Ride’, which is the title track from the fresh new album by guitarist Jay Stewart. This mellifluous tune really takes the honours. With Jimmy Bralower immense on congas it’s a track with genuine cross-genre appeal and the potential to do really well.

‘To Catch A Thief’ from the highly anticipated new album East Bay Soul 2.0. This year, for those true funk soldiers whose donations made the rapidly emerging East Bay Soul 2.0 project become a reality, Christmas came early. In fact it came one day early as true to his word bandleader Greg Adams circulated the pre-release download of the first single from what will surely be one of the albums of 2012 to everyone of those who pledged their support. With a languid yet easy grooving vibe this ultra cool cut is in the best traditions of Adams’ best work and benefits from some killer Hammond B3 from Joey Navarro. The title ‘To Catch A Thief’ was inspired by the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock movie of the same name.

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

Bob James & Hilary James, Christmas Eyes (Koch Records) (2008)

Bryan Lubeck, We Three Strings (Earthscape Media) (2006)

Steve Oliver, Snowfall (Koch Records) (2006)

Jeff Golub, Six String Santa (Metro Cafe) (2007)

Blake Aaron, A Romantic Christmas (Innervision Records & Entertainment LLC) (2011)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Mark Stephens - The Dream Of The Peaceful Warrior (2011)
This CD by keyboard player Mark Stephens is the best album to come along in recent times, it bristles with energy, enthusiasm and great playing by all involved. I especially enjoyed the sax playing of the late Michael Brecker, who participated on the album, like Marcus Miller, Jonathan Butler, The Andreae Crouch Singers, Chaka Khan and several others. Mind-boggling stuff!

Al Turner - Sunny Days (2011)
Bassist Al Turner is a veteran on the scene - having toured with artists like Kem and Earl Klugh - and his solo albums are always top-notch smooth jazz affairs. His latest is no exception, it boasts guests like Dave McMurray, Marlon McClain, Nelson Rangell, Bob James and others. The CD contains a bunch of groovy, catchy and funky instrumentals featuring not only the leader, but his well chosen guests as well. Another winner!

Papa John DeFrancesco - A Philadelphia Story (2011)
Organist Papa John DeFrancesco is the father of famous organist Joey DeFrancesco who also appears on this album, this CD is a great collection of funky and swinging tracks, also notable are the contributions of his other son, John DeFrancesco Jr. on guitar, nice covers like "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" make this a well rounded session. The recording quality is outstanding. A fun album!

Gábor Vermes Group - Slap The Bass (2011)
Gábor Vermes hails from Budapest, Hungary and delivers a really good album of jazz-funk with lots of bass slapping, a technique he developed to perfection, but it doesn't stop there, the music is not only funky, but also memorable and catchy, musicians and production are top-notch. Check it out!

Jeff Cascaro - The Other Man (2011)
Jeff Cascaro is an outstanding soul singer from Germany, this is his third album and again, it is full of heartfelt, soulful music featuring the singer's unique and easy recognizable voice. The music is deeply rooted in the 60ies and 70ies, with organic grooves and real instrumentation. A gem!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:30 PM

December 9, 2011

What We're Listening To ** November 2011

P E T E R * B O E H I

Roberto Vazquez - Between Two Worlds (2011)
Keyboardist Roberto Vazquez hails from Cuba and delivers one of smoothest, finest and most beautiful albums of recent times, boasting nice grooves and melodies, sparkling piano by the leader and great playing by all involved - among them Marion Meadows on sax, Julio Hernandez on bass and Sammy Figueroa on percussion - yielding outstanding results. Very recommended!

Jay Kim - Perfect Experience (2011)
Saxophonist Jay Kim hails from Korea and is a force to be reckoned with on the smooth jazz scene. His latest release is a polished, groovy affair with flawless sax playing, catchy melodies to hum along, most notable guest is Jeff Lorber on keys, helping to make this album another winner. Thumbs up!

Wayman Tisdale - The Wayman Tisdale Story (2011)
This album brings more music of the late, great bass player to us, loads of bass slapping and a heavy dose of funk, along with a few more introspective songs, will satisfy his legion of fans, guests include George Duke and Dave Koz, to top it all, you get a bonus DVD about Wayman Tisdale's life and career with many insights from the man. Wayman, we miss you!

Richard Elliot - In The Zone (2011)
Saxophonist Richard Elliot, having found his niche, delivers more of his trademark gutsy horn playing and soulful funky grooves rooted in 70ies funk, supported by a top-notch cast of players. You can't go wrong with this one!

Salena Jones & Stuff - My Love (1981)
My nod to the past goes to this album from 1981 by songstress Salena Jones who is backed by the band Stuff, which provide a warm organic backdrop to Salena's singing, it is always worth to come back to and a must-hear especially for the fans of Stuff. Timeless!

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

Taijiquan, Taijiquan (Backroom Productions) (2011)

Daniel Davis, Play For Me (DD Pro Records) (2011)

John Carey, New Beginnings (Gico Music) (2011)

Muracle, Music Is Miracle (V Company)  (2011)

Ramsey Lewis, Taking Another Look (Hidden Beach Records (US)) (2011)

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Day N Night’ by Maysa from the CD Motions Of Love; The high octane, retro tinged ‘Day N Night’ has the ability to fill the largest of dance floors and is Maysa’s own tribute to disco divas such as Linda Clifford and Thelma Houston.

‘Galaxy’ from the album of the same name by Jeff Lorber Fusion; There is magic in every second of this fine collection and this is particularly so with the intense title cut that is a perfect example of the tight, high octane performances that can be found throughout.

‘Through The Holiday’ by Chris Standring and Kathrin Shorr from the album Send Me Some Snow. Well, it is almost Christmas and one track that could well evolve into a recurring festive gem is this stunningly beautiful tune which glistens with the kind of bitter sweet sentimentality that never grows old.

‘Philly’ the best track from the brand new self-titled collection by guitarist Lloyd Gregory; This languidly appealing number is one of four songs on the album to be written by Gregory and Felton Pilate. It evokes Fourplay at its delicious best.

‘Closed For The Holidays’, the title cut from an interesting 6 track collection from bass player and songwriter Wayne Jones. Brim full of highly accessible and deeply enriching contemporary jazz, this interesting project features some fine guest performances including those from sax-man Mike MacArthur and smooth jazz super-star Rick Braun.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 12:05 PM

November 14, 2011

What We're Listening To ** October 2011

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

Bob Baldwin, 2 /Re-Vibe (Trippin & Rhythm) (2011)

Kiku Collins, Red Light (Canopy Jazz) (2011)

Drew Davidsen, Spin Cycle (Creative Soul Jazz) (2011)

Quintin Gerard W., Before It's Gone (CD  (2011)

Reza Kahn, Simple Plan (CD (2011)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Muracle - Music Is Miracle (2009)
This urban jazz band was launched in Asia by saxophonist Jay Kim and keyboardist Minwoo Park in 2009, the upbeat, happy and extremely catchy songs deliver big time, the excellent playing is heartfelt and exciting, it has an old school feeling reminding me of a time when this kind of music was new and fresh. The best smooth jazz release to come along in a long time!

Kim Scott - Crossing Over (2011)
Flautist Kim Scott delivers a great flute led, funky and contemporary smooth jazz album. Hailing from Alabama, she brings some fresh music to the scene with this excellent CD. Nice covers of "Rain" and "Sweet Thing". Flute rules!

Hart Ramsey - My Next Heartbeat (2011)
This is the second release by keyboardist Hart Ramsey and it is another winner, featuring guests like Eric Essix on guitar and Kelley O'Neal on sax. Most of the tracks are laid back instrumentals with just the right amount of funkiness to keep our heads bopping, a smooth urban atmosphere permeates the album. Thumbs up!

Kim Waters - This Heart Of Mine (2011)
This is the latest release by veteran saxophonist Kim Waters, it delivers more of his trademark smooth saxophone sounds wrapped into a polished contemporary accompaniment. Catchy melodies, cool grooves and sexy sounds result in an irresistible package, giving the fans what they want. Solid stuff!

Session II - Session II (1979)
My nod to the past goes to this classic album featuring Lee Ritenour, Don Grusin, Ernie Watts, Alex Acuna and others. Great playing by all involved, this was a time when the players dared to stretch out a bit, without losing track of the melody or the groove. A timeless classic!

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Love Song’ by Ramsey Lewis from the hot new album Taking Another Look. This spellbinding cut provides a timely reminder of the huge musical legacy that this legendary player has given to contemporary jazz.

‘The Groove’s Alright’ by Kim Waters from his excellent new release This Heart Of Mine. The title just about tells you all you need to know about this blisteringly up tempo tune which serves as a fine showcase for Waters immaculate playing.

‘Island Style’ by sax-man Richard Elliot from his brand new CD In The Zone. With a velvety vibe that owes as much to David Mann’s excellent horns and horn arrangements this is a track that finds Elliot at his fulsome best.

‘Two Roads’ by Hart Ramsey from the album My Next Heartbeat. This is the follow up to Ramsey’s stunning 2010 debut recording Charge It to My Heart which I described at the time as being one of the hottest releases of the year. The compelling ‘Two Roads’ is the first single from the new CD and features Sean Michael Ray on bass, Kelley O'Neal on saxophone, and Ramsey with both keys and drum programming.

‘In Your Sun’ by Khari Cabral from his latest release ‘Clementine Sun’. Entirely captivating, and with featured vocals from India.Arie, an enticing bossa rhythm blended with luscious horns should ensure this sumptuous song does very well.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:37 PM

October 16, 2011

What We're Listening To ** September 2011

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘The Ebor Sound Machine’ by Acoustic Alchemy from the excellent CD Roseland. With an understated reggae beat, this is a track that not only shows all the signs of becoming seriously addictive but which also draws its name from the city of York in the United Kingdom (where the CD was recorded) and which in the time of the Roman occupation (circa AD43) was known as Eboracum.

‘Too Hot’ by Tom Scott from the album Telling Stories. Scott’s smoky horn captures the true mood of this Kool & The Gang blockbuster to perfection and, when one factors in a sublime vocal duet between Paulette McWilliams and Will Downing, this may well prove to be a highlight of the musical year.

‘Out On The Town’ by Aaron Bing from his forthcoming release Rebirth. Sax-man Aaron Bing’s latest single ‘Out On The Town’ is all set to debut mid October on iTunes. I have already described it as one of the best smooth jazz cuts you will hear this year and a ‘must have track’ for any discerning music fan’s collection.

The enticingly languid ‘The Lady In My Life’ by the great George Benson from his latest project Guitar Man. This, the first single to be released to radio, provides a stunning showcase for Benson’s sublime guitar playing and confirms how his style, although copied by many, has been matched by but a few.

‘South Street’ by Brian Lenair from the album Eye Of The Storm. This extremely pleasing tune has a terrific vibe, a catchy hook and tremendous playing from Lenair. I am tipping it to do really well.

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

Rob Tardik, Balance Energy Laughter Love ( (2011)

Cindy Bradley, Unscripted (Trippin & Rhythm) (2011)

Tim Cunningham, Reflection (TAWC Records) (2011)

Michael Franks, Time Together (SHC19)  (2011)

Gail Jhonson, Her Story (111 East Jazz Records) (2011)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Ramsey Lewis - Taking Another Look (2011)
Ramsey Lewis revisits his jazz-funk days of the 70ies & 80ies which was one of the most fruitful periods in his long career. He lost me a bit a the end of the 90ies which his more acoustic outings, but this new release brings him back with a vengeance. Supported by a top-notch electric band - among the players is guitarist Henry Johnson - he "takes another look" at several of his classic tracks, creating a loose funky vibe featuring his sparkling piano and fender sounds, perfectly recapturing the spirit of the 70ies. Ramsey still has got it!

Taijiquan - Taijiquan (2011)
This band from Houston, TX delivers an outstanding and funky instrumental album of jazz-funk, acid-jazz, smooth jazz and some straighter tracks thrown in for good measure. The beat is groovy, the songs are catchy, and the playing is excellent. Thumbs up!

Misz - Lovin' What I Do (Musical Perspectives) (2011)
Misz aka The Groove Producer has the heart in the right spot. Usually, I am reluctant to embrace mostly self-produced and played projects, but this one works extremely well with its organic "phat" grooves and fluid playing, guest artists include Michael Powers on guitar among others on sax and keys, the opening track "Daddy Keys" which is dedicated to Bob James won my heart right away, and the rest of the CD doesn't disappoint either. Groove on!

Brian Lenair - Eye Of The Storm (2010)
Saxophonist Brian Lenair delivers a polished and stylish smooth jazz album that delivers just the right combination of moods and grooves, guests include Alyson Williams and Jonathan Davis. This album goes down like fine wine!

John Tropea - Tropea (1975)
My nod to the past goes to this LP by guitarist John Tropea that delivers the best from the NY jazz-funk scene of the 70ies, one of the most creative times in music history. Always worth coming back to!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 11:39 AM

September 10, 2011

What We're Listening To ** August 2011

P E T E R * B O E H I

Cindy Bradley - Unscripted (2011)
This is an absolute standout album by trumpet player Cindy Bradley, her tone is warm and soulful, while on the muted trumpet she delivers some sharp lines. The production is top notch, the players are excellent, and the material covers a lot of ground, from the catchy house track "Massive Transit" to her contemporary rendition of "Footprints" to my favorites, the introspective "You Don't Know What Love Is" and the slow burning "Inevitable". Gorgeous stuff!

Neamen - So Free (201)
Newcomer Neamen Lyles on sax delivers a great upbeat smooth jazz album full of catchy melodies, beautiful playing and excellent production. This is another standout album and I expect to hear a lot more from this gifted player in the future. Pure smooth jazz bliss!

Jessy J - Hot Sauce (2011)
Lovely sax player Jessy J comes up with another release which was produced by mentor Paul Brown, as expected it is a smooth, sexy, sultry and laid-back affair with the typical latin vibe, her playing reminds me of John Klemmer and Gato Barbieri at times, she is supported by some heavy weights like Joe Sample and Harvey Mason. Style and quality!

Brian Hughes - Fast Train To A Quiet Place (2011)
Guitarist Brian Hughes is often compared to Pat Metheny, but his music is definitely his own. This latest release is a very satisfying album with excellent guitar solos, beautiful melodies and top notch musicianship. The vibe is airy and the styles covered go from funky to latin to straight. Truly excellent!

Noriki - Dream Cruise (1984)
My nod to the past goes to Japanese keyboardist Soichi Noriki who did this classic album back in 1984 with an all Japanese cast, the music sounds like Stuff and Tom Scott, being in line with the Japanese tradition of perfect emulation of their US idols. Still a valid album I always love to return to.

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

Pat Metheny, What's It All About (Nonesuch) (2011)

Andy Snitzer, Traveler (Native Language) (2011)

Joep Van Leeuwen, It Could Happen To You (iM Jazz EU) (2011)

Duane Parham, Motor City Sax Appeal (SaxVille Avenue Records) (2011)

Marcus Anderson, Now (Anderson Music, LLC) (2011)

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘I Think About Amy’, the new maxi-single from sax-man Michael J Thomas. With both vocal and instrumental versions, this is a tune that blends the best elements of contemporary jazz and R&B with more pop orientated flavorings. Not only that, given Michael writes, plays alto and (on the vocal version) sings throughout, this memorable recording is a wonderful showcase for his undoubted versatility.

The shuffling, understated ‘Marseille’ by Andy Snitzer, from his latest album Traveler. This is the best from what is a really wonderful collection and with a guitar solo from the currently ubiquitous Chuck Loeb, delivers sophisticated contemporary jazz of the very highest order.

‘Midnight And You’ by Nick Colionne from his blockbuster new release Feel The Heat. Sultry in a quiet storm kind of a way and with Colionne his usual immaculate self on both guitar and vocals, this is a song that is sure to make it into the list of top tracks for 2011.

‘Rainbow Gold’ by Jessy J from her current CD Hot Sauce. Written by Jessy and the legendary Joe Sample, this choice cut finds her on both on sax and vocals. Not only that, the piano induced intensity that Sample routinely generates is out of this world.

‘It’s Tough In Here’ by keyboard player Mike Di Lorenzo from his latest album Bring It Back. This joyously rhythmic cut sublimely defines the music of Di Lorenzo and in so doing serves as a metaphor for the entire collection.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 11:50 AM

July 27, 2011

What We're Listening To ** July 2011

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

Mike D'Lorenzo, Bring It Back (Keep The Groove) (2011)

Cindy Bradley, Unscripted (Trippin & Rhythm) (2011)

Paul Hardcastle, Hardcastle VI (Trippin & Rhythm) (2011)

Joseph Vincelli, The Invitation (Integra Records) (2011)

Jay Rowe, Live At Daniel Street (Jay Rowe Music) (2011)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Brian Hughes - Fast Train To A Quiet Place (2011)
Guitarist Brian Hughes delivers another outstanding album full of great melodies, uplifting grooves and - most of all - excellent guitar playing, supported by a top-notch band. Mighty fine stuff!

Duane Parham - Motor City Sax Appeal (2011)
Saxophonist Duane Parham's tribute to the Motown legends caught me by surprise. This musician has great sound and sensibilities on the saxophone, the selection of the material is fine, and the arrangements just work. This one caresses my soul!

Russ Hewitt - Alma Vieja (2011)
This is a great flamenco guitarist in the vein of Jesse Cook, his latest release boasts excellent acoustic guitar playing and catchy latin melodies with a modern twist. Guests include Michael Lington on sax and Charlie Bisharat on violin. Thumbs up!

Gail Jhonson - Her Story (2001)
Keyboardist Gail Jhonson is the musical director of guitarist Norman Brown, her latest release is tagged "smooth jazz with a feminine touch". The lady delivers some great smooth jazz and adds another nice slice of music to her catalog. Check it out!

Gato Barbieri - Euphoria (1979)
My nod to the past goes to Argentinian saxophonist Gato Barbieri, this classic record belongs to my all-time favorites with the impeccable production by Jay Chattaway and the support of the best NY studio cats. Always worth to come back to!

D E N I S * P O O L E

The whimsical but totally beautiful ‘Mice’ by Michael Franks from the CD Time Together; Brought alive by the vibraphone of Mike Mainieri and sumptuous guitar from David Spinozza, this melodious tour de force will get in your head and not go away.

‘Together We Stand’ by Down To The Bone from the bands latest release The Main Ingredients. With the horn section of Tim Smart on trombone, trumpeter Ryan Jacob and sax-man Tom Richards making velvety magic, the whole tune sizzles in a way that perhaps only the music of DTTB can.

‘Easy Come Easy Go’ by Paul Hardcastle from the recording Hardcastle 6. Despite the fact that ‘Rainforest/What's Going On’ was the first single to be serviced to radio, in terms of popularity, this ultra accessible track might yet prove to be the most enduring.

‘Morning’, by Bob Baldwin, from the album Re-Vibe; Despite the fact that Baldwin is the undisputed master of urban jazz, this deliciously contemplative cut is a timely reminder that when it comes to melodic smooth jazz Bob is up there with the best of them.

‘Lifted’ by Cindy Bradley from her latest release Unscripted; With Thano Sahnas outstanding on guitar the entire piece serves as a perfect showcase for the sheer splendor of Bradley’s playing.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:30 PM

July 13, 2011

What We're Listening To ** June 2011

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

Marcus Anderson, Now, (Independent)

Cindy Bradley, Unscripted, (Trippin N Rhythm)

Three Deep, Common Ground, (Joe Street Records)

Lorenzo Johnson, Things Are Looking Up (Zosmooth Records)

Paul Taylor, Prime Time, (Entertainment One)

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

Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke & Lenny White, Forever (Video Arts Japan/Zoom) (2010)

Nick Gomez, Third Date (2011)

Lorenzo Johnson, Things Are Looking Up (Zosmooth Records) (2011)

Neamen Lyles, So Free (N1 Studios) (2011)

Marcus Miller, TuTu Revisited (Jvc Japan) (2009)

P E T E R * B O E H I

David Hughes - Hopeful Romantic (2011)
Bassist David Hughes, who usually plays with David Benoit, released his latest album and it is a winner, boasting intelligent compositions and excellent playing by all involved, this is music to sink your teeth in and be entertained at the same time. Great stuff!

Westbound - Gone For A Walk (2011)
Westbound are an Italian duo of guitarist Cristian Rocco and drummer/percussionist Enrico Catena providing some of the finest smooth jazz of recent times, the music on this sophomore release flows along nicely with catchy hooks and outstanding playing, guests include Rick Braun on trumpet. Thumbs up!

Don Immel - Together Alone (2011)
This is the second release by trombone player Don Immel delivering some funky and groovy smooth jazz, featuring top-notch players like David Mann on sax, Jason Miles on piano (who also produced) and others, this is a very satisfying release without a weak track. Don't miss it!

Marcus Miller - Tutu Revisited (2011)
This is a 2CD/DVD set with live recordings from performances done in France revisiting Miles Davis' "Tutu" sessions, which were mostly composed and produced by Marcus Miller. The band is stellar, featuring Alex Han on sax and Christian Scott on trumpet, the extended tracks are full of energy and surprise, they groove like hell and take you on a thriller ride. This is a truly remarkable album!

Selina Jones - My Love (1981)
My nod to the past goes to songstress Selina Jones who teams up with the band Stuff (featuring Eric Gale and Cornell Dupree on guitar, Richard Tee on piano, Steve Gadd on drums, Gordon Edwards on bass), creating a warm atmosphere of style and class. Classic stuff!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:45 PM

June 19, 2011

What We're Listening To ** May 2011

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Just Let Go’ by Patrick Bradley from the CD Under The Sun. Boosted by the star quality of Dave Koz on sax and with sultry vocals from Irene B, this is a song that shows off the more chilled out side of Bradley’s musical persona.

‘Stargazing’ by Bryant Thompson from his brand new album Puzzle Pieces; Smoothly guided by Ron James on alto sax; this melodic gem checks most every smooth jazz box imaginable.

‘Urban Funk’ by Yancyy from his ultra hot CD Sax Chronicles Volume 1. This streetwise cut may well have had the expression ‘urban jazz doesn’t get better than this’ written specifically for it.

‘Rainforest/What's Going On’ by Paul Hardcastle from the much awaited Hardcastle 6. Undoubtedly the best track of 2011 so far, this wonderful blending of his own 1984 blockbuster with what is arguably the late Marvin Gaye’s greatest song proves to be a triumph of Paul Hardcastle’s production genius. Not only that, with snippets and flavours from Hardcastle’s biggest hit, ‘19’, sax from Rock Hendricks and vocals provided by Maxine Hardcastle, this one is out of this world.

‘Music Is The Key’ by Down To The Bone from the band’s debut on Trippin N Rhythm, The Main Ingredients. This is a track that puts DTTB right back to their ‘Manhattan To Staten’ best. In fact this edgy cut says everything about what this legendary collective is all about.

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

Cindy Bradley, Unscripted, (Trippin N Rhyythm Records)

Boney James, Contact, (Verve)

Cole Jacobs, Atomic Escalator, (Independent)

Paul Taylor, Prime Time, (Entertainment One)

Patrick Bradley, Under the Sun, (Independent)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Spring Island - Get Movin'! (2010)
Excellent band from Budapest, Hungary playing picture perfect smooth jazz, special guest is vibes player Dave Samuels. Strong material, top-drawer musicianship and the right spirit make this a superior release. Don't miss it!

Kiku Collins - Red Light (2011)
Female trumpet player Kiku Collins comes up with a great new laid-back release full of top-notch horn playing, complete band and great material ranging from funky to latin to smooth. Her tone is full and well controlled, this lady can play! Very recommended.

Player A - Our Own Devices (2011)
This group consists of some of Nashville's top studio players who have set out to deliver a polished, radio friendly smooth jazz release. The playing and production are top-notch, the songs are catchy and well delivered, I only wished they would stretch out a bit more. But nevertheless, very enjoyable!

Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke & Lenny White - Forever (2011)
Original Return To Forever members join together for some awesome playing, mostly straight ahead acoustic jazz which was recorded during the RTF Unplugged tour, but on the second CD, there are also some groovier fusion tunes to be found. Guests include Jean-Luc Ponty on violin, Chaka Khan on vocals and Bill Connors on guitar. World-class stuff!

The Brecker Brothers - Straphangin' (1981)
My nod to the past goes to the Brecker Brothers - Michael on sax and Randy on trumpet - who deliver some great funky fusion jazz of the highest order, players are the best of the NY scene and this album remains a classic of the genre. This album is part of the "Original Album Classics" series, you get a box set containing their first 5 CDs for a bargain price, so it's time to revisit their music!

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

Bob James & Jack Lee, Botero (Video Arts Japan/Zoom (2010)

New Foundation, Goin' Places (Comerboy Jazz / Boom Camp Records) (2011)

Euge Groove, Seven Large (Shanachie) (2011)

Eumir Deodato, Crossing (Smc Recordings) (2011)

Dr. Lonnie Smith, Rise Up! (Palmetto Records) (2009)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:58 PM

May 14, 2011

What We're Listening To ** April 2011

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

Craig Pilo, Unsupervised (Rue De La Harpe) (2011)

Cole Jacobs, Atomic Escalator (Cole Jacobs) (2010)

Player A, On the Side ( Creative Soul Jazz) (2011)

Boney James, Contact (Verve Forecast) (2011)

Lin Rountree, Soul-Tree, The Soul-Jazz Experience (Lin Rountree) (2011)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Andy Snitzer - Traveler (2011)
Cool, laid-back and lounge-y smooth jazz album by saxophonist Andy Snitzer, supported by a list of top-notch players. With its restrained mood and no particular track standing out, it works best when listened to in its entirety. Special!

Eumir Deodato - The Crossing (2010)
This is a fine contemporary jazz album boasting the classic keyboard work of Deodato along with many great players, most notably Al Jarreau, Billy Cobham, John Tropea, done in Italy with the team around Novecento. A breath of fresh air!

Euge Groove - S7ven Large (2011)
This is a very nice album by saxophonist Euge Groove with more picture perfect smooth jazz tracks and a nice variety of songs. Production and supporting cast are top drawer, so you know what to expect.

Konstantin Klashtorni - Kool & Klean, Vol. 2 (2011)
Saxophonist Konstantin Klashtorni is an incredible Paul Hardcastle clone, blindfolded, you would swear to hear the Jazzmasters. So if you cannot get enough of those perfectly programmed rhythms with the synth washes, saxophone touches and nice melodies, here is another serving!

Dave Valentin - Pied Piper (1981)
My nod to the past goes to this classic album by latin flautist Dave Valentin, which was recorded during his heydays at GRP. The album opener is a catchy radio friendly song, the rest no-nonsense latin jazz by a killer band. Outstanding!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:22 PM

April 10, 2011

What We're Listening To ** March 2011

P E T E R * B O E H I

Matt Marshak - Urban Folktales (2011)
Guitarist Matt Marshak delivers some great funky smooth jazz with his trademark guitar playing and some really catchy compositions on his latest release. Indie smooth jazz doesn't get much better than this. A force to be reckoned with!

Alex Bugnon - Going Home (2010)
Glad to see keyboardist Alex Bugnon resurface with a new release featuring some great cats (like Poogie Bell, Victor Bailey, Vincent Henry, Keith Robinson and others) on this album that features some more of his classic work on the keys. Doing what he does best!

Udi Levy - Ahava (2011)
Guitarist Udi Levy is currently located in NYC, his debut release is a mighty fine piece of smooth jazz with some Wes-inclined guitar playing. Laid back and still groovy, this one will have your head bop. Thumbs up!

Player A - On The Side (2011)
This group consists of some of Nashville's best session players, they set out to deliver a top-notch smooth jazz album full of catchy compositions and nice grooves. Delivered ready for radio (at least for those still operating)!

Sonny Fortune - Serengeti Minstrel (1977), Infinity Is (1978) and With Sound Reason (1979)
My nod to the past goes to saxophonist Sonny Fortune. Thanks to the Wounded Bird Label, the back catalog of this saxophonist from the 70ies has been released for the first time on CD and provides some great listening enjoyment, if you dare to immerse yourself into some more demanding stuff. But don't worry, the groove is right!

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

Dave Grusin, An Evening With Dave Grusin (Concord)
While this is a release that may appeal more to the appetites of traditionalists, contemporary jazz fans will find something to enjoy about it, as well. The accomplished pianist/composer/producer is in concert with the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra and features such quality guests as Patti Austin, Jon Secada, Arturo Sandoval, Nestor Torres, and others.

Leila, Soul Ascension (Power of One Music)
A young Spaniard born in Argentina, Leila continues to demonstrate her grasp and command of American contemporary music. Her latest release is bound to enjoy success with her impressive vocals and mix of R&B, smooth jazz, Latin, world, and other genres. Saxman Eric Darius joins her on one track, “Sexy Saxophone.” A true double-CD treat.

Drew Davidsen, Spin Cycle (Creative Soul Jazz)
Guitarist Davidsen continues his tradition of providing smooth, melody-rich compositions.

Groove Skool Band, Limited Edition (independent)
Cool and smooth, with a distinctive funky edge where it’s called for, this Washington, DC-based band lives up to its self-description of providing the “smooth sound of hybrid jazz,” that mix of R&B, Latin, and contemporary jazz that has become so universally accepted now.

Tony Adamo, What is Hip (independent)
Joined on a few tracks with members of Tower of Power, Adamo continues his bluesy/jazzy style with tight originals and great interpretations on covers. The rhythm is snappy, bright, and full of character that Adamo always brings to every studio visit.

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

David Wells, Midnight Cruise (Independent) (2010)

Onaje Allan Gumbs, Just Like Yesterday (Pony Canyon) (2010)

Mike Ledonne, The Groover (Savant) (2010)

Jeffery Smith, Pleasure of Love (CDBY Records) (2008)

Ted Shumate, Mediterranean Midnight (Tribal Records) (2011)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:01 PM

March 10, 2011

What We're Listening To ** February 2011

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

Steve Cole, Moonlight (Artistry Music) (2011)

Dave Koz, Hello Tomorrow (Concord Jazz) (2010)

Ed Spargo, Too Much TV (Spice Rack Records) (2011)

Karen Briggs, Soulchestral Groove (CDBY Records) (2009)

Spyro Gyra, Spyro Gyra (AMHERST RECORDS) (1998)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Jimmy Haslip & Joe Vannelli - Night Fall (2010)
Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip teams up with keyboardist Joe Vannelli on this great fusion album, technically on the highest level with great musicianship and interesting compositions, one highlight is the vocal track "Deep Waters" featuring the outstanding vocal ensemble Perri. Top-notch music!

Nate Harasim - Rush (2011)
This is a beautiful, perfectly crafted smooth jazz album by keyboardist Nate Harasim featuring a bunch of great guest players, among them Darren Rahn and Steve Oliver, full of catchy melodies and groovy playing. Thumbs up!

Planet Zu - In The Light Of Day (2010)
This band is fronted by guitarist Dan Baraszu, funky grooves, fat hammond organ and catchy tracks keep your head bopping. Nice version of Santana's "Black Magic Woman". Good stuff!

Ed Spargo - Too Much TV (2011)
This excellent release by bassist Ed Spargo caught me by surprise, this one oozes quality from beginning to end and is one of the best releases of recent times. Cool grooves, keys, horns, always soulful. Very recommended!

Les Hooper Big Band - Look What They've Done (1974)
Les Hooper's big band project always have been funky, this early LP from 1974 delivers tight horn charts, burning solos and good compositions performed by a truly excellent big band. Definitely stood the test of time!

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Picking Up The Pieces’ by Gianna from her album Something True. With a tasty ‘telephone’ intro this is a track which fits firmly into the category of ‘late lounge’ music. Not only that, it perfectly demonstrates why she is currently enjoying the kind of cult status unique to the British smooth soul and R & B market.

The title cut from Boney James’ soon to be released CD Contact. A new album release from sax-man Boney James is always a special event. The velvety horn driven radio single is replete with Boney’s hallmark playing and is sure to do well.

‘Awakening’, from Keiko Matsui’s brand new recording The Road. Much of the early buzz surrounding The Road has been all about the two tracks featuring Kirk Whalum. Both have already found a way to radio and although the lovely ‘Affirmation’ is a convergence of Matsui’s melodic magic and Whalum’s cool sax, it is ‘Awakening’ that stands apart as the collection’s outstanding track. As fine an example of her work as will be found anywhere this sparkling song is nothing short of incredible.

‘Heaven In Your Eyes’ by Elan Trotman from his forthcoming CD Love And Sax. Trotman calls upon bass player Alex Al, drummer Tony Moore and keyboard player Davy Nathan for this easy grooving number which also features a fine piano solo from the excellent Brian Simpson.

‘Island Of Love’, from Damien DelRusso’s debut album, Looking Through Rain. DelRusso is a piano tuner, musician and composer who also happens to be almost blind. 2010 saw him release Looking Through Rain which contains eleven all original compositions and from which a $1.00 of each sale will be donated to The Foundation For Fighting Blindness

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:12 PM

February 6, 2011

What We're Listening To ** January 2011

D E N I S * P O O L E

The immensely soulful ‘Ready Or Not’ by Paul Hardcastle from his soon to be released CD Desire. Written back in the early nineties but never previously released this stunning number has co-writer Steven Dante on vocals and is very special indeed.

‘Vintage Vibe’ by the multi-talented Vincent Ingala from his debut recording North End Soul. The album derives its title from the North End of Waterbury, CT where many of Vincent’s family members grew up listening to the funk, R & B and soul of the day. With ‘Vintage Vibe’ he embraces these old school sensibilities in a way that belies his (seventeen) years and in addition produces cool playing on sax that is reminiscent of Euge Groove at his very best.

‘Why Don’t You’ by Nate Harasim from the CD Rush. With a supporting line-up of Cindy Bradley, Mel Brown, Jason Rahn and Darren Rahn this big, horn driven gem could easily be dubbed as being from the Trippin N Rhythm all-stars.

‘Cote D’Azur’ which is the title tune from The Rippingtons excellent new release. Welcomed in on an almost European style dance beat this rhythmic and inviting cut quickly assumes a typically intense Rippingtons stride.

‘Gulf Breeze’ by soulful trumpet and flugelhorn player Michael C. Lewis from his CD Reflection. Evocative of sun soaked beaches and with a wonderful mid tempo swagger, this one is a real gem.

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

Keiko Matsui, The Road (Shanachie) (2011)

Blue Moon, Blue Moon (BlueMoon Tunz Music) (2008)

Trondheym, Trondheym (NRW Records) (2008)

Will Downing, Classique (Concord Records) (2009)

2nd Planet, Next Level (2nd Planet) (2010)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Alexander Boynton Jr. - Doo Bee Doo Bop (2010)
This album is a sensational slice of smooth jazz, where did this bass player hide until now? Every song is a winner, and guest players like Jeff Lorber, Paul Jackson Jr., Tony Maiden, Rick Braun, Phil Perry, Jeff Golub, Michael Thompson, Tony Moore and Lenny Castro indicate top-notch musicianship. One of the best releases of recent times!

Terje Lie - Urban Vacation (2010)
This CD by Terje Lie which was released last year is one of my favorites boasting great grooves, melodies and playing by all involved, most notably Jeff Lorber on keys. The inclusion of the Roy Ayers' classic "Red, Black & Green" is an additional bonus. A future classic!

Jonathan Fritzen - Diamonds (2010)
This album by keyboardist Jonathan Fritzen is a beauty, perfectly played and produced, it is an endless joy, with great guest appearances by Darren Rahn, Jessy J and others. Not to be overlooked!

Funk This! - Size Does Matter (2005)
This album is a great re-discovery. This band delivers and outstanding set of funky and smooth instrumentals & vocals of the highest quality. Check it out, you will be delighted!

Mark Hasselbach - Solar Winds (1982)
My nod to the past goes to (Gabriel) Mark Hasselbach - who these days records under his first name Gabriel - released this classic LP in 1982, especially "Afro Desia" remains a favorite of mine. Well worth a listen again!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:46 PM

January 8, 2011

What We're Listening To ** December 2011

P E T E R * B O E H I

Brad Rambur - Can't Put It Down (2010)
Saxophonist Brad Rambur comes up with a great smooth jazz album with memorable melodies, excellent musicianship and several a-list players (like Eric Marienthal and Jeff Lorber). Thumbs up!

Barbara Jones & Henrik Bridger - This Side Up (2010)
The duo Jones on piano and Bridger on bass are supported by a bunch of great players (among them Eric Marienthal on sax) delivering a polished and catchy smooth jazz album. Very recommended.

Keiko Matsui - The Road… (2011)
This is the latest release (out Jan 25) by Japanese keyboardist Keiko Matsui where she delivers more of her typical brand of new age, world and smooth jazz, supported by an able band (among the players are Richard Bona, Kirk Whalum and Vinnie Colaiuta). Just magical!

Omar Hakim - Reflections (2010)
This is a retrospective collection of drummer Omar Hakim's catalog plus some new unreleased tracks, boasting a wide variety of music, outstanding players and most of all impeccable drumming. Top-notch stuff!

Harris Simon Group - New York Connection (1980)
My nod to the past goes to this classic album by keyboardist Harris Simon who has Joe Farrell on flute, Michael Brecker on sax and Claudio Roditi on trumpet in his band, which yield some exciting results. My favorite track is the uptempo "North Station". Check it out!

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Been Here Before’ by Wayman Tisdale from his posthumously released The Fonk Record. With a splash of Memphis-like horns and vocals from the late Ali Woodson (who sang with the Temptations from 1984 – 1986 and again from 1988 -1996) this sultry funk drenched tour de force should play and play.

‘Put Your Money On Me’ by Ronald Isley from his solo recording Mr. I. Totally current yet paradoxically dripping with Isley nostalgia, this wonderful song features a cool rap from T.I and is a perfect example of how timeless the best of soul music can be.

‘It Wouldn’t Feel Like Christmas’, a new digital Christmas single from Chicago based vocalist Lisa McClowry. This great seasonal offering tops off a wonderful year for Lisa who came up big with her solo debut Time Signatures that included some delightful collaborations with the Grammy-award winning Jim Peterik.

‘Love Ballad’ by Terence Young from his latest release Love Stories. Guitarist Terence Young takes a walk on the romantic side with a superb interpretation of a song that has found fame with both George Benson and L.T.D.

‘Lovely Day’ by Walter Beasley from his outstanding new CD Backatcha. Beasley rarely disappoints and here, both on sax and vocals, he really comes up trumps.

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

Keiko Matsui - The Road... (Shanachie Records) -- Release date: Jan. 2011

Craig Sharmat - Outside In (InnerVision Records) -- Release date: Feb. 2011

Marcus Miller - A Night In Monte Carlo (Concord) -- Release date: Feb. 2011

Mr. Marcus Young - Moments In Time (Infinite Records)

The Rippingtons - Cote d' Azur (Concord) -- Release date: Feb. 2011

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

The Alvin Mills Project - Keep Your Head To The Sky

Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration (Word Entertaiment) (1992)

Michael Fair, Funk in the Trunk (Michael Fair Music) (2010)

Monophonics - Into The Infrasounds (Ageless Records) (2010)

Joey Defrancesco - Never Can Say Goodbye: The Music of Michael Jackson (HighNote Records) (2010)
(Chasim Music) (2010)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 12:43 PM

December 12, 2010

What We're Listening To ** November 2010

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

Walter Beasley, Backatcha (Shanachie) (2010)

Shilts, Going Underground (Blanket Records) (2010)

Fourplay, Let's Touch the Sky (Heads Up) (2010)

Wayman Tisdale, Fonk Record: Featuring Tiz & Fonkie Planetarians (Rendezvous Records) (2010)

Tony Williams, The New Tony Williams Lifetime Believe It (Columbia Europe) (2004)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Craig Sharmat - Outside In (2010)
This guitar player pushes all the right buttons on this picture perfect smooth jazz album full of great musicianship by several a-list players and catchy tunes. You will love it!

Greg Manning - The Calling (2010)
This CD is another outstanding piece of smooth jazz with great tracks, groovy rhythms and top-notch players guesting (like Mindy Abair and Kirk Whalum). Thumbs up!

Phillip Brooks - Ocean View (2010)
This keyboarder has been a recent discovery, he delivers an excellent slice of smooth jazz with just the right mix of grooves and moods, done in an impeccable manner. Great stuff!

Patrick Yandall - The Window (2010)
Guitar player Patrick Yandall comes up with a great new release boasting top-notch material from beginning to end that should please every smooth jazz lover. Don't miss it!

Caldwell Plus - As We Bop (1988)
My nod to the past goes to this CD by the Caldwell brothers, despite relying on programmed beats, the playing on keys and reeds (especially EWI) and the strong compositions make this an album one I still love to go back to today. Stood the test of time!

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Centerpiece’ by Hart Ramsey from his debut CD Charge It To My Heart. This upbeat sensation includes great sax from co-writer Kelly O’Neal, Ramsey on keys at his impressive best and a fabulous guitar solo from Eric Essix who over the years has enjoyed solo smooth jazz hits with tunes such as ‘For Real’ and ‘Rainy Night In

‘Pastels’ by Gabriel from his latest release Told Ya So. Trumpet, flute, and flugelhorn player Gabriel Mark Hasselbach (aka Gabriel) delivers a deconstructed but totally hypnotic gem that finds him sharing the honors with Miles Black on keys, bass and guitar. Chilled out contemporary jazz doesn’t come better than this.

‘That Man’ by Paula Prophet that is taken from her debut collection From Me To You. Written by Paula, the track originally featured on Bradley Leighton’s 2006 project ‘Soul Collective’ where it showcased Tom Scott on sax. Here the playing of John Rekevics matches Scott note for note while Prophet generates a distinctly 5th Dimension like sound.

‘5 O’Clock In Rio’ by Shilts from has latest recording Going Underground. This easy grooving cut finds Shilts notching down the intensity that characterise much of the collection. Notable both for its smooth Latin groove, Marc Antoine’s input on guitars and a wonderful piano solo from Brian Simpson this is a track that is right up there with the albums best.

With Christmas right around the corner, the best seasonal smooth jazz cut so far is the fine new mix by guitarist Jim Adkins of the classic ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’. Released digitally, it not only captures the festive spirit but also taps into that distinctive Adkins sound that was so prevalent on his splendid 2008 album City Streets.

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Marcus Johnson feat. Young Pulse, Flow Chill, Vol. 2 (Three Keys)

Ray Charles, Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters (Concord)

Darryl Anders, Agape Soul (Darryl Anders)

Alan King, The Experiment (King Music Group)

Jack Prybylski, Out of the Box (Innervision)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 12:47 PM

November 6, 2010

What We're Listening To ** October 2010

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Michael Paulo feat. David Benoit, Michael Paulo with the Magenta Orchestra (Apaulo)

Ulla Haesen, Love, Tears & Joy (Ulla Haesen)

Walter Beasley, Backatcha! (Shanachie)

Drew Davidsen & Friends, We 3 Stringz (Creative Soul Jazz)

Nils, What the Funk? (Baja/TSR)

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

Kenny G, Heart And Soul (Concord Records) (2010)

Heart Ramsey, Change It to My Heart (Prayer Closet Music) (2008)

George Duke, Deja Vu (Heads Up) (2010)

Larry Carlton & Tak Matsumoto, Take Your Pick (335 Records/Vermillion Records) (2010)

Tim Bowman, The Collection (Trippin' 'N' Rhythm) (2010)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Oli Silk - All We Need (2010)
This is one of the best smooth jazz albums of recent times, done by UK keyboardist Oli Silk. It is funky, groovy, mellow, sweet and boasts great playing by all involved. Thumbs up!

Walter Beasley - Backatcha! (2010)
Excellent album by saxophonist Walter Beasley doing what he does best in impeccable style, featuring great melodies and top-notch playing. Catchy stuff!

Tom Browne - S'Up (2010)
Welcome return by this great trumpet player with a groovy album featuring Fred Wesley and others. In large parts funky and raw, it is just what the doctor ordered!

Banda Black Rio - Movimento (2002)
I just have rediscovered this gem from Brazilian jazz-funksters Banda Black Rio. They sound like a mix of EWF and Tim Maia, with lots of horns and jazzy solos. A classic!

Billy Cobham - A Funky Thide Of Sings (1975)
My nod to the past goes to this classic album by drummer extraordinaire Billy Cobham which was one of the defining albums on my jazz journey as a listener. It stood the test of time and still grooves like hell. Powerful stuff!

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Jump Start’ from Nils from his current CD What The Funk?. This is first single to be serviced to radio and, at the time of writing, is already making a major impact on the chart of most played on the smooth jazz airwaves. The fact it features live strings from Dov & The Lovestar Strings only adds to the magic but other notable contributions come from bass player Reggie McBride and the excellent Oliver Brown on percussion.

‘Make Me Smile’ by Chieli Minucci & Special EFX from the album Without You. This breathtaking transformation of the 1992 Special EFX tune ‘You Make Me Blue’ is quite something. The original version was recorded during the period when Special EFX was first experimenting with the smooth jazz format and this sumptuous adaptation benefits from the superb violin of Alan Grubner.

‘Love TKO’ by Fourplay from the brand new Let’s Touch The Sky. This stunning rendition of the Teddy Pendergrass blockbuster is given new meaning by former American Idol winner Ruben Studdard who became known to Nathan East (and Fourplay as a whole) after appearing with him at an event in Washington DC. Without doubt this is the best cover of the year so far and arguably of any other besides.

‘Our Love’ by Brian Simpson from his highly acclaimed new release South Beach. A metaphor for everything great smooth jazz should be, this mellifluous masterpiece finds Yarone Levy in tremendous form on guitar while Steve Alaniz contributes some stunningly soulful sax.

‘Expansions’ by the interestingly named fo/mo/deep from the band’s latest project Eclecticism. Delivered in both vocal and instrumental form, this brilliant take on the Lonnie Liston Smith classic is a tune that evokes the great days of jazz fusion and then some.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:33 PM

October 8, 2010

What We're Listening To ** September 2010

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘When Will I Know For Sure’ by Dave Koz from the hotly anticipated album Hello Tomorrow. A delicious collaboration between Koz and fellow sax master Boney James, it includes creative contributions from Darren Rahn and Nate Harasim, bass from Marcus Miller and keys from the always excellent Dave Delhomme.

The easy paced ‘Luxuriam’ from Tom Grant’s latest CD, Delicioso. With memorable trumpet from Paul Mazzio, this charming tune proves to be a chunk of timeless smooth jazz.

The soul drenched ‘Questions’ by Cal Harris Jr from his debut CD Inside Out. This seductive example of smooth R & B features sensational vocals from Tiarra and is certainly one to watch.

‘Rocket II To The Moon’ by silky smooth vocalist Ty Causey from his CD Down II Earth. This easy grooving charmer includes handsome sax from Chris Richardson and is exactly how romantic velvety soul should be.

The sumptuous title cut from Aysha’s brand new EP Stay With Me. Mid tempo and delightful, this smooth track is blessed by superb sax from Everette Harp and has ‘radio ready’ written all over it.

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Brian Culbertson - XII (Verve)

Paul Brown - Love You Found Me (Shanachie)

Dave Koz - Hello Tomorrow (Concord)

Eric Roberts - My Brazilian Heart (Music Magic)

Oli Silk - All We Need (Trippin N Rhythm

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

Nils - What The Funk? (Baja Records) (2010)

Brian Culbertson - XII (GRP Records) (2010)

Marcus Johnson - This Is How I Rock (Three Keys Music) (2010)

Billy Cobham - Palindrome (VARESE FONTANA) (2010)

Stanley Clarke - The Stanley Clarke Band (Heads Up) (2010)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Stephen Richard - Bread N' Water, Vol. 1 (2010)
Intimate trio featuring Stephen Richard on sax who strikingly sounds like Grover Washington Jr., he delivers some great original tracks over sparse instrumentation (percussion and keys), on some songs the excellent trumpet player Andre Hutchins joins the band. Intelligent and entertaining, keeping up the spirit of Grover.

Rico Belled - The Pursuit Of Comfort (2010)
This album by multi-instrumentalist Rico Belled was a pleasant surprise to me with its acoustic live feeling, grooviness and great songs ranging from latin to funk, performed by some top-class artists - one of them is Jeff Kashiwa. A gem.

Shilts - Going Underground (2010)
This is the brand new CD of saxophonist Shilts which was self-produced, it features some of his buddies like Rick Braun, Nick Colionne and Marc Antoine among others and delivers more of the groovy, sax-led smooth jazz we have come to love from this consummate artist. Thumbs up!

Hart Ramsey - Charge It To My Heart (2010)
This album by keyboardist Hart Ramsey is a mighty fine slice of smooth jazz pushing all the right buttons, great playing by all involved and well produced. Very recommended.

Randy Weston - Blue Moses (1972)
My nod to the past goes to this CTI session by pianist Randy Weston, arranged by Don Sebesky and featuring Freddie Hubbard on trumpet and Grover Washington Jr. on sax. Classic stuff!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 3:23 PM

September 4, 2010

What We're Listening To ** August

P E T E R * B O E H I

Nils - What The Funk? (2010)
This is another outstanding album by guitarist Nils boasting cool laid-back grooves and funky guitar playing, supported by a stellar cast. Thumbs up!

Brian Simpson - South Beach (2010)
More sparkling piano playing by Brian Simpson, one of the best smooth jazz players on the scene today. Picture perfect smooth jazz of the highest order. Don't miss it!

Marcus Johnson - This Is How I Rock (2010)
This keyboardist belongs to my favorite players, on this album he plays it a bit safe and sticks to some familiar pop/r&b covers, but hell, it works. Most notable is a cool cover of "Fly Like An Eagle" and Herb Alpert's "Rise" featuring Greg Adams.

Brian Culbertson - XII (2010)
Heavy hitting, hard funking album by keyboardist Brian Culbertson featuring guests like Chuck Brown, Kenny Lattimore, Brian McKnight, Faith Evans and Ray Parker Jr. among others, with just the right dose of jazzy piano thrown into the mix. The emphasis is on the funk!

Billy Cobham - Palindrome (2010)
Veteran drummer Billy Cobham comes up with a great fusion album featuring his trademark drumming and energetic playing by all involved. Still on top of his game!

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

Kirk Whalum, Everything Is Everything: The Music of Donny Hathaway (Rendezvous): THe classy saxman pays a bright yet, in many ways, poignant tribute to a legend whose career was far too short.

Ric Alexander/Levi Seacer Jr. (aka 2wo 4our 1ne), Self-titled, (Jazzy Jamz): A quality melodic and funky debut collaboration bound to catch many a smooth jazzer's ear.

Patrick Yandall, The Window, (Innervision): The prolific guitarist delivers another recording with diverse and intense melodies and hooks as original as his style.

Dave Koz, Hello Tomorrow, (Concord): Well worth the long wait, the iconic saxman steps forward with a star-studded cast of supporters and a lot of "firsts" for him in smooth jazz (from producers to collaborations to his role as vocalist). Not a disappointing track in the batch!

Kristine W, Straight Up With a Twist, (Fly Again): Perhaps my pick as THE vocal find of the year (so far). The project comes as a two-CD set (the second is merely a dance remix, not nearly as good as the "straight up" version, in my opinion). Skip the remix, go with the first, and fall in love! She exhibits a style, charm, and soul-stirring reach like few others (save a few choice names -- and I do mean choice), this one is a must-hear, a must-have...and, as her first stab at jazz, she knocks it out of the park.

D E N I S * P O O L E

The sensational ‘6 O’clock Revisited’ from George Duke’s recent release Déjà Vu. This terrific re-imagining of the classic ‘6 O’clock’ (which first appeared on his 1992 project Snapshot) is brought entirely up to date by a distinctly urban groove and fresh vocals provided by Duke’s son Rashid. Quite simply it is among the best cuts of the year so far.

‘Lay Ur Hands On Me’ by George Anderson from the album Positivity. Anderson is a long time member of the UK based Shakatak and this soulful mid tempo groove benefits in no small measure from the splendid lead vocals of Fil Straughton and backing from Debby Bracknell.

‘Crescent Shores’, the title cut from the great new CD from guitarist Les Sabler. Arguably the album’s best track, this sumptuous easy grooving tune is a real winner.

‘Feelin’ Alright’ by Will Downing from his wonderful new release Lust, Love & Lies. With its streetwise sexy swagger, this track exemplifies Downing at his very best.

Lynne Fiddmont’s ‘All The Way’ from her homage to Billie Holiday, Lady. The contemporary jazz intro to this stunning classic combined with cool sax from Gerald Albright and a splash of Herman Jackson’s electric piano really is something special. Not only that, it could well be the surprise smooth jazz hit of the year.

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Michael Powers, Urban Ukulele (Michael Powers Music)

Tom Grant, Delicioso (Nu Wrinkle)

Lee Ritenour, 6 String Theory (Concord)

Jeff Beck, Emotion & Commotion (Atco)

Kirk Whalum, Everything Is Everything: The Music of Donny Hathaway (Rendezvous)

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

Jack Prybylski, Out Of The Box (Innervision Records and Entertainment) (2010)

Rudiger Baldauf, Own Style (Mons Records) (2010)

Bryan Forsloff, The Final Touch (Bryan Forsloff) (2010)

Brian Simpson, South Beach (Shanachie) (2010)

Jonathan Fritzen, Diamonds (Nordic Night Records) (2010)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:47 PM

August 6, 2010

What We're Listening To ** July

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

David Benoit, Earthglow (Heads Up Records) (2010)

Chris Geith, Island of a Thousand Dreams (Timeless World Productions) (2010)

The Eric Evans Project, Waves of Grace (electricflute records) (2010)

Mindi Abair, In Hi-Fi Stereo (Telarc) (2010)

Gerald Albright, Pushing the Envelope (Telarc) (2010)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Leon Ayers Jr. - Here We Go (2010)
This album is a gem - it is full of groovy tracks boasting memorable melodies and most of all the sparkling piano playing of the leader, really top-notch stuff from beginning to end. SwissGroove webradio has been soaking up these tracks, it has been really difficult to sort out any bad ones. A real discovery!

Rodney Taylor - Can I Blow For You? (2010)
A great and well produced smooth jazz album by saxophonist Rodney Taylor pressing all the right buttons, his sound is very similar to Gerald Albright, complete with the staccato parts. Thumbs up!

Vincent Ingala - North End Soul (2010)
Another prodigy at 17, multi instrumentalist Vincent Ingala delivers a smashing smooth jazz album boasting great hooks, top-notch playing and production, he can compete with the best of the genre. Absolutely outstanding!

David Hughes - Crusing Along (2010)
Bassist David Hughes plays with David Benoit, this is his third solo release full of nice smooth jazz tracks and supporting players include Jamey Tate on drums, Rique Pantoja on piano and Andy Suzuki on sax among others. Thumbs up!

Onaje Allen Gumbs - That Special Part Of Me (1988)
My nod to the past goes to this LP of pianist Onaje Allen Gumbs from 1988 that has all the smooth jazz sensibilities and can be considered a classic of the genre. Nice cover of "Didn't I Blow Your Mind (This Time)". Stood the test of time!

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Here’s My Number’ by Norman Brown from his new CD Sending My Love. This seductively understated cut has a wow factor that is indecent and backing vocals which, late in the piece, come in like a gift from god.

‘Lowdown’ by Incognito from the bands brand new release Transatlantic R.P.M. In the capable hands of Chaka Khan Mario Biondi and Stuart Zender this wonderful Boz Scaggs composition has never sounded better.

‘Tower of Soul’, by guitarist Patrick Yandall from his yet to be released album The Window. Yandall has rhythm and melody pumping through every vein of his body and here provides further evidence of his distinctly Southern Californian groove.

‘Another Love’ by Brian Culbertson from the sensational new CD XII. With a thumping old school vibe, and silkily soulful vocals from the always excellent Kenny Lattimore, smooth R & B doesn’t get better than this.

‘Better Days’ from writer, producer and keyboard player James Colah. Released under the name of the James Colah Project, this digital download shimmers with a combination of laid back grooves, compelling rhythms and wonderful guitar from Ant Law. It is, in every respect, a smooth jazz masterpiece. Not only that; in these difficult credit crunched times the title of this infectious single could well be a metaphor for what hopefully the future has in store.

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

Jazzmasters, Jazzmasters VI (Trippin' N Rhythm)

Tim Bowman, The Tim Bowman Collection (Trippin' N Rhythm)

Fingerprints, Dream Life (South Memphis Music)

Incognito, Transatlantic RPM (Shanachie)

Herbie Hancock, The Imagine Project (Hancock Records)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:30 PM

July 5, 2010

What We're Listening To ** June

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘You’ll Be Mine’ by Jonathan Fritzen from his latest release Diamonds. This soul drenched stunner features sensational vocals from Laila Adéle and is but one great cut in an album crammed full of them.

‘Sugar Free’ by The Jeff Lorber Fusion from the CD Now Is The Time. This, the best track on the album, has a jazzy soulful swagger, nice guitar from Paul Jackson Jr, killer bass from Jimmy Haslip and a vocal performance by Barcelona born and Florida based Irene B that is out of this world.

‘Tomorrow’s Promise’ by keyboard player Chris Geith from his fabulous new collection Island Of A Thousand Dreams. Geith’s music is full of glorious melodies and hugely accessible rhythms. It is as if every song tells a story and the inbuilt urgency of this selected tune really is something special.

‘Come Dancing’ by vocalist Lisa McClowry from her latest project Time Signatures. This hauntingly beautiful Jim Peterik composition is blessed with truly superb strings from Matt Mantell, Emily Mantell and Caroline Curtis. Indeed, it has all the attributes of being a real keeper.

‘The Road To Peace (A Prayer For Haiti)’ by Gerald Albright from his brand new CD Pushing The Envelope; Here, in magical companionship with the great George Duke, Albright delivers a groove that is entirely something to savor. Without doubt this is one of the coolest cuts you will find anywhere.

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

Chris Standring, Blue Bolero (Ultimate Vibe Recordings) (2010)

Grover Washington Jr., Grover Live (Lightyear Records) (2010)

Eric Darius, On A Mission (Shanachie Entertainment) (2010)

Attila Molnar, Dreams (Catapult Records) (2009)

Kirk Whalum, The Gospel According To Jazz Chapter 3 (Rendezvous Records) (2010)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Chris Geith - Island Of A Thousand Dreams (2010)
This latest release by pianist Chris Geith sparkles with pretty melodies, cool grooves, top-notch musicianship and is definitely standing out from the crop of new releases. Very recommended!

Norman Brown - Sending My Love (2010)
This brand new album of guitarist Norman Brown delivers more of his trademark guitar playing, thankfully sticking to his tried formula of fluid guitar lines, warm, funky backdrops and catchy melodies. Quality throughout!

David Benoit - Earthglow (2010)
Pianist David Benoit is still going strong on his latest release which is full of memorable melodies, spirited playing and happy grooves, yielding a very satisfying piece of music. Thumbs up!

Eric Darius - On A Mission (2010)
Another corker of saxophonist Eric Darius who pulls all the stops on his newest release. Although the songs fusing jazz and hip hop don't work for me, his inclusion of Herbie Hancock's "Butterfly" featuring Rick Braun is a welcome highlight. One of the best young players on the scene!

Bob James - The Very Best Of (2009)
My nod to the past goes to this 2 CD set of Bob James which covers the whole career of this seminal pianist and arranger, starting out with his early CTI albums going to his current material featuring collaborations with David Sanborn, Earl Klugh and Kirk Whalum. The sound quality is not always stellar, but the music is simply ingenious!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:56 PM

May 29, 2010

What We're Listening To ** May

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

Passport, On Stage Live, Import (2008)

Pepper Williams, Decades Past (Keysax Records) (2009)

Main Gazane, Tit for Tat (Noho Records) (2010)

Andrea Razzauti, Painting the Music (Blu Ara Enterprise) (2009)

Brian Bromberg, It Is What It Is (Mack Avenue Records) (2009)

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Chieli Minucci & Special EFX, Without You (Chieli Minucci)

Steve Oliver, Global Kiss (SOM)

Jaga Jazzist, One-Armed Bandit (Ninja Tune)

Walter Beasley, Live in the Groove (Affable)

David Benoit, Earthglow (Heads Up)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Brazilian Love Affair - Latin Love Uma Brasileira (1996)
This CD is a gem, offering an easy and laid-back mix of brazil songs sung in portuguese and english, all wrapped up in an excellent setting of top-notch musicianship and spirited playing, oscillating between latin, brazil, jazz & pop. Truly outstanding!

Grover Washington, Jr. - Grover Live (2010)
This live recording by the late great saxophonist has been unearthed by Jason Miles from Grover's private collection of tapes, it was captured in 1997 and features Grover with a great band playing his greatest hits and some current songs of that time in an energetic setting. Grover still is sorely missed!

Chris Standring - Blue Bolero (2010)
This is a truly intelligent and captivating piece of music by guitarist Chris Standring, which with one foot is firmly grounded in the smooth jazz area, but with the other exploring new frontiers. Very statisfying!

Jaared - Manhattan Nights (2010)
This is one of the best smooth jazz albums of recent times by saxophonist Jaared who is returning to the scene with a vengeance. It grooves and excites, it is full of great melodies and top notch playing. Excellent!

Bob Berg - Bob Berg Best (1993)
My nod to the past goes to one of my all-time favorite sax players Bob Berg who died in a car crash several years ago. This best of CD features some of his best tracks and above all his superior playing. Truly an icon!

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Let The Whole World Know (Your Song)’ by Mindi Abair from her current CD In Hi-Fi Stereo. Arguably the album’s best song, it finds Mindi on vocals delivering the sort of ‘feel good’ performance that is totally commensurate with the sweetest of soul music.

‘Pan Funk’ by Bickley Rivera from the album Chillin’ After Five; Legitimizing the steel pan drums as a smooth jazz instrument, this sizzling number includes wonderful sax and flute from German born and Holland based Praful.

‘Hoodoo’, by Jack Prybylski, from his brand new release Out Of The Box; This sensational Grace and DeBoer composition ripples with typical Four 80 East intensity, features great sax from Prybylski, and has all the makings of being one of the year’s most memorable tracks.

The sensational title cut from Jonathan Butler’s wonderful new album So Strong. Despite the fact that ‘Urban AC’ and ‘Steppers’ mixes are also included, there is nothing to touch the easy grooving ‘original’ version that has a vibe to die for and is a shimmering example of urban jazz at its best.

‘I’m So Proud’ by soulful vocalist Vivian Male from her gorgeous CD Our Day Will Come. This spectacular cut came originally from the Impressions 1964 recording ‘Never Ending Impressions’ yet here Male, in duet with the excellent Ray Greene, makes it sound brand new.

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

Jeff Lorber Fusion, Now Is The Time (Heads Up)

Mindi Abair, In Hi-Fi Stereo (Heads UP)

Terje Lie, Urban Vacation (TCat Records)

Jonathan Butler, So Strong (Mack Ave. Records)

Gerald Albright, Pushing the Envelope (Telarc)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 11:16 AM

April 29, 2010

What We're Listening To ** April

P E T E R * B O E H I

Marcus Finnie - Boundless (2010)
Drummer Marcus Finnie offers a powerful slice of groovy contemporary jazz that definitely stands out, lots of interesting soloing and spirited playing. Very recommended!

Freddie V - Easier Than It Looks (2008)
Freddie V is the saxophonist of the Average White Band, finally stepping out into the spotlight with this cool and catchy album featuring his horn playing. Thumbs up!

Michael O'Neill - Touch The Past (2010)
Guitarist Michael O'Neill has been playing with George Benson for many years, this is his latest solo album featuring a great mix of smooth tracks alternating between straight ahead, contemporary and smooth jazz. Quality stuff!

Maysa - A Woman In Love (2010)
Maysa is my favorite songstress that is getting better and better with every release, this one is another example of her ample talent. Pure honey!

The David Chesky Band - Rush Hour (1980)
My nod to the past goes to this funky big band LP by keyboardist David Chesky featuring New York's finest like Bob James and the Brecker Brothers.

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

David Wells, Skyline (Little Fish Records) (2009)

Saturday Night Live Band, Gotta Keep My Eye on You [Impoprt] (2005)

Michael Scherer, Exceeding Expectations (2009)

Steve Oliver, Global Kiss (SOM Entertainment LLC) (2010)

Donald Patterson, Family (Global Music Alternative Llc) (2008)

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Love You All Night Long’ by rising sax star Jaared from his brand new release Manhattan Nights. With Cindy Bradley lending a hand on trumpet and flugelhorn, this sultry cut is rapidly evolving into a genuine Secret Garden favorite.

‘Window Shopper’ by Christophe De Villa from the CD Jazz and Soulful; Almost unrecognisable from rapper 50 Cent’s explicit original, this chilled out tune, with De Villa on guitar at his very best, is entirely to die for.

‘The Thrill Is Gone’ by Kirk Whalum from the album The Gospel According To Jazz Chapter 3. This brass drenched delight finds Lalah Hathaway in outstanding form on vocals and Whalum, on sax, nothing short of inspirational.

‘Anthem’ by the Uptown Band from the CD Waiting For Her; Here David Fenwick on piano is totally magical. In every respect this is a tune in search of a movie score.

‘Astro’ by Drew Davidsen from his highly rated new release Around (Again); Already in rotation at The Wave 94.7 in LA, this intense number finds Davidsen’s playing to be reminiscent of Nils at his very best.

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

Elizabeth Mis (independent release), Forever & Ever -- Young, talented saxophonist who can't possibly be 20 years old yet offers both high-spirited and mellow originals. Shepherded in by master producer/guitarist Paul Brown. Great stuff! Visit her website for more info and samples (

Steve Oliver (SOM Entertainment), Global Kiss -- In my opinion, possibly the best CD Oliver has produced to date (inlcuing his monster smash Positive Energy). Melodic, smooth, and definitely Steve oliver.

Joseph Patrick Moore, (Blue Canoe Records), To Africa With Love -- Upcoming release has great thick fusion grooves; heavy, heavy, heavy on bass.

David Benoit (Heads Up), Earthglow -- This CD is clear evidence that David Benoit is a long way from his "finish" line, and that’s cause enough for a broad, glowing smile from us all.

Agnieszka Iwanska (independent release)-- Beautiful vocals from this new artist who struts out some interesting, occasionally Basia-like material. Very warm, very appealing.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:48 AM

April 1, 2010

What We're Listening To ** March

D E N I S * P O O L E

The soul drenched and easy grooving ‘Dreamin’ by horn player and vocalist Butch Harrison from his new CD What It Is. This velvety number proves, if indeed proof was needed, that the timeless quality of great soul music will always endure.

The almost indecently catchy ‘True Vision’ by Steve Oliver from his latest album Global Kiss. Featuring the incredible Bob Baldwin on keys and the always excellent Marion Meadows on sax this is an obvious choice as the next cut from the CD to go to radio.

‘Spotlight’, by Phillip ‘Doc’ Martin, that comes from his album Realization. In terms of cover versions there is none better than this rendition of the Jennifer Hudson blockbuster. With a vibe to die for this is right up there with the album’s best.

‘Chi Town Strut’ by guitarist Bernard Alcorn from the CD A New Day. With sumptuous sampled horns and a great groove this one is a real attention grabber.

‘Mystical Force’ by the late great Grover Washington Jr from the recently discovered and soon to be released ‘live’ album Grover Live. Atmospheric smooth jazz with a funky edge doesn’t come better than this.

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

Paula Atherton, Groove With Me  -- Hot new material from a hot (relatively) new saxophonist with a knack for serious grooves.

Steve Raybine, In the Driver's Seat  --Smooth vibist who flirts with smooth jazz, Latin, and blues in an unpretentious way.
Lawson Rollins, Espirito -- The smooth guitarist sets the World stage afire again with hot licks and sexy Latin/world melodies tailor-made for the romantic and the culturally curious, as well.
Michael J Thomas, City Beat -- Saxman Thomas delivers on City Beat the kind of self-confidence and stand-up solid material that has ushered in so many of our smooth jazz greats today.

Phaze II, Live & Uncut -- This sizzlin' band has been tearing it up here in the Washington, DC area for years now. On this live recording, the guys show just why they have maintained a solid reputation as one of the premier bands in the area. Can't wait until these cats explode on the national scene with their brand of smooth and funk!

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Corinne Bailey Rae, The Sea (Capitol)

Tom Hemby, In the Moment (EMG)

Alex Bugnon, Going Home (Xela)

Terje Lie, Urban Vacation (TCat)

Kirk Whalum, The Gospel According to Jazz Vol. III (Top Drawer/Rendezvous)

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

Pat MethenyOrchestrion (Nonesuch) (2010)

MaysaWoman in Love (Shanachie) (2010)

Kim WatersLove Stories  (Shanachie)  (2010)

Terje LieUrban Vacation (Open All Nite Entertainment/T Cat Records) (2010)

Alan HewittRetroactive (Nu Groove Records) (2010)

P E T E R * B O E H I

still recovering from the awesome Berks Jazz Festival, so check back very soon.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:02 PM

March 5, 2010

What We're Listening To ** February

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

George Benson, Songs and Stories (Concord Records) (2009)

Najee, Mind Over Matter (Heads Up) (2009)

Peter White, Good Day (Peak Records) (2009)

Rick Braun, All It Takes (Artistry Music) (2009)

Andrew Neu, Try Something Neu (Nu Groove Records) (2009)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Miles Davis - The Complete Columbia Album Collection (2010)
This massive collection spanning 52 albums on 70 CDs in mini-LP replica jackets and one DVD represents the whole output of trumpet player Miles Davis on Columbia Records during the 30 years he was with this label, complete with booklet and extensive notes. This one keeps you busy!

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘The Buzz’ by Ken Navarro from the album Dreaming Of Trains. Although not totally indicative of what is an extremely innovative collection, this sumptuous slice of smooth jazz is nevertheless something to savour.

‘Tag You’re It’ by Lynn Riley from her CD Too Cool. Enticingly perky and massively commercial this is a tune that is already evolving into a firm favorite.

‘Funkability’, the brand new, (and never before heard), radio single from saxophonist Will Donato; Out on Innervision Records and produced by Darren Rahn it’s a number for which the title says it all. With a tight, infectious vibe it is in the best traditions of high octane sax driven smooth jazz and is sure to do well.

‘I Can’t Let You Go’ by Haywoode from the recently re-released album Arrival. Produced by Bruce Nazarian, and featuring horns from John Trudell and Ross Pooley, this funky cut has, since its release in 1985, become something of a cult classic. Now available from Cherry Red Records the 17-track digitally re-mastered special edition CD includes seven bonus tracks plus a comprehensive color booklet of pictures, analysis and exclusive brand new interviews with the artist and those involved with her career.

‘Parlophone’ by Terje Lie from his brand new release Urban Vacation; Produced by Jeff Lorber and Jimmy Haslip, Lorber’s tight keys provide a platform for this infectious, brass enriched cut by Norwegian born sax man Lie.

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

Bickley Rivera - Chillin' After Five

Justin Young - Nothin' But Love

Zoe - Let's Fly

BK Jackson - On the Move

Elan Trotman - This Time Around

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:05 PM

January 29, 2010

What We're Listening To ** January

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

Andrew Neu, Try Something Neu (nuGroove Records)

Lynn Riley, Too Cool (nuGroove Records)

Nate Najar, Until Now (Blue Line Music)

Maysa, A Woman In Love (Shanachie)

Pamela Williams, Chameleon (Saxtress Entertainment)

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

Kenny Garrett, Simply Said (Warner Bros. Records Inc., / WEA International) (1999)

Jeff Lorber, Heard That (Peak Records) (2008)

Pat Metheny, Water Colors (Polygram Records) (2000)

Pat Metheny and Anna Maria Jopek, Upojenie (Nonesuch)  (2008)

JamhuntersMusic Speaks Louder Than Words  (2008)

P E T E R * B O E H I

I have been skiing all week, I grabbed one of my 160GB iPods and this is what I stumbled upon on the device. Great music to drive down the slopes...

Fattburger - Come And Get It (1990)
This classic of the genre by San Diego based unit Fattburger stood the test of time extremly well, great solos by Hollis Gentry on sax, Steve Laury on guitar and Carl Evans on keyboards yield superior results. If you have it, give it a spin!

Kombo - The Big Blast! (1999)
Groovy organ sounds with catchy melodies and great solos, the band is led by keyboardist Ron Pedley and guitarist John Pondel. Positive vibes!

Bobby Wells - Bayside (2005)
This is a picture perfect smooth jazz album with some great guests like Eric Marienthal, Bryan Savage, Michael O'Neill, Darren Rahn and others. Thumbs up!

Rob Mullins - 5th Gear (1988)
This album by keyboardist Rob Mullins is an all-time favorite of mine, another classic that still deserves our attention. Groovy baby!

Bobby Lyle - The Genie (1977)
My nod to the past goes to this seminal jazz-funk album by keyboardist Bobby Lyle, his version of "Night Breeze" still blows me away. A raw diamond!

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Fast Train To Anywhere’ by Chris Standring from the album Blue Bolero. Clever production and superb playing from both Standring on guitar and Debra Porter on violin make this unusual but totally accessible cut a real winner.

The awesome mix of Marvin Gaye’s Ain’t That Peculiar that samples Kool and the Gang’s classic song ‘Summer Madness’. What makes the tune as surprising as it is delightful is the fact it was put together by two guys from the UK, Neil Thompson from Southport and Soul P from Luton. Currently being championed by Jazz FM on-air personalities Robbie Vincent and Steve Quirk, the prospects of the track being made commercially available are understood to be good.

‘In The Works’ by Alan Hewitt which is taken from his Retroactive CD. This up tempo number has a groove to die for and is ‘infectious’ in the extreme.

‘I Didn’t Know’ by Dee Brown from his latest release A Little Elbowroom. Warm and inviting with top notch vocals from D’mitri and Gerard Brooks this is a song that offers a genuine glance back to the smooth R & B of Dee’s previous release.

‘Be Coolin’ by Kathy Sanborn from her forthcoming album Small Galaxy. Much like the entire album this is a track that has a wonderful comforting quality and is sure to do well.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 3:01 PM

December 28, 2009

What We're Listening To ** December

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘True Reality’ by Dee Brown from his sophomore CD A Little Elbow Room; Released on nuGroove, and with Nate Harasim on keyboards plus Darren Rahn on sax, this is a real gem.

‘Go’ by Brian Culbertson from the exquisite Live From The Inside CD and DVD combination. Co-written by Culbertson and ex Earth Wind & Fire mainstay (and now Culbertson band member) Sheldon Reynolds this original tune has that infectious swagger and feel good vibe characteristic of Culbertson’s best music.

‘As You Like It’ by Euge Groove from his great new album Sunday Morning. A new release from Euge is always a special occasion and here his imaginatively sensitive playing has never sounded better. A certainty for most played on smooth jazz radio in 2010.

‘Groovy Nights’ by Fabio Mignola from his CD Take Me Higher. It finds Swiss born Mignola conjuring up a Peter White like groove that has ‘radio ready’ written all overt it.

‘Yesterdays’ by Tracy Hamlin from her exciting new release Better Days; A wonderful example of smooth R & B, this deliciously chilled out cut is co-written by Hamlin and Phil (Big Dog) Davis.

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

Bobby Caldwell, Timeline: The Anthology, Pt. 1 (Sin-Drome Records) (1998)

Jowee Omicil, Roots & Grooves (BBjuiss Records) (2009)

Shakatak, Afterglow (101 DISTRIBUTION) (2009)

Four80East, Roll On (Native Language) (2009)

Fourplay, Snowbound (WEA/Reprise) (2009)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Alex Malheiros & Banda Utopia feat. Sabrina Malheiros - The Wave (2009)
Alex Malheiros is the bassist of the legendary Brazil jazz-funk band Azymuth, together wih his band Banda Utopia and his singing daughter Sabrina Malheiros he delivers a great slice of smooth, contemporary latin jazz with a dash of chill/lounge. Thumbs up!

Dr Sax - Take It To The Bridge (2009)
This band has been a great discovery for me with their own brand of cool and sexy songs and instrumentals. Top notch arrangements and playing. Goes down like good wine!

L.A. Ensemble - Samba Modern (2006)
Guitarist Akio Sasajima from Japan releases a great collection of cover tracks in an easy latin/samba groove not unlike something Lee Ritenour might have done in the past. A great find!

Trippin 'n' Rhythm Records - The Very Best Of Christmas (2009)
This is my favorite Xmas record of this year with a great selection of funky Xmas tracks by Paul Hardcastle, Gregg Karukas, Tim Bowman, Cindy Bradley, Jaared, Oli Silk, U-Nam and others. Groovy baby!

Shakatak - Live In Japan (1984)
My nod to the past goes to this Japan-only released 2LP-set from 1984 featuring the band during their prime time, especially mind blowing is a lengthy bass solo that still impresses me today. I also got the Laserdisc of that concert called "Twilight Visions". Memories...

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

Mark Drummond & Grooveometric, Yuletronica (Mark Drummond Creative) -- A unique and funky twist and interpretation on some classic Christmas tunes.

Dee Brown, A Little Elbowroom (NuGroove Records) -- Here, during the Christmas season, the sophomore release from this guitarist comes neatly wrapped in grooves and moves that are sure to find a home with most smooth jazzers.

Michael Ross, A Special Thing (MIHI Records) -- A smoky, seductive slice of smooth jazz with a Will Downing flavor.

Al/Capone, Mr. Smooth (Cc Ent/Copycats) -- This group's debut release, featuring renowned producer Jason Miles (To Grover, With Love), is as well-rounded and stylish as you could hope to hear in smooth jazz today.

Drew Davidsen, Around (Again) (Creative Soul Jazz) -- Full of flavor, memorable hooks, solid rhythms, and an unimposing sweetness in its approach, this CD leaves such a pleasant imagery in your head long after the final chord of the final track.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:43 PM

November 30, 2009

What We're Listening To ** November

P E T E R * B O E H I

Craig Sharmat - So Cal Drivin (2009)
Funky, upbeat, groovy, cool and hip smooth jazz album by guitarist Craig Sharmat which is not just suitable for cruising in LA - guests include Rick Braun, Greg Mathieson, Philippe Saisse, Andy Suzuki and others. A gem!

Tom Baxter - Sugar On The Bone (2009)
Funky and groovy trombone-led smooth jazz album featuring top-notch guests like Randy Crawford, Wilton Felder, Michael Lington, Everette Harp and Val Davis. Very recommended!

Rob Tardik - The Right Time (2009)
Guitarist Rob Tardik delivers a great smooth jazz album with a tight band full of catchy compositions. Don't miss it!

Dee Brown - A Little Elbowroom (2009)
This is a laid-back, polished and ultra-smooth album by guitarist Dee Brown that just makes you feel good. Thumbs up!

Justin Young - Nothin' But Love (2009)
Newcomer Justin Young on the saxophone comes up with another great release showing that he can compete with the best of the genre. Players include Ricky Lawson, Alex Al, Sheldon Reynolds and Darrell Crux among others, so you know it is top-notch!

D E N I S * P O O L E

The intoxicating ‘Open Road’ by Tom Braxton from his new CD Endless Highway. With interplay between guitarist Derrick Winding and Braxton that is magical, and a percussive energy from Len Barnett and Rico Gonzales to savor, this mid tempo smoker is amongst the standout smooth jazz tunes of 2009.

‘One Wish’ by Hiroshima, from the band’s re-imaged retrospective Legacy. One of three tunes lifted from the 1985 release Another Place this is a complete showstopper. Funky yet enthralling, it has a vibe to die for and all the attributes of being seriously addictive.

‘Beauty And The Beast’ by Mike Catalano from the excellent A Manhattan Affair. This sensitive take on the tune from the 1991 Disney motion picture of the same name finds the unmistakable Bob James on Fender Rhodes, Chuck Loeb on guitar and great sax from Lou Marini.

‘Breaker One-9’ by guitar player and vocalist Carlyle Barriteau from his album Groovin’ At Sunset. Replete with a sunshine filled smooth jazz groove and co-written with bass player Roberto Vally it’s a tune to instantly confirm Barriteau as a consummate purveyor of sweet sounding ‘west coast’ contemporary jazz.

The atmospheric ‘Brief Encounter’ by UK based funk band Dr Sax from the CD Take It To The Bridge. With a great vocal from Steve Williams this is arguably the albums best track.

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

Euge Groove, Sunday Morning (Shanachie) -- The sax giant is back from recently wrapping up a European tour with Tina Turner and unleashes a sensational set of new grooves on us. This time, however, you may notice a slightly more laid back approach, but the quality, the feel, and the oomph are, as always, firmly intact.

Craig Sharmat, So Cal Drivin (Scoredog Music) -- The guitarist showcases his debut release here, which has a most apropos title, considering the mood he instills in the album.

Vision Jazz, Distant Visions (Vision Jazz) -- If a new and refreshing jolt to the genre is what the doctor is ordering, this group just may have that prescription in stock. This is their debut effort and features veteran saxman Greg Vail.

Johannes Linstead, Mistico (Earthscape Media) -- As if Johannes Linstead fans didn’t already know it would happen again, the Canadian guitarist is once more igniting passion, desire, and dreams through his exotic and fiery handling of the Spanish guitar.

Fabio Mignola, Take Me Higher (Bonmusic) -- With a bright Mediterranean flair and Brazilian moves intermingled with some truly fine smooth highlights, guitarist/composer Fabio Mignola oftentimes reminds one of the illustrious Marc Antoine, but with a vision all his own.

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Brian Culbertson, Live From the Inside (GRP)

Poncho Sanchez, Psychedelic Blues (Concord)

Lawson Rollins, Espirito (Infinita)

Spencer Day, Vagabond (Concord)

Everette Harp, First Love (Shanachie)

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

Steve Raybine, In The Driver's Seat ( (2009)

Matt Marshak, Family Funktion (Nuance Music) (2009)

Max Middleton, Land of Secrets (RL-2) (2009)

Redtenbacher's Funkestra, Falling from Insanity (2009)

Kevyn Lettau, Walking in Your Footsteps (Cats and Dogs Music) (2009)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:41 PM

October 31, 2009

What We're Listening To ** October

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

Marcus Anderson, From The Heart ( (2009)

Euge Groove, Sunday Morning (Shanachie) (2009)

Darryl Williams, That Was Then (2009)

Rob Tardik, The Right Time (Guitardik Music) (2009)

Kevin Peter Jones, Magnetic Journey ( (2009)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Gil Parris - A Certain Beauty (2009)
Guitarist Gil Parris comes up with a great album covering blues, jazz, rock, funk and r&b with tons of great playing and strong compositions, guest artists include Chris Botti, Bob Baldwin, David Mann, Randy Brecker and David Sanborn among others. Simply outstanding!

Steve Raybine - In The Driver's Seat (2009)
This is a groovy feelgood album by vibraphonist Steve Raybine full of funky grooves, fat horns and catchy melodies by a top-notch group of players. A breath of fresh air!

Everette Harp - First Love (2009)
Now this is a significant album by one of the best saxophonists of the genre. It is a definitive departure from his previous work venturing into more adventurous territory with jazzier and looser playing yielding superior results. A musical triumph, hinting where smooth jazz might develop in the future.

Euge Groove - Sunday Morning (2009)
Saxophonist Euge Groove plays it safe on this laid-back and polished picture-perfect smooth jazz album. Should play nicely in the background of a decent party.

Hidefumi Toki & Cruising - Night Cruise (1995)
My nod to the past goes to this absolutely great, groovy, funky and uplifting album by Japanese saxophonist Hidefumi Toki. Jazz-funk of the highest order, catchy compositions, top-notch playing - get it if you can!

D E N I S * P O O L E

Brian Bromberg’s ‘Martinis At The Velvet Lounge?’ from his outstanding new CD It Is What It Is. A hint of a Latin beat, wonderful piccolo bass from Bromberg and splashes of flute from Gary Meek all serve to deliver a tune that is beautifully warm and truly special.

‘Optimistic’, by Melba Moore and Phil Perry, from the duo’s soulful new album, The Gift Of Love; the churning beat and joyous vibe of this great cover of the Sounds of Blackness 1991 hit is terrific.

‘Five To Eleven’ from East Bay Soul’s self titled blockbuster. Written by Greg Adams and James Wirrick, this evocatively mellow gem has, much like the entire album, all the attributes of being a real keeper.

‘Secret Of The Way’ from Jim Peterik’s Lifeforce. A real surprise packet from the writer of the seminal ‘Eye of The Tiger’ this is perhaps the most overtly smooth jazz tune on the album. Peterik’s Russ Freeman like guitar engenders a delicious groove that, when coupled with an enthralling rhythm, delivers the sort of sound likely to provide him with real contemporary jazz credibility

‘What If…’ by Anthony James Baker from his five track EP Looking Ahead. With Darren Rahn on alto sax, this sumptuously mid tempo cut underpins to perfection Baker’s claim of providing “smooth jazz with a hard edge”.

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

Matt Marshak, Family Funktion (Nuance Music) -- Blue, smooth, and funky with a vibe that just tears it up.

Brian Bromberg, It Is What It Is (Artistry Music) -- The funk just keeps driving Bromberg, and vice versa!

Jeff Golub, Blues For You (E1 Music) -- Golub as I've been waiting to hear him--in his blues element--and shining!

George Anderson, Positivity (Maxwood Music) -- Shakatak bassist steps out with his solo debut with some serious smooth and funky grooves.

Tom Braxton, Endless Highway (Pacific Coast Jazz) -- The saxman bolts out of the studio with another quality item, packed with superior sax work that epitomizes the very essence and spirit of smooth jazz.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:41 AM

September 30, 2009

What We're Listening To ** September

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Ben Tankard, Mercy Mercy Mercy (Verity): More heavenly vibes from the amazing pianist, with a cover of Sade's "No Ordinary Love."

Greg Adams, East Bay Soul (Ripa): Adams' fifth solo CD features his rollicking Easy Bay Soul band. There's even some rap.

Gabriela Anders, Bossa Beleza (E1): The Argentine native now living in New York sings in Spanish, Portuguese and English.

Matt Marshak, Family Funktion (Nuance): The guitarist returns with another upbeat winner.

Jesse Cook, The Rhumba Foundation (E1): Canadian Jesse Cook turns on the flamenco heat with orginals and a cover of Simon and Garfunkel's Cecilia. Best smooth track: "Bogota By Bus."

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

Marcus Johnson,  Poetically Justified (Three Keys Music) (2009)

Christoph Spendel, Summer Notice [IMPORT] (Blue Flame) (2009)

The Sax Pack, The Pack Is Back! (Shanachie) (2009)

Bob Baldwin, Lookin' Back (Nu Groove Records) (2009)
Rick Braun, All It Takes (Artistry Music) (2009)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Brian Bromberg - It Is What It Is (2009)
This is a smashing album full of energy and joyful musicianship of the highest order, it is a breath of fresh air among all those ultra-smooth albums without rough edges that seem to be the order of the day, kudos to Brian for keeping up the banner of true musicianship. The lineup is superb and features the best of the best, but above all rides the hard hitting bass of the leader keeping things together. Premium quality!

Jeff Golub - Blues For You (2009)
This is another great album of an artist staying true to himself, more so, giving us the kind of music that probably is closest to his heart, and it shows. Whenever I see him live, I get a feeling of honest musical expression, and this album has been done in this spirit. Some raunchy blues tunes, a truly outstanding cover of Albert King's "I'll Play The Blues For You" among guests like vocalists Peter Wolf, Billy Sqier, John Waite and Marc Cohn make this a great piece of music, Kirk Whalum guest on another track. As the marketing blurb says: "The CD is hitting the sweet spot between jazz, blues & rock." But the emphasis is definitely on the blues!

Dan Siegel - Sphere (2009)
A great new CD by keyboardist Dan Siegel which was produced by Brian Bromberg, so you know we get the real deal. The players are top notch, among the guests are Tom Scott and Larry Carlton, the playing is acoustic and warm, but still groovy and melodious yielding some very accessible results. Another return to true musicianship and honest musical expression. Thumbs up!

Drew Davidsen - Around (Again) (2009)
Guitarist Drew Davidsen comes up with a smooth jazz gem in the shape of this CD. His releases always struck a chord with me, but with this one he has surpassed himself. Mellow grooves, natural and warm playing and great melodies prevail. Gerald Veasley and Jay Rowe guest on the album. With this release, Drew Davidson has joined the top players of the genre. Don't miss it!

The Chris Hinze Combination - Bamboo Magic (1978)
As usual, my nod to the past goes to Dutch flautist Chris Hinze's "Bamboo Magic" from 1978, recorded in New York and featuring some of the finest session players, among them Richard Tee and Michel Brecker. I am so thankful that the soundtrack to my youth was filled with such great music!

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Anytime’ by Art Sherrod Jr from his forthcoming album Seasons. Featuring vocalist and keyboard player Frank McComb this turned down chiller takes Sherrod, with sensational consequences, deep into quiet storm territory.

‘1000 Miles’ by Joe McBride from his current album Lookin For A Change. This reworking of Vanessa Carlton’s 2002 blockbuster shimmers with McBride’s sensational playing and immaculate bass from Roger Hines. In every respect it is a wonderful piece of work.

‘Mission 2 Mars’ by Peter White from his brand new album Good Day. This innovative yet feisty track features the masterful production touches that makes Philippe Saisse the ‘go to guy’ for so many of the genre’s current A-list performers, a thumping beat, and keyboard interjections from Saisse that are absolutely to die for.

‘Heading Wes’, by Galaxy Lounge, from the CD Welcome To The Party. Over the years a plethora of contemporary jazz artists have, each in their own way, tipped a hat to the great Wes Montgomery and here Galaxy Lounge, aka Jon Grindstaff, provides his own tribute to the legendary guitar ace.

‘Dedication’ by guitarist Mark Harper and the late Wayman Tisdale from Harpers up-coming album The Mark Harper Project. Currently being serviced to radio, this sumptuous duet is a fitting tribute to the humanity of Tisdale and a sneak preview of what, for Harper, may prove to be a notable solo career.

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

Kloud 9, Everything is Good 2Nite (Shanachie)-- A "best of" compilation from the R&B duo with some really smooth remixes and bonus tracks (including a remake of Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall").

Aaron Bing, Secret Place (Century) -- Flavorful CD from a saxman who will remind one of Kenny G, one of his major influences. A must-listen!

Jesse Cook, The Rumba Foundation (Coach House) -- Jesse Cook at his finest, with Latin grooves of a Colombian flavor. He traveled to Bogota to join forces with a group called Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto. The result is astounding. Due out on September 29.

Avenue H, Off the Floor, (self-produced)--Debut album from a group of serious funksters who combine jazz, funk, and world in a blazing show of excellence.

Karen Devroop, Reminiscing, (self-produced)--Another hot debut from a hot new artist (by the way, the first name is pronounced with the accent on the second syllable). Devroop hails from South Africa. With a saxful of smooth goodies, he (that's right--he) captivates with a catchy and mellow groove to be remembered.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:31 PM

August 31, 2009

What We're Listening To ** August

P E T E R * B O E H I

Marcin Nowakowski - Better Days (2009)
Saxophonist Marcin Nowakowski hails from Poland, this is his second release, recorded in Los Angeles, produced by Jeff Lorber, mixed by Paul Brown, featuring artists like Paul Jackson Jr., Tony Moore, Lenny Castro, Alex Al, Jeff Pescetto, Dave Weckl, Michael Landau and more, giving us a picture perfect smooth jazz album. Pure bliss!

Tropical Jazz Big Band - Fantasy (2009)
This is the funkiest and tightest big band you can imagine, they are from Japan and are conducted by Shingo "Carlos" Kanno who is a ingenious arranger and percussionist, each of their CD blows me away. Their lastest release features great covers (EWF's "Fantasy" among them) and originals, only top notch material and performances, stunning!

Michael Ray Tyler - Grazing The Land (2008)
This album is a work of art and beauty. Flugel horn player Michael Ray Tyler reminds me a lot of Chuck Mangione, but he is technically better and his compositions are excellent, as are his side men. This CD is a breath of fresh air, full of honest musicianship, creativity and above all - quality. One of the best releases of recent times!

76 Degrees West Band - 76 Degrees West (2009)
This is a project featuring Pieces Of A Dream saxophonist Eddie Baccus Jr., it is a great mix of jazz funk instrumentals and r&b songs, featuring Eddie's sax, I also noticed great trumpet and trombone solos in the funky mix, this is a bunch of great players that are allowed to express themselves and jam. Thumbs up!

Roger Glenn - Reachin' (1976)
As usual a nod to the past with this classic album by flautist Roger Glenn, produced by the Mizell Brothers, lots of funky playing and great soloing by all involved. This is the music I always love to go back to!

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Basia, It's That Girl Again (Koch)

Brian Bromberg, It Is What It Is (Artistry)

Four80East, Roll On (Native Language)

Jeff Golub, Blues For You (E1)

Joe McBride, Lookin' for a Change (Heads Up)

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

Chaka Khan, Epiphany: The Best of Chaka Khan, Vol. 1 (Rhino / Wea Peak Records) (2005)

Jackiem Joyner, Lil' Man Soul (Artistry Music) (2009)

Craig Chaquico, Follow the Sun (Shanachie) (2009)

Torcuato Mariano, So Far from Home (Nu Groove Records) (2009)

Fattburger, Good News (Capitol) (1990)

D E N I S * P O O L E

The Alexander ZonjicJeff Lorber collaboration, ‘Tongue Twister’, from Zonjic’s latest release Doin The D. This understated yet up beat gem serves as a blueprint for what great smooth jazz should be.

‘CD 101.9 by Candy Dulfer from her sensational new release Funked Up. Complete with an excerpt from an original 1991 radio station broadcast this stunning track says everything about an album that in a matter of weeks has re-established Dulfer as a major force on the contemporary jazz scene.

The delightfully retro flavored ‘Back In The Day’ by Paul Taylor from his new album Burnin. With Taylor’s simmering tenor merging with great vocals from Billy Cliff there is little doubt that this will be one of the songs of the year.

‘Lets Walk’ by J Dee from the album Smoove On The Move. Dee’s own take on the dance phenomenon of ‘steppin’ is sensational. With a great ‘instructional’ rap from Big Hos and a luscious veneer of horns this one will enliven even the most tired of dancing feet.

‘On The Beach’ by Les Sabler from his forthcoming release Les Sabler Live. This faithful version of Chris Rea’s sophisticated classic is Sabler’s first-ever vocal recording and demonstrates a different side of this silky smooth guitar player.

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

Jonathan Butler, Live in South Africa (Rendezvous)

Chris Camozzi, Slow Burn (Samson)

Four80East, Roll On (Native Language)

Paul Taylor, Burnin' (Peak)

Marion Meadows, Secrets (Heads Up)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:34 PM

August 1, 2009

What We're Listening To ** July

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

Streetwize, Put U To Bed (Shanachie) – The latest installment in the Streetwize series from producers Chris “Big Dog” Davis and saxman Kim Waters looms as large and as tastefully urban as urban jazz can get. These guys just keep successfully tapping into the soul and depth of this appealing hybrid form of jazz and never seem to miss their mark. This version contains slow jam hits and compositions by such luminaries as Usher, Alicia Keys, Jill Scott, Ledisi, T-Pain, and Rex Rideout. Very satisfying indeed.

Richard Elliot, After Dark, (Blue Note) – A classic among Elliot albums. This is the one that clearly hooked me and decided for me that Elliot was going to be an integral part of the smooth jazz engine for years to come. Boy, was I right! Too many hits on which to elaborate here, the 15-year-old album is truly a stand-up immortal must-have!

Pieces of A Dream, Acquainted With the Night (Heads Up) – I’m on a classics kick here, I guess, but this album embodies the very essence of a veteran group that has been together , producing quality hits, melodies, and funk, for more decades than some of its fans have lived!

Maysa, Metamorphosis (Shanachie)—When you talk extraordinary vocals from an extraordinary personality who pushes herself to the limits of passion and soul with each release, you have to think Maysa, and you have to have this stylish and moving gem.

Rare Requests, Vol. III (Liquid)—A really well-conceived collection of smooth jazz hits including Ronnie Laws’ “Always There,” Warren Hill’s “Passion Theme,” Torcuato Mariano’s “Last Look” and Dancing Fantasy’s “Cry Nature.” Quality!

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Jessy J, True Love (Peak)

Najee, Mind Over Matter (Heads Up)

Freddie Fox, Feelin' It (NuGroove)

Micaela Haley, Syren (Posh)

June Kuramoto, Under the Stars (Mauna Kea)

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

HiroshimaLegacy (Heads Up)  (2009)

Jessy J, True Love (Peak Records) (2009)

Paul Taylor, Burnin' (Peak Records) (2009)

Cindy Bradley, Bloom (Trippin & Rhythm) (2009)

Jakob ElvstromSaxClub vol. 1  (Calibrated) (2009)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Yoshiaki Masuo - The Song Is You And Me (1980)
This LP by japanese guitarist sounds like a lost GRP session from their best period thanks to a great session cast and arranging by Yutaka Yokokura. You get breezy latin tracks to funky groovers, Yoshiaki Masuo sounds like a cross between Lee Ritenour and Wilbert Longmire. A gem!

Cassandre McKinley - Baring The Soul: The Music Of Marvin Gaye (2004)
Just stumbled over this excellent album on my iPod. Songstress Cassandre McKinley performs some of the greatest Gaye songs in a stripped down acoustic jazz setting. Slow burning and intense!

Shaun LaBelle - Desert Nights (2009)
Multiinstrumentalist Shaun LaBelle delivers a great smooth jazz album full of contemporary grooves and some top-notch guests. Will make your head bob!

Freddie Hubbard - Love Connection, Bundle Of Joy, High Energy, Skagly, Windjammer
Finally - Freddie Hubbard's Columba catalog is out on CD!

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘The Blink Of An Eye’ by Jeff Golub from his forthcoming CD Blues For You. Relaxed and appealing, this turned down gem shimmers with the sheer emotion that is at the core of most things that Golub does.

‘Steady As She Goes’ by Walter Beasley from his album Free Your Mind. Written and produced by Pieces of a Dream mainstay James K Lloyd, this groove drenched masterpiece finds Lloyd on keys scattering his magic far and wide. In every respect it is the ultimate showcase for Beasley’s melodic playing.

‘Pacific Breeze’ by keyboard player Gail Jhonson from her 2008 release Pearls. The latest from this wonderful album to go to radio this sumptuous track will leave the listener in no doubt as to Jhonson’s consummate skill as writer and performer.

The title cut from keyboard player Jonathan Fritzén’s brand new recording VIP. With a groove that owes much to Brian Culbertson, Joe McBride and Brian Simpson this totally in the pocket tune features Jay Soto who injects a typically tight guitar solo.

‘Move On Up’ by Richard Elliot from his CD Rock Steady. Elliot’s stunning take on Curtis Mayfield’s classic song is already powering its way up the charts of most played on smooth jazz radio.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:45 AM

June 29, 2009

What We're Listening To ** June

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Paul Brown/Marc Antoine: Foreign Exchange (Peak)

Jay Soto: Mesmerized (NuGroove)

Joyce Cooling: Global Cooling (Group 2)

Torcuato Mariano: So Far From Home (NuGroove)

Will Downing: Classique (Peak)

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

Joe McBride, Lookin' for a Change (Heads Up) (2009)

Gabriel Mark Hasselbach, Cool Down (2009)

Jay Soto, Mesmerized (Nu Groove Records) (2009)

Down to the Bone, Future Boogie (Shanachie) (2009)

Gary Burton Quartet , Live [LIVE] (Concord Jazz) (2009)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Mark Whitfield - Songs Of Wonder (2009)
Guitarist Mark Whitfiled has been touring with Chris Botti for the past few years, this is a great solo album dedicated to the catalog of Stevie Wonder. It features guests Chris Botti and John Mayer. Smooth, jazzy and soulful!

Najee - Mind Over Matter (2009)
The latest release from saxophonist and flautist Najee is another higlight in this artist's career. Strong playing, great songs, top-notch production yield a great CD. Not to be missed!

Joyce Cooling - Global Cooling (2009)
The team of keyboardist Jay Wagner and guitarist Joyce Cooling deliver another nice album full of catchy melodies and groovy playing that keep your head nodding. Can't resist the charm of this woman!

Joseph Vincelli - Cocktail Mix (2009)
This is a live recording of saxophonist Joseph Vincelli, featuring passionate playing and picture perfect smooth jazz songs, his band is outstanding. Absolutely top-notch!

Victor Feldman - In My Pocket (1977)
As my nod to the past, I would like to mention this audiophile LP by Victor Feldman, featuring Hubert Laws and Harvey Mason. On this direct-to-disc session, they had to nail it at the first attempt, and they did! Re-issued on CD as "Rio Nights".

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Soul Sugar’ by Marion Meadows from his current CD Secrets. This Michael Broening composition is replete with the warm and comforting vibe that Secrets is all about. The almost languid beat builds a platform for interplay between Meadows and Broening which quickly becomes seriously addictive.

‘Say It Baby’ by sax player and vocalist Paula Atherton from her stunning new album Groove With Me. Lionel Cordew on drums and bass-man Schuyler Deale lay down a massive foundation and, between blowing up a storm on sax, Atherton still finds time to combine with Naomion for some high calibre backing vocals.

‘Say I Do’ by Jackiem Joyner from the CD Lil’ Man Soul. With an unhurried sexy groove this is a cut that says everything about what top-notch urban jazz should be.

‘Hindsight’ by Pieces Of A Dream from the recording Soul Intent; With a sultry laid back aura that checks every box imaginable, James K Lloyd’s mesmerizing keys and great sax from Eddie Baccus Jr., this is without doubt the best contemporary jazz track of the year so far.

‘Desirable’ by Tea from the album Dreams; Tea is the production team of guitarist Frank Balloffet and drummer - keyboard player Phil Bunch who, for this latest project, have gathered together some outstanding guest performers. This particular piece of magic finds Chana in dazzling form on vocals, the legendary Brian Auger immense on Fender Rhodes and Randall Willis making a noteworthy contribution on alto sax.

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

The Motown Collection, (Time Life) -- In what is now a weird twist, I had previously ordered this fantastic 10-CD package of sheer blissful nostalgia which comprehensively covers the Motown years and artists. Of course. with the great Michael Jackson's passing, the collection is now all the more timely, as many of the Jackson hits, as well as a bonus DVD, which includes the Jacksons, are included. This is truly a must-have.

Jeff Lorber, Heard That (Peak)

Walter Beasley, Free Your Mind (Heads Up)

Paul Taylor, Burnin' (Peak)

Joe McBride, Lookin' For a Change (Heads Up)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:58 PM

May 28, 2009

What We're Listening To ** May

P E T E R * B O E H I

Terri Lyne Carrington - More To Say... (2009)
Female drummer TLC releases a superlative album, it is deep and has a lot of substance, featuring smooth jazz and contemporary grooves by a stellar line-up of the highest order. "Hold Me Again" and the soul-jazz version of the Beatles' "Let It Be" will blow your mind. A revelation!

Jay Soto - Mesmerized (2009)
Guitarist Jay Soto offers another picture perfect and mesmerizing smooth jazz album full of top-notch playing and catchy compositions. Smooth jazz bliss!

Gregg Karukas - GK (2009)
Keyboardist Gregg Karukas delivers another smooth jazz gem, strong compositions and great playing from beginning to end, just perfect. Gregg rules!

Chris Botti - In Boston (2009)
I just watched the Blu-Ray of this concert that defies categorization - Chris Botti crosses every musical border you can imagine boasting a dizzying array of world-class guest artists ranging from Sting to Yo-Yo Ma, backed by the Boston Pops and his incredible band in the gorgeous Boston Symphony Hall. From jazz to pop to classical, it is a great amalgam of music. World class!

Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue (50th Anniversary Box Set, Collector's Edition) (1959)
As usual I would like to make a nod to a classic album of the past, and after the Chris Botti DVD, this milestone of music history by Miles Davis is an appropriate choice. 50 years after its original release, Legacy bring to us this incredible super deluxe packaging with a gatefold media carrier that contains a 180 gram single-LP pressing on blue vinyl, two discs complete with previously unreleased tracks along with a bonus DVD. Also included is a 60-page 12x12 book, memorabilia envelope, and large fold out poster. Still mind-boggling after all these years. Belongs to every collection!

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Jimmy Sommers, Time Stands Still (NuGroove)

Cindy Bradley, Bloom (Trippin N Rhythm)

Ben Tankard, Mercy Mercy Mercy (Verity)

Craig Chaquico, Follow the Sun (Shanachie)

U-Nam, Unanimity (Trippin N Rhythm)

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

The Greyboy AllstarsWhat Happened to Television? (Sci Fidelity Records) (2007)

Gregg KarukasGK (TRIPPIN & RHYTHM) (2009)

Philippe SaisseAt World's Edge (Koch Records) (2009)

Paul Brown & Marc AntoineSecrets (Peak Records) (2009)

Quincy JonesSounds...And Stuff Like That!! (A&M)  (1990)

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Sycamore Soul’ by Cindy Bradley from her brand new CD Bloom. Thano Sahnas delivers a huge contribution on guitar and, as Bradley’s smoky flugelhorn blends to perfection with producer Michael Broening’s tight keys; the result is smooth jazz of the highest order.

‘First Love’ by Netherlands based producer and keyboard player Cook Daniel from his album Dangle Grooves. Picture perfect guitar from Marcel Fisser, a vibe to die for and wonderful vocals from Alma Nieto all combine to deliver what is, without doubt, a tranquil masterpiece.

‘Grass Roots’ by Joyce Cooling from her new release Global Cooling. Producer Jay Wagner is his usual superb self on keys and as luscious horns combine with Cooling’s classy playing the result is truly memorable.

‘The Rover’ by Philippe Saisse from his album At Worlds Edge. Jeff Golub provides distinctive guitar and with subliminal vocals from Jasmine Roy that are nothing short of incredible this is destined to become one of the tracks of the year.

‘Statue of a Fool’ by Will Downing from the album Classique. This Motown gem (a.k.a. ‘Name It After Me’) proved to be a solo masterpiece for original Temptations lead tenor David Ruffin back in 1976 yet in Downing’s capable hands it sounds brand new.

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

Paul Brown/Marc Antoine, Foreign Exchange (Peak Records) — One of the best collaborations I’ve heard to date.
Cynthia Layne, Beautiful Soul (Owlstudios) — Great jazz/soul vocals.
Joyce Cooling, Global Cooling (Group2 Productions) — No surprises here, as the guitarist struts her quality stuff.
Tony McGhee, The Jazzy Side of Smooth (self-published) — Great local talent.
Kiss the Sky, Kiss the Sky (Motown) — An oldie but goodie from the vault of Paul Hardcastle.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:47 PM

April 30, 2009

What We're Listening To ** April

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Down to the Bone, Future Boogie (Shanachie)

Grant Geissman, Cool Man Cool (Futurism)

Gregg Karukas, GK (Trippin N Rhythm)

Nils, Up Close and Personal (Baja/TSR)

Phillippe Saisse, At World's Edge (Koch)

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

Chuck LoebBetween 2 Worlds (Heads Up) (2009)

Jim PeterikLifeforce (TNT Media Group (FL) (2009)

Spyro GyraDown the Wire (Heads Up) (2009)

Marion MeadowsSecrets (Heads Up) (2009)

Pieces Of A DreamSoul Intent (Heads Up)  (2009)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Jakob Elvstrøm - SaxClub Vol. 1 (2009)
Fresh, funky smooth jazz sax by Danish saxophonist Jakob Elvstrøm who delivers a truly great upbeat album boasting great chops and memorable melodies. A breath of fresh air!

David Stevens - The Shedd (2008)
Great smooth jazz album by guitarist David Stevens, guests include Steve Cole and Gerald Veasley, excellent production and catchy songs. Thumbs up!

76 Degrees West Band - 76 Degrees West (2009)
This band features Pieces Of A Dream saxophonist Eddie Baccus Jr., it is a funky & groovy affair with great playing by all involved. Excellent!

Keith Marks - Foreign Funk (2006)
Funky flute by Keith Marks who goes through some great covers like "Summer Breeze", "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" and others. Cool stuff!

Frank Wess - Wess To Memphis (1970)
A here is my nod to the past with this LP by flautist Frank Wess, the album is funky, groovy and soulful with some great vibes. They don't make these anymore!

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Black Book’ by The Rippingtons from the album Modern Art; With a vibeness that is the hallmark of The Rippingtons at its very best this compelling tune sparkles with great keys from Bill Heller, spellbinding bass from Rico Belled and an overall input from the band that should stand them in good stead for the next twenty three years.

‘Always There For Me’ by Toni Redd from her nuGroove debut N The Key of Redd: With a singing style that is a delicious amalgam of R & B, contemporary jazz, and classic soul, her feisty collaboration with Sam Sims might just get in your head and not go away.

‘Jazz Cruise’ by Nils from his CD Up Close And Personal: This, the first cut to go to radio, is driven along with the sort of energy that only sax powerhouse Shilts can provide. It is an absolute winner.

The aptly named ‘Smooth’ from the album Just Groovin from guitarist Ronny Smith: With an amazing groove plus splashes of Hammond B3 this is one seriously good tune.

‘Foreign Exchange’ by Paul Brown & Marc Antoine from the album of the same name: This sensational tune is infectious in the extreme and as captivating as they come. With horns that are to die for it will, without a shadow of doubt, prove to be one of the top cuts of the entire year.

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

De’ Nate’, Reminisce (NuGroove Records):  De’Nate’ is the magnificent brainchild of producer/artist Nate Harasim and standout vocalist Deborah Connors, at the recommendation of nuGroove Records president,  David Chackler, who saw “something” potentially explosive in such a union. Boy, was he ever right!  Coming your way on August 19.
Novello, B3 Soul (NuGroove Records):  John Novello, a former member of the progressive jazz rock group, Niacin, which produced tunes under Chick Corea’s Stretch label in the 1990s, has expanded the dynamic of jazz here with his interpretation of how the great Hammond B3 organ sound can be further introduced in that most interesting combination of jazz, soul, and funk. 
Richard Elliot, Rock Steady (Artistry Music):   Saxophonist Richard Elliot has been a mainstay and a beacon for excellence in smooth jazz since I can recall and his upcoming release, Rock Steady, scheduled to hit stores on May 19, is just that: Rock steady in its approach to the fervor, the steel resolve, the soulfulness, and the electric energy that is Richard Elliot. 
Jackiem Joyner, Lil Man Soul (Artistry Music):  This one is loaded with all sorts of melodic treasures that will appeal to all sorts of smooth jazz ears. Speaking from experience, there are tunes that you will have the most difficult time getting out of your head because of the sweet melodies and hypnotic hooks. 
Down to the Bone, Supercharged (Narada Jazz): It’s been two years since this one was released, and I’m still dancing and listening...and waiting for the next blast from this supercharged group from across the “pond.”  This one is, and will always be, dangerously funky!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 11:56 AM

March 27, 2009

What We're Listening To ** March

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

Chuck Loeb, Between 2 Worlds (Heads Up Music): Iconic guitarist Chuck Loeb's latest album, scheduled for release on March 24, is (as usual) illustrative and satisfying. Here, he embarks on a contemporary jazz/Latin/blues-laden voyage that spans both sides of the Atlantic, with recordings taking place in New York and Berlin.

Darren Rahn, Talk of the Town (NuGroove Records): Canadian-born Darren Rahn is the epitome of the success story many aspirants in the music business imagine for themselves. His grasp of the principle of disciplined hard work, coupled with the dedicated mastery of his art (via study at the University of Northern Colorado, resulting in him becoming a masters level jazz graduate) have reaped generous rewards for this artist in ways many can only hope to experience at some point in their lives. Here on Talk of the Town, his 3rd album, Rahn continues blazing that indelible trail of excellence.

Shaun Labelle, Desert Nights (Innervision Records): Veteran producer/multi-instrumentalist Shaun Labelle, at the urging of so many of his cohorts and others in the business -- particularly his close friend/”big brother,” saxman Everette Harp -- steps out of the shadows on this classy and funky “conversation” with listeners. Desert Nights sweats profusely and gyrates criminally as it takes its time to deliver as much aural sensations as possible.

Chris Standring, Love and Paragraphs (Ultimate Vibe): This 2008 release by Chris Standring clearly demonstrates that the guitarist has a style of playing that is both strong and precise, while not being overbearing. The crispness is immediately noticeable. What’s also noticeable is the melody on each piece. It’s consistently alive and discernible. Whether you’re in a foot-tapping mood or a reflective one, he has something that will catch you clean.

Kilauea, Diamond Collection (BrainChild Records): Here's an oldie (1995) that warrants revisiting. It contains hits from the band's first 4 albums and a couple of new compositions (well, "new" then). There is also a Diamond Collection 2 album, and I intend to reach back to grab that one, as well. Such tight, structured, and oh-so-smooth melodies were always such an integral component taken seriously by founder/Grammy award winner Daniel Ho and his entire group of classy musicians.

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

Boney James, Send One Your Love (Concord Records) (2009)

Smooth Players West, Souljazz Explosion (2006)

Players, Galaxy [IMPORT] (Sony / Bmg Japan) (2007)

The Motet, Music for Life (Harmonized) (2004)

Jeff Kashiwa, Back in the Day (Shanachie) (2009)

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

The Rippingtons, Modern Art (Peak)

Boney James, Send One Your Love (Concord)

Novello, B3 Soul (NuGroove)

Ronny Smith, Just Because (Pacific Coast Jazz)

Darren Rahn, Talk of the Town (NuGroove)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Darren Rahn - Talk Of The Town (2009)
Picture perfect smooth jazz by saxophonist Darren Rahn featuring some of the genre's best players like Jeff Lorber, Tim Bowman, Bob James and others. Excellent!

Marion Meadows - Secrets (2009)
Brand new release by smooth sax player Marion Meadows, this album is ultra-polished and goes down like sweet wine. Quality stuff!

Spyro Gyra - Down The Wire (2009)
After all these years Spyro Gyra still deliver top-notch contemporary jazz, this one is another strong album full of great tracks and superior musicianship. Don't miss it!

Jeff Cascaro - Mother And Brother (2008)
Some soulful singing over warm, contempo grooves featuring singer Jeff Cascaro, pushing all the right buttons sending you a shiver down your spine. Oozes class!

Lyman Woodard - Saturday Night Special (Wax Poetics Re-Release, 1975)
WaxPoetics re-release this sought after gem by organist Lyman Woodard on a limited run of 1500 hand-numbered double LP sets, so rush out and get your copy of this legendary jazz-funk gem now for the first time offered in its entirety. Essential stuff!

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Break It Down’ by Criss Starr from the EP On The Keys. This hypnotic cut is quite simply the most amazing 5 minutes and 34 seconds of mellow jazz fusion you will hear this year.

‘Forget Me Knots’ by Darren Rahn from his CD Talk Of The Town. When not pursuing his increasingly successful solo career, Rahn is very much part of the band DeNate. In fact he recently joined what previously was the pairing of keyboard player Nate Harasim and vocalist Deborah Connors after playing a part in their debut CD Reminsce. Here the duo makes a memorable appearance on this outrageously off the chain rendition of Patrice Rushens seminal tune.

‘Eleanor Rigby’ by Vail Johnson from his album Come Together. Johnson is best known as Kenny Gs touring bass playing and the great man pops up to lend a hand on this chilled out version of the Lennon & McCartney classic.

‘Miss You’ by Leela James from the album Let's Do It Again. In the organic setting of a live studio Leela uses this Rolling Stones mega hit to deliver what is likely be one of the best covers of 2009.

‘Fresh From The Groove’ from sax-man Dominic Amato's self titled album. This feisty uplifting track has an infectious hook and all the rhythm and melody you will ever need.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 4:36 PM

February 28, 2009

What We're Listening To ** February

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘On For You’ by up and coming vocalist Douye from her debut album Journey. This outrageously infectious cut glides atop a deliciously languid mid tempo beat and is blessed by the playing of guitarist Jeff Prescetto who also lends a hand on background vocals.

‘Hold On Tight’ by Boney James from his brand new CD Send One Your Love. Moody and dappled with a subtle string arrangement this delicious track is contemporary jazz how it’s meant to be.

‘Sun Diego’ by guitarist Patrick Yandall from his soon to be released album A New Day. With sunshine dripping from every note, and a horn infused feel good factor that is off the scale, the smooth playing of this San Diego resident sums up the sumptuous vibe that is synonymous with the sun soaked locality he calls home.

‘Lucy The Cat’ by Paul Jackson Jr from his upcoming new release Lay It Back. Co-produced by Jackson and the always excellent Jeff Lorber, this stunning mid tempo cut is a standout in an album jam packed full with them.

Taken from the brand new DVD David Sanborn Live at Montreux 1984, the nostalgia filled ‘Hideaway’ is a startling reminder of the impact the legendary Sanborn has had on contemporary jazz over the past thirty years.

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

Yuji Ohno & Friends, Lupin The Third: Jazz  Bossa & Fusion (Vap) (2002)

Kenny Wright & Fresh Groove, Bottle of Wine (Knee-Deep Records) (1998)

Passport, Earthborn (Wounded Bird Records) (2001)

Passport, Man in the Mirror (Wounded Bird Records) (2001)

Club 1600 and Rex Rideout, Ridin' High (Encoded Music)  (2002)

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

Denny Jiosa, Dreams Like This (Sonic Canvas Records):  This refined smooth jazz guitarist with a real “touch” puts forward a sterling effort with this stirring dose of smooth jazz, with a touch of straight-ahead thrown in for good measure.

Nate Harasim, Love's Taken Over (NuGroove Music): Harasim's fluid, buoyant style ebbs and flows as the mood calls for it, bouncing where that honky tonk-like bounce is the order of the moment, and waxing soft and melodic at other points in this fine production.

Eldredge Jackson, Listening Pleasure (JEA Records):  Here’s a young saxophonist who embraces, caresses, massages, and gets the most from each and every passionate note that he belts out, combining flawless scale work and that soulful touch that just cannot be taught to mold what surely deserves to be among the top-tier productions in smooth jazz today. 

Mars Lasar, At the End of the Day (Sound Manipulations): I hear an interesting blend of Hardcastle and Paolo Rustichelli styles that make for a truly enriching listening experience, complete with rousing melodies. Look for my full review of this artist and album shortly!

David Boswell, I Like That (My Quiet Moon Records): A hot blend of serious fusion with a style combining the likes of  Mike Stern, The Yellowjackets, and Pat Metheny. Look for the full review of this one shortly, as well.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Masato Honda - Across The Groove (2008)
Japanese saxophonist Masato Honda is an original member of the fusion supergroup T-Square, on this release from 2008 he teams up with most of Fourplay (Bob James, Nathan East and Harvey Mason) plus guitarist Mike Miller to deliver a great contemporary jazz album on the highest level. Stunning!

Boney James - Send One Your Love (2009)
Another incredibly smooth and sensual album by saxophonist Boney James hitting all the right buttons with its sultry playing and laidback grooves. I just can't get enough of this artist! Smooth jazz bliss!

Jeff Kashiwa - Back In The Day (2009)
Brand new release by saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa - who won a large fan base as member of the Rippingtons and the Sax Pack - delivers an album full of catchy tracks, superior playing and contemporary grooves. It doesn't get much better than this!

Cecil Ramirez - Talk To The Hand (2008)
Keyboardist Cecil Ramirez is a smooth jazz pianist located in California, this is an outstanding CD full of memorable tracks and great playing, very much in the vein of Brian Culbertson, so you should definitely check him out!

Masaru Imada - Tropical Sunset (1981)
As usual I would like to point out a great LP from the past. Japanese pianist Masaru Imada deliviered this fusion gem in 1981, featuring players like the Breckers Brothers, Grover Washington Jr., Steve Khan and others. Well worth to go back to!

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Brian Tarquin, Brian Tarquin Collection (NuGoove)

Various Artists, Hot Buttered Jazz: Celebrating the Music of Isaac Hayes (Shanachie)

Patrick Yandall, A New Day (Patrick Yandall)

Vail Johnson, Come Together (Swede Song)

Jeff Kashiwa, Back in the Day (Shanachie)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:13 PM

February 2, 2009

What We're Listening To ** January

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

Kenny Garrett, Simply Said (Warner Bros. Records Inc., / WEA International) (1999)

Jeff Lorber, Heard That (Peak Records) (2008)

Pat Metheny, Water Colors (Polygram Records) (2000)

Pat Metheny & Anna Maria Jopek, Upojenie (Nonesuch) (2008)

Jamhunters, Music Speaks Louder Than Words (2008)

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Sweet Lady’ by Tower of Power keyboard player Roger Smith from his solo CD Sittin In. Smith never ever disappoints and this slinky slice of sumptuous R & B shimmers with understated vocals from Derek Allen and Connie Law, wonderful sax by the superb Norbert Stachel and an unmistakable sample from Shuggie Otis’s seminal ‘Strawberry Letter 23’. One is left to ponder whether or not, if smooth jazz radio was playing more tracks like this would it really be in the trouble it is today?

‘Come What May’ by Najee from his 2007 album Rising Sun. Najee has, in his own jazzily smooth way, been making terrific music for over twenty years and this chilled out track is right up there with the best.

‘Chill Or Be Chilled’ by the UK’s own Oli Silk from his brand new release The Limit’s The Sky. Smooth jazz keyboard really doesn’t get better than this and Silk’s sensuous yet funky style marks him out as the natural successor to Brian Culbertson.

‘Window Of The Soul’ by Chuck Loeb. Originally from Loeb’s current album Presence it can also be found on the 2009 smooth jazz sampler from KIFN 98.1 San Diego and is an absolute joy.

‘Xmas In July’ by Luba Mason from her soon to be released Krazy Love. Made yet more memorable by the excellent guitar of Sandro Albert this tender track is another huge step on Mason’s journey into the world of sophisticated contemporary cross-over jazz.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Paul Jackson, Jr. - Lay It Back (2008)
This is the latest solo release by guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr., independently released, but nevertheless providing some more great funky playing on the highest level and flawless production, featuring artists like Jeff Lorber and Bobby Lyle. Very recommended!

Fred Engler - Since Then 'Till Now (2008)
Composer/keyboardist Tom Engelr hails from Toronto, he went into the studio with some of the best local players and came up with this smooth jazz gem, saxophonist Andy Snitzer guests. Two thumbs up!

Jeff Hackworth - What A Wonderful World (1999)
Saxophonist Jeff Hackworth did this cooking organ-trio session in 1999, it features drums, hammond B3 and his soulful sax playing, I had a ball listening to these bluesy and funky numbers. A breath of fresh air!

Keith Marks - In It (2008)
Great funky flute sounds over a contemporary backdrop, with outstanding keyboard & piano solos by Ray Chew and a selection of classic material (like "Ain't Nobody" and "Ooh Child") make this one a winner. You will love it!

Bill Meyers & David Benoit - The Invitation From L.A. (1990)
Those two keyboardists and arrangers romp through a selection of hits of the day which is top notch due to the fact the very best of L.A.'s session players are part of this album. Hunt it down if you can!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:45 PM

December 22, 2008

What We're Listening To ** December

P E T E R * B O E H I

NuGroove Records: Grooves For The Season (2008)
Sold via the label's website and Circuit City, this truly groovy selection of Christmas carols played by the label's roster of artists (Jay Soto, Gail Jhonson, Michael Lington, Bob Baldwin, Steve Oliver, Michael Manson, Shilts and more) delivers some very fine music which is just perfect for this time of the year. Dance around the Christmas tree!

Dotsero - A Season Of Wonder (2008)
This contemporary jazz band from Denver, CO comes up with a great holiday album featuring the band grooving over some really hot arrangements, they are one of my favorite bands and this CD has been a welcome addition to my holiday albums. The packaging will put a smile on your face!

Don Immel - Long Way Home (2008)
Trombone player Don Immel floored me with this ultra-smooth and polished album, offering cool grooves and nice playing, his slowed down and chilled version of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" has to be heard to be believed. Very recommended!

Alex Lattimore - Promise (2008)
Singer Alex Lattimore has a velvety voice reminiscent of Will Downing going down like sweet wine, the music is laid-back, jazzy and very classy, an absolute gem that stands out and makes you feel good. This one will caress your soul!

Hagood Hardy Orchestra - Mystic Morning (1985)
As usual a nod to the past with this Japan-only LP from 1985 by pianist Hagood Hardy who delivers a lush, laid-back orchestral album with crystal clear production and flawless playing by the jazzy band. If you like the Belair Strings, this one will be right up your alley!

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Grady Nichols, Take Me With You (Grady Nichols): The Oklahoma saxophonist returns with another strong effort.

Incognito, More Tales Remixed (Heads Up): A groovin' time will be had by all.

Eldredge Jackson, Listening Pleasure (JEA): The CD by the saxophonist is produced by Wayman Tisdale.

Jeff Lorber, Heard That (Peak): Funky stuff from the keys master.

The Terry Disley Experience, The Jazzcracker & Other Delights (Disleyworld): Former Acoustic Alchemy pianist swings with the season.

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

J-Mood, A Midnight Clear (Blue Canoe Records) (2008)

BK Jackson, On The Move ( (2008)

Jazz Crusaders, Kick The Jazz (Wmgw Records) (2008)

The Slow Club Quartet, Expressionism (2008)

Dotsero, A Season of Wonder ( (2008)

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Overnight Success’ by Angie Whitney from the CD That’s What Love Is All About. Urban tinged, classically soulful and with a string arrangement that is stunning, this wondrous tune from vocalist Whitney has an intoxicating vibe and overall is destined to become one my top twenty tracks of the year.

‘Practice Makes Perfect’ by the sensational Dionyza from her debut album Quite Like Me. The daughter of legendary Motown singer-songwriters Michael and Brenda Sutton delivers a fresh takes on a melodic soul theme that really flows. In every respect it is a complete gem.

‘Golden Love Light’ by Pete Gitlin from his latest project Full Circle And The Great Temptation. Rolling atop a delicious mid tempo groove, and with vocals from keyboard player Rachel Eckroth that are really something special, this is without doubt the real smooth jazz deal.

‘Christmas Bells Medley’ by the outstanding DeNate from the nuGroove Christmas compilation Grooves For The Season. DeNate has been one of the finds of 2008 and here this fine duo of keyboard player Nate Harasim and vocalist Deborah Connors has never sounded better. Grooves For The Season is the best seasonal album of the year and makes you wish that Christmas could last forever.

Finally, for 2008, ‘Dove’ by Grady Nichols from his brand new album, Take Me With You. This tight and urgent rendition of the one of 2003’s best club classics takes contemporary jazz into an area where it might just engender a new generation of listeners. Sax-man Nichols looks to have a bright future.

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

The Rippingtons, 20th Anniversary, 2006.

Gerald Veasley, Your Move, 2008

Josh Groban, Live at the Greek, 2004

Basia, Sweetest Illusion, 1994

Jeff Golub, Dangerous Curves, 2000

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

Oli Silk, The Limit's the Sky (Tripp N Rhythm Music): Can one have a more apropos name than Silk for some of the smoothest, tightest keyboard jazz combined with solidly “toothy” funk? Find it all here with Oli Silk’s latest, a continuing voyage along the sea of quality.

Les Sabler, Sweet Drive (The Music Force Media Group): Cool, vibrant guitar licks and chords highlight this worthy project by seasoned guitarist Les Sabler who’s brought in a host of smooth jazz luminaries like Eric Marienthal, Jeff Lorber, Brian Bromberg, just to name a few, to help with the tasty ingredients for this magnificent recipe of aural treats.

The Quiet Storm Players, After Hours (Calvin Records): Sweet, relaxing covers from a duo that obviously has more than a finger on the heartbeat and soul of smooth jazz. Some Sade tunes are included and well-represented here, as are selections from Earth, Wind & Fire, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, and the Isley Brothers. This album, soaked in romance, will surely stoke the fires of love.

Brian Oneal, Daisy (BCO Media): Keyboardist Brian Oneal ushers in a generous set of 14 original “smoothers” for your listening pleasure. If melody is your thing, you’ll certainly find it here in abundance. Each tune is carved out in catchy hooks and finesse that is guaranteed to find favor among even the most discriminating tastes.

Jason Miles, Soul Summit (Shananchie Records): This live soulful extravaganza, presented here by the man who brought us back-to-back tasteful tributes to the late great Grover Washington, Jr., takes place at the Berks Jazz Fest. It features great covers of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, and others. It receives contributions from many of our most notable artists, including the graceful Maysa, sax giant Richard Elliott, and Susan Tedechi. Jason Miles is clearly on a roll!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:00 PM

November 30, 2008

What We're Listening To ** November

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

Brian Culbertson, Bringing Back the Funk (GRP/Verve): Heavy synths, thick and bottomless bass lines, demanding drum thrusts, slicing and harmonically perfect horn arrangements, and personality all mark this “down & dirty,” collaborative mega-funk tribute by this master keyboardist.

Douye, Journey (Independent release): Newcomer Douye’s debut album comes loaded with splendid melodies and rhythms, colored perfectly with her oh-so-fine vocals. Such a combination is usually a success, and Douye is here to add an exclamation point to that assertion.

Jeff Foxx, Jeff Foxx (Jeff Foxx/Nerraj Records): New York radio DJ and bassist Jeff Foxx launches his self-titled debut album, bringing with it fiery funk, smooth soul caresses and the general sense that this artist/radio personality thoroughly enjoys what he's doing

Jonathan Butler, Live in South Africa (Rendezvous Records): A homecoming of monumental proportions, this album does serious justice to the man, his music, his story, and his life as one of the most buoyant and talented artists around.

Steffen Kuehn, Trumpop (Stefrecords): Trumpeter Steffen Kuehn unleashes sheer silkiness on pillow-soft, serene, yet head-bopping and moving jazz melodies.

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band, Act Your Age (Immegent): A tasty wall of sound produced by Lee Ritenour.

Jonathan Fritzen, Love Birds (Nordic Nights): Mellow pop-piano sounds a la Brian Culbertson.

David Benoit, Jazz For Peanuts: A Retrospective of the Charlie Brown Television Themes (Peak): Good ol' David Benoit has done it again with six new tracks, three composed by Benoit and three by Vince Guaraldi and performed by Benoit. Other goodies abound.

Walter Beasley, Free Your Mind (Heads Up): Smooth jazz from the Berklee College of Music professor and saxophonist.

Jamhunters, Music Speaks Louder Than Words (Gateway): "The Pier" is one of the top songs of year. The Denmark duo throw in plenty of playfulness - including vocal hooklines and speaking parts - to spice up the groove. Great music.

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

Steve Oliver, One Night Live [LIVE] (Nu Groove Records) (2008)

Nick Colionne, No Limits (Koch Records) (2008)

Pat Metheny, Tokyo Day Trip - Live EP [EP] [LIVE] (Nonesuch) (2008)

Eric Darius, Goin' All Out (Blue Note Records) (2008)

Chick Corea, The Elektric Band (Grp Records) (1990)

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘You Got Something’ by Jeff Lorber from his current CD Heard That. With a lavish veneer of horns from Gary Meek and Ron King, a mid tempo vibe to die for plus the subtlest of vocals from Phillip ‘Taj’ Jackson, this could well be the hottest urban jazz cut of the year so far.

‘Lets Figure It Out’ by the wonderful Maysa from her latest album Metamorphosis. Nick Colionne leads off what proves to be a staggering three minute ten second guitar introduction and with production in the expert hands of Chris Davis this superb slice of chill out music evolves into a feisty dance floor filler.

The sensational ‘Soft And Warm’ by Marcus Johnson from his FLO (for The Love Of Romance) collection. The sumptuous vibe and exquisite vocal interpretation by Alyson Williams of this song that first featured on her own 2004 Three Keys recording ‘Its About Time’ is everything and more that great urban jazz should be.

‘Missin’ You’ by DeNate from the album Reminsce. This incredibly turned down gem by duo Deborah Conners and Nate Harasim finds Connors in typically sultry mode on vocals while Harasim is picture perfect on keys. Michael Powell makes an understated, yet colossal, contribution on guitar and already this is certain to be one of my top tracks of 2008.

‘How Could You Break My Heart’ by Bobby Womack from the brand new compilation by Jazz FM The Sound Of Jazz FM 2008. A major feature of previous incarnations this revered radio station was its legendary compilations of smooth jazz and soul CD’s. Now back and transmitting on digital and online it has lost little time in resurrecting these excellent samplers. In fact all thirty tracks are wonderful representations of the evolution of soul tinged contemporary jazz over the last twenty something years.

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Brian Simpson, Above the Clouds

Harry Hmura, Passion

Rippingtons, Best of

Acoustic Alchemy, Radio Contact

Gerald Veasley, At the Jazz Base

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:45 PM

October 31, 2008

What We're Listening To ** October

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Dave Koz, Greatest Hits (Capitol): Four new songs make this CD worth your collection, and the best is the new smooth jazz single "Life in the Fast Lane."

Tom Grant, Life Is Good (NuWrinkle): The veteran pianist returns with his first new smooth jazz collection in years that reminds you how much he's been missed.

The Millennium Promise Jazz Project feat. Kirk Whalum, Promises Made (Koch): This benefit for Africans in need of survival tools is led by Kirk Whalum, with assists from Earl Klugh and George Duke. Familiar tunes include "Stand By Me," "Eleanor Rigby" and "What's Going On."

Milton Nascimento Jobim Trio, Novas Bossas (Blue Note): A must-have for lovers of the Brazilian icon with the sweet voice, featuring Daniel Jobim, Paulo Braga, Paulo Jobim and Rodrigo Villa.

Toninho Horta, To Jobim With Love (Resonance): An all-star cast, including Bob Mintzer, Gal Costa and Gary Peacok, join guitarist Toninho Horta for this swinging set.

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

Buddy Rich & the Big Band Machine, Speak No Evil (Wounded Bird Records) (2008)

Fourplay, Energy (Heads Up) (2008)

Gerald Albright, Sax for Stax (Peak Records) (2008)

Michael Ray Tyler, Grazing The Land  (2008)

Craig Pilo, Just Play  (Rue De La Harpe) (2007

P E T E R * B O E H I

Mark Barrios - West Tampa Style (2008)
Cool and groovy latin jazz guitar player reminding me of Carlos Santana in parts, but definitely in a laid-back smooth jazz setting. Every track is a winner!

Roger Smith - Sittin' In (2008)
Keyboardist Roger Smith delivers an outstanding album full of groovy urban tracks and top-notch keyboard playing, excellently recorded and produced. Thumbs up!

Sekou Bunch - The Next Level (2008)
This is album by bassist Sekou Bunch boasts great guest artists (Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Sheila E, Everette Harp and others) and artistry on the highest level, the cover of Ramsey's "Sun Goddess" is a winner. Very recommended!

Nick Colionne - No Limits (2008)
This guitarist can do no wrong. His latest release is another gem full of great songs and guitar playing, his song "Melting Into You" is a future classic. What a talent!

Kenny Pore - Inner City Dreams (1984), You Don't Know Me (1985), At This Moment (1987)
Going back in time, this guitarist and composer/producer delivered a string of albums in the 80ies that are classics of the genre. By employing the best LA session players the results are simply outstanding, especially the heart wrenching sax solos of Brandon Fields are a treat. The records were re-released on the Sessions Vol. 1 & 2 CD which have gone out of print in the meantime. Magical moments!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 2:17 PM

June 29, 2008

What We're Listening To * June

P E T E R * B O E H I

Howard Isaacson - Blue Skies (2008)
Saxophonist Howard Isaacson delivers a beautiful smooth jazz album full of memorable tracks and outstanding playing that warms your soul. Don't overlook this gem!

Al Turner - Movin' (2008)
Bass player Al Turner delivers a great smooth jazz with catchy songs and some top-notch guests like Everette Harp, Paul Jackson Jr. and Earl Klugh. Thumbs up!

Kyle Wolverton - Soul Groove (2008)
A gutsy tenor sax and a nicely grooving band yield some great results, this player is a welcome addition to the smooth jazz scene. Check him out!

David Benoit - Heroes (2008)
Pianist David Benoit is still going strong after all these years, his latest album is a stunning collection of his interpretation of songs from the "heroes" that influenced him musically, ranging from The Beatles to Horace Silver. Unmissable!

Dave Valentin - Land Of The Third Eye (1980)
And as usual a nod to a classic album of the past, this time flautist Dave Valentin's "Land Of The Third Eye" that is pure GRP magic that stood the test of time. Oh, those memories...

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

Kevin Kooyumjian, Monterey Style! (Kevin Kooyumjian) (2005)

Chris Standring, Love and Paragraphs (Ultimate Vibe Recordings) (2008)

Voodoo Village, Sleight of Hand (Forty West) (2008)

The Sax Pack, The Sax Pack (Shanachie Entertainment) (2008)

Yosuke Onuma, Beautiful Day [IMPORT] (2007)

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Nnenna Freelon, Better Than Anything: The Quintessential Nnenna Freelon (Concord Jazz)

Brian Culbertson, Bringing Back the Funk (GRP)

Lizz Wright, The Orchard (Verve)

David Benoit, Heroes (Peak)

Steve Oliver, One Night Live (Nu Groove)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Michael Lington, A Song For You, Rendevous, 2006.

Gil Parris, Strength, 215 Records, 2006.

Richard Smith, Puma Creek, Chase Music, 1993.

3rd Force, Driving Force, Higher Octave, 2005.

Grover Washington, Jr., Mister Magic, Motown, 1974.

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Ottmar Liebert + Luna Negra, The Scent of Light (SSRI): The veteran flamenco guitarist returns with his best full-band sound in quite a few years. Pick track: "Up Close: Embrace."

Jamhunters, Music Speaks Louder Than Words (Gateway): Cool chill, vocals and smooth flavors from Danish lads Lars Fabiansen and Peter Michael. There must be something good in the water in Denmark.

The Dan Siegel Project, Fables (Dan Siegel/Native Language): Worth it just for "Celestial Bodies." Siegel has updated songs from three new age classics, with help from Michael Lington, Tony Guerrero, Allen Hinds, Abraham Laboriel and Nadia Freeman. Sublime.

Various artists, Grooves From the Edge (NuGroove): The resurrected smooth jazz label offers a sampler of its artists, including Jay Soto, Bob Baldwin, Michael Manson and Dee Brown, available exclusively at Circuit City.

Sergio Mendes, Encanto (Concord/Starbucks): More updated classics and a few new Brazilian grooves from the master, featuring Natalie Cole, Herb Alpert, Fergie, Ledisi and others.

T H E * J A Z Z * G Y P S Y

SOMETHING OLD: To pay homage to the standard bearers
Ornette Coleman Something Else!!! The Music of Ornette Coleman (Ojc, 1958)

SOMETHING NEW: To remind me not to despise small beginnings
Esperanza Spaulding Esperanza (Heads Up, 2008)

SOMETHING CONTEMPORARY: To keep me forever young
Gerald Albright Sax for Stax (Peak Records, 2008)

SOMETHING FEMALE: To keep me bonded with my sisterhood
Dee Dee Bridgewater Red Earth (Emarcy / Umg, 2007)

SOMETHING FROM AFRICA: To nourish my cultural heritage
Seun Anikulapo Kuti Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 (Disorient, 2008)

D E N I S * P O O L E

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 4:28 PM

May 30, 2008

What We're Listening To ** May

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Denny Jiosa, Dreams Like This (Sonic Canvas): The veteran guitarist returns, finally, with an exceptional work featuring a new version of the classic "Sunny" with original vocalist Bobby Hebb scatting along.

Tony Guerrero, Apasionado (Native Language): The trumpeter's love for Latin music is realized with assists from Eric Marienthal, Brian Bromberg, Jeff Kashiwa, Grant Geissman and others. Highly recommended.

The Terry Disley Experience, London Underground (Disleyworld): The former Acoustic Alchemy keyboardist is a favorite in the San Francisco contemporary jazz scene. This album explains why. Listen to "Miramar" and get swept away.

David Benoit, Heroes (Peak): This is the way you do cover albums: in your own style, with lots of flair. Benoit covers an ecletic mix of artists in a jazzy and acoustic setting.

Sergio Mendes, Encanto (Concord/Starbucks): "The Look of Love," "Funky Bahia," "Waters of March," "Morning in Rio," "Agua de Beber." Fergie, Ledisi, Juanes, Natalie Cole. Delightful Brazilian music from a master, with some dazzling updates.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Tom Scott - Cannon Re-Loaded (2008)
This is saxophonist Tom Scott's tribute the the great Cannonball Adderley revisiting many of his classic compositions, delivered with style and class employing an all-star cast. Delicious!

Yosuke Onuma - Beautiful Day (2008)
Japanese guitarist Yosuke Onuma plays more in the fusion idiom, but his playing is cool and groovy, I really like his music. Check it out!

Neil Larsen - Orbit (2007)
Keyboardist Neil Larsen is back, supported by guitarist Robben Ford and an all-star band, on this great new live album where he covers several of his old classics. Not to be missed!

Bradley Leighton - Soul Collective (2008)
Flautist Bradley Leighton teams up with some of the best players and comes up with a top-notch and groovy smooth jazz album. Two thumbs up!

Jeff Lorber Fusion - Soft Space (1978)
Classic early Jeff Lorber music with Joe Farrell and Chick Corea guesting, for the first time released on CD, along with his debut album just called "Jeff Lorber Fusion". Cool to see them eventually out on CD!

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

Steve Laury, New Steve Laury (Super400music) (2006)

Citrus Sun, Another Time Another Space (Heads Up) (2001)

Brian Culbertson, Bringing Back the Funk (Grp Records) (2008)

Neil Larsen, Orbit (Straight Ahead Records) (2007)

Bradley Leighton, Soul Collective (Pacific Coast Jazz) (2008)

D E N I S * P O O L E

"She’s All That" by Bob Baldwin from the CD New Urban Jazz. With Marion Meadows immense on sax, Ragan Whiteside adding her usual spine tingling flute and Baldwin’s keys always smooth yet often edgy, this is as good an example of ¡in the pocket¢ contemporary jazz as will be found anywhere.

"When It Rains" by Darryl Williams from the album That Was Then. Reggie Smith features on sax and this foot tapping delight is certain to make it onto my 'best list' of 2008.

"Pacific Breeze" by Gail Jhonson from her latest CD Pearls. Here this underrated keyboard player has come up with an absolute gem.

"Bring It On" by Michael Manson from his album Up Front. This feisty and uplifting chunk of smooth jazz is enhanced even further by the contribution of Paul Jackson Jr on guitar and a stunning piano solo from the legendary George Duke. Darren Rahn produces, plays sax and is joined by his brother Jason on trumpet.

"A Cosmic Love Song" by Frank Felix And The FU Express from his debut album Tales From The Funky Underground. Blessed by a fine guitar solo from Miles Gilderdale this is an extremely edgy a slice of contemporary jazz.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Steve Tyrell, Back To Bacharach (Koch)

Chris Bennett, Girl Talk (Chris Bennett Music)

Al Green, Lay It Down (Blue Note)

Brian Culbertson, Bringing Back The Funk (GRP)

Nick Colionne, No Limits (Koch)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Warren Hill, La Dolce Vita, (Koch Records, to be released June 24th, 2008) Warren’s first studio album since 2005’s PopJazz. This CD has an awesome list of co-stars, including Nathan East, Paul Jackson, Jr., guitarist Dean Parks and drummer Ricky Lawson (both of whom played with Steely Dan), keyboardist Greg Phillingaines (Michael Jackson, Toto, Quincy Jones) and Koch recording artists Jeff Golub and Philippe Saisse. Warren couldn’t go wrong with this line-up. The opening track will perk you up with its great rhythm and the second will keep you there with its soulful sound, and so it goes, you won’t be taking this one out of your player any time soon. A masterpiece.

Nick Colionne, No Limits, (Koch Records, to be released July 8th, 2008) Nick gave us a taste at the Berks Jazz Festival in March of some of the tunes on here. There are many tunes which could again propel him to the top of the charts, as did his ‘Always Thinking of You,’ from his last album, Keepin’ It Cool, which stayed on the R & R charts for 45 weeks! I can attest to the fact that you will melt when you hear him sing ‘Melting Into You.’ Nick’s a great vocalist in addition to that awesome playing, not to mention his continuing hold on being the most debonair dresser.

Gil Parris and Friends in Concert, DVD, Gil and his friends delivered on this DVD, taken in NYC at the Irvington Town Hall Theatre. Paul Schaeffer of the David Letterman show, David Mann, producer of Gil’s latest CD Strength, Randy Brecker, Grammy nominated trumpet player, and vocalists Vanesse Williams and Tommy “Pipes” McDonnell all contribute to an awesome show. Interestingly, Gil is introduced by Carolyn Kepcher, of The Apprentice show with Donald Trump – as she explains, she first heard Gil play at a club where she was a waitress. How far they have both come!

Paul Jackson, Jr., Never Alone - Duets, (Blue Note, 1996) A classic CD of our American Idol guitarist, featuring artists Earl Kugh, Gerald Albright, Najee, Tom Scott, Joe Sample, George Duke, Jeff Lorber, and many others. Paul has a couple of great songs on here that he composed, along with covers People Get Ready, Soulful Strut, Where is the Love, Let’s Start Again, a nice compilation and arrangement of these familiar tunes.

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 6:36 AM

April 30, 2008

What We're Listening To * April

P E T E R * B O E H I

Derwin Daniels - Journey (2007)
Saxophone player Derwin Daniels delivers a really smooth instrumental album full of catchy melodies and contemporary grooves, well produced and well played, definitely worthy of your time. Check it out!

Bohm Witman Project - My Funny Valentine (2008)
Trumpeter Jim Bohm and saxophonist Ken Witman present their debut CD, a groove-oriented acoustic jazz recording with spirited soloing and a good selection of material, they even tackle "Funkin' For Jamaica". Very recommended!

Dirk K - Dirk K Plays Jobim (2008)
Guitar player Dirk K dishes up some mighty fine acoustic guitar playing interpreting the music of Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, the gentle bossa tunes in a contemporary jazz setting are a breath of fresh air.

Jamhunters - Music Speaks Louder Than Words (2008)
This great band hails from Copenhagen and comes up with a polished, groovy and ultra-cool contemporary jazz album with lots of chill/lounge elements, the band is fronted by Peter Michael on keys and Lars Fabiansen on guitar who deliver some outstanding solos. Thumbs up!

Rodney Franklin - You'll Never Know (1980)
Going down memory lane I would like to point out this beautiful album by keyboard player Rodney Franklin that has become a true classic, the track "The Groove" is one of my all-time favorites, it has been released on CD (along with "In The Center") so get it and be delighted again!

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

Tom Scott, Cannon Re-Loaded (Concord Records) (2008)

Jessy J, Tequila Moon (Peak Records) (2008)

Dee Brown, No Time to Waste (Nu Groove Records) (2007)

Afro Elements, It Remains to Be Seen (Freestyle) (2008)

Bob Baldwin, (Nu Groove Records) (2008)

D E N I S * P O O L E

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Chris Standring, Love and Paragraphs

Brian Culbertson, Bringing Back The Funk

Mindi Abair, Stars

Jessy J, Tequila Moon

Michael McDonald, Soul Speak.

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Gerald Veasley, Your Move, 2008

Rippingtons, The Best of the Rippingtons, 1995

Chieli Minucci, Slice of Life

Gil Parris, Strength

Wayman Tisdale, Way Up

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Brian Culbertson, Bringing Back the Funk (Verve)

Chris Standring, Love & Paragraphs (Ultimate Vibes)

Sam Barsh, I Forgot What You Taught Me (RazDaz)

Gerald Veasley, Your Move (Heads Up)

Lawson Rollins, Infinita (Infinita)

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 12:30 PM

March 9, 2008

What We're Listening To ** February

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Ed Johnson & Novo Tempo, The Other Road (Cumulus): Original Brazilian music from the Bay Area. None finer these days.

Michael Manson, Up Front (NuGroove): The bassist reworks some older songs and creates some new ones. If you like Wayman Tisdale, you'll love this.

John Tropea, Take Me Back to the Ol’ School (STP): Veteran guitarist John Tropea's music is true to the CD's title, with exceptional covers of a re-harmonized “Let’s Get It On” and a jazzy take on “The Long and Winding Road” with Lalah Hathaway.

Randy Muller, Boom Chang Bang, Groovin’ U (Wavehill): Veteran musician and flutist Randy Muller has created an urban smooth jazz CD the right way. He includes a new, soulful version of his disco hit with Skyy, “Call Me.”

Irene and Her Latin Jazz Band, Summer Samba (Irene Nachreiner): I'm a sucker for Brazilian music, and any CD with "Summer Samba," "So Danco Samba," "One Note Samba" AND "Besame Mucho" has got to be worth a listen. Los Angeles native Irene Nachreiner has a nice, airy voice to complement the classics. Recommended.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Al Williams III - Heart Song (2008)
Beautiful, smooth and soulful saxophone playing in a contemporary setting, very well done and absolutely up to par with the best. Very recommended!

Rick Braun & Richard Elliot - R n R (2007)
These two guys are a match made in heaven, they blend so well together delivering their great brand of groovy playing with a live feel and top-notch artistry. They are in a class of their own!

Nate Harasim - Next In Line (2007)
Keyboardist Nate Harasim is a recent newcomer and this album full of groovy, catchy tracks and great piano playing is an absolute gem. Two thumbs up!

Gerald Veasley - Your Move (2008)
Finally a new release by this truly outstanding bass playing that doesn't disappoint. Groovy tracks delivered by a good band yield some superior results. Take it from me!

Jason Miles presents: Soul Summit - Live At The Berks Jazz Fest (2008)
This is a live recording from last year's Berks Jazz Fest of the "Soul Summit" night under the guidance of Jason Miles, this truly remarkable concert is a joy from beginning to end. I have attended this concert, but only in hindsight I realize the brilliance of those world-class players, the level of musicianship on display is just awesome.

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

Pat Metheny Trio, Day Trip (Nonesuch) (2008)

Metro, Express (Marsis Jazz) (2007)

Patti Austin, Intimate Patti Austin (Mosaic Contemporary) (2007)

Marcus Miller, Free (Jvc Victor) (2007)

Poogie Bell Band, Get on the Kit (Jvc Japan) (2007)

D E N I S * P O O L E
‘Soul Town’, by Neil Warden from his stunning new collection Blue Soul Groove. Guitar man Warden hails from Scotland and the chilled out vibe he generates with the sax of John Burgess is a feature of this smoky track. The tune is further enhanced by the featured keys of Ronnie Rae Jr.

‘First Time’ by Danny Lerman from his fresh new CD, Meow Baby. This mid-tempo delight strides along on Lerman’s rhythmic melodic playing and, with keyboards from Fred Cron that are just right, is simply as good as it gets.

‘Funktuation’ by Ragan Whiteside from her latest release Class Axe. A zesty yet hypnotic neo soul vibe provides flautist Whiteside with the opportunity to demonstrate her stellar playing which here, expertly coupled with understated backing vocals, really stands out from the crowd.

‘Liquid Soul’ by Chris Standring from his soon to be released CD Love and Paragraphs. This tender tune glides like magic atop its own hypnotic beat and, in every respect, is the stuff of which musical dreams are made.

‘Pimp Talk’ by Cynthia Layne from her breakthrough album Beautiful Soul. This sultry smoker shimmers with tight bass from Eugene McGee and terrific keys from Reggie Bishop. Even at this early stage there is little doubt it will remain as one of the best tracks of 2008.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Kenny G, Rhythm & Romance (Concord/Starbucks Entertainment)

Jaared, Addiction (Trippin N Rhythm)

Paul Hardcastle, Hardcastle 5 (Trippin N Rhythm)

Jessy J, Tequila Moon (Peak Records)

Cannon Reloaded: All Star Celebration of Cannonball Adderley (Concord)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Chris Geith, Timeless World, 2008. A wonderful release by Chris Geith, who's already made a great impression on many listeners. This one is full of energy and warmth, compelling movement, and a touch of mystery -- all living up to the essence of a title that takes us beyond the typical. The CD is further enhanced by the inclusion of 'Restless Heart,' favorite from an earlier CD and simply the most stunning rendition I've heard of 'Have I Told You Lately.'

Michael Manson, Up Front, featuring a host of well-known artists; Ray Fuller, Norman Brown, Tom Braxton, Michael White,Lenny Castro, Steve Cole, George Duke, Kirk Whalum, Rick Braun, Jeff Lorber, Najee and Paul Jackson Jr.

Chieli Minucci, Jewels. Always a favorite, this CD shows a side of Chieli some of you may not know. Don't miss out on adding it to your collection.

Scott Wilkes, Boundless. Featuring Nathan Brown, Russ Freeman, Paul Jackson, Jr., Jeff Kashiwa, David Owens, John Patitucii, Steve Reid, Matthew Von Doran.

Donald Fagan, Kamikiriad

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 12:49 AM

January 28, 2008

What We're Listening To * January

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Donald Fagan's The Nightfly Trilogy, 2008. Three CD set with everything from IGY to his newest compositions. You must know that Donald Fagan is half of Steely Dan, and all of Donald Fagan, of course!

Richard Smith, Puma Creek. What a great listen from a great guitarist who now teaches guitar at Southern Cal.

Jay Rowe, Red, Hot and Smooth. Jay is truly hot on this CD. I love him on keyboards and his piano playing is really superb, lots of energy always, with Jay.

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

January Picks

Kenny G, Rhythm & Romance (Concord/Starbucks Entertainment): The saxophonist's best CD in years finds him stretching out a bit on the horn. A nice accompaniment to your extra-hot latte.

Paul Hardcastle, Hardcastle 5 (Trippin N Rhythm): Infectious grooves and sultry vocals. But you knew that already.

Najee, Rising Sun (Heads Up): Truly a must-have for smooth jazz fans. Eleven outstanding songs, including a cover of "Moody's Mood for Love."

Jason Miles presents Soul Summit, Live at the Berks Jazz Fest (Shanachie): An all-star cast grooves on killer orginals and classics like "Shotgun" and "Son of a Preacherman."

Ed Johnson & Novo Tempo, The Other Road (Cumulus): More charming Brazilian-flavored jazz from the guitarist.

December Picks (not published in December but worth a mention here)

D-Lucca, Have Yourself a Fretless Little Christmas (Innervision): Yule tunes with a kick. Lovin' the disco thang of "The Christmas Song."

Peter White, Mindi Abair, Rick Braun, Peter White Christmas (ARTizen): The live show is brought to a CD, finally. Very jolly indeed.

Larry Kimpel, The Music Inside (GVR): Excellent smooth jazz CD with bite and raw appeal from the veteran sideman.

David Hughes, Foreign Shores (Suburbank): The swedish bass player makes intelligent and romantic music. Highly recommended.

Eric Marienthal, Just Around the Corner (Peak): With a big assist from Brian Culbertson, Eric Marienthal brings joy back to his smooth jazz music with upbeat and catchy tunes, including "Blue Water."

P E T E R * B O E H I

Al Smith - Cruisin' (2007)
Truly great independently released smooth jazz album by saxophonist Al Smith who can compete with the best. Check it out!

Andre Ward - Crystal City (2007)
Saxophonist Andre Ward is somewhat underrated yet delivers one outstanding album after the other, this one included. Smooth jazz bliss!

Brian O'Neal - Daisy (2007)
Nice piano led smooth jazz album full of memorable melodies and contemporary grooves to soothe your soul. Very recommended.

Jeannette Harris Band - Reflections (2007)
Every album by this band is a winner delivering catchy and groovy instrumental tracks, just excellent! Not to be missed!

Billy Larkin & The Delegates - Blue Lights (1965)
Organist Billy Larkin delivers some ultra cool soul jazz with sax player Clifford Scott, one of my recent favorites on LP.

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

25th Street Band, "The Key Of H" (2007) (

Transoceanic, Audio Caviar (Machine Productions (2007)

Spyro Gyra, Good to Go-Go (Heads Up 2007)

Jeff Kashiwa, Play (Native Language 2007)

Rick Braun & Richard Elliot, RnR (Artizen 2007)

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Angelina’ by Earl Klugh from the excellent Mosaic compilation The Ultimate Earl Klugh. Hearing this signature track makes it difficult not to feel the excitement that heralded the 1976 self titled debut release from which the tune is taken. Laid back yet captivating, the record was produced by Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen who shortly afterwards went on to set up GRP Records.

‘Blue Water’ by Eric Marienthal from the CD Just Around The Corner. Co-written and produced by Brian Culbertson this lusciously mid temp tune sparkles with flashes of his distinctive keys.

‘Back Together Again’ by Gordon James from his album In Joy. Possibly one of the greatest soul anthems of all time, ‘Back Together Again’ was a huge smash for Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway yet James understated cover, which includes Chuck Loeb on guitar, pays it huge respect.

‘Vem Dancar’ by The 25th Street Band from the CD The Key Of H. This mellow, retro infused smoker features the delightful vocals of Jandira Silva and later, on the same album, when the song is reprised in instrumental form, Dave Radnor on piano and David Bitelli on sax really shine.

‘I Only Want To Be With You’ by Curtis Stigers from the album Real Emotional. Tugging at the heartstrings, it perfectly illustrates Stigers unrivalled ability to tell a moving, emotional story with a beautiful song.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

The Matt Savage Trio, Live: Hot Ticket (Savage Records)

Brian Hughes, Live (Radio Canada)

Jim Brickman, Valentine (SLG Music)

Amy Winehouse, Back To Black (Island)

Marcus Miller, Marcus (Concord Records)

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 2:19 AM

October 31, 2007

What We're Listening To ** October

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

markberman.jpgMark Berman, The Genesis Project (Mark Berman Music)

Shannon Kennedy, Never My Love (Angel Eyes Creation Record)

Chris Botti, Italia (Columbia)

Dave Koz, Memories Of A Winter’s Night (Capitol)

Peter White Christmas (ARTizen Music Group)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

RachelZ_GoodEvil.jpgRachel Z, Department of Good and Evil, 2007

Louie Shelton, Hot and Spicy, 1998.

Kirk Whalum, Cache, 1999

Special EFX, Collection

T Square, Wordless Anthology III

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Jonathan Butler, Live in South Africa (Rendezvous): Glorious live music they way it should be. Includes a bonus DVD of live performances and insights into Butler's South African roots.

Marcus H. Mitchell, R&R (Lightyear): Saxophonist creates one of the most memorable, hummable songs of 2007: "Saturday Night," with keys work by Jeff Lorber.

Larry Carlton, Greatest Hits Rerecorded, Volume One (335): Can't wait for volume two. Features a new band and fresh arrangements of gems such as "Smiles and Miles to Go" and "Hello Tomorrow."

Jeff Oster, True (Retso): Fabulous trumpet music by Jeff Oster produced by new age icon William Ackerman.

Ben Tankard, Let's Get Quiet: The Smooth Jazz Experience (Verity): Soulful, sexy and catchy.

P E T E R * B O E H I

davidhughes2.jpgDavid Hughes - Foreign Shores (2007)
This album by bass player David Hughes is a monster! With a great lineup of top-notch guests he delivers an album that sparkles and delights. "Brazil" is a gem. Simply outstanding!

Randy Muller - Boom Chang Bang (2007)
Brass Construction's Randy Muller delivers an ultra-cool flute-led smooth jazz album with contemporary grooves and great songs. Absolutely solid and not to be overlooked!

Clifton deMarks - Classical Mode (2007)
This keyboardist comes up with a smooth jazz gem full of cool grooves, nice melodies and great keyboard playing. Very recommended!

Marcos Ariel - 4Friends (2006)
This album by Brazilian keyboardist Marcos Ariel is a beauty, light grooves and jazzy piano playing with easy-on-the-ear melodies yield very relaxing results.

Yutaka - Love Light (1981)
And as usual a trip down memory lane with this LP by Japanese koto and keyboard player Yutaka Yokokura. This album marks one of the early Grusin-Rosen Productions and has players like Eddie Daniels, Dave Grusin and Kazu Matsui on it. A classic of the genre!

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

pamelagivens.jpgPamela Givens, Tell Me A Story ( (2006)

Brian Hughes, LIVE ( (2007)

Queen Latifah, Trav'lin' Light (Verve 2007)

Najee, Rising Sun (Heads Up 2007)

Randy Scott, Breathe (MEGAWAVE RECORDS 2007)

T H E * J A Z Z * G Y P S Y

SOMETHING OLD: To pay homage to the standard bearers
Cannonball AdderleySomething Else (Blue Note Records, 1958)

SOMETHING NEW: To remind me not to despise small beginnings
J BoykinMy Name is Jay (Soul Shine Records, 2007)

SOMETHING CONTEMPORARY: To keep me forever young
Norman BrownStay with Me (Peak Records, 2007)

SOMETHING FEMALE: To keep me bonded with my sisterhood
LedisiLost & Found (Verve Forecast, 2007)

SOMETHING FROM AFRICA: To nourish my cultural heritage
Salif KeitaThe Best of Salif Keita (Wrasse Records, 2004)

D E N I S * P O O L E

donatowill.jpg"Morning Noon Night" by Will Donato from the CD Will Call. This extremely atmospheric chunk of smooth jazz is, maybe, the best track on the album. Built on a decidedly sultry vibe it shimmers with the superb use of peripheral yet stunning backing vocals.

"Joy Ride" by Alan Hewitt from his CD Metropolis. As anticipation builds ahead of the release of Alan's new CD that is due out early in 2008, its worth looking back to this wonderful track that opens with a magical fifty five seconds of "in the pocket" piano playing that in turn sets up a truly exceptional slice of feel good contemporary jazz.

"The Wave" by Kirk Whalum from the 1988 CD And You Know That. Given the recent release of the Mosaic compilation The Ultimate Kirk Whalum its fitting to single out this track to demonstrate just how far ahead of its time the music of Whalum has often been.

"I’m Not The Same" by Les Sabler from the CD Sweet Drive. With Rahsaan Patterson and Toni Scruggs working their vocal magic this soulful smoker has spine tingling guitar from Sabler and a gentle melody that blossoms in the care of Gary Meek on sax.

"Ojal Valley" by Larry White from his brand new CD Coronado Breeze. Blissfully simple yet intoxicatingly haunting the tune is just one more reason why this album is so special.

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 4:00 AM

September 30, 2007

What We're Listening To * September

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Every X You R Near’ by Soul Ballet from the CD Lavish. Hypnotic in the extreme Rick Kelly uses tight percussion and subliminal vocals to lay the foundation for an increasingly urgent beat that glistens with lavish strings and cool yet compelling guitar.

'Movin On' by Jeff Kashiwa from the CD Play: With the excellent horn section of David Mann, Barry Danelian and Michael Davis, this uplifting slice of smooth jazz really hits the spot. Kashiwa shares writing credits with Miles Gilderdale who also features on acoustic guitar. The result is a brass driven masterpiece that is seriously addictive.

‘Sunny’ by Justin Young from the CD On The Way. This accessible mid tempo track finds Young completely in sync with Rod Long on keyboards with whom he seems able to routinely produce picture perfect pieces of in the pocket smooth jazz.

‘Shine’ by Blake Aaron from the CD Desire. With Paul Brown providing creativity as producer and performer, neat programming touches from Browns pro tools guy DC, the excellent Roberto Vally on bass, stunning flute from Jessy J and Aaron at his melodic best, this could well be one of the standout smooth jazz tracks of the year.

‘Haven’t You Heard’ by Tom Braxton from his CD Imagine This. This Patrice Rushen smash originally appeared on her 1980 release Pizzazz which featured the then fledgling session musicians Gerald Albright and Paul Jackson Jr. Here it is given a new lease of life by Braxton who in doing so fashions what is likely to remain as one of the best covers of 2007.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Peabo Bryson, Missing You (Peak)

Eric Marienthal, Just Around the Corner (Peak)

Kirk Whalum, Roundtrip (Rendezvous)

Brian Simpson, Above The Clouds (Rendezvous)

Soul Ballet, Lavish (ARTizen)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Jeff Kashiwa, Play, (Native Language, 2007)

George Benson, Breezin’ (Warner Bros., 1990)

The Mann Brothers, Mann to Mann, Early album by David Mann on Saxophone and brother Ned on keyboards.

Grover Washington, Jr., Mr. Magic (Motown, 1995)

Jay Soto, Stay Awhile (NuGroove, 2007)

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Marcos Ariel, 4 Friends (Tenure): I highly recommend the latest from the Brazilian pianist. If you like mellow bossa nova, it'd be tough to pass up.

Najee, Rising Sun (Heads Up): Strong CD from the veteran saxophonist.

Rick Braun and Richard Elliot, RnR (ARTizen): A complete winner - smart, catchy, jazzy.

Brian Simpson, Above the Clouds (Rendezvous): Dave Koz's musical director makes great piano-led smooth jazz.

Kirk Whalum, Round Trip (Rendezvous): The best saxophonist in smooth jazz remakes some classics and throws in some spoken word and rap.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Marcus Johnson - The Phoenix (2007)
Keyboard player Marcus Johnson hits the nail on the head with this new release full of memorable melodies, funky grooves and most of all outstanding playing of all involved. Superlative stuff!

Joey Sommerville - Like You Mean It (2007)
Trumpet player Joey Sommerville definitely moves up to the top ranks of the smooth jazz scene. On this very entertaining album he is joined by Wayman Tisdale, Phil Perry, Bob Baldwin, Rhonda Smith and Mike Phillips yielding some great results. Very recommended!

Keiko Matsui - Moyo (2007)
Being on her own again after splitting up with Kazu Matsui hasn't affected her artistry at all. This album is full of uplifting, spirited music in her inimitable style boasting top-notch musicianship. This woman doesn't stop to amaze and enlighten her audience.

Jay Soto - Stay Awhile (2007)
This guitar player must be the next smooth jazz superstar waiting to break through. This is an outstanding release full of top-drawer smooth jazz that epitomizes the genre, ably supported by Jeff Lorber, Paul Brown, Michael Lington, Euge Groove, and Jeffrey Osborne. It doesn't get much better than this!

Neil Larsen - Jungle Fever (1978)
This is a great classic record from back in the day featuring the outstanding guitar work of Buzz Feiten with "Sudden Samba" being an all-time favorite of mine. Get this one on CD and add the High Gear album on Japan Import while supplies last!

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

Pat Metheny and Brad Mehldau, Metheny Mehldau Quartet (Nonesuch 2007)

Down to the Bone, Supercharged (Narada 2007)

Jay Soto, Stay a While (Nu Groove Music 2007)

Maysa, Feel the Fire (Shanachie 2007)

Jeff Lorber, He Had a Hat (Blue Note 2007)

D O R E E N * H A Y W O O D

SOMETHING OLD: To pay homage to the standard bearers
Alice ColtraneJourney in Satchidananda (GRP, 1970)

SOMETHING NEW: To remind me not to despise small beginnings
Jeanette Harris BandReflections (J & M Records, 2007)

SOMETHING CONTEMPORARY: To keep me forever young
Blake AaronDesire (Innervision Records & Entertainment, 2007)

SOMETHING FEMALE: To keep me bonded with my sisterhood
JanitaSeasons of Life (Lightyear, 2006)

SOMETHING FROM AFRICA: To nourish my cultural heritage
Abdullah IbrahimBest of Abdullah Ibrahim (EMI Music, 1999)

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 3:39 AM

July 31, 2007

What We're Listening To * July

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

Norman Brown, Stay With Me (Peak Records 2007)

Lonnie Liston Smith, Renaissance (RCA 2004)

Karma Auger, Blue Groove (Castle Music UK 2006)

Brian Auger's Obilivion Express, Live Oblivion (Castle Music UK 2006)

Billy Cobham, Drum N Voice 2 (Nicolosi Prod It 2007)

D E N I S * P O O L E

'Reggae Man' by Eddie Gip Noble from the CD Love TKO. With just a hint of a reggae beat, and a foundation from Andre Berry on bass that is colossal, this rhythm drenched foot tapper checks all the right boxes.

'Sweet Somethin' by Rick Braun and Richard Elliot from their forthcoming CD R n R. Anchored by the pulsing bass of Nate Philips and replete with the velvety horn of Braun and Elliot this is smooth jazz how it¢s meant to be.

'Lets Get Close' by Brian Simpson from his soon to be released Above The Clouds. Replete with a vibe that oozes sensuality this is mood music of the highest order.

'Who Knows' by Acoustic Alchemy from their current CD This Way. As catchy as you will get anywhere its jam full of Carmichael and Gilderdale¢s melodic playing and blessed by the outstanding flugelhorn of Kevin Robinson.

'City Slicker' by Jay Soto from his breakthrough album Stay Awhile. Featuring both Jeff Lorber and Gary Meek this piece of groove driven jazz is nothing short of a masterpiece.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Marc Antoine, Hi-Lo Split

Soul Ballet, Lavish

Elliot/Braun, RnR

U-Nam, Back from the 80s

Kirk Whalum Roundtrip

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Jay Soto, Stay Awhile, NuGroove, 2007.

Drew Davidson, This Journey, 2007

Basia, Brave New Hope

Amedeo Bianchi, The Rhythm of Life, 2000

Donald Fagen, The Nightfly

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Candy Dulfer, Candy Store (Heads Up): An amazing, fun CD by the veteran Dutch saxophonist. One of the year's best.

Marc Antoine, Hi-Lo Split (Peak): The Spainish guitarist returns to the style that made him fans worldwide. An easy selection to add to your collection.

Ricardo Silveira, Outro Rio [Another River] (Adventure Music): Lovely rhythms from the Brazilian guitarist.

Katja Riekermann, Katja (Digital Zoo): Smooth jazz sax music from Germany. Katja is a member of Rod Stewart's band and was seen by millions during the recent telecast of the Concert for Diana in London. Definitely worth a few thousand spins.

B-Side Players, Fire in the Youth (Concord): Reggae, funk, soul. Lively up yourself.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Aaron Blake - Desire (2007)
Guitarist Aaron Blake delivers another superior smooth jazz guitar album on this independent release. Picture perfect and catchy from beginning to end. Don't sleep on this one!

Euge Groove - Born 2 Groove (2007)
This saxophonist belongs to the very best of the scene and this latest release doesn't disappoint. Cool grooves and hot playing prevail. Thumbs up!

Candy Dulfer - Candy Store (2007)
Dutch saxtress Candy Dulfer turns up on Heads Up Records with an album which was recorded with her Duch band, but definitely is on a very professional level. Once you get past those Prince-drenched opening tracks you discover some very well done and groovy smooth jazz tracks. Well done, Candy!

Marc Antoine - Hi-Lo Split (2007)
Guitarist Marc Antine pops up on Peak Records with his latest release and it's a winner. Acoustic guitar melodies with a Spanish flavor over contemporary grooves yield a really nice album. Like it a lot!

Tom Browne - Love Approach (1980)
Sticking to the tradition of mentioning a great album from the past I would like to direct your attention to this excellent album of trumpet player Tom Browne, released on the GRP label and definitely breaking new ground. Not only his hit "Funkin' For Jamaica" can be found here, but lots of top-notch contemporary jazz. Always worth to come back to!

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 4:21 AM

June 30, 2007

What We're Listening To * June

P E T E R * B O E H I

Dominic Amato - Fresh From The Groove (2007)
This is a top-drawer album full of great tracks from beginning to end by saxophonist Dominc Amato. Absolutely outstanding, so get it at!

Ben Tankard - Let's Get Quiet: The Smooth Jazz Experience (2007)
Beautiful, laid-back and polished smooth jazz album by keyboard player Ben Tankard. Has a good cover of Maze's "Before I Let Go" on it.

Jackiem Joyner - BabySoul (2007)
This great newcomer who was taken under the wings of ARTizen label owners Rick Braun and Richard Elliot comes out with his major debut and it is a winner. Top notch artistry throughout, great to see new talent emerge on the scene.

Kevin Kooyumjian - Montery Cool! (2007)
Ok, I admit it: I am a fan of Kevin Kooyumjian. This keyboard player from Monterey delivers one beautiful album after the other with no signs of slowing down. Catchy melodies, jazzy playing and great solos on various keyboards and synths propel you into smooth jazz heaven!

Dotsero - Live at Jazz@Jack's (2007)
This brilliant live CD delivers vibrant smooth jazz at its finest. Flawlessly recorded in front of an appreciative and excited audience Dotsero play many of their finest tracks boasting great compositions and top-notch artistry. This album actually lets you feel the joy of a live concert and makes you want to rush out and attend one yourself. Very recommended!

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

Four80East, En Route (2007 Native Language)

Vibraphonic, Vibraphonic (1993 Hollywood Records)

Billy Cobham, Drum N Voice: All That Groove [IMPORT] (2002 Sony)

Nu Groove Collective, Souls of the Nu Groove (1998 Nu Groove (M.S.)

Paul Brown, White Sand (2007 Peak Records)

D E N I S * P O O L E

'A Love Of Your Own' by Paul Taylor from the CD Ladies Choice. This picture perfect interpretation of the Average White Band classic finds Rex Rideout playing delicious retro keyboards, vocals from Lauren Evans that are at soul factor ten and sax from Taylor that sends shivers down the spine.

'The Message' by Lin Rowntree from his excellent re-released album Groovetree, Featuring the vocals of Leslie Nelson this is a slice of urban jazz that checks all the right boxes.

'Mellow Nights' by J Dee from his outstanding Tippin on the Edge of Funk. This is the albums standout track and shimmers with a sumptuous quality that will draw you in and leave you longing for more. It is contemporary jazz at its outstanding best.

'2 Cool' by Jamie Williams from the CD After Hours. WilliamS is at his edgy best for this hugely funky tune that features an understated hype track from Oddz N Endz and has all the street ¡cred¢ you will ever need.

'Outstanding' by Marcus H Mitchell from the album R & R. This is a welcome new outing for the much loved 1982 classic from The Gap Band and glistens with the vocals of Tara Aldridge that are just perfect.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Acoustic Alchemy, This Way (Blue note)

Dee Brown, No Time To Waste (DeLaf Records)

Down to The Bone, Supercharged (Narada Jazz)

Jeff Kashiwa, Play! (Native Language)

Keiko Matsui, Moyo (Shout Factory)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Bob James, Angels of Shanghai

Jay Rowe, Red, Hot and Smooth

Chieli Minucci, Sweet Surrender

Matt Bianco, Whose Side Are You On

Brian Culbertson, Come On Up

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Mocean Worker, Cinco de Mowo! (MOWO! Inc.): A breathtaking mix of beats, jazz, pop and anything else you can throw in there. "Shake Ya Boogie" is sublime.

Floratone, Floratone (Blue Note): Unpredicatable jazz from guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer Matt Chamberlain, but there's much for contemporary jazz fans to groove on, including "Swamped."

Rocco Ventrella, Give Me the Groove (Smooth Sounds Music): You'll flip for the saxophonist's version of Grover's "Soulful Strut" and "Winelight," and the rest ain't so bad either.

Blake Aaron, Desire (Innervsion): Good guitar music from a music veteran starting to get noticed in smooth jazz.

Zap Mama, Supermoon (Heads Up): World flavors from a bountiful vocalist. Not for everyone, as it's a tad eccentric.

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 9:48 AM

May 31, 2007

What We're Listening To * May

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Michael Brecker, Pilgrimage (Heads Up): Great sax music from the late master, with an appearance by Pat Metheny.

Simply Red, Stay (Simply Red): No one writes pop vocal tunes better than Mick Hucknall.

Jackiem Joyner, Babysoul (ARTizen): The 27-year-old hopes to make it big in the smooth jazz world. He deserves a chance.

Jean Luc Ponty, The Acatama Experience (Koch): The legendary violinist is still making great music.

Hiroshima, Little Tokyo (Heads Up): Real contemporary jazz by a top-notch band.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Four80East - En Route (2007)
This Tronto-based band can do no wrong. This album delivers driving contemporary jazz featuring sexy grooves and hip playing resulting in another outstanding smooth jazz album. Just love it!

Nighthawks - Metro Bar (2001)
Ultra cool chill and lounge album with enough jazz elements to please Smooth Jazz lovers featuring the muted trumpet of Reiner Winterschladen and the mellow grooves of multi-instrumentalist Dal Martino. A hidden gem!

Arthur Lipner - Modern Vibe (2004)
I discovered vibraphonist Arthur Lipner only recently. This album offers lots of groovy covers of tunes like "Let's Stay Together" or "Love The One Your With" featuring funky vibes playing and heavy organ. Especially the outstanding rendition of "Ain't No Sunshine" is worth the price of admission. Check it out!

Blue Latitude - El Encanto (2007)
Blue Latitude offer an accessible blend of guitar-driven smooth jazz and latin elements over contemporary grooves, the melodies keep you humming along and the spirit is upbeat. Quality music throughout, another hidden gem to be found at

Wilbert Longmire - With All My Love (1980)
One of those treasured albums of the past only available on LP from the legendary Tappan Zee label, produced by Bob James and Jay Chattaway. Guitarist Wilbert Longmire provides some great instrumentals and sweet vocals to warm your soul. They don't make music like that anymore!

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

Majestic Notes, Jump Start (2007 Derrick Thompson/Stuart Dailey)

George Benson, Give Me The Night (1990 Warner Bros / Wea)

Doc Powell, Doc Powell (2006 Heads Up)

Postmodern Jazz feat. Roy Ayers, Love Not Truth (2006)

Chieli Minucci & Special EFX, Sweet Surrender (2007 Shanachie)

D E N I S * P O O L E

'Soul Dance' by Norman Brown from his brand new CD Stay With Me. This Paul Brown / Jeff Carruthers / Norman Brown composition features terrific sax from Sam Riney and is a picture perfect example of in the pocket contemporary jazz.

'We Can't Stay Together' by the Bar-Kays from their album House Party. Featuring the incredible yet underrated Shirley Brown her vocal bi-play with Larry Dodson is outstanding and turns this heartfelt duet into an enticing slice of ageless soul.

'Without Your Love' by Lamb & Meyer from the CD Don't Get No Better. With Paul Jackson Jr. Nathan East and Herman Jackson in attendance this compelling mid tempo track features great vocals from Lamb and Meyer and is seriously good.

'Guess You’ll Never Know' by Jeff Bradshaw from his 2003 release Bone Deep. Bradshaw doing what he does best in using a combination of sumptuous sounds and backing vocals to weave his hypnotically evocative magic.

'Who Knows' by Acoustic Alchemy from their CD This Way that hits record stores across America on June 6. Brass driven yet replete with the melodic vibe that the Alchemy are all about this one will get in your head and won't go away.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Julie Dexter/Khari Simmons, Moon Bossa (Brash Music)

Keiko Matsui, Moyo (Shout Factory!)

Acoustic Alchemy, This Way (Blue Note)

Euge Groove, Born 2 Groove (Narada Jazz)

Ryan Shaw, This Is Ryan Shaw (Columbia/One Haven/Red Ink)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

T-Square. Wordless Anthology 3

Gerald Veasley, At the Jazz Base

Steve Veale, Blue Horizon

Chieli Minucci, Sweet On You

Frank Gambale, Thinking Out Loud

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 10:40 PM

April 30, 2007

What We're Listening To * April

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Jean Luc Ponty, Ponty Plays Zappa: King Kong

T Square, Wordless Anthology I

T Square, Wordless Anthology II

Brian Tarquin, Last Kiss Goodbye

Harry Hmura, Passion

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Ronny Smith, Simply Stated (K&A)

Keiko Matsui, Moyo (Shout Factory)

Carmen Cuesta-Loeb, You Still Don't Know Me (Skip)

Terje Lie, Traveler (TCat)

The Bad Plus, Prog (Do the Math/Heads Up)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Allistair Elliott - Urban Nights (2007)
Great smooth jazz album by Canadian trumpet player Allistair Elliot featuring first rate playing, original material and some well selected covers. Thumbs up!

Drew Davidsen - This Journey... (2007)
Hip guitar playing over contemporary grooves full of catchy melodies, very nicely done, several songs have been added to the playlist of SmoothVibes radio. Check it out!

Blue Latitude - El Encanto (2007)
Beautiful batch of music with a latin twist, featuring top notch playing throughout and a great cover of the Crusader's "Soul Shadows". Not to be missed!

Bobby Blackston Band - Elevations (2007)
Warm, funky and mellow smooth jazz album full of great tracks. It is one of those gems to be found on your endless searches at Take it from me!

Jeff Lorber Fusion - Soft Space (1978)
A seminal album of the contemporary jazz scene dating back to 1978, only available on LP, featuring Joe Farrell and Chick Corea. This great album already shows the Jeff Lorber trademark playing and has aged very well. Take this trip down memory lane and be delighted!

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

Duncan Millar, Good To Go (Instinct Records) 2001

Mitchel Forman, Chuck Loeb, Wolfgang Haffner, and Jerry Brooks, Metro Live at the A-Trane (Marsis Jazz) 2004

Harry Hmura, Face to the Sun (Stormcloud Records) 2006

John Tropea, Something Old, New, Borrowed and Blues (Video Arts Music) 2005

Nils, Ready To Play (Baja Records) 2007

D E N I S * P O O L E

'Closer' by Four80East from their brand new CD En Route. With an aura all its own, mellow haunting guitar and sexy wordless vocals, this is where chill meets seduction to terrific effect.

'Strawberry Letter 23' by David Wells from the CD More Love More Power. A cover of this seminal tune is well overdue and the major radio impact it is currently enjoying owes much to Wells soulful and passionate approach.

'Springtime Breeze' by Jeffery B Suttles from the CD Time To Suttle Down. Suttles and Rafael Padilla generating some massively urgent percussion and an outstanding Rhodes solo from Patrice Rushen are just two of the reasons why this one is almost indescribably good.

'That's How Heartaches Are Made' by Deniece Williams from her album Love Niecy Style. A hit for Baby Washington in 1963 this is a marvelous example of uncomplicated yet emotional soul that here is afforded a whole new dimension by the harmonica playing of Stevie Wonder.

'Nothing That I Do' by Dee Lucas from his hot new album Something To Ride 2. Fashioned around a cool vocal from Terri Carroll and built on a sultry vibe that is straight from the street this is where urban jazz meets quiet storm to sensational effect.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Jeff Golub, Grand Central (Narada Jazz)

Jeff Lorber, He Had A Hat (Blue Note)

Four80East, En Route (Native Language)

Chuck Loeb, The Love Song Collection (Shanachie)

Jackiem Joyner, Babysoul (ARTizen)

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 1:07 AM

March 31, 2007

What We're Listening To ** March

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Patti Austin, Avant Gershwin

Chieli Minucci & Special EFX, Sweet Surrender

Jeff Golub, Grand Central

Kim Waters, You Are MY Lady

Jeff Lorber, He Had A Hat...

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Bob James, Angels of Shanghai

Steve Oliver, Radiant

Brian Culbertson, Come On Up

Gerald Veasley, At the Jazz Base

Tom Grant, Hands: The Tom Grant Collection

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Kim Waters, You Are My Lady (Shanachie)

Various Artists, Smooth Jazz Plays Motown's Greatest Hits (Shanachie)

Jeff Lorber, He Had a Hat (Blue Note)

Four80East, En Route (Native Language)

Julie Dexter and Khari Simmons, Moon Bossa (Brash)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Justin Young - On The Way (2007)
Newcomer and rising star Justin Young on the sax comes up with a gem of a smooth jazz album. Boasting some first-rate guest artists like Tim Bowman, Gail Jhonson and Paul Brown, this man proves that he is destined to go straight to the top!

Dean James - Brighter Days (2006)
I almost missed this picture perfect smooth jazz CD by sax player Dean James who has resurfaced after a hiatus. He plays so sensuous and passionate! Very recommended!

Laffayette Harris, Jr. - In The Middle Of The Night (2007)
This is a gem which can be found at This great piano player delivers a great album full of memorable melodies and top notch playing. Not to be missed!

Will Donato - Will Call (2006)
Another top-notch smooth jazz saxophone player waiting to make his breakthrough. Quality and class throughout. Check this artist out!

Quincy Jones - Mellow Madness (1973)
Available as Japan CD this classic Quincy album features a great selection of soulful songs and jazzy instrumentals featuring many of the industry's finest artists. Belongs into every collection!

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

Rocco Ventrella, Give Me The Groove (Smooth Sounds Music) 2007

Dexter Wansel, Digital Groove World (Hhotplanet Entertainment) 2004

Various Artist, Smooth Jazz Plays Motown's Greatest Love Songs (Shanachie)

Earl Klugh, Finger Paintings (Blue Note Records) 1978

Wayman Tisdale, The Very Best of Wayman Tisdale (Grp Records)

D E N I S * P O O L E

'Aint No Woman (Like The One I Got)' by Jeff Gulob from his the CD 'Grand Central'. This picture perfect cover of the Four Tops classic has a wonderful contribution on sax from Richard Elliot and is a track that shows off Golub's range and versatility.

'Thinking Of You' by soulful vocalist Victor Fields from the album of the same name. This Jeff Lorber composition, with a haunting chorus that gets in your head and won't go away, is a sensuous chunk of chilled out mood music and a modern day quiet storm classic in the making.

The sensational 'Call Me Up' by Dee Brown from his outstanding album No Time To Waste. This, the albums best cut, is horn driven, up tempo and right in the pocket. It epitomizes what No Time To Waste is all about.

'Oh! What A Girl' by Simply Red from the CD Stay. Thrusting along on a driving up tempo beat, and with a horn arrangement of which Tower Of Power would be proud, this is undoubtedly up there among the best songs that Simply Red has ever recorded.

'Sensuality' by Rocco Ventrella from the CD Give Me The Groove. With a chilled out groove that oozes sex and playing from Rocco that's as tight as tight can be this one really gets the job done.

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 4:25 AM

February 28, 2007

What We're Listening To * February

D E N I S * P O O L E

'Because Of Love' by Brian Simpson - not from his 2005 smash It's All Good or from his new one due out in early summer but from the sensational Closer Still that was released as far back as 1995.

'More Or Les Paul' by Paul Brown from his CD White Sand that was released on January 27. Featuring Euge Groove this one is a future radio single and no mistake.

'Dreamin' by Nils from his brand new CD Ready To Play. A lovely track from the most radio friendly artist on the scene.

‘En Mis Suenos’ by the Urban Jazz Coalition from their CD Down To Get Up. This Ohio based collective is a real treasure and the track shimmers with the mellowest most infectious hook that you will hear in a long time. This is Latin lusciousness of the highest order.

‘Cruisin’ by Tim Cunningham from the CD Manchester Road. Almost an instrumental form of deep soul it has a sumptuous groove and evocatively mellow playing that, in this month of Valentines romance, is sure to gain kudos when shared with the one you love.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Kyle Eastwood, Now (Candid Records/Rendezvous)

Walter Beasley, Ready For Love (Heads Up)

William Woods, The Hear and Now (Whaling City Sound)

Incognito, bees+things+flowers (Narada Jazz)

Gil Parris, Strength (215 Records)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Chieli Minucci, Sweet Surrender, (Shanachie, 2007) A brand new one by this master composer/guitarist. Not entirely ‘smooth jazz,’ but rather contains tunes that trace the diverse musical career of Chieli Minucci as an individual artist and as member of Special EFX. A total delight.

Chuck Loeb, When I’m With You, (Shanachie, 2005)

Nick Colionne, Just Come On In, (Three Keys Music, 2003)

Rachel Z, Everlasting, (Tone Center, 2004)

Richard Smith, Soulidified (A440 Music Group, 2004)

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Jeff Golub, Grand Central (Narada): Bluesy smooth jazz guitar sounds from an artist at the top of his game.

Jesse Lee Johnson, With a Latin Touch (Jesse Lee Johnson): Lounge-like guitar licks that are so nerdy they are cool. Go to for samples.

Brian Bromberg, Upright Downright (Artistry): The bassist recruits some of the top names in smooth jazz for this funky, jazzy project.

Paul Brown, White Sand (Peak): On his third CD, the producer-turned-solo-artist just keeps getting better.

Lao Tizer, Diversify (YSE): Smooth and funky piano grooves.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Michael Stricklin - Michael Stricklin (1997)
Beautiful smooth jazz album with a lot of substance and variety by sax player Michael Stricklin. Quality all over, a real gem which should not be overlooked. Take it from me!

Nils - Ready To Play (2007)
After having been out of the spotlight for years Nils had a big success with his "Pacific Coast Highway" album from last year. Now he jumps on the opportunity and hits bulls eye again with this great collection of catchy smooth jazz songs featuring his cool guitar. SwissGroove radio virtually soaked it up from beginning to end. Thumbs up!

Mel Davis - Revealed (2005)
Hammond B3 player Mel Davis delivers a cool album full of groovy tracks covering songs like "Real Mother For Ya" and "Smooth Operator" which are totally awesome, while the second half of the CD is more straight ahead organ jazz in the old school. Check it out!

Chuck Loeb - Presence (2007)
This outstanding guitar player can do no wrong and this new release is another example of his superior musicianship. Picture perfect smooth jazz and even a great chill track "Llevame" (which has been added to the playlist of SmoothVibes right away) yield a top-notch package of aural bliss.

James Last - Seduction (1980)
A blast from the past finally released on CD. James Last is a German big band leader who has sold millions of records during his lengthy career and usually is ignored by jazz lovers. But this album was done in the US with the best of the best - Michael Brecker, David Sanborn, Lee Ritenour and others - resulting in a great mix of nice James Last compositions/arrangements and masterful playing. Worth to come back to!

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

Chuck Loeb, Presence (Heads Up)

Al Jarreau, Glow (Reprise / Wea)

Gregg Karukas, Looking Up (Trippin 'n Rhythm)

Pat Metheny / Brad Mehldau, Metheny / Mehldau (Nonesuch)

Joyce Cooling, Revolving Door (Narada)

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 12:49 AM

January 31, 2007

What We're Listening To * January

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Nils, Ready to Play (Baja/TSR): The guitarist is ready to make it big with this great new CD.

Randy Crawford & Joe Sample, Feeling Good (PRA): In stores on February 20th, this recording is a must-have.

Mel Davis, It's About Time (TomTom): Funky organ music from an underrated player.

Chuck Loeb, Presence (Heads Up): One of Loeb's best in years. Choice cuts: "Llevame" with Carmen Cuesta, Chuck's wife, and the grand "The Western Sky."

Michael Brecker: Anything by the late, great saxophonist.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Billy Cobham - Drum 'n' Voice 2 (2006)
Legendary drummer Billy Cobham assembles an all-star cast (Brian Auger, Buddy Miles, Jeff Berlin, Airto Moreira, Jan Hammer and others) and revisits his fusion roots. Funk, Jazz and Fusion is the deal here, the artistry is on the highest level, so this great album is not to be missed!

Matt Otten - Secret Combination (2006)
Smooth, cool, groovy guitar album featuring the leader on guitar playing memorable melodies over contemporary grooves. An album full of great music which is very satisfying. A gem!

Kevin Kooyumjian - Monterey Breeze! (2006)
This keyboarder hails from San Francisco and has a knack of playing catchy melodies over uptempo grooves making you feel good. I have a soft spot for his music and this - his third album - delivers more of the good stuff!

Michael Lington - A Song For You (2006)
This one is a beauty! Sax player Michael Lington offers us the luxury of a full orchestra and a world class band to accompany his silky sax featuring classic compositions like "You've Got A Friend" and "It's Too Late". Simply georgeous!

Patrice Rushen - Shout It Out (1977)
This one is a classic fusion album from the 70ies which I bought on record. After a hiatus of 15 years I eventually gave in and bought a record player to enjoy my favorite music of my youth with hasn't been re-released on CD. I am currently enjoying lots of music from the past which makes me realize how great those times actually were. Sheer bliss!

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

Earl Klugh, Heart String (Blue Note Records)

Brian Culbertson, It's On Tonight (Grp Records)

Peter White, Playin' Favorites (Sony)

Ronnie Laws, Pressure Sensitive (Blue Note Records)

Marion Meadows, Dressed To Chill (Heads Up)

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘My Beautiful Girls' from the Ken Navarro CD The Meeting Place. The album hits record stores on January 23 and is one to watch.

'I Like The Way' by veteran trumpet player Bill McGee from his current album Chase The Sunset. This is a classy cover of the Outkast original.

'Thru D Nite' by Park Lane from the CD Check It Out. A delicious slice slice of smooth sophisticated R & B.

'Somebody Else's Guy' by Jocelyn Brown from her 1984 album of the same name. Revisit this one if you can.

'The Real Story' by Jeanne Newhall from the CD Wild Blue. A nice tune with great sax from Jaared.

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

The Chris Geith Group, Prime Time

Chris Korblein, Love Notes, 2006

Jeff Golub, Soul Sessions, 2003

Doc Powell, Doc Powell, 2006

Josh Groban, Closer, 2003

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 11:16 PM

December 31, 2006

What We're Listening To * December

D E N I S * P O O L E

'This Christmas' by Brian Culbertson from his brand new CD A Soulful Christmas - this hip take on Donny Hathaway's 1971 composition is Christmas music like it was always meant to be.

'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' by Kenny G from his Miracles - The Holiday Album. Kenny doing what he does best.

'Baby Its Cold Outside' by James Taylor and Natalie Cole from Taylor's CD for Hallmark A Christmas Album. Its great when December comes around and its OK to play this one again!!

'Bring A Torch To Jeanette Isabella' by Brian Lubeck from the Christmas compilation We Three Strings. This much underrated smooth jazz guitarist comes up trumps on this one.

'All Through The Christmas Night' by Brian Culbertson. Also from his A Soulful Christmas CD, this original composition with awesome vocals from Michael McDonald is a classic in the making.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Hugh Peanuts Whalum (Rendezvous)

Lino, Miami Jam (Lino Alessio Publishing)

Walter Beasley, Live! (Shanachie)

Lara & Reyes (Fusion Acustica)

Ray Parker, Jr., I’m Free (Raydio Music Corp.)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Brian Culbertson, A Soulful Christmas, 2006

Dave Koz, A Smooth Jazz Christmas

Gil Parris, Strength, 2006

T-Square with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Basia, The Sweetest Illusion

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Richy Kicklighter, Unknown (Midnight Pass Music): More tempting guitar work from the Florida resident. His eighth CD is available at

Incognito, Bees + Things + Flowers (Narada): The veteran British funk band switches gears with an acoustic affair of new, classic and cover songs.

Slim Man, Solstice (Oui Oui): The bassist and leader of Bona Fide steps out on another solo project with a big assist from guitarist Marc Antoine.

The Terry Disley Project, Across the Pond (Disleyworld): The former Acoustic Alchemy pianist, who still joins the group of many of its trio outings, returns with a smooth jazz CD that is the next best thing to an AA project.

Ken Navarro, The Meeting Place (Positive Music): The guitarist with the sweet touch on the nylon strings has created 10 new songs and a cover of Pat Metheny’s “Lakes.”

P E T E R * B O E H I

Nate White - So Beautiful (2006)
This bassist delivers a really beautiful album featuring the fretless bass of the leader in a cool grooving smooth jazz setting. Very recommended!

Steve Cole - True (2006)
This is one of my favorite sax players who puts all of his heart into his music and this warm, groovy and really unadulterated album paying reference to his musical heroes is no exception. Outstanding!

Tribaljazz - Tribaljazz (2006)
This is an interesting album featuring flute and african grooves covering styles from funk to latin to jazz which is a breath of fresh air. Not to be overlooked!

Soul Jazz Express - Soul Jazz Express (2006)
This band smokes! Fat hammond organ, great guitar and sax and a captivating live feeling are the hallmarks of this album of driving, groovy jazz tunes. This how good jazz sounds to me!

[re:jazz] - Expansion (2006)
This band delivers club tunes in an acoustic jazz setting and succeeds triumphantly. Especially outstanding is Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" in a slowed down acoustic version which will put a smile on your face.

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

Brian Culbertson, Soulful Christmas (GRP)

Bob James & Earl Klugh, One on One (Koch Records)

Chick Corea, Secret Agent (Universal)

Ronnie Laws, Every Generation (Blue Note Records)

A Lounge Supreme, Vol. 4 (Soulstar)


Forever, For Always, For Luther, Vol. II, Various Artists

First Christmas, by Andre Delano

Seasons of Life, by Janita

Cool to the Touch, Greg Adams

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 12:00 PM

November 30, 2006

What We're Listening To * November

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

Shilts, Headboppin (Artizen)

Richard S. & The Vibe Tribe, Cools Shoes (Lipstick Records)

Herbie Hancock, The New Standard (Polygram Records)

Ronny Jordan, A Brighter Day (Blue Note Records)

Wilton Felder, Let's Spend Some Time (Bcs Records)

K A L E N - M A R I E * G R A N T

Candy Dulfer - 'Mister Marvin' from Sax-A-Go-Go 1993 RCA

Boney James and Rick Braun - 'Grazin in the Grass' from Shake It Up 2000 Warner Bros

Jeff Kashiwa - 'Hyde Park' from Another Door Opens 2000 Native Language

Eric Marienthal - 'One Day in Venice' from Turn Up the Heat 2001 Peak

Euge Groove - 'Rewind' from Play Date 2002 Warner Bros

D E N I S * P O O L E

'Slow and Easy' by Michael Vince from his debut EP of the same name. Paul Brown produces.

'Bright Spot' by Jack Prybylski from his CD Window Shopping. This collaboration with Ken Navarro is a winner.

'Across The Sea' by Dan Siegel from his current release Departure. This is vintage Siegel and then some.

'Everyday Routine' by Quintin Gerard W from his forthcoming Perseverance. Wonderful R & B infused contemporary jazz.

'They Love Like This' by Sophia Darcell from her brand new CD Soul Eclectic. It has the ability to cross the divide between soul and jazz.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Jim Brickman, Escape (SLG)

George Benson & Al Jarreau, Givin’ It Up (Concord)

Alan Hewitt, Metropolis (215 Records)

Michael Manson, Just Feelin’ It (215 Records)

Steve Cole, True (Narada Jazz)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Brian Simpson, It's All Good, Rendevous, 2005)

Doc Powell, Doc Powell (Heads Up)

Harry Hmura, Face to the Sun, (Stormcloud, 2006)

Brian Culbertson, Soulful Christmas (GRP, 2006)

Philippe Saisse Trio, Body and Soul (Rendevous, 2006)

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Bobby Darin, Seeing Is Believing (Hyena); The king of cool comes alive on this DVD with 20 songs from various live recordings. "Mack the Knife," "Beyond the Sea" and "If I Were a Carpenter" are included of course, but so are tender versions of Bread's "If" and Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline." This DVD was compiled in conjection with the Bobby Darin Estate and is an important piece of American musical history.

Paolo Rustichelli, Neopagan (Next Age): Italian film composer and producer Paolo Rustichelli uses only computer softeware for this recording, but it's still pretty cool. He fuses 1970s new age music, contemporary jazz and World Beat and even does some singing. Different is good.

Brian Culbertson, A Soulful Christmas (GRP): Not what you'd think. Instead of going for the mellow groove of his last studio CD, Culbertson instead has a jazzy good time with Christmas chestnuts and an original song titled "All Throught the Christmas Night" with husky Michael McDonald.

Matt Catingub Orchestra of Hawaii, Return to Romance (Mountain Apple): It's impossible not to love a CD that begins with a lounge version of "Can't Help Falling in Love." But saxophonist Dave Koz and vocalist Patti Austin are also on this CD of romantic songs that has its happy heart in the right place. Very cool.

Various Artists, Forever, For Always, For Luther Vol. II (Rendezvous): The second edition of smooth jazz musicians covering the late Luther Vandross features an all-star cast and first-rate intepretations. A goodie: Patti Austin on "So Amazing."

P E T E R * B O E H I

Lionel Jones - Papa Jones (2006)
Beautiful album by vibes player Lionel Jones featuring soft r&b songs and cool instrumentals featuring the leader. A gem!

Jamhunters - Jamhunters (2006)
Soft, smooth, soulful and relaxed vibes featuring great Wes inspired guitar playing and memorable melodies. Despite a few groovier tracks, this is a great album to chill and unwind!

Michael Paulo - Beautiful (2004)
This veteran sax player delivers another top notch smooth jazz album boasting an a-list of session players and great songs. "When Time Stood Still" is a favorite a SmoothVibes radio. Recommended!

Mark Maxwell - Saxual Healing (2006)
Ultra cool smooth jazz album by sax player Mark Maxwell with a laid back chill vibe. Very nice!

Bill McGee
- Chase The Sunset (2006)
Latest release by this great trumpet player who comes up with another great smooth jazz album full of smooth playing and a great selection of material. Very recommended!

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 8:56 PM

October 30, 2006

What We're Listening To * October

P E T E R * B O E H I

Michael Ripoll - Discovery Anew (2003)
Very solid guitar led smooth jazz album with some songs veering in a latin direction while others are groovy, funky and just fun. Very well played and produced, this one is worth your attention.

The Terry Disley Experience - Bright Side (2006)
Terry Disley is the keyboard player of Acoustic Alchemy and delivers a beautiful smooth jazz album full of memorable melodies and top-notch playing. Very recommended.

Tracey Campbell - Sunshine Embrace (2006)
Acoustic jazz trio featuring Tracey Campbell on piano and vocals. This album is full of subtle yet still groovy playing and catchy songs. A breath of fresh air!

Kerry Wilkins - Follow My Lead (2006)
Groovy, contemporary and very polished album by this great guitar player offering a mix of soul/r&b and cool smooth jazz instrumentals. Thumbs up!

Jacques Saxman Johnson - More Than Smooth (2004)
This great sax player delivers a smooth jazz album which is not only polished, but also brims with great playing and beautiful compositions. Another gem to be found on the indie scene!

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

Rodney Lee, The Satellite Orchestra (Innocent Bystander Records)

George Duke, Don't Let Go (CBS Records)

Jazz Crusaders, Soul Axess (True Life)

Flora Purim, Carry On (Wounded Bird Records)

Brian Simpson, It's All Good (

K A L E N * M A R I E * G R A N T

Jonathan Butler – 'Rio' from Jonathan (2005 Rendezvous)

Nick Colionne – 'Always Thinking of You' from Keepin’ it Cool on (2006 Narada Jazz)

Ken Navarro – 'You Are Everything' from Love Colored Soul on (2005 Positive Music)

Raul Midon – 'If You’re Gonna Leave' from State of Mind on (2005 Manhattan)

Paul Taylor – 'East Bay Bounce' from Nightlife on (2005 Peak)

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Hugh Peanuts Whalum (Rendezvous)

Lino, Miami Jam (Lino Alessio Publishing)

Walter Beasley, Live! (Shanachie)

Lara & Reyes (Fusion Acustica)

Ray Parker, Jr.,
I’m Free (Raydio Music Corp.)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Janita, I'll Be Fine, Carport Music, 2001.

Brian Culbertson, It's On Tonight, GRP Records, 2005.

Eric Darius, Just Getting Started, Narada, 2006.

Chuck Loeb, When I'm With You, Shanachie, 2005.

Third Force, Driving Force, Higher Octave, 2005.

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

George Benson & Al Jarreau, Givin' It Up (Concord): A suprisingly organic offering by two superstars, including re-imagined versions of Benson's "Breezin'" and Jarreau's "Morning."

Kyle Eastwood, Now (Rendezvous Entertainment): The bassist's new CD is much more accessible than his previous effort and features some tasty adult contemporary vocal tunes with Ben Cullum, Jamie Cullum's brother. Both "I Can't Remember" and "Leave It" are reminiscent of 2005's Matt Biano featuring Basia CD Matt's Mood.

Jake Shimabukuro, Gently Weeps (Hitchhike): You don't have to take my word that this guy is a wiz on the ukelele -- just check out "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on YouTube. Shimabukuro also offers solo versions of "Misty," "Spain," "Ave Maria" and even "The Star-Spangled Banner." The last five songs feature accompaniment and are unexpected treats: a rockin' "Beyond the Break," a tender vocal version of Shimabukuro's original "Wish On My Star" and a tune called "Hula Girl" that would fit in nicely on smooth jazz radio.

Strunz & Farah, Fantaseo (Selva): The guitar duo just keeps getting better. Look no further for upbeat, sexy, flamenco stylings. Pick track: the beautiful and uplifting "Azure."

Talking Book, Chasing the Green (Third Angels): Classic, soulful grooves and soulful vocals blend nicely in this project by J. Kari. Best track: the old-school groove of "Your Soul Baby," one of the best vocal tunes I've heard this year.

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 1:55 AM

September 28, 2006

What We're Listening To ** September

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Greg Adams, Cool to the Touch (Ripa): The veteran trumpeter has hands-down released his best CD yet. Cool, funky and smooth, it's a tonic for those pining for some upbeat Chris Botti material.

George Duke, In a Mellow Tone (BPM): The title says it all. What a great CD, featuring a warm version of "Spring Is Here" and a new jazzy version of "Sweet Baby." There are also a few stellar new tunes. The master of funk shows he can slow it down.

Alan Broadbent, Every Time I Think of You (Artistry): The Grammy-winning pianist provides warm and inviting jazz with bassist Brian Bromberg and drummer Kendall Kay. A string section adds lushness.

Sebastian Lorefice, Short Stories, Infinite Corridors (Arc Sound): There's a lot going on in this CD by the veteran Australian musician, who fuses lounge jazz, Latin, space music, electronica and other styles in a satisfying mix. There are some rough experimental edges, but this is definitely different. Check out samples at

Everett B. Walters, Always High Reaching (Petey Pete): The group's name is actually a jumble of the names of two brothers, Harold Walter Brown III and Mike Everett Brown. Hip and definitely in-the-pocket, the CD delivers funky smooth jazz mixed with a few soulful vocal tunes. Especially compelling is "And the Story Goes," which the Brown brothers wrote for pianist Brian Simpson and here offer a version just as tasty as his.

P E T E R * B O E H I

DowntogetUpUrbanJazz.jpgUrban Jazz Coalition - Down To Get Up (2006)
Latest album by this outstanding group full of top-notch smooth jazz tracks with great playing by all members. Not a dud in sight, very recommended!

Howard Isaacson - Dream World (2002)
Easy smooth jazz album full of nice melodies and top notch playing by saxophonist Howard Isaacson. Quality stuff!

Joel Del Rosario - Calm In The Storm (2006)
Very competent contemporary guitar playing, well produced and arranged, nice melodies and cool grooves make this one a winner.

Alphonso Thomas - While We Still Can (1997)
Young sax player comes up with a groovy album full of memorable instrumentals and soulful vocals, with an urban touch. Not to be overlooked!

Willie Bobo - Lost And Found (1970)
This lost gem in the shape of unreleased tapes hidden in the closet of Willie Bobo's widow and discovered by his son now see the light of day on CD for the very first time. Groovy, funky, vintage latin stuff of the highest order.

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

AlexBugnon.jpgAlex Bugnon, Free (Narada)

David Benoit, Full Circle (Peak Records)

The Rippingtons, Anniversary (Peak Records)

Fourplay, X (RCA)

Bob James, Lucky Seven (Koch Records)

K A L E N * M A R I E * G R A N T

Eliane%20Elias.jpgEliane Elias – ‘Running’ and ‘Jammin’’ from Around the City (2006 RCA Victor)
Elias gives the world another taste of her Brazilian flavor. ‘Running’ seems to even have a techno feel to it while ‘Jammin’’ is definitely a different take on Bob Marley’s idea, but it will get a few head nods and foot taps from listeners.

Shilts – ‘I Knew You’d Like This’ from Headboppin’ (2006 ARTizen Music Group)
Paul “Shilts” Weimar has played in many places and for many people all over the realms of jazz and pop music. He knew we’d like the sixth cut on his latest project. Well… it made my playlist.

Maysa – ‘The First Time (Ever I Saw Your Face)’ from Sweet Classic Soul (2006 Shanachie Records)
Maysa, a recording veteran, takes us through the classic soul hits in one album. Her rich and lustrous voice covers Stevie Wonder’s ‘All I Do’, the Stylistics’ ‘Betcha By Golly Wow’ and Roberta Flack’s ‘The First Time (Ever I Saw Your Face)’. These covers are as nice as their originals.

Herbie Hancock w/ Christina Aguilera – ‘A Song for You’ – from Possibilities (2005 Hear Music)
Herbie Hancock gave us a serious musical treat with this project last year. Christina Aguilera’s vocals on this song still has singers warming up their pipes to have such a full, sensual, but effective sound as she has in this song.

Dave Brubeck – ‘Take Five’ from Time Out (1959 Legacy Recordings)
Every now and then it is good to get in touch with something old, something traditional, something unique, but still something so revolution during it’s time.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

InsideWorld.jpgJ Thompson, Inside World (AMH Records)

Patrick Yandall, Samoa Soul (Zangi Records)

Marilyn Scott, Innocent of Nothing (Prana Entertainment)

Jazzmasters V (Trippin N’ Rhythm)

Joyce Cooling, Revolving Door (Narada Jazz)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Chris Korblein - Love Notes
I recently discovered this artist and find his CD very enjoyable. Another talented guitar player whose song Boys Night Out is a dynamite track which has been doing very well.

Jay Rowe - Red, Hot and Smooth
Keyboardist for Special EFX who has a few CDs of his own, Jay is one of the most happy, enthusiastic players you'll see on stage. This CD, his latest, gives me a whole new appreciation for his talent not only in playing but in composing. Great melodies that make you want to pop this one in often!

Josh Groban - Live At The Greek (CD and DVD)
As seen on the PBS Great Performances series, Josh is at his finest in connecting with the crowd in LA, despite singing in Italian or Spanish much of the time. Accompanied by a full orchestra of talent and spellbinding violin solos. Features Josh playing one song on the piano and one song where he plays the drums.

Philippe Saisse Trio - Body and Soul
So enjoyable to listen to -- the more one listens, the more evident is Saisse's absolute command of the piano. Masterful arrangements of standards from the past that we all cherish.

Jeff Golub - Out of the Blue
In studying about Philippe Saisse, I found that he produced and played on this CD, long one of my favorites. Now I have even more reason to know why it is such a standout in my collection.

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 1:23 AM

August 31, 2006

What We're Listening To - August

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

GilParrisCDCover.jpgGil Parris, Strength, released August 22, 2006, 215 Records. Get ready, here's a guitar player who has stormed back onto the contemporary (smooth) jazz scene with the signature sound found on his earlier release, Gil Parris, 1998. His bluesy, funky playing incorporates jazz, rock, blues and smooth jazz and is admired by people like Jeff Golub and Chuck Loeb, to name a few. Produced by talented David Mann, the CD is an exceptional blend of hard grooving and also tender, romantic melody lines easy to fall in love with. Features guest appearances by Bob Baldwin on keyboards, Randy Brecker on trumpet/flugelhorn, and David Mann on saxophone. It had to be difficult to decide which songs to plug for airplay; it's filled with great tunes from beginning to end. The first two to be chosen are 'Jazz Night Out', the first track, and 'Together Again' (my personal favorite).

Steve Reid, Bamboo Forest. After seeing Steve Reid (percussionist extraordinnaire) recently on the Rippington's 20th Anniversary tour, what a pleasure to go back and listen to this CD, which was ahead of its time.

Rippingtons, 20th Anniversary CD and DVD, 2006. A great new CD, typical of the Rippingtons stellar talent. The DVD is a must-see for anyone who enjoyed this band for years or who has discovered them recently and wants to go back to their roots. It's Russ Freeman at his best, talking and reliving the times from the band's inception up to now. You'll learn a lot.

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Eliane Elias, Around the City (RCA Victor): The veteran Brazilian pianist and vocalist has created her most modern, chill-worthy CD. The lead track, "Running," is divine.

Lee Ritenour, Smoke 'n' Mirrors (i.e./Peak): More guitar magic from Captain Fingers, influenced by world music.

Michael Manson, Just Feelin' It (215 Records): The smooth jazz session steps out on his own again with another fine solo effort. Heads up, Wayman Tisdale fans.

Oli Silk, So Many Ways (Trippin N Rhythm): The British keyboardist is a perfect fit for the label boasting Paul Hardcastle. If fact, if you love Hardcastle's groove and dreamy lyrics, you'll love Silk, too.

Doc Powell, Doc Powell (Heads Up): More great guitar smooth jazz from a master. So melodic, and so enjoyable.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Dave Dunop - The Hang (2006) Cool, slick and smooth trumpet playing over contemporary grooves. Just the kind of stuff that gets soaked up by SmoothVibes radio. Excellent!

Ray Garand - Skylark (2006) Another solid smooth jazz album by Canadian guitar player Ray Garand featuring catchy songs and cool guitar playing. Top class!

Timothy Bowman - Circles (2006) Pretty impressive debut album by guitar player Timothy "TimBo" Bowman offering lots of smooth guitar playing in a Wes Montgomery style over thick contemporary grooves. Very nice!

Oli Silk - So Many Ways (2006) Half of the duo Sugar & Silk this great keyboard player offers his debut solo album boasting memorable melodies and catchy keyboard playing. Jaared guests. Don't miss it!

Jasper Stone - Shine Your Light (2001) Catchy keyboard and synth playing over contemporary grooves characterize this smooth jazz album by this great artist. Very recommended.

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

Bob James, "H" (Warner Brothers/Tappan Zee)

Alphonse Mouzon, The Best of Alphonse Mouzon (MPC Records)

Brian Augers Oblivion Express, Straight Ahead (Castle Music/Sanctuary Records)

Hubert Laws, Land Of Passion (HLaws Music/

Bob James & David Sanborn, Double Vision (Warner Brothers)

K A L E N * M A R I E * G R A N T

Mindi Abair – ‘Flirt’ from It Just Happens That Way 2003 GRP
This playful melody is not new to radio airways. ‘Flirt’ is an example of Abair’s niche for good song writing.

Philippe Saisse – ‘Masques’ from Masques 1995 Polygram/Verve
Philippe Saisse, the gifted and talented pianist, keyboardist, producer, arranger, and songwriter, with this chanson mystique or mystic song.

Christian Scott – ‘Like This’ from Rewind That 2006 Concord Jazz
Mellow and relaxing melody with sensual harmonies... We, as listeners, can only imagine how this song ends.

Jose Valentino – ‘Velvet Nights’ from Flute on Fire 2005 (no label)
Valentino, a name that will be repeated, a young flute virtuoso opens his first album with this up beat tune.

Big Sam’s Funky Nation – ‘Funkin' @ The Butt’ from Take Me Back 2006 (no label)
BSFN knows what it means to miss New Orleans and reminisces with this song ‘Funkin’ @ The Butt’ a tribute to a jazz club “The Funky Butt” once located on N. Rampart.

D E N I S * P O O L E

'Still Thinking About You' from the soon to be released CD Just Feelin It from bass guitarist Michael Manson. This one is all mellow groove and loveliness!!

Lynne Fiddmonts debut CD Flow is sensational and the best track on it is the wonderful 'Say'.

Listening to Fiddmont made me hanker for those great female soul singers from the late 70's and early 80's so one of this months choices is the result of the search I made for them. Tucked away in the Denis Poole collection was 'Don't Let It Go To Your Head' by Jean Carn from her 1978 album Happy To Be With You. Who said nostalgia isn't what it used to be?

Narada has an incredible compilation out right now. Its a double CD titled Sweet + Sexy and it counts for two of this months choices. From the Sweet disc comes 'When She Smiles' from Jeff Lorber and turning to things more sexy my pick is 'Temptation' from Jeff Golub.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

J Thompson, Inside World (AMH Records)

Patrick Yandall, Samoa Soul (Zangi Records)

Marilyn Scott, Innocent of Nothing (Prana Entertainment)

Jazzmasters V (Trippin N’ Rhythm)

Joyce Cooling, Revolving Door (Narada Jazz)

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 2:07 AM

July 31, 2006

What We're Listening To * July

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Greg Vail, The Gospel Truth Revisited (Greg Vail Music)

Jack Prybylski, Window Shopping (SuShan Music)

Bill Cantos, Love Wins (GIC Productions)

Andy Snitzer, Some Quiet Place (Native Language)

Wayman Tisdale, Way Up! (Rendezvous)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Kirk Whalum, The Babyface Songbook, Rendevous. What a powerful yet very tender sound all the way through this CD. The memorable songs of Babyface -- 'Can We Talk,' 'I'll Make Love To You,' 'When Can I See You,' 'Someone to Love,' 'Not Gon' Cry,' 'Whip Appeal,' and more. Kirk's playing is just superb and he plays with musicians Rick Braun, Dave Koz, Norman Brown Gabriela Anders for a truly awesome final product. The blending of Kirk and Dave Koz on their saxophones on 'Someone to Love' is one of the best duets I've ever heard.

Doc Powell - CD of the same name. Coming out August 22, 2006, Heads Up. Great listening all the way through. Powell's beautiful melodies and relaxed style of playing will draw you right in. Features Brian Culbertson, Kirk Whalum, Bobby Lyle and many other talented musicians. Includes two fine renditions of Carole King's 'It's Too Late," both plugged and unplugged versions. On this CD Powell has decided to blend electric and classical guitars and the combination is one you won't want to miss.

Philippe Saisse Trio, The Body and Soul Sessions, Rendevous. I'm just getting to know this keyboard player (go to his site and you'll see he's much more than that!). What a talented, consummate musician and this CD in particular showcases how he takes songs which are familiar to us and truly makes them his own, in unique and wonderful ways. Songs like 'Do It Again,' 'September,' 'Lady Madonna,' 'Fire and Rain,' and 'We're All Alone.' David Finck on acoustic bass and Scooter Warner on drums and percussion. If the songs have some meaning for you and you love an innovative piano/keyboard player, this is a CD you will likely cherish.

Wayman Tisdale, Way Up, Rendevous. This CD features a whole host of great players: Jeff Lorber, Dave Koz, Bob James, Kirk Whalum, George Duke, Jonathan Butler, Eric Benet, and Tom Braxton, but there is still plenty of room throughout the CD for the indelible signature style of Tisdale's bass playing. Always energetic and fun with plenty of talent, Tisdale does take us Way Up but also includes 'Get Down On It.' He does just what track 8 says he will: 'Tell It Like It TIS.'

Janita, Seasons of Life, 2006, Lightyear Entertainment. Never far from my rotation of CDs, these very soulful songs allow me to sing along and reminisce about my own 'seasons of life.'

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Jazzmasters, Jazzmasters V (Trippin N Rhythm): Paul Hardcastle reunites with vocalist Helen Rogers and Snake Davis for more mellow tunes.

Patrick Yandall, Samoa Soul (Zangi): Underrated San Diego smooth jazz guitarist delivers more peppy music perfect for the beach.

Bakithi Kumalo, Transmigration (GuruProject): Bass grooves from a South African legend who performed on Paul Simon's Graceland. Some of the best smooth tunes of the year.

Palace Lounge Presents, Cafe D'Afrique Vol. 2 (Savoy Jazz): Groovy and chilled beats.

Mark Egan, As We Speak (Wavetone): Contemporary jazz from a master who's performed with Pat Metheny. Two-disc CD with John Abercrombie and Danny Gottlieb.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Shilts - HeadBoppin (2006)
Sax player and member of Down To The Bone steps out to the spotlight with this truly great and picture perfect smooth jazz album. Two thumbs up!

Dwayne Dolphin - Ming (2006)
Bass player Dwayne Dolphin comes up with a spirited, solid and deep contemporary jazz album with is very recommended. Don't miss it.

Donald Harrison Electric Band - 3D, Vol. 1 (2006)
Sax player Donald Harrison delivers a polished smooth jazz album with cool sax playing over contemporary grooves. Most of the songs were added to the playlist of SmoothVibes radio.

Forecast - featuring J.S. Floyd (2006)
Cool, groovy smooth jazz album with memorable compositions, catchy hooks and great soloing by all involved. A real gem not to be overlooked!

Alan Hewitt - Metropolis (2006)
Pretty melodies, smooth sounds and a relaxed mood are conveyed by this beautiful album by keyboard player Alan Hewitt. A true favorite of us at SmoothVibes radio.

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

SteveClark.jpgSteve Clark, Can U Hear Me Now? (Hop-N-Bop Records)

Chris Standring, Soul Express (V2 Records)

David Sanborn, Straight To The Heart (Warner Bros / Wea Records)

Maysa, Sweet Classic Soul (Shanachie Records)

Kenny Wright Experience, Comin' At Ya (Knee Deep Records)

K A L E N * M A R I E * G R A N T

Chris Botti - 'Good Morning Heartache' from To Love Again (The Duets) 2005 Columbia
This great collaboration with Neo-Soul artist Jill Scott displays the traditional in a smooth kind of way.

Marion Meadows - 'Suede' from Player's Club 2004 Heads Up
Meadows' sensual and almost provocative style added to the poetic melody of 'Suede' making it great work to listen to during the afternoon rain.

Warren Bernhardt - 'Felinicity' from Family Album 1993 DMP
I heard this on the radio and it replayed in my head for hours. I went to almost every music store in the area and was not able to find this album.

Randy Crawford - 'Cajun Moon' from Naked and True 1995 Mesa/Bluemoon
This mystic song gives an explanation to why love has gone under the strong gospel-like vocals of Randy Crawford.

Philippe Saisse Trio - 'Do It Again' from The Body and Soul Sessions 2006 Rendezvous
Philippe Saisse has played for, produced for, and arranged for many artists over many genres, and this arrangement of 'Do It Again' hits the spot.

D E N I S * P O O L E

'Inner City Blues' featuring Ronnie Laws and The Sounds Of Blackness from the excellent project by Jason Miles, To Grover With Love.

Temptation by Jeff Golub from the 2005 album of the same name and a tune that from time to time creeps into my head.

'Crystal Blue Persuasion' from the self titled CD by Jill Jenson. This cover of the Tommy James and the Shondells hit is worth checking out.

'Deja Vu' by Peter White from his new and already successful CD Playin Favorites. Its an album of covers and this one, taking the excellent Isaac Hayes composition as its source, is way better than Whites current radio number one from the same album.

'Positive Vibe' by Pamela Williams from the album Elixir. Its the second radio single from this album and confirms Williams as the queen of urban smooth jazz.

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 4:33 AM

June 28, 2006

What We're Listening To * June

D E N I S * P O O L E

'Get Down On It' by Wayman Tisdale from the CD Way Up that will be released on June 27

'Judge So And So' by Rod Kelley from his solo CD Music Man. Kelley is quite a talent so watch out for him!!

'Smooth' from the CD Miles Ahead by the Italian based smooth jazz duo Westbound. One of my favorites of the entire month.

'No One' by Wilton Felder from his gorgeous come back album Lets Spend Some Time.

'Going All The Way' from Nelson Rangell's 1994 release Destiny. Gems like this that are buried in the mists of time really do deserve to be aired from time to time.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Steve Oliver, Radiant (Koch)

Eric Darius, Just Getting Started (Narada)

Rendezvous Lounge 2 (Rendezvous Music)

Randy Jacobs, From Me To You (Bad Monkey)

Shilts, HeadBoppin' (ARTizen)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Donald Fagen, Morph the Cat, 2006

Janita, Seasons of Life, 2006

Brian Tarquin, High Life

Chieli Minucci, Jewels

Harry Hmura, Face to the Sun, 2006

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Westbound, Miles Away (Westbound): Westbound, an Italian smooth jazz group with Cristian Rocco on guitar and Enrico Catena on percussion, proves that great instrumental music can come from any corner of the globe. Very smooth, with the only harsh edge coming on the rock-guitar lead of the title track. Available at Highly recommended.

Horace Alexander Young, Acoustic Contemporary Jazz (Design): You’ve got to hand it to Horace Alexander Young, a saxophonist and flutist who believes in truth in advertising. It’s also smooth, urban jazz with a hint of gospel and a compelling version of Luther Vandross’ “Dance With My Father.”

Main Gazane, Hip Space (Apria): Mark Minchello and Bob Magnuson get it right in their fusing of hip and funky contemporary jazz with a little chill on the side. Upbeat and influenced by jazz-fusion from the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Konstantin Klashtorni, Led By You (KVK): Another example of the worldwide reach of smooth jazz. Klashtorni, born in the Ukraine with a master’s in music from the Rotterdam Royal Conservatory in Holland, this saxophonist offers easy-listening sax music in the vein of Jeff Kashiwa and Eric Marienthal. Especially uplifting is the tune “On the Way.”

Ray Parker Jr., I’m Free (Raydio Music): The veteran vocalist returns with an 11-song CD that features three stunning instrumentals – the smooth jazz hit “Mismaloya Beach” (the best smooth single of the year), “Sunset Ray” and “Gibson’s Theme.” But just as compelling are Parker’s vocal tunes that speak of finding his way and offer unabashed glimpses into the joys of middle age

P E T E R * B O E H I

Evan Garr - The Chill Out Album (2005)
Violinist from Detroit comes up with a very decent, well produced and played smooth jazz and r&b album featuring great songs and top-notch playing.

Sean Turner - Begin Again (2006)
Very nice, polished and styleful smooth jazz keyboard album boasting memorable melodies and great playing by all involved. Very recommended.

Paul Richardson - What I Do (2006)
Despite being self-taught Paul Richardson comes up with an excellent piano album full of catchy songs, cool grooves and nice melodies. Not to be overlooked!

Westbound - Miles Away (2006)
Located in Italy this band hits the nail on its head with some relaxed smooth jazz songs, beautiful playing and memorable compositions. Thumbs up!

Al McKay Allstars - Live In Europe: The Earth, Wind & Fire Experience (2005)
Available as CD and DVD this great concert captures founding EWF member Al McKay with his tight band covering many of EWF's greatest songs recapturing the spririt of this band during their peak in the 70ies. Truly great stuff!

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

Eric Darius, Just Getting Started (Narada)

Joe Sample, Rainbow Seeker (MCA/GRP)

Kenny Wright, Herbie, Miles and Me... (Knee-Deep Records)

Deodato, Knights Of Fantasy/Night Cruiser (Wounded Bird Records)

Brecker Brothers, Return Of The Brecker Brothers (GRP)

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 3:33 AM

May 30, 2006

What We're Listening To * May

P E T E R * B O E H I

Robbie King - Jazz In Colours (2005)
Funky organ with mellow grooves and great sax and guitar playing. Top notch musicianship and catchy melodies lift your spirits. Very recommended!

Ted Shumate - A Different Shade Of Blue (2004)
Easy flowing guitar jazz with nice melodies and great playing, features some top notch session players. Excellent stuff.

Ultrablue - Ultrablue (2006)
Picture perfect smooth jazz by Ultrablue, a group led by keyboardist/producer John Smatla. One song is better than the other, we added most of it to the playlist of SmoothVibes radio. Don't miss it!

The Jeannette Harris Band - Down Route 99 (2004)
Jeannette Harris is a sax player much in the vein of Pamela Williams and delivers an outstanding smooth jazz album full of great playing and contemporary grooves. Worth to track down!

Paul Cruize - Cruize Control (2005)
Smooth, laid back, cool and groovy album by Arizona based guitarist/producer Paul Cruize delivering some chilling grooves. Give it a spin!

D E N I S * P O O L E

‘Say Something’ from the new CD by Shilts, Head Boppin. This is warm and romantic with that full Shilts sound that listeners will recall from his work with Down To The Bone. Its a piece of smooth jazz that checks all the right boxes.

‘A Jam For Pam’by Pamela Williams from her album Elixir. Oozing urban vibes, this is a smooth mid tempo foot tapper of the highest order.

‘Two Sides Of A Coin’ by Sean Turner from the CD Begin Again. With Turners keys periodically giving way to full sounding brass, this one is a real winner.

'Baby I Need Your Loving' from the Four Tops. This one can be found on the Motown Sound the latest of an exquisite selection of compilations available only from Starbucks Coffee Shops.

‘Just For Kicks’ from Gail Jhonson’s great CD Keep The Music Playing .This one typifies what the album is all about. Super tight and with just a hint of a Latin vibe it is a fine example of smooth jazz piano at its smoothest.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Victor Fields, Victor (Regina Records)

Pieces of a Dream, Pillow Talk (Heads Up)

Chris Standring, Soul Express (Trippin’ N Rhythm)

Nestor Torres, Dances, Prayers & Meditations for Peace (Heads Up)

Spyro Gyra, Wrapped in a Dream (Heads Up)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Chieli Minucci, Night Grooves (Shanachie) This one's been out since 2003, and if you haven't yet added it to your collection, you'll want to check it out; it's a wonderful compilation of Chieli compositions.

Soul Providers, Featuring Bob Baldwin (Koch Records), Filled with so much talent and great arrangements of songs you'll love, this is a must-have CD, to be released July 11, 2006. I've never seen Bob Baldwin in concert, but this CD convinced me I want to do that as soon as I can.

Phil Perry, Heartbeats/The Classic Love Songs, 2006. Just listen and dream....

Sweet + Sexy: The Best of New Urban Jazz, Narada Jazz, A compelling two CD collection of the Sweet sounds of Richard Elliot, Nick Colionne, Euge Groove, Walter Beasley, Warren Hill, Eric Darius, Jeff Lorber, Steve Cole, Jimmy Sommers and Chris Botti, and Pieces of a Dream and the Sexy sounds of Shades of Soul, Bob Baldwin, Jeff Golub, Everette harp, Alex Bugnon, Jason Miles, Joyce Cooling, Acoustic Alchemy, Craig Chaquico, St. Germain, and Down to the Bone. You can't lose on this CD, just released last month.

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Chris Standring, Soul Express (Trippin ‘N Rhythm): Standring’s lyrical guitar and meshing of smooth jazz with R&B, downtempo and jazz has never sounded better. Highlights include the Paul Brown-produced hit single “I Can’t Help Myself” and a meaty but accessible version of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps.”

Gumbi Ortiz, Miami (KWI): The longtime percussionist for Al DiMeola recruited Jeff Lorber, Eric Marienthal, Brandon Fields, Jay Beckenstein and DiMeola himself for this colorful project. The 14 songs fuse Latin, Cuban and Caribbean influences to maximum effect. Very nice.

Steve Briody, Keep on Talkin’ (215): Briody is a fine Smooth Jazz guitarist who is well-respected in the field and hopefully will get some much-deserved attention with his latest, which features guest spots by Jeff Lorber, Eric Marienthal and Greg Adams.

Bobby Lyle, Hands On (Heads Up): Pianist Bobby Lyle comes out with yet another solid offering that should be a hit with Smooth Jazz fans who favor the type of musical elegance pioneered by Joe Sample. The jazz standard “Poinciana” is sublime, but Bobby also has fun with covers of “Best of My Love” and “Minute by Minute.”

Oscar Castro-Neves, All One (Mack Avenue): The legendary Brazilian guitarist delivers another sublime CD of Brazilian jazz, helped by vocalist Lucian Souza and Brian Bromberg, who has a killer solo on “’Round Midnight.”

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 1:04 AM

April 30, 2006

What We're Listening To - April

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

jovinosn.jpgJovino Santos Neto, Roda Carioca (Adventure Music): Edgy Brazilian guitar rhythms from the Pacific Northwest pianist who traveled to his hometown of Rio de Janiero for this swinging project.

Ultrablue, Ultrablue (215): Smooth East Coast jazz from John Smatla and friends Nestor Torres, Pete Belasco, Gabriela Anders and Randy Brecker.

Matt Marshak, Groovosphere (Nuance): A must-have for fans of instrumental guitar music.

Brian Bromberg, Wood II (Artistry): The bassist extraordinaire has fun in an acoustic setting.

David Boswell, Bridge of Art (My Quiet Moon): Sublime guitar work from an underrated new artist.

P E T E R * B O E H I

cassandre3.jpgCassandre McKinley - Baring The Soul: The Music Of Marvin Gaye (2004)
The music of Marvin Gaye in an acoustic jazz setting delivered with soul and passion by this great singer. The music is often relaxed and laid-back providing us with some completely new interpretations of these classic songs.

Gene Cannon - Soul Dances (2006)
Great polished smooth jazz by sax player Gene Cannon supported by keyboard player Allon Sams. Gene recorded already with Allon Sams, Les Sabler and Paul Brown so you know that he is out of the top-drawer. Very recommended!

Dave Camp - Nightfall (1997)
Former sideman of Al Stewart and Peter White comes up with a beautiful smooth jazz album which is accessible, playful and heartfelt featuring the flute and sax playing of the leader. Love it!

Matt Marshak - Groovosphere (2005)
Guitar player Matt Marshak releases a brand new album full of groovy songs with memorable melodies, great hooks and cool guitar playing. I always enjoyed his music and think that Matt belongs to the genre's top players. Not to be missed!

Randy Jacobs - From Me To You (2005)
Guitar player Randy Jacobs has been playing and touring with many big name stars in pop and rock over the years. In the past few years he was mainly active in the smooth jazz scene which shows in his first album with features guests like Rick Braun, Mindy Abair, Euge Groove, Wayman Tisdale and more - I guess you know what to expect. Good work Randy!

D E N I S * P O O L E

'When I Saw You' by Nelson Rangell from his latest CD Soul To Soul. This is a wonderful track from a wonderful release by this often under rated artist.

'And The Beat Goes On' by Gerald Albright from the album New Beginnings. Gerald is on a roll with everything he currently does and he does it here to with a welcome reprise of the The Whispers classic.

'So Lovely' by Konstantin Klashtorni from the CD Led By You that will be released on May 22. This one could be one of the sensations of 2006

'Secret Soul' by Eric Darius from his latest release Just Getting Started. Darius collaborates with Brian Culbertson to stunning effect.

'Rainy Night In Georgia' by Nick Colionne from the Keepin It Cool CD. Great to see Nick getting the recognition that he has long deserved.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Steve Oliver, Radiant (Koch)

Eric Darius, Just Getting Started (Narada)

Rendezvous Lounge 2 (Rendezvous Music)

Randy Jacobs, From Me To You (Bad Monkey)

Marion Meadows, Dressed to Chill (Heads Up)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Jason Miles, What’s Goin’ On, 2006 (Narada) What a great way to go back and enjoy the music of Marvin Gaye. Essentially, this CD is the show I saw at the Berks Jazz Fest -- awesome in person and also on the CD. Talented musicians and vocalists throughout. Congratulations to Jason Miles for a great tribute.

Eric Darius, Just Getting Started, 2006 ( Narada) Also having had the opportunity to witness this power house of a player during the Berks Jazz Fest 2006, you won't want to miss this CD of indisputable evidence of his talent.

Nelson Rangell, Soul to Soul, (Koch) As time goes by, I come to appreciate Nelson's talent more and more. Whether it's saxophone, flute, piccolo or his own whistling, he is truly one of the most gifted musicians out there today. He is the king of staccato, and it's great fun to watch him play, he always seems to thoroughly enjoy himself.

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 3:54 AM

March 21, 2006

What We're Listening To - March

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Steve Oliver, Radiant, 2006. He’s done it again. A great listen all the way through and after even the first listen, it’s already replaying itself in your musical mind. The CD has an uplifting conceptual framework amid the struggles we all face in life. Original vocals 'Bend or Break' and 'Radiant' are excellent compositions with thought-provoking lyrics that show us more of the depth that is Steve Oliver, while at the same time his just-right vocal touches on the instrumental tunes make them soar! Awesome keyboard and programming by both Michael Broening and Tom Schumann, also features Gerald Veasley on bass on one of the tracks.

Harry Hmura, Face to the Sun, 2006. A second solo CD that showcases Harry’s tremendous skill on the guitar. Simply amazing, indescribable, tireless playing, once again. Stirring vocals by Harry Hmura himself and always that wonderful Latin jazz feel throughout. The inspirational title is only the beginning of your journey to a place where you can bask in the warmth of the guitarist’s ability to bring you to a place where you’re feeling great and ready to tackle the world. A great follow-up to his first CD, Passion. After seeing a DVD of Hmura’s playing, I strongly recommend not only buying the CD, but booking him for a concert – he’s a player who is totally one with his guitar and you won’t be disappointed with his energetic, electric performance.

Janita, Seasons of Life, 2006. Very soulful singer from Finland, now working in NYC, whose voice and lyrics draw you in immediately. Tunes that stay with you and become pleasant memories that you want to keep going back to. A Basia feel in some of the tunes , with a more sultry voice that does every song justice. The appeal of this album is enhanced with awesome string arrangements, and that really shows in 'Enjoy The Silence,' sure to be a hit, and my personal favorite. We'll be hearing a lot more about this artist, to be sure.

Jay Soto, Long Time Coming, 2005. I’ve recently come across this powerhouse of a guitar player and I am nothing short of stunned with his ability to do something I don’t often see in a CD, which is to play quite an assortment of tunes to clearly demonstrate his versatility. In some tunes he reminds me of Russ Freeman and Peter White.

Donald Fagen, Morph the Cat, 2006. There will never be a time when I won’t buy anything recorded by Steely Dan or Donald Fagen. One just has to make the attempt to keep up with the latest world view coming out of some of the most creative minds in history. 'H Gang' is the one I like best (for now)!

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Roy Ayers, Virgin Ubiquity Remixed (BBE/Rapster): The legendary vibe master gets a fresh new electronica makeover by some of today's hottest producers.

Spyro Gyra, Wrapped in a Dream (Heads Up): Another solid work by Jay Beckenstein and company with some real bite and amazing solo work by Beckenstein.

Philippe Saisse Trio, The Body and Soul Sessions (G&N): A CD of mostly pop songs offered in an accessible jazz framework. Will be released soon by Rendezvous Entertainment but is now available on Saisse's website.

Monty Alexander, Concrete Jungle: The Music of Bob Marley (Tuff Gong/Telarc): Nobody does reggae in a jazz-piano style better than Alexander.

Althea Rene, In the Moment (Chocolate Caramel): Smooth Jazz flute with an urban flavor. The title song is one of the best of the year and should be a smooth jazz single. Highly recommended.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Rodney Taylor - Blow By Blow (2003)
This sax player sounds eerily similar to Gerald Albright, blindfolded I would bet this was the man. Nevertheless this is some well produced, very contemporary smooth jazz which is very recommended.

Keith Anderson - Diversity (1997)
Smooth and cool sax player with a very polished set. Very well done, not to be overlooked!

Keith Jacobson - I Wanna Be With You (2005)
Picture perfect smooth jazz set by sax player Keith Jacobson with top notch production and radio friendly gems in abundance. With Eric Marienthal and Patrick Yandall guesting. Great music!

Tom Schuman - Deep Chill (2005)
Spyro Gyra keyboard player Tom Schuman delivers a great smooth jazz album with some notable guests like Peter White and Jeff Kashiwa. Thumbs up!

Mike Stevens - Joy (1998)
I overlooked this album when it originally came out and am happy to have discovered it eventually. Great sax playing by Mike Stevens and some soulful vocals by Meli'sa Morgen make this a top notch record.

D E N I S * P O O L E

When You Comin' Back To Me by Brenda Russell from her wonderful CD Between The Sun And The Moon. This is as smoky and soulful as you will hear all year.

Love TKO by Eric Darius from his current release Night On The Town. With a new CD due out on March 7 Darius is going to be going from strength to strength.

Maxi's by Richard Elliott from Metro Blue. Its an indication of the quality of this one that the radio play lists have not yet got to the best tracks.

Firefly by Greg Adams from the CD of the same name. Its one of those that gets in your head and won't go away.

Love Will Never Let You Down from the Brian Culbertson release It's On Tonight. With awesome contributions from Pattie Austin and Kirk Whalum this is one I keep coming back to.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

2002, The Emerald Way (Real Music)

Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Long Walk to Freedom (Heads Up Africa)

Unwrapped Vol. 4 (Hidden Beach Recordings)

Jamie Cullum, Catching Tales (Verve Forecast)

Amik Desires: The Romantic Collection (Bolero)

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 4:26 AM

January 31, 2006

What We're Listening To - January

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Nick Colionne, Keepin' It Cool (Narada Jazz)

Eric Darius, Just Getting Started (Narada jazz)

Jason Miles, What's Going On? (Narada Jazz)

Bob James, Urban Flamingo (Koch Records)

Incognito, Eleven (Narada Jazz)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Chieli Minucci, Sweet On You

Harry Hmura, Face to the Sun (soon to be released!)

Carpenters, 35th Anniversary Collection

The Richard Smith Unit, Puma Creek

Paul Jackson, Jr., Never Alone

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Various Artists, Unwrapped Vol. 4 (Hidden Beach): The fourth installment of Unwrapped features a Latin-y read of the Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.” If that doesn't sound good to you, you probably won't dig this jazz-meets-hip-hop collection.

Maysa, Sweet Classic Soul (Shanachie): The husky vocalist crafts beautiful music from some of her favorite artists. Howabout these? “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face,” “Betcha By Golly Wow” and “Love Won’t Let Me Wait.”

Willie and Lobo, Zambra (Narada): More of the best Gypsy smooth jazz on the planet, produced by trumpeter Rick Braun. Braun also wrote a song dedicated to victims of last year’s devastating hurricane called “Balada Para Katrina.”

Victor Fields, Victor (Regina Records): Nothing harsh, very mellow. In addition to originals, the soulful vocalist tackles Vince Gill’s “Colder Than Winter,” Stevie Wonder’s “Golden Lady” and the jazz standards “Lush Life” and “Night and Day.”

Tom Shuman, Deep Chill (JazzBridge Music/Monogram Records): The Spryo Gyra keyboardist steps out with his fourth solo CD with help from saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa, guitarists Peter White and Chuck Loeb.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Audley Reid - A Plays E (2005)
Very good smooth jazz album by veteran sax player Audley Reid who can compete with the best. Very recommended.

The Clients - Red Lounge (2004)
Jazz-Funk band from Switzerland offer a nice selection of danceable instrumentals with great sax and trombone playing sometimes reminding me of the Crusaders. Check them out at

TFOXX - Now Can U Feel Me (2005)
Guitar player TFOXX joined forces with keyboard player Allon Sams to deliver this beautiful slice of smooth jazz in the spirit of Norman Brown. Don't miss it.

Michael Ross - Reloaded (2005)
Guitar player Michael Ross comes up with a new album full of memorable melodies and top notch guitar playing. Just love it!

Michael Manson - Just Feelin' It (2005)
Polished smooth jazz album by noted bass player Michael Manson with many of the genre's best players (Paul Jackson, Jr, Kirk Whalum and the like) guesting. Exclusively available at his website.

D E N I S * P O O L E

'Gimme Your Groove' by Gail Jhonson from her excellent CD Keep The Music Playing. This is a real piece of buried treasure from Norman Browns musical director and keyboard player.

'Hold On' by Tony Whitfield from his current release Pleasure Sensitive 2. One of the smoothest racks you will hear this year.

'Third Times The Charm' by Bob Baldwin from All In A Days Work. A wonderful top notch tune that is vintage Baldwin.

'Love TKO' by Hall and Oates from Our Kind Of Soul. These guys had a radio resurgence in 2005 and tracks like this explain why.

'Summer Nights' from Nils from his hugely succesful album Pacific Coast Highway. Its nice to see this one riding high in the radio play list charts after tipping it last year as the best track on the CD.

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 12:51 AM

December 27, 2005

What We're Listening To -- December

D E N I S * P O O L E

'Baby Its Cold Outside,' by James Taylor featuring Natalie Cole from his 2004 Christmas album on Hallmark.

'Auld Lang Syne,' by Steve Cole, a previously un-released track that appears on the WNUA Sampler CD Volume 18.

'This Christmas,' by Patti Austin from the N Coded Album Tis The Season.

'Sleigh Ride,' by Boney James from the release on Warner Bros Boney's Funky Christmas.

'In The Bleak Mid Winter,' by James Taylor also from his 2004 Christmas album on Hallmark

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Michael O’Neill, Funky Fiesta (Green Bean Records)

George Benson, Live (GRP)

Rick Braun, Yours Truly (ARTizen)

Ramsey Lewis, With One Voice (Narada Jazz)

Boy Katindig, Groovin’ High (Kool Kat Productions)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

June Kuramoto, Spirit of the Season

Acoustic Alchemy, Arcanum

Ken Navarro, Ablaze in Orlando

Paul Hardcastle, Hardcastle 4

Special EFX, Masterpiece

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Norman Brown, The Very Best of Norman Brown (GRP): This new CD features music from Brown’s early music on the MoJazz label. It happens to include some of the guitarist’s best songs, such as “Better Days Ahead” and “Lydian.”

Craig Chaquico, Holiday (Higher Octave): Jazz rock sounds for the holidays from the pride of Ashland, Ore.

Various Artists, Nu Jazz Sessions (Groove Gravy): Remixes of Sarah Vaughan and McCoy Tyner standards plus originals by Praful and Physics make this a way cool collection.

Ramsey Lewis, With One Voice (Narada Jazz): The 70-year-old piano icon makes his very first gospel CD. It’s jazzy, soulful and reverential. There’s also a reggae tune, “Keep the Spirit.”

Steve Oliver, Snowfall (Oohla Productions): Ten re-imagined classic holiday tunes from the guitar and vocalist. Sublime.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Gerardo Frisina - The Latin Kick (2005)
This CD is by no means a smooth jazz CD but since it has given me lots of pleasure I want to mention it here. This is a smoking afrocuban latin jazz album with lots of congas and timbales, fiery brass and spirited soloing underpinned with a subtle dance groove. Cool!

Marc Antoine - Modern Times (2005)
To be honest: I have been buying Marc Antoine CDs because he was a mainstay of the smooth jazz scene but never really enjoyed his music - until this great CD came along. This album grooves and employs current dance and house rhythms which elevate the music to the next level. Congrats Marc!

G-Sax - White (2005)
This is a top-notch sax player from Switzerland offering his second CD full of smooth sax playing and cool grooves done really well. Covers include "Captain Of Her Heart" and Sade's "Smooth Operator". Check it out at!

Dwayne "Smitty" Smith - This Is Me (2005)
Bass player Dwayne "Smitty" Smith who played with many luminaries of the genre comes out with a beautiful solo album full with memorable melodies and contemporary grooves and top-drawer guest artists (like Gerald Albright). Don't miss it!

Darren Gholston - D's Mood (2005)
One wonders why such great sax players like Darren Gholston are not wider recognized. This totally contemporary, cool and urban album features the leader on sax and boasts a wide array of first-rate smooth jazz. Recommended!

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 2:34 AM

November 29, 2005

What We're Listening To - November

P E T E R * B O E H I

Alex Bugnon - Free (2005)
Stylish, funky, groovy and smooth piano playing by this veteran artist. Alex delivers some top-notch music out of the top drawer still going strong after all these years.

Kirk Whalum Performs The Babyface Songbook (2005)
Warm, soulful, melodic and smooth sax soothing your soul. With the Babyface songbook you know what to expect, but nevertheless very pleasant.

Bradley Leighton - Back To The Funk (2005)
Funky and groovy release by this great alto flute player. The overall feeling is warm and analog recreating the spirit of years gone by. Very listenable despite the funk tag.

Devoted Spirits: A Tribute To Earth, Wind & Fire (2005)
EWF band members Larry Dunn, Sheldon Reynolds and Morris Pleasure - along with some outstanding guest artists - deliver their interpretation of many of EWF's greatest songs.

Michael O'Neill - Funky Fiesta (2005)
Standing in the shadow of George Benson as a longtime member of his band Michael O'Neill steps out into the spotlight again delivering a stunning, absolutely brilliant smooth jazz album - don't miss it!

D E N I S * P O O L E

'Balbao Cafe' by Otis Hayes III from his self titled debut CD. This vibraphone player is like a breath of fresh air.

'Live It Up' by Jay Soto from his CD Long Time Coming. Michael Lington lends a hand on this ultra commercial piece of smooth jazz.

'Morning Dance' from Marcin Nowakowski from his album Smooth Night. Nowakowski is from Poland and is certainly one to watch for the future.

'Its Christmas (almost) so Baby Its Cold Outside' from James Taylor's A Christmas Album will be playing 24/7!!

Finally from the vaults is 'Just A Little' by Tom Scott from his 2002 release New Found Freedom. Give yourself a Christmas treat and seek this one out.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Marc Antoine, Modern Times (Rendezvous Music)

David Benoit, Orchestral Stories (Peak Records)

Warren Hill, Pop Jazz (Native Language)

Gregg Karukas, Looking Up (Trippin’ N Rhythm)

Kyle Eastwood, Paris Blue (Rendezvous)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Ken Navarro, Christmas Cheer

T-Square, T-Square 2000

David Benoit, Professional Dreamer

Acoustic Alchemy, AArt

Jeff Golub, Dangerous Curves

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Tom Schuman, Deep Chill: The new solo CD by the Spyro Gyra keyboardist features saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa and guitarists Peter White and Chuck Loeb.

Michael Buble, Caught in the Act: The crooner from British Columbia offers a lot of music here, with eight live songs on a CD and a DVD with 18, one of which includes Chris Botti ("Song For You"). Buble is a must-see in concert.

Jeffrey Osborne, From the Soul: The veteran has never sounded better on this CD of cover songs, especially on "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and "Knocks Me Off My Feet."

Victor Fields, Victor: The vocalist with chops galore gets help from producer Chris Camozzi on this sparkling set featuring "Night and Day," "Lush Life" and a tune penned by guitarist Chuck Loeb called "This Could Be Paradise."

Anita Baker, Christmas Fantasy: This is the jazz record that the veteran R&B artist always wanted to record.

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 1:47 AM

October 29, 2005

What We're Listening To -- October

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Chris Botti, To Love Again, released October 18th. A great CD which shows his love of traditional standards. He makes me appreciate all the more the music I grew up with in my parents' home.

Ben Folds Five, Whatever and Ever Amen, 1997. I saw their name often enough but never listened until I was caught off guard and realized how much I enjoyed the vocalist and the piano. The tongue-in-cheek introduction of the care they took in producing this CD had me laughing; lyrics are thought-provoking and reminiscent of some common painful themes of human existence. Vocals include capable harmonizing and the piano leaves a lasting impression on a number of tracks. In spots I'm reminded of the Beatles and Steely Dan and that's always a good thing.

The New York Rock and Soul Revue, Live at the Beacon, 1991. Libby Titus produced this great show featuring Donald Fagan, Michael McDonald, Boz Scaggs, Phoebe Snow and other familiar names, with tunes from Steely Dan, The Rascals’ Felix Cavaliere/Eddie Brigati, Gamble and Huff, to name a few. So much of this so perfectly done (in addition to the raw talent of the performers, Donald Fagan would have it no other way, I realize). ‘Drowning In the Sea of Love’ with Boz Scaggs on the vocals is amazing.

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Various Artists, 40 Years: A Charlie Brown Christmas: A little early for Christmas, perhaps, but this powerhouse smooth jazz CD produced by David Benoit also has one of the year’s best songs: guitarist Norman Brown’s “Skating.”

Chris Botti, To Love Again: It sounds a lot like his last one, but there are nine vocals, including those by Michael Buble, Renee Olstead and Steven Tyler from – gulp – Aerosmith. One quibble – Rosa Passos should have sung in her native Portuguese since her accent is too distracting.

Will Downing, Soul Symphony: The man with the golden voice returns with nine new classics, including the irresistible “Put Me On.”

Kyle Eastwood, Paris Blue: Some jazz, some funk and two groovy dance-floor remixes that defy expectations. Bravo to Eastwood for not painting himself into a jazz corner. Check out proud papa Clint whistling on “Big Noise (From Winnetka).”

Bob Baldwin, All in a Day’s Work: Another stellar CD by an underrated pianist. One of the best CDs of the year, including some great Brazilian stuff.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Jay Soto , Long Time Coming (2005)
Great debut album by guitar player Jay Soto boasting lots of groovy and memorable tracks featuring Michael Lington on sax.

Bob Baldwin, All In A Day's Work (2005)
Well rounded smooth jazz album by underrated keyboard player Bob Baldwin hitting bull's eye again.

Lynn Cannon , Walk In The Park (2001)
I am a big fan of this keyboard player and like each one of his releases, this on included. Great keyboard playing and catchy compositions lead to a satisfying result, very recommended.

U-Nam , The Past Builds The Future (2005)
Debut album by guitarist U-Nam offering a great mix of soul/r&b tunes and smooth jazz boasting guests like Rahsaan Patterson, Phil Perry, Gary Meek and Jeff Lorber among others.

Vincent Lars - Inner Search (2005)
Warm smooth saxophone over contemporary grooves emanating an urban/r&b feeling, laid-back, steamy and sensuous.

D E N I S * P O O L E

'Embraceable You' by Chris Botti from the CD To Love Again. His sublime trumpet solo of this timeless Gershwin classic sets a high standard for the entire album.

'Soul Steppin' by Will Downing from his CD Soul Symphony. Everyone loves to 'step' and Rex Rideouts production on this one really gets in the groove.

'When Loves Comes To Town' by Herbie Hancock featuring Joss Stone and Jonny Lang from the CD Possibilities. Best track of an interesting and eclectic album.

'Charmed' by Najee from the CD My Point Of View. One of the best of a very good bunch.

'Get Em Goin' by Euge Groove from the CD Just Feels Right. This one is not #3 in the top thirty most played for nothing.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Paul Brown, The City (GRP)

Bona Fide, Soul Lounge (Heads Up)

Euge Groove, Just Feels Right (Narada Jazz)

Def Jazz (GRP)

Earl Klugh, Naked Guitar (Koch Records)

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 1:21 AM

September 28, 2005

What We're Listening To - September

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Andre Delano, Full Circle (7th Note)

Warren Hill, Pop Jazz (Pop Jazz/Native Language)

Najee, My Point of View (Heads Up)

Paul Hardcastle, Hardcastle 4 (Trippin’ N Rhythm)

Brian Culbertson, It’s On Tonight (GRP)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Terry Disley, The Terry Disley Experience, 2004. Acoustic Alchemy’s former keyboard player who is now touring with them for some of their Trio concerts. Extremely talented player and this CD is great testimony to that fact.

Nick Colionne, Arrival, 1996. It’s worth finding and listening to all of Nick Colionne’s music, present and past.

Special EFX, Party, 2003. I never tire of this excellent CD. To me, it tells a story from beginning to end.

Amedeo Minghi, Cantare d'Amore. Not smooth jazz, but classical music and a personal favorite of mine. I stumbled on him a few years ago quite by accident while looking for a CD by saxophone player Amedeo Bianchi. Amedeo is the name that links both of these very special Italian artists, each classically trained and renowned composers and teachers. The CD is all in Italian, but it doesn't matter at's nothing short of breathtaking, I guess because love is love in any language.

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Sven Van Hess, Synthesia (Your Lips): Downtempo grooviness. Look for Van Hess to make a big impact on the chill scene.

Waldino, Get Loose (Walter Liskiewicz): Chill never sounded so good.

Milton Nascimento, Pieta (Savoy Jazz): The Brazilian with the godly vocals gets an assist from Pat Metheny.

Ernest Ranglin, Surfin' (Tropic): Surf music and reggae from a legend.

Kevin Toney, 110 Degrees and Rising (Shanachie): Great musical mix from an underrated keyboardist.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Kem, Album II (2005)
Smooth and soulful vocal R&B album with a touch of jazz which is absolutely brilliant and stands head and shoulders above the majority of current soul releases.

Brian Simpson , It's All Good (2005)
Beauty and perfection: This sums up this truly great, very polished and ultimately smooth album by pianist Brian Simpson. A gem not to be missed.

Brian Culbertson, It's On Tonight (2005)
This man possesses the absolute knack of melody, groove and mood in a smooth jazz setting. This romantic album is an aural bliss for the connoisseur!

Gregg Karukas, Looking Up (2005)
Elegant, polished, laid-back album by keyboardist Gregg Karukas boasting lots of memorable tunes and superior musicianship. First-rate stuff!

Warren Hill, Popjazz (2005)
Great sax album by veteran smooth jazz artist Warren Hill with some great covers of funk classics "Low Rider" and "Play That Funky Music" among some picture perfect instrumentals.

D E N I S * P O O L E

Paul Hardcastle, ‘Smooth Jazz Is Bumpin’ from Hardcastle 4. Being from the UK I'm bound to select Hardcastle and when a guy makes music like this its an easy choice to make.

Brian Simpson, ‘And So The Story Goes’ from his CD It’s All Good. Although not yet slated for radio play this is the best track on the album.

Euge Groove, ‘Just Feels Right,’ the title track from latest CD of the same name. It has a string arrangement that washes over you like a warm summer breeze and a feel good factor that will leave you glowing inside.

Euge Groove, Chillaxin, also from the Just Feels Right CD, has a big beat that underpins some typical wizardry from Groove and Paul Brown and mid tempo soprano sax that makes this a foot tapper of the highest order.

Angie Stone, ‘Bottles And Cans’ from her CD Mahogany Soul. Top notch soul of the highest order.

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 2:39 AM

August 31, 2005

What We're Listening To - August

D E N I S * P O O L E

'Summer Nights,' by Nils from his excellent Pacific Coast Highway, the ultimate chill out smooth jazz CD of 2005.

'Wear It Out,' by Brian Culbertson from his outstanding CD Its On Tonight. This is just one of many memorable tracks from this wonderful release.

'Strawberry Letter 23,' from the Brothers Johnson, from the digitally remastered imprint of their 1977 original Right on Time. This is one of the great smooth soul tracks of all time.

‘Stranded,’ by Van Morrison, from his new release Magic Time. Having seen Morrison live recently, this was one CD that I just had to go out and buy.

‘Girls And Boys,’ by Marcus Miller, from the CD Silver Rain. This Prince composition with vocals by Macy Gray is a real winner.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Praful, Pyramid In Your Backyard (Rendezvous)

Down to the Bone, Spread Love Like Wildfire (Narada Jazz)

Richard Elliot, MetroBlue (Artizen Music Group)

Lee Ritenour, OverTime (Peak Records)

The Rippingtons, Wild Card (Peak Records)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Nick Colionne, Just Come On In,(Three Keys Music, 2005)

Joe McBride, Texas Hold'em, (Heads Up International, 2005)

Najee, My Point of View, (Heads Up International, 2005)

Jaared, Hang Time, (Marimelj Entertainment Group, 2002)

Will Brock, A Letter From Eye to I, (DHP Records)

P E T E R * B O E H I

Bryan Anderson - Slow Your Roll (2005)
Another winner by this bass player offering lots of relaxed smooth jazz with a great band. Don't miss it!

Bona Fide - Soul Lounge (2005)
Top-notch album by Bona Fide this time a bit more laid-back than previous efforts but nonetheless with a certain groove factor.

Eric Essix - Abide With Me (2005)
Inspirational mostly instrumental album by this guitar player which lifts your spirits and soothes your soul.

Paul Brown - The City (2005)
After years just at the producer's helm now coming up with his second release which is another slice of smooth jazz heaven.

Paul Hardcastle - Hardcastle 4 (2005)
Still riding on his successful formula of contemporary grooves with excellent production and jazzy instrumentation make this another worthwhile effort.

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 2:34 AM

July 24, 2005

What We're Listening To -- July

P E T E R * B O E H I

LinRountreeGroovetree.jpgLin Rountree - Groovetree (2004)
Trumpet player Lin Rountree comes up with a polished, smooth and very contemporary set. Truly great music that soothes your soul!

Bryan Anderson - Beaufort Avenue (2005)
Bass player Bryan Anderson offers a relaxed smooth jazz set with beautiful compositions and heartfelt playing. Very recommended.

Down To The Bone - Spread Love Like Wildfire (2005)
Groovy tracks with a full horn section, screaming organ and catchy compositions make this another outstanding release by this British combo.

Steven Lee Group - From The Ground Up (2003)
Headed by guitar player Steven Lee this group delivers some great smooth jazz and outstanding playing putting you in a laid-back mood.

NexLevel - Level One (2004)
NexLevel is a Columbus-based band that specializes in smooth jazz, rhythm & blues and urban contemporary gospel styles of music. Don't miss it!

Bryan Anderson, Steven Lee Group and NexLevel are available at, Lin Rountree and DTTB are available at

D E N I S * P O O L E

DannyFedericiOutOfADream.jpg'Miss You' by Danny Federici from his forthcoming CD Out Of a Dream. This is sure to be one of the smooth jazz covers of the year.

'Old Friends' by Paul Brown from his new CD The City that is out this week. An excellent overall recording that is that much more confident and assured than his debut album of last year.

'Love Will Never Let You Down' by Brian Culbertson from the CD Its On Tonight due out on July 26. A very special track indeed.

'The Rain' with vocals by Culbertson collaborator Ledisi from the concept album Def Jazz due out in August. This one will be a major player.

'Steppin' Up by Mark Hollingsworth from his new CD On The Mark. Ex session man Hollingsworth steps center stage to great effect.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

renascott.jpgRena Scott, Let Me Love You (Amor Records) – The one time backup singer for Aretha Franklin and featured performer with The Crusaders works up a soothing and romantic, ballad heavy collection that makes for the perfect soundtrack to a balmy summer night.

The Reverend Al Green, Everything’s OK (Blue Note)
Don Murray & Vuelo, Romanza (Whaling City Sound)
Patrick Yandall, Just Be Thankful (Apria Records)
David Pack, The Secret of Moving On (Peak Records)

O’2L, Doyle’s Brunch (Peak Records)
Mark Carter, West Coast Groove (Mark Carter Productions)
Jeff Golub, Temptation (Narada Jazz)
Steve Cole, Spin (Narada Jazz
Jim Brickman, Grace (Windham Hill/RCA Victor)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

HarryHmuraPassion.jpgHarry Hmura, Passion, 2003 (Stormcloud)
This is a debut CD by Harry Hmura, guitarist and composer who has had an impressive career including playing festivals all over the world. Well known for his contributions to Latin Jazz, he also spent five years with Brian Culbertson before embarking on his own career. Passion is filled with just that -- passion! His skill is firmly established on the first track and simply continues all the way through. 'Lucky Lady' is an especially compelling Latin jazz track. One thing that strikes me about his playing is that he rarely gives the guitar any break in the song, he just fills in everywhere in a completely effective and tireless performance on many of the songs. He can communicate anything and everything with that guitar.

He'll have a second CD coming out soon, so this is a good time to catch up with what he's done on Passion (if you haven't already), so that you can be in the same position I'm in -- on the edge of your seat waiting for 'the new one,' which will be entitled Face to the Sun. Stay tuned for the release date and more about Harry Hmura. Visit

Others I'm listening to:

Chuck Loeb, When I'm With You (2005, Shanachie)
Robin Avery, The Way You Hold Me (2005)
Najee, My Point of View (upcoming)
Will Brock, A Letter From Eye to I, (DHP Records)

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Paul Brown, The City: The great smooth jazz producer does it again on his sophomore solo recording. The first single is classic Brown – light guitar riff over vocalese. But he dares to rock on “Real Mutha For Ya,” a cover of the Johnny “Guitar” Watson classic with voice-box effects on the guitar. Cool stuff.

Bebel Gilberto, Bebel Gilberto: Just as solid as her classic Tanto Tempo, Gilberto’s latest features another intoxicating mix of Brazilian bossa-electronica sung in Portuguese and English. The highlight here is the memorable “All Around.” A remix CD is already out. A real discovery for smooth jazz fans.

Brian Culbertson, It’s On Tonight: The pianist’s latest won’t be released until later in July, but reserve your copy now. This CD of “slow jams” actually begins with the uptempo “Let’s Get Started,” a feel-good ride. Twelve songs, all great, with a few well-placed vocals mixed in with the instrumentals. Best track – the dreamy, “Dreaming of You.” The album is by far Culbertson’s most consistent.

Suzanne Ciani, Silver Ship: The queen of new age-piano music returns with another masterpiece that will have you dreaming of tall ships cutting through fog-shrouded water. OK, maybe not, but see what her music can do to you?

Richard Elliot, Metro Blue: The veteran saxophonist has never sounded better, and his knack for writing pure pop songs in unquestioned. Especially delicious are “Coastline,” “Mango Tango” and the top smooth jazz cover version of the Stylistics’ “People Make the World Go Round.”

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 3:03 AM

June 22, 2005

What We're Listening To -- June

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Sandro Albert, The Color of Things: Sandro Albert, a Brazilian guitarist, is a breath of fresh air and a must-listen for those who enjoy the Brazilian-themed guitar work by Pat Metheney, Lee Ritenour and Brian Hughes. Grand statements are realized here, and Albert shows his chops on songs such as the title track and “Minas to Rio.” One especially noteworthy track is “Aguas,” if only because it features the late, great Mark Ledford’s vocalese, sounding as fresh as when he brightened Metheny’s music.

Jason Parra & the X Factor, Two Reasons: Smooth jazz trumpet music straight out of Boise, Idaho. Building on funk and R&B influences, Parra delivers a mostly grooving set that recalls Rick Braun, especially on “Aguamala” and “What Goes Around.” Good stuff.

Various Artists, Motown Remixed: The originals are still cool, of course, but what’s not to like about hearing Marvin Gaye’s original vocals on “Let’s Get It On” with a pumped-up rhythm section? Some songs work better than others, but overall there’s a lot here to like. It’s like revisiting the past while moving forward. Weird, I know.

Marcus Click, Movin’ On: Smooth and sassy, saxophonist Marcus Click delivers smooth jazz that sometimes feels just about right. Other times, such as on “Smooth Ride” – a song I keep returning to – he’s creating music that steps just a little outside the comfort zone and is the better for it.

Vic Juris, A Second Look: Juris is a veteran musician who has created a quintessential acoustic jazz guitar record. He knows when to be fast and furious and when to let the music breathe. The result is a CD that shows off Juris’ skills but also is remarkably easy and relaxing to listen to. This is why people around the world love American jazz.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Jackiem Joyner - This Time Around (2005)
This sax player caught my attention on the recent Marcus Johnson DVD "In Person Live" and now comes up with his debut album full of sweet and soulful sax and flute playing with lots of mellow contemporary grooves - another rising star next to Eric Darius.

Jefferson - Jeff Our Son (2004)
Guitarist Jefferson offers a funky and groovy album with memorable compositions, lots of great guitar playing backed by a competent band with smoking sax and keyboard solos.

Gabriel Mark Hasselbach - First Name Basis (2005)
Beautiful smooth jazz album by veteran trumpet player Gabriel Mark Hasselbach delivering catchy songs over a polished contemporary backdrop. Contains a nice cover of Lisa Stansfield's "Been Around The World".

Al Turner - It's Good To Have Friends (2005)
Bass player Al Turner delivers a funky album full of heavy bass playing and groovy jazz-funk tracks boasting "friends" like Everette Harp on sax, Paul Jackson Jr. and Earl Klugh on guitar among others.

Jeff Golub - Temptation (2005)
Guitarist Jeff Golub hits the bulls eye again with his latest album. Funky, groovy, mellow, finger-snapping, jazzy - you name it. A pure delight from beginning to end and very recommended.

PS: The Jackiem Joyner, Jefferson and Al Turner CDs are available at

D E N I S * P O O L E

'Confounded' by Steve Cole from his current release Spin. A piece of smooth jazz that shows a new side and an added depth to Steve's music.

'Come As You Are' by Mindi Abair from the album of the same name. For a little girl Mindi sure has a big big sound.

'Strawberry Letter 23' by The Brothers Johnson. A track to challenge Kool and The Gangs 'Summer Madness' as the chill out track of all time.

'Wish You Were Near' by Acoustic Alchemy from their 2001 release Aart. For those of you who have not rediscovered AA post 'The Beautiful Game' get out and check them out now.

'The Secret Garden' by Brian Culbertson from his CD Something Bout Love. I have been doing some work this month with Lisa Taylor from the Culbertson fan club so I got the chance to get into his music all over again.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Gerald Veasley, At The Jazz Base! (Heads Up)

Jason McGuire, Distancias (Bolero Records)

Brian Bromberg, Choices (Artistry Music)

Jonathan Butler, Jonathan (Rendezvous Entertainment)

Down To The Bone, Spread Love Like Wildfire (Narada Jazz)

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Queen Latifah, The Dana Owens Album, 2004. What a versatile singer – soft and sultry, big and powerful, talking her way through some songs to make a point, she can serenade you so you strain to catch every phrase, or she can belt it out and make you listen. Unbelievable version of ‘California Dreamin’ beginning with just her voice, then the guitar and violins creeping in, leading to a symphony sound reminiscent of some Elton John songs of yesteryear, working up to an ending with definite jazz phrasing and capped off with some flamenco guitar. Great organ accompaniment, especially on ‘Simply Beautiful. Great phrasing and dynamics on gospel-flavored ‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy’ and a perfect rendition of ‘Hello Stranger.

Tom Grant and Valerie Day, Side by Side, 2005. What a winning combination these two are, Day being the lead singer of the ‘80s group NuShooz with a subsequent career all her own, and Grant having been a successful pianist/vocalist in many genres of music. Each of them brings to this venture their love of jazz, spontaneity, and enormous talent and appreciation for each other. Includes 13 familiar tunes – songs like Charade, On the Street Where You Live, Midnight Sun, Up On the Roof (that one is an incredible rendition) and others. Upbeat and fun listening!

Gerald Veasley, At the Jazz Base! 2005. I was at this recorded session, and listening to the CD brings back all the excitement of having been there to see the performance of Gerald and his awesome band, with Will Brock and Peter Kuzma on keyboards, Eric Greene on drums, Pablo Batista on percussion, and Chris Farr on saxophone. Listeners will witness how Gerald brings us all under his spell as he asks us to ‘Sit …back..and relax.’ (interview and recap of the recording session coming soon…)

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 4:24 AM

May 24, 2005

What We're Listening To

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

SteelyDanPianoJazz.jpgMarian McPartland’s Piano Jazz Radio Broadcast with Steely Dan. (Broadcast 2003, CD release 2005) What a discovery this CD has been – a blending of my all-time favorite band with a jazz pianist who has hosted the Piano Jazz show for over 25 years now. Anyone who is familiar with Steely Dan knows of the jazz elements used in their music since the early 70’s, and this CD is eight tracks of memorable, intriguing and entertaining conversation between Marian McPartland, Donald Fagan and Walter Becker, punctuated by renditions of 'Limbo Jazz,' 'Josie,' 'Mood Indigo,' 'Star Eyes,' 'Hesitation Blues,' 'Things Ain’t What They Used to Be,' 'Chain Lightening,' and 'Black Friday.'

McPartland, whose quite accomplished career began at the age of three as she played Chopin by ear, discovered Steely Dan during a visiting nephew’s sharing of Donald Fagan’s Nightfly, and later when she heard Two Against Nature, she “fell completely in love with their music.” No doubt her admiration only grew as she learned that Steely Dan loves jazz and that they love Duke Ellington. Their conversation is priceless; she makes a comment about their lyrics and how they sometimes have to ‘wriggle [the lyrics] into the music.’ The explanation? They were determined to write stories that would set apart each song from another, but in the process, the music often didn't have enough syllables in which to fit the entire story – so sometimes a piece is missing. Dan fans well understand this fact, and devote hours, days, even years figuring out the meaning of their lyrics!

The music played on this CD uses a smaller band, so it's more simplified, but no less effective, in demonstrating the jazz heritage and passion of all three players. Fagan and Becker are joined by Jay Leonhart on bass and Keith Carlock on drums, and on a few songs, by McPartland herself, and what a treat it is to hear all of the music they played on the show. Just a totally fun listen, bringing in some great history not only of Steely Dan as the guests, but also jazz greats like Duke Ellington and W.C. Handy. Her wrap-up of her time with them? “I think they had a ball, and I certainly did. Those guys are so funny and so witty and deadpan.”

Despite their sometimes crazy antics during interviews (which fans know can provide more comedy than one can put into words), I’ve always sensed a certain modesty with Don and Walt, and I loved listening to the more gentle and obviously ‘in awe’ side of their personalities that came across on this show – they were, after all, in the presence of a truly legendary lady in the world of piano jazz. And perhaps for this reason, she was more successful than many in getting into the heads -- and hearts -- of two of the most creative minds in contemporary music.

Any Steely Dan fan and any fan of jazz music will thoroughly enjoy the time these three musical legends spent together. Learn more about Steely Dan and the fascinating Marian McPartland on the web.

P E T E R * B O E H I

kennybrooks2.jpgKenny Brooks - Jetstream (2005)
Guitarist Kenny Brooks offers some great smooth jazz guitar playing over contemporary grooves. Another outstanding artist waiting to be discovered at

Althea René - Flute Talk (2000)
I just discovered this female flute player at This is some absolutely top-notch music with warm flute sounds over cool urban beats. Don't miss it!

David Lanz - The Good Life (2004)
Picture perfect smooth jazz by former new-age piano player David Lanz boasting some of the genre's best players. Incredibly well done and going down like champagne!

Brian Bromberg - Jaco (2002)
Despite not being exactly smooth jazz this CD has been a favorite on my CD player. Brian Bromberg is one of the most versatile bass players around and his homage to the late Jaco Pastorius is nothing short of breathtaking still retaining some smooth jazz appeal.

Camiel - Sunset (2002)
This album by guitar player Camiel falls more into the lounge or chill out genre but still offers plenty of jazzy guitar playing to appeal to us smooth jazz lovers. Nice change of pace and worth our attention.

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

pjcover200.jpgWarren Hill, Pop Jazz: The veteran saxophonist’s latest is also the name of his new Internet-based record label and features covers of classics like “Low Rider,” “Come Together,” “Back at One” and “Play That Funky Music (White Boy).” There are some ballads, but the hard-edged funk grooves are what stand out, especially on “Bridgin’ The Gap,” where Hill plays like you’ve never heard him on CD.

Chieli Minucci, Got It Goin' On: The veteran guitarist provides plenty of meat on this CD, despite the generic smooth jazz title. “Love Is Always Young,” a song Chieli adapted from one of his musician father’s original songs, is as beautiful a ballad as you’re going to hear this year. And “Chic” is a hard-driving, hand-clapping gem with another smooth jazz star, Steve Oliver, providing wordless-vocal accompaniment to Chieli’s guitar.

Lin Roundtree, Groovetree: One song rocks and another has vocals, but the rest of the tracks by the trumpeter are nicely mellow. It’s romantic magic that should appeal to Chris Botti fans. And it’s exceptionally polished smooth jazz for an independent label.

Michael Brandenburg, Midnight: This is mellow music from a keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist who lives in northern California. Especially attractive are a cover of Burt Bacharach’s “The Look of Love” and Brandenburg’s own “Velvet Lady,” which is mellowness personified. Never rough, this CD puts the “smooth” in smooth jazz.

Brian Bromberg, It’s About Time: Originally released in 1991, the straight-ahead jazz album by bassist Bromberg swings with the sounds of acoustic jazz. Bromberg is one of the most talented musicians and composers going, and this CD reminds us of that. The CD, by the way, has been remixed, remastered and was just re-released by Bromberg’s own Artistry Music.

D E N I S * P O O L E

Acoustic Alchemy, ‘The Crossing,’ from their new CD release American English. Could turn out to be THE release of 2005.

Juliette Leon, ‘Unconditional,’ from the CD of the same name. Fresh new urban sounds from an artist based in the UK who is new on the scene.

Flautist and vocalist Theo Ross, an extended play collection titled Cut The Chord. Who said EP's were out of date?

Steve Cole, ‘Thursday,’ from his latest CD, Spin. WNUA are playing this all the time so it’s hard to avoid but, despite initial concerns, it kind of grows on you.

Hall and Oates, 'Shes Gone,' from their classic release Abandoned Luncheonette. H and O will be touring the UK this month as part of their renaissance. Renaissance? I don't think they ever quite went away. Great stuff!!

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

NicolasBeardeAllAboutLove.jpgNicolas Bearde, All About Love (Right Groove Records)
The cover of the soulful vocalist’s disc finds him offering a few dozen roses, and his easy way with a mix of covers and originals delivers big time on the promise of romance with a few touches of edgier blues for good measure.

Beyond the Sea, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Atco/Rhino)

Bobby Caldwell, Perfect Island Nights (Music Force Media Group)

The Chris Walden Big Band, Home of My Heart (Origin)

Tim Bowman, This Is What I hear (Liquid Records Entertainment)

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 4:06 AM

April 13, 2005

What We're Listening To

SteveCole_Spin.jpgJ O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

New and Noteworthy:

Steve Cole’s Spin

Jeff Golub’s Temptation

Keiko Matsui’s Walls of Akendora

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Hiroshima, Obon, 2005
Another masterpiece of creativity and spiritual emphasis, the concept and the music complement each other well. Fans of Hiroshima won't be disappointed. I recently interviewed founders Dan and June Kuramoto, and they shared their insights into the development of this project. Stay tuned…

Chieli Minucci, Got It Goin’ On, 2005
Plenty of variety on this fantastic CD. The title track showcases Chieli's typically awesome talent on the guitar; fully half the CD consists of individually unique, upbeat, dancing tunes, any one of which could be chosen to climb radio and record charts; 'Love Is Always Young' is a melodious remake of one of father Ulpio Minucci’s stirring compositions, featuring Bob Bowen on bass; 'Still Waiting' is a great update of a favorite Philip Hamilton vocal, and 'Destiny' is an elusive track which will draw you in when you least expect it. Watch for a few gems in the form of hidden tracks, dueling on bass guitars with Jerry Brooks and Gerald Veasley, golden vocals by Steve Oliver, great saxophone input by Jeff Kashiwa, David Mann, and Kim Waters, and a fun collaboration between Chieli and Marion Meadows. Also features Jay Rowe on keyboards, Lionel Cordew on drums, Philip Hamilton on percussion. This one is hard to take out of your CD player!

Tom Grant, Reprise, 2001
Continuing my journey to discover more of Tom Grant’s music, this one has a lot of favorites from the 80s and 90s, which are now becoming favorites of mine, too! New ones I’m captivated by are 'Alpha Centauri' and 'Witchi Tai-to' with its lead-in of 'Lakota Ghost.' ‘Change’ and ‘Restless’ are two more that showcase Tom’s talent for composition and playing. Includes familiar favorites 'Angel’s Crossing,' 'Bernie’s Groove', and 'Heidi’s Song.' Timeless in its appeal, Tom Grant's music is always captivating.

Acoustic Alchemy, American English 2005
Another in a long line of successive, successful CDs, this one easily connects with their fan base and will likely draw in new fans. If you haven’t yet begun your collection of the music of ‘the Lads,’ don’t wait any longer! This is a group you will not tire of – I predict many of their CDs will become your favorites.

Matt Bianco, Matt’s Mood, 2005
After ten years, it’s quite a satisfying experience to hear new music featuring Basia’s beautiful voice, with her wonderful pitch and extensive range and also to get to know her as part of the trio that is Matt Bianco. Watch for an article – and interview – after I see her in concert April 16th in Philadelphia.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Jeff Lorber - Flipside, 2005
Boasting an all-star lineup Jeff Lorber delivers a first-rate smooth jazz album with lots of groovy tracks and great keyboard playing.

3rd Force - Driving Force, 2005
This album smokes! A great CD brimming with catchy compositions and soulful playing. Outstanding!

James Gabriano - Riviera Sunrise, 2004
Independent release available at by acoustic guitar player James Gabriano with an all-star cast and some bright and easy on the ear playing with the right groove.

Amedeo Bianchi - Coming Home, 2003
Superlative smooth jazz album by this Italian sax player who I learned about only recently. Well produced, well played, great compositions, heartfelt playing, groovy songs which put a smile on your face. Don't miss out on this one!

Hiroshima - Obon, 2005
Latest release by this classic outfit which is definitely a winner. Memorable compositions and their unique eastern flair make this another unmissable CD for any smooth jazz lover.

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Alex Cortiz, Mesmerizing: Amazing chill music from the Netherlands producer that forgoes vocals and instead pumps up the downtempo jam, if that makes sense.

Acoustic Alchemy, American/English: The veteran band simply is at the top of its game once again. Early fans of the group will appreciate the many pretty guitar melodies.

Steve Cole, Spin: A great new album from the Chicago-based saxophonist. The “spin” in this case refers to the CD’s acoustical nature. Stick around for the hidden track.

Matt Bianco Featuring Basia, Matt’s Mood: This is one that refuses to leave my CD player. In addition to the single “Ordinary Day,” the cocktail sensibilities and Brazilian rhythms make this a cool trip, baby.

Eastern Sun, In Emptiness: Brian Saitzyk and John Kelley give downtempo beats a new age sensibility in this masterpiece. “Rapture At Sea” is possibly the song of the year.

D E N I S * P O O L E

quintingerardw.jpg‘Smooth Jazz Flavor’ by Quentin Gerard W from his debut CD Fnkysax

‘My Time’ by Mike DiLorenzo from his CD Urbanized.

‘You Don't Know My Name’ by Pamela Williams from her CD Sweet Saxations.

‘Rainforest’ by Paul Hardcastle, one of his earliest and greatest tracks from the CD Paul Hardcastle 1983-2003

‘Across 110th Street’ by Bobby Womack from (as well as as other places) the soundtrack from that incredible movie Jackie Brown

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 4:32 AM

March 8, 2005

In Our CD Players This Month: March

D E N I S * P O O L E

The Poole family household sound system is running hot with the following sounds this month:

‘Gilding The Lilly’ by The Kevin Chandler Band from the CD Chicago Soul Sessions Volume 1. This is one of the stand-out tracks from a new collection on the Listen Up label from a stellar line up of Chicago's underground artists.

‘I'll Try Something New’ by Demo Cates from his CD Smooth - Try Something New. A great cover of a classic tune that until now has slipped through the net.

‘Athens Park’ by Paul Jackson, Jr., from the CD Still Small Voice. Quite simply a piece of quintessential smooth jazz

‘19 (Slow Version’) by Paul Hardcastle from the CD Paul Hardcastle 1983-2003. Classy smooth jazz with an edge.

‘Slam Dunk’ by Euge Groove from the CD Play Date. Euge Groove can do no wrong with the Poole's.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Jonathan Widran gives the nod to these recently released CDs:

Chieli Minucci, Got It Goin’ On

Pamela Williams, Sweet Saxations

Chuck Loeb, When I’m With You

Nelson Rangell, My American Songbook, Volume I

Acoustic Alchemy, American English

Bobby Caldwell, Perfect Island Nights

Paul Taylor, Nightlife

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

Tom Grant, Hands: The Tom Grant Collection
There’s an element to enjoy in each song: the movement of 'Angel’s Crossing,' the compelling 'Mamba to the Moon,' the stirring 'Private Beach' with its interesting chord progressions, the driving beat of 'Change,' the expert vocal harmony on ‘Every Day Is Up,’ funky ‘Bernie’s Groove’ (featuring Najee), upbeat ‘Hang Time’ (featuring Paul Jackson, Jr.), the superb lead in to ‘Happy Feet,’ and the final, touching selection of ‘Heidi’s Song.’ It’s been a great way for me to begin my discovery of Tom Grant’s music. My favorite song, ‘Morning Show,’ has a melody and beat that go together perfectly; and when the song seems to be ending, it’s only a transition to an enthusiastic buildup that ultimately returns to the beginning of the song. It’s a song of celebration with a fun, surprising ending. In fact, this CD has a recurring theme of the delightfully unexpected. I can’t wait to continue my journey of discovering more of Tom Grant's music.

Eumir Deodato, Deodato 2
The album that followed Prelude, which contained ‘Also Sprach Zarahustra’ (better known as the theme from 2001 Space Odyssey). The unwritten rule of having to match or improve on a subsequent CD needn’t have been applied after the blockbuster Prelude catapulted Deodato to #1 instrumentalist and #2 Jazz Artist of the Year. Deodato 2 has great compositions and arrangements of its own. Invigorating ‘Super Strut’ and ‘Skyscrapers’ are great listening and dancing tunes, and renditions of Moody Blues’ ‘Night in White Satin’ and Steely Dan’s ‘Do It Again,’ are both impressive, especially the flute on the latter. Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ and Ravel’s “Pavane for a Dead Princess’ measure up, as well. ‘Latin Flute’ is another energizing tune and ‘Venus’ has a classical feel to it with a very steady and engaging blend of piano and guitar. This artist will be part of the Berks Jazz Fest's 15th Anniversary Concert to be held March 19th.

Vital Information, Come On In
Having recently heard this band at Gerald Veasley’s Jazz Base in Reading, Pennsylvania, I knew before the show the caliber of each of the players. They played a number of songs from this, their 11th album, and listening to it only reminds me of the privilege of being there to see a band who will surely go down as one of the most talented and strong combinations of players in history.

P E T E R * B O E H I

Bernard Alcorn, Late Arrival (2000)
This guitarist hails from Chicago and delivers some warm Wes Montgomery style guitar playing over contemporary beats.

Joe Kurasz, Soul Searching (2003)
Groovy organ jazz with a very contemporary feel boasting catchy tunes which set you in a good mood. Very recommended.

Morris Pleasure, Elements of Pleasure (2004)
Funky instrumental music from Earth, Wind & Fire's music director and keyboard player Morris Pleasure with enough jazz elements to attract us smooth jazz fans.

Black & Brown, File Under Funk (1995)
Released on Italy's Irma label this group delivers a funky brand of instrumental music which fits well into the acid jazz and lounge mould. Currently my favorite type of music, really worth to hunt it down.

Andre Delano, Full Circle (2004)
This is truly a quality release by sax player Andre Delano with the right mix of funk and jazz. You find it at like the albums from Bernard Alcorn and Joe Kurasz.

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Chuck Loeb, When I’m With You: Chuck Loeb’s latest is a more of a true reading of the guitarist than his last, electronic-influenced project. Here Loeb plays jazzier and more acoustic, shining on the smooth jazz single “Tropical.” Loeb also writes three songs dedicated to idols: “The Girl From Ipanema” for Stan Getz, with whom he played with for a couple of years; “Double Life” for legendary guitarist Jim Hall, who taught Loeb a thing or two in private lessons; and “Brother Ray” for the late, great Ray Charles. The latter is the one song on the CD that will no doubt shine a smile on your face.

Soul Ballet, All the Pretty Lights, Vol. 1: Soul Ballet, the project by Rick Kelly, has had the nation’s No. 1 smooth jazz single with “Cream” for more than a month. If that song from his DreamBeatDream CD intrigues you, you might want to check out this CD of remixes of some of Soul Ballet’s most requested romantic songs, mostly from the first two projects. But there are also two new songs. Perfect music to get romantic to.

Michael Buble, It’s Time: Michael Buble, a young Frank Sinatra and just as popular with the masses, swings on new and old classics such as “How Sweet It Is” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” But the two tracks I keep returning to are just sublime. “Home” is an original track he wrote that speaks to universal longings and is stunningly beautiful: and “Quando, Quando, Quando,” a classic by Englebert Humperdinck, is given a fresh spin by Buble and pop singer Nelly Furtado. It’s sublime.

Various Artists, Café Del Mar, Vol. 8: The latest in an excellent series of chill/downtempo music features the hard-to-get “Pina Colada” (Jazz Mix) by Digby Jones and has an excellent remix of vocalist Dido’s “Worthless.” Classy vocals and cool beats make this another winner.

Bryan Lubeck, Acoustic Vineyard: Mellow smooth jazz promoted on the CD cover as “smooth jazz and Latin styles.” Lubeck is an acoustic guitarist who mixes mild touches of flamenco with romantic melodies to provide a gorgeous and relaxing music experience. Available at or here.

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 5:49 AM

February 16, 2005

In Our CD Players This Month: February

Beverly J. Packard

Beginning this month, SJV writers will give you an inside look at what we’re listening to behind the scenes.

B R I A N * S O E R G E L

Jeff Lorber, Flipside: Lorber’s triumphant new album may just the best he’s ever done. Organic and jazzy, it showcase Lorber’s improvisational side while remaining as smooth as ever.

Bossacucanova, Uma Batida Differente: The Brazilian trio updates the bossa nova sound with a groovy, electronica vibe, taking advantage of all the great singers in Brazil. Especially joyous is a remake of the Caetano Veloso/Chico Buarque protest song “Vai Levando.”

Jason Miles, Miles to Miles: Producer and keyboardist Jason Miles, a protégé of Miles Davis, pays homage to the late trumpeter with a mostly original recording capturing the energy and spirit of his namesake. Marc Antoine and Keiko Matsui stop by for a reading of the classic “Flamenco Sketches.”

Various Artists, What Is Hip? Remix Project, Volume One: The Doobie Brothers’ “Listen to the Music” and Seals and Crofts’ “Summer Breeze” never sounded so cool. A big highlight is Nightmare on Wax’s beefed-up face lift of George Benson’s “This Masquerade.”

Allen Hinds, Fact of the Matter: Guitarist Allen Hinds, a session player extraordinaire, proves he’s got the lead-man chops on a rocking, funky, bluesy, jazzy and thoroughly engaging instrumental project. The title track is majestic and Metheny-esque, with soaring vocalese by Rogerio Jardim.

Read on for more....

D E N I S * P O O L E

EWF_LoveSongs.jpg‘Reasons’ by Earth Wind and Fire from the CD Earth Wind and Fire - The Love Songs because nobody performs a catchy soul tune that you cant get out of your head like EW & F.

‘Talk To Me’ by Euge Groove from his CD Livin Large as this track got under my skin awhile ago and it wont go away.

‘Operator’ by Jim Croce from the CD Photographs and Memories as when I'm not listening to soul or smooth jazz I love a track that tells a story.

‘Friday’ by Roger Smith from the CD Just Enough as it has the best horn riff of 2004 on it.

‘Are You Mine’ by Peter White from the CD Confidential because I have been playing it none stop since it first came out.

J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N

Pamela Williams, Sweet Saxations, 2005.

Chieli Minucci, Got It Goin' On, 2005.

Chuck Loeb, When I'm With You, 2005.

Acoustic Alchemy, American English, 2005.

Paul Taylor, Nightlife, 2005.

Jonathan’s list, I might add, is comprised of all new CDs that have not yet been officially released! We await your comments, Jonathan!

B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D

BillyEricYesIndeed.jpgBilly Eric, Yes, Indeed, 2003: Possibly the only CD where the songs themselves threatened to ‘beat up’ the artist if they were eliminated from the recording! (Now you have no choice but to read the liner notes.) What a compilation of 33 songs on a double CD! Features favorite saxophone player David Mann on over half the songs and he’s mesmerizing. Eric shows great talent on guitar and in composing; his playing is nicely intertwined with other instruments, including some excellent piano, clarinet, trumpet work. My favorites are sprinkled throughout both CDs – ‘Pied Piper’ and ‘Turquoise’ reminiscent of other favorites of mine, Steely Dan and Spyro Gyra, respectively. Unique in its harmony and key changes, 'Such Is Life' is hauntingly beautiful in its vocals – this song alone is worth taking this CD set to the check out counter.

Brian Tarquin, High Life, 2001: Typical of Brian’s clean, crisp sound, with melodies I love; he’s a favorite guitarist I could listen to endlessly. Follows Ghost Dance, and Last Kiss Goodbye, and does not disappoint the listening fan.

George Jinda, Reliable Sources, 1992: Sometimes I just have to stop to listen and appreciate the work of George Jinda. Percussionist extraordinaire, best known for his association with Chieli Minucci in the group Special EFX, how I would have loved to see George in concert. I’m quite certain his death in 2002 cheated us of the creation of many, many songs. Produced during a time when he and Chieli each decided to pursue some solo projects, this CD is full of wonderfully recurring melodies, memorable key changes, funky Latin beat, flamenco guitar, and great dynamics. Features Gerald Veasley on bass, Randy Roos on guitar and synthesizer, and Scalzci on acoustic guitar and grand piano. Who else but George could come up with a track entitled, ‘Overleafing a New Turn?”

P E T E R * B O E H I

Brian Bromberg, Choices (2004): A smashing, groovy and soulful album with Brian firing on all cylinders (i.e. basses) and lots of great guest artists. Smooth jazz at its

Merlon Devine, Breathe (2004): Sax player Merlon Devine delivers a worthwhile smooth jazz album. It is available at and deserves your attention.

Bobby Wells, Bayside (2004): I have been raving about this picture perfect smooth jazz album previously and would like to list it here again - essential stuff featuring Michael O'Neill, Eric Marienthal and others.

Alexander Zonjic, Seldom Blues (2004): This CDs brims with groovy tracks, jazzy flute playing and memorable tracks making this one a highlight of Alexander Zonjic' illustrious career. Check out the great cover of War's "Spill the Wine"!

In Due Season, In Due Season (2004): This EP containing 6 tracks might get overlooked so I list it here once more. This band delivers some absolutely essential stuff. Great band feel, sparkling piano and synths, good songs making you feel good.

Hope you enjoyed our musical journey. We’ll be back next month with more inspiration for you, our readers. In the meantime, keep on listening!

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 3:33 AM