March 1, 2013

35th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival Line-Up Announced

By Ricky Richardson

The spotlight continues to shine brightly over Hollywood. This is due to the contigent of international media corp who gathered at the Playboy Mansion, Thursday, February 28, 2013 for the Playboy Jazz Festival Press Conference.

The Press Conference was held on a beautiful, picture perfect, sunny Southern California day. The talented Los Angeles High School for the Arts Jazz Combo under the direction of Dan Castro entertained the crowd arriving to mingle on the serene, well kept lawn of the Playboy Mansion. The Jazz Combo featured Heather Rivas - piano, Sarah Kuo - bass, Adrian Cota - drums, Aaron Shaw - saxophones, Kalia Vandever - trombone, and Luca Ferrera on guitar. They provided the perfect soundtrack for the Press Conference on the tunes "Yardbird," "Birdlike," "Confirmation," "Like Someone in Love," and "I Hear a Rhapsody" to the delight of the attentive crowd.

Commemorating 35 years of extraordinary performances, captivating music and magical moments, Playboy will again present a stellar line-up of talent for the 35th Anniversary Jazz Festival, Saturday, June 15th and Sunday, June 16th, at the renowned Hollywood Bowl.

The line-up features a diverse mix of illustrious jazz greats, next generation leaders and festival favorites, the two-day concert will spotlight the entire genre of jazz with an assortment of world premieres, rare collaborations and highly anticipated artist debuts.

New to this year's festival is the multi-talented entertainer George Lopez, who will make his own debut as the new master of ceremonies, taking over this year from the legendary Bill Cosby, who relinquished the role last summer after more than 30 years.

35th Anniversrary Playboy Jazz Festival Artist Line-Up
Presented in cooperation with the L.A. Philharmonic Association

Saturday,June 15,2013,-3:00P.M.-11:00P.M
(Artist line-up subject to change)

George Duke with special guest Jeffrey Osborne
Naturally 7 with special guest Herbie Hancock
Angelique Kidjo with special guest Hugh Masekela
Ole Coltrane featuring Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Band with special guest James Carter
Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band with special guest Lee Ritenour
Gregory Porter
Robert Glasper Experiment
Grace Kelly Quintet with special guest Phil Woods
Pedrito Martinez Group featuring Ariacne Trujillo
Los Angeles County High School for the Arts Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Jason Goldman

Sunday,June 16,2013-3:00P.M.-10:30P.M
(Artist line-up subject to change)

Sheila E
Bob James/David Sanborn featuring Steve Gadd and James Genus
India-Arie
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra celebrating Quincy Jones' 80th Birthday with special guest Patti Austin and Hubert Laws
Taj Mahal and the Real Thing Tuba Band
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Brubeck Brothers Quartet - A Dave Brubeck Tribute
Elew and JazzAntiqua Dance Ensemble, Pat Taylor, Artistic Director - A World Premiere Collaboration
The LAUSD Beyond the Bell Jazz Band, under the direction of Tony White and J.B.Dyas

George Lopez will serve as Master of Ceremonies. Darlene Chan, President of Festival West Inc., is the Producer of the Playboy Jazz Festival for the 35th consecutive year. Hugh Hefner is Executive Producer and Richard Rosenzweig is President Emeritus of the Playboy Jazz Festivals.

Single day tickets will be available through Ticketmaster starting Thursday, February 28th at 6:00PM. Patrons can purchase tickets online at www.ticketmaster.com, over the phone by calling (213)365-3500 or (714)740-7878, at any Ticketmaster outlet or by downloading a ticket order form available at www.playboyjazzfestival.com. There is also a link to the Ticketmaster website on the Playboy Jazz Festival website. Tickets may also be purchased at the Hollywood Bowl Box Office beginning in early May, exact date to be announced.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:43 AM

January 4, 2013

It's official...“Miller Time” premieres this Sunday, January 6, on SiriusXM Satellite Radio!

Legendary bassist, composer, producer and two-time Grammy winner Marcus Miller pursues yet another creative avenue with “Miller Time,” his new show on SiriusXM's Real Jazz featuring acoustic and electric jazz and anecdotes about the many stars with whom he's worked intimately including Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, David Sanborn and his long time writing partner, the late Luther Vandross. The two hour show airs every Sunday at 6 pm and Tuesdays at midnight.

In 2012, Miller returned to composing and exploring new music of his own on his latest release Renaissance with a sharper focus than ever before, a new band of curious and like-minded young musicians, and a mission to travel the world – country by country, city by city, venue by venue – to take the message of this musical movement straight to the hearts, souls and minds of the people. Renaissance has been nominated for a 2013 NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Jazz Album.

Miller will also be co-hosting the Smooth Jazz Cruise 2013 later this month.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 3:46 PM

December 28, 2012

23rd annual Boscov's Berks Jazz Fest

The 23rd annual Boscov's Berks Jazz Fest will be held April 5-14, 2013 in Reading, PA. Like every year, the best smooth jazz and related genres have to offer will be featured at this event. Festival general manager John Ernesto put together another stellar lineup that will entertain crowds in various venues accross town, supported by a large number of volunteers helping to make this event run as smoothly as possible. For me, the Berks Jazz Fest has become an event that gets fixed in my calender each year, knowing that I will not only be musically delighted, but also meet friends and artists - many of whom I know for many years - making this look like a family reunion.

For this year's lineup, please check the Major Concert Schedule, highlights I would like to single out are Brian Hughes, Keiko Matsui, Najee with Alex Bugnon, Gerald Veasley's Sounds Of Philly project, Brian Bromberg, Incognito with Maysa, Kim Waters with Chante Moore, Lee Ritenour, Fourplay, Esperanza Spalding, Chuck Loeb (with an incredible all-star band), the awesome and unique Berks All-Star Jazz Jam, Peter White, Gerald Albright & Norman Brown, Kirk Whalum and Marcus Johnson, Brian Culbertson (offering a dynamic new show), Jonathan Butler, Marc Antoine - the list goes on and on!

More information can be found at http://www.berksjazzfest.com. See you there!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:25 PM

September 15, 2012

Smooth Jazz Festival Augsburg 2012

The annual "Smooth Jazz Festival Augsburg" 2012 was held for the 5th time, which is an important milestone for the festival. After some less successful editions in Bregenz and Munich, the festival now found its permanent home in Augsburg, Germany which is a nice town in Bavaria with 265'000 inhabitants and a historic center of town. Thankfully, festival organizer Christian Bössner never gave up and relentlessly kept up his work to promote and establish this festival, providing smooth jazz artists an opportunity to perform and bring this great art form to European audiences.

This year, smooth jazz fans from all over Europe came to Augsburg in droves to see a great lineup of players, who were backed up by a top-notch band of German session players (Lutz Deterra - keyboards, Günter Asbeck - bass, Martin Feske - guitar and Andy Pilger - drums). The festival was held at the historic Parktheater im Kurhaus Göggingen, which has proven to be the perfect venue for this event with its nice park, extensive catering area and garden to hang out between concerts. In addition, the partnering hotel this year was the Hotel Steigenberger Drei Mohren in the heart of town, a freshly renovated historic building providing superior accommodation and easy access to the shopping areas, as well being the perfect starting point for sightseeing tours.

Friday night was opened by John Stoddart, longtime member of Kirk Whalum's band who also has a string of solo albums under his belt and is increasingly recognized as a soulful singer and pianist. He did several of his own songs, depicting the ups and downs of relationships, most notably "Angel" dedicated to his wife, providing lots of soulful singing and occasionally some great piano playing. During his cover of Bill Withers' "Lovely Day", the audience was invited to sing along, while Kirk Whalum guested on sax during one song. His set was well received and provided just the right warming up for the things to come.

Next was saxophonist Kirk Whalum, who proved to be in a league of his own. His trademark playing is soulful and always from the bottom of his heart, he opened the show with "Big Ol' Shoes" dedicated to his hero, Grover Washington, Jr., later doing an instrumental version of "Autumn Serenade" from his current CD Romance Language, during this song he was strolling in the audience doing some great improvisations. Having been touring with the late Whitney Houston for 7 years, he did his tribute to the lady with a heartfelt version of "I Will Always Love You", which was a highlight of the show. His set was a great mixture of originals and covers, running the gamut from slow to jazzy to funky, providing a truly entertaining set.

The evening was closed by saxophonist Eric Darius, who kicked up things a notch with his energetic and enthusiastic playing on the alto sax. He was jumping around on the stage with endless energy, playing "In the Moment", "Going All Out" and "Slick" from his growing catalog (being on the scene for around 10 years by now). He did a welcome tribute to Herbie Hancock with the classic "Butterfly", Joey Sommerville joined the band for this one, doing some great solos on the trumpet. Eric did go out into the audience as well, serenading the ladies with his horn playing, spreading joy and fun. His set was the highlight of Friday evening, and the audience was screaming for an encore well past midnight, so everybody on the evening's bill joined for the final track, bringing a great evening to a close.

Saturday night was bringing more great music to us. The first set featured trumpet player Joey Sommerville who just found the right groove and mood to kick off the evening in style, having the audience in the palm of his hand, he delivered a great show that - as he made clear at the beginning of the concert - had something new, old, borrowed and blue, which was the right setting for an entertaining show. Joey alternated between trumpet and flugelhorn and also sat behind the keyboards once in a while. Among the tracks played was a great cover of Duke Ellington's "Caravan", "Swag" (from his current The Get Down Club CD), a nice Doobie Brothers cover of "You Belong To Me" and, my personal highlight, his own composition "Moonshadows", which was a slow burning and heartfelt song. He finished his show with an uptempo blues track.

Next was guitar player Nils, who originally hails from Munich, Germany, but now lives in Los Angeles for many years. He performed already at "Smooth Jazz In The Cube" last year where he was such a crowd pleaser that he was invited again. Nils has a total knack for this cool, laid-back southern California L.A. groove, which explains why he had three number 1 hits in the past. He kicked off his show with "Georgy Porgy", later he did his hit "Summer Nights", his playing on the guitar was pure bliss. To increase the heat, he did "Get On The Dance Floor" from his brand new release City Groove. As en encore he played Carlos Santana's "Europa", which provided more excellent fret work, bringing a great show to an end.

Japanese keyboard player Keiko Matsui, just having flown in from Tokyo for this event, provided my personal highlight of the whole festival with her outstanding set. She was supported by a local saxophone player (next to the house band) who did a good job, it was a joy to watch this petite lady play the keyboards or - most of the time - the grand piano with her expressive style, she played a selection of songs from her vast catalog, among them "Forever, Forever" and "The Road…". She even went into the audience with her keytar, and played a little percussion as a surprise. She did a beautiful solo piano version of "Deep Blue", before all the players of the evening were re-united for a rousing finale.

This was another great smooth jazz festival, and I applaud Christian Bössner for pulling it all off. Next will be the Mallorca Smooth Jazz Festival which will take place May 3-5, 2013, before the next Smooth Jazz Festival Augsburg will be held September 13-14, 2013.

[Images @ Flickr]

Posted by Peter Böhi at 2:44 PM

September 12, 2012

ITI Records Resurfaces After Many Years Dormant

After Thirty Years since its inception, ITI Records is returning to re-release its catalog as well as new titles in the future. Original owner, Mike Dion, who had been recalled to Active Duty in 1998 by the Navy, due to the wars in Bosnia and the Middle East has retired and has since returned to the Music Industry.

Dion, in the past had stated that “ITI was one of the avenues for known and unknown jazz artists to get their music to the public”, is now committed to strive for that again. Some of today’s well known Smooth Jazz artists initially had their start-ups with ITI included Richard Elliot, Windows, Wayne Johnson, Kenny Pore, and Daryle Chinn. Dion states that he will continue to look for the young and experienced talent that exist in the market and that ITI will expand itself to include most formats.

With the new digital age all titles will be available via the e-commerce outlets. ITI titles initially to include the back catalog of Heard Ranier Ferguson, Ruth Price, Tom Garvin and Bill Mays, Red Mitchell.

ITI Records will be re-released through Warrant Music. Expect two titles monthly through the remainder of 2012.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:42 AM

August 19, 2012

25th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival

By Ricky Richardson

Long Beach - The late great blues singer, Muddy Waters said it best "Young and old; get yourself together and let the good times roll." Hundreds of thousands of jazz fans have attended the Long Beach Jazz Festival over the the past 24 years. These fans travel from all across California, throughout the United States and some international music lovers as well," stated Al Williams, Festival Founder and Producer.

The 2012 installment of the festival is a major milestone event, presented by US Bank, celebrating the theme "Jazz and Beyond."

Friday - Pastor Wayne Chaney got the festival underway with an Opening Prayer. The festival producer honored the men and women serving in the military. The volunteers and security were also acknowledged for their hard work.

The music portion of the show featured saxophonist Eric Darius to start the show in grand style. I'm wondering if Eric is willing to take the blame for bringing along some humidity from Florida. Eric heated up the setting even more so with material from his latest CD On a Mission. Additional tunes performed throughout his set consisted of "Let's Stay Together," "Love TKO," "If I Ain't Got You" and a new twist on "The Wobble" song and dance to engage the crowd.

Actors Robert Townsend and Michael Jai White were spotted in the crowd during the set by the Isley Brothers. They dug deep into their classic, timeless catalog of hits including "Fight The Power," "Who's That Lady," and "Living for The Love of You."

The Blackbyrds closed out the opening night of the festival with some hip swaying jazz, funk and soul that was so popular back in the day, and the music is still relevant today.

Saturday - Dat Ezy Band is a tight band that excelled during their set of cover tunes with "Come On and Groove" this could also serve as a theme for the festival. They continued to groove on "You Bring Me Joy," "I'm Every Women" and continued with a medley of tunes by the late great Teena Marie.

Shilts showcased both his contemporary smooth jazz and straight-ahead chops during his dynamic set.

Leela James set was action packed. She worked the stage and roamed into the crowd to energized the audience during her powerful set on "Soul Music," "We Came To Party," and "Change is Gonna Come."

Dianne Reeves is a magnificent vocalist who gave a memorable performance during the 25th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival. The festival ground felt like an intimate jazz club, as we enjoyed Ms. Reeves trademark vocal stylings that was demonstrated on Bahail," "12th of Never," "Afro Blue," "Tango de Jour" with some incrredible scat singing, "32 Flavors," and the crowd favorite "Better Days."

Saxophonist Kirk Whalum set featured several tunes from his latest CD Romance Language. He performed "Grover Worked and Under Paid," "Valdez in the Country," "Do You Feel Me" with his brother Kevin on vocals, and continued with "I Will Always Love You" - a quiet hush fell over the crowd because of how much people could relate to this tune. The brothers closed their set with "You Are Too Beautiful," and "Love TKO."

Poncho Sanchez and Soul of Summer featuring Jonathan Butler, Warren Hill and Maysa closed out the show on Saturday evening.

Sunday - The Jazz Search Winners kicked off the final day of the festival. Al Williams and Friends treated jazz purist to an afternoon delight of straight-ahead jazz. People were swaying and bopping to a different groove on "Cantaloupe Island," and "Dis Here." Les McCann and Henry "The Skipper" Franklin joined the band onstage for the always popular and relevant tune "Compared to What." Vocalist Barbara Morrison liven up the festival as only Barbara can on the tunes "Sundown" and "Down Home Blues."

The festival continued with neo-soul vocalist Chrisette Michele, we got "Down and Dirty" during the set by Rick Braun and Richard Elliott of happy, contagious smooth jazz from their individual catalogs as well as their duel collaborative efforts Metro Blue and RNR. The crowd and I got on board the train with Larry Graham and Grand Central Station for a set of high-energy soulful funk. The festival concluded with Keith Sweat and The Dream Tour featuring David Sanborn and Brian Culbertson.

US Bank presented the 25th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival and sponsors include: Budweiser, Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable, Long Beach Press Telegram, Long Beach Hilton, 94.7 The Wave, KJAZZ 88.1, KJLH 102.3. The Long Beach Jazz Festival is produced by Rainbow Promotions, LLC. Visit www.rainbowpromotions.com for information about upcoming events and concerts.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:43 AM

August 6, 2012

4th Annual Ultimate Jazz Festival

By Ricky Richardson

Ontario - An enthusiastic crowd was in attendance for the 4th Annual Ultimate Jazz Festival, presented by Jazz to be Green. The festival took place at Guastic Regional Park, Saturday, August 4th and Sunday, August 5th, 2012. An unusually nice, cool summer breeze made the outing all the more enjoyable.

Residents of the Inland Empire don't have to travel all the way to Los Angeles to enjoy quality entertainment. Thanks to Jazz to be Green, the community were able to sit back, relax in their own backyard to listen to smooth sounds of jazz, funk and R&B.

The festival got under way with saxophonist Rodney Taylor. Mr. Taylor arrives on the scene with an impressive resume, having played with or tour with Anita Baker, The Emotions, Doc Powell and Deniece Williams just to name a few. He made a lasting impression on the crowd during his opening set on the following tunes from his current CD Can I Blow For You. HIs set list featured the tunes "Passion," "Midnite Wind," "Can I Blow for You" written for his wife, "My Prerogative," and "Wine Light" by the late great Grover Washington Jr. The band consisted of Rodney Taylor-sax, Keith Rouster-bass, Eddie Miller-keyboards, Andre Frappier-guitar, Noriko Ulling-keyboards and Demetric Collins on drums.

Trumpeter Joey Somerville kicked the festivities into high gear with an engaging set of smooth jazz, funk and R&B on the following tunes "Ride With This," "School Boy Crush," "You Belong to Me," "Caravan," "Swag," and roamed the festival grounds to serenade women on "Like You Mean It."

Keyboardist Nick Smith is another dynamic performer who comes to the festival with extraordinary credentials. He has toured with some heavy hitters in the contemporary smooth jazz genre as well as soul and R&B artists. He stepped out front and center to lead a stellar group of musicians during his crowd pleasing set on "Tender Thoughts," "Monkish," "Mack's Blues," a Latin tinge "Caribbean" and concluded his set with the title track from his latest CD "It's Like That." His bandmate consisted of Nick Smith-keyboards, Kamasi Washington-sax, Vashon Johnson-bass, and Marvin "Smitty"Smith on drums.

Guitarist Nils showcased some smooth jazz grooves with an entertaining set on "Let's Groove," "Sara Smile," "Jump To It," "Europa," and "Get Down & Party" which could have served as the theme song for the 4th Annual Ultimate Jazz Festival.

The crowd and I willingly went back to school to be re-indoctrinated with some Old School Funk, R&B,and soul courtesy of Slave. Throughout their set the crowd were up and dancing on the tunes "We Like to Party With You," "Sizzlin' Hot," "Party Lites," "Baby,Wait For Me," "Watching You," and concluded with an oldie but a goodie "Slide."

The Rick James Stone City Band lead by trumpeter/vocalist La Morris Payne aka (LA SKY) and The Mary Jane Girls performed a special tribue to Rick James to close out day one of the festival.

The festival continued on Sunday with Cal Bennet, Tim Bowman, Paul Taylor, Kevin Toney and Sugarfoot's Ohio Players.

Celebrity Chef Mouton catered the meal for the VIP section and media. On Saturday,he served a mouthwatering array of dishes consisting of Blackened Chicken Breast topped with Sweet Chili Sauce, Grill Tilipia with Lemon Buttersauce, Veg Rice, Vegetarian Pasta, Red Pepper Cabbage and the proverbial icing on the cake featured an assorted Cup Cake display. Celebrity Chef Mouton also worked with E&B Lousiana Connection who served up some delicious catfish.

DJ and Event MC RJ-Ray James provided wonderful tunes in between acts. Leonard Robinson aka Enviro Bro engaged the audience with some Old School humor and enlightened the crowd with information about conserving energy and saving the environment in keeping with the mission and philosophy of the festival organizers. Gene Harris served as Master of Ceremonies. The 4th Annual Jazz to be Green was sponsored by Ontario Volkswagen.

Jazz to be Green is a non-profit public benefit corporation that promotes awareness of Energy Efficiency, Green Environment, and Green Jobs all through the Art of Jazz. Our goal is to develop partnerships with local utility companies to create the forum for shaing information on how our community can save money by using less energy during their daily activities and in their homes.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:46 AM

March 28, 2012

Bass master Brian Bromberg swings live on the energetic “Compared To That”

Virtuoso ensemble, ten-piece horn section and a full orchestra string section help propel the eclectic mix of jazz due June 5th

Grammy nominated bass maestro Brian Bromberg continues to blaze his own audacious path through the jazz kingdom on Compared To That, which will be released June 5th by Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Records. For his 20th solo collection of kinetic and combustible jazz of various forms, Bromberg produced, composed eight new songs, and herded a ten-piece horn section, a full orchestra string section and a prodigious collective of prominent musicians. The first track to go to radio is his swinging take on the snappy Chicago hit, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”

It’s been a while since Bromberg recorded an album that swings, so he primarily maintains a fast cadence on Compared To That. Although the record leans towards straight ahead acoustic jazz, Bromberg refuses to color between the lines. His visionary, multihued jazz palette swirls hard-charging swing, contemporary sheen, deep-fried funk, and touchingly beautiful balladry. Throughout the album, Bromberg’s basswork is like a master’s class with the astute musician playing acoustic, electric and piccolo (both acoustic and steel string) basses. With his piccolo basses tuned to sound like guitar, all of the lead melodies and solos throughout the collection that sound like guitar are actually piccolo bass. An accomplished cadre lent their talents to the two days of live tracking including Alex Acuna, Gannin Arnold, Charlie Bisharat, Randy Brecker, Vinnie Colaiuta, George Duke, Bela Fleck, Mitch Forman, Larry Goldings, Jeff Lorber, Gary Meek and Tom Zink. Bromberg’s tongue-in-cheek humor was deftly deployed when it came to titling his original compositions - “Rory Lowery, Private Eye,” “If Ray Brown Was A Cowboy?,” “A Little New Old School” and “I’m Just Sayin’” are a few examples – and his flair for choosing unexpected songs to cover shines brightly on an imaginative, toe-tapping rendition of the Rick James signature hit “Give It To Me Baby.”

“One thing I feel that makes Compared To That a unique project is that it is a live jazz recording that also has a ten-piece horn section on many tracks, a full orchestra string section on two cuts, and the production of a much bigger project. Essentially, it really was a two-day live jazz recording session along with 3-1/2 months of the kind of production used on big pop records. I truly blended the best of both worlds: live acoustic jazz with the audiophile of a major production,” explained Bromberg, who previewed the album at a Sunday brunch performance at the Berks Jazz Fest in Reading, Pennsylvania this past weekend (March 25). “I went more to my jazz roots on this CD with a lot of swing and walking bass. All in all, I think it is a fun listen for a true jazz CD and I am very proud of it.”

On July 3rd, Bromberg will release a couple more inspired recording projects: Bromberg Plays Hendrix, a tribute to iconic guitarist Jimi Hendrix previously released in Japan that was made without any guitars, again playing the piccolo bass to the tune of a guitar, and In The Spirit of Jobim, which pays homage to Antonio Carlos Jobim on a collection of tunes made famous by the fabled Brazilian and original songs penned by the bassist emulating Jobim’s style.

A native of Tucson, Arizona who recorded and mixed Compared To That while comfortably ensconced in his suburban Los Angeles home studio, Bromberg is respected as a musician with integrity who is gifted with a unique ability to make music at a scholarly level accessible and digestible to the mainstream masses. He landed his breakthrough professional gig at age 18 when tapped to tour for nearly a year playing in legendary jazz saxophonist Stan Getz’s band. Bromberg released his solo debut, A New Day, in 1986. To date, he has scored handfuls of top 10 hits and a pair of #1 singles as a soloist and as a writer and producer for other artists. Recognized as an innovator, he has played acoustic and electric bass on recordings and performances with a luminous encyclopedic list of musicians that spans the spectrum of jazz and popular music ranging from Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughn, Herbie Hancock, Dave Grusin and Nancy Wilson to Sting, Elvis Costello, and Steven Tyler, and from Michael Buble, Josh Groban, Dianna Krall, Andrea Bocelli and David Foster to George Benson, Bob James, Lee Ritenour, Kenny G, Chris Botti, Boney James and Dave Koz. He also played on many major motion picture soundtracks such as “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” “The Preacher’s Wife,” “Fat Albert” and “Hope Floats.” Additional information is available at www.brianbromberg.net.

The songs contained on Bromberg’s Compared To That are:

“Compared To That”
“Rory Lowery, Private Eye”
“If Ray Brown Was A Cowboy?”
“Hayride”
“A Little New Old School”
“Forgiveness”
“Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”
“I’m Just Sayin’”
“The Eclipse”
“Give It To Me Baby”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 2:35 AM

January 18, 2012

Matt Marshak - in Boca and Beyond

By Val Vaccaro

Smooth jazz guitarist, composer, and producer Matt Marshak is scheduled to perform a great show with saxophonist, flutist, and vocalist Marcus Anderson on January 21st as part of the Royal Palm Place Jazz Series at The Funky Biscuit (formerly known as Club 303) in Boca Raton, Florida.

Matt Marshak and Marcus Anderson should make for an exciting and dynamic show since they are terrific performers and also have worked together before. In 2011, they performed a number of concerts together - one show was on New Year’s Eve sponsored by The Groove radio station at the Melbourne-Viera Holiday Inn. They have also played shows together at the Rehoboth Jazz Fest last October, as well as at venues in NYC last August and January. Marshak and Anderson also appeared at the Genuine Jazz & Wine Fest in 2010 with Four80East. See a video from that 2010 show.

The Royal Palm Place Jazz Series of concerts is produced by Jacqui Wyatt (Director of Marketing for Investments Limited/Royal Palm Place in Boca Raton). Jacqui Wyatt is booking artists with Steve Butler, CEO of Mighty Music Corp. Jacqui Wyatt is also co-host with Peter Leonard of a popular radio show “The Talk of The Town” on WBZT 1230 AM and online. The radio show was #1 on Boca Raton Magazine’s 2011 “Ultimate It List…The Boca 100.” Since November 2010, when the Royal Palm Place Jazz Series started, it has featured artists such as Matt Marshak, Jackiem Joyner, Urban Gypsy, Marc Antoine, Jeff Kashiwa, Brian Simpson, Jeff Lorber, and Alexander Zonjic.

Just last year on January 15th (Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday), Matt Marshak had performed a fantastic show of his original songs and some great covers as part of the Royal Palm Place Jazz Series at The Funky Biscuit club (known last year as Club 303). During that concert, Matt Marshak, a native New Yorker from Long Island, was backed by top Florida-based musicians who often perform with smooth jazz saxophonist Eric Darius. The band included super-funky bassist Tim George, powerhouse drummer Third Richardson, and soulful keyboardist Wayne Levy. Also, saxophonist Ally Voz was a special guest on the show. The band had support setting up the show from Randy Bennett – Station Manager at the smooth jazz radio station The Groove WGRV FM 93.1 Melbourne, Florida (which is a nonprofit organization), and from top audio engineer Neal Newman who set up the excellent sound for the show. After that show, Marshak signed CDs and tee shirts for fans who gathered around to express their delight and appreciation for the great show (with merchandising support by Lori Henry who does promotion for Nuance Music Group, Marshak’s independent record label).

For almost a decade now, guitarist Matt Marshak has delighted audiences with his shows in the U.S. and Europe. Marshak has performed at numerous jazz festivals such as: Seabreeze Jazz Festival, Jacksonville Beach Jazz Fest, Space Coast Jazz Festival, Rehoboth Beach Jazz Fest, Hartford Jazz Fest, Berks Jazz Fest, Genuine Jazz & Wine Fest, Potomac Jazz Festival, Catalina Jazz Trax Fest, Jazz in the Woods, Low Country Jazz Fest, River Raisin Jazz Fest, Dauphin County Jazz Fest, Tucson Jazz Society’s concert series, Penns Landing in Philadelphia, and others. Matt Marshak has also performed shows at contemporary jazz venues around the U.S. such as Humphrey’s Backstage in San Diego, Spaghettini Grille and Lounge in Seal Beach outside of LA, Houndstooth Pub in NYC, Scullers Jazz Club in Boston, Jazz Alley in Seattle, Blues Alley in Washington D.C., Raphael Vineyards and Bedell Cellars in Long Island, and other locations. Marshak has also played shows on numerous jazz cruises (and is scheduled to perform on an upcoming Soul Jazz cruise to Bermuda this May 2012).

Also, guitarist Matt Marshak has opened for or shared the stage with many contemporary artists including Marcus Anderson (as mentioned earlier), Dave Koz, Boney James, Guitars and Saxes (with Richard Elliot, Peter White, Jeff Golub, and Steve Cole), The Sax Pack, Alex Bugnon, Earl Klugh, Nick Colionne, Shilts, Spyro Gyra, Jeff Kashiwa, Steve Cole, Jackiem Joyner, Four80East, Brian Simpson, Shilts, Joyce Cooling, Peter White, Will Donato, Jaared, David Mann, Chris Geith, Bakithi Kumalo, Rodney Harris, Dwayne Kerr, Robert Poe, David Wells, Carl Burnett, Mario Cruz, Lucy Bonilla, Jack Licitra, John Favicchia and many more.

For the past few years, Matt Marshak’s “hometown” band members in the NY area often include Kenny Harris on bass, Chris Marshak on drums (who also happens to be Matt’s brother) and Tim Regusis on keyboards.

The music of Matt Marshak is a blend of jazz, funk, soul, blues, chill, world music, neo- soul and other influences. To date, Matt Marshak has released six CDs: Urban Folktales (2011), Family Funktion (2009), On the Rocks (2008), Groovosphere (2006), This Time Around (2004), and Preservation (2001).

Matt Marshak’s Urban Folktales CD was released in April 2011, three months after his show in January for the Royal Palm Place Jazz Series – so he will have some new material to play at the upcoming January 21, 2012 concert. Back in April 2011, the world premier radio debut of Marshak’s Urban Folktales CD was on SmoothJazz.com’s global online radio station with radio host Carol Handley. Last June, a CD release show was held in Melbourne, Florida.

When the Urban Folktales CD was released, Matt Marshak wrote in his newsletter:

“For the first time in my musical journey, I decided to put out a record based on a concept. The theme is the late night sound. Part jazz, part R&B, part atmosphere, part Neo-Soul, part just whatever you may want to call or label it. George Benson's "Give me the Night," Teddy Pendergrass' "Love TKO," Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite record, Jill Scott's "Give it to Me," and Anthony Hamilton’s "Can't Let Go" were all very influential R&B tunes and records that have inspired me. There is a certain soulful and enigmatic quality to this sub genre--the urban experience defined musically... We were not worried about putting out a smooth jazz anthem, rather stories or folktales of the Urban kind.”

In May 2011, Matt Marshak’s Urban Folktales CD was the #1 best seller of CDs in both the Smooth Jazz and Urban/R&B: Neo soul music genre categories on CDBaby.com. On May 23rd and May 30th, Urban Folktales rose to #1 on the Top 50 Smooth Indie Star jazz chart for radio airplay and was also #16 on SmoothJazz.com. The first single from the Urban Folktales CD, “A Silent Knowing” debuted on Billboard Magazine’s “Smooth Jazz Top 30” chart. More recently, in regards to radio airplay in the U.S., the Urban Folktales CD was #25 on the Smooth Indie Top 50 Indie chart for independent labels (as of Jan. 9, 2012), and was #29 on the 2011 “End of Year Top 50 Smoothjazz.com Chart.”

The Urban Folktales CD has received glowing reviews at JazzTimes magazine and in other jazz media. According to the CD liner notes, the music is described this way: “Tunes to reflect to, dance to, or just relax to… Take the deep breath, grab your favorite merlot, dim your lights, and enjoy this soundtrack for the evening hours.”

The Urban Folktales CD includes soulful, smooth jazz songs to ‘chill out’ to such as “Next to You” (a collaboration with Marcus Anderson on vocoder) and “Teddy” which is a warm, relaxed tribute to the late, great pop/soul singer Teddy Pendergrass (who recently passed on in 2010). “Silent Knowing” is a smooth jazz track with Matt Marshak’s sweet guitar tones accompanied nicely by muted trumpet riffs from Barry Danielian. There are also upbeat, funky, joyful tunes with pronounced bass and horns, such as “Tell Me How You Feel,” “Glen Burnie,” and “Dancin’ With My Daughter - Madison’s Song” (written for The Marshak’s baby daughter – who was born to Matt and his wife Dionne in 2010).

Recently, Matt Marshak gave an interview last December with guitar maker Epiphone (whose guitars he plays and endorses). Marshak is currently working on a new modern blues CD – inspired in part by artists such as Larry Carlton and Robben Ford. Marshak said he will be playing on Sheraton and Epiphone Les Paul Ultra III guitars.

Also, Nuance Music Group (Matt Marshak’s independent label) recently made a deal with Octet Records in Japan to distribute the Urban Folktales CD, with a tour planned in Japan in the near future (the label is also seeking corporate sponsorship for the tour). Matt Marshak’s music should become popular with enthusiastic contemporary jazz fans around the world, especially in places like Japan.

In addition to being a composer (of original songs and advertising jingles), producer, recording artist, and touring in the U.S. and around the world - including doing concerts to support a variety of worthy charities and causes - Matt Marshak has another musical mission. For many years now, Matt has been working with his brother Chris to bring music programs to young children in public schools and at events in the Long Island-New York area.

Chris Marshak (Matt's older brother) is also a studio musician who has played on various artists’ CDs, from jazz to pop music. (For instance, Chris Marshak played drums on Steve Winwood’s original new song “Spanish Dancer” on the 2010 CD Revolutions: The Very Best of Steve Winwood and Revolutions 4 CD Box Set).

As a music educator, Matt Marshak is in the process of developing a new program for public schools “to introduce the wonderful world of guitar to a whole new generation of future listeners and players.” Marshak has also taken on the role of artist coach and consultant for musicians seeking feedback and help with their careers.

For tour and other information on guitarist Matt Marshak, please visit "http://www.mattmarshak.com/" http://www.mattmarshak.com/

For upcoming shows in the Royal Palm Place Jazz Series in 2012 – including Four80 East on April 21st, a show for Mother’s Day weekend, and other shows in June, September, and November 2012 – see HYPERLINK "http://www.facebook.com/royalpalmjazz"http://www.facebook.com/royalpalmjazz and "http://royalpalmjazzseries.eventbrite.com/"http://royalpalmjazzseries.eventbrite.com/


Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:25 PM

December 6, 2011

Kirk Whalum duets with his brother, Kevin, to remake a classic album in a Romance Language of their own

Grammy winning saxophonist’s reimaged take on the Coltrane/Hartman collaboration will be released on Valentine’s Day

Memphis, TN (6 December 2011): Most artists would be daunted at the thought of remaking a classic work of art made by legends, but not Grammy winner Kirk Whalum. The multidimensional saxophonist adeptly steps into the role of John Coltrane and tapped his brother, vocalist Kevin Whalum, to fill the shoes of Johnny Hartman on an unabashedly romantic collection of duets originally recorded in 1963 by the seminal artists. Romance Language, due to be released on Valentine’s Day by Rendezvous Music, consists of all six songs that comprise the Coltrane/Hartman recording along with a handful of modern ballads to complete the disc produced by Kirk Whalum and John Stoddart.

In addition to the traditional CD and digital version, an extended and enhanced digital version of Romance Language will be released as the world’s first complete LiveAudio optimized album for JAMBOX by JAWBONE, a leader in personal mobile technology devices. LiveAudio allows music to be enjoyed in a 3D-like, surround sound experience from a single, small Bluetooth wireless speaker. This one-of-a-kind version of Romance Language will be available exclusively at www.kirkwhalum.com/JAMBOX.

In conjunction with the album release, Kirk & Kevin Whalum will perform a Valentine’s Day concert at the Hilton Portland Downtown in Oregon that will stream live to a global audience through Kirk Whalum’s website, www.kirkwhalum.com.

The Whalum brothers approached the half-dozen standards from the original recording with admiration and veneration. Kirk Whalum and Stoddart crafted fresh arrangements that place the time-tested songs such as Irving Berlin’s “They Say It’s Wonderful,” Sammy Cahn’s “Dedicated To You,” Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” and Richard Rodgers’ “You Are Too Beautiful” in present day R&B-adult pop and jazz settings. The newer songs – including renderings of contemporary hits written by Terry Lewis & James “Jimmy Jam” Harris, Eric Benet, and Joe (Thomas) - maintain the mood, feel and ambience of the storied set. Throughout Romance Language, Kevin Whalum’s suave, velvety voice is cool and in command while Kirk Whalum’s sax solos and fills are inspired, warm and nuanced etchings. The amorous album unfolds with the grace of an intimate hand-penned love letter - seductively sweet, genuinely heartfelt, and poetically passionate. Recorded “live” at Dark Horse recording studios in Nashville with very little overdubbing, the musicians accompanying the Whalum’s were John Stoddart (piano, keyboards, organ, backing vocals), Marcus Finnie (drums), Braylon Lacy (bass), Kevin Turner (electric guitar), Michael “Nomad” Ripoll (acoustic guitar), Ralph Lofton (organ), George Tidwell (flugelhorn, trumpet), and percussionists Bashiri Johnson and Javier Solis. Kirk & Kevin Whalum’s 83 years-young uncle, Hugh “Peanuts” Whalum, poured his distinctive, emotion-charged voice into the broken-hearted “Almost Doesn’t Count” and the poignant bonus track, “You Are So Beautiful.”

Romance Language, now so elegantly completed, absolutely qualifies for my bucket list. Having been a fan of Kevin's luscious voice for over 30 years and a fan of the Coltrane/Hartman recording for at least that long, this project is more of a consummation than just serendipity. Every time I listened to the Coltrane/Hartman recording, I thought of Kevin and mused at the idea of redoing the whole album with my little brother. Kevin caressed each and every note. My other ‘brother,’ John Stoddart ‘dined’ with me on these arrangements. My touring band embraced each performance as we recorded ‘live’ in the studio––virtually no overdubs, over-takes or over-production. Just sheer joy and love, respect and reverence for the original recording as well as these amazing compositions,” said Memphis native Kirk Whalum, who will tour with Kevin in the spring to support Romance Language. “Oh... and boy is this album romantic. I invite you to take it on a test drive. Drive slow.”

Romance Language is Kirk Whalum’s 19th album as a front man since his 1985 solo debut, Floppy Disk. He topped the Billboard contemporary jazz album charts twice (And You Know That! and Cache) and amassed 11 Grammy nominations. Whalum took home a coveted Grammy earlier this year for a duet with Lalah Hathaway that appeared on his The Gospel According to Jazz: Chapter III. An ordained minister who earned a Master’s degree in the Art of Religion, Kirk Whalum has forged an unparalleled career path in both the secular and the non-secular music words, garnering hits, awards and accolades for his jazz, R&B and gospel recordings. His soulfully expressive tenor sax voice is unique and has appeared on literally hundreds of recordings by Barbara Streisand, Quincy Jones, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Michael McDonald, Stanley Clarke, George Duke, and Larry Carlton as well as on collaborative albums with Bob James, Rick Braun and Norman Brown. When not recording or performing, he educates and mentors the next generation of musicians in his role as president/CEO of the STAX Music Academy and the STAX Museum of American Soul Music. Additional information is available at www.kirkwhalum.com.

The songs contained on Kirk Whalum’s Romance Language are:

“They Say It’s Wonderful”
“Dedicated To You”
“My One and Only Love”
“Lush Life”
“You Are Too Beautiful”
“Autumn Serenade”
“Almost Doesn’t Count”
“I Wish I Wasn’t”
“I Wanna Know”
“Spend My Life With You”
“You Are So Beautiful” (bonus track)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:06 PM

September 19, 2011

Smooth Jazz Festival Augsburg 2011, Germany

September 16-18, 2011, the 4th annual Smooth Jazz Festival took place in Augsburg, Germany. After Bregenz and Munich, the festival now found its permanent home in Augsburg, Germany where the festival was held for the second consecutive time in the Park Theater at Kurhaus Göggingen, a historic building which provided the perfect backdrop for the concerts. There were plenty of bars and catering areas to take care of our needs.

Like last year, the headlining players were backed by a local band of professionals who played with many great smooth jazz instrumentalists over the years and had extensive experience from musicals, tv and touring, so we had to make no deductions from quality and overall experience, this band delivered and was always up to the task at hand. Musical director Lutz Deterra on keys, Günter Asbeck on bass, Andy Pilger on drums and Martin Weiss on guitar provided the perfect accompaniment to the smooth jazz stars who came over from the US to play for us.

Friday night, the festival was opened by the lovely Jessy J on tenor saxophone, her soft and smooth saxophone sound reminded me of John Klemmer and in parts of Gato Barbieri, she played several songs from her brand new album Hot Sauce and more material from her previous catalog - like the classic "Tequila Moon" - she was joined in the middle of her show by Swedish keyboardist Jonathan Fritzén who she collaborated with on one of his albums. Later her mentor, producer and friend Paul Brown entered the stage to play a couple of songs with her on guitar, kicking things up another notch. Jessy J proved to be not only a good looking woman, but to be most of all a credible sax player that was well in command of her instrument. Her performance was well received.

Next was guitarist Paul Brown, who started his career as a producer and luckily decided to step away from the mixing console into the spotlight onto a stage, his guitar playing comes straight from the George Benson/Wes Montgomery school, but with a contemporary and funky twist. This was my first time seeing Paul Brown doing an own show, it was a total treat to see this man immerse himself into grooves and melodies and play his heart out. He did a song originally recorded with Marc Antoine, having Martin Weiss on acoustic guitar stepping in, it was total bliss. Not totally unexpected, Jessy J came back to the stage to return the favor, also Jonathan Fritzén joined the party, along with Italian sax player Rocco Ventrella, to end the night in an exciting fashion. This was another special evening of smooth jazz by some outstanding players.

Saturday night was opened by Rocco Ventrella on sax, who hails from Bari, Italy. Rocco Ventrella is a regular of the festival and almost played at each one, he is a crowd pleaser with his emotional and energetic style. He opened with "Soulful Strut" and got the audience in the palm of his hand right away. During his short set, he invited Paul Brown on guitar for one song, before he had to make way for the next performer. Rocco Ventrella sounds better each time I see him and I always look forward to hear him. He has a new album to be released soon.

Swedish keyboardist Jonathan Fritzén is the son of a Swedish mother and American father, he lives in Stockholm and is a rising smooth jazz star. He plays his keys with an emotional intensity that is very special, his songs are catchy and groovy, making you feel good. He played songs from his first three releases, among them one track he did with Jessy J on sax. It was done over the Internet without the two actually having met, and tonight it was the first time for the two players to perform this song together live, which was a truly special affair. Another highlight of the show was his stroll with a little Korg synth strapped around his neck wandering into the audience. I was totally blown away by this player and hope to be able to experience him live soon again.

Next was probably the biggest star of the whole festival, legendary saxophonist extraordinaire Gerald Albright. He was in a relaxed mood and played flawlessly, his clean sound and trademark staccato lines were a joy to listen to. He did his trademark song "George On My Mind", "My My My" and other tracks from his vast catalog. At the end of his show, Jessy J, Rocco Ventrella and Paul Brown joined the stage to end the show in an all-star frenzy. As expected, this show was the highlight of the festival and it was great to have Gerald Albright playing at our shores.

Like Friday night, after the show our beloved DJ Ralph "Jazzcrusader" Schulz took care of the after party with a mix of smooth jazz, funk and disco for those not ready to hit the sack yet.

Sunday morning we got the Martin Ehlers Trio featuring trumpet player Ingolf Burkhardt, the acoustic piano trio did their program of acoustic, very melodious and easy on the ear songs, which was just the right thing for an easy Sunday morning.

This was another great festival and I applaud Christian Bössner to pull it all off. The next Smooth Jazz Festival Augsburg will take place Sept 14-16, 2012, so mark your calendars!

More pictures @ Flickr

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:25 PM

August 8, 2011

The Ultimate Jazz Festival - Green, Smooth Jazz and Old School

By Ricky Richardson

Ontario,CA - The 3rd Annual Ultimate Jazz Festival was held on Saturday, August 6th and Sunday, August 7th, in a new venue, Guasti Regional Park in Ontario, California. This was a very relaxing setting, with lots of trees for shade. A large energetic crowd was on hand to get their groove on.

Festival organizers considered this to be the jazz event of the summer. The reason is that The Ultimate Jazz Festival is known for its flare of uniqueness in bringing together musicians from different genres of music to one stage including Latin, R&B, Funk and Smooth Jazz. This year's festival brought some of the hottest acts to the Inland Empire.

Saturday, Leonard Robinson, Program Host, KDEE 97.5 FM, Sacramento returned as Master of Ceremonies. Shilts kicked off the festival with material from his current CD's. The crowd and I were swaying and booping as Shilts sweetened up his set with "Sugar" by the late great saxophonist Stanley Turrentine and concluded his hot set with some cool "Short Island Ice Tea."

DJ Wynn spun tracks in between bands. He kep upt the momentum of the party. No party would be complete without "Stepping Dance" and "Cupid Shuffle."

Urban Jazz Coalition plays a unique blend of smooth R&B jazz. The MC described the band as being a blend of The Jazz Crusaders and Spyra Gyra. Their repertoire included original composition "Saguaro Sunset" and a rousing version of "Birdland" which is a tune that has been recorded by many well known artists.

Nick Collionne is considered the best dressed smooth jazz guitarist on the scene. He is always dressed sharp from head to toe. He charmed his way into the hearts of the crowd with his humorous conversation. The highlight of his set featured a crowd pleasing version "A Rainy Night in Georgia." Nick and his band got down with the blues on "Whose Making Dirty Dishes with You."

Pieces of a Dream is an American R&B/jazz group from Philadelphia. The group was formed in 1976 by bassist Cedric Napoleon, drummer Curtis Harmon, and keyboardist James Lloyd. They performed a solid set of original tunes from their extensive catalog. Their set consisted of "Wake Up Call," "Anywhere You Are," "Mount Airy Groove"-everyone was able to stretched out on this tune, and "Night Vision." Vocalist Ramona Dunlap added her beautiful and powerful voice on several songs "Wished I Never Met You," "The Best is Yet to Come," and an uplifting song "Keep on Striving For The Top."

Tony! Toni! Tone crashed out their Oakland neighborhood in 1988 with Gold debut album Who? which spawned the hit "Little Walter." In 1990, to both critical and popular acclaim, their second album The Revival garnered four #1 hits. The bands continues to tour the United States performing more than 600 sold out concerts. The crowd were delighted as Tony! Toni! Tone included The Ultimate Jazz Festival as part of their tour. They performed a highly energetic set of popular hits which consisted of "It Never Rains (In Southern California), "Anniversary" and "Lay Your Head on my Pillow" just to name a few.

Soul influenced funk group Cameo concluded day one of the festival on a high note.

Sunday, day two of The Ultimate Jazz continued on a beautiful day. The line-up featured saxophonist Jessy J, flautist Althea Rene, Jeff Golub, Euge Groove, and closed out with Keith Sweat.

The Ultimate Jazz Festival was produced by Jazz to be Green, a non-profit organization whose goal is to raise awareness about energy efficiency, green environment, and green jobs through the art of jazz.Their goal is to develop partnerships with local utility companies to create forums for sharing information on how our community can save money by using less energy during their daily activities and in their homes. They are a proud supporters of the Lupus Foundation, a portion of The 3rd Annual Ultimate Jazz Festival will be donated to this worthy cause.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 4:38 AM

July 17, 2011

Sparkling 4th of July Fireworks with Music

By Ricky Richardson

Los Angeles - The nation celebrated its birthday on the Monday, July 4th, 2011. Locally, Angelenos had many options for enjoying the 4th of July. One could picnic in the park, visit the mountains, go to the beach, have a block party or perhaps a private function at home. Hundreds gathered at the Vision Backlot for the 9th Annual 4th of July Leimert Park Jazz Festival sponsored by Councilmember Bernard C. Parks and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. We were thoroughly entertained with a stellar line-up of musicians as well as comedianes. I arrived in time to catch Mark Allen Felton played a set of smooth jazz, coupled with some jazz standards from his latest CD I Do It For Love. Ray Bailey set the stage on fire with a incendiary set of blues. Comedian Roz Browne were making a return engagement to the festival with some side splitting humor. Marquaret Love along with pianist Karen Hernandez and drummer Fu Fu closed out the festival with a mixed set of jazz, blues and soul.

My next stop for the 4th of July, happened to consist of two different celebrations. The Exposition Park 4th of July Extravaganza was brought to the people by The Office of Councilmember Bernard C. Parks, Radio Free 102.3 KJLH, A Better LA, Unity One, The Los Angeles Coliseum Commission and the California African American Museum. A family friendly Fun Zone was set up for the kids which consisted of bouncers and face paintings. Radio Free 102.3 KJLH had those in the parks jamming to music provided by DJ's as well as local musicians. I was delighted that I arrived in time to see a fabulous vocalist taking the stage. She comes from a musical family. Her name is Tasha Taylor (does it rang a bell). This is the daughter of Johnny Taylor. Ms. Taylor fronted a tight band as she performed some popular tunes from her dads catalog, as well as material from her latest CD entitled Taylor Made to the delight of all in attendance.

I walked over to my next and final destination for the day. Target Sundays at CAAM were beginning to start their live program as I found a seat near the stage. We were welcomed and greeted by CAAM's Executive Director Charmaine Jefferson and she introduced the co-host for the evening Nita Whitaker LaFontaine and Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter. The live program of entertainment had a patriotic vibe - the venue was decorated appropriately for the occassion. Some of the special guest performers contributed to the occassion by singing some patriotic songs or reciting poems. We were entertained  for several hours with performances by Nita Whitaker LaFontaine, Kim Staunton, K. B. Solomon, Sharon Ridley, Rodrick Covington, and Adam Jackson and the Full Spectrum Band closing out the program. DJ N'Namdi added a special touch to the program by spinning tracks for everyone.

Thousands circled the Los Angeles Coliseum for "The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Fireworks Extravanga" - a one hour fireworks show accompanied by contemporary music.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:57 PM

June 22, 2011

GLOBAL NOIZE Release Their Sophomore Album, A PRAYER FOR THE PLANET On August 23, 2011 Via Lightyear/EMI

We are at what is clearly a line of demarcation in our society, where the only thing that can be said with much clarity is that things going forward will be very different than they have been in the past. While that future is uncertain, one of the things that we know is a fact is that our lives, more than at any other time in the past, will be more inter dependent on factors that are global in nature than ever before. Clearly this planet is in need of at least a prayer.

Enter the musical collective Global Noize and their second album, A Prayer for the Planet. Under the collaborative leadership of jazz/pop/r&b veteran, Jason Miles and world class turntabalist DJ Logic, the first Global Noize album was nothing short of a huge exclamation point that very clearly fuzed together the best of the musical styles that we call jazz, funk, rock and hip hop. This was done with an all-star cast of musicians who were contemporary stars of those styles, combined with an all-star cast of musicians from outside of the United States.

Keyboardist extraordinaire Jason Miles has worked with everyone from Miles Davis and Luther Vandross to Ivan Lins, and turntable guru DJ Logic has collaborated with such diverse artists as Phish, Vernon Reid, ?uestlove and Don Byron. The timeless innovators join forces with sensuous Indian vocalist Falu as Global Noize, and release their sophomore album, A Prayer for the Planet on August 23, 2011 via Lightyear/EMI. The album will be released June 11, 2011 in Europe on Art of Groove Records/MIG.

A Prayer For The Planet is Global Noize’s declaration on the state of our world in the 21st century. Featuring appearances by Karl Denson, Mocean Worker, Jeff Coffin, Oz Noy, Jay Rodriguez, Mailka Zarra, Lica Cecata and more, Jason Miles, DJ Logic & Falu have crafted a truly imaginative and compelling album without sacrificing the global groove, melody and innovation that made up the first Global Noize CD.

Bombay, singer Falu (aka Falguni Shah) is widely recognized for a rare ability to seamlessly blend a signature modern inventive rock style with a formidable Indian classically-shaped vocal talent.

In her early years she was trained rigorously in the Jaipur musical tradition, honing her talent for up to 16 hours a day at times. She has performed as a soloist with Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project and onstage at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the White House.

FREE mp3 download of "A PRAYER FOR THE PLANET" (feel free to post)

Global Noize, which DJ Logic describes as "a hip and eclectic musical journey crossing all boundaries," is an organic, free-spirited sonic brew of some of the best elements of jazz, funk, electronica and world fusion – it is music without borders.

Many great world-class musicians and artists have performed with Global Noize: Fred Wesley, Eric Krasno, Billy Martin, Cyro Baptista, Jeff Coffin, Ian Neville, Bernie Worrell, Me’shell Ndgeocello, Oteil Burbridge, Karl Denson, John Popper, Adam Deitch, George Porter Jr., and Christian Scott to name a few.

The group has performed at a number of festivals from Aspen Jazz and Monterey Jazz Festival to Berks Jazz Festival and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Global Noize performed an exemplary set at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival last week and will be at the Belleayre Music Festival on July 30 in Highmount, NY and The Falcon in Marlboro on July 31. More tour dates will be added along with a full tour in the late summer through the fall.

Global Noize makes it easy for artists and musicians from wherever they perform to participate in their performance. The group plans to perform in countries all over the world and have local and national artists perform with them as special guests. Ringmasters Jason Miles and DJ Logic have evolved their collective of some of the best instrumental players and vocalists in the world into an aggregation that provides clarity in direction not only for the music but perhaps for our society as well.

You might be tempted to try and categorize the music of Global Noize on A Prayer For The Planet... take a listen, go ahead and try, because you can't do it. It doesn't fit into any of the categories that you already know about.

Global Noize release A Prayer For The Planet on August 23, 2011 via Lightyear / EMI.

“It’s abundantly clear that the brilliant minds behind Global Noize care little for so-called cultural boundaries, and they make no apologies for it.”
- Global Rhythm Magazine

“innovative, genre-crunching”
- Billboard

“DJ Logic and Jason Miles haven’t merely epitomized the term, ‘world-music’ with their brainchild Global Noize, but rather redefined what that vague musical classification can encompass.”
- Jambase

“a mind-bending, funky and melodic futuristic look as the world through music… Global Noize offers a musical vision of a world you’d be happy to inhabit.”
- JazzTimes

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:46 PM

May 30, 2011

1st European Smooth Music Cruise cancelled

The 1st European Smooth Music Cruise which was supposed to sail from Venice in October and would have featured Jessy J, Paul Brown, Michael Lington, Nils, Jonathan Fritzen and others unfortunately was cancelled due to lack of sales. The cruise didn't get the minimum number of participants in time, so Christian Bössner, the man behind "Smooth Jazz In The Cube" and "Smooth Jazz Festival Augsburg", and his partner Johannes Stich, pulled the plug. Too bad to see that the concept of smooth jazz cruises - which is a big hit in the US market - couldn't catch on in Europe, at least not in the currently offered form which would have emphasized style and class in an intimate setting on a smaller ship. People interested in smooth jazz cruises are invited to register at their site for a possible future cruise.

All is not lost, in 2012 Dave Koz offers "Dave Koz & Friends at Sea" with a top-notch lineup, sailing from Barcelona, Spain in late September, so hopefully this one will draw more interest from European smooth jazz fans.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:53 AM

May 19, 2011

3rd Annual Jazzy Jam Pasadena

By Ricky Richardson

Pasadena - The 3rd Annual Jazzy Jam-Pasadena: Education for Empowerment Benefit Concert was held on Saturday, May 14, 2011. This worthy benefit concert with the proceeds supporting enrichment programs for children and youth served by Charity Events LA and Flintridge Center was held in Central Park on a cool, overcast day.

An enthusiastic crowd was in attendance at Pasadena's Central Park, which is experiencing a cultural revival with the return of the 3rd Annual Jazzy Jam Pasadena.

The crowd and I were having a church going experience in the Park. The Pasadena City Wide Gospel Choir directed by Pastor Jonathan DeCuir and Carolyn Hopkins replenished our spiritual needs with the following uplifting songs "Souled Out," "Psalm 3," "I Won't Forget It," and "Put a Little Love in Your Heart."

Rapid Reponse were making a return engagement to the Jazzy Jam Pasadena. This professional group consists of Pasadena employees from the Police, Fire and various departments for the city. They took the crowd down memory lane with a set of Old School R&B/Rock & Roll. The crowd eagerly travelled with the band on "Boogie Oogie," "Black Coffee in Bed," "Funky Stuff," "Don't Ask My Neighbor," "Get Ready," and concluded their set with "Rock Steady."

The Supa Lowery Brothers featuring brothers Christopher on trumpet and Wesley on drums. The group were outstanding on their arrangements of "Little Sunflower," and "Funky Good Time."

Vessel(s) & The Band brought an uplifting message in the form of fusion of Worship/Inspirational/Contemporary Christian songs on "This is The Day The Lord Has Made," "I Just Want to Say Thank You," and "I'm Going to Keep Pressing On."

The Jazzy Jam Band, directed by bassist Cornelius Mimms presented a delightful variety show with an all-star group of special guests. Vocalist/guitarist Kori Withers, daughter of legendary singer Bill Withers performed two original tunes. Keep your eyes and ears on the look out for more from this talented young lady in the near future. Cornelius and the band took it up a notch on "Boogie Night," "Rock Steady" featuring Sherine Netters working this tune inside and out, followed by "Soulchestral," "You Got Me," and "Little Sunflower" with violinist Karen Briggs. If that wasn't enough Evelyn "Champagne" King and smooth jazz guitarist Freddie Fox were great on "Happy Feelings," "Love Come Down," and "Shame," with the audience singing along to these oldies but goodies.

Johnny Polanco and Su Conjunto Amistad provided infectious, rhythmic, multilayered Latin music that brought out the salseros to the dance floor. Mr. Polanco is adept at playing thirteen different instruments. He played the trombone, tres and vibraphone on this gig.

Mainstream/Contemporary jazz saxophonist Everette Harp closed out the festival with hits from his extended catalog.

Jazzy Jam-Pasadena was produced by Jacqueline Snell-Brown for Charity Events LA, in partnership with the City of Pasadena, and sponsored by US Band, Old Pasadena Management District, Pasadena Star-News, Rose Magazine, Pasadena Scene, Studio City Sound, Pasadena Water & Power, SEP Music, and AT&T.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:15 PM

April 14, 2011

Jazz & Dine with Richard Smith in Holland

April 10th, 2011 was the first Jazz & Dine, with USA guitar player Richard Smith. After a short clubtour in The Netherlands, Richard held his grand finale in the Kulturhus Holten. Backed up by Dutch/Italian sidemen Sietse Huisman (drums), Daniele Labbate (bass) and Tico Pierhagen (keyboards), this concert was a great success. Richard played some of his greatest songs from his albums as a lead-artist by which he succeeded in entertaining and moving the audience. Served with tasteful drinks and food, they loved it! Thanks go out to Inge Wenzel (www.smoothjazz.eu) for bringing smooth jazz to Europe.

Photo: Walter Goyen - www.h4p.com

Posted by Peter Böhi at 11:26 AM

March 14, 2011

Smooth Jazz In The Cube 2011

World Premieret: First Smooth Jazz Festival in the mountains

  • CUBE Biberwier-Lermoos hosts SMOOTH JAZZ IN THE CUBE 2011
  • One whole weekend of smooth jazz: May 20-22, 2011
  • International smooth jazz stars at CUBE Biberwier-Lermoos
CUBE Biberwier-Lermoos becomes a concert venue when the first-ever Smooth Jazz Festival takes place from May 20-22, 2011 in the mountain world of Tyrol’s Zugspitz Arena. Already held in several German cities such as Augsburg and Munich, smooth entertainment founder Christian Bössner is taking his festival back to Austria this year. Music fans can look forward to seeing some of the biggest and most successful stars of the international contemporary and smooth jazz scene. On the programme of Smooth Jazz in the CUBE are two concerts each night Friday and Saturday held directly in the lounge of the design hotel. The first two days will feature individual concerts before the festival weekend ends on Sunday with the Smooth Jazz Allstars & Brunch – a final jam session that brings together all the artists from the weekend on stage one last time. The open loft-like architecture gives CUBE BIBERWIER-LERMOOS unique acoustics and, above all, makes it possible to see the stage from all floors of the hotel. The chill-out lounges on every floor make for a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. CUBE offers the perfect opportunity for dialogue and exchange between audiences and fans. This atmosphere, which allows the artists to mingle with the audience after their performance, is greatly appreciated by musicians and guests alike.

A passion for notes

Christian Bössner, founder of smooth entertainment GmbH, on the start of the cooperation with CUBE BIBERWIER-LERMOOS: “CUBE is a pioneer in the holiday hotels sector; we are pioneers with smooth jazz in Europe. Surely, we have a few things in common.” Smooth jazz is a subgenre of jazz defined by a stylish and harmonious sound and a real passion for notes. It is primarily an instrumental form of music combining elements of pop music and jazz, with a strong leaning towards the pop component. Also characteristic of smooth jazz is its incorporation of other genres such as urban jazz, R&B, lounge music, chill-out music and hip-hop. In the United States, smooth jazz has been extremely popular with audiences for 30 years. One reason is that, in the US, there are over 50 terrestrial (=received through a conventional aerial antenna) smooth jazz radio stations. In Europe, things still look quite different. “Most people are immediately excited by the music, but they often don’t know what exactly they are hearing,” the ambitious festival founder observes.

The first Smooth Jazz in the CUBE Festival will feature Nils, Brian Culbertson, Jackiem Joyner and Nick Colionne, who will thrill the international audience with their exceptional performances. Three of those four musicians are currently listed in the Billboard top 10 jazz single charts.

The stars of the smooth jazz stage

Munich native Nils is the only German ever to have landed a No. 1 hit in the US charts. The song remains so successful today that it was recently chosen the most-played smooth jazz song of the last decade. Brian Culbertson is another current super star of the genre and an artist whose fame reaches far beyond the borders of the US. Jackiem Joyner is the young talent among the artists at the Smooth Jazz in the CUBE Festival in Biberwier and has already landed two No. 1 hits in the Billboard single jazz charts. Nick Colionne is famous for his qualities as an entertainer – besides his own live performance on Saturday, he will host the popular jam session on Sunday (Smooth Jazz Allstars & Brunch).


Smooth Jazz in the CUBE – Get your tickets now!

“CUBE is community and entertainment, which is why, after our first talks with the organisers, it was no longer a question for us of why, but rather of when a first festival could take place,” explains CUBE Managing Director Jörg Preiss. For all smooth jazz fans, CUBE is offering a concert evening including accommodation starting from € 86 per person in a double room. More information about the tickets and package are available at the websites www.cube.smoothjazzfestival.de and www.cube-biberwier.at.

When not enjoying the concert weekend, the design hotel is the perfect home base for smooth jazz enthusiasts and fan groups: the spaciously laid-out hotel lobby with chill-out lounge, video wall, open fireplace and 24h bar is perfect for relaxing get-togethers. Later at night, the party gets going with hot DJ sounds in the CUBE Club.

About CUBE:

CUBE means unconventional architecture and urban design in the middle of the Alps, with a relaxed community feel and 24-hour entertainment. A varied programme of sports activities rounds off the innovative holiday concept – in addition to the classic varieties of sport, the offer also includes the latest fun sports for summer and winter. The CUBE Hotels at the destinations Nassfeld (Carinthia/AT), Biberwier (Tyrol/AT) and Savognin (Graubünden/CH) are the perfect home base for active, sporty, young-at-heart holidaymakers from around the world.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:17 PM

March 13, 2011

George Benson To Headline "Ultimate Weekend" Of Smooth Jazz At 2011 Seabreeze Jazz Festival April 13-17th

National "Top 10" Jazz Festival Returns to Pier Park In Panama City Beach

The sounds of contemporary jazz from top performers will again beckon jazz fans to return to the beautiful beaches of Northwest Florida as the 2011 Seabreeze Jazz Festival returns to Pier Park in Panama City Beach, FL. The event, now in its 13th year, is set for April 13th-17th with performances on stage at the Pier Park Amphitheater adjacent to the exciting Pier Park shopping and entertainment complex.

Named "Top 10 Jazz Festival in the USA" by Jazziz Magazine and recently nominated as "Best Jazz Festival" at the Oasis Smooth Jazz Awards, The Seabreeze Jazz Festival combines the top national smooth jazz artists with a full weekend of fun, sun, great beaches, and good times-- all on the west end of Panama City Beach. The event now attracts over 20,000 fans from the USA, Canada, and Europe for what many call "The Ultimate Weekend" in one non-stop performance-packed weekend of music. Hosted by WSBZ Midday Personality Miranda Wilson, fans will get a live taste of the programming that makes WSBZ-FM The Seabreeze one of the most unique radio stations on the Gulf Coast .

Artists to perform for 2011 include Grammy-Award winner George Benson, along with Boney James, Brian Culbertson, Norman Brown, Richard Elliot, Peter White, Candy Dulfer, Euge Groove, Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, Warren Hill, Jeff Golub, Mindi Abair, Eric Darius, Ken Ford, Cindy Bradley, Paul Taylor, Marion Meadows, Dotsero, Joey Sommerville, Marcus Anderson, Julian Vaughn, Nicholas Cole, Robert Harris, Roman Street, and Jones and Company. The Seabreeze Jazz Festival is unique in it's lineup of current top smooth jazz stars--all with recent or current Top 10 Contemporary Jazz hits on national radio.

Special events include a Smooth Jazz Dinner Cruise aboard The Lady Anderson dinner boat in Panama City on Wednesday, April 13th from 7-10pm with live entertainment from top saxman Eric Darius.

The festival kicks off on the main stage at Pier Park with "A Special Evening with George Benson and Boney James" set for Thursday, April 13th -- showcasing two of the top names in contemporary jazz. George Benson, a guitar legend and multi-Grammy winner, will be celebrating the 35th Anniversary of his landmark album Breezin during the event weekend plus showcasing selections from his latest release Songs and Stories. A free Meet and Greet/Mini Performance event at Borders Books with select festival artists is set for Friday, April 15th at 3pm at the store at Pier Park . And jazz fans will be able to "groove into the late night" after the main performances at the All-Star Jazz Jam After-Parties set for Friday and Saturday nights at Reggae J's at Pier Park hosted by Eric Darius.

Order by phone at 1-800-595-4849 or online at www.seabreezejazzfestival.net. Tickets are $80 for Single Day Events, $140 for a Weekend Pass , and $200 for a Four Day Pass which includes the show with George Benson and Boney James on Thursday, April 14th. Special limited VIP Tickets for "An Evening with George Benson and Boney James" are available for $150 each including VIP parking, VIP entrance, covered table seating near the stage, dinner catered with beer, wine, and soft drinks, and VIP restrooms. Special event tickets to the Smooth Jazz Dinner Cruise and After-Parties are available by phone or online only.

For more information, call 850-267-3279.

For full festival information including performance schedules and tickets, go online to www.seabreezejazzfestival.net.

Presented by WSBZ-FM Seabreeze 106.3 Smooth Jazz. Proceeds to benefit Music In the Schools for local high school band music scholarships, instrument purchases, and jazz band clinics.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 12:29 PM

September 26, 2010

Smooth Jazz Festival Augsburg 2010, Germany

This year's Smooth Jazz Festival 2010 in Germany took place in Augsburg in the Parktheater im Kurhaus Göggingen, a historic bulding from the 19th century that has been rebuilt after a fire and now serves as theater and concert hall. It turned out to be an ideal setting for this event, holding around 450 people, half of them in the seating area. There were bars and catering areas, so we were taken care of very well. The event was attended well, I was pleased to see a capacity crowd and many familiar faces from previous years.

Friday night the festival was kicked off by David Benoit who did some songs from his current Earthglow release, next to several of his classic songs ranging from "Freedom At Midnight" to "Blue Rondo A La Turk", supported by The Heavy Mellow Quartet from Berlin, who backed all the major acts on Friday and Saturday. Later during Benoit's show, special guest Rick Braun played one song, kicking up things a notch. David Benoit was in a great playing mood and provided an excellent performance.

Rick Braun did the late show and turned up the heat considerably, he was joined by Shilts, and the two worked the crowd. David Benoit joined in for one song, returning Rick's earlier favor. Rick Braun did many of his hits, ranging from "Use Me" to "Grazing In The Grass", as another highlight, Chuck Loeb, who just had arrived, joined the party, bringing this first evening to a rousing end.

Saturday, the sax and guitar duo Akusticos opened the evening with some unplugged smooth jazz, before Shilts performed his own show. He did several of his familiar songs (like "Good Evans" and "Look What's Happened" and Stevie's "Tuesday Heartbreak") before featuring a track from his brand new, soon to be released new CD Going Underground. At the end of his show, Rick Braun joined him turning up the heat. This was another great show by a consummate sax player.

Next was guitarist extraordinaire Chuck Loeb doing a great show, just backed by the Heavy Mellow Quartet, he gave us some great renditions of tracks like "The Music Inside" and other gems from his vast catalog. The crowd just loved it. At the end of his show, Rick Braun and Shilts played a couple of tracks with him (like "Brother Ray" and a blues) jamming along, in the spirit of jazz expressing spontaneity and cameraderie. This brought the evening to a satisfying close.

Sunday morning, while some rays of sunshine were entering the building, Joyce Cooling with Jay Wagner and their own drummer, performing in Germany for the first time, capitivated the crowd with her blend of jazz and latin grooves, most notable were the percussion interludes that provided a nice change to the instrumental parts of the concert. She performed her own "Revolving Door" sitting at the edge of the stage, providing a moving part of the concert. Her show was warmly received and she was visibly moved by the response of the crowd, she did two encores.

This festival turned out to be a success, and even more than last year, I am sure that it is destined to be continued successfully in the future. Next year's festival will be held in Augsburg at the same location, so the uncertainty has come to an end and I look forward to be back again.

[More images @ Flickr]

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:46 PM

September 19, 2010

2nd Annual Leimert Park Village African Art and Music Festival

By Ricky Richardson

Los Angeles-Leimert Park Village was all abuzz throughout Labor Day Weekend. The occasion was the 2nd Annual Leimert Park Village African Art & Music Festival. The 2010 theme was “Community Counts.” Throngs of people from the community and beyond enjoyed some soulful music, dance and had a nice poetic experience. I was one of many who were in attendance all three days of the festival, September 4, 5, and 6, 2010.

The Leimert Park Group encouraged all to chill, while being thrilled with the talents of internationally known musicians as well as local favorites. The entire backlot of the Vision Theatre was turned into a vibrant, colorful African bazaar, with an international food court, kid’s area, authentic African Arts and crafts and a lively and exciting auction. Torre Brannon-Reese served as Master of Ceremonies.

The entertainment on the stage featured musicians performing jazz, reggae, blues, R&B, spoken word, smooth jazz and some rock and roll. The lively and rhythmic performances of the musicians offered up a real treat for the public.

Saturday - Each day of the festival opened with Libation. JJ Kamabasi performed this important blessing to kick of the festivities. The highlights on Saturday featured a performance and dance by Tionne paying tribute to Michael Jackson. The Visitors is a talented gospel group who entertained the crowd with some acapella songs “No Turning Back,” “Coming Back to Jesus,” and “There’s a God in Your Heart.” We stayed in an acapella mode with Renaissance performing Do Wop like singers used to do back in the good old days. The crowd were mesmerized by the groups set list of “Magic Moment,” “A Lovers Question,” “Under The Boardwalk,” and “It’s Alright.”

Kelly Love Jones is a singer, songwriter and guitarist who is deserving of wider recognition. I’m sure that the accolades will come in due time. She performed about four songs from her self titled CD. She also sold out all of the CD’s that she brought to this gig. This is a true testament to her talents.

Saxophonist Derrick Edmonson and his lovely wife Debora Simmons Edmonson were celebrating their fifth year anniversary on this day. They performed as a duo and delivered a solid set on “What You Won’t Do For Love,” “I Just Want To Be Close To You,” “Tell Me If You Want Me Too,” and “Master Blaster” before leaving to celebrate their anniversary in style.

Kamasi Washington closed out day one with a set of straight ahead jazz for the jazz purist in the audience.

Sunday - Shine Muwasi had the honor of performing the Libation on day two. The audience and I were taken on a musical journey down memory lane. Vocalist Faleisha Reese sang “Honey, I Love You,” “Hypnotized,” “Rock Steady.” Vocalist Dee Bradley was also great as he performed two selections from the Frankie Beverly and Maze songbook. Nostalgia billed itself as a Temptations Revue. They were dressed to the nines, were excellent in their synchronized dance moves and wonderful singing “Get Ready,” “Ain’t to Proud to Beg,” “Stay,” “I Wish It Would Rain,” “Just My Imagination,” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.”

I’m continually amazed at how versatile vocalist Maia is. We were able to witness another aspect of her delightful spiritual life as she sang and played the harp for an attentive crowd.

Wadada worked the crowd up in a frenzy with their infectious African and reggae rhythms. Audiences throughout the Globe have this same experience when ever and where ever Wadada performs.

Earl R. Johnson, Jr. performed material from his current CD Juicy. His band backed festival headliner Randy Crawford. Her radiant smile lit up the stage and the festival grounds as she spread joy through her lyrics. You could have heard a pin drop as Ms. Crawford’s angelic voice could be heard singing “Respect Yourself,” “At Last,” “Since I Fell For You,” “Street Life,” “God Bless The Child,” and capped off a marvelous evening with “Every Day I Have The Blues.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the name of the group who performed Libation on Monday the final day of the festival. Anthony Aquarius rocked the festival grounds as he took on the persona of Jimi Hendrix in wardrobe, speech, singing, guitar playing-with his teeth, behind his back, between his legs. He was spot-on on Hendrix’s tunes “Foxy Lady,” “Purple Haze,” “Red House,” “Voodoo Child,” and “Machine Gun.”

Foxy For You were stellar in their tribute to the Supremes with the tunes “Dreamgirls,” “Stop In The Name of Love,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Mr. Postman,” and had the crowd jump to their feet with “Dancing In the Streets.”

I concluded my enjoyment of the 2nd Annual Leimert Park Village African Art & Music Festival listening to Jay Boykins. This is a rising star in the smooth jazz/adult contemporary music community. You will continue to hear more from this dynamic saxophonist in the future.

Kelly Love Jones made a return engagement to the festival. She was welcomed back by popular demand. The festival also featured the blues performed by Wali Ali, some modern jazz by Michael Session and Azar Lawrence and concluded with the rhythmic African drumming of Nijite.

The Leimert Park Group should be commended for their first class cultural festival. They have filled a huge void in the cultural landscape for the community during Labor Day Weekend. This is quite significant when one notice the absence of both the African Marketplace and the Long Beach Blues Festival that typically were held on Labor Day Weekend. The Leimert Park Group consists of Yevette Renee Nelson, Sika Wilkinson, Jackie Ryan and Amaechina Doreen.

The festival was made possible by the generous contributions of resources and time. The 2010 supporters were Councilmember Bernard C. Parks, 8th District, Union Bank, The Getty, Sparkletts Water, and Time Warner Cable. Official radio sponsors are KJLH Radio Free 102.3FM, and KPFK Radio 90.7FM. Additional sponsors were The Department of Cultural Affairs of Los Angeles and Community Build.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:47 AM

August 17, 2010

Honoring Legends at Long Beach Jazz Festival

By Ricky Richardson

Long Beach - This past weekend, the stage was set with all of the right elements for another successful summer of music at the 23rd Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival. The festival was held at the beautiful grass knoll of the Rainbow Lagoon, August 13-15, 2010. The right elements that were in place were an international food court, clothing’s and other accessories booths, a multi-ethnic eclectic crowd. Noticeable absent were the scorching hot weather from festival past. The weather was pleasant 80’s with a constant breeze. A smorgasbord of jazz, Latin jazz, soul/R&B and smooth jazz nourished the crowd’s hearts.

Friday night the crowd was treated to a set from Jazz Search winners to kick off the festival. Making a good first impression on the crowd were Anne Mack who sang “In Walked Bud,” and Matilda Haywood performing “Cheek to Cheek.” The Jazz Search winner for 2010 was vocalist/producer Darrin “D.Note” Milton the son of legendary trumpeter Clora Bryant.

Legends 1 - The Jazz Crusaders came out swinging hard with their signature sound of hard bop marinated in soul with “On Broadway,” and “The Thing” from their extensive catalog of hits. The reunion announcement of The Jazz Crusaders was met with much excitement and anticipation. The members of the band lived up to the hype and received a standing ovation at the end of their set. The members of the band featured Joe Sample - piano, Wayne Henderson - trombone, Euge Groove - saxophone, Nick Sample - bass, and Maurice Lucas on drums. Check out their website for tour dates that may arrive in a city near you soon.

Saxophonist Boney James has recaptured his energy in an emotionally heartfelt and spiritually uplifting performance much to the delight of his adoring fans. He closed out the opening night of the festival.

Legends 2 - Jazz composer/keyboardist/producer/arranger Jason Miles has a distinguished history of producing critically acclaimed CD’s in tribute to the late great Grover Washington Jr. On Saturday, he assembled an All-Star cast of legends and band leaders in their own right for a Tribute to Grover Washington Jr. How’s this for a band: Ronnie Laws - sax, Tom Scott - sax, Chante Moore - vocals, and Paul Jackson Jr., on guitar. It doesn’t get any better than this. The band performed “Mr. Magic,” “Just The Two of Us,” “Take Me There,” and “Let It Flow” written for basketball legend Dr.J.

Several dynamic vocalists helped to contribute to a soulful music experience on Saturday. Vocalist Karen A. Clark and Melanie Fiona graced the stage in different sets and thoroughly engaged a captivated crowd. Mark Allen Felton, Shilts, Dave Koz and Jonathan Butler with special guest Sheila E. were also superb on Saturday.

Legends 3 - Bassist Marcus Miller and trumpeter Christian Scott are touring extensively all across the United States and overseas. The group is receiving rave reviews for “Tutu Revisited”. Marcus Miller composed and arranged the title track and several other tunes on Tutu for the late great Miles Davis. Tutu is a Grammy Award winning CD to honor Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I found myself getting carried away with the crowd by tapping my feet, shaking my head and swaying my body from side to side throughout their set. They riled up the crowd with the following tunes “Thomas,” “Splash,” “Jon Pierre,” and a beautiful ballad “In a Sentimental Mood” performed on the bass clarinet by Marcus Miller. They concluded their set with “Tutu.”

Sunday, also featured several additional dynamic vocalist. Andrea Palm performed with the Al Williams Jazz Society, and Goapele stepping up to the plate as a replacement for Laura Izibor. The crowd was able to get their groove on with the sounds of The Next Great Drummer; Al Jarreau backed up by the George Duke Trio and concluded with some spicy Latin jazz provided by Poncho Sanchez.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:12 AM

July 28, 2010

Smooth Jazz Festival Augsburg 2010, Germany

I am happy to report that the Smooth Jazz Festival in Europe is being continued and going strong, after Bregenz and Munich, the 3rd festival will the be held in Augsburg in Germany at the "Park Theater at Kurhaus Göggingen", September 24-26. It will be full of intensive, passionate Smooth Jazz and relaxed vibes set in a noble ambiance. What awaits music lovers is a sound experience until now undreamt of in Europe, which does not have too much in common with classical Jazz and will be celebrated by some of the greatest names in the international Smooth Jazz scene.

In the side wings of the Kurhaus, the catering crew will be offering drinks, lounge-food and international tapas. The patio will be opened for the guests to enjoy the warm late-summer nights and harmoniously flowing sounds. Visitors from all parts of Germany and fans from all over Europe meet here for a pleasant, atmospheric weekend in the beautiful ambiance of the Kurhaus in Göggingen.

***********

The line-up is first rate and features a who's who of today's smooth jazz scene:

RICK BRAUN | Trumpet | Friday at 8:00 pm
The composer, arranger and producer with own record label looks back at joint performances with e. g. Sade, Tina Turner, Natalie Cole, Rod Stewart, Tom Petty. He is a two-time winner of the Gavin Report’s “Smooth Jazz Artist of the Year” award and is with 15 solo albums (latest CD “All It Takes”) one of the most successful US Smooth jazz musicians.

DAVID BENOIT | Piano | Friday at 9:30 pm
The versatile pianist, composer and conductor (e. g. Los Angeles Philharmonics, London Symphony Orchestra) is not only a magnificent musician, he is shaping the genre since many years. Looking back on 5 Grammy nominations and 25 solo albums (latest CD “Earthglow”), he will be honored with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the American Smooth Jazz Awards on October 29, 2010.

SHILTS | Saxophone | Saturday at 8:00 pm
Since his earliest childhood “Shilts” is playing the saxophone. 11 years leader of the popular Funk/Soul/Jazz band “Down to the Bone”, now the born Londoner is a successful solo-artist. His latest CD is called “Jigsaw Life”. On the stage and in the studio he has already performed with artists such as David Bowie, Beyonce, U2, Gloria Gaynor, Jamiroquai or Brand New Heavies.

CHUCK LOEB | Guitar | Saturday at 9:30 pm
For four decades he has been internationally successful as a musician, composer and producer. Chuck was in the 80s the musical director of Stan Getz´s band and has performed with renown international artists such as Jim Hall and Pat Metheny as well as with the German drummer Wolfgang Haffner. After 8 solo albums his latest CD “Between 2 Worlds” is in the stores. For a few weeks he became member of the legendary Contemporary jazz quartet “Fourplay” and took over the guitar chair from the great Larry Carlton.

JOYCE COOLING | Vocals & Guitar | Sunday at 11:00 am
Along with Norah Jones and Diana Krall Joyce Cooling belongs to the current top female jazz musicians of the new generation. She stood on stage with stars like Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, Charlie Byrd or Al Jarreau and has won multiple music awards, including the Gibson Best Jazz Guitarist of the Year. Furthermore Cooling was nominated among others for the California Music Award. 8 solo albums have appeared, her latest CD: “Global Cooling”.


The Latin Smooth jazz duo AKUSTICOS - from Costa Rica – John Odio (saxophone) and Walter Blanco (guitar) – will start the concert evening on Saturday at 7:30 pm as opening band ahead of Shilts. In addition, the duo will provide a melodic conclusion of the evening at the aftershow party from 10:30 pm.

Rick Braun, David Benoit, Shilts and Chuck Loeb will be accompanied and supported by the HEAVY MELLOW QUARTET – Stefan Machalitzky, Voker Meitz, Björn Werra and Kai Schönburg, the same group that supported all the major acts at last year's festival in Munich.

On Friday and Saturday doors will open at 7:00 pm. On Sunday for the Smooth Jazz Matinee with Joyce Cooling at 10:30 am.

For further information visit www.smoothjazzfestival.de or call +49 (0)821 – 906 22 22

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:40 PM

July 7, 2010

4th of July Blast with Jazz and Blues

By Ricky Richardson

Los Angeles-Councilmember Bernard C. Parks and Bobbie Parks and the staff of the 8th District welcomed thousands gathered in the Vision Theatre Backlot in Leimert Park Village for the 8th Annual 4th of July Jazz Festival.

Celebrating country, community and freedom with family and friends on Sunday, July 4, 2010 with a nice summer breeze. James Janisse served as Master of Ceremonies.

Rev. Alvin McKinney got the program under way properly by leading the crowd with the “National Anthem” on saxophone.

Phyllis Battle, former vocalist with the 5th Dimensions, belted out some jazz and blues with a lot of soul on “Amen”- acapella, Do I Do,” “Fever,” “What a Wonderful World,” and “Joy Spring” by Clifford Brown.

CJS Quintet delighted the crowd with some be-bop, hard bop. The band were swinging hard on “Hanky Panky” by Dexter Gordon, “Subtle Intensity” composed by keyboardist Art Hillary, “Melody for Thelma” by Blue Mitchell and closed with another composition by Art Hillary “What Now My Love.” You can find several of these tunes on their latest CD Let’s Play.

An added treat to the festival were two dynamic and funny stand up comics to entertain the crowd between acts. Roz Browne and Rose Nelson had the crowd laughing hard until their sides hurt. I look to hear more from these talented comics in the future.

Guitarist Ray Bailey fired up the already enthusiastic crowd by taking us down south for some good down home blues. He demonstrated his virtuosity on “Sugar” by Stanley Turrentine. He cranked up the throttle up a notch on “Why I Sang The Blues” by B.B. King, “Black Night” by Lowell Fulson and closed out his set with “Caldonia” by Luis Jordon.

Mark Felton aka The Panther closed out another successful and thrilling day with a set of up tempo contemporary jazz.

The festivities switched over to Exposition Park for the annual KJLH Radio Music Festival. The day was capped off with fireworks spectacular at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:12 PM

March 15, 2010

Grover Washington Jr. - Grover Live

Grover Live, a New CD Documenting the Late, Great Saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. in a 1997 Concert With His Touring Band To Be Released on G Man Productions in May 18, 2010

The godfather of today's urban contemporary jazz scene, Grover Washington Jr., was one of the most popular and influential saxophonists of the '70s and '80s. And while he may have paved the way for such easy-listening artists as Kenny G, Najee, George Howard and Gerald Albright, none of those popular saxophonists play with the chops and sheer intensity that Grover demonstrated on the bandstand from night to night throughout his career, which spanned three decades. And as the newly discovered Grover Live demonstrates, the man was clearly on top of his game well in to the '90s. Recorded on June 7, 1997 at the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill, New York, Grover Live, produced by Jason Miles (Miles Davis, Luther Vandross, Sting), captures the consummate pro in concert and at the peak of his powers, blowing with unbridled conviction and a sense of risk-taking on a collection of his tunes spanning three decades.

From familiar hits like "Winelight" and "Mr. Magic" to a medley of early numbers like "Inner City Blues," "Black Frost" and "Just the Two of Us" to more recent offerings like "Mystical Force," the hip-hop flavored "Uptown" and a contemporary spin on the old school groover, "Soulful Strut," Grover and his crew - Adam Holzman and Donald Robinson on keyboards and synthesizers, Gerald Veasley on electric bass, Richard Lee on guitar, Pablo Batista on percussion and Steven Wolf on drums - stretch out in dynamic fashion on this exhilarating live CD.

Washington sets the tone for the evening on the engaging opener, "Winelight," which showcases his wonderfully relaxed style and big, beautiful tone on the tenor sax. This tune, and several others on Grover Live, instantly reveals Washington to be, as Gil Evans once said of Miles Davis, "a great singer of songs." And while his mellow approach to melodic material established a school of playing that ultimately led to the smooth jazz movement, Grover can be heard wailing in pure spontaneous and aggressive fashion on a stirring cadenza, full of upper register squealing and virtuosic scalar runs that elicit wild shouts from the Peekskill crowd.

"Take Another Five" from the 1992 release Next Exit is a funkified take on Paul Desmond's "Take Five" the jazz anthem debuted by the Dave Brubeck Quartet on 1959's Time Out and showcases the individual band members stretching out with abandon. Again, Grover's delivery is relaxed and imbued with soul before he unleashes his mighty chops at the 3:15 mark. "Soulful Strut," the title track of Washington's current Columbia CD at the time of this concert, is a contemporary remake of the instrumental hit by Young Holt Unlimited from 1969. The atmospheric "Mystical Force," co-penned by Grover and his musical director Donald Robinson, is a smooth jazz offering with a funky edge while the slamming "Uptown," which has Grover switching nimbly from soprano to tenor sax, features sampled rappers, churning conga from Batista and some warm, Wes Montgomery-inspired octaves work from Lee. "Sassy Stew" is a slow grooving lyrical number from 1984's Inside Moves that gradually builds to a passionate crescendo that Washington wails over with signature abandon.

The Peekskill audience is next taken on a nostalgic trip by Grover in a well-crafted medley that travels from old school numbers like "Black Frost" (from 1974's Mister Magic) and an instrumental version of Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues" (title track of Washington's 1971 debut on Kudu) to the romantic "Strawberry Moon" (title track from his 1987 album on Columbia) and the Afro-Cuban flavored "Inside Moves" (title track of his 1984 album on Elektra). The funky "Jamaica" (from 1989's Time Out of Mind) is a showcase for Washington's robust baritone sax playing while the beautiful ballad "East River Drive" (A Grover original from 1980's Come Morning) has him playing soulfully on soprano sax. The extensive medley concludes with the chart-topper "Just the Two of Us" (sans Bill Withers on vocals), and the upbeat "Sausalito," which features a heated timbales solo by Batista over a percolating son montuno section. They close out the set with the funky "Let it Flow" (a paean to basketball superstar Julius "Dr. J" Erving which appeared his 1980 album Winelight) that showcases Veasley on a monstrous electric bass solo. And they encore with Grover's signature tune, "Mr. Magic," a '70s staple that has guitarist Lee wailing in Hendrix-like fashion and also features Washington erupting with visceral power on tenor sax.

Washington's only other concert recording was Live at the Bijou, which documented a 1977 performance at a Philadelphia showcase venue, the Bijou Cafe. Twenty years later, he brought the same kind of intensity, improvisational daring and big-hearted soulfulness to the stage on the exciting Grover Live.

Born on December 12, 1943 in Buffalo, New York, Grover Washington was the son of a tenor sax-playing father who introduced him to the instrument when he was 10. While attending high school, he took evening classes at the Wurlitzer School of Music and for two years played baritone sax with the All City High School band. By age 14, he was sitting in at a local Buffalo nightspot called the Pine Grill. Two years later, he joined the quartet called the Four Clefs and with the full approval of his parents, left Buffalo to go on the road with the band.

In 1965, Washington was drafted into the Army. He was stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey in the 19th Army Band where he met drummer Billy Cobham. Together they spent their free time moonlighting in Philadelphia and New York jazz clubs. After being discharged from the service in 1967, Grover settled in Philadelphia with his new wife Christine and took a day job with a local record wholesaler while continuing to play in the clubs at night. One important gig he landed was with organist Charles Earland, who showcased the young tenor player on his 1970 Prestige album, Living Black. Washington appeared as a sideman that year on several more sessions, including Johnny Hammond Smith's Breakout on CTI. That album quickly became a bestseller, establishing the saxophonist's reputation within musician circles as a major new voice on the instrument. It also caught the attention of CTI producer Creed Taylor, who offered Grover a contract to record as a group leader on the CTI subsidiary label Kudu. His debut, Inner City Blues, garnered much critical acclaim in 1971, though at the time of its release, he was still working in the record wholesaler's warehouse. As he recalled, "I was in the unique position of unloading records with my own name on them, but I didn't mind. I was 28 and feeling on top of the world."

After the release of 1974's Mister Magic, a churning soul-jazz offering with swaggering funk overtones, Grover was well on his way to international stardom. The title track garnered huge radio play that summer of '75 and ultimately became Washington's theme song throughout the rest of his career.

Grover earned his first Grammy Award for Winelight (1980), an album that eventually attained double platinum status on the strength of the popular single "Just The Two of Us" featuring singer Bill Withers. Washington subsequently signed with CBS Records in 1987 and debuted with Strawberry Moon, his 19th album as a leader. His second Columbia album, Then and Now (1988), was a return to straight ahead jazz featuring an all-star cast including pianists Tommy Flanagan and Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter and drummers Grady Tate and Marvin "Smitty" Smith. For his follow-up with the label, he did an about-face in 1992 by releasing the hip-hop/jazz project Next Exit, asserting his interest in keeping a finger on the pulse of the streets. He followed that release with the jazz outing, All My Tomorrows in 1994. After (1997), a soothing collection of Christmas-related songs, he released Breath of Heaven: A Holiday Collection and Prime Cuts, a greatest hits compilation of his Columbia years with two new cuts.

Grover died of a sudden heart attack at age 56 on December 17, 1999 while taping an appearance on CBS TV's "The Saturday Early Show." The posthumous Aria, an album of classic opera pieces recorded in May of 1999 with bassist Ron Carter, pianist Billy Childs and the Orchestra of St. Luke's, was issued the following year.

At the time of this recording, Grover was promoting his release, Soulful Strut (1996).

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:53 PM

March 2, 2010

Seabreeze Jazz Festival 2010

Seabreeze Jazz Festival to Add “Sizzle” To the Gulf Coast With A Stellar Weekend of Smooth Jazz Set For April 15-18th!

Jazz-lovers and sun-seekers across the nation are getting ready to “shake off those winter blues” --- with a remedy of white sands, beautiful water, and a dose of the best in smooth contemporary jazz. The coastal beach setting of Panama City Beach will “come alive” for the 2010 ResortQuest Seabreeze Jazz Festival, April 15th-18th at the Pier Park Amphitheater. Celebrating its 12th year on Florida’s Northwest Gulf Coast, the event will provide an oasis for music lovers and a beach getaway for the entire family.

Known as the ULTIMATE weekend in smooth – The ResortQuest Seabreeze Jazz Festival has become synonymous with “fun in the sun” and top-notched national contemporary jazz entertainment, all inside the backdrop of beautiful white sand beaches, emerald green waters, with an abundance of activities for just about every taste in beautiful Panama City Beach, Florida.

Named as one of the "Top 10 Jazz Festivals in the USA" by Jazziz Magazine, The Seabreeze Jazz Festival marks its second year moving east from Destin to the vibrant new location of Pier Park in Panama City Beach. The combination of beautiful beaches, great shopping and dining at adjacent Pier Park, easy-access to an abundant offering of hotels and condos, coupled with a “killer list” of the top names in contemporary jazz—make Panama City Beach the place to be! And this year… the “vibe” is hot! Almost as hot as the music is “cool”!

Artists scheduled to perform each year include the “Who’s Who” of contemporary jazz, and this year is no exception. The 2010 event will be hosted by contemporary jazz guitarist Nick Colionne. Set to perform throughout the weekend include smooth jazz “supergroup” Fourplay and exciting R&B funk/jazz band Tower of Power -- sure to get the audience up on their feet! Other artists performing include The Sax Pack featuring Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters, and Steve Cole…. Rick Braun and Richard Elliot also known as “R n R”, Nick Colionne, Euge Groove, Marc Antoine, Brian Simpson, Alex Bugnon, Shilts, Jackiem Joyner, Oli Silk, Jessy J, Steve Oliver, Drew Davidsen, Ken Ford, Gerald Veasley, Joey Sommervile, Matt Marshak, BK Jackson, RomanStreet, and Jones and Company. On Friday evening, an All-Star Jam Show will include a tribute to the late Wayman Tisdale, famed jazz bass player and basketball player who performed at the event last year.

The weekend of smooth jazz will kick off on Thursday, April 15th at 7pm with the annual Smooth Jazz Dinner Cruise sponsored by ResortQuest. Sailing from the beautiful Baytowne Wharf Marina at Sandestin Resort, the entertainment yacht “Solaris” will cruise the scenic Choctawhatchee Bay as attendees enjoy a full seated dinner, festive fun, and smooth jazz. This magical evening concludes of with an intimate live smooth jazz performance on the Sky Deck by keyboardist Brian Simpson and French flamenco guitarist Marc Antoine. All attendees on the cruise will then attend a personal Meet and Greet with both artists for a “unique” up-close experience. Tickets for the Smooth Jazz Dinner Cruise hosted are limited at $135 each.

On Friday, April 16th the action turns to the greens of the Colony Golf Club in Panama City Beach as the Seabreeze Jazz Festival Golf Tournament swings out as this year’s new event! Set among the semi-private, 18 hole par 72 Championship Course just minutes from Pier Park, the tournament action is open to all with a 8am Shotgun Start. The course has been described in national golf publications as among one of Florida’s most enjoyable yet challenging tracks. Attendees will enjoy a day of golf, a delicious lunch, presentation of prizes, and a live performance from saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa as an added treat. Get a “JAZZY” start to the jazz festival weekend with exhilarating morning of golf and an intimate jazz performance. Tickets are $110 per person and space is limited. For golf tournament registration or information, call Colony Club at 1-850-234-1800.

Meet the STARS OF SMOOTH JAZZ and get a FREE sneak peek of the festival show at Borders Books at Pier Park Friday at 3pm. Reminiscent of a Hollywood CD Release Party and Meet and Greet, this is an excellent opportunity to get up close and personal with the artists performing throughout the weekend. Mingle with the jazz artists, purchase their latest cds, and of course get autographs galore! Each artist will perform a short preview of their material for the audience, and admission is free. Bring your camera. Space is limited so get there early.

The excitement shifts to the stage at Pier Park on Friday April 16th beginning at 6pm … with the official kickoff of the event. The crowd will first be treated to jazzy acoustic guitar fusion from Mobile, Alabama based RomanStreet, followed by the #1 Contemporary Jazz ranked Sax Pack, featuring sax trio Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters, and Steve Cole. The evening will conclude with the Seabreeze Jazz Festival All-Star Jam Show hosted by smooth jazz guitarist Nick Colionne. Loved by fans as both a unique element of the jazz festival, the All-Star Jam will feature a montage of national talent as special smooth jazz guests will join on the stage for a "once-in-a-lifetime jazz jam like no other”. First introduced in 2008, the All Star Jam creates the fun and FUNK of impromptu jazz performances that many audiences rarely see is concert-style performances. Jazz artists get to “let their hair down” and “rip loose” with the uptempo riffs, funky bass lines, and the crowd-energizing beat of beats! As a special edition to 2010, the All Star Jam Show will include a special tribute to the late Wayman Tisdale. Renowned jazz bass player and pro-basketball player, Wayman performed to a standing ovation crowd at the 2009 Seabreeze Jazz Festival and was one of his last live performances before his timeless passing early summer of 2009 of cancer. His music and spirit will be celebrated on stage as we remember “the man with the big smile”.

Friday evening concludes at 11pm with a cool “Chill Out” After-Party at Reggae J’s at Pier Park. British smooth jazz keyboardist Oli Silk, London-based saxman Shilts, and guitarist Matt Marshak will keep the cool grooves and jazzy vibes going into the late night hours at this intimate “Jazz Club” setting, complete with appetizers and a cash bar.

The ResortQuest Seabreeze Jazz Festival will continue all day Saturday and Sunday April 17th-18th with performances from 10am to 10pm on Saturday and 10am-9pm on Sunday. The gates open each day at 9am.

How does one spell “funky”? The answer is clear to see in Saturday’s impressive lineup of top talent with a few surprises. Heads will turn with 18 year old sax sensation from Florida State University BK Jackson takes the stage and electrifies the audience. #1 selling guitarist Drew Davidsen, a huge hit at the Catalina Jazz Festival in California follows as he makes his Seabreeze Jazz Festival debut. And who says “jazz” is only limited to the sax, guitar, or keyboards? Atlanta electric jazz violinist Ken Ford will prove that notion wrong with his upbeat performance of funky smooth jazz and R&B grooves as another exciting newcomer for 2010. The afternoon continues with smooth jazz hitmakers Rick Braun and Richard Elliot together for some “R n R” – short for Rick and Richard but long for high energy, jaw-dropping Top 5 charting contemporary jazz hits that span the past three decades.

Festival host guitarist Nick Colionne performs as well – known in the music business as “The Windy Cat” for his home base of Chicago and his jazzy guitar grooves. Nick Colionne too has enjoyed big success on smooth jazz radio as one of the top-selling jazz guitarists of 2008 and 2009. On top of being a talented artist, he’s actually funny on stage as well.

As Saturday’s sun sets on the Pier Park Amphitheater, the mood will IGNITE as legendary funk, jazz, soul, and R&B band Tower of Power performs for the first time on the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast. Since 1968, Tower of Power has delivered their unique brand of music to their fans, appearing before sold out crowds as they tour the world each year. Tower of Power’s rhythm section lays “down a groove” like no other band. The band’s horn-driven sound is unique and when combined with the outstanding lead vocalist, the final result is one of the most dynamic shows to ever hit the stage. Tower of Power is known to many … as THE BAND. With high energy horns, funky rhythms, and soulful vocals – the Seabreeze Jazz Festival will feel “the power” of The Tower.

The action moves from the stage at Pier Park to the “club scene” just steps away at Pier Park at 10:30pm as Saturday evening concludes with a cool “Smooth Jazz” After-Party at Reggae J’s at Pier Park. The Sax Pack featuring Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters, and Steve Cole perform with special guests in a swanky yet smooth upbeat “Jazz Club” party scene. The smooth jazz will blend with the warm seabreeze off of the Gulf across Panama City Beach into the early morning hours.

On Sunday, April 18th the music continues with a unique blend of style, tempo, and talent. Destin based jazz and vocal group Jones and Company will begin the day with their own hits and the best of Motown, pop, and R & B. The “Seabreeze Groove Project” will again debut a “new sound” on stage – as each year the band’s configuration changes to reflect a fresh new take on groove riffs, moving bass lines, and jazz licks. This year’s “Groove Project” includes swiss-born keyboardist Alex Bugnon, bassist Gerald Veasley, former Down To the Bone saxman Shilts, and jazz guitarist Matt Marshak. Guitarist Steve Oliver brings his unique style of rhythmic and breezy jazz to the stage…and his vocal scats and unbelievable guitar talent will WOW the most demanding music fan. New and upcoming talent is always part of the jazz festival formula, and Jackiem Joyner, Jessy J, and Oli Silk will show the audience why they are the hottest new artists in the contemporary jazz format today. Saxophonist Euge Groove will take to the stage performing his montage of uptempo hits.

The grand finale of the weekend will be the first-time appearance of Fourplay …set to headline the festival Sunday night at 7pm. Known as a smooth jazz “supergroup”, Fourplay consists of Bob James, Nathan East, Harvey Mason, and their newest member, multi-faceted virtuoso guitarist Chuck Loeb. The Seabreeze Jazz Festival will be the first live performance to include Chuck Loeb to the world. For nearly two decades, the contemporary jazz quartet has enjoyed commercial success by grafting elements of R & B, pop, and a variety of other sounds to their unwavering jazz foundations. In the course of ten recordings over the last 20 years, Fourplay was named “Top 20 Smooth Jazz Artists of the Decade” by Billboard Magazine.

The Seabreeze Jazz Festival itself has become a phenomenon. Beginning in 1999 at Seaside with just a handful of participants, the event now has grown to attract over 5000 jazz attendees per day from all over the United States, Canada, Europe, and South America. Many come just for the music, while others enjoy the beautiful beaches, upscale shopping, and fine dining the local area has to offer. The Seabreeze Jazz Festival has been recognized as one of the top jazz festivals in the country, as well as "Best Event" and "Best Place To Be Seen" by the readers of Emerald Coast Magazine.

Tickets are on sale online and by phone. A Weekend Pass is $130 per person and includes all performances at the Pier Park Amphitheater Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Individual single-day tickets are on sale at $80 each. Tickets for the Smooth Jazz Dinner Cruise are separate at $135 each including dinner and show. After-Party Tickets are $55 each.

For the ultimate jazz festival experience, VIP Corporate Tables for 10 are available for $5000 each for the weekend including all VIP catering and benefits. VIP Corporate Tables provide the best concert experience, located directly in front of the stage so attendees can take in the smooth jazz excitement. VIP Corporate Tables includes separate VIP Parking and entrance, early festival entry, full catering including breakfast, lunch, and snack for the weekend …and beverages (beer, wine, and soft drinks). VIP Ticket holders also get to Meet and Greet with the artists inside the VIP Tent after each performance.

Order tickets online at www.seabreezejazzfestival.net or by phone at 800-595-4849.

Purchase tickets in person at Borders Books and Music at Pier Park, Playground Music Center in Ft. Walton Beach, and Kitchenique in Destin at City Market next to Destiny.

Coolers are welcome inside the venue but no alcohol please. Cash bar and food vendors available at the event. General Admission ticketholders bring a lawn chair or blanket. Children 12 and under are admitted to the Friday-Sunday festival at no charge with paying adult. Chair rentals will be available at the entrance gate and can be pre-ordered online or by phone. Parking available onsite at Pier Park.

For more information, call 850-267-3279 or go online to seabreezejazzfestival.net. Presented by WSBZ 106.3 -- the Seabreeze.

Sponsors include ResortQuest, The Panama City Beach Visitors and Convention Bureau, Pier Park/Simon, Smooth Jazz dot Com, Creative Gems of Panama City, Borders Books and Music, The Talking Phone Book, and Smooth Lounge dot com.


About WSBZ-FM 106.3 -- The Emerald Coast’s exclusive smooth jazz radio station, WSBZ celebrates its 15th year on the air broadcasting from Destin with the area’s most unique format. As presenting host and founder of the Seabreeze Jazz Festival, WSBZ Radio features celebrity hosts including Kenny G, Ramsey Lewis, and Dave Koz in their weekly program schedule. WSBZ was nominated twice as 2006 and 2007 Smooth Jazz Radio Station of the Year by Radio and Records/Billboard Magazine. WSBZ 106.3-the Seabreeze also is streaming live on the internet at www.wsbz.com and www.seabreezejazzfestival.com. Owned and operated by Carter Broadcasting, Incorporated, WSBZ Radio is family-owned by Mark and Renee’ Carter of Santa Rosa Beach, Fl.

Panama City Beach boasts 27 miles of sugar-white sand beaches bordering the clear, emerald-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrews Bay. The Northwest Florida community is home to St. Andrew’s State Park, a Top Two beach on the 2008 TripAdvisor list of America's best beaches. Panama City Beach also enjoys recognition as a premier beach destination by Conde Nast Traveler, The Travel Channel, USA Today, Southern Living, Dr. Beach and the Clean Beaches Council. Family attractions, championship golf courses, sporting events, award-winning dining, predictably sunny weather and a vast number of recreational activities draw visitors to this seaside community. For more information, call 1-800-PCBEACH (850-233-6503) or check out the official Web site of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, http://www.visitpanamacitybeach.com

Located in the heart of town across from the City Pier, the new Pier Park spans roughly 1 million square feet, making it Northwest Florida's largest shopping/dining/ entertainment venue. This open-air complex houses restaurants and stores comprising a colorful mix of popular national chains and favorite local boutiques and eateries. The Pier Park lineup includes: Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, Dillard's, Borders, JCPenney, Ron Jon Surf Shop, Candymaker Candy Stores, Massage Envy, Panera Bread, The Back Porch restaurant, Hofbrau Beer Garden, Ann Taylor Loft, Chico's, ULTA Beauty and more. Plus, the Grand 16 Theatre -- a 16-screen, 3,000-seat movie theater complex – shows the latest blockbusters.

You can now follow the destination on Twitter.com, at PCBeach, to receive up-to-the-minute news and details on special offers and deals.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:23 PM

February 20, 2010

Chris Botti in Boston – 2009 Grammy Nominations, PBS Special & Tour

Text by Val Vaccaro

In December 2009, Chris Botti In Boston (Columbia Records/Sony Music) received three Grammy nominations for: 1) Best Pop Instrumental Album for the CD, 2) Best Long Form Music Video (Jim Gable - video director; Bobby Colomby - video producer, and 3) Best Instrumental Arrangement for the song “Emmanuel” (arranged by Jeremy Lubbock; performed by trumpeter Chris Botti and violinist Lucia Micarelli). Although these nominations did not win in their respective categories on January 31, 2010 during the Grammy Awards, the honor of being nominated was added to Chris Botti’s track record which includes two previous Grammy Awards and a prior Grammy nomination. (Note: In 1995, Botti produced the Brecker BrothersOut of the Loop album, which won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Performance. In 2006, Chris Botti’s collaboration with Sting on the song “What Are You Doing for the Rest of Your Life” (from Botti’s CD To Love Again – The Duets) won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) (arranged by Billy Childs, Gil Goldstein and Heitor Pereira). In addition, Botti’s 2007 CD Italia was nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album.)

The shows for the current Chris Botti In Boston DVD were originally videotaped on September 18th – 19th, 2008 in high definition at Symphony Hall, a beautiful venue in Boston. The DVD and CD of Chris Botti in Boston feature Chris Botti with special guests performing delightful, entertaining renditions of songs that are often pleasantly unexpected including genres from jazz, classical and pop music. The performers included: Sting, John Mayer, Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), Josh Groban, Katherine McPhee, Lucia Micarelli, Yo Yo Ma, Sy Smith, Dominic Miller, and Botti’s top-notch band: pianist Billy Childs, drummer Billy Kilson, guitarist Mark Whitfield, and bassist Robert Hurst, supported by the Boston Pops Orchestra conducted by Keith Lockhart.

On the DVD, Botti is a charming host and performer, and it is a pleasure to watch the guest artists and band members’ spirited rapport with him and with each other. Botti said he’s been around a long time, paid his dues, and that it’s a “very big thrill” to have all of these big stars guest on his DVDs and CDs. According to Botti, “the artists that performed in Boston are my friends. They’re not just people that I called up because they’re big stars. I’ve known them socially and I think that shows on the DVD and how everyone’s just kind of loose and we’re all having fun.”

Botti also said: "The real fun stuff is taking these artists out of the arena that they're normally heard in. It will be like, oh my goodness, I can't believe I just heard Steven Tyler or Yo-Yo Ma do that." (quote from the Associate Press)

On the back cover of the Blu-ray DVD of Chris Botti In Boston, Botti wrote: “To the brilliant artists that participated in these shows: Thank you for the gift of your friendship and for taking the time to come to Boston and be such an important part of the most magical and memorable nights of my life.”

The DVD of Chris Botti in Boston truly is a special compilation filled with many shining moments which add up to a big achievement in Botti’s career. The CD, a CD/DVD package, and a Blu-ray edition of Chris Botti in Boston were released in March 2009, to coincide with the exclusive televised premiere during the March Pledge Drive for PBS. (PBS stands for Public Broadcasting Service – a network of 356 television station affiliates in the U.S. reaching 65 million viewers). Botti recorded the shows in Boston as gratitude to Boston’s local PBS station WGBH, which co-sponsored the concert. WGBH was the first PBS station to take a chance on broadcasting his first PBS special concert which led to other PBS television station affiliates to air the show. His first successful PBS special was Chris Botti Live With Orchestra and Special Guests (which was released as a CD and DVD in 2006)

Both the CD and DVD Chris Botti In Boston include the following songs: "Ave Maria," "When I Fall In Love," "Seven Days," "Emmanuel," "I’ve Got You Under My Skin," "Cinema Paradiso," "Broken Vow," "Flamenco Sketches," "Glad To Be Unhappy," "Hallelujah," "Smile," "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You," and "Time To Say Goodbye." The full-concert DVD and Blu-ray configurations of Chris Botti In Boston also include the bonus performances of "Caruso," "The Look of Love," "Cryin’," "Indian Summer," and "Shape of My Heart."

The DVD also includes an exclusive behind-the-scenes documentary chronicling the making-of-the-concert, along with a bonus performance of “Fragile” featuring Sting, Yo Yo Ma, and Dominic Miller. (The Blu-ray DVD version of Chris Botti in Boston has Dolby TrueHD audio providing master quality, high-resolution, 7.1 surround sound.) In the documentary footage, Bobby Colomby (Botti’s manager and producer) said that “Chris is so serious about the music.” Colomby noted that Botti was involved in every aspect of the production – including selection and arrangements for all eighteen songs. Also behind the scenes, Botti reflected on the huge task, saying that it was crazy that they rehearsed all eighteen songs (with the Boston Pops Orchestra, Botti’s band, and all of the guest stars) in ONE day! Botti joked “I feel like I’m psychotic” in the documentary because of the compressed rehearsal time and large selection of material, but it all worked out just great. In the documentary, Sting also said that Botti’s success as a soloist “is a testament to his virtuosity and brilliance.”


Highlights from the DVD Chris Botti in Boston

Throughout the show, Botti's warm and graceful tones were beautiful, his high notes were exuberant, cool and crisp, and his improvisations (including trills and riffs) were tasteful and entertaining. Botti was a charming and humble host – who kept saying in his introduction for each of the artists how “honored” he was to have them there. In return, Botti received lots of hugs from the special guests, who all looked genuinely thrilled to be there for this special event. Regardless of the musical genre, it seemed like every song was showered with a standing ovation from the highly appreciative crowd. The combination of Botti with his guest stars, along with band and the Boston Pops Orchestra all provided a phenomenal entertainment experience.

The band members all had a chance to show off their chops with a number of solos throughout the show. Pianist Billy Childs, an eight-time Grammy winner, who also received a 2009 Guggenheim award, did a great job. (Childs also performed on and work on some of the arrangements for Botti’s recordings of jazz standards on previous CDs). Guitarist Mark Whitfield showed off his diverse range of sounds on his red archtop guitar, as well as some sort of Stratocaster (with an unusual neck partial animal design). Whitfield was featured on a number of tunes with Botti, and, as usual, added his brand of humor and antics to the entertainment mix. Billy Kilson was his typical incredible self – his amazing master-class fast and furious ‘acrobatics’ and unique style and grace on ballads should earn him an Olympic title for one of best and most tasteful drummers in the world. (In their live show which I saw in May at the Bergen Performing Arts Center, Botti joked that he has put Billy Kilson in the “Witness Protection Program” so that Sting will not steal him away for his band.) The song list was set up well, wisely alternating between ballads and more upbeat musical selections, to emotionally balance things out.

On the Chris Botti in Boston DVD, the first song of the show – the beautiful, spiritually moving instrumental version of the Schubert composition “Ave Maria” features Botti’s perfectly focused, beautiful, meditative tone - quiet, introspective and serene, lushly backed by the string section of the Boston Pops Orchestra. With Botti’s long tones and the spotlight shining on him, it was vision of pureness of music and spirit. The breathy, melancholy, pristine sounds of Botti’s trumpet were also found on the musical selection “Caruso” (originally sung by the late opera star Luciano Pavarotti). The quiet beauty of Botti’s phrasing on “Caruso” is also reminiscent of his breathtaking interpretation of “My Funny Valentine” (recorded on his 2003 CD A Thousand Kisses Deep.)

The sentimental jazz standard “When I Fall in Love” starts out with a warm, expansive introduction by Whitfield, and Botti works his way expertly through an enjoyable, exciting, and unexpectedly complex arrangement of mixed tempos, dynamics and “cool jazz” improvisations infused with influences of traditional, contemporary jazz, R&B/pop, and even rock. The song swayed from swinging in the middle, to ending as sweetly as it began with Botti’s trumpet resolving back to a slow, sentimental and sweet take on the song’s melody.

There was also the melancholy magic of Botti’s musical muse – Miles Davis with “Flamenco Sketches” (which Botti described to the audience as a song with five chords and no written melody so that each band member could improvise his own). The DVD went from color to black and white to create a “1950’s” film vibe, with Botti playing his trumpet with the mute.

Botti’s round, warm, ethereal tone was also found on a poignant version of the sacred song “Hallelujah” (composed by Leonard Cohen), while guitarist Whitfield played a simple lullaby-like, acoustic-sounding riff throughout the tune. Botti told some stories related to “Hallelujah.” The song was the love theme to the Shrek movie, and it was covered by both U2 (they devoted a tour to it) and Peter Gabriel. Botti said he was inspired by the powerful version recorded by Jeff Buckley, the late singer (whose life was cut short by an accident). Buckley happened to be recording that song for his1995 CD Grace in the same studio (in upstate New York) as Botti when he was working on his first solo release, so for Botti, in a way, he dedicates “Hallelujah” in part as a moving tribute to Buckley, and to the memory of the artist and his maiden voyage.

After the serious nature of “Hallelujah,” there was the joyful DVD highlight of Katherine McPhee (from American Idol’s Season Five) singing a crowd-pleasing rendition of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” McPhee looked stunning in her black cocktail dress and her shiny brown locks (Botti mouthed the word “Wow” under his breath). With her lovely phrasing, McPhee had a grand time in a playful, flirtatious way to both Botti and Whitfield. Botti joked to Whitfield to “stay in his corner – that she’s my guest.” (It may have all been staged in advance, but the audience had a lot of fun with the scene.) The Frank Sinatra-style arrangement of Cole Porter’s tune was great with the band and Boston Pops Orchestra there to back up McPhee’s singing with Botti’s trumpet playing (he did the swinging bridge with the loud, bluesy, expressive improvisation). Whitfield also did a nice guitar solo directed at McPhee.

Botti gave an honored introduction to world-renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma calling him an “Ambassador for what’s good in the world of music education. I’m proud to share the stage with the one and only Yo Yo Ma.” For the Italian film composer's Ennio Morricone's romantic “Cinema Paradiso,” Botti played round, tender tones with pensive focus on his trumpet (with the mute - channeling his inner Miles Davis). Yo-Yo Ma who played a beautiful, truly inspiring, and masterful duet with Botti, while the audience heard whispers of the sounds of soft brushes on Kilson’s drums in the background. The captivating, moving duet with Botti and Yo Yo Ma had a dramatic tear-jerker type of ending back by strings from the Boston Pops Orchestra, with Botti concluding on a sweet note. After the standing ovation (there were many other ovations for other songs too), Botti asked “Where’s that saké? I need a drink!” Lo and behold, someone brought him that sake, Botti held up the cup and said “Salud” to the audience and then took a sip.

After the emotional turmoil of “Cinema Paradiso,” it was great to break the tension with a happy tune. Next up was another high point of the show with vocalist Sy Smith (a back-up singer from American Idol and cousin of guitarist Mark Whitfield). Sy Smith’s big smile, and confidently glowing demeanor (Botti described her as “so radiant – such a vibe”), and her smooth-as-the silk-of-her-dress voice was wonderful. Smith did a wonderfully soulful version of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David pop song “The Look of Love.” (Botti originally recorded two version of this song previously on his 2003 CD A Thousand Kisses Deep and on a previous DVD from his first live show for PBS.). There was excellent support by Billy Childs on piano, Mark Whitfield on guitar, and Bob Hurst on electric bass. The song was given a dynamic, exciting ending with the fast and emphatic drums of Billy Kilson, while Smith scatted in unison with Botti’s high, funky notes. Big cheers and a standing ovation followed in the DVD. (The same could be said in the live shows – Sy Smith has been a special guest on tour with Chris Botti and his band – including appearances during Botti’s reign at the Blue Note jazz club in New York City in December 2009-through the first weekend in January 2010).)

After this pop music delight, the show turned to perhaps its most serious moment – one that was a major highlight of the show. There is incredible emotional intensity in the exquisite song interpretation of “Emmanuel.” The poignant interpretation is a penultimate, profound duet (like a confession of love from a dramatic scene in an Italian or French film). Chris Botti’s trumpet sounds were soaring beautifully and classical violinist Lucia Micarelli’s gorgeous and magnificent solos were mesmerizing. (Micarelli wore a sparkling black gown to complement her sweet and innocent face and spectacular solos - Botti refers to her as a “rock star”). The Boston Pops Orchestra and the band did a wonderful job with the lush arrangement for this musical piece (as mentioned earlier, Jeremy Lubbock ‘s arrangement was nominated for a Grammy). Micarelli’s facial expressions matched her musical intensity and Botti’s brilliant breadth of sounds were a dynamic mixture which go directly to the core of one’s being and totally blew away the audience. Micarelli has worked with Josh Groban and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Violinist Micarelli has also been a special guest on some of the shows during Botti’s 2009 tour (including the show I saw in May at the Bergen Performing Arts Center).

When an almost unrecognizable John Mayer walked onto the stage dressed in a dark suit (more formal than his usual rock or blues attire) with a short haircut (more mature-looking than usual), it was an audience surprise. Botti said “I’m so very, very privileged to have him here.” The song started off with a perfect introduction with Botti on trumpet quoting the song “In the Wee Small Hours” and then Mayer and Botti did a great rendition of “Glad to Be Unhappy.” The song is in a similar vein to “One for My Baby” (Botti recorded the latter tune on his 2004 CD When I Fall in Love.) John Mayer was an unexpectedly superb smooth crooner in his phrasing and tone on the saloon song (with a slight nasality – reminiscent of Sinatra as well as the current keeper of Sinatra’s flame, Michael Bublé). Botti did a fantastic solo and ending -bright and cool - with bluesy high notes, staccato notes, and swinging riffs which were a great contrast to Mayer’s smooth styling. There was also beautiful support on piano from Billy Childs. Amazingly, John Mayer said he had never sang that type of tune before, so it was a new and impressive direction for him. Botti told the story that he had met Mayer about six months before the Boston show. Botti had talked with Mayer about Frank Sinatra’s classic album In the Wee Small Hours. Mayer said afterwards, he couldn’t get Sinatra’s music out of his head. Glad to be happy we got to hear Mayer do the song. In the “Behind the Scenes” documentary on the Chris Botti in Boston DVD, John Mayer said that the first thing he noticed about Chris Botti when he heard him play is his tone. I second that – it was Botti’s amazing tone that most impressed me when I first saw him perform at the 1998 Berks Jazz Fest.

Steven Tyler (from the rock group Aerosmith), a native of Boston, sang a wistful, poignant version of the ballad “Smile” from the heart with powerful vibrato in a velvety voice. The song was quietly and brilliantly supported by Botti’s tender trumpet tones, Childs on piano, Kilson on brushes, and the strings from the Boston Pops Orchestra. Part of what made it special was that Tyler sang the song to his elderly father who was seated in the front row of Boston’s Symphony Hall, saying enthusiastically to the crowd with a smile “that’s my Daddy!” At the end of the song “Smile,” Tyler’s father Vic struggled to get out of his seat, but he managed to stand, and then he smiled and clapped along with audience’s standing ovation. Botti then cleverly joked “they don’t prepare you for that in jazz camp.” Tyler had recorded the sentimental song for Botti’s 2005 CD To Love Again. Long ago, the song “Smile” was co-composed by Charlie Chaplin for the movie Modern Times, but is still imprinted in my childhood memory as the theme for the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon on TV (a celebrity-filled show) back in the 1960s and 1970s.

The show’s finale on the DVD is “Indian Summer” which was originally recorded with a steady medium tempo for Botti’s 2003 CD A Thousand Kisses Deep, and was a smooth jazz radio hit. The new version of “Indian Summer” played at the 2009 Boston show (and at the live shows on the 2009 tour) has a faster tempo and would be great for a thrilling car chase scene in a James Bond type of movie. The song’s remake has a big, expansive arrangement which drove Botti, Botti’s band and the Boston Pops Orchestra to “rock out.” With Botti on melody, everyone playing at a frantic pace, the song featured a fast and impressive intro and drum solo from Kilson. “Indian Summer” ended after a thrilling jam with Botti’s high note trills, Kilson’s beating on the drums and Whitfield’s adept guitar riffs, with Kilson getting the last word (e.g. beat).

After “Indian Summer,” Chris Botti said “Thanks Boston for making tonight so special. Please give all of these great musicians a round of applause.” Then Botti, Botti’s band, conductor Keith Lockhart and all of the guest artists took a bow together. Botti then asked the audience (still in standing ovation mode) if they would like to hear one more.

The encore for the show on the DVD Chris Botti in Boston includes three songs.

There are two Sting songs with special guest, Dominic Miller on acoustic guitar and background vocals, and Russ Irwin on background vocals. On the haunting ballad “Shape of My Heart” pop music mega star Sting and classical crossover sensation Josh Groban traded moving lead vocals, with Botti playing trumpet with the mute. “Shape of My Heart” which Botti described in the show as “one of the most elegant pop songs” was composed by Sting (Gordon Sumner) and Dominic Miller, appears on a number of Sting’s CDs and was the theme to the movie The Professional -also known as Léon: The Professional.

Sting and Botti shined on the upbeat Sting pop-rock song “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You,” with both of them smiling (probably feeling like old times from the years when Botti was on tour with Sting - who Botti says is “like a brother to me.” They got the audience (which included Sting’s wife Trudie Styler) up on their feet clapping enthusiastically to the song, which ended with Botti getting into a funky groove.

The last (eighteenth) musical selection of the show on the DVD is the classical song “Time to Say Goodbye” (Con Te Partiro) (which also appears on Botti’s 2004 CD When I Fall in Love. Trumpeter Chris Botti’s beautiful, pure tones soared perfectly above the lush Boston Pops Orchestra strings, woodwinds, and horn sections for a spiritually-moving, melancholy version of “Time to Say Goodbye”. On the last note of the song, Botti’s index finger off the key of the trumpet fittingly pointed upward (as if to the heavens). The song - composed by Quantantotto and Sartori - has been also dramatically sung by pop/opera phenomenon Andrea Bocelli (as part of a duet with Sarah Brightman on Bocelli’s PBS television special and DVD Vivere: Andrea Bocelli Live in Tuscany - Botti also appeared as a guest on that DVD playing “Italia” –from his 2007 CD of the same name.)

After Botti finished the song “Time to Say Goodbye,” knowing it was the end of the show and the end of a great musical journey, his face filled with emotion. There was a moving moment when he said “Thank you so much everyone. Good night. Take care.” The gravity of his accomplishments were about to take hold, and probably with a bit of a lump in his throat, he graciously said his “goodbye” in both music and words.

In the “behind the scenes” documentary on the DVD, Botti candidly said, that the thing he was most nervous about – the ultimate test – was the trumpet itself and having an upper register that is free and sounds good after playing so many different musical styles. Trumpeter Chris Botti achieved that, and so much more, making musical history, in addition to being a gracious host of the program. As an artist, Botti met the huge challenges of short rehearsal times, bringing all of these great artists together for show filled with wonderful arrangements, and creating an entertaining, unforgettable show which is captured well on the excellent DVD Chris Botti in Boston.

2009-2010 Television Appearances & Tour

Through at least May 2010 Chris Botti has plans to continue touring with his band (as he has done for much of 2009) to support the new DVD and CD Chris Botti in Boston. During the tour with his band, Botti has been bringing some special guests such as vocalist Sy Smith and violinist Lucia Micarelli from the original DVD (it varies by show and location).

During the 2009 tour, Botti also did a few live performances on national television in the U.S., including The TODAY Show on April 3rd, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on April 15th, the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on April 22nd. On May 16th, Botti and Micarelli performed the Grammy-nominated, exquisitely beautiful and moving musical selection “Emmanuel” backed by Billy Kilson (drums), Billy Childs (keyboard), and Tim Lefebvre (acoustic bass) on CBS TV The Early Show Saturday Edition's "Second Cup Cafe" in between tour dates in New Jersey and New York.

In March 2009, Botti made personal appearances at numerous PBS television affiliates to support the pledge drive, when they aired the show Chris Botti in Boston. According to Botti, "The musicians like Sting or Steven Tyler are all doing it for nothing. ... These guys are doing it for the music. The real reason we're doing it is to support PBS and try to get music on television which television normally doesn't cater to apart from rock 'n' roll and pop."


Show at Bergen Performing Arts Center

In March and April 2009, the PBS television station NJN Channel 50 in New Jersey broadcast Chris Botti’s wonderful show to help raise money to benefit the nonprofit organization. One of the special promotional offers was a preshow “Meet and Greet” and two orchestra seats to the show at the grand old red and gold Bergen Performing Arts Center (a nonprofit organization which I attended on May 14, 2009.

After seeing both the PBS special on TV, and watching the DVD Chris Botti in Boston, I was wondering how Botti was going to be able to top that level of enjoyable entertainment in a live show. Well, Botti did just great on his tour stop at the grand old Bergen Performing Arts Center (and from reading reviews of shows around the U.S. it seems he continues to maintain a high level of audience satisfaction). The absolutely fantastic Bergen Performing Arts Center show received numerous ovations, loud cheers (in between the audience’s rapt attention so quiet you could’ve hear a pin drop).

Botti recently said: “when I play live it’s much, much more energetic than the records because we want it to be an entertaining, fun night and also filled with the roller-coaster of energy that a live show can give you.”

Since I’ve seen Botti’s live show this year, I can attest that it’s true – the live show is fun and exciting. Chris Botti and his band - pianist Billy Childs, guitarist Mark Whitfield, drummer Billy Kilson, and special guests: bass player Tim Lefebvre, violinist Lucia Micarelli, and vocalist Deja Gomez provided a wonderful entertainment experience. The often serious and focused Chris Botti was in high spirits- and the audience was delighted by the wide range of great music and jovial stories and atmosphere. Botti and his band and musical guests all sounded fantastic and the show included jazz standards, classical music, contemporary jazz, a film theme, pop, and more.

With the live show, Botti plays material from a wider repertoire of his recordings, including the current Chris Botti in Boston release. For the show that I saw at Bergen Performing Arts Center we got to experience live the intensely beautiful, moving duet of “Emmanuel” with violinist extraordinaire Lucia Micarelli. The audience was treated to the sweet beautiful tones of Botti’s trumpet on Irving Berlin’s “What’ll I Do” (from the 2004 CD When I Fall in Love). Botti performed with vocalist Deja Gomez an enjoyable version of “Good Morning Heartache.”

Before the encore, Chris Botti walked off stage with his trumpet into the audience without his microphone. Instead, told the Frank Sinatra story, said he wasn’t going to play “Fly Me to the Moon” (probably too campy for Chris) and joked fondly that his pal Michael Bublé could be the keeper of that tune “until hell freezes over). Instead, Botti played a cheerful rendition of Sinatra’s ‘saloon’ song “One for My Baby” (from the 2004 CD When I Fall in Love) accompanied by the audience’s finger snapping (at Botti’s request). Members of the audience left ‘walking on air,’ with some of them singing and dancing as they emptied their seats in the theater. Right after the show – just to make the audience smile once again – over the theater’s sound system – guess what song was (deliberately) played – “Fly Me to the Moon”. With Chris Botti’s penchant for American jazz and pop standards, I wouldn’t be surprised if Botti might be “Caught” playing that tune and more Sinatra songs in the future.


Wide Audience-Appeal & Acts of Kindness on Tour

After countless performances on television, Chris Botti’s audience has expanded from typical smooth/contemporary jazz multi-cultural baby-boomer demographics, to include many pop music and classical music fans. The audience at a typical concert (and for those who enjoy the PBS specials, DVDs and CDs) includes a wide age spectrum, from listeners who bring their young preteens, to those in their late 20s to 70s.

There was a special group of about 40 people at the Bergen Performing Arts Center back in May during the preshow “Meet and Greet” hosted by NJN’s Winifred “Freddie” Chisholm, Director of Membership for NJN Public Television and Radio. As Chris Botti graciously does on a regular basis at “meet and greets” across the world, Botti took photos and signed posters. One man in his 70s who said he played trumpet asked to take a photo with Chris Botti. The rest of us watched and smiled while Botti posed for a photo with him.

As one article put it, Chris Botti’s appeal stretches from pre-teens to grandmothers. In 2009, there was also a poignant story in the news of 77 year-old grandmother Nancy Blacklin, (who lives in St. Petersberg, Florida and had recently lost her husband of 46 years). Her granddaughter had asked her to visit her in Ohio to see a Chris Botti Show. At the show, Botti surprised the grandmother by saying “Where’s that beautiful grandmother from Florida? Nancy, where are you? What are you doing way up there?” Botti then invited her and her granddaughter to move from their balcony seats to two front-row seats to see the show (her granddaughter had helped arrange it), and then Botti dedicated a song to her. Not long afterwards, grandmother Nancy Blacklin also later got to see Botti perform back in her hometown on October 16th during the Clearwater Jazz Holiday smooth jazz festival. It is apparent that Chris Botti’s music and persona touches a lot of lives.

Trumpeter Chris Botti appears to be having the time of his life, along with his fans on this current tour. For Chris Botti 2010 TOUR DATES across the U.S., Canada, & Japan, and more see: http://www.chrisbotti.com/home.html#location1 [Special Note: Trumpeter Chris Botti opens the 20th annual Berks Jazz Fest on Friday, March 19th, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. at the Reading Eagle Theater at the Sovereign Center.]

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:05 PM

December 11, 2009

Nick Colionne To Ring In The New Year in Philadelphia

Following is a press release from On The Edge Productions, Chicago, Illinois, December 10:

Soul-Jazz Superstar Nick Colionne To Ring In The New Year in Philadelphia

NickColionneNYE.jpgJazz guitarist and vocalist Nick Colionne brings his special brand of excitement this New Year's Eve to Philadelphia. Michael Tozzi of ijazzglobal.com (former WJJZ Program Director) presents Nick Colionne (along with an after party with Philadelphia Band ZOE) at the Embassy Suites Hotel, Philadelphia International Airport.

Colionne joined the ranks of today's premier jazz artists with his Top Ten 2003 Album "JUST COME ON IN" that included the #1 hit "High Flyin" and top-ten hit "It's Been Too Long". His 2006 release "KEEPIN' IT COOL" propelled him to the top of the charts once again with the Top Ten hit singles "Always Thinking of You" (which stayed on the R&R charts for an incredible 45 weeks), "Keepin' It Cool" and "If You Ask Me". "KEEPIN' IT COOL" was also named Top Ten CD of the Year for 2006 on numerous lists.

His latest CD "NO LIMITS" has already produced two Top Five Hits, the title track "No Limits" and "The Big Windy Cat".

Says Colionne of the project: "NO LIMITS" is my latest adventure. I wanted to explore doing some different things with my music and not limit myself to one genre or style of playing". Colionne teamed up with two Grammy-award winning writers for the CD: Jim Peterik who wrote "The Eye Of The Tiger", the theme from the film "Rocky", and Paul Richmond who wrote "Shining Star" for the Manhattans. From this collaboration came three great vocal tracks - the soulful and romantic "Melting Into You", the bluesy "Hard Line" and the R&B tinged "Anyway".

Colionne's live performances defy categorization. His shows incorporate all the music he loves best and the influences he's had throughout his career. You are as likely to hear Nick sing the blues or some heartfelt R&B as you are to hear his blazing jazz licks, or even the hint of metal, recalling the beginning of his career as a heavy metal guitarist. From that diverse musicality comes an incredible live performance that showcases the talent, vocal ability and yes, comedic timing, of this charismatic entertainer.

More About Colionne
NickBGM.jpgComing of age on Chicago's West Side, Colionne began playing professionally at age 15, and has performed with legendary R&B icons Natalie Cole, Al Green, The Impressions, Curtis Mayfield and The Staples Singers. The recipient of the Malcolm X College Alumnus of the Year Award, (he earned his degree there in music), Colionne has devoted much of his spare time over the past 12 years to mentoring children at a suburban Chicago K-8 school.
Nick Colionne is an endorsee for Epiphone Guitars and Gibson Strings & Accessories as well as prestigious clothier Stacy Adams and is featured in both of their national advertising campaigns.

According to Nick, "The most exciting part of all of this for me is that I am actually living my dream, getting a chance to perform for people around the world, The greatest moments come when I look at their faces in the audience when I play, and I realize that I'm making them feel what I'm feeling. That's a fascinating level of communication".

Nick is the host of the popular radio program "Keepin' It Cool with Nick Colionne" heard daily on SmoothJazzNow.com, and recently spearheaded a national fund raising campaign to benefit breast cancer research and awareness in conjunction with Wine and Jazz Magazine that raised significant donations for The Pair Tree Foundation, a partner with The 3 Day Walk which benefits the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Colionne's busy tour schedule in 2009 year took him to multiple US cities, Canada, the Caribbean and Europe. Much to the delight of his many fans, he ends this year's multi-city holiday tour in Philadelphia with this special New Year's Eve performance.


New Year's Eve Event Information

EmbassySuitesPhiladelphia.jpgSpecial "singles" and "couples" package pricing is available (dinner, the Nick Colionne concert, a special silent auction to benefit "The Little Rock Foundation" , an after party with Philadelphia's ZOE and optional hotel accommodations/New Year's Day Breakfast).

Reservations/Tickets: Call Embassy Suites Hotel, Philadelphia International Airport at 1-215 - 365-4500 & ask for the Nick Colionne New Year's Special.

Event is brought to you by: Michael Tozzi's ijazzglobal.com

Sponsored by: Allstate Insurance and Golden Nugget Jewelers. Sponsorship Opportunities: Contact: Michael Tozzi at 610 324-9314.

Visit Nick Colionne's Website, www.nickcolionne.com

Media & Press Inquiries for Nick Colionne

Christine Clark, 610-918-3252
Media Manager, On The Edge Productions
media@nickcolionne.com

Photography credits: Cary Gillaspie, Scenic Jazz Photography; Bettie Grace Miner, Miner Works of Art

Special note to www.smoothvibes.com visitors:

Having seen Nick Colionne numerous times since he first came to Reading, PA, I can say without a doubt his is always a stellar show with lots of fan connection, unbelievable guitar playing along with an excellent band, and most of all the chance to meet Nick, himself, who is as fun, friendly and kind as he is debonair. If you can attend this event, you will surely join the ranks of us who already know this will be a magical holiday happening.

Hope you can be there!

Happy Jazzin'

BEV & NIC0.JPGBeverly J. Packard
Reading, Pennsylvania
Home of the Berks Jazz Festival
MyGirlSunday22@aol.com

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 12:12 AM

November 12, 2009

Live From The Inside… It’s Brian Culbertson!

Contemporary jazz star lets fans into his musical world on new DVD/CD release

On Tuesday, November 10, 2009, contemporary jazz star Brian Culbertson released Live From The Inside (GRP Records), a dynamic – and yet intimate – DVD/CD capturing the multi-instrumentalist with his longtime band and special guests recording his songs live in the studio. Live From The Inside is a DVD (with over 90 minutes of special features) and a 12-song CD that offers Culbertson fans newly-rendered versions of some of his most popular numbers, as well as a brand new song entitled "Go."

Culbertson, who is known for his high-energy concerts and expert musicality, wanted to document live performances with his band, but desired to also give his fans something special…an entry into his world behind-the-scenes. Instead of shooting the performance segments of the DVD on stage, he decided to film his band both rehearsing and performing live in the studio - playing at the same high energy level as if they were in concert, but with the advantage of optimal sound and visual lines.

"I was flying home from the Berks Jazz Festival back in March (2009) when the whole idea for this project hit me, " Brian states. "I wanted to show people a true inside look at not only my music, but my life as a musician. I guess you could call the concept a high-energy blast of 'best of' and biography."

Live From The Inside features Culbertson on keyboard, trombone, and bass along with his long-standing band: drummer Chris Miskel, bassist Lamar Jones, singer/keyboardist Eddie Miller, guitarist Wayne Bruce, saxophonist/singer Marqueal Jordan, trumpeter Michael Stever, and singer/guitarist Sheldon Reynolds. All-star guests such as Ray Parker Jr., Dave Koz, Eric Marienthal, Michael Lington, Eric Darius, and Brian’s father, Jim Culbertson, joined in on the sessions, which were recorded in the famed Capitol Records (Studio A) in Hollywood, CA.

The result is an electrifying “live in the studio” performance filled with vigor, verve, and ferocious vitality. Hit songs such as “Always Remember,” “Get It On,” and “On My Mind” are given a new lease on life with fresh tempos and thrilling accents as Brian and his crew re-imagined the music to keep it exciting for both themselves and their audience. And of course, the recordings wouldn’t be complete without covers of some classic funk tunes – “Hollywood Swinging" (Kool & The Gang) and "Serpentine Fire" (Earth Wind and Fire) – get an updated treatment from Culbertson and his band.

But this is much more than a mere music video: Live from the Inside gives fans a guided tour of all things Culbertson: his childhood home, the high school and college he attended, the recording studio from whence countless projects sprung, the apartment where he recorded his first album. Fans will also get a sense of what life on the road is like for the Brian Culbertson Band as the camera documents their journey – from the monotony of airports and buses to the venue for soundcheck, and finally, the moment that makes all of it worthwhile: showtime!

Following the release of Live From The Inside, Culbertson will hit the road once again, taking Brian Culbertson’s A Soulful Christmas tour to venues across the country. This year, Brian is proud to share the stage with good friend and chart-topping sax-man, Michael Lington. AirTran Airways is returning as the tour’s sponsor. In typical Culbertson fashion, the show will feature uplifting and soulful performances of holiday favorites as well as songs featured on Live From The Inside.

Brian’s first, DVD/CD, Live From The Inside, is available now in both retail and online stores including www.brianculbertson.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 3:54 PM

November 9, 2009

R&B and Smooth Jazz for a Worthy Cause

By Ricky Richardson

Long Beach - Teamster Black Caucus So. Cal Chapter presented their First Annual Music Festival 2009, on Saturday, November 7. The festival was held at the Queen Mary Events Park.

The skies were gray as I left my apartment in route to the festival. The skies got brighter as four of the talented stars of R&B and smooth jazz lit up the stage during their respective sets.

The show got under way with Greg Adams. Mr. Adams is a talented Grammy and Emmy-nominated trumpeter/producer and a founder member of Tower of Power. His melodic muted trumpet sent notes high over the festival venue and the nice cool breeze carried them over the Marina. His set was fantastic and upbeat, as you would expect from the former member of a group with a signature sound that continues to be a sought out entity. The crowd and I enjoyed “What’s It Gonna Be,” “Smooth Operator,” “Just Like Breathing” (ballad) and closed his brief set with “What’s Up With That.” Please check out his latest CD East Bay Soul features several songs written with Tower of Power band mate Nick Milo.

EMCEE Vesta Williams with background vocalist Robert G, Alex Day and Romeo Johnson aka The Fantastics entertained the crowd with “Sweet, Sweet Love,” “Congratulations,” and “Don’t Blow a Good Thing.” Someone in the crowd requested an encore of “Congratulations” as this tune spoke to people on a very deep and personal level.

Guitarist Paul Jackson Jr., produced some head bopping and body swaying as he performed material from his latest CD Lay It Back. His latest CD is an R&B-inspired smooth jazz assortment of originals and covers. The crowd were entirely engaged as Paul gave them “The Workout,” and went back in the day with “It’s A Shame,” “Walkin’, written along with Brian Culbertson. “Two for 10, 000,” and saxophonist/keyboardist Ralstein Calhoun wailed away on an un-named blues song to the roaring delight of the crowd. Mr. Jackson thru a smooth punch on “Love TKO,” and gently concluded his set with “Easy.”

The DJ kept the crowd on the makeshift grass dance floor before the headliners took to the stage. There was lots of audience participation when the DJ played “Cupid’s Shuffle.”

The Emotions, three DIVAS from the windy city of Chicago warmed the hearts of the crowd as they reached into their extensive catalog of hits to close out the festival. Their set brought back many fond memories for everyone in attendance on the following tunes “I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love,” “Show Me How,” “Best of My Love,” “Blessed,” “Boogie Wonderland,” “Rejoice,” and “Don’t Ask My Neighbors,” just to name a few.

The inaugural Music Festival was a family event that included a children’s activity area, door prized, food and beverages and various other booths.

The Teamsters Black Caucus So Cal Chapter will use proceeds from the event towards its various causes including helping feed families at Thanksgiving & Christmas and provide toys for children at Christmas and scholarships for students in the community.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:34 PM

October 21, 2009

Smorgasbord of Soul

By Ricky Richardson

Los Angeles - The 4th Annual Taste of Soul will go down in the history books as one of the hottest events in October. Some of the hottest smooth jazz artist performed on the Budweiser Stage hosted by 94.7 The Wave Smooth Jazz Radio Station. The Taste of Soul featured a variety of the best soul food restaurants in Los Angeles.

Over 106,000 people (families, friends) came out to enjoy the festivities on a hot humid day, October 17, 2009.

The Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper and The Wave 94.7 FM, once again teamed up to host Los Angeles’s largest block party on the streets of Crenshaw Blvd. - between Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Rodeo. Further on up the road on the KJLH Radio Free Stage, gospel and R&B music were spotlighted from 11-6PM. For the fourth year in a row, this festival was held without any incidence.

Due to the hot weather, I limited my movement at this event. I found a nice shaded spot near stage right of the Budweiser Stage. I could see and hear the featured artist on stage clearly.

The crowd and I were rewarded with the tasty sounds of smooth jazz and the sweet treat of some R&B music.

The Chosen Gospel Recovery group returned to kick off the program shouting out Praises and blessing to Our Lord and Savior.

The Sai Whatt Band was limited in their set due to technical difficulties. I encourage you to go see this popular L.A. Based band that performs regularly at the Dynasty and The Townhouse in Los Angeles. Their mini set consisted of some classic R&B tunes “Joy and Pain,” “What’s Going On,” “Got to Get On Up,” before their set was cut short and the crowd demanded an encore.

Alana - the soulful, sultry diva from the Desert and her band Masterpiece consisting of Howard Alston, saxophone,  Romel Veal, guitar, Bill Pickman, bass, Paul Vargas, keyboards/trumpet and Kenny Williams, drums. This tight band performs all over Los Angeles, and you can catch them at La Louisanne. They delighted the crowd and me with the following tunes “Funkin’ For Jamaica,” “I Heard It Thru The Grapevine,” “I Got To Use My Imagination,” “Ain’t Nobody,” and “Proud Mary.”

The 4th Annual Taste of Soul was also the birthday of Danny Bakewell Sr., Publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel. This was yet another reason to throw a huge party on the “Shaw” another name for Crenshaw Blvd. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was in attendance for the celebration and presented Mr. Bakewell with a Los Angeles City Proclamation.

Keyboardist/vocalist Gail Jhonson finally was featured front and center with her own band. She is also the Musical Director for Norman Brown. Her incredible talent was a vocalist, keyboardist and composer were prominently featured during her crowd pleasing set as she performed material from her CD Pearl, and a medley of tunes dedicated to the late great bassist Wayman Tisdale.

The surprise performers of the festival were DW3. This band with three vocalists knocked the crowd off of its feet as they showcased their remarkable vocal abilities and versatility performing everything from R&B, Old School and some Latin. Their set list consisted of “What You Won’t Do For Love,” “Can’t Hide Love,” “and a medley of Michael Jackson hits. The crowd was dancing throughout their set and gave the band a standing ovation.

Talented guitarist/Musical Director Ray Fuller made return engagement to the Taste of Soul. This is a great testament to this amazing guitarist and his band.

My home boy from Florida saxophonist Eric Darius has been heating up the smooth jazz chars and festivals all over the world since he busted on the scene. His infectious energy was felt at The Taste of Soul as he wailed on the following tunes “Let’s Stay Together,” “Love TKO,” “Going All Out” and slowed the tempo down with “If I Ain’t Got You,” by Alicia Keys.

Stormin Norman Brown brought down the house as he closed out the festival with a high propone set featured on all of the front burners.

Talaya Trigueros and Pat Prescott of 94.7 The Wave served as MC’s for the Budweiser Stage. DJ Jonathan Phillips kept the dancers grooving in between featured performers.

Despite the heat, a wonderful time was had by all at this annual event with a plethora of music, food, family and friends gathered together for a ton of fun. Book your flight now for the 5th Annual Taste of Soul, October 16th, 2010.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 4:58 PM

October 16, 2009

Catalina Bound: Drew Davidsen To Play at Famous Jazz Trax Festival


l_34e37f0cdcc146a5aaa76d4c9269a57a.jpgDrew Davidsen, jazz guitarist who recently burst onto the contemporary jazz scene on the east coast, is now expanding his horizons and joining the jazz scene on the west coast. Invited by none other than Art Good to grace the stage at the Catalina Jazz Trax Festival, it's a great opportunity for Davidsen to showcase both his raw talent and his passion for music.

Davidsen's band will include his regular saxophonist Dave Krug, who in his 22 years has already evolved into an outstanding player, along with the dynamic Jesse Powers, bass player, and well-established players Bill Steinway on keyboards and Moyes Lucas on drums. During the Catalina show, Davidsen will focus on his latest CD, Around (Again), which features his hit single, “Astro.” Astro has been receiving a good amount of airplay and has climbed the XM Radio Watercolors Channel 71 chart to #4.

Although Davidsen’s musical career spans a number of years, he’s a relative newcomer as a smooth jazz musician. Yet in the span of just two years, he’s already got two top-notch CD’s under his belt with more music floating around in his head for a third CD.

A Balimore native,Davidsen followed an interesting path to the music he loves to play these days. His father had a passion for music as well as science, and eventually chose science for himself, but cultivated a love of music in his son by taking him to concerts featuring artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Pass and Ray Charles. His dad’s love of science led him to become an astrophysicist, instrumental in discovering technology that was used in the Hubble telescope. Hence, Davidsen chose the name ‘Astro’ for this irresistible high energy tune that serves as a tribute to the talent of his late father.

Both Around (Again) and Davidsen’s first CD, entitled Journey, contain a number of tracks that could easily be hit singles. Already a master composer, Davidsen’s talent in putting together memorable tunes is truly amazing and something fans of this genre won’t want to miss.

If you’re already on Catalina Island, come on over to hear Davidsen on Sunday, October 18th, at 7 PM, immediately preceding George Duke. If you’re not able to attend this impressive festival this weekend and you’re stuck on mainland USA or elsewhere in the world, you can still enjoy Davidsen’s music. Simply visit drewdavidsen.com to hear some clips and then order some of his music for yourself. You'll be glad you did!

Happy Jazzin'


Beverly J. Packard
Reading, Pennsylvania
Jazz circle Member of the Berks Arts Council
MyGirlSunday22@aol.com

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 5:37 PM

September 7, 2009

Smooth Jazz Festival Munich 2009

The Smooth Jazz Festival Munich 2009 was the successor to the first annual smooth jazz festival that took place last year in Bregenz, Austria at the lake of Constance. For a while it seemed to be unsure if the festival would be repeated, but this summer the announcement of the follow up festival at Munich reached the eagerly waiting smooth jazz fans in Europe. While last year's festival was organized by a team of people, this year Christian Bössner did the whole job on his own, which must have been a major chore. I am glad to report that he succeeded on all levels, obviously having learnt a few things from last year's festival.

The festival was moved to Munich in Germany. The location was a former power station called Kesselhaus that had been converted to an event hall. It was a bit smaller than last year's location, had a nice bar/food area and tables and a seating area in the back. The official festival hotel was a few miles away from the Kesselhaus where most of the fans and all the artists were staying, which yielded several opportunities to mingle with the artists and have a few chats with them. I met many friends from the industry, like Hans-Bernd Hülsmann who runs smooth-jazz.de, Craig from smoothjazznews.com and several smooth jazz aficionados I knew from earlier events.

The major artists were backed by a German band called the Heavy Mellow Quartet from Berlin who did an admirable job. They accompanied all the US artists and showed no sign of weakness during their many hours on stage, they did a flawless job and adapted well to each and every performer, additionally they showed their skills with their soloing at many occasions. They must have had to learn over 50 songs and probably had minimal rehearsal time, but at the concerts, they delivered.

The festival was opened by Steve Oliver who gave his great brand of guitar led smooth jazz, topped with his vocal artistry, which is absolutely unique and part of his trademark sound. Among the songs played were also his hits "Chips & Salsa" and "High Noon", providing a decent opening set for the festival.

Next was Michael Lington who played some heartfelt, picture perfect smooth jazz drawing mostly from his own catalog, one of the highlights was his rendition of "Everything Must Change" which he played in the crowd surrounded by cheering fans. For the second part of his set, Steve Oliver joined him considerably turning up the heat.

Friday evening was concluded by Club Des Belugas, a lounge/nu-jazz band from Germany, who appeared with two singers, a horn section, a great percussionist, entertaining the crowd until past midnight.

Saturday was a day off that I spent at the Hofbräuhaus with some friends, a stylish way to kill some time in Munich, before the festival continued in the evening with a killer lineup.

Marcus Johnson played the first set backed by the Heavy Mellow Quartet with lots of funky and soulful keyboard playing, playing songs from his latest release Poetically Justified and some classics from his large catalog, personal favorite was his version of "Moanin'".

First highlight of the evening was the pairing of Peter White, Rick Braun and Richard Elliot who did a high-energy show allowing each of those players to shine and play their favorite songs. Rick Braun played his classic "Notorious", while Richard Elliot gave us "Rock Steady", "Move On Up" and "People Make The World Go Round". Peter White did his R&B medley featuring "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" and "Who's That Lady", later he did "Bueno Funk", the show was closed with "Gazing In The Grass". This was as expected a top-notch, entertaining show by some of the very best players of the genre.

The evening was closed by Brian Simpson and Dave Koz, two of my favorite smooth jazz players. The first half of the set belonged to keyboardist Brian Simpson who just has a knack for a great melody, he also played his biggest hit to date called "It's All Good". Then Dave Koz joined the stage and played some of his classics, special was his heartfelt rendition of "Over The Rainbow" from the Wizard Of Oz. At the end of the show, Michael Lington appeared as surprise guest, turning up the heat and bringing this great festival to a close.

This was a perfect evening of top-notch smooth jazz and a genuine representation of the genre, a thing that was partly lacking last year. This year they hit the nail on its head and I was totally thrilled with the great music on display. The festival was well organized, there was no big flaw, and the number of people attending was definitely better than last year, so I guess the future looks bright for the festival. Smooth jazz is starting to establish itself in Europe, so we all are looking forward to the next issue of the festival in 2010. Kudos to Christian Bössner for a job well done!

More festival pictures

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:47 PM

August 29, 2009

The Ultimate Summer Groove in Southern California

By Ricky Richardson

The 22nd Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival was held on August 7-9, 2009, at the gorgeous grassy knoll of the Rainbow Lagoon.

Al Williams, the founder of the Long Beach Jazz Festival and his staff of Rainbow Promotions and volunteers were blessed by the weather Gods with some ultimate Southern California weather. The weather was tolerable but pleasant with a nice breeze all weekend.

Al Williams welcomed the early arrivals ready to keep off their weekend at day one of the festival Friday evening. The crowd was asked to stand in remembrance of our Military veterans as a recording of “America” by Ray Charles were played. Everyone remained standing while Pastor Raymond LeBlanc said a prayer.

This year’s festival was dedicated to the late great NBA player and jazz musician Wayman Tisdale. The program got under way with saxophonist Eldredge Jackson a new rising star on the smooth jazz, Adult Contemporary music scene. Eldredge Jackson and Listening Pleasure played a set filled with smooth and funky grooves on “Ain’t Nobody,” “I Like That,” “Hello” and “Rock With You.” The bands debut CD Listening Pleasure was co-produced and several songs were written by Wayman Tisdale.

Saxophonist David Sanborn got down with a high energy set of material from several of his award winning CD’s as well as featured tunes from his latest recording Here & Gone. Throughout his set, Mr. Sanborn kept moving and grooving seamlessly from straight-ahead and improvisation jazz to pop/rock and R&B sounds.

A Summer Storm poured down on the Rainbow Lagoon featuring Norman Brown - guitar, Eric Darius - alto sax, Gail Jhonson - keyboards and Brenda Russell replacing Patti Austen to close out the first evening of the jazz festival. Their current tour is dedicated to the late great Wayman Tisdale.

Al Williams, Founder of the Long Beach Jazz Festival, is a noted drummer. Day two Saturday got under way with Eric Seats as he introduced new talent through “The Next Great Drummer.” Their set was well received by the audience. I’m hoping that this will be an annual event to open the festival on Saturday’s. All of the talented drummers were featured in the spotlight as Eric Seats guided the group thru several genres of music.

Composer, Producer, Arranger, keyboardist Dr. Clarence McDonald took the crowd on a musical journey of tunes that he wrote and recording that he performed on including the hits “”What Is This” by Les McCann, “Best of My Love”- The Emotions, “Lovely Day”-Bill Withers, “Summertime,” “Heaven Help Us”-Ray Charles, “Just For Your love”-Earl Klugh, “I Like The Way You Move.” Vocalist CJ Edmonds or CJ Hammonds performed superbly with the band.

Bassist Brian Bromberg is another musician in demand as a sideman. Their set was good as the group performed original tunes and tunes that Brian Bromberg recorded with other jazz greats such as  “Cantaloupe Island” by Herbie Hancock.

Hiroshima turned it up a notch with their blend of contemporary sounds with Asian instrumentations from their latest CD Legacy which will be released in the coming weeks. “Red Beans & Rice,” “I’ve Been Here Before,” “Another Place,” and One Wish” were some of the highlights of their set.

Jazz piano legend Les McCann Swiss Movement featuring saxophonist Javon Jackson were grooven as only Mr. McCann knows how to groove with jazz hits “Compared to What,” and “Cold Duck Time.”

Vocalist Ledisi was the first of a trio of neo-soul singers to grace the stage. She was enthusiastically received as she showcased her soulful, sultry voice from her previous CD’s Feeling Orange But Sometimes Blue and Lost & Found.

The jazz festival crowd was ambushed with a crowd pleasing Jazz Attack featuring Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler and Richard Elliott to close out the second day of the festival.

Sunday, the final day of the festival got under way with the Jazz Search Winner. I didn’t arrive to the festival in time to catch her performance.

Al Williams Jazz Society featuring Al Williams - drums, Nedra Wheeler - bass, Dave Bradshaw - keyboards/piano, Tony Poinsett - congas, Dr. George Shaw - trumpet, and Doug Webb performed well in their usual Sunday afternoon time slot. The band performed “First Light,” “Sandy’s Smile,” “Cantaloupe Island,” and “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.” In the absence of Barbara Morrison, a guest from the VIP section - Barbara Burton joined the band to sing the blues “Rock Me Baby.”

The combination of two great guitarists Marc Antoine and Paul Brown cause a musical frenzy when saxophonist John Klemmer joined the band to perform his classic tune “Touch” from the CD Touch. If you like smooth jazz, this CD is a must have for your music library. This song continues to get radio airplay.

Saxophonist Steve Cole and vocalist Leela James pumped up the energy of the festival, and fully engaged the crowd in their back to back respective sets. Both artists received a standing ovation at the conclusion of their sets.

The festival concluded with straight-ahead jazz set by Ramsey Lewis Trio followed by festival headliner Angie Stone who performed her brand of soul, R&B, and neo-soul that has made her internationally famous.

For two decades, thousands of people have been enriched by the sounds of straight-ahead jazz, smooth jazz, R&B and neo-soul at one of Southern California’s premier jazz festival - Long Beach Jazz Festival. Now would be a good time to plan on attending the festival in 2010.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:00 PM

August 10, 2009

Guitars and Sax Show Coming to Fort Dix, New Jersey August 14th

wine&jazzlogofortdix.gif

Fort Dix, New Jersey is hosting the 2009 "Hot August Night Wine and Jazz Festival" on August 14th. Club Dix is the site of an evening of wine and smooth jazz. Taste New Jersey's finest wines while grooving to the "Guitars and Sax" featuring Euge Groove, Jeff Golub, Jeff Lorber, and Jessy J. The event Includes the concert and wine & cheese tasting and complimentary wine glasses (while supplies last). Free copies of the recently debuted Wine and Jazz magazine will also be available.

The event is held annually in support of Soldiers deploying and returning from Iraq, plus all the support staff that handle the mission. It's open to the pubilc and will be held at Sixth Street and Alabama Avenue, Fort Dix, New Jersey. Tickets are $24.00 for Military ID card holders and $29.00 for all others. Master Card and Visa accepted. Age must be 21 or over to participate in wine tasting.

Tickets have been on sale since June 15 at FMWR headquarters, BLDG 6043, Doughboy Loop, Fort Dix. Tickets are also available by calling Club Dix at (609) 723-3272 or FMWR Headquarters at (609) 562-6772.

For more information about the event, call 609-562-5881, Extension 6772. For driving directions, visit www.dixmwr.com. Producing this show are Fort Dix FMWR and Lerer Media.

Doors open at 5:30 PM. with two opening bands performing just before the Guiitars and Sax show! We hope to see you there for a fun night of wine tasting and smooth jazz!

Happy Jazzin'

Beverly J. Packard
Jazz Circle Member of the Berks Arts Council
MyGirlSunday22@aol.com


Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 2:39 AM

July 18, 2009

Smooth Jazz Festival Munich 2009

Event-Highlight in Munich

Augsburg, 07.07.2009: On the first weekend of September, Munich will be the site of a German premiere: From 4th to 5th September the Kesselhaus – the former energy headquarters of the Krupp-subsidiary plant – opens its gates for the Smooth Jazz Festival Munich 2009. After the start-up event in the Festival House Bregenz last year, the organizers, smooth entertainment GmbH, present again some of the biggest and most successful names of the international Smooth Jazz scene: Apart from guitarist and vocalist Steve Oliver as well as saxophonist Michael Lington, the band Club des Belugas will heat up the fans with swinging sounds on Friday in the Kesselhaus Munich. On Saturday, guests will experience Peter White, Richard Elliot and Rick Braun as well as Brian Simpson and Dave Koz. Another highlight on Saturday is the American Marcus Johnson. He will also host the Smooth Jazz Brunch on Sunday, 6th September, in the Branche Restaurant Schwabing, with which the Smooth Jazz Weekend will then fade away.

The program at a glance:

Friday, 4th September:
7.30 pm Steve Oliver
8.45 pm Michael Lington
10.20 pm Club des Belugas
following Aftershow-Party

Saturday, 5th September:
7.30 pm Marcus Johnson
8.45 pm Peter White, Richard Elliot and Rick Braun
10.45 pm Brian Simpson and Dave Koz
following Aftershow-Party

Entrance to the concert area in the Kesselhaus from 6.30 pm on both days.

Sunday, 6th September:
12.00 am - 3.00 pm Smooth Jazz Brunch with Marcus Johnson at the Branche Restaurant

More information can be found at smoothjazzfestival.de.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:18 PM

April 21, 2009

Paul Brown & Marc Antoine Tickets and CDs Giveaway

You can experience Paul Brown and Marc Antoine live. They’ll be on tour and contemporaryjazz.com is happy to give away to one lucky person a pair of tickets to the KIFM festival in San Diego on May 23 where Marc and Paul will be performing. The winner will also get a signed copy of ForeignXchange, their current CD. Additionally, a couple of copies of the CD are given away.

To win the ticket and autographed CD, just visit contemporaryjazz.com - good luck!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:09 PM

March 21, 2009

Diana Krall - Quiet Nights

Some music is intended to paint a romantic scene – a candlelit dinner, a walk along a moonlit beach. Quiet NightsDiana Krall’s twelfth album – ain’t about that. Using Brazil as a musical point of reference, the award-winning pianist and singer is not suggesting a night out; she means to stay in.

“It's not coy. It's not ‘peel me a grape,’ little girl stuff. I feel this album’s very womanly – like you're lying next to your lover in bed whispering this in their ear.”

She’s not kidding. From Krall’s refreshing version of “Where or When,” to an utterly soul-stilling rendition of “You’re My Thrill,” the ten songs on Quiet Nights are disarming in their intimacy. Even those already familiar with the breathy vocals and rhythmic lilt in Krall’s music – and now there are millions – will be taken aback by just how far the music pushes, unabashedly, into the realm of sweet surrender. “It’s a sensual, downright erotic record and it's intended to be that way.”

Krall is the first to credit the musical team she assembled – her loyal quartet, ace producer Tommy LiPuma, engineer Al Schmitt plus legendary arranger Claus Ogerman – for much of the seductive power on Quiet Nights. But there’s a deeper, palpable sense of maturity that she brought to the recording as well. “Most of my singing and playing on the album is really just first or second takes. ‘You're My Thrill,’ was a second take – “Too Marvelous,” first take.”

“She’s completely matured,” says Tommy LiPuma, who should know, having first worked with Krall in 1994. “Even in the past few years. She approaches her vocal phrasing much more like an instrumentalist than a straight singer. It’s in her reading of the lyrics, and the timbre of her voice, much more misty like Peggy Lee in her mature period.” (“I didn't want to over sing -- I was drawing also from Julie London very strongly on this album,” Krall confesses, noting that such influences are not always conscious on her part. “It just came out that way.”)

As such, the Brazilian focus of Krall’s new album could not have been a more natural next step. “She's been very sympathetic to this music for a long time,” notes LiPuma. “When we did The Look of Love, we were very much leaning in the bossa nova direction. Quiet Nights is really a celebration of this music. Diana sings three Brazilian classics, she rhythmically turned four standards into that style, and three ballads. So really there are ten songs on the album of which seven are just straight up bossa novas.”

It makes sense that Quiet Nights (also the English name of the bossa nova classic “Corcovado” that is the title track) draws much of its musical spirit from the land that puts the “carnal” into its annual Carnaval celebration. “I was inspired to do this record because of my trip last year to Brazil,” says Krall, who returned to Rio de Janeiro to shoot a concert for a new DVD release. “Then I just kept going back and found that everywhere you go you still hear the sounds of Jobim and bossa nova.”

For those who may not remember or weren’t yet around, Brazil’s bossa nova wave (literally “new bump” or “new way” in Portuguese) was the widely popular musical style, based on the country’s traditional samba rhythms, that swept up from the sidewalk cafes of Rio in the early ‘60s and seduced the entire planet with its hypnotic, swaying beats, sultry melodies, and new, exciting harmonies – all with generous room for jazz improvisation. Antonio Carlos Jobim (who composed “Quiet Nights” and “The Girl from Ipanema”) and Joao Gilberto (“Este Seu Olhar”) are two of the pioneers of the music, revered as national heroes in Brazil to this day.

“It’s their standards – even the kids know all the songs,” says Krall. “In concert, I started singing “Este Seu Olhar” and the audience just opened their mouths and sang along – like a choir! It’s in their blood.”

Claus Ogerman was the arranger on many of bossa nova’s first wave of recordings, working with the likes of Jobim and Gilberto, as well as Frank Sinatra, Stan Getz and Bill Evans. That he pulled himself out of semi-retirement in Munich to work on Quiet Nights says much of his respect for – and enjoyment working with – Krall.

“I think Claus really fell in love with her the first time around,” says LiPuma, who introduced the two in 2000. “He had sort of stopped doing new projects except composing his own music, piano concertos, violin concertos and such. Now, I've worked with Claus since the early '70s – on his own recordings, with Hank Jones and Michael Brecker – a Joao Gilberto album in 1977 (Amoroso) which is one of Diana’s favorite albums. But he still says that The Look of Love (Krall’s 2001 multi-platinum success) was probably the best album that he had ever been involved with. So he’s very conscious of what she is capable of doing.”

Ogerman’s arrangements are as defining an element on Quiet Nights as any other, adding an astonishing level of sophistication to its mood and languid flow. There are moments when time slows to the point that normally momentary emotions have a chance to collect and be fully expressed. Ogerman’s challenge was to find a fresh, ear-catching approach to familiar territory. “Claus has worked on a lot of these tunes before,” LiPuma says. “But for the most part he approached them much differently. He emphasized the minor chord side-- slightly darker on certain things, like ‘Quiet Nights.’ Diana has complete confidence in him and just gave him total freedom.”

Krall laughs relating how Ogerman jokingly understated his contribution. “Claus told me, ‘It's a gloomy string orgy’ – he has a very dry sense of humor. There was a lot of him saying, ‘I've written these things a hundred times, now I'm gonna really do something crazy. And some of the arrangements he did are pretty wild.

“When we did ‘Walk On By,’ he said ‘Ja, I think this is gonna be good.’ And then we listened to those French horns playing the Burt Bacharach melody? We all had a meltdown. There's a lot of space with just the orchestra playing. It's reminiscent of Ravel's ‘Bolero’ and so beautiful I didn't want to fill it up with a jazz solo. I refused to play piano in some of those parts because I wanted to leave the space and let the arrangements do their thing.”

Krall confirms that, in a manner that would satisfy the most pure jazz sensibility, Quiet Nights was built from the band up – meaning that each tune began as a quartet performance, featuring longtime sidemen guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist John Clayton, and drummer Jeff Hamilton (in a scene where things change fast and often, it says a lot that Krall has forged such uncommonly lasting relationships – including her backup, her producer and her arranger.)

“The trust I have with Claus is complete. We met in New York, where I played him 25 tunes and from there we edited it down to 15. He wrote the arrangements and after that there was no editing, no changes.”

LiPuma describes how the recording process continued: “Claus wrote the charts and then we did the rhythm tracks to his specifications. But it wasn’t like it was a routine – Diana loves going in there with the quartet. She's been at this a while and has a certain manner of doing things. She knows that it’s about trying to find the groove. She feels much more comfortable in doing it with just a quartet, then bringing in the strings and so forth afterwards.”

Krall – at the age of 43 – has experience in her favor. Born in Nanaimo, Canada, to a musical family – her father is a stride-style pianist and serious record collector -- she grew up absorbing music that guided her future growth. She attended Berklee School of Music in the early ‘80s, then moved to Los Angeles where she continued her studies with bassists Ray Brown and John Clayton, drummer Jeff Hamilton and pianist Jimmy Rowles; Rowles convinced the young pianist to focus on her singing as well. By 1990, Krall relocated to New York City and began performing with a trio, and in 1993, she released her debut album on a small Canadian independent label.

Fifteen years later, she can look back over a stellar career path: in ’99, signed to Verve, her career exploded when When I Look in Your Eyes won a GRAMMY® for best jazz vocal and became the first jazz disc to be nominated for Album of the Year in twenty-five years. In 2002, The Look of Love was a #1 bestseller in the US and a five-time platinum album in Canada. 2004’s The Girl in the Other Room, was her first to focus on her own songwriting (with six tunes co-written with husband Elvis Costello); 2005’s Christmas Songs proved one of the season’s best-sellers; and 2006’s From This Moment On was an upbeat, critical success that coincided with the birth of her twin sons – a life-affirming event that LiPuma feels enhanced Krall’s continuing growth as a musician. “Motherhood definitely agrees with her—and marriage. I think she's really come into her own.”

As moving as Quiet Nights is -- deriving from Krall’s feelings for Brazil and bossa novas – the singer is not shy in admitting that its sensuality is as much about her home life. “It’s my love letter to my husband – just an intimate, romantic album.” As they say in Rio – obrigado!

# # #

Diana Krall Quiet Nights available March 31, 2009

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:48 AM

March 3, 2009

31st Annual Playboy Jazz Festival Announced

Photos and Text by Ricky Richardson

Start spreading the news! The most highly anticipated announcement, second only to those made at the recent Academy Awards, and was made on February 25th at the Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills.

Hugh M. Hefner and the entire Playboy Jazz Festival organization hosted a special news conference on the East lawn of the Playboy Mansion, to announce the artist line-up for the 31st Annual Playboy Jazz Festival to be held on June 13th and 14th at the historic Hollywood Bowl.

Several headliners of the festival were in attendance at the Press Conference along with artists scheduled to perform at the various Playboy Jazz Festival Free Community Concert Series. VIP guests and artists at the Press Conference were excited to be apart of the celebration of the announcement of one of the jazz world’s premier events. Wayne Shorter, Patti Austin, Quincy Jones, on hand to introduce his protégé - Alfredo Rodriquez, Jack Sheldon, Ndugu Chancler, Kenny G, Norman Brown, Pete Escovedo, Luis Conte, Susie Hansen, Johnny Polanco, Erin Davis (Miles Davis son).

The 2009 festivities mark the 31st consecutive year that the Playboy Jazz Festival will present an entire weekend of jazz at the renowned Hollywood Bowl including the very popular pre-festival community events offered free to the general public throughout the greater Los Angeles area.

Each year the 2009 Playboy Jazz Festival presented in conjunction with the L.A. Philharmonic Association serves up an eclectic smorgasbord of jazz as well as other genres of music. The 31st Annual Playboy Jazz Festival will feature a tasty buffet of straight-ahead jazz, smooth jazz, pop, Latin jazz, salsa, New Orleans R&B and brass band, jazz sprinkled with a touch of reggae, African juju music and two amazing and talented high school jazz ensembles.

Bill Cosby will return as Master of Ceremonies, Hugh M. Hefner, Executive Producer, Richard Rosenzweig, President Playboy Jazz Festival, George Wein, Producer, with Darlene Chan and FestivalWest Inc., Producer/Playboy Jazz Festival Festival.

Saturday, June 13th, 2009-2:30P.M.-11:00P.M.


  • The Neville Brothers

  • Remembering the Miles Davis Classic Kind of Blue @50 with Jimmy Cobb’s So What Band

  • Summer Storm: Starring Norman Brown, Wayman Tisdale, Eric Darius and featuring Gail Johnson

  • Jon Faddis

  • The Jack Sheldon Orchestra

  • Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings

  • Pete Escovedo Orchestra featuring Sheila E., Peter Michael and Juan Escovedo

  • Esparanza Spalding

  • Cos of Good Music

  • New Birth Brass Band

  • Los Angeles County High School For The Arts Jazz Ensemble directed by Jason Goldman


Sunday, June 14th, 2009-2:00P.M.-10:30P.M.

  • Wayne Shorter Quartet-with Brian Blade, John Pattitucci and Danilo Perez

  • Kenny G

  • Patti Austin

  • King Sunny Ade

  • Dave Holland Big Band

  • Monty Alexander’s Jazz & Roots

  • Oscar Hernandez & The Congo Room All-Stars

  • Anat Cohen Quartet

  • Quincy Jones Presents Alfredo Rodriquez

  • North Hollywood High School Jazz Ensemble, Directed by Jonathan Kenion

Ticket information: Tickets are available through Ticketmaster. Patrons can purchase tickets online at http://www.ticketmaster.com, over the phone by calling (213)365-3500 or (714)740-7878, and at any Ticketmaster outlet or by downloading a ticket order form online at www.playboyjazzfestival.com. For more information, call the Playboy Jazz Festival Hotline at (310)450-1173 or visit www.playboyjazzfestival.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:42 PM

February 20, 2009

Kenny G launching new online radio station

CBS Radio Smooth Jazz KTWV/Los Angeles is working with popular sax player Kenny G on a new online radio station, WKGRS. That stands for "Kenny G's Radio Station," and it will be available via CBS Radio's streaming platform, on AOL and Yahoo's LaunchCast, on iPhone and some BlackBerrys, and at www.kennyg.com.

The stream will offer music from SJ core artists like Sade, David Sanborn, Chris Botti, John Legend, and, of course, Kenny G, who'll also host the channel, with anecdotes and behind-the-scenes stories.

CBS Radio and KTWV VP/Smooth Jazz Programming Paul Goldstein said, "Kenny G is one of the most celebrated names in pop culture, so to partner with the entertainer who is the essence of the popular smooth jazz format is a perfect fit for our brand. Kenny has insight into the format like no one else I know, plus he has an easygoing on-air style that connects instantly with listeners. There is a longstanding synergy between musicians and radio, and by having these two vital elements come together in one online entity audiences with be treated to an incredible listening experience."

Posted by Peter Böhi at 11:27 AM

February 12, 2009

Fly Away - The Songs of David Foster

Fly Away is a labor of love that celebrates the art of one of the most talented musicians ever to appear on the pop scene -- David Foster. Tomi Malm is the arranger and producer extraordinaire who reinvented a number of classics from Foster’s amazing songbook. Malm’s inventive and original takes are brought to life by a cast of superior musicians and singers.

The album kicks off with an intense orchestral intro written by Malm that segues into “In The Stone”. This powerful cover of the Earth, Wind & Fire classic is respectful to the original yet presents new, exciting elements. The legendary Bill Champlin’s unmistakable voice adds some soul to this funky jam while being supported by the smoking Danish All Star Horns and a rhythm section including John “JR” Robinson on drums, Nathan East on bass and Paul Jackson Jr. on guitar. “JR”, the man behind countless Foster and Quincy Jones productions, is the rhythmic force behind several tracks on the album, joined by some of the best bass players in the biz including East, Abe Laboriel and Neil Stubenhaus.

Next, Malm slows down the atmosphere with “No Explanation”. Originally performed by Peter Cetera for the Pretty Woman soundtrack, Foster co-wrote this ballad with singer/songwriter Bill LaBounty. What a treat to listen to LaBounty’s take on his own song. The acoustic setting is perfect for LaBounty’s evocative singing, supported by the wonderful harmonica of Tollak Ollestad. The result is pure bliss.

Boz Scaggs and Foster co-wrote some of the best pop music of the last 30 years. Two great examples are the pop/soul ditty “Jojo” and the sweet ballad “Look What You’ve Done To Me”. Here, “Jojo” is performed by the great Arnold McCuller of James Taylor fame. This track oozes class from beginning to end with soulful vocals, a pulsing rhythm section and refined horns. The icing on this smooth cake is the elegant flugelhorn solo by Jan Glaesel.

In the past, David Foster has said “Look What You’ve Done To Me” is one of his best songs ever. For this reason, when Contante & Sonante respectfully approached him to play on this record he was asked to add his magic to this particular song. Cecily Gardner’s voice caresses the listener on this jazzy take with support from Foster’s acoustic piano. Ramon Stagnaro’s guitar and Brandon Fields' warm saxophone are fantastic additions to another winner on this album.

Foster has often been called the “King of Ballads” and “The Colour Of My Love” helped define that distinction. Malm’s brilliant arrangement reinvented the song which is performed by the amazing Frank Adahl. The Swedish virtuoso infuses strength and soul into the song and truly brings it one step higher. There are echoes of EW&F in this rendition while the delicate piano intro was borrowed from another classic, “On Christmas Morning”, co-written by Foster with Kenny Loggins.

“Heart To Heart” is an evergreen written by Foster along with Loggins and Michael McDonald. This quality pop gem has been faithfully covered with singer/songwriter Jeff Pescetto on lead vocals. It’s an intricate chart with a beautiful melody that flows wonderfully with some great guitars courtesy of Paul Jackson Jr. and Dan Warner. Adding to the mix is an amazing saxophone solo from Brandon Fields.

The title track, “Fly Away”, is one of Foster’s lesser known masterpieces. Originally on Peter Allen’s masterpiece album Bi-Coastal, it is here given a jazzy/pop treatment, with some interesting time changes. Veteran singer/songwriter Robbie Dupree adds his own stamp to the song, giving the listener sweet echoes of the West Coast pop scene of the late seventies. The final result is embellished with wonderful horns and a great sax solo courtesy of Italian jazzman Fabrizio Mandolini. Let’s not overlook the great work on percussion here and on other tracks by session great Michito Sanchez.

One of the highlights of this tribute is Ole Borud’s amazing take on the Chaka Khan classic “Through The Fire.” Even Foster was impressed when he first listened to this version. Again, the new arrangement brings the famous song into another dimension. Borud’s vocals are amazing and the setting is modern and could easily become a radio hit. Michael Landau's and Dan Warner’s various guitars add even more fire to the tune.

When Contante & Sonante was making a wish list of possible special guests, two names immediately came up -- Jay Graydon and Jeremy Lubbock. Both performers are noted for their immense talent and special contributions to Foster’s career. Luckily, both agreed to appear on the album. Lubbock masterfully produced and arranged a haunting cover of “The Best Of Me”, a song he co-wrote with Foster and Richard Marx. Lisa Lovbrand, a very talented Swedish up-and-coming singer/actress, beautifully performed the song with Lubbock backing her up on the acoustic piano.

Graydon can be heard playing his trademark guitar on the Airplay classic “Nothing You Can Do About It”. This song is another showcase for Frank Adahl’s voice as well as The Danish All Star Horns. Adahl’s pyrotechnic singing puts his signature on the song, which is also enriched by refined piano and rhodes playing.

“Whatever We Imagine” was co-written by Jeremy Lubbock and Foster. Originally sung by James Ingram, this time around it is in the hands of world class singer Bill Cantos. Cantos’ voice caresses the tune to enhance its positive lyrics and meaning creating another acoustic pop masterpiece.

The collaboration between Chicago and David Foster was fundamental to both careers. Instead of selecting one hit from their successful albums produced by Foster, Contante & Sonante picked an unreleased track from Chicago 18, “When Will The World Be Like Lovers”. Here, Malm paints the rock side of Foster’s work. A carpet of terrific guitars played by Michael Landau and Porty backs up an all-star performance by many of the singers appearing on Fly Away. The powerful groove on this song is courtesy of the rhythm machine of John “JR” Robinson and Abe Laboriel.

Another extraordinary contribution from David Foster was the unreleased song “Live Each Day” that closes the album. This song has special meaning because it presents a never-heard-before vocal performance by the late Warren Wiebe. Contante & Sonante is in a way the home of Warren Wiebe’s memory, and “Live Each Day” really brings things full circle. This breathtaking ballad comes directly from Foster’s vaults and was recorded at Chartmaker in the nineties. Malm added a stripped-down arrangement with just a piano and some guitars to put the spotlight on Wiebe’s timeless singing. It’s the best way to end a magnificent tribute to an outstanding musician and human being, David Foster.

Update March 1st: Contante & Sonante is pleased to announce that pre-orders for Fly Away / The Songs of David Foster are now being accepted. Visit www.contanteysonante.com

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:58 PM

January 25, 2009

Matt Marshak releases “Brotherhood” single featuring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

by Val Vaccaro

On Monday, January 19, 2009, America celebrated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (actual date of birth - January 15, 1929) the late, great civil rights activist (who was also a Baptist minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner). It is fitting that it was also the day before the world watched the momentous inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America on January 20, 2009 of Barack Obama (former Senator from Illinois), now the first African-American President in U.S. history, who is also a baby-boomer.

Speaking of baby-boomers, most smooth jazz fans - who are a microcosm of racial diversity - are also part of this age group (born between 1946 and 1964). Like many smooth jazz fans and artists, guitarist Matt Marshak holds the values of baby boomers who grew up sharing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of the world as a better place, promoting equality among races and peaceful resistance to discrimination.

According to Matt Marshak, “In my opinion, jazz, smooth jazz, embodies so much of the essence of what Dr. King envisioned. Folks of all backgrounds join together on stage and in the audience to enjoy a truly American art form. The power is in the diversity, friendship, and belief (that) we as a community are a fine example of this unity.”

The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is represented in part by his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which he gave on August 28, 1963 in Washington D.C. at the Lincoln Memorial. Dr. King’s speech was a defining moment in the civil rights movement in the U.S., and as part of the promise of being able to fulfill the American Dream. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was given as part of the1963 “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” to over a quarter of a million people. Dr. King’s dream was for people to “live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

In 1999, the “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr. was honored by being named to the top of the list of the “100 best political speeches of the 20th century” (http://www.news.wisc.edu/releases/3504.html).

It is fitting then, that someone from the smooth jazz community would have the idea to combine the joy of gospel-influenced, smooth jazz/instrumental pop music with the great message of the civil rights movement. That’s what songwriter, producer and guitarist Matt Marshak does in his newly remixed single “Brotherhood – featuring Martin Luther King Jr.” This new single, released officially January 5, 2009 on www.mattmarshak.com, features guitarist Matt Marshak’s upbeat, smooth jazz/instrumental pop song, mixed with the original soundtrack of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech “I Have a Dream.”

Matt Marshak says “Since I was child, I’ve always been inspired and deeply touched by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His words and message…ring with a timeless importance to me. His incredible bravery, belief in non-violence, and brilliantly executed speeches will forever influence me as a human being and a musician…. The whole idea of this song was to pay tribute to a great American who I admire like no other, and to help spread and continue his message and legacy.”

Here’s how it happened. According to Marshak, “About a year ago, I recorded a jazz/gospel/R&B tune called "Brotherhood.” It was a dream and mission of mine to somehow pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I envisioned somehow being able to use parts of the "I Have a Dream Speech" in this song called "Brotherhood." This is where my journey began.

Marshak says it took about twelve months to get the rights to Dr. King’s audio clips – he originally contacted the King estate last year, hoping to release the single in January 2008. Being persistent finally worked, and he received permission in December 2008. Marshak says “They thankfully loved the song, approved it, and granted me full permission and license to release this song nationally to every jazz, gospel, and urban a/c station (R&B). Yes, it also cost a fair amount to get the license, but to me it was the best money I ever spent.”

In his January 18, 2009 online newsletter, Marshak wrote that the “Brotherhood-featuring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” song is available for download for 99 cents. 100% of the proceeds of this song will be donated to the Martin Luther King Jr. Estate.” The song’s download link is: http://web.me.com/nuancemusicgroup/Brotherhood/Brotherhood.html

Also, Marshak says that he made Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. co-writer of this song “to help raise money for the King Estate… It will (also) put Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the charts as an artist.”

The original instrumental version of the “Brotherhood” song by smooth jazz guitarist Matt Marshak (without Dr. King’s speech) is featured on Marshak’s current CD (his 4th CD released in 2008) called On the Rocks. The artists on the song include the song’s writer and producer Matt Marshak on guitar (and drum programming), New York gospel music greats Willard Meeks and Robert Meeks on keyboards, and Jack Knight on bass.

Marshak’s CD On the Rocks is available at Amazon.com and at CDbaby.com. A review by Brian Soergel for Jazz Times magazine called On the Rocks “One of the year’s best guitar smooth-jazz CDs.”

Recently, the title track song “On the Rocks” was on both of the Top 30 charts for smooth jazz in Radio & Records, and in U.S.A. Today for smooth adult contemporary music, alongside smooth jazz and pop music artists such as Dave Koz, Jeff Lorber, Fourplay, Warren Hill, Brian Culbertson, Seal, Beyoncé and John Legend.

Also, as a talented producer and songwriter, Matt Marshak was recognized when the CD he produced, Friday Afternoon with trumpeter David Wells, was selected as a nomination entry for Best Pop Instrumental Album for the 2009 Grammy Awards.

In Matt Marshak’s December 18, 2008 online newsletter, he wrote: “I want to congratulate our soon-to-be President Barack Obama. I was so impressed by the future President's statement that jazz and classical music will have a central part in the White House. Bands/performers of both genres will be regularly invited to perform. To me this is inspiring, as art and culture are such a(n) (important) part of this country, and it's heartwarming to hear that our new leader will create more gigs for us! Thank you President Obama!”

The new “Brotherhood - featuring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” single, as mentioned before, is available for download - see the link via www.mattmarshak.com or go directly to: http://web.me.com/nuancemusicgroup/Brotherhood/Brotherhood.html
Also, Marshak is hoping to get fans to request airplay of the single “Brotherhood – featuring Martin Luther King Jr.” on jazz, gospel, and R&B station starting in January 2009. Music fans who enjoy smooth jazz, R&B, and gospel, and those who share Dr. King’s vision will appreciate the new single “Brotherhood – featuring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” Matt Marshak’s new single is positively inspirational and filled with (as one of the book titles by President Barack Obama says) the audacity of hope!

Let’s hope 2009 is a year of peace, progress, and happiness for everyone, including the smooth jazz community and its artists, who help bring joy and celebration to the world. [Note: In 2009, guitarist Matt Marshak will be performing shows in the U.S. in places such as California, New York, Iowa, Florida, and Pennsylvania (at the Berks Jazz Fest Jam). For more information on Matt Marshak, including specific tour dates and venue information – please visit www.mattmarshak.com.]

Posted by Peter Böhi at 3:08 PM

January 23, 2009

Jazz Giant David ‘Fathead’ Newman Has Died

Jazz legend David ‘Fathead’ Newman transcended peacefully at a hospital near his home in upstate New York on January 20, 2009, after a long battle with cancer. David, as he preferred to be called, attained international stardom over a long career. Born in Corsicana, Texas on February 24, 1933 and graduating from Lincoln High School in Dallas, Texas, he went on to study theology and music on scholarship at Jarvis Christian College. In 1954 he began his twelve year association with Ray Charles and was Ray’s lead tenor, band leader, and closest ‘side kick’ during those years. After leaving Ray’s band to make his own name, David performed live and recorded with many greats, including Cedar Walton, Buster Williams, Stanley Turrentine, Hank Crawford and another Texas Tenor, the late James Clay. He appeared in Dallas a number of times over the years, collaborating with other great local artists, including the late Shirley McFatter, and his son Cadino Newman, who recently accompanied David to a special performance recently in Austin, Texas. Back in New York, David had often shared the stage with Cynthia Scott, ex-‘Raylette’, in their tributes to Ray. His television appearances included Saturday Night Live, David Letterman and many others. David’s most recent recording endeavors were his CD’s Diamondhead, Life, Mr. Gentle, Mr. Cool, a tribute to Duke Ellington, and I Remember Ray which was the “#1 Most Played Jazz Album” in the country. David Newman’s music bridged many styles with uncanny ability. His music embraced living with his deep sense of spirituality and unfettered positivity. He leaves behind his Wife-- Karen Newman, Aunt Freda Mae Jefferson, Uncle Curtis Cavanaugh, his children--Andre Newman I, Cadino Newman, Terry Walker, and Benji Newman as well as his eight beautiful grandchildren.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 12:48 AM

November 27, 2008

17th Annual Las Vegas City Of Lights Jazz Festival

17th Annual Las Vegas City Of Lights Jazz Festival
Saturday, April 25th 2009
The Bigest Names In Smooth Jazz

Michael Schivo Presents, celebrating 45 years as Nevada's premier Pop, Rock and Jazz concert promoter, has again teamed up with Las Vegas Events (LVE) the Las Vegas mega producers of the city's largest tourists events, and 105.7 SMOOTH JAZZ, and KJLH RADIO FREE and KTWV THE WAVE IN LOS ANGELES to co-sponsor the 17th Annual Las Vegas City of Lights Jazz & R&B Festival. By popular demand the Festival now has a new location at Government Amphitheater. Government Amphitheater according to producer Michael Schivo “has superior sightlines and the sound system will be in surround sound giving the jazz attendee a great experience they deserve. Also parking is improved and is easy and very accessible to the venue” Government Amphitheater is located very close to Downtown Las Vegas and closer to the Las Vegas Strip than past festivals for convenience when staying in a hotel.

The new Festival sight has a much more of a professional feeling and intimate synergy revered by the jazz patrons. The site also has many shade trees and a Pavilion also offering shade.

The Jazz Festival is Saturday April 25th from 1.00 pm to 10:00 pm.

As usual, the Jazz Festival has been booked with handpicked musicians to entertain throughout the day and night. Jazz artists performing on Saturday April 25th will include the hottest sax and R & B sounds of the day of Boney James, the ever crowd pleasing bass guitar of Wayman Tisdale, the jazzy guitar and rocking blues of Nick Colionne, the smooth, sexy and sophisticated sax of Marion Meadows and the sultry sax of Jessy J.

Quote Schivo: "Last year's Festival was an extreme party filled with the groove that it takes to be crowned "The biggest and liveliest Jazz party in the west" Last years Festival sold out in advance and so we strongly urge patrons to buy either show well in advance as tickets will be in high demand once again Schivo adds "The Las Vegas City of Lights Jazz Festival continues to spiral itself into a very special light, and as our Festival continues to gain momentum, it will rank with the likes of all first-rate European and big-city-USA spring and summer Music Festivals, perhaps more so because Las Vegas is truly a one-of-a-kind city."

Past Jazz stalwarts that have graced the festival include: The legendary Jazz Crusaders, Norman Brown, Lee Ritenour, Hiroshima, Jonathan Butler, Nick Colionne, Richard Elliot, Peter White, Rick Braun, Brian Culbertson, Joe Sample, Boney James, Gerald Albright, Fattburger, Larry Carlton, Poncho Sanchez, Flora Purim and Airto, Ronnie Laws, The Yellowjackets, Hugh Masakela, Chuck Mangione, George Duke, Down to the Bone, Ronnie Jordan, Paul Jackson Jr., Paul Taylor, Mike Phillips, Barkays, Dazz Band, Cameo, Ohio Players, Morris Day and the Time and many more. The Jazz Festival, established in 1994, has hosted capacity crowds in years past as people from all around the Country attended. Last year 38 states were represented at the Festival.

Tickets go on sale in Las Vegas and throughout the United States on Saturday December 5th, 2009 throughout Las Vegas exclusively at the following Las Vegas Ticket Outlets: All three Mr. Bill's Pipe and Tobacco Stores, and UNLV Performing Arts Center. Tickets will also be sold through the Jazz Festival 800 telephone number, which is 1-800 –969-VEGAS. Additional tickets sold in the Los Angeles area at Inglewood Tickets, 310-671-6400.

Patrons of the Festival are permitted to bring into the park picnic baskets filled with their favorite food and beverages, (No glass containers are allowed) as well, there will be various concessions and crafts at the festival located in the Jazz Village.

No High Back Chairs Allowed Into The Festival

Ticketing Information: This year's Jazz Festival will again offer free admission to each event for children 12 years of age and under, and a reduced ticket price to each event for children 13-18 years of age for $20, which will be available at the on-site festival box office on the day of the event only. The Jazz Festival VIP/ Early Bird tickets receive 1st entry from 10am to 12noon for center of the venue seating with its own cash bar and upgraded executive restroom facilities. Tickets are $110 in advance plus any taxes and ticket outlet service charges and fees. General Admission adult tickets in advance are $60 plus any taxes and ticket outlet service charges and fees.

For additional information please see our website located at www.yourjazz.com. For recorded Jazz Festival information or messages please call our Jazz & R&B Festival Hotline at 702-228-3780.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 12:19 PM

November 10, 2008

South African Singing Legend Miriam Makeba Dies

Legendary South African musical treasure and Grammy Award winner Miriam Makeba has died. One of Africa’s best known voices and a champion of the fight against apartheid, Makeba died of a heart attack after a performance in Italy. She was 76.

Makeba fell ill after a concert in the southern Italian town of Baia Verde late on Sunday, November 9. She died after being rushed to a clinic in the town of Castel Volturno.

Known as “Mama Africa” and the “Empress of African Song,” Makeba was the first black South African musician to gain international fame, winning renown in the United States in the 1950s with her sweeping vocals.

Born in 1932 in Johannesburg, Miriam Makeba first came to the public’s attention as a featured vocalist with the Manhattan Brothers. She soon left to record with her all-woman group the Skylarks while touring Southern Africa with Alf Herberts’ African Jazz and Variety. In 1963, after testifying about apartheid before the United Nations, the South African government revoked her citizenship. She remained in the U.S. and married Black Panther leader Stokely Carmichael, but they eventually fled to Guinea on the West African Coast. Makeba returned to world prominence in 1987 when she performed with Paul Simon on the Graceland tour. In 1990, she finally returned to her homeland as a free South African.

Makeba’s final U.S. studio recording was Reflections. Released on Heads Up International in June 2004, this brilliant retrospective album featured new arrangements that captured the singer’s remarkable vocal power and artistry. Reflections is part of the Heads Up Africa series – a critically acclaimed collection that spotlights some of Southern Africa’s finest vocalists and instrumentalists.

“Mama Africa’s artistry has played such an important role in promoting the arts and culture of South Africa,” say Dave Love. President of Heads Up International. “My times with her I will cherish forever. She will be missed dearly.”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:14 PM

October 12, 2008

Groovin’ To Your Health at Jazz At Drew

Photos and Text by Ricky Richardson

Los Angeles - The weather forecast for the past weekend, October 4-5, 2008 called for scattered showers. That didn’t dampen the spirit of the people in attendance. The weather forecast strengthened their resolve to attend the 18th Annual Jazz At Drew Legacy Music Series, Cultural Marketplace and Health Pavilion. This was apparent due to the fact that this was the final outdoor music festival for the year. The theme for this year’s festival was “Building Cultural Bridges Through Music: Highlighting the Healing Art of Medicine and Music.”

Is there a doctor in the house? This was answered with a resounding yes! I’m speaking also of Dr. Gaynell Colburn, who kicked off the annual Jazz At Drew, presented by Honda. She opened her set with “Get Here.” Dr. Colburn is a vocalist and percussionist and has performed with legends such as Patti Austin, Dave Valentin, and Herbie Hancock and has toured with Stevie Wonder. Saxophonist J Boykin joined the group for the remainder of her set. J is a new person on the smooth jazz circuit, on the fast track of making a name for himself. He performed material from his debut CD. The tunes performed were “My Name is J,” “Just J,” and dedicated “So Amazing” to the memory of Luther Vandross and finished with “Lost Without You” by Robert Thicke. Dr. Colburn closed out her set with “Check Out Time.”

Multi-talented bassist, music director, composer and producer brought along some of his friends to entertain the crowd. Guitarist Paul Jackson Jr. and a trio of excellent vocalist were featured as soloist. The vocalist consisted of Amy Keys, Teresa Bailey and Dorian Holly. Collectively, they did a good job with “Lady Marmalade,” “What You Won’t Do For Love,” “All I Do,” “I Wish,” “All of Love,” “Let’s Stay Together,” “Let’s Get It On,” “and “Before I Let Go,” got the crowd up on their feet to dance and sing along with the band.

Malcolm Jamal Warner and Miles Long and the LA Multi-School Hip Hop Orchestra led by Reggie Andrews were a nice collaboration that produced some great music.

The Latin Jazz All-Stars helped to heat up the festivities with some hot Latin Jazz and salsa from the song books of Hilton Ruiz, Pete Escovedo and Miles Davis. This was another tight band that consisted of trumpeter Ray Vega, conguero Chembo Corniel, pianist Arturo O’ Farrill, drummer Phoenix Rivera, timbalero Pete Escovedo, bassist Yunior Terry and trombonist Francisco Torres. These musicians have an extended background in and are masters of Afro-Cuban, Salsa, Brazilian music and Latin Jazz.

Vocalist Chrisette Michele is another newcomer in the neo-soul genre who is also on the fast track to becoming a star. Her crowd pleasing set featured tunes from her debut CD I Am and featured a tune from an upcoming CD to be entitled Like a Lady. She entertained the crowd with “Let’s Ride,” “Like A Dream,” “Love Is You,” “I’ll Always Be Your Joy,” “The Best of Me,” “Let’s Last Forever,” “War Cry,” and “We OK.”

Chicago-based smooth soul vocal group, The Chi-lites along with all of their glory was another crowd favorite. Their timeless music lit up not only the Drew University festival grounds, but the entire surrounding area, giving all in the area a musical treat. They modernized one of their hits for the upcoming election “For God’s Sake Give More Power To The People” to “More Power To Barack Obama.” Other hits followed “Oh Girl,” “Have You Seen Her,” “Got To Have You Baby,” and Write A Letter To Myself.”

Third World capped off day one of Jazz At Drew with their signature sound of reggae. The group received the Jazz At Drew Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Jazz At Drew All-Stars featuring Leon Jones and Jabari Betts kicked off the final day of the festival. It was a pleasant Sunday afternoon with a nice breeze for festival attendees.

Karen Briggs with saxophonist Mike Phillips, guitarist Chieli Minucci, Vesta, keyboardist Lao Tizer, Loose Ends, and Sheryl Lee Ralph set was full of high energy of R&B, soul and funk.

It took a while, but I finally got a chance to hear some mainstream, straight-ahead jazz. Trumpeter Wallace Roney Quintet was the highlight for me for the entire weekend.

The Festival continued in a straight-ahead mode with the music of Nate Morgan’s Swingin’ Exile with Miguel Ferguson, Ken Rosser, Joel Ector, and drummer Alphonse Mouzon.

A Capella group Renaissance performed both days of the festival. The festival continued on a high note with a dash of contemporary smooth jazz of Jeff Lorber Band, funky, soul-drenched Latin jazz of Poncho Sanchez and concluded with Les McCann featuring the Javon Jackson Quintet. Les McCann was the 2008 Jazz At Drew Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:14 AM

September 22, 2008

It’s all smiles as a happy Kim Pensyl returns with a new contemporary jazz album

When Katie Smiles due October 28th, “Slap Happy” leading the way at radio

Blessed with a bountiful life of jazz, music, love, family and education, pianist Kim Pensyl united his passions in a celebration of intimately inspired melodies and robust rhythm tracks on his fourteenth album, When Katie Smiles, scheduled for release October 28th from Penton Music Productions. The eleven new compositions written, arranged and produced by Pensyl mark his return to contemporary jazz where he previously charted four top 10 Billboard contemporary jazz albums. Powered by a deep bass and thick drum beats, the first single that was just serviced to radio, “Slap Happy” boasts Pensyl’s nimble contra piano melodies in the foreground while he peppers the background with haunting keyboard fills.

A labor of love like his previous releases, When Katie Smiles finds Pensyl poignantly relishing mundane pleasures sparked from the simple give and take exchanges between people.  He infuses his music with the same outlook by allowing his talented quartet to interact and improvise spawning moments of spontaneous splendor.  His melodies are joyous, contemplative, heartfelt and eloquent, thoughtfully yet organically given space to breathe, unfold and flow in uncluttered arrangements.  The production sounds live and warm as Pensyl’s piano and keyboards are enriched yet never out-muscled by the bass (Andy Woodson), drums (Reggie Jackson), electric and acoustic guitars (Kevin Turner) or percussion (Jim Ed Cobbs).  In addition to the single, spotlight selections include the snappy title track that opens the collection, the beautiful and audaciously arranged “Where’d Love Go?,” the exquisite and expansive “Grand Lake,” the inviting and homey “Gentlewind Dr.,” and “Love Comes First,” which closes the album in a cinematically sweet mood.
                   
“As on all my albums, When Katie Smiles is about communicating feelings born of my life experiences.  This makes each album something very personal, emotional and expressive, but it also makes me a bit apprehensive since I put myself in such a vulnerable position by sharing my feelings so openly.  However, the chance to communicate deeply with listeners is certainly worth the risk.  It creates a bond of understanding that I treasure,” explained Pensyl.  “My music is a positive light, deeply committed, and is offered with sincerity in the hope it will bring joy to others by sharing part of my life.”

Pensyl’s lust for music was born in the heart of the Columbus, Ohio native during the musical heyday of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.  He first picked up the trumpet and extensively studied composition, arranging, production, engineering and performing.  He explored genres of music with fervor from jazz, big band, chamber and orchestral to rock, R&B and pop.  After graduating The Ohio State University School of Music with honors, Pensyl moved to Southern California where he earned a Master’s degree in composition.  He returned to Columbus after gaining valuable experience on the road performing and writing arrangements for various touring groups.  Pensyl captained his own band at local gigs and also played solo piano dates.  This led to the recording of his debut album, Pensyl Sketches #1, which was released twenty years ago.  In 1989, ASCAP named him Best New Jazz Writer and two years later, NARM selected Pensyl Sketches #3 as Jazz Album of the Year.  Twice Pensyl made Billboard’s top 20 Contemporary Jazz Artists of the Year.  The dedicated family man who still wields the trumpet and piano has recorded with Toots Thielemans, Joey Calderazzo, Steve Rodby, Chieli Minucci, Alex Acuna, Adam Nussbaum, Andy Narell, Chuck Bergeron and Will Kennedy among others.  He’s toured extensively throughout the world and has performed with his band on PBS, BET Jazz and Mexico TV.  His albums have been diverse collections of modern acoustic jazz, contemporary jazz, solo piano renderings and even Christmas music. 
 
Remaining a wide-eyed student of music himself, Pensyl took on the role of teacher in 2000 when he accepted a faculty position at The Ohio State University.  Four years later, he joined the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati where he is an integral part of the Jazz Studies program.  Pensyl writes for and performs with guest artists at the university such as Arturo Sandoval, Bob Mintzer and Terri Lyne Carrington.  He enjoys sharing his immense knowledge, vast experience and great love of music with his students.  Enthused and committed to challenging himself in his writing and performance, Pensyl plays concerts regularly in Ohio and is anxious to take the band out on the national circuit in support of When Katie Smiles.  Additional information is available at www.kimpensyl.com. 
 
The songs contained on Pensyl’s When Katie Smiles are:
 
“When Katie Smiles”
“Slap Happy”
“Where’d Love Go?”
“Here Comes The Rain”
“Grand Lake”
“Beside The Shallow Pond”
“Gentlewind Dr.”
“Summer Days”
“Once Again”
“On This Day”
“Love Comes First”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:20 PM

September 8, 2008

Philly's smooth jazz station WJJZ gone - again

120px-NewWJJZLogo.gifPhiladelphia's smooth jazz station WJJZ had to give up again only two years after their applauded relaunch due to "limited success with smooth jazz as judged by the marketplace".

You may recall the vocal protest by loyal listeners in August 2006 when the station switched to adult contemporary, which prompted the relaunch of WJJZ in November 2006 with Michael Tozzi at the helm. As it turns out, WJJZ didn't become commercially successful forcing them to abandon the smooth jazz format - again. I guess WJJZ has gone definitely now, which is a sad day for the Philly area and smooth jazz fans.

More information can be found here.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:09 PM

August 31, 2008

1st Annual Smooth Jazz Festival Bregenz 2008

The 1st annual Smooth Jazz Festival in Bregenz took place August 29/30th in Bregenz, Austria which is located right next to Switzerland and Germany, so smooth jazz fans from all across Europe gathered there for some of their favorite music at the lake of Constance. The organizers took great care in creating a laid-back atmosphere to enjoy the music with bars, a catering area and scattered tables and chairs to bring a piece of Southern California to our shores. I applaud Christian Boessner and his crew for taking the efforts (and risk) to bring smooth jazz to Europe, and - with the exception of some smaller concert events in the past -, this has been the first official attempt to bring smooth jazz to a larger audience in Europe.

Bregenz08_Gabin.jpgConcerts started each day at 5:30pm with a gig to warm up, followed by two main acts, finally closing the evening with different DJ-acts. Friday was not too well attended despite a good line-up. Lounge-band Gabin from Italy opened the festival with their groovy and jazzy brand of music fronted by a great singer, their hit "Into My Soul" went down very well with the crowd.

First main act was guitarist Chieli Minucci (of Special EFX fame) with Alex Bugnon on keyboards and Marion Meadows on saxophone, backed by the band of Pat Appleton, who did a good job. Chieli Minucci and friends jammed heavily with extended solos, crossing fusion territory often, only few moments of the concerts were more laid back, Marion Meadows was my favorite part of the show with his smooth playing, I particularly enjoyed his solo on the Stevie cover "Cause We've Ended As Lovers".

Bregenz08_DePhazz.jpgUnexpected highlight of the first evening were De-Phazz, the lounge/chill band around leader Pit Baumgartner, they delivered a top-notch show full of humor and fun, with great musicianship and catchy songs, singers Pat Appleton and Karl Frierson both carried the show and left the audience in an upbeat mood.

The evening was closed by Praful who was backed by a turntables/sampler artist and a percussion player, he played various saxophones and the flute over house grooves delivering some of his best known songs.

Saturday was better attended and really delivered the first real smooth jazz treat of the festival with the show of Peter White, but first it was talented singer Pat Appleton with her band warming up the crowd. Unfortunately she played more pop/rock music which didn't do much for me, so she seemed to be a bit out of context at this festival.

Bregenz08_White.jpgThe first headlining band was guitarist Peter White with saxophonists Jaared and Rocco Ventrella, backed by the band of Pat Appleton. Peter White eventually was able to create some real smooth jazz vibes and mesmerize the audience, people rushed to the front of the stage in droves. Peter White is a such a consummate performer, and his mix of smooth jazz songs and well selected covers (among them "Papa Was A Rolling Stone", "Who's That Lady" and "The Closer I Get To You") resulted in a truly great show. Jaared played his saxophone with lots of emotion and delivered a beautiful song from his current release Addiction, the Earl Klugh cover "Jamaican Winds" which was a highlight of the show. And newcomer Rocco Ventrella on saxophone played his heart out, he proved that he is a musician to reckon with and I look forward to hearing more of him. As surprise guest Pat Appleton came to the stage to sing a classic Basia song together with Peter, later Marion Meadows joined the band. I was in Smooth Jazz heaven, and when they played a few bars of Deep Purple's "Smoke On The Water" with three horns and acoustic guitar, it almost knocked my socks off! This concert was absolutely brilliant and the highlight of the whole festival - and sadly the only one deserving the tag "smooth jazz".

Bregenz08_Dulfer.jpgThe festival was closed by super-star Candy Dulfer, this time she had a trumpet player in her band which yielded some great horn lines, the big black guy she had in her band at this year's Berks Jazz Festival was not there, so the soul element was definitely lacking, instead she opted to give us lots of hard-hitting funk. The concert was very loud and very groovy, and Candy worked hard to bring us in a party mood. Personal highlights were "Every Time" from her Candy Store album with an extended guitar solo by Ulco Bed and her world-hit "Lily Was Here", the rest of the show was very professional and polished although smooth jazz played only a minor part. Her encore was "Funky Nassau" which says a lot. Nevertheless, it was a good concert by a world-class band.

After that Adani & Wolf played a house DJ-set with Rocco Ventrella on saxophone added as live musician, which brought the festival to a close.

Looking back at the 1st annual Smooth Jazz Festival, I must say that I am happy to see people willing to put such an effort together and I really hope that the festival met their expectations financially and artistically, so it will be continued next year. I really liked the setting and felt comfortable there, and I am confident that some of this year's flaws in the organization will be worked out next year, as this is a learning process for all involved. Musicwise I hope that they will live up more to the term "smooth jazz" next year and will draw a larger crowd, so smooth jazz really can catch on in Europe.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 2:22 PM

August 22, 2008

The Soul of the Long Beach Jazz Festival

Text by Ricky Richardson, pictures by Peter Böhi

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A precedent record setting throng of people crowded unto every inch of grass at the Rainbow Lagoon for the 21st Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival, August 8-10 presented by Rainbow Promotions. Nary could a speck of grass be seen by mid afternoon as a colorful array of blankets, towels, beach chairs, pop-up tents and umbrellas blanketed the grounds of the festival. Southern California’s premiere music festival presenting the best of jazz, R&B, Latin jazz and neo-soul was sold out for the entire weekend. A pleasant jazzy breeze hovered over the festival all weekend.

The festival got under way on Friday night with welcoming remarks from Al Williams - jazz festival founder, local city officials and sponsors. Pastor LeBlanc delivered a prayer for the festival. Festival organizers honored our military by playing a recording of “America” by Ray Charles while the crowd stood facing the American Flag on the stage.

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The musical portion of the festival got under way with a Friday Night Cool Down with the talented guitarist/vocalist Joyce Cooling. Singer/composer Michael Franks returned to the delight of the crowd with his well-known witty and sensual lyrics. Kem a popular neo-soul singer brought the house down with his soulful voice singing material from his current CD’s Kemistry and Kem Album II.

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The Long Beach Jazz Festival Talent Search contest is an event that encourages upcoming jazz musicians. Two winners were selected with each given the honor of opening the festival on Saturday and Sunday. Lina a very talented singer/songwriter performed some jazz standards as well as original material from her previous CD’s Stranger on Earth and Morning Star. I look forward to seeing and hearing from this emerging star.

On Saturday in the festival pavilion area Luis Cruz Beltran and Jose Rizo Jazz On The Latin Side All-Stars cooked up some hot salsa and Latin jazz.

Chicago native Nick Colionne - guitarist/vocalist is a popular artist on the smooth jazz circuit. He emerged onto the stage with an explosive energy opening his set with two original tunes. He slowed the tempo down on “Rainy Night In Georgia” and dedicated a tune to a member of the crowd entitled “Melting Into You.” He caused a mild frenzy while roaming thru the crowd playing his guitar and posing for photographs.

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Keyboardist Keiko Matsui flew in from her home in Japan to for the festival. She dazzled the crowd with material from her latest self produced CD Mayo. She concluded her set with a Latin tinge song to get the crowd dancing. Funk/Soul/Jazz group Down To The Bone laid down some danceable grooves that rocked the crowd.

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Saxophonist/singer/songwriter Mindi Abair is my home girl from Tampa, St. Petersburg, Florida. Her tight band consisted of a guitarist, bassist and a drummer. The entire group inter-acted well with the crowd as well as with each. The crowd was entertained on “Smile,” “Save the Last Dance,” “Every Time,” “Flirt,” “Mojo,” and she allowed the band to stretch out on “The Joint.” She concluded her set with “Lucy’s” a popular song on the airwaves.

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Saxophonist Kirk Whalum is a versatile musician whose sound has been described as melodic, soulful and vibrant stirred in with some R&B, gospel, rock and jazz. He was wailing with some Memphis soul on the following “All I Do Is Think About You,” “After Thought,” “Use Me” with his brother Kevin Whalum supplying the vocals, and “Misty” with some straight ahead jazz grooves.

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The Whispers one of the most respected and enduring vocal groups in the music industry took the crowd on a ride down memory lane with some of their classic hits and performed songs from their latest CD For Your Ears Only to close out the festival on Saturday night.

Saxophonist J Anton Boykin the jazz search winner opened the final day of the festival. The 19 year old wowed the crowd with an eclectic mix of smooth jazz, gospel, Latin and R&B from his debut CD My Name is J.

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The Al Williams Jazz Society featuring Ms. Barbara Morrison was next up to entertain the crowd. They dedicated their set to Ronald Henry a long time employee of Rainbow Promotions. The group performed “Angels Passing” and “Everything Must Change” in memory of Mr. Henry. They also performed “Cold Duck Time” by Eddie Harris and Les McCann. Vocalist Barbara Morrison joined the group to sing “I Love Being Here With You” and of course the feeling is mutual with the crowd. She also performed a song by Percy Mayfield “Send Me Someone To Love.”

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The Super Stars of Jazz Fusion was my favorites of the entire weekend. Hopefully, we will be seeing more of these pairings at future festivals. The All-Stars consisted of Roy Ayers, Tom Browne, Miki Howard, Lonnie Liston Smith and Wayne Henderson. The crowd and I were grooving to the sounds of funk-fusion, soul-jazz, acid-jazz, jazz funk, jazz bop and neo-soul.

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Sax man Euge Groove was “Born 2 Groove” gave the crowd an energizing, funky grooves to dance to throughout his always pleasing set.

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One of the festivals most pleasant surprises came during the performance of soulful vocalist Chrisette Michele. She performed songs from her debut CD I Am. Looking around, I could see several people singing along to “Let’s Rock,” “Like A Dream,” “Love Is You,” and homage to Motown on “Reflections” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

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Also performing on the Second Stage were Lina, Karina Nuvo, violinist Michael Ward and the ever popular DW3.

There isn’t much one can say about conguero Poncho Sanchez that hasn’t already been said. He and his group have been heating up the Long Beach Jazz Festival with some fiery Afro-Cuban rhythms for almost two decades.

Tight funk band the Commodores closed out the festival on a high note. They performed one classic hit after another “Easy,” “Night Shift,” “Brick House,” “Still,” “Zoom,” “Sail On,” and “Three Times A Lady.”

Now is the time to start to get on the mailing list for Rainbow Promotions to stay abreast of futures shows like the one in February 2009 and to be one of the first people on your block to purchase tickets for the 22nd Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival, August 2009.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:50 PM

August 2, 2008

Jazz Legends on Central Avenue

Photos and Text by Ricky Richardson

Gerald-Wilson-Orchestra.jpgThe 13th Annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival was held on July 26 and July 27 on historic Central Avenue. This year’s festival, like the ones held in the past was a huge success.

Everybody was raving about the new set-up for the festival which featured a huge canopy that covered the stage as well as the crowd. The vendors were situated along the side streets off of Central Avenue.

Every year the festival gets under way with a panel discussion with musicians who were apart of the excitement of Central Avenue back in the day. Trumpeter Clora Bryant shared insights with the crowd about the history of Central Avenue and painted a good picture of life on “The Avenue” with the clubs and the prominent jazz musicians of the 1930’s and 1940’s who played along “The Avenue.”

Thousands of jazz aficionados crowded “The Avenue” to hear some straight ahead jazz, bebop, blues and Latin jazz. I could feel the energy and excitement of “The Avenue” back in the day by looking at the crowd, many of whom frequented “The Avenue” during those vibrant times. Great music was showcased by wonderful musicians who performed for an appreciative crowd at the festival. Ernie Andrews (a legend of Central Avenue), Al Williams Jazz Society, Justo Almario Quartet, Gerald Wilson Orchestra (another legend who recently celebrated his 90th birthday), and Barbara Morrison closing out the festival on Saturday.

Jazz America opened the show on Sunday. This is the future of jazz. These students were doing their part in keeping the legacy of Central Avenue alive. Vocalist Phyllis Battle, Michael Sessions, Nedra Wheeler, Poncho Sanchez and Nate Morgan kept the crowd glued to their seats and actively listening to various hues of America’s number one art form: JAZZ.

Poncho-Sanchez.jpgFor the past 13 years, the Central Avenue Jazz Festival has been serving as a unique cultural event that pays tribute to the early heart and soul of African Americans in Los Angeles. Each year, the festival draws in talented jazz and blues artist to celebrate the rich cultural history of the area.

Spearheaded by Councilwoman Jan Perry (9th District), the Central Avenue Jazz Festival is a collaboration of government agencies (City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs & Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles) and local non-profit agencies (Coalition for Responsible Community Development Corporation and Los Angeles Conservation Corps) working together to preserve the rich cultural and history in South Los Angeles.

Ernie-Andrews.jpgThe Central Avenue Jazz Festival is held on Central Avenue and 42nd Street in South Los Angeles, in front of the historic Dunbar Hotel. The Dunbar Hotel plays an integral role in African American history in Los Angeles as it is where the jazz greats like John Coltrane and Billy Holiday stayed when visiting the area.

Central Avenue was part of an early national music circuit that included Harlem, Chicago, New Orleans, and Memphis’ Beale Street, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Oakland as well as my hometown of Tampa, Florida. The corridor was densely packed with jazz dens and all-night “breakfast clubs” lighting up the avenue with their neon lights. All the prominent jazz musicians of the 1930’s and 40’s played along Central Avenue at venues like Club Alabam, the Last Word, the Downbeat, the Memo Club, Ivie’s Chicken Shack, the Finale Club, and Shepp’s Playhouse among other venues.

Each year, the festival continues the decades old tradition of hosting famous and well-know jazz professionals.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:37 PM

July 31, 2008

Long Beach Jazz Festival: Three Days Of Great Music with Kem, Michael Franks, Kirk Whalum, The Commodores, Roy Ayers, Down To The Bone And More

“And The Beat Goes On” For Jazz And R&B Lovers Alike

Southern California’s premiere music festival presenting the best in Jazz and Rhythm & Blues for the 21st year. The Long Beach Jazz Festival takes place the weekend of August 8, 9, and 10, 2008. Once again, the festival venue is the breath-taking seaside setting of Rainbow Lagoon Park on Shoreline Drive in Long Beach, California, where for two decades now thousands of faithful music fans have made the Long Beach Jazz Festival an annual family affair.

True to its reputation as the most soulful and well-rounded summer music festival in sunny Southern California, the 21st Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival for 2008 is loaded with an extraordinary and exciting array of musical talents for every taste. Not only is it a jazz festival celebrating straight ahead and contemporary jazz, but also this year’s weekend of magic includes top-flight star talent from worlds of classic R&B, Neo Soul and Blues — ideal for the more seasoned as well as the newer generations of listeners.

Festival founder, Al Williams and his band Al Williams Jazz Society, featuring incomparable vocalist Barbara Morrison will once again delight jazz lovers with its highly anticipated set on Sunday. “I am really pleased to have such a great variety of artists this year” says Williams, in anticipation of 2008’s star-studded festivities.

Kem_LBJF08.jpgThe smoothly soulful and classily jazzy singer Kem kicks off the 3-day festival Friday night, previewing material from his highly anticipated third project, Album III (his first in three years). Additionally, a special appearance by chef G. Garvin, the entertaining host of TV One’s popular cooking show, “Turn Up the Heat,” will share techniques and recipes from his new book "Dine in with G. Garvin" (slated for release the first week of October).

2008’s lineup also includes singer/composer Michael Franks - the master of poetically sensual and witty lyrics - tenor saxophone superstar Kirk Whalum and conga drum master Poncho Sanchez, a torchbearer of jazz and funk with tropical Latin flair. An amazing assemblage of soul-jazz legends will perform under the umbrella title “The Superstars of Jazz Fusion” starring vibraphonist Roy Ayers, keyboard wizard Lonnie Liston Smith, trumpeter Tom Browne, founding Jazz Crusaders trombonist Wayne Henderson and singer extraordinaire Miki Howard.  

Female musicians are thoroughly represented by the piano artistry of frequent LBJF participant Keiko Matsui, the versatile spice of saxophonist/singer Mindi Abair, and the sweet, fleet-fingered guitar style of Joyce Cooling.

Old school soul music lovers will swoon for the sounds of West Coast vocal legends The Whispers and the Grammy Award-winning Commodores, while neo soul fans can check out the rousing and righteous sounds of acclaimed singer/songwriter Chrisette Michele, funk-soul-jazz party starter’s Down to the Bone, and modern soul-jazz stars Nick Colionne on guitar and Euge Groove on sax.

This year, Linda Morgan from Rainbow Promotions, LLC is coordinating the Long Beach Jazz Talent Search, an event that encourages upcoming, jazz musicians.  Two winners will be selected to open the festival on Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets are available through Rainbow Promotions, LLC at (562) 424-0013, or online at Ticketmaster.com.  VIP tickets are $150 per seat for Friday and $175 per seat /per day on Saturday and Sunday — includes dinner, wine service and access to mingle with jazz artists. Reserved box seat tickets are $60 per seat on Friday and $75 per seat/per day on Saturday and Sunday.  General admission/lawn seating is $45 (prior to July 30) and $50 at the gate.  For the Friday show, gates open at 5PM, with a show time of 7PM until 11:30PM.  For the Saturday and Sunday shows, gates open at 11:00AM with show times of 12 NOON until 10:30PM.

Cadillac, Budweiser and TV One are among the main sponsors of the 2008 Long Beach Jazz Festival. Media sponsors include KTWV-FM, KJAZZ-FM, KJLH-FM and Jazziz Magazine.

Rainbow Promotions, LLC is responsible for producing the Long Beach Jazz Festival each August, and various special events and mini-concerts presented year-round.  For 21 years, Rainbow Promotions, LLC. has produced the Long Beach Jazz Festival, a three-day city event averaging 24,000 in attendance.  For more information regarding the Long Beach Jazz Festival, go to: www.LongBeachJazzFestival.com, or www.RainbowPromotions.com

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:25 PM

June 28, 2008

L.A. Chillharmonic Drops 08/26 Worldwide

LA_Chillharmonic.jpgFollowing in the tradition of Tom Scott & The L.A. Express, one of the most successful and influential jazz/funk/pop/R&B bands from the '70s, guitarist Richard Smith has assembled an all-star cast of fellow Los Angeles-based players for an updating of that same crossover aesthetic that opened the door to jazz for a generation of listeners. Collectively known as The L.A. Chillharmonic featuring Richard Smith, this stellar crew is rounded out by the world class rhythm tandem of bassist Brian Bromberg and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, percussionist Alex Acuña, keyboardist Jeff Lorber, pianists Patrice Rushen and Greg Karukas, trumpeter Greg Adams, saxophonists Gary Meek, Michael Paulo, and Eric Marienthal.

"It's something that represents the best and brightest in my geographic area," says Smith, a former longtime sideman for chart-topping saxophonist Richard Elliott. "Most major cities have a philharmonic orchestra in the classical idiom, and some cities have municipal jazz bands, but no city has something that represents a major musical genre like instrumental jazz/funk/pop/R&B. And with this project I just wanted to represent and celebrate the unique musical signature as Los Angeles players, writers and arrangers."

On their groove-heavy self-titled debut on Artistry Music, Smith and his dream team deliver a quintessentially L.A. sound - contemporary jazz with pop accessibility and a funky R&B edge - on infectious Smith originals like "Ultimate X," "Back in the Day" and the hard-grooving title track along with faithful covers of Stevie Wonder's "Boogie On Reggae Woman," Brian McKnight's romantic "What We Do Here" and Dan Siegel's bubbling romp "Alvinator." For a change of pace, Smith offers some gentle nylon string acoustic guitar work on the soothing "Gift," which features alluring wordless vocals and a stellar piano solo by Patrice Rushen, and also on "Agrigento," a tender ballad which he says "captures a little bit of Sicily but with an L.A. Beat."

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:57 AM

June 26, 2008

That’s (Playboy) Jazz! At The Hollywood Bowl

Photos and Text by Ricky Richardson

Ricky-and-Herman.jpgEvery June, people of all ages are known to yell, shout or scream four letter words without fear of reprisal. They don’t have to worry about being politically correct and they sure won’t suffer the ire/consternation of others. Grads, Dads and Jazz!!! What were you thinking?

Celebrating 30 years of electrifying performances, magical moments and extraordinary music, Playboy once again presented a world class roster of talent at the 30th Anniversary Jazz Festival, Saturday, June 14th and Sunday, June 15th at the famous Hollywood Bowl. As usual, festival organizers presented a variety of musical genres to satisfy the diverse taste of an equally diverse audience.

I had some errands to run on Saturday. Afterwards, I rushed over to the Bowl so that I could catch the opening act. The festivals always get underway each day by showcasing some remarkable high school jazz ensembles. The honor was bestowed on the Hamilton Academy of Music Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Dan Taguchi. They played about four jazz standards with “Blues In The Access Tooth” as one of my favorites.

The Press room backstage at the Bowl offers the Media contingents a respite from the heat in an air conditioned room. We were able to get a bite to eat courtesy of Festival LLC., compare notes after each performance and share stories of other recent concerts one has attended. The hot topic was the re-union tour of Return To Forever the night before at the Gibson Amphitheatre. The photographers were blessed to be in the presence of world renowned photographer Herman Leonard who was hanging out backstage in the Press room.

The Robert Glasper Trio - Robert Glasper - piano, Vincente Archer - bass and Jamire Williams - drums were unknown to me before the festival. This tight trio from New York left a lasting impression playing material from his previous CD’s Canvas and In My Element on the Blue Note Label. I found myself swaying to “FTB,” “Silly Rabbit,” and “Maiden Voyage/Everything In Its Rite Place.”

Bill-Cosby.jpgComedian Bill Cosby wore many hats at the festival. He served as Master of Ceremonies, 12th Bowl appearance as leader of “Cos of Good Music.” When he wasn’t laying down some serious licks on the drums, he could be seen conducting the band. They opened with a tune dedicated to the late great Jimmy McGriff featuring Jerry Peters - Hammond B-3 organ, and David T. Walker on guitar. Several tunes stood out during their set “Dear Lord,” “Lime House Light Blues,” and “Moanin.”

Another newcomer on the jazz scene is Hiromi (keyboards/piano) and her band SonicBloom featuring Tony Grey - bass, David Fiucynki - guitar and Martin Valihora on drums. She wowed the audience with her interpretation of “Caravan.”

James-Moody.jpgSaxophonist James Moody was the unofficial Elder Statesman of the festival. He is still delivering hard driving, hard bopping jazz all over the world. He had an All-Star group backing him on this gig, all who is leaders in their own right. Renee Rosnes - piano, Todd Coolman - bass, Adam Nussbaum - drums, and special guest Terrance Blanchard.

Sherry Maricle and The Diva Jazz Orchestra played a crowd pleasing set of original and some jazz standards for the small but loyal jazz purist in the crowd of 35,000 at the Hollywood Bowl. Their set featured many magical moments and was one of the highlights for the opening day of the festival.

Fans of smooth jazz were treated to a double serving with RnR - Rick Braun - trumpet and Richard Elliott - saxophones. The crowd were up and dancing throughout the Bowl to their smooth grooves.

Los Angeles favorite conguero Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band served up a potent mix of a pinch of R&B, a dab of soul, marinated with some Afro-Cuban jazz with guest vocalist Eddie Floyd. You can see novice as well as experienced dancers, dancing in the aisles.

Rick-and-Richard_08.jpgThe Playboy Jazz Festival is not the only ones celebrating a milestone. Tower of Power is celebrating their 40 Anniversary as well. The band continues to re-define “What Is Hip?” with their distinguished soulful sounds and their patented funky horn-driven music. People were dancing from the top of the Bowl (nosebleed section) all the way down to the exit as Tower of Power closed out the first day of the festival. Other highlights from day one consisted of wonderful entertainment of Dr. John and vocalist Al Jarreau.

Sunday, final day of the festival got under way with another top notched ensemble. View Park Prep Jazz Ensemble directed by Fernando Pullum. These kids were worth arriving early to the Bowl to see them perform. They performed “There’s The Rub,” “So What,” “Two Slip; Lose Lips,” “Meeting Place,” and got down and funky on this Father’s Day with “Father Funk.”

Ben Riley’s Monk Legacy Septet (piano less group) honored the legacy of Thelonious Monk on the following tunes “Brakes Sake,” “Bemsha Swing,” “Bright Mississippi”-based on the changes to “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “Epistrophy,” and “Ryhthm-A-Ning” from their latest CD Memories of T.

Vocalist Ryan Shaw was another newcomer to festival goers. People will not soon forget this dynamic singer as he rocked the Bowl with a set of rock, soul and R&B tunes from his debut CD This Is Ryan Shaw.

Another milestone was celebrated on Sunday. Ivan Lins - keyboards and piano with special guest Oscar Castro-Neves - guitar celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Bossa Nova music paying homage to Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Roy Hargrove Big Band provided me and the jazz purist a set of original straight ahead jazz with a lot of explosive energy. Vocalist Roberta Gambarini joined the band for a couple of songs.

Dee-Dee-Bridgewater.jpgDee Dee Bridgewater took the crowd on a wonderful journey. She sang and danced to songs from her latest CD Red Earth: A Malian Journey. She mesmerized the captivated the crowd by featuring musicians playing several African instruments (kora, and djembe) and also featured guest vocalist Yocouba Sissoko, Tamani, N’Goni, Mamani Keita, and Kabine Kouyate.

The 7th inning stretch was spiced up a bit with the appearance of Plena Libre from the enchanting island of Puerto Rico. They had very little of trouble keeping and holding the attention of the audience. Some people were busy texting their friend on their cell phones or blackberry’s to get the score of the NBA Finals match, Game 5 between the Lakers and the Celtics. The majority of the audience was busy dancing to the infectious Latin rhythms of plena and salsa of this exciting band.

Keb’ Mo’ kept the crowd up on their feet and in the party mood by playing a crowd pleasing set of feel good, uptempo blues. You felt like you were part of a tent revival as oppose to a jazz festival.

Herbie Hancock was the hands down crowd favorite of this year Playboy Jazz Festival. He delighted the crowd with some jazz from his extended catalog of LP’s/CD’s. His most recent is the 2008 Grammy Award winning CD River: The Joni Letters. The band was aided and abetted by the presence of Marcus Miller - bass, C-Minus - turntables, and The Debbie Allen Dance Academy.

Guitars and Saxes - Gerald Albright and Jessy J (saxophones), with Jeff Golub and Peter White (guitars) closed out the 30th Anniversary Playboy Jazz Festival with a fun set of smooth jazz grooves.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:26 AM

June 15, 2008

1st Annual Smooth Jazz Festival Bregenz - License To Chill

Goodbye James – hello Candy. Only a couple of weeks ago the Bregenz Festival Hall was under the motto “Quantum of Solace” – but soon that is going to be: Enjoy a “Quantum of smooth jazz”...

SJFestBregenz08.jpgNeusäß, 09.06.2008: While hot action scenes have rounded off the shooting programme for “Quantum of Solace” – the 22nd episode of the famous “My name is Bond”–special agent-saga - on the roof of the Bregenz Festival Hall, preparations for the just as promising 1st episode of a festival are in full swing: the 1st Annual Smooth Jazz Festival which is taking place here on the 20th and 30th of August. Not only does the smooth entertainment GmbH, Neusäß, provide the suitable background music for a shaken vodka martini with this event, but it also stages yet another world premiere in the studio theatre in Bregenz – and this mission is everything but secret. On the contrary: we are more than pleased to share all the news...

First Mission: What is Smooth Jazz?

The term “Smooth Jazz” is not one commonly used in this part of the world, so let’s start with a short definition: first: Smooth Jazz is not Jazz – or not only, at least. Secondly: Smooth Jazz is no muzak*!! But: Smooth Jazz is – a touch of Soul, a touch of RnB (not too much), a touch of Jazz, too. While wikipedia.de claims that Smooth Jazz is a variety of Jazz, we claim: Smooth Jazz is the play list of the “Cafe del Mar” – CDs. It is emotion. An attitude towards life which finds no echo in the mainstream–scores of the charts. It is chill-out music at its finest, but definitely with a light savoir-vivre- and laissez-faire-feeling at its heart. In the U.S and in Dubai the fans of this floating sound number millions already, prominent artists are e.g. Candy Dulfer, Sade, Carlos Santana, Simply Red, Nora Jones, Sting, but also the German band De Phazz with singer Pat Appleton.

Second Mission: Why Bregenz?

Smooth Jazz is casually cultivated lifestyle, paired with a dose of coolness, cultivated indulgence and culture – an ambience completely in line with the Bregenz Festival Hall. On the one hand a touch of “Casino Royale”, on the other a breeze of beach-feeling à la “Cafe del Mar”. Concerts with well-known artists will take place on both nights. The location: the studio theatre, the “rough diamond for events” of the Bregenz Festival Hall, set up as a multifunctional “Black Box” which will transform into a chilled-out party lounge on the occasion of the 1st Annual Smooth Jazz Festival. Moreover an outdoor lounge will be open to all – not only festival guests – from the afternoon.

Third Mission: Which Acts?

The Festival line-up sparkles with highlights: On the first night the Italian band Gabin will hit the stage with groovy beats. Then the American guitarist Chieli Minucci, who has already performed with artists like Jennifer Lopez and Anastacia, the saxophonist Marion Meadows, from the U.S. as well, and the Swiss-born pianist Alex Bugnon will take you away into the world of Smooth Jazz. De Phazz from Heidelberg is the closing climax of the first-night live acts, and will put the audience in the mood for the following after-show-party with elements of Dub, Jazz, Soul, Trip-Hop, Latin, Drum'n'Bass and Ambient; we have of course booked well-known clubbing-scene djs for both party nights.

The second night will be opened by De-Phazz-singer Pat Appleton with her own band, then big names in the world of Smooth Jazz, Peter White, Jaared plus Rocco Ventrella and Candy Dulfer, follow onto the stage. The saxophonist from the Netherlands has already performed with international stars like Prince, Beyonce, Aretha Franklin and Pink Floyd and will put the heat on the audience for the following after-show-party. On this weekend a visit to Bregenz will even be doubly rewarding: on both days of the Festival the Bregenz town fair takes place during daytime, which each year attracts 120.000 guests to a visit at the lake promenade.

More information at smoothjazzfestival.de

Posted by Peter Böhi at 3:10 PM

June 14, 2008

David Sanborn's Here And Gone Release August 12, 2008 On Decca Records Featuring Special Guests Eric Clapton, Sam Moore, Joss Stone And More

Here And Gone - the new record from the legendary David Sanborn - is set for release on Decca Records in the US, Tuesday, August 12, 2008.

DavidSanborn_Here&Gone.jpgHere And Gone is a tribute to the sound of Hank Crawford, David "Fathead" Newman, Ray Charles, etc. Backing Sanborn are Steve Gadd (drums) and Christian McBride (bass). Guests include Eric Clapton, Joss Stone, Sam Moore, Derek Trucks and Anthony Wilson.  Here And Gone was produced by yet another legend and longtime friend: Phil Ramone.
 
"Joss is a real phenomenon," Sanborn says. "It takes a forceful talent to take a song ["I Believe It to My Soul"] that Ray Charles not only wrote but really defined and put your own identity on it."
 
Sanborn, who has been friends with Eric Clapton for many years and a collaborator with him on several previous projects, asked Eric to play on Percy Mayfield's "I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town."
 
"Fortunately he agreed not only to sing on it but play on it! But he's got such a great understanding of what the music is about and the way it should be presented."
 
Sanborn's song selection - like "I've Got News For You" which features Sam Moore of Sam & Dave fame - gives the listener a glimpse to his sense of humor.
 
Sanborn, an unrivaled player who straddles the pop and jazz worlds while commanding respect in both, has worked with Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder and The Rolling Stones to name just a few. Remember David Bowie's "Young Americans" or the Saturday Night Live theme - that's Sanborn.
 
Night Music - his groundbreaking music television show on NBC - was produced by SNL's creator Lorne Michaels and featured a remarkably diverse guest artist list including Lou Reed, Sonic Youth, Sonny Rollins, the Pixies, Leonard Cohen and Al Green. Many of these episodes are on YouTube.
 
As a child, David had polio. His doctor suggested he play a wind instrument to improve his lung strength. His father took him to a basketball game in his hometown of St. Louis. Hank Crawford performed during halftime, Sanborn was inspired and immediately took up the sax - the rest is history.
 
Sanborn will tour later this summer in support of  Here And Gone.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:41 PM

May 28, 2008

UCLA Jazz Reggae Fest: Peace, Love and Music

Photos and Text by Ricky Richardson

JazzReggaeFest08.jpgBelieve it or not summer will be upon us soon. The season kicks into full swing each year with the UCLA Jazz Reggae Festival during Memorial Day Weekend, Sunday, May 25th and Monday, May 26th. One couldn’t tell that summer was fast approaching as evidence by the May Gray weather that we experienced lately. Nevertheless, over 30,000 people from all over California and beyond made their way to Westwood for the Jazz Reggae Festival. The UCLA Cultural Affairs Commission promised and delivered a weekend of Peace, Love and World Class Music.

Elliott-Deutsch-Big-Band.jpgLast year, I applauded the festival organizers for adding more jazz to the line-up since they introduced JAM Day on Sunday, which was previously called Jazz Day. Their gamble paid off handsomely once again with a line-up of jazz featuring Dr. Lonnie Smith, John Densmore and Tribal Jazz, Elliott Deutsch Big Band and The Brent Canter Trio. The Elliott Deutsch Big Band kicked off the festival with a swinging extravaganza of straight ahead jazz with his big band. Elliott Deutsch is a gifted trumpeter/arranger. Their set consisted of “Yeah, We Are Sleeping Together” based on the tune “Just Friends” (pun intended), “There Will Never Be Another Chet Baker” based on “There Will Never Be Another You” which featured Elliott Deutsch hitting some high notes on the trumpet that would make Jon Faddis beam with delight. The group concluded their all too brief set with “Cheek to Cheek” arranged by the leader of the group.

Lonnie-Smith.jpgLegendary musician Dr. Lonnie Smith was the other jazz band on the bill. The group consisted of Dr. Lonnie Smith on the Hammond B3 organ, Frank Potenza on guitar and Marvin “Smitty” Smith on drums. Dr. Lonnie Smith thrilled the audience with his version of “Freedom Jazz Dance,” and “Misty.” He scatted and grooved on “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” and “Baby, You Look Good To Me to the delight of the audience.

John-Densmore.jpgAnother legend graced the festival with his presence. John Densmore, drummer for The Doors brought a stellar group of international musicians together to form Tribal Jazz co-founded with saxophonist Art Ellis. The band featured two percussionists from Senegal, a bass player from Puerto Rico and another percussionist from Brazil. They performed a crowd pleasing set of original tunes that allowed the band members an extended solo. They closed out their set with “Riders On The Storm” spiced up with some hot Latin Rhythms.

Brent-Canter-Trio.jpgThe Brent Canter Trio is an upcoming jazz trio featuring Brent Canter on guitar, Eli Sanderson on Hammond B3 organ and Mark Banner on drums. They played material from their debut CD Soundscape with the following tunes “Sketches,” “It Is Written,” “Like A Star,” “While You Were Sleeping.” I look forward to hearing and seeing more from the Brent Canter Trio as well as the Elliott Deutsch Big Band in the near future. The members of these band graduated or will graduate from the world renowned Department of Ethnomusicology, Jazz Studies Division at UCLA. Sunday, Jam Day also showcased the sounds of Blue Lady, JP And the Ambassadors, Amos Lee, Elevaters with special guest Medusa, Immortal Technique, Goapele and The Roots.

The final day of the festival dished out an eclectic mix of world music with a strong emphasis on Reggae. The Pangea Collective with special guest bassist Baba Ken Okulolo (with King Sunny Ade’s band), guitarist Soji Odukogbe (Fela Kuti’s Band) and a colorful trio of dancers. The band paid homage to legends of Afro Beat movement made popular by Fela Kuti and King Sunny Ade. They superbly captured the energy and enthusiasm exhibited of the Afro Beat music of South Africa. The audience was enthralled with the infectious African rhythms as well as with the exciting dancers. Other highlights from Reggae Day were Arepa, Rebelution, Jah Mikey General, Umo Verde, Alaine, Mr. Vegas, Selena Serrano with DJ Papa Keith, Stephen Marley with Capleton closing out the festival.

Last year the Jazz Reggae Festival took the steps in the direction of becoming a no-waste, sustainable festival with eco-limos to transport the artist, tree give aways with sustainable resource area to educate festival goers on things that they can do to help save the environment. New for 2008 were one main stage and a second smaller stage powered by bio diesel and solar, electric and/or bio diesel vehicles, clearly marked recycled bins and several new educational environmental booths and a Led screen.

The 22nd Annual Jazz Reggae Festival at UCLA is the largest festival organized and run professionally by students. These courteous and professional students and delivered a quality weekend of Peace, Love and World Class Music, making this one of the most highly anticipate festivals on the West Coast.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:24 AM

May 25, 2008

5-Time Grammy Nominated Jazz Veteran David Benoit Pays Homage To Jazz, Rock & Pop Icons On New Peak Release Heroes

Heroes Features The Music Of Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Elton John And More

DavidBenoit_Heroes.jpgOn May 27, Peak Records will release Heroes, the latest album from five-time Grammy nominated pianist/composer arranger and producer David Benoit. Celebrating 30-plus years as a recording artist, Benoit puts fresh, exuberant spins on classic songs by legendary pop, rock and jazz artists whose brilliance inspired his own.
 
While paying homage to Jazz piano icons Dave Grusin, Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Horace Silver and Dave Brubeck, on Heroes he also lets fans in on an exciting little secret; he's an unabashed lover of pop and rock music who was equally influenced by the likes of The Beatles, Elton John, Michael Jackson & The Doors.
 
Benoit rediscovers his roots with a self-produced, 11-track collection that features his Steinway piano surrounded by the engaging ensemble work of his regular touring band: acoustic & electric bassist David Hughes, drummer Jamey Tate, percussionist Brad Dutz and special guest saxophonist Andy Suzuki.

“These songs are really a part of me and such a joy to play.” – David Benoit

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:49 PM

April 27, 2008

Jason Miles & DJ Logic Join Forces to Obliterate Borders on New Shanachie CD Global Noize

All-Star CD Serves Up An Intoxicating Brew of Jazz, Electronica Funk and World Music Featuring Some of Music's Most Creative Players:  Meshell Ndegeocello, Billy Martin (Medeski, Marin & Wood) , Vernon Reid (Living Colour), John Popper (Blues Traveler) Cyro Baptista (Herbie Hancock), Bernie Worrell (Talking Heads, Parliament Funk), Karl Denson (Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Lenny Kravtiz), Christian Scott & Others

The signs are everywhere: MTV launches a channel on the Arabian Television Network. African hip-hop groups mix the postures and style of American rappers with homegrown lyrical messages and M.I.A., a Sri Lankan refugee now living in Brooklyn, scores one of the year's most critically acclaimed albums - sound bites recorded around the world mixed in an electronica blender with hip hop beats. Multi-tasking cell phones, cheap lap tops, Kindle Ebooks, YouTube, internet radio, and of course the multifaceted internet itself, have engendered a cultural interchange of unprecedented scope and speed. Music, which resonates across every cultural barrier, leads the charge. The result is a grand "global noise," a spectacular sea of interchanging and mutating beats, sounds and melodies from all directions. It is precisely that reality that Jason Miles and DJ Logic set out to capture with their collaboration Global Noize. Keyboard extraordinaire Jason Miles, who has worked with everyone from Miles Davis and Luther Vandross to Ivan Lins, and Turntable guru DJ Logic, who has collaborated with diverse artists like Phish, Vernon Reid, ?uestlove and Don Byron, join forces on Global Noize to create a thrilling mix of free-wheeling tracks that take listeners on a wide-ranging journey through the minds of some of creative music's most innovative musicians such as Meshell Ndegeocello, Billy Martin (Medeski, Marin & Wood) , Vernon Reid (Living Color), John Popper (Blues Traveler), Cyro Baptista (Herbie Hancock), Bernie Worrell (Talking Heads, Parliament Funk), Karl Densen (Tiny Universe, Lenny Kravtiz).

"This is a special project as the world is a Global Noize and we need to come together in difficult times and great music has the power to do this," states Grammy Award-winning and Emmy nominated keyboardist, producer and composer Jason Miles. "The artists and musicians on the project represent a great diversity and this is what the world is really about. The beauty in this diversity is something that we all need to appreciate."
 
Global Noize is a project that has long been brewing in Jason Miles' mind but the idea was solidified when he got a call from friend his DJ Logic last year to join him for a performance at the Blue Note in NY. "On that day I had a horrible root canal and was mourning the loss of a close relative. I thought that this could be just the tonic I needed to pick myself up," recalls Miles. The night was exactly what Miles had hoped and from this experience he knew that he and Logic had a special connection.  The duo later worked together in Morocco at The Casablanca Jazz Festival and had the opportunity to venture off to Marrakech. Miles shares, "We went through life-altering experiences. It was so new to us - mysterious, crazy and another view of the world. We both knew we had to make this project happen. The picture on the CD cover of the both of us with the camel in the desert says it all!"
 
Global Noize is an organic, free-spirited sonic brew of some of the best elements of jazz, funk, electronica and world fusion – it is music without borders.
Miles says, "We started with Cyro Baptista and Billy Martin jamming in the studio and built up the tracks from there. Logic and I pooled our musical resources and had some of the best cutting-edge artists play on the record."  From the album's opening track, "A Jam 4 Joe" (dedicated to the late piano/keyboard wizard Joe Zawinul) to its concluding statements on "What I know," Global Noize takes listeners on a mind-bending, global adventure featuring all original compositions.
 
"A Jam 4 Joe" features Logic and Miles along with guitar wizard and founding member of Living Colour, guitarist Vernon Reid, musical chamelon and bass player Meshell Ndegeocello, percussion maestro Cyro Baptista and the stunning Indian vocal diva Falu.  The groove is relentless and is supercharged with magnetic energy. Bernie Worrell joins the mix on "Spice Island' playing the clavinet and organ. Worrell, who is best known for his contributions to George Clinton's Parliament Funk and The Talking Heads, lays down a serious funk heavy groove that reverberates throughout the track.  The slow-burning "The Souk" highlights Falu and Blues Traveler's John Popper on the Harmonica in a seductive dance with one another, along with percussionist Braheim. "We were lucky to get John Popper on a  day off in NYC," adds Miles. "He just kills on the ‘Souk!'" "Quera Dancar/I Wanna Dance With You" is a cool breezy Bossa Nova that beckons you to move your hips and dance to the music's delight along with Brazilian bombshell and chanteause Vanessa Fallabella, celebrated Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo and season jazz bassists James Genus.
 
Global Noize, which DJ Logic describes as "a hip and eclectic musical journey crossing all boundaries," further delights with such tracks as "Dar'abesque" (named after the villa Miles and Logic inhabited in Marrakech) featuring trumpet icon Herb Albert. "When I got the track back from Herb Alpert," confides Jason Miles, "I knew that any musician who had imagination and a great musical voice would love to be a part of this. Herb just really brought the track to life. "Bollyhood" is an ear catching trip-hoppy track showcasing the haunting vocals of Falu and "Planetery Beat" joins multi-instrumentalist Karl Denson and guitarist Dean Brown together for a soul jazz romp with killer break-beats and groovin' horn riffs. "Having Karl Denson involved with this album made us happy because we knew there would be great playing, brilliant horn arrangements as well as fantastic compositions all at the same time."  Christian Scott is showcased on "Exotic Thoughts," an ethereal meandering piece featuring the young hot trumpeter along with guitarist Carl Burnett and Tabla player Suphala while "Pool of Honey" is as sweet as its title with its uptempo swinging melody and feel good vibe featuring Burnett and Suphala once again along with Karl Denson on flute. "Christian Scott is one of the most exciting young artists on the scene," states Miles. "He really stepped up and showed  what a young cat at the beginning of his career has got going on."  "Spin Cycle," brings back a 70s funk flavor with its insatiable drum licks from Gene Lake and  "What I Know" features spoken word artists Aline Racine.
 
Jason Miles concludes "When I hear music I love I want to be involved with it. It would be boring for me to stay in one place musically so I love to explore different music. I know Miles Davis felt that way and I'm just trying to  keep the grooves hot, the melodies great and collaborate with the best  artists I know. Hopefully Logic and I will be bringing Global Noize to the world and show people our musical vision."
 
Global Noize will make its live debut this Spring. Don't miss the opportunity to catch this unique experience in a City near you!
 
Street Date: April 29, 2008
www.myspace.com/globalnoizejazz

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:12 PM

March 10, 2008

Three Decades of Jazz

Photos and Text By Ricky Richardson

View-Park-Prep-Jazz-Ensembl.jpgHollywood - This year will mark the 30th Anniversary of the Playboy Jazz Festival presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the historic Hollywood Bowl.

Organizers of the festival, aware of this milestone, went all out in announcing the line-up for the highly anticipated event of the summer.

The first order of business was to invite guests to the grounds of the Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills for the recent Press Conference. The guests consisted of media, Public Relations representatives, music industry representatives as well as musicians who will be performing at the Playboy Jazz Festival and at the free community concert series.

The View Park Prep Jazz Ensemble directed by Fernando Pullum provided some straight-ahead jazz standards to the delight of all in attendance.

The line-up was announced at the appropriate hour by Darlene Chan, Associate Producer, Playboy Jazz Festivals, and The Festival Network, LLC and Bill Cosby who will return to host the 30th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival.

Today, celebrating 30 years of electrifying performances, magical moments and extraordinary music, Playboy Jazz Festival will once again present a world class roster of talent at the 30th Anniversary Jazz Festival, Saturday, June 14th and Sunday, June 15th, at the world famous Hollywood Bowl.

Featuring renowned jazz greats, today’s top talents, and popular festival favorites, the two day affair will showcase the many variations of jazz to satisfy the various musical tastes of all in attendance.

Herbie,-Dee-Dee-and-Bill.jpgThis is the line-up for the 30th Anniversary Playboy Jazz Festival. Please note that this is not the order of appearance. 2008 Grammy Award Winner Herbie Hancock is the festival headliner who will be performing on Sunday evening.

Saturday-featured line-up will be Al Jarreau, Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band with special guest Eddie Floyd, The James Moody Quartet, Dr. John from New Orleans, the soulful sounds of Tower of Power, R n R featuring Rick Braun and Richard Elliott, Hiromi’s SonicBloom, Sherrie Maricle & The Diva Jazz Orchestra, Cos of Good Music with Ambrose Akinmusire, Dwayne Burno, Ndugu Chancler, Benny Green, Billy Harper, Jerry Peters and David T. Walker, Richard Glasper and The Hamilton High School Academy of Music Jazz Ensemble “A” under of the direction of Dan Taguchi.

Peter-and-Michael-Lington.jpgSunday-once again will feature Herbie Hancock and his band featuring Dave Holland, Vinnie Colaiuta, Chris Potter and Lionel Loueke, crowd favorite KEB’ MO’, Roy Hargrove Big Band, Guitar & Saxes featuring Gerald Albright, Jeff Golub, Jeff Lorber and Peter White, Dee Dee Bridgewater Red Earth: A Malian Journey, Ivan Lins with special guest Oscar Castro-Neves from Brazil, The Monk Legacy Septet featuring Ben Riley, Plena Libre a hot group from Puerto Rico, Ryan Shaw and The View Park Prep. Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Fernando Pullum.

The good news is that there is a couple of ways to order tickets for this year’s festival. You can go to the stack of Los Angeles Times newspapers that you haven’t read yet. Please retrieve the March 2nd ARTS & MUSIC Calendar Section, go to page F-5 for information about ordering tickets for the festival. New this year! Tickets will be available through Ticketmaster starting February 27, 2008. Patrons can purchase tickets online at www.ticketmaster.com, over the phone by calling (213)365-3500 or (714) 740-7878, and at any Ticketmaster outlets or by downloading a ticket order form at www.playboyjazzfestival.com. There is also a link to the Ticketmaster website on the Playboy Jazz Festival website. www.playboyjazzfestival.com. The bad news is that tickets are going really fast.

Festival goers can use Park & Ride shuttles to get to the Hollywood Bowl hassle free. Please call (323) 850-2000 for more information. Please call the Playboy Jazz Festival Hotline (310) 450-1173 for updates about the festival and the free community concert series.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:55 PM

February 28, 2008

Saxman Lerman is back on the prowl with Meow Baby

Album released to strong reviews as “No Ordinary Love” captures hearts at radio

If cats have nine lives, perhaps soul-groove saxophonist Danny Lerman is on his third. On February 26th he released his third album, Meow Baby, on Sugar Whiskey Records, his record label distributed by Lightyear Entertainment/EMI. Lerman’s mélange of accessible contemporary jazz, funk-da-fied R&B and shimmering pop melodies incorporates Latin, South African, Middle Eastern and World Music nuances that were inspired by his extensive travels and performances around the globe over the past decade.

Lerman co-wrote a dozen songs for Meow Baby and recorded two covers – John Lennon’s “Imagine,” featuring Howard Hewett’s caramelized vocals, and a sensual instrumental version of Sade’s “No Ordinary Love,” which is presently steaming up radio playlists. Appearing as a bonus track, “You Take My Breath Away” was originally released on Lerman’s top 20 debut disc, Danny’s Island. Drummer Tal Bergman (Rod Stewart, Billy Idol, Loreena McKennitt, Herb Alpert, Chaka Khan), who worked on Danny’s Island, returned to produce ten tracks in addition to providing exciting, exotic beats. Seminal urban jazz artist Norman Connors produced a few additional tracks. In the recording studio, Lerman’s lethal hit squad was locked and loaded with notorious musicians such as Randy Brecker, Hubert Laws, Paul Jackson Jr., Bobby Lyle, and Munyungo Jackson.

In anticipation of the album release, Lerman has been active on the concert trail over the past five weeks. He began in mid-January with a trio of Los Angeles-area concerts and continued with dates in the Midwest and West Coast. Earlier this month, Lerman performed the National Anthem before a Notre Dame ice hockey game in his hometown, South Bend, Indiana, which was a thrill for the still avid hockey player-turned-musician. On March 25th, he’ll perform the anthem before the Chicago Bulls NBA game at the United Center.   

The initial reaction to Meow Baby has been overwhelmingly positive. Here is a sampling of what some have written:

All Music Guide: “Lerman aggressively pursues his rhythms and grooves with the kind of musicality that has been championed by the like of Dave Koz, Jimmy Sommers and Eric Marienthal… With 15 compositions to lighten your mood, set a romantic theme, or just keep you chillin' to his contemporary saxophonics, Danny Lerman and his special guests have delivered a set that is as personal as a love song and as accessible as a sunny day on a tropical island.”

Baltimore Times: “The CD is very hot…The influences of the various countries can be heard on the album. The combinations of the sax, flute and trumpet, not to mention the guitar styles of Paul Jackson Jr. make for an excellent work of art.”

Reno Gazette-Journal: “Saxophonist Danny Lerman's approach to contemporary jazz is like a paleontological expedition, a layer cake that represents a variety of musical influences coalesced through his sensibilities… The cheeky track ‘Don't GoGo There’ features trumpet work by Brecker and is a prime example of how the song's inspirational DNA, the execution and production combined to provide a layered offering, dripping a buffet of styles…At the center of it all is Lerman's horn, a frequently mellifluous approach that can erupt into a growl -- rather than the meow referenced in the album title.”

Jazz Review: “There is a musicality that leaps off the disc and a degree of composition consistent with the best music currently heard on smooth jazz radio… There are a number of strong tracks on the disc. The opener, ‘Meow Baby,’ is a great composition in the new tradition of up-tempo and strong groove oriented music making the airwaves these days, and ‘The First Time’ floats as prettily as a sailboat on a calm sea.”

Smooth Jazz Therapy: “The pedigree of ‘Meow Baby’ is impeccable. Featured percussion from Munyungo Jackson plus production by Tal Bergman and Norman Connors all add to the quality yet, that said, this is very much Lerman’s project. He co-writes a dozen of the songs and, with sumptuous playing from beginning to end, is making a statement that Danny Lerman is all set to move into the upper echelon of smooth jazz saxophonists.”

N2Entertainment.net: “…Lerman shows he hasn't lost his groove or any signs of a sophomore slump… This isn't one of those CD's you'll be skipping around tracks as every single one is a sure-fire hit…”

Trish Hennessey of WSMJ-FM 104.3 Baltimore: “It's a breath of fresh air!" 

Additional information is available at www.dannylerman.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:48 PM

February 8, 2008

See & Hear Ken Navarro Record His New CD "The Grace Of Summer Light" Right Now!

Top charting & award winning contemporary jazz guitarist Ken Navarro has begun to record his next CD. The new CD is called The Grace of Summer Light. It includes 10 new songs and will be released May 5, 2008 exclusively at www.kennavarro.com followed by the national retail release on June 17, 2008.

There is an entire section at Ken's website devoted to following the creation and recording of his new music.

Included are audio previews as well as regular diary entries by Ken following the progress of his CD to its completion. There are also special offers for visitors to Ken's website to purchase the CD well in advance of the retail release date with extras only available when purchased at www.kennavarro.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 2:38 PM

February 6, 2008

Heads Up International Signs Contemporary Jazz Supergroup Fourplay

Quartet To Perform At 50th GRAMMY Awards After-Show Party On February 10th
 
Heads Up International, one of the world’s premier crossover jazz labels and a division of the Concord Music Group, today announced the signing of an exclusive recording agreement with Fourplay, the innovative quartet that has maintained a consistent presence on the cutting edge of contemporary jazz since their inception more than 15 years ago. Fourplay will make their Heads Up debut with a yet-to-be-titled album scheduled for release in summer 2008.

The band is scheduled to perform at an after-show party following the Grammy® Award ceremonies at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on “Grammy® Sunday,” February 10, 2008. Fourplay’s after-show performance is scheduled for the Jazz Lounge in the west hall of the Staples Center.

Fourplay, whose current lineup consists of keyboardist Bob James, bassist Nathan East, guitarist Larry Carlton and drummer Harvey Mason, has enjoyed consistent artistic and commercial success by grafting elements of R&B and pop to their unwavering jazz foundations. In a span of seventeen years and ten albums, the quartet has continued to explore the limitless dimensions and permutations of jazz while at the same time appealing to a broad mainstream audience.

“Fourplay has been a formidable and high-profile entity in contemporary jazz for almost two decades, with a track record of musical innovation that speaks for itself,” says Dave Love, President of Heads Up International. “Each artist in the band’s lineup is an immense talent in his own right, but the synergy of all four players adds up to an even greater whole. We’re very excited to have them on the Heads Up roster, and we’re very much looking forward to a great record this year.

Bob James, a founding member of the group, echoes Love’s optimism for a prolific partnership between band and label. “We’re very happy with the enthusiasm that’s been demonstrated by the Heads Up team,” says James. “It’s up to us now as a band to create music that will justify the excitement that everyone is feeling about this partnership. That’s a challenge that we take very seriously, but it’s a challenge that we welcome with every new record we make.”

Nathan East sees independent labels like Heads Up as the place to be, given the current record industry climate. “While the major labels are trying to keep the ‘record business’ alive, the indies are doing a better job at keeping the ‘music business’ alive. The independents seem to be able to offer a more hands-on approach than the majors, which is definitely a benefit to the artist.”

Harvey Mason agrees that the industry has entered an era where joining an independent label is a smart move: “Fourplay is very excited about the fresh opportunities that abound in these transitional times in the music industry,” he says. “We look forward to partnering with Heads Up as a means to build on the Fourplay brand which has proudly existed for twenty years.”

While the exact direction of Fourplay’s Heads Up debut has yet to be determined, Larry Carlton promises that the band’s maiden voyage with the label “will be a continuation in the growth of the Fourplay sound. We look forward to delivering the next chapter in the Fourplay story and having Heads Up deliver it to the world.”

“We’ve set a high standard for ourselves in almost two decades of making records together as Fourplay,” says East. “I look forward to making an adventurous, classy and soul-filled record that showcases our talents individually and collectively. Until the last note is played, it’s hard to predict the exact direction. That’s what we love about jazz – the improvisation that happens in the moment. That’s a concept that Heads Up completely understands.”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:39 PM

January 23, 2008

New series: Concerts at The Claremont

The Claremont Resort & Spa in Berkeley introduces the first of its quarterly Concerts at The Claremont series, Friday, February 22nd, featuring local jazz legend, Gerald Albright. Hosted in the historic Claremont Ballroom once graced by Tommy Dorsey and Louis Armstrong, tickets start at $150/per person and include an interactive dining experience. Ask about "…all that Jazz " accommodations package from $209. To inquire about this event, please call 800-551-7266 or visit www.claremontresort.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:09 AM

January 21, 2008

Matt Marshak at the CD101.9 Harvest Wine Festival & Upcoming New CD On the Rocks

By Val Vaccaro [photos by Bazpix]

MattMarshak002.jpgRight before the holiday season, there was a wonderful wine-tasting event sponsored by CD101.9FM (WQCD www.cd1019.com - the smooth jazz station for the New York City metropolitan area) at the upscale Hilton Short Hills hotel in New Jersey. Blake Lawrence, Programming Director for CD101.9 and Bill Zafiros the head of the festival, made the right choice when they selected Matt Marshak and his band to perform at the event. It was a perfect blend of music, atmosphere, wine and food in the beautifully decorated hotel ballroom. Part of the event’s proceeds were donated to a good cause, The Inter-Religious Fellowship for the Homeless (in New Jersey).

On Friday, November 9, 2007, guitarist Matt Marshak and his band played a fantastic show – which by audience demand, went for almost four hours (with some short breaks), from 7pm – about 11:30pm that night. Joining Marshak were two main band members, the very talented, versatile drummer Chris Marshak, the cool and funky keyboardist Tim Regusis (who has also worked with Patti Austin, Najee and Jonathan Butler) and special guest star bassist player Paul Ossola (who plays in the Saturday Night Live TV show band). Ossola played upright bass for this more formal, special occasion.

Like fine wine that gets better over time, guitarist Matt Marshak’s musical performances continue to venture into even more exciting and delightful territory. It’s great to see this special talented musician and composer evolve during the past four years since he first arrived on the smooth jazz scene in 2003 when he opened at Bryant Park in NYC for a Guitars & Saxes show as winner of a CD101.9 original music contest sponsored by Absolut Vodka. Since 2003, Marshak has opened for artists such as Bobby Caldwell, Peter White, Bob James, Wayman Tisdale, and Spyro-Gyra, and has shared the stages with artists such as Richard Bona, Kenny Garrett, Walter Beasley and many others.

As usual, Marshak was a gracious host, in good spirits, chatting with the audience between songs and he and the band did a wonderful show to a delighted audience. The recent Harvest Wine Festival show included lots of great original songs composed by Marshak, along with a bunch of fresh, fun and sometimes adventurous cover versions of many favorite smooth jazz and pop tune hits.

MattMarshak004.jpgThe band’s first set started off with two of Marshak’s catchy original tunes “Seduction” and “(I Will) Be With You” (from his CD This Time Around 2004). The band then glided into gear with a sweet-sounding, dreamy cover of “Sleepwalk,” with Marshak’s warm guitar tones filling the air of the elegant ballroom. (It was evident that Marshak has been inspired by one of his key guitar influences, Larry Carlton.)

They picked up the pace with a funky cover of “Coming Home Baby” (reminiscent of the late Zachary Breaux). From there, Marshak eased his way into “Quietly” a beautiful tune off his sophomore CD This Time Around (2004). Next up was a great cover of the uplifting “Breezin’” (George Benson’s tune), with an animated guitar solo by Marshak complemented by a bluesy, solo by Tim Regusis on piano.

MattMarshak006.jpgFrom there, with a cool intro featuring funky bass lines by Paul Ossola with great drums and cymbals by Chris Marshak, the band went into a surprising, terrific cover of Maxwell’s “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)” (a trademark song in shows for saxophonist Kirk Whalum). Whalum and Maxwell would both have appreciated Marshak’s wonderful take on the song, and Wes Montgomery would have enjoyed Matt’s flair with the double octave chords on guitar.

Marshak then transitioned into one of his memorable tunes that has garnered airplay on the radio, “Wind Chill Factor” a lush, warm melody on guitar, with Regusis, (who produced the tune on Marshak’s CD Groovosphere 2006) on spacey-sounding special keyboard effects. The song is somewhat reminiscent of Larry Carlton’s tune “Lazy Susan.” Marshak’s tune “Wind Chill Factor" was recently added into rotation in Cleveland at The Wave WNWV 107.3, and has gotten airplay at stations such as CD101.9FM in New York.

MattMarshak008.jpgAfter a short break, the second set kicked off with a funky cover of Grover Washington Jr.’s “Mister Magic” – another great choice featuring Marshak on guitar. Next up, Marshak and band played his original tune “Sanibel” which was a crowd favorite, as could be seen by the many smiling faces in the crowd.

"Sanibel” is an enchanting composition with combination tropical island flair/South-African vibe (written by Marshak with Bakithi Kumalo – bass player with the Paul Simon band, who has also worked with Marshak). Although Marshak didn’t do his usual special percussive finger-tapping during the bridge, “Sanibel” still has that magical sound. Marshak’s been playing this special song live for the past few years, and Sanibel finally has been recorded on Marshak’s new CD On the Rocks (being released in February 2008). From there, the joyful mood continued on with Marshak’s elated version of the uplifting “Affirmation” (a hit tune by George Benson, which was actually written by Jose Feliciano). Regusis did a fine job with a tasteful bluesy solo on keyboards. There were also some great drum solos and percussion by Chris Marshak.

From there, Marshak played guitar and did some smooth scatting on his original tune “Tell Me Why” (from his second CD This Time Around 2004). He ventured into the audience, playing guitar to select members of the crowd.

MattMarshak010.jpgBack on stage, Marshak delivered his moving, dramatic instrumental version of “Wonderful Tonight” (Eric Clapton’s tune), which is always a crowd-pleaser (and can also be found on Marshak’s CD This Time Around). After such focused intensity, it was time to get playful and pick up the tempo with a great version by Marshak of “Killer Joe” (Benny Golson's tune), supported by Ossola’s funky walking bass lines, Regusis’ extended organ solo, and Chris Marshak’s subtle, yet spectacular sounds on drums and percussion to perfect the upbeat, cool, jazzy mood. The audience was truly diggin’ it. The set ended with another fun Crusaders’ tune “Put It Where You Want It.” (which not by coincidence had Larry Carlton the original recording).

MattMarshak012.jpgAfter another short break, the band was back to entertain the crowd some more. Just when the audience might have thought it couldn’t have gotten any better, the show just kept going right on into overdrive. One very pleasant surprise was Marshak’s super-funky (a la Jimmy Nolen, James Brown’s guitarist on “I Got You, I Feel Good”) crowd-pleasing version of Prince’s tune “Kiss.” By the way, the song “Kiss” is a special treat on Marshak’s new CD On the Rocks (2008), featuring special guest saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa.

For an encore, almost four hours after the original set, the crowd was still hanging around after the wine event was wrapping up. Marshak introduced the last song this way, “we’re just about out of time, so we’re going to play a tune called “Nuthin’ But Time” (from Marshak’s debut CD Preservation 2003). It was a bluesy and satisfying way to end the show.

MattMarshak014.jpgPart of smooth jazz fans’ 2008 New Year’s resolutions should be to try to catch a Matt Marshak show and hear the new CD On the Rocks.

After the show, Marshak also gave out copies of CD’s of his latest single “Space Coastin’” from the new upcoming CD On the Rocks. Currently “Space Coastin'” is #1 at WGRV radio, and is #3 at Music Choice and is the first single from the upcoming CD On the Rocks. “Space Coastin’” includes special guest artists saxophonist David Mann and bassist Andre Berry.

Next up, Matt Marshak plans to debut to Triple A radio his vocal single "I'm On Fire," a cover of the Bruce Springsteen classic; Marshak’s CD also includes an instrumental cover of the same song. There are also a bunch of great new, original songs on the CD, including one called “Hangin’ at Humphrey’s” inspired by the San Diego club of the same name (on the Bay).

Another new original song on the upcoming CD On The Rocks is “Sierra Sunset”. “Sierra Sunset” is a beautiful tune Marshak was moved to write after he finished a show in Reno, Nevada last year, when as he says, “we drove through the incredible snowy Sierra peaks to California. This breathtaking, picturesque display of God's creations are ‘played about’ in this tune.” Currently, you can hear this song on http://www.myspace.com/matthewsblues. More information is at www.mattmarshak.com.

As an independent artist, Marshak’s CD’s are available for purchase: www.cdbaby.com/mattmarshak3 and for download at www.iTunes.com. There are links to hear some of Marshak’s tune from CDs and live performances at: http://www.myspace.com/matthewsblues.

Marshak’s songs have been played around the world on radio stations, and in the U.S., as well as on Rafe Gomez’ syndicated radio show The Groove Boutique (www.thegrooveboutique.com), and can be heard on the web at www.jazzlynx.com, and www.thegroove.org. (At Jazzlynx.com, Marshak’s upbeat, catchy original tune "Summerfunk" - produced by Billy Heller of the Rippingtons for Marshak - was the #6 Most Played Song of 2006, his CD Groovosphere was the #14 Album of 2006, and Marshak was the #11 Most Played Artist of 2006.)

In 2007, as an independent artist (on his own label), Marshak played about 50 shows across the U.S. in places like, New York, California, DC, North Carolina, Iowa, Florida, Nevada, as well as in music festivals in Europe (www.nuancegroup.com). In the past four years, he’s played at some of top smooth jazz festivals and venues in the U.S. (e.g., Capital Jazz Fest, Jazz Trax, Blues Alley, IMAC Theater, and more). Last fall, he opened for Joyce Cooling at Rancho Mirage, CA, and for the Sax Pack in Connecticut, and did a cruise ship gig in the Bahamas.

For 2008, so far tour dates include: February, 10, 2008, Corey Creek Vineyard/Winterfest, Southold, New York; March, 2, 2008, Bedell Cellars Vineyard, Cutchogue, New York; Feb. 23 2008, a benefit show in Winston Salem, NC; on June 13, 2008 a show for WDSJ Jazz on the Green in Carillion Park, Dayton OH, and August 15-17, 2008 at the Genuine Jazz Fest in Breckenridge, CO.

Stay tuned for for more information at www.MattMarshak.com, (http://www.allmightymusic.com), http://www.myspace.com/mattmarshak, www.myspace.com/matthewsblues and www.NuanceMusicGroup.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:17 PM

January 17, 2008

The Bee Gees’ Robin Gibb And Contemporary Rock Star David Gray to Perform Live at the Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival 2008!

RobinGibb.jpgChillout Productions Announces the dates for the 6th annual Skywards Dubai Jazz Festival featuring the all-time Bee Gees’ Robin Gibb to perform live on March 1st,, 2008 with a Medley of Jazz greats at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre.

The Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival is giving music fans plenty to sing about; and environs will reverberate with the sounds and rhythms of some of the world’s international greatest jazz performers.

Robin Gibb has been a principal member of one of the most celebrated songwriting teams and recording groups of all time who were noted for their versatile singing and songwriting producing hits over a two decade span: The Bee Gees.

From their early days in their native England to their childhood musical successes in Australia to their later status as world conquerors with their platinum Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, the Bee Gees have had more careers, and hit records, than any band. Prolific songwriters that they have been, this doesn't even take into account the numerous hits other artists have had with their songs.

For most of his life Robin Gibb legendary status, along with his brothers Barry and Maurice, has long been established worldwide.

Robin's trademark ethereal voice has been a key identity in the Bee Gees sound, and he molded his own musical identity with a number of solo releases, including the number one hits "Saved by the Bell" and "Juliet". Robin continuously develops new songs and ideas in his home studio, occasionally writing and producing for other artists, and adds his distinct vocals to selected projects, some of these for charities.

Robin was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2001/2002 New Year's Honors List, along with his brothers Maurice and Barry.

In November 2006, Robin released an album of Christmas carols called Robin Gibb - My Favourite Carols, backed by one of London choirs. The album also features a brand new song written by Robin called "Mother of Love", which was released in Europe as a download single.

The first of March 2008 will be a great date to remember, having the Bee Gees’ Robin Gibb performing for the first time in the Middle East and gulf region for a highly entertaining show thrilling his remarkable number of fans.

Anthony Younes, Managing Director of Chillout Productions, the founders and Organizers of the Dubai International Jazz Festival, said: “The yearly enthusiastic success of Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival, drives us strongly to bring together first-rate global performers like Robin Gibb”.

For its sixth year, the festival expands its profile of artists to include an outstanding additional performances and top talents blending in various music sensibilities which will be a trademark of the Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival 2008. Final line-up and details about participating artists are to be announced shortly with astonishing surprises and “WOW” news.

***********

DavidGray.jpgContemporary Rock Star David Gray To Perform Live In Dubai, On The Night Of February 29th At The Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival 2008!

The countdown has begun to the 6th Annual Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival 2008; the event that is easily going to surpass anything that has been seen or heard in Dubai Media City Amphitheater!

Don’t Miss the artist of a very different kind – Pop idol David Gray who is set to appear for the first time at the most popular event in the region “Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival” organized by Chillout Productions for the 6th year in a row. Gray’s show will be the show-of-attraction for a large audience.

“We try to cater for all music fans in the region, and with the presence of David Gray this year, we can assure that we are attending to the lovers of all types of music and guarantee that the festival will go beyond Jazz” said Anthony Younes, Managing Director of Chillout Productions, the founders and organizers of the Dubai International Jazz Festival.

Following on from the explosion in popularity during 1999, which was a year that witnessed David successful embark in the world of music; Gray has emerged as one of the finest singer-songwriters, capable of some truly emotional power-ballads in the style of tracks like "Babylon", his breakthrough success, "Sail Away", "Please Forgive Me", and "The Other Side". His voice is powerfully distinct-raw, passionate and at times affecting.

With White Ladder, Gray has sold more than six million copies worldwide and became one of the UK’s most popular and enduring artists. In Ireland, White Ladder remains the best-selling album of all-time.

He has also won a GQ Award for Best Solo Artist (2002), a Q Award for best single (2001) and has been nominated twice for best male at the Brit Awards. Such accolade is richly deserved, as Gray is fast becoming a national treasure.

Gray continues to write and record at his studio in north London, and expects to have a new album ready for release by fall 2008.

“With the valued support of our sponsors and partners, and the participation of music prodigies like David Gray, we look forward to have the Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival in 2008 a great success as it has always been throughout the years”, added Anthony Younis.

As ever, more news and details about the participating artists on the night of February 29th are to be announced successively.

Tickets are available now on www.boxofficeme.com and www.timeouttickets.com.
And starting January 15th, 2008 at all Virgin Megastores, Hallmark and Spinneys. For more details, please visit www.dubaijazzfest.com

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:24 PM

November 12, 2007

Brian Culbertson's A Soulful Christmas


Contemporary jazz favorite Brian Culbertson will bring his holiday show to audiences across the nation beginning on November 23.  Presented by AirTran Airways, Brian Culbertson's A Soulful Christmas features an all-star cast consisting of saxman Gerald Albright, vocalist Howard Hewett, guitarist Nick Colionne, and introducing vocalist Victoria White.

Audiences are guaranteed to be in the holiday spirit after experiencing Brian Culbertson's A Soulful Christmas.  In typical Brian Culbertson fashion, the show features uplifting and soulful performances of holiday favorites and tunes from Brian's holiday album A Soulful Christmas (in stores now).  In addition, Brian and his guests will play hits from their respective catalogues.

"I am thrilled to be taking A Soulful Christmas on the road for the second year in a row," said Culbertson. "I can't wait to share the stage with this talented group of musicians to celebrate the holiday season!"

Tour dates are as follows:

11/23   Indianapolis, IN            Music Mill
11/24   Chicago, IL                  Chicago Theatre
11/25   New York, NY              Town Hall
11/27   Alexandria, VA The Birchmere
11/28   Alexandria, VA The Birchmere
11/30   Toronto, ON                The Music Hall
12/1     New Haven, CT           Lyman Center for the Performing Arts
12/2     Collingswood, NJ        Scottish-Rite Auditorium
12/8     Sparks, NV                  Nugget-Celebrity Showroom Casino
12/9     Sacramento, CA         Crest Theater
12/11   San Diego, CA            Anthology
12/13   Phoenix, AZ                 Celebrity Theatre
12/14   Las Vegas, NV            Boulder Station Casino
12/15   Palm Desert, CA         McCallum Theatre
12/16   Anaheim, CA               The Grove of Anaheim
12/18   Los Angeles, CA         The Wilshire Theatre
12/20   Seattle, WA                 Paramount Theater
12/21   Portland, WA               Crystal Ballroom
12/22   Redwood City, CA      Fox Theatre

For the latest news and information, please visit www.asoulfulxmas.com or www.brianculbertson.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:32 PM

October 30, 2007

Gotcha! - Lerman returns with Meow Baby

Saxophonist back in the groove with February 26th album release
 
DannyLerman.jpgThe fact that the album title comes from a line from an episode of Kojak proves that saxophonist Danny Lerman knows how to have fun.  He also knows retro cool when he sees it.  Lerman took a page from the 1970s when recording his second album, Meow Baby, which will be released February 26th on Sugar Whiskey Records, his label distributed by Lightyear Entertainment/EMI.  He adopted old school sensibilities by utilizing live musicians and having a hand in writing all the new compositions for the disc.  Tal Bergman, who worked on Lerman’s debut album, produced ten songs on Meow Baby and a few tracks were produced by urban-jazz icon Norman Connors.  Radio programmers are already whetting their appetite for the CD with “Gotcha!,” a deep-pocketed groove that bursts into a chorus as sweet as one of Kojak’s Tootsie Pops. 
 
Since his last album release, Lerman traveled and performed around the world, including Turkey, Israel, Holland, South Africa, Venezuela and Mexico.  He brought influences and musicians from the countries he visited into the studio when recording Meow Baby.  While the tracks swing towards contemporary jazz, urban and adult pop, there are also traces of World Music, Middle Eastern, Latin and South African rhythms. The South Bend, Indiana native, who plays alto and soprano sax, recorded the majority of the collection in Los Angeles where he was joined by Randy Brecker, Hubert Laws, Howard Hewett, Paul Jackson Jr., Bobby Lyle, and Munyungo JacksonBergman, who played drums on records by Rod Stewart, Billy Idol, Loreena McKennitt, Herb Alpert, and Chaka Khan, was behind the kit on most of the album.

“Tal brought infectious rhythms that were both exciting and exotic.  His strong rhythmic influences made the tracks spicy,” explained Lerman.  “I wanted this record to be a glimpse into my world, including some of the friends that I’ve made in my travels.  I put both myself and the places I’ve been into the music.  There’s definitely variety on this record; you don’t know what’s coming next.  I’ve found some great players from all parts of the world and they brought their unique perspective to the album.”        
      
To help launch the album, Lerman has lined up a few concert dates in the Los Angeles area in mid-January with additional tour dates now being booked for the West Coast, Midwest and East Coast.  He’s an entertaining performer who has shared concert bills with Herbie Hancock, Sergio Mendes, Richard Elliot, David Benoit and Eric Marienthal.  When he’s off the road, Lerman occasionally performs free concerts in South Bend nursing homes.  He has a gig lined up next month at the Ronald McDonald House for seriously ill children and their parents.
 
Lerman recently inked a pact with Conn-Selmer for saxophones, which will include sponsorship, marketing and advertising support, clinics and special events. 
 
Making his debut with the album Danny’s Island, Lerman climbed into the top 20 on Radio & Records’ contemporary jazz chart and had a #1 single at Chicago’s top urban radio station, WGCI-FM.  The cut, “Take My Breath Away,” featuring R&B vocalist Danny Boy, appears on Meow Baby as a bonus track.  Additional information is available at www.dannylerman.com
 
Lerman’s Meow Baby is comprised of the following songs:
 
“Meow Baby”
“Summer In a Hummer”
“No Ordinary Love”
“Imagine”
“The First Time”
“No Words”
“South Beach Serenata”
“Snoopy’s Dance”
“Saxsultan”
“Amadeus’ Kiss”
“Don’t GoGo There”
“Baby Goes to Market”
“If Only”
“You Take My Breath Away”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:18 PM

October 27, 2007

Audio Caviar’s Transoceanic sails into record stores

Diverse CD from prodigious collective is an elegant sonic delicacy
 
For the first time in the United States, the complete 17-track debut album, Transoceanic, from the accomplished collective Audio Caviar was released last week (October 23) by Well-Oiled Records, a division of entertainment conglomerate The Machine Productions.  Group members Ralph Johnson and Morris Pleasure teamed with Marcel East (Fourplay, David Benoit, Bob James) to produce the sonic passport to an audacious audio adventure through an expansive array of soulful R&B, sophisticated contemporary and traditional jazz, and multicultural World Music.  Prefacing the album release, “Dominique,” featuring an exquisite piano melody embedded in a mid-tempo R&B groove and a dreamy chorus crooned by Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey, was serviced to radio where it is currently being added to playlists.           
 
Having proudly played a role in creating an enduring legacy as an original member of EWF, drummer-vocalist Johnson was hungry to forge a separate identity for his musical wanderlust.  Joined by former EWF musical director, keyboardist-bassist-flugelhorn player Pleasure and Danish guitarist Steen Kyed, Johnson envisioned recording an album as a traditional jazz trio.  But once inside the nurturing environs of recording studios in Copenhagen and Los Angeles, the compositions and recordings experienced a metamorphosis, blossoming into elaborate and substantive endeavors that brazenly push the boundaries.  Audio Caviar members had a hand in penning a dozen songs for Transoceanic, which was completed by songs written by Miles Davis (“All Blues”), Ivan Lins (“The Island”), Jonathan Butler (“Jodie”) and a trio of Danish songwriters (“Hookline”).  Lending their talents to the opus were George Duke, Howard Hewett, Dori Caymmi, Paulinho De Costa, EWF’s Verdine White, Al McKay (original EWF guitarist) and the EWF horn section.

Setting the stage with an inspirational interlude (“Transoceanic Prayer”), “Hookline” is an urban-jazz original anchored by Pleasure’s piano and embellished by a vocal chorus.  Kyed steps to the fore on “Now That I’ve Found You” and “Jodie” with heartfelt acoustic guitar leads.  The slamming “5th House” is a Latin fiesta along a shuffling, Cha-Cha rhythm.  After a couple interludes – the soothing trumpet-led “Serengeti Sunset” and the kinetic drum-work on “Eventually Live” – things get bluesy and jazzy on “All Blues.”  “Tel Aviv” is a challenging, erudite composition on which eclectic World Music stylings engage a prominent rhythm section comprised of a funky acoustic bass and a staccato drumbeat.  Butler’s African chanting makes “Legends Of Ratava” an interesting meditation.  Kyed’s gorgeous guitar interlude (“Sofie’s Theme”) leads right into “The Island,” a classy samba number spotlighting Caymmi’s haunting vocals and Duke’s intricate piano renderings.  The uplifting “Welcome” is a sparsely produced, sunny jaunt.  R&B vocalist Hewett pours his heart into song on “Love Comes In Time,” a timeless romantic ballad with a cinematic chorus.  Pleasure revisits the entire album on a solo piano sojourn called “Closing Prayer” that ties the collection together in a perfect bow.  A vocal version of “Hookline,” boasting Danish singer Daniel’s caramel growl serves as a bonus cut.                   
 
For Johnson, Audio Caviar is no whimsical side project.  Although he is still highly active with EWF, with whom he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he is fully committed to piloting Audio Caviar to success.  Johnson, along with Pleasure, a classically trained pianist who has toured and/or recorded with Janet Jackson, Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Roberta Flack, and Rachelle Ferrell, and Kyed, who is a member of the Danish band TAO, have begun writing material for the second Audio Caviar CD.  Additional information is available at www.themachineproductions.com

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:28 PM

October 20, 2007

Jazz At Drew - Good For Your Health

Photos and Text by Ricky Richardson

Malcolm-Jamal-Warner.jpgCharles R. Drew University & Honda presented the 17th Annual "Jazz At Drew" Legacy Music Series and Cultural Marketplace and Health Pavilion. This is one of Southern California's most popular music and charity events. This year featured another outstanding stellar line-up of jazz, gospel, R&B, and Latin jazz greats who performed on Saturday, October 6 and Sunday, October 7, 2007 in the grassy outdoor setting on the campus of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine & Science in Los Angeles.

The Drew University All-Stars got the festival under way. The All-Stars include University and hospital employees and friends. The audience was treated to an invigorating music performance by the group on the tunes "R.J. Song", "My Dreams", and "Stolen Moments."

The Locke High School 40th Anniversary Re-Union Band kept the momentum up and moving forward on "Straight No Chaser", "81" by Ron Carter, "Sister Sadie" by Horace Silver, and "Impressions" by John Coltrane." Vocalist Niomisha Wilson (aka-Nio Renee) performed "Inseparable" by Natalie Cole.

The Leimert Park All-Stars set opened with The Kabasa Drummers and Dancers. The All-Stars entertained the crowd with some original tunes.

Jose Rizo's Jazz on the Latin Side All-Stars with special guest guitarist Kenny Burrell served up a spicy set of Latin Jazz on "Baile Mi Gente" with a saxophone solo by Michael Sessions, "Yes or No" by Wayne Shorter, "Iron Man James"-written for the Master of Ceremonies James Janisse, "Caramba" by Lee Morgan, Ah Leu Cha" by Charlie Parker and concluded their set with a salsa tune "Mama Vieja."

Guitarist David T. Walker featuring Clarence McDonald - piano/organ, Byron Miller - bass, and Ndugu Chancler on drums were groovin' throughout their crowd pleasing set.

Bassist Malcolm-Jamal Warner & Miles Long captivated the crowd with some original spoken word/neo soul tunes. The highlights were "Sexy Lady" and "The Beat Don't Move Me Like It Used To Do' a sort of Dear John letter addressing the state of hip-hop and rap music.

Sheila-E.jpgSheila E. & The E Family Orchestra with Peter Michael heated up the festival grounds with some smokin' hot Latin jazz.

Popular Los Angels based Doo Wop group Renaissance and the group Lakeside rounded out entertainment for Saturday at Jazz At Drew.

The future of straight-ahead jazz and bebop are in good shape as witnessed by the superb performance of Dimitri Noble & Nobility featuring Mike Hunter, Kamasi Washington, Darryl Harris and Robert Turner and the Keschia Potter Quartet.

The Pan African Peoples Arkestra featuring many band members from the Leimert Park All-Stars. They had the audience undivided attention during their set. They performed "The Call", "Leno's Pad" - featuring a marvelous drum solo by 12 year old Mekala Sessions, "Donde Esta La Shay?" (Latin tinge tune written by Nate Morgan) and closed out their set with "Little Africa" proceeded by a poem recited by Kamau Daaood.

We had church at Jazz at Drew thanks to Gus Gil Gospel Hour. Dr. LaDoris McClaney - "An Angel to Many" served as Mistress of Ceremonies. Foot stomping, hand clapping, handkerchief waving entertainment was provided by The Soul Seekers and The Mighty Clouds of Joy. It was a delight to witness two spiritually uplifting gospel groups.

My straight ahead jazz palette was filled up once again with the dynamic musical performances of the following three groups. The Curtis Fuller Super Band featuring Nicolas Payton, Rene McLean, Carl Allen, Luke O' Reilly & Corcoran Holt, The Cedar Walton Quintet featuring Steve Turree, David Williams & special guest: Javon Jackson & Al Foster, and Hubert Laws performing "Moment's Notice", "Dat Dere", "What A Night" and concluded his set with "Land of Passion", and "Family" with vocalist Debra Laws.

The 17th Annual Jazz At Drew and The Charles R. Drew University presented a special enjoyable, elegant Sunday evening performance celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Music of Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions and The Music of Jerry Butler dedicated to Susan Kelly, PhD, FAPS (President & CEO, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine & Science). This spectacular evening featured The Rickey Minor Symphony Orchestra with special guest Jerry Butler who performed "For Your Precious Love", "Brand New Me", "Let It Be Me", and "Only The Strong Survive." The Impressions performed songs from the soundtrack to the 1960's non-violent civil rights movement "Amen", "Choice of Colors", "Keep on Pushing", "People Get Ready" and "This Is My Country."

What begin in 1991 with an audience of approximately 150 people, over the past few years has grown to accommodate some 10,000 jazz fans annually and raises much needed funds to support Drew University, the only historically Black Institution for graduate education in health profession west of the Mississippi.

"Jazz At Drew" has proven to be more than a celebration of music. Rather, it is due to the healing power of music that this event endeavors to build cultural bridges thru music, and to continue the University's mission to conduct education and research in the content of community service in order to train physicians and allied health professionals to provide care with excellence and compassion, especially to under served populations.

Already a pioneer in education and medicine, Drew University has also evolved into a cultural leader as a result of the prestigious "Jazz At Drew" event, which has historically honored the greats of the jazz world including James Moody, Nancy Wilson, Dionne Warwick, the late great Billy Higgins, the late great Joe Williams, and the late great Harry "Sweets" Edison. That tradition continues each year with an exciting line-up of internationally known jazz, gospel, blues, R&B, and Latin jazz performers headlining the two-day music festival, cultural marketplace and health faire in a sprawling garden on the University's 11 acre campus in the Watts-Willowbrook community.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:34 PM

October 17, 2007

Nu Groove Records - The Comeback Kid

NuGroove_Label.jpgIn January 2007, smooth jazz took a step "back to the future."  The legacy label Nu Groove records was re-launched after an almost 10-year hiatus.  Original founder David Chackler decided to revitalize the legendary label, re-acquiring the rights to the Nu Groove name from his prior partners who had acquired the company in 2004 from Chackler, and two years later shuttered it.

Originally the home of Michael Lington and Down to the Bone, Nu Groove had been the benchmark for aggressive, funky and genre bending smooth jazz.  David Chackler, in conjunction with Adam Levy (N coded Records), and the folks at Red\Sony Distribution, decided the industry was ripe for Nu Groove to rise again, and represent the progressive "edge" of smooth jazz, and urban adult music.

Amazingly enough in just a few short months, Nu Groove re-staked its claim on the smooth jazz market when newcomer Jay Soto hit the Top 10 in the R&R charts and received a host of stellar reviews.  The hard work of Nu Groove and Soto paid off when Brian Soergel in the Jazz Times proclaimed that Soto had "justifiably earned his way into the smooth jazz charts."

Nu Groove artists have continued to gain attention in both the States and Canada. Bassist Michael Manson has climbed up to the Top 30 and two Nu Groove artists have received a total of four nominations at the Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards.  Saxophonist Darren Rahn has been nominated as Wind Instrumentalist and Album of the Year.  Guitarist Dave Sereny was nominated as Guitarist of the Year and Album of the Year as well.

"I think it is incredible that in less than a year since the relaunch of Nu Groove that we have achieved such unprecedented success. It is a tribute to the staff here at the label, our partners at N Coded, and our distributor RED\Sony, and the "mind blowing talent" we have been able to acquire. In this short timespan we have already achieved Top 10 status with the Jay Soto release and the Top 30 with the new Michael Manson single.  With the recently released Bob Baldwin DVD, a developing roster of talent that includes genre hit maker Darren Rahn, and artists like J Dee, Dave Sereny, Dee Brown, Nate Harasim, and others, we are expecting 2008 to be an even more successful year," said Chackler.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:25 PM

October 12, 2007

Eric Marienthal - Just Around The Corner

EricMarienthal_Corner.jpg‘Just Around The Corner’ In Stores And Online Oct 16th 2007 On Peak Records

After over 20 years since first breaking onto the contemporary jazz scene as a member of Chick Corea’s Elektric Band, Eric Marienthal is a true global phenomenon. One of the most in-demand session musicians in Jazz, Marienthal has worked with a wide variety of pop superstars, including Elton John, Barbra Streisand, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick and Johnny Mathis.

On his latest solo effort Just Around The Corner, Marienthal’s passion and versatility shine with tracks such as “Times Square,” which features the keyboards and programming of co-writer Lu, and the old school ambience and synth echoes of “Flower Child”, which displays the melodic chemistry Marienthal shares with long-time collaborator Jeff Lorber.
 
“Just Around The Corner is a melody-driven, straightforward pop instrumental date that honestly reflects the musical groove I’m in right now” says Eric about the new release.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:53 PM

September 11, 2007

Weather Report's Joe Zawinul Dies

JoeZawinul_bw.jpgJoe Zawinul, a legendary jazz pioneer credited with bringing the electric piano and synthesizer into the jazz mainstream and who performed and recorded with Miles Davis, died early on Sept. 11 in Vienna, Austria, at age 75. Zawinul had been hospitalized since last month and had Merkel cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.

As a keyboardist, Zawinul performed on Davis’ "Bitches Brew" CD, among others, that helped usher in the era of electric jazz, along with Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. In 1970, he founded the band Weather Report, and in 1987 founded the Zawinul Syndicate. Zawinul is perhaps best-known worldwide for two songs he composed: “Birdland” and “Mercy Mercy Mercy.” The latter song is a favorite of smooth jazz performers. Those who have recorded it include Ramsey Lewis, Jeff Golub, Kenny G, BWB, Eric Marienthal and Kim Waters. Two new versions were unveiled this year – on Brian Bromberg’s “Downright Upright” and Paul Brown’s “White Sand.”

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:47 PM

September 5, 2007

Take a Sweet Drive to “Club Street” with guitarist Les Sabler September 25th

Diverse collection of soulful contemporary jazz sparkles with sterling production and stellar performances
 
For his fourth album, guitarist Les Sabler shifts into high gear on Sweet Drive, a scenic and expansive contemporary jazz, R&B and adult pop excursion scheduled for national release September 25th from The Music Force record label.  Riding shot gun is bassist Brian Bromberg, who produced the disc.  The album’s first radio sojourn will be “Club Street,” a kinetic electric guitar and sax thrill ride that alters its pace between mellow straightaways and careening downhills that goes for playlist adds September 10th.                

LesSabler_live.jpgSabler is serious and passionately committed to taking his music career to the next level.  As an independent label artist, he’s fully invested in himself.  To realize his vision for Sweet Drive, he astutely surrounded himself with some of the best musicians in contemporary jazz, including Brian Bromberg, Jeff Lorber, Eric Marienthal, Ricky Peterson, Vinnie Colaiuta, Alex Acuna, and Gary Meek.  Adding vibrant brass were Jerry Hey and the Seawind HornsRahsaan Patterson, Toni Scruggs and Richard Jackson season the tracks with soulful vocals.  The dozen songs consist of four covers and eight originals, including Sabler’s “Food Chain.”  From cut to cut, Sabler mixes tempos, sounds and styles, which are underscored by an array of guitar “voices” that range from cool-toned jazz and edgy electric rock fusion to gentle acoustic and vulnerable nylon-string guitar.  His ambitious goal was to challenge himself to elevate his artform while striving to emulate the lofty standards established in the vintage contemporary jazz records from the 1970’s that sparked his interest in becoming a musician.  Listeners are treated to an interesting, varied and cohesive body of music that achieves the artist’s agenda adeptly.
 
“This is an important record for me and I put everything into it.  There were no compromises,” said Sabler.  “I put a lot of thought into the song selection and trusted Brian (Bromberg) to guide my performances.  With the gifted players he assembled, it inspired me to bring my ‘A’ game.  The records and the artists that influenced me most were the ones from the mid-70s like early George Benson, Larry Carlton, and Lee Ritenour, who blended a variety of styles while balancing their (musical) chops with commercial accessibility.  That’s what I set out to accomplish on Sweet Drive.”           
 
Put a guitar into the hands of the mellow, soft-spoken Montreal, Quebec native and he comes alive.  To Sabler, making records is the necessary path one must tread in order to reach his true destination: playing guitar on center stage.  He already has a couple of local gigs lined up in October in his adopted hometown of Tampa, Florida to support the album release and he’s looking forward to adding more dates. 
 
After graduating as a jazz major from Concordia University, Sabler did his graduate studies at the prestigious University of Miami jazz department.  In 1989, he scored and produced an original soundtrack for the Canadian Television Network’s documentary, Lost Treasures of the Titanic.  Sabler’s recording career began the following year with the release of Hidden Treasures, which received attention from contemporary jazz and smooth jazz radio.  He released Time For Love in 1995, which also garnered radio play.  His 2003 debut for The Music Force/Sin-Drome, Bridge The Gap, spawned a #1 hit in Canada along with significant radio spins in the U.S.  Over the years, Sabler headlined and opened concerts for such notables as Jeff Lorber, Spyro Gyra, Richard Elliot, Michael Lington, Diane Schuur and Fattburger.  Additional information is available at www.lessabler.com.
 
Sabler’s Sweet Drive contains the following songs:
 
“You’ve Got It Bad Girl”
“Sweet Drive”
“Daydreaming”
“Club Street”
“Can You Stop The Rain”
“I’m Not The Same”
“Struttin’”
“Who Am I?”
“Twenty-two”
“Biggest Part Of Me”
“Food Chain”
“Could You Be”
“Daydreaming” (instrumental)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:34 PM

September 4, 2007

The 5th Annual BB Jazz Festival, Saturday, September 8, 2007

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

BBJazzLogo.jpgEnjoy a stellar line-up of great performers in Central Park’s beautiful and tranquil setting in Huntington Beach, CA. Performers include George Duke; Norman Brown’s Summer Storm featuring Norman Brown, Peabo Bryson, Marion Meadows and Jeff Lorber; Greg Adams; Michael Manson with Tom Braxton; Andrew Delano & Brian Simpson. DJ Jonathan Phillips will also be spinning the best contemporary music from smooth jazz to R&B and oldies.

GeorgeDuke_press.jpgIf you like being in the company of a sophisticated crowd that likes to have a good time then BB Jazz Festival is the place to be. Here, you can indulge in your pleasures of good food, drinks and friends while you party and support a good cause…..children with Autism. BB Jazz is not just another festival but a party with a purpose!

Platinum VIP: Experience the concert up close and personal in reserved table seating center of the stage. Indulge in a gastronomical delight prepared fresh by a local, celebrated chef with a hosted alcoholic and non-alcoholic bar. Enjoy an all-you-can- eat dinner and open bar from 4:00 – 8:00 pm. Waitress service is also available.

Gold VIP: Reserved seating, on both sides of the Platinum Table Seats close to the stage with an all you-can-eat dinner 4:00-8:00pm (bar not included).

Lawn Seating: Bring your own low-back chairs, blankets and picnic items. Relax in the open grassy areas beneath the shade trees. One personal bottle of water is allowed. No Styrofoam of any kind is allowed in the park by city ordinance.

Food, beverage and merchandise vendors will be on site and you can also purchase festival merchandise and artist cds.

When: Saturday, September 8, 2008
Where: Central Park, 7111 Talbert Ave., Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Box Office Opens at 9:00 am
Time: Gates open at 10:30 am, show starts at Noon w/continuous music until 9:00 pm
Costs: $45 lawn, $130 Gold VIP, $205 Platinum VIP
Venue: Outdoors, Park
Contact: BB Jazz at 714.377.7574, Betty@bbjazz.com or Corky@bbjazz.com,
Tickets: www.bbjazz.com

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: VIP patrons have exclusive use of the most spacious, beautifully appointed, and air-conditioned bathrooms.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:03 PM

August 31, 2007

JVC Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl sets a new standard for entertainment!

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Sunday, August 19, 2007, 6:00 pm – 10:15 pm, Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, CA

At precisely 6:00 pm on a typical 81° warm and sunny Sunday California afternoon, 94.7 the Wave’s morning host, and beloved radio personality, Pat Prescott, opened the 24th annual JVC Jazz Festival at the legendary Hollywood Bowl. The Bowl, as it is commonly referred to, sits facing a lovely backdrop of the beautiful Hollywood Hills and offers patrons choices to enjoy picnicking on the lovely lush grounds before the concert or during the concert in garden or terrace box seating, super seats and benches in a sprawling amphitheatre setting. The Bowl was bustling with over 14,000 picnic basket wielding patrons who arrived early to enjoy edible delicacies of all sorts presented on custom table-scapes accompanied by crisp linens, fresh flowers, candles, wine and other beverages. The Bowl is always a place filled with light chatter, laughter, and waves and hugs between old and new friends who make this outing a group affair.

The JVC Jazz Festival is a world-wide, 7-series production that includes the North Sea Jazz Festival, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; and the JVC Jazz Festivals in Chicago, IL; Newport, RI; Concord, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Paris France; and Warsaw, Poland. Produced by George Wein and sponsored by technology innovators, JVC, the highly popular JVC Los Angeles festival is the last JVC concert in the states for the year.

The three main acts were:


  • Summer Romance starring Jim Brickman and Michael Lington
    Jim Brickman, piano and vocals; Michael Lington, saxophone; Ricky Lawson, drums; Roberto Vally, bass; Kim Hansen, keyboards.
  • Earl Klugh and His Little Big Band
    Earl Klugh, guitar; Al Turner, bass; Ron Otis, drums; David Lee, keyboards; Al Duncan, keyboards, flugelhorn; Lenny Price, alto saxophone, wind synthesizer; Josie James, lead and background vocals; Lamont VanHook, Valerie Pinkston, background vocals; Dr. Jeff Jarvis, trumpet and Director of Jazz Studies at Cal State Univ. Long Beach; Dan Kaneyuki, tenor saxophone and student Cal State Long Beach; Mike Briones, trombone and student Cal State Long Beach.
  • Dave Koz and Friends At The Movies Summer Tour 2007 With Special Guests David Benoit, Phil Perry and introducing Kelly Sweet
    Dave Koz, saxophones; David Benoit, piano; Phil Perry, vocals; Kelly Sweet, vocals; Brian Simpson, Musical Director, keyboards; Steve Theard, drums, vocals; Bill Sharpe, bass, vocals; Randy Jacobs, guitar, vocals.

Composer, recording artist, radio personality and concert headliner Jim Brickman opened the show with the title song from his 2006 CD, Escape. The richly romantic piano instrumental had light Mediterranean overtones which on the CD are performed by smooth jazz guitarist Marc Antoine. Turning to his 2002 BMG/Windham Hills Recording, Valentine, Brickman performed the title song, “Valentine” and “Simple Things”, accompanied by saxophonist Michael Lington with Brickman adding soothing vocals.

Next, Denmark born, Michael Lington, took center stage with a passionate version of “All in Love is Fair” from his 2006 CD, A Song For You released by Rendezvous Records. Lington’s has the perfect combination of a rich saxophone sound and genuinely warm personality that allows him to make a seemingly effortless and instant bond with the audience. His three-song set included two top10 hits, “Pacifica” and the gotta clap, snap or shake tune, “Show Me”, both from his 2004 CD, Stay With Me. Rounding out the set, Brickman and Lington invited audience participation to accompany their combined rendition of Brickman’s “Partners In Crime”.

At 6:55 pm, while the weather was still holding above 75° and the sunset was still in the distance, Earl Klugh took the stage to a hearty round of applause. The Grammy winning acoustic guitar player began his nine-song, hour-long set with the instantly likeable up tempo “Move”, from his 1994 CD of the same title. Reaching even further back, 27 years earlier, which is older than at least a quarter of the of the fans in the audience, Klugh performed “Take it From the Top” which was originally released in 1983 on vinyl for Capital Records. Next, Josie James joined Klugh to deliver sultry vocals on “Now and Again” which Klugh recorded with Roberta Flack in 1999 on his Peculiar Situation CD. “Living Inside Your Love”, evoked an automatic, soft, sing-along response from the audience and ushered in an ultra mellow vibe. The switch to “Mobimeitos Del Alma” (Rhythms of the Soul) “, a deeply rhythmic jazz samba, was a foot tapping refreshing change in tempo. Returning to more classic Klugh, with” This Time”, Lamont Van Hook flawlessly carried the vocals for this tune that which was originally released as an instrumental and later recorded with lyrics written and sung by Al Jarreau. The set continued with a full-throttle opening of “Twinkle” which garnered the most applause, especially after a searing alto sax solo by Lenny Price, who strutted, trotted, skipped, fell to his knees and bent over backwards without missing a beat. Keeping the tempo on hyper, Klugh plunged into a hot and saucy tune titled “Dr Macumba” from his 1977 CD titled Finger Painting. This eleven-minute arrangement featured solos by Al Duncan on trombone; Ron Otis on drums and Al Turner on bass who slapped the guitar like it had stolen something. The final song, “Back in Central Park” was from Klugh’s 1983 Low Ride CD, chosen by Klugh as a reminder of his early years of playing in New York’s Central Park. The set included a diverse selection of numbers that all conveyed the very distinctly rich sound that has made Klugh a legend worth hearing whenever he’s in a nearby town. Klugh’s next US performances will be on 9/9/07 at the Liberty Jazz Festival in New Jersey City, New Jersey and on 10/27/07 at the Cerritos Performing Arts Center in Cerritos, CA where he will be performing with Brenda Russell.

Arriving on the stage about a half-hour past sunset at 8:09 pm, was the headlining act, Dave Koz and Friends At The Movies Summer Tour 2007 With Special Guests David Benoit, Phil Perry and introducing Kelly Sweet. The two-hour set featured 20 songs, showcasing the superb talents of each performer, including the “killer band” comprised of Brian Simpson, Musical Director, keyboards; Steve Theard, drums, vocals; Bill Sharpe, bass, vocals; and Randy Jacobs, guitar, vocals.

The opening number, “Give It Up” from Koz’ 2003 Saxophonic CD showed the choreographed footwork of Koz, Jacobs and Sharpe which ignited applause and whistles from the audience even before Koz jumped on the piano stool while both he and Benoit continued playing at a feverish pace. Other songs in the first hour included:


  • “Honey Dipped” (Koz, Saxophonic, 2003)

  • “Tender is the Night”, featured vocals by multi-octave vocalist, Phil Perry, who garnered the first standing ovation of the last set. The pairing of Koz and Perry on this summer tour reunited the two musicians after 17 years. The two last appeared on tour together when Koz was on his first tour promoting his Lucky Man CD on Capital Records in 1990.

  • “Beat Street” (David Benoit, 2006, Full Circle CD, Peak Records), featuring solos by Theard and Simpson and ended with Benoit and Simpson on dueling keys.

  • Dave Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo” brought Klugh back to the stage to perform a very swinging, traditional, bluesy jazz standard with Koz, Benoit , Sharpe and Theard taking alternate solos.

  • Next up was newcomer, 19-year old Kelly Sweet who has already performed over 500 concerts in the US, including gigs for Paul Simon, Kenny Loggings and Anita Baker. Sweet performed two songs, “Raincoat”: and “We Are One” from her acclaimed 2007 debut We Are One CD. This is Sweet’s first national tour. Her crisp, clean voice carries the sound of “experienced innocence”.

  • Phil Perry returned to not only sing Christopher Cross’ hit, “Ride Like the Wind” but he also showed his sense of humor and acting ability as he moved mockingly like he was riding in the wind. Perry clad in all white including a white straw hat, took turns matching his vocal scats with Jacobs’ scats on bass.

  • “Silverlining” ended the first hour.


The last hour of the show in the darkness of the night simulated the feel of being at the drive in as it began with a brief video clip introducing Dave Koz’ latest concept CD, At the Movies. On the CD Koz collaborates with guests India. Arie, Anita Baker, Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis, Donna Summer and Vanessa Williams and features eleven songs that were Oscar winners and four of them appear in the Top 10 of the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Top Movie Songs. Nearly each song was accompanied by props and/or background dancers who were perfectly costumed for each movie theme and never distracted from the well-delivered musical performances.

The final hour brought these musical performances:


  • “Time Goes By” from the movie Casablanca where Koz walked the perimeter of the stage clad in a in trench coat and hat playing a sax solo.

  • “Moon River” from the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s featured Perry and included another scatting competition between Perry and Jacobs on bass.

  • The Pink Panther from the movie of the same title.

  • Koz played an emotionally charged version of “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz, dedicated by to his mother, Audrey, who passed away two years ago right before the inaugural sailing of Koz’ first Dave Koz and Friends at Sea 7-day smooth jazz cruise. The stage lighting also carried the theme and was lit in five bright rainbow colors on the inside shell of the Bowl.

  • Benoit, who was presented with a white jacket, dark shades and a mock martini, by a “Bond-ese girl” was joined by Koz to perform the James Bond theme song, “Shaken Not Stirred”, which is also the title song of Benoit’s 1994 CD.

  • Next, Koz returned to the stage dressed like Austin Powers, accompanied by two dancers dressed in psychedelic print tops and boots. Staying completely in character, Koz asked the crowd, “Do I make you horny?” and the crowd erupted in laughter and cheers as Koz performed the “Austin Powers” theme song.

  • Bill Sharpe, dressed in a black, maxi leather coat, dark shades and a black beret took center stage to sing and perform Shaft to the sheer delight of the audience who in perfect unison performed the background vocals and chorus amidst smiles and shouts.

  • The classic “It Must Be You” made famous by the movie Tootsie starring Dustin Hoffman was performed by Perry to a spellbound audience. Perry’s commanding yet tender rendition was nothing short of mystical, spiritual and luminous. His evocative voice sent chills up and down my spine and brought the audience to their feet for the second standing ovation and was accompanied by wild screams and feverish applause.

  • “Car Wash” from the movie of the same name kept the audience on their feet but now they were dancing, smiling, singing and obviously reminiscing while the dancers on stage were clad in short-shorts, bikini tops and carried buckets and towels as they simulated washing down the set. Sweet, who returned to the stage, performed vocals and joined the fun with Koz doing “the bump”, an 80’s dance step.

When Koz, his special guests and the band left the stage after Car Wash, I felt it was the perfect ending to an unbelievably well executed concert. But, Koz proved me wrong and returned to the stage with his band to perform “I’ll Be There” made famous by the Jackson Five and recorded by Koz on his 1999 CD, The Dance. Koz, who was clearly emotional, thanked the crowd for their support and promised to “be there” for them and then turned to Simpson, Sharpe, Jacobs and Theard and had each play solos indicating their commitment to “be there” as well.

The audience, who was also full of emotion, was pushed over the top as Jacobs became possessed by his bass guitar and began rapidly spinning, swirling, falling to the ground collapsing backwards then jumping up and down doing air splits, followed by him playing the guitar between his knees in a very Jimmy Hendrix kind of fervor. And, if that wasn’t enough, Theard, the drummer who had been holding down the beat and quietly providing background vocals the entire concert, belted out a high pitch chorus that nearly made the audience run up on stage and grab him. It was a wild, pleasant and surprising ending that will be as memorable as the entire 4-hour concert.

My final thought is that Dave Koz is considered one of the smartest businessmen in the music industry because he never loses sight of the importance of the show side of show business.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 2:04 PM

August 30, 2007

Inglewood’s Fifth Annual South Bay Jazz Festival: Saturday, September 1, 2007: A Labor Day Weekend Tradition

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

JonathanButler_live.jpgIn California, there is no shortage of smooth jazz festivals with A-list artists performing. On any given weekend during the peak summer months, there’s some festival, concert or smooth jazz event worth attending. Although the Inglewood Jazz Festival, a.k.a Jazz in the Park, cannot rival the attendance at mega festivals that have 2-10,000 people in attendance, it certainly meets and exceeds what avid smooth jazz fans value.

Here’s what you get at Jazz in the Park:


  • An awesome, A-list, artist line-up: Jonathan Butler, Down to the Bone featuring Shilts, Pete Escovedo’s Latin Orchestra, and Loose Ends.
  • All entertainment on one stage so you don’t miss anything or have to trek from one spot to another.
  • Easy, convenient and inexpensive self parking or quick, efficient and FREE shuttle bus transportation from nearby lots.
  • Fast and easy entry without having to stand in line ten hours in advance.
  • Reasonably priced tickets with a great view from any of the seating choices.
  • Grassy, manicured lawns and paved paths (so ladies you can wear any type of shoes you choose from sandals to heels). Plus, big shade trees to help beat the heat.
  • Regular “brick and mortar” bathrooms in addition to porta-johns.
  • Great vendors for shopping, food and beverages that are just steps away…not around the corner and down the bend.
  • An Artists’ “meet and greet” Corner where you can purchase cd’s and get your favorite memorabilia autographed.
  • Another great plus for families, groups, friends, couples or individuals:
  • Prepare, pack and bring your own picnic baskets with your favorite “eats and treats”. However, personal bottles of water are the only beverages allowed.

Pete_Escovedo.jpgWhen: Saturday, September 1, 2008
Where: Ed Vincent Park, 700 Warren Lane, Inglewood, CA, 90303
Time: Gates open at 11:00 am, show starts at 1:00 pm
Costs: $38 lawn, $58 open orchestra, $88 table seating for 8 with
umbrellas, $118 VIP seating within the first two rows of the stage and
catered lunch backstage.
Venue: Outdoors, Park
Contact: South Bay Entertainment Group, 310.671.6400
Tickets: www.inglewoodtickets.com, 310.671.6400, 310.419.4504 or
purchase and print your own tickets at www.southbayent.com,


The Jazz Gypsy Tip: This venue is accessible for persons with disabilities… call ahead for any special needs.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:26 PM

August 29, 2007

Brian Culbertson Just Added To The Super Cruise

By the Jazz Gypsy

SuperCruise2.jpgOctober 14-19, 2007, Baltimore, MD to Bermuda
Royal Caribbean, Grandeur of the Seas
www.capitaljazz.com/supercruise/ or call 310.972.4547

A smooth jazz cruise is a jazz lover’s paradise! You can’t beat a vacation at sea rubbing elbows with the best performers in the industry that will provide nearly round the clock entertainment: Brian Culbertson, Boney James, Kim Waters, Maysa, Alex Bugnon, Pieces of a Dream, Down to the Bone, Lalah Hathaway, Ledisi, Ken Ford, Spur of the Moment, and Plunky. Add in the special entertainment: Sinbad & WHUR’s Audrey Chapman, plus the ports, activities and amenities on the ship and you’ve got the makings of a vacation of a lifetime.

The full ship chartered, 2,446 passenger luxury liner has less than 150 cabins remaining at very affordable prices. For cabin availability and information go to www.capitaljazz.com/supercruise/ or call Debbie at 301.972.4547.

The Super Cruise is presented by the Capital Jazz Fest which celebrated their 15th year in 2007. Guitarist, Chuck Loeb, calls The Capital Jazz Fest “the Woodstock of jazz festivals” because tens of thousands of music lovers make an annual pilgrimage to the Merriweather Post Pavilion, located in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. to experience a three-day roster of only the top smooth and contemporary jazz artists. Attended by everyone that considers their selves to be devoted smooth jazz fans, the Capital Jazz Fest is a “not-to-be-missed” festival.

Dates for 2008 are set for June 6-8.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: VIP tickets go on sale early so sign-up for their mailing list to get advance notification and information on their line-up at www.capitaljazz.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:35 PM

August 28, 2007

Time for R n R: soul-jazz stars Rick Braun & Richard Elliot unite for funky, horn-powered duet album

Album hits stores as the title track is poised to go #1 on the radio chart
 
Rick-and-Richard.jpgThe mercury continues to rise from coast to coast as the nation has been hit this summer by a sizzling wave of funk and contemporary jazz courtesy of two of the hottest horn men in the game: trumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Richard ElliotR n R, the album of duets by the luminaries who combined have released 24 albums and are capable of fully stocking a jukebox with their chart-topping hits, arrives in record stores today from the ARTizen Music Group record label with the promise of keeping the party grooving through next summer.  The first radio single, the indelible title track that sounds both vintage and fresh, is top 3 and set to pounce on the #1 spot.  Braun and Elliot wrote and produced the dozen original funk, R&B, contemporary jazz and pop songs that comprise what is certain to standout as the album event of the year in the genre.

The highly-anticipated collaboration between Braun and Elliot has been brewing for over a decade.  Over the years, they’ve toured together and have made appearances on each other’s albums.  Three years ago, they partnered with a couple of music industry veterans to create the ARTizen Music Group.  It then became a question of “when.”  The stars finally aligned earlier this year when the duo entered Braun’s studio to record without any preconceived ideas.  They gathered grooves from a variety of sources, such as Jeff Lorber, Rex Rideout and Philippe Saisse, and wrote the melodies as they recorded, which was a unique process for them.  Braun and Elliot were backed by a talented collective consisting of Chris Standring, Dwight Sills, Gregg Karukas, Lenny Castro, Ricky Lawson and Nate Phillips.  The result is an album rich with spontaneity that exudes the raw, dynamic energy of a live performance.                
 
To help launch the album at retail, Braun and Elliot will be at Borders stores in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, DC on September 4th & 5th to perform a short set and sign CDs.  Braun and Elliot have spent much of the spring and summer co-headlining the perennially successful Jazz Attack concert tour with Jonathan Butler and Peter White, which helped whet fans’ appetites for the new disc.  Jazz Attack dates continue through the fall and in between, Braun and Elliot are out individually headlining concert dates with their own bands.        
 
Although the album was just unveiled, critics are already hailing R n R.  Soul Tracks declared, “This masterwork of comfortable grooves show(s) conclusively why these are among the gurus of the smooth jazz genre.”  All Music Guide stated, “The music…flows from their collective musical minds like a natural extension with the same elements of spontaneity, soul, and sex appeal.  Each tune is based on a particular rhythmical feel or texture: shuffle, boogaloo, Latin, funk, even 20th century cool and bebop colors… With great performances emanating from both Braun and Elliot,
R n R is exciting and lively, yet warm, sexy, and mellow.  It is in this experimental way that you begin to grasp the depth of their combined signature sounds and the impact it will have on their devoted and new fans alike.  Highly recommended.”  Smooth Jazz Vibes wrote, “R n R is a feisty collection of horn driven grooves that checks all the right boxes and which is enhanced by a stellar line-up of guest musicians…Succulent, zesty numbers abound and this is typified both by the title track and with ‘Curve Ball’ where Elliot and Braun give each other the space in which to individually shine while still coming together to generate what is in every respect a veritable horn fest.”  Urban Network said, “The gentlemen have teamed this year for a soulful duo project featuring the first single/title track ‘R n R,’ which sounds like something the legendary Adderley Brothers might have thrown down in 2007.  The duo wax dark and mysterious on the other highlights: ‘Sweet Somethin’,’ ‘The Stranger’ and ‘Down and Dirty.’  Also impressive is the tricky appropriately titled ‘Curve Ball.’” Jazz Review opened by asking, “Could one expect anything less than perfection from two of the most colossal and prolific names in all of smooth jazz?...this is one album that proves to be worthy of all the accolades it will surely receive.  It proves yet again that those at the top of their game are there for a very, very good reason.”
 
Additional information is available at www.artizenmusic.com, www.rickbraun.com and www.richardelliot.com

Posted by Peter Böhi at 11:03 AM

August 24, 2007

The 1st Annual Inland Empire Jazz Festival is scheduled for August 24, 25, & 26, 2007

Written by The Jazz Gypsy
 
BrianCulbertson_bw.jpgThe 3-day Jazz Festival features host jazz great Brian Culbertson and co-host film star Vivica A. Fox and guest Steve Cole.  Culbertson, and Cole will perform along with Gerald Albright, Paul Jackson, Jr., A. Ray Fuller, Cal Bennett, Jackiem Joyner, Jeanette Harris, Impromp2, Michael Ward, LA Mambo Combo, Jazz Junkies, Derrick Edmunson, Panther and Aaron Fetcher.   
 
In addition to the jazz concert on Saturday and Sunday, there will be a student jazz competition on Friday, an art walk, carnival, vintage car exhibition and activities for persons with disabilities and their families.  The festival is also one of a kind in presenting a range of jazz styles including New Orleans, Dixieland, Bebop, Mainstream Jazz Fusion, Free Funk and Smooth Jazz.
 
This charity event, presented by Operation REAPP & SEBA, will benefit local charities that work with persons with disabilities and at-risk youths.  The dates and times are Friday, August 24th from 11:00 am – 9:00 pm, Saturday, August 25, from 11:00 am – 10:00 pm and Sunday, August 26, 2007 from 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm. 
 
The entire Festival will be held at the 150-acre Cucamonga-Guasti Regional Park which features a fishing lake, children’s play area and plenty of family activities that enhance the experience of relaxation, fun and music.  The park is located at 800 N. Archibald Ave., Ontario, CA 91764.  Discounted tickets are now available by calling  909.941.5920 or go to www.inlandempirejazzfestival.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:20 PM

August 17, 2007

Long Beach Jazz Festival 2007 - Hot Summer Jazz Festival

Photo and Text By Ricky Richardson

Long Beach - For two decades the Long Beach Jazz Festival has been showcasing the best in jazz, R&B, and smooth jazz as the premier jazz festival in Southern California.

To mark the 20th Anniversary of the festival, founder Al Williams delivered as promised to pull out all the stops. Highlights for this year’s festival included a nightly fireworks show with performances by some of the best and brightest in the jazz, smooth jazz and R&B genres. The festival debuted the inaugural "Long Beach Jazz Festival Lifetime Achievement Award" and the "Al Williams Jazz Heritage Award".

For the first time, an additional stage was set up in the pavilion area to showcase local talent.

Friday night - Pastor Raymond LeBlanc of First Lutheran Church of Long Beach said the opening prayer to officially get the festival underway. Reggie Harrison - Long Beach City Manager, presented Al Williams a Proclamation on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Long Beach Jazz Festival.

Jazz-Legends-Awards.jpgThe Gerald Wilson Orchestra came out swinging hard with some straight ahead jazz. Gerald featured most of the band as featured soloist. The band opened with "Blues For The Count" featuring Brian O’Rourke in the piano chair. Gerald received two Grammy nominations one for the song "Romance" - (Best Instrumental Composition) and a Grammy nomination for the CD Theme for Monterey (Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance). Saxophonist Scott Mayo was the featured soloist. The band also played a tune by Miles Davis that they helped to popularize "Milestones" featuring the saxophone section - Kimasi Washington, Carl Randall, Randall Willis, Scott Mayo, Luis Van Taylor and Jack Nemis. They closed their set with "Blues For Yna Yna."

The Long Beach Jazz Festival presented Gerald Wilson with its inaugural "Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the jazz world. Another award was presented to Howard Rumsey. Mr. Rumsey received the "Al Williams Jazz Heritage Award" for his contribution to the west coast jazz club scene for his clubs Concerts By The Sea (Redondo Beach, California) and the world famous Lighthouse Jazz Club in Hermosa Beach, California.

The second half of the program featured Dianne Schuur (vocals, piano). Deedles as she is fondly called captivated the audience with her charm, sense of humor and most importantly of all-her high reaching vocal octaves. She opened her set with a name sake tune "Deedles Blues" arranged by Frank Foster of The Count Basie Orchestra. Ms. Shuur continued with "I’m Traveling Light", "We Will Be Together Again", she sang "Save Your Love" with her husband by her side, finished her set with "Everyday I Have The Blues", "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Besame Mucho".

Warren Hill and Guitar & Saxes featuring Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, Jeff Golub, and Tim Bowman closed out the festival on Friday night.

Saturday - The Long Beach Jazz Festival organizers continued the tradition of having The Jazz Search Winners be the opening act for the final two days of the festival. Phinnie O’Leary Jackson a vocalist with lots of potential was the winner of the vocal section of the competition. Look out for her debut CD - Phinnally Phinnie in early 2008.

Eric Darius who has toured extensively with various smooth jazz artists is finally the leader of his own group. The title of his latest CD - Just Getting Started - is an appropriate title in that Eric is letting the smooth jazz community know that he plans on being around for the long haul. Eric performance was my favorite of Saturday afternoon. Eric and his tight band had people up and dancing on "Groove On", "Joy Ride", "Love TKO", "Chillin Out", "Let’s Stay Together", "If I Ain’t Got You" by Alicia Keys when he ventured out into the crowd to serenade several lucky women. He continued his crowd pleasing set with "Slick", "Back At Cha", "Steppin Up", and concluded with "Night On The Town."

Jody-Watley-and-Everette-Ha.jpgSoul Express featuring a couple of original tunes by guitarist Chris Standring, followed by saxophonist Everette Harp. They concluded their set with an appearance by Jody Watley. She took the crowd down memory lane with some hits from the past - "Looking For A New Love", "Still A Thrill", "Your Love Keep Working on Me", "Borderline" and concluded with "Real Love."

Vocalist Leela James came out performing a high energy set of R&B tunes before she slowed the tempo with some original tunes from her debut CD - A Change Is Gonna Come. Leela James is a small woman with a gutsy voice who entertained the crowd with some soul/neo-soul tunes.

1 + One featuring Ndugu Chancler and Patrice Rushen and Jazz Attack consisted of Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler, Richard Elliott and Peter White were other artists contributing to the success of Saturday’s program.

Sunday, the festival opened with a nice set by The George Lesiw Band. They performed material from their debut CD - Anuta Was Here that reflects the tradition of improvisional jazz mixed with fusion and "rockin’ blues." This tight band from New England has a loyal following on the East Coast. The tight trio features George Lesiw - electric guitar, Preston Murphy - acoustic bass and Gil Hawkins Jr., - drums.

Jazz-Society.jpgAl Williams Jazz Society played some straight ahead jazz to the delight of the jazz purist in the crowd. Barbara Morrison - a popular jazz and blues vocalist captivated the crowd with "Summertime", "Endangered Species", and "Down Home Blues", and finished another crowd pleasing set with "They Call Me Sundown." In between songs, she kept the crowd in stitches with a couple of hilarious jokes.

The final day of the festival could have been labeled Sax Attack in three parts. Part 1 featured Ronnie Laws followed by - Part 2 - a high octane set from the Sax Attack (Steve Cole, Kim Waters and Jeff Kashiwa) and finally, Part 3 - a set by Najee.

Vocalist Lalah Hathaway the daughter of the late great vocalist Donny Hathaway was also popular with the crowd.

The festival wouldn’t be complete without an explosive hot Latin jazz and salsa set by conguero Pancho Sanchez, a perennial crowd favorite.

The festival concluded with some fireworks.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 12:00 PM

August 14, 2007

Jeff Kashiwa's Play Debuts At #2 On Billboard's Contemporary Jazz Chart

Play, the brand new CD from contemporary jazz saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa, has debuted at #2 on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz Chart.  The album, which features over a dozen great tracks, was released July 31 on Native Language Music.  Play is Kashiwa's fourth outing for the label. The Seattle native is out on the road now in support of this release. Dates, venues, and cities are listed below.

One of the most diverse sax players in all of contemporary jazz, Jeff Kashiwa established himself as a dynamic live saxophonist during his amazing decade-long tenure with The Rippingtons. Kashiwa used some of his down time from the group to lay the foundation for his solo career, which has included five previous albums and a #1 hit on the Radio & Records chart with "Hyde Park (The Aah, Ooh Song)."

At the emotional core of his new CD Play are the eight Kashiwa-produced tracks recorded live at Sounden Studios with his band Coastal Access. In addition to longtime members Allen Hinds (guitar), Melvin Davis (bass) and Dave Hooper (drums), the saxman brought in legendary Yellowjackets keyboardist Russell Ferrante to play sparkling acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes, along with famed percussionist Lenny Castro.

Coastal Access is the ensemble appearing on Play's first single, the sizzling retro soul-flavored funk jam "Forever." The fiery track is already getting a great response from NAC radio.  Some of Play's other songs include the exotic, reggae-tinged "Blue Jeans"; the sensuous "New View," and a lush ballad, "Fall." The adventurous "Way Out West" features drum programming by Kashiwa's Native Language labelmates  Four80East. "The songs cover a lot of stylistic territory, from funky pop to more classic traditional jazz," said Kashiwa. "They're all part of my new definition of ‘play' - to be free, to engage in joyful activity. We just got in the studio and said, let's play. Let's really play!"


8/11/2007
Norfolk Jazz Festival
Norfolk, VA

8/12/2007
Long Beach Jazz Festival
Long Beach
The Sax Pack

8/16/2007
Scullers
Boston
The Rippingtons Reunion Band

8/17/2007
Scullers
Boston
The Rippingtons Reunion Band

8/18/2007
Scullers
Boston
The Rippingtons Reunion Band

8/23/2007
Blue Jay Jazz Festival
Blue Jay, CA
Coastal Access

8/24/2007
Chastain Park
Atlanta
The Rippingtons Reunion Band

8/25/2007
Icicle Ridge Winery
Leavenworth, WA
The Northwest All Star Band

8/31/2007
Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club
Jackson Hole

9/14/2007
Hyatt Newporter
Newport Beach
The Rippingtons Reunion Band

9/15/2007
Mablehouse-Barnes Amphitheater
Mableton
The Sax Pack

9/16/2007
Thornton Winery
Temecula
The Rippingtons Reunion Band

9/21/2007
Sheraton Reading Hotel
Reading
Coastal Access

9/22/2007
Sheraton Reading Hotel
Reading
Coastal Access

9/23/2007
Jazz'Salive!
San Antonio
The Rippingtons Reunion Band

9/28/2007
Lyman Center
New Haven
The Sax Pack

9/29/2007
IMAC Theater
Huntington
The Sax Pack

10/13/2007
San Bernadino County Fair
Victorville
The Rippingtons Reunion Band

10/26/2007
Tangier Restaurant and Cabaret
Akron
The Rippingtons Reunion Band

10/27/2007
Capitol Theatre
Davenport, IA
The Rippingtons Reunion Band

11/07/2007
Rossi's Steakhouse &  Blue Star
Minneapolis
The Rippingtons Reunion Band


nativelanguage.com/jeffkashiwa

Posted by Peter Böhi at 12:16 PM

August 5, 2007

20th Long Beach Jazz Festival

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the Long Beach Jazz Festival (LBJF), August 10, 11 and 12, 2007 – Southern California’s premier jazz festival. For the past 19 years, over 750,000 music lovers have gone through the gates of the Long Beach Jazz Festival to experience the music of a Who's Who of legendary talent including Nancy Wilson, Herbie Hancock, Cab Calloway, Eddie Harris, Roberta Flack, Art Blakey, Lou Rawles, Gerald Wilson, Wayne Shorter, Etta James, Ramsey Lewis, Roy Ayers, Diane Schuur, Chuck Mangione, Chic Correa, Gene Harris, Stanley Turrentine, Jimmy Smith, Stanley Carke, Bobby Caldwell, Hugh Masakela, Gil-Scott Heron, Freddie Hubbard, George Duke and the list goes on.
 
To mark the 20th Anniversary of the Festival, founder Al Williams promises to pull out all the stops. Highlights will include a nightly fireworks show, performances by some of the best and brightest in the Jazz, Smooth Jazz, and R&B genres and the announcement of the first annual "Long Beach Jazz Festival Lifetime Achievement Award" recipient and the "Al Williams Jazz Heritage Award honoree."  Additionally, there will be a couple of surprise musical guests.

The three day lineup for this year’s festival include (not in order of appearance):

Friday, August 10:
Guitars & Saxes featuring Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, Jeff Golub, Tim Bowman
Warren Hill
Gerald Wilson Orchestra featuring Diane Schuur

Saturday, August 11:
Jazz Attack featuring Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler, Richard Elliot, Peter White
Leela James
Soul Express featuring Jody Watley, Everette Harp, Chris Standring
1 Plus ONE featuring Ndugu Chancler, Patrice Rushen, Eric Darius
Jazz Search Winner

Sunday, August 12:
Najee
Poncho Sanchez
Lalah Hathway
Ronnie Laws

The Sax Pack featuring Kim Waters, Steve Cole, Jeff Kashiwa
Al William Jazz Society featuring Barbara Morrison and Special Guests.
 
 
In 1978, Al Williams co-founded the Queen Mary Jazz Festival aboard the Queen Mary. In 1987, he founded the Long Beach Jazz Festival and established the festival site at beautiful Rainbow Lagoon Park. The festival has since become one of the top three annual events in Long Beach, attracting jazz aficionados from all over the United States and abroad and a favorite of those on the Jazz Festival circuit.
 
The festival through the years, has also been responsible for breaking new talent, as well as, exposing concert attendees to the fresh musical sounds of today’s top jazz recording artists such as, Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, Poncho Sanchez (a festival favorite), Dianne Reeves, Al Jarreau, Rochelle Ferrell, Keiko Matusi, Bobby Caldwell, Norman Brown and so many more.  According to Festival founder, Al Williams, “These past 19 years have been a truly remarkable and incredible experience; the festival has exposed thousands to the world's greatest jazz musicians and vocalists, and has kept all forms of jazz music 'alive' and available for many generations to enjoy.”
 
Tickets are available through Rainbow Promotions at (562) 424-0013, Ticketmaster outlets or online at Ticketmaster.com.
 
Ticket ranges include: VIP tickets – $150 on Friday and $175 per seat on Saturday and Sunday – include a three-course gourmet dinner, wine service and VIP hospitality. Reserved Box Seat tickets are $60 on Friday and $75 on Saturday and Sunday. General Admission/Lawn Seating is $45 in advance and $50 at the gate. Gates open at 5:00 pm, with a show time of 7:00 pm on Friday. Saturday and Sunday gates opens at 11:00 am with a show time of 12:00 pm. The Long Beach Jazz Festival takes place at the Rainbow Lagoon in Long Beach (CA).
 
This year’s sponsors include Cadillac, Budweiser, Black Music America and Time Warner Cable.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:01 PM

June 29, 2007

Guitarist Blake Aaron's new CD Desire on sale now

Blake Aaron has come a long way from the kid who declared to his mother that he wanted to be a rock and roll musician. A guitarist that is known best for his ability to connect with an audience, Aaron has been a staple on the national music scene for many years as a live performer and in the studio.

A composer with an edge, Aaron has been the guitarist for such television shows as "MAD TV" (FOX), "10-8" (ABC), "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment" (WB), "Gary and Mike" (UPN),"The Ben Stiller Show" (FOX), "Sunday Night Comics" (FOX), and has recorded and/or performed with such artists as Steve Reid's Bamboo Forest, Eric Marienthal, Bobby Womack, Carlos Santana and The Gap Band.

Blake's debut Innervision release, With Every Touch (2001), included special guest appearances by Eric Marienthal and David Benoit.

His second album, Bringin' It Back (2004), propelled Blake into the forefront of contemporary jazz by reaching #26 on the Radio and Records charts. Two singles would reach the top 100 of the year on the smooth jazz charts.

Blake took a brief sabbatical from solo recording to focus on his studio career. Additionally, with the assistance of All Star Music Lessons, Blake would produce three instructional videos for the guitar. Meanwhile, he continued his studio work with several television shows, which included regular recording sessions and an appearance on Mad TV.

In Jun 2007, Blake released the hot CD, Desire. Filled with sizzling grooves and stellar craftsmanship and mastered by the legendary Bernie Grundman (Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie and more), Desire has been on the tip of the tongue of reviewers for some time and is sure to catapult Blake to the next level of contemporary jazz stardom.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:17 AM

June 23, 2007

It’s going to be a scorching hot summer of R n R

Soul-jazz stars Rick Braun & Richard Elliot unite for the album event of the year
 
Summer is about spontaneous, energetic fun and a bit of R n R with friends.  Trumpeter Rick Braun and saxman Richard Elliot plan to make this summer swelter.  Circle August 28th on your calendar as that’s the date the hitmen will deliver a cool-jazz treat in what bodes to be the album event of the year in the contemporary instrumental genre.  The dynamic duo wrote and produced R n R, a long-anticipated collection of original funk, R&B, jazz and pop songs that will be released on the ARTizen Music Group record label for which they partner.  Kicking the party off at radio is the groovy title track, an infectious horn-drenched romp that seems both familiar and fresh, which goes for adds June 25th.  However, a track from the album that previously was exclusively available via the ARTizen website, the breezy exotic romance of “Sao Paulo,” is already nearing the Top 10 on the Radio & Records chart.

BraunElliot_live.jpgWith 24 solo albums between them and a massive catalogue of chart-topping radio hits, the thrilling collaboration between Braun and Elliot has been in the making for over a decade.  They’ve toured together for years and have made guest appearances on each other’s records.  When they launched ARTizen Music Group with a couple of music industry veterans almost three years ago, it was only a matter of time before the two heavyweights stepped into the ring together to deliver a knockout album full of punchy beats & rhythms, potent melodies and collaborative sparks that are natural and have roots way beyond the music.  R n R was conceptualized on the fly as they entered Braun’s studio to record without any preconceived ideas.  Armed with grooves from a number of sources, including album contributor’s Jeff Lorber, Rex Rideout and Philippe Saisse, Elliot and Braun wrote the melodies while recording, which was a unique process for them, especially for Braun who played a horn with one hand while controlling the soundboard with the other.  Helping to fill up the tracks were some of their gifted friends such as Chris Standring, Dwight Sills, Gregg Karukas, Lenny Castro, Ricky Lawson and Nate Phillips.  The result is an album that has all the spontaneity and smoldering energy of a live performance.                 
 
“We’ve had so much fun playing together live that it was time for us to get together musically,” declared Elliot.  “We have different approaches yet they are complementary.  We called upon our roots (Elliot was a long-time member of Tower of Power and Braun played with War) and we constantly bounced ideas off each other.  As much as we let the songs develop and evolve from our interaction, the record was probably more honed and refined than other albums because we were constantly going over the work and tweaking and changing things.”
 
“Overall, I think the album is very energetic and percolates.  We didn’t want to overpower the melodies by just blasting a lot of horns in people’s faces.  In fact, we did the opposite by using single trumpet, flugelhorn and tenor sax melodies much like old recordings from the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60’s, which gave it an intimate and warm sound.  The horn section parts were doubled to really give it that oomph and muscle.  We treated the lead instruments as would vocalists recording duets, which gave them each a personal voice,” explained Braun.            
 
Road warriors, Braun and Elliot are already out touring with the perennially successful Jazz Attack line-up that co-stars Peter White and Jonathan Butler.  They’ll be introducing more and more songs from the new album into their performances as the record release date nears.  Braun and Elliot expect to be working the road through the end of the year to support the album. 
 
Elliot began his recording career young while playing on songs by Motown legends Smokey Robinson and The Temptations.  He was still a teenager when he toured with Melissa Manchester.  That gig led to him spending five formative years playing in the mighty Tower of Power, who molded the impressionable musician into a passionate entertainer.  He put out his first solo album in 1976 and in subsequent years, the Scotland-born, Los Angeles-raised saxophonist became a pioneering voice in contemporary jazz by consistently scoring hit after hit while building a growing legion of fans year after year through his explosive concerts. 
 
Braun is a trumpeter-flugelhorn player-keyboardist who started his professional career by writing a Top 20 pop hit for REO Speedwagon (“Here With Me”).  The Allentown, Pennsylvania native has played in bands behind Rod Stewart, Sade, Tom Petty, Tina Turner, Natalie Cole and Crowded House.  As a producer, he’s guided #1 hits for David Benoit, Marc Antoine and Avenue Blue.  Since debuting as a solo artist in 1993, twice he has been honored as Gavin’s “Artist of the Year” in addition to collecting a Gavin “Album of the Year” trophy and “Best Producer” and “Best Brass Player” titles from the Oasis Smooth Jazz Awards.     
 
Rick Braun and Richard Elliot’s R n R contains the following songs:
 
“R n R”
“Sweet Somethin’”
“Curve Ball”
“The Stranger”
“Da JR Funk”
“Que Paso”
“Better Times”
“Down and Dirty”
“Two Heart Tango”
“Q It Up”
“Sunday Night”
“Sao Paulo”

 
 
Catch Braun and Elliot performing on the following Jazz Attack dates (additional dates together and solo that run through the end of the year will be added):
 
June 21             Frazee Pavilion                           Kettering, OH
June 22             City of Southfield Civic Center    Detroit, OH
June 23             Rodney Strong Vineyards            Healdsburg, CA
July 14              Radisson Hotel                          Sacramento, CA
July 20              The Pageant                               St. Louis, MO
July 21              Chicago Theatre                         Chicago, IL
July 22              Hideaway Park                          Winter Park, CO
August 11          Long Beach Jazz Festival             Long Beach, CO
August 18          Sleep Train Pavilion                    Concord, CA
 
 
Additional information is available at www.artizenmusic.com, www.rickbraun.com and www.richardelliot.com.

Photo credits: Bonnie Schendell (Smoothviews.com)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:33 AM

June 22, 2007

First Annual Celebration of Hope

Remembering Luther Vandross with Kirk Whalum and Friends in NYC

By Val Vaccaro
 
On Sunday, July 1st at 6pm, the Stroke of Hope Foundation (www.strokeofhope.net) will host its first NYC benefit concert in honor of the late, great, beloved R&B/pop singer Luther Vandross, who during his career sold over 25 million records.  The benefit concert will be held at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. 

SOH_Show.jpgIt was two years ago on July 1, 2005 that Vandross passed away, and it was back in April 2003 that he had the stroke, related to diabetes, that ultimately contributed to his death.
 
According to Luther’s 82 year old mother Mary Ida Vandross, “The Stroke of Hope Foundation is near and dear to my heart. People need to take better care of themselves. I have formed a meaningful relationship with Stroke of Hope and it is my mission now to try to help others.”  Stroke of Hope’s founder and executive director, Hazella Rollins-LaVar, is herself, a stroke survivor with an inspiring story of her own.
 
The upcoming benefit show will feature saxophonist Kirk Whalum, guitarist Jeff Golub, keyboardist Philippe Saisse and many others. Whalum’s own father is stroke survivor.  Earlier this year in Los Angeles, Whalum performed a show for the Stroke of Hope Foundation.   Whalum said that “I have made a very personal and spiritual commitment to this cause… to use my gift and talents not only to heal, but to educate others while honoring my friend and my father.”
 
Last November, Kirk Whalum recorded his the song, “Give Me the Reason” on the tribute CD Forever, For Always, For Luther Vol. II (various artists). Fittingly, Whalum (like so many other great musicians) has played on many of Vandross’ original recordings. In 1986, Whalum played on Vandross’ “Give Me the Reason;” in 1988, he performed on “Any Love;”  in 1991, he played on “Power of Love;” in 1993 on “Never Let me Go;” in 1996 on “Your Secret Love,” and in 1998 on “I Know,” as well as a medley of “Night I fell in Love/Give me the Reason/Power of Love.”  
 
These three top smooth jazz musicians, Kirk Whalum, Jeff Golub and Philippe Saisse have performed with each other live and on many of each others’ recordings as well as hundreds of top pop music artists.

SOH_Luther.jpgSaisse played on Vandross’ 1993 recording “Never Let Me Go” as well as on Whalum’s CD’s including Cache (’93), Colors (’97) and Best of Kirk Whalum (2002). Both Whalum and Saisse played on Golub’s Out of the Blue CD (’99) and current CD Grand Central (2007). Whalum’s played on the Saisse CDs Masques (’95) and Next Voyage (’97). Golub played on the CD Joined at the Hip with Bob James & Kirk Whalum (’96). Golub also played on the Saisse CD Halfway til Dawn (’99).     Golub and Saisse also played on Que Pasa, Gato Barbieri’s CD (’97).
 
To buy tickets for what should be a great show and a moving tribute: Call the Tribeca Performing Arts box office at: 1(212)220-1460 or order online at: www.tribecapac.org/box_office.htm The Show starts on Sunday at 6pm. Mezzanine seats are $50 per ticket. There are also $100 VIP tickets available for orchestra seats which also include admission to a Pre-Reception from 4pm-5:30pm. 
 
Proceeds from the show will benefit the Stroke of Hope Foundation.  

In the U.S., stroke is the 3rd leading cause of death, and the #1 cause of long-term disability. For more information, or to make a donation, please visit www.strokeofhope.netStroke of Hope is a non-profit organization committed to improving quality of life for people by creating stroke awareness, promoting prevention and providing support for stroke survivors, their care partners and families by encouraging physical and emotional recovery, and maintaining an on-line support system. Thank you for your support.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 2:14 PM

June 21, 2007

Party Time At The Playboy Jazz Festival

By Ricky Richardson

Johnny-Polanco.jpgFestival Productions organizers of the 29th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival (presented by L.A. Philharmonic Association) were fortunate enough to have a distraction free Fathers Day weekend June 16-17, 2007.

The NBA Finals was finished two days before the festival. Paris Hilton was resting comfortably in her jail cell. The weather was pleasantly warm with a Caribbean breeze hovering over the Historic Hollywood Bowl for this year's highly anticipated jazz festival of the summer.

The festival got under way with the Eagle Rock High School Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Greg Samuel. The band superbly performed big band tunes of Duke Ellington 'Boy Meets Horn' and a tune by Miles Davis entitled 'All Blue'. The talented young musicians from Eagle Rock High School Jazz Ensemble were cool, calm and poised as they performed at the historic Hollywood Bowl and were humbled and honored to be on the same line-up as other well established jazz musicians.

The staged rotated and things got pretty hot with a performance by Johnny Polanco Y Su Conjunto Amistad. This very busy and very popular L.A. based band played a spicy set of Latin Jazz and salsa. People were dancing in the aisle throughout his set which consisted of 'Llegue', 'Mambo Inn', 'Palo Pa Rumba', and 'Picadillo' - a tribute to the late great Tito Puente, followed by 'Cuarto do Tula', 'Preparato Bailador. It should be noted that Johnny Polanco is proficient at playing thirteen different instruments. He played only three for this show-the trombone, cuarto and vibraphones.

Angelique-Kidjo.jpgThe highlight of the entire weekend came courtesy of a dynamic performance by Angelique Kidjo. She made a bold statement throughout her energetic set as she strutted and danced across the stage and at one time ventured out into the crowd. Ms. Kidjo captivated all in attendance with her singing as well as the dances that she showcased from Africa, Brazilian Samba and Salsa. She was backed by a wonderful band that propelled her hour long set. Rubens de la Corte - guitar, Joao Moto - guitar, Stephane Castry - bass, Ibarhim Diagne - percussion and Harvey Wirth - drums. Their highly entertaining set featured the following tunes: 'Papa', 'Djin Djin', 'Arouna', 'Salala', 'Gi Mi Shelter', 'Malaiha', 'Mama Golo', 'Senamou', Africa', and closed out with 'Tumba'. Don't be surprise if you see Angelique Kidjo on the bill for the 30th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival in 2008.

I was concerned if the band that followed Ms. Kidjo would be able to sustain the crowds' attention. My fears were completely laid to rest when The World Famous Count Basie Orchestra directed by Bill Hughes and featuring Butch Miles came out performing an explosive, swinging set of Basie's tunes. This is what jazz is all about listening to 'Down For The Count', 'Little Darlin', 'Half Moon Street' followed by 'April in Paris', 'and 'All of Me with vocalist Melba Joyce. They concluded their set with a rousing rendition of 'One O' Clock Jump.'

Issac Delgado from Cuba who presently resides in my hometown of Tampa, Florida took the musical entertainment up a notch. Just like the seventh inning stretch seen at a baseball game, Issac Delgado and his band got the crowd up out of their seats, off of the benches to dance to the contagious hot Latin sounds of salsa and the new sounds of timba. Several famous Playboy Jazz Festival conga lines snaked throughout the Hollywood Bowl.

Saturday's line-up also featured The James Carter Organ Trio, Cos of Good Music featuring Dwayne Burno, James Carter, Ndugu Chancler, Vincent Herring, Ron Johnson, Ray Parker Jr., Jeremy Pelt and Larry Willis. The Randy Brecker-Bill Evans SoulBop Band with Hiram Bullock, Dave Kikoski, Victor Bailey and Rodney Holmes, The Phil Woods Quintet featuring Bill Charlip, Brian Lynch, Steve Gilmore and Bill Goodwin. Chris Botti and Buddy Guy closed out the evening.

The festival got under way on Fathers Day appropriately enough with one of TV's popular sons - Malcolm-Jamal Warner (Theo - from The Cosby Show) and his group Miles Long. He opened the show grooving with some smooth jazz with a mixture of hip-hop and spoken word. The song 'The Beat Don't Move Me Like It Use To' spoke to the changing world of hip-hop with all of its negative connotations. 'Sprung' talked about his experience with a long distance relationship. Malcolm-Jamal Warner performs in the play Love & Other Social Issues at the Assistance League Playhouse, 1367 N. St. Andrews Place, Hollywood, and CA. conclude on July 1. This is a play about love, loyalty, inner-city life and more, accompanied by a jazz-funk ensemble Call (323) 960-7784 for more information

Pianist Taylor Eigsti is another young rising star on the jazz horizon. He solidified his status during his performance at the Playboy Jazz Festival and at festivals, concert halls and jazz clubs all over the world. He was assisted by Rueben Rogers on bass, Eric Harland on drums and Julian Lage on guitar performing 'Get Your Hopes Up', 'I've Seen It All' by Bjork, 'Caravan' and closed out with 'Argument' based on the chord changes to 'All Blue' by Miles Davis.

The party continued with Nathan and The Zydeco Cha Chas. More dancing in the aisle with secondline dancing and handkerchiefs waving were evidence in the crowd.

Red-Hollyway.jpgThe next major highlight of the festival consisted of a performance by Red Hollyway. The legendary saxophonist was celebrating his 80th Birthday with a set of straight-ahead jazz and some blues with special guest Kevin Mahogany. I was tapping my feet and snapping my fingers on the tunes 'You've Changed', 'The Way You Look Tonight', and joined onstage with Kevin Mahogany with 'Time is Getting Tougher Than Tough', 'Fools Rush In', 'What Price Love' and closed out with an up-tempo version of 'Route 66'.

Rounding out day two of the 29th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival featured the talents of Richard Bona, Terence Blanchard, Marcus Miller, Dianne Reeves, The World Premier of Arturo Sandoval's Mambo Mania Big Band, Etta James And The Roots Band and finished off with Norman Brown's Summer Storm featuring Peabo Bryson, Marion Meadows and Jeff Lorber.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:49 PM

June 15, 2007

Jeff Kashiwa Announces New CD And Tour Dates

Contemporay jazz saxophonist to release new album, Play, on July 31

JeffKashiwa_live.jpgOn Tuesday, July 31, 2007, Jeff Kashiwa will release Play, a brand new CD featuring over a dozen great tracks. Play is Kashiwa’s fourth outing for the Native Language Music record label. Kashiwa is also out on the road and has announced a number of upcoming tour dates.

One of the most diverse sax players in all of contemporary jazz, Jeff Kashiwa is a Seattle native who established himself as a dynamic live saxophonist during his amazing decade-long tenure with The Rippingtons. Kashiwa used some of his down time from the group to lay the foundation for his solo career, which has included five previous albums and a #1 hit on the Radio & Records chart with “Hyde Park (The Aah, Ooh Song).”

At the emotional core of his new CD Play are the eight Kashiwa-produced tracks recorded live at Sounden Studios with his band Coastal Access. In addition to longtime members Allen Hinds (guitar), Melvin Davis (bass) and Dave Hooper (drums), the saxman brought in legendary Yellowjackets keyboardist Russell Ferrante to play sparkling acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes, along with famed percussionist Lenny Castro.

Coastal Access is the ensemble appearing on Play’s first single, the sizzling retro soul-flavored funk jam “Forever.” The fiery track is already getting a great response from NAC radio. Some of Play’s other songs include the exotic, reggae-tinged “Blue Jeans”; the sensuous “New View,” and a lush ballad, Fall.” The adventurous “Way Out West” features drum programming by Kashiwa’s Native Language labelmates Four80East). “The songs cover a lot of stylistic territory, from funky pop to more classic traditional jazz,” said Kashiwa. “They’re all part of my new definition of ‘play’ - to be free, to engage in joyful activity. We just got in the studio and said, let’s play. Let’s really play!”

Kashiwa is looking forward to bringing that energy and freedom to his fans across the United States with his upcoming tour. For updates, visit nativelanguage.com/jeffkashiwa.

Date Venue City Appearing With
6/23/2007 City Of Southfield Civic Center Detroit The Sax Pack
6/24/2007 City Of Southfield Civic Center Detroit The Rippingtons Reunion Band
6/30/2007 Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center Redondo Beach Coastal Access
7/4/2007 Fourth of Jul-Ivar's Celebration Seattle Coastal Access
7/13/2007 House of Blues Dallas The Rippingtons Reunion Band
7/14/2007 One World Theater Austin The Rippingtons Reunion Band
8/1/2007 Spirit Cruise New York City The Rippingtons Reunion Band
8/2/2007 The Birchmere Alexandria The Rippingtons Reunion Band
8/3/2007 Summer Nights Series @ Penn's Landing Philadelphia Ken Navarro
8/4/2007 IMAC Theater Huntington The Rippingtons Reunion Band
8/12/2007 Long Beach Jazz Festival Long Beach The Sax Pack
8/16/2007 Scullers Boston The Rippingtons Reunion Band
8/17/2007 Scullers Boston The Rippingtons Reunion Band
8/18/2007 Scullers Boston The Rippingtons Reunion Band
8/24/2007 Chastain Park Atlanta The Rippingtons Reunion Band
8/25/2007 Icicle Ridge Winery Leavenworth The Northwest All Star Band
9/14/2007 Hyatt Newporter Newport Beach The Rippingtons Reunion Band
9/15/2007 Mablehouse-Barnes Amphitheater Mableton The Sax Pack
9/16/2007 Thorton Winery Temecula The Rippingtons Reunion Band
9/23/2007 Jazz'Salive! San Antonio The Rippingtons Reunion Band
9/28/2007 Lyman Center New Haven The Sax Pack
9/29/2007 IMAC Theater Huntington The Sax Pack
10/13/2007 San Bernadino County Fair Victorville The Rippingtons Reunion Band

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:31 PM

May 30, 2007

JAMMIN' at 21st Annual UCLA JazzReggae Fest

Photos and Text by Ricky Richardson

Los Angeles - WOW! I can't believe that another year has gone by and that I was able to celebrate the 21st Annual UCLA JazzReggae Fest with thousands of music lovers from all over Southern California, on May 27 and 28, 2007.

The weather Gods looked down favorably upon this event. The Memorial Day weekend was pleasant with a nice Caribbean breeze blowing from the north east.

The 2007 version of the festival has evolved into Jam Day on previously featured Jazz on Sunday.

I?m glad that the UCLA Cultural Affairs Commissioned decided to keep some jazz on the line-up. I?m hopeful that more jazz would be added in the near future considering the positive impact that Christian Scott had on the crowd.

Christian-Scott.jpgTrumpeter Christian Scott was the lone jazz artist on the bill for Jam Day of the Jazz Reggae Fest. There were probably a handful of people who were aware of this tremendously talented trumpeter from New Orleans. I?m fortunate to have witness Christian Scott arriving on the jazz scene during my many trips to the Crescent City for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. I recognized his potential early on while he performed with his uncle-legendary saxophonist Donald Harrison Jr. Mr. Scott is from New Orleans the birthplace of jazz. He follows in the footsteps of trumpet giants from the Crescent City: King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Nicolas Payton as well as Irving Mayfield. Christian Scott represents the next generation of jazz cats/young lions who toured extensively with his uncle Donald Harrison Jr. The sprawling outdoor Intramural Field was transformed into an intimate jazz lounge for Mr. Scott?s set. He thrilled the capacity audience throughout his set of original tunes - ?Anthem?, ?Dialect? - written in response to Hurricane Katrina, ?Line of Fire?, ?Rewind That? and closed with ?Litany Against Fear.? Trumpeter Christian Scott was aided and abetted by David Bryant - keyboards, Luquses Curtis - bass, Matthew Stevens - guitar, and Jamire Williams on drums. This tight band left a lasting impression on me as well as many members of the audience assembled for the JazzReggae Fest.

Les-Nubians.jpgThe group Les Nubians consist of siblings Helene and Celia Faussart were another highlight that left a lasting impression. They were regally dressed for the festival. They held the crowds undivided attention throughout their set. Their music reflected their African roots, mixed with some jazzy nuances, funky rhythms and a dash of British soul delivered in their uniquely elegant and expressive French style. I was captivated by their stage presence and delivery on the following tunes - ?J?veux d? la musique?, ?Taboo?, ?To The Queen?, ?Makeda?, ?Temperature Rising?, and Sans Regrets.?

Jam Day also featured the marvelous talents of Dujeous from New York, rap artist Lupe Fiasco, Soulive, J*Davey and concluded with an always crowd pleasing set from Jill Scott a sensational Grammy Award winning vocalist.

Day Two of the UCLA JazzReggae Fest served up a different vibe on Monday. Reggae was music of choice dished out in various forms - roots reggae legend Luciano was the headliner. Other notable performers were Cham, General Degree, Mr. Peppa, LovaBoy, ElJai, Joseph Israel, Syren, Ms. Triniti/E Dee turning up the heat with some dancehall and soca.

A good time was had by all in attendance at the 21st Annual UCLA JazzReggae Fest 2007. This is the largest student run festival in the country.

The 21st Annual UCLA JazzReggae Fest 2007 took the first step to becoming a no-waste, sustainable festival with eco-limos to transport the artists, planting trees to off-set emissions, and featured a sustainable resource area to educate festival-goers. Recyclable plates and utensils were offered in the international food court.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:07 PM

May 25, 2007

Sensational Assemblage Of Stars Praise The Beloved Ella Fitzgerald

‘We All Love Ella: Celebrating The First Lady Of Song’ June 5 On Verve Records

A sensational assemblage of stars honors the incomparable songstress Ella Fitzgerald on the Phil Ramone-produced We All Love Ella: Celebrating The First Lady Of Song (June 5, Verve Records). These stars’ love of Ella shines through on their musical performances, but they also cite Ella’s artistry and music as moving and influential to their own careers.

EllaFitzgerald.jpgYou can almost hear Natalie Cole smile as she sings Ella’s famous hit “A Tisket A Tasket.” This was the first jazz song Cole ever learned and she practiced it so she would sound exactly like Ella. “When I was seven, I was singing like a 30 or 40 year old woman,” she laughs.

k.d. lang was 20 when she bought her first Ella record and “studied it and studied it and studied it...from then I studied her as a musician.” lang’s sultry and subdued “Angel Eyes” is a beautiful tribute to Ella’s original.

Legendary producer Phil Ramone says, “There is something magical about doing the work of Ella Fitzgerald that gives you a tremendous painting to start with.”

Diana Krall calls Fitzgerald “the greatest improviser, jazz scat singer…a completely natural and amazing woman.” She offers a tender rendition of “Dream a Little Dream” with celebrated pianist Hank Jones for the record.

Dianne Reeves highlights Ella’s sunny side, saying, “The biggest influence she had on me was there was so much joy in her singing. She absolutely loved singing and you could feel it,” a mood that’s apparent on Reeves version of “Oh, Lady Be Good.”

Breakout singer Ledesi said Ella made “Blues in the Night” “seem so easy.” Although she discovered it was harder than she thought, she delivers a remarkable performance.

In Ella Fitzgerald’s lifetime, she won 13 GRAMMY® awards and sold over 40 million albums. Her catalog continues to be as popular as ever and her iconic stature is undiminished. Fitzgerald would have turned 90 on April 25, 2007.

We All Love Ella: A Celebration of the First Lady of Song is produced by hitmaker Phil Ramone and filled with passionate performances of classics made famous by Ella and sung by world-renowned singers and break-out stars Michael Bublé, Natalie Cole, Etta James, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Diana Krall, k.d. lang, Queen Latifah, Ledesi, Dianne Reeves, Linda Ronstadt and Lizz Wright.

1) A Tisket A Tasket - Natalie Cole
2) Lullaby of Birdland - Chaka Khan
3) The Lady is a Tramp - Queen Latifah
4) Dream a Little Dream of Me - Diana Krall & Hank Jones
5) Mr. Paganini - Natalie Cole & Chaka Khan
6) Oh, Lady Be Good - Dianne Reeves
7) Reaching for the Moon - Lizz Wright
8) Blues in the Night - Ledisi
9) Miss Otis Regrets - Linda Ronstadt
10) Someone to Watch Over Me - Gladys Knight
11) Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me - Etta James
12) Angel Eyes - k.d. lang
13) Too Close for Comfort - Michael Bublé

Posted by Peter Böhi at 11:39 AM

May 17, 2007

Soul-jazz saxophonist Jamie WilliamS “Overjoyed” to have Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson on his debut CD

After Hours previewed at radio by cover of Stevie Wonder classic
 
“Dreams do come true” and “Timing is everything” are just a couple of time-honored clichés that come to mind when you hear Jamie WilliamS’ story.  Ever since he was a young teenager, the saxophonist dreamed of recording an album.  In the making for the past ten years, After Hours, his debut collection of R&B, funk, contemporary jazz and pop instrumentals, is finally scheduled for national release July 10th on the Jamie WilliamS Music record label.  The album’s producer, Veit Renn (*NSync, Backstreet Boys), connected WilliamS with Jennifer Hudson.  She performed with him at a few of his local concert dates in Orlando, Florida.  The two connected and Hudson agreed to sing a version of Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed” for the disc.  The single was serviced to radio to preview the album release around the time Hudson won an Academy Award for her role in Dreamgirls.

JamieWilliams_AfterHours.jpgWilliamS wrote seven songs for After Hours and collaborated with Renn on another, the breezy, samba-seasoned “Tropica’.”  The album opens with the edgy jazz-hip-hop mélange “2 Cool.”  “Better Than Life” is a romantic pop ballad that WilliamS wrote for his wife, Ana.  “Shut Up & Dance” mixes an energizing dance groove, lilting pop melodies and cool jazz nuances.  The soulful title track was inspired by WilliamS’ after-hours experiences playing nightclubs.  The head-bobbing, booty-shakin’ “Can U Feel It?” is a sweaty R&B groove equipped with a potent, feel-good pop hook.  “Over The Top” is an aggressive contemporary jazz track with horns a-blazin’ that goes for the kill right from the first note.  “Calculated Risk” is a sultry mid-tempo soul-jazz cut.  Hudson delivers a show-stopping vocal on “Overjoyed,” while WilliamS’ sax wonderfully accentuates her performance.  Guitarist Bradley Catron wrote the funky, horn section-powered “S.O.S.” jam.  The album closes with a poignant message of “Love,” the Musiq Soulchild original, with RAab (currently touring with Justin Timberlake) providing the passionate vocal chorus.

“After Hours depicts all the feelings and emotions I’ve experienced.  I think we were able to capture the passion I have for music as well.  Each tune is different and the record is how I’ve envisioned it (would turn out) all these years,” said a pleased WilliamS.  “It truly is a dream come true to release my debut album.  Working with pros like Veit (Renn), RAab and the other musicians on the album was such a blessing.  I’m grateful for the energy, ideas and creativity they brought to the record.  As for Jennifer (Hudson), well she’s a true professional and a pleasure to work with.  She’s an incredible talent.  I’m thrilled to see the success she is having now and honored to have her on the album.”     
 
A native of Richardson, Texas, WilliamS was in high school when he was coaxed into seeing David Sanborn play.  The dream to become an artist was born that night.  He fully committed himself towards realizing that goal by taking lessons, practicing and jamming with friends, including trumpeter Roy Hargrove.  WilliamS earned a full scholarship to the prestigious University of Miami music school, which lead to gigs with Miami Sound Machine, Jon Secada and Hiram Bullock, Sanborn’s long-time guitarist.  After graduation, WilliamS became active with his church and moved to Memphis, Tennessee where he immersed himself in the music scene by playing regular gigs at the House of Blues.  Later, he moved to Nashville, where he wrote jingles for Black Entertainment Television, became a session player and coached other musicians and vocalists.  Seeing another Sanborn concert while on vacation served as inspiration for launching his solo career.  WilliamS moved to Orlando, formed a hot band and played all the local venues and jazz festivals.  It was Catron who introduced him to Renn and everything came together organically for WilliamS after that.  Additional information can be found at www.jamiewilliamsmusic.com
 
Jamie WilliamSAfter Hours contains the following songs:
 
“2 Cool”
“Better Than Life”
“Shut Up & Dance”
“After Hours”
“Can U Feel It?”
“Calculated Risk”
“Overjoyed” (featuring Jennifer Hudson)
“S.O.S.”
“Tropica’”
“Love”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:34 AM

May 9, 2007

Babysoul is born: Jackiem Joyner’s debut CD finally emerges

Dynamic young R&B-jazz saxophonist’s single breaking at radio, album receives accolades as the artist prepares to take the stage
 
It’s rare for a musician still in their mid-20s to possess the depth of talent, maturity and vision that saxophonist-flutist-songwriter-producer Jackiem Joyner has.  The buzz that began gestating late last year produced the birth of Babysoul, Joyner’s debut album that was released today in record stores nationally by the ARTizen Music Group.  Joyner’s original R&B, soul and contemporary jazz songbook heralds the arrival of a true artist and serves as a harbinger that the future of instrumental music is poised for reinvigoration and re-imagination in the astute hands of the next generation. 
 
Babysoul grooves seductively from beginning to end.  Although the sax is Joyner’s primary instrument, he croons equally as passionately through his flute.  He explored unique ways to engage the two disparate voices in harmonious and complementary discourses on five of the collection’s eleven tracks.  In fact, Joyner, who produced the album and wrote ten songs for the disc, played most of the instruments on the record.  Rick Braun, the album’s executive producer, contributed trumpet and flugelhorn and Peter White issued gorgeous acoustic guitar riffs on the first radio single, “Stay With Me Tonight.”  Joyner beautifully covered the sexy “Say Yes,” originally recorded by Floetry.

Breaking a new artist takes time, patience, commitment, creativity and a comprehensive approach that embraces technology.  That’s the formula ARTizen has deployed to introduce Joyner.  Top label executives began touting Joyner and his music to prominent industry tastemakers, radio programmers and members of the media late last year.  Joyner took the stage for cameo appearances at concerts headlined by label principals and smooth jazz icons Rick Braun and Richard Elliot.  In addition to the usual radio blitz to support a single, ARTizen teamed with the SmoothJazz.com network of terrestrial and online radio stations to add muscle to their attack.  Viral emails, banners on the SmoothJazz.com site, and interactive links with media player, information about Joyner and purchasing links have helped propel “Stay With Me Tonight” into the Top 15 and it’s still rising.  Joyner was invited to perform at radio-sponsored concerts in San Diego by KIFM (May 26), in Reno by KJZS (June 20), and for the JazzTrax Big Bear Festival (June 23).  Additionally he’s got shows booked in Riverside, California (August 4) and the Catalina Jazz Festival (October 13 & 20).  More dates are being added for the summer and fall.
 
The media is watching both Joyner and taking note of the label’s efforts.  All Music Guide stated that ARTizen in “…2007 got behind the very funky and contemporary, sometimes hip and often retro but always super soulful Jackiem Joyner.  Joyner came to the airwaves after amassing a great résumé for his mid-twenty-something age: playing with Marcus Johnson, Bobby Lyle and Jaared, co-headlining a 2004 (tour) with Ronnie Laws and Angela Bofill, and opening gigs for everyone from India.Arie to Boney James.”  Jazz Review declared, “Debuting with Babysoul is a watershed moment in Jackiem Joyner’s life as he transitions from sideman, opener and back-up player to a full fledged star in his own right…After years of playing with the big guys, Jackiem Joyner has learned what he’s about in the music world, incorporating the best in his own music.  Young, yet multi-talented, Joyner has a long and bright career in front of him.  Babysoul has all the ingredients a true professional provides in a hit album.”  Baltimore Times observed “His style shows his age, for though it is of a quality level of any sax player who has been at the top of the charts for years, you can tell his youthful influences…”  Smooth Jazz Therapy concluded “Babysoul is an extremely accomplished collection and signals an association between Joyner and ARTizen that could well be a partnership made in heaven.  With the nurturing qualities of the label gelling with the obvious talent and sizzling potential of the artist, the name of Jackiem Joyner is bound to be around for a long time to come.”
 
Additional information is available at www.myspace.com/jackiemsoul and www.artizenmusicgroup.com

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:46 AM

May 3, 2007

Hiroshima Celebrates Cultural Diversity in New Heads Up Release

Little Tokyo embraces the sounds and sensibilities of Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and beyond

Since Hiroshima's inception in 1980, the group has assumed the artistic mission of bridging cultural divides through the power of music. Founded in east L.A. by Japanese Americans Dan and June Kuramoto, Hiroshima has borrowed from numerous cultures - Asian, Latin American, African American and more - and merged these influences into a unique and innovative whole that is solely their own. The result is a brand of music that speaks to nearly every aspect of contemporary culture.

The goodwill mission continues with the May 22, 2007, release of Little Tokyo (HUCD 3123), Hiroshima's fourth album on Heads Up International. The album title, a reference to the well known Asian neighborhood in southern California, is Hiroshima's nod to the increasing importance in 21st century America of maintaining a positive and all-inclusive world view from our own respective back yards.

"We're always looking at things from a multicultural perspective," says Kuramoto. "We live in southern California, where the ethnic population is in the majority. We see this as the coolest thing about America. Its strength and its vision comes from its multi-ethnicity. Those differences are going to give us the strength to be more unified. The more we homogenize, the more we give up that notion of cultural diversity, and the less we'll understand each other."

Indeed, the eleven tracks on Little Tokyo embrace numerous musical styles and showcase a band that deftly weaves them together into a satisfying tapestry. "Midnight Sun" is the album's infectious opener, a slightly mysterious but highly melodic track that's front-loaded with a Middle Eastern hook yet spotlights the work of two taiko drum masters, longtime group member Shoji Kameda and his teacher, Kenny Endo. "We have both the student and the master playing on this record," says Kuramoto, "and on some of the tracks they're playing together. Each is an outstanding musician in his own right, and when they play together they truly complement each other."

Kameda and Endo reappear - together and separately - at various points along the way ("Hidden Times," "Shades of Honor," "Hiro Chill" and elsewhere), adding an exotic dimension at every turn.

The second track, "On the Fence," gets under way with an opening riff by keyboardist Kimo Cornwell and bassist Dean Cortez that is deceptively laid back yet energized at the same time. The track blossoms into a lighthearted arrangement that enables Kuramoto and Cornwell to trade licks and stretch their artistic muscles without crowding each other or the song itself.

Guest keyboardist and Heads Up labelmate James Lloyd, on loan from Pieces of a Dream, steps in for the catchy "Lanai." The track allows plenty of room for the Asian sensibilities of June Kuramoto's koto work and the contemporary jazz flavor of Dan Kuramoto's tenor sax.

The midtempo "Sir Charles" is perhaps the most culturally and stylistically blended track in the set, with June Kuramoto's koto deftly juxtaposed against the congas, timbales and other gadgetry of guest percussionist Richie Gajate Garcia. At any given moment in this four-and-a-half minute track, one is likely to hear elements of Asian, Latin, rock and pop music.

"Quan Yin (Goddess of Compassion)" features Karen Hwa-Chee Han on erhu, a Chinese stringed instrument whose hypnotic timbre falls somewhere between the violin and the female human voice. The song sits atop acoustic bassist Dean Taba's simple but solid jazz riffs, and features generous contributions from Kimo Cornwell and June Kuramoto's koto.

The syncopated closer, "Little Tokyo Underground," is Hiroshima's tip of the hat to jazz cats who are daring enough to take chances by setting up funky grooves and working them to their maximum potential, regardless of prevailing musical sensibilities. "Everything is just so marginalized these days, and played so safe," says Kuramoto. "So many musicians are so afraid to stretch themselves. There's so little that they're allowed to play if they want to survive commercially. But we as a band have always believed that there's more to it than that, and we will continue on our journey to explore those possibilities, regardless of the next fad on the horizon."

Kuramoto understands that Hiroshima's optimistic view of multiculturalism may be difficult for some to grasp, but to his way of thinking, the artist's role has always been rooted in idealism over realism.

"Optimism is not generated on likelihood," he says. "What I do know is the lessons I've learned from guys like Miles Davis and James Moody - or various other prominent or groundbreaking artists throughout history, for that matter. You have a vision, and you live according to that vision every day, in everything you do and everything you create. Look at Van Gogh, one of the great painters of all time. He never sold a painting in his life, but he changed the way the entire world looks at art and artists. That's the role of the artist in society - to constantly reshuffle the deck and force the rest of us to look at the world in a different way."

Learn more about Hiroshima and their music at www.hiroshimamusic.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:29 PM

April 12, 2007

Don't Miss Jay Rowe's Smooth Jazz for Scholars Benefit

JayRowe.gifJay Rowe, pianist and keyboard player from Milford, Connecticut, announces the 5th Annual Benefit Concert for the Milford Public School System Music Department, to be held SATURDAY APRIL 28TH, 2007 at 8:00PM in The Parsons Complex in Milford, Connecticut. Located at 70 West River Street in Milford, doors will open at 7:00 PM. General admission is $40.00. For tickets and information, call (203) 874-4150 or see below.

A host of talented and familiar artists comprise the line-up for this benefit, including Ken Navarro, Marion Meadows, Chieli Minucci, Nelson Rangell, and F.U.Jazzboy featuring Rohn Lawrence, Jay Rowe, Dave Livolsi, Timmy Maia, and Trever Somerville.

Having attended this benefit twice, I can say this is a great night of music and fun for a worthy cause, and Rowe is the one who pulls it all together. He's an extremely happy player, often searching the faces of those in the audience to make sure they're having as much fun as he is. His smiles and excitement are contagious!

Many fans are familiar with Jay Rowe as an accomplished sideman. He's performed with artists such as Heads Up recording artist Marion Meadows, Angela Bofill, Private Music recording artist Phil Perry, Schanachie recording artist Chieli Minucci and Special EFX, Positive Music recording artist Ken Navarro and Atlantic recording artist Wayman Tisdale. He has also composed music for GRP/Schanachie recording artist Nelson Rangell, Marion Meadows, and Peak recording artist Dotsero. He has performed at Jazz Festivals around the continent including Newport Beach, Catalina Island Jazztrax Festival, the Greater Hartford Connecticut Jazz Festival, and the Berks Jazz Festival. Jay has performed with the Sax Pack tour group with Jeff Kashiwa and Kim Waters.

For more than 10 years, Rowe has performed as a solo pianist (with four CDs of his own). He also performs with his own group "The Jay Rowe Band". He has performed as the opening act for David Benoit, the Rippingtons, Bela Fleck and the Fleck Tones, Stanley Jordan, Jeff Lorber, and Candy Dulfer. Rowe's CDs include A Dream I Had, Jay Walking, Laugh Out Loud, and his latest which came out last year, Red, Hot and Smooth.. All his CDs are good, and in particular, his Red, Hot and Smooth is just that -- red, hot and smooth! I would definitely recommend that you add this CD to your collection.


Additional Ticket Information:
Online Orders: Mastercard or Visa.

Send checks or money orders (payable to Jay Rowe) to:
Attn: Jay Rowe
P.O. Box 3723
Milford, CT 06460

Ticket may also be purchased at these locations:

Cafe Atlantique Arciuolo's Shoe Store
33 River Street 74 Broad Street
Milford, CT 06460 Milford, CT 06460
(203) 882-1602 (203) 877-7463


The Canvas Patch Milford Fine Arts Center
5 River Street 40 Railroad Avenue
Milford, CT 06460 (at Milford Train Station)
(203) 878-7505 Milford, CT 06460
(203) 878-6647
Wednesday - Friday 10am-1pm

All others can be purchased at the door. Hope to see you there!!

For more information about Jay Rowe, please visit www.jayrowemusic.com

Happy Jazzin'

Beverly J. Packard
Jazz Circle Member of the Berks Arts Council
Reading, Pennsylvania

Posted by Beverly J. Packard at 5:01 AM

March 21, 2007

More than 25,000 music lovers flocked at the 5th Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival 2007

Dubai is still reverberating with the soulful sounds

Dubai2007.jpgWhile Dubai’s International Jazz Festival 2006 was proclaimed the best yet, this year’s performances are almost certain to repeat if not better this record.

The Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival 2007 (S-DIJF) brought jazz fanatics who flocked to Dubai from all over the UAE, the GCC and from Europe, three spectacular nights of quality music and performances, complimented by a magical atmosphere and a stunning set-up, and has left people euphoric and hungry for more. This was the 5th year of this hugely popular event and its success, thanks to an unparalleled, legendary line up, was evident from the cheers of an appreciative crowd the applauses of which are still resonating around the idyllic venue at Dubai Media City’s outdoor amphitheatre.

“On the first night we had a crowd of 6,500 fans, 9,000 attended the second night of the event, and an incredible crowd of 9,500 attended the final night of performances.” Said Anthony Younes, managing director of Chillout Productions, founders and organizers of the Dubai Jazz Festival.

The first night, Thursday March 8, saw the oriental jazz band, Kamal Musallam Trio, open the festival to great acclaim from the audience. The strains of middle-eastern jazz-fusion filled the air as Kamal added his unique, doleful sounding Glissentar, an innovative instrument created by Godin, which is an amazing marriage of the guitar and the oud. Musallam’s alluring hybrid of oriental passion and charming jazz was the perfect opener.

Suitably ‘warmed up’ by Kamal, the audience welcomed the second act, a living legend in the person of the soulful Freddy Cole. Cole, already a confirmed favorite of the UAE’s jazz and blues aficionados, did not disappoint. Playing to his audience, Cole delivered a polished performance, in his inimitable easy going style which, coupled with his unforgettably husky voice and acute sense of melodic and rhythmic phrasing made his interpretations of both pop and jazz music very much his own.

Subsequently, Guy Manoukian, the charismatic, Armenian origin, Lebanese born composer, stormed the Cadillac stage with his unique style of classical jazz/oriental music. Manoukian enthralled the strong Lebanese contingent and others with cover versions of Fairouz and traditional Armenian songs ‘jazzed up’ (if you’ll pardon the pun) with catchy upbeat rhythms that had people literally dancing all around; these were featured alongside several of his own compositions. Manoukian was called back on stage to perform another number that kept the crowd applauding until long after the stage lights were extinguished.

DeeDee_Dubai.jpgThe artist who topped the bill on the first night was the spectacular Dee Dee Bridgewater, putting on a powerful show with the aid of her Malian family The Dee Dee Bridgewater Malian Project. Dee Dee’s repertoire delved into the roots of jazz, blues and her own history as an ‘Afro-American’. The power of her voice and the energy and spirit of her performance was the perfect end to a fabulous evening that celebrated the jazz movement from all four corners of the earth.

The local blues hero Sergio Bekhazi, formerly of the Sergio Bekhazi Trio, opened the second night of the S-DIJF 2007 ably assisted by Drummer Tim Burnell and his own brother cum bassist, Roy Bekhazi. Sergio, winner of several North American blues guitar magazine awards, ‘charged up’ the crowd with a selection of music from such legends as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, John Mayer and others, in addition to some of his compositions.

3LadiesBlues.jpgIn true Emirates style, Sergio was given a rousing reception and a big hand of thanks when his performance regrettably came to a close and he handed the stage over to the Three Ladies of Blues, whose singing was as impressive as their looks. Powerful, moving and sexy are some of the adjectives evoked by the sheer vocal strength and range of these three virtuosos, who delivered an intensely emotional and moving performance. The audience of the 2007 S-DIJF were captivated and taken back to the early years of Harlem paying tribute to such great female Jazz, Blues and Gospel singers and musicians as Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Diana Washington along with a number of other stars of black American music, whose music and lyrics are still strong in our minds even today…

What more can be said about the seasoned jazz veteran, amazing trumpet virtuoso and prolific composer Randy Brecker who, following the Three Ladies of Blues, shared the Cadillac stage with his wife, Ada Rovatti, a fluent tenor and an accomplished soprano saxophonist in her own right. The audience was transported by the melodic sounds of this traditional and funky jazz duet.

Toto_Lukather.jpgThe much anticipated Toto, who were celebrating 30 years together on stage, along with the 9,000-strong audience at the Jazz Festival, ably lived up to their reputation. This legendary group that has hundreds of well-merited credits, tributes and honors to their names, blew away the crowd for a full two and a half hours. Professionalism at its best!

The finale to our three-day jazz extravaganza was initiated by the popular Dubai Drums, who were invited back by public demand thanks to the extremely positive audience feedback received after last year’s event. True to form, Dubai Drums put on an intensely interactive and truly astounding show that energized the crowd and has surely given them something to talk about for months to come.

Next, S-DIJF 2007 attendees welcomed on stage the European jazz-chart-topping Robin McKelle. McKelle treated the attentive crowd to a selection of songs from her debut solo album Introducing Robin McKelle, extending her repertoire of mesmerizing songs that echoed with haunting memories of the postwar jazz greats to include a touch of retro-swing and demonstrating the range of her remarkable soul-infused, alto pitched voice.

Fresh from two successful world tours, a Grammy nomination (their third), a Gibson Guitar Award, a Jazz Trax "Album of the Year" Award and a National Smooth Jazz Awards nomination in the "Group/Duo of the Year" category, the British jazz group Acoustic Alchemy closed the Cadillac stage performances on March 10, 2007 with a sensational performance of their two acoustic guitars concept via an adventurous mix of Latin, jazz, pop and soul textures which drew people closer and closer to the stage, mesmerized!

Jamie Cullum, the dynamic 26-year-old British singer, songwriter, and pianist met everybody’s expectations, and then some! The crowd was electric, but not more than the artist himself, who gave a performance to top all performances - one that will stay in the memories of everyone who had the good fortune to be there. Cullum played songs from his Verve debut album, Twentysomething, leaving the audience in no doubt as to why he has set the record as the fastest-selling jazz debut artiste in UK history. The album was certified Platinum in just six weeks, selling over two million copies (including nearly 400,000 in the States) and garnering a Grammy nomination. Jamie’s repertoire for the 2007 S-DIJF as well as including songs from his new album, Catching Tales, also featured titles such as "Photograph" along with some songs from his second album Pointless Nostalgic. Cullum’s performance was truly incredible. An onlooker from the crowd was heard to declare “What a performer, he truly is the face of modern jazz.’

Anthony said, “My sincere thanks go out to the main sponsors Skywards, Cadillac, Emirates, to name just a few, and all the press and media partners and to everyone who has contributed to the success of this incredible event. We will, of course, endeavor to put together an equally illustrious line-up of invitees for next year.”

The two stages, worked well giving the public the chance to discover all the additional stands that were there, as they took a leisurely stroll along the paved walkways between the two stages. Not forgetting the Arts & Crafts village located next to the Cadillac stage which showcased some of its best crafts so far. The atmosphere was one of relaxed conviviality; the food and beverage village catered by Hilton had a wide variety of snacks to suit all tastes, from burgers and shawarmas, to the famous Zaatar W Zeit, right down to the Seatle’s Best Coffee.

“This year we added a second jamming session venue besides Jambase, Madinat Jumeirah “Midnight Jamming Session”, held at the Tamaniya terrace, Radisson SAS Hotel “Midnight Shisha & Jazz”, and it had proved to be highly successful with Furat Qaddouri Quartet and all the festival musicians stepping on stage to create what we call the “magic pot”! said Anthony, adding, “and we can promise all our fans that next year is going to be no less surprise- filled than the years before.

Its an ongoing thriving vision, we have to keep the Jazz festival reflecting nothing less than electrifying music blended with dazzling performances that would appeal to the true music thirsted ever growing audience, leaving them anticipating the following show that is constantly evolving to evoke the soul in Dubai’s creative music scene. See you next year at the 2008 Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival which is going to take place in the first 10 days of March.”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 3:10 PM

March 16, 2007

15th Annual Capital Jazz Fest

CapitalJazzFest2007.jpgThis year's 15th annual Capital Jazz Festival starts already on Wednesday evening, as usual held at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland May 30 - June 3, 2007. Tickets are on sale now at all TicketMaster locations in the Washington/Baltimore area, including Macy's (formerly Hecht's) and Record & Tape Traders. Tickets are also available online at the festival's web site. More infos are available at www.capitaljazz.com.

The Capital Jazz Fest offers a premium selection of music from both jazz and soul/r&b genres delivering a great mix of music, additionally the event provides a beautiful outdoor atmosphere and lots more. Check out this year's great lineup!

Talent Lineup

Wednesday, May 30
7:30pm
George Benson & Al Jarreau, Gerald Albright

Thursday, May 31
7:30pm
Herbie Hancock, The Jazz Attack (featuring Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Peter White, & Jonathan Butler)

Friday, June 1
7:30pm
Special event!
An Evening with Anita Baker

Saturday, June 2
12 noon-10pm
Pavilion Stage
The Jazzmasters (featuring Gregg Karukas, Shilts, & Chris Standring), David Sanborn, Brenda Russell, Bob James (with special surprise guest), Eric Darius, Ray Parker Jr.
Special guest emcee: Tommy Davidson

Symphony Woods Stage
War, Amel Larrieux, Kindred The Family Soul, Raul Midon, Musiq Soulchild

Plus the 4th annual Capital Jazz Challenge competition

Sunday, June 3
12 noon-10pm
Pavilion Stage
Dave Koz, The Brand New Heavies (featuring N'dea Davenport), Ramsey Lewis, Take 6, Najee, Nick Colionne, Diane Schuur
Special guest emcee: Tommy Davidson

Symphony Woods Stage
Isaac Hayes, The Original Blackbyrds (with special guest Kevin Toney), Vivian Green, Victor Fields, Hil St. Soul

Plus the 3rd annual Capital Jazz Poetry Slam

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:10 PM

March 14, 2007

Fresh & funky soul grooves from gifted young saxman Jackiem Joyner scheduled for delivery May 8th

Babysoul previewed by radio single “Stay With Me Tonight”

JackiemJoyner1.jpgA fresh young soul talent will emerge May 8th with the birth of Babysoul, the ARTizen Music Group debut disc from Jackiem Joyner, saxophonist, flutist, songwriter and producer. The artist enters the fray with the seductive soprano sax-led single, “Stay With Me Tonight,” featuring special guest Peter White on acoustic guitar, now collecting adds at radio. Joyner produced the album and wrote ten soul, R&B and funk songs sweetened with touches of contemporary jazz and instrumental pop. Rick Braun executive produced in addition to contributing trumpet and flugelhorn.

Joyner impresses with the confidence in his swagger that reflects maturity beyond his 27 years. His compositions are accessible and inviting yet astute and challenging. As a producer, his sounds and beats are imaginative, sensual and dynamic. Joyner’s lead sax is often in tandem on choruses with his flute, which adds richness and warmth as well as uniqueness. Most of the instrumentation you hear on the album was performed by Joyner. Babysoul opens with a shuffling beat on the energizing “This Time Around.” David Dyson pummels the title track with his robust bass. “Just Groove” is a funky, swinging jam with big horns. The amorous “In Love Again” is a mid-tempo flute and sax duet. Joyner beautifully covers the sexy “Say Yes,” originally recorded by Floetry. “Share My Tears” is a down-tempo commercial ballad. Named for his wife, “Lola” is intricately musical with sax and flute carrying the melody while a kinetic beat dances. “Unforgiven” is another steamy Quiet Storm romancer. Upbeat sax and flute engage in a call-and-response dialect on “Elevation.” Closing the album is “Innocence,” a poignant, heartfelt slow jam.

JackiemJoyner_Babysoul.jpg“I want my debut album to speak about who I am as well as make a statement from a baby artist coming into the game. My message is simple: soulful sax, with the emphasis on soul,” said Joyner coolly. “I love writing music and I’m often awoken in the middle of the night with new songs running through my head. In fact, I’ve already started writing the next album.”

JackiemJoyner2.jpgBorn into a musical family in Norfolk, Virginia (his father was a professional bassist), Joyner’s first experiences in music were in church where he sang in the gospel choir and played drums. After moving to Buffalo, New York for middle school, he picked up the sax. In three consecutive years, the teenager won national youth achievement competitions sponsored by the NAACP in music categories. He moved back to Virginia after high school and became the leader of a church-affiliated music department, which enabled him to travel to perform in Africa. His demo ended up in the hands of keyboardist and Three Key Music label owner Marcus Johnson, who added Joyner to his band. Joyner played with Bobby Lyle and other artists on the label and eventually landed a spot on a 30-city tour opening for Angela Bofill, Ronnie Laws and Jean Carne. He’s also had the opportunity to open for George Duke, Najee, Phil Perry and Bob Baldwin. Now Joyner’s sights are firmly set on supporting his own recordings in addition to creating soul music with impact.

Jackiem Joyner’s Babysoul contains the following songs:

“This Time Around”
“Stay With Me Tonight”
“Babysoul”
“Just Groove”
“In Love Again”
“Innocence”
“Say Yes”
“Share My Tears”
“Lola”
“Unforgiven”
“Elevation”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 4:46 PM

March 13, 2007

Keyboardist-composer Lao Tizer broadens his jazz muse on Diversify

April 3rd album release prefaced by radio single “Uptown”
 
By the time keyboardist-composer Lao Tizer was 17, he had already released three self-produced, self-released solo piano and keyboard albums.  Being an overachiever who ambitiously strives to grow, stretch and achieve new heights comes naturally to him.  Tizer is now set to release an expansive and accomplished sophomore outing with his own band.  Diversify will be unveiled nationally on April 3rd via his Yse Records label, which is distributed by the ARTizen Music Group.  Tizer wrote fourteen new songs for the sumptuous opus that clocks in at over 77-minutes of inventive contemporary jazz that encompasses fusion, classical, World Music, Latin and instrumental pop tapestries.  He also co-produced the record, with his long-time guitarist Jeff Kollman seated in the producer’s chair.

Radio was recently serviced the first taste of Diversify, the funky, hooky, accessible urban-powered “Uptown,” a song Tizer and his band use to close their dynamic concerts.  Although he records under his own name, Tizer is quick to emphasize the group aspect of the project and the invaluable contributions the band makes to his music both in the recording studio and on stage.  He humbly shares the spotlight equally with Jeff Kollman (guitars, programming), Steve Nieves (vocals, saxophones and percussion), Christopher Maloney (bass) and Drew Megna (drums).  Special guests on the album include guitarist Chieli Minucci (Special EFX), violinist Karen Briggs (Yanni, Chaka Khan), percussionist D. Munyungo Jackson (Sting, Stevie Wonder) and saxophonist Andy Suzuki (Michael Franks, David Benoit).  While diverse, the songs are seamlessly bound by a thread that keeps the collection cohesive.  As a composer, Tizer deftly dispenses simple intoxicating pop melodies, astute and complex compositions that incorporate a variety of musical stylings, fun and robust R&B-funk jams, and beautiful, sensitive moments that touch and emote poetically.

“The music on the album represents what inspires me.  It’s a combination of influences including World Music, funk and intimate moments,” explained Tizer.  “The message behind the album is about being open to the music and the journeys it can take you on if you allow it.  It represents diversity and the melding of composition and improvisation.  It’s the combination of both (composition and improvisation) that can elevate the musical experience from the mundane into something truly special.”
 
Tizer’s fiery, youthful and compelling concerts play a major part of what makes the artist a complete musician.  He’ll lead his band out to launch the push to support the album release on the concert trail on April 13th by opening for legends George Benson & Al Jarreau at the prestigious Jacksonville Jazz Festival in Florida.  
 
A native of Boulder, Colorado, Tizer began his performing career early when as an enterprising 14 –year-old, he played at outdoor malls for tips to earn money to repay his parents for the money they loaned him to purchase a keyboard and P.A. System.  The teenager started producing and selling albums, which is how he met his first manager.  After moving to Los Angeles, Tizer met Minucci, who mentored the youth and produced his debut band recording, Golden Soul (2001).  The disc spawned the popular radio single, “Her Poetry,” a track that hit the Billboard and Radio & Records charts and garnered him a “Best New Artist” nomination at the 2002 National Smooth Jazz Awards.  Additional information can be found at www.laotizer.com.               
 
Lao Tizer’s Diversify contains the following songs:
 
“A Night In The City”
“Uptown”
“Diversify”
“Flow”
“A Hui Hou (Til We Meet Again)”
“Olivas Adobe”
“Summer Dayz”          
“Autumn Sky”
“Improvisation”
“Up A Notch”
“Namaste”
“November”
“Rapture”
“Ella’s First Light”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:38 PM

March 9, 2007

Guitarist Jeff Golub’s Grand Central opens with a strong buzz

Jazz-blues-rock homage to New York City critically-praised
 
Celebrating the diversity and bustling energy of the city he’s called home for more than twenty years, guitarist Jeff Golub’s Grand Central album was released in record stores Tuesday (March 6th) by Narada Jazz/Blue Note Label Group.  The vibe he captured is “live,” as if he grabbed his guitar, headed down to a dimly lit, gritty blues or jazz club in New York City, plugged in and started jamming with a talented group of friends.  That’s pretty much how the album was recorded, although it was tracked in several recording studios.  However, Golub, who produced most of this, his seventh solo album in addition to writing or co-writing eight songs, kept things loose and casual, allowing the musicians the freedom to improvise and freely explore the jazz, blues, rock, R&B and pop melodies and rhythms.  There’s nothing particularly smooth about this edgy musician who brings blues and rock to contemporary jazz.  
 
Taking its title from an old Dentyne commercial, “Hello Betty” prefaced the album release at radio where the signature Golub track is swiftly moving up the chart.  The funky horn section and a bumpin’ groove on the Rick Braun-produced cut get scorched by Golub’s cool-toned, incendiary guitar lead.  Special guest appearances and contributions to Grand Central were made by Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Kirk Whalum, Philippe Saisse and Paul Brown, with Braun and Brown producing a few tracks.  But the NYC cats Golub was primarily chillin’ with were drummers Steve Ferrone and Shawn Pelton, Chris Palmero (keyboards, Hammond B3, rhythm guitar), Mitchel Forman (piano, organ & string synth, Fender Rhodes & clavinet), bassist Lincoln Goines, percussionist Luis Conte, saxophonist Dave Woodford, and trombonist Nick Lane while Steven Miller co-produced, recorded and mixed the record.

Golub, who begins co-headlining the national Guitars & Saxes Tour with Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum and Tim Bowman at the Nokia Theatre in New York City on March 24th with concert dates that run through the end of the summer, is getting some love from the media.  He’s scheduled to appear on an episode of Smooth Jazz Television, record an intimate performance for Sirius Satellite Radio, and grace the cover of next month’s annual guitar special issue of West Coast trade Music Connection magazine. 
 
The album reviews have also been quite favorable.  Jazz USA stated, “Jeff Golub's new release (his seventh solo album) is full of fire and energy.  It has a distinct New York City vibe and manages to capture the artist in his own unique element.”  All Music Guide wrote, “At his best, as on this exciting collection, he's raw and just a bit dirty, wailing with his buddies and having some loose, energetic fun…He plays it mostly fast and funky, but shows a unique emotional depth…”  ABYSSJazz Magazine enthused, “The result is vintage Golub – funky, fresh and infused with the spontaneous feel that live sessions engender.  It's a diverse set of originals and covers with highlights galore…You can tell the musicians are having a grand time creating this music.  It's a New York vibe with universal appeal!”  Smooth Jazz Therapy concurred, “…this natural flare he has for delivering raw and honest recordings spills out into every one of the eleven choice tracks.  Although a delicious mix of rock, pop and electric plus acoustic blues, excellent examples of R&B tinged contemporary jazz also abound…”  SmoothViews declared, “Sometimes you hear guys like Jeff Golub, who used to back rockers like Rod Stewart, referred to as ‘former rockers.’  I’ve seen Jeff play live.  There’s no ‘former’ about him.  He’s still a rocker!  And with his latest release, Grand Central, Golub brings on the feel and flavor of New York City with tracks that cover everything from jazz to blues to rock.”
 
Additional information can be found at www.jeffgolub.com

Posted by Peter Böhi at 4:13 PM

March 4, 2007

Jacksonville Jazz Festival 2007

Mayor Peyton and the City of Jacksonville Announce 2007 Jacksonville Jazz Festival Activities and Lineup

Jazz-07-poster-web.jpgThe City of Jacksonville is proud to announce an exciting lineup of activities for the 2007 Jacksonville Jazz Festival Friday, April 13 through Sunday, April 15.

This year’s festival will take place in three downtown venues: The Florida Theatre, Metropolitan Park, and the Ritz Theatre & LaVilla Museum.

“The Jacksonville Jazz Festival is one of the city’s marquee events,” said Mayor John Peyton. “With exciting events and performances scheduled throughout the weekend, it’s a great opportunity for everyone to come out and experience some of the country’s most talented jazz musicians at great downtown venues”.

Metropolitan Park will also be the site of Art at the Met, an art show and sale featuring many of the Southeast’s finest artists and craftspeople and 38° Latitude: A Wine Tasting Experience.

The Florida Theatre will house the Jazz Odyssey: A Retrospective of Photographs by Milt Hinton, an, exhibit from the late Milton J. Hinton, a renowned jazz bassist who captured the lives of jazz musicians at work and play for more than six decades. Photos of Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Cab Calloway are just a few that are featured in this collection. This exhibit will be on display at The Florida Theatre during festival hours Friday, April 13-Sunday, April 15.

General admission to the festival each day is $10 plus applicable service charges. Experience Jazz VIP packages are good at all venues all festival days for $150 plus applicable service charges. Tickets can be purchased beginning Feb. 27 at Noon.

The ‘Round Midnight Jazz Jam on Saturday, April 14 at The Jacksonville Marriott is free to the public. Jazz fans are encouraged to bring their instruments and jam with festival performers.

The Ritz Jazz Brunch on Sunday, April 15 will be $25 at the door.

Complimentary trolley transportation provided by Verizon Wireless to and from Metropolitan Park, The Florida Theatre and the Ritz Theatre & LaVilla Museum will be provided Friday, April 13 – Sunday, April 15, making one-time parking and venue-hopping easy for festival attendees.

Entertainment Schedule
The Florida Theatre- 128 East Forsyth Street
Friday, April 13
6 p.m. Doors Open
7 p.m. The Great American Jazz Piano Competition

The Great American Jazz Piano Competition has been a Jacksonville tradition for more than 20 years. Five finalists, chosen by a selection committee through "blind" judging, will compete for the honor of this award. The first-place winner will receive a monetary prize of $3,500 and will perform at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival 2007 on Saturday, April 14, at Metropolitan Park. The finalists will be announced the week of March 5.

The rhythm section accompanying the five finalists during the piano competition includes Jay Leonhart on bass and Danny Gottlieb on drums. In addition, the 2007 Jacksonville Jazz Hall of Fame inductee, Von Barlow, will perform with emcee Noel Freidline during the competition.

Artists and performance times are subject to change. See Ticket Pricing for complete information.

Saturday, April 14
1:30 p.m. Doors Open
2:30 p.m. Greg Adams
4 p.m. St. Johns River City Band with special guest Diane Schuur
6 p.m. Regina Carter
7:30 p.m. McCoy Tyner

Sunday, April 15
1 p.m. Doors Open
2 p.m. The Original Super Stars of Jazz Fusion featuring Roy Ayers, Jean Carne, Wayne Henderson of the Jazz Crusaders, Ronnie Laws, Jon Lucien and Lonnie Liston Smith with The Ubiquity Band
4 p.m. Noel Freidline Quintet
5:30 p.m. Dianne Reeves

Artists and performance times are subject to change. See Ticket Pricing for complete information.


Metropolitan Park - 1410 Gator Bowl Boulevard
Friday, April 13
6 p.m. Gates Open
7 p.m. Lao Tizer
8:30 p.m. George Benson and Al Jarreau
6 p.m. Art at the Met Art Show and Sale
6 p.m. 38° Latitude: A Wine Tasting Experience

Saturday, April 14
10 a.m. Gates Open
12:30 p.m. The Great American Jazz Piano Competition Winner
1:30 p.m. Douglas Anderson School of the Arts Jazz Ensemble I
3 p.m. UNF Jazz Ensemble 1 with special guest Ed Calle
4:45 p.m. The Dizzy Gillespie™ All Star Big Band under the direction of Slide Hampton
6:30 p.m. Wayman Tisdale
8:15 p.m. Jazz Attack featuring Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler, Richard Elliot and Peter White
10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Art at the Met Art Show and Sale
2 -10 p.m. 38° Latitude: A Wine Tasting Experience

Sunday, April 15
Noon Gates Open
1 p.m. The Kelly-Scott 5tet with special guest Ed Calle
2:30 p.m. The Big 3 Palladium Orchestra
4 p.m. Karrin Allyson Quartet
5:30 p.m. Chris Botti
Noon- 7 p.m. Art at the Met Art Show and Sale
Noon – 7 p.m. 38° Latitude…A Wine Tasting Experience

Artists and performance times are subject to change. See Ticket Pricing for complete information.


The Ritz Theatre & LaVilla Museum - 829 North Davis Street
Friday, April 13
Late Night at the Ritz
8:30 p.m. Doors Open
9 p.m. Urban Jazz Coalition
10:30 p.m. Guitars & Saxes featuring Gerald Alright, Kirk Whalum, Jeff Golub and Tim Bowman.

Saturday, April 14
4:30 p.m. Doors Open
5:30 p.m. Ya’ Gozo’ The Latin Jazz Band
7 p.m. Johnny O’Neal
8:30 p.m. Roy Haynes

Sunday, April 15
10:30 a.m. Doors Open
11 a.m. Jazz Brunch catered by Chef Matthew Medure featuring The PM Xperience Band
Live broadcast of the Na’im Rashid’s “First Sunday Cup” radio show.
1:30 p.m. Marc Dickman
3 p.m. Chuck Mangione

Artists and performance times are subject to change. See Ticket Pricing for complete information.


For more information about the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, call the Office of Special Events at (904) 630-3690 or visit www.jaxjazzfest.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:21 PM

February 27, 2007

Stanley Clarke’s Night School Is In Session On New Heads Up DVD

Musicians Institute concert features Stevie Wonder, Stewart Copeland, Marcus Miller, Bela Fleck and many others

7118.jpgBassist/composer/producer Stanley Clarke has done it all. A teenage prodigy from the musically and culturally rich city of Philadelphia, he emerged in the early 1970s with an innovative style that immediately redefined his instrument’s potential in virtually every genre of music – jazz, R&B, rock, funk, world and beyond. Both as a solo artist and a co-founder of the seminal quartet Return To Forever, and later as a composer for the big and small screens, Clarke has compiled a resume that includes an impressive list of gold and platinum records, GRAMMYs, Emmys and much more.

But after more than three decades of awards and accolades, Clarke still insists that education is his highest calling. Since the late 1990s, his annual Stanley Clarke Scholarship has given a boost to numerous up-and-coming young musicians – bass players and otherwise – from all parts of the world. The scholarship is marked by an annual concert that continues to draw a lineup of high-profile musicians every year.

Night School: An Evening with Stanley Clarke and Friends (HUDV-7118) is a star-studded DVD set for release on Heads Up International through Clarke’s own Roxboro Entertainment Group on March 27, 2007. The 90-minute presentation chronicles the third annual Stanley Clarke Scholarship Concert, recorded at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA, in October 2002. With guest performances by Stevie Wonder, Wallace Roney, Bela Fleck, Sheila E., Stewart Copeland, Flea, Wayman Tisdale, Marcus Miller and more, Night School captures performances that range from straightahead jazz to full-tilt rock fusion to twenty-two-piece string arrangements – all on one stage, all in a single night!

“We had great chemistry at the scholarship concert in 2003,” says Clarke of the Night School DVD. “The thing I really liked about that concert – aside from raising the money for the scholarship – was that all these great people showed up, and just got up onstage and played with no real rehearsal to speak of. They just got up there, and this energy and groove just sort of happened.”

StanleyClarke_bw1.jpgAmong Clarke’s favorite moments in the concert – and the DVD – is a segment wherein he’s joined by electric banjoist Bela Fleck and violinist Karen Briggs in “Song To John,” a composition written by Clarke and dedicated to jazz pioneer John Coltrane. Immediately afterward, drummer Stewart Copeland (formerly of the Police) settles in behind the kit and takes the foursome through “The Lochs of Dread,” a song penned by Fleck during his tenure in the short-lived bluegrass combo Strength in Numbers.

Throughout the DVD, the musical numbers are intercut with commentary from Clarke on the merits of Musicians Institute and the value of education for young and aspiring musicians. Likewise, various other musicians from the concert lineup also weigh in with high praise for Clarke, his scholarship, his commitment to education in general and his contribution to the jazz tradition and the role of the bass within it.

The tone shifts to the orchestral when a full string section takes the stage to perform a series of compositions from Clarke’s vast catalog of film scores. The segment includes “Frequent Flyer” from Passenger 57; the theme from Boyz ‘N the Hood; and “Anna Mae,” from the 1993 Tina Turner biopic What’s Love Got To Do With It?

The energy level ratchets up several notches in a “The Big Jam,” featuring bassist Flea (from Red Hot Chili Peppers), Briggs, Copeland and drummer/percussionist Sheila E. Stevie Wonder follows with “Every Day I Have the Blues” and Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” two classics delivered with an ensemble that includes Clarke, Briggs, keyboardist Rodney Franklin (on “Blues”) and drummer Gerry Brown.

StanleyClarke_clr1.jpgThe finale is a monster jam that Clarke himself characterizes as “way off the hook.” The free-for-all features Clarke accompanied by an army of no less than 10 bass players – including Flea, Wayman Tisdale, Marcus Miller and a host of other axemen – each taking a turn riffing on an extended version of Clarke’s landmark hit “School Days.”

Sometimes thundering, sometimes understated and thought-provoking, Night School is an eclectic affair, but one that holds together because of a universal willingness by everyone present to reach out to future generations of musicians and lend a helping hand. “I don’t care what kind of music you’re into – jazz, R&B, country, or whatever – there’s a certain point in your life when you decide that you want to make it as a musician,” says Clarke, who began teaching bass at age 16 and continues to do so forty years later, despite a perennially hectic recording and touring schedule. “That feeling is something that you never really forget, and you recognize it in other people. I think the common thread among everyone in this performance is that they’re all looking to somehow help a kid or a couple kids attain their goals. The individual genre or style doesn’t really have anything to do with it.”

He adds: “I guess I really have a soft spot for that kid in school who’s just trying to make it, or that kid who isn’t in school but wants to get into a good program that will help him really maximize his potential. If there’s anything I can do to help that kid, I’m there, and I will probably always be calling on a lot of people to help me in that regard.”

Night School is the precursor to a Clarke’s yet-to-be-titled CD project scheduled for release on Heads Up in June 2007.

Stanley Clarke
Night School
(DVD)

HUVD7118
UPC: 0-53361-7118-9-4
Release Date: March 27, 2007

DVD Chapter Listing:
1. The Floor
2. Wild Dog
3. Goodbye Porkpie Hat
4. Song to John
5. The Lochs of Dread
6. Frequent Flyer
7. Anna Mae
8. Theme from Boyz 'N The Hood
9. Big Jam
10. Every Day I Have The Blues
11. Giant Steps
12. School Days

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:36 PM

February 25, 2007

An Unrivaled Final Line Up Is Confirmed For The 5th Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival 2007, Featuring More Legends, More Pioneers, More Divas, And Much More Than Jazz…

Chillout Productions, founders and organizers of the Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival (S-DIJF) (www.dubaijazzfest.com), has announced the final line up for the festival’s fifth anniversary edition. The spectacular three-day event will be held on March 8, 9, 10, 2007 at Dubai Media City.

“To add up to the two previously announced artists who will be rocking Dubai by storm, the rock stars Toto and the fantastic Jamie Cullum, we made sure to enclose an unsurpassed three nights of magic by confirming artists such as the living legend, Freddy Cole, the splendid diva, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and the multi-award winners, Acoustic Alchemy, to name a few.” Said Anthony Younes, managing director of Chillout Productions.

DeeDeeBridgewater.jpgThe 1st night, Thursday the 8th of March will feature Kamal Musallam Trio with his Oriental Jazz band, the living legend Freddy Cole who combines consummate ease with a lyric, an acute sense of melodic and rhythmic phrasing and a smoky air voice that helps make his interpretations of pop and jazz songs very much his own. Then comes Guy Manoukian and his unique style of classical jazz/oriental music and finally the magnificent Diva, Dee Dee Bridgewater whom beyond being a dynamic singer with a rip-roaring scat, is a Tony Award-winning actress, an announcer, and a noted humorist..

RandyAda.jpgThe second night, Friday the 9th of March will also play host to a huge line up. A powerful yet dramatic opening act with the Dubai-based blues skilled Sergio Bekhazi and his band, the Three Ladies of Blues who sing the same way they look: powerful, swinging and sexy, the virtuosic trumpeter and prolific composer Randy Brecker along with his wife, the fluent post-bop tenor and soprano saxophonist Ada Rovatti, and finally ending the evening with a treasured memory of the unquestionable rock legends, Toto.

AcousticAlchemy.jpgAnd the closing night, Saturday the 10th of March will witness Dubai Drums with their interactive and exquisite show, the remarkable singing style of Robin McKelle whose soul-infused alto tinged voice will go haunting echoes from the postwar jazz greats. Followed by Robin are the Acoustic Alchemy and their pioneer concept of two acoustic guitars which will be the emotional centrepiece that draws people close and conclusively the phenomenal prodigy, Jamie Cullum.

Besides the confirmation of the final line up of its 5th edition, Chillout Productions has announced ticket sales for the Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival.

Sales of the popular “Early Bird Deal” will be running throughout the month of February at the discount price of AED 165 for the one night ticket and AED 445 for the Three-day season pass and can be exclusively bought from Chillout Productions offices located in CNN building, Dubai Media City, office 312. Regular priced tickets are now also available at all Virgin Megastores, Hallmark, Spinneys and online from www.boxofficeme.com or www.timeouttickets.com.

The 2007 Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival promises to be an enchanting experience where the audience will be exposed to a lot of diverse music over the course of the three nights. The success of the event relies on many factors be it the 2 exceptional and distinctive stages hosted by Skywards and Cadillac, the hospitality chalets, the VIP lounges, the beanbags and the friendly atmosphere, the Food & Beverage village or the Arts & Crafts Bazaar, all together with the beautiful people who will be strolling down the venue at the 2007 Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival.

“This year in addition to the jamming sessions which will take place at Jambase Madinat Jumeirah, we will be having a new concept called, “ Midnight Shisha and Jazz” with musicians Furat Quaddouri and Jon Hassall. This new event will take place on the same dates of the festival, after midnight, at Tamanya Terrace, Radisson SAS Hotel, Dubai Media City and will also have all the participating artists from the festival present for a unforgettable night of spontaneous magic.” Says Eric Kahi, Marketing and Communication Manager of Chillout Productions.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 12:22 PM

February 18, 2007

Randy Crawford And Joe Sample Are Feeling Good About New CD

February release on PRA Records marks reunion of vocalist and pianist more than 30 years after “Street Life” - CD launched worldwide “literally” with December NASA mission

Sample_Crawford.jpgOn Tuesday, February 20, 2007 PRA Records will release Feeling Good, a new album from Randy Crawford and Joe Sample.  This Tommy LiPuma-produced CD marks a return collaboration between vocalist Crawford and pianist Sample who first worked together more than 30 years ago.

To celebrate this special reunion, the album’s upbeat title track and lead single received a literal around-the-world launch in December of 2006, as the song accompanied NASA astronauts on the Space Shuttle STS 116. Astronaut Joan Higginbotham took the song “Feeling Good” with her on the shuttle, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, and the song was selected by NASA as one of the official songs used by Mission Control to wake the astronauts for their daily chores during the 12-day mission.

From the first downbeat of “Feeling Good” through the last note of “Mr. Ugly”, the listener is drawn into the warm embrace of Joe and Randy’s musical heritage, a mixture of soul, jazz, gospel, pop, and a touch of the blues.  One of the premier songstresses in contemporary music, Crawford showcases her versatile vocal instrument on songs such as “All Night Long”, “End of the Line”, and the moving ballad “Save Your Love for Me”.

The lasting mastery of Sample’s piano playing skill is evident through each of the album’s 13 songs.  From their interpretation of Peter Gabriel’s “Lovetown” to the Latin-flavored “Rio de Janiero Blue”, to a modernly funky but also softened reading of “See Line Woman”, Sample’s work on the keys surrounds, highlights, and compliments Crawford’s voice exquisitely.  Some of the other covers chosen for this album include a seductive take on Billie Holiday’s “Tell Me More and More and Then Some”, a breezy run through “Everybody’s Talking”, the tune made famous by Harry Nilsson and the film Midnight Cowboy, and a heartfelt version of  “When I Need You”, written by Albert Hammond and Carol Bayer Sager.  A special sentimental choice is “Last Night at Danceland”, a song written by Sample and originally recorded by Crawford in 1980.
 
The keen interaction between Sample and Crawford throughout the album is a clear testimony to a musical friendship that began three decades ago, when Joe played on Randy’s debut CD, Everything Must Change. Soon after, when writing songs for his influential band The Crusaders, Sample invited Crawford to be a guest on their record and wrote the song “Street Life” especially for her.  Of course, that tune went on to become an international hit, and the two collaborated on and off for years afterwards.  With both artists having worked previously with GRAMMY®-winning producer Tommy LiPuma, the three coming together to record Feeling Good was a natural fit.  Also the joining the team was multiple GRAMMY®-winning engineer Al Schmitt, whose inimitable touch gives the album its flawless, crystal clear sound, along with Steve Gadd on drums and Christian McBride on bass.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 2:20 PM

February 17, 2007

Adriana Evans ‘El Camino’ Out March 12th on Expansion Records

AdrianaEvans.jpgAdriana Evans also known as Adriana Madera, is not just a beautiful face. She is truly a one of a kind artist, the likes of which have not been seen since Natalie Cole and Chaka Khan. She is the daughter of jazz recording artist Mary Stallings, who sang with Count Basie, Dizzie Gillespie and Cal Tjader. Adriana was raised in the Haight Ashbury and Mission District of San Francisco. Exposed early in life to the sounds of jazz and blues by her mother and also the explosive sounds of Afro Cuban music from her father's culture she was destined to be a musical sponge. Her love for soul, rock and hip hop added more to her rich musical tapestry.

When she was a freshman in college she befriended the aspiring rapper Dred Scott. This chance encounter led her to collaboration on his 1994 A&M records release Breaking Combs. Just one year later she and Dred wrote and recorded her debut self titled album on Capitol records. A political shake up at Capitol landed Adriana and the record on RCA/Loud Records. The album was thought to be somewhat revolutionary. It was the first so called "Neo Soul record" at the time. The use of live instrumentation combined with the classic sound of Adriana's vocals took a lot of people off guard. When you think about the musical landscape in 1995, you understand that this album was extremely groundbreaking. It was completely devoid of the synthetic mechanical sounds and stacked vocal stylings of music from that era. Yet this is typical for Adriana, who always finds herself ahead of the curve.

After the release of her first album she became disenchanted with the politics of music. She travelled the world finding an unlimited source of creative inspiration. She spent much of her time in Latin America feeling at home in the relaxed musically enriched environment. Brazil became a home away from home for her spiritually and musically. Upon her return to the US she began assembling her second record Nomadic. This was a project that she and longtime collaborator Dred Scott really enjoyed. It is an eclectic reflection of her musical journey. Nomadic incorporates the sounds of Latin, rock, soul, jazz, blues and hip hop. It reflects the variety of manifestations of black music in the Americas. She states, "Africans came to North America, South America and the Carribean via the slave trade and through some sort of alchemy turned pain into beauty. They gave the world their music!" Nomadic honors their remarkable contributions.

Her new CD, El Camino blends the familiar sounds of her first recording with the growth of her second CD. The musical emphasis of this work is based more on the soul tradition yet it still has eclectic elements that reflect Adriana's unique perspective. The title "El Camino" means the road or path in Spanish. This CD is about Adriana's overall journey, starting from the beginning of her career to the present. El Camino is a path that brings Adriana back to the source and beyond. It is released on 12th March 2007.

AdrianaEvans_ElCamino.jpgHere is what the British music publication "Blues & Soul" had to say abouth this new album: “Whether she likes it or not, just as long as Adriana Evans keeps making music like this she will continue to be categorized as “neo-soul”. If we were to attempt definition of said genre we might talk about organic music, real instrumentation, meaningful lyrics and committed vocals. You’ll find all that here but what makes El Camino different to say the neo soul of Dwele and India Airie is the lightness and joy in the music. This album seems to float on an air of optimism, which might be explained by the singer’s love affair with Brazil – a country we’re told, where despite economic hardships, life seems fresher and freer. Indeed Latin rhythms provide the overriding flavour of the album which opens with the gentle bossa of “Hey Now”. However, “Blue Bird In Bahia” and the title track offer the most overt Brazilian feeling – both with luscious Jobim style guitar. But Ms. Evans, remember, has family roots in jazz and “Blue Bird” and “Same As Ever I Was” have a great loose jazz feeling to them while “World On Fire” is just a great soul groove. For my sins, I found myself going back to “All For Love” – chiefly ‘cos the brass stabs reminded me of vintage Bacharach. In truth though, this isn’t an album of one-off tracks. Here we’re talking about an organic sound that develops though the 12 songs. “El Camino”, the notes say, means “path”. I’d always thought it meant more of a pilgrimage – a spiritual journey if you would… and there's lots of spirituality here, and to me spirituality equates with soul.”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 2:05 PM

February 16, 2007

Keiko Matsui - Moyo

KeikoMatsui_Moyo.jpgContemporary Jazz icon Keiko Matsui's new album, Moyo (Swahili for "heart and soul"), recorded on location with musicians in South Africa, Japan and the United States, introduces new sounds and rhythms to her elegant piano melodies and gentle jazz grooves. Matsui's first self-produced album - this time without the usual input from her ex-husband Kazu Matsui - Moyo debuts April 24th from Shout! Factory.
 
The 12 new songs on Moyo evoke a sense of freedom and independence, as this is the first time Matsui has had total artistic control. For this special project, Matsui invited other artists into the creative process, including legendary trumpeter Hugh Masakela, tenor sax player Gerald Albright, soprano sax player Paul Taylor, Richard Bona on bass and vocals Akira Jimbo on Drums and Waldemar Bastos on Vocals.
 
Recording in South Africa influenced the songs on the album greatly. "A Great Romance" was inspired by a piano factory in the country side, the only place available for rehearsal, while "Marula" was written after she tasted the fruit from an elephant tree. With over 1.2 million units sold in the U.S. and sold-out appearances at concert halls across the world, Matsui is one of the most recognized artists in the genre. A mainstay on the concert circuit, Matsui looks forward to an extensive world tour this spring and summer. Dates begin in March in cities around the world from South Africa and Ukraine to Los Angeles, CA and New York, NY.

1. Moyo (Heart And Soul)
2. A Great Romance
3. Into The Night
4. Caricias
5. An Evening In Gibraltar
6. When I Close My Eyes
7. After The Rain
8. Allure
9. Black River
10. Old Potch Road
11. Um Novo Dia (A New Day)
12. Marula

Guest musicians:
Hugh Masekela - horns
Gerald Albright - sax
Paul Taylor - sax
Richard Bona - bass
Jimbo Akira - Drums

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:42 PM

February 4, 2007

Vesta Pays Homage to Her Musical Heroes on Shanachie Debut Distant Lover

Vocalist Reinvents Timeless R&B Songs Sung By Marvin Gaye, The Spinners, Smokey Robinson, Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder, Deniece Williams & Other R&B Icons

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word ‘classic’ as ‘being of the highest, rank or class’ or ‘serving as an outstanding representation of a kind.’ Vesta’s new CD Distant Lover exemplifies the word ‘classic’ on a number of levels. Not only is her Shanachie debut a sampling of some of the greatest R&B ‘classics’ but it is a sublime example of how a singer can rework a song when they posses an innate ability to personalize and take chances with a composition. Distant Lover is a refreshing exploration of R&B gems that reveal Vesta’s personal connection to each song. Her intensely rich, earthy and soulful voice combined with her intelligent, thoughtful and often playful phrasing drive home the lyrics of any song she sings. The upbeat and charming singer shares, “I don’t think people will expect to hear me sing all the different styles featured on Distant Lover. I hope to shock people when they learn that these are not only songs that I love but also ones that I can actually sing and capture the essence of all the incredible artists who sang them.”

Distant Lover is a thrilling glimpse into the singer’s personality and creative genius as a song stylist. Her renditions of Babyface’s “Whip Appeal” and Sly Stone’s anthem “If You Want Me To Stay,” show off her playful and comedic side. Vesta states, “I had a lot of fun with Sly’s song and got to show off my more stank funky side!” Vesta equally enjoyed recording the Bill Withers hit “Use Me,” a song she frequently performs in concert. “This song has a lot to do with some of the experiences I have had,” says Vesta. “I have run into a lot of severe vultures in the business and in relationships.” Vesta also calls upon songs from her youth on Distant Lover, like the Spinners staple “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” and the title track, which was a hit for Marvin Gaye. Vesta recalls “In my youth, I remember sitting in my living room and listening to ‘Distant Lover’ over and over again. Growing up it was one of my favorite songs. I guess I was lonely and the song just spoke to me.”

Other highlights on Distant Lover include “Ooh Baby Baby,” popularized by Smokey Robinson who Vesta calls “the coolest of the cool.” The ballad is the perfect vehicle for Vesta to display her range of emotion as she delivers a stunning performance. The singer explains, “If you do not really pay attention to the words of this song, it can sound happier than it is. I tried to get to the real pain of the lyrics and convey what I felt Smokey was trying to say.” Vesta also took great joy in recording Steve Wonder’s “Knock Me Off My Feet.” She confesses, “Stevie’s songs are deceptively difficult. His genius is such that his songs sound easier to sing then they are. ‘Knock Me Off My Feet’ is so beautifully romantic and I am a romantic!”

While most of the tracks on Distant Lover are classics recorded by men, Vesta highlights three songs sung by women for whom she holds deep admiration: Deniece Williams, Sade and Syreeta Wright. Vesta remakes Deniece Williams’ smash hit “Free” and says “Deniece Williams is an amazing vocalist and person. She happens to be someone who is as sweet as she sounds!” Sade’s “No Ordinary Love” is a song that Vesta fell in love with the first time she heard it. She shares, “There is a wonderful mood to Sade’s writing. She stands alone in her genre.” Vesta and singer Issac Clemon, perform a memorable version of “Born Again,” which was sung by Syreeta and the late Billy Preston. The singer confides, “I had the pleasure of spending time with Syreeta at her home and she was such wonderful person. When the idea of a duet came up, I knew ‘Born Again’ was the right song. With the passing of Billy Preston, it was heavy on my heart. He was a sweetheart and a killer piano player and you could almost forget how well he sang until you heard him singing. I called upon Syreeta in my minds eye when we were recording this song. Hopefully she came and visited. Maybe that beautiful smile from heaven blessed us with her essence.”

As much as Vesta enjoyed recording the repertoire on Distant Lover, she equally enjoyed collaborating with the personnel on the CD which includes saxophonists Kim Waters and Marty Q, guitarists Derrick “HotSauce” Cummings, Randy Bowland, Rhon Lawrence and Wayne Bruce. Producer Chris “Big Dog” Davis, who Vesta affectionately refers to as “Muscle,” plays all the additional instruments heard on the CD. “Recording this music with ‘Muscle’ was just magical,” says Vesta. “Creative energies are powerful and sometime stubborn but this was such a beautiful experience.”

With the release of Distant Lover, Vesta is sure to delight and surprise old fans and garner new ones with her refreshing takes on timeless classics. Vesta concludes, “I hope that my love for this music and the musicians and composers who wrote and sang them comes through.”

www.myspace.com/vestawilliams

Posted by Peter Böhi at 3:19 PM

January 21, 2007

Dynamic British singer, songwriter, and pianist Jamie Cullum live at the 2007 Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival

JamieCullum.jpgChillout Productions have confirmed the presence of the scruffy, self-taught British pianist/singer/songwriter, Jamie Cullum, at the 5th edition of the Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival 2007.

Jamie can create music to which both seasoned jazz fans and young pop fanatics have responded earnestly. Jamie is not just another music fad. His major label debut, Twentysomething, has not only made Jamie a star, but has set the records as the fastest-selling jazz debut in UK history, where it was certified Platinum in just six weeks!

“To categorize Jamie’s music as Jazz is doing him injustice because to some, Jazz is now considered largely mired in the past. However, at the same time, Cullum is not even one of those sort of a fad, glittery bubble gum wanna-be musicians. He doesn’t even fall between any styles. This HYPER LAD simply laces his original jazzy tunes with modern hip-hop, rock or even folk accents, leaving you in a relaxed and comfortable state of mind where you’d feel more secure to the future of music where piano men will be as exciting as lead guitar players!”

Jamie celebrates jazz through his original material and retrofits standards to accommodate elements of the music he grew up with, from rock to rap to drum & bass.

And in one of his interviews Jamie said: "I'm pulling in loads of elements from all these different areas, and then making my own sound out of them all. I'm not interested in being some kind of museum piece, and I don't want to present my music in a way that's old fashioned. I'm not wearing a suit, and I don't stand still when I'm singing. I'm jumping off the piano."

“We’re looking forward to see Jamie treating his piano well as a prop, hammering it with rock 'n' roll fervor, and slapping every inch of it’s body, all the while coaxing sonorous and echoing tones from its keys. No doubt, the 26-year-old phenomenon is coming to Dubai with one thing in his mind, and that is to set the stage and crowd on fire. “ Said Anthony Younes Managing Director Of Chillout Productions, the founders and Organizers of the Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival.

Two big names have been confirmed till now, Toto, the rock legends on the 9th of March 2007 and Jamie Cullum on the 10th of March 2007 will be rocking the city of Dubai with Jazz at Dubai Media City “outdoor amphitheater” during the 5th edition of the 2007 Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:02 PM

January 3, 2007

Guitarist Jeff Golub embraces New York City on Grand Central

March 6th album release previewed by “Hello Betty,” spring/summer tour planned
 
With a spirit, energy and diversity that are uniquely New York City, guitarist Jeff Golub will open the doors to Grand Central, his seventh solo album, on March 6th.  Golub produced most of the Narada Jazz/Blue Note Label Group collection of electric and acoustic blues, contemporary jazz, rock and pop with Steven Miller, with a few tracks produced by Rick Braun and Paul Brown.  Roaring out of the station first is “Hello Betty,” which is engineered by Golub’s cool-toned electric riffing and powered by an incendiary horn section.  Conductors will begin punching tickets for the track at smooth jazz radio on February 5th.       

JeffGolub_guitar.jpgGolub has a natural flare for delivering raw and honest recordings.  Grand Central was primarily recorded with a live band in a New York studio by musicians Golub jams and improvises with at small, informal club gigs around the city that they do for the love of playing when they’re off the road.  Golub deftly deployed a clean blues sound to his guitar that took on more of a lyrical, vocal-like quality on the new record.  The New York City dweller wrote or co-wrote nine new songs for the disc in addition to selecting a few classics to record, including Sly Stone’s “If You Want Me To Stay,” George Harrison’s “Something,” and the soulful “Ain’t No Woman,” on which saxophonist Richard Elliot shines.  Other luminaries contributing were Rick Braun (trumpet, flugelhorn), Kirk Whalum (sax), Philippe Saisse (piano), Stephen Ferrone (drums), Mitchell Foreman (keyboards) and Luis Conte (percussion).

“Part of being a New Yorker is that you’re in a state of constant communication with people.  Sometimes words are spoken.  Sometimes the communication is just a glance or an unspoken acknowledgement on a subway train, while in line at a newsstand or as you brush past someone in a corner grocer.  I wanted this album to capture the constant communication between musicians: the sometimes overt dialogue as well as the subtle exchanges.  I embrace living in New York City and I think Grand Central has got a real New York vibe to it,” explained Golub.      
 
To support the release, Golub will again be co-headlining the perennial fan-favorite “Guitars & Saxes” tour with concert dates starting in the spring that will run through summer.  On the national trek, he’ll be sharing the stage with Kirk Whalum, Gerald Albright and Tim Bowman.  Dates and cities will soon be announced. 
 
A native of Akron, Ohio, Golub initially made his name as an in-demand sideman during long-term gigs backing rock stars Rod Stewart and Billy Squire.  He released his solo debut in 1988, but then recorded several successful albums in the mid-1990s under his band name, Avenue Blue, which established him as a core artist in contemporary jazz.  Golub returned to recording under is own name in 1999 and he has continued to consistently deliver bluesy jazz albums and radio hits ever since.  Additional information can be found at www.jeffgolub.com
 
Golub’s Grand Central contains the following songs:
 
“Hello Betty”
“Lulu’s Back”
“If You Want Me To Stay”
“Mojito”
“Something”                            
“Shockwave”
“Slinky”
“Grand Central”
“Ain’t No Woman”
“The Way I Feel Tonight”
“Stuffin’ It”
Bonus Tracks: “Brooklyn Dreams” and “Let’s Stay Together”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:28 PM

December 16, 2006

Walter Beasley Is Ready For Love On New Heads Up Recording

WalterBeasley_RFL_1.jpgSaxophonist/vocalist Walter Beasley understands what it means to be prepared. A prolific recording artist and a compelling performer for more than two decades, he has proven his success as an instrumentalist, vocalist, composer, producer and educator - a range of talents that has made him one of the highest selling and most accomplished African-American saxophonists of the last ten years. Ready For Love, his new Heads Up CD scheduled for worldwide release on January 24, 2007, is the culmination of two decades of pushing his own creative envelope and the boundaries of contemporary jazz in general.

But while the title is clearly a reference to the universality of romantic love, the record is fueled just as much by other passions that Beasley considers equally important. "This record is an indication of what hard work, dedication, talent and effort will accomplish, and it's a gesture of love and appreciation for the people who have supported me along the way," he says. "To actually take the time to dedicate yourself to music, dedicate yourself to a strong work ethic, dedicate yourself to being better, means you love what you do."

Ranging from the playful to the introspective, from the old school to the edgy, Ready For Love is filled with a variety of soulful grooves and infectious melodies that showcase the countless satisfying shades of Beasley's rich musical tapestry. Along with Beasley's own production on five of the eleven tracks, the album also includes a number of noteworthy guest producers, including Phil Davis and Lil' John Roberts, both of whom have produced and/or played with Janet Jackson, George Duke, Alex Bugnon, Rachelle Ferrell. Also guest producing on two tracks is James Lloyd, co-founder and keyboardist for Pieces of a Dream.

WalterBeasley_ReadyForLove.jpgThe set opens with "Free," a stirring piece originally penned by Deniece Williams and features the vocal accents of Tiffany Davis. "It was just a blast to be able to record a song by someone who I had my first crush on when I was 12 years old, and then put my own spin on it. I just think that song - especially the saxophone work during the outro - sets the tone for the whole album."

Beasley brings not only his horn but his rich vocals to the smoky backbeat groove of "Be Thankful," the classic William DeVaughan piece that looks beyond material trappings and instead acknowledges some of life's most simple and profound blessings. "I have two female African-American friends who recently told me that they were very frustrated by the feeling that the world no longer valued their worth," says Beasley. "That song just hit me. I saw it as a way for me and others to step back and reassess who we are to ourselves and what we represent to other people. It serves as a reminder that all of us - regardless of race, economics, or whatever - should be thankful for what we do have and what we're able to bring to the table."

Keyboardist James Lloyd lends a hand on a couple tracks. The title track - along with the punchy "Why Not You," toward the end of the set - both feature Lloyd as writer, producer and guest keyboardist. "James is very clear about what he hears in a song and what he sees as the end result," says Beasley, who previously enlisted Lloyd for a track on For Her ("Coolness," which shot to number 5 on the smooth jazz charts). "You just have to trust that the end result is going to be good, because with James, it always is. Sometimes you get too close to a project and you have to step back, and for those two tracks I just stepped back, because I knew they were in good hands."

WalterBeasley_RFL_3.jpgThe island groove of "She Moves Me" takes Beasley into territory that he hadn't explored in previous projects, with highly favorable results. "Hands down, that's my favorite song on the album," he says with no hesitation. "That was the first time I ever wrote anything in a reggae style. It's a beautiful song that goes through various time changes. It just grooves. It moved me when I was recording it, and it still moves me whenever I hear it."

"Sugar Puddin'" is a sensual track wherein Beasley's alto sax work atop the churning backbeat creates the perfect union of the sweet with the spicy - a fitting combination, given the origins of the title. "Sugar Puddin' is actually a slang term that we used in the South, where I spent my summers with my grandparents," says Beasley. "It could be a reference to a little girl, or a girlfriend, or any girl who moves your heart in some way. Now, as I got older, I started to understand the more spicy definition of the term." He pauses to elaborate, then thinks better of it. "I'll just leave the rest to the imagination."

The heartfelt closer, "Willa Mae's Place," is a tribute to Willa Mae Brothers, a lady who gave Beasley some much needed direction many years ago when he was a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston. "When my parents were very far away, and I was dealing with different issues and challenges in my life - musically, personally, economically - she was there to really make sure that I considered all my options and made the right decisions," Beasley explains. "She was a foundation for me. She's gone now, but she made a big impact on my life."

WalterBeasley_RFL_2.jpgFrom nostalgic tales of bygone role models to island interludes to spicy and passionate vignettes, Walter Beasley is musician of many stories - and is possessed of the various talents necessary to tell them well. Every one of these stories is a reflection of a unique musical vision that pays its respects to what has come before and makes ready for what's yet to come.

"For me, every song on here has a special meaning, and every song touches me in some kind of way," he says. "I listened to this record three times as much as any other record I've ever made, and I'm still listening to it. And I think people will get the same feeling when they listen to it, because I don't go too far from what moves me. I'm just taking it to that place where music moves you just because it's good."

Worldwide release set for January 24, 2007

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:23 PM

December 10, 2006

Long Beach: The New Garden of Eden?

Text by The Jazz Gypsy

Los Angeles’ very popular local smooth jazz radio station, 94.7 the Wave, has moved their weekly Wednesday night jazz series previously held at the Garden of Eden in Hollywood to Thursday nights at the Vault 350 in Long Beach, CA. The three level venue is their temporary home until renovations are complete on their new location, the Backstage Jazz and Blues Supper Club, next door at 330 Pine.

The Vault 350 and the Backstage Jazz and Blues Supper Club are located in the popular, and bustling downtown Pine Street district, filled with quaint shops, side walk cafes and businesses. It is conveniently located a few miles from the 710 Long Beach freeway and is just a short distance from the Long Beach Pier and restaurant row on Shoreline Drive. The open floor plan on the first floor allows for a variety of seating and dance floor configurations. The large, elevated stage provides perfect viewing from any seat on the main floor or mezzanine.

The lineup of artists and schedule has included Michael Lington, Stanley Jordan, A Tribute to Luther Vandross, and Earl Klugh. Upcoming scheduled performers include George Duke, 12/14; The Yellowjackets, 1/1/07; Jeffrey Osborne, 1/13; Gerald Albright, 1/18; Stanley Clarke, 2/8; Ramsey Lewis, 3/8; Chick Corea and Gary Burton, 3/22; Jeff Lorber, 4/9; and Keiko Matsui, 4/26. The Thursday night jazz series’ shows typically begin at 8:00 p.m. and have one show and two sets, with the doors opening at 6:00 p.m.

The Vault 350 also hosts live music (hip hop, R&B, rock, etc.) on other nights and some artists appearing in the Waves’ Thursday night jazz series are booked for multiple dates besides Thursday night. Admission fees, cocktails, drinks and menu items are moderately priced and tickets can be purchased in advance on the Wave’s (www.947wave) or the Vault’s (www.vault350.com) websites. Some shows offer general admission, dinner and VIP table seating in the mezzanine and the VIP lounge. DJ Jonathan Phillips is also on hand every Thursday night, spinning the best in smooth jazz, R&B, and oldies between and after the last set. Valet parking is available as well as ample garage parking next door.

The Backstage Jazz and Blues Supper Club is being designed as an upscale venue for those with discriminating taste. Combine that with the impressive line-up of artists and Long Beach may very well become the new Garden of Eden.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:17 PM

November 22, 2006

Saxophonist Steve Cole plays True to his roots on new CD

Well-received album released today salutes the artist’s musical influences and hometown while showcasing his skills as a soloist
 
Demonstrating that one can be inspired to greatness by simply returning to their roots, contemporary jazz saxophonist Steve Cole released his fifth album, True, today from Narada Jazz/Blue Note Label Group.  Cole produced the collection and composed or co-wrote the nine new R&B, jazz, funk, dance and pop songs that comprise the disc. 
 
Through his previous albums, Cole established himself as a core artist in contemporary jazz.  His consistency as a songwriter and producer also merits recognition and respect as he’s scored four #1 radio hits and ten Top 5 singles since his 1998 debut.  True promises to add to Cole’s impressive accomplishments. 
 
The album title refers to a return to innocence, a return to the music that inspired Cole to explore his passion for jazz-funk made popular by artists such as Eddie Harris, Grover Washington, Jr., David Sanborn, Junior Walker and George Benson.  It was an era of well-crafted songs, live production and expressive music that emerged from the core of the artists’ being.  Those were the ingredients Cole used to create True.  He pushed himself to reach new heights delivering unadulterated artistry and organic musicianship.  He was inspired by the music that emerged from his hometown of Chicago where he still resides.  On the album, Cole salutes seminal Chicago pioneers such as jazz-funk legend Quincy Jones and soul icon Curtis Mayfield along with clubby house music, which emerged from the Chicago underground.  But broadening his saxwork and improvising were equally important objectives for Cole on True.  He sought to produce the record as “live” as possible, fostering the setting for expansive soloing.  A talented cast of musicians helped make True a reality, including Jeff Golub, Steve Rodby, David Mann, Ricky Peterson, Lenny Castro and Khari Parker
 
Last month, the house music-inspired cut “Metro,” boasting an extended sax solo that’s both expressive and functional, was serviced to smooth jazz radio stations where it is presently garnering airplay.  The early reaction to the album from music critics has been enthusiastic.  All Music Guide said, “If the title of this superior collection is indicative of the true persona that's here to stay, then genre fans will be in for a powerful adventure… Cole has scored many hits while on the road to finding his true voice, and with any luck, he'll stay right there as the perfect antidote to his less imaginative contemporaries.”  JazzReview wrote, “In this watershed album, Cole lets down his hair and goes for it, showing his talent in featured solos-- blending textures, melodies and awesome extremes… Cole states, ‘A lot of the substance of a player is evident once they get off the melody and start improvising.’  That’s exactly what Cole does on True, adding fresh notes, compelling hooks and smooth grooves.” 
 
Concert dates to support True are being scheduled for early next year.  For more information, please visit www.stevecole.net.  To hear tracks from True, click www.bluenote.com/stevecole

Posted by Peter Böhi at 2:41 PM

November 20, 2006

Hidden Beach Recordings Helps Music Lovers Get “Unwrapped” For The Holidays

Indie Label Releases Special, Four-Disc Box Set Of Groundbreaking Jazz/Hip-Hop Series – Including Bonus Material

On November 21, and just in time for the holidays, Hidden Beach Recordings (HBR) will release a special four-CD box set of its groundbreaking “Unwrapped” series, the widely popular collection of jazzy, instrumental interpretations of standout Hip Hop classics and recent chart-toppers. Officially titled Hidden Beach Recordings Presents: Unwrapped The Ultimate Box Set, the multi-disc compilation features re-sequenced and re-mastered songs from all four previously released Unwrapped CDs (Vols. 1-4), broken down into “old school” and “new school” themes, as well as bonus tracks and music videos culled from the life of the project.

Among the more than 50 songs included in the Box Set are jazzy takes on such Hip Hop standards as Notorious Big’s “One More Chance,” 50 Cent’s “In Da Club,” Outkast’s “The Way You Move,” Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story,” The Roots’ “I Got You,” Common’s “The Light,” Tupac’s “I Get Around,” Busta Rhymes’ “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See,” Nelly’s “Hot In Here,” A Tribe Called Quest’s “Electric Relaxation,” and the Terror Squad’s “Lean Back,” among many, many more.

These songs are given new life by some of the music industry’s most talented and accomplished instrumentalists, many of whom are featured across the span of all four Unwrapped editions. Included in this All-Star lineup are such notables as keyboardists Frank McComb, Jeff Lorber and Patrice Rushen; guitarists Paul Jackson Jr., Everett Harp and Dennis Nelson; violinist Karen Briggs; bassist Andrew Gouche; and flautist Louis Van Taylor, as well as Hidden Beach’s own sax sensation Mike Phillips, trombone impresario Jeff Bradshaw, and guitarist/singer Peter Black, among other leading musicians.

The Unwrapped series burst onto the music scene in 2001 with the critically acclaimed release of Unwrapped Vol. 1 and, without the benefit of national airplay or a high-priced marketing campaign, quickly went on to debut at the top spot on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Chart. Subsequent editions in 2002, 2004 and 2005 followed in the tradition of the premiere disc, all serving to build on the Hidden Beach legacy of fusing the two genres and building bridges between diverse music audiences.

Music producers Tony Joseph and Darryl Ross, who served to produce a majority of the material throughout the series, originally brought this specific concept, unnamed at the time, to HBR Founder/CEO Steve McKeever. The rest, as they say, is history.

The success of the Unwrapped series is best gauged by the impact it has had in the industry; it has spawned a number of copycat projects and, in many circles, the term “unwrapped” has come to be synonymous with the merging of jazz and Hip Hop.

The Box Set’s bonus material includes songs that were included on a limited edition version of Unwrapped Vol. 2 (Jay Z’s “Girls, Girls, Girls,” Junior Mafia’s “Get Money,” and Mystikal’s “Bouncin’ Back”), as well as music videos for “You Got Me,” “In Da Club,” and “Bouncin’ Back.” Also included are tribute medleys to fallen rappers Biggie, Tupac and Run DMC’s Jam Master Jay.

******

Based in Santa Monica, CA, Hidden Beach Recordings publicly bowed onto the entertainment scene in 2000 with the introduction of multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning vocal sensation Jill Scott. The label went on to release projects from such standout artists as award-winning songwriter/vocalist Brenda Russell, Kindred the Family Soul, saxman Mike Phillips, songstress Lina, gospel legend/Grammy-winner BeBe Winans, Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker, and trombone maestro Jeff Bradshaw, among others.

On October 17, Hidden Beach released the debut CD from TribalJazz, the multi-cultural jazz group led by John Densmore, the legendary drummer and co-founder of the seminal rock band The Doors. In 2007, the label will debut new Hidden Beach artists including vocalist/musician Keite Young, singer Leigh Jones, singer/guitarist Peter Black, and the Still Waters (HBR’s inspirational imprint) releases of song stylist Onitsha, and talented vocalist Sunny Hawkins.

The New Year will also bring a new studio album from Jill Scott, as well as a specialty compilation release of joint efforts between Scott and an eclectic array of hip hop, soul, instrumental, jazz, pop and gospel artists. The disc of wide-ranging collaborations shines a spotlight on the singer’s incredible diversity as she has teamed over the years with the likes of Sergio Mendes and Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, Chris Botti, George Benson, Al Jarreau and Kirk Franklin, Lupe Fiasco, Common, The Roots and Will Smith. Also returning in 2007 will be such Hidden Beach favorites such as Kindred, Mike Phillips and Jeff Bradshaw.

Hidden Beach is distributed by Universal Music Group Distribution. Please visit www.hiddenbeach.com for more information on Hidden Beach Recordings.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:37 AM

November 13, 2006

The Renowned Rock Group Toto Will Be Rocking The City Of Dubai With Jazz

The legendary rock group, Toto, have confirmed their participation in the 5th edition of the Dubai International Jazz Festival 2007. This leg is the band’s first gig in any Arab world.

Toto.jpgA band like Toto, has become a worldwide household name, with at least a disc or two on every music rack that includes songs dating back to the late 70s, songs we grew up listening to, songs we’ve heard on every radio station, hits that lived on and on and no matter how much we think that music evolved, we keep coming back and humming Toto’s songs unwillingly.

Toto is one of the rare gems of rock music, a band with its front man guitar player, Steve Lukather who have influenced generations of rock stars and other inspiring artists just like Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix did.

But the band doesn’t fall short of a legendary line up besides Lukather, stars whom each have also their own independent work and have played with other legendary artists, the likes of Simon Philips on drums, Mike Porcaro on Bass, Bobby Kimball on Vocals, Greg Phillinganes on keyboards and vocals and David Paich on Keyboards and vocals too.

Anthony Younes, Managing Director Of Chillout Productions, the founders and Organizers of the Dubai International Jazz Festival, said: “I am so excited to have arranged this leg for the Dubai International Jazz Festival 2007. I have a clear vision of the audience watching Toto live, yes I can see endless waves of fans stoned immaculate while witnessing how Steve Lukather and Toto are continuing to hone their chops and progress musically, up to perfection.”

And by the time Toto reach Dubai, they will be celebrating their 30th anniversary with songs that defy taste or musical back ground, hits such as "Rosana", "Stop Loving you", "Hold the Line" and "Africa" to name a few.

And with the release of their new Album, Falling In Between, nothing short of excellence and genius”, Toto will not only be playing their classical repertoire but also some new and fresh material that includes Toto’s most innovative sounds, songs in which Toto have upped and revamped their musical tastes and ideas and retooled them for a new generation.

Yes after 7 years of original studio inactivity one of the world’s most favorite bands returns with a dynamic illustration of why this group of 6 can be considered the most talented rock group ever assembled and lucky Dubai will be the eye witness to why Toto won 4 Grammy Awards and why each member has played on most of our best songs ever recorded.

“If anything, the band is stronger and vital than ever and they’re flying to Dubai to show a definite resurgence in their live musical powers. Toto live at the Dubai International Jazz Festival is already a divine memory written down in the chapters of history before their arrival here. And who knows maybe next year we’ll be resurrecting Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison.” Said Anthony laughing.

In almost 30 years, with some of the most skillful, interesting, and great music ever recorded, Toto who have already received their own star on Vienna's Walk Of Stars at the Gasometer on August 17th 2006, is not to be missed live at The Dubai International Jazz Festival 2007.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 2:24 PM

November 1, 2006

Forever, For Always, For Luther Volume II

LutherTributeVol2.jpgThis new loving tribute features all-star performances by Patti Austin, Gerald Albright, Jonathan Butler, Norman Brown, Will Downing, Everette Harp, Jeff Lorber, Maysa, Najee, Wayman Tisdale, Kevin Whalum and Kirk Whalum

“Having the opportunity to know and to work with Luther has truly been a blessing. This album was important in that it celebrates  Luther as both singer and songwriter.” - Rex Rideout, Co-Producer Forever, For Always, For Luther Vols. I & II

This November 21st, Rendezvous Entertainment will release Forever, For Always, For Luther Volume II. Once again produced by Rex Rideout and Bud Harner, Vol. II boasts a new cast of all-star singers and players.

“Huge personality, huge talent...Luther Vandross will be forever missed,” says Dave Koz. “But in true Luther-style, he left such large footprints for us to continue to inspire...as evidenced by this outpouring of musical love.  I am thrilled and honored that Rendezvous could be part of the legacy, and help keep the man and his music alive.”

In keeping with tradition, Rendezvous Entertainment is partnering the release with the American Heart Association’s lifesaving campaign “The Power To End Stroke.”  Especially targeted to the African-American community, the program seeks to raise the awareness of the warning signs of stroke in order to prevent or greatly minimize many of its debilitating consequences.

“When you look at the African American community, you see a greater disposition to virtually all the risk factors for stroke,” states the American Heart Association’s Dr. Bruce Ovbiagele.  “This is exacerbated by the fact that there’s such a shortage of good, accurate information out there, especially in the black community on stoke.  That’s leading to a stroke epidemic in the black community, and it’s critical that we act now to stop it.”

Preview the album before its release exclusively at www.rendezvousmusic.com

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:48 PM

October 23, 2006

Tozzi, Smooth Jazz WJJZ Back - Greater Media sets Nov. 15 Launch in Philly

The dramatic news was music to the ears of loyal and passionate listeners of smooth jazz radio.

MichaelTozzi.jpgGreater Media announced last week that Michael Tozzi will be the program director of the "new" Smooth Jazz WJJZ 97.5 FM in Philadelphia when the format returns to the airwaves on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

"I cannot tell you what a thrill it is to be asked to help in bringing Smooth Jazz back to Philadelphia,” said Tozzi. “Greater Media is a company that many of my friends have been attracted to over the last few years, so I am delighted to be joining a team that is committed to winning in such a competitive marketplace."

Greater Media announced its agreement to acquire 97.5 FM from Nassau Broadcasting Partners last July. The acquisition will be finalized in November.

Greater Media will flip the current format -- Classic Rock WTHK/The Hawk -- to Smooth Jazz WJJZ 97.5 FM on Nov. 15.

The return of WJJZ will quell the firestorm of public outcry from numerous and extremely vocal disenfranchised smooth jazz fans in the market after Clear Channel abruptly abandoned the format in Philadelphia late last August.

"We are very excited about bringing smooth jazz back to the Philadelphia market," said Greater Media Philadelphia VP and market manager John Fullam. "We sensed a lot of disappointment among listeners and advertisers when WJJZ changed its format.

"It's gratifying to be able to relaunch a station with such a loyal following and one that has been successful for so long in Philadelphia and surrounding markets.

“Michael Tozzi is synonymous with WJJZ and is the natural choice to lead the way. Michael's passion, vision and leadership in smooth jazz will serve us well and we are thrilled to have him on our team."

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:19 PM

October 17, 2006

It’s a “Lovely Day”: New album from soul-jazz vocalist Victor Fields out today

cdcoverthinkingofyou.jpgAfter releasing three eclectic, critically-acclaimed albums, vocalist Victor Fields has found a comfortable niche to focus his soul-kissed adult pop songs of love.  His Thinking Of You CD was released today by Regina Records.  Joined by smooth jazz luminaries Richard Elliot (sax), Rick Braun (flugelhorn), Jeff Lorber (keyboards), Nelson Braxton (multi-instrumentalist) and Chris Camozzi (guitar), Fields fully explored the genre while serving up eight R&B cover tunes and two originals co-penned by Lorber on the Camozzi-produced collection.  Naturally suited to his silky vocals, Fields’ version of the Bill Withers’ sunny classic, “Lovely Day,” was serviced to smooth jazz radio last month where it is presently garnering airplay.  
 
Fields recorded Thinking Of You with Camozzi as close to live as possible at the famed The Record Plant studio in Sausalito, California, not too far from the Bay Area resident’s home.  The album is up-tempo and organic comprised of elegant vocals over funky tracks.  It’s decidedly more fun, more upbeat and more danceable than his previous releases (Victor, 52nd Street and Promise).  Attempting to make each song a musical event, Fields carefully selects interesting and challenging songs that he can make his own by infusing his personality and energy.  His phrasing, color and tone are distinctly jazzy and soulful.  While Fields is naturally drawn to love songs, he’s quick to remind that not all love songs are slow and sad.  In this era of disposable popular music and “flavor of the month” idols, Fields is a refreshing song stylist who truly studies his craft, sings songs of meaning and substance, and strives to create a significant body of work that will stand the test of time.

Thinking Of You has already begun earning praise.  ABYSSJazz Magazine declared, “If you are looking for that soulful R&B crooner with a jazzy feel, Victor Fields is your man.  His voice can be described as satin, velvet, suede…This album is all hits and no misses.  With guest appearances by Richard Elliot on ‘Walking In Rhythm’ and Rick Braun on ‘Creepin’,’ you can’t go wrong.”  SoulTracks wrote, “…the tasteful take given by Fields and the fine musicianship of the band make Thinking Of You a surprisingly enjoyable effort…His (Fields) unassuming, smooth lead plus strong, jazzy arrangements throughout make this a solid effort and fine late-night listening.”  
 
Last month, Fields delivered a sterling performance with his band at the annual Radio & Records convention in front of an enthusiastic audience of key radio and music industry professionals.  He also filmed an interview that will soon air on the nationally syndicated Smooth Jazz Television show.  On November 10th, Fields will perform a concert in his “backyard” at the Regents Theatre in Oakland. 
 
Having achieved wealth through business, Fields decided to pursue his true love: singing.  He’s invested his own money into producing his albums and releasing them independently, which certainly isn’t easy.  Top recording artists and musicians work with him because they believe in his talent.  “I’m trying to be the best musically that I can be,” explained Fields.  “I feel blessed to work with such great musicians.  They inspire me to elevate my game and to come up with something special.  What I aim to do is bring elements of old school jazz legends and classic R&B artists and merge them with the best of today’s musical sensibilities.”             
 
For additional information on Fields, please visit www.victorfields.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:07 PM

October 7, 2006

TribalJazz

TribalJazz.jpgClose your eyes. Imagine, if you can, a place where the various musical genres and styles have gathered; a melodic intersection of sounds culled from the four corners of the globe, inspired by the cultures and passions of the human condition – past, present and future. Now, listen closely as this sophisticated, yet primitive music takes you on a melodic journey around the world, and back…straight to your heart.

Now, open your eyes and meet TribalJazz.

TribalJazz is more than just an exciting new group. It's a movement - an approach to music making that incorporates cultural unification with celebration, meditation and improvisation. It is the brainchild of drummer John Densmore and flautist/saxophonist Art Ellis. Imagine John Coltrane's classic quartet gone tribal filled with accessible and memorable melodies – and you're on the right path.

Their self-titled album's opening two numbers provide a clear barometer of what this pan cultural septet is capable of creating. From the Afro-bob of the opener "Skytrails" to the laidback modal swing of "Blues for Bali," the essence unfolds as a fusion of jazz with Afro-Cuban, Brazilian and Latin rhythms.

TribalJazz_JohnDensmore.jpgDensmore, renowned in the rock universe as the founding drummer of '60s Los Angeles rock legends The Doors, is realizing a long-burning dream. "For thirty years I've wanted to make a jazz record. I am finally putting my sticks where my mouth is. I'd played with a few heavyweights at jam sessions, but that was about it. Then I met Art and immediately fell in love with his melodies. And he loves African music, as I do. At heart, we're just a couple of old school jazz dudes who love world music."

The spirit of John and Art's union first came together as proud, proactive parents at a fundraising concert for the music program for Canyon Charter Elementary School, opening for recording artist Randy Newman. Both men had volunteered but neither was in an existing group, so the event coordinators paired them up. Simply put, sparks flew - so much so that people asked them afterward if they were ever going to play together again. Thus, the seed for TribalJazz was planted.

TribalJazz_ArtEllis.jpgArt Ellis, a veteran multi-reed player who’s played with R&B greats Bo Diddley and Freddie Scott (as well as African bands that have opened concerts for Sting, Herbie Hancock, Milton Nascimento and King Sunny Ade), had been writing some new music of his own. "I was working with producer Jimmy Haslip, bassist of the Yellowjackets and a hometown friend. I'd written these tunes and was playing them around town in a jazz quartet, but leaning toward another concept. I had been playing with four Nigerian Master Drummers in my band Magic Cartoons. We'd gig at jazz clubs and have people up dancing! The audiences were eclectic and diverse, both age and color-wise. But it was getting harder to book shows without having a well-produced CD. I ran the concept by John, who immediately began adding both his soulful drum sound and some unique production ideas.”

Excited, they booked some time at Stag Street Studio in the San Fernando Valley - a facility respected for capturing a warm, live acoustic sound - and assembled an incredible, culturally diverse group of musicians to bring the newly arranged songs to life. This included Wisconsin-born pianist Quinn Johnson, a film and TV specialist already seasoned in the ways of Latin Jazz fusion. There was Egyptian bassist Osama Affifi, a regular in Art's group who brought an expansive range via his acoustic upright playing with such acts as L.A.'s B-Sharp Jazz Quartet and singer Vanessa Paradis. There was Italian-born/Armenian-bred percussionist Christina Berio, who'd spent 18 years in Brazil playing with Paulinho Braga, drummer Grady Tate and jazz vocal icon Sarah Vaughan.

They took three songs from the sessions and mixed them at Capitol Studio 'A' with Bruce Botnick, who had engineered all of The Doors' records. Then John's lawyer suggested they send the demo to Hidden Beach Recordings - a record company known as hip and cutting edge. Label President Steve McKeever liked what he heard, but it was a subsequent fateful meeting that sealed the deal.

"McKeever has some serious ears," John states. "With him, I knew his interest in the group wasn't about my past. It was the music. After two meetings and phone conversations, I decided, ‘Enough with the talking,’ and did something without telling him. I asked Art to come to a meeting with his flute and master African hand drummer Marcel Adjibi. I strolled in with a cajon (note: a resonant, box-like Mexican instrument that the percussionist sits on and beats beneath them). I said to Steve, 'I know this seems corny - like something out of an office audition in the '50s - but we're just gonna play for you for a few minutes.' We started cookin' up a groove and you could feel everyone in the office getting into it. He signed us right there."

TribalJazz2.jpgTribalJazz spent months perfecting the balance of multi-cultural elements they would unleash on their debut. "La Tormentas" is a two-tempo guajira with a smoky flute melody based on the Doors “Riders On The Storm.” “Vegetable Wizard" is a playfully seductive samba with Ellis on alto. The lovely "Lyria" (with a breathtaking introductory piano solo by Quinn Johnson) is a hypnotic spatial mediation in 6/8 time that was inspired by the distant constellation Lyra. The driving Afro-groove "Orange Midnight" opens with Art’s poem, which is translated and recited by Aziz Faye in Senegalese. Art explains "He's saying TribalJazz sees the world as one village...from the countryside to the big city. Music explodes with joy and lights up the village like an orange midnight.”

A more sobering view is expressed in "Violet Love," perhaps the most potent song on the TribalJazz CD. "I wrote it the day after 9/11," Ellis shares. "I was absolutely blown away by two things: the event itself and the fact that it leveled everyone into a state of aftershock. All the bullshit disappeared for a few days - football, fashion shows and advertising...things that ultimately don't matter much. People were starting to connect on a deeper level and I saw something very promising in that.” The remix of "Violet Love" features activist/musician/poet Michael Franti, leader of the band Spearhead.

Also exceptionally inspired is "The First Time (I Heard Coltrane)," a deep, reverential bow to the man who so deeply enriched the lives of both Densmore and Ellis: John Coltrane. The Los Angeles bred Densmore wore out his fake I.D. sneaking into LA clubs like Shelley's Manne Hole to see Coltrane's legendary quartet of McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and John's Herculean hero Elvin Jones on drums. Years later after befriending Jones and lionizing him in his Doors autobiography, Densmore told him, "YOU gave me my hands." As for Art - recalling the moment of epiphany when a friend played him "My Favorite Things" off the classic Atlantic Records Lp - the Upstate, New York-native gushes, "Next to my kid being born, that was the most spiritual moment of my life." 'Trane moved Ellis to put down his trumpet and switch to flute, soprano, alto AND tenor saxophone!

“We needed something to breathe life into Ellis' vibrant poem ‘The First Time (I Heard Coltrane)’," Densmore shares. "I had a brainstorm: 'Let's get a woman to do it...like she falls in love with the sound of Coltrane's horn.' I know the world class actress Alfre Woodard.” She did a couple of takes then asked if Densmore had any feedback. “I said ‘Well...imagine that the first time you heard that horn, it made you...hot.’ She said, 'Oh,' and that next take was it!"

TJband.jpgFinally, TribalJazz could not ignore the golden opportunity to reshape one of The Doors' classics, "Riders on the Storm," originally recorded on their eighth and final album before lead singer Jim Morrison's death, L.A. Woman (1971). "Whenever we get ready to play it in concert," Densmore states, "I always say, 'Alright you all, we're gonna do ONE Doors song, disguised as a salsa. You're going to have to guess what it is...but I'll give you a hint.' Then I turn over a rainstick."

That rocker Densmore would turn to jazz after all these years should come as no surprise to anyone who has really listened to and watched him in action. "Jazz was my first love," he confesses. "I believe my jazz sensibilities and my affinity for Latin rhythms freed me up in the music I played with The Doors. Like on 'When the Music's Over' when Jim is doing his poetry - 'What have they done to the Earth?!' I don't know why but I just stopped playing time and starting doing these accents. Subliminally, I attribute that to Elvin (Jones). And when bossa nova came to the States from Brazil in the early '60s, The Doors were rehearsing and we thought, 'My God...listen to this stuff!' If you listen closely to 'Break on Through,' it's a bossa beat. I just played it stiff instead of fluid 'cuz I wanted it to rock."

"Dynamics is my thing," says Densmore, who started out on piano at age 8 then switched to drums in his junior high school marching band. Summing up his approach to arranging music, he continues, "It's all about the spaces between pianissimo (very soft) and fortissimo (very loud). I've never been the fastest drummer in the world. When jazz-rock fusion flourished in the '70s, I went nuts. My two feet could never do what (drumming legend) Billy Cobham's could do with one! But I've always been about dynamics. It's what brings the breathing and the drama to the music.”

Surveying the stellar musicians who surrounded him now as members of TribalJazz, Densmore muses, "I have a global village in this band - men and women, White guys and African Americans, young lions and elders like me. Some may consider it yesterday’s news, but I'm still down with Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition. And if any element of that is missing, Planet Earth ain't gonna make it. We all have a unique contribution to make.

"We're playing music for today about today," Densmore concludes, "trying to mix cultures and create some healing. Look at how the planet is these days. I want to build bridges, not bombs. If we don't even start thinking bout unity, we'll never truly conceive it. What better way to do it than through music.”

[Band website]

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:55 AM

October 4, 2006

It’s True: organic new collection from saxophonist Steve Cole will be unveiled November 21st

Clubby “Metro” will be the first track serviced to radio

SteveCole_live2.jpgFocusing on performance, improvisation and really playing from the heart & soul, fueled by the metropolitan sounds and influences of his hometown of Chicago, saxman Steve Cole will release his fifth album, True, on November 21st on the Narada Jazz/Blue Note Label Group record label. Cole produced this engaging record that sets the bar high on each song. Prefacing the album release will be the servicing to smooth jazz radio of the house music-inspired “Metro,” which goes for adds on October 23rd.

With a title that takes on a host of meanings, True signifies a return to innocence for Cole, going back to the roots of the music that touched him during his formative years. Recalling Grover Washington Jr., David Sanborn, Spyro Gyra, George Benson and others, Cole also couldn’t help from being influenced by the music from his own backyard and the iconic artists who have emerged from Chicago, such as Quincy Jones, Curtis Mayfield, Rufus, and house music. After writing or co-authoring nine new songs, Cole sought musicians of the highest level whom he could “feel, people who truly care and bring the kind of magic that can only happen organically.” Some of those special players were Jeff Golub, Steve Rodby, David Mann, Ricky Peterson, Lenny Castro and Khari Parker.

“People want an honest, human portrayal of the music, music that is truly what you’re about naturally,” explained Cole. “I wanted to focus on giving a unique performance on each track and really playing. How a musician improvises when soloing off the melody reveals the true heart & soul of the artist and the depth of their artistry. I wanted the music on this record to be more expressive, something that people can feel authentically.”

True is a well-crafted album from beginning to end that was recorded as close to “live” as possible. It opens big with “Bounce,” as massive Chicago horns blast you with a sweaty dose of deep-fried funk. The sultry and sophisticated “Cote Seine,” featuring Rodby’s nimble basswork, adeptly blends contemporary and be-bop jazz riffs. A couple salutes to music legends are also standouts: “Curtis” is a soulful nod to Mayfield, while “Just A Natural Thing” pays tribute to Jones. Writing pop anthems like “Take Me” comes easily to Cole. Layers of horns funk up “Something About You.” “Metro” boasts an extended sax solo that’s both expressive and functional. “Closer” is an unabashedly “cuddle up close” slow jam. Cole plays both soprano and tenor saxes on “Come With Me,” in addition to wielding acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards and synth bass.

After studying modern classical music for saxophone at Northwestern University, Cole earned an MBA at the University of Chicago. Making his debut in 1998 with the Atlantic Records release, Stay Awhile, he scored three radio hits out of the box that helped him garner the 2000 Oasis Smooth Jazz Prism Award as Best New Artist. Subsequent albums – Between Us, NY LA, and Spin - have also spawned radio hits; he’s amassed four #1 singles to date. Cole has toured and/or recorded with Brian Culbertson, Junior Wells, Boz Scaggs, Larry Carlton, Jeff Lorber, Freddie Cole, Cyrus Chestnut, KMFDM, Rick Braun and others.

Steve Cole’s True contains the following songs:

“Bounce”
“Something About You”
“Cote Seine”
“Metro”
“Curtis”
“Closer”
“Just A Natural Thang”
“Come With Me”
“Take Me”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:21 PM

September 25, 2006

SwissGroove: new website successfully launched

logo_sg_113_50.jpgSwissGroove.ch, now the home of SwissGroove & SmoothVibes audiochannels, is proud to announce today the launch of its newly designed website, created by nothing.ch.

While earlier facelifts of the site has been done internally, the new website has been planned and realized by professional web designers from Switzerland.

"It's high time we develop a website that really lives up to not only our sense of quality, but also that of our listeners. It reflects our intention and aim to be regarded as serious entrepreneurs within the online-radio business. It must serve as an attractive and well structured platform so that advertising companies, sponsors and partners feel comfortable having their names and logos displayed on it," says Thomas P. Illes, PR & Marketing Director.

The designers have done an excellent job: the website contains a simple navigation menu, an attractive, clean layout and lean programming.

Time goes on and the progress within the online-radio sector is fast and steep. "We carefully evaluate the infrastructure and technology in use on a regular basis so that we can adjust them quickly, as the needs of our high quality biased listeners dictate," says founder Patrik Jungo.

Besides the newly launched website, the makers have also succeeded in partnering with All Blues, the leading concert-agency within Switzerland in the Jazz, Soul, Blues & World sector. "Thanks to the Internet, our audiochannels can be heard worldwide. We want to be best known and most listened to locally here in Switzerland, but, of course, don't mind if people from other countries fancy our radio, too," says Patrik Jungo.

SwissGroove listeners may also look forward to some new Station Ids & Jingles that will be introduced in October on both channels. They will be produced by Devaweb in Great Britain, the company who has already been in charge of the ones currently used on SwissGroove.

Moreover, a special radio shows fully dedicated to Jazz, produced and presented by Thomas P. Illes, aka DJ Thilles will soon be introduced. The show will be called Exploring Jazz and will be broadcasted weekly.

Now, it's time for you to check out our new website at www.swissgroove.ch, where you will find further information about SwissGroove, the music and people behind this innovative venture.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:31 PM

September 20, 2006

Dubai International Jazz festival 2007, extended to nine consecutive nights.

DubaiJazzFest.jpgChillout Productions, winner of the Award for the Best Festival in the UAE has announced the dates for the 5th edition of the Dubai International Jazz Festival 2007, which will run for nine days instead of three. The festival will take place between March 1, and 9, at Dubai Media City and at Madinat Jumeirah Outdoor Amphitheater.

“Due to the overwhelming and maintained growth of audiences by 20% each year since the beginning of the Dubai International Jazz Festival in 2003 and due to the large demand of fans and friends of the festival, we have decided to extend the festival to nine consecutive nights and add an additional venue.” Said Anthony Younes, Managing Director for Chillout Productions.

This year, the festival will showcase an incredibly diverse array of more than 24 internationally recognized recording artists. Featured genres include everything with a jazzy flavor: singer-songwriter, rocket-fueled funk and bluegrass, pop, blues, rock, reggae, and afro-centric music.

The Dubai International Jazz Festival 2007 is the only mutli-day music event of its caliber in the UAE and the region where music-loving souls meet. This year the 1st six nights “March 1-6” will take place at Madinat Jumeirah outdoor amphitheater and will feature 12 mainstream jazz bands and artists from different parts of the world whereby the admission is free for all.

The last three nights, “March 7-9” will remain at the Dubai Media City outdoor amphitheater park and will host 12 world-recognized, legends and pop acts.

“Last year, we have witnessed more than 21,500 fans flocking into the festival. This year we speculate a tremendous increase of fans’ attendance during the 9 days and thus create a new chapter in the history of Dubai International Jazz Festival.’ added Anthony.

[Festival home page] [Infos for artists interested to perform at this event]

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:44 PM

September 12, 2006

Ready To Be Released Billy Cobham Drum’n’voice Vol. 2

billy-web.gifAfter the great success of Drum’n’voice – All That Groove distributed world wide by Sony on 2001, within few weeks Nicolosi Productions will release Billy Cobham Drum’n’voice Vol. 2 in which Billy Cobham is performing with some old friends from the ‘1970's when musicians first experimented with jazz-rock 'fusion' (this involves the combining of jazz musical concepts with rock and roll rhythms) - and show that those years still can be inspirational.

Nicolosi Productions is following the usual formula and again is offering a great list of guests like: Brian Auger (hammond organ), Buddy Miles (voice), Frank Gambale (el.guit.), Mike Lindup (voice), Dominic Miller (guitars), Jeff Berlin (el.bass), Guy Barker (flicorno), John Patitucci (el.bass), Airto Moreira (perc.), Novecento (band) and Jan Hammer (synt. 30 years after Spectrum), inside a panorama of pop, electric jazz, funky, blues, smooth and world music.

With the first Drum’n’Voice, Billy Cobham made himself approachable as well for the less used to the jazz sonority - something that has given to him the vantage to increase his popularity - the Drum’n’Voice Vol. 2 abandoned a good part of the pop concepts and presents sounds that stand strongly with jazz, rock, funky and blues.

Here Cobham is again the album’s soul as his guests take strength in their performance from his drumming. A home coming that is clearly updated from the Seventies.

The Nicolosis Brothers (owner of the label) are the authors of all the tracks but two: Real Funk written in collaboration with Buddy Miles and One more time to live in collaboration with Dominic Miller and Mike Lindup.

At the moment Nicolosi Productions features an album on world wide distribution with Wrasse: Gregg “Kofi” Brown’s Together as One (feat. Sting).

Another one of their productions, Novecento’s Dreams of Peace featuring Stanley Jordan, has been on top (1st place) of CD101.9 Smooth Jazz in New York on 2003.

More info on Nicolosi Productions: www.nicolosiproductions.com

More info on Billy Cobham: www.billycobham.com

Releasing date: September 20, 2006


Track list:

1. Waveform (feat. Brian Auger)
2. Real Funk (feat. Buddy Miles-Frank Gambale)
3. Running (feat. Novecento)
4. Final Destination (feat. Novecento)
5. One More Day To Live (feat. Mike Lindup-Dominic Miller)
6. Ozone Part 1 (feat. Airto Moreira)
7. Ozone Part 2 (feat. Dominic Miller, Jan Hammer, Jeff Berlin)
8. Take Seven (feat. John Patitucci)
9. Let Me Breathe (feat. Novecento)
10. Amazon (feat. Airto Moreira)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:54 AM

September 6, 2006

CD101.9 Liberty Jazz Festival presented by The Star Ledger

by Val Vaccaro

LibertyJazzFestival.jpgThe 1st annual CD101.9 Liberty Jazz Festival presented by The Star Ledger will take place Saturday September 9th through Sunday September 10th, 2006. (http://www.cd1019.com/feature/liberty_jazz.aspx); (http://www.starledger.com/)

The exciting new Festival will be held in Liberty State Park in New Jersey, about 200 feet away from the Statue of Liberty. Smooth jazz fans can have a double delight with watching some of their favorite artists perform, while being so close to the iconic statue, with the beautiful New York City skyline in the background. The Festival is being promoted as the culmination of CD101.9FM. summer events that included the Cool Cruise concerts (which depart from New York City's Chelsea Piers and cruise around lower Manhattan and near the Statue of Liberty).

ON SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9th, the Festival will have shows from 12 noon to 10pm. The festival will kick off with the Spirit of Life Ensemble featuring Daoud-David Williams.

Popular, eight-time Grammy winning legendary guitarist/vocalist George Benson will be there to perform a great, uplifting show with dozens of hishits such as "Breezin,'" "Turn Your Love Around," "Give Me the Night" and "This Masquerade." George's upcoming CD is a duets album with singer Al Jarreau called Givin' It Up (to be released in October). The CD has special guests including Chris Botti, Patti Austin and Paul McCartney.

Also gracing the stage will also be the legendary tenor saxophonist Gato Barbieri, with his passionate, emotive style who has recorded an amazing 50 albums, including his classic Caliente! (1976) with his signature renditionof "Europa" to lush, gorgeous tunes such as "Into the Sunrise" on the CD Que Pasa (1997) - the fourth highest selling Contemporary Jazz album that year. Another treat will be guitarist Gil Harris (who has toured with Blood Sweat& Tears).

To top off this special evening, the finale concert jam will feature a superstar group with vocalist Patti Austin, guitarist Norman Brown, pianist Alex Bugnon and saxophonist Paul Taylor. Patti Austin's now classic duet with James Ingram "Baby Come to Me" is amongst the most popular song in the vocalist 's repertoire. Her music is adored by fans as she tours around the world. Austin has recorded 16 solo albums. Recently, Austin recorded a live CD with a big band called For Ella, a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald. At present, Austin, is working on her next CD entitled "The Highest Standards," a concept album of inspirational, empowering songs in celebration of the "higher standards " in life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.

For over ten years, Norman Brown has been working his magic on the guitar. When you listen to CD101.9FM, you probably hear Norman Brown's classic, catchy cover version of "Any Love" or his catchy song "Better Days Ahead." In 2002, Brown's CD Just Chillin' - won a Grammy® in the prestigious Best Pop Instrumental Category. Brown was also part of the successful BWB group with their 2002 CD Groovin' with Kirk Whalum and Rick Braun. Brown's current CD West Coast Coolin (2004)

Its' been 11 years since the release of Taylor's debut album On The Horn. His current CD Nightlife (Peak Records) is a sensuous soul jazz vibe similar to his Steppin' Out CD. "Steppin' Out," was the popular titletrack from his 2003 Top Ten Billboard Contemporary Jazz album. Taylor has toured the U.S. with the all-star "Groovin' For Grover" lineup with Jeff Lorber, Richard Elliot and Gerald Albright. He also made his acting debut on the legendary ABC soap opera One Life To Live.

Pianist Alex Bugnon's lush melodic hits have been played on CD101.9, from "107 Degrees in the Shade," to the gorgeous, inspirational "Love Season," to the pretty tune "Around 12:15am." His most recent album, Free (2005) is a mixture of exotic rhythms with haunting, soulful melodies.

On SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 10th from 12 noon to 8pm, there will be another great day of jazz in the sun at Liberty State Park.

The first afternoon concert will feature Stanley Jordan, the brilliant, classically influenced jazz guitarist, known for his special guitar technique, as well as his smooth jazz hit cover of the tune "Lady in My Life" (originally from his CD Magic Touch). Jordan's new CD is called Ragas featuring Jay Kishor (on sitar), of music in the Indian classical tradition. Jordan has also has an interest in the healing of music therapy.

Next onstage will be legendary alto saxophonist David Sanborn. A six-time Grammy winner, Sanborn has released over 20 solo albums since 1975. One of the innovators of the pop-jazz alto saxophone sound, Sanborn has worked with Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, The Who, Miles Davis and many others. Sanborn's CD Timeagain (Verve 2003) featured the hit cover tune of "Comin' Home Baby" and includes classics such as "Tequila" and "Isn't She Lovely" as well as many bluesy, soulful songs. Recently, CD101.9 has been playing Sanborn's version of "Got to Give It Up". Some of Sanborn's biggest hits include "Chicago Song," "This Masquerade," "The Dream," and "Benny."

Another highlight of this year's first annual Liberty Jazz Festival will be the "Guitars and Saxes" show with some of smooth jazz genre's most popular artists: saxophonists Richard Elliot and Gerald Albright and guitarists Jeff Golub and Peter White.

Richard Elliot's highly dramatic tenor saxophone's distinctive growls and heartwarming sounds can be heard on his trademark tune "When a Man Loves a Woman," as well as "Ain't Nothin' Like the Real Thing" and his cover of "Secret Love." Metro Blue (ARTizen Music Group), Elliot's 14th solo album includes three catchy hits: The Stylistics' classic R & B tune "People Make The World Go Round," an optimistic, passionate original tune "Mystique," and the soulful song "Inside Out."

Jeff Golub is known for his funky, boisterous covers of the Average White Band's " Pick Up The Pieces" (Avenue Blue CD) and "Cut The Cake" (from the CD Do It Again). He's also recorded a catchy duet with Peter White "No Two Ways About It" (on the CD Dangerous Curves). On the Do It Again CD, Golub recorded the classic tune "Cold Duck Time" with Gerald Albright, which they get to do live - a real treat! Golub has an incredible repertoire, with tunes such as "Uptown Express" spiked with a spunky Wes Montgomery inspired spin from Temptation, his current CD on the Narada Jazz label). Also, Golub has a new CD in the works.

Gerald Albright's bright, bluesy and uplifting tone on alto sax and incredibly high altissimo notes are instantly recognizable. His cover of Luther Vandross' hit "So Amazing" demonstrates his incredibly inspiring range and power. Albright's improvisational prowess and soulful sounds delight on other hit tunes like "My, My, My" and "Bermuda Nights". Albright expressively soars on the classic Ray Charles tune "Georgia On My Mind"- featured on the current CD New Beginnings (Peak Records), his 11th recording as a solo artist.

Peter White's smooth grooves have earned him the title "Guitarist of the Year" four years in a row from National Smooth Jazz Awards. Peter's new CD is Playin' Favorites (Sony), a follow-up to his popular CD Reflections of romantic cover tunes, as well as his cover of the Isley Brothers' tune "Who's That Lady" (from the Glow CD). White's new CD includes the single "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)" - the old Junior Walker song - and the classic Grover Washington tune "Mister Magic" - a favorite or as White would prefer, a "favourite" (British version) song of fans and musicians alike.

The big CD101.9FM Liberty Jazz Festival finale will be a fantastic show with the Rendezvous All Stars featuring: saxophonist Kirk Whalum, bassist Wayman Tisdale, guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Butler, and pianist Brian Simpson.

Bassist Wayman Tisdale's current CD, Way Up, was aptly named by Dave Koz, because it's been topping the smooth jazz radio charts since it's release this past June. Hear a note or two, and you instantly recognize the buoyant bass sounds of Wayman Tisdale on songs like his current hit "Get Down On It" on his 7th CD, Way Up (2006 Rendezvous), the enthusiastic cover of "Ain'tNo Stoppin' Us Now" (from the CD Hang Time) or "Can't Hide Love" (from the CD Face to Face). This past June, during an instore appearance at FYE Records in New York City, Tisdale said that Marcus Miller once told him that if the audience can recognize an artist in a note or two, he's achieved something great.Tisdale has certainly done that and more.

It's always a great pleasure to hear the ever soulful, smooth sounds of Kirk Whalum. For the past few months, Whalum has been touring with the Rendezvous All Stars. His latest CD is Kirk Whalum Performs the Babyface Songbook (Rendezvous Records), which includes covers of hit songs such as "Can We Talk," "I'll Make Love To You," "When Can I See You," and "Someone to Love." One of Whalum's specialties for over a decade has been doing beautifully soulful interpretations of R&B tunes (e.g., "Ascension," "Same Ole' Love," "My All," "If Only For One Night" "God Must Have Spent (A Little More Time With You)" ). Next year, Whalum will have the honor of being the first full-time artist in residence at the Stax Music Academy in Memphis, Tennessee.

The sensitive stylings of South-African guitarist/songwriter Jonathan Butler' s latest CD is simply titled Jonathan (his debut on Rendezvous). The first single is Butler's poignantly beautiful cover of the classic "Fire and Rain." Another tune on the new CD is "Mandela Bay," an optimistic,joyful tribute to the legacy of Nelson Mandela.

Pianist Brian Simpson's catchy, enthusiastic, upbeat hit song "It's All Good" (the title track to his current solo CD (Rendezvous) is a breath of fresh air on smooth jazz radio. Simpson was musical director and touring keyboardist for Dave Koz and pop star Janet Jackson.

This year's Liberty Jazz Fest promises to be a wonderful experience! We hope it will become a tradition and look forward to next year's Fest.

GENERAL INFORMATION: Smooth Jazz fans can purchase a 1 day or a 2 day pass (Liberty Jazz Festival 2 Day Pass). Two types of tickets are available, VIP tickets (assigned on a first come basis in reserved seating near the stage, with access to the VIP tent that has separate food service and restrooms) and also lawn tickets. Children who are 6 years old and under can attend for free. So you can bring the kids!

Here's the Schedule:

Saturday 9/9 *

11am - Shuttle Buses from parking lots available
11:30am - Will-call ticket window opens
Noon - Gates open!
12:30pm - Spirit of Life Ensemble featuring Daoud-David Williams performance
2:00pm - Gil Parris performance
3:30pm - Gato Barbieri performance
5:00pm - George Benson performance
7:30pm - Norman Brown, Patti Austin, Alex Bugnon & Paul Taylor all-star jam finale!

Sunday 9/10 *

11am - Shuttle Buses from parking lots available
11:30am - Will-call ticket w indow opens
Noon - Gates Open!
12:30pm - Stanley Jordon performance
2:00pm - David Sanborn performance
3:30pm - GUITARS & SAXES with Jeff Golub, Richard Elliot, Gerald Albright and Peter White all-star jam
6:00pm- RENDEZVOUS ALL-STARS with Wayman Tisdale, Kirk Whalum, Jonathan Butler and Brian Simpson all-star finale!

*all times subject to change

Posted by Peter Böhi at 11:24 PM

September 4, 2006

Madeleine Peyroux Readies New Record ‘Half The Perfect World’ Release Is Set For September 12 On Rounder Records

Major Fall Tour Planned

MadeleinePeyroux.jpgMadeleine Peyroux, the smoky voiced singer whose remarkable recent success made her one of the major surprise hit stories of last year, has completed work on her new album titled Half the Perfect World, set for release September 12 on Rounder Records. Peyroux spent the month of April in Los Angeles recording with producer Larry Klein, who also worked with the singer on her worldwide million selling smash Careless Love. Klein recently told the Wall St. Journal that Peyroux is working with an “expanded palette,” while the newspaper predicted the new album “may expand...her audience.”

Besides landing on top ten album of the year lists in Newsweek and the Wall St. Journal among many other critical coups, Careless Love is nearing Gold in the US with another 600,000 for the rest of the world. It’s Gold in the UK, France and Australia.

Plans are in the works for major touring in the Fall. For more information on Half the Perfect World and the Madeleine Peyroux tour visit http://www.rounder.com/?id=artistHome.php

Founded in 1970, Rounder Records is America's premier independent label. Rounder and its Zoë, Heartbeat, Philo and Bullseye Blues imprints have a catalog of over 3000 albums, representing a wide variety of folk, roots, rock, blues, and reggae music.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:04 PM

August 30, 2006

Jazz And The New Songbook Artists, starring Carmen Lundy

CarmenLundy.jpgJoin us in celebrating Jazz And The New Songbook Artists, starring Carmen Lundy Sun. September 10 at 7:00 p.m. at the Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood! Win a $100 Gift Card to amazon.com and an autographed concert poster signed by Carmen Lundy and the New Songbook Artists.

A summit of jazz notables who’ve won acclaim far and wide. Vocalist Carmen Lundy, violinist Regina Carter, pianist Robert Glasper, trombonist Steve Turre, guitarist Phil Upchurch, and a dozen more — open an international tour spotlighting their own compositions.

Tickets: $30 Students and Children 12 & under $12 Ford Amphitheatre www.FordAmphitheatre.org 323.461.3673 for tickets

CarmenLundyContest.jpg

Tour Dates:

09/10/2006 John Anson Ford Amphitheatre Hollywood, CA
09/21/2006 Club Istanbul,TR with the Robert Glasper Trio
09/22/2006 Club Istanbul,TR with the Robert Glasper Trio
09/30/2006 Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival Boston, MA 02118
10/02/2006 UMO Jazz House Pursimiehenkatu 6, Helsinki, 00150,FI
10/03/2006 UMO Jazz House Pursimiehenkatu 6, Helsinki, 00150,FI
10/04/2006 UMO Jazz House Pursimiehenkatu 6, Helsinki, 00150,FI
10/19/2006 Miami Performing Arts Center Miami, FL 33109
10/20/2006 Hyatt Regency Hotel Cincinnati, OH 45245
10/21/2006 Jazz Mentors Program Princeton, NJ 08540
10/22/2006 Jazz Mentors Program Princeton, NJ 08540

03/04/2007 Disney Concert Hall Los Angeles, CA 90001
03/25/2007 -04/05/2007 Italy Tour 2 weeks in various cities in Italy. With The New Songbook Artists.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 3:44 PM

August 5, 2006

Skip Martin of Kool & the Gang and the Dazz Band is Miles High

Grammy winner Skip Martin of Kool & the Gang and the Dazz Band releases his debut jazz CD Miles High today. ‘Are You Ready’ the debut single with Skip on trumpet and vocals, features Wayman Tisdale on bass guitar and 6-time Grammy winner Ricky Lawson on drums. The 13-track CD also features sax man Ronnie Laws, 5-time Grammy winner Al McKay of Earth Wind & Fire and Bruce Conti of Tower of Power. Miles High will be in stores on Tuesday, August 8, 2006.

The idea of Skip Martin’s debut jazz project was pure and simple – “it was just time”. With over 26 album releases as lead vocalist with the Dazz Band, Kool & the Gang and his own solo projects, Skip wanted to record a project where he did his ‘singing’ through his trumpet. “I’ve recorded with both groups in the horn section but never as a solo artist,” stated Skip. The result is Miles High filled with hip, cool, funky, smooth jazz grooves. “You’ll definitely come away ... with ... a sense of what Miles might be doing musically if he were still with us.” (Scott O’Brien for smoothjazz.com).

‘Are You Ready’ is “...a laid back blend of classic styles. If Freddie Hubbard and Donald Byrd were in the same band they would open their set with this tune...” (Gene Harris, Jr., MBA and Cat Lee for GrooveDoctorsRadio.com). Ronnie Laws appears on the ‘Smooth Sailing’ track in a beautiful trumpet and sax duet – ranging from sultry grooves to profound narratives.

‘Miles High’, the title cut, a tribute to Miles Davis written the night Miles died, clearly shows an insightful range of diverse influences from the modern jazz era known as the Miles Years. “... jazz that can appeal to the novice and seasoned listener...” (Enorman for soulpatrol.netradio).

Al McKay comes through on guitar with the track ‘Old School Rules’ and Bruce Conti also on guitar is featured on ‘Careless Whisper’. The album includes the first recordings of spoken word poet Bronze Paragon on the tracks ‘Are You Ready’ (Spoken Word) and ‘Apropos’ (Spoken Word) – which just make you sit up and listen. “I’m very excited about this project” admits Skip Martin. “It took 2 years in the making with a few starts and stops but the journey was well worth the time.”

The album is beautifully mastered by multiple Grammy winner Bernie Grundman.

MILES HIGH TRACKLIST
1. Do Da
2. Smooth Sailing (featuring Ronnie Laws)
3. Apropos
4. Are You Ready (featuring Wayman Tisdale & Ricky Lawson)
5. I Give My Heart
6. Miles High
7. You Are My Starship
8. Are You Ready (Spoken Word)
9. Old School Rules (featuring Al McKay)
10. Moon Splash
11. Monster Bites
12. Apropos (Spoken Word)
13. Careless Whisper (featuring Bruce Conti & Ricky Lawson)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:27 PM

August 4, 2006

Guitarist Doc Powell Unveils Dueling Styles On Self Titled 10 Th Anniversary New CD

Heads Up Set Features Guests Brian Culbertson and Kirk Whalum On Single Cover Of Carole King’s Classic Hit, “It’s Too Late.”

It’s taken veteran guitarist Doc Powell two decades and the celebration of his tenth solo record to reveal that he’s been in the closet , hiding his passion for the acoustic and classical style of guitar. But core fans of his patented electric guitar licks won’t be disappointed, because Powell blends dueling guitar styles and yet another dimension to his arsenal of skills on his self-titled new set. The contrasting styles are brilliantly displayed on the records lead single, “It’s Too Late,” an inspired groove-laden arrangement of Carole King’s classic seventies hit which also features special guest appearances by Grammy award winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum and chart-topping keyboardist, Brian Culbertson.

Powell has built a legacy as a musical chameleon, traversing from one genre to another without losing a beat. He’s contributed to over 125 recordings of some of the premiere recording stars in R & B/Pop, like Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Teddy Pendergrass, and enjoyed a 12-year stint recording and performing with the late Luther Vandross. He’s also played with jazz greats Lonnie Liston Smith, Bob James, the late Grover Washington Jr., and Stanley Clarke, and with gospel superstars, Shirley Caesar, The Might Clouds of Joy, Ce Ce Winans, Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin, and performed and recorded with gospel’s record-breaking superstar Kirk Franklin since 2002.

In fact, Powell, who has personally financed and run his own homespun record label, DPR Music Group, with his life partner and wife of 25 years, (and former manager of the late Phyllis Hyman) started recording his new set on buses, in hotel rooms, and backstage while touring with Franklin on his mega three-month national Hero, tour launched in November 2005. Doc Powell, is his third release with Heads Up.

His decision to integrate acoustic with electric guitar comes after picking up a Martin guitar that he started playing five years ago. “The Martin guitar has a voice and tone that is more true to a classical guitar sound,” says Powell, “and I wanted to integrate that with the electric style I’ve most known for playing. At one time, I even thought about naming the record, “Duets,” because I’m showing two sides of myself, and often on the same track.”

On, “It’s Too Late,” Powell even offers listener’s two versions - an electric version that features a sizzling duet between him and Kirk Whalum, with Brian Culbertson adding a touch of elegance on acoustic piano, and background singer Faith Anderson supplying sparse vocals – And an “Unplugged” version that is more organic – with an emotional arrangement and gentle percussion by Pablo Batista. “I wanted a song that was universal and that music fans from my generation could identify with,” says Powell, “and I feel each version is unique and special in its’ own way.”

Like his nine previous recordings, Powell mixes soulful straight-to-the-heart melodies, with infectious and cutting edge grooves, laced with some retro R & B and compelling rock and jazz tones. Since the bulk of the record was written while Powell was touring with Franklin, he used Franklin’s musicians to lay down most of the tracks, including Franklin’s co-producer and musical director, keyboardist Shaun Martin, along with keyboardist Jerome Harmon, Matt Cappy on trumpet, Pablo Batista on percussion, Derek Ray on bass guitar and DJ Ernie Green. He also enlisted the talents of fellow label mate Bobby Lyle on keyboards, who is featured on the CD’s explosive Latin-fueled gem, “Me, Myself and Rio.”

While the musicians show off their prowess on the sexy slo-jam, “Hip Pocket,” the acoustic funky, “Hey,” and the retro grooved, “Another Place And Time,” Powell also branched out to collaborate with Grammy Award winning producer Barry Eastmond (Whitney Houston, Anita Baker, Jonathan Butler) who co-produced the seductive and romantic ballads, “Let Go,” and “Together We Can.” “On that track,” Powell attests, “I’m playing octaves on the electric guitar in a Wes Montgomery style, and the acoustic guitar is playing the same thing but in a different tone.”

Powell’s musical journey started in Spring Valley, NY. He began playing guitar at age six and later studied at the University of Charleston, West Virginia. After college he land session work in NY, honing his skills on live recording sessions, cutting commercials, and a few movie soundtracks. He also scored a gig as a solo artist at Mikell’s, one of Manhattan’s hot jazz clubs, where veterans like Art Blakely and The Jazz Messengers, McCoy Turner, George Benson and Miles Davis frequented.

In 1987, he released his first solo record, Love Is Where It’s At, and earned a Grammy nomination (Best R & B Instrumental) for his cover of Marvin Gaye’s signature hit, “What’s Going On.” A string of well-received releases followed, most notably Inner City Blues, which was funded and released on his own imprint, West Coast Records. Recalls Powell, “I took all the money I had earned touring with Luther and was ready to sell it door to door.” In fact, the keyboard Powell used to lay the tracks was a birthday present from Vandross.

DocPowell2.jpgPowell’s dozen years performing with Vandross, catapulted him to another level as a musician, and was highlighted by his legendary rock guitar solo on one of Vandross’s biggest hits, “Stop To Love,” which is still imitated by rockers today. He also performed on Vandross’s history-making 10 days at Wembley Stadium (1989) that broke the previous record held by Elton John. Powell was featured on five of the stars biggest CD’s, including, The Night I Fell In Love, and Give Me The Reason.

In 1996, Powell enjoyed his biggest solo commercial success with his Laid Back, CD. The record yielded two Top 10 hits, including “Sunday Morning,” which made history at smooth jazz radio by achieving the most spins (over 1000) in it’s first week of release. By year end’s Laid Back, was rated the #2 jazz record of the year.

A few years later, Powell surprised his jazz fans with his first entrée into contemporary gospel, I Claim Victory, which Powell created not only to fulfill his own passion for the music, but also a fund-raising tool for his church. Not surprisingly, Powell ended up serving as the band leader for gospel superstar Kirk Franklin on his mega “Hopeville Tour,” which also featured headliners Donnie McCurklin and Yolanda Adams. He later recorded and toured on Franklin’s current platinum-selling Hero CD.

Doc Powell fans will probably revel in discovering his “acoustic side,” and according to Powell, even after twenty years and ten solo records, the real joy in making records has always been the same, “The most exciting thing is the first time someone tells me that he or she connected somehow to what I was feeling at a specific moment,” he lauded, “That’s very satisfying and that’s when I know I’ve been successful.”

CD Release Date: August 22, 2006

Posted by Peter Böhi at 12:41 AM

August 3, 2006

Watch Ken Navarro record his upcoming CD "The Meeting Place"

ken_navarro.jpgSmooth Jazz guitarist Ken Navarro has begun to record his next CD. The new CD is called The Meeting Place. It includes 11 new songs and will be released December 1, 2006 exclusively at www.kennavarro.com followed by national retail and radio release on January 16, 2007.

Beginning August 1, there will be an entire section at Ken's website devoted to following the creation and recording of his new music. (http://www.kennavarro.com/newcdkn/mp.htm)

Included will be weekly video and audio previews as well as regular diary entries by Ken following the progress of his CD to its completion. There will also be special offers for visitors to Ken's website to purchase the CD well in advance of the retail release date with free extras only available when purchased at www.kennavarro.com.

In addition, subscribers to Ken Podcast Series (http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=160275933) will receive free weekly podcast updates from Ken.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:22 PM

July 28, 2006

Cool-jazz guitarist Joyce Cooling set to release the personal and eclectic Revolving Door on September 12th

Album title inspired by her brother’s battle with mental illness; “Mildred’s Attraction” will be the first track serviced to radio

JoyeCooling_RevolvingDoor.jpgSometimes we’re inspired by those closest to us. For her seventh album, chart-topping cool-jazz guitarist Joyce Cooling turned to her brother for inspiration on her forthcoming Narada Jazz/Blue Note Label Group release, Revolving Door, which will arrive in record stores nationally on September 12th. Cooling’s brother has been battling schizophrenia ever since they grew up together. She wrote the songs that comprise the album with her long-time collaborator Jay Wagner, who produced the collection. A portion of the proceeds from album sales will go directly to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to help support people living with mental illness. The first track being serviced to smooth jazz radio is the uplifting and funky “Mildred’s Attraction,” which will go for adds on August 14th.

Revolving Door is the most personal recording from Cooling to date. It’s an eclectic body of electric and acoustic jazz, R&B, blues and Latin rhythms that allowed the Bay Area resident to stretch creatively. She used ten different guitars on the ten compositions, each with a different sound that was used to fit a specific emotion for each particular song. Cooling croons on several cuts, her voice chill, elegant and jazzy. The melodies and moods are diverse and although the title cut inspired the record, the subject matter, while at times pensive, never becomes depressing or overwrought with despair. Instead Cooling offers compassion and understanding.

“I wanted to make the music real and about something that matters,” explained Cooling. “Revolving Door is different from the rest of our CDs in that we wanted to tell the story first, and then let the music follow. ‘Revolving door’ is a metaphor for a situation we humans often find ourselves in where there is seemingly no beginning and no end to a problem. It can be a frustrating treadmill with the same path ruthlessly cycling under your feet.”

A photogenic natural beauty with a humble, down-to-earth attitude, Cooling is looking forward to playing the revealing songs on Revolving Door in concert, where she hopes to connect with fans in a more meaningful way. She’s already got a few concert dates lined up for the fall with a full itinerary to be announced later.

The New Jersey native is self-taught and she developed her distinctive finger-picking style on her own. After debuting in 1990 with an independently released album, she landed her first #1 radio single (“South of the Market”) in 1997. Reaching her creative stride, Cooling has had several #1 singles and a handful of Top 10 smooth jazz radio hits. She was voted “Best New Talent” in a Jazziz Reader’s Poll, won the Gibson Guitars Award as “Best Jazz Guitarist of the Year” and was nominated as “Smooth Jazz Artist of the Year” by the Gavin Report.

Joyce Cooling’s Revolving Door contains the following songs:

“Mildred’s Attraction”
“Cool Of The Night”
“Revolving Door”
“At The Modern”
“I’ll Always Love You” (Ode to the Audience)
“One Again”
“Come And Get It”
“Little Sister”
“In Case Of Rain”
“Jesse’s Bench”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 2:02 AM

July 25, 2006

Hugh “Peanuts” Whalum

185_peanuts.jpgThere I was sitting with my uncle “Peanuts”, who’s literally a legend in a kind of musical microcosm... someone who’s played with Nat King Cole, Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald. Once I asked David Sanborn if he knew him and he said, ‘Of course I do. Who doesn’t know “Peanuts” Whalum?’ So my resolution this year was, “I am going to somehow document what my Uncle “Peanuts” does…’ To have him sit there and play songs for me… Oh goodness. It was such an experience! It was hard for me to concentrate on what I was doing. Everything he played I loved. 90% of the songs I didn’t know. I thought I knew a lot of Jazz standards - but, around someone like him, you know nothing. This man is a giant… he’s a five foot five giant! - Kirk Whalum

In the category of Talent Deserving Wider Recognition and Best Kept Musical Secret, Hugh “Peanuts” Whalum shines with unparalleled brightness. On his self-titled debut on Rendezvous Entertainment, the singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist stamps pop, swing, jazz, blues and gospel standards, underexposed classics and inspired originals with his exquisite vocal sensibilities and instrumental savvy, playing both piano and tenor saxophone.

Spanning decades and crossing genres and generations, the 75-years-young Peanut’s musicality and sensitivity find perfect expression on the 11 tracks of an album that is both timeless and classic. Produced by his nephew, Kirk Whalum (the chart-topping, No. 1-selling saxophonist who has been relentlessly occupying the top of the charts for that past few years), Hugh “Peanuts” Whalum takes his place among the great interpretative singers and instrumentalists of all time: Tony Bennett, Johnny Matthis, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, among others.

Backing the singer is a stellar band formed around Peanut’s trio (the artist himself on piano, tenor sax and vocals) with Rob Block on guitar and Jeff Anderson on bass. The A-list of players includes nephew Kirk Whalum joining in on saxophone, Rick Jackson (Amy Grant, Larry Carlton) on additional keys, Chester Thompson (of Genesis fame) on drums, and Lalo Davila on percussion. Additionally, a special guest appearance is made by Kenneth Whalum, III (“Peanuts” and Kirk’s grand nephew and nephew respectively).

Although Hugh “Peanuts” Whalum is a fixture in the city that gave birth to the blues, St. Louis, this gracious gentleman was born in Memphis. “A few years ago”, he says with a laugh. “I began playing violin when I was eight. I had six lessons, which is all the formal musical training I ever had.” From the violin, he moved on to the cornet and a spot in the YMCA band. He and his three brothers were also an in-demand quartet in Memphis and the surrounding areas, where they opened for their father, a well-respected orator and lecturer. “Peanuts” continued on trumpet through his third year in college, when “one of the tenor saxes in the swing band finished college and there was no one to take his place, so I started goofing around with tenor saxophone and that turned out to be ‘the calling’, if you will.

As a member of the Central State Collegians, he played Carnegie Hall, sharing the stage with Woody Herman, Billy Eckstine, Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald. He and his college cohorts (including the renowned Frank Foster) were called in on a gig in Dayton, Ohio, when the band that was hired to back Billy Eckstine cancelled. Eckstine was so impressed that when he played Indianapolis, “Peanuts” and company were brought in once again. “On this particular night”, “Peanuts” recalls, “Jazz At The Philharmonic” was in town… So look who’s coming to see Eckstine, but Ella Fitzgerald, Lester Young, Howard McGee, etc. They sat in, so I played with young and McGee and behind Ella.

Following graduation (with a degree in chemistry), he toured with the Lionel Hampton Band on tenor sax, ultimately relocating to St. Louis, playing solo piano at hotels, theatres and clubs around the city, gigging on sax with the likes of Miles Davis and Ed Thigpen when they came to town. “I have a picture with Miles and Ed,” “Peanuts” chuckles. “We’re wearing Zoot suits.”

In the ‘50’s, as part of the Jeeter-Pillars band, “Peanuts” played behind Nat King Cole and his trio. “Whenever Nat would come on and be announced, ‘Lady’s and Gentlemen, Nat King Cole’, the first thing Nat would say is, ‘I’d like to introduce you to my friend.’ He’d call me out of the band, you now, to come and play with him. So every song he played, I played with him… that didn’t strike me then, but jeez, I think about it now, and say ‘Whoa, was that me? Was that really me?”

It may be hard for “Peanuts” to believe, but for anyone listening to the musical magic on Hugh “Peanuts” Whalum, it makes perfect sense.

Although long known for his distinction on tenor saxophone, vocals finally took center stage for “Peanuts” when a club he was playing couldn’t afford a trio during Lent, as business would fall off in a highly Catholic part of the city. “Peanuts” volunteered to do a solo gig, singing and playing the piano. “You’ve never seen me scuffle like that. That week I went to work. I couldn’t play anything, but I could sing and when someone would request a song, I’d try to find something complementary, key-wise, on the piano. I’d sit there and play, laughing. Do you know business picked up… business picked up during Lent.”

PeanutsWhalum.jpgWith Hugh “Peanuts” Whalum, business is bound to pick up again. Romantic and elegant, “Peanuts” and his velvet voice imbue every lyric with added meaning and subtlety. His choice of material is impeccable. Covers of songs like the Elvis perennial, “I Can’t Help Falling”, and Frank Sinatra’s “Why Try To Change Me Now” find perfect balance alongside Sammy Cahn’s rarely recorded lyrical gem “It’s Always Four A.M.” (music by Ron Anthony). With Whalum and Whalum, the latter becomes one of the most evocative and atmospheric songs in memory, making it hard to imagine that anyone but “Peanuts” could match the songs’ bittersweet eloquence. Producer Kirk Whalum says, “It’s the kind of lyric that’s so magical, so carefully thought out. It tells a story, has depth… such a great twist of imagination to say, ‘When you’re all alone, it’s always four a.m.”

Other standout tracks include “I Don’t Know Why”, “The Best Man” and “Beautiful Friendship”. Rounding out the romance is album-opener “I’ll Close My Eyes” which has been recorded by everyone from Cannonball Adderley to Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Shore and Dinah Washington. “Peanuts” makes it entirely his own, with delightful nuance and shading. “The song came out in ‘40’s or ‘50’s; it’s always been very special and dear to me, but the versions back then were slow. On this one, I bounced a bit.”

Hugh “Peanuts” Whalum is a secret that can’t be kept any longer. If his reputation reaches as far as his inspired talent, he’ll be a legend not only in St. Louis (where he’s considered a local treasure) and with jazz insiders, but also around the world.

Hugh “Peanuts” Whalum, the one and only, is unequivocally a giant. With any luck, and “God Willing,” as “Peanuts” is want to say, this man, who should be a household name, “soon will be.”

Kirk is presenting his uncle on August 10, at the Vic in Los Angeles. Then the next night, Peanuts is performing with Kirk Whalum and the Rendezvous All-Stars at the Long Beach Jazz Festival. Audiences will see what SMOOTH really is when they hear the velvety timbres of the Peanut!

He will also join Dave Koz on the Dave Koz & Friends At Sea Cruise in November. When most gentlemen Peanuts' age are passengers on cruises, he will be taking stage and "working" during his trip.

To me, artists like Peanuts are the real American idols.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:55 PM

July 16, 2006

Old Pasadena JazzFest

The Old Pasadena JazzFest will soon take place July 22 & 23, 2006 at the L.A. County Arboretum. As alyways there is a great lineup of first rate smooth jazz artists.

Line-up for Sat. July 22: Incognito featuring Maysa, Rachelle Ferrell, Candy Dulfer featuring Jason Miles, Soul Express (Jody Watley, Jeff Lorber, Chris Standring), Marc Antoine & Michael Lington with the Philippe Saisse Trio, Gerald Veasley.

Line-Up For Sun. July 23: Teena Marie, The Music Of Marvin Gaye & Motown (an All-Star Jam featuring Jason Miles, Ledisi, Candy Dulfer, Greg Adams, Dj Logic and very special guest Candy Dulfer!), Rick Braun, Hiroshima (their 25th anniversary), Eric Darius, Nick Colionne... and others!

For the first time, the Old Pasadena JazzFest will be held on the lush grounds of The L.A. County Arboretum. This 127-acre venue is one of Southern California's treasures, with manicured gardens and trees throughout. The spectacular meadow called Bauer Lawn will be utilized for the festival, which will allow more room for general seating, plus plenty of room for the Vendor Village, International Food Court and large shade structures.

More information here.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:57 AM

July 14, 2006

Catch Another Great Guitars & Saxes Show on the 2006 Tour!

by Val Vaccaro

This year’s 2006 Guitars & Saxes (G & S) terrific lineup includes guitarists Jeff Golub and Peter White, and saxophonists Richard Elliot and Gerald Albright.

GS_GeraldAlbright.jpg GS_RichardElliot.jpg GS_JeffGolub.jpg GS_PeterWhite.jpg

If you are a smooth jazz fan, and you haven’t already been to a G & S show in the past 11 years (it now has institution-status!), you need to know that you are guaranteed to have a great time! Each of these guys is a consummate musician in his own right and has a wonderful rapport with the audience. Together, the dynamic, playful, and improvisational interaction between the musicians makes for delightful entertainment! The top-notch G & S backing band members for this tour include: Ron Reinhardt on keyboards, Nate Philips on bass, Dwight Sills on guitar, and Ricky Lawson on drums.

Jeff Golub always amazes audiences as an exciting and endearing performer with his diversity on electric guitar on everything from sultry smooth jazz ballads to playful, funky, bluesy, uptempo soulful pop-rock tunes. Golub’s influences range from Wes Montgomery to Jeff Beck to The Average White band; his work with contemporary jazz icons like Bob James, and rockers like Rod Stewart, Billy Squier and Peter Wolf might also have something to do with it.

From the smooth finesse of Wes Montgomery, to edgy, searing, rousing sounds of rock… Jeff Golub is a musician of great emotional depth and range. Jeff has said, “When I was a kid playing rock music, so much of it was jazz… early Cream records, …Traffic, Santana, the Allman Brothers. I’m not happy about the way that music has to be pigeonholed and categorized with words. You have to say what bin it's going to go into in the store, which radio station is going to play it because it fits this description. The things that inspired most of us to play had no description of where they were coming from. It was just a lot of different influences coming together… Things like formats and what is popular come and go, but if you are true to yourself as an artist, that doesn't come and go. That is what is always there, and the people who come to listen to you will always appreciate that. You have to be yourself. You try to be the most charming version of yourself, but you still have to be yourself.”

Golub has certainly proved he has mastered more than one format, which makes for interesting compositions and wonderful performances appreciated by audiences. If you see Golub perform one of his smoldering originals such as “Naked City” or “Stockholm,” you know the incredible range and intensity of Golub’s electric guitar sounds, as well as special cat-like cries and violin sounds. Since I first saw Golub perform at SOB’s (Sounds of Brazil) nightclub in NYC in 1996, I have likened Golub’s musical diversity to the baby-boomer cartoon hero Felix the Cat, who had his magical bag of tricks.

Golub has often received airplay with the catchy duet recorded with Peter White aptly named “No Two Ways About It” (on Golub’s CD in 2000 called Dangerous Curves), which might be included in the set list. However, a show with Jeff Golub wouldn’t be complete without a funky, boisterous Average White Band medley of his No. 1 radio hit “Pick Up The Pieces” (Avenue Blue CD) and “Cut The Cake” (from the CD Do It Again). Speaking of cake, the icing on my wish list to see live has been the classic funky Eddie Harris jazz tune “Cold Duck Time” which Golub recorded with Albright (on Golub’s 2002 Do It Again CD). Audiences hopefully will finally get to see Golub and Albright work their dynamic duo musical exchange live – a real treat! Another song you most likely will hear on the tour is “Uptown Express” - an easy-going groovy, cool tune reminiscent of Wes and the 60’s vibe - spiked with Golub’s spunky spin (from Temptation, Golub’s current CD on the Narada Jazz label).

Also, Golub has a much-anticipated new CD in the works. Since Golub has such an affinity for groovy 60’s vibes, maybe he should consider covering tunes such as the TV theme “Secret Agent Man” or “Love Potion No. 9.” Golub has had some of his compositions on movie soundtracks before – maybe an Austin Powers sequel could include Golub in cameo scenes playing his version of “The In Crowd” (on Golub’s Nightlife CD), or other cool tunes Golub has recorded, or will record in the future! Check the website for updates.


Peter White’s sweet, melodic acoustic guitar sounds have graced twelve No. 1 smooth jazz radio hit songs including “Talkin’ Bout Love,” from his Confidential CD (Columbia). Peter has said, “I play from the heart, which is where music ultimately comes from. It’s about tapping into the soul and allowing the emotions within to pour forth. The battle is to trust your instincts without trying to be too clever, which only ends up corrupting the process and seldom works anyway.”

Peter’s smooth grooves have earned him the title “Guitarist of the Year” four years in a row from National Smooth Jazz Awards. Peter’s new CD is Playin' Favorites (Sony), a follow-up to his popular CD Reflections of romantic cover tunes, as well as his cover of the Isley Brothers’ tune “Who's That Lady" (from the Glow CD). White’s new CD includes the single "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)" - the old Junior Walker song - and the classic Grover Washington tune “Mister Magic” – a favorite or as White would prefer, a “favourite” (British version) song of fans and musicians alike.


Richard Elliot’s dramatic emotive style, with distinctive growls and sensuous sounds on tenor sax have put his heart-warming imprints on Motown classics such as his now trademark tune “When a Man Loves a Woman,” and his cover of “Secret Love.” Elliot has worked with Natalie Cole, The Pointer Sisters, Smokey Robinson, The Four Tops, The Temptations, and Tower of Power.

Elliot’s current CD Metro Blue (ARTizen Music Group – his label with Rick Braun, manager Steve Chapman and industry veteran Al Evers) is his 14th solo album. So far, Metro Blue includes three catchy hits: The Stylistics’ classic R & B tune “People Make The World Go Round,” an optimistic, passionate original tune “Mystique,” and the soulful song “Inside Out.” According to Elliot, “I wanted to create a different sound that is organic, funky and soulful. I wanted it to have a moody urban vibe, but not an American urban sound; more like a Euro urban sound”.


Gerald Albright’s bright, bluesy and uplifting tone on alto sax and incredibly high altissimo notes are instantly recognizable. He also plays tenor and soprano sax, but it’s his work on alto that stays in my memory. Albright has worked with artists such as Anita Baker, Patrice Rushen, Nina Simone, Barry White, Nancy Wilson and The Temptations. Albright’s cover of Luther Vandross’ hit “So Amazing” demonstrates his incredibly inspiring range and power. Albright’s improvisational prowess and soulful sounds delight on other hit tunes like “My, My, My” and “Bermuda Nights.” The ultimate anthem that Albright expressively soars on is the classic Ray Charles tune “Georgia On My Mind.” A new version of “Georgia…” is on the current CD New Beginnings (Peak Records), his 11th recording as a solo artist. “We Got The Groove” is a catchy jam tune that jumpstarts the new CD. The G & S show will most likely feature a number of these songs.

Last year, Albright toured with Phil Collins, and performed on the “Groovin' for Grover” tour with Elliot and others. This summer, Albright, Elliot and White appear with other smooth jazz artists on a re-release of the CD Jason Miles presents: To Grover With Love (Artizen Music Group) a tribute to the late great saxophonist Grover Washington Jr.

Albright has said “I find the most gratification in the simple but powerful reactions of people in the audience when I play... It’s like through The Creator, I’m a messenger, and my job is to touch someone new every day with the music I play. If people come to one of my shows with the weight of the world on their shoulders, my goal for those few hours is to give them a nice release from their troubles and take them to a fresh, exciting place. … With every note I play, I really want to move people.” That’s true of all of the artists on the G & S tour!


Guitars & Saxes is still one of my favorite smooth jazz shows – a must to see for all smooth jazz fans. The first time I saw G & S I was really impressed; it was in 1996 at the Inter-Media Arts Center (IMAC) Theater in Huntington, Long Island (in New York) with Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum, Peter White and Marc Antoine. Back in my 1996 review I wrote, “For the sake of contemporary jazz fans across the nation, let’s hope they extend the (Guitars, Saxes and More) tour in the future.” Like so many thousands of fans, I’m glad the show goes on and hope it will continue to for many decades!


Here are some G & S tour dates and places (check the artists’ websites for updated listings):

2006 TOUR SCHEDULE
*GS denotes 2006 Guitars & Saxes featuring
Jeff Golub, Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot and Peter White.

DATE CITY VENUE

JULY 2006
14 St. Louis, MO The Pageant - *GS
15 Chicago, IL Chicago Theater - *GS
27 Glenside, PA Keswick Theatre - *GS
28 Huntington, NY IMAC - *GS
29 Harrisburg, PA The Forum - PA - *GS
30 Annapolis, MD Rams Head - *GS
31 Alexandria, VA The Birchmere - *GS

AUGUST 2006
01 Alexandria, VA The Birchmere - *GS
02 Annapolis, MD Rams Head - *GS
04 Norfolk, VA Town Point Park - *GS
05 Woodinville, WA Chateau Ste. Michelle - *GS
10 Saratoga, CA The Garden Theatre - *GS
11 Sacramento, CA Radison Hotel - *GS
12 Healdsburg, CA Rodney Strong Winery - *GS
13 Long Beach, CA Rainbow Lagoon Park - *GS
19 Concord, CA Chronicle Pavillion - *GS
25 Newport Beach, CA Hyatt Newport

OCTOBER 2006
22 Avalon, CA Avalon Ballroom - *GS

NOVEMBER 2006
06 Cabo San Lucas, Mexico Cabo Wabo

Jeff is a “PORT OF CALL GUEST” of the Dave Koz Cruise and will be appearing at Cabo Wabo in Cabo San Lucas on Monday November 6th

JANUARY
20-27, 2007 Lvs Ft. Lauderdale Warren Hill Smooth Jazz Cruise

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:50 AM

July 1, 2006

Wayman Tisdale - Way Up

If there’s one thing NBA star-turned-musical giant Wayman Tisdale learned from his former career, it’s that there’s no substitute for hard work. Emerging as one of the most consistent and admired players during his 12 years in the league – segueing from the gold-winning Olympic team to stints with the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns – his towering frame, exceptional strength and relentless work ethic made him one of the game’s most dominating power forwards. Tisdale still lives and breathes this work ethic as a musician. True to character, he is a trailblazer in the field of music with his unique use of the bass as a melodic lead instrument.

It’s this single-minded drive that propels the bassist forward while crafting what he considers his most ambitious and mature CD to date, Way Up, and he hopes to take listeners way up with him. Tisdale is at the top of his musical game on Way Up, which will be released in July 2006 from Rendezvous Entertainment, the label co-founded by saxophone star Dave Koz.

On Way Up, Tisdale continues to display the musical skills that landed his first five albums in the Billboard Top Ten. His latest features 11 songs in which Tisdale showcases how he has developed as an artist during the past dozen years. “I feel like I’ve grown up with this album,” he explains. “The way I matured as a basketball player is the same way I’m evolving as a musician, taking more control of this album and gaining the confidence to do this on my own.” The title for the album arose while Tisdale was discussing possibilities at dinner with Dave Koz, who remarked, “This album is going to be way up,” and right then they knew they had the title.

Way Up boasts collaborations with Dave Koz, Eric Benet, George Duke, Bob James, Kirk Whalum, Jonathan Butler and Jeff Lorber, all a dream come true for Tisdale. “Working with Dave again on ‘My Son’ was a great experience,” says Tisdale. “Being such great friends, it was a high point for me to collaborate with him on this song.” Tisdale is especially excited about his version of “Get Down On It,” which was produced by Darren Rahn, who also produced Tisdale’s last #1 hit “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.” “Sometimes remaking such classics can be a challenge,” he explains, “because people are so familiar with the original. But on ‘Get Down on It’ we came up with a fresh approach and it has people bugging out of their heads.”

Label-mates Jonathan Butler and Kirk Whalum are featured on the soulful “Sunday’s Best.” “You can feel the love on this one! Our spirits are inter-twined as we play together.” The three are touring this year as part of the Rendezvous All Stars. “Tell It Like It TIS” is a track written by and featuring funk legend George Duke. The R&B ballad “Sweet Dreams” features a soaring vocal from the Grammy-nominated Eric Benet. Grammy-winning jazz pianist and composer (“Theme from Taxi”) Bob James joins Tisdale on the playful “Conversation Piece,” a song co-written by Tisdale and Rahn.

WaymanPub-RGB.jpgWayman Tisdale was born in Fort Worth, Texas and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The son of a minister, he still embraces his Bible Belt roots which have shaped his strongly faith-based life. Tisdale first fell in love with his chosen instrument while watching the bass players in his hometown church, led by his father, the late Rev. Louis Tisdale. He recalls, “I thought they were the coolest cats. They got to stand and do their thing in the back. I’d watch their fingering and how they played.” One day, his father bought young Wayman and his two brothers a Mickey Mouse guitar each. Although his brothers quickly turned them into paddles and baseball bats, Wayman immediately began teaching himself how to play. “It’s the greatest gift my dad ever gave me,” he says.

A gifted athlete, Tisdale spent much of his youth on the basketball court when not making music. He played for the University of Oklahoma Sooners from 1983 to 1985 and became the first player to have his jersey, number 23, retired. All three years at Oklahoma, Tisdale was a member of the John Wooden Award All-American Team, and in 1984 he played on the U.S. Olympic team which brought home the gold. In 1986 the Indiana Pacers selected Tisdale as the No. 2 pick in the draft, behind Patrick Ewing. For the next 12 years, Tisdale left his mark on the NBA with the Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns, scoring more than 12,800 points and pulling down more than 5,000 rebounds in a 12-year career.

Before he retired after the 1997 season, Tisdale had already made the transition toward a career in music. In 1995 he released his debut CD, appropriately titled Power Forward, which went to No. 4 on Billboard’s contemporary jazz charts and, like all of his music, crossed over into the R&B charts. His subsequent albums In the Zone, Decisions and Face to Face all landed in Billboard’s Top 10, with 2001’s Face to Face going all the way to No. 1. Hang Time, his debut release on Rendezvous Entertainment, set a record for Tisdale staying in the Top Five longer than any of his previous releases. Tisdale has had two #1 radio hits with “Can’t Hide Love” and Hang Time’s “Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now.”

In addition to his solo career, Tisdale has played on CDs by some of the most popular musicians in contemporary jazz, including David Sanborn, Brian Culbertson, Everette Harp and the jazz supergroup Maximum Grooves. His playing garnered the attention of Jamie Foxx who in a recent issue of Rolling Stone chose Wayman to play bass in his “dream band.” “Wayman can play, brother, and that’s it,” said Foxx. Tisdale also finds time to develop future musical stars through his company, Tisway Productions. In 2002 he was inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame with the Legacy Tribute Award. The NAACP also nominated him as “Outstanding Jazz Artist” for its 2004 Image Awards.

Tisdale currently moves between his homes in Tulsa and Los Angeles with his wife Regina, with whom he has four children. His Tulsa home includes a pond stocked with fish so he can indulge in his passion, fishing, while helping in the garden and horseback riding with his son. Outside of the home, Tisdale regularly takes tae bo with Billy Blanks, calling it his new addiction and the best workout since playing in the NBA.

Yet fishing, tae bo and other hobbies aside, Tisdale says that his first passion is entertainment. “I was born to entertain,” he says. “I just love people and I feel like entertainment goes right in line with my personality. Whether it’s on the stage or playing basketball, it’s just what I’ve been called to do on this earth.”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:01 AM

June 27, 2006

The JDCD expands to 3 hours July 3rd

JDCD_Logo.jpgThe weekly radio show by Jeffrey Daniels called The JDCD which is devoted to contemporary jazz and funk fusion will be expanding to three hours starting July 3, 2006. The new schedule will be as follows:

Monday @ 9pm - 12am CET (3pm - 6pm EDT)
Thursday @ 4pm - 7pm CET (10am - 1pm EDT)
Saturday @ 8pm - 11pm CET (2pm - 5pm EDT)

The JDCD offers unique mixes and the periodic "Focus on... (selected artist)" series. Listening to the JDCD will underscore your activities and enhance your life's experiences. Perhaps, the JDCD will offer a relaxing respite. Whatever your mood, the JDCD will provide the perfect complement.

Tune in here at SmoothVibes Radio Channel.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:37 PM

June 16, 2006

Peter White - Playin' Favorites

PeterWhite3.jpgPeter White Brings His Acoustic Guitar Sounds To Some Retro Pop Classics With The New CD “Playin’ Favorites” For Columbia/Legacy - In Stores June 27, 2006

Over the past 16 years, as Peter White has kept thousands of smooth jazz fans worldwide enthralled by his spirited melodies, soulful grooves and inviting, instantly recognizable acoustic guitar tone, he’s always had a blast finding unique ways to bring his modern sensibilities to cherished pop classics. Thanks to the smooth jazz format’s affinity these days for instrumental cover songs, two of White’s incredible 13 #1 Radio & Records airplay hits have become enduring staples of the format. White recently sparked a rekindling of the retro flame that inspired him to once again start Playin’ Favorites on his latest disc for Columbia/Legacy, in stores on June 27, 2006.

In the spirit of his passion for retro tunes, White mines the deeper romantic and soulful vibes of songs from the past 40 years that millions know from the playing of their first notes. These include hits composed or popularized by Burt Bachrach (“The Look of Love”), Dionne Warwick (“Déjà vu), Van Morrison (“Crazy Love”), Bill Withers (“Lovely Day”), Bobby Hebb (“Sunny”), The Isley Brothers (“For The Love Of You”), Ray Charles (a finger snapping version of “Hit The Road Jack”), The Stylistics (“You Are Everything”) and Hall & Oates (“One On One”). Playin’ Favorites also includes performances from fellow smooth jazz greats Boney James (“Déjà vu”), White’s recent “Jazz Attack” tour-mates Richard Elliot, Rick Braun and Jonathan Butler, and R&B legend Jeffrey Osborne (“You Are Everything”).

White will tour the U.S. this summer with the “Guitars & Saxes” all-star shows where his fans will enjoy a medley of Grover Washington, Jr.’s “Mister Magic” and Playin’ Favorites’ first single, a brassy, sensual lite-funk twist on Jr. Walker’s “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love).” On the recording, White plays the song’s familiar melody on his acoustic guitar in a call and response style with saxman Sam Riney (who last played with White on Reflections). Veteran producer (and longtime White collaborator) Paul Brown’s arrangement of “Mister Magic” includes a crunchy, modern hip-hop groove, sizzling horns, the flute of Dave Camp (an old cohort of White’s from the Al Stewart band) and a special, retro-cool performance by legendary keyboardist Bob James on Fender Rhodes.

PeterWhite_PlayinFavorites.jpgWhite says, “I had the idea to do another collection of these kinds of songs after going through some old tapes and finding these demos along with a dozen or so songs that never made it to that CD. I had honestly forgotten that there were any outtakes from those days. ‘For The Love Of You’ was one of those unused songs that sounded good to me, so I wondered if just maybe there was a whole other album waiting to be made, that could be a follow up to Reflections. Now just as then, the hard part is to keep the flavor of the original songs while fitting it into my style and making it mine. I want my versions to be able to stand on their own.”

“Once I sit down at the keyboard to work on this,” he adds, “coming up with the arrangement is a very natural, instinctive process . On ‘For The Love Of You’, for instance, I wanted to funk up the beat, make the ballad very danceable. Funny thing is, I did the opposite on my version of ‘Who’s That Lady?’, substituting their frantic all-out rock and roll blitzkrieg for a much gentler approach. This idea—to take a well known song and do it in a different way—permeates the music on Playin’ Favorites.”

Just as White started putting together tracks based on the old arrangements on tape, it was time to hit the road for one of Summer 2005’s biggest smooth jazz tours, “Jazz Attack,” with old friends Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler and Richard Elliot. Not missing a beat, the guitarist packed his laptop and a mic and continued working on tracks in his spare time. He quickly took advantage of this great opportunity to include his tourmates on his latest work in progress. “I ambushed Richard backstage at the Carefree Theatre in West Palm Beach, Florida and had him play a verse of ‘You Are Everything’ on my improvised laptop studio,” White says. “He had never played the song before and I tried to reassure him by saying that it was just an experiment, to see what the sax would sound like on this song. I loved his tender, introspective approach. I kept his second run through for the final mix.”

Backstage at the North fork Theatre in Westbury, Long Island, he caught Braun with a flugelhorn in his hand and invited his horn playing friend into his makeshift dressing room studio to play on ‘One on One.’ White was so moved by Braun’s impromptu performance that he kept it for the second verse of the song; they finished the rest of the solo a few days later in Milwaukee. Butler later got in on the act, adding his inimitable vocal excitement to the chorus section of “Lovely Day.”

“After the tour ended, I called Paul Brown to help me finish the album,” White says, “and he came forward with a lot of great suggestions for other songs. He also took some of my rough arrangements and made them sparkle with new beats, cool sounds and musical guests I was very excited to have on board. I love the freshness he brought to Playin’ Favorites, which echoes the wonderful work he did on Reflections twelve years ago.” For more information visit PeterWhite.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:02 PM

June 15, 2006

Ken Navarro Podcast

Smooth Jazz artist Ken Navarro has a new Podcast Series available as a free subscription at iTunes. The first in the series is a "behind the scenes" discussion where Ken talks about the creation and recording of his latest hit CD Love Coloured Soul. As each of the 10 songs from "Love Coloured Soul" plays, Ken and columnist Janet Gilbert discuss how each song was composed and recorded and much more. Future podcasts in the series will include in depth coverage of the making of Ken's upcoming new CD, scheduled for release in January 2007.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:25 PM

June 14, 2006

Mike Stern Makes His Heads Up Debut With The August 15 Release Of Who Let The Cats Out?

MikeStern.jpgPremier jazz guitarist joins forces with a string of stellar musicians

Mike Stern, one of the most recognized and celebrated guitarists of his generation, releases his Heads Up International worldwide debut album, Who Let the Cats Out? (HUCD 3115), on August 15, 2006. On Stern's thirteenth release as a leader, the award winning three-time GRAMMY nominee continues to blur the boundaries between jazz, funk, blues and rock with eleven unique originals.

"This record is a return to more instrumental playing, more blowing," says Stern. "In some ways it's straight ahead, but filtered through my rock and blues influences. I'm still interested in incorporating vocals, so I wanted Richard Bona to sing on my record. I composed the tunes thinking about which musicians would work best for each track. It seemed organic, and I think worked out well."

Who Let the Cats Out? was recorded in January 2006 and features a stunning lineup including bassists Richard Bona (who handles vocals on two tracks), Anthony Jackson, Meshell Ndegeocello, Chris Minh Doky and Victor Wooten, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, saxophonists Bob Franceschini and Bob Malach, drummers Dave Weckl and Kim Thompson, harmonica player Gregoire Maret, and keyboardist/producer Jim Beard.

"I've always wanted to work with Meshell Ndegeocello and Kim Thompson," Stern says. "Meshell is a very special musician and Kim is really a phenomenon. They're both so musical. Of course, playing with great musicians like Roy Hargrove, Jim Beard, Dave Weckl, Gregoire Maret and all the rest of these guys is always amazing."

The album title is a double entendre, according to Stern. "Leni, my wife, loves cats," he explains. "We've got four cats, and you know how cats can get. They're always running around and checking stuff out - they're always playing. The title fits the music, too. When we made this album there was a really playful vibe. I love when musicians have fun with the music, when they play from the heart and when they get room to do what they do best."

MikeStern_Cats.jpgIt isn't surprising that Stern spent time playing with Miles Davis. Like the legendary trumpeter's best work, one never knows what to expect from a new Stern release. Who Let the Cats Out? offers a range of memorable melodies with plenty of dynamic playing by the guitar hero and crew. The album ranges from bluesy, powerful funk ("Tumble Home," "Roll with It") and lots of dynamic interplay ("KT," "Texas") to tightly-packed new jazz ("Good Question," "Leni Goes Shopping") and gentle, heartfelt ballads ("We're with You," "All You Need").

Songs like "Language" are long enough to allow the music to develop, with each musician taking a turn in the conversation, while it's nearly impossible to resist tapping your feet to the beat of the title track. All the while, Stern weaves in and out of the group's sound with ample confidence, always playing within the music and maintaining his instantly recognizable voice on his instrument. The album closes with the gradually rising fury of "Blue Runway."

Born on January 10, 1953, in Boston, MA, Stern got his start as a guitar player with Blood, Sweat & Tears at the age of 22. He then toured with Billy Cobham for a year, and it was at one of the legendary drummer's gigs in New York City that Miles Davis first heard Stern. After moving to New York City, he was recruited by Davis to play a key role in his celebrated comeback band of 1981. From 1983 to 1984, he toured with Jaco Pastorius' Word of Mouth band and in 1985 returned to Davis' lineup for a second tour of duty that lasted close to a year. In the summer of 1986, Stern went out on the road with David Sanborn and later joined an electrified edition of Steps Ahead. Stern made his debut on Atlantic Records in 1986 with Upside Downside. From 1986 through 1988, he was a member of Michael Brecker's quintet and later joined a reunited Brecker Brothers Band, appearing on 1992's Return of the Brecker Brothers.

Stern's acclaimed 1993 release, Standards (And Other Songs), led to him being named Best Jazz Guitarist of the Year by the readers and critics of Guitar Player magazine. He followed that up with 1994's Is What It Is and 1996's Between The Lines, both of which received GRAMMY nominations. In 1997, Stern recorded Give And Take, and won the Orville W. Gibson Award for Best Jazz Guitarist that year. Stern's next release was a six-string summit meeting with colleagues Bill Frisell and John Scofield that was appropriately titled Play. Voices (2001), his first foray into vocal music, earned Stern his third GRAMMY nomination. He released These Times for the ESC label in 2003.

"I've been very fortunate to have played with lots of great musicians like Joe Henderson, Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius, Mike Brecker and Dave Sanborn, just to name a few," says Stern. "It seems to me what they all have in common is that they're wide open to so many different kinds of music, and no matter what they play they put their heart and soul in it."

Regardless of Who Let the Cats Out?, Stern's Heads Up debut is another outstanding album from this innovative, highly accomplished and incredibly versatile guitarist. He is, indeed, as one writer put it, "one of the true guitar greats of his generation."

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:41 PM

June 13, 2006

Educational Jazz - 20th Annual UCLA Jazz/Reggae Festival

Photos and Text by Ricky Richardson

KennyBurrell.jpgThe annual UCLA JazzReggae Festival has become synonymous with the coming summer. This festival is a great outlet to witness the ethnically diverse population of Los Angeles enjoying a marvelous event. The festival is presented by the UCLA Cultural Affairs Commission.

The title of my article is Educational Jazz. I chose this title due to the various artists on the line-up who are professors in the Jazz Studies Department at UCLA.

The festival got under way with the talented UCLA Latin Jazz Ensemble directed by trumpeter Bobby Rodriquez. The group played a fiery hot, high energy set of Latin Jazz on the following tunes “Josefina”, “Descarga de East L.A.”, and concluded their brief set with “Tin Tin Deo”.

Next to perform was legendary guitarist Kenny Burrell. Mr. Burrell is the Founder and Director of the Jazz Studies Program at UCLA, where he is also a professor of music and ethnomusicology. The quintet featured some of L.A.’s best jazz musicians: Tom Rainer-piano, Roberto Miranda-bass, Clayton Cameron-drums and Herman Riley on saxophone. The crowd was thoroughly entertained thru their set of straight-ahead jazz and blues. The quintet performed “Three Fourths of the House” (Blues/Waltz), “Mark One”, “the popular, playful jazz version of “Tell Me How To Get To Sesame Street” and finished their set on a spiritual note on “Come Sunday” and “David Danced” two compositions by Duke Ellington.

Donnie - a socially conscious singer immediately established repoir with the audience. He addressed many issues throughout his pleasant set. “You Will Be Singing The Blues, When You Hear The Daily News”, “People Person” - addressed the need for people to respect each other. “Man vs. Machine” about our reliance of technology. “China Doll” -song about child molestation. “I Can’t Be Sweating You”. “You Better Love Yourself”, and closed out his set with “Our New National Anthem”.

DianneReeves2.jpgDianne Reeves is perhaps the pre-eminent jazz vocalist in the world today. Check out her performance in the movie Good Night & Good Luck with George Clooney. The stage was set up to resemble a small intimate jazz club. Ms Reeves performed another crowd pleasing, captivating set. She held the crowds undivided attention by demonstrating her magnificent vocal range and scatting abilities. The highlight of her set consisted of the following songs: “Sadness To Live In Solitude”, “Social Call”, “One For My Baby; One For the Road”, “I’ll Be There When Morning Comes, “I Just Want To Testify”, and finished with “Better Days”. Ms. Reeves received a well deserved standing ovation at the conclusion of her set.

Trio Beyond - John Scofield-guitar, Larry Goldings-organ, keyboards, and Jack De Johnette-drums dazzled the crowd playing a set of original tunes from an upcoming CD.

Composer, arranger, band leader and UCLA professor Gerald Wilson and his Big Band Orchestra exploded unto the scene with “You Better Believe”, “Milestone”, and “Theme for Monterey”. The orchestra consisted of some of the top name jazz musicians in Los Angeles gathered to play a rousing set of straight-ahead jazz. Mr. Wilson was presented with the 2nd Annual UCLA JazzReggae “For The Love of Music” Award on Saturday, May 27th at a private reception.

Nu-Soul, Neo-Soul duo Floetry performed a splendid, superb set of original material from their latest three CD’s - Flo’Ology, Floetic, & Floacism to the extreme delight of 7,000 people in the audience.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:35 PM

May 23, 2006

Hands On Showcases Bobby Lyle's Many Talents With 12 Timeless Tracks

Versatile Jazz Pianist's Heads Up Debut Set For June 27

BobbyLyle_photo.jpgThroughout his three decade career, pianist/keyboardist Bobby Lyle has developed an international reputation not only for his dazzling piano technique, but also for his versatility and ability to constantly reinvent himself, both as a leader, sideman and even as music director for superstars Bette Midler, Al Jarreau and Anita Baker. With the June 27, 2006, worldwide release of Hands On (HUCD 3113), Lyle adds another significant title to his already impressive discography.

"A contemporary celebration of love, life and rhythm" is how Bobby Lyle describes his Heads Up debut. "Within the twelve songs there are expressions of all of those things. I wanted the overall tone of the record to be funky and upbeat, but with romantic interludes."

Hands On - Lyle's 15th album overall - is a unique blend of contemporary jazz classics and acoustic piano compositions that crosses the boundaries between straight-ahead and contemporary jazz. A brilliant showcase for this gifted songwriter/producer/arranger's unique talents, Hands On features an array of timeless tracks containing an entire world of emotion.

Lyle kicks off with "Passion Drive," one of nine original tracks to spotlight his amazing ability to combine acoustic piano sophistication with addictive beats. The thick and insistent groove on the title track draws from both modern and old-school music. Indeed, Lyle's R&B background is apparent on such tasty cuts as the Maurice White/Al McKay classic "Best of My Love" and Michael McDonald's "Minute By Minute." For longtime Lyle fans, tracks like the bright and bouncy "Fancy Pants," the quietly elegant jazz standard "Poinciana" and the graceful "True Spirit" perfectly summarize the multi-faceted keyboardist's range and influences.

In addition to Lyle, Hands On features special guest Peabo Bryson, who co-wrote and sings on the track, "Lost In Our Love." "Peabo and I are good friends, says Lyle. "I've always admired his work and he's a first class crooner. He's so professional and easy to work with. He always delivers."

Rounding out the project are guitarists Todd Parsnow, John Calderon and Brennen Nase, bassists Martin Walters, Larry Kimpel, Keith Vivens and John Adams, saxophonists Wayne DeLano, Dave Caseras and Joe Vincelli, trumpeter Larry Spencer, trombonist Keith Adkins, drummer Keith Banks, percussionist Jorge Ginorio, and backing vocalists Dailyn Valdez, Melanie Covington and Derrick McCampbell.

Bobby Lyle was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and started studying piano at age six when his family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. He met and jammed with Jimi Hendrix, who was planning on starting a jazz-rock band with Lyle, Willie Weeks on bass and Bill Lordan on drums before his untimely death in 1970. After moving to Los Angeles in 1974, he began a nine-month tour with Sly and the Family Stone, and later a stint with the Ronnie Laws Band. "At one time I was a jazz purist," says Lyle. "The two people who really opened up my mind were Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone. I really admired the work that they were doing."

This led to a meeting with Wayne Henderson of the Jazz Crusaders who took him to Capitol Records for his first solo recording deal in 1977. After three albums, Lyle returned to the touring circuit, hitting the road in 1981 with George Benson. He followed this with extensive tours with Bette Midler, Al Jarreau and Anita Baker (all as musical director).

"After my first record deal at Capital, Anita Baker called me just as her Rapture album was going platinum," says Lyle. "I always enjoyed her music because she brought some jazz elements to her work. I was very fortunate to be a musical director with such wonderful artists in the '80s. I'm always running into people who come up to me and say, 'I saw you with Anita Baker in 1986!'"

A recording deal with Atlantic Records in 1988 spawned six albums in nine years, including The Journey, which became a # 1 jazz album in 1990.

Lyle continued to tour with his own bands as well as with Midler. He received an Emmy nomination for his musical direction on her HBO Special, "Diva Las Vegas," in 1997. Lyle's 2002 album, Joyful, peaked at # 8 on Billboard's contemporary jazz chart and his 2004 release, Straight and Smooth, became the first album in history to appear on Billboard's contemporary jazz and traditional jazz charts simultaneously.

"I'm just a musician who's trying to keep real playing alive," concludes Lyle. "Whatever the genre, I want that sense of live energy. That's what has always made jazz so appealing to me."

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:04 AM

May 21, 2006

Jaared signed by Trippin 'n' Rhythm Records

artist_160_jaared.jpgIn case you have been wondering about the fate of saxophonist Jaared here are some good news. As you recall Jaared has been working with Peter White for several years now and also appeared on the very recommended Marcus Johnson live DVD In Person: Live from 2003 while being on the Three Keys label where he released two albums (Foreward in 2001 and Hangtime in 2002). Now he has been signed with Trippin 'n' Rhythm (home of artists like Paul Hardcastle, Gregg Karukas, Chris Standring, Roger Smith and others) and is working on his new album scheduled for release during the first quarter of 2007. I am so glad that this talented saxophonist has found a new label and can't wait to hear the results.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:13 PM

May 11, 2006

Yellowjackets Celebrate 25th Anniversary

Twenty-Five Features Classic Tunes That Have Made The Jackets Jazz Fusion's Quintessential Group
Free Bonus DVD Includes Electrifying Live Performances, Interviews, And Much More

Yellowjackets1.jpgIn 1981, a small crew of talented musicians led by guitar virtuoso Robben Ford dedicated themselves to pushing the boundaries of jazz with a deceptively intense, distinctive sound that incorporated elements of bebop, funk, R&B and rock. They called themselves the Yellowjackets, and the buzz was instantaneous.

That was 25 years ago, and a few of the names and faces have changed since then. What remains is a powerhouse quartet - including original members Russell Ferrante on keyboards and Jimmy Haslip on bass - that's still fiercely dedicated to that original vision of improvisational jazz that draws from a vast range of musical sources and yet defies categories. That initial buzz is no less intense today than it was a quarter century ago.

Heads Up International celebrates this landmark anniversary with the May 23, 2006, release of Twenty-Five (HUCD 3112), a combination CD/bonus DVD package that captures two electrified live performances by the Yellowjackets during their European tour in the fall of 2005. In addition to the live performances themselves, the DVD portion of the two-disc release offers an array of behind-the-scenes material: interviews with band members (past and present) and session players, and a variety of other background and retrospective footage. The project offers a snapshot of where the Jackets are today, and a look back at where they've been.

"The basic foundation, that initial spark of innovation, is still there," says Haslip. "We're very open minded and are always looking to the horizon to see what's up ahead. We're very dedicated to our craft, and we're constantly trying to progress. That ultimately is a motivating factor in keeping a band like this going. It's a laboratory, in essence, where some great experiments have taken place."

Recorded at The New Morning concert hall in Paris in October 2005, the CD is essentially an eight-song retrospective of some of the band's finest work - as interpreted by the current lineup of Haslip, Ferrante, saxophonist Bob Mintzer and drummer Marcus Baylor. The songs connect to every period of Yellowjackets' evolution - from the uplifting "Revelation" (1986) to the free-spirited "My Old School" (1992) to the intricate rhythms of Marcus Baylor's "Freeday" (2005).

"Our intention was to include some of the earlier tunes, but to play them in the way we play now," says Ferrante. "Paris was one of the strongest shows on that tour. Live performances in general are always very much in the moment, and the results can be hit-or-miss sometimes. Some nights are better than others, but everything came together on this particular night."

Bridging the old with the new has been a smooth process for Baylor, the relative newcomer to the band who joined the lineup in 2000. He's discovered that success with the Jackets is not about rank or tenure, but about being positive, open-minded and willing to grow. "When a new piece is added to the puzzle, the band automatically takes on a new personality without even thinking about it," says Baylor. "But these guys are just so open minded. They just say, 'Hey, let's just play, not necessarily this way or that way, but let's just play and find a way to connect the pieces of the puzzle together.' And when we do play, we are of one mind. Personally, that's what I want people to see, more than just this guy who plays great or that guy who plays great. I just want people to see four guys who work well as a unit and move in the same direction to make positive music for our listeners to enjoy."

The DVD performance, filmed at the Naima Club in Forli, Italy, includes a set list that digs back even further. "Imperial Strut" and "Matinee Idol" are taken from the Jackets' eponymous 1981 debut album, while Ferrante's devotional "Geraldine" and the environmentally conscious Ferrante/Haslip composition "Greenhouse" are representative of the Jackets' late-1980s and early-1990s groove. "Time Squared," a rhythmically complex piece penned by Mintzer and first heard on the 2003 album of the same name, is in part a tribute to the courage and perseverance of New York and its residents in the aftermath of 9/11.

The group considers the free bonus DVD as a way for them to give something back to their loyal fans. The DVD was directed and edited by Tony Zawinul, son of the multi-faceted jazz keyboardist Joe Zawinul. "Tony came to Los Angeles and we talked for hours at various locations, including the studio where we recorded with Robben Ford," says Ferrante. "We went to the house where we all first met. We traveled around to different studios in L.A. where we recorded. He interviewed a number of musicians that we worked with along the way. There are archival videos, mostly from Europe. A lot of the festivals there are televised, so there's documentation of a lot of those performances."

And yet, for as gratifying as milestone anniversaries can be, Yellowjackets continue to look to the future. "I think we could be together for another 25 years," says Mintzer. "It's the kind of band that could thrive for a long time, because of the democratic philosophy, and the level of commitment to what we do. There's a long-standing bond that we share, and I don't think it will ever go away. It's just something that developed over the years of playing together and making music together."

Whether you've been on board since the very early days or you've just discovered the Jackets in recent years, Twenty-Five is a big enough number to accommodate everyone. Experience the sublime magic that comes from a quarter century of innovation and exploration.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 4:29 PM

May 9, 2006

Smooth Jazz Vibes: 10th anniversary

Smooth Jazz Vibes celebrates its 10th anniversary this month! Founded by smooth jazz aficionado Peter Böhi in May 1996, and being one of the very first of its kind, this site has been going strong all these years spreading the word about our favorite kind of music.

In the early years, the site was launched as a one-man enterprise on the budding Internet to pass on news from the smooth jazz scene. At that time one had to write letters to record companies to get catalogs and information, or read publications like Jazziz or Blues & Soul to find out what was new; there was no Amazon.com or any other convenient source of information like the Internet we take for granted these days. Our site filled a void and built a loyal following over the years.

Initially, fellow contributor Dan Margules, who posted his R&J Newsletter on CompuServe joined and made his work available here, and in addition, fellow music journalist Jonathan Widran (who I met through Dan in 1993) became a regular contributor with his Contempo column which is available in its entirety since its inception on this site - unaltered and in its original form. During these years Jonathan has risen to become the premier smooth jazz journalist in the country, writing for publications like Jazziz, Smooth Jazz News and numerous others. I am happy not only to have him on board but also to call him a personal friend.

Maybe not all readers are aware of the fact that this site is operated by a gynecologist in his spare time. To be honest - I often was on the verge of quitting with all other things going on in my personal life, but looking at what had been achieved over the years, each time I decided to pull through and continue. I never made any money from the site, instead I - and all the people currently working for it - dedicate their time and resources to keep the site running and support the music we all love.

Today my thanks go to Beverly Packard from Reading, PA who enthusiastically covers the music scene in Berks county and who is a great interviewer and concert reviewer, supported by husband Michael who is a gifted photographer. Through them I got my connections to the Berks Jazz Festival which is one of the very best in the whole country and a place I always love to come back to, not only for the music, but also for all the great friendship and fun which surrounds this event.

I also am grateful to have people like Brian Soergel, Denis Poole, Danny Desart and Joe Montague contributing to the site, I would not be able to run it without their invaluable input. Thank you my friends!

Last highlight of the site was the addition of our Internet radio channel in March 2006 aptly called SmoothVibes highlighting our favorite music off the beaten path of Broadcast Architecture. Check it out, you will love it!

Today Smooth Jazz Vibes is going strong and is committed like never before to continue and grow in order to bring you the best information and best music from the scene. Thanks for visiting the site, and we all look forward to continue the journey with you into the next decade!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:49 AM

April 26, 2006

Sexy Saxman Marion Meadows Gets Dressed To Chill On Latest Release

New Album Set For International Release May 23, 2006

Since his earliest recordings in the 1990s, saxophonist Marion Meadows has epitomized cool in the contemporary jazz scene. From the sound to the style to the image, every aspect of Meadows' persona suggests a level of smooth sophistication that's unmatched in his class. In keeping with that tradition, Meadows' new CD, Dressed To Chill, is scheduled for worldwide release on Heads Up International on May 23, 2006.

Like Players Club, Meadows' previous release on Heads Up which rode the Billboard and R&R Contemporary Jazz Charts for months, Dressed To Chill continues to showcase the joint songcraft of Meadows and keyboardist/producer Michael Broening. The collaborative team of Meadows and Broening has been making compelling, soul-driven contemporary jazz since Meadows' In Deep in 2002.

"The more music Michael and I write together, the more we realize that we're evolving into a great creative team," says Meadows. "It's one of those things you kind of know right away when you're collaborating with someone. We had a lot of songs that we had written for Players Club that we had planned to put on this new record. But at the last minute, we rewrote most of that material. It was very labor-intensive, but in a good way. We had already raised the bar with the last record, and now it was time to raise it again and take the music to a new level."

The album opens with the steady groove of the title track, which Meadows considers one of his favorites among the dozen tracks on the album. "It turned out to be a little more uptempo than what I'm used to," he says, "but I got pretty excited about it when we were laying it down in the studio, and some of that energy just made its way onto the track."

"Remember Me," the followup track, is a bit more understated, with Meadows establishing a solid melody line on soprano and tenor sax that's deftly augmented by guest guitarist Chuck Loeb.

"Miss Know It All" is a slow and slinky affair that pays tribute to a lady of unmatched sophistication. Vocalist Will Brock, who co-wrote the track with Broening, tells the tale with a smoldering delivery that merges the best elements of soul and R&B.

Midway through the set is a finely crafted cover of R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly." Produced by keyboardist/programmer Chris "Big Dog" Davis, it marks another of Meadows' favorite moments on the album. "It's a beautiful track," he says. "Chris did a great job all the way around. It has a kind of gospel background to it that just sounds fantastic."

Further in, "Scent of a Woman" is an especially sultry track built on a laid back but persistent groove and augmented by a subtle yet unmistakably Spanish flavor provided by acoustic guitarist Thano Sanhas. The closer, "To Love Her," follows a similar groove by juxtaposing Meadows soprano sax and bass clarinet against the atmospheric electric guitar work of Freddie Fox.

"I think when you hear all the tracks as a whole, the title of the album makes perfect sense," says Meadows. "We're taking a very relaxed, very cool approach to the music. We're doing a lot, but in a style that's very subtle and understated."

With the warm days and hot nights not far off, it may be time to put on something cool. Marion Meadows has the perfect ensemble. Get Dressed To Chill.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:54 PM

April 15, 2006

Legends Of Jazz

LegendsOfJazz.jpgLegends of Jazz, the first weekly network jazz series in 40 years begins airing on local PBS stations the week of April 3, 2006. The 13-week season coincides with National Jazz Appreciation Month and will be featuring intimate conversations and original performances by some of the world’s leading musicians. To celebrate the show, Legends of Jazz will be releasing a CD and DVD on April 25, 2006 with highlights from the series. For more information please visit www.legendsofjazz.net.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 3:03 PM

March 1, 2006

SmoothVibes Radio Channel hosted by SwissGroove.ch

As you may have noticed there is some "Now Playing" information available on the main page since the beginning of March. It is the first sign of life of our newest endeavor, our Internet radio channel called SmoothVibes. It is hosted by SwissGroove.ch and the program is supervised by myself. I have some top notch contributors like Harry Melchior (who did the popular show Bossa'n'more at SwissGroove.ch) and Jeffrey Daniels who has been establishing himself with his great show called JDCD featuring the best smooth jazz from the past until today. We benefit from the technical expertise of Patrik Jungo from SwissGroove.ch who helps us to deliver the best possible sound.

Smooth jazz will be the main ingredient but we will add many related styles to the mix like Soul/R&B, Lounge, Chill, Brazil, Latin and more as long as it fits the mood and groove we are striving for. Don't expect only the genre's superstars, instead be ready to discover lots of music you wouldn't have stumbled over otherwise. All of us have large CD collections and many years of experience so we should be able to come up with something better than what Broadcast Architecture decided for you to listen to in the past.

We are constantly looking for bandwidth to stream our channel so if you want to support us and have a server to share please contact us.

If you would like to give some feedback about our radio channel please use our forum.

In order to listen just click on one of the buttons below the "Now Playing" information or visit SwissGroove.ch. Happy listening!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:35 PM

February 27, 2006

New Orleans Jazz In Los Angeles

Photo and Text By Ricky Richardson

Los Angeles - The beautiful, well manicured lawn of the Playboy Mansion was the perfect setting for the annual Playboy Jazz Festival Press Conference. Los Angeles County High School For The Arts Jazz Combo- Daniel Richardson-saxophone, Greg Diaz-trumpet, Michael McTaggart-guitar, Christopher Bowers-keyboards, Garrett Lang-bass and Max Wrightson-drums provided entertainment for the arriving guest.

This year's line-up is as eclectic as ever with a mixture of musical genres to please everyone who will attend the 28th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival, presented in co-operation with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association.

The birth place of jazz will be celebrated at this year?s event. Several well known musicians from the Crescent City - New Orleans will be featured performers to the delight of festival goers. The entourage from New Orleans consists of Branford Marsalis Quartet (from the first family of jazz), Elvis Costello and The Imposters featuring piano and songs of legendary Allen Toussaint with his New Orleans Horn Section - The River in Reverse Tour 2006. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band will play some early traditional/Dixieland jazz. Expect to see impromptu Secondline dancing throughout the Bowl.

The Playboy Jazz Festival will feature a marvelous smorgasbord of world music. Senegalese master musician Baabal Maal featuring Daande Lenol, The Spanish Harlem Orchestra is considered one of the pillars of contemporary Latin music, Latin pianist Eddie Palmieri and His Afro-Caribbean Jazz All-Stars with special guest violinist Regina Carter and saxophonist David Sanchez. The powerful concoction of Latin flavored jazz mix with funk and salsa explains why Ozomatli is making their fourth appearance at the Playboy Jazz Festival within the last 10 years.

Hugh-and-Hiromi.jpgThe jazz purist has a lot to be proud of this year. Singer and pianist Jamie Cullum is an up and coming crooner that will please the crowd. Jazz legend and trailblazer tenor saxophonist Benny Golson Quartet, as well as the Golden Striker Trio - feature three legends that has performed with a who?s who of the jazz world. This trio consists of Ron Carter, Mulgrew Miller and Russell Malone. Los Angeles based Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra with Vibraphonist Stefon Harris will perform a tribute to Milt Jackson. Hiromi is a sensational pianist from Japan guaranteed to mesmerize the audience the same way she has mesmerize the jazz community. The Cos of Good Music featuring a stellar group of musicians such as Dwayne Bruno, Ndugu Chancler, Gerald Clayton, Kevin Eubanks, and Steve Turre. McCoy Tyner Trio with the Lula Washington Dance Theatre, Lesa Terry and the Women's Jazz Orchestra of Los Angeles and Elder Edward Babb and the McCollough Sons of Thunder.

George-Duke.jpgFans of popular contemporary, smooth jazz will be in for a treat this year. The atmosphere at the Bowl will "Feels So Good" with the long awaited debut of trumpet great Chuck Mangione who will captivate the crowd with his boundless energy and the pure joy that one feels while listening to his live performance as well as his recordings on previous CDs. Renowned bassist Stanley Clarke/George Duke Project will liven up the afternoon with a funk driven set. "Groovin For Grover" is a celebration of the music of Grover Washington Jr. featuring Gerald Albright, Jeff Lorber and Kirk Whalum. This show will benefit The Grover Washington Jr. Protect The Dream Foundation.

Finally, the 28th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival organizers believe in encouraging and supporting up and coming jazz musicians. The future of jazz will be represented with the dynamic sounds of Elder Djangirov, trumpeter Christian Scott (From New Orleans), and the always entertaining Los Angeles County High School For the Arts Jazz Ensemble directed by Jason Goldman.

Everyone is happy that Mr. Bill Cosby has returned to be the Master of Ceremonies.

George Wein serves as the Producer of the Playboy Jazz Festival for the 28th consecutive year. Darlene Chan is Associate Producer for both the Playboy Jazz Festival and Festival Productions, Inc. Hugh Hefner is Executive Producer and Richard Rosenzweig is President of the Playboy Jazz Festival. Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) is once again the official sponsor of the 28th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival. This is the organization?s fourth year sponsoring the festival.

Tickets for the Playboy Jazz Festival is available by mail order. You can call (310)450-1173 to request a mail order form or visit www.playboy.com/jazzfest.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:31 AM

February 22, 2006

Pieces Of A Dream Celebrates Three Decades Of Funky Jazz

Pillow Talk set for release on March 28, 2006

3105.jpgThirty Years ago, it was nothing more than a creative lark for two young kids from Philadelphia. Keyboardist James Lloyd was 11 and drummer Curtis Harmon was 13. All they wanted to do was make good music. They took the name Pieces of a Dream from the title of a 1974 Stanley Turrentine album, and the rest, as they say ...

Some of the names and faces have changed over the years, but Lloyd and Harmon are still at the core of this powerhouse contemporary jazz combo, and the commitment to music that is not just good but great has never wavered in the three intervening decades. Pieces of a Dream celebrates this landmark anniversary with the worldwide release of Pillow Talk on Heads Up International March 28, 2006. The new album finds Lloyd, Harmon and company just as passionate about their craft in this new century as those two Philly youngsters back in the day.

"This is another great chapter in a great story," says Lloyd. "It's a privilege to still be doing it after so many years. Making your way in the music business can be a perilous undertaking, especially these days, but the fact that Pieces has been together as long as it has says something about who we are - as musicians and as people - and the kind of music that we make."

Pillow Talk is a perfect example of how Pieces has successfully navigated the years. Filled with catchy riffs, infectious grooves and compelling vocal work, it's the kind of record that speaks to the moment yet still holds up well over time.

Pieces_photo.jpg"House Arrest," the punchy opening track, is one of the clearest statements in the entire set. Co-authored by Harmon and Bennie Simms, the track is Harmon's way of keep the longstanding Pieces groove alive for a new generation of listeners. "That's an instrumental song with more of a house beat," says Harmon. "Part of what wanted to accomplish with the songs that I contributed was to bring a fresh new sound to Pieces. I wanted to make some danceable instrumental music."

Further in, guest vocalist Ramona Dunlap steps up to the microphone with the defiant and no-nonsense "Triflin'," and later on the impassioned devotional "Those Three Words" and the sultry "Your Love." Dunlap's rich vocal presence has been a part of the Pieces stage show in the past, and she was first introduced to worldwide audiences on the Pieces of a Dream Acquainted With The Night album. "Ramona is very professional, very much to the point with her craft" says Harmon. "It took no more than one ore two takes to get what we needed from her. She was very clear about what she was doing."

Also worth noting is the lively "Wake Up Call," with piano work from Lloyd that is both punchy and melodic at the same time. "Attitude" sets Lloyd's complex piano lines and Tony Watson Jr.'s full-bodied sax riffs against a vaguely hip-hop backbeat. The album closes with the shimmering title track, a laid back number with a persistent backbeat - a seemingly incongruous yet ultimately satisfying combination that showcases Lloyd's prowess on piano, keyboard and programming

Pillow Talk is another satisfying set from a band that has built a thirty-year reputation on finely crafted recordings. After three decades, what's the glue that holds it all together? "I think the high level of musicianship is what has made Pieces what it is over the years," says Harmon. " James is a very talented and gifted musician, and our styles and sensibilities blend well. After thirty years of working together and playing together, there's a collaborative aspect to what we do that's hard to explain. It just happens."

"We're more than just bandmates," says Lloyd. "We're family. We've been through good times and bad, and that just makes the music deeper and better. This album is just another example of what happens when two brothers who've grown up on the same creative track get together and bring out the best in each other."

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:19 PM

January 18, 2006

“Runaway” with jazzman Bradley Leighton Back to the Funk

Third album from the critically-acclaimed alto flutist hits record stores

One of the coolest things to come out of the 1970’s was groove-heavy jazz-funk. Alto flutist Bradley Leighton fondly recalls the halcyon days of bellbottoms, platform shoes, fur coats, big hats and lots of gold jewelry on Back to the Funk, which was released yesterday by Pacific Coast Jazz. Leighton’s third album features booty-bumping funk, seductive R&B, chill jazz nuances, and lilting pop hooks produced by Allan Phillips. Presently collecting adds at radio is “Runaway,” a driving feel-good joint boasting a full horn section and a fiery exchange between Leighton’s scorching alto flute and a sweaty, bellowing sax.

Having previously released two critically-acclaimed albums that delved into straight-ahead jazz with occasional splashes of Latin rhythms or R&B grooves, Leighton wanted to fully indulge his love of jazz-funk. He co-penned five tracks for Back to the Funk that reveal some of his musical influences: the Brecker Brothers, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Tower of Power. Leighton also set out to prove that in the contemporary jazz world dominated by guitars and saxes, the flute can also be soulful and funky. Real guitar, piano, bass, drums, sax, trumpet and trombone give the production an organic sound. Leighton’s alto flute gracefully leaps above the muscular horn arrangements and rhythmic R&B base to deliver eloquent jazz-pop statements. In addition to the original material, the artist covers three classics: Stevie Wonder’s “Love Light In Flight,” Ray, Goodman & Brown’s “Special Lady” and Bread’s “Make It With You.”

Although the album was just released, the critics are already taking notice. L.A. Jazz Scene wrote, “Mesmerizing backbeats, programmed drum rhythms, wah-wah synthesizers and flowing horn melodies weave with the leader's deep-throated alto flute for a significantly vibrant effect. Leighton's horn section works well with him in a spot-on performance that features expertly synchronized melodic lines…These songs carry powerful memories, and Leighton's soulful flute brings them around clearly…it succeeds in reminding us that music remains the lifeblood of what inspires us every day.” Smoothjazz.com enthused, “The album’s a knockout, and should do extremely well for the talented artist. This Seattle native, in San Diego since 2001, once again shows us why jazz flute is one of the most sensual instruments around…Bradley Leighton’s Back to the Funk is loaded with inventive, inspired playing…”

During the month of February, “Runaway” will be heard in select movie theatre chains across the U.S., including United Artists, Regal, Edwards and Hoyt. Plans are underway for Leighton to mark the album release with intimate club performances with his band in Renton, Washington and in San Diego, California. Last week, he participated at the International Association of Jazz Education conference in New York City.

Leighton debuted in 2003 with a collection of jazz standards on the Groove Yard CD. Last year’s Just Doin’ Our Thang straddles the line between traditional and contemporary jazz. It consists of fresh interpretations of standards along with four original compositions that find Leighton backed by a Hammond B3 organ trio. The album has been hailed by such respected outlets as JazzTimes, Audiophile, All About Jazz, All Music Guide, and the San Diego Reader and was nominated for “Best Jazz Album of the Year” by the San Diego Music Awards.

Pacific Coast Jazz is distributed in the U.S. by Big Daddy Music and in the United Kingdom by The Woods. Additional information about Leighton can be found at www.fluteguy.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:47 PM

December 8, 2005

Pianist Bobby Lyle Signs Deal With Heads Up International

Debuts with May 2006 Release

Bobby_Lyle_3x3.jpgHeads Up International, one of the world’s premier crossover jazz labels, today announced the signing of an exclusive deal with pianist Bobby Lyle, whose debut recording will be released on May 23, 2006. Throughout his three decade career, this gifted songwriter/producer/ arranger has developed an international reputation not only for his dazzling piano technique, but also for his versatility and ability to constantly reinvent himself.

“We’re very pleased to start a relationship with Bobby,” says Dave Love, President of Heads Up International. “Bobby is such an incredible pianist, and he plays with ease across a wide range of jazz. He’s also a great composer and arranger who has much to offer.”

“I’m very happy to be on a label that has such a diversity of styles throughout its roster,” Lyle says. “Also, Heads Up has a president who’s accessible and interactive with the artists. Dave Love has a really progressive vision of how this music should be marketed.”

Bobby Lyle was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and started studying piano at age six when his family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. After moving to Los Angeles in 1974, he began a nine-month tour with Sly and the Family Stone, and later a stint with the Ronnie Laws Band. This led to a meeting with Wayne Henderson of the Jazz Crusaders who took him to Capitol Records for his first solo recording deal in 1977. After three albums, Lyle returned to the touring circuit, hitting the road in 1981 with George Benson. He followed this with extensive tours with Bette Midler, Al Jarreau and Anita Baker (all as musical director). A recording deal with Atlantic Records in 1988 spawned six albums in nine years, including The Journey, which became a #1 jazz album in 1990.

Lyle continued to tour with his own bands as well as with Midler. He received an Emmy nomination for his musical direction on her HBO Special, “Diva Las Vegas,” in 1997. Lyle’s 2002 album, Joyful, peaked at #8 on Billboard’s contemporary jazz chart and his 2004 release, Straight and Smooth, became the first album in history to appear on Billboard’s contemporary jazz and traditional jazz charts simultaneously.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:25 AM

November 5, 2005

A Valentine’s Day treat from Victor Fields could be paradise for music lovers

The soul-jazz crooner’s diverse Victor album will be prefaced by “This Could Be Paradise” & “Golden Lady”

Victor Fields is in love again and that’s great news for music fans. The Bay Area-based soul-jazz song stylist will release his third album, Victor, on Valentine’s Day. The diverse Regina Records collection of soulful R&B, adult pop, cool contemporary jazz and romantic jazz standards was produced by Chris Camozzi, who also serves as Fields’ music director. Two tracks – Chuck Loeb’s “This Could Be Paradise” and Stevie Wonder’s “Golden Lady” - will be serviced to radio after the holiday season; the label will go for adds on the tracks at smooth jazz radio on January 16th.

Fields’ voice is suave and sophisticated, elegant and inviting, and he carefully selected the ten songs that comprise the new album. Actually he fell in love with them, but if you ask him, he’ll tell you that the songs selected him. This is Fields’ second consecutive album produced by Camozzi. The duo collaborated on the critically acclaimed 52nd Street, which hit the Billboard chart and featured appearances by Chris Botti, Jeff Lorber and Gerald Albright. For Victor, Fields found himself swooning over a diverse collection of songs that tap into an array of emotions and moods, such as ebullience (“This Could Be Paradise”), hope (“Love Will Save the Day”), amorous (Diane Warren’s “Show Me the Way Back to Your Heart”), pain and loneliness (Vince Gill’s “Colder Than Winter”), yearning (“Something Tells Me”) and victorious (“It’s Never Too Late in Life”). Fields put fresh spins on dramatic classics by Cole Porter (“Night and Day”) and Billy Strayhorn (“Lush Life”), which are certain to please traditional jazz connoisseurs. The songs are what is most important to Fields and he enjoys exercising the freedom to choose material from virtually any genre of popular music, although the common thread is love. Camozzi’s production is lush yet unobtrusive, allowing Fields’ passionate tenor vocals to shine front and center, and the musicianship on the record is accomplished. It was important to both artist and producer to keep the production sounding “live.”

VictorFields.jpg“There’s something for everyone on my albums,” explained Fields. “The music I record caters to audiences that are multi-racial, multi-cultural and trans-generational. Each song was important and Chris (Camozzi) and I spent as much time as was necessary on song selection, the arrangements and casting the right musicians even before we went into the studio (to record). In recent years, there have been some big artists who are reinventing themselves by recording standards and covers, but I’ve been doing it for years with a soulful and contemporary approach. My intention is to put my own stamp on fresh interpretations of classic songs for audiences that may be hearing them for the first time.”

Although his mother was a Julliard-trained musician, she urged her son to be practical about his career choice, which is why he initially shelved his dream of becoming a singer in favor of becoming a businessman. She passed without ever pursuing her own musical aspirations and that inspired Fields to commit to his undeniable first love. He penned personal and revealing songs for his debut album, Promise, which was produced by Grammy-winner Kashif. Both Promise and 52nd Street have garnered positive reviews in publications such as USA Today, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.

Above all, Fields loves being on stage singing for appreciative audiences. Plans are being made to support the album release with an East Coast concert tour in the spring. Dates and cities will be announced.

Victor FieldsVictor album contains the following songs:

“This Could Be Paradise”
“Love Will Save the Day”
“Show Me the Way Back to Your Heart”
“Colder Than Winter”
“Golden Lady”
“Night and Day”
“Lush Life”
“We’ll All Be Free”
“Something Tells Me”
“It’s Never Too Late in Life”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:40 PM

October 11, 2005

Ride a soulful groove Back To The Funk with Bradley Leighton on January 17

“Runaway” with the third album from the critically-praised jazzman

BradleyLeighton.jpgEmerging as the Pied Piper of jazz-funk, alto flutist Bradley Leighton’s third album, Back To The Funk, will be released by the Pacific Coast Jazz record label on January 17th. Leighton co-wrote five songs for the collection of R&B, funk, jazz and pop jams, which were produced and arranged by Allan Phillips. Heading to radio first will be “Runaway,” a vintage blast from the past with a modern twist that takes flight with an aggressive rhythmic groove, a cinematic chorus, and fierce alto flute and sweltering sax soloing. The radio add date for the smooth jazz format will be January 9th.

After releasing two critically acclaimed albums that veered from traditional and Latin jazz to a flirtation with R&B, Leighton decided to fully explore his passion for jazz-funk. His early influences - the Brecker Brothers, Earth, Wind & Fire and Tower Of Power – are apparent on Back To The Funk’s robust horn arrangements that ricochet off of slamming funk beats while his alto flute angelically rises above the gritty grooves on tracks like “Runaway,” “Clear Blue Skies” and the title cut. Leighton chills on sensual mid-tempo trysts such as “Midnight Affairs” and “Soul Moon.” Strolling back in time, Leighton dusted off three gems to revisit: Stevie Wonder’s “Love Light In Flight,” Ray, Goodman & Brown’s “Special Lady” and Bread’s soulful “Make It With You,” which were deep fried in a vat of funk. Real guitar, bass, drums, and plenty of sax, trumpet and trombone help give the record an authentic, warm feel.

“With today’s contemporary jazz scene dominated by guitars and saxes, this (album) was sort of a proof of concept project in that I wanted to integrate the flute into the (contemporary jazz) format and make it funky. One of the key elements was to play the seldom used alto flute, which sounds larger, richer and mellower in tone,” explained the Seattle native who presently resides in the San Diego area. “Simple, catchy melodies, hip urban grooves, and a full horn section resulted in an album that will hopefully prove pleasing to fans and open the minds of those who have been resistant to music that features the flute.”

To help whet the public’s thirst for the new album, those traveling on United Airlines in November and December can preview a couple tracks from Back To The Funk as part of the in-flight music programming. Meanwhile, Leighton won the opportunity to perform live with his band at the Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival in Montego Bay, Jamaica at the end of January.

Leighton debuted in 2003 with Groove Yard, a beautiful collection of jazz standards. Released earlier this year, Doin’ Our Own Thang is comprised of inventive arrangements of standards and four original compositions in a traditional jazz setting that finds Leighton backed by a Hammond B3 organ trio. The album has received critical praise from such respected outlets as JazzTimes, Audiophile, All About Jazz, All Music Guide, L.A. Jazz Scene, and the San Diego Reader, and it was recently nominated for “Best Jazz Album of the Year” by the San Diego Music Awards.

Pacific Coast Jazz is distributed in the U.S. by Big Daddy Music and in the United Kingdom by The Woods.

Back To The Funk contains the following tracks:

“Runaway”
“Flow”
“Back To The Funk”
“Midnight Affairs”
“Clear Blue Skies”
“Sunday In San Diego”
“Make It With You”
“Ready For You”
“Soul Moon”
“Love Light In Flight”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:27 PM

Herbie Hancock’s Possibilities

HerbieHancock.jpgPossibilities is an apt name for Herbie Hancock ’s latest project, a wide-ranging collection of studio collaborations between the jazz legend and a multigenerational lineup of artists, from household names like John Mayer, Sting, Annie Lennox, Christina Aguilera, Paul Simon, Carlos Santana and Trey Anastasio, to serious up-and-comers like Damien Rice, Joss Stone and Raul Midón . For Hancock, whose four-decades-plus career has been a model of fearless boundary stretching, this yearlong effort was an opportunity to interact, improvise, freely experiment and simply jam with a few famous old friends and many new artistic acquaintances. It wasn’t conceived as a string of high-tech hookups, with performers phoning in their contributions from separate ivory towers. Making the album was about old-school, anything-goes, face-to-face sessions—real time, real music, real emotions, real thrills.

“I was trying to make something truly collaborative,” Hancock emphasizes. “ Possibilities is not just the result of interacting with the artists on a musical level, but on a life level. For example, during the Annie Lennox sessions, we talked for a couple of hours before we even played a note. We talked about everything from politics to humanism to religion, all sorts of things. And saw eye to eye on very much of it, especially on social issues. This was the kind of thing I wanted to air out so that when we finally sat down to make music there was a common ground on which we as people felt connected.”

Unlike Hancock’s 1998 GRAMMY® Award-winning Gershwin’s World, in which he was joined by vocalist friends Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder on interpretations of the George Gershwin repertoire, or the 1996 The New Standard, in which Hancock re-imagined contemporary rock material, Possibilities was a more open-ended undertaking. Hancock didn’t have in mind a specific composer whose work he wanted to explore or an overall concept he hoped to realize when he enlisted his many guest stars. He just had the desire for each of them to join him in leaving behind familiar territory, abandoning preconceptions and making a creative leap of faith.

“My taste is pretty broad, and my interest in exploration is pretty broad, too,” Hancock explains. “There are areas that I don’t know a lot about, but that I’m curious about. I decided to ask some artists who I think are quality artists in their area and see if they were interested in doing a project with me. I said, ‘Let’s make a wish list of artists and see what happens.’ My feeling was, if there was some interest, they would have something of their own to bring to the table and I would have my experience to bring to the table. My foundation is in jazz, which is probably the strongest background you can have if you want to expand and interact with other genres. Playing jazz gives you a lot of tools to play with.”

Sting, for example, suggested redoing “Sister Moon,” from his Nothing Like the Sun album. Hancock knew that a few other cover versions already existed, so he suggested enlisting a young African guitar prodigy, Lionel Loueke, as the arranger in an effort to take the song in a new direction. A Benin native Hancock has been mentoring, Loueke is part of the new lineup of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters '05, which also includes John Mayer, Roy Hargrove, and Marcus Miller. As Hancock recalls, “ I knew Lionel has a great talent for arranging and I wondered if he could do something that would have an African spice to it but would not be so foreign to American taste that it would jar the audience that’s attracted to Sting’s music. Lionel knew exactly what I was talking about. He brought a real fresh sound to the guitar. And Sting, I never heard him sing like that before. His delivery was out of the park, a home run.”

On the other hand, John Mayer arrived at his studio session eager to create something new on the spot: “He had an idea when he came into the studio — some fragment or phrase — and we immediately started jumping on that, moving it around and developing it. We came up with a track and he did a kind of scratch vocal. He didn’t have any lyrics at first, so we really collaborated and put that song together. What he came up with could be a very strong single.”

At the end of the session with Mayer, Hancock not only had an ingratiating track, “Stitched Up,” but he’d found a new friend. Observes Hancock, “He’s a strong rhythm guitar player and a wonderful singer, a great voice. He’s really smart and very self-assured yet humble at the same time. But he has strong convictions about things, which is rare at that age.”

Mayer wasn’t the only young artist to impress Hancock, who was in for another surprise when he arrived to play acoustic piano on top of a rhythm track he’d already cut for Christina Aguilera’s rendition of Leon Russell’s “A Song For You.” When Aguilera stepped up to the mic, Hancock recalls, “She did about six takes of the song, and each one sounded like a final take. They were fantastic. I was floored. I knew she could sing, but I didn’t know she could sing like that. Wow. She said, ‘I’m just trying different things,’ and I said, ‘That doesn’t sound like a try, that sounds like a done.’ Her intonation was incredible.”

Hancock is understandably enthusiastic about all of the collaborations on the album. He quickly put together a session with Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice and his vocal foil, Lisa Hannigan, when Rice came to L.A. in May, 2004 for a pair of dates at the Troubadour. In between gigs, they managed to cut a devastatingly melancholy take on Billie Holiday’s “Don’t Explain.” (Rice got on so well with Hancock that he invited him to sit in at the Troubadour the night after the recording.) Hancock and Trey Anastasio, the former Phish guitarist, completely improvised a four-movement instrumental suite. He and Paul Simon recast Simon’s tender “I Do It For You Love,” from Still Crazy After All These Years, in a sensual, understated arrangement for piano, guitar and gentle percussion, lending it an almost bossa nova feel. It turned out, Hancock says, to be “one of the most jazz-like arrangements on the record.”

An updating of U2’s “When Love Comes To Town,” originally recorded as a duet between Bono and B.B. King, features blues guitarist Jonny Lang, young R&B powerhouse Joss Stone and Hancock himself in an arrangement that is “a bit of country, a bit of rock, then I come in and pretty much play a jazz solo on top of it.” Raul Midón, the soulful, young New York City singer-songwriter who has drawn more than a few Stevie Wonder comparisons, fronts a version of “I Just Called To Say I Love You” that Hancock and producer-keyboardist Greg Phillinganes originally created for Wonder’s appearance at the Kennedy Center Honors. Wonder plays harmonica on the track, which Hancock and Phillanganes cut in L.A.

And, as the hip swiveling rhythms of Carlos Santana/Angelique Kidjo track “Safiatou” unequivocally prove, that session was nothing less than sizzling: “When Carlos got there, he grabbed the ball and made everything happen. He gave me 200 percent, 500 percent, and then Angelique, this ball of fire, came in and completely delivered. It was just wonderful being in that environment.”

It’s a testimony to the far-reaching effects of Hancock’s talents that he has been named the first official Artist in Residence at the 2005 Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee this summer. His legacy in jazz would be enough. He has been an extraordinary accomplished solo recording artist, a member of Miles Davis’s most revered quintet, part of V.S.O.P., and a score composer for such prestigious films as Blow Up and 'Round Midnight, for which he won an Academy Award®.

But he has also been a major influence on hip-hop’s best deejays, thanks to his groundbreaking collaboration with Grandmaster D.S.T. on the 1983 platinum-selling Future Shock disc, which featured the GRAMMY®-winning “Rockit.” (The hugely popular single also inspired an MTV Video Award-winning clip by directors Kevin Godley and Lol Crème.) Sample-hungry deejays and mixers have relentlessly scoured his sixties-era solo albums for inspiration: Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island” was the basis for US3’s 1993 hit “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia),” and Hancock’s score for Blow Up served as the foundation for Deee-Lite’s worldwide hit “Groove Is in the Heart.” Hancock’s own forays into funk, as well as his remarkable legacy in acoustic and electric jazz, have now attracted fans crossing over from the jam-band world.

It’s not surprising, then, that when Hancock put together a wish list for potential collaborators, all his wishes would come true. Hancock and friends have found musical connections and personal bonds, created new songs and revitalized familiar ones. Most of all, they considered the possibilities.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 3:36 PM

September 6, 2005

New Age Mavericks And Longtime Friends David Lanz And Gary Stroutsos Go ‘Back To The Beautiful’ And Discover A True Spirit Romance

By Jonathan Widran

LanzStroutsos.jpgAlthough they will forever be in the hearts of instrumental music fans worldwide as mavericks of classic new age music, David Lanz and Gary Stroutsos tapped joyfully into the jazz-based spirit of improvisation in creating their long awaited dual masterwork Spirit Romance. Elegant in its melodic and rhythmic simplicity, spacious and soothing in its ambience and deeply resonant on both an emotional and spiritual level, the project is more than simply the merger of two legendary artists and composers from the Pacific Northwest at the top of their game.

By design, the Zen like title Spirit Romance leaves the interpretation of the individual musical pieces - beginning with the wistful opening track “Serenada,” a reinterpretation of “Evening Serenade,” which Lanz and Stroutsos performed on 1997’s New Native collection I Am Walking - up to the listener’s soul imagination. The creative process behind the album, however, tells a distinct tale of enduring friendship and, more specifically, what happens when two old pals gather in a 105 year old house constructed largely of old growth timber far north of Seattle with just a few ideas in their pockets and an agreement to let their muses run free.

On Good Friday, 2005, Lanz sat at the grand piano in the front (living) room of the home he and his wife Alicia had recently moved into, admiring the concave ceiling corners and wooden columns that were helping to create a perfect acoustic environment. He, Stroutsos and album producer Gary Lanz — who had contributed musical and engineering expertise in various ways to numerous of his older brother’s projects over the years — called this the “parlor concert hall.” Stroutsos, holding an exotic Chinese bamboo flute called the Xiao and ready to roll at a moment’s notice, settled in the middle (dining) room just beyond the French doors with Gary Lanz and some recording equipment. Then they turned on the tape recorder and went to work.

LanzStroutosSpiritRomance.jpg“The makeshift home studio vibe worked very well for us,” says David Lanz. “My brother closed the doors between the rooms but installed a temporary window to maintain visual contact. The two Garys had worked together on many projects in the past, so it was really like a comfortable group of friends getting together with no preconceived notions as to where we were going to go musically. Gary Stroutsos had actually been on my case to do a full dual album since the late 90s, and I told him I could always see us doing it. Finally free from other contractual obligations, it was exciting to realize that we were finally at this point.

“Months earlier in Seattle,” he adds, “we had forsaken one of our usual lunch engagements and instead got together spur of the moment to create a few improvisational pieces, probably knowing we’d be doing an album sooner than later. We began the Easter weekend sessions with these tapes, going at it like real jazz guys, starting simply and then building improvised arrangements. The first piece we emerged with was the album’s second tune, ‘Satori,’ which was the darkest piece on the album, but we loved the vibe. From there, it was a total leap of faith for both of us.”

Lanz and Stroutsos used those earlier tapes as a template to convince Narada Records — a top new age label in the 80s and 90s, which in recent years expanded to world music and smooth jazz - that the time was right to contract a project like Spirit Romance. The label’s go-ahead had the sweet scent of a family reunion about it. From 1983, when he released his groundbreaking solo piano album Heartsounds, through 1999, the pianist was one of Narada’s top artists, recording nine solo albums, releasing numerous “best of” collections and three genre classics with electric guitarist Paul Speer. The biggest of these was 1988’s Cristofori’s Dream, which was Number One on Billboard’s first adult alternative/new age chart for 27 weeks and eventually became a platinum selling recording.

In the intervening years, Lanz had been with Decca Records and moved into a genre he called — tongue firmly planted in cheek — “smooth age.” While he achieved great success working with top smooth jazz stars like Dave Koz, Gregg Karukas and Peter White on Finding Paradise and The Good Life, his fans no doubt wondered when he would — to borrow a title from one of his solo piano albums — Return To The Heart.

Not that he and Lanz had ever really lost touch, but Gary Stroutsos was the one who had really pressed Lanz on the idea of a collaborative recording over the years. In his own career, the flutist had combined a rich jazz background with dynamic explorations of Afro-Cuban and American Indian Music and became a noted self-taught ethnomusicologist and American Indian Flute Historian. He has been featured throughout the world on the NPR syndicated programs Echoes with John Diliberto and Skitch Henderson's New York Evening At The Pops as well as on Ken Burns' PBS documentary, Lewis and Clark: The Journey Of The Corps Of Discovery, which led to a command performance at the White House in 1997. Stroutsos was also well known to Narada, having released Hidden World with “space music” keyboardist Jonn Serrie (who appears on Spirit Romance), working on the music of I Am Walking with Lanz and producing the Latin collection Cuba L.A. (a project Lanz calls “bringing the Cubans to Milwaukee”). Lanz also produced Stroutsos’ 2001 solo recording Pacific Moon.

DavidLanz_Spirit.jpg“David is a dear friend and I’ve always looked up to him as a human being and as a musician,” says Stroutsos. “He has created a tradition all his own by finding a certain spirituality in his music, and his instincts have always led him to good creative places. I always thought his piano would be a good match for my musical ‘tone poems,’ and, even though he was doing smooth jazz the last few years, I had long envisioned getting together with him and trying to bring out of him the sound that established him as a legend so long ago.

“His old house gave Spirit Romance a sense of timelessness, and there was a natural rhythm that happened as we played, as if we were moving through space in a different kind of way,” he adds. “There was a sense that we were defining our own space, and a chemistry developed between us and his brother Gary that is hard to put our finger on. David’s bright but moody style of piano playing fused with my heavier melodic lines created something special. He’s a great songwriter who was able to let go of his restraints and experience the freedom that comes from improvising. He arranged chords, modes, and movements around simple melodic concepts. We liked to see it as two veteran musicians making spontaneous music reflecting the experience of living in the Northwest.”

“If you’re doing art,” Lanz concurs, “you may not be conscious of it, but you’re reflecting life around you.” On that note, the driving inspiration for the title track of Spirit Romance came from a dream Stroutsos had the night before their Easter morning session. He dreamed of his longtime friend, a Navajo Indian named Pauline, who had recently died suddenly, not long after Stroutsos had visited her and her husband Paul in Albuquerque. Over and over in the dream, he heard this ancient flute melody from a Zuni Pueblo song Paul had taught him, and this became the foundation of the song.

The five part suite “Return to Altair” also has a unique jumping off point, one that will be of interest to fans of Lanz’s Cristofori’s Dream album; it was Gary Lanz’s idea to reinterpret “Wings To Altair” and bring in Serrie, who played on the original track. The first three movements of this suite that closes the album are centered around this musical theme.

DavidLanzSpirit_Band.jpgAdding harmonic and rhythmic dimension to the emotional centerpiece of piano and flute are two longtime friends of theirs, world-renowned hand master drummer Glen Velez (well known for his recordings and world tours with Paul Winter) and acoustic bassist Keith Lowe (Bill Frizell, Fiona Apple). Together with Lanz and Stroutsos, they create the Quartet Moon Ensemble, a group that, Stroutsos insists, will hit the road next year. This fall, Lanz and Stroutsos are scheduled to debut the material of Spirit Romance with a slate of local performances. Lummi Indian solo violinist Swil Kanim adds a beautiful texture to the title track as well.

“Making this album has given me a new shot in the arm, a certain confidence that artists can still find a way to create projects that are meaningful to them,” says Stroutsos. “I’ve spent a lifetime trying to carry the legacy of world flute music to a wider audience, and I hope that this recording will inspire people to want to know more about the Xiao, its unique intervals and leaps, and why I used it. It’s also time to bring artists like us back to the stage, where we can communicate with the audiences even more intimately.”

Lanz adds, “The greatest part of making Spirit Romance was working with both Garys in a way I never had the opportunity to do before. As my brother said, I’m going ‘back to the beautiful,’ returning to the impressionistic side of my artistry that I’d been away from on record for so long. It’s nice to strip things down and create music that’s so direct, emotional and honest, and I thank Gary Stroutsos for keeping on me to finally do it. I think there’s still an incredible need in the world for music that has emotional and healing power, and for me, Spirit Romance has a strong sense of coming full circle. It couldn’t have turned out any better for either of us.”

Posted by Jonathan Widran at 7:56 PM

September 1, 2005

Help Hurricane Katrina victims at CDBaby.com

Over 5000 amazing musicians have chosen to donate ALL money from the sale of their CD *directly* to the Red Cross disaster relief fund.

You can hear and buy their CDs, here: http://cdbaby.com/group/redcross

If you've been seeing the images of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and have thought about donating to help those in need, please consider buying some albums from that page.

You're free to listen to up to half of every album in instant-streaming MP3, so I hope you use this as an excuse to discover some great new music while knowing your money is going to a good cause.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 11:00 PM

August 20, 2005

Modern Times call for modern measures for guitarist Marc Antoine

Single receives the remix treatment while the artist works the road extensively

With today’s release of the Modern Times album, guitarist Marc Antoine is prepared to take modern jazz to the next level.  “There comes a time in the life of an artist when you feel in a certain space and you just have to do it.  No thinking, just do it.  This is that time for me,” said the Rendezvous Entertainment recording artist about his seventh solo album, which he produced with dance music producer-club DJ David Ferraro in his home studio in Madrid, Spain.  Although Antoine has created a distinctive musical identity that has earned him four number one singles, he’s boldly taking his music in progressive new directions on this new collection.

If the advancement of an art form is based upon abolishing creative boundaries and blending the best elements of technology, culture, and philosophy, Modern Times will be viewed as a defining recording in the evolution of contemporary jazz.  Clubby dance grooves, funky hip hop beats, and pulsating electronic rhythms envelop or enhance the jazz, classical and blues influenced tracks.  Antoine collaborated with the writing of nine new compositions in addition to covering the samba romancer, “La Belle Dame Sans Regrets,” originally recorded by Sting and the first vocal number by Antoine, who croons sensually in French.  The Paris-born Antoine seasons his recordings with the cultures he encounters in his world travels.  Latin and African percussion, flamenco guitar riffs, European nuances, and devotional Indian chants lend color, texture, spirit and sophistication to the tracks.  Antoine has fluently expanded his dialect on the album.  Known for his flamenco acoustic guitar bravura, Antoine often communicates through a cool-toned electric jazz guitar.

The festive first single, “Bella Via,” energetically powered by shuffling Latin percussion and Antoine’s emotive acoustic guitar, was recently serviced to smooth jazz radio stations.  The track has just been remixed by Dave Rideau, a three-time Grammy nominee who is known for his work on recordings by Janet Jackson, Usher, Jennifer Lopez, Sting, Mary J. Blige, Kirk Franklin, and TLC.  It will soon be shipped to radio stations as well as to club DJs. 

Since mid-June, Antoine has constantly been on the road to lay the foundation for this different and pivotal album release.  He’s toured the concert trail in major U.S. cities with sax star Dave Koz, R&B vocalist Jeffrey Osborne and cutting-edge saxophonist Praful as part of the “Dave Koz & Friends” summer trek, which concludes this Sunday night (August 21) at the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, California.  Between tour dates, Antoine has made extensive visits to key commercial and non-commercial radio stations and retail outlets in other major markets.  At album listening events, Antoine has played acoustic solo mini-concerts that have left the audiences enraptured.  The efforts are already paying off as Modern Times went #1 on Amazon’s “Top Sellers” jazz list.

Antoine’s four number one singles are “Sunland,” “Mas Que Nada,” “Mediterraneo” and “Funky Picante.”  He has deployed his guitar finesse to recordings and concert performances by some of the most distinguished and diverse artists in music, including Sting, Cher, Queen Latifah, George Benson, Basia, Soul II Soul, Selena, Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Will Downing, Richard Elliot, Rick Braun, Peter White and David Benoit.  Koz is co-founder of Rendezvous Entertainment, for which Antoine records.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 12:56 PM

August 10, 2005

Saxophonist Michael Brecker Needs Bone Marrow Transplant

MichaelBrecker2_bw.jpgHeads Up International recording artist Michael Brecker is an 11-time Grammy Award winner — the most of any saxophonist, ever. As a result of his harmonic and stylistic innovations, the renowned tenor saxophonist and composer, who is 56, is also the most studied contemporary instrumentalist in music schools throughout the world today. Prior to and during the pursuit of his acclaimed solo career, Brecker has delighted millions through recordings or performances with a virtual “Who’s Who” of jazz and pop giants including Herbie Hancock, Paul Simon, Quincy Jones, Joni Mitchell, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Aretha Franklin, Parliament Funkadelic, James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Pat Metheny, Aerosmith, George Benson, Frank Sinatra, David Sanborn, Chris Botti, Rick James, Frank Zappa, Harry Connick, James Brown, Dave Grusin, Ringo Starr, Steely Dan, Dave Brubeck, John Lennon, Lou Reed, Michael Bolton, Carly Simon, Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner, Billy Joel and Elton John.

Brecker’s blazing signature saxophone sound, however, has been temporarily quieted. He is a patient at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, afflicted with MDS, myelodysplastic syndrome, a bone marrow disorder. There is no known single cause of MDS and currently the only curative therapy is a blood stem cell (bone marrow) transplant.

In preparation for his transplant, Brecker is completing his first course of chemotherapy, but as of yet there is no suitable donor. The urgent donor search — which has included Brecker’s siblings and children — has not resulted in a match. Each year, approximately 9,000 people die in the U.S. while waiting for a bone marrow donor.

Brecker is anxious to rejoin his family and begin to work again. He hopes for more people to enter the National Marrow Donor Program Registry [www.marrow.org or 800-MARROW-2] and towards this end, a massive donor drive is currently being organized. As tissue types are inherited, Michael will need a donor of European Jewish extraction.

“So many diseases can be treated and cured by a bone marrow/stem cell transplant, including MDS, which I had never heard of until I was diagnosed with it,” explains Brecker. “By speaking out, I hope to encourage as many people as possible to get tested not only to assist me, but to help thousands of others who are either facing or who will be facing the same challenge with which I’m currently confronted.”

Brecker’s first album for Heads Up has been postponed. “This isn’t about selling records, it’s about trying to help save a man’s life” says Dave Love, President of Heads Up International. “We need to get together and find a donor for Michael as quickly as possible.”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:26 AM

August 9, 2005

The Groove Boutique™ Host Rafe Gomez Debuts TV Show On QVC This September

By Val Vaccaro

Here’s some BIG NEWS for audiences, artists, and industry people who are fans of groovy acid jazz, smooth jazz and funky crossover music!

Rafe Gomez’ innovative mix of music has shaken things up in a good way at radio, and now he’s ready to do the same for TV! Since April, after four months of keeping fans in suspense, DJ, radio personality and recording artist Rafe Gomez announced the debut date of his own TV show The Groove Boutique™ on the home shopping cable TV channel QVC! The show will air in the U.S. on the West Coast on Wednesday September 7, 2005 at 11PM PCT time and Thursday, September 8th 2AM EST time on the East Coast.

The one hour show will feature Rafe Gomez spinning and selling CD bundles of the same type of chilled-out, tasty sounds that he features on his highly successful, syndicated Groove Boutique™ radio show.

Rafe Gomez’ radio show, which was the nation’s first smooth jazz “mix” show featuring uptempo smooth jazz, acid jazz, jazz-funk, soul jazz, chill music and nu-jazz, has been gaining lots of momentum on stations throughout the United States. In the New York City market, Rafe’s show airs on Saturday nights and has tied as Number One in ratings during that time slot competing with other radio mix show genres such as pop and rap music! Also, the Rafester was a top radio personality finalist this year at the New York Air Awards.

In the past two years, Rafe Gomez’ radio show, his mix CD Groove Boutique: Volume One (Tommy Boy Records) and remix with David Baron of Smokey Robinson’s classic tune “Quiet Storm” on the CD Motown Remixed released in May) have received lots of praise and great reviews from the press, including Smooth Jazz News, Rolling Stone Magazine, Billboard, All Music Guide, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Radio & Records, and many jazz websites such as SmoothVibes.com!

To catch the latest details for all of Rafe Gomez’ shows, check www.TheGrooveBoutique.com. Back in April, Rafe also announced plans for the future for a Volume 2 CD “of blended Groove Boutique jazziness.” This summer, Rafe is creating a “party atmosphere” spinning on board Spirit Cruises sponsored by WQCD CD101.9FM (www.CD1019.com) in New York City before the shows for popular smooth jazz artists such as Jeff Golub, Warren Hill & Philippe Saisse, Pieces of a Dream, and Angela Bofill. Rafe also hosts live shows for cutting edge, new artists such as Long Island, New York guitarist Matt Marshak and the London group Jazzinho.

How did the new Groove Boutique™ TV show idea develop? According to Rafe Gomez, "A rep from QVC heard The Groove Boutique™ on CD101.9 in New York and loved it. Then he bought the Groove Boutique: Volume One CD (which had the smooth jazz radio hit “Icy” recorded by Gomez), and loved that. Then (he) got in touch with me.”

The Rafester explains that the QVC rep said “the show's vibe was right in line with what QVC was looking for: a fresh presentation of hip jazz and jazzy music that can enhance the busy lifestyles of their viewers.” Gomez and the QVC rep then did some strategic planning to help create the look and feel of a Groove Boutique™ show on QVC.

Gomez says “I'm incredibly excited about it, as are my peeps!" (e.g., Rafe’s fans!). The new TV show will feature offerings of CDs by many of the same jazzy groovin' artists that Rafe Gomez plays on his nationally syndicated radio mix show such as: Bobby Caldwell, Euge Groove, Shilts, Alex Bugnon, Four 80 East, Soul Ballet, Greg Adams, Marcus Miller, Patches Stewart, Steve Oliver, and many more! The show will also feature some exciting music from NEW artists too and music from cool CDs such as various artist compilations like the Vintage Chill 4 CD set, and Groove Boutique: Volume One.

According to Rafe Gomez, “The music will be hot, the vibe will be cool, and the prices will be UNBELIEVABLE!!! Tune in to start building your library of your favorite Groove Boutique jams at phenomenal savings - savings that will only be available on The Groove Boutique ™ TV show on QVC!”

If you are a fan of Gomez’ radio show and or just love COOL and FUNKY JAZZ MUSIC, YOU’VE GOTTA TUNE IN TO RAFE GOMEZ’ new TV SHOW LIVE starting September 7th 11PM PST and September 8th 2AM EST!!

As jazz fans, we really should do all we can to support this new vehicle! Right now, in the U.S., there is no show on TV that supports our music on a regular basis! (Back in the 1990’s for a little while, we had the short-lived Arsenio Hall talk show introduce us to artists like Dave Koz and Candy Dulfer.)

Rafe Gomez’ new Groove Boutique™ show has great potential to bring our favorite and many new and exciting jazzy artists into millions of homes on a regular basis. As fans, to keep this show afloat, we NEED TO WATCH THE SHOW LIVE and BUY THE CDS during the live show!! If the show gets a great response, hopefully, QVC will MOVE the show to an earlier time slot for the East coast folks, and air it a few times a month!!

The Groove Boutique™ TV show is a great opportunity to hear cool music that you may not hear anywhere else, and be amongst the first to get the specially-priced CD packages mailed directly to your home!

According to Rafe Gomez, "if QVC features an item, their viewers automatically assume that it's good. QVC is also determined to
feature music that their audience doesn't know - but should know. This healthy, two-way interaction is refreshing: QVC respects the audience, and the audience trusts QVC. It's a dynamic that allows for limitless possibilities in terms of the music that I can present."

If you’ve never watched QVC, it’s an exciting process, since the hosts are live, and the calls are also live from audiences who are consumers. QVC (which stands for “Quality, Value and Convenience” with headquarters in West Chester, Pennsylvania in the US) is the
American leader in electronic retailing.

QVC reaches approximately 96% of all U.S. cable homes, as well as over 23 million satellite homes. In the U.S., QVC broadcasts live 24 hours a day, 364 days a year, and introduces 250 new products every week to viewers in 87 million homes. In addition to its successful direct selling approach on Cable TV, the company also sells through websites in the U.S. www.QVC.com, and in other countries.

If you don’t have the QVC cable channel, the www.QVC.com website give viewers the opportunity to click on and watch the QVC TV show LIVE! http://www.qvc.com/videostream/vid_linear.html?tmp=tb&cont=wtv

BizRate.com, the premier online comparison shopping site, presented QVC.com with a "Circle of Excellence" Platinum Award for 4 years in a row, (which recognizes 41 of the best retailers for their outstanding customer satisfaction). QVC is one of only five online retailers to receive this recognition.

Internationally, through TV and the Internet, QVC reaches 15.4 million homes in England, Scotland, and Ireland in the U.K., 35 million households in Germany, and 15.4 million homes in Japan.

Globally, in 2004, QVC received approximately 192 million phone calls and shipped over 137 million units valued at over $5.7 billion USD. That’s incredible!

Gomez plays many artists from overseas. Perhaps someday Rafe Gomez’ The Groove Boutique™ show will air in other countries too! Wouldn’t that be something?

ON BEHALF OF FUNKY JAZZ FANS AND ARTISTS AROUND THE WORLD, let’s wish RAFE GOMEZ and the exciting new Groove Boutique™ TV show on QVC BEST OF LUCK!!! Stay tuned for the next episode of great jazz mix music…with Rafe Gomez.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:13 PM

July 20, 2005

18th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival

Rainbow Promotions presents the 18th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival on the weekend of August 12th, 13th and 14th., 2005. The festival takes place again at the idyllic seaside setting of Rainbow Lagoon Park on Shoreline Drive in Long Beach, California. As the longest-running annual jazz festival in Southern California, the Long Beach Jazz Festival is poised to be the most exciting festival ever as Rainbow Promotions, guided by veteran concert promoter Al Williams, adds an international flavor to its mix of traditional and contemporary jazz.

Williams, who will also perform with his Al Williams Jazz Society on August 14, says of this year’s Long Beach Jazz Festival lineup: “Jazz has been embraced by the world for decades. It is only proper that the Long Beach Jazz Festival reflect that same love for such an enduring genre. We feel that this is one of the most exciting lineups in our proud history, and will also stand as one of the best we’ve ever presented.”

On August 12, japanese pianist Keiko Matsui brings her special brand of jazz to the festival, and is joined by popular Japanese-American jazz ensemble Hiroshima. Closing the first day is the Special Storm, featuring guitarist Norman Brown, soulful crooner Peabo Bryson, songwriter/vocalist/pianist Brenda Russell and the high-energy of saxophonist Everette Harp.

On August 13, afro-jazz stylist Hugh Masekela makes a rare Southern California appearance. Jazz vocalist Michael Franks, British jazz combo Down To The Bone, smooth jazz guitarist Chuck Loeb, bay area jazz guitarist Joyce Cooling bring their special flavor to the festival. And South Floridians Seville will perform a tribute to Motown. And on August 14, dynamic vocalist Rachelle Ferrell, urban soul artist Angie Stone, popular pianist Bob James, former Blackbyrds keyboardist Kevin Toney and the Al Williams Jazz Society featuring vocalist Barbara Morrison command the stage. The highlight of the last day of the Long Beach Jazz Festival is a tribute to the legendary Ray Charles, which will feature former members of his band, former members from his background vocal group the Raylettes, and special guests.

Tickets are available through Rainbow Productions at (562)-424-0013, or online at Ticketmaster.com. Vip tickets - $135 on Friday, and $160 per seat on Saturday and Sunday - include dinner, wine service and backstage access. Reserved box seating tickets are $50 on Friday and $65 per seat on Saturday and Sunday. General admission/lawn seating is $40 (prior to August 10) and $45 at the gate. Friday gates open at 5pm, with showtimes starting at 7pm. Saturday and Sunday gates open at 11:00am.

Bank of America returns as presenting sponsor of the 2005 Long Beach Jazz Festival. Other sponsors include Northrup Grumman, Budweiser, Alize, Jazziz Magazine, Charter Communications, Bet Jazz and Southwest Airlines. Co-sponsors include KTWV-FM, KKJZ-FM and KJLH-FM Los Angeles.

About Rainbow Promotions

Rainbow Promotions is the producer of the Long Beach Jazz Festival, the San Diego Smooth Jazz Festival and multi-mini-concerts presented year-round. For 18 years, Rainbow Promotions has presented the Long Beach Jazz Festival, the city’s second-largest event behind the Long Beach Grand Prix, and averages 30,000 in attendance over the three-day event. For more information regarding the Long Beach Jazz Festival, go to: www.longbeachjazzfestival.com, or www.rainbowpromotions.com.

Read my review of last year's 17th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:23 PM

July 12, 2005

Acoustic Alchemy Creates Magic At Seattle Show

Acoustic Alchemy displays its strong points in concert.

AcousticAlchemy_live.jpgThe last time the veteran smooth jazz band Acoustic Alchemy performed at Seattle’s Jazz Alley, just last year, audiences were treated to a trio setting. When the band wrapped up its current U.S. tour on July 10 at the same venue, the band was in full force. That meant the place was jumping.

Acoustic Alchemy is led by guitarists Greg Carmichael and Miles Gilderdale, the latter who became a permanent member after the unfortunate death of Nick Webb several years ago. Gilderdale brings a rock edge to the band’s live performances, which is not surprising when you consider that honed his chops jamming in a rock band. Gilderdale’s rock pedigree was evident from the get go as he laid down plenty of rock riffs throughout “Shelter Island Drive” and “Georgia Peach.” Gilderdale can sing and scat, too, which is evident on the band’s first single called “Say Yeah” from its current CD called American/English. In concert, lucky fans are treated to several minutes of scatting instead of the few measly seconds on the radio track.

Original member Carmichael, of course, is a treat to behold as well. While Gilderdale uses a pick, Carmichael prefers the guitar au natural – he plays it like a bass with his fingers. It looks painful, but he’s surely built up major protective calluses during his worldwide jaunts.

Together, Carmichael and Gilderdale complement each other nicely, never more so than on “Detroit Shuffle” when their give-and-take sounded lifted straight from the movie Deliverance. On that song, dedicated to the Motown style, they threw in a few snippets of “How Sweet It Is” and “Jimmy Mack.”

The duo was backed admirably by the touring band: Frank Felix on bass, Eddie M. on sax, Greg Grainger on drums and Fred White on keyboards.

The lads are now back in London, but will return to the States in September. Wherever you are, you deserve to catch a show by the legendary Acoustic Alchemy.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 5:34 AM

July 6, 2005

Brian Simpson - It's All Good

B0009X75T2.01._SCMZZZZZZZ_.jpgBrian Simpson has toured with Dave Koz for years as his musical director and keyboardist. This summer he releases his debut album It's All Good. You can catch Brian live this summer on Dave Koz's Smooth Summer Nights Tour. Visit DaveKoz.com for tour details. Click here to pre-order the album and listen to samples.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:03 PM

Wayman Tisdale's sax man steps into the spotlight

B0009X75SI.01._SCMZZZZZZZ_.jpgTom Braxton has spent many years as Wayman Tisdale's saxophonist. In addition to continuing to back up the big man, this month he will take center stage and release a solo album on Rendezvous titled Bounce. The album will be released on July 26 nationwide. Click here to pre-order the album, and listen to samples

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:58 PM

June 30, 2005

“People” make Richard Elliot’s world go round

Single Top 5 as the R&B saxophonist’s new "Metro Blue" album hits record stores; album Top 10 at iTunes

The reign of King Richard continues.  Already ruling radio with a hot Top 5 single, “People Make The World Go Round,” R&B saxophonist Richard Elliot is prepared to conquer the album charts with yesterday’s launch of Metro Blue, his fourteenth solo disc.  Made available on iTunes two weeks in advance of the album’s street date, download sales have already placed the CD in the Top 10 on the Jazz Albums chart.  The record holds the distinction of being the debut release from the ARTizen Music Group record label, which Elliot is a partner of.  The single was made available for a limited time as a free download on a number of online portals resulting in the track’s Top 10 position on Billboards Online Download chart.  For those who purchase the album, the CD contains a link to download a free bonus track, “Mystery,” which isn’t available elsewhere.

Elliot produced Metro Blue with Rick Braun and the two collaborated on nine new songs for the collection.  Joining them in the studio were Jeff Lorber, Peter White, Brian Culbertson, Dwight Sills, Gregg Karukas, Lenny Castro, Rex Rideout, Ronnie Garrett, Nate Philips and Phil Davis.

The moody album reveals a different persona than on previous Elliot recordings.  The best new school and old school stylings meet in distinctly modern urban settings with retro horn sections and vintage keyboards flourishes.  Throughout his career, Elliot has been known for delivering knockout covers of R&B classics.  For years, he’s wanted to redo The Stylistics’ haunting “People Make The World Go Round.”  “I’ve always loved this song.  It doesn’t sound like anything else on the radio.  I’m glad that I waited to do the song with Rick (Braun).  He added a hypnotic chill rhythm underneath a more traditional arrangement.  It came out sounding really different,” said Elliot.        

While his impressive collection of #1 albums and radio singles has made him an icon in the contemporary jazz radio and recording worlds, another component to Elliot’s enduring and expanding popularity is his reputation as a dynamic concert performer.  To support the release of Metro Blue, Elliot has teamed with Braun, White and Jonathan Butler for the stellar Jazz Attack U.S. concert tour, which began in May with dates that run throughout the summer. 

Having already demonstrated his business acumen a decade ago by co-founding a cutting-edge Internet multimedia company, Elliot is now partnered with Braun, their long-time manager Steve Chapman, and industry veteran Al Evers to create the ARTizen Music Group.  The missions of the label are to explore unique and innovative ways to market music to the smooth jazz lifestyle and to embrace and exploit the Internet and the digital delivery of music.  Although the initial releases will be new product from Elliot and Braun, who is in the midst of recording his first set for the label, other artists will be signed to the label for new releases and ARTizen will release catalogue pieces from veteran artists.  The Sherman Oaks, California-based record company is distributed in the United States by Ryko Distribution.  Visit the label online at www.ARTizenmusic.com.

Although he’s been a seminal voice on the instrumental music scene for almost two decades and his music helped spawn the evolution of a new radio format, Elliot is excited about the now.  “This (Metro Blue) is a very important record for me.  There’s a lot of newness, both in the music creatively and on the business side of things with our new label venture.”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:47 AM

June 28, 2005

Take an eclectic adventure with Praful to the Pyramid In Your Backyard this summer

Otherworldly electronic, ethnic and jazz riffs piloted by the saxophonist “Moon Glide” across radio waves and from coast to coast on a U.S. concert trek


Multi-instrumentalist Praful is back with his sophomore album, Pyramid In Your Backyard, and it is a mind-blowing collage of electronic club, world music and jazz.  Recently released by Rendezvous Entertainment in association with N-Coded Music and Therapy Recordings, the record was produced, recorded, arranged and mixed by Roberto Adani, Daniel Wolf and Praful, who also composed the seventy-plus minute mix of a dozen new trance, dance, world music and chill jazz grooves.  The first track serviced to radio was “Moon Glide,” a song unlike any other heard on commercial radio.  It features Praful’s gravity-free saxophone hovering gracefully over modern tango rhythms and spiced with haunting chords from a Wurlitzer piano.

The music on Pyramid In Your Backyard is as genre defying as Praful himself, who perilously juggles hyperkinetic drum & bass dance vibes, funky electronic trip-hop beats, cool jazz nuances, spacey rock riffs, and poetically poignant  melodies wrapped in luxurious veils of sacred Sufi chants, primal African percussion, sensual Brazilian overtones, passionate Latin accents, and bliss-inducing, ambient meditations.  While playing a myriad of instruments, including saxes, flutes, harmonium, guitar, tanpura, keys, piano and even voice (“Naked”), Praful’s unique vision and artistry remain the focal point.

Pyramid In Your Backyard was recorded at Adani & Wolf’s Studio De Boot, a boat floating peacefully in an Amsterdam canal, the city Praful currently calls home.  This proved to be an idyllic setting since it secluded the musicians, allowing them to channel their varied influences from a place deep within.  Amongst the international passengers at the sessions at sea were Sandhya Sanjana (vocals), Katia Moras (vocals), Sudha (vocals), Afra Mussawisade (percussion), Rene Dissel (electric and acoustic basses), Martin Denev (keyboards), Serigne M. Gueye (bugarabu, djembe), Rasiko (guitar), David Rothschild (trombone), and Sushi (barking).  Yes, barking.  

About the album title, Praful, the German-born citizen of the world said, “I found the title to be fitting because backyards are casual places often cluttered with people’s belongings, while the pyramid stands for something deeper and spiritual.  It is a symbol for a place inside us all, but we don't always connect to it.  That’s just like my music.  It’s casual and you can just hang out and have fun, but there is a deeper meaning to the music if you tune into it.”

Debuting with the autumn 2003 album release, One Day Deep, Praful found himself in the Top 10 on three Billboard charts: Electronic, Hot Club and Contemporary Jazz.  Although he admits he never even heard the term “smooth jazz” in Europe, the lead single from the CD, “Sigh,” took Praful to #1 on Radio & Records’ smooth jazz airplay chart and went Top 10 on the college radio electronic chart.  The song helped spur the formation of the new “chill” radio format, now spinning off from smooth jazz radio.  However you describe it, Praful’s sound is audacious and inventive.

To support Pyramid In Your Backyard, Praful will spend the summer on a major U.S. concert tour with sax star Dave Koz, guitarist Marc Antoine, and R&B vocalist Jeffrey Osborne.  Koz is co-founder of Rendezvous Entertainment, which releases Praful’s records in the U.S.


Praful’s Pyramid In Your Backyard contains the following songs:

“Moon Glide”                                                           “Naked”
“Says Kabir”                                                            “Azul”
“Acredite”                                                                 “Drop To The Ocean”
“April Seven”                                                          “Wishful Walk”
“Eternity”                                                                  “Ponto De Partida”
“Hand-Cart Puller”                                                   “We Live On”


Catch Praful performing with Dave Koz, Marc Antoine and Jeffrey Osborne on the following dates (solo club dates may be added):

July 7                       Fresno, CA                              Saroyan Theatre
July 8                       Sacramento, CA                      Radisson Hotel Grove Amphitheatre
July 9 & 10              Temecula, CA                          Thornton Winery
July 13                     Atlanta, GA                               Chastain Park Amphitheatre
July 14                     Louisville, KY                           Palace Theatre
July 15 & 16            Chicago, IL                              Navy Pier Skyline Stage
July 17                     Detroit, MI                                Jerome Duncan Fox Theatre                
July 20                     Cleveland, OH                         State Theatre
July 21                     Kettering, OH                           Fraze Pavilion for the Performing Arts
July 22                     St. Louis, MO                           The Roberts Orpheum Theatre
July 23                     Apple Valley, MN                     Music In The Zoo
July 29                     Henderson, NV                       Sunset Station Amphitheatre
July 30                     Oakville, CA                             Robert Mondavis Summer Festival
July 31                     Saratoga, CA                           Montalvo Center for the Arts
August 19                San Diego, CA                        Humphrey’s By The Bay
August 20                Concord, CA                           Chronicle Pavilion
August 21                Hollywood, CA                        Hollywood Bowl

Posted by Peter Böhi at 12:30 PM

June 14, 2005

Modern Times reflect big changes for guitarist Marc Antoine

New album due August 16, major summer tour with Dave Koz & Friends
 
Modern times call for modern measures.  After creating a distinctive classical, Latin jazz, flamenco sound that has repeatedly lead him to the top of the charts, guitarist Marc Antoine adventurously stretches his creative muse in new directions on Modern Times, his seventh solo album, scheduled for release on August 16th from the Rendezvous Entertainment record label.  The festive “Bella Via,” on which Antoine drives his signature acoustic guitar along a shuffling Latin percussion groove, will be the first cut going for adds at contemporary jazz radio on July 11th.   
 
It’s rare for a successful artist in peak form to audaciously step outside of the proven to push the creative envelope, reinventing himself as a new musical persona, but that’s exactly what Antoine is doing with panache.  Recording the album in his studio in Madrid, Spain, Antoine produced Modern Times with European dance music producer-club DJ David Ferrero and collaborated on nine new compositions.  The album reflects a confident step into foreign terrain for Antoine.  Known for his acoustic guitar bravura, he plays electric guitar on several cuts and even croons a cool lead vocal on the romantic samba cover, “La Belle Dame Sans Regrets,” a song originally recorded by Sting.  The Paris-born musician has affection for incorporating his world travels and various cultures into his music.  Antoine continues his affair with Spanish, Latin and European rhythms and riffs, but he expands his itinerary on the new record to include musical excursions into South Africa (“Umbele”) and India (“Cantar al Amor”), the latter of which features sacred chanting.  Throughout the album, the production boasts plenty of vocal samples, sometimes dreamy or sometimes haunting female backing vocals, and hip club beats and grooves that set an array of vibes upon which Antoine’s moody and melodic guitar meanders. 

“Years ago, I read a quote from Miles Davis about when he ventured into entirely new creative directions.  He said that he found someone from outside of his (jazz) world to collaborate with.  That’s exactly what I did on Modern Times.  David (Ferrero) is very well known in the club world and he brought an entirely fresh sensibility to my music,” explained Antoine.  “Although people primarily know me for my acoustic flamenco guitar sound, for years I’ve also done sessions on electric (guitar) for Celine Dion, Queen Latifah and others.  I wanted to explore a different musical palate by using an electric guitar on some tracks.  I think some might be caught off guard by this album, but I’m pleased with the way it came out and I hope people will listen to it with an open mind.”   
 
To support Modern Times, Antoine will spend the summer on a major U.S. concert tour with sax star Dave Koz, R&B vocalist Jeffrey Osborne and Praful, a cutting-edge sax player who incorporates ambient vibes and electronic dance beats to his music.  Koz is co-founder of Rendezvous Entertainment, for which Antoine records. 
 
To date, Antoine has scored four number one singles – “Sunland,” “Mas Que Nada,” “Mediterraneo” and “Funky Picante.”  He has deployed his guitar finesse to recordings and concert performances by some of the most distinguished and diverse artists in music, including Sting, Cher, George Benson, Basia, Soul II Soul, Selena, Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Will Downing, David Benoit, Rick Braun, Peter White and Richard Elliot.         
             
Marc Antoine’s Modern Times contains the following songs:
 
“Modern Times”                                                       “Can You Feel It”
“Samba Hood”                                                         “Shake It Out”
“La Belle Dame Sans Regrets”                                “Cantar al Amor”
“Camden Town”                                                     “Bella Via”
“Umbele”                                                                 “If You Believe”
 

Catch Marc Antoine performing with Dave Koz, Jeffrey Osborne and Praful on the following dates:
 
June 10                   Reading, PA                            Reading Eagle Theatre
June 11                   Winona, Ontario                       E.D. Smith Farms
June 12                   Westbury, NY                          North Fork Theatre
June 16                   Albuquerque, NM                    Sandia Amphitheatre
June 17                   Denver, CO                             Paramount Theatre
June 18                   Phoenix, AZ                            Celebrity Theatre
June 23                   Philadelphia, PA                      Merriam Theatre
June 24                   Richmond, VA                          Kanawha Theatre
June 25                   Raleigh, NC                             Meymandi Concert Hall
June 26                   Charlotte, NC                           Belk Theatre
July 7                       Fresno, CA                              Saroyan Theatre
July 8                       Sacramento, CA                      Radisson Hotel Grove Amphitheatre
July 9 & 10              Temecula, CA                          Thornton Winery
July 13                     Atlanta, GA                               Chastain Park Amphitheatre
July 14                     Louisville, KY                           Palace Theatre
July 15 & 16            Chicago, IL                              Navy Pier Skyline Stage
July 17                     Detroit, MI                                Jerome Duncan Fox Theatre                 
July 20                     Cleveland, OH                         State Theatre
July 21                     Kettering, OH                           Fraze Pavilion for the Performing Arts
July 22                     St. Louis, MO                           The Roberts Orpheum Theatre
July 23                     Apple Valley, MN                     Music In The Zoo
July 29                     Henderson, NV                       Sunset Station Amphitheatre
July 30                     Oakville, CA                             Robert Mondavis Summer Festival
July 31                     Saratoga, CA                           Montalvo Center for the Arts
August 19                San Diego, CA                        Humphrey’s By The Bay
August 20                Concord, CA                           Chronicle Pavilion
August 21                Hollywood, CA                        Hollywood Bowl

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:58 PM

May 29, 2005

Master musician Brian Bromberg serves up a fresh batch of Choices

In record stores today is a fresh version of Brian Bromberg’s Choices album, which was revisited by the master bass player and producer.  Originally released last year, the artist remixed half of the record and the entire disc was remastered.  One track was removed and replaced with the radio hit, “Relentless,” a duet with sax star Richard Elliot that previously was only released on the Oasis Smooth Jazz Awards compilation CD.  Featuring Bromberg’s nifty fret work on the piccolo bass, which sounds like a guitar, the title track of Choices is one of the hottest songs now collecting adds at radio.
 
Smooth jazz is often criticized as being light-weight, but not Bromberg’s efforts in the genre.  His hooks are memorable and infectious yet the writing is sophisticated and substantive, and the productions are intricately textured.  On Choices, which includes guest turns by Jeff Lorber, Brian Culbertson, David Benoit and Eric Marienthal, soulful R&B, funk, jazz, pop, and African rhythmscapes serve as the backdrop for Bromberg’s melodies.  No guitars were used on the album, although you’ll swear otherwise.  While primarily an instrumental album, Bromberg’s intention was for Choices to unfold like a collection of short stories.

Bromberg is a remarkable musician, one of the few masters of both the electric and acoustic bass.  He’s a rare artist who has garnered respect for releasing accomplished music in both the traditional jazz and more commercial contemporary jazz genres.     
 
In the midst of a prolific creative period, Bromberg, a partner in the new Artistry Music record label that now releases his music, has a full-slate of current projects that enable him to draw upon his vast experience.  In addition to Choices, he’s releasing and reissuing four albums this year.  Metal is a new rock fusion collection that was released in late February.  Last month, It’s About Time, a traditional jazz record originally released in 1991, was reissued after being remixed and remastered.  This summer, Bromberg’s 1993 self-titled contemporary jazz album, featuring Lorber, Lee Ritenour, Kirk Whalum and Toots Thielemans, will be reissued.  Scheduled for release early next year, Bromberg has begun recording Wood II, the sequel to 2002’s critically acclaimed traditional jazz CD, Wood.
 
This spring and summer, Bromberg is touring worldwide with contemporary jazz greats Ritenour, Patrice Rushen, Ernie Watts, and Alex Acuna.  Recently Bromberg earned his first gold record for production work he did on Chris Botti’s When I Fall In Love album; this year he’s writing and producing songs for a number of other artists.  Collaborating with Dean Guitars, he designed an innovative line of basses, B², which will be in stores this summer.         
 
Earlier this year, Bromberg partnered with soul singer-songwriter Rahsaan Patterson, their long-time manager Lucille Hunt and veteran marketing executive Denny Stilwell to launch Artistry Music.  Based in Los Angeles, the label is distributed in the United States by Ryko Distribution

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:07 AM

April 28, 2005

Saxophonist Richard Elliot is in a funky, retro Metro Blue mood

Debut album for the ARTizen label hits stores June 28th, co-headlining the Jazz Attack Tour
 
Like a booming metropolis, saxman Richard Elliot is a rhythmic force of funk and fire, diverse and distinctive, passionate and powerful, soulful and seductive. A consistent chart-topper, Elliot will release the Metro Blue album on June 28th. It’s his fourteenth solo collection, yet his debut for the newly launched ARTizen Music Group record label, of which he is a partner.  Elliot’s emotive sax and Rick Braun’s muted trumpet and flugelhorn help set the tone on the first track being serviced to smooth jazz radio, a cover of The Stylistics’ moody classic, “People Make The World Go Round.” 
 
Metro Blue was produced by Braun and Elliot, who collaborated on nine original songs. Joining them in the studio were Jeff Lorber, Peter White, Brian Culbertson, Dwight Sills, Gregg Karukas, Lenny Castro, Rex Rideout, Ronnie Garret, Nate Philips and Phil Davis. The record sounds slick and contemporary yet recalls dusty vintage funk records from the 1970s when hot horn sections and cool keyboards helped create the vibe. On tracks like “Inside Out,” “Say It’s So,” “Mystique,” and “Maxi’s,” Elliot’s sax is muscular and robust, blowing big hooky choruses over R&B beats and dance grooves. When the tempo slows, as on “Camella” (named for Elliot’s wife), “People Make The World Go Round,” and the title track, Elliot chills, backing off the intensity in favor of romance and gentle melodies. 

RichardElliotMetroBlue.jpg“This album release really represents a turning point for me,” said Elliot. “The creative experience of working with Rick (Braun) coupled with the freedom of controlling our own destiny with the new label is pushing me into new directions creatively. I feel so lucky to be working with such inventive and creative people.”
 
To help launch and support the album release, Elliot is teaming with Braun, White and Jonathan Butler for the luminous Jazz Attack U.S. concert tour, with dates now through summer. Although his career began in a recording studio backing Motown legends such as Smokey Robinson and The Temptations, the stage has always been a big part of Elliot’s repertoire ever since he was a teenager when he toured with Melissa Manchester.   He went on to spend five formative years performing with Tower Of Power. While his highly successful solo recording career has made him an icon in the contemporary jazz radio world, Elliot has always devoted a tremendous amount of time and energy to his live performance schedule, one that helped him connect with fans across the country, forging an enduring relationship. 
 
Off stage, the Scotland-born, Los Angeles-reared Elliot has demonstrated his astute entrepreneurial skills as a co-founder of innovative Internet multimedia company PacificNet. He’s now partnered with Braun, their long-time manager Steve Chapman, and industry veteran Al Evers to create the ARTizen Music Group. Although the initial releases will be new product from Elliot and Braun, other artists will be signed to the label for new releases and ARTizen will release catalogue pieces from veteran artists. The Sherman Oaks, California-based record company is distributed in the United States by Ryko Distribution.                                                              
 
Richard Elliot’s Metro Blue album contains the following songs:
 
“Inside Out”                                                              “Chill Bill”
“Camella”                                                                 “Mystique”
“Coastline”                                                               “Mango Tango”
“People Make The World Go Round”                       “Maxi’s”
“Say It’s So”                                                              “Metro Blue”
 
 

Catch Elliot co-headlining the Jazz Attack concert tour on the following tour dates (dates may be added):
 
* April 28                  West Palm Beach, FL                               SunFest
May 13                    Henderson, NV                                       Sunset Station Hotel & Casino
May 14                    Phoenix, AZ                                            Celebrity Theatre
May 15                    Newport Beach, CA                 Newport Beach Jazz Festival                  
May 28                    San Diego, CA                                        KIFM-FM Anniversary Party
May 29                    Fresno, CA                                              Tower Theatre
May 30                    Half Moon Bay, CA                   Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay Resort
May 31                    Harrisburg, PA                                        Whitaker Center
June 2                     Glenside, PA                                            Keswick Theatre
June 3                     Richmond, VA                                          Kanawha Plaza
June 4                     Westbury, NY                                          North Fork Theatre at Westbury
June 5                     Washington, DC                                       Capital Jazz Festival
June 6                     Durham, NC                                            Carolina Theatre of Durham
June 9                     Clearwater, FL                                        Ruth Eckerd Hall
June 16                   Milwaukee, WI                                         Potawatomi Bingo Casino
June 17-18              Chicago, IL                                              Skyline Stage/Navy Pier
June 19                   Dublin, OH                                               Wendy’s Corporate Headquarters
June 21                   Cleveland, OH                                         Playhouse Square/Palace Theatre
June 22                   St. Louis, MO                                           Orpheum Theatre
June 23                   Kettering, OH                                           Fraze Pavilion
June 24                   Southfield, MI                                           WVMV-FM Smooth Jazz Festival
June 25                   Saratoga, NY                                           JVC Fest/Saratoga Performing Arts Center
June 26                   Hampton, VA                                           Hampton Jazz Festival
July 2                       Healdsburg, CA                                       Rodney Strong Vineyards
July 16                     Pasadena, CA                                         Pasadena Jazz Festival/Brookside Park
* July 22                  Carlsbad, CA                                           Four Seasons Resort Aviara
August 5                  Sacramento, CA                                      Radisson Hotel Outdoor Grove
August 6                  Woodinville, WA                                       Chateau St. Michelle
* August 12              Newport Beach, CA                 Hyatt Newporter
* August 14              Temecula, CA                                          Thornton Winery
* August 27              Akron, OH                                               Lock 3 Live Amphitheatre
               
 
 
* Not a Jazz Attack concert date – only Richard Elliot with his band
 

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:17 PM

March 29, 2005

A quartet of Choices from the prodigious Bromberg

Four diverse album releases showcase the versatility and virtuosity of one of music’s most respected bassists

Acclaimed musician-producer Brian Bromberg recently released his thirteenth solo album, Metal, through the Artistry Music record label and the prolific, diverse and uniquely gifted bassist has three more albums – Choices , It’s About Time, and Brian Bromberg - scheduled for re-release over the next few months. One would be hard pressed to find another artist who moves between musical genres with such aplomb and has deservedly garnered the same level of respect and praise from fellow musicians and the media as Bromberg has. Within the jazz arena, Bromberg has maneuvered back and forth amongst the hard-line traditional jazz world and the commercial contemporary jazz genre with unequaled grace and accomplishment. His partnership in the new Artistry Music label has provided him the rare opportunity to explore his creative muse in new musical directions as well as give a second chance to some of his previous releases, which warrant another listen.

Bromberg calls last year’s Choices album the best smooth jazz album he’s ever recorded. The collection will be reissued by Artistry Music on May 24. Produced by Bromberg, who wrote or co-wrote the music, the album was revamped after the meticulous professional went back to the lab to make it even better. Half of the record was remixed and the entire disc was re-mastered. The title track, featuring Bromberg on his guitar-sounding piccolo bass accompanied by keyboardist Jeff Lorber, will be serviced to smooth jazz radio. One song on the original album was replaced with “Relentless,” a smooth jazz radio hit featuring sax star Richard Elliot. The track originally appeared on the Oasis Smooth Jazz Awards CD and was never before released on a Bromberg album.                  

Metal marks new territory for Bromberg. The answer to his award-winning 2002 release, Wood, the collection is a truly unique rock fusion record that astoundingly was recorded without guitars. All the melodies and rhythms that sound like guitars were played by Bromberg on a piccolo bass. Although you’d never know it by listening to the album, it was recorded by just Bromberg and drummer Joel Taylor, along with keyboardist Dan Siegel, who appears on two tracks. Bromberg produced and composed the material, which recalls guitar gods and rock fusion greats. The record is unlike anything that’s been done before and captures an entirely new dimension of the virtuoso bass player, who unveiled the B2 line of basses that he designed with Dean Guitars at January’s NAMM convention. Jim Roberts, founding editor of Bass Player magazine and author of American Basses, wrote in the album’s liner notes, “And when it comes to hearing it all, and playing it all, nobody does it better than Brian Bromberg… Maybe I’m prejudiced, but you can always tell that Brian is a bass player at heart – even his most wailing ‘guitar’ solos display the logic that comes from a deep knowledge of harmony. And you can tell that he knows jazz, too, because of his attention to thematic development and contrasting solo voices.”

It’s About Time was Bromberg’s “first real hardcore, New York-kind-of-jazz record that is still approachable,” according to the musician, who produced the acoustic project in 1991. Scheduled to be re-released on April 5, the album has been remixed and re-mastered and now sounds as if it was recorded with today’s state-of-the-art digital recording and mastering equipment. Bromberg, who recorded the collection while playing a 300-year-old acoustic bass, was joined on the record by such jazz stalwarts as Freddie Hubbard, Ernie Watts, Mike Garson, Mitchell Forman and David Bromberg.        

Mining his extensive catalogue even further, Bromberg’s 1993 self-titled album will be re-released this summer (date soon to be announced). It’s a Bromberg-produced smooth jazz collection that boasts guest appearances by Jeff Lorber, Lee Ritenour, Kirk Whalum, and Toots Thielemans.  “One of the greatest things about having our own record label is having the opportunity to reissue some of my music that may have slipped through the cracks for a variety of reasons,” said Bromberg. “It’s important that we give this music the chance to be heard.”

Earlier this year, Bromberg earned his first gold record for the production work he did on Chris Botti’s When I Fall in Love album.  Bromberg is a much in demand producer after the success he’s had producing Jeff Kashiwa, Richard Smith, Kim Waters , Alan Broadbent, and Jeff Berlin, amongst others.

Bromberg, along with soul singer-songwriter Rahsaan Patterson, their long-time manager Lucille Hunt and veteran marketing executive Denny Stilwell launched Artistry Music earlier this year with the release of Patterson’s third album, After Hours. Based in Los Angeles, the label is distributed in the United States by Ryko Distribution. 

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:36 PM

March 3, 2005

Concord Release Schedule - March through August

Here is the full release schedule for the upcoming months of Concord Records.

In 2005, Concord Picante (Concord’s home to such Latin jazz all-stars as Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Tania Maria and Charlie Byrd) celebrates its 25th Anniversary. To mark the occasion, they have planned a slew of Latin-related releases, including Diane Schuur with the Caribbean Jazz Project (“Schuur Fire” out 4/5), “Classic Picante Regrooved” (5/17) featuring DJs Mario C., Cuica, Los Amigos Invisibles, among others, and a 4-CD anniversary box set (5/3).

Also on the Latin side of things, legendary pianist Eddie Palmieri celebrates 50-years in music with Listen Here! His collaborators for this new jazz project include David Sanchez, Regina Carter, John Scofield, Michael Brecker, Nicholas Payton and Christian McBride (out 6/14). Another Concord favorite, Poncho Sanchez, brings us his first new recording in two years. The jovial conguero is joined by The Tower of Power for some more of his distinctive Latin jazz and soul/funk rhythms (8/9). And, hot off the success of their Grammy win for Street Signs', Ozomatli releases their first live recording, Live From the Fillmore', which includes a bonus DVD disc of interviews and live footage (7/19). Even The Rippingtons mix it up with a few Latin rhythms on their May 17 release, Wild Card'. The CD features very special guests Albita & Willie Charro.

Many of Concord's most favorite and popular artists have new CDs coming in the months ahead, including the irreplaceable Keely Smith, who brings us a special tribute to Louis Prima called Vegas '58 – Today (4/12); the always talented and always distinctive Curtis Stigers (I Think It's Going to Rain Today on 4/19); Marian McPartland, who, with a few of her closest friends (Norah Jones, Phil Woods, Karrin Allyson and more), celebrates her 85th birthday at Birdland (85 Candles – Live in New York out 3/15); and Gary Burton showcases some of the most lauded young musicians of today with Next Generation (4/12).

Concord also have some new faces on the label this year. Debby Boone plays homage to her mother-in-law, Rosemary Clooney, with Reflections of Rosemary. The CD is a very warm and heart-felt tribute featuring songs closely associated with the Girl Singer, as well as tunes that were chosen for more personal reasons (4/26). Other new girl singers, Mary Haskell (3/15), Rita Coolidge (6/14), LaToya London and Erin Boheme have releases on their way, while favorite female vocalists Karrin Allyson and Nnenna Freelon (a tribute of Billie Holiday) are on the schedule for the Fall.

Here's the full schedule, subject to change and additions (labels are in parenthesis).

March 1: O'2LDoyle's Brunch (Peak)

March 8: VariousJazz Moods: Sounds of Spring (Concord Special Projects)

March 15: Mary HaskellInspired: Standards Good for the Soul (Concord)

Paul TaylorNightlife (Peak)

Marian McPartland & Friends85 Candles: Live in New York (Concord Jazz)

Marian McPartland Piano Jazz with Steely Dan (The Jazz Alliance)

March 22: Bobby DarinLive at the Desert Inn (Neon Tonic)

April 5: Diane Schuur w/ Dave Samuels and the Caribbean Jazz ProjectSchuur Fire (Picante)

Scott Hamilton w/ Bill CharlapBack in New York (Concord Jazz)

April 12: Gary BurtonNext Generation (Concord Jazz)

Keely SmithVegas '58 - Today (Concord)

April 19: Curtis StigersI Think It's Going to Rain Today (Concord Jazz)

April 26: Debby BooneReflections of Rosemary (Concord)

May 3: Various - Concord Picante 25th Anniversary Collection (Picante)

May 17: VariousExplorations: Concord Picante Regrooved (Picante)

VariousClassic Picante Original Grooves (Picante)

Jamie OldakerMad Dogs & Oakies (Concord) (features Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, Vince Gill and more)

The RippingtonsWild Card (Peak)

May 24: VariousPlayboy Jazz: Jazz After Dark II (Playboy)

Tony BennettSings the Rogers & Hart Songbook (Concord)

June 14: Eddie PalmieriListen Here (Picante)

Dave WecklTBD (Stretch)

Rita CoolidgeTBD (TBD)

David BenoitOrchestral Stories (Peak)

David BenoitCharlie Brown Christmas (Peak)

June 28: Fred Martin Choir / Jackson BrowneTBD (Concord)

July 12: Marian McPartland Piano Jazz with Elvis Costello (The Jazz Alliance)

July 19: LaToya LondonTBD (Peak)

Ozomatli Live at the Fillmore (Concord) (CD and DVD)

August 9: Poncho Sanchez (with the Tower of Power) – TBD (Picante)

Erin Boheme – TBD

Christian Scott – TBD

Taylor Eigsti – TBD

August 23: Nnenna Freelon – TBD

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:09 PM

February 26, 2005

Ken Navarro update by video at his website

Still an exclusive feature on the smooth jazz scene are the video updates at guitarist Ken Navarro's website. Promoting his latest release Love Coloured Soul which we were allowed to witness during its production over the past few months at Ken's website, the artist now gives us a brand new update about the state of affairs via a new video. You may check it out at http://www.kennavarro.com/store.htm

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:34 PM

Tony Adamo Records with Funk Legends

Tony_Adamo_bw.jpgTony Adamo, soul-jazz singer/songwriter will be in San Francisco’s Different Fur Recording Studio in late February with funk legends, Paul Jackson on bass and Mike Clark on drums.  They will be recording an original song by Adamo/Stucker produced by Jerry Stucker.   Paul Jackson is one of the baddest funk bass players of all time.  Paul has long been associated with Herbie Hancock’s super jazz funk band, Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters.  He has been nominated for three Grammy’s and currently tours with the Headhunters. Mike Clark, also of Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, has created the most influential funk drumming in the world and currently tours with the Headhunters.

Get ready, the funk is gonna fly when Paul Jackson, Mike Clark and Fred Wesley (James Brown, JB-Horns) hit the stage for an original Soul-Jazz Funk Legend Show at the famed Boom, Boom Room, in San Francisco, CA on February 25, 26.

Get hip to Jackson’s new CD to be released in April 2005 (Back Door Records) entitled, Funk On A Stick featuring San Francisco Bay Area vocalist Tony Adamo.  Paul Jackson and Mike Clark also record with the Headhunters on Basin Street Records, New Orleans, LA.  Watch for Adamo’s new soul-jazz CD scheduled to hit the streets in the summer of 2005.  For more information on Tony Adamo go to www.jazznow.com 

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:32 PM

February 10, 2005

Hammond B-3 Legend Jimmy Smith Passes

Jimmy Smith, the Hammond B-3 icon who creatively revolutionized the instrument in Jazz, died of apparent natural causes on Tuesday, February 8, at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. Funeral arrangements are pending.

JimmySmith_bw.jpg “Jimmy was one of the greatest and most innovative musicians of our time.  I love the man and I love the music.  He was my idol, my mentor and my friend,” fellow Hammond B-3 artist and friend, Joey Defrancesco said yesterday.

Born in Norristown, Pennsylvania on December 8, 1925, Jimmy Smith ruled the Hammond B-3 organ in the 1950s & 1960s. He turned the instrument into almost an ensemble itself, fusing R&B, blues, and gospel influences with bebop references into a jubilant, attractive sound that many others immediately absorbed before following in his footsteps. Smith initially learned piano both from his parents and on his own. After service in the Navy, in 1948 he studied bass at the Hamilton School of Music and piano at Ornstein's School of Music in Philadelphia. He began playing the Hammond organ in 1951, and soon earned a great reputation that followed him to New York, where he debuted at the Café Bohemia. A date at Birdland and then a 1957 Newport Jazz Festival appearance launched Smith¹s career. He toured extensively throughout the 1960s & ‘70s.

Smith’s Blue Note sessions from 1956 to 1963 were extremely influential and are highly recommended. They included collaborations with Kenny Burrell, Lee Morgan, Lou Donaldson, Tina Brooks, Jackie McLean, Ike Quebec, and Stanley Turrentine, among others. Smith also recorded for Verve from 1963 to 1972, many of them featuring big bands and using fine arrangements from Oliver Nelson. These included the excellent Walk on the Wild Side.

Jimmy Smith persevered in times when the Hammond organ seemed like it was down and out, and reigned as the master of the craft. The authentic sound of the Hammond still lives on in his protégé and good buddy Joey DeFrancesco. The pair recently recorded a studio album together, Legacy, to be released on Concord Records February 15. A national tour was in place for the B-3 soul mates to commence at Yoshi’s February 16-20, along with a special Iridium engagement in New York, March 23-27.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:21 AM

January 22, 2005

Berks Jazz Fest 15th Anniversary this March!

By Val Vaccaro

BerksJazzFestLogo.jpgThis year marks the momentous celebration of the 15th annual Berks Jazz Fest in Reading, Pennsylvania. The FirstEnergy Berks Jazz Fest, presented by the Berks Arts Council, runs March 11-20, 2005. Once again, there will be an impressive talent lineup featuring top music stars in contemporary jazz, traditional jazz, blues and more! There will be close to 120 events which take place at major venues, restaurants and clubs throughout Berks County. Some of this year’s top artists include Manhattan Transfer, Al Jarreau, David Sanborn, Chris Botti, Rick Braun, Chuck Loeb, Spyro Gyra, Jeff Golub, Peter White, Boney James, Fourplay, Pieces of a Dream, Jeff Lorber, The Joyce Cooling Group, Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot, Gerald Veasley, the Heads Up Super Band, Jason Miles, the Yellowjackets, Bob Mintzer Big Band, The B-3 Summit featuring Joey DeFrancesco, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Papa John DeFrancesco, the John Pizzarelli Trio, Steve Smith and Buddy’s Buddies, Tom Grant, Shemekia Copeland, and more!!!

According to Connie Leinbach, Executive Director of the Berks Arts Council, "This is a great milestone for us turning fifteen. The FirstEnergy Berks Jazz Fest has put Berks County on the national map. We've seen tremendous growth and popularity of the festival since we expanded to a 10-day festival in 2000, which was our 10th anniversary." John Ernesto, FirstEnergy Berks Jazz Fest General Manager said "Our goal is to not to grow the festival, but to maintain it and do it well. We want to make sure we maintain the quality of music in those ten days. We try to challenge the artists to do different things and put together different packages. So even when artists return, it's not the same thing."

This year, Berks Jazz Fest and Heads Up International are both celebrating their 15th anniversaries. In honor of this occasion, Dave Love - President and Founder of Heads Up International, and John Ernesto - General Manager of the Berks Jazz Fest, have put together a commemorative CD 15 Years of Heads Up at the Berks Jazz Fest. According to Dave Love, “We have enjoyed a very special relationship with the Berks Jazz Fest the last 15 years. It’s like we have grown up together. The festival... has always been willing to give our artists a chance to be showcased... So producing a commemorative CD... was an easy decision to make.” The CD features Heads Up musicians who have performed at the festival over the years. This wonderful CD includes 15 songs from these 15 artists: the Heads Up Super Band, Spyro Gyra, Pieces of a Dream, Hiroshima, Gerald Veasley, The Caribbean Jazz Project,the Yellowjackets, Joe McBride, Marion Meadows, Jaco Pastorius Big Band, Andy Narell, Kenny Blake, Joyce Cooling, Pamela Williams, and Paquito D’Rivera. All proceeds from the CD will go to benefit the Berks Arts Council and the Berks Jazz Fest. The CD cover and booklet were designed by Mike Anderson of The Anderson Group, who fittingly, 15 years ago designed the renowned pink neon Berks Jazz Fest logo. The photo on the CD cover is by Steve Shane. Anderson has also recently produced radio shows that will air weekly on a local Pennsylvania radio station (WEEU –AM) featuring interviews and music from artists performing at this year’s Fest (see the news section of www.theandersongroup.com).

Back to the Fest - last year, over 45,000 jazz fans attended from nearly 40 states in the U.S., Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, England and other countries in Europe. The Fest is an important yearly happening in Berks County with jazz fans spending about $5 million. Why is this jazz festival such a success? Returning jazz fans know there is definitely something special about this Fest which makes it a unique experience. Jazz fans new to the Fest will find out for themselves that it’s a real treat. There are lots of wonderful, exciting musical shows, where the supportive Fest atmosphere and enthusiastic fans help bring out the best in the performers. Many favorite artists greet fans when they participate in after-show autograph signings. In addition to great music, there’s also a strong sense of camaraderie and a sense of shared community among jazz fans who convene in this relatively small town, which welcomes you with open arms. The people who run the Fest and the many hundreds of local volunteers exude a hospitality and genuine friendliness that contribute to visitors’ enjoyment. There’s also a special quality to each of the venues. Each major venue has its own personality and is an enjoyable experience. There’s the excitement of the ballrooms with live video screens at the Sheraton Reading and Wyndham Reading hotels. There’s also the upscale grandeur of the Sovereign Performing Arts Center, the formal beauty of the Scottish Rite Cathedral, the cool nightclub vibe of Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base and the classy intimacy at the Inn at Reading Ballroom, along with the special ambience at the other Fest venues.

Here’s an overview of the 2005 Berks Jazz Fest shows:

manhattantransfer.jpgThe 2005 FirstEnergy Berks Jazz Fest starts off on March 11th with legendary vocal group Manhattan Transfer. Manhattan Transfer has won 12 Grammy Awards since the ensemble’s 1975 debut. In 2003, the group signed with Telarc Jazz. Last year, Manhattan Transfer released the diverse CD Vibrate which has been on the Billboard Top (Traditional) Jazz Albums chart for over three months.

bio_jarreau.jpgSinging sensation Al Jarreau performs on Friday, March 18th. This year, Al Jarreau's Accentuate The Positive received a Grammy nomination for best jazz vocal album, to add to five previous Grammy awards in jazz, pop and R & B and various international music awards. Audiences will delight in hearing dozens of Jarreau’s hits, such as “We’re In This Love Together” from the platinum selling CD Breakin’ Away, the upbeat “Mornin’” from the CD Al Jarreau and the popular “Moonlighting” TV show theme.

bio_sanborn.jpgOn Saturday March 12th, legendary saxophonist David Sanborn, the key innovator of the contemporary jazz alto sax sound, will perform with his group. A six-time Grammy winner, Sanborn has released over 20 solo albums since his 1975 debut Taking Off. Sanborn’s been a sideman for jazz artists such as Miles Davis, Gil Evans, John McLaughlin, Jaco Pastorius, the Brecker Brothers, Chicago blues legend Albert King, the Butterfield Blues Band (at Woodstock), and pop stars Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, and The Who. Sanborn has also played solos on a plethora of radio hits for many pop superstars . Sanborn’s recording success continues with his current CD Timeagain (Verve 2003) includes funky, bright covers of “Comin' Home Baby” and “Tequila,” as well as a number of bluesy, soulful tunes. Recently, the CD Essentials (Rhino Records 2002) was released that includes many of Sanborn’s top hits such as “Chicago Song,” “This Masquerade,” “Neither One of Us” and “Bang Bang” (probably the only contemporary jazz song with a music video played on VH1). All time Sanborn favorites include the inspirational “The Dream” from A Change of Heart (Warner Bros. 1990) and the blues-drenched “Benny” on Upfront (Electra1992).

bio_botti.jpgOpening for Sanborn will be amazing trumpet virtuoso Chris Botti. Botti’s current CD, When I Fall In Love, covers jazz standards and current love songs. Since it was released in September 2004, the CD has been #1 on the Billboard Traditional Jazz charts for months, and is the No. 12 best-seller for all musical genres on Amazon.com. In addition to the title track, the CD has other lush romantic tunes such as “What'll I Do?,” “No Ordinary Love,” “My Romance,” “Let's Fall in Love,” “The Nearness of You,” and “One For My Baby And One More For The Road.” The CD also includes “Someone to Watch Over Me" which Botti played last December with a full orchestra at the Noble Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway (telecast worldwide and hosted by Tom Cruise and Oprah Winfrey). Back In 1998, Botti and his band played at the Berks Jazz Fest. It was evident then that Botti has a breathtakingly beautiful, often ethereal sound and his style lends itself to a graceful performance. Botti’s debut solo album First Wish (1995) was followed by Midnight Without You (1997) and Slowing Down the World (1999). In 2002, Night Sessions went to #2 on the Top Contemporary Jazz chart and his holiday CD December reached #7. Botti’s 2003 CD A Thousand Kisses Deep has been on Billboard’s Top Contemporary Jazz chart for over a year. That CD includes original, pretty, melodic “mood” songs like “Indian Summer,” a romantic cover of the “The Look of Love” and a beautiful, sparse, poignant version of the classic “My Funny Valentine.” Botti continues to have an illustrious and multi-talented career. He’s composed movie scores and was co-host of a TV talk show. Recently, Botti was named one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People." A few months ago, Botti introduced a syndicated radio show on smooth jazz stations featuring his picks for “chill” music. In addition to Botti’s solo career, he’s toured with Josh Groban and Dave Koz and is a successful sideman for pop stars Sting (since 1999), Paul Simon (from 1990-95), Joni Mitchell and Natalie Merchant.

On Friday, March 18th, the Heads Up Super Band is reuniting (after five years) to celebrate the 15th anniversaries of the Heads Up record label and the Berks Jazz Fest. The Heads Up Super Band features multi-talented keyboardist/vocalist Joe McBride, bass superstar Gerald Veasley, talented saxman Kenny Blake and dynamic drummer Keith Carlock. Appearing with the Heads Up Super Band as special guests are the Berks Jazz Fest Horns (Mike Anderson on alto and tenor saxophones, Bill Miller on trombone, Rob Diener on trumpet, and guest Chris Heslop on baritone sax). The Heads Up Super Band and its guest artists will perform two shows as part of A Tribute to Ray Charles. On Saturday, March 19th, the Heads Up Super Band will also headline an afternoon show and evening concert of their own music.

bio_bride.jpgJoe McBride is one of the most lively, multi-talented pianists around – playing everything from contemporary jazz to jazz standards, mixed with funky boogaloo, gospel, and the blues. Whatever music McBride plays, it’s always a joyful experience for audiences, especially when he sings his heart out. McBride’s most recent CD, Keepin’ it Real (Heads Up) includes funky, blues-tinged vocal and instrumental versions of "Woke Up This Morning," the theme to the HBO TV hit The Sopranos. McBride has been part of Heads Up’s South African music recordings and live shows and is a big star at the jazz festival scene there since 1999. He recorded the song “11 K’s to Freedom,” a tribute to Nelson Mandela for the 2000 all-star CD Smooth Africa. McBride’s other CDs on Heads Up including Grace (1992), A Gift for Tomorrow (1994), Keys to Your Heart (1996) and Double Take (1998) which had guests Dave Koz, Peter White, Rick Braun and Larry Carlton.

bio_veasley.jpgGerald Veasley’s goal is “making music that touches people in a voice that is authentically my own.” Veasley’s achieved this objective with his collection of contemporary jazz CDs on the Heads Up label including: Look Ahead (1992), Signs (1994), Soul Control (1997), Love Letters (1999), On The Fast Track (2001) and Velvet (2003). Some favorite Veasley tunes include his energizing covers of “Do I Do” and “the In Crowd” from the 2001 release, and “Sarah’s Song,” Do you Remember” and “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” from the CD Velvet. In September 2004, Veasley opened up Gerald Veasley’s Jazz Base club at the Sheraton Reading Hotel. Last November, Veasley interviewed legendary pianist Joe Sample at World Café Live (www.worldcafelive.com) for a cable TV series called “Music Lab.” Music Lab will be shown at schools and will feature the lives and art of great musicians. Veasley also plays an important role as a music educator with workshops. This year, Veasley continues his Bass Bootcamp at the Berks Jazz Fest on March 11-13 at The Institute of Arts for bass players of all levels “to inform and inspire... in a challenging yet supportive environment.” Veasley also has released a Solo Bass Techniques Video. Veasley has been named “Best Electric Bassist” by Jazziz magazine. Downbeat Magazine Critics' poll voted Veasley in the category of "Talent Deserving Wider Recognition." Veasley has worked with the late Grover Washington Jr., Joe Zawinul, Special EFX, Pieces of a Dream, McCoy Tyner, Gerald Levert, Teddy Pendergrass, Nnenna Freelon, Philip Bailey, the Dixie Hummingbirds, John Blake and Phil Perry, as well as fellow Heads Up Super Band members.

bio_blake.jpgKenny Blake was a local jazz great in Pittsburgh for twenty years before his Heads Up albums Interior Design (1991), Rumor Has It (1992), Since You Asked (1993), and An Intimate Affair (1996). Blake’s clear, bright and melodic alto saxophone has often been heard on smooth jazz radio with a fabulous version of the classic “Harlem Nocturne.” Blake started playing clarinet at age 10 and began on saxophone at 12. Blake says he was drawn to jazz because "within its parameters, I could forge my own style. My soul hybrid sound came from playing both genres, which were never mutually exclusive anyway. The strong grooves of R&B engage your heart, while jazz makes sure you don't deny your brain intellectual stimulation... Once you master the basics of the horn, it's up to the artist to find his own little spin on things."

bio_carlock.jpgKeith Carlock has played with the Heads Up Super Band for many years and is featured on the group’s 1998 CD Live at the Berks Jazz Fest. Carlock also played the snare drum on Steely Dan’s 2000 hit album Two Against Nature, and played drums on the album’s DVD audio release. He also joined Walter Becker and Donald Fagan for the next Steely Dan project, Everything Must Go. He’s also worked on a number of pop and jazz CDs, including guitarist Leni Stern’s CDs Finally The Rain Has Come and When Evening Falls and Freddy Cole’s In The Name of Love.

bio_jasonmile.jpgThe Berks Jazz Fest 15th Anniversary Celebration Concert takes place in the early evening on Saturday, March 19th. This fantastic lineup has musical director keyboardist Jason Miles with his band Maximum Grooves. Maximum Grooves’ debut CD, Coast to Coast, (Telarc) was released last year. Jason Miles, Russ Freeman, James Genus and Gene Lake recently received a Grammy nomination for best pop instrumental performance for "Chasing Shadows," a tune on Maximum Grooves: Coast to Coast. Jason Miles has worked with artists like Miles Davis, Luther Vandross, Marcus Miller, Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, David Sanborn and Michael Jackson. Miles recently produced Gato Barbieri’s CD The Shadow of the Cat, which won Billboard's 2003 award for "Best Latin Jazz Album.” Miles also did a tribute CD to the late, great saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. To Grover With Love (nominated for “Record of the Year” at the National Smooth Jazz Awards in 2002). In 2001 Miles won a Grammy for producing the CD A Love Affair: The Music of Ivan Lins. Miles has also had two acclaimed jazz albums of his own - World Tour and Mr. X. Performing with keyboardist Jason Miles at the Berks Jazz 15th Anniversary Celebration Concert are: renowned multi-saxophonist and vocalist Walter Beasley, acclaimed saxophonist Kim Waters; legendary guitarist and Rippingtons founder/leader Russ Freeman; charismatic soprano saxman Marion Meadows; keyboardist/arranger extraordinaire Deodato (known for the "2001: A Space Odyssey" soundtrack); sideman guitarist/session player and Grammy-nominated solo artist Paul Jackson Jr.; saxophonist Andy Snitzer, who performs and records with top pop stars; tenor saxman David Mann of Tower of Power fame, who performs with superstars and plays on movie soundtracks and TV themes/jingles; up-and-coming saxophonist Jaared who tours with Peter White; and the ever-great muliti-saxophonist Spyro Gyra founder/leader Jay Beckenstein.

bio_geraldalbright.jpgGroovin' for Grover is a tribute to legendary saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. which features top saxophonists Gerald Albright (alto sax), Richard Elliot (tenor sax), Paul Taylor (soprano sax) and renowned keyboardist Jeff Lorber on Friday, March 18th. Albright’s most recent CD Kickin’ It Up (GRP) epitomizes his high-energy music. Before releasing eight CDs on his own, Albright performed with Anita Baker, and for over 20 years has been a highly in-demand session player for his soulful, bluesy playing and amazing altissimo high notes.

bio_richardelliot.jpgOn Richard Elliot‘s latest CD Ricochet (2003), Elliot worked with top producers Rex Rideout and Jeff Lorber and had a number of hits including the catchy “Corner Pocket.” He’s also many other hits with the help of co-producer Steven Dubin on Chill Factor (1999) and Crush (2001). Fans always enjoy Elliot’s trademark, dramatic version of “When a Man Loves a Woman,” which he plays at every show, usually accompanied by his touring band (one of the best in the business). It’s been a great career from the time of Elliot’s debut album Initial Approach in 1986, to his stints with Motown and Tower of Power to super-success as a smooth jazz artist. Currently, Elliot is working with Rick Braun to introduce their new record label ARTizen Records, which will release a new CD by Elliot later this year.

bio_taylor.jpgPaul Taylor has released five CDs: On the Horn (1995), Pleasure Seeker (1997) (the title track was in heavy radio rotation at smooth jazz stations), Undercover (2000), Hypnotic (2001) and his most recent CD Steppin’ Out (2003) which was on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart. Taylor recorded and toured with pianist Keiko Matsui and her husband Kazu for two years before Kazu produced Taylor’s debut On The Horn. Taylor also worked with Russ Freeman & The Rippingtons and keyboardist Jeff Lorber.

bio_lorber.jpgJeff Lorber, who Dave Koz has called “the Godfather of Smooth Jazz,” played a significant role in developing the late 70’s, early 80s R&B-jazz hybrid sound that later evolved into today’s contemporary jazz. Lorber recorded his first album Jeff Lorber Fusion in 1976. Fast-forward to February 2005 - Lorber’s new CD Flipside (Narada Jazz) was released with the first single "Ooh La La." Lorber worked with longtime co-writer/producer Steve Dubin and keyboard player Nelson Jackson to take his music in new directions. Flipside is a creative collection of swing rhythms, R & B, Latin, Jamaican, modal jazz, and hip-hop production, with lots of improvisation; the CD also includes classic Jeff Lorber sounds. Lorber’s recent popular smooth jazz CDs were Kickin’ It (2001) (with a spirited hit cover version of Chaka Kahn’s “Ain’t Nobody”) and Philly Style (2003), an ode to his hometown. Lorber has also been a top producer for many artists such as Dave Koz, Richard Elliot, Gerald Albright, Jeff Golub, Rick Braun, Wayman Tisdale, Paul Jackson Jr., Al Jarreau, Chris Botti, Russ Freeman, Paul Taylor, Michael Franks, Herb Alpert, Eric Marienthal, and of course, Kenny G (who was originally in Lorber’s band in the ‘80s before launching his solo career). On the Dave Koz CD Saxophonic, Lorber produced the hot radio single "Honey-Dipped" which received this year’s Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. Lorber (like just about every top smooth jazz star these days) was recently featured on Cameron Smith’s Smooth Jazz TV. Lorber also has his own satellite radio show at 9:00 PM (EST) on Saturdays and Sundays on www.Sirius.com called Planet Jazz.

bio_braun.jpgSupremely popular trumpeter Rick Braun will be joined by acclaimed guitarist Chuck Loeb and his Quartet to perform a unique combination of An Evening of Standards, Ballads and Blues on Wednesday, March 16th. Braun, a veritable icon as artist, producer and composer in the contemporary jazz music world, and Loeb, the acclaimed guitarist who’s also a producer, arranger and composer should make for a great show. Braun’s classic recording Beat Street (1995) established his Miles Davis/Chet Baker influenced trumpet as a major artist in smooth jazz. In 2003 Braun’s CD Esperanto featured the funky, upbeat party hit, “Green Tomatoes.” In 2002, Braun was part of the super-group BWB with Kirk Whalum and Norman Brown. BWB drew upon classic 60’s and 70s soul, jazz and funk and had the No. 1 radio hit cover tune “Groovin’.” On BWB’s CD, Braun also recorded a magnificently poignant version of “Povo,” a traditional jazz tune by legendary trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. “Povo” is a preview of what the special upcoming Berks Jazz Fest show will bring to audiences on March 16th. In 2004, Braun released his first independent CD Sessions, Volume I, a collection of 11 of Braun’s “greatest hits” (“Cadillac Slim,” “Notorious,” “Philadelphia,” “Grazin’ in the Grass,” “Missing in Venice,” “Love Will Find a Way,” “Groovis,” “TGIF,” “Nightwalk,” “Marty’s Party,” and “Coolsville,” and a new song “RSVP”). The CD was recorded as an informal, live in-the-studio date with his longtime band (and is currently available exclusively via Rick’s website and at shows). Also this year Braun, Richard Elliot, their manager Steve Chapman and Braun’s attorney Al Evers launched their new independent label recently named ARTizen Music. Braun also has plans to tour with Elliot, Peter White and Jonathan Butler, and is hosting a Smooth Jazz Cruise in November.

bio_loeb.jpgLast year, Chuck Loeb and his group of East Coast All Stars performed to a standing-room only crowd as the Fest finale. Also at last year’s Berks’ Jazz Fest Jam, Loeb was musical director for an all-star cast (including Rick Braun) who interpreted traditional jazz songs by Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. That’s a long way off from Loeb’s recent reputation as a cool, smooth jazz artist with many cheerful, happy-go-lucky, catchy radio hits. Loeb’s solo career as a smooth jazz artist on the Shanachie label includes a great collection of CDs: The Music Inside (1996), The Moon, The Stars and the Setting Sun (1998), Listen (2000), In a Heartbeat (2001) and Ebop (2003). Loeb has also been a producer for Larry Coryell, Nelson Rangell, Warren Bernhardt, Donald Harrison, Jon Lucien, Sergio Salvatore, Eddie Daniels, George Garzone, his wife Carmen Cuesta, Kim Waters and Bob James. In 1979, Loeb landed a high-profile gig with saxophone star Stan Getz and remained a vital part of his band through the early ‘80s. Loeb was also part of the fusion band Steps Ahead. Loeb has also written the theme songs for CNN, The Montel Williams Show, Nightline, ESPN, One Life To Live, CBS News Up To The Minute, the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves. Singer/songwriter Carmen Cuesta (Loeb's wife) will be opening the show for Loeb and Braun. Cuesta's unique style and mellifluous voice blend her love and knowledge of many musical flavors.

peterwhite2.jpgPeter White featuring Jaared will perform on Saturday, March 12th, for an afternoon show, and a late night concert. Superstar acoustic guitarist White’s sweet-sounding melodies and smooth grooves have earned him the title “Guitarist of the Year” four years in a row from National Smooth Jazz Awards. White’s had twelve No. 1 smooth jazz radio hit songs including “Talkin’ Bout Love,” from his current CD Confidential. In May 2004, the Mediabase 24-7 radio airplay tracking service found that White is the most played artist in the entire smooth jazz format. Jaared is a charismatic saxophonist who draws upon soulful R & B roots that have made him a bio_jaared.jpgpowerful player in contemporary jazz. Jaared is an exciting performer, who also is a talented vocalist. Jaared was a nominee for Best New Artist at the third annual National Smooth Jazz Awards. Jaared’s current CD Hang Time continues to exude the cool vibe which smooth jazz audiences first got to hear on the radio with his cover of “Baby Come Back.” His popular CD Foreward (2001), had the song “Love Takes Over” reach No. 1 and was the most-added tune its first week on U.S. radio (it was also No. 5 in Japan and No. 1 in England).

bio_boney.jpgA smooth jazz fan's dream show is the Boney James and Pieces of a Dream double bill on Sunday, March 13th. Enthusiastic crowds at past Berks Jazz Fests have often chanted “Go Boney, go Boney” and are delighted with his shows. James, the superstar saxman with the smooth and funky sounds has had numerous best-selling CDs (500,000 units) for Seduction (1995), Sweet Thing (1997) and Body Language (1999). James, in collaboration with Rick Braun, also reached No. 1 with the cover of “Grazin’ in the Grass” on the CD Shake It Up (2000). In 2003, Ride earned James his first Grammy nomination for best pop instrumental album. This year, Boney James' Pure (James’ first self-produced bio_pieces.jpgCD) is nominated for best pop instrumental album. Pieces of a Dream has defined the smooth jazz format for nearly three decades. In the 1970s, the group was discovered as teenagers by the late sax legend Grover Washington, Jr. After touring with Grover, Pieces of a Dream -- pianist James Lloyd, drummer Curtis Harmon, along with other musicians have become of the most popular touring groups in contemporary jazz. In 2001, Pieces of a Dream signed with Heads Up International and celebrated their 25th anniversary with the top CD, Acquainted with the Night. The next CD in 2002, Love's Silhouette also scored big on radio and in the top 10 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. Their 14th record is the current No Assembly Required (2004).

JeffGolubBerks.jpgJeff Golub is a favorite artist for many smooth jazz fans - one of the most talented, dynamic, diverse, creative, and funky smooth jazz guitarists around. Golub bring his unique style of contemporary jazz influenced by R&B, blues, latin and pop to the Fest on Thursday, March 17th. A much-anticipated new CD for Golub (his debut on Narada Jazz/Higher Octave) with award-winning producer/guitarist Paul Brown will be ready this summer. Golub brings amazing, sounds and high-energy performances to his live shows (like those on the “Guitars & Saxes” tours). Golub’s shows usually include crowd-pleasers such as the boisterous original tune “Boom Boom” (from the CD Soul Sessions 2003), and upbeat, funky, bluesy hit versions of Average White Band’s “Cut the Cake” (from Golub’s brilliant 2002 CD Do It Again of cover songs), and the classic “Pick Up the Pieces” (from the 1994 Avenue Blue featuring Jeff Golub CD). On the more sensitive side, Golub performs smoldering originals such as “Naked City” or “Stockholm” both of which show the incredible range and intensity of sounds that Golub can pull out of his musical bag of tricks (sort of like baby-boomer cartoon hero Felix the Cat). Golub fantastic song catalog also includes the #1 hit title track from the CD NightLife (1997). One of the songs from NightLife which would be great to hear live is the catchy, upbeat “Seventh Heaven;” other tunes on the live wish list include the funky radio hit “Cold Duck Time” and the sultry “On the Beach” (from the 2002 CD Do It Again), and the unexpected, fun version of Smash Mouth’s “Walking on the Sun” (from Dangerous Curves 2000) which had airplay with the Golub-Peter White duet “No Two Ways About It”). Golub’s music - often influenced by cool 1960’s tunes (like his Nightlife CD cover of Ramsey Lewis’ “The In Crowd”) - should be recruited someday for a new Austin Powers movie! In 1997, Golub also toured with keyboardist Bob James and saxophonist Kirk Whalum on their Grammy-nominated CD Joined at the Hip. Before Golub launched his contemporary jazz career, he toured with Billy Squier and from 1988-1995 was Rod Stewart’s lead guitarist (alongside Rick Braun with whom he later collaborated with on various records). Recently, Golub was back on tour with Rod Stewart for the singer’s jazz standards tour. In January, Golub, along with many other smooth jazz stars (Warren Hill, Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum, Euge Groove, etc.) also appeared on Warren Hill’s Smooth Jazz Cruise.

On March 17th later that night will be the much-anticipated Berks All-Star Jazz Jam – an exciting festival favorite. Getting everyone into the groove will be bassist Gerald Veasley, guitarists Jeff Golub and Chuck Loeb, trumpeter Rick Braun, pianists Joe McBride and Tom Grant, saxophonists Jeff Kashiwa and Kenny Blake, drummer Keith Carlock ...and more.

joycecooling.jpgThe Joyce Cooling Group performs Friday night, March 18th. Cooling is one of contemporary jazz's most dynamic guitarists. The songwriting duo of guitarist Joyce Cooling and keyboardist/producer Jay Wagner gives the group an exhilarating repertoire of original tunes and a uniquely innovative sound which combines smooth jazz, funky R & B, dance rhythms and Brazilian influences. The Group’s current CD is This Girl’s Got To Play (their Narada Jazz debut), has recently been at the top of the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts. The first single “Expression” was in the top ten on the Radio & Records chart for over six months. In 2003, Cooling also had the hit “Mm, Mm Good” with guest Al Jarreau on scatting vocals from the Third Wish CD (GRP/Verve). Cooling’s first hit radio single “South of Market” was No. 1 on the Radio & Records airplay charts for five weeks in 1997 on her debut CD Playing It Cool (on Heads Up), Following in the popular tracks was Keeping Cool (Heads Up). Joyce Cooling’s very first CD Cameo from 1988 which originally garnered very positive feedback from the press is now available on her website. It’s great to see The Joyce Cooling Group back at the Berks Jazz Fest!

bio_kashiwa.jpgThe Sax Pack featuring Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters and Steve Cole figures to be a great show on Saturday afternoon, March 19th. Kashiwa has been a popular solo artist since 1999, after a decade with The Rippingtons. Waters has a gift for composing and playing a catchy combination of jazz, R&B, funk and pop. Cole has had a bunch of hit singles on the radio and a busy touring schedule. Also on the bill with The Sax Pack is the Chuck Loeb Band.

spyro.jpgThe phenomenal Spyro Gyra performs a late night show on Saturday, March 19th. Spyro Gyra's charm is the band's incredible musicianship and exhilarating shows which make the group one of the most exciting, entertaining groups touring today. Spyro Gyra includes founder and saxophonist Jay Beckenstein, longtime members guitarist Julio Fernandez, keyboardist Tom Schuman, bassist Scott Ambush, and newcomer drummer Ludwig Afonso. The group recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and has earned the devotion of fans with over 10 million albums sold. Spyro Gyra’s musical influences range from contemporary to traditional jazz, latin, and instrumental pop which brilliantly fuse together like a classic Ferrari in top speed. Since being signed to Heads Up in 2001, Spyro Gyra has recorded a number of exceptional CDs, including the current The Deep End (2004). Original Cinema (2003) (on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart for about a year) and In Modern Times (2001) (which was on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Album chart for 64 weeks and went to No. 2). Since the late 1970’s when the group was formed, Spyro Gyra has become a legendary force in the contemporary jazz scene. In 1979, Spyro Gyra had a huge Top 40 pop radio hit “Morning Dance” – the title track to their best-selling album (before there was a smooth jazz radio format and before there were compact discs)! That tune is still a fan favorite, and is part of the group’s classic trademark sound. Since then, the band continues to produce some of the most innovative music in contemporary jazz.

bio_lonnie.jpgIf you dig the soulful sounds of the B-3 hammond organ, and tasty jazz, blues, and Latin riffs, you’ll have a great time at The B-3 Summit. The show features B-3 masters Joey DeFrancesco, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Papa John DeFrancesco with guest saxophonist Tim Warfield on Saturday night, March 19th. Joey DeFrancesco is a B-3 jazz legend and his father Papa John, is the proud patriarch of the musical DeFrancesco family. The super-cool turbanator (he wears that trademark turban) Dr. Lonnie Smith, is an inspired representative of soul jazz. Smith has played on over 70 albums, with artists such as guitarist George Benson, saxophonists ‘Papa’ Lou Donaldson, Joe Lovano, David “Fathead” Newman and organist Jimmy Smith. Back in 1969, Smith was named Top Organist by Downbeat Magazine.

bio_yellowjackets.jpgThe Yellowjackets and the Bob Mintzer Big Band perform a late night show on Friday, March 11th. The Yellowjackets feature keyboardist Russell Ferrante, bassist Jimmy Haslip, saxophonist Bob Mintzer and drummer Marcus Baylor. The group’s music has continued to progress while keeping their special sound. The group signed with Heads Up International in 2003, and released Time Squared, their first CD date in five years, which has a live vibe. In response to fans’ requests, the Yellowjackets released their first Christmas album, Peace Round in 2004. bio_bobmintzer.jpgMintzer, a talented composer/arranger brings a modern edge to the big band format. The Bob Mintzer Big Band received five Grammy Award nominations (and won a Grammy in 2002 for Homage to Count Basie). The latest CD is Bob Mintzer Big Band Live at MCG with special guest Kurt Elling (2004).

bio_jasonmile.jpgThe Miles to Miles Project on Sunday, March 13th, is a stirring account of legendary trumpeter/composer/bandleader Miles Davis - who garnered fame with modal improvisation rather than standard chord changes. Renowned producer/keyboardist Jason Miles’ body of work includes the classic Miles Davis album Tutu. Performing with Jason Miles (on keyboards), are Tom Harrell on trumpet, James Genus on bass, Gene Lake on drums, Dean Brown on guitar, Bernie Worrell on keys, DJ Logic on electronics/TT, and David Sanchez on saxophone (whose CD Coral recently received a Grammy nomination for best large jazz ensemble). This January, Narada Jazz, in collaboration with Rendezvous Entertainment, released the Jason Miles CD, Miles to Miles: Music in the Spirit of Miles Davis.

bio_smith.jpgPercussion lovers will enjoy the show on Monday, March 14th, when Steve Smith and Buddy's Buddies (the Buddy Rich alumni quintet) perform a dynamic percussion salute to drummer Buddy Rich. Smith gained his reputation as superstar drummer of the pop-rock group Journey. He then began leading his own jazz fusion band, Vital Information. Smith and Buddy's Buddies released two CDs in 2003 at the famous London jazz club Ronnie Scott's.

stanleyjordan.jpgOn Tuesday evening March 15th extraordinary master guitarist Stanley Jordan will perform. Jordan’s unparalleled musicianship and creativity includes his special "tapping" technique which brings a rich, orchestral sound that combines classical expertise and jazz sensibilities. Back in 1985, Jordan jump-started his career with the smooth jazz radio hit cover of “The Lady in My Life” on his Blue Note records debut Stanley Jordan (which also featured elegant versions of songs such as “Eleanor Rigby,” “Freddie Freeloader,” “Round Midnight”).

bio_wooten.jpgOn Friday, March 18th there will also be a show with Victor Wooten, one of the most celebrated electric bassists with his outstanding technique and down-to-earth grooves. Wooten is an accomplished solo artist and his performances as a member Bela Fleck and The Flecktones have gained him global recognition.

bio_johnpizzarelli.jpgThe John Pizzarelli Trio and the Reading Pops Orchestra headline the sixth annual Skip Norcott Memorial Concert early Saturday evening March 19th. Pizzarelli is an accomplished guitarist and vocalist. Pizzarelli’s vocals and presence are reminiscent of a suave young Frank Sinatra (both are from New Jersey) with the coolness of contemporary Harry Connick Jr. Pizzarelli established an impressive reputation for interpreting jazz standards (ballad and uptempo swing) and the Great American Songbook. John Pizzarelli usually performs with brother Martin Pizzarelli on bass and Ray Kennedy on piano. John Pizzarelli began playing guitar at age 6, following in his father’s (guitar legend Bucky Pizzarelli) footsteps. At 20, John went on the road with the elder statesman, before starting his solo career (father Bucky has sometimes played on his son’s records). John Pizzarelli’s debut CD was I'm Hip — Please Don't Tell My Father (1983). In 1999, Pizzarelli signed with Telarc and has since released Kisses in the Rain (1999), Let There Be Love (2000), The Rare Delight of You with veteran pianist George Shearing (2002), Live at Birdland (2003) to celebrate his trio’s 10th anniversary and the recent Bossa Nova (2004) bringing Brazilian sounds to a new generation. So far, Pizzarelli has recorded 19 albums. Some of his earlier CDS include: My Blue Heaven (1990 Chesky), All of Me (1991- RCA) Dear Mr. Cole (1994 RCA - a tribute to Nat “King” Cole), One Night With You (1996 Chesky), After Hours (1996), Our Love is Here to Stay (1997), Let's Share Christmas (1997) and John Pizzarelli Meets the Beatles (1998 RCA). In addition to his ‘regular’ gigs, back in 1993, Pizzarelli opened for Frank Sinatra and later performed at Sinatra’s 80th birthday at Carnegie Hall. Also, in 1997 Pizzarelli played a lead role in Dream, a Broadway show of Johnny Mercer songs. Pizzarelli and his trio also appeared in the 1999 Goldie Hawn/Steve Martin The Out of Towners, performing “That Old Black Magic.” In 2004, Pizzarelli led a 40-member live orchestra at Radio City Music Hall in “Sinatra: His Voice, His World, His Way.”

shemekia.jpgSuperstar vocalist, Harlem-born Shemekia Copeland (daughter of the late blues legend Johnny Clyde Copeland) performs on Saturday night, March 19th. Copeland's alto exudes powerful energy and emotions. Since 1997, her recording debut at age 18, Copeland has established an impressive reputation earning W.C. Handy Awards and Living Blues Awards, as well as a Grammy nomination. Copeland has received national TV exposure on Austin City Limits, Late Night With Conan O’Brien (twice), the CBS Saturday Early Show, and National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and has been featured in many magazine and newspaper articles and reviews. Rock legend Robert Plant described Copeland as “the next Tina Turner.” In recent years, Copeland released CDs such Wicked (which received a Grammy nomination) and Talking To Strangers, a blues-soul-rock combination produced by Dr. John.

From one teenage sensation to another, The Eric Steckel Band will open for Copeland. Steckel is originally from Allentown, PA (also hometown to trumpeter Rick Braun). Last year, Steckl’s spirited and soulful guitar playing made him the youngest person to perform on stage with John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers, when Steckl appeared in Sweden, Norway and Denmark as a special guest of Mayall and his band during their Scandinavian Tour. The Eric Steckel Band's debut CD, A Few Degrees Warmer, was recorded live in April 2002 when Eric was only 11 years old! Steckl delivers a Freddy-BB-Albert King influenced performance with an intensity and skill of someone decades older than his current tender age of 14. Steckel’s band includes the multi-talented Wayne Smith on drums and "The Bassplayer," Nick Franclik, often with Steve Patterson on B-3 Hammond organ. In November 2003, Steckel was presented with The Lehigh Valley Music Award for Outstanding Electric Guitar. In 2004, The Band released its first full studio CD High Action.

bio_warfield.jpgThe Tim Warfield Sextet performs a traditional jazz Saturday afternoon, March 19th with Tim Warfield on saxophone and an all-star band with Stefon Harris on vibes, Cyrus Chestnut on piano, Terell Stafford on trumpet, Clarence Penn on drums and Rodney Whitaker on bass. Opening for them will be teenage singer Sonya Kitchell, known for her warm vocals and songwriting.

magicslim.jpgChicago blues explosion Magic Slim & The Teardrops plus opening act Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials perform a late night jam on Friday, March 18th. Magic Slim is considered one of the greatest living proponents of the intense, electrified Mississippi-to-Chicago blues style that created modern blues. Magic Slim & The Teardrops is one of the busiest and best-loved blues bands on the road today. From smokin’ slide guitar riffs to duck walking to flying leaps to raw-boned Chicago shuffles to the deepest blues, the 5-foot, 1-inch Lil' Ed Williams and The Blues Imperials perform a wild and crazy show.

On Wednesday, March 16th, the Ladies of Jazz featuring Sharon Bailey, Suzie Ernesto, Toni Lynne will bring their wonderful vocal finesse to traditional jazz standards, including ballads, swing, Bossa Nova, Latin and blues. Also, there will be a show with Michael Manring & David Cullen on March 14th. In 2001, Berks County guitarist David Cullen teamed up with California-based electric bass legend Michael Manring to produce the CD Equilibré. Cullen also tours the U.S. with Windham Hill’s Winter Solstice tour. He also recently was nominated for a Grammy Award for his role in a Henry Mancini tribute CD that’s been nominated for best instrumental pop record. Manring was Bass Player Magazine's 1994 "Bassist of the Year", a Bammy and Grammy-nominee, and recipient of Berklee College of Music's "Distinguished Alumni Award." Another concert includes John Doughten with the Brooks Tegler Trio. On Thursday, March 17th, listeners can hear Jazz French horn with the Erwin Chandler Band.

TomGrant2.jpgFrom Wednesday, March 16th through Saturday, March 19th, smooth jazz pianist/vocalist/composer Tom Grant will perform four dinner shows at the Wyndham Reading Hotel. Grant released his debut album in 1976, and has since recorded twenty CDs for a number of labels (e.g., Verve, Shanachie and Windham Hill). Grant’s most recent CDs are on his own label, nu-wrinkle, and include a traditional jazz CD Nice Work If You Can Get It (2004) and Solo Piano (2003). Before embarking on his solo career, Grant worked with jazz greats Woody Shaw, Joe Henderson, Dexter Gordon, Charles Lloyd and Tony Williams (1979-81). In 1997, Grant was named a Steinway pianist, the only non-classical pianist in the U.S. to receive that honorary title in the Pacific Northwest. Grant’s had numerous hits at the top of the Smooth Jazz charts. Radio-friendly favorites by Grant include beautiful original tunes from the CD Lip Service (Shanachie 1997) such as the title track and “Love and Desire” and great covers of songs like Earth Wind & Fire’s “Fantasy” from Grant’s Instinct CD (Shanachie 1996). Grant brings catchy, upbeat melodies, R & B grooves, and his trademark gorgeously lush sophisticated, uplifting improvisations to the acoustic piano. Grant will also participate at the Berks Jazz Fest Jam.

Every year, Berks Jazz Fest also offers community concerts. This year's special event offers the U.S. Air Force Rhythm in Blue Jazz Ensemble featuring trumpet master Terell Stafford on Tuesday, March 15th, and Wednesday, March 16th. Stafford trumpet-playing combines lyricism and melody with a vibrant excitement. He has performed with Jon Faddis' Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Wynton Marsalis' Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Mingus Big Band and the Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Also, on Wednesday, March 16th, talented young local musicians will perform in the Berks High School All-Star Jazz Band and the University of the Arts Jazz Singers.

This year’s Fest also has three different brunch shows. The Blues Brunch & Jam happens on Saturday, March 19th. Mike Guldin and Rollin' & Tumblin' will host and perform at the jam with players from all over the region. Guldin, a guitarist and singer, has been influenced by blues legends Muddy Waters and B.B. King; bluesy rockers Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers, Stevie Ray Vaughn and the Rolling Stones; R&B/soul icons Sam and Dave, and Booker T. and the MGs; and southern-rock’s Lynyrd Skynyrd. Guldin’s stinging guitar and soulful vocals are backed by the raucous sounds of Rollin' & Tumblin.' The WJJZ Smooth Jazz Brunch is an annual festival highlight, and this year's morning and early afternoon shows on Sunday, March 20th will be a culinary delight and musical treat with smooth jazz saxophonist Michael Lington. Lington will bring his trademark soulful, romantic music in celebration of life and love. There is also the Sunday Jazz Brunch on March 20th which showcases the lush alto of Amy Banks and the Steve Rudolph Trio. Banks melds jazz, folk pop and mellow gospel influences in a silky, sultry way. Steve Rudolph, from nearby Harrisburg, PA is a jazz pianist, composer, arranger and educator who has helped establish the thriving jazz scene in central Pennsylvania.

fourplay.jpgThe festival’s grand finale An Evening with Fourplay takes place in the early evening on Sunday, March 20th. Fourplay includes four of the world's most revered and accomplished individual recording and performing artists: keyboardist Bob James, drummer Harvey Mason, bassist Nathan East and guitarist Larry Carlton. The group will bring their popular brand of contemporary jazz which combines R&B, pop, rock, blues, classical and jazz. This year, Fourplay's CD Journey received a Grammy nomination for best contemporary jazz album. Also, the song "Speak Like A Child" from Mason's All My Heart CD received a Grammy nomination for best jazz instrumental solo.

Hope to see you and your friends in March at the 2005 Berks Jazz Fest – one of the best contemporary jazz festivals in the world! It may be cold outside, but inside, the shows will be hot!

Detailed information on concert schedules, tickets, hotel and other visitor information for this year’s festival is available at www.berksjazzfest.com. Tickets can be purchased online at the website, or by phone: 1-610-898-7298. Ticket orders can also be placed by fax by downloading the official order form from the website and faxing back the completed form to 1-610-898-7297. Tickets can also be obtained by calling Ticketmaster at 1-215-336-2000 or visiting www.ticketmaster.com. Also when you arrive, read through the excellent free Reading Eagle Berks Jazz Fest newspaper supplement for details on all of the artists, shows and visitor information.

In addition to all of the great ticketed events, Berks Jazz Fest always includes a number of entertaining free non-ticketed shows. This year, the town is once again brimming over with lots of talented musicians who will perform at brunch, lunch, dinner and after-dinner, and late-night events, from jazz, to blues, to rock and Sunday jazz worship services at various venues. Check the website www.berksjazzfest.com for details on times and places of non-ticketed events.

Here is a list of the artists who will perform at the non-ticketed events: Gerald Veasley & Friends (Base Boot Camp Jam II); Tom Grant; Sax Summit featuring Larry McKenna, Tim Price, Chris Heslop and Tom Strohman; The Groovemasters; Sharon Bailey Quartet; Neil Wright; Bill Bower & Ray Allen; Chuck Cahoe; Relatively Speaking; Sharon Bailey & Mike Moran; Josh Taylor Trio; VIH Band featuring Smokin’ Charlie Paplosky and Slim Tim Risbon; John King's Dance Band; Burning House; Dave Mell Blues Band; Steve Katzenmoyer Trio featuring Cathy Williamson; Ken Gehret & Steve Rudolph; Erwin Chandler Trio; Tony Sands; Bluebone; Rob Diener & Anomaly; Robbi K & Friends; The Duo; Ken Gehret & Al Seifarth plus special guest Andy Roberts; Bill Bower & Peter Valencia; Pretzel City Dixieland Jazz Band; David Cullen; Acoustic Roadshow hosted by Butch Imhoff; the Kutztown University Alumni Jazz Band; Alligator Zydeco; Bones of Contention featuring Doc Mulligan; Chuck Dressler; Jim Smale; Jennifer Kinder & Erich Cawala; Berks Jazz Project with Gerry Werner, Gary Wentzel, and others; Cabana Boys; Third Stream; Frank Guido; Duck Soup & The Fowl Mouth Horns; Bunchafunk; Groove Dawgs; D3 & Company; Burning House; Royal Scam; Ken Brader; The Crosswinds Trio; and Rhett Tyler.

If the abundance of great music is not enough, Berks County is also known for its shopping. Reading, Pennsylvania is center for many shopping outlet stores. There will also be a Humane Society of Berks County Local Artists Art Auction.

The Berks Jazz Fest has a terrific management team, which includes Connie Leinbach - Executive Director; Chuck Koch - President of the board and Chairperson of the event; John Ernesto – Festival General Manager & Talent coordination/booking manager; Gary Spencer – Production Manager; Mike Anderson – Marketing Director; Mike Zielinski – Publicity Director; Catharine Catanach and Jim Connors – Sponsorship Development; Transportation Coordinator – John Graff; Merchandise: BAC Staff; Workshops/Youth Activities team: Tom Brown, Mike Eben, Doc Mulligan, Al Seifarth, John Rozum and Carl Zeplin; and Ticketing by SMG.

The Berks Arts Council includes: Connie Leinbach, Gary Spencer, Bob Coleman, Brenda Hartman and David Edgar Guest. There are also hundreds of dedicated volunteers for the Berks Arts Council and throughout the Berks County community and surrounding Philadelphia area. The Berks Arts Council is the premier arts organization in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Its mission is to encourage and promote all the arts, to develop an appreciation of the arts and to enrich and enhance the quality of life in Berks County. Formally organized as a nonprofit organization in 1971, the Berks Arts Council’s offices are located in the Pagoda, Reading’s most visible landmark and tourist attraction.

NOTE: The author, Val Vaccaro, would like to thank Mike Zielinski - Publicity Director for the Berks Jazz Fest, and Peter Boehi - SmoothVibes.com Publisher for their valuable assistance in making this article possible.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:17 AM

January 14, 2005

Alexander Zonjic honored with three nominations and will host inaugural canadian smooth jazz awards

AlexanderZonjic2.jpgJazz flutist Alexander Zonjic has been nominated for three awards and will host the first-ever Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards to be held April 10 at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts near Toronto. Zonjic’s diverse nominations are for Album of the Year for Seldom Blues, for Best Wind Instrumentalist and for Broadcaster of the Year.

Zonjic was raised and still lives in Windsor, Ontario. He is also host of a popular daily morning show on Detroit’s Smooth Jazz V98.7 (WVMV-FM).

"Canadian Smooth Jazz musicians finally have an awards program to recognize their artistry," said Zonjic. The event was created by Doug and Mary Kirk, owners of The Wave (radio) in Hamilton, Ontario, and Smooth Jazz Now (on-line magazine) editor John Beaudin. Fans will determine the winners via an on-line poll. To vote, fans should visit www.canadiansmoothjazzawards.com. Voting is now open to an international audience.

Top nominees for the inaugural ceremony include Diana Krall, Eddie Bullen, Brian Hughes, Marc Jordan and Alexander Zonjic all with three. Confirmed to perform are guitarist Brian Hughes, vocalist Carol Welsman, who is a double nominee, and Warren Hill who is up for Saxophonist Of The Year.

The first Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards will also pay tribute to on of the biggest trailblazers in the genre - George Benson. The guitar legend will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement prize appropriately titled The Benson Award. Each year a different trendsetter in the world of Smooth Jazz will receive The Benson. International Smooth Jazz artists have also been recognized. Marc Antoine, Anita Baker, Euge Groove, Dave Koz and Peter White are the nominees.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:52 AM

January 10, 2005

Peter White Plays To Strengths At Seattle’s Jazz Alley

Guitarist Peter White was in his element at several shows in Seattle.

In front of large festival crowds – where often the music is secondary anyway – clinking wine classes and friendly chatter can drown out the many charms of Peter White. White strums mostly romantic, classy acoustic guitar pop songs best served in an intimate, acoustically friendly setting.

White glowed in such an environment during a four-day run at Seattle’s Jazz Alley – his third trip to the venue – where packed houses chowed on good food and happily took in White’s melodic sounds. Playing two sets a night, White projected energy and gave the audiences its just desserts.

He played his former No. 1 song, “Talkin’ Bout Love,” from his most recent CD, Confidential, and also naturally his current hit, “How Does It Feel.” On that song, memorably mixing in what White calls the “weird guitar” of producer Matthew Hager, bassist Donald Patterson stepped in a few times to handle the weird guitar lines.

One of White’s upfront appeals is his good-natured camaraderie with his audience, which was in full display in Seattle. He took side trips to the sounds that have inspired him – Motown and soul classic such as “Who’s That Lady,” “My Cherie Amour” and “I Can See Clearly Now.” He invited the audience to sing along with the songs, and they managed capably.

Since White is an instrumentalist, he wisely uses the many talents of bandmember David Sparkman, a keyboardist and vocalist. His vocals on several songs provided a welcome change. Saxophonist Michael Paulo kept the groove spicy, drawing whoops and hollers for his sax solos. He can dance, too.

Perhaps because he had visited Seattle’s Experience Music Project and its large number of Jimi Hendrix memorabilia, White frequently switched his music box to the electric guitar mode and showed that he could probably sustain a career as a rock guitarist. He’d have to grow his hair out a bit, though.

For an encore, White returned to the Motown era with Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On,” sprinkling in a few “Get On Up” riffs from funk master James Brown.

It was a perfect ending to a great show, with one of smooth jazz’s most influential players in his element.

Posted by Brian Soergel at 8:34 PM

December 8, 2004

Chaka Khan releases ClassiKhan

Watch out for Chaka Khan's latest release entitled ClassiKhan


ChakaKhan_bw.jpgSince her arrival on the scene in the early 1970’s, Chaka Khan has been setting standards in most every music genre: Pop, Rhythm & Blues, Rock, Disco, Fusion, Jazz, Hip-Hop and even classical. Today, Chaka Khan is an 8 time Grammy Award winning musical icon who is known and loved by millions of fans around the world. Over the years, Chaka has built a strong bond and intimacy with her fans while perfecting her craft and bringing her own special brand of energy and dynamism to her live performances.

Her reputation as an exciting onstage performer goes back to her early years when Rufus featuring Chaka Khan began to make an unrivalled impact on the music world with one platinum album, five gold albums, five gold singles and five number one hits as well as two Grammy Awards. Among those many endearing hits: “Sweet Thing,” “Tell Me Something Good,” “Once You Get Started,” “Everlasting Love,” “ Do You Love What You Feel,” and “Ain’t Nobody.”

Launching her solo career with I’m Every Woman, a tune written especially for her by the legendary songwriting team of Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson, Chaka has recorded nine albums and been honored with countless awards. A constant fixture on the global best-selling charts, Khan’s classic hits include: “What Cha Gonna Do For Me?” “Clouds,” the million-selling “I Feel For You,” and “Through The Fire.” Much-loved and admired by her peers, Chaka has constantly worked with some of the music world’s icons, starting with Stevie Wonder who wrote “Tell Me Something Good” especially for Chaka and Rufus and moving onto other superstars like her dear friend Joni Mitchell, world-class producer Quincy Jones and R&B icon Gladys Knight. Other diverse musical talents she has collaborated with include: Dizzy Gillespie, Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Lenny White, Bobby McFerrin, Eric Clapton, Fourplay, Peter Cetera, Phil Collins and Miles Davis. Chaka’s collaboration with veteran rappers, De La Soul on the single “All Good?” spent twelve weeks on Billboard’s Rap Single Chart.

Chaka’s work has not been limited to the studio and stage. Expressing her admiration for children, Chaka recorded the theme song for Levar Burton’s PBS series Reading Rainbow. She has also been inducted to the Sesame Street family, performing with Elmo and Telly. She proudly performs for charity benefits that aid women and children in crisis. In 1999, the Chaka Khan Foundation was established to offer drug and alcohol treatment and services, programs to help women and children transition out of a life of poverty and support programs that assisted battered women. The foundation also assists in the treatment and preventative education of HIV and Hepatitis. It also assists communities with their efforts to encourage artistic, cultural and racial expression as an effort to break down racial barriers. Of this endeavor, Chaka simply says, “It’s time to build up and time to give back.”

Khan an avid film fan, has been involved with the recording of fifteen movie soundtracks. She can be heard on the multi-platinum Waiting to Exhale soundtrack performing “My Funny Valentine” for a new generation. She was nominated for a Grammy Award for her collaboration with Bruce Hornsby on “Love Me Still” which was featured on Spike Lee’s Clockers. Other soundtracks include: Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar, White Knights, Miami Vice, Moscow on the Hudson, Disappearing Acts, Have A Little Faith In Me. Chaka and Michael MacDonald recorded the theme song “For Your Love” for the hit television series of the same name. The Yardbirds classic provided Chaka with the opportunity to add yet another gem to a list of outstanding duets that includes “I’ll Be Good To You” with Ray Charles and “Higher Love” with Steve Winwood – both recordings were Grammy Award winners.

Over the years, Chaka has expanded her creativity by taking to the theatrical stage: she was featured in a lead role in the London West End production of Mama, I Want to Sing. Her performance that earned her London’s “1995 Capitol Radio Listener’s Poll Award for London’s Best Actress.” In 1996, the State of Illinois and City of Chicago declared Oct 19th as Chaka Kkan Day. The same year she was presented with the “Lena Horne Lady of Soul Award” and the Soul Train’s “Career Achievement Award.”

Chaka has spent the last few years performing and preparing the release of ClassiKhan which is the debut release on her Earthsong Record Label. Indeed, ClassiKhan is aptly titled for it features the renowned London Symphony Orchestra accompanying Chaka onsongs such as Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is?” and “The Best Is Yet To Come.” Working on ten songs with producer/arranger Eve Nelson and famed musician Joe Sample on three tracks, Chaka recorded her vocals in London mostly at the famous Abbey Road Studios and many done live with the London Symphony. “That orchestra added a special dimension to the process of recording,” Chaka recalls. “I adore them. They are unaffected people who know their art. Working with them, there was a true and honest beauty without a whole lot of fanfare.”

Chaka’s song choices for ClassiKhan ran the musical gamut: “Hey Big Spender,” “I’m In The Mood For Love,” Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” “The Best Is Yet To Come” and “To Sir With Love” (the first single off the disc) which Chaka explains “Well, “To Sir With Love” is just a beautiful song. Not too many people have done it before and when I sing it, I think of my father and the song is dedicated to him.” The album’s closing cut, the poignant yet lyrically powerful “I Believe,” a Khan-penned original.

ClassiKhan comes on the heels of a highly productive period for Chaka in which the Chicago-born-multi-talented singer, songwriter and musician has added several milestones to an already impressive career. In 2003, Chaka’s frank and candid autobiography Chaka! Through The Fire was published with rave reviews. Chaka also created her own line of chocolates Chakalates which can be found in all twenty two Neimen Marcus stores and as a testament to the enduring nature of her music and her influence on a whole generation of today’s performers, hip-hop artist and producer Kayne West had a huge hit this year with “Through The Wire” (which contained samples of “Through the Fire) as an homage to Chaka adding to the array of covers Khan classics such as “Sweet Thing,” revisited by Mary J. Blige and “I’m Every Women,” revived by Whitney Houston (fifteen years after it became Chaka’s first hit as a solo artist).

Sound samples (Real Audio): To Sir with Love, Stormy Weather

Khan currently resides in Los Angeles.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 12:12 PM

December 2, 2004

Concord Records Completes Acquisition Of Fantasy, Inc.

Two Companies Merged to Form the CONCORD MUSIC GROUP, INC., A New Leader in Independent, Adult-Focused Recorded Music

Tailwind Capital Partners Partner With Norman Lear and Hal Gaba to Provide Equity Financing

Concord Records, Inc. and Fantasy, Inc. today announced that Concord has completed its acquisition of Fantasy and has merged the two companies to form a new entity called the Concord Music Group, Inc. 

Concord Records is a prominent 31-year-old, active record label focused on jazz, traditional pop and adult contemporary formats that is currently enjoying considerable success in 2004 with the multi-platinum release of Ray Charles’ final recording, Genius Loves Company (in association with Starbucks Hear Music™). Fantasy owns one of the world’s largest and most prestigious catalogs of jazz, blues, R&B and rock music, including certain music publishing assets and legendary recordings by John Coltrane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Ella Fitzgerald, Vince Guaraldi, Isaac Hayes, Little Richard, Albert King, Thelonious Monk, Joe Pass, Art Pepper, Otis Redding, Sonny Rollins, and numerous others. Fantasy also owns and operates the world-class Fantasy Recording Studios in Berkeley, California. Following the merger, the Concord Music Group will be one of the foremost adult-focused recorded music companies in the world.

As part of the transaction, Tailwind Capital Partners, a leading private equity investment firm focused on media and other growth sectors of the economy, provided new equity capital to the Concord Music Group.  The existing owners of Concord Records, Norman Lear and Hal Gaba, remain substantial shareholders in the combined entity.  Concord’s management will also have a share of the new company.

Ralph Kaffel, President of Fantasy, said, “During the negotiations and due diligence process, we got to know the principals and key employees of Concord quite well, which re-affirmed the correctness of our initial judgment that Concord is the proper home for our catalogs.  Having spent fifty years in the record business, 33 of them at Fantasy building up the catalogs, my primary concern as well as that of the other principals, was that the acquiring entity should have the proper understanding and respect for the treasure that we are turning over to them, and be willing to perpetuate the historical legacy these catalogs represent. With Norman, Hal, Glen Barros and all the other talented people now at the helm at the Concord Music Group, my colleagues and I are convinced the Fantasy catalog is in very good hands.”

Glen Barros, President and CEO at Concord, and now president and chief executive officer of the Concord Music Group, said “I am incredibly honored to be in a position to help carry the Fantasy legacy into the future. I am so enthusiastic about this merger, about working with the talented professionals involved from both sides, and the great opportunities for the combined companies going forward.”.
Douglas M. Karp and Lawrence B. Sorrel, co-chief executive officers of Tailwind, said “Concord Music Group targets an attractive, underserved niche with strong brands and an incredible catalog of content with proven value.  Together, these two companies have considerable prospects for growth by exploiting complementary catalogs as well as to create substantial shareholder value through operational efficiencies.  We look forward to working together with Norman, Hal, Glen and the rest of this world-class management team to realize that promise.”


ABOUT CONCORD

Concord Records is widely regarded as one of the preeminent record companies in the industry today, committed to offering the adult music audience inspiring, innovative and high quality recordings of jazz and popular music. With a family of labels that now includes several partnerships and imprints (Peak Records, Stretch, Playboy Jazz, Concord Picante and more), Concord has amassed a catalog of over 1,000 albums from such legendary artists as Ray Brown, Charlie Byrd, Rosemary Clooney, Herb Ellis, Stan Getz, Gene Harris Tito Puente, and Mel Tormé, among others.  The label’s current roster of world-class vocal and instrumental artists includes: Karrin Allyson, Patti Austin, Regina Belle, Peter Cincotti, Michael Feinstein, Nnenna Freelon, Robben Ford, Latoya London, Marian McPartland, Barry Manilow, Ozomatli, Eddie Palmieri, The Rippingtons, Poncho Sanchez, and Curtis Stigers.


ABOUT FANTASY

Fantasy, Inc. is home of one of the largest and most prestigious collections of jazz and blues music in the world.  The label's first artist was Dave Brubeck, and recordings by Cal Tjader, Gerry Mulligan/Chet Baker, Vince Guaraldi (whose A Charlie Brown Christmas is a perennial seasonal best-seller), Mongo Santamaria and John Lee Hooker soon followed. In 1968, just one year after Fantasy was purchased by Saul Zaentz, currently Fantasy’s Chairman and a triple Academy Award-winning film producer, Creedence Clearwater Revival released its debut recording. Within 18-months, the band scored no fewer than 20 Hot 100 singles and nine consecutive top 10 singles in the U.S; eventually they would become one of the most successful four-man Rock N’ Roll bands of all time, earning at least 21 RIAA-certified gold or platinum records.

Today, the Fantasy labels include Contemporary/Good Time Jazz, Debut, Fantasy, Galaxy, Kicking Mule, Milestone, Pablo, Prestige/New Jazz, Riverside/Jazzland, Stax/Volt/Enterprise, Specialty and Takoma. The company's publishing assets include the catalogs of Cireco Music, Composers Music, Contemporary Music, Jondora Music, Orpheum Music, Parker Music and Prestige Music. Fantasy’s catalog of original soundtrack recordings includes music from the Academy Award winners for Best Picture Amadeus, The English Patient, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, as well as the original animated version of The Lord of the Rings.


ABOUT TAILWIND

Tailwind Capital Partners is a private equity firm focused on the growth sectors of the economy including media and communications, healthcare, technology and business services.  Tailwind manages Thomas Weisel Capital Partners L.P., a $1.3 billion private equity fund affiliated with investment banking firm Thomas Weisel Partners LLC with backing from leading institutional investors. Tailwind’s portfolio of over 25 companies includes NextMedia (radio broadcasting), Trover Solutions, Inc. (insurance services), Aircast Incorporated (orthopedic devices), Hospital Partners of America (hospital management), and Ion Systems (technology capital equipment). Tailwind’s team of 15 dedicated investment professionals brings to bear an exceptional combination of private equity and operating experience and is headquartered in New York and San Francisco.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 11:31 PM

November 18, 2004

Tony Adamo & Ernie Watts Record at Cherokee Studios

Tony_Adamo_bw.jpgTwo-time Grammy winner Ernie Watts layed down horn tracks for contemporary jazz vocalist, Tony Adamo’s new Soul Jazz CD at the legendary Cherokee Recording Studios, Los Angeles, California. This is the second time Watts has recorded with Adamo. Their first recording was on Adamo’s CD, Dance Of Love on Rhombus Records. Dance Of Love is currently receiving airplay in the US and Canada.

Jerry Stucker is again producing Adamo’s new Soul Jazz CD to be released early in 2005. (The buzz on this new CD started when Al Schmitt, Capitol Studios recently mixed three of Adamo’s songs for this new CD). The Robb brothers, owners of Cherokee have always been knocked out by Watts’ soulful playing and were delighted to have him record at their studio. Ernie began the recording session with War’s, “The World is a Ghetto.” Adamo’s vocals and Stucker’s arrangement might make this a jazz radio staple. The next song up, an original, “Wouldn’t You Like to Know” could generate a Nora Jones like response. The groove train was really hitting the tracks hard as Ernie stretched out and worked his magic on the Grover Washington Jr. tune, “Winelight,” with lyrics by Kurt Elling. Together, the magic vibe of Adamo’s silky smooth vocals and Watts’ mighty tenor wrapped itself around “Winelight,” and may just break this new artist to the public and get Watts nominated for another Grammy. Let the magic begin!

For more on Tony Adamo go to www.jazznow.com

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:15 AM

November 17, 2004

American Idol Finalist, Latoya London, Signs Record Deal With Peak Records

Latoya_London.jpgFans of Latoya London, who won the hearts of audiences across the United States with her stunning and powerful performances on the 2004 season of American Idol, need wait no longer for her debut CD. The 25-year old singer today signed her first record deal with independent label Peak Records (www.peakrecords.com).

Latoya was widely considered an odds-on favorite to win this year’s American Idol competition on FOX- TV. Her elimination in one of the final rounds of the series stunned fans nationwide, while the studio erupted into boos and jeers. As testament to her popularity, the singer has been much in demand since she departed the show, touring with the other contestants over the summer and making numerous public appearances.

Peak Records President Andi Howard, has grand plans for her newest artist. “Latoya will follow in the footsteps of Whitney Houston and the other great female R&B singers that shaped the genre. She’s smart, beautiful, witty and incredibly talented. When I saw her perform on American Idol, I was simply blown away. I am absolutely delighted that she has now joined our family.”

The Beverly Hills-based label is partnered with Concord Records (www.concordrecords.com), which recently scored a multi-platinum hit with Genius Loves Company, the final recording from music legend Ray Charles. The company’s roster has included some of the biggest artists in R&B and contemporary jazz, such as Regina Belle, Glenn Jones, Phil Perry, David Benoit, The Rippingtons, and Paul Taylor. Latoya is currently working with the Peak team on material for her debut release, which will primarily feature R&B originals, although the diminutive singer promises to also bring fans a number of genre favorites. The CD is expected in summer of 2005 with recording to begin in January.

Latoya London, a native of Oakland, CA, has a busy holiday season ahead with appearances as the Grand Marshal of the Amazing Kids Parade in Orlando, FL (11/26), the Oakland Holiday Parade (12/4) and the San Jose Holiday Parade (12/5). Also on December 5th, Latoya performs for the Richmond / Ermet AIDS Foundation in San Francisco, and on December 11, she appears at the 16th Annual “100 Black Men of the Bay Area” gala which raises funds for youth mentoring and education.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:29 PM

November 6, 2004

Smooth Jazz Goddess Keiko Matsui To Perform Holiday Concert at Bowers Museum on Dec. 12

World renowned pianist highlights fund-raising event for children’s education programs at Kidseum, the Bowers’ acclaimed children’s art center.

keiko-matsui_child.jpgSmooth jazz goddess Keiko Matsui will perform a special holiday concert in the spectacular setting of the Bowers Museum picturesque courtyard on December 12, 2004, from 5-9:30 p.m.

Holiday Concert featuring Keiko Matsui and Special Guests will benefit the Bowers' education programs at its acclaimed children’s art center, Kidseum, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in December. 

The event, which is sponsored by Good Neighbor Pharmacy, will feature a reception and buffet dinner prepared by the world-class, award-winning restaurant, Tangata.

Tickets are $75 and are available at the Bowers Museum box office or by visiting www.museumtix.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (877) 250-8999.

Keiko Matsui has recorded 17 CDs and albums, and has been honored as the Top Indie Contemporary Jazz Artist of The Year by Billboard Magazine. She has also earned accolades with the American Society Essence Award, the National Smooth Jazz Award and Best Female Artist.

“We’re ecstatic to have a musician as great as Keiko Matsui perform at our annual children’s education program fundraiser,” says Bowers Museum Executive Vice President Vickie Byrd. “She’s not only a marvelously talented and dynamic jazz artist, she is also a wonderful human being who is always giving of herself to the community.”

Music, art and education are at the forefront of Keiko’s life, along with her family. She creates music that helps heal a world in turmoil. Her music communicates messages of peace, compassion, and humanity to listeners around the world.

Keiko draws inspiration from the power struggles depicted in classic literature and opera, and hopes that "if people listen to the music for just a moment, they might stop thinking of the power struggles they have day-to-day with family, neighbors, or co-workers.” Her hope is that “music can give us all a sense of balance and peace in our lives – peace and a sense of responsibility to carry that message in our hearts wherever we go and to whomever we meet."

From her debut album in 1987 A Drop Of Water and subsequent recordings such as Under Northern Lights (1990), Cherry Blossom (1992), Sapphire (1995), Dream Walk (1996), Full Moon (1998) and The Ring (2002), Keiko has cemented her reputation and increased her popularity throughout the world

Kidseum, one of the most unique children’s art and education centers in the country, offers a wide variety of art and educational events and programs, and presents an array of fun-filled activities. “We open new worlds to children and families,” says Genevieve Southgate, manager of Kidseum.

Kidseum is an outlet for children to explore and expand on fresh ideas nourished by the hands-on atmosphere at the facility. The facility encourages children to use their imagination. For instance, Kidseum has costumes and masks from all different countries for the kids to try on, an excavation site for archeological digs, an electronic language center, dozens of instruments, a table where children can write their names in different languages, a book nook, and puppets from all over the world.   

Kidseum has such a powerful impact that, according to a teachers survey, 92 percent of the children who participate in events improve behaviorally, 90 percent improve academically, 83 percent produce completed homework and 88 percent improve attendance.

The Bowers Museum, located at 2002 N. Main Street in historic Santa Ana, is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The museum features six exhibitions, including Queen of Sheba: Legend and Reality, Bridges to Understanding: Portraits by Phil Borges, Vision of the Shaman, and California: The Golden Years. The Bowers also offers a world-class dining and shopping experience with its restaurant Tangata and two eclectic gallery stores.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:00 AM

November 2, 2004

Heads Up Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Founded by musician/entrepreneur Dave Love in 1990, Heads Up International celebrates its 15th anniversary as one of the world’s premier crossover jazz labels with debut releases from saxophonists Najee, Walter Beasley and Michael Brecker, among others.

Having signed “the most influential tenor stylist of the last 25 years” (Jazziz Magazine), Heads Up has much to celebrate in 2005. “I’m delighted to join an organization which is fast becoming a force in contemporary instrumental music,” says Brecker. “Congratulations to Dave Love and Heads Up on their first 15 years!”

Heads Up will be honored in March with concerts at the Berks Jazz Fest in Reading, Pennsylvania, and the North Sea Jazz Festival in Cape Town, South Africa.

In 2005, the company also releases exciting new recordings by jazz fusion pioneers Yellowjackets and Hiroshima, steel pan master Andy Narell with his French-Caribbean band Sakésho, and label veterans pianist/vocalist Joe McBride and bassist Gerald Veasley.

“I’ve been fortunate to be a part of the Heads Up family since 1992 and have watched its remarkable evolution,” Veasley says. “Through the determination of its hard-working president, Dave Love, and his great staff, Heads Up has grown in stature and influence in the jazz community. It’s especially gratifying to me, since they believed in me at a time when there were precious few bassists who were solo recording artists. Now, six recordings later, I credit Heads Up with making it possible for me to have shared my music with listeners around the world.”

The Heads Up Africa series, a critically acclaimed collection that spotlights some of Southern Africa’s finest vocalists and instrumentalists, continues with captivating new releases from trumpeter Hugh Masekela, singer/songwriter Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi from Zimbabwe and the legendary Zulu vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

“When we first met the people at Heads Up International, they said they loved our singing,” says Joseph Shabalala, leader and founder of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. “Since that time we’ve worked very hard together and because of Heads Up, not only do they love our singing but thousands in America love our singing.”

With over 90 albums in its catalog to date, Heads Up has a short but rich history, winning numerous awards including the AFIM’s Independent Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year for Pieces of a Dream's Love’s Silhouette and a Grammy nomination in 2004 for YellowjacketsTime Squared, and producing some of the world's most critically-acclaimed releases of the past fifteen years, including the Jaco Pastorius Big Band’s Word of Mouth Revisited and Paquito D’Rivera’s 100 Years of Latin Love Songs with strings.

The Heads Up roster has also been the home to some of the past 15 years’ biggest contemporary jazz artists, including Spyro Gyra, Nestor Torres, Earth Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey, Marion Meadows, Doc Powell, The Caribbean Jazz Project, Joyce Cooling, Richie Cole, Roberto Perera, and Alexander Zonjic, among others.

For the last nine years, Heads Up has offered enhanced CDs with videos, artist bios and other bonus material. The label was also among the first to release in the Super Audio CD 5.1 Surround Sound (SACD) format.

Born in Kearny, New Jersey, Dave Love started playing trumpet when he was in the fifth grade. Although he was classically trained, by his freshman year of high school he had discovered the music of John Coltrane and Lee Morgan. Love studied composition and arranging with the late Dr. Tom Boras during his high school years and studied at the renowned Chautauqua Institution during the summer months. Love later attended North Texas State, graduating in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in jazz trumpet performance. The young trumpeter/arranger won several scholarships, including the Lloyd Akridge Memorial Arranging Scholarship for two years in a row and the first ever Louis Hubert Memorial Scholarship presented by the Dallas Jazz Society, which he also won a second year. During his final years in school, Love became the musical director for trumpeter/educator Donald Byrd. In 1982, Love formed a jazz quintet called Heads Up and was soon playing gigs throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He launched the Heads Up label in Seattle, Washington, in 1990 with the release of The Energy of the Chance by Love and saxophonist Dave Liebman. Heads Up struck a distribution deal with Telarc International Corporation in 1996, and four years later, when the two companies merged, Love moved to Cleveland, Ohio. In 2004, the influential jazz executive made JazzTimes Magazine’s “Top 25 Power Index.”

“It is such an honor to be representing the groups currently with Heads Up,” adds Love. “Musicians like these have kept me motivated for 15 years. It is so wonderful to present their art to the world as our company grows. How time flies when you’re having fun.”

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:18 AM

October 20, 2004

Guitarist Peter White warms up his sleigh

Second smooth jazz Christmas concert tour to visit 18 U.S. cities, features Braun and Abair

The svelte Englishman in the oversized jolly red suit preparing to slide down the chimney of all the good little smooth jazz fans is guitar sensation Peter White.  This year, he’s bringing a couple of special elves with him on his musical mission of holiday merrymaking.  Trumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Mindi Abair are loading up White’s musical sleigh as they prepare to embark on an 18-city U.S. concert journey kicking off in San Diego, California on November 26th.  White, Braun and Abair will deck the halls with jazzy versions of seasonal classics, a few original holiday songs and some of their best known hits.  A Peter White Christmas is a holiday treat loaded with only the finest ingredients - fun, funk, jazz and pop - and is guaranteed to enchant even the meanest of Scrooges.                 

All three artists have previously released holiday CDs, which is one of the things that inspired White to launch the tour, now in its second year.  “My earliest memories of Christmas were probably not much different from many other people: snowflakes, tinsel, Santa Claus, reindeer and the opening of presents surrounded by family.  As a child, my father taught me to play Christmas music on my first instrument, the recorder, and my love for holiday music has endured throughout the years.  I hope this tour will be an opportunity for fans to enjoy their favorite Christmas songs in a family setting.  Perhaps I’ll even bring my recorder.” 

Over the past decade, White’s intimate way with acoustic guitar melodies has scored twelve #1 singles that have helped define the smooth jazz radio format.  Earlier this year, MediaBase 24-7’s research revealed that White’s music is the most played on the entire radio format.  The four-time consecutive winner of the National Smooth Jazz Awards “Guitarist of the Year” honors is currently supporting his ninth solo album, Confidential, which was released in March.  The first single from the album, “Talkin’ Bout Love,” spent seven weeks at #1, and the new single from the collection, “How Does It Feel,” just entered the Top 20 on its ascent to the peak position.  His guitar sound has become his signature, a sensitive and emotive voice of melody, which sings eloquently over R&B, jazz, pop and Latin rhythms.  White, who first made his mark as a teenager while playing with singer-songwriter Al Stewart, with whom he wrote the hit “Time Passages,” has recorded and/or toured with Abair, Basia, Dave Koz, Richard Elliot, Boney James, David Benoit, Gato Barbieri, Euge Groove, Craig Chaquico, and Braun.

Braun is also regarded as one of the top artists in all of smooth jazz, a format that he fell into after a stint in the pop world, where he co-penned the hit, “Here With Me,” while playing with REO Speedwagon.  He went on to play in Sade’s band, which helped him hone his own sound as a solo artist.  The trumpeter consistently delivers #1 hit singles and his albums often camp out at the top of the national charts for months on end.  Braun has released ten solo albums, including a new live collection, Sessions Volume 1, released on the newly launched Artisan Records label, which he owns with saxophonist Richard Elliot.  Twice named “Smooth Jazz Artist of the Year” by the Gavin Report, Braun is also recognized as an ace in the studio, where he has produced records for White, Benoit, Marc Antoine, Jeff Golub, Eric Marienthal, Willie & Lobo, amongst others.  On the concert stage and on record, Braun is a soulful and dynamic funkster, who has recorded and toured behind collaborative duo and trio album projects with Boney James and Kirk Whalum and Norman Brown (BWB).

Abair was last year’s breakthrough new artist of the year in smooth jazz.  She shared the stage on White’s inaugural Christmas concert tour last year and she’s back for another trek, this time in support of her recently released sophomore album, Come As You Are.  Abair is an instrumentalist and a vocalist who incorporates rock and pop into her soul-jazz selections and she has already started her own collection of #1s.  The sassy saxophonist’s crossover appeal landed her an opening slot on tour this past summer with Josh Groban.  Before emerging as a solo artist, Abair toured with The Backstreet Boys, Mandy Moore, Duran Duran and Jonathan Butler.  It takes a strong talent to share the stage with two luminaries like White and Braun; Abair is a radiant and gifted musician who is more than up to the task.     


The itinerary for A Peter White Christmas concert tour is below (additional dates may be added):

November 26          San Diego, CA                        Spreckles

November 27          Incline Village, NV                    Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe at Incline Village

November 28          Fresno, CA                              Tower Theatre

December 1             Jacksonville, FL                       Florida Theatre

December 2             Clearwater, FL                        Ruth Eckerd Hall

December 3             Destin, FL                                Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort

December 4             Atlanta, GA                               Robert Ferst Center for the Arts

December 6             Stuart, FL                 Lyric Theatre

December 7             Annapolis, MD                         Rams Head Tavern

December 8             Alexandria, VA                        The Birchmere

December 9             West Reading, PA                    Scottish Rite Cathedral

December 10           Huntington, NY                        IMAC

December 11           New Haven, CT                      John Lyman Center/S. Connecticut State College

December 12           St. Charles, IL                          Norris Arts Center

December 13           Milwaukee, WI                         Northern Lights Theatre/Potawatomi Bingo Casino

December 15           Cleveland, OH                         Playhouse Square Center Allen Theatre

December 18           Huntington Beach, CA             Huntington Beach Cultural Center (Mindi Abair will not appear)

 

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:33 PM

October 19, 2004

Innovative jazz-hip hop trumpeter Russell Gunn to receive SESAC Award in NYC

Inventive jazz-hip hop trumpeter Russell Gunn will receive a national performance activity award from performing rights organization SESAC in New York City at a luncheon on Monday, October 25.  The award honors airplay over the past year on jazz radio.  The timing is perfect as Gunn’s latest disc, Ethnomusicology Volume 4, will be released on October 26th by Justin Time Records.  The album was recorded live in Atlanta and brings to a close Gunn’s Ethnomusicology series.  Two of the albums in the cutting-edge series received Grammy nominations.  The artist has received critical acclaim for his ability to deftly incorporate the rhythms and the rhymes of the streets into unique sonicscapes, which crash, clash and collide with classical jazz, R&B, blues, rock, dance and a variety of ethnic music

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:07 AM

Legendary songwriter Leon Ware to make rare L.A. concert appearance

Legendary songwriter/producer/recording artist Leon Ware will make a rare Los Angeles concert appearance on Tuesday, October 19 at 8:30 pm at the Catalina Bar & Grill as part of the launch of the next phase of his extraordinary career.  Early next year, Ware will release the lovingly produced A Kiss in the Sand, a generous 15-song collection comprised of original songs performed in a Brazilian jazz setting.  All those in attendance at the show will receive a free copy of the album as part of the admission price.  Ware, who wrote hits for Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Minnie Ripperton, and Maxwell, amongst many, many others, has found his music to be a favorite amongst hip-hop artists as his songs have formed the basis of cuts by G-Unit, Ice Cube, Tupac, Xzibit, Aaliyah, and many more.  The new album was produced by Ware, who wrote or co-wrote the compositions.  His voice is in fine form, silky and smooth, revealing a sensitive and sensual romantic, while the tracks set an exotic jazzy tone.  Usually a reclusive studio cat, the release of the new project marks an emergence and a new day in the spotlight for Ware. 

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:05 AM

October 16, 2004

Jason Miles "Cozmopolitan" now available

JasonMilesCosmopolitan.jpgThis vintage fusion album by keyboard player Jason Miles now eventually sees the light of day after having been on the shelf for almost 25 years. It features an all-star band consisting of Marcus Miller, Michael Brecker, Ricardo Silveira, Claudio Roditi and others. Check out the liner notes to read more about this restored project and buy it on Jason Miles' website.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:34 AM

October 9, 2004

"A Concert For Love... An All-Star Tribute Benefiting the American Diabetes Association" Featuring the Music of Luther Vandross

On Tuesday, July 27, 2004, GRP released the all-star project Forever, For Always, For Luther, a warm and resoundingly respectful tribute to singer/songwriter Luther Vandross. Produced by Rex Rideout and Bud Harner, the best seller features eleven smooth jazz and R&B artists interpreting 10 timeless Vandross classics, including "Never Too Much," "Any Love," "Your Secret Love" and the Grammy-winning "Dance With My Father." The tribute's first single, "Forever, For Always, For Love," sung by Lalah Hathaway, is Top 20 at Urban AC radio and climbing fast.

On Wednesday, October 27, 2004, the spirit and magic of that recording will be rekindled on the stage of historical Theater at Madison Square Garden for an incomparable, once in a lifetime evening of music, love and charity. Co-produced by New York radio stations CD 101.9 WQCD ("Smooth Jazz") and 98.7 WRKS ("KISS-FM: The Best Variety of Old School and Today's R&B"), the concert will reunite stars from the project, including singers Lalah Hathaway and Ledisi, saxophonists Kirk Whalum, Dave Koz, Richard Elliot and Mindi Abair, guitarist Paul Jackson Jr., and keyboardist Brian Culbertson. Singing sensation Patti LaBelle and GRP recording artists Will Downing and Gerald Albright will also be among an array of friends and special guests lovingly saluting Mr. Vandross, who is recovering from a diabetes-induced stroke he suffered in April of 2003 that left him in a coma for several weeks. Since regaining consciousness, his condition has steadily improved.

In the spirit of support for Luther Vandross and public awareness about the deadly disease, the sponsors and producers of the program are proudly donating profits from ticket sales to the American Diabetes Association on his behalf. Founded in 1940, the mission of the ADA is to prevent and cure diabetes, and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. Fans of the singer will be encouraged to make further donations to the organization at all points throughout this gala event and campaign.

Verve Music Group President and CEO Ron Goldstein states, "The Verve Music Group, through its GRP label, is proud to join Luther and his family in trying to raise the level of awareness of this prevalent disease."

Please join Luther and The Verve Music Group in sending a contribution to:

The American Diabetes Association
Forever, For Always, For Luther Fund
1701 North Beauregard
Alexandria, VA 22311

All donations are tax deductible. For more information call 1-800-DIABETES or visit www.diabetes.org.

"A Concert For Love... An All-Star Tribute Benefiting the American Diabetes Association" Featuring the Music of Luther Vandross

Wednesday, October 27, 2004
8PM
Theater at Madison Square Garden
New York City

Tickets are on sale at the Madison Square Garden box office and Ticketmaster.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:00 PM

September 4, 2004

Guitarist Peter White to entertain U.S. troops at Guantanamo Bay on Labor Day

Peter White No.1.jpgSmooth jazz guitarist Peter White is set to depart for Cuba this holiday weekend where he’ll spend Labor Day performing for over 6,000 members of the U.S. armed forces and their families stationed at the Guantanamo Bay military base.  The British recording artist, who resides in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California, will perform as part of the 2nd Annual Guantanamo Bay Jazz Festival.  The base is home to all five branches of the military: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. 

“It’s quite an honor to be able to perform for the men and women who are proudly serving and devoting their lives to protecting our freedom,” said an excited White.  “I’m looking forward to the adventure.”    

White released his ninth solo album on Columbia Records in March.  The first single from Confidential, “Talkin’ Bout Love,” was his twelfth #1 radio hit.  His new single, “How Does It Feel,” entered the national radio chart this week and has begun its march to the top.  In May, the Mediabase 24-7 radio airplay tracking service revealed that White is the most played artist in the entire smooth jazz radio format.  For more than a decade, his distinctive acoustic guitar melodies combined with R&B, jazz, pop and Latin rhythms have helped shape and define the musical genre.  A four-time consecutive winner of the National Smooth Jazz Awards Guitarist of the Year honor, White has formed a lasting bond with fans through passionate and energetic concert performances.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:34 AM

August 27, 2004

Witness the making of Ken Navarro's new album

Smooth Jazz artist Ken Navarro and Positive Music Records are preparing to launch a new and unique type of marketing plan in conjunction with Ken’s upcoming Positive Music CD Love Coloured Soul. The plan involves attracting people to the guitarist’s website (www.kennavarro.com) to experience the new CD as it is being recorded and mixed and the album art is being created.

ken_navarro.jpgVisitors to the website will be given free access to a changing array of samples ranging from audio interviews with Navarro and the other musicians, to streaming video and photos of the actual recording sessions taking place, early versions of the cover art and graphics, audio clips of the song demos and samples of rough mixes as the recording process progresses. Every week, until the finished CD is released, a new group of streaming samples will be made available for free audition at Ken’s website. This exciting and innovative concept is designed to attract smooth jazz music fans to www.kennavarro.com by inviting them to be a “fly on the wall” for the creation of a new smooth jazz work by one of smooth jazz’s most established artists.

Beginning December 1, one full month prior to the official January 10 retail release date of Love Coloured Soul, visitors to the website will be given the opportunity to purchase one of three (3) special packages which will be offered exclusively at www.kennavarro.com. Each package will be tailored to appeal to different types of smooth jazz fans and will include full-length audio, photo albums, video movies and PDF graphics in addition to the finished CD itself. These packages will be available only at www.kennavarro.com and will be available for purchase on CDs or as downloads with a major credit card. Secure purchases will be easily executed via the new “Ken Navarro” store. The store will be coming online in early October as part of www.kennavarro.com.

The online campaign will begin approximately September 15 and continue right up to the December 1 website release date. Work is currently under way at www.kennavarro.com on a complete make over and extensive web store created by Visible Image. An extensive web advertising campaign is also planned, which will involve some of the leading smooth jazz websites and online radio stations.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:29 PM

August 22, 2004

From The Ashes by Patrick Yandall nominated as best jazz album 2004

PatrickYandallFromTheAshes.jpgPatrick Yandall's 2004 release From the Ashes on Apria Records has been nominated for Best Jazz Album of the year 2004 by the San Diego Music Awards Commitee!

The single "Hope Springs Eternal" is now being heard worldwide!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:10 PM

August 21, 2004

New releases by Concord Records

Brace yourself!  Over the coming months, Concord Records will be releasing some of its biggest projects this year.

On August 24, Chick Corea returns with the original members of the Elektric Band for the first time since 1991 for To The Stars. Chick was inspired to write this CD after one of his favorite books, the L. Ron Hubbard novel of the same name. The Chick Corea Elektric Band begins its nationwide tour in September, making stops in LA, DC, NY and other key markets.

Just one week later, on August 31, the final album from Ray Charles, Genius Loves Company, hits the stores. The CD was recorded live and completed in March 2004, just months before the legends’ passing. Featured artists include Norah Jones (“Here We Go Again”), Willie Nelson (“It Was A Very Good Year”), Elton John (“Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word”), Van Morrison (“Crazy Love”) and Natalie Cole (“Fever”). In total, the artists featured on the CD have won a combined 79 GRAMMY Awards!  It’s one of the most anticipated CDs of the year! 

In September, Concord has the sophomore release from pop/jazz sensation Peter Cincotti. On The Moon is funkier than his chart-topping, record-breaking debut CD and includes his contemporary and undeniably infectious twists on such classics as “I Love Paris,” “St. Louis Blues,” and “Some Kind of Wonderful.” The CD also showcases Peter’s talents as composer, featuring 5 Cincotti-penned tracks! Peter will be on tour throughout the fall and into 2005. Later this year he makes his film debut in Kevin Spacey’s Bobby Darin biopic Beyond the Sea.

To round out the month, Concord has a new recording from mega popular pop superstar Barry Manilow. Scores features new recordings of Barry’s favorite tunes from his two Broadway musicals, Copacabana and Harmony. Rumor has it that the CD will include a remix version of Copacabana. Watch this space for more information coming very, very shortly! 

Playboy Jazz: In A Smooth Groove (2-CD set with today’s most popular smooth jazz artists, including Boney James, The Rippingtons, Dave Koz, Regina Belle, Grover Washington Jr and more) will be due in September.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:07 PM

August 18, 2004

New Peter White Single released

Smooth jazz guitarist Peter White‘s new radio single debuts on top

PeterWhite.jpgThe second single released from guitarist Peter White’s latest Columbia Records album shared most added honors in the smooth jazz radio format this week, according to industry trade Radio & Records. The rousing “How Does It Feel” marks a departure for White and sounds different than anything else in the format. White showcases some nifty acoustic fretwork on the song he wrote on two guitars with producer Matthew Hager (Mindi Abair, Mandy Moore). The first single from White’s Confidential album, released last March, was the #1 hit, “Talkin’ Bout Love,” which held the top spot for seven weeks. It was White’s twelfth #1 single.

Plans for second Christmas concert tour take shape

A touring veteran that thrives on the concert stage interacting with audiences, the second annual A Peter White Christmas concert tour is set to commence on November 26th in San Diego. Sharing the marquee with White this year will be trumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Mindi Abair. The artists will perform their best known hits along with seasonal holiday classics during the month-long trek. The complete concert itinerary will soon be revealed.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:41 PM

August 13, 2004

The House Of Urban Grooves - more music from the originator of the Unwrapped series

coverTony Joseph, creator of the hugely successful Unwrapped series on Hidden Beach Records released July 27th a new project - this time on Peak Records - called The House Of Urban Grooves featuring original compositions still retaining the "Unwrapped" style fusing elements of hip-hop, jazz and urban soul.

Tony told me that due to his work as a producer with rap artists it was a natural extension for him to build on that work by adding contemporary jazz artists to recapture the "Unwrapped" spirit. He did the record at his house inviting artists like keyboardist Patrice Rushen, violinist Karen Biggs, former Blackbyrds keyboardist Kevin Toney and many others to the sessions. The result is a creation that digs deep into street rhythms, free-form inspirations and futuristic sound melodies that make for a refreshing listening experience.

If you liked the "Unwrapped" series then The House of Urban Grooves is a must-have for your collection.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:47 AM

August 11, 2004

3rd Annual JAZZ AT SUNSET Fundraiser

3rd Annual JAZZ AT SUNSET Fundraiser featuring guitarist Peter White with saxophonist Jaared and the Matt Marshak Band for the Long Island Multiple Sclerosis Society Saturday, August 21, 2004 (by Val Vaccaro)

If you’re looking for a chance to hear smooth jazz under the stars this summer in the New York area, you should check out the 3rd Annual JAZZ AT SUNSET Fundraiser to benefit the cure for Multiple Sclerosis on Saturday, August 21st (rain date August 22).

PeterWhite.jpgThis year’s fundraiser event includes performances by a number of great smooth jazz artists. The show will feature the ever-popular Sony recording artist guitarist Peter White with Three Keys Music/Lightyear recording artist super saxophonist Jaared, and guitarist Matt Marshak with his band. Matt Marshak was the winner of the CD101.9/Absolut Vodka Smooth Jazz Artist Contest last summer. (For artist information, check out www.PeterWhite.com, www.Jaared.com and www.MattMarshak.com). Some other guest artists may also appear at this year’s benefit show.

Jaared.jpgThe JAZZ AT SUNSET fundraiser concert is a very special, local event with a ‘friends and family’ appeal. The show is an exclusive garden party held outdoors in Huntington Station, Long Island with only about 200 lucky people attending the event. Last year, guitarist Peter White and saxophonist Jaared serenaded the happy crowd for over two hours, with a special guest appearance from vocalist Toni Robins, for a perfect, relaxed summer evening!

mattmarshak.jpgProceeds from ticket sales go towards a great cause – helping those in need with Multiple Sclerosis in the Long Island area. Last year’s event raised over $10,000 from ticket sales and contributions. This year, help them to do even better! Tickets for this great “JAZZ AT SUNSET” event are $40 each which includes complimentary food and drinks!! There will also be raffles to win great prizes! Don’t miss this chance to see Peter White, Jaared and Matt Marshak up close on Saturday, August 21 starting 4PM (rain date August 22nd)!!

For details and tickets call (631) 547-0539 or (631) 379-6797.

You can also see http://www.nationalmssociety.org/NYH/event/event_page.asp?p=20813&e=6242 If you can’t attend the benefit show, but would like to make a donation, contributions can be mailed to: National Multiple Sclerosis Society L. I. Chapter 200 Parkway Drive South, Suite 101, Hauppauge, NY 11788.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:20 PM

July 1, 2004

Smooth jazz stars ready to launch the ninth Guitars & Saxes concert tour

Smooth jazz stars ready to launch the ninth Guitars & Saxes concert tour - Antoine, Golub, Groove & Hill comprise the all-star lineup set to visit 21 cities

For the past nine years, one of the most popular attractions for adult summer concert goers is the Guitars & Saxes tour, which features the collaborative efforts of four smooth jazz stars.  This year’s edition is certain to be a highly entertaining crowd pleaser as guitarists Marc Antoine and Jeff Golub will make the trek with saxophonists Euge Groove and Warren Hill.  The artists will open and close the show playing on stage together.  In between, each artist will have his own turn to take over the stage to play his individual hits, which includes plenty of #1 singles from chart-topping albums.  Since jazz has always been about improvisation and collaboration, fans can expect unique pairings and trios to share the stage throughout the concert as well, especially since these musicians have made guest appearances on each other’s albums.

EugeGroove.jpgFirst to take the stage for a solo set will be saxophonist Euge Groove (Steven Eugene Grove), which is appropriate since he’s tirelessly energetic and enthusiastic.  Groove was a long-time sideman to such luminaries as Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Richard Marx and Tower of Power.  In 2000, he launched his solo career with two #1 radio singles and a #1 track on the MP3 jazz chart.  Through just three albums, including his new release, Livin’ Large, Groove has already topped the charts often enough to become a smooth jazz radio staple.  He strives to create music that is timeless, utilizing elements of jazz, pop and R&B as his muse.  His records are built upon the dual foundation of quality songwriting and top-notch musicianship.

MarcAntoine.jpgAdding culture and romance to the evening will be flamenco-jazz guitarist Marc Antoine, a Parisian who now resides in Madrid, Spain.  The gypsy spirit and classical soul of Antoine’s recordings can’t help but transport instrumental fans seeking musical paradise.  Through his collection of six albums and chart-topping singles, Antoine has created a unique sound that incorporates jazz, flamenco, Latin, dance and Euro-pop.  The title track of Antoine’s latest album, Mediterraneo, is currently in the Top 10 on the smooth jazz radio singles chart.

WarrenHill.jpgToronto native Warren Hill co-starred in the first Guitars & Saxes concert tour when it was conceived by agent Bob Engel of Variety Artists International in 1995.  Hill’s first love was rock and roll, but he fell in love with the sax after discovering jazz.  He had mainstream pop successes with Chaka Khan and Natalie Cole and was a part of the hit movie soundtracks for Reality Bites and Body of Evidence, the latter of which starred Madonna.  His seven albums have spawned #1 singles in a variety of radio formats, proving Hill’s crossover appeal.  Performing and songwriting from the heart are amongst Hill’s many talents.  He’s passionate and charismatic and he infuses both into his music, which is soulful, emotive, and romantic.

JeffGolub.jpgThe last to take the stage for a solo set will be Jeff Golub, whose soul-jazz grooves are edgy, gritty, and funky.  Golub thrives on the concert stage and he aims to capture the live sound in the studio, where he has recorded six albums and a bevy of #1 singles.  After years as a highly coveted sideman backing such artists as Rod Stewart, Vanessa Williams, Ashford & Simpson, John Waite and Billy Squier, Golub formed his own band and released a debut album in 1994 under the band name Avenue Blue.  By the time Golub started recording under his own name five years later, he was already an image artist in the smooth jazz format.  Smooth jazz moniker aside, Golub pushes the envelop musically, emphasizing creativity and spontaneity in the spirit of jazz, but drenched with soulful and bluesy nuances.

Backing the Guitars & Saxes cast are Dave Hooper (drums), Randy Jacobs (guitar), Ron Jenkins (bass) and Ron Reinhardt (keyboards).

 

The following is the 2004 Guitars & Saxes tour itinerary (changes and additions are possible):

 

July 14              San Diego, CA               Humphrey’s

July 15              Saratoga, CA                The Garden Theatre

July 16              Sacramento, CA            Radisson Hotel

July 17              Healdsburg, CA             Rodney Strong Vineyards

July 18              Pasadena, CA               Central Park

August 9 & 10    Alexandria, VA                The Birchmere

August 11          New York, NY                 Spirit Cruise Ship/Pier 63 - Chelsea Piers

August 12          Richmond, VA                The Canal Club

August 13          Glenside, PA                  Keswick Theatre

August 14          Huntington, NY               IMAC

August 15          Annapolis, MD               Ram’s Head

August 17          Toronto, ONT                 TBA

August 18          Sterling Heights, MI         Freedom Hill Amphitheatre

August 21          Chicago, IL                   Navy Pier Skyline Stage

August 22          St. Louis, MO                  The Pagent

September 10   Newport Beach, CA       Hyatt Newporter                        

September 11   Las Vegas, NV                Spring Mountain State Park

September 12   Temecula, CA               Thornton Winery

September 17   Austin, TX                       One World Theatre

September 18   Houston, TX                   Verizon Wireless

September 19   San Antonio, TX              Travis Park at Navaro

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:07 PM

May 26, 2004

Grady Nichols signs with Compendia Records

Rising star in the contemporary jazz format to release Sophistication on July 27

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 25, 2004) - Jazz saxophonist Grady Nichols has signed with Compendia Music Group, and will release his album Sophistication on the Compendia Records label. Michael Olsen, president of Compendia Music Group, made the announcement today.

GradyNichols.jpgScheduled for release on July 27, Sophistication - produced by respected jazz musician Jeff Lorber - already has one track, "Allright," climbing R&R's Smooth (contemporary) Jazz charts and in the top 20 on Smoothjazz.com's listing.

"This project was put together over a long period and during two major life-changing events - getting married and having a child," said Nichols. "There is a culmination of many different emotions throughout and I hope people will feel that when they hear the music. There is a flow to this record as it weaves from the funky to the seductive. It's my best studio project to date."

Ric Pepin, VP/GM of Compendia Music Group, said, "We were knocked out by Grady's music, obviously - Sophistication is an incredible album. However, as a label we were also impressed by this artist's work ethic and determination. What Grady has achieved to date he has done on his own - assembling his own promotion and marketing team, gradually building a following in the jazz world, putting out his own albums. Compendia knows that an artist that invests in his own career is an artist worth investing in as a label."

"We first tested the waters of the contemporary jazz format with some tracks from the Joan Osborne How Sweet It Is album, and we were delighted with how programmers embraced her - in fact, Joan became the most played female vocalist in that format in 2003," continued Pepin. "Today, in addition to Grady, we also have Compendia Records artist Pete Belasco moving up the contemporary jazz charts. Radio programmers see that we've made a real commitment to this format; we'll continue to support the contemporary jazz format with quality artists and music."

Grady Nichol's first two CDs, Between You and Me (1996) and Mysterious Intentions (1997) netted considerable airplay on contemporary jazz and adult contemporary radio stations across the country - an impressive accomplishment for an independent artist. Grady's 2001 release, In the Fullness of Time, featured Bill Champlin, keyboardist / vocalist of the group Chicago, alongside a 50 voice choir. He has appeared on national television on BET On Jazz's Jazz Scene and for twenty-six weeks on BET's Sunday Night Live. As part of his ongoing effort to blend music and charity, Grady initiated and hosts "Grady Nichols Presents . . . ," a star-studded event in Tulsa featuring acts from all genres of music. The 2000 show featured the Beach Boys, drew 7500 people, and raised over $50,000 for the Tulsa Area United Way.

Compendia Music Group is an independent record company whose labels include Compendia Records, Light Records and Intersound Music. These labels, each with a separate staff and musical focus, produce and distribute a wide variety of music, including rock, contemporary jazz, pop, gospel, lifestyle/inspirational, country, Christian and classical. For more information, please visit www.compendiamusic.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:04 PM

May 24, 2004

Tony Adamo at Capitol Records

Singer/songwriter Tony Adamo and his long time producer Jerry Stucker were recently at Capital Records to have three tracks mixed by legendary music producer Al Schmitt (assisted by Capitol Records recording engineer, Steve Genewick). Al Schmitt has worked with the most influential voices in American Pop and Jazz for the last forty years starting with Sinatra and most recently, Diana Krall.

Adamo’s new CD will be a collection of jazz standards as well as some pop gems turned into jazz. Jerry Stucker, Adamo’s producer has written very hip, smooth new music arrangements for these. Included are War’s, “In the Ghetto,” “In the Winelight” with music written by Grover Washington, Jr. and lyrics by Kurt Elling and Cannonball Adderly’s instant jazz classic, “Mercy Mercy.”

Adamo will be back at Capitol late summer to finish the final mixes for this new yet untitled CD. For more information on this new emerging artist, please go to www.jazznow.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:07 AM

May 19, 2004

Patrick Yandall new release!

PatrickYandallFromTheAshes.jpgPatrick Yandall new release From the Ashes on Apria Records coming next month. Featuring: Randy Brecker, Will Lee, Ada Rovatti, Joel Rosenblatt, Kimo Cornwell, Scott Wilkie, Andre Mayeux, Nathan Brown, Jason Weber, & Sandy Weltman.  Recorded in New York, New Jersey, L.A. & San Diego. See Smooth Jazz News May issue for the feature article. West Coast Release Party @ Humphreys. Sunday, July 4th 8-12.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 10:11 PM

May 13, 2004

Spyro Gyra - "The Deep End" to be released May 25

coverSet for release on May 25, The Deep End (also available as an SACD in 5.1 Surround Sound) - Spyro Gyra's 3rd album on Heads Up and 27th album overall - features the solid musicianship of founder Jay Beckenstein on saxophones, Tom Schuman on keyboards, Julio Fernandez on guitars, Scott Ambush on bass, and drummers Joel Rosenblatt, Billy Kilson and the newest member of the group, Ludwig Afonso (on "Joburg Jam"). The 26-year-old Cuban drummer accompanied his University of Miami teacher to the audition, wanted to try out, and got the gig!

Celebrating their 30th anniversary, the group has earned the respect of its audience with over 10 million albums sold. Spyro Gyra continues to break new ground with this latest release, the follow-up to Original Cinema, which spent most of 2003 on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart. Their 2001 Heads Up debut, In Modern Times, logged 64 weeks on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart, peaking at #2.

Beckenstein says, "The Deep End speaks of an emotional leap, of following your heart, The music is complex, but the approach is emotional. It's less produced that the last record and represents a swing back to a live band sound."

Special guests include Dave Samuels on vibes, Don Harris on trumpet, and percussionists Cyro Baptista, David Charles and Daniel Sadownick.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 7:58 AM

April 29, 2004

Industry veterans launch 215 Music & Media

Ambitious company consists of a record label and publishing company focused on the adult consumer

A team of music industry veterans have united to create 215 Music & Media, a record label and music publishing company positioned to aggressively pursue adult consumers through branding in the smooth jazz and adult music markets.  The company, which has offices in Jenkintown, PA and Beverly Hills, CA, signed a distribution deal with IDN for the United States and is presently negotiating distribution deals for other territories.

Leading 215 Music and Media is president/CEO David Chackler, who is based out of the company’s suburban Philadelphia offices.  Based in Beverly Hills is Linda Komorsky, president of the publishing division.  Rounding out the executive team are Alan Rubens, senior vice president of marketing and business affairs; Deborah Jawicki, vice president of operations and creative A&R; Rick Chrzan, national sales manager; and Adam Leibovitz, national director of promotion.  In order to secure immediate backroom administration as well as strengthen its position in foreign markets, Chackler and Komorsky secured an investment from Casablanca Media Acquisitions Inc., which is led by music industry veteran Edmund Glinert.  In addition to providing financing, Casablanca has agreed to provide the services of its publishing administrative staff and business affairs department, including Jennifer Mitchell, executive vice president of business affairs; Annie Craft, director of publishing administration; Jodi Lutz, manager of publishing administration; and Kevin Richards, film & television licensing.           

“It’s been well over a decade since a record label was branded and marketed specifically towards adult record buyers.  Our mission with 215 Music and Media is to bring quality branded music to discriminating adult listeners much like Windham Hill did with New Age and Motown did with their distinctive brand of R&B,” stated Chackler.  “Smooth jazz radio stations are amongst the top money earners in markets that have the format, which caters to educated and professional people with highly disposable incomes.  The format is flourishing and is a favorite of the 35-54 age demographic whom advertisers covet.  While most major labels cater towards young pop, hip hop and alternative music fans, an indie like us will be able to adapt to market conditions as necessary in order to aggressively pursue adult consumers who prefer buying albums online or in record stores as opposed to surfing the web and downloading individual tracks or singles.  Smooth jazz fans are loyal record and concert ticket buyers and we aim to be a market leader in the format.”      

215 Records plans to release approximately eight albums per year and will include DVD content as well.  The first album release will be the Alan Hewitt Project’s Noche de Pasion’, a collection of jazz, R&B, dance and rock tracks that streets on April 27.  Smooth jazz radio stations were serviced “Breathless,” an ambient jazz track featuring the trumpet of Steve Madiao (Stevie Wonder, Rolling Stones), as the first single.  Joining multi-instrumentalist-producer-songwriter Hewitt on the album are smooth jazz luminaries Jonathan Butler, Mindi Abair, Michael Lington, Euge Groove and Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White. 

The new album by famed Brazilian jazz guitarist Torcuato Mariano, Diary, is scheduled for release on May 27 and will be preceded by the first single, “Paula,” which goes for adds at smooth jazz radio on May 3.  Mariano’s soulful, reflective and uplifting sound marks the return of the accomplished musician-songwriter-producer.  His 1995 Windham Hill single, "Ocean Way," remains one of the most requested tracks at smooth jazz radio.     

On June 22, 215 Records will release a live concert album by Gerald McCauley’s West Coast All-Stars.  Recorded at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center in Southern California, the CD and bonus DVD package captures the performances of a stellar cast, including Butler, Chris Botti, En Vogue, Tom Scott, Eric Marienthal, Val Watson and Phillip Ingram.  The DVD was mixed in PCM stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.  

Chackler has twice shepherded independent record labels to the top of the smooth jazz format.  As president of Rhythm and Groove Records and Nu Groove Records, Chackler signed and developed such established chart-topping artists as Lington and Down to the Bone.  He was president of Luke Skyywalker Records, which spawned the notorious rap group 2 Live Crew.  Chackler also served as a music supervisor or executive music producer for over thirty feature films, including the award-nominated “Hangin’ with the Homeboys,” and was an executive producer or co-producer of seven films, including John Carpenter’s “Village of the Damned.” 

Komorsky was vice president business affairs at Touch Tunes Music Corporation, where she was responsible for acquiring and licensing catalog in the digital universe.  She also held the post of vice president international acquisitions and marketing at BMG Music, where she signed Sting, Michael McDonald, Randy Newman and Steve Miller, and forged relationships with partners such as MGM, Carsey-Werner Productions and Famous Music.  Komorsky was once president of the Association of Independent Music Publishers and secretary of the California Copyright Conference. 

Amongst her first deals for the new publishing company, Komorsky inked an exclusive worldwide administration deal with Ramp Music, the music publishing company of Roger McNair, a member of Busta Rhymes’ Flipmode Squad.  McNair has had his songs featured on albums by Flipmode Squad and Mariah Carey, and in films including “Dr. Doolittle” and “Friday After Next.” 

Komorsky has also finalized a worldwide administration deal for the catalogue of country music legend Charlie Rich.  “As a boutique company, we’re committed to providing personalized service to fully exploit the catalogues of our music publishing partners and songwriters,” said Komorsky.  “Our staff is dedicated to protecting our writers’ copyrights and maximizing the income collected throughout the world from usage in films, television, commercials and new technology as well as on radio and records.”           

Casablanca Media Acquisitions Inc. is a privately owned corporation led by Glinert.  Through its subsidiary corporations, Casablanca operates a number of record labels and television production companies, including Casablanca Kids, Trax Records, and Solid Gold Records.  Casablanca is also a well-established independent music publisher and controls a number of significant catalogues for the world.  

Additional information on 215 Music and Media and their artists can be found at www.215music.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 9:05 PM

March 25, 2004

Patrick Yandall - new CD "From The Ashes" due May/June 2004

Smooth Jazz Guitarist Patrick Yandall has signed a record deal with Apria records. He will release his new CD From the Ashes in May/June 2004. This will feature Randy Brecker, Will Lee, Joel Rosenblatt, Scott Wilkie, Ada Rovatti, Nathan Brown, Jason Weber, and others! Patricks past international releases are available at Amazon.com, CDBaby.com, and many other web based sites. Tracks are also available at iTunes.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 8:42 PM

March 24, 2004

Peter White's "Confidential" hits stores

coverColumbia Records released the ninth solo album from guitarist Peter White today as the first single from Confidential is #4 on the national radio charts and rising.  “Talkin’ Bout Love” has swiftly saturated the playlists of smooth jazz radio stations.  The Paul Brown produced single is a sweet mid-tempo groove warmed by a rich Jerry Hey horn arrangement that fills up the tracks and provides a beautiful counterpoint to White’s emotive guitar melody.  For over a decade, White’s distinctive R&B, jazz and pop instrumental albums have consistently topped the charts and his eleven #1 singles have helped define a radio format.

Confidential captures an artist in peak stride as the guitarist raises the bar on himself each time out.  White’s guitar is the focal point that ties together the collaborative effort of a variety of musicians, producers and writers.  White wrote or co-wrote ten new songs for the album, which boasts contributions from soloists Brown, Chris Botti, Mindi Abair, Brian Culbertson, Michael Paulo and vocalists Christopher Cross and David Sparkman. According to White, every album is personal and every note on the album has his personality.  He finds it hard to listen to the songs he writes alone as they are so personal that “it’s like staring at yourself in the mirror.”  The music emanates from his heart and always seems to find its way into the hearts of listeners.

Just barely out of his teens, White went to the top of the pop charts in the 1970’s in association with multi-platinum selling singer-songwriter Al Stewart.  Years later, his solo music helped smooth jazz flourish and his guitarwork has graced recordings by such luminaries as Abair, Dave Koz, Boney James, Richard Elliot, Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum, Basia, Gato Barbieri and Philip Bailey.

“People ask me all the time about smooth jazz, but the reality is that the format formed out of the music we were playing in the early 1990s,” White explained.  “Although I hate being categorized, we were not drawn to this format; we helped to create it.  The smooth jazz audience is the most diverse audience out there.  I look at it as a great leveler, a musical mixing pot without borders or boundaries.  It’s all about the songs.  In the end, you’ll be remembered for your songs.”

White, a consecutive four-time winner of the “Guitarist of the Year” award at the National Smooth Jazz Awards, thrives on the concert stage, loving “the opportunity to interact with fans and the immediate feedback you can only get in a live setting.”  A full concert tour will be mounted to support Confidential.  The complete itinerary will be announced soon, but below are some initial dates to see Peter perform with his band:

May 7               Washington, DC             Ronald Reagan International Trade Center

May 15             Sacramento, CA            Radisson Hotel

May 16             Newport Beach, CA       Hyatt Regency Newport Beach Jazz Festival

May 29             San Diego, CA               KIFM-FM Anniversary Smooth Jazz Festival (4th & Island)

June 23-28        Hawaii                           Dolphin Days

July 16              Carlsbad, CA                 Four Seasons Resort

October 1         Newport Beach, CA        Hyatt Newporter

October 2         Temecula, CA               Thornton Winery

Posted by Peter Böhi at 5:36 AM

March 9, 2004

Alan Hewitt Project releases "Noche de Pasion’" April 27

cd_noche_de_pasion.jpgAfter toiling away in the studio for years cranking out hits for other artists in a variety of formats, musician-producer-songwriter Alan Hewitt is set to unveil what may be the breakthrough album of the year in contemporary instrumental music.  Noche de Pasion’ is credited to the Alan Hewitt Project, a title that appropriately reflects the varied and multidimensional songs and sonicscapes created by Hewitt and his talented cast of guest stars, including Jonathan Butler, Mindi Abair, Michael Lington, Euge Groove and Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White.  Hewitt is the flagship artist of 215 Records, a division of 215 Music & Media LLC, which will release the collection of jazz, R&B, dance, and rock tracks on April 27th.  Smooth jazz radio will sample the first chapter from the album on March 15th when the pulsating club track “Breathless,” featuring the trumpet of Steve Madaio (Stevie Wonder, Rolling Stones), goes for adds. 

By keeping the emphasis on infectious melodies and inventive rhythms, Hewitt crafted uncompromising compositions lead by a variety of soloists with the singular purpose of creating the best album he could possibly make.  Hewitt, who played all the keyboards, piano, drums, percussion and drum programming on the entire album, challenges listeners by changing the sound and style on most every track.  As a songwriter, his gift is writing potent, memorable hooks and he wrote eight songs for the record, co-wrote one with White, and received one from Butler.  Additionally Hewitt produced eight tracks on Noche de Pasion’ and co-produced two more.     

Hewitt’s resume is as diverse as his music.  He’s worked on records by an eclectic list of artists, including Earth, Wind & Fire, Butler, Warrant, Donnie Osmond and John Waite.  He’s also an award-winning composer, who has contributed songs and scores to such films, television shows and networks as “Gods and Generals,” “The Osbournes,” “Survivor,” “Happy Gilmore,” ESPN, E! Entertainment Television, and the soon-to-be-released feature “Swimming Upstream,” starring Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis.     

“This album was literally a labor of love for me.  It came entirely from the heart,” explained Hewitt, who is looking forward to touring with his own band.  “Making the album as ‘The Alan Hewitt Project’ enabled me to stretch creatively in ways that I couldn’t have had it just been a solo album featuring keyboards.  I was determined to be true to the spirit of the music and as free from restrictions and limitations as possible.”   

 
Noche de Pasion’ contains the following songs:

“Noche de Pasion’” (featuring Euge Groove on sax)
“Breathless” (featuring Steve Madaio on trumpet)
“Love Feeds the Fire” (featuring Michael Lington on sax)
“Sweet Thing” (featuring Jonathan Butler on guitar and vocals)
“U Touch Me” (featuring Mindi Abair)
“Inside My Dreams” (featuring Shea Chambers on vocals)
“Viva la Noche” (featuring John Defaria on guitar)
“Captured” (featuring Gerald Spikes on sax)
“Blue Sky” (featuring John Defaria on guitar)
“Reminisce” (featuring Gerald Spikes on sax)

Posted by Peter Böhi at 6:16 AM

February 29, 2004

A Fantastic Line-up for the First Energy Berks Jazz Fest March 12-21 2004

by Val Vaccaro

BerksJazzFest.jpg

This year’s 14th annual Berks Jazz Fest in Reading, Pennsylvania will be an incredibly fantastic musical experience - the biggest and brightest yet, with over 120 super shows featuring a range of musical styles that range across the spectrum of jazz, blues and R & B!

Legendary guitarist/R&B pop vocalist George Benson will be there to perform such hits as “Give Me the Night,” “Turn Your Love Around” and “Breezin.” In addition, two terrific smooth-jazz crowd-pleasers - the highly popular trumpeter Rick Braun and engaging tenor saxophonist Richard Elliot will perform an exciting show together. A slew of other top saxophonists will be there including the renowned Joe Lovano and a dynamic bunch of smooth-jazz horn players including Michael Lington, Jimmy Sommers, Jeff Kashiwa, Najee and saxophonist/vocalist Walter Beasley. Guitar greats such as the creative and funky smooth jazz guitarist Jeff Golub and the multi-talented contemporary jazz guitarist Doc Powell (who toured with Luther Vandross in the 80’s and 90’s) will also be there. Russell Malone, the tasteful, melodic, swinging guitarist, who has recorded and toured with Diana Krall and Harry Connick Jr. is part of a dynamic duo with Protege Prize-winning pianist Benny Green, who has performed with Betty Carter, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.

In addition, an impressive list of pianists/keyboardists will be performing at the Fest. Legendary pianist/composer Marian McPartland, who hosts NPR’s award-winning program Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz will perform in concert. Also, 20-year old pianist, vocalist and composer Peter Cincotti, will demonstrate why he was dubbed by Vanity Fair magazine as “boy wonder…jazz wunderkind.” Smooth jazz darlings such as Brian Culbertson, and Bob Baldwin & Friends featuring vocalist Phil Perry will be there. Joe McBride, the super-talented pianist/vocalist who does everything from smooth to swing, and in-between, will perform during two acoustic dinner shows. Renowned pianist/vocalist Jim Brickman who crosses boundaries of jazz, new age and classical music will perform with the Reading Pops Orchestra (his CD “Peace” was nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Album).

A number of singers will be there including Jazz/R & B sensation Patti Austin whose show will pay tribute to American treasure Ella Fitzgerald in BeboperElla! Pop/R & B vocalist Roberta Flack will also perform (whose number one hits include “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” “Killing Me Softly with His Song” and “Feel Like Makin’ Love.” Celebrated and beautiful jazz vocalist Tierney Sutton will be there with The Christian Jacob Trio featuring world-class pianist Christian Jacob, bassist Trey Henry and drummer Ray Brinker. Also gracing the stage will be the suave jazz vocalist Freddie Cole (brother of Nat “King” Cole). In addition, there will be a number of acclaimed blues singers and instrumentalists including: Mose Allison, Kenny Neal and band with Billy Branch, EG Kight, and Saffire: The Uppity Blues Women featuring Ann Rabson, Gaye Adegbalola and Andra Faye, as well as guitarist/vocalist John Mooney.

A diverse set of musical groups will be at the Fest. The Jaco Pastorius Big Band - a terrific tribute to the late bassist will perform which features a 14-piece band including special guests Gerald Veasley, Jeff Carswell and Victor Wooten. Another highlight of the Fest includes the annual Berks All-Star Jazz Jam, with this year’s musical director Chuck Loeb on guitar, Gerald Veasley on bass, Jimmy Sommers and Richard Elliot on saxophone, Rick Braun on trumpet, Rayford Griffin on drums, and Joe McBride and Freddie Ravel on piano. In another show, Joe McBride will also perform with guitarist Ed Hamilton and bassist Gerald Veasley. Gerald Veasley, recently named Best Electric Bassist in Jazziz magazine’s annual readers’ poll, will also conduct his educational Bass Boot Camp and Jam during the Berks Jazz Fest for the third straight year.

Other exciting musical groups at the Fest include: Hiroshima, the unique and pleasing blend of Japanese and American smooth jazz music from Dan Kuramoto and June Kuramoto’s group, as well as Special EFX, featuring guitarist Chieli Minucci. Grammy Award-winning producer and keyboardist Jason Miles will perform with his new group Maximum Grooves featuring Andy Snitzer on saxophone, Sherrod Barnes on guitar, James Genus on bass, Gene Lake on drums and special guest Cassandra Reed on vocals. The Grammy-award-winning Carribbean Jazz Project with Dave Samuels on vibraphone and his band will also be there; so will well-known jazz-fusion guitar group Acoustic Alchemy. There will also be appearances by The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen, and The Dixie Power Trio. The United States Air Force Rhythm in Blue Jazz Ensemble plus the Berks High School All-Star Jazz Band will perform two free community concerts.

The grand finale for this year’s Fest will feature the exciting world premiere of the East Coast All-Stars featuring musical director and guitarist Chuck Loeb, bassist Will Lee, saxophonists Kim Waters and Bill Evans, trumpeter Randy Brecker (who won a Grammy this year for Best Contemporary Jazz Album for his CD 34th N Lex), keyboardist Alex Bugnon, drummer Omar Hakim, percussionist Ralph McDonald, and guest vocalist Patti Austin. Overall, the 2004 First Energy Berks Jazz Fest promises to be a wonderful experience for thousands of jazz, R & B and blues fans. The fest continues to grow in popularity and attracts over 40,000 people from over 30 states, as well as Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, England and Europe!

A detailed schedule, ticket, hotel and other visitor information for this exciting Fest, produced by the Berks Arts Council, can be found at www.berksjazzfest.com.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.berksjazzfest.com, or by fax by visiting www.berksjazzfest.com and downloading the official order form. Then, fax it back, completed, to 610-898-7297. Tickets can also be obtained by phone at 610-898-7298, calling Ticketmaster at 215-336-2000 or visiting www.ticketmaster.com. The Berks Arts Council is the premier arts organization in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Its mission is to encourage and promote all the arts, to develop an appreciation of the arts and to enrich and enhance the quality of life in Berks County. Formally organized as a nonprofit organization in 1971, the Berks Arts Council’s offices are located in the Pagoda, Reading’s most visible landmark and tourist attraction.

The Berks Jazz Fest has a superb management team, which includes Connie Leinbach - Executive Director, Katharine Marshall - President of the board and Chairperson of the event, John Ernesto – Festival General Manager & Talent coordination/booking manager, Gary Spencer – Production Manager, Mike Anderson – Marketing Director, Mike Zielinski – Publicity Director, Catharine Catanach and Jim Connors – Sponsorship Development, Transportation Coordinator – John Graff, Merchandise: Kathy Aregood, Workshops/Youth Activities team: Tom Brown, Mike Eben, Doc Mulligan, Al Seifarth, John Rozum and Carl Zeplin, and Ticketing by SMG.

The Berks Arts Council includes: Connie Leinbach, Kathy Aregood, Gary Spencer, Bob Coleman, Catherine Catanach, Brenda Hartman and David Edgar Guest. There are also hundreds o of volunteers for the Berks Arts Council and throughout the Berks County community and surrounding Philadelphia area that make the Berks Jazz Fest one of the most successful and enjoyable festivals in the world!

Posted by Peter Böhi at 4:42 PM

January 9, 2004

Peter White - Confidential CD will be released March 23rd

For well over a decade, guitarist Peter White has consistently released chart-topping albums and radio singles that have helped define smooth jazz.  Without pomp and circumstance, White’s distinctive acoustic guitar sound has romanced, danced and entranced listeners with beautiful melodies, lilting rhythms, and spry instrumentation. The British musician evocatively creates aural poetry, eloquently using pop, jazz, Latin, and R&B dialects. White’s ninth solo album, Confidential, will be released March 23rd on Columbia Records.  To start the New Year, radio programmers were serviced the collection’s first single, “Talkin’ Bout Love,” a soulful mid-tempo groove that’s warmed by a Jerry Hey horn arrangement. 

Confidential promises to continue the storied affair between White and his fans.  It’s his most intimate disc to date and he wrote or co-wrote ten new compositions.  He also recorded a gorgeous Brenda Russell tune, “She’s In Love,” featuring the positively heavenly vocals of Christopher Cross and a sexy Latin setting courtesy of producer Paul Brown.  Also collaborating with White on the album were Chris Botti, Brian Culbertson, Mindi Abair, Steve Ferrone, Lenny Castro, Paulinho DaCosta, Michael Paulo, Rex Rideout, Mathew Hager, and Steve Dubin.  The album took over a year to record as White struggled to delve deep within.

“By ‘confidential’ I mean personal and revealing; that’s exactly what this record is to me,” White explained.  “I play from the heart, which is where music ultimately comes from.  It’s about tapping into the soul and allowing the emotions within to pour forth.  The battle is to trust your instincts without trying to be too clever, which only ends up corrupting the process and seldom works anyway.”

Immediately after finishing Confidential, White launched his first headlining Christmas concert tour, which started the day after Thanksgiving and finished December 20th.  Saxophonist Mindi Abair</