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Bebop Fairy Tales

“Mark Ruffin’s Bebop Fairy Tales captures the heart and soul of the American experience during the 20th century with humor, wit and accuracy, just like the solos of the jazz musicians he uses as his artistic muse. It’s the best kind of history: poetic, noetic and hip.”
– Ben Sidran, Musician, Broadcaster, Author of “The Ballad of Tommy LiPuma”.

“The world needs Mark Ruffin’s Bebop Fairy Tales now more than ever. When he writes, The rhythm of the game allows her to interact with her husband without disturbing his enjoyment, I thought he was channeling me and how I learned to love baseball from Dexter Gordon. Baseball, Bebop, the drama of life, all together here. Yes, Bebop is the music of the future and these fairy tales teach us the truth.”
– Maxine Gordon, Author of “Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon”

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Maysa – Blue Velvet Soul

Maysa holds unique status in the world of R&B/Jazz. Her incomparably lush, sensuous vocals have garnered her legions of loyal, loving fans. As featured vocalist of the UK super group Incognito, core member of Stevie Wonder’s Wonderlove and, of course, through her own albums and concerts, Maysa has been thrilling R&B and Jazz audiences for decades.

Blue Velvet Soul is far and away the most sensuous and heartfelt recording of her brilliant career. Maysa thrills us with a stirring rendition of the Mariah Carey classic “I Still Believe” and her version of “Quiet Fire” a loving tribute to her mentor and role model Nancy Wilson that will leave you breathless!

A special highlight is the guest vocal appearance and soulful production by Jean Paul “Bluey” Bluey Maunick , the creator of Incognito, who contribute 3 originals to this. R&B super producer Mike City (Rihanna, Jamie Foxx, Ledisi) contributes several brilliant originals to the mix, and Chris “Big Dog” Davis (Kim Burrell, Will Downing, George Clinton), Maysa’s longtime collaborator and inspiration, round out the inspired supporting cast!

Yellowjackets – A Rise in the Road

2013 release from the veteran Jazz outfit. A Rise In The Road is indeed an appropriate title for a time-honored ensemble that has never been fearful of facing newer musical horizons, not to mention the myriad challenges of life itself. Produced by Ferrante, Mintzer and Kennedy, A Rise In The Road stands shoulder-to-shoulder with their 21 previous efforts.

”It’s about the challenges that people face in their lives and whatever path they are on: It’s not always smooth sailing, it’s not always a level road,” explains Ferrante, with regards to the project’s meaning. ”Certainly, over the 32 years that we’ve been a band, we’ve had things come up, challenges such as musicians that have left the band, business people, relationships that you have built over the years. Things come to an end, and you have to meet the challenge and keep going forward.”

Larry Corban – The Circle Starts Here

Larry Corban’s debut trio recording was created in the company of bassist Harvie S (#1 CD on Billboard Charts 2013, “Witchcraft” duo with Kenny Barron) and drummer Steve Williams (Shirley Horn’s drummer for 25 years). The essence of this band can be described as “the sound of Wes Montgomery playing Countdown in 5/4 with the Miles Davis 60’s quintet rhythm section, Ron Carter and Tony Williams, backing him.” In the guitar trio environment, Larry’s playing has a sharp-edged, metallic chording, stinging single notes, and the seemingly effortless ability to move back and forth between the two modes.

Solo guitar with bass/drums accompaniment is at the centerpiece of this project but the acoustic guitar duets done with overdubbing add another sound texture. Thirteen out of the fourteen songs on this record are penned by Larry with moods ranging from an uptempo 4/4 “burner” (Enjoy the Ride) to a medium tempo “swinger” (Sideswiped) to a moody introspective “bossa” (Roll the Dice) to a gorgeous “ballad” (The Second She Leaves, which features Harvie S bowing the melody). “Seventh Dimension”(in 7/8), “Story Inside My Head” (Countdown changes in 5/4 with a new melody), and “Wolf’s Den” (2 reharmonized chorus of blues ala Joe Henederson) will appeal to jazz fans with an adventurous flair.

“Bossa Barb” is a slow, loose moody bossa with a gorgeous bass solo by Harvie S. “Blink of an Eye” is a “Coltrane/Elvin 3/4” featuring Steve Williams with a solo guitar intro that brings to mind Lenny Breau. The great texture changers are the duets done with overdubs using a steel string acoustic (Seventh Dimension in 7/8), nylon string acoustic (Dreamwheel in 3/4), and Gibson L-5 (3 Hours Late). These acoustic pieces will appeal to John McLaughlin fans of the My Goals Beyond CD and Pat Metheny fans of One Quiet Night. The ballad “Hmm” is a solo guitar piece done with fingers with a relaxed, meditative feel.

“East of the Sun” by Bowman Brooks, the one standard on the CD, is done as a medium tempo with brushes and gets a tour-de-force treatment ala Joe Pass. As interesting as the songs are as musical vehicles, they are written as a way to commemorate and tell the stories of various events that we participate in through life itself.

Bobby McFerrin – Spirityouall

Bobby McFerrin brings it all back home with his new album, spirityouall, re-imagining Americana with beloved spirituals and original songs. Bobby invites us along on his everyday search for grace, wisdom, and freedom, embracing bluegrass and the baroque, heartfelt lyrics and wordless melodies, joy and sorrow.

He throws some unexpected new ingredients into the melting pot and invites us to sing together through life’s trials and triumphs. Across genres, across boundaries, across generations, spirityouall raises the roof with joyful grooves.

About the Artist:

For decades Bobby McFerrin has broken all the rules. The 10-time Grammy winner has blurred the distinction between pop music and fine art, goofing around barefoot in the world’s finest concert halls, exploring uncharted vocal territory, inspiring a whole new generation of a cappella singers and the beatbox movement. His new album, spirityouall re-imagines Americana with beloved spirituals and original songs, raising the roof with joyful grooves. This bluesy, feel-good recording (featuring an incredible lineup of great musicians including Larry Campbell, Charley Drayton, Gil Goldstein, Larry Grenadier, Ali Jackson, and Esperanza Spalding) is an unexpected move from the music-industry rebel who singlehandedly redefined the role of the human voice with his a cappella hit “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” his collaborations with Yo-Yo Ma, Chick Corea and the Vienna Philharmonic, his improvising choir Voicestra, and his legendary solo vocal performances. All that pioneer spirit and virtuosity has opened up a great big sky, including game-changing experiments in multi-tracking (Don’t Worry, Be Happy has seven separate, over-dubbed vocal tracks; Bobby”s choral album VOCAbuLarieS has thousands). But virtuosity isn’t the point. “I try not to “perform” onstage,” says Bobby. “I try to sing the way I sing in my kitchen, because I just can’t help myself. I want to get people to just sing the way they do when they’re just hanging out waiting for the bus, in their regular “blue-jeans” voice. I want to bring audiences into the incredible feeling of joy and freedom I get when I sing. “Ask him where he went to school, and he just might tell you that he is a graduate of MSU: Making Stuff Up. “Music for me is like a spiritual journey down into the depths of my soul,” says McFerrin. “And I like to think we’re all on a journey into our souls. What’s down there? That’s why I do what I do.”

Brandon Bernstein – But Beautiful

But Beautiful is Brandon Bernstein’s debut CD as a bandleader. The CD features  ten jazz standards performed by Brandon on guitar, legendary bassist Putter Smith (formally with Thelonious Monk) and one of Los Angeles finest drummers, Kendall Kay. On But Beautiful the trio takes standards we all know, and love and reinterpret them, infusing the tracks with their own unique feel.



Mavis Staples – One True Vine

With new song offerings from Alan Sparhawk of Low, Nick Lowe, and three new Jeff Tweedy originals, One True Vine is at once a darker and more uplifting album than its Grammy-winning predecessor, You Are Not Alone.

Anchored by reinventions of two ’70s classics – Funkadelic’s ‘Can You Get To That?’ and the Staple Singer’s ‘I Like The Things About Me’ – producer Jeff Tweedy and Staples have constructed a dense narrative that starts with the soul-searching of Sparhawk’s ‘One Holy Ghost’ and Tweedy’s ‘Jesus Wept,’ and then breaks wide open with Nick Lowe’s soaring ‘Far Celestial Shores.’


Camden, NJ, US
Dave Matthews Band with Mavis Staples at Susquehanna Bank Center
Camden, NJ, US
Dave Matthews Band with Mavis Staples at Susquehanna Bank Center
Portland, OR, US
Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival 2013
Apple Valley, MN, US
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue with Mavis Staples at Weesner Amphitheater, Minnesota Zoo
Brecon, UK
Mavis Staples at Market Hall
Oslo, Norway
Oslo Jazzfestival 2013
Chicago, IL, US
Young the Giant with Neko Case, Mavis Staples, The Hold Steady, and 5 more… at Hideout Block Party
Chicago, IL, US
Hideout Block Party with Jon Langford, Young the Giant, Neko Case, and 6 more… at Hideout
Nashville, TN, US
Mavis Staples with The Blind Boys of Alabama at War Memorial Auditorium, Tennessee Performing Arts Center
Seattle, WA, US
Mavis Staples at The Moore Theatre

Christian McBride and Inside Straight – People Music

Any time that Grammy winning bassist, composer,arranger and bandleader Christian McBride steps into the studio or onto a stage he plays what could be called “people music,” but it’s a particularly apt title for the second release by his hard-swinging acoustic quintet Inside Straight. Four years after Kind of Brown, the band’s acclaimed debut album, People Music delivers a more road- tested, “lived-in” Inside Straight, able to dig deep while projecting that ebullient vigor that has become McBride’s trademark.“People Music is my personal mantra as a musician,” McBride says of the title.

“Sometimes jazz musicians can get too caught up in their own heads; they get so serious and so caught up in their creativity that they’re not bringing the people in. So I figure the best way to communicate is to let the people navigate where you should go.” The melody of the new album’s opening track, “Listen to the Heroes Cry,” evokes a modern spiritual, and was inspired by the parade of vapid performances on a music awards show McBride watched one night, which he described as all garish spectacle and absolutely no substance. Six of the album’s eight tracks feature the core lineup of McBride, saxophonist Steve Wilson, vibraphonist Warren Wolf, pianist Peter Martin and drummer Carl Allen.

The other two tracks substitute pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr., who have performed extensively with the band when Martin’s touring schedule with Dianne Reeves or Allen’s duties as Artistic Director of Jazz Studies at Juilliard keep them away from the bandstand. Sands and Owens also comprise McBride’s new trio, which will make its recording debut later this year. While Christian McBride wrote most of the compositions, Wolf provides “Gang Gang,” the name that a dancer (like Wolf’s wife) would use in place of a musician’s “Afro- Cuban” or “12/8” to refer to the song’s surging rhythm.

Sands brings the bright-hued “Dream Train,” while Martin offers the stealth funk of “Unusual Suspects” which recalls the groove of “Used ‘Ta Could” from Kind of Brown. Wilson’s entrancing ballad “Ms. Angelou” draws inspiration from the words and rhythms of the great poet while also exemplifying the saxophonist’s own unique approach. Overall, this recording swings and swings hard.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Glenn Cashman’s Southland Nonet – Music Without Borders

Getting to the Downbeat…

” Why produce a Jazz recording with the Muck? The answer is the inertia of a chance meeting. More than ten years ago, when relocating to California to head the jazz program at CSU, Fullerton, Glenn Cashman and I were simultaneously out and about viewing dwelling spaces. We arrived at the same place at the same time, struck up a conversation and became fast friends. I began to invite Glenn to play on industrial, commercial and demo recordings I was writing, composing and producing. What a brilliant player he was/is! At the time I was on a kick to get to know Fullerton in a more social way. Since I had raised my children there, I decided it was time for some payback.

I began attending charitable events and discovered the Muck. I found the facility to be charming, unique and special. They had an intimate amphitheater perfectly suited to Jazz performances. And all of that was the stunning gift the Muckenthaler family had given to the local citizenry. After the idea germinated, I proposed to Glenn that we create and produce a Jazz Festival there. He agreed and we asked jazz venue pioneer, and former Stan Kenton Orchestra member, Howard Rumsey to advise us. Eight now-sold-out seasons later, we asked ourselves what was next. With the concerts, we have strived not only to host a more Straight Ahead genre but also to honor the quality and spirit of the Muckenthalers’ gift by inviting only the highest possible caliber of players to concertize there. Following that mission and purpose we now wish to distribute the goods news farther afield. The actual music recorded here represents Glenn Cashman’s composing and arranging abilities to be of the highest possible order.

And as a bandleader and player, combined with the brilliance of the full band represented herein, I believe this recording fulfills that requirement. Also, please understand this recording was funded with donations from those who have become believers in our cause through concert attendance! We wish to thank them, honor their generous spirits, and multiply their gifts by sharing the proceeds from this recording with the Muckenthaler Cultural Center and with Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières). We also wish to thank you for your support. We believe in the universal appeal of having given your best effort and sharing it. Combining all of the above thoughts with the international interest in Jazz Music we entitled this recording  Music Without Borders. We hope you will love this recording and recommend it to your friends.”

– Eric Futterer (Guitar)


Robin Bessier – Other Side of Forever

Robin Bessier’s debut album, Other Side of Forever is a musical journey — a kaleidoscope of musical influences and philosophical perspectives, including five never-before recorded originals, and fresh takes on a few select jazz standards.

Bessier’s crystalline vocals are met with lush arrangements that include all six members of the band on-deck; small combos that dig deep into the groove of each song; and stripped-down impromptu pieces with piano and voice alone. The album interweaves toe-tapping swing tunes, with cool and swaying bossas, haunting ballads and effervescent sambas.

The album begins with one of Bessier’s originals, a swinging “Don’t Worry, We’ve Got You.” Reminiscent of Freddy Green, guitarist Dan Sales does serious justice with his back-up and solo.

“Jubilee” is a joy-infused piece that drops you into a Caribbean street parade. Percussionist Jeff Busch brings out all his toys on this piece, and Jay Thomas clones himself, playing both trumpet and saxophone in a call and response solo. Producer/arranger Barney McClure adds his voice to the chorus vocals here.

“God Bless the Child” is a simple, soulful rendition, featuring Barney McClure on piano (the only song he plays on in this album, that otherwise features the phenomenal Darin Clendenin on piano). Barney is a monster player in his own right, and this song is just a hint of what he is capable of. A consummate accompanist, he lays back and gives Bessier room to move.

“Right Here, Right Now” is another Bessier original, written the morning after she sang for the first time with Barney at the renowned Upstage Theater and Restaurant in Port Townsend. It should be noted that Barney had shared the title song “Other Side of Forever” with Robin during rehearsal that previous afternoon. These initial steps began the journey that became this album.

“Prelude to a Kiss” is inspired by, and dedicated to, the extraordinary jazz singer, Jan Stentz, who passed out of this physical realm much too young. Her consummate musicianship and beautiful spirit remain a constant influence.

Barney’s Latin song “Too Nice” was too fun not to include in this album. And listen for the solo section. Jay Thomas and Darin Clendenin smoke.

“Whisper” is one of Bessier’s first compositions, written before the turn of the century (sadly yes, this is true…). To hear this piece come to life under the skilled hands of these world class musicians was a dream come true.

“Better Than Anything” poses a philosophical question that has been debated for several years, but there is no debating that this version, which features the masterful Mark Ivester on drums, offers up more than your average waltz.

Daren Clendenin arranged the beautiful Herbie Hancock song “Harvest Time” in a way that honors the original instrumental version, with a seamless blending of the vocal that includes words by Herbie’s sister Jean. Darin’s sensitive playing, that manages to be light yet full of substance at the same time is exquisite, allowing Bessier the freedom to be introspective and to soar.

“The Very Thought of You,” typically done as a ballad, takes on new energy with this swinging version. The brilliant bassist Clipper Anderson, who shines throughout this album, is featured on the solo section.

“On the other side of forever…” The words and haunting melody of the title track of this album evoke a yearning for what was, for what could have been; the bittersweet impermanence of life here in the this physical plane; the illusion and fleeting nature of time; and ultimately, the value of living in and appreciating the simplicity of each moment.

  • Robin Bessier – Voice
    (Pronounced: Robin Bess-­‐ee-­‐ay’)
  • Darin Clendenin – Piano
    (Pronounced: Darin Clen-­‐den’-­‐in)
  • Clipper Anderson – Bass
  • Mark Ivester – Drums
    (Pronounced: Mark I’-­‐ves-­‐ter)
  • Jay Thomas –Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Tenor & Soprano Sax
  • Jeff Busch – Percussion
  • Dan Sales – Guitar & Banjo
  • *Mike McKinley – hand percussion on Jubilee
  • *David Lange – hand percussion on Jubilee
    (Pronounced David LANG)
  • *Barney McClure – piano on God Bless the Child; background vocals and hand percussion on Jubilee

George Duke – Dreamweaver

The scope of keyboardist-composer-producer George Duke’s imprint on jazz and pop music over the past forty years is almost impossible to calculate. He has collaborated with some of the most prominent figures in the industry. A producer since the 1980s, he has crafted scores of fine recordings – many of them GRAMMY? winners – for artists representing almost every corner of the contemporary American music landscape.

Duke was born in San Rafael, California, in January 1946. When he was four, his mother took him to a performance by that other Duke of jazz, Duke Ellington. He admits that he doesn’t remember much of the performance, but his mother told him years later that he spent the next several days demanding a piano.

Duke began his formal training on the instrument at age seven, his earliest influence being the culturally and historically rich black music of his local Baptist church. By his teen years, his universe of musical influences had expanded to include the more secular sounds of young jazz mavericks like Miles Davis, Les McCann and Cal Tjader – all of whom inspired him to play in numerous high school jazz groups. After high school, he attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and received a bachelors degree in 1967.

But perhaps the most important lessons came after college, when Duke joined Al Jarreau in forming the house band at the Half Note, the popular San Francisco club, in the late ‘60s. He also played with Sonny Rollins and Dexter Gordon in other San Francisco clubs around the same time.

For the next several years, Duke experimented with jazz and fusion by collaborating and performing with artists as diverse as Jean Luc-Ponty, Frank Zappa, Cannonball Adderley, Nancy Wilson, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Cobham and Stanley Clarke. He launched his solo recording career at age 20, and shortly thereafter began cutting LPs for the MPS label in the ‘70s. As the decade progressed, he veered more toward fusion, R&B and funk with albums like From Me To You (1976) and Reach For It(1978).

During this period he recorded what is possibly his best known album, Brazilian Love Affair. Released in 1980, the album included vocals by Flora Purim and Milton Nascimento, and percussion by Airto Moreira. Love Affair stood in marked contrast to the other jazz/funk styled albums he was cutting at the time.

Duke’s reputation as a skilled producer was also gathering steam. By the end of the ‘80s, he had made his mark as a versatile producer by helping to craft recordings by a broad cross section of jazz, R&B and pop artists: Raoul de Souza, Dee Dee Bridgewater, A Taste of Honey, Jeffrey Osborne, Deniece Williams, Melissa Manchester, Al Jarreau, Barry Manilow, Smokey Robinson, The Pointer Sisters, Take 6, Gladys Knight, Anita Baker and many others. Several of these projects scored GRAMMY? Awards.

During this time, Duke was just as busy outside the studio as inside. He worked as musical director for numerous large-scale events, including the Nelson Mandela tribute concert at Wembley Stadium in London in 1988. The following year, along with Marcus Miller, he served as musical director of NBC’s acclaimed late-night music performance program, Sunday Night.

The ‘90s were no less hectic. He toured Europe and Japan with Dianne Reeves and Najee in 1991, and joined the Warner Brothers label the following year with the release of Snapshot, an album that stayed at the top of the jazz charts for five weeks and generated the top 10 R&B single, “No Rhyme, No Reason.”

Other noteworthy albums in the ‘90s included the orchestral tour de force Muir Woods Suite (1993) and the eclecticIllusions (1995), in addition to the numerous records Duke produced for a variety of other artists: Najee, George Howard, the Winans, and Natalie Cole (Duke produced 1/3 of the material on Cole’s GRAMMY?-winning 1996 release, Stardust).

In 2000, Duke severed his ties with Warner Records and launched his own record label, BPM (Big Piano Music). “I spent thirty years at other labels as a recording artist,” he says. “I felt it was time for me to step up to the next level of challenge and form a company that would give me and other artists the opportunity to create quality music and push back the musical restraints that dominate most record labels these days.”

But even with the new responsibilities and challenges associated with running a record label, Duke has continued to juggle the multiple career tracks of recording solo albums, international touring and producing records for other artists. In addition to his own Face the Music (2002), he also produced recent records for Wayman Tisdale, Dianne Reeves, Kelly Price, Regina Belle and Marilyn Scott.

For the better part of 25 years, Duke has also composed and recorded numerous scores for film and television. In addition to nine years as the musical director for the Soul Train Music Awards, he also wrote music – either individual songs or entire soundtracks – for a number of films, including The Five Heartbeats, Karate Kid III, Leap of Faith, Never Die Alone andMeteor Man.

With more than thirty solo recordings in his canon and a resume that spans more than 40 years, Duke joins forces with the Heads Up label with the August 26, 2008, release of Dukey Treats, a return to the old-school funk sensibilities of icons like James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone and Parliament/Funkadelic. A careful balance of rhythmic energy and simmering balladry, Dukey Treats recalls the golden age of funk and soul, while at the same time maintaining a fresh sound and addressing issues that are relevant to the global culture of the 21st century.

“I feel a responsibility to carry positive messages in my music,” says Duke. “I think music is meant to lift people up. I don’t think you can push things under the rug and not address them. Those who have the ability and the opportunity to let people know what’s going on musically and socially should not be afraid to say it and do it and play about it and sing about it.”

Pablo Ablanedo Octet – ReContraDoble

Pablo Ablanedo was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is a composer, pianist and music educator. In 1996, he graduated with a diploma in Jazz Composition from Berklee College of Music, where he took part in the last courses taught by the legendary trumpet player Herb Pomeroy. Pablo’s artistic development owes much to the Argentinian classical pianist Susana Bonora, with who he has been working since the 80’s. In 1999, he joined forces with a diverse group of jazz players to form the Pablo Ablanedo Octet.

In the decade since, Pablo has recorded three albums on Fresh Sound New Talent Records. From Down There (2001) and Alegría (2004) received 4 and 4½ stars, respectively, in Down Beat Magazine, and JazzMan Magazine (France) gave the multi-artist project The Sound of New York Underground (2004) its highest rating CHOC. Pablo’s work has also been commissioned by Paquito D’Rivera to be performed by Germany’s NDR Big Band.

His current release is Recontradoble, a new album recorded with his Octet after a successful fund rising project on Kickstarter.com. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with his wife, the french painter Lucile Chaurin Ablanedo and their basset hound Tosca.

Booker T – Sound The Alarm

A plethora of captivating artists join Booker on his upcoming celebratory return to Stax Records, including Anthony Hamilton, Raphael Saadiq, Mayer Hawthorne, Estelle, Vintage Trouble, Luke James and James Jay Picton among many others. Gary Clark Jr., Poncho Sanchez, and Sheila E. also contribute their singular instrumental prowess to the soulful tracks among this highly anticipated release.

Booker T Jones is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Musicians Hall of Fame inductee and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. Arguably, as the leader of the legendary Memphis soul icons, Booker T and the MG’s, he single-handedly set the cast for modern soul on classic Stax tunes like “Green Onions” and “Time is Tight.”

Matt Herskowitz – Upstairs

Matt Herskowitz blends jazz and classical influences on his new solo piano recording titled Upstairs. Released on Justin Time Records, the CD was recorded live at Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on November 6, 2011. Upstairs is Mr. Herskowitz’s follow up to his 2010 acclaimed Jerusalem Trilogy and features songs composed by Dave Brubeck (“Dziekuje”), Michel Petrucciani (“Cantabile”), J.S. Bach (“Bach A La Jazz) and George & Ira Gershwin (“But Not For Me,” and “I’ve Got Rhythm”).

Herskowitz also wrote and arranged several originals for the program. The night opened with Mr. Herskowitz’s interpretation of Dave Brubeck’s rhapsodic homage to Chopin titled “Dziekuje.” His performance got raves from the late pianist himself and Herskowitz’s tribute to his friend is certainly one of the most inspired performances on the recording. Further inspiration came from Mr. Herskowitz’s visit to Moscow as a competitor in the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition.

“Waltz In Moscow” is a refined piece that emphasizes Herskowitz’s classical influences and calls attention to his fluid pianism. He further accentuates his classical flair in “Traumerei” by Robert Schumann. His stellar arrangement makes this masterwork accessible to a new generation of pianists who may excel in the classical/jazz genre by adding it to their repertoire. The entire recording underlines Mr. Herskowitz’s virtuosity and finesse as a pianist and ranks among his finest works

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Dave Koz and Friends – Summer Horns

Dave Koz is joined by a front line of top-notch horn players (Mindi Abair, Richard Elliot & Gerald Albright) to re-interpret an array of powerhouse horn-heavy songs made famous by Tower of Power, Chicago, EW&F, James Brown, Sly & The Family Stone, Ronnie Laws, Blood Sweat & Tears and others.

Three of the world’s best horn arrangers are contributing their talents: Greg Adams (Tower of Power) and Tom Scott. Topping it off is a sax-only rendition of “Take Five” with Gordon Goodwin offering his arrangement to the quartet.

George Benson – Inspiration (A Tribute To Nat King Cole)

After four years of touring and developing “An Unforgettable Tribute to Nat King Cole,” the legendary George Benson makes his most inspired album: Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole. The recording is one of the most meaningful of Benson’s career and is a testament to the spirit of Cole’s timeless body of work.

Benson’s heartfelt renditions of some of Cole’s greatest songs with Nelson Riddle arrangements and the 42-piece Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra are complemented by duets with Tony Award winner Idina Menzel and rising star Judith Hill, along with a special collaboration with multi-GRAMMY and Pulitzer Prize-winning trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.

Keith Jarrett – Somewhere

Now in its 30th year, the Keith Jarrett Trio is widely considered, as the NY Times recently remarked, to have set the gold standard for jazz groups, and this sparkling concert recording from 2009 is issued to mark a milestone anniversary.

The Somewhere in which the Standards trio find themselves is Lucerne, Switzerland with a performance both exploratory and in-the-tradition. The Neue Zurcher Zeitung headlined its review of the show Kontrollierte Ekstase controlled ecstasy an apt metaphor for a set that begins in improvisational Deep Space modulates into Miles Davis Solar, soars through the standards Stars Fell On Alabama and Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea and climaxes with an extended romp through West Side Story, as Bernsteins Somewhere and Tonight are bridged by the freely associative Jarrett original Everywhere.

Terence Blanchard – Magnetic

Magnetic marks Terence Blanchard’s return to Blue Note Records after an eight-year sojourn in which he wrote and performed large scale works for film, and cut smaller group offerings for Concord. He utilizes his fine live band in the studio here — tenor saxophonist Brice Winston, drummer Kendrick Scott, dazzling pianist Fabian Almazan, and 21-year-old bassist Joshua Crumbly. Bassist Ron Carter guests on a pair of tracks, as does saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, while guitarist Lionel Loueke plays on three.

Blanchard composed four tracks here, and the members of his quintet all contributed selections — Almazan even has an unaccompanied solo piece on the record. Given the variety of composers, this is a more musically diverse set than the trumpeter has offered in a while. His title track utilizes funky syncopation and electronics on his horn (they play a part on most of his tunes) as the band engages knotty post-bop and modalism with gorgeous breakbeats by Scott and a fine solo by Winston. Almazan’s “Pet Step Sitter’s Theme Song,” with Coltrane and Loueke, commences with an arpeggiated Latin tinge on piano before the frontline enters and begins to deconstruct it, using just enough of the theme to create a jumping off point for muscular abstraction. Loueke’s guitar effects become a lovely foil for Coltrane’s solo, and provide a bridge between the soloist and pianist.

The electronics in Blanchard’s solo multiply his lines which alternately deftly skate and take on the rhythm section. Scott’s “No Borders Just Horizons” implies a kind of swinging, modal post-bop before it moves into Latin terrain and shifts back in Winston’s solo ending, somewhere outside all these touch points. Blanchard’s “Central Focus” is almost straight-ahead post-bop with elements of New Orleans jazz tossed into his solo. Winston’s “Time to Spare” is introduced by a tight yet complex lyric line, and when joined by Blanchard and the rhythm section, the tune becomes an uptempo groover. His solo engages intensely with the rhythm section. With its wealth of ideas, colors, and textures, Magnetic is evidence of a band firing on all cylinders with enthusiasm, imagination, and considerable sophistication. ~ Thom Jurek – http://www.bluenote.com/artists/terence-blanchard/magnetic

JD Allen – Grace

Far from new to the jazz world, JD Allen has been on the New York scene for more than a decade, lending his astute playing to a string of headline jazz names, from Betty Carter to Cindy Blackman to Lisa Hilton. On Grace, he is joined here by pianist Eldar Djangirov, bassist Dezron Douglas and drummer Jonathan Barber.

Allen’s usually piano-less ensemble explores new territory with works that challenge preconceptions and expand the expressive potential of jazz composition. Grace features JD Allen doing what he does best, wailing on that saxophone of his and giving it all he’s got. Check him out…

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Gerald Clayton – Life Forum

Pianist Gerald Clayton’s debut recording for Concord Jazz titled Life Forum is a meaningful musical exchange that features him with trio members bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Justin Brown. Saxophonists Logan Richardson, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, vocalists Gretchen Parlato, Sachal Vasandani and poet Carl Hancock Rux round out the ensemble.

The set opens with Rux’s spoken word performance of Life Forum which provides the foundation for “Future Reflection.” This song features Clayton’s diverse pianism and Parlato/Vasandani’s vocalese over the horn players and Clayton. Gerald Clayton’s stellar performance justifies his triple GRAMMY nominations as a bandleader/composer but also reflects his penchant for larger ensembles that detail his compositional integrity.

Life Forum is a masterwork by a highly talented young pianist/composer whose extensive repertoire is sure to please for years to come.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Bob James and David Sanborn – Quartette Humaine

Quartette Humaine is the first creative collaboration between keyboardist-composer Bob James and alto saxophonist David Sanborn since their million-selling, Grammy-winning album, Double Vision, twenty-five years ago. With Quartette Humaine, James and Sanborn eschew the pop and R&B production values that mark large chunks of their careers and offer instead an all-acoustic quartet recital consisting of six new compositions by James, three pieces by Sanborn and a James-arranged standard.

Joined by legendary drummer Steve Gadd and bass giant James Genus, Quartette Humaine is reflective and swinging with unfailingly melodic improvising and beautiful tonalities. “We felt it’s far more exciting and adventurous to move forward,” James says. “Times have changed and we have changed.” Adds Sanborn, “At this stage of my life, I wanted more than anything to play music that’s challenging and fun, outside the style we’ve been associated with.”

It’s a poignant coincidence that the recording sessions occurred a week after the death of iconic pianist-composer Dave Brubeck, and the album evokes the sound of the Brubeck quartet with Paul Desmond. Bob James and David Sanborn have produced another masterpiece.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Sasha’s Bloc – Melancholy

Formed in 2012 by bassist, Alexander Gershman, Sasha’s Bloc is an electric mix of musicians focused on the revival of the jazz culture of the 1920’s and 30’s, combined with adaptation of modern jazz original compositions. All 50 live performances at the finest clubs in LA have been sold out events resurrecting the spirit and greatness of the American Jazz Classics.

Sasha’s Bloc debut release Melancholy is filled with original songs written by Alexander Gershman and Carina Cooper, the  young talented vocalist, and recorded in collaboration with some of the finest and most renowned jazz musicians the world has offer such as: Brandon Fields (saxophone), Lenni Castro (percussion), Herman Jackson (piano), Mark Cargill (violin), Nahum Zdybel (guitar), Bob McChesney (trombone), Will Wheaton (vocals), Adam “Aejaye” Jackson (vocals).

  1. I’m So In Love (feat. Adam “Aejaye” Jackson & Carina Cooper) 3:33
  2. Let’s Dance Together (feat.Caria Cooper & Mark Cargill) 4:53
  3. Melancholy (feat. Maxayn Lewis & Brandon Fields) 3:54
  4. Playful Blues (feat. Will Wheaton, Joe DiBlasi & Herman Jackson) 4:47
  5. Rancho State Of Mind (feat. Carina Cooper, Adam Jackson & Lenny Castro) 4:19
  6. Joke (feat.Alexander Gershman & Carina Cooper) 3:11
  7. Paradise (feat.Lenny Castro, Brandon Fields & Carina Cooper) 4:12
  8. Universal Swing (feat.Carina Cooper) 2:30
  9. Someone Real (feat. Carina Cooper) 3:27
Sasha’s Bloc is…

  • Alex Gershman (bass)
  • Sergey Chipenko (piano)
  • Herman Jackson (piano)
  • Brandon Fields (saxophone)
  • Bob McChesney (trombone)
  • Nahum Zdybel (guitarist)
  • Mark Cargill (violin)
  • Kevin Winard (drums)
  • Lenni Castro (percussion)
  • Carina Cooper (vocals)
  • Peggi Blu (vocals)
  • AJ Adam Jackson (vocals)
  • Will Wheaton (vocals)

Beata Pater – Red

Red is the third recording in Beata Pater’s color series, her sixth solo recording. With her previous release, Blue, Beata’s voice became the lead instrument, vocalizing in original compositions expressing her unique tone and character.

In Red, Beata expresses her unique jazz vocalizations with an energetic groove built by a coterie of musicians including Mark Little on keys, Aaron Germain on bass, Andre Bush on guitar, Darius Babazadeh on sax and flute, Ranzel Merritt on drums, Raul Ramirez on percussion, Carl Lockett on guitar, Celia Malheiros on guitar, Kush Khanna on table, Tom Peron on trumpet, Buca Necak on contrabass and vocalist Doug Edwards.

Reprinted with permission of…

Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Lynn Jolicoeur and The Pulse – World Behind Your Eyes

Sit back, close your eyes, and come on an emotional musical journey. World Behind Your Eyes, Lynn Jolicoeur and The Pulse’s debut release, will take you soaring high on all of life’s possibilities with an inspiring groove or fun waltz; teetering outside your comfort zone on a powerful jazz/rock beat; and feeling the many complexities of love through an upbeat swing or sultry ballad.

For Lynn and her band mates, music is about feeling, connecting, and being touched. For Lynn, that exploration is something like the powerful peace she feels when she’s near the ocean. But sometimes it’s as simple as giving a boost to the day or sparking a happy memory through song. From the first moments of the CD, the rich tone, supreme clarity, and romantic expression of Lynn’s voice will draw you in. Her cohesion with the band – with its catchy, contemporary sound, tight rhythms, and dynamic improvisation – will make you want to hear more.

The CD starts with a modern take on Chick Corea’s “Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly,” which sets the mood for this musical trip. The band achieves a groove that’s impressive in its ability to energize or relax, and Lynn’s mellifluous but powerful vocals fly easily over the tune. The song features solos by guitarist Mike Natsis, who exhibits a strong blending of jazz and fusion influences; and drummer Jean-marie Corrois, who immediately demonstrates his vibrant, intricate, yet seamless style.

The second track is a lively rendition of the 1933 Brooks Bowman classic, “East Of The Sun,” in which Lynn’s creative turns on the melody give the song an uplifting new feel. The band’s trading solos help keep the energy moving.

The third song on the CD, “Home,” is one of the first originals for the band written by its pianist, Steven Travis, and regularly receives acclaim from live audiences. The moving lyrics and beautiful melody, which Lynn delivers with just the right mix of strength and laid-back emotion, help make this ballad one that will keep playing in your mind.

In “Behind Your Eyes,” the title track of the CD, Lynn sings of a passionate moment by the ocean and a quest to reach that special person’s inner world. Also written by pianist Travis, the song features a striking jazz/pop beat strengthened by the compelling bass line played by Warren Olsen, and improvisational trading on the solos between Jolicoeur and guitarist Natsis.

Track 5 is the band’s unique take on Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Like A Star,” which beautifully demonstrates the varied textures of Lynn’s voice. Her well-supported vocal control is evident as she glides effortlessly between her registers, with a slightly breathy sound in all the right places. A relaxed Latin rhythm complemented by nylon string guitar riffs sets the perfect mood, which is capped off by a delicately balanced piano solo by Travis.

In the cover of Kevyn Lettau’s “Little Things,” an energetic but relaxed beat is fueled by the amazing alto sax fills and solo by Bill Vint. Brief drum solos interspersed with vocal interludes add to the band’s arrangement of this contemporary jazz tune, which might inspire you to stop and notice the little things in life we so often take for granted!

“Tucked Away” is a ballad written by Jolicoeur with help from pianist Travis in composing the music. Coming from a pop/rock influence, the song conveys a unique feel with a jazzy touch in the drumming by Corrois. The sentiment and strength in Jolicoeur’s vocals, and an edgy solo by guitarist Natsis, add to the layers of this original tune.

Track 8 features swinging vocals and drum work in a medium-tempo contemporary waltz called “Maple And Main.” Also written by Steven Travis, the song’s uplifting lyrics delivered in Lynn’s bright but warm vocal style keep the song moving, but also connect the listener to its message. A spirited solo by guitarist Natsis leads to breezy vocal improvisation by Jolicoeur to round out this original that you’re likely to find yourself singing after it’s done.

The ninth song on the CD is an original take on a hit Police tune. In “Every Little Thing He Does Is Magic,” Lynn and the band achieve a romantic Latin-inspired feel. The simplicity of the instrumentation is infused with a peaceful energy in the intricate guitar solo by Natsis.

“Out Of My Comfort Zone” is the first original written for the band by pianist Steven Travis. In this contemporary jazz/pop-rock song, the driving beat and Lynn’s electric vocals will take you to the edge of exploring your comfort zone and the off-kilter feeling of taking a risk or trying something new. An energetic solo by Olsen on electric bass takes off after the bridge and helps build momentum, which culminates in a vocal vamp and resonating ending by the band.

Track 11 is a smoky cover of “In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning,” the title track of a 1955 Frank Sinatra album. The purity and power of Jolicoeur’s voice help her beautifully convey the sense of longing portrayed in the song. That feeling is completed by Vint’s perfect touch on tenor sax complementing the tasty piano comping of Travis.

The final track is the band’s arrangement of “A Sleepin’ Bee,” a standard co-written by Truman Capote for the 1955 musical House of Flowers. Lynn’s innate phrasing talent is evident; and combined with the bopping swing beat, articulate piano fills, and vocal/instrumental interludes, gives the tune a fresh feel that nicely rounds out this eclectic compilation.

KT Tunestall – Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon

KT Tunstall’s stunning new album ‘Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon’ is both a return to the delicate simplicity of the multi-platinum artist’s early work and an evolution of her sound. IECM’s country-folk tinged undercurrents grew out of KT’s decision to travel to Tucson, Arizona to record with producer & alt-country leading light Howe Gelb (aka Giant Sand). KT describes the album as “full of songs from the heart,” adding “I followed my path of truth and ended up in a different place.”

‘Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon’ is set for an August 6, 2013  in the U.S. on Blue Note Records.  IECM – KT’s 4th studio album overall & the 1st to be released on Blue Note – will come out June 10, 2013  U.K. on Virgin Records.

Carol Duboc – Smile

Since her emergence onto the adult contemporary/urban jazz scene in the early 2000s, Carol Duboc has generously shared her wisdom and insight about love and romance in song via both compelling original material and uniquely stylized covers of pop classics. On her multi-faceted new album Smile, the sultry singer and songwriter goes deeper emotionally than ever before.

Inspired by the steep challenges and great joys of keeping a long term relationship afloat, the 10 track collection invites fans and new listeners alike to experience compelling moments along the journey—from confusion and darkness to sparks of daylight and the assurance that no matter what, all will somehow work out for the best.

Carol co-produced Smile (and co-wrote all but one of its songs) with Grammy nominated keyboardist, recording artist, composer and producer Jeff Lorber, who played on her popular 2002 release Duboc and co-wrote the track “I Wanna Love Someone” with her on that album. Lorber invited several of the studio greats who worked on his most recent Jeff Lorber Fusion recording Galaxy to add their jazzy sensibilities and soulful power to the Smile sessions – including drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, electric bassist Jimmy Haslip and guitarist Michael Thompson. Select tracks of Smile feature Grammy nominated bassist Brian Bromberg.

Carol has received much critical acclaim for her solo recordings and live performances over the years. Christopher Loudon of Jazz Times Magazine wrote: “…keenly imaginative Duboc [is] one of the most interesting and dynamic jazz singers of her generation.” Don Heckman of the LA Times referred to her   as an “Unsung hero”  and declared that her “singing has the strength and originality to move her into the top level of jazz vocalists regardless of genre.”

The Kansas City native first stepped out as a solo artist with her unique urban jazz style on her 2001 Gold Note debut With All That I Am, a set of original songs which earned critical acclaim and established her as a dynamic new jazz-influenced singer/songwriter. Sandy Shore, founder of smoothjazz.com captured the industry and fan response when she declared, “Smooth Jazz has a new poster girl!” This album featured legendary three time Grammy nominated flutist Hubert Laws, whose inimitable contributions have been a joyful constant throughout the singer’s recording career.

Upon the release the next year of her self-titled Duboc, a collection of mostly original songs featuring guest spots by Lorber, keyboardist Patrice Rushen and saxophonist Gerald Albright, Christopher Louden of Jazz Times spoke for many when he exclaimed: “ “Those who think that lightning never strikes twice are advised to lend an ear to Carol Duboc’s sophomore CD.” All Of You (2005) and Songs for Lovers (2008), both of which spawned singles that reached the Top 5 of the Radio & Records airplay chart, continued the singer’s trend of mixing colorful, romantic originals with classics by everyone from The Beatles, Bill Withers and Sting (All of You) to Marvin Gaye and Roberta Flack (Songs for Lovers).

After moving back to her hometown of Kansas City after many years in Los Angeles, Carol released a powerful tribute to another KC native, the Burt Bacharach Songbook. The 12 track set featured Laws along with the singer’s all-star Kansas City quartet including Danny Embrey (Sergio Mendes, Karrin Allyson), Bob Bowman (Freddie Hubbard), Joe Cartwright (Mel Torme) and Tim Cambron. Duboc originally recorded one of the Bacharach classics (“Anyone Who Had A Heart”) on her Duboc CD.

Beyond her career as a recording artist, Carol has had her songs on many gold and platinum recordings whose sales total over four million units. Over the years, she has written and arranged for Patti Labelle (“This Word Is All” on the gold selling Gems), Chante Moore (the title track on the gold selling Precious), Tom Jones (“Fly Away,” a Top Ten hit in the UK), Stephanie Mills (“Never Do You Wrong”), Jade (“That Boy” on the platinum debut Jade To The Max), Ricky Lawson, Maurice White, George Duke and The Fine Young Cannibals, among many others.

The singer made her big screen debut in 2005 as “Pumpkin” in Be Cool, which starred John Travolta, Uma Thurman and Danny DeVito. In addition, Carol has been a special guest on several Ladies’ Jazz all-star compilations along with icons from different eras, including Sarah Vaughan, Jane Monheit, Diana Krall, Dinah Washington and others.

Carol started started playing piano at age five and saxophone at age 8. She moved to Los Angeles to attend USC’s School of Music, where she majored in vocal performance and music composition and minored in music engineering. While at USC, her soulful vocal style and songwriting talents attracted the attention of legendary hip hop producer Teddy Riley–and as word spread of her diverse talents as a singer and songwriter, she began working with the top artists and producers in the business.

Carol currently lives in Los Angeles California and is the founder of the popular website Wineandmusic.com, the #3 radio station in the genre on Live365.com, which specializes in pairing fine wine with great music

Elliot Levine & Urban Grooves – 347 Live!

What a difference an “e” makes, especially in jazz. Remove the last one from Elliot Levine’s name and you get Elliot Levin, a free jazztenor saxophone and poet from hell with whom Levine is frequently confused. Even with the “e” back in place, this talented keyboardist and composer from the Baltimore/Washington area sometimes gets calls inquiring about hiring a Hebrew cantor. Levine just directs these to the proper place, the New York cantor, choir director and composer Ellliot Levine, and then goes back about his business of getting funky.

Levine’s background includes plenty of that, including an especially noteworthy stint behind soul giant Wilson Pickett. He has also worked with groups such as King Britt and Silk 130. Levine gigs regularly at clubs and festivals, including the St. Croix Jazz Festival. His group has opened for Brian McKnight and Freddy Jackson.

Featuring vocalists Brian Blunt and Koshka Raynelle.
Brian Blunt sang backup for Bruce Springsteen at the Superbowl.
Koshka Raynelle performed on America’s Got Talent and American Idol.

Lawson Rollins – Full Circle

Having traversed the world in search of intriguing sounds from virtually every corner of the globe with his beloved Spanish guitar en tow, Lawson Rollins has come full circle on his aptly titled fourth solo album, “Full Circle,” which will be released July 16th by his Infinita Records.

Adopting a “less can be more” philosophy on the twelve new songs that he composed allows the focus to be on Rollins’ captivating melodies and dexterous fretwork that unfold over worldbeat rhythms and multicultural instrumentation. Radio listeners will be introduced to the collection Rollins produced with multi-platinum producer Dominic Camardella (Ottmar Liebert, Flora Purim, 3rd Force) when the first single, “Momentum,” is shipped to stations in June.

Just as he has on his previous releases, Rollins entered the recording studio with Camardella (keyboards, piano) and a gifted ensemble comprised of Grammy-winning violinist Charlie Bisharat, bassist Randy Tico, percussionist Dave Bryant and saxophonist/flutist Richard Hardy. Rollins plays classical, flamenco and electric guitars on “Full Circle” along with keyboards and drum programming. The multilingual etchings of the erudite guitarist fluctuate in tone and speed. Rooting the compositions in sparser settingsthan utilized on his earlier albums(“Elevation,” “Espirito” and “Infinita”), the storytelling guitarist spins enthralling escapades with his six-string that are the focal point of the sonicscapes.

Rollins relishes the challenge of presenting material masterfully performed as audacious amalgams constructed of mesmerizing melodies and exotic rhythms mined from Afro-Cuban rumba, bossa nova, samba, mystical Middle Eastern, tango, reggae, rock, classical and jazz. Each cut was thoughtfully crafted resulting in numerous highlights on the disc. “Momentum” rides a relentless rumba-flavored groove seasoned with a hint of Japanese folk music along a marching motion of melody. The rumba party continues on “Pursuit,” which incorporates an Appalachian fiddle motifto the thrilling chase. “Flight” and “Bloom” romance by way of sultry bossa nova ambiances and a pristine nylon guitar sound. The title cut recalls Rollins earlier work as a member of Young & Rollins(2000-2006) with an updated approach to the salsa stylings. “Gone From Here” is a sprawling rumba meets rock stroll on which Rollins makes a rare pronouncement on electric guitar. Another diverse number that Rollins refers to as a “journey piece” because of its deviation from the typical song structure, “Shifting Seasons” is like 4 songs in one song that meldsfolk, Asian elements, rumba and bolero rhythms.

“’Full Circle’ is somewhat of a return to my roots in a sense, with the focus shifting to a sound that is more centered and grounded in the instrument I know best -the nylon string Spanish guitar. I was determined and indeed excited to create a cohesive, guitar-focused album. I had to reign in my instinct to apply layer upon layer of sound to any given track. That’s not to say that ‘Full Circle’ does not have some adventurous musical rides, but the heart of the album can be found in concise musical statements. Woven throughout the fabric of the recordings is the constant thread of the guitar. ‘Full Circle’ is perhaps the most accurate, pointed expression of my guitar style and approach to melody and songcraftto date,” said the San Francisco-based Rollins. Rollins has generated over 7.5 million YouTube views, an extraordinarily high number for an instrumentalist in his genre. Over 6 million views came from the release of three astonishing performance clips – “The Fire Cadenza,” “Santa Ana Wind” and Locomotion” – with the balance comprised of fans posting videos of their own attempts to replicate his astoundingly prodigious techniques. Rollins scored a #1 radio single at Billboard with “Moonlight Samba” from the “Espirito” album in addition to collecting several Top 30 contemporary jazz radio hits. Last year, he guest hosted a national radio program on Sirius XM and was profiled in Guitar Playermagazine, which marveled “He possesses ungodly classical chops, with dazzling speed, uncanny accuracy, and a beautifully delicate touch.”

The songs contained on Rollins’ “Full Circle” album are:
“Point of Attraction”
“Full Circle”
“Serpent’s Tale”
“The Offering”
“Gone From Here”
“Shifting Seasons”

For more information, please visit www.lawsonrollins.com.

James Morrison – Snappy Too

Snappy Too is the sequel to James Morrison’s recording of twenty years ago titled Snappy Doo and features Morrison playing four trumpets, four trombones, five saxophones, flugel horn, bass-trumpet and piano! Now that’s what you’d normally call a “one-man-big-band” but Morrision partnered with drummer Jeff Hamilton for this very large over-dubbing project.

The result is stellar and you’re going to be amazed at the professional sound that engineer Tod Deeley has given this recording by putting down one instrument at a time. This creative odyssey features James playing such great songs as “All Of Me,” on solo trumpet, “Up A Lazy River,” on solo baritone sax and trumpet, and “Some Day My Prince Will Come,” on guitar and bass-trumpet, among 8 others. It’s funny that on an album with only two players that the sound is as big as it is.

Hats off to this innovative project and the technical expertise that went into making it happen. Check it out. It’s Snappy Too!

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Le Percolateur – Pop Manouche

Beckoned by the dulcet tones of violin, bass, and the female voice spiraling through the darkness, the stranger was helplessly drawn towards the last lit trailer in camp that seemed to have sprung forth from another time. This chance meeting’s outcome: lePercolateur.

Fueled by coffee black as the night the musicians played ’til the sun began painting the eastern horizon red, and carnivale rose ’round them from the ether.

Winding their caravan through the windiest of cities, lePercolateur has spent the time since this fateful night sweeping in to transport concert-goers to a time where music was a liberating and cathartic respite from persecution–where the frenetic energy of struggling to simply ‘be’ coalesced with the unbridled spirit of gypsy music and burgeoned into swing dancing.

BWB to release Michael Jackson tribute album

Individually, they are three titans of contemporary music: Rick Braun, the gifted trumpeter/flugelhornist with the golden voice; GRAMMY® Award-winning tenor saxophonist Kirk Whalum, the Memphis-born wunderkind who mixes Beale Street, gospel, the blues and bop; and Norman Brown, the GRAMMY®-winning guitarist who brings a Louisiana lilt to his Wes Montgomery/George Benson influenced six-string soulful strut. They came together eleven years ago as the supergroup known as BWB and their historic album Groovin’, made them one of the most sought-after groups at that time.

This terrific triad reassembles with the June 18, 2013 release of Human Nature on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group (international release dates may vary). This long-awaited sequel to their debut project spotlights BWB’s stupendous reimaging of eleven selections made famous by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

“We made the first BWB record in 2002 when we were all on Warner Bros. Jazz,” Braun says. “We did a world tour behind the record. And then we’ve all been off doing our own thing – so this is really a reunion. We have an incredible amount of respect for each other: We phrase together. We complete each other’s sentences, musically. We’re really just a good bunch of guys making music, and grateful to be doing that.”

Preview the album

Vincent Lyn – Wing Sing

Wing Sing is the follow- up to the highly successful Grammy Nominated Jazz Album Heaven Bound. Wing Sing is a wonderful change to the Smooth Jazz and R&B sound. Once again Lyn shows off his stylized lyrical piano technique with some beautiful original melodies.

Vincent Lyn (piano, keyboards)
Curtis Long (bass)
Gil Hawkins Jr. (drums)
Urbano Sanchez, Jr. (percussion)
John Gerardi (guitar)
Michelle Bradshaw (background vocals)

Red Sun (feat. Gil Hawkins, Urbano Sanchez & Curtis Long) 3:48
Walk On By (feat. Michelle Bradshaw) 4:08
Don’t Say Goodbye (feat. Michelle Bradshaw) 5:59
Cote D’azur (feat. Gil Hawkins, Urbano Sanchez & Curtis Long) 5:05
See You in Rio (feat. John Gerardi & Curtis Long) 4:58
That’s What You Do to Me (feat. Michelle Bradshaw) 4:45
Be Mine Tonight (feat. Gil Hawkins & Curtis Long) 5:39
Wake Me Up (feat. Gil Hawkins, Urbano Sanchez & Curtis Long) 4:59
Take Flight (feat. John Gerardi & Curtis Long) 3:38
The 4 Crazies (feat. Curtis Long, Gil Hawkins & Urbano Sanchez) 4:41
Cantowood (feat. Curtis Long, Gil Hawkins & Urbano Sanchez) 5:01
That’s What You Do to Me (Reprise) 2:00

NEXT Collective – Cover Art

NEXT Collective is an exciting ensemble of experienced jazz artists. The collective includes alto saxophonist Logan Richardson, tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III, guitarist Matthew Stevens, keyboardists Gerald Clayton and Kris Bowers, bassist Ben Williams, drummer Jamire Williams, trumpeter Christian Scott and producer Chris Dunn.Cover Art is their debut recording for Concord Music Group.

The record was concieved by Concord Senior Director of A&R, producer Chris Dunn as a vehicle to feature these musicians on a project of covers from their generation. Each member of the collective chose to interpret and arrange songs by Jay Z and Kanye West (“No Church In The Wild,”) Drake (“Marvin’s Room,”) N.E.R.D (“Fly or Die,”) Bon Iver (“Perth,”) and Little Dragon (“Twice,”) among others. Listen with open ears and remain focused because they take you on a musical journey that you’ll remember for some time.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Benji Kaplan – Meditacoes no Violao

Benji’s 2nd creative endeavor, a solo album of guitar music inspired by many great composers from Brazil and around the world. All titles are original compositions comprised of. choros, sambas, Baiaoes, Waltzes and other styles of his own making.

1. In Memory of Luke (4:33)- I began writing this piece very spontaneously in November of 2010 not knowing it was the foreshadowing of a very unfortunate event that took place: a dear friend of mine had committed suicide, I had found out a few days into the composition process and it was then that it dawned on me that this piece would be in memory of Luke.

2. Choro em Fado (2:19)- English translation (Choro in Fado)this composition’s title in a way speaks for itself, but will need a bit of translation: Choro: means little cry and Fado: means fate or destiny, Fado, from portugal and choro, from Brazil, are both styles of music that share in common the desire to express deep longing for something or someone.

3. Choro in E major (3:47)- This piece was inspired by a 2nd encounter with one of the greatest composers of Brazil, Guinga, at a camp in the redwood forests in California. He played for us one of his latest compositions at the time called Blue eyes, it was so beautiful!!!

4. Truffaut (2:38)- A title composed in homage of the great film maker From France, Francois Truffaut. It hints at melodies from one of my favorite of his films called (The 400 Blows)
5. Nostalgia (2:49)- Came from a very peaceful meditative moment and almost came out all at once. It may be Nostalgic for a time and place that only exists within the heart.

6. Baiao for Gershwin (3:23)- This track got its name firstly for it’s rhythm that is called Baiao from the North east of Brazil, where I had spent a couple of months when I was 19. The second part of the title was for some harmonic feelings that reminded me of Gershwin’s music.

7. Escuridao no Ceu (2:47)- Can mean (Obscurity in the sky). It has a dark introspective imagery, while feeling holy and peaceful at the same time.

8. Valsa Lullabye (5:07)- This piece was inspired by working through and arranging another song by a great composer from Brazil named Edu Lobo. In english it means (lullabye waltz).

9. Choro pra Garoto (3:08)- This choro was dedicated to another great composer from Brazil named Garoto , the title in english is (Choro for Garoto).

10. Quando o Sol Raiar (1:55)- Translation: (When the sun rises) I wrote this song very spontaneously in the midst of playing a set at a club in NYC.

11. Baiao de Leemore (5:06)- Translation: (Baiao for Leemore) This piece was dedicated to my girlfriend that I love very much. It goes to many interesting moods and places, filled with surprises, just like her!!! It is a Baiao that starts out very much rubato for a while then goes in to time.

12. Torment (3:13)- This track expresses feelings of torment but also of releasing these feelings and moving in to new places to express other emotions such as joy, curiosity, or feelings of sentiment.

13. Introspective (2:31)- I started playing around with a musical idea that came to me after I had played a show accompanying a play at The graduate program at New School University in NYC and it was finished over a period of a year or so.

14. Choro tip toe (1:54)- This is one of my favorites. For me, It has some absurdity to it, mixed with sarcasm and aggression. I think it must have been what I was feeling in the moment and came out all at once.

Sunnie Paxson – Bohemian Sun

Pianist Sunnie Paxson gives a stellar performance on her latest CD titled Bohemian Sun. The recording features her performing in a variety of formats (from solo to septet) accompanied by an array of highly talented musicians. Among them is the multiple GRAMMY Award-winning executive producer/bassist/composer Stanley Clarke who also signed Ms. Paxson to his Roxboro Entertainment label. Ronald Bruner, Jr. plays drums, while such respected musicians as percussionist Munyungo Jackson, drummer Michael White, vocalist Rod Maurice and a four-member string quartet make guest appearances on selected tracks.  Ms. Paxson wrote 7 of the 13 compositions on the recording. Two originals by Herbie Hancock and Stanley Clarke (“Dolphin Dance,” and “Three Wrong Notes” respectively), plus 4 traditional jazz compositions round out the program.

Sunnie Paxson’s modern jazz sound is upbeat and intriguing. The songs sound as if they were recorded live because of the spontaneity and invigorating quality of the sound.  On “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love,” Ms. Paxson plays solo and communicates this rarely heard Charlie Mingus classic with a very personal and intimate feeling. This solo discovery is one of the best performances on the recording. By contrast, Ms. Paxson’s performance in a trio setting with Stanley Clarke on bass and Ron Bruner, Jr. on drums is quite assessable. Together their interplay on such songs as “Seabound,” “Dolphin Dance,” and “Three Wrong Notes,” gives the listener a complete listening challenge and sentimental appeal.

“Stella By Starlight,” “Something for Nothing” and “One Step Beyond” all lend themselves to classical music and love themes. The movements and phenomenal bowed bass solo by Clarke in “Stella By Starlight” and  the addition of a string quartet (whose music was arranged by Sunnie Paxson) to the latter two songs feature commendable performances by Ms. Paxson. Each of these songs provides a glimpse into the borderless creativity of Ms. Paxson who makes the challenge of creating dozens of songs for Bohemian Sun seem easy.

Her winking nod to Javad Maroufi on “Khabhaye Talaei” is a further expression of Paxson’s ingenuity which spans from the modern sounds of contemporary jazz to this dynamic interpretation of Maroufi’s beautiful music. Overall, Bohemian Sun puts the woman behind the music directly in the spotlight and there you will find a diverse musical personality whose interesting perspectives and renditions will make you an instant fan. Buy Bohemian Sun today.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Ulysses Owens Jr. – Unanimous

Still on the shy side of 30, Ulysses Owens Jr. has garnered an international reputation as drummer of choice for Christian McBride, Nicholas Payton, and Kurt Elling, three very different personalities who are very particular in what they want to hear from the kit.

On his Criss Cross leader debut, Owens Jr. convenes Christian McBride and Nicholas Payton, as well as pianist Christian Sands(even more visible for his work in McBride’s trio), rising star alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw (Roy Haynes’ main sax voice for the last five years), and trombonist Mike Dease.

The leader finds fresh approaches to various flavors of the swing timeline — Art Blakey and the refractions of Buhaina established by Mulgrew Miller and Bobby Watson (each a one-time employer); Tony Williams’ two phases with the Miles Davis Quintet; Ed Thigpen’s crispness with the Oscar Peterson Trio — within a 21st century context.

Luis Munoz – Luz

Luz is the latest release from Costa Rican drummer/percussionist/ composer Luis Munoz, Munoz, a double ACAM Award winner for Jazz Composer of the Year wrote, arranged and orchestrated the nine songs on the CD.  It features singers Magos Herrera and Teka Penteriche alongside Munoz, Adam Asarnow on piano, Tom Etchart on acoustic bass, and other guest musicians.

The recording opens with Teka Penteriche singing the vocal version of “El Sueno De Adan,” a beautiful homage to Munoz’s son that was previously released as an instrumental titled “Adam’s Dream” onInvisible (Pelin Music, 2010). It is followed by the title track from that same release and features a very lovely muted cornet performance by Jonathan Dane. Luis Munoz provides additional pianism and plays drums also.

The remaining seven tracks also reveal Munoz on piano, shekere, percussion, and background vocals, and once again offer listeners his dedicated musicality and compositional integrity. Give Luz a listen and then buy it at the SOTJ store.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Eliane Elias – I Thought About You (A Tribute To Chet Baker)

There’s no question about it: pianist/vocalist Eliane Elias is amazingly versatile. On May 28, 2013, Concord Jazz presents Elias’ I Thought About You (A Tribute To Chet Baker), an album that offers her personalized spin on the work of a key American jazz artist while spotlighting her connection to the singer-instrumentalist tradition (international release dates may vary). It fully demonstrates the range of interests that Elias’ art now boasts, and arrives with a statement of purpose: jazz repertoire can sound totally fresh when delivered with ingenuity and passion.

Long known for her native feel of Brazilian music, this new disc truly demonstrates Elias’ expertise in yet another realm: an interpreter of American standards. An expressive, swinging singer and insightful instrumentalist and arranger, on I Thought About You she thoughtfully switches the size and approach of her impressive ensemble from track to track, yielding to each tune’s inner logic.

Her choice of musicians underscores her decision to have her music move in various ways. Along with guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves, drummer Rafael Barata and percussionist Marivaldo dos Santos unite with Elias and husband, esteemed bassist Marc Johnson, for a few of the Brazil-slanted tracks. The other core band members are the always impressive guitarist Steve Cardenas and the exquisite drummer Victor Lewis. If you hear a deep chemistry between the bass and drums, remind yourself that Johnson and Lewis were once part of Stan Getz’s most limber rhythm section. At various points, Elias’ former husband Randy Brecker drops in to add some of his incisive brass magic to the mix.

By and large, Elias has turned to pieces from the Great American Songbook that have been associated with Baker. Some are swaggering and bluesy, some are poignant and graceful, some are intimate and bittersweet – each is addressed like the jewel that it is.

“When selecting the repertoire, I chose songs that portrayed a wide spectrum of Chet’s work,” she says, “not only the ballads for which he was best known, but also the mid tempo and up tempo pieces he performed with such fluidity and inventiveness throughout his career.”

Matt Herskowitz – Upstairs

Matt Herskowitz blends jazz and classical influences on his new solo piano recording titled Upstairs. Released on Justin Time Records, the CD was recorded live at Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on November 6, 2011. Upstairs is Mr. Herskowitz’s follow up to his 2010 acclaimedJerusalem Trilogy and features songs composed by Dave Brubeck (“Dziekuje”), Michel Petrucciani (“Cantabile”), J.S. Bach (“Bach A La Jazz) and George & Ira Gershwin (“But Not For Me,” and “I’ve Got Rhythm”).

Herskowitz also wrote and arranged several originals for the program. The night opened with Mr. Herskowitz’s interpretation of Dave Brubeck’s rhapsodic homage to Chopin titled “Dziekuje.” His performance got raves from the late pianist himself and Herskowitz’s tribute to his friend is certainly one of the most inspired performances on the recording. Further inspiration came from Mr.  Herskowitz’s visit to Moscow as a competitor in the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition. “Waltz In Moscow” is a refined piece that emphasizes Herskowitz’s classical influences and calls attention to his fluid pianism. He further accentuates his classical flair in “Traumerei” by Robert Schumann.

His stellar arrangement makes this masterwork accessible to a new generation of pianists who may excel in the classical/jazz genre by adding it to their repertoire. The entire recording underlines Mr. Herskowitz’s virtuosity and finesse as a pianist and ranks among his finest works. Buy Upstairs today at the SOTJ store.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Offiong Bassey

Shining like the moon…

She was born with a story on her lips, a tune in her ear, and the purpose implied by her name, Offiong Bassey, God’s Moon, on her heart. Music and storytelling for Offiong have always been second-nature: “I inhale my surroundings and exhale melodies. I perceive my world and create another with rhythm and harmony.”

Singer, songwriter, producer, and poet, Offiong Bassey is an exciting new artist that draws upon the numerous influences that have touched her life. As the first generation from her Nigerian family born in the U.S., the soul, jazz, gospel, and Latin music of America reside within her just as comfortably as the musical traditions of West Africa. She brings to them her unique ear for harmonies and phrasing, her ground-shaking, power vocals, and her unmatched versatility to create music that is fresh, inspiring, and just plain fun.

Though her sound is one-of-a-kind, Offiong has had many teachers. The first of these was her namesake, her grandmother, who would sing her traditional songs from their Efik tribe, imparting to Offiong the power of music and the richness of her cultural heritage and storytelling tradition. At a young age, Offiong began to see her name, God’s Moon, as a call to be a reflection of her creator’s light, as the moon is to the sun, through story and song.

That call continued to sound in her ear like an endless melody that she heard in everything, as it guided her on her path. Along the way, she found further inspiration in other great teachers, artists ranging from Angelique Kidjo, Miriam Makeba, and Fela Kuti to Rachelle Ferrell, Lauryn Hill, and Jonathan Butler.

Music followed her to Yale University, where she sang in acclaimed singing group Shades, was a celebrated soloist on its 2005 album, Sankofa, and directed and performed “A Moonlit Evening”, an intimate concert of original songs she produced during her senior year. Her artistry has been deepened by her extensive travels to places like Japan, Spain, Panama, Nigeria, and Ghana, and she has shared her inspiring story in song with diverse audiences, including South African youth in Johannesburg, attendees at the U.S. Africa Business Summit in Washington D.C., and music lovers at Boston’s GreenSoul Fest. Most recently, she was honored to perform for the Obong (King) of Calabar, Nigeria and the Governor of Cross River State, Nigeria.

Titles from her self titled release include:

This song affirms that all people, regardless of the circumstances of their birth, their past, or their present, are legitimate and purposeful in the eyes of their Creator. On this song, we decided to bring together the groove of Calypso with the majestic call of traditional Calabar-style Nigerian drumming to herald the coming of the honorable, the worthy, the blessed Legitimate Child.

Some call you fatherless, some call you motherless/ some call you hopeless, some call you “a mess”/ but it is not how they address you/ it’s the name that you answer to that matters in the end

This chorus is in my native tongue of Efik and is an adaptation of a prayer my grandparents taught me based on the Biblical Psalm 91. I went back to my roots on this one, singing over a traditional “Ekombi” rhythm from my family’s Efik tribe.

Edidem, sn mi ke-eka ubok fo/ yak mi nsinedo nwere/ nwere, nwere, nwere/ yak mi nsinedo nwere/ Abasi, db mi ke-idak mba fo, yak mi nsinedo nwere/ nwere, nwere, nwere, yak mi nsinedo nwere

Lord, take me in the palm of your hands/ and there I will be able to roll around/ roll, roll, roll/ at rest in you/ God, hide me in the shadow of your wings/ and there I will be able to roll around/ roll, roll, roll/ at rest in you

This track serves as a reminder that there is more to life than what we see and that there is One that transcends even our most trusted systems of understanding. We focused here on creating a dynamic sound that brought together some of my favorite influences, merging smooth Afro-jazz, contemporary soul, and the lyrical sharpness of spoken word poetry.

What’s forecasted won’t necessarily happen/ don’t you judge by the clouds in the sky ’cause/ the environment could change in the blink of an eye/ some things the weatherman will never, ever know

Without the light of the sun, the moon cannot shine, and the moon in its fullness is a reflection of the sun. When we are in line with the sun (or source), we reflect the fullness of that light, but as human beings we are constantly waxing and waning, shifting and changing. My name, Offiong Bassey, means God’s moon, so this song is of special significance to my journey in life to become the embodiment of what my name implies. The Afro-Peruvian rhythms of this song transformed my vocal approach in the most unexpected yet organic of ways.

I’m waxing, I’m waning, anticipating, full moon

This track is pure fusion – a rap song with West African chants, R&B flavor, a Hip Hop beat, a funky bass line, and even a Country-style guitar. This is the story of an “independent woman” that has been burned by love and finds it difficult to trust. She mistakenly characterizes the gentlemanly advances of her suitor as chauvinistic. He has to wear her down and succeeds around minute two. This one is for the ladies and the men that want to win their hearts.

I mistook his chivalry for chauvinism/ all the love he gave to me/ I didn’t have faith in him/ that he would view me as an equal intellectually/ or that he thought I could administrate effectively/ but I was wrong, he admired qualities in me/ wanted to insure that I was comfortable and happy/ so he pulled out my chair, opened the door and closed it/ paid for me at dinner, and I’m thankful

We have all experienced the consequences of our tendency to rush to judgment without having all the facts. This Afrobeat jam channels the legacy of the great Fela Kuti with its blaring horns, its fun, raucous energy, and its Afro-centric take on raw funk. The groove really took me over and inspired me to break out with some rap – in Nigerian Pidgin English, of course.

Sometimes you take an unseen action, you take half-heard remarks/ and you construct a story – character, props, and plot/ you judge a situation with inadequate information/ you ain’t supposed to do that

Sometimes we lose ourselves chasing after the wind, pursuing things that do not last. Materialism, vanity, and compromised self-worth are all just the result of a loss of perspective, when we lose sight of our true destiny and purpose. On this track, we worked to strike a balance between the Afro-pop groove that drives the song forward and the fluid jazz-soul vocals that whisper like the elusive wind.

See the wind slips through my fingers, money doesn’t always linger/ clothes get moths and food will rot/ but what I’ve got isn’t meaningless; this blessing will endure for eternity

I like to call this tune “a song for friends.” Everybody knows that it’s better to have two or three good and faithful people around you than to surround yourself with a crowd of folks in whom you cannot trust. We set this song, which is in both Efik and English, to West African Highlife with a Makossa drum beat to give it a celebratory feel. Speaking of faithful friends, I asked my brother Eniang Bassey to grace this track with his djembe drumming skills.

When I feel the whole world is against me/ and I can’t tell my friends from my enemies/ I’m so glad to see it’s not quantity but quality I really need/ ’cause two or three can make a majority/ when we’re bound together in love, it doesn’t matter, we can rise above the maze

Who’s ever heard of the term “sowing your wild oats” (or “sowing your ‘royal’ oats”)? It’s when we scatter ourselves, with respect to our money, our time, or our bodies, without considering the repercussions of our actions and the value of what we have to offer. This is a song about setting the priorities in our lives, and I drew on a soulful ’70s vibe to couple the songs honest lyrics with an old school feel.

We can’t sow wild oats forever; our efforts will fly away like a feather/ what do you reap? What will you reap?/ if you gain the whole world and forfeit your soul/ a temporary high leads to long-lasting lows/ what do you reap?

Through all that I’ve faced, I’ve realized that even in the most difficult of times, I’m still in the arms of the Almighty, and in that quiet place, there is comfort. We drew upon the emotional honesty of the American gospel tradition to create a soundscape that mirrored the song’s message while inspiring a more candid vocal interpretation of that message.

You pick me up when I feel put down/ You’re a faithful friend, and I know full well now/ That it might be hard, but it won’t be hell/ as long as You’re with me, I have the eternal promises/ oh it might be hard, but it won’t be hell because/ hell is separation from You

This is a medley of songs in my native language of Efik. Nothing gets people lifted quite like a Nigerian praise chorus, so we gave this track that flavor, with a characteristic big brass band, percussive bass line, and exuberant guitar solo, to give it a fervent, infectious energy that transcends language barriers.

Iyang dobuyo/ eyen Abasi modo ku ubom o

Peace be still/ for the Son of God is inside the boat

It’s About the Music – The Art and Heart of Improvisation

Book Review by Paula Edelstein

Pianist Jean-Michel Pilc has authored his first book titled It’s About the Music, The Art and Heart of Improvisation (Glen Lyon Books: 241 pp. $18.95). The book chronicles Jean-Michel Pilc’s career as an improvising jazz pianist, composer, bandleader, arranger, music producer and educator as well as his teachings on musical creativity and expressiveness. Pilc  makes copious examples of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Picasso, Cezanne etc and also includes memorable quotes, anecdotes and practical exercises involving rhythm, melody and ways to hear music that can help to tap into the intrinsic artistry of each musician, student, and educator.

It’s About the Music – The Art and Heart of Improvisation also focuses on the communicative and technical aspects of improvisation and makes an excellent resource for both pros and aspiring improvisers.  Pilc includes information on how to assimilate and execute chord progressions, substitutions, turn arounds and constructing  a melody and jazz chorus. The book is well written and should be required reading for any student, journalist, or musician studying or involved with the art of improvisation.

Born in 1960 in Paris, France, and now an American citizen Jean- Michel Pilc is currently one of the most innovative pianists in jazz. The self-taught pianist resides in New York City and has released several best selling recordings since 1995. Besides his extensive solo piano work, the award-winning pianist has worked steadily with a trio consisting of the bassist Francois Moutin and the drummer Ari Hoenig for nearly two decades. Pilc has also lent his creative visions to such bands as those lead by Roy Haynes, Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman, Kenny Garrett, Lenny White, Chris Potter,  JD Walter, Richard Bona and many others.

Mr. Pilc is a NYC Steinhardt faculty member and also teaches at the New School in New York City.

For more information about Jean Michel Pilc, his recordings and work as an educator, please visit his website at www.jeanmichelpilc.com.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Phil Perry – Say Yes

A great vocalist has a way of inhabiting a song, living it and making it their own. It takes especially great powers of interpretation for a singer to take a song defmitively recorded by a legendary artist and give it new life with a fresh interpretation. Phil Perry takes on the ultimate challenge with the opening track of his new album, the indelible “You Send Me,” recorded in classic style by the peerless Sam Cooke, whose own unique phrasing style actually shapes the melody of the tune, which he wrote.

Yet Phil Perry transforms the song while still retaining its essence, opening in “old school” style and then transmuting it into contemporary soul music. Few singers around today could have done it but those who have experienced the magic of Phil Perry’s talent will not be surprised.

With special guests Chante Moore and Najee, Phil delivers a splendid mix of originals and notable covers in a style befitting the man James Ingram who calls Perry “the most powerful singer I have ever heard.”

“As always, when working with Big Dog (Davis), we try to address all the relevant directions relating to the material,” Phil explains. “We try to keep the classic essence while allowing me to be the artist that I am. What that means is singing the melody without it being sterile, inserting new background ideas and different instrumentation-to contemporize the sound without removing the essence of classic R & B.”

Produced by the multi-talented Chris “Big Dog” Davis, who has produced the likes of  Will Downing, Maysa, and Kim Burrell, SAY YES, is a beautiful collection of original  compositions co-written by Phil Perry and Davis, as well as reinventions of signature hits by such icons as Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Michael McDonald & Carly Simon and Sam Cooke. The CD features classic songs such as “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “The Long And Winding Road,” “You Belong To Me” and the aforementioned “You Send Me.” On “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Davis gives the track a subtle groove which takes the song out of pure balladry and Phil subtly gospelizes it, in short a fresh approach to a song that has been recorded many times by other artists.

“We were going for identifiability (on the classic cover songs),” Phil says. “Just because you cover a classic doesn’t mean you should lose yourself and what you are as an artist. I think that’s what separates any ‘classic’ endeavor we undertake from anyone else who is
doing covers. We respect, then add.”

The original compositions on SAY YES deliver finely-wrought romantic balladry that takes its cue from classic soul balladry but gets just enough contemporary treatment so that it does not sound “retro.” And always, there is a hint of jazz in Phil’s phrasing. In
short, the album is state-of-the-art Phil Perry, exalting and explicating the many facetsof love.

Phil Perry has been devoted to music from a young age. Born and raised in East St. Louis, Phil was exposed to the art of great singing early in life. “Growing up I always knew that I wanted to be a singer,” recalls Phil. “I would watch and listen to all the great singers like Nat “King” Cole, Johnny Hartman, Arthur Prysock and Billy Eckstine that my mother listened to while she cleaned the house.”

After a spell as the lead singer of the Montclairs (whose “Begging’s Hard To Do” was a moderate R&B hit and “Make Up For Lost Time” became a cult favorite in British soul music circles), in the early 70s Phil quickly became one of the most sought-after backing vocalists in the music business. Phil launched his solo career in 1991 with THE HEART OF A MAN, which featured an impressive re-make of Aretha Franklin’s “Call Me,” that hit #1 on the R&B charts. Phil’s 1994 album PURE PLEASURE yielded another hit with his version of “If Only You Knew” and also featured a seven-minute version of The Spinners’ classic “Love Don’t Love Nobody.” Known for his skill in multiple musical genres, Phil began achieving success in the contemporary jazz arena through his featured vocals on albums by Lee Ritenour, The Rippingtons and others. His next solo album, ONE HEART ONE LOVE, hit the Top Five of the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart.

2000’s critically-acclaimed BOOK OF LOVE was followed by the 2001 album MAGIC, which highlighted Phil’s songwriting prowess.

Busy as a touring artist and in-demand session vocalist-whose credits include work with everyone from Patti LaBelle, Anita Baker, Peabo Bryson and George Duke to Quincy Jones, Barbra Streisand, Boz Scaggs and Rod Stewart-Phil returned in 2006 with CLASSIC LOVE SONGS, putting his own stamp on such tunes as Lionel Richie’s “Hello,” Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You,” and The Temptations’ “Just My Imagination.”  The 2007 album A MIGHTY LOVE brought enthusiastic reaction from music buyers starving for the kind of authentic, heartfelt music that has been Phil’s stock in trade. The father of four, Phil has been actively working to foster Arts education through the  Philill Foundation, an organization founded and led by his wife of twenty years, Lillian “Tang” Tynes, a notable soul and jazz vocalist in her own right. “It’s important to me,” Phil says, “because my wife has a vision for a Charter School that educates through all genres of the arts. Also we are both artists so we wanted to give back to the youth through art and education.”

With SAY YES Phil Perry reasserts his claim as one of the most impressive of a dwindling number of vocalists on the contemporary scene who can deliver musically impressive, emotionally substantive art. “When I make a record,” Phil says, “my goal is always to make something I can be proud  of. As I travel across the country I can definitely say there’s a market out there for traditional R&B. I think this album is a good representation of what classic soul music is in the digital age.”

Toots Thielemans European Quartet – 90 Years

Harmonica legend Toots Thielemans celebrates his 90th birthday with European Quartet on his latest release by Challenge Records titled 90 Years. This great CD features unique and previously unreleased live recordings taken from Thielemans’ latest tours around the world. The set also comes with a DVD that contains select materials from his most recent concert in Japan!

The songs on Disc One are both rare and well-known classics including “Waltz For Sonny,” “The Dragon,” “What A Wonderful World,” and “One Note Samba.” The DVD showcases Thielemans performing “Autumn Leaves,” “Midnight Cowboy,” and “Bluesette” plus three other songs. For someone who is 90 years old and playing a harmonica, listeners would never know that Thielemans is up in age because his breathing and technique are both still amazing.

The master is joined by Karel Boehlee on piano and synthesizer, Hein Van de Geyn on double bass, and Hans van Oosterhout on drums. Their exemplary accompaniment is in the pocket and brings out the best in the melodies that Thielemans plays on harmonica. This is an exciting live program that should be in your collection.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Mike MacArthur – Feels Like Home

Feels Like Home is a jazz CD with a bit of funk, soul, swing and lots of feel. Mike keeps an organic and real vibe on this CD joined by the best in the business inclunding Brian Bromberg, Rick Braun, Jeff Lorber, Jeff Golub, Alex Acuna and many more!
Looking at that all-star list of sidemen and accompanists you would think that this is another smooth jazz release fostered by the Lorber crew, but think again. This CD is jazzy and smooth. It is not all smooth jazz, but it is all groove jazz.

Lorraine Klaasen – A Tribute to Miriam Makeba

Soweto-born vocalist Lorraine Klaasen pays homage to “Mama Africa” on her new Justin Time recording titled A Tribute to Miriam Makeba. This is the follow up to her triumphant release Africa Calling and has received a Juno Award nomination in the world music category. Eleven new songs grace this fascinating program that features Senegalese guitarist Assane Seck, Benin-born percussionist Moise Yawo Matey and her longtime bassist Sebastian Andrew Whiteman.

Ms. Klaasen’s voice is powerful and rings with joy on six classic Miriam Makeba compositions including the popular “Click Song,” a Xhosa play song which incorporates the technique of ‘click singing;’ “Jolinkomo”  the Xhosa praise song that young women sing when they cheer their young men into battle; and “Lorraine” a song of self-reflection, among others. Among the more memorable highlights are Makeba’s “Pata Pata,” and “Iphindela,” which concludes the recording.

Overall, this is a fine tribute to one of the world’s most beloved singers and receives the benefits of Lorraine Klaasen’s prolific storytelling and lovely vocals.

Reprinted with permission of…

Boney James – The Beat

Three-time GRAMMY nominee Boney James has returned to former label Concord Records with a dynamic, genre-busting album The Beat. One of the most successful instrumental artists of our time with sales totaling over 3 million records, James’ new project fuses his R&B/Jazz roots with Latin rhythm and percussion.

“This record was born of my love for both Latin and R&B music and became a mash-up of the two genres. The initial inspiration for the record was Sergio Mendes’ “Batucada (The Beat),” which I re-imagined as a funk tune.” “Batucada (The Beat)” reunites Boney with trumpet great Rick Braun. “Rick and I have a wonderful history. There is a certain edge and energy that comes out when we play together that creates a really cool vibe.”

Other special guests on the project include eclectic R&B soul singer Raheem DeVaughn and spoken word phenom The Floacist. The first Urban AC single, going for adds in mid-February, is “Maker of Love,” a sexy, soulful song featuring DeVaughn. “Raheem is an artist I’ve wanted to work with for a long time and we actually met by following each other on Twitter! I sent him the track and he came back with an incredible lyric and finished vocal,” says James.

UK poet and musician The Floacist (former partner of Marsha Ambrosius) brings a seductive flow to “The Midas (This is Why)” which adds to the World Music flavor of the album. James says, “This track is a real serious mash-up with the R&B groove, the shekere and conga percussion, coupled with the ‘Euro’ vibe from The Floacist!”

Other treasures on the album include James’ fresh take on Stevie Wonder’s R&B/Latin classic “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” along with originals by James that run the gamut from subtle and sophisticated with tracks like “Acalento (Lullaby)” and “Mari’s Song,” to high energy with “Sunset Boulevard,” and “Powerhouse.”

James produced the record and wrote (or co-wrote) eight songs. The album marks his return to Concord Records. Mark Wexler, General Manager/SVP, Concord-Telarc Label Group says, “Boney is one of those unique artists that truly understands his outstanding talent and knows how to blend his originality with what his fans love to hear. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have him back as part of our Concord family.” James is equally enthusiastic about re-joining the label, “Concord and I have had great successes, previously, and I couldn’t be more excited to be working with them on one of the best records I’ve ever done.”

In addition to his GRAMMY nominations, James is a Soul Train Award winner (Best Jazz Album) and has been honored with an NAACP Image Award nomination for Best Jazz Album. He has accumulated four RIAA Certified Gold Records. To date, nine of James’ albums have reached No. 1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart and two have reached the top 10 on the R&B Albums Chart, a rare feat for an instrumental artist.

Boney is also renowned for his compelling live performances. According to The Boston Globe: “Let’s make something perfectly clear: James is not a smooth jazz player. Yeah, he is often grouped with people like Kenny G and Najee, but his music is muscular and gritty….James swaggers across the stage like a blacktop hero draining trays on an overmatched opponent. He even weaves his way through the crowd, all but daring them not to have a good time.”

Boney will be on tour for all of 2013 following the release of The Beat.

Initial tour dates are:

  • 3/30 Detroit MI – Fox Theater
  • 4/6 Las Vegas NV- Boulder Station
  • 4/18 Panama City Beach FL- Seabreeze Jazz Fest
  • 4/20 Durham NC- Carolina Theatre
  • 4/23 Bergen NJ- Bergen PAC
  • 4/24 Glenside PA- Keswick Theatre
  • 4/25 Cleveland OH- Ohio Theatre
  • 4/26 Pittsburgh PA- Byham Theatre
  • 4/27 Buffalo NY- Buffalo State PAC
  • 4/28 Alexandria VA- The Birchmere
  • 7/21 San Dimas CA- Jazz Fest West
  • 10/12 San Diego- Smooth Jazz Cruise
  • 10/25 Troy NY- Troy Savings Bank Music Hall
  • 10/26 New Haven CT- Lyman Center
  • 10/27 Boston MA- Wilbur Theater

Cheryl Bentyne – Let’s Misbehave: The Cole Porter Songbook

GRAMMY award winner Cheryl Bentyne is at her best when singing with her group The Manhattan Transfer. However as a soloist, she has come into her own as a fascinating interpretor of songs written by the legendary composer Cole Porter. As with her previous 2009 import release The Cole Porter Song book, on Let’s Misbehave: The Cole Porter Songbook, Ms. Bentyne offers her fans a wide array of Porter’s hits including “Night and Day,” “Begin the Beguine” and “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.”

Joining in on the fun is a superb coterie of musicians including guitarists Tom McCauley, Octavio Bailey and Larry Koonse; Corey Allen on keyboards and banjo; Doug Webb on reeds; Chris Tedesco on trumpet; bassist Kevin Axt also on tuba; Dave Tull on drums/percussion; and 2 heroic performances by the late jazz tenor sax giant James Moody in one of his final recorded appearances. The vocals are humorous, sexy, and mysterious and Bentyne’s inventive singing style swings and sizzles. This is one of her better offerings as a band leader and you’re sure to enjoy it. Check it out. Click HERE to purchase.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Esperanza Spaulding – Radio Music Society

It has not taken Esperanza Spalding long to emerge as one of the brightest lights in the musical world. Listeners familiar with her stunning 2008 debut, Esperanza, and her best-selling 2010 release Chamber Music Society, were well aware that the young bassist, vocalist and composer from Portland, Oregon. was the real deal, with a unique and style-spanning presence, deeply rooted in jazz yet destined to make her mark far beyond the jazz realm

That judgment was confirmed on February 13, 2011, when Spalding became the first jazz musician to receive the GRAMMY® Award for Best New Artist. On March 20th, 2012, Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group, gives us Spalding’s latest release, Radio Music Society, her most diverse, ambitious and masterful recital yet. 11 songs are accompanied by conceptual short films, which further express Esperanza’s inspiration and story behind each track. Shot in various locations including New York City; Barcelona, Spain; and Portland, Oregon; all videos will be available to purchasers ofRadio Music Society as a digital download or a DVD on the deluxe version.

Radio Music Society is a companion, rather than a sequel, to Spalding’s previous disc, which reached No. 1 on theBillboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. “Originally I thought it would be fun to release a double album,” she explains, “One disc with an intimate, subtle exploration of chamber works and a second one in which jazz musicians explore song forms and melodies that are formatted more along the lines of what we would categorize as “pop songs.” Those are the two things that really interest me, and it intrigues me to think about different presentation approaches while writing each kind of song. On the pop song side, I think about listeners who aren’t into jazz, but I also think about the people within my musical community who can interpret each idea best.”

“Radio Song,” the new disc’s opening track, both sets the tone and confirms the aptness of Spalding’s “radio music” metaphor. “Everyone has the experience of turning on a car radio,” she explains,” mindlessly flipping through the dial and suddenly a fragment grabs you and you’re totally digging it. I wanted to capture that moment when the music just sinks in. It’s about the power of song, and how at the least it can save the day.”

Fleshing out the concept with original music was second nature to Spalding. “I have this book of music that I’ve written, and so much of it fit either the Chamber Music or Radio Music concept. Songs develop for me in fragments, so for these projects, I took my notes and organized them into coherent works of music.”

In the process, Spalding added her original, affirmative perspective to classic radio music themes. Songs about love run a full gamut. “Hold On Me” is a narrative of unrequited love, inspired by people who cling to dreams of relationships that can never be realized. “Let Her,” one of Spalding’s older compositions, was inspired by “different people I’ve known who are in miserable situations, then complain when they end.” “Cinnamon Tree,” written to cheer up a friend, celebrates platonic love, and Spalding’s belief that “the love between friends is just as important as romantic love.”

“Crowned and Kissed,” with references to King Arthur and Midas, is about “the unsung royalty in your life, men and women who quietly, every day do the most honorable things, and who deserve to be honored even if they don’t end up with castles and thrones.” The edgy “Smile Like That” marks the moment a person realizes that his or her partner has developed other interests. “I’m saying, `Okay, I get it, let’s not beat around the bush,'” Spalding explains.

Her takes on the state of our country and our culture are equally fresh and insightful. “Vague Suspicions” confronts society’s short attention span and our habit of absorbing horrific events and celebrity gossip as part of the same media overload. The brief “Land Of The Free” speaks to the sinister system of false imprisonment by outlining the case of one innocent victim who spent 30 years in jail for a crime he did not commit.

“Black Gold” is specifically addressed to young boys of color. “So much of our strength is drawn from resistance and endurance,” she explains, “but black pride didn’t just start with the slave trade. I wanted to address our nobility, going back to our incredible ancestors in pre-colonial Africa. I remember meetings when I was in elementary school about being strong as young black women, and I don’t think the boys had those meetings. This song is meant to speak to those young men, and I imagined it might one day be something that a parent could sing to his or her son.”

Radio Music Society also features “City of Roses,” a celebration of her native Portland, Oregon that Spalding was commissioned to write by Banana Republic, and two cover tunes. Taking the advice of one of her mentors, tenor saxophone giant Joe Lovano: “When you do a classic, you have to find your own reason for doing it.” Spalding charges Stevie Wonder’s “I Can’t Help It” with the energy of apprehensive new love and adds original lyrics to Wayne Shorter’s “Endangered Species.”

The music is realized by many of the brilliant musicians who are part of Spalding’s ever-expanding universe. In addition to longtime partners Lovano, keyboard player Leo Genovese and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, the ranks contain jazz legends Jack DeJohnette and Billy Hart; guitar heroes Jef Lee Johnson and Lionel Loueke; an array of master vocalists including Algebra Blessett, Lalah Hathaway, Gretchen Parlato, Leni Stern and Becca Stevens; hip-hop giant Q-Tip (who performs on and co-produced two tracks); and two Portland-based musicians, Janice Scroggins and Dr. Thara Memory, who provided essential mentorship in Spalding’s youth.

Four tracks feature the horn section of the American Music Program, a youth big band of musicians age 12 to 18 directed by her longtime mentor and teacher Dr. Memory, who conducts and provides horn arrangements; while the soulful pianist on “Hold on Me” is Ms. Scroggins, who Spalding studied with as a child. “Both of them are phenomenal artists who aren’t well known outside of the Northwest,” Spalding emphasizes. “Janice Scroggins was, quite honestly, too deep for me when I was eight years old. She unifies completely the sounds of gospel, blues and jazz, our American roots music. And Dr. Thara Memory, the teacher I came up through, has dedicated his life to spreading the message of this music. I had to have his youth band on the record, because they’re part of my Music Society, too.”

Among its many strengths, Radio Music Society is a celebration of the men and women who have helped cultivate Spalding’s talent, as well as those who have nurtured her vision and inspired her along the way. “I’ve had the honor and blessing of working with so many phenomenal jazz musicians over the years,” she says. “As I’ve gotten to know them and their music, I’ve grown to love them as family and colleagues. I wished for an opportunity for us all to interpret songs together, so that they can be heard and received by a larger audience. All my personal heroes who are revered in the jazz world – like Joe Lovano and Terri Lyne Carrington – should be heard by a mainstream audience, because what they manifest in their music is so beautiful, sincere and uplifting. I think they literally bring good into the lives of the people who hear them. So I’ve tried to put together a program of music that speaks to the non-jazz listener, but can still provide a viable foundation for my jazz heroes to express themselves. Hopefully, people can enjoy all the elements of my music without being told which genres it is ‘supposedly’ a blend of. Everyone is invited to listen with no pre-conceived notions. It’s a journey. Think and feel for yourself. But, most importantly, ENJOY!”

“Art doesn’t thrive with too much analyzing and explaining,” Esperanza Spalding notes, “The idea of `radio music’ is very broad.” Radio Music Society is destined to expand the concept even further, not to mention the horizons of the music world’s most exceptional young artist.

Lee Ritenour – Rhythm Sessions

In addition to the great guitar playing that Lee Ritenour offers his listeners on his latest release called Rhythm Sessions, the 12 distinctive rhythm sections he employed are what makes this recording a masterpiece. The musicians he invited to play on these 12 sessions are an elite group of award-winning veterans as well as exciting newcomers who compliment Lee Ritenour’s amazing sound with their own versatility and innovative musical techniques.

Among the stellar special guests are Chick Corea, George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Christian McBride, Dave Grusin, Marcus Miller and the winners of Lee Ritenour’s Annual Six-String Theory International Competition and many others. The set includes compositions you are sure to love since they embrace a variety of sounds and grooves, all rooted in jazz, but also layered with shades of funk, R&B, Latin, World Music and more. Ritenour produced, arranged and wrote 5 of the songs with several of the featured musicians as inspiration.

The set opens with “The Village,” a funky piece that features George Duke out front on Fender Rhodes and Moog synthesizer with Lee, Stanley Clarke, Dave Weckl and Munyungo Jackson doing their thing. This song features a dynamic solo by Clarke on acoustic bass and the awesome chops of Ritenour. “River Man” features Kurt Elling’s expressive vocals and storytelling and the accompaniment of Dave Grusin, Nathan East, Will Kennedy, Ariel Mann and a soulful solo by Lee Ritenour. This is one great song and is certain to get a second and third listen from you, dear listener. With a dynamic aggregation of musicians that includes Patrice Rushen and Marcus Miller, Lee once again proves his worth as a musician and dynamic interpreter on Herbie Hancock’s “Fat Albert Rotunda.” Miller contributes his trademark funky bass riffs and Patrice Rushen’s distinct character on acoustic piano shines through beautifully.

Christian McBride offers his awesome acoustic bass interpretation during a solo on “800 Streets By Feet” – a song made famous by EST. Chick Corea’s “Children’s Song” gets an update from the master himself as he and Lee are accompanied by Alan Pasqua, Peter Erskine, Chuck Berghofer and Ariel Mann. John Beasley’s piano playing on “Spam-Boo-Limbo” is an effective highlighter for Lee’s spirited guitar playing. One of the prettiest songs on the CD is “Rose Petals.” The song is played with the same delicacy as a rose petal and everyone contributes brilliant bits of musicality. While all of the songs on this great program are priceless, the addition of these masterful players makes this one of Lee Ritenour’s best recordings in his repertoire. Click HERE to Buy Rhythm Sessions now.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Grace Kelly – Sweet Sweet Baby

After wowing the straight-ahead jazz world and garnering worldwide acclaim, 20-year-old wunderkind Grace Kelly has set her sights upon winning hearts in the mainstream with an infectious crossover confection that was delivered on Valentine’s Day. Putting the saxophone aside to charm with her enchanting voice, the lilting stomp and clap single, “Sweet Sweet Baby” is available on Woodward Avenue Records.

“This song is inspired by the feeling of falling in love with love. It’s a song that captures that special time when someone is totally infatuated – whether it is with a girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, child, grandchild, pet or musical instrument. It celebrates euphoria and joy. But most of all, it’s a song that celebrates love,” said Kelly, who solos on her trademark alto sax on the frolicking, candy-coated track sweetened with morsels of jazz amidst a playful pop panorama.

With eight albums already to her credit – one per year since she was twelve – Kelly’s prodigious skills have won the Boston native who graduated the prestigious Berklee College of Music at age 19 numerous awards, extensive media coverage that spans CNN, magazine covers, features and rave reviews in the pages of Glamour, Downbeat, JazzTimes, and the Los Angeles Times, and glowing praise from jazz titans including Wynton Marsalis, Randy Brecker and Jimmy Heath. Her mentors include alto sax greats Lee Konitz and Phil Woods, both of with whom she has recorded duet albums. Kelly’s busy touring schedule is chocked full of gigs around the globe at which she leads her own band or performs with luminaries such as Chris Botti, Harry Connick Jr., David Sanborn, Dave Brubeck, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Esperanza Spalding and Jamie Cullum.

Marsalis was so impressed that he invited the then sweet 16-year-old musician to perform at President Barack Obama’s first Inauguration Celebration. Her burgeoning trophy case displays five ASCAP Foundation’s Young Jazz Composers Awards and a pair of Boston Music Awards. Kelly was the youngest person ever named in the Downbeat Critics Poll after being selected as one of the magazine’s Alto Saxophone Rising Stars each year from 2009-2012 and she also has the distinction of being voted Boston’s Best Jazz Act in four consecutive years by the Boston Phoenix/WFNX Best Music Poll.

Ninety Miles – Live at Cubadisco (Stefon Harris, David Sanchez and Christian Scott)

Recorded May 18, 2010 at Cubadisco, one of the biggest musical festivals in Cuba, at Teatro Amadeo Roldan in Havana, Ninety Miles Live At Cubadisco features vibraphonist Stefon Harris, saxophonist David Sanchez, Tand trumpeter Christian Scott bringing their stellar musical visions of the Afro-Cuban aesthetic to thousands of fans.his live recording reflects their ability to communicate the power of music as a universal language and solidifies their roles as musical ambassadors. This is a very adventurous project that features excellent soloing from all three bandmates.

GRAMMY nominee Stefon Harris contributes two tracks including “This Too Shall Pass,” and “Brown Belle Blues,” which were written especially for this project. GRAMMY winner David Sanchez brings his cross-cultural vision via his signature sound that merges elements of Afro-Cuban rhythms with bebop on his “City Sunrise,” and “The Forgotten Ones.” GRAMMY nominee Christian Scott contributes “Paradise Found,” a tune written by Donald Harrison. They get a help from two of Cuba’s revered pianists – Harold Lopez-Nussa and Rember Duharte, each of whom lead their own quartets.

Overall, this seven song masterwork explores the chemistry of Ninety Miles (the two-disc CD/DVD package released June 21, 2011) and takes their virtuosity to another level as musicians from different cultures who converse in a common language that transcends words. Check it out. Buy Ninety Miles Live At Cubadisco now.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Wayne Shorter – Without A Net

This priceless recording from Wayne Shorter is his first album on the Blue Note recording label as a leader in 43 years. Without A Netis a nine-track musical thrill ride that consists of live recordings from the Wayne Shorter Quartet’s European tour in late 2011, the one exception being the 23-minute tone poem “Pegasus.”

“Pegasus”  features the quartet with The lmani Winds which they recorded at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Joining Wayne on this searing new album are his long-running quartet featuring pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade.The album features six new Wayne Shorter compositions, as well as new versions of his tunes “Orbits” (from Miles Davis’ Miles Smiles album) and “Plaza Real” (from the Weather Report album Procession).

The quartet also reinvents the title song from the 1933 musical film Flying Down To Rio, which film buffs (such as Shorter) know as the first on-screen pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Click HERE to buy your copy.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Kyle Eastwood – The View from Here

London-based crew of stellar young musicians including pianist Andrew McCormack, saxophonist Graeme Blevins, trumpeter Quentin Collins and drummer Martyn Kaine on his latest release titled The View From Here. Together they blend their creative visions on eleven diverse tracks that reveal their communicable band chemistry and transferable songwriting capabilities. The rhythmic title track is based on a catchy ostinato figure played by Kyle Eastwood on electric bass and Andrew McCormack’s left-hand piano lines.

Graeme Blevins and Quentin Collins float in half time on top of their urgent undercurrent and create a dreamy effect. For “M.E.” (written for Kyle’s mother) is a loping, melodic piece that features the bassist stretching out on an expressive electric solo while later in the song, Collins exhibits his penchant for Lee Morgan/Freddie Hubbard daring chops. This is one great recording and has sounds and rhythms that everyone will enjoy.

Just one listen to “Sirocco” will conjure memories of the Mediterranean with its blend of flamenco handclaps and Eastwood’s mesmerizing pulse on acoustic bass. McCormack’s versatile pianism is creatively placed in a great solo that leaves the listener freely exploring the tempo-shifting piece alongside the band. The entire band turns in exceptional performances on The View From Here and in turn, you dear listener, will feel the effects of this dynamic quintet. Check it out and then order your copy HERE.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Miles Davis Quintet: Live In Europe 1969 The Bootleg Series Vol. 2

Originally recorded at Festival Mondial du Jazz d’Antibes, La Pinede, Juan-les-Pins, France on July 25, 1969 and at Folkets Hus in Stockholm, Sweden on November 5, 1969, this is the first officially released music of Miles Davis with his awesome “third quintet.”

This one-of-a-kind box set also features a kinetic video of their concert in Berlin.  There are 3-discs, a DVD, and liner notes offering new information about the great Miles Davis jamming with such inspired musicians as pianist Chick Corea, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, drummer Jack DeJohnette, and bassist Dave Holland!

The set lists showcase Davis’ Quintet playing music from his bebop, hard bop, modal, and electric eras with freewheeling solos from Davis and Shorter, aggressive bass playing by Holland, electric keyboards from Chick Corea, and power drumming by DeJohnette.

Much of the material is completely re-imagined, played with a muscular, intense, communicative freedom that is innovative and creative.  Songs such as “‘Round Midnight,” “Spanish Key “Nefertiti, the 14-minute “Bitches Brew” will thoroughly entertain you and the DVD offers a panoramic, view of the band with great sound. Miles Davis Quintet: Live In Europe 1969 The Bootleg Series Vol. 2 is energetic, complex yet accessible, exciting and ground-breaking. Buy it today.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

John Stein – Hi-Fly

From the opening act of “Speak Low” to the final blues benediction of “Funkin’ It Up,” Hi Fly succeeds in reflecting the multi-dimensional and expressive guitar of John Stein. In this journey, he boldly leads his ensemble in search of the elusive, yet enticing element that all jazz musicians live for – swing.

Indeed, they do find it, over and over again, as the quartet weaves its way through an impeccable display of standards and originals, both fresh and new. (Wayne Everett Goins, from the liner notes)

John Stein, guitar; Jake Sherman, piano and Hammond organ; John Lockwood, acoustic bass; Zé Eduardo Nazario, drums.

Pete Escovedo – Live From Stern Grove Festival

Live From Stern Grove Festival features the remarkable bandleader and timbalist Pete Escovedo out front with an amazing coterie of musicians having fun and treating their fans to the show of a lifetime. Accompanying Mr. Escovedo is his dynamic tentet that includes his sons Juan and Peter Michael as well as special guests: daughter Sheila E. on congas and vocals (“Solo Tu,” “Dance”); Arturo Sandoval on trumpet, (“Suenos De Los Torreros”); Ray Obiedo on guitar (“Brasiliero”); and Dave Koz on sax (“True or False”).

This is one great show because of its exemplary soloing by guitarist Michael Angel on “True or False” and the consummate performances by Sheila E. on “Dance” and “Solo Tu.” But it’s Pete Escovedo swinging rendition of “Fly Me To The Moon” that makes this set special. All of the performers are amazing on their respective instruments but after performing for over 50 years with an amazing Who’s Who of musicians, Pete Escovedo is still hotter than hot and is this live show’s brightest star. Check it out. Click HERE to buy your copy today.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Chris Potter – The Sirens

The Sirens is acclaimed saxophonist Chris Potter’s ECM debut as a leader, an album of mood and melody inspired by The Odyssey in both its epic atmosphere and its timeless humanity. Potter, who has been featured on many ECM albums by Dave Holland and Steve Swallow, as well as making a profound contribution to the contemporary classic Lost in a Dream with Paul Motian and Jason Moran, has composed a cycle of irresistible songs without words.Chris Potter wrote all of the compositions except “The Shades” which was written by Craig Taborn and David Virelles.

“Wine Dark Sea,” opens the program and immediately sets the tone for the recording. Potter’s lyrical and emotional saxophone voice tells the story of this affecting metaphor as his bandmates provide their creative visions. An extended piano solo adds to the beauty and mystique of this piece. The title track, “The Sirens” features a highly creative bass clarinet introduction by Potter whose solo is colored by light pianism.

Larry Grenadier adds a splendid bowed double bass solo later in the composition that seamlessly flows into Potter’s tenor saxophone event. All 9 songs are conveyed by a  virtuosic, strikingly textured band: with Potter on tenor and soprano saxophones and bass clarinet, plus Craig Taborn (piano), David Virelles (prepared piano, celeste, harmonium), Larry Grenadier (double-bass) and Eric Harland (drums).

Potter declaims lyrical lines over the dynamically inventive rhythm section, as coloristic keyboards shimmer like stars in the night sky. Check it out then click HERE to buy.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Tan Ping – Paradise

“Paradise” contains 11 original songs written by Tan Ping, a singer/songwriter in the San Francisco Bay Area. Like a cool breeze on a hot summer day, Tan Ping’s songs and lyrics soothe and refresh, with their upbeat, light-hearted yet spirited messages. Through these songs, she shares her compassion and love for life with people near and far, explores relationships with self, family and Mother Nature, and offers caring thoughts for those who could use encouragement.

Accompanied by award winning musicians, “Paradise” is authentic and catchy, seasoned with spices of Jazz, R&B and Fusion, and served up with Tan’s sincere, folk-like expression. Finding the right artists for this project was a challenge, because of the nature of her songs. She was lucky enough to come across Open Path Music, where she met Scott Sorkin (co-producer of the CD, and a fantastic guitarist and arranger) and Lee Ray (recording engineer).

Scott and Tan worked very closely throughout every process – from selecting musicians to making arrangements and editing! Through Scott, she met John R. Burr, two-time Grammy Winner and the pianist of Alison Brown’s Quartet. As someone who composes on the piano, Tan had dreamt of finding a pianist just like John! As with her own creations, when Tan heard John’s piano pieces, the words simply appeared in her head. Thanks to John’s assistance, she was given the wonderful song “If I Do Not Return” to compose, the last title she wrote for “Paradise”

The other musicians, including Dan Robbins (bass), Paul Van Wageningen (drums), Kristen Strom (Sax/flute) and Michael Spiro (Percussionist, five-time Grammy nominee) added wonderful spices and enhancements to the flavor of the CD. The title track, “Paradise”, was written during the production process, in honor of the remarkable feeling it was to be among these awesome musicians! For the post-production, she brought in Gary Mankin (Mix) and Ken Lee (Master), both hidden jewels of the Fog City, who knew how to keep a common thread throughout the CD, while still recognizing the special meaning behind each song.

During rehearsals and the recordings, Tan would explain what inspired her to write the songs and how the arrangements might develop along with the lyrics. The musicians sincerely responded to the content of those songs through their common passion for music, contributing amazing input and unique vitality to the CD… and bringing out the best in her. As she was recording her voice, she would lock into the mood of the songs by going back to the state of being when she wrote them. The gentle voice she uses in her Jazz style comes from her years of voice training, while the freedom of phrasing of some of Tan’s pop songs are the influence of Jazz improvisation.

Tan Ping’s life as a long-time musician and singer have given her the knowledge and understanding of exactly what she was looking for in the creation of “Paradise”. The experience and confidence of being a professional musician in Taiwan led Tan to not only refuse compromises in the quality of this new CD, but also to keep the music as real as possible by leaving the spontaneity in the mix. “Paradise” is the best of what Tan Ping has in to offer, and is a treat for the soul that can be enjoyed again and again. “This world is what we make it, sing the Paradise in your heart!”

Joe Lovano – Cross Culture

This stellar release, by saxophonist and composer Joe Lovano is his most fully realized representation of a career-long quest to explore the notion of universal musical language. The album is an 11 track tour de force that represents 10 of Lovano’s original compositions along with a stunning interpretation of the Billy Strayhorn ballad “Star Crossed Lovers.”

The album features his core Us Five ensemble of pianist James Weidman, bassists Esperanza Spalding and Peter Slavov, and drummers Otis Brown and Francisco Mela and is augmented with guitarist and fellow Blue Note artist Lionel Loueke. This record has funk, swagger and should be in your record collection. Click HERE to buy Cross Cullture.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Cécile Hortensia – Papillons

French folk singer Cécile Hortensia blends cultures and music styles in her bilingual debut album “Papillons”, fusing her French roots with her adopted American culture in a bilingual, bi-cultural collection of songs.

Born in Nancy, France,  Cécile now lives in Arizona and each of the 12 tracks on Papillons explores a different side of the daring journey she took, seeking to find adventure in a new cultural perspective.

Kendrick Scott Oracle – Conviction

With the 2007 release of The Source – his debut recording as a leader – drummer and composer Kendrick Scott established a reputation right out of the gate as an explorer, someone with a generous measure of wisdom and insight to counterbalance his youth and newcomer status.

Nearly six years later, Scott and his band continue to dig beneath the surface to find the deeper truths in Conviction,their new CD scheduled for release on Concord Jazz. As the title suggests, Conviction is the vehicle by which Kendrick and company look past the mundane and examine the motivating forces that propel us through life, even in those times when the greater truths are obscured by the tedium of the everyday.

“The first record was almost like a potluck project,” says Kendrick, who has developed associations with numerous high-profile jazz figures in the decade since his emergence from the Berklee scene in 2003. “There were so many of my friends and people whom I love to play with, and I wanted to have them all in one place on that record. But Conviction is something different. I wanted to make this more of a band statement. This current lineup of the band just molded itself around this music, and then took it in all different kinds of direction at the same time. It all came together so easily and so well.”

The streamlined version of Oracle on the new recording includes saxophonist and bass clarinetist John Ellis, guitarist Mike Moreno (the only member to also appear on The Source) pianist Taylor Eigsti and bassist Joe Sanders. Guest vocalist and guitarist Alan Hampton makes appearances on two tracks.

“These guys create a totally different vibe from the band on the previous album,” says Scott. “They bring something that has definitely added to my writing. The way they interpret my compositions is exactly the way I want them to be interpreted. I provide them with just a few elements and ideas to get started, and then they take it wherever they feel it should be taken – which always turns out the be a good place.”

The album plays as a continuous and seamless stream of music with no breaks between tracks, the net result being an atmospheric soundscape rather than a series of individual tracks. The set opens with Scott’s nod to his gospel roots in a traditional prayer in which seeks to be an instrument of peace, faith, hope and love. The prayer segues immediately into the shimmering “Pendulum, which showcases the captivating solo work of saxophonist John Ellis atop the solid foundation set up by Taylor Eigsti on piano and the full-bodied rhythm section of Scott and Sanders.

“Pendulum,” originally performed by UK indie electronic band Broadcast, moves seamlessly into a melodic cover of avant popster Sufjan Stevens’ “Too Much,” a song propelled by Hampton’s intriguing vocals and a lurching backbeat that forces the listener to engage and come along for the ride.

Scott and company deliver an expertly rendered cover of Herbie Hancock’s “I Have a Dream,” which morphs directly into a short and quiet – but nonetheless intense – solo bass track entitled “We Shall Overcome By Any Means.” The haunting “Liberty Or Death” is built on a simple four-note piano riff that escalates to near-crescendo proportions midway through its near seven-minute run time.

The title track, written by Derrick Hodge (also the co-producer on Conviction), is built on a piano/bass/drum configuration that dances around any clearly defined rhythmic pocket, yet establishes a unique groove nonetheless.

In the final stretch, “Serenity” once again features the vocals of Alan Hampton. The following track “Be Water,” includes an opening monologue by legendary martial arts master and philosopher Bruce Lee that encourages a shapeless, fluid approach to the creative process rather than adherence to any concrete style. “Be water, my friend,” he intones more than once, as the track segues into a piece of music that is just that – fluid, flowing, energetic and crystal clear.

The closer, “Memory of Enchantment,” is a gentle solo piano piece crafted with plenty of breathing space between the notes and a poignant melody that briefly conjures a sense of urgency but ultimately instills a sense of closure and peace.

“Just like the title suggests, I’d like this album to encourage people to consider their own convictions,” says Scott. “We can live day to day and not really think about what our greater purpose is in this lifetime. What inspires me most about life are the opportunities we have to create and evolve. At any given moment, it’s our knowledge – and unfortunately, sometimes our lack of knowledge – that informs everything we do. And in those actions, if we’re wise enough to recognize it, there’s a quiet understanding that whatever we do has a purpose. With that understanding comes a sense of conviction. This record is my way of trying to give more thought to the things that I sometimes take for granted. Hopefully, I can take the listener on that same journey of self-discovery.”

Grace Kelly – Live at Scullers

On Live at Scullers, saxophonist Grace Kelly offers a set mostly composed of new material which shows off her remarkable instrumental virtouosity and her winsome vocal versatility. She ups her style quotient with the likes of Jason Palmer on trumpet, Zach Brown on bass, Pete McCann on guitars/ukulele, Mark Walker on drum, Eric Law on cello. Jamie Woods & Chantale Sterling are her backing vocalists.

The opening track, “Please Don’t Box Me In,” is traditional yet contemporary. She melds the two styles seamlessly as Jason, Pete, Zach and Mark help her stretch her creativity. The stunningly diverse set of songs also features great performances inspired by Grace Kelly’s environment, travels, friends and lovers. Listeners will hear her inspired moments on the smoldering “Night Time Star,” her colorful homage about a visit to Montana on “Autumn Song” and her country-tinged ballad “Kiss Away Your Tears.”

“Searching for Peace” won Grace Kelly the 2011 ASCAP Jazz Composers Award. It is a scintillating burner that takes you on a musical journey that you’ll remember long after the song is over. The set closes with two familiar standards, both of which the saxophonist has recorded in the past. “The Way You Look Tonight” is reprised from Man With the Hat, and her groove-oriented take on “Summertime,” which she previously recorded on her 2006 album Every Road I Walked.

This live recording seems especially created for her faithful fans at Scullers. She captures the energy of the audience and more importantly connects with them.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Louis Durra – Rocket Science

Rocket Science continues the trio’s forward momentum with highly personal adaptations of The White Stripes, KT Tunstall, and Bob Marley. Pop icons are revered, then amiably turned on their heads. Two Mexican Corridos and a 170-year-old Quebec folk song also appear. Clearly, Durra finds inspiration in music far from his roots.

The group has not stood still since their last release; new bassist Ryan McGillicuddy has helped the group find an airy, lighter sound. The band has also evolved further away from the traditional balance between soloist and accompaniment. There’s a sense that all instruments are part of the drum kit. These are fine musicians taking chances and making discoveries. The group has much to say, some of it with great humor, which in itself is very, very rare.

  1. The Hardest Button To Button 3:05
  2. One Love 4:28
  3. Black Horse And The Cherry Tree 4:26
  4. Home 4:58
  5. El Mango 3:33
  6. Nine Eleven 4:29
  7. According To You 3:45
  8. Living For The City 4:48
  9. Back In The USSR 4:13
  10. Un Canadien Errant 3:54
  11. In My Life 4:59
  12. La Puerta Negra 2:18

Louis Durra – piano (Louis is pronounced LOO-ess, Durra is pronounced like “Durable”).
Jerry Kalaf – drums (Kalaf rhymes with “bailiff”)
Ryan McGillicuddy – bass
Larry Steen – bass on 1&7.

Jonathan Kreisberg – One

While recognized for his band leading skills on his international tours and countless CD’s (as well as for his sideman work with Dr. Lonnie Smith, Joe Locke, and Ari Hoenig, among others) One marks guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg’s first recording made up of entirely solo guitar performances. The program boasts a daring range of material and introduces the world to his unique polyphonic approach. Although at times it’s hard to believe, the entire recording is one man on one guitar with no overdubs, loops or extra tracks!

Modern jazz, a Brazilian mythical tale as heard on “Canto de Ossanha”, folk, and improvised music for an imaginary science fiction soundtrack (“Escape From Lower Formant Shift,”) are all refracted through Kreisberg’s prism to create a bold and complete tale. The repertoire includes original music alongside compositions from Wayne Shorter, Leonard Cohen, Rodgers & Hammerstein and others. Click HERE to purchase this CD.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Valarie Pettiford – Velvet Sky

From the stages of Broadway to the soundstages of Hollywood, Valarie Pettiford has charmed audiences with her performances. A Fosse-trained dancer, Pettiford was nominated for her work in the musical revue, Fosse, which paid homage to her mentor. As an actor, she has created characters for which fans still recognize her, such as Big Dee Dee Thorne on the hit sitcom, Half and Half, and Aunt Geneva, whose rehearsal dinner musical number nearly stole Jumping the Broom from co-stars Angela Bassett, LorEtta Devine and Paula Patton. For those who have had the pleasure of hearing Valarie Pettiford sing, whether in a musical or one of her women cabaret shows, it is her smooth, decadent and resplendent voice that they remember.

Pettiford’s second solo album, “Velvet Sky”, is a collection of original lullabies to which she brings  a tenderness and wealth of emotion. All of   the thirteen tracks on this new album were written especially for her by two legendary writing teams – Ron Abel (music)/Chuck Steffan (lyrics) and Michael Orland (music)/Jamie Wooten (lyrics). The songs range from playful numbers that are meant to inspire play between parents and their children, as well as softer tracks to lull babies (of all ages) to sleep.


“I am very proud of this project. It was a real labor of love,” enthuses Pettiford. “Ron and Chuck were writing together, while Michael and Jamie were writing together – and then they switched partners for a few songs, which was a really fascinating endeavor!

Valarie Pettiford Releases Second Solo Album, 'Velvet Sky,' 9/18They created the most amazing lullabies for me to sing. I think people- especially parents, single parents, and soon-to-be parents- will really connect with this music, which will help them connect more with their babies.”

When asked about what originally drew her to a lullabies project, Pettiford says, “At the time, my husband, Tony Rader, and I were thinking about having children and thought what a beautiful idea it would be to record an album of lullabies during that period. I also thought my voice was well-suited for lullabies. That’s what was so great about having the songs written just for me. Ron, Chuck, Jamie and Michael all knew my voice very well, and they wrote for my strengths.”

Though she loves each track equally, one song in particular strikes a deep personal chord with her, a chord to which she feels many women can relate. ‘My Miracle’, the final track on this beautifully crafted album, written by Wooten and Orland, “touches the core of any woman who has had difficulty having children,” she explains, “It speaks to the beauty of an impossible dream realized.”

“After all these years,
After all those tears,
I never thought I’d ever feel this way.
To hold you in my arms, to keep you safe from harm,
To whisper in your ear and softly say,
You’re my miracle. My miracle.

How do I describe the way I feel inside?
When I lean down and look into your eyes,
How could I have known,
How fast the years had flown,
And how fortunate I found you in time.
You’re my miracle, my miracle.

You see, miracles have a way of coming true
For everybody else, but not for me.
God was saving something special for my life.
And something special is what you turned out to be.
You’re my miracle, my miracle…
My miracle.”

– ‘My Miracle’ from “Velvet Sky”

Pettiford set out to create something that encouraged playtime between parents and their children, to engage both parties. “Velvet Sky” does just that and more. Lullabies are some of the most cherished musical moments because of the intimacy they inspire. That authenticity and joy is captured in perfect harmony with this collection of lullabies, and kids of all ages will love these new musical gems.


Peter Cincotti – Metropolis

With its hard-driving beats, funky rhythms and stellar pop-centric sensibility, vocalist, pianist and composer Peter Cincotti’s fourth album, Metropolis, might be perceived as a sharp left turn from the jazz-focused, boy-crooner sound that established his career a decade ago. But Cincotti seesMetropolis, for which he wrote all 12 songs, as more evolutionary than revolutionary, marking his continuance along a musical path that he started mapping as early as age three.

Cincotti was just 18 when, in 2003, his eponymous debut album for Concord catapulted him to international fame. Endless comparisons were made to the singing and playing style of Harry Connick Jr. (one of Cincotti’s early mentors and strongest boosters) and Cincotti was often hailed as the post-millennial answer to Frank Sinatra. Looking back a decade, Peter recalls, “I was surrounded by a lot of people who want you to repeat things-to make the same record over and over again. [Back then] I did have a lot of idols in the Sinatra mold, and still do, but that was always just one room in the house for me. I never wanted to live just in that one room. I might come back to it, but I also wanted to discover the rest of the house-to keep adding and exploring new rooms, rather than sitting on the couch. Even with the first album, my goal was to find a personal approach to the [jazz] genre. Music for me is about creating something, not repeating something.”

Actually, Cincotti sees his musical journey not as a straight line, but as a connected series of circles, somewhat comparable to the bases on a baseball field. That first album and his like-minded 2004 Concord follow-up, On the Moon, were doubles that together brought him full circle to home base. Then, with 2007’s East of Angel Town (released by Warner Brothers Records in Europe and Asia; then two years later in the U.S.), Cincotti’s first album of exclusively original material, which moved away from jazz and into the pop arena, it was the beginning of a second circle (kind of a line drive that got him to first base). That album went gold overseas and yielded Cincotti’s last hit single “Goodbye Philadelphia”, which reached number #1 on pop radio charts throughout Europe and kept him touring there for the last several years. Now, withMetropolis, he’s rounding that same circle toward second. Though, judging from the quality of his craftsmanship as both composer and musician, Metropolis seems destined to be a home run.

For Cincotti, the first step in the two-year arc of Metropolis‘ creation was finding the right producer. His earlier albums were shaped by industry heavyweights-the first two by Phil Ramone, the third by David Foster. This time around, Cincotti chose the younger but equally dynamic John Fields. “I met with a whole bunch of people,” says Cincotti, “but as soon as I met John, we clicked. He’s produced such a wide variety of music – everything from The Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus, to Switchfoot and other rock bands, and once I got to know him, I discovered there was this whole other side of him that was heavy into the blues-funk Minneapolis sound, which is where he’s from. All those different elements were key to this record, and it was exciting to collaborate with someone who speaks many different musical languages.”

That Fields is also a richly accomplished multi-instrumentalist (on Metropolis he appears on all 12 tracks, alternating among guitar, bass and keyboards) was critical to the album’s development. “John is like a one-stop music shop,” Cincotti enthuses, “which is really cool, because it meant that everything could be done simultaneously. It was never like ‘next Wednesday we’re going to be adding guitars,’ so you’d have to wait around for a week until guitar day. Every element of every song was considered early and at once. Even mixing decisions were made immediately. John and I would build each track and then there was a select group of musicians who would enhance the concept.” Some contributors, like violinist, keyboardist and string arranger Stephen Lu and drummer/percussionist Dorian Crozier, appear on the majority of tracks. Others-including guitarist Peter Thorn, Prince’s drummer Michael Bland and guitarist David Ryan Harris-make less frequent appearances, handpicked to add their distinct magic to specific tracks. Percussionist and effects wizard Ken Chastain is, for example, a close friend of Fields’ and, as Cincotti explains, “We were working on the title track and John said, ‘I think Ken would totally get this; let’s see what he can bring to it.’ It was a very gratifying way to make a record.”

Though “Metropolis” was the last track completed, it drives the album’s theme, which examines the joys and ills of the contemporary urban experience from multiple perspectives. “The album is,” says Cincotti, “meant to be representative of how we live today. It’s not one particular city, but the urban landscape in general. I wanted each song to feel like a neighborhood within Metropolis, and for the storylines within the songs to somehow seem as if they were occurring simultaneously.”

The album opens with its set piece, the title track, strongly reminiscent of the Pet Shop Boys’ infectiously propulsive electronica. Later tracks “Graffiti Wall,” partially inspired by the twentieth anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s demolition, and “World Gone Crazy,” with its condemnation of society’s tech-fueled ferocity, further speak to the overarching theme.

The remaining tracks focus more on personal tales within this urban jungle. “There are,” says, Cincotti, “a few songs on the album about commitment, beginning with “My Religion.” It’s polar opposite is “Forever and Always.” Both are about becoming someone else for the sake of a relationship, but the first comes from the dark side of commitment and the second from the light.”

Romantic upheaval is also prevalent. “Take a Good Look” traces a disintegrating relationship. As Cincotti explains, “The beginning of the song is a question, the middle a feeling, and the end an undeniable belief that the relationship is over.” The closing track, “Before I Go,” is also about departures but, he says, “has a sort of cockeyed optimism in it. It’s about trying to freeze that moment in time before you have to say goodbye, honestly believing you can fight the inevitable.”

But, proof that Cincotti has not entirely lost heart, there are also several songs that suggest a more upbeat attitude towards love and its possibilities. “Do or Die” tells of a guy infatuated with a workmate who is finally given his chance when he finds himself alone with her in an elevator. “It is,” says Cincotti, “all about making the first move – that ‘fight or flight’ response that sometimes goes through your head when you’re interested in someone.” Irresistible attraction is also central to “Magnetic.” “In this case,” says Cincotti with a laugh, “the guy’s excuse is that it’s pure physics: ‘don’t blame me,’ he’s saying, ‘I have no control over this.'” And “Fit You Better” is a clever tale of, as the lyric suggests, ‘perfect opposites’ whose marked differences are what make the romance work.

Though all 12 tracks demonstrate Cincotti’s escalating skill and maturity as a songwriter, two are particular standouts. “Madeline” again concerns commitment, but with an intriguing twist. The guy in the piece is unswerving in his long-term dedication to one woman, yet realizes that a former lover will always cloud his memory. “I was interested,” says Cincotti, “in the idea of someone from the past forever tainting the present. What it may be like to move forward while accepting the fact that the rest of your life will be haunted by someone you will never have again.” And, dovetailing the through themes of modern urban life and romantic entanglements is “Nothing’s Enough.” Cincotti sees the song as “a big question mark. It concerns [societal] excess; how people my age have become accustomed to quick changes and immediate gratification on every level. The question is: How does that mindset affect modern day relationships?”

Ultimately, Cincotti would like listeners, who nowadays often approach music in terms of individual track downloads rather than complete albums, to “listen to the album as an album. I’m hoping people will press ‘pause’ on the craziness of their daily lives and actually experience the entire record. It’s a lot to ask in this day and age, but this album is all about creating another world-the [quasi-mythical] world of Metropolis-and I want them to feel like they’ve actually been there.”

Paris Combo – 5

Love is a universal language and Paris Combo confirms that music is as well. The five-piece French band that has garnered global acclaim and an immense following for its unique mélange of colorful cabaret, elegant jazz, multicultural world music and sassy alterna-pop has released their fifth studio album, the appropriately titled “5,” on DRG Records.

It has been since 2004 that Paris Combo released a new album, “Motifs,” which was supported with a concert tour that visited the iconic Hollywood Bowl where they were accompanied by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. The troupe consisting of chanteuse Belle du Berry, Potzi (guitar), François Jeannin (drums, percussion, vocals), and David Lewis (trumpet, flugelhorn, piano) reunited in 2010 after a four-year hiatus and spent a year writing, rehearsing and rediscovering their hallmark sound. After adding new bassist Emmanuel Chabbey to the lineup at the end of 2011, they returned to extensive touring where they performed new material that evolved into “5” and delivered another memorable show at Hollywood Bowl.

“In 2006, we gave ourselves the luxury of taking a break from touring and recording so each of us could return to his or her individual musical sources – a breathing space to allow inspiration to happen. Four years later, we reunited in a rehearsal studio – in Paris of course – and without even playing our previous repertoire, together we started composing new songs. The group’s chemistry was magic straightaway. Right from the first notes, the chords, the melodies, and the grooves sounded spontaneous and naturally like ‘Paris Combo.’ It was like a reunion with an old friend. The tone was set and we knew we would have fun co-writing our new material and exploring all the different aspects of the group’s identity – the ‘Paris Combo style,’” said du Berry, whose lyrical muse remains love.

On “5,” du Berry ruminates on the crazy extremes of amour sung in her native French: love at first sight, love lost, broken love, the dream of love, the brilliance of love, “volcanic anger” produced by love, love’s persistence and love’s enduring immortality. Behind her alternately aching, playful, graceful, tantalizing, and always alluring vocals, the band, with the assistance of a three-piece string section, sets captivating backdrops and intriguing sound collages constructed from artsy Europop, rambunctious riffs, smoky jazz, charismatic cabaret, swinging grooves, exotic Latin, African and rumba rhythms, and mystical Middle Eastern and gypsy nuances.

Lewis said, “We are thrilled to be releasing ‘5’ in the U.S. We have always felt very much appreciated by audiences there and we are thoroughly looking forward to touring there again. After 15 or so tours, the States are an important part of the group’s story.”

Paris Combo’s story began in the early ‘90s when du Berry, Potzi and Jeannin first performed together in Paris as members of a quirky retro revue before going on to collaborate at the closing ceremony of the Albertville Winter Olympic Games in 1992. Lewis joined the fold in 1994 and the outfit honed their sound playing in cafes and on barges along the Seine. Their self-titled 1997 debut disc arrived as the swing revival was in full bloom and instantly appealed to fans internationally while generating critical praise yet the band’s wide-ranging mix set them apart. The movement multiplied with the release of their sophomore outing, “Living Room,” which went gold in France in 2000. Their third set, “Attraction,” attracted more followers the following year and was followed by a live album in conjunction with extensive concert tours in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia.

(Rick Scott)

Catch Paris Combo live at the following U.S. concert dates (additional dates may be added):

April 19 – Cleveland, OH – Museum of Art

April 20 – Bloomington, IN – Buskirk-Chumley Theater

April 21 – Chicago, IL – City Winery

April 23 – Indianapolis, IN – The Cabaret at the Columbia Club

April 24 – Livermore, CA – Bankhead Theater

April 26 – San Francisco, CA – California Institute of Integral Studies

April 27 – Santa Monica, CA – The Broad Stage

April 28 – Irvine, CA – Soka Performing Arts Center

April 30 – New York, NY – Joe’s Pub

May 1 – Reston, VA – Center Stage at Reston Community Center

May 2 – Brooklyn, NY – Littlefield

May 3 – Boston, MA – Berklee Performance Center

Justin Horn – Hornology

Covering a broad range of musical styles, this jazz-influenced groove-pop record featuring an eight-piece band puts Justin Horn’s versatility as a vocalist, composer, arranger, and lyricist clearly on display.

Justin Horn was raised in the shadow of the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, and the influence of jazz on his wide-ranging groove-based pop music is clear. Justin studied music and philosophy at the University of Idaho, working closely with renowned composer and arranger Dan Bukvich. He currently resides in Auckland, New Zealand, where he is pursuing a Ph.D. focusing on the philosophy of music.

Manhattan Vibes – Blue November

Top New York City vibist Christos Rafalides has released his second recording with Manhattan Vibes titled Blue November. The recording features Sergio Salvatore on piano, Mike Pope on bass and Vince Cherico on drums. The group’s sound is from a vibraphone centric perspective with shades of Latin consciousness and elements of dance and groove. As a quartet, each member brings a vast array of influences and musicality which transcends musical boundaries.

From the intensity of “Red and Black” to the airy tenderness of “Days of Silence,” the music exudes the pure essence of the quartet – one of mutual respect. Click HERE to purchase the CD.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Marion Meadows – Whisper

Albert Einstein once said “We all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.” For multi­-talented saxophonist and consummate creative spirit Marion Meadows, the allure of music was never too far. The charismatic, strikingly handsome, eloquent and debonair musician, who happens to moonlight as’ a brilliant digital designer/photographer, and semi-professional cyclist originally had aspirations to become a veterinarian. “Reaching people through music has always been rewarding for me. Expressing yourself through an instrument and having listeners run through so many emotions is an artistic impression like no other,” says Marion. With a clear trajectory in sight, the stars aligned for Meadows one evening at Grand Central Station, when his saxophone was mysteriously overheard reverberating through the Big Apple’s oldest railway.

Emmy-winning TV composer Jay Chattaway (Star Trek fame) was so enchanted that he introduced Marion Meadows to Grammy-winning pianist, producer and label owner Bob James, who helped Meadows to launch his career as a solo artist. Close to 25 years later, scores of sold out shows, twelve critically heralded albums, a string of radio hits and collaborations with luminaries.like Stevie Wonder, Eartha Kitt, The Temptations, George Benson and Norman Connors, Meadows is not through yet. “I have immersed myself in so many styles, from old school funk, jazz, rock and pop that a great tune is a great tune and 1 draw inspirations from all styles of music, but it is also from the outdoors and the beauty the world has to offer that inspire me each day” states Marion. February 26, 2013, Shanachie Entertainment in conjunction with Listen 2 Entertainment Group will release Whisper, Marion Meadows’ IalJerde6UT.” Featunngmosily. originals, Meadows dances a delicate~ balance between soul and fire, intellect and emotion, and sensitivity and brawn, making Whisper, an exhilarating musical foray into one of contemporary jazz’s most brilliant minds and recognized soprano saxophonists.

A musician unafraid to boldly fuse diverse influences, Marion Meadows sculpts a borderless musical tapestry on Whisper. “I came up listening to Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Duke Ellington but at the same time musicians like Earth Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan, Chicago and Parliament Funkadelic,” confesses Meadows who early on cut his teeth playing in Avant-Garde jazz groups alongside heavyweights Rashied Ali and James Blood Ulmer. Whisper, Marion Meadows’ first new recording in four years, features the saxophonist’s agile and ethereal soprano styling’s and some robust tenor work. It opens with the majestic, intoxicating and rhythmic driven “The Visitor,” which segues into the melodious and scintillating title track, co-written by keyboardist and long-time collaborator Michael Broening. Meadows produced Whisper along with Carlos Pennisi, Bob Baldwin, Rahni Song and Broening. The album’s first single is the enticing, funky and hypnotic “Black Pearl.” Just like its namesake and gemstone, Meadows’ pearl is multi­ layered, producing a beautiful interior within each shimmering chorus.

Keyboardist Carlos Pennisi co-authored the song and helped Marion to compose five songs on the album. “Carlos helped me really try different musical ideas on Whisper. He is an amazing composer and multi-instrumentalist born in Italy with a great sense of using colors in his productions. As an artist I’m searching to try new ideas, and he definitely brought that to the table.” “Timeless,” is an evocative and tender impressionistic ballad, co-written with keyboardist Rahni Song, who joins Meadow on the track along with Pennisi and harmonica player Julian Davis. “Curves,” is an uplifting get-on-the-dance-floor anthem that serves up the right combination of grit and soul, while “Magic Life” and “Golden Curtin,” showcase Marion Meadows’ knack for crafting unforgettable melodies that magically have a way of transporting you. Meadows breathes new life into two jazz classics on Whisper, borrowing from the Freddie Hubbard and Dave Grusin songbooks. Freddie Hubbard’s 1970s landmark CTI classic “Sky Dive,” soars with Meadows’ own buttery soul rendition featuring his tenor and soprano alongside trumpeter Joey Sommerville. Dave Grusin’s 1980’s chestnut “Marcosinho,” gets revitalized with Meadows’ sparkling new take.

Recording Whisper for Meadows was truly a labor of love and part of that process was the joy of collaborating with friends. Longtime associate and keyboardist Bob Baldwin joins Marion on two of the album’s tracks, “Bottoms Up” and “Turn Up The Quiet.” Meadows says of his friend, “Bob always delivers!” Turn Up The Quiet” marks one of the high points on the project, as the duo score a home run.

Marion’s tender soprano gracefully teases and caresses the seductive melody as Baldwin finds all the accents to drive the song home. Flautist Ragan Whiteside joins Meadows on the show-stopping number, “Bottoms Up.” Marion calls Whiteside and Althea Rene (who is featured on “Golden Curtain,”) “two of the greatest flautists I know.” Not afraid to get loose and turn up the heat Marion Meadows serves up a scorcher on “Wild Thing,” a James Brown inspired romp that escalates things to a sweat inducing fevered pitch.

Hailing from West Virginia and raised in Stamford, CT, Marion Meadows began his musical endeavorsatage eight, studying clarinet. At age 15, after hearing iconic saxophone masters like Sidney Bechet, Coleman Hawkins, Johnny Hodges and Stanley Turrentine, Marion Meadows’ switch to saxophone was imminent. During high school, he earned a coveted spot in the All-State Orchestra and Jazz Band and was afforded the opportunity to travel throughout Europe. His experiences during this time made him reconsider his ambitions for medical school and a career as a veterinarian. Upon graduation, Meadows attended the renowned Berklee School of Music in Boston, later transferring to SUNY Purchase School of the Arts. While still a student, the ambitious saxophonist worked steadily as a sideman.

He jokes that he “got a graduate degree playing clubs.” He was also fortunate to study with the best including Joe Henderson, Dave Liebman and Eddie DanielsWhile at Berklee, Marion Meadows had another serendipitous encounter, this time with drummer producer extraordinaire Norman Connors, who was then playing with legendary saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders. Meadows says, “Norman Connors was really the guy who discovered me as an artist. The man who gave me my first shot.” Connors’ recorded Marion’s song “Invitation” and later extended an invitation to Marion to join his band. Connors, who collaborated with many of R&B and jazz’s greatest singers, afforded Marion the opportunity to work alongside such dynamic voices as Jean Carne, Phyllis Hyman, Glenn Jones, Angela Bofill, and many others. “That was a nice graduate school.-sort of speak”, laughs Meadows. After graduating with honors from Connors’ University, the well-rounded saxophonist spent time honing his chops on the avant-garde circuit in the ensemble “Aboriginal Music Society,” which featured guitarist James Blood Ulmur, percussionist Juma Sutan and pianist Kasa Allah.

In 1990 Marion Meadows made his recording debut, For Lover’s Only featuring Eliot Lewis, Porter Carroll, Brian Keane and Average White Band alumnus Alan Gorrie. Two years later he joined forces with Will Downing, Bob Baldwin, Angela Bofill and Norman Connors for his sophomore recording Keep It Right There. Further solidifying his rightful place in the pantheon of great saxophonists, Meadows released Forbidden Fruit in 1994. He was joined by an eclectic all-star cast that included Eric Benet, SWV, Don Grusin and Dori Caymmi, among others. Body Rhythm came in 1996 and Pleasure, the following year. Around this time Marion Meadows relocated from Connecticut to the Valley of the Sun – Phoenix, AZ. He also settled at a new recording home, Heads Up International, where he released his sixth album, Another Side of Midnight in 1999, calling on a little help from some friends Bob Baldwin, Omar Hakim and Norman Brown followed by Next To You in 2000 and In Deep in 2002.
Player’s Club in 2004 spawned two hit singles “Suede” and “Sweet Grapes,” and have gone on to be Marion’s signature songs.

Dressed To Chill (2006) included memorable renditions of hits by R Kelly and Luther Vandross and joined Meadows with Chuck Loeb and his longtime touring keyboardist and vocalist Will Brock, among others. Secrets and its title track in 2009 advanced to the top of smooth jazz radio charts. During this time Meadows also relocated to Hawaii and has spent the past several years living in both locations. In addition to touring steadily on his own, Marion Meadows is also a member of the highly sought after Sax And the City Tour fronting the band with fellow reedman Paul Taylor, with additional guests Jessy J, young saxophone sensation Vincent Ingala and pianist vocalist extraordinaire Joe McBride”

The Maestro Duke Ellington once said “My attitude is never to be satisfied, never enough, never!” Like the maestro, Marion Meadows, is never content to rest on his laurels. With a four-year intermission between recordings, Marion Meadows is back with Whisper and ready to share his gift with the world. “Shhhhhhhhh, the show is about to begin.”

Chick Corea and Gary Burton – Hot House

Five years ago, Chick Corea and Gary Burton celebrated the 35thyear of their vibes-piano collaboration with their first double CD,The New Crystal Silence. To commemorate the 40-year anniversary, the duo has released Hot House. The set consists of repertoire taken from some of their favorite composers and includes new arrangements of such favorites as “Eleanor Rigby” “Strange Meadowlark,” “Time Remembered,” and “Light Blue.”

Although Chick Corea and Gary Burton are a duo who don’t offer a huge portfolio of collaborations, they certainly make the most of what they have released. Witness Crystal Silence, which since its introduction in 1972, has begotten a succession of ever-more-dazzling collaborations, including Lyric Suite For SextetChick Corea and Gary Burton: Live In Munich, among others, and now, missing no opportunity for a new set of duet music, Corea and Burton’s Hot House reveals two masters at work who after 40 years are as excited as ever about the music they’re playing and are genuinely enjoying themselves.

Corea and Burton employ their trusty acoustic instruments – piano and vibraphone – and which are more than sufficient to deliver a great sound that avoids sensory overload. With their prodigious power they deliver songs written by such great pianists as Monk, Evans, Tatum, Dameron, Weill and McCartney, dressed in new clothing that will surely impress the most sophisticated listeners. One new composition by Chick Corea titled “Mozart Goes Dancing,” concludes the program.
Apart from the obvious, Hot House differs from their previous collaborations due to the decades (1940s to 1960s) from which the songs emanated and the fact that not many of these songs are well-known. All of the songs sport new Corea-Burton arrangements and classic tweaks that make these songs accessible to a new generation. Check it out. Buy HOT HOUSE now.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Mike Longo / Paul West / Ray Mosca Trio – A elebration of Diz and Miles

On his second live trio album, A Celebration of Diz and Miles, jazz pianist Mike Longo pays tribute to two of the greatest jazz trumpet players of all time, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. Longo played extensively with Gillespie for a quarter-century, and jammed onstage with Davis during shared club dates in New York City (three-sets-a-night for nine-weeks) in 1969 and 1970.

Longo is backed by renowned jazz stalwarts Paul West on bass and Ray Mosca on drums. The most remarkable aspect of this new live album is that it is completely intuitive as well as being 99-percent improvisational (except for the basic melody statements). Since Longo has played many times with West and Mosca in many band settings over the past four decades, and since the material was well-known, the trio did not rehearse. “I just showed up with a list of tunes. Even the intros and endings are improvised,” Mike states. “We hadn’t even planned to do an album, but at the last minute my producer, Bob Magnuson, decided to record it.”

The concert appropriately took place at the John Birks Gillespie Auditorium at the Baha’i Center in New York City, and the album contains highlights from two completely different (TAKE OUT HYPHEN BETWEEN THE WORDS “completely” and “different”) sets performed June 26, 2012. This is free-wheelin’, deep-exploratory, impulsive, instinctual live jazz at its best, based in be-bop traditions, but always pushing into new territory. “Jazz audiences expect every concert, each set, to be something new, fresh and exciting, and my goal is to deliver that,” Longo states. “These tunes will never be played again exactly like they were that night.”

Longo, who in his early days studied privately with Oscar Peterson and played while still in high school with Cannonball Adderly, explains that the most challenging aspect of the concert was creating spontaneous piano-trio arrangements of tunes originally played by larger ensembles with one or more horns. “However, I have been doing this in concert and on my studio trio recordings for the past few decades, so I am very familiar with the difficulties involved in trying to capture the essence of a horn tune on piano. On some of these pieces I tried to get two or three lines going simultaneously representing several horn parts as well as the original keyboards, and then bring my own thing into it.”

A Celebration of Diz and Miles and many of Longo’s other recordings are on the Consolidated Artists Productions label (CAP) and are available online in the CD format at Jazzbeat.com and CDbaby.com, selected retail outlets, and also as digital downloads at sites such as iTunes, Rhapsody, eMusic, Amazon-downloads and many other internet locations.

Although Longo has performed with dozens upon dozens of distinguished jazz musicians during his career, he has a special place in his heart for Dizzy and Miles. Gillespie hired Mike as the pianist for the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet in 1966, a position Mike held through nine years of non-stop touring and recording, and for several years he also was the musical director for the band before striking out on his own. But even then, he worked frequently with Dizzy for another 16 years. “I was always learning from Dizzy. He had the greatest depth of understanding of rhythm of any musician I ever met.”

When Mike arrived in New York City as a young man, Miles was playing at Birdland with a band that included John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderly, who got his former piano player into the gig. Backstage after meeting Miles, Longo asked Adderly what it was like working with Miles and Cannonball said, “He has a hell of a mind.” Later, while in Dizzy’s band, Longo met Miles many times. “Miles looked up to Dizzy as a mentor. They both had a lot of respect for each other.” In 1969 they were both playing with Quintets and were both booked into the Village Gate in New York to play three sets a night for six weeks. Every night, every set, Miles sat in with Dizzy’s band giving Longo the opportunity to play with both jazz legends on the same stage together. The following year the quintets were also booked together at the Club Baron in Harlem for three more weeks of stage sharing. During these stints, Miles paid Longo a high compliment when he said about the tight interaction between Dizzy and Mike, “Sounds like you cats got married.”

A Celebration of Diz and Miles kicks off with the Davis tune “All Blues” with Mike weaving the inner horn parts into the theme statment simultaneously. (“playing multi-part Bach fugues in college helped prepare me to do this”), followed by Gillespie’s “Con Alma” (“many times Dizzy and I played it as a duo in concert”). Other Dizzy tunes include “Ow” (“I first played this in high school years before I met Diz, and the tune taught me a flow of accentuation that I had never experienced before.”), “Here Tiz’” (“ever since I recorded it for my successful studio album, Float Like a Butterfly, I wanted to get a live take of it”), and Gillespie’s signature tune “A Night in Tunisia” (“I played it so many times with Dizzy that it was challenging to come up with a different approach here, so I embraced a sort of call-and-response with myself in the solo followed by an atonal cadenza”). The trio also tackles various Mile Davis numbers such as “Milestones” (“I always loved that record”), “Freddie Freeloader” (“a simple melody with a deep, deep groove like Picasso drawing a masterpiece with just a few lines”) and “So What” (“a great, great tune from Kind of Blue that was a turning point for Miles as he moved from diatonic to modal music”). Also included are two standards (“Summer Time” and “You Don’t Know What Love Is”) that Miles recorded (“those gave us the chance to do some deep exploration”).

“Playing with true jazzmen like Paul West and Ray Mosca is a real joy,” says Longo, “because they were willing to follow me wherever I headed, and I went in some strange directions. Paul can just about read my mind, and Ray is one of the few drummers who can contrapuntally answer me. I like drummers to play counter to what I am playing. Paul and I played together at the Playboy Club in the early days, and we played together with Dizzy for a couple of years too, and then with my trio after I left Diz. More recently he played on my Float Like a Butterfly CD. Ray played on my first live trio album a decade ago. Ray has been in many of my trios over the years.”

Among their many credits, West has played with Erroll Garner, Dinah Washington, Ray Charles and Billy Eckstine, and Mosca played with Oscar Peterson as well as Zoot Sims, Lena Horne, Billy Taylor Trio, Chet Baker and Benny Goodman.

Longo’s background includes earning his Bachelor of Music degree in classical piano at Western Kentucky University while also playing with the Hal McIntyre Orchestra, Hank Garland and the Salt City Six. Mike moved to New York and became a house pianist at the Metropole Cafe where he played with Coleman Hawkins, Henry Red Allen, George Wettling, Gene Krupa and other jazz notables. Eventually Longo also got to work with many great singers — Nancy Wilson, Gloria Lynn, Jimmy Witherspoon, Joe Williams, Jimmy Rushing, to name a few. Longo did an extended stay at Embers West with bassist Paul Chambers accompanying acts such as Frank Foster, Frank Wess, Clark Terry, Zoot Sims and Roy Eldridge. In addition, over the years Mike has performed on albums by Dizzy Gillespie, Astrud Gilberto, James Moody, Buddy Rich, Lee Konitiz and many others. Longo started his own recording career in the early Sixties and now has two-dozen solo albums to his credit (three of them with his big band, the New York State of the Art Jazz Ensemble). In addition, Longo is revered as a master jazz teacher (he has written numerous textbooks) and he also is releasing instructional DVDs in an eventual four-disc series titled The Rhythmic Nature of Jazz.

“It felt completely natural to me to do a piano-trio concert and a recording of music associated with Dizzy and Miles,” says Longo. “Everything Miles did was wonderful. If I had to pick one word to describe him, it would be ‘deep.’ Dizzy was always pushing me to go further and learn new things. Sometimes in concert in the middle of my solo he would give me ideas by coming over and whispering a rhythm in my ear or pounding a tambourine right next to my head. Other times I would finish my solo and Diz would refuse to come in, and even if I felt I was running out of ideas, he pushed me to dip deeper and deeper into that creative well and bring out what he knew I had in me.”

Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band – Live In Hollywood

Live In Hollywood captures Poncho Sanchez doing what he does best for the past 30 years…letting it rip! As one of Concord Picante’s most valuable players, the multiple GRAMMY- winning artist continues to convey the vibrant sounds of Latin Jazz wherever he is…be it Hollywood, California or San Juan, Puerto Rico. While this exceptional set just happened to be recorded live at the Hollywood & Highland KKJZ Summer Concert Series in Hollywood, California, make no mistake about the Afro-Carribbean influences you’ll hear as a result of Sanchez’s many travels abroad.

Opening with “Promenade,” this swinging set gets the audience involved and ready for a medley of Poncho Sanchez’s songs that includes “Mi Negra” and “Baila Baila.” Later in the program, Sanchez pays tribute to a couple of his biggest influences – Clare Fischer on “Morning” and percussionist Mongo Santamaria on “Afro Blue.” Gary Foster performs a great melody line on the alto saxophone and the song is arranged as a cha-cha. “Afro Blue,” which was written by Mongo Santamaria is delivered as a high-energy tribute complete with excellent soloing by Sanchez, flute, and the vibrant horn section that introduces and closes this all-time favorite.

The set ends with a hot salsa titled “Son Son Charari,” and from the sounds emanating from the audience, Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band had things really fired up. Overall, Live In Hollywood is the next best thing to being there. Click HERE to buy the CD now.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Patricia Barber – Smash

On Smash, her debut on Concord Jazz, Patricia Barber reiterates her unique position in modern music as a jazz triple-threat – imaginative pianist, startling vocalist, and innovative composer. With a new band and a dozen new compositions, she also continues her two-decade crusade to retrieve the ground that jazz musicians long ago ceded to pop and rock: the realm of the intelligent and committed singer-songwriter, tackling even familiar subjects (like love and loss) with a nuance and depth beyond the limits of the Great American Songbook.

Once again – in the crisp chill of her vocals, as well as the fiery feminine intellect that informs her music and lyrics – Barber makes most of her contemporaries sound like little girls.

A prime example is the title track, where Barber paints the end of a love affair with subtly stated allusions to destruction: the erosion of edifices; a bloody road accident. The lines are more akin to poetry than conventional song lyrics, as she depicts “the crumbling of tall castles built / on kisses and blood / and dreams so like sand.” The song’s reprise compares “the sound of a heart breaking” to “the sound of / the red on the road” – a devastatingly effective mélange of synesthetic imagery. Aided by a raw, forceful guitar solo, the performance illuminates a counter-intuitive realization about loss:

“It just struck me, as it does everyone who experiences great loss, that on the outside, no one can tell,” Barber explains. “You go to the grocery store, and everything’s the same, which is shocking. It struck me that this is the sound of a heart breaking: silence. You’re alone. And I felt that this was an interesting juxtaposition, since the sound of a heart breaking should be the loudest, screamiest, shriekiest combination of sounds there could be.”

Barber has another song on the subject of “loud, shrieky” emotion: “Scream,” paradoxically set to a gentle, quiet melody that belies its message, and which has proved extremely popular with those audiences hearing it prior to this recording. “Scream / when Sunday / finally comes / and God / isn’t there . . . . the soldier / has his gun / and the war / isn’t where / we thought it would be.” As Barber points out in conversation, with only the slightest sarcasm, “It’s an angry song – and everyone wants that.”

Her anger finds a more whimsical (but no less impactful) outlet in the catchy “Devil’s Food,” written specifically from Barber’s perspective as a gay woman: “boy meets boy / girl meets girl / given any chance / to fall in love / they do . . . / like loves like / like devil’s food / like chocolate twice / I’m in the mood / for you . . . .” She wrote the song in reaction to last year’s highly publicized efforts to quash gay-marriage initiatives around the country:

“It made me mad, and it made me want to make a declaration – but to make it fun. I find one of the best ways to bring people to your perspective is of course to charm them, and music can always do that. That’s how I get a lot of people thinking about a lot of things. I mean, the lyrics are fairly graphic – ‘sweet on sweet, meat on meat’ – but the music is so beguiling, I think I make the case. And when it becomes clear that it’s turning into a gay disco song, it’s really fun watching people’s reaction, which is surprise and mostly delight.”

It’s not the usual territory trod by jazz singers and songwriters; we’re a long way from “The Man I Love.” (“Smart songs about the way we think and live, not just about the way we love,” wrote Margo Jefferson in The New York Times.)

Much of Barber’s magic lies in setting these words to music as fully evocative as it is coolly provocative. Many of her arrangements attain a thrilling friction between style and substance. (For a defining example, turn to “Redshift,” in which Barber weds the science-geek lyric – itself a miraculous marriage of physics and love – to the gentle lull of a bossa-nova beat.) Throughout the album, her Chicago-based quartet – comprising the superlative rhythm team of bassist Larry Kohut and drummer Jon Deitemyer, with the edgy and arresting John Kregor on guitars – functions as a translucent extension of Barber’s own musicality, while her piano work enjoys a prominence that some of her newer fans may not previously have experienced.

One song, “Missing” – perhaps the album’s most indelible portrait of heartache – came about in an unusual way: “This was a commission, I guess you could call it. A woman sent me a letter and her story, and a very small check, and asked if I could turn it into a song. It was sort of an outrageous request, but it really hit me, so I wrote it; it was my idea to take the story through the four seasons. In some ways, it’s the sleeper of the record. When I play this in concert, a lot of people cry at this one.”

The other songs on Smash represent the fruit of Barber’s decision to write what she calls a “syllabic song series”; these pieces resulted from a disciplined framework, based on the number of beats in each poetic line. (For instance, “The Swim” consists entirely of two-syllable lines; “Spring Song” has three such phonemes per line; “The Wind Song,” six.) “I studied the songwriters, but now I just study the poets,” she explains. “I’m trying to make the poetry of a finer order. But I still need to rhyme, because rhyme is rhythm, and rhythm is music.”

Audiophiles will be especially glad to know that Smash reunites Barber with her long-time recording engineer Jim Anderson (with whom she first worked in 1994, on her Premonition Records debut Café Blue.) Anderson – who is Professor of Recorded Music at New York University’s Tisch School for of the Arts – has again captured Barber’s music with the clarity and presence that led Stereophile Magazine to label Café Blue a “Record To Die For.” HDTracks and Mastered for iTunes versions of Smash are also available.

After her long association with Premonition and then Blue Note Records, Barber self-released her two most recent albums – recorded at Chicago’s legendary Green Mill, her weekly showcase for more than two decades – and had no plans to sign with anyone else at this point in her career. “I didn’t have a contract, or even a recording in mind,” she states. “I assumed that when I had a group of ten or so new songs I would probably put it out myself.” Halfway through this process, Barber received an offer from Concord, which she promptly turned down: “I was really enjoying the freedom of not having a label, especially in this environment, and just doing what I always do – trying to advance myself musically, practicing a lot, and locking in on what I consider a really good band.”

But the persistence of Concord producer Nick Phillips won out. “He came to see me, and he reminded me so much of Bruce Lundvall,” Barber recalls, referring to the former Blue Note president with whom she worked closely. “I had been grieving the loss of that professional relationship. And then Nick mentioned that he has great respect and admiration for Bruce. So we hit it off personally, and that’s what it takes for me.”

That, and the chance to take her time – to read poetry, practice piano, and do some gardening on a tract of farmland she owns in Michigan, a welcome getaway from city life in Chicago. That’s how Barber’s ideas take root and bloom. She remains an electrifying performer, but performance is not the most important aspect of her art. “My favorite part is the internal part – the research,” she points out. “All the interesting stuff happens inside your head and at the piano.”

Fortunately, those of us not in Patricia Barber’s head or at her piano still get to enjoy the fruits of that labor.

Kevin Eubanks – The Messenger

Guitarist Kevin Eubanks showcases the breadth of his artistic influences on his new Mack Avenue Records release titled The Messenger. The recording also features members of Eubanks core quartet Billy Pierce on reeds, Rene Camacho on bass, and Marvin “Smitty” Smith on drums. Special guests include Joey De Leon, Alvin Chea and Kevin’s brothers Robin and Duane Eubanks.
Kevin wrote all but two tracks and gives his listeners several ways to enjoy his music. “The Messenger” opens the set and it’s filled with Eubanks’ musical personality as he offers a range of moods, textures and tempos. He’s funky on “JB” (a nod to James Brown) and has given a new twist of funk to John Coltrane’s “Resolution.” Alvin Chea sings the vocal bass line, Kevin plays a dynamic solo and this song gets new life and is thoroughly entertaining.  Kevin changes directions again and reveals the reflective side of his creativity on “Sister Veil,” “Queen of Hearts,” “Loved Ones,” and “The Gloaming.”  An exceptional performance by Duane Eubanks on trumpet and Billy Pierce on reeds permeates the haunting beauty of “Sister Veil.” Here Kevin adds his guitar with a wah-wah solo that will stay with you long after the track is over.
Overall, The Messenger is a project that not only showcases the exemplary technical prowess of Kevin Eubanks and his band, but it is soulful, energetic, and emotional and represents the best of Kevin Eubanks. Click HERE to buy this CD now.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

The Verge

Formed in New York City in 2011, the Verge is an exciting mix of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Merging improvisational music with World Pop, and original songs, the Verge brings a unique blend that live, evolves differently each night, never knowing where they are going but arriving there with conviction.

From the Latin-jazzed Miles Davis classic “Joshua” and Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun,” to the Johnny Hartman-like swing created on Britney Spears 2011 hit “I Wanna Go,” homage is paid to the past, but with feet firmly planted in today’s microteck world…the Verge is forward moving, mixing intensity with lyricism and melodicism.

An original cut penned by Jon Hanser, entitled “Ariel,” remembers Sylvia Plath and reaches out to the emotionally downtrodden. The “Dead of Night,” tone poems a village late on a snowy night.  “Above and Beyond” draws upon the deep talents of special guest bassist Richard Bona, to promise a vision of earth from space for all to see.

Terri Lyne Carrington – Money Jungle: Provocative In Blue

Duke Ellington released Money Jungle in February 1963, a trio album with bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach. Fast forward to 2013 and a new generation of jazz lovers will be introduced to a re-imagined version of this album titled Money Jungle: Provocative In Blue which has been released by drummer and educator Terri Lyne Carrington. She is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Ellington release with her trio featuring bassist Christian McBride and pianist Gerald Clayton. The trio is joined by an array of stellar guests including trumpeter Clark Terry, Herbie Hancock, Robin Eubanks on trombone, vocalist Lizz Wright, saxophonist Tia Fuller and several other respected musicians.

In addition to the musicians who gave their heart and soul to the making of this awesome recording, audio clips from speeches spoken by Martin Luther King, Hilary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Condoleeza Rice, and others set Carrington’s version apart from Ellington’s. Gerald Clayton is absolutely masterful at the piano as is Christian McBride who keeps the rhythm logic appropriate throughout and during his creative solos. But it is the GRAMMY- winning drummer Teri Lyne Carrington who digs deeper to redefine and reflect the real stories behind the music that Ellington composed. Her drumming and creativity ignite the cultural, political and socially relevant speeches that makes this recording accessible to another generation of music lovers as well as to those who may have missed the message Ellington wanted to convey in 1963.

Overall, the music is genuinely creative with no processed, over-saturated ingredients that pollute the musical genius of Ellington. If you enjoyed Mosaic Project, then you’ll absolutely love Money Jungle: Provocative In Blue. Click HERE to buy this CD now.

Reprinted with permission of…
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Madeleine Peyroux – The Blue Room

Madeleine Peyroux currently has the #1 Jazz Record in the country. The Blue Room, the new album from the acclaimed singer, has caught the attention of both music fans and critics resulting in the #1 Traditional Jazz Album on Billboard, iTunes and Amazon, and entering in at #62 on the Billboard Top 200.

Madeleine will kick off her world tour on March 22nd with two sold-out nights at New York’s famed Lincoln Center, plus intimate sessions with WFUV, Sirius and WXPN. This tour will also see Madeleine perform alongside comedian & musician Steve Martin at The Hollywood Bowl in CA. Visit http://madeleinepeyroux.com for more info.

Watch this behind the scenes footage of Madeleine and longtime collaborator / legendary producer Larry Klein in the studio creating The Blue Roomhttp://bcove.me/fluon5n5

TOUR DATES (more to be announced):


March 20             Tarrytown Music Hall                                              Tarrytown, NY

March 22             Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Allen Room             New York, NY

March 23             Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Allen Room             New York, NY

March 24             The Birchmere Music Hall                                       Alexandria, VA

April 2                   Dakota Jazz Club                                                       Minneapolis, MN

April 3                   Dakota Jazz Club                                                       Minneapolis, MN

April 4                   Northern Lights Theater                                         Milwaukee, WI

April 5                   Old Town                                                                     Chicago, IL

April 25                 Palau de la Musica                                                   Barcelona, Spain

April 26                 Teatro Rosalia de Castro                                        A Coruna, Spain

April 29                 Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club                                        London, UK

April 30                 Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club                                        London, UK

May 1                    Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club                                        London, UK

May 2                    Cheltenham Jazz Festival                                      Cheltenham, UK

May 4                     Jazz sous les Pommiers                                        Coutances, France

May 6                     The Olympia                                                             Paris, France

June 29                  Kate Wolf Music Festival                                     Laytonville, CA

July 4                      Quebec Summer Festival                                     Quebec, Canada

July 6                      Montreal Jazz Festival                                           Montreal, QC

July 14                    Sani Festival                                                             Halkidiki, Greece

July 15                    Lycabettus Theatre                                                Athens, Greece

July 18                   Ghent Festival                                                          Ghent, Belgium

August 7               Hollywood Bowl                                                      Hollywood, CA


Erin Boheme – What A Life

When you’re young, five or six years can make all the difference in the world. Sometimes the road is rocky, sometimes it’s full of good fortune. Most times it’s a little of both. But no matter what the terrain, the traveler who keeps her eyes and ears – and her heart – open to the world will inevitably learn something along the way.

Every girl dreams. But, in the case of relationships – dreams don’t always work out in the way one might have imagined. More often than not, they don’t. Erin Boheme is every girl. For the first five years of her “dating” life, the right things just didn’t seem to materialize – but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Often times getting to the dance might be easy, but it never guarantees you a successful dance.

So – for five years her relationships never seemed to gel – the right paths never crossed. The waiting time was exasperating. “But, as I reflect and look forward,” Erin says. “I really appreciate it all – the loves, the losses, the heartaches, and the passion – most of all the dreams, whether they come true or not, they all have joined forces to help form the beginning of my adult life – and ‘What A Life’ this will be”.

What A Life is more than just “the next album.” It’s also the next chapter in the evolution of an artist who took her first steps in front of the entire world at a young age and continues to discover the richness and potential of her own voice and her own muse. What A Life is set for release on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group.

Erin Boheme was originally signed to Concord as a jazz singer at the young age of seventeen. When Michael Bublé heard her, he discovered something more – Erin’s incredible songwriting abilities and her individuality at expressing herself about relationships in music. He also uncovered her talent as a pop singer – portraying Erin in the same light as one of her all-time heroes: Carly Simon. Similarly, Erin can be and is a pop voice for her own generation.

“After hearing a few examples of the songs I wrote, Bublé and John Burk (Chief Creative Officer and label head for Concord) encouraged me to keep writing,” says Erin. “So the album developed into a more raw, very singer-songwriter type of project: a chronicle of my life so far.”

The album’s exploratory nature is propelled by Bublé’s touring band, which serves as her backup unit throughout the ten tracks. The roster includes pianist Alan Chang (who was also a co-producer on the project), guitarist Dino Meheghin, bassist Craig Polasko and drummer Robb Perkins. An added string section brings a stirring emotional layer to some of the more intimate songs in the set.

The chemistry between this talented young frontwoman and her supporting cast is compelling from start to finish, beginning with the swampy country backbeat of the opening track, Everyone But Me, which is very reminiscent of the great Chris Isaak’s sound. Perkins sets up a thumping pattern as Boheme’s sensual vocals ride alongside Meheghin’s crunchy fretwork.

“Everyone But Me was the story of my life. ‘nuf said!,” Erin writes in the liner notes. “I felt inspired to write I Missed You Today by love’s daunting partner: distance. Distance shines such a bright light on all of those things about the person you miss – their little quirks, habits, traits – all adding up to the one you loved. Coldplay’s great song In My Place, captures so brilliantly in five single words, what every lonely girl feels: ‘How long must you wait?’ I can’t tell you how much I’ve personally connected with this song.”

“Whenever romance gets stressful, doesn’t everyone think ‘well, why don’t you just try being me for a while?’ I wrote In My Shoes as an anthem for those moments, girls.”

“The Last Time is a David Foster song that makes me smile every time I sing it – because it is for the guy who I think is finally ‘the one.'”

“Sometimes the two most difficult words to say are ‘I Do’ – which is why I wrote these words over and over and over again…because when it finally happens, those two words are the easiest ones to say – and you just have sing them: I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do!”

“Who could ever measure up to that one guy who captured your heart, but let it go? The rebound guy never wins, cause He Isn’t You.”

“The very worst part about falling in love is falling out of love – and that is always a possibility. But I wanted to write this song for everyone, just to say that everything is not always lost – that we should try again, because perhaps, just perhaps – the second time will be even sweeter than the first. Never lose hope – give it One More Try.”

“One night I found myself sitting at the piano feeling melancholy. The magic of this piano is that it had belonged to the great Henry Mancini – and I imagined him sitting here, writing those brilliant melodies about Holly Golightly inBreakfast at Tiffany’s. Miraculously, within 20 minutes I had written a complete song- What A Life – which spoke of my love, my life, my hopes and my dreams – where I could clearly see that special someone ‘waitin’ round the bend’ for me.”

“I’d Love To Be Your Last is a song first sung by Miranda Lambert, that Michael felt would make a terrific duet – and a great ending to this CD. I think it was the perfect way to leave you – singing with the wonderful Spencer Day, and singing about the very moment that you look at someone, and you know in your heart that they’re the one you were always on your way to. To use an old phrase: ‘the past is only prologue’ – and I can’t wait to write the rest of the story.”

For Erin, What A Life has been five years in the making. But, like fine wine- special things can take a little extra time to reach their zenith. Michael Bublé found a rare gem in the talents of a girl named Boheme, and presents her here, for your consideration. This is her musical diary: a peek into the heart of a girl who is destined to live a most extraordinary life.

Peggy Duquesnel – Seems Like I Know You

Transitioning from straight-ahead jazz and inspirational music to showcase her skill set as a contemporary singer-songwriter, classically trained pianist Peggy Duquesnel got to know jazz fusion keyboard pioneer Jeff Lorber and bassist Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets) in order to co-produce “Seems Like I Know You,” a five-song EP that will be released April 16th, 2013 by Joyspring Music. Duquesnel wrote or co-wrote four songs for the collection, including the first radio single, “When I Think of You,” a soulfully sophisticated R&B groove that gets tasty horn-powered highlights from Rick Braun’s trumpet and flugelhorn.

Gifted with a voice as cozy and as comfortable as Sunday morning, which perfectly matches her girl-next-door demeanor, Duquesnel’s piano pop songs fortified with jazz intonations provide snippets of real-life experiences embellished and enhanced by sterling instrumentation. A joyous love song of immediate familiarity, “Seems Like I Know You” opens the EP with a celestial call and response chorus. Duquesnel and Lorber co-wrote the music for “When I Think of You,” a song of patience, longing and hope with lyrics and melodies that the pianist hatched while on a nature hike. On “That’s How It Always Goes,” Haslip’s somber bass seems to symbolize fleeing love amidst an enchanting sea of sunny optimism in the search for lasting love with Michael Thompson providing a fiery final word on electric guitar. Clouds and heartache don’t stand a chance of lingering on a soothing rendition of the Carpenters’ “Rainy Days and Mondays.” Backing vocalist Dee Dee McNeil penned the lyrics to “Bird on a Leash” for which Duquesnel composed the music for the elegant track about the loneliness and isolation that results when a romantic partner is smothered and taken for granted.

“Songwriting has been a natural gift and form of expression for me that I have enjoyed doing since I was 12 years old. I had already recorded several albums of jazz and gospel standards as well as many of my straight-ahead originals, but I wanted this project to showcase my songwriting placed in a more contemporary setting. Many of my songs have been born out of life experiences and it is my hope that the music will touch and inspire others,” said Duquesnel, who went on to explain about her accomplished collaborators that will perform with her at a pair of hometown album release concerts on March 11th in Seal Beach (Spaghettini) and April 22nd in Irvine (Concordia University). “I met Jimmy (Haslip) a few years ago in the recording studio while we both worked on a project for another artist. When he and I first connected to discuss my new direction, he suggested that Jeff (Lorber) would be a good fit as a co-producer. I had been a fan of Jeff’s since high school so the thought of collaborating with both Jeff Lorber and Jimmy Haslip on this project was very exciting for me. Both of them have become mentors and friends.”

Born in Bethpage, NY and reared primarily in Orange County, CA, Duquesnel discovered the piano when she was three years old and grew up singing, playing and writing songs. After earning her degree in classical piano at California State University, Northridge and mentoring by esteemed jazz pianists Alan Broadbent and Terry Trotter, Duquesnel performed and recorded with Dionne Warwick, Henry Mancini, John Pattitucci, Jeff Hamilton, Grant Geissman and Grammy-winner Broadbent. Her first foray as a featured artist came in 1995 as a member of jazz crossover combo Pocket Change (“Higher Altitude”) while her debut disc as a solo artist, “Where is Love?,” was released in 1999 and spotlighted Duquesnel in a trio setting with orchestral accompaniment arranged by Broadbent and engineered by Grammy-winner Al Schmitt. Her five subsequent releases spanned the jazz spectrum along with a couple of inspirational recordings. A passionate proponent of music education, Duquesnel shares her vast knowledge while serving as the Director of Jazz Studies at Concordia University. Additional information is available at www.joyspringmusic.com.

The songs contained on Duquesnel’s “Seems Like I Know You” EP are:

“Seems Like I Know You”
“When I Think of You”
“That’s How It Always Goes”
“Rainy Days and Mondays”
“Bird on a Leash”

Hammer Klavier Trio – Rocket In The Pocket

“The Hammer Klavier Trio is jazz as it lives and breathes today. Three bright musicians use acoustic and electric instruments in a fun and unfussy concoction of classical jazz and contemporary rhythms that feels right for this moment. Their quirky and earnest melodies, sharp rhythms and hipster attitudes acknowledge with appreciation jazz’s recent and older past, but are inspired not fettered by it. In fact, it frees them. So HKT keyboardist Boris Netsvetaev adds an edgy touch of electronics on “Hysterioso,” his variant of Thelonius Monk’s “Mysterioso,” for no other reason than because it brings a smile, and the groove cut by bassist Philipp Steen and drummer Kai Bussenius is in step with how people move.And the rest of Rocket in the Pocket demonstrates equal confidence, though after the lyrical, impressionism à la Bill E vans feel of “A Sketch in Dark Colours” you don’t expect the dirty Fender Rhodes distortion effect Boris employs in his solo on “Suicide Train.” Or Philipp’s lead bass part on “Tekla,” with Boris’ haunting backdrop of a voicing. Or the free-time episode at the center of “Plan B,” followed by chordal figurations reminiscent of a Herbie Nichols composition. But you accept it all, since these three clearly know what they’re doing, and it’s exciting.

Those are two reasons why the Hammer Klavier Trio has made many a strong impression and won an ever-broadening fan base since forming at the Hamburg University of Music and Theater in 2002, where its members first met at a concert of the Joe Lovano-Bill Frisell-Paul Motian trio. The genuine originality of St. Petersburg-born Netsvetaev’s compositions and arrangements, and the sensitive flexibility by which Steen and Bussenius make the music their own are two more. The intriguing drama and engaging playfulness heard throughout this album, though, are the main things. No other explanation is necessary to enjoy this music than hearing “Rocket in the Pocket,” the album’s title track. It shows off what HKT weaves together and how. A backbeat as funky as any in-crowd needs, a motor goosing Boris’ elegantly precise and unerringly decisive piano line, Steen and Bussenius synchronizing their parts into an irresistible rhythm. Happy surprise! You can dance to it!

Mac Gollehon – La Fama

From the Artist:  This Collection is a Compilation of live performances from 1980-1996.I formed several bands over the years and recorded at a wide variety of venues, with so many of my valued friends during this great period for live music in NYC. All of the musicians on these recordings were players and leaders on the gigs I was involved with at that time and had the pleasure of performing with. On occasion I would get the opportunity to have them perform with me on my shows as a leader.

When I arrived in NYC in1979 the Latin Music Scene was busy and productive. I began working immediately with many of the great bands of the time. Ray Maldonado, the well-known trumpeter from Mongo Santamaria brought me in as a sub and eventually as a member of the bands of Ray Barretto and Hector Lavoe. Hector was such a natural talent and encouraged me to form my own bands. At the same time Ray Maldonado and I were doing a large amount of recording for artist of many genres. Among them were Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz, whom we recorded several records for and Doc Cheatham was also in the trumpet section. Mean while, I was getting gigs together as a leader in various clubs and had Ray contract the bands for me. Some gigs included the horn section on these recordings. Trumpets: Ray Maldanado, Jose Febles, Doc Cheatham, Puchi Boulong. Trombones: Jose Rodriguez, Barry Rogers, Harry D Aguir, Michael Grey. Organ and Piano were used as to what instruments were available at the venue. These shows featured such luminaries as: Charlie Palmieri, Hilton Ruiz, Larry Harlow and Gilberto “El Pulpo”Colon.

During this period in the early eighties I was also working in the Larry Harlow Orquesta. This is where I met the percussionists on these live tracks, such greats as Frankie Malaby, Potato Valdez, Poncho Roman, Nicky Marrero, Kako Bastar, Eddie Montalvo, Pablito Rosario, Ray Colon, Jimmy Delgado, Sammy Pagan. I had met Sa Davis in Boston years earlier. Playing with these amazing giants on a regular basis and hearing them on stage all of the time was a great learning experience.

Around 1983 I began recording with super producers, Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers. The drummer in this team was Tony Thompson. In 1985, I recorded INTROSPECTION and NITE TRAX with Bernard Edwards and Tony Thompson. These are the only studio sessions in this collection and also the first time I met Lester Bowie in the same studio. Lester played a solo right after mine on NITE TRAX. Ten years later I met Lester Bowie again and began working in Lester Bowies Brass Fantasy until 2000. As you can hear on the recording of INTROSPECTION and NITE TRAX, Bernard Edwards and Tony Thomson had a very unique and special groove when combined with the Latin percussion and playing Latin jazz was a very rare occasion for them.

In 1987 I worked again with Hector Lavoe briefly before going on a 1-year tour with Duran Duran. Hector had been such an inspiration earlier on for me that I asked him to make an appearance at my show to sing some of his well-known hits. He said it would be a pleasure but the day of the gig he called and said he had to go out of town and leave a day earlier than planned. He then encouraged me, with his blessings, to record the gig with myself playing his melody on trumpet. LA FAMA is the result from that gig and Hector Lavoes song is the title of the CD.

NEW MAC CITY was recorded 1982 at Bonds, the enormous famous venue in midtown. The two parts you hear on this CD were portions of a twelve piece suite. A smaller but well known uptown club was Voices, hence the title of the song, VOICES was recorded at the end of a 4am set list.

CASINO 14 was a popular downtown club and I recorded this version CASINO 14 as an opener prior to a Conjunto Classico performance that night.

Willie Bobo’s FRIED NECK BONES has been a part of my live book since I can remember, but this live version is very different than the original or any other version I have done.

DONDE LO HACE DUELEN(Where does it hurt). I wrote in 1979 and only performed it around 1986 once. Some interesting things about how this song derived. At the time I was giving trumpet lessons to a student in exchange for boxing lessons. Little did I know he was a top contender in 1957 and challenged Archie Moore for the light heavy weight championship of the world. His name was Ernest “Tony” Anthony. One day he suggested we go meet Miles Davis, whom he was also giving boxing lessons in exchange for trumpet lessons. We went to visit Miles on several occasions and the three of us would practice at Miles’ house. Miles never remembered my name but called me “Chops” and asked me to play something sweet. I could only think of the song I had just written, so I played it and afterward he said that’s a song about someone who understands hurt and encouraged me to continue my writing. So I would like to admiringly dedicate DONDE LO HACE DUELEN to Miles Davis.

FOTOS DE LOS OCHENTAS, I wrote this to feature the melodic bass of Ray Martinez.

CONJUNTO MOODS was recorded at Chelsea Place, a very cozy club on 8th Ave. and 17th St. that resembled a thirties speakeasy. This Bata ritual is from Yoruba and was used to summon prosperity in agriculture and crops, featuring Sa Davis, Bata and trombone section of Jose Rodriguez and Barry Rogers. The trading trumpet solos are myself, Doc Cheatham and Ray Maldonado.

Closing the set is a NIGHT IN TUNISIA A tribute to trumpet legend Dizzy Gillespie, which is a good way to end a set of Latin Jazz.

Producer Michael Arthur Grey did a beautiful job at transferring all of the formats of the recording involved. The original recordings were from Crown reel to reel,Teac cassette porta studio, Adat, mini disc, Dat , basically all formats indigenous to the periods of the recordings. This compilation transferred to CD format is due to Mike’s painstaking efforts.

LA FAMA is dedicated to all of my famous friends that participated in this work. I would like to say thank you to all of them for being such an inspiration to me.

Mac Gollehon

Special thanks to my partner and love of my life Carol Barnhart who inspires me every day.
Mac Gollehon plays Warburton Mouth Pieces and Phaeton Trumpet and Flugel Horn

Mac Gollehon-Trumpet,Trombone
Charlie Palmieri-Organ
Larry Harlow-Piano,Organ
Hilton Ruiz-Piano,Organ
Gliberto “El Pulpo”Colon-Piano
Alon Nechushten-Piano,Wurlitzer
Frankie Malaby-Congas, Bata
SA Davis-Congas,Bata
Eddie Montalvo-Congas
Francisco”Kako” Basta-Timbales
Nicky Marrero-Timbales
Pablo Rosario-Bongo
Sammy Pagan-Bata
Poncho Roman-Timbales
Jimmy Delgado-Percussion
Ray Colon-Percussion
Tony Thompson-Drums
Bernard Edwards-Bass
Ray Martinez-Bass
Victor Venegas-Bass
Ray Maldonado-Trumpet
Lester Bowie-Trumpet
Jose Febles-Trumpet
Doc Cheatham-Trumpet
“Puchi” Boulong-Trumpet
Jose Rodriguez-Trombone
Harry D Aguiar-Trombone
Barry Rogers-Trombone
Michael-Grey –Trombone
Baron Raymonde-Alto Sax
Mauricio Smith-Flute
Robert Arron-Flute, Piccolo

John Gray Band – Black Pants, Black Shirt, Grappler Gun

Black Pants, Black Shirt, Grappler Gun is a five-track EP that is my first studio recording with my current band. The band features people I have met in various places, including my brother Ben Gray (guitar), a friend of mine from college Matt Robbins (vocals/keyboards), and two fine musicians I have met through my time playing jazz in Brooklyn, Ayumi Ishito (Saxophone), and Carter Bales (Drums). They are all wonderful musicians, and each of whom add something special to the band as a whole.

The album features five songs that, although they have lyrics, they are not specifically narrative and aren’t meant to convey a plot. They are trying to express a feeling, or an experience. The Dusty Plain is about the adventure of the wild west; I am from Phoenix, Arizona and that plus my love of spaghetti westerns (especially Ennio Morricone’s score to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly) influenced the writing of this song. Roses and… is a song about beauty and romance. Old People Reminiscing is inspired by a TV show called NBA Open Court, in which great basketball players from the past get together to talk about the old times and current events. It was also influenced by my Grandmother, and her conversations with relatives. The Everynighter is about going out and experiencing live music and art in New York City, which is something that has been very important to me, both professionally and personally. Black Pants, Black Shirt, Grappler Gun is an homage to spy music and is meant to be an exciting conclusion to the album.

Elan Trotman – Tropicality

Rihanna may be the most famous Barbadian making worldwide headlines, but saxophonist/flautist Elan Trotman is another gifted islander who is bringing the Caribbean island’s culture to the masses via music. “Tropicality” chronicles Trotman’s journey from Barbados to Boston and celebrates the multihued beauty of the tropical paradise. Trotman and guitar star Peter White produced the 12-track set that was recorded in Barbados, Boston and Los Angeles and includes performances by a stellar array of musicians from around the world.

The inherent difficulty for instrumentalists is to “speak” without words, hence Trotman’s challenge to speak volumes through melodic riffs, rhythms and grooves that tell his personal story and share his ardor for his homeland. He wrote or co-wrote seven of the collection’s nine originals and selected a few fitting covers, including the first single prefacing the album at radio, a rollicking rendition of Stevie Wonder’s reggae-inflected “Master Blaster.” Recording in three widely diverse cities afforded Trotman the opportunity to draw upon an international talent pool that boasts compatriot Barbados-born bassist/producer Nicholas Brancker, British guitarist White, French guitarist U-Nam, Brazilian guitar marvel Fabiano Da Silva, Aruban guitarist Serghio Jansen, Cuban percussionist Luis Conte, and an accomplished American contingent consisting of keyboardist/producer Jeff Lorber, guitarist/producer Paul Brown, guitarist Nick Colionne, drummers Terri Lyne Carrington, Ricky Lawson and Tony Moore, trumpeter Lin Rountree, bassist Alex Al and percussionist Lenny Castro.

“This album is very special to me as I’ve always wanted to showcase my Caribbean heritage through my music. We ‘islanders’ are happy people by nature and that quality has always been evident by the way our music grooves. As a child, I spent countless hours at the beach swimming and exploring the beautiful landscapes of the western and southern coasts of Barbados. On a recent visit back home, I began to compose these songs as I walked on those same beaches. My musical journey really began when I left my homeland to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston. ‘Tropicality’ is the story of that journey from ‘Bridgetown to Beantown,’ and I’m very fortunate to have some close friends from across the globe join me on this project. My original compositions feature rhythms and grooves not just from Barbados, but from other Caribbean Islands, Cape Verde, and Latin America,” said Trotman, who will launch the album with concerts in the three cities in which it was recorded beginning with a January 20th show in Barbados at the Prime Minister’s home of Illaro Court with Lorber as special guest followed by a February 21st gig at Scullers Jazz Club in his adopted hometown of Boston and a March 1st date at Spaghettini’s near Los Angeles.

“Tropicality” is Trotman’s sixth solo album and follows the success of 2011’s “Love and Sax,” a Billboard Top 20 contemporary jazz album that spawned the single, “Heaven In Your Eyes,” a duet with keyboardist Brian Simpson, which reached #11 on Billboard’s jazz songs chart. Trotman has lent his soulful horn flair to recordings and shared the concert stage with an extraordinary assortment of marquee musicians including Roberta Flack, Patti Austin, Will Downing, Phil Perry, Earl Klugh, Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler, Brian McKnight, Jamie Foxx, Johnny Gill, Nathan East, Gerald Veasley, Don Grusin, Keiko Matsui, Raul Midon and fellow saxophonists Dave Koz, Kirk Whalum, Gerald Albright, and Najee. He is a three-time winner of the New England Urban Music Award as Best Jazz Male, the 2011 Barbados Music Awards Instrumentalist of the Year, and was twice nominated for a Boston Music Award. Growing up influenced by seminal sax legend Grover Washington Jr. and mentored by Barbadian sax man Arturo Tappin, Trotman received a full scholarship to the Berklee College of Music courtesy of the government of Barbados. He shares his knowledge by teaching music in the Boston school district when not touring or recording. Additional information is available at www.elantrotman.com.

Wave Mechanics union – Further to Fly

Here are graceful and sophisticated jazz retellings of rock, prog, and pop classics as spun by an orchestra of 30 musicians. Vocalist Lydia McAdams and a large collection of talented instrumentalists are joined on two tracks by special guest Jon Anderson (the voice of Yes).

The striking arrangements, penned by Ryan Fraley and Ralph Johnson, show a deep love for both the source material and the conventions of modern jazz orchestration. Included are a surprising and eclectic group of songs from: Paul Simon, Ben Folds, Suzanne Vega, Yes, King Crimson, Thomas Dolby, Gentle Giant, Tom Waits, Jimi Hendrix, Fiona Apple, Dire Straits, Steely Dan, and Queen. The closing track, “The Show Must Go On” was chosen by an internet poll in 2009.

1. Further to Fly 6:15
Paul Simon arranged by Ralph Johnson
solos: Ralph Johnson, Percussion – Sylvain Carton, Saxophone
Ralph picked this. “Besides being a writer of memorable lyrics, Paul Simon has provided vehicles for some of the classic rhythm section performances in the pop/rock/folk universe. I was attracted to the unusual and clever syncopations in ‘Further to Fly,’ and thought it deserved a little more exploration and a longer day in the sun.” ~RVJ

2. Selfless, Cold and Composed 5:58
Ben Folds arranged by Ryan Fraley
solos: Sylvain Carton, Saxophone – Justin Kessler, Piano
Justin picked this. “I love Folds’ ability to juxtapose whimsical musical style with melancholy lyrical content. In ‘Selfless, Cold, and Composed,’ he presents a uniquely forlorn sentiment with an upbeat jazz waltz.” ~JFK

3. Caramel 3:00
Suzanne Vega
arranged by Ryan Fraley
solo: Lyman Medeiros, Bass
Lydia picked this. “One of my all time favorites, Caramel is sexy, yet demure and excruciatingly feminine. I always wanted to perform it but could never think of a way to improve on the original. I love Ryan’s interpretation with the ominous muted trombones and lilting swing.” ~LM

4. Wonderous Stories 4:31
Keith, Ainsley, Anderson (Yes) arranged by Ryan Fraley
background vocals: Jon Anderson
solo: Sylvain Carton, Saxophone
Ryan picked this. “True, this song was written when I was four years old. But I have admired it since I was old enough to pay attention. This is the kind of song writing that makes Yes so attractive to me — the unpredictable harmonic progression; the angular, soaring melody; and the stream-of-consciousness lyrics all meld into a trippy and rich experience.” ~RF

5. Heartbeat 4:05
King Crimson arranged by Ralph Johnson
solo: Henry Koperski, Bassoon
Ralph picked this. “Of all the King Crimson tunes from the Fripp/Belew/Levin/Bruford era, ‘Heartbeat’ is the most emotionally direct and accessible for a wider audience. I like the chords at the cadence points, and the possibilities offered by the rhythms the title implies.” ~RVJ

6. It Will Be a Good Day (The River) 5:09
White, Howe, Squire, Anderson, Sherwood, Khoroshev (Yes)
arranged by Ryan Fraley
vocals: Jon Anderson
solo: Alex Noppe, Flugelhorn
Jon picked this. “All of the performers we’ve gathered here are people I’ve known and admired for years. But what can I say about Jon Anderson? I grew up hearing his unmistakable voice on those iconic Yes albums. We were thrilled when Jon graciously agreed to contribute to this project. I invited him to pick any song from the Yes catalog for us to arrange, in any style. He chose this gem from 1999 and asked for a simple, organic feel. Thanks, Jon, for your spirit and grace.” ~RF

7. The Ability to Swing 4:37
Thomas Dolby, Matthew Seligman [Lost Toy People, Inc.]
arranged by Ralph Johnson
solos: Robert Olivera, Saxophone – Justin Kessler, Piano
Ralph picked this. “I always wondered why this tune didn’t receive more popular exposure — it’s a cool little ditty, with an infectious hook, and an insistent beat, written by one of my favorite mad scientists.” ~RVJ

8. Think of Me with Kindness 5:06
Shulman, Shulman, Shulman, Minnear (Gentle Giant)
[Chrysalis Songs OBO Alucard Pub]
arranged by Ryan Fraley
solos: Neil Broeker, Alto Flute – Alex Noppe, Flugelhorn – Justin Kessler, Piano
Ryan picked this. “…sort of. It was actually a well-placed request from a Gentle Giant fan in Italy. Thanks, Andrea. Gentle Giant is a superb and under-appreciated band.” ~RF

9. Swordfishtrombone 4:14
Tom Waits arranged by Ryan Fraley & Lydia McAdams
solos: Lyman Medeiros, Bass – Ryan Fraley, Trombone – Justin Kessler, Piano
Robert Stright, Vibes
Lydia picked this. “I’m seduced by Tom Waits’ meandering storytelling and his ability to set a scene and mood. But Tom goes beyond just using music and lyrics to tell his tales — he adopts a persona. I borrowed from his genius, intentionally using a different voice with a vintage vibe and letting the story inform my performance.” ~LM

10. Third Stone from the Sun 4:44
Jimi Hendrix arranged by Ralph Johnson
solos: Justin Kessler, Piano – Ryan Fraley, Trombone – Ralph Johnson, Percussion
Ralph picked this. “Before I ever heard the Jimi Hendrix recording, I heard guitarist after guitarist quote this melody line in improvised solos — more than any other tune I can think of — and it always got a smile from the other musicians. I thought I would see if we could get a bigger smile by quoting the whole thing.” ~RVJ

11. Slow Like Honey 5:09
Fiona Apple arranged by Ryan Fraley
solo: Sylvain Carton, Guitar
Lydia picked this. “When I first heard this tune I was struck by its dark beauty and complexity. I immediately wanted to make it my own — add it to my grimoire, so to speak. The voicings are mesmerizing, and the strings and guitar add the perfect texture. I don’t often listen to my own recordings, but this is one that I keep coming back to.” ~LM

12. Your Latest Trick 4:51
Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) arranged by Ryan Fraley
solos: Josh Weirich, Saxophone – Alex Noppe, Trumpet – Shawn Goodman, Clarinet
Justin picked this. “Mark Knopfler is one of those few guitarists who can make me wonder if I picked the right instrument. I grew up with this song and album and even as a child I was attracted to the smoky, bittersweet and angular elements of jazz. The deliciously bleak landscape painted by Knopfler’s lyrics is nicely tempered here in a beautiful arrangement by Ryan Fraley.” ~JFK

13. Dirty Work 3:23
Fagen, Becker (Steely Dan) arranged by Justin Kessler
Justin picked this. “While my original interest in ‘Dirty Work’ was derived from the lyrics, the recognizable hook and surprisingly simple (for Steely Dan) chord progression lent itself well to a solo piano treatment with a darker, more angular reharmonization that I think complements the sentiment of the lyrics.” ~JFK

14. The Show Must Go On 5:18
Mercury, May, Taylor, Deacon (Queen) arranged by Ralph Johnson
solos: Art DeQuasie, Piano – Henry Koperski, Accordion – Ryan Fraley, Trombone & Amplified Trombone
The internet picked this. “We ran a poll online in 2009, shortly after the release of our first album, to select one of the tracks to appear on this album. Here is the far-and-away winner. One of Freddie Mercury’s last songs, and made even more heartbreaking by Ralph’s stunning orchestration.” ~RF

Pamela York – Lay Down This World

Pamela offers the listener an exciting journey with Lay Down This World: Hymns and Spirituals, a beautiful collection of sacred music which precedes the 20th century. Each melody has been reharmonized and reinvented into a modern context. Whether playing the ancient Celtic melody of “Be Thou My Vision,” Martin Luther’s famous Reformation hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” or the moving spiritual, “Deep River,” Pamela creates an atmosphere that is sometimes reflective, sometimes rousing, but always breathtaking. Using her tradition as a jazz pianist she tackles these traditional songs with imagination and conviction, proving her salt as a skilled arranger who can inventively breathe new life into these timeless traditionals.

While other jazz artists may boast similar accomplishments—a degree from the prestigious Berklee College of Music, being a finalist in the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Piano Competition in 2006 and 2007, or winning the Great American Jazz Piano Competition in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2007—few musicians can craft album statements as complete as Pamela. She accurately describes her style as “one foot in the tradition and one in the future.” As a recent Jazzreview.com interview praised, “While playing tunes made famous by some of the legendary masters, Pamela York makes her own statement without being a pretender.” In Pamela, both newcomers and jazz aficionados will discover an exceptional talent whose future is well worth continuing to watch on her journey of ascent. As she tours throughout the United States and Canada hoping to reach new audiences through her music, Pamela York looks forward to sharing her jazzful heart with you at a live performance and through her latest offering, Lay Down This World: Hymns and Spirituals.

Jeremy Manasia – Green Dream

Green Dream is the new release by pianist and educator Jeremy Manasia.  Jeremy said that of his three releases “I truly believe in the integrity of Green Dream”  and that the 12 compositions on the CD were written “out of sincerity, with a love for expressing emotion through sound.”

A native of Staten Island NY, Jeremy began playing piano at the age of 7, after receiving a birthday gift from his godmother for a year of piano lessons. The lessons continued, and in 1985 he was accepted to the LaGuardia HS for Performing Arts. In his second year of high school he was placed in a jazz history course taught by Justin DiCioccio. Being exposed to jazz like this would prove to forever alter his life. Within two years he would perform at Carnegie Hall and Avery Fischer Hall with the NY All City Jazz Band and the McDonalds Tri State Jazz Ensemble, featuring artists such as Red Rodney, Arnie Lawrence, Steve Turre, and bandmates including Greg Hutchinson, Abraham Burton, Walter Blanding and Eric McPherson.

In 1989, Jeremy attended the Manhattan School of Music, where he was introduced to a larger world of music and jazz through his teachers Harold Danko and Gary Dial. During this time he toured with the Ryan Kisor Quintet which featured, among others, Chris Potter, Ari Ambrose, and Dwayne Burno.
After college Jeremy began regularly attending classes with jazz great Barry Harris, who connected him with the Royal Conservatory of Den Haag, where he received his masters degree and studied with Dutch jazz legend Franz Elsan. While in the Netherlands, he toured all over Europe and played on his first recording, the Deep, with the band Five Up High.

In 1997, Jeremy returned to NYC to study more with Chris Anderson and Harry Whitaker. He soon become a regular on the NYC jazz circuit, where he has been ever since. Jeremy has performed with Jimmy Cobb, Peter Bernstein, Javon Jackson, Wayne Esscoffrey, Joe Magnarelli, Nneena Freelon, Diane Schur, and has recorded with the Charles Owens Quartet, the Greg Glassman/Stacy Dillard Quintet, David Gibson, John Boutte, Jane Monheit, and many others.
Jeremy has been a finalist in the Thelonious Monk Competition, the Great American Jazz Piano Competition, and the American Pianists Association Jazz Piano Competition.

Jeremy is on faculty at the Manhattan School of Music, and has won a Presidential Scholars award, numerous Downbeat Student Music awards and three Charles Mingus Competition awards for his teaching.

Ethan Farmer – Wine & Strings

Ethan, aka E-Bassman, is a veteran in the music industry. After picking up his instrument of choice at the age of five, he has become an unstoppable musical force. He started his illustrious career at age eight joining the family band The Amazing Farmer Singers From there, he has then gone on to work with the likes of Janet Jackson, Patti LaBelle, and most recently wrapping up a tour with Lionel Richie. However, Ethan felt it was time for him to express his personal viewpoints through the musical vehicle and  launched his solo career.

The single “Watch” off of Wine & Strings has been climbing its way up the smooth jazz charts. When listening to this single, you’ll find yourself entranced by its pulsating bass slapping overtones. It provides a fresh new sound that any jazz-funk admirer is eager to find. “Watch” has an energetic beat that will leave you wanting more of Ethan’s infectious jazz, funk and soul sound. The EP gave way to Ethan being asked to perform at the upcoming Bash Bash during NAMM at the end of January.

Lisa Kirchner – Umbrellas In Mint

Lisa Kirchner is noted as a singer of remarkable versatility, innately musical, with a beautiful sound. She has covered classic songs across genre in three languages, and is expressive and authentic in each. With Umbrellas In Mint, her sixth album, this elegant singer presents twelve songs to which she has written both music and lyrics, allowing listeners entree into an imaginative landscape of melody and poetry with influences-from The American Songbook, swing, Zydeco, French chansons, roots, Americana, European cabaret, classical lieder and theatre music.

Lisa performs lead and background vocals, and her world class musicians, Xavier Davis, Sherman Irby, Bill Schimmel, Ron Jackson, Vicente Archer and Willie Jones III, are featured in generous solos. Kirchner’s songs, by turns romantic, ironic, or off beat, are understated while filled with imagery
that lifts them to an emotional plane with a surreal twist.

Renée Yoxon & Mark Ferguson – Here We Go Again.

Here We Go Again is a collection of original jazz compositions that explore the timeless themes of love and loss. Yoxon & Ferguson’s songs evoke the old style of the Great American Songbook, infusing them with an updated harmonic sense and contemporary jazz practices.

As Yoxon’s sophomore album, Here We Go Again marks a shift in artistic focus, one with emphasis on original lyrics and composition. Never straying far from her roots in traditional jazz, Yoxon’s new creations will resonate with fans of her first album, Let’s Call it a Day, a collection of jazz standards which received overwhelmingly positive reviews and national radio play.  “After making that recording and more recent opportunities to work with people who were writing their own songs” says Yoxon, “I was really inspired to take the plunge and write my own material.”

Ferguson brings his years of professional experience to the project. One of Ottawa’s busiest musicians with numerous composing, arranging and producing credits to his name, Ferguson gained fresh inspiration from his collaboration with Yoxon. As he explains, “Renée is an exceptionally talented singer as well as a creative songwriter and lyricist. It’s great to be able to write a piece of music and to have my musical thoughts expressed by what Renée writes lyrically.”

Here We Go Again also features Ottawa’s Jeff Asselin on drums, René Gely on guitar, and Craig Pedersen on trumpet, as well as Montreal’s Joel Kerr on bass and Frank Lozano on tenor sax.

Jeanette Harris – Summer Rain

The way Jeanette Harris sees it, summer rain is sensual, an ideal backdrop for love at first sight. Oozing saxuality, she wrote and produced her fourth album, “Summer Rain,” as the soul-jazz soundtrack for romance. To enhance the experience, she created a “Summer Rain” perfume that will be available soon after the record is released April 2nd on J&M Records. A mid-tempo R&B sax and guitar groove, “Just Keep Holding On” will arrive at radio ahead of the storm forecasters expect to generate steadily growing showers of airplay accompanied by warm winds of critical praise.

“Summer Rain” features Harris, who was classically trained on both saxophone and piano, playing alto sax, flute, keyboards and drum programming. She wrote or co-wrote eleven new songs and recorded a moving rendition of Luther Vandross’ classic “Here & Now.” Her rainmakers are producer-songwriter-keyboardist Chuck Cymone, guitarist Darrell Crooks, keyboardists and drum programmers George Freeman and Andrew Dorsette, saxophonist Marcus Anderson, soul croonerJoel Bowers, and Harris’ brother, Michael, who contributed as a producer and songwriting partner. Harris has an amiable relationship with melodies and is capable of crafting compelling cosmopolitan grooves, instantly appealing hooks, sultry, cuddle-up close urban ballads, funky rhythm tracks, throbbing electronic dance floor fillers, and gospel-tinged inspirationals. She sagely lets her sax emote in the service of the song with the horn moving the narrative along free from grandstand theatrics.

“The music of ‘Summer Rain’ is all about a positive vibe. It’s about staying in love – never falling out of love, feeling good, being faithful and always following a positive route. Great things have happened for me in the last year. I’ve learned what’s really important in life – my family and my music,” shared Harris, who already has a dozen concert dates booked this spring to support the album release with more to be added.

As for the “Summer Rain” fragrance, she said, “I’ve been working on this project for a few months and finally came up with a scent that I’m digging. I love perfume and I think people of all ages will enjoy my smooth, sensual perfume, which adds another dimension to the love story.”

Harris spent a year playing in Teena Marie’s band in the final year before the legendary R&B vocalist passed away. She credits her stint with Marie for teaching her how to be “a strong, professional female leader.” The Fresno, CA-born and based musician earned a scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Harris landed on the Billboardcharts with her version of Stevie Wonder’s “All I Do,” which appeared on her third album, “Saxified” (2010). Last year, she co-penned a track, “The Best Is Yet To Come,” with Grammy-winning guitarist Norman Brown for his Grammy-nominated collection of duets, “24/7,” with saxophonist Gerald Albright. On stage, Harris has impressed on U.S. shores and at festivals in Europe and Japan – whether she was backing R&B vocalists Howard Hewett and Deniece Williams or playing her own set opening for BabyfaceKEMPhil PerryKirk WhalumNajee and The Rippingtons. For more information, please visitwww.jeanetteharrisband.com.

Olivia Foschi – Perennial Dreamer

It all started in early January of 2012, when I was casually talking with my dear friend Ulysses about my dream to make a record. I met drummer Ulysses Owens Jr. and saxophone player Stacy Dillard about five years ago, while participating in The Orsara Jazz Masterclass in Italy. At the time, I recall dreaming about the possibility of playing with these guys, but I didn’t realize this was the foundation of a friendship that would later become central in the recording of my debut album.

During that first talk with Ulysses, at a certain moment I felt as though the entire room lit up for me as he said: “Livy, you know I am a producer, right? I’d be honored to do your record.” He had just started working with Christian McBride after his long relationship with Kurt Elling – and there I was, completely blown away by his offer. I had just finished a tune inspired by a night out in the town with Ulysses and a few other friends and decided that song was going to lay the foundation for this record. Funny enough, that tune was never even recorded and the entire album changed direction drastically.

We had several amazing writing sessions with Miki Hayama and Perennial Dreamer started to take shape last spring. Our recording session at Avatar was set for April and I had narrowed down a set list that represented all the material I had been working on. Ulysses managed to get some phenomenal musicians on this project and soon enough it all started to really come together. Among the featured artists, Gregoire Maret graces us with his instrument on two tracks, and I still can’t get over how fun that session was. It was a 12-hour day; vocally and emotionally exhausting, but also one of the most amazing experiences I ever had.

After mixing the first recording session, I was still not entirely convinced about the direction we were taking. So, I took a step back and had yet another meeting with Ulysses. I came to the conclusion that I ultimately had more to say and we both felt as though the record needed a more homogenous sound. I went back to the drawing board in early fall, wrote a few more tunes, and we all headed back to the recording studio on October 8th 2012. That session really completed the record and the new tunes tied in well with the overall desired sound. The tracks we decided to remove from the final track list are now the foundation of a new record with a much edgier sound that should come out next year.

This record is supposed to take you to a comfortable, cozy place. I wrote and arranged a lot of the songs on here and have included some of my favorite standards to even it out. There are also two songs from Italy and one is a folksong in my regional dialect that my brother and I used to sing with my father while growing up. This is one of my favorite songs of all times; it is a declaration of love, traditionally sung by a male singer, that celebrates women while providing a magnificent portrayal of the region of Romagna.

I also put lyrics to a song written by pianist Hiromi that was of great inspiration to my own personal development as a musician. The imagery that inspired the lyric is drawn from an old legend from Vietnam that describes a rock formation that overlooks the ocean. The rock depicts a woman holding a child and waiting in vain for her lover to return; I am celebrating this image as a symbol of strength, self-realization and determination. In my interpretation, Hiromi’s Purple Valley is that sacred place within all of us that already holds all the answers so long as one is willing to listen.

Kick your shoes off and pour yourself a glass of wine. I hope you enjoy this record as much as I enjoyed making it.

– Olivia Foschi

Oscar Utterstrom – Departure

Departure marks Oscar Utterström’s second release as leader. The CD features nine original songs that mix jazz with elements of rock and electronica. Utterström’s original intent was to showcase his Nashville-based quintet: Adam Agati on guitar, Russell Wright on bass, drummer Justin Amaral, and Black Cat Sylvester on turntables, live in the studio.

The live recording was then taken to a higher level of production by co-producers Black Cat Sylvester and Jason Andrews. On several tracks, Oscar plays electric trombone, using guitar pedals and effects, and this combines with the turntables of DJ Black Cat Sylvester to provide a unique approach to the instrument and to horn-driven jazz.

The live recording was then taken to a higher level of production by co-producers Black Cat Sylvester and Jason Andrews. On several tracks, Oscar plays electric trombone, using guitar pedals and effects, and this combines with the turntables of DJ Black Cat Sylvester to provide a unique approach to the instrument and to horn-driven jazz.

The writing on the album mixes Utterström’s Swedish roots with American and world music, resulting in a sound that is unmistakably his own. His songs reflect fundamental and universal aspects of life, including the celebration of birth and the pain of losing loved ones. Songs like Gratitude, Departure (featuring rapper Bobby Exodus), a new version of Eternal Being, and Movin’ On (featuring vocalist Christina Watson) deal with these emotions and shared experiences. Ego shows how the mind’s chatter can be wildly chaotic and humorous at the same time, and it features the brilliant talents of Bobby Exodus and saxophonist Chris West. Snow depicts a harsh reality, whereas Rain reminds us, per Eastern philosophy, how we are all connected. Dr. Hari Haran is featured on vocals and Indian flute.

As a freelance trombonist, Utterström has had the opportunity to perform with acts such as Kelly Clarkson, the Temptations, Wycliffe Gordon, Jeff Coffin, David “Fathead” Newman, Nils Landgren, Kirk Whalum, the Four Tops, Canadian Country superstar Johnny Reid, Diamond Rugs, and My Morning Jacket (Bonnaroo and Madison Square Garden).


Wolff & Clark – Expedition

Pianist Michael Wolff & Drummer Mike Clark have combined their creative forces to launch the Wolff & Clark Expedition. With bassist Chip Jackson, the trio navigates new musical territories to take listeners on a compelling sonic voyage. Michael Wolff has performed and recorded with several jazz legends, including Cal Tjader, Cannonball and Nat Adderley, Nancy Wilson and Sonny Rollins.

Exposed to a mass audience during his stint as bandleader of The Arsenio Hall Show, Michael is an extraordinary player and composer. Drummer Mike Clark has toured the world many times over, appearing with Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, Donald Harrison, Larry Coryell, and more. In both jazz and funk, Mike is recognized as a true innovator on his instrument.

His beats are some of the most sampled in the hip-hop realm. This first self-titled release features Bassist Chip Jackson. The Trio navigates tunes from Adderley to Zawinul, deconstructing and reconstituting each composition in their own compelling manner. No clichés here – just burning, grooving, beguiling inventions.

Drew Davidsen – True Drew

True Drew is an explosion of Drew Davidsen’s love and passion for the guitar. Recorded in TN, LA and NYC with producers Eric Copeland, Preston Glass and Norman Connors, guest artists Bobby Lyle, Ron Tyson, Eric Marienthal, Gerald Veasley, Bob Baldwin and more, this CD has 12 incredible mind-blowing tracks.

  1. My Guitar was inspired by Pat Metheny. This upbeat, driving symphony of guitars with a unique vocal hook takes full advantage of a beautiful 24-fret, solid-body Carvin.
  2. 95 South What is in your GPS? In search of a new sound on my Carvin nylon string, I used a wooden pick given to me as a birthday gift by my friend, Michael Packard. Even when I m headed south, I m feelin Wes.
  3. Hi5 Imagine yourself at a hip LA rooftop party with your favorite drink. Can you hear the songo rhythm?
  4. Double or Nothin’ was co-written with my friend, Preston Glass. The gambling, blues-y title called for intertwining twin guitar harmonies à la Larry Carlton and Robin Ford. I set my Carvin amp on blue.
  5. All Night and Forever is a whole tone melody that resonates clearly through the f holes of my guitar and is a tribute to the great George Benson.
  6. Sweet Spot is another co-write with Preston Glass, featuring stacked saxes, a smooth hook, funky bass and a blistering rock guitar solo.
  7. I’m Into You The idea for this tune came as I imagined Earl Klugh’s guitar with an updated Hall & Oates vibe. Ron Tyson tempts us with his silky vocals.
  8. Do Right was written for me by my friend Eric Copeland, who sent me the concept via a top secret iPhone video. In the studio it was exhilarating to work with guitar tech, Jonathan Crone. He had some really cool pedals to play with. While I have always done scatting in my live shows, this was the tune to “do right.”
  9. I Can’t Help It Collaborating with three other producers has been an exciting process. Each of us contributed important elements to this tune. It started with Preston Glass, a fabulous LA songwriter and producer. His own arrangement of this Michael Jackson tune caught my ear with a cool, high, string line. If we were going to do an MJ tune we knew we had to make it extra GOOD! Covering a great vocal on guitar is audacious in the first place. I wanted to make my guitar sound smooth and mellow but at the same time I needed it to speak. We tracked the live upright bass in LA, latin drums in Nashville, under Eric Copeland’s direction. Norman Connors had the great idea to bring in Bobby Lyle in NYC as the cherry on top.
  10. Change the World As an Eric Clapton and Babyface fan it was my pleasure to make my axe sing the blues with Bobby, Gerald and the guys in NYC.
  11. All Creatures My fans have come to expect that on every album there will be an arrangement of a classic hymn. This time I chose All Creatures of our God and King. I love to go back to music/guitar at its most simple — acoustic on acoustic. I chose to play this in drop D tuning with a 6/8 time signature. Then God delivered the most wonderful guitar tech, Jonathan Crone, to the recording studio. As I began to share my arrangement he graciously agreed to join me and magic happened.
  12. Give Me Your Heart was written by Bobby Lyle. The original version (1992) featured Norman Brown. This tune is a duet between guitar and piano. The solos on this version are intense, long, luscious and beautiful.

John Lester Quartet – Jazz?

The new album sets ten modern rock songs into a late 1950’s jazz context and brings together John’s love for both great contemporary songwriting, and the open improvisation of a jazz quartet.

“Jazz?” was recorded in London at Eastcote Studios, and features John on vocals and double bass, with Theo Travis on saxophone and flute, Steve Lodder on piano, and Davide Giovannini on drums. The album was mixed in New York by Brian Montgomery at Spin Studios and mastered by Randy Merrill at Masterdisk.

After the albums release on October 2nd, John played launch parties in both New York and London, as well as touring Europe. He is now continuing to book shows in NYC. He plays Zinc Bar on February 26th with Tim Bulkley on drums and special guests Joel Frahm on sax and Michael Wolff on piano.

“Jazz?” recently moved into the JazzWeek Top 100 jazz albums, reaching #80, and reached #13 on the Roots Music Report. As 2013 begins, “Jazz?” enters it’s 16th week on the jazz charts.

Marc Antoine – Guitar Destiny

Guitarist Marc Antoine returns to true form with Guitar Destiny, an instrumental journey illustrating Marc’s pursuit of his long and illustrious career. The album’s ten all-new tracks have a strong connection to Marc. He recalls always stopping to watch the trains go in and out of the station, when crossing an old bridge that was close to his old home when he was growing up in Paris.

Little did he know those train tracks would take him around the world in pursuit of an international and successful career. Marc’s magic touch ties it all up in this wonderful voyage through places and musical genres.

Marco Bittelli – Alba

On his second CD, Alba, Marco Bittelli shows his continued commitment to the quality of the music he composes and plays. Whether Latin or swing, acoustic or electric, intense or contemplative, the Italian guitarist is dedicated to originality in his compositions and recordings.

The second CD features the same experienced rhythm section as the first, with drummer Dave Jarvis and bassist Dave Snider. New instrumentalists included piano player Brian Ward, saxophonist and Washington State University chair of the music department Gregory Yasinitsky and trumpet player Vern Sielert, an accomplished performer and professor of trumpet.

As with the first CD, Bittelli chose to record the melodies of his compositions on a variety of instruments, not just his guitar.

“When I compose a song, even before writing down the music, I often hear the instrument that it should play the melody,” Bittelli said. “Sometimes it is a guitar, but sometimes it is a horn. The most important element for me is staying true to the first feelings and atmosphere that inspired the composition.”

Alba was influenced by the diversity of blended rhythms and sounds of South American music.

“The tune Sambando was inspired by the sound of the Samba as played in Brazil with the cavaquinho, a small string instrument of the European guitar family with four strings. It is often played with simple, repetitive melodies with a staccato rhythm, utilizing the guitar more as a percussive instrument rather than a melodic one. ”

“Ritorno (return) is written as a slow Zamba, a popular Argentinean rhythms that incorporate guitars, voices and an Argentinean drum known as bombo which is a double headed drum popular throughout the Andean region. Instead of a voice, often used to sing the Zamba songs, the tenor sax playes a long tone melody with a vocal feel.”

“Barcelona is dedicated to a city I love. Here we blended the sound of a nylon strings guitar, typical of the Spanish guitar style, with the sound of a flugelhorn.”

Jackiem Joyner – Church Boy

Born in Norfolk VA and raised in a single-parent household in Buffalo NY, Jackiem Joyner came through the church choir before taking up the saxophone in high school. After high school Joyner returned to Norfolk. There Bishop Michael Patterson of the World Harvest Outreach Ministries in Newport News made him head of the music department. Joyner not only sharpened his musical and production skills in this capacity, he also had a chance to play for audiences in Nigeria, Sudan and Kenya on a Missions trip in 2002.

“Church Boy stems from my time as a young and eager boy who wanted to play a part in the music ministry. I can remember very well a time when I couldn’t wait until church service was over so I could get a chance to bang on the instruments! One day the pastor of my church told me that I was going to learn an instrument and be very involved in the Gospel ministry. I had no instrumental ex¬perience and had no idea what he was talking about. Church Boy takes me and the audience back to church. Although my previous albums are in the ‘jazz or smooth jazz’ genre, I have always believed that my music comes from God. Every new talent that I acquire, I make it a point to dedicate it to my Father God and Lord Jesus Christ. This album will confirm my place in the music ministry of God.”

Church Boy features a collection of contemporary Gospel songs including Toby Mac’s “City On Our Knees,” Israel & New Breed s “You Are Good” and Kirk Franklin s “Hosanna.” Kirk Whalum joins Jackiem on Kirk Franklin’s “I Smile” and Jonathan Butler plays the lead acoustic guitar on Tye Tribbett’s “Bless The Lord (Son Of Man).”

Jesse Cook – The Blue Guitar Sessions

The mood of The Blue Guitar Sessions is romantic, late night, exotic, hypnotic—another, luxurious side of this guitar master s nouveau flamenco artistry.  This unique live concert experience, recorded at the Rose Theatre outside of Toronto, features stunning visuals, innovative projections.

Viewers will be treated to a mix of Cook s biggest hits, including selections from previous eOne/Koch releases Frontiers and The Rumba Foundation, as well as new music from THE BLUE GUITAR SESSIONS. And then, in January of 2013, Jesse Cook will begin a huge, comprehensive tour of the United States in support of the new album and a second airing of the PBS pledge special.

Terry Callier dies at age 67

At the age of 67, world renowned Jazz-Folk singer Terry Callier passed away October 28th in a Chicago hospital after a long battle with throat cancer.

[utube foo=”dfC3IQ4w_Lk”]Callier was born in the North Side of Chicago, Illinois, and was raised in the Cabrini–Green housing area. He learned piano, was a childhood friend of Curtis Mayfield, Major Lance and Jerry Butler, and began singing in doo-wop groups in his teens. In 1962 he took an audition at Chess Records, where he recorded his debut single, “Look at Me Now”.At the same time as attending college, he then began performing in folk clubs and coffee houses in Chicago, becoming strongly influenced by the music of John Coltrane. He met Samuel Charters of Prestige Records in 1964, and the following year they recorded his debut album. Charters then took the tapes away with him into the Mexican desert, and the album was eventually released in 1968 as The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier. Two of Callier’s songs, “Spin, Spin, Spin” and “It’s About Time”, were recorded by the psychedelic rock band H. P. Lovecraft in 1968, as part of their H. P. Lovecraft II album. H. P. Lovecraft featured fellow Chicago folk club stalwart George Edwards, who would go on to co-produce several tracks for Callier in 1969.

He continued to perform in Chicago, and in 1970 joined the Chicago Songwriters Workshop set up by Jerry Butler. He wrote material for Chess and its subsidiary Cadet label, including The Dells’ 1972 hit “The Love We Had Stays on My Mind”, as a result of which he won his own recording contract with Cadet as a singer-songwriter. Three critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful albums followed, produced by Charles Stepney in a style which critics termed “jazz-folk” – Occasional Rain (1972), What Color Is Love (1973), and I Just Can’t Help Myself (1974). He also toured with George Benson, Gil Scott-Heron and others. However, Callier was then dropped by Cadet, and the Songwriters Workshop closed in 1976. The following year, he signed a new contract with Elektra Records, releasing the albums Fire On Ice (1977) and Turn You to Love (1978). The opening track of the latter album, “Sign Of The Times”, was used as the theme tune of radio DJ Frankie Crocker and became Callier’s only US chart success, reaching # 78 on the R&B chart in 1979 and prompting his appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Callier continued to perform and tour until 1983, when he gained custody of his daughter and retired from music to take classes in computer programming, landing a job at the University of Chicago and returning to college during the evenings to pursue a degree in sociology. He re-emerged from obscurity in the late 1980s, when British DJs discovered his old recordings and began to play his songs in clubs. Acid Jazz Records head Eddie Piller reissued a little-known Callier recording from 1983, “I Don’t Want to See Myself (Without You)”, and brought him to play clubs in Britain. From 1991 he began to make regular trips to play gigs during his vacation time from work.

In 1994 Urban Species released their debut album Listen, the title track containing a sample of the bass line and guitar riff from Callier’s 1973 recording “You Goin’ Miss Your Candyman”. In the late 1990s Callier began his comeback to recorded music, collaborating with Urban Species on their 1997 EP Religion and Politics and contributed to Beth Orton’s Best Bit EP in 1997 before releasing the album Timepeace in 1998, which won the United Nations’ Time For Peace award for outstanding artistic achievement contributing to world peace. His colleagues at the University of Chicago did not know of Callier’s life as a musician, but after the award the news of his work as a musician became widely known and subsequently led to his dismissal by the University.

As well as touring internationally, Callier continued his recording career, releasing five albums after Timepeace, including Lifetime (1999), Alive (2001), Speak Your Peace (2002) and Lookin’ Out (2004). May 2009 saw his album Hidden Conversations featuring Massive Attack released on Mr Bongo records. In 2001, Callier performed “Satin Doll” for the Red Hot Organization’s compilation album Red Hot + Indigo, a tribute to Duke Ellington, which raised money for various charities devoted to increasing AIDS awareness and fighting the disease.

He died on October 28, 2012, after a long illness.

Hulon – After Hours

[utube foo=”SMjuijEfals”]The urban jazz styling of Hulon has returned with his newest album, After Hours, featuring a vocal and instrumental version of the 1977 Heatwave classic “Always and Forever” and eight originals penned by Kashiwa that play to Hulon’s strengths as a soulful balladeer and a grooving R&B/funk player, with a few dashes of cool and swinging traditional jazz in the mix. Highlights include the sensual late night romance “You’re Beautiful,” the whimsical mid tempo light funk tune “Takin’ My Time,” the tropical chill of “Sticky Trickuation,” the sly, Pink Panther-esque “Speak Easy” (featuring shuffling drum, bass and finger snap rhythm) and the high octane horn-driven jam and first single from the new release, “Do You Feel Me.”

Hulon has collaborated once again with mentor, composer, producer and fellow saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa. World renowned for his years with The Rippingtons, The Sax Pack and numerous hit solo albums over the past 20 years, Kashiwa again brought in some of contemporary jazz’s most powerful and dynamic players to take Hulon’s musical game on the new collection to the next level including Dave Hooper (drums), Allen Hinds (guitar), Melvin Davis (bass) and Bill Heller (keyboards) all of whom have played key roles on First Impressions.

Yet there’s lot more to Hulon’s dynamic emergence onto the urban jazz scene than simple chart stats and the support of some of the genre’s best players. At its heart, it’s the story of a musical dream long deferred and unique connections between the spiritual and emotional healing power of music and the physical healing that Dr. Hulon E. Crayton does as a rheumatologist and founder of The Arthritis and Infusion Center, which specializes in the treatment of Rheumatological diseases as well as sports related injuries. The title of one of the tracks on After Hours, the tropical flavored groove tune, “Second Opinion” is a playful ode to his longtime profession.

Quincy Jones / Ray Brown Orchestra – Music from The Adventures Soundtrack

Music from The Adventurers is Quincy Jones and The Ray Brown Orchestra’s re-working of the Antonio Carlos Jobim soundtrack to the trashy 1970 Howard Robbins film The Adventures.

This very rare classic funk album was also recorded in 1970, and features Tom Scott and Deodato, who lay down some great funk backing in a larger-than-life big band style. The album swings between big band jazz, out-and-out funk and easy listening.

This album is a lost funk classic and a favorite of DJs.

Track List:
1. Polo Pony
2. Go Down Dying
3. El Lobo’s March
4. Wishful Thinking
5. Gentle Lover
6. Coming And Going
7. Fat Cat Strut
8. Children’s Games
9. Love Theme From “The Adventurers”

Art Pepper – Neon Art: Volume 1

From his early recordings with Stan Kenton’s and Shorty Rogers’ bands and sessions with everyone from Chet Baker, Henry Mancini and Quincy Jones, to his own recordings, Art Pepper built a legacy of recordings that can only be described as legendary.

Neon Art is a series of live recordings on colored vinyl, complete with download cards, and is aimed at both the longtime Art Pepper aficionado and those just coming to know Art’s work. Volume One features two songs drawn from unissued performances at Parnell’s in Seattle, WA, recorded on January 28, 1981, and has been released on red vinyl.

Fred Hersch Trio – Alive At The Vanguard

A new piano trio recording by five-time Grammy nominee Fred Hersch offers the rare opportunity to recalibrate expectations about the most fundamental of all jazz settings. Captured in the heat of creative ferment at the Village Vanguard, the sanctified venue that has long served as the pianist’s second home.

Hersch’s trio with bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson displays all the rhythmic daring, preternatural interplay, harmonic sophistication and passionate lyricism that makes it one of the era’s definitive ensembles.

The double album features a diverse array of seven scintillating new Hersch originals, four American Songbook gems, and seven classic jazz tunes.

Four80East – Off Duty

Off Duty is the sixth release from the Toronto-based acid-jazz group, Four80East. Don’t let the title of their latest album fool you – after over 20 years, veteran composers and remix producers Tony Grace and Rob DeBoer are busier than ever, finding colorful melodic and grooving new twists on their trademark Nu Jazz vibe.

Four80East is kickin’ back and chillin’ this time around with a fresh update on the classic acid jazz influence that drove their earlier recordings. Some of those unique sounds this time come from the duo’s spirited interactions with flutist Bill McBirnie and longtime Four80East contributors Jon Stewart and Bryden Baird

Nicholas Cole – Endless Possibilities

As the title suggests there are endless possibilities for this explosive young artist and heads will turn and jaws drop when it is realized that he is just 18 years old and wrote and produced all of the material on this his debut for the new Trippin ‘N’ Rhythm Records sub label CutMore Records.

Endless Possibilities will open the door and help to usher in the next generation of stars to lift contemporary instrumental music from its stagnant background status and help to move it again to the foreground.

Assists from some of the genres finest players; Steve Cole, Steve Oliver, Tim Bowman and a cameo from young bassist Julian Vaughn.

Tia Fuller – Angelic Warrior

Tia Fuller’s third Mack Avenue Records release, Angelic Warrior, showcases her continuing evolution as instrumentalist, composer and bandleader. Along with Tia’s stellar band,Angelic Warrior includes some very special guest artists.

Three-time Grammy winner for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Dianne Reeves lends her talents on the beautiful ‘Body and Soul.’ Grammy-winning bassist, composer and producer John Patitucci is featured on several songs – as is renowned jazz drummer, composer and 2012 Grammy winner for Best Jazz Vocal Album, Terri Lyne Carrington.

Luciana Souza – Duos III

[utube foo=”aJpRDiwa0NQ”]Luciana Souza is the natural heir to the Brazilian jazz tradition. The native Brazilian has been at the forefront of jazz vocal scene for many years and her knowledge of the Brazilian bossa nova and samba hark back to her father’s record label that he ran during her youth.

Duos III marks the return of Souza to the Sunnyside label where she began her career with a pair of wonderful albums called Brazilian Duos and Brazilian Duos II. On these Duos recordings, Souza strips these gems of the Brazilian canon to their most bare and expressive essentials.

Quincy Jones-Sammy Nestico Orchestra – Basie and Beyond

Some Count Basie fans might consider the title slightly misleading; although one of the two principals is arranger/composer Sammy Nestico, who was to Basie what Billy Strayhorn was to Duke Ellington, the only truly Basie-related track is a new version of “For Lena and Lennie,” which Quincy Jones wrote for the Count back in the ’60s.

The rest of the album alternates between classic Nestico tunes and resurrected oldies from Jones’s ’50s and ’60s jazz days. The 27-piece big band is an all-star date, mostly featuring West Coast jazzers and session men a generation or two after Basie’s, including flautist Hubert Laws, percussionist Paulinho da Costa, tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts and Charlie Christian-like electric guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr.

The set list is heavy on Nestico’s ballads, and the laid-back arrangements, laden with woodwinds and vibes, tend to glide more often than they swing, but BASIE AND BEYOND is a nice self-tribute to Jones’s and Nestico’s abilities.

Personnel includes: Ernie Watts (saxophone, woodwinds); Kirk Whalum (saxophone); Jerry Hey, Oscar Brashear, Warren Luening (trumpet); Bill Watrous, George Bohannon (trombone); Hubert Laws (flute); Randy Kerber (piano); Greg Phillinganes (electric piano); Paul Jackson, Jr. (guitar); Neil Stubenhaus (electric bass); Vinnie Colaiuta (drums); Paulinho Da Costa (percussion).

Producers: Quincy Jones, Sammy Nestico, Jerry Hey.

Composers: Jeremy Lubbock; Quincy Jones; Sammy Nestico.

Tributee: Count Basie.

Personnel: Paul Jackson, Jr. (electric guitar); Dan Higgins, Ernie Watts, Gary Foster, Gerald Albright, Jack Nimitz, Pete Christlieb (woodwinds, saxophone); Gary Grant, Jerry Hey, Oscar Brashear, Rick Baptist, Warren Luening, Wayne Bergeron (trumpet); Jerry Folsom, Greg Williams , Brad Warnaar (French horn); George Bohannon, Bill Reichenbach , Reggie Young , Charlie Loper, Bill Watrous (trombone); Tommy Johnson (tuba); Randy Kerber (piano); Greg Phillinganes (electric piano); Emil Richards (vibraphone, percussion); Vinnie Colaiuta (drums).

Audio Mixers: Bill Smith ; Steve Genewick; Tommy Vicari.

Liner Note Authors: Quincy Jones; Sammy Nestico.

Recording information: Capitol Studios A And C, Hollywood, CA; NRG Recording, North Hollywood, CA.

Arrangers: Quincy Jones; Sammy Nestico.

Melvin Jones – Pivot

[utube foo=”0yRz07uLTDE”]The debut solo CD from Melvin Jones is a culmination of many years of performing with numerous greats in the jazz industry. ‘Pivot’ showcases Jones’ simmering style and his technical facility through original compositions that will captivate both newer listeners and long-standing fans.

“Pivot” is Jones’ first recording as a band leader, and nearly all of its compositions are original and self-written.

Says Jones, “The concept of ‘Pivot’ reflects my multidirectional experiences, and also the artists’ ability to perform diverse styles at one time. I am thrilled to have brought together for this album some of my favorite musicians who represent such a broad spectrum of creative talent. My fans can expect the jazz on ‘Pivot’ to include grooves of many different genres played by some of the premier performers in the industry.”

The Band: Melvin Jones (Trumpet & Flugelhorn), Mace Hibbard (Alto & Tenor Saxophones), Louis Heriveaux (Piano), Rodney Jordan (Acoustic Bass), Leon Anderson (Drums)

Special Guests: Michael Burton (Alto & Tenor Saxophones), Jeff Bradshaw (Trombone), Brian Hogans (Piano & Fender Rhodes), Terreon Gully (Drum), ‘Lil’ John Roberts (Drums)

Nicole Henry – Embraceable

A slight departure from her prior recordings, Embraceable continues to establish Nicole as a peerless interpreter of jazz and pop standards, transcending genre boundaries. Her heartfelt vocals are matched with a stellar musical cast that includes saxophonist Kirk Whalum, pianist Gerald Clayton, guitarist Julian Lage, harmonica virtuoso Gregoire Maret, and Grammy-winning arranger Gil Goldstein. Helmed by Grammy-nominated producer Matt Pierson, Embraceable reached top 20 on jazz and smooth jazz radio charts.

Growing up in a musical family in Bucks County, PA, Nicole immersed herself in the arts early on, singing in school and church, and studying cello and ballet. After graduating from the University of Miami with a degree in Communications and Theatre, Nicole launched a successful acting career, appearing in commercial roles as well as a series of voiceover assignments. But she directed her strongest passion toward the development of her full-time singing career which was quickly rewarded in her present hometown, when the Miami New Times named Nicole “Best Solo Musician 2002.” She continues to be a winner on every stage she graces.

Carmen Lundy – Changes

[utube foo=”KDcYvy349Xg”]The best analysis for Carmen Lundy’s music is that which the title and lyrics of her songs themselves furnish when we listen closely. The award-winning vocalist/composer/arranger may also be called a romantic especially since her present offering titled Changes is a masterpiece of melodic simplicity and emotional expressions. However these elements (melodic simplicity and emotional expressions) do not prevent Ms. Lundy from making it clear that she is a truly remarkable jazz singer who can deliver a song with vivid colors, mosiac-like textures and swing with the best of today’s jazz musicians or sing an intimate ballad while still focusing her romantic imagination.

From the opening retro stylings of “The Night Is Young” to the profound tenderness of the last sentence of “Where Love Surrounds Us,” Carmen Lundy keeps you mesmerized. The set consists of 9 inspired songs either written or co-written by Carmen Lundy with the exception of “A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square.” Ms. Lundy sings, plays the harp, and also wrote the string and horn arrangements. Joined by her ensemble of Anthony Wonsey on piano and Fender Rhodes, Kenny Davis on acoustic and electric basses, Jamison Ross on drums and percussion, guest artist Oscar Castro-Neves on guitar, Nolan Shaheed on trumpet and flugelhorn and George Bohannon on trombone – all play equally well and compliment Ms. Lundy with the highest quality of their musicality.

Her multi-octave vocals are beautiful, convincing and faithfully illustrated with no unnecessary riffing or vocal gymnastics. Overall, all of the songs are sung superlatively and with Changes, Ms. Lundy tops the high standards set on her previously released recordings.


Marco Benevento – TigerFace

[utube foo=”zoydbsaKFb0″]Marco Benevento sets forth a vision for instrumental music that connects the dots between Explosions In The Sky and Tortoise on one side, Brian Eno and Brad Mehldau on the other. On his fourth album TigerFace, Benevento takes the next step forward in this evolution. He paints his songs in sonic colors, shimmering with acoustic piano, synths and analog keyboards.

The album was recorded by Tom Biller (Fiona Apple) and Bryce Goggin (Pavement) along with a stellar cast of musicians, including Matt Chamberlain (Bill Frisell), John McEntire (Tortoise), Andrew Barr (The Barr Brothers), Dave Dreiwitz (Ween), Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green), Mike Gordon (Phish) and Stuart Bogie (Antibalas).

Nanette Natal – Sweet Summer Blues

[utube foo=”HCEufdxvkW4″]”Sweet Summer Blue” is a collection of mostly original songs, which celebrate American musical traditions from Blues to Country to Bebop. It is an “Americana” tour: an amalgam of roots musics formed by the confluence of the shared and varied traditions that make up the American musical ethos; specifically those sounds that are merged from folk, country and blues.

Mace Hibbard – Time Gone By

[utube foo=”gx12D5a9eBQ”]Grammy award winning saxophonist, arranger and composer Mace Hibbard, backed by his long time ensemble, is proud to release his latest endeavor, Time Gone By. Time Gone By is a full throttle voyage firmly respectful of the traditions of jazz, but absolutely cognoscente of modern jazz idioms.

Time Gone By features pianist and composer Louis Heriveaux, bassist Marc Miller, drummer Justin Varnes, trumpeter Melvin Jones and of course the incomparable, Mace Hibbard on saxophone.

Al Jarreau and The Metropole Orkest Live

Making the old new again is what Jarreau has been doing with music since his childhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Born in 1940, he sang his first songs in his church choir (his father was a vicar). Although armed with a degree in psychology and some early career experience in social work, he made a dramatic career change when he moved to Los Angeles and began singing in small clubs along the West Coast.

Although he recorded an album in the mid ‘60s, he didn’t make his first significant mark on the music scene until the release of We Got By in 1975. Early praise from the critics translated to commercial success in 1981 with the release of Breakin’ Away, the 1981 album that generated the hit single, “We’re In This Love Together.” He made a huge and recurring splash in American living rooms a few years later when he recorded the theme music to Moonlighting, the hit TV series that ran through the latter half of the 1980s and continues in syndication to this day.

Jarreau enjoyed moderate success in the following decade with albums like Heaven and Earth (1992) and Tenderness (1994), then got a boost in 1998 when he reunited with producer Tommy LiPuma, with whom he’d recorded We Got By more than a decade earlier. The Jarreau/LiPuma partnership resulted in a string of successful albums, including Tomorrow Today (2000), All I Got (2002) and Accentuate the Positive (2004). Givin’ It Up, his 2006 collaboration with George Benson, resulted in two Grammy Awards.

For all of Jarreau’s studio successes over the decades, Al Jarreau and the Metropole Orkest – Live offers recorded proof that he’s still a master in front of a live audience as the frontman to a fully staffed orchestra.

Jacqui Naylor – Lucky Girl

Vocalist Jacqui Naylor has some dreams worth chasing though they’ve taken a while to catch. Why? Her latest release titled Lucky Girl is a project that Naylor’s fans had the honor to vote on and select the songs that would be included on the recording. The result is the 15-track disc that includes nine-original Naylor compositions and finds her deep in six fresh covers of such songs as The Indigo Girl’s inspired “Dreamin’ Prayin’ Wishin’,” “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” the Gamble/Huff hit made famous by Teddy Pendergrass titled “Close The Door,” and Wes Montgomery’s infused “Sunshine and Rain.”

However, of all the songs included on this recording, her priceless renditions of Roger & Hammerstein’s “Surrey With The Fringe On Top” that she artfully arranged over George Benson’s hit titled “Breezin’,” and her funked-up, Prince-styled, arrangement of “Angel Eyes,” really stand out. Naylor’s seamless arrangements blends so well that you hardly remember the song’s original music. Jacqui Naylor has a great voice that captures multiple ranges, but it’s the alto essence of her beautiful arrangements that can be experienced on “Since I Love You,” “Moon River,” and “Close The Door,” that captivates the listener and makes her a stand-out among her peers.


Acoustic Alchemy – Roseland

[utube foo=”2Hl4ugPXfYA”]Acoustic Alchemy’s latest recording Roseland is a great step in a new direction. First, Roseland is released on their newly formed Onside Records recording label and has been exclusively licensed to Concord Music Group/Heads Up International. Second, it was recorded in England, UK at Miles Gilderdale’s newly built studio in York called 9 Miles High. But most of all, the 13 songs recorded for Roseland are individual gems that any listener is sure to enjoy be they rock, jazz, country or reggae music fans.

The program is eclectic and yet cohesive and features the stellar writing of Greg Carmichael and Miles Gilderdale on all 13 songs. Joined by their touring band – keyboardist Fred White, bassists Gary Grainger and Julian Crampton, and drummer Greg Grainger, and several great guest musicians, both Miles and Greg exercise lots of non-acoustic playing on such great songs as “The Ebor Sound System” which is ripe with reggae groves and synthesized guitar sounds, “Swamp Top” which features a variax for more texture, plus “Roseland” and “Stealing Hearts” which features Gilderdale’s steel acoustic guitar for a full-on country sound.

“Right Place-Wrong Time” is one for straight-ahead jazz fans and offers some great fretwork and odd-time signatures and changes. Overall, Roseland takes listeners on a musical journey through several different styles and is a CD that deserves to be in your collection. Highly recommended.


Christian McBride – The Good Feeling

The Good Feeling is Christian McBride’s big band debut project for Mack Avenue Records and it’s a keeper. The programming is as well mixed as a great martini and includes tasteful renditions of three great songs sung by Christian’s wife, vocalist Melissa Walker. Theirs is a revelatory collaboration that refines her sultry take on “When I Fall In Love,” hits its maker’s mark on “The More I See You,” and feels just as heartfelt as the original rendition of “A Taste of Honey.” This exceptional recording also features McBride’s re-arrangements of previously released songs including “Brother Mister,” (from Kind of Brown) “The Shade of the Cedar Tree,” “In A Hurry,” (from Getting’ To It) and “Science Fiction” (from Sci-Fi) as well as evolved readings of “Broadway,” and “I Should Care.”

McBride gets straight down to business on “Shake and Blake,” a song written for long-time band mate/collaborator saxophonist Ron Blake. With a limitless variety of high and low brass soloing, the listener can immediately hear the sense of sustained momentum and immaculate execution of McBride’s arrangements. He takes a bass solo that is followed by a full orchestral tutti that will have you swinging to the beat and before you realize it, you’re languishing to another great solo on “Broadway.” This song conjures up the great Duke Ellington and like Ellington, McBride is a can-do musician who is driven by the urge to not just perform music but to create the contexts in which the experience of listening to it is most powerful.

“Bluesin’ In Alphabet City,” focuses mostly on McBride’s detailed explorations commissioned for the Jazz At Lincoln Center series back in 1995. As then, it still contains every color, timbre, and nuance that exists in the blues and features stellar trumpet solos and McBride’s exemplary bass soloing. Overall, you’ll be quite blown away by the end of this program which is 70 minutes of some of the best big band music of this century. This music will leave you with The Good Feeling.


Lisa Hinton – American Impressions

Lisa Hilton’s 14th album as a leader features band members J.D. Allen on tenor saxophone, Larry Grenadier on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums. The pianist/composer/producer focuses on impressions of everyday life in America in 10 songs she has written for this project. The ensemble also performs great cover s of Duke Ellington’s classic “Echoes of Harlem,” and Joni Mitchell’s “Rainy Night House.” Hilton uses her exemplary pianism and soloing from her bandmates to change the moods in these compositions. For example, “Too Hot” opens with her prominent melodic phrases before J.D. Allen’s raises the temperature with his scorching and sensual tenor saxophone phrases.

Their harmonic and rhythmic language is more complex and richer on “Anatomy of the Blues,” in which bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Nasheet Waits lay down a carpet of rhythm for Allen and Hilton who express the main musical landmarks in the piece with exceptional skill. Lisa Hilton’s depiction of raindrops in “When It Rains” is simply beautiful. She captures the lightness of quickly falling drops with nimble trills that imitate the falling rain. By contrast, the technique she uses to reveal the hurried feeling of passengers making their way to the “Subway” explains why Lisa Hilton’s fans are blown away by her virtuosity.

Overall, the various moods and impressions are all presented with impeccable clarity that you are sure to enjoy. American Impressions is a valuable offering filled with great ideas and exemplary instrumental performances by musicians who show a mastery of their special characteristics and techniques.


Arturo Sandoval – Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You)

Arturo Sandoval pays tribute to Dizzy Gillespie in a big way! His dedication to one of jazz’s greatest innovators is the result of stellar collaborations with some of today’s most in-demand musicians. All show their depth of gratitude on this 11-track masterwork that includes many of Gillespie’s prized songs re-imagined with state-of-the-art technology. Sandoval invited several top notch musicians including Latin GRAMMY Producer of the Year Gregg Field who also performs as a guest drummer; the great vibraphonist Gary Burton, Yellowjackets’ saxophonist Bob Mintzer, organist Joey DeFrancesco, clarinetist Eddie Daniels, actor Andy Garcia on percussion and vocalist Manolo Giminez.

On the opening track, we hear Dizzy Gillespie’s voice introducing a young Arturo Sandoval as “one of the young grand masters of the trumpet” during a live performance in the late 1980s. “Bebop” follows dressed in a new arrangement by GRAMMY winner Gordon Goodwin. This classic from Gillespie’s songbook is performed by the entire big band and it’s a real gem. Goodwin also arranged “Salt Peanuts!” and gave it new fire.

Other great songs include “Birks Works” arranged by Shelly Berg and features Plas Johnson on saxophone. Brand new is the classical string quartet arrangement of “Con Alma” by GRAMMY winner Nan Schwartz. The song is elegant, tasteful and even more beautiful. Overall, the entire recording is a first-rate tribute to Dizzy Gillespie by a first-rate trumpeter named Arturo Sandoval.


Peter White – Here We Go

[utube foo=”wOfjhyCbna8″]Guitarist Peter White teams up with GRAMMY winning saxophonists David Sanborn and Kirk Whalum on his 13th recording. Here We Go offers listeners an eclectic mix of songs that reflect White’s virtuosity as a guitarist, songwriter and collaborator. White also pays homage to several places and people including David Sanborn, Bob Marley, the late Princess Diana, and the beautiful country of Costa Rica.

The creativity and the energy flowing from DC, Philippe Saisse on keyboards, his guest saxophonists and his amazing ensembles form a winning sound as these musicians work together to produce and convey a joyous, diverse recording. The set opens with “Night After Night” an upbeat tune that captures the moods of what listeners can expect from the program. White follows with the powerful ballad, “Time Never Sleeps” a song co-written with Philippe Saisse.

“Here We Go,” features David Sanborn’s exciting chops and was written with him in mind, while “My Lucky Day” pays homage to Bob Marley and “Requiem For A Princess” which White says “may be the saddest song I have ever written” is dedicated to the late Princess Diana. “Desert Night” and “Costa Rica” are built on Latin rhythms with the latter featuring Roman Yslas on congas and timbales. Overall, each song has a special story and Peter White’s impeccable guitar sensibilities make Here We Go even more special.


Sean O’Bryan Smith – Reflection

Sean O’Bryan Smith’s latest release called Reflection is a spirited collection of hymns and worship tunes that are rooted in soul music. The acclaimed bass player recruited such great musicians as Randy Brecker, Chuck Loeb, Gerald Albright, Frank Catalano, Jack Pearson (The Allman Brothers), Jeff Franzel (Taylor Swift, *NSYNC, Clay Aiken), vocalist Lisa Hearns and actor-musician-spoken word artist Malcolm Jamal-Warner to join him on 12-traditional and original compositions that will surely comfort and inspire you. Smith’s offers a powerful funk rendition of “How Great Thou Art” as the opener while “Blessed Assurance” becomes a soul tune that would be at home on adult contemporary radio.

Chuck Loeb’s spirited guitar stands out on “Blessed Be Your Name,” the first single serviced to radio. Jeff Franzel’s original, “Me Without You,” features Lisa Hearns accompanied by piano and six-string bass. “Called” gives voice to Albright’s reassuring sax on the invigorating contemporary jazz affirmation while Randy Brecker’s prayerful trumpet provides a personal declaration on the melodically meditative “Give Me Jesus.” Smith becomes the “bass prophet” and presides at the pulpit to deliver a rousing sermon as a celestial choir bears witness on the gospel classic “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.” Smith also composed the music for the title track, “Reflection.”

It is a powerful and contemplative bass, B3 organ and spoken word piece that closes the collection. His probing bass invites a soul-searching journey, an honest introspective rumination on self-love and surrendering to faith.


Noel Webb – Journey With Me

When you hear Noel Webb, you’re hearing the sound of his soulful, passionate electric violin developed and fused over sizzling textures of hard rock, contemporary jazz, urban spoken word, classical and techno music. In other words, Noel Webb has something to say and it’s clear from his multi-dimensional body of work on Journey With Me. This exciting musical journey is first class and features Noel rocking out on five extended tracks that will keep you mesmerized. Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” is explosive and receives the honor as the CD’s second track.

Noel Webb arranged this iconic track and plays electric violin, strings and percussion alongside Brian Price on guitar, Patrice Jonz on bass, Alzie Ramsey on synths, and Eric McKain on percussion. Webb rocks you back to the path when his violin became his main axe of choice and you might not be able to drag your friends away from this highly charged track. “You Really Need To Grow” is a hybrid of spoken words pumped up with hip hop and rock riffs. Noel co-wrote this song with Marcello de Francisci who also plays acoustic guitar, percussion and strings while Webb’s vocals capture the gut-level momentum that is propelled by the meaty bass sounds of Patrice Jonz and the electric guitar of Brian Price.

“Come Close, I Will Hold You” is yet another great song which spotlights Webb’s amazing talents. Co-arranged with Dennis Moody, this love song is beautiful and digs deep into an intimate realm of Webb’s compositional integrity. The title track is appropriately titled since it encompasses the broad-minded harmony at the CD’s core. Overall, Noel Webb and his band navigate Journey With Me with deeply felt solos and exciting musicality.


Marcus Miller – Renaissance

[utube foo=”22ziBLBZIZ4″]Marcus Miller has figured out a better way to offer his fans great music. For years he has been ahead of his generational pack of bass players/songwriters but with his new offering titled Renaissance, Marcus Miller has truly entered a new era of musical innovation. Renaissance features Miller’s new band which consists of trumpeters Sean Jones and Maurice Brown, alto saxophonist Alex Han, drummer Louis Cato, guitarists Adam Agati and Adam Rogers, and keyboardist Kris Bowers along with veteran keys wizards Federico Gonzalez Pena and Bobby Sparks.

The 13-song collection includes eight original compositions, a tip of Miller’s trademark porkpie hat to the CTI Records sound of the 70s, and five re-defined works originally released by War, Janelle Monae, The Jackson 5 and Weldon Irvine. Special guests vocalists Dr. John, Ruben Blades and Gretchen Parlato round out the program. Opening with “Detroit,” Miller’s funky bass is front and center and sets the tone for a funky good time. His virtuosity leaves his fans no alternative but to keep listening to the entertaining and innovative sounds coming from his bass guitar. His solo on “Cee-Tee-Eye” is awesome and is yet another display of what a master bass player can do when they are honestly inspired. Ivan Lins’ “Setembro” (which you may remember from Quincy Jones’ version recorded for Back On The Block) is updated by a new arrangement that is sure to captivate you.

This song features Miller on fretless bass trading lines with vocalist Gretchen Parlato and the addition of an Afro Cuban section that features Ruben Blades. Great song. While “excellent” is an understatement as a description of the entire album, Marcus Miller’s stirring composition called “Gorée (Go-ray)” is particularly moving because of the story behind the song. Gorée came to be after Marcus and his bandmates visited this African island that served as a holding cell for innocent people bound for slavery in other countries. Miller’s emotional bass clarinet sounds capture the feelings emanated from this place with remarkable clarity and genuine knowledge. Alex Han’s saxophone solo is absolutely brilliant and gives the listener a sense of the confusion and pain that may have existed there. Overall, Renaissance is another masterpiece from the musical mind of Marcus Miller.


David Benoit – Conversation

Pianist/composer/producer David Benoit seems to be able to master any genre of music be it Jazz, Classical, Pop, Latin, World or musical scores for film and television. On his latest inspired offering titled Conversation, Benoit has a lot to say as he performs with an exciting cadre of musicians who hail from a broad spectrum of musical styles and backgrounds.

In addition to his stellar performances on “Napa Crossroads Overture” (which he co-wrote with David Pack) and “Diary of A Wimpy Kid” (from the movie of the same name), he shares his amazing versatility on 7 of his original compositions. Several guest artists including the Asia-America Youth Orchestra, electric guitarist Jeff Golub, acoustic guitarist Pat Kelley, guitarist David Pack, flutist Tim Weisberg, and classical pianist Robert Theis make valuable contributions to David’s musical repertoire and keep you interested.

Among the great highlights – and there are many – is Benoit’s beautiful “Kei’s Song Redux” after the song called “Kei’s Song.” He wrote the original not long after he and Kei were married and the update features some great solo guitar work from Pat Kelley as well as his own great pianism. This is an amazing track. “Q’s Motif” is based on a boogie woogie motif written by Quincy Jones. Here Benoit plays synthesizer and gives his fans another side of his musical personality. The title track closes the program.

This composition is the third and last movement in a suite titled Music for Two Trios and features a classical trio comprised of pianist Robert Theis, violinist Yun Tang, and cellist Cathy Biagini. This awesome work also features great soloing from Jeff Golub and David Benoit. Overall, Conversation is among David Benoit’s greatest performances.


Cynthia Felton – Freedom Jazz Dance

Dr. Cynthia Felton’s Freedom Jazz Dance features a collection of standards that the award-winning vocalist ‘loves to sing.’ The 12-track collection also features a galaxy of 19 jazz greats who accompany her on this multi-faceted recording. Among those musicians are pianists Cyrus Chestnut, John Beasley, Patrice Rushen and Donald Brown; bassists Ryan Cross, Robert Hurst; drummers Terri Lyne Carrington and Lorca Hart; Wallace Roney on trumpet; Munyoungo Jackson on percussion and many more.

Lyrics have been added to such favorite instrumentals as “Take 5,” “Cherokee,” and of course, “Freedom Jazz Dance.” Dr. Felton’s multi-octave voice brings a new dimension to these time-tested gems and her fans are sure to enjoy how she makes each song new again with exciting scats, elongated phrasing and her passionate readings. The distinctive selection of blues, jazz and gospel composition makes this recording highly versatile and should bring more attention to the artistic integrity of Dr. Cynthia Felton as a vocalist and producer of high-quality recordings.


The Cookers – Believe

[utube foo=”CghKMuU0hTU”]When you were young and your heart was like an open book, you used to say, live and let live! Well now that you’re more experienced, you’ll certainly enjoy The Cookers, a super-septet of legendary jazz musicians who’ve lived and let live. Their newest release for Motema called Believe, is a staunch reminder of the collective talents of five of its members –tenor saxophonist Billy Harper, trumpeter Eddie Henderson, pianist George Cables, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Billy Hart.

These five have performed with such great jazz musicians as Lee Morgan, Max Roach, Art Blakey, Herbie Hancock, Dexter Gordon, Art Pepper and Charles Lloyd and together, they are the perfect combination for the septet’s innovative founder/ trumpeter David Weiss and exceptionally talented alto saxophonist Craig Handy. Harper, Cables, McBee and Hart composed all of the songs with the exception of “Free For All” which was composed by Wayne Shorter.

The set opens with the “Believe, For It’s True,” a track from Harper’s 1980 album The Believer. The daring solos emanating from Harper’s tenor saxophone and Weiss’ trumpet form the basis for this great composition that keeps you interested from the first note to the last. The adventurous explorations continue on McBees’ beautiful ballad called “Temptation(s),” which segues into “Ebony Moonbeams,” another beautiful gem written by George Cables.

The Cookers heat things up with Wayne Shorter’s “Free For All,” arranged by Weiss and on which five great solos take this set to another level. Listeners will certainly appreciate the daring improvisations that definite say something about the top-to-bottom command of their instruments. This set really cooks! Overall, this recording is an explosive set of post-bop originals that will make you Believe in The Cookers!


Veronneau – Jazz Samba Project

Veronneau’s highly anticipated follow-up to their first album Joie de Vivre has arrived! Jazz Samba Project was inspired by the bossa nova music of Brazil paired the sound of American jazz and fits perfectly within their current band’s format. The group features Ken Avis on acoustic guitar and vocals, Lynn Veronneau on vocals, David Rosenblatt on acoustic guitar and Pete Walby on drums alongside guest musicians Jeff Antoniuk on tenor sax, Alejandro Lucini on percussion and Jim McFalls on trombone.

The program explores the world of bossa nova and includes classics from Borroso, Jobim, Powell, Ben, as well as their own bossa treatments to some contemporary songs by Marley, among others, as a celebratory tribute to the original Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd 1962 album’s golden anniversary. Throughout the program, Lynn Veronneau’s vocals are longing, sensual, soft, sad, happy, and layered within the samba rhythms and jazz elements. She sings in Portuguese on “E Luxo So,” (“So Luxurious”), in French on the beautiful “Samba Saravah” and “Autumn Leaves,” and in English. All of the songs are absolutely beautiful and the arrangements are stellar and translate well from the original compositions.

Among the standouts are Veronneau’s dreamy vocals on “So Luxurious,” David Rosenblatt’s melodic and harmonic sense on “September Moon,” that also features easy brush strokes by Pete Walby. Antoniuk’s masterful saxophone solo raises the energy on “One Note Samba” while Ken Avis’ guitar on Baden Powell’s “Samba Saravah” with its repeating chords is like waves washing over a beach! The group ends the program with Antonio Carlos Jobim’s revered “Wave” which features the fresh energy of traditional Brazilian instruments – surdo drum, pandiero and shakers – and takes us back to the roots of bossa nova. This is Jazz Samba at its best.


Gerald Albright and Norman Brown – 24/7

Contemporary jazz greats Gerald Albright and Norman Brown join forces on a new Concord Jazz recording titled 24/7. The ten compositions reflect their command of the soul-jazz style and also speaks to the commitment and the camaraderie that each of these artists has to their professions and to each other. The recording spotlights Norman Brown on lead and rhythm guitars and Gerald Albright on alto, tenor and baritone saxophones with an ensemble of supporting musicians that includes Tracy Carter on keyboards, Ricky Lawson on drums, Herman Jackson on keyboards, Byron Miller on bass, and Selina Albright adding vocals, plus several other excellent sidemen doing what they do best.

“In The Moment” is the opening track and sets the tone for the remainder of the CD. This one is uptempo and filled with funky riffs and phrasings that make its hook very memorable. “Keep It Moving,” does just that and features the duo offering some tantalizing licks and phrasings that you are sure to enjoy. “Perfect Love” is a sweet and sexy ballad that shows another side to Brown’s and Albright’s musical personalities. This song also reveals Norman Brown’s songwriting skills and his ability to connect on a different level with vocalists and Gerald Albright’s horn arrangement.

The title track has Albright playing flutes, bass guitar, percussion and alto saxophone in addition to providing the programming! This song is beautiful and is the kind of song that you can get into for 24/7. Overall, Brown’s fluid playing and clean articulation coupled with Albright’s creative horn arrangements and pure saxophonics, makes 24/7 a great way to spend your day


Kennard Ramsey – Somos

[utube foo=”33KLrxuPe2o”]Somos is composer/guitarist Kennard Ramsey’s debut on Stanley Clarke’s Roxboro Entertainment Group label. The recording is a blend of various world music flavors into a true musical journey. The track “Neo Shaman” reached the Number One ranking on SiriusXM and “White Owl (Pressure),” Number One on WEIB 106.3 FM Smooth Jazz Charts. The album has received critical acclaim from numerous music publications.

Somos features the talents of guest artists DJ Maga Bo, vocalist Chiwoniso, keyboards Ruslan Sirota and Stanley Clarke, bassist/executive producer. It’s a trans-cultural mix that you will be sure to enjoy.

An eclectic and often enigmatic Los Angeles based composer/musician, Kennard Ramsey has worked with a diversity of talent in the film and record industry. Ramsey’s compositions are distinguished by his innovative use of live orchestra, synthesizer and other digital audio media, integrating contemporary music genres with traditional. He has numerous composing credits for feature films, documentaries, television movies and episodic television.

His feature film work ranges from Fortunes Of War, a suspense thriller set in Cambodia, starring Martin Sheen and Haing Nor to Hairshow, an outrageous comedy starring Monique. Television credits include “Lincoln Heights,” “Beverly Hills 90210” and “The X-Files”(source music) to name a few. His compositions are currently featured in several productions now on the film festival circuit. Ramsey has also arranged music and performed with stars like the inimitable King of Love Barry White, as well as jazz pioneer Ronnie Laws.

A recipient of consecutive Aspen Music Fellowship Awards and finalist in the Frank Sinatra awards, he has proven himself to be an accomplished musician and an award-winning performer. Ramsey’s new world music inspired CD released by Roxboro Entertainment Group is entitled SOMOS, was influenced by the arrangements and orchestrations that personified the innovation of Verve, CTI and Blue Note era recording artists. It is a musical and visual exploration of various music genres.

Fourplay – Esprit De Four

When it comes to making music, four is often the magic number. From the Beatles to MJQ, many legendary quartets have made their mark in the classical, pop and jazz traditions. Maybe it’s the idea of four talented individuals, each approaching the other three from a unique perspective – like inspired travelers hailing from equidistant coordinates on a map – and bringing all of their talents to bear at a single point. Maybe it’s just the sheer mathematical symmetry and balance of the number itself.

Whatever the case, Fourplay has accessed that collective magic. Keyboardist Bob James, bassist/vocalist Nathan East, guitarist Chuck Loeb and drummer/percussionist Harvey Mason have tapped into the creative force that emerges when four brilliant players commit themselves to a singular goal. That symmetry and creativity are at the heart of Esprit De Four.

“In the songwriting and recording process, we were building on the spirit we felt during the making of our previous record, Let’s Touch the Sky,” says James, recalling their first recording with Loeb in the guitar position. “We had made the adjustment to Chuck’s sound, and had really enjoyed performing the new music on the road. So we were eager to follow up on this new direction the band had taken.”

Loeb concurs, noting that Esprit De Four is a satisfying balance of the known with the unknown – not just for himself but for his bandmates as well. “We were all in the mood to make an adventurous CD with challenging music, but still maintain that unmistakable Fourplay sound,” he says. “We always try to have fun and keep our spirits united in the effort toward excellence in sound, production and musical content. I personally always want to bring the best songs and performances to my work with these three legendary artists whom I have the great fortune to be working with.”

Esprit De Four includes contributions from all four members of the band, beginning with the melodic “December Dream,” a song by Loeb that’s deceptively quiet and understated on one hand, yet fueled by its own unmistakable energy on the other. Loeb says the song may have started out in his own head, “but once we got into the studio, each guy just brought so much more to the table. Check out the counterpoint that Bob contributes to the middle section, Harvey’s 21st century orchestral snare drums, and the amazing vocals and walking bass line that Nathan does in the finale, and I think you’ll see what I mean.”

Loeb’s additional contributions to the set include the upbeat and percussive “Sonnymoon” (a composition dedicated to Fourplay manager Sonny Abelardo) and the gently atmospheric “Logic of Love.”

The highly elastic and intriguing “Firefly,” written by East and frequent collaborator Tom Keane, is inspired by a young jazz trio from Stockholm called Dirty Loops. “They’re great musicians and good friends of mine,” says East. “I was hoping to capture some of the same fun and energy and unique chord progressions that the trio band is known for, and Fourplay really delivered it.”

East and Keane also came up with the slow and smoldering “All I Wanna Do,” a nod to Fourplay’s more romantic side, written in the tradition of the Neal Hefti classic “Li’l Darlin,” which the band covered on their 1993 album, Between the Sheets. East’s sensual vocals deliver the song’s unmistakable invitation to a passionate interlude.

Mason’s “Venus,” built on an engaging piano/guitar interplay, is both cosmic and melodic at the same time. “It evokes the image of the thought-provoking planet of love,” says Mason. “The song is mentally seductive, with a warm, simple melody supported by transparent dissonant chords that together create a probing, ethereal mood. When I write ballads or love songs for this group, I can’t miss, because these guys are so extremely sensitive and romantic.”

The poignant but hopeful “Put Our Hearts Together,” was written by James – with lyrics by his daughter, Hilary James – as a tribute to the victims of the devastating tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011. The melody line delivered by the superstar Japanese pop singer Seiko Matsuda makes the song all the more personal and genuine.

“The people of Japan have been very supportive of my music for more than 30 years, and I’ve made wonderful friendships there,” says James. “When the tragedy struck, I was immediately motivated to do something.” He first performed the song at the Iwate Jazz Festival in Japan in September 2011, just six months after the disaster. “I attempted to compose something that would have a universal spirit. I could never have known how this song would grow and take on a life of its own as a result of its premiere performance last September.”

James’ other contribution is “Sugoi,” which is also influenced by Japanese music and culture, which James has gravitated to over the past few years. “Despite many attempts to learn the language,” he says, “I admit to knowing only the most basic conversational phrases. The title means ‘Nice…I like it.’ I hope people will say that after they hear the song.”

The title track, Mason’s second contribution to the album, closes the set with its anthemic vibe and unmistakable gospel undercurrent. “The guys clearly loved the direction the song was taking in the studio, so I went with it,” says Mason. “As the album came together, this tune – which remained nameless for the duration of the project – took on a feeling of unity, and I was honored when the guys named it ‘Esprit De Four.’ It’s truly amazing how things develop and take shape in this band. We always seem to be able to follow the path that unfolds when one is able to trust his instincts.”

It’s all part of the inexplicable thing that happens with four, especially when the four are as uniquely gifted as the individual members of Fourplay. Catch the spirit and the magic of Esprit De Four

Christian Scott – Christian aTunde Adjuah

Christian aTunde Adjuah—(Christian Scott’s new name, and the aame of his new CD) continues to delve into uncharted jazz territory as the artist analyzes his African heritage, New Orleans ancestry, and present Harlem lifestyle on the two-disc set.  “The album cover is a self-portrait, a two-tiered depiction of me in the ceremonial regalia of the Afro-Native American Culture of New Orleans– colloquially known as Black Indians or Mardi Gras Indians. Christian’s band consists of guitarist Matthew Stevens, drummer Jamire Williams, bassist Kris Funn and pianist Lawrence Fields. Christian also recruited guests; tenor saxophonist Kenneth Whalum III, alto saxophonist Louis Fouche IIII, and trombonist Corey King.
“Fatima Aisha Rokero 400,” opens Disc One, where the trumpeter boldly soars over Stevens’ guitar and eerie muses. “New New Orleans (King Adjuah Stomp),” is a rhythmic bouncer about the resilience of post-Katrina New Orleans. He shines on his quiet, muted-trumpet as they perform  “Who They Wish I Was” about how people have equated his band with the classic Miles Davis Quintet of the ‘60s; the pounding “Pyrrhic Victory of aTunde Adjuah” is about the negative reactions of people to Scott’s name completion; while  “Kiel,” is a reflective musical portrait of Christian’s twin brother.
The second disc includes the catchy melody, guitar-growled, hopeful “The Berlin Patient (CCR5)”; the snappy-drum patterned “When Marissa Stands Her Ground”; the melodic tune “Liar Liar”; and the ballad “I Do” that Christian wrote to celebrate his engagement. “Cara” ends the album with its romantic beauty that spotlights his breathy trumpet lines over Fields’ rich piano comping. Overall, Christian aTunde Adjuah is a masterwork and places him among the best trumpeters and composers of his generation.

Kevin Toney 3 – New American Suite

[utube foo=”TcPEMRPKU-c”]New American Suite the artist’s dynamic new band Kevin Toney 3 (a.k.a. “KT3” featuring Kevin Toney on piano, Michael Bradford on bass and Chris Coleman on drums). New American Suite is a nine-song work that Toney conceptualized with co-direction from music veteran Don Mizell as a salute to the spirit of the United States. Arriving after six now-classic albums with ‘70s soul-jazz band The Blackbyrds and eight acclaimed urban jazz solo albums, Kevin Toney’s richly thematic New American Suite marks the culmination of a uniquely distinguished career in music and a flying start into higher musical altitudes.

Highlights of New American Suite include the briskly driving “E Pluribus Unum.” Taking its title from the Latin term meaning ‘out of many, one’ that has appeared on American currency, the piece finds the trio swingin’ hard yet in unity just as America’s founding fathers intended in maintaining a strong union. The feel-good number “A Soulful Union” continues this theme in a stew of gospel, rock and soulful jazz that reflects the reawakening of collective spirits to the truth that all men and women are created equal. “Spacious Skies” is a tranquil meditation of appreciation on the freedoms that Americans too often take for granted. The one non-original piece is an original arrangement of Ragtime king Scott Joplin’s familiar 1902 classic “The Entertainer” (popularized again in 1973 as the theme for the movie “The Sting”).

Says Executive Creative Producer Don Mizell of this spellbinding debut by The Kevin Toney 3, “They cook, they burn, they smoke. They’re cool, they go deep within, and then a bit outside the box. They’re impressionistic and then again so-so vivid. They rock, they roll, they jazz it Up and cool it Down. They listen, they say, they swing and sway. They pray, they laugh and groove. They flux and flow — always, always together. What was Old is New again.”

– From the Kevin Toney website

Hot Club of Detroit – Junction

Hot Club of Detroit (HCOD) proves itself a versatile modern jazz group, with a unique acoustic-electric sound that surges past expectations and genre boundaries. Junction is the group’s follow up release to It’s About That Time, but this time they have expanded their sonic and compositional horizons by adding French vocalist Cyrille Aimée on three tracks. Guitarists Evan Perri and Paul Brady, accordionist Julien Labro, bassist Shawn Conley, saxophonists Jon Irabagon, and Andrew Bishop, make up the core ensemble.

The band’s power and timbral variation is immediately asserted by Irabagon on the opening track, “Goodbye Mr. Anderson.” The writing of Labro and lead guitarist Evan Perri is also central to the album’s sound. From their rich creative exchange comes the flowing soprano sax/accordina melody of “Song For Gabriel”; the Pat Metheny-esque 6/8 time of “Junction”; and the French-style waltz “Midnight in Detroit.” John Zorn is the inspiration behind “Chutzpah,” with a blasting free-form intro that gives way to precise ensemble passages and a riot of changing tempos and feels. “Django Mort,” was inspired by a Jean Cocteau poem.

Aimée sings the French text as the band plays in a laid-back shuffle feel with a romantic flair. Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman,” also arranged by Labro, features Irabagon on alto saxophone and Aimée singing a lyric written by Margo Guryan. The darker and calmer “Goodbye Mr. Shearing” honors the late piano master George Shearing. Perri and Labro also co-arranged “Rift,” by Phish’s Trey Anastasio, to close the album. Overall, Junction is a great mix of pop-oriented material and avant-garde and gypsy jazz.


Eric Marienthal – It’s Love

It’s Love and Eric Marienthal expresses it on his brand new release for Peak/eOne Entertainment. The award-winning saxophonist will set you on fire with this sexy offering that is marked by powerful balladry and a musical approach that has made Marienthal a household name for nearly 25 years! As many of his fans will remember, Marienthal first appeared on the jazz scene as a member of Chick Corea’s Elektric Band, the band that launched him to international prominence. Now, he’s paying tribute to those fans that have kept him shining brightly in the jazz galaxy with 10 songs that you’ll play again and again.

It’s Love is a contemporary jazz masterwork that features exciting new arrangements of such great songs as Brenda Russell’s “Get Here,” Duke Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood,” and The Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love,” among others. Eric plays alto, tenor and soprano saxes, composed and arranged several of the songs and also served as co-executive producer with Andi Howard. Long-time collaborator Chuck Loeb produced and wrote the amazing title track – one that matches Marienthal’s penchant for deeply moving, inspired and unforgettable songs. Among the great stars on this CD are Chuck Loeb, Russell Ferrante, Brian Culbertson, Jeff Lorber and Till Bronner. All bring their underlying musicality and sensitivity to the project in ways that add up to a canvas of great contemporary jazz.

The details and the production quality of this program are exquisite. One listen to “Two In One,” “Costa Del Soul,” and “St. Moritz,” will have you optimistic about their subtly effective takes on romantic love and Marienthal’s technique. The call and response between Chuck Loeb’s guitar and Eric Marienthal’s saxophone on “St. Moritz” is an extension of their creativity that you’re sure to enjoy. Overall, It’s Love is a real prize, the entire ensemble is brilliant, and in my opinion ranks at the top of Eric Marienthal’s body of work. It should be in your jazz collection today.


Eliane Elias – Light My Fire

[utube foo=”eYcPIDF_-oY”]Light My Fire features four compositions written or co-written by Eliane, as well as covers of familiar works by songwriters as diverse as Jim Morrison and the Doors, pop icon Stevie Wonder and jazz saxophonist Paul Desmond.  Backing Elias is a crew of twelve high-caliber players, including special guests such as guitarist/vocalist Gilberto Gil and trumpeter Randy Brecker.

The rhythm section – which has accompanied Elias on several of her most recent recordings – includes guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Paulo Braga. On Light My Fire, Elias wears many hats – as singer, pianist, composer, arranger and producer.

Pianist/singer/songwriter, Eliane Elias is known for her distinctive and immediately recognizable musical style which blends her Brazilian roots and her sensuous, alluring voice with her impressive instrumental jazz, classical and compositional skills. Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Elias’ musical talents began to show at an early age. She started studying piano at age seven, and at age twelve was transcribing solos from the great jazz masters. By the time she was fifteen, she was teaching piano and improvisation at one of Brazil’s most prestigious schools of music. Her performing career began in Brazil at age seventeen, working with Brazilian singer/songwriter Toquinho and the great poet Vinicius de Moraes, who was also Antonio Carlos Jobim’s co-writer/lyricist. In 1981, she headed for New York and in 1982 landed a spot in the acclaimed group Steps Ahead.

Her first album release was a collaboration with Randy Brecker entitled Amanda in 1984. Shortly thereafter her solo career began, spanning over twenty albums to date. In her work Elias has documented dozens of her own compositions, her outstanding piano playing and arranging, and beautiful vocal interpretations. All of her recordings have garnered a great deal of praise from the critics and all have topped the Billboard and jazz radio charts. In 1988 she was voted Best New Talent in the Critics Poll of Jazziz magazine.

Together with Herbie Hancock, she was nominated for a GRAMMY® in the “Best Jazz Solo Performance” category for her 1995 release, Solos and Duets. This recording was hailed by Musician magazine as “a landmark in piano duo history.” In the 1997 Downbeat Readers Poll, her recording The Three Americas was voted Best Jazz Album. Elias was also named in five other categories: Beyond Musician, Best Composer, Jazz Pianist, Female Vocalist, and Musician of the Year. Considered one of the great interpreters of Jobim’s music, Elias has recorded two albums solely dedicated to the works of the composer, Plays Jobim and Sings Jobim. Her 1998 release Eliane Elias Sings Jobim won Best Vocal Album in Japan, was the number one record on Japan’s charts for over three months and was awarded Best Brazilian Album in the Jazziz Critics Poll.

Moreover, as a testament to the quality of her writing, the renowned Danish Radio Big Band has performed and recorded Elias’ compositions, arranged and conducted by the legendary Bob Brookmeyer. The CD recording of this project is called Impulsive and was released on Stunt Records. It received a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album in 2001. The same year, Calle 54, the highly acclaimed documentary film by Oscar-winning Spanish director Fernando Trueba, featured Elias’ performance of “Samba Triste” and also received a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album.

On the Classical Side, recorded in 1993, demonstrated Elias’ classical skills with a program of Bach, Ravel, and Villa Lobos. In 2002, Elias recorded with opera sensation Denyce Graves. For this recording, The Lost Days, she arranged two Brazilian classical pieces and wrote an original composition especially for Graves entitled “HaabiaTupi.”

In 2002, Elias signed to the RCA Music Group/Bluebird label and released Kissed by Nature, an album consisting of mostly original compositions. Dreamer, her second recording for the label (released in 2004), was a fresh mix of tunes from the American Songbook, Brazilian Bossa Novas, and two new originals, all sung in English and Portuguese and supported by a full orchestra. Dreamer received the Gold Disc Award and was voted Best Vocal Album in Japan in 2004. It reached No. 3 on the pop charts in France and No. 4 on the Billboard charts in the U.S.

Elias’ Around The City, released on RCA Victor in August 2006, merges bits of Bossa Nova, with shades of pop, jazz, Latin and even rock & roll. Around The City features Elias’ vocals and songwriting in collaborations with producers Andres Levin and Lester Mendez, as well as fresh takes on pop classics such as Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va” and Bob Marley’s “Jammin”.

Elias returned to Blue Note/ EMI in 2007 with Something For You, a tribute to the music of the late great Bill Evans. While touching the essence of the pianist/composer, she also brings her own unique gifts to the surface, as a composer, interpreter, outstanding instrumentalist and beguiling vocalist. This release won Best Vocal Album of the Year and the Gold Disc Award in Japan. This is also the third consecutive recording of Elias to receive these awards and her fourth overall. Something for You reached No. 1 on the U.S. Jazz Radio charts, No. 8 on Billboard and No. 2 on the French Jazz Charts.

2008 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the birth of Bossa Nova. In celebration of this event, Elias recorded Bossa Nova Stories, featuring some of the landmark songs of Brazil with American classic and pop standards, exquisitely performed as only she can, with lush romantic vocals and exciting playing accompanied by a stellar rhythm section and strings recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London.

Destined to become a classic, Bossa Nova Stories achieved the following: Debuted at No. 1 on the French Charts (2008), No. 1 Vocal Album from Swing Journal, Japan (May-June 2008), No. 1 iTunes Top Jazz Album (January 2009), No. 2 iTunes Top Latin Album (January 2009), debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s Overall and Top Jazz Charts (January 2009). Bossa Nova Stories was also nominated by the Brazilian GRAMMYs (20th Premio da Musica Brasileira, 2009) for Best Foreign Album. Elias was No. 2 on the Annual Jazz Charts 2008 (denotes artist CD sales in France).
In 2009, EMI Japan released Eliane Elias Plays Live, an all-instrumental trio album with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron of a concert recorded in Amsterdam May 31, 2002. This performance demonstrates modern jazz trio playing at the highest level and spotlight Elias’s inventiveness and supreme command of the instrument on a collection of jazz standards and one original.

Giacomo Gates – The Revolution Will Be Jazz

Giacomo Gates is the complete vocal stylist. He’s often credited as a contemporary Eddie Jefferson, but with his full-bodied baritone and blazing inventiveness he sounds like a cross between Billy Eckstine and Kurt Elling. As bracing an innovator as he is an interpreter, Gates transforms his latest recording into a cornucopia of delicacies that extends from the smooth and mellow to the razor-sharp.

For his Savant Records’ debut, Gates has chosen to perform a stimulating selection of songs by the influential and controversial Gil Scott-Heron. Scott-Heron made music that reflected the turbulence, uncertainty and increasing pessimism of the early 70s, merging the soul and jazz and drawing on an oral poetry tradition that reached back to the blues and forward to hip-hop.

This material is tailor-made for Gates, who without question is the best-suited performer to deliver the satirical and insightful lyrics of a true American original, Gil Scott-Heron.

This is one of those CDs that you can put on and forget it; let it play all afternoon and you will find yourself loving it the entire time!

Kirk Whalum – Romance Language

The scenario: A titan tenor saxophone stylist set apart, amongst other things, by his very personal sound decides to go into the studio with a singer he admires and feels is vastly underrated. There are many objectives for the session, top among them being to record an album of ballads and to garner wider recognition for the singer through the fans of the sax player and the vocalist s sheer talent.

John Coltrane teaming up with Johnny Hartman in 1963…and Kirk Whalum s latest project featuring his brother Kevin entitled Romance Language (in spite of the many years that separate these recordings) bear many more similarities than differences. In fact the end result is exactly the same; romance at a level so intense that verbal language alone is inadequate to portray. Here s an attempt: easily two of the most romantic jazz albums of their respective eras.

While the Whalums are hardly the first modern duo to re-imagine the six songs that make up the eponymous classic from Coltrane and Hartman, they are among the first with the same surname and among the first to trust the (expertly executed) warmth and soul of electric accompaniment. With sax player as leader, the same inspiration and objective of the original duo recording applies here. Coltrane is quoted as saying he chose the voice that stuck in my mind somewhere. Kevin s voice is indeed stuck to Kirk s very being.

Richard Elliot – In The Zone

The reigning merchant of Soul Jazz, Richard Elliot invites loyal fans and newcomers alike to celebrate 25 years since the release of his debut album Initial Approach. In the Zone, a grooving, funked up, horn splashed collection that finds the energized-as-ever tenor saxophonist paying homage to the pioneering instrumental artists of his formative years ( 70s-early 80s) whose brilliance and musical innovations inspired his own.

Drawing on the influences of legends like Grover Washington, Jr., Bob James and David Sanborn, Elliot fashions the perfect contemporary jazz complement to Rock Steady, his 2009 recording that was inspired by the great R&B artists he grew up listening to; that collection debuted at #5 on the Billboard Jazz Album chart and remained on the list for over 40 weeks.

In The Zone includes a simmering, hypnotic retro-soul cover of Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler), a Marvin Gaye staple whose original instrumental version marked Washington s first session as a leader. Beyond that, the collection is driven by 9 powerful retro-flavored original songs penned by Elliot and co-producer Jeff Lorber, who share a colorful collaborative history over the past 10 years. The two played numerous shows in the early 2000s as part of the all-star Groovin For Grover tour (with Gerald Albright and Paul Taylor) and have worked together on various tracks on Elliot s recordings Crush (2001), Ricochet (2003), Metro Blue (2005), RnR (Elliot s hit dual 2007 recording with trumpet great Rick Braun) and Rock Steady.

Neamen Lyles – So Free

Neamen’s debut album “So Free” introduces a new voice to smooth jazz, demonstrating a remarkable freshness and maturity. Produced by Jay Soto, The CD offers ten tracks conveying a wide range of moods and musical sentiments with a confident feel from start to finish. Together Lyles and Soto have assembled a top-flight cast of contributors for this effort, all of whom give the album a sense of musical prowess seldom heard in a debut release.

Brian Simpson and Jeff Lorber provide nuanced keyboard tracks; Mel Brown and Ray Beindeau lay down electric bass lines; and Freddie Fox provides confident rhythm and solo guitar. Other contributors include: Anthony Morra and Rayford Griffin (drums), Darren Rahn (alto and tenor sax), Jason Rahn (trumpet & flugelhorn) and Michael Broening (B3 synth). David Lancette and Jodi Light also provide smooth vocals. With a great cast of contributors, “So Free” proves to establish Neamen Lyles as a new voice in the definition of smooth.

Lloyd Gregory – Gentle Warrior

Lloyd Gregory takes his listeners on a musical travelogue on Gentle Warrior, not engaging in a campaign of conquest so much as visiting different locales to sample the musical flavors. The San Francisco-based guitarist starts out in a “Brazilian Sea,” accompanied by the soothing vocals of Jeanie Tracy. “Haiti” has an appropriate Caribbean rhythm track to support the melodic soloing. At times, Gregory mixes locations, such as on “Philly,” which begins and ends with Indian percussion and in the middle includes some sitar-like sounds, even though the overall track is an evocation of the Philadelphia International soul sound of the 1970s.

“Desert Wind” is a somewhat more abstract physical location, and Gregory achieves its mood with a spare background track featuring a guitar and nature sounds, using his acoustic guitar on top to play some intricate, rapid-fire runs. “Slither” earns its name through the slippery bassline that snakes through and actually dominates the music. Sometimes, the title notwithstanding, Gregory is just trying to create an appealing pop-jazz tune, such as in “Germ” and “Zulu, Son of Cobra.”

He may be remembering more a time of his life than a place in “El Espiritu de Diana,” which finds him producing a more laid-back version of the style of Carlos Santana that’s more sigh than cry. (A sentence in his press biography reads, “At one point he paid the rent by playing in San Francisco strip clubs with former members of Santana.” Clearly, something wore off.) The album boasts more variety than the usual smooth jazz guitar collection, reflecting the musician’s lengthy experience and mastery of different styles. ~ William Ruhlmann

Ferenc Nemeth – Triumph

Triumph has many meanings from the small things in our life to the most meaningful achievements. As we live our lives, we constantly affirm our aspirations as well as we overcoming obstacles. Triumph is a celebration of all that and more. The title of the CD represents Ferenc’s hopes for a future where individuals can reach their highest potentials and the collective mass of humanity work together as a unified hope.

Ferenc explains; “Triumph also represents my personal experiences, the many things that I’ve been through in my life. Coming from a small village (1000 people), moving out of my parents’ house at age 14, trying to practice and learn everything while everyone around me is trying to convince that by playing music I will not make a living, moving to a big city, learning to adjust to different communities, being bullied, fighting for my rights as an artist on my own and in a different country, getting recognized and being accepted as a foreigner, losing friends and family, going through hardships. All this and of course many beautiful things like meeting new people, new friends, mentors, traveling, see the world opening in front of you, loving and being loved, experiencing the many wonders that life gives us and celebrating life itself.”

Thematically the songs on Triumph are based around the many feelings and experiences that we as humans go through: Triumph, Purpose, Joy, Longing, Hope, Sorrow and Wishful Thinking. These songs were written over a long period of time and were not just put together for this project. So their true reflection has a timeless feeling.  Ferenc only wrote a song when he had a specific point of inspiration.  It is a true expression of a moment, captured in its truest form.  Ferenc is not able to just write for a commission. Instead, his compositional ideas and themes always come from an emotional center of his being and each song was written with the feeling that the title represents. Ferenc expands; “I am conscious and concerned about how we are progressing as human beings. Are we evolving? Are we getting better? These are some of the questions that I am trying to find answers for and hoping that with my music I can contribute to that fabric for a better future. “

The album was written more like a Symphony. The ending of one song is connective to the beginning of another; with well-placed interludes they blend into each other, forming a collective message as a whole.  “Triumph” the title track, is a textural journey of rhythmic complexities, call and answer conversations that exemplifies the ensemble’s ability to play off of each other.  “Purpose” gives a feeling of direction as the track uplifts the listener, propelled by Nemeth’s buoyant pulses, toggling between bop, free-bop and mainstream whereas “Joy” is a jubilant emotive piece that guitarist Lionel Loueke embellishes by vocally doubling his single note lines.  The quartet tears down walls, shifts strategies, and morphs anthem-like movements with soaring lines, and upbeat incursions.  On “Longing” Werner and Nemeth interact with sympathetic passages, then are joined by Redman and Loueke that all together create a broad temporal plane.  On the solo section, Werner displays clusters of introspective moments, while again Loueke and Redman, backed by Nemeth’s superb ability to listen and complement each moment, drives this heart wrenching composition to its fullest potential.

Continuing on the journey with “Hope,” based on a two motif theme, Werner begins by stating the first motif, melodic and simple in nature, which is followed by Loueke stating the second motif, which creates a rhythmically active counterpoint.  What is most interesting about this piece is how Nemeth creates full lower end sound with his bass drum and lower pitched floor toms.  Because this ensemble does not contain a bass player, the listener is able to hear the fine lower end work of drummer Nemeth.  “Sorrow” and “Wishful Thinking” is a somber, introspective piece treated with African rhythms and microtonal interludes, with either mystical qualities or executed via disparate tonal swashes. Guest vocalist Barbara Togander and Lionel Loueke add an instrumental vocal impression to the piece that tethers the two in a uniting sound. Redman and Werner create propelling undercurrent, working almost as one united mind.  Throughout the recording we hear the work of arranger/conductor Nicolas Sorin, and his excellent woodwind orchestrated and conducted contributions, but this particular piece is especially poignant.  Overall, this embodiment of compositions is a full-fledged global musical perspective, a conglomerate of beguiling propositions, meant to evoke the human spirit.

In addition, in 2011, Ferenc has launched an app at the Mac AppStore called “Drum School,” that is an educational tool, including over 300 drum grooves and hand exercises. This app is a rhythm library, an instructional DVD and a method book, all in one. (www.drumschoolapp.com)

Uli Geissendoerfer – Colors

COLORS was founded in 2011 by Uli Geissendoerfer as an amalgam of his two earlier Las Vegas projects RED, A Latin Jazz powerhouse sextet and BLUE, a World Music quartet to octet. It is geared towards spanning the globe of Jazz, with a special emphasis on vocalist Pascale Elia and her interplay with saxophonist Charles McNeal.

Ryan Rose and Derek Jones complete the high-energy rhythm section. The group features many original compositions by Mr. Geissendoerfer and highly creative arrangements from various styles; from The Beatles to Sergio Mendez.

Alex Brown – Pianist

Paquito D’Rivera presents Alex Brown and his album “Pianist”.Dedication, musicality and a natural condition towards the instrument, good taste, good sense of swing, and the extraordinary capacity that Alex has for comprehending the most diverse of genres and musical styles, from the likes of Prokofiev and Ellington to Lecuona or Antonio Carlos Jobim.

As a composer, and much like Duke, this valuable youngster has the keen eye to choose the best sidemen to interpret his well elaborated compositions and arrangements.

Anna Estrada – Volanda

Volando – the cover of which features a bird, the lilac-breasted roller – includes a famous number with the line “we’re creatures of the wind,” which also fits the album’s flying motif. That song, in a distinctly relaxed rendition, is “Wild Is the Wind,” which Estrada grew to love in both David Bowie’s more dramatic version and the interpretation by her key early teacher, West Coast jazz singer Madeline Eastman. An aficionado of Brazilian music, co-producer Ray Scott suggested doing “E Preciso Perdoar” (Forgiveness Is Necessecary) – a song Estrada knew via Brazilian jazz singer Flora Purim – as a reverse partido alto, a variation on the samba rhythm. Estrada first heard “Mais Que Nada” (More Than Anything) as a teen living in Mexico City and listening to LPs by Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66. “It’s a song about wanting to get on the dance floor,” she explains. “We do it as a samba-reggae – it’s one of the most popular songs at my live shows.”

Estrada adapted the original Portuguese lyrics for the album’s Spanish-language version of Lenine’s “Paciência” (Patience), and for her friend Shannon Bryant’s song “Dueño de mi Corazón,” Estrada wrote her own Spanish lyrics. “I grew up crossing borders culturally and geographically, having lived in Tijuana and Mexico City when I was young,” Estrada says. “It’s interesting: English has a larger vocabulary than Spanish, which allows you to be incredibly specific. Ironically, the smaller vocabulary makes Spanish richer. Words sometimes change meaning based on their context, giving the language an ambiguity that often imbues the simplest phrases with double meaning. There can be an appealing mystery in that.” As for the Spanish translation of “Begin the Beguine” as “Al Empezar el Beguin,” Estrada chose the rendition by Berkeley professor Coby Lubliner. “There was a Spanish version that Julio Iglesias had a hit with, but I prefer Coby’s so much more,” she insists. “It’s closer to Cole Porter’s original, much like the Gene Lees version of `Desafinado’.”

One of the album’s highlights is Grever’s “Cuando Vuelva a Tu Lado” (When I Return to You). Estrada says, “The English lyrics for `What a Diff’rence a Day Makes’ fit the phrasing of this melody better, but they don’t have the same romantic intensity as the original Spanish words, which ring very true about love and sex, the vulnerability of intimacy.“

Estrada started out her career in performing as an actress in theater and television, and that informs her approach to music-making, she says: “I’m always trying to connect with an audience and tell a story, convey an emotional message – and the way a melody changes in a song builds tension and release in a dramatic way. As for doing the songs in several different languages, I want the songs and their stories to speak to as many different types of listeners as possible.”

1. Wild Is the Wind (Tiomkin & Washington) 4:30
2. Cuando Vuelva a Tu Lado (Grever) 5:46
3. Happiness Is a Warm Gun/I Want You (Lennon & McCartney) 6:18
4. Mais Que Nada (Ben) 3:37
5. Paciencia (Lenine & Falcão) 4:12
6. Dueño de mi Corazón (Bryant & Estrada) 4:34
7. Al Empezar el Beguin (Porter) 5:30
8. Everybody’s Talking (Neil) 4:19
9. Pure Imagination (Bricusse & Newley) 6:31
10. E Preciso Perdoar (Torreão de Costa & Luz) 6:40

Bonus Tracls
11. Paciência (Portuguese version) 4:13
12. Dueño de mi Corazón (acoustic version) 3:31

Sophisticated Ladies – A True Story

The album is called A True Story because the music and stories told, reflect the true personality and life experiences of the Ladies . As life is diverse, so is the music, the instrumentation and the atmospheres created.

What makes this offering special is; all the Ladies sing and each musician is given space to tell her personal story. There are two instrumental tracks, five tracks with Rachael on lead vocals and one track where Nolwenn, Emily and Valerie sing the lead. The ladies share their melancholy as well as their “joie de vivre.”

They begin with “The Lady is a Tramp” as a presentation of the main characters and proceed with “Sophisticated Lady” to reveal more personality. They then share moments of life with “Autumn Leaves,” “You Go To My Head,” “Segment,” “Gone With the Wind” and “Insensatez” always varying the atmosphere through a rich mix influences going from Swing to Cuban Bolero to Indian Bansuri. The final track, “Dansez sur Moi” is a celebration of life and an invitation to dance with the warmth of Samba, which leaves the auditor feeling good. Truly a warm and inviting release, the way jazz was meant to be shared.

The Sophisticated Ladies are four women from around the globe who came together to share their love of Jazz and it’s tradition of mixing cultures. With their fresh enthusiasm and passion for music the Ladies breathe new life into the works of our most beloved composers.  They share as if each cut were personal life stories both with great emotion and a light-heart; the emotion and message of each song shines through perfectly.

From swing to cha cha cha, there is something in it for everyone. The Sophisticated Ladies do not tailor their music for the elite listener, but enjoy sharing the beauty and fun of jazz with everyone. The more the merrier and they have enough good energy to go around.ia, China, and in California.

Ramsey Lewis – Taking Another Look

Pianist and contemporary jazz icon Ramsey Lewis revisits his classic 1974 electric jazz-funk album Sun Goddess for 2011’s Ramsey, Taking Another Look. Featuring a newly minted lineup of his ’70s electric band, Taking Another Look features keyboardist Mike Logan, guitarist Henry Johnson, bassist Joshua Ramos, and drummer Charles Heath, all of whom reveal a knack for the funky, soulful jazz Lewis is reinvestigating here. Included are reworkings such classic ’70s tracks as “Tambura,” “Love Song,” and “Jungle Strut.” These are dance-oriented jazz-funk cuts with an organic, groove-oriented vibe that stick closely to the original ’70s conception. In fact, the original version of Lewis’ hit “Sun Goddess” is included and rounds out the album nicely. Which isn’t to say that this is solely a retro-leaning venture. On the contrary, as with the rest of the album, tracks such as the dramatic, midtempo funk number “To Know Her” and the lush ballad “Sharing Her Journey” are expertly produced contemporary jazz numbers. ~ Matt Collar, Album Notes

Personnel: Ramsey Lewis (piano, Fender Rhodes piano); Mike Logan (guitar, keyboards); Henry Johnson (guitar); Joshua Ramos (acoustic bass, electric bass); Charles Heath (drums).Audio Mixer: Danny Leake.Liner Note Author: Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr.Recording information: Chicago recording Company (02/2011); P.S. Recording Studios, Chicago, IL (02/2011); Chicago recording Company (06/1974); P.S. Recording Studios, Chicago, IL (06/1974).Photographer: Michael Coakes

Track Listing
1. Intimacy
2. Tambura
3. Love Song
4. Living for the City
5. Betcha by Golly Wow
6. To Know Her
7. Way She Smiles, The
8. Jungle Strut
9. Sharing Her Journey
10. Sun Goddess

Playing Time: 52 min.
Producer: Frayne Lewis

Terri Lyne Carrington – The Mosaic Project

For more than two decades, drummer, producer and vocalist Terri Lyne Carrington has crafted an eclectic brand of jazz that incorporates elements of bebop, soul, funk and much more. Since her debut in 1989, the GRAMMY®-nominated artist has established a reputation for assembling artists of varying styles and perspectives to create music that adheres to the traditions of jazz yet speaks to a much broader and more diverse audience. Carrington brings this same diverse sensibility to her new recording The Mosaic Project, an album that once again gathers a myriad of voices and crystallizes them into a multi-faceted whole that far outweighs the sum of its parts.”Everything about this recording is about making a larger picture out of many various elements,” says Carrington, who produced the 14-song set. “I assembled several friends – most of whom I’ve performed with in the past, and all of whom bring their own individual story – to help me create the big picture. For as talented as each of them are as individuals, when I put them all together, I have a much greater musical story – one that can be told in an interesting and compelling way.”

Included on that list of friends are some of the most prominent female jazz artists of the last few decades: Esperanza Spalding, Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Sheila E., Nona Hendryx, Cassandra Wilson, Geri Allen and several others. Carrington says the emergence of so many great female jazz artists is what finally makes an album like The Mosaic Project possible, more so now than in decades past.

“If I had tried to do something like this in the past – like when I started playing 25 years ago – I might have felt limited by the pool of available musicians,” she says. “But now there are so many talented women whom I’ve been playing with anyway – not just because they’re women but because I love the way they play. So it has become easier to do a special project that celebrates the artistry and the musicality of these women.”

Clearly, Carrington’s picture is never quite what it seems. With so many individual voices and perspectives in the mix, the results are often eye-opening and ear-opening. “There’s one part of me that’s kind of a jazz head who likes complex, thought provoking melodies and harmonies,” she says. “And then there’s another part of me that really likes funk and pop and things that are accessible. This record is another chance for me to assemble all of these great musicians to help me combine those different aspects of myself – those different pieces – and create something special in the process.

Find out more about Terri Lyne Carrington

Steve Lipman – Ridin’ The Beat

Ridin’ The Beat is Steve Lipman’s second release. Despite the fact that his first album,There’s a Song in my Heart, received numerous favorable critics’ reviews, and radio airplay across the globe, Steve will always consider it his proverbial “first”.  “Man that was my initial go at it in the studio and I was green as the grass that grows. It was no time for egos; truly I had a lot to learn! Kind of like being in grade school all over again. I was fortunate to be surrounded by a group of superbly talented individuals, notably engineer/producer Rod Warner and arranger/musician Dan Prindle. Both men helped me immeasurably, in finding my soul in this business and honing my craft.”

On Ridin’ The Beat, Steve Lipman, took all that he learned in his first effort and reached for the stars. From its inception, Steve desired an album in the truest sense. Instead of simply laying down a string of unrelated and disconnected tracks so common in many of today’s pop projects, Steve Lipman wanted Ridin’ The Beat to be different. He wanted Ridin’ The Beat to have a soul. It needed to communicate that elemental human essence, the inner drive and emotions that define exactly who we are. It needed to be subtle and caress the thoughts, to allow each listener to creatively extract a personal understanding.

To achieve this goal, Steve carefully selected each great American classic. Notable composers including Harold Arlen, George Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, Richard Rogers, Lorenzo Hart and Cole Porter, are represented here. Through the strong arrangements by Dan Prindle, and the terrific jazz talent of Stephen Page, Josh Evans, Bryan Kelly, Doug Lang and Rene Gonzalez, the music becomes alive and contemporary. It gives Lipman something truly special to sink his teeth into. Yes, some of these tunes ring comfortably familiar, yet others awaken the listener to something truly unique and groundbreaking. All of this, combined with the musical genius of producer and engineer Rod Warner, makes Ridin’ The Beat truly a fulfillment of Steve Lipman’s goal. Without a doubt, Ridin’ The Beat has a soul, it’s a tale all so human, filled with a comfortable familiarity.

So go ahead, pour yourself something nice. Imagine yourself seated in some swank jazz club, the anticipation growing as the show is about to start. The lights dim and they take the stage as a hush encompasses the room. Now you’re ready. Sit back and enjoy,  Ridin’ The Beat!


Steve Lipman – vocals

Dan Prindle – bass

Bryan Kelly – drums

Stephan Page – piano

Josh Evans – trumpet

Doug Lang – saxophone, clarinet, flute

Rene Gonzalez – percussion

Rod Warner – percussion

Jonathan Butler – Grace and Mercy

On Grace and Mercy Butler delivers a collection of songs that serve as a soothing musical balm in today’s troubled times. “This album really speaks about optimism, faith, belief and hope, especially in the light of what everybody has been experiencing in the last two or three years,” he says. “There’s been a lot of people losing their homes, their jobs, enduring the challenges that life brings. I’m hoping this album will bring hope to people. Songs like ‘Give it Up To God,’ ‘I Stand On Your Word,’ and ‘Who is Like the Lord’ were written from experiences that I’ve had to go through myself.”
The lead single, “I Stand On Your Word,” is a soaring ballad that reminds us of the power of God’s promises. “I love that song,” Butler says. “I hope that it hits home to a lot of people.”

God’s word became real to Butler when he was just a teenager. At 19-years-old, Butler’s life forever changed when he became a Christian. “It was love that drew me to Christ,” he smiles, “the love of someone who cared enough to talk to me about Jesus and take me in when I was basically a broken young man in South Africa. It was my late brother-in-law, my wife’s brother, who led me to Christ. He was that person in my life that actually took the time to talk to me about Jesus, and it didn’t take me long to give my heart to Christ because of that.”

photos by Raj Naik. click to view

In the past few years, his faith has sustained Butler during some difficult times. He lost his beloved mother and a very close friend in addition to helping his wife battle cancer. It’s been tumultuous time that saw the gifted musician leaning ever closer to God and pouring his experiences into his music. Grace and Mercy showcases Butler’s gift for taking potent lyrical messages and enveloping them in memorable melodies. “Give it up to God” is a soul-stirring slow jam that spotlights Butler’s warm, distinctive voice. “Simplicity always wins for me,” Butler says of the song. “There is such power in a simplistic lyric. You really reach people when you say simply, ‘Give it up to God.’ We all go through those every day trials. We read the Proverbs and Psalms and most of the time we forget that the Bible says, ‘Trust in the Lord with your heart and lean not on your own understanding.’ Every day we have to give it up to God, EVERY day.”

Among Butler’s favorite tracks are “I Know He Cares.” “I love, love, love, love ‘He Cares!’ I wrote ‘He Cares’ and it spoke to me,” Butler says. “I started with the music and then started writing these lyrics down. We all need to know that God really cares for us. The Bible says, “We are the sheep of his pasture” and he absolutely does care for us. That song really speaks to me a lot.”

“Moments of Worship” is another highlight on Butler’s new project. “I actually recorded ‘Moments Of Worship’ in Spain years ago,” he says. “I was at a friend’s house and he had a studio and an engineer. I sat in front of a piano and started singing my favorite worship songs and I just decided to do that on this album. At the end of all the music, it comes back to worship, which I think is beautiful.”

Lyrically Grace and Mercy delivers the kind of Biblically grounded, emotionally uplifting songs Butler has become known for, yet musically he says fans might be caught slightly off guard. “It’s going to surprise people a little bit coming from me because I think it’s much more of an edgier gospel record,” he says of the project, which was recorded at his home studio. “It’s more urban. Overall I feel it’s much more of a raw type of record. I didn’t grow up in church, but I’m a born again Christian. For the last 30 years I’ve been saved so I write from that place. I draw a lot from different elements and experiences and also my culture from South Africa, so I think it’s a little bit different.”

Makaya McCraven – Split Decision

“The music on ‘Split Decision’ (the debut album led by drummer Makaya McCraven) shimmers with pop energy while retaining a resilient jazz core – a fresh take on the age-old piano trio, catapulted by McCraven’s propulsive percussion into an orbit that few first-time groups ever achieve. Other trios have attempted to fuse jazz roots with contemporary sounds, but McCraven has managed to do so in a way that should fully please listeners of both camps… McCraven’s trio album sounds as if it had worked together for years… It has that organic, lived-in quality that marks the most experienced bands – a platform that allows each musician to take chances knowing that the others will (or catch him if he starts to fall). This kind of mutual trust doesn’t come easily, and sometimes not at all; here it underlines every track…”

 Neil Tesser (from the liner notes)

Born in Paris October 19th 1983, to drummer Stephen McCraven and Hungarian folk singer Agnes Zsigmondi, Makaya McCraven has internationally toured, performed and recorded with jazz greats such as Bobby Broom, Archie Shepp and Charles Neville. In high school, Makaya was co-founder of the band Cold Duck Complex. They released 3 records and toured throughout the Northeast, opening for major national acts and gaining a loyal fan base. Cold Duck Complex became a campus favorite at the the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where they opened for 50 Cent, Rhazel and Reel Big Fish. As a music major at the University, Makaya played in the University Jazz Orchestra and earned 3 Downbeat student awards.

Currently Makaya resides in Chicago and has cracked the upper echelon of the music scene. He has performed at some of Chicago’s finest venues and festivals, including Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion, the Taste of Chicago, the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Green Mill, Andy’s, the Jazz Showcase, and the Velvet Lounge. Rooted in Chicago, Makaya travels between the Midwest and East Coast. He is the Musical Director of the Pushkin, an arts collective in Greenfield, Massachusetts where he is known for throwing cultural events and recording albums with a variety of musicians.

Makaya has contributed to a number of recordings with artists representing a spectrum of styles: Apollo Sunshine’s “Shall Noise Upon,” (Headless Heroes); Kris Delmhort’s “Shotgun Singer,” (Signature Sounds); Grammy nominated Seth Glier’s “The Next Right Thing”, and others. Makaya’s background, coupled with his love for real hip hop, rock, and any other forward-thinking music that comes his way, makes for a dynamic instrumental fusion that is undeniable to the listener. Makaya is a true improviser who, with each performance, creates a new live music experience.

Makaya McCraven’s Website

Elan Trotman – Love and Sax

Saxophonist Elan Trotman, quickly becoming one of jazz’s most thrilling and emotive performers, continues to stand out and push boundaries as a composer, performer, teacher and recording artist. Trotman’s playing, though inspired by Grover Washington, Jr. and Kirk Whalum, among others, displays his own fresh ideas and distinctive tone. So much so that the New England Urban Music Awards named him best male jazz performer, and he’s been nominated for Boston Music Awards in the jazz category. Born and raised in Barbados, the native island of pop star Rihanna, and educated at the world-renowned Berklee College Of Music in Boston, Trotman approaches jazz in his own way. Blending Caribbean rhythms from his roots with skillful horn textures, his playing is full of surprises. “I like to stretch out, take chances on my solos.” Inspiring and eminently listenable, Trotman’s music is never predictable.

Elan Trotman’s music has that unique edge where its vibe is instantly seductive and familiar but also offers explosive playing and compelling compositions. For his new CD, Love and Sax, Trotman slows things down for a ballads project where he wrote or co-wrote 12 of the 13 tracks (including the bonus “Can I Play 4 U?” featuring the late, great bassist Webster Roach), for a set full of sensual and seductive melodies, full-bodied rhythms and plenty of hooks. The title track and first smooth jazz radio single, “Love and Sax,” is an irresistible ballad with enchanting wah-wah synth effects and a layered sound that translates to a definite mood enhancer. Trotman’s forte is on the tenor and soprano saxes but he also plays the flute and piano.

The multi-instrumentalist has released music with elements of gospel, jazz, R&B, funk and reggae, now steps onto the R & B scene with “Midnight Serenade”, a soulful collaboration with R&B vocalist Tony Terry, whose hits “With You” and “Everlasting Love” have become Urban AC radio mainstays. The two have remained friends since performing together in the Roberta Flack band. “Midnight Serenade” is a sexy slow-burner written and roduced by Trotman and cowritten by Boston-based Neil Letendre of Sure Fire Music and co-produced by Atlanta-based Herman “P-Nut” Johnson of Big Bully, Inc.

The combination of Trotman’s lush horn and Terry’s unforgettable vocals create the perfect atmosphere for romance, released just in time for the most romantic holiday of the year. Also joining Trotman on his new CD are two smooth jazz stars, pianist Brian Simpson on “Heaven in Your Eyes” and American Smooth Jazz awardwinning trumpeter Cindy Bradley on “Oasis.” Also joining Trotman on his new CD are two smooth jazz stars, pianist Brian Simpson and American Smooth Jazz award-winning trumpeter Cindy Bradley.

The single “Heaven In Your Eyes” feat. Brian Simpson climbed all the way to #12 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Songs Chart. Love and Sax is Trotman’s 5th CD, and to date is his most successful work, having entered the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Albums Top 20 in June of 2011. Prior to “Love and Sax” his 2009 release “This Time Around” gained significant airplay for the funky remake of Bill Withers hit “Lovely Day” by reaching #6 on the radio charts, and the selfpenned, feel good summer track “100 Degrees”.

Nate Radley – The Big Eyes

Nate’s first cd as a leader “The Big Eyes” includes nine of his original compositions performed by Nate on guitar, Loren Stillman on saxophone, Pete Rende on fender Rhodes, Matt Pavolka on bass, and Ted Poor on drums.

In addition to leading his own band Nate performs frequently with the collaborative band “Bad Touch” which includes Loren Stillman and Ted Poor, as well as Gary Versace on organ. This band has recorded one cd under its own name “Like a Magic Kiss” and a second “Winter Fruits” under the name of the Loren Stillman quartet. Together the band has toured Europe in 2011 and the U.S. in 2009.

Nate performs with a variety of groups as a sideman and since moving to New York in 2004 has recorded on over 20 cds. Some of the bands Nate has performed and recorded with include the Alan Ferber Nonet and Large Ensemble, Marc Mommaas’ “Landmarc”, the Jon Gordon group, Akiko Pavolka’s House of Illusion, the Andrew Rathbun ensemble, and the Dave Smith Quartet. Other bandleaders that Nate has performed with include John O’Gallagher, Tony Moreno, John McNeil, David Scott, Tom Beckham, Andy Statman, the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, Aruan Ortiz, and Eric Rasmussen. Nate also plays regularly with the country band Hope Debates and North Forty.

Nate has recorded for labels such as Fresh Sound/New Talent, Sunnyside, Steeplechase, Artistshare, Pirouette, and Tone of a Pitch. He has performed throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and at jazz festivals such as the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Montreal Jazz Festival, and the Atlanta Jazz Festival.

Nate studied jazz guitar and composition at New England Conservatory in Boston, MA where he received a Master’s in Music. He studied with John Abercrombie, Bob Brookmeyer, Jerry Bergonzi, and George Russell. He also has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Chicago.

Nate has over ten years teaching experience, and currently teaches jazz guitar, music theory, and jazz ensembles at the Center for Preparatory studies in Music at Queens College and private guitar lessons at the Bloomingdale School of Music. In addition Nate has taught clinics at high schools and universities throughout the Unites States.

The Billie Davies Trio – All About Love

Going back in time, finding some wonderful classics, and giving them a contemporary/improvisational twist. It gives her the greatest pleasure to be able to bring back these particular songs with a new perspective to an audience.

I would describe this music as “contemporary modal with a romantic twist” or perhaps “neo-Cool Jazz”. Very much like Freddie Hubbard, Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, Eric Dolphy & Jackie McLean but in 2012. Lyrical, good phrasing, nice rhythms.

(feat. Tom Bone Ralls, Oliver Steinberg & Billie Davies)

Classical Meets Jazz: Pictures at an Exhibition

Eyran and Andrei’s two-piano onstage dialogue weaves together classical and jazz styles in a revolutionary interpretation of Mussorgsky’s timeless masterpiece. Pictures at an Exhibition is performed as one organic and unified piece, with all thirteen movements presented in their original order. Each movement is approached differently as the two distinguished international pianists explore how composition and improvisation come together in a creative and unique way.

Eyran Katsenelenbogen and Andrei Ivanovitch, piano
Recorded live on May 24, 2009 in Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory of Music, Boston, MA.

Produced by Richard Malcolm
Audio Recording by Jeremy Sarna
Artist Photography by Vincere Sylph
Jordan Hall Photography by Nick Wheeler
Graphic Design by Abby Getman

This project was made possible with funding from New England Conservatory.

Yonrico Scott – Be in my World

Grammy Award Winner Yonrico Scott releases his debut CD on Blue Canoe Records.

Throughout his musical career, Yonrico has recorded and/or performed with a Who’s Who list of well-known artists. Most recently, he has collaborated with The Ying Yang Twins and Outkast. Other notable artists include Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, Peabo Bryson, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Sammy Davis Jr., Chuck Berry, George Howard, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Stitt, Joshua Redman, George Benson, Anita Baker, Tinsley Ellis, The Allman Brothers Band, Susan Tedeschi, Kansas, John Scofield, Bruce Hampton, Cecil Bridgewater, Alvin Batiste, Gary Burton, Fiji Mariners, Andrew White, Gregg Allman, John Denver, Ben E. King, The 3 Degrees, The Supremes, Widespread Panic, Phil Lesh, The Lexington Philharmonic, and The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, among others. Yonrico’s Broadway tour performances include The Wiz, 5 Guys Named Moe, and Dream Girls.

From the 1980’s to the Present, Yonrico has enjoyed working with various composers and arrangers for a multitude of commercial recordings for advertising/ commercials, jingles, individual songs, etc. Probably one of the more important recordings of this nature, working with Producer, Tim McCabe, Yonrico collaborated with Ray Charles to re-record Georgia’s State Song, Georgia On My Mind. Additional composers Yonrico has worked with include Bill Meyers, Jim Ellis, Jack Turner, and Steve Holts, among others.

The New Universe music Festival 2010

The lineup for the New Universe Music Festival is a music lovers’ dream!

The festival boasts a roster of artists who handily defy genre categorization in favor if unbridled expression – all of whom seamlessly mingle compositional ingenuity and improvisational grace and fervor.

John McLaughlin and 4th Dimension – Iconic fusion guitarist McLaughlin helped to define a movement with his revolutionary work with Miles Davis, Tony Williams Lifetime, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Shakti, and his ongoing solo explorations. McLaughlin’s staggering technique is matched by a tireless urge to experiment and refine, expressing himself via complex metrical structures, rich harmonic backdrops, and a willingness to follow his muse to any lengths.

The Lenny White Group (featuring Jimmy Herring) – Master drummer Lenny White emerged in an era when the lines between jazz and rock were not yet clearly drawn, inspiring him to further blur those distinction in a career that included an era-defining stint in Chick Corea’s Return to Forever, sessions with Miles Davis (including Bitches Brew), Gil Evans, Joe Henderson, and many more. His own group, which includes guitarist Jimmy Herring (see below), brings rock muscle to the sensitivity and open-ended improvisational thrust of the best jazz.

Human Element – Featuring keyboardist Scott Kinsey, bassist Matt Garrison, percussionist Arto Tunçboyaciyan, and drummer Gary Novak (who wont be available to play) Human Element introduce international rhythmic and harmonic concepts into their fluid, jazz/rock framework. Each member is an accomplished musician and composer in his own right, resulting in a vibrant and ever-changing sound that is at once familiar and refreshingly original. For the Festival they will be joined by Ranjit Barot, India’s best kept secret on drums.

Wayne Krantz – Fearless and ever-resourceful, guitarist Wayne Krantz thrives in high-wire improvisational scenarios ranging from complex chordal structures (he toured and recorded with Steely Dan, for instance) to pure, unbridled freedom. Krantz is that rare musician, capable of performing composed music with seemingly spontaneously abandon, or conversely lending his improvisations the logic and grace of fine composition.

Jimmy Herring – Performing both with Lenny White and with his own ensemble, Jimmy Herring has won vast acclaim for his incisive, probing guitar work with outfits as varied as the Allman Brothers, the Aquarium Rescue Unit, the Dead, Phil Lesh and Friends, Widespread Panic, and Project Z. His debut solo album on Abstract Logix, Lifeboat, featured him in a range of situations and provided startling testament to his versatility and self-effacing brilliance.

Alex Machacek – A rising star of improvised music, guitarist and composer Alex Machacek has quickly won the endorsement and support of such stalwarts as Terry Bozzio and Jeff Sipe. With the support of Abstract Logix, Machacek has gradually progressed from a well-kept secret – a musician’s musician – to drawing audiences from across a wide spectrum of genres to his rich, unpredictable music. His most recent release, 24 Tales, is a brilliant, intricately-composed suite built around an improvised drum solo by Marco Minneman.

Ranjit Barot – India’s premiere drummer on the drum kit…and if you live outside of India chances are you probably wouldn’t know that. But with the release of Floating Point , John McLaughlin’s studio CD on Abstract Logix, it has changed

Ranjit infuses his western influenced chops with his Indian soul. He creates rhythms that are intricate and unpredictable; yet they groove ferociously and swing effortlessly. He makes odd-time signatures seem as natural as breathing. Ranjit plays with limitless energy, endless imagination, and total abandon. McLaughlin calls him “One of the leading edges of drumming.”

I really love how Ranjit plays the drums because he is a kit drummer and he knows all the classical Indian stuff but isn’t trying to make it sound Indian. He just uses it in kind of jazz or fusion kind of language. So if you just listen to it casually you wouldn’t even know it is Indian stuff, it would just sound like this intricate incredible stuff. But it being Indian, it makes me able to approach it that way or to understand it that way and integrate with it. So what comes out is not all Indian sounding but it elevates the jazz language to a much higher level. – Jonas Hellborg

Project Grand Slam – Spring Dance

The band’s new album on Cakewalk Records, Spring Dance, features nine tracks including five new tunes written by Robert Miller, plus two guest vocals by Joye Hennessey.

Project Grand Slam (PGS) was formed in 2007. Their debut album, Play (Cakewalk Records 2008), featured the Top radio hit “The Captain Of Her Heart” with internationally renowned guest vocalist Judie Tzuke. In addition, PGS and five of the tracks from Play were featured in an episode of the hit NBC-TV series, “Lipstick Jungle”, starring Brooke Shields.  Play received rave reviews and was nominated for several Grammys.

In Nov. 2011 PGS released their new version of the classic Hollies hit, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”, with Special Guest Vocals by Joye Hennessey. The song was dedicated by the band for the benefit of the victims of child abuse, relating to the Penn State University sexual abuse scandal.

The Very Best Of Thelonious Monk

The Very Best of Thelonious Monk includes ten tracks recorded between 1954 and 1957, mostly for Prestige and Riverside, but with one track from Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane, a 1957 album on Jazzland, a Riverside subsidiary label.

The sessions in this period, most of which were also produced by Keepnews, start after Monk’s obscure beginnings on Blue Note but predate his rise to fame on Columbia. The Prestige and Riverside dates capture the moment when, as Tesser tells us, he “began to earn the credit he deserved, as a bandleader, composer, and bebop innovator. He worked with a fairly wide roster of famous collaborators – among them trumpeters Thad Jones and Clark Terry, saxists Sonny Rollins and Coleman Hawkins, bassists Oscar Pettiford and Wilbur Ware, and three of bebop’s foundational drummers in Art Blakey, Roy Haynes, and Max Roach – and recorded in contexts ranging from unaccompanied piano to a ten-piece orchestra. It was clearly the most productive segment of his career.”

Although this collection primarily focuses on Monk’s compositions, which include such all-time classics as “Blue Monk,” “Ruby, My Dear,” and “‘Round Midnight,” it also includes selections from his first two Riverside albums that sought to present a more accessible Thelonious Monk to the public. “One of many things that I love about the Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington and The Unique Thelonious Monk albums – both of which featured Monk covering other artists’ compositions – was that each song he played sounded like it could have been written by him,” says Phillips. “He had a very distinctive approach to playing the piano and a rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic vocabulary all his own. So even when he played an Ellington tune or an old standard like ‘Honeysuckle Rose,’ it still sounded uniquely like Thelonious Monk.”

Find out more about Thelonious Monk

Jeff Logan – Black Tie Affair

Jeff Logan is an accomplished pianist, bassist, lead and rhythm guitar player, percussionist, and lead and background vocalist. And even though Jeff thoroughly enjoys performing live and jamming with other artists/musicians, he equally enjoys and thrives in the recording studio. He has often stated that he finds this process to be therapeutic because he is able to freely lose his inhibitions, during the process of creating a song from start to finish.

Jeff writes, arranges, produces and performs his original compositions on his self-owned record label-BASS-mint Records and owns his own publishing company-Alogn Publishing Company.

Danilo Perez – Providencia

Danilo Perez’s highly anticipated debut for Mack Avenue Records is absolutely stunning.Providenciacrosses streams of jazz, classical and Latin American folk music on 11 great compositions that spark the listener to connect with the creativity and social power of Perez’s musical conscience. In addition to his core trio-mates bassist Ben Street and drummer Adam Cruz, the award-winning pianist/composer is accompanied by such respected musicians as saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, percussionist Jamey Haddad, conguero Ernesto Diaz, vocalist Sara Serpa and a Boston-based woodwind quintet.

The set opens with “Daniela’s Chronicles,” which pays homage to Perez’s young daughter. The beauty and love inherent in this piece is deeply moving and suggests Perez’s commitment to musically depict her personality. By contrast, “Galactic Panama” is teeming with excitement as Mahanthappa’s intense saxophonics and Perez’s percussive pianism alongside Street and Cruz’s rhythmic forms gleaned from the tamborito (Panama’s national dance) incite you to submerge yourself into the dynamic feelings of this great song.

Perez continues his tribute to his homeland and the concept of global jazz by including a two-part chamber piece for woodwind quintet titled “Bridge of Life” and two tragic love compositions by Panamanian composers Carlo Eleta Almaran (“Historia de un Amor”) and Avelino Munoz’s lovely ballad (“Irremediablemente Solo”). A two-part composition titled “The Maze” concludes the set.

The duet between Perez and Mahanthappa features their muscular and jagged playing on “The Maze: The Beginning” and their tender and reflect feelings on “The Maze: The End.” It’s been a long time coming butProvidenciais definitely worth the wait.

Reprinted with permission of…

Patrick Simard – P.S. I Groove You

17-year-old drummer, vibist, and composer Patrick Simard is recognized for his extraordinary proficiency, contagious passion, outstanding versatility, and surprising maturity in his playing and his writing.

Raised in a small town east of Ottawa, Ontario, Patrick started playing the drumset at the age of 10. He studied a few years later with drumset teacher and author Chuck Burrows who firmly established his young protege with a solid musical and technical base, introducing him to the possibilities of all music genres, feeding his endless desire to learn.

At 15, Patrick taught himself to play the vibraphone. He also began writing music. At 16, Patrick was playing in clubs, bars, hotels, and a variety of venues playing styles varying from folk, rock, funk, to jazz.

After graduating high school with a 93% average, as well as many performance, composition, and academic awards. Now at 17, Patrick currently attends the Berklee College of Music in Boston on a scholarship, from where he will undoubtedly help shape the evolution of music in the years to come.

Amabutho – Sikelela

Sikelelais the eagerly anticipated debut album from these seven young men, who grew up in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Durban, and the dusty streets of the Johannesburg township of Soweto. Their name is taken from the term for a regiment of Zulu warriors, but Amabutho are, in fact, the gentlest of warriors. On Sikelela, they deliver a soulful message of peace and unity via the sweet sounds of marimba, percussion and effortless vocal harmonies.

Amabutho’s sound is built around the marimba. Most often described as a wooden variation of the xylophone, the marimba is a crucial component of many styles of South African music. In Amabutho’s skilled hands, it produces a sound that is simultaneously percussive and delightfully melodic. The group features lead, tenor and bass marimba players, augmented by conga drums, bass drums, djembe, shakers and cow bell.

Amabutho’s repertoire is called Imbube and Isicathamiya and is sung most prominently in Zulu. This art form originated from Southern African states who indulged in singing and dancing in the gold mine compounds around Johannesburg where they worked away from their homes and womenfolk.

On Sikelela, the group add a contemporary freshness to traditional South African music. Their original compositions (written by four different members) incorporate elements from Zulu, Xhosa and Tswana musical traditions. Lyrically, they deal with themes rooted in their daily reality, whether it be the crime that plagues their community, as on “Tsotsi (Gangster)”) or their spiritual faith, as on “Sikelela (Blessings). “That song is like a prayer, thanking Him for opening gates for us,” says Thabiso. The stirring message and uplifting music of “Theletsha Meropa (Listen To The Drums Of Africa)” possesses anthemic potential.

Ragabop Trio – Ragabop Trio

Drummer Steve Smith, saxophonist George Brooks and guitarist Prasanna are the Ragabop Trio. Their self-titled debut recording for Abstract Logix is comprised of original songs written by its members who express their visions with a focus on groove, atmosphere and harmonic adventures.With jazz as their foundation, the highly talented trio moves through 9 great tracks with prolific and diverse rhythms, riffs and melodies.

The set opens with Prasanna’s up-tempo jazz-inspired composition titled “Tug of War.” The song defines the sound of the Raga Bop Trio with its unifying East/West blend.Prasanna’s Carnatic semi-tone slides (a feat in itself considering the ancient form is rarely played on electric guitar), George Brooks’ bluesy alto saxophone, and Smith’s approach to his drum set makes this song a real keeper. “Miss Oma” and “Love and Hunger” were written by Brooks with the former being a nod tojazz calypso, as well as to the African and Indian cultures found on the island of Trinidad.

The Euro-jazz and pattern-based modal improvisations heard on “Love and Hunger,” are a testament to Brooks’ rich alto tones and Prasanna’s dynamic accompaniment skills. Smith’s amazing talents are boldly stated on “Ironically,” where his drum solo is doubled using konnakol (south Indian rhythmic vocal syllables) while on “The Geometry of Rap,” Smith uses konnakol over a funk groove with Brooks and Prasanna providing melodic and atmospheric comping.

The first collaboration of these multi-talented musical titans is a brilliant demonstration of their creative processes and expertise in north Indian Hindustani music, south Indian Carnatic music, and the U.S.A. jazz/groove concepts. Ragabop Trio is highly recommended.

Reprinted with permission of…

Michael C. Lewis – Reflection

In his new CD Reflection Lewis worked with Grammy Winning Engineer Jeff Jones (best contemporary blues record) and Wendell Brooks. He has created an intimate and intense experience where the listener can hear the spirituality and sensuality of the Michael C. Lewis expression, with an intellectual edge to it that makes it “fresh but familiar.” Michael says, ” I am excited to step out as a solo artist and to meet people who enjoy my music.” Like the beginning of a day Lewis’ CD begins with “Reflection (Sunrise)” a wonderfully contemplative opening that evokes visions of sunlight beaming through the window welcoming you to life and its beauty.

“Gulf Breeze” is a bouncy track that glides along with Lewis’ full bodied and inviting tone soulfully providing harmonic interest and intriguing lines. Alva Nelson (piano) and Wendell Brooks (drum programming) create aterrific interaction and interesting rhythmic patterns for Lewis to build upon.

“I Need Your Love” is built upon R&B sensualities, Lewis and Brooks provide a rich vocal pad echoing a well blended transparency of the song’s title. Lewis showcases his abilities with quick lines and well placed long note passages, reflecting the many sides of his technique.

“I Dedicate My Heart,” begins with a Miles Davis influenced muted horn, joined by a driving funky groove provided by Wendell Brooks. Lewis is featured on vocals. What is so pleasing about this cut is the fact that Lewis has a robust masculine voice which is rarely heard in the male vocal genre. The lyrics are well-crafted and meaningful, providing a nice texture transition in the release.

“Nightfall” signals the next mood change of the album, transitioning the listener to the romantic sights and sounds the evening might bring.

“Miles to Go,” is a hip and funky cut, signaling the nighttime is in full gear. Its spicy, funky and a bit of house mixed into one gumbo, that leaves a satisfying flavor of fun and hipster all in one bite.

“Reflection (Sunset)” signals the end to a full journey of musical delights and sounds. Lewis and Brooks together offer a soothing cut that leaves the listener calm, relaxed and ready to wind down for a reflective sleep.

Each track has its own unique voice and emotional offering. Whether the listener desires a reflective moment or wants to get their groove on “Reflection” as a complete works offers many textural sonic palettes to offset any gathering or moment of the day. Together, Lewis, Brooks and Jones have created a complete collection of contemporary offering.

What is uniquely different about this CD is the textural changes, moods and transitions each cut takes the listener through, making this a stand out release from a production, execution and performance standpoint. Lewis is a fresh voice in the contemporary music world that is sure to please the listener expecting more. Simply put; its worth the listen.

Fourplay – Lets Touch the Sky

2010 – Heads Up

Sometimes you have to shake things up, push a little farther, reach a little higher – even when you’re a contemporary jazz foursome that’s been operating at the top of its collective game for two decades.
After twenty years and a dozen albums, in an industry that has undergone sweeping transformations in the past decade, Fourplay knows that the only thing that’s certain, in music or any other business, is change. The latest proof of that axiom is the new face in their lineup – that of guitarist Chuck Loeb, who makes his compelling debut with the quartet on Let’s Touch The Sky, the band’s new recording on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group.

Loeb completes the four-man crew that also includes the band’s founding members: keyboardist Bob James, bassist/vocalist Nathan East and drummer/percussionist Harvey Mason. Let’s Touch The Sky also includes stirring performances by guest vocalists Anita Baker and Ruben Studdard.

The infusion of new blood into the Fourplay lineup creates an opportunity to bring an even newer level of energy and inspiration into a band that is already known for taking chances and pushing the limits of contemporary jazz. “All four of us have been in this business long enough to know that there’s always pressure to compromise, and we don’t want to do that,” says James. “We don’t want to end up in the middle of the pack. We always aim to be leaders, and take the music to another level and raise the standards higher. I think the music on this new record, thanks in large part to Chuck’s early contributions – and to the ongoing team spirit of the band as a whole – is very much a reflection of that philosophy.”

Loeb, who openly admits to being a fan of Fourplay since their earliest recordings, sees his new membership status as the opportunity of a lifetime. “I want to be a part of the legacy they’ve built, going all the way back to their first recording and right up to their most recent one,” he says. “There’s been an incredible level of quality in the musicianship, the writing, the whole sonic palette that they’re famous for. I’m excited to be a part of the next step in the evolution of all that.”

Guest vocalists Ruben Studdard and Anita Baker appear on the soulful “Love TKO” and the dreamlike “You’re My Thrill,” respectively. Studdard was recruited by East, after the two had appeared together in a live performance in Washington, DC. “They were filming a television special,” East recalls. “There was a break to reload the cameras, and I just started playing the bass line of ‘Love TKO.’ Ruben stepped up to the microphone to sing, and everyone in the room just stopped. I knew right then that we needed to have him sing this song on a Fourplay record, and when we asked him, he was very much up for it. The whole thing just came together so easily.”
Mason, who has held down the groove for Fourplay since the very beginning, says time has done nothing to dull the edge. The band continues to explore new ways to reach for the next level of musicianship and creativity. “Let’s Touch The Sky is the perfect title for where we are right now,” he says. “In some ways, bringing someone new into the fold has made us a new band. It opens up new opportunities and new potential, and we want to see how high we can take it.”

DMS – Live in Portland – Duke – Miller – Sanborn

Performing under the moniker DMS, George Duke, Marcus Miller and David Sanborn are bringing their masterful blend of talent, skilland… well, more talent to your town. If you get a chance to go, be sure and attend this wonderful, musical, jamming party. Accompanied by a drummer and keyboardist the three jazz masters put on a short, but intense, show at the Roseland in Portland. Not too short, but I’d have liked to hear another few hours.

Covering tracks written by all three artists, sometime written for one another, the group performed favorites like the Clark/Duke project bestseller “Sweet Baby”, Miles Davis’ “Tutu” and Sanborn hits “Lisa” and “Chicago Song”.

David sanborn started out in the ‘leader’ role, but that baton was passed around every few songs. Sanborn’s playing was energetic and right on the lick every time. At one point (the end after the end when they came back) he even sang the words while performing the hip-hop hit “Doin’ the Butt.’ Yeah, they finished with a totally non-jazz song, but the crowd was completely owned by that point.

Marcus Miller was at his extra funkiest for the small but appreciative crowd. Some argue about who the best living bass player is, but there is no doubt that Marcus Miller is the Funkiest bass player on the planet, and he showed his stuff whether carrying the bottom with his bass or out front playing bass clarinet on “Cobra.” At one point he morphed from a Sanborn tune tosome classicParliament and the crowd followed along, then he dropped right back into the tune on the mark.I gotta mention ‘Tutu” again because that was the major track of the night with Marcus popping and playing his bass over Sanborn horn licks and Duke’s snapping keys. The crowd went wild every time Miller soloed, working that bass till it growled and poppedwith pleasure and funk.(Marcus is the baddest bass player alive if you ask me.)

George Duke is a character. When the spotlight rolled his way on the slow tracks his keyboard danced and dazzled. When he was out front doing a call and answer with the crowd on the ultra-phatt “Dukey Stick” he was at his peak, smiling and dancing and kicking the Dukey out of the crowd. In places George was straining to hit his falsetto tracks, but knew when to try and when to do the falsetto parts in his singing voice. Crowd didn’t seem to notice or mind the variation. It ishard to overstate how good George Duke is in concert, playing the lead or playing off another’s lead. Whatever you have heard about his performances, he’s better.

These three guys are responsible for HUNDREDS of hit songs over the last 15 years, as well as a number of TV themes and movie soundtracks. If they come within 100 miles of YOUR town, you should go. Best concert I’ve been to in the last 10 years.

Lutalo (Sweet Lu) Olutosin – Tribute to Greatness

Lutalo Olutosin [pronounced O-la-TO-sin] was born in East Chicago, Indiana. Raised during early life in Gary, Indiana, Lutalo (Lu) moved to the South East in the mid 1970’s. Influenced heavily by a family filled with Gospel singers and musicians, he followed suit until hearing an Al Jarreau song on the radio. Everything changed, especially his approach to listening, judging, and singing the music that inspired him.

During a career in the US Military that was sprinkled with performances in Jazz, as well as R&B bands and musical stage productions, across the South Eastern US, he embarked on a solo career in 2002. Convinced by the respectful nods of major jazz critics and musicians attending his performances, Lu knew he had something special. As fate would reveal itself, a tremendously talented quartet of musicians agreed with Lu’s assessment and the “Sweet Lu Quintet” was formed in 2008.

Lu brings a Soulful and Dynamic energy to every song that is nothing less than hypnotically mesmerizing. While developing his own style of delivery to Jazz standards, the influences of great artist like Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, Al Jarreau and Eddie Jefferson resonate comfortably in his smooth rich multi-octave voice.

In his freshman release, Tribute To Greatness, he teams up with jazz pianist and producer Louis Heriveaux, bassist Kevin Smith, saxophonist Winfield Gaylor, and composer/arranger Henry Connerway III on drums. “We had so much fun putting this project together it was like magic….as if every note and lyric had a special significance to each one of us.”

Fernandez & Wright – Unsung

This collaboration was no accident. After performing one song together at a charity event in Melbourne Australia in 2004, Vanessa Fernandez and Steve Wright began a musical journey which would give birth to the stunning debut release Unsung.

Australian singer/ songwriter Vanessa Fernandez was born in London in 1976 and settled in Australia in 1982. She attributes her success and understanding of music and voice to her dad’s jazz and pop record collection and the classical piano tuition she received as a teenager. The first album Vanessa remembers hearing was the Police’s Zenyata Mondata (she was age 5). Vanessa’s approach to singing has been influenced by vocalists: Sade, Randy Crawford, Sarah Vaughn, Chaka Khan, Astrid Gilberto and Australian singer Kate Ceberano.

Australian guitarist/ songwriter Steve Wright, was born in Cape Town in 1970 and migrated to Australia in 1982. The first album he remembers hearing was Paul McCartney’s Wings (he was 4 years old). Growing up Steve was exposed to his dad’s collection of guitar-based music and by age 12 he was playing Shadows and Beatles tunes at home with his dad and sister. He had his first formal guitar lesson in his late 20s with classical guitar teacher Jochen Schubert. Steve’s approach to playing has been influenced by guitarists such as: George Benson, Steve Lukather, Pat Metheny, Ralph Towner, Wes Montgomery, Baden Powell and Melbourne-based guitarist Doug DeVries.

Vanessa and Steve thrive on music that speaks to the soul and not surprisingly share many common influences. These include masters of groove-based jazz and pop: George Benson, Al Jarreau, The Dobbie Brothers and D’Angelo; blues-based greats Eric Clapton and John Mayer; the king of bossa nova, Antonio Carlos Jobim; and music super stars Sting and Stevie Wonder.

Jenny Davis – Inside You

Highly respected by critics and a favorite of audiences, Jenny Davis is an authentic jazz vocalist whose traditional approach to the standards demonstrates her deep-rooted commitment to the art of jazz and swing. A passionate steward of straight-ahead jazz, Davis combines clear, lush vocals and sophisticated phrasing to bring the listener inside her soulful journey. Whether improvising over Charlie Parker, or delivering the composer’s heart of a haunting ballad, her commitment to the art form is never more evident than in her third, and newest CD release of INSIDE YOU.

The release of INSIDE YOU includes some compelling originals and little known tracks drawn from some of the best jazz composers. “The intimacy of guitar and bass allowed me the freedom to get fully inside the honesty of the music” Jenny explains. “It just felt like a natural evolution, after 15 years of working together, for (guitarist) Chuck Easton and I to finally record these tunes.” They added veteran bass Ted Enderle and San Francisco tenor sax, Louis Aissen, which earned them a full standing ovation at their CD release performance in January 2010. “The instrumental combination with these specific tunes, just created an honesty that I was searching for and the audience has been responding to it”, Jenny added. Internationally renowned composer, RODGERS GRANT, contributed with his sultry ballad, “MORNING GLORY,” while Davis displays her commitment to jazz with her deeply personal composition and title track; “INSIDE YOU.”

A Seattle native, Jenny is a Cornish college of the Arts graduate and recipient of the Maggie Hawthorne scholarship. She actively performs throughout the Pacific Northwest at clubs, festivals and jazz venues with such jazz staples as Randy Halberstadt, Chuck Easton, Chuck Deardorf, Chris Symer, John Hansen, Ted Enderle and San Francisco tenor sax player, Louis Aissen. “

Jazz Folk – Jazz in the Stone Age

Peter Scherr is an American bassist/composer/ musical strategist living in Hong Kong.

He has over 20 years professional experience ranging from positions with symphony orchestras through jazz and experimental music performance and composition. Mr. Scherr has performed and recorded with leading creative musicians such as his brother Tony Scherr, Jenny Scheinman, Jim Black, Briggan Krauss, Allison Miller, Joe Rosenberg, Matt McMahon, Simon Barker and many others.

Mr. Scherr pursues musical excellence and inspiration in areas of unique interest. His current focus is the realization of creative music concepts. One of his long-term goals is the establishment of a common practice of creative music in China, drawing on the talent of the most interesting improvisers from around the world.

MJ Territo – Down With Love

The path may have been deliciously circuitous, but my lifelong love of and involvement in jazz has led me to a great point-working as a jazz singer and releasing my first CD.

From earliest childhood, I studied music and dance, and as a teenager won a dance scholarship to Ramblerny, an arts camp in New Hope, PA. Ramblerny also had a jazz program, run by saxophonist Phil Woods. That summer I finally had a name to put to the music my mother, who was a classical pianist and piano teacher, listened to while she was ironing. I really dug what I heard that summer-the tunes, the improvisation, the passion of the jazz students. When I wasn’t dancing, I was hanging out with the jazz kids, taking a jazz singing workshop I hadn’t expected to take, and noodling on the piano in the jazz band rehearsal space, nicknamed the Birds’ Nest. I’d always spent a lot of time at the piano, playing purely improvised music instead of practicing Chopin. Now I had a context for my improvising.

After high school, I left Trenton, NJ for the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where I earned an academic degree, but kept singing, dancing, and acting, too. And listening to jazz. After graduation I headed to New York City, where I’d always dreamed of living. I became a cabaret singer, actress, and musical comedy performer. I was also a student of jazz vocals with Janet Lawson. To pay the rent regularly, I had a parallel career in the publishing business as a freelance editor. One of my clients was Judy Sullivan, editor-in-chief of a line of romance novels. Due to late delivery of an unsatisfactory manuscript, Judy had a hole in her schedule. She told me I’d be writing the book to fill it, then plunked me down in an unused cubicle, and said she’d send in coffee and sandwiches. I turned on the typewriter and the jazz radio station. Three weeks later, the book was done, and my career as a writer was launched. For several years, I wrote romance novels under a variety of pseudonyms, as well as non-fiction collaborations, primarily in the fields of health and psychology.

While I was writing, I fell in love with and married Richard Fursland, a transplanted Brit. Eager to have our own front door and a patch of grass, we moved north to Yonkers. In a couple of years our daughter Emma was born. I finished my outstanding writing commitments and settled down to Momhood. When Emma was about three, I took her to a music and movement program for young children, Music Together

Annie Kozuch – Here With You

Annie Kozuch [pronounced Ko’ zuk] was raised in Mexico City, Mexico. After seeing her first professional show at the age of six, she knew she wanted to perform. She sat in on her siblings’ guitar lessons and although she was too young to hold the guitar, she learned to sing all the boleros and mariachis. Encouraged by her parents to “do what makes you happy” she furthered her passion for acting and singing by training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (R.A.D.A.), London, and graduated from Mills College, CA, with a B.A. in Dramatic Arts. After a few years in San Francisco, she moved to New York City.

Ms. Kozuch enjoys a successful broad-based career. Whether in plays, in film or on TV, Ms. Kozuch brings emotional depth and sharp delivery to every role she takes. Reviewers have called her soprano voice “pure” and effortless” and have pointed out that “she acts every tune as well as she sings them.” She has been called a “smart, smart blond” for her ability to find the wit and insight in lyrics.

Her singing repertoire has landed her acclaimed Broadway Pops performances, including Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Tokyo City Symphony Orchestra, New Haven Symphony Orchestra, and Natchez Opera Festival – An Evening of Jazz. In her new release, Here With You, she teamed up with jazz pianist Frank Ponzio and producer Jose Gallegos who bridged her love of the American Songbook with their Jazz and Latin backgrounds. “I found myself going back to all these wonderful jazz standards, boleros and bossa nova. The music and lyrics are authentic and timeless.”

John L. Holmes – The Holmes Stretch

John L. Holmes was born in Walla Walla, WA in 1950. He began classical guitar instruction at the age of nine and played his first recital at twelve. Since then he has taught himself to play many different styles such as: blues, rock, folk, jazz, free jazz and Latin jazz. He has played professionally since he was 13 years old.

Holmes attended Whitman College, San Francisco Art Institute and Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn, NY. He received a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute. At Whitman, while attending a Jazz history class, Holmes met visiting professor, Downbeat writer and musician, Bill Cole. Bill was able to put together a performance with students and some great musicians, such as Jimmy Garrison, Ed Blackwell, Sam Rivers and others. This was when “free music,” challenged the conventions of the establishment. The experience of getting to meet these musicians and play in this context was a profound inspiration for Holmes.

In the early 1970’s he took a year off from Whitman to teach English in Bogota, Colombia, where he and his wife, Patsy, worked and traveled as far south as Macchu Picchu, Peru. These experiences were pivotal in his approach to music composition. The influence of the Andean people as well as the ubiquitous cumbias, mambos, and folkloric festival became an integral part of his life. These elements are in evidence throughout his latest CD, The Holmes Stretch.

After returning to Whitman College, Holmes began to focus on art and music to the point that a move away from Whitman was necessary and Holmes moved to San Francisco to attend the Art Institute. It was there that he met artist and guitarist, Takeshi Nakayoshi. This resulted in a long standing friendship and many recordings (all unpublished) and performances in the Bay Area, not just as a duet, but also often with larger improvisational ensembles. Holmes also recorded and gigged with Bob Drew (a local saxophonist who had played with Cannonball Adderly).

After experiencing city life in San Francisco and Brooklyn, NY, the couple decided to rural Walla Walla in 1977, John began collaboration with his old friend and poet, Larry Leier. With original words and music they played as a duet at the Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle. They then recorded with bassist E.J. Dickerson and percussionist Glenn Ayers (a former native who returned after an extensive career in Seattle). They released a “45” under the band name, “Jazzmen Tea.”

Holmes then recorded and performed with the Walla Walla group, “Non-Stop,” featuring the compositions of Mike Friedman and Holmes, and recorded in Hawaii with the group, “Hooves,” which featured the compositions and performances of Holmes and multi-instrumentalist Paul Noel. In 2007 Holmes released, Listening for a Vision, with the trio “Myth America,” featuring the latest words and music of Leier, Ayers and Holmes.

Holmes has spent much of his recent time recording his original compositions and performing with the group, environs and various other groups in Walla Walla. Currently Holmes and Glenn Ayers have co-produced and released a CD of Holmes’ original music entitled, The Holmes Stretch. Featuring Ayers on drums and percussion, Seattle bassist, Steve Kim, nationally known trombonist and Whitman professor, Dave Glenn and a strong contingent of “los amigos,” on the side.

The Alex Levin Trio – New York Portraits

Originally from Philadelphia, Alex Levin has performed in Philadelphia and New York as a leader and a sideman for almost two decades. After studying at The New School with teacher Gary Dial, he transferred and graduated from Brown University in 1998 with a degree in English Literature. From 1998-2001 he lived in Berlin, Germany, where he started his first quartet, The Living Room. The popular band played at numerous clubs and festivals throughout Germany, and gained notoriety for unique interpretations of pop songs by the likes of Bjork and Tom Waits.

Alex has played with multiple vocalists and instrumentalists since returning to New York in 2001. He has appeared at countless upscale venues throughout the city. On occasion, you can also find Alex and his trio performing at smaller jazz clubs in the village and Brooklyn. He has composed numerous pieces, and has arranged music for top vocalists, including the brilliant Paulette McWilliams.

Alex released his first CD of trio music, Night and Distance, in April of 2005. His first run of his CDs sold out within eight months of its release. In October, 2006, he released his second CD, A Reason for Being Alone featuring his own compositions and an expanded lineup of musicians, including saxophonists Stacy Dillard and Max Hacker, and cellist William Martina. His composition “Your Call” was heard in the 2005 film “Parkstories.” In addition, “New Schooled” has been licensed by MTV, and “Emma’s Ennui” from the same CD has been downloaded 8540 times at All About Jazz.com. Levin’s jazz writing has been published in The Saint Ann’s Review. In the summer of 2006, Alex was invited to play as part of the Jazz Composer’s Forum in Asheville, North Carolina, where he presented a special concert of original music.

In 2008, Alex’s trio was invited to be the artist in residence at Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English. Since then, he has been playing weekly gigs at Manhattan Youth Downtown Community Center in Tribecca, where he and his trio perform all-ages shows every Friday evening to a loyal audience ranging in age from 1-80. Originally the band was hired for a month-long residency at the Community Center, but that contract was extended and continues to this day. Always eager to pass along the jazz tradition, Alex invites students under 16 to sit in with the band for a song or two. Besides his gigs at the Community Center, Alex performs regular gigs as a sideman with vocalist Chris Staffel at Bistro Citron on the Upper West Side, and at Abigail’s in Brooklyn as an accompanist to saxophonist Tina Richarson.

His latest release, New York Portraits already released in Japan and scheduled for an American release in October of 2010, has maintained a top 5 slot in sales with a recent ascent to the #1 spot, quickly selling out each week since shipping to Asia.

Alekos Galas – Mediterranean Breeze

A dream realized through tradition and vision….Master Bouzouki artist, Alekos Galas came from humble beginnings, but his visionary dreams have brought his traditional instrument to new heights. Alex ‘Alekos’ Galas was born in San Francisco, California. His mother and father were Greek immigrants to the U.S.; his mother immigrated in 1948 and his father in 1952.

As far back as he can remember Alekos wanted to be a musician and to perform in front of an audience. Galas explains, “Kids 4-5 years of age pretend and imagine different fantasies; I always pretended that I had a stringed instrument in my hands, moving my fingers and imagining large crowds applauding. The day the instrument ended up in my hands was the providential event of my life. While playing ‘Hide-and-Seek’ at eight years old, during a visit with a relative, I hid in the closet where there, seemingly staring at me, was a Bouzouki. I put the instrument in my hands and started to pluck the strings. The sound fascinated me and as I took it out of the closet to explore the sounds, my uncle, the owner of the bouzouki confronted me. I thought I was in trouble like most mischievous kids, touching what did not belong to me. Instead, he simply asked me if I liked the instrument. I replied, ‘Yes, very much!’ Seeing that I was in awe with the Bouzouki, he then said, ‘OK Alex, I want you to have it.’ From that day forward, my life changed forever. When I often look back and think about that day, I believe that it was “written in my life destiny” and was definitely meant to be. As a performer, I am always asked the question, ‘Why did you choose the Bouzouki?’ My reply: ‘I didn’t choose the Bouzouki, it chose me.’ ”

As a youth, Galas played and practiced the Bouzouki for hours upon hours, learning by ear to play television show and movie themes, music from the radio, and of course, the traditional music of Greece. Alekos reminisces, “On one summer day, after practicing the entire day, it was getting late and my father asked me to stop since he and my mother were ready to turn in for the night. I asked permission to go to the garage in order to continue playing. Finally, I became tired and decided I’d better go to bed. To my great surprise, when I looked out the window, it was sunrise!” To this day, Alekos has the same passion about his instrument.

It was becoming increasingly apparent that Alekos had found his destiny. Aware of his talent, his father bought records of Bouzouki artists and Alekos would learn note for note the many instrumental pieces. Galas’ father was very proud of him and at the age of eleven, he bought a Bouzouki that cost $600; very expensive for those years and considering the family was not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination.

Alekos continued to hone his skills as a youngster. His father (mentor and guide) could tell his son was ready to become a true performing musician. He knew to embark on this journey Alex would have to perform live in front of audiences. His father would take him to Greek night-clubs that showcased Bouzouki artists. Mr. Galas would speak to the owners of clubs and venues on his son’s behalf to arrange performances with the various groups. Galas remembers vividly, the first time he performed on a professional stage at a night-club when he was 11 years old. “Performing together with a professional band, I played several Bouzouki instrumentals with no mistakes and as if I had rehearsed with them. I also remember not being shy performing in front of the audience. It seemed so natural. I would perform as a featured soloist at many various venues, for large and small crowds at different events, and performing at Colleges and High Schools as well. When I was 14, I performed at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium (now called the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium) in front of 7,000 people for the event, ‘International Day’ that featured Arthur Fiedler conducting the San Francisco Pops Orchestra. This performance featured several ethnic groups performing music from their respective countries such as: Spain, Italy, Germany, and Poland. My group represented Greece and to my thrill, I played the exciting Bouzouki piece ‘Zorba the Greek,’ receiving a resounding applause. ”

It was at 17, Galas began his professional musical career performing in major cities all over the United States and Canada. This spanned over 4 decades and included many concert appearances at Performing Art Centers and Concert Halls. Through the years, Galas recorded and featured the Bouzouki for many artists in the Greek music genre, as well as successfully crossing over into other genres of music, recording for different World Music projects, jazz fusion, and for pop & smooth jazz artists. He was privileged when asked by record producer and composer, Steve Wood, who has written the music scores for over 30 IMAX films, to play Bouzouki for the IMAX FILM, “GREECE: SECRETS OF THE PAST.” The soundtrack ended up winning the GSCA Award for best film score of 2006.

Throughout his musical career, Galas has performed with top musicians and recorded for music projects of many genres. MEDITERRANEAN BREEZE is a project that is a culmination of experiences and ideas he has wanted to release for some time. His compositions are from his heart and soul; a musical expression of beauty, human emotions, and love. Music is his life, and for that reason, the compositions and performances of Alekos Galas undoubtedly reflect the passion and creativity of his life-long journey to not only bring his music to the masses, but to also infuse other genres with the beautiful sounds of the Bouzouki, which is clearly exhibited in his latest release, MEDITERRANEAN BREEZE.

Jennifer Zarine – Fresh Made Cuppa Tea

An eclectic mix of rare, timeless jazz standards and classic rock songs with a fresh jazzy twist, all tied together to create a vintage sound! Inspired by love for her family, friends and tea, Jennifer Zarine manages to blend classic romance with a mysterious quirk!

“Orange Colored Sky” kicks off the disc with a fun flavored classic in a swingin’ style, that is in keeping with the spirit it was written in, by composer’s Milton DeLugg and Willie Stein, published in 1950. The best-known version of the song was recorded by Nat King Cole (with Stan Kenton’s orchestra). Zarine’s version has a retro-authenticity that gives the treatment an apparent charm.

“Have a Cuppa Tea,” a Ray Davies original made famous by the Kinks, opens with a whistling tea pot; enter Zarine, who playfully takes us on a journey explaining the importance of fun with tea. Not only is tea a cure all, but Zarine’s interpretation of the well-crafted and witty lyrics prove the theory, if your foot is not tapping by now, you are a true HUM-BUG! and need to turn up your FUN-DIAL.

“Paint it Black,” written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, is a mainstay Rolling Stones classic. Zarine gives this childhood favorite a complete facelift, creating a modern day sound that is warm, inviting and reminiscent of a Norah Jones recording.

“Sleep” is a Zarine original, filled with visions of far away places, and dreams of tomorrows. Zarine calls a surreal lullaby onto the sonic canvas, with dashes of color splashed throughout to transport the listener to a place of relaxation and serenity.

The last cut on the disc is, “That’s All,” an intimate duet rendition featuring Zarine and guitarist Eric Lindberg. This arrangement gives the listener the chance to experience Zarine in an exposed organic setting, allowing the song to have a chance to breath and Zarine’s vocals the opportunity to touch your heart.

Zarine has captured the essence of a timeless recording with an air of yesterday laced throughout, instantly giving you the feeling of being transported to another time. Fresh Made Cuppa Tea is a collection of fun, exuberant, touching and witty songs that are at times quirky, at times serious, and most of all, just plain fun. So grab a freshly made cupper and Zarine’s new CD, it’s the perfect anti-dote guaranteed to be just the right ingredient needed to spice up your day! Drink it in!!

Jackson Garrett – Speechless

Speechless marks a continued journey for composer Jackson Garrett, featuring his well-crafted compositions with the horn section arranged by Marty Steele.

Speechless contains 12 original works ranging in style from Motown-infused jazz to traditional ensemble swing, Blues and Latin tinged pieces all performed by Steve Madaio (trumpet), Kenny Meier trombone), Pat Rizzo (sax), Steve Neilen (drums), John Pagels (guitar), Marty Steele (piano), and Jeff Stover (bass).

“Just One More Time” begins the journey introducing a light-hearted contemporary feel, featuring saxophonist Pat Rizzo who has a big tone reminiscent of Sam Butera. Pianist Marty Steele aptly weaves 16th note lines through the harmony and horn backgrounds, the interaction between the horn section and piano lifts to a nice crescendo with jabbing lines before ending the piece with a long note voicing.

“Kisses All Around” begins with a piano cadenza coupled with a driving bass line that parlays into a bossanova; each texture change creates interest in the piece. Trumpeter Steve Madaio is featured on this track and his tone is inviting and welcomes the listener to delve deeper into this Latin expedition.

“Downtown with You” starts off with a bluesy gospel intro followed by tight horn punches and again Madaio showing his stuff by strutting his greasy side on trumpet. This track features interesting melodies and backgrounds. Drummer Steve Neilen lays down a solid rhythmic pad to give this track the slinky sexuality the blues genre is best known for.

Speechless ends with a traditional swing featuring Big Band shout lines and guitarist John Pagels providing chunk chords ala Freddy Green. The track is a swingin’ and foot tappin’ jazz cut perfect for any traditional aficionado who likes it with a bit of edge. During Pagels’ solo, he turns up his Santana dial and heats up the swing all while the ensemble keeps it swingin’.

Speechless offers a diversity of styles in jazz with the main ingredients being a danceable beat and great writing. Composer Jackson Garrett has put together a pleasing collection that will complement any jazz collection.

Jonathan Butler – So Strong

Jonathan Butler knows a thing or two about playing the guitar…and we’re not talking about air guitar! On SO STRONG, his 15th solo recording, Butler comes through with 12 great songs that speak fun, flavor and feeling. The songs reflect Butler’s romantic side, his passionate side and his fun side and once you listen to “Factual,””Feels So Good,” and “Good Times,” you’ll hear for yourself that Butler is exactly what this CD is about – being strong.

He makes that special light turn on for you when you hear “So Strong,” his heartfelt rendering of the pain, sorrow and personal loss that he has endured recently. Joined by special guests Rick Braun, Dave Koz, Michael Lington, and Angie Stone, such songs as “Feels So Good,” “Make Room For Me,” and “Be Here With You,” wipe away the darker side of life and uplift you with a get-up-and-dance feel good rhythms. Butler’s guitar chops are all good and this is definitely one of his best recordings to date.

Reprinted with permission of…

The Jazz Passengers – Reunited

Justin Time Records announces the North American release of Reunited, the new recording by The Jazz Passengers, and its first recording in 12 years. The recording, positively blasting with energy, features the venerable NYC-based ensemble in its original incarnation, with guitarist Marc Ribot (re) joining members Roy Nathanson, Curtis Fowlkes, Brad Jones, Bill Ware, Sam Bardfeld and E.J. Rodriguez for what is not only an undeniably strong record, but arguably the acclaimed group’s best work.

The recording is proof that despite the group’s association with illustrious guests on past recordings and tours (two of whom, Elvis Costello and Debbie Harry, appear on this new work), The Jazz Passengers are a band, and Reunited is a testament to their extraordinary chemistry. This magic can only exist when musicians enjoy a nearly indescribable intuition, coupled with the cohesiveness that comes with longevity. Happily, Jon Pareles’ writing (see above intro) is as true today as the day he wrote it twenty-two years ago.

The infectious onstage witty repartee and undeniable joie de vivre of The Jazz Passengers has perhaps contributed to a perception of the group being less than serious. If ever there was a recording to dispel this false notion, it is Reunited. Here is a serious work that is also highly accessible – and wasn’t jazz supposed to be like this? Reunited, as with all past Passengers recordings, features a blend of group vocals as well as showcased guest vocals, with trombonist Fowlkes leading the way. Along with Grady Tate, he’s got to be one of the best instrumentalists that also possess a killer voice.

“Button Up”is an energetic R&B romp that features Fowlkes on lead with the whole group on ensemble vocals, and it also features some great playing from violinist Bardfeld and guitarist Ribot. “National Anthem” starts as a quiet duo between Fowlkes and Nathanson, then stretches into a completely unpredictable group workout, complete with surf and psychedelic guitar riffs punctuated by sharp, percussive ensemble horn charts. “Tell Me” is a pretty ballad that features great percussion from Rodriguez and lovely trombone licks from Fowlkes, who also provides the vocal. Bill Ware’s vibes are also wonderfully evocative, and in fact hard to single out in any song, so integral they are to the Passengers’ sound.
It could be said that Reunited is jazz chamber music in the same way that Ellington’s music was, as the solos are short, making the proceedings full of intricate ensemble work. The music has its own particular landscape, giving the players the confidence to step out. It’s a sound that’s uniquely their own, yet there is a precedent: think of the way James Brown made his horns part of the rhythm section. It’s also unfailingly diverse, changing as a film does, from scene to scene, with moments of bombast (check out two minutes into “National Anthem”) to the intimate, unpretentious poetry they make of the title track, a #1 hit for Peaches & Herb in 1979.

While Herb has remained a constant in the chart-topping group since its creation, no less than six consecutive women have filled the role of “Peaches.” Hilariously, Fowlkes sings Peaches’ part here (after Nathanson recites the first verse spoken word), effectively crowning him the seventh “Peaches” and the first (known) male one. In all seriousness, the Passengers’ reading is both funny (listen to Ribot’s trick bag here) yet surprisingly poignant. Ribot, a jazz/rock icon in his own right (his contributions to recordings by Tom Waits, John Zorn, Lou Reed and Marianne Faithfull are nearly unimaginable without him), plays his heart out on the album’s first six tracks, with excitingly dissonant yet somehow elegant riffs that are as good as anything he’s committed to disc.

In most jazz groups, the lyrics are not written by its own members, but here we have one of rock’s greatest lyricists (Elvis Costello) singing the album’s first composition, yet it’s not his own work – it’s Roy Nathanson’s composition “Wind Walked By.” The two are great friends, and Costello has contributed to past Passengers records, including Individually Twisted (1996), on which he did co-write, with bassist Brad Jones, the song “Aubergine.” Costello’s performance here is lovely and languid; it’s Nathanson’s reflection on the new depression (“I was afraid we wouldn’t get this record out before the financial crunch was over!” adds the composer and saxophonist). Costello has always sung uncannily in tune, and this is no exception. It’s also got some incredibly tricky intervals, yet the former Declan MacManus sails through without a hitch.

Guest vocal tracks bookend the record, starting with Elvis and ending with two bonus tracks featuring “The Baroness” – as they call her eminence, Debbie Harry – on vocals. Again, it’s testament to her close relationship with the Passengers that she unhesitatingly allowed their inclusion. For years, the rock icon has both performed live and recorded with the Passengers, allowing her the artistic freedom and great fun necessary to keep sane. Here, she has great fun with bassist Brad Jones’ “Think Of Me” as well as her own song “One Way Or Another,” a worldwide hit for Blondie, culminating in Harry imploring the guys to join her on vocals.

Reunited is – as you may have guessed – a play on words. In naming their album after the Peaches & Herb hit, The Jazz Passengers are in fact addressing a number of things: the return of original guitarist Marc Ribot; the life-affirming fact that it’s their first record in a dozen years; and the obviously renewed vigour that any ensemble feels when they reunite after time off, and find that not only does it still work, but that sparks fly!

The Bad Plus – Never Stop

Recorded in Minnesota, NEVER STOP does just what the title says. It’s a rapid-fire succession of engaging performances by three musical explorers operating as highly skilled individuals — bassist Reid Anderson, pianist Ethan Iverson and drummer David King — and as a seamless unit at the same time. NEVER STOP is a strictly instrumental affair and, as a result, is a 180º departure from the group’s previous release, For All I Care, which featured alt-rock vocalist Wendy Lewis on covers of rock classics, along with re-imaginings of 20th Century classical compositions by Stravinsky, Ligeti and Babbitt.

“We approached the recording of this album more like a jazz record from the ’50s or ’60s,” says King. “To eliminate studio separation as much as possible, I set up in the same room as Ethan, with Reid in plain sight. It created a really free atmosphere, as if we were playing a show.”

For the past 10 years The Bad Plus have created an uncompromising body of work by shattering musical convention. Rolling Stone called their amalgam of jazz, pop, rock and avant garde “about as badass as highbrow gets,” while The New York Times said the band is “better than anyone at mixing the sensibilities of post-’60s jazz and indie rock.” Few jazz groups in recent memory have amassed such acclaim, and few have generated as much controversy while audaciously bucking musical trends.

While the bulk of their output has been originals, they have famously deconstructed covers in the pop, rock, electronic and classical idioms. Their belief in a band ethos and “avant-garde populism” has placed them at the forefront of a new instrumental music movement, resulting in ever-larger audiences.

The threesome has been exchanging musical ideas since their teenage years. In the late ’80s, Anderson and King were two Minnesota high schoolers playing in fledgling rock bands and digging records by Coltrane and The Police. Anderson met Iverson in 1989. All three played together on one occasion a year later before going their separate ways for ten years.

They reconvened for a gig in Minneapolis in 2000. Sparks flew, studio sessions for an indie release ensued, and suddenly The New York Times called their maiden voyage one of the best releases of 2001. The band signed with Columbia, where they released These Are the Vistas in 2003, followed quickly by Give and then Suspicious Activity? In 2007 they released Prog, an album which balanced originals with spellbinding covers of Bowie, Bacharach, Tears for Fears and Rush. For All I Care, with its intriguing juxtaposition of rock and classical sensibilities, followed in 2009.

Ten years ago, not one of these musicians could have predicted where The Bad Plus was going, how long it would last, or what it might become along the way. What they were sure of, though, was a fierce sense of commitment that has blossomed into artistic success.

“We’ve always believed in our ideas,” says Anderson. ” We’ve always believed in making music that sounds like us, and we always thought there would be an audience for it.”

NEVER STOP showcases the band’s range as well as its three distinct personalities. From gentle and melodic to fierce and abstract, from swing to ’80s techno, NEVER STOP is the result of a group sound that embraces diversity as strength.

Alexis Cole – Someday My Prince Will Come

Someday My Prince Will Come is a Japanese release on Venus Records. This collection of Disney love songs features tracks fro films like Pocahontas, Robin Hood, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White among others. Cole is accompanied by the acclaimed pianist Fred Hersch, Matt Wilson on drums, Don Braden on saxes and flute, Steve LaSpina on bass and Gregoire Maret on harmonica.

The CDwas recorded in New York, under the direction of Tetsuo Hara, founder of the Tokyo-based Venus label.Also known as Sergeant Cole, Alexis recently became lead vocalist with the West Point Jazz Knights.

Velvet-voiced jazz vocalist Alexis Cole has been featured on NBCs NY Morning Show and in magazines Time Out NY, Downbeat, Jazz Times, Swing Journal, All About Jazz and many more.

Her five releases as a leader can be heard on jazz radio stations around the world. Cole can often be seen performing both internationally and in NYCs top venues, Dizzy’s Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Smoke, The Oak Room, The Kitano and others.

John Stein / Ron Gill – Turn Up The Quiet

Vocalist Ron Gil, guitarist John Stein and pianist Gilad Barkan recorded Turn Up The Quiet at WGBH Radio in Boston in the spring of 2009.

Ron Gil and John Stein find their love of fine songs and turn them to dancing with words, lofting pretty chords, and capturing passionate ideas about togetherness. Collaboration – so often a tricky treat, a windy street – they negotiate openhandedly with wit and diplomacy . . . Stein, a subtle and sensitive guitarist, has many sharp arrows in his quiver, with varied, song-rich albums and an enduring presence in Boston’s lively jazz scene. He can make a note sing and a chord ring like Kenny Burrell, and always thinks “melody first” . . . Few singers in my ken capture the innocent simplicity of great songs as well as Ron Gill. His voice is immediately endearing and convincing: his blatant honesty charms the dots off snake-eyes . . . Three’s no crowd with their inviting aboard Gilad Barkan’s bright voice on piano. Check out his nifty melodizing . . . and his earthy interplay with Stein’s bass. (Fred Bouchard, from the liner notes)

Jeff Berlin – High Standards

“High Standards” is a representation of three players in a recording studio, playing a live concert, for no one but themselves! Bassist Jeff Berlin, pianist/upright bassist Richard Drexler, and drummer Danny Gottlieb’s long collaboration, have allowed them to create telepathic interplay, in an improvised setting. This is a piano trio at its best…led by one of the greatest electric bass players of our time.

Jeff Berlin has played with the likes of Bill Bruford, George Benson, Allan Holdsworth, and even toured with original members of Yes (Anderson, Wakeman, Bruford, Howe) on only three days’ notice. Much to the anticipation of his fans, Jeff is releasing a new jazz trio CD on his own MAJ Records label titled ‘High Standards’. Along with Berlin on electric bass, the CD also features Woody Herman alumni Richard Drexler on piano and upright bass, and famed drummer Danny Gottlieb (best known for his work with Pat Metheny).

“It is a standard jazz piano trio led by a former rock bass player playing jazz tunes, and soloing nothing like bass players usually solo,” says Jeff. “Keith Jarrett is huge influence on me. I transcribed his solos and practiced them on bass. I wanted to try my hand at recording tunes that I have played for many years, which inspired me to record three guys in a room and let the session remain as they eventually turned out.”

Jeff Berlin’s resume reads like the who’s who of the higher echelon of music artists. Jeff Berlin was even asked to join Van Halen, an invitation that he actually turned down. “Eddie Van Halen was a fan of the band that I played in with Bill Bruford,” Berlin recalls. “We met and started to hang out and jam together. He was a sweet terrific guy. One day he saw me play a gig with my group and then asked me if I would like to join Van Halen. After this, we rehearsed at David Lee Roth’s house a couple of times. Ultimately, I said no to his gracious offer because when you join a band, you join the entirety of it, the life philosophy of its members and also the habits that they may be involved with. I felt that, in terms of activities and attitudes, I didn’t mesh with their vision of things. I didn’t wish to be mercenary and just take the job for money because it wouldn’t be fair to the band members. So, I just said no to the offer.”

Not only is Jeff Berlin a bass phenomenon in the jazz field, but rock players are constantly referring to him as one of their major influences. Jeff was voted Number 1 Jazz Bassist by the readers of Guitar Player Magazine. Carlos Santana called Jeff the “best bassist in the world”, while Rush’s Geddy Lee used the phrase “best bassist on the planet!” Members of Metallica call Jeff the number one bassist on Earth, and Slash considers him a “bass god”. Actor/bass player Gary Sinise, of “Forrest Gump” and “CSI NY” fame called Jeff’s playing “unreal!” Even the late George Carlin was knocked out with Jeff’s playing calling him a “great musician.”

Ralph Towner / Paolo Fresu – Chiaroscuro

CHIAROSCURO is one of the more beautiful duet recordings to come along in a great while. The recording pairs Ralph Towner’s guitar excellence with Paolo Fresu’s insightful and melodic trumpet voice on 10 great songs. Except for “Blue In Green” which was written by Miles Davis and Bill Evans, most of the repertoire was written by Towner and has been previously released on several of his recordings. Towner co-wrote “Two Miniatures” and “Postlude” with Fresu and their rare instrumental combination brings forth fresh interpretations and newly realized possibilities inherent in their musical language.

Recorded in Udine in October 2008, Towner plays classical, baritone and 12-string guitars on this program while Fresu plays trumpet and flugelhorn.CHIAROSCURO revolves around Towner’s initial meeting with Fresu at a festival in Sardina some 15 years ago where he heard Fresu perform “Punta Giara.” The song is re-arranged here with the duo displaying their personal commitment to intense and immediate emotional experiences. On “Sacred Ground” Towner solos on baritone guitar and then broaches new ground on the reprise with the pastoral trumpeting of Frescu added to the song. Intricate indeed but the effect is a beautiful and spiritually uplifting hymn.

Delving deeper into the feelings of Davis and Evans on “Blue In Green,” both musicians offer remarkable interpretations of the cool subtlety and passionate, muted colors long associated with this song. Paolo Fresu has a clear, vibrato-less sound that acknowledges the influence of Miles Davis. “Doubled Up” is a great song that finds the duo revealing their zeal for experimentation. Much of their genius here lies in their ability to juxtapose the guitar chords and trumpet registers at exactly the right time, repeating the phrases at higher and lower octaves in order to give the doubling the largest and deepest tones. Theirs is novel, memorable and definitely worthy of a double listen! Ending the program with “Postlude,” Towner showcases his characteristic melodic fragments and comping chords as the perfect harmonic companion to Fresu’s soaring registers.

CHIAROSCURO should receive the patronage of jazz lovers worldwide if only for the rare pairing of these two masters. However, once you hear a few seconds of these great compositions, there is no justification for not purchasing CHIAROSCURO.

Reprinted with permission of…

Kristin Porter – By The Light of The Moon

Kristin Porters debut CD, By the Light of the Moon, is a culmination of performing 5 to 7 nights a week. By the Light of the Moon takes pages from the Great American Songbook, as well as Kristin’s well-crafted originals, to provide a musical expedition of swingin’ jazz, bossa grooves, sultry lyrics, and even a little Reggae.

The album kicks off with a bouncy version of “It Could Happen to You” where Porter exhibits her ability to create interesting phrasing, along with relaxed scatting, creating an instant sense that this young lioness is years ahead of her age.

“Teach Me Tonight,” is given a bossa treatment, and the only teaching going on here, is the lessons Porter is teaching the listener about her divine vocal prowess. “Light of the Moon,” is a funky cut that exhibits the playful side of Porter’s vocals, it is a perfect vehicle to showcase her abilities of range and technique. Porter has fully absorbed jazz vocal techniques and has complete control of her instrument.

“Moody’s Mood from Love” is given a Reggae conduit that highlights Kristin’s ability to create interesting lines and of phrasing set against a Jamaican canvas. This young songstress is taking leaps far beyond most vocalists, even beyond heryears.

Kristin’s original, “Never Telling Me You Loved Me,” seduces you with her delicate femininity as you hear each note drop from her lips like honey, she leaves you wanting more. This track hints at Kristin’s love for sultry blues, and showcases her influences from great Jazz/Blues composers, such as Harold Arlen.

Dave Anderson / Mike Wingo – Conversations

Conversations is Dave Anderson’s first recorded collaboration with guest artist Mike Wingo. This texturally rich recording features acoustic piano and mixed percussion. For this CD, Anderson chose a selection of favorite jazz standards, rearranged for the duo, and several of Dave’s original compositions.

For a number of years, Dave had been interested in exploring the possibilities of a piano and percussion duo. This combination is rarely found in jazz and Dave felt it had unique potential for rhythmic interplay and improvisational freedom. After working with a number of percussionists in the Washington DC area, Dave was drawn to the work of Mike Wingo, who was skilled on a wide array of percussion instruments and fluent in a broad range of musical styles, from jazz to Indonesian Gamelan music.

Over several years of performing together, Dave and Mike recreated their music for the duo. Mike restructured his percussion set-up, adding new hand drums and cymbals. Dave found that he could explore the entire range of the keyboard with a new freedom and created new arrangements and compositions.

This beautifully recorded project documents the first stage of this duo on its creative journey. As you will hear, Conversations has an exciting combination of rhythmic drive, dynamics, and intimacy. The chemistry between these two players is evident throughout this fine recording, along with well-crafted original compositions by Anderson.

“Song of You” is a gorgeous piece with a propelling bounce, that exhibits Anderson’s flowing touch on the ivories, and Wingo’s interactive rhythms. The duo’s ability to almost sense each other’s next move makes this original soar. “Sunrise,” starts out gently, capturing the freshness and peacefulness of early morning. Gradually, the piece builds in rhythmic and harmonic intensity before reprising the main theme and shifting back to a gentler mood.

“Light of Darkness” uses a broad pallet of tonalities to create a more complex feeling, with strong contrasts in both rhythm and harmony. After a dark and dreamy introduction, the piece moves into the rhythmic main section, while carrying the complex opening harmonies along for the ride. This piece also highlights the almost telepathic connection between piano and percussion.

A true delight for any setting and a must have for percussion and piano enthusiasts. Take a moment to have Conversations influence your collection; it will be well worth the pause in your day.

Kathryn Smith – With Every Breath I Take

With Every Breath I Take signals the reemergence of a valuable addition to the vocal jazz genre. Though this is Smith’s debut CD, it is not the
recording of a freshman artist, rather a long overdue documentation of a seasoned performer who is ready to materialize. With Every Breath I Take is an album of smart stylish renditions from the American Song Book, which transports the listener to a sultry night, coupled with fine wine … perfect for longing or lingering.

Like fine wine, this album shows how time and dedication to a craft will bear astounding characteristics, undeniable result and rare maturity of result. You’ll find a depth of emotion developed over a lifetime of both live performances and living life. Kathryn has created a CD that will satisfy your need for tranquility. With Every Breath I Take is enchanting; it is delicious. “So Many Stars” begins the journey with a stripped down rendition of guitar and voice that shows every breath and beauty Smith’s voice has to offer and her ability to truthfully and with conviction convey the storyline with effortless transitions from low notes to crystalline highs. A bouncing rendition of Hoagy Carmichael’s “I Get Along Without You Very Well,” will put a spring in your step and a tap in your foot, accompanied by bassist Micheal Goetz and guitarist Brian Conigliaro this traditional rendition swings and swings.

“My Attorney Bernie,” a Frishberg nugget, is a wonderful addition. Kathryn’s spin on the classic cut gives the listener a different twist on the lyric, where most vocalists deliver this song with more of a comical approach, Smith’s rendition gives the listener more of a amorous respect for her attorney Bernie. It may just be the classy eloquence of Kathryn’s voice that gives it the twist, either way it is a refreshing change to the usual comic relief.

“Urge for Going” is a Joni Mitchell penned cut that is given an Irish overtone. Kathryn navigates the wide melody with clear articulation and pitch, conveying the meaning of the song with elegance, style and pure emotion. Conigliaro’s mandolin work broadens the appeal on this rendition to cross over to many musical pallets.

“Nothing Beats the Memories,” offers a relaxing bossa nova selection, flavored by the romantic styling of saxophonist Ed Xiques. This original composition, which was penned by producer and musical director Brian Conigliaro, features Smith in a higher register, giving the listener a chance to hear Smith’s breathy falsetto range. Kathryn conveys the witty lyrics and introspective storyline with heartfelt sincerity and style.

“With Every Breath I Take,” the title cut shows up at the end of the release, leaving the listener in a contemplative state, almost like the closing of the day; Smith waxes a full range of bell like highs and heart-wrenching lows, with stellar diction. The cut leaves you relaxed and fulfilled, a perfect homage to a well-balanced offering, showing the many sides of this seasoned “new-comer,” or should we say; seasoned, long awaited first offering from a long-time performer.

Lawrence Lebo – Don’t Call Her Larry, Vol 3: American Roots

In the age of the trilogy, Lebo’s Don’t Call Her Larry, Vol. 3: American Roots continues to explore the depths of American Roots music. She reinterprets her songbook in a duet setting, featuring herself and bassist Denny Croy (Doug MacLeod, Brian Setzer Orchestra).

Stripped down to an organic setting, the vocalist creates vivid imagery with her texturally diverse vocal styling. In an age where singers are manipulated with technology and slick production, Lebo goes bar-room-raw, minimal, and shows us exactly what she can do.

In addition, she has penned new works. They are American Roots hybrids of acoustic jazz/blues, western swing, and a heart wrenching folk tribute to the sudden loss of her dearly loved yellow Labrador Retriever, titled “Rose, Rose.”

Dave LeMieux and House of Soul – Jazz Shaped

Dave LeMieux and House of Soul artfully explores jazz and its soulful Gospel kinship with their latest release, Jazz Shaped. Just as Coltrane explored his inner spirituality through jazz, Dave LeMieux and House of Soul has not only created their own expression of beloved standards by Miles and Coltrane, but has added their own voices to the jazz chorus with their original material of jazz, blues and neo soul recordings.

With Jazz Shaped, Dave LeMieux and House of Soul has succeeded in approaching jazz with the passion, conviction and celebration traditionally reserved for Gospel music alone. In the spirit of true improvisation, this 14-piece ensemble recorded Jazz Shaped at Denver’s premier music venue, the Soiled Dove before a live audience . . . the energy, enthusiasm and magnetism of whichis evident throughout the recording.

Each track on Jazz Shaped is a potential invitation for listeners to experience the joys, pains, hopes and blues of the jazz journey.

Harvie S. – Cocolamus Bridge,

Here we find Harvie stepping out with his “Texas band”, a group of seasoned veterans from the Houston area assembled by guitarist Chris Cortez specifically for this project. Each composition on the album save one is an original of Harvie’s and bears the inimitable aural mark of its maker- a deep rumble and earthly roar, coupled with a porcelain tone wrenched with delicate care from the upper register of the bass.

The album opens with Eili Gheal Chiuin, a traditional Irish folk song sublimely arranged for bass choir and performed entirely by Harvie. Between the gorgeous bowing, vibrant tone, lush harmonies and always-impressive solos, the track provides a tantalizing glimpse into the formidable depth and range of Harvie’s instrumental prowess.

The CD’s expanse runs the gamut from Cocolamus Bridge, a reflective and pensive piece serving as a beautiful study in melodic writing and bass playing, to a wonderfully interactive, original duet between Harvie and Witt on Wayne Shorter’s Night Dreamer. The band leaves few thematic stones unturned. Dexterity coupled with a fluency in negotiating changing meters is evident on Courage, a fluid tune featuring three fine solos each from guitarist Chris Cortez, tenor saxophonist Woody Witt and Harvie S.

A keen grasp of Afro-Cuban music has been invaluable to Harvie’s repertoire ever since he traveled to Cuba in the 1990s to study the music firsthand. One of the many happy consequences of this musical adventure is the tune Coco Loco, a vibrant composition highlighting the adept rhythm section playing of pianist Jose Miguel Yamal, guitarist Chris Cortez, drummer Joel Fulgham and percussionist James Metcalfe. The tune is named after Harvie’s effervescent dog, a Papillion named Coco. A gentle, up-tempo samba,

To Bea is dedicated to Harvie’s mother. Ike (take a hike) is a unique multi groove meditation with an ostinato bass line, was named for the hurricane that swept through the Gulf Coast mere weeks before the date of this recording. Rounding out the set is the mysterious yet tender Truth and Beauty, an intricate composition whose captivating soprano saxophone and bass solos lull the album to a gentle rest.

Rebecca Coupe Franks – Check the Box

Check the Box is the long-awaited follow-up to Coupe Frank’s RCF 2007 release, 100 Per Cent, with the trumpeter’s Groovemobile band (Sheryl Bailey, Jamie Leonhart, Dan Robbins, Carola Grey, Freddy Bryant and KJ Denhert). The new CD features Perdomo, bassist Mary Ann McSweeney (a fellow Bay Area transplant), drummer Richie Morales and guest vocalist Summer Corrie, a talented singer who was a former student of Coupe Franks. The album is infused with leader’s smooth phrasings, warm tones, relaxed feel and spirited jaunts. All the tunes are originals. “For my first couple of albums recorded in the ’90s, I interspersed my own compositions with a few standards,” she says. “But I like to write songs, so that’s what I like focusing on for my albums.”

Coupe Franks opens Check the Box with the bright, upbeat, Latin-vibed instrumental “Exposure,” with a medium-tempo bossa nova feel. “I wrote this when I was in California,” she says, then laughs. “I had a tooth infection. They ended up pulling the tooth. But during all the pain, this tune made me feel better.” That’s followed by the title track (“a groovy montuno,” she calls it) that’s about the brain-numbing work of filling out forms, meeting deadlines and feeling “like a number in a long line of red tape.” The groove sparks and the tempo accelerates in the middle with her vibrant trumpet solo. The leader sings the lyrics. “I never really considered myself a singer, but my father, who recently passed away, encouraged it,” she says.

Coupe Franks’ voice is spotlighted on three other tracks: the deep-souled, boogie-woogie story song “Starting All Over” (also featuring her on plunger muted trumpet), the delete-the-negative, begin-the-healing funky tune “New & Now,” which is all about, as she sings, “Stand[ing] up tall and reach[ing] for the sky,” and the swinging bossa jazz beauty “Next to Me” (which features her soaring on muted trumpet and flugelhorn).

For the other three vocal numbers, Coupe Franks gave Corrie her first studio opportunity to shine on the catchy, pop-ish song “Be the People” (sung with a Gil Scott-Heron-like delivery), the jazz waltz “Love Storm” (with the leader’s trilling trumpet) and the blues-infused pop song “Life Has Just Begun,” on which Coupe Franks overdubs her own trombone part. “I really wanted a horn section for this song,” she says with a laugh.

Other Check the Box highlights include the 6/8 time “Chase” that has a fetching opening trumpet riff and cascading piano lines, the New Orleans gospel cooker “Distraction” with Perdomo on Hammond B3 organ, and one of the strongest tunes of the collection, “Mass,” which is taken at breakneck velocity. “This has a Mingus-y feeling,” Coupe Franks says. “I usually write on the piano, but I composed this on the trumpet. It’s a minor blues that I love playing fast.”

The three duos with Perdomo include the simple yet beautiful blues/gospel tune “Thursday,” a slowed down refrain of the opener (“Exposure”) and the ballad “PaJ” in memory of Coupe Franks’ father. “I wrote that song three years ago,” she says. “I never thought he would pass away but he did. That song isn’t an homage, but it is dedicated to him.”

Even though she’s excited by Check the Box seeing the light of day and is already getting positive responses from radio play, she has her mind on the future already. She’s got lots of ideas based on her experience playing duets with Perdomo and others. Coupe Franks says, “I love playing in the duo format.” She pauses, then continues, “In fact, I could do a whole record of duos. Maybe that’s what I’ll do next.”

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the beginning of Rebecca Coupe Franks’ remarkable career as trumpeter/composer/bandleader. The San Francisco Bay Area native was mentored by Joe Henderson during her youth in the ’80s, became a regular on the New York City jazz scene in the ’90s, and today is the owner of RCF Music Studio and RCF Records, a music composer/producer for film and television, and a freelance trumpet player. Coupe Franks has been continuing to develop her creatively designed music that’s organically crafted as an amalgam of styles including straight-ahead jazz, Latin, and blues & gospel by way of New Orleans, along with inflections of pop. On her fifth outing as leader she delivers a sumptuous mix of instrumentals and vocals tunes, with Coupe Franks making her singing debut on four tracks.

“I’ve always liked to combine all the forms of jazz over the years,” Coupe Franks says. “I’ve never fit into any categories, so I do what I want to do.” When she was younger, she lived in Venezuela for a year playing in salsa and merengue bands. In addition, she has an affinity for R&B music and roots grooves. And, as is evident on three instrumental Check the Box tunes, she excels in a duo format, in this case with piano band mate Luis Perdomo, who hails from Venezuela. “I’ve known Luis for so many years,” she says. “I was one of the first people he played music with in New York when he first moved here. After that, I was always running into him, and even sat in with him over the years. I love his Latin tinge. But this album is the first time we played together in the studio. We just connected. Everything clicked.”

Coupe Franks grew up on the Peninsula south of San Francisco and later lived near Santa Cruz. She began playing trumpet at age 10 (her mother, brother, grandfather and great uncle also played the instrument), and by 16 was playing professionally. It was during this time that she met Henderson at a jam session. After hearing her play, he invited her over for lessons. This important relationship inspired Coupe Franks to compose a tribute to Joe Henderson, entitled Exhibition: Tribute to Joe Henderson, which was released in 2004.

Eventually Coupe Franks moved to New York (following in the footsteps of her good friend saxophonist Virginia Mayhew), took classes at New School (she graduated with a BFA in Jazz Studies) and did postgraduate work at New York University in composition. She performed with the likes of Kenny Barron, Lou Donaldson, Ben Riley and Victor Lewis, as well as reconnected with Henderson who played on her debut disc.

In the early ’90s, Coupe Franks recorded a duo album with Mayhew, Now’s the Time, for Philology. She embarked on her own that same year with a pair of albums for the Justice Records label: 1990’s Suit of Armor (with Henderson, Riley, Barron, Buster Williams, Leni Stern and Carolyn Brandy) and 1991’s All of a Sudden (with Donny McCaslin, Javon Jackson, Scott Colley, Kevin Hays and Yoran Israel). In 1996, she took an NYC hiatus, returning to California to be closer to her family, play gigs on the West Coast and compose her next CD, Exhibition: Tribute to Joe Henderson (which featured Sylvia Cuenca, Adam Schulman and Essiet Okon Essiet). That album was followed three years later by 100 Per Cent (both on RCF Records).

Ellen Honert – Hummingville

Listen to this performance in its entirety and be moved. Not sound bites and samples, but the work as a whole. Not bits and pieces, but an entire rainbow’s arc from beginning to end. Not just skimming the surface, but diving in to sample the depths. This recording captures the collective energy of artists gathered to support the creative work of Ellen Honert.

Her rich palette of vocal colors and nuanced phrasing is supported at every turn by musicians who bring their unique instrumental gifts to bear.

John, Alex, Jose, and Frank provide a flawless foundation with a generous virtuosity that makes this an organic team effort. And Pedro’s soaring solo work takes the breath away. I’ve worked with all of these musicians many times and their ability to surprise and excite me again and again is a joy. The original songs from Ellen and Frank are refreshing and Frank brings an original voice in his arrangement of songs that we all know. So take the time to listen from beginning to end. Take the journey with them and enjoy.

Tia Fuller – Decisive Steps

Multi-instrumentalistTia Fuller takes several DECISIVE STEPS on her second offering for Mack Avenue Records. From the start, the compositions included on the recording offer Fuller more than enough room to stretch out on alto and soprano saxes as well as on the flute with her special guests/ label mates bassist Christian McBrideand trumpeter Sean Jones. Vibraphonist Warren Wolf also shares in the bliss and contributes his dynamic musicality on “Shades of McBride,” and “Clear Mind.”

In addition to these world-class artists, Fuller shares the spotlight with drummer Kim Thompson and bassist Miriam Sullivan, as well as with her sister Shamie Royston who plays piano and Fender. Fuller’s chops are no joke. Her emotionally charged riffs fill the room on the title track and it’s apparent that these “Decisive Steps” have taken her to new heights in the jazz community and will move her forward in the pantheon of serious female woodwind players. With serious being the key word here, Tia Fuller plays an inspired set that traces a lineage through blues, gospel and soul.

Her efforts co-exist with daring riffs from Sean Jones’ trumpet and McBride’s walking bass lines – revealing a hot-blooded extroverted brand of playing that is sure to dazzle you. Overall, Tia Fuller’s performances have the advantage and with DECISIVE STEPS, her style of playing may become a decisive influence and a source of inspiration for today’s and future woodwind players.

Top pick: “Shades of McBride” which features her cool chops on both soprano and alto and a very cool solo from McBride!

Reprinted with permission of…

Dr. Lonnie Smith – Spiral

The premier, multiple award-winning jazz organist and ever funky Dr. Lonnie Smith will have you groovin’ high on his latest release by Palmetto titled SPIRAL. Joined by Jonathan Kreisberg on guitar and Jamire Williams on drums, this great CD features several songs from the Great American Songbook – Dr. Lonnie Smith style! The recording is truly soulful, filled with energy and emotion. When you hear the trio’s rendition of Jimmy Smith’s “Mellow Mood,” that is definitely where you’ll find yourself..in a mellow mood.

I don’t think the Doc is related by blood to the great organist Jimmy Smith, but he sure is related by jazz! He is burning up that Hammond organ throughout this program but Slide Hampton’s slow, grooving ballad “Frame For the Blues,” and the pumped up version of “Beehive” by Harold Mabern are sure to please and their fans will certainly give thanks for the brilliant resuscitations they get here. “Spiral” features an intro by Kreisberg and Williams before Smith joins in with his desirable tone colors. This is Smith’s original and gives even greater credence to his abilities as a songwriter since it features excellent sections for his trio to solo and bring their insightful musical visions to this great song.

Three more covers “Sweet & Lovely,” “I’ve Never Been In Love Before,” and I’ Didn’t Know What Time It Was” complete the selections from the GAS. However, one of the most memorable songs on the recording is Smith’s emotional performance of “Sukiyaki.”

Overall, SPIRAL is a masterful recording by one of the Hammond B3 organ’s most authentic masters.

Reprinted with permission of…

Frank Kimbrough – Rumors

The old saying, “In the right place, at the right time,” came true for Frank Kimbrough recently when the photographer Jimmy Katz (who now produces and records artists) called him to say he had some studio time available at Avatar Studios in New York City! Needless to say, Kimbrough, the renowned composer / pianist / arranger didn’t need to hesitate and made the gig happen with Masa Kamaguchi on bass and Jeff Hirshfield on drums. The result is the outstanding new release on Palmetto Records titled RUMORS.

The trio plays seven Kimbrough originals as well as the composition “Six” which was composed by Federico Mompou, but adapted and arranged by Frank Kimbrough. The song is impeccable, with Kimbrough’s delicate pianism at the center of this beautiful song. By contrast, “TMI” is somewhat atonal inpassages, has odd time signatures and curious designs. The title track, “Rumors” isa ballad that finds the listener concentrating on Kimbrough’s insightful ideas as well as the thoughtful underscoring by Kamaguchi’s bass lines. Altogether, this is the work of several masters who know their craft well and have no difficulty playing on a moment’s notice.

RUMORS is right up there with AIR, another of Kimbrough’s great works and both CDs should be in your music library.

Reprinted with permission of…

Matt Garrison – Familiar Places

With confidence, lyricism, and a tonality that is suffused in warmth, saxophonist Matt Garrison fervently pursues the art-form of jazz as reflected in his own words, “I like to think that I am a translator of sorts. A jazz musician, in my opinion, is supposed to interpret the world around them and convert those situations and feelings into music.” This is the essence of Garrison’s voice and music.

Born on May 20th, 1979 in Poughkeepsie, New York, Matthew Gordon Garrison grew up in a household that was absent of the sounds of Miles, Coltrane, and other jazz musicians; instead the music of Doo Wop, 1960s rock and roll, and 1980s contemporary tunes found precedence.

Though Garrison’s parents weren’t musicians, he attributes his creativity and imagination to his mother (a superb quilter and crafts maker) and his technical and mathematical gifts to his father (a skilled draftsman and CADAM designer) as the core ingredients in his acumen as a jazz artist.

After taking an early interest in the saxophone in school, the spark was ignited, as well as some minor obstacles, as Garrison remembers humorously, “I started to get into trouble with some of my teachers for changing some of the music in the concert band while playing. I wanted to add my own ideas to the charts and that’s when I started to get into the idea of improvisation.”

Through hard work and determination, he excelled and went on to earn, both Bachelors and Masters degrees (including the Anthony Newman Award, given to one exceptional jazz major) at Purchase Conservatory of Music in Westchester New York where he studied with Javon Jackson, Ralph Lalama, Hal Galper, Todd Coolman, and Jon Faddis.

An aspiring musician who is coming into his own, Garrison has gigged with various players of note–the late Dennis Irwin, Pete Malinverni, Doug Munro, Neal Smith, Sam Yahel, Jeff Hirshfield, Jon Cowerd, Andy Laverne–and was once in a band with trumpeter great, Ray Vega. Garrison continues to establish himself and thrive in a variety of settings and states, “I am never satisfied with stopping the search for a better way to express myself.”

His pursuit has been witnessed in freelance performances at area venues in Albany at Justins, Philadelphia at Chris’s Jazz Cafe, and the Jazz Standard and Smoke in New York City. His own music is coming into fruition with an upcoming album of original compositions featuring an illustrious band of seasoned and newer names with Michael Dease (trombone), Bruce Harris (trumpet), Zaccai Curtis (piano), Luques Curtis (bass), Rodney Green (drums), Claudio Roditi (trumpet / flugelhorn), and Mark Whitfield (guitar).

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