Felix Peikli – Royal Flush

After Pete Fountain and Benny Goodman, you don’t hear a lot about the clarinet in jazz. Sure, the instrument is there but mainly as an ensemble piece and for solos. Felix Peikli reminds us that this horn is also good as a lead instrument. Royal Flush (2014) presents fresh sounds that are creative and contemporary.

Piekli plays clarinet and bass clarinet. He’s joined by Michael Bono, acoustic and electric guitar; Takeshi Ohbayashi, piano; Alexander L.J. Toth, acoustic bass; and Anthony A. Toth, drums. Other contributors are Kim Wigaard Johansen and Sara Lade, vocals; Sarpay Ozcagatay, flute; and Eric Kwong, sound design and effects.

“Heat” features guest trumpeter Lee Hoganes. Trumpet and clarinet pair up for a bit, but mostly it’s Hoganes who leads the main body of this tune. After a transition followed by a piano interlude, Peikli comes in with verve. His play is worthy of Fountain and Goodman.

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Kim Waters – Silver Soul

The music business is fast paced. For years, Kim Waters was a fixture on the label Shanachie Entertainment. His 19th solo album My Loves was however released on Red River Entertainment in 2013. Now he returns on the same label with Silver Soul, scheduled for release on September 2, 2014.

25 years since his first release Sweet & Saxy Kim Waters celebrates his silver anniversary. He has remained faithful to his music style. No reason to change the horse, when you are successful. As usual Waters performs on the new album all instruments, saxophone and background vocals. Allen Hinds supports him with guitars. There are also some guest musicians such as his daughter Kayla Waters on piano and additional lead and background singers Dana Pope, Zendaya and Eric Roberson.

“Silver Soul is really a thank you to my audience that has been with me thus far throughout my 25-year musical journey as a recording artist. I took my time writing the material because I wanted it to be an album of hits with every song sounding like a single,” comments Waters.

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Rob Mullins – Soulful

SoulfulSoulful is a collection of fresh tracks showing yet another side of producer/keyboardist Rob Mullins’ music. Earlier albums by Mullins such as “Music for Lovers’ and “Dance for the New World” previously established Rob as a bona fide R&B force in the 90’s. These albums led to his long time tenure as keyboardist for Hubert Laws, as well as his becoming a songwriter for Ronnie Laws, Eric Marienthal, and R&B Sax Legend Wilton Felder from The Crusaders.

With the “Soulful” project, Rob brings his musical vision for 2014 into reality with likable, danceable R&B and Neo Soul tracks that mark his signature sound on his 28th album. For more info on Rob, please visit his website http://www.planetmullins and his Youtube channel. Now get Soulful at CDBaby.

The Blu J’z – Feeling the Moment

Feeling the MomentWithin a year of continued promotion, The Blu J’z has already “created a buzz” in the Smooth Jazz media circuit by means of airplay, recognition on magazines, and was recently asked to open up for Paul Taylor and Marion Meadows at the Tower Theater in Fresno, California (July 12, 2014). For the past 2 years they have been given the opportunity to open up for other renowned smooth jazz/ jazz artists like Boney James (2012), David Sanborn, Bob James, Brian Culbertson, Fredric Yonnet, and Patrick Lamb (2013).

The Blu J’z specialize in performing originals from their album Feelin the Moment along with other smooth jazz cover tunes. What sparks the DJ’s, promoters, and listeners is our hooky melodies and diverse styles that intermingle with funk , pop, rock, jazz, Latin and rhythm and blues. Just like the great sounds of the Rippingtons, Sypro Gyra, Fourplay, and other great bands, The Blu J’z are ready to showcase their unique sound and to do what they love while giving the audience an entertaining experience. In other words, to hear The Blu J’z is like a breath of fresh air.

Feeling the Moment is available in all stores. We recommend you CDBaby.

Manuel Valera – Self Portrait

Reviewing instrumental music is always a challenge. Finding a way to express in words what a song or album concept sounds like, and doing it in a manner that helps the reader make a decision on whether to buy a recording, all without being redundant or using clichés is not an easy task.

The challenge is even greater when it comes to solo piano. So you can rest assured that if a writer does review such a work, the recording more than warrants it. Such is the case with Manuel Valera’s Self Portrait (Mavo Records, 2014).

Valera decided to focus on four elements in creating this work. He wanted to present his jazz influence, covering songs by Bill Evans, Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk; his Cuban roots with two Latin jazz pieces; his classical influence, with the “Impromptu” selections; and his own compositions. For this date, Valera plays a restored 1918 Steinway D.

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Paul Hardcastle – The Jazzmasters VII

Paul Hardcastle is the living prove that a studio musician can reach the # 1 on the US Billboard Contemporary album ”sales” chart without any live concert. Not that it would be a problem, to implement the recording one to one into live music.

Paul also hasn’t changed his style in all the years of his success. After the first few bars one immediately recognizes that is a Paul Hardcastle. Especially his Jazzmasters Series shows a distinctive elegance.

The Jazzmasters VII (2014) is no exception. According to the liner notes the album is purely instrumental just with some vocal drops here and there. Paul Hardcastle Jr. (sax), Maxine Hardcastle (vocals) and Rock Hendricks (sax) added their natural input, where it was required.

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Bill Heller – Find the Way

Find the WayBill Heller met Russ Freeman while recording the Brian Moore Custom Guitars Artist Collection” CD. Russ asked Bill if he would play on a few tracks that he was producing for his and Craig Chaquico’s Redwoods to the Rockies. His first Rippingtons recording was Topaz back in 1998, and he has been performing live with the band since March of 2001.

After many years of working and performing with other people, Bill has worked on his own music project. It is a contemporary oriented piano album. “It features some of my friends who happen to be some of the finest musicians that I have ever had the pleasure to work with, such as Eric Marienthal and Jeff Kashiwa. I am going to have three different rhythm sections: Dave Karasony & Rico Belled from the Ripps, Joel Rosenblatt & Dave Anderson, and Frank Bellucci & Jim Cammack.

This album Find the Way to CDBaby.

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