Posts Tagged ‘ Keyboards ’

Vel Lewis – Colors of Soul

You have certainly listen to the music of keyboardist Vel Lewis. TV shows such as The Sopranos, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Mad About You, and Wife Swap USA feature his compositions. In earlier time a member of the group The Futures he also followed his own path as performer with Earth, Wind, & Fire, Parliament/Funkadelic, Al Green, Isaac Hayes, David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks.

His new EP Colors of Soul (2014) is available at CDBaby, presenting the music of this great composer. Vel is joined on the album by percussionist Lenny Castro and guitarist Kevin Chokan. The album was mixed by Greg Manning.

The title song impresses with a captivating melody transported by vintage synth to our astounded ears. The melody is consistently in an appealing flow and the guitar delivers a rhythm in the style of Maze. On Song For My Love Vel reaches out to the Hammond B3 kicking the harmonies as the instrument requires it.

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Edward Brown III – Dream

Born and residing in the Suburbs of Los Angeles, California, Edward Brown has the ability and talent to perform all styles of music as a pianist/ keyboardist. Edward began his musical career by learning classical music through school and private lessons with some of Los Angeles’ best instructors. He performs Classical, Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Latin Jazz, Calypso, Rhythm & Blues and Gospel.

He worked with Debbie Allen, James Ingram and Keith Andes in the musical “The Bayou Legend,” composing music with Debbie Allen and being the lead keyboardist for the theatrical presentations of the play.  His solo project is entitled Dream. Listen and buy this entertaining album at Amazon.com.

Elliot Levine – Smash

Always a smile on his face Elliot Levine is the positive mastermind in many musical formations. He toured with Wilson Pickett and Heatwave and opened for artists like Brian McKnight, Freddie Jackson, McCoy Tyner, and Gerald Albright.

His first solo project was With Light Images (1993), a jazz fusion album. On Urban Grooves (1997) Elliot entered the smooth jazz genre. Later he released Smash (2000), The Funk, The Whole Funk And Nothin’ But The Funk (2004) and Live +7 (2008). All albums are now available at CDBaby.

When Eliot isn’t touring with Heatwave, you can find him performing live entertainment jazz in the City View Bar & Grill, Maryland on Friday and Saturday nights.

His album Smash was released in 2000, when one could download his songs from mp3.com, at this time the leading music site especially for independent artists. Many of the music stations on this site were playing his songs and that way he got more than one million downloads in between a short time.

Time pasts by but meanwhile his album is available again at CDBaby, a good moment to review this remarkable album in our flashback. The album has a good opening with Just Chillin’. Elliot Levine unfolds his elegance on piano, while Pete Jordan adds some smoothness on soprano sax.

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Nate Harasim – Rush

Nate’s album is the translation of Milton’s poetry into music. An inclination of reverie and wonder. That was the conclusion of my review about his first album Next In Line (2007). One year later he returned with his album Love’s Taken Over. Now this big talent is back with his new album Rush on Trippin’ N Rhythm Records.

Nate Harasim is one of the young lions, the new generation of smooth jazz. Harasim just peaked at #1 on the US charts with his Steve Oliver Production for an eight weeks run, and now he was the sensation on the Dubai Jazz Festival 2011.

The title track Rush is the evidence for Nate’s fantastic collaboration with saxophonist Darren Rahn, who has co-written with Nate most of the tunes of this album. The easy going uplifting piece takes a funky twist on the last part showcasing the new direction Nate’s career is intended.

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Oli Silk – All We Need

Keyboardist Oli Silk is best known by the albums Fact or Friction (2000) and Duality (2002), which he released with Danny Sugar. During his relative short solo career he already published the albums So Many Ways (2006), and The Limit’s The Sky (2008). I recommend to visit his new-look website, a piece of impressive artwork, where you can find more information about this upcoming smooth jazz star in a few days.

Born in London, UK he is frequently touring with The Sax Pack, Jackiem Joyner and Cindy Bradley. During the concerts in venues such as Pizza Express and Jazz Café, London he often supports artists like Peter White, Marc Antoine, Richard Elliot, Jaared and Rick Braun.

His new album All We Need (2010) will certainly stimulate the interest for this musician, who is destined for higher merits. Oli is joined by Joe Becket (percussion), Oscar Seaton (drums), Mark Jaimes (guitar, bass), Shannon Pearson (vocals), Dwayne Smith (bass), Gary Honor (sax, flute), Cindy Bradley (flugelhorn, trumpet), Rebeca Vega Felipe (vocals), Carl Stanley (sax) and Marc Antoine (guitar).

Oli welcomes us with the sultry title song All We Need. He has already adapted the elegant piano style of popular artists like George Duke or Alex Bugnon. His sense for melody and arrangment is clean and tidy.

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Greg Wimmer – Strange Visions

Greg Wimmer is a mainly self – taught musician with strong piano/keyboard roots. His mother will say that he was obsessed with the piano from the first day he could reach the keys.

In the winter of 2010, as Greg was enduring multiple blizzards in the Baltimore area, he decided to pass the snowed in days by studying funk. With that, he had a vision of an album that blended vintage funk with modern-day jazz. Thus, Strange Visions was born!

Make your reservation for this album at CDBaby.

Brian Simpson – South Beach

Keyboard players are often the musical center of a group. Many keyboardists are musical directors of touring stars. Brian Simpson is best known as musical director of Janet Jackson and Dave Koz. He also performed with other musicians like Michael White, Everette Harp, Michael Paulo, Freddie Fox, Teena Marie, Warren Hill, Sheena Easton, Jonathan Butler, Rick Braun, Norman Brown, and Allan Sams.

His solo albums are Closer Still (1995), It’s All Good (2005) and Above The Clouds (2007). His newest album is entitled South Beach and is scheduled for release August 31, 2010. Brian allured some of the finest contemporary jazz artists for his new project. George Duke, Peter White and Euge Groove are the featured guest-musicians. A lot more musicians participate in Brian’s recording such as Tony Moore, Michael White, Oscar Seaton (drums), Alex Al, Smitty Smith, Larry Kimpel, Ian Martin (bass), Agape Jerry, Darrell Crooks, Yarone Levy (guitars), Brian Kilgore, Lenny Castro (percussion), Ron King (flugelhorn), Steve Alaniz (sax) and Brenda Kay Pierce (vocals).

Expensive in the makings, valuable in the final result the album is a labor of love. Brian comments: “While working on South Beach in my studio I often stepped back to a corner of the room and closed my eyes, as if listening for the first time, to see if the music compelled an emotion. I truly hope the listener can feel the love and care that all of the musicians contributed to the recording.”

The first song of an album is often the most important, because many listeners decide after the first track, if they listen further or not. Keeping that in mind the starting South Beach is the strongest and most catchy track on this album. Brian takes his fans with this uplifting, easygoing tune by storm.

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George Duke – Déjà Vu

His imposing appearance signals: George Duke is the heavyweight of contemporary jazz. His music is legend and inestimable. George has performed with the most important musicians of the last century and his spectrum ranges from jazz to funk, from soul to pop.

His previous album Dukey Treats (2008) was a funky mental, physical and spiritual healing. The return to the funny funk in the style of George Clinton’s Parliament. His new album Déjà Vu is another flashback to the sound of the past.

“The whole idea behind Déjà Vu was to take a look back at some of the stuff I used to do that was a little more musically challenging,” comments Duke. “In some way or another, whatever happened before always comes around again. It may be a little different, but it will resurface. That’s kind of what this album is – a resurfacing of some ideas I had back in the ‘70s when I recorded albums with a lot of synthesizers, like Feel and The Aura Will Prevail.

George Duke welcomes on his new album many great musicians of the smooth jazz scene like Michael Manson (bass), Paul Jackson (guitars), Ronald Brunner jr. (drums), Nicholas Payton (trumpet), Everette Harp (sax), Ray Fuller (guitar), Bob Sheppard (sax) and many more. He holds all cards in his hand with a full house.

The introducing track is simply entitled A Melody. Latin flavored in the good old fashion way singers Terry Dexter, Lynne Fiddmont, Lamont Van Hook and Shannon Pearson let it swing. George Duke’s sophisticated approach to the synthesizers speaks a lot about his deep masterly knowledge of these instruments.

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Brian Simpson – South Beach

“Brian is the consummate musician – he can do it all. But it’s his incredibly memorable and infectious melodies that truly set him apart. He just has a knack for writing these songs that take you on a journey and truly tell a story – and then he’s able to deliver them musically with his trademark style. I am a huge fan!” – Dave Koz

“What I love about Brian’s playing is his understanding that melody and groove are important – the meat and potatoes of music. Brian has found a unique way of being musically creative while making his music accessible. My hats off to you B.”– George Duke

Celebrated keyboardist, composer and studio musician, Brian Simpson has been the ‘go-to’ man for everyone from Janet Jackson and Teena Marie to George Duke, Stanley Clarke and Dave Koz, for whom he has had the distinction of being musical director for the past 15 years. The chart-topping musical chameleon who wrote the #1 R&B hit “The First Time” for Surface in the 1990s confesses, “Ultimately, my listeners inspire me to make my music.” Simpson’s love for what he does is evident in every note on South Beach, his inaugural album for Shanachie Entertainment, due out August 31, 2010. Simpson surrounds himself with an A-list lineup that includes jazz icons George Duke, Peter White and Euge Groove.

Known for his ability to sculpt timeless love songs, soulful party anthems and melodies that stay on your mind, Brian Simpson is truly a master at his craft. South Beach delivers on every front. The album’s title track, with a jubilant vibe reminiscent of the Ramsey Lewis smash hit “The In Crowd,” is already top 30 on multiple jazz charts, two months prior to album release. ”I’m very happy we chose ‘South Beach’ as the first single,” confides Simpson, “because it’s probably the song that’s most indicative of my style. My travels take me to some pretty nice places, but my favorites are always the ones with beaches. In the last year I’ve been to Hawaii, Bali, Indonesia, and several beaches in Florida. I would walk along beaches listening to the rough ideas for this CD on my ipod. The wind, sea, and sand really inspired the melodies you’ll hear on South Beach.”

South Beach features a mix of breezy free-flowing numbers, funky blues-tinged romps and romantic ballads which draw you in from the first note. Songs like the George Benson-eque “Our Love,” “Can’t Tell You Why” and “All I Want Is You” show off Simpson’s knack for cooking up singable melodies and hip-swaying grooves. Brian delivers a bossa nova vibe on the sweetly romantic “Paradise Island” and the hauntingly beautiful “Summer’s End.”

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Paul Hardcastle – Jazzmasters VI

Paul Hardcastle started his breathtaking career with the dance hit Rainforest reaching #1 on the 12″ sales chart in the USA in 1984. His tremendous success was the song 19 in 1985, in many countries a further #1 hit. In 1991 Hardcastle began his Jazzmasters project fostering a smooth jazz community worldwide. The first album of this serial was released in Japan and The Japanese radio stations spread the word. Soon the sound arrived in USA and many listeners had to struggle for their album ’til it was finally released in USA in 1992.

This hybrid of dance music and smooth jazz quickly climbed the charts and received high acclaims by many fans finally crowned with Billboard Magazine’s 2008 Smooth Jazz Artist of the Year. Paul is just nominated again for Best International Artist and Best International Group for the up-coming American Smooth Jazz Awards in 2010.

Jazzmasters VI was released in July, 2010. Paul Hardcastle wrote, mixed and produced all tracks taking the lead on keyboards, guitar and percussion. Paul is joined on his newest project by Becki Biggins (vocals), Paul Hardcastle jr. (sax), Maxine Hardcastle (backing vocals), Chris ‘Snake’ Davis (sax, flute, Shakuhatchi) and Rock Hendrix (sax).

The relaxing character of the album, in Europe they call it chill-out, is announced with the spacey introduction Awakening Thoughts. The idea for Touch and Go was developed with a sax riff Paul Hardcastle jr. showed his dad. This tune is after The Circle Hardcastle jr.’s sophomore collaboration with his father sharing the merits with Chris Snake Davis, who performs a majestic flute.

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