Kirk Fischer – Friends

Life treats keyboardist Kirk Fischer well. During the 70’s he was touring and recording in various bands for almost 10 years. Later he took a job in a piano and organ store, where he met his wife Carol. He put music on hold and pursued education, business, and family. Playing music was not a job anymore and just for fun. Today he works as Associate Professor of Accounting at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

During the late 90’s he started performing on weekends and recording in his own home studio. Over the past twenty years he produced some projects and performs today in the locally popular band Touch of Class. Through a kickstarter support for East Bay Soul 2.0 he came in contact with Greg and Andrea Adams.

Greg returned the favor and produced and arranged Kirk’s debut album Friends, which is scheduled for release in February. While Kirk plays the keys, he is surrounded by the following musicians: Herman Matthews (drums), Kay-Ta Matsuno (guitar), Dwayne “Smitty” Smith (bass), Johnny Sandoval (percussion), Greg Adams (trumpet, flugelhorn), Lee Thornburg (trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone), Greg Vail (sax) and the ROQ Goddess String Quartet.

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Steve Gadd Band – Way Back Home – Live from Rochester, NY

He’s only one of the greatest drummers on the planet: Steve Gadd. Greatness, for the purposes of this article, is defined by a combination of skill on the kit, diversity of genres, versatility as an ensemble player, sideman and leader, and, of course, longevity. Employing the same lineup for his 2015 release, 70 Strong, featuring live versions of selections from that album and Gadditude, as well as some older songs, Gadd comes back in concert with Way Back Home – Live from Rochester, NY (BFM Jazz, 2016).

The package includes a CD and two DVDs – one of the concert, the other with interviews.

Along with Gadd, the players are Walt Fowler, trumpet and flugelhorn; Larry Goldings, keyboards; Jimmy Johnson, bass; and Michael Landau, guitars.

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Gazzara – Portrait in Acid Jazz

portraitinacid-jazzThe new Gazzara album Portrait In Acid Jazz (Irma) – number 7 in their discography – showcases the band’s exemplary and instantly recognizable way of producing “jazz related music” that stimulate the body while pleasing the mind. The group may have slimmed down from the first album’s seven-piece, but the original trio still blows roofs off wherever they play, live or in the studio. Adding the invaluable help of guest vocalists Lily Latuheru and Yasemin Sannino the new material recreates the unique atmosphere of early acid jazz era, when jazz and funk flirted with soul, bossa, disco and electronica. Instrumental toe tappers such as “We Had A Ball” and “Jazid Wonderland” sit well between gospel-soul vocal numbers as “Heaven”, “Into the Night” and “Laces”.

Even lounge/Bossa and disco/funk are still relevant, according to tunes as “Jazz Is” and “Portuguese Soul”. A portrait in acid jazz doesn’t mean a collection of covers, but an original album conceived and released with a deep passion for anything jazz related, the sparkle that led Gazzara’s studio and live work in the past 20 years.

Get your album at the band’s website.

Chase Huna – On the Chase

onthechaseSaxophone sensation Chase Huna‘s debut album On the Chase was recorded while Chase is still in his teens. It features top billboard artist and producer Steve Oliver. The album features 10 tracks. Pure is the first radio single with a great groove and memorable hooks. Into the Sun features sonic audio soundscapes taking you on a journey.

The album features multi instrumentalist/vocalist Steve Oliver, bassist Eddie Reddick, keyboardist Tateng Kinidig, drummer Eric Valentine and also features a song written around a drum groove that famed drummer Ricky Lawson played, Time Keeper (which was Ricky’s nickname). With well written songs and amazing playing by this young saxophonist this is a wonderful debut album that you can’t stop listening to. A must have!

On the Chase is available at Amazon.com.

Robert Damper – “D“ Tales

Seattle based keyboardist Robert Damper works for Kenny G as musical director and musician since more than 25 years. He performed with Stevie Wonder & Patti LaBelle and jazz greats like Roy Haynes, Jack DeJohnette and Branford Marsalis. Also to mention are his longtime collaborations with Najee, Tony Gable, Acousticsol and the Fatback Band.

“D” Tales is his debut album. Robert comments: “The music is finally at a place that I feel it is done. It’s time to get it out.” The album contains three covers, the rest are self-composed originals. It’s also a tribute to his dear friend and former Kenny G drummer, Bruce Carter, who passed away in 2006. “Bruce played such a vital role on so many of these tracks and he was an incredibly important influence on me and my music,” Damper says, remembering his friend fondly.

Guest musicians on this album are Kenny G, Najee and singer Skyler Jett. The album kicks off with a Spontaneous Epiphany. Enlightened and spiritually Robert builds a theme refining notes into emotional waves. The Oldskool Jam was released as first single in May, 2016. Robert excels on piano with expanding improvisations extensively supported by sax, horns and bass.

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Quinsin Nachoff – Flux

Strap yourselves in. You’re in for a ride unlike anything you’ve experienced. Saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff challenges the listener with Flux (Mythology Records, 2016).

Nachoff plays the tenor. Accompanying him are David Binney, alto sax; Matt Mitchell, piano, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Moog Rogue and organ; Kenny Wollesen, drums, timpani, tubular bells, and handcrafted percussion.

“Complimentary Opposites” opens with some quirky keyboard phrasing. The other instruments enter in what might best be described as random switching on and off. The saxes meld for what passes for a melody, but separate once the song goes full force. Binney stretches his creative muscle with an extended solo. His accompanists are seemingly in another world, as no two appear to be on the same page. Yet it somehow works. While each musician is in his own world, they’re not in conflict. After Nachoff goes a round, the mood softens for the acoustic piano. There, the drums do appear to complement, at times barely audible. Mitchell and Wollesen then take off on a parry and thrust sequence. This continues after the tenor rejoins. A slight hint of reggae is injected when the song shifts again, entering a more melodic phase. The pace, intensity and quirkiness pick up as the entire ensemble builds to an explosive ending. There are many elements to this piece. At 10 minutes, the group has time to cover them all.

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Kenny Wellington – Free Spirit

free-spiritTrumpet player Kenny Wellington was an original founder member of the groups Light Of The World and Beggar & Co and continues to write, arrange, produce and perform. As well as performing and recording with those groups he has recorded, arranged and played live dates with many artists from the different genres of soul, jazz funk, rock and pop. These artists include fine artists such as Tina Turner, Spandau Ballet, Paul Weller, and many others.

The inspiration for this album was to really tip the hat to all those great horn players over the years that have entranced us with the beauty of their music, Donald Byrd, Jimmy Owens, Chuck Mangione, Eddie Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Miles of course and so many others, the sound of the tenor voices, the flute, trumpet, flugelhorn, vibraphone a touch of strings all in the mix. Kenny has tried to find the balance within, to be able to listen and enjoy, to dance and to chill, to enjoy.

Free Spirit is available at Amazon.com.