Grance Taff – Still a Minor?

Grance Taff (born Khalil Lejon Williams) grew up in the San Joaquin Valley, California playing saxophone, drums and keys from a young age, and largely in his church. Khalil began writing music around the age of 14, but given his lack of access to high-end recording gear, he began experimenting with the means he had available: hand-me-down iPhones and iPod Touches with first Music On: Drums (Nintendo 3DS), then Frooty Loops Studio. He found his sound on saxophone in 5th grade and began developing it. 6 years later, Khalil was introduced to Berklee College of Music’s Five-Week Program, at which he fell in love with the school and committed two years after (taking one year to graduate high school and another to attend community college to build up credits).

He is currently producing and recording his own music. “Still a Minor?” is his first official album release under the pseudonym Grance Taff (say it three times fast!). The songs are all produced by and feature him on saxophone. The album’s title synthesizes Khalil’s personal evaluation of his behavior.

Check it out on CDBaby.

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Chillaxonic – Ist Facet

Ukraine-born multi-instrumentalist Konstantin Klashtorni has released his newest creation 1st Facet under the project name Chillaxonic. It is probably due to the effervescent creativity of this gifted artist that he publishes his works under more and more new names. On the other hand, this name also results from a combination of the music styles Jazz, Chill Out and Electronica, which can be found on the new album.

We are already used to it from Konstantin that he utilizes the advantages of his own studio and records the album quasi all by himself. However this album features Michael Simon (trumpet) and Alex Yarosh (guitar) as guest musicians on selected tracks. Konstantin has written, mixed and recorded all tracks.

The new project starts stylistically, where Konstantin’s previous albums left off. Ineffable elegantly mixes pleasurable sounds of guitar, synths and sax to the typical Klashtorni groove. Ethereal is the attribute for extremely light and delicate music, as if not of this world.

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Elliott Yourse – Finally

Hailing from Greensboro, North Carolina saxophonist Elliott Yourse studied management information systems at Winston-Salem State University. Now he has made his bachelor work in music called Finally. A smooth jazz album infused with modern R&B and Trap Music elements.

Get this album on CDBaby.

Jamie Bonk – Who Said It Was Easy?

Canadian guitarist Jamie Bonk is a constant distributor to the music world. After his self-titled debut album (1997), followed A Perfect Tomorrow (2000), My World (2004), 5 (2007), St. Joseph Street (2009), Side B (2010) and in 2012 Necessity.

His newest project is Who Said It Was Easy? (2018) offering fourteen melodic guitar-based instrumental tracks influenced by jazz, rock and folk and recorded in beautiful Vancouver, BC.

This album is for download only at CDBaby.

Fabio Mignola – Encantado

A Swiss guitarist with Italian heritage that sounds promising. Fabio Mignola studied his instrument with professor Dante Brenna and with further virtuosos like Alberto Ponce, Alexander Rodrigues and Ralph Towner. His solo albums mirror his diverse styles and influences. In 1999 he released Chitarra Ticinese, solo guitar arrangements of folk songs, followed by Flor de Luna (2000), a collection of auxiliary solo recordings. His first step into the contemporary jazz genre was the album Flyin’ Away (2003), which was compared with the music of Peter White and Acoustic Alchemy. Neapolitan jazz is to hear on his album Luna Rossa (2005). His next album Take Me Higher (2008) received high acclaims by many Internet critics of the smooth jazz realm.

His new album Encantado (2018) is a unique blend of Smooth Jazz with Brazilian flavors and rhythms with lush harmonies performed by a impassioned guitarist.

Buy the album on CDBaby.

Jake Shimabukuro – The Greatest Day

It is a unique characteristic to play an instrument that is rare in the smooth jazz field. Hawaiian Jake Shimabukuro‘s favorite instrument is the Ukulele. With his Ukulele, he has already achieved a degree of popularity that has enabled him to collaborate with such well-known artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Jimmy Buffett, Bette Midler, Cyndi Lauper, Jack Johnson, Ziggy Marley, Dave Koz, Michael McDonald, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Tommy Emmanuel, and Marty Friedman.

His new album The Greatest Day (2018) is a colorful bouquet of familiar melodies, which get their own tinge from Jake’s instrument. The album also contains original compositions, of course, in which Jake also proves his creativity as a songwriter. Besides the producer R.S. Field, bassist Nolan Verner and drummer Evan Hutchings, he also invited guitarist Dave Preston for his new project.

The actual album contains twelve tracks, but these have been expanded to 17 tracks in the ’18 Live version. Time of the Season is a song by the British rock band the Zombies, featured on their 1968 album Odessey and Oracle. Jake’s cover conveys the soft rock character of the original in an unadulterated way.

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Yellowjackets – Raising Our Voice

While the Los Angeles-based Yellowjackets have been a creative force on the jazz scene since 1981 when they recorded their eponymous debut, their fourth Mack Avenue Records album, Raising Our Voice, once again ups the ante with bold new strides by inviting vocalist extraordinaire Luciana Souza to collaborate with the group for seven of its thirteen tunes as well as subtly taking a resistant stand against the status quo of the cultural and political undercurrent of our times.

The Jackets are comprised of pianist/keyboardist/co-founder Russell Ferrante, bassist Dane Alderson in his second recording with the group and drummer Will Kennedy, who joined the band in 1987 and then in 2000 took a 10-year hiatus before returning to the drum chair. As a relative outsider, Souza contributes wordless vocals as well as songs sung in Portuguese and English. She was quickly won over by the band.

“They’re killers,” she says. “They’re so serious yet also so much fun. We laughed a lot during the sessions. Their curiosity is alive, and their joy is to make great music. I was originally going to just do three songs, but it ended up that I’m on over half the record.”

The collection features three old Yellowjackets tunes arranged for a fresh ride with Souza’s contributions, two co-writes with Ferrante and Souza, three new originals each for Ferrante and Mintzer, and Alderson’s first original piece for the band along with two short electronics interludes.

You can pre-order the album on Amazon.com.

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