Lebron – Undeniable

Saxophonist Lebron was influenced by his father who played the identical instrument professionally. Later Hugh Lovelady, the lead alto player for Frank Sinatra’s band, was his teacher. He started his solo career with the album Shades (2013) on CutMore Records. His sophomore album New Era was released in 2015 on Trippin ‘N’ Rhythm Records. Now he returns with his third project Undeniable (2019) on the same label.

Most tunes are written by Michael Broening, who also produced great parts of the album and plays keyboards, piano, drum programming and bass. Some of the tunes are produced by Matt Godina who performs keyboards, bass & drum programming and guitars. Additional musicians on selected tracks are Freddie Fox (rhythm guitars), Mel Brown (bass), Lin Rountree and Cindy Bradley (trumpet), Kendall Lee Gilder (guitar), and Anthony Saunders (vocals). Lebron performs soprano, alto and tenor saxophones.

The album starts with the grooving Issa Party that combines the stomping rhythm guitar sound of Freddie Fox with the tight horns of saxophonist Lebron and trumpet player Lin Rountree. On Feels like ’84 Lebron performs in lead position on his alto saxophone adding some horns in overdubbing mode, while Kendall Lee Gilder lets his guitar sing.

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Elan Trotman – Dear Marvin

Sax salutes sexy soul on Elan Trotman’s “Dear Marvin,” a collection of ten of Marvin Gaye’s best-loved songs that drops on April 2, the late legendary R&B singer’s 80th birthday. Preceding the set’s arrival is the single “Got To Give It Up,” a vibrant reboot of one of Gaye’s funky dance tracks that is the No. 1 most-added single on the Billboard chart this week as an instrumental from the Woodward Avenue Records album produced by Charles Haynes (Marcus Miller, Erykah Badu, Queen Latifah) and Trotman.

“It’s amazing how this project came about. ‘Got To Give It Up’ has been a huge part of my live show for the past two years and has always been a crowd favorite. That is just one of the many factors that inspired me to record the song and to dig deeper into Marvin’s catalogue and life story. I had no idea that his 80th birthday would be coming up around our time of completing the album, but once I found out, I knew we had to release it on April 2 to mark the occasion,” said Trotman, an award-winning saxophonist who has topped the Billboard singles chart more than ten times.

In reimagining Gaye’s catalogue in instrumental form, Trotman shares the spotlight on “Dear Marvin,” with premier soloists, including Grammy-winning keyboardist Jeff Lorber, seminal urban-jazz flautist Najee, esteemed trumpeter Patches Stewart, soul-jazz-hip hop-funk trombonist Jeff Bradshaw and veteran guitarist Sherrod Barnes. Trotman strategically deploys vocals to illumine a few key tracks. Ray Greene (Santana, Tower of Power) begs on “Mercy Mercy Me”; rapper Obadele Thompson plies his come-on skills to “I Want You”; and Tim “Smithsoneon” Smith provides the cure through “Sexual Healing.” Members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra enhance a pair of tracks with strings. Including Haynes, Trotman’s core collaborators are his former colleagues from Berklee College of Music: keyboardist Mitch Henry (Marsha Ambrosius), bassists Kyle Miles and Keithen Foster (H.E.R.), and percussionist Atticus Cole. Continue reading

James Dawkins – Phenomenon

James Dawkins is an accomplished Smooth Jazz Pianist from Miami, Fl. He’s traveled, toured and performed with some of the biggest names in the music industry. James Dawkins recently released his debut solo project called Smile for Me in 2015 and its creating a buzz all over the world in places like the USA, Germany, Spain, Japan, and Korea just to name a few! Please keep James on your radar because been he’s been a great sensation to the Jazz community!

His new album is entitled PhenomenonJames Dawkins’ third studio release. Early recordings began in early 2017 until June 2018 and released on August 3rd, 2018. There were many obstacles and alterations in between as well as last minute additions that brought this album to where it stands now. The fusion of jazz, funk and soul make the album a unique instrumental masterpiece. The album features vocals from Lady Blakkbyrd, David Olivieri and JeRonelle (who recently was a contestant on the show “The Four”) Many amazing musicians filled the feel good album with musical notes complimenting James’ keyboard playing. On drums we have Matias Menarguez & Nat Stokes, guitar with Hubie Wang, Tremaine Young & Andrew Paiva, and a special feature from saxophonist Donald Hayes. This album has been detailed from beginning to end where it takes you on a musical journey.

Phenomenon is on sale at iTunes.

Ed Brown – Legacy Volume I

His father played the guitar, the oldest brother, William picked up the drums, the youngest sister (at the time) Angela, started to sing lead, the youngest brother, Daniel, also picked up the guitar and before you knew it, the family even joined by Mom, Patsy, was out singing and playing as “The Souls Of Unity” gospel singers. The Souls of Unity grew apart and around that time, Ed was attending college in Landover, MD where he met Stanley Jones (who is now the keyboardist for the likes of Johnny Gill and Toni Braxton). Stanley was a member in the band “A New Beginning.” After seeing this band a few times and hangin’ out with Stan, Ed Brown knew he had to start a band of his own. Kharisma (pronounced the same as the word charisma). Tough Act To Follow was his next band. The duo group Salamy & Brown his next project.

In December, 2006, while Ed was preparing for a Tough Act To Follow reunion, he received an email that Diamond Alley was looking for a bass player. He contacted Doug Macuch (DA drummer/manager) and set up an audition. It was a very satisfying experience. And it was made clear that the job was mine if I wanted it. Well, here I am!

Ed Brown comments: “How many of use dream about making money with our music? Well, I’m one of them, but I have to say, this stuff ain’t easy. I’ve been trying to learn studio hardware, software and plugins on top of spending time learning how to be a better musician. I have played music for a very long time, but all I ever did was play by ear. So basically, I’m the old dog that has to learn new tricks…and old habits are truly hard to break.  After only playing by ear for so long, it was pretty jarring to find out how much I didn’t know about my instrument and I’m working extra hard to improve on that front. This album is called Legacy Volume I because it represents the starting point. I want to become a better producer, song writer and musician…and I have to start somewhere. I made a commitment to break the ice with this project so it could be a gauge for the continued Legacy projects.”

Legacy Volume I is Bass player’s heaven on CDBaby.

Rod Best – The Next Level

Hailing from Gayndah, Queensland in Australia multi-instrumentalist Rod Best is an unknown factor for most smooth jazz fans. On the other hand, there are an enormous number of musical albums waiting to be discovered.

Listed on CDBaby are among others Best Of Smooth(2015), The Best of Christmas (2015), The Best of Rod Best (2016), A Peaceful Place (2018), and The Next Level(2019). In addition you find on his website the album Groove On (2018).

The album presents with The Next Level Rod Best striking of the piano keys to a sound-generating melody grabbing your attention immediately with power and conviction.

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EJ Holmes – No Distractions

EJ Holmes has always had an ear for music, even as a child coming from a musical family of Cleveland, Ohio. He discovered the guitar at the age of 13. A present given to him by his grandfather, whom was a great retired jazz guitarist in Cleveland. EJ is a self-trained guitarist who has been playing the instrument for over 30 years. He has always excelled to play at the best of his ability in any group he has ventured with.

EJ Holmes plays many different styles, but his main style is smooth Jazz/R&B. You might also hear a lot of George Benson/Wes Montgomery/Norman Brown West Coast Style playing with high playing and (Scat Vocals) and including the crowd in his performance by meeting them face to face, going from table to table letting them know he appreciates their support. EJ Holmes comments his album: “The album No Distractions was inspired by my life, my trials , my ups and downs in try to accomplish to better myself and staying focused and not to let outside influences distract my goals and ambitions.”

Get No Distractions on CDBaby.

Lee B Holloway – Midwest Stroll

Lee B Holloway, (a.k.a) Andromidus is a professional musician, arranger, and producer. He has been playing music for over 35 years in a variety of genres focusing on contemporary jazz, funk, R&B, gospel, and contemporary christian. Last couple of years he has been working on the blues circuit with a local and talented blues artist, Sheryl Youngblood, which allowed him to share the stage with the blues legend Mr. Buddy Guy at his Chicago location Legends. You may also find him at a couple of other blues venues, House of Blues, and Blue Chicago. But he must confess that contemporary Jazz is his favorite.

Midwest Stroll is a good choice on CDBaby.