Michiyo Kitagawa – The Sun Still Smiles

292665707_5027958387303168_3027029425971036306_nJapanese saxophonist Michiyo Kitagawa performed in several bands like Dad Mam God and Rocket Punch. Her debut album was Theater`M in 1998. After her return to Tokyo she released her second album Tete in 2015. This album features Roberto Vally on bass. Her third album is KOOL (2018). KOOL is an intimate deep insight into the delicate emotional world of the Japanese artist Michiyo Kitagawa. Her next album Beautiful Green was released in December, 2020.

Her newest project is the EP The Sun Still Smiles (2022) produced by Roberto Vally. The album features Tom Schuman, Mark Etheredge, Morris O’ Connor, Leon Bisquera, Michael Sims, and Carlyle Bariteau.

Get the album here.

Jim Adkins – Soul Expression

jim_adkins_soul_expressionIn 1998 I have bought Jim Adkins’ debut album Just Chillin and was deeply impressed by his guitar music. Twenty four years later I renew my knowledge about this guitar maestro with his album Soul Expression (2022).

In between, there have been such great albums as Turning Point (2001), License To Play (2004), City Streets (2008), and The Journey (2015). His latest album contains one cover version, but otherwise exclusively original compositions.

At the recording Jim was joined by his friends Matthew Steele (bass), Lance Dickerson (keyboards), Gerard Johnson (keyboards, percussion), Rob Holmes (sax), Bill Evans (piano), Steve Brooks (organ, keyboards), Logan Tucker (keyboards), and Keith Horn (bass). Please refer to the credits for details.

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Nils – Cool Shades

61e5pcS0APL._SX522_LA based jazz guitarist Nils belongs to the first guard of top guitarists of the smooth jazz genre with albums like Blue Planet (1998), Pacific Coast Highway (2005), Ready To Play (2007), Up Close And Personal (2009), What The Funk (2010), City Groove (2012),  Alley Cat (2015), and Play (2018). His  album Caught In The Groove (2020) has met an audience in difficult times.

That album was also #1 on the smooth jazz album chart for an unprecedented 1 year! Nils new release “Cool Shades” sounds like another big hit for him. Nils also has a large following of fans as is event from the millions of views credited to his YouTube videos, performance tours and his weekly podcast shows.

Pre-order the album on Amazon.com.

Victor Towle – The Space In Between

thespaceinbetweenDuring the day, the American Victor Towle works as a social worker. He is also active as a songwriter and musician. He has already released 6 albums, and this is his third in the New Age genre.

However, his first musical influences were The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, Jeff Beck, and The Grateful Dead. Victor played a mixture of jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, soul, gospel, and R&B with his guitar and harmonica.

He was compared to John Hyatt and Jackson Brown. But his acoustic New Age music is devoted to yoga, mindfulness and meditation. It should lead the listener to a relaxed state of well-being.

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Grant Geissman – Blooz

BloozGrant Geissman (born April 13, 1953) is a crossover jazz, smooth jazz and new age guitarist and an Emmy-nominated composer for network TV series and TV movies. An in-demand studio musician, he has recorded extensively for several labels since 1976, and he can be heard playing guitar on the theme for “Monk” and other TV series.

Geissman has released more than 13 albums as a leader. Two of his albums (“Flying Colors” and “Time Will Tell”) rose to the number one position in the Gavin and Radio and Records Contemporary Jazz airplay charts, and most of his recent recordings have cracked the top ten. He has recorded with such artists as Quincy Jones (“Q’s Jook Joint”, 1995), Keiko Matsui, 3rd Force, David Benoit, Cheryl Bentyne, Lorraine Feather and Dianne Schur. He also had a guitar solo as a separate track on the Tiffany album “Hold an Old Friend’s Hand”.

His newest album is Blooz (2022) with special guests Randy BreckerTom ScottDavid GarfieldRussell FerranteJosh SmithJoe Bonamassa, Robben Ford, and John Jorgenson. Available in all stores.

Barry Coates, Jimmy Haslip, Jerry Kalaf – New Dreams

newdreamsWhen 3 like-minded veterans of the music business put their heads together and decide to explore the cerebral, the exploratory and the connectivity between the chemistry, you arrive at this result.

Electric and synth guitarist Barry Coates, who has toured with Pointer Sisters, Angela Bofill, Willie Bobo, John Klemmer and Kitaro, has also provided music for films and TV shows such as ‘Dead Bang’, ‘Partners in Crime’, ‘Fatal Attraction’, Two on the Town’, ‘Eye on Hollywood’, ‘Partners in Crime’, the ‘Weather Channel,’ and ‘Playboy After Dark’.

In addition, he recorded 2 albums with his band Barry Coates & the Hats, after which he collaborated with bassist Jimmy Haslip on the third, ‘The Spirit Within’.

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Khari Cabral Simmons & Jiva – 5

5In the 90’s, Atlanta was a melting pot for burgeoning soul music, house music DJ’s and an underground jazz scene. Khari Cabral Simmons stood at the point where all of these met, as an upcoming bassist and bandleader. It was in this creatively fertile environment that Khari made his start in music. He started playing bass for many of the artists in the scene, such as Bilal Sunni Ali (Sun Ra), Donnie (The Colored Section), Gaelle (Naked Music) and India Arie. He also started to do recording sessions, playing on house music recordings, including a remix for KD Lang. After a few years of recording dance and soul music, Khari started looking to make his own vehicle for upbeat soulful music. It was then that he created Jiva. Jiva would go on to play all over the Atlanta area, performing alongside artists like Roy Ayers and Incognito.

While Khari Cabral & JIVA were making noise throughout the globe, Khari’s dear friend India Arie got signed to Motown Records. She asked Khari to become her touring bassist, and he accommodated the request. He spent years touring the world with India. Together, they performed on The Tonight Show, The Late Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Grammys, Saturday Night Live and many more. They also spent 3 months touring with Sade. After his success as a Grammy Award winning bassist, Khari was courted by NYC tastemakers, Giant Step Records. JIVA would go on to release 3 singles, an EP and the full length album ”Sun & Moon” with Giant Step.

The era of Covid found Khari taking a break from playing live shows. That time also found Khari reflecting on the roots of his band. Watching the rise of D-Nice, the DJ that brought the nation together by playing upbeat soul music DJ-sets on Instagram, inspired Khari. After seeing so many people brought together through the music at the center of his soul, Khari began to write the next JIVA album.

The result is the new Khari Cabral & JIVA album, “5”. Khari let his dear friend and leader of Incognito, Bluey, hear his first recorded songs. After hearing three songs, Bluey got Khari a recording deal with his label, Splash Blue Music. Holding down the main vocals for this album are Atlanta vocalists Cleveland Jones and Brenda Nicole Moorer. Joining them as guests singers are Lizz Wright, Artia Lockett and Lindsey Webster. Along with his all star rhythm section, Khari lays down the funk with the intent to bring us together again as one nation under a groove!

Download the album here.

Vicki Burns – Lotus Blossom Days

lotusblossomdaysThe American jazz singer Vicki Burns specializes in romantic music from the last century, but is therefore not tied to the Great American Songbook.

She grew up in Maine and decided to become a singer when she was six. She performed in school and in choirs, with her father being a major influence. Vicki, for example, started writing plays and musicals when she was eleven. Four years later, she was in a pop band and began taking classical singing lessons. Her father encouraged her to listen to Ella Fitzgerald and Vicki was instantly hooked.

She attended the University of New Hampshire and became a singer in a professional big band while she was there. After her marriage she started a jazz band herself. But that ended in divorce, and Vicki moved first to New York City, then to California. There she attended the San Jose State graduate program for improvised music.

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Stix Hooper – Orchestrally Speaking

OrchestrallySpeakingInternationally renowned musician Stix Hooper, best known as one of the founding members of the seminal group The Crusaders, (which garnered numerous platinum and gold albums during their amazing 30-year career) has released his latest album, Orchestrally Speaking, on Thursday, April 28th. The highly anticipated record is available on Amazon, Spotify, iTunes, and Hooper’s website at www.StixHooper.com, or wherever you purchase your music.

A multi-Grammy-nominated artist and acclaimed master percussionist, Hooper used his comprehensive talents as composer, arranger, songwriter, drummer, and conductor to bring Orchestrally Speaking to life. Always a musical innovator, his current music provides a new, fresh perspective on an already impressive body of work that continues to move the boundaries of music forward in an unexpected direction. The result is a record that reflects both the evolution and culmination of the full musical spectrum of Hooper’s career.

Hooper takes a different approach with this latest recording, revisiting many of his own original compositions, expanding beyond his characteristic groove, to explore the orchestral genre. Orchestrally Speaking is a symphonic, colorful expression of the different shades of love, harmony and romance we all experience. Continue reading

Sidney Jacobs – If I Were Your Woman

ifiwereyourwomanThe African-American jazz singer, songwriter, arranger and producer Sidney Jacobs is completely unknown to me. However, he is the newest member of the legendary group The 5th Dimension.

Born in LA, Jacobs writes songs with elements of bop, R&B, swing, soul, sound experiments and the Great American Songbook. His 2017 debut album, ‘First Man’, was critically acclaimed.

The concept for this new album came about through one of his live performances. He then chose to perform a Nnenna Freelon arrangement of the song ‘I Feel Pretty’ from West Side Story. The audience loved it, and his wife then gave him the idea to record an entire album of female-oriented songs.

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