Robert Christa – Smooth World

German pianist and composer Robert Christa is a musician you really should have on the radar. Since his debut Nightflight To Rio (2015) and his sophomore project City Lights in 2017 he has come out as an insider tip in the smooth jazz genre. This impression is convincingly confirmed by his third album Smooth World (2019).

Robert Christa performs on his new album keys, backing vocals and programming. He is joined on selected tracks by Robert Friedl (sax), Tom Reif (guitar), Bernd Hemminger (bass), Josiah Ruff, Stephanie Forryan, Mel Kamper (vocals), Mattias Hase (acoustic guitar), Llioba Bruns (cello), Natascha Weber, Lyn Conary, Daniana (backing vocals).

The album opens with Rise & Shine which reveals Christa’s penchant for perfect construction with a great opening. Saxophonist Robert Friedl and guitarist Tom Reif get plenty of opportunity to bring their own ideas to the play.

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Nathan Mitchell – Soulmate

The passion and essence of Nathan Mitchell’s music has penned his name in the hearts of musical innovators, listeners, and lovers all over the world. This BILLBOARD vocalist, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist is known best for his showmanship, unique talent, enthusiastic energy, and funk as a collaborator with many of smooth jazz top GRAMMY winning, nominated, and BILLBOARD artists.

As such, he has crisscrossed the globe, touring with luminaries of the smooth jazz/ RnB industry like Nick Colionne, Lin Rountree, Paul Brown, Jackiem Joyner, Elan Trotman, Dawn Robinson (En Vogue/ Lucy Pearl), Irene Cara, Stokley (Mint Condition), and many more premier industry artists.

His 2012 release of “For All Eternity” accompanied by the heartfelt tribute to his wife, who passed away of cancer in 2010, “My Angel” has noted the true passion of what music lovers crave in what they coin as – Music From The Heart. In 2014, he collaborated with James Lloyd (Pieces of a Dream) on to release his first billboard song “Play It Forward”. This placed Nathan on the radar of many established artists looking to make a new sound in the smooth jazz industry. His musical talents have taken him from Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Alaska, and many other parts of the world.

With his new album Soulmate (2019) he delivers a passionate, soulful, funky, and energetic approach to Soul Music and Smooth Jazz. Now for download only on CDBaby.

Steven Phillips – Sax Inspiration

As a little boy Steven Phillips was fascinated by modern pop and rock music. In his schooldays he learned electronic organ and the basics of music in the broadest sense. Early he recognized the advantages of modern music composition, and dealt with computers, synthesizers and drum machines. Steven Phillips is know as a songwriter, composer, arrager, keyboardist and producer of different styles of contemporary music.

He has worked for several artists, producers and record companies in Europe including Donals W. Richards (Céline Dion), Zippo (Swiss Charts), Richard Fontan (Urs Wiesendanger, Michael Landau, Nubya, Fabienne Louves, Bligg), Fanatic Wave, Moisha, Richard Koechli, Auenland Records, Ricardo Sanz Studio 4U Records etc. His strengths are also compositions for advertising, marketing and industry, so he composed for the market leader in lathes and milling machines, Gildemeister Germany. Steven Phillips is represented in various projects, among others, Free Sound Project, World Wide Pro Audio Directory, i-Music Production Guide, Pleasurize Music Foundation etc. His clients include SF DRS, Sound Ville Recording Studios, City Disc etc.

Major influences in his music come from various bands and performers, not only from rock, pop, jazz and classical music, but also of so-called world music. These influences in his compositions are not relevant, Steven Phillips is generally open to new, modern arrangements and various style. He now presents for friends of smooth jazz his album Sax Inspiration (2019).

You can buy this album on iTunes.

East Bay Soul – Underneath The Mistletoe

Underneath The Mistletoe is the first Christmas album of East Bay Soul.The arrangements are crafted by Greg Adams, known for lending his sound to some of the most important recordings in pop culture. Nick Milo will be in the co-producing chair along side Greg. Nick was the musical director for Joe Cocker with thirteen years at the helm. The title of the CD is inspired by Nick and co-writer Rocky Maffit who penned the original song.

This album is completely self-funded, and no expense will be spared to produce the highest quality recording. We just need some help to cover the costs of making the album and to share our Sweet Soul Christmas experience with friends, family and fans just in time for the holidays. These songs are recorded: Winter Wonderland, This Christmas, The Christmas Song, What Are You Doing New York Eve, Santa Claus Is Coming Home, Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer, Christmas Time Silver Bells.

Pre-order your copy here.

Gabriel Mark Hasselbach – MidCentury Modern Volume 2

Denver Colorado born trumpeter Gabriel Mark Hasselbach‘s album Open Invitation (2014) is known as one of his latest smooth jazz album. His album MidCentury Modern Volume 1 (2018) shows Gabriel’s affinity for the classic jazz genre. With MidCentury Modern Volume 2 (2019) he continues this way.

The line-up of the new album differs only slightly from its predecessor. Miles Black (piano, organ, bass), Laurence Mollerup (acoustic bass), Joel Fountain (drums) and Olaf DeShield (guitar) played already on Volume I, new to it are Cory Weeds and Ernie Watts (sax), furthermore Cord Lemon (electric bass) on selected tracks.

Superblue is very melodious, even if the attitude is jazzy. Gabriel expands his trumpet performance on a swinging rhythm, while Miles Black just sets accents with tasteful piano chords. In the middle of the theme he unchains to a larger piano solo with different rhythm background.

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Gina Leneé – Revealed

Revealed is pianist Gina Leneé‘s second album produced by Grammy-winner Will Ackerman and co-produced, engineered, and mastered by Tom Eaton. All but one track was composed by the artist (the exception being her cover of the famous romantic ballad “On the Wings of Love’). As would be expected of an Imaginary Road Studio effort, many of the IR’s usual suspects are present in varying roles: Charlie Bisharat (violin), Premik Russell Tubbs (soprano sax and EWI), Jeff Haynes (percussion), Eugene Friesen (cello) Jeff Oster (flugelhorn) as well as Ackerman (acoustic guitar) and Eaton (electric bass). As she showed on Red Diamonds, Leneé displays a deft touch and superb control of nuance and tone, and never allowing her playing to exhibit meaningless artifice or unnecessary pyrotechnics. The guest artists are used sparingly, but as one would expect, their talents contribute to the overall aesthetic of the album whenever they do appear on a song.

Whereas Red Diamonds focused on melodies glowing with soft shadings of romance, Revealed‘s sound tends to evoke a more pensive, somber mood on most tracks, making the album more reflective and even, perhaps, meditative. Leneé’s playing style is not truly minimalist, but tends to be more sparse than some of her contemporaries. And boy, does she make every note count. The prevailing mood of introspection is immediately discerned on the opening “Undeniable” on which Leneé is joined by Oster who colors the tune with a soft glow of jazz/blues. “Finding Me Again” continues the reflective aspect of the first song, albeit with a slightly warmer melodic approach. Leneé’s playing on this song flows nicely, as if a river wending its way through the countryside under a twilight’s amber-shaded sky.

Before delving into a few more of the songs, it’s important to quote some of the artist’s liner notes, which go a long way to explain the overall tone and mood of Revealed. “Revealed is a musical dedication to empower YOU, the listener, in the darkest moments when pain, rejection, self-doubt and isolation weakens your spirit and leaves you the most vulnerable.” You can understand, now, why the main thrust of the album is a musical portrait of self-exploration and a balancing act of somber melancholy as well as a show of subtle strength. “I Want to Get Closer” exemplifies this duality as the song traverses the opening somberness with a palpable climb to subtle drama, characterized by not just Leneé’s piano but Tubbs’ softly soaring sax playing. On “Over,” Bisharat’s violin embellishes the piano melody with just the right amount of tenderness without injecting any sense of the maudlin or faux sentimentality. “Run Away With Me” is a lighter, cheerier tune, with a slightly sped-up tempo (in comparison to most of the songs on the album). Oster’s horn work adds just the right amount of something extra, an element of romance to fuse with Leneé’s piano lead.

Throughout the entirety of Revealed, what stands out to me is the depth of feeling and sincerity of emotion that Leneé brings to the fore. This is the work of a mature artist, someone who is quite comfortable in opening her soul to the listener, pouring out her memories as notes on the keyboard. As the winter approaches (for us in the northern climes, at least), here is an album that almost begs to be listened to as the days grow shorter, the nights grow colder, and the outside world slowly goes to sleep. So, set a fire in the hearth, pour yourself a glass of wine, dim the lights, and indulge in the richness that is Revealed.

You can buy the album on CDBaby.

Brian Culbertson – XX

As chart-topping multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Brian Culbertson crafts his 20th album, the aptly titled “XX” – Roman numerals representing twenty – he revealed plans for the extensive US concert tour that will support the record release. Beginning April 1 in Louisville, Kentucky, Culbertson will take an elaborately designed concert production, The XX Tour, on the road for three consecutive months, playing more than 70 shows, an extremely rare feat for a contemporary jazz artist.

Culbertson’s catalogue includes recordings of jazz – contemporary and straight ahead – as well as R&B, funk, instrumental pop and New Age. “XX,” which drops April 10, reflects his remarkable diversity.

“It’s a mix of things that I’ve done throughout my twenty records. There’s a lot of funky instrumentals, some pop-sounding tracks, a couple slow jams, straight-ahead jazz, gospel, some vocals, lots of horns and some straight-up FUNK! The album is very much a mixture of some modern sounding programming along with live instruments, too. Real drums on almost everything mixed with programming. Definitely a cool sound,” said Culbertson, who invites fans to get involved with the making of “XX” via an Indiegogo campaign that launched this week (https://igg.me/at/BCXX).

Recreating that cool sound live for The XX Tour is Culbertson’s favorite part. Like his massive Colors of Love Tour that played 77 shows in three months and was captured for “Brian Culbertson’s Colors of Love Tour: Live in Las Vegas” Blu-ray disc and two-disc CD that dropped last Valentine’s Day, Culbertson is creating the sound and look for The XX Tour as a sensory experience. The exuberant performer spends months in preproduction meticulously conceiving stunning visuals – staging, lighting, wardrobe and effects – in order to put on a mesmerizing show each time he takes the stage. In addition to spotlighting the new album, the setlist will include cuts from Culbertson’s hit-filled songbook that has amassed 32 Billboard No. 1 singles. There will also be a segment showcasing songs from “Winter Stories,” an album released last month that placed him in an acoustic jazz trio setting for the first time.
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