Archive for September, 2009

Greg Adams – East Bay Soul

eastbaysoulFormer Tower of Power mastermind Greg Adams has created a new project called East Bay Soul. Members of the band are Greg Adams (trumpet), Brian Allen (bass), Johnnie Bamont (sax and flute), Michael Paulo (sax), Joey Navarro (keyboards), Johnny Sandoval (percussion), Evan Stone (drums), Lee Thomburg (trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone) and James Wirrick (guitar). But don’t await an instrumental-only band. On the new album East Bay Soul are also a lot of vocals.

Nevertheless the band stands in the tradition of Tower of Power with a strong emphasis on the horns. East Bay Soul is entitled after the San Francisco East Bay Area. The group presents contemporary jazz with a big dose of R&B, just the right mixture to let you dance and groove.

The album starts with Survival Of The Hippest, a horn driven tune featuring Greg Adams on solo trumpet. Tom Bowes adds a short rap sequence which doesn’t change the brass laden character of the song.

Bop Drop is more or less a jazz interlude, a symbolic fig leaf for the jazz purists. Reading Lips features Tom Bowes, former lead singer of Tower of Power and today’s a member of the groups Funk Filharmonik. He puts his heart blood into melody and emotion.

Jump, Shout & Holler presents a further singer, Sean Holt. He recently appeared on Richard Smith’s L.A. Chillharmonic. His singing is very trenchant and unique. The cool is back on the mid-tempo What’s It Gonna Be?, Greg Adams and his muted trumpet.

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Tom Braxton – Endless Highway

endlesshighwayListening to saxophonist Tom Braxton on his latest release, Endless Highway, one cannot help being filled with a sense of joy as his music swirls through your soul and leaves you spellbound as he cleverly caresses each note of his lyrical melodies. A seasoned performer, who knows how to charm audiences of all ages, Braxton has his own distinctive and recognizable sound which incorporates elements of Jazz, Latin, Funk and R&B. This new disc highlights Braxton as a composer, producer and arranger along with six of his original compositions that feature his effortless transition from soprano, alto and tenor saxophones to showcasing his versatility on piano, keyboards and flute.

Bursting with exhilarating grooves and sizzling hot horn arrangements, Endless Highway on the Pacific Coast Jazz label, manages to lift Braxton to a new level of artistry as he pays homage to his friend and mentor, professional basketball player and bass guitarist, Wayman Tisdale, who recently died battling cancer. Braxton spent over seventeen years blending his sound with the gifted entertainer and the track, “That Wayman Smile,“ is dedicated to his loving spirit. “Wayman’s passing,” according to Tom, “is a reminder of our mortality and has made me determined to live my life to the fullest every day as I realize that tomorrow is not a guarantee for any of us.”Endless Highway is a testament to the many challenges Tom has faced along his highway of life, and he hopes it will help others as they continue down their own road. “We are all on this road of life, moving at our own pace, experiencing the smooth places where you can relax and the rough roads that can challenge and discourage you. But we must never forget how important it is to enjoy the ride!”

And Braxton definitely takes us on a memorable ride on this sensational soundtrack. Joined by an outstanding array of instrumentalists and vocalists, this recording is a toe-tapping, colorful, groove-oriented excursion with a sophisticated urban flavor that will make you feel like dancing and singing all day long. From the first and title track, “Endless Highway,” which signifies the beginning of this rhythmic ride, to the final track, “Home Sweet Home,” that transports us to the end of the CD that chronicles the many experiences we face in life, Braxton creatively completes the full circle of a smooth jazz journey.

Recognized as a proficient and skilled musician and collaborator, Tom has shared the stage with renowned artists including Dave Koz, Rick Braun, George Duke, Kirk Whalum, Jonathan Butler, Jeff Golub, Marcus Miller, Luther Vandross and Phillip Bailey. He has opened concerts for numerous jazz luminaries such as Norman Brown, Boney James, Najee, Dave Brubeck, Cab Calloway, Spyro Gyra, The Rippingtons, David Benoit, Pieces of a Dream, Michael Franks and The Crusaders.

Without a doubt, Endless Highway will drive Tom Braxton to the top of the charts while we take a trip with his inspiring tunes at home or on the road. So get ready to pack your bags, roll down the windows and crank up the volume in the “Braxton tradition.” “Creating music that brings people joy is my mission in life,” says Tom. Looks like he has accomplished his mission on Endless Highway.

Source: Pacific Coast Jazz

Aaron Bing – Secret Place

secretplaceJazz Artist Aaron Bing is a master musician of the soprano and alto saxophones- not to mention 20 other instruments (18 of which are self-taught). He has dedicated over 15 years of his life perfecting his musical talent. He has stayed focused and disciplined in giving himself to producing and promoting his craft.

Aaron Bing’s style has been described as exciting and fresh, tender yet powerful. Aaron Bing offers his own brand of Jazz. His Century debut signals the arrival of a major new talent, with music for audiences the world over! Secret Place is your choice at CDBaby.

Steve Baxter – Sugar On The Bone

sugarontheboneAfter a 6 years hiatus from In And Out Steve Baxter’s first solo CD , it got airplay on mostly independent radio but they really got behind it, they kept asking him when was something new coming out, he started brain storming on trying to put together something hip for trombone but still musically strong.

Sugar On The Bone is another feel good record that lends itself to the Crusaders sound, his former employee in which he toured with in 2003, members, Joe Sample, Wilton Felder, Ray Parker Jr. Randy Crawford, Freddie Washington and the talented young drummer Kendrick Scott. This CD have gospel and blues overtones in it but still swing and funky, he wrote this project for everyone, not just a certain age group, all original, no covers, people started telling him to do covers and he thought about it but he respects the original artist to much to try to cover their work and make it sound great, he would do them live at time but he got to many ideas flowing in his head, he plays this instrument and knows what sounds best with it.

Born in Houston Tx. first instrument Baritone, then move over to trombone by the age of 12. Steve have toured with some of the best Ray Charles, Horace Silve, Glady’s Knight, The O’Jays, Sheily E, and many more. Currently on the road with a master of music, Barry Manilow, he is a musician first and a great leader, he can take a chord and stretch it to sound like something you never heard before and put a melody on top to have you like, wow!

Steve have also performed on The Grammys, American Idol, The Emmy’s America’s Got Talent, Dancing With The Stars, The Wayne Brady Hour, BET Award and many others. Sugar On The Bone features some of LA’s most talented musicians and singers, featuring Michael Beardon, Sekou Bunch, Oscar Seaton( tracks 1,3,4,6,7,8 and 9) Michael Lington, Wilton Felder, Brandon Fields, Chris Standring, Randy Crawford, Val Davis, Billy Valentine, Munyungo Jackson and many more. Steve comments: “I know some will find this record different from the first but I think it was one of the best yet and truly hope you think so as well.” Well, Sugar On The Bone is arrived at CDBaby.

Galaxy Lounge – Welcome To The Party

welcometothepartyWelcome To The Party is a whole album of original, satisfying and luscious jazz, smooth jazz and lounge tracks with strong melodic themes, relaxed grooves and solid roots in traditional jazz that will carry you off to your own personal paradise, but without harmful side effects.

A citizen of Pennsylvania Jon Grindstaff, mastermind of Galaxy Lounge, is now returned to music with this personal project of mostly traditional and smooth jazz-based tunes with a refreshing dose of lounge sensibility – and a dash of humor – from his own uniquely colored perspective, Galaxy Lounge. Welcome To The Party is available at CDBaby.

Marcus Johnson – Poetically Justified

poeticallyjustifiedWhen we have to define the term entrepreneur in the smooth jazz genre, comes one person immediately in mind. Marcus Johnson is the musician with the greatest need and field of activity. He founded with businessman Robert L. Johnson the label Three Keys Music signing artists like Bobby Lyle, Jaared, Michael Lington, Joey Summerville, Nick Colionne and others.

He established the full-service recording studio, Studio 8121, where he also teaches music seminars. He has been morning host on Washington, DC’s Smooth Jazz 105.9. He teaches a music business development course at Bowie State University. Beside these activities he released fifteen albums while constantly touring the States and abroad.

On his new album Poetically Justified he invited musicians like David Dyson (bass), Marcus Anderson (EWI/vocoder, synthesizers), Stanley Cooper (guitar), Maysa (lead vocals) and many more.

The European chill out-style has started its triumphal march to the States. No wonder, that Marcus begins his album with the song Chillaxin. Marcus introduces the theme with some piano notes, then Freddy “Boom Boom” Moses lets the drum programming flow with chilling bongo and Tablas beats. He takes over the theme on synthesizers, modulating it in his multiple facets.

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Don Diego – A New Beginning

anewbeginningDon Diego is a contemporary jazz fusion saxophonist, vocalist and keyboard player who mixes instrumental covers of modern and classic R&B with rap and pop vocals. His music is divinely focused and undoubtedly appeals to the tastes of smooth jazz lovers. However, the urban flavor of Don Diego’s music is unmistakable. While the Kenny G and David Sandborn will be obvious, one will discover the underlying influences of modern gospel and classic Detroit soul.

In recent years, Diego has recorded with jazz greats Kirk Whalum and Gerald Albright. He reached the Billboard charts with “It Never Rains in Southern California on his “Razz” release and spent 26 weeks there. His music has been covered from various artists from pop to jazz including R&B superstar group Toni! Tony! Toné! Don has performed with Kenny G, George Howard and Najee. His versatility was on display when he toured with Vanilla Ice for three years and also played in B.B. King’s band.

His newest album A New Beginning delivers an urban fusion of smooth jazz melodies, R&B harmonies and Hip Hop rhythms. The album is available at Blue Canoe Records or other online stores.

The Sax Pack – The Pack Is Back

thepackisbackThe Sax Pack is a class act consisting of three signature sax players; Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters and Steve Cole. Backed by a tight rhythm section, the talented trio combine their life-long love of music and their passion for performance, to make an impact on audiences that love music as much as they do. Committed to sharing the excitement, spontaneity and creative energy that flows between them on stage, The Sax Pack inspires an audience far beyond the duration of a show.

On September 29 they will release their sophomore CD, The Pack Is Back. The 10-song CD features the first single, “Can’t Help Myself,” as well as such original tunes as “Wanna Get Closer” and “This Time Around.” There’s also as a bonus track, a remixed version of “Fallin’ For You” by Davy D.

Kashiwa says he styled the Sax Pack after the camaraderie and fun he saw with the original Rat Pack from the movies and from concerts – Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. “The whole thing started kind of as a chuckle, kind of emulating the Rat Pack. And the reason why everyone loved the Rat Pack so much – I mean, they’re all great singers and all great actors and entertainers and dancers – is because of their camaraderie. We re-created that with the Sax Pack.”

Yoshiaki Masuo – Life Is Good

lifeisgoodTo many, the word “relaxing” is interchangeable with “boring” when it comes to describing music. Guitarist Yoshiaki Masuo defies that concept on Life Is Good, an aptly named release on the Sunshine Ave. label.

The set begins pleasantly with the title song, a charming tribute to true love. Masuo then injects some traditional jazz and humor with “Wet Dog.” A dog barks periodically as Masuo and his sidemen – in this case, Larry Goldings on organ and Lenny White on drums – enjoy an all-out jam. Masuo’s play is a throwback to Wes Montgomery with a hint of George Benson. Goldings shows, during his solo, why he’s one of the most sought-after Hammond B-3 players. And White is in a zone, whether underscoring the leads with crisp cymbals play or filling the call and response with rolls on the snare and toms.

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Joe McBride – Lookin’ For A Change

In the digitally-driven 21st century, the landscape of American popular music exists in a constant state of metamorphosis. At any given moment, the lines between jazz, R&B, soul, funk, pop, hip-hop and countless other styles can become indistinguishable, and sometimes disappear altogether. Singer, pianist Joe McBride, an innovator since his first recordings in the early ’90s, understands this phenomenon on a first-hand level. And like any versatile artist who’s in it for the long haul, he’s learned to not only roll with the changes, but actively seek them out and explore their maximum artistic potential.

A longtime stalwart of the contemporary jazz scene, McBride takes a detour from his usual path for an intriguing new recording that reinterprets a dozen contemporary pop songs via straightahead jazz arrangements. His new CD, Lookin’ For A Change (HUCD 3144), was released on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group, on July 28, 2009.

Fleshed out with the help of a live trio – guitarist Dan Wilson, bassist Roger Hines and drummer Elijah Gilmore – Lookin’ For A Change is a collection of songs originally written and recorded by a range of pop luminaries, including Gnarls Barkley, Coldplay, John Mayer, Seal and several others. These reinterpretations, along with three original compositions from McBride”s own inspirational well, make for an engaging juxtaposition of the best elements of contemporary pop and traditional jazz.
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