Archive for February, 2010

Phil Traynor – Autumn Breeze

Phil Traynor has been a musician for about 35 years. He plays drums, bass, keyboards, and guitars. Phil’s early influences that pointed him toward the Jazz world include Chuck Mangione, Pat Metheny, Yellowjackets, Spyro Gyra, Tim Weisberg, and the Bob Mintzer Big Band. Phil is also heavily into Harry Connick Jr., and many independent artists. Being an indie himself, Phil is a staunch advocate of the independent music community. Most of you buy records, and don’t even realize how many thousands upon thousands of musicians, singers, and songwriters there are that have every bit of the talent, drive, and skill of the mainstream music community, but they just haven’t found the right break.

Autumn Breeze is the culmination of 25 years of songwriting, arranging, and playing experiences. It is a passionate collection of jazz with influences ranging from Jeff Lorber to Chuck Mangione to Bob James to Pat Metheny, and other greats in the jazz and folk world.

Phil has put together a distinguished group of outstanding musicians on this CD; including Emmy® winner and two-time Grammy® winner Chris Vadala (The Chuck Mangione Quartet); Emmy® nominee, and National Fingerstyle Champion Pete Huttlinger (John Denver, Le Ann Rimes, many others); Tampa Bay smooth jazz saxophone and vocal legend Stacey Knights; guitarists John Kelly, Douglas Lichterman, and Jimmy Dacey; keyboardist Dan O’Hara; and the incredible brass work of Bayside Horns.

Autumn Breeze is Phil’s third album and now on sale at CDBaby.

Main Gazane – Tit For Tat

Main Gazane, an old jazz term meaning my “main man” or my “main thing” is a new contemporary jazz group made up of keyboardist Mark Minchello and multi instrumentalist Bob Magnuson.

Mark Minchello is no stranger to the smooth jazz world. He started his career by touring with Luther Vandross and has since gone on to work with many other Jazz and R&B greats. He has most recently been serving as musical director for R&B Diva Regina Belle. He has also been keyboardist/musical director for two Jazz Explosion Tours featuring Boney James, Will Downing, Gerald Albright, Vesta and Regina Belle. He has recently produced smooth jazz trumpeter Gordon James featuring Chuck Loeb and Slide Hampton.

Bob Magnuson is a fixture on the New York studio scene. He has performed on countless radio and TV commercials. He has been featured on CDs by Patti Austin, Whitney Houston, Phobe Snow and B.B. King. He most recently has been touring with the 3 MO TENORS and Broadway R&B diva Jennifer Holiday. Not only is Bob proficient on all the woodwinds but he also excels on the electronic wind synthesizer.

Their newest album is entitled Tit For Tat and features 10 originals and 3 covers. The covers include Billy Ocean’s Caribbean Queen, Rolls Royce’s Wishin On A Star and The Whispers Rock Steady. The CD is a funky mixture featuring piano & sax. This is the fourth CD from the duo of Mark Minchello (keys) and Bob Magnuson (sax). The music is acessible yet engaging often referred to as smooth jazz with an edge. Tit For Tat is now available at CDBaby.

Jeff Hall – Cadillac Club and Detour Ahead

The week of February 22, 2010 marked the debut of the Mahogany Digital imprint, the newest label in Kevin Mahogany’s “Mahogany Jazz” family. Vocalist Jeff Hall, Kevin Mahogany’s protégé, is the first release to radio with the two singles Cadillac Club and Detour Ahead.

More about Jeff Hall:

Discovered by Kevin Mahogany, Jeff Hall has the vocal prowess reminiscent of jazz legend Mark Murphy. Hall brings a new urgency and street sense to traditional jazz, as evidenced by his vocal presentation and his on stage appearance. Hall defines a new direction for vocal jazz.

“When I heard Jeff, there was a quality in his voice there was a uniqueness to his sound,” Mahogany said with regard to his decision to introduce Jeff to the public. As a lyricist himself, Mahogany recognized Hall’s outstanding talent and assigned him the task of writing the lyrics to Cadillac Club.

Jeff Hall’s Cadillac Club and Detour Ahead singles will be the first singles to launch the new Mahogany Digital label. Don’t miss your chance to feature one of the hottest rising stars on the touring circuit today. All Jeff Hall singles will be available through various online retailers like iTunes, Amazon.mp3 and Rhapsody.

Sample and purchase the music at Sales on Amazon begin March 8, 2010.

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Kevin Peter Jones – Magnetic Journey

Drummer Kevin Peter Jones can look back on an excellent education. During his time at Elk Grove High School he met world renowned jazz drummers Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. Although trained as jet engine technician, flight engineer and pilot in the US Air Force his affinity for music never faded away.

He performed with The Yellowjackets, Bernard Wight, Wayman Tisdale, Will Kennedy and met the artists David Weckl, John Patitucci, Russell Ferrante, Jimmy Haslip, Sado Watanabe, Chick Correa and Steve Smith.

Kevin has just finished his debut album Magnetic Journey (2009). To make it special he invited top-notch artists like Eddie Baccus, Jr., Russell Ferrante, Jimmy Haslip, Eric Marienthal, Scott Ambush, and Mike Miller.

After the first notes of Modaji the listener already knows, that Kevin has created something exquisite with a great love to the detail. Dave Grusin composed this tune for Harvey Mason’s album Marching In The Street (1976) and published it one year later on his own record One Of A Kind. The rendition is a little slower than the original, but there is enough space for Eddie Baccus’ saxophone solo. Russell Ferrante delivers the retro feeling with his superb performance on Rhodes.

Continue reading Kevin Peter Jones – Magnetic Journey

Jonathan Butler – So Strong

According to Smooth Jazz Network Jonathan Butler has just recorded his album So Strong. The new album will be released on Rendezvous Records (Mack Avenue) on May 11, 2010. So Strong features 10 original songs written or co-written by Butler, and a cover of Johnny Nash’s I Can See Clearly Now.

Jonathan Butler comments his new project: “You can’t keep your head down all the time. You have to celebrate. With all that’s presently going on in the world, I felt the need to give something to the fans, to offer hope. I had to get to that fun place again. The album is a departure; it’s optimistic and positive. It’s get up-and-dance, and feel good. … It’s all about just letting go. It’s about fun with flavor and a lot of feeling. I call it the three Fs: fun, flavor and feeling.”

Guest musicians on the album, which was mainly recorded, arranged and composed by Butler are Dave Koz, Rick Braun,  Gordon Campbell, Angie Stone and Butler’s daughters Randy and Jode, which delivered background vocals.

Source: Smooth Jazz Network

Mbandi – Shades Of Pearl

Influenced by his African childhood and western upbringing, Mbandi’s music embraces gently flowing melodies as well as exotic rhythms that refresh like a tropical breeze.

Mbandi was born on May 11, 1979 in a town called Limbe (formerly Victoria), which is on the West Coast of Cameroon in West Africa. He was first introduced to the piano in his early teens when his father purchased a keyboard for his older brothers. “I still didn’t fall in love with the piano then because I thought it was for girls. It wasn’t until my dad forced me to take piano lessons at the age of 14 that I discovered the wonders of the piano”. Piano lessons might have increased his interest in the piano but the lessons lasted for two weeks only. “I was more interested in popular music but my piano teacher insisted on teaching only classical music”. As a result, Mbandi decided to teach himself how to play and compose music. He composed his first song at the age of fifteen and has composed close to a hundred songs since then.

Mbandi left his native country of Cameroon in August of 1994 at the age 15 to attend University in Pennsylvania. While in college, he formed a band and played for campus and local events. After graduating in 1998, he decided to concentrate on career in music, his first love. Mbandi now 30yrs old, lives in the Washington DC metro area. His new album Shades Of Pearl offers gentle rhythms with a foundation for harmonic textures created by the blending of acoustic instruments (piano, wooden flutes, guitars and saxophone) with rich synthesized sounds.

A subtle backdrop ambiance of lush string and non-lyrical vocal harmonies adds richness and color to this instrumental masterpiece. Sit back, relax and let Mbandi’s music take you on an a beautiful journey.

Shades Of Pearl is available now at CDBaby.

Whitney James – The Nature of Love

What can be said about an album when you love the lead but find the rest uninteresting? That’s the rare dilemma faced when hearing Whitney James’ The Nature of Love, her debut on Stir Stick Music.

It’s not that the band disappoints. The vocalist is accompanied by a talented supporting cast of Ingrid Jensen on trumpet and flugelhorn, Joshua Wolff on piano, Matt Clohesy on bass and Jon Wikan on drums and percussion. For their part, the musicians do their jobs admirably and, at times, superbly.

So what’s the problem? Maybe it’s the set selection. Nine standards from the “American Songbook,” most of which have been covered and covered again, so that anything short of an off-the-beaten path presentation will leave one searching for something positive to say. Maybe it’s the arrangements. They’re all pretty straightforward, leaving James and her accompaniment to win listeners with the delicate balance of individual voice and coloring within the lines.

Continue reading Whitney James’ – The Nature of Love

Lynn Riley – Too Cool

What makes Smooth Jazz so saxy? Female Sax players like Pamela Williams, Candy Dulfer, Mindi Abair, Ada Rovatti, Jessy J are quickly coming in my mind. Now we can add a new name. Lynn Riley just released her debut album Too Cool (2008).

Lynn is joined by Rubin Edwards, who plays all sort of bass on the album and also contributes most of the compositions and arrangements. Further musicians are Kim Smith (vocals), Donna Bostock (percussion), Alex Bouno (electric Guitar), Staci Dickerson (vocals), Blaine Bostock and Russ Ferrara (acoustic guitar), who perform on parts of the album.

Following the path of Maceo Parker and Candy Dulfer Lynn presents Too Cool, a funky and energetic tune with great verve. One shouldn’t underestimate that lady!

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Jack Prybylski – Out of the Box

What do you get when you combine elements of trance, steeped in a generous underlayment of rhythm with a heat-infused saxophone that is masterfully caressed by one very bad cat? You get a pass on a very trippy vibe that some might say is Out of the Box.

Produced by Four 80 East (one of the hottest bands that has existed to defy all the rules), Out of the Box (Innervision Records) is the third solo release by saxophonist Jack Prybylski. Prybylski initially caught the ear of radio with his sophomore release, Window Shopping, by garnering national praise from critics for his smooth melodic style. “Jacks instantly appealing music and strong sound make Window Shopping one of the best independent releases this year,” declared Smooth Jazz News.

However, unbeknown to smooth jazz fans, Prybylski cut his teeth on the bandstand playing with respected working bands like Them Jazzbeards, which included components of the West Coast cool sound. With a resume that includes a master’s degree in music, esteemed education credentials and having won “Saxophonist of the Year” ten times in Buffalo, Prybylski has a serious background steeped in a rich mixture of jazz, rock and blues history.

Working with Four 80 East on Out of the Box gave Prybylski the chance to materialize the artistic breadth of the bandstand to studio track without losing his established radio friendly appeal. The result was a sound that brings his contemporary jazz journey full circle.

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Michael J Thomas – City Beat

Those, who lead us to believe that smooth jazz is something for the older generation, fail to notice the large crowd of young musicians, which are keen to entertain the audience. Out of this overwhelming legion of new musicians I pick today Michael J Thomas. Once a member of the Jive Rockets, he joined the smooth jazz genre after moving to Destin, Florida in 1999.

City Beat, Michael’s debut album, is scheduled for release March 2nd on Harbor Breeze Records. Produced by Shannon Wallace and Michael J Thomas the new album deserves a comprehensive reflection. Michael is supported by Jonathan Davis (drums & percussion), Eric Lampley (bass), Diki Ross (keyboards), Shannon Wallace (guitar), and Paul Scurto (trumpet).

The journey starts in Midtown Manhattan not in a bombastic way but with a superb elegance, which is a good sign for Michael’s sincerity as a professional musician. Michael don’t just play the melody but tries to interprets the interrelation of the complete theme.

Sure, as a young musician Michael follows his idols like Dave Koz, Richard Elliot or Boney James, but City Beat shows it up, Michael does it with accurateness. Have we anything to offer our guests? The romantic Wedding Song (Forever Always) for countless matrimonies. I have to admit, Shannon Wallace can play his guitar!

Continue reading Michael J Thomas – City Beat