Archive for April, 2010

Shaun LaBelle – Desert Nights

At age five, Shaun LaBelle appeared in his first nationally televised commercial for the Lakeside Toys game called “Drop in the Bucket,” and he also taught himself to play drums. Shaun was faced with the decision to pursue a career in television as an actor or become a musician. This child prodigy has done all of the above. Shaun isn’t your typical jazz artist. He is the son of Larry LaBelle legendary TV producer on hit shows such as the Milton Berle show, and campaigns with Betty Crocker, Land O’Lakes and Hamm’s Beer.

Shaun learned from the best and it’s no accident where he is today. Shaun engulfs himself in the media entertainment business, from recording and producing a diversity of styles from Ray Charles to Everette Harp. To starring in the entertainment based show, What’s Up In Hollywood for KARE11, NBC-Minneapolis. Current date he’s in production with American Idol fame Paula Abdul on her new album and nominated for commercial advertisements in production and voice over work. Shaun is a multi-instrumentalist in bass, drums, keyboards and guitar and is a multi-top ten writer with a number one hit in Europe with Warner Bros Pop R&B artist Shola Ama, winner of Brits Best Artist (UK’s version of the Grammy’s).

Shaun’s producing career has been filled with legendary groups such as David Pack (Ambrosia), multiple records with Everette Harp, (1992– Present) Jeff Kashiwa, and Steve Reid (Rippingtons.) Shaun has worked with Branford Marsalis, and the group Pieces of a Dream. He founded Clive Davis’s group No Mercy who sold 5 million albums worldwide. Shaun performed bass on the Larger Than Life tour for Grammy award winning recording artist Jody Watley. Shaun is integrated with three major publishing deals that include two from Warner Chappell and today’s world’s largest music publisher EMI.

Now this accomplished producer is getting back to his roots. The record came to be, as numerous artist felt it was time for Shaun to come out with his own album. With a little help from his friends, Shaun called his music powerhouse entourage featuring Tom Saviano (Executive Producer of Desert Nights), and Everette Harp. Platinum Mint Condition superstar drummer Stokley Williams and guitarist David Barry who is currently in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace performing on stage with Cher. Adding legendary Grammy award winning mixer Rob Chiarelli (All of Will Smith’s Albums and hits such as Gangsta’s Paradise) Desert Nights is a refreshing edge to smooth Jazz. Shaun LaBelle’s single Desert Nights is due out since September. The album is available at CDBaby.

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Arturo Sandoval – A Time For Love

In what promises to be a breakthrough achievement in a long and celebrated career, jazz impresario Arturo Sandoval‘s collection A Time For Love will be released by Concord Jazz. The album features classical compositions for orchestra and jazz trio by Grammy-winning arranger Jorge Calandrelli along with a sprinkling of American jazz standards by composers including Gershwin and Chaplin.

The Havana-born Sandoval, a multiple Grammy-winning horn player, has been yearning to do this album for decades. “It’s been twenty years since I came to live in the United States,” he explains, “and practically every year, with every record label who’s signed me, I’ve asked to make this style album. ‘Let me play softly,’ I said. ‘Let me play ballads with big orchestration behind me. Let me hear the violins and violas, the oboes and the flutes. Let me be inspired by a symphonic setting.”

However, record labels were reluctant to endorse this type of work by an artist known internationally for his own style of bebop-influenced Afro-Cuban jazz and for his technical precision. So, he took matters into his own hands by recording 20 tracks in his home studio that he described as speaking “the language of love.” A superb keyboardist as well as trumpet player, Sandoval played all the instruments and suggested the strings through a synthesizer.

Just when Sandoval was convinced that he would have to release the album himself, a meeting was held with Concord executive Gregg Field, who immediately embraced the project concept and agreed to come aboard as the album’s producer. “Over the next month, we discussed different ideas. As a foundation, Arturo had heard the Shelly Berg Trio album Blackbird and wanted that sound and sensitivity,” said Field. “I suggested Jorge Calandrelli as the arranger for the orchestra and Arturo, who had worked with Jorge in the past, loved the idea. Jorge has tremendous experience with multiple genres including classical cross-over having produced and arranged among others, YoYo Ma’s Soul of the Tango and Obrigato Brazil.”

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Chris Botti in Boston

Trumpeter Chris Botti, a gifted instrumentalist and a charismatic performer in the realm of contemporary jazz, has simultaneously captured the attention of the pop music world. The incredible group of Botti’s featured guest artists, along with his world-class band, includes Sting, Lucia Micarelli, John Mayer, Josh Groban, Katharine McPhee, Yo-Yo Ma, Steven Tyler and Sy Smith, with Keith Lockhart conducting the Boston Pops.

A very comprehensive review of this phenomenal concert by Val Vaccaro is published at Smooth Jazz Vibes. The concert was taped on CD, DVD and Blu-Ray. Botti comments this event: “the artists that performed in Boston are my friends. They’re not just people that I called up because they’re big stars. I’ve known them socially and I think that shows on the DVD and how everyone’s just kind of loose and we’re all having fun.”

Hot Club of Detroit – It’s About That Time

The family tree that traces its roots to the Quintette du Hot Club de France has sprouted countless branches across the globe in the seventy years since Django Reinhardt first jammed with Stephane Grappelli. It seems like a new city lays claim to its own Hot Club on a virtually daily basis, but the Hot Club of Detroit is undoubtedly the apple that has fallen farthest from that tree.

The blistering fretwork on the opening track of the group’s third CD, It’s About That Time, pays explicit homage to one of their six-string heroes – just not the one you might think. “On the Steps” is based on the chord changes of Pat Martino’s “On the Stairs” (with a brief borrowing from John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” to complete the pun), and states at the outset what fans of these gypsy jazz revisionists have long known – that Django Reinhardt is far from the beginning and end of the Hot Club of Detroit’s vocabulary of influences.

“Django Reinhardt is the showerhead from which we all come down,” says guitarist and bandleader Evan Perri. “But if he had lived, I don’t think he would’ve been playing the same things he had in prior years. He was constantly evolving as a jazz musician.”

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G. Science – Smooth Jazz Collection

G. Science aka Gabriel Saientz, a pianist and composer from Argentina, found his new home in Miami. He graduated cum Laude at the University of Miami with a bachelor in studio music and jazz performance. He has played around the states with artists like Nestor Torres, Steve Rucker, Matt Benelli and many more. He signed a contract with Muzak, The Weather Channel Essential Music.

Smooth Jazz Collection is a compilation of songs featured on the Weather Channel and many other background music venues. These songs showcase top Miami musicians and a variety of colorful rhythms and flavors for your listening pleasure. If you are a smooth jazz lover you are up for a treat.

These smooth jazz tunes are available as Smooth Jazz Collections I and II at CDBaby.

Neighbourhood – Maybe Tomorrow

Hailing from Sweden the group Neighbourhood is ready for take off. Members of the group are Kristian Persson (trombone & compositions), Jens Filipsson (saxophones & flute), Jonne Bentlöv (trumpet). Edvin Nahlin (keyboards), Aleks Brdarski (bass), and Sebastian Ågren (drums).

The band was founded by Kristian Persson in the autumn of 2008. He also composed all tracks of the debut album Maybe Tomorrow, which was recorded during the autumn of 2009 in Gävle and Stockholm and is now distributed by Stockholm Jazz Records.

Influenced by the music of the 70’s the group presents a personal style beyond the contemporary music streams. The group underlines their Attitude with the introducing track. Listen to the great horn arrangement comparable with groups like Tower of Power or Chicago. Kristian’s trombone has a signature sound and his solo is excellent. The Hammond B3 delivers additional groove and a fantastic retro feeling.

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Ranee Lee – Lives Upstairs

It’s been a rather amazing journey for Ranee Lee, who for several decades has reigned virtually unchallenged as the Queen of Canada’s jazz divas. Ms. Lee recently won the coveted Juno Award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year (beating out Diana Krall, Emilie-Claire Barlow and Carol Welsman) for Lives Upstairs, her new release for Justin Time, Canada’s leading jazz label. “That recognition really does give you the seal of approval,” says Ranee, who has recorded many albums for the Montreal label. She has won and been nominated for many awards for both her singing and teaching; she’s played at every major jazz festival in North America and the world; she’s shared the stage and the microphone with hundreds of the great players of our time.

(What isn’t quite as well known is that Ms. Lee is a native New Yorker – born and raised in Brooklyn, as a matter of fact. “I think that everybody grew up in Brooklyn,” she says. “Every time I meet someone from the states they’ve either lived there or are still there – it’s like the center of the universe or something!”)

Ms. Lee’s first album, Live At “Le Bijou” was taped at that club in Old Montreal in 1983, but, unbelievably, she has not recorded a live album since. Lives Upstairs brings her back full circle and celebrates ten albums and nearly 30 years. (Ms. Lee informs us that the album is pronounced “Lives” in the sense of “Bird Lives” and not in the sense of “Private Lives.”) Both the title and the album cover are a play on Upstairs, the name of Canada’s most venerated jazz club, which is ironic since the performance space is famously located in a basement in Montreal.

The considerations of performing before a live audience and that of making an album are not always consistent with each other; however, Ms. Lee is more than sagacious enough to reconcile the two and find their common ground. “Every recording I’ve made comes out of the repertory that I enjoy singing most,” she says. “Most of it is traditional, songs that I’ve learned, in some cases almost by osmosis. Through the years I’ve developed a wider repertoire.” She notes that she learned both Jimmy McHugh’s “I Just Found Out About Love” and Johnny Mandel’s “A Time for Love” from Shirley Horn. The first is a fast-moving show tune (from the unsuccessful Strip For Action) that Horn actually learned from Nat King Cole and which opens the proceedings here with a definite bang, and “A Time for Love” is one of the most intensely romantic performances on the set. Continue reading