Archive for July 26th, 2010

Brian Simpson – South Beach

“Brian is the consummate musician – he can do it all. But it’s his incredibly memorable and infectious melodies that truly set him apart. He just has a knack for writing these songs that take you on a journey and truly tell a story – and then he’s able to deliver them musically with his trademark style. I am a huge fan!” – Dave Koz

“What I love about Brian’s playing is his understanding that melody and groove are important – the meat and potatoes of music. Brian has found a unique way of being musically creative while making his music accessible. My hats off to you B.”– George Duke

Celebrated keyboardist, composer and studio musician, Brian Simpson has been the ‘go-to’ man for everyone from Janet Jackson and Teena Marie to George Duke, Stanley Clarke and Dave Koz, for whom he has had the distinction of being musical director for the past 15 years. The chart-topping musical chameleon who wrote the #1 R&B hit “The First Time” for Surface in the 1990s confesses, “Ultimately, my listeners inspire me to make my music.” Simpson’s love for what he does is evident in every note on South Beach, his inaugural album for Shanachie Entertainment, due out August 31, 2010. Simpson surrounds himself with an A-list lineup that includes jazz icons George Duke, Peter White and Euge Groove.

Known for his ability to sculpt timeless love songs, soulful party anthems and melodies that stay on your mind, Brian Simpson is truly a master at his craft. South Beach delivers on every front. The album’s title track, with a jubilant vibe reminiscent of the Ramsey Lewis smash hit “The In Crowd,” is already top 30 on multiple jazz charts, two months prior to album release. ”I’m very happy we chose ‘South Beach’ as the first single,” confides Simpson, “because it’s probably the song that’s most indicative of my style. My travels take me to some pretty nice places, but my favorites are always the ones with beaches. In the last year I’ve been to Hawaii, Bali, Indonesia, and several beaches in Florida. I would walk along beaches listening to the rough ideas for this CD on my ipod. The wind, sea, and sand really inspired the melodies you’ll hear on South Beach.”

South Beach features a mix of breezy free-flowing numbers, funky blues-tinged romps and romantic ballads which draw you in from the first note. Songs like the George Benson-eque “Our Love,” “Can’t Tell You Why” and “All I Want Is You” show off Simpson’s knack for cooking up singable melodies and hip-swaying grooves. Brian delivers a bossa nova vibe on the sweetly romantic “Paradise Island” and the hauntingly beautiful “Summer’s End.”

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Kirk Whalum – Everything is Everything: The Music Of Donny Hathaway

The breadth and depth of Kirk Whalum’s Everything Is Everything: The Music Of Donny Hathaway on Rendezvous Music/Mack Avenue Records reflects everything he has been and is as an artist, and bumps it up a notch for a breathtaking, beautiful and breakthrough excursion. Kirk reveals, “It is the first time you’ll hear me with a chamber orchestra.” From soothing strings to screamin’ guitars, from streetwise city funk, blues and gospel charm to the romp and rest of country landscapes, right into the recesses of heart and soul, Whalum and company’s creativity never lets up.

Whalum recently released The Gospel According To Jazz, Chapter III — the third installment on his award winning series —prominently featuring Donny’s daughter Lalah. On the heels of one Hathaway collaboration, producer Matt Pierson proposed another. Kirk recounts, “Matt had a really tight concept. Also, Gil Goldstein and John Stoddart’s arrangements were axiomatic to this record.” Pierson, the visionary behind Whalum’s No. 1 album For You, knows that as celebrated as Whalum is for his original compositions, he is extraordinarily gifted at rendering graceful, incisive and soulful interpretations of other artists’ classic works.

The album’s ensemble of Jef Lee Johnson on electric guitar, John Stoddart on keyboards, Christian McBride on bass and Lil’ John Roberts on drums was foundational. “I was so thrilled,” says Kirk. “We got in the studio. We all realized that everyone in that room was from Philadelphia but me. There is something about that Philly/Memphis connection.” Guest appearances from Jeff Golub on guitar, Rick Braun on flugelhorn and the inimitable Robert Randolph on pedal (sacred) steel, as well as vocals from Hathaway’s daughter Lalah and R&B chart-topper Musiq Soulchild, augment the super-group along with an orchestra under the direction of Goldstein and Stoddart. Added to the mix are master organist Shedrick Mitchell (Maxwell, Whitney Houston), acoustic guitar virtuoso Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm) and studio MVP percussionist Bashiri Johnson.

Go to Mack Avenue.com, to get more details about this fabulous new recording by the saxophonist Kirk Whalum!

Source: Mack Avenue

Sam Levine – Smooth Worship

Sam Levine is known for his tender and heartfelt renditions of contemporary hits. Sam has been featured in live performances with such superstars as Whitney Houston and Al Jarreau, has recorded with Michael McDonald, The Neville Brothers, and Amy Grant, and has contributed musically to such motion picture soundtracks as Honeymoon in Vegas and Sweet Dreams.

He currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife, Lee, and their children, Sybil and Reed. His newest contribution is called Smooth Worship and available at CDBaby.