Archive for October, 2010

B.D. Lenz – Five & Live

Mix together the styles of Pat Metheny, Mike Stern, and Stevie Ray Vaughn and you have the recipe for one of the hottest new contempo-jazz guitarists on the scene. B.D. Lenz has played guitar since his early teens and has studied with such masters as Mike Stern, Vic Juris, and Charlie Banacos along the way. He has released 7 highly-acclaimed recordings featuring greats such as Randy Brecker, Will Lee, Joel Rosenblatt, & Mark Egan.

With music featured in over 100 TV shows globally, the Godin-endorsed guitarist has performed 1,000 shows internationally, keeping the audience on their feet whether playing jazz, fusion, or jam.  Now he has released the album Five & Live balancing between smooth and fusion jazz.

Taste the album at CDBaby.

Dave Koz – Hello Tomorrow

Dave Koz is the charming prince of smooth jazz. After his self-titled solo debut in 1990 he dominated the charts with Lucky Man (1993), Off the Beaten Path (1996) and three holiday albums – December Makes Me Feel This Way (1997), Dave Koz & Friends: A Smooth Jazz Christmas (2001) and Memories of a Winter’s Night (2007), furthermore The Dance (1999), Saxophonic (2003), At the Movies (2007), followed by Dave Koz at the Movies Double Feature CD + DVD, and Dave Koz: Greatest Hits (2008).

Since 2005 he is the front man of Dave Koz & Friends Jazz Cruises and since 2006 he is also host of a syndicated afternoon show for Broadcast Architecture’s new Smooth Jazz Network. This 4 times Grammy nominated musical artist is in addition host of a weekly half-hour television series named Frequency put on by Fast Focus. His career was crowned in 2009 with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Looks like all is running well for this lucky man, who is an in demand musician on many concerts and festivals. But then he comments thoughtfully: “In many ways, I feel like this is the beginning of my career. That may sound strange, because I’ve enjoyed a wonderful and blessed career up until now, but I feel like my best days are still ahead of me. I’ve made a Dave Koz record that fans of my earlier work will be able to connect to. It’s still me. It’s not too foreign, but it’s me in 2010, coming from a different perspective that’s reflective of the times we’re living in and the changes that continue to define this new era.”

Dave Koz is a perfectionist. When he records a new album, you can await finest quality in music and to assure it, Dave assembled the who-is-who of music business like Lee Ritenour, Brian Culbertson, Marcus Miller, Sheila E., Jonathan Butler, Boney James, Paul Jackson Jr., Lenny Castro, Omar Hakim, Herb Alpert, Keb’ Mo’ and many more. “Make the most out of your life”, is Dave’s motto.

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Fourplay – Let’s Touch the Sky

What is Fourplay? A supergroup of individual artists who came together 20 years ago, collaborating just about every other year for a collection of songs that combine their talents.

The original group consisted of composer/pianist Bob James, guitarist Lee Ritenour, drummer Harvey Mason and bassist Nathan East. James and Ritenour had enjoyed much success as session artists as well as instrumentalists. East and Mason mostly served as sidemen or guest soloists.

Over the two decades of Fourplay’s existence, the individuals – Larry Carlton replaced Ritenour in 1998. Now with Carlton gone, the guitar seat is filled by another prominent solo artist: Chuck Loeb.

The transition goes smoothly as Loeb makes his Fourplay debut with Let’s Touch the Sky.

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Eli Degibri – Israeli Song

“Living the dream” is an inside joke among saxophonist Eli Degibri and his bandmates. It’s also an inspiration for Israeli Song (Anzic Records).

Born in Jaffa, Israel in 1978, Degibri says the story of a boy who dreamed of being in the shoes of some of his jazz heroes, like Wayne Shorter and Joe Henderson. A student of the Berklee College of Music in his teens, Degibri also studied at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. To help realize his dream, Degibri employed the talents of pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Al Foster.

“Unrequited” begins as a tranquil, ambient piece with the soprano sax and piano. Bass and drums come in, but are barely noticeable at first. As the piano takes point, the other instruments become more involved. The pace and intensity pick up. Mehldau, who composed this piece, shows his dexterity and speed — centerpieces of his middle solo. Degibri puts the soprano through some powerful phrases during the high point of his solo. The instrument wails at all the right moments.

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Aysha – Stay With Me

Hailing from Los Angeles, California this young singer is working hard for her career. Aysha is the African word for life or the Arabian word for lady. Anyway a great name for a beautiful woman. It took her several years before she really started into music business.

She was a member of the groups Destination and Girls In The Mix and performed with Ronkat and the Funklectiks featuring Ron Spearman. In 2006 she released her debut album Love Is A Rock and now published her sophomore album Stay With Me, which already received high acclaims of Internet magazines.

Influenced by the style of Sade, Toni Braxton and Chante Moore Aysha searches the balance between soul, R&B and vocal jazz. Her velvety voice is destined for sophisticated songs.

Although Aysha would like to take piano lessons, she restricts herself on her vocals, which isn’t bad at all. Her great respect for instrumental music was the reason to approach several great producers and composers to create this fantastic new album.

The title song was composed by keyboardist Monty Seward, a very experienced musician, who already worked with Teddy Pendergrass, Paul Jackson Jr., Diana Ross, Howard Hewett, El DeBarge and more. Aysha’s beautiful vocals are emotionally accompanied by Everette Harp, whose sax reaches on this tune a special grade of smoothness.

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Indigo – Stay together

„Let´s stay together “ – The album starts with this great hit-song from soul singer Al Green in a groovy but dreamily way. Perhaps the most successful jazz song “Take Five” reflects an European lounge-sound with acoustic instruments. “Have you met miss Jones” and “Isn´t she lovely” are cool jazz tunes with nice swinging solos from drums, bass and guitar. The emotional ballads “Moon River” and “Somewhere over the rainbow” are tastefully played with acoustic and electric guitar. Brazilian flavoured latin-jazz tunes are Antonio Carlos Jobims “Girl from Ipanema” and Matt Biancos “Half a minute”.

Both are featuring Jost with a heart touching Spanish nylon string guitar. The Cuban-arrangement of Stevie Wonders “You are the sunshine of my life” shows the impressing vocals of the guest singer Dian Pratiwi of Indonesia. The album ends with an smooth vocal version of Marvin Gayes “What´s going on”. In summary, it can be stated that all the songs on this album articulate a variety of tunes and styles from jazz, swing, pop, soul and Latin in a small and compact trio setting with lots of feeling and emotions. Please stay together, Indigo!

– Carsten Hoelscher (Enschede/NL)

Indigo’s Stay Together is now available at CDBaby.

John Evans & Dream – Postcard from the Moon

John Evans is widely known by his collaboration with David Sanborn on his album Hideaway. Evans composed and co-penned Creeper with Sanborn. Last year I reviewed his album The Winding Road (2009).

Now he is back with his new album Postcard from the Moon (2010). All songs are composed and arranged by John Evans.

Keyboardist John Evans is joined on this album by his band Dream, Ron Jones (saxophones & flute), Larry Spencer (trumpet & flugelhorn), Brady Mosher (guitars), Johnny Hooper (guitars), John Evans (keyboards), Chuck Rainey (Fender bass), Gene Glover (congas & percussion), Mike Collier (drums & vocals), Jennifer Perryman (vocals), Rosana Eckert (vocals), Annagrey Labasse (vocals) and new Andy Timmons (guitar).

The album starts with the ballad You Never Taught Me How To Say Goodbye. The heartfelt song about the lost of a beloved person features lovely singer Jennifer Perryman. The horn arrangement borrows from Earth, Wind & Fire, the vocal arrangement from the Carpenters, a delightful mixture.

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Brown Baby Girl – Brown Baby Girl

150Jamie Finegan and Lorenda Robinson make beautiful music together! When this duo wrote their first song together, “Ignorant Bliss,” the foundation was laid for Brown Baby Girl . Brown Baby Girl’s sound is a cool mixture of nu-jazz, jazz, R&B, soul and pure bliss! The collaboration of Jamie and Lorenda go together like hand in glove. Lorenda’s smooth and seductive vocals are easy to listen to and even easier to fall in love with. Combine that talent with Jamie’s composing, arranging, trumpet and piano work and you have true inspiration.

Jamie’s credits list like a who’s who of music. He is the son of legendary composer/arranger Bill Finegan. Jamie has recorded, toured and performed with some great jazz and blues mega stars such as Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie and Clarence “Gateway” Brown. Lorenda is a charismatic performer and has collaborated with some up and coming talent from rap, jazz and alternative genres such as DJ Spinna and Jigmastas, TK and the Almighty Buck and the Clark Eno Orchestra.

Brown Baby Girl plays to packed houses at numerous venues in New York City, Philadelphia and Hartford.This CD is brimming with over one full hour of music you won’t soon forget. From Lorenda’s sultry vocals on “Devotion” to her lighter than air vocals drifting effortlessly on “Cosmic Thrill” to the one that started it all, “Ignorant Bliss” which highlights beautifully her smooth as butter voice and effectively transports you to an intimate, dimly lit lounge. Lorenda wrote all the lyrics and Jamie accompanies her perfectly on piano, keyboards, trumpet and flugelhorn.

The rest of the band is cohesive throughout, like a well-oiled machine, giving the listener a true jazz experience. Brown Baby Girl’s website proudly tells us “her sound is the sound for the forgotten and neglected music lover” and that “it reminds R&B of it’s roots and re-introduces the concept that in jazz there are no rules.” Amen to that!

This CD is sure to soothe the soul, so kick your shoes off, pour yourself a glass of wine and groove to Brown Baby Girl…. over and over again.

 

Doug Markley – 90°

Hailing from Philadelphia Doug Markley has performed since more than 28 years throughout the Unites States. Diverse in styles in his core he is a true jazz guitarist.

Doug can look back on an amazing gallery of releases. The Markley Band was the first album in 1980, followed by On The Mark (1982), The Sounds That Move Air (1987), Philly Fillet (1987), Sunset Dance (1995), On the Half Shell (1999), Believe (2001), Not So Blue (2002), Lift (2003), Connected (2005), Unwind (2006), Chrome Play (2008), and this year 90°.

Doug describes his newest effort as melodic smooth jazz guitar with a unique Latin funk feel. He has written and performed all tunes, which is today’s an act of normality.

Although the title Crashing Waves let us assume something of unruly nature, the tune has a friendly charisma of lovely seas. Acoustic guitar in the lead in relaxing atmosphere.

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Whitney Walters – Full Circle

Whitney Walters is a talented singer/songwriter who captures an audience immediately with her silky voice, but keeps them in the palm of her hands with her expressive lyrics and songwriting craftsmanship. It’s rare to find anyone sitting still when she performs; you’re either bobbing your head to the groove or you’re out grinding on the dancefloor with someone. Her performances go by all too quickly. — Russ Corvey, Jazz Guitarist and Smooth Jazz Artist

“I joke around that my goal in life is to be a 300-pound black woman who just takes over the stage and belts out what she feels. Ha! I don’t think I’m going to make that goal, but I sure am having fun trying, ” says Whitney.

With a background in contemporary jazz and a penchant for old school funk, Whitney’s style of music is a fluid mixture of Jill Scott-meets-Gladys Knight, with a touch of Sheryl Crow thrown in for good measure.

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