Archive for August, 2011

Johannes Zetterberg – Painter’s Portrait

I normally don’t begin a review with anything negative. The idea is to sell a recording, not make people flee from it. However, I must say that Johannes Zetterberg’s Painter’s Portrait (Innate Grove Records, 2011) has one annoying element. The combination of small print, red lettering and black background makes it difficult, if not impossible, to read who’s doing what on the odd-numbered tracks.

That’s only a problem because I’m a liner notes geek. When I hear something interesting in the background or a cool solo, I want to know who did it. The font used for the song titles isn’t much better, but at least with black letters on white, or vice-versa, it’s less of a challenge.

Reading issues aside, Zetterberg’s composing and performance are impressive. From prologue, “Ghost of a Second,” to epilogue, “The Coming Storm,” the 25-year-old from Stockholm, Sweden, follows his highly acclaimed debut, Luna Nueva, with more excellence.

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Dee Lucas – Rebirth of the Smooth

Jazz Saxophonist Dee Lucas has launched his digital CD campaign and has released his new CD, Rebirth of the Smooth, on digital delivery sites across the world on July 26, 2011. The physical CD was released tentatively on August 26, 2011 and is available in stores across the country.

A writer, co-producer, co-arranger and performer, Lucas’ career was birthed by blowing his horn on Atlanta’s jazz circuit and since then his passion with the saxophone has landed him in some of the country’s hottest jazz festivals, corporate gigs, celebrity events and well-recognized spots across the country. Two of the performances that he’s most proud of are at the famous Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City, and the extremely popular Capital Jazz Festival in Washington, D.C. Lucas has played alongside some of the finest contemporary jazz greats such as: Kirk Whalum, Gerald Veasley, Boney James, Phil Perry, Chris Botti, Warren Hill, Nancy Wilson, Abbey Lincoln, Bobbi Humphrey, Ramsey Lewis, Ronny Jordan, Greg Karukas, Peter White, Gerald Albright, and the list goes on.

Lucas has also opened for such artists as: Roy Ayers, Michael Franks, The Gap Band, Lalah Hathaway, Hugh Masakela and 5-time Grammy nominee Nneena Freelon. He first came to prominence in 2004 with his debut CD, Remembrance, which is a tribute to legendary saxophonist George Howard. Since his well-received debut, Lucas has been greeted with stunning reviews, garnered extensive airplay and consistently climbed charts and branded his timeless “Soul Jazz” sound in the smooth jazz market. Lucas developed his distinctive style by collaborating urban funk sounds with a smooth melody that is both relaxing and soothing to the ear.

In 2007, his sophomore CD, Something to Ride 2 received heavy rotation in many smooth jazz markets which peaked at #10 on the Smoothjazz.com “Top 50 Indie Charts”. His third CD, Standing Room Only was released in 2010 and is receiving international radio promotion, which peaked at #26 also on the Smoothjazz.com “Top 50 Indie Charts”. With great songs such as the title track “Standing Room Only”, “Tiffany’s World” and “Keep Knocking”, this nine songs, smooth sounding compilation has received airplay from numerous internet, and satellite radio stations worldwide.

A native of Alabama, this soulful sax man puts his heart and soul into his music and he lets his creative juices flow, delivering funky, upbeat, and smooth jazz sounds. His beautiful melodies and sensuous rhythms capture your heart and his recently released CD, Rebirth of the Smooth, is a compilation of Lucas’ top songs from his previously released CDs. With great songs such as the title track “Reconcile”, and other hot tracks such as “Shadow in the Dark”, “Nothing That I Do”, “Dancing in the Sun” and “Keep Knocking”, this 16 songs, soulful and smooth sounding compilation is sure to impress jazz lovers and receive airplay from terrestrial, internet and satellite radio stations worldwide.

Ken Ford – State of Mind

Electric. A word that describes not only Ken Ford’s violin but aptly describes the man himself, with electrifying and deeply physical live performances that have audiences up on their feet and into the aisles, feeling the music as much as he does, jumping and dancing around on stage.

Far from being any quiet instrument, Ken’s infectious energy takes the violin center stage with amazing artistry and creativity, rocking out on the violin with a passion and fervor that rivals the biggest and baddest guitar solos. Now signed on independent label Twelve Music Group as the first artist and album release on the label, Ken brings his celebrated live playing to audiences everywhere with the forthcoming release of his latest album, State of Mind.

A wonder to behold on stage, Ken’s evocative playing and passion for strings on the electric violin have enthralled fans of all ages, as well as peers from diverse genres, from jazz to blues, R&B to hip-hop and more. With a soul-stirring style that highlights all the voices of the violin, from sensuous and genteel to dramatic and muscular, Ken’s talents have brought him on stage and into the recording studio with a range of superstar artists including Bruno Mars, Jill Scott, Wyclef Jean, Chaka Khan, Ledisi, Brian Culbertson, the late Barry White, Cee-Lo Green, Erykah Badu and more. Promising to take fans to a whole other level on this fourth album with a new edge and energy, Ken plants the seed for any music lover to discover violin on a whole new journey with him on State of Mind.

The Atlanta-based artist and producer says of this new record, “People want to hear what they get when they come to my shows,” taking listeners on a roller-coaster ride throughout State of Mind, doing things on the violin that he did not do before, recording songs that embody sexy, electrifying allure flavored with Ken’s compelling twists on R&B, hip-hop and jazz. From the sweet and later fervent opening strains on the first single (and first track) “Guttaville” to the familiar, driving hip-hop melody on the fifth track “State of Mind” with Ken’s urgent, feverish playing transporting listeners into another state, Ken declares, “each song gives you a ride”.

 

Jeff Logan – Black Tie Affair

Maryland resident keyboardist Jeff Logan is an administrator in the Prince George’s County detention center, but his heart beats for his music. Logan launched BASS-mint Records in 2002 to release his albums. Previous recording projects include Soulitude (2002), Mello-Fabulous (2003), Radio-Active (2005) and Gratitude (2007) as well as two 2009 releases: a gospel offering, Destiny, and a collection of neo-soul songs, Love’s Compass.

His new album Black Tie Affair (2011) is already available at CDBaby. Logan played all instruments on this album and wrote ten of the twelve songs illustrating his grow of creativity.

Sunbreeze spreads sunrays of happiness with a captivating theme and pleasant sound gags. The introducing chords of Black Tie Affair cites Hip Hop elements but soon meanders in a sunny smooth jazz melody.

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Dave Grusin – An Evening With Dave Grusin

The Goonies is a fun, charming theatrical romp about a group of kids seeking buried treasure in the United States’ Pacific Northwest, all the while pursued by a murderous family. “Fratelli Chase” revisits the film’s opening sequence and is also a poignant first track to An Evening With Dave Grusin (Heads Up International, 2011), a live concert of symphony and jazz by one of the most widely recognized composers of both genres.

Throughout his career, Grusin has scored themes to numerous motion pictures and television series, including The Graduate, On Golden Pond, Tootsie, St. Elsewhere and It Takes a Thief. This groundbreaking live recording captures the pianist, composer and arranger with a host of stars and the 75-piece Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra, recorded in December 2009 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.

The idea was to do a concert featuring songs recorded by Grusin over the years. Longtime associate and producer Larry Rosen helped narrow the list down to a few by Grusin’s favorite composers and some of his own tunes. Those favorites are Leonard Bernstein, George Gerswhin and Henry Mancini.

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Chan – Dreaming Afterdark

Strong grooves, elements of classical, and neo-soul, is mainly what this CD is made of. Sounds that you will hear will relax your mind from that hard day you’ve been waiting to get from, or just music for the soul in general. All but one written original compositions, to give you the flavor in your ear.

Mellow grooves that flow through your mind to help you relax. This is for the grown and sexy. Dreaming Afterdark  is available at CDBaby.

Brian Hughes – Fast Train to a Quiet Place

With this key, you unlock the door to musical imagination. Guitarist Brian Hughes invites you to another dimension – a dimension of sound. You’ll be taking an hour-long ride on a Fast Train to a Quiet Place (Sylvan House Music, 2011).

Hughes plays several instruments: electric and acoustic guitars, electric sitar, Celtic bouzouki, guitar synthesizer and, for “To a Quiet Place,” fretless bass. Accompanying him on this journey are the mesmerizing sounds of Tal Bergman, drums; Rufus Philpot, electric bass; Matt Rohde, acoustic piano, Hammond B3 organ, Fender Rhodes and keyboards; Ron Powell, percussion on all but two tracks; and Quinn, percussion on “The Gift.”

“Fast Train” is a moving piece with a moderate pace. The guitar is out front all the way, but the accompanying instruments are effective throughout. Rohde’s piano fills and Bergman’s play on the toms stand out a bit more than the rest. Hughes plays in a Metheny-like style. One can almost hear “Minuano (Six-Eight)” playing alongside.

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Jamhunters – Driftin’

Jamhunters released their first album in 2006. They played a lot of gigs , mostly in Denmark, but also in NYC. On the second album : Music Speaks Louder Than Words they introduced Frank Senior from NYC. A fantastic singer they met on their first trip to NYC. Also the famous danish bass player Chris Minh Doky played on two songs .The second album was released in 2008.

And now it’s time for the third album: Driftin’ to be released. It is still the well-known sound from Jamhunters we hear. Very nice produced and well composed music. Mostly instrumental but with vocal hook-lines. The 3rd album from Jamhunters contains 14 really groovy smoothjazz tracks composed, produced and played by themselves.

Driftin’ is just arrived at CDBaby.

Walt Weiskopf Quartet – Live

Straight jazz with no chaser. That’s the recipe for the Walt Weiskopf Quartet Live (Capri Records, 2011). The saxophonist, composer and arranger has more than 15 recordings as a leader and numerous efforts as a sideman, but this is his first live set.

Recorded in 2008 at the University of South Carolina’s Koger Hall, Live features Weiskopf on the tenor, accompanied by pianist Renee Rosnes, bassist Paul Gill and drummer Tony Reedus. The concert was on the final night of the bi-annual North American Saxophone Alliance convention and was originally recorded for archival purposes. However, after learning that Reedus had died, Weiskopf decided to release the music in the drummer’s honor.

“Man of Many Colors” is one of five original songs in the set. It showcases Weiskopf’s expertise as a leader and composer. Rosnes stretches out during the middle solo, with plenty of involvement from Gill and Reedus.

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Mario Smith – Teardrop

Hailing from Florida Mario Smith offers finest smooth jazz performing on sax. His newest album is entitled Teardrop. This album takes the listener on a musical journey reminiscent or of the early days of smooth jazz.

Smooth Jazz with an R&B flavor now available at CDBaby.

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