Archive for January, 2012

Ramsey Lewis and His Electric Band – Ramsey, Taking Another Look

Enumerate all his albums would be a tedious task. Jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis has released approximately 80 albums over a 50-year career. He became popular with his megahit The In Crowd (1965).

His most successful album was however Sun Goddess (1974), a re-union with Maurice White and Earth, Wind & Fire. Smooth jazz fans might remember his Ramsey Lewis Morning Show on Chicago radio station WNUA (95.5 FM).

Best known is his project Urban Knights. Originally planed as a permanent group, their albums were soon the ideal platform for new talents.


Greg Walker – End Of Summer

End Of Summer (released January 2012) is a collection of seven new compositions of guitar-led latin and jazz flavoured instrumental music from four-time UK Song Contest finalist Greg Walker.

Greg’s debut album, Straight From The Source 1, held the No.1 position simultaneously in the overall Jazz chart, the Latin Jazz chart and the Brazilian Jazz chart on the independent artists mp3tunes website during 2004-2005 – the latter, almost without break for several months.

The follow up album in 2006, Straight From The Source 2 – according to one reviewer, ‘an eminently listenable album with ten supremely lyrical tunes that make this the consummate second album’ – proved equally popular. I Should Know By Now reached the finals of the Instrumental category in the 2006 UK Songwriting Contest.

Greg Walker also co-wrote with Pete May the soul-jazz dance floor classic, Second Opinion – recorded and performed by Victor Haynes and available on the Expansion Records 2009 album, Soul Togetherness. End Of Summer is now available at CDBaby.

John Taylor – Little Wave

John Taylor has toured with the Charlie Daniels Band, performed with The Temptations, The Coasters, Rita Moreno, Tony Molina and others. He has traveled as a trumpet player on cruises in the Caribbean and Alaska and showcased his own music with his band in Los Angeles.

With  Little Wave he offers a cornucopia of smooth jazz songs at CDBaby.

Paul Whitley – Versatility

Multi-instrumentalist Paul Whitley learned to play drums with 8 years. With 16 years he started playing piano, before he finally chose bass and guitar to his favorite instruments.

Since 2002 he started his career as professional musician playing with artists such as Marvin Sapp, John P. Kee, Byron Cage, Wes Morgan, Myron Butler, Steve Cole, Walter Beasley, and Joey Sommerville.

With Versatility (2011) Paul Whitley presents his first solo album. The album offers a fine mix of covers and Paul’s own compositions. Paul is supported by Lamont McCain (bass), Reggie Graves (guitar), Rischard Jenkins (drums), Jerry Oates (horns), Tony Bowers (guitar) and many more on selected tracks.


Hiroshima – Departure

Hiroshima is the only Asian band to receive a Grammy-nomination and they have two. Legacy featured songs from the first 10 years and celebrated the band’s 30 years in the industry. Departure, number 18 for the celebrated Hiroshima who has created it’s own voice. . . One of the most unique bands in the world, Hiroshima combines traditional Japanese instruments, including koto, taiko and shakuhachi with western instruments and harmony, embracing rhythms ranging from Jazz to Latin and R&B –a blend referred to by famed British producer Robin Millar as “Urban World Music.”

After more than 30 years in the recording industry — and almost 4 million records sold – Hiroshima decided to leave record companies behind and venture on our own. It’s kinda scary, but given the changes in the music industry and what it’s now going to take for us to survive, we are moving toward direct contact with the community.

Departure is a new beginning for Hiroshima in many ways. The songs are all originals with just one guest artist, the incredible harmonica player Tetsuya “Tex” Nakamura, featured on the luscious opening track, “Have You Ever Wondered,” composed by June and Kimo. “Koto Cruise,” is the second song and features a funky groove and a burning koto solo. “Blues for Sendai” is just that. There’s a tribute to our friend and mentor James Moody, who passed last December. It’s called “See You Again,” and there is a lot of ‘quoting’ from his “Moody’s Mood for Love.”

After many years of requests, we have recorded our first full-on taiko solo ever, “Yamasong”–a live recording that really captures Shoji and Danny’s fierce interplay. “First Nation,” a composition by the Hawaiian Kimo Cornwell, is a powerhouse of a song embracing many cultures, as does our reincarnation of “Thousand Cranes.” The CD ends with a soulful version of “One Wish,” done as an acoustic trio.

Departure is now available at CDBaby.

Neil Leonard – Marcel’s Window

Those around in the 1970s might recall a disco song called “The Sound of Philadelphia,” which was the theme for television series, Soul Train. Saxophonist/composer Neil Leonard calls Marcel’s Window (GASP Records, 2011) the “sound of Philly in the 21st century.”

Born in Boston, Leonard is based in Philadelphia, Pa., and draws on the talents of other Philly musicians: pianist Tom Lawton, bassist Lee Smith and drummer Craig McIver. The set is comprised of six pieces that represent the city’s culture. The title is drawn from a window cut into the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s façade to illuminate Marcel Duchamp’s “The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors.”

“Alex in the Atrium” is a playful piece that features Leonard on the alto sax. Though a modern piece, it’s done in a traditional jazz style. Bass and drums cut loose underneath the leads, and at times share the spotlight with sax or piano. McIver’s array of cymbals helps highlight varying textures of the beat. Toward the end of the song, Smith solos on bass, snapping the strings in rapid-fire succession during several phrases.


Jeffery Smith – After the Rain

This is Jeffery’s debut CD released in 1997. These recordings are exceptional and timeless for a debut release. The vocals and guitar licks on these original recordings are raw and full of smooth soul. This CD puts the artist in a category to himself. The recording released after these recordings are a extension there of. As you listen to these recordings, you will hear some of the artist later works buried underneath the grooves and melodies. This is a for sure jewel to keep in your collection.

You have now the opportunity to buy this gem at CDBaby.

Patrick Yandall – Acoustic Dreamscape

One of the most creative guitarists is Patrick Yandall. He started his solo career with That Feels Nice (1994), followed by A Lasting Embrace (1997), Of Two Cities (2000), Back To The Groove (2001), From The Ashes (2003), Eyes Of Mars (2005), Samoa Soul (2006), Laws Of Groovity (2008), A New Day (2009) and The Window (2010). Besides his smooth jazz projects he also released albums in the Blues genre like New York Blues (2007) and One Hour Blues (2010) as well as in the Hard Rock realm with Going For One (2010).

His newest smooth jazz project is Acoustic Dreamscape (2012). Smooth, contemporary jazz featuring the acoustic guitar of international recording artist Patrick Yandall. Putting down his electric for this project and featuring a relaxing set including two covers; 1 Bob Dylans All Along the Watchtower and Steve Howe’s. Now on sale at CDBaby.

Michael Lington – Pure

Hailing from Denmark saxophonist Michael Lington delights since many years the smooth jazz scene with his solo albums. After his self-titled debut album (1997) followed Vivid (2002), Everything Must Change (2002), Stay With Me (2004), A Song For You (2006) and Heat (2008). Also to mention Best of Michael Lington – The Songbook Collection (2010).

His newest album is entitled Pure, scheduled for release February 14th 2012 on Trippin N’ Rhythm. Guest musicians are Michael Bolton, Lee Ritenour, Jonathan Butler, Brian Culbertson, Ray Parker Jr., Jeff Golub, Jeff Babko, Paul Jackson Jr. and many more. The album was produced by executive producer Les Cutmore.

The album starts with Roadtrip, a song which is since January on heavy rotation on many smooth jazz radio stations. A co-production of Michael and Brian Culbertson the funky tune features Lee Ritenour on guitar. The song has its edgy moments, which is a fortunate refreshment.

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Ted Rosenthal Trio – Out Of This World

With Out of This World (Playscape Recordings, 2011), the Ted Rosenthal Trio takes another visit to the American Songbook, reinterpreting 10 classics in a fresh and engaging manner.

Pianist Rosenthal is accompanied by bassist Noriko Ueda and drummer Quincy Davis. Rosenthal wrote all the arrangements. Even though he is the leader, there’s rarely a moment when Ueda and Davis aren’t equally invested.

The set begins in robust fashion. The title song has a deceptive time signature. Though mostly in 3/4, the trio alternates between intense and laid back, shifting even further into something placid during the middle. The main difference is the number of notes per beat, and how those notes are played. The musicians are a seamless unit, but because they don’t have to compete or make space for a larger band, each stands out on his or her part.

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