Archive for March, 2012

Mike Levine – Thinking of You

Thinking of You is Jazz Pianist Mike Levine‘s second CD as a solo artist. It features as special guests, Bassist – Will Lee, Ed Calle and Ed Maina – Sax’s and Billy Ross on Flutes. The music is an Organic Blend of Smooth Jazz. Drawing from his Jazz roots and influences of South Florida, this CD is made up of thirteen tracks eleven of which are Mike’s originals. The music itself is melodic, rhythmic, and accessible to the listener. Backed up by top session players Lee Levin on Drums, Dan Warner -Guitars, Julio Hernandez – Bass, and Richard Bravo on Percussion.

Other musicians lending their talents are:Wendy Pedersen on Vocals, Lindsey Blair and Aaron Lebos – Guitars, Nick Orta and Rafael Valencia – Bass, Sam Levine – Drums, Flaco Padron and Carlomagno Araya – Percussion, Dana Teboe – Trombone, Jeff Kievet – Trumpet, Tony Concepcion – Flugel Horn, and The Miami Symphonic Strings.

More about this album and the oppurtinty to buy it, do you find at CDBaby.

Paul Brown – The Funky Joint

The Funky Joint by guitarist Paul Brown (Woodward Avenue Records, 2012) may be misleading in its name. However, as a release in the smooth jazz genre, it’s right on the mark.

For better or worse, Brown’s name became synonymous with “snooze jazz.” No doubt, that’s largely due to his input as producer on some releases by a few WB Jazz artists back in the 1990s, when the drive to appeal to fans who weren’t necessarily in to smooth jazz and to increase the probability of getting more play on commercial radio – a lesson in failure – led to a lot of formulaic, cookie-cutter music. As a front man, though, Brown holds his own quite well.

An assortment of smooth jazz names appear as guests in various configurations. Among them are keyboardist and programmer Jeff Caruthers, bassist Roberto Vally, horn arranger Jerry Hey, saxophonist Boney James and drummer Ricky Lawson.


Robert Kramers – On the Block

Robert Kramers started playing guitar when he was 8. His career started at the age of 16, when the bass player of the band “Ligimo” left, Robert decided to change his guitar for a bass. With “Ligimo”, he played a mix of covers and self written songs in many cafes in the North of Holland.

During his College years, he founded with some friends the very popular funk & soul cover band “Jam Square”. For more than 10 years, “Jam Square” played on parties and festivals in the Netherlands as well as abroad. Together with Jam Square he made one live CD.

In November 2008, Robert joined the Dutch band “Alderliefste”, a well known band in Holland. with 2 songs in the Dutch top 2000 (Bellle Histoire/ Een Mooi Verhaal and Laat me/ Vivre). The last song was made in collaboration with Ramses Shaffy, one of Holland’s most famous singers, who passed away in 2010.

This year Robert released his first solo album  On the Block,  which is available at CDBaby.



Brian Bromberg – Compared To That

Grammy nominated bass maestro Brian Bromberg continues to blaze his own audacious path through the jazz kingdom on Compared To That, which will be released June 5th by Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Records.  For his 20th solo collection of kinetic and combustible jazz of various forms, Bromberg produced, composed eight new songs, and herded a ten-piece horn section, a full orchestra string section and a prodigious collective of prominent musicians.  The first track to go to radio is his swinging take on the snappy Chicago hit, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”

It’s been a while since Bromberg recorded an album that swings so he primarily maintains a fast cadence on “Compared To That.”  Although the record leans towards straight ahead acoustic jazz, Bromberg refuses to color between the lines.  His visionary, multihued jazz palette swirls hard-charging swing, contemporary sheen, deep-fried funk, and touchingly beautiful balladry.  Throughout the album, Bromberg’s basswork is like a master’s class with the astute musician playing acoustic, electric and piccolo (both acoustic and steel string) basses.  With his piccolo basses tuned to sound like guitar, all of the lead melodies and solos throughout the collection that sound like guitar are actually piccolo bass.

An accomplished cadre lent their talents to the two days of live tracking including Alex Acuna, Gannin Arnold, Charlie Bisharat, Randy Brecker, Vinnie Colaiuta, George Duke, Bela Fleck, Mitch Forman, Larry Goldings, Jeff Lorber, Gary Meek and Tom Zink.  Bromberg’s tongue-in-cheek humor was deftly deployed when it came to titling his original compositions – “Rory Lowery, Private Eye,” “If Ray Brown Was A Cowboy?,” “A Little New Old School” and “I’m Just Sayin’” are a few examples – and his flair for choosing unexpected songs to cover shines brightly on an imaginative, toe-tapping rendition of the Rick James signature hit “Give It To Me Baby.”

“One thing I feel that makes Compared To That a unique project is that it is a live jazz recording that also has a ten-piece horn section on many tracks, a full orchestra string section on two cuts, and the production of a much bigger project.  Essentially, it really was a two-day live jazz recording session along with 3-1/2 months of the kind of production used on big pop records.  I truly blended the best of both worlds: live acoustic jazz with the audiophile of a major production,” explained Bromberg, who previewed the album at a Sunday brunch performance at the Berks Jazz Fest in Reading, Pennsylvania this past weekend (March 25).  “I went more to my jazz roots on this CD with a lot of swing and walking bass.  All in all, I think it is a fun listen for a true jazz CD and I am very proud of it.” Continue reading

Brittni Paiva – Living Ukulele

Upstart ukulele sensation Brittni Paiva has gone visual. The 2011 Entertainer of the Year, MauiFest Hawaii, has released Living Ukelele (Talmidim Productions, 2011), a film by Kenneth K. Martinez Burgmaier.

The DVD features live performances, interviews, behind the scenes, a music video and ukulele lessons. It’s a fine mix of music and visual paradise. The ukulele is mostly associated with Hawaiian music, traditional songs from the islands. However, Paiva uses the instrument to play several styles, including jazz, blues, pop, rock and world music.

Song highlights include covers of the jazz standard, “Take Five,” and Maroon 5’s hit, “Sunday Morning.”

The hour-long film balances the history of Paiva’s music career and her progress as a recording artist, with a personal look at Paiva without her instrument, including segments on her husband’s passion for cars and Paiva taking surfing lessons.


Greg Adams – East Bay Soul 2.0

With the experience of his previous work as leading member and arranger of Tower of Power it was a question of time, that Greg would build a new formation after the departure from this legacy in 1995.

East Bay Soul is Greg’s new group comprising today’s of Smitty Smith (bass), Johnnie Bamont (sax and flute), Michael Paulo (sax), Joey Navarro (keyboards), Johnny Sandoval (percussion), Herman Matthews (drums), Sean Billings (trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone), Darryl Walker (vocals) and James Wirrick (guitar). Founded in 2009 the group already had some personal changes but the music is still the same since the release of the debut album East Bay Soul.

Greg releases the albums on his own label Ripa Records. His new album East Bay Soul 2.0 was completely funded by fans. Greg comments: “This project is a labor of love for so many reasons and a real treat to give back to the fans of my music and East Bay Soul. I really wanted to bring a variety of emotion to the project, songs that challenged me, moved me, hoping that it will do the same for the listener. Come along with us and join East Bay Soul 2.0!”


Chris Botti – Impressions

Since the release of his 2004 critically acclaimed CD When I Fall In Love, Chris Botti has become the largest selling American jazz instrumental artist. His success has crossed over to audiences usually reserved for pop music and his ongoing association with PBS has led to four #1 Jazz Albums, as well as multiple Gold, Platinum & Grammy Awards. Hitting the road for 250 plus days per year, Chris and his incredible band have performed with many of the finest symphonies, at some of the world’s most prestigious venues, including performances at the World Series and Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony.

Over the past three decades, he has recorded and performed with the best in music; including Frank Sinatra, Sting, Josh Groban, Michael Buble, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, John Mayer, Andrea Bocelli, Joshua Bell and Aerosmith’s own Steven Tyler.

On his new album Impressions, Chris Botti performs with superstars Vince Gill, Herbie Hancock, Andrea Bocelli, David Foster and Mark Knopfler. Impressions includes songs written by an incredibly diverse roster of songwriters including Randy Newman, Herbie Hancock, R. Kelly, George Gershwin, Frederic Chopin, David Foster, and Harold Arlen.

Pre-order your album at now.

Hiroe Sekine – After the Rainfall

Pianist and composer Hiroe Sekine brings some soothing, ambient sounds with her second release as a leader, After the Rainfall (Sekai Music, 2012). This elegant set offers four original songs and Sekine’s arrangements of titles by the Beatles, Chick Corea, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Thelonious Monk.

Sekine plays acoustic piano, keyboard and provides vocals in the way of wordless chants and lyrics. Her band consists of Bob Sheppard on tenor and soprano saxophones and flute; Larry Koonse on guitar; Darek Oles on acoustic bass; Jimmy Johnson on electric bass; Peter Erskine on drums and shaker; and Arnold McCuller on vocals.

The title song is a delightful piece written by Sekine. Guitar and piano blend for the melody at the beginning. As the song picks up, Sekine’s ethereal vocal carries the lead. The music has an air of David Benoit about it.


Richard Franklin – Seven Eves

Reclusive guitarist and composer Richard Franklin is one of the best-kept secrets of the smooth jazz world. His early musical background was in classic guitar – as a student of Carlos Barbosa-Lima and Sophocles Papas, his lineage goes directly back to the great Andres Segovia. A very successful classic guitarist, he performed extensively in recital and with orchestras; he also won a number of performance competitions. The influence of the classic style is evident in his jazz work, particularly the emphasis on tonal warmth and expressivity.

Through the mid-1980’s, Richard worked as a performing and studio guitarist (as well as an acclaimed teacher), until he withdrew from the public music scene for personal reasons. Since then, his musical activity has focused on composition and studio production. He is now introducing the fruits of that work.

Fans of smooth jazz will find the music of Richard Franklin to be readily accessible, even on the first hearing, as it features lush harmonies, attractive melodies, and subtle grooves. While firmly rooted in jazz and pop traditions, Richard Franklin does not sound like anyone else. Repeated listening will be rewarded with an appreciation of the care, skill and subtlety with which this material is crafted and performed. The music is positive, up-beat, and always very satisfying.

His newest album is Seven Eves, which is just arrived at CDBaby.

Tomazz – Winter Chill

Staring off as a recording engineer in Philadelphia, Thomas James Ackley has been a part of the music business for the past 20 years. Initially he worked with independent artists before becoming the keyboard tech for the likes of Boyz to Men and Grover Washington, Jr. After moving to New York in the mid 90s, he joined the Hit Factory Studio and while he was there for only a short time he had the chance to engineer for Celine Dion, Will Smith, and others.

By the turn of the millennium, Ackley’s focus had begun to shift to remixing and to his own work. Debuting under the pseudonym of Tomazz in 2007, he has already released several smooth Jazz CDs.  In 2007 he released his first smooth jazz album Orient Bay featuring piano leads and retro synths. The following year he released a retrospective of his work dating back to 1992 called Chronicles.

In early 2010 he released his second smooth jazz album Lucid Dream focusing on sounds from the 70s and early 80s. 2010 also saw the release of his electronica/dance album called Thinking About You. A collection of club pumping tracks and some new dance remixes from Lucid Dream.

His latest release is his third smooth jazz album called Winter Chill. Tomazz states “When I set out to follow up Lucid Dream I originally decided to have a more orchestral approach to the overall sound. If you listen to The Road or Majestic Moon for example that’s mostly orchestral and far from anything jazzy. However, as I started working the overall direction became more adventurous. Albatross is big example of this which is more progressive jazz or fusion is you like. There are movements or sections that stand outside the usual verse, bridge, chorus format. Of course there are songs which are very smooth jazz like Jack Boogie, Cup of Soul, Coast to Coast and Comfort my Heart.

The title song Winter Chill was produced in the style of Chris Botti. Very moody and romantic. The main vocal track Make It a Sunny Day was actually written musically a number of years ago but I never finished it. So I put some lyrics down and produced it with a kind of retro feel almost Phil Collins sound. I’m very pleased the way the album Winter Chill came out. I hope listeners get as much enjoyment out of it as I did producing it.”

His newest album Winter Chill is now on sale at CDBaby.