Archive for May, 2012

Michael Walker – A Smoother You

Mike Walker didn’t come from a lineage of musicians. But, his love for the electric guitar has allowed him embrace the riveting sounds of blues and smooth jazz. Born in Newport, Ark., on Nov. 19, 1959, Mike was hooked on the guitar by listening to his grandmother’s old blues records, notably the great B.B. King.

His first visual exposure to the guitar came by watching musician Roy Clark stroke the strings every week on the country variety show, “Hee Haw.” His awe of Clark confirmed his desire to play a guitar. When Mike approached 12 years old, his dad bought his son an electric guitar. A novice guitar player in town, Mr. Vault, became his instructor. Eventually, Mike’s dad allowed his son to play with more established players in local clubs. Mike contends this experience allowed him to gain exposure in playing in a real bad. Mike played as part of cover bands, and did all he could to get his name known in the town of 8,000 residents.

In 1989, Mike moved to Dallas, Texas, to study music business at the Art Institute of Dallas. While attending school, Mike took a five-year sabbatical from music, but during this time he stumbled upon a new genre that piqued his interest – smooth jazz. He began playing gigs with Daddy’s Chair, a Dallas-based smooth jazz band. While blues was still one of his favorites, he began to gravitate toward the sounds of legendary jazz guitarist George Benson and Benson’s contemporary, Kansas City, Mo., native Norman Brown.

Daddy’s Chair was the beginning of Mike’s longing to cultivate his new love for smooth jazz. In 2000, he formed his own band, Chill Factor, an ensemble that played gigs in the Dallas area. With Chill Factor, Mike was able to discover his leadership skills and manage several personalities. After 12 years with the band, Mike decided to take a stab at becoming a solo artist. His solo project, “A Smoother You,” was released in May 2012. While Mike has his influences, he is proud of his solo smooth jazz outing because it “is totally me; people will know it is me.” Produced by Dallas musician and singer Quentin Moore, “A Smoother You” contains nine tracks, with seven of them written by Mike. He co-wrote two of the tracks with Moore.

“It (‘A Smoother You’) is a happy-feeling CD. It makes you feel good. It is happy and brings a smile to your face,” said Mike, who is founder of Mike Walker Entertainment. You can buy this album at CDBaby.

Sean O’Bryan Smith – Reflection

A beatific album of hymns and inspired originals shepherded by bassist Sean O’Bryan Smith and anointed by an accomplished minion of 23 musicians, Reflection will be released July 17th on Groove Therapy Records.  Smith produced and arranged the offering of soul, contemporary jazz and gospel selections that comprise the second solo album from the in-demand bass player.  Previewing the 12-song disc, the rousing rocker “Blessed Be Your Name” featuring guitarist Chuck Loeb, saxophonist Tommy Ogle and pianist-songwriter Jeff Franzel (Taylor Swift, *NSYNC, Clay Aiken) goes for radio adds June 11th.

Three years in the making, Reflection was conceived as Smith listened to hymnals and spirituals at church while on break from touring.  After creating fresh arrangements for classics such as opener “How Great Thou Art,” “Blessed Assurance,” “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and “Battle Hymn Of The Republic” and celestial covers “Blessed Be Your Name,” “Give Me Jesus,” “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” and “Yes You Have,” he composed two originals.  “Called” is an infectious soul-jazz groove graced by Gerald Albright’s soaring sax while the record’s title track is a thought-provoking spoken word sermon delivered faithfully by Malcolm Jamal-Warner.  Franzel contributed a third original, “Me Without You,” an aching torch song blessed with Lisa Hearns’ yearning voice.

Throughout “Reflection,” Smith coaxes robust rhythms and divine melodies from his four- and five-string basses, six-string fretless bass, upright bass and piccolo bass.  Other prominent soloists on the album are Randy Brecker’s prayerful trumpet on “Give Me Jesus” and Frank Catalano’s saxophone on the New Orleans-flavored march “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and the soul-stirring “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.” Continue reading

Smooth Jazz Festival Mallorca 2012

In search of the beautiful moments of life there are always opportunities to hold it for a short time. One of those moments was the Smooth Jazz Festival, which first took place in Sa Coma, on the beautiful east coast of the Spanish island Mallorca. The exclusive ambience of the Protur Biomar Gran Hotel & Spa, a 5-star hotel was the awesome venue of this remarkable event.

Despite the not to be underestimated costs by air travel, hotel stay and tickets a surprisingly large number of smooth jazz fans participated in this highlight at this breathtaking place. All brought with them a good mood because they had the occasion to see many friends from last year. With world-class artists such as Uné, David Benoit, Jeff Lorber, Marc Antoine and Warren Hill did nothing to be desired.

Whom alone the appearance of the artist was not enough, could deepen the contact in intensive talks to his idol. Even the great weather, excellent food and fine drinks rounded out the well-being. The program of Friday night opened the agile saxophonist Eric Darius with Settin’ In Off from his album On A Mission (2010). For photographers, it was a difficult task to keep him in the picture, because not only during this piece, but throughout the entire performance, he found himself in motion.


Bruce Riley – Smooth Jazz

Saxophonist Bruce Riley offers his own version of Smooth Jazz.  His skills are Composer / Musical composition / Audio Engineering and the Sax. Also visit his website.

His offer at CDBaby.

Are Jaama – EADGBE

Are Jaama is a band from Estonia. EADGBE is guitar music, composed and played by Are Jaama and his friends. A cool and refreshing sound. Acoustic and electric guitar sounds vary with saxophone, harmonica, violin, mandolin and accordion.

EADGBE is to find at CDBaby.

Partners in Time – Partners in Time

The brilliant debut album full of melody and movement features the amazing guitars of Phillip Siadi and an equally amazing group of musicians, and is the cutting edge of a new contemporary genre . . . smooth jazz with an EDGE!

Partners in Time is now on sale at CDBaby.

Waldo Valenzuela – The Light of the Sixth Sun

Guitarist and Sound Engineer of Chilean origin. In 1987 he relocated from Vallenar to Valdivia (Chile), where he studied Acoustic Engineering for 4 years. Due to the strong Jazz and Rock influence in Valdivia at that time, Waldo honed and perfected his skills in those styles of Music as well as traditional South American Music and Spanish guitar.

By 1991 he transferred to Santiago de Chile where he finished his university studies, graduating in Sound Engineering.
He has participated as a musician in numerous projects and with some of the best bands in Chile, DeKiruza and Gondwana, to name a few.  Currently he is extending his horizons, laying down roots in Los Angeles, CA.

Now settled in the U.S.A. he continues to develop as an Engineer in Audio Post Production for Cinema and Television, in Burbank, CA.  Along with his work in Post Production he has become known as an innovative guitarist and music producer.

A blend of Jazz, Latin and Fusion is the engine of this new album. With some of the best musicians in LA you can experience a journey between styles from Brazilian Music, Smooth Jazz, Fusion and Rock. Join us in this new adventure!!!The Light of the Sixth Sun is now shining at CDBaby.

Chris Mann Interviews Peter White

CM – Peter, many thanks for taking the time to talk to me today. The last time we spoke was back in September 2009 and in the following month you were due to go and play some dates with your old buddy Al Stewart, so I wanted to start off by asking you how that went.

PW – I did some shows with him in Steelville, Missouri. It was a little hotel/resort kind of place and it seemed like fun, to me. It was, actually, a lot of fun. Getting together with Al is always fun – playing some of the old songs and playing some of the new songs. I started with him when I was 20 years old. Played with him for almost 20 years so it’s always fun to go back and re-live the past a little bit – it’s very comfortable.

CM – Fantastic. And towards the end of 2009 you were due to do some Christmas shows with Dave Koz again. Did that materialise?

PW – Yes it did. I did a whole tour with him. I’ve done many Christmas tours with Dave actually. Starting in 1998, we did five consecutive years, starting the day after Thanksgiving all the way through to Christmas and it was always a lot of fun. I was hanging out with Dave for a whole month out of the year. It was a constant party. Loved it.

CM – Excellent, excellent. Listening to the new CD ‘Here We Go’ Peter, lots of questions come to mind and I wondered after that brief catch-up if we could just launch into talking about the new CD?

PW – Yes, absolutely.

CM – I don’t want to dissect it track-by-track even though that is my usual M.O. but there were some things that really stuck out in my mind. On the first track ‘Night after Night’, I hope you don’t mind if I read from notes that I wrote recently: I wrote that it’s insanely catchy. Does that seem an apt description Peter?

PW – Yes! I like that description. I write lots of songs. I get lots of ideas. That song came to me when I was writing a whole lot – I wasn’t on the road so much. If I continue working on a song it’s because it is catchy to me, it has something that grabs me. The way that song starts – it has that little keyboard melody (sings the melody) – I thought that was really nice, that hypnotic riff that you can hang a song around.


Gerald Albright and Norman Brown – 24/7

As listeners, we like to enjoy music 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So it’s a good thing that contemporary jazz greats Gerald Albright and Norman Brown have been working overtime to produce 24/7, their first album together. This June 19, 2012 release on Concord Jazz, a division of Concord Music Group, offers ten killer soul-jazz tracks of music that never sleeps.

Ever since the debut of Norman Brown’s critically acclaimed 2002 album, Just Chillin’ – which won a GRAMMY® in the prestigious Best Pop Instrumental Category – this innovative and original guitarist has been front and center in the fast evolving fusion of pop, R&B and jazz that has captured the imagination of true music aficionados across the country and around the world.

On 24/7, Brown teams up with saxophone master Gerald Albright, whose high-profile recordings have established the Los Angeles-based musician as one of the most prominent artists and a true “musicians’ musician.” Whether he is playing contemporary or straight-ahead jazz, Albright stands in a class all by himself. His 2010 release, Pushing The Envelope, received a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Pop Instrumental Album.

“The title is reflective of the commitment that both of us have made in terms of our instruments,” Albright says. “Even when we sleep we’re thinking about melodies, recordings, concerts and whatever we’re going to do next. 24/7 also speaks to the camaraderie between us. I first met Norman back in the ’80s, when we would play together at a club in Redlands, CA. Other musicians would stop by, but I was always impressed with Norman’s playing. It was a lot of fun – but a challenge as well. We went our separate ways, but here we are now.” Continue reading

Brian Mcrae – Painted World

If you are able to hear the differences between the sound of one bird from another or tune in to the whistle in your ears when the wind changes direction, then you are someone who can imagine color with sound. You are able see the change in hues of blue, orange, red, or yellow as the soloist carries you from the beginning to end of these songs.

Brian Mcrae is able to combine the perfect musical ensemble of brilliant musicians with talent, style, and class to create a painted world that speaks to the jazz lover with an acoustic-earthy style that wakes you up in the morning or settles your pulse in the evening. Anyone who enjoys Pat Metheney, Mark O’Conner, or others in their genre will love this album.

Experience the Painted World at CDBaby.