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.

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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.

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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.