Archive for August, 2012

Erena Terakubo – New York Attitude

The cover photograph shows the artist, alone on a stool, after cleanup of a quaint jazz club. An appropriate image for New York Attitude (Four Quarters Entertainment, 2012), by Erena Terakubo with Legends.

Terakubo, barely 20 years old, releases her debut in North America, supported by a veterans Kenny Barron on piano, Ron Carter on bass and Lee Pearson on drums. Trumpeter Dominic Farinacci appears on a few tracks.

Born in Sapporo, Japan, in 1992, Terakubo began learning the alto saxophone at age 9 and later attended jazz workshops led by the likes of Herbie Hancock and Tiger Okoshi. Her first recording, Nightbird, was with King Records, a major Japanese label. The recording featured heavy hitters Barron and bassist Christian McBride.

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Sam Hankins – Nothing Between Us

Sam Hankins graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in music performance and a Bachelors Degree and a Masters Degree in music education. He performed in the Glenn Miller big band and with artists such as The O’Jays, Aretha Franklin, Kool and the Gang, The Temptations, and The Dells.

Sam has more than one iron in the fire. Dream Catcher (2011) might find your attention at CDBaby. His smooth jazz CD Nothing Between Us was released in May 2012. The latter is available via his website. Sam returned to Chicago in the fall of 2010 and was hired as Band Director at Christ Our Savior Catholic School, where he is still teaching his students.

A dose of Herb Alpert, a pinch of Rick Braun and a big extra bonus of Tom Browne, that’s Sam’s Nothing Between Us. A crystal clear trumpet leading into a captivating song.

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Neamen – So Free

Tucson, Arizona is home to this 31-year-old sax star. Once you hear his music, you will hear the influences of such heroes as Eric Marienthal, Gerald Albright and Grover Washington Jr.

He has already shared billing with Dave Koz and on this, his debut CD, he has been able to surround himself with considerable playing and producing talent, including Jay Soto, Jeff Lorber and Mel Brown.

Fans of contemporary jazz sax, especially those who like to get on the dancefloor every so often, will love the bright and breezy opener ‘Candy’. Brian Simpson’s piano solo complements the alto lead lines perfectly. Let’s just say, I have some DJ gigs lined up and this track is going to get some serious rotation! The mood is just as sweet, though mellower, for ‘Let’s Chill’. The hook on the chorus is sublime – Jay Soto has penned a beauty here. Takes me back to the hot summer of ’94, listening to WQCD in Manhattan.

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Dunham Music Group – Red Strings

William Aaron Dunham also known as Billy Dunham, is a third generation musician . He plays guitar, bass, drums, harmonica, keyboards and he sings both Lead and background vocals. Previously Billy Dunham has been Lead Vocalist with,The Production Company, The Santa Cruz Band, ReMixx; The Band, Ebony and The Greek, Skintight; The Band, Faun, The Esquires and The Ritz Band.

Betty Bass is the Band Manager and CEO of Dunham Music Group. She is the Technician & Master Engineer.
Betty remixes arrangements and produces including adding content, acquiring all copyright documents, publishing and marketing. Betty handles all studio archives creating masters. She also oversees our websites, collaborations, publicity and personnel.  Ms. Bass worked as assistant to Robert Nesbitt Jr. from Chrysalis Records from 1984-1988 in the San Francisco Bay Area. She worked with Huey Lewis and the News, Pat Benitar, Billy Idol, Spandau Ballet, Tower of Power Horns and George Makinto.

Both produced Red Strings, now at CDBaby.

Steve Smith & Vital Information – Live! One Great Night

When a band records a live performance, the listener can expect two things: improvisation wherein the musicians stretch out in ways you don’t normally get in a studio session, and reaction from the audience. The latter is a bit lacking on Live! One Great Night (BFM Jazz, 2012), by Steve Smith and Vital Information.

The combination CD and DVD release celebrate the group’s 30th anniversary. Smith, a drummer, has a vast depth of experience, having worked with Journey, Steps Ahead, Buddy Rich Big Band and many others. He’s also won several readers’ polls in Modern Drummer magazine. The rest of the group consists of Tom Coster on keyboards, Baron Browne on bass and Vinny Valentino on guitar.

The very cool “Cat Walk” starts the set. Whether the title is a reference to fashion models strutting down the runway or an actual feline getting about, the groove is appropriate for either image. Valentino carries the sassy lead for much of the song, with Browne injecting an element of funk with his bass line.

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Sean O’Bryan Smith – Reflection

Sean O’Bryan Smith is one of the rare bassists, who can live as a professional session musician. Those, which are not familiar with his name, I can inform about his collaboration with Darius Rucker, Billy Currington, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Rogers, Wynonna, and more. Friends of jazz will know him by his performance with Michael Brecker, Roy Haynes, Kevin Mahogany, Eddie Palmieri, Fattburger, and Jamie Cullum.

He started his solo career with the album Tapestry (2011). His sophomore album Reflection was released July 17th on Groove Therapy Records. Among the team of musical supporters we find guitarist Chuck Loeb, saxophonist Tommy Ogle and pianist-songwriter Jeff Franzel.

When evaluating the selection of his songs for Sean, the first song speaks a lot for a religious background. How Great Thou Art is a Christian hymn based on a Swedish poem written by Carl Gustav Boberg. The melody is a Swedish folk song. On the other hand Sean approaches the song from a popular side with a jazzy bridge, which has in the overall context more the character of an intruder.

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I happened To Hear 08/2012

You already know that Brian Bromberg is not like other bassists you’ve heard right? Well as a measure of how different he is, during May-June 2012, he released 3 albums, two of them on the same day!

Let’s get into the first, ‘Compared to That’. If you loved his CD ‘Downright Upright’ (I did) then the opener to this set (the title track) will get you smiling straight off. It’s a big band stomper with Bromberg’s trademark humour and some fabulous acoustic bass soloing. And you recognise that sense of fun in ‘What if Ray brown was a Cowboy?’ – a lovely lazy jazz trio tribute to one of jazz’s greatest. Enjoy the lovely piano on this song. And enjoy Béla Fleck’s flying banjo lines on ‘Hayride’. It’s a joyous country romp and I bet I’m not the only who can picture a team of guys with sleeves rolled up triumphantly lifting the last piece of a barn into place somewhere in Pennsylvania…

In stark contrast, the funky, horn-laden ‘A Little New Old School’ could be a Tower of Power outing minus vocals. The electric bass is laying it down here and Randy Brecker dives in with a scorching trumpet solo. ‘Does Anyone Really Know What Time it Is?’ is a gorgeous swinging big band tune with a sweet lead guitar line, ah but you know Bromberg’s ‘lead guitar’ is actually him on bass don’t you? Gary Meek’s tenor sax plays off the ‘guitar’ lines really nicely and I’m drinking Crown Royal in the best jazz club in town… And if you want to get lost in a nine-minute dream, flip to track 9 for ‘The Eclipse’ and soak up the jazz vibe as Bromberg’s fretless and Brecker’s smoky flugelhorn weave a spell you won’t want to break.

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Jaithan Sparks – Hear, I Am

The Very Next Thing: “A mild classic fusion instrumental so easily one, and deservedly so, for the jazz airwaves.”
Bent Below The Knees: “Grab this one for life in the fast lane. A modern urbanite’s signature driving soundtrack. A blend of pseudo vocals, pads and rhodes, but that’s just the half without the killer keys and chords. Classic yet cutting edge, guaranteed to wow any weekend passenger side guest… But even you might be surprised…and find yourself all geared up with nowhere to go, plays just as well parked.”

Every Now And Then: “Catch the artist in a moment of reconnection. To himself, to a past, to a boyhood beginning. Naked, raw and beautifully simple. It never left the man but fell asleep in his soul. Now once re-awakened, gives birth to this thank song. Of piano simplicity and humble melodies. It knows to look back and be grateful again. The return that happens, Every Now And Then.”

Never Once Again: “Try this for vintage warmth. over a midrange groove so cool. How’s that polarity working out? Fusion tune that’s funky fun, melody that’s playfully pleasant. A dash of Eumir Deodato meets a hint of Carole King. or Steve Perry to boot. And all other wherewithal’s to create some jazz this smooth. Sweetly 70’s and delectably classic. like a temptation you keep coming back to. and find yourself with no longer the heart to say no or never, once again.”

This CD offers a smooth blend of easy listening and creamy mellow jazz melodies to the listener. This is truly Grownfolk Music and it will be quite evident the moment the first tune is played and heard. Here I Am at CDBaby.

Amit Friedman Sextet – Sunrise

The morning sun casts a bright glow over a field, a cover photo that captures the essence of Sunrise (Origin Records, 2012), by the Amit Friedman Sextet.

The session is part ambient, part fusion, all good. Friedman plays tenor and soprano saxophones, plus flute on one track. The rest of the band consists of Amos Hoffman on oud and guitar, Omri Mor on piano, Gilad Abro on bass, Amir Bresler on drums and Rony Iwryn on percussion. The string ensemble of Chen Shenar and Avner Kelmer on violins, Noam Haimovitz Weinschel on viola and Maya Belzitsman on cello contribute to some selections.

As if representative of dawn, “Sunrise” begins slowly, almost unnoticeable. One can almost see the faint glow of pre-dawn as the soprano welcomes a new day, backed softly by the accompaniment. Gradually, the sky lightens, and dark red transitions to orange and eventually bright yellow. The strings add an elegant touch.

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Fourplay – Esprit De Four

Smooth Jazz supergroup Fourplay is set to release their new album Espirit De Four, on September 18. For two decades, the quartet has enjoyed consistent artistic and commercial success by blending elements of R&B, pop and a variety of other sounds to their unwavering jazz foundations. Over the course of the band’s career, spanning a dozen recordings, six have climbed to the top of Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Album charts.

The group is comprised of leader/pianist Bob James, bassist Nathan East, drummer Harvey Mason, Jr. and guitarist Chuck Loeb, who joined the band in 2010 following the departure of Larry Carlton. Fourplay will be part of the Smooth Jazz Serenades the Seas Cruise setting sail from Barcelona, Spain on September 27 and will begin a U.S. tour on October 12 in Newport Beach, CA.

The follow up to 2010’s Let’s Touch the Sky, this is the second album to feature the group s newest member, guitarist Chuck Loeb. Here he joins the all-star lineup of keyboardist Bob James, bassist Nathan East and drummer Harvey Mason, each of whom contribute at least two compositions to the release.

One of the more notable tracks is the Bob James composition Put Our Hearts Together which he wrote for a concert in a region severely impacted by the devastating Japanese tsunami of 2011. It appears as both an instrumental and vocal version on the CD. Japanese pop star Seiko Matsuda lends her voice on this moving tribute.

Esprit De Four is available at