Archive for May, 2013

Carol Duboc – Smile

SmileThinking that everything had fallen apart, the tears streamed down Carol Duboc’s face as she wrote the lyrics to “Smile,” the title track to the soulful jazz vocalist’s stunning sixth album that was released Tuesday (May 21) by Gold Note Music. She gazed at her young daughter’s smile and found hope. Hope infuses the painfully honest and courageously candid collection Duboc penned and produced with fusion pioneer Jeff Lorber about coming to terms with the end of her marriage. The shuffling beats of the funky first single, “Elephant,” one of Billboard BDSradio’s most added tracks this week, elusively dances around the realization that she and her husband faced: the amassed problems in the marriage were the elephant that could no longer be ignored.

Duboc and Lorber have a history of writing songs together that spans more than a decade yet became more frequent a few years ago when the chanteuse with the candied voice moved into a Los Angeles, Calif. neighborhood near Lorber’s home studio. They complement each other’s strengths as songwriters organically with Duboc coming up with catchy melodies and compelling storytelling lyrics for Lorber’s jazz-funk rhythms and grooves. Naturally turning to her own life for lyrical themes, Duboc delved into the flood of feelings that she was experiencing at the time in the troubled relationship. She intimately chronicled utilizing the process as a form of therapy allowing her to work through the morass. Despite the difficult subject matter, the songs are not bitter as Duboc instills a sense of hope into her melodies – perhaps because of her daughter’s presence. She remains poised throughout her cathartic emotional exploration.

“Smile” was recorded in the studio live with Duboc accompanied by a stellar ensemble consisting of Lorber (keyboards, Moog & guitar), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), Grammy-nominee Brian Bromberg (acoustic bass), Jimmy Haslip (electric bass), 3-time Grammy nominee Hubert Laws (flute), Michael Thompson (guitars), Luis Conte (percussion) and Tim Carmon (piano). Her graceful, caressing and expressive voice nestles into the plush contemporary jazz rhythm beds, rides the R&B grooves, and adds depth to the urbane pop confections. Continue reading

George Duke – Dreamweaver

OK, let’s pretend that we don’t know about the recent tragedy in George Duke’s life and let’s pretend that I haven’t been a crazy fan for over 35 years – it’s going to be hard! Also, I’ll try to stay away from comparisons with other artists’ music – I’ll tell you how these songs make me feel.

I love the way that George conjures up a mood with a short intro – or outro. The one at the start of “Reach for It” has always grabbed my attention, and the synth-heavy title track here has the same effect. It’s spacey, slightly threatening and over headphones you are completely absorbed, despite its brevity. The scene is perfectly set for “Stones of Orion”, which finds George at the piano and Stanley Clarke (of course – you cry!) on upright bass providing a wash of cinematic sound, filled out with flute and some gorgeous brass. It is – and I mean this in the most complimentary way – 70’s big-city cop show writ large. Or at least it is until the rimshots mark a different tempo and George’s love of Latin music reveals itself. You’d expect Stanley to step forward with a solo and it’s a tasteful one. The whole song feels like an embrace for me and far from transporting me to another world, it makes me long for the warm sunshine of California.

Dukey funk meets the best of clipped urban beats on “Trippin’” and the sparse production here is sublime. There are whispers of muted trumpet, acoustic guitar, that squelchy Dukey synth and George’s vocal, which – let me tell you – sounds as good as ever. Hypnotic stuff. On “AshTray”, Dukey funk (or should that be ‘fonk’?) meets more Dukey funk. Crisp drumming, filthy slapped bass, some crazy guitar licks and some tasty electric piano make this a funk jam that you’ll be playing for days!! That’s before you dig out all your other Dukey treats…

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Liz Mandeville – Clarksdale

She’s got a style that makes you notice. And she sings for the pure joy of it. Liz Mandeville, a product of the Chicago blues scene, visits the Mississippi Delta with Clarksdale (Blue Kitty Music, 2013).

The 2011 Chicago Blues Society’s Blues Challenge Solo/Duo winner enlists some Delta region stars and a few other friends for the project. Among them are Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, who is from Helena, Arkansas, home of the King Biscuit Blues Festival. Saxophonist Eddie Shaw, who hails from the Stringtown community, near Greenville, Mississippi, also contributes. Darryl Wright plays bass and arranged several tracks. Several other players also make appearances.

“Roadside Produce Stand” is a lively piece. Mandeville sings with spirit and sass. Smith provides drums and blues harp (harmonica). It’s the kind of song that makes those in the audience want to get up and dance.

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Alan King – Something More

Something MoreAlan King‘s ultra melodic, instantly infectious Something More–a perfect and promising title for what he’s offering throughout—he takes the exotica factor to exciting new territory with R&B flavor, Latin Rhythms and Eastern koto sounds.

Test his new album at CDBaby.

Craig Sharmat – Bleu Horizons

Should the guitarist Craig Sharmat be unknown to the reader, he was the composer of trailers for movies like King Kong, Ghost Rider, Eragon, Anchorman, wrote songs for the TV series like CSI Miami, Without A Trace and many more. He also arranged songs for Rick Braun, Peter White, and Mindy Abair.

He gave his debut with the album So Cal Drivin, which was released in 2009. His sophomore album Outside In followed in 2010. With his new album Bleu Horizons Craig ensures continuity. On his new project he is supported by a variety of professional musicians. I discover in the liner notes Craig Manning (keyboards), Rayford Griffin (drums), Hussain Jiffry (bass), Peter White (accordion), Rick Braun (trumpet, flugelhorn), Luis Conte (percussion) and several more.

With sound collages like First Stop NYC and Manhattan Morning Craig lures listeners into the magic of his new work. On A Day In Paris he captures with intense sounds the appeal of the French capital. The bring into play of Peter White on accordion is simply ingenious. In his guitar playing, he emphasizes the picturesque interpretation and not technical sophistication. This French life sense of savoir vivre also transmits Craig Sharmat on his next song La Seine Strut. Rick Braun on trumpet and Benedict Breyden on the violin are exponents of this way of life.

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Jeff Babko – Crux

Take a bit of 1970s-style fusion, put it to new compositions, and you might come up with something like Jeff Babko’s Crux (Tonequake Records, 2012).

Babko, a keyboardist and composer who has spent a decade as composer and arranger for ABC Television’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, has also toured with such luminaries as James Taylor, Larry Carlton, Sheryl Crow, Robben Ford and Shelby Lynne. On Crux, Babko is accompanied by a variable lineup of musicians, including bassist Tim Lefebvre.

“The International Client” begins the set. Babko and the rhythm section lay down the groove with tenor saxophonist Ben Wendel and trumpeter Walt Fowler blending for the lead. The two instruments not only carry the melody but also a bridge passage. Lefebvre and drummer Gene Coye set the foundation for the rotating dialogue among trumpet, sax and piano, cranking up the intensity a bit as they get deeper into the conversation.

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Phillip Doc Martin – Good Day At Work

Good Day At WorkPhillip‘Doc’Martin a rising alto saxophone star who’s heartfelt, humble melodies are wooing live audiences across the country. Phillip’s third and current release Realization, features 14 new songs that don’t passively fit traditional smooth, instrumental or funky rhythm genres. His tunes flex, bounce & bend offering audiophiles a new sax diagnosis.Martin plays his horn with a warm and clear tone supplemented by a chronic range that takes you on a soulful and energetic journey.

Realization is a toe-tapping finger-snapping,get out of your-seat groove CD. Martin’s unique eclectic style takes you on a musical journey from smooth to straight ahead jazz. Jazz star Jeff Lorber says”Doc Martins horn always blows with the energy of a live club recording something sadly missing from most smooth jazz artists these days”.

Legendary George Benson says, Doc Martin is “Someone to watch!”In following his ambition, he attended the University of Central Florida and played as a sideman with Grammy Award winner Sam Rivers, Grammy nominee Kirk Whalum, Sunnie Paxton, Wes Hamrick & the Sounds of Soul. As Phillip continued to hone his skills, he became influenced by saxophone greats Charlie Parker, Grover Washington Jr.,Dave Koz & Gerald Albright.

In 2003, he recorded his first CD, Saxappeal, with music producer, keyboardist, Tony Hemmings. After moving to Washington, D.C.Martin became a member of the Marcus Johnson Project; and graduated from Howard University College of Dentistry hence the moniker ‘Doc’. While in dental school,Martin realized he was able to do it all and through studying on a plane between gigs, his new release Realization on his own label Saxtime Entertainment became a reality/vision for the new CD.

Phillip performs in festivals/venues throughout the U.S./Caribbean including the St.Lucia Jazz Festival,Bahamas Jazz Festival,Carolina Music Festival, Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival,Washington, D.C.’sBlues Alley,Philadelphia’s Dell East, and many more.

Jazzy, Funky and Smooth all describe the Innervision Records Debut of sax-man Phillip ‘Doc’ Martin, “Good Day at Work“! Available at CDBaby.