Archive for June, 2014

Tom Braxton – The Next Chapter

TheNextChapterThe Next Chapter presents Tom Braxton at his best from up-tempo grooves to reflective ballads. When listening to the record, it’s easy to feel the love, joy, and positive energy. Tom is showcased on soprano, alto and tenor saxophones, as well as flute and keyboards. Braxton served as producer, writer and arranger on most of the material. However, he did have production assistance from the “”drummer to the stars,”” the late Ricky Lawson.

The Next Chapter combines lyrical melodies with invigorating rhythms from a variety of genres including dance music, sambas, soul and contemporary jazz. The title track, written by Braxton and pianist Jay Rowe, kicks off the CD with a “”hooky melody”” and a “”killer glide to the groove.”” Lawson’s energy is evident on “”New Horizons”” which features a fresh “”house beat”” that accentuates Braxton’s exciting tenor. Tom and Bob James take it “”south of the border”” and have some fun on “”Nuevo,”” a bossa tinged party for piano and tenor. Peter White joins Braxton for a beautiful rendition of Bread’s classic, “”Make It With You.”” White’s guitar and Tom’s soprano are a match made in heaven!

Braxton’s lively tenor is featured on the Spinners favorite, “”I’ll Be Around”” which showcases background vocals from Grammy winner Arthur Dyer. Braxton has been on the road with Grammy winner Earl Klugh, and they are mesmerizing in the sophisticated but simplistic “”Contemplation.”” “”Sunrise in Malawi”” inspired by a trip to Africa with Klugh, is an energizing song that will get your juices flowing. The legendary guitarist adds his signature sound to this early morning dance. The light and airy “”Tuesday Morning”” will have you singing all the way to work. Ricky Lawson interjected some old school into the project with the O’Jay’s hit “”I Love Music”” Lawson and Sean Dancy got the ball rolling and Braxton added his signature sax and horn arrangement to help get you up on your feet! Finally, Braxton displays his arranging skills with the classic hymn, “”It Is Well. The album is available at Amazon.com.

Unclazzified – Unclazzified

unclazzifiedUnclazzified is a project created by Allen Paul and Gerald Kebreau, designed to lift the standards of soul and pop to the same level as classic jazz. Their sound is uniquely lyrical, free, and engaging to both the casual music fan and the hard-core jazz enthusiasts. Drummer Jason Kent provides the groove as Allen, pianist , and Gerald, bassist, interweave their creative thoughts through original instrumental tunes.

This EP is available at CDBaby.

Jazz Funk Soul – Jazz Funk Soul

Three heavyweights of contemporary jazz joined to form the supergroup Jazz Funk Soul, keyboardist Jeff Lorber, guitarist Chuck Loeb and sax player Everette Harp. Chuck Loeb has an affinity for collaborations such as Metro and Fourplay. He comments this new formation꞉ “Making this album seemed like a natural extension of the fun and high level of creativity that was taking place on stage each night.” We will see concerts of this group in September, 2014.

On selected tracks the group is joined by Gary Nowak, Lionel Cordew and Brian Dunne (drums), Dave Mann (horns), Lenny Castro (percussion), James Genus and John Patitucci (bass), A. Ray Fuller (rhythm guitar), Till Brönner (trumpet), and Mark Hollingsworth (flutes).

The album starts with Speed Of Light designed by Jeff Lorber to bring the skills of the trio in the foreground. Jeff Lorber gives his Rhodes a lead, while Harp adds the alto sax accentuated horn segment, finally Choeb decorates it with quick chords in the style of Benson. If it ain’t got that swing, it don’t mean a thing. That’s the simple reason, why Chuck serves Swingette. A piece with that jazzy extra꞉ Combine that heart swinging groove with a sophisticated harmonic palette (Loeb).

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Paul Brown – Truth B Told

TruthBToldTruth B Told is the brand new funky set from guitarist and double Grammy winner, Paul Brown. Truth B Told is a bold new record that pushes the envelope forward as contemporary jazz continues to evolve with the times, but is still unmistakably Paul Brown, the man with the Midas touch who has earned over 60 # 1 hits as an artist and producer.

The guest artist roster for the album reads like a virtual Who’s Who in music, and includes guitarist Larry Carlton, saxophonists Dave Koz, Richard Elliot, Euge Groove and Darren Rahn, amazing flute from Najee, B3 organ master – the other Paul Brown (Memphis), vocalist Wendy Moten, the Greg Adams horns, and two tracks with legendary drummer Ricky Lawson.

Release Date: 07/29/14

Track Listing
1. Sunrise On Sunset
2. Truth B Told
3. Take It From Me
4. Love N Trust
5. Casablanca
6. Home Sweet Home
7. Stay Sly
8. Till the Mornin’ Comes
9. Avalon Nights
10. Purple Shoes

Richard Elliot – Lip Service

lip serviceRichard Elliot closes with Lip Service, the circle as a representative of the ruling Smooth Jazz and thus cementes his role as one of the great contemporary saxophonists. During the summer Horns Tour 2013 with Dave Koz, Mindi Abair and Gerald Albright he had the opportunity to re-seize his roots as one of the founding members of Tower of Power by performing So Very Hard To Go and working again with arranger Greg Adams.

This led to Greg Adams’ package for the GRAMMY-nominated Earth, Wind & Fire song Shining Star, which is included on Lip Service. This title will be released on July 15, 2014.

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Catherine Grace – Marshmallow Man

Some people assert that Jazz is an “out-of-date model”, because there wouldn’t be enough young talented musicians, who engage themselves in that musical genre.

Australian Saxophonist and singer Catherine Grace is the best proof that this is not true. She started her young career, as so many others, playing on weddings, in cafes and restaurants.

She has already won competitions including the 2013 Sing For your Supper and 2013 Starquest. Having a huge repertoire from Jazz to Pop, she now presents her first professionally produced collection of five tracks on iTunes, which already shows the outstanding talent of this young lady.

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Artur Bayramgalin – Perfect Day

Multi instrumentalist Artur Bayramgalin is rather unknown in the American smooth jazz scene. It isn’t up to the music, his performance and style is brilliant. His debut album Interro Island came out in 2009, his sophomore album Electric Breezz followed in 2010. Perhaps something changes with his third album Perfect Day (2014).

I was somewhat surprised, because I did not receive a CD but an album in MP3 format. Anyway, the music is excellent and somehow it comes to the listener. Hopefully on a legal way. But this is another story.

Chris Peak writes in the Huff Post “Most bands will now give their music away for free in the hope that you’ll like them enough to see them live.” With Ufa in Russia as hometown and as an independent artist it is difficult for Artur to tour in USA in support of his own music. Furthermore with no liner notes inside it’s impossible to give the reader additional information.

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Paul Hardcastle – The Jazzmasters VII

TheJazzmasters7aWell into his third decade crafting signature songs of our time churning out chart topping mega-hits with ease, Paul Hardcastle adds another branch to his musical tree, one that is again bearing delicious fruit.

VII, while it carries all of the hallmarks that have come to define his unique style and sound, takes a decidedly different approach, with the focus on serving up compelling sonic
instrumental soundscapes and less about vocals. This is Hardcastle’s wheelhouse and nobody does it better. For those who use music as an escape from the day to day, these sides are the perfect transporting device, rich soulful atmospherics that lift you through space and time and carry you away to destinations of your choosing.

Urban substructures layered with sexy yet subtle grooves, punctuated with perfectly placed notes and vibrations create the perfect flow of ambience as you depart on this soothing musical journey, a one way ticket to pure pleasure. This is pure ear candy that will provide that rush of sweetness yet is high in nutritional content, satisfying and full flavored.

The lead radio single ‘Unlimited Love’ a tip of the hat to one of Paul’s biggest influences Barry White adds another first and features label mate and one of the genres brightest rising stars trumpeter Cindy Bradley. Daughter Maxine and son Paul Hardcastle Jr again make appearances on the record providing just the right accents in all the right places.

Pull up under the Hardcastle tree, pick a side and savor the fruits of this fabulous labor. Grab this album at Amazon.com.

Jas Miller – That’s Just Fan Funking Tastic, Vol. One

jasmiller16Smooth, grooving and new contemporary jazz from one of the genre’s most fun and funking recording artists. Jas’ excellent composition, production & guitar work are featured throughout this new exciting release, along with many stellar guest performers.

Promoted at Facebook, now available at CDBaby.

Michael Manson – Thumpin’

When you attend a concert of Kirk Whalum, Brian Culbertson, or Oletta Adams, you have a good chance to see bass player Michael Manson in action. He was also a side man of late keyboard legend George Duke. The elemental force of this bass player comes to explosion, when he takes the lead.

This moments are captured on his new double feature live album, which was recorded Thursday, October 28, 2010 at Mayne Stage, 1328 Morse Ave., Chicago, IL. Supported by a great crew of professional musicians, which are listed in the liner notes of this album, this was a festivity of Manson’s live work.

The first CD starts with Comin’ Right at Ya from his albums Just Feelin’ It (2005) and Up Front (2008). After a glorious bombastic intro filled with a horn arrangement by Steve Berry (trombone), Chris Greene (sax), Sam Hankins (trumpet) and Marqueal Jordan (sax) Mike performs the main theme on bass. A wonderful tune on the border line of smooth jazz and funk. On this expanded version Mike has enough space to show his solo qualities.

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