Archive for March, 2015

Jeff Golub – The Vault

The VaultOn New Year’s Day 2015, the music world mourned the death of Jeff Golub. After suffering the loss of his eyesight 3 years earlier, Jeff was diagnosed with PSP, a rare brain disease which rapidly debilitated his entire body and ultimately robbed him of the ability to play guitar. Knowing that Jeff’s playing days were over, three of his closest friends and musical collaborators, Steven Miller, Rick Braun and Bud Harner dug deep into the Golub vault and uncovered some rare gems – radically different versions of some of Jeff’s early tunes along with 2 songs that were never released.

From there, Jeff handpicked a number of musical friends to add to the recordings and give each song a modern twist and unique flavor. The Vault was completed just days before Jeff’s death and provides a passionate and soulful overview of one of the music community’s most beloved figures.

The Vault has become an All Star Tribute to the genius that was Jeff Golub. The guests represent the very top echelon of the Smooth Jazz music community. Included in the collection of unreleased music are such stars as: Dave Koz, Mindi Abair, Kirk Whalum, Rick Braun, Philippe Saisse, Boney James, Brian Culbertson, Jeff Lorber, Bill Evans, Gerald Albright, Peter White, Richard Elliot and Steve Ferrone. Pre-order this memorable CD at Amazon.com.

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Sax O’Groove – Together

German publisher and saxophonist Andreas Buechel entered the musical stage 2013 with the album Sax O’Groove. Sax O’Groove was a cooperation of Andreas Buechel and John Odio. His sophomore project Together (2015) is beyond the scope of the first work and exceptionally well in the smooth jazz genre with a huge number of musicians involved.

All songs were recorded, mixed and produced by Andreas Büchel, Nils Jiptner, Paul Weimar, Darren Rahn and John Odio in studios in Arnsberg (Germany), Heredia (Costa Rica), Los Angeles, Chicago and Playa Del Rey. Truly international, as it is only possible in the Internet age.

The album starts the journey with the uplifting Together, that knows to convince with a sophisticated horn arrangement decorated with professional saxophone interludes. The heartfelt ballade Love You More is crowned by a solo of famous trumpeter Rick Braun. Also remarkable the keyboard support of studio musician Hans Zermuehlen.

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John Petruccelli Quintet – The Way

Sometimes, it’s good to just play. Forget theme. Forget format. Just pick a song, or write a new one, and play your heart out. That appears to be approach of the John Petruccelli Quintet with The Way (2015), a two-disc set.

Petrucelli plays tenor saxophone. The rest of the ensemble are Peter Park, guitar; Victor Gould, piano; Alex Claffy, bass; and Gusten Rudolph, drums. Drummer Victor Lewis appears on three tracks.

“Prism,” one of eight originals among the 11 tracks, is a mellow, moderate-tempo piece. The opening sequence is highlighted by some cool, guitar/sax banter and a series of tightly choreographed, stop-time phrases. The bass and drums are deeply engaged when the guitar is out front, and the piano comes forward a bit more during the sax lead. As Petrucelli heats up, he makes the tenor grind and wail during key passages.

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Boney James – Futuresoul

Futuresoul

Four-time GRAMMY nominee and multi-platinum selling sax-man Boney James continues his artistic evolution with the dynamic futuresoul. Fusing his love for vintage soul music with his mastery of modern production, Boney has created another genre-bending work following on the heels of his 2014 GRAMMY-nominated album The Beat.

“The forms I’m working with are rooted in my early influences,” says James, dropping names like King Curtis, the Stylistics and Earth, Wind & Fire. “But recently I’ve been listening to contemporary artists like Tinashé, Sam Smith and Ellie Goulding, and I’m inspired by the sound of their recordings. The production is so cool and evocative. As I started the new record, I was in my backyard studio messing around with this “gearhead” stuff I’ve collected. Ideas started flowing and it sounded like modern soul music to me. I thought to myself, ‘What is this?’… And then it hit me: ‘futuresoul.’”

His 15th CD, futuresoul contains 10 original songs produced and written or co-written by James. Released by Concord Records May 4, 2015, futuresoul features vocalist and Mint Condition frontman Stokley on “Either Way,” a collaboration enabled by Twitter. Says James, “Like my recent duet with Raheem DeVaughn, I was able to meet Stokley on Twitter and send him the music for this track. He wrote the brilliant lyric and sent me a finished vocal all via email!” Continue reading

Blake Aaron – Soul Stories

SoulStoriesGuitarist Blake Aaron utilized an unconventional approach when constructing his fifth album, Soul Stories, which will be released May 5 by Innervision Records. To maintain his presence on radio and in the marketplace while juggling a busy schedule as a first-call session player, featured sideman and in-demand producer, he issued a variety of singles with three cuts – the retro funk-disco energizer “Groove-O-Matic,” the urbane romantic duet with jazz crooner Spencer Day entitled “You’re the One for Me” and the salsa-singed “Encantadora” featuring Najee on flute – entering the Billboard Top 10. The ten-track “Soul Stories,” Aaron’s first collection that is entirely self-produced, contains eight original tunes authored by the artist.

Saluting one of his hallmark influences, Aaron embodies seminal jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery on the aptly-titled “Wes Side Story,” an evocative selection that will be serviced to radio stations for playlist adds beginning April 6.

Weaving engaging narratives told through a triad of guitar voices, Aaron’s Soul Stories unfolds amidst a varied backdrop of contemporary jazz, R&B, Latin and funk settings. He approaches his compositions as a storyteller and elects to feature a different guitar – cool jazz electric, gentle acoustic or emotional nylon string – as the protagonist of each musical vignette. Often Aaron provides a counterpoint by waging an expressive discourse using interpretive play between multiple guitars on the same song. Whether emoting on brisk radio-friendly jaunts or taking his time to elaborate on expansive improvised jams, Aaron’s inspired fret work is crisp, clear, lyrical and skillfully performed with passion and precision. Continue reading

James Lloyd – Here We Go!

No, it’s not the 21st album of Pieces Of A Dream. Here We Go! is keyboardist James Lloyd‘s first solo album released on 17th March 2015. And no, it’s not James’ departure from POAD. James comments꞉ “Recording my first solo album is something I wanted to complete while I’m still here.” Already in 2011 he declared꞉ “These days it’s like I’ve got so much music inside me. It’s too much to solely put on Pieces of a Dream albums. I’d probably pass away before I got them all on there, unless we put out an album every other month, or I could take these songs and spread them around to other artist.”

Four years later he can fulfill his dream and presents his first album as a solo artist. With Here We Go James Lloyd selects a lively start in the unchanged style we already know of him from his many years playing as keyboardist of POAD. Moving Right Along inspires with his groove and sophisticated rhythm background in the style of 80’s funk. Sax player Najee breathes into the whole even greater vigor.

When scat singing and smooth jazz come together, the result is a cheerful mood like on Play It Forward. Granted Wish chooses a hip hop beat, but leaves it with a soulful groove. James enchants with his silky touch of ivories. No Holds Barred means free from the usual limits or rules. In his duet with James saxophonist Gerald Albright takes it literally and lets it rip.

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Colette Michaan – Incarnate Encarna

How about a change of pace? Enter Colette Michaan. In a genre dominated by pianos, saxophones and guitars, it’s refreshing to hear a flutist as leader. Michaan presents Incarnate Encarna (2014).

The ensemble consists of Michaan, flute, alto flute and vocals; Pablo Vergara, piano and keyboards; Reut Regev, trombone; Mireya Ramos, violin and vocals; Gregoire Maret, chromatic harmonica; Jorge Bringas, bass; Roman Diaz, bata drums, congas, bongo, shekere and vocals; Luisito Quintero, timbales, drums, wind chimes and other percussion instruments; Yusnier Sanchez Bustamante, cajon, congas, quinto and vocals; and Harvey Wright, drums.

The title song opens the set. It’s a haunting piece with a subtle, Latin vibe. The main theme is a blending of flute, violin and trombone with plenty of support from the other instruments. Michaan stretches out in free flight. A hint of the main theme highlights the end of her solo. Maret is also featured. The pace and overall vibe can serve multiple purposes: background for a scenic drive, a score for a dramatic movie scene, or a romantic experience.

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