Archive for May, 2015

Jessy J – My One And Only One

Jessy J’s solo albums Tequila Moon (2008), True Love (2009), Hot Sauce (2011) and Second Chances (2013) mark her constant way to fame and popularity in the smooth jazz community. Her fifth project is My One and Only One, scheduled for release May 26th, 2015.

Paul Brown, Gregg Karukas, Roberto Vally, Sergio Gonzalez, Richie Gajate, Michael Ripoll, Zoux, Oskar Cartaya, Ruslan Sirota, Alex Al, Taku, Michael Angel, Frank Abraham, Iajhi Hampden, Bryant Siono, Norman Jackson, Jay Gore, Lee Thornberg, Dave Hooper, Ronnie Gutierrez, Janis Leibhart & Dave Darlington are mentioned as supporting musicians on her website.

Jessy is toying gladly with her Mexican American ancestry. Many of her songs have a Latin American reference like the starting Una Mas. Capricious but warm on the skin like a soothing spring breeze soars the melody. The title track is more down to earth, so if she tried to retain My One and Only One.

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Chris McNulty – Eternal

The love a mother has for her son is the driving force behind Chris McNulty’s Eternal (Palmetto Records, 2015). Combining her charming voice with a chamber ensemble and a jazz trio, she honors Sam McNulty, who died in 2011.

Sam was a hip-hop artist and composer, whose artist name is Chap One.

The core trio is comprised of John DiMartino, piano; Ugonna Okegwo, bass; and Gregory Hutchinson, drums. Paul Bollenback, guitar; and Matthew Jodrell, flugelhorn, also contribute. Steve Newcomb provides orchestration, arrangements and conducts the chamber ensemble. The chamber players are Mazz Swift, Josh Henderson and Amanda Lo, violins; Trevor New, viola; Meaghan Burke and Marika Hughes, cello; Jodie Rottle, flute and alto flute; Ivan Barenboim, clarinet and bass clarinet; John Morgan-Bush, French horn; and Ben Wendel, bassoon.

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Paul Whitley – Come Groove With Me

Keyboardist and composer, multi-instrumentalist and music instructor. One can meet Paul Whitley in multiple roles. Jonathan Butler, Steve Cole, Joey Sommerville, Elan Trotman, Lin Rountree and Walter Beasley are among the many artists he performed with.

His debut album was Versatility (2011), a proof of competence. Now he is back with his sophomore album Come Groove With Me (2015). With the exception of Tis So Sweet Paul has recorded, written and produced all tracks on his new album.

Among the supporting musicians are Jonathan Fritzen, Elan Trotman, Marcus Anderson and a plethora of other high profiled players. In the tradition of George Duke Paul starts with a bombastic intro entitled Unorthodox (The Warmup).

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Gil Evans Project – Lines of Color

Big band with a twist. That’s the nature of the Gil Evans Project album, Lines of Color (Blue Note/Artist Share, 2015).

Conducted by Ryan Truesdell, the orchestra is comprised of woodwinds: Jesse Han, Jessica Aura Taskov, Steve Kenyon, Steve Wilson, Dave Pietro, Donny McCaslin, Scott Robinson, Brian Landrus, Tom Christensen and Alden Banta; French horns: Adam Unsworth and David Peel; trumpets: Augie Haas, Greg Gisbert and Mat Jodrell; trombones: Ryan Keberle and Marshall Gilkes; bass trombone: George Flynn; tuba: Marcus Rojas; guitar: James Chirillo; piano: Frank Kimbrough; bass: Jay Anderson; drums: Lewis Nash; voice: Wendy Gilles; and viola: Lois Martin.

“Time of the Barracudas” has a deceptive opening. Soft sounds, led by the flutes, it has a slight symphonic edge. The other horns come in, with Gilke taking lead. The mood shifts to a moderate, cheerful sound. Gradually, the piece picks up energy behind the throaty trombone. McCaslin follows on tenor, going through several mood changes as he takes the instrument to its depths, then brings is it back to mid-range with a few high notes sprinkled in. The pace shifts from up-tempo to easygoing to near frantic. The band goes silent while Nash gives the kit a brief workout, before the song reverts to its symphonic beginnings.

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Dave Panico – Tasty Treat

Tasty TreatThe album Tasty Treat is produced by Eric Copeland out of Nashville, TN. I met Eric at a music conference several years ago and found out he was a Christian Jazz producer so I ventured with him on this CD Tasty Treat. Tasty Treat Opens up with a song I wrote called “Break’N Free”. This is an upbeat/happy song performed on alto sax. Sometime life and circumstances bring hard attacks and I feel like I’m trapped and can’t get out. This song is about being able to break free and overcome these hardships. The next song is the Title track called “Tasty Treat” . This song is written by Eric Copeland. He provided the track and then I added the melody to it. This is a very nice cool smooth jazz song. It’s one to lay back on and enjoy. I perform soprano and tenor sax on this.

The 3rd song is a blues song called Soaring Sax Blues performed on alto sax. I tend to go by the name “the Soaring Saxman” so the title fits. This is a compilation between myself and eric Copeland. I wanted a blues tune on the album. I tend to hang out at the open jam blues clubs here in KC and I’ve had several compliments that I play some mean kick ass blues. So why not. This is a good ole fashioned blues tune. The 4th song is entitled “Pump’N” performed on alto sax. This is one I wrote and I ventured out on this one. I wanted a dance tune that people will get up and move to. The song Pump’N is a great tune for workouts and getting out on that dance floor. Eric did a nice job on the track.

The 5th song came from a guitar lick I sent Eric. I don’t play guitar but I was fooling around on it and came up with a lick. The song is called “Just Like That”. This is a compilation with Eric Copeland. This is a bit funky and has a cool vibe to it. When I think about how God created the world or how he moves amazingly in someone’s life, he can make it happen , Just Like That. This is performed on alto sax.
“The Search” is the 6th song on the Cd and is the first song I wrote for this CD. During the time I was writing this song, I felt like doors were closing on me on where I could perform/minister. Give this album a listen at CDBaby.

Rei Narita – The Color of Soundscape II

Japanese pianist and composer Rei Narita is one of the rare artists in Japan addicted to smooth jazz. He started to play the piano in the tender age of 15. He delivered the musical background for several NHK documentary programs, participated to compilations of King Records and further TV and movie productions.

His solo career began with the album The Color of Soundscape in 2011 and continues with his new album The Color of Soundscape II in 2015. His style is influenced by The Rippingtons, Brian Culbertson, Rachel Z and many more of the smooth jazz scene. As a self-made man he has programmed all instruments and tracks. All songs are composed, arranged, programmed, mixed and produced by Rei himself.

On the starting Run Through the Urban City Rei paints with fast and powerful keystrokes the dynamic picture of a modern town. Bass and drums are perfectly adapted to the magic piano performance. Tender Voices delivers a soft impression with the piano in the lead and keyboard as secondary melody transporter.

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Hailey Niswanger – PDX Soul

Hailey Niswanger was already getting rave reviews as a teenager. A listen to the saxophonist’s PDX Soul (2015) tells why.

Niswanger is accompanied by a variable lineup of players. Errick Lewis, and AG Donnaloia, guitar; appear on all tracks. Janice Scroggins handles keys on all but one song.

A groovy bass line greets the ear on the first track, “I’m Gone.” It’s an upbeat, see ya, I’m outta here kind of song. Niswanger plays the soprano on this one. Her lead is lighthearted, almost romantic, but not sugary sweet as a lot of soprano sax-led songs of this style tend to be. Lewis is dynamic throughout. Drummer Brian Foxworth makes a substantial contribution, though mainly as background. Donnaloia, Scroggins and Colligan also get busy. After a mostly easygoing, playful lead, Niswanger cuts loose big time. As if the proclamation of leaving weren’t convincing, she becomes emphatic, assertive during a sequence after the middle break. Then the two keyboard players take over, one out front and the other providing fills. It gives the song a late-1960s, early ’70s type of soulful instrumental sound. Not all the musicians get to solo here, but everyone makes a statement.

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Rudy Rodriguez – Aliento De Adoración (Pistas Originales)

Aliento De Adoración (Pistas Originales)Rudy Rodriguez is internationally renowned and has worked with every major Christian artist in Latin America. He traveled with Marcos Witt for 7 years full time, visiting over 15 different countries per year. He has performed with Randy Phillips (Philips, Craig and Dean), Darlene Zschech (Hillsong Music) and Ron Kenoly to name a few.

He is currently Pastor of Freedom Life Center in San Antonio, Texas. Rudy Rodriguez offers with Aliento De Adoración (Pistas Originales) relaxing instrumental music with musical arrangements. Give his CD a listen at CDBaby.

Flip Philipp & Renato Chicco – Face to Face

Face to FaceThe Hammond organ and the vibraphone are arguably the two warmest and most viscerally satisfying instruments ever played in a Jazz context (or any context, for that matter). It is disappointing, but perhaps not so surprising, that so little documentation exists of the two playing together. The Hammond and the vibes actually emit very similar tonal ranges, textures, and tamburs. While the mechanics of each instrument are completely different, at the heart of both lie devices if not of similar function, then at least of similar shape and concept: the rotating tone wheels that create the actual sound of the Hammond, and the rotating discs controlling the vibrato speed of the vibraphone.

Both can also be played dry (without vibrato – and just to be clear, the Hammond’s vibrato is not controlled by the tone wheels, but by various independent vibrato settings). But these related attributes make a successful duo performance an even greater challenge. As with piano and guitar – the two are chordal instruments with both accompaniment and solo capabilities. The tendency could easily be to overplay and crowd the music. But in this case, you have two extremely mature, sensitive and highly creative musicians whose collective wealth of musical knowledge and experience is successfully and delightfully brought to life here, within this unique and demanding setting.

Get your own impression of Face to Face at CDBaby.

Rocco Ventrella – Another Time

Bari resident Rocco Ventrella developed his affinity for smooth jazz in 1998. However it last to 2005, when he released his Tribute To Grover Washington, Jr. in memory of the late, great saxophone player. With his sophomore album Give Me The Groove (2007) he garnered a Grammy Awards Pre-Nomination for Contemporary Jazz Best Album. His third album Sweet Temptation followed in 2013.

Now well known as saxophonist by numerous appearances on hundreds of events Rocco shows with Another Time (2015) what is possible and that the hero is ready for the next achievement. With Greg Manning as producer Rocco has put his album in good hands. Among the plethora of participating musicians are good names like Andre Berry and Hussain Jiffry (bass), Michele Violante (rhythm guitar), Gordon Campbell and Eric Valentine (drums), Adam Hawley, Terry Wollman and Darrell Crooks (guitar), and many more.

The funky Swagger sets a high standard of pure entertainment with blasting horns. Dave Koz and Richard Elliot couldn’t do it better. She’s Ready delivers all ingredients for a successful tune with captivating melody, groove and dreamy harmonies. Rocco draws on the full of his experience.

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