Archive for July, 2015

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet – Intercambio

As if he knew the day would come when the United States would normalize relations with Cuba, six-time Grammy nominee Wayne Wallace celebrates the deepening cultural connection between the two nations. Intercambio (Patois Records, 2015) brings the Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet together with several additional players.

Wallace is a composer, producer, arranger, trombonist and head of the Patois label. The rest of the quintet are David Belove, bass; Colin Douglas, trap drums, timbales and percussion; Murray Low, piano; and Michael Spiro, congas, bongo, percussion and arrangements. Guest artists who appear here and there are Mary Fetig, flute; Mads Tolling, Jenna Barghouti and Joy Vucekovich, violin; Benjamin Wagner, viola; Graham Cullen, cello; Joe Galvin, steel drum and percussion; Dan Coffman, Brennan Johns and Sean Weber, trombone; and Edgardo Cambon, Jesus Diaz and John Santos, vocals.

“Casa Del Sol” opens the set. With Fetig and Tolling adding some depth, it’s a stylish mambo piece, dedicated to Eddie Palmieri. As described in the liner notes, the music reflects Palmieri’s love for the cross-cultural effects of Cuban music with McCoy Tyner, Thelonious Monk and jazz. The rhythm section is a centerpiece throughout, but Tolling and Wallace get moments to stretch out a bit.

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Eric Marienthal & Chuck Loeb – Bridges

BridgesBridges is the sublime collaboration of 2 of the most renowned instrumentalists in Jazz! Between them, saxophonist Eric Marienthal and guitarist Chuck Loeb have either written, produced, or performed on more than 50 Top 10 Smooth Jazz radio singles. Both have thrilled audiences around the world for more than 20 years as solo artists and featured artists in various groups: Marienthal with the likes of Chick Corea, The Rippingtons, Keiko Matsui, and Jeff Lorber and Loeb as co-leader of Fourplay and Jazz Funk Soul.

Bridges represents these Smooth Jazz icons at their best, but it is more than just a Smooth Jazz album. As the title suggests, these Soundscapes bridge the gap between the commercial world of Smooth Jazz, the tranquility of New Age music, and the more artistic explorations that are at the heart of the true Jazz experience! Highlights of the 10 Marienthal/Loeb originals include “Crossings”, the haunting ballad and first single, the soulful and bluesy “Duality”, the romantic “Noir” and much more!

Pre-order this album now at

Oscar Walker – Music in the Key of O

Music in the Key of OOscar “Big O” Walker is a studio owner/engineer, producer, song writer and professional bassist who loves music. So check out what he does best. Music in the Key of O is a complete mix of Smooth Jazz, Gospel, R&B, Neo Soul, and Rap all in one package.

This album is on sale at CDBaby.

Kenyon Carter – Game On

Saxophonist Kenyon Carter is influenced by Grover Washington Jr., Gerald Albright, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley. He released his debut album Right By My Side in 2011, followed by Songs for My Father (2014) and in August, 2015 by his third album Game On.

Kenyon is joined on his new project by Billy Wilkie (guitar), Tyrone Jackson (keyboards), Tim Aucoin (bass), John David (drums), Brent Whiten (trumpet) and Richard Sherrington (trombone).

The album begins with the title song quasi as evidence of perfect mastery on the instrument. With Chuck Loeb on guitar as accompaniment he attains a powerful, precise, faster, more varied and at the same time considerably more relaxed way of playing.

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Jeff Lorber and Chuck Loeb – Bop

It’s an all-star cast, although it falls under the heading of two leaders: Jeff Lorber and Chuck Loeb. Bop (2015) is the junction of vintage jazz, a popular festival and charity.

The core group consists of Lorber, Rhodes; Loeb, guitar; Everette Harp, tenor saxophone; Harvey Mason, drums; Brian Bromberg, bass; Rick Braun, trumpet and flugelhorn; and Till Broenner, trumpet. Special guests appear on selected tracks.

The ensemble goes for the jugular on the opening track, a thrilling arrangement of Thelonius Monk’s “Straight No Chaser.” After the horns bring us into the mood of the piece, Loeb takes off on a jaunt worthy of Wes Montgomery. Braun and Bronner take their turns and engage in a brief call-and-response sequence, followed by Lorber. The track ends with Braun’s signature throaty wail.

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Lebron – New Era

New EraThe genre of contemporary jazz has taken many forms over the years, but its loyal fans have always stayed true to its roots. Lebron is one of those fans. It’s only appropriate then that his style as an artist showcases the facets of smooth jazz that listeners love. Lebron was born into a family of musical talent, including his father who played the saxophone professionally as a way to pay for college. In other words, it’s in his blood. Not to mention his saxophone influences, including Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, Everette Harp, Grover Washington Jr, and Nelson Rangell. To date, he has shared the stage with many of musics modern icons, including Kirk Whalum, George Benson, and Grammy winning bass player Mel Brown.

Lebron’s debut record, Shades” certainly took the world by storm. In a sea of sax players, it stood out as one of the top releases of the year, yielding 3 top 10 Billboard radio singles. “Groove City” peaked in the top 3, and was named in the top 20 Contemporary Jazz songs of the year by Billboard Magazine. But Lebron is not content to stop there. On the contrary, he’s just getting started. His much anticipated sophomore album, New Era, is sure to highlight his growth as an artist and as a player. “I wanted this record to really showcase my sound, my vibe”, he explains. “I think this one just sounds more like ME, and MY voice.” It features 10 all original tracks, from sultry ballads to infectious body moving grooves. Be sure to get your copy, because Contemporary Jazz isn’t going anywhere. And neither is Lebron.

Buy the new album at

Lee Ritenour – A Twist of Rit

atwistofrit05GRAMMY-winning, guitarist Lee Ritenour, AKA Captain Fingers, has a wide-ranging array of material to revive, as evidenced by A Twist of Rit. 2015 commemorates 40 years since his debut recording, First Course, on Epic Records. A Twist of Rit, set for release on August 21, 2015 via Concord Records, is a magnificent follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2012 album Rhythm Sessions.

A Twist of Rit spotlights Ritenour with several long-time musical cohorts, including keyboardists John Beasley, Dave Grusin and Patrice Rushen; saxophonist Ernie Watts; bassists Melvin Lee Davis, Tom Kennedy and Dave Weckl; and percussionist Paulinho Da Costa. That core group is augmented by drummers Ronald Bruner Jr. and Chris Coleman, along with Bob Sheppard on saxophone and Rashawn Ross playing flugelhorn. Joining Ritenour for the first time are guitarists Michael Thompson, Wah Wah Watson and David T. Walker, plus Japanese pianist Makoto Ozone.

A Twist of Rit features Ritenour’s soaring guitar lines with 12 of his compositions ranging from the funky fusion and sophisticated jazz that he has become so well known for. All of the material was captured by his longtime GRAMMY Award-winning engineer Don Murray and the tracks were recorded with everyone performing together, old-school, but with modern, state-of-the-art recording techniques. Another album highlight will be the debut of Hungarian guitarist Tony Pusztai, Grand Prize Winner of Ritenour’s biennial, 2014 Six String Theory Competition. Pusztai was selected from over 500 entries and 72 participating countries. Continue reading

Robert Christa – Nightflight To Rio

German pianist Robert Christa has several irons in the fire. Jazz, smooth jazz, fusion, classic. Nothing is unknown to him, everything familiar. In the smooth jazz genre he worked with musicians such as Wolfgang Lackerschmid, Ronnel Bey, Tom Bradley, George Ballis and many others.

His debut album in this genre Nightflight To Rio is available since June 9, 2015. Robert plays on this album Rhodes, synth and programming. He is supported by vocalists Racquel Roberts, Ralph Damrath, Lipa Majstrovic, Nadine Krämer, Rainer Braun, Susan Stolle, Carreaux, guitarist Tom Reif, saxophonist Robert Friedl, cellist Lioba Bruns, bassist Bernd Everding and further musicians.

With Praise Robert delivers his first masterpiece introducing the impressing vocalist Racquel Roberts, who enchants with her wonderful timbre. Originally a musical singer she is currently residing in Los Angeles. Morning Sun features a relaxed mood with Robert Friedl on saxophone taking the lead.

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John Yao – Flip-Flop

Rather than call it a big band or orchestra, trombonist John Yao calls his ensemble his 17-piece instrument. This configuration’s first recording, Flip-Flop (See Tao Records, 2015) is indeed a big band release.

The 17 pieces are Yao, a five-piece saxophone section, four-piece trumpet and flugelhorn section, four-piece trombone section and three-piece rhythm section. The saxes are John O’Gallagher, alto, soprano and flute; Alejandro Aviles, alto and flute; Rich Perry, tenor; Jon Irabagon, tenor and clarinet; and Frank Basile, baritone and bass clarinet. The trumpets and flugels are John Walsh, Jason Wiseman, David Smith and Andy Gravish. The trombones are Luis Bonilla, Matt McDonald, Kajiwara Tokunori and Jennifer Wharton. And the rhythm players are Jesse Stacken, Bob Sabin and Vince Cherico.

The title song gets the action going from the first beat. It’s all in, with the horns and rhythm section, each providing high-energy thrills. A brief piano phrases interjects, then the full band goes full throttle. Eventually, there’s a gear shift for Perry to take point. He builds, signaling the other musicians to come back in, then hands it over to O’Gallagher. The alto screams at times, comparable to one of Kenny Garrett’s stretching out moments. Things become frantic when multiple saxes join in, overlapping one another. The song downshifts to something more placid, with one of the saxes accompanied only by piano, bass and drums. But that only lasts so long as the intensity builds again, and the other horns get involved. The bass gets a moment in the spotlight before the stellar finale.

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Undercover Jazz – Stating the Obvious

Stating the ObviousUndercover Jazz is a contemporary smooth jazz collective featuring Tony Testa (drums), Erik Mowery (keyboards) and Scott Marvill (guitar and bass). In a recent interview they stated that “it’s all about the music and allowing it to follow it’s natural course”. Mixing jazz with soul, funk and fusion, the North Carolina based trio of studio musicians create a unique but ear-friendly sound that is joined by some of the best contemporary jazz musicians of the day.

Although the “band” was born as a studio project, the trio is very comfortable on stage with the help of dynamic contemporary jazz players who are world class session musicians and performers in their own right. Jeff Lorber, Andy Snitzer and Chuck Loeb are supporting this project.

Marvill, a multi-instrumentalist who plays keyboards, guitar and bass, fronts the band on their live performances. Marvill states “there are no self-imposed limits within the band. Our arrangements and performances are impacted by dynamic changes and influences from all styles of jazz. In fact, what we hear most is the enjoyment of these influences we apply in our songs. Our music has been labeled “Smoozion” . Get the EP at CDBaby.