Archive for July, 2015

Clay Benjamin – Just for You

Just for YouClay Benjamin spent most of his childhood listening solely to the sounds of gospel quartets – framed by the talents of Gospel Keynotes, Mighty Clouds of Joy, and his own father. But it was at age 16 that a clear-cassette-tape-wielding friend from Memphis “blew his mind”. The band was The Yellow Jackets, and their effect on the young musician was undeniable. His sound, driven by a contemporary rhythmic funk, still carries flavors of his Memphis roots and gospel upbringing.

Benjamin’s first solo jazz instrumental project is his 2011 album Intervention, available on iTunes, Amazon and most music web stores. You can buy his new album Just For You at Amazon.com.

Zolbert – One

Smooth Jazz is spreading worldwide, including in Europe. Coming from Hungary young saxophonist Zolbert presents his debut album One (2015). He calls as his idols and inspirations Grover Washington, Jr., David Sanborn, Everette Harp, Dave Koz, Gerald Albright and Brian Culbertson.

With the Grover Washington, Jr. Memorial Band he is playing regularly in Budapest and also in Switzerland. Supported by 90.9 Jazzy, Budapest’s leading jazz station he soon earned a contract with Tom-Tom Records, one of Hungary’s best-known independent labels.

Zolbert is joined on the recordings by a major league of Hungarian musicians listed below. With Smile Zolbert launches his charm offensive. Melody, rhythm and arrangement are oriented to the fashionable conventions of the genre. Frappé is French and comes from the verb frapper which means to hit. The shaking and mixing is presented by keyboard sound and forms the basis for a refreshing music.

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Maria Schneider Orchestra – The Thompson Fields

If you take a jazz big band and ease back off the throttle, then have a symphony orchestra that plays modern music, combine the two, you might get an idea of the Maria Schneider Orchestra. Schneider’s The Thompson Fields (2015) is the first recording she’s done with this ensemble in eight years.

A Grammy-winning composer, Schnieder has worked with many of the musicians for more than 25 years. With Schneider as conductor, the musicians are Steve Wilson, alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet, flute and alto flute; Dave Pietro, alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet, flute, alto flute, bass flute and piccolo; Rich Perry, tenor sax; Donny McCaslin, tenor sax, clarinet and flute; Scott Robinson, baritone sax, bass clarinet, alto clarinet and clarinet; the quartet of Tony Kadleck, Greg Gisbert, Augie Haas and Mike Rodriguez, trumpets and flugelhorns; Keith O’Quinn, Ryan Keberle and Marshall Gilkes, trombones; George Flynn, bass trombone; Gary Versace, accordion; Lage Lund, guitar; Frank Kimbrough, piano; Jay Anderson, bass; Clarence Penn, drums; and Rogerio Boccato, percussion on “Lembranca.”

“The Monarch and the Milkweed” was inspired both by the monarch butterfly and the scenic beauty of the prairie in Minnesota. The track features solos by Gilkes and Gisbert. It’s a tranquil, majestic piece.

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Al Turner – Simply Amazing

Simply AmazingBass Guitar Impresario, Al Turner, affectionately called “The Burner” returns with his latest record Simply Amazing, his forth album in 10 years. Simply Amazing finds the gifted producer, expanding his iconic style. Produced by Al Turner, along with Co-Producers Barry Eastmond, Dana Davis and Dave Isaac, Simply Amazing is the latest addition to Al’s diverse catalog. A strikingly balanced record, the album finds Al skillfully blending Jazz, Funk and R&B, making an eclectic melodic statement.

The album opens up with the track “Upright”, a collaborative groove that sets the stage for the rest of the record. The album features all-star collaborations with the likes of Earl Klugh, Barry Eastmond, Ray Parker, Jr., Marlon McClain, Paul Jackson, Jr., Greg Moore, Randy Bowland, Brett Farkas, Darnell Taylor, Eric Marienthal, Tom Braxton, Dave McMurray, Marcus Anderson, Darryl Wakefield, Mark Mitchell, Leroy Hyter, Charles Scales, Dana Davis, LaShawn Gary, Monty Q. Pollard, Jordache Grant, Al Duncan, Ron Otis, Calvin Napper, Marlon Curry, Rayse Biggs and Gino Castillo.

Turner is certainly no stranger to the industry and many artists. A bassist since age 12, Turner has played with some of the brightest luminaries in the business. Al is currently the Musical Director for Kem as well as Jazz great, Earl Klugh, and has performed with some of the top names in the music industry. You can hear his cleverly and meticulous bass lines on recordings by Kem, Aretha Franklin, Oleta Adams, Anita Baker, Nancy Wilson, Randy Crawford, Gladys Knight, Bob James, Earl Klugh, Ron Isley and Patti LaBelle to name a few. Driven by artistic mastery, Al Turner “The Burner” is an A-List side man and has performed hundreds of live shows nationally and internationally and continues to amaze and thrill audiences who will undoubtedly find themselves grooving to “Simply Amazing”.

A good reason to buy his album at CDBaby.

Kenyon Carter – Game On

GameOnA pivotal album inspired by a pivotal, life-changing experience, Game On is the apropos title of Kenyon Carter’s (www.KenyonCarter.com) forthcoming album, a ten-song set of originals that the saxophonist wrote and produced in this “Go for it!” moment in his career. Due August 14, his third disc knocks it out of the park with an MVP assist from guitar great Chuck Loeb (Fourplay), a contemporary jazz heavyweight who trades ferocious licks with Carter’s spirited tenor horn. There’s a sense of urgency to the cut that can be directly attributed to an incident in Carter’s not too distant past that informs everything the Atlanta-based artist does in life and career.

Carter’s arm was mangled in a car crash resulting in severe radial nerve damage. Doctors didn’t know if the appendage would ever function normally again thus putting the musician’s career choice in peril. Undeterred, Carter utilized a specially-designed therapy glove, spending countless hours daily for eight months trying to relearn how to play sax. Since he couldn’t perform at the time, he taught others to play and in time, with hard work, full use of the arm returned. Realizing how close he was to losing his dream, Carter recommitted himself towards achieving his career goals in music.

Earlier albums introduced Carter to the masses, charted and collected national airplay. The third album seemed like a milestone thus Carter focused on elevating his game feeling like the time to breakthrough in a big way is now. Hitting full stride artistically, he ably demonstrates his proficiency as a player on tenor, soprano and baritone sax while constructing layers of rhythmic grooves that buttress sweet melodies and lush harmonies. Whether serenely serenading, dexterously exploring the outer limits on a meandering run or uncorking fiery wails as if his life depended upon it, Carter’s saxplay serves in the best interest of the ensnaring melodies and gripping rhythms without overstepping or over dramatizing. Continue reading

Najee – You, Me and Forever

Saxophonist Najee is one of the greats of his genre. On the competitive music market, this means a constant struggle for the favor of music buyers. Due to his high profile, the interest in his music is consistently great.

Accordingly costly and involving a huge variety of musicians were these recordings. You, Me, and Forever is Najee’s 16th studio-album and third release on Shanachie Entertainment.

On the starting Air Najee unfolds pure magic with the flute. Everything is directed forward and to full speed. Rod Bonner on piano, Kenny Hawkins’ guitar staccato, Daniel Powell on fast paced drums, there is no time to wind down.

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Deborah Latz – sur l’instant

That’s been done before, so let’s try a different approach. One can imagine vocalist Deborah Latz having that thought on her mind as she culled material for sur l’instant (June Moon Productions, 2015).

The set was recorded in Paris with French musicians Alain Jean-Marie, piano; and Gilles Naturel, bass. There are a few standards among the nine songs, but mostly, Latz took songs that are often overlooked by singers.

Latz delivers an earthy rendition of “Weep No More.” The music was composed by Dave Brubeck, with lyrics by his wife, Iola Brubeck. Latz sings in a conversational style, with some lines delivered more like rhythmic dialogue, peppered with inflections for emphasis. The crooning is saved for the chorus.

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Ron Johnson – Back Again

Back AgainRon Johnson‘s third album entitled Back Again will take you on an musical journey of old and new favorites with his electrifying stylistic guitar flavor from the time you press play. Sure to become part of your next favorite play-list.

Back Again now at CDBaby.

Zolbert – One

OneWith his seductive, youthful blend of contemporary jazz and funk, saxophonist Zolbert is one of the most promising young talents on the Hungarian music scene. He began playing the saxophone in his mid-teens, partly owing to such influences as Grover Washington, Jr., David Sanborn and Everette Harp. Aptly titled One and recorded exclusively with live instruments, Zolbert’s debut album features eleven original compositions, serving up a refreshing mix of great melodies and tasteful grooves that will surely please fans of contemporary jazz who seek new musical vibes and discoveries.

One is available at CDBaby.

Robert Christa – Nightflight To Rio

NightflightToRioBorn in Dillingen / Donau 1961 pianist and composer Robert Christa goes own musical paths. Since his youth, he is on the search for true beauty in music and waived it at times also on old patterns. This applies equally to his compositions as well as his solo piano which he stepped up lately. So a signature style evolved throughout his mostly self-taught musical creation.

Music that can be classified roughly between jazz and classical music. Where he uses neither the rigid structures of jazz nor classical. Robert Christa it understands Soulful “bring over” during his performances both simple and complex harmony and melodic structures. “And I like to improvise for life. This creates my musical freedom. I then let me again even surprise what comes here, “said Christa.

In addition to the solo game Robert Christa has also written a number of titles in the Smooth Jazz range and compositions for piano and cello, all of which are available on CD. His newest project is Nightflight To Rio, available at Amazon.com.