Archive for November, 2016

Jeanette Harris – Chocolate Vibez

14721675_1069527996449587_8387786646693121393_nA big thank you goes to Jeanette Harris’ supportive parents. On their J&M Record label (Jeanette & Michael’s initials, Mom and Dad’s funds) all her abums are released.

After her graduation in Berklee she started her debut album Here and There, followed by Jeanette Harris Live at Platinum Live (2003), Reflections (2007), Saxified (2010), Smooth Holiday Greetings (2010) and Summer Rain (2013). Now she is back with Chocolate Vibez (2016).

Multi-instrumentalist Harris performs most of the instruments on her new album. Guest musicians are pianist Tim Watson, music programmer Andrew Dorsette, guitarist Ceddrick Dennis, bassist Patrick Olvera and her brother Michael.

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Fred Hersch – Sunday Night at the Vangaurd

In Sunday Night at the Vangaurd (Palmetto, 2016), pianist Fred Hersch finds himself mentioned alongside such greats as Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea and Henry Threadgill.

There’s a mindset that jazz is defined either by young artists creating something new, or veteran artists playing what they’ve played – the way they’ve played it – for decades. Hersch and the others defy that kind of thinking as they continue to create sounds that are fresh and invigorating.

Performing with Hersch are bassist John Hebert and drummer Eric McPherson.

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Ray Obiedo – Latin Jazz Project Vol. 1

latin-jazz-project-vol-1Ray Obiedo‘s Latin Jazz Project Vol. 1 on Rhythmus Records, is the 8th release by the Bay Area guitarist and composer. This project is a collection of Latin Jazz standards, including three of Obiedo’s original compositions. Obiedo enlisted some of the music industries top musicians and longtime co-horts for the project. Percussionist Sheila E., Yellowjackets’ reed man Bob Mintzer, flutists Elena Pinderhughes and Roger Glenn, trumpeter Ray Vega, timbale master Orestes Vilató, percussionist Peter Michael Escovedo and vocalist Sandy Cressman all make significant appearances. Santana members David K. Mathews, Karl Perazzo and Jeff Cressman also contribute their expertise.

This Latin Jazz collection also features sax and flute player Norbert Stachell, steel pan player. Phil Hawkins, pianist Peter Horvath, and brothers Marc and Paul van Wageningen on bass and drums.

Ray has 5 previous releases on the Windham Hill jazz label. This is his second release on his Oakland-based Rhythmus Records label. The music on Ray’s Latin jazz project is a highly-energized and hypnotically rhythmic soundscape revealing all the passion, flavor, color and style of the San Francisco Bay Area which conceived, nourished and inspired Obiedo’s latest musical venture.

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Jay Rowe – Smooth Ride

14650704_1031266940305686_5567652845957776174_nSmooth Ride is finally finished. This is Jay’s sixth CD and features Marion Meadows, Marc Antoine, Vincent Ingala, Rohn Lawrence, Jay Gore , Andy Abel, Dave Anderson, Trever Somerville, Dave Livolsi, Bill Holloman, Steve Scales and Ellie Nolan and Rachael Polansky.

You can order this album at

Brian Simpson – Persuasion

Hailing from Gurnee, Illinois keyboardist Brian Simpson took the smooth jazz scene by storm with his solo albums Closer Still (1995), It’s All Good (2005), Above The Clouds (2006), South Beach (2010), and Just What You Need (2013).

His new project Persuasion was released in November, 2016 on Shanachie Entertainment. Simpson is joined by a star-studded crew: Boney James, Steve Alaniz (sax), Peter White, Steve Oliver, Darrell Crooks, Kendall Gilder (guitar), Alex Al (bass), Ramon Yslas (percussion), and Omari Williams (drums).

The first track is entitled Persuasion and encompasses the critical power of Boney James, Alex Al and Ramon Yslas. Enough to convince every listener to buy this gorgeous piece of music. The first single of the album is however Wonderland, which Brian co-wrote with guitarist Steve Oliver. The song has a specific winter wonderland appeal with an expanding of sensitivity beyond the limits of audio perception.

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lhan Ersahin’s Istanbul Sessions – Istanbul Underground

There’s a tendency to categorize any instrumental music played by a small ensemble, that’s not chamber, as jazz. This can lead to confusion. Is it pop or R&B without lyrics? Is it jazz that’s meant to sound like pop or R&B? Is it something else? Those questions are presented in full force by Ilhan Ersahin’s Istanbul Sessions. Their third release, Istanbul Underground doesn’t bother trying to answer the question. The group delights in asking it as they play.

The ensemble consists of Ersahin on tenor saxophone; Alp Ersonmez, bass; Turgut Alp Bekoglu, drums; and Izzet Kizil, percussion. An uncredited electric guitar appears in some tracks, adding fills, a touch of funk or supplementing the other sounds. There also appears to be a keyboard adding some ethereal or space travel effects.

“Falling” begins with a low, brooding bass line with a percussive backdrop. The tenor comes in and warms things up a bit. The song shifts gears several times, from the moody vibe of the opening sequence, to something upbeat and rhythmic. A highlight is near the end, when Ersahin puts the tenor through a series of upper-register phrases, with an echo giving it an outer space feeling.

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Angelo Luster – Face 2 Face

face-2-faceSaxophonist Angelo Luster is a well demanded sideman performing on Appaloosa and Romancing The Bass by Tony Saunders, Street Therapy by Clever Jeff, Our Love Will Never End by Mark Harris or Tonality by Tone 7.

On his own label Native Sound Records he has released Face 2 Face: The Vocal Sessions, Sunday Mornin’ and this year Face 2 Face.

This album is on sale at

Richard Hernandez – Esperanza

esperanzaA tasteful blend of styles with soulful performances by guest artists. A beautiful ballad, a grooving samba and other contemporary jazzy type instrumentals that sound good by the pool or a road trip. Also, a little funk and vibey club influences sprinkled in. a nice addition to any instrumental collection. The tune Esperanza is also on the new album by Greg Manning Sugar & Spice.

This album is on sale at CDBaby.

Brian Culbertson – Funk!

Jazz/R&B musician Brian Culbertson is significantly successful in the area of smooth jazz. But he unfolds his primordial power when he pushes into the fields of Funk. With Bringing Back The Funk, released in 2008 on GRP Records, he reached number one on the Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz Albums Chart.

Why not double the success and transfer the atmosphere from stage to CD? Finally, the idea was translated into action. With Funk! follows his second album of this genre on his own label. The album is dedicated to Maurice White, the executive producer of his first Funk album and Prince, two legends who died too soon.

“It was really important for me to pay tribute to those guys who were huge influences on me,” says Culbertson. “Not only as a kid growing up but their impact on me while working with the both of them. Funk! is dedicated to their incomparable legacies.”

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Bob Holz – A Vision Forward

Drummer and percussionist Bob Holz has formed a new group, whose name inspires the title of their new release, A Vision Forward (MVD Records, 2016).

Holz is accompanied by a variable lineup comprised of the following: Larry Coryell, guitar; Mike Stern, guitar; Randy Brecker, trumpet; Ada Rovatti, sax on “A Vision Forward”; Billy Steinway, keyboards; Steve Weingart, keyboard solos on “Shooting Range” and “The Stand Up”; Bob Wolfman, guitar; John Viavattine Jr., bass on all tracks; Jesse Collins, alto sax; Tori Higley, vocals; John Viavattine Sr., flute, tenor sax and soprano sax; and Ethan Wojcik, trombone on “The Stand Up.”

“A Vision Forward” is an upbeat groove. A three-instrument panel leads the bright, sunny melody. Solos are by Brecker, Rovatti and Steinway. The trumpet is muted in sections. The song has elements of fusion and funk, moving seamlessly between the two.

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