Archive for April, 2017

Kevin Eubanks – East West Time Line

Since his 18-year tenure as guitarist and music director of TV’s The Tonight Show Band ended in 2010, Philadelphia-born guitarist, composer Kevin Eubanks has been on a creative roll. On East West Time Line, Eubanks explores the chemistry he maintains with musicians on both coasts. And once again, his distinctive fingerstyle approach to the instrument is in the service of tunes that run the stylist gamut from urgent swingers to introspective ballads to Latin-tinged numbers and some get-down Philly funk.

Joining Eubanks on this stellar outing are longtime collaborator and former Berklee College of Music schoolmate, drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith, who fuels the West Coast outfit alongside seasoned session bassist Rene Camacho, percussionist Mino Cinelu and saxophonist Bill Pierce. Smith’s East Coast counterpart on this bi-coastal session is the irrepressibly swinging Jeff “Tain” Watts, a force of nature on the kit who combines with bassist Dave Holland, Philadelphia-based pianist Orrin Evans and New York trumpeter Nicholas Payton for a potent lineup. Together these great musicians bring out the best in Eubanks’ six-string prowess and ignite his searching instincts throughout the sessions in Los Angeles and New York.

“Of course, we all came up through New York,” says the Philly guitarist who broke in with Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers during the early ’80s. “But we also got the benefits of seeing the East Coast down and dirty and Hollywood down and dirty too. We combined both vibes on this recording-the kind of Latin vibe of Los Angeles and the straight-up swinging vibe of New York. Continue reading

Ty Causey – Tyangles

Singer Ty Causey is the vocal alternative to instrumental smooth jazz. Many smooth jazz fans know him by his cooperation with Najee on his album Morning Tenderness. Ty started his own career in 2004 with the album N-TYSING.

Love Notes (2005), Expressions (2007), Body Language (2008), True Love In Motion (2009), Down 2 Earth (2010), False Faces (2012), and Cool In My Skin (2013) were the follow-ups. Now he is back with his new album Tyangles (2017). The album was released April 15th. You can buy the album at Amazon.com.

The Baylor Project – The Journey

From a guest appearance on Kenny Garrett’s Happy People to fulltime member of the Yellowjackets and guest vocalist, the journey of husband-wife duo Marcus and Jean Baylor is one of unity, togetherness and partnership. Thus The Journey (Be a Light, 2017) by The Baylor Project is aptly titled.

Personnel are Jean Baylor, all vocals, handclaps; Marcus Baylor, all drums, handclaps; Shedrick Mitchell, piano and organ; Allyn Johnson, piano; David “DJ” Ginyard, electric bass; Chris Smith, upright bass; Dezron Douglas, upright bass; Corcoran Holt, upright bass; Marvin Sewell, guitar; Rayfield “Ray Ray” Holloman, pedal steel guitar and electric guitar; Bob Mintzer, tenor sax on “Summertime”; Keith Loftis, tenor sax; Freddie Hendrix, trumpet and flugelhorn; Keyon Harrold, trumpet on “Again”; Stafford Hunter, trombone on “Again”; Aaron Draper, percussion and handclaps on “Block Party”; Pablo Batista, percussion and handclaps; Nicole Neely, live strings and arrangement on “Again”; and Brandee Younger, harp on “Summertime.”

“Block Party” is a straight jam. It opens with sermony vibe, but quickly warms into a celebration, punctuated by handclaps, Jean’s wordless chants and Hendrix. Marcus holds back until a spot about two minutes from the end. Accompanied only by the organ, he gives the kit a workout. The interlude sets up the listener for the joyous, all-in climax.

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Roberto Vally – Pure Lines

Brooklyn born, L.A. based, and world influenced bass player Roberto Vally calls as his influences Paul Jackson, Stanley Clarke, and Jaco Pastorius. He has played with Michael Franks, Bobby Caldwell, Paul Brown, Boney James, Boz Scaggs, Arturo Sandoval, Michael Lington, and Randy Crawford. Meanwhile you can add the rest of the smooth jazz cats to this list.

His first solo album was Boom Boom Boom (2013), described by Vally as an eclectic mix of chill, lounge, world, and smooth jazz. His sophomore album Pure Lines (2017) just hits the stores. The album is a collaboration of Roberto Vally and Jeff Carruthers, who performs keyboards, guitars and programming.

As additional musicians are mentioned in the liner notes Dave Karasony (drums), Enrique Martinez (accordion), Andrew Neu (sax), Marc Antoine (guitar, vocals), Michiyo Kitagawa (sax), Tom Schuman (keyboards, piano), Gregg Manning (keyboards), Ramses Araya (percussion), Paul Brown, Carlyle Barriteau, Federico Ramos (guitars), Nick Cedillo (trumpet, sax, trombone), Fabiana Passoni (vocals), and Christine Carruthers (background vocals).

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Julian Vaughn – Bona Fide

 Hailing from Kansas City bass player Julian Vaughn started his solo career with his self-released debut entitled The Purpose Project in 2010. His sophomore album Breakthrough followed in 2012 and Limitless in 2013 at Trippin ‘N’ Rhythm Records, an expanding label with a heavy concentration on the smooth jazz genre.The new album from Trippin n Rhythm recording artist Julian Vaughn is titled Bona Fide and will be released in June.

Pre-releases will be available  on May 20, 7:30 PM at GEM Theater KCMO, the cd release concert.

Blake Aaron – Color and Passion

Guitarist Blake Aaron has been featured multiple times on SiriusXM over the past week as part of Jazz Appreciation Month just as his vibrant new single, “Vivid,” is preparing to bloom brightly. The third single issued in advance of his upcoming Color and Passion album, Aaron wrote and produced the multihued bouquet of invigorating instrumental dance music, power pop horns and glossy R&B grooves that surround fragrant stems of fresh electric jazz guitar flourishes. On the way to radio stations now with an April 24 playlist add date, the perfectly-timed spring fling should happily satiate listeners until Blake’s sixth album streets this fall on Innervision Records.

Last Thursday, the national satellite radio broadcaster’s Watercolors aired a live concert performance by Aaron recorded at the SiriusXM studios in Washington, DC. On Sunday, the guitarist who hosted his own nationally syndicated radio show for seven years hung out on the “Dave Koz Lounge” with the affable sax sensation. This week, Aaron served as guest DJ on Tuesday and although he took command of the air waves, he didn’t sneak in the new single before the official add date.

“No, not yet,” he chuckled. “’Vivid’ is my feel good track of the spring/summer. With real Earth, Wind & Fire-style horns and tons of energetic, bright melodic hooks, I am proud to say that this is one of my most infectious grooves and most intense productions I’ve done to date. Vivid is how I try to live my life and it is how I try to teach my kids to live their lives. Be uniquely you – boldly and with passion. Be you – vividly.” Continue reading

Swiss Youth Jazz Orchestra – Heaven Help Us All

Take some 1960s and ‘70s jazz, soul and funk, and put them into the hands and hearts of some young people from Switzerland and other countries, you might be astonished by the result. Heaven Help Us All (Shanti Records, 2016) by the Swiss Youth Jazz Orchestra mixes old, new and lots of energy.

The orchestra is comprised of Sharon Renold, vocals and bass; Rit Xu, flute; Sara El Hachimi, alto sax; Felix Piringer, tenor sax and EWI; Mia Stauffacher, baritone sax; Gergo Szax and Dmitry Zinakov, trumpets; Florian Weiss and Sebastian Wey, trombones; Claude Stucki, guitar; Mary Rasshohovatskaya, keyboards; and Roberto Carella, drums. Additional players are Oli Rockberger, vocals and keyboard; Franke Greene, trumpet; Tony Lakatos, tenor sax; Marques Young, trombone; Neil Jason, bass; and Billy Cobham, drums. The orchestra is directed by Fritz K. Renold, who composed two original songs, “Blues for George” and “No Way Boss.”

“Ridiculous,” was written by and features Rockberger. He sings of a relationship with someone who seems not to notice him. He wonders if it’s ridiculous, if it’s really out of the question, for them to be together. The sense of longing comes through loud and clear in his singing. After a brief interlude by Stucki, an uncredited soprano sax player cuts loose on a blistering, pleading solo. The song is big band jazz meets old-school soul.

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Love Suggestions – Sax Night

Multi-instrumentalist Konstantin Klashtorni has designed the Love Suggestions series for lovers to spend nice evenings together. The main emphasis is on one instrument in the foreground without neglecting other instruments. That in mind he already released Piano Night in 2013 and Guitar Night in 2014. Now he returns with the long-awaited Sax Night.

With a romantic and melodious approach he creates R&B oriented smooth jazz with that certain twist. Listening to the first notes of Thick of It brings back in mind, what we miss since the release of his latest album in 2016. With the perfect balance of flavor coming out of the land of rhythm and groove Konstantin creates with sax, flute and guitar the magical melody line.

There Goes My Baby rides on an emotional wave incorporating gospel elements and some retro feeling. Sax and guitar are living in a fine neighborhood. The sweeping ballad Shape of You reunites flute and sax to a deceptively accessible celestial arrangement. Don’t Wanna Know flows in a coherent fluid music stream that is smooth like Italian ice cream.

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Valeriy Stepanov – New Beginnings

Less ‘From Russia With Love’ And More ‘From Russia With Groove’ multi instrumentalist Valeriy Stepanov is all set to take the smooth jazz world by storm with his Skytown Records debut release, New Beginnings.  Stepanov has been identified as having the ability to traverse the entire spectrum of jazz, from his smooth jazz sensibilities, that are very much the province of New Beginnings, through to his own brand of fusion that can accurately be described ss Chick Corea meets Jeff Lorber.

Above all, what makes Valeriy stand out from the crowd is the formula he has for rhythm and melody, his unbounded energy and the sublime technique that he first learned from his father then built on by studying music theory at the prestigious central music school of Moscow State Conservatory. Not only that, with six years of recording and performing with his band vsak, Valeriy has polished these skills yet further so that now, at age 27, he is perfectly positioned to join the ever increasing band of eastern European artists to have found musical fame in the west.

The story of Valeriy Stepanov is very much a story of today, a story where the internet combined with an abundance of talent can propel a performer from the most unlikely of locations into the global spotlight. Pre-order the album at Amazon.com.

Michael G. Hawkins – Joyful Meditations

Michael G. Hawkins, a Virginia native, performs a combination of soul-stirring gospel and jazz music on the flute. He has had a wide range of experiences during his musical career. Joyful Meditations is his personal invitation.

You can join this invitation at CDBaby.