Archive for April, 2017

The Ray Charles Orchestra Zürich 1961 – Swiss Radio Days Jazz Series

It’s nearly 80 minutes of musical brilliance, presented by 17 songs. The Swiss Radio Jazz Series presents Ray Charles Orchestra, Zurich 1961 (The Montreaux Jazz Label, 2016).

It’s a legendary concert recording featuring a young Ray Charles at the start of a tour that was a turning point in his career. The performers are Ray Charles, piano and vocal; trumpets: Marcus Belgrave, Wallace Davenport, Phil Guilbeau and John Hunt; trombones: Henderson Chambers, Dickie Wells and Keg Johnson; Rudy Powell, alto saxophone; Hank Crawford, alto saxophone and band leader; David Newman, tenor saxophone and flute; Don Wilkerson, tenor saxophone; Leroy Cooper, baritone saxophone; Elbert “Sonny” Forriest, guitar; Edgar Willis, bass; Bruno Carr, drums; and Quincy Jones, arranger of several tracks. Background vocalists, the Raelettes, are Priscilla “Pat” Lyles, Margie Hendricks, Gwen Berry and Darlene McCrea.

Set highlights include “Happy Faces,” “My Baby,” “Sticks and Stones,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “Hit the Road, Jack” and “I Believe to My Soul.”

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Amsterdam Connection – Isn’t She Lovely

Not only tulips come from Amsterdam. From the canal city derive Tim ‘Harmony’ Welvaars & Naomi Adriaansz with their new formation Amsterdam Connection. Under their previous group name Team Harmony both already released the debut album Two Souls One Breath (2015). Their new project is entitled Isn’t She Lovely (2017).

Tim Welvaars is a prolific veteran harmonica player with more than 30 albums on his belt. Naomi Adriaansz’ instrument of choice is the tenor saxophone. The album title indicates it, the CD is dedicated as an instrumental tribute to the legendary Stevie Wonder, an artist that Tim himself played together yet. All songs were previously composed and performed by Stevie.

The album was recorded in Los Angeles and produced by multi Grammy Award-winning producer and guitarist Paul Brown. Guest musicians on selected tracks are Gordon Campbell, Jeffrey Caruthers, Marco Basci and Lew Laing Jr. (drums, bass, keys), Paul Brown and Marc Antoine (guitars), Nathan East and Roberto Vally (bass), Jessy J (flute).

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Cedric A. Napoleon – Yesterday Today

Yesterday Today is Cedric A. Napoleon‘s first solo album and represents a new beginning for the renowned jazz bassist, an opportunity to interpret the songs that have inspired him throughout his long musical journey.

“This is a long time coming,” says Napoleon. “I’ve been thinking about arrangements on these songs for quite a while. Now I’ve finally got the chance to put them down on wax and hopefully have others feel the same way about these songs as I do.” For more than five decades, Cedric Napoleon has dedicated his life to engaging in a conversation with the music.

As a founding member of the influential jazz ensemble Pieces of A Dream, Cedric has performed at major venues all over the world. Once the principal bassist for Grover Washington, Jr., Cedric has recorded for Elektra, Manhattan and Blue Note Records, and over the course of his career has collaborated with music legends including Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Patti LaBelle, Stevie Wonder and Teddy Pendergrass. Continue reading

Bill C Ireton – Seasons

seasonsThe album, Seasons, is Bill C Ireton’s newest release in Feb. 2017 which takes you through his interpretation of events through the calendar year such as, Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Bill has put his composition, engineering, and production skills to work mixing in a blend of smooth to electrifying guitar work throughout the album combining artist series programming with flavors such as Jeff Lorber, Eric Marienthal, Miles Black, and more.

An electrifying soloist whose blistering chops combine rock-fusion firepower with sophisticated jazz harmonies and his inherently bluesy string bending prowess, Ireton has the ability to instantly elevate the proceedings on any gig or session he plays by channeling the spirits of his own personal guitar heroes, George Benson to Larry Carlton, as well as Jimi Hendrix to Joe Satriani. Not only will the flavor of the music please the contemporary jazz listener but one can tell that the songwriting comes from the heart. All and all this album is very entertaining creating and fusing styles of Smooth Jazz, R&B, Rock, and Soul flavors.

Seasons is on sale at CDBaby.

Firey String Sistas! – That’s What She Said …

Celebrating the power, beauty and creativity of women through original compositions. That’s the aim of the Firey String SistasThat’s What She Said … (A&EC Music, 2016).

The players are Nioka Workman, cello, vocals and percussion; Marlene Rice, violin, vocals and percussion; Melissa Slocum, acoustic bass; Mala Waldron, piano, vocals and percussion; and Karina Colis, drums and percussion.

“Ellie,” composed by Waldron, is a lively jaunt, with the main theme led by a vocal scat. Colis and Slocum set the groove, playing emphatically underneath whoever has the lead. Rice, Workman, Waldron and Slocum deliver riveting solos, and Colis stretches out subtly but effectively throughout.

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Special EFX – Deep As The Night

A formation with long-lasting tradition. Special EFX was founded by drummer and percussionist George Jinda and guitarist Chieli Minucci in 1982. The musical concept of the group changed from world fusion to contemporary jazz and smooth jazz. Body Language (1995) was the last album Jinda and Minucci recorded together. In 1997, Jinda had just completed the album Here to Stay, he suffered a massive stroke, from which he never recovered until he died in 2001.

Chieli Minucci continues the project in memory of his former teammate with the 22nd Special EFX album Deep As The Night (2017), which will be released on the Trippin ‘N’ Rhythm record label. The new album features a cast of musicians, who are sharing Chieli’s musical activities, like bassist Jerry Brooks, drummer Lionel Cordew, keyboardists Jay Rowe, Nicholas Cole and Lao Tizer, percussionist Mino Cinelu, violinist Antoine Silverman, saxophonists Elan Trotman and David Mann.

The title song starts the set with guitarist Minucci and saxophonist Mann united in the creation of an eclectic work of harmony. Another Day, Another Smile shines with a wonderful sonic bliss of acoustic structure. The special nearness between Chieli’s guitar and Antoine’s violin is somewhat rare in the more traditional world of smooth jazz. A combination, aficionados of such music tend to expect in the music of Django Reinhardt.

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J. Boykin – Street Lights

Street Lights is saxophonist J. Boykin‘s junior album and its undeniably one of his best. J. bridges the gap between soulful R&B and Contemporary Jazz. Something new, something great, sit back and enjoy the ride.

Get this album at his website and you have the chance to win a saxophone.

Geoff Alpert – Open Your Heart

17098080_1324874154222106_269510139038289092_oTrombonist Geoff Alpert has loved music all his life, studying the craft, learning several brass/valve instruments, playing in bands and composing songs. Inspired by the likes of jazz legend J.J. Johnson, rock band Chicago’s James Pankow, and fusion greats such as Wayne Henderson and Raul de Souza, Geoff studied music as a major at San Diego State University while supplementing his income gigging near and far. Yet he walked away from music for 30 years in the early `80s to be an ideal provider as a husband and father.

Following the painful passing of his wife from cancer in 2002, Geoff did some profound soul searching which led him to pick up his trombone again, gradually easing back into the scene where he met bassist Darryl Williams and musical director/keyboardist Gail Jhonson. Both pushed and assisted him in creating a musical statement that spoke to his emotional life story, his undying passion for the art form and the spiritual Eastern martial arts disciplines that guided him along his journey. That album is Open Your Heart.

Geoff Alpert’s Open Your Heart (co–produced with Gail Jhonson) is a 10–tune tapestry which lovingly places the trombone in a front and center position it rarely enjoys in the present musical landscape. Floating between Jazz, Pop, R&B and Latin sound signatures, it’s a bold yet highly accessible listen. Highlights include the Brazilian flight of the title track, a cover of The Jacksons’ “Heartbreak Hotel” (composed by the immortal Michael Jackson and specially arranged for Geoff by Gail), the transfixing and deeply touching trombone and keyboard duet “Thinking About You” (in memory of his departed mother and wife), “The Crusade” (a tribute to The Jazz Crusaders/The Crusaders emulating some of the progressive sounds of the band’s evolution over five groundbreaking decades), the groovin’ “Zen Funk” (featuring bassist Darryl Williams and dedicated to the Ken-Ka-Kung Fu Club, the martial arts school which Geoff has been both student and teacher for four decades), and an especially emotive cover of sister trio The Emotions’ 1977 hit “Don’t Ask My Neighbors” on which Geoff tips his hat to trombonist Raul de Souza, first instrumentalist to cover the song in 1978 (produced by the late George Duke) while placing his own heart piercing stamp on the Quiet Storm classic.

Get the album at iTunes.

Cindy Bradley – Natural

Flugelhorn and trumpet really rock her boat. Cindy Bradley left some imposing traces in the sand of the smooth jazz genre with Just A Little Bit (2007), Bloom (2009), Unscripted (2011) and Bliss (2014). Natural (2017) is her fourth album in connection with the label Trippin’ n’ Rhythm.

The set opens with Girl Talk, a funky exchange of blows between Cindy on trumpet and Paula Atherton on sax. Sax veteran Paula had invited Cindy on her fourth album Ear Candy (2015) and the opening track is according to the principle of mutuality a great thank-you with positive effect.

On Category A Cindy works together with outstanding guitarist Chris Standring, who has a superb knack for the perfect sonic twist. Music lovers will recognize parallels to groundbreaking pieces of pop history. Everyone But You touches a romantic chord within the listener with unadulterated sound of the flugelhorn and an acoustic guitar of classical characteristic.

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Michael Anthony Fields, Jr. – Love on the Bottom

The wait is over Michael Anthony Fields, Jr. has finally emerged on to the music scene with his smooth and exhilarating bass playing. He has made his mark on the smooth jazz world with his remake of Frankie Beverly & Maze’s Cant Get Over You. Once a member of the smooth jazz band Soultry Sound, Michael has set to embark on his musical journey and to take it to a higher level. After graduating from South Robeson high school in 2001, Michael attended college at World Harvest Bible College in Coloumbus, OH where he played for world renowned TV evangelist, Rod Parsley from 2001-2003. He then continued his education in Oklahoma at Oral Roberts University where honed his skills in recording and production programming. Now the CEO of his own music production company, Water From The Rock Productions, Fields has produced projects from R&B and Smooth Jazz to Traditional and Contemporary Gospel.

As a bassist, he has performed with such notable names as: Marcus Miller, Tom Brown, Ronnie Laws, Wayman Tisdale, Peabo Bryson, Tom Braxton & Jonathan DeBose Jr. among others. Now residing in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Fezee as he’s known to his friends is hard at work producing a self-titled project called “Mr. Fields” featuring his bass playing skills along with local and nationally recognized musicians. He also is producing a project entitled, “Don’t Let the Moment Pass You By” for gospel jazz saxophonist, Jermaine Mondaine, which also features local and national recognized musicians. Lastly, he is producing the 3rd gospel recording for National Recording Artist Sarah Nicole. All three of these projects promise to be industry changers! The North Carolina Native has been inspired tremendously by the music of the late great Wayman Tisdale. As he begins his solo career Michael Fields Jr will definitely be a name you want forget!

His newest project is entitled Love on the Bottom and is now available for download at CDBaby.