Archive for May, 2017

Pieces Of A Dream – Just Funkin’ Around

The story of Pieces Of A Dream is a tale of destiny and brotherhood. Picture three starry-eyed fanatical teen musicians who manage to get discovered by Mister Magic (Grover Washington, Jr.), become teen sensations and go on to join the pantheon of musical wonders from the “City Of Brotherly Love” that includes Gamble and Huff, Patti Labelle, McCoy Tyner, and The Roots. Dubbed “the Steely Dan of Smooth Jazz” by Allaboutjazz.com and heralded by the legendary Count Basie as “a tough act to follow” Pieces Of A Dream, remains one of the most satisfying, exhilarating and sought-after bands in Contemporary Jazz. They have toured the world, sold over one million albums, and scored both Smooth Jazz and R&B radio hits along the way. Crowned “Pioneers of Smooth Jazz” by The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pieces Of A Dream has long been revered for their signature fusion of Jazz, R&B, Funk, Pop and Blues.

Their sweet and soulful grooves, energized solos and organic compositions have made them a favorite on the touring circuit and on the airwaves.  Last year, founding members, keyboardist James Lloyd and drummer Curtis Harmon celebrated the milestone of their 40th anniversary and their feet are still on the accelerator as they power forward to the release of their new CD Just Funkin’ Around (May 26, 2017).  On their newest effort, the band continues to prove that they are still at the top of their game and as inspired as ever. Curtis Harmon says, “Lasting forty years in this business confirms the fact that we are truly blessed. When you have fans that support you for as many years as our fans have, you can’t help but want to give them the best you’ve got and that’s what we’ve tried to do.” James Lloyd adds, “There is no stopping us now! In addition to the responsibility we feel towards our fans, Curtis and I also feel a duty to help the younger and future generations of Jazz to reach and exceed their goals the way the late, great Grover Washington Jr. did for us.”

Just Funkin’ Around highlights ten tracks of new and original music that build upon the soulful and rich legacy of Pieces Of A Dream’s trademark sounds. “When our fans hear Just Funkin’ Around, I hope that it inspires them to do what makes them happy; dance, sing, hum, or even just smile,” shares Harmon. “These songs are our gift to be shared from one ear to another.”  Just Funkin’ Around ceremoniously opens with the album’s first single “Right Back Atcha’” an in-the-pocket ear-catching tune.  Lloyd’s crisp piano licks dance atop Harmon’s mean drum groove and together they convey the message  ‘we came to get down!” Lloyd shares, “Some of the best things happen in the strangest ways. Curt and I wrote this in an artist tent minutes before a Pieces show and sang it into his phone. I had almost forgotten about it when he suggested it for the album.” Continue reading

Advertisements

Maysa – Love Is A Battlefield

The critics are raving, the audience is captivated. Everything Maysa is touching with her voice turns to gold. She is the undisputed queen of soul, R&B, acid jazz and all that genres she comes in contact with.

Her new album Love Is A Battlefield revolves around the topic love like many of her previous projects. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that the starting track has the title The Things We Do For Love. With the enchanting love ballade she echoes her unrequited emotive affection. Producers Chris “Big Dog” Davis has perfectly captured the magic moment of ultimate sweetness.

Can We Talk is a song recorded by R&B singer Tevin Campbell and composed and produced by Babyface. Maysa changes the persons in the lyrics to give the song more sense. When she intonates her truly rewarding vocals, the sun stands still shining right on your place. The million-selling sound explosion Love Is a Battlefield by Pat Benatar is up-tempo and rebelliously minded. Maysa slows down the song to a spiritual content, and the ability to involve the listener in an intense dialogue.

Read more …

Steve Khan – Backlog

There was the stunning electric guitar solo on the disco-fueled, big band cover of the Star Wars theme with Maynard Ferguson. Then there was the beautiful end solo to Steely Dan’s “Glamour Profession.” And apart from those, there were guest appearances with numerous other artists, his partnership with keyboardist Rob Mounsey and a brilliant solo career. The point is, you see Steve Khan’s name, you know what you’re going to get: musical fulfillment. That tradition continues with Backlog (Tone Center Records, 2017).

Personnel on this date are Ruben Rodriguez, baby bass and electric bass; Mark Walker, drums; Marc Quinones, timbal, bongo and percussion; and Bobby Allende, conga and bongo. Guests appearing selected tracks are Randy Brecker, trumpet on “Latin Genetics”; Bob Mintzer, tenor sax on “Invisible”; Mike Mainieri, vibes on “Head Start”; Rob Mounsey, keyboards, orchestrations and orchestral arrangements on several songs; and Tatiana Parra, voice on “Catta.”

Khan’s treatment of Ornette Coleman’s “Latin Genetics” presents a festive offering. Khan and Brecker are in unison for the melody. The rhythm section is as prominent here as the two leads, offering plenty of variety as they maintain the beat. Brecker and Khan take turns adding to the block party mood with extended solos.

Read more …

Mike Levine – Star Gazing

Based in the Sunshine State, Jazz pianist Mike Levine has developed a reputation as a solid player, producer, and composer on the Miami scene. With a career that stretches back to the early 80’s, the University of Miami alumnus made his record debut in 1981 as co-leader of The Ross-Levine Band, a project upon which Pat Metheny was a guest artist. The effort drew national attention and remained in the top ten of the AC-Jazz Chart for six weeks. The subsequent effort also fared well and paved the band’s way as an opening act for such highly regarded performers as Michael Franks, Gato Barbieri, and Dionne Warwick.

For 17 years, Mike played in the house band for “Sabado Gigante”, a top TV Show seen around the world by millions as well as “Don Francisco Presenta”, a popular talk show. As a composer, his compositions have landed both in movies such as “Expendables” and “Admission” as well as TV shows including Star Search, George Lopez, Four Weddings, Coronation Street, and Beverly Hills Chihuahua both in the U.S. and Internationally. From The Heart, Mikes debut CD, featured special guests Hiram Bullock and Ed Calle. His second CD, Thinking Of You, was released March 12, 2012. Along with South Florida finest, Mikes special guests were Will Lee, Ed Calle and Billy Ross.

Star Gazing is comprised of 12 originals tracks plus a cover of Wes Montgomery’s “Road Song”. The overall sound combines Smooth Jazz, R&B, and Latin in a organic fusion. The band on “Star Gazing” includes, special guests Andy Snitzer on tenor sax, veteran bassist Will Lee and Ed Calle on soprano sax along with the hottest and finest musicians in the South Florida area.

Fresh served at CDBaby.

Roberto Vazquez – Matices

Spirited and passionate, Cuban-born musician and composer Roberto Vazquez’s soul has always communicated mainly through the language of music. Roberto has recently co-written the song ‘Sand Dancers’ on Marion Meadows’ release ‘Secrets’ which has received glowing reviews for the song itself as well as for Roberto’s spicy keyboard solo in publications such as Billboard Magazine, All About Jazz, Smooth Jazz Vibes and several more.

Roberto continues to compose and record and he performs for audiences of more than 4000 people every single week playing keyboards and horns in the longest-running tribute show, ‘Legends In Concert’ in Harrah’s Casino on the world-famous Las Vegas strip. Roberto’s versatile, masterful and passionate performances create beautiful and moving music that speaks for itself. In 2011 he released his amazing album Between Two Worlds.

Now he returns with his new album Matices. Get the album at CDBaby.

Scott Wilkie – StudioLIVE

Keyboardist Scott Wilkie has retained the youthful appearance of a competitive surfer over decades. After his move from Detroit to Southern California, a real surfer paradise, he began his creative phase with the debut album Boundless (1999), followed by More Than You Know (2000), Home Again: The Solo Piano Sessions (2008), The Wonder of Christmas (2013), All In (2014) and Joy (2015). StudioLIVE is his project for 2017.

Scott performs on this album piano and electric piano and is joined by his friends Dave Hill (guitars), Nathan Brown (bass), Monette Mariono (percussion), and Jeff Olson (drums). Greg Holmes (B3) and Erdis Maxhelaku (cello) are further mentioned musicians. Scott has written and arranged all songs.

The journey begins with NB2000, a marvelous filigree and profound piano piece with fulminating climax and quieter periods. Trendsetting innovative Scott excels on his favorite instrument. On Poolside he celebrates space-filling, expansive and demanding piano attacks perfectly underlined by a synth variation.

Read more …

Miguel Zenon – Tipico

Saxophonist Miguel Zenon has brought in additional instruments to augment his band’s music. However, for Tipico (Miel Music, 2017), he decided to stay “closer to home.” The goal is to highlight his personal and professional life, as well as the uniqueness of his group.

Zenon plays alto saxophone. His companions are Luis Perdomo, piano; Hans Glawishnig, bass; and Henry Cole, drums.

“Academia,” inspired by Zenon’s teaching at the New England Conservatory, is mixed bag. The opening starts with a steady phrase repeated by the piano. Then the alto pitches in some high-speed rolls. A couple of shifts later, and we have something that more closely resembles a melody. With the others setting their own stamps, Zenon puts the sax through an intense, blistering jaunt. The horn wails at key points. Meanwhile, piano, bass and drums heat up. The energy continues to build until another shift. Things mellow considerably for Perdomo’s interlude. It begins softly, but soon kicks into overdrive. Zenon comes back in for a furious finish.

Read more …

Advertisements