Archive for December, 2018

Mike Levine – Thinking Of You

Miami based composer and pianist Mike Levine never understood music as art for art’s sake, but as an interpersonal link and communicative element. Unlike many other musicians who spend their time as multi-instrumentalists in their own studios, Mike seeks contact with his fellow musicians.

So his second album Thinking Of You (2011) also features many musical companions. To mention are Will Lee, Julio Hernandez, Rafael Valencia, Nick Orta (bass), Ed Calle, Ed Maina (sax), Billy Ross (flute), Lee Levin, Sam Levine (drums), Dan Warner, Lindsey Blair, Aaron Lebos (guitar), Richard Bravo, Carlomagno Araya, Nelson “Flaco” Padron (percussion), Wendy Pedersen (vocals), Dana Teboe (trombone), Jeff Kievet (trumpet), Tony Concepcion (fluegel horn), Gary Lindsey (strings arrangement), and Miami Symphonic – Strings Concert Master – Alfredo Oliva.

With the exception of two covers Mike has written all songs. Gettin Ready opens the album with astonishing freshness. Top-notch musicians let the song groove. Walking Tall is an energetic piece with a lot of horn power in the style of Tom Scott or Greg Adams.

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Neamen Lyles – Moment of Truth

Every now and then, we’re given another opportunity to get to know a musical artist at a deeper level – to get a clearer glimpse of the creative force within, and the ways in which it’s manifested in the aural world. Such is the case today with Neamen Lyles, the young saxophonist whose second album now makes its way into the marketplace of musical idea. As you come to know this rising smooth jazz artist, and hear his latest recorded output, you genuinely, deeply appreciate where he came from and where he’s headed. And, if you’re looking for validation of that appreciation, a glance at his record of accomplishments and associations over the past half dozen years provides it in ample measure. Accomplishments and associations: Recordings and performances with the likes of Jeff Lorber, Rick Braun, Mel Brown, Mindi Abair. Shared concert billings with Dave Koz, Jay Soto, Greg Karrukas and others.

But, there’s more to know, more than meets the eye or the ear. Neamen is more than a sax performer, more than a musical artist of considerable achievement, more than a dynamic, at times inspiring, performer on stage. It’s a path that reveals some new twists and turns on Neamen’s latest CD, Moment of Truth. Hear it, and you’ll know a bit more about this talented, ambitious, forward-thinking sax master. You’ll know a bit more about his musical roots, his spiritual journey, and why those remarkable accomplishments and associations keep showing up in such abundance, such plentitude. Neamen Lyles: author of an ascending career, creator of a dynamic new CD, as well- conceived and produced as anything in the genre in a long while. This young man’s musical journey, along with the accomplishments and associations that comprise it, is just getting rolling. It’s worth a watch and a listen.

Get the album now on CDBaby.

Djembe Sol – Rhythm

West Coast recording artist Djembe Sol‘s musical mission is to entertain your mind and body with his eclectic fusion of Hip Hop, House, Jazz, and World beats.

His new album Rhythm contains highly recommendable tunes for download only at CDBaby.

Deshannon Higa – Words Cannot Express

This album is supremely unique in Hawaii. You will find the melodies on this album infectious and catchy, and find yourself humming them long after you’ve listened to it. Featuring an unparalleled assembly of local and legendary talent (20 artists) with a collective 500 plus years in the business, this record is sure to please the most discriminating of music enthusiasts. It’ll make you dance, sing, cry, ponder, and imagine. The improvisational prowess and acuity of skill demonstrated here is on par with anything coming out of New York. Prepare your ears, and listen with your soul. Let this album speak to you with “words that cannot express.”

Words Cannot Express is a masterpiece of original songs with catchy melodies and a reinvention of two beloved covers, one a classic hymn and the other a sacred Hawaiian theme. It features an unparalleled array of musical talent with mad skills.

This album is available on CDBaby.

Mike Levine – Star Gazing

Pianist Mike Levine gained excellent reputation in the international world of music. He took his first musical steps together with saxophonist Billy Ross, with whom he founded the Ross-Levine Band. The albums That Summer Something (1981) and Humidity (1981) originate from this time.

Numerous cooperation followed with the pianist, who is well networked in the music world. Not until 2006 Mike decided to release his first solo album From The Heart. 2011 followed Thinking Of You and 2017 Star Gazing.

On the latest album Mike is accompanied by a selected group of professional musicians as there are Will Lee (bass), Lee Levin, Sam Levine (drums), Richard Bravo (percussion), Dan Warner, Lindsey Blair (guitar), Ed Calle, Andy Snitzer, Ed Maina, Billy Ross, Tom McCormick, Mike Brignola (sax), Lenard Rutledge, Jackson King (vocals), Jeff Kievit (trumpet), Dante Luciani, Dana Teboe (trombone), and Camillo Valencia (horn arrangement).

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Michael C. Lewis – Intimate Journey

Known for creating music from a personal expression of his spirit as a Trumpet Stylist, Michael C. Lewis has released his first CD called Reflection. This CD features his trumpet, flugal horn, and vocals over a variety of cool, smooth, hip-hop, and funk grooves. Well entrenched in the Jazz Music World, Michael has extensive credits having worked with, Hank Crawford, Jimmy Heath, Wilson Pickett, Patti Labelle, Pharoah Sanders, De La Soul, Alex Bugnon, Frank Lacy, Kirk Whalum, Lenny Pickett, Wayne Krantz, and most recently Bill Cosby’s Cosnarati Videos.

He also has performed many shows with his band, The Michael C. Lewis Jazz Experience. Intimate Journey finds Trumpet/ Flugelhorn/Vocalist Michael C. Lewis expressing his music in a stimulating Soul Jazz style that is Cool, Like Smoke On Ice. His music is fresh yet familiar and will take you to the past and future simultaneously!

Get the album on CDBaby.

Mel Holder – Music Book Volume III – Magnificent

Grammy-nominated Producer/Artist/Author/Speaker Mel Holder spreads his ministry through a blend of jazz and gospel, fused with African and Caribbean rhythms. Mel has worked with and shared the stage with the likes of KC & the Sunshine Band, Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams and Stevie Wonder. Mel’s call to ministry has opened the door for him to perform at over 150 events every year, touching lives worldwide.

After his album Back to Basics: Music Book Volume 2 now follows his third installment Music Book Volume III – Magnificent.

You can get the new album at

Brian Toval – Straight Street

The Straight Street Album is a collection of tunes written, performed, and produced by Brian Toval the keyboard player for Strate Notes. Brian has worked as a Medical Technologist, Project Manager, Software Developer, and presently works as a Software Integration Engineer. He played in a cover band, Stop Inc, to pay his way through college. Brian played for several years with the James Rivers Movement and was a part of the James Rivers Movement that performed on the Clint Eastwood 1984 movie ‘Tightrope’; that was filmed in New Orleans. Brian has always been torn between his love for technology and his love for music. Brian said technology won the battle. Although Brian did not pursue a career in music, he stilled participated in a few local projects. With the advances made in music technology, Brian found himself slowly being drawn back into the music realm this is his first solo project.

‘Straight Street’ was inspired by the story of Paul receiving his sight after being blinded on the Damascus road by CHRIST. CHRIST instructed Ananias to go the street named Straight to restore Paul’s sight. (Acts 9:8 – 18). ‘Pops’, the second tune on the album, is inspired by Brian’s grandfather who used to smoke a pipe. Pops was a hip dude who walked with a limp and was super cool dude. Pops made his own wine! ‘Why You Messing With Me’ is a groove that was originally written as a vocal tune. The hook line is ‘Why You Messing With Me’ the lyrics were going to tell a story about person who meets the perfect soulmate and can’t believe that the person is reciprocating the love. ‘Jesus Is the Only Way’ with all the hate in the world. There is only one solution and that’s Jesus. Not religion but a true relationship with Jesus. It’s hard to hate anyone when you know the LORD. Brian says everyone should have their rights but a true Christian understands their rites! Everyone is not a Christian but everyone deserves the right to make that decision.

‘A Better Day’ is a happy instrumental. It was inspired by Brian’s goddaughter Amber. The day was always made better when he spoke with Amber. ‘Sassy Thing’ is inspired by Semmi, Brian’s first Rottweiler. She was loving, protective, and sassy. ‘Climate Change’ tells a story. There are two conversations. The background groove, people in denial, continues like nothing is happening to the environment while the horn player is trying to get their attention that we have a problem. Finally, the drummer triggers an argument between the electric piano and the horn. The boom in the background indicates that time is running out. ‘Give Me Your Love’ is the only vocal tune. The lyrics is about a man meeting a lady falling in love with her and wanting to spend the rest of his life with her. She becomes his soulmate and guide through life. He can’t get enough of her. Ceasar Elloie, Brian’s lifetime friend performs the vocals on this song. Check out Ceasar Elloie’s New Orleans to Paris CD. ‘Night Drive’ was inspired by the many road trips made at night by Brian traveling as a musician.

Get this album on CDBaby.

Patrick Lamb – Soul Ties

Patrick Lamb is the saxophonist of the stars. He performs with Gino Vannelli, Bobby Caldwell, Esperanza Spalding, Jeff Lorber Fusion, Tommy Thayer, Diane Schuur, Bobby Kimball, Alice Cooper, and Smokey Robinson. However, his limited time still allows him to successfully pursue his solo career.

This we tie to his albums, as there are The Closer I Get (2000), Sunshine Alley (2002), With A Christmas Heart (2003), Soul Of A Free Man (2007), Don’t Get No Better (2007) as duo with Patsy Meyer, It’s All Right Now (2011), Pick Up The Pieces (2013), and this year Soul Ties.

Patrick plays sax on all tracks and is supported by Alex Al (bass), Tony Maiden (guitar), Jeff Lorber (keyboards), Lil John Roberts (drums). Cameron Morgan plays the second guitar on Liner Cross. Patrick has written all tracks with the exception of two covers. Listening to the introducing track Tailgate, makes it immediately audible that Patrick approaches his themes with raw energy and an irrepressible presence.

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Horace Scruggs – On the Horizon

Teaching and conducting professionally since 1985, Horace Scruggs is an active musician residing in Central Virginia. He holds a Bachelor’s of Music Education (1985) with a concentration in voice from Longwood University, Farmville Virginia and a Master’s in Music Education (2003) with a choral conducting concentration from Shenandoah Conservatory, Winchester Virginia.

His smooth jazz project is titled On the Horizon. Contemporary Jazz, Neo-Soul, and Gospel are blended to smooth perfection on this instrumental album. Every track takes the listener to another musical place that’s just on the horizon.

You get this experience n CDBaby.