Archive for January, 2019

DeShannon Higa – Words Cannot Express

Honolulu based trumpet player DeShannon Higa is a first call session player. He performed with many big names such as Burt Bacharach, Diana Krall, Wynton Marsalis, Al Jarreau, Joe Williams, Wayne Newton, and Tower of Power, to name just a few. He is connected with many local bands like The Royal Hawaiian Band, gr00ve.imProV.arTiSts, Bop Tribal, Subtonic Orchestra and Quadpod.

While Honolulu is his hometown, he spend a lot of time in New York playing Carnegie Hall, Birdland, Radio City Music Hall, and Lincoln Center. He regards himself as an ambassador of other music styles on his home island. He performs a wide range of genres. “I’ve gone through my bebop and hard bop phase, cool and minimal phase, Latin and funk, ECM and abstract, acid jazz and hip-hop phase. Where I am currently is more cinematic and orchestrated, I would say.”

His debut album Words Cannot Express (2018) is a crowd funding project. “I am a soul with a story to tell, but words cannot express. Therefore, I use music to say what only the heart can speak.” The album is now available on CDBaby. Stylistically the album is a little adventure, nobody knows exactly in which direction the journey goes. Twenty local musicians were involved in the production, listing them all would go beyond the scope of this review.

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Brendan Rothwell – Sentiment

Brendan Rothwell is an accomplished bassist, composer, and producer. Originally from the UK, Brendan has been based in Calgary, AB, Canada since 2005. This Is the Love, from Brendan’s debut recording Time On My Hands (Independent, 2016), secured him placement on several of the global “Best of 2017” contemporary jazz charts, alongside winning “The People’s Choice” in Calgary’s 2017 YYC Music Awards.

Following the success of his debut recording, Brendan takes a step up with the release of Sentiment (Independent. Global release 02/14/2019). With 11 tracks of bass-focused contemporary jazz, this album displays a unique and genuine identity. On this entirely solo recording, Brendan once again optimizes the tone, scale, feeling and musicality of the bass, bringing it to the foreground as a lead instrument to develop meaning and depth.

Brendan describes the 1986 album from Miles Davis,“Tutu”, featuring the great Marcus Miller, as the trigger and driving force for his decision to play the bass. The art of business and leadership is inextricably linked in all of Brendan’s projects, and he firmly believes in applying a business mindset to the industry of music.

Nathan Jacobs – Look Forward

Blending elements of gospel, soul and jazz, Nathan Jacobs‘ first full solo album Look Forward features new releases, powerful collaborations, new arrangements of previously released music and songs bound to encourage and bless the soul. The tunes are vocal and instrumental songs for download only.

Get the album on CDBaby.

Michael Lington – Silver Lining

Denmark born saxophonist Michael Lington is a constant deliverer to the smooth jazz scene. Starting with his self-titled album in 1997 he continued with Vivid (2002), Everything Must Change (2002), Stay With Me (2004), A Song For You (2006), Heat (2008), Pure (2012), Soul Appeal (2014) Second Nature (2016) and Silver Lining (2018).

Michael Lington produced and composed the album together with keyboardist Barry Eastmond. Michael also attaches great importance to capturing the live atmosphere by inviting the participating musicians to record together in the studio.

In addition to Lington’s alto sax and Eastmond’s keys on all tracks, the musicians include Paul Jackson Jr. and Ray Parker Jr. on guitars, Freddie Washington and Alex Al on bass, Teddy Campbell on drums, Lenny Castro on percussion, and some other musicians like Jack Ashford on tambourine. The horns are arranged by Lester Snell and Barry Eastmond.

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Jazz Funk Soul – Life and Times

Contemporary jazz supergroup Jazz Funk Soul was originally founded by keyboardist Jeff Lorber, guitarist Chuck Loeb and sax player Everette Harp. Their same titled debut album unites their skills to create something that is greater than the sum of its participants. Making some impact on fellow musicians and audience is all the group want to do. Life and Times is the much anticipated sequel to More Serious Business (2016) – which included two # 1 Smooth Jazz radio hit singles! With three of today’s top hit makers: Jeff Lorber, Everett Harp, and Paul Jackson, Jr. – artists and producers responsible for selling millions of albums and achieving nearly 50 # 1 jazz radio hits!

Grammy winner Jeff Lorber is famed for launching the career of Kenny G and his productions and collaborations with the greats Dave Koz, Janet Jackson, Lalah Hathaway and Miles Davis. He is one of the most sought after producers and musicians in jazz! The Grammy nominated Paul Jackson, Jr. Is one of the most sought after guitarists in Michael Jackson’s Thriller, several Whitney Houston hits, and many more. Everette Harp has shared the stage with music giants Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, Billy Joel and Patti LaBelle. A real hit maker, Jazziz magazine praises his “incredible virtuosity”, the Jazz Times calls him “a rare talent”.

Highlights of the album include “Ready Freddi”, the super funky “Where You’re At” and the spirited “Exotic”. Scheduled for release January 25, 2019 on Shanachie Entertainment Group.

Isaac Edwards – Begin Again

Isaac Edwards finally reached a point in his life when he decided that he simply had to overcome past regrets in order pursue his dream. A newly married lawyer who litigated hundreds of cases by day during the four years he spent his nights and weekends writing, producing and recording his new album, the saxophonist will take a major step towards realizing his dream when “Begin Again” drops on February 22 on the Songs In My Pocket Music label. The disc mixed by hit saxman Darren Rahn will be preceded by the radio single, “Christina Christina,” an exotic Latin-singed seduction that goes for radio adds on January 14.

Armed with a bachelor’s degree in saxophone and a master’s degree in jazz after studying alongside widely-accomplished saxophonists Eric Marienthal and Jeff Clayton, Edwards has flirted with being a jazz musician by releasing a couple of albums in the early 2000s. The gospel-jazz outing “Here” (2002) was nominated for a Vibe Award, the Canadian equivalent to the Dove Awards. Two years later, his sophomore release, “I’m On My Way,” featured a collaboration with Grammy-winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum. Neither sets were promoted at radio as Edwards’ focus was on holding down his high-stress law position. But the fire inside never dimmed and in 2014, he wrote, recorded and released the new album’s title track as a single, earning most added honors at Billboard when it was serviced to radio. The theme of the song began Edwards’ creative journey that will only be complete when the album drops.

“This album is about starting over and second chances. Being a jazz artist is something I’ve dreamed about ever since I was a teenager. I’ve had some successes along the way and had some regrets as well. With this record, I’m finally putting those regrets in the rear-view mirror. My hope is that listeners will feel inspired to leave the past in the past and renew their hope for a brighter future. Just like the dawn of a new day, each moment in our lives is another chance to do that thing we’ve been dreaming of doing. The thing that keeps us up at night, that we spend our days dreaming about while we are at work. The fire that can’t be quenched; the drive we have deep inside. I believe that is what we need to be pursuing. That’s what this record is for me: it’s evidence that it’s never too late to start over, try something new or become more today than we were yesterday,” said the San Diego-based Edwards, who has opened for multiple Grammy-winning Christian pop icons Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. Continue reading

Mike Levine – From The Heart

South Florida based composer and pianist Mike Levine is according to his biography since 1981 a composer. He wrote for radio and television shows, commercial jingles and for numerous other musicians. Mike was engaged with the Ross-Levine Band. After that he was comfortable being a side man for several years but always continued writing.

Finally he made the first step to his solo career and released From The Heart in 2006. With the exception of one song Mike has written all tracks. He performs on this album piano or e-piano. He is joined by Hiram Bullock, Dan Warner (guitar), Lee Levin (drums), Richard Bravo (congas), Tony Concepcion, Jason Carder (trumpets), Dana Teboe (trombone), Julio Hernandez, Rafael Valencia, Nick Orta (bass), Mike Scaglioni, Ed Calle (sax), Dana Paul (vocals). Camillo Valencia creates the horn arrangement and Gary Lindsey the string arrangement on one track each.

Rarely do I like a piece of music after the first bars. Headin Home is such an exceptional example. Melody, rhythm and the horn arrangement are highly infectious and equally inspiring. From the Heart is another sonic treasure of the melody man, who tells melodies and doesn’t just play them.

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