Archive for March, 2020

Jim Richter – Mr. Kool

The “Mr. Kool” album represents a continuation of the type of music that Jim Richter has been writing for several years. Jim’s last album, “Breezy Day,” made it into the Top 100 on the Smooth Jazz Album and Smooth Jazz “Indie” charts in 2019. Jim’s latest, “Mr. Kool,” isn’t traditional jazz, nor is it purely smooth jazz. There are even a few hints of instrumental rock in the style of Steely Dan. The album features jazzy guitar, keyboard, and sax solos. The music is in Jim’s original style based on his background in classical music, jazz, and rock. Listeners will be able to hear echoes of Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour, Bob James, and Dave Grusin, among others.

Buy this album on CDBaby.

Today is the last day of the CDBaby shop! 

Nils – Caught In The Groove

LA based jazz guitarist Nils belongs to the first guard of top guitarists of the smooth jazz genre with albums like Blue Planet (1998), Pacific Coast Highway (2005), Ready To Play (2007), Up Close And Personal (2009), What The Funk (2010), City Groove (2012),  Alley Cat (2015), and Play (2018). His new album Caught In The Groove (2020) meets an audience in difficult times.

Nils plays on the album guitars, synths, Rhodes and programming. He is supported on selected tracks by Oliver C. Brown (percussion), Johnny Britt (organ, vocals and horns), Mitch Forman (piano), Derrick Dmar Martin, Tony Moore, Gorden Cambell (drums), Darryl Williams, Reggie McBride, Darryl Jones, Carsten Schmelzer (bass), Clydene Jackson (Rhodes), and Dov and the LoveStar Strings (live string section).

The album is started by the title track, a dynamic rollover in soft rock infused style of the 80’s pushing you to the next level of groove. Mitch Forman on piano and Johnny Britt on horns add some special glam up to the sonic hit train. The uplifting Good Times are Better brings back the Pacific Coast feeling, which makes smooth jazz so great.

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Gerry Smoot – My Philosophy

Born in Owensboro, the industrial, medical, retail and cultural hub of western Kentucky; Gerry Smoot let the elements of his surroundings birth a multi-instrumentalist musician. The dedication and passion for music was a born identity. This vision manifested itself when at the age of 15, Gerry accompanied gospel jazz keyboard producer Ben Tankard on the organ. He set his sights high on international exposure with his keyboard accompaniment behind international jazz saxophonist Rob White.

My Philosophy is the 4th album that has been released following up with “The Inquirer”. If you love smooth jazz, then this album is also for you.

You can download this album until end of March at CDBaby.

Rod Best – Fascination

Hailing from Gayndah, Queensland in Australia multi-instrumentalist Rod Best is an unknown factor for most smooth jazz fans. On the other hand, there are an enormous number of musical albums waiting to be discovered.

Listed on CDBaby are among others Best Of Smooth (2015), The Best of Christmas (2015), The Best of Rod Best (2016), A Peaceful Place (2018), The Next Level and Soul Soothing (2019). In addition you find on his website the album Groove On (2018). His new album is Fascination (2020). This instrumental album includes tracks in the Smooth Jazz, Latin and Easy Listening genres and features piano, electric piano, drums, percussion, bass, organ, saxophones, flute, guitars and pads.

Get it on CDBaby before they close the shop.

Pierre Bensusan – Azwan

Best laid plans, right? After spending the last few years off the concert trail in order to meticulously craft a new album, “Azwan,” preceded by an accompanying book, “Pierre Bensusan Guitar Collection,” and the unveiling of a handmade Lowden Guitars signature model, all of which were to be supported by an extensive 110-date US and Canadian concert tour running from March 7 into July, world music fingerstyle guitar virtuoso Pierre Bensusan suddenly finds himself back home on French soil after having to pull the plug one week into the concert trek due to the Coronavirus outbreak. While the entire tour is being rebooked for 2021, until then, listeners will have to discover the magic and masterful musicianship showcased on the 12-track digital and CD release composed and coproduced by Bensusan for his 3DADGAD Vision label, which is distributed by MVD Entertainment Group.

The COVID-19 global pandemic that has ensnared humanity underscores the oneness of our world and our interlocked connectivity. That’s Bensusan’s message and the meaning behind “Azwan,” the award-winning artist’s 15th album that dropped March 13. The French-Algerian guitarist-vocalist said, “Along my life’s journey, I have experienced unity off and on, being more or less aware of the impact and influence of every action upon the entire universe. As time goes on, the more I feel connected to all people, animals and universally to the whole of nature. Being that we are all connected, my intention is that every action and behavior contributes, supports and adds value to our interconnectivity, especially through my music. It feels like a nurturing or even a healing process for me and those with whom I share the music.”

Voted by Guitar Player magazine readers as Best World Music Guitarist, Bensusan’s music is contemplative, wistful, sublime and prodigiously performed with inspiration rooted in nature. “The concept of ‘Azwan’ came from observing bees, those solar insects working in the darkness together as one, and by observing flocks of birds flying and dancing together as one. It has been an inspiring symbolic representation of the continuum of music. When seeing ‘Azwan’ written, it can evoke a place, a city or a mood, but when hearing it said out loud, it sounds like ‘as one.’ I’ve been contemplating all the music from ‘Azwan’ for years before actually recording it, taking time to allow all the notes to come together as one.” Continue reading

U-Nam – U-Nam Goes Big Band

Guitarist U-Nam is commonly known for his skillful reinterpretation of the style of George Benson and Nile Rodgers, which runs through many of his albums. His recourse to the funky music of the 70s and 80s is also popular. But with his new album U-Nam Goes Big Band (2020) he now falls back on the traditional big band music as known from Duke Ellington or Glen Miller.

The album is based on a collaboration between U-Nam and the Lutz Krajenski Big Band. The band leader Lutz Krajenski has already performed with Tom Jones, Ulrich Tukur, Roachford, Inga Rumpf, Udo Jürgens, Randy Crawford, Jasmin Tabatabai, Mousse T and more. One can therefore speak of a pronounced tendency towards popular music, which has been translated into the language of jazz.

U-Nam performs on this album lead and whawha guitar, Lutz “Hammond” Krajenski acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes keyboards and band leader, Thorten Benkenstein, Phillip Kacza & Nicolas Boysen trumpet and flugelhorn, Gunter Bollmann & Andreas Barkhoff trombone, Sebastian Hoffmann bass trombone, Bjorne Berger & Fiete Felsh alto sax, Gabriel Coburger & Ben Kraef tenor sax, Bjorne Berger, Fiete Felsh, Gabriel Coburger & Edgar Herzog flute, Bjorne Berger clarinet, Edgar Herzog bass clarinet,  and baritone sax, Sandra Hempel rhythm guitar, Peter Gall drums, Herve Jeanne double bass & electric bass, Rainer V. Egestoff mouth harp & vibes, Ricardo Padilla & Denis Benarrosh percussion,  Susanna Aleksandra & Steve Brookstein vocals.

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Skinny Hightower – Blue Moon

As dynamic and infectious as the hits that made composer, keyboardist and producer Skinny Hightower a force in urban jazz are, the deeply emotional, multi-faceted story behind his extraordinary new album Blue Moon lets us know that the artist himself was destined for bigger, funkier, more soul-satisfying realms.

His fans can certainly delight in the vast, 70’s influenced fusion of R&B, funk, jazz, atmospheric Curtis Mayfield-Isaac Hayes sensuality and blaxploitation craziness without knowing the long version of his musical and spiritual transformation. In a nutshell, Hightower was doubting the meaning of his life and his creative purpose. Digging into his wife’s collection of 70’s soul albums helped cure his depression, stopped his self-questioning in its tracks and set his soul free. Channeling these muses and fusing them into his own, gospel and jazz grown sensibilties, he wrote over 100 songs and developed 24 of them into a double CD (unheard of these days) that is more like an inspiring musical event than just an album release.

Blue Moon is probably best experienced as a continuous immersive flow that captures the stream of consciousness Hightower experienced when he felt his spirit unshackling. Yet for fans old and new who prefer consumption in smaller doses, a few remarkable entry points present themselves along the way. The most logical of these is “Bittersweet,” the high energy, hard grooving, horn-fired (and super melodic) retro-keyboard jam (and first single) that captures the overall relentless jubilation of the project. The thick bottomed “Mr. Sims” and skin-tight, boisterous and gospelly, organ fired “Holy Funk”” similarly capture this nonstop wild key and hi-hat abandon with punchy horn accents. Continue reading

Angela Puxi – Isle Of Fire

Saxophonist Angela Puxi, grew up in the Ruhr area, her origin is however Sardinia. Inspired by her aspiration for perfection and her own musical creativity, she began her studies for jazz saxophone at the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in Arnhem (NL), where she graduated with the Bachelor of Music (Jazz and Pop).

In summer 2012 her first EP Senza Parole was released, a rather rocky-hymnal oeuvre. Authenticity, her captivating nature and her Sardinian temperament make Puxi to a distinctive sympathizer. With Volker Dorsch as keyboarder and co-producer, she found a congenial partner for developing new songs at the beginning of 2013, and finally both released in 2015 Angela’s debut album Badapapapaa.

Isle Of Fire stands for the island of Sardinia, the land of her roots, its landscape, culture and the closeness to nature of its inhabitants. Her new album was released March 20, 2020 and is available in all stores.

Nils – Caught in the Groove

The cool, crafty title of Nils’ latest BAJA/TSR album says it all about his studio and onstage state of mind. A decade and a half after riding his #1 hit “Pacific Coast Highway” into contemporary jazz history as Billboard’s Song of the Decade 2001-2010, the relentlessly prolific composer, guitarist and producer remains joyfully Caught in the Groove, creating instantly infectious, sonically adventurous tracks for himself and numerous artists eager to vibe with the energy of his Midas touch.

As smooth jazz radio – where he’s scored over 15 Top 20 hits, including “Let’s Bounce,” “Georgy Porgy,” “Ready to Play,” “Catnap” and 2011 Song of the Year “Jumpstart” – gears up for the impact of Caught in the Groove’s funky, high octane lead single “Good Times Are Better,” Nils is enjoying ongoing success on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Songs chart as producer and co-writer of pianist Lisa Addeo’s “Listen to This,” the first new title to reach the pole position in 2020.

Another collaboration, “It’s A Party” with fellow guitarist Keith Andrew, is currently rising on the independent jazz charts. He recently played at L.A.’s famed Troubadour with Ayline Artin, an emerging indie rock singer he is producing, and has had his hand in successful releases in recent years by independent instrumental artists Reza Khan, Alvin Pope, Reggie Codrington, Catch the Groove, Brian Simpson, Nate Harasim, and Tony Saunders. Nils is also very active on social media, with over 7,000 followers on his Facebook artists page and some 2,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel; his clips for “Pacific Coast Highway” has more than half a million views to date. This spring and summer, he will be on the road performing assorted festival dates with Steve Oliver and Tim Bowman as part of the all-star collective Guitar G-Force.

The secrets of Nils’ unparalleled success? It starts with a keen ear for hooks, a colorful spirit of experimentation with sounds and grooves, and a trademark vibe rooted in his mastery of the Custom Valley Arts guitar, the trusty musical companion he bought shortly after moving to Los Angeles from his native Munich in the mid-80’s. Beyond that, it’s all about the incredible team of mostly L.A. based musicians he calls in each time to help him not only realize his musical vision, but take it over the top. Continue reading

Frank Piombo – Family Concept

New York based guitarist Frank Piombo reached with eight the American shores. Today he is a mainstay in the New York Metropolitan Area, where he has built a solid fan basis.

He started his solo career with Smooth Reminiscence (2010), followed by Sleepwalk (2011) and The Night Speaks – A Smooth Jazz Journey, which was awarded as the best jazz/ambient album for Jan, 2016 by The Academia Music Awards.

His newest project is entitled Family Concept (2020). This album is dedicated to and inspired by Frank’s great family encompassing three generations.

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