Archive for July, 2020

Takuya Kuroda – Fly Moon Die Soon

First Word Records is extremely proud to welcome aboard Takuya Kuroda. A highly-respected trumpeter born in Kobe, Japan, Takuya is a forward-thinking musician that has developed a unique hybrid sound, blending soulful jazz, funk, post-bop, fusion and hip hop music. After following the footsteps of his trombonist brother playing in big bands, he relocated to New York to study jazz & contemporary music at The New School in Union Square; a course he graduated from in the mid-noughties. It was here that Takuya met vocalist José James, with whom he worked on the ‘Blackmagic’ and ‘No Beginning No End’ projects.

Following graduation, Takuya established himself further in the NYC jazz scene, performing with the likes of Akoya Afrobeat and in recent years with DJ Premier’s BADDER band (also including acclaimed bass player, Brady Watt). Premier said “The BADDER Band project was put together by my manager, and an agent I’ve known since the beginning of my Gang Starr career. He said, ‘What if you put a band together that revolved around a trumpet player from Japan named Takuya Kuroda? He’s got a hip-hop perspective and respect in the jazz field…”Takuya Kuroda is already incredibly prolific, releasing five albums in the past decade and fortifying a solid reputation in the global jazz scene. 2011 saw the release of Takuya’s independently-produced debut album, ‘Edge’, followed by ‘Bitter and High’ the following year and ‘Six Aces’ on P-Vine in 2013. Takuya was signed to the legendary Blue Note Records in 2014 for his album ‘Rising Son’, as well as appearing on their 2019 cover versions project, ‘Blue Note Voyage’. He released his 5th album ‘Zigzagger’ on Concord in 2016, which also featured Antibalas on a reimagining of the Donald Byrd classic ‘Think Twice’.

Late Summer 2020, Takuya Kuroda returns with his sixth album ‘Fly Moon Die Soon’. In his words, “this album is about the irony between the greatness of nature and the beautiful obsceneness of humanity. Melodies and grooves fly back and forth from being spiritual to being vulgar.”
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The Groove Project – Volume 1: Flights Of Fantasy

The Groove Project was formed in Los Angeles, California as a 14-piece group by GRAMMY® Award nominated Artist & Producer Arun Shenoy in 2016. The original lineup released a debut concept jazz-funk album titled A Stagey Bank Affair in the same year. The group has since grown into an international super-band with the lineup shuffled in 2019 by Shenoy into an 8-piece group. Only Shenoy from the original lineup remain on the current roster.

After releasing a series of singles, the band released their second album on June 26, 2020. Titled Volume 1: Flights Of Fantasy, the music is a smooth jazz concept album about man’s fascination with flight. The band has released 3 music videos in support of the album for the tracks “Beyond the Atmosphere”, “First Flight” and “Bird On a Wire (Song for Mo)”. 2 other tracks “Pilot” and “Shadows” have picked up significant traction on mainstream terrestrial and digital radio in major markets across the US. 2 other tracks “Leap of Faith” and “Beyond the Atmosphere” have been picked up by Spotify Editorial Playlists, Sax and the City and Smooth Drive respectively.

The lineup for this new album is fronted by Shenoy and acclaimed producer Matthew Shell, alongside keyboardist & vocalist Lonnie Park. The 3 principals along with saxophonist Marcus Mitchell and keyboardist David Joubert are collectively credited with songwriting. As part of their international lineup, the airtight rhythm section is locked down by Glenn Welman from UK on the drums and Hector Ruano from Venezuela on bass. Guitarist Samituru from Norway brings his maverick guitar work to the music. The vocalization by Park adds a unique signature sound to the high energy sound of the group’s music. Park also serves as the mix engineer for the group while Shell serves as the primary songwriter for the project. Notable members and guests of the band have included Jeff Coffin from the Dave Matthew Band, Weird “Al” Yankovic guitarist Jim Kimo West, Ed Roth from Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatballs and GRAMMY® Award nominated arranger, Don Hart.

Download this album on Amazon.com.

Kenny Carr – Hard Jazz

Guitarist Kenny Carr had the pleasure of touring worldwide with Ray Charles for over 10 years. He was lead guitar for the recordings Just Between Us and Live at Montreux. Since Charles’ passing, Carr performed in Maceo Parker’s Ray Charles tribute big band in addition to headlining NYC’s premier jazz clubs with his Quartet. Carr’s discography of titles including: Friday at Five (2005), Turn the Page (2006), Changing Tide (2007), Idle Talk (2015), Exit Moon (2015), Departure (2018), and Passages (2020).

His new album is Hard Jazz (June 2020), Carr’s eighth album. He takes listeners down a different path to explore his other love of music aside from blues and jazz…rock and roll. In this collection of 10 original tunes backed by acclaimed drummer Richie Morales and guest players, Carr revives a number of compositions drafted across his 40 years of playing and writing. “It was an itch I needed to scratch,” says Carr of his motivation to turn to rock after focusing on jazz and blues. “Richie and I had so much fun jamming one day, I wanted to see where it took us. The genres are cousins after all, and a lot of my past albums have a blend of jazz, blues and some rock elements. I did something similar with Exit Moon a few years ago.”

Indeed, Carr’s jazz has often leaned toward the melodic and bluesy, an influence of Ray Charles, yet Hard Jazz doesn’t abandon jazz completely, with improvised solos and fundamental jazz structures. Carr notes that many of the tunes were written years ago but had been buried, “A couple of the pieces date back to my teens, and I was definitely wearing my heart on my sleeve on a few others” Richie and I recorded these pieces just prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic, but I decided to release the album now, much earlier than planned, because the pandemic made it feel more relevant. Everyone is grieving and going through different shocks right now, but also celebrating heroes and recoveries. I felt all of that in these tunes.”
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Demetrius Houser – West Coast Groove

Hailing from San Bernadino now Riverside, California resident gifted keyboardist Demetrius Houser created Power of Love. Peaceful and smooth love music. Easy listening. A project for music lovers all over the world. Demetrius Houser makes sure your ears are satisfied and that you vibe to the groove.

His new album is entitled West Coast Groove.

Get this album on Amazon.com.

Paul Hardcastle – Hardcastle IX

Many have remembered Paul Hardcastle through his huge hits King Tut19Just For Money or Rainforest. However, he was never able to build on these really great successes again.  But the smooth jazz community knows him all the better through his numerous series like Kiss the Sky (with Jaki Graham) and The Jazzmasters, as well as under his real name Paul Hardcastle.

The latest The Jazzmasters album was VII in 2014, Hardcastle VIII was released in 2018, The Chill Lounge Vol. 3 in 2015 and The Chill Lounge Vol. 4 in April, 2020. If you want to get an overview of his complete works, I recommend this website.

Paul Hardcastle is one of those musicians who deny themselves live performances. This is probably mainly due to the fact that he creates most of his albums as a multi-instrumentalist. Also on his latest album he crafts his music on this solo way. Flugelhorn player Gary Winters, saxophonist Rock Hendricks, and vocalist Maxine Hardcastle, his daughter, are as well on this recordings.

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LuiSaxo – Always Moving Forward

Ten years in the making, Always Moving Forward is not simply the debut album by Mexican born saxophonist Luis Gerardo Villarreal Aranda (aka LuiSaxo). It could also be the multi-faceted soundtrack to his dramatic, inspiring life of overcoming the odds. The collection’s lighthearted and funky, frequently intense and furious, deeply cinematic and often romantic and steamy vibes perfectly reflect the ups and downs of his life as a printer/designer, jazz club owner, hotelier and survivor of a serious lung infection.

His mastery of all four saxes, impact compositional style and use of symphonic strings creates a wondrous sonic cocktail that is Siempre Adelante!

You can buy this album on iTunes.

Damien Escobar – Songs from a Breakthrough

Damien Escobar is a world renowned violinist, author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, hailing from Jamaica, Queens, New York. His musical career spans over a decade, and his inspiring journey of making it big, losing it all, fighting to rebuild, and getting a second chance at success is as much apart of his brand identity than being among the top violinist in the world. Looking back at his journey, Damien realizes it all  needed to fall apart so he could be forced to grow while putting it back together the right way. Prevailing was a process and it started with unburying his talent– his love of playing the violin. And in 2013 Damien released his first album as a solo artist, “Sensual Melodies.”

Motivated by his past and grateful for his fans and future, Damien went on to release his second album, “Boundless.” Songs from a Breakthrough is his third album, released in April 2020.

You can find this album on Amazon.com.

Michael Silverman – Human Spirit

While you may have never heard his name, you’ve almost certainly heard his music. Michael Silverman is one of the most streamed and downloaded instrumentalists in the world, with over six billion streams on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon. His classical recordings can be heard in hundreds of televisions during film productions, including “The Good Wife,” “Two and a Half Men” and “American Horror Story.”

He and his brother Rob Silverman have built an empire in the instrumental music world when they founded Autumn Hill Records in 2007, streaming over three million tracks daily in a variety of styles, ranging from classical to new age to world music. With 14 number one albums on iTunes in the US, and countless others on charts around the world, Autumn Hill Records has become a leader in instrumental music.

When Michael’s friend Jeff Lorber asked to collaborate on a contemporary jazz album, Silverman was thrilled at the opportunity. Lorber is not only a musical legend, but recently won a Grammy Award for his most recent album, Prototype. In the world of contemporary jazz, no one is more prolific and omnipresent on the charts as a band leader, a composer and a producer of so many of his fellow artists. He is responsible for much of the current sound of the genre, bringing new elements of what he incorporates from pop and R&B hits into the cutting edge of jazz, and has been doing so for more than four decades. Continue reading

Norman Brown – Heart To Heart

Louisiana born guitar star Norman Brown is not only popular among his fans, affectionately called the Normantics. It speaks for his quality that every music critic thinks highly of him and he also enjoys an excellent reputation among famous musicians like Gorge Benson. Everything is confirmed by sales figures that go into the platinum range and finally his work is crowned by winning a GRAMMY.

Norman is not a musician who rests on his merits, he is dedicated to his music with too much heart blood. His newest project is Heart To Heart, which will be released on August 7, 2020. This is his 12th album and the third on Shanachie Entertainment. Norman called and they all came. The following musicians have joined his project: Lew Laing (keys), Roberto Vally (bass), Paul Brown (drums and Wah Wah guitar), Lee Thornburg (trumpet and horn arrangement), Greg Vail (sax), Lenny Castro (percussion), Peter White (nylon guitar), Jeff Carruthers (keys, drum and bass programming), Jeff Lorber (piano, keys), Teddy Campbell (drums), Gregg Karukas (keys), David Mann (horns), Chris “Big Dog” Davis (drums, bass, keyboards programming), Phil Davis (keys and drum programming), Sonny Emory (drums), Sean Michael Ray (bass), Gary Novak (drums), Nate Kearny (bass), Lil’ John Roberts (drums), Tres Gilbert (bass), and Ira Moore IV (vocals).

Legendary guitarist Wes Montgomery is one of Norman’s idols, deeply influencing his music. Heading Wes is Norman’s tribute to this guitar giant and also to Norman’s father who was an avid lover of Wes’ music. The combination of Norman Brown and Peter White on the title track promises a musical delicacy and indeed both masters of their instruments find the perfect harmonies and interplay.

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Herb Partlow – Next Level

Composer and multi-instrumentalist Herb Partlow has been a radio personality, producer and artist, manager, recording and mastering engineer. This music industry veteran is excited to have released his fourth contemporary jazz project. NEXT LEVEL is the title track from his same-titled album.

Playing keyboards, piano, bass, and drums, he lays a dynamic foundation with a groove intensive flow. Saxophonist DeLon Charley and guitarist Ricardo Love take Partlow’s vision and vibe into the urban jazz fusion stratosphere! He incorporates elements of jazz, funk and hip-hop to create jazz music with a slightly harder edge. It is very smooth and jazzy music, but it also knocks with 808 kicks and drum rhythms that will appeal to the younger generation, as well as the traditional smooth jazz consumers. This is “jazz music for a new generation.”

Next Level is on sale at Amazon.com.