Archive for September, 2020

Alexander Zonjic – Playing It Forward

You need to have patience when you are waiting for a new album by Detroit flutist Alexander Zonjic. His previous album Doin’ The D was released in 2009 and Seldom Blues in 2004. If the Corona virus had not stopped his previous concert activities, we would probably still be expecting it in vain today.

So we can look forward with joyful anticipation to his new album Playing It Forward that will be released October 9, 2020 on his company’s Hi-Falutin Music label. The company name is taken from the same named track on his album Neon (1991).

His new album even features the late guitarist Chuck Loeb, who recorded his songs in 2017. For the curious among you, I have listed all musicians involved in the project in the credits. Among the many familiar faces I discover Justin Lee Schultz for the first time, the wunderkind of smooth jazz.

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Adonis Rose – Piece of Mind

Grammy Award-winning New Orleans drummer Adonis Rose is scheduled to release his latest album Adonis Rose Piece Of Mind Live At Blue LLama, on September 25, 2020, on the historic Storyville Records Jazz imprint. The album, recorded live last summer at the Blue LLama Jazz Club in Ann Arbor, MI, features a stellar line-up including Tia Fuller (alto saxophone); Maurice Brown (trumpet); Sasha Masakowski (vocals); Miki Hayama (piano/keyboards); and Jasen Weaver (bass).

Piece of Mind is Rose’s first released live album. While it was recorded in the late Spring of 2019, he feels the project is being released at a pivotal time amidst today’s turbulent backdrop. Music, he feels, transmits a powerful energy that is vital, and it can forcefully portray one’s expressions of freedom and celebration, love and liberation, camaraderie, expression, empathy, and change. Rose states, “The bandstand is a safe place to address difficult issues, and we were able to transcend the space and provide the audience with a heartfelt unique experience.”

The live recording idea culminated from an exchange of ideas between Rose and Blue LLama’s Artistic Director, Dave Sharp that took place during the design phase of the club. It became apparent early on that the Blue LLama Jazz Club would be a unique and intimate performance space, and a perfect opportunity to assemble an A-list group for one of the club’s first live recordings. From that point forward, Rose created the group’s concept, which was inspired by the VSOP Quintet from the late 1970s, and started selecting the musical repertoire. The collective’s focus would be both touring and recording, and he knew synergy would be paramount in forming the group’s overall dynamic and sound. Rose selected artists with whom he had collaborated with, and who had also collaborated previously amongst themselves. The result was four sold out shows that transmitted an uncanny energy and fluidity throughout each evening of music. Rose is very pleased that the group could create the sound and aura of his vision, and is grateful to have captured the intensity and artistry with the live recording. “The energy in the room during our shows was electric from start to finish. This is a special group of musicians and I’m excited about upcoming opportunities to tour the world performing this music!”

The album is available at

Nils Wülker – GO

The title is tailor-made for a musician, a person like Nils Wülker – always on the move, curious and forward thinking, a head full of musical ideas, a man who lives with the Hamburg family moves to Munich because he is closer to the mountains there, someone who became a father for the first time a year ago and who is writing, producing and recording his most exciting album almost at the same time. Everything on go.

»GO« is Nils Wülker’s excursion into elegant electronics and completes an album trilogy that has been experienced over at least five years, for which the at least as charismatic as visionary trumpeter / songwriter us with »UP« to pop and with »ON« to hip hop has seduced. His tenth studio album, with all the analog synthesizers, the arpeggiator, the organic loops and beats, is »at most not live«, as the »great melodist« (Die Zeit) says, but in contrast with some of his most beautiful and emotional songs to date – and the most direct and dynamic trumpet playing beyond his live albums and concerts. Produced with Ralf Christian Mayer, known from his work with Clueso or Fanta 4, and composed entirely by himself, the ten pieces by »GO« show the most extreme and energetic side of the award-winning musician to date – played with members of his popular live band, plus the Viennese keyboardist Albin Janoska, the sound expert behind SOHN, and the American trumpeter Theo Croker in the anything but sterile corona distance duo “Highline”

“For this production, it was good to have made the live album right before that, as contradicting as that sounds,” says Nils Wülker and immediately explains what “GO” owes to its 2019 live album “Decade”. »I have now worked more ‘live’ in the studio, I was able to bring in more dynamics through playing the trumpet and take this human element with me through the trumpet. It also strengthened my way of working. Maybe that’s why I got help with the sounds, but wrote the songs completely myself, without co-writings, as on the last two albums. ”Another not exactly obvious aspect in the development process of“ GO ”was the program “The Art of the Duo”, with which Nils Wülker went on tour with his long-time guitar partner Arne Jansen at the end of 2019. Just like in this enthusiastically received concert series, the trumpet is not just a melody and solo instrument, but also takes on other functions – looped into surfaces, filtered, rhythmically chopped up or alienated.

Even if »GO« had its beginnings at a time when at most virologists at Corona did not think of a Mexican beer brand, it fits in perfectly with the current situation. “I tried to accept the situation as it is and to use it creatively,” says Nils Wülker, referring to various “isolation buster actions” on the album. »Even before Corona, I had the idea of ​​exploring for myself what soundscapes I can only generate with my non-harmony instrument, especially after the duo tour, on which we often accompanied each other with our own loops, but now it was just perfect. «This becomes evident in the above-mentioned collaboration with Theo Croker, where both musicians were” alone, not lonely “during the recordings, as Nils Wülker calls it, because although everyone was sitting in his studio, But they could still be creative and exchange ideas together at a distance. Continue reading

Doug Jones – Tonight

Hailing from Connecticut saxophonist Doug Jones is as leader of the Doug Jones Group frequently performing in selected American jazz clubs, when the Corona virus allows it. His solo projects encompasses the albums Heart and Soul (1994), Shades Of Gray (2002), Top Down (2013), Secrets (2016) and Crossing Lines (2018). In 2019 he recorded the Christmas album Home For Christmas. This year Doug presents the EP Tonight.

Doug wrote, arranged, produced and recorded all of the songs except New Situation. This  song was created by producer/keyboardist Chris “Big Dog” Davis where Doug came up with the melody for the song.

Doug introduces into his new project with the title song featuring himself in all his facets as multi-instrumentalist. His real strength is undoubtedly the saxophone, on which he is at his peak form.

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Dominic Carmadella – Soothe

‘Soothe’ is a hand selected collection of instrumental music composed, recorded, and produced by Dom Camardella. It is intended to deliver emotional enrichment and solace to all of us as we navigate and wrestle with the disruption we have experienced in our society and its impact on our day to day lives in 2020. Music has the unique ability to allow us to immerse ourselves in its message and calm emotions and restlessness as we listen. While listening to ‘Soothe’ I suggest you put on a great set of earbuds/headphones and turn up the stereo, turn down the lights and relax as you bathe in its panorama.

Stylistically, ‘Soothe’ borrows from the sounds and rhythms we hear in the world today. It is influenced by new jazz, world music, funky grooves, and pop music but intentionally steers clear of any one specific category or genre. My intention is that no listener will feel left out of the journey and will find something familiar and alluring here. Ultimately my hope is that it’s combination of sounds, rhythms and melodies will resonate with you. Much like the warmth of the sun, nature, and loved ones, music is food and healing for our souls and general well-being.

Special thanks to my contributors whose empathy and emotional performances enhanced the project: Dave Bryant (drums and percussion), Jonathan Dane (trumpet and flugelhorn), Alberto Negroni( guitar), and my son, Adam Camarderlla (drums and percussion).

Stream this collection on all major platforms.

Till Brönner – On Vacation

Together with jazz legend and Grammy award winner Bob James, trumpeter Till Brönner – Germany’s most successful jazz musician – has transformed holiday moods into a multi-layered soundscape. Close your eyes and dream: “For me,› On Vacation ‹is first and foremost a feeling and we have turned this feeling into music,” explains Brönner. Virtuoso, full of creative love for refined details and at the same time of the greatest possible nonchalance, Brönner and James create an imaginative and sonorous music for inspiration, for reflection and daydreaming. Together with their fantastic fellow musicians, they combine melodic subjects over a dynamically woven rhythm primer and mysteriously shimmering textures to create colorful musical soundscapes and create a shimmering sound for and about the relaxed moments in the here and now. “These recordings definitely feel different to anything I’ve done before,” explains Brönner – and you can hear that.

With the track “September Morn” the first single of the new record is now released: an interpretation of the title track from Neil Diamond’s 1979 album of the same name. Till Brönner and Bob James interpret the song as a relaxed jazz ballad. The piece is mainly carried by the warm tone of the trumpet, while James lays the foundation for the piece with gently struck chords in the background. A wonderful soundtrack for the second half of the year, which already makes you want the album of the two jazz greats.

Pre-order the album here.

Eric Essix – Songs From The Deep

Eric Essix’s decision to live for music was influenced by a Weather Report concert, which Eric attended in 1977. In 1988 he debuted with his solo album First Impressions followed by Second Thoughts (1991), Third Degree Burn (1993), Eric Essix & Modern Man, LIVE!, Beautiful Music, Guitar, Just Like You (1995), The Modern Man Recordings (1993-1994), Small Talk (1998), Southbound (2000), Blue (2002), Somewhere In Alabama (2004), Abide With Me (2005), Retrospective: Volume One (2006), Birmingham (2009), My Gift To You (2010), Eric Essix (2012), Evolution (2013), The Isley Sessions (2014), Eric Essix’s Move > Trio (2015), This Train (2016), More (2018), followed by the anthology Moments (2018).

His newest project is Songs From The Deep (2020). Eric explains: “The record is a return, after 11 years, to one of my favorite themes; growing up and living in “The Deep” South. It is also the first album I have personally produced and mixed in over 15 years. It brings together again the core unit of myself, drummer Marcus E Finnie and Grammy nominated keyboardist, bassist and producer, Kelvin Wooten for our third record along with Essential’s biggest releases, “Evolution” and “The Isley Sessions”. The album also features some amazing guest performances by vocalist Kaleah Wooten, bassist Sean Michael Ray, drummer PJ Spraggins, keyboardist West Byrd and trumpeter Melvin Jones.”

Due to the decrease of physical CD sales and the increase in subscriptions to streaming platforms like Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal and others, Essential Recordings is only pressing a very limited run of under 500 CDs for this release. So copies of “Songs From The Deep” will go very quickly. Your purchase of either a signed copy of the new album or one of the now VERY limited bundles on the website, will go a long way toward helping Essential Recordings continue to create and release new music through this pandemic and beyond.

Calvin Brooks – Rose My Dear

Music standing the test of time, the recording started in Detroit, has now spread across the world. Jazzy vocals, instrumentals, beautiful love songs. Music with a meaning, haunting melodies, feel good music for everyone. Especially the title song My Favorite Thing featuring Hari Paris was often played at radio stations around Chicago.

Calvin Brooks’ love of music and his undeniable talent garnered him a “gig” with Martha Reeves and the Vandellas of Motown fame. For fifteen years he toured the world and shared the stage with the premiere entertainers of the 1970’, 80’s and 90’s fine tuning his vocal skills and becoming a virtuoso on the guitar. Calvin’s influences are many, however Wes Montgomery, Grant Green and George Benson top the list.

In 2003 Jeff Popp met Calvin Brooks and after finding they had similar experiences and a unwavering love of music they became an impressive duo. Showcasing their vocal and instrumental skills they cover the sounds of Motown as well as the jazz standards to great reviews.

These recordings are standing the test of time:

    • A Smooth Flight, 1989

    • My Favorite Things, 1991
    • C Breeze, 1994

    • Rose My Dear, 1997

    • An Evening In Las Vegas, 2000

    • What a Wonderful World, 2007

Calvin Brooks died September 19, 2020. Rest in peace.

Brad Alexander – Straight Up

Brad Alexander, a Los Angeles native, has been in the music business for many years. As an accomplished music producer, songwriter and pianist he has assisted many other artist in presenting their music to the world. He has served as a keyboard player for artist in different genres of music, but Smooth Jazz is where his heart is. Alexander’s love for music and his musical artistry is evident.

On August 23, 2016 Alexander released his debut CD project entitled “Just Between Us”, where he showcases his high caliber musicianship and soulful sounds with many original compositions such as “Feel Da Music” featuring Grammy nominated saxophonist Gerald Albright, “Missing You” featuring accomplished saxophonist Jackiem Joyner, super covers of great hits such as Chaka Khans “Through the Fire” featuring bass player Andre Gouche’ and Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day”.

He has a new release scheduled for September 2020. It showcases some new music as well as a cover of The Gap Band’s :Yearning For Your Love.” This CD project is sure to leave a lasting impression on the smooth jazz community.  Straight Up is now available on Brad’s website.

Rick Habana – The Collective

Rick Habana is a talented producer, songwriter, engineer and composer with a passion for blending music genres together to create his original sound. In Los Angeles, Ca, were he was born and raised, he succeeded in creating his really unique sound that has landed him numerous music placements with many of the top television station not just In the US but around the world.

Rick has also started breaking new barriers on a project called “The Collective” where he works on mostly live music with international musicians and singers from all over the world. “The Collective” project consist of live drums, sax, trumpets, trombone, guitars, bass, piano and vocalists. Connecting with musicians based in Finland, Italy, Netherlands, London, Canada, Venezuela, South Africa, Spain and Sweden to create this project has been a dream come true for Rick. “The Collective” Volume 1 also has Smooth Jazz legend Paul Brown featured on the project.

Now available on all major digital platforms.