Archive for November, 2020

Valery Evlanov – City Stars

Valery Evlanov was born in Moscow, Russia. At the age of 7, he began to study piano at a music school. After graduating, he became inspired by the Beatles music, and started learning the guitar. In 2001, he graduated the Moscow College of Pop an Jazz music. From 2000 till 2004, he was a member of the song and dance group “Sky of Russia” as a guitarist. 2003-2005, he was a guitarist and composer of the popular Russian group “The Fifth Ocean”, which was famous for their songs “The World”, “The Border”, “Rota” and etc. Since 2002, Valery has been performing jazz music. He created jazz quartet “Vintage” with jazz violinist Anton Zholondz. In 2016, he graduated from the Gnesins Russian Academy of Music, one of the most world famous school of music. Valery got a bachelor degree as a guitarist in modern pop and jazz music. And in 2019, he received his masters degree for instrumental jazz music.

In 2018, his first album On the Other Side was released. His new album is City Stars (2020). The new album is available as download on Amazon.com.

BJ Simmons – We Wear The Mask

An American saxophonist, recording artist, and producer, BJ Simmons is a rare instrumental talent capable of reaching mass audiences. He has performed around the world with widely recognized musicians, worked as a resident artist in Bahrain, and contributed to educating countless students in his hometown of Washington DC. In 2014, BJ released his solo debut with the groundbreaking ‘Acronyms.’ The album’s boundary pushing explorations marked the arrival of a major new talent. Currently, he is promoting his latest release ‘We Wear The Mask.’ An adventurous fusion of jazz, funk, and Afro-beat, the album is a compelling portrait of the current state of the world.

Like most artists, BJ spent much of 2020 reflecting on the state of the world, and putting his thoughts to music. After months of quiet meditation, he emerged with his latest major statement ‘We Wear The Mask.’ Named after Paul Lawrence Dunbar’s classic poem, the album’s complex harmonies and hypnotic rhythms will leave a lasting impression.

The arrangements give BJ’s supporting cast, including bassist Herman Burney, trumpeter Brandon Woody, drummer Howard “Kingfish” Franklin, percussionist Jabari Exum, and French hornist Abram Mamet the canvas to paint an auditory masterpiece. Listeners will also be thrilled to hear a brief yet magical appearance from a string section. Whether reimagining classics like ‘In a Sentimental Mood’ or collaborating with Dev Duff on the standout title track, this conglomerate shines on every track. With ‘We Wear The Mask,’ BJ will solidify his position as an influential composer and musician of this generation.

We Wear The Mask is available at iTunes.

Edoardo Nordio – Fusion Steps

The bass is the chosen instrument of Italian musician Edoardo Nordio. Since the 80’s he played in various clubs in Rome and in studio sessions as a session musician. His second passion is voice acting for numerous television series and movies. His debut album Fusion Steps was released in 2018 on AlfaMusic.

Edoardo performs on this album electric bass. He is accompanied by Giovanni Luisi (piano, keyboards), Albert Lombardi (electric guitar, acoustic guitar), Cristiano Micalizzi (drums), Daniele Leucci (percussion). Guest musicians are Umberto Fiorentino (guitar) and Gianni Vancini (sax).

With the exception of three covers Edoardo has written all tracks. The album opens with Doctor Q. The guitar and bass enthusiasts among you know that Doctor Q is a well-known wah and filter device for guitarists from the 70s that was especially popular in Funk. In keeping with the title, the musicians push forward and the bass in particular comes into its own.

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Allan Kaljaste Smooth Group – Smoky Bar

Allan Kaljaste is one of the younger rising saxophone players and composers in Estonia. Being an active musician, he has been writing music since the age of 19.
The style, closest to his heart, could be described as smooth, hip-hop, pop, funky, jazz.

His album Smoky Bar (2020) is available on Bandcamp.

Mike Murray – Cruisin

Smooth Jazz, Chill Composer, musician and producer Mike Murray, began his musical journey as a child. His mother and father regularly sent him to summer camp where he spent a lot of time on an old upright piano. Mike hadn’t touched a musical instrument until years later after the death of his father in 2001. As an accomplished but unknown pianist, his father exposed Mike to the Jazz classics and classical music. Mike later landed a spot with a local high school funk band as a drummer but he lacked focus. The time came to turn the page to the next chapters in life.

Over the years, Mike knew there was still something innately musical stirring inside so he returned to music making with a spur of the moment decision to purchase a keyboard after his father died. Spurred on by a friend who offered strong encouragement, Mike eventually released his first commercial CD Skyline in 2007 with one consistent goal in mind: 1) give the listener a unique and different experience 2) outdo the previous release 3) write for an “A-List” artist. Mike’s CD, Daylight (2018), is his twentieth and Vantage Point (2019) his 21th commercial release. You already guessed it. Cruisin (2020) is his 22nd release.

Cruisin is available on iTunes.

Julius Adams – Life & Love

Julius Adams is a singer/songwriter and keyboardist hailing from Peoria, Illinois. The Stevie Wonder influence in Julius’ music is undeniable but he also states he has a lot of rock ‘n roll, particularly soft rock influences. Julius also mentioned being influenced by Earth Wind & Fire (JoeJoe Keys, indiemusicplus.com).

Julius has released his album Life & Love in 2017. His album is available on his website.

Luico Hopper – Symbiotic Souls

To those who are unfamiliar with bassist Luico Hopper, he recorded with Gato Barbieri, Diana Ross, Gil Evans, Earl Klugh, Jonathan Butler, Johnny Gil, Luther Vandross, Stephanie Mills, Bryan Ferry, Joe Taylor, Sherry Winston, Eartha Kitt, and many more. He was involved in the original Broadway Cast Recordings of Shrek The MusicalPriscilla Queen of the DesertMotown the Musical, and the recordings of The Fortress of Solitude and The Glorias.

The number of his solo albums is manageable: His debut album was Lessons Of Light (1995), followed by Reflections (2000) and now Symbiotic Souls (2020). The participating musicians are listed in the credits. Luico has composed, arranged & produced all songs.

Opener of the album is Shazaming. Something is shazaming when it gets to the highest point of excitement. Luico’s demands on himself and his music are no less stringent, as well as those of his accompanying musicians.

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Les Sabler – Tranquility

The suggestion came from two-time GRAMMY winner Paul Brown who has produced dozens of No. 1 hits. When contemporary jazz guitarist Les Sabler entered Brown’s Funky Joint studio near Los Angeles to begin tracking, Brown, also a guitarist, recommended that Sabler swap out his trusty guitar in favor of Brown’s vintage Gibson Johnny Smith model. The electric guitar that has innate acoustic qualities and balances tone and sustain gave Sabler an entirely new sound, which he used to create his eighth album, “Tranquility,” dropping January 29 on New Vista Records.

“The guitar’s sound is a sonic departure from anything I had previously recorded and this resulted in a successful single release, ‘Keep Pushin’.’ My fascination with the expressive tone of this instrument and my comfort in playing it led me to acquire my own, a vintage ‘67 beauty,” said the Nashville-based Sabler. The guitar recommendation was the second time Sabler heeded Brown’s counsel. The first came last December when Brown was in Nashville to perform. Sabler came to the gig to hang with Brown. It was then that Brown offered to produce Sabler’s next record.

“I was both surprised and delighted that he offered to produce for me. Without hesitation, I seized the opportunity. We started collaborating immediately and two months later, we sat down to record at his studio in LA,” said Sabler. A year earlier, Sabler wrote and released “In The Light” as a standalone single, which spent three weeks at No. 1 at WAVE.FM in Sabler’s homeland, Canada. The guitar player was encouraged and decided to reinvest the residuals he received from all the airplay into recording a new album, his first since 2014’s Brazilian jazz outing “Jobim Tribute.” Sabler and Brown cowrote eight songs for “Tranquility,” collaborating with hitmaker Lew Laing (“Keep Pushin’” and “Where Has She Gone”), Jeff Carruthers (“Easy Moves”) and Shane Theriot, the latter with whom they cowrote the single slated to go for playlist adds on January 18 titled “Crescent City Strut.” Continue reading

Gazzara – The Bossa Lounge Sessions (A Live & Studio Experience)

It’s been 25 years since their debut album “One” – over 10,000 copies sold in the pioneering era of Italian acid jazz, with guest James Taylor Quartet – and the best way to celebrate without stopping at the reissues of old material is to witness the state of health of a band that in a quarter of a century has never stopped producing and playing live. That’s why “The Bossa Lounge Sessions”, the new album of the soul / jazz / bossa trio led by the Roman keyboardist and composer Francesco Gazzara – with Massimo Sanna (bass) and Mauro Mirti (drums and percussion) – looks like a gluttonous double CD divided into two parts.

The first contains 14 songs recorded live between 1998 and 2010 on the international stages frequented by the group (Italy, Russia, Portugal, Japan, UK), with the classic bossa / jazz of Gazzara’s discography, some unreleased covers – “ Chitlins Con Meat “by Kenny Burrell ,”Do It Again ”by Steely Dan ,“ Hot Barbecue ”by Jack McDuff – and a couple of never-before-released live original tracks that date back to the acid jazz period (1996) with the band’s formation of“ One ”, which in addition to the trio it also included Gianni Del Popolo (guitar) and Alex Gigli (drums).

The second part (CD 2) instead contains 15 recordings – always live but in the studio – from a more recent period: 2013-2020. Here the repertoire is largely the soul / bossa one of the last two albums of “Gazzara – The Bossa Lounge Experience” and “Portrait In Acid Jazz” – revised and corrected in a completely instrumental key by the trio with the participation of long-time guests of the group like Dario Cecchini (sax, flute) – also present in several live songs of the first CD – and Eduardo Piloto Barreto(flute). The peculiarity does not end there: CD 2 also unveils two brand new songs by Gazzara and instrumental versions – never released before – of three Latin jazz and bossa compositions contained in the albums “Brother And Sister” and “My Cup Of Tea”. Continue reading

Ragan Whiteside – Five Up Top

Riding a hot streak of six consecutive Billboard Top 10 singles, soul-jazz flutist Ragan Whiteside will drop her new EP, “Five Up Top,” on Friday on the Randis Music label. Cowriting four new songs for the disc with her producers, influential soul-jazz keyboardist Bob Baldwin and Dennis Johnson (Celine Dion, Freddie Jackson, Melba Moore), the latter of whom handles drums and keyboards on the EP, Whiteside vowed to drop her fifth album this year and refused to be stopped by the novel coronavirus.

“This record, more than my other albums, was an exercise in sheer will, determination and drive. Juggling a family with two toddlers, live shows and all the business-related stuff you have to do as an independent artist is a challenge. Adding an album project to the mix took that challenge to another level. Just when we thought we had everything ‘under control,’ the pandemic hit and everything screeched to a halt. The focus shifted to safety and survival since nobody had a clear idea of the full impact of COVID-19,” said the Atlanta-based Whiteside.

“We knew we wanted to name this album ‘Five Up Top’ since it is my fifth studio album. However, with the time constraints, we realized that if we wanted to get this album out this year, we would have to get realistic and compromise on the length. We ended up making a five-song EP, which kept with the ‘five’ theme and took some of the pressure off.” Continue reading