Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

Artur Bayramgalin – Green Sapphire

Hailing from Ufa, Russia multi instrumentalist Artur Bayramgalin is still a secret tip in the smooth jazz genre. In view of the large number of new releases, foreign musicians find it difficult to improve their popularity significantly. His debut album Interro Island came out in 2009, his sophomore album Electric Breezz followed in 2010 and his third album Perfect Day in 2014.

In 2018 Artur was involved in a serious traffic accident. After recovery his main desire was starting writing music again. Now he returns with his new album Green Sapphire (2020), which is available on CDBaby.

Artur comments: “I had a dream, standing alone with my father on the bank of a deep stream. He wanted to give me the green crystal and said it was very important and should be protected. I accidentally dropped it in the stream, but managed to grab it and save it. When I woke up, I wrote the song Green Sapphire. And with this track, I finally started working on a new album.”

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Chris Standring – Real Life

Jazz guitarist Chris Standring is one of the rare guitarists, which have been blessed with significant success. Toughly earned, this success rests on numerous pillars. Chris knows the music business and runs his own record label. He seeks collaboration with other artists. And remains on everyone’s lips through numerous appearances and record releases. In the end, however, it is his style with high recognition value that distinguishes him from other musicians.

His new album Real Life (2020) fits seamlessly into this chain of success. Chris performs on his new project guitars, keyboards and programming. He is accompanied on selected tracks by Andre Barry (bass), Chris Coleman, David Karasony (drums), Mitchel Forman (acoustic piano), Ronnie Gutierrez (percussion), Kevin Axt (upright bass), Hans Zermulen, Matt Rhode (Fender Rhodes), Iris Almario (handclaps), Vanessa Haynes (vocals), and Lauren Christy (background vocals).

Is There A Doctor In The House? With this provocative question, which today even implies political meaning, Chris titles his introductory song. What sounds like the harmonic intro chorus of Take 6 is based on a finely programmed vocal sample. In earlier time we called Chris’ guitar style acid jazz, meanwhile it’s the sonic highlight of every event.

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Patrick Yandall – Jazz On The Vine

It is the independent musicians with small budgets that keep the fire of the smooth jazz genre burning. Among them it’s guitarist Patrick Yandall who distinguishes himself by special activity. He begins the New Year with his album Jazz On The Vine (2020), dedicated to the Napa Valley wine region.

Patrick is a welcome guest at the events in this wine region, which brings its products closer to the consumer with numerous smooth jazz activities. Patrick’s main passion is creating new music every day. Playing many instruments with a convincing perfection is his ability and especially advantage when recording a new album. Playing with other musicians is really joyful but studio time is not cheap and that’s the reason why most musicians are working today’s in their own home studio.

Patrick has written and produced all songs of the new project. Patrick admits that this is already the fifth album without the help of other musicians. The title song commemorates the festival that is held annually at The Osthoff Resort. While the intro sounds somewhat spacey with its wave sound, the guitar driven main theme is almost jazzy despite the use of a lot of reverb.

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Brian Simpson & Steve Oliver – Unified

Two celebrities of the music business are joining forces for a common project. Keyboardist Brian Simpson and guitarist Steve Oliver bundle their talents for Unified, scheduled for release January 17, 2020 on Shanachie Entertainment.

On the new album Brian performs piano and keyboards, Steve Oliver guitars, vocals and sound design. They are supported by Alex Al (bass), Eric Valentine (drums) and Ramon Yslas (percussion). Guest musicians are bassist Larry Antonino and trumpet player Rick Braun on Fired Up, guitarist Darrel Crooks on Celestial Body and Café du Monde.

The album opens with the title song. Our main matadors have brought their sound to absolute perfection. Everything interlocks and flows smoothly. The Road Never Ends presents fresh vibes of both musicians on a high professional base. Finally, the song leads into an excellent call and response exchange between guitar and piano.

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Brian Culbertson – Winter Stories

Pianist and composer Brian Culbertson has put himself in a tight spot with the announcement that his new album Winter Stories is the first in a series of four albums related to the four seasons of the year. This announcement comes as a bit of a surprise as he has just pledged his album XX for the next year.

According to the liner notes is Winter Stories not a Christmas album, however is the album blessed by the holiday spirit. Brian performs on the new album piano, Wurlitzer, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B3 Organ, percussion and Celeste. He is accompanied by Steve Rodby (acoustic bass), Khan Parker (drums) and Lenny Castro (percussion on two songs). All songs are written, arranged and produced by Brian.

Brian introduces the listener to his album on Sitting By The Fire with cautious long reverberating keystrokes. The title already conveys the coziness of the music. Endless plains, snow-capped mountains and torrential rivers are the main features of the state of Montana, to which Brian Culbertson dedicates his song Montana Skies.

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Lawson Rollins – True North

Guitarist Lawson Rollins has already captivated audiences and critics alike with a multitude of albums. Infinita (2008), Espirito (2010), Elevation (2011), Full Circle (2013), Traveler (2015), Infinite Chills (The Remix Sessions) (2015), 3 Minutes to Midnight (2017), Airwaves: The Greatest Hits (2018), Dark Matter: Music For Film (2019) are to be mentioned.

Meanwhile he is ranked as one of the 50 Transcendent Acoustic Guitarists of all time by Guitar Player Magazine. His newest album True North is scheduled for release January 17, 2020 on Infinita Records. Lawson performs on the new album acoustic, electric and nylon string guitars, drum programming, keyboards. He is joined by Dave Bryant (drums, percussion), Mads Tolling (violin, viola), Dan Feiszli (acoustic and electric bass) and Stephen Duros (electric guitar on With The Wind, addition keyboards). Lawson Rollins has composed all songs.

True North shows the right direction in which Lawson Rollins travels. Lawson intelligently combines different finger style techniques and guitars to an impulsive guitar playing. With The Wind combines Spanish acoustic guitar school with strong rock elements to a tour de force.

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Ramsey Lewis & Urban Knights – VII

Jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis has been one of the main contributors to the history of contemporary jazz. Not a purist at all, he likes to incorporate crossover elements of pop, funk and soul into his music. Until high age he is involved in shaping the music scene.

With his project Urban Knights he has also transferred his high quality standards into the field of smooth jazz. Unforgotten is his song Sun Goddess, which he recorded together with the members of Earth, Wind and Fire and which decisively influenced his further musical career.

To the great surprise of many of his music fans, Ramsey Lewis released Urban Knights VII in September 2019 before finally withdrawing from the music scene. In this late work are involved his longtime companions guitarist Henry Johnson, drummer Charles Heath, bassist Joshua Ramos and keyboardist Tim Gant.

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