Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

Christophe Goze – Soul To Soul

a3831088172_16Guitarist Christophe Goze is a world wanderer. This applies both to his changing residences, which has taken him through eight countries from his birthplace Paris to his current home, Barcelona, Spain, as well as his stylistic orientation, which has a lot to do with world music but also with his jazzy roots.

The story behind the creation of this album is explained by the basic polyglot attitude of this musician. At the outbreak of the pandemic, Christophe was staying in Morocco, which closed its borders as a result of the first wave. He had not expected that this blockade would last a year. Christophe made the best of this predicament, rented a small studio with a sea view and devoted himself to musical recordings.

The result is the album Soul To Soul (2022), with which Christophe approaches the realm of smooth jazz in his own special way. Thanks to the possibilities of the Internet, he was able to involve the following musicians in the creative process: Marc Antoine (guitar), Roberto Briot (bass), Curtis Lyons Jr., Laurent Facheux, Matthieu Rabatte (drums), Frederic Langlais (accordina), Michel Gaucher (flute), Ravi Prasad (Indian vocals), and Skeb (vocals).

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Yaron Gershowsky – Transitions

transitionsThe highly accomplished and internationally recognized pianist & keyboardist, arranger, composer and producer Yaron Gershovsky started his musical career in his homeland Israel. Soon after that he emigrated to the USA, where he studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston. After his graduation, he toured with sax player Pharaoh Sanders and recorded with the legendary Wayne Shorter on his album ‘Atlantis’.

Since 1979, Yaron has been the Musical Director and pianist/keyboardist for the world-renowned vocal group The Manhattan Transfer. For them, he wrote instrumental and vocal arrangements, recorded and toured also with them. But that’s not all. He also recorded and performed with other greats such as Dr. Lonnie Smith, Steve Gadd, Abraham Laboriel, Lew Soloff, Janis Siegel, Ray Brown, Grady Tate, Don Sebesky, The Count Basie Orchestra, Richie Havens, Take 6, and our Belgian pride Toots Thielemans.

Yaron did vocal arrangements for the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical ‘City of Angels’ and for the musical ‘Swing’. And he played keyboards for the musicals ‘The Phantom of The Opera’ and ‘Les Miserables’.

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David P Stevens – Evolution

EvolutionGuitarist David P Stevens has released his sixth album Evolution in 2021 on the label Sanctifly Music Group. A fitting title that clarifies the claim and performance requirement David places on himself.

For those who would like to complete their collection of his works, these are his albums: Timeless (2005), The Shedd (2008), Uptown (2011), Epiphany (2013), Love City (2016), and Rogue (2018). To clarify the total number: 111 East Jazz Records repacked the CD The Shedd as Uptown which was released to global indie acclaim.

David also follows the commendable habit of inviting friends to his recordings. In detail they are Phil Denny (sax), Jethaniel Nixon (bass), Juan Sessoms (drums), Tony Exum Jr. (sax), Myles Collier (bass), Donnell Spencer Jr. (drums), Jackiem Joyner (sax), Elan Trotman (sax), Lin Rountree (trumpet), Ugo Mano (vocals), Will Donato (sax), Benjamin Bullock (keys, programming), Zach Sanders (sax), and Althea Rene (flute).

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Amandus – Groove Infection

GrooveInf1000-559x559German keyboardist and pianist Michael Amandus Quast aka Amandus was an unknown to the smooth jazz scene until last year. That changed decisively with the release of his debut album Sing A Song (2021). Since the possibility of performing in Germany came to a complete standstill due to the pandemic, he concentrated on composing and recording new songs.

The result is his new EP Groove Infection (2022). Amandus plays on the new album grand piano, keys, and drum programming. He is supported by his friends Uli Brodersen (guitar), Stephan Schuchardt (drums), Alvin Mills (bass) and Donniele Graves (backing vocals).

The album opens with the title song, a tune which fully deserves the title and especially inspires with that certain touch of George Benson. Uli’s guitar performance is a welcome addition to Amandus’ superb piano performance.

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Cortez/Williams Project – Hermanos

Cortez-Williams Project - CD CoverGuitarist Chris Cortez and trumpeter Larry Williams may be new to you, but their musical collaboration goes back to the eighties. Chris is the owner of the Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts and hasn’t released his own music since 2014. Through his work with Larry in the past, they had a huge impact on the jazz scene in Orlando, Florida.

Together they presided over several groups containing available players. And although they lost sight of each other over the years, they remained focused on music. Chris formed his record label Blue Bamboo Music, and Larry became a session player in LA. The latter announced his retirement from trumpet playing in 2012, and shifted to guitar. But when his wife died in 2020, he returned to Orlando. A dream led him to a music shop, where he bought the flugel horn he dreamed of. One thing led to another, and together with a sextet, here is their new collaboration.

The title track opens into a lush Latin atmosphere, while the relaxed ‘Melody Makes It Happen’ follows. On ‘Glorious’, Cortez’ guitar comes to the forefront, and on ‘Un Pedazo De Tu Sonrisa’ the sun shines in a slightly Brazilian atmosphere. ‘Ask Me No Questions’ is a joyful track, followed by the light breezy ‘Silhouette’.

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Kim Scott – SHINE!

Shine!Birmingham, Alabama based flutist Kim Scott has reinvented herself again and again with the albums Crossing Over (2011),  Rite of Passage (2013), Southern Heat (2016) and Free To Be (2019).

In our dark times, she has taken on the not-so-simple task of being a guiding light and encouragement. Her album SHINE!, to be released next year, is appropriately titled and brings the music we all so need.

Unlike many other contemporary musicians who offer a one-man show as part of their recordings, Kim has taken the costly route of inviting a wide range of studio musicians.

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Chillaxing Jazz KolleKtion – Groove Jazz N Chill #8

gjnc8Multi-instrumentalist Konstantin Klashtorni is by far the most prolific musician of the smooth jazz genre. Most recently residing in Heiligenhaus, Germany, the circumstances of the Corona pandemic prompted him to move back to his homeland, Ukraine. The possibilities of development as a musician had deteriorated to such an extent that he now took this step.

He hopes to move into a house near Kiev next year and build a new studio there to continue his successful productions. Still from his period in Germany comes the album Groove Jazz N Chill #8, which was created in the series Chillaxing Jazz KolleKtion. As usual Konstantin has written, produced, arranged, mixed and mastered all tracks.

Doesn’t man look for what is beautiful and worthy of praise? If you can’t achieve it in life, however, it can be realized in your dreams. Konstantin has written his own anthem for you with True Dreams, understand it as a musical accompaniment.

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Matt Lee – Never Too Late

nevertoolateSaxophonist Matt Lee was inspired for the music in his youth by his grandmother who bought him a saxophone in 1997. As self taught musician he is active in the music business since the early 2000’s. He is influenced by artists such as Grover Washington Jr., Kenny G or James Brown. He will release his first album entitled Never Too Late in April 2022.

The EP consists of four tracks, the songs One More Kiss and First Glance are produced by Jeffrey Carruthers and mixed and mastered by Euge Groove. Artists on these tracks are Eric Valentine (drums), Darryl Williams (bass), Jeffrey Carruthers (keys, guitar) and Matt Lee on sax. The tracks Spanish Skies and Let’s Chill Tonight are produced, arranged, mixed, and mastered by Matt Lee.

The album opens with Spanish Skies that can easily be passed off as a showpiece. Multi-instrumentalist Lee presents a coherent arrangement, with balanced instrumentation and an engaging melody. Above all, his tenor saxophone dominates, developing rich sound structures.

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Robert Christa / Tom Reif – Free As A Bird

freeasabirdGerman pianist and composer Robert Christa is best known in the smooth jazz genre by his solo projects Nightflight To Rio (2015), City Lights (2017) and Smooth World (2019). His new album is a collaboration with the multi-instrumentalist Tom Reif entitled Free As A Bird (2021).

Robert Christa has written all tracks and plays Rhodes, piano and keys. Tom Reif has arranged, mixed and produced the tracks and performs guitars, guitar synth, fretless bass, keyboards, loops, percussion, programming and was co-composer on three tracks. Additional artists are Herb Berger (harp) and Tommy Eberhardt (drums).

The album opens with the sun-drenched Sunset Boulevard, from which Christa and Reif can definitely derive romantic aspects. Christa follows with the opening track to the familiar smooth jazz style of his previous album.

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Elena Maque – Feel Again

Elena Maque - CD CoverWhen an outstanding talent, an extraordinary voice and an engaging exterior enter into a glorious fusion, it is time to point out this exceptional entity. Russian born vocalist and saxophonist Elena Maque has honed her polished skills in Russia, Europe and America.

Her debut album Feel Again was born out of a collaboration with Los Angeles-based legendary keyboardist and producer Scott Kinsey. The recordings were made in Seattle and Los Angeles. Among them are established session players such as drummer Gary Novak, bass players Hadrien Feraud and Logan Kane, saxophonist Alexey Nikolaev and guitarist Leonardo Amuedo.

The starting track Hey Friend rises all triggers. Trenchantly to the point, Elena gets her message across with an incredible timbre. She skillfully adapts the vocal style of earlier jazz female vocalists such as Billie Holiday. Scott Kinsey on Rhodes and Alexey on sax give the whole thing a perfect setting.

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