Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

Michael Franks – The Music In My Head

The common denominator of singer/songwriter Michael Franks is not a style but his characteristic voice. He has always been a wanderer between the worlds of Pop, Jazz, Brazilian, New Age and film music.

His multitude of albums have given him a wide following, even among numerous musicians such as Ringo Starr, Natalie Cole, The Carpenters, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Diana Krall, Lyle Lovett, Al Jarreau, Carmen McRae, The Manhattan Transfer and Patti LaBelle.

The Music In My Head (2018) is Michael’s 18th album and his first after a hiatus of seven years. His previous album was Time Together on Shanachie Entertainment. Joining Michael on his new project are producers/arrangers Gil Goldstein, Scott Petito, Charles Blenzig and former Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip, along with stellar guest musicians such as guitarist David Spinozza, saxophonists Bob Mintzer, Eric Marienthal and Gary Meek, late guitarist Chuck Loeb (Fourplay), and for the first-time pianist Rachel Z.

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Greg Chambers – A New Day

Saxophonist Greg Chambers has five trumps in his hand. City Lights (2006), Greg Chambers (2011), After Hours (2013), Can’t Help Myself (2014) and A New Day (2018).

The new album will be released June 21, 2018. For the purpose of quality assurance, Greg has brought in the best producers and musicians the smooth jazz market has to offer. The liner notes mention Matt Godina (keyboards, bass, & drum programming), Nate Harasim (guitar, keyboards, drum programming, synths), Paul Brown (guitars), Lew Laing (keyboards, bass & drum programming), who also have written the tracks in cooperation with Greg.

The project is also joined by David P. Stevens (lead & rhythm guitars), Roberto Vally (bass), Kenji Matsui and Adam Hawley (guitars), Rodney Franklin (keyboards), Preston Smith, Lin Rountree (flugelhorn) and Nils (guitar).

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Soul Basement – Oneness

Soul Basement are Italian multi-instrumentalist and producer Fabio Puglisi (keys, bass, drums) and Texan soul singer Jay Nemor (vocals, sax).  In 2016 they released  the album What We Leave Behind, now followed by the sophomore album Oneness (2018).

Originally founded by Puglisi in 1997 as a four piece ensemble the formation has been undergoing some major changes. Hopefully the band stabilizes itself by the expected success. The concept of the new album is identical to his predecessor with eight new songs of the above mentioned musicians.

Blessed by nature with a voice like Gil Scott-Heron singer Jay Nemor sets anew the dominant accent with his characteristic vocals. Confident looking to the future, the group starts with Better Days. A song that revolves around an everyday relationship story. More important is the beautiful voice and the exquisite professionally placed accompanying music.

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Rebecca Angel – What We Had

NYC based jazz vocalist Rebecca Angel releases the EP What We Had in June 2018, her debut album. The album is produced and arranged by Jason Miles, who also performs keyboards, Fender Rhodes, Moog bass, percussion and pads.

Stand By Me is arranged by Jason with Rebecca and What We Had by Jason, Gottfried Stoger and Rebecca. Further artists on this album are Dennis Angel (flugelhorn), Gottfried Stoger (flute), Hailey Niswanger (soprano sax), Sebastian Stoger (cello), Jonah Miles Prendergast, Christian Ver Halen (guitar), Ricardo Silviera (acoustic rhythm guitar), James Genus (acoustic bass), Reggie Washington, Adam Dorn (bass), Mino Cinelu, Cyro Baptista (percussion) and Brian Dunne (drums).

The album starts with Winter Moon, a song by Hoagy Carmichael, he recorded for his album Hoagy Sings Carmichael (1956). Rebecca’s interpretation shares lyrics and melody but delivers a completely redesigned version of a dark, mysterious atmosphere.

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Gerald Albright – 30

Among the legions of saxophonists is only one who rules the genre. Gerald Albright is the living epitome of passion, competence and mastery. He is a legend. This year he looks back on 30 years of artistic activity. How could you celebrate this better than with an album?

The aptly titled album 30 is a retrospective revisiting twelve albums with ten songs newly recorded. Gerald performs on this album alto, tenor, baritone saxophones, C flutes, bass and alto flutes, bass guitar and drum programming. He is joined by James Roberson (keyboards, drums, drum programming), Cory Baker (keyboard bass), Rick Watford (guitars), Sethe Tucker, Selina Albright (vocals), Chris “Big Dog” Davis (keyboards, keyboard bass), Judge “JJ” Williams, Chris Coleman (drums).

The journey starts with Sooki Sooki from Gerald’s 7th Atlantic release Live To Love (1997), re-released on Concord Records in 2009, also to find on the compilations Funky Jazz Partyand The Very Best of Gerald Albright. The original is a groovy smooth jazz ballad, while the new version has an edgier funky attitude with a more pronounced horn arrangement and a modern keyboard accompaniment.

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Beverley Beirne – JJWTHF

Hailing from Yorkshire jazz singer Beverley Beirne started her solo career with the debut album Seasons Of Love in 2012. Her greatest passion is to take songs from other genres and put her own spin on them. This is the main principle of her sophomore album JJWTHF (2018).

Instead of interpreting jazz standards Beverley chose from a fundus of 90 songs her ultimate mixture of 70’s and 80’s pop songs to give them her very own jazzy varnish.

Her recording team consists of pianist and co-arranger Sam Watts, bassist Flo Moore, drummer/percussionist Ben Brown, saxophonist/flautist Rob Hughes, guest guitarists Romero Lubambo and Dean Brown. Keyboardist Jason Miles produced the album and gave his grace to Waiting for a Man Like You and Deeply Dippy.

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Drew Davidsen – Innerspace

Guitarist Drew Davidsen started in 2007 his solo career with This Journey. Soon followed Around (Again) (2009), We 3 Stringz (2010), Spin Cycle (2011), True Drew (2013), and A Good Life (2017). With Innerspace (2018) Drew returns to the smooth jazz genre.

The new album is the product of a collaboration between Drew and producer, multi-instrumentalist Cedric Givens. At the center of the album, of course, is Drew’s electric guitar, for which Cedric creates a sensitive arrangement and instrumental environment.

The name of the label is NemBleu. Insiders will know, that guitarist Roberto Tyson and multi-instrumentalist Cedric Givens were members of the duo Nemesis Blue, which released in 1997 the album Imagination. Later they formed together with bassist Cheikh Ndoye the band N-Groove releasing the album It’s Who We Are (2007).

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