Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

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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Byron Miller – The Gift Psychobass 2

Bassist Byron Miller shares the fate of many sidemen who play with the superstars without the fame promotes their reputation significantly. He performed with George Duke, Roy Ayers Ubiquity, Santana, Herbie Hancock, Joe Sample and The Crusaders, Marvin Gaye, Whitney Houston, and Luther Vandross.

In 2015 he released Psycho Bass, the fourth of his solo career after Git Wit Me, Until (1997), and I’ll Come By (2003), with three of the last recorded performances of George Duke, Ndugu Chancler on drums, guitarist David T. Walker and percussionist Sheila E. Psycho Bass is Byron’s Funk name.

The Gift: Psychobass 2 (2018) is Myron’s follow up offering performances of Kirk Whalum, Paul Jackson, Jr., Walter Beasley, Gordon Campbell, Phil Davis, Munyungo Jackson and more. Three tracks with Ndugu Chancler on drums he just left off. “When he passed, I couldn’t hear anybody else playing on them…”

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Chillaxing Jazz KolleKtion – Groove Jazz N Chill # 6

The facts about the multi-instrumentalist Konstantin Klashtorni are quickly put together. Since this multi-talented Ukraine born artist lives in a small city nearby Düsseldorf and built up his own studio, his musical activities are literally exploded. Personally, I consider him to be the most active musician in the Smooth Jazz genre.

I admit that activity is not everything. But his creativity and diversity of ideas sets new standards. Equipped with intuitive intelligence and the nose of a truffle hunter his melodies inspire me again and again. Influenced by the musicians Paul Hardcastle and Brian Culbertson I see him today on the same level. Among his numerous series includes Chillaxing Jazz KolleKtion.

Just released in this series is his sixth album, that was exclusively composed and recorded by him again. When you play the first piece Dearest, you immediately notice a certain closeness to the genre, which has since been forgotten, but as New Age still adequately describes the sound. Starting with a trippy water effect Konstantin quickly dives into the portfolio of his sound equipment, where the crystal clear acoustic guitar ensures a melodic constancy.

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Phil Denny – Align

Saxophonist Phil Denny has already released four albums in a short time: Crossover (2012), The Messenger (2013), Upswing (2015) and this year Align. Performances on many festivals will not rest him on his laurels. With his 2nd annual Armory Smooth Jazz Fête he is among the exclusive circle of promoters.

His fourth album Align was written by Phil in parts with the support of participating musicians. Phil performs on this album tenor, alto and soprano sax, EWI. Further joining musicians are Matt Godina (keys, guitar, programming), Nathaniel Kearney Jr., Mel Brown (bass), Eric Valentine (drums), David P. Stevens (guitar), Lew Laing (keys, bass, programming), Adam Hawley (various instruments), Big Mike Hart (guitar, acoustic guitar), programming), Andrew Freeman (rhythm guitar), Buddy Bangs (keys, programming), Joe Archie (keys, guitar, synth bass, programming, strings) and Stacey Lamont Sydnor (percussion).

First track of the album is Switch Up which already climbs the charts as a single release. The forceful rhythmically-charged song encapsulates Phil Denny as a prolific artist quickly appearing on your screen. Feel Alright featuring David P. Stevens is spreading good mood going with confidence through the roof.

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Gabriel Mark Hasselbach – MidCentury Modern Vol. 1

Denver Colorado born trumpeter Gabriel Mark Hasselbach was last time in our focus with his album Open Invitation (2014). His new album MidCentury Modern Volume 1 (2018) is of a special peculiarity. Although a guarantor of smooth jazz Gabriel now delivers a jazz album.

Gabriel comments: “This is an exciting project for me because I was finally able to assemble my dream team. Besides the recognizable and prolific talents of saxophonists Ernie Watts and Cory Weeds, I was able to gather my longtime friends and world-class musicians Miles Black (piano), Laurence Mollerup (bass), and Joel Fountain (drums). Adding to the proceedings are Mike Taylor (vocals) and Olaf deShield (guitar) on a couple of tunes.”

The album starts with Mississippi Jump presenting Hasselbach in best form on trumpet, apparently fluent in style. Miles Black adds on piano a perfect accompaniment and a shining solo work. Jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard released the track Gibraltar as part of his album Born To Be Blue in 1981. Hasselbach delivers a compact version without missing important elements of the original.

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Urs Wiesendanger – Breakfast In Paris

Urs Wiesendanger developed in young years his passion for drums. At the age of 12, he toured with the DRS Big Band of Swiss national television and was soon regarded as one of the greatest young Swiss talents in the music scene.

Since then, Urs has worked for renowned Swiss artists such as DJ Bobo, Nubya or Carmen Fenk. Urs is considered one of the most gifted arrangers and producers in Europe and does not need to shy away from comparison with the US industry. He has worked extensively in Los Angeles with highly gifted musicians such as keyboardist Jeff Lorber, saxophonists Dave Koz and Warren Hill, producer Mickey Petralia, drummer John Robinson, guitarists Chris Camozzi, Michael Landau and Dean Parks, singer Warren Wiebe and many more.

On his new album Breakfast In Paris (2018) Urs performs keyboards, bass, percussion, drum-programming, vocals, grand piano and strings. He is joined on selected tracks by Bruno Amatruda, Dominic Ruegg, Claudio Servino, Michael Thompson (guitars), Thierry Condor, Dhenibe Romea, Sabina Stokes (background vocals), John Robinson, Jay Graydon (drums), Bernhard Schoch (trumpet, trombone), Daniel Küffer, Tom Beek (sax), and Ramon Stagnaro (acoustic guitar).

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Dave Koz and Friends – Summer Horns II From A To Z

Overcoming massive scheduling problems, saxophonist and entertainer Dave Koz has again managed to win some of the best musicians for his Summer Horns project. His new dream team consists of trumpet player Rick Braun, saxophonists Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot as well as trombonist and singer Aubrey Logan, a featured artist for Postmodern Jukebox.

Greg Adams, Tom Scott and Gordon Goodwin, who also arranged the previous album, are on this recordings again. Featured artists are singer Kenny Lattimore and Sheléa Frazier, Jonathan Butler and Gloria Estefan. The press release also mentions a rhythm arrangement by Chris “Big Dog” Davis.

Summer Horns II From A To Z is based on the same principle as the previous album. Selected songs that have passed the test of time and yet remain in lasting memory. The common denominator of all songs is a horn arrangement that qualified the piece for inclusion on the album. Cross-genre, dynamic and with a certain pep.

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