Archive for the ‘ Contemporary Jazz ’ Category

Jason Miles – Kind of New 2: Blue is Paris

He performed with Miles Davis, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Luther Vandross. Keyboardist Jason Miles is integral part of music history. In numerous solo albums he has realized his vision of music.

Kind of New 2: Blue Is Paris is different. Some artists realize the widest range of styles in their album. Others pursue a permanent theme. Still others create a continuum of homogeneity. Jason Miles has a completely diverse concept.

Jason visited Paris in the weeks immediately following the 2015 terror attacks. Under the impression of this voyage he composed Blue Is Paris. He had the idea to write a follow-up to his previous album Kind of New (Whaling City Sound).

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Kevin Eubanks – East West Time Line

Since his 18-year tenure as guitarist and music director of TV’s The Tonight Show Band ended in 2010, Philadelphia-born guitarist, composer Kevin Eubanks has been on a creative roll. On East West Time Line, Eubanks explores the chemistry he maintains with musicians on both coasts. And once again, his distinctive fingerstyle approach to the instrument is in the service of tunes that run the stylist gamut from urgent swingers to introspective ballads to Latin-tinged numbers and some get-down Philly funk.

Joining Eubanks on this stellar outing are longtime collaborator and former Berklee College of Music schoolmate, drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith, who fuels the West Coast outfit alongside seasoned session bassist Rene Camacho, percussionist Mino Cinelu and saxophonist Bill Pierce. Smith’s East Coast counterpart on this bi-coastal session is the irrepressibly swinging Jeff “Tain” Watts, a force of nature on the kit who combines with bassist Dave Holland, Philadelphia-based pianist Orrin Evans and New York trumpeter Nicholas Payton for a potent lineup. Together these great musicians bring out the best in Eubanks’ six-string prowess and ignite his searching instincts throughout the sessions in Los Angeles and New York.

“Of course, we all came up through New York,” says the Philly guitarist who broke in with Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers during the early ’80s. “But we also got the benefits of seeing the East Coast down and dirty and Hollywood down and dirty too. We combined both vibes on this recording-the kind of Latin vibe of Los Angeles and the straight-up swinging vibe of New York. Continue reading

Valeriy Stepanov – New Beginnings

Less ‘From Russia With Love’ And More ‘From Russia With Groove’ multi instrumentalist Valeriy Stepanov is all set to take the smooth jazz world by storm with his Skytown Records debut release, New Beginnings.  Stepanov has been identified as having the ability to traverse the entire spectrum of jazz, from his smooth jazz sensibilities, that are very much the province of New Beginnings, through to his own brand of fusion that can accurately be described ss Chick Corea meets Jeff Lorber.

Above all, what makes Valeriy stand out from the crowd is the formula he has for rhythm and melody, his unbounded energy and the sublime technique that he first learned from his father then built on by studying music theory at the prestigious central music school of Moscow State Conservatory. Not only that, with six years of recording and performing with his band vsak, Valeriy has polished these skills yet further so that now, at age 27, he is perfectly positioned to join the ever increasing band of eastern European artists to have found musical fame in the west.

The story of Valeriy Stepanov is very much a story of today, a story where the internet combined with an abundance of talent can propel a performer from the most unlikely of locations into the global spotlight. Pre-order the album at Amazon.com.

Jeff Lorber Fusion – Prototype

Jeff Lorber is the most sought keyboardist of the smooth jazz genre, but his heart is still beating for fusion jazz. Influenced by groups like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report and Return to Forever he founded the group Jeff Lorber Fusion and released in 1977 the self-titled debut album. Soon followed Soft Space (1978), Water Sign (1979), Wizard Island (1980), and Galaxian (1981).

After a period of solo albums he returned to his centerpiece with Now Is The Time (2010), Galaxy (2011), Hacienda (2013), and Step It Up (2015) on Heads Up Records. Prototype is his first album on Shanachie Entertainment. The new group consists of keyboardist Jeff Lorber, bassist Jimmy Haslip and saxophonist Andy Snitzer.

Jeff explains: “I came up with the name Prototype because we are always trying to up our game and come up with new exciting music that could be a prototype or innovative harbinger for the future of our musical style.” The project begins with Hyperdrive, a horn driven funky loaded piece of excellence. The sonic fury of high speed jazz is the ultimate platform for Lorber’s progressive fusion act.

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Kayla Waters – Apogee

Contemporary jazz pianist, composer and writer Kayla Waters, the daughter of famous saxophonist Kim Waters, debuts with her first work Apogee (2017) on Trippin N’ Rhythm Records.

Along side of Kayla, Kim was also executive producer for her album. Apogee is another word for the highest point in the development of something, a climax or culmination. For Kayla this album is the first highlight of her musical career. She has written all songs of the CD.

The album was recorded in six days straight. The album has biographical references. So for example Earth Arrival tells the story how Kayla arrives on earth, the point when everything started. The song grows with a constant flow, a springy rhythm and vibrant keyboard works.

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Kevin Eubanks – East West Time Line

kevin-eubanks-east-west-time-line-700x700Since his 18-year tenure as guitarist and music director of TV’s The Tonight Show Band ended in 2010, Philadelphia-born guitarist, composer Kevin Eubanks has been on a creative roll. On East West Time Line, Eubanks explores the chemistry he maintains with musicians on both coasts. And once again, his distinctive fingerstyle approach to the instrument is in the service of tunes that run the stylist gamut from urgent swingers to introspective ballads to Latin-tinged numbers and some get-down Philly funk.

Joining Eubanks on this stellar outing are longtime collaborator and former Berklee College of Music schoolmate, drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith, who fuels the West Coast outfit alongside seasoned session bassist Rene Camacho, percussionist Mino Cinelu and saxophonist Bill Pierce. Smith’s East Coast counterpart on this bi-coastal session is the irrepressibly swinging Jeff “Tain” Watts, a force of nature on the kit who combines with bassist Dave Holland, Philadelphia-based pianist Orrin Evans and New York trumpeter Nicholas Payton for a potent lineup. Together these great musicians bring out the best in Eubanks’ six-string prowess and ignite his searching instincts throughout the sessions in Los Angeles and New York.

“Of course, we all came up through New York,” says the Philly guitarist who broke in with Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers during the early ’80s. “But we also got the benefits of seeing the East Coast down and dirty and Hollywood down and dirty too. We combined both vibes on this recording-the kind of Latin vibe of Los Angeles and the straight-up swinging vibe of New York.

Overall, Eubanks seems exceedingly pleased with the copacetic nature of his first bi-coastal recording. “I think because I’m so familiar with all the musicians and we played together over the years in different settings, on different tours, that it helped the music quite a bit. There’s something that goes with friendship, knowing everybody’s journey to a large extent, that really enhances the communication between the players on a session. It’s that thing where everybody’s pulling for each other to do well and trying to make each other sound better, and you keep your sorry-ass ego out of it. We all have egos, we’re human beings and everything, but through the love of the music and wanting the best, good things happen. It’s really such a wonderful kind of democracy that you don’t see in other things. I think jazz music is the most perfect example of democracy in action.”

Andrew Van Tassel – It’s Where You Are

Traditional and contemporary jazz form the base from which saxophonist and composer Andrew Van Tassel builds his sound. He also leans on classical, indie-rock and folk music. Listeners hear more of the contemporary side on It’s Where You Are (Tone Rogue Records, 2016).

Van Tassel plays alto and soprano saxophones. He is accompanied by Julian Shore, piano and Rhodes; Edward Perez, bass; and Colin Stranahan, drums. Special guests on selected tracks are guitarist Ben Eunson and Michael Thomas, who plays clarinet and bass clarinet.

The set begins with “High Holborn,” an upbeat, electric tune with guitar and alto sax melding for the lead. Bass and drum kit carry a trotting beat, while the piano offers placid fills. Van Tassel then stretches out, taking off on a free-spirited jaunt. Eunson then comes in, deftly picking those strings in a series of single-note riffs, some of them in complex, rapid-fire strings. The mood and pace slow when Van Tassel rejoins. The alto leads while the guitar offers some haunting, ethereal fills as the song comes to a close.

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