Archive for the ‘ Contemporary Jazz ’ Category

Eric Essix – Moments (Anthology)

Recently I reviewed Eric Essix’s album More with a survey of his already released works. A  short time after this review he released his album Moments, an anthology of his previous albums spanning a period of three decades.

With Street Scene Eric shows his best side right away. A high infectious melody taken from the album Small Talk (2012). Greg Manning on piano adds a joyful groove and Melvin Butler on sax a mellow note. Steel is from Eric’s album Birmingham (2009), the ode to his hometown. Birmingham was a great iron and steel producer in the decades after the civil war.

On Drive Time from Somewhere In Alabama (2004) Eric shines with a sing along guitar playing in the style of George Benson. The Distance is from Eric’s self titled album (2012), which presents a special blues-rock attitude. Southbound is the title song of the album, which was released in 2000. Kelvin Wooten delivers a phenomenal accompaniment on piano and Hammond B3.

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Jazz Funk Soul – Life And Times

Jazz Funk Soul was formed by keyboardist Jeff Lorber, guitarist Chuck Loeb and sax player Everette Harp. Late guitarist Chuck Loeb considered the group as a natural extension of the fun and high level of creativity that was taking place on stage each night. In this formation the trio was blessed to release two albums, the same titled debut album (2014) and the sophomore album More Serious Business (2016).

After Chuck Loeb’s all too early passing away the fan community feared a standstill of further recordings like with the group Fourplay. Now the group Jazz Funk Soul has surprisingly reunited and welcomes its new member guitarist Paul Jackson Jr., who comments: “Chuck, you’re one of the best musicians and best people, I’ve ever met. I speak in present tense because you’re not gone, you’re just not here. I miss you, and look forward to making music with you in Heaven.”

Life And Time is the name of the new album, which will be released January 25, 2019 on Shanachie Entertainment Group and is dedicated to the late Chuck Loeb. Jeff Lorber performs keyboards, Rhodes, acoustic piano, Moog bass, and guitar, Everette Harp keys, alto sax, tenor sax and EWI, Paul Jackson Jr. lead and rhythm guitars.

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Spiritual Emergence – Rob Scotts Birds

Rob Scott founded this group in 2012. This is their second effort, expanding on the ideas in the first record. Relatable, innovative Jazz , with accessible melodies that push the boundaries just a little bit. The group comprises Godwin Louis on Sax , Jason Palmer on trumpet, Lee fish on drums, Justin Purtill on Bass, and Rob Scott on piano. Rob has written all the tunes, except for a fantastic composition by Jason Palmer. Jason also helped Rob arrange many of these songs onsite at the recording. They are a super-group of rising stars , and they hope you enjoy their effort. They are all from different places musically and geographically , but came together in Boston. I guess this is the Boston Jazz sound for 2019!

Rob Scotts Birds is America’s Romantic Music. 21st Century Jazz, part of the tradition, expanding the tradition. Innovative, yet relatable.

This CD is available on CDBaby.

DeShannon Higa – Words Cannot Express

Honolulu based trumpet player DeShannon Higa is a first call session player. He performed with many big names such as Burt Bacharach, Diana Krall, Wynton Marsalis, Al Jarreau, Joe Williams, Wayne Newton, and Tower of Power, to name just a few. He is connected with many local bands like The Royal Hawaiian Band, gr00ve.imProV.arTiSts, Bop Tribal, Subtonic Orchestra and Quadpod.

While Honolulu is his hometown, he spend a lot of time in New York playing Carnegie Hall, Birdland, Radio City Music Hall, and Lincoln Center. He regards himself as an ambassador of other music styles on his home island. He performs a wide range of genres. “I’ve gone through my bebop and hard bop phase, cool and minimal phase, Latin and funk, ECM and abstract, acid jazz and hip-hop phase. Where I am currently is more cinematic and orchestrated, I would say.”

His debut album Words Cannot Express (2018) is a crowd funding project. “I am a soul with a story to tell, but words cannot express. Therefore, I use music to say what only the heart can speak.” The album is now available on CDBaby. Stylistically the album is a little adventure, nobody knows exactly in which direction the journey goes. Twenty local musicians were involved in the production, listing them all would go beyond the scope of this review.

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Jazz Funk Soul – Life and Times

Contemporary jazz supergroup Jazz Funk Soul was originally founded by keyboardist Jeff Lorber, guitarist Chuck Loeb and sax player Everette Harp. Their same titled debut album unites their skills to create something that is greater than the sum of its participants. Making some impact on fellow musicians and audience is all the group want to do. Life and Times is the much anticipated sequel to More Serious Business (2016) – which included two # 1 Smooth Jazz radio hit singles! With three of today’s top hit makers: Jeff Lorber, Everett Harp, and Paul Jackson, Jr. – artists and producers responsible for selling millions of albums and achieving nearly 50 # 1 jazz radio hits!

Grammy winner Jeff Lorber is famed for launching the career of Kenny G and his productions and collaborations with the greats Dave Koz, Janet Jackson, Lalah Hathaway and Miles Davis. He is one of the most sought after producers and musicians in jazz! The Grammy nominated Paul Jackson, Jr. Is one of the most sought after guitarists in Michael Jackson’s Thriller, several Whitney Houston hits, and many more. Everette Harp has shared the stage with music giants Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, Billy Joel and Patti LaBelle. A real hit maker, Jazziz magazine praises his “incredible virtuosity”, the Jazz Times calls him “a rare talent”.

Highlights of the album include “Ready Freddi”, the super funky “Where You’re At” and the spirited “Exotic”. Scheduled for release January 25, 2019 on Shanachie Entertainment Group.

Patrick Lamb – Soul Ties

Patrick Lamb is the saxophonist of the stars. He performs with Gino Vannelli, Bobby Caldwell, Esperanza Spalding, Jeff Lorber Fusion, Tommy Thayer, Diane Schuur, Bobby Kimball, Alice Cooper, and Smokey Robinson. However, his limited time still allows him to successfully pursue his solo career.

This we tie to his albums, as there are The Closer I Get (2000), Sunshine Alley (2002), With A Christmas Heart (2003), Soul Of A Free Man (2007), Don’t Get No Better (2007) as duo with Patsy Meyer, It’s All Right Now (2011), Pick Up The Pieces (2013), and this year Soul Ties.

Patrick plays sax on all tracks and is supported by Alex Al (bass), Tony Maiden (guitar), Jeff Lorber (keyboards), Lil John Roberts (drums). Cameron Morgan plays the second guitar on Liner Cross. Patrick has written all tracks with the exception of two covers. Listening to the introducing track Tailgate, makes it immediately audible that Patrick approaches his themes with raw energy and an irrepressible presence.

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Branly, Ruiz, Haslip – Elemental

Top musicians have a certain resemblance to star chefs. Their outstanding position is based on talent and a lot of passion. When three musical greats come together, then we experience an event of a special kind, fusion jazz in the truest sense of the word. Otmaro Ruiz, Jimmy Branly, and Jimmy Haslip form Elemental.

On the new album Otmaro Ruiz performs piano, Fender Rhodes and synths, Jimmy Branly drums, and Jimmy Haslip electric bass. Ruiz has written all tracks with the exception of Boomtown, which is from the Yellowjackets album Mint Jam (2001).

The aptly titled introduction A Good Start presents three of the most talented contemporary jazz players on the scene in a breathtaking action. Otmar Ruiz keeps the music flowing on synth and keys while Branly and Haslip provide the right rhythmic frame for it.

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