Archive for the ‘ Contemporary Jazz ’ Category

Steve Oliver – Illuminate

Multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Steve Oliver is known for his distinctive style, which results from three components. Foremost a jazz guitarist, he follows his guitar performance with his voice. This jazz singing wherein words are sung note for note to melodies is called vocalese. Steve Oliver’s trademark is the wordless vocalese. The third component is the Roland (Boss) GR-33 guitar synthesizer which bases on the Roland JV-1080 sounds and is triggered by his guitars.

His album Illuminate is now available, his 11th career album. Steve has written and produced all songs. He plays all guitars, guitar synth, vocal sounds, bass, keyboards, drums, sound design. On selected tracks he is joined by Joel Taylor (drums), Cory de Brake, Jimmy Haslip, KT Tylor (bass), Walle Larsson, Chase Huna, Nelson Rangell, BillyRay Sheppard (saxophone), Tateng Katindig (piano), and Craig Chessnut (percussion).

The best way to get started on a new project is to get going at full steam. The aptly titled Full Tilt features Steve Oliver as master at work in the style he is known for and loved by his audience. The Game Is On serves syncopated thrill with exciting freshness.

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The Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra – Get It How You Live

How diverse the term jazz is interpreted, is only revealed in the confrontation with the music of new artists. The Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra gives us with Get It How You Live (2018) a new approach to that elitist style of music that is revitalized by renewal.

The trumpeter Russell Gunn is the spiritus rector of this formation, which has its own identity through the term Orkestra. The Atlanta Georgia based Big Band is not just a onetime project for recording but shows constancy with regular live events. Russell Gunn is producer, conductor, arranger, composer of this debut album.

A great formation deserves a pompous introduction by Dashill Smith on Get It How You Live (Intro)Sybil’s Blues is an integral part of Russell’s repertoire. The piece was originally recorded on his album Ethnomusicology Volume 1 (1999). With the four albums of this series, he showed his highly personal mixture of jazz and hip hop.

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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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Michael Franks – The Music In My Head

Celebrating 45 years as a recording artist since his highly collectible self-titled debut album on the Brut/ Buddah label bowed in 1973, singer/songwriter Michael Franks hovers dragonfly-like in a sacred space all his own within his contributions to the artform of music. Liberatingly non-categorizable, Franks is in possession of unique fan bases around the world across jazz, quiet storm, adult contemporary, pop, contemporary jazz, folk and even blues styles. His songs have been lovingly covered by a wide range of artists that includes Ringo Starr, Natalie Cole, The Carpenters, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Diana Krall, Lyle Lovett, Al Jarreau, Carmen McRae, The Manhattan Transfer and Patti LaBelle, to name only a few.

And some of his most well-known compositions – lyrical marvels wedded to his laidback delivery of vocalizing, produced, arranged and cast with some of the finest musicians in jazz and session lore – range from ethereal (“The Lady Wants to Know”) to sensual (“Tell Me All About It”) to playful (“Popsicle Toes”) to edgy (“The Camera Never Lies”) to evocative (“Tiger in the Rain”) to cinematic (“Nightmoves”) to seasonal (“Christmas in Kyoto”) to comforting (“Inside You”) to outrageous (“Now That Your Joystick’s Broke”) to sublime (“Still Life”) and beyond. What James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon have contributed to pop-rock music in terms of singer/songwriter excellence, Michael Franks has accomplished as their iconic equivalent in the realms of contemporary jazz and the quiet storm.

For his 18th album and first in seven years, Michael provides America and the world at large a cerebellum-massaging musical survival kit of 10 new songs…an audio travelogue that turns our attention to the wonders of Creation and Mother Nature strewn with bread crumbs that additionally lead us to lofty literature, works of art, love, divinity…and tea. Titled The Music in My Head, it is a snapshot of the artist in his autumnal here and now, lost up in the fruits of his quietly profound career success, his loving wife Claudia, seven cats and two dogs, the idyllic wooded environ in which he lives, and the blessing of still firing on all cylinders in his wondrous endeavors of expression. Joining Michael in the process are producer/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, friend and guitarist Chuck Loeb (Fourplay), and for the first-time pianist Rachel Z (to whom Michael pays a major compliment comparing her solo on “To Spend The Day With You” to the work of Joe Sample and Joao Donato on his early classic albums.) Continue reading

Uncle Los Music – Black Bottom Cupcake

San Francisco/Bay Area composer, arranger and multi instrumentalist Carlos Sanders aka Uncle Los, has assembled a group of prolific musicians to create the finest smooth jazz you can imagine.

Among them are Ced Dennis (guitar), Joel Griffin and Jay Lane (drums), Vic Little and Ari Cap (bass), and Michael Spiro (percussion). The  horn section encompasses Clifford Brown III (trumpet) and Tony Peebles (sax). Together they are Uncle Los Music.

The formation started with Say Something (2013) and now returns with the delicious desert Black Bottom Cupcake (2018). The term Muse comes from Greek mythology and commonly describes a female person of divine origin, who inspires the artist to creative action. The music style of Uncle Los Music is based on an urban mix of R & B, funk and jazz rock.

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David Garfield – Jazz Outside the Box

Well known as musical director of George Benson keyboardist David Garfield pursues his own dream as a solo artist. His debut album was a homage to the late drummer Jeff Pocaro Tribute to Jeff (1997).

Next albums were I Am The Cat…Man (1997), Music From Riding Bean (2001), Giving Back (2003), Seasons Of Change, The State of Things, Tribute To Jeff Revisited (2005). His newest project is Jazz Outside The Box (2018).

Garfield performs on the new album piano, Fender Rhodes and synthesizers. Further players are trumpeter Wallace Roney, percussionist Poncho Sanchez and drummer Steve Jordan. Guest musicians are Randy Brecker, Michael McDonald, Tom Scott, Eric Marienthal, Pete Christlieb, Bennie Maupin, Brian Auger, Will Lee, Airto Moreira, the Charlie Bisharat String Quartet, an orchestra conducted by John Clayton, the late guitarists Chuck Loeb and Larry Coryell, and John Densmore, who plays drums and orates on a spoken word segment.

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Tony Craddock Jr. & Cold Front – H2O

Washington, DC-based saxophonist Tony Craddock Jr. has founded his label Cold Front Music, LLC in 2011. The first album was Christmas in the Air (2011), followed by Convection (2013). His third album H20 offers uplifting contemporary jazz on the soprano and alto saxophones, with a few vocal songs too. The album features guitarist Ken Navarro, saxophonist Kirk Whalum and vocalist Ashli Rice on selected tracks.

H20, the chemical formula for water, is recommended by Ronald Jackson (Smooth Jazz Ride), who discovered “definitely an element of sophistication”.

Check it out on CDBaby.

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