Archive for the ‘ Jazz Fusion ’ Category

Carlos Camilo – Rhodes’ Rage

Rhode-s-RageCarlos Camilo is a pianist, singer, composer and producer hailing from Cuba and currently based in Miami. At just 3 years old, Carlos Camilo began playing the piano. By the time he was 11, he was composing his own music. Today, he composes anything from smooth jazz to R&B and pop. In 2012, he released his first album titled Dim the Lights, which was a smooth jazz instrumental piano album and one he says has been his most influential.  “I like to give a positive vibe with my music, making the world a better place one song at a time,” Camilo said.

Growing up in Cuba, his music is inspired by traditional Cuban flavor mixed with American music. “Love is a key player in my songs,” he said. “I’m forever intrigued and passionate about its power and how influential it is to all of us. Without love, we’re simply mechanical beings.”

Today, Carlos Camilo mainly creates Smooth Jazz, R&B, and POP. He’s released more than ten albums, and multiple singles independently and had played his music all over the globe with other artists, including Spanish Latin superstar, David Bisbal, and International Salsa Singer “India”. Currently, he’s working on his own band called Carlos Camilo and the Live Dimension. All in all, Carlos Camilo hopes to make a living doing what he loves with creating music, and completely immerse himself in it.

His newest album is Rhodes’ Rage (2022)  feat. Juan Silveira and Carlos Corpas, which you can buy here.

Brian Grace – Long Beach

longbeachSaxophonist, jazz composer and multi-instrumentalist Brian Grace began his musical career as a professional musician at a young age of 19. He spent a large part of his following years in various Army Bands before moving into the field of contemporary jazz.

Brian counts ten solo albums among his original body of work. The three latest are The Streets of San Francisco (2015), Stratosphere (2017) and his newest project Long Beach (2022). Brian considers his musical focus to be fusion jazz. He himself describes his stylistic home as progressive jazz.

Brian performs on his new album tenor & alto saxophones, piano, organs, guitars, strings, vibes, tubular bells, triangle, sound effects. As can be seen from the credits, Brian has been able to attract some big names in contemporary jazz to his EP. On all tracks you can hear the well-known bass player Jimmy Haslip, who has already proved to be a valuable support for many fusion jazz players.

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Bill Ortiz – Points Of View

pointsofviewTrumpeter Bill Ortiz may not be well known to the general public, but it is quite different in musician circles. His roots are firmly anchored in jazz. After all, he has played with greats like Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter or Chick Corea. His performing activities also extend to musicians such as Boz Scaggs, Buddy Guy, Tony Toni Toné, En Vogue, Johny “Guitar” Watson and Destiny’s Child.

His first two solo albums, From Where I Stand (2009) and Highest Wish (2012), reflect this wide-ranging spectrum of activity. Bill Ortiz also feels at home in the realm of Latin music, with which he is connected by performances with Tito Puente and Pete Escovedo.

This musical career eventually led him to an intensive collaboration with Carlos Santana. He can be heard as lead trumpet player on Santana’s hit Smooth (1999) for example, which finally led to extensive touring work with the famed guitarist until 2016. Bill’s third solo album Points Of View (2022) is based on this musical period and adapts this style.

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Special EFX – Twenty Twenty 2

275042008_381756920618322_4477729908728617706_nGuitarist Chieli Minucci is since 1982 the musical heart of the formation Special EFX. With the new album Twenty Twenty 2 (2022) new times are dawning for him. Most of the music was written and recorded during the first years of the enduring pandemic. Now what has been recorded is brought to the stage.

Chieli Minucci plays on this album acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, synth kalimba, arrangements and vocals. From his large circle of friends, the following musicians have joined the recordings: Lionell Cordew (drums), Jerry Brooks (bass), Jay Rowe (organ), Richie Cannata (flute, saxophone), Mino Cinélu (pecussion), John Favicchia (drums), Joel Rosenblatt (drums), Lao Tizer (Hammond organ, electric and acoustic piano), Gianlucca Minucci (bass), Ric Fierabracci (bass), Nelson Rangell (flute), Antoine Silverman (violin), Eric Marienthal (saxophone), Dave Anderson (fretless bass), Lin Rountree (trumpet), and Oli Silk (piano). Enough musicians for a complete festival.

The album opens with the longest tune of the album, In Memory of Elizabeth Reed. This instrumental composition was originally created by The Allman Brothers Band and appeared on their second studio album, Idlewild South (1970). More information about the original and about Elizabeth Reed is to find here. Chieli was infected by this classic Southern Rock song and just slightly altered the guitar sound.

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Brooklyn Bridge – Here Now

here20nowSyracuse, Italy based multi-instrumentalist and producer Fabio Puglesi is already known by projects such as Soul Basement and The Park Avenue Experience. His newest project is Brooklyn Bridge presenting the album Here Now (2022).

The bass driven opener In Our Lifetime reveals with the bebop excursions of the saxophonist, who also boldly takes on dissonant tones that the piece likes to move into the realm of contemporary jazz. Fabio counters with tight melodic keystrokes, but the playing of the saxophone drifts off into the jazzy.

Actually, the road is not for dreaming because of the heavy traffic. With Highway Dreams you can definitely make an exception, although the fast-paced element drives you rather than relaxes you. The playing length of the pieces also give ample room for solo interludes like the furious one of Fabio on piano, which can justifiably be called such.

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Iñaki Arakistain – The Sun Shines Again

xmxxdpuuy77kb_600Iñaki Arakistain opens us to a musical concept unprecedented until now in Spain made by a saxophonist, in which groove music coexists, with influences from Brazilian music, Latin Funk, as well as recently merging Flamenco with those styles, thus enriching its new projects united by the common language of jazz.

The Sun Shines Again (2022) is his newest project.

Buy this album here.

Micah Graves – Pawns

pawnsThe 23-year old American pianist Micah Graves began his tutelage taking classical piano lessons when he was 13. Two years later, he switched to jazz piano, studying at the Philadelphia Clef of Jazz.

After a scholarship at Berklee, he attended Temple University. Micah stayed 6 months in Amsterdam as an exchange student. When he returned home in Philadelphia, he wanted to start writing music.

He now teaches 45+ students at the Settlement Music School and ensembles there. Due to the pandemic, he has released three projects in less than a year, ‘Med Nama’ and ‘In My Fairytale’ , plus this one.

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Thomas Heflin – Morning Star

Thomas-Heflin-Morning-StarMorning Star is presented as a late-night radio show (complete with station IDs, and a radio DJ) and features songs that flow effortlessly from one to the next. The music on “Morning Star” features a traditional jazz group underpinned by layers of Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ and strings, as well as percussion and additional woodwinds to create a warm, soulful sound reminiscent of the CTI recordings of the 1970s. The music also fuses elements of modern jazz with R&B, gospel, and neo-soul.

The album was conceived around the title track “Morning Star,” and listeners may notice reworked snippets of the bassline and melody from the title track in other songs on the album. The music was recorded at the beginning of the CoVid outbreak, and the “morning star” – the last star seen at night before the new day arrives – also serves as a musical symbol of hope and optimism through these dark times. The radio DJ (Brandon Robertson) presents the tracks through poetic words of encouragement, creating the feeling of listening to an inspirational radio host during a late-night car ride.

The album features several notable musicians including world-renowned tenor saxophonist Gregory Tardy (Elvin Jones), Mavis “Swan” Poole (Lauryn Hill, Prince) on vocals, Peter Stoltzman (Steve Gadd/Eddie Gomez) on piano, Steve Haines on bass, Aaron Matson on guitar, Ariel Pocock on vocals, Xavier Ware on drums, Dan Hitchcock on woodwinds and Jorge Luis Torres “Papiosco” (¡Cubanismo!) on percussion.
According to Heflin, “The music for the album is inspired things that bring me joy and hope. “Morning Star” is the Slavic translation of my wife’s first name. ‘Anna Breschine’ is my daughter’s name and ‘The Moon Singer’ is inspired by a book by Clyde Robert Bulla that I like to read to her at night. In the story, a lonely child sings beautiful, wordless melodies to himself out in the forest. Evensong, which means ‘a service of evening prayers’ is meant to evoke a late-night musical meditation. Haiku is a quirky song based on the chord changes of one of my favorite jazz standards, Benny Golson’s ‘Stablemates.'” Continue reading

Robert Christa / Tom Reif – Free As A Bird

freeasabirdGerman pianist and composer Robert Christa is best known in the smooth jazz genre by his solo projects Nightflight To Rio (2015), City Lights (2017) and Smooth World (2019). His new album is a collaboration with the multi-instrumentalist Tom Reif entitled Free As A Bird (2021).

Robert Christa has written all tracks and plays Rhodes, piano and keys. Tom Reif has arranged, mixed and produced the tracks and performs guitars, guitar synth, fretless bass, keyboards, loops, percussion, programming and was co-composer on three tracks. Additional artists are Herb Berger (harp) and Tommy Eberhardt (drums).

The album opens with the sun-drenched Sunset Boulevard, from which Christa and Reif can definitely derive romantic aspects. Christa follows with the opening track to the familiar smooth jazz style of his previous album.

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Christoph Spendel Group – Avenue E

avenueeJazz piano virtuoso Christoph Spendel has developed a multitude of projects in his remarkable decades-long creative period, which would require a professional biographer to document. Despite his now advanced age, his creative energy is still brimming with new ideas, which are reflected in numerous releases and formations.

Among these countless projects, the Christoph Spendel Group stands out. It consists of the musicians Peter Klohmann (flute, saxes), Thomas Heidepriem (bass), Martin Standke (drums) as well as founder and name-giver Christoph Spendel (piano, keyboards). The formation as such already exists since the 80s in changing line-ups. Christoph has a long-standing friendship with the bassist Thomas Heidepriem, who comes from Freiburg. The other two musicians, presenting the young generation, recommended themselves through different projects.

The album starts with the title song, which brings all the tonal power of the well-tempered piano into the melodic harmony. Peter Klohman shares the melody accompanying on soprano saxophone. Behind the title  Avenue E lies the “Eschersheimer Landstraße”, Frankfurt’s lifeline, a vivid street in Christoph Spendel’s adopted home city.

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