Archive for the ‘ Pop ’ Category

Tim Bowman – The 80’s

80sGuitarist Tim Bowman hails from Detroit, and has been playing with quite a few gospel artists since the mid-nineties. At the same time he released his own music, but fame came later, more specifically in 2008 when his first CD came out on the Trippin N Rhythm label.

Now his latest project has been released, on which he pays tribute to well-known pop and soul songs from the eighties, hence the title. He says the following: “Some of my favorite songs were recorded in the 80’s by some amazing artists. I wanted to record some of those great songs.”

This album is a dream project for fans of that era. Tim teamed up with producer Wirlie Morris, who has worked with Charlie Wilson, Norman Brown, Boys II Men, Johnny Gill, Xscape, Keith Sweat, Raheem DeVaughn and others. Both did not want to reinvent these classics, but rather to highlight their musical qualities. They incorporated R&B, smooth jazz, blues and gospel into these tracks.

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Christophe Goze – Slow

slowGuitarist, writer and producer Christophe Goze can already look back on twelve solo albums and his thirst is far from quenched. Only recently I reviewed his album Soul To Soul, released this year, and already he surprises us with a new album.

The album is called Slow and this title is also the program. Stylistically the album can be classified in many areas, lounge, chill, smooth jazz & even pop. All fourteen pieces have one thing in common, they are slow and relaxing. Predominantly songs there are also instrumental interludes, more about that later.

The album opens with the areal Dreams & Promises featuring singer Cathy Battistessa. A dreamy song that makes you forget the worries of everyday life and takes you to the dreamscape of oblivion. The melancholic ballad She Said presents vocalist Odis Palmer. Actually a voice you’d expect to hear in R&B or hip hop, Odis believably brings emotion across.

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Sergio Romano – Skies

skiesHailing from Rome, Italy pianist Sergio Romano has studied composition at the Conservatorio Santa Cecilia in Rome, where he also got a diploma in pianoforte. After a long professional career he has now released his debut album Skies (2021).

Stylistically, his music belongs to neoclassical pop, as whose best-known representative Richard Clyderman is listed. It’s a solo piano album with thirteen compositions all written by Sergio Romano.

The title of the opening piece It All Began Like This has something programmatic. Sergio has been inspired by the fugues of Johann Sebastian Bach, to whom he also dedicated the piece.

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Paul Hardcastle – Hardcastle IX

Many have remembered Paul Hardcastle through his huge hits King Tut19Just For Money or Rainforest. However, he was never able to build on these really great successes again.  But the smooth jazz community knows him all the better through his numerous series like Kiss the Sky (with Jaki Graham) and The Jazzmasters, as well as under his real name Paul Hardcastle.

The latest The Jazzmasters album was VII in 2014, Hardcastle VIII was released in 2018, The Chill Lounge Vol. 3 in 2015 and The Chill Lounge Vol. 4 in April, 2020. If you want to get an overview of his complete works, I recommend this website.

Paul Hardcastle is one of those musicians who deny themselves live performances. This is probably mainly due to the fact that he creates most of his albums as a multi-instrumentalist. Also on his latest album he crafts his music on this solo way. Flugelhorn player Gary Winters, saxophonist Rock Hendricks, and vocalist Maxine Hardcastle, his daughter, are as well on this recordings.

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Bluey – Tinted Sky

He is regarded as the forefather of the British acid jazz and jazz funk movement. In the main profession musician, in the secondary profession band founder and talent promoter. The Mauritius born music genius Jean Paul Maunik, better known as Bluey, co-founded the band Light Of The World before he achieved world fame with the group Incognito. Never self-sufficient, he founded the side projects Citrus Sun and Innershade and to complete the portrait he already released his solo albums Leap Of Faith (2013) and Life Between The Notes (2015).  With some delay his third solo album Tinted Sky will be released in June on Dôme Records (UK) and Shanachie Entertainment (USA).

Bluey performs on the new album lead guitar, keyboards and vocals. Richard Bull plays guitar, keyboards and all other instruments. He is also responsible for programming, recording, mixing and mastering. All songs were produced, written and arranged by both.

Bluey also provides the explanation for this intimate two-man project. “When you live in a large family in one house, it’s great to pack up in the middle of the night and disappear where nobody knows your name, live off the land and to do things without the big picture in mind. Just do! That’s what this is!”

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Kirk Whalum – Humanité

Sax legend Kirk Whalum is as I already stated in another review a wanderer between the two worlds of smooth jazz and Gospel music. With his new album Humanité he breaks through this scheme.

Humanité is an album, whose music is formed in mosaic shape by the musicians and their involved personalities they have brought in to the recording process. Among many others the following musicians are participating: Japanese jazz pianist Keiko Matsui, the young bass phenomenon Barry Likumahuwa, gifted singer/songwriter Grace Sahertian and global pop star Indonesian singer/actor Afgansyah Reza, known to many as Afgan, vocalist/guitarist Zahara, one of South Africa’s biggest stars, Kasiva Mutwa of Nairobi, and the veteran UK jazz vocalist Liane Carroll.

Curtis Mayfield’s song Move On Up has lost none of its radiance since its inception in the ’70s. Especially in the last months you can meet his song in ever new variations. Kirk Whalum goes his own way with his interpretation which is settled near a jazzy attitude in a Weather Report way. Singer Brendan Reilly is sensationally excellent.

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Monkey House – Friday

Monkey House is a band consisting of the core members singer, songwriter, keyboardist Don Breithaupt, drummer Mark Kelso, bassist Pat Kilbride, and guitarist Justin Abedin.

On their new album Friday (2019) the band is supported by the elite Toronto horn section of William Sperandei, Vern Dorge, John Johnson, William Carn and Tony Carlucci, as well as percussionist Art Avalos.

The new album is written by Breithaupt with the exception of one cover. Those who are not familiar with the music of this formation, will quickly remark by listening to 10,000 Hours that this music is neither jazz nor smooth jazz. According to my own musical experience the group is comparable to 10CC, Godley & Creme or Steely Dan.

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Maxine Hardcastle – The Collection

Smooth jazz/soul vocalist Maxine Hardcastle,  daughter of Paul Hardcastle, has released her first album The Collection feat. Paul Hardcastle, Nate Harrasim, Daren Rahn, Dewey Bunnell and Ryan Farish.

From a very young age Maxine was influenced by her father, Paul Hardcastle, an iconic 80’s pop star & music producer. A collaboration between the two hit no.1 on the American billboard charts, and Maxine went on to produce and sing on releases with labels including Universal, Ministry of Sound, Pacha, Hed Kandi, Deeperfect, Nurvous, King street records, regularly hitting top spots across the Beatport charts.

The Collection presents Maxine’s vocal contributions to hit albums like Nate Harasim’s Different Kind Of Love from his album Rush, Darren Rahn’s Speechless from the same titled album, Paul Hardcastle’s A Horse With No Name from his album Hardcastle 8 and many more.

The album is on sale at iTunes.

Tristan – The Spice Of Five

The Dutch formation Tristan consists of the band members Evelyn Kallansee (vocals), Guy Nikkels (guitars), Coen Molenaar (keyboards), Sebastian Cornelissen (drums) and Frans Vollink (bass). Their debut album Full Power (2014) features US soul singer Heston, UK saxophone maestro Nigel Hitchcock and legendary American trumpeter Randy Brecker.

Their sophomore album 2nd Phase followed in 2015. Further albums are Lifestyle (2016) and a Live in Concert album (2017). Their new album The Spice Of Five will be released on April 5, 2019. This time the band didn’t invite other musicians but relied on their own values. The result was a studio album that is quite close to their live music and fully reflects the character of the band.

Hands Up is the ultimate request to the audience to surrender their sympathy for the inviting sonic sound of the group. Stylistically the band stays closely to formations like Incognito, Brand New Heavies or Shakatak whereby the group seeks its own European approach.

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Neamen – Moment Of Truth

Arizona native sax performer Neamen Lyles aka Neamen began his solo career striving to be a smooth jazz star. In this rare case, claim and reality coincide. Recordings and performances with the likes of Jeff Lorber, Rick Braun, Mel Brown, Mindi Abair and sharing events with Dave Koz, Jay Soto, Greg Karrukas and others speak a clear language.

He dispelled all doubts with his debut work So Free (2011), which was highly praised by critics. Now he continues his earlier success and has released his second album Moment Of Truth together with Jay Soto, with whom he also produced his debut album.

Neamen performs on the new album tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, Jay Soto guitars and keyboards. Jay also made mixing and engineering. Additional musicians are Austin Carthell, Rachelle Youngberg, Eric Loveres,  Erika Schiff, Steve Lane and Crystal Stark (lead vocals), Jodi Light (background vocals), Tom Gioia, Marlon McClain (guitars), Mikey B (B3), Mel Brown, Mario Mendivil (bass), Tony Mora, Yon Yokobian (drums and percussion), Rick Peron, Carlos Chavez (trumpet), Bobby Hastings, Bradon Larson (tenor sax) and Hiram Perez (baritone sax).

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