Archive for the ‘ R&B ’ Category

Tower of Power – Soul Side of Town

Tower of Power – the most dynamic and distinctive band among Soul survivors music – is experiencing its unprecedented 50th anniversary with a dynamic album consisting of new material. A passionate endeavor, definitely soul side of town. A package of 14 guaranteed filler-free songs. As always, the songs were mainly from the founding members Emilio Castillo and Stephen “Doc” Kupka who also composed the world famous 5-man Keep Tower of Power Horns at bay.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Tower of Power, Leader Emilio Castillo brought together both mastering engineer Bernie Grundman and Joe Vannelli as co-producers. In addition to the legendary rhythm section Drums and Bass Lock by David Garibaldi and Francis Rocco Prestia TOP consists of guitarist Jerry Cortez, Hammond B3 Organizer / keyboardist Roger Smith, the 1st tenor saxophonist Tom Politzer and the trumpeters Adolfo Acosta and Sal Cracchiolo.

Soul Side of Town is also blessed with two lead singers: outgoing Ray Greene and the new Marcus Scott (bravely featured on several pieces, including ‘Hangin’ With My Baby “). The 10-headed band Tower of Power is ready to go on a solemn tour (fall). Sweet-spots around the globe will involve losing the ground under your feet. This album was released in April, 2018 on Mack Avenue, available in all stores.

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The Jamal Thomas Band – Funk Don’t Move

Jamal Thomas is an excellent drummer with more than 30 years performance experience. He played with Maceo Parker, the SOS Band and the producer duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis.

His solo debut was Family, a vocal album. His newest project is the Jamal Thomas Band, a loose formation with changing members. This band was founded in 2009. The first album was Future in 2013. Funk Don’t Move (2017) is the sophomore album.

The band consists of Jamal Thomas (drums & lead vocals), Maya Lisa (lead & backing vocals), Alex Bernath (drums & rap), Daniel Lottersberger (bass), Coen Molenaar (keys & synth bass), Frank Deruytter ( sax & backing vocals) and Guy Nikkels (guitar). Guest musicians on selected tracks are Chuck Leavell ( piano, Hammond) and Rodney “Skeet” Curtis (bass).

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D Rolark – Soulidify

Multi-Instrumentalist D Rolark releases his most soulful album to date, Soulidify. A sophisticated blend of Smooth Jazz, Soul, R&B, Funk, and Inspirational, Soulidify encompasses D Rolark on keys, Piccolo Bass, 5-String Bass, Rhythm Guitar, Drums, and his debut on vocals, also featuring smooth & soulful inspirational vocalist Tamirah Leigh Terry. Soulidify presents the opening Minneapolis funk/Marcus Miller-inspired track, “Get On Up”, the smooth/soulful dance title track, the socially conscious anthem “Let Love Arise” which features D Rolark’s debut on vocals along with Tamirah Leigh Terry, the impressing track “Giving My All 2 U”, the Isley Brothers/Wayman Tisdale-inspired “Peace of Mind”, the Gregg Karukas-influenced “Lake View”, and the smoothness of “Positive Perspective”. Be prepared to be soulidified from a smooth soulful spiritual perspective.

This album is available on CDBaby.

Philippe Saisse Trio – On The Level!

It was back in 2007, with his tight cover of the Steely Dan hit ‘Do It Again’, that the multi-talented Philippe Saisse had the surprise radio hit of the year. It was taken from the album The Body And Soul Sessions, a collection that was replete with shimmering examples of familiar, yet delightfully re-imagined, favorites. Two years later he followed up with the immaculate At Worlds Edge and since then, aided somewhat by relocation from New York to LA, he has become a ‘go to’ producer and performer with work for artists such as Peter White, Paul Brown and Rick Braun.

His latest collection is titled On The Level with the same-titled single, a wonderful example of contemporary jazz piano that features percussionist Gumbi Ortiz and guitarist Marc Antoine. The band consists of keyboardist Saisse, drummer Skoota Warner, bassist David Finck, and vocalist/percussionist Gumbi Ortiz.

The new album is available at Amazon.com.

Ron Otis – Stay In Your Lane

A common denominator of Earl Klugh, Bob James or Al Turner is drummer Ron Otis. You find him in addition to on recordings of Kim Scott, Lin Rountree, Brian O’Neal, Justin Young, Dave McMurray, Alexander Zonjic, Al McKenzie, Charles Greene, Randy Scott and more.

After his debut album Upfront (2009), Stay In Your Lane (2017) is his sophomore album. The album comprises nine musical works, shaped by alternating teams of musicians, in which drummer Ron Otis is the common factor and style-forming element.

Low Beat is a creation by pianist Charles Scales, who together with Ron and bassist Al Turner forms a punchy trio. The ground patterns are layered by Charles with a signature clavinet part on which he expands his spacious piano excursion. The theme accelerates in a staccato tempo, a great basis for Ron, to elaborate a filigree structure on the various percussion ensembles.

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Julian Vaughn – Bona Fide

Kansas City very own bass player Julian Vaughn has already three jokers on his hand, his self-released debut The Purpose Project (2010), Breakthrough (2012) and Limitless (2015). Now he plays his fourth joker Bona Fide (2017), the third album which is released on the label Trippin’ N Rhythm.

Julian performs on all tracks with the exception of Bona Fide bass and gathered together on selected tracks some fine names of the smooth jazz scene such as Mel Brown (bass), Adam Hawley, Matt Godina, Justus West, Gerey Johnson and Mike Hart (guitar), Nicholas Cole, Jeremy Nixon, Aaron Mayfield (keyboards), Jeremy Thomas (keyboards, organ), Elan Trotman, Marcus Anderson, LeBron Dennis and Steve Cole (sax), Lin Rountree (trumpet), Lester Estelle and Marcus Finnie (drums), Anthony Saunders and Isaac Cates (vocals).

Julian Vaughn has written most of the tracks with the exception of three songs. The album takes a fulminate start with the title song featuring Steve Cole on sax and Mel Brown on bass. Steve Cole has compiled a full program with overdub and a polished arrangement, while Mel performs the bass in a Wayman Tisdale mode similar to Julian’s treatment of the bass.

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Soil & “Pimp” Sessions – Black Track

Don’t let the name fool you. Soil & “Pimp” Sessions is a group of Japanese musicians whose brand of jazz is unconventional, yet noteworthy. Their new release, Black Track (Red River Entertainment, 2017) combines elements of what’s commonly known as “black music,” a mix of R&B, hip-hop and jazz.

“By Your Side” features special guests Bambu and Nia Andrews. It’s a soulful rap. Unlike conventional hip-hop where the rap and the beat are all that matters, this song is underscored by a hybrid of smooth jazz and R&B instrumentation. Bambu handles the rap skillfully, like some of the old-school artists of the genre. Andrews provides a change of mood, singing the melody in a soft, romantic style. As the song progresses, a lead vocal sings different lyrics while the title is sung in the background, following the phrase of “For Your Love,” an obscure album track from producer Peter Brown’s only release as a vocalist. The piano and soprano sax are prominent throughout.

“Black Milk” is a lively instrumental. The main theme features the soprano out front, joined by a trumpet on alternating phrases. Emphasis on bass line and percussion complementing the other instruments. The piano and soprano are frantic during their high-speed solos. And just when you think they’re about to revert to the main theme, the soprano enters a mind-blowing sequence, with the piano offering a Latin-style counter-solo.

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