Archive for the ‘ R&B ’ Category

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.

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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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Maysa – Love Is A Battlefield

The critics are raving, the audience is captivated. Everything Maysa is touching with her voice turns to gold. She is the undisputed queen of soul, R&B, acid jazz and all that genres she comes in contact with.

Her new album Love Is A Battlefield revolves around the topic love like many of her previous projects. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that the starting track has the title The Things We Do For Love. With the enchanting love ballade she echoes her unrequited emotive affection. Producers Chris “Big Dog” Davis has perfectly captured the magic moment of ultimate sweetness.

Can We Talk is a song recorded by R&B singer Tevin Campbell and composed and produced by Babyface. Maysa changes the persons in the lyrics to give the song more sense. When she intonates her truly rewarding vocals, the sun stands still shining right on your place. The million-selling sound explosion Love Is a Battlefield by Pat Benatar is up-tempo and rebelliously minded. Maysa slows down the song to a spiritual content, and the ability to involve the listener in an intense dialogue.

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Grainger – Phase III: Lets Go Back

Whoever was waiting for a new album of the group Grainger had to bring great stamina. Brothers Gary Grainger (bass guitar, tenor bass, keyboards and vocals) and Gregory K. Grainger (drums, percussion, keyboards and vocals) have started their project with the debut album Phase I in 1998, soon followed by Phase II in 2002.

Finally, after a longer than anticipated time both show some understanding and release Phase III: Lets Go Back, an EP with the promise for more to come. This time sequence can be explained with the fact, that the brothers belong to the most active musicians in the history of music. Reading their biography is in this context very helpful.

Guest musicians on this album are saxophonist Kim Waters, vocalists Brian Fox and Freedom Imani, and keyboardist Jim Beard, who performs in John Scofield’s band.

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Alan and Lita Blake – Key Strikes

Alan and Lita Blake have a style all their own. It’s a fusion of jazz, dance, r&b, soul, ethnic and popular music that transcends traditional borders.
They have toured and recorded with artists such as the late Grover Washington Jr., the late George Howard, Jean Carne, Kevin Eubanks, and Rachelle Ferrell. The self-produced variety CD You’re The One For Me was released in 2004. Further albums are I Will Be There for U (2012) and more.

There newest album is Key Strikes (2017), a mostly instrumental smooth jazz piano cover journey through popular r&b hits. Get the album at CDBaby.