Archive for the ‘ Smooth Jazz ’ Category

Mindi Abair & The Boneshakers – Mindi Abair & the Boneshakers Live in Seattle

MindiAbair_LiveInSeattleIn a career that spans seven solo albums and countless collaborations in the studio and live on stage, Mindi Abair has made her mark as one of the most recognizable saxophonists in the US. You may know her as the saxophonist on American Idol, or the only saxophonist to tour with rock legends Aerosmith since 1973. You may have seen her on stage with Bruce Springsteen for a historic night at the Beacon Theater, or tuned in as she joined Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra on the Late Show with David Letterman, or caught her recent appearance at The Grand Ole Opry or as Al Pacino’s sax player in Danny Collins.

Her seven solo CDs have garnered ten #1 radio hits, six top 5 spots and two #1 spots on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz album chart. Abair received a 2014 GRAMMY® nomination in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category for Summer Horns, a #1 recording with her friends Dave Koz, Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot, and more recently received a 2015 GRAMMY® nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for her solo cd Wild Heart.

After Wild Heart, Abair wanted to translate its edgier rock/soul sound to the stage. She called longtime friend Randy Jacobs (Bonnie Raitt, Was (Not Was), Willie Nelson) to join her live band. Randy brought his Detroit blues/rock edge to her music. In June, Randy’s band, The Boneshakers, was playing The Newport Beach Jazz Festival on the same bill as Mindi’s band, and she hopped on stage to “sit in” with The Boneshakers. “There was so much electricity on stage. We all felt it. The blues and rock just pulsed through me. Everyone played with complete abandon,” Abair said. “It felt like home. And most of my band was also playing with Randy’s band. It was really only about hiring longtime Boneshakers vocalist Sweet Pea Atkinson (Bonnie Raitt, Was (Not Was), Lyle Lovett). So we made it official and hit the road as Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers.” Which brings us to Mindi Abair & the Boneshakers Live in Seattle, set for release September 25, 2015 on Heads Up, a division of Concord Music Group. Continue reading

Jesse Cook – One World

OneWorldConstantinople, the ancient melting pot mecca intersecting Europe, India, Middle East and Africa, serves as the inspiration for the adventurous sonic explorations of One World, the ninth studio album from world music guitarist Jesse Cook. Joining primal instrumentation from all over the globe with rhythmic loops, textured audioscapes and technological experimentation, Cook’s eOne Music release, which debuted at No. 1 on the jazz and world music charts in the Canadian’s homeland, will receive it’s official U.S. release on October 2 tied to the launch of the first leg of the American “One World” concert tour, scheduled to play 18 cities this fall beginning October 7 in Tucson, Arizona. Riding off to radio stations early next month is the exotic call-and-response frolic “Taxi Brazil.”

Juno Award winner and 11-time nominee Cook composed and produced “One World,” an aural journey showcasing the Paris-born, Toronto-reared artist’s cultured cornucopia of rumba, flamenco, jazz, gypsy, pop and classical guitar parlance, rife with runs and riffs demonstrating dazzlingly dexterity. Strumming and plucking mystic melodies, evocative harmonies and contemplative meditations, Cook places his guitar on “One World” amidst carefully-crafted instrumental beds that just may be the most experimental of his career. He incorporated more modern technology to create interesting beats and inventive sounds, placing them side by side with traditional instruments that have been around for centuries.

“One could imagine musicians from all over the world meeting in a marketplace in Constantinople and the mad, beautiful music that would have ensued. What would that have sounded like?” Cook pondered. “I didn’t want my crossroads to be limited to only traditional instruments; I wanted music from different time periods represented as well. Now you have ancient instruments like the Armenian duduk or the Arabic oud (the ancestor to the guitar), meeting record scratching, industrial textures, sample and loop technology. That is the world I wanted my guitar to venture through. I’ve always been interested in music technology, but on this record I gave it a wider scope.” Continue reading

Lee Ritenour – A Twist of Rit

Is it possible for Captain Fingers to get better? A listen to A Twist of Rit (Concord Records, 2015) is the latest example of guitarist Lee Ritenour outdoing himself. The album is a mix of original tunes and reinventions of classic Rit.

Performers on this date are mostly alums of Rit’s past recordings: keyboardists John Beasley, Dave Grusin and Patrice Rushen; saxophonist Ernie Watts; bassists Melvin Lee Davis and Tom Kennedy; drummers Dave Weckl, Ronald Bruner Jr. and Chris Coleman; and percussionist Paulinho Da Costa. Additional players are Bob Sheppard, saxophone; and Rashawn Ross, flugelhorn. And performing with Rit for the first time are guitarists Michael Thompson, Wah Wah Watson and David T. Walker, and pianist Makoto Ozone.

The energetic “Wild Rice” opens the set. One could argue it’s the best track on the album. But when you listen to the rest, you’re not quite so sure. The remake, arranged by Ritenour and Beasley, is described as a hybrid of something out of the Deep South and Southern California. The background horns, combined with the bass and drum play, give it the feel of one of those 1970s instrumental funk tracks by bands like Brass Construction, Brick or Kool & The Gang. Watts and Beasley contribute solos.

Read more …

Groove LTD. – First Class

GrooveLTD-FirstClassWhen two musical elemental forces come together, something extraordinary is created. Guitarist U-NAM is known by his solo projects The Past Builds The Future (2005), Back From the 80’s (2007), Unanimity (2009), Weekend in L.A. (A Tribute To George Benson) (2012) and C’est Le Funk (2014). Saxophonist Shannon Kennedy received attention with Angel Eyes (2005) and in 2007 with Steppin Up and Never My Love.

Now both reveal their collective debut under the group name Groove LTD. releasing the album First Class. The duo is joined by keyboardist Jonathan Fritzen, vocalist Maysa Leak, percussionist Paulinho DaCosta, drummer Michael White, bassist Dwayne “Smitty” Smith , Neo-Soul singer Myron Davis, steel drums master Andy Narell, as well as many more.

Groove LTD. opens the album with First Class and covers its name with glory. The song shimmers in Benson like guitar style with Shannon’s extra sax appeal fully equipped with a string orchestra. Uprising turns up the volume with a disco beat with Shannon completely unleashed and an exceptionally disposed Jonathan Fritzen on piano.

Read more …

 

Moon Base – High

German keyboardist and songwriter Thomas Motter has already released four albums. In the center of this review is his third album entitled High (2012) launched under the project name Moon Base. Thomas comments: “On a more abstract level a “moon base” is so similar to a train station, an extraterrestrial connection station. And a meeting – in this case for musicians and lovers of jazz, funk & soul!”

Motter opens the set with Fine Tuning. With spoken words by LyricL aka Lillian Mgbado the tune gets an underground character. More in the soul realm is to find the title song featuring the lovely voice of late Helen Taylor. The ideal addition is Bill Evans on sax who completes the vocal line on his instrument with great empathy.

On Apollo Interlude Motter interferes with spacey sounds on his Roland V-Synth. Moon Cookies offers some vocal sweets with Karl Frierson served the funky way. Do Me Like A Lion featuring Menoosha Susungi must be understood as sonic piece of art. The emergence of a love relationship is outlined in catchy words, accompanied with a grippy slap bass. The refrain is placeholder for the unspoken sexual act.

Read more …

Thomas Motter – Lost & Loved

German keyboardist and songwriter Thomas Motter has already released four albums. The debut No Return (2005) and the second album Nite Angel (2006) are published under the project name “t-mc”. The abbreviation “t-MC” stands for “Thomas, Master of Ceremony”. His third album High (2012) is released under the project name “moon base”.

Thomas comments: “On a more abstract level a “moon base” is so similar to a train station, an extraterrestrial connection station. And a meeting – in this case for musicians and lovers of jazz, funk & soul!” His recent album Lost & Loved (2013) is released under his own name Thomas Motter and mastered by Eric Zobler.

Stylistically remains Thomas faithfully to jazz, funk and soul compared to his previous projects. The album opens with Star featuring soul singer LeNora Jaye. A hip ballad about one’s willpower, which is able to prevail over the life adversities and makes you a star.

Read more …

Nicholas Cole – Night Sessions

Keyboardist Nicholas Cole has surprised the smooth jazz community with his solo albums A Journey of One (2010) and Endless Possibilities (2012).

Meanwhile this wunderkind can be found on albums of well-known musicians such as Brian Simpson (Just What You Need), Steve Cole (Pulse), Julian Vaughn (Breakthrough, Limitless), Lebron (Shades), Elisabeth Mis (Breakaway), Lin Rountree (Serendipitous, Soulfunky), Jeff Kashiwa (Let It Ride) or Marcus Anderson (Style Meets Substance).

While his reputation as a studio musician is already phenomenal, the insiders are waiting for the breakthrough as a live musician. His fame is likely to rise by his new album Night Sessions (2015). On the cover of the album Nicholas holds the album by Stevie Wonder Songs In The Key of Life in hand. But many combine Stevie with his super hit Superstition, the song that really put the Hohner Clavinet on the map in funk and soul music. This brings us to Nicolas’ starter Mary Ann, on which he extensively plays this instrument and also keeps faithful to the rhythm.

Read more …

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,558 other followers