Archive for the ‘ Smooth Jazz ’ Category

Monk Rowe – Out Standing In His Field

OutStandingSQUAREMonk Rowe weaves a robust career as a performer, educator and composer. In his position as Director of the Fillius Jazz Archive at Hamilton College he has personally interviewed over 300 jazz artists to preserve their unique and significant oral histories. He brings an engaging charisma to all his endeavors, including lectures and workshops on blues, improvisation, jazz history and aesthetic education. Equally adept performing on both piano and saxophone, Monk relates naturally to audiences and classes of all ages. In 2019 he was honored with the designation of “Living Legend” by the Oneida County History Center.

As a composer Monk writes original work and commissioned arrangements for a variety of ensembles, including the Utica Symphony, the Fredonia Alumni Jazz Ensemble, the Allegria Trio, and numerous scholastic bands. “Out Standing in his Field” contains nine tunes of original contemporary jazz. His CD “Jazz Life” contains compositions written for and dedicated to nine of the artists interviewed for the Fillius Jazz Archive. A solo piano recording was released in 2011 entitled “At the Piano.”

Out Standing In His Field is his newest project available on all major platforms.

Isaiah Katumwa – Dance Again

DanceAgainAs COVID-19 raged last summer and tension soared in the wake of the civil unrest that erupted after the death of George Floyd that occurred miles from his home, saxophonist Isaiah Katumwa was at work on his first major US release that he envisioned lifting spirits by uniting the world in dance. The Ugandan-born artist felt that to confront global issues – a pandemic and systemic racism – it would take a global response. Katumwa assembled a collective of African, American and Latin musicians to help craft “Dance Again,” the global jazz album dropping July 9 from Beyond Music. The festive African beat title track led by Katumwa’s agile soprano sax goes for playlist adds as a single on Monday.

Katumwa wrote or co-wrote all ten songs on “Dance Again,” each of which is brimful of joyous light and sunny optimism. Fellow saxophonist Darren Rahn, a multiple GRAMMY nominee who has produced more than 25 No. 1 singles, produced six tracks for the set, and Billboard chart-topping guitarist Adam Hawley produced three. Rwandan producer Marc Kibamba helmed “The Sun Will Shine Again,” a jubilant African rhythmic groove illumined by a vocal chorus.             

“During the scary times of the pandemic and when people took to the streets in anger to protest, I often wondered whether we’ll ever dance again in unity. It had become a very strange thought. ‘Dance Again’ is an answer to share positivity and contribute to the healing process that we all need right now. It’s music with the purpose to help us as we recover, which I believe is one of the purposes of music,” said Katumwa. Continue reading

Jeff Miguel – The Hero’s Journey

a3344281297_16Jeff Miguel is a saxophonist that currently teaches and performs in the Denver metro area. He received his Master of Arts Degree in Music – Emphasis in Jazz Studies from the University of Iowa and won the 2016 Downbeat Graduate Student Music Award for Best Blues/Pop/Rock Soloist. All About Jazz describes him as an “expressive” saxophonist, “like a seasoned veteran poised to establish himself as musician of note.”

In May of 2015, Miguel released, as a leader, his “auspicious debut” (Midwest Record), Perseverance. The album features all original compositions of a variety of styles and influences. Miguel has taken an approach in composition and arranging that “focuses on melody and sophisticated chord progressions to express himself” (Little Village Magazine). Miguel is an active performer on the Colorado music scene. He plays in several groups of various genres, and performs across the state for public and private events.

Originally from northern Illinois, Jeff studied Biology as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, undertook research at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, and spent several months studying in the Galapagos Islands. After a gap year serving in Americorps, he decided to follow his passion by returning to school to study music. He now works full-time in music as a performer and educator.

Miguel teaches students of all ages and abilities, and specializes in woodwinds, jazz improvisation, and theory. Some of his past students have gone on to win prestigious soloist awards, achieve top seats in classical and jazz all-state festivals, and attend well respected universities for musical studies. In the past, he also co-directed the University of Iowa Hawkeye Big Band and taught Introduction to Jazz Improvisation at the University of Iowa.

His newest project is The Hero’s Journey, which was released in May, 2021. You can buy the album on bandcamp.

Wade C. Long – Keys Please

wade_long_longitude.jpgKeyboardist and vocalist Wade C. Long has been musically inclined for as long as he can remember. Raised in a family with diverse tastes in sound, he began singing at the age of 3. By age 6 Wade had written his first song, a rap, and he was leading songs in his church choir. Initially choosing to forego college, Mr. Long began to write and produce music for himself and other artists throughout his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Later making the move to the big city, Wade C. Long found himself in Los Angeles releasing his debut LP Love Is, in 2014. Two years later he collaborated with dance band, Zona, lending lead vocals on their single Love of My Life, and also his producing talents to several other songs on their album Peace Love Understanding.

Continuing to record, Wade finally released his first LP in 2020. The timely release of Nostalgia gave listeners an upbeat outlet from a year that was left grief-stricken by a worldwide pandemic and social unrest. Wade was rewarded by seeing his music reach several Smooth Jazz and Soul accolades, the highlight being voted a finalist for Soultracks.com’s Reader’s Choice Award for New Artist of the Year.

As Nostalgia continues to receive international airplay, Wade C. Long is returning with his second full-length album. Longitude will be released in three parts. Part One of the self-proclaimed “feel-good” record will be subtitled Keys Please. It releases worldwide on April 30, 2021. You can stream the album on all digital platforms.

Gary Smith – Jazz Around The World

9575ef08b419806685053edd2e0e3641Gary Smith is an avant-garde guitarist, improviser and composer from the United Kingdom. He is known for developing dense extended techniques on electric guitar. Gary Smith has released close to twenty albums in solo, group and live settings with Shoji Hano, Rhys Chatham, John Stevens, Hugh Hopper, Masayoshi Urabe, Chie Mukai, Aufgehoben No Process, and Bill Fay.

Gary now discovered the smooth jazz genre. Consequently he has released the album Jazz Around The World (2021), which is available on all digital platforms.

Merlon Devine – Soul Jazz

merlon2-soul-jazz-768x768Love and inspiration can come from many places, but Merlon Devine’s love and inspiration to play music came from right inside his childhood home. Growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas with a singing mother and a guitar playing father, Merlon and his nine siblings lived in a home filled with gospel music. Although Merlon did not have the gift to sing as many of his siblings did, he eventually found his voice on the saxophone.

Merlon’s signature sound and gospel tinged expression on the horn has set him apart and propelled him onto various stages to share his musical gift with the world. His music charges the atmosphere, leaving his listeners refreshed and well.

The previous CD release from Merlon is Love Divine. It’s comprised of songs written and inspired by the love of God. Merlon has also recorded five other CD’s including: Due Season, Breathe, Unwrap the Gift, and Set the Atmosphere: Volume 1. His newest album is entitled Soul Jazz (2021).

Get this album on Merlon’s website.

Marcus Machado – Aquarius Purple

machado-scaledAs a guitarist, influence always seems to creep into my playing. I could work on a riff for hours (sometimes days) and think I’ve got something special only to realize that it was already done by Sonic Youth a decade before I started playing or played by Jeff Beck before Thurston Moore was born! Despite being the primary musical instrument of pop culture, artists are still creating new compositions by way of their influences. But it’s rare to stumble upon an artist who expands upon those influences. Such is the case with Marcus Machado and his debut LP Aquarius Purple.

Sadly, when it comes to being a black guitarist, the media never fails to automatically draw comparisons to Jimi Hendrix. And while having your name spoken in the same breath as the legendary Hendrix is an extraordinary compliment, it also inadvertently trivializes the artist’s talent. When I listen to Aquarius Purple, I honestly do hear the Hendrix influence. However, I also hear the likes of D’Angelo and Raphael Saddiq, as well as every guitarist who convinced a kid to pick up a guitar. Machado defies his influences. It’s really that simple!

With layers of Hip-Hop, Soul, Psychedelica, blues, and good old-fashioned rock n’ roll, Machado rarely stays in a lane long enough to be labeled. From the blistering virtuoso of “Black Psychedelic Funk” to the painfully on-point lyrics of “Shape Shift” (featuring Jswiss and Ahrel Lumzy at the mic), the album goes places I wasn’t expecting. In fact, my favorite tracks on Aquarius Purple (“Get By” and “Her”) are the tracks that encourage me to drop my preconceptions and listen to an artist convey his heart and soul through his music. This is what real artistry is about. Continue reading

Marc Antoine – Something About Her

somethingaboutherGuitarist Marc Antoine has dedicated his new album Something About Her to his wife Rebeca Vega. Both have known each other for 25 years now and boast of their unchanged love. By the way, they met for the first time during a Spanish TV show, where Marc had a guest appearance as a guitarist, while Rebeca performed as a dancer.

Since his move from Spain to California, which he addressed with his album Laguna Beach (2016), he has decisively intensified his contacts with the local music scene. As a result, his new album features a host of familiar names with a Californian focus. You can read about the densely packed collection of musicians involved in the credits.

With Still In Love Marc makes a musical confession of love to his wife Rebeca. The theme has the feel of a love ballad, which is underscored by the inclusion of strings. The Spanish guitar style of Flamenco echoes gently in the vibration of the strings.

Read more …

Randal Clark – Imaginary World

179141425_3728621377236882_645009699093925781_nRandal Clark is a contemporary and concert saxophonist based in Salt Lake City. He began playing saxophone at the age of 9. On his new release, coming Spring 2021, Randal will be joined with music icons including: Jeff Lorber, Jimmy Haslip, Randy Brecker, Vinnie Colaiuta, Gary Novak, Michael Thompson, Gerald Albright, Sonny Emory, David Mann, and many more.

As a performer, Randal has been extremely busy performing as a jazz and classical soloist. He has appeared at numerous jazz festivals and concerts around the country as a featured performer. He performs regularly with the Utah Symphony Orchestra and is a regular session musician for tv, movie, video games, and more. His most enjoyable performances have been with the “Cannonball Band” both as featured soloist and also sharing the stage with artists like: Gerald Albright, Eric Darius, Elan Trotman, Andrew Neu, Lebron Dennis, and Keith Anderson to name a few.

Randal received a degree in Music Education from the University of Utah and began teaching high school band and orchestra. He has gone on to receive a Masters Degree in Music Education, and a Doctorate in Instrumental Conducting with an emphasis in saxophone performance. As a music educator, he has received numerous awards, including: The Utah State Office of Education “Sorensen Legacy Award” for Outstanding Music Educator, the Utah High School Activities Association award for “Outstanding High School Music Educator”, Utah Music Educator’s Association (UMEA) award for “Outstanding High School Music Educator”, and the National Band Association “Outstanding Band Educator” and “Outstanding Jazz Educator” award.

Buy his new album here.

Shane Diamond – Last Love

LastLoveWe know nothing about this musician, neither we found any biographical information or a website. Shane Diamond is a music phantom and he has released the album Last Love in April 2021.

The album is available on Amazon.