Marc Copland – Better By Far

Sometimes, a jazz artist just wants to play good music – feel-good music. No crossing over to attract a diverse, or younger, audience. No enhancements or gimmicks to pick up on contemporary trends. Just the musicians, their instruments, quality songwriting and an hour of your time. That’s what you get with Marc Copland’s Better By Far (Innervoice Jazz Records, 2017).

The players are Copland, piano; Ralph Alessi, trumpet; Drew Gress, double bass; and Joey Baron, drums.

“Day and Night” opens the set. It’s a bright, warm piece that features some crisp stick work by Baron. Bass and trumpet share the lead when the melody begins. Alessi takes the first solo, taking the trumpet on an easygoing jaunt, a stroll in the park that’s occasionally broken up by a few hops and skips. Copland takes it to another level. With Gress and Baron firmly engaged, the pianist takes the baton and turns the jaunt into a sprint. Gress downshifts a bit when it’s his turn, slowing down to enjoy the scenery.

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Brendan Christopher – Four From The Sun

B. Christopher, like most composers, is not a household name. However, if you own a television, you have probably heard his music. With over 3,000 placements annually on virtually every channel, it would be difficult not to hear his work.

The balance between melody, technique, composition and improvisation is not an easy one to strike. But when listening to Christopher, one would think otherwise. With one foot in modern jazz, the other in the blues and an innate sense of melody, his instrumental offerings are sure to please even the most discerning pallet. It is these qualities that helped attract some of the biggest studio musicians in the business to this project. Names like Nathan East, Anton Fig, Gerald Albright, Shawn Pelton, Andy Snitzer, Stu Hamm and Kenny Aronoff have all lent their talents to his recordings.

It’s been a steady evolution from the smoky blues clubs that shaped the soul of an extraordinary player into the polished session musician we hear today. In a world filled with talented musicians, there are a rare few that stand apart from the rest. For an artist to honestly tell their story, technical prowess is not enough. The real story is in the soul and conviction with which one tells it with. Christopher is one of the rare few that delivers the complete package.

The new album Four From The Sun by The B. Christopher Band with special guests include Nathan East (bass), Stu Hamm (bass), Anton Fig (drums), Shawn Pelton (drums), Andy Snitzer (tenor sax) is now available at his website.

Andre Cavor – Road Trip

Cleveland based saxophonist Andre Cavor follows with Road Trip (2017) his idols Kirk Whalum and Jonathan Butler on their path to the ideal blend of smooth jazz and gospel music.

Andre started his journey performing sax in church and then founded The Cavor Project, an 11 piece ensemble spreading a good reputation around the area. This album mirrors his biographical development shifting Cavor’s artistic life to a new level.

In the implementation of the project Andre is perfectly supported by the producer Darren Rahn. Darren contributes his high level of artistry, experience and the certain refinement of a genius as composer, arranger, producer and musician.

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Organissimo – B3tles: A Soulful Tribute to the Fab Four

It’s difficult to imagine any mainstream pop or rock band covered more than The Beatles. And jazz musicians are like pirates finding buried treasure as they peruse the Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Star songbook. Organissimo takes the music to a different arena with B3tles: A Soulful Tribute to the Fab Four (Big O Records, 2017).

Alfredson plays the Hammond B3 organ, Wurlitzer electric piano and synthesizers. His accompanists are Lawrence Barris, guitar; and Randy Marsh, drums. Percussionist Bill Vits joins for a few tracks, and Mike List plays tabla on “Within You Without You.”

“Taxman” enters a new world at the fingers of Alfredson. The beat starts with a funky groove. The verses and choruses are relatively straightforward. Then the organ goes on an excursion, making good on the 19-to-1 offer, stated in George Harrison’s lyrics. After the middle solo, the call-and-response interlude repeats, leading to a phrase where the base rhythm continues, with Barris stretching out. The song closes with the main theme.

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Marc Antoine and David Benoit – So Nice!

The historic meeting of 2 contemporary jazz giants! These trailblazing artists have scored more than 25 #1 Smooth Jazz radio hits, sold over 2 million albums and toured the world over for more than 20 years! A perfect blending of these great artist’s instrumental styles, So Nice! Combines the cool grooves of Smooth Jazz with the exotic sensuality of Brazilian music, and the result is pure magic. Highlights include Antonio Carlos Jobim’s classic samba “So Danco Samba,” the popular international favorite “So Nice” and eight inspired Benoit/Antoine originals! The first single, the funky “Caminando,” will be worked to the Smooth Jazz format along with extensive touring in support of the album.

All together you can order it now at Amazon.com.

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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Macy Blackman and the Mighty Fines – Shoorah Shoorah: The Songs of Irma Thomas and Allen Toussaint

The project began with a conversation between Macy Blackman and Allen Toussaint shortly before the latter’s death in 2015. In tribute to Toussaint and his longtime partner, Irma Thomas, Macy Blackman and the Mighty Fines present Shoorah Shoorah: The Songs of Irma Thomas and Allen Toussaint.

The players are Blackman, piano, cornet, guitar and vocals; Nancy Wright, tenor saxophone and vocals; Ken “Snakebite” Jacobs, baritone saxophone; Bing Nathan, upright bass and background vocals; Larry Vann, drums and tambourine; and Kit Robberson, viola da gamba on “With You in Mind.”

The band delivers a playful, sassy take on “Working in the Coal Mine.” The piece is accented by the drum shuffle, the saxophones and Nathan’s bass line. Blackman sings lead.

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