Marcin Nowakowski – Better Days

Polish sax player Marcin Nowakowski made his debut in the smooth jazz genre with his album Smooth Night (2005). As experienced sideman and performer in the Polish jazz scene he already garnered a certain popularity in the local community of Warsaw. He also performed with Jose Carreras, Paul Jackson, Jr., Simon Philips, and David Knopfer among others.

Now he prepares himself for the great jump over the ocean to the U.S. smooth jazz scene. A pave stone to this aim is his new album Better Days (2009), which was produced by Jeff Lorber. While his debut album was recorded with Polish musicians Marcin now engaged for his sophomore album the finest musicians of the American contemporary jazz scene: Jeff Lorber (keyboards), Paul Jackson Jr. (guitars), Alex Al (bass), Tony Moore (drums), Lenny Castro (percussion) and many more.

Wake Up is Marcin’s first call. Supported by the above mentioned top-notch cats Marcin presents his impressive sax melody. Shanice’s megahit I Love Your Smile (1991) is certainly a welcomed original for covers, not only because of its great melody but also because the song features a saxophone solo by Branford Marsalis and his name is quoted by Shanice in the second half of the song, when she says “Blow, Branford, Blow”. Marcin’s heartfelt rendition let the melody shine in its best light.

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Andrew Neu – Try Something Neu

By blending a unique mix of jazz, R&B, classical and Latin music, saxophonist Andrew Neu delivers a fresh sound to the contemporary music scene. Whether he’s in concert as a solo artist or a sideman, Andrew’s musicianship and engaging stage presence continue to get the attention of audiences and critics alike. Currently touring the country with Bobby Caldwell, Andrew has shared the stage with Sir Elton John, Patti Labelle, Mellissa Manchester, Mel Torme, The Four Tops, and The Temptations as well as jazz artists Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Mindi Abair, Euge Groove, Kim Waters, Steve Oliver, Warren Hill, Nick Colionne and Brian Simpson.

Fueled by the international success of two independent CDs, Andrew makes his debut on NuGroove Records with Try Something Neu produced by Brian Bromberg, Chuck Loeb and Gerald Veasley. It also features Bobby Caldwell, Brian Culbertson and Dan Siegel. For more information go to Amazon.com, where reviews are already published by avid fans.

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Gary Carpenter – Tierra Madre

Gary Carpenter gives the term World Music a new sense. He melts the best ingredients of all continents to that magical brew which fascinates the audience. After his move to the Bay Area he founded the formation Montage, he also worked with the group Compass and with Blue Note recording artist, Samba Ngo and with MC Rai.

He started his solo career with the high-acclaimed debut album Sirena (2007). His new project is entitled Tierra Madre (2009). Gary Carpenter, who also produced, arranged and composed the album, plays Spanish acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboards and keyboard bass. He is accompanied by Renalto Annichiarico (percussion, drums, vocals), Kieth Graves (bass and drums on Windrunner – drums and background vocals on Rumba La Playa), Gary Regina (sax) Alan Peeves (piano solos), and Victor Reveer (stand-up bass).

Bass driven the album starts with The Seer showcasing Gary Carpenter’s skills in Flamenco guitar and World music. Renalto Annichiarico peppers the melody with furious conga beats.

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Eric Copeland – The Jazz In Me

Eric Copeland crossed my way for the first time with his debut album Cooler (1999), a jazzy, gospel-tinged product with cool jazz grooves, gospel scat-like vocals, and synth texture. Eric was infected by Jeff Lorber’s music and his future destination has been marked out as producer, keyboardist, and songwriter. His sophomore album Stolen Moments (2000) was followed by The Jazz in Me in 2008.

Recently Eric produced for his label Creative Soul Jazz Drew Davidsen’s new album Around (Again). He also performed on this album keyboards, vocals and programming.

Eric comments his own album: “I’ve found that my love for jazz is deeper than just a genre or niche my music happens to fall under. The elements that make up jazz: improvisation, composition, rhythm, melody, structure, harmony, repetition…these are things that are part of everything I do, not just music…”

The album starts with Eric’s confession, The Jazz in Me. More Miles than Coltrane Eric sings and swings along the melody like his idols he mentions in this fantastic song. Phenomenal good are also Brian Fullen on drums, Craig Nelson on acoustic bass and Tom Hemby accompanying the maestro in an elegant and subtle way.

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Dan Siegel – Sphere

Dan Siegel defines himself as musician with no limits. Although some of his albums like Inside Out (2004) and Departure (2006) can be classified as smooth jazz, Dan is not the typical smooth jazz artist. This is easily to explain with his rich musical history which he recently portrayed in his album Fables (2008).

But Dan Siegel doesn’t stay in the past and so he does what he loves to do, creating and performing new musical ideas. Since 1983 he lives and works in L.A. and so it’s only natural that he collected for his new album Sphere top-notch musicians of the L.A. scene like Allen Hinds (guitar), Brian Bromberg (acoustic bass), Joel Taylor (drums) and Lenny Castro (percussion). Guest musicians on his albums are Larry Carlton (guitar), Bob Sheppard (sax), Alex Al (bass), Darrell Crooks (guitar), Gary Meek (sax) and Tom Scott (sax).

Dan and Brian Bromberg produced the album in the B2 studios in North Hollywood. Like on his previous album Departure Dan Siegel intends to create music based on the fundamental ensemble of the jazz piano trio and with an organic acoustical structure. That’s the reason for his renewed collaboration with Brian Bromberg. But Dan also intensifies groove and energy on his new album. All compositions are written by Dan Siegel except the first tune which he co-wrote with Brian Bromberg.

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Peter White – Good Day

Peter White’s first steps into music business were as a member of Al Stewart’s band. Although engaged as a keyboardist he played a prominent role as guitarist on Stewart’s mega hit Year Of The Cat. Peter also played guitar on some of Matt Bianco’s releases. Danny White and Basia are the members of this group.

He started his solo career with the 1990 release of Reveillez-Vous (Wake up). Excusez-Moi (1991), Promenade (1993) and Reflections (1994) followed on Sindrome, Caravan of Dreams on Columbia (1996), Songs of the Season (1997), Perfect Moment (1998), Glow (2001), Confidential (2004), Playin’ Favorites (2006) and A Peter White Christmas (2007) on Sony Music. Good Day (2009) is his first album on Peak Records, a division of Concord Music Group.

Peter comments his new album: “I just started going through my backlog of material. Songs that I’ve never finished, some going as far back as ten or fifteen years  and I discovered that I had a lot of gems that I really wanted to show to the world. I wanted to record them in my own time and in my own way, without any outside influence or interference.”

The album was produced by Peter White and DC and co-produced by Philippe Saisse. The starting tune Good Day features Philippe Saisse on keyboards and vibraphone. A romantic song capturing the spirit of Peter’s acoustic guitar. A novelty on a Peter White album is the stake of a vibraphone. “It’s something I’ve never put on a record before, but I try to do something on every album that’s a little different,” explains Peter.

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Darren Rahn – Talk of the Town

Canadian born saxophonist Darren Rahn is in the music business since the mid-90’s. His breakthrough was his work with Wayman Tisdale in 2004 on the 1 single, Ain’t No Stopping Us Now. Since that time he heavily performed on stage with Brian Culbertson, Tim Bowman, Wayman Tisdale and a lot more of the smooth jazz scene.

His debut album was released in 2007 on nuGroove Records entitled Once In A Lifetime. “Music is not just for me. If a song was just for me, then I really don’t see the point of recording it on an album. The reason for my playing is to reach out and share with people. I want to take what is in my heart and really connect with the audience,” comments Darren.

Darren’s new album Talk of the Town (2009) features the industry’s top session players as Frank Selman (guitars), Mel Brown (bass), Michael White (drums), Jason Rahn (trumpet, flugelhorn), Nate Harasim (keyboards), Jason Atkins (vocals), Deborah Connors (vocals) and includes thoughtful collaborations with Bob James, Jeff Lorber, Wayman Tisdale, Tim Bowman and others.

The album starts with Tale Of Two Cities. Mel Brown and Michael White are participating in this tune, two very in demand sidemen, as I showcased in my previous reviews. Darren presents an energetic song with great overdub technique.

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