Rick Braun – All It Takes

Rick Braun earned his first merits with Reo Speedwagon, War, Tom Petty and Sade. He started his solo debut with Intimate Secrets (1993), followed by Night Walk and Christmas Present (1994). His popularity grew with Beat Street (1995), Body And Soul (1996), Full Stride(1998), Kisses In The Rain (2001), Esperanto (2003), Yours Truly (2005), Sessions Vol.1 (2006), RnR (2007) and in 2009 All It Takes.

Admired were especially his collaborations with Boney James (Shake It Up) in 2000, tagged as smooth jazz event of the year and with Richard Elliot (RnR). Both created with their manager Steve Chapman and industry veteran Al Evers the label ARTizen Music, which is now acquired by Mack Avenue Records.

Besides Peter White is Rick Braun certainly one of the busiest musicians in the smooth jazz genre. Currently he is touring with the project Jazz Attack featuring Rick Braun, Richard Elliot and Jonathan Butler.

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Eric Essix and the Night Flight Big Band – Superblue

In 2000, while signed to Zebra Records, Eric Essix decided to explore the soul, R&B, gospel and country music that he grew up listening to in his home state of Alabama. It was the start of a musical journey that began with Southbound followed by Somewhere In Alabama and Birmingham on his own Essential Recordings label. Now, teamed with Birmingham jazz pianist and producer, Ray Reach, Eric offers a return to his  roots, in the straight-ahead jazz tradition of his idol, Wes Montgomery, titled Superblue – Eric Essix and the Night Flight Big Band.

The Night Flight Big Band is a powerhouse ensemble that has appeared at Ona”s Music Room in Birmingham, Alabama on most every 1st and 3rd wednesday night for the past 6 years. In this period of time, the Night Flight Big Band has played host to numerous guest artists, including saxophonist Lou Marini Jr, vibraphonist Chuck Redd, and trombonist Wycliffe Gordon. Mart Avant, the founder and director of the Night Flight Big Band, is also a founding member and primary contractor for The Tuscaloosa Horns, one of the nation”s finest horn sections. For more information read the liner notes at CDBaby, where the album is now released.

Chris Mann interviews Jason Miles

CM Jason, I’ve seen the interviews on your website and I ‘d like to use one of your questions: When did you know that Music would be your life’s work?

JM In college. Living in New York, I got to hear great artists in the clubs there. They had great songs and great melodies.

CM What motivated your decision to produce a second tribute album to Grover Washington Jr,  2 Grover With Love?

JM I’ve been listening to the old Grover Washington Jr. records and realised how many great songs I’ve missed. Grover could really play jazz . He could play anything.”

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Drew Davidsen – Around (Again)

Hailing from Towson, Maryland Drew Davidsen has showcased his guitar skills on more than 30 projects. He started his solo career with the album This Journey in 2007. A project dedicated to smooth jazz and his idols George Benson, Larry Carlton and Les Sabler.

His affinity for Ibanez guitars is clearly listenable on his sophomore album Around (Again) (2009). Produced by Eric Copeland for Creative Soul Jazz Drew’s new album offers besides session players like Dan Needham (drums), Gary Lunn (bass), Tony Morra (drums), Dave Krug (sax) and John Hammond (drums) guest musicians like Gerald Veasley (bass) and Jay Rowe (piano).

A great part of the album was performed by Eric Copeland (keys, vocals, programming). With mellow tones introduces Drew into his new project. Guitar, keyboard and piano form on Bounce a perfect sound. Drew and Eric compete for the ultimate song.

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German Smooth Jazz Festival Munich 2009

Munich is one of Germany’s most popular cities. The town offers a wide range of seasonal and other events beside its attractions in buildings, history, architecture, arts and shopping opportunities. So it was a properly thought-out decision to let the 2nd German Smooth Jazz Festival 2009 take place in the capital city of Bavaria. The festival was organized in a former power station called Kesselhaus. The designers of the location attached importance to the illumination of the technical items giving the place a special atmospheric flair.

The festival opened at Friday, the 4th September with Canadian Smooth Jazz star Steve Oliver. He was performing songs of his album One Night Live, which is a combination of a CD and a DVD, recorded during a concert at the State Theater, Modesto, CA. On this festival he played Chips and Salsa, Fearless, First View, Good To Go, High Noon, Magic World, Radiant Dream and Show Your Love.

Oliver comments. “The live shows are such a huge part of my life that I’d go insane if I wasn’t out there playing as often as I am. Music is a living, breathing thing, and I honestly feel that being up onstage is the safest place in the world. I feel like I’m transported to a whole new and cool place where I lose track of time.”

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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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