I Happened To Hear 06/2010

I’ve made it clear in the past how much I admire Jonathan Fritzén’s talent. You only need to look at my review of his first CD http://www.smooth-jazz.de/Chris/Lovebirds.htm.

2010’s ‘Diamonds’ kicks off with the buoyant ‘Feelin’ the Groove’ with background vocals by Laila Adéle on the chorus. The drum track and bass are crisp and this energy is evident through the whole album.

I liked the ‘picked’ bass sound on the chunky ‘Dance with Me’ and it turns up again on the funky ‘Undercover’. Fritzén goes for the Marcus Johnson urban groove sound on ‘Stockholm Nights’ and achieves an even darker and deeper sound on my personal favourite ‘Vibrations’.

You romantic guys won’t be disappointed by the gentle ‘Melting’ and ‘You’ll be Mine’. I was also interested to see that Jonathan has teamed up with some new-generation sax stars: Jessy J, Darren Rahn and Thailand’s Koh Mr Saxman. All make solid contributions and this is the company that this talented composer and multi-instrumentalist should be keeping.

I greatly enjoy the way Fritzén consistently keeps these productions clean and uncluttered: even on the busiest rhythm tracks, the piano is out front and unruffled and clear as a bell. Nothing out of place. This man’s career is taking off: check his tasteful website http://www.jonathanfritzen.com/index2.html and see him on tour this summer if you can. Meantime, you can hear and buy downloads on Amazon.

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Herbie Hancock – Imagine Project

Herbie Hancock‘s Imagine Project is an unprecedented international recording and film project featuring collaborations between music legend Herbie Hancock and a dozen superstars from every region of the planet. It utilizes the universal language of music to express its central themes of peace and global responsibility. The Imagine Project embodies an extraordinary lineup of international superstars from all corners of the world.

Artists include Dave Matthews, Anoushka Shankar, Jeff Beck, The Chieftains, John Legend, India Arie, Seal, Pink, Juanes, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Chaka Khan, K’Naan, Wayne Shorter, James Morrison, and Lisa Hannigan. The album and film stands, on one level, as powerful testaments for the goals of world peace, humanity and tolerance, and respect for our planet, but The Imagine Project shall remain at its core, entertainment content that is creatively and emotionally deeply fulfulling.

For more information visit Herbie Hancock’s website.

Saltaire – Just Press Play

Dan Truman and Ron Saltmarsh are connected in a musical common destiny. Friends since their college time at Brigham Young University they gained degrees in recording and music composition. After that education both went separate ways, just to find together again in the formation This Way That and their debut album Festival (2001).

Their newest collaboration is called Saltaire. This year they released their sophomore album entitled Just Press Play. All songs were written and arranged by Dan Truman & Ron Saltmarsh.

Ron Saltmarsh plays guitar, rhythm programming and keyboards, Dan Truman piano and electric piano. The album is also featuring Scott Wilson (trumpet), David Halliday (saxophone), Joel Stevenett (drums), Rob Honey (bass), Dave Wilbur (bass), Reggie McBride (bass), Danielle Aslett (percussion) and Mindy Gledhill (vocals).

Just Press Play is Saltaire’s suggestion and we should take this proposal seriously. Their joyful introduction presents Ron on guitar and Dan on piano in a superb uplifting performance.

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Tom Schuman – Reflections Over Time

Tom Schuman is widely known as keyboardist of the famous group Spyro Gyra, one of the most popular contemporary jazz groups. Morning Dance, released in 1979, became a Top 40 single hit and proved to be their breakout song. With more than 26 albums on their credit this group is a constant factor in the contemporary jazz scene.

Tom has performed on all of Spyro Gyra’s albums to date and has written or co-written over thirty-five compositions for this formation. But his creativity doesn’t stop at this point. He started his solo career with his contemporary jazz debut Extremities (1990), followed by the more jazz inspired album Schuman Nature (2003), and the smooth jazz albums Into Your Heart (2003) and Deep Chill (2005). In which direction does his new album Reflections Over Time go?

Tom answers: “The best way I can describe this CD is an eclectic blend of many genres of jazz music from classic to fusion and beyond. Jay Beckenstein heard the first cut which is a tribute to the late great Joe Zawinul, “A Quote From Mr Z”, and had to have it in our current set. We now open the Spyro Gyra show with it.”

The album features Bonny B, Kevin Stixx Marshall and Ludwig Afonso on drums, Ameen Saleem (upright bass on Giant Steps), Jay Azzolina, Alvin White, David Becker and Andy Wasson on guitars, Skip Martin on trumpet, flugelhorn and vocals, Julian Tanaka on tenor and soprano sax. Tom plays keyboards and introduces his alter egos Schu Thomas on bass and Slide Funkshin on drums/percussion.

Music is a holy thing, A Quote From Mr Z. The first tune is dedicated to the grandmaster of fusion music, Joe Zawinul. Sennie “Skip” Martin (muted trumpet) and Tom Schuman (Rhodes piano) are on the path of Joe’s blessed genius and musical visionary. Hailing from fusion jazz Seven 4 You soon meanders in melodious streams.

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Dwight Sirls – When The Music Stops

Music is an art form that moves the listener emotionally. The transformation of a thought, an emotion, into a physical wave that travels on air, into the hearts and minds of the listener.

An engineer, composer, musician, and producer, Dwight Sirls makes a direct tap into his inner-most visions and translates this into his music. His record label, Japoonoonie Records, was founded in 1985. He works in his private project studio, The Noonie Room.  Dwight Sirls plays six, five, fretless, and four string bass, electric and classical guitars, synthesizers and other keyboards, electronic percussion, drum sample manipulation.

With his new album innovative and compelling bassist Dwight Sirls ventures into other dimensions along a smooth and funky path. When The Music Stops is available at CDBaby.

Kirk Whalum – The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter III

The charisma of a preacher, the attitude of a monk, the kindness of a human. This and much more is saxophonist Kirk Whalum. Those, who attended his concerts, will never forget him and his melodies.

Kirk is like Grover Washington Jr. a legend, the shining light of music. He is a wanderer between two worlds. An in-demand artist in the smooth jazz scene he performed with Peter White, Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler, Gerald Albright and many more. Albums like For You (1998), Unconditional (2000), Kirk Whalum Performs the Babyface Songbook (2005), and Roundtrip (2007) received high acclaims and great acceptance by the listeners.

But his real passion is Gospel music and the worship to God. His Gospel hours are truly impressing and inspirational. He started his first Gospel project in 1998 with The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter One. His sophomore project in this genre was Hymns in the Garden (2000), followed by The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter II (2002).

After a long hiatus he now presents The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter III (2010). Kirk comments: “‘The Gospel According to Jazz is about that pursuit of excellence in one’s craft as a worship to God. My devotion to that instrument and trying to really master an instrument is my primary worship to God. I certainly worship him with my mouth. I just praise God. I try to serve him in whatever way I see fit.”

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