Gerald Albright – Pushing The Envelope

Jazz and R&B icon Gerald Albright is considered to be one of the most innovative and successful artists of the last twenty-five years. With the June 15, 2010, release of Pushing The Envelope on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group, Albright’s super cool side is back. With its polished soul/jazz vibe, Pushing The Envelope is a showcase for Albright’s remarkably fine balance of songcraft and musicianship, and features special guest appearances by Fred Wesley on trombone, Earl Klugh on acoustic guitar and George Duke on acoustic piano.

Produced and arranged by Albright, Pushing The Envelope provides the perfect opportunity for this master musician/saxophonist/songwriter to exhibit his skills. He plays soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, flutes, bass guitar, and keyboards, and also handles synthesizer, EWI and drum programming. Albright’s band on most of the album includes keyboardists Tracy Carter and Luther “Mano” Hanes, guitarist Ricky Watford and drummer Ricky Lawson.

The set opens with “What Would James Do?” an irresistibly soulful Albright original and a celebration of the legacy of “The Godfather of Soul.” The track spotlights Albright’s trademark strong chops on saxophones and bass, alongside the distinctive sound of Fred Wesley of the original J.B.’s on trombone.

Albright’s choice of Wesley is part of a natural progression since Maceo Parker and Julian “Cannonball” Adderly were two of his early influences. “I came up with this tune as a tribute to James Brown.” Albright says. “His music was a direct influence on me, and Fred was the obvious choice for a duet on the project.”

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Jeff Lorber – Now Is The Time

By the late 1970s, keyboardist and composer Jeff Lorber had become a prominent figure in the new movement known as jazz fusion – a marriage of traditional jazz with elements of rock, R&B, funk and other electrified sounds. Lorber and his band, the Jeff Lorber Fusion, first honed their craft in the Portland, Oregon, club scene and rapidly expanded their reach to a national and international audience via a combination of complex harmonies, unconventional time signatures and compelling rhythms.

In subsequent years, Lorber dropped the term “fusion” from his billing as the movement evolved into what is currently known as contemporary jazz. Still, he continued to explore the innovative, improvisational potential of grafting other musical forms to the jazz idiom.

More than three decades after his earliest recordings, Lorber has come full circle. His new recording, Now Is The Time, is set for release on June 1, 2010, on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group. The album delves back into his early catalog and reinvents some of the most compelling compositions from the Jeff Lorber Fusion heyday. As a result, the artist once again makes a bold statement in the evolution of jazz.

This new incarnation of the Jeff Lorber Fusion includes luminaries like bassist Jimmy Haslip (who co-produced with Lorber and Bobby Colomby), saxophonist Eric Marienthal, trumpeter Randy Brecker, guitarist Paul Jackson Jr., and drummers Vinnie Colaiuta and Dave Weckl.

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Travis Rogers – For Your Love

Travis Rogers, the man behind the scenes for all of Stanley Clark’s performances and studio work, has worked and performed with some of Gospel’s greatest artists, such as The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Shirley Caesar, Canton Spirituals. Travis spent ten years as a member of The Starlights. He is currently the CEO of Godspoke Records.

In addition to Stanley Clarke, Travis has also worked with Lady Gaga, Brandy, Brian McKnight, Montell Jordan, Tamia, Kelly Price, Kiley Dean, Tank, Missy Elliott, 50 Cent, comedian Tommy Davidson, George Duke, Chick Corea, Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten, Patrice Rushen, Lenny White, Bela Fleck, Jean Luc Ponty, Al Di Meola, Chaka Khan and Philip Bailey.

Stanley Clarke says of Rogers, “I can’t think of an engineer more qualified than Travis – he’s like having a whole staff in one person. Not only is he a proficient engineer and mixer with many albums to his credit, he’s been extremely successful on the business side of the industry as well. On top of that, he’s a good friend.”

For more information about Travis Rogers visit his website. Travis comments his new album: “Featured musicians are Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Chick Corea, Lenny White, Patrice Rushen, and Victor Wooten. I am truly blessed to have these legendary musicians! For Your Love is now on sale at CDBaby.

David Benoit – Earthglow

David Benoit is like Dave Grusin one of the big names of contemporary jazz. Always looking after new sides of music, he creates with Earthglow (2010) anew gripping melodies with addictive potential. Inspired by the breathtaking NASA photo of our planet, which decorates the CD, the content keeps the promise of the impressing cover.

Guest musicians on this album are Rick Braun (trumpet, flugelhorn), Brad Dutz (percussion), Jeff Kashiwa (sax), Pat Kelly (guitars), and Tim Weisberg (flutes). These names indicate, in which direction the ship is sailing: To the endless sea of contemporary jazz.

Starter of the album is Botswana Bossa Nova. Benoit comments: “I loved the world mix of exotic ethnic percussion, African voices along with Brazilian beats…” Connoisseurs of Benoit’s music will certainly recognize the seamless continuation of the style of his earlier period. A great initiator for this impression is David’s genius working on Quincy Jones’ Soul Bossa Nova, a song of timeless attraction.

Will’s Chill sets the counterpart to the previous tune. Modern, contemporary, chilly, the song experiments with the chill-out style of European musicians without neglecting the importance of classic instruments presented by Pat Kelly (acoustic guitar), Jeff Kashiwa (sax) and of course David Benoit on piano.

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Neighbourhood – Maybe Tomorrow

Kristian Persson’s six-piece band Neighbourhood has rapidly proved to be one of the most promising bands on the Swedish jazz scene. Their debut album Maybe Tomorrow is finally here.

The music is an energetic mix inspired by the jazz, funk and soul of the 70’s, and has a pulsating groove that makes it hard to sit still. A couple of ballads, melancholic yet filled with hope, give the collection a thoughtful, reflective side. Members of the group are Kristian Persson (trombone & compositions), Jens Filipsson (saxophones & flute), Jonne Bentlöv (trumpet). Edvin Nahlin (keyboards), Aleks Brdarski (bass), and Sebastian Ågren (drums).

It’s already possible to make a pre-order of the album in the Stockholm Jazz Records web shop, and the album can also be found in various on-line music stores such as cdon.com and ginza.se.

Alan Weisman – Liminality

Inspired by a 2004 trip to Brazil where he witnessed the spectacular nighttime street drummers in Salvador de Bahia, Alan Weisman has brought together some of L.A.’s hottest musicians from Brazil, Sri Lanka, New York city, Massachusetts, and California. The disc features 11 vibrant tracks ranging from tight, hybrid grooves to chill and reflective textures. The guitar seems to float over the rhythm tracks creating a soulful and relaxing atmosphere.

Long a fan of Brazilian culture, the project represents the culmination of a dream that began when Alan sat transfixed by the sounds and images of the classic 1959 film, Black Orpheus. “I felt the passion and soul of the Brazilian heart and song when I saw that film, so you can imagine how happy I am to now have a recording that features Carlinhos “Pandeiro de Ouro” who actually appeared as the musical child star of that movie.”

In addition to Carlinhos on percussion, other notable guest musicians on the CD include: Hussain Jiffry on bass who has played with Herb Alpert and Lani Hall, Sergio Mendes and Chaka Khan; Jimi Macon on guitars has played with James Brown, Sly Stone, Natalie Cole, Kool & the Gang, and The Gap Band; Rebecca Kleinmann, flute and vocals has played with Airto and Hermeto Pascal; Fabiano Nascimento plays 6 and 7 string guitars; Angel Short sings lead vocals and Annie Livingstone sings background vocals; Pablo Fagundes plays harmonica.

For Mr. Weisman, this first solo project follows work composing soundtracks for programs on PBS, as well as session work in Los Angeles for television. His production skills were sharpened working in Dave Grusin’s studio at GRP records on eleven of their releases. In addition to drums, he also performs on acoustic guitar, piano, and steel drum. The resulting blend offers a musical story book of several styles seamlessly blending together from Funk, Sambas, Bossa Novas to sultry and poignant ballads.

There is a lot of power that comes from this fresh new all original music. One tune, has lyrics that will open your eyes, heart and mind as the melody unfolds. Check the web site www.liminality.net for more information on the release and to hear samples of each song. Premiere CD Liminality from Los Angeles based multi‐instrumentalist, composer, producer, arranger, engineer, Alan Weisman, is now available.

Elements of Jazz – Upward Bound

Elements of Jazz is a Jazz/Neo-soul band located in Charlotte, NC. These six talented members have joined together to create smooth sounds and rhythms in the jazz music arena. Their debut CD  Upward Bound encompasses traditional, smooth and contemporary jazz along with soulful melodies and neo soul flavor. Upward Bound is a bridge between instrumental grooves and soulful vocals.

It also represents these rising musicians and their bright future. Written and produced by Stephanie Gresham and Rick Gresham the album offers smooth and soulful sounds that will make you groove. Each song delivers a nice flavor of jazz, neo soul and gospel roots and features Mr. Eric Brice on lead guitar who has performed with Chaka Khan and Israel & New Breed. Upward Bound is available at CDBaby.

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