Yoshiaki Masuo – Life Is Good

lifeisgoodTo many, the word “relaxing” is interchangeable with “boring” when it comes to describing music. Guitarist Yoshiaki Masuo defies that concept on Life Is Good, an aptly named release on the Sunshine Ave. label.

The set begins pleasantly with the title song, a charming tribute to true love. Masuo then injects some traditional jazz and humor with “Wet Dog.” A dog barks periodically as Masuo and his sidemen – in this case, Larry Goldings on organ and Lenny White on drums – enjoy an all-out jam. Masuo’s play is a throwback to Wes Montgomery with a hint of George Benson. Goldings shows, during his solo, why he’s one of the most sought-after Hammond B-3 players. And White is in a zone, whether underscoring the leads with crisp cymbals play or filling the call and response with rolls on the snare and toms.

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Joe McBride – Lookin’ For A Change

In the digitally-driven 21st century, the landscape of American popular music exists in a constant state of metamorphosis. At any given moment, the lines between jazz, R&B, soul, funk, pop, hip-hop and countless other styles can become indistinguishable, and sometimes disappear altogether. Singer, pianist Joe McBride, an innovator since his first recordings in the early ’90s, understands this phenomenon on a first-hand level. And like any versatile artist who’s in it for the long haul, he’s learned to not only roll with the changes, but actively seek them out and explore their maximum artistic potential.

A longtime stalwart of the contemporary jazz scene, McBride takes a detour from his usual path for an intriguing new recording that reinterprets a dozen contemporary pop songs via straightahead jazz arrangements. His new CD, Lookin’ For A Change (HUCD 3144), was released on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group, on July 28, 2009.

Fleshed out with the help of a live trio – guitarist Dan Wilson, bassist Roger Hines and drummer Elijah Gilmore – Lookin’ For A Change is a collection of songs originally written and recorded by a range of pop luminaries, including Gnarls Barkley, Coldplay, John Mayer, Seal and several others. These reinterpretations, along with three original compositions from McBride”s own inspirational well, make for an engaging juxtaposition of the best elements of contemporary pop and traditional jazz.
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Melvin Maurice Miller – In the Moment

He is as charismatic as his music is captivating. Critics have aptly named him a composer, educator, musician, conductor and performing artist. His name, Melvin Maurice Miller. Born and raised in one of the largest cities historically known for great jazz and jazz greats, Chicago, Illinois – it’s no small wonder that music would become his life’s passion.

The sound of his horn and the style with which he performs comes from a variety of influences. He has learned from listening to many of the great masters. His sound: Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Morgan, Doc Severinsen, Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis. His phrasing: the vocals of Sarah Vaughn , Nancy Wilson and Ella Fitzgerald to name a few.

Let’s talk about his latest project first. In the Moment comes forth as a breath of fresh air from the one who has blown his horn internationally before crowds of thousands. The great expectations fulfilled in In the Moment fall right in line with the excellence that has become synonymous with Miller. The project boasts of 11 cuts, most of which are remakes, and two originals. A proud Miller states, “In the Moment was created to take listeners on a journey that causes them to think of where they were and what they were doing when they originally heard the covers (remakes.) There’s something about being taken back in time that evokes a feeling of the overall purpose of music, which is to make you feel good, to inspire joy and happiness and to sooth the soul. I think this project does that and more.”

For more information about Melvin Maurice Miller visit his website.

Karen Devroop – Reminiscing

Karen Devroop is the new kid on the block in the smooth jazz genre. Born and raised in South Africa, his compositions are highly rhythmic with infectious melodies and creative arrangements. Jam packed with ten incredible tracks, this album is sure to make a lasting impression on smooth jazz fans worldwide.

This groundbreaking debut album is filled with kickin’ and chillin’ rhythmic tracks and infectious smooth jazz melodies. Reminiscing is now on sale at CDBaby.

Artur Bayramgalin – Interro Island

Hailing from Ufa, Russia, multi-instrumentalist Artur Bayramgalin is ready for a start off. At the age of 22, Artur made a name for himself on the Russian music scene performing with many of top artists like Fidan Gafarov, Aidar Galimov, Fadis Ganeev, Radik Dinahmetov, and Azamat Gafarov.

He has just recorded his debut album Interro Island in the Breezz Studio, Ufa and fosters his music in all jazz-networks and communities. He comments his new album: “This is my first solo project, which includes original tunes composed and arranged by me. I hope you will enjoy my work!”

Artur performs on his new album guitars, keyboards, drum programming, additional vocals and is supported by other musicians on several of the tunes. Opener of the album is the title song Interro Island. Don’t get confused by the atmospheric intro with the breath of wind and Azat Bikchurin’s Kurai. After the first bars joins Artur with guitar and keyboards turning the song to a modern and unique contemporary jazz song. Artur continues an excellent dialog with Azat’s Kurai adding finest keyboard sounds and Tablas rhythm. Alexandr Kartashov adds a perfect bass line to the song.

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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.