Posts Tagged ‘ Contemporary Jazz ’

Kevin Eubanks – East West Time Line

Since his 18-year tenure as guitarist and music director of TV’s The Tonight Show Band ended in 2010, Philadelphia-born guitarist, composer Kevin Eubanks has been on a creative roll. On East West Time Line, Eubanks explores the chemistry he maintains with musicians on both coasts. And once again, his distinctive fingerstyle approach to the instrument is in the service of tunes that run the stylist gamut from urgent swingers to introspective ballads to Latin-tinged numbers and some get-down Philly funk.

Joining Eubanks on this stellar outing are longtime collaborator and former Berklee College of Music schoolmate, drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith, who fuels the West Coast outfit alongside seasoned session bassist Rene Camacho, percussionist Mino Cinelu and saxophonist Bill Pierce. Smith’s East Coast counterpart on this bi-coastal session is the irrepressibly swinging Jeff “Tain” Watts, a force of nature on the kit who combines with bassist Dave Holland, Philadelphia-based pianist Orrin Evans and New York trumpeter Nicholas Payton for a potent lineup. Together these great musicians bring out the best in Eubanks’ six-string prowess and ignite his searching instincts throughout the sessions in Los Angeles and New York.

“Of course, we all came up through New York,” says the Philly guitarist who broke in with Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers during the early ’80s. “But we also got the benefits of seeing the East Coast down and dirty and Hollywood down and dirty too. We combined both vibes on this recording-the kind of Latin vibe of Los Angeles and the straight-up swinging vibe of New York. Continue reading

Valeriy Stepanov – New Beginnings

Less ‘From Russia With Love’ And More ‘From Russia With Groove’ multi instrumentalist Valeriy Stepanov is all set to take the smooth jazz world by storm with his Skytown Records debut release, New Beginnings.  Stepanov has been identified as having the ability to traverse the entire spectrum of jazz, from his smooth jazz sensibilities, that are very much the province of New Beginnings, through to his own brand of fusion that can accurately be described ss Chick Corea meets Jeff Lorber.

Above all, what makes Valeriy stand out from the crowd is the formula he has for rhythm and melody, his unbounded energy and the sublime technique that he first learned from his father then built on by studying music theory at the prestigious central music school of Moscow State Conservatory. Not only that, with six years of recording and performing with his band vsak, Valeriy has polished these skills yet further so that now, at age 27, he is perfectly positioned to join the ever increasing band of eastern European artists to have found musical fame in the west.

The story of Valeriy Stepanov is very much a story of today, a story where the internet combined with an abundance of talent can propel a performer from the most unlikely of locations into the global spotlight. Pre-order the album at Amazon.com.

Jeff Lorber Fusion – Prototype

Jeff Lorber is the most sought keyboardist of the smooth jazz genre, but his heart is still beating for fusion jazz. Influenced by groups like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report and Return to Forever he founded the group Jeff Lorber Fusion and released in 1977 the self-titled debut album. Soon followed Soft Space (1978), Water Sign (1979), Wizard Island (1980), and Galaxian (1981).

After a period of solo albums he returned to his centerpiece with Now Is The Time (2010), Galaxy (2011), Hacienda (2013), and Step It Up (2015) on Heads Up Records. Prototype is his first album on Shanachie Entertainment. The new group consists of keyboardist Jeff Lorber, bassist Jimmy Haslip and saxophonist Andy Snitzer.

Jeff explains: “I came up with the name Prototype because we are always trying to up our game and come up with new exciting music that could be a prototype or innovative harbinger for the future of our musical style.” The project begins with Hyperdrive, a horn driven funky loaded piece of excellence. The sonic fury of high speed jazz is the ultimate platform for Lorber’s progressive fusion act.

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Kayla Waters – Apogee

Contemporary jazz pianist, composer and writer Kayla Waters, the daughter of famous saxophonist Kim Waters, debuts with her first work Apogee (2017) on Trippin N’ Rhythm Records.

Along side of Kayla, Kim was also executive producer for her album. Apogee is another word for the highest point in the development of something, a climax or culmination. For Kayla this album is the first highlight of her musical career. She has written all songs of the CD.

The album was recorded in six days straight. The album has biographical references. So for example Earth Arrival tells the story how Kayla arrives on earth, the point when everything started. The song grows with a constant flow, a springy rhythm and vibrant keyboard works.

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Kevin Eubanks – East West Time Line

kevin-eubanks-east-west-time-line-700x700Since his 18-year tenure as guitarist and music director of TV’s The Tonight Show Band ended in 2010, Philadelphia-born guitarist, composer Kevin Eubanks has been on a creative roll. On East West Time Line, Eubanks explores the chemistry he maintains with musicians on both coasts. And once again, his distinctive fingerstyle approach to the instrument is in the service of tunes that run the stylist gamut from urgent swingers to introspective ballads to Latin-tinged numbers and some get-down Philly funk.

Joining Eubanks on this stellar outing are longtime collaborator and former Berklee College of Music schoolmate, drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith, who fuels the West Coast outfit alongside seasoned session bassist Rene Camacho, percussionist Mino Cinelu and saxophonist Bill Pierce. Smith’s East Coast counterpart on this bi-coastal session is the irrepressibly swinging Jeff “Tain” Watts, a force of nature on the kit who combines with bassist Dave Holland, Philadelphia-based pianist Orrin Evans and New York trumpeter Nicholas Payton for a potent lineup. Together these great musicians bring out the best in Eubanks’ six-string prowess and ignite his searching instincts throughout the sessions in Los Angeles and New York.

“Of course, we all came up through New York,” says the Philly guitarist who broke in with Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers during the early ’80s. “But we also got the benefits of seeing the East Coast down and dirty and Hollywood down and dirty too. We combined both vibes on this recording-the kind of Latin vibe of Los Angeles and the straight-up swinging vibe of New York.

Overall, Eubanks seems exceedingly pleased with the copacetic nature of his first bi-coastal recording. “I think because I’m so familiar with all the musicians and we played together over the years in different settings, on different tours, that it helped the music quite a bit. There’s something that goes with friendship, knowing everybody’s journey to a large extent, that really enhances the communication between the players on a session. It’s that thing where everybody’s pulling for each other to do well and trying to make each other sound better, and you keep your sorry-ass ego out of it. We all have egos, we’re human beings and everything, but through the love of the music and wanting the best, good things happen. It’s really such a wonderful kind of democracy that you don’t see in other things. I think jazz music is the most perfect example of democracy in action.”

Andrew Van Tassel – It’s Where You Are

Traditional and contemporary jazz form the base from which saxophonist and composer Andrew Van Tassel builds his sound. He also leans on classical, indie-rock and folk music. Listeners hear more of the contemporary side on It’s Where You Are (Tone Rogue Records, 2016).

Van Tassel plays alto and soprano saxophones. He is accompanied by Julian Shore, piano and Rhodes; Edward Perez, bass; and Colin Stranahan, drums. Special guests on selected tracks are guitarist Ben Eunson and Michael Thomas, who plays clarinet and bass clarinet.

The set begins with “High Holborn,” an upbeat, electric tune with guitar and alto sax melding for the lead. Bass and drum kit carry a trotting beat, while the piano offers placid fills. Van Tassel then stretches out, taking off on a free-spirited jaunt. Eunson then comes in, deftly picking those strings in a series of single-note riffs, some of them in complex, rapid-fire strings. The mood and pace slow when Van Tassel rejoins. The alto leads while the guitar offers some haunting, ethereal fills as the song comes to a close.

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Jeff Lorber Fusion – Prototype

Trailblazing pianist, composer, producer and bandleader Jeff Lorber is a consummate artist who continues to push himself to new plateaus. A groundbreaking Fender Rhodes pioneer along with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Joe Sample and Bob James, Lorber has triumphed as one of the most innovative musical minds in contemporary jazz. The multi Grammy-nominated pianist’s newest CD is a sterling example of his expansive musical roots, masterfully crafted harmonic and melodic sophistication, irresistible finger-poppin’ grooves and intricate rhythmic sense. “I came up with the name Prototype because we are always trying to up our game and come up with new exciting music that could be a prototype or innovative harbinger for the future of our musical style,” says the LA based pianist. Lorber, a Berklee College of Music alum who formerly majored in Chemistry at Boston College goes full throttle on Prototype, orchestrating like an alchemist in the lab concocting a majestic elixir of jazz, soul, funk, pop, R&B and gospel.

Prototype features longtime collaborators – bassist Jimmy Haslip (founding member of The Yellowjackets) and drummer Gary Novak. “From a production standpoint Jimmy adds a ‘big picture’ element. He contributes a lot with his warm bass sound and on the road he is without a doubt one of the finest soloists out there on his instrument.” Lorber adds, “Gary’s very versatile, imaginative, super solid and gets a great sound. He really shines playing over the funky polyrhythmic grooves we record.” The newest member to the all-star unit is saxophonist Andy Snitzer, who like Lorber (and the Brecker Brothers) hails from Cheltenham, PA. Lorber states, “Andy’s got a perfect approach. It’s soulful and melodic and he is not afraid of taking the music outside a bit.” Prototype also features special guests bassist Nathan East, guitarists Chuck Loeb, Larry Koonse and Paul Jackson, Jr. and saxophonist Dave Mann, among others.

“Writing is something that I really enjoy and I’m always coming up with ideas to work on,” states Jeff Lorber, who penned nine of the tracks on Prototype and co-wrote one with Jimmy Haslip. “We put a lot of work, love and care into this record. I hope that everyone who hears it enjoys listening to it as much as we enjoyed writing and recording it. I think it’s the kind of record that will reap dividends by repeated listening because there’s a lot of great playing that you can only appreciate by really getting into it and checking out all the details.” Prototype opens with the spunky and electrifying “Hyperdrive” hinting to the euphoric musical excursion that lies ahead. The track features guitarist and Jazz Funk Soul collaborator Chuck Loeb who calls Jeff “an amazing guy and talent.” Lorber says of bassist Nathan East, who also appears on the track, “Nathan played on ‘Hyperdrive’ because I originally wrote that for his project. He played great on it so we kept it. I have to thank him for not using the track because it’s one of my favorites and the first single!” The album’s title track is a spirited and pulsating mid-tempo blues. Lorber explains, “Blues is a huge part of our music and I think Andy really brings it home with his approach to the melodies and his solos.” Saxophonist Dave Mann offers a vibrant, smoothly executed and feel-good horn arrangement on this track as well as six others. “The shout chorus on ‘Prototype’ is great,” comments Lorber. “I’m glad to also feature guitarist Michael Thompson who plays a stellar solo on the end of the song.” Continue reading