Posts Tagged ‘ Fusion Jazz ’

Thomas Heflin – Morning Star

Thomas-Heflin-Morning-StarMorning Star is presented as a late-night radio show (complete with station IDs, and a radio DJ) and features songs that flow effortlessly from one to the next. The music on “Morning Star” features a traditional jazz group underpinned by layers of Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ and strings, as well as percussion and additional woodwinds to create a warm, soulful sound reminiscent of the CTI recordings of the 1970s. The music also fuses elements of modern jazz with R&B, gospel, and neo-soul.

The album was conceived around the title track “Morning Star,” and listeners may notice reworked snippets of the bassline and melody from the title track in other songs on the album. The music was recorded at the beginning of the CoVid outbreak, and the “morning star” – the last star seen at night before the new day arrives – also serves as a musical symbol of hope and optimism through these dark times. The radio DJ (Brandon Robertson) presents the tracks through poetic words of encouragement, creating the feeling of listening to an inspirational radio host during a late-night car ride.

The album features several notable musicians including world-renowned tenor saxophonist Gregory Tardy (Elvin Jones), Mavis “Swan” Poole (Lauryn Hill, Prince) on vocals, Peter Stoltzman (Steve Gadd/Eddie Gomez) on piano, Steve Haines on bass, Aaron Matson on guitar, Ariel Pocock on vocals, Xavier Ware on drums, Dan Hitchcock on woodwinds and Jorge Luis Torres “Papiosco” (¡Cubanismo!) on percussion.
According to Heflin, “The music for the album is inspired things that bring me joy and hope. “Morning Star” is the Slavic translation of my wife’s first name. ‘Anna Breschine’ is my daughter’s name and ‘The Moon Singer’ is inspired by a book by Clyde Robert Bulla that I like to read to her at night. In the story, a lonely child sings beautiful, wordless melodies to himself out in the forest. Evensong, which means ‘a service of evening prayers’ is meant to evoke a late-night musical meditation. Haiku is a quirky song based on the chord changes of one of my favorite jazz standards, Benny Golson’s ‘Stablemates.'” Continue reading

Robert Christa / Tom Reif – Free As A Bird

freeasabirdGerman pianist and composer Robert Christa is best known in the smooth jazz genre by his solo projects Nightflight To Rio (2015), City Lights (2017) and Smooth World (2019). His new album is a collaboration with the multi-instrumentalist Tom Reif entitled Free As A Bird (2021).

Robert Christa has written all tracks and plays Rhodes, piano and keys. Tom Reif has arranged, mixed and produced the tracks and performs guitars, guitar synth, fretless bass, keyboards, loops, percussion, programming and was co-composer on three tracks. Additional artists are Herb Berger (harp) and Tommy Eberhardt (drums).

The album opens with the sun-drenched Sunset Boulevard, from which Christa and Reif can definitely derive romantic aspects. Christa follows with the opening track to the familiar smooth jazz style of his previous album.

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Christoph Spendel Group – Avenue E

avenueeJazz piano virtuoso Christoph Spendel has developed a multitude of projects in his remarkable decades-long creative period, which would require a professional biographer to document. Despite his now advanced age, his creative energy is still brimming with new ideas, which are reflected in numerous releases and formations.

Among these countless projects, the Christoph Spendel Group stands out. It consists of the musicians Peter Klohmann (flute, saxes), Thomas Heidepriem (bass), Martin Standke (drums) as well as founder and name-giver Christoph Spendel (piano, keyboards). The formation as such already exists since the 80s in changing line-ups. Christoph has a long-standing friendship with the bassist Thomas Heidepriem, who comes from Freiburg. The other two musicians, presenting the young generation, recommended themselves through different projects.

The album starts with the title song, which brings all the tonal power of the well-tempered piano into the melodic harmony. Peter Klohman shares the melody accompanying on soprano saxophone. Behind the title  Avenue E lies the “Eschersheimer Landstraße”, Frankfurt’s lifeline, a vivid street in Christoph Spendel’s adopted home city.

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Anastasio – Through The Sky

Flutist and saxophonist Enzo Anastasio graduated in saxophone at the conservatory Guiseppe Martucci in Salerno, where he got a degree of second level with the best grade. With the Neapolitan band Midi Funk he published the album Finalmente Funky (2005). In November 2015 he released his debut solo album Che Soddisfazione. His second album is Through The Sky, released on AlfaMusic in 2018.

This album features Vincenzo Anastasio on sax, Gregg Bissonnette on drums, Jimmy Earl on bass and David Garfield on piano and keyboard furthermore guitarist Federico Luongo, pianist and keyboardist Mario Nappi, trumpeter Gianfranco Campagnoli, keyboardist and synthbassist Paolo Sessa, trombonist Alessandro Tedesco and vocalists Cheryl Porter, Kalind Haynes and Kaita Kerr.

The cartoonistic design of the record cover promises cheerful and relaxed music. The opener Cycling in Venice Beach can be understood in the literal sense. The driving of the bicycle pedals are the first acoustic sounds that make it clear that your music system is still working. But then orderly saxophone harmonies announce the coming happiness.

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Jules Hay – From London to Little London

British jazz fusion guitarist Jules Hay follows his passion for Brazilian music from his home in London, UK, to the Brazilian city of Londrina – aka ‘Little London.’ Immersing himself in the local music scene, his collaboration with the musicians there was captured across several days at 3 em 1 studios and is released on the 17th July. The set of 10 original compositions bring together infectious Brazilian rhythms and grooves with a modern jazz fusion sensibility.

In Thiago Ueda (keys), Diogo Burka (Bass), Roger Aleixo, Elthon Dias (drums) and Duda de Souza (percussion), Jules has brought together 5 in-demand musicians from the Londrina scene who add their own joyful playing and improvisations to the proceedings. Originally slated for March 2020 as an 8-track release, Jules took the opportunity of being locked down in the city to compose and record 2 bonus tracks for the album. From London to Little London is an uplifting journey for fans of fusion and Brazilian music alike.

Get this percussive album at Bandcamp.

Lou Guldemond – That’s It!

Dutch jazz guitarist Lou Guldemond already performed with various groups such as Pasadena Dreamband, Top Secret, Batida, Big Black & Beautiful, and Sister Sledge. He also produced the debut album It’s Happening by jazz guitarist Martijn van Itserson. Currently he plays with the jazz big band Licks & Brains.

On his album That’s It! (2020) he is joined by Karel Boehlee (piano), Arjen Mooijer (keyboards), Michel van Schie, Boudewijn Lucas, Paddy van Rijswijk, Lene teVoortwis  (bass), Danny Sahupala (drums), Martin Verdonk, Sandra Sahupala (percussion), Tom Beek (sax), Ruud Breuls (trumpet), Peter Tiedhuis (guitar) Gregor Hamilton (keyboards), Tollak Ollestad (harmonica), Lo van Gorp and Diana Rosendal (vocals).

The album opens with Boom!, the affirmative expression of a loud, deep and resonant sound. Lou on the other hand takes it nice and easy in a wonderful flow. Son Carrio starts with an outburst of Samba and this rhythmic form is lived out to the full in this piece. The rest is pure ecstasy in virtuoso musicality.

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The Clusters – The Clusters

The Clusters is an Argentinian band hailing from Ramos Mejía. They leave you a record of what was the last date of the Year! A different space with lots of music of jazz fusion. With their debut album The Clusters the band reaches out to the world.

This album is available for download only at CDBaby.

Kirk Whalum – Humanité

Sax legend Kirk Whalum is as I already stated in another review a wanderer between the two worlds of smooth jazz and Gospel music. With his new album Humanité he breaks through this scheme.

Humanité is an album, whose music is formed in mosaic shape by the musicians and their involved personalities they have brought in to the recording process. Among many others the following musicians are participating: Japanese jazz pianist Keiko Matsui, the young bass phenomenon Barry Likumahuwa, gifted singer/songwriter Grace Sahertian and global pop star Indonesian singer/actor Afgansyah Reza, known to many as Afgan, vocalist/guitarist Zahara, one of South Africa’s biggest stars, Kasiva Mutwa of Nairobi, and the veteran UK jazz vocalist Liane Carroll.

Curtis Mayfield’s song Move On Up has lost none of its radiance since its inception in the ’70s. Especially in the last months you can meet his song in ever new variations. Kirk Whalum goes his own way with his interpretation which is settled near a jazzy attitude in a Weather Report way. Singer Brendan Reilly is sensationally excellent.

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Eugen Botos Finally – Final Definition

Slovakia based jazz funk trio Finally was founded by Eugen Botos (piano) – leader and composer of the band, Robert Vizvari (bass guitar), Martin Koleda (guitar). In 2008 the trio became the touring band of Eric Marienthal in Europe which gave them some contact with the American contemporary jazz scene. In 2010 they released their debut album My Space.

Final Definition is their sophomore album, which was released in Japan in 2016 and this year in the rest of the world. The album features an incredible variety of top musicians. Among them are famous singers like Brian McKnight, Maysa Leak, Dionne Warwick, Angela Johnson, Sheldon Reynolds, sax player Eric Marienthal, drummers Dave Weckl, Eric Valentine, Oscar Seaton and Ronald Brunner Jr., bass players Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten, keyboardist Jeff Lorber and many more.

Marcus Miller introduces into the theme of Love For Real with his sonorous sounding bass. Featured singer is Sheldon Reynolds, the former singer and guitarist of the groups Sun, The Commodores and Earth, Wind and Fire. The song also offers prominent solos by Marcus Miller and Jeff Lorber on Rhodes.

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Valeriy Stepanov – Album №1

No matter how far away his musical kernel might be considered by the geographical standpoint. Lastly, the internet of things represents a fusion of the physical and digital, the real and virtual worlds. If an historical constant is to be defined in the relationship between Russia and the West, then it is the central role that the West, in all its many musical forms, plays in Russian view. Moscow based multi-instrumentalist Valeriy Stepanov is going West.

After New Beginnings (2017) his sophomore project was Valeriy Stepanov (Live) with songs from his debut album in live atmosphere.  Now he returns with a jazz fusion album as Valeriy Stepanov Fusion Project aptly titled Album №1. Valeriy had the privilege to record his new tunes with such incredible musicians as Martin Miller, Sebastian Lanser, Steven Williams, Steve Tavaglione, Альберт Степанов, Alex Hutchings, Marcus Thomas, Jerohn Garnett, and Johannes Zetterberg.

Get the album on Amazon.com.