Posts Tagged ‘ New Age ’

Robert Christa – Smooth World

German pianist and composer Robert Christa is a musician you really should have on the radar. Since his debut Nightflight To Rio (2015) and his sophomore project City Lights in 2017 he has come out as an insider tip in the smooth jazz genre. This impression is convincingly confirmed by his third album Smooth World (2019).

Robert Christa performs on his new album keys, backing vocals and programming. He is joined on selected tracks by Robert Friedl (sax), Tom Reif (guitar), Bernd Hemminger (bass), Josiah Ruff, Stephanie Forryan, Mel Kamper (vocals), Mattias Hase (acoustic guitar), Llioba Bruns (cello), Natascha Weber, Lyn Conary, Daniana (backing vocals).

The album opens with Rise & Shine which reveals Christa’s penchant for perfect construction with a great opening. Saxophonist Robert Friedl and guitarist Tom Reif get plenty of opportunity to bring their own ideas to the play.

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Gina Leneé – Revealed

Revealed is pianist Gina Leneé‘s second album produced by Grammy-winner Will Ackerman and co-produced, engineered, and mastered by Tom Eaton. All but one track was composed by the artist (the exception being her cover of the famous romantic ballad “On the Wings of Love’). As would be expected of an Imaginary Road Studio effort, many of the IR’s usual suspects are present in varying roles: Charlie Bisharat (violin), Premik Russell Tubbs (soprano sax and EWI), Jeff Haynes (percussion), Eugene Friesen (cello) Jeff Oster (flugelhorn) as well as Ackerman (acoustic guitar) and Eaton (electric bass). As she showed on Red Diamonds, Leneé displays a deft touch and superb control of nuance and tone, and never allowing her playing to exhibit meaningless artifice or unnecessary pyrotechnics. The guest artists are used sparingly, but as one would expect, their talents contribute to the overall aesthetic of the album whenever they do appear on a song.

Whereas Red Diamonds focused on melodies glowing with soft shadings of romance, Revealed‘s sound tends to evoke a more pensive, somber mood on most tracks, making the album more reflective and even, perhaps, meditative. Leneé’s playing style is not truly minimalist, but tends to be more sparse than some of her contemporaries. And boy, does she make every note count. The prevailing mood of introspection is immediately discerned on the opening “Undeniable” on which Leneé is joined by Oster who colors the tune with a soft glow of jazz/blues. “Finding Me Again” continues the reflective aspect of the first song, albeit with a slightly warmer melodic approach. Leneé’s playing on this song flows nicely, as if a river wending its way through the countryside under a twilight’s amber-shaded sky.

Before delving into a few more of the songs, it’s important to quote some of the artist’s liner notes, which go a long way to explain the overall tone and mood of Revealed. “Revealed is a musical dedication to empower YOU, the listener, in the darkest moments when pain, rejection, self-doubt and isolation weakens your spirit and leaves you the most vulnerable.” You can understand, now, why the main thrust of the album is a musical portrait of self-exploration and a balancing act of somber melancholy as well as a show of subtle strength. “I Want to Get Closer” exemplifies this duality as the song traverses the opening somberness with a palpable climb to subtle drama, characterized by not just Leneé’s piano but Tubbs’ softly soaring sax playing. On “Over,” Bisharat’s violin embellishes the piano melody with just the right amount of tenderness without injecting any sense of the maudlin or faux sentimentality. “Run Away With Me” is a lighter, cheerier tune, with a slightly sped-up tempo (in comparison to most of the songs on the album). Oster’s horn work adds just the right amount of something extra, an element of romance to fuse with Leneé’s piano lead.

Throughout the entirety of Revealed, what stands out to me is the depth of feeling and sincerity of emotion that Leneé brings to the fore. This is the work of a mature artist, someone who is quite comfortable in opening her soul to the listener, pouring out her memories as notes on the keyboard. As the winter approaches (for us in the northern climes, at least), here is an album that almost begs to be listened to as the days grow shorter, the nights grow colder, and the outside world slowly goes to sleep. So, set a fire in the hearth, pour yourself a glass of wine, dim the lights, and indulge in the richness that is Revealed.

You can buy the album on CDBaby.

Brian Culbertson – XX

As chart-topping multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Brian Culbertson crafts his 20th album, the aptly titled “XX” – Roman numerals representing twenty – he revealed plans for the extensive US concert tour that will support the record release. Beginning April 1 in Louisville, Kentucky, Culbertson will take an elaborately designed concert production, The XX Tour, on the road for three consecutive months, playing more than 70 shows, an extremely rare feat for a contemporary jazz artist.

Culbertson’s catalogue includes recordings of jazz – contemporary and straight ahead – as well as R&B, funk, instrumental pop and New Age. “XX,” which drops April 10, reflects his remarkable diversity.

“It’s a mix of things that I’ve done throughout my twenty records. There’s a lot of funky instrumentals, some pop-sounding tracks, a couple slow jams, straight-ahead jazz, gospel, some vocals, lots of horns and some straight-up FUNK! The album is very much a mixture of some modern sounding programming along with live instruments, too. Real drums on almost everything mixed with programming. Definitely a cool sound,” said Culbertson, who invites fans to get involved with the making of “XX” via an Indiegogo campaign that launched this week (https://igg.me/at/BCXX).

Recreating that cool sound live for The XX Tour is Culbertson’s favorite part. Like his massive Colors of Love Tour that played 77 shows in three months and was captured for “Brian Culbertson’s Colors of Love Tour: Live in Las Vegas” Blu-ray disc and two-disc CD that dropped last Valentine’s Day, Culbertson is creating the sound and look for The XX Tour as a sensory experience. The exuberant performer spends months in preproduction meticulously conceiving stunning visuals – staging, lighting, wardrobe and effects – in order to put on a mesmerizing show each time he takes the stage. In addition to spotlighting the new album, the setlist will include cuts from Culbertson’s hit-filled songbook that has amassed 32 Billboard No. 1 singles. There will also be a segment showcasing songs from “Winter Stories,” an album released last month that placed him in an acoustic jazz trio setting for the first time.
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Walter Beasley – Bedtime

Bed Time is composed by Walter Beasley to help us cope with the daily struggles of life. Simply hit play and float away.

Get this album on CDBaby.

Anthony Baskey – Aves

Canadian composer Anthony Baskey creates stirring new age / smooth jazz instrumental compositions with an underlying foundation of complex harmonic progressions.

Aves is a continuation of Anthony’s progressive evolving style and includes his popular single release from 2018, “A New Day”.

Get this album on CDBaby.

Jim Wilson – Remembrance

Along life’s journey, we may be lucky enough to meet someone who inspires us, has a lasting impact and transforms how we love and live our life. Pianist Jim Wilson said goodbye to his inspirational figure last year when his aunt passed away at age 97. He wrote “The Girl From Eastland County” for Aunt Billie Jo for his forthcoming tenth album, “Remembrance: A Collection of Cinematic Portraits,” but the presence of the woman who embodied unconditional love is felt throughout the redolent session of poignant piano poetry that drops September 28 from Willow Bay Music. Remembering another dear confidante, Andrew Gold, Wilson offers a sprightly instrumental remake of the late singer-songwriter’s worldwide hit “Thank You For Being A Friend,” which was remixed for radio airplay by the track’s guitarist Chris Standring.

On Remembrance, Wilson pours his seemingly endless fount of sweeping melodies and grandiose harmonies to craft vivid sonicscapes rendered with heart and emotion. Inherently expressive and sentimental, his exquisite piano strikes resonant notes that penetrate deep to the core. The color and scope applied to Wilson’s canvases vary, sometimes favoring a full palate of lavish orchestrations such as on opener “Shadow Falls,” the title track, “Under A Highlands Moon” and “Denouement”; other times choosing dreamlike ambient hues (“Tangerine Moon” and “Diogenes Lantern”); or opting to leave his reverential pencil sketches sparsely adorned (“In The Stillness” and “Home is Where the Heart Is”). Whether the accompaniment be minimal and atmospheric or illumined by noteworthy musicians including keyboardist Brad Cole (Phil Collins), drummer Charlie Morgan (Elton John), Irish flutist Eric Rigler (“Titanic” soundtrack) and noted session players Troy Dexter (guitar) and Neil Stubenhaus (bass), Wilson’s aim is to connect and lead his listeners on an affecting path of discovery.

“I’ve always been told that my music has a visual quality to it, but I wanted to take it to a new level with this record, creating a collection of ‘cinematic portraits’ that take the listener on an emotional journey. ‘Remembrance’ has a reverent, contemplative feel that serves as centerpiece for the rest of the album. What matters most is that this music enriches the lives of those who hear it,” said Wilson, who concluded by addressing the role his aunt still plays in his life. “I strive to be more like her in every aspect of my life.” Continue reading

Dimitri K. – Blue Cat

Dimitri Kovachev  a.k.a. Dimitri K. lived in Sofia, Bulgaria in the 80’s. Now he works as a music composer, producer and publisher, with a recording production studio in Orlando, Central Florida.

His smooth jazz projects are So Intensified (2016), Silence (2017) and Slim Profile (2017). His newest one is Blue Cat, also released in 2017. Dimitri has written, arranged and performed all tracks.

The starter and title song presents an intimate interplay between Dimitri and guitarist John Valeri. John’s own release Now (2015) is still available on CDBaby. Both musicians place less importance on virtuosity than on atmosphere. Harmony is the magic word.

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