Posts Tagged ‘ Saxophone ’

B.J. Jansen – Common Ground

With one foot rooted in jazz tradition, the other explores the present with an eye on the future. Saxophonist B.J. Jansen brings in five associates whose diverse backgrounds and musical styles culminate in the artist’s 10th recording as a leader, Common Ground (2017).

Jansen plays baritone sax. His accompanists are Delfeayor Marsalis, trombone; Ralph Peterson, drums; Duane Eubanks, trumpet; Dezron Douglas, bass; and Zaccai Curtis, piano.

“Street Walk,” composed by Frank Stagnitta, was inspired by the writer’s experience in New York City. The song has a beat the draws from African rhythms. The horn players are the driving force behind this piece, harmonizing for the main theme, then splitting into a series of solos. Douglas also gets a moment to stretch out, accompanied only by Peterson, who tears it up on the kit.

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Berta Moreno – Little Steps

A debut album with all-original music. Add a couple of Grammy winners and nominees to the mix, and you have the stunning introduction to saxophonist Berta Moreno, Little Steps.

Moreno plays tenor sax and composed all eight songs. Her accompanists are Steve Wilson, alto and soprano sax; Troy Roberts, tenor and soprano sax; Manuel Valera, piano; Maksim Perepelica, double bass; and David Hardy, drums.

The set opens with the cool “J.G. Power.” The blended saxes carry the melody after the finger-snapping pace is set by the rhythm section. Moreno then goes on an extended jaunt, delivering with a happy-go-lucky attitude. The sax trio engages in a brief, but tightly syncopated series of rolls before the next soloist. The cool mood continues until the next round, when the sax cranks up the intensity. After another rolls in which the saxes call, with a response first by the drums and then by the bass, the song reverts to the main theme.

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Chad Lefkowitz-Brown – Onward

In a field where so many saxophonists opt for the smoother sound, it’s always a good day when an artist plays the instrument with an edge, an old-school verve. Chad Lefkowitz-Brown comes through with Onward (2017).

Lefkowitz-Brown plays the tenor sax. His accompanists are Steven Fiefke on piano; Raviv Markovitz on bass; and Jimmy MacBride on drums. Special guest Randy Brecker plays trumpet on a couple of tracks.

The title song opens the set in dramatic fashion. This hard-charging, free-spirited piece is like a call to move forward. Upbeat, with solid play from all, it’s a song that can get you on your feet, or that you can enjoy just listening. Lefkowitz-Brown leads most of the way, but there’s not a moment when you don’t feel the others. Fiefke also has a stunning middle solo.

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Najee – Poetry In Motion

Time flies by and taste is moving. Long-term values lasting for now and future generations are rare. Najee‘s music is such a seldom companion through our whole life. In this surf of changing fashion he is the rock of consistency.

His newest project Poetry In Motion will be released August 25, 2017 on Shanachie Entertainment. By the way his fourth release on this veritable label. Najee performs on the album soprano, tenor sax and flute. As used by his projects Najee has again surrounded himself by a large group of musicians. Among the listed musicians are Barry Eastmond, Matt Cooper, Mike Logan (keyboards), Blake Aaron, Bluey, Richard Bull, Randy Bowland, David P Stevens (guitars), Catl Carter, Francis Hylton, Michael Manson (bass), Jermaine Parish; Francesco Mendelia (drums), Victor Williams, Joao Castano (percussion), Eric Roberson, Will Downing (vocals), Bobby Lyle (piano), J.J. Williams (drum overdubs), and Rod Bonner (keyboards, bass guitar and drums).

The stratosphere is the second major layer of Earth’s atmosphere, just above the troposphere, and below the mesosphere. The unique feature of this song compared to many competitors in the smooth jazz genre is the remarkable flow of the melody without any overdub or programmed superstructure. Just Najee and his instrument in pure coincidence.

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Kenny Shanker – The Witching Hour

It’s straight-ahead jazz, but with enough melodic influences to work for the masses who tend to shy away from things that aren’t catchy. Saxophonist and composer Kenny Shanker releases The Witching Hour (Wise Cat Records, 2017).

Shanker plays alto and soprano saxophones. His accompanists are Mike Eckroth, piano; Daisuke Abe, guitar; Yoshi Waki, guitar; and Brian Fishler, drums.

Shanker plays the alto on the opener, “Kottinger Park.” It’s a high-energy, fun romp. The leader plays with passion, exploring the range of his instrument, with powerful cohesion among his accompanists. Middle solos by Eckroth and Abe keep things going, but it’s the play of Waki and Fishler that keeps it all together. The two really get busy behind the guitar.

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Najee – Poetry In Motion

“As a musician, there is always something new that I want to share with my audience,” admits Najee, the multi-Platinum selling contemporary jazz pioneer who has made a career of reinventing himself, sparking trends and never resting on his laurels. “The ability to collaborate with different musicians and to continually find fresh approaches to my music is what keeps me inspired.” The multiple Grammy-Award nominated instrumentalist, composer and quadruple threat who is equally adept on soprano, tenor and alto saxophones and flute, recently celebrated his 30th anniversary as a recording artist. Najee, who has collaborated with iconic figures Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock and George Duke, will release his seventeenth album as a leader, Poetry In Motion, August 25, 2017. The anticipated CD is dedicated to two ground-breaking musicians who Najee has had the distinction of working with – Prince and Al Jarreau. “Both artists in their own way have changed the culture of music forever,” shares the saxophonist. “Whenever I have worked with people of their caliber of artistry, I have always walked away with something that helps to shape my musical conversation.” Poetry In Motion finds Najee nothing short of inspiration, as he calls upon a few all-star friends to create a dialogue well worth remembering. Najee’s fourth recording for Shanachie unites him with such dynamic musicians as Will Downing, Maysa, Eric Roberson, Bluey of Incognito, Barry Eastmond, Bobby Lyle, Blake Aaron and Randy Bowland.

Najee is a master storyteller. Whether the debonair multi-instrumentalist is engaged in a verbal or musical conversation, his alluring charisma has a way of seducing you into his world. His technical agility, grace, compositional prowess, unbridled passion and fearless genre bending have made him one of the most sought after musicians of his generation. Poetry In Motion is a riveting sonic journey that finds the saxman doing what he does best – shape-shifting through diverse musical terrain and fusing the best elements of all the music that is close to his heart. “As a youngster growing up in New York City I was exposed to a multi-cultural musical environment,” reflects the saxophonist. “It was through these interactions that I was able to benefit from playing with people who played Latin music, Jazz but mostly R&B. This has become a part of my musical personality. I must admit at times I struggle to stay focused with one genre!” Lucky for us Najee does not have to choose and the result on Poetry In Motion is a beautiful expression of his musical curiosity and identity.

Poetry In Motion opens with the buoyant and luminescent “Stratosphere,” showcasing Najee’s soaring, warm and supple soprano saxophone. Najee penned the intoxicating and inviting original with Barry Eastmond who lends his piano and compositional skills to several tracks on the CD. Eastmond has produced and collaborated with everyone from Al Jarreau and Anita Baker to Freddie Jackson and Brandy. “I’ve known Barry for a very long time and working with him was one of the greatest joys of recording this album,” shares Najee. The irresistible and fun loving “Is It The Way,” features singer Eric Roberson. “Eric is one of the brightest young R&B vocalists, producer, songwriter and performer in our industry and it was an absolute pleasure to have him contribute his gift on this record,” shares Najee. Roberson’s soulful vocals gel perfectly with Najee’s bluesy soprano and Eastmond’s buttery keys. Poetry In Motion also finds Najee collaborating with the brilliant producer, multi-instrumentalist and Incognito mastermind Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick. “Bluey is one of the greatest people to work with in the studio,” shares Najee. “He is unique in his approach to getting the work done.” Indeed Najee, Bluey and Incognito get the work done on the tour-de-force dance-floor number “Let’s Take It Back.” Najee changes the pace with the seductive and Latin-tinged “Noche Romantica,” the perfect platform for the saxophonist to shine a spotlight on his gorgeous tone and impeccable phrasing. The syncopated intro with Najee on his flute calls to mind Chick Corea’s “Spain,” while his passionate and emotive tenor saxophone at times is reminiscent of the longing tenor of Gato Barbieri. Najee enlists the “Prince Of Sophisticated Soul,” Will Downing for the moving “We’ll Be Missing You.” He shares, “Over the years we have worked together on several records and have performed around the world. I could not have made a better choice to write and perform a song that honors Al Jarreau and Prince.” Continue reading

Will Donato – Supersonic

Popularity can be measured by the acceptance of the audience or the frequency of participation in music recordings. Saxophonist Will Donato can take advantage of both.

His stellar list of recordings includes musicians like Steve Oliver, Steve Reid, Blake Aaron, Al McKay, Greg Karukas, Danny Kusz, Rob Tardik, Alan Hewitt, Todd Ashley, Toni Childs, Gerald Levert and Richard Marx.

He can count to his solo albums Will Power (2004), Will Call (2006), Laws of Attraction (2009), What It Takes (2010), Best Of The Season (2011), Universal Groove (2014) and this year Supersonic.

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