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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Jim Robitaille - "Space Cycles" - Release April 24, on Whaling City Sound - #jazz

The Great Unknown
Jim Robitaille's Space Cycles escorts us to beautiful and unexpected places
After a brief interlude in a group format, Jim Robitaille is back inside the sparse and generous spaces of his trio. Flanked by Bill Miele on electric bass and Chris Poudrier on drums, Robitaille sounds as if he’s returned home after being away for a while. Originally, the trio evolved out of a jam session series Robitaille ran out of UMass Dartmouth and today it has certainly become a part of his musical DNA.

Like most of his previous trio work, Space Cycles explores the lexicon of post-bop jazz, but also features a variety of roots and branches. The sonic spectrum spans delicate ballads and energetic funk. The recording features seven Robitaille originals along with three covers—the jazz standard “Baubles, Bangles and Beads,” “Never Never Land” (from the 1954 Broadway musical Peter Pan), and the Beatles’ “Here, There and Everywhere.” The canvas is vast and allows for the trio to paint in vibrant colors as it spreads out before them.

From the moody opener, “Natural Selection,” to the closing, epic ensemble jam “Chance Meeting,” the session is dazzling, even sublime. The colors throughout these arrangements pulse and glow, while Robitaille’s guitar tone—born in the legato tradition of names like Hall, Abercrombie, and Scofield—articulates a palette of explosive creativity. At his side, Miele and Poudrier support Robitaille’s work with sturdy, confident rhythm and gentle explorations of their own. Miele shines frequently, in spots such as his melodic solos on “All the Things You Are” and “When We Passed.” Poudrier is loose on “Baubles, Bangles, and Beads,” and he comes out swinging on “Chance Meeting,” helping the trio to close out the session with freewheeling brio. It is a fitting end to an album that feels like a journey, punctuated by exhilarating straightaways, gorgeous viewpoints, and chilled out rest areas.

Like a flowing, casual conversation among old friends, the comfort level of the musicians here feels brisk, amusing, impressive, and, above all, satisfying to hear. Robitaille is coming into a new level of expression. His musical scope has evolved, as has the tone from his guitar, leaping over traditional jazz into the great and jazzy unknown, a place where Robitaille, with the help of his longtime accompanists, clearly feels wonderfully familiar. 

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Pierre Bensusan - "Azwan" Released 03/13 on Dadgad Music #jazz

World music fingerstyle guitar master Pierre Bensusan drops “Azwan” about our oneness and interconnectivity in the midst of a unifying global crisis

Best laid plans, right? After spending the last few years off the concert trail in order to meticulously craft a new album, “Azwan,” preceded by an accompanying book, “Pierre Bensusan Guitar Collection,” and the unveiling of a handmade Lowden Guitars signature model, all of which were to be supported by an extensive 110-date US and Canadian concert tour running from March 7 into July, world music fingerstyle guitar virtuoso Pierre Bensusan suddenly finds himself back home on French soil after having to pull the plug one week into the concert trek due to the Coronavirus outbreak. While the entire tour is being rebooked for 2021, until then, listeners will have to discover the magic and masterful musicianship showcased on the 12-track digital and CD release composed and coproduced by Bensusan for his 3DADGAD Vision label, which is distributed by MVD Entertainment Group.

The COVID-19 global pandemic that has ensnared humanity underscores the oneness of our world and our interlocked connectivity. That’s Bensusan’s message and the meaning behind “Azwan,” the award-winning artist’s 15th album that dropped March 13. The French-Algerian guitarist-vocalist said, “Along my life’s journey, I have experienced unity off and on, being more or less aware of the impact and influence of every action upon the entire universe. As time goes on, the more I feel connected to all people, animals and universally to the whole of nature. Being that we are all connected, my intention is that every action and behavior contributes, supports and adds value to our interconnectivity, especially through my music. It feels like a nurturing or even a healing process for me and those with whom I share the music.”

Voted by Guitar Player magazine readers as Best World Music Guitarist, Bensusan’s music is contemplative, wistful, sublime and prodigiously performed with inspiration rooted in nature. “The concept of ‘Azwan’ came from observing bees, those solar insects working in the darkness together as one, and by observing flocks of birds flying and dancing together as one. It has been an inspiring symbolic representation of the continuum of music. When seeing ‘Azwan’ written, it can evoke a place, a city or a mood, but when hearing it said out loud, it sounds like ‘as one.’ I’ve been contemplating all the music from ‘Azwan’ for years before actually recording it, taking time to allow all the notes to come together as one.”

Bensusan is a storyteller, using expressive and lyrical acoustic guitar parlance and ethereal vocalization to allure, transfix and transport. “‘Azwan’ is primarily a solo instrumental album on which the guitar is conceived as an orchestra, delivering melody, bass, chords and counterpoint in the same space. To it, we add some vocal elements and several collaborations with guest musicians,” said Bensusan who has lived in Paris since age four.

“Azwan” opens with “Fils de la Rose,” a fragrant guitar and violin bouquet that welcomes the musical journey prepared to blossom. “Optimystical” is a seamless swoon of exquisite guitar, atmospheric vocalization and even sweet whistled melodies. On the title track, Bensusan’s simple, meditative and evocative fretwork dispenses poise, hope and grace. “Abeilles” (“Bees” in English) enchants with a touch of celestial vocal harmonization and string accoutrements. Bensusan deploys an endless array of dexterous fretwork on “Balkangeles,” which includes a special appearance by French guitarist Jean-Marie Ecay, who coproduced “Azwan.” Bensusan indulges his wanderlust on “Return to Ireland” and seductively romances with a Latin flair on “Without You.” On “Wee Dander,” Bensusan seems to delight by deftly constructing melodic licks over complex guitar rhythms at constantly vacillating cadences. Adding Christophe Cravero on alto and violin and Stephane Kericky on upright bass lend dramatic sensibilities to “Dia Libre.” Bensusan’s music is genre-defying and genre-uniting, which “Portnoo” exemplifies in its unique alchemy. The artist sings in French on the fun and playful romp “Corps Vaudou” and closes the set poignantly with the sensitive “Manitowoc,” an Indian title meaning “land of the great spirits.”

Teaching himself to play guitar at age eleven after four years of piano training, Bensusan inked his first record deal when he was 17, winning the Rose d’Or at the Montreux Festival for his 1975 debut album, “Près de Paris.” More recently, he won an Independent Music Award in 2014 for “Encore: Live,” a triple live record. He’s regarded as one of the greatest acoustic guitar players of the 21st century, known for his immense sound vocabulary utilizing hues of world music, new age, jazz, classical, traditional, folk and pop with French, Arabic, Latin and Celtic cultural references.    

“Azwan” contains the following songs:

“Fils de la Rose”
“Return to Ireland”
“Without You”
“Wee Dander”
“Dia Libre”
“Corps Vaudou”

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Monday, March 23, 2020

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - March 23, 2020 #jazz Top 100 Album Chart


This chart is valid for this week only if there is a new chart published next Monday.

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Gina Kronstadt - "October Comes Too Soon" - Released 03/20/20 on FallOff Records #jazz

“The Threat” is real

Jazz singer-songwriter Gina Kronstadt’s new single, “The Threat of Love,” earns most added honors at Billboard as her new album and video arrive

Most of us have been tempted to fall for the wrong person at one time or another. Jazz singer-songwriter Gina Kronstadt journals an alluring temptation on “The Threat of Love,” the first single from her third album, “October Comes Too Soon,” which dropped last Friday on FallOff Records. Kronstadt wrote and produced the storybook musing on love, intimate relationships and astute observations. The single earned most added status on the Billboard chart in its debut week at radio. Debuting the same week was the sensual black and white video for “The Threat of Love” that was lensed on the streets of Los Angeles ( 

Kronstadt writes music as therapy – mental and spiritual - and she composed the eight songs that comprise “October Comes Too Soon” during a challenging eight-month period while recovering from multiple shoulder surgeries. She cleverly uses “real” lyrics and her soothing-caress-of-a-voice to capture and convey honest thoughts and emotions, feelings of vulnerability and heartache, and ruminations on love, bliss and politics. When it was time to lay the tracks, Kronstadt called upon noted musicians to vividly illumine her tales: keyboardists John Beasley and Nicholas Semrad, bassist Benjamin Shepherd, drummer Joel Taylor, trumpeter Michael Stever and saxophonist/woodwind player Bob Sheppard. A first-call violin player who has performed on an extraordinary library of crème de la crème recording projects and concert stages, Hollywood box office hits and landmark television series, Kronstadt helmed the 12-piece string section that draped the tracks with lush backdrops, adding depth, drama and elegance.   

While the first single garners attention from smooth/contemporary jazz radio programmers, cuts from “October Comes Too Soon” have also been proliferating playlists at a second radio format: straight-ahead jazz radio. In fact, Kronstadt’s disc is already making its way up the Jazz Week chart.
Kronstadt is eager to share the music from “October Comes Too Soon” with listeners live on stage although current global circumstances may force the delay of her album release concert slated for April 23 at Feinstein’s at Vitello’s in Studio City.    

Below please find a taste of several early album reviews:

“Giving a new dimension to jazz/cabaret on this set of originals, this jazzy lady…is a marvel of fearlessness on all fronts…A jazz vocal date in the classic sense, this is the real deal. Hot.” – Midwest Record

“‘October Comes Too Soon’ is a rather luscious 8-song collection of songs that largely find Gina musing on the nexus between what makes great friendships work between men and women, and the x-factor that looms over the possibilities for the deeper intimacy of love.” – Exclusive Magazine

“She combines her soft voice with elements from jazz, sophisticated pop and funky R&B grooves…a crossover jazz album.” – Keys and Chords

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Monday, March 16, 2020

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - March 16, 2020 #jazz Top 100 Album Chart


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Monday, March 09, 2020

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - March 9, 2020 #jazz Top 100 Album Chart


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