Friday, November 28, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Our chance to share generously with those we love. May you and yours have many reasons to be thankful

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dave Koz - "Dave Koz & Friends: The 25th Of December" #jazz

The holidays have always been about bringing close friends together and celebrating the season with good times and great music. Saxophonist Dave Koz has been doing it every year for nearly two decades with talented friends and collaborators on a tour that brings the yuletide spirit to devoted audiences from one coast to the other.

Koz brings that same collaborative spirit to his new holiday recording, The 25th of December, scheduled for release on Concord Records. The album features duets with some of the most prominent pop and jazz artists of the last several decades, including India.Arie, Eric Benét, Jonathan Butler, Gloria Estefan, Fantasia, Kenny G, Heather Headley, Richard Marx, Johnny Mathis, Trombone Shorty, BeBe Winans and Stevie Wonder.

"Christmas songs already have, inherently, in their DNA, all the things you want in a piece of music," says Koz. "Why do we want to hear these same songs year after year? Because they're more than just lyrics or notes on a page. They're touchstones. They are musical doorways that enable us to go back and visit times in our lives that were much simpler and much more innocent."

The challenge for Koz and his guests was how to mix it up on The 25th of December and provide something for everyone. "We wanted to have a good chunk of traditional Christmas songs that everybody knows," he says, "and then a handful of newer Christmas songs that maybe not everybody knows, but have become popular in the last few years. And then it was important to me as an artist to say, ‘Here are a couple songs that you've never heard before that we're going to throw into the mix.'"
The result is a diverse and satisfying holiday set, beginning with the very first notes of a fully orchestrated instrumental rendition of "The First Noel," a song that Koz had never recorded for any previous holiday album, but one that he considers a personal favorite. "In my mind, it was a way to get the party started with something that everybody knows. It's a beautiful arrangement by Lenny Wee."

The follow-up track features the legendary Johnny Mathis in an upbeat interpretation of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," one of his signature holiday tunes. "Johnny's original version of the song is iconic," says Koz. "So I was a little concerned about going to him and saying, ‘Would you mind recreating a song that you've already made famous the world over?' And he said, ‘I'd love to.' Being in the studio with him that day was one of the greatest days of my career. It all came together organically. We did it with Billy Childs on piano, Chuck Berghofer on bass and Clayton Cameron on drums. I played, Johnny sang, and there it was."

Things take a slow, sultry turn with "This Christmas," the R&B holiday classic delivered here by vocalist Eric Benét. "I've known Eric for more than 20 years. He's one of my favorite singers. We had this idea of taking this great Christmas song by Donny Hathaway and really taking the tempo down to make it a slow jam. I knew when Eric was in the studio that he would want to make it a sexy Christmas song. The groove is deep, and I put a little alto saxophone in there. It's pretty romantic. You know exactly what's on the singer's mind when Eric delivers this song."

Gloria Estefan steps in for a rhythmic reading of "Do you Hear What I Hear?" "Rickey Minor, our producer, said, "Why don't we give it this beat with a lot of drums?'" recalls Koz. "I think he was tapping into what we all know Gloria does best. We got her the arrangement, she loved it, and she turned in a fabulous vocal."

"My Grown Up Christmas List" is especially meaningful for Tony Award-winning vocalist Heather Headley, who recorded the track when she was eight months pregnant. "This is one of the songs that's not as well known as some of the more traditional Christmas songs on the album," says Koz. "It was written several years ago by David Foster and Linda Thompson. I'd never cut it, but I loved the message of it. We sent it to Heather, and she said, ‘I'm on this. And by the way, I'm pregnant, so this is something I can really relate to. This song is about my wishes for the world that my baby will grow up in.'"

The poignant "Another Silent Night," featuring Richard Marx (who also co-wrote the song with Koz and Trey Bruce and arranged the track), is one of two new songs written for this album. "Richard has that pure, crystal-clear voice," says Koz. "I can really relate to that song, because it's about a guy who's not at home with his family during the holidays, but he really wants to be there."

The fully orchestrated "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" is a sax summit that features Kenny G, no stranger to successful holiday recordings. "Kenny is a good friend, and we've known each other for many years, but we'd never recorded together," says Koz. "So this track is something of a musical moment - a coming together of two people who have played the saxophone for a very long time. This was an opportunity for each of our musical identities to be well represented - soprano sax for him, tenor sax for me - and yet we could meet in the middle and play off each other. Kenny was very open to the concept of doing a big band arrangement with a killer rhythm section and it was really fun."
The title track, written and sung by BeBe Winans, is the second of two songs written especially for this album. "I think this is an absolutely gorgeous piece of music," he says. "The first time I heard the demo - just BeBe and piano - I thought, ‘Oh my God, I know this song!' It sounded like a classic that we already knew. BeBe is a very devout man, and that comes across in the song."

India.Arie sets up an old-school groove on "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm," sung in the spirit of Ella Fitzgerald, who had a hit with the same song decades ago. "This is a classic, but it hasn't been recorded all that often," says Koz. "India was really excited about doing an Ella Fitzgerald song. We put this very retro track together, and I think she turned in one of her greatest vocal performances ever."

Part of the song's success stems from the groove set up by Koz on tenor sax in tandem with Troy Andrews, the New Orleans native better known as Trombone Shorty. "Ricky and I were thinking it would be great if we did this song this way, with trombone and tenor," says Koz. "So I texted Troy to see if he'd be willing to do it. The next day, he texted me back and said, ‘Yeah, I'll do it. Send me the track and the chart and I'll play it, and do a solo.' The next day after that, I got it back and there it was. I played to what he did, and then India sang to that. I think she was inspired by the sound, and I love her performance on it."

The stirring "O Holy Night" is a nod to the annual Dave Koz & Friends Christmas tour. The track features Jonathan Butler, a regular fixture on tour who consistently brings the house to its feet with his delivery of this song. "There's such a poignancy when this man delivers this very pure, very transparent song," says Koz. "But up until now, that arrangement had never been recorded. So I went to Jonathan and said, ‘I really want you to be on this album. I think it's very important that we do this song, and I think it's extra important that you do the exact arrangement that we do in our show.' He came into the studio with his guitar, the band was all there, we cut it live and what you hear on the album is his first take. This man owns this song."

Fantasia steps up for a high-energy, gospel-style medley that includes "O Come All Ye Faithful", "Angels We Have Heard on High" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." "We wanted to do something that was just go-get-em," says Koz. "Jason White, who is one of the keyboard players on this record but also a great arranger, is the music director of the West Angeles Church, one of the most popular gospel churches in Los Angeles. Fantasia just catapults it to another place through sheer energy and emotion."

Everyone returns for the final track, a rousing version of the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love," a song with a message especially resonant during the holidays. Leading the charge is Stevie Wonder, who brings his trademark spontaneity and positive energy to the track. "With Stevie, you never know what's going to happen," says Koz. "He plays harmonica, and then he ends up singing the whole back half of the song. There are very few people in life who can take the message of this song and deliver on it, and he's one of them.

Many of the songs on The 25th of December will be a part of 2014 edition of the Dave Koz & Friends Christmas tour, which will be announced shortly. Much like the holiday tour - and the season itself - the album is a communal experience, a moment in time when we reconnect with those people in our lives whom we care about most.

"I wanted this album to be like the best holiday party, to make listeners feel like they had been invited to my house, along with all these phenomenally talented artists," Koz says. "I pictured us all retiring to the living room after dinner, where there's a big grand piano, and everybody got up and did a song, and I played a little bit of saxophone with them. With this album, I wanted to reaffirm the ties that bind us all."

Find out more about Dave Koz

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Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - November 24th, 2014 #jazz


TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Peter White - "Smile" - (Heads Up/CMG)
2 - 5 - Nick Colionne - "Influences" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
3 - 2 - Rick Braun - "Can You Feel It" - (Artistry)
4 - 13 - Eric Darius - "Retro Forward" - (Shanachie)
5 - 3 - Euge Groove - "Got 2 Be Groovin' - (Shanachie)
6 - 4 - Nathan East - "Nathan East" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group)
7 - 9 - Gregg Karukas - "Soul Secrets" - (Nightowl)
8 - 8 - Gerald Albright - "Slam Dunk" - (Heads Up)
9 - 6 - Jonathan Butler - "Living My Dream" - (Artistry/Mack Ave.)
10 - 11 - Dave Koz & Friends" - "The 25th of December" - (Concord/CMG)
11 - 10 - Keiko Matsui - "Soul Quest" - (Shanachie)
12 - 7 - Paul Brown - "Truth B Told" - (Woodward Avenue Records)
13 - 15 - U-Nam - "C'est LeFunk" - (Skytown)
14 - 14 - The Stanley Clarke Band - "Up" - (Mack Avenue)
15 - 20 - Patrick Bradley - "Can You Hear Me" - (Patrick Bradley)
16 - 16 - The Rippingtons - "Fountain of Youth" - (Peak/eOne)
17 - 12 - Michael Lington - "Soul Appeal" - (Copenhagen Music)
18 - 24 - Richard Elliot - "Lip Service" - (Heads Up/CMG)
19 - 18 - Boney James - "The Beat" - (Concord Jazz)
20 - 17 - Kim Waters - "Silver Soul" - (Red River Entertainment)
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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dan Siegel - "Indigo" - Dan Siegel returns with a lush collection of astute jazz etched in melodically rich "Indigo" #jazz

Having recorded a catalogue of Top 10 albums in a vivid spectrum of jazz hues with topflight musicians for 35 years, Dan Siegel only emerges when he has something engaging to say with his poetic piano and crafty keyboards. Back with his first new statement in five years, Siegel’s DSM record label will release Indigo on October 14, a set comprised of ten new compositions that he wrote, arranged and shared production chores with Grammy-nominated bassist Brian Bromberg.

On his 20th album, Siegel creates right up the spine of the jazz dichotomy allowing the melodies, improvisational soloing and grooves to unfold and flourish unencumbered by restrictive genre borders and polarizing labels. His cerebral compositions traverse the expansive jazz terrain, but do so with heart rendering them instantly accessible. The keyboardist has a gift for writing inviting, emotionally-evocative material that connects soulfully.

“My tendency is it to overwrite, which can make it challenging for the listener. I believe the emotional allure of the music on this album (“Indigo”) transcends its compositional complexity,” said the Irvine, California-based artist who was born in Seattle, Washington and raised in Eugene, Oregon.

The beating heart and soul heard on “Indigo” in part comes from the live production tracked in the cozy confines of Bromberg’s home studio in the valley just over the hill from Los Angeles. Siegel and Bromberg have an easy rapport and level of trust that dates back several decades from playing and recording together. Bromberg’s 300-year-old acoustic bass provides the rhythmic bottom end on tracks anchored by the deft drum beats from Yellowjackets veteran Will Kennedy. Bob Sheppard plays a prominent role using a variety of saxophones and impassioned play to echo Siegel’s piano and keyboards leads as well as emote his own scholarly theses. Allen Hinds and Mike Miller are afforded ample room to dispense thoughtful guitar riffs and do so with finesse. Lenny Castro’s percussion and Craig Fundyga’s vibraphone embellishments add texture, color and shadow in all the right places while two different horn sections appear on a total of six tracks providing power and depth. The cumulative result of such masterful players animating Siegel’s poignant piano pieces is a warm and plush album that will be serviced for airplay at straight-ahead jazz (full album) and contemporary/smooth jazz outlets (title cut).

Siegel inked his first record deal in 1979 with Inner City Records, which issued his debut disc, “Nite Ride,” featuring guitar great Lee Ritenour. Siegel’s sophomore session, “The Hot Shot,” went No. 1 on the Radio & Records chart and spent ten weeks in the Top 10 on the Billboard jazz chart. A couple years later, Siegel moved to Los Angeles to focus on composing film and television scores. Subsequently, he signed with Epic Records and altered his sound from fusion to collections that spanned contemporary jazz, electronic, worldbeat and R&B. Over the years, he has played and recorded with Herbie Hancock, Boney James, Larry Carlton, Joe Sample, Ernie Watts, John Patitucci, Bela Fleck and Ottmar Liebert in instrumental settings; Glenn Frey, Chaka Khan, Berlin and Philip Bailey (Earth, Wind & Fire) in the pop world; and amassed an array of television and film credits that boasts Oscar-winner “The Usual Suspects.” For more information, please visit http://www.DanSiegelMusic.com.

The songs contained on “Indigo” are:
“To Be Continued”
“By Chance”
“Indigo”
“Beyond”
“Far and Away”
“If Ever”
“Spur of the Moment”
“First Light”
“Consider This”
“Endless”

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Kristen Chenoweth - "Coming Home" Released on Concord Records

KRISTIN CHENOWETH'S MUSICAL HOMECOMING

Emmy and Tony Award-winning singer-actress to released her first live CD Coming Home on November 17.  PBS concert special airs on November 28.

For Immediate Release – "The whole experience was very emotional," Kristin Chenoweth says of the historic performance that's captured on Coming Home, her first Concord Records release and her first-ever live album.

Scheduled for release on November 17, 2014, the aptly titled 15-song album captures the versatile singer-actress singing for a rapturously enthusiastic crowd at the Kristin Chenoweth Theatre in the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center in her hometown of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.  There will also be a deluxe CD – with three extra tracks – available only at Target.



"Any time you come home, you have a flood of emotions, and singing in front of people I've known most of my life made me even more nervous," Chenoweth observes.  "But I couldn't imagine doing it anyplace else.  I just wanted them to be proud of me." 

The career-spanning CD is the audio counterpart to Kristin Chenoweth: Coming Home, the artist's first television concert special, which will premiere on PBS stations nationwide on November 28 and be released on CD and DVD.

The personally-charged performance finds Chenoweth accompanied by an expert 11-piece band incorporating strings, horns and woodwinds, along with a trio of backup vocalists and the Broken Arrow High School Choir.  The set list spans her entire stage and screen career and encompasses the breadth of her musical interests, incorporating Broadway classics, timeless pop standards and contemporary material, covering a remarkable amount of stylistic ground while providing a compelling showcase for Chenoweth's abundant talent and charisma.

Coming Home's many highlights include powerful new renditions of "Popular" and "For Good," both of which Chenoweth introduced in her starring role in the Broadway smash Wicked.  She also brings fresh energy and emotion to such venerable standards as Lerner and Loewe's "I Could Have Danced All Night," Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg's "Over the Rainbow," Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's "All the Things You Are," and the more recent show tunes "Bring Him Home," from Les Misérables; and "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again," from Phantom of the Opera.

Elsewhere on Coming Home, Chenoweth demonstrates her longstanding affinity for the songs of John Kander and Fred Ebb with stirring readings of the duo's enduring compositions "Maybe This Time" and "My Coloring Book."  Her interpretive skills also illuminate Dolly Parton's "Little Sparrow," the contemporary spiritual "Upon This Rock," and Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer's disco-era smash "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)."  Chenoweth also revisits the poignant "I Was Here" and "Fathers and Daughters," which she originally recorded in 2011, and taps into the timeless resonance of Stephen Foster's 19th-century ballad "Hard Times Come Again No More."

"I can't just sing a song for no reason, so I only choose songs that mean something to me," Chenoweth states.  "For example, I chose 'My Coloring Book' because when I was in college, my voice teacher didn't think I understood the song, and told me to pull it out one day when I did.  So I'm singing it all these years later, and she was there to witness it.  I also like to reintroduce songs that people may not be familiar with, like Stephen Foster's 'Hard Times,' which is from 1853 but sounds like it could have been written today.  And I love to do songs that people wouldn't expect from me, like 'Enough Is Enough.' 

"I'm known for musical theatre," she continues, "but I grew up with country and gospel, and I've always loved standards and operas.  So I figured that this live album would be a good chance to show people the different things that influenced me and the different things I can do."

Since achieving Broadway stardom with her roles in You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown and Wicked, Kristin Chenoweth has effortlessly transitioned between her parallel careers in stage, television, film and music.  After winning a Tony Award for You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown and earning a Tony nomination for Wicked, she won an Emmy Award for her role in the ABC TV series Pushing Daisies, and was nominated for two Emmy Awards and a People's Choice Award for her work in the Fox series Glee.  In addition to numerous other TV, film and stage projects, she was a series regular on NBC's The West Wing, was a guest judge on American Idol and has recorded four studio albums.

Chenoweth plans to return to Broadway in early 2015 with a starring role in the Roundabout Theatre Company's 20-week limited engagement of On the Twentieth Century.  She recently completed roles in the films The Boy Next Door, alongside Jennifer Lopez, Opposite Sex, the indie teen drama Hard Sell and the Disney Channel's live-action original movie Descendents, in which she plays the classic villain Maleficent.

Her celebrated acting career aside, Chenoweth says that she finds it liberating to sing in a concert situation, engaging directly with the songs and her audience. 

"When I'm in a concert setting, I don't have to play a role," she notes.  "It's more of a challenge to sing as yourself, because you can go to a very raw place that you don't always want to share, or maybe you don't mean for it to come out.  But it's all part of being an artist and letting people see who you are.  And hopefully when people listen to this CD, they'll have a better idea, or maybe even a different idea, of who Kristin Chenoweth is."

In addition to Coming Home's CD release, Concord will also issue the Coming Home concert on DVD in February 2015, and PBS will distribute a CD and DVD edition of the show as a fundraising premium.

Kristin Chenoweth: Coming Home will make its TV premiere on November 28 (check local listings) as part of the 2014 PBS Arts Fall Festival.  Chenoweth will also host the series, which underscores PBS' commitment to America's best performing arts, and gives millions of viewers a front-row seat and a backstage pass to great cultural programs.  Broadcasting every Friday night through December 5, with a range of related online content, the Fall Festival features artists and performances from across the country, comprising full-length performances, behind-the-scenes interviews, and artist and performer profiles.  For more, visit pressroom.pbs.org.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - November 17th, 2014 #jazz


TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Peter White - "Smile" - (Heads Up/CMG)
2 - 2 - Rick Braun - "Can You Feel It" - (Artistry)
3 - 3 - Euge Groove - "Got 2 Be Groovin' - (Shanachie)
4 - 5 - Nathan East - "Nathan East" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group)
5 - 6 - Nick Colionne - "Influences" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
6 - 8 - Jonathan Butler - "Living My Dream" - (Artistry/Mack Ave.)
7 - 7 - Paul Brown - "Truth B Told" - (Woodward Avenue Records)
8 - 4 - Gerald Albright - "Slam Dunk" - (Heads Up)
9 - 10 - Gregg Karukas - "Soul Secrets" - (Nightowl)
10 - 14 - Keiko Matsui - "Soul Quest" - (Shanachie)
11 - 23 - Dave Koz & Friends" - "The 25th of December" - (Concord/CMG)
12 - 11 - Michael Lington - "Soul Appeal" - (Copenhagen Music)
13 - 29 - Eric Darius - "Retro Forward" - (Shanachie)
14 - 12 - The Stanley Clarke Band - "Up" - (Mack Avenue)
15 - 9 - U-Nam - "C'est LeFunk" - (Skytown)
16 - 22 - The Rippingtons - "Fountain of Youth" - (Peak/eOne)
17 - 15 - Kim Waters - "Silver Soul" - (Red River Entertainment)
18 - 13 - Boney James - "The Beat" - (Concord Jazz)
19 - 18 - Mindi Abair - "Wild Heart" - (Concord Music Group)
20 - 16 - Patrick Bradley - "Can You Hear Me" - (Patrick Bradley)

Our thanks to smoothjazz.comVisit smoothjazz.com to view the latest complete top 50 chart. Visit smoothjazz.com to view the latest weekly chart recap.
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Friday, November 14, 2014

Eric Darius - "Retro Forward" - Release on Shanachie #jazz

VISIONARY SAXOPHONIST ERIC DARIUS FINDS INSPIRATION FROM THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE AND TEAMS UP WITH ALL-STAR PRODUCERS/ WRITERS FOR SHINING NEW SHANACHIE CD RETRO FORWARD


Saxophonist, composer, producer, and vocalist Eric Darius likes to play by his own rules. He’s a visionary who has learned to listen to his own inner voice. Steeped in tradition and grounded in the lessons learned from his mentors, Darius is not afraid to push himself and his art forward. The Renaissance man reaffirms this credo on his sixth album as a leader and second recording for Shanachie Entertainment. “Retro Forward represents my musical statement as an artist who’s not confined by any boundaries, genres, or rules. As a younger person with roots in the Contemporary Jazz genre, I feel it’s my responsibility to pay homage to the greats that founded this music, but also push it forward to a new, exciting direction that will keep the music alive and relevant for the younger generation,” confesses the astute business scholar.
“Eric’s energy and musicality are undeniable. He’s fusing Jazz with Hip-Hop, R&B, Soul, and Rock for a new sound that’s exciting and truly innovative!”- Dave Koz
Eric Darius’ infinite vision has allowed the musical chameleon to collaborate with such diverse superstars as Prince, Jamie Foxx, David Foster, George Benson, Mary J. Blige, and Wynton Marsalis to name a few. He has even appeared on the popular Simon Cowell TV series, The X Factor and TNT’s hit TV drama series, Mob City. For Retro Forward, the Billboard chart-topping saxophonist aligns himself with a new crew of producers and writers and the result is a new found energy and sound. “My goal was to work with producers, writers and musicians who would interpret my music from a completely different and fresh perspective, in order to reinvent myself and redefine my music. I took everything that I had done in the past and pressed the reset button. I had to put myself in a new environment and get out of my comfort zone,” shares the Tampa, FL. raised and Los Angeles based musician.”

Retro Forward joins Darius with Grammy-winning songwriter and producer Antonio Dixon who is one half of the hit-making FaceTone Productions team with Babyface. Dixon’s credits also include work with Beyoncé, Celine Dion, Janet Jackson, Toni Braxton and Christina Aguilera, to name a few. Darius also called upon super-producer Blu2th, who has created hits for everyone from Chris Brown to Tyrese, Jordin Sparks and Boy II Men. “Their musical vision and experience working with so many other incredible artists really helped to craft the new sound on this project, breathe new life into my music, and push my playing to another level,” states Darius.

Retro Forward shines light on Eric Darius’ rich melting pot of influences that range from Jazz, R&B, Pop and Hip-Hop to Gospel, Reggae and Rock. “With this album, I really wanted to take my listeners on a musical journey, capturing sounds from one era to the next,” shares the ambitious and adventurous saxman. “I want this album to be the soundtrack to their lives from past, present, to future spreading love and joy in the process.” Darius definitely delivers on this tall order.

Retro Forward opens with the exhilarating original the saxophonist penned with Antonio Dixon, “All Around The World.” His soulful alto rides a jubilant funky mix that propels his saxophone to new heights. “The inspiration for the song came from my desire to reach people all around the world regardless of race, ethnicity, age, or demographic. It’s that song that I envisioned people all around the world moving to,” explains Eric. As the album’s title track suggests, “Retro Forward” unites old and new influences to create a triumphant anthem and an album highlight. The charged, edgy and old school throwback “Back To You,” draws influence from two of Darius’ all-time favorite groups. “I wanted to make a song that would evoke memories of The Jackson 5 and Earth, Wind and Fire by capturing those sounds, re-creating that magic but putting a contemporary spin on it,” says Eric.

“It’s been a while since there’s been a young saxophonist we could really sink into…” - Centric.com
 
Retro Forward also features the Pop dance tune “Broke Down” with a retro 90’s twist. “In order to stay relevant, I always love going to clubs to see what DJ’s are spinning and what people are dancing to,” confides Darius. “As an instrumentalist, I strive to make music that can even be played in a dance club.

Darius teams up with Eric Dawkins for the swooning and poignant ballad “What’s Her Name,” penned by Dawkins. The marriage between Eric’s soulful and soaring tenor saxophone and Dawkins’ passionate vocals is sublime.

Darius explains, “Most people may recognize Eric Dawkins as a writer and producer for artists like Mary Mary, Musiq Soulchild, Tyrese, Quincy Jones, and R. Kelly, but he is also an incredible solo vocalist. It was a pleasure working with such a phenomenal talent like him.”

“Choosing a cover song for me has always been kind of difficult because there are so many great songs to choose from,” shares Eric Darius, who features two covers on Retro Forward. He transforms Barry White’s 1974 #1 hit “Can Get Enough of Your Love” into a sultry duet and ballad with singer /songwriter Terry Dexter. Eric works overtime on this one, as he augments his sax playing by showing off his vocal stylings. This is the first time he has recorded his vocals since his debut album Night On The Town in 2004. The inclusion of his version of Pharrell’s smash hit “Happy,” a top 25 Billboard hit for Darius at radio, was an easy one as the song has been a part of Eric’s repertoire during his live shows over the past year. “With so much negativity going on in the world today, I felt like Pharrell’s song was that perfect song that spreads happiness and positivity, which is truly the essence of my music,” states Eric. “The crowd’s response every time we performed that song live really indicated to me that it was a song I needed to record and put on my album!”

Retro Forward, which is a follow up to Darius’ 2010 Shanachie debut, On a Mission, features futuristic and neo-soul flavored “Never” and the song “Healing,” which fuses elements of Reggae, R&B, Hip Hop and 80’s Rock, representing Eric’s Caribbean roots. Darius pays homage to Stevie Wonder and the sound of Motown with “Heaven Sent,” featuring vocalist Dessy Di Lauro, who heads her own unique, Neo-Ragtime group. “Stevie has always been one of my favorite artists of all time, and my vision was to make a song that captured the essence of his timeless classics,” comments the saxophonist. He shows off a different side on his original “Forever Yours,” a pensive ballad that features his gorgeous and lyrical soprano saxophone. It also marks the first time that he has recorded on soprano since he made his recording debut in 2004.

“This guy cooks up today's flavors while adding yesterday's ingredients.” - The Dallas Morning News
 
“Artists such as Prince, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Miles Davis have always inspired me because of their fearlessness to express themselves freely from a musical standpoint and allow their music to evolve with each album,” states Eric Darius. Hailing from a musical family with rich traditions in Caribbean music (his father is from Haiti and his mother is from Jamaica), Eric realized his calling for music at an early age. “ I remember being nine years old and hearing a saxophonist play at my church. I instantly loved the sound…I remember being blown away by the soul and emotion of the instrument. It was as if I could almost hear the words and lyrics with each note being played…it was at that point that I fell in love with the instrument. The saxophone has a way of connecting with people in a way that no other instrument does. To me, its expressions are closest to the human voice.” Darius is one of those musicians who was fortunate to benefit from music programs in the school system. As a result the young musician has made it a mission to pay it forward and has spent a considerable amount of time exposing young students to music in the public school system with his On A Mission in the Schools campaign. He shares, “It is important to me that these types of music programs remain available for children. One of my goals is to expose young kids to music with substance and to help make them aware that music can be an outlet for their emotions…that it can be a positive influence in their lives. By age eleven—after only playing for one year—Eric was chosen to be in Sonny LaRosa and America's Youngest Jazz Band, which consisted of young musicians, ages five to twelve. The group toured the country and even played at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

Throughout Eric’s young but already dynamic career, he’s had the tremendous opportunity to travel and perform worldwide with numerous groups. Even as a high school student at Blake High School of the Performing Arts and college student at the University of South Florida in Tampa, he had the fortune to travel internationally at such a young age. The much in demand saxman’s worldwide gigs include Japan, Indonesia, London, Spain, Germany, France and Italy, among countless other countries.

“My goal is to really help bridge the generational gap and make music that has infinite possibilities,” concludes Eric Darius. With the release of Retro Forward, Eric Darius is building bridges, forging new paths and ensuring that his heartfelt, organic and honest approach to the music will stand the test of time.

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