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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

“Fearless” soul-jazz saxophonist JWhite is “Driven” to succeed #jazz

He successfully entered the Billboard Top 20 for the first time with the debut single from the upcoming EP, dropping September 13.

Every artist ever to hit the Billboard chart has stories of struggle, heartbreak, challenges, frustration, doubt and thoughts of giving up on a career as a recording artist. Soul-jazz saxophonist JWhite, a newcomer to the Billboard Top 20 with the summer single, “Driven,” is no different. After some reflection, he decided to pursue his dreams fearlessly, inspiring the title to his third collection, “Fearless,” which drops September 13.

“I have overcome so many obstacles and setbacks. I've thought about giving up many times. I've come across many other artists who have the same challenges and discouraging moments. However, I decided that I was going to ignore it all and choose to be fearless in my pursuit. No excuses. No public complaining. Just play hard, play with passion every single time and let God do the rest," said JWhite, a Detroit native who resides in Phoenix.  

JWhite had a hand in writing and producing all eight songs that comprise the “Fearless” EP. He previewed the forthcoming set with “Driven,” a midtempo urban contemporary groove that he wrote and produced with drummer Jeff Canady on which the hornman plays his alto sax fervently.

“I named it ‘Driven’ because I felt the groove had a pulse to it. The way I approached the melody is how I approach my goals as an artist. I approach them with purpose, soul and determination."  
A seasoned core of hitmakers teamed with JWhite to create the EP. Drummer Eric Valentine and bassist Nathaniel Kearney form a deep-pocketed rhythm section on the opening cut, “Valley of the Sun,” which bodes to be the second single. Keyboardist Gail Jhonson pours the soul of her Philly roots into the three tunes she cowrote and coproduced for the set – “Mr. NuGroove,” “Morning Rain” and “90’s Kinda Love” - the last of which features supple basslines from chart-topper Darryl Williams. Guitarist Matt Godina was JWhite’s cowriter and coproducer on “Soiree.” “Just Ride” is the only solo trek on the disc. 
“I wrote ‘Just Ride’ on my own. It's a chord progression I came up with a couple of years ago that I finally put a melody to. I was fortunate enough to have Nick Colionne play guitar on the song. Also, Nathan Mitchell pitched in on production to really bring the tune home."

On the self-assured title track, JWhite combined forces with David P. Stevens. “I met David in San Diego at the Mediterranean Jazz & Supper Club on a joint show I did with Gail Jhonson. David is an awesome musician and has a new style of producing that is groundbreaking in the world of jazz. It was an honor to collaborate with him on this project,” said JWhite, who returns to the club Sunday (August 25) to headline a concert.    

JWhite debuted as a solo artist with the 2012 album “New Jazz Swagger: Reloaded.” His saxplay is a swirl of modern jazz with straight-ahead jazz references, emoting rich melodies and lush harmonic passes atop sensual R&B tracks. Competing at the Warren Hill Sax Summit in 2013 helped him win slots to perform at the San Diego Jazz FestivalLas Vegas Jazz FestivalArizona Jazz Festival and Jazz at the Creek. He’s also played club dates from coast to coast. In 2015, JWhite dropped the “Grit and Glamour” EP, an outing that strayed from his jazz base. “Fearless” is a purposeful return to his muse.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

JWhite’s “Fearless” EP contains the following songs:

“Valley of the Sun”
“Mr. NuGroove”
“Morning Rain”
“90’s Kinda Love”
“Just Ride”

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - August 19, 2019 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Pieces Of A Dream - "On Another Note" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
2 - 2 - FOUR80EAST - "Four On The Floor" - (Boomtang)
3 - 36 - Rick Braun - "Crossroads" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
4 - 4 - Althea Rene - "Flawsome" - (Althea Rene Productions)
5 - 28 - David Benoit - "David Benoit and Friends" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
6 - 6 - Ragan Whiteside - "Five Up Top" - (Randis Music)
7 - 5 - Brendan Rothwell - "Sentiment" - (Independent)
8 - 7 - Norman Brown - "The Highest Act Of Love" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
9 - 3 - Jazmin Ghent - "The Story Of Jaz" - (Jazmin Ghent Music)
10 - 12 - Keiko Matsui - "Echo" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
11 - 21 - Dave Koz & Friends - "Summer Horns II : From A to Z" - (Concord)
12 - 27 - Adam Hawley - "Double Vision" - (Kalimba)
13 - 8 - Jazz Holdouts - "Summer Nights" - (Palm Beach Jazz)
14 - 17 - Dr. Dave & The Housecall Band - "Midnight Daydream" - (Hatherill)
15 - 9 - Phil Denny - "Align" - (Off-Sheet)
16 - 11 - Thom Rotella - "Storyline" - (Rotella)
17 - 10 - Riley Richard - "Captivate Me" - (R&R Music)
18 - 13 - Art Ruprecht - "Cast Your Care" - (Flame Productions)
19 - 18 - Acoustic Alchemy - "33-1/3" - (OnSide Records)
20 - 24 - Nelson Rangell - "By Light" - (Independent)

Our thanks to smoothjazz.comVisit to view the latest complete top 50 chart. Visit to view the latest weekly chart recap.

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Herbie Hancock Institute International Jazz Guitar Competition. December 2-3, Washington, D.C. #jazz

The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Competition will be presented on December 2-3 in Washington, D.C. Open to musicians age 30 and under from across the globe, this year’s competition will shine a spotlight on the guitar.

For over three decades, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Competition played a pivotal role in identifying and empowering the next generation of jazz musicians, educators, and influencers. Building upon this important legacy, the newly minted Hancock Institute Competition represents a changing of the guard for one of the jazz world’s most renowned institutions.

The Semifinals of the 2019 Guitar Competition will be held on Monday, December 2nd, from noon to 5:00 p.m. at the Smithsonian Institution. The semifinalists will compete before an all-star panel of judges including jazz guitarists Stanley JordanRussell MalonePat MethenyChico PinheiroLee Ritenour and John Scofield. Each semifinalist will perform for 15 minutes accompanied by a professional rhythm section.

From this group, the judges will select three finalists who will perform in the final round at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday evening, December 3rd. At stake is more than $150,000 in scholarships and prizes, including a $30,000 first place scholarship and guaranteed recording contract with Concord Music Group; a $15,000 second place scholarship; and a $10,000 third place scholarship.

According to Institute Chairman Herbie Hancock, whose career epitomizes the ideals of the jazz tradition and innovation, “We look forward to discovering and hearing from the next generation of young jazz guitarists, with their innovative styles and unique approach to the music. We are particularly excited to pay homage to the guitar, which has a rich and colorful history that continues to play a pivotal role in the development of jazz. I have no doubt that this year’s Competition will show that the future of this instrument, and of our music, is in good hands.”

The application for the 2019 Guitar Competition can be found All materials must be submitted no later than Friday, October 11, 2019. Please submit any questions to Leonard Brown or by phone at +1 (202) 364-7272. 

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Sunday, August 18, 2019


The Album, Released on August 16, Features 14 New Songs, Special Guest Artists and a Re-Release of Their Platinum Hit, “Vehicle”

Legendary rock group, The Ides of March, released their 55th-anniversary album, “Play On,” on August 16. Produced by Fred Mollin and The Ides, the album features 14 brand new songs, as well as a re-release of their platinum hit, “Vehicle”. The band originated in Berwyn, Illinois, in 1964 and is the world’s longest-performing rock band that still has all of its original members: Jim Peterik (lead vocals, lead guitar and piano), Larry Millas (guitar, bass, and vocals), Bob Bergland (bass, saxophone, and vocals), and Mike Borch (drums and vocals). The original four members for the last 30 years have been joined by Scott May (Hammond organ and vocals), Steve Eisen (woodwinds and percussion), Tim Bales (trumpet and Flugelhorn), and Henry Salgado (trombone).

Vehicle” was an instant hit back in 1970 and became Warner Bros. fastest-selling single of all time. Other hit songs by the Ides include “L.A. Goodbye” and “You Wouldn’t Listen”, all penned by Grammy-winning front man, Jim Peterik. Peterik – a former member of Survivor – made his name as a songwriter with Sammy Hagar, The Beach Boys and 38 Special, but never left The Ides behind as they’ve continued their success over the last five and a half decades. With over 11,000 live performances, their music appeals to all generations, as they play to all ages and sold-out crowds across the country. In addition to playing Ides shows, the bandmates also participate in Jim Peterik’s World Stage and touring their PBS special featuring the hit bands of Chicago from the golden 60’s – Cornerstones of Rock.

Special guests on the album include: Mark Farner (former singer and guitarist of Grand Funk Railroad), David Pack (former Ambrosia front man), Paul Shaffer of David Letterman fame, Cathy Richardson (lead singer of Jefferson Starship), sax phenom Mindi Abair, Tom Doody of Chicago’s Cryan’ Shames, Bo Bice of American Idol fame and formerly of Blood Sweat & Tears, and blues- rock superstar Joe Bonamassa. The album will also be released in a deluxe, double-disc vinyl edition, which includes the original masters of the Parrot and Warner Brothers singles: “Vehicle” (1970), “You Wouldn’t Listen” (1966), “One Woman Man” (1969), “Roller Coaster” (1966), “Flipside” (1972), “Superman” (follow up to Vehicle – 1970), “LA Goodbye” (1971), “Aire Of Good Feeling” (1970).

“Play On” is a musical journey of The Ides’ friendship over the last 55 years, and impresses with the iconic sound that fans know and love. “”Play On” is the culmination of all that we’ve learned and all that we’ve dreamed in The Ides of March’s 55-year history as a band,” said Peterik. “With every mile we’ve traveled together, and the countless shows we’ve played, we’ve found the secrets that make our sound unique, and have tried to distill those elements into every track – the horns, the harmonies, and the songs of a band that is really a family on wheels – and music is our vehicle.” 

The band has been featured by AXS, ABC News, SiriusXM, and Guitar World, as well as shows in the band’s hometown like, WGN News and Windy City Live, to name a few. Recently, Peterik performed on stage with world-renowned cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, in Chicago in support of Little Kids Rock.

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Thursday, August 15, 2019

Eric Wyatt's new session is a powerful homage to Sonny Rollins #jazz

Tenor Tour de Force
The Golden Rule: for Sonny
Through his six recordings as a bandleader, tenor talent Eric Wyatt has basically been performing unspoken tributes to Sonny Rollins. Wyatt calls Rollins his actual/musical godfather and has a way of injecting his passion for bebop and affection for geniuses like Rollins, Charlie Parker, and Pharaoh Sanders, into virtually every note he plays. Wyatt’s latest, The Golden Rule: for Sonny, is his inimitable way of paying tribute to those strong boppers of the past, joined by talents that have been contributing valiantly to the vibrancy of today’s jazz scene—guitarist Russell Malone, pianist Benito Gonzalez, trombonist Clifton Anderson, tenor JD Allen, and emerging youth like Giveton Gelin on trumpet and pianist Sullivan Fortner. Together, the posse exudes both class and bold promise as well as dashes of melodic invention. It is in this alchemy—blending experience with youth, merging tradition with progress—that Wyatt does his greatest service to jazz.

From the opening notes of the opening title track, Wyatt sets out to make a statement. His driving tenor is confident and beautiful, with just enough boogie to put a smile on your face. His improvisation surrounding the Bacharach chestnut “What the World Needs Now” is charming, familiar, and challenging all at once. Elsewhere, the splashy “Don’t Stop the Carnival” is fizzy and fresh, pivoting on Anderson’s sweet trombone. “Best Wishes” lets Fortner loose with the kind of up-tempo hard bop that an ambitious young talent can tackle. The recording closes with the Rollins’-esque “The Bridge,” featuring extended work from Wyatt, with a little room leftover for Fortner. It’s a blast and a great way to fade this session out.

Wyatt has said that he will never forget the impact Rollins—who often played with Wyatt’s father—had on him growing up. Here, on The Golden Rule: for Sonny, he proves he is a man of his word. Wyatt’s Whaling City Sound recording is a tenor-driven tour de force that you won’t soon forget.

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Monday, August 12, 2019

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - August 12, 2019 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Pieces Of A Dream - "On Another Note" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
2 - 6 - FOUR80EAST - "Four On The Floor" - (Boomtang)
3 - 3 - Jazmin Ghent - "The Story Of Jaz" - (Jazmin Ghent Music)
4 - 5 - Althea Rene - "Flawsome" - (Althea Rene Productions)
5 - 2 - Brendan Rothwell - "Sentiment" - (Independent)
6 - 13 - Ragan Whiteside - "Five Up Top" - (Randis Music)
7 - 7 - Norman Brown - "The Highest Act Of Love" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
8 - 11 - Jazz Holdouts - "Summer Nights" - (Palm Beach Jazz)
9 - 4 - Phil Denny - "Align" - (Off-Sheet)
10 - 8 - Riley Richard - "Captivate Me" - (R&R Music)
11 - 10 - Thom Rotella - "Storyline" - (Rotella)
12 - 16 - Keiko Matsui - "Echo" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
13 - 25 - Art Ruprecht - "Cast Your Care" - (Flame Productions)
14 - 12 - Gerald Albright - "30" - (Bright)
15 - 30 - John Novello - "Good To Go" - (529 Music)
16 - 23 - Kim Scott - "Free To Be" - (Innervision Records)
17 - 15 - Dr. Dave & The Housecall Band - "Midnight Daydream" - (Hatherill)
18 - 18 - Acoustic Alchemy - "33-1/3" - (OnSide Records)
19 - 9 - Jessy J - "Live At Yoshi's" - (Changi Records LLC)
20 - 21 - Walter Beasley - "Going Home" - (Affable)

Our thanks to smoothjazz.comVisit to view the latest complete top 50 chart. Visit to view the latest weekly chart recap.

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Friday, August 09, 2019

Matthew Whitaker - "Now Hear This" - Release August 9th, on Resilience Music #jazz

Though he’s still only 18 years old, multi-instrumentalist Matthew Whitaker has come a long way to get where he is today, overcoming adversity and dedicating countless hours to honing his craft. Now, with his declarative label debut Now Hear This, Whitaker announces himself as a major new voice on jazz piano, organ, and a wide range of keyboard instruments.

Due out August 9 via Resilience Music AllianceNow Hear This teams Whitaker with a stellar all-star band featuring guitarist Dave Stryker, bassist Yunior Terry, drummer Ulysses Owens Jr., and percussionist Sammy Figueroa. Keyboard great Marc Cary and flutist Gabrielle Garo also make special guest appearances. The album was overseen by GRAMMY® Award-winning producer Brian Bacchus, who has worked closely with the likes of Gregory Porter, Norah Jones, Randy Weston and Sullivan Fortner, among others.

But it’s Whitaker that commands the spotlight, evidencing a bold and confident sense of swing and a wide-ranging palette that spans straight-ahead jazz and hard bop to R&B and Latin influences. Supplementing his virtuoso piano skills with soulful Hammond organ and coloristic synthesizers, Whitaker leaves any “prodigy” stigma far behind on this stunner of an album.

Whitaker’s distinctive voice would be captivating under any circumstances, but the obstacles that he’s had to overcome in his young life make Now Hear This all the more breathtaking. He was born three months premature in 2001, weighing less than two pounds and able to fit in the palm of his father’s hand. The newborn was given less than a 50% chance of surviving; the oxygen that he was given by doctors allowed him to live but cost him his sight.

Blindness proved no obstacle to playing music, however, and Whitaker displayed preternatural talents from the first moment he touched a keyboard. That initial opportunity came at the age of 3, when Whitaker’s grandfather gifted him a small Yamaha keyboard. “I would come home from school and teach myself nursery rhymes,” Whitaker recalls. “No one showed me how, I just started playing. If I can hear it, I can play it.”

At 5 Whitaker began studying classical piano at the Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg Music School in New York City, the only community music school for the blind and visually impaired in the United States. He continues to work closely with the school; his heartfelt composition “Emotions” was written expressly for a performance there. “They’ve supported me since I was 5 and they continue to do that to this day,” Whitaker says.

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