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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Pieces Of A Dream - "On Another Note" - Release on Shanachie 5/24/19 - #jazz

The fact that Pieces Of A Dream are already releasing their 24th album is a clear sign of consistency and popularity, which is particularly noteworthy in the field of smooth jazz. Pieces Of A Dream are Curtis Harmon (keyboards, drums, percussion) and James K. Lloyd (keyboards).

Both are joined on the new album by Tony Watson Jr.(sax), Chris Harris (guitar), Elec Simon (drums), Bennie Sims, George Granville, Tony Watson Jr. (keyboards) on selected tracks. Curtis and James have essentially shared the compositional work, with assistance also received from Tony Watson Jr. and Bennie Sims on some songs.

Since their album Peaces (1997) the group has solidified their style based on the still popular smooth jazz. On Another Note doesn't make a difference when James Lloyd quickly reaches into the piano keys to a groovy shuffle beat. James likes to shine with his virtuoso interludes. With Tony Watson Jr. on the saxophone, the sound becomes full and rounded.

Floating grabs immediately your attention with a high emotional dreamlike flow. Chris Harris on acoustic guitar and Tony Watson Jr. on sax eloquently define the romantic factor. Kickin' & Screamin' is a funky retrospective to the time of George Duke, Johnny "Guitar" Watson or George Clinton. Remarkable are Tony Watson's powerful sax including his superb horn arrangement and Chris Harris wild guitar performance delivering pure authentic Funk feelings.

We already know from his solo albums that James Lloyd is not only a gifted composer but also a true talent as a multi-instrumentalist. Take Me There gives an impressive testimony for it. Tony Watson Jr. and Curtis Harmon celebrate Latin American-inspired smooth jazz on A Pieces FiestaImages Of Peace meets the emotional vein from the selection of the instruments, the tune leading and the way of playing, simply a beautiful soothing melody.

Rolling Along is the aptly title of this typical James Lloyd piano piece with a toe tapping groove. Smooth Dreams is special because a total of four keyboardists are involved in the sound, while in the foreground saxophonist Tony Watson Jr. is the main interpreter. Tony also shoulders the next song Real To Me, where he even sings the chorus with Curtis. While Tony burns on the final Last Call, James showcases his skills anew with impressing piano runs.

Pieces Of A Dream's On Another Note is graced with flawless musicianship. Fresh music for the smooth jazz genre. Did we expect anything different from these both?

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Monday, May 20, 2019

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - May 20, 2019 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - The Rippingtons - "Open Road" - (Peak Records/EOne Music
2 - 2 - Norman Brown - "The Highest Act of Love" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
3 - 7 - Brendan Rothwell - "Sentiment" - (Independent)
4 - 5 - Kim Scott - "Free To Be" - (Innervision Records)
5 - 3 - Keiko Matsui - "Echo" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
6 - 6 - Paul Hardcastle - "Hardcastle VIII" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythem
7 - 4 - Jazz Funk Soul - "Life And Times" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
8 - 8 - Eric Darius - "Breakin' Thru - (SagiDarius Music)
9 - 9 - Paul Brown - "Uptown Blues" - (Woodward Avenue)
10 - 10 - Jeff Ryan - "Embrace" - (Woodward Avenue)
11 - 13 - Blake Aaron - "Color And Passion" - (Innervision)
12 - 14 - U-Nam - "Future Love" - (Skytown)
13 - 16 - Jessy J - "Live At Yoshi's" - (Changi Records LLC)
14 - 11 - Euge Groove - "Groove On" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
15 - 12 - Gregory Goodloe - "Stylin'" - (Hip Jazz)
16 - 17 - Rheza Kahn - "Next Train Home" - (Painted Media)
17 - 21 - Steve Oliver - "Illuminate" - (SOM)
18 - 26 - LEBRON - "Undeniable" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
19 - 23 - Darren Rahn - "Moxified" - (Side 2 Music)
20 - 19 - Brian Simpson - "Something About You" - (Shanachie Entertainment)

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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Thursday, May 16, 2019

BT ALC Big Band "The Search For Peace"

Part Superfly, part Cotton Club. Part James Brown, part Count Basie. All rhythm, all groove. Meet BT ALC Big Band (, the 19-piece outfit on a quest to put a fresh spin on the art of big band jazz orchestras by adding funk to the horn-powered sound. The high-energy collective that also makes music education part of their mission drops “The Search For Peace” this Friday. The album release will be celebrated Friday evening with two sold-out concerts at City Winery in Boston.

Brian Thomas and Alex Lee-Clark lead BT ALC Big Band, flexing the muscle of five saxophonists, four trumpeters and four trombonists in its high-octane arsenal. Thomas and Lee-Clark wrote the music on “The Search For Peace,” which incorporates some African funk and reggae/ska in the mix of what the duo call “big band funk.” Soulive’s Alan Evans produced the collection, taking an old-school, 1960s-70s approach with the objective of showcasing the band’s combustible raw energy. The retro sound was created by putting the entire band in the same recording studio and letting them loose on the seven tunes, using one omnidirectional microphone to record the tracks live.

For Thomas and Lee-Clark, their goals for BT ALC Big Band are two-part: revive and expand the possibilities for big bands, making them relevant again and move the art form forward through music education. In addition to making their charts available for study, the two musicians are busy clinicians throughout New England, teaching, conducting workshops and performing with students.             

After Friday’s album release concert, BT ALC Big Band will begin a monthly residency on May 20 at Sally O’Brien’s near Boston with shows booked through September. Their roots in the area are deep with Thomas and Lee-Clark having met while studying music at UMass Amherst. Their band dropped its debut album, “Superhero Dance Party,” in 2013 followed by the two-volume “The Herd Sessions” three years ago. The new record takes its name for “everyone's personal struggle to find peace in their own lives and with each other, specifically in this moment in history. There's so much instability as ‘the future’ is being formed around us in real time, and it can feel like you don't have a say in any of it - politically, economically, environmentally or any other aspect of the human experience. ‘The Search For Peace’ is really about the struggle to find your own corner of stability in an unstable world.”

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Back on a limitless mission: classical pianist Victoria Fatu resumes her career with her Los Angeles debut on May 22

She’s performed for seven presidents, the Pope and Queen Elizabeth, but never a full-scale concert in Los Angeles. A year after making her Carnegie Halldebut, award-winning classical pianist Victoria Fatu will make her West Coast premiere on May 22 when she plays Boston Court Pasadena at an invitation-only VIP showcase and she will do so with a personal agenda. After being told by a host of classical music powerbrokers - including top agencies and promoters - that her career was finished when she took a hiatus to have children, the Russian-trained artist of Armenian descent returns to centerstage determined to pick up where she left off ten years ago in defiance of out-of-date industry practices.  

With support from Steinway & Sons Pasadena, Fatu has crafted a solo piano repertoire for the evening with the theme of reflection. The captivating redhead has a personal connection to each composition that she will perform, the stories of which will be shared during the recital as part of her “different approach to the classical music ethos.” Charismatic and gregarious by nature, Fatu loves to talk, which is seldom done on classical music stages. She thrives on interacting with audiences and improvises her between song monologues injected with humor. A passionate and physical performer, her goal is for audiences to leave her concerts inspired.

“One of the pieces that I’ll be performing represents that it is never too late to begin something great later in life. This program was carefully curated to represent my life’s journey - my joys, struggles and the pain I’ve faced and overcome. The music stirs reflection, what I represent and my life experiences. I am determined to break the standards and challenge my mind and body to its limits. My motto and the sentence I use to describe myself is ‘Limitless in the world of limitations,’” said Fatu, who moved to Los Angeles last year after her then five-year-old daughter, Sophie Fatu, stole the show when singing jazz standards on “America’s Got Talent,” “Ellen,” and “Little Big Shots.”   

Fatu earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Moscow State Conservatory. She has won a slate of international competitions and received multiple grants from major music foundations in the US, Russia, Ukraine and Armenia, and was added to the “Golden Book of Russian Federation” by the President. Fatu would like classical music to be a timeless artform without all the conservative restrictions like having to dress a certain way or play a certain way. Her Instagram (@victoriafatu) page is filled with bright photos of the magnetic beauty, both alluring and maternal, which are a far cry from the image typically associated with her genre.

“I want to be the first female classical pianist who is uncompromising when it comes to career and family. I can fully share what I have to give to the world creatively while loving and raising my children.”   

For more information about Fatu, please visit The May 22 performance begins promptly at 7:30pm after a VIP reception that starts at 6:30pm. Boston Court Pasadena is located at 70 N. Mentor Avenue in Pasadena, California.

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Gerry Gibbs’ Sonic Masterpiece Our People To be released on June 7, 2019 #jazz

“[Our People] sounds like the soundtrack to the heavens opening up the gates! My brother Gerry is always pushing the envelope and being unapologetically himself!” - Robert Glasper

“It’s a beautiful journey and a really enjoyable listen… very well thought of and fun!” -Thundercat

Whaling City Sound is pleased to announce the June 7th, 2019 release of Our People, the 12th album as a leader from renowned drummer/composer Gerry Gibbs. With the commercial success of Gibbs’ last four solo records (all of which reached #1 on the international jazz radio Jazz Week charts), Gibbs took some advice from legendary pianist Billy Childs who simply asked Gibbs “Why don’t you make your next album doing whatever you want?”  With this ideology in mind, Gibbs recorded an epic, genre-defying masterwork, unlike anything the multi-instrumentalist has ever produced before. The result is a magnificent sonic tapestry that pays tribute to our worlds’ many cultures and people over the course of 19 compositions.

Our People sounds like a full orchestra but is, in fact, the work of five gifted multi-instrumentalists, two of which are part of Gerry’s versatile Thrasher People band. Acting as the principal soloist on the album, Alex Collins plays several keyboard parts as well as the marimba, vibes, soprano and alto saxophone, acoustic guitar, accordion, lead and background vocals and percussion. Gianluca Renzi performs all bass and string parts as well as background vocals and miscellaneous percussion. Gerry himself recorded all percussion parts (drum set, congas, timpani) as well as auxiliary percussion, glockenspiel, electronic soundscapes, keyboards, and some vocals. In addition to composing and performing on Our People, Gibbs engineered and mixed the tracks himself. Rounding out the group are two very special guests: Mayu Saeki, who performs all woodwind parts, vocals and percussion, and Kyeshie Gibbs, who, alongside Saeki and Collins, contributes the majority of the vocal parts with some percussion.

Extraordinarily, these five artists are responsible for a total of 40 instruments on Our People. A true labor of love, Gibbs spent two consecutive 16-hour days composing and arranging all 19 compositions for different instruments, including an impressive vocal choir.

While Our People harkens back to the classic jazz-rock albums created by Chick Coreain the late 70’s, the influences present run the gamut.  “We all channeled all the people that we, collectively, have known from all over the world. We were influenced by everyone’s different ethnicities, heritages, life experiences, culture, and customs, as well as the time periods they came from,” said Gibbs. In short, Our People is a celebration of diversity, and the many influences that are reflected within the jazz idiom.

Our People pays homage to artists who have brought their own singular sound to the artform. Dedications include: 
  • “Scene 3 (Music from the Universe)” to Peter Erskine
  • “Scene 7 (Oh Yeah!)” to Pharaoh Sanders
  • “Scene 10” to Chick Corea, and named after him
  • “Scene 15 (Mike & Lenny)” to Mike Clark & Lenny White
  • “Scene 13 (Flying on The Wings of Fantasy)” to Wayne Shorter.
Additionally, one can’t help but hear the influence of iconic vibraphonist Roy Ayers in the serene vibes solo section in “Scene 3 (Music from the Universe),” and the funky HeadHunters influences on “Scene 6 (The Streets).”  The title track: “(Scene 4) Our People,” features a virtuosic vibraphone melody expertly performed by Collins.  Steeped in metric modulation and intense polyrhythmic interplay, the intensity cannot be understated. Kyeshie Gibb’s vocals impress, driving the finely tuned operatic harmonies over the rhythmic invention of the stellar rhythm section.  The amalgamation of styles and influences create a universally significant sound that seems to transcend genre.

While paying homage to an array of living legends of the art form, and exploring musical influences from around the globe, Gerry Gibbs’ new album makes an important statement about unity and the human condition and reminds the listener that we should view all people as “Our People.”

More about Gerry Gibbs
Gerry Gibbs is a Grammy-nominated drummer, producer, bandleader, composer & arranger. Gibbs has released 12 albums as a leader.  His first, back in 1996, Gerry Gibbs Sextet – The Thrasher featured saxophonist Ravi Coltrane with Quincy Jones as executive producer and his second release First Visit, with the Third Trio from The Sun, featured 7-time Grammy winning producer Greg Kurstin (producer of Adele’s megahit “Hello”). More recently Gibbs released Gerry Gibbs & The Thrasher Dream TrioWe’re Back and Live In Studio which featured jazz luminaries Ron Carter & Kenny Barron. These celebrated trio recordings featured many special guests including Cassandra Wilson and Roy Hargrove. In 2014 and 2015, all three trio recordings topped the National Jazz Radio Charts; spending 15 weeks between the three CD’s at #1 while The Thrasher Dream Trio received a Grammy nomination in 2014. In November 2015 The Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio once again returned to #1 on the Jazz Week Jazz Charts as the most played jazz CD across the country for several weeks.  After performing with this legendary trio, Gibbs created the Thrasher People band with the release of the double CD Weather or Not, that featured Gibbs’ acoustic jazz arrangements of Weather Report compositions as well as original material.  Regarding the group’s seminal project, Wayne Shorter, co-founder of the legendary Weather Report exclaimed, “Nice to hear graphically arranged material of Weather Report. Keep up with your creative mission!” Gibbs is excited to continue his creative mission with Thrasher People with the upcoming release of Our People.

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Monday, May 13, 2019

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - May 13, 2019 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - The Rippingtons - "Open Road" - (Peak Records/EOne Music
2 - 2 - Norman Brown - "The Highest Act of Love" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
3 - 3 - Keiko Matsui - "Echo" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
4 - 4 - Jazz Funk Soul - "Life And Times" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
5 - 6 - Kim Scott - "Free To Be" - (Innervision Records)
6 - 7 - Paul Hardcastle - "Hardcastle VIII" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythem
7 - 5 - Brendan Rothwell - "Sentiment" - (Independent)
8 - 8 - Eric Darius - "Breakin' Thru - (SagiDarius Music)
9 - 9 - Paul Brown - "Uptown Blues" - (Woodward Avenue)
10 - 13 - Jeff Ryan - "Embrace" - (Woodward Avenue)
11 - 15 - Euge Groove - "Groove On" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
12 - 24 - Gregory Goodloe - "Stylin'" - (Hip Jazz)
13 - 14 - Blake Aaron - "Color And Passion" - (Innervision)
14 - 10 - U-Nam - "Future Love" - (Skytown)
15 - 11 - Adam Hawley - "Double Vision" - (Kalimba)
16 - 37 - Jessy J - "Live At Yoshi's" - (Changi Records LLC)
17 - 19 - Rheza Kahn - "Next Train Home" - (Painted Media)
18 - 17 - Brian Bromberg - "Thicker Than Water" - (Mack Avenue Records)
19 - 32 - Brian Simpson - "Something About You" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
20 - 16 - Julian Vaughn - "Black Dynamite" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)

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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Esperanza Spalding's "12 Little Spells" Released on Concord Records - #jazz

Esperanza Spalding has released her “truly intoxicating” (NY Times) new project 12 Little Spells (Concord Records).  It is available in physical and download formats for the first time and arrives with an additional four new song-spells that were recently recorded.  For this album, Spalding conjured a series of song-spells inspired by parts of the body as an exploration of the healing powers of art.  A new music video, for “Lest We Forget,” has debuted. 

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She will also discuss the new project and her career with award-winning actor, playwright, and professor Anna Deavere Smith at The Strand Rare Book Room in New York City on Friday, May 17, at 7PM:
12 Little Spells was first penned by Spalding while on a writing retreat at a castle in Italy.  She recorded the album with her band in just a few days, and then released each spell with its own video on her Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages over the course of 12 days.  The videos have garnered a combined 4 million views and counting to date.  In November and December she unveiled a completely new live concert – with a customized stage design, gowns designed for her by Diego Montoya, choreography and projected images – limited to just 12 performances.
After 12 Little Spells was released on streaming services in October, it appeared on several Best Of 2018 lists including NY Times, Rolling Stone and Billboard, and received effusive praise.
Order 12 Little Spells, including packages that range from signed test pressings and USB drives, colored vinyl and more:
Watch a recent performance on the public radio show Live From Here
“Truly intoxicating”
New York Times / Top Albums and Best Jazz Albums of 2018
“[Spalding] is well over a decade into one of the most fruitful and strikingly original
careers in contemporary pop…the conceptual hook of 12 Little Spells only hints at
the radically inventive nature of the songs themselves”
Rolling Stone / Best Albums of 2018
Best Jazz of 2018 – Billboard
“Magic…pure imagination and also incredibly tactile” – NPR Music
“Spalding unearths a haunting, R&B-styled side” – Time Magazine
“‘12 Little Spells’ joins a long line of her goddess foremothers in their innovation” – Paste“The sound of a woman conjuring the contradictions, beauty, strangeness, and power
of her body is deeply moving and very possibly magic” – Boston Globe
“Pure magic” – Mother Jones
“Dazzling” – Essence
“Esperanza’s most appealing album yet” – Brooklyn Vegan
12 Little Spells track list including 4 new bonus spells:
  1. 12 Little Spells – Thoracic Spine
  2. To Tide Us Over – Mouth
  3. Til the Next Full – Eyes
  4. Thang – Hips
  5. Touch in Mine – Fingers
  6. The Longing Deep Down – Abdominal Portal
  7. You Have to Dance – Feet
  8. Now Know- Solar Portal
  9. All Limbs Are – Arms
  10. Readying to Rise – Legs
  11. Dancing the Animal – Mind/Brain
  12. With Others – Ears
  13. Lest We Forget – Blood
  14. How To – Hair
  15. Move Many – Joints
  16. Ways Together – Shoulders

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