Thursday, January 17, 2019

Tone Rogue Records Presents Christian Li & Mike Bono's "Visitors" #jazz

Tone Rogue Records is proud to release Visitors, the debut co-led album from piano/guitar duo Christian Li and Mike Bono. After almost a decade of working together - a period which included a collaboration on Bono's 2013 From Where You Are - the pair are now excited to release this joint album as a souvenir of the past and a blueprint for the future. Li and Bono bring this nine-track collection of originals to life with the help of Alex Hargreaves on violin, Chris Marion on strings, Dayna Stephens on saxophone, Jared Henderson on bass and Jimmy Macbride and Lee Fish on drums.

Recording an album of improvised music, in which communication and connection are vital to success, can be difficult in the artificial environment of a recording studio. Pran Bandi, who engineered the record, worked to make the musicians on this album feel as comfortable and natural as possible. The professionalism and profound musicality of the people involved, coupled with a rapport cultivated from years of working together, overrode these obstacles. The resulting product is a recording session that truly replicates the scintillating energy of a live performance.

The album opens with "Puddles" - a tune written by Bono, during a time in which he was exploring fast right hand finger style patterns. "I was trying to create fluid, cascading sounds with some unconventional harmonies and previously undiscovered finger-picking patterns. When I finally arrived at it, the melody I was hearing in my head made very clear where the harmony needed to go, thus paving the way for the rest of the song." The album moves on to "Little Rascals" - a true testament to the close musical rapport that has developed between this acclaimed pair. As Mike explains, "the free improvisation works because of how well we know each other as people, and how vivid and clear the imagery is when playing the song." Although Li and Bono have contrasting styles of writing, both have always felt at home on each other's compositions. Li explains how Bono's "Tango", with its thorny harmonies and serpentine melody, feels somehow familiar to him even though it represents his musical world - "There is a tremendous comfort in knowing, when playing Mike's compositions, that I am free to explore my own ideas and values as a musician without fear of causing (undue) harm." Li's "Space Invaders", another stand-out track from the album, was an ill-advised compositional experiment that the composer didn't expect to work. With the help of Bono and this talented ensemble, through their skilled improvisation, the imagery of the piece was brought into clearer focus than Li could have ever imagined.

Visitors displays the fortified musical bond between Li and Bono, and simultaneously presents a teaser to what's to come from this esteemed duo.

Mike Bono is a guitarist currently based in NYC. He has performed at venues in the city such as Carnegie Hall, Town Hall Theater, Birdland, The Blue Note, and many other clubs around town. Aside from playing in New York, Mike has played at several clubs and festivals throughout Europe and Africa. Over the last few years, Mike has had several opportunities to play with artists like Erykah Badu, Chris Cheek, Andra Day, Dayna Stephens, Julian Lage, Rich Perry, Natalie Cressman, and Michael Blume, amongst many others. He has one album out as a leader called " From Where You Are", a co-led album with Natalie Cressman called "Etchings in Amber", and is about to release a co-led album with pianist Christian Li. His latest endeavor in NYC has been subbing for the broadway musicals Dear Evan Hansen, Frozen, and Spongebob. In addition to playing and recording, Mike is on faculty at The Calhoun School, Trevor Day School, and teaches private lessons around the city, and over Skype. Mike is endorsed by ZT Amplifiers, Wire World Pro Audio Instrument Cables, Master Strap, and Source Audio.


Christian Li is a pianist, composer, and arranger based in New York City. Born in Montreal, Quebec and raised in the small town of Horseheads, NY, he began performing regularly at the age of twelve. He has since been mentored by a colorful cast of musicians, including Danilo Perez, Ben Street, Greg Osby, Hal Crook, Joe Lovano, Joanne Brackeen, John Patitucci, and Alain Mallet. Christian has appeared in such notable venues as The Newport Jazz Festival, The Panama Jazz Festival, Jazz En Comminges, The Monterey Jazz Festival, The Blue Note, Birdland, and the Detroit Jazz Festival. He has performed with several renowned artists, including Greg Osby, Dave Liebman, Chris Cheek, Rich Perry, Adam Cruz, Jason Palmer, and Chad Lefkowitz-Brown. Christian has also given workshops in Panama as a part of the Fundacion Danilo Perez as well as at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. He is also a visiting artist at the Calhoun School.

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Monday, January 14, 2019

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - January 14, 2019 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Vincent Ingala - "Personal Touch" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
2 - 2 - Paul Hardcastle - "Hardcastle VIII" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythem)
3 - 3 - Boney James - "Honestly" - (Concord Music Group)
4 - 4 - Lindsey Webster - "Love Inside" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
5 - 5 - Gerald Albright - "30" - (Bright)
6 - 7 - Kayla Waters - "Zephyr" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
7 - 6 - Jeff Lorber Fusion - "Impact" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
8 - 8 - Bob James - "Espresso" - (Evosound)
9 - 12 - Michael Lington - "Silver Lining" - (Copenhagen)
10 - 9 - Jazz Holdouts - "Summer Nights" - (Palm Beach Jazz)
11 - 19 - Jeff Ryan - "Up And Up" - (Woodward Avenue)
12 - 11 - The JT Project - "Backyard Brew" - (JT Project Records)
13 - 15 - Peabo Bryson - "Stand For Love" - (Perspective)
14 - 13 - Walter Beasley - "The Best Of Walter Beasley" - (Affable)
15 - 16 - Blake Aaron - "Color And Passion" - (Innervision)
16 - 14 - Phillip Saisse - "On The Level" - (Bandar Log Music)
17 - 17 - Greg Adams & East Bay Soul - "Conversation" - (Ripa Records)
18 - 22 - Ragan Whiteside - "Treblemaker" - (Randis Music)
19 - 18 - Dave Koz & Friends - "Summer Horns II: From A to Z - (Concord)
20 - 19 - Bob Baldwin - "Abbey Road & The Beatles - (City Sketches)

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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Saturday, January 12, 2019

From the Darkness Into the Light: On "Bright Idea" Greg Murphy has arrived #jazz

The jazz world is littered with the stories of brilliant but ultimately discarded geniuses. Greg Murphy pianist, swore his will not be among them. Though it easily could have been. And almost was.

Rewind. After several months of study with Ellis Marsalis in Chicago in the early '80s, and a couple years of performances under his belt, Murphy moved to New York to find his way as a performer. He hit the ground running, proving he could play with the best of them. But it didn't take long for the reality of a hardscrabble life in jazz to sink in. The city ground him down, sweeping him up in an underworld of homelessness and addiction. Years of struggle ensued.

Fast forward, now, to the resurrection.

Today, with his too-human episodes behind him, he is back and so is his brilliance. The promise he showed in Chicago and in his early years in New York has re-emerged. His new music, Bright Idea, is the sound of a major talent, a resilient, defiant iconoclast, finally ready for his time in the spotlight.

An epic trio recording made with Jeff "Tain" Watts and Eric Wheeler, Bright Idea comes together in a way that embraces all of the places Murphy has been, from his grinding, intensive study in New York, his time in New Orleans with Ellis Marsalis, his pop-funk days in Chicago, and his Latin jazz work with Raphael Cruz. It is a well and fully rounded musical adventure, rife with dimension and color, and his most fully realized recording yet. At this point in his career, we are happy to expect no less.

Recorded, produced and arranged by Murphy, Bright Idea features mainly originals, with a few exceptions including the opening Pharrell Williams tune "Happy." With Watts and Wheeler alongside, Murphy achieves an energetic vitality on the session, especially on tracks like the newly discovered Coltrane composition, "Untitled Original 11383, " a twelve-bar blues, and Joe Ford's "Earthlings." But throughout the album there is generosity, reciprocity and the desire to make memorable and triumphant music.

Bright Idea, Greg Murphy's second Whaling City Sound project and fifth overall, is pure and beautiful, his strongest statement as a leader and his most beautifully played collection of stories. Fully back and in complete command, Murphy can now swing with the best. He has come out from the dark side and into the light, now destined, even determined, to find his proper place in the pantheon of jazz piano.

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Monday, January 07, 2019

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - January 7, 2019 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 2 - Vincent Ingala - "Personal Touch" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
2 - 3 - Paul Hardcastle - "Hardcastle VIII" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythem)
3 - 5 - Boney James - "Honestly" - (Concord Music Group)
4 - 8 - Lindsey Webster - "Love Inside" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
5 - 11 - Gerald Albright - "30" - (Bright)
6 - 4 - Jeff Lorber Fusion - "Impact" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
7 - 7 - Kayla Waters - "Zephyr" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
8 - 1 - Bob James - "Espresso" - (Evosound)
9 - 9 - Jazz Holdouts - "Summer Nights" - (Palm Beach Jazz)
10 - 19 - Jeff Ryan - "Up And Up" - (Woodward Avenue)
11 - 21 - The JT Project - "Backyard Brew" - (JT Project Records)
12 - 12 - Michael Lington - "Silver Lining" - (Copenhagen)
13 - 15 - Walter Beasley - "The Best Of Walter Beasley" - (Affable)
14 - 13 - Phillip Saisse - "On The Level" - (Bandar Log Music)
15 - 17 - Peabo Bryson - "Stand For Love" - (Perspective)
16 - 14 - Blake Aaron - "Color And Passion" - (Innervision)
17 - 20 - Greg Adams & East Bay Soul - "Conversation" - (Ripa Records)
18 - 6 - Dave Koz & Friends - "Summer Horns II: From A to Z - (Concord)
19 - 18 - Bob Baldwin - "Abbey Road & The Beatles - (City Sketches)
20 - 23 - Nate White - "Up Close" - (Phat Bass)

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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Saturday, January 05, 2019

Saxophonist Isaac Edwards is inspired to “Begin Again” #jazz

The pop instrumental album mixing jazz, R&B, rock and gospel drops February 22 following the zesty
Latin-jazz single, “Christina Christina,” which goes to radio on January 14.

Isaac Edwards finally reached a point in his life when he decided that he simply had to overcome past regrets in order to pursue his dream. A newly married lawyer who litigated hundreds of cases by day during the four years he spent his nights and weekends writing, producing and recording his new album, the saxophonist will take a major step towards realizing his dream when “Begin Again” drops on February 22 on the Songs In My Pocket Music label. The disc mixed by hit saxman Darren Rahn will be preceded by the radio single, “Christina Christina,” an exotic Latin-tinged seduction that goes for radio adds on January 14.

Armed with a bachelor’s degree in saxophone and a master’s degree in jazz after studying alongside widely-accomplished saxophonists Eric Marienthal and Jeff Clayton, Edwards has flirted with being a jazz musician by releasing a couple of albums in the early 2000s. The gospel-jazz outing “Here” (2002) was nominated for a Vibe Award, the Canadian equivalent to the Dove Awards. Two years later, his sophomore release, “I’m On My Way,” featured a collaboration with Grammy-winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum. Neither sets were promoted at radio as Edwards’ focus was on holding down his high-stress law position. But the fire inside never dimmed and in 2014, he wrote, recorded and released the new album’s title track as a single, earning most added honors at Billboard when it was serviced to radio. The theme of the song began Edwards’ creative journey that will only be complete when the album drops.            

“This album is about starting over and second chances. Being a jazz artist is something I've dreamed about ever since I was a teenager. I've had some successes along the way and had some regrets as well. With this record, I'm finally putting those regrets in the rear-view mirror. My hope is that listeners will feel inspired to leave the past in the past and renew their hope for a brighter future. Just like the dawn of a new day, each moment in our lives is another chance to do that thing we've been dreaming of doing. The thing that keeps us up at night, that we spend our days dreaming about while we are at work. The fire that can't be quenched; the drive we have deep inside. I believe that is what we need to be pursuing. That's what this record is for me: it's evidence that it's never too late to start over, try something new or become more today than we were yesterday,” said the San Diego-based Edwards, who has opened for multiple Grammy-winning Christian pop icons Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith.     

“Begin Again” is an amalgam of sounds and contemporary styles. With jazz and pop instrumentals serving as the foundation of the ten tracker, Edwards’ palette offers vibrant shades of R&B, Latin, gospel and rock. The sessions were tracked with live drums, bass, guitar, piano, violin, trumpet, trombone, clarinet and flute. In addition to showcasing his lyrical sax work and gift for crafting infectious melodies, Edwards added keyboards, synth and drum programming. A ten-time Grammy winner as a member of Take 6Joel Kibble graces the outing with his voice in a supporting role on “Love Will Find A Way” and as the lovestruck protagonist on the urban adult contemporary romancer “Just Like the First Time.” In the company of nine Edwards originals is an instrumental reading of Monica’s hit, “Angel Of Mine,” that bodes to be a chart-topper again in its new form. While most of the album is soulful midtempo grooves and energizing exercises, “Qui Vivra Verra” stands out in striking contrast for its stark beauty and poignant simplicity - a melancholy sax, piano and violin selection about the moment you realize a relationship has no future. 
“This record is the most honest work I've created and recorded. I drew a lot from my own personal experiences. I wrote from what was within my heart. And I've long been acutely aware of the burning drive I've had to get this record out,” Edwards said.

That day finally arrives next month. For more information, please visit

“Begin Again” contains the following songs:

“Christina Christina”
“Begin Again”
“Lucky Day”
“Angel of Mine”
“Qui Vivra Verra”
“Love Will Find A Way”
“Off A Riff”
“Just Like the First Time”

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Wednesday, January 02, 2019


The global recorded music industry will turn over $18.9bn in 2018, with streaming making up 50.8% ($9.6bn) of the total.
That’s according to Midia Research, which today (December 18) published its projected 2018 figures, based on a combination of major label revenue reports to date, plus stats from industry organizations and confidential data from DIY distribution platforms.
According to these numbers, the recorded music business’s $18.9bn turnover this year will represent $1.4bn annual growth across all formats – the same monetary increase seen in the prior year.
The driver for that growth, easily offsetting download and physical declines, is, of course, streaming; according to Midia, the $9.6bn contribution from the likes of Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube this year is up $2.2bn on last year – which is, again, up by the same annual figure (+$2.2bn) as 2017 was on 2016.
Midia Managing Director Mark Mulligan told MBW that he expected streaming to once again add $2bn to global recorded music revenues in 2019, but that the industry should prepare for streaming income growth in its biggest market, the United States, to decelerate.
“In order to ensure this [$2bn] level of growth is delivered, newer streaming markets – especially Germany, Japan, Brazil and Mexico – will need to deliver, picking up the slack as big mature markets like the US and UK begin to slow,” he said.
“Lower tier emerging markets like India, Indonesia and MENA will take a lot longer to deliver, and it won’t be until midway through the next decade that we really begin to feel the revenue contribution from these markets – though free user numbers will come more easily.”

Mulligan’s comments come after Spotify’s Q3 performance showed the company enjoying healthy growth in Europe, the United States and Latin America, but struggling to keep up this pace in other markets where it is active, including Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam and South Africa.
In the six months to end of September this year, Spotify added just 2.3m users and 1.1m subscribers in all regions outside the EU, US and Latin America.
Across Europe, North America and Latin America, in the same period, Spotify added 18.7m users and 10.9m subscribers.

Midia’s data today shows that revenue booked by directly-distributed independent artists in 2018 is set to rise 35% on 2017.
The company qualifies: ‘It’s worth noting that only a portion of Artists Direct revenue is measured by the IFPI. Categories such as at-gig CD sales aren’t captured by either the labels or measurement companies that national trade associations depend upon to measure the market. So, expect the IFPI’s global recorded music total to come in closer to $18.6 billion.’
Major labels, according to Midia, will claim 69% of 2018’s $18.9bn haul, though this number includes revenue derived from copyrights owned by independent entities and distributed by Universal, Sony or Warner.
Gods Plan by Drake (pictured) is the biggest streaming hit released on Spotify this year, according to Kworb, with more than 1.1bn streams since arriving in January.Music Business Worldwide
Source: musicbusiness worldwide

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Monday, December 31, 2018

Strunz & Farah’s new studio recording, Tales of Two Guitars #jazz

Strunz & Farah’s new studio recording, Tales of Two Guitars, is the latest chapter in the continuing story of the two virtuoso guitarists who have created an original and enduring body of guitar music. Rhythmic and colorful, and recorded with 11 guest musicians, Tales is a musical storybook of a fully evolved style of playing and composing which has been highly influential among guitarists everywhere. The new recording has 13 original pieces, full of contrasts both compositionally and instrumentally, ranging from rhythmic to romantic to jazz, incorporating in varying degrees their classic mix of Latin, Middle Eastern and Jazz influences.

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