Friday, April 28, 2017

Introducing Stokley set for June 23, 2017 release on Concord Records #jazz

After over two decades as the lead vocalist for the incomparable hit-making R&B band Mint Condition, singer and two-time GRAMMY Award nominee Stokley charters a new course with his breathtaking debut solo album Introducing Stokley, set for release on June 23, 2017 via Concord Records. Featuring guest appearances by the likes of GRAMMY-winning jazz pianist Robert Glasper and Estelle as well as some production from multi-platinum duo Carvin Haggins & Ivan Barias, Introducing Stokley is a refreshing artistic statement rooted in the soul music tradition from one of R&B’s most remarkable voices.
 
Hailing from the Minnesota twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Stokley was reared in a family that fostered a deep devotion to musical and cultural expression. Showing an affinity for the drums early on, he began seeking out opportunities in the fertile musical landscape of his environment. Coming of age at the peak of Minneapolis’ intense affair with the pop and R&B charts, the city was a virtual hotbed of talent in which Stokley would be groomed for imminent, monumental success. Surrounded by acts like the Time, the Jets and the omnipresent Prince and the Revolution, he began earning his stripes as a drummer and vocalist.
 
In the mid-1980s, Stokley became a founding member of what was the genesis of Mint Condition. After several years of gigs and paid dues, a stroke of serendipity saw the band cross paths with that of lauded multiplatinum producers and hometown heroes Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. Fresh off the success of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, the two former members of the Time had just inked a deal with A&M Records to distribute their own label, Perspective Records. Jam & Lewis recruited Mint Condition to their label’s roster and released their debut album Meant to Be Mint in 1991.
 
The group soon found success in their now-classic single “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes).” The song broke through on the pop and R&B charts, reaching #6 on the Billboard 100 and #3 on the Billboard R&B chart and was eventually certified gold. In 1993, the band released its sophomore effort From the Mint Factory. The lead single “U Send Me Swingin’” hit #2 on the Billboard R&B chart and was a testament to the group’s intrinsic ability to craft sublime songs that crystalized contemporary R&B sensibilities with a live band aesthetic.
 
Continuing their winning streak, Mint Condition released Definition of a Band three years later. The album contained the Billboard Top 40 hit “What Kind of Man Would I Be,” which was also certified gold. Definition of a Band would also become the group’s first gold-certified album. Mint Condition signed with Elektra Records and released their fourth effort, Life’s Aquarium. The album produced yet another Billboard Top 40 hit for the group in the form of “If You Love Me.”
 
Following Life’s Aquarium, Mint Condition made the collective decision to continue on their journey by taking the reins of their career and young legacy by independently releasing subsequent efforts, the first of which being Livin’ the Luxury Brown, unveiled in 2005. As the group’s first self-released foray, the album reached #54 on the Billboard 200, #11 on the Billboard R&B chart, was #1 on Billboard’s Top Independent Albums chart and was nominated for a Soul Train Music Award. Building on their newfound independent success, the group followed up with E-Life (2008), 7 (2011) and Music at the Speed of Life (2012). In 2017, Healing Season (2016) was GRAMMY-nominated for Best R&B Album.
 
Apart from his band dynamic, Stokley has been an in-demand session drummer and vocalist in the industry for quite some time, performing on recordings by artists such as Elton John, New Edition, Usher and the late Prince. Over the years, Stokley also began to expand his repertoire as a producer and featured vocalist. In 2011, Stokley co-produced and dueted with R&B recording artist Kelly Price on the hit “Not My Daddy.” The song reached #22 on the Billboard R&B chart and received two GRAMMY nominations in the categories of Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song. The following year, Stokley lent his vocals to a cover of the 2008 Mint Condition song “Why Do We Try” featured on Robert Glasper Experiment’s GRAMMY-winning Black Radio album.
 
Stokley also built bridges within the hip-hop community, appearing on projects by the likes of A Tribe Called Quest founding member Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Tech N9ne and Brother Ali. Fortifying his relationship with that community, he also co-produced several tracks on Maybach Music Group recording artist Wale’s critically acclaimed 2013 album The Gifted as well as his 2015 album The Album About Nothing—both of which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Stokley also fortified his ties to the jazz community with guest features on albums such as Brian Culbertson’s 2012 Verve Records release Dreams and the Billboard #1 best-selling Contemporary Jazz Record of 2015 by saxophonist Boney James entitled futuresoul.
 
And while Stokley was content with his band of brothers in Mint Condition as well as his outside collaborative endeavors, he realized that the time had come for him to embark on a musical voyage in a vessel meant for him to steer alone. Introducing Stokley finds the singer stepping into the spotlight, a vibrant portrait of an artist on a quest to cultivate a creative statement as an individual. The album offers listeners a fresh perspective of a dynamic voice that has resonated with core fans around the world for over two decades. “I’ve been gearing up for a minute,” he says. “My thirst has been building. And I’ve been moving at a great pace with Mint Condition. But I just want to take some time to move differently right now. I think one should experience everything life has to offer. And if you have a gift, and most of all the ambition, you should do it.”
 
Though he’d amassed several albums worth of material over the years, he knew his debut had to be special and was steadfast in pursuit of the goal to ensure the project was founded on a clean slate. “I got tired of just hearing my own voice,” says Stokley. “I didn’t want to feel too isolated. I wanted different textures. So I invited people to come in.” To that effect, he enlisted the efforts of Carvin Haggins & Ivan Barias. Responsible for the success and hits behind such multi-platinum acts as Musiq, Jill Scott, Ledesi and Faith Evans, the Philadelphia-based duo contribute to the fabric of Introducing Stokley in a way that superbly compliments Stokley’s mellifluous vocal style. “They’re like a young, East Coast Jimmy & Terry,” says Stokley. “They know the industry pretty well and also have kept their finger on the pulse of what’s happening musically over the years.”
 
Introducing Stokley also includes co-writing contributions from Sam Dew and Los Angeles-based songwriting group the A Team. “Putting all these different energies,” he reflects. “Collaboration is a great thing. It’s how you make the world work. I’m a musician at heart, so I wanted to pick people that are just incredible.”
 
The album’s groove-laden lead single “Level” finds Stokley wielding his mighty pen as a songwriter, weaving lyrics of affirmation over a propulsive rhythm guitar-driven track produced by Stokley. “We all seek to find someone or something that fits just right for us,” he says. “Everybody wants something that fits with them comfortably. Something on their level.”
 
The Haggins & Barias-produced “Organic” is a take on the human compulsion for acceptance and how individuality can be compromised in the pursuit. “I hear a lot of women particularly speaking about the concept of fitting in, with regard to styles, personalities,” he muses. “A lot of women think that’s what makes them more appealing, when it was actually better when they were just being themselves.” The singer notes that the title “Organic” is also a nod to his newly vegan lifestyle.
 
Partially inspired by current sociopolitical events and the deliberateness and critical commentary of Marvin Gaye’s landmark 1971 hit “What’s Going On,” “We/Me” finds Stokley reverberating with the times in an earnest yet piercing take on various sociopolitical state of affairs buoyed by undertones of the Motown sound. “It’s a social statement that takes a look at what’s going on around the world,” he says of the song. “I didn’t want to be preachy, but I knew I had to say something. When you’re taking in all this energy, you have to let it out somehow.”
 
“Art in Motion” (featuring Robert Glasper) is a wondrous, sonic hybrid of eras and production techniques. “I came up during a time when it was just about analog,” he says. “But I also love digital. I love new technology and new sounds. So here, I’m bridging a gap between these two worlds. The song has electronic elements as well as analog.”
 
Shifting gears, the dancehall-flavored, Stokley-produced “Wheels Up” exudes maximum island vibes and features Jamaican singer Omi (of the 2011 triple-platinum hit “Cheerleader”). “I grew up playing steel pan drums in a lot of reggae bands,” Stokley mentions. “So this is my ode to West Indian culture.” Apart from its festive flare, the song also extols the virtues of holding fast to one’s passion in life. “It’s about going for it,” he says. “Your dreams; your goals. We’ve only got one life. So do whatever it is that you were put here to do.”
 
It has been said that good things come to those who wait. Fans have been patiently biding their time in hopes of a solo project from the lead vocalist of one of the most important R&B bands of the past several decades. With the bowing of Introducing Stokley it’s safe to say the wait is over. “Artistically, I wanted to say something different and take it a few degrees away from what I’ve done in the past,” contemplates Stokley. “Obviously some of it is going to be familiar, because of my voice. I’ve just expanded my sensibilities a bit more. Introducing Stokley is a look at the past and the future. The fresh and the familiar.”

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Plugged In: Saxophonist Elan Trotman adds EDM beats to his Caribbean-jazz fusion #jazz

The “Electro Sax” album is released as the tropical “Island Gal’” prepares to charm radio.
Saxophonist Elan Trotman is unwavering in his committed to wave the flag high for Caribbean music, but after releasing six soul-jazz albums and more than ten chart-topping singles that made him a permanent fixture on radio playlists, the Barbados native is “shaking it up” by going electronic on “Electro Sax,” his seventh outing which was released last Friday (April 21) by Island Muzik Productions.
Seeking a “hip radio sound that will reach beyond the masses,” Trotman assembled a creative team of up-and-coming producers – Spardakis, P-Nut, Dr. O and Da Troof - who he met at Boston’s esteemed Berklee College of Music and tasked them with putting a fresh, modern twist on the eleven new tracks that he wrote for the collection. With electronic elements evident in the production of Trotman’s tenor and soprano sax and the adventurous EDM sonicscapes, the result is an energizing, dance-happy mix of impromptu jazz sax licks, kinetic dance beats and festive Caribbean rhythms. Adding nuances to the audacious alchemy are guitarists Wayne Jones, Freddie Fox and JJ Sansavarino, and steel pan player Kareem Thompson. The first single set to seduce radio is the reggae-infused “Island Gal’,” which spotlights Trotman on soprano sax on the cut he describes as having “a sexy vibe to it.” Prince fans will appreciate the balladic tribute “Purple Emotion” that closes the set. The session’s lone cover is a tropical, dance hall take of Walk The Moon’s infectious pop smash “Shut Up and Dance.”  
“’Electro Sax’ is a true representation of where I am at in my career. It’s modern sounding with prominent hints of the island. It’s also about branching out, reaching out by making good music for the masses. It’ll definitely ruffle feathers, but that is part of being an artist - pushing boundaries and perhaps establishing new ones,” said Trotman. “The ‘tropicality’ elements are part of who I am and I’m sticking with it. It’ll always be part of my sound and I believe in it. It is part of my brand and it’s authentic to my (Barbadian) roots.”
Trotman showcases and shares the culture of his homeland at his annual Barbados Jazz Excursion, slated to take place on the Caribbean island for the fourth time in October over Columbus Day Weekend (October 6-9, 2017). The saxman performs and hosts the music festival and golf tournament that benefits his nonprofit Never Lose Your Drive Foundation and the Head Start Music Program in Barbados. Slated to perform this year are R&B and contemporary jazz mainstays Will Downing, Norman Brown, Marion Meadows, Brian Simpson, Jeanette Harris and Julian Vaughn as well as the Queen of Soca, Alison Hinds.
   
Earning a full scholarship at Berklee College of Music from the government of Barbados, Trotman has lived in Boston ever since. Named the Jazz Artist of the Year on multiple occasions by the New England Urban Music Awards and the Barbados Music Awards, he debuted as a solo artist in 2009 with “This Time Around.” Subsequent albums featured collaborations with Grammy winners Kirk Whalum, Terri Lyne Carrington and Paul Brown as well as Downing, Peter White, Jeff Lorber, Cindy Bradley, Tony Terry and Simpson. Trotman has also guested on Billboard No. 1 hits by Meadows, Simpson, Vaughn, Greg Manning and Cal Harris. He’s a popular draw on the festival and club circuit. For more information, please visit www.ElanTrotman.com.
The songs on “Electro Sax” are:
“Happy Place”
“Electro Sax”
“Barbados Breeze”
“Island Gal’”
“Chill Cat”
“Shut Up and Dance”
“Up In The Clouds”
“orutrA”
“No Need For Trippin’”
“120 BPM”
“Move!”
“Purple Emotion”

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Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - April 24, 2017 #jazz


TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Nathan East - "Reverence" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group)
2 - 2 - Rick Braun - "Around The Horn" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
3 - 4 - Norman Brown - "Let It Go" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
4 - 6 - Marc Antoine - "Laguna Beach" - (Woodward Avenue)
5 - 3 - Paul Brown - "One Way Back" - (Woodward Avenue)
6 - 9 - Richard Elliot - "Summer Madness" - (Heads Up/Concord)
7 - 5 - Gerald Albright - "G" - (Bright)
8 - 8 - Lindsey Webster - "Back To Your Heart" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
9 - 7 - Jeff Lorber Fusion - "Prototype" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
10 - 11 - Brian Culbertson - "Funk!" - (BCM Entertainment)
11 - 10 - Steve Watson - "Playtime" - (WatsonWood)
12 - 20 - John Novello - "Ivory Soul" - (529 Music)
13 - 17 - Peet Project - "Rosy Cheeks" - (Beagle Beat Records)
14 - 14 - Michael Lington - "Second Nature" - (Copenhagen Music)
15 - 12 - Lawson Rollins - "3 Minutes To Midnight" - (Infinita Records)
16 - 13 - Kayla Waters - "Apogee" - (Independent)
17 - 18 - Threestyle - "Road To Monterey" - (Welovemusic Records)
18 - 26 - Cindy Bradley - "Natural" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
19 - 21 - Darren Rahn - "Sonic Boom" - (Woodward Avenue Records)
20 - 15 - Reza Khan - "Wind Dance" - (Painted Media)


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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Monday, April 17, 2017

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - April 17, 2017 #jazz


TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Nathan East - "Reverence" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group)
2 - 2 - Rick Braun - "Around The Horn" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
3 - 3 - Paul Brown - "One Way Back" - (Woodward Avenue)
4 - 7 - Norman Brown - "Let It Go" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
5 - 4 - Gerald Albright - "G" - (Bright)
6 - 5 - Marc Antoine - "Laguna Beach" - (Woodward Avenue)
7 - 19 - Jeff Lorber Fusion - "Prototype" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
8 - 6 - Lindsey Webster - "Back To Your Heart" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
9 - 11 - Richard Elliot - "Summer Madness" - (Heads Up/Concord)
10 - 8 - Steve Watson - "Playtime" - (WatsonWood)
11 - 9 - Brian Culbertson - "Funk!" - (BCM Entertainment)
12 - 10 - Lawson Rollins - "3 Minutes To Midnight" - (Infinita Records)
13 - 16 - Kayla Waters - "Apogee" - (Independent)
14 - 12 - Michael Lington - "Second Nature" - (Copenhagen Music)
15 - 13 - Reza Khan - "Wind Dance" - (Painted Media)
16 - 15 - Peter White - "Groovin' - (Heads Up/Concord)
17 - 23 - Peet Project - "Rosy Cheeks" - (Beagle Beat Records)
18 - 14 - Threestyle - "Road To Monterey" - (Welovemusic Records)
19 - 24 - Greg Manning - "Sugar & Spice" - (Kalimba)
20 - 18 - John Novello - "Ivory Soul" - (529 Music)


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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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Guitarist Blake Aaron is Sirius about making it a “VIVID” spring #jazz

 The vivacious third single from the forthcoming “Color and Passion” album goes for radio adds on April 24.
 
Guitarist Blake Aaron has been featured multiple times on SiriusXM over the past week as part of Jazz Appreciation Month just as his vibrant new single, “VIVID,” is preparing to bloom brightly. The third single issued in advance of his upcoming “Color and Passion” album, Aaron wrote and produced the multihued bouquet of invigorating instrumental dance music, power pop horns and glossy R&B grooves that surround fragrant stems of fresh electric jazz guitar flourishes. On the way to radio stations now with an April 24 playlist add date, the perfectly-timed spring fling should happily satiate listeners until Blake’s sixth album streets this fall on Innervision Records.
 
Last Thursday, the national satellite radio broadcaster’s Watercolors aired a live concert performance by Aaron recorded at the SiriusXM studios in Washington, DC. On Sunday, the guitarist who hosted his own nationally syndicated radio show for seven years hung out on the “Dave Koz Lounge” with the affable sax sensation. This week, Aaron served as guest DJ on Tuesday and although he took command of the air waves, he didn’t sneak in the new single before the official add date.
 
“No, not yet,” he chuckled. “’VIVID’ is my feel good track of the spring/summer. With real Earth, Wind & Fire-style horns and tons of energetic, bright melodic hooks, I am proud to say that this is one of my most infectious grooves and most intense productions I've done to date. Vivid is how I try to live my life and it is how I try to teach my kids to live their lives. Be uniquely you - boldly and with passion. Be you - vividly.”     
   
Aaron’s last collection, 2015’s “Soul Stories,” spawned five Billboard Top 10 singles. “Color and Passion” aims to continue his run of chart success with a chromatic and intense fusion of sounds and styles – funk, R&B, soul, jazz, rock, blues and Latin music. While the first three singles - “Summer Ride,” “Godfather Brown” and “VIVID” - are upbeat and full of life, the disc will also include intimate ballads allowing Aaron to showcase his lyrically expressive guitar on downtempo numbers.     
 
Aaron recently plied his soulful fretwork on three songs for urban-jazz chart-topper Najee’s forthcoming set. The in-demand session player, sideman, producer and songwriter will celebrate his birthday with an April 29 concert at Southern California hotspot Spaghettini in Seal Beach where he will be joined by two-time Grammy winner Bill Champlin, a singer-songwriter and keyboardist who spent 28 years as a member of the legendary band Chicago. Aaron will hit the road Memorial Day Weekend for performances at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival in Florida (May 26), St. James Live! in Atlanta, GA on a bill shared with saxophonist Tom Braxton and vocalist Kevin Whalum (May 27), and a headline date with Braxton at The King Center in Melbourne, FL (May 28).   

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - April 10, 2017 #jazz


TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Nathan East - "Reverence" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group)
2 - 2 - Rick Braun - "Around The Horn" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
3 - 3 - Paul Brown - "One Way Back" - (Woodward Avenue)
4 - 5 - Gerald Albright - "G" - (Bright)
5 - 4 - Marc Antoine - "Laguna Beach" - (Woodward Avenue)
6 - 7 - Lindsey Webster - "Back To Your Heart" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
7 - 24 - Norman Brown - "Let It Go" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
8 - 6 - Steve Watson - "Playtime" - (WatsonWood)
9 - 10 - Brian Culbertson - "Funk!" - (BCM Entertainment)
10 - 8 - Lawson Rollins - "3 Minutes To Midnight" - (Infinita Records)
11 - 14 - Richard Elliot - "Summer Madness" - (Heads Up/Concord)
12 - 12 - Michael Lington - "Second Nature" - (Copenhagen Music)
13 - 13 - Reza Khan - "Wind Dance" - (Painted Media)
14 - 11 - Threestyle - "Road To Monterey" - (Welovemusic Records)
15 - 15 - Peter White - "Groovin' - (Heads Up/Concord)
16 - 9 - Kayla Waters - "Apogee" - (Independent)
17 - 18 - Darren Rahn - "Sonic Boom" - (Woodward Avenue Records)
18 - 16 - John Novello - "Ivory Soul" - (529 Music)
19 - 17 - Jeff Lorber Fusion - "Prototype" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
20 - 19 - Doc Powell - "This Is Soul" - (DPR Music)


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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Thursday, April 06, 2017

Kevin Eubanks - "East West Time Line" - Mack Avenue April 7th - #jazz


Kevin Eubanks Releases East West Time Line Dave Holland, Orrin Evans, Bill Pierce, Marvin "Smitty" Smith, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Nicholas Payton
Mino Cinelu and Rene Camacho


Since his 18-year tenure as guitarist and music director of TV's "The Tonight Show" Band ended in 2010, Philadelphia-born guitarist, composer Kevin Eubanks has been on a creative roll. On East West Time Line, Eubanks explores the chemistry he maintains with musicians on both coasts. And once again, his distinctive fingerstyle approach to the instrument is in the service of tunes that run the stylist gamut from urgent swingers to introspective ballads to Latin-tinged numbers and some get-down Philly funk. 
Joining Eubanks on this stellar outing are longtime collaborator and former Berklee College of Music schoolmate, drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith, who fuels the West Coast outfit alongside seasoned session bassist Rene Camacho, percussionist Mino Cinelu and saxophonist Bill Pierce. Smith's East Coast counterpart on this bi-coastal session is the irrepressibly swinging Jeff "Tain" Watts, a force of nature on the kit who combines with bassist Dave Holland, Philadelphia-based pianist Orrin Evans and New York trumpeter Nicholas Payton for a potent lineup. Together these great musicians bring out the best in Eubanks' six-string prowess and ignite his searching instincts throughout the sessions in Los Angeles and New York.
"Of course, we all came up through New York," says the Philly guitarist who broke in with Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers during the early '80s. "But we also got the benefits of seeing the East Coast down and dirty and Hollywood down and dirty too. We combined both vibes on this recording-the kind of Latin vibe of Los Angeles and the straight-up swinging vibe of New York. 

The album kicks off with "Time Line," an urgent swinger paced by Holland's signature walking groove and Watts' inimitable polyrhythmic burn. Eubanks digs in with fingers on strings in his trademark percussive attack, alternately doubling the baselines and dealing in Wes-style octaves on his solo. Payton also turns in a trumpet solo that bristles with energy and "Tain" is turned loose on the kit at the tag. "There's something a little Philly about that groove. I mean, it's a long way from when I was playing in the neighborhood bands, but basically that's a little Philly vibe in there.

Shifting gears, the East Coast crew next settles into the gentle "Watercolors," which has Payton delivering a beautifully lyrical solo on this melodic track. "This was the first time that I ever played with Nick before," says Eubanks. "I met him once or twice in passing on the road but we've been communicating on Twitter recently and at some point Nick said, 'Man, one day we gotta hit.' That's really how this connection came about. In the studio I told him, 'If you hear it, man, play it! Just feel free.'"  

The more open-ended "Something About Nothing," which closes out the East Coast's grouping, has the whole ensemble exploring collectively with Evans on Rhodes, Eubanks on electric guitar and Payton turning in another exhilarating trumpet solo. "I think the title really describes the song," says the guitarist. "We're dealing with nothing but we're dealing with something. There's the bass line, and the chords are circular so you're free to go wherever you want." 

The West Coast crew opens with a mambo-flavored arrangement of Duke Ellington's "Take The Coltrane." Eubanks digs in with his typically percussive attack on top of the clavé-fueled groove. Eubanks next extrapolates on a motif from Chick Corea's "Captain Señor Mouse," which has him doubling on steel string guitar and bass, accompanied only by Mino Cinelu on percussion and Marvin "Smitty" Smith on drums.

The ensemble's take on Kevin's uncle, Ray Bryant's "Cubano Chant," has the guitarist alternating between acoustic and electric while Bill Pierce supplies a soaring soprano sax solo. The guitarist explains his directive to the musicians on this popular Afro-Cuban flavored number. "I just said, 'Let's just get compassionate on this...let's breathe on this and let it float so it's not all stick it and quit it.' The influence of Latin jazz is undeniable when you're on the West Coast long enough, and I wanted to reflect that in this session."

Following the familiar soprano sax intro on Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," the band leaps into a swinging rendition of that '60s anthem that has Camacho walking persuasively and Eubanks alternately comping pianistically and soloing with Wes Montgomery styled octaves. Smitty's interactive, swinging pulse fuels this uptempo treatment while Pierce explores the melodic theme before taking off on another flowing soprano sax solo. "The idea was to keep it brief, just kind of making a statement of, 'What IS going on?,' given the current social-political climate. And our version just had an uplifting brightness to it."

Overall, Eubanks seems exceedingly pleased with the copacetic nature of his first bi-coastal recording. "I think because I'm so familiar with all the musicians and we played together over the years in different settings, on different tours, that it helped the music quite a bit. There's something that goes with friendship, knowing everybody's journey to a large extent, that really enhances the communication between the players on a session. It's that thing where everybody's pulling for each other to do well and trying to make each other sound better, and you keep your sorry-ass ego out of it. We all have egos, we're human beings and everything, but through the love of the music and wanting the best, good things happen. It's really such a wonderful kind of democracy that you don't see in other things. I think jazz music is the most perfect example of democracy in action."

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