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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Acoustic Alchemy - "American/English"

Acoustic AlchemyThe veteran smooth jazz band Acoustic Alchemy continues its focus on a more organic, acoustical sound as displayed on the band’s last album, Radio Contact. This is the band’s fourth album without guitarist Nick Webb, who died seven years ago, and now the chemistry between original member Greg Carmichael and the other guitar player – Miles Gilderdale – is reaching its peak. Webb brought the band a classical guitar sensibility that still sounds fresh today, and Gilderdale offers a blues and soul vibe and even does some scatting (he was a singer in a rock band in an earlier life), as he shows on the funky “Say Yeah.”

The title of Acoustic Alchemy’s 13th album refers to its roots as a British band that has found its niche in America. Old fans will find much to enjoy on this new CD, as the interplay between the nylon and string guitars – the band’s trademark – sounds amazingly fresh in songs such as the ballad “Cherry Hill” and “The Crossing.” These two tracks, and some others, retain the familiar soft touch that Acoustic Alchemy has long been known for.

Having said that, there is still room for advancement and new ideas, shown on “Lilac Lane,” which offers a blistering electric guitar solo and a steady, chill music-like tempo. Likewise, “So Kylie,” which makes reference to Australian dance-pop queen Kylie Minogue, is a late-night dance number with several electronica elements and an irresistible “nah-nah-nah-nah” chorus. “Trinity,” a reggae number, recalls the band’s “Jamaica Heartbeat” from the classic Back on the Case CD from 1991. Elsewhere, the band keeps things fresh with different styles – the feel-good Motown groove of “The Detroit Shuffle,” the Steely Dan-wink of “She Speaks American English,” and the jazzy swing of “The 14 Carrot Café,” a song named after a Seattle restaurant the band frequents when visiting the Pacific Northwest.

Whether listening in England or America, fans will certainly have plenty to cheer for on this latest effort by one of smooth jazz’s best-loved bands.
Smooth grade: A
From Brian Soergel []

Monday, March 28, 2005

Internet piracy heads to the Supreme Court

"Apple Computer has spent a couple of years working its way to 300 million songs sold" for its iPod portable music player, said Eric Garland, CEO of file-sharing tracker BigChampagne. "We think, very conservatively, that 750 million unauthorized or free songs are swapped online every month."

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Koz & Friends Plan 'Smooth Summer' Tour

Dave KozFor the fourth year in a row, several contemporary jazz artists will join forces under the Dave Koz & Friends banner for the latest edition of the A Smooth Summer Night tour. Joining the saxophonist will be vocalist Jeffrey Osborne, guitarist Marc Antoine and multi-instrumentalist Praful.

Opening June 10 in Reading, Pa., the tour will take in 25 cities and close Aug. 21 in Hollywood. At deadline, 19 shows were confirmed, with more to be added.

In addition to hosting the morning drive shift on KTWV ("The Wave") Los Angeles and a weekly nationally syndicated smooth jazz radio show, Koz is in the midst of completing two albums. The first is a new Capitol set with producer Phil Ramone (Rod Stewart, Elton John) that will be the follow-up to 2003's "Saxophonic." The album bowed at No. 2 on Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart, where it is No. 19 in its 76th week on the list.

The other disc will be Koz's second lullaby album, "Golden Slumbers II: A Father's Love." Due April 26, the set will be released through the independent label he co-founded, Rendezvous Entertainment.

Beyond the summer tour, Koz is also organizing the inaugural Dave Koz & Friends at Sea cruise. Sailing on Holland America Line m/s Oosterdam from San Diego to the Mexican Riviera, the trip will boast performances by Patti Austin, David Benoit, Chris Botti, Jonathan Butler, George Duke, Jeff Golub, Wayman Tisdale and Kirk Whalum, as well as Antoine, Osborne and Praful. More information can be found at

Here are the A Smooth Summer Night tour dates:

June 10: Reading, Pa. (Reading Eagle Theater)
June 11: Winona, Ontario (E.D. Smith Farms)
June 12: Westbury, N.Y. (Westbury Music Fair)
June 16: Albuquerque, N.M. (Sandia Amphitheatre)
June 17: Denver (Paramount Theatre)
June 24: Richmond, Va. (Kanawha Plaza)
June 25: Charleston, W.Va. (University of Charleston
June 26: Charlotte, N.C. (NC Blumenthal Performing Arts Center)
July 13: Atlanta (Chastain Park Amphitheatre)
July 15-16: Chicago (Navy Pier Skyline Stage)
July 20: Cleveland (Palace Theater)
July 21: Kettering, Ohio (Fraze Pavilion for the Performing Arts)
July 22: St. Louis (Orpheum Theatre)
July 23: Apple Valley, Minn. (Music in the Zoo)
July 30: Oakville, Calif. (Robert Mondavi Summer Festival)
July 31: Saratoga, Calif. (Montaivo Center for the Arts)
Aug. 19: San Diego (Humphrey's by the Bay)
Aug. 20: Concord, Calif. (Chronicle Pavilion)
Aug. 21: Hollywood, Calif. (Hollywood Bowl)


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Millions keep downloading free music

The Pew Internet & American Life Project, in a report released Wednesday, found that 7 million Americans -- or about 9 percent of Internet users -- are currently making unlicensed copies of music from someone else's iPod or similar MP3 device. About 10 million are getting bootlegged music and movies through e-mail and instant messages.

Retail Music Sales Increased in 2004

While it is unclear whether the record industry's battle against unauthorized file sharing may have had any effect, domestic shipments of music actually increased for the first time in five years in 2004. According to a report made public by the Record Industry Association of America, 814 million units were shipped, an increase of 2 percent.
Total revenue for music shipments in 2004 reached $12 billion, an increase of 2.5 percent. The RIAA's report follows an earlier study by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry who said that at least worldwide sales remained flat year over year.

Chieli Minucci - "Got It Goin' On!"

Chieli MinucciGot It Goin On is the culmination of Chieli's evolving vision for instrumental music. Featuring such special guests as hit-making saxophonists Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters and Marion Meadows, guitarist Steve Oliver, and bassist Gerald Veasley, all solo recording artists in their own right, Chieli explores many facets of his musical world. For instance, "Love Is Always Young" is a beautiful version of a song written by his father, the noted Italian born composer Ulpio Minucci, when he was in his eighties. There are also good-time funk tracks such as "Good Times Ahead" and "Juice" as well as interesting re-imagining of "Still Waiting," one of Special EFX's signature tunes which is notable for the way it juxtaposes uptempo percussion and drums against semi-classical chord movement. Philip Hamilton delivers an impressive vocal on the studio version of the arrangement Chieli and his band have been playing in concert.

Jax Jazzfest

The city of Jacksonville will hold its annual jazz festival April 7-10 at three venues -- Metropolitan Park, the Ritz Theater and Friendship Fountain -- which may be familiar territory from being aired during Super Bowl TV coverage. The stellar lineup includes Spyro Gyra; Jazz Attack (Richard Elliot, Jonathan Butler, Peter White and Rick Braun); Terence Blanchard; Chick Corea; Pamela Williams; David Benoit; David Sanborn; Lalah Hathaway; Al Jarreau; Mindi Abair; Sax Pack (Kim Waters, Jeff Kashiwa and Marion Meadows); YellowJackets; Stanley Clarke & George Duke; and Chris Botti. Whew! Imagine, this is a free event. Go, Jax!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Yellowjackets - 'Altered State'

YellowjacketsYellowjackets' music is steeped in the R&B/jazz tradition of the Jazz Crusaders, Junior Mance, Weather Report, and, of course Miles. Russell Ferrante always manages to slip a bit of church into his piano playing, a trend quickly picked up and absconded with by Bob Mintzer. Jimmy Haslip plays the most elastic bass since Victor Bailey, and Marcus Baylor must be the toast of the percussion town.

The band members all come together for Altered State in a brilliant kind of sacrament, a funky communion bearing little darkness or moodiness. This is incredible happy and effervescent music. The opening piece, “Suite 15,” provides the best glimpse into their electrically sanctified world. In a very real way, “Suite 15” extends the character of the traditional jazz chorus, all of the instruments playing a crazy but righteous counterpoint off one another.

“Suite 15” is followed by the burping reggae of “March Majestic.” Indeed and march, this piece stands also as an extension of the traditional jazz of New Orleans. Mintzer’s tenor is soulful and expressive, Ferrante’s left hand insistent and driving. “The Hope” is a vocal piece featuring Jean Baylor and company again infusing this adult contemporary jazz with Horace Silver’s spiritual message of funk and fun.

The Jimmy Haslip compositions are quirky and complex and immediately identifiable as his own. “Youth Eternal” demonstrates all of these traits of Mr. Haslip’s writing. Ferrante’s “57 Chevy” is a fun ride with an almost Aaron Copland-like piano line. Baylor’s understated drumming commands the song with its delicacy and rhythm. The Yellowjackets are a densely cohesive unit that continues to play and write with spunk and spontaneity. Altered State is a wildly consistent and evenly enjoyable recording.
By C. Michael Bailey []

Friday, March 18, 2005

Ravi Coltrane - "In Flux"

Ravi ColtraneDuring Ravi Coltrane's short-lived stint on RCA/BMG, he came into his own as a saxophonist, composer and bandleader after years of perfecting his craft and sound in the shadow of his heavyweight-champion father. On "In Flux," his debut for Savoy Jazz, Coltrane continues to dig deeper, further forging his personal voice in the jazz tradition. He doesn't blow with bravado on soprano and tenor, but muses, romances, ponders, pines and, on the spirited "Coincide," trills with dance-like joy. Half the tunes are penned by Coltrane, highlighted by the heartfelt "Dear Alice" and the poignant "For Zoë." Other noteworthy tracks include four one-minute-plus reflective-to-free vignettes (two of which are improvised collectively by Coltrane's quartet) and a sprightly flight through Wayne Shorter's "United." Recorded with authority, "In Flux" marks yet another giant step in Coltrane's maturation.—DO []

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Urban Knights VI

Urban KnightsFor their sixth recording, Urban Knights utilizes a core quintet comprised of keyboardist Kevin Randolph, veteran guitarist Bobby Broom, Nick Bisesi on tenor and soprano, electric bassist Maurice Fitzgerald and drummer Quinjuan Anderson. Although Urban Knights has never really had its own distinctive sound, it creates pleasing music that is danceable, funky, soulful and safe. Along with the group originals, Urban Knights romps happily on Stanley Clarke's "School Days" and Ramsey Lewis' "Close Your Eyes And Remember." The latter has a guest appearance by one of the group's original members, pianist Ramsey Lewis. The music overall has a light (some one would say lightweight) feel and should appeal to a large audience. Just do not expect originality, risks or any chances to be taken, for Urban Knights sticks closely to their chosen format/formula.
AMG Review by Scott Yanow

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Jazz's Feisty Grande Dame -- At 87, Marian McPartland isn't shy about speaking her mind

Marian McPartland"They're old fuddy-duddies, old farts," grumbled Marian McPartland, speaking about the jazz radio programmers who dare to tamper with her widely syndicated and much loved radio show, "Piano Jazz."

"When I bring on someone who's jazz influenced but out of the traditional realm - a Boz Scaggs, Bela Fleck, Bruce Hornsby or Steely Dan - these bastards refuse to run the episode. Can you imagine, they sit around all day, taking meetings, worrying about these things? I think it's important to stretch the boundaries a bit, not just be conservative and predictable, doing a Tony Bennett one week and an old-line trumpeter the next week. You have to keep looking to the future, not just to the past."

So maybe this is not the sort of chatter one might expect to hear out of a properly raised Englishwoman and grande dame of the jazz scene, a creative soul who's about to celebrate - if you can believe it - her 87th birthday.

But it's exactly the sort of talk and thinking that keeps Marian McPartland feisty and inquisitive and playing with panache, smartly attuned to the times "and as busy as I've ever been."

Monday, March 14, 2005

Kurt Rosenwinkel's Deep Song Makes First Appearance on Billboard Jazz Chart

Kurt RosenwinkelThe first four slots on Billboard’s jazz chart remain the same as last week, with, in order, Michael Bublé’s It’s Time, Chris Botti’s When I Fall in Love, Madeleine Peyroux’s Careless Love, and Diana Krall’s The Girl in the Other Room.

Bublé’s album has been on the chart for four weeks, and Botti’s is in its twenty-third week.

The chart’s only new entry is guitarist and composer Kurt Rosenwinkel’s Deep Song, his fourth album with Verve, which makes its first appearance at number 13. Deep Song features Brad Mehldau on piano, Joshua Redman on tenor sax, and Ali Jackson and Jeff Ballard on drums.

The Louis Armstrong Collection re-enters the chart at number 23.

Kenny G’s At Last. . . The Duets Album remains at number one on the contemporary jazz chart, with Pat Methany’s The Way Up at number two. A mixed album called The Best Smooth Jazz. . . Ever! enters the chart at number 13, and the Latin/jazz band Matt Bianco’s Matt’s Mood, featuring vocalist Basia, enters at number 14.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Nelson Rangell - My American Songbook 1

Nelson RangellThis recording by alto/soprano saxophonist Nelson Rangell features his unique take on the great American standards. With bassist Jimmy Haslip and keyboardist Russell Ferrante of the Yellowjackets and other sideman, Rangell's tart and tight sax tones and pithy flute solos take straight-ahead jazz, Broadway tunes, folk ditties, and soul numbers, and translates them for smooth jazz radio. On "Introduction to America and..." the wordless vocal and the handclaps are reminiscent of Pat Metheny's "First Circle." Stevie Wonder's Latin-tinged number, "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing," retains its Spanish Harlem swing, while Earth, Wind and Fire's "That the Way of the World," keeps its soulful message. Jazz pianist Hampton Hawes's "Sonora" may seem out of joint here, but Rangell's fans know it as the "Whistle Tune," because he whistled the melody when he played in a noisy club. Rangell has been compared to David Sanborn. This effort may change that. --Eugene Holley, Jr. -

Friday, March 11, 2005

A Real Gem, And Now Gold Too

Congratulations to Chris Botti, whose recording When I Fall in Love (Columbia) has gone gold -- and in only five months! How cool is that? And Botti's success is wonderful news for Smooth Jazz, because one of our own is breaking through. Some thought Botti was crazy to put his solo career on hold to join Sting's world tour for two years and ultimately become Sting's opening act at the price of his deal with Verve. But the trumpeter has flourished under manager Marc Silag's steady counsel, and his artistry -- not to mention sales success -- only continues to unfold. I'm wondering: Wouldn't Chris be perfect in a movie about Chet Baker's life? []

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Charlie Parker Honored by Savoy Jazz

Charlie ParkerCelebrating over 60 years as home to the catalog of one of the most important figures in jazz, Savoy Jazz releases "The Genius of Charlie Parker." The specially-priced deluxe 2-disc set compiled by Savoy Jazz Senior Director of A&R Joshua Sherman includes the best recordings from his years on Savoy Jazz and Dial Records digitally re-mastered from the original sources. Studio tracks as well as the best of his live performances at New York's premiere club at the time, The Royal Roost, make up this stellar collection. "The Genius of Charlie Parker" also includes classic Parker photos and extensive liner notes by Orrin Keepnews, Dick Katz, Loren Schoenberg and others.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Al Di Meola & Leonid Agutin and their first album 'Cosmopolitan Life'.

Al Di Meola & Leonard Agutin - 'Cosmopolitan Life'Once in the studio, Di Meola and Agutin expected peak performance from every participant. Together they laid the foundation for the pieces, then each of them set to work in New York and Moscow on polishing the songs. Even the recording took over a year. "We gave a lot of attention to each individual number," Agutin relates. They were very critical in selecting which songs should go on the album. They came up with ten wonderful numbers in which every note rings true. And yet: there is always room for improvement, at least according to Agutin.....

Thursday, March 03, 2005

New Releases - March, April, May

March 2005

O'2L, Dolye's Brunch (Peak, 3/1 )
Matt Bianco featuring Basia, Matt's Mood (Decca, 3/1)
Dee Dee Bridgewater, J'Si Deux Amour (Universal, 3/1)
Kurt Rosenwinkle, Deep Song (Verve, 3/1)
Sakésho, Beautiful Day(JVC Victor, 3/1)
Steve Kuhn, Mostly Ballads & More (3/1)
Various (Koz, Jarreau, Klugh, James, Elliot, more), Best Smooth Jazz Ever (2CD) (Liberty, 3/1)
Marcus Miller, Silver Rain (Koch, 3/8)
Nelson Rangell, My American Songbook 1(Koch, 3/8)
Michael "Patches" Stewart, Blow (Koch, 3/8)
Paul Taylor, Nightlife (Peak, 3/15)
Urban Knights, Urban Knights IV (Narada Jazz, 3/15)
Steve Lacy, The Gap (Verve, 3/15)
Mike Di Lorenzo, Urbanized (Keep The Groove, 3/16)
Chieli Minucci, Got It Goin' On (Shanachie, 3/22)
Yellowjackets, Altered State (Heads Up, 3/22)
SakéSho, We Want You To Say (Heads Up, 3/22)
Camiel, Sunset (DIG) (Rendezvous, 3/22)
Ricardo Scales, It's A New Day (Bay Sound, 3/22)
Billy Cobham & Culturemix, Colours (In & Out, 3/28)
David Benoit, Millennium Collection - 20th Century Masters (Hip-O, 3/29)
George Duke, Duke (Bonus DVD)(Big Piano Music, 3/29)
Soulive, Steady Groovin' (Blue Note, 3/29)
Various, Smooth Jazz Essentials 2 (Native Language, 3/29)
Acoustic Alchemy, American/English (Higher Octave, 3/29)
Hugh Masekela, TBA (Heads Up)
Meshell Ndege Ocello Jazz Project, TBA (Verve)
Frank Catalano, Street Jazz (A440 Music Group)

April 2005

Fareed Haque Group, Cosmic Hug (4/5)
Russ Freeman, Safe At Home (Just A Memory, 4/12)
Victor Wooten, Soul Circus (Vanguard, 4/12)
Onaje Allan Gumbs, Remember Their Innocence (4/12)
Hiroshima, TBA (Heads Up)
Oliver Mtukudzi, Nhava (Heads Up)
Golden Slumbers, A Father's Love (Rendezvous)
Patrick Yandall, Just Be Thankful (Apria)
Steve Cole, Spin (Narada Jazz)
Varous, Verve Remix 3 (Verve)

May 2005

Rippingtons, Wild Card (Peak, 5/3)
Black Gold Massive, TBA (Major Menace, 5/17)
David Pack, TBA (Concord, 5/24)
Walter Beasley, For Her (Heads Up)
Jeff Golub, Temptation (Narada Jazz)
Lee Ritenour, OverTime (2CD/DVD)(i.e.Music/Peak)

TV, music coming to Atlanta mass transit

MARTA employees look at the first television and radio network for rail passengers.By late spring, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority will become the first North American subway to pump television and radio feeds into its rail cars. Each of its 230 rail cars will be outfitted with 15-inch flat screens that will offer a local television news loop from ABC affiliate, WSB-TV, and transmitters that will offer three formats of on-board music -- top 40, jazz and R&B.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

An Hour With Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock, casually dressed in black jeans and a turtleneck, settles into a comfy chair at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. On this busy day in late 2004, he has only an hour to chat between duties as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's Jazz Creative Director Chair for 2004-05.
[Detroit Free Press]

A mosaic of music in Singapore

Normally staid Singapore is trying to jazz things up. With 10 days of eclectic performances by internationally known jazz musicians and world music award winners, the Mosaic Music Festival will gather masters and upstarts alike for jam sessions celebrating a wide spectrum of music.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

. . . And All That Jazz Memorabilia!

Louis Armstrong, without trumpet but with his wife, Lil, in Los Angeles in 1930In a basement apartment on Charlton Street in the West Village, there are eight tall file cabinets stuffed with hundreds of dog-eared manila folders.

The cabinets do not look imposing or important, but they contain possibly the finest collection of jazz photos in the world.

Even people with a passing interest in jazz photographs may recall seeing the "Courtesy of the Frank Driggs Collection" tag on pictures in newspapers, magazines, books and documentaries.
[NY Times]