Thursday, August 31, 2006

Sunny set: Rippingtons performance shines

In the happy pill world called smooth jazz, the happiest pill of them all for the past two decades has arguably been delivered by the Rippingtons, the West Coast group with the breezy Pacific vibe and bright pop sheen.

From the late ’80s well into the ’90s the band was a smooth jazz hit machine, turning out chart-topper after chart-topper and influencing a generation of players with their sleek grooves, peppy melodies and an emphatic — make that unapologetically loud — attack.

Last night, their opening set of a three-night stand at Scullers was both a sprint through the past and nod to a future that promised just what their recently released 20th anniversary CD did: more of the happy same.

Which was just fine with the swaying, clapping audience members, who were as effusive in their cheers for new material as they were for older faves like ‘‘Moonlighting,’’ ‘‘Black Diamond’’ and ‘‘Curves Ahead.’’

Thickened funk and Latin rhythms coursed through many of the uptempo tunes, with leader Russ Freeman’s guitar providing the set’s riskiest, sharpest-edged improvising.

But edgy is relative in the Rippingtons’ smooth jazz world. Electric bassist Kim Stone stretched on a few solos, but not too far, and percussionist Scott Breadman kept the grooves flowing on his array of instruments with a showman’s aplomb — but not too many different grooves.

Guest reedman Eric Marienthal, a long-ago Rippington who became a smooth jazz solo star, soared in unison with guitar and keyboards on fast numbers, floated caressingly on ballads like ‘‘Take Me With You,’’ and generally hugged the melodies with his alto sax at every turn.

His sanded-down instrumental take on Les McCanns and Eddie Harris driving ‘‘Compared to What,’’ although painful to hear for at least this fan of the original, fit in perfectly with the band’s set of buoyant brightness.

At 20, the Rippingtons still break out the sun night after night.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Brad Mehldau Cancels Bangkok Appearance, Citing Security Concerns

Jazz pianist Brad Mehldau, one of the most highly regarded of the younger generation of American jazz musicians, has cancelled a concert planned for next week in Bangkok.

Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports that the performance by the Brad Mehldau Trio, scheduled for next Friday, September 8, at the Siam Paragon retail complex in the Thai capital, was called off due to the musicians' concerns over "a destabilizing and unpredictable atmosphere in the country," as the presenters put it.

"Their decision is based on news reports regarding the recent assassination attempt on Thailand's prime minister," said AMI Events in a press statement.

On August 24, Thai police uncovered an alleged attempt to murder prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra with a car full of explosive parked near his residence.

But many of Bangkok's citizens, to say nothing of the city's lively press, believe that the entire thing was staged by Thaksin in order to gain sympathy from voters in advance of the general election on October 15. According to reports from Reuters and the BBC, a recent Bangkok University poll shows that only one-fifth of the capital's residents believe the assassination attempt was real, while half believe it was a stunt.

Political tensions have been high in Bangkok for many months. Allegations of abuse of power and widespread corruption have for years swirled around Thaksin, a former business mogul whose political situation in Thailand is not unlike that of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. A general election held in April of this year was annulled after an opposition boycott; ever since then, the government has been in limbo and the parliament non-functional.

Reuters reports that Thaksin, who has always been much more popular in the countryside than in the capital, is expected to be re-elected in October with a reduced majority in the parliament.

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Tony Bennett: 'America is culturally void'

Legendary singer Tony Bennett has slammed his home country of America for not contributing anything other than jazz music to world art and culture.

The If I Ruled The World crooner feels that Europe and Asia offer far more culturally than America does.

Bennett says, "I have travelled around the world to Asia and Europe. They show you what they have contributed to the world. The British show you theatre, the Italians show you music and art, the French show you cooking and painting, and the Germans show you science.

"The only thing that the United States, which is still a young country, has contributed culturally to the world is jazz - elongated improvisation. It's tragic."

And Bennett feels that Americans don't even appreciate the impact of jazz in popular culture.

He says, "Fifty years from now people will be bowing to Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, just like impressionist painters like Monet, who were starving in their day. The Americans don't even know what they have come up with."

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Eliane Elias : Brazilian Cool Redefined

Pianist and vocalist Eliane Elias in the past was known as an amazing jazz pianist who frequently paid homage to her Brazilian heritage. She still is, but Elias, who is now based in New York and has performed on albums by guitarist Earl Klugh and vocalist Michael Franks, has remade herself on a brand-new CD called Around the City that no doubt owes much to the success of Bebel Gilberto.Gilberto is a favorite among the chill-crowd, who remake her songs with a downtempo bent. They could do the same with Elias' latest, a sublime mix of pop and jazz that features both English and Portuguese vocals. In fact, the two languages are combine on the CD's opening track, "Running," quite possibly the smoothest and best vocal tune of the year. It's impossible to get out of your head.Making appearances on the CD are trumpeter Randy Brecker (her former husband), bassist Marc Johnson (her current husband), flutist Dave Valentin, percussionist Paulino da Costa and others. Her 18th album, released by the Bluebird record label, has covers of such well-known tunes as Bob Marley’s “Jammin’” and Santana’s “Oye Como Va.” Original tunes include “We’re So Good,” “Slide Show” and “Save Your Love For Me.”Elias will be making appearances in the U.S. in September in Philadelphia, New York, Seattle and Los Angeles. If you live in or near any of those cities, you deserve a night out to hear this exquisite musician.

Originally posted by Brian Soergel at smoothjazznotes.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Frank Sinatra's 5 Disc Boxed Set

November 7 Rhino will release Vegas - five-disc boxed set features all previously unreleased live performances of Frank Sinatra in Vegas. Sinatra, more than any other performer, turned Las Vegas into "The Entertainment Capital Of The World." Whether it's "Come Fly With Me, " "Luck Be A Lady, " or "My Way, " Sinatra in Vegas is the Sinatra of legend.

This deluxe set of previously unreleased material from Reprise Records includes five unforgettable performances in legendary Vegas venues by Sinatra in his prime. The set includes never-before-heard versions of the his most iconic hits including: "Come Fly With Me, " "Witchcraft, " "The Lady Is A Tramp, " "I've Got You Under My Skin, " "Fly Me To The Moon, " "Luck Be A Lady, " "Theme From New York, " "New York, " "My Way", and many more.

Disc One was recorded at The Sands hotel (which Sinatra partially owned) in November of 1961. Such Sinatra standards as "The Lady Is A Tramp, " "Young At Heart, " and "Witchcraft" are greeted with rapturous response from the hometown crowd. An insightful bonus audio interview with Sinatra sheds light on the segregation in Nevada hotels that he was battling at the time of this performance.

Disc Two presents Sinatra back at the Sands in early 1966, performing with Count Basie & His Orchestra (which featured a young Quincy Jones conducting). Some of Sinatra's performances from that engagement were excerpted for Sinatra At The Sands (which would become one of the singer's most popular LPs), but all the recordings included here are previously unavailable. Organized as a complete show with the songs in the order they were performed, this is the ultimate swingin' collaboration meeting between Sinatra and Basie.

Moving forward 16 years, Disc Three presents Frank at Caesar's Palace during a two-week engagement in the Circus Maximus in March of 1982, where Frank was heralded as "the greatest Roman of them all." Sinatra began the 1980s with a switch from lush string sections to upbeat 'hot band' accompaniment. Also heard on this volume of Sinatra: Vegas is Nancy Sinatra, who duets with her father on their #1 hit "Somethin' Stupid, " and fellow Rat Packer (and good-natured heckler) Dean Martin.

Disc Four bookends the decade with an April 1987 engagement at The Golden Nugget. This strong late-period performance was a rare occasion when Frank's favorite accompanist Bill Miller was not behind the piano - he instead conducted the orchestra while fellow Sinatra stalwart Lou Levy tickled the ivories. Miller, who passed away earlier this year while touring with Frank Sinatra Jr., is featured playing or conducting on all five discs of Sinatra: Vegas.

The boxed set's DVD features a complete unreleased concert from May 5, 1978 at Caesar's Palace - one of more than 500 shows he performed there in his long career. At the time, cameras were rolling for the CBS-TV program Cinderella At The Palace, a special about a new singer getting her big break that featured several famous guest appearances. Though only a few Sinatra songs were part of the broadcast, Frank's whole show was filmed - as well as rare backstage footage shot before and after the performance.

These five discs reside within a beautiful metallic foil clamshell box, which also includes a lavish 64-page book with celebrity commentary, essays by noted Sinatraphiles, rare photos, and reproductions of Vegas memorabilia.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Smooth Jazz Chart | Week Ended 8/28/06

LW TW Artist Album (Label)
1 - 1 - Peter White - "Playin' Favorites" (Columbia)
2 - 2 - Mindi Abair - "Life Less Ordinary" (GRP)
6 - 3 - The Jazzmasters - "Jazzmasters V" (Trippin 'n Rhythm)
4 - 4 - Nick Colionne - "Keepin' It Cool" (Narada Jazz)
3 - 5 - Wayman Tisdale - "Way Up" (Rendezvous)
5 - 6 - Fourplay - "X" (Bluebird/RCA Victor)
7 - 7 - Euge Groove - "Just Feels Right" (Narada Jazz)
8 - 8 - Pieces Of A Dream "Pillow Talk" - (Heads Up)
9 - 9 - David Benoit - "Full Circle" - (Peak)
13 - 10 - Corinne Bailey Rae - "Corinne Bailey Rae" - (Capitol)

Visit to view the latest complete top 50 chart.
Visit to view the latest weekly chart recap.

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Nils | Pacific Coast Highway - Video

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'Music Is My Life, Politics My Mistress: The Story of Oscar Brown Jr.'

Music was his life, and so was activism.

When the jazz genius Oscar Brown Jr. died in Chicago last May, at age 78, he was broke, underemployed and nearly forgotten.

The man who penned the lyrics to such classic tunes as "Work Song" and "Afro Blue," the creator of groundbreaking urban musicals such as "Kicks & Co." and "The Great Nitty Gritty" had been scraping by for years — decades, really.

Though his songs and larger works became anthems for the civil rights era, though jazz musicians around the world riffed on Brown masterpieces such as "Dat Dere" and "Hazel's Hips," money and fame commensurate with his enormous talent always eluded him.

But an unflinching new documentary, "Music Is My Life, Politics My Mistress: The Story of Oscar Brown Jr.," sets the record straight, eloquently summing up Brown's enormous achievements while capturing the man's wizardry as performer, songwriter and undaunted social activist.

"I've always thought of Oscar as one of those people who is a grand contributor to the music but is never really recognized because of the content of what he does," writer Amiri Baraka says early in the film, pinpointing one of the primary reasons behind Brown's struggles.

For Brown spoke his mind — in poetry and song and conversation — decrying the blatant racism of the Chicago he grew up in, bemoaning a nation that throughout its history regarded blacks as unequal.

"I always wondered as a kid how would it be to [live] in a country where you really could love the country, and feel that the country was your country," he says in the film, which overflows with illuminating footage of the man in conversation and in performance.

"Because I always had this feeling that I was in a hostile situation here."

Brown transformed his rage into some of the most searing song lyrics and soaring melody lines ever penned in the jazz tradition. The slave trader callously peddling human flesh in "Bid 'Em In," the street vendor hawking "Rags and Old Iron" and the griot spinning the ancient tale of the "Signifyin' Monkey" all revealed the meaning of race in America, and all set to a swing beat and a deep blues undertow.

Exquisitely edited, "Music Is My Life" links key moments in Brown's biography with corresponding passages in his work, showing how inseparable the two were. Only a man incensed at the tragedies visited on generations of African Americans could have railed so passionately in "Forty Acres and a Mule," only an artist who embraced his community would have been able to enlist members of the Blackstone Rangers to perform his inner-city musical "Opportunity Please Knock" in the mid-1960s.

To the credit of director Donnie L. Betts, it's all there in the film: the artistic triumphs and the colossal commercial defeats, the stylistic innovations and the feuds with other musicians, the generosity of spirit and the inevitable personal shortcomings.

If some moments of this film inevitably produce tears, others inspire optimism, for it's impossible not to be elevated by the rhythms of Brown's music and the sight and sound of him performing it.

'Music Is My Life, Politics My Mistress: The Story of Oscar Brown Jr.'
MPAA rating: Unrated
Directed by Donnie L. Betts.
Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

By Howard Reich
Chicago Tribune

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Upcoming Jazz Releases - 8/29/06

Upcoming Jazz Releases

Art Farmer - Modern Art (Japan) (Virgin) - Reissue
Bill Evans - Soulgrass (BHM)
Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, Paul Motian - Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, Paul Motian (Nonesuch)
Billy Cobham - Flight Time (Germany) (Inakustik) - Reissue
Bing Crosby - The Centennial Anthology (MCS)
Bud Shank - Shorty Rogers=Bill Perkins (Japan) (Virgin) - Reissue
Calvin Owens - I Ain't Gonna Be Yo Dog No Mo (404 Music Group)
Cassandre McKinley - Til Tomorrow: Remembering Marvin Gaye (Max Jazz)
Chet Baker - Chet Baker & Crew (Japan) (Virgin) - Reissue
Chico Hamilton - Blue Sands (Japan) (Virgin) - Reissue
Clifford Brown - Jazz Immortal (Japan) (Virgin) - Reissue
Dave Holland Quintet - Critical Mass (Dare/2 Sunnyside)
Dirty Dozen Brass Band - What's Going On? (Shout! Factory)
Dizzy Gillespie - Dizzy Digs Paris (Remastered) (Giant Steps) - Reissue
Edward Simon - Unicity (Cam Jazz)
Ensa - The complete Concerts (Rexx)
Esther Phillips - Best of the Mercury Years 77-81 (Spectrum M) - Reissue
Frank Sinatra - Swing Easy & Songs for Young Lovers (Japan) (VIrgin) - Reissue
Gene Krupa - At His Very Best (Hep Cat) - Reissue
Geraldo - Swings - Concert Recordings Live at the Royal Festival Hall (Rexx)
Gerry Mulligan - Quartet (Japan) (Virgin) - Reissue
Gil Goldstein - Under Rousseau's Moon (Half Note)
IsWhat?! - The Life We Chose (HYENA)
Jacqui Naylor - Color Five (Wea)
Jimmy Giuffre - Cool One (Giant Steps) - Reissue
Joe Loss - Joe Loss and His Orchestra (Rexx) - Reissue
John Lee Hooker - Specialty Profiles (Fantasy) - Reissue
Julie London - Calendar Girl (Japan) (Virgin) - Reissue
Kampfar - Fra Underverdenen (Napalm) - Reissue
Kenny Garrett - Beyond the Wall (Nonesuch)
Kenny Werner - Democracy (Half Note)
Larry Williams - Specialty Profiles (Fantasy) - Reissue
Lawrence Marable - Tenorman (Virgin) - Reissue
Lloyd Price - Specialty Profiles (Fantasy) - Reissue
Louis Armstrong - Centennial Anthology (Master Classics) - Reissue
Louis Hayes - Maximum Firepower (Wea)
Louis Jordan - Alladin X & Recordijngs 1953-1955 (England) (Revola) - Reissue
Mariachi Brass - Taste of Tequila (England) (City Hall)
Mel Torme - That's Where I Came In (GVC) - Reissue
Michel Camilo & Tomatito - Spain Again (Universal)
Mike LeDonne - On Fire (Wea)
Milcho Leviev - Multiple Personalities (Mighty Quinn)
Mulgrew Miller - Live at the Kennedy Center Volume One (Max Jazz)
Nina Simone - Mastercuts Presents: Nina Simone - The Definitive Collection (Mastrcuts) - Reissue
Papa John DeFrancesco - Desert Heat (Wea)
Percy Mayfield - Specialty Profiles (Fantasy) - Reissue
Pete Robbins - Waits & Measures (Playscape Recordings)
Roy Milton & His Orchestra - Specialty Profiles (Fantasy) - Reissue
Sam Cooke - Specialty Profiles (Fantasy) - Reissue
Sasha Dobson - Modern Romance (Secret Sun)
Sonny Criss - Jazz U.S.A. (Japan) (Virgin) - Reissue
Stan Kenton - At His Very Best (Hep Cat) - Reissue
Tomasz Stanko - From the Green Hill (ECM) - Reissue
Tomasz Stanko Quartet - Lontano (ECM)
Various Artists - Greatest Big Bands of a Century (Hep Cat) - Reissue
Various Artists - Il Postino (Cam Jazz)
Various Artists - Jazz Shots - West Coast Volume 1 (Music Video Distributors) - DVD-Video

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New Releases | August-September

Kenny Garrett, Beyond The Wall [Nonesuch, 8/29]
Ted Nash & Still Evolved, In The Loop [Palmetto, 8/29]
Tomasz Stanko Quartet, Lontano [ECM Records, 8/29]
Fred Martin & The Levite Camp, Some Bridges [Concord, 8/29]
Brazilian Girls, TBD [Verve Forecast, 8/29]
Soft Machine, TBA "Live" [Cuneiform Records, 9/2]
Keith Jarrett, TBA Live 2-Disc [ECM Records, 9/2]
Frank Gambale, Best of: The Acoustic Side [9/5]
Wolfgang Schalk Quartet, Soace Messengers [9/5]
Metheny / Mehldau, S/T [Nonesuch, 9/12]
Madeleine Peyroux, Half the Perfect World [Rounder, 9/12]
Marisa Monte, Universo Ao Meu Redor [Metro Blue, 9/12]
Marisa Monte, Infinito Particular [Blue Note, 9/12]
Diana Krall, From This Moment On [Verve, 9/19]
Boney James, Shine [Concord Records, 9/26]
Al Di Meola, Consequence of Chaos [Telarc Record, 9/26]
Medeski, Martin & Wood and John Scofield, Out Louder [9/26]
Natalie Cole, Day Dreaming [Verve, 9/26]

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Jazz Trumpeter Maynard Ferguson Dies

Jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, known for his soaring high notes and for his hit recording of "Gonna Fly Now," which lent the musical muscle to the "Rocky" movies, has died. He was 78.

Ferguson, who lived in Ojai, Calif., died last night (Aug. 23) at Community Memorial Hospital of kidney and liver failure due to an abdominal infection, friend and manager Steve Schankman said. Ferguson's four daughters, Kim, Lisa, Corby and Wilder, and other family members were at his side when he died.

"Someone just said, `Gabriel, move over to second trumpet,'" Schankman said from his St. Louis office. "He was the last of the greats. That era is closed. There is no Kenton, no Basie, no Ellington, and now, no Ferguson."

Born into a musical family in Montreal, Ferguson began playing the piano and violin at age 4, took up the trumpet at 9 and soloed with the Canadian Broadcasting Company Orchestra at 11. He quit school at 15 to pursue a career in music.

The next year he was leading his own dance band, the first of a number of big bands and smaller ensembles he eventually fronted in a career that produced more than 60 albums and three Grammy nominations.

Ferguson, also a much admired teacher, became identified with ear-piercing power and dizzying high notes that he was still able to play with precision. He was named Down Beat magazine's "trumpeter of the year" three times.

"My instrument is a thing of pleasure, and I play it only because I enjoy it," he once said. "The most important thing is doing what feels right for me." The trumpeter -- who stood just 5 feet 9 -- credited yoga with enabling him to harness the full capacity of his lungs and routinely hit a double-high-C.

As with many esteemed jazz players, mainstream success largely eluded Ferguson. But he scored a top 10 hit with his version of "Gonna Fly Now," and the single spawned a gold album and a Grammy nomination in 1978.

"I knew it was going to be a hit," he once said of the Bill Conti composition. "Sylvester Stallone was in the studio when we recorded it," punching a speed bag to the rhythm of the song.

"If you listen very close to the original recording, you can hear in the mix the sound of him hitting the small bag," Ferguson said.

Billboard - AP

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Nancy Wilson | Turned To Blue

Nancy Wilson | Turned To BlueOne of the hardest things for a fan to do is watch a premier athlete or entertainer begin to falter and show the first signs that age has begun to compromise their talent. It was saddening to watch Muhammad Ali unable to fend off Larry Holmes. It was troubling to watch the great Michael Jordan being schooled by Allen Iverson. Now it is becoming obvious than in the sunset of her career, Nancy Wilson isn't quite the vocalist she once was.

Wilson's sultry singing has made her one of jazz's most enduring vocalists. However, Turned to Blue does not find her in fine form. On several songs she is audibly straining, and the results are harsh and at times almost atonal.

The big band sound wrapped around Wilson on “Take Love Easy” and “Taking A Chance on Love” offers as much protection as embellishment. In fact, the band sounds first-rate throughout the album. With pros like James Moody, Jimmy Heath, and Bob Mintzer (of Yellowjackets fame) among the musicians sitting in, how could it not? It's Wilson's talking/singing style of interpretation that drags.

It's immediately noticeable on “This Is All I Ask” that Wilson's phrasing is somewhat off, as she wavers off-key. By the time Mintzer's saxophone solos in, he's almost throwing Wilson a life preserver: she sounds lethargic and bored. “Take Love Easy” gives Wilson the opportunity to swing a bit behind a fourteen-piece brass arrangement, but she only sways as her energy never seems to catch up with the band's. Sean Jones offers up an inspired trumpet solo and Llew Matthews tickles the piano keys, but still Wilson never raises her game to their level.

A plodding rendition of the Quincy Jones-James Ingram classic “Just Once” represents the nadir of Turned to Blue. Wilson mangles it with a tuneless version that will have listeners reaching for the fast forward button. Her voice cracks at once point, and it's as if she's never heard the song before.
There's a popular notion that critics love to give negative reviews and rip into artists. That notion is untrue. Nobody likes bad movies, bad books or bad music. Nobody sets out to make a dud. But it does happen from time to time, and while Wilson's 2004 album, RSVP (Rare Songs, Very Personal), also covered classic ballads in her hushed style, she sounds weary and faltering here.

Overall, this album is something of a disappointment. One can only hope Wilson's next effort finds her in better form than Turned to Blue.
Visit Nancy Wilson on the web. Nancy Wilson at All About Jazz.

By Jeff Winbush

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Hot jazz at a cool new club

South Florida has a conflicted relationship with jazz music. Jazz elders such as organist Lonnie Smith live here, and between WDNA-FM and WLRN-FM's Evening Jazz, there's plenty of jazz on the airwaves. But to see it live in these parts is another matter. The O'Hara's clubs in Broward County and the Van Dyke in South Beach can only book so many acts, and the local jazz societies have had mixed results bringing in audiences. But the arrival of Arturo Sandoval Jazz Club (6710 Collins Ave; 305-403-7565) inside the Deauville Beach Resort on Miami Beach is cause for hope. Founded by and named for the expatriate Cuban trumpeter, the club is making a commitment to live jazz with local, national and international acts. Japanese pianist Keiko Matsui plays there on Friday and Saturday, and the rest of Sandoval's summer slate makes no concessions to our hot, sleepy off-season -- not with highly regarded performers such as Lynne Arriale (Sept. 1), Alex Acuna (Sept. 8), The Bad Plus (Sept. 9, 10) and Sandoval himself (Sept. 20) on tap. More info at
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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

JVC fest: full of diversity, so-so on quality

Anyone who loves jazz has to be pleased that music's tent has become so vast over the last few decades. Smooth jazz, acid jazz, fusion, contemporary jazz, nujazz; jazz with infusions of rap, turntables and electronica; world jazz, Latin jazz and repertory jazz. And I've probably left out a few.

Whether that's all good depends on your taste and/or your perception of what is or isn't jazz. But the something-for-everybody view is surely healthier than the my-way-or-the-highway attitude that often has prevailed in the past.

That said, diversity does not guarantee quality — a thought that frequently came to mind during the JVC Jazz Festival 2006 at the Hollywood Bowl on Sunday night.

The opening set by saxophonist Najee offered few surprises. Najee's sound and style fit well within the established tradition of smooth-jazz saxophone music — a pinched tone (on both alto and soprano instruments), improvising based on short riffs rather than invented melodies, and heavily back-beated rhythms. At one point, he resorted to the well-worn circular-breathing technique allowing the player to hold a note for a seemingly impossible length of time. No wonder that when Najee started his third tune, someone in a nearby box asked, "Hasn't he already played this?"

Singer Michael Franks, who has never fit easily into any single category, has written a few attractive, gently whimsical tunes, and he sang a trio of his most memorable — "Popsicle Toes," "The Lady Wants to Know" and "Eggplant" — as well as "Under the Sun," from his latest album, "Rendezvous in Rio." The music was quietly engaging, perhaps a bit too laid-back for this program and this location, and hampered by Franks' tendency to use similarly floating rhythm backing on almost every tune. But it was, nonetheless, a pleasant interlude in a high-intensity program.

The performance by the quartet Fourplay (keyboardist Bob James, bassist Nathan East, guitarist Larry Carlton and drummer Harvey Mason) was the musical highlight. Energized by East's charismatic playing and singing (and, in one instance, whistling), driven powerfully by Mason's drumming and the sneakily straight-ahead jazz of James, Fourplay thoroughly affirmed its capacity to bring imagination and creativity to the often predictable smooth-jazz paradigm.

Norman Brown's Summer Storm mirrored Najee's opening, with featured keyboardist Alex Bugnon and saxophonist Paul Taylor working similar styles in a similar manner with similar results. Fortunately, a pair of songs from the versatile Patti Austin saved the set, while further confirming the values of jazz multiplicity.

By Don Heckman -

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Rippingtons to Headline October 21 Jazz on the Green in SW Florida

The Rippingtons Add Jazz On The Green To Their Twentieth Anniversary Tour

Southwest Florida has come to rely on the annual Jazz on the Green concert to bring the hottest in smooth jazz talent to the region and 2006 is no exception. In keeping with their eleven year tradition of first rate line-ups, Jazz on the Green has announced that legendary jazz band The Rippingtons will headline this year's concert.

A complete afternoon and evening of smooth jazz under the stars on Saturday, October 21, will feature a stellar cast of artists, including in order of appearance:

Soul/jazz vocalist Maysa, whose latest CD, Sweet Classic Soul, released in February, is her fourth solo album and, according to, “reminds us of her status as one of the great soul singers of our time”

Saxman Euge Groove has four albums to his credit, including 2005's Just Feels Right, but you've heard him in concert or recordings with the likes of Joe Cocker, Tina Turner and Tower of Power - jazz fans are in for a knock-out show from this award-winning Billboard-charting performer

The Rippingtons first graced the Jazz on the Green stage in 1999 and are now embarking on a 20th anniversary tour. Founded in 1986 by Russ Freeman, the band is internationally renowned and has a lengthy list of Billboard chart-toppers and Oasis awards; their CD Wild Card debuted at #1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart and the 20th Anniversary CD/DVD was just released to rave reviews
On Friday, October 20th, the Jazz On The Green weekend kicks off with a Premier Event, featuring saxophonist, Jimmy Sommers, at The Colony Golf & Country Club. One of People magazine's Top 50 most eligible bachelors, Jimmy's infectious alto sax playing has proven time and again to be a sound at once dramatic, spirited and funky, yet seductive and unabashedly romantic. This will be an evening a great food, fun and jazz music in an intimate setting. You just never know who's going to show up!

Saturday's concert will take place at Florida Gulf Coast University, 10501 FGCU Blvd. S. in Fort Myers, Florida. Gates open at 3 p.m. and the concert begins at 4 p.m. Tickets for the 11th annual Jazz on the Green both the Friday and the Saturday events may be purchased online at Logon and look for the box that reads, “Click here to purchase tickets online - TICKETWEB”. Tickets may also be purchased via telephone by calling TicketWeb toll free at 866-486-7630. General admission tickets cost $30 for advance purchase and $40 at the gate. To enjoy Jazz on the Green in style with priority seating and refreshments, opt for the Friends of Jazz Pavilion ticket purchase at $60 per person in advance or $70 at the gate (includes admission to concert and Jazz pavilion catered by Bonefish Grill). Sign up for the Jazz e-Fan Club and instantly receive a promo code to save $5 per ticket (online sales only). Tickets for the Premier Event on Friday are in advance only and very limited seating at $85 per ticket with E-Fan discounts applicable.

Jazz on the Green is a charity concert for The Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida. Over the past nine years, Jazz on the Green has donated more than $300,000 to the hospital. Continued community support is appreciated, so please come out for a fabulous afternoon and evening of pure jazz enjoyment!

Manhattan Transfer's New Releases

Eight-time GRAMMY winning vocal group Manhattan Transfer has been releasing stellar albums for over three decades, but their collective voice has never sounded better than on two new albums previously available only in Japan.

An Acapella Christmas celebrates traditional Yuletide favorites with the savvy, spirit and elegance that define the Transfer's repertoire and makes for their best holiday collection ever. Following up 2004's acclaimed Vibrate, The Symphony Sessions finds the quintessential vocal quartet revisiting some of the best-loved songs they recorded earlier in their career. Both albums will be available October 3.

Recorded in 2006, The Symphony Sessions features the Transfer re-interpreting 12 classic songs from past albums. With stunning new takes on delightful old favorites, including their '06 version of “A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square,” “Embraceable You,” “The Quietude,” plus updated takes of “Route 66,” and “Birdland,” both previous GRAMMY winners for the group.

Released in Japan in 2004, An Acapella Christmas delivers unforgettable seasons greetings with dazzling 'instrument-less” renditions of Yuletide carols and classics, and is their first Christmas album since 1992, and first-ever acapella release. Deck the halls with the Transfer's vocal-only versions of “Good King Wenceslas,” “Merry Christmas Baby,” and “I'll Be Home For Christmas.” Also features a toe tapping version of “Jingle Bells,” “White Christmas,” and “Winter Wonderland.”

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Smooth Jazz Chart Top Ten | Week ended 8/21/06

LW TW Artist Album (Label)
1 - 1 - Peter White - "Playin' Favorites" (Columbia)
2 - 2 - Mindi Abair - "Life Less Ordinary" (GRP)
3 - 3 - Wayman Tisdale - "Way Up" (Rendezvous)
4 - 4 - Nick Colionne - "Keepin' It Cool" (Narada Jazz)
7 - 5 - Fourplay - "X" (Bluebird/RCA Victor)
10 - 6 - The Jazzmasters - "Jazzmasters V" (Trippin 'n Rhythm)
5 - 7 - Euge Groove - "Just Feels Right" (Narada Jazz)
9 - 8 - Pieces Of A Dream "Pillow Talk" - (Heads Up)
8 - 9 - David Benoit - "Full Circle" - (Peak)
6 - 10 - Philippe Saisse Trio - "The Body and Soul Sessions" (Rendezvous)

Visit to view the latest complete top 50 chart.
Visit to view the latest weekly chart recap.

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XM vs. Sirius: Endless Options Narrow to One

You've had it with the disappearance of musical variety on the radio. You spend all too many hours in the car and you'd like one source for sophisticated music choices, a range of news and talk, comedy, audiobooks, kids' programming, and as full a menu of sports as cable TV offers. You're finally ready to shell out $13 a month for what used to be free.

But you can't tell the difference between the Coke and Pepsi of the satellite radio business, Washington-based XM and New York-based Sirius.

I've spent the past four months with both services in my car and house, listening to just about all of the two companies' combined 300 channels. Conclusion: Like colas, satellite services do differ, if subtly. Depending on your interests and how you use radio, one satellite service will be right for you. Both services offer an enormous amount of great stuff and also lots of mediocre programming.

Click here for the entire article by By Marc Fisher Washington Post Staff Writer

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Monday, August 21, 2006

David Benoit | Full Circle

Some artists are so versatile they defy genre labels. Smooth jazz acts, for example, have been known to mix it up with Latin, blues, reggae and even traditional jazz. Then there’s David Benoit. While he’s done all of the above, that’s only part of the picture. In addition to being a classical pianist, he is a composer and conductor. His credits include work with Leonard Bernstein, the National Symphony, the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra and the Dresden Philharmonic. Television and film credits include themes for All My Children and Sisters, and scores for The Stars Fell on Henrietta and The Christmas Tree. Benoit also spent ten years composing music for the “Charlie Brown” TV specials, a spinoff of his popular cover of Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy.”

In jazz, Benoit is a five-time Grammy nominee who has performed or recorded with Russ Freeman and the Rippingtons, Dave Koz, Patti Austin and David Sanborn, among others. Breakthrough albums like Freedom at Midnight and Every Step of the Way established Benoit as a pioneer of what came to be known as smooth jazz.

Benoit’s new release, Full Circle, sets the tone early. With Nathan East on bass, John Robinson on drums, Oscar Castro-Neves on acoustic guitar, and Luis Conte and Alex Acuna on percussion, “Cafe Rio” mixes vintage Benoit cool with Brazilian seasoning. Bassist Roberto Vally sets the pace for the elegant “First Day of School,” which features an acoustic guitar solo by Paul Brown. It’s back to Brazil with “Water to Drink (Agua de Beber).” This exceptional interpretation of the Antonio Carlos Jobim classic is aided by light horns supplied by Jerry Hey (trumpet), Dan Higgins (sax and flute) and Bill Reichenbach (trombone).

The music turns funky with “Beat Street.” Co-writer Jeff Lorber provides an exceptional drum program along with his play on Fender Rhodes and synthesizers. On “Six P.M.,” Benoit is joined by long-time associates Rick Braun (trumpet) and Andy Suzuki (saxophone). This straightforward jazz groove features solos by Braun and flutist Tim Weisberg. Robinson’s skills on drums and cymbals help make it one of the better pieces on the album. For the smooth jazz fans, there is the laid-back “Chasing the Tides,” which features Euge Groove on a soprano sax solo. The remaining tracks are “Neat with a Twist,” “Katrina’s Little Bear,” “Yusuke the Ghost” and the high-energy, funk-fueled “Monster in the Attic.”

Through it all, Benoit’s dexterity on piano stands out. With the exception of Jobim’s “Ague de Beber,” all tracks are originals penned by Benoit—alone or in collaboration with one of his sidemen. Full Circle is titled to represent both, a description of Benoit’s musical path, having ventured into straightahead jazz, fusion, symphonic, orchestral and R&B, and a reunion with several friends who either worked with him or crossed his path early in his career. Conceptually, it sounds a lot like the music Benoit played two decades ago. But it’s all fresh, resulting in his best effort in several years.

Visit David Benoit on the web. David Benoit at All About Jazz.

Track listing: Cafe Rio; First Day of School; Water to Drink (Agua de Beber); Beat Street; Six PM; Chasing the Tides; Neat with a Twist; Katrina’s Little Bear; Yusuke the Ghost; Monster in the Attic.

Personnel: David Benoit: piano, keyboards, Hammond B3; John Robinson, Michael White: drums; Nathan East, Roberto Vally, Alex Al: bass; Oscar Castro Neves, Paul Brown: acoustic guitar; Luis Conte, Alec Acuna: percussion; Pat Kelley, Dwight Sills: guitar; Jerry Hey, Ron King, Rick Braun: trumpet; Dan Higgins: sax, flute; Bill Reichenbach: trombone; Jeff Lorber: Fender Rhodes, synthesizers, drum programming; Gary Meek, Euge Groove: saxophones; Brian Bromberg: acoustic bass; Andy Suzuki: tenor sax; Tim Weisburg: flute; Timothy Landauer: cello (8); Paul Jackson Jr.: electric guitar (10).

By Woodrow Wilkins Jr.

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Sandisk reported ready for iPod challenge

Sansa e280 to have 8 gigabytes storage, to compete with Apple's Nano.

Sandisk Corp. is expected to announce product enhancements and price cuts Monday aimed at attracting interest in its digital music player, which competes with Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod, the Wall Street Journal said in a report that quoted Sandisk's CEO.

Sandisk (Charts), which holds the second-largest market share in digital music players behind Apple, plans to introduce a $249.99 MP3 player, the Sansa e280, with eight gigabytes of storage capacity.

That is enough to hold about 2,000 songs, which is double the capacity of the similarly priced iPod Nano, Apple's best-selling digital music player, the report said.

SanDisk also is cutting prices on its other music players by almost 30 percent, the report said.
SanDisk could not be reached for comment on the article. reuters
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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Blogger Beta

Friends and visitors:
The blog has been converted to the new Blogger beta with a new theme.
Initially we lost all elements from the right side panel, but most have been rebuilt including site links. Please let me know if you encounter any bad links.

It appears that pictures are not uploading right now, hopefully this will be corrected soon.
Also, while I'm still having some issues with things like Google ad sense, analytics, and Amazon ads. all posts remain in the archive and all other functionality remains.

Long term this will be a good thing for Blogger blogs with easier drag/drop element creation and editing.

Again thanks for visiting, and thanks for your patience.

New Releases | August

Lee Ritenour, Smoke N' Mirrors [Peak Records, 8/22]
Geri Allen, Timeless Portraits And Dreams [Telarc, 8 / 22]
Richard Bona, Tiki [Decca, 8/22]
Chris Botti, - Live: With Orchestra And Special Guests [Sony, 8/22]
Walter Beasley, Live [Shanachie Records, 8/22]
Doc Powell, S/T [Heads Up International, 8/22]
Torcuato Mariano, Lift Me Up [215 Records, 8/22]
Gil Parris, Strength [215 Records, 8/22]
Dave Brubeck, TBA [Telarc]
Nancy Wilson, Turned Blue [Telarc, 8/22]
Joe Sample and Randy Crawford, Feeling Good [Universal, 8/22]
Fred Martin & The Levite Camp, Some Bridges [Concord, 8/29]
Brazilian Girls, TBD [Verve Forecast, 8/29]

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Upcoming Jazz Releases | 8/22/06

Upcoming Jazz Releases

Alex Diambrini - This Guitar This Music (Rhombus)
Ann Hampton Callawat - Blues in the Night (Telarc)
Ann Hampton Callawat - Blues in the Night (Telarc) - SACD
Antonio Carlos Jobim - Live at Mina's (DRG) - Reissue
Bembaya Jazz National - Classic Titles (Cantos)
Brian Bromberg - Wanted Dead or Alive (Remastered) (France) (Sony) - Reissue
Charles Trenet - Douce France (Living Era) - Reissue
Chet Doxas - Sidewalk Etiquette (Justin Time)
Chris Botti - Live with Orchestra and Special Guests (Sony Music Video) - DVD-Video
Dizzy Gillespie / Charlie Parker - Town Hall Concert NYC 1945 (Universe) - Reissue
Doc Powell - Doc Powell (Telarc)
Echo Bay - Heart's Desire (Echo Bay Productions)
Eliane Elias - Around the City (Bluebird)
Ezio Pinza - An Enchanted Evening With (Living Era) - Reissue
Farina / Gray / McBride - Out Trios Volume 4: Almanac (Atavistic)
Frequency - Frequency (Thrill Jockey)
Gene Stone Quintet - Tenor Combustion (Rhombus)
Geri Allen - Timeless Portraits and Dreams (Telarc)
Gil Parris - Strength (215)
Gil Scott-Heron - Free Will (remastered) (Germany) (Rca Victor) - Reissue
Herbie Mann - Moon Dreams (ZYX) - Reissue
Hugh Maskela - Presents the Chisa Years: 1965-1975 (Rare and Unreleased) (England) (BBE) - Reissue
Hylozoists - Le Fin du Monde (Boompa)
Incognito - Tribes, Vibes and Scribes (Holland + 5 Bonus Tracks) (Universal) - Reissue
James Brown - Live at Montreux 1981 (RED) - DVD-Video
Jamie Saft Trio - Trouble: The Jamie Saft Trio Plays Bob Dylan (Tzadik)
Jazzamor - Travel (Hon + 2 Bonus Tracks) (HN) - Reissue
Jelly Roll Morton - Complete Library of Congress Recordings by Alan Lomax (Rounder) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Ken MacKintosh - Tribute to Ken MacKintosh (Living Era) - Reissue
Larry Coryell - Laid Back & Blues (Rhombus)
Lee Konitz - Indian Summer (Zyx) - Reissue
Lee Ritenour - Smoke 'n Mirrors (Concord)
Lifeforce Trio - Living Room (Plug)
Lullaby Baxter - Garden Cities of To-Morrow (Canada) (Boompa)
Lyle Lovett - Best of Live (WEA) - DVD-Video
McGill / Manring / Stevens - What We Do (Free Electric Sound) - 2+ CDs
Michel Petrucciani - Oracle's Destiny (Canada) (UMVD) - Reissue
Miff Mole - Miffology (Sounds of Yesteryear) - Reissue
Modern Jazz Quartet - Classic Concerts (England) (Fivefour) - Reissue
Nancy Wilson - Turned to Blue (Telarc)
Nina Simone - Legends (Sony International) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Paul Flaherty - Whirl of Nothingness (Family Vineyard)
Prince - Diamonds and Pearls (Rhino) - DVD-Video
Rachel Z - Love is the Power (+1 Bonus Track) (Hong Kong) (Universal) - Reissue
Richard Bona - Tiki (Decca)
Rick Holmstrom - Live at the Cafe Boogaloo (Tone Cool)
Roy Haynes - Whereas (Freyfus)
Ruth Etting - Love Me or Leave Me (Living Era) - Reissue
Sound in Action Trio - Gate (Atavistic)
Suzanne Vega - Live at Montreux 2004 (RED) - DVD-Video
Ted Nash - In the Loop (Palmetto)
Tex Beneke / Gene Krupa / Jerry Wald - Big Band (Select O Hits) - DVD-Video
Tommy Emmanuel - Mystery (Favored Nation)
Torcuato Mariano - Lift Me Up (215)
Town Hall Concert NYC 1945 - Charlie Parker / Dizzy Gillespie (Universal) - Reissue
Various Artists - John Fahey Tribute (Fantasy)
Various Artists - Armed Forces Radio 1938 (Request)
Various Artists - Armed Forces Radio 1942 (Request)
Various Artists - Armed Forces Radio 1947 (Request)
Various Artists - Armed Forces Radio 1952 (Request)
Various Artists - From the Big Apple to the Big Easy - The Concert for New Orleans (Rhino) - DVD-Video
Walter Beasley - Live (Shanachie)
Wayne Bergeron - Plays Well With Others (Concord)

Information provided by
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Thursday, August 17, 2006

CD Pairs Ray Charles Vocals With New Music

Disc combines 1970s recording with today's Count Basie orchestra

Ray Charles never performed with the late Count Basie when the two music legends were alive, but now they are being united in death.

Concord Records and Starbucks Hear Music said Wednesday they will release a disc this fall that combines vocals recorded by Charles during a concert in the mid-1970s with new music made by today’s Count Basie Orchestra.

Among the dozen cuts on “Ray Sings, Basie Swings” are “Busted,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” “The Long and Winding Road” and “Georgia on My Mind.”

The last project Charles recorded before his death on June 10, 2004 was the duets album “Genius Loves Company,” which earned eight Grammy Awards. It sold more than six million copies worldwide, making it the biggest-seller of his career.

While looking through a record company vault in late 2005, one of the “Genius Loves Company” producers came up with tapes marked “Ray/Basie.” The producer, John Burk, thought he’d found something to rewrite history.
While the acts had shared concert bills, it was believed they had never performed together.

The tapes turned out to contain a copy of Charles singing accompanied by his own orchestra, although the music was recorded so poorly it could barely be heard. Burk had the idea of pairing the vocal recordings with new instrumental backing.

Charles’ team isn’t even sure where or when the recordings were made, guessing it was sometime in the mid-1970s based on the repertoire.

Gregg Field, a drummer who toured and recorded with both Charles’ and Basie’s bands before Basie died in 1984, was brought in to build the new disc with computer editing. Field had to match Charles’ singing to the new band’s performance, often stretching or compacting the space between words in order to fit the tempo.

“It was like painting the Sistine Chapel with a Q-tip,” Field said.

Singer Patti Austin brought together and sang with a new group of Raelettes.

Joe Adams, Charles’ longtime manager who had worked with him for 49 years, said it was probably a timing issue that kept Charles and Basie apart despite their mutual respect.

“Ray was a stickler for rhythm and said Basie always called the exact right rhythm for every song and he never overplayed,” Adams said.

Since the musical marriage of Natalie Cole with her late father Nat King Cole on “Unforgettable,” technology has advanced to the point of making almost anything possible. Mashups, which marry artists and songs in odd combinations, have become an underground art form.

Adams said he will protect Charles’ legacy but he doesn’t know if the future holds any more such projects.

“This is the best use of technology, when we can bring an amazing Ray Charles performance — one of the best he ever had — and build a musical form around it,” Field said. “You would hope that the people charged with the custody of master recordings would respect the way they should be used.”

The disc will be released Oct. 3 at traditional retailers and at Starbucks stores, where more than 800,000 copies of “Genius Loves Company” have been sold.


Lee Ritenour | Smoke N' Mirrors

True to its intriguing and provocative title, Lee Ritenour's latest CD Smoke N' Mirrors takes listeners on a magical, multi-faceted global journey unlike any other in the legendary guitarist's three decade, nearly 40 album career. Inspired by his very first trip to South Africa in 2005, where he performed five hugely successful concerts at festivals in Johannesburg and Capetown, with Smoke N' Mirrors, Ritenour takes an expansive, polyrhythmic approach, working with musicians from South Africa, Cameroon-West Africa, Brazil, Columbia, Peru and India. Also joining him on this recording is an exciting mix of old friends who happen to be some of America's top jazz performers. Among those featured are pianists Dave Grusin and Patrice Rushen; drummer Vinnie Colaiuta; along with bassists John Patitiucci, Brian Bromberg, Abraham Laboriel and Richard Bona. There are eight percussionists on the record including Sheila E., Alex Acuna and Paulinho Da Costa and on tables is Satnam Ramgotra from India. Ever the innovator, Ritenour employs a total of 12 guitars, his most ever, to achieve what can only be described as sonic perfection. These include the Gibson Lee Ritenour Model and a wide variety of baritone, steel and high string guitars.

Smoke N' Mirrors also marks the American recording debut of South African singing sensation Zamajobe on three songs as well as the composing and recording debut of Ritenour's thirteen- year-old son Wesley, a highly talented drummer. Wes adds brushes to Zamajobe's original song, the exotic call and response anthem "Memeza," and also composed the graceful melody of the soulful and atmospheric "Stone Cool."

"The concept for the album came from a lot of different sources, all of which coalesced with my trip to South Africa," Ritenour says. "I'd been getting letters for years asking me to come and perform there. I did a lot of touring throughout the U.S., Asia and Europe during 2005, and everything timed nicely for me to play in Capetown and Johannesburg in late August after my Western European dates. While the festivals there included some American acts, I was more excited by the native African players and some of the most intoxicating percussion and rhythm guitar playing I'd ever heard. Over the years, I have become more and more attracted to African music, and this trip solidified that connection for me."

Ritenour's title Smoke N' Mirrors has a subtle political connotation, but on the creative side, it refers to some incredibly magical, serendipitous moments that occurred during the conception and recording process. The guitarist "discovered" the singer Zamajobe - a recent South African New Artist of the Year winner who had just released her hit debut album in that country--one restless night while watching TV in Capetown,. He saw several of her videos on South Africa's version of MTV and loved her voice, especially the difference when she sang English (with almost a Sade like quality) to when she performed in her native African language. Back in L.A., Rit contacted her label Sony BMG and soon was talking via email and phone to her guitar player and producer Eric Pilani. Through the magic of high speed internet and back and forth MP3 files, Rit was able to get her sensuous vocals on an Africanized version of Bill Withers' "Lovely Day" and an old school soul jazz take on Patrice Rushen's "Forget Me Nots" (which also features Rushen on vocals, Fender Rhodes and organ). Smoke N' Mirrors also features Zamajobe's original song "Memeza," a shorter version of which appeared on her own album.

Another unexpected hookup happened with singer/songwriter Daniel Jobim, grandson of Brazilian legend Antonio Carlos Jobim, whom Ritenour hadn't seen to in years. Rit had been looking for an original, authentic Brazilian tune for the project when he ran into Jobim by chance in L.A. The multi-talented performer sent Rit an MP3 file of the ultra-romantic "Blue Days (Dias Azuis"). Lee loved the tune and kept Jobim's original lead vocal on the final track. The song also includes additional lead vocals by Brazilian singing sensation Joyce, Rit on acoustic guitar, Grusin on piano, Patitucci on acoustic bass and Danilo Caymmi's tender flute. Other key tracks on the CD include: the hypnotic title track; a revisit of Grusin's Brazilian flavored 1989 song "Southwest Passage;" the spirited, guitar-driven songs "Capetown" and the "Township," "Water's Edge," which displays Ritenour's genius for masterful fingerstyling; "Spellbinder," featuring Bromberg's grooving bass and Indian born tabla master Satnam Ramgotra; and the electric rock-flavored "Motherland."

Growing up in L.A. in the 60's, Ritenour received a rich cross section of exposure to jazz, rock and Brazilian music - with artists like Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Kenny Burrell, The Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and Jobim, Astrud Gilberto, Sergio Mendes and Stan Getz, who helped introduce Brazilian music to the masses. Highlighting his eclectic and storied career is a rich history in the Brazilian realm which includes a Grammy win for Harlequin, his 1986 collaboration with Grusin (also voted by Jazziz Magazine as one of the Top Ten contemporary jazz albums of all time), producing the 1997 all-star project A Twist of Jobim, and the memorial tribute concert to Antonio Carlos Jobim at Lincoln Center, starring Sting, Herbie Hancock, Joao Gilberto and Caetano Veloso., among others.

Along with his emergence as a solo artist with his Epic albums First Course and Captain Fingers in the mid 70s, Ritenour's sideman days are the stuff of musical industry lore. His nearly 2,000 recordings include artists ranging from Paul Simon, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and Steely Dan to Herbie Hancock and Pink Floyd's The Wall. It was during that time he began his longtime association with Dave Grusin on soundtracks and other recordings, which reached a crescendo on Harlequin. In addition to the Grammy win for Harlequin, he has earned 17 Grammy nominations, numerous #1 spots in guitar polls and the prestigious "Alumnus of the Year" award from USC. Since the 70s, he has also been a huge presence in radio. In 1981, he scored the Top 15 hit "Is It You," featuring vocalist Eric Tagg, which has become a smooth jazz radio classic. His singles "Water to Drink" from 1997's Twist of Jobim and "Get Up Stand Up," from 2001's A Twist of Marley were both named #1 Radio and Records NAC airplay singles of their respective years.

In the 90s, he was a founding member of Fourplay, the most successful band in contemporary jazz, with keyboardist Bob James, bassist Nathan East and drummer Harvey Mason. The first Fourplay album in 1991 spent an unprecedented 33 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's contemporary jazz chart. In addition to producing his own recordings, Ritenour has produced the three highly successful Twist Of projects along with such artists as Eric Marienthal, Phil Perry and Vesta, which were released on his i.e. music label.

"While I have loved working on every album I've done throughout my career," he says, "there were all these magical things that happened along the way on Smoke N' Mirrors. Because of its scope, all of the musicians involved in the process, and the many guitar textures I chose to incorporate, the project took a total of eight months to complete. I was excited every step of the way by each aspect of the creative process, from composing and arranging, to recording and mixing. After producing well over 30 albums, I can tell when I'm onto something that will have enduring value and I can honestly say that on every level, Smoke N' Mirrors has been an extraordinary experience!

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Michael Manson | Just Feelin' It

Chicago Bass Player Releases 2nd CD September 12, 2006With the release of his previous CD, The Bottom Line, Michael Manson joined the ranks of today's premiere jazz artists as he moved from sideman to center stage.

His first single “Outer Drive” reached the top 10 on the R&R Smooth Jazz.

His passion and precision are displayed with both unrelenting power and laid-back grace on the album that, he says, “reflects the deepest expression of all I have felt making music for the last twenty years.”

For Michael Manson, the bottom line has always been great music. Since he first picked up a guitar (not a bass), he has moved persistently from strength to strength, one association leading inevitably to another in a career that has brought him front and center with the most esteemed names in jazz, gospel, R&B, rock and pop.

A native of Chicago, he joined City Lights and began performing regularly on Chicago's jazz circuit. In 1999, he was invited to play the Montreux Casino Lights Festival. Sharing the stage with the likes of Boney James, George Duke and Kirk Whalum, he made connections that would eventually lead to a spot performing on the Montreux Jazz Tour.

On Michael Manson's new CD Just Feelin' It, he is credited for writing and production. For this album Michael has collected the who's who of Smooth Jazz: Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum, Jeff Lorber, Brian Culbertson, Nelson Range, Norman Brown, Paul Jackson Jr., the legendary George Duke and many more great jazz musicians. This album is a great mix of contemporary jazz, R&B and even a little gospel.

For Michael Manson, love of musical communication, exploration, collaboration and celebration is clearly what it's all about. This sophomore release reflects Manson's unabating passion with joy and inspired artistry, “There are musical conversations that are intriguing and I hope the audience shares in that. But it is just great for musicians to communicate in thai way. That's the joy of music. To make great music like that every night, that's what it's all about.”

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Smooth Jazz Chart Top Ten | Week ended 8/14/06

TW LW Artist Title (Label)
1 - 1 - Peter White - "What Does It Take" (Columbia)
2 - 2 - Mindi Abair - "True Blue" (GRP/VMG)
3 - 5 - Wayman Tisdale - "Get Down On It" (Rendezvous)
4 - 3 - Nick Colionne - "Always Thinking Of You" (Narada Jazz/EMI)
5 - 6 - Euge Groove - "Chillaxin" (Narada Jazz/EMI)
6 - 4 - Philippe Saisse Trio - "Do It Again" (Rendezvous)
7 - 7 - Fourplay f/Michael McDonald - "My Love's Leavin'" (Bluebird/RCA Victor/RMG)
8 - 9 - David Benoit - "Full Circle" - (Peak)
9 - 8 - Pieces Of A Dream "Pillow Talk" - (Heads Up)
10 - 10 - The Jazzmasters - "Free As The Wind" - Trippin 'n Rhythm

Visit to view the latest complete top 50 chart.
Visit to view the latest weekly chart recap.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Love it or hate it, smooth jazz is here to stay

Call him pop, Call him jazz. Call him, if you must, a smooth operator. But whatever you do, don't call the music that trumpeter Chris Botti makes smooth jazz.

"We're not smooth jazz," Botti says, curtly.

Try telling that to the radio programmers who routinely put his cool compositions and covers into rotation, and the listeners who have scooped up more than a million copies of his discs, including his most recent effort, "To Love Again: The Duets."

Botti tries to be understanding. "To about 98 percent of the general public, if you put an instrument on the top and they can sort of figure out 'Well, you're playing in a little tiny club and it sounds like a math test' or 'You're playing bigger venues and it's pleasing,' then the second one is always going to be smooth jazz," he says. "It doesn't matter what's going on underneath."

By Sarah Rodman, BOSTON GLOBE

Click here to read the entire article

Rare Vintage Jazz On DVD

The Jazz Icons DVD series, slated for a Sept. 26 release by Reelin' In The Years Productions and TDK Recording Mefdia/Europe, presents archival filmed concerts by the most pivotal, influential jazz artists of the 20th century filmed in Europe from 1957-1978. The greatest legends of jazz are captured in their prime, accompanied by some of the most legendary side musicians of the day. Lost in the vaults of European television studios -- in some cases for nearly 50 years! -- the first nine titles include 60-90 minute performances by Thelonious Monk, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Count Basie, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Buddy Rich and Chet Baker.

None of the performances has ever been officially released, and, in many cases, the material never broadcast. Performances have been retransferred and remastered from the best-quality original masters, yielding excellent sound and video. Much as last year's phenomenal discovery of the Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall concert, which went on to sell over 200,000 CDs for Blue Note, this series is a major find and treasure to the world of recorded and filmed jazz music.

The Jazz Icons series is produced with the full support and cooperation of the artists or their estates. Each musician on stage is being paid, either directly or through the American Federation of Musicians. The DVDs include a 16-page booklet with an extensive essay written by an established jazz writer and historian, such as Ira Gitler, Michael Cuscuna, Will Friedwald or Rob Bowman, among others.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Mike Stern | Who Let The Cats Out?

Contemporary jazz gets hot when Mike Stern enters the room. His sessions are filled with adrenaline and made to last. This program of original compositions features an all-star crew of contemporary artists who provide the guitarist with a colorful palette. Excitement flows from every bar—and indeed every measure—of this exciting music.

”Tumble Home” features Bob Franceschini on tenor in a powerful, sizzling romp with Stern's guitar. “KT” follows with a muted Roy Hargrove trumpet in a smoother affair that nevertheless finds Stern wailing ferociously, allowing his guitar to carry the band away in an uplifting cry. When Hargrove re-enters with an open horn, the band takes on some of the best emotional output of the session, recalling some of the best music from one of the guitarist’s very first gigs: Blood, Sweat and Tears.

”Good Question” drives at a blazing fast tempo that allows the guitarist to flash his fiery technique, while “Language” slows the pace with Richard Bona’s unique bass and wordless vocal themes to let things mellow out. The slow ballad “We’re With You” features the harmonica of Gregoire Maret and finds Stern showering his audience with smooth jazz trappings. “Leni Goes Shopping,” one of the high points of the album, follows with a hip look at the way rhythm and melody affect our moods; Stern plays in a quartet with Jim Beard, Chris Minh Doky and Kim Thompson.

”Roll With It” and “Who Let the Cats Out?” sparkle with intensity as Stern pushes jazz/rock to the limits of anxiety. Who needs caffeine? ”Texas” and “Blue Runway” find the guitarist stretching out with passion on his sleeve, while “All You Need” circles the band with gospel. These days, since album tracks are sometimes marketed as single downloads, it’s nice to know which ones stand out. On Who Let the Cats Out?, however, every one is a winner.

Visit Mike Stern on the web.
Mike Stern at All About Jazz.

Track listing: Tumble Home; KT; Good Question; Language; We’re With You; Leni Goes Shopping; Roll With It; Texas; Who Let the Cats Out?; All You Need; Blue Runway.

Personnel: Mike Stern: guitar; Roy Hargrove: trumpet; Bob Franceschini, Bob Malach: tenor saxophone; Gregoire Maret: harmonica; Jim Beard: piano, organ, synthesizer, clavinet; Chris Minh Doky, Meshell Ndegeocello, Victor Wooten, Anthony Jackson: bass; Richard Bona: bass, vocals; Dave Weckl, Kim Thompson: drums.

Jim Santella -

New Releases | August

Patricia Barber, Mythologies [Blue Note, 8/15]
Ray Barretto, Standards Rican-ditioned [ZOHO Music L.L.C., 8/15]
Mike Stern, Who Laaet The Cats Out? [Heads Up International, 8/15]
Willie Bobo, Lost and Found [Concord Jazz 8/15]
Jean Luc Ponty, Individual Choice [Wounded Bird, 8 /15]
Jean Luc Ponty, Open Mind [Wounded Bird, 8/15]
Jean Luc Ponty, Aurora [Wounded Bird, 8/15]
Jean Luc Ponty, Fables [Wounded Bird, 8/15]
McCoy Tyner, Looking Out [WOunded Bird, 8/15]
Rick Braun, V 1 Sessions [8/15]
Don Ellis, Music From Other Galaxies & Planets [8/15]
Jan Hammer, Melodies [Wounded Bird Records, 8/15]
Hazeltine/Mraz Trio, Manhattan [Telarc, 8/15]
Jonas Hellborg, Abstract Logic [8/15]
Lenny White, Big City [Wounded Bird Records, 8/15]
Maria Muldaur, Love Songs of Bob Dylan [Telarc]
Lee Ritenour, Smoke N' Mirrors [Peak Records, 8/22]
Geri Allen, Timeless Portraits And Dreams [Telarc, 8 / 22]
Richard Bona, Tiki [Decca, 8/22]
Walter Beasley, Live [Shanachie Records, 8/22]
Doc Powell, S/T [Heads Up International, 8/22]
Torcuato Mariano, Lift Me Up [215 Records, 8/22]
Gil Parris, Strength [215 Records, 8/22]
Dave Brubeck, TBA [Telarc]
Nancy Wilson, Turned Blue [Telarc, 8/22]
Joe Sample and Randy Crawford, Feeling Good [Universal, 8/22]
Fred Martin & The Levite Camp, Some Bridges [Concord, 8/29]
Brazilian Girls, TBD [Verve Forecast, 8/29]

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Upcoming Jazz Releases | 8/15/06

Upcoming Jazz Releases

Mon 14-Aug-2006

Barbara Dennerlein - Best of (Germany) (Universal)
Chet Baker & Russ Freeman Baker - Grand Encounter (England) (Giant Steps) - Reissue
Richard Bona / Sadao Watanabe - One for You: Sadao & Bona Live (EMI)

Tue 15-Aug-2006

Alex Machacek - [sic] (Abstract Logix)
Annie Ross - Cool for Kids (Original Cast Recording)
Anton Schwartz - Radiant Blue (Anton Jazz)
Antonio Carlos Jobim - In Concert (Holland) (Blaricum) - Reissue
Art Hodes - Glad to Be Here (Solo Art)
Astor Piazolla - Piazolla en Suite (Holland) (Astor Piazolla Collection) - Reissue
Benny Goodman - 1948-1949 (Classics Records Fr) - Reissue
Bill Doggett - 1954 (Classics R&B) - Reissue
Billie Holiday - Triple Treasures (Netherlands) (Triple Treasures) - Reissue
Brill - Song for Aa. (Boheme)
Brisa Roche - Chase (Capitol)
Brothers Nash - Juntos (Fresh Sounds)
Bruce Arkin - Wake Up (Fresh Sound New Talent)
Bruce Saunders - 8 X 5 (Mel Bay)
Buck Clayton - Vol. 2 - 1953 (Classics) - Reissue
Buck Clayton - Live at the Embers (Iajrc)
Californian Ramblers - 1920's Flapper Party (Sounds of Yesteryear) - Reissue
Charlie Parker - Town Hall Concert 1945...Plus (City Hall) - Reissue
Chicagoans Live in Concert Meriden Ct, 1969 - Eddie Condon/Marian McPartland (Jazzology)
Condon / Davison - Jam Session / Eddie's Blues (Jazzology) - Reissue
Condon / McPartland - Chicagoans Live in Concert CT 1969 (Jazzology) - Reissue
Count Basie - Triple Treasures (Netherlands) (Triple Treasures) - Reissue
Danny Weiss - Sweet Spot (Marshmellow Records)
David Benoit - Standards (Kind of Blue)
David Berger & Sultans of Swing - Hindustan (Such Sweet Thunder)
Debbi - Caliban Does Christmas (ATMA Classique)
Dexter Gordon - Great Encounters (Wounded Bird) - Reissue
Dizzy Gillespie / Charlie Parker - Town Hall Concert 1945...Plus (Universe - City Hall) - Reissue
Don Ellis - Music from Other Galaxies and Planets (Wounded Bird) - Reissue
Donald Byrd - Royal Flush (RVG) (Blue Note) - Reissue
Eddie Condon - Jazz As It Should Be Played (Jazzology) - Reissue
Eddie Condon - Jam Session / Eddie's Blues (City Hall) - Reissue
Edmond Hall - Flyin' High 1949-1959 (Iajrc) - Reissue
Eli Degibri - Emotionally Available (Fresh Sound New Talent)
Ella Fitzgerald - Singing the Jazz 1950-1955 (Fremaux & Assoc/) - Reissue
Eric Alexander - One for All (City Hall)
George Chisholm - Along the Chisholm Trail (Progressive)
Gerry Mulligan Sextet - Fabulous Mulligan Sextet (Fresh Sound) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Gordon Jenkins With His Orchestra - Presents Marshall Royal (Empire) - Reissue
Hank Mobley - Another Workout (RVG) (Blue Note) - Reissue
Hironobu Saito - Sea (Fresh Sound New Talent)
Howard Alden - Live at the Smithsonian Jazz Cafe (City Hall) - DVD-Video
Ike Quebec - Might as Well Be Sprint (RVG) (Blue Note) - Reissue
Jan Hammer - Melodies (Wounded Bird) - Reissue
Jean-Luc Ponty - Aurora (Wounded Bird) - Reissue
Jean-Luc Ponty - Fables (Wounded Bird) - Reissue
Jean-Luc Ponty - Individual Choice (Wounded Bird) - Reissue
Jean-Luc Ponty - Open Mind (Wounded Bird) - Reissue
Jerry Hahn - Hahn Solo (Jerry Hahn)
Jim Cutler - In Progress (Pony Boy)
Joachim Kuhn - Sometime Ago (New Edition)
Joe Herilhy - Edison Hot Dance Obscurities Vol. 3 (Jazz Oracle) - Reissue
John Abercrombie - Structures (Telarc) - SACD
John McCormack - Star-Spangled Banner (Golden Opt) - Reissue
John Williams - Jazz Beginnings 1956-58 (Fresh Sounds) - Reissue
Johnny Griffin - Congregation (Blue Note) - Reissue
Jon Appleton & Don Cherry - Human Music (Italy) (Water) - Reissue
Jonas Hellborg - Abstract Logic (Bardo)
Joyce Breach - Live in London (City Hall)
Kenny Dorham - Trompeta Toccata (Blue Note) - Reissue
Kern / Porter / Warren / Young - Going It Alone (Cube Bohemia) - Reissue
Laika Fatien - Look at Me Now! (City Hall)
Lee Gagnon Quartet - Jazze Canadienne (England) (Harkit) - Reissue
Lee Morgan - Cooker (Blue Note) - Reissue
Lenny White - Big City (Wounded Bird) - Reissue
Lionel Hampton - 1951-1953 (Classics Records Fr) - Reissue
Lisa Ono - Jambalaya: Bossa Americana (EMI)
Louis Armstrong - Triple Treasures (Netherlands) (Triple Treasures) - Reissue
Luis Munoz - Vida (Pelin)
Maria Muldaur - Heart of Mine: Love Songs of Bob Dylan (Telarc)
Mark Masters - Wish Me Well (Capri) - SACD
Marvin Johnson - Jumpin' Jive Complete 1946-51 (Blue Moon) - Reissue
Max Wagner - This Can't Be Love (Capri)
McCoy Tyner - Looking Out (Wounded Bird) - Reissue
McCoy Tyner - McCoy Tyner and the Latin Jazz Allstars (Telarc) - Reissue
Memphis Slim - Aux Trois Mailletz (Verve) - Reissue
Mike Stern - Who Let the Cats Out? (Heads Up)
Mikkel Ploug - Mikkel Ploug Quartet (Fresh Sound New Talent)
Moe Staiano - Piece #7 (Rastacan)
Nando Michelin - When Einstein Dreams (Double Time Jazz)
Newport Jazz Festival All Stars - Newport Jazz Festival All Stars (Geneon) - DVD-Video
One for All & Eric Alexander - Lineup (Sharp Nine)
Oscar Peterson - Vol. 3 - 1952 (Classics) - Reissue
Patricia Barber - Mythologies (Blue Note)
Paul Robeson - Ol Man River (Golden Opt) - Reissue
Paul Whiteman - Whiteman Stomp (Sounds of Yesteryear) - Reissue
Peanuts Whalum - Peanuts Whalum (Rendezvous)
Phil Wilson - The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim (Capri)
Phillip Wilson Project - Steel & Breath (New Edition)
Previn / Rogers - In Collaboration (Fresh Sounds) - Reissue
Ray Anthony - Juke Box Special (Montpelier) - Reissue
Rick Braun - Sessions Vol. 1 (ARTizen Entertainment)
Ronnie Scott - Great Scott (Giant Step) - Reissue
Sherman Irby / Organomics - Organ Starter (Black Warrior)
Stan Kenton - 1951-1952 (Classics Records Fr) - Reissue
Stanley Clarke - Standards (Kind of Blue)
The Commanders Big Band - The Commanders Big Band (Montpelier) - Reissue
The Crusaders - 2nd Crusade (Blue Thumb) - Reissue
The Crusaders - Crusaders 1 (Blue Thumb) - Reissue
Tiziana Simona - Flakes (New Edition)
Various Artists - True Audiophile: Best of Groove Note (Groove Note)
Various Artists - Legends of Jazz With Ramsey Lewis 2 (LRS Media) - DVD-Video
Various Artists - Newport Jazz Festival All Stars (Geneon) - DVD-Video
Willie Bobo - Lost & Found (Concord)
Xaviera - Still Shining (CD Baby)

Fri 18-Aug-2006

Jamie Cullum - Catching Tales (Universal)
Paul Anka - Rock Swings (Universal)
Voodoo Mountain Zydeco - Sugar Skulls

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Conrad Herwig wins Jazz Award 2006

This year’s Paul Acket Award ‘Artist Deserving Wider Recognition’ (formerly Bird Award) has been granted to trombonist Conrad Herwig. This prize, presented at the North Sea Jazz Festival, is intended for an artist who, according to the jury, deserves the attention of a broader audience.

Jazz connoisseurs consider Conrad Herwig as one of the most prominent jazz trombonists. More than a musician, he has also been active as a composer, arranger, band-leader and educator. Herwig, who started his musical career in Clark Terry’s Big Band, is a trombone virtuoso who applies that capacity economically but effectively to fit the circumstances. As a much in demand side-man, with a.o. Joe Henderson, Eddie Palmieri, Mingus Big Band and Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, he makes his talent subservient to the music. Because of his broad knowledge of repertoire and flexible, personal sound he adds beautiful colors to any ensemble he performs with. In the last few years he has gained more recognition with his own projects, which he not only has initiated but also dominates as an arranger.

His latest release Another Kind of Blue – The Latin Side of Miles Davis was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2005. It’s the follow-up of the Grammy nominated CD The Latin Side of John Coltrane (1998). Next to these special projects he has also released a large number of solo albums, especially on the Dutch Criss Cross Jazz label.

His talents as a musical educator shouldn’t go unmentioned. He offers clinics, work-shops and master classes all over the world. All these qualifications led the jury to granting the Paul Acket Award ‘Artist Deserving Wider Recognition’ to Conrad Herwig. At the North Sea Jazz Festival Conrad Herwig played in Eddie Palmieri’s band.

Duke Jordan, 84, Jazz Pianist Who Helped to Build Bebop, Dies

Duke Jordan, a pianist whose work with the saxophonist Charlie Parker endures in the jazz canon, died on Tuesday in Valby, Denmark, a suburb of Copenhagen. He was 84, and he had lived in self-imposed exile from the United States since 1978, continuing to perform in the musical tradition he helped create.

His death was confirmed by Alistair Thomson, a spokesman for the United States Embassy in Denmark.

Mr. Jordan was regarded as one of the great early bebop pianists. The sound that he helped to create in the postwar era was something new in the American landscape, and it remains a cornerstone of jazz.

Read entire article by Tim Weiner

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Smooth Jazz Chart Top Ten | Week Ended 8/7/06

TW LW Wks Artist Title (Label)
1 - 1 - 10 - Peter White - "What Does It Take" (Columbia)
2 - 2 - 20 - Mindi Abair - "True Blue" (GRP/VMG)
3 - 4 - 27 - Nick Colionne - "Always Thinking Of You" (Narada Jazz/EMI)
4 - 3 - 17 - Wayman Tisdale - "Get Down On It" (Rendezvous)
5 - 6 - 21 - Euge Groove - "Chillaxin" (Narada Jazz/EMI)
6 - 7 - 29 - Philippe Saisse Trio - "Do It Again" (Rendezvous)
7 - 8 - 8 - Fourplay f/Michael McDonald - "My Love's Leavin'" (Bluebird/RCA Victor/RMG)
8 - 5 - 30 - Brian Culbertson - "Let's Get Started" - (GRP/VMG)
9 - 12 - 5 - The Jazzmasters - "Free As The Wind" - Trippin 'n Rhythm
10 - 10 - 15 - Corinne Bailey Rae - "Put Your Records On" (Capitol)

Visit to view the latest complete charts.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Patrick Yandall | Somoa Soul

Considering the overly corporate approach taken in the 2000s to smooth jazz playlists, you've got to give indie troopers like this San Diego-based guitarist credit for hanging in there. No matter the brilliance or raves given to Patrick Yandall's five previous releases, he's still not quite a household name in the genre, but each time out, he easily surpasses himself compositionally (all-important in this hook happy genre) and as a performer. Though the title of this collection might inspire visions of grooving on a charming Pacific Island, the music on Samoa Soul is all hip, mostly electric, deliriously funky (when its not cool and laid-back), and in-the-pocket smooth jazz with hints of gospel and Latin. Yandall's also showing exciting chops as a producer, surrounding his snappy melody on the opening title track with horn sizzle and a moody retro-soul ambience. The bluesy approach and crisp mix of acoustic and electric strings on "Fade to Black" brings to mind Larry Carlton, while he applies a sizzling Latin authenticity (and some incredibly rich, melodic keyboard work) to Tom Browne's oft-covered "Funkin' for Jamaica." Joining the more mainstream smooth jazz selections (and somewhat superfluous cover of "Sailing") are more adventurous tracks like the Brazilian-lite "Who's the Bossa" and the playful, happy rocker "The Beat Generation." With any luck, Samoa Soul will be Yandall's long-awaited breakthrough onto the A-list of smooth jazz stars. It's one of the best indie releases of the genre in 2006. ~ Jonathan Widran, All Music Guide

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Nick Colionne | Keepin' It Cool

Nick Colionne sounds like a lot of guys. You'll hear a bit of George Benson here and a snatch of Wes Montgomery there, Jonathan Butler or Earl Klugh somewhere else. But that doesn't mean Colionne isn't original. It's just obvious that his style of playing has been influenced by other guitar greats.

Colionne has been releasing albums since 1994, but Keepin' It Cool, his first release on a major label, is his big coming-out party. Featuring backing by professional session musicians and more hooks than a fisherman's convention, this record should effectively broaden his audience.

Colionnne benefits tremendously from a crystal-clear mix which places his guitar front and center on the lead-off track, “Can You Feel It.” The funky “Keepin' It Cool” and ”Always Thinking of You” which follow make apparent the plan for this album: keep it moving, keep it short (no song is over five minutes in length), and give Colionne plenty of opportunities to showcase his technique.

The album does have a minor drawback: it's too calculated and overly radio-friendly. On a few too many songs, the music just trails off, even while Colionne is still playing. The seeming desire to fit in the tight format of smooth jazz radio effectively limits Colionne from flexing his musical muscles. There's nothing here that really demands that the listener lean forward and pay attention to the music. Too often Colonne plays it safe, leading to an abundance of sameness, with little to distinguish one tune from another.

Colionne deserves credit for avoiding the quick fix of a hit pop cover or cooing female backup vocalists. He does take a stab at the Brook Benson classic “Rainy Night In Georgia,” where he adds some very nice vocals.

There's no doubt that Colionne can play. Hopefully, Keepin' It Cool will do well, and next time out Colionne will push both himself and the listener a bit more than he does here. While it's possible what you hear is what you get from Nick Colionne, I still have a nagging doubt that he's holding back. We've heard what he can do to keep it cool. Maybe next time he will show what he can do to make it hot.

Visit Nick Colionne on the web.

Track listing: Can You Feel it; Keepin' It Cool; Always Thinking of You; If You Ask Me; You were There For Me; This Is the Song; John L; From Me to You; A Moment With You; Liquid; Catch Me; Rainy Day in Georgia; High Flyin'.

Personnel: Nick Colionne: guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards, programming, bass, vocals; John Biasucci: keyboards, programming, Hammond B-3; Richard Patterson: bass; Khari Parker: drums, Lenny Castro: percussion; Ricky Peterson: Hammond B-3; Larry Kohut: bass; Steve Cole: keyboards, programming, tenor sax, flute; Alan Hinds: rhythm guitar; Johnathan DuBose Jr.: rhythm guitar, Dale Prasco: accoustic guitar; Chris Miskel: drums; Joe Rendon: percussion; Mike Logan: piano. Fender Rhodes; Dave Hiltebrand: bass.

By Jeff Winbush -

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Monday, August 07, 2006

New Releases | August

Roy Haynes, Whereas [8/8]
Fourplay, X [RCA, 8/8]
Pat Martino, Starbright/Joyous Lake [8/8]
Thom Rotella, A Day In The Life [Trippin "N" Rhythm Records, 8/8]
Yellowjackets, Mirage A Trois / Club Nocturne [8/8]
Mitchel Forman, Perspectives (Available for *dowload) [8/10]
Patricia Barber, Mythologies [Blue Note, 8/15]
Ray Barretto, Standards Rican-ditioned [ZOHO Music L.L.C., 8/15]
Mike Stern, Who Laaet The Cats Out? [Heads Up International, 8/15]
Willie Bobo, Lost and Found [Concord Jazz 8/15]
Rick Braun, V 1 Sessions [8/15]
Don Ellis, Music From Other Galaxies & Planets [8/15]
Jan Hammer, Melodies [Wounded Bird Records, 8/15]
Hazeltine/Mraz Trio, Manhattan [Telarc, 8/15]
Jonas Hellborg, Abstract Logic [8/15]
Lenny White, Big City [Wounded Bird Records, 8/15]
Maria Muldaur, Love Songs of Bob Dylan [Telarc]
Lee Ritenour, Smoke N' Mirrors [Peak Records, 8/22]
Joe Sample & Randy Crawford, Feeling Good "Import" [Universal, 8/22]
Geri Allen, Timeless Portraits And Dreams [Telarc, 8 / 22]
Richard Bona, Tiki [Decca, 8/22]
Walter Beasley, Live [Shanachie Records, 8/22]
Doc Powell, S/T [Heads Up International, 8/22]
Torcuato Mariano, Lift Me Up [215 Records, 8/22]
Gil Parris, Strength [215 Records, 8/22]
Dave Brubeck, TBA [Telarc]
Nancy Wilson, Turned Blue [Telarc, 8/22]
Joe Sample and Randy Crawford, Feeling Good [Universal, 8/22]
Fred Martin & The Levite Camp, Some Bridges [Concord, 8/29]
Brazilian Girls, TBD [Verve Forecast, 8/29]

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Upcoming Jazz Releases | 8/8/06

Upcoming Jazz Releases

Mon 07-Aug-2006

Amalia Rodrigues - Coimbra (Sound of W)
Benny Goodman - Stompin' At Savoy (Jazz Hour) - Reissue
Fatboy Slim - Ya Mama (Japan) (Epic) - Reissue
Nina Rosso - Il Silenzio (Remember R) - Reissue
Nina Simone - Wonderful Music of (Netherlands) (BCD) - Reissue
The Toby Wren Trio - Umlaut (Pinnacles Music)
Urbie Green - Indigo Moods (Jazz Hour) - Reissue
Winifred Atwell - Black & White Rag (England) (Living Era) - Reissue

Tue 08-Aug-2006

Anton Schwartz - Radiant Blue (Antonjazz)
Barnacled - 6 (Corleone)
Barry Harris - Live from New York 1 (Lineage) - Reissue
Bireli Lagrene - Live in Marciac / Blue Eyes (Dreyfus)
Bobby Short - Live at Cafe Carlyle (Collectables) - Reissue
Chick Corea / Gary Burton - Live at Montreux 1997 (RED) - DVD-Video
David Berger - Harlem Nutcracker (Such Sweet Thunder) - Reissue
David Berger & Sultans of Swing - Doin' the Do (Such Sweet Thunder) - Reissue
David Grisman Quartet - David Grisman Quartet Live (Koch) - DVD-Video
David Grisman Quartet - Live (Koch) - DVD-Video
Dinah Washington - Collection (Germany) (EMI Gold) - Reissue
Duke Ellington - Early Tracks from the Master of Swing (Music Video Distributors) - DVD-Video
Fred Hess - How 'Bout Now (Tapestry)
Harri Stojka - Tribute to Gypsy Swing (Zoho)
Horace Silver - Doodlin' (England) (Proper) - Reissue
Jack Hylton - Last Round Up 5 (Vocalion) - Reissue
Jazzy Devils - 2 Hott! (True Life Jazz)
John Hollenbeck - Joys & Desires (Intuition)
Johnny Smith - Johnny Smith Meets the Master Saxes (England) (Proper) - Reissue
Lee Konitz - Inventions (Omnitone)
Lee Konitz - New Nonet (Omnitone)
Legends - High Towers (Arf! Arf!)
Mellani Day - Mostly True (Mellani Day)
Minsarah - Minsarah (Enja/Justin-Time)
Modern Jazz Quartet - At Music Inn 2 (Collectables) - Reissue
Peter Herbotzheimer Orchestra - Cutting Down to Brass Tacks (Alanna)
Peter Sommer - Sioux Country (Tapestry)
Ray Barretto - Standards Rican-ditioned (Zoho)
Scott Whitfield - Live at Charlie O's (Summit)
Skip Martin - Miles High (Sound Success)
V. Ghielmi / E. Reijseger / Suonar Parlante - Full of Colour (Winter & Winter)
Various Artists - Jazz Shots: East Coast Vol. 2 (Music Video Distributors) - DVD-Video
Various Artists - Jazz Shots: East Coast Vol. 3 (Music Video Distributors) - DVD-Video
Various Artists - Jazz Shots: West Coast Vol. 2 (Music Video Distributors) - DVD-Video
Various Artists - Jazz Shots: West Coast Vol. 3 (Music Video Distributors) - DVD-Video
Werner Muller - Latin Splendor of On the Move (Vocalion) - Reissue
Willie Pooch - Willie Pooch's Funk 'n' Blues (Summit)
Wishbone Ash - The Live Broadcasts (Classic Rock Legends) - DVD-Video

Sun 13-Aug-2006

Django Reinhardt - Djangology (Japan) (BMG) - Reissue

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