Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween !

Smooth Jazz Chart | Week Ended 10/30/06

LW TW Artist Album (Label)
1 - 1 - Boney James - "Shine" - (Concord)
2 - 2 - George Benson & Al Jarreau - "Givin' It Up" (Concord)
3 - 3 - Paul Hardcastle - "Jazzmasters V" (Trippin 'n Rhythm)
4 - 4 - Pieces Of A Dream "Pillow Talk" - (Heads Up)
5 - 5 - Peter White - "Playin' Favorites" (Columbia)
8 - 6 - David Benoit - "Full Circle" - (Peak)
6 - 7 - Eric Darius - "Just Getting Started" (Narada Jazz)
7 - 8 - Fourplay - "X" (Bluebird/RCA Victor)
9 - 9 - Wayman Tisdale - "Way Up" (Rendezvous)
10 - 10 - Marion Meadows - "Dressed To Chill" - (Heads Up)

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Upcoming Jazz Releases | 10/31/06

Upcoming Jazz Releases

Ben Riley - Memories of T (Concord)
Bob Dylan - Dylan Speaks: The 1965 Press Conference (RED) - DVD-Video
Buddy Guy - Can't Quit the Blues (Box Set) (Sony) - DVD-Video
Chico Hamilton - Quintet in Hi Fi (Japan) (Virgin) - Reissue
Dave Brubeck Trio and Octet - Brubeck in Wonderland (England) (Five Four) - Reissue
Don Cherry - Human Music (Italy) (City Hall) - Reissue
Duke Ellington - Money Jungle (Japan) (Virgin) - Reissue
EGEA Orchestra - Di Mezzo Il Mare (Italy) (EGEA)
Elizabeth Shepherd Trio - Start to Move (Canada)
Fiona Joy Hawkins - Angel Above My Piano (Coopermarket)
Frank Sinatra - Reflections (Navarre) - Reissue - DVD-Video
George Evans - Bewitched (M-Swing)
Hadda Brooks - Femme Fatale (UK) (Ace)
Jackie McLean - Quintet (Japan) (Virgin) - Reissue
Jeff Healey - Adventures in Jazzland (Canada) - Reissue
Jeff Healey - Among Friends (Canada) - Reissue
Jimi Hendrix - Feedback (Navarre) - DVD-Video
Joel & The Outsiders - Proximity (Canada) (xxi-21)
Julie London - All Through the Night (Japan) (Virgin) - Reissue
Kyle Bruckmann's Wrack - Intents & Purposes (482 Music)
Lorenzo Hengeller & Suo Quartetto - Il Giovanotto Matto (Polo Sud)
Marieve Herrington - Blossoming (Canada)
Mark Eisenman - Apparition (Cornerstone)
Michel Godard / Patrice Heral / Franck Tortillier - Impertinance (CAM Jazz)
Milt Jackson - Bags' Opus (Japan) (Virgin) - Reissue
Mongolian Jetset - Beauty Came to Us in Stone (Jazzland)
Montoliu / Morales - Historia De Un Amor (Blue Moon Jazz Argentina)
Mora's Modern Rhythmists - Devil's Serenade (Mr. Ace)
Nat King Cole - Love is the Thing (Virgin) - Reissue
NBillie Holiday - Defiinitive Gold (CD + DVD) (Deja Vu)
Nguyen Le - Miracles (Canada( (Emarcy) - Reissue
Nguyen Le - Zanzibar (Canada) (Emarcy) - Reissue
Nina Simone - Remixed and Reimagined (RCA Legacy)
No Name Jazz Sextet - Plunger (Canada)
Paul Quinichette - Like Basie (Mighty Quinn)
Phil Lesh & Friends - Live at the Warfield Theater (Image) - DVD-Video
Quincy Jones - American Masters (Softm) - DVD-Video
Rhoada Gianelli - It Was Only a Dream (Rock Bottom)
Ronnie Scott - Great Scott: Birth Of a Legend (Giant Steps) - Reissue
Serge Chaloff - Blue Serge (Japan) (Virgin) - Reissue
Si Zentner, Ralph Marterie - Big Band (Select O Hits) - DVD-Video
Sisters Euclid (Featuring Kevin Breit) - Faith Cola (Canada) (Poverty Pl)
Sonny Stitt - Plays (Japan) (Virgin) - Reissue
Sue Raney - Songs for a Raney Day (Japan) (Virgin) - Reissue
Tex Beneke / Gene Krupa / Jerry Wald - Big Band (Select O Hits) - DVD-Video
The Beatles - She Loves You (Music Video Distributors) - DVD-Video
The Who - Live at Isle of Wight 1970 (RED) - DVD-Video
Todd - Mass in Blue (UK) (Signum)
Van Morrison - Live at Montreux 1980 & 1974 (RED) - DVD-Video
Various Artists - Jazz Icons (9 DVD Box Set) (TDK) - DVD-Video
Zoot Sims - In Paris (Virgin) - Reissue

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Lington Gives Popular Song the Smooth Jazz Treatment

Saxophonist Michael Lington became a fan of American jazz while growing up in his native Denmark. It was a passion so strong that he eventually settled down in the U.S. and launched a recording career. In a recent interview with VOA's Doug Levine, Michael Lington spoke about his newly-acquired solo fame and his latest album, A Song For You, dedicated to some very special pop classics.

It seems like everybody is going back to their musical roots these days. But it isn't often that a tribute come from a jazz instrumentalist. For Michael Lington, it was the chance of a lifetime to go into the studio and re-work some of the biggest hits of the 1970s and '80s.

"This album is terribly exciting," says Mr. Lington. "It's a dream come true, really. Thinking about how impossible it seemed to do an album with a full orchestra, with [producer] Randy Waldman, and my dream band. Realizing that that actually did happen, it's a pretty amazing feeling."

"When I was 14, I just got so influenced by jazz and R&B, and singers, and singers-songwriters, and I lost interest with the clarinet, basically," he adds. "I didn't hear David Sanborn play the clarinet. I didn't hear Grover Washington, Junior, play the clarinet. I didn't hear Michael Brecker play the clarinet. So to me, I started getting really interested in that [saxophone] sound. And it was in the same family of instruments. Basically, it was just a natural progression that I was growing up and I got interested in another style."

It's been a long time since Michael Lington made the switch from clarinet to saxophone, but with encouragement from producer Randy Waldman and a week's worth of practice, he performed a clarinet solo on the intro to "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word."

Even with such non-traditional arrangements, Lington is hearing only good things about his new release.

"What's interesting about it is that people outside the format, people that may not know about me or 'smooth jazz' react in an amazing way, very positively to this album," he says. "Because not only are they songs they are familiar with but the whole treatment is very classic and very non-genre driven. It's just music."

Michael Lington's A Song For You provides a nostalgic return to the peak of pop music's singer-songwriter era. It was a time when the charts were dominated by Elton John, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon and Carole King, whose hit song "It's Too Late" only seems to get better with age.


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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hacker unlocks Apple music download protection

A hacker who as a teen cracked the encryption on DVDs has found a way to unlock the code that prevents iPod users from playing songs from download music stores other than Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes, his company said on Tuesday.

Jon Lech Johansen, a 22-year-old Norway native who lives in San Francisco, cracked Apple's FairPlay copy-protection technology, said Monique Farantzos, managing director at DoubleTwist, the company that plans to license the code to businesses.

"What he did was basically reverse-engineer FairPlay," she said. "This allows other companies to offer content for the iPod."

At the moment, Apple aims to keep music bought from its iTunes online music store only available for Apple products, while songs bought from other online stores typically do not work on iPods.

Jon Lech JohansenBut Johansen's technology could help rivals sell competing products that play music from iTunes and offer songs for download that work on iPods as they seek to take a bite out of Apple's dominance of digital music.

ITunes commands an 88 percent share of legal song downloads in the United States, while the iPod dominates digital music player sales with more than 60 percent of the market.

Cupertino, California-based Apple, whose profits have soared in recent years on the strength of the iPod, declined to comment.

Johansen, known as DVD Jon, gained fame when at the age of 15 he wrote and distributed a program that cracked the encryption codes on DVDs. This allowed DVDs to be copied and played back on any device.

His latest feat could help companies such as Microsoft Corp., Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., which have all announced plans over the past few months for music download services combined with new devices to challenge Apple.


Read related:
Business Week article: Apple, Tear Down This Wall
Wikipedia: Jon Lech Johansen

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

George Benson, Al Jarreau | Givin' It Up - In Stores Today!

This much anticipated CD offers a harmonic convergence of superstars when signer/guitarist/songwriter George Benson teams with vocalist extraordinaire/songwriter Al Jarreau for Givin' It Up. Friends and label-mates for over three decades, this outing marks the first time that the two artists, both multiple Grammy winners with gold and platinum selling albums, have recorded together as equal partners.

This much-anticipated 13 track recording features each of the stars on a new arrangement of one of the other's biggest hits. Jarreau adding lyrics to and singing Benson's signature instrumental smash "Breezin", while the legendary jazz guitarist delivers a lovely instrumental version of the singer's eternally charming hit "Mornin". Givin' it Up also includes delicious covers of Seals & Crofts' "Summer Breeze" and Hall & Oates' (and Paul Young smash) "Every Time You Go Away," as well as stunning new jazz vocal versions of the Miles Davis classics "four" and "Long Come Tutu".

Givin' It Up was recorded between April and June 2006. Serendipitously, pop legend Paul McCartney happened to be in the studio next door during one session and dropped in to join Benson and Jarreau on an impromptu romp through Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home To me." Neo soul diva, Jill Scott, performs Billie Holiday's timeless "God Bless the Child." Rounding out the album is an instrumental take on John Legend's Grammy award winning soul smash, "Ordinary People", and four new compositions, including a new Jarreau and Barry Eastmond composition, "Let it Rain," which features Patti Austin and Chris Botti.

Givin’ It Up Track Listing

1. Breezin’ (Bobby Womack/Al Jarreau) - (5:40)
2. Morning (Al Jarreau/David Foster/Jay Graydon) - (5:02)
3. ‘Long Came Tutu (Marcus Miller/Al Jarreau) - (6:37)
4. God Bless the Child (Billie Holiday/Arthur Herzog Jr.) - (3:40)
5. Summer Breeze (Darrell Crofts/Jimmy Seals) - (5:01)
6. All I Am (Rex Rideout/Phillip Taj Jackson) - (3:23)
7. Ordinary People (John Legend/will.i.am) - (5:18)
8. Let It Rain (Al Jarreau/Barry Eastmond) - (4:54)
9. Givin’ It Up for Love (Al Jarreau/Freddie Ravel) - (3:57)
10. Every Time You Go Away (Darryl Hall) - (4:30)
11. Four (Miles Davis/Jon Hendricks) - (5:15)
12. Don’t Start No Schtuff (Al Jarreau/Joe Turano) - 4:44
13. Bring It On Home To Me (Sam Cooke)- 4:25

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New Link | Jazzscript.co.uk

I was browsing for a book review today and came upon this nice site in the UK which I have added to the links section. I found a great deal of information, not only on what I was searching for but on many other items of interest. I think you will like it, if you're not already familiar with the site. From their 'about us':
"Jazzscript.co.uk is a specialist website, devoted to books on jazz (and jazz in general), and is run by a 'proper' bookshop, based in Wendover, which is on the edge of the Chiltern Hills in England.

We are enthusiastic about the books we sell. I hope that if you have visited this site you share this passion, or at least have a budding interest. We have tried to build a website that is useful to both the devoted jazz fan and to the merely curious."

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Smooth Jazz Chart | Week Ended 10/23/06

LW TW Artist Album (Label)
1 - 1 - Boney James - "Shine" - (Concord)
5 - 2 - George Benson & Al Jarreau - "Givin' It Up" (Concord)
2 - 3 - Paul Hardcastle - "Jazzmasters V" (Trippin 'n Rhythm)
4 - 4 - Pieces Of A Dream "Pillow Talk" - (Heads Up)
3 - 5 - Peter White - "Playin' Favorites" (Columbia)
7 - 6 - Eric Darius - "Just Getting Started" (Narada Jazz)
6 - 7 - Fourplay - "X" (Bluebird/RCA Victor)
8 - 8 - David Benoit - "Full Circle" - (Peak)
9 - 9 - Wayman Tisdale - "Way Up" (Rendezvous)
11 - 10 - Marion Meadows - "Dressed To Chill" - (Heads Up)

Find these top-ten here at amazon.com

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

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Monday, October 23, 2006

FCC Challenged On Media Consolidation

Easing government rules to allow more media consolidation would push out niche radio programming such as classical, jazz and gospel music while doing little to improve local TV coverage, new studies say.

Reports released Monday by two public interest groups, the Benton Foundation and the Social Science Research Council, challenged the
Federal Communications Commission's argument that media consolidation would improve local coverage and programming due to synergy effects.

The FCC is reviewing the issue following a failed 2003 attempt to loosen media ownership restrictions.

"These studies make clear that there is no support for the contention that media consolidation correlates with better, more local or more diverse media content," said Gloria Tristani, a former FCC commissioner and president of the Benton Foundation.

The FCC in June reopened the hotly disputed issue of ownership limits, including the number of radio and television stations that one owner can have and restrictions on cross-ownership between newspapers and broadcasters.

Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell pushed through loosened rules in 2003, but a federal appeals court threw them out on grounds that the FCC compiled an insufficient record to justify them.

The 2003 changes would have let one corporation own — in a single community — up to three TV stations, eight radio stations, the cable system, the only daily newspaper and the biggest Internet provider, according to Democratic commissioners who opposed the plan.

According to the studies released Monday:

A radio company that owns more stations in a local market was less likely to offer niche formats such as easy listening, bluegrass, tejano and classical music, despite the company's greater opportunities, given its size, to do so.

Cross-owned TV stations were more likely to offer local news, in part because larger news stations were usually the ones targeted for acquisition by newspapers. But when factoring out market size, the cross-owned ones did not provide more news than other stations in the local news business.

Media ownership opportunities for women and minority groups remained limited. Of the 12,844 radio and television stations that filed reports with the FCC in 2005, women own 3.4 percent and minorities own 3.6 percent.

Many of the broadcast television networks and large media companies including the Tribune Co., Gannett Co. and the New York Times Co. have supported loosened rules, saying current restrictions are outmoded in a digital age in which consumers also have the Internet and cable TV to choose from.

The FCC has scheduled several hearings and allowed 120 days for public comment, which expires Monday. Current FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has supported eliminating the three-decade-old flat ban on cross-ownership.

The fate of media ownership proposals could be determined in part by the November congressional elections.

A switch to Democratic control in the House would likely hamper any attempts to let media conglomerates own more TV stations. In the Senate, Democrats such as John Kerry of Massachusetts and Barack Obama of Illinois — two possible 2008 presidential contenders — have called on the agency to consider diversity when reviewing ownership rules.

The FCC and its staff declined to predict how long the review process will take. The agency held its first public hearing in Los Angeles earlier this month.


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Is Satellite Radio Coming To iPods?

Is Apple considering integrating both terrestrial and satellite radio into its iPods? A variety of techies think so.

According to Orbitcast and Macintosh News Network, which cover satellite radio and all things Apple respectively, Apple has filed a patent application for a method of saving media from various sources for later purchase. Among those "sources" — terrestrial and satellite radio.

“It's an ingenious method of grabbing snippets of audio, identifying the song and allowing the user the option to purchase that song," according to Orbitcast.

The benefit to Apple in adding radio to iPods is that it allows users to discover new music — which they can then buy from the company's iTunes Music Store. The benefit to satellite radio is obvious — iPod integration means one more platform for the medium.

According to the patent, the technology allows the user to tune "into a wireless signal (e.g., AM FM radio, digital radio, or WiFi)" using either a wireless card or "the capability to accept accessories to add the necessary functionality."

Terrestrial radio is currently available on certain models of iPods with a remote accessory.

Further on in the application, Apple cites possible vehicle integration, and actually names XM as a possible satellite partner.

By Ken Tucker radioandrecords.com

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New Releases | October

Passport, Blue Tattoo [JVC Victor, 10/24]
Benson & Jarreau, Givin' It Up [Concord Records, 10/24]
Flora Purim, Carry On {Import, Re-release} [Warner Bros., 10/24]
Brian Auger Oblivion Express, Live Oblivion V.1 & 2 {Import England} [10/24]
Jim Hall, Hallmarks: Best of Jim Hall 1971-2001 [Concord Records, 10/24]
Rick Margitza, Bohemia [Nocturne, 10/24]
Nicholas Payton, Mysterious Shorter [Chesky Records, 10/24]
Uzeb, Live In Bracknell - {Import} [Norac, 10/24]
Nina Simone, Remixed & Re-Imagined [Sony Legacy, 10/31]

Information provided by contemporaryjazz.com

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Upcoming Jazz Releases | 10/24/06

Upcoming Jazz Releases

Alan Broadbent - You and the Night and the Music (WEA)
Andy Emler & Megaoctet - Dreams in Tune (Nocturne)
Bebo Valdes - We Can Make Beautiful Music Together (Universal)
Belden / Payton - Mysterious Shorter (Chesky)
Bob Devos - Shifting Sands (WEA)
Broken Glass - Broken Glass (Mystic)
Brookmeyer / Cleveland / Rosolino - Trombones Inc (Lonehill)
Christian Escoude & Progressive Sextet - Ma Ya Ya (Nocturne)
Cobb /Jones / McBride - West of Fifth (Chesky)
Core / Bennie Wallace - Mystic Bridge (Enja)
Darrell Leonard - Texicali Horns (New Light)
George Benson/al Jarreau - Givin' It Up (Concord)
Hank Jones - West of 5th (Chesky) - SACD
Harry Connick Jr. - Chanson du Vieux Carre (Marsalis Music)
Indo British Ensemble - Curried Jazz (Harkit)
Jacques Loussier - Brandenburg Concerto (Telarc)
Jacques Vidal - Sans Issue (Nocturne)
Kenny Barron - Scratch (Enja)
Lenny Breau - Mosaic (Guitarchives)
Lenny Breau - Master Class (Guitarchives) - DVD-Video
Martirio DOminguez - Acoplados (WEA)
Movin' On - Rueben Wilson (WEA)
Muhal Richard Abrams - Streaming (Pi)
Nicholas Payton - Mysterious Shorter (Chesky) - SACD
Ondrej Pivic Organic Quartet - Don't Get Ideas (Cube Bohemia)
Ornette Coleman - To Whom Who Keeps a Record (Water Records)
Otis Span - Delta Blues (Cheapolata) - Reissue
Ray Brown - Bassics: Best of the Ray Brown Trio 1977-2000 (Concord)
RIck Margitza - Bohemia (Nocturne)
Rob da Bank - Listen Again (Ether Music)
Rob Reddy's Gift Horse - A Hundred Jumping Devils (Reddy Music)
Romero Lubambo - Softly (Maz Jazz)
Rueben Wilson - Movin' On (Savant)
TM Juke - Forward (Ubiquity)
Various Artists - Viva Carlos! A Fusion Tribute to Carlos Santana (Tone Center)
Yves Robillard - Mouvance (Nocturne)

Information provided by allaboutjazz.com

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Rippingtons | 20th Anniversary

In 1986, the term “smooth jazz” had not made its way into the vernacular. However, the groundwork for what would become a radio format and, to some degree, a genre of music, had been laid. Among those paving the way was Russ Freeman, founder and principal songwriter for the Rippingtons.

In the early years, the Rippingtons weren’t a band so much as a concept. As Donald Fagen and Walter Becker were to Steely Dan, Freeman was to the Rippingtons, surrounding himself with a variable lineup of musicians. Although the group has been more stable in recent years (a fixed lineup recorded the last two studio albums, not counting horns or vocalists), bassist Kim Stone and percussionist Scott Breadman do not appear on the new 20th Anniversary.

With this recording, Freeman took a unique approach. Rather than perform remakes of popular Rippingtons songs, he called upon many of those who had recorded or toured with the group over the years. With two exceptions, 20th Anniversary is comprised of all-new compositions. The horn section of Jerry Hey, Gary Grant and Bill Reichenbach joins for the anthem “Celebrate,” which features a saxophone duet between Kirk Whalum (tenor) and Paul Taylor (soprano). Alums Jimmy Johnson (bass), Steve Reid (percussion) and Tony Morales (drums) help round out this piece.

David Benoit joins on acoustic piano for the elegant Latin piece “Costa Del Sol,” co-written by Freeman and Yaredt Leon. Jeffrey Osborne, Patti Austin and Elena Leon perform wordless vocals, adding to the tropical flavor. Throughout, Freeman’s guitars and, on some selections, bass, are in top form. He can adapt to any situation and plays with exceptional precision.

While most of the album accomplishes Freeman’s goal of bringing past players back together to record new music, one song doesn’t belong: Brian McKnight’s “Anything.” This duet between Freeman and McKnight sounds nothing like the Rippingtons. Perhaps it would work on McKnight’s own release or even a “duets” album, a la Tony Bennett, but not on the Rippingtons’ milestone celebration.

Fortunately, that’s the only weak link on this album, which closes with “A 20th Anniversary Bonus,” a medley of several classic Rippingtons songs, including “Tourist in Paradise,” “Curves Ahead” and “Brave New World.” The accompanying DVD, however, is a bit of a disappointment. It includes some early videos and an all-too-brief retrospective.

An oddity about the Rippingtons is that while the group is considered a pioneer of smooth jazz, it's not a jazz band. Freeman has described it as more of a rock group. However, marketing forces tend to call predominantly instrumental popular music jazz, no matter what the intent of the songwriter. Whatever the classification, the Rippingtons are one of contemporary music’s dominant forces: each recording is different from the last, and their live shows rock with energy. With a twenty-year track record, Freeman and the Rippingtons continue to move forward while acknowledging the past.

By Woodrow Wilkins allaboutjazz.com

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Steve Cole | True - Release 11/21

Steve Cole 'True'"You’re gonna feel something whether you like it or not,” says saxman Steve Cole about his forthcoming True album. Focusing on performance, improvisation and really playing from the heart & soul, and fueled by the metropolitan sounds and influences of his hometown of Chicago, the album is a mix of R&B, contemporary jazz, pop and dance music.

Through his four previous albums, Cole has established himself as a core artist in contemporary jazz. His consistency as a songwriter and producer also merits respect as he’s scored four #1 radio hits and ten Top 5 singles since his 1998 debut. True promises to add to Cole’s impressive stats. He set the bar high on each engaging track, delivering unadulterated artistry and organic musicianship.

Cole couldn’t help being influenced by the music that emerged from his hometown where he still calls home. On the album, he tips his hat to such pioneers as jazz-funk legend Quincy Jones, soul icon Curtis Mayfield and clubby house music. But playing and improvising were also primary inspirations for Cole on True. He focused on giving a unique performance on each song. Cole believes that the true measure of the artist is how the musician improvises off the melody. Many records stifle that creativity so Cole sought to produce the record as “live” as possible, fostering the setting for expansive soloing.

A talented cast of musicians helped Cole bring True to life, including Jeff Golub, Steve Rodby, David Mann, Ricky Peterson, Lenny Castro and Khari Parker. The album title refers to a return to innocence, a return to the roots, a return to the music that inspired Cole to explore his passion for jazz-funk made popular by artists such as Grover Washington, Jr., David Sanborn, Spyro Gyra and George Benson. It was an era of well-crafted songs, live production and expressive music that emerged from the core of the artists’ being. That’s the recipe Cole used to create True.

After studying modern classical music for saxophone at Northwestern University, Cole earned an MBA at the University of Chicago. Debuting with Stay Awhile, he scored three radio hits out of the box that helped him garner the 2000 Oasis Smooth Jazz Prism Award as Best New Artist. Subsequent albums include Between Us, NY LA, and Spin. Cole has toured and/or recorded with Brian Culbertson, Junior Wells, Boz Scaggs, Larry Carlton, Jeff Lorber, Freddie Cole, Cyrus Chestnut, KMFDM, Rick Braun and others.

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Michael Lington | Java Jazz Festival 2006 Video

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Java Jazz Festival 2006
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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Victor Fields | "Lovely Day" - Out Today!

Victor Fields - 'Thinking Of You'After releasing three eclectic, critically-acclaimed albums, vocalist Victor Fields has found a comfortable niche to focus his soul-kissed adult pop songs of love. His Thinking Of You CD was released today by Regina Records. Joined by smooth jazz luminaries Richard Elliot (sax), Rick Braun (flugelhorn), Jeff Lorber (keyboards), Nelson Braxton (multi-instrumentalist) and Chris Camozzi (guitar), Fields fully explored the genre while serving up eight R&B cover tunes and two originals co-penned by Lorber on the Camozzi-produced collection. Naturally suited to his silky vocals, Fields’ version of the Bill Withers’ sunny classic, “Lovely Day,” was serviced to smooth jazz radio last month where it is presently garnering airplay.

Fields recorded Thinking Of You with Camozzi as close to live as possible at the famed The Record Plant studio in Sausalito, California, not too far from the Bay Area resident’s home. The album is up-tempo and organic comprised of elegant vocals over funky tracks. It’s decidedly more fun, more upbeat and more danceable than his previous releases (Victor, 52nd Street and Promise). Attempting to make each song a musical event, Fields carefully selects interesting and challenging songs that he can make his own by infusing his personality and energy. His phrasing, color and tone are distinctly jazzy and soulful. While Fields is naturally drawn to love songs, he’s quick to remind that not all love songs are slow and sad. In this era of disposable popular music and “flavor of the month” idols, Fields is a refreshing song stylist who truly studies his craft, sings songs of meaning and substance, and strives to create a significant body of work that will stand the test of time.

Thinking Of You has already begun earning praise. ABYSSJazz Magazine declared, “If you are looking for that soulful R&B crooner with a jazzy feel, Victor Fields is your man. His voice can be described as satin, velvet, suede…This album is all hits and no misses. With guest appearances by Richard Elliot on ‘Walking In Rhythm’ and Rick Braun on ‘Creepin’,’ you can’t go wrong.” SoulTracks wrote, “…the tasteful take given by Fields and the fine musicianship of the band make Thinking Of You a surprisingly enjoyable effort…His (Fields) unassuming, smooth lead plus strong, jazzy arrangements throughout make this a solid effort and fine late-night listening.”

Last month, Fields delivered a sterling performance with his band at the annual Radio & Records convention in front of an enthusiastic audience of key radio and music industry professionals. He also filmed an interview that will soon air on the nationally syndicated Smooth Jazz Television show. On November 10th, Fields will perform a concert in his “backyard” at the Regents Theatre in Oakland.

Having achieved wealth through business, Fields decided to pursue his true love: singing. He’s invested his own money into producing his albums and releasing them independently, which certainly isn’t easy. Top recording artists and musicians work with him because they believe in his talent. “I’m trying to be the best musically that I can be,” explained Fields. “I feel blessed to work with such great musicians. They inspire me to elevate my game and to come up with something special. What I aim to do is bring elements of old school jazz legends and classic R&B artists and merge them with the best of today’s musical sensibilities.”

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RIAA Strikes again

Creative Zen Players Lose FM Recording
Creative has apparently bowed to RIAA pressure, issuing a firmware update for two of its players that removes the FM recording feature. In the past, the music industry has argued that recording from radio broadcasts hurt music sales, and has most recently attempted to stop satellite radio services from implementing similar features.

Specifically, the firmware change affects the company's Zen MicroPhoto and Zen Vision:M players. In the release notes, Creative gives no reasoning for the change other than saying "this firmware removes your player's FM recording feature."

The change overshadows other enhancements, including support for Audible Type 4 tracks, the addition of a volume restriction feature, and enhancements to the user interface and usability. But many customers may be less apt to apply the update in order to save the FM recording functionality.

The RIAA has made moves to prevent recording in other devices, most notably in portable players from the satellite radio providers. The group sued XM in May, with RIAA accusing XM of "massive wholesale infringement" of copyrights by allowing users to save songs heard on the service to the device.

Requests for comment from Creative were not answered as of press time.

By Ed Oswald, BetaNews

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Chris Botti | December [2006]

The story about there being more suicides around the holidays turns out to be a myth, but like all urban legends, it caught on among the populace (or at least among lazy journalists) because it sounds like it should be true; as trumpeter Chris Botti writes in a sleeve note to his seasonal collection, December, "At no other time of the year is there a wider array of emotions than the month of December." This is a clue that Botti, in acceding to his record company's request that he undertake a Christmas album, was not interested in simply celebrating the season in his interpretations of holiday standards. There have been other such contemplative Christmas records: George Winston's album, also called December, is calm rather than celebratory, and Barbra Streisand's Christmas Memories, released in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, is another collection that takes in the season's complexities. Add Botti's album to that list. The approach, of course, fits in with the trumpeter's overall musical style. Often heard through a mute, his playing usually has an intimate, low-key character, and that is true here, too. Critics have compared him to Miles Davis, and to that one easily may add Chet Baker, especially because like Baker, Botti has chosen to sing here, applying an adequate tenor to Richard Marx's "Perfect Day" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (the latter one of the more troubled of lyrics to become a Christmas standard). It isn't all doom and gloom, of course; there's a playful reading of "Winter Wonderland," for instance. But this is still an album to be put on in the shank of the evening when the Christmas festivities have subsided, not at the height of the celebrations.

Review by William Ruhlmann allmusic.com

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Smooth Jazz Chart | Week Ended 10/16/06

LW TW Artist Album (Label)
1 - 1 - Boney James - "Shine" - (Concord)
3 - 2 - Paul Hardcastle - "Jazzmasters V" (Trippin 'n Rhythm)
2 - 3 - Peter White - "Playin' Favorites" (Columbia)
4 - 4 - Pieces Of A Dream "Pillow Talk" - (Heads Up)
7 - 5 - George Benson & Al Jarreau - "Givin' It Up" (Concord)
5 - 6 - Fourplay - "X" (Bluebird/RCA Victor)
8 - 7 - Eric Darius - "Just Getting Started" (Narada Jazz)
9 - 8 - David Benoit - "Full Circle" - (Peak)
6 - 9 - Wayman Tisdale - "Way Up" (Rendezvous)
10 - 10 - Euge Groove - "Just Feels Right" (Narada Jazz)

Find these top-ten here at amazon.com

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

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Upcoming Jazz Releases | 10/17/06

Upcoming Jazz Releases

Al Cohn - Lover Man (Jazz Hour) - Reissue
Albert Ayler - Bells (Special Edition) (ESP-Disc) - Reissue
Albert Ayler - Spiritual Unity (Special Edition) (ESP-Disc) - Reissue
Alon Nechustan - The Growl (Tzadik)
B. B. King - King of Blues (Golden Stars) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
B. B. King - Woke Up This Morning (Roots) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
B.B. King - A Night of Blistering Blues (MPG) - Reissue
B.B. King - The Thrill is Gone (Jazz Hour) - Reissue
Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra - Moten Stomp (Sounds of Yesteryear) - Reissue
Benny Goodman - The Essential Collection (West End) - 2+ CDs
Bill Anschell - More to the Ear than Meets the Eye (Origin)
Bill Wyman & The Bootleg Kings - Jump, Jive and Wail: The Very Best (Castle)
Billie Holiday - Strange Fruit (Jazz World) - Reissue
Billie Holiday - Very Best Of (Mastersong) - Reissue
Billie Holiday - You're My Thrill (Back Up) - Reissue
Bob Degen - Sequoia Song (Enja)
Brian Auger / Oblivion Express - Live Oblivion V.1 & 2 (UK) (Castle) - Reissue
Brian Auger / Oblivion Express - Reinforcements (Castle) - Reissue
Brubeck Brothers Quartet - Intuition (Koch)
Camille Schmidt - Easy to Love (Clarion)
Carlos Santana / Buddy Guy / Gatemouth Brown / Bobby Parker - Carlos Santana Presents Blues at Montreux (RED) - DVD-Video
Cecil Taylor - Air (Candid) - Reissue
Chamber Jazz Sextet - Plays Pal Joey (Candid)
Charles Mingus - Take the "A" Train (Back Up) - Reissue
Charles Tolliver - Impact (Enja)
Chet Baker - In Paris (West Wind) - Reissue
Chet Baker - My Funny Valentine (Golden Stars) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Chris Barber Jazz & Blues Band - Music from the Land of Dreams (Navarre) - DVD-Video
Classical Jazz Quartet - Christmas (Kind of Blue)
Coleman Hawkins - Spellbound (Back Up) - Reissue
Dave Liebman / Frank Tusa - Father Time (Enja)
David Friesen - Made in Istanbul (ITM) - Reissue
Dewey Jackson - Live at the Barrel 1952 (Delmark) - Reissue
Dizzy Gillespie / Stan Getz - Exactly Like You (Back Up) - Reissue
Don Aliquo - Jazz Folk (Young Warrior)
Duke Ellington - The Incomparable Sir Duke - 3 (Golden Stars) - Reissue
Eartha Kitt - Earth Kitt Live at the Cafe Carlyle (DRG) - Reissue
Eartha Kitt - Thinking Jazz (West Wind) - Reissue
Elis Regina - Live in Montreux (West Wind) - Reissue
Ernie Watts - Unity (JVC)
Esther Phillips - Best of the Mercury Years (England) (Spectrum M) - Reissue
Franco de Gemini - The Man with the Harmonica (All Score Media)
Frank Sinatra - Essential Collection (City Hall) - Reissue
Ginger Baker - Falling Off the Roof (Wounded Bird) - Reissue
Glenn Miller & His Orchestra - All Time Greatest Hits (Sounds of Yesteryear) - Reissue
Gypsy Kings - Soy/Rare/Unplugged (Masterplan)
Herbie Hancock / Alber 't - Baraka (Jazz World)
Herbie Hancock / Chick Corea - Piano Fiesta (IMC)
Herculaneum - Orange Blossom (Document Chicago #12) (482 Music)
Jack DeJohnette - Golden Beams Collected Vol. 1 (Golden Beams)
Jimmy Dorsey - Forgotten Gems (UK) (Flare)
Jimmy Smith - Bluesmith (Lilith) - Reissue
Joan Hickey - Between the Lines (OA2)
Joe Jordon - From Barrelhouse to Broadway: The MusicalOdyssey of Joe Jordon (New World)
John Lee Hooker - ohn Lee Hooker & Friends - I'm in the Mood For Love (Koch) - DVD-Video
John Zorn - Astronome (Tzadik)
Johnny Rose - Touch By the Dark (Wilmington)
Junior Wells - Junior Wells and Guests (Koch) - DVD-Video
Junkyard Men - Scrapheap Full of Blues (Inside Sounds)
Jurgen Seefelder Meets Azymuth - Rio de Janiero (West Wind) - Reissue
Kahil El'Zabar's Ritual Trio - Big M, A Tribute To Malachi Favors (Delmark)
Keb' Mo' - Kob' Mo' and Friends (Koch) - DVD-Video
Keefe Jackson's Fast Citizens - Signs (Delmark) - Reissue
Kenny Carr - Turn the Page (Zoozaz)
Kenny Dorhma/Barry Harris Quartet - New York 1964 (Spain + 2 bonus tracks) (Rlr) - Reissue
Larry Koonse - Storybook (Jazz Compass)
Last Chance Jug Band - Shake That Thing (Inside Sounds)
Liam Sillery - On the Fly (OA2)
Louis Armstrong - Colour Collection (Motown) - Reissue
Louis Armstrong - That Lucky Old Sun (Back Up) - Reissue
Louis Armstrong & All Stars - Live at the University of North Carolina (UK) (Avid-Masters) - Reissue
Lousi Jordan - All Hits, Jump, Jive & Boogie (Golden Stars) - Reissue
Lyle Lovett - Best of Live (WEA) - DVD-Video
Lynne Arriale - Live (Motema)
Mayra Casales - Woman on Fire (Afrasia)
McCoy Tyner - Sahara (SACD Hybrid) (Mobile Fidelity) - Reissue
McCoy Tyner - What's New (West Wind) - Reissue
Memphis Slim - Tribute to Big Bill Broonzy, Leroy Carter (Candid) - Reissue
Miles Davis - Prince of Darkness - Live in Europe (Jazz Hour) - Reissue
Miles Davis - Live in Germany (1988) (Koch) - DVD-Video
Miles Davis All Stars - Solar (Back Up) - Reissue
Milt Jackson - Good Bait (Jazz Hour) - Reissue
Mina Agossi - Zaboum! (Candid)
Modern Jazz Quartet - One Bass Hit (Back Up) - Reissue
Monty Alexander - The Way It Is (Jazz Hour)
Nat Gonella and His Georgians - How'm I Doin' (Sounds of Yesteryear) - Reissue
Paris to Kyiv - Variances (Olesia)
Pearls Before Swine - Baklava (Special Edition) (ESP-Disk) - Reissue
Pearls Before Swine - One Nation Underground (Special Edition) (ESP-Disk) - Reissue
Peggy Lee - In the Late Hours (City Hall) - Reissue
Perry Robinson Quartet - Still Traveling (West Wind) - Reissue
Phil Kelly and the Southwest Santa Ana Winds - My Museum (Origin)
Piri Thomas - Every Child is Born (Enja)
Ramsey Lewis - Don't It Feel Good (Wounded Bird) - Reissue
Ramsey Lewis - Salongo (Wounded Bird) - Reissue
Rashanim - Shalosh/Galut (Tzadik)
Rat Pack - 40 Tracks from the King of Cool (Dove) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Ray Anthony - Sophisticated Swing (Montpelier)
Ray Anthony - The Early Years (Montpelier) - Reissue
Ray Ellingron - Essential Collection (West End) - Reissue
Robben Ford - Inside Story (Wounded Bird) - Reissue
Sathima Bea Benjamin - Songspirit (Ekapa)
Scott Kinsey - Kinesthetics (Abstract Logix)
Sonny Boy Williamson - Father of the Blues Harmonica (Golden Stars) - Reissue
Stan (Chicken Shack) Webb - I'd Rather Go Live (Beat Goes On) - Reissue
Strunz & Farah - Fantaseo (Selva)
Stu Goldberg / Cassius Khan - Dark Clouds (Dedication)
Sun Ra - Concert for the Comet Kohoutek (Special Edition) (ESP-Disk) - Reissue
Sun Ra - Heliocentric Worlds Vol. 1 (ESP-Disk) - Reissue
Sun Ra - Heliocentric Worlds Vol. 2 (ESP-Disk) - Reissue
Sun Ra - Nothing Is (ESP-Disk) - Reissue
Terumasqa Hino - Taro's Mood (Enja)
Tomo - I'll Always Know (Torii)
Toni & C Kitanovski - Bordlerlands (Enja)
Tribaljazz - Tribaljazz (Hidden Beach)
Van Morrison - Live at Montreux 1980/1974 (RED) - DVD-Video
Wativ - Baghdad Music Journal (Kindred Rhythm)
Woody Herman - My Kind of Broadway (Wounded Bird) - Reissue
Zoot Sims - Leapin- In (Jazz Hour) - Reissue

Information provided by allaboutjazz.com

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New Releases | October

Alphonso Johnson, Moonshadows [Wounded Bird Records, 10/17]
Tribaljazz, Self/Titled [Hidden Beach Recordings, 10/17]
Liam Sillery, On The Fly [Oa2, 10/17]
Pat Metheny, Parallel Realities Live [10/17]
Ramsey Lewis, Don't It Feel Good [10/17]
Michael Powers, Prodigal Son [Baryon Records, 10/17]
Alphonso Johnson, Yesterday's Dream [Wounded Bird Records, 10/17]
Strunz & Farah, Fantaseo [Selva Inc., 10/17]
Ramsey Lewis, Salongo [10/17]
Larry Koonse, Storybook [10/17]
Mccoy Tyner, Sahara [Mobile Fidelity Koch, 1017]
Kenny Carr, Turn The Page [10/17]
Robben Ford, Inside Story [10/17]
Passport, Blue Tattoo [JVC Victor, 10/24]
Benson & Jarreau, Givin' It Up [Concord Records, 10/24]
Flora Purim, Carry On {Import, Re-release} [Warner Bros., 10/24]
Brian Auger Oblivion Express, Live Oblivion V.1 & 2 {Import England} [10/24]

Information provided by contemporaryjazz.com

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