Friday, April 28, 2006

Mindi Abair Disc Debuts at Number One on Contemporary-Jazz Chart

Saxophonist and singer Mindi Abair's Life Less Ordinary debuted at number one on the Billboard contemporary-jazz chart this week, displacing Herbie Hancock's Possibilities from the top spot.

The album includes Ricky Lee Jones' "It Must Be Love" and original compositions by Abair and producer Michael Hager.

On the jazz chart, Michael Bublé's It's Time continued its long run at number one, with Cassandra Wilson's Thunderbird, Chris Botti's To Love Again, Bublé's Caught in the Act, Dianne Reeves' Good Night, and Good Luck. soundtrack, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane's At Carnegie Hall, Botti's When I Fall in Love, and Madeleine Peyroux's Careless Love maintaining their positions in the second through eighth spots.

New entries included singer Karrin Allyson's Footprints at number nine, saxophonist Frank Catalano's Mighty Burner at number 11, and keyboardist Philippe Saisse's Body and Soul Sessions at number 24.

By Ben Mattison -

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Of Interest

Marion Meadows has completed a brand new solo album, Dressed to Chill, his tenth and follow-up project to 2004’s Player’s Club. May 23rd is the release date for the Heads Up record.

A trio of Grammy© Award-winning albums by the Pat Metheny Group (Still Life Talking, 1987; Letter From Home, 1989, The Road To You: Recorded Live in Europe, 1993) have recently been re-mastered and re-released by Metheny’s current record label, Nonesuch Records.

A new tour that is getting a lot of interest features two Smooth Jazz stars and one of the hottest divas from the 1980s. “The Soul Express Tour 2006” created by guitarist Chris Standring and boasts keyboardist Jeff Lorber and vocalist Jody Watley. The tour gets its name from the upcoming CD from Standring called Soul Express, which will be released on May 9th by the Trippin N Rhythm Smooth Jazz record label.

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Michael Franks' Studio Recording, "Rendezvous in Rio"

Michael Franks, a mainstay in the contemporary jazz scene since the '70s, is back with "Rendezvous in Rio, " his new album featuring 10 new original songs with distinctive arrangements from long-time collaborators Jeff Lorber, Jimmy Haslip, Russell Ferrante, Chuck Loeb and others. "Rendezvous in Rio" will be released on June 27th, 2006. The music of renowned Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim has been a great influence to Franks' previous music, and it can be seen in this album as well. "Rendezvous in Rio" includes an 'unrequited love' song "The Question is Why, " "The Critics Are Never Kind" from his musical "Noa Noa, " which portrays a musical conversation between artists Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Degas, the bittersweet "Songbirds, " and two jazzy numbers: "The Cool School" and "Hearing 'Take Five.'"

Michael Franks, a California native, has been creating and recording music for the past 33 years, and has released 16 albums to date. He studied music and literature in college, receiving his Masters from UCLA, and his PhD from the University of Oregon. He later taught undergraduate music courses at both UCLA and Berkeley.

His musical style seamlessly weaves lyrics of stunning sensuality, wit, reflection and literary eloquence over music that tastefully utilizes top shelf shadings of jazz, soul, pop, chamber and music from around the globe. His most well known songs include "Popsicle Toes, " "Monkey See-Monkey Do, " "The Lady Wants To Know, " "When the Cookie Jar is Empty, " "Tiger in the Rain, " "Rainy Night in Tokyo" and "Tell Me All About It." His music has been covered by Ana Caram, Natalie Cole, Patti Labelle, Miss Peggy Lee, Melissa Manchester, Carmen McRae, Ringo Starr, Livingston Taylor and the Yellowjackets.

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Smooth Jazz Top Ten | Week Ended 4/28/06

LW TW Artist Title (Label)
1 - 1 - Paul Brown - "Winelight" (GRP/VMG)
2 - 2 - Najee - "2nd 2 None" - (Heads Up International)
4 - 3 - Nils - "Summer Nights" (Baja/TSR)
3 - 4 - Brian Culbertson - "Let's Get Started" - (GRP/VMG)
6 - 5 - Kim Waters - "Steppin' Out" (Shanachie)
8 - 6 - Philippe Saisse - "Trio Do It Again" (Rendezvous)
5 - 7 - Richard Elliot - "Mystique" (Artizen)
7 - 8 - Michael Lington - "Pacifica" (Rendezvous)
12 - 9 - Ramsey Lewis - "Oh Happy Day" (Narada Jazz/EMI)
15 - 10 - Mindi Abair - "True Blue" (GRP/VMG)

Visit to view the latest complete Smooth Jazz ® National Airplay© listings.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Karrin Allyson | Footprints

Jazz vocalist Karrin Allyson has one peer: Cassandra Wilson. Both women have impacted jazz vocals in the last decade, swerving the genre into interesting places. Allyson’s most critically acclaimed release, Ballads (Concord, 2001), came after the release of six solid, if less received, releases for the label. This concept recording gave way to forays into sleek blues (In Blue, 2002) and pop jazz (Wild for You, 2004). Allyson returns to the vocalese concept of Ballads with Footprints.

On this recording Allyson takes on modern jazz instrumental classics adapted for vocals. Represented here are Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma” (“Something Worth Waiting For”), John Coltrane’s “Lazybird” (“Lightening”) and “Equinox” (“A Long Way to Go”), and Wayne Shorter’s title cut (“Follow the Footprints”). The lyrics, all newly penned by Chris Caswell, give these songs new personality. Allyson is joined by scat-vocalese masters Jon Hendricks and Nancy King. Hendricks, who performs with Allyson on “Strollin’,” sounds every bit of his 85 years but still scats better than anyone on his trademark, “Everybody’s Boppin’.”

Allyson’s band is a beauty. Pianist Bruce Barth steers a nominal trio with bassist Peter Washington and drummer Todd Strait, joined by guests Frank Wess and Nick Phillips. Barth contributes playing on both acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes, the latter on a hopping version of Hank Mobley’s “The Turnaround” (“I Found the Turnaround”). “Follow the Footprints” features a muted Phillips and Frank Wess on flute in a light interpretation, as it could only be. Allyson is joined by Nancy King's smoky alto.

It is safe to consider Footprints Karrin Allyson’s best recording since Ballads. The inventiveness on display here only whets the appetite of fans expecting more from this productive artist.

Visit Karrin Allyson on the web.

By C. Michael Bailey -

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Jazz Photographer William P. Gottlieb Dies

William P. Gottlieb in 1992, between two of his best-known photographs: portraits of Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong.William P. Gottlieb, a photographer who created iconic images of Billie Holliday, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, and other jazz musicians, died yesterday, according to an obituary on the web site All About Jazz. He was 89.

Gottlieb's career as a jazz photographer was largely limited to a decade spent as a jazz writer and editor in the 1940s. But his photographs—a tragic 1947 portrait of Holiday; an impossibly young Miles Davis in the studio with Parker; Thelonious Monk, shot from below, at the piano; remain among the most recognizable and frequently reproduced images in the history of jazz.

Born in Brooklyn, Gottlieb became a jazz fan while attending Lehigh University. After graduating, he went to work at the Washington Post, where he wrote a weekly jazz column; he began photographing musicians because the newspaper could not afford to send a photographer to accompany him to performances.

After serving in World War II, Gottlieb moved to New York and joined the staff of Down Beat magazine as an assistant editor; he continued to take photographs, many of which appeared on the cover of the magazine, but still wasn't paid for his efforts. He also wrote and took photographs as a freelancer for Record Changer, Saturday Review, and other publications.

Gottlieb left Down Beat in the late 1940s, and had a long career as a producer of educational filmstrips. In 1979, after his retirement, he published The Golden Age of Jazz, a collection of his photos.

According to the Library of Congress, which has acquired all of Gottlieb's 1,700 photographs, his work has appeared on hundreds of album covers and on posters, postcards, calendars, and T-shirts, as well as in the press. The U.S. Postal Service used Gottlieb's images of Holliday, Parker, Mildred Bailey, and Jimmy Rushing for a series of stamps honoring jazz greats.

By Ben Mattison -

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Upcoming Jazz Releases | 4/25/06

Upcoming Jazz Releases

Mon 24-Apr-2006

Lizz Wright - Hit the Ground (CD Single) (Universal)

Tue 25-Apr-2006

Afro-Latin Soultet - Wild! (Harkit)
Al Di Meola - Electric Rendzevous (Sony Music) - Reissue
Albert King - Stax Profiles (Fantasy) - Reissue
Armen Donelian - All or Nothing at All (Sunnyside)
Atmosfear - En Trance (Discotheque)
Badi Assad - Ondas (GHA)
Ben E. King - I've Been Around (True Life Jazz)
Benny Lackner - Sign of the Times (Nagel-Heyer)
Bill Bruford / Tim Garland - Earthworks Underground Orchestra (Summerfold) - 2+ CDs
Bob Belden - Three Days of Rain (Sunnyside)
Bobby Short - Collectables Classics (Collectables) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Booker T. & The MG's - Stax Profiles (Fantasy) - Reissue
Buckshot LeFonque - Buckshot LeFonque (Sony) - Reissue
Calvin Keys - Vertical Clearance (Wide Hive)
Carla Thomas - Stax Profiles (Fantasy) - Reissue
Carmen McRae - Collectables Classics (Collectables) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Chris Botti - Live with Orchestra and Special Guests (Sony) - DVD-Video
Citrinti - Between the Music and Latitude (Tone Center)
Conference Call - Live at the Outpost Performance Space (482 Music)
David "Fathead" Newman - Collectables Classics (Collectables) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
David "Fathead" Newman - Collectables Classics (Collectables) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Diesler - Keepie Uppies (Tru Thoughts)
Donelian - Mommaa - All or Nothing at All (Sunnyside)
Eddie Floyd - Stax Profiles (Fantasy) - Reissue
Fabrizio Leo - Cutaway (Tone Center)
Fireball Steven - Rockabilly Done Right (Fireball)
George Baker - Mojo Lady (UMVD)
George Benson - Cookbook (Sony) - Reissue
George Duke - Brazilian Love Affair (Sony Masterworks Edition) - Reissue
Gerry Mulligan - California High School (Back Up) - Reissue
Groove Collective - People People Music Music (Savoy Jazz)
Hal Blaine - Drums! Drums! A Go Go (Harkit) - Reissue
Jay McShann - Hootie Blues (Stony Plain)
Joe Zawinul - Dialects (Sony) - Reissue
John McLaughlin / Mahavishnu Orchestra - Inner Mounting Flame (SME) - Reissue
Johnny Taylor - Stax Profiles (Fantasy) - Reissue
Little Milton - Stax Profiles (Fantasy) - Reissue
Lorez Alexandria - This is Lorez / Lorez Sings Pres (Beat Goes) - Reissue
Marc Copland / Randy Brecker - Both (Nagel-Heyer)
Marc Mommas - Balance (Sunnyside)
Maxi Priest / SteppinMuzak - Steppin to Jazz 2 (B.C.D.)
Maxine Brown - From the Heart (True Life)
Maynard Ferguson - Conquistador (Sony) - Reissue
Mike Brecker/Dave Carpenter/Peter Erskine/Mike Stern - Jazz Academy (C&B Media)
Mike Westbrook - Citadel-Room (Beat Goes On) - Reissue
Modern Jazz Quartet - La Ronde (A Proper Introduction) - Reissue
Nachito Herrera - Live at the Dakota II (Dakota Live)
Nestor Torres - Dances, Prayers and Meditations for Peace (Heads Up)
Nina Simone - Empress Live! (Lightyear) - Reissue
Ornette Coleman - Rock the Clock (Fruit Tree) - Reissue
Oscar Peterson - Historic Carnegie Hall Concerts - Birth of a Legend (Giant Steps) - Reissue
Otis Redding - Stax Profiles (Fantasy) - Reissue
Paul Desmond - First Place Again (Gotham) - Reissue
Quintetto Lo Creco - Snap Count (Schema)
Rance Allen - Stax Profiles (Fantasy) - Reissue
Raphael Fays - Ballade Manouche (GHA)
Ray Bush's BBC Jazz - Tippling at Taps (Rollercoaster) - Reissue
Return to Forever - Musicmagic (SME) - Reissue
Rosa Passos - TBA (Telarc)
Rosemary Clooney - Great Ladies of Jazz - Rosemary Clooney (Kultur Films) - DVD-Video
Rufus Thomas - Stax Profiles (Fantasy) - Reissue
Rufus Thomas - Stax Profiles (Fantasy) - Reissue
Sarah Jane Morris - After All These Years (Musicrama)
Soulphiction - State of Euphoria (Sonar Kollective)
Spencer Wiggins - Goldwax Years (Hep Cat)
Stanley Clarke - School Days (SMJ) - Reissue
Staple Singers - Stax Profiles (Fantasy) - Reissue
Svend Asmussen - Danish Imports: Intimate Jazz by Two (Gotham)
Tab Benoit - Brother in the Blues (Telarc)
Tom Scott - Apple Juice (Sony) - Reissue
Trilok Gurtu / The Frikyiwa Family - Farakala (Frikyiwa)
Valerie Joyce - New York Blue (Chesky)
Various Artists - Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis (Weasel Disc Records) - DVD-Video
Windsleepers - Fiancee du Pirate (United One)
World Drummers Ensemble - Coat of Many Colors (Summerfold)

Fri 28-Apr-2006

Souldstance - Lead the Way (Schema)

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Peter White Releases Details Of New Cover-Song CD

Guitarist Peter White will cover the Isley Brothers, Grover Washington Jr., Van Morrison, Burt Bacharach and many more on his new CD. Along for the ride are the biggest names in smooth jazz.

Smooth jazz guitarist Peter White has just finished his 10th CD, tentatively titled Deja Vu and a sequel of sorts to a full CD of cover songs he first explored in 1994 with Reflections. The album is once again produced by Paul Brown, who helmed Reflections and also co-produced White’s most recent album, 2004’s Confidential.

White's upcoming project has an all-star cast of guest musicians, including trumpeter Rick Braun, guitarist Jonathan Butler, saxophonists Richard Elliot and Boney James, pianist Bob James and vocalists Jeffrey Osborne and Kiki Ebsen. Butler sings lead vocals on “Lovely Day,” while Osborne does the same on “You Are Everything.”

The upcoming CD has 11 songs, including “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love),” “The Look of Love,” “Mister Magic"and “One on One.”

Look for the CD, to be released by Columbia Records, to be available this summer.

Deja Vu track listing

1. What Does It Take (To Win Your Love) (Bristol/Bullock)
2. The Look Of Love (Bacharach/David)
3. Deja Vu (Anderson/Hayes)
4. Mister Magic (McDonald/Salter)
5. Lovely Day (Scarborough)
6. Crazy Love (Morrison)
7. Sunny (Hebb)
8. For The Love Of You (Isley/Isley/Isley/Isley/Jasper)
9. Hit The Road Jack (Mayfield)
10. You Are Everything (Bell/Epstein)
11. One On One (Hall)

Originally posted by Brian Soergel at

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Vocalist Sophie Milman Debuts on Billboard Jazz Chart

Vocalist Sophie Milman's self-titled debut album made its first appearance on the Billboard jazz chart this week at number 14.

Born in Russia, Milman grew up in Israel and Canada; her first album was released in Canada two years ago and was one of the top-selling jazz releases of 2004 there. It includes renditions of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Agua de Beber," Cole Porter's "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," the Gershwins' "The Man I Love," and other standards.

The top of the chart was unchanged, with Michael Bublé's It's Time continuing its long reign at number one and Cassandra Wilson's Thunderbird again at number two in its second week.

On the contemporary-jazz chart, Herbie Hancock's Possibilities remained at number one. The sole new entry was guitarist Venon Neilly's G-Fire II, at number 24.

By Ben Mattison -

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Smooth Jazz Top Ten | Week Ended 4/21/06

LW TW Artist Title (Label)
1 - 1 - Paul Brown - "Winelight" (GRP/VMG)
2 - 2 - Najee - "2nd 2 None" - (Heads Up International)
4 - 3 - Nils - "Summer Nights" (Baja/TSR)
3 - 4 - Brian Culbertson - "Let's Get Started" - (GRP/VMG)
5 - 5 - Richard Elliot - "Mystique" (Artizen)
6 - 6 - Kim Waters - "Steppin' Out" (Shanachie)
7 - 7 - Michael Lington - "Pacifica" (Rendezvous)
9 - 8 - Philippe Saisse - "Trio Do It Again" (Rendezvous)
9 - 9 - Brian Simpson - "It's All Good" (Rendezvous)
10 - 10 - Marion Meadows - "Suede" - (Heads Up)

Visit to view the latest complete Smooth Jazz ® National Airplay© listings.

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JVC Jazz Festival Announces New York Lineup

This summer's JVC Jazz Festival New York will include performances by saxophonist Ornette Coleman, keyboardist Herbie Hancock, and trumpeter Chris Botti, and an 85th-birthday tribute to pianist Dave Brubeck, Festival Productions announced.

The festival runs June 12-24 at Carnegie Hall, the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, and clubs and other venues around New York. (There are no events at Lincoln Center, which has shared the mainstage concerts in previous years.)

The centerpiece concerts at Carnegie Hall include a performance by Coleman and his quartet on June 16; a double bill of Botti and vocalist Lizz Wright on June 17; a tribute to the venerable club the Village Vanguard with trumpeter Roy Hargrove, drummer Paul Motion, and saxophonist Joe Lovano on June 19; a performance by blues vocalist Etta James on June 20; and the Brubeck tribute, with his quartet and big band and featuring an appearance by comedian Bill Cosby.

On June 22, soul singer Smokey Robinson appears in concerts at Carnegie, and on June 23, Hancock appears with a series of star-studded ensembles; his sidemen include saxophonist Wayne Shorter, bassist Dave Holland, drummer Jack DeJohnnette, and bassist Ron Carter.

The lineup at Carnegie's smaller Zankel Hall includes pianist Brad Mehldau, guitarist Ralph Towner, and saxophonist Charles Lloyd's trio Sangam. The Kaye Playhouse series includes performances by pianist Hank Jones, saxophonist Houston Person, and pianist Toshiko Akioshi, and an 80th-birthday celebration for guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli.

For more information, visit

By Ben Mattison -

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Marsalis helps bring music back to N.O.

Jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis kicked off a weeklong fete Monday that signals the return of high-profile jazz to New Orleans, which is still reeling from Hurricane Katrina.

"We're going to kill ourselves this week to bring the spirit of jazz (back to New Orleans)," Marsalis said.

The city hopes to lure musicians with a "Musicians' Village" being built by Habitat for Humanity and the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.

"Musicians are hurting right now. They're spread out all over the country," Mayor Ray Nagin said at a news conference.

Marsalis said he's been deeply affected by what's happened to his native city.

"It's like somebody violated your mamma. You can't really explain that," he said.

He said Katrina has revealed deep national flaws such as racism, burdensome bureaucracy, poor leadership and class problems.

"I think it's a gut check for our country," Marsalis said. But, he added, the outpouring of help showed "how beautiful of a soul the nation can be."

The week will culminate with the first public performance of a new composition celebrating Congo Square, the city's revered public square where African slaves were free to play music.

Marsalis, a New Orleans native, and other members of the New York-based Jazz at Lincoln Center, of which he's the artistic director, will host music workshops and concerts for students and New Orleans musicians during the week.

On Sunday, Marsalis and Ghanian drummer Yacub Addy will lead a performance called "Congo Square." The composition, which has not been heard publicly, will combine jazz and African drumming styles.

"I think it's different from anything that's been heard before," Marsalis said.

The composition will be uplifting, Marsalis said, as traditional jazz melodies and rhythms interact with traditional African beats and chants "to come up with a form that reflects what happened in Congo Square."

Starting in the 1700s, African slaves gathered in an area that became known as Congo Square just outside the French Quarter to dance and play music. Many music historians trace the origins of American jazz and blues to the square, which today is enshrined as the Louis Armstrong Park. Marsalis and Addy will perform their composition in the park.


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Monday, April 17, 2006

Upcoming Jazz Releases | April 18, 2006

Upcoming Jazz Releases

Anita O'Day - Indestructible (Kayo Stereophonics)
Anthony Braxton - 2004: Live at the Royal Festival Hall (Leo)
Ben Allison - Cowboy Justice (Palmetto)
Bob Dorough - Small Day Tomorrow (Candid)
Brad Goode - Hypnotic Suggestions (Delmark)
Caine/O'Leary/Perowsky - Closure (Leo)
Cal Tjader - Plays Burt Bacharach (Passport Audio) - Reissue
Carli Munoz - Both Sides Now (Pelosene;)
Chick Corea / Orion String Quartet - Adventures of Hippocrates (Koch)
Chris Connor - Collecttables Classics (Collectables) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Chris Connor - Collectables Classics (Collectables) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Cornell Dupree - Night Fever: The Versatile Sessions (Empire) - Reissue
Dimitrios Vassilakis - Parallel Lines (Candid)
Ed McCurdy - Traditional Years: A Ballad Singer's Choice (Empire) - Reissue
Eddie Fisher - Collectables Classics (Collectables) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Eddie Fisher - Collectables Classics (Collectables) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Elmore James - Rollin' & Tumblin' (Passport Audio)
Everything for Some - Identity (Casket) - Reissue
Four King Cousins - Introducing (E!)
Fred Anderson - Timeless: Live at the Velvet Lounge (Delmark)
Gail Johnson - Keep the Music Playing (Philly The Kid)
Geoff Gascoyne - Keep It To Yourself (andid)
Gerry Mulligan - Soft Lights and Sweet Music (Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab) - Reissue - SACD
Herbie Hancock - Possibilities (Magnolia) - DVD-Video
Jazz O'Maniacs - Sunset Cafe Stomp (Delmark) - Reissue
Jimmy McGriff - Collectables Classics (Collectables) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Jimmy McGriff - Collectables Classics (Collectables) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Joe Diorio - Joe Diorio Trio Live (Mel Bay)
John Coltrane - Reflections (Passport Audio)
John Zorn - Moonchild (Tzadik)
Johnny Smith - Guitar Genius (Five Four) - Reissue
Karrin Allyson - Footprints (Concord)
Kim Nalley - She Put a Spell on Me (C.E. Jazz and Blues)
Lauren Newton - Face It (Leo)
Les Baxter - Unchained Melodies (Asy Living Era) - Reissue
London 2004: At the Festival Hall - Anthony Braxton (City Hall)
Marian McPartland - With You in My Mind (DRG) - Reissue
Marion Harris - Look for the Silver Lining (Living Era) - Reissue
Mark O'Leary - Closure (Leo)
Marla Gibbs - It's Never Too Late (Forever 30)
Memphis Slim - I Am the Blues (Passport Audio) - Reissue
Mindi Abair - Life Less Ordinary (Verve)
Missy Elliott - Take Away (Wea)
Peter Madsen - Prevue of Tomorrow (Playscape Recordings)
Philippe Saisse Trio - Body & Soul Sessions (Rendezvous)
Randy Johnston - Live at the Smithsonian Jazz Cafe (Mel Bay) - DVD-Video
Rita Lee - Bossa N Beatles (Ghordo Music)
Robert Jospe - Heart Beat (Random Chance)
Rosemary Clooney - Collectables Classics (Collectables) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Sergio Mendes - Collectables Classics (Collectables) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Sergio Mendes - Collectables Classics (Collectables) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Sherman Irby - Black Warrior (Black Warrior)
Shorty Rogers - Sweetheart of Sigmund Freud (Giant Steps) - Reissue
Sterling - Sterling (File Thirteen) - Reissue
Tommy Dorsey - Stage Show (Sounds of Yesteryear) - Reissue
Valerie King - Only Time Will Tell (Kangu)
Vic Damone - Collectables Classics (Collectables) - 2+ CDs
Vic Damone - Collectables Classics (Collectables) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Yes - 9012 Live (Image) - DVD-Video

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Mindi Abair | Life Less Ordinary

April 18, 2006 GRP Records releases Life Less Ordinary, Mindi Abair's New Album. The personnel of this CD is: Mindi Abair - Alto Saxophone, Vocal, Keyboards; Matthew Hager -Programming, Guitar, Bass, Producer, Percussion, Keyboards; Mike Landau - Guitar; Ricky Petersen - Piano, Organ and others. Life Less Ordinary launches its seduction of the listener's senses with the cool, clubby/soulful chill of "Do You Miss Me, " a track that, for Abair, captures the mood of the whole project."The reason it's first is that if you like it, you'll like the rest of the album, " she says. "It's got a little of everything, it always makes me want to dance, and the title is a perfect sentiment about me being on the road all the time."

With its swirling mix of nouveau-old school percussion, trippy atmospheres and energetic horns, the next song chronicles her "Long Ride Home" perfectly. "It's a great driving song, a Euro-inspired tune we had a lot of fun with, " she says.

"The Joint" is a down and dirty, rock/soul jam that's both retro and raucous; Robinson keeps it swinging, while Abair's alto takes a sexy low road over Peterson's Wurlitzer and organ harmonies. "I've come up the ranks playing in so many little dives. There's an energy to being in a broken down vibey club and feeling like you're one with the audience. I wanted to capture that feeling of a smoky dark room filled with people shaking their bodies to the beat."

Abair takes a 180-degree turn emotionally for the next track, the darkly ambient and emotionally wrenching ballad "Rain, " which was inspired in part by the victims of Hurricane Katrina. "It starts out with a melancholy air, but as it emerges, it becomes more optimistic, " she says. "It captures the way we respond to a tragedy of that magnitude, with sadness that gives way to determination and strength to survive." Songs like the peppy and playful "True Blue" (which features some of Abair's most catchy and mouthwatering wordless harmony vocals ever) and the boldly produced, jangly pop-rocker "Bloom" have the joyful feel of Abair's most familiar pop hits, while the percussive, crunch-funk hip-hop grooves of "Slinky" propel her further into a new sound that will no doubt become the standard for the ever evolving fusion of instrumental jazz, chill and pop.

Perhaps more than any other track, the sweetly-rendered Brazilian-tinged vocal track "Ordinary Love" sums up Abair's attitude towards love. Where most love songs address the intense passion at the beginning or the heartbreak at the end, Mindi pens a playful and endearing song which celebrates the sustaining beauty and freedom of every day, or ordinary, love. In what is now a Mindi Abair signature, she ends the CD with a lonely heartfelt ballad "Far Away". "It started out with me singing the melody and playing it on piano to demo the song. I always envisioned it with soprano saxophone as the main instrument, but when we recorded the saxophone track, we forgot to mute the "guide" vocal that I had put down. The two were so haunting together. We kept it!"

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Gerald Albright | New Beginnings

The best songs on New Beginnings come before the midway point. Even so, the rest isn’t bad. With a variable lineup of sidemen, including Walter and Wallace Scott of the Whispers, Jeff Lorber and Paul Jackson Jr., Gerald Albright delivers a nice mix of smooth jazz and instrumental soul grooves on his Peak Records debut.

Albright began professionally by touring with keyboardist Patrice Rushen, who appears on the title song, and becoming a first-call fixture by other recording and touring acts, including Barry White, the Temptations, Stanley Clarke and Teena Marie. He backed Anita Baker in the mid-1980s and was later signed to Atlantic Records, just as the style of music known as smooth jazz became popular—although several years passed before radio began calling it that. He’s also toured with Phil Collins, who discusses their relationship in the liner notes.

Nine of the twelve tracks are Albright originals, mostly in collaboration with his bandmates. Ironically, the title reflects Albright’s family's recent move and his new relationship with Peak Records, a change which he says has given him more creative freedom. The irony is that more than half the songs are cut by formula, similar to the hordes of sax-led pop instrumentals already on the market. One has to wonder what freedom was required to employ drum programming on so many tracks when Albright’s touring drummer, Tony Moore, appears on only three—two of them covers of “Georgia on My Mind.”

Still, New Beginnings is a nice package. It opens with the high-energy “We Got the Groove,” which features a tour de force by Albright on alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, flute, and bass guitar. He’s joined by Jeff Lorber on keyboards and guitar, Paul Jackson, Jr. on guitar and Teddy Campbell on drums. The title song, appropriately, is one of the most freely expressive tracks on the album. Rushen’s acoustic piano adds a touch of elegance. The Scott brothers appear for a fresh arrangement of the Whispers’ “And the Beat Goes On” that, while listenable, doesn’t draw attention from the original. Perhaps the best track on the album is the Hoagy Carmichael/Stuart Gorrell classic, “Georgia on My Mind.” With Tracy Carter on keys, Melvin Davis on bass, John “Jubu” Smith and Moore on drums, Albright is in the zone. Playing alto and tenor saxophones, he delivers a powerful lead on this soul/blues offering. The song is reprised at the end of the album.

Extensive programming and play-it-safe melodies dominate this mostly formulaic recording, but that’s not necessarily bad. Ultimately, what matters is whether the music is any good. How it’s made shouldn’t matter, but it often does, taking a lot away from excellent performances by the lead artists. That isn’t the case with New Beginnings. It helps that Albright does much of the programming. Add the soulful elements and you have an album that, while formulaic on the surface, is all-around pleasant.

Visit Gerald Albright on the web.

By Woodrow Wilkins Jr.-

Larry Carlton | Fire Wire

If veteran session guitarist Larry Carlton’s Sapphire Blue (Bluebird, 2004) was a first shot at the bow of those who’d written him off as too smooth, Fire Wire is a veritable volley. Sapphire Blue found Carlton in a more energetic, blues-based context, but his trademark singing tone still spoke the language of jazz. Leaving all such references behind, Fire Wire is more rock instrumental than jazz fusion—and the rawest album he’s made in his forty-year career.

The laid-back minor blues of “The Prince” is a respite from the energy of the rest of the record. Carlton restricts himself to acoustic guitar and demonstrates, once again, his debt to legendary bluesman B.B. King. “Inkblot 11,” on the other hand, is a flat-out, pedal-to-the-metal rocker. Even the inclusion of the Sapphire Blue Horn Section does little to soften the wide-legged rock stance of Carlton’s gritty tone and searing lines.

Carlton’s writing on Fire Wire is his most direct, least complicated to date. Complex harmonies are nowhere to be found, nor are there any odd bars to break up the pulsing rock groove of songs like the four-to-the-floor “Double Cross.” His language may be simpler, but his ability to squeeze the most out of every bend, and phrase in ways that maximize every note, keeps Fire Wire in context with the rest of his nearly two dozen solo records. If Blow by Blow (Epic, 1975) proved Jeff Beck’s ability to transfer his visceral rock style into a jazz fusion setting, Fire Wire shows Carlton’s ability to move in an opposite direction. The changes are simpler, but Carlton remains ever an inventive player, even when speaking in those terms.

The head-banging “Big Trouble” is a blues-based track that might fit into fellow session player Robben Ford’s repertoire, but Carlton’s rough power chords and the Sapphire Blue Horn Section’s forceful lines make it harder-edged than even Ford’s work with the collaborative Jing Chi.

Still, despite the potency of the majority of these ten tracks, Carlton also knows how to pace things, as with “Goodbye,” his gentle take on Americana—in many ways similar to Bill Frisell’s approach to the traditional “Shenandoah” on Good Dog, Happy Man (Nonesuch, 1999). But while Frisell is never anything less than completely and equally honest, Carlton possesses none of his idiosyncratic quirkiness, making “Goodbye” more direct and to the point.

The core quartet's other members, drummer Matt Chamberlain, bassist Michael Rhodes and keyboardist Jeff Babko, get little solo space. Still, they’re the perfect rhythm section—loose and responsive when required, tight and completely in synch behind Carlton elsewhere.

One could argue that by moving away from the smooth leanings of his more recent work, Carlton runs the risk of alienating a core fan group. But anyone who’s followed Carlton’s forty-year career knows that his tastes run wide. On first glance Fire Wire may appear to be an anomaly, but given Carlton’s ever-present less-is-more approach, its raw lyricism and avoidance of excess place it completely in context.

Visit Larry Carlton on the web

By John Kelman -

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Dave Koz Cancels Summer Show, Delays New CD

The ever-busy saxophonist will be focusing on his record label, his new CD and the Rendezvous All Stars tour.

Saxophonist Dave Koz, who every year has been a familiar face on smooth jazz stages, has announced that he will be taking some time off from touring but will return in 2007 with a full schedule of shows. His last show was earlier this month when he performed in Japan for the first time.

Koz’s hiatus means there will be no Dave Koz & Friends: A Smooth Summer Night tour this year, which has been held four years in a row, and it is uncertain if the Dave Koz & Friends holiday show will return for the 10th straight year. At this point, Koz is scheduled to make his return to the stage in November during the second annual Dave Koz & Friends at Sea cruise.

For much of 2006 Koz will be focusing more on Rendezvous Entertainment, the record label he founded and now serves as its Senior VP of Development. He’ll also be more involved in producing projects for the label, which includes smooth jazz artists such as Marc Antoine, Wayman Tisdale, Michael Lington, Kirk Whalum, Brian Simpson and Jonathan Butler. In addtion, Koz is behind the scenes creatively with the brand-new Rendezvous All Stars tour, which will be traveling the country with Tisdale, Whalum, Butler and Simpson.

Koz will continue to produce his weekday radio show on KTWV in Los Angeles and his popular weekly syndicated program, The Dave Koz Radio Show. He'll also remain focuses on his next album with producer Phil Ramone, which features movie theme songs.

The follow-up to Koz’s Saxophonic CD from 2003 was originally to be released this year but has been pushed back to 2007.

An original post by Brian Soergel at

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Jazz at Lincoln Center Opens New Orleans Residency Featuring World Premiere

The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and music director Wynton Marsalis will open a weeklong residency in New Orleans tomorrow.

The visit, part of Jazz at Lincoln Center's efforts to help New Orleans recover after Hurricane Katrina, will include master classes, clinics, workshops, and performances. On April 23, the LCJO and Ghana's Odadaa! will present the world premiere of Congo Square, a new work by Marsalis and Yacub Addy, the leader of Odadaa!

The 80-minute cross-cultural work was inspired by the public square in New Orleans where Africans gathered to play the music of their homeland in the 18th and 19th centuries. According to Jazz at Lincoln Center, the site was the only place in the United States where the regular performance of African music was permitted during the slavery era.

After its premiere in Louis Armstrong Park, Congo Square will be heard on tour in Florida, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C. It will get its New York City debut on May 4 at JALC's Rose Hall as part of a series focusing on New Orleans jazz.

Marsalis, a native of New Orleans, helped organize a benefit for New Orleans at JALC last September. He is currently a chair of Louisiana's National Advisory Board of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism and a member of the Bring Back New Orleans Commission.

By Ben Mattison -

Saturday, April 15, 2006

MSN Video Bands Together With Music Legends for Video Webcast of the 2006 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

MSN is celebrating the return of the legendary New Orleans Jazz&Heritage musical event by bringing select performances into homes around the globe April 28-30 and May 5-7. MSN has entered into an agreement with the 2006 New Orleans Jazz&Heritage Festival to be the exclusive webcast provider of the first Jazz Fest following the catastrophic events of Hurricane Katrina and will donate all the advertising proceeds to benefit New Orleans Katrina Relief efforts. The webcast is scheduled to include concert performances by globally popular artists such as Jimmy Buffett, Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and the Dave Matthews Band, as well New Orleans music legends including Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas and Buckwheat Zydeco. Viewers can tune in to the festival coverage at .

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Friday, April 14, 2006

Cassandra Wilson Album Debuts at Number Two on Jazz Chart

Vocalist Cassandra Wilson's Thunderbird made its first appearance on the Billboard jazz chart this week at number two.

The album, her sixth on the Blue Note label, features blues songs by Blind Lemon Jefferson and Willie Dixon, Jakob Dylan's "Closer to You," and songs by producer T-Bone Burnett and members of her band, who include keyboardist Keith Ciancia, drummer Jim Keltner, bassist Reginald Veal, guitarists Colin Linden and Marc Ribot, and producer Mike Elizondo.

Michael Bublé's It's Time remained at number one, while Chris Botti's To Love Again fell to number three and Bublé's Caught in the Act dropped to number four.

Also new to the chart was guitarist Pat Martino's Remember: A Tribute to Wes Montgomery at number 11; singer Erin Boheme's What Love Is at number 17; Sangam, from saxophonist Charles Lloyd, tabla player Zakir Hussain, and drummer Eric Harland, at number 20; and guitarist Mimi Fox's Perpetually Hip at number 23.

On the contemporary-jazz chart, Herbie Hancock's Possibilities remained at number one. Medeski Martin and Wood's Note Bleu: Best of the Blue Note Years, 1998-2005 debuted at number six. New entries also included an "urban jazz" compilation called Sweet & Sexy at number 13 and saxophonist Nelson Rangell's Souls to Souls at number 15.

By Ben Mattison -

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

At the Blue Note, Chick Corea Returns to a Familiar Sound

When Chick Corea formed Return to Forever in 1971, it was a bright and airy proposition. His Fender Rhodes piano chimed and chirruped over Latin American rhythms; female vocals commingled with the soothing flutter of a flute. Then the ensemble muscled up and morphed into a hyperactive fusion band, establishing pop-chart presence and a fan base to match. To the extent that there is a Return to Forever legacy, it encompasses both these dynamic extremes, each a facet of Mr. Corea's personality.

The band that Mr. Corea is leading this week at the Blue Note signals a return to Return to Forever, though not in the strictest sense. It features Airto Moreira, the percussionist on those springy early albums, and Eddie Gomez, an acoustic bassist whose bond with Mr. Corea began just after the band's demise. Mr. Gomez fills the role that originally belonged to Stanley Clarke, the only musician besides Mr. Corea to last through every Return to Forever permutation. That central involvement explains one consequence of Mr. Clarke's nonparticipation here: the Blue Note is billing the trio, coyly, as Forever Returns.

Another consequence plays out in the music, which bypasses fusion altogether. Tuesday night's late set had a Brazilian thrust, something that typifies Mr. Corea's history with both Mr. Gomez and Mr. Moreira. Less expectedly, the set included as many standards as original compositions: one by Antonio Carlos Jobim and a consecutive pair by Richard Rodgers. Of course, the Jobim tune, "Desafinado," was a bossa nova; one of the Rodgers songs, "With a Song In My Heart," was recast as a samba.

Mr. Corea has always been a percussionist at heart, and he indulged that affinity with a cowbell, some shakers and a Brazilian hand drum. At the piano, his articulation was flinty, almost metallic, conveying a palpable sense of hammers striking strings. On the Fender Rhodes, which he used for most of the set, his playing was softer-edged but still fundamentally rhythmic, even when he tweaked a knob on a console to wobble the pitch of a phrase.

There was naturally just as much rhythm in the twitchy virtuosity of Mr. Gomez, whose strongest solo was on "But Beautiful," the second Rodgers tune; and in the drumming of Mr. Moreira, which embodied the sort of earthy imprecision that rarely has occasion to flourish in Mr. Corea's working bands.

Mr. Moreira occasionally grabbed a microphone to issue guttural chants and straining cries, an effect as often grating as it was involving. But his connection with Mr. Corea is still a joyous mystery; wheeling through the vintage Corea compositions "La Fiesta" and "500 Miles High," they offered a hint of what made Return to Forever feel special in the first place.

Chick Corea continues through Sunday at the Blue Note, 131 West Third Street, Greenwich Village; (212) 475-8592.


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June Pointer, Member of Pointer Sisters, Dies at 52

June Pointer, a founding member of the Grammy Award-winning pop group the Pointer Sisters, which stormed the charts with hits such as ``I'm So Excited,'' has died at the age of 52, according to the group's Web site.

Pointer, who was the lead vocalist on ``Jump (For My Love)'' and ``He's So Shy,'' died of cancer in Santa Monica, California, the group said today in the statement.

Pointer was the youngest of four sisters who started the group in their native San Francisco Bay area in the early 1970s, according to the Web site. The group sang back-up for artists such as Boz Scaggs and Taj Mahal before recording its first album in 1973.

The Pointer Sisters became a trio when Bonnie Pointer left for a solo career in 1977, according to the Web site. June Pointer recorded her first solo album in 1983 and later left the group as well.

The group won a Grammy Award in 1975 for Best Country Performance by a duo or group, and won two more in 1985. Its cover version of Bruce Springsteen's ``Fire'' reached No. 2 on the pop charts in 1978 while ``Slow Hand'' hit No. 2 three years later, according to the Web site.

The group still performs as a trio and includes Issa Pointer, daughter of founding member Ruth Pointer Sayles. The remaining sister is Anita Pointer.

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Soul Ballet To ARTizen

The recently formed collective of Steve Chapman, Rick Braun, Richard Elliot and Al Evers -- known as ARTizen Music Group, signs musician/actor Rick Kelly's Soul Ballet to a three-album joint venture deal. Soul Ballet's 2005 single "Cream" enjoyed 12 weeks at No. 1 on R&R's Smooth Jazz Chart. Kelly recently completed a TV pilot for the Fox Network, a Jerry Bruckheimer production, American Crime, which co-stars Victor Garber of Alias.

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Smooth Jazz Top Ten | Week Ended 4/14/06

LW TW Artist Title (Label)
1 - 1 - Paul Brown - "Winelight" (GRP/VMG)
2 - 2 - Najee - "2nd 2 None" - (Heads Up International)
5 - 3 - Brian Culbertson - "Let's Get Started" - (GRP/VMG)
3 - 4 - Nils - "Summer Nights" (Baja/TSR)
4 - 5 - Richard Elliot - "Mystique" (Artizen)
6 - 6 - Kim Waters - "Steppin' Out" (Shanachie)
7 - 7 - Michael Lington - "Pacifica" (Rendezvous)
8 - 8 - Brian Simpson - "It's All Good" (Rendezvous)
13 - 9 - Philippe Saisse - "Trio Do It Again" (Rendezvous)
10 - 10 - Marion Meadows - "Suede" - (Heads Up)

Visit to view the latest complete Smooth Jazz ® National Airplay© listings.

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'Legends of Jazz' refrain: Bring back a beautiful genre

"If you're just cruising through channels, and you're not a jazz lover, and you stay there for a minute, we're going to grab you," promises host Ramsey Lewis.

Jazz has been missing from weekly network television for 40 years. A new PBS series is bringing it back.
On Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis, premiering this month (check local station schedules for broadcast times), the affable pianist hopes to help restore the genre to mainstream popularity.

Lewis has hosted a widely syndicated radio show of the same name for the past five years, attracting 5 million to 8 million listeners each weekend.

The 13-week series features half-hour themed segments with Lewis interviewing a wide range of stellar musicians who play before a live studio audience. The show is produced by Chicago public television station WTTW11 and LRSmedia, which is a partnership of Lewis and music industry veterans Lee Rosenberg and Larry Rosen. It is shot in multi-camera high-definition TV with Dolby Surround audio.

Lewis is confident the music will win people over if it's made easily accessible.

"The format is not Jazz 101, and its not a documentary," Lewis says. "The conversation's enlightening and sometimes humorous. And the look is so beautiful if you're just cruising through channels, and you're not a jazz lover, and you stay there for a minute, we're going to grab you."

For jazz fans, it's a chance to see once-in-a-lifetime collaborations such as Dave Brubeck and Billy Taylor on "The Piano Masters" segment or Phil Woods and David Sanborn on "The Altos"

A blend of veteran and rising stars are on the shows. "The Golden Horns" features trumpeters Clark Terry, Roy Hargrove and Chris Botti; "The Jazz Singers" has Al Jarreau and Kurt Elling.

The show was the brainchild of Lewis and Rosen, who along with pianist Dave Grusin in 1982 founded GRP Recordings. Lewis approached Rosen three years ago about finding ways to expand on his radio audience. Rosen said a TV show that was visually competitive with the likes of MTV could work.

Jazz was America's pop music for the first half of the 20th century, but with the ascendance of rock and roll in the mid-'60s, major advertisers began chasing the burgeoning youth market, and TV shows such as Oscar Brown Jr.'s Jazz Scene USA and Ralph Gleason's Jazz Casual lost sponsorships almost overnight. The consolidation of the radio and record industries into a few large corporations with their emphasis on quick-profit hits further squeezed jazz.

But Lewis says the success of his radio show, as well as the proliferation of high school jazz bands and competitions and college degree programs, proves there is a large underserved market. Rosen says TV is the key to reaching them and expanding on that audience.

"You see what happened with Ken Burns' Jazz," Rosen says, referring to the 19-hour PBS documentary that aired in 2001. "Even though it was a historical piece, it generated excitement. When the record companies put out compilations with the Ken Burns brand on it, all of a sudden they sold way beyond what those compilations ever sold before.

"And then you have American Idol, where you have people who would probably never have been signed to record companies get all this exposure and go out and sell a million units."

The Legends of Jazz brand also will be used to sell CDs and DVDs; a website,, promotes the discs and programming. This fall, Lewis will lead a multi-city Legends of Jazz tour.

By Steve Jones, USA TODAY

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Upcoming Jazz Releases | April 11, 2006

Upcoming Jazz Releases

Afro-Latin Soultet - Wild! (Harkit)
Alain Jean-Marie - Biguine Reflections (Fremeaux & Assoc. Fr)
Alan Nicholls - Songs from the Source (Justin Time)
Andrew Suvalsky - Vintage Pop and the Jazz Sides (LML)
Antoine Herve - Hervés Inside (Nocturne) - Reissue
Antonio Carlos Jobim - Rio Nights Live (Via Sonido) - Reissue
Antonio Carlos Jobim - Tide (Universal) - Reissue
Astrud Gilberto - Album (Universal) - Reissue
Astrud Gilberto - Beach Samba (Universal) - Reissue
Astrud Gilberto - Look to the Rainbow (Universal) - Reissue
Astrud Gilberto - Shadow of Your Smile (Universal) - Reissue
Astrud Gilberto - Windy (Universal) - Reissue
Astrud Gilberto - Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness (Universal) - Reissue
Baden Powell - Canto on Guitar (Universal)
Baden Powell - Images on Guitar (Universal)
Baden Powell - Poema on Guitar (Universal)
Baden Powell - Tristeza on Guitar (Universal)
Basement Boys - Basement Boys Present Mudfoot Jones (Savoy Jazz)
Betty Carter - Meet Betty Carter & Ray Bryant (MSI) - Reissue
Bill Warfield - A Faceless Place (Laurel Hill)
Buck Clayton / Earl Hines All Stars - Jazz from a Swinging Era (Lonehill) - Reissue
Catherine Russell - Cat (World Village)
Charles Moffet - Internet (Piadrum)
Chet Baker Quartet - On the Road - Live in LA and Boston '54 (Giant Steps) - Reissue
Chip Shelton - Peacetime (Summit)
Chris Speed, Oscar Noriega, Anthony Burr - The Clarinets (Skirl)
Chuck Redd - Happy All The Time: Chuck Redd Remembers Barney Kessel (Arbors)
Coleman Hawkins - Desafinado (Universal) - Reissue
Curtis Hasselbring - The New Mellow Edwards (Skirl)
Dave Liebman / Steve Swallow / Adam Nussbaum - We Three: Three for All (Challenge)
Don Ralke - Savage & The Sensuous (Harkit) - Reissue
Eric Vloeimans - Summersault (Challenge)
Freddie Keppard - Complete Set 1923-1926 (Retrieval) - Reissue
Gary McFarland - Soft Samba (Universal) - Reissue
Gary McFarland / Stan Getz - Big Band Bossa Nova (Universal) - Reissue
Gary Unwin - Kindred Spirits (Summit)
Georg Graewe / Ernst Reijseger / Gerry Hemingway - Continuum (Winter & Winter)
George Johnson, Jr. - All Star Tribute (BCS)
Grismore / Scea Group - Well Behaved Fish (Accurate Records)
Groove Collective - Live & Hard to Find (Kufala)
Hal Blaine - Drums! Drums! A Go Go (Harkit) - Reissue
Hallelujah Chicken Band - Take One (Alula)
Harvie S - Funky Cha (Zoho)
Herbie Hancock - Monster (Columbia) - Reissue
Jimi Hendrix / Otis Redding - Jimi Plays Monterey / Shake! Otis at Monterey (Image) - DVD-Video
Joao Gilberto - Joao Gilberto (Universal) - Reissue
Joe Haider - Mysterious (Double Moon)
Jon Eardley & Chico Hamilton / Lee Konitz / Gerry Mulligan Quartet Featuring Chet Baker - On the Road - Live in California (Giant Steps) - Reissue
Kip Hanrahan - A Thousand Nights & A Night (American Clave) - Reissue
Kip Hanrahan - Exotica (American Clave) - Reissue
Lee Gagnon Quartet - Jazze Canadienne (Harkit) - Reissue
Linda Dachtyl - Blue Bop (Summit)
Luis Russell - The Luis Russell Story 1929-1934 (Retrieval) - Reissue
Luiz Bonfa - Bossa Nova (Universal) - Reissue
Luiz Bonfa / Stan Getz - Jazz Samba Encore (Universal) - Reissue
Luiz Henrique / Walter Wanderley - Popcorn (Universal) - Reissue
Marcos Valle - Samba 68 (Universal) - Reissue
Marty Grosz - Marty Grosz and His Hot Combination (Arbors)
Milt Jackson - Jazz N Samba (Universal) - Reissue
Monsieur Dubois - Ruff (Challenge)
Norberto Pedreira Quartet - Cuarenta Anos (Nord Sud)
Norberto Pedreira Quartet - Tristeza on Piano (Nord Sud)
Omar Sosa - Remix Album (Ota)
Orchestre National de Jazz - Close to Heaven: Led Zeppelin Tribute (Chant du Monde)
Oscar Peterson - Soul Espanol (Universal) - Reissue
Oscar Peterson - Tristeza on Piano (Universal) - Reissue
Patrick Artero - 2 Bix But Not too Bix (Nocturne) - Reissue
Paul Haines - Darn It! (American Clave) - Reissue
Ray Barretto - Indestructible (Fania) - Reissue
Riverside City College Vocal Jazz Ensemble - Groovin' Hard (Sea Breeze Vista)
Roseanna Vitro - Live at the Kennedy Center (Challenge)
Shot X Shot - Shot X Shot (High Two / Aum Fidelity)
Stan Getz - Getz / Almeida (Universal) - Reissue
Sun Ra - Live at Roadhouse (Transparency) - DVD-Video
Sun Ra - Live in Oakland (Transparency) - DVD-Video
Sun Ra - Concert for the Comet Kohoutek (ESP-Disk') - Reissue
Tamba 4 - Samba Blim (Universal) - Reissue
Tamba 4 - We & The Sea (Universal) - Reissue
Ted Heath - Salutes Tommy Dorsey & Benny Goodman (Dutton) - Reissue
Ted Reichman - My Ears Are Bent (Skirl)
Thad - Vintage Orchestra (Nocturne) - Reissue
Tony Kinsey - Decca Sessions (Harkit) - Reissue
Ultrablue - Ultrablue (215)
University of Northern Iowa Jazz Band One - Memento (Sea Breeze Vista)
University of Wisconsin Eau Clair Jazz Ensemble I - Jazz in Clear Water - Lockbox (Sea Breeze Vista)
Vandermark 5 - Free Jazz Classics Vol. 3 & 4 (Atavistic) - 2+ CDs
Various Artists - Klute: OST (Harkit) - Reissue
Vijay Iyer - Bloodsutra (Pi)
Vince Seneri - Street Talk (Senful)
Walter Wanderley - Batucada (Universal) - Reissue
Walter Wanderley - Cheganca (Universal) - Reissue
Wilton Felder - Let's Spend Some Time (BCS)

Information provided by

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Friday, April 07, 2006

Gerald Albright Album Debuts at Number One on Billboard Chart

Saxophonist Gerald Albright's New Beginning made its first appearance on the Billboard contemporary-jazz chart this week at number one.

The album includes several original tracks as well as versions of "And the Beat Goes On" and "Georgia on My Mind."

Herbie Hancock's Possibilities fell to number two after spending 21 of the last 31 weeks in the top spot.

Also new to the chart was Pieces of a Dream's Pillow Talk, at number 11.

On the jazz chart, Michael Bublé's It's Time continued its long run at number one. New entries included legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius's The Word Is Out!, recorded with a big band, at number 10; trumpeter Christian Scott's major-label debut, Rewind That, at number 13; and pianist Taylor Eigsti's Lucky to Be Me at number 15.

By Ben Mattison

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Pieces Of A Dream | Pillow Talk

In a way, Pieces of a Dream is the Steely Dan of smooth jazz. For most of its existence, “The Dan” was Donald Fagen, Walter Becker and an ever-changing assortment of session musicians. Pieces of a Dream is James K. Lloyd and Curtis Harmon. And like Steely Dan, Pieces of a Dream employs a variable mix of session musicians and vocalists for its studio releases. This holds true with Pillow Talk.

The group took its name from “Pieces of Dreams,” the cover of a Stanley Turrentine song it performed in its early years. The band developed a laid-back sound, mixing urban grooves with contemporary jazz in the spirit of Grover Washington Jr., who helped Pieces get started. That style, pioneered by artists like Washington and Bob James, ultimately came to be known as smooth jazz. Pieces of a Dream, now celebrating its 30th anniversary, is one of the genre’s most consistent and durable acts.

Pillow Talk opens with the energetic “House Arrest,” which features founding member Harmon with Bennie Sims sharing keyboards, bass and programming duties, complemented by Eddie Baccus Jr. on saxophone. One of the more exciting tunes is “Wake Up Call,” with a danceable beat that highlights Lloyd’s piano skills, supported by terrific horn and bass synths. Harmon adds acoustic drums and percussion, while Todd Parsnow delivers a slick, but perhaps too-brief, electric guitar solo. Romana Dunlap, who has performed with the group previously, sings lead on the sassy “Triflin’” and the delightful “Those 3 Words.” Tony Watson Jr. brings in a groovy tenor sax solo to “Teresa,” an easygoing track that displays hints of straight jazz, particularly with Lloyd’s Bob James-like piano lead.

Over the years, I’ve been critical of drum programming, singling out Lloyd as one of contemporary jazz’s main culprits. But there’s a distinction between programs created by the album artist and those generated by a hired gun. If the person writing and performing the song also does the programming, the least that can be said is the rhythm is woven into the song, instead of sounding like some pre-fabricated track that happened to match the tempo. The latter is often distracting, if not annoying. Not so with the work on Pillow Talk. The bass synths are very effective, and the drum tracks are cleaner and crisper than typical programs.

Another interesting thing about Pillow Talk is the formulaic running time. The twelve tracks have a variance of only 42 seconds; most songs are just over four minutes. Normally, that makes for a bland album. Not here, however. The songs are so dissimilar that the time is merely an afterthought. Having said that, Pillow Talk is much more enjoyable than 2004’s No Assembly Required, which was pleasant but could have been better. Whether it’s a change in equipment, better programming techniques or simply fresher writing, Lloyd and Harmon have definitely elevated their game. And because of that, Pillow Talk is a winner.

By Woodrow Wilkins Jr. -

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Don Alias, 66, Percussionist and Sideman, Is Dead

Don Alias in a tribute to Jaco Pastorius at the JVC Jazz Festival in 2005.Don Alias, a percussionist who had a long career as a sought-after sideman, working with an illustrious array of artists in jazz and pop including Nina Simone, Miles Davis and Joni Mitchell, died on March 28 at his home in Manhattan. He was 66.

His death was announced by Melanie Futorian, his companion, who said the cause was under investigation.

Born Charles Donald Alias to Caribbean parents in New York, Mr. Alias liked to say that he learned percussion on the streets, picking up the techniques of Cuban and Puerto Rican hand drummers.

While in high school, he enlisted as a conga player with the Eartha Kitt Dance Foundation, which offered classes at a Y.M.C.A. Ms. Kitt herself took him along to the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival, where he performed with the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra, his first professional experience.

At the urging of his family, Mr. Alias (pronounced uh-LIE-ess) studied biology at Gannon College in Erie, Pa., and the Carnegie Institute for Biochemistry in Boston. Playing in Boston clubs by night, he met students from the Berklee School of Music, most notably the bassist Gene Perla.

It was Mr. Perla who got Mr. Alias a job as a drummer with Ms. Simone, even though he had no experience with a full drum kit. He handled the challenge and eventually became Ms. Simone's musical director. In 1969, his work in her ensemble caught the attention of Miles Davis, who was then developing the hazy jazz-rock that would suffuse his album "Bitches Brew."

Hired as an auxiliary percussionist for the album, Mr. Alias ended up playing a trap-set part, along with Jack DeJohnette, on the track "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down." His lean and loosely syncopated beat, inspired by New Orleans parade music, is one of the album's most distinctive rhythms.

Mr. Alias played the role of trap drummer again on a 1979 concert tour with Joni Mitchell, in a band that included the saxophonist Michael Brecker, the guitarist Pat Metheny and the bassist Jaco Pastorius. A live recording from the tour, "Shadows and Light," is often cited as a favorite among musicians.

Mr. Alias was the first-call percussionist for a host of other artists as well, including the singer Roberta Flack, the alto saxophonist David Sanborn (with whom he toured as recently as February) and the pianist Herbie Hancock. As a conga player, Mr. Alias could augment a rhythm section in a way that was urgent but never intrusive.

He also had a hand in forming two bands: Stone Alliance, an electric fusion project with Mr. Perla and the saxophonist Steve Grossman, and Kebekwa, a percussion ensemble based in Montreal. Kebekwa was short-lived, but several years ago Stone Alliance reunited after a two-decade hiatus. The group has three recent live albums on the Mambo Maniacs label.

In addition to Ms. Futorian, Mr. Alias is survived by his mother, Violet Richardson Alias; his son, Charles Donald Alias Jr.; his daughter, Kimberlee Marisa Alias; and four grandchildren.


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Smooth Jazz Top Ten | Week Ended 4/7/06

LW TW Artist Title (Label)
1 - 1 - Paul Brown - "Winelight" (GRP/VMG)
4 - 2 - Najee - "2nd 2 None" - (Heads Up International)
3 - 3 - Nils - "Summer Nights" (Baja/TSR)
2 - 4 - Richard Elliot - "Mystique" (Artizen)
5 - 5 - Brian Culbertson - "Let's Get Started" - (GRP/VMG)
6 - 6 - Kim Waters - "Steppin' Out" (Shanachie)
9 - 7 - Michael Lington - "Pacifica" (Rendezvous)
7 - 8 - Brian Simpson - "It's All Good" (Rendezvous)
8 - 9 - Rick Braun - "Shining Star" (Artizen)
11 - 10 - Marion Meadows - "Suede" - (Heads Up)

Visit to view the latest complete Smooth Jazz ® National Airplay© listings.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Janis Siegel | A Thousand Beautiful Things

Janis Siegel is amazing. One of the principal voices behind The Manhattan Transfer from the start, she’s also an accomplished solo artist. And the fascinating thing is, you never really know what she’s going to do next. Enter A Thousand Beautiful Things. The title may be misleading, because each note counts from the first track to the last, adding up to tens of thousands of beautiful things on this album.

A nine-time Grammy winner and seventeen-time Grammy nominee, Siegel has been a fixture with The Manhattan Transfer for 33 years. She has led some of the group’s most popular songs, including “Twilight Tone,” “The Boy from N.Y.C.,” “Ray’s Rockhouse” and “Birdland.” In addition, she has nine solo albums to her credit, including I Wish You Love, Friday Night Special and Sketches of Broadway. Throughout, Siegel has shown a fondness for standards, but the new album takes a different direction. “As much as I love singing standards, it’s not the only thing I love doing, and eventually I came to the idea of just doing some songs that I love—songs that I think are timely and relevant—in a Latin rhythmic context,” she says.

Among these is the stunning rendition of “I Can’t Help It,” penned by Susaye Cotton Green and Stevie Wonder and recorded on Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall. The rhythm set by Jackson’s version lends itself to a jazz interpretation. It’s definitely a beautiful thing that Siegel took it on, complemented by a sterling trumpet solo from Brian Lynch. At 6:01, it’s the third longest track on the album, offering plenty of room for the ensemble to go exploring.

The title song, a cover of Annie Lennox’s hit, allows even more improvisation. Marlon Saunders, a background singer on most of the tracks, adds an improvised recitation, naming a number of beautiful things as the song winds down. Drummer Steve Hass, a regular with The Manhattan Transfer, on whose Traveler album Siegel appears, layers some sensational support throughout, but particularly during Saunders’ recitation. Edmar Castaneda plays Colombian harp on several tracks, including a duet with Siegel on “A Wish.” On the delightful “The Suitcase Song,” Siegel and her sidemen are backed by Las Siegelitas, a vocal quartet that could easily be called “The Four Sylvias.” Bassist John Benetiz lays down a slick groove on the cover of Paul Simon’s “Love,” punctuated by pianist Edsel Gomez and Hass.

The Latin flavoring, superb musicianship and, of course, Siegel’s vocal dexterity and versatility make this record a keeper. Those who’ve only heard Sigel within the scope of The Manhattan Transfer are in for a jaw-dropping surprise—not that those already familiar with her solo efforts won’t experience the same effect. She’s clearly on top of her game. And the entire album has a sense of fun: Siegel and her supporting cast don’t hold back their own enjoyment of putting this collection together. That clearly is one of A Thousand Beautiful Things.

Visit Janis Siegel on the web.

By Woodrow Wilkins Jr.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

TV Review | 'Legends of Jazz With Ramsey Lewis'

'Legends of Jazz With Ramsey Lewis' Lets Musicians Do the Talking
The publicity for "Legends of Jazz With Ramsey Lewis," a new 13-part series of half-hour shows on public television, boasts that it is the first regular network jazz series of its kind in more than 40 years. That means a perform-a-song and talk-to-the-host kind of show, as opposed to a Ken Burns-like exposition of history. It refers specifically to "Jazz Scene, U.S.A.," a program produced by Steve Allen and broadcast in 1962.

"Legends of Jazz" could have learned from the visual effectiveness of that show, or from good recent examples of studio-filmed jazz like the film "Calle 54." Instead, it wastes a great opportunity with a rictus grin: it is cheerily glib, aggressively middle-of-the-road, deferential toward the past yet purposefully vague enough to be nearly ahistorical, as if this were a quality to be desired.

The host is the pianist Ramsey Lewis, and the format remains the same in each episode: each guest plays a song, the guests play together, and then Mr. Lewis joins them on a version of the show's theme. Whatever spontaneity may have been in the filmed conversations has been largely excised: the interviews are twitchy with edits. His questions, along the lines of "What made you want to pick up the trumpet?," are doggedly polite, basic and weirdly resistant to subtlety and insight.

The guitar episode features Jim Hall with Pat Metheny, and it's probably the series at its best. The idea, generally, is to pair an older master with a younger figure. (Mr. Hall is 75, Mr. Metheny 51.) The mild-looking Mr. Hall is brave enough to utter actual thoughts: first he claims to harbor no nostalgia for the past, then he casually mentions that Ben Webster taught him how to breathe through the guitar like a saxophonist. And bang! comes the edit. (Jazz is so cerebral, you know. It scares people.) But both musicians' performances are worth watching. There's a sense of digging in, and Mr. Metheny brings his regular trio, with the bassist Christian McBride and the drummer Antonio Sanchez.

"The Golden Horns," the trumpet episode that opens the series, represents the show at its worst. The lineage here is Clark Terry, Roy Hargrove and Chris Botti. Clark Terry is one of the best improvising musicians alive; he comes from the generation that grew up in big bands, and he possesses all the secrets about sound and tone and rhythm in jazz, not to mention balancing art and commerce. Mr. Hargrove came along almost 50 years later, in the early 1990's, dealing with post-bop and funk and Cuban music; he has a commitment to maintaining working bands and encouraging younger players.

On the other hand, Mr. Botti, a former sideman for Paul Simon and Sting and a trumpet player of middling talent, has been successfully marketed as a romantic player of standards. This show has no business insinuating that a line of artistic accomplishment connects these three players. Yet without context, you very well might believe that it does: Mr. Botti's performance of "My Funny Valentine" is markedly better filmed than the others, with a darker set and blue lighting from the bottom up.

Mr. Lewis is better when dealing with practiced pluralists: the it's-all-good wing of jazz musicians, like Mr. Botti, the singer Jane Monheit and the keyboardist George Duke. Accordingly, smooth jazz — here it's called "contemporary jazz" — gets an episode of its own. If "Legends of Jazz" were a series about the reality of the jazz business, or about the range of things perceived and marketed as jazz, this would seem like a good idea. But this is apparently a show about the greatest living jazz musicians.

The series was produced by WTTW in Chicago and LRSmedia, a company including Mr. Lewis and Larry Rosen, who used to run the profitable pop-jazz label GRP Records. After GRP, for a few years in the mid-90's, Mr. Rosen ran a multimedia company called N2K. Nearly every time there's a questionable inclusion on the show, it's a former GRP or N2K artist: Mr. Botti, David Sanborn, Lee Ritenour, Ms. Monheit, Marcus Miller, Al Jarreau.

But parsing the show's conversations and second-guessing its list of performers may be the wrong approach. It does put a decent number of excellent musicians on national television. (Others include Eddie Palmieri, Dave Brubeck, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Benny Golson, Chris Potter and Marcus Strickland.) Still, that isn't enough. The ultimate test of jazz on television is whether the music comes across in a hostile medium — how well it suggests the excitement of performance.

What made "Jazz Scene U.S.A." so powerful definitely was not the musicians' short interactions with the host, Oscar Brown Jr. It was the direction and the lighting. You saw amazing camera angles, sustained long enough to allow concentration: a view from under Jimmy Smith's forearm, or from the polish on a snare drum, or an aerial shot showing a pianist's chord voicings. The cameramen got you inside the music and rendered the musicians' faces sympathetic and fascinating.

Here, the camerawork involves constant, thoughtless slow swirls around the musicians, a lot of dull full-figure head-on shots from 10 feet away, and ugly baths of mixed, colored lights. The walls of the set bring to mind a hotel lobby, busy with wood and textile patterns. The graphics — in an Art Deco typeface that suggests something like the Cotton Club in the 1920's — are corny and badly handled.

In all its mainstreaming and common-denominator sense, the show seems to want to deny that jazz is something people care deeply about. But jazz is deep. It is about sound and resonance and great passion. There is a reason people become nearly religious about it. You'd hardly know from watching this.

Legends of Jazz

With Ramsey Lewis

PBS, beginning this month; check local listings

Larry Rosen and Ramsey Lewis, creators and executive producers; Nicolette Ferri, producer; produced by LRSmedia and WTTW.


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Monday, April 03, 2006

Buble Cleans Up At Juno Awards

Vancouver crooner Michael Buble dominated Canada's Junos Awards last night (April 2) in Halifax, grabbing four trophies. He won for best singer, album, artist and pop album of the year for "It's Time" (143/Reprise), a collection of vintage love songs produced by David Foster.

Buble's main competition included "Canadian Idol" alumni Theresa Sokyrka, Kalan Porter and Rex Goudie, all of whom came away from the Canadian kudofest empty-handed.

Other award winners included Alberta rock band Nickelback, which won best group and best rock album for the Roadrunner set "All The Right Reasons." The band went into the Junos with a field-leading six nominations.

Rock legend Neil Young earned trophies for best adult alternative album for "Prairie Wind" (Reprise) and the best producer award. That brings his take over the years to five Junos (and zero Grammys).

Coldplay and the Black Eyed Peas shared the international album of the year award, reflecting retail record sales here of "X&Y" (Capitol) and "Monkey Business (A&M), respectively.

The Juno fan choice award, voted on by the Canadian public, went to Simple Plan, while another rising band, Bedouin Soundclash, earned the new group of the year honor.

Other Juno winners included Broken Social Scene's self-titled Arts & Crafts set for best alternative album, and current Billboard Hot 100 champ Daniel Powter for best new artist of the year.

Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter

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Joey DeFrancesco Album Debuts on Billboard Jazz Chart

Organic Vibes, the latest album from Hammond organ virtuoso Joey DeFrancesco, debuted on the Billboard jazz chart this week at number 17.

The album features vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, saxophonists George Coleman and Ron Blake, guitarist Jake Langley, and drummer Byron Landham. It includes originals by DeFrancesco and Hutcherson as well as such standards as "Speak Low" and "My Foolish Heart."

Also new to the chart were a compilation of Lou Rawls' jazz and blues recordings on Capitol at number 18, saxophonist Odeon Pope's Locked & Loaded: Live at the Blue Note at number 24, and drummer Manu Katché's Neighbourhood at number 25,

Michael Bublé's It's Time continued its lengthy stay at the top of the chart, with Chris Botti's To Love Again: The Duets again at number two and Bublé's Caught in the Act at number three.

On the contemporary-jazz chart, Herbie Hancock's Possibilities remained at number one. New entries included saxophonist Pamela Williams' Elixir, at number three, and guitarist and bandleader Sondre Lerche's Duper Sessions at number five.

By Ben Mattison -

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Upcoming Jazz Releases | April 4, 2006

Upcoming Jazz Releases

Ahmad Jamal - Complete Recordings (Definitive Special Products) - Reissue
Aldo Romano - Chante (Koch)
Andreas Vollenweider - Magical Journeys of Andreas Vollenweider (Savoy Jazz) - DVD-Video
Anouar Brahem - Le Voyage De Sahar (ECM)
Antoine Herve - Inside (Nocturne)
Archie Shepp - Deja Vu (Venus Jazz) - Reissue
Art Ensemble of Chicago - A Jackson in Your House / Message to Our Folks (Snapper) - Reissue
Bill Bruford - Introduction to Summerfold (Summerfold) - Reissue
Bill Evans Trio - Live in Europe 1965 (Lonehill) - Reissue
Billy Cobham - Introducing (Wea/Rhino) - Reissue
Bing Crosby - The Essentials (Big Eye) - Reissue
Bob Dylan - 1975-1981 Rolling Thunder & The Gospel Years (Music Video) - DVD-Video
Bobby Powell - Louisiana Soul (AIM) - Reissue
Cannonball Adderley - Blue Note's Great Sessions (Blue Note) - Reissue
Cassandra Wilson - Thunderbird (Blue Note)
Charles Lloyd - Sangam (ECM)
Chet Baker - Milano Sessions (Promo Sound) - Reissue
Chet Baker - My Funny Valentine: I'll Take Romance (Promo) - Reissue
Chico Hamilton - Nomad (Collectables) - Reissue
Dee Dee Bridgewater - Dee Dee Bridgewater (Collectables) - Reissue
Dennis Chambers - Planet Earth (BHM)
Don Cherry - Mu First Part / My Second Part (Snapper) - Reissue
Donald Byrd / Barry Harris / Yusef Lateef - Complete Recordings (Gambit) - Reissue
Donny McCaslin - Soar (Sunnyside)
Erin Boheme - What Love Is (Concord)
Francesco Cafiso Quartet - Happy Times (CamJazz)
Grachan Moncur III - New Africa / One Morning I Woke Up Very Early (Snapper) - Reissue
Guy Davis - Skunkmello (Red House)
Herb Alpert with Jeff Lorber Band - Live in Montreux (Eagle Vision) - DVD-Video
Herbie Hancock - Blue Note's Great Sessions (Blue Note) - Reissue
Herbie Mann - Introducing (Wea/Rhino) - Reissue
Illinois Jacquet - And His Orchestra / Flies Again (Lonehill) - Reissue
Illinois Jacquet - Go Power (Lonehill) - Reissue
Incognito - Remixed (Verve)
John Medeski - Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz (Concord)
Jon Larsen - Next Step (Hot Club/Qualiton)
Lennie Tristano / Charlie Parker - Complete Recordings (Definitive) - Reissue
Lisa Fuller - Teach Me Tonight (Bizarre Planet)
Marilyn Monroe - The Essentials (Big Eye) - Reissue
Matze Mc / Un - Some Girls (Shift Jazz)
Medeski, Martin & Wood - Greatest Hits (Blue Note)
Michael Buble - Kings of Swing (Fonte Canada)
Mike Westbrook - Citadel/Room 315 (BGO) - Reissue
Miles Davis - Blue Note's Great Sessions (Blue Note) - Reissue
Mimi Fox - Perpetually Hip (Favored Nations) - 2+ CDs
Moncef Genoud - Aqua (Savoy)
Moutin Reunion Quartet - Power Tree (Nocturne) - Reissue
Nat Cole - The Essentials (Big Eye) (Big Eye) - Reissue
Nelson Rangell - Soul to Souls (Koch)
Nika Rejto - Teazing Socrates (Increase)
No Jazz - Have Fun (WEA)
Noberto Pedeira Quartet - Cuarenta Anos (Nord Sud)
Pat Martino - Tribute to Wes Montgomery (Blue Note)
Patrick Artero - 2 Bix But Not Too Bix (Nocturne)
Paul Winter - Brazilian Days (Living Music) - Reissue
Paul Winter - Journey with the Sun (Living Music) - Reissue
Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Brotherman in the Fatherland (The Music Force) - Reissue
Ruby Braff - Complete Duets (Definitive Special Products) - Reissue
Rufus Harley - Re-Creation of the Gods (Transparan)
Sonny Rollins - Blue Note's Great Sessions (Blue Note) - Reissue
Soulphiction - State of Euphoria (Sonar Kollective)
Vintage Orchestra - Thad (Nocturne)
Wayne Shorter - Blue Note's Great Sessions (Blue Note) - Reissue
Yes - 90125 Live (Image) - Reissue - DVD-Video

Information provided by

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Jazz Alto Saxophonist Jackie McLean Dies at 73

Jazz alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, a performer and educator who played with legendary musicians including Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins, died Friday. He was 73.
McLean, a contemporary of some of the 20th century's most famed jazz musicians, died at his Hartford home after a long illness, family members told The Hartford Courant.

McLean was founder and artistic director of the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the University of Hartford's Hartt School. He and his wife, actress Dollie McLean, also founded the Artists Collective, a community center and fine arts school in Hartford's inner city primarily serving troubled youth.

University of Hartford President Walter Harrison said Dollie McLean called him Friday with news of her husband's death.

Harrison said that despite his many musical accomplishments, McLean was a modest man whose connections with his students lasted for decades after they left his classroom.

”He fully understood the way that jazz as an art should be passed down to students, ” Harrison said. “He saw his role as bringing jazz from the 1950s and '60s and handing it down to artists of today.”

McLean, a native of Harlem in New York City, grew up in a musical family, his father playing guitar in Tiny Bradshaw's band. McLean took up the soprano saxophone as a teen and quickly switched to the alto saxophone, inspired by his godfather's performances in a church choir, he told WBGO-FM in Newark, New Jersey, in an interview in 2004.

McLean went on to play with his friend Rollins from 1948-49 in a Harlem neighborhood band under the tutelage of pianist Bud Powell. Through Powell, McLean met bebop pioneer Charlie “Bird” Parker, who became a major influence on the young alto saxophonist.

He made his first recording when he was 19 on Miles Davis' Dig album, also featuring Rollins, which heralded the beginning of the hard-bop style.

In the 1950s, McLean also played with Charles Mingus and Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, experiences that he credited with helping him find his own style.

”I never really sounded like Bird, but that was my mission, ” McLean said in the WBGO radio interview. “I didn't care if people said that I copied him; I loved Bird's playing so much. But Mingus was the one that really pushed me away from the idea and forced me into thinking about having an individual sound and concept.”

McLean made his first recording as a leader in 1955. He drew wide attention with his 1959 debut on Blue Note Records, Jackie's Bag, one of dozens of albums he recorded in the hard-bop and free jazz styles for the label over the next eight years. His 1962 album Let Freedom Ring found him performing with avant-garde musicians.

In 1959-60, he acted in the off-Broadway play “The Connection, ” about jazz musicians and drug addiction. McLean, a heroin addict during his early career, later went on to lecture on drug addiction research.

In 1968, after Blue Note terminated his recording contract, McLean began teaching at the University of Hartford. He taught jazz, African-American music, and African-American history and culture, setting up the university's African American Music Department, which later was named in his honor.

He took a break from recording for much of the 1980s to focus on his work as a music educator, but made his recording comeback in 1988 with Dynasty, and later re-signed with Blue Note. His last Blue Note recordings included Fire and Love (1998), featuring his youthful Macband with son Rene McLean on tenor saxophone, and the ballads album Nature Boy (2000).

He received an American Jazz Masters fellowship, the nation's highest jazz honor, from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2001, and toured the world as an educator and performer.

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