Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Rodrigo y Gabriela | "Rodrigo y Gabriela"

Forget every other acoustic guitar duo you've ever heard. Mexico's Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero up the ante with an album that owes as much to Metallica as it does to Paco De Lucia and Al Di Meola. It's a hard-driving, high decibel, rutting and strutting cathartic melange of metal, jazz, Mexican, Spanish and Gypsy musics. It's also gloriously melodic, and it makes you feel mighty chipper.

Sanchez and Quintero are survivors of Mexico City's early-1990s metal scene, where they combined studies at the music conservatoire with playing in bands inspired by Megadeath and Metallica. Together with the fuck-you attitude to rules and regimes which shines through Rodrigo y Gabriela, this got them thrown out of the college, and towards the end of the decade they decided to take time out on the European busking circuit.

They're still based in Europe (in Dublin, Ireland), but have exchanged dodgy subway pitches for upcoming gigs at New York's Bowery Ballroom and London's Shepherd's Bush Empire--their cover of Led Zeppelin's “Stairway To Heaven,” from this album, recently released in the US, was a massive hit in Europe last summer.

Neither metal nor busking are known for their subtlety, but successful practitioners of both genres know how to get to the point fast--and keep the temperature rising. Sanchez and Quintero are stone ninjas at this, as is the album's only guest musician, the Hungarian Gypsy violinist, Roby Lakatos, who solos on “Ixtapa” and magnificently lives up to his soubriquet, “the devil's fiddler.”

Superficially, Sanchez and Quintero's music resembles flamenco, although in the sleeve notes, the duo deny any connection. But while their music lacks flamenco's rhythmic complexity--its beats are instead drawn from rock and salsa--Sanchez and Quintero employ two key flamenco techniques: furiously strummed power-chords and dagger sharp nail-gun beats (drummed on the bodies of the guitars rather then stamped on the floor).

”Stairway To Heaven” is excellent, but it's bettered by the other cover here, a seven-and-a-half minute version of Metallica's “Orion,” a masterpiece of majestic, posturing swagger. The originals are packed with riffs and ostinatos too, alternating with intricate, single-note, counterpoint passages--but hard-rock dynamics rule pretty much throughout. Produced by John Leckie (Baaba Maal but also The Verve, Stone Roses, Muse and Radiohead), the disc has the raw, unmediated feel of a live set.

The spirit of Rodrigo y Gabriela is summed up by the title of the closing track: “PPA.” The initials stand for Pinche Personal Assistant (pinche is a Mexican term meaning ”fucking”). The track is dedicated to all the puffed-up little step 'n' fetchits in the music business who Sanchez and Quintero have run up against. Yeah, this is music with attitude.

By Chris May -

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Harry Connick, Jr. | "Oh My Nola" - "Chanson du Vieux Carre"

When Hurricane Katrina struck, Harry Connick, Jr. rushed to his hometown days before the National Guard arrived, traveling around the flood-ravaged city to aid the victims and appeal for help on national TV. Connick puts these heartbreaking memories of dead bodies and neglected people to verse in his original song, "All These People," a duet with gospel singer Kim Burrell, that provides a deeply personal centerpiece to his new vocal album, "Oh, My NOLA" (Columbia).

"NOLA," recorded last June, is one of two CDs that Connick is releasing simultaneously just weeks before Mardi Gras. The other, "Chanson du Vieux Carre" (Marsalis Music) is a largely instrumental jazz big band album recorded in 2003 that mixes Connick originals with his updated arrangements of such New Orleans classics as Louis Armstrong's "Someday You'll Be Sorry," Sidney Bechet's "Petite Fleur," and Professor Longhair's "Mardi Gras In New Orleans."

"Chanson" shines a spotlight on Connick's often overlooked jazz big band that boasts some scintillating ensemble playing, a powerful rhythm section, Connick's economical piano solos, and such distinctive soloists as trumpeter Leroy Jones and trombonist Lucien Barbarin. As an arranger, Connick demonstrates a deft touch whether on his own darker "Ash Wednesday" which uses lush orchestral colors a la Duke Ellington or Paul Barbarin's infectiously joyful "Bourbon Street Parade" which climaxes in swaggering brassy ensemble play.

On "NOLA," Connick the singer stirs up an appealing gumbo of jazz, gospel, r&b, country and funk on songs associated with hometown musical idols such as Armstrong ("Hello Dolly") and Raymond Myles ("Elijah Rock") as well as family favorites ("Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey?"). Connick adds some new twists to old favorites: Hank Williams' "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)" starts with a catchy New Orleans groove only to abruptly switch to medium tempo big band swing.

Connick's own funky "Do Dat Thing" pays tribute to departed New Orleans musical legends from Al Hirt to James Booker, while his title track in a traditional New Orleans jazz style honors the city's living legacy by bringing in veteran and young New Orleans musicians. Connick's optimistic spirit finds expression in an old Allen Toussaint song "Yes We Can" which could serve as a theme song for the city's recovery.

These CDs rank among the most passionate and inspired of Connick's career — a joyous celebration of New Orleans' rich musical legacy that also seeks to ensure its future. A portion of the proceeds are being donated to the New Orleans Habitat Musicians' Village, a project launched by Connick and saxophonist Branford Marsalis to build several hundred homes for displaced musicians.


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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Smooth Jazz Chart | Week Ended 1/29/07

LW TW Artist Album (Label)
1 - 1 - Kirk Whalum - "Give Me The Reason"; Patti Austin - "So Amazing" - VA - Forever, For Always, For Luther II (Rendezvous)
2 - 2 - George Benson & Al Jarreau - "Givin' It Up" (Concord)
4 - 3 - Peter White - "Playin' Favorites" (Columbia)
3 - 4 - Boney James - "Shine" - (Concord)
7 - 5 - Eric Darius - "Just Getting Started" (Narada Jazz)
10 - 6 - Mindi Abair - "Life Less Ordinary" - (GRP)
8 - 7 - Wayman Tisdale - "Way Up" (Rendezvous)
12 - 8 - Gregg Karukas - "Lookin' Up" (Trippin' n' Rhythm)
18 - 9 - Kenny G - "I'm In The Mood For Love...The Most Romantic Melodies Of All Time" - (Arista)
6 - 10 - Paul Hardcastle - "Jazzmasters V" (Trippin n' Rhythm)

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Sonny Rollins: Plus Four

One of the true monumental figures of jazz who is still vibrantly recording and performing, Sonny Rollins was still an upstart tenor saxman in 1956 when he delivered Plus Four, a classic date with the Clifford Brown-Max Roach Quintet (of which he was a member). About the session, which featured Brown in one of his last recording dates, liner note writer Ira Gitler points out, “Within the overall empathy of Brown/Roach were interior connections: Roach, a master soloist himself, with all the soloists; and the bonding of Rollins and Brown.” In regards to Rollins’ playing of the standards chosen for this date, Gitler adds, “Sonny has always had a head for picking and playing old tunes but he also has used them to write his own lines. He knows a good melody when he hears one and, as a soloist, he is a melodist at any and all tempos.” Included on the disc are Rollins originals, “Valse Hot” (a scorching waltz) and the soon-to-be-standard “Pent-Up House.”

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Pat Martino: El Hombre

Widely recognized today as one of jazz’s greatest and most original guitarists, Pat Martino was just 22 when he entered Van Gelder’s studio for his debut disc, El Hombre, recorded in 1967. As a sideman, he had played with Jack McDuff, Jimmy Smith, Don Patterson and Groove Holmes, among other B-3 organists, so it wasn’t a stretch to hear his first disc be in the soul-jazz groove in the company of B3er and fellow Philadelphian Trudy Pitts. There are galloping tunes as well as tender ballads. In the words of new liner note writer Dave McElfresh, Martino demonstrated “the unique mid- to low-range tone of his guitar, the more-intelligent-than-romantic signature that still defines his style. Such somber, fleet-fingered rants, with each phrase’s high notes punctuated like a punch in the mouth, had already—by his first album—come to embody the best of hard bop guitar playing.” A stunning debut, El Hombre features originals and a Jobim cover, “Once I Loved.” Bonus track is the previously unreleased “Song for My Mother.”

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Miles Davis Quintet: Cookin’

Cookin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet is the first classic album of four total that emerged from two marathon and fruitful sessions recorded in 1956 (the other three discs released in Cookin’s wake were Workin’, Relaxin’ and Steamin’). All the albums were recorded live in the studio, as Davis sought to capture, with Rudy Van Gelder’s expert engineering, the sense of a club show á la the Café Bohemia in New York, with his new quintet, featuring tenor saxophonist John Coltrane. In Miles’s own words, he says he called this album Cookin’ because “that’s what we did—came in and cooked.” What’s particularly significant about this Davis album is his first recording of what became a classic tune for him: “My Funny Valentine.” Hot playing is also reserved for the uptempo number “Tune Up,” which revs with the zoom of both the leader and Trane.

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Jackie McLean: 4, 5 and 6

Alto saxophonist Jackie McLean’s 4, 5 and 6, recorded in 1956, was his third album as leader and second for Prestige. The LP at the time helped to establish McLean on the jazz scene. He was joined by trumpeter Donald Byrd (who shines with the altoist on Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation”) and tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley (also bopping hard on the tune), in a date solidified by McLean’s rhythm section: Mal Waldron on piano, Doug Watkins on bass and Arthur Taylor on drums. McLean also plays ballads, including Waldron’s sublime tune “Abstraction.” Writing in the original notes, Ira Gitler said, ”Jackie McLean is musically coming of age. His playing, out of Charlie Parker and Sonny Rollins, has become a personalized, more individual voice in 1956 and he has not lost any of the basic emotion, swinging qualities that help his style live up to the second syllable of his last name so well.”

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John Coltrane with the Red Garland Trio: Traneing In

Recorded in one day (August 23, 1957) at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Hackensack, NJ. this date of ballads and burners features the young tenor saxophonist John Coltrane leading a quartet comprised of pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Arthur Taylor. Liner note writer (original and reissue) Ira Gitler remarks, “In the ‘50s I was called upon to name many of the untitled songs at Prestige. ‘Traneing In’ came to me because of the way [Coltrane] homed in after Garland’s opening solo [on the song].” This album is significant in that it took place halfway through Coltrane’s break with Miles Davis’ classic quintet of the ‘50s and it was the same year that the tenor saxophonist hooked up with Thelonious Monk to record the recently discovered live Carnegie Hall masterpiece.

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New Releases | January 2007

Bennie Wallace, Disorder At The Border U The Music Of Coleman Hawkins [Enja Justin Time, 1/30/07]
Antonio Carlos Jobim, For Lovers [Verve (USA), 1/30/07]
Chuck Loeb, Love Song Collection [Shanachie, 1/30/07]
Mose Allison, Autumn Song [Original Jazz Classics, 1/30/07]
Dave Koz, At The Movies [Capitol / EMI Records, 1/30/07]
David "Fathead" Newman, Life [Highnote, 1/30/07]
Kymaera, Into The Rainbow [Sheridan Square, 1/30/07]
Larry Willis, Blue Fable [Highnote, 1/30/07]
Leni Stern, Closer To The Light {Import} [Ward, 1/30/07]
Modern Jazz Quartet, Three Windows [Collectables, 1/30/07]
Oregon, Out Of The Woods / Roots In The Sky [Collector's Choice, 1/30/07]
Norah Jones, Not Too Late [Blue Note, 1/30/07]
Harry Connick Jr., Oh, My Nola [Sony, 1/30/07]
Harry Connick Jr., Chanson du Vieux Carre [Sony, 1/30/07]
Charlie Byrd, Byrd's Word [Original Jazz Classics, 1/30/07]
Ron Carter, Pastels {Reissue, 1976} [Original Jazz Classics, 1/30/07]
Tom Harrell, Stories [Contemporary Records, 1/30/07]
Coleman Hawkins, Sirius {Import, 1966} [Original Jazz Classics, 1/30/07]
Elisabeth Withers, It Can Happen to Anyone [Blue Note Records, 1/30/07]
Ray Barretto, Together [Fania (USA), 1/30/07]
Russell Gunn, Russell Gunn Plays Miles [Highnote, 1/30/07]

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Upcoming Jazz Releases - 1/30/07

Alan Licht - New York Minute (Experimental Intermedia)
Allison Cameron - Raw Sangudo (Experimental Intermedia)
Annea Lockwood / Ruth Anderson - Sinopah (Experimental Intermedia)
Annie Friedland - Ain't Life Grande? (Independent)
Ari Hoenig - Inversations (Dreyfus)
Bennie Wallace - Disorder at the Border: The Music of Coleman Hawkins (Enja/Justin Time)
Beth Anderson - Peachy Keen-O (Pogus)
Bill Evans Trio - The Oslo Concerts (Koch) - DVD-Video
Borah Bergman - Acts of Live (Mutable)
Brussels Jazz Orchestra - Dangerous Liason (Talent)
Carrierband - Automatic Inscription of Speech Melody (Deep Listening)
Christopher Monniot - Monio Mania (Budapest)
Chuck Loeb - Love Song Collection (Shanachie) - DVD-Video
Dan Joseph - Archaea (Mutable Music)
Daniel Good - Clarinet Songs (X1)
Dave Koz - At the Movies (Capitol)
Dave Koz - At the Movies (Capital/EMI)
Dave Liebman / Mike Stern / Anthony Jackson - Back on the Corner (Tone Center)
David "Fathead" Newman - Life (High Note)
David Behrman - My Dear Sigfried (Experimental Intermedia)
David Dunn - Four Electronic Composition (Pogus)
Denis Gabel - Keep on Rollin': A Tribute to Sonny Rollins (Nagel Heyer)
Eddie Roberts - Trenta (Salvos)
Ellen Band - 90% Post-Consumer Sound (Experimental Intermedia)
Evidence - Out of Town (Deep Listening)
Fritz Hauser - Deep Time (Deep Listening)
Gabor Winand - Opera Budapest (Budapest)
Gen Ken Montgomery - Pondfloorsample (Experimental Intermedia)
Guy Klucevsek - Plays Vegetables of the Apocalypse (Experimental Intermedia)
Harry Connick, Jr. - Chanson du Vieux Carre (Marsalis Music)
Harry Connick, Jr. - Oh, My Nola (Columbia)
His Name Is Alive - Someday My Blues Will Cover the Earth (4AD)
Jack DeJohnette / John Patitucci / Szakcsi - 8 Trios for 4 Pianists (Budapest)
Jackson MacLow - Open Secrets (X1)
Kenneth Gaburo - Tape Play (Pogus)
Kymaera - Into the Rainbow (Sheridan Square)
Larry Willis - Blue Fable (Highnote)
Leroy Jenkins - Art of Improvisation (Mutable Music)
Logan Richardson - Cerebral Flow (Fresh Sound New Talent)
Logos - Works (Experimental Intermedia)
MacLean Didvosky - Flies in the Face of Logic (Pogus)
Malcolm Goldstein - Seasons - Vermont (Experimental Intermedia)
Mark Adams - Feel the Groove (RMG)
Martial Solal - Exposition Sans Tableau (France) (Nocturne)
Mary Ellen Childs - Kiler (Experimental Intermedia)
Mary Jane Leach - Celestial Fires (X1)
Matching Mole - On the Radio: A BBC Recording (England) (Hux)
Mike Dillon's Go-Go Jungle - Battery Milk (Hyena)
Muhal Richard Abrams - The Visibility of Thought (Mutable Music)
Nacho Arimany World-Flamenco Septet - Silence - Light (Fresh Sound New World)
Ned Rothenberg - Inner DIaspora (Tzadik)
Neil B. Rolnick - Fish Love That (Deep Listening)
Noah Creshevsky - Hyperrealism: Electroacoustic Music of Noah Creshevsky (Mutable Music)
Norah Jones - Not Too Late (Blue Note)
Phil Niblock - Four Full Flutes (Experimental Intermedia)
Philip Corner - 40 Years and One (X1)
R.I.P. Hayman - On the Way (Deep Listening)
Revolutionary Ensemble - Psyche (Mutable Music)
Richard Lainhart - 10,00- Shades of Blue (X1)
Roscoe Mitchell - Solo 3 (Mutable Music)
Russell Gunn - Plays Miles (High Note)
Samo Salamon NYC Quintet - Government Cheese (Fresh Sound New Talent)
Scott Colley - Architect of the Silent Moment (Cam Jazz)
Sivuca - Samba Nouvelle Vague (Sunnyside)
Soft Mountain - Soft Mountain (England) (Hux)
Space - New Music for Woodwinds and Voice (Mutable Music)
Stone the Crows - In Concert Beat Workshop Germany 1973 (Angel Air) - DVD-Video
Sylvain Luc - Joko (Dreyfus)
Tin Hat - Sad Machinery (Hannibal)
Tom Hamilton - Analogue Smoque (Pogus)
Tom Johnson - Music for 88 (X1)
Various - Endless Highway: The Music of the Band (429 Records)
Walter Lang Quartet - Art of Romanticism Vol. 1 (Nagel Heyer)
Warren Burt - Burt: The Animation of Lists and the Archytan Transpositions (X1)
Wayne Wallace - Dedication (RNLG)

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

On February 6, 2007 Prestige Records Presents Its Fifth Edition Of RVG Remasters

In an interview by Richard Seidel in the February 2006 issue of DownBeat, Rudy Van Gelder replied to the question as to why nearly a half-century after they were recorded, albums that he engineered sound so modern: “I just heard ‘The Sidewinder’ [recorded by Lee Morgan in 1963] on the local jazz station and the commentator said, ‘That sounded like it was recorded two weeks ago.’ All I do is try to recreate the musicians’ performance in the way I think they want to be heard. I try to emphasize the good parts.”

Van Gelder sounds modest in his self-assessment of how he went about meticulously engineering thousands of albums in his New Jersey studio for labels such as Prestige, Blue Note, Savoy, Impulse!, Verve and CTI. In fact, he’s considered the master of sound, who since 1954, has recorded a passel of the all-time jazz greats. As Seidel puts it, “It would be easier to mention the musicians he hasn’t recorded than the ones he did.”

Today Van Gelder’s work continues as he remasters classic sides from the Prestige catalog, which today is owned by the Concord Music Group. Initially reluctant to revisit some of the albums he originally worked on, Van Gelder was encouraged by the technological advances of recording equipment and challenged by giving these masterworks a renewed 24-bit lease on life. He says of these artists that he still “feels strongly that I am their messenger.”
In the fifth edition of the RVG Remasters series, five more classic albums are polished for February 6 release: John Coltrane with the Red Garland Trio: Traneing In; Jackie McLean: 4, 5, and 6; Miles Davis Quintet: Cookin’; Pat Martino: El Hombre; and Sonny Rollins: Plus Four.

Prestige inaugurated its RVG Remasters Series in March 2006 with ten seminal titles, then continued in June, July and September with five more discs each month. Each RVG engineered album includes original and new liner notes, and some albums are augmented by alternate take bonus tracks.

Audio Streams:
Sonny Rollins "Valse Hot"
John Coltrane "Traneing In"
Miles Davis "Blues by Five"

Titles Include Such Classics As:
John Coltrane’s Traneing In
Pat Martino’s El Hombre
Miles Davis Quintet’s Cookin’
Sonny Rollins’ Plus Four
Jackie Mclean’s 4, 5 And 6

Original Recording Engineer Rudy Van Gelder
Meticulously Transfers The Music
From The Analog Masters To 24-Bit Technology
All Reissues Feature Original And New Liner Notes

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Reich, Rollins win Polar Music Prize

Sweden honors composer, jazz saxophonist

Composer Steve Reich and jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins were named the winners of the 2007 Polar Music Prize on Thursday.
The two U.S. musicians will receive the $143,000 prize from Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf at an awards ceremony in Stockholm on May 21.

The Royal Academy of Music, which selects the winners, said Reich had "transferred questions of faith, society and philosophy into a hypnotic sounding music that has inspired musicians and composers of all genres."

Reich, 70, achieved worldwide fame in the 1970s with his percussion work "Drumming" and with the group Steve Reich and Musicians. His music has been performed by orchestras and ensembles around the globe including the London Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.

The academy said it tapped Rollins, "one of the most powerful and personal voices in jazz for more than 50 years," for raising "the accompanied solo to the highest artistic level -- all characterized by a distinctive and powerful sound, irresistible swing and an individual sense of humor."

The 76-year-old tenor saxophonist recently re-established himself at the top of the jazz scene with his Grammy-winning CD "Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert," his first live recording in nearly 20 years.

Rollins' latest CD, "Sonny, Please," his first studio album in five years, was released last fall on his own newly created Doxy label.

"It's a real honor for me to receive the Polar Prize from the great country of Sweden," he said in a statement released through his publicist. "Sweden has always been one of my favorite places to play over the years. The Swedish public has been very receptive to my music and supportive of jazz in general."

The Polar Music Prize is Sweden's biggest music award and was founded by Stig Anderson, manager of Swedish pop group ABBA, in 1989 through a donation to the academy.

The prize is typically split between pop artists and classical musicians. Previous winners include Paul McCartney, Isaac Stern, Bruce Springsteen, Pierre Boulez and Quincy Jones.

The 2006 prize went to British rock band Led Zeppelin and Russian conductor Valery Gergiev.


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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

BA SJN Syndicates World Premiere

This weekend, Jan. 27 and 28, Broadcast Architecture’s new Smooth Jazz Network will world premiere Dave Koz' new Capitol CD "At the Movies." Koz, who is also the network's weekday afternoon drive host on 13 SJN affiliates across the U.S. (including Clear Channel WNUA/Chicago, KYOT Phoenix and KKSF San Francisco; and Greater Media WJJZ/Philadelphia), will host the premiere.

The program originates from the studios of CBS KTWV (the Wave)/Los Angeles and was produced by the station's VP of programming Paul Goldstein. Twenty-seven smooth jazz stations -- including Emmis WQCD (CD101.9)/New York; Lincoln Financial Group KIFM/San Diego and KJCD/Denver; CBS WVMV/Detroit, KHJZ/Houston and WSJT/Tampa; and even WMJX/Trinidad -- plan to air the world premiere.

BA President Allen Kepler said, "Dave's impact on our format is only beginning to reveal its full potential. Response to Dave hosting our network p.m. drive show has been tremendous. We’re hearing from listeners and advertisers alike. They simply cannot get enough of him. Paul Goldstein did a great job producing this special program for us and we owe him a great deal for his vision and world premiere concept."

By Carol Archer

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Chuck Loeb | Presence

Presence, a gorgeous, lyrical album, provides a suitable showcase for Chuck Loeb's technical proficiency and impressive range. You don't just hear Loeb. You can almost see him creating the music. Maybe that's a shout-out to the recording process, but Loeb's guitar playing is crystal-clear and right up front. He's not a splashy musician, but you can tell the man knows his licks. He knows when to turn on the technique, as when his fingers dance along the strings on the moody groove of “The Music Outside.” The piano solo of Loeb's regular pianist, Mike Ricchluti, is reminiscent of Bob James at his best.

Equally impressive is how effortlessly Loeb moves from the bouncy funk of the opener, “Good to Go,” to the sensual and exotic “Llevame,” with superb vocals from his wife, Carmen Cuesta-Loeb, a talented guitarist herself. And just when it didn't seem the world needed yet another interpretation of Steely Dan's “Rikki Don't Lose That Number,” Loeb breathes new life into the old warhorse via a snappy interchange between his guitar and Dave Mann's flute.

Nothing on Presence seems artificial and forced. There's nothing here that would make you wince and say, “Why did they put that song on the album?” Everything meshes and feels like it belongs. Nothing seems contrived to pander to radio programmers for airplay or other commercial concessions. Loeb has chosen to surround himself with musicians and poerform songs that complement his own sublime artistry.

Let's not be overly analytical about this, though. This impressive album showcases Loeb's undeniable command of the guitar, and Presence is a clear sign that 2007 is getting off to a good start.

By Jeff Winbush

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Smooth Jazz Chart | Week Ended 1/22/07

LW TW Artist Album (Label)
1 - 1 - Kirk Whalum - "Give Me The Reason"; Patti Austin - "So Amazing" - VA - Forever, For Always, For Luther II (Rendezvous)
2 - 2 - George Benson & Al Jarreau - "Givin' It Up" (Concord)
3 - 3 - Boney James - "Shine" - (Concord)
4 - 4 - Peter White - "Playin' Favorites" (Columbia)
5 - 5 - Pieces Of A Dream "Pillow Talk" - (Heads Up)
6 - 6 - Paul Hardcastle - "Jazzmasters V" (Trippin n' Rhythm)
7 - 7 - Eric Darius - "Just Getting Started" (Narada Jazz)
8 - 8 - Wayman Tisdale - "Way Up" (Rendezvous)
9 - 9 - David Benoit - "Full Circle" - (Peak)
10 - 10 - Mindi Abair - "Life Less Ordinary" - (GRP)

Find these top-ten and more at

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Christian McBride Voices Personal Essay

Jazz bassist Christian McBride will voice a personal essay for the NPR series This I Believe airing on NPR's newsmagazine All Things Considered, Monday, January 22. The theme: "The value of being cool." Taught to play bass by his father and uncle, McBride learned the art of being cool from his grandfather. "I believe it pays to be cool, " McBride says in the essay. "Most people in this day and age are always terribly stressed. They age quickly. Cool people stay young forever." Widely considered to be one of the best bassists of his generation, McBride has performed and recorded with jazz legends and pop and classical musicians alike, including Joe Henderson, Diana Krall, Chick Corea, Sting, and Kathleen Battle. He lives in New York City.

Inspired by newsman Edward R. Murrow's 1950's radio program of the same name, This I Believe features Americans from all walks of life expressing their core beliefs and values in short, personal essays. With his essay, McBride joins an impressive list of essayists including Senator John McCain, skateboarding icon Tony Hawk, magician Penn Jillette, illusionist David Copperfield, Bill Gates and Colin Powell. In addition to hearing McBride's essay on the air, listeners will also be able to read the text and hear it online at where the audio and transcripts of past This I Believe essays are archived.

All Things Considered is NPR's signature afternoon news magazine and reaches nearly 11 million listeners weekly on 625 NPR Member stations across the country. It also can be heard in more than 100 countries through NPR Worldwide.

The new rendition of This I Believe, launched in April 2005, has become a big hit with listeners and shows the public's renewed interest in discussing beliefs and values. In addition to prominent essayists, the series has now received nearly 15, 000 essays from listeners across the country. To date, every This I Believe essay has ranked among the top e-mailed stories on The series is a collaboration between NPR and This I Believe, Inc., Dan Gediman and Jay Allison, producers.

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In jazz world, 'a major paradigm shift'

“Let's get small” was the name of a popular Steve Martin comedy routine in the late 1970s, but it's also an apt description of how the jazz community reacted to the sometimes dramatic changes in the music industry over the past year.

Accordingly, the benefits of thinking small echoed throughout the 34th annual International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) conference. It was held Jan. 10-13 at the Hilton New York and Sheraton New York and included a strong San Diego contingent among its approximately 8,000 attendees from 45 countries.

With more major record labels cutting back, consolidating or eliminating their jazz divisions, the necessity of thinking small is greater than ever.

That reality was reinforced by last month's near-implosion of Verve Records, one of the oldest, largest and once most respected jazz labels in the country. The home to such top jazz artists as Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Diana Krall, Verve will now be operated under the Universal Music Enterprises umbrella.

Verve's downsizing came the same month that the Tower Records chain, which offered the country's most comprehensive selection of jazz albums, closed its doors forever.

Continue reading this article by George Varga at the San Diego Union-Tribune

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Friday, January 19, 2007

New Releases | January 2007

Mark Adams, Feel The Groove: A Souljazz Experience [RMG / Roberts Music, 1/23/07]
Bennie Wallace, Disorder At The Border U The Music Of Coleman Hawkins [Enja Justin Time, 1/30/07]
Chuck Loeb, Presence [Heads Up International, 1/23/07]
David Chesky, Urban Concertos [Chesky Records, 1/23/07]
Don Ellis, How Time Passes [Candid Records, 1/23/07]
Walter Beasley, Ready For Love [Heads Up, 1/23/07]
Sonny Rollins, Sonny Please (Dig) [Emarcy / Pgd, 1/23/07]
Paquito D'Rivera, Who's Smoking? [Candid Records, 1/23/07]
Marco Figueira, Brazilliance {Re-release} [Blue Toucan Music, 1/23/07]
Joe La Barbera, Native Land [Jazz Compass, 1/23/07]
Ken Navarro, Meeting Place [Positive Music, 1/23/07]
Nathan Eklund Group, The Crooked Line [Jazz Excursion, 1/23/07]
Nils, Ready To Play [Baja Records, 1/23/07]
Claudio Roditi, Two of Swords [Candid Records, 1/23/07]
Antonio Carlos Jobim, For Lovers [Verve (USA), 1/30/07]
Chuck Loeb, Love Song Collection [Shanachie, 1/30/07]
Dave Koz, At The Movies [Capitol / EMI Records, 1/30/07]
David Fathead Newman, Life [Highnote, 1/30/07]
Kymaera, Into The Rainbow [Sheridan Square, 1/30/07]
Larry Willis, Blue Fable [Highnote, 1/30/07]
Leni Stern, Closer To The Light {Import} [Ward, 1/30/07]
Modern Jazz Quartet, Three Windows [Collectables, 1/30/07]
Oregon, Out Of The Woods / Roots In The Sky [Collector's Choice, 1/30/07]
Norah Jones, Not Too Late [Blue Note, 1/30/07]
Harry Connick Jr., Oh, My Nola [Sony, 1/30/07]
Harry Connick Jr., Chanson du Vieux Carre [Sony, 1/30/07]
Ray Barretto, Together [Fania (USA), 1/30/07]
Russell Gunn, Russell Gunn Plays Miles [ Highnote, 1/30/07]

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Upcoming Jazz Releases | 1/23/07

Upcoming Jazz Releases

Andrew Scott Quartet - Blue Mercer (Canada) (Sackville)
Billy Strayhorn - Lush Life (OST) (Blue Note)
Chie Imaizumi - Unfailing Kindness (Capri)
Claudio Roditi - Two of Swords (Candid)
Dave Noland - Noman (Jazz Excursion)
David Chesky - Urban Concertos (Chesky) - SACD
Deviants of Reality - Love, Sex and Situation (ZYX)
Don Ellis - How Time Passes (Candid)
Exploding Star Orchestra - We Are All From Somewhere Else (Thrill Jockey)
Fresh Uncles - Prague Jazz (Cube Bohemia)
Geoff Strading - Les is Mo (Origin)
Great Light Orchestras - Salutes Cole Porter (Guild)
Husicka / Pavelka / Smazik - Jazz from Prague (Cube Bohemia)
Joe La Barbera - Native Land (Jazz Compass)
John Shiurba - 5x5 with Anthony Braxton (Rastascan)
Ken Navarro - Meeting Place (Positive Music)
Marcel Zanini - Saint-Germain-Des-Pres (Fremeaux & Associes)
Marco Figueria - Brazilliance (Blue Toucan)
Mark Adams - Feel the Groove: A Souljazz Experience (Rmg)
Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts - Scenic Route (Palmetto)
Mcneely / Sill / Spencer - Boneyard (Origin)
Merlin's Magic - Flowing Perfection: Tai Chi (Inner Worlds)
Nathan Eklund - Crooked Line (Jazz Excursion)
New Mastersounds - 102% (One Note)
Nils - Ready to Play (Baja Records)
Nublu Orchestra - Nublu Orchestra Conducted by Butch Morris (Nublu)
Paquito D'Rivera / James Moody - Who's Smoking (Candid)
Rudolphe Raffalli - Rudolphe Raffalli Vol. 2 (La Lichere)
Rudolphe Raffalli - A Georges Brassens V2 (La Lichere)
Shirantha Beddage - Roots & Branches (Jazz Excursion)
Si Zentner / Ralph Marterie - Big Band (Select O Hits) - DVD-Video
Sonny Rollins - Sonny, Please (digipak) (Decca)
Tex Beneke / Gene Krupa / Jerry Wald - Big Band (Select O Hits) - DVD-Video
They'd Sooner Sleep on Thistles - They'd Sooner Sleep on Thistles (Archeophone)
Tony deSare - Last First Kiss (Telarc)
Towner Galaher - Panorama (Towner Galaher)
Walter Beasley - Ready for Love (Concord)
Yellowcake - Yellowcake (Rastascan)

Anita O'Day - Pick Yourself Up (Universal)
Anita O'Day - Swings Cole Porter, Rogers & Hart (Japan) (Universal)
Anita O'Day - Walter Make Mine Blues (Japan) (Universal)
Beverly Kenny - Born to Be Blue (Japan) (Universal)
Beverly Kenny - Like Yesterday (Japan) (Universal)
Blossom Dearie - My Gentleman Friend (Japan) (Universal)
Blossom Dearie - Soubrette Sings Broadway Hit Songs (Japan) (Universal)
Brenda Lee - Reflections in Blue (Japan) (Universal)
Coltrane / Corea / Gillespie / Monk / Nelson - Night in Tunisia (Cube Bohemia)
Connie Francis - Songs to a Swinging Band (Japan) (Universal)
Debbie Reynolds - FIne & Dandy (Japan) (Universal)
Dorothy Collins - Picnic (Japan) (Universal)
Eydie Gorme - Eydie in Love (Japan) (Universal)
Fran Warren - Mood Indigo (Universal)
Helen Merrill - With Strings (Japan) (Universal)
Jeri Southern - Prelude to a Kiss (Japan) (Universal)
Jeri Southern - Southern Style (Japan) (Universal)
Jeri Southern - You Better Go Now (Japan) (Universal)
Louis Armstrong - Complete Louis Armstrong V1 (Fremeaux & Associes)
Louis Armstrong - Complete Louis Armstrong V1 (Fremeaux & Associes)
Margaret Whiting - Sings the Jerome Kern Songbook (Japan) (Universal)
Milt Jackson - De Capo (England) (FiveFour)
Mitzi Gaynor - Mitzi (Japan) (Universal)
Monica Lewis - Easy Come Easy Go (Japan) (Universal)
Oscar Peterson - Perfect Peterson: The Best of the Pablo and Telarc Recordings (Fantasy) - 2+ CDs
Pat Kirby - What is This Thing Called Love (Japan) (Universal)
Patti Page - In the Land of Hi-Fi (Japan) (Universal)
Patti Page - Waltz Queen (Japan) (Universal)
Peggy Lee - Dream Street (Japan) (Universal)
Peggy Lee - In the Late Hours (Flare)
Peggy Lee - Lover (Japan) (Universal)
Peggy Lee - Miss Wonderful (Japan) (Universal)
Polly Bergen - Act One Sing Too (Japan) (Universal)
Rosemary Clooney - Swings Softly (Japan) (Universal)
Sam Lanin - Turn on the Heat: Hot Dance Band Sides 1925-1931 (Rivermont)
Sue Raney - Happiness is a Warm Sue Raney (Japan) (Universal)
SYlvester Ahola - Rare & Personal (Vintage Music)
Teddi King - All the King's Songs (Japan) (Universal)

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Walter Beasley | Ready For Love 1/24/07

Saxophonist/vocalist Walter Beasley understands what it means to be prepared. A prolific recording artist and a compelling performer for more than two decades, he has proven his success as an instrumentalist, vocalist, composer, producer and educator – a range of talents that has made him one of the highest selling and most accomplished African-American saxophonists of the last ten years. Ready For Love, his new Heads Up CD scheduled for worldwide release on January 24, 2007, is the culmination of two decades of pushing his own creative envelope and the boundaries of contemporary jazz in general.

But while the title is clearly a reference to the universality of romantic love, the record is fueled just as much by other passions that Beasley considers equally important. “This record is an indication of what hard work, dedication, talent and effort will accomplish, and it’s a gesture of love and appreciation for the people who have supported me along the way,” he says. “To actually take the time to dedicate yourself to music, dedicate yourself to a strong work ethic, dedicate yourself to being better, means you love what you do.”

Ranging from the playful to the introspective, from the old school to the edgy, Ready For Love is filled with a variety of soulful grooves and infectious melodies that showcase the countless satisfying shades of Beasley’s rich musical tapestry. Along with Beasley’s own production on five of the eleven tracks, the album also includes a number of noteworthy guest producers, including Phil Davis and Lil’ John Roberts, both of whom have produced and/or played with Janet Jackson, George Duke, Alex Bugnon, Rachelle Ferrell. Also guest producing on two tracks is James Lloyd, co-founder and keyboardist for Pieces of a Dream.

The set opens with “Free,” a stirring piece originally penned by Deniece Williams and features the vocal accents of Tiffany Davis. “It was just a blast to be able to record a song by someone who I had my first crush on when I was 12 years old, and then put my own spin on it. I just think that song – especially the saxophone work during the outro – sets the tone for the whole album.”

Beasley brings not only his horn but his rich vocals to the smoky backbeat groove of “Be Thankful,” the classic William DeVaughan piece that looks beyond material trappings and instead acknowledges some of life’s most simple and profound blessings. “I have two female African-American friends who recently told me that they were very frustrated by the feeling that the world no longer valued their worth,” says Beasley. “That song just hit me. I saw it as a way for me and others to step back and reassess who we are to ourselves and what we represent to other people. It serves as a reminder that all of us – regardless of race, economics, or whatever – should be thankful for what we do have and what we’re able to bring to the table.”

Keyboardist James Lloyd lends a hand on a couple tracks. The title track – along with the punchy “Why Not You,” toward the end of the set – both feature Lloyd as writer, producer and guest keyboardist. “James is very clear about what he hears in a song and what he sees as the end result,” says Beasley, who previously enlisted Lloyd for a track on For Her (“Coolness,” which shot to number 5 on the smooth jazz charts). “You just have to trust that the end result is going to be good, because with James, it always is. Sometimes you get too close to a project and you have to step back, and for those two tracks I just stepped back, because I knew they were in good hands.”

The island groove of “She Moves Me” takes Beasley into territory that he hadn’t explored in previous projects, with highly favorable results. “Hands down, that’s my favorite song on the album,” he says with no hesitation. “That was the first time I ever wrote anything in a reggae style. It’s a beautiful song that goers through various time changes. It just grooves. It moved me when I was recording it, and it still moves me whenever I hear it.”

“Sugar Puddin’” is a sensual track wherein Beasley’s alto sax work atop the churning backbeat creates the perfect union of the sweet with the spicy – a fitting combination, given the origins of the title. “Sugar Puddin’ is actually a slang term that we used in the South, where I spent my summers with my grandparents,” says Beasley. “It could be a reference to a little girl, or a girlfriend, or any girl who moves your heart in some way. Now, as I got older, I started to understand the more spicy definition of the term.” He pauses to elaborate, then thinks better of it. “I’ll just leave the rest to the imagination.”

The heartfelt closer, “Willa Mae’s Place,” is a tribute to Willa Mae Brothers, a lady who gave Beasley some much needed direction many years ago when he was a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston. “When my parents were very far away, and I was dealing with different issues and challenges in my life – musically, personally, economically – she was there to really make sure that I considered all my options and made the right decisions,” Beasley explains. “She was a foundation for me. She’s gone now, but she made a big impact on my life.”

From nostalgic tales of bygone role models to island interludes to spicy and passionate vignettes, Walter Beasley is musician of many stories – and is possessed of the various talents necessary to tell them well. Every one of these stories is a reflection of a unique musical vision that pays its respects to what has come before and makes ready for what’s yet to come.

“For me, every song on here has a special meaning, and every song touches me in some kind of way,” he says. “I listened to this record three times as much as any other record I’ve ever made, and I’m still listening to it. And I think people will get the same feeling when they listen to it, because I don’t go too far from what moves me. I’m just taking it to that place where music moves you just because it’s good.”

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Chuck Loeb | Presence 1/23/07

More than just a jazz guitarist, Chuck Loeb has proven himself to be a versatile composer, arranger and producer in a wide range of musical styles and contexts. In addition to fronting several of his own bands and projects, and compiling an impressive discography stretching back to the late 1980s, Loeb has also worked the other side of the mixing board to produce a number of high-profile artists, including Spyro Gyra, Bob James, Walter Beasley, Larry Coryell and Kim Waters. He’s also composed the score for numerous television programs (CNN, ABC News Nightline, CBS Up to the Minute) and has crafted the theme music for the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves, and performed on several motion picture soundtracks (Turner and Hootch, The Untouchables, Mixed Nuts). Indeed, there are few stones on the musical landscape that Chuck Loeb has left unturned.

On January 23, 2007, this Renaissance man joins Heads Up International with the worldwide release of Presence (HUCD 3117), an album that recognizes the importance of the human element – not just in the crafting of music, but in everyday life. “Nowadays, there’s a lot of music that gets created in a laboratory,” says Loeb, who enlisted musicians various incarnations of his live band to craft the album. “We all have computers, and we do things long distance. But it never ceases to amaze me how, as soon as you put the live musicians into the equation, it’s their presence that brings the thing to life. That’s the idea behind the album title – the effect that an individual’s personality has on the music, both in the context of a recording and in a live setting.”

The set opens with the bouncy but easygoing “Good To Go.” Co-written with saxophonist Andy Snitzer (who reappears later in the sequence in “Hangin’ With You”), the track is the product of an interesting creative odyssey wherein various components of the song changed hands over time – from Loeb to Snitzer to guitarist Paul Brown. “The song has sort of lived three lives,” says Loeb. “It was this ongoing work in progress between three musicians, but it all kind of gelled at the very end. When it was finally good to go, I said, ‘Well, we might as well just call it that.’”

The followup is a laid back interpretation of Steely Dan’s 1974 classic, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,” a track with a healthy dose of playful counterpoint between Loeb and saxophonist/flutist Dave Mann. “Steely Dan always brings an intelligence to their music,” says Loeb, a longtime fan of the perennially smart-sounding pop/rock/jazz combo. “They try to sneak as much stuff as possible into a pop song without getting too heady and turning off the audience. That’s my goal as well.”

Further into the set, Loeb takes a Latin turn with the help of his wife, Spanish-born vocalist/guitarist Carmen Cuesta-Loeb. The sultry “Llevame” was actually written more than two decades ago, when the husband-wife team played together in a band called Paralelo. “I’ve had experiences like this before where, even if the song is very old, I can’t get the melody out of my head,” says Loeb. “I got the main chorus from ‘Llevame’ from all those years ago, and I wrote a new bridge for it, and had Carmen sing on it. We recorded the whole thing in about a day. It was a very spontaneous thing that we did together in our own studio at home. The lesson here is to never throw a good idea away.”

The poignant title track, with it’s simple but compelling five-note guitar hook, was written for Carmen’s late father, Anastasio Cuesta, and serves as a fitting centerpiece to an album that recognizes the significance of the human element above all else. “We lost him about a year and a half ago, right before I started producing this CD,” says Loeb. “I was actually in the room with him when he died. When it was over, the thing that we missed the most was his presence. There was something completely different about seeing his body without his spirit. So I dedicated this song to him. He was an important person for all of us.”

“Mr. Martino,” a tribute to legendary guitarist Pat Martino, is built on an insistent groove set up by Loeb, pianist/organist Matt King, bassist Brian Killeen and drummer Josh Dion. “I’ve been a big fan of Pat’s music since I was 16 years old, and last year I had two opportunities to work with him for the first time,” says Loeb. “So I finally got to know Pat personally after being a fan for all these years. I had dedicated songs in the past to George Benson, Wes Montgomery and other guitar players, but Pat needed to have his song too.”

The closer is a cover of James Taylor’s “Shed a Little Light,” a midtempo, upbeat track crafted with the help of members of an older version of Loeb’s band – keyboardist Mike Ricchiuti, bassist Ron Jenkins and drummer Brian Dunne. “I just love the title and the lyrics and the spirit of this song,” say Loeb. “These guys played with me for about eight or ten years, and they’re very close to my heart. I’m very glad to have them on a CD that represents a new chapter in my life.”

hether he’s borrowing songs from some of his favorite artists, co-writing with his soulmate or other trusted collaborators, or crafting his own music from a seemingly bottomless creative well, Chuck Loeb operates from a place that’s always in the groove and always in the moment. There’s rarely any question of his presence; he’s always where he needs to be.

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Dave Koz | At The Movies - 1/30/07

"Play it once, Sam, for old times' sake," Ingrid Bergman states in Casablanca while reminiscing with Humphrey Bogart. "Play 'As Time Goes By.'" Her poignant plea underscores the crucial role music plays in the filmmaking process and reminds us how deeply movies and their music touch our emotions, creating a soundtrack not just to a given film, but also to our lives. At The Movies, a lush, inspired collection of twelve timeless movie themes, brings that magic home, making it a must-have album for music and film lovers everywhere. World-renowned saxophonist Dave Koz, collaborating with guests India.Arie, Anita Baker,Chris Botti, Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis, Donna Summer and Vanessa Williams, evokes the romance and nostalgia of being at the movies with unforgettable versions of such classics as "Over The Rainbow," "Moon River," "The Shadow Of Your Smile (Love theme from The Sandpiper)," "Somewhere," "The Pink Panther," "The Way We Were," "It Might Be You" and, of course, "As Time Goes By."

"I do get asked to do duets all the time, but Dave and I have been friends for five years now and I have turned into his number one fan," enthuses Manilow. "Who doesn't know Henry Mancini's 'Moon River'? …I was delightfully surprised that they had figured out a very hip way of rendering 'Moon River' and I dove in. I'm very happy with it."

As a sample of Judy Garland from The Wizard of Oz gives way to Koz's gentle saxophone on album opener "Over The Rainbow," it becomes apparent that this is a collection borne of love, performed by artists who can render the magic of the originals yet bring their own unique sensibilities to the studio.

Eleven of the songs were Oscar winners or nominees and four of them appear in the Top 10 of the American Film Institute's list of 100 Top Movie Songs - so these are clearly songs that resonate deeply with movie fans. Vanessa Williams contributes an exquisite version of "The Way We Were," the Oscar-winning song from the film of the same name, and Johnny Mathis perfectly captures the bittersweet quality of "The Shadow Of Your Smile," the Oscar-winning song from The Sandpiper. Other highlights include Anita Baker's rich, elegant rendering of "Somewhere" from West Side Story's Oscar-winning score and Donna Summer's shimmering version of "A Whole New World," the Oscar-winning song from Disney's Aladdin.

Often the pairing of artist and song is personal, as with India.Aire's stunning version of "It Might Be You," the Oscar-nominated theme from Tootsie and At The Movies' first single.

"I want 'It Might Be You," India.Aire told producer Phil Ramone. "Don't give it to anyone else; it's my mom's favorite song."

"I've never seen anyone fill the studio with a better vibe than him," Koz says of Ramone, the legendary producer of such projects as Ray Charles' Genius Loves Company, Rod Stewart's Great American Songbook series, Billy Joel's The Stranger and Tony Bennett's new Duets. "That's what his genius is; he's like the best casting director I've ever met in my entire life.

"When Dave and I talked about this album I knew it was something I wanted to do with this fine musician, says Ramone. "We tossed around ideas and it was the movies that intrigued us. We both grew up going to so many movies and musicals, enjoying not only the images but the way the score enhanced the story. We approached this project with the passion the songs and music instilled in us, and so did the guest artists. As for me, I had the best time hearing Dave use the tenor, alto and soprano sax to make a musical painting."

The 40-piece orchestra enlisted by Koz and Ramone provides a majestic, sweeping soundscape for the saxophonist and his guest vocalists. "We approached it as if we were recording it many, many years ago - no machines, no loops," says Koz.

Multi-Grammy nominee Koz, who has two Gold albums and ten Top 5 hits to his credit, takes center stage on six instrumentals: "Over The Rainbow," "As Time Goes By," "The Pink Panther," "Summer Of '42," "Cinema Paradiso" and "Schindler's List." And as an added bonus, the album includes gorgeous instrumental versions of "It Might Be You" and "The Shadow Of Your Smile."

"I'm happiest in a darkened theater with a tub of popcorn, a soda, a great movie and a friend," says Koz, voicing the sentiments of many of us. "I love that feeling of being transported to a moment in time. You get to turn off your own life and just disappear into this other world."

So disappear into another world and spend some time At The Movies.

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Martin: Satellite Radio Merger A No-Go

Message to Wall Street warriors excited about the prospects of a Sirius and XM satellite radio merger: Stuff a sock in it. It ain’t gonna happen.

FCC chairman Kevin Martin didn’t use those exact words Wednesday morning (Jan. 17) when he chatted with reporters after the commission’s monthly open meeting, but he made it clear that FCC regulations created when satellite radio service was conceived more than a decade ago clearly state that “two satellite radio operators [must] remain in place,” Martin paraphrased.

While no merger plan has been filed with the commission, Martin said the FCC would "look at anything that comes before us." But he noted that there is "a prohibition on one entity owning both of those licenses" and he reminded reporters of how the commission rejected the proposal by the two satellite television dish companies to merge in the summer of 2004. In fact, that proposal was rejected by a pro-consolidation-oriented panel of commissioners in less than 60 days, a world speed record in Washington regulatory terms.

Dreams of a Sirius-XM merger are currently fantasy, created by the vivid and overworked imaginations of a slew of Wall Street analysts who have been bouncing merger theory after merger theory off each other, both firm-to-firm and in weekly -- sometimes daily -- notes to investors, for months, without much regard to regulatory Washington.

On the topic of payola, Martin echoed others in calling for a “clear and transparent method of radio promotion” and said “the commissioners are trying to decide what is the most appropriate thing for us to do” in reaching a consent decree with radio operators that have been the subject of the payola investigation carried out by the state of New York’s attorney general’s office.

Martin said he hopes the commission will hold its next public hearing on media ownership sometime in February or March, depending on the commissioners' schedules, but no location has been decided upon. He noted that there are four more meetings around the country proposed, but no schedule has been drafted.

On Nov. 22, 2006, the agency announced that it had commissioned 10 different studies on media ownership to be conducted, and Martin on Wednesday said the results of those studies are expected to begin arriving at the FCC "sometime this spring."

By Jeffrey Yorke

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