Saturday, March 31, 2007

Jazz clarinetist Tony Scott dies in Rome at 85

Musician Tony Scott, who worked with many of the world's jazz greats, has died at the age of 85.

Italy's House of Jazz says Scott died Wednesday in Rome, where he had lived for decades.

He was a clarinetist, composer and arranger who worked with Billie Holiday, Charlie Bird and Duke Ellington in a career that spanned continents and decades. He also played the saxophone, and worked with Dizzy Gillespie and Sarah Vaughan.

Born in Morristown, New Jersey, Scott is considered a forerunner of world music. He was among the first musicians to mix jazz with other genres.

He said he decided years ago he'd rather be a jazz musician than rich and famous. As he put it, "I had the chance to sell out, but I didn't. I've never regretted that."

A funeral is planned this weekend in Rome.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Dave Koz | "At The Movies"

There's nothing quite like the feeling of walking into a movie theatre, settling into your seat as the lights go down and, for the next two hours, being transported into a different reality than the normal world we inhabit. Saxophonist Dave Koz understands the thrill of discovery in the dark, and At The Movies is all about the great music of great movies.

To write Koz off as just another smooth jazz superstar minimizes the passion he brings to this project. Paired with the glossy production of Phil Ramone, Koz deftly weaves a sonic tour de force backed by a full orchestra and an impressive and fascinating array of guest vocalists. This is the kind of album that possesses a new surprise each time it is played, starting with a sample of Judy Garland's vocal accompanied by Koz's soaring saxophone on “Over the Rainbow.”

Who knew Barry Manilow could provide an unlikely, but quite accomplished interpretation of “Moon River?” Anita Baker never met a song she couldn't over-sing, but she never goes over the top as she delivers a soaring “Somewhere,” from West Side Story.

The vastly underrated Vanessa Williams draws favorable comparisons to Barbra Streisand as she turns in a luscious vocal to “The Way We Were.” Johnny Mathis turns seventy-two this year, but age hasn't diminished his vocal talent one iota as he makes clear with a dynamic version of “The Shadow of Your Smile,” accompanied by the superb styling of Koz and trumpeter Chris Botti.

Slightly less successful is “The Pink Panther,” which suffers from a bad case of the cutes (blame that darn cartoon), and “It Might Be You,” where a wobbly vocal by India.Arie indicates an unsure grasp of the material. Donna Summer puts considerable distance between her days as a disco diva to become a fairly convincing chanteuse on “A Whole New World,” from Disney's Aladdin.

Koz's saxophone playing is superb throughout as he is clearly inspired by the timeless quality of the songs he selected for At the Movies. This is a graceful and impressive effort by Koz which should please his fan base and add to it as he reaches new levels of proficiency and ingenuity.

It's also just plain fun.

By Jeff Winbush

Track Listing: Over the Rainbow; Moon River; As Time Goes By: Somewhere; The Shadow of Your Smile; The Pink Panther; The Way We Were; The Summer Knows; It Might Be You; Cinema Paradiso Suite; A Whole New World; Schindler's List; It Might Be You (instrumental); The Shadow of Your Smile (instrumental).

Personnel: Dave Koz: saxophones; Chris Botti: trumpet; Peter White: guitar; Barry Manilow: vocals (2); Anita Baker: vocals (4); Johnny Mathis: vocals (5); Vanessa Williams: vocals (7); India.Arie: vocals (9); Donna Summer: vocals (11).

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"Talking Jazz" Box Set Now Available

Often, jazz documentaries and programs can be either too dry and academic or too reverential. Understandably, such passionate music inspires emotional reaction. It’s a rare occasion when a host is objective and levelheaded, while possessing a vast amount of knowledge and insight. Ben Sidran (pictured) is such a host, and on his program Talking Jazz: An Oral History—which aired on NPR from 1984 to 1990—he defined the art of interviewing jazz musicians.
Now these conversations—60 in total—are available in a 24-CD box set, encased in a beautiful, sturdy shell with an 80-page booklet including liner notes from Sidran, as well as short essays by jazz personalities like Michael Cuscuna, Gene Lees and Craig Werner. Sidran narrowed down his favorite interviews from well over 100; among these are dialogues not only with legends like Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Max Roach and Sonny Rollins, but also with lesser-known but equally relevant artists like Archie Shepp, Don Cherry, Don Pullen, Carla Bley and Jackie McLean. Notable non-musicians like recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder, spoken-word maverick Ken Nordine and Village Vanguard owner Max Gordon are also represented.

Sidran, himself a renowned jazz/rock pianist, composer and producer—he first gained notoriety for writing the lyrics to Steve Miller’s hit “Space Cowboy,” eventually releasing over 30 albums and producing records by Mose Allison, Tony Williams and Rickie Lee Jones—mastered the art of making his subjects feel comfortable, resulting in these sensitive, and sometimes ornery, musicians revealing themselves and their fascinating stories. During a few interviews, the musician (in this instance, Blakey and Williams) stopped talking to demonstrate something on his instrument. Moments like this are what make this set so special and essential.

Talking Jazz is available for $249 (plus shipping and handling) and can be ordered at

Written By: Scott Verrastro

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

iTunes Adds Complete My Album Feature

iTunes' new Complete My Album feature offers customers 99 cents credit toward a complete album for every track they've already purchased.

Recent figures on U.S. music sales tend to indicate the digital single is exerting a strong influence over the online music industry, as online music stores offer consumer the ability to cherry-pick albums and pay for only their favorite tracks, rather than buying the whole thing. Maybe albums are on the way out, but Apple's iTunes has rolled out a new "Complete My Album" feature which enables consumers to purchase and entire albums' worth of tracks without having to pay again for individual tracks they have already have purchased. iTunes will offer a 99 cent credit towards the purchase of an album for every track a customer has previously bought from that album.

"Music fans can now round out their music collections by upgrading their singles into complete albums with just one click, and get full credit for those songs they have previously purchased from iTunes," said Eddy Cue, Apple's VP of iTunes, in a statement. "Complete My Album is a wonderful new way that iTunes helps customers grow and enjoy their music collections."

Complete My Album is time-limited: iTunes customers will have up to 180 days from the first purchase of individual tracks from a "qualifying" album to buy the rest of the tracks at a reduced price.

It remains to be seen whether features like "Complete My Album" will encourage listeners to sample unknown or under-appreciated tracks they might otherwise have skipped over in their online buying…but certainly folks who've never give up the mystique of the album will appreciate not (necessarily) having to buy a track a second time just to have the whole thing.

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Interest Group Works to Block XM-Sirius Merger

An interest group is fighting back against the XM-Sirius merger, sending a commissioned study to the FCC that claims the combined company would constitute a monopoly.

The Consumer Coalition for Competition in Satellite Radio (C3SR) was formed shortly after the merger was announced "to counter the potentially dim prospects facing subscribers of satellite radio under a monopoly provider," its Web site says.

C3SR claims consumers would pay more for less, and has repeatedly argued publicly that the deal poses no benefit to consumers. The study was authored by J. Gregory Sidak of Criterion Economics, who was a former Deputy General Counsel for the FCC.

"No matter how you slice it, dice it or package it, the merger of XM and Sirius would establish a monopoly, which are typically characterized by a lack of economic competition for the good or service that they provide, as well as a lack of viable substitute goods," Sidak says.

He argued that satellite radio is a distinct antitrust market, contradicting XM and Sirius' claims that they have competition in traditional broadcast media. Sidak also argued that it meets the definition of monopoly by any reasonable market definition.

Even if one includes AM, FM, and HD radio, the market power of the combined company is enough to cause concern, he argues.

"This study confirms, empirically, what we have been stressing since before this merger was even announced: subscribers do not view their satellite radio service as a substitute for other forms of entertainment, and a merged provider would be able and motivated to raise prices and cut back the programming that so many listeners value and depend on," said Chris Reale, a founder of C3SR.

Reale is a George Washington law student and an XM radio subscriber. He has also worked at a lobbying firm since 2004. He and the organization hopes the study will play a part in the FCC and DOJ's decision whether or not to approve the proposal.

By Ed Oswald, BetaNews

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Larry Coryell DVD | "Retrospective"

Legendary guitarist Larry Coryell will release a double-disc live set, Larry Coryell - A Retrospective, on May 15th. Recorded at The Avalon in Hollywood, California, the album features his famed fretwork throughout, joined by Bernard Pretty Purdie on drums.

Also appearing as special guests on the six-string are Maroon 5's James Valentine and Los Lobos' David Hidalgo, who pay homage to the guitar great.

The package includes two discs, featuring 14 live songs, interviews and behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage.

By: Adrianne Stone

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Jennifer Hudson Guests On Smooth Jazz Album: Saxophonist Jamie WilliamS 'Overjoyed' to have Oscar winner on his debut CD.

"Dreams do come true" and "Timing is everything" are just a couple of time-honored clichés that come to mind when you hear Jamie WilliamS' story. Ever since he was a young teenager, the saxophonist dreamed of recording an album.

In the making for the past ten years, After Hours, his debut collection of R&B, funk, contemporary jazz and pop instrumentals, is finally scheduled for national release May 15th on the Jamie WilliamS Music record label.

The album's producer, Veit Renn (*NSync, Backstreet Boys), connected WilliamS with Jennifer Hudson. She performed with him at a few of his local concert dates in Orlando, Florida.

The two connected and Hudson agreed to sing a version of Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed" for the disc. The single was serviced to radio to preview the album release around the time Hudson won an Academy Award for her role in Dreamgirls.

WilliamS wrote seven songs for After Hours and collaborated with Renn on another, the breezy, samba-seasoned "Tropica'." The album opens with the edgy jazz-hip-hop mélange "2 Cool." "Better Than Life" is a romantic pop ballad that WilliamS wrote for his wife, Ana. "Shut Up & Dance" mixes an energizing dance groove, lilting pop melodies and cool jazz nuances. The soulful title track was inspired by WilliamS' after-hours experiences playing nightclubs. The head-bobbing, booty-shakin' "Can U Feel It?" is a sweaty R&B groove equipped with a potent, feel-good pop hook. "Over The Top" is an aggressive contemporary jazz track with horns a-blazin' that goes for the kill right from the first note. "Calculated Risk" is a sultry mid-tempo soul-jazz cut. Hudson delivers a show-stopping vocal on "Overjoyed," while WilliamS' sax wonderfully accentuates her performance. Guitarist Bradley Catron wrote the funky, horn section-powered "S.O.S." jam. The album closes with a poignant message of "Love," the Musiq Soulchild original, with RAab (currently touring with Justin Timberlake) providing the passionate vocal chorus.

"After Hours depicts all the feelings and emotions I've experienced. I think we were able to capture the passion I have for music as well. Each tune is different and the record is how I've envisioned it (would turn out) all these years," said a pleased WilliamS. "It truly is a dream come true to release my debut album. Working with pros like Veit (Renn), RAab and the other musicians on the album was such a blessing. I'm grateful for the energy, ideas and creativity they brought to the record. As for Jennifer (Hudson), well she's a true professional and a pleasure to work with. She's an incredible talent. I'm thrilled to see the success she is having now and honored to have her on the album."

A native of Richardson, Texas, WilliamS was in high school when he was coaxed into seeing David Sanborn play. The dream to become an artist was born that night. He fully committed himself towards realizing that goal by taking lessons, practicing and jamming with friends, including trumpeter Roy Hargrove. WilliamS earned a full scholarship to the prestigious University of Miami music school, which lead to gigs with Miami Sound Machine, Jon Secada and Hiram Bullock, Sanborn's long-time guitarist. After graduation, WilliamS became active with his church and moved to Memphis, Tennessee where he immersed himself in the music scene by playing regular gigs at the House of Blues. Later, he moved to Nashville, where he wrote jingles for Black Entertainment Television, became a session player and coached other musicians and vocalists. Seeing another Sanborn concert while on vacation served as inspiration for launching his solo career. WilliamS moved to Orlando, formed a hot band and played all the local venues and jazz festivals. It was Catron who introduced him to Renn and everything came together organically for WilliamS after that. Additional information can be found at

Jamie WilliamS' After Hours contains the following songs:
"2 Cool"
"Calculated Risk"
"Better Than Life"
"Overjoyed" (featuring Jennifer Hudson)
"Shut Up & Dance"
"After Hours"
"Can U Feel It?"
"Over The Top"

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Norman Brown | "Let's Take A Ride"

Look for Norman Brown's new CD Stay With Meto hit stores on April 24, 2007

Guitarist, singer, and songwriter Norman Brown continues his Grammy® winning ways on Stay With Me, his very first album for the Peak Records label. This breezy, warm collection of ten original tunes offers a heaping helping of what the smoothly inventive guitar technician is known for: Tasty grooves, ear-caressing melodies, and delicious contemporary guitar licks that manage to evoke the spirit of the classic jazz guitar giants who first inspired him.

This time out, Brown has distilled his very unique musical formula, stretching out by showcasing his urban vocals on several tunes, including the title track, as well as writing and producing most of the album's material himself. Explains Brown, "I did a lot of collaborating on the last two albums, and I wanted to showcase more of my writing on this album to show what I've learned from all that collaborating. I also wanted to get back to producing, and I produced six of the cuts on this record." The title Stay With Me is also encouragement to his longtime supporters, adds Brown: "I wanted to send a message to my fans: Stick around -- it's getting better and there's a lot here for you."

Making a special appearance is an old friend, singer-songwriter Brian McKnight, who wrote and produced the title track "Stay With Me" and lends his vocals to the backgrounds while Brown handles the lead vocals. The contemporary R&B tune will delight fans who learned of Brown's vocal skills with his 2004 urban AC hit "I Might" from his previous chart topping album, West Coast Coolin'.

Fellow smooth jazz stars Rick Braun and Kirk Whalum reunite with Brown for the super group BWB one more time for Brown composition "It's Not Over" featuring Braun's trumpet and Whalum's sax magic. "I just loved being in that group!" Brown enthuses about the ensemble. In addition, hit-making guitarist and producer Paul Brown huddles with him to create the tunes "Pop's Cool Groove" and "Soul Dance," and also lends his production skills to the contemporary R&B vocal groove "I Need You."

The overall vibe of Stay With Me is set by the lead track and first single, "Let's Take A Ride," a tune as groovy as a convertible cruise on a sunny day. In addition to Norman's distinctive guitar melody, the tune features his layered background harmonies. The musician says the tune was inspired by his older brother, who first encouraged him to pick up a guitar. "When I first wrote it, I wanted to call it 'My Buddy And Me.' It was the kind of that thing he liked to do," Norman reminisces of the brother the family called Popsicle until his untimely death in a car accident when Norman was a high school senior. "The song reminded me of that feeling I would get when I'd ride with him."

Another family member, Brown's father, was the inspiration for "Pop's Cool Groove," an evocation of the sound of pioneering guitarist Wes Montgomery set to a bossa nova groove. "He would sit down in the basement and listen to me practice for hours and hours. And he really liked Wes Montgomery and that style, so I learned that style," Brown explains. "And when I finished this song, it was like, Oh yeah, this is Pop's cool groove."

Other album highlights include the sexy, soul-satisfying ballad "So In Love," the thoughtful "Every Little Thing," and the inspirational, toe-tapping tribute "You Keep Lifting Me Higher."

Brown says that the album's overall vibe was partly inspired by his past. Though the sunny musician is more apt look forward in his artistry, he says fans kept telling him that his second release, After The Storm, was their favorite album. "I won a Grammy for Just Chillin'-- didn't matter, fans say they love that After The Storm CD," he laughs. "I had to go back and listen to it, I had stopped listening to it, just moving forward. So I just went back and re-lived that album. It gave me a reminder of who I am."

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Kurt Elling | "Nightmoves"

Everyone deserves a fresh start. What’s more, everyone gets a fresh start, every day: It’s called “sunrise.” That sounds like a bad joke, but it’s true. Every day is a clean slate, if we just commit ourselves to that concept. This theme of renewal and redemption drives Nightmoves, Kurt Elling’s first disc in four years.

Elling is all about new beginnings nowadays; he’s taken on new management, and he's making his Concord debut after a ten-year relationship with Blue Note. Some things, fortunately, have not changed: he’s still backed by the ever-sharp Laurence Hobgood Trio—though they are augmented by notable guest artists like Christian McBride, Bob Mintzer and Howard Levy. Also, Elling is still one of the great jazz interpreters of this generation; he's not afraid to take risks in order to make his vision live.

Who else would think of blending Keith Jarrett with Frank Sinatra, or Irving Berlin with Antonio Carlos Jobim? Elling makes both pairs without a qualm. “Leaving Again/In the Wee Small Hours” is a nuanced picture of the everyday “heel.” Through Elling’s lyric to an untitled Jarrett improvisation, we see a man sneaking out on a lover, unable to maintain any connection beyond the physical; “In the Wee Small Hours” finds the man in his own bed, alone, pining for the one that got away. It takes all the fun out of “hooking up,” but that’s the point. Watching the woman you love with someone else is a universal downer, and Elling flawlessly links Berlin’s pleading “Change Partners” with the wistful Jobim bossa “If You Never Come to Me” to give us two versions of the same hell.

Elling examines love—both lost and found—through the eyes of some fascinating sources. He teams up with Hobgood trio bassist Rob Amster on an improvised vocalese of the Theodore Roethke poem “The Waking,” and then follows it with an expansion on “The Sleepers,” part of Fred Hersch’s take on Walt Whitman’s epic poem Leaves of Grass. Randy Bachman wrote “Undun” about a girl who went into a coma after dropping acid; in Elling’s hands, the girl is at the tail end of a bad relationship choice, lost without the love she thought was true.

With moving versions of “Body and Soul” (appearing here as “A New Body and Soul,” inspired by Dexter Gordon’s 1976 treatment) and Ellington’s “I Like the Sunrise,” you can’t help but see Elling as the descendant of Sinatra and Bennett. But the opening title track comes from Michael Franks, a contemporary master who was always good for a smart lyric and a vocal you couldn’t pin down. That sums up Kurt Elling pretty well, too.

Elling calls Nightmoves “a soundtrack,” but he won’t say what it’s really about. I can tell you it’s not a “date movie,” though it just might send you out of the theatre smiling and—above all—hopeful.

Visit Kurt Elling on the web.
Kurt Elling at All About Jazz.

Track listing: Nightmoves; Tight; Change Partners/If You Never Come to Me; Undun; Where Are You, My Love; And We Will Fly; The Waking; The Sleepers; Leaving Again/In The Wee Small Hours; A New Body And Soul; I Like the Sunrise.

Personnel: Kurt Elling: vocals; Laurence Hobgood: piano; Willie Jones, III: drums; Christian McBride: bass (1-4,6,10); Rob Amster: bass (5,7,8,11); Rob Mounsey: electric piano, keyboards (1, 4, 6); Guilherme Monteiro: guitar (3,6); Bob Mintzer: tenor sax (1); Howard Levy: harmonica (3); Gregoire Maret: harmonica (6); The Escher String Quartet (5,8).

By J Hunter

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Tisdale Recovering From Leg Injury

Cancerous cyst isolated to a bone in his leg

Former NBA star, Olympic gold medalist and popular jazz bassist Wayman Tisdale is undergoing treatment to remove a cyst from his fibula according to his manager and record label.

Tisdale suffered a leg injury last month due to a fall in his home. After an extensive battery of tests, it has just been diagnosed that the cause of the injury was a cancerous cyst isolated to a bone in his leg. Tisdale is already on the road to recovery and plans to resume touring in time for his Smooth Jazz Cruise in January 2008. He is also planning a new album, with the appropriate working title "Rebound."

Tisdale comments, "I am so pleased to report that my recovery will be 100%, and that I have been told that I am otherwise cancer-free. To recover properly, I need to curtail my touring and public appearances for a while. What this means is that I will have more free time to devote to my music. I am taking this time to work on a new record and some other very interesting projects."

Tisdale’s latest CD on Rendezvous, "Way Up!," is among the year-to-date's best-selling jazz releases; the project debuted at No.1 on the Soundscan Contemporary Jazz chart; spent 30 weeks in the Top 10 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Chart; and the title track is currently No. 2* on R&R's Smooth Jazz chart.

Tisdale spent 12 years with the NBA, segueing from the gold-winning Olympic team to stints with the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns. He has released seven solo albums to date. Tisdale was inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame and received the Legacy Tribute Award in 2002 and was nominated by the NAACP for an Image Award as "Outstanding Jazz Artist" in 2004.

By Carol Archer

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Smooth Jazz Chart | Week Ended 3/26/07

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 - Peter White - "Playin' Favorites" - (Columbia)
4 - 3 - Paul Brown - "White Sand" - (Peak)
3 - 4 - Boney James - "Shine" - (Concord)
6 - 5 - Walter Beasley "Ready For Love" - (Heads Up)
5 - 6 - Chuck Loeb - "Presence" - (Heads Up)
7 - 7 - Wayman Tisdale - "Way Up" - (Rendezvous)
8 - 8 - Mindi Abair - "Life Less Ordinary" - (GRP)
9 - 9 - Eric Darius - "Just Getting Started" - (Narada Jazz)
11 - 10 - Nils - "Ready To Play" - (Baja)

Find these top-ten and more at

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

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Fattburger | "Greatest Hits"

Fourteen years after the release of their Best Of Fattburger album, jazz outfit Fattburger is preparing to release a Greatest Hits album tomorrow (March 27th). The album's dozen tracks include such hits as "Groovin'(On a Sunday Afternoon)," "Evil Ways," and set opener "Oye Como Va."

The group gets attention not only for its consistently high-energy grooves and smooth melodies, but for its unusual name. Bassist Mark Hunter says that the group was a nameless house band when the group's keyboardist dreamed up a musical tribute to his favorite Los Angeles institution: the Fatburger hamburger chain, known not only for its burgers, but for its late-night hours.

Said Mark: "Our keyboard player, Carl Evans, Jr., had written a song called 'Fattburger,'which is an ode to the Fatburger hamburger chains. There was one night when he went in there late night after working in Los Angeles, got himself a double chili cheese, and just devoured the thing. And on his way home to San Diego he came up this melody in his head. And that became the ode to Fatburger."

Drummer Kevin Koch adds that the tune ultimately became a signature for the band: "It was one of our more popular songs. We were playing at a club near San Diego State College down there every week--and people they would always request, 'Play the Fattburger song!'And all of a sudden we started becoming known as the band that played the Fattburger song, and then pretty soon it got shortened down to the Fattburger Band, let's go hear Fattburger. Before we knew it, when we came out with our first CD, it was like, what are we gonna call it? Everyone was like: Ya gotta call it Fattburger!'"

Previous albums by Fattburger include 1993's On A Roll, 1995's Livin Large, 1996's All Natural Ingredients, 1998's Sugar, 2000's, 2001's T.G.I.Fattburger, 2003's Sizzlin and 2004's Work To Do.

By: Adrianne Stone

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Beatlejazz | "All You Need"

Remember when Miles Davis used Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” as concert staples? The uproar over his choices brings up a question: What, exactly, is a standard? Is the definition strictly limited to the contents of The Great American Songbook? Or is it simply a tune that did not originate as jazz, but was adapted to the genre? Thanks to artists like Brad Mehldau and Richard Glasper, Radiohead is now considered prime fodder for jazz interpretation; also, Cassandra Wilson covered “Time After Time” on her Davis tribute, Traveling Miles (Blue Note, 1999).

My point is twofold: First the songs of the Beatles can easily be considered standards for recent generations; second, it’s not what you play, but how you play it. I was living in London when Help! was a first-run film, so I’m pretty protective of the Fab Four’s original recordings. I even reject Let It Be… Naked (Capitol, 2003), despite George Harrison and Ringo Starr’s disparaging comments about Phil Spector’s production techniques on the original record. That being said, All You Need—Beatlejazz’s fourth examination of the group’s collective and solo works—is most successful when it’s totally unfaithful.

The swinging, multi-time-signature “Lady Madonna” and the aggressive “Cold Turkey” really shake the music up, and Bruce Melvin’s tabla combines with Larry Grenadier’s sitar-like bass on the opening of “All Things Must Pass” to dig deep into Harrison’s post-Beatles relationship with Ravi Shankar. It also acts as a fine precursor to Dave Kikoski’s evocative treatment of the original melody. Kikoski and company morph “Fool on the Hill” into a whimsical waltz, further lightened by Toots Thielemans’ signature harmonica. Thielemans also adds a reflective tone to Paul McCartney’s “Waterfalls” and injects a placid space into the gritty rendition of John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy.” The overall feel of the latter tune embodies New York City, Lennon’s adopted hometown, while Thielemans’ segments act as the safe place John and Yoko tried to give their son Sean.

Joe Lovano’s contributions are anything but placid: His wild tenor takes “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” a long way from its Dylan-esque origins, and brings Lennon’s “Look at Me” back to New York with a bluesy, gravel-coated solo. Lovano’s work is as satisfying as Richard Bona’s is disappointing. Bona pales in comparison to Grenadier, whose fat lines and alternate solos are perfect foils for Kikoski’s outstanding keyboard work. Traditionalist that I am, the three tunes Bona appear on are too faithful, and seem shaped specifically for smooth jazz airplay.

The line from “Revolution” goes, “If you’re talkin’ ‘bout destruction/Don’t you know that you can count me out.” But once again, All You Need works best when reverence is chucked out the window and Beatlejazz starts the creative process from scratch. I mean, if “You say you want a revolution,” why do things the same old way?

Visit Beatlejazz on the web.
Beatlejazz at All About Jazz.

Track listing: Fool On The Hill; Lady Madonna; The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill; All You Need is Love; All Things Must Pass; The Night Before; Beautiful Boy; Look At Me; I Want You (She’s So Heavy); Cold Turkey; Waterfalls.

Personnel: Dave Kikoski: piano, keyboards; Brian Melvin: drums, tabla; Larry Grenadier: bass (1-3, 5, 7-9, 11); Richard Bona: bass, vocals (4, 6, 10); Toots Thielemans: harmonica (1, 7, 11); Joe Lovano: tenor sax (3, 8)

By J Hunter

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Upcoming Jazz Releases | 3/27/07

ACQ (Amy Cervini Quartet) - Famous Blue (Orange Grove Jazz)
Amanda Mabro & Cabaret Band - Superwoman in the Making (XXI-21)
Andreas Oberg - Solo (Hot Club)
Ben Tankard - Let's Get Quiet: Smooth Jazz Experience (Sbrne)
Carlos Santana / Wayne Shorter 1988 - Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival (Image) - 2+ CDs
Elvis Costello - Juliet Letters (Weasel Disc) - DVD-Video
Fattburger - Greatest Hits (Shanachie)
Franco Ambrosetti - Franco Ambrosetti (Multisonic)
Gang Font Featuring Interloper - Gang Font Featuring Interloper (Thirsty Ear)
Hiromi - Time Control (Telarc)
Jeff Newell's New-Trad Octet - Brownstone (Blujazz)
John Zorn - Six Litanies for Heliogabalus (Tzadik)
Jurgen Friedrich - Seismo (Germany) (Pirouet)
Kathleen Grace Band - Songbird (Indie)
Kim Waters - You Are My Lady (Shanachie)
Najponk - Just About Love (Cube Bohemia)
Paradigm Shift - Street Expressionism (Germany) (Nagel Heyer)
Sadao Watanabe - Best (Koch)
Sara Lazarus / Bireli Lagrene Gypsy Project - It's All Right With Me (Dreyfus)
Stanley Clarke - Night School (Universal) - DVD-Video
Stepan Markovic - Saxtet (Multisonic)
Susanne Menzel - Seasons (Germany) (Nagel Heyer)
Various Artists - Interpretations: Celebrating the Music of Earth Wind & Fire (Concord)
Vojtech Eckert - Meditation (Cube Bohemia)

Al Haig - Invitation (Japan) (Toshiba)
ALexis Korner - Alexis Korner (remastered) (UK) (Castle)
Andre Previn - Plays My Fair Lady & A Dozen Great Standards (Living Era)
Andy Snitzer - Alfie's Theme (Japan) (Video Arts)
Andy Snitzer - Sugar (Japan) (Video Arts)
Antonio Carlos Jobim / Edu Lobo - Edu & Tom / Tom & Edu (Japan) (Universal)
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers - Au Club (Japan) (BMG)
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers - Night in Tunisia (Japan) (BMG)
Arthur Fiedler / Stan Getz - At Tanglewood (Japan) (BMG)
Astrud Gilberto - Look to the Rainbow (Japan Ltd. Edition) (Universal)
Benny Golson - Tenor Legacy (Japan) (Video Arts)
Benny Goodman - Best (Japan) (BMG)
Brecker Brothers - Back to Back (Japan) (BMG)
Brecker Brothers - Brecker Brothers (Japan) (BMG)
Bud Powell - Strictly Bud (Japan) (BMG)
Bud Shank - By Request: Meets the Rhythm Section (Japan) (Video Arts)
Cannonball Adderley - In San Francisco (Fantasy)
Charles Brown - Groovy (England) (Revola)
Chet Baker - Theme Music from the James Dean Story (Japan) (Toshiba)
Coleman Hawkins / Lester Young - Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young (Japan) (BMG)
Count Basie - Basie is Back (Concord)
Dexter Gordon - Biting the Apple (Japan) (Video Arts)
Dexter Gordon / Jackie McLean - Meeting (Japan) (Video Arts)
Django Reinhardt - In Memoriam 1908-1954 (Japan) (BMG)
Donald Byrd - Byrd's Eye View (Japan) (Toshibia)
Duke Ellington - And His Mother Called Him Bill (Japan) (BMG)
Duke Ellington - Best (Japan) (BMG)
Duke Jordan - Blue Duke (Japan) (BMG)
Duke Jordan - Flight to Denmark (Japan) (Video Arts)
Earl Hines - Here Comes (Japan) (BMG)
Earl Klugh - Peculiar Situation (Japan) (BMG)
Eddie Henderson Quintet - Dreams of Gershwin (Japan) (Video Arts)
Eddie Henderson Quintet - Manhattan in Blue (Japan) (Video Arts)
Eugene Cicero - Jazz Bach (Japan) (BMG)
Freddie Green - Mr. Rhythm (Japan) (BMG)
Freddie Hubbard - Rose Tattoo (Japan) (BMG)
Gary McFarland - Soft Samba Strings (Japan) (Universal)
Jessie Matthews - Over My Shoulder (Living Era)
Joe Henderson - Power to the People (Fantasy)
John Coltrane - Coltrane Time (Japan) (Toshiba)
John Pizzarelli - Meets the Beatles (Japan) (BMG)
KennY Dorham - Jazz Contrasts (Fantasy)
Kenny Drew - By Request (Japan) (BMG)
Kenny Drew - Dark Beauty (Japan) (Video Arts)
Kimiko Itoh - Kimiko (Japan) (Video Arts)
Kimiko Itoh - Once You've Been in Love (Japan) (Video Arts)
Lena Horne / Michel Legrand - Lena & Michel (Japan) (BMG)
Luiz Henrique - Barra Limpa (Japan) (Universal)
Manhattan Jazz Orchestra - Some Skunk Funk (Japan) (Video Arts)
Manhattan Jazz Orchestra - Take the A Train (Japan) (Video Arts)
Manhattan Jazz Orchestra - Teen Town (Japan) (Video Arts)
Manu Di Bango - 20th Century Masters (Universal)
Marcos Valle - Samba 60 (Japan) (Universal)
Matt Dennis - Playa Melancholy Baby (Japan) (BMG)
McCoy Tyner Super Group - Prelude & Sonata (Japan) (Video Arts)
Michael Brecker - Featuring Claus Ogerman (Japan) (BMG)
Michael Brecker - Don't Try This At Home (Japan) (Universal)
Michael Brecker - Michael Brecker (Japan) (Universal)
Michael Brecker - Nearness of You: The Ballad Book (Japan) (Universal)
Michael Brecker - Now You See It...Now You Don't (Japan) (Universal)
Michael Brecker - Tales from the Hudson (Japan) (Universal)
Michael Franks - Barefoot on the Beach (Japan) (BMG)
Mildred Bailey - The Rockin' Chair Lady (Living Era)
Milt Jackson - Jazz N Samba (Japan) (Universal)
Nara Leao - Manha de Liberdade (Japan) (Universal)
Nara Leao - Nara Pede Passagem (Japan) (Universal)
Nara Leao - Opinao de Lara (Japan) (Universal)
Niels Lan Doky Trio Montmartre - Spain (Japan) (Video Arts)
Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen - Friends Forever (Japan) (Video Arts)
Nina Simone - Here Comes the Sun (Japan) (BMG)
Nino Rosso - Il Silencio (Netherlands) (Remember)
Paul Chambers - Chanbers' Music (Japan) (Toshiba)
Paul Desmond - Easy Living (Japan) (BMG)
Paul Desmond - From the Hot Afternoon (Japan) (Universal)
Paul Smith - Cool and Sparkling (Japan) (Toshiba)
Paul Smith - Cool and Sparkling (Japan) (Toshiba)
Quintet (Featuring Ryan Kisor & Andy Snitzer) - Jordu (Japan) (Video Arts)
Ramsey Lewis - Bossa Nova (Japan) (Universal)
Ramsey Lewis - Goin' Latin (Japan) (Universal)
Raphael Fays - Django & Magic (Chant du Monde)
Ray Barretto - Aqui se Puede (Fania)
Red Garland - Misty Red (Japan) (BMG)
Regina Elis - Elis Especial (Japan) (Universal)
Regina Elis - Em Pleno Verao (Japan) (Universal)
Ryan Kisor - Kisor (Japan) (Video Arts)
Scott Joplin - Ragtime Roll (PiD)
Shirley Scott - Latin Shadows (Japan) (Universal)
Sonny Rollins - Itineraire D'Un Genie (PiD)
Sonny Rollins - Standard (Japan) (BMG)
Spanish Fly - Crimes of Agony (Machete)
Stan Getz - Live in Paris (Japan) (Videa Arts)
Stan Getz / Joao Gilberto - Getz Gilberto V.2 (Japan Ltd. Edition) (Universal)
Super Jazz Trio - Standard (Japan) (BMG)
Thelonious Monk - Plays Duke Ellington (Fantasy)
Trio Montmartre - Casa Dolce Casa (Japan) (Video Arts)
Various Artists - Breathe: The Relaxing Jazz Piano (Telarc)
Walter Wanderley - Batacuda (Japan) (Universal)
Walter Wanderley - Kee-Ka-Roo (Japan) (Universal)
Walter Wanderley - Moondream (Japan) (Universal)
Walter Wanderley - Rain Forest (Japan) (Universal)
Weather Report - Black Market (Japan LP Sleeve) (Sony)
Weather Report - Heavy Weather (Japan LP Sleeve) (Sony)
Weather Report - I Sing the Body Electric (Japan LP Sleeve) (Sony)
Weather Report - Mr. Gone (Japan LP Sleeve) (Sony)
Weather Report - Mysterious Traveller (Japan LP Sleeve) (Sony)
Weather Report - Sweetnighter (Japan LP Sleeve) (Sony)
Weather Report - Tail Spinnnin' (Japan LP Sleeve) (Sony)
Weather Report - Weather Report (Japan LP Sleeve) (Sony)
Wes Montgomery - Full House (Fantasy)

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Publishers Sue XM Satellite Radio

A group of music publishers sued XM Satellite Radio over the XM + MP3 service late today (March 22). EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music, Sony/ATV Music and Famous Music claim they want to "put an end to the pervasive and willful copyright infringement" of their compositions distributed over the service to "iPod-like devices controlled by XM."

"We've read that XM paid Oprah $55 million to develop content," says David Israelite, president/CEO of the National Music Publishers' Assn. "Yet they haven't paid one penny to creators of music for copies on these devices."

XM has argued in the past that it functions only as a radio broadcaster, licensing the compositions from performing rights organizations ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. "The lawsuit filed by the NMPA is a negotiating tactic to gain an advantage in our ongoing business discussions," says a spokesman for XM in a statement. "XM pays royalties to writers and composers who are also compensated by our device manufacturers. We are confident that the lawsuit is without merit and that we will prevail."

The publishers claim that the service does not merely broadcast recorded songs; it delivers perfect digital copies of songs for its customers to copy to the devices, create extensive libraries of the songs and replay them for as long as the listeners pay XM's monthly fee. Yet XM has not licensed the right to reproduce or distribute the recorded compositions, publishers claim.

The suit, filed in the federal District Court in New York, comes one month after a judge in the same court handed major labels a partial victory in their case against XM over the service. In January, federal District Court Judge Deborah Batts denied XM's attempt to dismiss the labels' lawsuit. The two suits could be consolidated so the same judge would preside over both claims.

Israelite says that negotiations began with president/CEO Hugh Panero over a year ago. "XM's final, best offer was far from adequate," says Israelite. He declined to provide specific details of the offer, citing a confidentiality agreement between the parties concerning details of the discussions.

Sirius Satellite Radio, part of the $13 billion proposed merger with XM, settled similar claims with labels over its S50 portable device last year. Israelite says that Sirius has not yet settled with publishers; he expects negotiations to start up again soon.

Named as plaintiffs in the suit are Famous, the Viacom-owned independent publisher, and 26 other publishers owned by EMI, Warner/Chappell or Sony/ TV. Although Universal Music Publishing Group and BMG Music Publishing are not named as plaintiffs, they are also part of the suit since it was filed by the NMPA on behalf of its members.

"In these types of cases, you find some representative plaintiffs," says Israelite. "This suit is really a fight for the entire publishing industry."

The publishers seek a maximum of $150,000 per infringement, listing in the complaint more than 200 songs as a "small fraction" of the compositions infringed. They include "Let It Be," "My Heart Will Go On," "Me and Bobby McGee" and "Like a Prayer."

"We don't want to hold back the technology, we don't want to prevent consumers' choice of how to acquire music," says Israelite. "But we must be sure that our creators are compensated properly when copies of their music are made."

Debra Wong Yang, former U.S. Attorney for Los Angeles and now a partner with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, is lead attorney in the case for the publishers.


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RIAA's Case Against Mother Faltering

A U.S. District Court Judge has denied the RIAA's effort to walk away quietly from its case against New York resident Patricia Santangelo, saying she had the right to have her legal status resolved "one way or the other."

In a judgment filed on Monday and obtained by BetaNews, Judge Colleen McMahon ruled that RIAA will either have to proceed to trial or motion to dismiss the case with prejudice. Either way will result in an unfavorable situation for the group.

If the case goes to court, it is likely that Santangelo's defense will prevail in proving that she was not guilty of copyright infringement. Equally embarrassing for the plaintiff would be a dismissal with prejudice, which would essentially be a ruling in the mother of five's favor.

Dismissals with prejudice make the plaintiffs responsible for court costs as it is essentially an admission that there is no case against the defendant. It will also likely impact RIAA's case against her kids Michelle and Robert, which it sued in November.

"This case is two years old," McMahon wrote. "There has been extensive fact discovery. After taking this discovery, either plaintiffs want to make their case that Mrs. Santangelo is guilty of contributory copyright or they do not."

The one-page judgment seems to take on almost a scolding tone against the RIAA, indicating the judge's patience may be wearing thin. She also dismissed the assertions that Santangelo may be lying to the court about her computer knowledge.

"I would be shocked if she had NOT become a bit more sophisticated and computer literate over the last 24 months," she chided.

By Ed Oswald, BetaNews

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Sales of Music, Long in Decline Plunge Sharply - Rise in Downloading Fails to Boost Industry - A Retailing Shakeout

In a dramatic acceleration of the seven-year sales decline that has battered the music industry, compact-disc sales for the first three months of this year plunged 20% from a year earlier, the latest sign of the seismic shift in the way consumers acquire music.

The sharp slide in sales of CDs, which still account for more than 85% of music sold, has far eclipsed the growth in sales of digital downloads, which were supposed to have been the industry's salvation.

The slide stems from the confluence of long-simmering factors that are now feeding off each other, including the demise of specialty music retailers like longtime music mecca Tower Records. About 800 music stores, including Tower's 89 locations, closed in 2006 alone.

Apple Inc.'s sale of around 100 million iPods shows that music remains a powerful force in the lives of consumers. But because of the Internet, those consumers have more ways to obtain music now than they did a decade ago, when walking into a store and buying it was the only option.

Today, popular songs and albums -- and countless lesser-known works -- can be easily found online, in either legal or pirated forms. While the music industry hopes that those songs will be purchased through legal services like Apple's iTunes Store, consumers can often listen to them on MySpace pages or download them free from other sources, such as so-called MP3 blogs.

Jeff Rabhan, who manages artists and music producers including Jermaine Dupri, Kelis and Elliott Yamin, says CDs have become little more than advertisements for more-lucrative goods like concert tickets and T-shirts. "Sales are so down and so off that, as a manager, I look at a CD as part of the marketing of an artist, more than as an income stream," says Mr. Rabhan. "It's the vehicle that drives the tour, the merchandise, building the brand, and that's it. There's no money."

The music industry has found itself almost powerless in the face of this shift. Its struggles are hardly unique in the media world. The film, TV and publishing industries are also finding it hard to adapt to the digital age. Though consumers are exposed to more media in more ways than ever before, the challenge for media companies is finding a way to make money from all that exposure. Newspaper publishers, for example, are finding that their Internet advertising isn't growing fast enough to replace the loss of traditional print ads.

In recent weeks, the music industry has posted some of the weakest sales it has ever recorded. This year has already seen the two lowest-selling No. 1 albums since Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks music sales, was launched in 1991.

One week, "American Idol" runner-up Chris Daughtry's rock band sold just 65,000 copies of its chart-topping album; another week, the "Dreamgirls" movie soundtrack sold a mere 60,000. As recently as 2005, there were many weeks when such tallies wouldn't have been enough to crack the top 30 sellers. In prior years, it wasn't uncommon for a No. 1 record to sell 500,000 or 600,000 copies a week.

In general, even today's big titles are stalling out far earlier than they did a few years ago.

The music industry has been banking on the rise of digital music to compensate for inevitable drops in sales of CDs. Apple's 2003 launch of its iTunes Store was greeted as a new day in music retailing, one that would allow fans to conveniently and quickly snap up large amounts of music from limitless virtual shelves.

It hasn't worked out that way -- at least so far. Digital sales of individual songs this year have risen 54% from a year earlier to 173.4 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan. But that's nowhere near enough to offset the 20% decline from a year ago in CD sales to 81.5 million units. Overall, sales of all music -- digital and physical -- are down 10% this year. And even including sales of ringtones, subscription services and other "ancillary" goods, sales are still down 9%, according to one estimate; some recording executives have privately questioned that figure, which was included in a recent report by Pali Research.

Meanwhile, one billion songs a month are traded on illegal file-sharing networks, according to BigChampagne LLC.

Adding to the music industry's misery, CD prices have fallen amid pressure for cheaper prices from big-box retailers like Wal-Mart and others. That pressure is feeding through to record labels' bottom lines. As the market has deteriorated, Warner Music Group Corp., which reported a 74% drop in profits for the fourth quarter of 2006, is expected to report little relief in the first quarter of this year.

Looking at unit sales alone "flatters the situation," says Simon Wright, chief executive of Virgin Entertainment Group International, which runs 14 Virgin Megastores locations in North America and 250 world-wide. "In value terms, the market's down 25%, probably." Virgin's music sales have increased slightly this year, he says, thanks to the demise of chief competitor Tower, and to a mix of fashion and "lifestyle" products designed to attract customers.

Perhaps the biggest factor in the latest chapter of the music industry's struggle is the shakeout among music retailers. As recently as a decade ago, specialty stores like Tower Records were must-shop destinations for fans looking for both big hits and older catalog titles. But retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Best Buy Co. took away the hits business by undercutting the chains on price. Today such megaretailers represent about 65% of the retail market, up from 20% a decade ago, music-distribution executives estimate. And digital-music piracy, which has been rife since the rise of the original Napster file-sharing service, has allowed many would-be music buyers to fill their CD racks or digital-music players without ever venturing into a store.

Late last year, Tower Records closed its doors, after filing for bankruptcy-court protection in August. Earlier in 2006, following a bankruptcy filing, Musicland Holding Corp., which owned the Sam Goody chain, closed 500 of its 900 locations. And recently, Trans World Entertainment Corp., which operates the FYE and Coconuts chains, among others, began closing 134 of its 1,087 locations.

But even at the outlets that are still open, business has suffered. Executives at Trans World, based in Albany, N.Y., told analysts earlier this month that sales of music at its stores declined 14% in the last quarter of 2006. For the year, music represented just 44% of the company's sales, down from 54% in 2005. For the final quarter of the year, music represented just 38% of its sales.

Joe Nardone Jr., who owns the independent 10-store Gallery of Sound chain in Pennsylvania, says he is trying to make up for declining sales of new music by emphasizing used CDs, which he calls "a more consistent business." For now, though, he says used discs represent less than 10% of his business -- not nearly enough to offset the declines.

Retailers and others say record labels have failed to deliver big sellers. And even the hits aren't what they used to be. Norah Jones's "Not Too Late" has sold just shy of 1.1 million copies since it was released six weeks ago. Her previous album, "Feels Like Home," sold more than 2.2. million copies in the same period after its 2004 release.

"Even when you have a good release like Norah Jones, maybe the environment is so bad you can't turn it around," says Richard Greenfield, an analyst at Pali Research.

Meanwhile, with music sales sliding for the first time even at some big-box chains, Best Buy has been quietly reducing the floor space it dedicates to music, according to music-distribution executives.

Whether Wal-Mart and others will follow suit isn't clear, but if they do it could spell more trouble for the record companies. The big-box chains already stocked far fewer titles than did the fading specialty retailers. As a result, it is harder for consumers to find and purchase older titles in stores.


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Steve Cole, Kim Waters, And Jeff Kashiwa Perform As Sax Pack At Berks Jazz Fest

Saxophonists Steve Cole, Kim Waters, and Jeff Kashiwa take the stage at the 17th Annual Berks Jazz Fest in Reading, Pennsylvania this Saturday (March 24th), as the Sax Pack supergroup. In addition to their own tracks, the Sax Pack performs some new original compositions every show, which are written during an annual week together that they call the "Sax Pack Summit." The Sax Pack plays about 20 dates together every year.

"We see ourselves as a group whose sound has really developed along with our unique onstage rapport with each other," Cole told Smooth Jazz News. "Each one of the past three years before touring season begins, we pick a city and convene in our hotel rooms to not only work on a set list, but set up a mini recording studio to write fresh material that our fans can't hear anywhere else. Kim brings his keyboard, Jeff his computer and speakers, and I bring another computer and we go to work."

Kashiwa said that that Cole and Waters were his first choices for the project: "I had my A-list and they were at the top of it, for a number of reasons. First of all Kim Waters and Steve Cole are great players, great musicians, with great music, they have great songs on their CDs. But also they're great guys and they've been friends for years. And I thought, this is great way to spend some time, with some friends."

Cole's latest album, True, features all original compositions by the Chicago-based artist, as well as guest appearances by saxophonist David Mann, guitarist Jeff Golub, keyboardist Ricky Peterson, and percussionist Lenny Castro. It includes the singles "Metro" and "Take Me."

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Mosaic Contemporary Releases: Earl Klugh and Jaco Pastorius

Two new compilations on the Mosaic label were released yesterday, featuring the best of guitarist Earl Klugh and the late bassist Jaco Pastorius.

The Ultimate Earl Klugh features highlights of his 28-year career, from his 1976 hit "Angelina" through his popular collaborations with Bob James and George Benson. The album also showcases the work of guests Dave Grusin, Eric Gale, Steve Gadd, Patti Austin, and Lee Ritenour.

Guitarist Paul Jackson Jr. Jackson says that Klugh, who started his career as a solo artist in 1976 with the album Love Songs, is a widely respected artist among smooth jazz players: "If you ask Peter White and Marc Antoine and all the acoustic guitar players, who is the best acoustic guitar player, who's the best gut-string guitar player, everybody will tell you Earl Klugh. At least they should. If they're smart. And they really know music."

The Ultimate Jaco Pastorius collects highlights from the late bassist's recording career including trumpeter Freddie Hubbard's 1978 recording Super Blue, and flutist Hubert Laws'1970 breakthrough set, Afro Classic.

Pastorius was famous for his mastery of the fretless bass, and frequent collaborator Pat Metheny says that he thought of Pastorius whenever he played the fretless guitar: "Sitting on my shoulder at all times is the memory of my friend Jaco Pastorius, who was one of the most relentlessly critical musicians I can ever imagine existing when it came to demanding perfect intonation from fretless instruments. Every time I pick that thing up, I'm thinking about the standard that Jaco himself set for what fretless playing involves in the intonation department. It's really a challenge for me."

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We All Love Ella: Celebrating The First Lady Of Song

Verve Records has gathered a top-notch group of genre-spanning artists and a legendary producer to create the new 'We All Love Ella: Celebrating the First Lady of Song, ' a heartfelt, loving tribute to the great Ella Fitzgerald (release date - June 5).

It's the signature album in a series of releases that are part of the label's year-long celebration of Ella's 90th birthday year. We All Love Ella: A Celebration of the First Lady of Song' is produced by hit maker Phil Ramone and filled with passionate performances of classics made famous by Ella and sung by world-renowned singers and break-out stars Michael Bublé, Natalie Cole, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Diana Krall, Etta James, k.d. lang, Queen Latifah, Ledesi, Dianne Reeves, Linda Ronstadt and Lizz Wright.

Whether it's Diana Krall's tender "Dream A Little Dream", Natalie Cole's swingin' "A-Tisket, A-Tasket", k.d. lang's sultry "Angel Eyes" or the extraordinarily sassy and powerful "Blues in the Night" by newcomer Ledesi, the performances on 'We All Love Ella' keenly display Fitzgerald's expansive musical range and show how her style influenced generations of musicians from all backgrounds.

"It's an amazing group of people who wanted to be on this record. I think the common goal was to express their love for Ella", said Ramone, the production innovator whose credits include 32 Grammy nominations, 14 Grammy Awards and an Emmy among other honors and accolades.

Ella Fitzgerald was the most popular female jazz singer in the United States for more than half a century. In her lifetime, she won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums. Her catalog continues to be as popular as ever and her iconic stature is undiminished. Fitzgerald would have turned 90 on April 25, 2007.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Streaming Music Providers Unite to Combat Proposed Royalties

Attorneys for National Public Radio filed a motion in federal court yesterday for a re-hearing concerning the Copyright Royalty Board's decision to impose significantly higher "per-performance" royalty fees upon Internet streaming music providers, which include the online services of public radio stations.

But the hearing itself would be just the first step, NPR's motion itself states, as the broadcaster intends to appeal the CRB's proposal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, on the grounds that the decision of the CRB's judges "was arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion and/or unsupported by sufficient evidence." Just the minimum fee alone, NPR contends, would be quintupled to $500 per channel; and from there, the inflation rate for performance royalties would rise by an even higher factor, rendering the whole business of Internet streaming unsustainable.

NPR's challenge is thus far the largest, though possibly not the last, to emerge from a growing coalition of established terrestrial broadcasters with Internet interests and streaming media providers who provide outlets for musicians and hobbyists. This coalition - which has just set up a Web site at - is contesting a plan approved by the CRB to allow an organization called SoundExchange, representing the recording industry, to receive as much as $505 million in royalties retroactive to last year, by BetaNews estimates, from US-based streaming music providers. That revenue could rise to $2.3 billion by 2010.

But one way or the other, the recording industry won't receive those fees, streaming providers have told BetaNews since our first stories on this subject two weeks ago. If the rates are left standing, they predict a majority of streaming providers both large and small will simply exit the business, perhaps as soon as this spring.

Performance royalty organizations (PROs) such as ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC already collect fees from terrestrial radio broadcasters - fees which supposedly represent the artists' cut for songs played on the air. As streaming media provider Pandora's CTO Tom Conrad told BetaNews a few weeks ago, his company and others in his market space pay both the PROs and SoundExchange, whose fees represent the cut reserved for the performers who may not necessarily be the songwriters, as well as the "labels" - the companies which produce the music.

Few dispute that performers and recording studios deserve a fair share of the benefits from digital performances - Pandora makes such a concession. What's in dispute is whether a fair formula was used for assessing what that share should be. NPR's contention is that the SoundExchange group used as its basis for its formula a survey of webcasting activity produced by NPR, which itself states that certain figures for the survey are mere estimates.

"In determining rates for public radio, the Judges appear to have relied on...a rough survey conducted by NPR to investigate the webcasting activities of NPR and [Corporation for Public Broadcasting]-funded stations." Since public radio stations are often omitted from ratings services reports - since they're not selling spot advertising, they don't need to be counted - the key metric which SoundExchange proposes for determining a flat-fee base rate for smaller stations doesn't actually exist for public stations - which constitute a huge chunk of these smaller stations.

So although SoundExchange didn't exactly make up a figure, it used some fairly suspect math which NPR says the CRB judges simply went along with. NPR's survey estimated each member station may have an average of 218 simultaneous connections at any given time. NPR alleges SoundExchange took 218, multiplied it by 24 hours in a day, times 365 days in a year, and divided by 12 (for some reason) to arrive at the 159,140 minimum aggregate tuning hours (ATH) we reported on in our original story. Providers that stream that number of hours or less to all its listeners per month would pay only the $500 minimum monthly fee.

But 79% of stations surveyed said they have no way to determine their ATH with the tools they have on-hand presently. So they'd have no way of proving whether their actual listening hours were below the 159,140 "threshold."

Furthermore, though, NPR says the proposed royalty schedule overlooks the obvious fact: Public radio stations don't play popular music, at least not continually. Many stations play news for entire hours, while some at night play symphonies - not songs - which can consume an entire hour.

While NPR's filing objects to how the proposed rates would specifically impact NPR and not the rest of the industry, its allegations point to the possibility that SoundExchange used a very fragile mathematical framework, at best, to substantiate its proposed royalty schedule. If that framework is legally discredited, for whatever reason, the streaming industry at large would have reason to celebrate.

For its part, representatives of SoundExchange reportedly defended their proposed royalty scheme last Wednesday, during testimony before the House Telecommunications Subcommittee. Transcripts of those hearings are just now being made available, and BetaNews will provide updates soon.

By Scott M. Fulton, III, BetaNews

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Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis in Concert Broadcast on XM

Jazz at Lincoln Center and XM Radio announced, that "Willie Sings the Blues, " a concert performed by the legendary singer-songwriter-musician Willie Nelson and the incomparable Wynton Marsalis Quintet in January 2007 will be broadcast exclusively on XM Friday, April 6th at 7p.m. ET in celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month. The concert will be broadcast simultaneously on XM's traditional country channel, "Willie's Place" (XM 13), and XM's traditional jazz channel, "Real Jazz" (XM 70), with additional encores airing throughout the weekend.

Recorded live on January 12th in The Allen Room inside Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center and XM's New York studios, "Willie Sings the Blues, " features Nelson with his harmonica player, Mickey Raphael and Marsalis' quintet: Dan Nimmer (piano), Carlos Henriquez (bass), Ali Jackson, (drums), and Walter Blanding (saxophone).

Both Nelson and Marsalis each have long associations with XM Satellite Radio – Nelson is the namesake and creative director of "Willie's Place" and Marsalis is host of the popular XM music series, "In the Swing Seat with Wynton Marsalis, " which airs weekly on XM's "Real Jazz."

In 2005 XM and Jazz at Lincoln Center announced a multi-year agreement for XM to be the exclusive satellite radio partner of Jazz at Lincoln Center, and to make Frederick P. Rose Hall the new home of XM's New York broadcast studios.

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Dave Koz Presents Online 'Webisodes' About "At The Movies"

Saxophonist Dave Koz is producing a series of ongoing online documentaries, or "webisodes," about his hit album At The Movies. Webisode number five is now available on his website, and focuses on Koz interviewing the widow and daughter of the late composer Henry Mancini.

Mancini composed "Moon River," the theme to Breakfast At Tiffany's, which Koz recorded for At The Movies with guest vocalist Barry Manilow. He also recorded Mancini's Pink Panther theme for the album.

In order to view the new webisode, fans must sign up for the Join The Koz fan club through his website. Previous webisodes, featuring Koz interacting with Anita Baker, Vanessa Williams, and more, are viewable by members and non-members alike.

At The Movies has spawned a hit with Koz's cover of "It Might Be You" from the Dustin Hoffman comedy Tootsie. An instrumental version has gone to smooth jazz; another version features Grammy winner India.Arie.

India Arie told us about covering the track, plus about working with producer Phil Ramone on her own new album: "I also did a duet with Dave Koz where I did that song from that movie, was it Tootsie? (Sings) 'Something's telling me it might be you...'Is that Tootsie? I forgot. Yes, I did that with Dave Koz, produced by Phil Ramone. Phil Ramone's favorite song on my album is 'Good Morning."

Other guests on the album include Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis, Anita Baker, Vanessa Williams, Chris Botti, and Donna Summer. The set was produced by Phil Ramone.

The Dave Koz & Friends At The Movies summer tour kicks off in June. For dates, visit

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Kurt Elling | "Nightmoves"

Kurt Elling is the preeminent male jazz singer today. In a professional career spanning just over ten years, thirty-eight year old Elling has risen to international prominence as a jazz artist and singer. Each of his six albums for Blue Note records have been nominated for a GRAMMY award. His quartet has toured the world, performing to critical acclaim in Europe, Japan, Canada, Israel, and Australia, and at jazz festivals across the U.S. He has topped the Down Beat Critics and Jazz Times Readers' polls every year since 2000. He has won the Jazz Journalists' Association award for best male vocalist three times and earned the Prix Billie Holiday from the Academie du Jazz in Paris. Nightmoves is his first album for Concord Jazz and the level of artistry on it is nothing short of astonishing. We are indeed fortunate to have Kurt as a member of our artist family.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Smooth Jazz Chart | Week Ended 3/19/07

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 - Peter White - "Playin' Favorites" - (Columbia)
3 - 3 - Boney James - "Shine" - (Concord)
8 - 4 - Paul Brown - "White Sand" - (Peak)
5 - 5 - Chuck Loeb - "Presence" - (Heads Up)
9 - 6 - Walter Beasley "Ready For Love" - (Heads Up)
7 - 7 - Wayman Tisdale - "Way Up" - (Rendezvous)
4 - 8 - Mindi Abair - "Life Less Ordinary" - (GRP)
6 - 9 - Eric Darius - "Just Getting Started" - (Narada Jazz)
10 - 10 - George Benson & Al Jarreau - "Givin' It Up" - (Concord)

Find these top-ten and more at

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

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