Saturday, January 31, 2009

Happy 70th Birthday To Joe Sample!

Brian Soergel's Smooth Jazz Scoop

Happy birthday to pianist and composer Joe Sample, who is celebrating his 70th birthday on .

"I can’t remember any particular birthday that stands out," Sample says. "I know the big one that is coming up will stand out more than any of them. I will be 70. That’s a milestone. I cannot believe it. I do feel wonderful, but it’s like, 70? Are you kidding me?"

He was born Joseph Leslie Sample and raised in the Creole section of Houston, referred to as French Town. In 2002, Sample returned to Houston after residing in Northern California for 10 years.

Before his solo career was ignited, Sample was a longtime member of the Jazz Crusaders, and in 1971 they became known simply as The Crusaders. In 2003, Joe reunited with saxophonist Wilton Felder and drummer Stix Hooper for the first time in 33 years, releasing a new Crusaders album, Rural Renewal.

Meanwhile, Sample's latest project, No Regrets, will be released on March 24. It’s his second CD in a row with vocalist Randy Crawford, following the Grammy-nominated Feeling Good.

Posted by Brian Soergel

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Al Di Meola and World Sinfonia kick off "Spectacular" U.S. Tour

Legendary jazz guitarist Al Di Meola and his new band, World Sinfonia, kicked off their nationwide tour January 9th in Pittsburgh, PA, to a sold-out crowd. Playing songs from 'Live in Milano', the romantic album that perfectly captures the new group's tango-influenced sound, heavily influenced by the late master of that genre, Astor Piazzolla, critics have fallen in love where ever he stops. Here's some of what we've been reading.

"World Sinfonia rolled through exquisite songs laced with gorgeous tango melodies and exotic rhythms, Di Meola's guitar was the focal point for much of the performance. His playing bordered on technical perfection; at times his finesse knew no limits."

"Complex, acoustic, world music that is different in sound but still shows his remarkable virtuosity and speed."
- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

"The world-renowned guitarist and composer is frequently described as a virtuoso, and on a snowy January 10 night, Di Meola and his new international group, World Sinfonia, proved why . . A darker, more urgent feeling emerged from Di Meola's six-string while even his own band members seemed impressed by his skill"

"A guitarist of spectacular abilities, [Di Meola] has an often delicate new release, "Live in Milano"."
- New York Times

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Memphian played with R&B greats

Saxophonist's roots in Manassas High
The evocative, blues-influenced playing of Memphis jazz great Hank Crawford colored the saxophonist's own albums and the work of many others, most notably Ray Charles.

Born and raised in Memphis, Bennie Ross "Hank" Crawford Jr. was a childhood prodigy who first flashed his musical gifts in church.

As a student at Manassas High School, he was a member of the school's band, The Rhythm Bombers. Manassas proved a hothouse atmosphere: Mr. Crawford's classmates included future jazz greats George Coleman, Harold Mabern and Charles Lloyd.

Mr. Crawford died Thursday at his home. He was 74.

Delores Crawford said her brother had been in declining health for the past year, dealing with the long-term effects of a stroke he suffered in 2000.

Although Mr. Crawford made a return to the stage in 2003, he had not performed publicly in several years.

In the late '40s and early '50s, Mr. Crawford was part of the thriving Mid-South dance band scene, serving as a member of outfits led by Ben Branch, Tuff Green, Al Jackson Sr. and Ike Turner, and backing up then-fledgling artists like B.B. King and Bobby "Blue" Bland.

After high school, Mr. Crawford moved to Nashville, where he studied music at Tennessee State University and cut R&B records on the side. It was in Nashville that Mr. Crawford first crossed paths with Ray Charles. He joined Charles' band in 1959 and eventually became its musical director before leaving to form his own sextet in 1963.

Mr. Crawford's recording career was distinguished and adventurous. He cut a series of critically acclaimed albums for Atlantic throughout the '60s, and later explored fusion and funk on the Kudu label in the '70s, before taking a back-to-roots jazz direction in the '80s.

Over the years, Mr. Crawford also remained an in-demand sideman, working with a range of artists including Etta James, Lou Rawls, Jimmy McGriff and Dr. John.

Although he spent much of his adult life based in New York City and touring Europe, Mr. Crawford returned to Memphis in 2000 after his stroke to recuperate with his family. He spent his remaining years splitting time between the Big Apple and his hometown.

Mr. Crawford's death comes just over a week after the passing of his longtime collaborator David "Fathead" Newman. The two horn players were, for many years, the backbone of Charles' band.

Mr. Crawford also leaves a son, Michael Crawford; a daughter, Sherri Crawford; a granddaughter, Tiffany Crawford, and six siblings. Funeral arrangements are pending.

By Bob Mehr
Memphis, Online

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Friday, January 30, 2009

SunFest 2009

SunFest, Florida's largest music, art and waterfront festival, will be held April 29-May 3, along one of the most scenic sections of Flagler Drive in downtown West Palm Beach. National headline entertainment scheduled to perform include 311, James Taylor, David Cook, Classic Albums Live, UB40, G Love & Special Sauce, Spyro Gyra and Jack's Mannequin. Additional entertainment announcements will be made as they are confirmed.

"James Taylor is one of the most sought after performers and we are proud to present him at SunFest along with some of the top national talent we have confirmed," said Paul Jamieson, Executive Director of SunFest. "We know the economy is weighing heavily on people and we are planning for a great festival. I think pretty soon people will be looking for a little fun, and it will be right here in their backyard."

More information from SunFest

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Walter Beasley Free Your Mind (Video)

We live in challenging times. Every day, the headlines warn us of pick one an unsettling economic upheaval, a precarious balance of world power, a life-threatening dose of natures fury, a contentious season of political transition and more. And then there are the personal struggles the emotional upheavals in our individual lives that may not be part of the evening news, but are no less life-changing. After a while, the cumulative effect of these and countless other concerns weighs heavy on the heart and mind.

Free Your Mind set for worldwide release on January 27, 2009

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Paul Simon to Reopen Landmark NYC Theatre

Legendary singer/songwriter Paul Simon will reopen the renowned and newly renovated Beacon Theatre in New York City with two shows on February 13th and 14th. Tickets for both performances are on sale now.

Paul Simon first performed at the Beacon in 1990 alongside Paul McCartney and returned for a critically acclaimed three-night run in December of 2000. Simon also made an appearance at the Theatre in 2003 for Willie Nelson’s nationally televised 70th birthday celebration. Simon’s highly anticipated two-night run to reopen the Theatre will mark his first show at the Beacon in nearly six years.

Interestingly enough, Simon lives just a few blocks from the venue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

The seven month renovation of the historic 2,800-seat venue cost $15 million. The Theatre was built in 1928 and designed in the art deco styling of the day by architect Walter Ahlschlager. Shortly thereafter, Warner Brothers purchased the venue and infused it with Moroccan and Greek influences to create its current eclectic and distinctive architectural character.

The Beacon was designated a New York landmark building by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Committee.

“The Beacon is one of New York’s most beloved and historic venues and we are proud that the restoration has returned it to its original grandeur,” said James L. Dolan, chairman of Madison Square Garden and president and chief executive officer of Cablevision Systems Corporation, in a statement.

For further information on the venue you can visit For more information on Paul Simon you can visit his website,

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Upcoming Jazz Releases | 2/3/09

Al Jarreau - All Fly Home (Flashback )
Ann Hampton Callaway - At Last (Telarc )
Bad Plus - For All I Care (Heads Up )
Benny Golson - New Jazztet (Pid )
Boney James - Send One Your Love (Concord )
Brian Patneaude - Riverview (feat. Mike Moreno, Jesse Chandler & Danny Whelchel) (WEPA Records)
Bruford - Best Of Winterfold (Phantom Sound & Vision )
Chick Corea - Duet: Chick & Hiromi (Concord )
Django Reinhardt - Only The Best (Umgd/Varese Sarabande )
Gil Scott-Heron - Very Best Of (Pid )
Hep Chaps - Swingin' On Nothin' (Raucous Uk )
Jeff "Tain" Watts - WATTS (Dark Key Music) - Book
Marco Benevento - Me Not Me (Megaforce )
Marco Benevento - Me Not Me (Royal Potato Family Records)
Mike Clark - Blueprints Of Jazz (Talking House )
Mike Clark - Blueprints Of Jazz Vol. 1 (Talking House )
Prima - Louis Louis & Louis (Phantom Sound & Vision )
Ran Blake - Driftwoods (Tompkins Square )
Wild Bill Davison - As Long As I Live (Phantom Sound & Vision )

Chick Corea - Duet (Phantom Sound & Vision )
Marty Paich - I Get A Boot Out Of You (Rhino )
Shakatak - Ultimate Collection (Universal Records (Netherlands) )

Our thanks to:New release information provided by
The Upcoming Release Center at is the most comprehensive new release listing for jazz music on the internet.
The information is updated biweekly by John Kelman

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kenny G Returning To U.K. For First Time In 12 Years

Brian Soergel's Smooth Jazz Scoop

Kenny G Returning To U.K. For First Time In 12 Years
We all know that saxophonist Kenny G is just as popular overseas as he is in the U.S., as evidenced by his more than 75 million albums sold worldwide. Although he has frequently toured Asia in the past few years, Kenny has not been to the United Kingdom in 12 years. That ends in April, as he has announced four shows there, including one in Scotland and three in England, including at London’s Albert Hall.

The tour is called An Evening with Kenny G. Kenny’s latest CD, Rhythm & Romance, features the former No. 1 smooth jazz single “Sax-O-Loco,” as well as the current “Tango.”

Posted by Brian Soergel

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Smooth Jazz Chart | 1/26/09

LW - TW - Artist - Album - (Label)
2 - 1 - Euge Groove - "Born 2 Groove" - (Narada/BlueNote)
1 - 2 - Tim Bowman - "Tim Bowman" - (Trippin 'n' Rhythm)
4 - 3 - Michael Lington - "Heat" - (NuGroove)
3 - 4 - Warren Hill - "La Dolce Vita" - (Koch)
5 - 5 - Fourplay - "Energy - (Heads Up)
10 - 6 - Boney James - "Send One Your Love" - (Concord)
6 - 7 - Dave Koz - "Greatest Hits" - (Capitol)
11 - 8 - Chris Standring - "Love & Paragraphs" - (Ultimate Vibe)
7 - 9 - Wayman Tisdale - "Rebound" - (Rendezvous)
8 - 10 - Paul Hardcastle - "Hardcastle V" -(Trippin 'n' Rhythm)
9 - 11 - Oli Silk - "The Limit's The Sky" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
13 - 12 - Jeff Lorber - "Heard That" - (Peak)
14 - 13 - Kim Waters - "I Want You" - (Shanachie)
12 - 14 - Eric Darius - "Goin' All Out" - Blue Note)
16 - 15 - Mindi Abair - "Stars" - (Peak)
15 - 16 - Jesse Cook - "Frontiers" - (Koch)
17 - 17 - Nick Colionne - "No Limits" - (Koch)
20 - 18 - Vibes Alive - "After Hours" - (Swingding)
21 - 19 - Wayne Brady - "A Long Time Coming" - (Peak)
19 - 20 - Gerald Albright - "Sax For Stax" - (Peak)

Our thanks to smoothjazz.comVisit to view the latest complete top 50 chart.
Visit to view the latest weekly chart recap.

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4th Annual Jazz in the Gardens

Jazz is back! Frankie Beverly & Maze, Anthony Hamilton, Kenny G., Common, Erykah Badu and Babyface will headline the City of Miami Gardens' 4th Annual Jazz in the Gardens Hosted by Tom Joyner. Joining the headliners on stage are artists, Will Downing, Roy Ayers, Angelique Kidjo and Jonathan Butler. In just four years Jazz in the Gardens has become one of the hottest events and most anticipated music and jazz festivals in South Florida. Over 25, 000 people are expected to attend this year's festival and groove to the diverse mix of music genres that range from Jazz, R&B and Soul sounds.

Entering just its fourth year, "Jazz in the Gardens" has already become one of the premier festivals in the country. With attendance doubling each year Jazz in the Gardens has become the place to be whether you come for the music, the weather, the diverse array of foods, or the celebrity ridden ambiance. Over 30, 000 people are expected to attend this two-day eclectic music event. Tickets go on sale January 30th and with this line-up won't last long.

The celebrity line-up includes world-renowned artists Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Kenny G., Kenny 'Babyface' Edmonds, Anthony Hamilton, Erykah Badu, Common, Will Downing, Roy Ayers, Jonathan Butler, Angelique Kidjo, and more.

Jazz In The Gardens

WHEN: Saturday, March 28th and Sunday, March 29, 200 4:00pm – Midnight
WHERE: Dolphin Stadium
2269 Northwest Dan Marino Boulevard
Miami Gardens, FL 33056

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Susan Tedeschi: Back To The Blues

With three Grammy nominations and tours with the likes of The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, it's little wonder that Susan Tedeschi has built herself a reputation as one of the country's best contemporary blues musicians. Tedeschi's voice conjures images of Bonnie Raitt and Janis Joplin, while her guitar is reminiscent of Buddy Guy's. It combines for a gutsy, soulful take on the blues.

After several exploratory releases since her breakthrough, Tedeschi returns to her signature sound with Back to the River. It's soulful and retrospective, but in a satisfied, hopeful, even fiery way. In a session with host David Dye, Tedeschi performs material from her new album.

NPR World Cafe
Listen to the interview with Susan Tedeschi at NPR

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Jaared - Piccadilly Circus (Video)

Recorded at Smooth Jazz Week at the Pizza Express Jazz Club. Featuring Oli Silk (Keyboards, Vocals), Greg Grainger (Drums, Vocals), Matt Park (Guitar) and Frank Felix (Bass).

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Obama's Secret Record Collection

Inside the White House Record Library
When Barack Obama moved into the White House on January 20th, he gained access to five chefs, a private bowling alley — and a killer collection of classic LPs. Stored in the basement of the executive mansion is the official White House Record Library: several hundred LPs that include landmark albums in rock (Led Zeppelin IV, the Rolling Stones' Let It Bleed), punk (the Ramones' Rocket to Russia, the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols), cult classics (Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, the Flying Burrito Brothers' The Gilded Palace of Sin) and disco. Not to mention records by Santana, Neil Young, Talking Heads, Isaac Hayes, Elton John, the Cars and Barry Manilow.

During the waning days of the Nixon administration, the RIAA, the record companies' trade group, decided the library should include sound recordings as well as books. In 1973, the organization donated close to 2,000 LPs. The bad news: The selection was dominated by the likes of Pat Boone, the Carpenters and John Denver. In 1979, legendary producer John Hammond convened a new commission to update the list for the hipper Carter administration. "They felt they needed to redress some of the oversights that might have taken place the first time around," says Boston music critic and author Bob Blumenthal, who was put in charge of adding 200 rock records to the library.

At the commission's first meeting, Blumenthal brought up Randy Newman's thorny dissection of Southern culture, Good Old Boys, to determine what restrictions the panel might face. "That was exhibit A," Blumenthal says. "And I was told, 'Oh, the president loves that album! Go ahead!' " So Blumenthal and his advisers — including Paul Nelson, then Rolling Stone's reviews editor — compiled a list to reflect "diversity in what was going on in popular music." They picked the Kinks' Arthur for its "theme of empire," and Blumenthal snuck in favorites like David Bowie's Hunky Dory.

On January 13th, 1981, the LPs — each in a sleeve with a presidential seal — were presented to Jimmy Carter at a White House ceremony. But the collection — placed in a hallway near the third-floor listening room, complete with a sound system — didn't remain upstairs long. When Ronald Reagan took office that year, the LPs were moved to the basement. Depending on the source, the reason was Nancy Reagan's distaste for shelves of vinyl, or the edgy choices themselves. A spokesman for Obama said it was too early to comment on whether the president would revive the library. But Obama may be pleased to learn that at least a few of his favorite albums — Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run — are there if he wants them on pristine slabs of vinyl.

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