Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hancock to be feted at revived NYC jazz festival

Jazz legend Herbie Hancock will be feted at a belated 70th birthday bash at Carnegie Hall that will highlight the revival of a major summer jazz festival in the Big Apple.

The pianist, who turns 70 on April 12, will be joined by comedian Bill Cosby, saxophonist Joe Lovano, trumpeter Terence Blanchard, and saxophonist Wayne Shorter, Hancock's bandmate in Miles Davis' famed 1960s quintet, with more guests to be announced. The June 24 concert, "Herbie Hancock, Seven Decades: The Birthday Celebration," will benefit The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

"That will be a very exciting night — perhaps one of the unique nights in the history of the festival with a lot of people coming just to salute Herbie," the festival's producer, George Wein, said Friday.

The concert will be followed by a festival first — an old-time midnight jam session paying tribute to Hancock — at the City Winery nightclub.

After lining up new sponsorship from medical technology company, CareFusion Corp., Wein has resurrected New York's flagship summer jazz festival, which he first launched in 1972. The festival was canceled last year after Japanese electronics firm JVC withdrew its sponsorship.

Wein, who founded the first outdoor jazz festival in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1954, had envisioned retiring when he sold his company, Festival Productions, in 2007. But the new owners ran into financial difficulties, and Wein formed a new company last year to save the Newport and New York festivals.

The CareFusion Jazz Festival will make its debut from June 17 to 26 with some 45 concerts at 20 venues, including concert halls, parks, museums and libraries in four boroughs.

Carnegie Hall will be the site of three other high-profile concerts featuring trumpeter Chris Botti, Brazilian bossa nova maestro Joao Gilberto, and the trio of pianist Keith Jarrett, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette.

There will also be several free outdoor concerts, with Latin jazz star Eddie Palmieri performing in a Bronx park and pianist McCoy Tyner's quartet featuring saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and the Stanley Clarke Band with Japanese pianist Hiromi playing at Central Park's SummerStage.

But otherwise, Wein says that this year's festival will take a new youth-friendly approach highlighting up-and-coming musicians like Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, the quartet Mostly Other People Do the Killing, and the jazz-hip-hop collective Revive da Live, including rapper Talib Kweli.

"We feel the future of jazz relates to the young people that are playing now," said the 84-year-old Wein. "Jazz is not a dying situation — it's more alive than ever because there are more people playing the music than ever before."

To that end, Wein has teamed with a new generation of music presenters at venues in downtown Manhattan, Harlem and Brooklyn. The festival is paying the musicians and letting the clubs collect the gate, asking only that ticket prices be kept at a recession-friendly $15 for most events.

"It's helping the clubs and the musicians," said Wein. "Its our own stimulus program."


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Friday, February 26, 2010

Incognito "Live In London - The 30th Anniversary Concert" Coming to DVD, Blu-ray, and CD on April 20, 2010

Nearly 3 hours of performance and bonus features... Recorded in High Definition!
Inakustik and MVD Visual are proud to announce the DVD, Blu-ray, and CD release of Incognito "Live In London - The 30th Anniversary Concert" on April 20, 2010.
Incognito is far more than just a band. The sound visionary Jean-Paul "Bluey" Maunick has been pioneering in the mercurial acid jazz scene, and as a talent factory, Incognito has rolled out the red carpet for vocal prodigies, such as Jocelyn Brown and the best musicians from the British groove community.

Short-lived musical trends have done nothing to damage the popularity of this multi-cultural band with their driving rhythms and elegant melodies and they have become a trademark all over the world, especially live. In this vein, "Bluey" Maunick celebrated Incognito's 30th birthday on stage at the London INDIGO2 with a thrilling concert in summer 2009.

It was a fantastic night: with their blend of soul and jazz, funk and fusion almost 30 musicians, with several surprise guest appearances, electrified the audience. Thanks to the contagious energy and the virtuoso solo numbers, each song became something special. And as if this band hadn't given us enough variety already, the strings of the Millennia Ensemble provided a delightful additional interplay of sound.

Incognito didn't just celebrate 30 years of first-rate music and continued success with this performance - they also gave their fans an unforgettable gift.

DVD 1:
01 Talkin' Loud
02 Step Aside
03 When The Sun Comes Down
04 Jacob's Ladder
05 Centre Of The Sun
06 Get Into My Groove
07 Labour Of Love
08Ain't No Mountain
09 Always There
10 Colibri
11 N.O.T.
12 This Thing Called Love

DVD 2:
01 Still A Friend Of Mine
02 Can't Get You Out Of My Head
03 Deep Waters
04 Wild And Beautiful
05 Morning Sun
06 Expresso Madureira
07 Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing
08 Reach Out
09 Everyday
10 I Hear Your Name
11 Nights Over Egypt

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The 32nd Annual Playboy Jazz Festival

The line-up for this year’s Playboy Jazz Festival was announced yesterday at the Playboy Mansion, with Hugh Hefner, Bill Cosby, producer Darlene Chan and a full crowd of media in attendance.  Two significant aspects of the 32nd annual event – which takes place June 12 and 13 at the Hollywood Bowl — immediately became apparent.  Both represent good news for Southland jazz fans. The first is the fact that more than half of the artists on the bill are making their Playboy Jazz Festival debuts.

Nine acts – Grammy winning singer Kurt Elling, tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson (performing with Les McCann), the innovative a cappella group Naturally 7, jazz ukulele magician Jake Shimabukuro, Trombone Shorty, African superstar Salif Keita, Irving Mayfield & the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, the Cuban timba band Tiempo Libre and the Jazz Mafia – have never before performed at Playboy.  Two acts –  the Sax for Stax contemporary jazz ensemble (with saxophonists Gerald Albright and Kirk Whalum with keyboardist Jeff Lorber), as well as the veteran duo of vibist Bobby Hutcherson and pianist Cedar Walton – are making their first appearances together at the Festival.

The second significant aspect is the presence of a generous sampling of young, up and coming talent.
Trumpeter Christian Scott, who performs with the versatile bassist/bass clarinetist/producer Marcus Miller, is one of the most highly regarded young trumpeters in the post-Wynton Marsalis generation.

The a capella vocal group Naturally 7 has started with the Take 6 model, and expanded it into a startling array of vocally-produced instrumental-like sounds.  The amazing timbres they create have to be seen and heard to be believed.
Jake Shimabukuro’s playing transforms the seemingly limited four-string ukulele into a brilliantly expressive instrument.  In his hands, it roves freely across jazz, bluegrass, funk, classical and rock.  His performance will be the first by a solo ukulele player at the Festival.

Trombone Shorty – Troy Andrews – is a trombone and trumpet playing son of New Orleans who uses his charismatic stage presence as an essential ingredient in a style that finds expressiveness in every area of the jazz, blues, rock and hip hop spectrum.

Bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding, a hit at last year’s Festival, returns with her constantly engaging mix of propulsive bass playing and soaring vocals.

The genre-defying, Bay area musical collective, The Jazz Mafia, will perform their hip-hop work, Brass, Bows and Beats.
And, as usual, there will be performances from the youngest of up and coming talents, a pair of jazz bands from L.A. educational institutions – the L.A. District High School Jazz Band and the El Dorado High School Band.

That said, the Festival also offers an impressive menu of jazz headliners.  On Saturday’s bill, the stellar Chick Corea Freedom Band includes Roy Haynes, Christian McBride and Kenny GarrettKurt Elling will no doubt include some selections from his Grammy-winning CD tribute to John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman.  The great Cuban band Los Van Van, led by bassist Juan Formell, will surely have the crowd dancing with their rhythmically irresistible Songo music.  And the Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra will offer a tribute to the late, great jazz drummer Louie Bellson.

On Sunday, George Benson makes his sixth Playboy Jazz Festival appearance, mixing his remarkable guitar playing with one of the most uniquely memorable male jazz vocal styles.  The Manhattan Transfer – as good as jazz vocal ensemble singing has ever gotten – will do a program peppered with their numerous memorable hit performances.  The wizardry of pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph, combined with the gospel-driven energy of his Family Band should generate some of the Festival’s legendary dance lines.

And no Playboy Jazz Festival would be complete without the latest installment of Master of Ceremonies Bill Cosby’s “Cos of Good Music,” this year featuring Dwayne Burno, Ndugu Chancler, Mark Gross, Jay Hoggard, D.D. Jackson and Ingrid Jenson.

All in all, an impressive line-up, especially spiced by the presence of the younger players, enhanced by the dynamic enthusiasm of the first-timers, and illuminated by the star power that is always present in this entertaining, non-stop, two day jazz party.
Tickets for the Playboy Jazz Festival are available through Ticketmaster.  Online at Ticketmaster.   By phone at (213) 365-3500 or (714) 740-7878.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hiromi - "Place To Be" Available From Telarc. Her First Solo Piano Recording

Hiromi Chronicles Her World Travels On Her First Solo Piano Recording

If all the world is indeed a stage, pianist-composer Hiromi Uehara has played on just about every corner of it. Since the beginning of the decade, she has supported her impressive body of studio work with an ambitious tour schedule that has electrified audiences throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia and elsewhere with performances that have pushed the limits of piano jazz to new frontiers of compositional and technical skills.

Each stop on her journey – be it the world-class metropolis, the quiet college town or something in between – has introduced her to a new and singular vibe that has left an indelible impression on her creative sensibilities. Indeed, she has come away from every new place with just as much as she has brought to it, and perhaps even more.

Hiromi chronicles just a few of the many places and moments where she has experienced the almost mystical exchange between performer and audience on Place To Be (CD-83695), her new CD on Telarc International, a division of Concord Music Group. The album is her first solo piano recording.

“I really wanted the record to be a kind of travel journal,” she says. “I’ve traveled so much in the last few years that I’ve started to wonder exactly where is the place that I’m supposed to be. Traveling takes so much out of you. It can be exhausting. But as soon as I go on the stage and I see people who are very happy because of what I’m doing, it just erases all of the struggles and the craziness that can come with all the traveling, and it really fulfills me.”

To Hiromi’s way of thinking, music is something much more than just notes on a scale or a series of black and white keys. Rather, it is a naturally occurring phenomenon to be plucked out of the air, a vibration to be captured and re-transmitted to receptive ears and open hearts. “Some places have such a special vibe,” she says. “Sometimes a melody emerges in and around a place without me having to think about it at all. I can just walk down the street and I hear it. I’m always thinking about composing, and always trying to find what parts of the world around me can be musical. Sometimes it just comes to me in a beautiful moment.”

In addition to being a musical travelogue, Place To Be also represents a personal milestone for Hiromi, who recorded the album just days before her thirtieth birthday in March 2009. “I wanted to record the sound of my twenties for archival purposes,” she says. “I felt like the people whom I met on the road during my twenties really helped me develop and mature as a musician and as a person. So in addition to making a record that represented all of these places that have inspired my music, I also wanted it to be a thank-you to those people. I feel very fortunate to have spent this part of my life traveling to all these places and making people happy.

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Upcoming New Jazz Releases - March 2, 2010

Albert Ayler - New Glass (Phantom )
Archie Shepp - Live In San (Phantom )
Art Pepper - Plus Eleven (Disconforme )
Ben Webster & Oscar Peterson - Been Webster Meets Oscar Peterson (Disconforme )
Cannonball Adderley & John Coltrane - Quintet In Chicago (Disconforme )
Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um Remastered (Phantom )
Chico Hamilton - Further Adventures Of (Phantom )
Cliff Adams - Sing Something Simple From The Shows (Pickwick )
Clifford Brown - Live At Music City 1955 (Rare Live )
Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Out (Disconforme )
Dee Dee Bridgewater - Eleanora Fagan 1915-1959: To Billie With Love From Dee Dee (Emarcy )
Dirty Dozen Brass Band - My Feet Cant Fail Me ( )
Django Reinhardt - Vintage 2010 (Disky )
Ella Fitzgerald - Sings The Cole Porter Songbook (Disconforme )
Ella Fitzgerald - Simply Ella (Indie Europe/Zoom )
Gary Mcfarland - Point Of Departure (Phantom )
George Arvanitas - 3 Am / Cocktail For Three ( )
Gerry Mulligan & Ben Webster - Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster (Disconforme )
Gil Evans - Miles Ahead (Ais )
Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here ( )
Gil-Orchestra Evans - Into The Hot (Phantom )
J.J. Johnson - Proof Positive (Phantom )
Jamie Cullum - Pursuit (Universal Uk/Zoom )
Jazz Legends Forever - Jazz Legends Forever: Sing Me A Love Song (Phantom )
Jimmy Mesene - Sweetest Sweetheart Of All (Rex )
John Lewis - Improvised Meditations & Excursions (Disconforme )
Johnny Hodges - Everybody Knows Johnny (Phantom )
Johnny Otis - Greatest Show On Earth (Doxy )
Karel Boehlee Trio - New Album (M&I Japan/Zoom )
Leo Rickard - C Pas Triste (Celtic America LLC )
Louis Armstrong - Golden Greats (Disky )
Miles Davis - Live In Rome & Copenhagen 1969 (Disconforme )
Miles Davis - Golden Greats (Disky )
Miles Davis - 1969 Berlin Concert (Jazz Shots Spain ) - DVD-Video
Myra Melford - Whole Tree Gone (FireHouse )
Oliver Nelson - More Blues & Abstracts (Phantom )
Oscar Peterson - Vocal Styling Of Oscar Peterson (Phantom )
Oscar Peterson - Stuff Smith And Oscar Peterson (Ais )
Oscar Peterson - An Evening With Oscar (Doxy )
Paul Gonsalves - Tell It The Way (Phantom )
Pee Wee- Russell Quartet - Ask Me Now! (Phantom )
Polar Bear - Peepers (Leaf )
Ray Barretto - Senor 007 (Phantom )
Shirley Scott - Queen Of The Organ (Phantom )
Sonny Stitt - Now! (Phantom )
Souljazz Orchestra - Rising Sun ( )
Sun Ra & His Intergalactic Solar Arkestra - Space Is The Place (Sutro Park )
Susan Weinert - Point Of View (Intuition Music )
Terry- Gibbs Quartet - Take It From Me (Phantom )
Toshiko Akiyoshi - Recital (Universal Japan/Zoom )
WINTERPLAY - 2nd Album (Universal Japan/Zoom )

Don Cherry - Hear & Now (Wounded Bird)
Thelonious Monk - Monk's Music (Universal)

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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Monday, February 22, 2010

Larry Carlton Enjoyed Time With Fourplay, Looking Forward To Future

Larry Carlton, who recently left the band Fourplay and was replaced by Chuck Loeb, says he enjoyed his time with the group and is now looking forward to working on the many projects he has planned.

“I will cherish all of the wonderful personal and musical memories, over the past 12 years, which I was fortunate enough to share with Fourplay,” Carlton wrote on his website. “Now with the very accomplished Chuck Loeb in the guitar chair, I very much anticipate more great music from Fourplay in the future. As for me, I’m looking forward to being able to spend more time on the many exciting projects I have in the works, all of which I’m anxious to share with my friends and fans.”

Carlton joined Fourplay in 1998 after original guitarist Lee Ritenour left. In addition to his own record label, 335 Records, he oversees and interactive guitar course called 335 Improv. He continues to tour worldwide, frequently collaborates with guitarist Robben Ford (they have a show April 29 in Boulder, Colo.), and is a group he started called Sapphire Blue Band.

Loeb will make his Fourplay debut April 18 at the Seabreeze Jazz Festival in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Originally posted by Brian Soergel at

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Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - February 22, 2010

LW - TW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Richard Elliot - "Rock Steady" - (Artistry/Mack Avenue)
2 - 2 - Peter White - "Good Day" - (Peak/Concord)
4 - 3 - Euge Groove - "Sunday Morning" - (Shanachie)
7 - 4 - Najee - "Mind Over Matter" - (Heads Up)
3 - 5 - Jackiem Joyner - "Lil' Man Soul - (Artistry/Mack Avenue)
6 - 6 - George Benson - "Songs And Stories" - (Concord)
5 - 7 - Brian Bromberg - "It Is What It Is" - (Artistry/Mack Avenue)
8 - 8 - Sade - "Soldier Of Love" - (Epic)
12 - 9 - Darren Rahn - "Talk Of The Town" - (NuGroove)
11 - 10 - Paul Brown & Marc Antoine - "Foreign Exchange" - (Peak)
9 - 11 - Jeff Golub - "Blues For You" - (E1)
13 - 12 - David Wells - "Skyline" - (Nuance)
16 - 13 - Rick Braun - "All It Takes" - (Artistry)
23 - 14 - David Sanborn - "Only Everything" - (Decca/Universal)
19 - 15 - Brian Culbertson - "Live From The Inside" - (Universal)
10 - 16 - Boney James - "Send One Your Love" - (Concord)
18 - 17 - Chris Standring - "Blue Bolero" - (Ultimate Vibe)
27 - 18 - Maysa - "A Woman In Love" - (Shanachie)
21 - 19 - Marion Meadows - "Secrets" - (Heads Up)
14 - 20 - Paul Taylor - "Burnin'" - (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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Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Soldier of Love"; was a long time coming for reclusive Sade

Sade's jazzy soul songs have often teetered between heartbreak and hope, and the title track of her just-out Soldier of Love album walks that emotional line over a crackling martial groove that returns the British chanteuse to the spotlight for the first time in a decade.

She says fans were always asking when she'd release a successor to 2000's Lovers Rock, which sold nearly 4 million copies, but she was never ready to set aside a block of time to record one.

"Life kind of gets in the way of it, and time always passes quicker than you think," says Sade (aka Sade Adu), 51, by phone from her home in England. "One of the reasons it takes me a long time to get back into the studio is that once I go in, I'm there for the duration.

"It's like embarking on a long journey on a ship, and once I'm on it, I can't get off."

She and bandmates Stuart Matthewman, Paul Denman and Andrew Hale broke through in 1984 with Diamond Life, which earned them the best-new-artist Grammy. A performance at Live Aid exposed the group to a global TV audience of 1.4 billion, and all of Sade's subsequent, less frequent albums —Promise (1985), Stronger Than Pride (1988), Love Deluxe (1992) and Lovers Rock (2000) — went multiplatinum.

The album makes its debut at No. 1 on Billboard's album chart, with first-week sales of 502,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The band began crafting the 10-song Soldier of Love two years ago, and Matthewman and Denman commuted from the USA for a series of two-week sessions at a studio near Sade's home in rural Gloucestershire. The quartet, who have worked together since their pre-fame days as part of the Latin funk band Pride, managed to rediscover their chemistry, even though they had seen little of one another in the past decade.

"It's like a real powerful long-distance relationship," she says. "We really do pick up where we left off in terms of our musical friendship."

Emil Wilbekin, managing editor of, says Sade is a rare artist who can stay away for long periods but still have fans eagerly awaiting her return because she's a genuine artist.

"We're in this age of transition with everything digital and Auto-Tuned, and here she is with this beautiful, soulful, emotional voice," Wilbekin says. "She captures an intimacy that we don't have much in music anymore. She makes you feel like she's sitting with you in your living room and singing."

The new album is at once fresh and familiar. The mesmerizing rhythms and hauntingly sensual vocals that have been Sade's signature since the group's debut seem unaffected by pop music's changing flavors. Sade says the band guards against letting outside influences infiltrate the music just to sell records.

"We've never been a trendy band," she says; the group's five previous albums sold a total of 17 million copies in the USA. "If what we do comes from the heart, I kind of feel that there will be somebody that gets it. It's a privilege for us to be in a position where we can make the music we want to make."

The rollout of the new album means the public is seeing a lot more than usual of the reclusive singer, who wraps up with a stop Saturday on The Wanda Sykes Show. She shuns the limelight and strives to keep her private life private. (She shares a home with partner Ian Watts, her teenage daughter and his teenage son.)

"I suppose people expect singers to be in your face," Sade says. "I do my best to put as much of me inside a song as I can, and I don't want it to go any further. I never hankered for the attention other people might want as affirmation."

By Steve Jones, USA TODAY

- Posted with BlogPress via iPhone
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Friday, February 19, 2010

Jonathan Butler Finishes New CD, ‘So Strong,’ After A Year Of Challenges

Guitarist and vocalist Jonathan Butler has completed a new CD titled So Strong, his first studio smooth jazz project since 2005’s Jonathan. Since that time, he has offered the gospel project Brand New Day and a DVD/CD combo, Live in South Africa. So Strong will be released by Rendezvous Music, a division of Mack Avenue, on May 11.

“Music is spiritual and it heals. It soothes the heart and mind,” says Butler, who has been through a challenging year in which his mother passed away, he lost one of his closest friends, Wayman Tisdale, and he supported his wife in her battle against cancer. “Sometimes it’s better not to tell people what you’re going through (while you’re going through it), but tell them after you’ve come through.”

So Strong features 10 original songs written or co-written by Butler, and a cover of Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now.”

“You can’t keep your head down all the time,” Butler says. “You have to celebrate. With all that’s presently going on in the world, I felt the need to give something to the fans, to offer hope. I had to get to that fun place again. The album is a departure; it’s optimistic and positive. It’s get up-and-dance, and feel good. … It’s all about just letting go. It’s about fun with flavor and a lot of feeling. I call it the three Fs: fun, flavor and feeling.”

Butler, who produced and arranged the album, played most of the instruments, including guitars, bass and keyboards. Guests include trumpeter Rick Braun, saxophonists Dave Koz and Michael Lington, and drummer Gordon Campbell. Butler’s daughters, Randy and Jodie, provide background vocals.

Songs include the title track, “Make Room For Me,” “You’ve Got to Believe in Something,” “Factual,” “Be Here With You” and “Feels So Good.” In addition, “Be Here With You” is a vocal duet between Butler and Angie Stone.

So Strong track list

1. So Strong (Butler/Lykes) - 3:45
2. You Got To Believe In Something (Butler) - 5:01
3. Make Room For Me (Butler) - 3:29
4. Factual (Butler/Lykes) - 4:10
5. Feels So Good (Butler/Lykes) - 3:45
6. Be Here With You (Butler/Lykes) - 4:38
7. Avia/For My Baby (Butler) - 4:25
8. I’m Right Here (Butler/Lykes) - 3:31
9. Color Green (Butler/Lykes) - 3:59
10. Good Times (Butler) - 4:03
11. I Can See Clearly Now (Nash) - 4:55
12. I Pay Respect (Butler) - 5:09

This is an original post by on Friday 2/19/10

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Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck team up for night of guitar bliss at Madison Square Garden

By Jay Lustig/The Star-Ledger
Collaboration has been the dominant theme of the last decade of Eric Clapton’s career. He has recorded albums with B.B. King and J.J. Cale, and presented reunion concerts with his ‘60s power trio Cream and his old Blind Faith bandmate Steve Winwood.

His latest partner, Jeff Beck, is perhaps the most surprising of all. Beck, 65, replaced Clapton, 64, as the Yardbirds’ lead guitarist in 1966, and the two have crossed paths occasionally since then. But their first major undertaking together is the series of joint concerts they are now presenting.

They played together in Japan last year and in London last week, and kicked off a two-night stand at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. Only two more joint shows, in Toronto and Montreal, are currently planned, though both men plan to spend much of this year on the road (Beck has three New Jersey concerts scheduled for June).

Thursday’s show was split into three parts: Beck and Clapton sets, then a set together (with Clapton’s backing band). Lacking a common recording history but sharing a deep affection for classic blues songs, they spent most of their time together trading sharp, compact riffs on material like “Shake Your Moneymaker,” “You Need Love” (the predecessor for Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”), “Outside Woman Blues,” “Little Brown Bird” and “Wee Wee Baby.”

Their fiercest duel came on the encore, the Cream-popularized blues classic “Crossroads.” Deviations from the bluesy norm included a celebratory take on Sly and the Family Stone’s “I Want To Take You Higher” and a cover of “Moon River” — yes, “Moon River” — sensitively crooned by Clapton but chosen, clearly, to spotlight the lyrical side of Beck’s guitar playing.

In his own set, the casually dressed Clapton started with relaxed, acoustic versions of “Driftin’ Blues,” “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out,” “Running On Faith” and “I’ve Got A Rock ‘n’ Roll Heart” before getting to electric crowd-pleasers like “Cocaine” and “I Shot the Sheriff.”

Beck — who still looks every inch the rock star, with his jet-black hair and sleeveless shirt — put his own stamp on material as diverse as the Beatles’ “A Day In the Life” and the Puccini aria “Nessun dorma,” with his guitar carrying the melodies (he doesn’t sing). His virtuosic three-piece band helped him steered many songs toward jazz-fusion territory; an orchestra with more than 20 pieces added rich textures to some numbers.

These two guys have been leading contenders for the title of World’s Greatest Guitarist since the ‘60s, and there is no way a single show could resolve the question of who deserves it more. Beck was a little flashier, but never stooped to pointless showing off. Clapton never looked like he was trying hard, but still played with stunning dexterity. Call this one a draw.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sade’s Comeback Succeeds With Quiet Application of Old-School Approach

How do you make it to No. 1 on the Billboard chart? Sade’s strategy: take a decade off and remain mysterious.

Last week Sade, the Nigerian-born singer whose song “Smooth Operator” has been a radio staple for a quarter-century, released “Soldier of Love” (Epic), her first album in 10 years, and it zoomed past all competition. It reached No. 1 with a remarkable 502,000 sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan, a better debut week than Jay-Z, U2 and Britney Spears had for their latest albums.

“Soldier of Love” has received strong reviews. But the album’s success also points to the consumer power and loyalty of older listeners, who helped make Susan Boyle’s album “I Dreamed a Dream” (Syco Music/Columbia) the second-best selling album of 2009. No. 1 was “Fearless” Taylor Swift (Big Machine).

“It’s easier to reach an older, more traditional consumer by using the old means of promotion,” said Carl Mello, buyer for Newbury Comics, a music and media chain in New England. “You can build awareness with younger people, but fewer of them will actually put their hand in their wallets and pay for it.”

“Soldier of Love,” Sade’s first No. 1 album in 24 years, runs contrary to prevailing sales trends. Her previous album, “Lovers Rock,” sold 370,000 copies in its first week in 2000. Since then overall album sales have dropped by more than 50 percent, and most artists have gotten used to the pattern of gradual sales erosion; Sade’s sales — at least for this first week — have increased significantly.

She is not the only R&B artist to have come back recently from a long absence with a splash, however. Last year Maxwell, gone for eight years, came back at No. 1 with “BLACKsummers’night,” as did Whitney Houston, whose “I Look to You” was her first since 2002.

To promote her new album, Sade said little but sang much. She performed on “Today,” “The View” and “Late Show With David Letterman” but gave very few interviews. That reticence — which goes against every rule in the current pop-marketing playbook — may have worked to her advantage on the radio, said Doc Wynter, vice president of urban programming for Clear Channel Radio.

“The audience was really thirsting to hear more of her music,” he said. “I was particularly surprised when a number of our mainstream stations that play hip-hop and R&B gravitated to the song as well. The beat is timeless, and she’s just got that X factor that makes people curious.”

Also on this week’s chart Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” (Capitol Nashville) falls to No. 2 with 208,000, and Lil Wayne’s “Rebirth” (Cash Money/Universal) drops two spots to No. 4 with 89,000 sales. Several new albums charted high: Jaheim’s “Another Round” (Atlantic) opened at No. 3 with 112,000, Josh Turner’s “Haywire” (Mercury Nashville) is No. 5 with 85,000, and “Tonight” (ForeFront) by the Christian rapper TobyMac is No. 6 with 79,000.

On the singles chart the remake of “We Are the World” opened at No. 2, behind Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok,” which holds at No. 1 for the ninth week in a row.

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Upcoming New Jazz Releases - February 23, 2010

Alex Welsh & His Band - Wild Bill Davidson With Alex Welsh & His Band (Metropolitan Groove Merchants )
Anton Delecca Quartet - Lost City (Metropolitan Groove Merchants )
Bailey's Melbourne Jazz Fest 2001 - Bailey's Melbourne Jazz Fest 2001 (Jazzhead Oz )
Barsh / Beninghove / Kane / Powell / Segal / Sim - Hypnotic (Inn )
Beatle Jazz - Bite Of Apple (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Big Jullien & His Al - Riviera Sound No 1 (Traffic Entertainment Group )
Bill Evans - Jazz Manifesto (Delta (Uk) )
Bob Baldwin - For You (Phantom )
Brian Smith - Rendezvous (Fone )
Bud Shank - By Request:Meets Rhythm Section (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Carey Blyton - Folksong Arrangements (United States Of Dist. (Uk) )
Carey Blyton - Carey Blyton: The Folksong Arrangements (United States of Distribution )
Carey Blyton - Return Of Bulgy Gogo (United States of Distribution )
Carolyn Leonhart & Wayne Escoffery - Tides Of Yesterday (Ryko )
Charlie Byrd - World Of Charlie Bird (Wounded Bird )
Charlie Parker - Bird On 52ND Street (Original Jazz Classics )
Cindy Blackman - Another Lifetime (Four Quarters Entertainment )
Clifford Brown - Emarcy Master Takes (Hip-o Select )
Dan Berglund - Tonbruket (Phantom )
Dave Brubeck - Jazz Manifesto (Delta (Uk) )
David Crowell - Spectrum (Innova )
Denis Solee - Blues In The Night (Green Hill Records/EMI )
Django Reinhardt - Portrait (Membran )
Django Reinhardt - Absolutely Essential 3CD Collection (Universal Distribution )
Domenic Landolf - Wanderlust (Pirouet )
Double Wide - Puppet Mischief (ObliqSound )
Doublewide - Puppet Mischief (ObliqSound )
Duke Ellington - Original Album Series (Phantom )
Duke Ellington - First Annual Tour Of The Pacific Nort (Phantom )
Duke Jordan - Beauty Of Scandinabia (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Eddie Henderson - Dreams Of Gershwin (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Eddie Henderson - Manhattan (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Ella Fitzgerald - Absolutely Essential 3CD Collection (Phantom )
Ella Fitzgerald - Simply Ella Fitzgerald (Simply )
Feeling Groovies - Down Deep (Jazzhead Oz )
Festa - Wide (Jazzhead Oz )
Festival Big Band - Explosive (Traffic Entertainment Group )
Froy Aagre - Cycle Of Silence (Metropolitan Groove Merchants )
Fyer-Barnhart International All Star Jazz Band - Break In The Lakes (Metropolitan Groove Merchants )
Gene Segal - Hypnotic (Innova )
George Benson - Original Album Series (Warner )
George Benson - Love Walked In (Phantom )
Giuseppi Logan Quintet - Giuseppi Logan Quintet (Tompkins Square )
Glenn Miller - Heroes Collection (Phantom )
Googie Rene - From Romesville To Manhattan (Righteous )
Graeme Bell & His Dixieland Jazz Band - 1947 & 1948 (Metropolitan Groove Merchants )
Gran Quintet - Night In Chunisia (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians - Sweet As A Song (Delta (Uk) )
Helge Ensemble Denada Sunde - Finding Nymo (Metropolitan Groove Merchants )
Hilary Kole - You Are There (JVC Japan/Zoom )
Hipstones - Dreamers (Phantom )
Hubert Nuss - Feed The Birds (Pirouet )
Ian Chaplin Quartet - Tjapangati (Phantom )
Jack Jezzro - Rio Nights (Green Hill Records/EMI )
Jamie Oehlers - Assemblers (Jazzhead Oz )
Javabubbaboogaloo - Javabubbaboogaloo (Jazzhead Oz )
Jazz Legends Forever - Jazz Legends Forever: Sing Me A Love Song (Phantom )
Jazzhead 2002 - Jazzhead 2002 (Jazzhead Oz )
Jazzhead 2003 - Jazzhead 2003 (Jazzhead Oz )
Jazzhead 2006 - Jazzhead 2006 (Jazzhead Oz )
Joao Gilberto - Chega De Saudade (Phantom )
Joe Zawinul - Money In The Pocket (Phantom )
John Pizzarelli - Rockin' In Rhythm: A Duke Ellington Tribute (Telarc Distribution )
Jones Jones - We All Feel The Same Way (United One )
Just Jazz - Just Jazz (Phantom )
Kenyon Hopkins - Rooms In New York (Phantom )
Lula Galvao - Bossa Da Minha Terra (Kindred Rhythm )
Manhattan Jazz Quint - Teen Town (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Manhattan Jazz Quint - I Got Rhythm (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Manhattan Jazz Quint - Come Together (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Manhattan Jazz Quint - Blue Bocca Nova (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Manhattan Jazz Quint - Let's Go By A Train (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Manhattan Transfer - Original Album Series (Warner )
Mccoy Tyner - Prelude And Sonata (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Mike LeDonne - Groover (Ryko )
Myra Melford - Whole Tree Gone (FireHouse )
Niels Lan Doky - Spain (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Niels Lan Doky - Cafe Monmartol (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Niels Lan Doky - Memory In Rome (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Niels Pedersen - Friends Forever (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Oehlers / Jamie Sam Keevers - Grace (Phantom )
Patricia Lowe - Smiling Inside (Phantom )
Pete Lockett - One (United States Of Dist./Ka )
Pete Network Of Sparks Feat Bill Bruford Locketts - One (Phantom )
Red Fish Blue - Deep (Jazzhead Oz )
Return Of Bulgy Gogo - Carey Blyton Miniatures (United States Of Dist. (Uk) )
Richard Tee - Real Time (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Ryan Kisor - Kisor (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Ryan Kisor - Kisor 2 (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Ryan Kisor - Side Winder (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Ryan Kisor - Donna Lee (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Ryan Kisor - This Is Ryan (Video Arts Japan/Zoom )
Sherlock Trio, James - James Sherlock Trio (Phantom )
Simply Crooners - Simply Crooners (Simply )
Simply Jazz Legends - Simply Jazz Legends (Simply )
Singers Unlimited - Little Light Music (United States Of Dist. (Uk) )
Snag - Hey Guess What? (Phantom )
Swingle Singers - Swinging The Classics (Universal Uk/Zoom )
Terry Lightfoot - Stardust (United States of Distribution )
Terry Lightfoot & H - Stardust (United States Of Dist./Ka )
Terry Lightfoot & His Band - Stardust (United States Of Dist. (Uk) )
Theak-Tet - Gamla Stan (Jazzhead Oz )
Vince Jones - Moving Through Taboos (Phantom )
Wangaratta Live - Wangaratta Live (Jazzhead Oz )
Wayne Escoffery - Tides Of Yesterday (Savant )

Herbie Hancock - Head Hunters (Columbia/L )

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