Monday, September 26, 2011

Acoustic Alchemy - "Roseland" Release tomorrow on Heads Up #jazz

The UK-based group Acoustic Alchemy are set to release their new album, Roseland, on September 27th. “We’re very excited about this recording,” says Acoustic Alchemy co-founder Greg Carmichael. “It represents an entirely new chapter for the band. By establishing a new label, we’re taking more control of our own direction, and by partnering with Heads Up and their resources, we can reach the broadest possible audience worldwide.” Carmichael and co-founder Miles Gilderdale are joined by keyboardist Fred White, bassists Gary Grainger and Julian Crampton, and drummer Greg Grainger. Other assistance in the sessions comes from Hammond organist Ricky Peterson (Bonnie Raitt, David Sanborn, Joe Sample), pedal steel player Frank Mizen, drummers Dan Mizen and Sam Hobbs and a full complement of horn players. Roseland was was recorded in Gilderdale’s newly constructed home studio in York, England. “We used the studio as a place to write,” says Carmichael. “We would just throw ideas at each other.... We just tried things until we found what did work.” The band kicks off a tour of the US in support of the album on October 5th, in Minneapolis.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Upcoming New Jazz Releases - September 27, 2011 #jazz

Abbi Huebner - I Found My Thrill (Membran )
Abbi Huebner - Anniversary Jazz Party (Membran )
Acoustic Alchemy - Roseland (Telarc Distribution )
Aleh - Aleh/Samba (P-Vine Japan/Zoom )
Art Blakey & Jazz Messengers - Ritual ( )
Bill Frisell - All We Are Saying (Savoy )
Bill Pott's Big Band - Jazz Soul Of Porgy & Bess ( )
Bobby Hackett / Jack Teagarden - Coast Concert ( )
Booker Little & Young Men From Memphis - Down Home Reunion ( )
Bud Shank - Bun Shank ( )
Cannonball Adderley - Cannonball Adderley Live ( )
Cannonball Adderley - 74 Miles Away ( )
Charlie Mariano - Beauties Of 1918 ( )
Chick Corea - Division (Ecm )
Christian McBride - Good Feeling (Mack Avenue )
Count Basie - Chairman Of The Board ( )
Curtis Amy / Dupree Bolton - Katanga ( )
Dead Cat Bounce - Chance Episodes (Cuneiform )
Dorothy Donegan - September Song ( )
Duke Ellington - Ellington 55 ( )
Ernesto Cervini - There (Anzic )
George Shearing / Nancy Wilson - Swingin's Mutual ( )
Gerald Wilson - Portraits ( )
Harry Connick Jr. - Music From The Happy Elf ( )
Herb Geller - Fire In West ( )
Herbie Mann - Herbie Mann's African Suite ( )
Jackie McLean - New Tradition Presenting ( )
Jaco Pastorius - 60th Anniversary Collection ( )
Jacqui Naylor - Lucky Girl (Ruby Star )
Jazz Crusaders - Jazz Crusaders At Lighthouse ( )
Jazz Crusaders - Stretchin Out ( )
Jimmy McGriff - Worm ( )
John Coltrane / Ray Draper - Tuba Jazz ( )
John Scofield - Moment's Peace (Emarcy )
Johnny Lytle - Done It Again (Get On Down )
June Christy / Stan Kenton - Duet ( )
Keiko Matsui - Bob James & Keiko Matsui (Entertainment on Disc )
Kenny Dorham / Jackie McLean - Inta Somethin ( )
Langston Hughes - Harlem In Vogue The Poetry & Jazz Of Langston Hugh ( )
Lars Haake - In the Picture (LSR)
Latin Jazz Quintet - Latin Jazz Quintet ( )
Laurindo Almeida - Guitar From Ipanema (Toshiba EMI (Japan) )
Machito - Machito With Flute To Boot ( )
Mario Adnet - Jobim Jazz (P-Vine Japan/Zoom )
Maynard Ferguson - Message From Birdland (Blue Note Records )
Mike Cuozzo - Mike Cuozzo With Costa Burke Trio ( )
Miles Davis - Last Years ( )
Miles Davis - Miles In Antibes ( )
Miles Espanol - Miles Espanol (Entertainment on Disc )
Milt Jackson - Bags Opus ( )
Paul Smith - Cascades ( )
Peter Banjo Meyer - 40 Years On Stage (Membran )
Peter Meyer - Jazz Celebration ( )
Phil Parnell - Blue (P-Vine Japan/Zoom )
Phil Parnell - Ambient Jazz Electronic Romance And R (P-Vine Japan/Zoom )
Phineas Newborn Jr. - Piano Portraits By Phineas Newborn ( )
Phineas Newborn Jr. - I Love A Piano ( )
Poncho Sanchez - Poncho Sanchez And Terence Blanchard = Chano & Dizzy! (Concord Jazz )
Randy Scott - 90 Degrees At Midnight (Trippin 'N' Rhythm )
Randy Weston - Destry Rides Again (Fresh Sound )
Ray Bryant - Ray Bryant Plays ( )
Ray Bryant - Ray Bryant: Live At Basin Street East ( )
Ray Bryant Trio / Thielemans, Toots - Soul Of Toots Thielemans ( )
Return To Forever - Romantic Warrior (Phantom )
Return To Forever - Live The Complete Concert ( )
Rob Mostert - Engelwood Cliffs Sessions ( )
Roy Haynes - Roy-Alty (Dreyfus )
Rudresh Mahanthappa - Samdhi (Act Music + Vision )
Sal Salvador - Music To Stop Smoking By ( )
Serge Chaloff - Blue Serge ( )
Shin Joonghyun - Beautiful Rivers And Mountains: The Psychedelic Rock Sound Of South Korea's Shin Joong Hyun 1958-1974 (Light In The Attic )
Sonny Criss - Jazz U.S.A. ( )
Sonny Criss - Sonny Criss Plays Cole Porter ( )
Sonny Stitt - Broadway Soul ( )
Sonny Stitt - Stitt Goes Latin ( )
Sophie Milman - In The Moonlight (Entertainment One Music )
Stan Kenton - New Concepts Of Artistry In Rhythm ( )
Stanley Jordan - Friends (Mack Avenue )
Steven Bernstein - Mto Plays Sly (Royal Potato Family )
Swing Combination - Swing Combination The 40s & 50s: Whisper Not (Music Alliance )
Teddy Edwards - Sunset Eyes ( )
VI Velasco - Cantando Bossa Nova ( )
Wes Montgomery - Montgomeryland ( )
Wes Montgomery - Movin': The Complete Verve Studio Recordings (Hip-o Select )
Zoot Sims - Stretching Out ( )

Andrews Sisters - Best of Anthology (Master Classic Series)
Django Reinhardt - Djangology (Musicarama)
Miles Davis - Tutu (Warner Music )
Return to Forever - Musicmagic (SME)
Shelly Manne - My Fair Lady (JVC XRCD )

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, September 21, 2011

Tony Bennett "Duets II" In Stores Now #jazz

Columbia Records released Tony Bennett’s 17-track collaborative album, Duets II, on September 20. The collection follows his 2006 million-selling, double Grammy-winning “Duets: An American Classic.” Artists featured on his new album include Mariah Carey, Faith Hill, Willie Nelson, Michael Buble, Norah Jones and the late Amy Winehouse, among others. Amy’s duet with Bennett on “Body and Soul” is the album’s lead single. Proceeds from its sales will go to a foundation Winehouse’s father created in her name. The foundation offers programs to keep young people off drugs.

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Bob James & Keiko Matsui Resurrect 4 Hands Piano Concept with "Altair & Vega", Available Sept 27! #jazz

A prolific composer, Grammy-winner and founding member of the contemporary jazz supergroup Fourplay, pianist Bob James explores the classically influenced side of his immense musicality on Altair & Vega. A duet project recorded with fellow piano virtuoso Keiko Matsui, it's a modern take on the four-hands piano tradition established in the 18th and 19th centuries by the likes of such classical composers as Haydn, Brahms and Schubert.

Named for a Japanese folkloric tale about the seventh day of the seventh month (July 7th - an annual celebration known as Tanabata), Altair and Vega are two stars in the galaxy that pass by each other only once a year. "So this kind of rare meeting of these two fictional characters seemed to be a good title because it also described my eventual hookup with Keiko on this project," says James.
"Originally this story came from China," adds Matsui. "Later it was combined with Japanese tradition. We write one's wish and prayer on origami (Japanese traditional color paper) and hang it from bambondero grass. We decorate bamboo with origami under the sky for an evening.For us, July 7th is a special day with romantic feeling."
The genesis of this four-hands piano project came 12 years ago when James wrote a piece he titled "Altair & Vega" that he envisioned playing with Matsui. "I didn't really know Keiko at that time," he recalls. "I had only met her once backstage at the Hollywood Bowl but I just thought I would send her this piece of music to see if she might be interested in playing it. I always found it a fun challenge to have two people both sitting at the same piano, working out the choreography and how their hands would go back and forth."
The two ultimately got together in the studio when Matsui was on tour in the States and they recorded Altair & Vega as a four-hands piece, which was released in 2001 on James' Dancing on the Water (Warner Bros.). Matsui responded by writing a piece for James called "Ever After," which had appeared on her album Whisper from the Mirror. Shortly after, James and Matsui embarked on a tour together of nine Japanese cities, performing four-hands piano adaptations of their original compositions. "And we had a great time doing it," recalls James. "The audiences loved it, but for a variety of contractual reasons and other problems, we never really got to complete an actual CD project of that music."


 Last year, the two performed a four-hands duet in Pittsburgh at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild (MCG), which was documented on video. Two days before that, they had performed a concert in James' hometown, Traverse City, Michigan, and later documented the music in James' home studio. A CD/DVD package of those four-hands piano performances is now available on the eOne label.
"Most of the music on this project crosses borders," says James. "There are some elements of classical music along with elements of Keiko's and my different influences. So it is partially written and partially improvised."
On Matsui's Frozen Lake, a piece she wrote at the session after taking a walk on Long Lake by James' home studio, James performs on an Avant Grand digital piano, which gives him a kind of Fender Rhodes effect. His Divertimento: The Professor & The Student is a variation on a piece by Haydn that was originally written for piano duet. "He was using it as a method for teaching so he could sit down at the piano and play with students," James explains. "So he would play a phrase and the student would echo it or answer it. And I used that as a jumping off place for me and Keiko. So I play the role of the professor and she plays the part of the student, and those actually became our nicknames during the course of our working together on this project."
Matsui's Midnight Stone and Invisible Wing are previously recorded pieces given a new four-hands treatment here while the lengthy 13-minute suite, The Forever Variations, is a four-hands take on Matsui's popular theme Forever Forever. "That is, for the most part, written," says James. "Although the kind of jazz or funk stuff that happens in the middle is improvised. So there are a couple of places where we take off."
They also turn in an enchanting arrangement of J.S. Bach's Chorale from Cantata BWV 147 which the two had played together on tour in Japan. As Matsui explains, "In 2002, I did a Christmas show in Tokyo and I invited Bob as guest. And he brought this beautiful four-hands arrangement of the Bach piece as Christmas present for me. We performed it for first time at that show. I love this arrangement. So beautiful and cool!"
Adds Matsui, "Bob's arrangements are very unique. Sometimes it's like classical music with lots of written parts and sometimes we have lots of freedom to improvise. So mentally and technically, our mind and body are working hard to nail both worlds."
Regarding the challenges of the four-hands technique, James says, "It's not for everybody because a lot of pianists don't want to give up that control. There's only one sustain pedal, for example. So whoever does the sustain pedal has a lot of power over phrasing and smooth transitions. I think most of us pianists very often use the pedal as a kind of crutch to smooth our way through technical passages that we're either having trouble with or whatever. And if you happen to be the pianist who doesn't have control over the sustain pedal, you better make sure that your technique is really accurate.
"The other thing is, once we get in the middle of the keyboard, fingering becomes very important," he continues. "Because if some of your fingers are sticking out there and getting in the way of your partner, you make it impossible for them to play. So you have to make sure that you avoid those clashes. And you do that by giving up control and becoming a team. So you have to agree about the way you pass the ball back and forth melodically so that the two really become one person on one piano."
James says that Matsui was an ideal partner on this four-hands project. "Keiko was a dream to work with. There was no way for either one of us to know how we would get along that way, but she is very methodical in the way that she approaches the piano and accurate. So I developed a lot of confidence that I know where and when she's going to arrive on a note, and I try to be the same way with her. In fact, we always challenged each other for the end of every performance, one or the other of us would be depressed because we made the most mistakes. And when you have somebody else that you know is going to be really, really accurate, it motivates you to keep trying to get it better and better so that you don't be the one that brings it down."

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - September 19, 2011 #jazz

LW - TW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Cindy Bradley - "Unscripted" - (Trippin 'n Rhythm)
2 - 2 - Paul Hardcastle - "Hardcastle VI" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
4 - 3 - Nils - "What The Funk?" - (Baja/TSR)
5 - 4 - Jackiem Joyner - "Jackiem Joyner" - (Artistry/Mack Ave)
15 - 5 - Jessy J - "Hot Sauce" - (Heads Up)
3 - 6 - Boney James - "Contact" - (Verve)
6 - 7 - Nick Colionne - "Feel The Heat" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
7 - 8 - Oli Silk - "All We Need" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythym)
11 - 9 - Jonathan Fritzen - "Friday Night"[single] - (Woodward Avenue)
18 - 10 - Chuck Loeb - "Plain 'n' Simple"
8 - 11 - Down To The Bone - "The Main Ingredients" - (Trippin 'n Rhythm)
12 - 12 - Nate Harasim - "Rush" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
10 - 13 - Jonathan Butler - "So Strong" - (Rendezvous/Mack)
16 - 14 - Euge Groove - "S7ven Large" - (Shanachie)
9 - 15 - Bob Baldwin - " 2/Revibe (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
17 - 16 - Andy Snitzer - "Traveler" - (Native Language)
13 - 17 - Dave Koz - "Hello Tomorrow" - (Concord)
14 - 18 - Michael Franks - "Time Together" (Shanachie)
21 - 19 - Brian Hughes - "Fast Train To A Quiet Place" - (Sylvan House)
19 - 20 - Paul Taylor - "Prime Time" - (Peak)

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Visit to view the latest weekly chart recap.
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jessy J's "Hot Sauce" debuts at #1 this week on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart! #jazz

“Saxophonist Jessy J has been a bright light on the smooth jazz scene since releasing her debut album three years ago. Her latest effort, Hot Sauce, taps into her Latin influences on such tracks as ‘Meant To Be.’”

Voice of America

“In four short years, contemporary/smooth jazz tenor saxophonist Jessica Spinella (Jessy J) has made quite a splash. Hot Sauce, her Heads Up International debut – and fourth album overall – was produced by Paul Brown, and includes guest appearances from heavyweights Joe Sample, drummer Harvey Mason, guitarist Ray Parker Jr., and vocalist Saunders Sermons. Spinella wrote or co-wrote eight of the album’s ten compositions…The bottom line on Hot Sauce is that it’s a more mature and realized record than what she’s done before and takes some chances – even when they don't pay off. It’s tightly arranged, well produced, and beautifully played.”

All Music

“Mexican-American saxophonist Jessy J is turning things up with her latest album Hot Sauce where she mixes Jazz, Latin beats and original vocals. Hot Sauce drops Tuesday September 6, 2011 and is the performer’s third album. Nonetheless, the musician has been showcasing her new material as the opening act on Cristian Castro’s tours.”

Fox News Latino

“Hot Sauce. Could any music project be more appropriately named? Young, beautiful, personable, and mega-talented saxophonist Jessy J is not only running true to form on her latest release, but she’s gone to another plateau with this one.

Smooth Jazz Ride

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Marsalis and Clapton Play The Bues - Live From Jazz at Lincoln Center #jazz [Video]

Reprise Records Presents Highlights From The Duo’s Unprecedented, Sold-Out Jazz at Lincoln Center Performances; Also Features Special Guest Appearance By Taj Mahal Available September 13 On CD And CD/DVD
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New York City’s premier jazz venue got the blues last April when Wynton Marsalis and Eric Clapton performed together in Rose Theater at Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center for two sold-out shows dedicated to vintage blues. The extraordinary collaboration, billed as Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton Play the Blues, paired these musical virtuosos with members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra as they brought to life a repertoire of songs selected by Clapton and arranged by Marsalis.

Reprise Records captures the magic of these unprecedented shows from earlier this year on CD and as a CD/DVD combo that both feature selections taken from the two public concerts (April 8-9), as well a special performance for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s annual gala (April 7). WYNTON MARSALIS & ERIC CLAPTON PLAY THE BLUES - LIVE FROM JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER will be available September 13 at physical and digital retail outlets for suggested list prices of $18.98 (CD), $24.98 (CD/DVD) and $9.99 (digital; audio only). The DVD will also feature a bonus performance of the classic "Stagger Lee" from legendary bluesman Taj Mahal's opening solo set for these special shows.

Marsalis, Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center and nine-time Grammy® Award winner, writes about his collaboration with Clapton, a 19-time Grammy recipient, in the album’s liner notes: “...we wanted these concerts to sound like people playing music they know and love, not like a project.”

To help them achieve that level of devotion, Marsalis and Clapton were joined on stage by Dan Nimmer (piano), Carlos Henriquez (bass), Ali Jackson (drums), Marcus Printup (trumpet), Victor Goines (clarinet), Chris Crenshaw (trombone, vocals), Don Vappie (banjo) and Clapton’s longtime keyboardist/sideman Chris Stainton. Marsalis says the group combined the sound of an early blues jump-band with the sound of New Orleans jazz to accommodate the integration of guitar/trumpet lead, a combination that gave the musicians the latitude to play different grooves, from the Delta to the Caribbean and beyond.

The band nimbly navigated a diverse set list that touched on different styles, from the four-on-the-floor swing of Louis Armstrong’s “Ice Cream” and the southern slow-drag of W.C. Handy’s “Joe Turner’s Blues” to the traveling blues of “Joliet Bound” and the boogie-woogie jump of “Kidman Blues.” After opening the shows with his solo set, Mahal returned to join the band on “Corrine, Corrina” and the New Orleans funeral standard “Just A Closer Walk With Thee.”

The one song not selected by Clapton for the show was his own “Layla,” which was requested by bassist Henriquez and arranged as a Crescent City dirge to tremendous results. On his review of the performance, David Fricke of Rolling Stone wrote: “In the [song’s] instrumental break, Clapton hit a series of stabbing licks lightly crusted with distortion, followed by Marsalis’ slow parade of clean hurting peals – a moving dialogue in lovesickness and blues routes.”

CD and DVD Track Listing
1. “Ice Cream” (Louis Armstrong)
2. “Forty-Four” (Howlin’ Wolf)
3. “Joe Turner’s Blues” (W.C. Handy)
4. “The Last Time” (Louis Armstrong)
5. “Careless Love” (Bessie Smith)
6. “Kidman Blues” (“Big Maceo” Merriweather)
7. “Layla” (Eric Clapton)
8. “Joliet Bound” (“Kansas Joe” McCoy/”Memphis Minnie” McCoy)
9. “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” (ft. Taj Mahal) [Traditional]
10. “Corrine, Corrina” (ft. Taj Mahal) [Bo Chatmon/Mitchell Parish]

Bonus Track on DVD-only: "Stagger Lee" by Taj Mahal

Wynton Marsalis - Trumpet
Eric Clapton - Guitar, Vocals
Dan Nimmer - Piano
Carlos Henriquez - Bass
Ali Jackson - Drums
Marcus Printup - Trumpet
Victor Goines - Clarinet
Chris Crenshaw - Trombone, Vocals
Don Vappie - Banjo
Chris Stainton – Keyboards

Produced by Eric Clapton, Wynton Marsalis and Ashley Schiff Ramos

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - September 12, 2011 #jazz

LW - TW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Cindy Bradley - "Unscripted" - (Trippin 'n Rhythm)
2 - 2 - Paul Hardcastle - "Hardcastle VI" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
3 - 3 - Boney James - "Contact" - (Verve)
5 - 4 - Nils - "What The Funk?" - (Baja/TSR)
4 - 5 - Jackiem Joyner - "Jackiem Joyner" - (Artistry/Mack Ave)
6 - 6 - Nick Colionne - "Feel The Heat" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
13 - 7 - Oli Silk - "All We Need" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythym)
10 - 8 - Down To The Bone - "The Main Ingredients" - (Trippin 'n Rhythm)
12 - 9 - Bob Baldwin - " 2/Revibe (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
9 - 10 - Jonathan Butler - "So Strong" - (Rendezvous/Mack)
7 - 11 - Jonathan Fritzen - "Friday Night"[single] - (Woodward Avenue)
16 - 12 - Nate Harasim - "Rush" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
17 - 13 - Dave Koz - "Hello Tomorrow" - (Concord)
14 - 14 - Michael Franks - "Time Together" (Shanachie)
26 - 15 - Jessy J - "Hot Sauce" - (Heads Up)
15 - 16 - Euge Groove - "S7ven Large" - (Shanachie)
8 - 17 - Andy Snitzer - "Traveler" - (Native Language)
23 - 18 - Chuck Loeb - "Plain 'n' Simple"
11 - 19 - Matt Marshak - "Urban Folktales" - (
19 - 20 - Paul Taylor - "Prime Time" - (Peak)

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Rahe - "Out of the Box" #jazz

Originally hailing from Spain, Tucson-based singer-songwriter/guitarist Rahe (pronounced "Ray") has rapidly established herself as one of the most noteworthy young talents to emerge in recent years. While not yet a household name, Rahe may quickly change that following the release of her debut, Out of the Box, a musical outing of exceptional creativity matched with heartfelt accessibility.

Clocking in at a relatively modest 32 minutes of music, spread out over eight tracks, Out of the Box nevertheless manages to traverse an enormous gamut of styles, including slow burning R&B, flamenco, easygoing acoustic pop, and jazz-infused bossa nova. For many artists, this might represent a troubling situation, in which genre-hopping is driven merely by novelty over artistic merit. However, Rahe rises to the challenge by demonstrating a striking proficiency and easy comfort with the many styles in which she engages her self-assured songwriting. Indeed, under her guidance, jumping from the edgy rocksteady of "Two Steps Back" to the luxurious, Astrud Gilberto-styled lines of "Pensando" not only feels natural, it feels absolutely essential.

Of course, credit must also be given to the efforts of Rahe's remarkable collaborators, from Eric Hines' quirky marimba work to Brian Hicks' thick baritone saxophone. One of the album's aural joys lies in the band's expectation-defying instrumentation choices, including the deployment of a bass clarinet in favor of a bass, and the building of a mid-tempo pop number up toward a surprising marimba solo. These are all relatively subtle points, to be sure, but they speak to an attention to detail and love of the craft that pervades the entire album.

Ultimately, Out of the Box serves as a testament to the marvelous music that can be achieved in any genre, when a visionary artist is joined by likeminded collaborators in a free and creative environment. Rahe has made a truly exceptional statement with her debut release, one that rewards with endlessly fascinating intricacies and musical subtleties over repeated listens.

Track Listing: Be Down; Alma v Corazon; Rescue; Say Something; Two Steps Back; Pensando; Pretend; Danca.

Personnel: Rahe: vocals, guitar; Adam Ackerman: drums (3-6, 8); Brian Hicks: bass clarinet (5, 8), baritone saxophone (5); Eric Hines: marimba, percussion (1, 2, 4, 6, 8); Nadar Nihal Singh Khalsa: alto saxophone (4, 6, 8); Aaron Gilmartin: flamenco guitar (1, 2, 5, 8); Kelland Thomas: baritone saxophone (8): Kyle Wilson: piano (3).

Review by Seton Hawkins

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John Stein - "Hi Fly" - Release on Whaling City Sound 9/13/11 #jazz

From on high, the guitarist presents a kaleidoscopic view of musical sounds

You begin to get some sense of what you’re in for on John Stein’s vibrant new CD without even putting it into the player. Take a peek first at the back cover. There is the guitarist, in a partially illustrated photograph, an intent look on his face, only this time a graphic treatment shades his guitar and fret hand with bright stripes of color. I’d say this was a symbol and a pretty obvious one at that.

In musical terms, Stein has taken what has already been considered a wide spectrum of sound, and brightened it. His palette now includes the prismatic hues of jazz itself.

So, why all the new colors? Well, for one, Stein is truly coming into his own as a player. He and his band, including bassist John Lockwood and drummer Zé Eduardo Nazario are, after a handful of recordings together, fully in step. And now, the band has welcomed young keyboard player Jake Sherman, an inventive and creative spirit, fresh from Berklee, who adds his own keystrokes to these arrangements. Sherman’s presence infuses the band’s arrangements with energy and dimension.

Another reason the recording feels more colorful is that Stein, as a player, has pushed himself out of his comfort zone. As his colleagues nudge him forward, fleshing out these arrangements into something unexpectedly lovely, Stein propels himself to lead the way, to stay in front. His innovative soloing and tasteful, rhythmic chords hold up well against the band’s immense efforts. It is the sign of a leader who is up to the task of fronting an accomplished band. “The main thing,” says Stein in the liner notes to the album, “is the collaborative spirit in this record … The guys contributed a lot of musical ideas … Their instrumental virtuosity was challenging and I really stretched to keep up.”

“Hi Fly,” Stein’s third recording with Lockwood and Nazario, is a true achievement, with many bright moments. “Sea Smoke” showcases Nazario’s swing, “Plum Stone” is tailor-made for Sherman’s Hammond organ, and Lockwood steps up and out on “Love Letters” and on “Threesome.” Throughout the recording, beautifully captured by engineer Peter Kontrimas, the musicians seize on great opportunities to soar, and in doing so, display an intense, kaleidoscopic view of a talented and exciting band.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Ramsey Lewis - "Ramsey, Taking Another Look" - On Hidden Beach 9/20 #jazz [Video]

Ramsey Lewis. the three time Grammy® winner who rose to prominence in the early 1970’s will release his 80th collection on September 20, 2011 entitled Ramsey, Taking Another Look., On the ten song CD Lewis and his Electric Band breathe new life into many of Lewis’ favorite tunes including a new rendition of the Stevie Wonder penned “Living for the City” and a new edit of the original “Sun Goddess” recording featuring Earth, Wind & Fire.

Watch the video "Living For The City" at JazzHQ on Facebook and become a fan while you're there!

We are thrilled to have forged this partnership with such a legendary Jazz icon as Ramsey Lewis and his Mapenzi Recording family. From his contemporary Jazz explorations in the seventies all the way to the Orchestral pieces currently featured on PBS, Ramsey Lewis remains as relevant today as ever. We are excited to be bringing this music to market.” Stated Steve McKeever, Hidden Beach CEO

"I am glad to join Steve McKeever, a fellow Chicagoan, and the Hidden Beach family to release Ramsey, Taking Another Look. Hidden Beach is known for it's commitment to excellence in music and respect for artistry, a unique position in today's music landscape." Stated Ramsey Lewis.

“Living for the City” will be accompanied by a music video created at Chicago’s Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy, with Film & Broadcast and Recording Arts students taking the lead on production. Featuring an energetic performance by Ramsey Lewis and his Electric Band, the clip celebrates the visual vibrancy of Chicago at night time.

A noted advocate for Steinway pianos, Ramsey, Taking Another Look represents Lewis’ first return to playing the Fender Rhodes piano in Fifteen years.

Ramsey Lewis on Ramsey, Taking Another Look
"The idea of the electric quintet came up and having played mostly in an acoustic trio arrangement for twelve-fifteen years, I decided to get together with the guys to see how it felt. The rehearsals went so well that I called in my engineer, Danny Leake and my producer/son, Frayne Lewis to come in and roll tape. I've recorded maybe 65-70 albums, and this album is definitely among the top five."

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Lalah Hathaway - "Where It All Begins" on Stax October 18 - #jazz

Lalah Hathaway, one of contemporary R&B's most prized artists and in-demand vocalists will release her sixth solo album and second for Stax Records, Where It All Begins on October 18th, 2011. The versatile, critically acclaimed musician, songwriter, vocalist and producer found creative regeneration and newfound energy making this record, an artistic re-birth she's eager to share with anyone willing to listen. "Everybody is an artist in some way," Hathaway enthuses, "I wanted to explore what that really means. For me it meant walking into being the artist I've always wanted to be. It was an opportunity for me to embrace my independence as an artist through my music and connection to my fans."

Hathaway brings that message home splendidly on the gorgeous title track, penned by her and Ernest Green. "If you say what you mean/And mean what you say," she croons at the beginning of "Where It All Begins", showcasing her sensual alto over a languid, hypnotic groove. The emotionally mature ballad finds her deftly articulating the meaning of being true to oneself, despite flashy trends and easy cash-ins. Her searching yet serene voice evoke a perceptive confidence that comes with being open to new experiences as well as comfortable in one's skin.

In addition to Green, Hathaway recruited other esteemed kindred spirits to either co-write or contribute tailor-made tunes. The list includes Lewis Williams, Lee Hutson, Jr., Errol Cooney, James Day, James Fauntleroy, Rahsaan Patterson, Terrence Lilly, Jonathan Richmond, Mike City, Dave Young, Bryan Sledge, Eddie Serrano, Rich King, Andre Harris and Vidal Davis. Recruiting such top-tier songwriters - some of whom have penned hits for Alicia Keys, Jill Scott, Bilal, Babyface,Musiq Soulchild, and host of others, demonstrates Hathaway's long-held status in contemporary R&B. "I went on Twitter and Facebook and said, ‘I'm looking to collaborate with writers and get songs from people,'" explaining how she chose her collaborators. "I really wanted to open myself up to the people. I don't have a bias of who gets to work with me. I really love a great song and a great lyric."

Where It All Begins comes on the heels of Hathaway's most successful album to date, 2008's Self Portrait, her first record forlegendary soul label Stax Records. The album reached the top ten on the TopR&B Albums chart and included the Grammy® nominated (Best Female R&B Vocal) song "That Was Then." When it comes to evaluating what makes a timeless song worthy of Hathaway's extraordinary vocals and interpretive gifts, she relies on the basics: melody, harmony and rhythm. "There are a lot of songs that just have one or two of those elements and still last forever," Hathaway says, "But it's also about the story that you're telling and the tone of the voice. Tone is king."

Indeed, Hathaway intoxicates as a storyteller. Even though her voice brims with magnetism, she never overpowers it to point of drowning out the lyrics. As with previous albums, Where It All Begins comesloaded with enduring songs that sound personal yet easily relatable, touching upon affairs of the heart as well as the everyday joys of life.

The disc comes on strong from the get-go. Andre Harris and Vidal Davis' gutsy "Strong Woman," is a sassy cautionary tale, urging lotharios to step up to the plate and stop taking their devoted female lovers for granted. "When I heard it, I heard it for everyone," Hathaway says, "I heard it for my mother; I heard it for my piano teacher; I heard it for my aunt Anne; I heard it for my best girlfriends. It's just one of those great, bouncy songs with a lot of attitude, which is a place that people don't always see me in."

Hathaway makes other startling moves on the lush "Lie to Me," a song written by Harris, Davis, Serrano and King, reminiscent of Bonnie Raitt's torch ballad, "I Can't Make You Love Me." "It's a true power ballad, outside the range most people expect from me," Hathaway says, "It has me singing outside of my range, so people can really hear the urgency."

Fauntleroy and Hutson's stripped-down "Wrong Way," with its strong emphasis on voice, piano, drums, guitar and bass, finds Hathaway excelling at singing unabashed adult pop with bracing conviction. Then there's the gentle lullaby, "Dreamland," co-written with Day and Cooney, on which Hathaway displays her motherly instincts as she tucks a young one to bed accompanied by evocative guitars and a caressing melody. "Part of the reason for choosing some of these songs was to challenge the perception of me as an artist," Hathaway explains.

Naturally, the singer hasn't completely abandoned her R&B roots. Where It All Begins includes luxurious slow jams such as "This Could Be Love" (co-written with Green and Lewis), on which she sings of joys and fears of truly falling in love with that someone special, and City's bittersweet "Always Love You," which hints of the sadness leaving an unfulfilling romantic relationship.

This album contains several up-tempo gems that are sure to heat up urban radio stations and nightclubs. For example, check out "If You Want To," the album's thumping, synth-driven first single, penned with Patterson, Richmond, and Lilly and the effervescent "My Everything," which she co-wrote with Jonathan Richmond. The slinky groove of Hutson, Jr.'s "Small of My Back" is also undeniable.

Hard-core fans will certainly be delighted with the newly arranged and recorded "I'm Coming Back," a Quiet-Storm jewel, written by Gary Taylor, which appeared on her 1990 eponymous debut. It's a song that's remained a highlight of her live shows for two decades. "No matter, where I go - churches, festivals, Japan, South Africa - people love that song," Hathaway says, "This version has a different arrangement, because it's morphed over the years. I decided to rerecord it. We added vocalist Rachelle Ferrell at the end, which is really sublime."

Interesting enough, Hathaway's sensational rendition of "I'm Coming Back" is so definitive that many people don't realize that it was a cover when she first recorded it for her debut LP. Powerhouse R&B singer, Vesta Williams, originally recorded the song. "Part of my career has been built on honoring those who came before me, retelling those stories, and really trying to create new standards out of those songs," Hathaway says.

When it comes to honoring her predecessors, perhaps there's no other greater example on Where It All Begins than with her spellbinding take on "You Were Meant For Me," a chestnut that her late father - the incomparable Donny Hathaway recorded.

Hathaway was only ten when her legendary father died in January 1979. Yet through his landmark albums and indisputable influence on generations of singers worldwide, she speaks of him as a guiding light, especially when it comes to interpreting other people's music. "I really listened to my dad's own songs," Hathaway says fondly, " ‘Jealous Guy' by John Lennon - I always thought my father owned that," she laughs, "I just grew up with the approach of opening yourself up to create something beautiful, that's a love letter to what came before."

On Where It All Begins, Lalah Hathaway unquestionably succeeds at opening herself up in new and profound ways, striving for artistic higher ground and ‘creating something beautiful.' "I feel like I'm at the top of my game, like I'm at the beginning again," she says, excitedly. "There aren't many artists, particularly female singers, who after 20 years, are kind of still on the come up. I feel like I'm on the come up."

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Have Yourself A Very Bublé Christmas - October 24th - #jazz

Michael Bublé has a special holiday gift for his naughty and nice fans this year. On October 24th, the multi Grammy Award winning Canadian will be releasing his new album called CHRISTMAS. PRE-ORDER the limited fan edition which includes: "Christmas" on CD, 3 bonus tracks, plus an exclusive ornament tucked inside extended album packaging. Get more details here.

CHRISTMAS follows the Grammy Award winning artist’s previous album “Crazy Love” which sold over seven million copies worldwide and was certified multi-platinum in the US, UK, Australia and Canada.

Commented Bublé, “Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year for me and my family so naturally it’s been a dream of mine to make the ‘ultimate’ Christmas record. Even though it was summer and 95 degrees in LA we totally got into the spirit of the holiday. Of course we decorated the studio with Christmas lights in the middle of July and that was a big help. One more thing, my mother told me it’s the best record I ever made.”

CHRISTMAS, produced by David Foster, Bob Rock and Humberto Gatica, was recorded primarily at Capitol Recording Studios in Hollywood and The Warehouse Studios in Vancouver. The CD includes guest performances by Shania Twain on ”White Christmas” and The Puppini Sisters on “Jingle Bells.” Bublé also put his unique take on such classics as “Silent Night,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.” In addition, a Bublé original “Cold December Night” will be included on CHRISTMAS.

In conjunction with the release of 'CHRISTMAS,' Bublé will star in an NBC Holiday Special and is also scheduled to appear on 60 Minutes, the NBC Christmas Tree Lighting (November 30th) and Saturday Night Live (December 17th).

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