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Friday, May 25, 2012

Lisa McClowry - "Sings Acoustic Alchemy" - Release on Big Deal Records 6/5/12 #jazz

The highly anticipated follow-up to her 2010 breakthrough album Time Signatures, Lisa McClowry Sings Acoustic Alchemy is more than simply a collection of fresh vocal interpretations of ten of the popular British based guitar duo’s most beloved songs. For the multi-talented, Chicago based powerhouse singer and AA’s Greg Carmichael and Miles Gilderdale, it’s a celebration of an exciting new collaboration that will include 2012 tour dates throughout the U.S. with McClowry and the duo as special guests.

Longtime fans of Acoustic Alchemy, who have been a major force in contemporary instrumental music since the late 80s, will no doubt dig into the duo’s rich 25 year catalog to identify the original tracks these new vocal songs are based on. Lisa McClowry Sings Acoustic Alchemy is also an opportunity for them and many other sophisticated music fans to discover one of today’s most versatile artists. The singer, whose four octave range and stylistic excursions into jazz, R&B, pop, blues and even country have endeared her to thousands of fans from her hometown to clubs and festivals throughout the U.S., received a nomination for International Vocalist of the Year from the WAVE Awards, formerly known as the Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards. In addition to receiving significant airplay on many terrestrial contemporary jazz stations and internet radio formats, her song “When It Comes From The Heart” (a bonus track on Time Signatures) was featured in the documentary “When It Comes From The Heart – The Journey of a Song,” which premiered at the Naperville (Illinois) Independent Film Festival.

While Carmichael and Gilderdale appear on every track of Lisa McClowry Sings Acoustic Alchemy, the project also marks another inspiring collaboration between the singer and her longtime co-writer and producer Jim Peterik.  A longtime fan of the guitar duo, Peterik is the driving force behind the CD and produced and wrote the uplifting lyrics to each song.  “I hope you can hear that joy we both feel at the unique privilege of collaborating with AA on this album,” he says. “Working with Lisa over the last 7 years has been a life- changing experience. Just when I thought my biggest musical thrills were behind me, she came along and changed the game. Her beautiful spirit and divine voice opened up music in me  I never knew I had inside.”

Peterik is the legendary Grammy and Oscar winning singer/songwriter (“Eye Of The Tiger”) and renowned in pop history for his founding roles with the super rock groups The Ides of March and Survivor.  Peterik also produced McClowry’s Time Signatures and his own critically acclaimed all-star Jim Peterik Lifeforce CDs, most recently Forces At Play (2011).

The spark that evolved into this extraordinary musical journey came at a show McClowry opened for Acoustic Alchemy at the Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Peterik, who had only heard AA perform live once before, hung out backstage with their manager, Stewart Coxhead. After the show, he joined Coxhead, Carmichael and Gilderdale for a chat. Peterik told them he had always dreamed of putting lyrics to the early Acoustic Alchemy song “Overnight Sleeper” (from 1988’s Natural Elements)—and they urged him to have a “go at it.” He actually didn’t recall the title but “sang” the melody to them. Rising to the challenge of restructuring the instrumental into a pop format, Peterik wrote the high spirited “Sleepless Night” about emerging from a time of restless nights and embracing love again.

Acoustic Alchemy loved the recording featuring McClowry’s vocals and what began as a potential single track on the singer’s next album quickly blossomed into a full-fledged project. Peterik recorded a skeletal version of each song at his Chicago studio with keyboards, bass and drums. He then sent the tracks to Carmichael and Gilderdale, who overlaid their guitar parts at their studio near London. McClowry worked her interpretive vocal magic after Peterik had completed the instrumental tracks.

“The funny thing is that Jim wrote about ‘Someone else’s sleepless night’ but had forgotten that the original title of the song had the word ‘sleeper’ in it,” says Lisa. “That song came out perfectly and as the concept for a whole album started taking shape, I started listening more deeply to Acoustic Alchemy’s music and soon became as big a fan as Jim is! I was blown away by the sensitivity and sophistication of their playing. I was more than happy to start putting my heart into this concept. Jim started writing and I loved every lyric he came up with. My voice felt like a natural fit for these melodies and his words were wonderful and inspiring.

“All the songs have such a positive energy both musically and lyrically,” she says. “But that’s always been a hallmark of the way we collaborate, seeing the hopeful side of life, the light at the end of the tunnel. I love the range I get to explore vocally in these melodies and add a lot more vocal coloring than I was able to on my previous album. I also have a background in dance and think these songs lend themselves to a lot of great movement and choreography when I perform them live.”

Lisa McClowry Sings Acoustic Alchemy gets off to an energetic start with the funky pop-gospel flavored drive time jam “Got To Share This Feeling,” adapted from “Aart Attack.” McClowry’s infectious enthusiasm continues on the bluesy gospel vocal rocker “Knocking At The Door,” which features lively horns, a playful keyboard solo and a choir backing the singer’s fiery lead vocals. McClowry’s soulful and jazzy vocals over the dancing guitar melody of “Beautiful Mess” (from “No Messin’”) convey a quirky reflection of life and the ability of us all to make it through complicated situations. Taking her cue from a Frank Sinatra song with a similar title, the singer infuses the snappy “Best Is Yet To Come” (from “Ariane”) with a lighthearted reminder about darkness preceding the dawn and the possibility of new beginnings. Continuing on that theme, the tropical, samba flavored “Celebration Day” (from “Playing For Time”) finds McClowry toasting the happy times ahead after putting the bad days behind her.
The rousing “Brand New Hallelujah” is an explosive gospel-influenced rocker that was adapted from the instrumental song “Passionelle:” it is also the album’s first video. This track is  followed by “Teach You Tonight,”  the easy pop-rocker “Sleepless Night,” the soul ballad “Come Inside” (from “Love Is All There Is”) and “Love Me Back Home,” a song driven by a swirl of pop, blues and country influences.

Perfectly in line with the joyous vibe of the project, Lisa McClowry’s emergence into national prominence follows years of being a whirlwind force of musical nature since the mid-90s in her native Chicago.   Well known for her regular stellar performances at the hot spots in town, she’s honed a unique style that is incorporated in many of the elements she brings to Lisa McClowry Sings Acoustic Alchemy: pop, blues, funk, jazz and rock. A self admitted “bit of a chameleon,” her voice can also be heard on national TV commercials for Applebee’s (“Eating Good in the Neighborhood”) and TRESemme shampoos and conditioners (“TREsemme, ooh la la!”).

In the late 90s, while McClowry was initially pursuing her recording dreams, she expanded her scope to include songs for animated films. Working on her debut indie CD Spyglass Hill at Mutato Muzika, the Sunset Blvd. studio of Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo fame, she was invited by the veteran singer to record and co-write a song for his latest movie soundtrack, “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.” That song “Though the Eyes of a Child,” was also included on her solo album. McClowry then worked with Mothersbaugh on the soundtrack to “Rugrats in Paris: The Movie,” for which she provided the voice of the Princess.

Just as she was about to release Time Signatures in 2010, McClowry returned to her acting roots, co-starring in a narrative short film that included a four-minute dance sequence/music video at Joseph’s CafĂ© in Hollywood in a segment titled “Vampire’s Dance” for the new “Twisted Tales” series by horror legend Tom Holland (Child’s Play, Fright Night). The video, “Born Twice,” can be viewed at

“The best part of making music is always the people you are working with,” McClowry says. “While Jim continues to play an instrumental role in my growth as an artist, this time it was so exciting to work with Greg and Miles from Acoustic Alchemy, whose music has inspired a project that was both a great challenge for me as a vocalist and a true joy to record. I loved the way their music lent itself to me showing greater range and exploring exciting new things. The process of making the album was great fun from start to finish, and between recording over their wonderful guitar work and all he email exchanges, we developed a true artistic synergy which I’m looking forward to developing as we perform together this year.”

Check out Lisa on Facebook

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gerald Albright-Norman Brown - "24/7" Release on Concord #Jazz 6/19

As listeners, we like to enjoy music 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So it’s a good thing that contemporary jazz greats Gerald Albright and Norman Brown have been working overtime to produce 24/7, their first album together. This June 19, 2012 release on Concord Jazz, a division of Concord Music Group, offers ten killer soul-jazz tracks of music that never sleeps.

Ever since the debut of Norman Brown’s critically acclaimed 2002 album, Just Chillin’ – which won a GRAMMY® in the prestigious Best Pop Instrumental Category – this innovative and original guitarist has been front and center in the fast evolving fusion of pop, R&B and jazz that has captured the imagination of true music aficionados across the country and around the world.

On 24/7, Brown teams up with saxophone master Gerald Albright, whose high-profile recordings have established the Los Angeles-based musician as one of the most prominent artists and a true “musicians' musician.” Whether he is playing contemporary or straight-ahead jazz, Albright stands in a class all by himself. His 2010 release, Pushing The Envelope, received a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Pop Instrumental Album.

“The title is reflective of the commitment that both of us have made in terms of our instruments,” Albright says. “Even when we sleep we’re thinking about melodies, recordings, concerts and whatever we’re going to do next. 24/7 also speaks to the camaraderie between us. I first met Norman back in the ’80s, when we would play together at a club in Redlands, CA. Other musicians would stop by, but I was always impressed with Norman’s playing. It was a lot of fun – but a challenge as well. We went our separate ways, but here we are now.”
Brown adds, “When we were recording the project, we didn’t have a lot of time – so we were working on it 24/7!”

24/7 spotlights Brown on lead and rhythm guitars, alongside Albright on alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, flutes, bass guitar, electric wind instrument, percussion, programming and background vocals. The band for most of the recording alternates between keyboardist Tracy Carter, rhythm guitarist Rick Watford and drummer Jay Williams; and keyboardist Herman Jackson, bassist Byron Miller, drummer Charles Streeter and percussionist Ramon Ysalas.

The album opens with “In The Moment,” a pop instrumental gem that gives Albright’s horns and Brown’s guitar lots of breathing room. “This was one of the last tunes I wrote for the project,” Albright says. “I felt we needed something uptempo and funky. Later on, we decided it should go first. The tune was very spontaneous – it came to me ‘In the Moment.’”

Herman Jackson’s “Keep It Moving” sets the mood to kick back and enjoy the ride. “Herman and I have worked together for years,” says Brown. “He’s my production partner and has worked with me on all of my albums. When we were in the studio cutting tunes, Herman played me this track, and I felt it really fit the mood of the whole record.”

“Perfect Love,” another showcase for Brown’s trademark fluid playing and clean articulation, spotlights the guitarist’s daughter, Rochella, and godson, DeMille Cole-Heard, on lead vocals. “I just love the concept of love,” Brown says. “My music is always centered on some aspect of love, and that’s been a recurring theme in all of my compositions. The lyrics were written by Dr. Farid Zarif, a natural doctor who I’ve worked with on my diet and fitness, but he’s also a musician who’s worked with Stevie Wonder.”

On “Buenos Amigos,” Albright draws creative inspiration from American jazz percussionist Willie Bobo (1934-1983), one of the many legendary musicians with whom he has worked. “I’m really into Latin music,” Albright says. “There was a big time period when I played with Willie. He really schooled me on how to play Latin, and I wanted to reflect on those experiences. The title refers to my friendship with Norman.”

It was Brown’s idea to update “Tomorrow,” a mellow Brothers Johnson classic from 1976. “I like to give the audience something familiar, but with a twist,” says Brown. “I thought this track was perfect for Gerald and me. It fits the project completely.”

Brown’s “Yes, I Can” features an irresistible groove and a positive vibe. “I always like to find something energetic, funky and groovy,” he says. “This track started with the groove and came together quickly. The tag at the end just spoke to me” ‘Yes, I can,’ ‘Yes, I can.’”

Albright’s daughter, Selina, contributes her vocal skills to the well-polished and soulful title track (and later to “Champagne Life”). “Norman and I collectively decided on the title,” Albright says. “We went through several choices. Mark Wexler [Senior Vice President and Label Manager for Concord’s Jazz and Classics Group] encouraged us to pull out all the stops and employ the talents of our daughters. Selina actually wrote the lyrics. In my opinion, this is a classic Gerald Albright mid-tempo tune. I was even able to play bass and dig in with some orchestration.”

It was Albright’s decision to include “Champagne Life,” from singer Ne-Yo’s album Libra Scale. “When I first heard Ne-Yo’s version,” he says. “I thought, ‘this feels good,’ and this would also work as a nice tune for our summer concert dates! First and foremost, I love the tune. This was the first song I brought to Norman when we started the project.”

Brown co-wrote “The Best Is Yet To Come” with Jeanette Harris. “Jeanette is a young saxophonist,’ he says. “And I was producing her album. I wrote several tracks with her, and this was one of them. Later, I decided to use it on our record. There’s a throwback feel to it that reminds me of music from the days of CTI Records.”

24/7 closes with Albright’s laid back “Power Of Your Smile.” “A thick, orchestral ballad was the one thing that we didn’t have on the album,” Albright says. “I also wanted it to have a melody that people could sing – with a nice balance between the guitar and the saxophone. After all, there’s a camaraderie between Norman and me – we’ve been friends for three decades.”

“I’ve been a big fan of Gerald Albright since back in the day,” says Brown. “He’s one of the world’s premier saxophonists, and it’s an honor to work with such a great talent. That’s what makes this project so special.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Kenny G & Rahul Sharma - "Namaste" - Release June 26 from Concord #jazz

When the elements of melody and harmony are carefully balanced, the convergence of one world with another results in a beautiful sound. Namaste (radio edit) Sound Cloud Namaste is a collaborative album crafted by Rahul Sharma – a native of India’s Kashmir region and a third-generation master of the exotic, 100-string santoor – and saxophonist Kenny G, a multiple Grammy-winning titan on the contemporary jazz landscape for more than two decades. This unusual and daring project captures the best of these two musicians – with a chill ambiance set up by mixer/producer extraordinaire Kid Tricky, (along with Walter A. and Soul Seekerz) – is set for release on June 26th, 2012 by Concord Records.

The evolution of Namaste is a fascinating story of two artists transcending cultural boundaries, beginning when Sharma, who first learnt the santoor from his father the legendary santoor maestro Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, approached saxophonist Kenny G during the latter musician’s performance in Mumbai a few years ago. Sharma, who has developed a substantial domestic and international following since the late 1990s via more than 50 studio recordings and extensive touring, introduced himself to Kenny by presenting him with a few of his CDs during his visit. Some informal discussions ensued, and an idea quickly took shape to collaborate on a studio recording by emailing music files back and forth from opposite ends of the globe and two very diverse musical perspectives.

The result was Namaste India, released in India in 2011, a collection of seven tracks that were deeply rooted in the traditions of Indian folk and classical music, but were also finely embellished with saxophone solos and accompaniments of an unmistakably Western orientation. As musical and cultural marriages go, it was a thing of beauty.

“It was an experiment to see how the santoor and the saxophone would work together,” says Sharma. “I knew Kenny would add so much to the compositions. But when I listened to the final results, I thought, ‘Wow, this is even better than I expected.’ The way he ended many of the tracks with a few simple notes was such a beautiful complement to the entire composition. He would improvise in a way that was so unexpected, and then find a way to fit it back into a melody that wasn’t typical of the kind of music he has recorded in the past.”

Kenny G, for all of his artistic and commercial success over the past two decades as a composer and an improviser, admits that working his way into Sharma’s tracks was no routine task. “It wasn’t the usual formula of playing the melody, improvising, repeating the melody, and then doing an ending,” he says. “It was more a question of ‘Where do I fit in? What notes do I play that will best serve this piece of music?’ But it was fun. It was an opportunity to just experiment with the sounds and notes and phrases. Little by little, over the course of several months, we put together the first few songs, and we realized, ‘Hey, I think we have something going here…’”

John Burk, Executive Vice President of A&R at Concord, was immediately taken with the album’s seductive world beat, but wondered whether there might be a way to enhance the overall set with a chill mix to bring the subtle backbeat slightly more to the forefront without losing the music’s inherent mystical essence.

Enter mixer/producer Marc Burrows, also known as Marc JB of the UK dance music group Bimbo Jones, and operating on this project in the alternate guise of Kid Tricky. Burrows reconfigured the entire album with a shade more rhythmic presence, and isolated a couple songs – namely the title track and the otherworldly “Transcendental Consciousness” – for a full remix. “In some ways,” says Burk, “the album is actually a three-way collaboration – mostly between Kenny and Rahul, but with a little bit of additional production from Kid Tricky.”

The set opens with Kid Tricky’s remix of “Namaste,” a track that walks a fine line between a hypnotic Eastern groove and the melodic solo lines and accents crafted by Kenny’s tasteful sax work. The entire track is underscored by a rhythmic beat that carries the song without being overly obtrusive.

In “Brahma Vishnu Shiva,” Sharma sets up the kind of rich foundation that only 100 strings can provide, but the arrangement allows plenty of room for the saxophone to deliver a well-balanced counterpoint to the santoor.

Further in, “Lotus Lovers” opens with a gentle but persistent combination of drumbeat and shimmering keyboards – a configuration that serves as the backdrop to a pleasant and engaging conversation between Sharma and Kenny. Kid Tricky inserts a slightly offbeat rhythm underneath “Valley of Flowers” that forces the listener to engage with the song even before the saxophone and santoor come in.

“Om Shanti” borrows riffs, vocal chants and other elements from two earlier tracks – “Namaste” and “Brahma Vishnu Shiva” – and weaves them into a hybrid piece that is familiar and yet new at the same time.

The album closes with remixed tracks that don’t appear on the original Namaste India, including a stirring version of “Transcendental Consciousness,” as reimagined by Walter A, and a rendition of the tile track remixed by the Soul Seekerz.

Indian music and contemporary jazz saxophone piped through chill mixes may seem like a gamble, but Namaste comes with a significant payoff. “At first it seemed like an odd combination,” admits Burk. “But then we listened to it and we realized that it was two great masters of their respective instruments getting together and doing something very innovative and even very daring. And it’s going to force people to hear Kenny in a way they may not have heard him before. This record provides a fresh glimpse of his versatility that sometimes gets forgotten in the shadow of such major success.”

But regardless of his own range and versatility, Kenny knows that there’s always more to be learned by taking chances and reaching across cultures. “I think the most important thing to come out of this project is the idea that two musicians from very different backgrounds with two very different instruments can find common ground and really make something innovative and interesting in the process,” he says. “We each just spoke our own languages to each other, and in the process we developed a language of our own. In the end, we figured out how to make something very intriguing and beautiful.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Peter Cincotti - "Metropolis" - Release on Heads Up May 22nd, #jazz

With its hard-driving beats, funky rhythms and stellar pop-centric sensibility, vocalist, pianist and composer Peter Cincotti's fourth album, Metropolis, might be perceived as a sharp left turn from the jazz-focused, boy-crooner sound that established his career a decade ago. But Cincotti sees Metropolis, for which he wrote all 12 songs, as more evolutionary than revolutionary, marking his continuance along a musical path that he started mapping as early as age three.

Cincotti was just 18 when, in 2003, his eponymous debut album for Concord catapulted him to international fame. Endless comparisons were made to the singing and playing style of Harry Connick Jr. (one of Cincotti's early mentors and strongest boosters) and Cincotti was often hailed as the post-millennial answer to Frank Sinatra. Looking back a decade, Peter recalls, "I was surrounded by a lot of people who want you to repeat things-to make the same record over and over again. [Back then] I did have a lot of idols in the Sinatra mold, and still do, but that was always just one room in the house for me. I never wanted to live just in that one room. I might come back to it, but I also wanted to discover the rest of the house-to keep adding and exploring new rooms, rather than sitting on the couch. Even with the first album, my goal was to find a personal approach to the [jazz] genre. Music for me is about creating something, not repeating something."

Actually, Cincotti sees his musical journey not as a straight line, but as a connected series of circles, somewhat comparable to the bases on a baseball field. That first album and his like-minded 2004 Concord follow-up, On the Moon, were doubles that together brought him full circle to home base. Then, with 2007's East of Angel Town (released by Warner Brothers Records in Europe and Asia; then two years later in the U.S.), Cincotti's first album of exclusively original material, which moved away from jazz and into the pop arena, it was the beginning of a second circle (kind of a line drive that got him to first base). That album went gold overseas and yielded Cincotti's last hit single "Goodbye Philadelphia", which reached number #1 on pop radio charts throughout Europe and kept him touring there for the last several years. Now, with Metropolis, he's rounding that same circle toward second. Though, judging from the quality of his craftsmanship as both composer and musician, Metropolis seems destined to be a home run.

For Cincotti, the first step in the two-year arc of Metropolis' creation was finding the right producer. His earlier albums were shaped by industry heavyweights-the first two by Phil Ramone, the third by David Foster. This time around, Cincotti chose the younger but equally dynamic John Fields. "I met with a whole bunch of people," says Cincotti, "but as soon as I met John, we clicked. He's produced such a wide variety of music - everything from The Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus, to Switchfoot and other rock bands, and once I got to know him, I discovered there was this whole other side of him that was heavy into the blues-funk Minneapolis sound, which is where he's from. All those different elements were key to this record, and it was exciting to collaborate with someone who speaks many different musical languages."

That Fields is also a richly accomplished multi-instrumentalist (on Metropolis he appears on all 12 tracks, alternating among guitar, bass and keyboards) was critical to the album's development. "John is like a one-stop music shop," Cincotti enthuses, "which is really cool, because it meant that everything could be done simultaneously. It was never like ‘next Wednesday we're going to be adding guitars,' so you'd have to wait around for a week until guitar day. Every element of every song was considered early and at once. Even mixing decisions were made immediately. John and I would build each track and then there was a select group of musicians who would enhance the concept." Some contributors, like violinist, keyboardist and string arranger Stephen Lu and drummer/percussionist Dorian Crozier, appear on the majority of tracks. Others-including guitarist Peter Thorn, Prince's drummer Michael Bland and guitarist David Ryan Harris-make less frequent appearances, handpicked to add their distinct magic to specific tracks. Percussionist and effects wizard Ken Chastain is, for example, a close friend of Fields' and, as Cincotti explains, "We were working on the title track and John said, ‘I think Ken would totally get this; let's see what he can bring to it.' It was a very gratifying way to make a record."

Though "Metropolis" was the last track completed, it drives the album's theme, which examines the joys and ills of the contemporary urban experience from multiple perspectives. "The album is," says Cincotti, "meant to be representative of how we live today. It's not one particular city, but the urban landscape in general. I wanted each song to feel like a neighborhood within Metropolis, and for the storylines within the songs to somehow seem as if they were occurring simultaneously."

The album opens with its set piece, the title track, strongly reminiscent of the Pet Shop Boys' infectiously propulsive electronica. Later tracks "Graffiti Wall," partially inspired by the twentieth anniversary of the Berlin Wall's demolition, and "World Gone Crazy," with its condemnation of society's tech-fueled ferocity, further speak to the overarching theme.

The remaining tracks focus more on personal tales within this urban jungle. "There are," says, Cincotti, "a few songs on the album about commitment, beginning with "My Religion." It's polar opposite is "Forever and Always." Both are about becoming someone else for the sake of a relationship, but the first comes from the dark side of commitment and the second from the light."

Romantic upheaval is also prevalent. "Take a Good Look" traces a disintegrating relationship. As Cincotti explains, "The beginning of the song is a question, the middle a feeling, and the end an undeniable belief that the relationship is over." The closing track, "Before I Go," is also about departures but, he says, "has a sort of cockeyed optimism in it. It's about trying to freeze that moment in time before you have to say goodbye, honestly believing you can fight the inevitable."

But, proof that Cincotti has not entirely lost heart, there are also several songs that suggest a more upbeat attitude towards love and its possibilities. "Do or Die" tells of a guy infatuated with a workmate who is finally given his chance when he finds himself alone with her in an elevator. "It is," says Cincotti, "all about making the first move - that ‘fight or flight' response that sometimes goes through your head when you're interested in someone." Irresistible attraction is also central to "Magnetic." "In this case," says Cincotti with a laugh, "the guy's excuse is that it's pure physics: ‘don't blame me,' he's saying, ‘I have no control over this.'" And "Fit You Better" is a clever tale of, as the lyric suggests, ‘perfect opposites' whose marked differences are what make the romance work.

Though all 12 tracks demonstrate Cincotti's escalating skill and maturity as a songwriter, two are particular standouts. "Madeline" again concerns commitment, but with an intriguing twist. The guy in the piece is unswerving in his long-term dedication to one woman, yet realizes that a former lover will always cloud his memory. "I was interested," says Cincotti, "in the idea of someone from the past forever tainting the present. What it may be like to move forward while accepting the fact that the rest of your life will be haunted by someone you will never have again." And, dovetailing the through themes of modern urban life and romantic entanglements is "Nothing's Enough." Cincotti sees the song as "a big question mark. It concerns [societal] excess; how people my age have become accustomed to quick changes and immediate gratification on every level. The question is: How does that mindset affect modern day relationships?"

Ultimately, Cincotti would like listeners, who nowadays often approach music in terms of individual track downloads rather than complete albums, to "listen to the album as an album. I'm hoping people will press ‘pause' on the craziness of their daily lives and actually experience the entire record. It's a lot to ask in this day and age, but this album is all about creating another world-the [quasi-mythical] world of Metropolis-and I want them to feel like they've actually been there.

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John Lee Hooker "Cook With The Hook: Live 1974" on DVD June 19 #jazz

On Saturday, July 6, 1974, Mississippi-Delta bluesman John Lee Hooker was one of the star attractions at an all-day festival attended by 6,000 people. The event in the town of Gardner Massachusetts was called "Down in the Dumps" perhaps the first in what was proposed as a series of musical events to be held in the city landfill area. Luckily, very luckily, Hooker's performance was captured on a three camera shoot and broadcast on cable television in local cities and towns.

Track Listing: It Serves You Right to Suffer, Sweet Sweet Thing, Boom Booom, Whiskey & Women, Boogie, Encore/Medley

Run Time: 45 min

Hooker's style has always been unique, even among other performers of the real deep blues, few of whom remain with us today. While retaining that foundation he has simultaneously broken new ground musically and commercially.

He first recorded in 1948. "Boogie Chillen" became a number one jukebox hit and his first million seller. This was soon followed by an even bigger hit with "I'm In The Mood" and other classic recordings including "Crawling Kingsnake" and "Hobo Blues." Another surge in his career took place with the release of more than 100 songs on Vee Jay Records during the 1950's and 1960's.

During the late 1970's and much of the 1980's, Hooker toured the U.S. and Europe steadily. In 1989, The Healer was released to critical acclaim and sales in excess of a million copies. Since then, he continued recording his own albums (Mr. Lucky, Boom Boom, Chill Out, and Don't Look Back for Pointblank / Virgin) and contributed to recordings by B.B. King, Branford Marsalis, Van Morrison, and Big Head Todd and the Monsters and portrayed the title role in Pete Townshend's 1989 epic, The Iron Man. 

His influence on younger generations has been documented on television with features on Showtime and a special edition of the BBC's 'Late Show' as well as appearances on "The Tonight Show" and "Late Night With David Letterman" among many others. John Lee was invited to perform with The Rolling Stones and guest Eric Clapton for their national television broadcast during The Stones' 1989 Steel Wheels tour. 
Hooker's 1991 induction into the Rock n' Roll Hall Of Fame was fitting for the man who has influenced countless fans and musicians who have in turn influenced many more. Then, at the age of 80, John Lee Hooker received his third and fourth Grammy Awards, for Best Traditional Blues Recording (Don't Look Back) and for Best Pop Collaboration for the song "Don't Look Back" which Hooker recorded with his long time friend Van Morrison.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - May 14, 2012 #jazz

LW - TW - Artist - Album - (Label)
2 - 1 - Paul Brown - "The Funky Joint" - (Woodward Ave.)
1 - 2 - Peter White - "Here We Go" - (Concord)
3 - 3 - Chris Standring - "Electric Wonderland" - (Ultimate Vibe)
11 - 4 - Richard Elliot - "In The Zone" - (Artistry/Mack Ave.)
6 - 5 - Acoustic Alchemy - "Roseland" - (Onside/Heads Up)
4 - 6 - Darren Rahn - "Speechless" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
5 - 7 - Cindy Bradley - "Unscripted" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
16 - 8 - Funkee Boy - "Philosoulphy" - (FunkeeBoy/Power Of One)
9 - 9 - Najee - "Smooth Side Of Soul - (Shanachie)
10 - 10 - Incognito - "Surreal" - (Shanachie)
7 - 11 - Nick Colionne - "Feel The Heat" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
14 - 12 - Michael Lington - "Pure" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
13 - 13 - George Benson - "Guitar Man" - (Concord)
28 - 14 - Grady Nichols - "Destinations" - (PCS)
12 - 15 - Eric Marienthal - "It's Love" - (Peak/eOne)
8 - 16 - Jeff Lorber Fusion - "Galaxy" - (Heads Up)
25 - 17 - Kim Waters - "This Heart Of Mine" - (Shanachie)
21 - 18 - Boney James - "Contact" - (Verve)
19 - 19 - Jessy J - "Hot Sauce" - (Heads Up)
15 - 20 - Paul Taylor - "Prime Time" - (Peak)

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Frank Gambale - "Soulmine" - Release on May 22nd #jazz

Due for release in less than 2 weeks (May 22), Grammy winning guitar innovator Frank Gambale’s “Soulmine” is already garnering praise for the ten-song collection of jazzy adult pop tunes that he wrote and produced with his soulmate, sultry singer BOCA (  Features in Vintage Guitar, Guitar Player and Recording magazines are hitting or will soon arrive on newsstands.  Here are a couple of excerpts from some of the early reviews:   
Critical Jazz: “Frank Gambale has found that musical happy place that so many musicians strive for but never seem to find.  Gambale's six string pyrotechnics run from the cool vibe and funk fortification to the foot to the floor ability to touch your soul and set your hair on fire all at the same time Soulmine has more hooks than a fisherman's hat.  A cool groove, shifting meter and a deceptively subtle harmonic development all designed to enhance the vocal/guitar musical exchanges that are predominant on this eloquent release.  A recording of note and absolutely a 5 Star gem!”
The Entertainment Bank: “Grammy winning guitarist Frank Gambale delivers an outstanding new recording in ‘Soulmine’ that reflects a career of innovative playing.  The arrangements on ‘Soulmine’ feature Gambale's beautiful wife Boca, an amazingly talented vocalist whose voice is soothing, seductive, and made for jazz.  While her presence and artistry of expression clearly set the tone on the first tune, ‘Love Set Me Free,’ there's something on the album for all listeners.  Boca's vocal style is engaging and there is a passion that clearly comes through in her performances.  Jazz fans who miss the days of the fresh, creative, and authentic music of Jazz-Rock and Fusion will appreciate uncompromising harmonies and influences ranging from Latin to Pop, and I'm smiling because I've missed Return to Forever, and Brand X.  A big thank you to Frank Gambale for not forgetting to how to bring it!  This album is sure to garner another Grammy nomination, and is a must have for any serious jazz collector and music lovers who enjoy good music in general.”
Gambale is best known for groundbreaking instrumental recordings and extraordinary live performances with jazz fusion icons such as Chick Corea, Billy Cobham and Return To Forever (with Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and Jean-Luc Ponty).  The musicianship on “Soulmine” is masterful as the well-crafted songs were performed by Gambale and an accomplished rhythm section comprised of five-time Grammy winning bassist Victor Wooten and drummer Joel Taylor.  Although Gambale plays most of the keyboards on “Soulmine,” Otmaro Ruiz (piano) and Brian Auger make guest appearances (organ).  The first radio single from the disc is the sensual “Forbidden Kiss” for which award-winning director Nigel Dick (Guns ‘n Roses, Britney Spears, Oasis, Cher) shot an enticing video (
An Australian who now resides in Palm Springs, Gambale pioneered and popularized two imaginative guitar playing techniques - Sweep Picking Technique (commonly known as Sweeping) and the Gambale Tuning method - that revolutionized the capabilities of the instrument.  When not gigging or recording, he enjoys sharing his extensive knowledge as a respected educator, an author of numerous instructional books and via popular DVDs.
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Monday, May 07, 2012

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - May 7, 2012 #jazz

LW - TW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Peter White - "Here We Go" - (Concord)
2 - 2 - Paul Brown - "The Funky Joint" - (Woodward Ave.)
3 - 3 - Chris Standring - "Electric Wonderland" - (Ultimate Vibe)
4 - 4 - Darren Rahn - "Speechless" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
9 - 5 - Cindy Bradley - "Unscripted" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
5 - 6 - Acoustic Alchemy - "Roseland" - (Onside/Heads Up)
6 - 7 - Nick Colionne - "Feel The Heat" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
7 - 8 - Jeff Lorber Fusion - "Galaxy" - (Heads Up)
8 - 9 - Najee - "Smooth Side Of Soul - (Shanachie)
14 - 10 - Incognito - "Surreal" - (Shanachie)
11 - 11 - Richard Elliot - "In The Zone" - (Artistry/Mack Ave.)
10 - 12 - Eric Marienthal - "It's Love" - (Peak/eOne)
21 - 13 - George Benson - "Guitar Man" - (Concord)
12 - 14 - Michael Lington - "Pure" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
15 - 15 - Paul Taylor - "Prime Time" - (Peak)
20 - 16 - Funkee Boy - "Philosoulphy" - (FunkeeBoy/Power Of One)
17 - 17 - Esperanza Spalding - "Radio Music Society" - (Heads Up)
13 - 18 - Rob Tardik - "Balance.Energy.Laughter.Love" - (Guitardik)
19 - 19 - Jessy J - "Hot Sauce" - (Heads Up)
18 - 20 - Down To The Bone - "The Main Ingredients" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)

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