Thursday, June 28, 2012

New Jazz Release: Project Grand Slam | "Spring Dance" (Coming July 3rd, 2012) #jazz

It's Another Contemporary Jazz Home Run For Project Grand Slam With The Joyfully Melodic And Grooving "Spring Dance"

When is the last time a jazz ensemble named after the nefarious scheme of a James Bond villain packed such a solidly melodic and grooving punch?

Project Grand Slam, named by leader Robert Miller as a play on "Goldfinger"'s plan to steal all the gold from Fort Knox, is probably the first—and he and PGS are up to plenty of melodic and grooving wonder this summer on Spring Dance, their explosive new album on Cakewalk Records.

The collection's lead track is its title tune, an upbeat, feel-good, winner penned by Miller. Miller's other songs include the Joe Zawinal tribute "Joe Z," a high energy blast that brings to mind the fiery fusion magic of Weather Report, complete with exotic chanting and old school keyboards; the sensual and elegant soprano sax led ballad "Ma Petite Fleur," a piece Miller dedicates to his wife and that he calls his favorite on the collection; the brass-fired, classic blues-funk explosion "Catch You Later"; and "Flat Busted," an in-the-pocket, mid tempo grooving urban jazz tune featuring Gilad Ronen's hypnotic flute runs.
Ronen and Joye Hennessey's "Remember" is featured first as a dramatic and soulful, longing romantic vocal (highlighted by strings and an emotional sax solo) and, as a coda to Spring Dance, a thoughtful and reflective instrumental that evolves into a percussive, easy rolling, rhythmically engaging samba. Ronen also composed the ambient, slightly melancholy ballad "The Turn," which featured a smoky sax melody and soaring horn textures.
The band also covered the old Hollie's hit, "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother". Says Miller: "Joye did an incredible job with the song, almost like Mariah Carey singing jazz!".

The eclectic nine-track collection is the follow-up release to PGS' critically acclaimed 2008 debut, Play, which included the Top 20 jazz radio hit "The Captain Of Her Heart" (sung by Judie Tzuke). Five of the tracks from Play, along with the band itself (with Miller having a speaking part), were prominently featured in an episode of the hit NBC-TV series "Lipstick Jungle," starring Brooke Shields. PGS did several live performances at clubs in NYC in addition to a charity show for the Ronald McDonald House.

For the new album Miller invited Mike Eckroth, keyboardist for guitar legend John Scofield, and alto sax man Danny Lerman to complement the core trio. After a few days of rehearsal, the new lineup of PGS convened in the studio and nailed the basic tracks in a week, with most songs done in two or three takes. After some overdubs, Justin Smith was brought in to sweeten some of the tracks with strings. And Joye Hennessey added her soaring vocals.

Miller is a renowned solo artist. His debut project, Child's Play (Wildcat Records 1994) included performances by Randy Brecker, Jon Lucien and Anton Fig; his follow up, Prisoners of Love (1996) was released on 32 Records, a label Miller co-founded that became famous in the late '90s for a series of "Jazz For…" compilation recordings (Jazz For a Rainy Afternoon, Jazz For The Quiet Time, etc.) that dominated the Billboard Jazz charts and sold well over one million units. His band, The Robert Miller Group, played at many major New York area clubs, graduating to the national festival circuit where they appeared with artists like Bruce Hornsby, Bela Fleck and Kenny Barron.

The essence of where we are as a group, and where I am personally in my life, is captured in the title track of the album with its upbeat vibe," says Miller. "It's a feel good kind of piece with an uplifting melody, funky beat and elements of my jazz fusion background. We're all about strong melodies and great playing. What excites me most is exciting the listener."

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Gerald Albright & Norman Brown’s 24/7 debuts at #1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Chart AND #1 on the Top Current Jazz Albums Chart! #jazz

Two of the biggest names in contemporary instrumental pop, Brown and Albright are a perfect pair to team up and 24/7 makes the most of the their talents. Sounding slick but never too slick, the album features stylish production by both artists along with keyboardist Herman Jackson. Brown and Albright primarily stick to the more soulful contemporary R&B end of smooth jazz here, and cuts such as the bright and melodic leadoff cut ‘In the Moment,’ the cinematic ‘Perfect Love,’ and the sensuous title track – featuring vocals by Gerald’s daughter Selina Albright – are finger-snapping, head-bobbing numbers that set a romantic, positive-minded mood…For longtime fans of either of these contemporary jazz titans, 24/7 will certainly be a round-the-clock pleasure.” ****
All Music
“Two legends of contemporary jazz teamed up to release 24/7, a ten-selection project of melodic exchanges, unison and harmonic phrases on the Concord Jazz label. Gerald Albright and Norman Brown, more than just imprints of classic contemporary sounds in jazz, they're also a mainstay of the genre. First, individually they both have a great collection of work and second, as a collective force, 24/7 proves to be another exceptional offering.”
“Two different musicians, multiple mixes of genres and endless hours spent perfecting it all. After decades of camaraderie and professional overlap due to solo projects and collaborations with the heavy-hitters of pop, jazz and soul, Gerald Albright and Grammy winner Norman Brown have finally joined creative forces on 24/7, a synergistic and spirited collection that fuses Albright’s nimble sax notes, Brown’s heart-plucking guitar licks and generous doses of familial assist…With summer just beginning, expect fans of Mr. Albright and Mr. Brown to scoop it right on up and put it on ‘repeat’ for the first day, the first week…and yes, well beyond. Heartily recommended.”
Soul Tracks
“Concord has been on a roll for 2012 and 24/7 simply continues to build on quality music released by one of the finest labels in jazz. A release that is full of flavor as well as some well placed musical surprises including some stellar Latin work from Albright finds 24/7 at the very top of the contemporary heap for 2012. A virtually flawless effort that even the hyper-critical would struggle finding serious fault with.”
“After thirty years of friendship, 24/7 is the definitive thank you gift from Gerald Albright and Norman Brown in sharing their musical passion with their fans. Five out of five stars.”
“Though the two smooth jazz superstars have been friends for years, this is the first time that they have collaborated in a full album – and what a treat it is. From the opener ‘In The Moment,’ the groove is on from the first moment and doesn’t let up until the closing track ‘Power of Your Smile,’ a soulful ballad that closes the disc with great style.”
“Ah yes, as if you didn’t know that, at some point, these two icons of the serious contemporary jazz groove—saxman Gerald Albright and guitarist Norman Brown—two of the best anywhere and two very amiable cats, would collaborate on a sizzler, here it is—24/7, to be released on June 19 to a lot of happy ears. Considering the artists, you’d expect quality, strength, class, and more. You’ll get that—and much more. These guys are not who they are by accident, as this mighty production will show. The album’s title is derived from the commitment of each to his respective instrument, but then, you should have guessed that. You don’t put together this kind of project without having that kind of commitment not only to the instruments but to the art itself.”
The Smooth Jazz Ride
“A tasty, summer sounding set, it’s in the pocket and a winner throughout.  Well done.”
Midwest Record
“Titled 24/7, this fine ten-track recording draws on their collective jazz sensibilities in a way that is little short of sublime and with almost fifty years of recording experience between them, there is little doubt that these two fine players sit loftily at the very peak of their respective careers…Again the combined artistry of Albright and Brown is immense and like all great albums leaves the listener yearning for more. 24/7 will hit the streets on June 19 and comes highly recommended.”
Smooth Jazz Therapy

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - June 25, 2012 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Paul Brown - "The Funky Joint" - (Woodward Ave.)
2 - 3 - Acoustic Alchemy - "Roseland" - (Onside/Heads Up)
3 - 2 - Peter White - "Here We Go" - (Concord)
4 - 4 - Chris Standring - "Electric Wonderland" - (Ultimate Vibe)
5 - 8 - Cindy Bradley - "Unscripted" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
6 - 7 - Richard Elliot - "In The Zone" - (Artistry/Mack Ave.)
7 - 6 - Darren Rahn - "Speechless" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
8 - 5 - Steve Oliver - "World Citizen" - (SOM)
9 - 9 - Brian Culbertson - "Dreams" - (Verve)
10 - 10 - Boney James - "Contact" - (Verve)
11 - 13 - Brian Bromberg - "Compared To That" - (Artistry/Mack Avenue)
12 - 11 - Kim Waters - "This Heart Of Mine" - (Shanachie)
13 - 14 - Ben Tankard - "Full Tank" - (Ben-Jamin)
14 - 17 - Incognito - "Surreal" - (Shanachie)
15 - 16 - Jeff Lorber Fusion - "Galaxy" - (Heads Up)
16 - 12 - George Benson - "Guitar Man" - (Concord)
17 - 15 - Funkee Boy - "Philosoulphy" - (FunkeeBoy/Power Of One)
18 - 18 - David Benoit - "Conversation" - (Heads Up)
19 - 19 - Greg Adams - "East Bay Soul 2.0" - (Ripa)
20 - 20 - Grady Nichols - "Destinations" - (PCS)

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Soul-jazz saxophonist Boney James set to make “Contact” with Atlanta August 31st #jazz

 Tickets on sale now for the concert at The Fred presented by The Smooth Jazz Cruise
As the excitement mounts for January’s 10th anniversary sailings, The Smooth Jazz Cruise: The Greatest Party at Sea will present soul-jazz sax sensation Boney James in concert August 31st at The Frederick Brown, Jr. Amphitheater (The Fred) in Peachtree City, GA.  Opening the show will be eclectic violinist Ken Ford.  Tickets are now on sale and available at The Fred Box office (770.631.0630 and at Ticket Alternative outlets (877-725-8849

James is a leading light in the contemporary/smooth jazz realm who has also achieved crossover success in the urban music world.  In his 20-year solo career that spans a dozen albums, he has scored nine #1 Billboard contemporary jazz albums while earning four gold records, three Grammy nominations, a Soul Train Award and an NAACP Image Award nomination.  His music is a soul-drenched mix of R&B grooves, contemporary jazz instrumentals, and romantic ballads.  In addition to his slick originals, James has a knack for delivering sterling renditions of R&B classics - “Sweet Thing,” “Grazin In The Grass” and “Send One Your Love” to name a few.  Touring in support of last year’s hit-filled “Contact” album, which spent a remarkable 11 weeks at #1, his sultry single “Deep Time” is presently heating up the radio airwaves. 

The Atlanta-based Ford will make his debut aboard The Smooth Jazz Cruise 2013.  Dispensing a unique fusion of jazz, blues, R&B and hip-hop, the electric violinist pours passion into his exhilarating performances.  His latest recording, “State of Mind,” is a seven-song EP that includes a pair of bonus tracks, fan favorites produced by Grammy winner Colin Morrison (The Temptations, Chante Moore).  Utilizing live instrumentation and adventurous sonicscapes, Ford is a soulful improviser best experienced in a concert setting.    

Known as “The Greatest Party at Sea,” The Smooth Jazz Cruise showcases legends, Grammy winners and chart-topping contemporary jazz and urban adult contemporary artists aboard a luxurious full ship Holland American charter that will sail from Fort Lauderdale to Cozumel, Belize City and Key West on January 13-20 and January 20-27, 2013.  It is an extraordinary week devoted to live music with the 2013 lineup consisting of Ford, George Benson, David Sanborn, Marcus Miller, Brian Culbertson, Jonathan Butler, Candy Dulfer, Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Bob James, Jeff Golub, Angie Stone, Paul Taylor, Steve Cole, Raul Midon, Larry Braggs, DW3, music director Brian Simpson and comedian Alonzo Bodden presented in theatre, club and intimate piano bar settings.  The velvet rope is removed allowing cruisers to mix and mingle freely with the musicians at cocktail parties, informative seminars, autograph and Q&A sessions, theme nights and even sporting contests.  Perennially sold-out, nearly 60% of the passengers are repeat guests.  For further information or to reserve a cabin, please visit

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - June 18, 2012 #jazz

LW - TW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Paul Brown - "The Funky Joint" - (Woodward Ave.)
4 - 2 - Peter White - "Here We Go" - (Concord)
2 - 3 - Acoustic Alchemy - "Roseland" - (Onside/Heads Up)
3 - 4 - Chris Standring - "Electric Wonderland" - (Ultimate Vibe)
6 - 5 - Steve Oliver - "World Citizen" - (SOM)
5 - 6 - Darren Rahn - "Speechless" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
8 - 7 - Richard Elliot - "In The Zone" - (Artistry/Mack Ave.)
7 - 8 - Cindy Bradley - "Unscripted" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
9 - 9 - Brian Culbertson - "Dreams" - (Verve)
10 - 10 - Boney James - "Contact" - (Verve)
11 - 11 - Kim Waters - "This Heart Of Mine" - (Shanachie)
12 - 12 - George Benson - "Guitar Man" - (Concord)
16 - 13 - Brian Bromberg - "Compared To That" - (Artistry/Mack Avenue)
13 - 14 - Ben Tankard - "Full Tank" - (Ben-Jamin)
15 - 15 - Funkee Boy - "Philosoulphy" - (FunkeeBoy/Power Of One)
14 - 16 - Jeff Lorber Fusion - "Galaxy" - (Heads Up)
20 - 17 - Incognito - "Surreal" - (Shanachie)
24 - 18 - David Benoit - "Conversation" - (Heads Up)
23 - 19 - Greg Adams - "East Bay Soul 2.0" - (Ripa)
17 - 20 - Grady Nichols - "Destinations" - (PCS)

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Inspired bassist Sean O'Bryan Smith and a stellar ensemble pause for "Reflection" #jazz

The soul, jazz and gospel album scheduled for release July 17 will be prefaced by the radio single "Blessed Be Your Name"

A beatific album of hymns and inspired originals shepherded by bassist Sean O'Bryan Smith and anointed by an accomplished minion of 23 musicians, "Reflection" will be released July 17th on Groove Therapy Records. Smith produced and arranged the offering of soul, contemporary jazz and gospel selections that comprise the second solo album from the in-demand bass player. Previewing the 12-song disc, the rousing rocker "Blessed Be Your Name" featuring guitarist Chuck Loeb, saxophonist Tommy Ogle and pianist-songwriter Jeff Franzel (Taylor Swift, *NSYNC, Clay Aiken) goes for radio adds June 11th.

Three years in the making, "Reflection" was conceived as Smith listened to hymnals and spirituals at church while on break from touring. After creating fresh arrangements for classics such as opener "How Great Thou Art," "Blessed Assurance," "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" and "Battle Hymn Of The Republic" and celestial covers "Blessed Be Your Name," "Give Me Jesus," "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power" and "Yes You Have," he composed two originals. "Called" is an infectious soul-jazz groove graced by Gerald Albright's soaring sax while the record's title track is a thought-provoking spoken word sermon delivered faithfully by Malcolm Jamal-Warner. Franzel contributed a third original, "Me Without You," an aching torch song blessed with Lisa Hearns' yearning voice. Throughout "Reflection," Smith coaxes robust rhythms and divine melodies from his four- and five-string basses, six-string fretless bass, upright bass and piccolo bass. Other prominent soloists on the album are Randy Brecker's prayerful trumpet on "Give Me Jesus" and Frank Catalano's saxophone on the New Orleans-flavored march "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" and the soul-stirring "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power."

"'Reflection' is a tribute not only to great hymns and worship tunes, but also a nod to where I've come from as a musician and where I'm heading as an artist. All of the music that inspires me is present on this project along with a few surprises. My greatest hope is for people to enjoy the music and hopefully feel some of the inspiration that I feel," said Smith, who recorded in his Nashville studio with co-producer Rich Krainak. "As the basis of 'Reflection,' I wanted to return to my roots in soul music and sought an underlying feel reminiscent of an old STAX album. We purposely went for a lot of older tones and we mixed everything through an old Trident analog console to give it just the right touch. The end result is an album that hopefully people will enjoy while venturing on a nostalgic trip through gospel and contemporary jazz."

Days after "Reflection" streets, Smith will perform at a July 21st album release gig at the Snow Basin Ski Resort in Snow Basin, Utah that will be filmed for a concert DVD.

Diversity is an integral part of Smith's three-decade career. His bass mastery makes him a first-call musician on tour and for recording sessions with marquee artists including Esperanza Spalding, Lady Antebellum, Anna Wilson, Keith Urban, Darius Rucker, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Rogers, Wynonna, The Oak Ridge Boys, Larry Carlton, Brian Bromberg, Victor Wooten, Rick Braun and some of the "American Idol" and "Canadian Idol" contestants. Smith released his internationally acclaimed solo debut, "Tapestry," in 2008. In addition to being devoted to supporting "Reflection," he is a member of two new jazz groups: Thunder-Smith-Taylor boasts legendary drummer Tony "Thunder" Smith (Mahavishnu, Santana) and Grammy nominated guitarist Joe Taylor, and Polcat, a jazz fusion outfit made up of Grammy winning saxman Catalano, guitarist Chris Poland (Megadeth, OHM) and drummer Jim Gifford. Additional information is available at

The songs on Smith's "Reflection" are:

"How Great Thou Art"
"Blessed Assurance"
"Mighty To Save"
"Blessed Be Your Name"
"Me Without You"
"Will The Circle Be Unbroken"
"Give Me Jesus"
"The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power"
"Yes You Have"
"Battle Hymn Of The Republic"

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Saxophonist Mindi Abair Performs With Rock Legends Aerosmith on 'Global Warming Tour' #jazz

Tour dates cap recent appearances with Bruce Springsteen, Paul Shaffer on the Late Show with David Letterman, American Idol and more!

Aerosmith, “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band,” has officially invited Mindi Abair to be the featured saxophonist on their “Global Warming Tour,” which kicks off this week. Abair is travelling to Minneapolis to rehearse with the band and then begins the tour.

The saxophonist/vocalist’s upcoming tour dates with Aerosmith cap a string of recent highlights: Over the past several months, Abair has performed with Bruce Springsteen at New York’s famed Beacon Theatre for Comedy Central’s Stand Up For Heroes concert, played with Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra on the Late Show with David Letterman, became a featured saxophonist on American Idol and now will participate in one of the major concert tours of the year with Aerosmith.

“I grew up as a rock ‘n’ roll girl,” Abair says. “I wanted to sing like Tina Turner or Steven Tyler. I couldn't. But with a saxophone I could do anything I wanted. It’s such an honor to share the stage with Aerosmith for this tour. From the first time I played with Steven Tyler off-the-cuff backstage at American Idol there was this beautiful energy. He’s so inspiring, and he takes melodies where no one else does. And as a saxophonist, that’s a dream. I'm just working off him and loving every second of it.”

On Sunday, August 26, Abair will perform with her band at the Hollywood Bowl for the first time ever. In fact, she’s playing the Hollywood Bowl twice this summer – once as a solo artist and again with Aerosmith.

Abair brings a fearless energy and abandon to the stage as a powerhouse on the saxophone, reminiscent of some of her heroes: Clarence Clemons, Bobby Keys and King Curtis. Her latest solo recording, In Hi-Fi Stereo, was released in 2010 on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group. Her single “Be Beautiful” remained #1 on the Contemporary Jazz Radio charts for seven weeks adding to a solo career that has already produced ten #1 radio singles from five major label solo releases.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - June 11, 2012 #jazz

LW - TW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Paul Brown - "The Funky Joint" - (Woodward Ave.)
4 - 2 - Acoustic Alchemy - "Roseland" - (Onside/Heads Up)
3 - 3 - Chris Standring - "Electric Wonderland" - (Ultimate Vibe)
2 - 4 - Peter White - "Here We Go" - (Concord)
8 - 5 - Darren Rahn - "Speechless" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
5 - 6 - Steve Oliver - "World Citizen" - (SOM)
7 - 7 - Cindy Bradley - "Unscripted" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
6 - 8 - Richard Elliot - "In The Zone" - (Artistry/Mack Ave.)
14 - 9 - Brian Culbertson - "Dreams" - (Verve)
15 - 10 - Boney James - "Contact" - (Verve)
11 - 11 - Kim Waters - "This Heart Of Mine" - (Shanachie)
10 - 12 - George Benson - "Guitar Man" - (Concord)
30 - 13 - Ben Tankard - "Full Tank" - (Ben-Jamin)
16 - 14 - Jeff Lorber Fusion - "Galaxy" - (Heads Up)
9 - 15 - Funkee Boy - "Philosoulphy" - (FunkeeBoy/Power Of One)
24 - 16 - Brian Bromberg - "Compared To That" - (Artistry/Mack Avenue)
12 - 17 - Grady Nichols - "Destinations" - (PCS)
17 - 18 - Michael Lington - "Pure" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
20 - 19 - Esperanza Spalding" - "Radio Music Society" - (Heads Up)
13 - 20 - Incognito - "Surreal" - (Shanachie)

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Visit to view the latest weekly chart recap.
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