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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rick Braun - "Can You Feel It" - Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Records Release on July 8th #jazz

 Rick Braun feels like getting up and dancing
Chart-topping trumpeter returns July 8 with “Can You Feel It,” his first contemporary jazz album in five years; “Get Up and Dance” starts the party at radio
It’s been five years since trumpeter-flugelhorn player Rick Braun released an album full of the funky R&B contemporary jazz grooves that made him one of the genre’s most consistent hitmakers over the past twenty years, but the award-winning musician, producer and songwriter returns to his signature sound July 8 with the release of his sixteenth album, “Can You Feel It,” which will be issued by Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Records. A bona fide contender as the feel good anthem for the summer of 2014, Braun’s “Get Up And Dance,” a collaboration with tenor sax sensation Dave Koz, is already collecting radio playlist adds. Order "Can You Feel It" from

After scratching a creative itch to croon jazz standards on his two most recent releases, “Sings with Strings” and the holiday-themed “Swingin’ in the Snow,” Braun had a very specific direction he wanted to pursue for “Can You Feel It” for which he wrote or co-wrote nine tunes along with helming the production.
“When I started working on this album, which was about a year in the making, there were two goals that I had in mind. I wanted it to be really organic and have a lot of my friends playing on it. Young players melding together with the old faithful,” explained Braun.
So he reached out to a bunch of his friends, colleagues and collaborators and dialed back the time machine twenty years ago to the era of his breakthrough disc, “Beat Street,” to help chart the course for “Can You Feel It.”  
“It’s a return to the sound and style of “Beat Street,” which essentially was a tribute to my years playing in War. I took out all of the sequencing with one exception and made the record like a garage band using great live players. It was a lot of fun making the record. It’s energetic and earthy. We hit it hard—kind of like Tower of Power—capturing the energetic, funky horn band sound. I wanted lots of horn section parts on the album.”
Braun added a new weapon to his arsenal: valve trombone. And he stacked the tracks with layers of horns section parts adding power, punch and potency. His friends were eager to join the festivities enabling Braun to toss the ball around the horn with Koz, Brian Culbertson, Philippe Saisse, Jeff Lorber, Euge Groove, Elliott Yamin and a retinue of ace players such as Frank “Third” Richardson, Nathaniel Kearney Jr., Randy Jacobs, Nate Phillips, Adam Hawley, Sergio Gonzalez, Brandon Fields, Tony Moore, Phil Davis, Ramon Islas and more. Bud Harner, who co-wrote the first single with Braun, helped shepherd the album as associate producer.   

A popular and dynamic performer who draws material for his set lists from his vast catalogue of No. 1 chart hits, radio playlist staples and fan favorites, Braun is touring nationally in support of “Can You Feel It” as a member of Jazz Attack with fellow contemporary jazz titans Peter White and Groove. Sprinkled in his concert calendar are dates with BWB, the all-star trio made up of Braun and Grammy winners Kirk Whalum and Norman Brown. The Allentown, Pennsylvania native entered the professional ranks by co-writing a Top 20 pop hit for REO Speedwagon (“Here With Me”) before becoming a first-call sideman touring and recording with Rod Stewart, Sade, Tina Turner, Natalie Cole and Tom Petty. Braun released his solo debut, “Intimate Secrets,” in 1992, but it was the success of “Beat Street” that forced the horn man to choose between continuing as a sideman and taking center stage as an artist. The decision came easily and Braun has never looked back on the path to stardom.

The songs contained on “Can You Feel It” are:
“Can You Feel It”
“Back To Back”
“Take Me To The River”
“Get Up And Dance”
“Another Kind Of Blue”
“The Dream”
“Dr. Funkenstein”

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - May 26th, 2014 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Nathan East - "Nathan East" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group)
2 - 3 - Chris Standring - "Don't Talk, Dance!" (Ultimate Vibe)
3 - 2 - Paul Taylor - "Tenacity" - (eOne)
4 - 4 - Nick Colionne - "Influences" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
5 - 5 - Jeff Lorber Fusion - "Hacienda" - (Heads Up)
6 - 8 - Ken Navarro - "Ruby Lane" - (Positive Music Records)
7 - 7 - Boney James - "The Beat" - (Concord Jazz)
8 - 10 - Bob Baldwin - "Twenty" - (City Sketches)
9 - 6 - Michael Lington - "Soul Appeal" - (Copenhagen Music)
10 - 9 - Down To The Bone - "Dig It" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
11 - 19 - Mindi Abair - "Wild Heart" - (Concord)
12 - 13 - Keiko Matsui - "Soul Quest" - (Shanachie)
13 - 12 - Dave Koz & Friends - "Summer Horns" - (Concord/CMG)
14 - 27 - Najee - "A Musical Love Journey" - (Shanachie)
15 - 11 - Jessy J - "Second Chances" - (Shanachie)
16 - 15 - Brian Culbertson - "Another Long Night Out" - (BCM)
17 - 24 - Nils - "Jazz Gems" - (Baja/TSR)
18 - 16 - Jumaane Smith - "I Only Have Eyes For You" - (Jumaane Smith Music)
19 - 30 - Steve Oliver - "Best Of So Far" - (SOM)
20 - 14 - Richard Smith - "Tangos" - (Chillharmonic Music)

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Mindi Abair - "Wild Heart" Out today on Heads Up Records #jazz

Mindi Abair is one of the most dynamic performers on the music scene today. In addition to her acclaimed solo work, she was the featured saxophonist on the 2011 and 2012 seasons of American Idol, jammed with Paul Shaffer on the Late Show with David Letterman and joined rock legends Aerosmith for their 2012 summer tour. More recently, Abair received a 2014 GRAMMY® nomination in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category for Summer Horns, a #1 recording with her friends Dave Koz, Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot, four of the most pre-eminent saxophonists in contemporary music. Order "Wild Heart" from

In a career that spans seven solo albums and countless collaborations in the studio and live on stage, Abair has made her mark on a broad stretch of the musical landscape that includes jazz, pop, rock, R&B, soul, funk and more. The powerhouse saxophonist/vocalist has made scores of friends along the way and earned the respect of top-shelf artists representing every one of the aforementioned genres.

Several of those friends join her on Wild Heart, her new album that includes guest performances by - and songwriting collaborations with - Gregg Allman, Joe Perry, Booker T. Jones, Keb' Mo', Trombone Shorty, Max Weinberg, Waddy Wachtel and others. Produced by Abair and the illustrious Los Angeles production trio The Decoders (Adam Berg, Itai Shapira and Todd Simon), Wild Heart is set for release on May 27, 2014, on Heads Up, a division of Concord Music Group.

"I've had all these friends in rock 'n' roll and pop for so many years. I've been a part of their music and careers, but I never quite knew how they could fit into my career." Abair says. "I've worked hard to write songs that had more of an organic spirit about them - a little more rock and roll, a little more soul, and a lot more abandon."

By enlisting colleagues in rock and pop circles in the making of Wild Heart, Abair has created something that stretches her beyond the contemporary instrumental groove that has characterized some of her earlier recordings.

Wild Heart is all that and more. The 11-song set opens with the upbeat "Amazing Game," a track co-written by Abair and GRAMMY®-winning songwriter Jim Peterik, a pop/rock veteran who penned the Ides of March hit single "Vehicle" in 1970, and later Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" in 1982. "Amazing Game" also features swaggering horn lines courtesy of Trombone Shorty, the New Orleans native whose past alliances have included Lenny Kravitz and Aerosmith.

"Amazing Game" is the first of two songs on which Peterik and Abair share writing credits. The second is "Train," a thumping track that showcases Abair's powerful vocals alongside her solid saxophone work. "Jim and I have written so many songs together and I've recorded with The Ides of March and on his records. It's an honor to put our songs on my record for the first time. We had such a blast writing them."

The scorching instrumental "Kick Ass" features rock icon Joe Perry, guitarist and co-founder of Aerosmith. "I wrote this song with my friend Matthew Hager, and while we were demoing it I was fresh off the Aerosmith tour and picturing Joe Perry rocking the guitar part while walking down the runway towards 50,000 fans with the wind in his hair. I had to call him to see if he would play on it." Perry heard the song and joined Mindi in the studio the next week to record it. "What a high to play back and forth in the studio with one of my favorite guitarists of all time. When Matthew heard it, he just about fell off his chair!"

"I'll Be Your Home" is a swampy ballad that features Keb' Mo' in a vocal duet with Abair (Keb' also plays guitar and tambourine on the track). Abair says, "Keb' and I have been playing on each others records for many years. We started playing together in LA clubs when maybe eight people would come to see us. We were nobody at the time. So it's been fun to watch his career take off in the years since and be a part of each other's lives and music. He's one of my favorite human beings and musicians, and he adds a lot of home to this song."

"The Shakedown," a throwback to the beginnings of rock 'n' roll when the saxophone was an integral part of the sound, features guitarist and co-writer Waddy Wachtel, along with drummer Max Weinberg, the anchor of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band for nearly four decades. Abair established a connection with Weinberg shortly after the death of E Street saxophonist Clarence Clemons in 2011. A few tour dates with Weinberg - including a benefit concert that included an appearance by Springsteen - played a huge role in the genesis of Wild Heart. "Max means every note he plays," says Abair. "Playing Clarence Clemons' parts with him and Bruce made me delve deeper inside myself - just go for broke and let everything out. I wanted that abandon for my record."

The understated and slinky "Addicted to You" features keyboardist Booker T. Jones, leader of the highly influential Booker T. and the MGs, the de facto house band for the Stax label during their heyday in the ‘60s and early ‘70s. "Booker is such a hero of mine," says Abair. "Here's a guy who really invented a sound and changed the world. I wanted the chance to write with him - I just knew we could create magic. I knew we would write something meaningful, and this song absolutely haunts me."

The set closes with "Just Say When," a heartfelt ballad that harkens back to keyboardist and co-author Gregg Allman's roots with the Allman Brothers. "It was actually Gregg's idea to write something together," says Abair. "I went to his house for three days to write with him, and we bonded so much and delved deep to come up with this song. I played with him last year and felt this electricity singing and playing with him. He's all heart and vibe. What a gift to have him write, play and sing on this record."

Wild Heart is, in many respects, Abair's culmination of many years of collaborating in the studio and/or onstage with some of the most prominent figures in contemporary popular music. "People look at me a bit funny when they see the extreme diversity of artists I've toured or recorded with - Teena Marie, Aerosmith, Duran Duran, Lee Ritenour, Keb' Mo' and The Backstreet Boys. I always went with my heart, and it's been quite an adventure musically. No title accurately described the music from this record to me, so I decided to title it after myself, a Wild Heart that's had a great time letting go and letting this record take shape organically with people I love. I hope people have as much fun listening as I've had making this music."

1. Amazing Game 4:22
2. I Can’t Lose 3:36
3. Wild Heart 4:07
4. Haute Sauce 3:18
5. Train 3:27
6. Kick Ass 5:36
7. I'll Be Your Home 4:17
8. The Shakedown 3:49
9. Kiddo’s Revenge 4:28
10. Addicted To You 6:47
11. Just Say When 5:30

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Memorial Day Worth Remembering

Andy Rooney On How Memorial Day Should Be Celebrated

The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney.

"There is more bravery at war than in peace, and it seems wrong that we have so often saved this virtue to use for our least noble activity - war. The goal of war is to cause death to other people."

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, the day we have set aside to honor by remembering all the Americans who have died fighting for the thing we like the most about our America: the freedom we have to live as we please.

No official day to remember is adequate for something like that. It's too formal. It gets to be just another day on the calendar. No one would know from Memorial Day that Richie M., who was shot through the forehead coming onto Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, wore different color socks on each foot because he thought it brought him good luck.

No one would remember on Memorial Day that Eddie G. had promised to marry Julie W. the day after he got home from the war, but didn’t marry Julie because he never came home from the war. Eddie was shot dead on an un-American desert island, Iwo Jima.

For too many Americans, Memorial Day has become just another day off. There's only so much time any of us can spend remembering those we loved who have died, but the men, boys really, who died in our wars deserve at least a few moments of reflection during which we consider what they did for us.

They died.

We use the phrase "gave their lives," but they didn’t give their lives. Their lives were taken from them.

There is more bravery at war than in peace, and it seems wrong that we have so often saved this virtue to use for our least noble activity - war. The goal of war is to cause death to other people.

Because I was in the Army during World War II, I have more to remember on Memorial Day than most of you. I had good friends who were killed.

Charley Wood wrote poetry in high school. He was killed when his Piper Cub was shot down while he was flying as a spotter for the artillery.

Bob O'Connor went down in flames in his B17.

Obie Slingerland and I were best friends and co-captains of our high school football team. Obie was killed on the deck of the Saratoga when a bomb that hadn’t dropped exploded as he landed.

I won’t think of them anymore tomorrow, Memorial Day, than I think of them any other day of my life.

Remembering doesn’t do the remembered any good, of course. It's for ourselves, the living. I wish we could dedicate Memorial Day, not to the memory of those who have died at war, but to the idea of saving the lives of the young people who are going to die in the future if we don’t find some new way - some new religion maybe - that takes war out of our lives.

That would be a Memorial Day worth celebrating.

Written By Andy Rooney © MMV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This segment was originally broadcast on May 29, 2005.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Brian Culbertson's Napa Valley Jazz Getaway - June 11-15, 2014

There is no other wine and jazz festival in the world like the Napa Valley Jazz Getaway ( , an immersive music and lifestyle experience taking place June 11-15, 2014 showcasing a stellar lineup of performers headlined by the event’s founder and creative director Brian Culbertson who partnered  with the best wineries and restaurants in beautiful Napa Valley.
Culbertson, a charismatic contemporary jazz star who recently released his sixth album (“Another Long Night Out”) to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard chart that spawned his 27th No. 1 single as an artist, producer and songwriter, is very hands on and involved in every aspect in planning the Getaway down to the minutest detail. He curated a luminous lineup of contemporary jazz and R&B heavy-hitters to perform and prepared a full slate of wine tastings, fine dining at popular Napa restaurants and post-concert gatherings where the artists meet and mingle with the guests, many of whom will be traveling to California Wine Country from all over the globe for the third annual festival scooping up VIP (sold-out), multiday (4-day Gold and 2-Day Silver Packages) and single-day tickets.
The June 12 and June 13 concerts at the Lincoln Theater are theme nights. Jazz Legends Night (June 12) stars Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenour, Earl Klugh plus special guests Eric Marienthal, David Benoit and more.
Friday Night Funk Night (June 13) struts out The Ohio Players, comedian Keenen Ivory Wayans, and Brian Culbertson & The Funk Experience with Eric Darius, Marqueal Jordan and Marienthal. Before the show, the annual silent auction and wine reception will take place in the lobby to benefit The GRAMMY Foundation.
The weekend concerts move outdoors to the stunning Jamieson Ranch Vineyards grounds. Saturday’s marquee will be lit by Brian Culbertson’s 20th Anniversary Show, Morris Day & The Time, Average White Band and Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Sunday spotlights Eric BenĂ©t, Mavis Staples, Darius and Jazz in Pink featuring Gail Jhonson, Althea Rene and Karen Briggs. Between sets on both days, the crowd will be entertained by The World Famous Rick & Russ Show featuring CJ Flash.
The Napa Valley Jazz Getaway celebrates the good life while providing a taste of the idyllic Napa Valley. Daytime events scheduled for June 11 are VIP wine tastings and a luncheon while the evening offers welcome dinners at two locations: one at Round Pond for VIPs serving a performance by Benoit and Culbertson, and the sold-out dinner at Black Stallion Winery featuring live music by Cecil Ramirez and Michael Lington. Another sold-out show is “piano2piano” by Culbertson & Benoit in the round at Rutherford Hill Winery on June 13 from 12-2pm, which includes lunch and a wine tasting. After, Lington hosts a cigar & port event at Prager Winery & Port Works open to all from 2-4pm. 
Wine Downs at The Westin Verasa Napa will take place afternoons June 12-15 for VIPs and Gold Package holders to enjoy wine tastings and intimate solo performances by some of the Getaway artists. After the June 12-14 concerts, VIPs and Gold Package holders are invited back to The Westin Verasa Napa for “Another Long Night Out” Late Night Hangs for music, drinks and prix fixe dining. Silver Package holders are welcome to join the Hang on June 14.        
Golfers can play in the 2nd Napa Valley Jazz Getaway Golf Tournament at Chardonnay Golf Club on Saturday morning, June 14.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band - "Goin' Home" In Stores Now on Concord Records #blues, #video

"This is a homecoming in more ways than one," Kenny Wayne Shepherd says of Goin' Home, The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band's debut on Concord Records. "I felt like I was retracing my steps and reliving all the good times that I've had in my life because of this music. And hopefully, that amount of happiness comes through on the album." Order Goin' Home from

In a 20-year recording career that began when he was just 16, Shepherd has established himself as an immensely popular recording artist, a consistently in-demand live act and an influential force in a worldwide resurgence of interest in the blues. Now, the five-time GRAMMY® nominee delivers one of his most personal projects to date with Goin' Home, his eighth album and his first to be recorded in his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana.

Recorded in a mere 11 days, Goin' Home finds Shepherd revisiting a dozen of the vintage blues classics that first ignited his love of the blues and inspired him to play guitar. The artist's sharp interpretive skills and sublime guitar work shine on his renditions of tunes originally popularized by such blues icons as B.B. King, Albert King, Freddie King, Muddy Waters, Magic Sam, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells.

Goin' Home-which continues in the spirit of Shepherd's widely acclaimed 2007 album/film project 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads-came together when Shepherd decided to take advantage of an 11-day gap in his touring schedule. "Everybody was originally gonna fly home and have a break," he recalls, "but I saw it as an opportunity to make some music. I had been looking for songs and preparing to make a record like this, so I asked the guys in the band for some more song suggestions and we rerouted the tour bus down to Louisiana."

The process of choosing material for the project allowed Shepherd to relive some of his earliest musical epiphanies. "I dug through tons and tons of songs and artists' catalogues, trying to find songs that I thought would be right for this record," he explains. "That brought back all these distinct memories of sitting in the living room in front of the record player and cassette deck as a kid and learning how to play this material."

The fact that the album was recorded in Shreveport, where Shepherd had come of age musically but had never actually recorded, raised the project's emotional intensity. "Being in Shreveport really brought me back, and being surrounded by my family and the music that I cut my teeth on brought up a lot of vivid memories."

Although Shreveport didn't have a world class recording studio when Shepherd was growing up, the city is now home to Blade Studios, the celebrated facility run by respected drummer/producer Brady Blade, who's renowned for his work with the likes of Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle and Dave Matthews. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of American Blues, Shepherd and his band-singer Noah Hunt, ex-Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton, former Firm bassist Tony Franklin and keyboardist Riley Osbourn-cut 22 songs, with no studio trickery and minimal overdubbing.

"We did it the way records used to be recorded," Shepherd explains. "Everything, including the vocals, was basically cut live in the studio with everybody in the same room, with the instruments all bleeding together onto two-inch tape. I wanted to record these songs in the same spirit in which they were originally recorded, so the 11-day time frame was self-imposed. That put pressure on everybody to get it right the first time, and I had the utmost confidence in everyone's abilities and knowledge."
Also lending a hand on the project are several talented friends who shared Shepherd's enthusiasm for Goin' Home's back-to-basics concept. Those include fellow guitar icons Joe Walsh, Warren Haynes, Keb' Mo' and Robert Randolph, longtime friend Ringo Starr, Fabulous Thunderbirds frontman Kim Wilson, the Rebirth Brass Band and co-producer Blade's father, Pastor Brady Blade Sr., who lends a bracing dose of preaching to Shepherd's version of Bo Diddley's "You Can't Judge a Book by the Cover."

"Everybody who performed on the record shared my passion, appreciation and respect for this music, but they're also all good friends of mine," Shepherd notes. "It was all pretty casual; I'd just run into people and ask if they wanted to be a part of it, and every one of them contributed something significant to the record.

"I feel like I've matured a lot as a musician," Shepherd concludes. "My purpose for making music is the same as it ever was, but I've also learned a lot over the years. Less can be more. The great blues musicians who originally moved me didn't always have to burn up the neck of the guitar by playing a bunch of notes. They knew how to play the right note at the right time, in a way that just pierces you right to your heart. That was an important lesson, and it's my goal to move people in that same way that my role models moved me."

Find out more about Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band

1. Palace Of The King 3:46
2. Everything Gonna Be Alright 4:16
3. I Love The Life I Live 5:38
4. House Is Rockin’ 2:57
5. Breaking Up Somebody’s Home 4:59
6. You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now 8:02
7. You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover 3:26
8. Boogie Man 4:04
9. Looking Back 4:04
10. Cut You Loose 4:33
11. Born Under A Bad Sign 4:22
12. Still A Fool 7:28

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - May 19th, 2014 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Nathan East - "Nathan East" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group)
2 - 3 - Paul Taylor - "Tenacity" - (eOne)
3 - 2 - Chris Standring - "Don't Talk, Dance!" (Ultimate Vibe)
4 - 4 - Nick Colionne - "Influences" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
5 - 7 - Jeff Lorber Fusion - "Hacienda" - (Heads Up)
6 - 5 - Michael Lington - "Soul Appeal" - (Copenhagen Music)
7 - 6 - Boney James - "The Beat" - (Concord Jazz)
8 - 8 - Ken Navarro - "Ruby Lane" - (Positive Music Records)
9 - 9 - Down To The Bone - "Dig It" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
10 - 20 - Bob Baldwin - "Twenty" - (City Sketches)
11 - 11 - Jessy J - "Second Chances" - (Shanachie)
12 - 14 - Dave Koz & Friends - "Summer Horns" - (Concord/CMG)
13 - 10 - Keiko Matsui - "Soul Quest" - (Shanachie)
14 - 30 - Richard Smith - "Tangos" - (Chillharmonic Music)
15 - 13 - Brian Culbertson - "Another Long Night Out" - (BCM)
16 - 16 - Jumaane Smith - "I Only Have Eyes For You" - (Jumaane Smith Music)
17 - 12 - Vincent Ingala - "Can't Stop Now" - (
18 - 17 - Steve Cole - "Pulse" - (Artistry/Mack Ave.)
19 - 23 - Mindi Abair - "Wild Heart" - (Concord)
20 - 15 - Vandell Andrew - "Turn It Up" - (Vandell Music)
Our thanks to smoothjazz.comVisit to view the latest complete top 50 chart. Visit to view the latest weekly chart recap.
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Friday, May 16, 2014

Jonathan Butler - "Living My Dream" Release on Artistry Music June 24th, 2014 #jazz

South African singer-songwriter-guitarist Jonathan Butler is tending to his herb garden at his suburban Los Angeles home. Growing tomatoes, bell peppers, rosemary, sage and thyme, his new pastime that he says gives him “a new sense of heaven,” is part of a mindset he has cultivated that he has dubbed “the season of me.” The musical counterpart to this harvest season in the two-time Grammy® nominee’s life is Living My Dream, a bountiful feast of organically nurtured contemporary jazz instrumentals and soul-mined R&B vocal cuts—all original songs that he produced and tracked live in the House of Blues studio in Los Angeles.

“Each album is a page of your life and this is the season of Jonathan Butler, the season of me. It took years for me to be able to use the term ‘living my dream.’ I had to grow in my confidence and comfort and security first,” says Butler. “It’s one of those albums that I really didn’t think I had in me. I had been struggling, going through this emotional period. Last year was a transitional period. Once I got my wind and got back to a place of focus, it turned out to be the best experience for me. I had to be vulnerable to the songs. It was magical tracking the album and I felt surrounded by the positive vibes from everyone in the studio, especially [daughter] Jodie [Butler] and Dennis Dodd, Jr. They beat me up to write every day. They motivated and pushed me, and kept me focused. When others believe in you, it’s nothing to take lightly. Jodie and Dennis believed in me and I think we did something great on this album. I kept the production natural. These are all original compositions that came from the heart. It’s a classic Jonathan Butler album.”

Like Butler’s best material from a diverse, award-winning and chart-topping career that has spanned R&B, jazz, pop and gospel, Living My Dream provides an honest and revealing soulfully-inspired songbook probing the artist’s life and loves: God, family and his homeland. “It’s the story of my life and the newness of discovery. These really are the best years of my life. I consider all that has happened so that I may gain the knowledge of Christ. What I’m going through, what I’ve been through and what I will go through is going to make me better. It’s a healthy piece of my life. Forgetting all that is behind me and all that lies ahead, I press on,” shares Butler, who often references scripture in conversation.

The set opens with the instrumental “African Breeze,” the first radio single that was originally penned by Butler 30 years ago for The Jewel of the Nile soundtrack, a big Hollywood movie starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. “I wanted to redo it and make it a ‘now’ experience,” he says of the brisk, energetic African-hued dancer with the festive melody plucked on nylon string guitar.

The down-tempo title cut cruises an R&B groove highlighted by horn fills and a trademark electric guitar-vocal scat from Butler mid-tune. “I love the urban-ness. It’s old school with real urban grit. It’s about enjoying where I’m at in life. It’s a cool groove that really comes alive,” says Butler about the song he memorably debuted live last August at the iconic Hollywood Bowl with Jodie Butler singing background vocals.

Writing and recording the gorgeous meditative instrumental “Be Still” during George Duke’s final days taught Butler a lesson. “I went to hang with him and he took me into his wine cellar. We sat for four to five hours and George spoke the entire time. I didn’t even speak. He just opened up about family, our wives, faith and relationships. I had to remind him that I came to write a song with him. I picked up my guitar and the song came so easy and fast. George taught me to connect first as friends before making music. The song has a lot of emotion and was named for one of George’s favorite scriptures.”

Marcus Miller plays on “Be Still” as well as on the mid-tempo R&B instrumental “Let There Be Light,” which the legendary bassist-songwriter-producer wrote with Butler, who illuminates on nylon string guitar. Saxophonist Elan Trotman graces the track with soprano sax elegance. “I played him a few notes and Marcus just heard it all. The song is reminiscent of the Marcus Miller/David Sanborn collaborations.”

Butler wrote the R&B-pop confessional “Heart and Soul” in 20 minutes while tears flowed. “It blows my mind. It’s a true reflection, an apologetic love song. It’s the essence, the heart of where I was at the time. It’s a testimonial.”

Dodd, Jr. penned “Song For You,” which takes a bit of a different detour. The undeniably infectious R&B-pop tune has a shuffling beat infused with reggae nuances and Butler’s cool-toned electric guitar. “It’s a fun song and we threw in the horns just for fun. It adds a nice flavor to the record. It’s part of the unique story I’m trying to share with everybody. It’s not my song yet it affects me and tells part of my story. It connected with me and it’s different than what people would expect from me. I’d rather not make the same music over and over again.”

Butler speaks through a laidback electric guitar instrumental adorned with rousing, churchlike organ on “Catembe,” named for a place where he hopes to live one day in the Indian Ocean in Mozambique near Maputo.

An urban adult romancer, “Night To Remember” makes tantalizing electric guitar overtures amidst a vocal duet from Jonathan and Jodie Butler. “Jodie is pretty savvy as a songwriter. She has some amazing ideas. I’m proud of her.”

“All About Love” begins with an extended vocal and keyboard intro before a sophisticated R&B beat kicks in. “It talks about the family—this household—these women that I love so much,” reveals Butler, a dedicated family man.

Butler closes the session with a pair of poignant nylon string guitar instrumentals. The first composition Butler wrote for Living My Dream, “Sweet Serenade,” is a poetic beauty with drama underscored by a horn section. A solemn, bluesy offering that was written at sound check, “A Prayer” stirs the heavens with celestial vocal harmonization. “I’m fortunate to work with some of the best young Israeli musicians, including Davy Nathan, who plays keyboards with Babyface and Toni Braxton. I love the chant part that Jodie and I sang at the end. That’s where the prayer comes in.”
The youngest of 13 children, Butler grew up in destitute in Cape Town, South Africa, ruled by Apartheid and segregation. “I was born poor, but richly blessed with talent and the gift to make music,” he says. “I can’t dismiss where I’ve been or where I’ve come from. I’m a proud South African and I came from nothing.”

Butler began his singing career at age 7, releasing his first album in 1973 and winning the Best New Artist Grammy in South Africa the following year at age 12. He made history by being the first black artist played on white South African radio while earning three gold records (“Please Stay” went double gold and “I Love How You Love Me” went gold) in 1975 as he became a teenager.
More than a decade later, Butler moved to London, England after signing with Jive Records and released his first album internationally. The self-titled set went gold in 1987 in the United Kingdom and in the USA. He received Grammy nominations for Best R&B Song for his R&B-pop vocal hit “Lies” and for Best Jazz Song for the instrumental “Going Home.” His genre-busting material earned songwriter’s awards and received abundant airplay in multiple radio formats: pop, urban, contemporary jazz, adult contemporary and gospel. Butler’s 2004 album, Surrender, went gold in South Africa where he remains a superstar. “I don’t think I’ve ever really celebrated these moments in my life. I’ve spent my whole life taking care of people ever since I was seven. And I’m grateful, but this is the season of me.”

Butler is still taking care of people back home. Last fall, he launched the Jonathan Butler Foundation in his native country to fund music education programs that give children the purpose to overcome a life of drugs and poverty just as he did. The music and arts programs serving South African children ages 4-17 operate with the mission statement, “Purpose kills addiction.”

“I’m very proud that this is my legacy, giving back to people in South Africa. I’m happy to inspire these young kids and I’m extremely proud and encouraged about reclaiming our children from drug lords by teaching them how to sing and play instruments. The (South African) government has stepped in to find ways to progressively move and get more people involved. We’ve been in Pretoria and Johannesburg since we started and we’ll be launching in Cape Town in October. It’s so important to be in that city because it’s where I’m from,” explains Butler about the foundation that aims to launch a satellite component in the U.S. this year to increase assistance in South Africa.

Another aspect of Butler’s “season of me” is his blossoming love affair with golf. He’s only been playing slightly more than a year, but he’s smitten and plays almost daily, often with other musicians. “I’m not sure how golf took over, but it attached itself to me. I can go out on the golf course and have ‘guy time.’ I’m completely taken over by this little white ball. I’m so at peace and calm when I’m out there and so relaxed after playing, which I never thought would be the case since I’ve never been a sports guy. I wasn’t trying to find another passion, but it actually found me. Golf has become my saving grace and has given me a look inside me. I think it’s the freedom. It’s amazing how much it’s given me.”

In concert, Butler remains a captivating and powerful performer, pouring his heart into selections from his immense catalogue. In addition to being a popular draw at headline dates, festival shows and music cruises, Butler thrives on interacting with his fans. For the past 4 years, he has led a group of 35 guests each fall on the Jonathan Butler Safari, during which he shares his South Africa by visiting important landmarks in his life, as well as historic locales such as the prison on Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was jailed.

“I’ve come to a really good place in my life even if finding my way there was tough. I’m living my dream and it’s amazing what God is doing—seeing all these things through tears and pain. Seeing God place me in these extraordinary places and opportunities…if I couldn’t see it, I’d really be blind and faithless. I need to hold onto the love surrounding me. I had never really dropped my shoulders to embrace it. It took shedding my skin, realigning and readjusting myself as a person, honestly looking at how I can become a better person, which affects my family. We stood together through difficult periods and it taught me not to make too many allowances in life of which I had been making too many. It was a trying time and a difficult year emotionally and personally, but I did a lot of reflecting over the past two years and I’m in a good place,” summarizes Butler.

During an extraordinary musical life that has unfolded in the public eye, Butler has seen and endured a lot. He’s watched his country turn itself inside out for the better—much like he has done with his own life. Living and witnessing the brutalities and injustice of oppression as a celebrated child star while at the same time not permitted to enjoy basic human rights, indulgence naturally became his coping device. If not for a spiritual intervention, his light would have been extinguished long ago on the mercilessly dark path of abuse and self-destruction. His music has purpose, providing comfort and genuine inspiration. When he sings, he testifies to the glory and healing power of love. When he plays guitar, his fast fingers innately find notes of passion and divinity. Jonathan Butler’s recording career has carried him far, far beyond his wildest dreams. He’s living his dream and that is a blessing for us all.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - May 12th, 2014 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Nathan East - "Nathan East" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group)
2 - 2 - Chris Standring - "Don't Talk, Dance!" (Ultimate Vibe)
3 - 3 - Paul Taylor - "Tenacity" - (eOne)
4 - 4 - Nick Colionne - "Influences" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
5 - 7 - Michael Lington - "Soul Appeal" - (Copenhagen Music)
6 - 5 - Boney James - "The Beat" - (Concord Jazz)
7 - 6 - Jeff Lorber Fusion - "Hacienda" - (Heads Up)
8 - 9 - Ken Navarro - "Ruby Lane" - (Positive Music Records)
9 - 14 - Down To The Bone - "Dig It" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
10 - 8 - Keiko Matsui - "Soul Quest" - (Shanachie)
11 - 10 - Jessy J - "Second Chances" - (Shanachie)
12 - 12 - Vincent Ingala - "Can't Stop Now" - (
13 - 11 - Brian Culbertson - "Another Long Night Out" - (BCM)
14 - 17 - Dave Koz & Friends - "Summer Horns" - (Concord/CMG)
15 - 23 - Vandell Andrew - "Turn It Up" - (Vandell Music)
16 - 15 - Jumaane Smith - "I Only Have Eyes For You" - (Jumaane Smith Music)
17 - 13 - Steve Cole - "Pulse" - (Artistry/Mack Ave.)
18 - 16 - Citrus Sun - "People of Tomorrow" - (Dome)
19 - 18 - Pieces Of A Dream - "In The Moment" - (Shanachie)
20 - 28 - Bob Baldwin - "Twenty" - (City Sketches)
Our thanks to smoothjazz.comVisit to view the latest complete top 50 chart. Visit to view the latest weekly chart recap.
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Friday, May 09, 2014

Joe Beck - "Get Me Joe Beck" - Available Now On Whaling City Sound #jazz

 Famous Last Notes
A stunning musical epitaph from jazz guitar genius
Joe Beck

Certainly, “all things must pass,” as George Harrison said. “None of life’s strings can last.” And so it was back in 2008 that the brilliant guitarist Joe Beck strummed his last chords. His death at the age of 63 left a gaping hole in the world of jazz guitar, but also left an immense legacy. For that, at the very least, we are thankful.

Joe also left us this album, Get Me Joe Beck, by Joe Beck Trio, Recorded Live at Anna’s Jazz Island in Berkeley, California. Fans of Beck and great guitar are so lucky to have this; it’s an incredible post-script to a career that spanned decade after productive decade, and saw him accompany so many of the genre’s major stars.

But Get Me is more than just another Beck recording. It’s as if he knew he wouldn’t get too many more chances, and he had it in his mind that, perhaps, this time he’d really show everyone what he was all about. In the words of Neal Weiss, president of the Whaling City Sound label that released six CDs featuring Beck, it showcased the musician “playing for himself … a master artist plying his craft at the highest level and leaving it out there to be appreciated for what it is.”

And it is really something. Joined by the “sick” (Joe’s own words on the CD) rhythm section of Peter Barshay on bass and Dave Rokeach on drums, Beck is phenomenal. With simply the bass and drums behind him, he feels at liberty to explore different ideas, coursing across a vast spectrum of exhilarating passages, chordal explorations and single note journeys. Those who knew him as a talented chordal player, and he was, will enjoy Beck’s creative soloing, which is by turns gorgeous, bluesy, experimental, and evocative. It is unnecessary, really, to name them by song. Beck is masterful from the opening of this recording (“Stella By Starlight”) to the very end (“Georgia On My Mind.”) There are no exceptions.

The live recording, done in Berkeley, was beautifully captured by Adrian Wong and mixed and mastered by Dan Feiszli. It is punctuated by a few spoken word passages that give us some idea of Beck’s wry humor and his concise patter, the stuff that contributed to him being such a talented performer. In the words of John Abercrombie, a contributor to the liner notes and Joe’s good friend, “Joe Beck was, is, and will always be one of the greatest musicians to ever play this damned instrument called the guitar.” Not exactly faint praise from a fellow master, and words for us all to remember as we listen to the lovely last recordings of the legendary Joe Beck.

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Monday, May 05, 2014

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - May 5th, 2014 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Nathan East - "Nathan East" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group)
2 - 2 - Chris Standring - "Don't Talk, Dance!" (Ultimate Vibe)
3 - 4 - Paul Taylor - "Tenacity" - (eOne)
4 - 5 - Nick Colionne - "Influences" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
5 - 6 - Boney James - "The Beat" - (Concord Jazz)
6 - 8 - Jeff Lorber Fusion - "Hacienda" - (Heads Up)
7 - 7 - Michael Lington - "Soul Appeal" - (Copenhagen Music)
8 - 3 - Keiko Matsui - "Soul Quest" - (Shanachie)
9 - 13 - Ken Navarro - "Ruby Lane" - (Positive Music Records)
10 - 12 - Jessy J - "Second Chances" - (Shanachie)
11 - 9 - Brian Culbertson - "Another Long Night Out" - (BCM)
12 - 17 - Vincent Ingala - "Can't Stop Now" - (
13 - 10 - Steve Cole - "Pulse" - (Artistry/Mack Ave.)
14 - 14 - Down To The Bone - "Dig It" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
15 - 15 - Jumaane Smith - "I Only Have Eyes For You" - (Jumaane Smith Music)
16 - 16 - Citrus Sun - "People of Tomorrow" - (Dome)
17 - 19 - Dave Koz & Friends - "Summer Horns" - (Concord/CMG)
18 - 22 - Pieces Of A Dream - "In The Moment" - (Shanachie)
19 - 21 - Paolo Rustichelli - "Soul Italiano (Med Groove)" - (Next Age Music)
20 - 11 - Dianne Reeves - "Beautiful LIfe" - (Concord)
Our thanks to smoothjazz.comVisit to view the latest complete top 50 chart. Visit to view the latest weekly chart recap.
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Brian Culbertson and collaborate on “Another Long Night Out” contest #jazz

Kompoz artists to borrow elements from the hitmaker’s “Beautiful Liar” to create a brand new song

Jazz is collaborative by definition and contemporary jazz chart-topper Brian Culbertson is opening the door for users of the Kompoz site to utilize original tracks from his song “Beautiful Liar” as source material to create an entirely new song in a competition to be judged by the award-winning keyboardist, producer and songwriter behind 27 No.1 Billboard singles. The contest that started May 1 and runs through May 31, 2014 is the second collaboration between Culbertson and Kompoz, an online platform that enables crowd-sourced music creation globally.
Kompoz artists are tasked with creating a brand new song using the original tracks – including the evocative guitar solo etched by Steve Lukather (Toto) – while incorporating their own unique talents. Contestants may add vocals, keyboard solo, guitar riff, bass line, drum solo, horns — whatever they feel. Culbertson will select winners in three categories: Best Overall Collaboration, Best Collaboration with a new Kompoz member and Best Collaboration with 5 or more Kompoz members. Contest sponsors include; Roland Corporation, Boss, Lewitt Audio, Mogami Cables, IK Multimedia and Sony Creative Software.
A sweeping pop instrumental ballad, “Beautiful Liar” appears on Culbertson’s newly released, “Another Long Night Out,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Albums chart where it reigned for four weeks. It is Culbertson’s sixth album to debut at No. 1, his 14th album overall and the first released on the artist’s BCM Entertainment label. 
“Brian’s appetite for innovation dates back to his experimentation with early sequencers at the age of twelve. This contest will allow musicians and Brian’s fans to see how music can be created collaboratively online. Kompoz is very excited to have him join us again for the 'Another Long Night Out' collaboration contest. With Brian venturing out as an independent artist and Kompoz releasing a brand new platform, the timing is perfect to unite for another collaboration contest,” stated Kompoz Founder Raf Fiol.
Culbertson was a 20-year-old DePaul University music major when he wrote, produced and recorded “Long Night Out” 20 years ago, which he revisits and re-imagines on “Another Long Night Out.” The set features collaborations with many of the renowned contemporary jazz musicians that influenced and inspired him as he recorded the original on a shoestring budget. Instead of playing most of the instruments himself as he did on “Long Night Out,” this time out the contemporary jazz heavyweight was joined by Lukather, Lee Ritenour, Chuck Loeb, Eric Marienthal, Rick Braun, Russ Freeman, Jonathan Butler, Candy Dulfer, Patches Stewart, Will Kennedy, Jimmy Haslip, Paul Jackson Jr., Ray Parker Jr., Nathan East, Jeff Kashiwa, Ricky Peterson and a 33-piece orchestra playing arrangements by David Benoit and Culbertson. For more about Culbertson, please visit
About is an online platform for crowd-sourcing music creation - from song conception to recording, mixing, and publishing. Members span more than 120 countries and all 24 time zones. Working from their home studios—using Pro Tools, Logic, GarageBand, Sonar or any other digital audio recording software—Kompoz artists collaborate online to author new original music, uploading individual instrument tracks (e.g., guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, vocals, etc.) for projects covering all popular genres. Kompoz provides the platform to create songs with a bass player in Sweden, a drummer in Ohio and a guitar player in Kalamazoo. The world is your virtual on-demand recording studio. Visit for more information.

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Friday, May 02, 2014

Sam Rucker - “Tell You Something,” will be released June 3 #jazz

The challenge for instrumentalists is to create a unique “voice.” Saxophonist Sam Rucker ( makes himself standout from the bunch by tapping into his roots as a hip hop producer while incorporating his faith into his urban-jazz instrumentals. He preaches melodic messages of hope and inspiration on “Tell You Something,” his second album that will be released June 3 featuring contributions from R&B and contemporary jazz veterans Norman Connors, Bobby Lyle, Tom Browne and Alyson Williams on the disc mixed and mastered by Euge Groove. Order "Tell You Something" from

Rucker speaks through soprano, tenor and alto sax on “Tell You Something,” which he produced along with writing or co-writing eight songs. The gritty urban set is chock full of meaty hip hop beats with Rucker’s organic and improvisational horn work reflecting his proclivity for jazz. Lilting harmonies as well as a few cuts that include a vocal chorus uplift like powerful affirmations revealing the artist’s innate ability to connect and communicate with or without words.
The album is sandwiched by two versions of the title track – the first being entirely instrumental. Enlightened by a celestial vocal hook, the second take of “Tell You Something” is given the freedom to be an extended jazz jam nearly nine minutes long with Rucker bellowing through his tenor sax over a staccato beat. He revisits the classic party jam “Before I Left Go,” which parties just as hard presented as a festive instrumental that Rucker produced with Connors and includes the deft touch of keyboardist Lyle and surefire vocalist Williams. There’s an underlying message of divine gratitude on “A Million Ways” offered by Rucker’s gregarious alto sax over a rump-shaking beat with a vocal chorus. Rucker gives proper adieu on the lights-out co-production reboot of Connors’ signature tune “You Are My Starship” fortified by Browne’s classy trumpet. The first radio single, “Be True 2 Who U R” eases into the service before shaking the walls with a thundering soprano sax sermon. Hip hop heads can bounce along to “Ain’t Nothin’ Like It” that could keep the party raging and spotlights a fierce jazz guitar solo. Connors and Rucker combine again with the assistance of Williams on the timeless Isley Brothers’ “Footsteps in the Dark” adding a fresh spin just as seductive and satisfying as the original. On the stark street chronicler “Brighter Day,” Rucker wails on tenor sax and keyboards benefiting from the light of faith as sung in the hook. The radio-friendly “No Other Way” is one of many on the collection that beckon to be released as a single, serving as an apropos snap shot of Rucker’s original recipe: hip hop grooves + jazz melodies + a splash of inspiration. “Love’s Melody” issues sensuality along with the sentimentality of romance. Rucker’s compassionate soprano sax urgently guides the tale to salvation on “A Long Way to Go,” an engaging anthem of the streets wrought with tension.           

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