Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Jazz royalty “Open Up” “The Vault” to help departed friend’s family #jazz

New single from the late guitarist Jeff Golub debuts in the Billboard Top 20 ahead of Tuesday’s album release with sales benefitting The Golub family

  A few days prior to New Year’s Day, the day guitarist Jeff Golub passed away at age 59, his frequent collaborators Steven Miller, Rick Braun and Bud Harner put the finishing touches on Golub’s 13th solo album, “The Vault,” a collection of previously unreleased songs and reimagined early career gems that were redecorated with the assistance of some of the artist’s high-profile musician friends. Everyone involved with creating the album that was released today by eOne Music - musicians, producers, songwriters, engineers, mixers, mastering, graphic artists, etc. - donated their time to the project so that all of the money generated by record sales can go to Golub’s family.

One of the new cuts, “Open Up,” featuring the soulful Golub boisterously shredding over a trademark jazzy blues-rock groove produced by Jeff Lorber, debuted last week in the Top 20 of Billboard’s smooth jazz singles chart boding to become the next addition to the artist’s catalogue of No. 1 singles.  

“The Vault” is just the latest rallying of the music community to aid Golub, who succumbed to complications from Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), a rare, incurable and aggressive brain disease. Although he wasn’t officially diagnosed until last November, PSP stole his vision in the spring and summer of 2011. An all-star contingent played a sold-out benefit concert that autumn in Southern California to raise money to cover medical expenses. Golub’s motor skills rapidly began to deteriorate while touring in 2013 in support of his final set of all new material, “Train Keeps A Rolling,” and eventually left him unable to play his beloved instrument. After his passing, nearly two dozen prominent recording artists gathered January 21 near the guitarist’s New York City home to play a sold-out tribute benefit concert at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. Many of the musicians who appeared on that high-wattage bill perform on “The Vault,” including Dave Koz, Kirk Whalum, Mindi Abair, Richard Elliot, Bill Evans, Philippe Saisse, Steve Ferrone and Braun. Additional album contributors were hitmen Gerald Albright, Brian Culbertson, Euge Groove, Boney James and Peter White

The ten-track “The Vault” consists of vastly different versions of seven Golub songs harvested from seminal album releases that were given a fresh twist by the guest artists personally selected by Golub; a soul-stirring live version of the Golub classic “Naked City”; and two previously unreleased selections, “Open Up” and the Saisse-produced “Swagster,” a sweltering swing sparked by Golub’s scalding guitar and Whalum’s impassioned sax wails.      
To help set the stage for “The Vault,” SmoothJazz.com hosted the world premiere of the record on March 28 along with interviews with the guest artists and producers. Last Sunday’s (March 29) episode of Koz’s radio show that airs nationally on SiriusXM’s Watercolors was devoted to the album spotlighted by interview segments with Abair and Braun, and played multiple tunes from the disc. On April 15, SiriusXM’s Watercolors will broadcast the entire Golub all-star tribute concert.
Golub began his career as an ace guitar slinger alongside superstars Rod Stewart, Billy Squier, Peter Wolf and Tina Turner before launching his own chart-topping band, Avenue Blue, leading to his star-making solo career. The Akron, Ohio native is survived by his wife Audrey Stafford Golub, and sons Matthew (14) and Chris (12).

“The Vault” contains the following songs:
“Funky Is As Funky Does”
“One More Excuse To Play The Blues”
“Open Up”
“Gimmie Some”
“Keep The Ball Rolling”
“Jeff’s Blues (Mama Didn’t)”
“Atlanta Nights”
“Naked City” (Live)

For additional information about Golub, go to http://jeffgolub.com.

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2015 Seabreeze Jazz Festival® To Feature Grammy-Award Artists in Top Smooth Jazz Lineup #jazz

Smooth jazz and white sand beaches create an exciting "jazz getaway" in Panama City Beach, Fl set for April 22-26th featuring over 20 performances for the "Ultimate Weekend of Smooth Jazz"

Northwest Florida's stunning beaches and natural setting is paired with Grammy winners George Benson, David Sanborn, and Al Jarreau as the 17th Annual Seabreeze Jazz Festival® returns to Panama City Beach, Florida April 22-26th. The event has become an annual celebration for jazz-minded adults where the allure of great beaches, exciting shopping, and world-class restaurants all combine for a true vacation getaway.

Panama City Beach provides the perfect backdrop for the “ultimate” jazz beach weekend with the festival attracting attendees from 42 U.S. states and over seven countries, plus also being named “Top 10 Jazz Festival in the USA” by JazzIZ Magazine. Smooth jazz blowing gently in the coastal breezes is just one unique feature at one of the nation’s fastest growing “destination music festivals” on the Gulf Coast.

Artists to perform include Grammy winners George Benson, David Sanborn, and Al Jarreau – along with renowned musicians Brian Culbertson, The Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman, Euge Groove, BwB featuring Norman Brown, Kirk Whalum, and Rick Braun, Down To The Bone, The Sax Pack featuring Jeff Kashiwa, Steve Cole, and Kim Waters, Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers, Ken Ford, Acoustic Alchemy, Jazz Funk Soul featuring Chuck Loeb, Jeff Lorber, and Everette Harp, Chris Standring, Eric Darius, Four 80 East, Matt Marshak, Marcus Anderson, Josh Vietti, The Urban Jazz Coalition featuring Althea Rene, Rob Tardik, and Seabreeze Rising Star performer Ryan Montano.

Main performances will take place at the Aaron Beasant Park Amphitheater adjacent to Pier Park, with nightly After-Party All-Star Jam Shows at two venues at adjacent Pier Park. To further showcase the beauty of Panama City Beach, a Dinner and Lunch Smooth Jazz Cruise aboard “The Solaris” Dinner Yacht is set departing the Lighthouse Marina cruising picturesque St.Andrews Bay—each with a live jazz performance on board.

Smooth Jazz fans have a unique and intimate connection to the festival’s music and core artists base. The “smooth jazz lifestyle” is the secret to the success of The Seabreeze Jazz Festival® where the R & B based smooth contemporary jazz literally creates a synergy for the whole weekend. The licks of the funky bass lines and pop-friendly musical hooks keep the crowds moving to the beat, almost like the tempo of the swaying palm trees around beautiful Aaron Beasant Park Amphitheater at Pier Park.

Smooth jazz is the epitome of “The Good Life”; laid back yet upscale at the same time, relaxing and familiar as a pair of your most comfortable beach sandals. The audience consists of upscale college-educated professional adults, primarily 35-55 years old with high amounts of discretionary income. Some economists call this very desirable demographic group “The Alpha Baby Boomers” –attributing to the $14.2 million impact that the Seabreeze Jazz Festival® generates in the Northwest Florida economy.

The event hosts close to 28,000 for the weekend, with a large percentage of fans traveling hundreds if not thousands of miles away to attend. 60% of the festival’s tickets are sold outside the State of Florida, making it a true destination festival for the region.    The alluring appeal of Pier Park and the new resort-style architecture along with west end of Panama City Beach beckons even the most cosmopolitan city-dweller to join in on the fun, and get their toes in the sands.

“We are thrilled to partner, once again, with festival founders, Mark and Renee’ Carter and to sponsor this exciting event,” said Lino Maldonado, vice president of operations, Wyndham Vacation Rentals, Gulf Region—Presenting Sponsor of the event. “The Seabreeze Jazz Festival® continues to attract an international audience attended by guests from 42 states and 7 countries to Northwest Florida’s white sand beaches for the ultimate weekend of music. Our multi-year sponsorship agreement for the Seabreeze Jazz Festival® demonstrates our commitment to strengthening tourism in Panama City Beach and across Northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast.”

The venue's location is adjacent to Pier Park (a Simon Mall property) sporting over 160 retail stores, a 16-screen stadium-seating cinema, numerous eateries, nightclubs, even a small amusement park to pacify all of the family’s pastimes. The newly completed City Pier across the street from the festival stage and miles of white-sand beaches also provides a nearby escape from the live entertainment. That is, if you muster up enough to pull away from the star-studded contemporary jazz lineup.

The Seabreeze Jazz Festival® will make history in 2015 as the first event on the Gulf Coast to implement a new innovative RFID armband system from Intellitix for both entry and all festival purchases, essentially making the entire event both “ticketless” and “cashless”. In 2014, over 40 events in 10 countries have used this exciting new system. Fast Company Magazine recently named Intellitix as one of the “Top 10 Most Innovative Companies” for live events in 2014.

For the Seabreeze Jazz Festival, this new technology will take on a jazz theme as festival organizers will be calling the special wristbands “JazzBands”. The embedded RFID chip inside will not only act as the patron’s ticket for entry, but also their wallet for all purchases inside the venue. Attendees can either “load” funds via their credit card in advance of the event online, or on site with credit or cash at several jazz festival “Top Up” stations throughout the event. All it takes is a quick swipe for any purchase in front of a tablet-size screen, and fans are back to the music and smooth jazz fun, with easy access to their “JazzBand” account via their smartphone. Intellitix’s exciting new RFID armband system dramatically reduces time spent at entry gates as well as in queue lines for merchandise, food, and beverages. Any unspent funds on the wristbands are refunded back to the user’s credit card immediately following the event.

Beginning April 9th, jazz festival attendees can preload their "JazzBands" online via http://www.jazzbands.com and receive $5 of complimentary" JazzBucks" for every $100 pre-loaded before April 22nd.

Tickets are available for single and multi-day admission. Thursday only tickets are $90 each, Friday only tickets are $100 each, Saturday only tickets are $120 each, and Sunday only tickets are $100 each. Patrons save money on multi-day tickets with a Weekend Pass good for Friday-Sunday priced at $200, and the all-inclusive Four Day Pass $250 each for all performances Thursday through Sunday at the main stage.

In addition, a new reserved section called Gold Reserve is available for 2015. Gold Reserved seating includes on-site parking, early entry, fixed reserved seating behind the VIP section, dedicated air-conditioned restrooms, and four beverages per day. The Four Day Gold Reserve ticket is $450 each and limited. VIP Tickets and VIP Tables sold out for the event last summer.

In addition, tickets for nightly All-Star After Party Jam Shows, a dinner and lunch cruise, as well as a special Sax Pack CD Release Party are available online and limited.

To celebrate the conclusion of the jazz festival and to cap off the weekend of stellar entertainment, an All-Star After-Party Jam Show will be held on Sunday, April 26th beginning at 10:30pm at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville at Pier Park hosted by Four 80 East, Matt Marshak, Marcus Anderson and special guests. Admission is no charge and open to the public, with a full restaurant menu and bar available.

Seabreeze Jazz Festival® tickets are available by phone at 800-595-4849 or online at http://www.seabreezejazzfestival.com.

In addition, several local outlets offer single day and multi-day passes.
    Panama City Beach:    Florida House Fashions and Pompano Joe’s at Pier Park (cash and credit cards)
    Destin: ResortQuest Sales Office –Highway 98 across from Bass Pro Shops (cash and credit cards)
    Ft. Walton Beach: Playground Music Center – Eglin Parkway at Uptown Station (cash only)
    Pensacola:    Deluna Coffee Company –across from Pensacola State College (cash only)

Tickets with a military discount are available at the Tickets and Travel/MWR Offices at Tyndall Air Force Base, Panama City NSA, Eglin Air Force Base, The Pensacola Naval Air Station, and Fort Rucker.

The Seabreeze Jazz Festival® is again offering a complimentary Four-Day Pass (a $250 value) for each good used band instrument donated to the L.I.N.K.S. of Northwest Florida program. “Lonely Instruments for Needy Kids” is a local non-profit organization that takes previously used band instruments, provides the needed repairs, and then put them into the hands of needy kids whose families usually wouldn't be able to participate in local elementary, middle, or high school band. Last year, over 100 instruments were donated in return for jazz festival tickets and put into the hands of deserving music students in Northwest Florida. Playground Music Center in Ft. Walton Beach is collecting all the band instruments for the program. For more information, contact Tony Leonard at (850)-243-2514.

Special hotel accommodation packages are also available through the festival's supportive hotel sponsors. Presenting Sponsor and featured festival accommodations partner ResortQuest® By Wyndham Vacation Rentals is offering 10% off along with complimetary shuttle service from select Panama City Beach properties. Call 855-990-0087 and use group code “JAZ5” for reservations or see the entire listing of hotels and special offers

For a complete lineup, tickets, and schedule information go online to seabreezejazzfestival.com or check the weekly updates on Facebook.

General Admission seating is lawn seating so attendees need to bring a lawn chair or a blanket as event is festival seating. No coolers, outside food, or liquids allowed. An expanded food court area will be offered featuring a wide variety of food vendors including gourmet food trucks from all over the southeast. Bring an empty water or sports bottle for complimentary water inside the venue. Bottled water will be on sale inside the venue for $1 a bottle. A cash bar will be available inside the venue for beer and wine sales. See the website for a complete list of rules and additional restrictions.
The 2015 Seabreeze Jazz Festival® presented by ResortQuest® by Wyndham Vacation Rentals. Other sponsors include The Panama City Beach Visitor's and Convention Bureau, Pier Park, JazzRadio.com, Knology, Viamedia, Sterling Resorts, Counts-Oaks Resort Properties, Lake Town Wharf, Royal American Beach Getaways, The Panama City News Herald, The Northwest Florida Daily News, Epiphone Guitars, SoWal.com, Concord Music Group, and WSBZ Radio The Seabreeze 106.3FM.

Another Seabreeze Radio Smooth Jazz Concert Event.
GRAMMY® is a registered trademark of National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Inc.
Jazziz® is a registered trademark of The Jazziz Magazine, Inc.

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - March 30, 2015 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 2 - Marion Meadows - "Soul Traveler" - (Shanachie)
2 - 1 - Jonathan Fritzen - "Fritzenized" - (Nordic Night Records)
3 - 3 - Brian Culbertson - "Live-20th Anniversary Tour" - (BCM Entertainment)
4 - 4 - Brian Simpson - "Out Of A Dream" - (Shanachie)
5 - 5 - Peter White - "Smile" - (Heads Up/CMG)
6 - 8 - The Jazzmasters - "The Jazzmasters VII" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
7 - 14 - Rick Braun - "Can You Feel It" - (Artistry)
8 - 6 - Paolo Rustichelli - "Walking in Rome (Soul Italiano) - (Next Age Music)
9 - 10 - Cindy Bradley - "Bliss" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
10 - 7 - Kim Waters - "Silver Soul" - (Red River Entertainment)
11 - 17 - Gerald Albright - "Slam Dunk" - (Heads Up)
12 - 13 - Jazz Funk Soul - "Jazz Funk Soul" - (Heads Up)
13 - 15 - Nelson Rangell - "Red" - (Independent)
14 - 12 - Michael Lington - "Soul Appeal" - (Copenhagen Music)
15 - 16 - Al Jarreau - "My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke" - (Concord Music Group)
16 - 11 - Nathan East - "Nathan East" - (Yamaha Ent. Group)
17 - 9 - Richard Elliot - "Lip Service" - (Heads Up/CMG)
18 - 20 - Euge Groove - "Got 2 Be Groovin' (Shanachie)
19 - 18 - Kenny G - "Brazilian Nights" - (Concord)
20 - 23 - Mindi Abair - "Wild Heart" - (Concord)

Our thanks to smoothjazz.comVisit smoothjazz.com to view the latest complete top 50 chart. Visit smoothjazz.com to view the latest weekly chart recap.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Kevin Eubanks and Stanley Jordan “Duets” album · March 24, 2015 · Mack Avenue Records #jazz

Kevin Eubanks and Stanley Jordan on their first Duets record? Where’s the DVD of this momentous event? Released on March 24, 2015 with Mack Avenue Records, the 10-track album produced by both fusion guitarists is a gift.

Jordan — a fiend with his touch technique — expressed surprise in a video interview about the project with his friend Eubanks. “It ended up being more laidback and mellow than I thought it would be,” Jordan said, because some of the concepts initially were so upbeat.

A lot of that laidback and mellow stems from the guitarists’ similar gentle natures and organic approach to all their music. Naturally when they performed together, the songs followed suit. What’s also surprising is the kindness exuded through their music, whether it was a touching cover of “Summertime” they barely whispered on with tremendous tonal reflexes, or spontaneous originals they constructed on the fly, vibing easily off one another, showing colors in pastels (“Goin’ On Home,” “Morning Sun”), or locking in on the jazz-funk-blues of melody and percussive beats in an “Old School Jam.”

Soft, yet deep, that kindness showed through, amazing even the players. “This album fills a nice niche because it’s relaxing yet engaging,” Jordan explained in a DL Media release. “When you hear Kevin and me playing together, it’s all about the music and supporting each other. I just love the feel of it — it has a real sweetness. People who listen from their heart are really going to love this record as an antidote to the norm.”

The kindness comes naturally to both Jordan and his playing partner. Eubanks observed astutely that their playing styles invite open discourse rather than competition. “You get more out of the deal when people are involved with a willingness to make the whole thing bigger than ‘my part and your part.’ Together we’ve got this thing that’s bigger than anything we can do alone,” he continued in the release.

This true give-and-take doesn’t get any better than their version of Adele’s “Someone Like You,” a song about kindness, and nobility, in the face of loss. Eubanks embraces Jordan’s interest in covering contemporary artists’ hits, and Jordan, in turn, throws himself into the spontaneous act of composing in the moment, taking their time, meditating on each note, and floating a new style.

They pull out depth, if that’s possible, not previously vocalized on “Someone Like You.” On Adele’s version, the British singer carries the weight of the lyrics and the music softens each blow. Eubanks and Jordan fill in for the vocalist, add background “vocals” on their tones and textures, while intensifying the breadth of the musicality so that the song is neither an adult contemporary love song gone wrong or another atmospheric jazz tumbler.

They do that on everything, walking through various aspects of their favorite tunes, styles, and meditative approaches… a miraculous funky blues in a sweet, sweet death spiral for Miles Davis’ “Blue In Green,” an unctuous, electronically clandestine “Nature Boy,” a gospel groundswelling piano infusion of “A Child Is Born” by Thaddeus J. Jones.

That’s Kevin Eubanks on piano. “My mom played, my uncle Ray Bryant played and I grew up listening to piano, transcribing Oscar Peterson,” he explained in the release. “Guitar was my career. Piano was for relaxing. I enjoyed the freedom of not having to be good on piano, but I’m excited now to put myself out there on … ‘A Child Is Born,’ the first song that made me feel like I was really playing something years ago. It opened up a lot of things for me on piano.”

Duets is the album to put on when you’ve had a rough day, lost a job, lost a friend, lost a spouse, and feel as if life is just one long, hard commute. Kevin Eubanks and Stanley Jordan commit the ultimate act of kindness though, by offering a welcome musical retreat — fingertips away.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - March 23, 2015 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Jonathan Fritzen - "Fritzenized" - (Nordic Night Records)
2 - 2 - Marion Meadows - "Soul Traveler" - (Shanachie)
3 - 3 - Brian Culbertson - "Live-20th Anniversary Tour" - (BCM Entertainment)
4 - 5 - Brian Simpson - "Out Of A Dream" - (Shanachie)
5 - 4 - Peter White - "Smile" - (Heads Up/CMG)
6 - 9 - Paolo Rustichelli - "Walking in Rome (Soul Italiano) - (Next Age Music)
7 - 8 - Kim Waters - "Silver Soul" - (Red River Entertainment)
8 - 6 - The Jazzmasters - "The Jazzmasters VII" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
9 - 7 - Richard Elliot - "Lip Service" - (Heads Up/CMG)
10 - 13 - Cindy Bradley - "Bliss" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
11 - 19 - Nathan East - "Nathan East" - (Yamaha Ent. Group)
12 - 11 - Michael Lington - "Soul Appeal" - (Copenhagen Music)
13 - 16 - Jazz Funk Soul - "Jazz Funk Soul" - (Heads Up)
14 - 10 - Rick Braun - "Can You Feel It" - (Artistry)
15 - 18 - Nelson Rangell - "Red" - (Independent)
16 - 12 - Al Jarreau - "My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke" - (Concord Music Group)
17 - 14 - Gerald Albright - "Slam Dunk" - (Heads Up)
18 - 17 - Kenny G - "Brazilian Nights" - (Concord)
19 - 21 - Ben Tankard - "Full Tank 2.0" - (ben-jammin')
20 - 28 - Euge Groove - "Got 2 Be Groovin' (Shanachie)

Our thanks to smoothjazz.comVisit smoothjazz.com to view the latest complete top 50 chart. Visit smoothjazz.com to view the latest weekly chart recap.
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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Acclaimed Vocalist Lizz Wright Signs With Concord Music Group #jazz

Produced by Larry Klein, September 8, 2015 Concord debut
features collaborations with Klein, David Batteau, Maia Sharp,
J.D. Souther, Toshi Reagon and Jesse Harris

Concord Music Group is pleased to announce the signing of acclaimed vocalist Lizz Wright. Wright is currently recording in Los Angeles on what will be her first album since 2010’s critically lauded Fellowship. The as-yet-untitled album is scheduled for release on September 8, 2015.
Hailed by the Chicago Tribune as a “vocalist of substance more devoted to song than to image,” Wright possesses a remarkable ability to sing in multiple styles, including soul, jazz and gospel. Produced by Larry Klein, her Concord debut will feature a mix of cover songs along with collaborations with such noted songwriters as Klein, David Batteau, Maia Sharp, J.D. Souther, Toshi Reagon and Jesse Harris.
“Lizz is an extraordinary artist and we are very proud to welcome her to the Concord family,” said Mark Wexler, General Manager/Senior Vice President, Concord-Telarc Group. “We all look forward to working with her in this next chapter of her ever-evolving career."
Known for topping the jazz charts, Wright is far from most people's idea of a traditional jazz singer. She grew up in Georgia and began singing gospel music at a young age, thanks to her father, a pianist and musical director at the local church. She has been the recipient of nonstop critical acclaim and ever-increasing audiences ever since her Verve debut, Salt, in 2003. Dreaming Wide Awake followed in June 2005. Wright released her third album, The Orchard, in 2008. In 2010, Wright returned with Fellowship, featuring guest performances from bassist Meshell Ndegeocello and vocalist Angélique Kidjo.
Lizz Wright web: http://www.lizzwright.net/

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Eliane Elias - "Made In Brazil" - Releases March 31st on Concord Records #jazz


March 31st release features Take 6, guitarist/vocalist Roberto Menescal and vocalists Mark Kibble and Ed Motta, with seven orchestral arrangements by Rob Mathes recorded at Abbey Road Studios

Eliane Elias’ Made in Brazil, scheduled for release on March 31, 2015 on Concord Jazz, marks a musical homecoming for the multi-GRAMMY®-nominated pianist/keyboardist/singer/composer. In her three-decade long career as a solo artist, Made in Brazil results from the first time she’s recorded a disc in her native Brazil since moving to the United States in 1981.

Elias wears many hats on this project as producer, composer, lyricist, arranger, pianist and vocalist. “I am completely immersed and involved in every single detail of the music and the recording process, from the birth of an idea until its completion through every aspect of the production until it reaches the public,” she explains.

Along with co-producers, Steve Rodby and Marc Johnson, her bass playing musical partner, Elias ventured ‘home’ and recruited a splendid cast of Brazilian musicians that include electric bassist Marcelo Mariano; guitarists Marcus Teixeira and Roberto Menescal; drummers Edu Ribeiro and Rafael Barata; and percussionists Mauro Refosco and Marivaldo dos Santos.

Elias peppered the sessions with delightful special guest performances from Mark Kibble and the multi-GRAMMY® Award-winning gospel vocal group Take 6; her singer/songwriter-daughter Amanda Brecker; one of Brazil’s most celebrated R&B stars, Ed Motta; and the distinguished bossa nova composer Roberto Menescal.

Elias also invited Rob Mathes to handle orchestral arrangements on seven of the 12 tracks, which were recorded in London at the legendary Abbey Road Studios. “It’s so touching to hear the music unfold,” she says of the orchestral arrangements after they were overdubbed onto the São Paulo sessions. “You can see the musical notes on paper, but it’s something else to hear them realized and performed by members of the London Symphonic Orchestra.”

In terms of material, Made in Brazil contains six Elias originals plus two Ary Barroso standards, two Roberto Menescal chestnuts, and two Antônio Carlos Jobim world-renowned gems. Elias, who did all the arrangements for the basic tracks, said that she purposely wanted Made in Brazil to incorporate three generations of Brazilian composers. “But it’s not a retro record,” she clarifies. “It’s very contemporary yet with the tradition and authenticity of Brazil; it’s music of the world with Brazilian DNA.”

Indeed, Made in Brazil’s pulsating bossa nova and samba rhythms, transfixing harmonies and sensual lyrics, accentuated by Elias’ own captivating vocals and incredible pianistic acumen, will surely become a 21st-century Brazilian classic. Elias frames the disc with two Barroso gems – “Brasil (Aquarela do Brasil)” and “No Tabuleiro da Baiana.”

“Brasil,” penned in 1939, “is a Brazilian anthem,” enthuses Elias. “It’s reported to be the most preferred Brazilian song of the last 100 years. It’s about the beautiful things of our country, the Brazilian Brazil; its natural beauty, mixed ethnic cultures and the samba.” Here she accentuates the composition with a suspenseful diaphanous string arrangement, whereas Elias and the band concoct an intoxicating, lithe groove. Atop of the infectious samba rhythm, Elias graces the proceeding with a glowing Fender Rhodes accompaniment, which later unfolds into a joyous and rhythmic solo.

Barroso wrote “No Tabuleiro da Baiana,” in 1936, which was made famous by singer Carmen Miranda. Through the song’s theme about a tabuleiro, a tray filled with edible treats typical of Bahia, Elias says that her rendition allows her to share her affection for that particular Brazilian state. “I love the culture; I love the people; I love the music; and I love the food,” Elias says.” I’ve been in love with Bahia all my life.” On her delightful rendition, Elias hammers the samba with harder, percussive accents via her vivacious piano playing inside some hip-swerving inducing accompaniment while her dexterous vocal rides and swings on top.

On “Você” and “Rio,” Elias invites the songs’ composer, Roberto Menescal, to accompany on guitar. On “Você,” the two sound like lovebirds on the 1963 bossa nova hit as they croon the romantic lyrics while the string arrangement sweeps them afloat. Elias’ impeccable piano accompaniment and sparkling improvisation provide the perfect musical trimming.

On “Rio,” which also dates back to 1963, Elias retains the same lineup as she sings the song’s elegant lyrics about the beauty of a seaside landscape while creating beautiful modulations and colors through her harmonies. “It was special to have the composer be a guest,” Elias says of her collaboration with Menescal. “We shared some very tender moments.”

As a bonus track, Elias delivers a rapturous makeover of Menescal’s most beloved composition, “Little Boat (O Barquinho),” yet another aquatic-themed showcase for Elias’ incredible musical rapport with Johnson and Barata. Elias’ ingenious arrangement at times evokes the motion of a boat floating and moving through waves.

Regarding Jobim, Elias performs his epochal “Águas de Março (Waters of March),” which she notes is the most covered Brazilian tune in the world.” Through the song’s picturesque, stream-of-consciousness lyrics, Elias puts a new spin on the song’s allure with her R&B-inflected mid-tempo arrangement, and by inviting Take 6 to sing with her. Elias’ arrangement is a completely fresh take on the song, and her vocals combined with Take 6 are splendid.  “Ironically, when Jobim wrote this song in 1972, he thought he had reached the end of his career,” Elias explains. “The lyrics talk about being at the end of the road, about being alone, but the song’s message ultimately is optimistic and carries hope.”

Elias’ other revisit of Jobim’s music on Made in Brazil illustrates her capricious yet musical ingenuity. She delivers a sublime mashup of Jobim’s “Este Seu Olhar” and “Promessas.” Accompanied by Johnson, Teixeira and Ribeiro, this elegant rendition works splendidly as Elias delivers a heartfelt interpretation of the songs. Elias notes that the chord sequence of both compositions is the same and both melodies can be sung together simultaneously. 

Whereas the aforementioned compositions display Elias’ mastery at arranging and interpreting Brazilian standards, other songs on Made in Brazil show her deft musicianship as a composer and lyricist. Draped with a gorgeous string arrangement, the yearning “Searching” puts Elias’ enchanting singing and piano playing squarely in the center as she coos the romantic lyrics about the affairs of the heart.  This song evokes the timeless quality of a Frank Sinatra standard.

Elias picks up the tempo slightly on the effervescent “Some Enchanted Place,” which contains poetic, optimistic lyrics and features guest vocals from her daughter Amanda Brecker.

Vocalist Mark Kibble, Take 6’s main arranger, sings with Elias on “Incendiando” and “Driving Ambition.”  On “Incendiando” the stellar performances of Elias and Kibble heighten the romantic and sexual tension revealed in the song.

“Driving Ambition” equally simmers with an erotic charge, thanks to the song’s titillating automobile metaphors and the sauntering bossa nova/Latin blend of rhythms. Kibble’s background vocals are sonic brush strokes of imagery perfectly complementing the seductive vocals by Elias.

The poetic pop/R&B ballad “Vida” features the prominent Brazilian R&B singer Ed Motta. Elias and Motta portray characters in a musical drama. Elias’ character describes what a woman wants in a romantic partner and Motta responds to her as the man she is looking for.

Amidst a magnificent string arrangement, Elias’ gorgeous composition “A Sorte do Amor (The Luck of Love)” is a comely piano and bass duet between her and Johnson that belies an empathic relationship built upon years spent together. Elias explains, “The lyrics are a bit ironic. They describe a love so incredibly intense, it takes away one’s sleep and peace of mind.”

Elias’ songs and lyrics on Made in Brazil  reveal the skills of a great songwriter. The intelligent, sensitive lyrics, beautiful melodies and rich, touching harmonies evoke some of the great songs of the 20th century and give continuity to the line of famous Brazilian composers. This album establishes Elias once and for all as one of Brazil’s most eminent musical artists.

“When I write lyrics, I am inclined to talk about feelings, wishes of the heart and life situations,” Elias says. “Aspects of love – being in a relationship; the search for the right person; the search for happiness; romance; and the desires of our hearts, while I amplify these ideas and bring another depth to the message with the melodies and harmonies.”

Listening to Made in Brazil and diving into Elias’ originals and fetching interpretations of Brazilian classics will surely delight and fill your heart and ears with soul-stirring joy.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Pieces of a Dream’s James Lloyd provides a “Granted Wish” #jazz

“Now feels like the right time for many reasons,” confesses pianist James Lloyd, a legend on the contemporary jazz scene, about the timing of his Shanachie Entertainment debut CD, Here We Go.   The celebrated pianist shares, “I just turned 50 and realized that each day is a blessing.  Tomorrow is not promised to any of us, finishing the rest of this sentence isn't even promised.  Recording my first solo album is something I wanted to complete while I'm still here.”  For fans of contemporary jazz, James Lloyd is no stranger.  He is a pioneering member of the groundbreaking band Pieces of a Dream.

“Now feels like the right time for many reasons,” confesses pianist James Lloyd, a legend on the contemporary jazz scene, about the timing of his Shanachie Entertainment debut CD, Here We Go.   The celebrated pianist shares, “I just turned 50 and realized that each day is a blessing.  Tomorrow is not promised to any of us, finishing the rest of this sentence isn't even promised.  Recording my first solo album is something I wanted to complete while I'm still here.”  For fans of contemporary jazz, James Lloyd is no stranger.  He is a pioneering member of the groundbreaking band Pieces of a Dream.

A long time in the making and a labor of love, the creation of Here We Go has been a revealing and positive personal journey for James Lloyd.  “I want my fans to hear this CD and experience everything I felt in the process of making this music -the joy, sorrow, hope, reflection, reckless abandon, fun and peace.”

“Music has to breathe. Sometimes space is better than any note you could've played,” states James Lloyd, who puts this practice to the test on Here We Go on such memorable ballads as the tender “Granted Wish,” which was penned for James’ wife.  “I began this song about twelve years ago and Teresa would often ask me to finish it.  One day, I actually did.  Here it is!” 

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Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - March 16, 2015 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Jonathan Fritzen - "Fritzenized" - (Nordic Night Records)
2 - 2 - Marion Meadows - "Soul Traveler" - (Shanachie)
3 - 4 - Brian Culbertson - "Live-20th Anniversary Tour" - (BCM Entertainment)
4 - 3 - Peter White - "Smile" - (Heads Up/CMG)
5 - 8 - Brian Simpson - "Out Of A Dream" - (Shanachie)
6 - 5 - The Jazzmasters - "The Jazzmasters VII" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
7 - 6 - Richard Elliot - "Lip Service" - (Heads Up/CMG)
8 - 12 - Kim Waters - "Silver Soul" - (Red River Entertainment)
9 - 11 - Paolo Rustichelli - "Walking in Rome (Soul Italiano) - (Next Age Music)
10 - 7 - Rick Braun - "Can You Feel It" - (Artistry)
11 - 9 - Michael Lington - "Soul Appeal" - (Copenhagen Music)
12 - 15 - Al Jarreau - "My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke" - (Concord Music Group)
13 - 22 - Cindy Bradley - "Bliss" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
14 - 13 - Gerald Albright - "Slam Dunk" - (Heads Up)
15 - 10 - Jonathan Butler - "Living My Dream" - (Artistry/Mack Ave.)
16 - 14 - Jazz Funk Soul - "Jazz Funk Soul" - (Heads Up)
17 - 17 - Kenny G - "Brazilian Nights" - (Concord)
18 - 26 - Nelson Rangell - "Red" - (Independent)
19 - 18 - Nathan East - "Nathan East" - (Yamaha Ent. Group)
20 - 21 - Al Degregoris - "All In Good Time" - (A-Pex REcordings Int'l)

Our thanks to smoothjazz.comVisit smoothjazz.com to view the latest complete top 50 chart. Visit smoothjazz.com to view the latest weekly chart recap.
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Blake Aaron spins soulful guitar tales on “Soul Stories,” coming May 5 #jazz

"Wes Side Story” bodes to be the fourth single from the set to enter the Billboard Top 10.
Guitarist Blake Aaron utilized an unconventional approach when constructing his fifth album, “Soul Stories,” which will be released May 5 by Innervision Records. To maintain his presence on radio and in the marketplace while juggling a busy schedule as a first-call session player, featured sideman and in-demand producer, he issued a variety of singles with three cuts – the retro funk-disco energizer “Groove-O-Matic,” the urbane romantic duet with jazz crooner Spencer Day entitled “You’re the One for Me” and the salsa-singed “Encantadora” featuring Najee on flute - entering the Billboard Top 10. The ten-track “Soul Stories,” Aaron’s first collection that is entirely self-produced, contains eight original tunes authored by the artist.     

Saluting one of his hallmark influences, Aaron embodies seminal jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery on the aptly-titled “Wes Side Story,” an evocative selection that will be serviced to radio stations for playlist adds beginning April 6. 

Weaving engaging narratives told through a triad of guitar voices, Aaron’s “Soul Stories” unfolds amidst a varied backdrop of contemporary jazz, R&B, Latin and funk settings. He approaches his compositions as a storyteller and elects to feature a different guitar – cool jazz electric, gentle acoustic or emotional nylon string – as the protagonist of each musical vignette. Often Aaron provides a counterpoint by waging an expressive discourse using interpretive play between multiple guitars on the same song. Whether emoting on brisk radio-friendly jaunts or taking his time to elaborate on expansive improvised jams, Aaron’s inspired fret work is crisp, clear, lyrical and skillfully performed with passion and precision.     
“As with my live performances, I like to make all of my records as if they are movies with all the emotional ups and downs, as if I am taking the listener through a story or a musical landscape. On ‘Soul Stories,’ I wanted to try to tell compelling musical stories - some with words, but most without. Many artists like to focus on one trademark sound, but I prefer using different modes of expression because that’s really who I am. It keeps the albums fresh and allows for more spontaneity onstage,” said Aaron who recently previewed the album at a sold-out gig at Spaghettini south of Los Angeles. “It’s the most expressive album I’ve ever made as an artist representing the many different facets of the music I love and who I am creatively. There’s literally every part of me on this CD – my heart, blood and sweat. It’s all on this record.”
The musicians who helped Aaron illustrate “Soul Stories” were vocalist Derek Bordeaux, keyboardists Tom Zink, Rob Mullins and Lew Laing; bassists Hussain Jiffry and Melvin Davis; strings arranger and keyboardist Mike Whittaker; strings arranger and label mate Craig Sharmat; percussionist Ronnie Gutierrez, and drummers Ricky Lawson and Winston Butts.
Another creative outlet occupying Aaron’s time is his weekly “Blake Aaron Live with Tina Anderson,” a nationally-syndicated radio show airing in markets including California, New York, Florida, Arizona and on Urban Soul Radio. Over the years, Aaron has hosted, interviewed and played with a galaxy of the brightest stars in contemporary jazz, adult contemporary and pop on the radio program. The Southern California-based recording artist debuted with 2002’s “With Every Touch” that offers collaborations with David Benoit and Eric Marienthal. Subsequent releases – “Bringin’ It Back,” “Desire” and “A Romantic Christmas” – garnered airplay and chart action while frequent appearances on the concert circuit enhanced his national profile. In other media, Aaron held a 14-year-stint as the guitarist and theme song co-composer for “MAD TV” along with more than a dozen films and television series the likes of which include “The Ben Stiller Show,” “Super Dave Osborne” and “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment.” For more information, please visit www.BlakeAaron.com.       

“Soul Stories” is comprised of the following songs:
“Wes Side Story”
“Sol Amor”
“You’re the One for Me”
“Story of the Blues”
“Sara Smile”
“Story of My Life”
“You’re My Miracle”

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mark Knopfler’s ‘Tracker’ coming March 16th/17th

Mark Knopfler’s eighth studio album, Tracker, will be released on March 16, 2015 (March 17 in North America). The album features 11 new songs inspired by a wide range of subjects including Beryl Bainbridge and Basil Bunting. The songs contain Mark’s usual wryly but accurately observed vignettes of real life wrapped up in a musical accompaniment of distinctive subtlety.

Tracker will be available on CD, double vinyl, deluxe CD with four bonus tracks, and a lavish box set that will include the album on both CD and vinyl with a bonus CD featuring six extra tracks, a DVD with an exclusive short film directed by Henrik Hansen and an interview with Mark where he talks about the new record. Sleeve notes have been specially written by acclaimed US author Richard Ford and it also contains a numbered art print and six photographic prints.

Mark said: “The album title ‘Tracker’ arrived out of me trying to find my way over the decades. Out of me tracking time – looking at people, places and things from my past, and out of the process of tracking as in recording tracks in the studio.”
See below for the official track-listing and click here to listen to the first single, “Beryl”. Keep an eye on your inbox in the coming weeks for MarkKnopfler.com pre-order information.

1. Laughs and Jokes and Drinks and Smokes
2. Basil
3. River Towns
4. Skydiver
5. Mighty Man
6. Broken Bones
7. Long Cool Girl
8. Lights of Taormina
9. Silver Eagle
10. Beryl
11. Wherever I Go (featuring Ruth Moody)

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Monday, March 09, 2015

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - March 9, 2015 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 3 - Jonathan Fritzen - "Fritzenized" - (Nordic Night Records)
2 - 2 - Marion Meadows - "Soul Traveler" - (Shanachie)
3 - 1 - Peter White - "Smile" - (Heads Up/CMG)
4 - 4 - Brian Culbertson - "Live-20th Anniversary Tour" - (BCM Entertainment)
5 - 7 - The Jazzmasters - "The Jazzmasters VII" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
6 - 5 - Richard Elliot - "Lip Service" - (Heads Up/CMG)
7 - 8 - Rick Braun - "Can You Feel It" - (Artistry)
8 - 12 - Brian Simpson - "Out Of A Dream" - (Shanachie)
9 - 9 - Michael Lington - "Soul Appeal" - (Copenhagen Music)
10 - 6 - Jonathan Butler - "Living My Dream" - (Artistry/Mack Ave.)
11 - 18 - Paolo Rustichelli - "Walking in Rome (Soul Italiano) - (Next Age Music)
12 - 10 - Kim Waters - "Silver Soul" - (Red River Entertainment)
13 - 17 - Gerald Albright - "Slam Dunk" - (Heads Up)
14 - 32 - Jazz Funk Soul - "Jazz Funk Soul" - (Heads Up)
15 - 15 - Al Jarreau - "My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke" - (Concord Music Group)
16 - 11 - Eric Darius - "Retro Forward" - (Shanachie)
17 - 13 - Kenny G - "Brazilian Nights" - (Concord)
18 - 14 - Nathan East - "Nathan East" - (Yamaha Ent. Group)
19 - 23 - Mindi Abair - "Wild Heart" - (Concord Music Group)
20 - 16 - Nick Colionne - "Influences" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)

Our thanks to smoothjazz.comVisit smoothjazz.com to view the latest complete top 50 chart. Visit smoothjazz.com to view the latest weekly chart recap.
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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - March 2, 2015 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Peter White - "Smile" - (Heads Up/CMG)
2 - 2 - Marion Meadows - "Soul Traveler" - (Shanachie)
3 - 3 - Jonathan Fritzen - "Fritzenized" - (Nordic Night Records)
4 - 7 - Brian Culbertson - "Live-20th Anniversary Tour" - (BCM Entertainment)
5 - 6 - Richard Elliot - "Lip Service" - (Heads Up/CMG)
6 - 4 - Jonathan Butler - "Living My Dream" - (Artistry/Mack Ave.)
7 - 10 - The Jazzmasters - "The Jazzmasters VII" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
8 - 5 - Rick Braun - "Can You Feel It" - (Artistry)
9 - 8 - Michael Lington - "Soul Appeal" - (Copenhagen Music)
10 - 11 - Kim Waters - "Silver Soul" - (Red River Entertainment)
11 - 9 - Eric Darius - "Retro Forward" - (Shanachie)
12 - 17 - Brian Simpson - "Out Of A Dream" - (Shanachie)
13 - 18 - Kenny G - "Brazilian Nights" - (Concord)
14 - 16 - Nathan East - "Nathan East" - (Yamaha Ent. Group)
15 - 12 - Al Jarreau - "My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke" - (Concord Music Group)
16 - 13 - Nick Colionne - "Influences" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
17 - 15 - Gerald Albright - "Slam Dunk" - (Heads Up)
18 - 19 - Paolo Rustichelli - "Walking in Rome (Soul Italiano) - (Next Age Music)
19 - 21 - The Rippingtons - "Fountain Of Youth" - (Peak/eOne)
20 - 22 - Bennett B - "Get On Up (Remix)[Groove Time] - (Baton Records)

Our thanks to smoothjazz.comVisit smoothjazz.com to view the latest complete top 50 chart. Visit smoothjazz.com to view the latest weekly chart recap.
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