Monday, April 27, 2015

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - April 27, 2015 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Jonathan Fritzen - "Fritzenized" - (Nordic Night Records)
2 - 3 - Brian Simpson - "Out Of A Dream" - (Shanachie)
3 - 2 - Marion Meadows - "Soul Traveler" - (Shanachie)
4 - 7 - Brian Culbertson - "Live-20th Anniversary Tour" - (BCM Entertainment)
5 - 4 - Rick Braun - "Can You Feel It" - (Artistry)
6 - 5 - Nelson Rangell - "Red" - (Independent)
7 - 9 - Cindy Bradley - "Bliss" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
8 - 14 - Jeff Golub - "The Vault" - (eOne Music)
9 - 13 - Boney James - "Futuresoul" - (Concord)
10 - 12 - Jazz Funk Soul - "Jazz Funk Soul" - (Heads Up)
11 - 8 - Kim Waters - "Silver Soul" - (Red River Entertainment)
12 - 11 - Peter White - "Smile" - (Heads Up/CMG)
13 - 10 - The Jazzmasters - "The Jazzmasters VII" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
14 - 6 - Paolo Rustichelli - "Walking in Rome (Soul Italiano) - (Next Age Music)
15 - 16 - Euge Groove - "Got 2 Be Groovin' (Shanachie)
16 - 15 - Ben Tankard - "Full Tank 2.0" - (ben-jammin')
17 - 19 - James Lloyd - "Here We Go" - (Shanachie)
18 - 18 - Nathan East - "Nathan East" - (Yamaha Ent. Group)
19 - 22 - Julian Vaughn - "Limitless" - (
20 - 17 - Gerald Albright - "Slam Dunk" - (Heads Up)

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, April 24, 2015

Bluey - "Life Between The Notes" - Release on Shanachie #jazz


Shanachie Entertainment is thrilled to be releasing Life Between The Notes from pioneering and ground-breaking UK groove-master Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick on April 28, 2015. The creative force behind Incognito, the preeminent funk/jazz/soul/dance outfit in the world, Bluey pioneered the ‘acid jazz’ movement and laid down the blueprint for the neo-soul scene to follow. At a time when drum machines and sampling dominated the airwaves, Bluey and Incognito reminded us of the sheer beauty of the human soul and instrumental virtuosity. They scored hits with versions of Stevie Wonder’s “Don't You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” and Ronnie Laws’ “Always There,” selling more than a million records in the process! As a producer, songwriter and musician, Bluey has collaborated with a who’s who list in music including James Brown, Stevie Wonder, George Benson, Chaka Khan, R. Kelly, Leon Ware, George Duke, Phillip Bailey, Steve Gadd, Maxi Priest and countless others.

Now in his third decade of effortlessly churning out mind-blowing and chart-topping hits, vocalist and guitarist Bluey releases his highly anticipated second solo album Life Between The Notes.

Bluey Shares His Inspiration Behind the Music on Life Between The Notes
This second solo album has a Jazz undertow that has taken me in some new directions and may surprise some folks out there. The title and inspiration for much of the writing on this record comes from the fact that all the events in my life outside music has had to compete with huge chunks of my time lost in my world of music. Good or bad, for better for worse, it’s the truth! Being my partner, my friend or my offspring would not have always been easy due to my one-track musical mind. Nowadays there is more balance in my life than ever before, and as the musical journey continues, I find myself using my creative spirit and my fame for the greater good of humanity. With more than 38 years in the music business, travelling the globe living my dream comes a positive retrospective.

So on to the album…From the off “Dance To My Drums” is a celebration of my individuality and a call to the world to find and bring that, which is their own. Where is your rhythm? Play me your beats… Show me your dance!

 On “Life Between The Notes,” co-written by my main musical collaborator Richard Bull, I quote my record collection. The songs that have fanned the flame of this long musical journey that seems to be gathering pace when everything around me seems to be slowing down.

  I love me a slice of electronic dance and when that time came I could not think of anyone who does it better than Ski Oakenfull. Our song “Hold On” is about the times when I lost my way and the voices of reason that I was fortunate to have around me at various stages of my life. I am looking forward to seeing the dancers groove to this.

A while back I toured with Leon Ware and keyboardist Dan Goldman A.K.A. JD73. I was so taken by his approach, that it was only a question of time before we did something together. “Saints and Sinners” is a perfect blend of our creativity with his chord structures and incredible sounds allowing me tons of space to explore. The song is an attempt to make sense of the lack of empathy that exists worldwide in these trying times! I tapped into that bountiful world of music that I’ve grown with using quotes and musings that sheds light on the way that things should and could be. JD’s piano solo wraps it all up in a way that words cannot say!

“Trippin’ On This Feelin’” is the first track to hint at the percussive jazz direction that will follow as the album proceeds. Trippy electronics run adjacent to the mixture of electric and acoustic pianos from my Incognito partner Matt Cooper creating a sense of other worldly excursion to compliment the intimate encounter portrayed in the lyrics. The subject of love making can be crass when put into song, I hope that we’ve achieved it in a romantic sensual way.

On “I’ve Got A Weakness For Your Love,” I am once again acknowledging how falling in love with someone can
smooth out the edges in a man. Surrender is not always submissive, and at times can lead to a better understanding! I
was supposed to sing this song all in falsetto, but a serious cough put pay to that. But I liked the result so much that I
never went back to the original vibe.

“Tomorrow Never Lies” is a song of hope. My life journeys and the hatred and destruction on our planet urges me to
plant seeds in the minds of our youth, those with their lives still ahead of them and their dreams and aspirations still to
be fulfilled. For them more than ever, tomorrow is everything and we who have a voice and have a choice, must ensure
that we are doing everything possible to ensure that they have a future!

The Jazz adventure continues with more of the Latin overtones that I experienced whilst staying in New York in the mid
90s. Like many of my songs, the lyrics are from a diary that I kept during that period. For “Columbus Avenue,” I just
had to cast my mind back to the sounds, smells and flavours that accompanied my adventures. It’s a depiction of a day
that concludes with one of my summertime shows with Incognito in the big apple. I had met Matt for the first time in
this period as we both signed for Verve Records, so his total understanding and feeling for the music and vibes of the
city helped me to create the perfect soundtrack for the story to be told.

“Caught Up In The Grey” is about that low feeling that can often escalate into depression. When I am on the road, many people share their stories with me and I can sometimes bring hope and clarity to those going through some tough situations by just letting them know that I understand them and that these emotions are not unique to anyone of us. When they realise that I have gone through similar situations they become optimistic and start to feel that there may be light ahead. I am grateful that my music can bring people hope and healing in this way, and I feel very privileged.

Being a guitarist, I don’t often write guitar-based songs with other guitarists. But from the time Incognito’s percussionist Joao introduced me to Francisco Salles and his music, I knew that we would write songs together. “Been There Before” is one of many songs we’ve written in recent months. This experience also gave me an opportunity to play keyboards again, which I enjoyed doing. The song is basically about learning from your mistakes and not being afraid of saying no if you think it’s for the best, even if feelings are hurt at the time.

“More Than Getting By” is, on the other hand, the opposite of the song “Been There Before.” It’s about how sticking with a relationship through thick and thin (If you believe in it) can pay dividends. Seeing your faults and admitting your part in the breakdown and making changes can lead to great and enduring love! This is the only song on the album that I wrote by myself and once again I enjoyed playing the Fender Rhodes piano, which was the first part of the building block in this recording. Drums & percussion came from my Incognito band members Francesco Mendolia and Joao Caetano, lead guitar by Francesco Salles and bass by Robin Mullarky of Zero 7, Bugz In The Attic fame.

Sometimes a song begins it’s life heading in a completely different direction. The music to “The Poetry Of Life,” was initially written by Richard Bull, Matt Cooper and myself for another established artist who will remain anonymous.  After waiting several months for the artist to write lyrics and melody and hearing nothing back, I began toying with the track and came up with a song that refers to my life at various stages.

It brought another angle to the proceedings, so I decided to record it for the album. Sometimes it’s good to wait, but you’ve got to know when to move on! My teachers would always refer to me as a dreamer and constantly dismissed my ideas. One even referred to me as living in an enchanted world saying “ You Live In A Fairy Tale, not the real world.” Life has proven my enchanted world to be my reality! I live the dream!

The closing song on the album is “Sunships On The Shores Of Mars,” the deepest adventure I’ve allowed myself to take in the world of Jazz. I believe strongly that the past and the future are intertwined, and that the more we know about our universe and our origins the more we know about ourselves and the better we become at creating the future. Graham Harvey at the piano, Richard Bull on drums, percussion, bass and guitar create the sound of an intimate quartet that allows me to croon like I’ve never crooned before. Now that was fun! This may be the beginning of something new, and one thing’s for sure…

“We are not replicants awaiting. It’s not our time to die”!

Peace… Bluey

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The Sax Pack - "Power Of 3" - Release on Shanachie #jazz

Featuring Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters & Steve Cole

Throughout the history of popular American culture, a few icons have stood the test of time on first name alone…like Frank, Sammy and Dean…the Rat Pack of course!  Adored and revered for their unparalleled musical abilities, camaraderie, humor, good looks, charm and wit, these three gentlemen raised the bar for an entire new generation of entertainers.  In the world of jazz, there are three saxophonists who have set out to do just the same – that’s Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters and Steve Cole…The Sax Pack! “We have always had a  ‘whole greater than the sum of its parts’ effect,” confides Steve Cole.  Jeff Kashiwa shares, “I want to show the audience how much fun we have backstage and bring it on stage!” Kim Waters adds, “We have different styles, but when we get together we gel in an incredible way.” The sheer musicality, charisma and enjoyment generated by the chart-topping Sax Pack is undeniable. Their success at radio and demand on cruises and at festivals is a testament to the excitement they generate when they step on the scene. April 14, 2015 Shanachie Entertainment will release The Sax Pack’s third CD for the label, Power of 3, marking the all-star unit’s 10th Anniversary.

“I think when all three of us are together sharing the stage something magical happens,” states tenorman Jeff Kashiwa. “In the studio the chemistry between the three of us results in music that no one of us could create. There is a fourth sound that is created when we play together. We understand how to blend with each other and how to support one another.” Each distinctive players in their own right, Kashiwa, Waters and Cole contribute something uniquely their own to the ensemble. Waters explains, “I bring the smooth alto sound with the old school jazz riffs. Steve brings the big bold Tenor sax sound that I call the ‘Bull Dozer’ and Jeff adds another great tenor sound that is warmer. When we all come together the result is amazing.”  Power of 3 opens with the swooning, euphoric and harmonically pleasing “Sooner or  Later,” the album’s first single that is steadily climbing the charts.  “It’s a throwback to the old soul era of The Spinners and The Temptations,” explains Kashiwa.  “The sentiment is that sooner or later you'll come back to me baby! It's a love song you can dance to.” Steve Cole adds, “Jeff brought it to the writing session, and together we finished the tune.  I think it really represents the mood and state of mind that we were all in as we regrouped after some time to make music together again.  We were having a blast!”

“Back in Style,” soulful and funky number, features the three saxophonists weaving in and out of one another creating a magnificent and robust sonic tapestry. A lush chorus featuring tenorman David Mann and trumpeter David Neumann is featured on this track and throughout most of the album. Power of 3 also showcases organist Ricky Peterson, guitarists Bernd Schoenhart and Gerey Johnson, trombonist Dan Levine, drummer Kahari Parker, bassist Lamar Jones and keyboardist Dave Kochanski. Waters plays keys on a number of the songs.

The high powered and sweat-including “Disco Here” is a take no prisoners dance anthem with an irresistible and pulsating groove from beginning to end while “Shine On” maintains the high energy with the memorable R&B number that gives room for each saxophonist to take flight. The trio welcomes a fourth saxophonist on “Shine On” as Marcus Anderson steps into the ring. He can also be heard on the album’s title track. Kashiwa comments, “Marcus not only plays a few tunes, but he helped write many of the songs on the CD. So he had a big part in the creation of this project. Marcus is an incredibly talented young musician whose playing is very precise and full of energy and soul. He keeps us young!”

A standout on Power of 3 is the moving blues drenched and gospel-tinged “Like Old Times.”  The Sax Pack takes us to the funky side of town on  “Into You” and the 70s inspired title track, which effortlessly fuses all the finer elements of funk, dance, jazz and R&B to create some of the most exhilarating moments on the recording. “When Morning Comes” boasts a retro vibe and features Waters on alto and keys and showcases the flute of the multi-talented Dave Mann. “What’s The Time” is a break-neck tempo soul anthem with a rock edge that gives room for the guys to cut loose and strut their stuff. Kashiwa, Waters and Cole bring the album to a close with the 1980s Rick Astley #1 hit “Never Gonna Give You Up,” proving that they can take the surprising and make it work.

“Collectively the artists of The Sax Pack have amassed over 20 top-ten smooth jazz radio hits and sold over a million albums,” states Senior Vice President of A&R for Shanachie Entertainment, Danny Weiss.  “These times call for something special and unique, and that's why these three sax superstars decided to get together and record this album.  Jeff Kashiwa goes all the way back with the Rippingtons before establishing his solo career, Kim Waters comes more from the R&B end of the smooth jazz spectrum and Steve Cole, the newest in terms of length of career, has a fantastic ‘old school’ sound that really rounds out the ensemble.”

In a time of overly hyped and contrived recording projects, it is refreshing to know that The Sax Pack is not just an album but also an actual working band. For the past five years, Kashiwa, Waters and Cole have logged a lot of miles together playing sold out concerts, festivals and clubs around the country.  Kashiwa shares, “Kim has a very playful, charming and smooth approach to playing. A lot of those lines come from the bebop era combined with R&B phrasing which makes for a very exciting and elegant approach to playing. Steve's sound comes from that deep Chicago Blues tradition. His sound is nothing short of magnificent. He plays each and every line with integrity, power and soul. My playing is a combination of traditional jazz and funk because those are the two kinds of music that I listen to all day long.” Steve Cole adds  “We really have a blast…and we want the audience to join the party” and Kim Waters declares, “we are like brothers.”

Power Of 3 is a follow up to 2009’s The Pack Is Back and 2008’s The Sax Pack. Kashiwa was inspired to create The Sax Pack one day while he was watching a PBS documentary on The Rat Pack. “I am a huge fan,” explains the saxophonist. “I love the way the Rat Pack took the part that usually happens backstage and brought it to the forefront for the audience.  One day I was watching this Rat Pack show with Miles Gilderdale of Acoustic Alchemy when he said jokingly ‘yeah you can do The Sax Pack.’ I said ‘Wow!’ that is a great name.’ The next day I called Kim and Steve and said ‘I know we all have separate careers but what would it be like to play together as a group?’ The idea really took off from there. Our first concert was a sold-out show and there was instant chemistry among the three of us and we knew we were on to something.”

A native of Seattle, WA, Jeff Kashiwa has it all: technique, soul, showmanship, agility and grace. One of the most diverse and in demand sax players in all of contemporary jazz, Kashiwa cut his teeth with a decade long tenure with the Rippingtons.  Inspired by legendary saxman Stan Getz, Jeff Kashiwa has also collaborated with Acoustic Alchemy, Chuck Loeb, Special EFX, and his own successful group, Coastal Access. The chart-topping saxophonist maintains a busy schedule and rigorous tour schedule.  Kashiwa’s most recent solo project is Let It Ride.

Kim Waters has enjoyed a career longevity that is rare in the music business. For close to two decades the saxophonist, composer and producer has been one of the premier architects of Urban Smooth Jazz and a beacon of light in contemporary jazz.  Kim Waters’ music has fine-tuned the perfect combination of sensitivity and brawn, intellect and emotion and technique and soulfulness. It is these winning combinations, along with his sincere dedication and love for his craft, that have enabled him to score top-ten singles on all of his albums as a leader.  The suave, debonair and commanding saxophonist’s ability to transcend the musical boundaries of jazz, pop and R&B have made him one of the most sought-after musicians in contemporary jazz.  Kim Waters most recent solo project is Silver Soul.

Steve Cole's soulful style reflects the rich R&B heritage of his hometown, Chicago. This high-caliber, creative sax man has made a mark in jazz by releasing consistently enjoyable CDs.  Cole, who studied music at Northwestern University and business at the University of Chicago, boasts an impressive resume including playing on numerous commercial spots, contributing to a number of soundtracks on the A&E network, as well as composing and performing music with keyboardist Brian Culbertson, guitarists Chuck Loeb, Nick Colionne, and Marc Antoine. Steve Cole’s most recent solo album is Pulse.

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Diana Barash, Debut CD - "A Miracle of Love " - #jazz

Born in Eastern Europe in the midst of the crumbling rule of the Soviet Union, Diana had begun her classical music training at the age of seven. Soon thereafter, she set out on the long trek across the world, escaping the suffocating hand of the government-ruled state. Along her travels, Diana absorbed many cultures into her music and was shaped by multicultural beats as well as more traditional genres, such as Jazz, R&B and Pop.

Listen to Live Your Life on Soundcloud

A versatile performer, Diana begun performing on stage at age 16 and continues to entice us with her voice. She has settled, in the Los Angeles area, where she continues to embrace her long love for composing and singing. Diana writes all of her own music, lyrics, instrumentals, and soundtracks.

Diana’s debut album,  “Miracle of Love”, was released in November, 2013. Several tracks were co-written in collaboration with renowned jazz pianist and composer, Sunnie Paxson. While Diana can be classified as pop artist, her soulful singing style is multifaceted and her lyrics are full of poignant message of love, hope, empowerment and perseverance.

She conveys her message through opening her heart to an unsuspecting bystander and speaking the unabashed truth. Her instrumentals are both tender and powerful at the same time. Soft but determined, her voice envelopes the listener in the crushed velvet that is her heart and soul, while delivering the powerful message to live one’s life, dare not to follow and, to be different and make a difference!

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Steven Davis - "Perfectly Perfect" - Release on First Second Records - #jazz

“Perfectly Perfect” soundtrack for summer love
Jazz crooner Steven Davis ponders “What Happened To Romance,” his first big band album due June 23, led by the original song featured in an international television commercial. 

Bolstering the belief that romance is always en vogue, crooner Steven Davis plies his big voice backed by a big band on the swinging set “What Happened To Romance,” a charming meditation on love marrying timeless traits from another era to today’s passionate demand for originality. The 14-track disc comprised of a dozen original songs penned by Davis and The 88s’ Josh Charles and Alissa Moreno – the duo that produced the outing – will be released June 23 by the vocalist’s First Second Records and serviced to jazz radio for airplay.  
The Nashville-based Davis trekked to New York City to record “What Happened To Romance” with The After Midnight Orchestra featuring original members of the Count Basie and Duke Ellington bands. Fully ensconced in the retro spirit, Davis belts out amorous overtures and enchanting dreams with debonair elegance amidst cascading melodies and groovy rhythms punctuated by the lush horns arranged and conducted by Andy Farber. Completing the collection are faithful interpretations of Johnny Mercer’s swooning “Day In, Day Out” and Irving Berlin’s rousing “All By Myself.”
The album’s playful escapade “Perfectly Perfect” is the sublime soundtrack to a television commercial for Centralway Numbrs, a mobile banking application in Germany and is viewable online globally ( 

“We are using the template of the Great American Songbook writers to create new music that hopefully will stand the test of time. I love this music because it allows us to tell these stories and I like the nuances of this style. There is a certain sense of altruism that appeals to me,” said Davis, who will introduce his throwback sound to new audiences by playing unexpected places for a big band jazz singer such as a June 19 gig at the popular singer-songwriters’ haunt Molly Malone’s Irish Pub in Los Angeles. “Maybe I’m old fashioned when it comes to romance, but it will always be there even though the world has changed so much and is so different now. What happened to romance? It’s the same question we keep asking ourselves. The answer is different for each one of us.” 

The charismatic Davis was invited to perform at the prestigious I Create Music ASCAP Expo in Los Angeles on May 1 and at the Durango Songwriters Film/TV Expo on May 15 in Ventura, California.

The songs contained on “What Happened To Romance” are:
“Love Comes Right On Time”
“You’re Gonna Fall In Love With Me”
“What Happened To Romance”
“This Time”
“Perfectly Perfect”
“I Found Love”
“Let’s Keep It A Secret”
“Day In, Day Out”
“If You Were Mine”
“Close Your Eyes”
“If I Could Give You More”
“All By Myself”
“Sometime Soon”
“Young Love”

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Ben Williams - "Coming Of Age" - Released on Concord Records - #jazz


Continuing to implore the common elements of jazz, hip-hop, rock and soul, the young bandleader embarks on a bolder journey in this album with more music by his own hand and a reflection of his new outlook as a seasoned musician. Coming of Agefor the 30-year-old Williams means playing a lively role among his peers and a vital part in the music world at large. Winner of the 2009 Monk Institute Competition, Williams cites this as a turning point in his musical odyssey, "My career as a bandleader and composer started from the moment I won,” he says. "I had this opportunity to say something—and an obligation, too.”

Revered by The Washington Post as "Successfully translating the musical pulse of his era into jazz,” Williams has secured a masterful selection of special guests featured on this project. They include renowned jazz trumpeter Christian Scott on the cover of Lianne La Havas’ melancholy "Lost & Found” that is draped by a string quartet, vibraphonist Stefon Harris on an original piece titled "The Color of My Dreams,” and emcee/poet W. Ellington Felton who leads the listener through "Toy Soldiers (reprise).” Williams also reconnects with American soul singer Goapele for a second collaboration with the pivotal anthem "Voice of Freedom (for Mandela).” Completing the vision is Williams band, Sound Effect, comprised of Marcus Strickland (tenor and soprano saxophone),Matthew Stevens (guitar), Christian Sands (piano and Fender Rhodes), Masayuki "Big Yuki” Hirano (synths and Fender Rhodes), John Davis (drums) and Etienne Charles (percussion).

The CD offers eleven tracks with nine original compositions by Williams and the rare vinyl addition offers eight pieces from the CD’s repertoire, including a free download of all eleven tracks.

Showcasing his impeccable talent for acoustic and electric bass, this album creates an experience that demands to be heard by a wide breadth of generations

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - April 20, 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 Simpson - "Out Of A Dream" - (Shanachie)
4 - 4 - Rick Braun - "Can You Feel It" - (Artistry)
5 - 6 - Nelson Rangell - "Red" - (Independent)
6 - 7 - Paolo Rustichelli - "Walking in Rome (Soul Italiano) - (Next Age Music)
7 - 8 - Brian Culbertson - "Live-20th Anniversary Tour" - (BCM Entertainment)
8 - 9 - Kim Waters - "Silver Soul" - (Red River Entertainment)
9 - 11 - Cindy Bradley - "Bliss" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
10 - 5 - The Jazzmasters - "The Jazzmasters VII" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
11 - 10 - Peter White - "Smile" - (Heads Up/CMG)
12 - 12 - Jazz Funk Soul - "Jazz Funk Soul" - (Heads Up)
13 - 20 - Boney James - "Futuresoul" - (Concord)
14 - 15 - Jeff Golub - "The Vault" - (eOne Music)
15 - 14 - Ben Tankard - "Full Tank 2.0" - (ben-jammin')
16 - 17 - Euge Groove - "Got 2 Be Groovin' (Shanachie)
17 - 16 - Gerald Albright - "Slam Dunk" - (Heads Up)
18 - 13 - Nathan East - "Nathan East" - (Yamaha Ent. Group)
19 - 19 - James Lloyd - "Here We Go" - (Shanachie)
20 - 18 - Michael Lington - "Soul Appeal" - (Copenhagen 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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Boney James - "Futuresoul" - Release May 4th on Concord Records #jazz


Four-time GRAMMY nominee and multi-platinum selling sax-man Boney James continues his artistic evolution with the dynamic futuresoul. Fusing his love for vintage soul music with his mastery of modern production, Boney has created another genre-bending work following on the heels of his 2014 GRAMMY-nominated album The Beat.

“The forms I’m working with are rooted in my early influences,” says James, dropping names like King Curtis, the Stylistics and Earth, Wind & Fire. “But recently I’ve been listening to contemporary artists like Tinashé, Sam Smith and Ellie Goulding, and I’m inspired by the sound of their recordings. The production is so cool and evocative. As I started the new record, I was in my backyard studio messing around with this “gearhead” stuff I’ve collected. Ideas started flowing and it sounded like modern soul music to me. I thought to myself, ‘What is this?’… And then it hit me: ‘futuresoul.’”

His 15th CD, futuresoul contains 10 original songs produced and written or co-written by James. Released by Concord Records May 4, 2015, futuresoul features vocalist and Mint Condition frontman Stokley on “Either Way,” a collaboration enabled by Twitter. Says James, “Like my recent duet with Raheem DeVaughn, I was able to meet Stokley on Twitter and send him the music for this track. He wrote the brilliant lyric and sent me a finished vocal all via email!”

Also featured is rising-star trumpet player Marquis Hill (2014 winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Trumpet Competition) on the plaintive “Far From Home.”

Other notable collabs on the record are title-cut “futuresoul,” co-written and co-produced by neo-soul mainstay Dwele, and “Drumline” and “Watchu Gon’ Do About It?” with co-writer/co-producer Jairus Mozee (Anthony Hamilton, Robin Thicke).

futuresoul is the follow-up to The Beat (2013), nominated for the GRAMMY for Best Pop Instrumental Album, which prompted The New York Times to praise “The relaxed charisma of Mr. James’ tone…”

The ‘analog’ tone of the sax combined with the ‘digital’ sounds of modern production contribute to the sonic tension that fuels futuresoul.

Born in Lowell, Mass. and raised in New Rochelle, NY, Boney became seriously interested in music in the mid ‘70s, a very vibrant and freewheeling period for popular music. “You could hear different genres all over the radio. It was a great time to be a young musician.”

Following early pro gigs, (including sideman stints with Morris Day, the Isley Brothers, Randy Crawford and Teena Marie) James released his debut album as a leader, Trust, in 1992.

Over the following 23 years James has racked up sales of more than 3 million records, four RIAA gold albums, four GRAMMY nominations, a Soul Train Award, nominations for two NAACP Image Awards and 10 CD’s atop Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Albums chart. In 2009 Billboard magazine named him the #3 Contemporary Jazz Artist Of The Decade (trailing just Kenny G and Norah Jones).
What’s in the future for futuresoul? Already making inroads at radio with the funky “Drumline” and the sultry “Either Way,” Boney will hit the road mid 2015 and continue touring throughout 2016.

Known for blurring the lines between genres, with futuresoul, Boney is doing the same between eras.

Let’s just call it “retro music for a modern age.”

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David Benoit - "2 In Love" - Release on Concord Records June 15th - #jazz

For three decades, the GRAMMY®-nominated pianist/composer/ arranger David Benoit has reigned supreme as one the founding fathers of contemporary jazz. But, like an actor who has been known primarily for one role, he wanted to show other dimensions of his artistry, influenced by Stephen Sondheim, Burt Bacharach, Dave Grusin and Leonard Bernstein.

“I’ve done records where I had a token vocal tune, all the way back to my first album,” Benoit says. “But I never did an entire record [with vocals]. So the thought here was to do something really different.”

The result is Benoit’s thirty-fifth recording as a leader and his first with a vocalist. 2 In Love, set for release on June 16, 2015 via Concord Records, features Jane Monheit, the GRAMMY®-nominated, cool-toned chanteuse from New York, who burst on the scene in 1998 as the first runner-up in the Thelonious Monk International Vocalist Competition. (International release dates may vary)
“Concord suggested Jane Monheit,” Benoit says. “She was the perfect vocalist. I like to make records a certain way: I prefer to go in live and record it all at once. And a lot of vocalists can’t do that: they need to edit, fix and use auto-tune.  But Jane doesn’t need to do any of those things. Many of the keys were difficult, but she sang everything live. Jane also has a background in Broadway, which is another part of my lexicon that I’ve not explored. She was up to the task and easy to work with. She made it a complete, perfect package.”

Along with Monheit, Benoit also enlisted the help of three lyricists: Mark Winkler, Lorraine Feather and Spencer Day. “Mark is my long-time collaborator,” says Benoit. “And I’ve known Lorraine (daughter of jazz critic Leonard Feather) for thirty-five years. Then, there’s Spencer Day: I was really impressed with him. What a nice, young man and fantastic singer. He brought some new blood to the table.”

This terrific triad breathed lyrical life into Benoit’s songs and helped showcase Monheit’s considerable skills as an interpreter. “I met them all,” she says. “They did great work and made it very, very easy for me to do my job.”

Supported by an alternating rhythm section featuring drummers Jamey Tate and Clayton Cameron, percussionist Lauren Kosty, guitarist Pat Kelley and bassists David Hughes and John Clayton (of the Clayton Brothers), Benoit and Monheit swing and sing on ten tracks imbued with, to use Duke Ellington’s elegant phrase, “the feeling of jazz” in ballad, mid-tempo, neo-classical-, Latin-, pop- and Broadway-styled genres that range from the bossa nova-buoyed title track to the optimistic, piano-driven “Love Will Light the Way.” Violinist Michelle Suh and cellist Cathy Biagini add their impressionistic airs to the waltz “Dragonfly,” the evocative, 5/4 time-signatured “Something’s Gotta Give” – originally from a play co-written by Benoit and Winkler about Marilyn Monroe – and “The Songs We Sang,” a beautiful melancholy ballad, originally titled “Out of Tune,” about a couple that wrote hit songs and are trying to reignite their magic.

On the ebullient “Fly Away,” Monheit flexes her considerable vocal muscles. “I had a really great time wailing on that one,” she says, “because it’s a style of music that I don’t often get to sing.”
“Barcelona Nights,” is pulsed by an infectious Latin groove, which was inspired by a visit to Spain by Benoit and his wife. “I talked to Lorraine about it,” Benoit says, “and she came up with a beautiful lyric.” On the Pat Metheny-esque “Love in Hyde,” which was previously published under the title “A Moment in Hyde Park,” Benoit showcases his spirited piano prowess. “I recorded it on my second album, Life Is Like a Samba, with a big orchestra. And I always wanted to redo it,” he says. The album concludes a heartfelt solo piano performance of “Love Theme from Candide”/”Send in the Clowns,” by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, dedicated to the memory of Benoit’s mother, Betty June Benoit (1929–1997).

“Those were my mom’s two favorite songs,” Benoit says. “My friend David Pack (who started the group Ambrosia) introduced me to Lenny, and we worked on a benefit concert at Carnegie Hall. I got to know him a bit. So it was always my destiny to do something with “Candide.” And I felt it would make a nice segue into “Send in the Clowns.”

In addition to his obvious skills as a soloist, 2 In Love also highlights Benoit’s overlooked gifts as an accompanist. “He’s a wonderful piano player,” says Monheit. “He has a great understanding of singers, and that makes him a very good accompanist.” When he was coming up, Benoit worked with singers Patti Austin, Connie Stevens, and Ann-Margaret. But he credits Lainie Kazan as his biggest influence in the fine art of vocal accompaniment. “I was twenty-one when I started with her,” he says. “She literally taught me how to accompany singers.”

Benoit’s work with singers is but one more intriguing aspect of his multi-talented musicianship. He was born in Bakersfield, California, and grew up in Los Angeles. Benoit was bitten by the jazz bug after watching a Charlie Brown special on television and listening to the music of Vince Guaraldi in 1965. “I was already a fan of the comic strip,” he says, “but when I heard that jazz piano trio, that was the defining moment when I decided that I wanted to play like Vince Guaraldi.”

At the age of thirteen, Benoit studied privately with pianist Marya Cressy Wright and continued his training with Abraham Fraser, who was the pianist for famed conductor Arturo Toscanini. He also studied music theory and composition, and later studied orchestration with Donald Nelligan at El Camino Junior College and film scoring from Donald Ray at UCLA. He studied conducting from Heiichiro Ohyama, assistant conductor of the L.A. Philharmonic, and furthered his musical education with Jan Robertson, head of the conducting department at UCLA, and UC Santa Barbara symphony orchestra music director Jeffrey Schindler.

After working with Lainie Kazan as her musical director/conductor in 1976, Benoit released albums on the AVI label from 1977 to 1984. He later released several chart-topping recordings for GRP, including Freedom at Midnight (1987), Waiting for Spring (1989) and Shadows (1991), which both topped Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Charts at #5, #1, and #2, respectively. His other noteworthy recordings include Letter to Evan (1992), his tribute to another piano influence, Bill Evans, and Here’s to You, Charlie Brown: Fifty Great Years (2000). Benoit also recorded with Russ Freeman on their album The Benoit/Freeman Project (1994), and on their follow-up collaboration, 2 (2004), which was released on Peak Records. His other recordings for the label include American Landscape (1997) and Orchestral Stories (2005), which featured his first piano concerto, “The Centaur and the Sphinx,” and a symphonic work, “Kobe.”. In 2012, he released Conversation on Concord’s Heads Up International imprint.

Benoit received three GRAMMY® nominations in the categories of Best Contemporary Jazz Performance for “Every Step of the Way” (1989), Best Large Ensemble Performance for GRP All-Star Big Band (1996), and Best Instrumental Composition for “Dad’s Room,” the latter from the album Professional Dreamer (2000). In 2010, Benoit received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Smooth Jazz Awards, and he’s worked with an impressive potpourri of musicians including the Rippingtons, Emily Remler, Alphonse Mouzon, Dave Koz, Faith Hill, David Sanborn, CeCe Winans and Brian McKnight.

Benoit’s film scores include The Stars Fell on Henrietta (1995), produced by Clint Eastwood, and The Christmas Tree, produced by Sally Field, which was voted Best Score of 1996 by Film Score Monthly. He has served as conductor with a wide range of symphonies including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Asia America Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra. A long-time guest educator with the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, he received that organization’s Excellence in Music Award in 2001. His musical selections have been featured on The Weather Channel and his version of Vince Guaraldi’s “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” is included on compilation The Weather Channel Presents: Smooth Jazz 11 (2008). Benoit also currently hosts a morning radio show on KKJZ 88.1 FM in Long Beach, CA.

Born in Long Island, NY, Jane Monheit heard a wide range of singers, from Ella Fitzgerald to Bonnie Raitt, and also listened to Broadway pop and classical vocalists. Monheit started her professional career while she was a student at Connetquot High School in Bohemia, NY, where she graduated in 1995. She studied at the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts and was awarded their distinguished Alumna Award. She was also a student at the Manhattan School of Music and studied under voice instructor Peter Eldridge. She graduated with honors in 1995 with a BA in Music and received the William H. Bolden Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Jazz.

Monheit burst on to the national scene as the first runner-up in the 1998 Thelonious Monk Institute’s Vocal Competition behind veteran singer Teri Thornton. In 2000, she released her first recordings as a leader on the N-Coded label including Never Never Land, Come Dream with Me (2001), In the Sun (2002) and Live at the Rainbow Room (2003). She also recorded for Sony, Epic and EmArcy, and released two recordings on Concord, Surrender (2007) and The Lovers, the Dreamers, and Me (2009), which featured the ballad “The Rainbow Connection.” Monheit has worked with Ramsey Lewis, Steve Tyrell, Tom Harrell, Terence Blanchard, Ivan Lins, Mark O’Connor, and Freddy Cole, and appears on Memphis pianist Harold Mabern’s new album, Afro Blue, and with Brazilian bossa nova icon Wanda Sá on her latest release, Live in 2014. Monheit also garnered two GRAMMY® nominations for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) for her rendition of the Judy Collins ballad "Since You've Asked", from the album Live at the Rainbow Room (2003), and “Dancing in the Dark,” from Taking a Chance on Love (2005).

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Drum Legend Harvey Mason to Receive Honorary Degree at Berklee Commencement May 9 #jazz

Berklee College of Music president Roger H. Brown will present drum legend Harvey Mason with an honorary doctor of music degree at Berklee's commencement ceremony, Saturday, May 9, at the 7,000-seat Agganis Arena at Boston University. More than 900 Berklee graduates, their parents, and invited guests will be in attendance.
Honorary doctorate recipients are recognized for their achievements and influences in music, and for their enduring contributions to American and international culture. Past recipients include Duke Ellington (the first, in 1971), Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Jimmy Page, Smokey Robinson, Steven Tyler, Loretta Lynn, David Bowie, Juan Luis Guerra, Annie Lennox, Paco de Lucia, Carole King, Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss, George Clinton, Plácido Domingo, and A.R. Rahman.
Mason is among the most recorded, versatile, and in-demand drummers of all-time. A legendary, multi-Grammy nominated session drummer, producer, composer and recording artist, he has worked with a pantheon of musical giants, including Barbra Streisand, James Brown, Herbie Hancock, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Bjork, Carlos Santana, Michael Jackson, John Legend, Carole King, James Taylor, George Benson, and the London Symphony Orchestra. He has composed music for film, TV, and commercials, and written songs recorded by artists ranging from Nancy Wilson, Herbie Hancock, and Mary J. Blige to the Notorious B.I.G., Lupe Fiasco, Nelly, P. Diddy and T.I. Mason’s groundbreaking, distinctive style has influenced generations of drummers. The recipient of the 2015 Modern Drummer Readers Poll award for best fusion drummer, he remains active as co-leader and founding member of the jazz supergroup Fourplay, as well as with his newest recording project, Chameleon

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Dee Dee Bridgewater, Irvin Mayfield & The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra "Dee Dee's Feathers" #jazz

“Dee Dee’s Feathers,” a journey through the history of New Orleans as told through song and the collaboration of Dee Dee Bridgewater, Irvin Mayfield & The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO), is set for release April 24th, 2015, via Okeh/DDB Records/Sony.  Recorded at New Orleans’ Esplanade Studios, a studio in a reconverted historical church in the heart of the city that was badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina, the release of “Dee Dee’s Feathers” will be accompanied by tour dates worldwide including stops at The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, the Barbican in London, New York City’s famed Apollo Theatre on Halloween, Melbourne Jazz Festival and City Recital Hall in Sydney,  

“It was at the groundbreaking ceremony of the future site of the Jazz Market where I had the idea of a collaborative recording,” said Bridgewater. “I thought that Irvin Mayfield, NOJO, and I needed a musical 'calling card' so to speak, a product that epitomized the joys of our accumulative collaborations.  When I shared the idea with Irvin, the seed was planted. After several emails, Irvin's song suggestions, song keys picked out over the phone, we found ourselves at Esplanade Studio exactly one month later. Under Irvin Mayfield's skillful leadership, band members had done the arrangements, and over the course of three days we recorded, filmed, bonded, laughed our way through the most extraordinary recording experience I've had. The music turned out so good, with my dear friend Dr. John blessing us on a day's notice, Bill Summers’ magical percussive layers, and a host of well-known NOLA characters.   I knew Irvin and his band-mates had bathed me, immersed me, baptized me in the waters of the Mississippi, and exposed me to the roots of New Orleans.  For me this album is a celebration of life itself.”

Mayfield added: “This album is a testament to the continued relevance of New Orleans not only as a thriving city but also as a muse for communicating truth, love and beauty. Dee Dee Bridgewater leads us through a new artistic moment while answering a mandate created over a century ago by Jazz geniuses like Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet and Louis Armstrong.  She proves through her art that New Orleans is not just a city but more importantly an idea that can make your heart and soul feel better. “

Although steeped in history, “Dee Dee’s Feathers” is at the same time a modern exploration of the music and culture that makes New Orleans a city and place unlike any other. Traditional songs such as “Big Chief” (featuring guest artist Dr. John), “Saint James Infirmary” and “What A Wonderful World” – all songs indicative to and steeped in the culture of the Big Easy – co-mingle with new compositions such as “Congo Square” and “C’est Ici Que Je T’aime,” transporting the listener on a sensory voyage through the city, whether dancing in a Second Line or frequenting a storied bordello in the heart of the city’s French Quarter.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

DW3 pays “Tribute” to their late drummer-mentor Ricky Lawson #jazz

R&B vocal band goes retro on their sophomore album, “Vintage Truth,” released March 17, with assistance from contemporary jazz luminaries Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson,
Paul Brown, Greg Adams and Elan Trotman.

At the untimely passing of the drummer Steely Dan’s Walter Becker described as having perfect timing, Ricky Lawson was only four songs into producing the sophomore album by R&B vocal group DW3. Lawson, who had an extraordinary GRAMMY®-winning career collaborating with Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Whitney Houston and Steely Dan, had been a member of the band for more than two years and the tracks are his last recordings. Over a year later, DW3’s “Vintage Truth,” dedicated to Lawson, is finally finished and scheduled for release March 17 on the Woodward Avenue Records label.

Despite being rocked by the unexpected loss that occurred two days before Christmas 2013, DW3 knew that Lawson would want the groove to continue. He not only was a member of the outfit fronted by brothers Billy & Eric Mondragon and Damon Reel, but he mentored them as well. He believed that the GRAMMY®-nominated vocalists who are a perennial draw on the jazz festival and cruise circuit is at their dynamic best in live settings thus the record’s core tracks were laid down in the studio live. DW3 maintained that template when finishing the album, which they produced themselves with one cut, the collection’s first single - a seductively soulful take on The Eagles’ “I Can’t Tell You Why” - produced by hit-maker Paul Brown.

“We titled the album ‘Vintage Truth’ because of the way we approached the recording process, like a live jam session where the core musicians - the guitarist, bassist, keyboardist and drummer - were in the room playing at the same time. We rehearsed each song twice, then went in the studio and pressed record. Our previous recordings featured a lot of drum programming, but this project has all live drums,” said Eric Mondragon. “Another vintage element we added that we absolutely love is the live horns – so much so that we recently added a horn section to our lineup so that we could perform these songs properly onstage.”

The twelve-tracker “Vintage Truth” offers a blend of originals and fan favorites that the group has performed on stage for years such as Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed,” Luther Vandross’s “So Amazing” and The Mamas & The Papas’ “California Dreamin’,” the last of which won the California Lottery Powerball song contest for their trademark three-part harmonies spawning a popular video ( Making instrumental contributions to the disc were contemporary jazz chart-toppers Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson, Greg Adams, Elan Trotman and Brown.

Four years ago, the Los Angeles born and raised DW3 issued its debut set, “On The Floor,” which peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard contemporary jazz albums chart in the U.S. while it went all the way to No. 1 on the United Kingdom’s soul chart driven by the sophisticated neo soul single “I Got You” highlighted by a sultry sax solo from multiple GRAMMY® nominee Gerald Albright. DW3’s three vocalists were 2014 GRAMMY® nominees for singing background on the Summer Horns album, an ensemble comprised of saxophone superstars Koz, Albright, Mindi Abair and Richard Elliot. Ever since DW3 served as the resident party band on the inaugural sailing of The Smooth Jazz Cruise in 2004, they’ve been part of the sold-out cruise. In addition to performing at premier festivals across the nation, the funksters maintain a long-running weekly residency at SoCal hotspot Spaghettini and serve as the house band for L.A. radio station 94.7 The Wave’s Sunday Brunch held at the same venue. Further information about DW3 is available at

"Vintage Truth" contains the following songs:

"Let The Music" (featuring Brian Culbertson)
"Tribute (Right On)”
"I Can't Tell You Why"
"Hold Me" (featuring Greg Adams)
"Dance With Me"
"California Dreamin’"
"When You Cry" (featuring Dave Koz)
"She Keeps Running"
"Square One"
"So Amazing"
"At The Club" (featuring Elan Trotman)

# # #

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - April 13, 2015 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 2 - Jonathan Fritzen - "Fritzenized" - (Nordic Night Records)
2 - 1 - Marion Meadows - "Soul Traveler" - (Shanachie)
3 - 4 - Brian Simpson - "Out Of A Dream" - (Shanachie)
4 - 6 - Rick Braun - "Can You Feel It" - (Artistry)
5 - 5 - The Jazzmasters - "The Jazzmasters VII" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
6 - 9 - Nelson Rangell - "Red" - (Independent)
7 - 8 - Paolo Rustichelli - "Walking in Rome (Soul Italiano) - (Next Age Music)
8 - 3 - Brian Culbertson - "Live-20th Anniversary Tour" - (BCM Entertainment)
9 - 10 - Kim Waters - "Silver Soul" - (Red River Entertainment)
10 - 7 - Peter White - "Smile" - (Heads Up/CMG)
11 - 12 - Cindy Bradley - "Bliss" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
12 - 11 - Jazz Funk Soul - "Jazz Funk Soul" - (Heads Up)
13 - 15 - Nathan East - "Nathan East" - (Yamaha Ent. Group)
14 - 17 - Ben Tankard - "Full Tank 2.0" - (ben-jammin')
15 - 27 - Jeff Golub - "The Vault" - (eOne Music)
16 - 13 - Gerald Albright - "Slam Dunk" - (Heads Up)
17 - 18 - Euge Groove - "Got 2 Be Groovin' (Shanachie)
18 - 16 - Michael Lington - "Soul Appeal" - (Copenhagen Music)
19 - 21 - James Lloyd - "Here We Go" - (Shanachie)
20 - 39 - Boney James - "Futuresoul" - (Concord)

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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

David Sanborn - "Time And The River" - #jazz

After saxophonist David Sanborn recorded the well-received Quartette Humaine acoustic jazz album with pianist Bob James as a one-off for OKeh Records in 2013, the label continued the conversation with the renowned alto sax star who one reviewer labeled the “soul of the project.” That exchange led to Sanborn— deemed the most influential crossover artist of his generation and the most commercially successful saxman since his 1975 Taking Off debut—to link up with his old collaborative friend, electric bassist Marcus Miller, to serve as producer in creating the superb jazz-meets-R&B recording Time and the River, the 25th album as a leader in his illustrious genre-crossing career. “I felt like I was in good hands,” says Sanborn. “Marcus can cover all the bases—as arranger, composer, instrumentalist, producer—and since we have a lot of history together, working together was like shorthand.”

The top-tier core band of the recording comprises Miller on bass; Roy Assaf on
keyboards; Yotam Silberstein and Nicky Moroch on guitars; Peter Hess on horns
and flute; Marcus Baylor on drums; and Javier Diaz on percussion. Other players
include trombonist Tim Vaughn and trumpeter Justin Mullens, and Sanborn
enlists two vocalists: Randy Crawford, who does a gorgeous read of the classic
“Windmills on Your Mind, and former Tower of Power lead singer Larry Braggs,
who delivers a soul-train take on the Temptations’ 1969 No. 1 hit, “Can’t Get Next
to You.”

With two Sanborn originals, two tunes by French singer/songwriter Alice Soyer
(including “Oublie Moi,” with Sanborn’s graceful alto circles and swoops), one by
Miller (the r&b cooker “Seven Days Seven Nights” that was originally slated for
the Bob James project but reworked for this album), the cover of the hot funk
D’Angelo number “Spanish Joint” (from 2000’s Voodoo) and David Amram’s
“Overture” from the film The Manchurian Candidate, Time and the River
stretches out with a variety of styles and soundscapes. “The biggest thing was
that both Marcus and I were trying to push out of the comfort zone,” Sanborn
says. “I don’t want to settle into complacency, to just sit back and enjoy the view.
I want to keep pushing. I want to keep going down a new path to see where it

Indeed on Time and the River, Sanborn—a six-time Grammy winner with eight
gold albums and one platinum—takes his expressive lyricism and singular
ecstatic alto blowing to a new plateau, creating colors and textures through
mesmerizing dreamscapes, r&b grooves, balladic beauty, deep funky soul and
jazz-steeped improvisations. Undergirding most of the songs on the nine-tune
collection is a percussive spice thanks to Diaz’s laid-back polyrhythmic
contribution. It’s the first time the leader has used a percussionist since the death
of his go-to percussionist Don Alias in 2006. “I decided to retire his chair,”
Sanborn says. “He was a hard act to follow. But Javier has that organic quality.
Like Don, he pulls the sound out of the drums instead of hitting them.”

Another important factor that’s noteworthy on Time and the River is how Sanborn
when he’s not in a solo spotlight plays throughout the tunes as an integral voice
in the band. “Normally I don’t like to wear out my welcome,” he says. “I’m usually
the first to sit out. But the way this record is structured we’re not playing a lot of
solos after a head. My role is feeling like a part of the band, part of the rhythm
section. I’m playing a lot of notes, but I’m laying back, weaving myself through
the fabric of the tunes and interacting with the song.”

Case in point: the joy-and-elevation leadoff tune, Soyer’s “A La Verticale,” which,
Sanborn says, with its melodic legato serves as a “mission statement” for the
album. “There’s a contrapuntal reality with the piano and percussion setting the
music up, then little guitar fills, little bass fills and me with my little fills,” he says.
“Everyone was interacting with one another all the time. I encouraged everybody
to do that. It was like when I was growing up and listening to music, and whether
it was pop or jazz, there was a lot going on at the same time—layers of rhythms
and instrumentation. It was like Earth Wind & Fire, which made you stand up.
That’s what I was going for here.”

The vocal tunes have their reference points. The cool and sweet-grooved
“Windmills of Your Mind” may have been featured in the 1968 and the 1999
remake of the film The Thomas Crown Affair, but for this session, the rendition
came from the Dusty Springfield songbook. Likewise, for “Can’t Get Next to You,”
this new version owes more to the Al Green interpretation than to the
Temptations. An additional voice comes from Sanborn himself, who says, “I think
of myself as a singer on the alto, especially on this record. With all the textures
going on, I’m able to rise up and play over the top like a vocalist.”
Sanborn’s originals include the Rhodes- and Hammond B3-shaded “Ordinary
People,” a popish tune that arrived intact while playing the piano, and “Drift,”
inspired by D’Angelo. “I’m a huge fan of his music,” Sanborn says. “I was trying
to recreate a vibe for him. I wanted a sleepy, thick cushiony atmospheric sound.
We did the thematic and chord changes on the sax and piano, then overlaid
synth pads and Marcus overdubbed. It was demo’d in my home studio and
recorded there.”

Time and the River closes in a reflective and even mystical space with Sanborn
dueting with Assaf on piano on the moody “Overture,” which is built on a
melancholic 14-note theme. “I’ve always been haunted by that tune,” Sanborn
says. “It goes to so many interesting places. Part of it feels modal-like, part of it
feels like church. I loved The Manchurian Candidate and I loved David Amram’s
writing. I’ve tried to record this for years, so I decided to just do it with the alto
and piano. This is one of those moments that’s a gift.”

As for the title of Sanborn’s remarkable new album, Time and the River holds
special significance. “The river is really for a mundane reason,” he says with a
laugh. “For many years, my wife and I lived in a Manhattan brownstone on 69th
Street between Columbus and Broadway, with my studio upstairs and guys like
Pat Metheny around the corner and Jazz at Lincoln Center so close by. But we
sold it and moved upstate to Tarrytown, which is still close enough to get into
New York for the juice of the city. But our house overlooks the Hudson River,
which is one of the U.S.’s great rivers. So I see it flowing everyday. The river is
moving and so is time.”

Plus, incidentally, in Japan the symbol for river is three vertical lines, which is
represented on the album cover. It’s also pronounced “sanbon.” “When I play in
Japan, I always hold three fingers up when I come onstage,” Sanborn says. “And
everyone knows what I mean.”

As for what’s beyond Time and the River, Sanborn beams. “As artists we keep
pushing because this is what we do,” he says. “I want to learn something new
everyday, whether it’s listening to the outtakes from Charlie Parker With Strings
to Michael Brecker to D’Angelo. What a great thing music is. It’s the key to
spirituality. It humbles you. It’s so vast, so great. You can never master it and
never get to the end. You just keep working to find those transcendent
moments—all the stages along the way of the journey. As a kid, I knew I had to
be around music.”

So, count on more of Sanborn’s creativity to bloom for his Time and the River

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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - April 6, 2015 #jazz

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

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