Monday, August 31, 2015

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - August 31, 2015 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Boney James - "Futuresoul" - (Concord)
2 - 4 - Dave Koz - "Collaborations" - (Concord)
3 - 3 - Najee - "You, Me and Forever" - (Shanachie)
4 - 2 - Vincent Ingala - "Coast To Coast" - (Independent)
5 - 5 - The Sax Pack - "Power Of 3" - (Shanachie)
6 - 6 - Gerald Albright - "Slam Dunk" - (Heads Up)
7 - 8 - Jonathan Fritzen - "Fritzenized" - (Nordic Night Records)
8 - 7 - Jeff Golub - "The Vault" - (eOne Music)
9 - 10 - Four80East - "Positraction" - (Boomtang)
10 - 9 - Maysa - "Back 2 Love" - (Shanachie)
11 - 11 - Jessy J - "My One And Only One - (Shanachie)
12 - 15 - Jazmin Ghent - "Boss" - (Independent)
13 - 13 - Ken Navarro - "Unbreakable Heart" - (Positive Music Records)
14 - 12 - Paolo Rustichelli - "Euro Nights (Soul Italiano)" - (Next Age Music)
15 - 19 - Nils - "Alley Cat" - (Baja/TSR Records)
16 - 14 - Michael Lington - "Soul Appeal" - (Copenhagen Music)
17 - 17 - Ben Tankard - "Full Tank 2.0" - (ben-jammin')
18 - 16 - Paul Brown - "Truth B Told" - (Woodward Avenue Records)
19 - 18 - Nick Collionne - "Influences" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
20 - 20 - Walter Beasley - "I'm Back" - (Affable)

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Global guitarist Jesse Cook conjures the sounds of modern day Constantinople for the U.S. market #jazz #worldmusic

World music artist focuses on American audiences with the official launch of his “One World” album and concert tour while his PBS special continues to power stations’ pledge drives.

Constantinople, the ancient melting pot mecca intersecting Europe, India, Middle East and Africa, serves as the inspiration for the adventurous sonic explorations of “One World,” the ninth studio album from world music guitarist Jesse Cook. Joining primal instrumentation from all over the globe with rhythmic loops, textured audioscapes and technological experimentation, Cook’s eOne Music release, which debuted at No. 1 on the jazz and world music charts in the Canadian’s homeland, will receive it’s official U.S. release on October 2 tied to the launch of the first leg of the American “One World” concert tour, scheduled to play 18 cities this fall beginning October 7 in Tucson, Arizona. Riding off to radio stations early next month is the exotic call-and-response frolic “Taxi Brazil.”   
Juno Award winner and 11-time nominee Cook composed and produced “One World,” an aural journey showcasing the Paris-born, Toronto-reared artist’s cultured cornucopia of rumba, flamenco, jazz, gypsy, pop and classical guitar parlance, rife with runs and riffs demonstrating dazzlingly dexterity. Strumming and plucking mystic melodies, evocative harmonies and contemplative meditations, Cook places his guitar on “One World” amidst carefully-crafted instrumental beds that just may be the most experimental of his career. He incorporated more modern technology to create interesting beats and inventive sounds, placing them side by side with traditional instruments that have been around for centuries.

“One could imagine musicians from all over the world meeting in a marketplace in Constantinople and the mad, beautiful music that would have ensued. What would that have sounded like?” Cook pondered. “I didn’t want my crossroads to be limited to only traditional instruments; I wanted music from different time periods represented as well. Now you have ancient instruments like the Armenian duduk or the Arabic oud (the ancestor to the guitar), meeting record scratching, industrial textures, sample and loop technology. That is the world I wanted my guitar to venture through. I’ve always been interested in music technology, but on this record I gave it a wider scope.”  
Cook is not afraid to admit that some of the brazen alchemy came at the curious hands of his seven-year-old son’s exuberant button pushing.        
“He was often hanging around the studio while I was working. Like most kids his age, he was constantly asking if he could play on the computer. And like most parents, I would say no, fearing that he might blow up all my expensive recording equipment. But kids are persistent and I finally relented, leaving him to experiment. Later, when I came back, I was amazed by what he’d found. There were all sorts of loops happening, time stretching, texture and sample libraries I’ve never seen before. At that point, I did what any good father would do: I shooed him out of the chair and grabbed my guitar.” 
Cook will support “One World” in the States with multiple concert treks, the first of which takes place this autumn followed by a second swing early next year and a third leg slated for spring 2016. His popularity as a captivating performer has multiplied exponentially in recent years bolstered by a couple of PBS concert specials, including “Jesse Cook: Live at the Bathurst Theatre,” which is currently airing on television stations across the nation as part of pledge drives. 

“One World” contains the following songs:
“Taxi Brazil”
“Bombay Slam”
“To Your Shore”
“Three Days”
“Tommy and Me”
“When Night Falls”
“Steampunk Rickshaw”
“Beneath Your Skin”

Cook’s 2015 “One World” U.S. Fall Tour itinerary is as follows:
October 7            Tucson, Arizona                                                The Fox Theatre
October 8            Scottsdale, Arizona                         Scottsdale Center For The Arts
October 9            San Diego, California                       Humphrey’s Concerts By The Bay
October 10          Temecula, California                       Thornton Winery
October 11          Avalon, California                             Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival
October 13          Albuquerque, New Mexico         Kimo Theater
October 15          Dallas, Texas                                      The Kessler Theater
October 16          Austin, Texas                                     Paramount Theatre
October 17          Houston, Texas                                 Cullen Performance Hall
October 20          Kansas City, Missouri                      Folly Theater
October 22          Skokie, Illinois                                    North Shore Performing Arts Center
October 23          Burnsville, Minnesota                    Ames Center
October 24          Milwaukee, Wisconsin                   South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center
October 25          Columbus, Ohio                                                Lincoln Theatre
October 26          Royal Oak, Michigan                       Royal Oak Music Theatre
October 27          Kalamazoo, Michigan                     Kalamazoo State Theatre
October 29          New York, New York                      New York Society For Ethical Culture
October 30          Glenside, Pennsylvania                 Keswick Theatre

For more information, please visit

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats made their late night television debut performing "S.O.B." on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." #video

Dear Music Fan,
We're so excited about this performance we simply had to send it to you.  Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats made their late night television debut last night performing "S.O.B." on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."

As Jimmy Fallon said, "If you believe in soul... if you believe in rock n roll... if you believe in performing your guts out... Enjoy the band on our show tonight."

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nightsweats debut album is out August 21st on Stax Records.  
Happy listening,
Concord Music Group

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Jerff Lorber Fusion - "Step It Up" - Releases September 25th

 September 25th release features 11 new tracks co-produced by keyboardist Lorber and his longtime collaborator, bass legend Jimmy Haslip

Order "Step It Up" from, click here

Jeff Lorber Fusion, whose previous release Hacienda was praised for its “impeccable musicianship and deep grooves” by JazzTimes and its “funky, rollicking jams” by All About Jazz, returns on September 25, with Step It Up on Heads Up, a division of Concord Music Group. The fourth consecutive collaboration between GRAMMY®-nominated keyboardist/composer/producer Jeff Lorber and GRAMMY-winning bassist/composer/ producer Jimmy Haslip since the two virtuosos reactivated Jeff Lorber Fusion five years ago, Step It Up features 11 new Lorber compositions, several co-written with Haslip. The longtime colleagues also co-produced the recording.
Assisting the pair in creating those twists is a team of world-class musicians, including two former bandmates of Haslip’s in the award-winning fusion band Yellowjackets: saxophonist Bob Mintzer and guitarist Robben Ford. Also lending a hand are drummers Ash Soan, Gary Novak and Vinnie Colaiuta; saxophonist Gary Meek and guitarists Michael Thompson and Paul Jackson Jr. David Mann provides horn arrangements and Lenny Castro percussion.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Carol Duboc - "Colored Glasses" September 18th on Gold Note Music #jazz #youtube #video

For her second straight album, Carol Duboc ( is opening up her heart and soul with divulging lyrics about the difficult experience of ending her marriage and now coming though the other side – all while raising a young daughter. The jazz singer-songwriter’s stories on the forthcoming “Colored Glasses” aren’t candy coated, but honest and revealing to the point that she refers to the ten-track collection of originals that she wrote and produced with jazz fusion keyboard giant Jeff Lorber as “continuing therapy.” Slated for release September 18, her seventh album with musical contributions from an accomplished ensemble of contemporary jazz luminaries is also probably her funkiest solo record to date.   

Setting her tales to Lorber’s mid-tempo R&B beats and gyrating dance grooves, Duboc reunited many of the same Grammy-nominated musicians who backed her on what could be considered the first chapter, 2013’s “Smile.” Along with Lorber, who earned his keep on keys, piano, bass, programming and guitar, electric bassist Jimmy Haslip and acoustic bassist Brian Bromberg flank drummer Vinnie Colaiuta in a noteworthy rhythm section supplemented by percussionist Lenny Castro. Guitarists Paul Jackson Jr. and Michael Thompson play rhythm and lead with additional harmonies offered by saxophonist Eric Marienthal and flutist Hubert Laws. David Mann’s punchy horns and crafty horn arrangements lift the tracks into a supernal realm.
The first radio single, “Hypnotic,” an urbane seducer about the intoxicating and blinding power of love, tied for No. 1 most added honors on this week’s Billboard chart. Duboc & Company hit Venice Beach for some summer fun frolicking with fans in the video for the retro dancer “Wavelength,” which debuted last week on Vevo (
On the night of the album release (Sept. 18), Duboc will mark the occasion by performing with Lorber, Haslip and Thompson at the famed Hollywood jazz club The Baked Potato, which will be streamed live on Duboc’s website. The platinum-selling songwriter who has penned tunes for Patti LaBelle, Chante Moore, Tom Jones, Stephanie Mills, Jade, Fine Yong Cannibals, Maurice White and the late George Duke expects to perform a handful of concerts this fall on the national circuit with Lorber.   

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mindi Abair & The Boneshakers - "Live In Seattle" - Releases September 25 on Heads Up

 GRAMMY-nominated saxophonist Mindi Abair joins forces with blues rock veterans The Boneshakers for a September 25 release, recorded live at Jazz Alley in Seattle.

In a career that spans seven solo albums and countless collaborations in the studio and live on stage, Mindi Abair has made her mark as one of the most recognizable saxophonists in the U.S. You may know her as the saxophonist on American Idol, or the only saxophonist to tour with rock legends Aerosmith since 1973. You may have seen her on stage with Bruce Springsteen for a historic night at the Beacon Theater, or tuned in as she joined Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra on the Late Show with David Letterman. Her seven solo CDs have garnered ten #1 radio hits, six top 5 spots and two #1 spots on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz album chart. Abair received a 2014 GRAMMY nomination in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category for Summer Horns, a #1 recording with her friends Dave Koz, Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot, and more recently received a 2015 GRAMMY nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for her solo CD Wild Heart.

After Wild Heart, Abair wanted to translate its edgier rock/soul sound to the stage. She called longtime friend Randy Jacobs (Bonnie Raitt, Was (Not Was), Willie Nelson) to join her live band, bringing his Detroit blues/rock edge. In June, Randy’s band, The Boneshakers, was playing The Newport Beach Jazz Festival on the same bill as Mindi’s band, and she hopped on stage to “sit in” with The Boneshakers. “There was so much electricity on stage. The blues and rock just pulsed through me. Everyone played with complete abandon,” Abair said. “It felt like home. And most of my band was also playing with Randy’s band. It was really only about hiring longtime Boneshakers vocalist Sweet Pea Atkinson (Bonnie Raitt, Was (Not Was), Lyle Lovett).” Tracked at Jazz Alley over Valentine’s Day weekend, Live in Seattle captures the intent of a rock band, the grit of a blues band and enough energy to light a stadium. Fourteen sizzling tracks include eleven originals and two dramatic covers, which feature the exceptional combined skills of Mindi Abair (alto saxophone, vocals, producer), Randy Jacobs (guitar, vocals), Sweet Pea Atkinson (vocals), Rodney Lee (keyboards), Derek Frank (bass, vocals), and Third Richardson (drums, vocals).
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Monday, August 17, 2015

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - August 17, 2015 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Boney James - "Futuresoul" - (Concord)
2 - 2 - Vincent Ingala - "Coast To Coast" - (Independent)
3 - 3 - Najee - "You, Me and Forever" - (Shanachie)
4 - 7 - Dave Koz - "Collaborations" - (Concord)
5 - 4 - The Sax Pack - "Power Of 3" - (Shanachie)
6 - 5 - Maysa - "Back 2 Love" - (Shanachie)
7 - 6 - Jeff Golub - "The Vault" - (eOne Music)
8 - 9 - Four80East - "Positraction" - (Boomtang)
9 - 10 - Gerald Albright - "Slam Dunk" - (Heads Up)
10 - 8 - Jonathan Fritzen - "Fritzenized" - (Nordic Night Records)
11 - 12 - Jessy J - "My One And Only One - (Shanachie)
12 - 11 - Michael Lington - "Soul Appeal" - (Copenhagen Music)
13 - 14 - Paul Brown - "Truth B Told" - (Woodward Avenue Records)
14 - 28 - Ken Navarro - "Unbreakable Heart" - (Positive Music Records)
15 - 17 - Ben Tankard - "Full Tank 2.0" - (ben-jammin')
16 - 15 - Jazmin Ghent - "Boss" - (Independent)
17 - 19 - Paolo Rustichelli - "Euro Nights (Soul Italiano)" - (Next Age Music)
18 - 20 - David Benoit - "2 In Love" - (Concord)
19 - 16 - Nick Collionne - "Influences" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
20 - 18 - Gregg Karukas - "Soul Secrets"- (Nightowl)

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Kenyon Carter - "Game On" - Released 8/14, Title Track Featuring Chuck Loeb - #Jazz

Triumphant again: saxophonist Kenyon Carter’s
“Game On” wins a Global Music Award even before the album is released amidst a buzzing radio single featuring
guitarist Chuck Loeb and an inspiring back story

A pivotal album inspired by a pivotal, life-changing experience, “Game On” is the apropos title of Kenyon Carter’s ( album that was released Friday (August 14) by CurvePoint Media, a ten-song set of originals that the saxophonist wrote and produced in this “Go for it!” moment in his career. The title track to his third release, which earned a silver medal last week for outstanding achievement from the Global Music Awards, knocks it out of the park with an MVP assist from guitar great Chuck Loeb (Fourplay), a contemporary jazz heavyweight who trades ferocious licks with Carter’s spirited tenor horn. There’s a sense of urgency to the cut that has been among the most added singles on the Billboard chart, which can be directly attributed to an incident in Carter’s not too distant past that influences everything the Atlanta-based musician does.
Carter ticketed “Game On,” which hit No. 35 on the iTunes Jazz Albums chart Friday, as the effort to elevate him into the major leagues after a couple of well-received outings that introduced his sound and songbook to a national radio audience. The time to breakthrough in a big way is now – something the artist learned from having his right arm crushed in a car crash that almost kept him out of the game for good. Severe radial nerve damage left doctors wondering if Carter would ever regain full use of the appendage. Persisting patiently through eight months of daily rehab and endless hours dedicated to re-learning how to play the sax with the aid of a specially-designed therapy glove, Carter’s form and function gradually returned, but inside, he would never be the same again. The experience was a powerful wakeup call that the time to chase his dream all out was now and he has not looked back since. Playing with a technical proficiency that exhibits admirable control and restraint when appropriate, his exuberance and drive inform his improvisational soloing that is equal parts impassioned bellows and blasts and graceful finesse that is delicately deployed.      
Hustling out and immediately breaking into a sweat, Carter gives the fervent title cut a boost of guitar muscle from Loeb. The ensuing tenor sax-electric guitar shoot-around erupts into an all-out court battle. There’s a full lineup of potential singles and fan favorites on “Game On.” Carter’s forte as a songwriter is cranking out big hooks that he animates with a variety of saxes allowing him to explore the full “vocal” range of his horn over rhythmic grooves that swirl measures of straight-ahead jazz, R&B and adult pop into substantive soul-jazz collages.
A crowd pleaser with verve, Carter is excited to get his “Game On” this Saturday night (August 15) just outside of his Atlanta home base with a show at Marietta Jazz & Jokes followed a week later by a second album release celebration at The Velvet Note in Alpharetta, Georgia on August 22.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lee Ritenour Set To Release "A Twist Of Rit" On August 21, 2015 #Concord #jazz

Featuring John Beasley, Dave Grusin, Patrice Rushen, Ernie Watts,
Melvin Lee Davis, Michael Thompson, Wah Wah Watson, David T. Walker,
Makoto Ozone, Tom Kennedy, Dave Weckl, Paulinho Da Costa, Ronald Bruner Jr., Chris Coleman, Bob Sheppard and Rashawn Ross

“The concept for A Twist of Rit combines new material and tunes selected from earlier albums. We twisted, flipped and reconstructed those songs with a twelve-piece band. Several of the songs are from my very first album, First Course, recorded in 1975 and the Rit album in 1980.” 
- Lee Ritenour

GRAMMY-winning, guitarist Lee Ritenour, AKA Captain Fingers, has a wide-ranging array of material to revive, as evidenced by A Twist of Rit. 2015 commemorates 40 years since his debut recording, First Course, on Epic Records.  A Twist of Rit, set for release on August 21, 2015 via Concord Records, is a magnificent follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2012 album Rhythm Sessions.

A Twist of Rit spotlights Ritenour with several long-time musical cohorts, including keyboardists John Beasley, Dave Grusin and Patrice Rushen; saxophonist Ernie Watts; bassists Melvin Lee Davis, Tom Kennedy and Dave Weckl; and percussionist Paulinho Da Costa. That core group is augmented by drummers Ronald Bruner Jr. and Chris Coleman, along with Bob Sheppard on saxophone and Rashawn Ross playing flugelhorn. Joining Ritenour for the first time are guitarists Michael Thompson, Wah Wah Watson and David T. Walker, plus Japanese pianist Makoto Ozone.

A Twist of Rit features Ritenour’s soaring guitar lines with 12 of his compositions ranging from the funky fusion and sophisticated jazz that he has become so well known for. All of the material was captured by his longtime GRAMMY Award-winning engineer Don Murray and the tracks were recorded with everyone performing together, old-school, but with modern, state-of-the-art recording techniques. Another album highlight will be the debut of Hungarian guitarist Tony Pusztai, Grand Prize Winner of Ritenour’s biennial, 2014 Six String Theory Competition. Pusztai was selected from over 500 entries and 72 participating countries.

“People like Ernie, Patrice, Dave and John Beasley, who worked closely on [my album] Wes Bound – along with Melvin Davis and percussionist Paulinho Da Costa, go back with me to the very beginning,” Ritenour says. “Ernie had been on so many of my projects. And, of course, I couldn’t do this without Dave Grusin, who is my best buddy, and who has been involved in almost all of my recordings. All of these people are very close friends of mine. We’ve had this musical mafia for twenty, thirty, forty years.”

With his formidable fellow travelers, Ritenour revisits several selections from his iconic albums including First Course (1976), Friendship (1978) – an LP consisting of the Ritenour-led super-group that included Ernie Watts, Don Grusin, drummer Alex Acuna, percussionist Steve Forman, and bassist Abraham Laboriel – Rit, Vol.1 (1981), Earth Run (1986), Stolen Moments (1990) and This Is Love (1998).

Save for “Pearl,” a heartfelt, Latin-tinged tribute to Ritenour’s mother, as well as the mid-tempo, bouncy title track and the surging, organ-filled “W.O.R.K.n’ It” (Weckl, Ozone, Ritenour, Kennedy) – another version, “More W.O.R.K,” will be released on an upcoming 5-LP retrospective box set – the  rest of the album features the new-and-improved vintage Ritenour tracks. “When I first proposed this record to Concord, I didn’t want it to be perceived as a ‘best of’ rehash of my old tunes,” Ritenour says. “I love to write new material. So there is new material on the record. But I wanted to take a look at my earlier tunes – not necessarily the major radio hits – but in general, I wanted to take material that could have a fresh look today, that we could ‘twist,’ or flip. This is the first record where all of the tunes are mine. It was really fun to look back at my catalog, which stretches back forty years, and pick certain tunes to take a fresh start.”

From the LP First Course, “Wild Rice” and “Fatback” swing with some grooving, mid- and up-tempo Muscle Shoals-meets-Malibu horn lines, originally arranged by Tom Scott and re-arranged by Ritenour and Beasley that ring with the spirit of the late B.B. King and Steely Dan. Two more selections from First Course include the Crusaders-coded, Michael Omartian-arranged “A Little Bit of This and A Little Bit of That” and the funky, 9/4-time, Head Hunters-inspired “Sweet Syncopation.” The spry, festive “Bullet Train” from Friendship bounces with the air of a Brazilian love affair, and “Soaring,” from Earth Run, is rhythmically laced with a Latin lilt.

“Ooh Yeah,” from This Is Love, is reincarnated as a laid back, Quiet Storm selection, topped by Ritenour’s luscious, Wes Montgomery-esque chords. “Waltz for Carmen” from Stolen Moments, written for Ritenour’s wife, is an intricate duo featuring Tony Pusztai. “Tony, who is an insane classical guitarist from Hungary, has got some incredible jazz chops, too,” Ritenour proudly says. The zenith of the release is Ritenour’s re-imagination of “Countdown” from Rit, Vol 1., a surging, anthemic contemporary jazz classic of the highest order. “I did some sampling of my original recordings,” he says. “I was able to hunt down the original tracks and have them transferred to digital. We used a sample of the original “Countdown” vocoder [track]. As we were playing live, we were triggering the sample and playing along with it.”

Ritenour is able to draw upon a diverse body of work that reflects his polyglot musical upbringing. Born on January 11, 1952 in Los Angeles, Ritenour grew up listening to a wide variety of music. His father was an amateur pianist who exposed him to Peggy Lee, Ray Charles, Nancy Wilson, Erroll Garner and Stan Kenton while he took his first guitar lessons at eight. Ritenour experienced his first jazz “eureka!” moment three years later when his father took him to the record store.

“We bought three records by Howard Roberts, Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass. I was influenced heavily by all three guys,” Ritenour says. “A lot of people don’t know Howard, but he was an incredible studio player. And, of course, everybody knows Joe. My dad called Joe on the phone, and said, ‘I’ve got this fourteen year-old. Will you give him a lesson?’ So I went to Joe’s house a couple of times and we became friends. And I was also influenced by Wes’ rhythmic and melodic approach and his tone.”

Along with his love of R&B, rock and fusion, Ritenour started his career early. He played in a band that featured Patrice Rushen and Dave Grusin at the L.A. club The Baked Potato, while making a name for himself working with The Mamas & the Papas and Tony Bennett. Ritenour’s work with Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, Dizzy Gillespie, Simon & Garfunkel, Herbie Hancock and Frank Sinatra, to name a select few, made him the most ubiquitous guitarist of his generation. In 1986, he received a GRAMMY Award for his collaboration with Dave Grusin on his recording Harlequin, and has been a perennial chart-topper in numerous critics polls. In the 1990s, he was a founding member of the contemporary jazz supergroup Fourplay, with Bob James, Harvey Mason and Nathan East.

A Twist of Rit aurally illustrates Ritenour’s delicate balance of maintaining his individuality while working with an array of diverse artists. “Even though I was a studio player, I was trying to establish my own identity,” he says. “The live thing is just as important as the studio thing. And when I did my first album, where a lot of the songs [on this album] are from, in 1975, I didn’t think I had a ‘Lee Ritenour sound.’ But then, a few years later, I listened to the record, and I realized that wow, I did have my own sound then.”

Along with A Twist of Rit, Concord Records will release a five LP vinyl box set of some of Ritenour’s classic records, including Wes Bound, Festival, Color Rit, Portrait and Earth Run. Ritenour will be touring and promoting these projects throughout 2015/16.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Fourplay - "Silver" - Release on Heads Up coming November 20th, 2015 #jazz

November 20, 2015 release features special guest appearances from guitarists Larry Carlton and Lee Ritenour and saxophonist Kirk Whalum

Longevity among jazz groups is a surprisingly rare commodity. With relatively few exceptions, a run of a few years, at most, is standard; for a collective of jazz musicians to stick together for a decade or more is almost unheard of. That puts Fourplay, who celebrates their 25th anniversary this year, in a league of their own. Since 1990, bassist Nathan East, keyboardist Bob James, guitarist Chuck Loeb (who joined five years ago) and drummer Harvey Mason have continued to explore together, their efforts resulting in what All Music Guide called one of “the most intuitive, forward-thinking and focused groups in modern jazz.”

On Silver, set for release November 20, 2015 on Heads Up, a division of Concord Music Group, Fourplay celebrates that unprecedented bond with their most wide-ranging and gratifying recording to date. Following the theme of the occasion, most of the 10 new original compositions comprising Silver play off of the anniversary, bearing titles such as “Sterling,” “Precious Metal” and “A Silver Lining.” Just like its namesake, Silver shines, each track a brilliant example of what has made this formidable ensemble—each of whom also has a highly successful career outside of the band—one of the most respected in the jazz world.

For each member of Fourplay, the group’s ability to remain so creative after so many years together has been a reward in itself. Says Nathan East, “It became apparent from our very first album that this particular group of musicians had a special sound. We appreciate whatever that chemistry or magic has been between us and have had a great time on our journey together as we’ve developed our music.”

“Fourplay is four voices melding together to create a truly distinct and recognizable sound,” says Harvey Mason, explaining the quartet’s ability to continually find new avenues of expression. “This group has so much musical experience that the accompanying and the listening are over the top. We’ve all been sidemen as well as leaders and we cover the gamut of musical genres. It’s a great feeling to know you can go in any direction and you’ll be supported and pushed. We work together—that is what you hear when you listen to Fourplay.”

That sense of fellowship permeates Silver, from the first notes of the opening track, “Quicksilver,” a Chuck Loeb piece that both spotlights the guitarist’s fluid lines and his bandmates’ innate capacity for locking into a groove and building something indelible and substantial along the way. It’s followed by “Horace,” whose title might seem out of place on the recording until composer Bob James explains that it’s his tribute to one of his favorite jazz pianists, the late Horace Silver!

“Sterling” is next, co-written by Nathan East and Chuck Loeb. A brief opening piano statement from Bob James leads directly to a virtually orchestral expedition spotlighting Loeb’s lyrical melody lines; James, East and Harvey Mason provide the newest member with sturdy rhythmic support but never in a static manner, focusing instead on the kind of vibrant interplay that only a group of musicians for whom intuition is second nature could ever hope to achieve.

“When the group started, we were just experimenting,” says James. “We all were curious about how the group dynamic would be different from our individual projects. We have no leader, but we are all leaders.” Silver, he adds, “was approached pretty much the same as all our projects. Each of us developed new original compositions separately and eventually brought them into the studio to develop.”

Indeed, the music on Silver, although composed by the members of Fourplay either individually or in collaboration with the others (and with a few friends), flows cohesively with an inherent single-mindedness that often makes it impossible to determine where a given idea originated. “A Silver Lining,” stemming from drummer Mason, sways softly, spotlighting not so much the deep grooves Fourplay readily kicks up but a more elegiac side of the band.

The next track on Silver is one of two that reunite two key earlier members of Fourplay with the current lineup. “Silverado” is co-penned by Loeb and Larry Carlton, the world-class guitarist who preceded him in the band; the other is “Windmill,” a collaboration between Mason and original Fourplay guitarist Lee Ritenour that closes the album. The two songs prove that even while Fourplay’s music has taken on many new characteristics during its 25-year journey, there’s always a consistency of quality, regardless of who’s got his hands on the guitar! The two guests perform on their respective tracks, with “Windmill”—which originally appeared on a Ritenour solo project—also featuring keyboardist John Beasley and Mitch Forman adding organ to “Silverado.”

Following “Silverado” is “Mine,” one of two tunes written solely by James. It finds the keyboardist and guitarist Loeb welding the band’s trademark romantic elegance with understated bluesy licks. “Silver Streak,” by Mason and Chris Wells, is a feast of rhythms and sounds, ranging from meditative to quasi-psychedelic in its daring reach. Loeb’s “Precious Metal” also features a high-profile guest player, the beloved saxophonist Kirk Whalum, and East’s “Aniversario” features the renowned bassist giving a display of what funk is all about before “Windmill” brings the proceedings to a dramatic close.

Regardless of who writes which song, or contributes which lick, says Loeb, a unique “Fourplay sound” makes itself known whenever these musicians are in the room together. “When a sports team wins a championship, or has enduring success,” he says, “people always talk of the ‘chemistry’ among the players. This is very much the same in music. Nathan, Bob, Harvey and Lee had an immediate musical DNA that evolved with Larry and then with me. There’s a shared mutual respect, and a very high level of fun when we get together and make music. It shows in the end result.”
“Our music is recorded live in the studio and there is no set rule,” adds Mason, explaining the band’s methodology. “Some tunes go quickly and some take more time as we may tweak and tweak. The key is respect, and the composer of each tune has the final word unless there are extremely strong objections, in which case we discuss and come to an amiable decision. It’s like a great marriage that has worked for 25 years.”

Produced by the group and recorded at Hollywood’s Sunset Sound—where Fourplay recorded their debut a quarter-century ago—Silver is meant not as a retrospective but as a marker, a definitive statement on where Fourplay finds itself in 2015. They’ve grown and evolved tremendously over the years, but one thing that’s never changed is their mutual admiration for one another, what James calls “the democracy, the strong desire to have all of us represented equally. We all compose for each project,” he says, “and we feature each other equally as soloists and ensemble players—it’s obvious to our fans when we perform live, the way the music flows across the stage, with each player sharing the spotlight. It is a constant four-way dialogue. We literally grew into the full meaning of our name…four players communicating their music as a team.”

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Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - August 10, 2015 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 2 - Boney James - "Futuresoul" - (Concord)
2 - 1 - Vincent Ingala - "Coast To Coast" - (Independent)
3 - 3 - Najee - "You, Me and Forever" - (Shanachie)
4 - 4 - The Sax Pack - "Power Of 3" - (Shanachie)
5 - 6 - Maysa - "Back 2 Love" - (Shanachie)
6 - 5 - Jeff Golub - "The Vault" - (eOne Music)
7 - 13 - Dave Koz - "Collaborations" - (Concord)
8 - 11 - Jonathan Fritzen - "Fritzenized" - (Nordic Night Records)
9 - 16 - Four80East - "Positraction" - (Boomtang)
10 - 8 - Gerald Albright - "Slam Dunk" - (Heads Up)
11 - 10 - Michael Lington - "Soul Appeal" - (Copenhagen Music)
12 - 12 - Jessy J - "My One And Only One - (Shanachie)
13 - 7 - Rick Braun - "Can You Feel It" - (Artistry)
14 - 9 - Paul Brown - "Truth B Told" - (Woodward Avenue Records)
15 - 17 - Jazmin Ghent - "Boss" - (Independent)
16 - 15 - Nick Collionne - "Influences" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
17 - 14 - Ben Tankard - "Full Tank 2.0" - (ben-jammin')
18 - 19 - Gregg Karukas - "Soul Secrets"- (Nightowl)
19 - 23 - Paolo Rustichelli - "Euro Nights (Soul Italiano)" - (Next Age Music)
20 - 18 - David Benoit - "2 In Love" - (Concord)

Our thanks to smoothjazz.comVisit to view the latest complete top 50 chart. Visit to view the latest weekly chart recap.
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Thursday, August 06, 2015

Mariea Antoinette - "Straight from the Harp" - Release on September 25 - #jazz

An entrepreneurial “Harp” full of soul
Urban-jazz harpist Mariea Antoinette will release a special edition of her Billboard Top 5 album “Straight from the Harp” on September 25 in conjunction with receiving a Phenomenal Women in Entrepreneurship Award from the National Council of Negro Women.

To infiltrate the upper echelon of the Billboard album charts with an ancient instrument while cross-pollinating musical genres certainly has taken the imaginative vision and inspired creativity of a trailblazing entrepreneur. On September 26, urban-jazz harpist Mariea Antoinette will receive a Phenomenal Women in Entrepreneurship Award from the National Council of Negro Women, the 49th annual community event in San Diego, California at which she will perform. Tied to the honor, an enhanced version of her sophomore album, “Straight from the Harp: Special Edition,” will be released September 25 by MAH Productions featuring two bonus tracks and an entirely new cover. One of the new cuts, “Walk the Walk,” a uniquely sprawling hybrid of ethereal harp harmonies and impassioned soloing, EDM-hip hop beats, gauzy rock guitar and dramatic violin underscoring from Karen Briggs, will be serviced to radio as a single ahead of the bolstered collection’s issuance.
The Allan Phillips-produced disc that peaked in the Billboard smooth jazz albums Top 5, “Straight from the Harp,” connects with a balanced set list of soul-infused originals and R&B classics. Showcasing Antoinette’s gorgeous, graceful and sensual harp theatrics amidst downhome funk grooves, ebullient pop harmonies and spacious jazz improvisations, the record was purposely crafted to fulfill the artist’s mission to smash limiting preconceptions, banish borders and offer adventurous new possibilities for her celestial stringed instrument.        
“The concept of ‘Straight from the Harp’ is to show people that the harp is not a quiet, dreamy, boring instrument, but that it can be funky like you’ve never heard it before. I wanted to take it to a new dimension, and I knew that (producer) Allan (Phillips) would bring an exciting palette of rhythmic possibilities to the table,” said Antoinette. “The CD has launched an exciting new phase in my career, but I’ve had this in my spirit a long time. I loved playing beautiful classical music, but my heart was telling me I’ve also got to do something different. I wanted to play the music that I grew up with. I wanted to make the harp a funky and sexy instrument. For those who have yet to discover ‘Straight from the Harp,’ I hope new listeners will open their ears and their minds to the ‘Special Edition.’” 
Tapping Phillips, an Emmy-winning, two-time Grammy-nominated multi-instrumentalist from Venezuela with an adventurous flair for surrounding lush melodies and percussive rhythms with textured world music trappings, was a deliberate choice for Antoinette. He penned four cuts for the genre-blurring session, including a pair of tunes with emerging saxophonist Reggie Codrington, while Antoinette composed a couple of stunning instrumental interludes.    
The San Diego-based Antoinette (yes, Mariea Antoinette is the name that appears on her birth certificate) debuted with “Sexy Paradise” (2003) produced by fellow San Diegan Carl Evans Jr. of the jazz fusion outfit Fattburger. Her striking appearance and artfully elegant sound and technique has led to high-profile gigs around the world such as performing for President Barak Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, backing Ne-Yo at the BET Awards and playing Grammy soirees for Vanity Fair magazine and Mary J. Blige and Jamie Foxx. Antoinette and Briggs have been collaborating since 2007 in the all-female ensemble Jazz in Pink. Their organic synchronicity forged through years of live shows at premier jazz festivals is clearly in evidence on “Walk the Walk.”
Songs contained on “Straight from the Harp: Special Edition” are:
“Fly Away”
“Rock Wit’cha”
“Special Treasure”
“Give Me Your Love”
“A Single Dance”
“Spend Some Time (With You)”
“Boogie Nights”
“I’m Gonna Love You (Just A Little More Baby)”
“Waiting In Vain”
“Straight from the Harp”
“Walk the Walk”

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Monday, August 03, 2015

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - August 3, 2015 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Vincent Ingala - "Coast To Coast" - (Independent)
2 - 2 - Boney James - "Futuresoul" - (Concord)
3 - 3 - Najee - "You, Me and Forever" - (Shanachie)
4 - 4 - The Sax Pack - "Power Of 3" - (Shanachie)
5 - 6 - Jeff Golub - "The Vault" - (eOne Music)
6 - 5 - Maysa - "Back 2 Love" - (Shanachie)
7 - 8 - Rick Braun - "Can You Feel It" - (Artistry)
8 - 13 - Gerald Albright - "Slam Dunk" - (Heads Up)
9 - 9 - Paul Brown - "Truth B Told" - (Woodward Avenue Records)
10 - 10 - Michael Lington - "Soul Appeal" - (Copenhagen Music)
11 - 23 - Jonathan Fritzen - "Fritzenized" - (Nordic Night Records)
12 - 7 - Jessy J - "My One And Only One - (Shanachie)
13 - 33 - Dave Koz - "Collaborations" - (Concord)
14 - 17 - Ben Tankard - "Full Tank 2.0" - (ben-jammin')
15 - 11 - Nick Collionne - "Influences" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
16 - 21 - Four80East - "Positraction" - (Boomtang)
17 - 19 - Jazmin Ghent - "Boss" - (Independent)
18 - 12 - David Benoit - "2 In Love" - (Concord)
19 - 16 - Gregg Karukas - "Soul Secrets"- (Nightowl)
20 - 15 - Bluey - "Life Between The Notes" - (Shanachie)

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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