Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Russ Hewitt - "Cielo Nocturno" #jazz

Guitarist virtuoso Russ Hewitt is known for his rumba flamenco rhythms and lightning guitar runs which have become trademarks of his distinctive style. Hewitt's two releases, Bajo el Sol and Alma Vieja, has garnered press and reviews from all over the world and praise among his peers and his new release, Cielo Nocturno is set to do the same. Cielo Nocturno features a stellar line up of backing musicians including percussionist Raphael Padilla (Miami Sound Machine, Shakira, Chris Isaak), drummer Walfredo Reyes Jr. (Santana, Steve Winwood, Chicago), guitarist Larry Carlton, guitarist Ardeshir Farah (Strunz and Farah), bassist Bob Parr (Cher, Brian Setzer Orchestra), guitarist Alfredo Caceres (Gipsy Kings All-Stars), and accordionist Vladimir Kaliazine. All three releases were mastered by Chris Bellman (Van Halen, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Elton John)

Hewitt's first CD, Bajo el Sol, gained favorable opinion rapidly, translating into prolific air play and a ten week stay at #1 on Music Choice, the satellite-cable television smooth jazz playlist, and maintained a constant presence on the Smooth Jazz indie charts for over 16 weeks. The first track to be released to radio -- the dazzlingly Latin flavored title cut -- climbed into the Top 20 with the two that followed enjoying similar success. ‘Lydia’ peaked at #15 and stormed onto the Billboard's Top 40, while ‘El Beso’ made it onto that same Top 40 listing. The second CD, Alma Vieja, produced an additional two Top 40 Smooth Jazz singles ‘Pacific Sunrise’ and ‘Samba Samba’. North of Home
featuring the four time Grammy winner Larry Carlton will be the first single released from Cielo Nocturno.

In addition, Bajo el Sol made the ballot for the 52nd Grammy Awards in the categories Best Pop Instrumental Performance, Best Pop Instrumental Album, Best Instrumental Composition, Best Instrumental Arrangement and Best Engineered Album (in the non-classical section). ‘El Beso’ was included in the Top 100 Smooth Jazz Songs of 2009 and, most significantly, from a field of 15,000 applicants. Hewitt gained an ‘Honorable Mention’ for the title song 'Bajo el Sol' in the Instrumental Music category at the 2009 International Songwriting Competition.

Hewitt has endorsements from Godin guitars, Radial Engineering, Analysis Plus Cables, Morley Pedals, V-Picks, Voodoo Lab, BBF Pedalboards, Primacoustic, Mission Engineering and DLS Effects who feature him on their artist's page and website. In edition to doing artist interviews and a monthly lesson column in the guitar magazine ‘The Sound’, Russ continues to extend his boundaries into soundtracks and commercial work having won five Telly Awards for 'Parent Compass' and the DVD companion to the New York Best Seller 'The Harbinger Decoded' by Johnathan Cahn. This year saw the released of The Mystery of the Shemitah Unlocked which immediately went to #1 in Amazon's Faith & Spirituality category. Russ has also written the music in the upcoming feature film Thirst: Mission Liberia which has already won a Silver Telly, the top award, in the spiritual/ faith category and a Bronze Telly in the Documentary category.

Track list:

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - June 27, 2016 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - 3rd Force - "Glocal Force" - (Baja/TSR)
2 - 14 - The Rippingtons - "True Stories" - (Peak/eONE)
3 - 2 - Adam Hawley - "Just The Beginning" - (Kalimba)
4 - 7 - Kim Waters - "Rhythm and Romance" - (Shanachie)
5 - 27 - Chris Standring - "Ten" - (Ultimate Vibe Recordings)
6 - 6 - Euge Groove - "Still Euge" - (Shanachie)
7 - 11 - Vincent Ingala - "Coast To Coast" - (Independent)
8 - 8 - Paul Jackson Jr. - "Stories From Stompin' Willie - (Branch, Records Inc.)
9 - 4 - Paolo Rustichelli - "Don't Stop (Soul Italiano)" - (Next Age Music)
10 - 3 - Fourplay - "Silver - (Concord Music Group)
11 - 9 - Boney James - "Futuresoul" - (Concord)
12 - 29 - Incognito - "In Search Of Better Days" - (Shanachie)
13 - 12 - Andy Snitzer - "American Beauty" - (Goose Song Music)
14 - 20 - Steve Cole - Turn It Up - (Artistry/Mack Avenue)
15 - 16 - Michael Lington - "Second Nature" - (Copenhagen Music)
16 - 5 - Marcus Anderson - "And Coffee" - (Anderson Music-LLC)
17 - 15 - BWB - "BWB" - (Artistry/Mack Avenue)
18 - 13 - Najee - "You Me And Forever" - (Shanachie)
19 - 22 - Jarez - "In Too Deep" - (Top Jazz Records LLC)
20 - 18 - Julian Vaughn - "Limitless" - (

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Lemon Aid: “Instrumental Magic 2” to benefit Lighthouse for the Blind
The Henry Stone Music album featuring the Lemon City Rhythm Section, released Friday, will be feted at a Miami launch party at Ball & Chain on June 27.
Continuing the legacy of benevolence that began ten years ago when the late music industry legend Henry Stone discovered blind saxophonist Jeff Zavac and featured him on “Instrumental Magic,” generating over one million dollars in contributions to the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind - the organization that came to the aid of the renowned record pioneer when he lost his vision in his later years - Henry Stone Music released the second collection on Friday. “Instrumental Magic 2,” showcasing Zavac with the Lemon City Rhythm Section and produced by Stone’s son, Joe Stone, and guitarist Aaron Fishbein, spotlights the saxman rendering soul-jazz interpretations of ten hits written or made classic by sightless artists including Stevie Wonder, Ronnie Milsap, Jose Feliciano and Ray Charles, the last of whom was first recorded by Henry Stone in the 1950s.     
The five-piece Lemon City Rhythm Section – Zavac (sax, flute, woodwinds), Fishbein (guitar), Jerald Dorsett (keyboards), Shaka Pace (bass) and King David Hill (drums) – will perform music from “Instrumental Magic 2” at jazz hotspot Ball & Chain in the Little Havana section of Miami on Monday, June 27 at 6:30pm. Tickets are free while donations to the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind will be accepted at the venue and online at
Henry Stone, who forged an enduring legacy in R&B, dance and rap music prior to his 2014 passing at the age of 93, launched the “Instrumental Magic” series with the goal of creating modern American music with a classic American feel. Joe Stone was inspired to continue his father’s mission of positivity by promoting music recorded by live players while raising awareness and funds for the association that taught his father how to live without sight.

“Henry lost his sight in the last decade of his journey here on earth and Miami Lighthouse was a huge part of his ability to move forward,” said Stone, general manager of Henry Stone Music. “It is an honor and a joy to work with this group of very talented musicians on an important production that carries on the Henry Stone legacy. Musically, ‘Instrumental Magic 2’ creates a sonic palette filled with funk, soul, salsa, rock, R&B and jazz covering American standards loved the world over."

The first “Instrumental Magic” disc, one of the last albums produced by Henry Stone, paired Zavac with 1970s soul queen Gwen McCrae. The record remains one of the Henry Stone Music label’s most popular releases having received millions of plays on Spotify alone.

After losing his eyesight during cataract surgery while in his 80s, Stone turned to Miami Lighthouse for the Blind where he learned to adapt. In an effort to “repay” the organization that helped him, Stone facilitated a million dollar donation that funded the creation of a recording studio for the blind now named in his honor. His act of leadership and philanthropy garnered the inaugural Man of Vision Award in 2008 from Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, which provides vision rehabilitation and eye health services that promote independence, educates professionals and conducts research in related fields. For additional information, please visit    

“Instrumental Magic 2” contains the following songs:

“Hey Baby”
“I Got A Woman”
“Night Time Is The Right Time”
“I Just Called To Say I Love You”
“Isn’t She Lovely”
“I Wish”
“There’s No Gettin’ Over Me”
“Feliz Navidad”
“America The Beautiful”

For more information about Henry Stone Music, please visit

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ashleigh Smith - "Sunkissed" - Release on Concord August 19th - #jazz

Singer-songwriter’s eagerly-awaited Concord debut features soulful originals and cherry-picked covers

Sunkissed, the title of Ashleigh Smith’s August 19, 2016 debut on Concord Records, describes her singing perfectly. The 27-year-old Dallas-based winner of the 2014 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocals Competition possesses an iridescent alto that radiates a spectrum of poised emotions. While clearly she’s capable of tackling material underscored by darker themes such as heartache and sobering social commentary, optimistic rays of light always shine through her voice.

The disc reveals Smith to be a gifted songwriter too. She co-wrote five of the disc’s 10 compositions. Like the musicians accompanying her, most of Smith’s writing partners – electric bassist Nigel Rivers and guitarist Joel Cross – were fellow classmates of hers from the University of North Texas, where she studied jazz. Indeed, enlisting a cadre of musicians whom she’s already forged a sparkling rapport imbues Sunkissed with a greater sense of warmth and personal conviction. “I wanted people who have already been an integral part of my musical development,” Smith explains. “We were all in music class and jazz forums together; we also performed together. They played a big part into the making of who I am as a musician. That’s something you figure out not necessarily in the classroom but when you’re performing on stage.”

Sunkissed begins with “Best Friends,” a bittersweet original co-written with Cross. Even though the song glides to a percolating sanguine bossa-nova groove, powered by Cross’ acoustic guitar riffs, Smith’s lyrics touch upon on the pains of a waning romantic relationship. The song’s melody and “heart on your sleeves” lyrics also betray one of her brightest lodestars – Stevie Wonder.
With Cross, Smith also co-penned the music for “Into the Blue,” another melancholy Brazilian-tinted gem, marked by sauntering rhythms and bracing melodicism. The lyrics, however, were co-written by her older sister, Lauren, after the two were swapping stories about things that were happening in each other’s amorous relationships.

On the glowing soul-jazz original, “The World Is Calling,” Smith partnered with Rivers as a songwriter. Distinguished by sliding keyboard chords, a subtle Latin mid-tempo groove, and a jaunty melody underscored by pleads of universal love, Smith refers to this song as her “love call.” “I’m very empathic with humanity and things that are going on in the world,” she explains. “It’s important to know what’s going on around you – not just what’s happening within yourself. I think we’re becoming so self-consumed. We don’t love people enough. Loving each other more wouldn’t solve all the world’s problems, but it would be a great start.”

Similar glimmers of hope sparkle on “Sunkissed,” the title track co-written with Rivers and singer Nadia Washington. Riding atop a breezy, hip-swerving samba rhythm, Smith sings empowering lyrics to young girls of color, who oftentimes struggle seeing themselves as beautiful. “There had to be a song on this album for girls who look like me,” Smith argues, “A lot of times when I’ve mentored African-American girls, they always commented that there weren’t any role models that looked like them. They saw mostly people who looked like their Caucasian friends. This is not to say that one is better than the other. We are all beautiful. But I think all of that beauty should be represented equally.”

Smith acknowledges that the melody on the succinct “Brokenhearted Girl” resembles “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Centered on “break-up songs” and written with Kwinton Gray during a rehearsal for a Dallas show, the song purposefully eschews the conventional AABA song format.
Sunkissed contains one song – the searching “Beautiful and True” – that’s written by Rosanna Eckert, one of Smith’s teachers at the University of North Texas. With its soaring melody and lush arrangement, the tune superbly accentuates Smith’s effervescent tone and gift for articulating other people’s verses. “I wanted Rosanna to write a song because she knows my voice very well,” Smith says. “I love her ease at lyrical expression. I love how fluid her lyrical thoughts are and how well they match her musical thoughts.”

As for the covers, Smith chose wisely. Raised in LaGrange, Georgia in a musically rich household and nestled deep in the modern R&B sounds of Dallas, Smith wanted material that reflected her upbringing. Such is the case with her winning makeover of Hall & Oates’ classic tune, “Sara Smile,” which is given a discreet hip-hop bounce via punchy rhythms.

Even more indicative of Smith’s generation is her sumptuous rendering of R&B singer Chrisette Michele’s 2007 ballad “Love Is You.” Interestingly enough, Smith has been singing backup for Michele for five years. “We’re great friends,” Smith adds. “I’ve learned a lot about the music business from her. Lyrically, it’s such a beautiful song.” On Sunkissed, Smith beefs up the arrangement by incorporating silhouetting strings and fanciful Latin rhythms inside the bridge. “My version is completely different from the original. But Chrisette loves it – it’s an ode to her.”
Smith digs deeper into the pop canon and covers the Beatles’ late-’60s classic “Blackbird.” It was the song’s dark themes that first seduced Smith. “The opening is so haunting; it’s so pivotal and timeless – it brings you in immediately,” she says. Smith brightens the mood with a gently swaggering rhythm while keeping the haunting tenor of the lyrics well intact.

Sunkissed concludes with a mesmerizing version of Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley’s immortal “Pure Imagination” from the 1971 movie, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. Showcasing her love for sophisticated harmonies, Smith’s rendition features her harmonizing with herself via overdubs. It makes for an ideal ending to the shining debut of a creative singer with her own distinct style poised to take on the world.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Rippingtons - "True Stories" Release on Peak/E1 June 24th - #Jazz

“When I started the Rippingtons, I never imagined it would last more than the release of one album, let alone thirty years!” recalls Russ Freeman, leader and founder of the pioneering, GRAMMY® nominated group The Rippingtons, who are celebrating their 30th anniversary year with the release of True Stories, the band’s 22nd recording to be released June 24, 2016.

True Stories, recorded over an intensive three-month span, is a refreshing elixir that will delight devout fans of The Rippingtons and attract new ones. Joined by original Rippington, alto and soprano saxophonist Brandon Fields, drummer Dave Karasony, bassist and rhodes player Rico Belled and special guest Jeffrey Osborne, Freeman orchestrates ten compelling originals. The album opens with the hypnotic and scintillating “Wild Tales,” the CD’s first single, which Freeman calls an “experiment in randomness.” Fusing elements of jazz with traces of EDM and world influences, The Rippingtons foreshadow the journey ahead and promise it to be nothing short of exhilarating. Many of the classic Rippingtons hit repertoire prominently feature rich saxophone melodies and this time out Freeman showcases his unparalleled guitar wizardry.

On True Stories his choice of axe is a Patrick Cummings gold custom Brian Moore 30th Anniversary Russ Freeman model guitar. He plays it on all the album tracks with the exception of “Wonderland,” which features a Rosewood Fender Telecaster. The epic number transports listeners through several breathtaking, suspenseful movements that are crystallized by Freeman’s beautiful and intuitive playing. He cites this song as his favorite on the CD and you can hear the love he pours into each unforgettable moment. Amazingly, the song was recorded in one take. “I'm a big believer in first takes and stream of consciousness,” explains Freeman. “There’s something in the DNA of a first take that I find fascinating. The raw ideas are always hidden in there.” The swooning and uplifting “Sundance,” follows featuring the lyrical saxophone Brandon Fields and blues-filled and rockin’ and guitar lines of Freeman. “Sundance reminds me of the hard work of songwriting. Sometimes you have to make yourself grind it out and you get lucky. This song is perfect for the live band,” shares Freeman who will be taking True Stories on the road this Summer.

An avid traveler and lover of culture, Freeman takes us on a journey to Spain as he pays homage to the Spanish tradition of Andalusia, the southern region where Islamic and indigenous music flourish. The majestic and arresting “Flamenco Beach,” is a composition that Freeman says played in his head until he finally sat down to write it. The ebullient rocking and rhythmically charged “King’s Road,” features Freeman with Fields’ alto and Belled’s warm bass sharing the melody in unison, while drummer Dave Karasony solos over the thematic changes. Freeman shares, “This is the first time the Ripps have featured an extended drum solo on an album. I felt the time had come. I was surprised at the approach Dave took, using a combination of hi-hat finesses and double bass drum mayhem.” Another highpoint on True Stories comes in the form of the devotional “My Promise,” an enchanting song, featuring GRAMMY-winning singer Jeffrey Osborne. Freeman co-wrote the gem with his talented wife Yaredt, who has contributed several songs to The Rippingtons songbook. Reuniting Jeffrey with the band came as a recommendation from Freeman’s long time manager Andi Howard, conjuring up some of the magic they created with their unforgettable collaboration on the Thom Bell/Paul Hurtt classic “I’ll Be Around,” which was a hit for the Spinners as well as Freeman when it appeared on his 1994 album Sahara. Freeman composed the funk-drenched composition “Reach Higher,” at the piano and highlights his buttery synths and gritty guitar licks alongside Belled’s driving bass lines, Fields’ soulful sax melodies and the high-octane drumming of Karasony. Freeman confides, “I'm a guitar player by trade, but I spend most of my time playing keyboards!”

“Dreamcatcher” is ethereal and wistful and “Golden Child,” is a blues fueled number with stop-time rhythms that will have you dancing before you know it. In typical fashion, The Rippington’s leave us with something to remember with the album’s unforgettable title track. It is a divine, dramatic, impressionistic and contemplative track that highlights Brandon Fields’ sublime soprano and a wonderful piano solo from Freeman. “I’m so pleased to have Brandon back with The Ripps,” says the guitarist. “Our collaboration precedes the band going back to my first solo album. Our communication is effortless and I am amazed at how he is able to always interpret my melody writing.”

Devoted fans of the The Rippingtons are well acquainted with the band’s beloved, spunky and funky mascot, the jazz cat, who has graced all 22 album covers. “I love the outlandish graphics which were intentionally calibrated. I was specific about wanting octopus tentacles for the jazz cat and gave designer Bill Mayer the backdrop of 40s era comic books, preferably set to the landscape of Mars, “laughs Freeman. Now who said jazz has no sense of humor?!

“Musical inspiration is a triage of sonics, melody, and visual reference,” states Russ Freeman. His approach to composition is similar to that of a mixed-medium painter, in which he engages all the senses and employs disparate techniques. Hurling unique instrumentation, wide-ranging dynamics and contrasting textures upon his auditory canvas, he pushes the boundaries sonically, harmonically, rhythmically and emotionally. Freeman, who got his big break early on as a composer, understands how important the right elements are to create the perfect musical climate. In fact, Freeman and the Rippingtons have been known to work with The American Association of Music Therapy to conduct clinics in therapeutic settings, using their music as a therapeutic tool.

The Nashville born, LA based guitarist began studying classical guitar at age eleven and picked up the guitar four years later. Such iconic players as Larry Carlton, Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Paco de Lucia and James Taylor, among others, have influenced Freeman’s own distinctive style through the years. “I have always attributed the band’s success to our loyal fans,” says the humble maverick. A testament to Freeman’s Midas touch and the reverence his peers have for him is the who list of stars who have been featured with The Rippingtons through the years. Some of those artists include vocalists Patti Austin, Jeffrey Osborne and The Whispers, pianists Bob James, Joe Sample and David Benoit and saxophonists Kenny G, Jeff Kashiwa, Paul Taylor and Kirk Whalum, to name a few. Freeman’s dynamic and adventurous compositions have long been a centerpiece of The Rippingtons’ signature sound. “Once I learned to free myself from self imposed constraints, I found new ways to express ideas musically,” explains Freeman. The Rippingtons’ irresistible auditory confection has catapulted their albums to the top of the charts time and time again. In fact, virtually all of their recordings have hit Top 5 on the Contemporary jazz charts and several have landed #1 albums including Welcome To the St. James Club, Curves Ahead, Tourist in Paradise, Sahara and Black Diamond. “I try to always respect the limited time we have, and treat each day as the last,” shares the visionary and virtuosic guitarist, keyboardist, composer and producer. This mindset, spiritual grounding and deep understanding of how to operate in gratitude, has allowed the multi-instrumentalist to explore the realms of possibility, making him a pioneer in the music game. Russ Freeman has made a name for himself defying the odds and redefining himself every step of the way and he’s not done yet.

True Stories is a testament to the unwavering artistry of Russ Freeman and The Rippingtons and confirmation that there are still many more tales to be told. “I’m trying to reach for a place I have not been. I’m looking for inspiration. I never look back. ”It is this forward momentum that propels the notes on True Stories and keeps the listeners yearning for the next chapter.

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Wild Tales and Native Sons Of A Distant Land - The Rippingtons f. Russ F...

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Imagineer Corrado Rustici explores expressive new sonicscapes using only the guitar on “Aham,” arriving July 15 #jazz

Eager to emerge from the “trance” and “lack of imagination” plaguing electric guitarists for the past several decades, Corrado Rustici devoted six years to exploring sounds and expansive musical contexts utilizing only the guitar as his field of experimentation and expression. The imaginative results are the nine songs he composed that together form “Aham,” an audacious collection of ambient fusion, progressive jazz, ethereal rock, moody pop, and dramatic classical performed and produced by Rustici set for release in the U.S. on July 15.   
Rustici’s aural pursuit began in conjunction with a spiritual quest, an existential search into his being, which conjointly led to exploring the essential nature of his perception of music. Everything that you hear on “Aham,” a Sanskrit word meaning “I am,” from what sounds like drums, bass, strings, woodwinds and voice were created exclusively using electric and acoustic guitars through analog pedals and digital plug-ins. The only exceptions are two vocal tracks – one by Rustici on the poetic confessional “The Guilty Thread” and another featuring the soulful tenor voice of Andrew Strong (“The Commitments”) on the fantastical adventure “Alcove Of Stars” – and handclaps on the meandering balladic sojourn “The Last Light Spoken.” The artist did not use synthesizers, samplers or electronic instruments anywhere on the album.
When I started to write the music for this album, I wanted to find out how far this wonderful instrument and I could go. During six years of work and experimentation, I’ve been incredibly surprised by the guitar’s versatility and sonic capabilities , which have been seldom used or almost totally ignored up to this point. The deeper I went, I became more and more enthused and excited about the little and big secrets that the instrument kept revealing to me. The way in which the music was conceived and produced created some limitations, constrictions and a distinctive sonic palette, all of which contributed to the overall sound and mood of the album. I hope that after six years of R&D, I was able to create a musical space within which one can hear the first baby cry of what I like to call the ‘Transmodern Guitar,’” said Rustici, who as a byproduct of his work on “Aham” is designing and developing a couple of guitar pedals with DV Mark that will be unvieled in January 2017 at the NAMM Show.  
To Rustici, it was important that the songs on “Aham,” including the epic two-part title track opus, connect with listeners meaningfully and are capable of shining on their own merits, and do not simply become guitar demos for his revolutionary techniques and ingenuity. 
“I was absolutely not interested in recording a ‘shredder’ project. In the end, it’s not important how we construct a piece of music, but only if and in which way a musician is capable of creating that emotional and – always virtual - space within which both the artist and the listener find a way to share the joy, the pain and the very reason for our ‘Existence.’” 
The Naples, Italy native will perform music from “Aham” on home soil in November in support of the album, which Sony Classical is releasing in that territory next month. After leading his own band (Nova) in the mid-to-late 1970s, which included collaborations with Phil Collins and hit-maker Narada Michael Walden, Rustici relocated to California and has been a San Francisco resident since 1978. As an award-winning producer, Rustici helped craft a library of No. 1 Billboard singles in Europe and multi-million selling albums working with global superstars such as Zucherro, Paul Young and  Luciano Pavorotti. In 2007, he became the first producer to simultaneously occupy the top 3 spots on the Nielsen chart with three different artists (Ligabue, Negramaro and Renga). Over the years, his passion for sonic innovation has resulted in unearthing now widely accepted and used production methods such as Push & Pull, which combines the irreverent approach of rock and pop with the softer and more evocative effect of ambient music. As a solo artist, his previous releases are “Deconstruction Of A Postmodern Musician" (2007) and “Blaze & Bloom: Live In Japan” (2014), the latter of which was also issued as a DVD. For more information, please visit         
Rustici’s “Aham” contains the following songs:
“As Dark Bleeds Light”
“Ananda’s First Steps”
“The Duke And The Hare”
“The Guilty Thread”
“Roots Of Progression”
“Alcove Of Stars”
“The Last Light Spoken”
AHAM Suite:
Part 1: “The Enquiry”
Part 2: “Aham”

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - June 20, 2016 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - 3rd Force - "Glocal Force" - (Baja/TSR)
2 - 2 - Adam Hawley - "Just The Beginning" - (Kalimba)
3 - 3 - Fourplay - "Silver - (Concord Music Group)
4 - 4 - Paolo Rustichelli - "Don't Stop (Soul Italiano)" - (Next Age Music)
5 - 5 - Marcus Anderson - "And Coffee" - (Anderson Music-LLC)
6 - 11 - Euge Groove - "Still Euge" - (Shanachie)
7 - 12 - Kim Waters - "Rhythm and Romance" - (Shanachie)
8 - 15 - Paul Jackson Jr. - "Stories From Stompin' Willie - (Branch, Records Inc.)
9 - 9 - Boney James - "Futuresoul" - (Concord)
10 - 7 - Nils - "Alley Cat" - (Baja/TSR)
11 - 14 - Vincent Ingala - "Coast To Coast" - (Independent)
12 - 10 - Andy Snitzer - "American Beauty" - (Goose Song Music)
13 - 8 - Najee - "You Me And Forever" - (Shanachie)
14 - 30 - The Rippingtons - "True Stories" - (Peak/eONE)
15 - 6 - BWB - "BWB" - (Artistry/Mack Avenue)
16 - 13 - Michael Lington - "Second Nature" - (Copenhagen Music)
17 - 19 - Grace Kelly - "Trying To Figure It Out" - (Pazz)
18 - 20 - Julian Vaughn - "Limitless" - (
19 - 22 - Greg Adams & East Bay Soul - "That's Life" - (Ripa Records)
20 - 35 - Steve Cole - Turn It Up - (Artistry/Mack Avenue)

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Steve Cole - "Turn It Up" - Release on Artistry Musc July 15th - #jazz

Known for consistently cranking out chart-topping singles that deploy big vibrant pop hooks, contemporary jazz saxophonist Steve Cole conjures a sonic escapade with the hypnotic “Mirage,” the first single from his forthcoming eighth album, “Turn It Up,” which will be released July 15 by Artistry Music. Radio programmers were instantly spellbound, making the track from the David Mann-produced set of R&B grooves and soul-powered sojourns the No. 1 most added single on the Billboard BDS chart.

The entrancing single on which electronic beats bombard the senses before chill tenor and soprano sax leads and a soothing trumpet undercurrent take command of the illusion is one of nine new songs on the session, eight of which were composed or co-composed by Cole. The tune reflects his hometown roots and ardor for Chicago’s dance music scene. It’s one of three major cities that helped shape the collection.

“I embarked on ‘Turn It Up’ with the goal of making music with great musicians and great friends in great cities. This time around I wrote much of the music with Dave Mann in New York City. We recorded horns, guitars and vocals there as well. The energy in that great city was truly inspiring and it really is reflected in the music. Next stop was Minneapolis, where I worked with the great keyboardist and producer Ricky Peterson. Ricky and I wrote the song ‘Workhouse’ together, a track influenced by our love of Chicago house music. Dave joined us later in Minneapolis to record Ricky on the Hammond B3 organ as well as to record my Chicago pals, bassist Lamar Jones and drummer Khari Parker. I decided to track all of the saxophone parts in Minneapolis as well,” explained Cole, who has a slate of festival and club dates running into mid-October to help support the album release.

Cole and Mann have been collaborating ever since Cole’s sophomore record, “Between Us” (2000). In addition to helming the production on “Turn It Up,” multi-instrumentalist Mann often shadows Cole on alto and soprano sax to add depth, thickness, volume and intensity to the layers upon layers of horns – alto, tenor and soprano saxophones, trumpet, trombone and flute. Aside from the back-to-back dance music workouts that close the album, Cole’s energizing pop melodies and hooky harmonies on the disc are presented as soulful R&B joints. The saxman dusted off Bobby Womack’s “Woman’s Gotta Have It,” teamed up with fresh-faced keyboardist Nicholas Cole on “Turn It Up!” and yielded the spotlight on “Bright Side” to Pieces of a Dream’s James Lloyd, the author of the sunny mid-tempo smile, who solos on piano.

“In the end, I really accomplished what I set out to do,” Cole surmised. “The music reflects all of the diverse backgrounds and personalities that brought it to life. There was a lot of laughter and good times throughout this journey. I think that’s why I’ve got such a big smile on my face on the album cover. After all, it’s supposed to be fun…and it sure was!”

Cole’s 1998 award-winning arrival onto the contemporary jazz scene was the Brian Culbertson-produced “Stay Awhile” that spawned a pair of No. 1 singles. Solo tours and prominent sideman gigs with Culbertson, Boz Scaggs, Rick Braun, Peter White, Jeff Lorber and Larry Carlton served to rapidly multiply his fervent fan base exponentially while successive albums and singles repeatedly took Cole to the top of the charts, establishing him as a radio playlist favorite. In addition to his own recordings, Cole records and performs regularly as a member of Sax Pack, an all-star sax combo consisting of rotating members Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters, Jackiem Joyner and Marcus Anderson. For more information, please visit

The songs contained on “Turn It Up” are:
“Turn It Up!”
“She’s The One”
“Bright Side”
“Woman’s Gotta Have It”
“Laws Of Attraction”
“Life Is A Groove”

Catch Cole in concert on the following dates:
June 16-19 London, England Pizza Express
July 4 Irondale, AL Jazz in the Park
July 14 Branford, CT Branford Jazz on the Green
July 15 Norfolk, VA Norfolk Waterfront Jazz Festival
July 16 Atlanta, GA Wade Ford Concert Series – Mable House
August 14 Long Beach, CA Long Beach Jazz Festival
August 17 Dearborn, MI Jazz on the Ave
August 18 Philadelphia, PA South Jazz Club
August 20 San Antonio, TX Big Bib Too
September 3 Pensacola, FL Gulf Coast Summerfest – Jazz Edition
September 16 Denver, CO Soiled Dove Underground
October 15-16 Rehoboth Beach, DE Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Magnet’s push to redefine “Global Warming” #jazz

Veteran Icelandic keyboardist reunites with longtime friend, two-time Grammy® winner Paul Brown, for a soul-jazz album with a purpose: spreading harmony, love and understanding.  
There is nothing in the ten new songs that make up Jack Magnet’s Woodward Avenue Records’ debut, “Global Warming,” released Friday, that will inflame naysayers who deny climate change or its impact on the environment. It’s not that kind of album. Iceland’s popular musical export is on an entirely different mission: to reset minds using instrumental tunes to bring back love, peace and understanding to the world. Reteaming with his collaborator and friend of more than four decades, two-time Grammy®-winning producer Paul Brown, the keyboardist also known as Jakob Magnusson reenters the U.S. marketplace with the first radio single, “Still Boppin’ Along,” a jazz-funk strut.   
“’Global Warming’ is all about spreading the positive, showing empathy and warming up to one another, regardless of place of origin, faith, color of skin or political views. This album is not about climate changes and environmental threats. It is about old and new friends coming together to ignite warm human emotions, seeking to counterbalance all the negativity, the conflicts and threats we´re witnessing in so many places around the globe,” Magnet explained. 
Magnet’s message of harmony is ingrained in the DNA of the nine new compositions he wrote with Brown after the two reconnected at a 2012 jazz festival held in the world’s northernmost capital of Reykjavik where the famed Fender Rhodes keyboardist is based. The pair has roots dating back over forty years when as teenagers, Magnet - then Magnusson - moved into the Brown family home in the suburbs of Los Angeles. “Still Boppin’ Along,” which gets a boost from contemporary jazz hornmen Rick Braun and Elan Trotman on trumpet and saxophone, was originally penned decades ago during the duo’s pre-fame days yet it is thematically suited to the tone of “Global Warming.” Brown, who plays guitar throughout the session, lends an American vibe to Magnet’s Euro-leaning pop-jazz-blues-rock predilections. Magnet and Brown’s “Global Warming” set list is heavily influenced by music from the Mojo Triangle – New Orleans, Nashville and Memphis.
As Magnet describes it, “The music is inspired by the early European composers who developed the harmony and styles that later became the foundation of the musical language developed around New Orleans at the turn of the 20th Century when jazz was born. From Vivaldi, Chopin and Mendelson to Duke EllingtonMiles Davis and Joseph Zawinul.” 
Magnet’s impassioned and lyrical keyboards emote vibrant and joyous melodies, paint poetic and ethereal reflections, and stir emotions with storming sermons. Brown’s sister, Kathy Brown-Babylon, gets in on the act with vocal embellishments on “From The Other Side,” an aptly-titled song that she wrote with her late husband, Elton John’s longtime bassist Guy Babylon. Paul Brown was a bandmate of Magnet’s in a British blues-rock group long ago fronted by Long John Baldry for which Magnet served as a replacement for the original keyboardist, Reg Dwight, who became Elton John. Also performing on the cut is the late drummer Ricky Lawson.   
Magnet has cultivated a diverse recording catalogue that boasts jazz notables Stanley Clarke, Freddie Hubbard, Tom Scott and Richard Elliot as well as pop superstars Elton John and Phil Collins. A colorful and charismatic multimedia talent in his native Iceland, he starred in and produced the country’s biggest film in box office history, “Með allt á hreinu (On Top),” and currently serves as a celebrity judge on television’s “Iceland’s Got Talent.” For more information, please visit
“Global Warming” contains the following songs:
“Still Boppin’ Along”
“Funk It Up”
“A Simple Love”
“Strut Yo Stuff”
From The Other Side”
“Compared To Who?”
“Bourbon Street Boogie”

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Jazz luminaries help Romanian refugee realize “The American Dream” #jazz

Damian Draghici’s mission to introduce pan flute to bebop features Chris Botti, Arturo Sandoval, Michel Camilo, Eddie Daniels, Luciana Souza, Stanley Clarke, Brian Bromberg, Frank Gambale & others 
A year before he escaped communism in his native Romania by walking through the mountains of Yugoslavia and into Greece, the seed of Damian Draghici’s dream was planted when he was just a 17-year-old teenager who snuck into a Bucharest nightclub to watch a set by an American jazz combo. Nearly 30 years later, his vision will finally come to fruition on July 8 when Century Jazz Records issues “The American Dream,” a 13-song disc of standards produced by Dan Siegel and Tom McCauley that showcases the pan flutist collaborating with nearly two dozen jazz, Brazilian and Latin music greats, Grammy winners, icons and top-shelf musicians. Preceding the album at jazz radio is the sultry bossa nova “Ceora,” an exquisite duet with trumpeter Chris Botti.
As trumpeter Randy Brecker soloed in the crowed club that 1987 evening, what sparked Draghici’s imagination was recording a jazz album that would feature the tones, textures and the unique voice produced on the hollow-tubed bamboo instrument, the pan flute. “The American Dream” also pays homage to the jazz giants that influenced Draghici’s artistic expression.    
"’The American Dream’ has been a dream of mine for a while now,” Draghici recalls. “Here’s how the story started almost 30 years ago. When I was 17 years-old during the communist times in Bucharest, Romania, I saw and heard for the first time real American jazz musicians playing live. That was the moment I fell in love with jazz and I knew that I had to go to America to learn jazz - to play and improvise bebop on my instrument - to become the Bebop Pan-piper.”
Twenty years ago, Draghici first arrived in America to attend the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston on a full scholarship, which is where he linked up and began working with a bevy of premier jazz musicians, including drummers Vinnie Colaiuta and Dave Weckl, who keep time on “The American Dream.” The respect Draghici garners from his musician peers helped him attract an impressive list of guest soloists who perform on the collection, including Botti, trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, clarinetist Eddie Daniels, Grammy-winning pianist Michel Camilo, Grammy-winning vocalist Luciana Souza and Grammy-winning guitar virtuoso Frank Gambale along with a stellar ensemble of internationally-renown players such as Siegel, Stanley Clarke, Brian Bromberg, Russell Ferrante (Yellowjackets), Tom Kennedy, Alan Broadbent, Charlie Bisharat, Alex Acuna, Luis Conte, Paulinho Da Costa, Oscar Castro Neves, Mitchel Forman, Otmaro Ruiz, Ramon Stagnaro and Jorge Calandrelli. With so much talent gathered around Draghici’s improvisational pan flute forays and flourishes, the musicianship throughout the session is masterful while Siegel and McCauley’s acoustic jazz production is warm and organic.
The set list Draghici & Company chose to reimagine consists of selections from Charlie Parker (album opener “Donna Lee”), Lee Morgan (“Ceora”), John Coltrane (“Giant Steps”), Chick Corea (“Spain”), Antonio Carlos Jobim (“Modhina” and “One Note Samba”); Michel Legrand, Marilyn & Alan Bergman and Jacques Denny (“You Must Believe In Spring”); Keith Jarrett (“My Song”), Pat Metheny (“See The World”), Bill Evans (“Waltz For Debbie”) Castro Neves (“More Than Yesterday”) and Cesar Camargo Mariano (“Curumin”) as well as Camilo’s “From Within.” Inventive arrangements chisel space in the elaborately-constructed cuts for the pan flute harmonics, genteel vocalizations and stirring melodies knitted from piano, guitar, horns and strings to effortlessly waft beauty and splendor on quieter numbers. More aggressive tracks are granted the expanse to expound dexterously on playgrounds of layered percussion and sinewy basslines.      
Recognized as an award-winning prodigy when he was a teenager in Romania before seeking refuge in Greece, Draghici landed a record deal after busking on the streets of Athens, garnering acclaim in Europe. He’s toured with an array of signature artists that spans James Brown, Joe Cocker, Cyndi Lauper, Shaggy and Gypsy Kings. In 2006, he formed Damian & Brothers with “his gypsy brothers,” adopting the purpose of changing the perception of gypsy music globally. They toured extensively throughout Europe performing over 600 concerts in three years. Draghici now splits his time living in the valley near Los Angeles and abroad. For more information, please visit         
Draghici’s “The American Dream” contains the following songs:
“Donna Lee” with Arturo Sandoval
“Ceora” with Chris Botti
“Giant Steps” with Eddie Daniels
“From Within” with Michel Camilo
“Modhina” with Luciana Souza
“You Must Believe In Spring”
“My Song”
“More Than Yesterday”
“See The World”
“Curumin” with Frank Gambale
“Waltz For Debbie”
“One Note Samba”

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - June 13, 2016 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - 3rd Force - "Glocal Force" - (Baja/TSR)
2 - 2 - Adam Hawley - "Just The Beginning" - (Kalimba)
3 - 5 - Fourplay - "Silver - (Concord Music Group)
4 - 9 - Paolo Rustichelli - "Don't Stop (Soul Italiano)" - (Next Age Music)
5 - 3 - Marcus Anderson - "And Coffee" - (Anderson Music-LLC)
6 - 8 - BWB - "BWB" - (Artistry/Mack Avenue)
7 - 4 - Nils - "Alley Cat" - (Baja/TSR)
8 - 7 - Najee - "You Me And Forever" - (Shanachie)
9 - 6 - Boney James - "Futuresoul" - (Concord)
10 - 10 - Andy Snitzer - "American Beauty" - (Goose Song Music)
11 - 14 - Euge Groove - "Still Euge" - (Shanachie)
12 - 45 - Kim Waters - "Rhythm and Romance" - (Shanachie)
13 - 11 - Michael Lington - "Second Nature" - (Copenhagen Music)
14 - 12 - Vincent Ingala - "Coast To Coast" - (Independent)
15 - 24 - Paul Jackson Jr. - "Stories From Stompin' Willie - (Branch, Records Inc.)
16 - 13 - Philippe Saisse Trio - "And So But Then" - (
17 - 20 - Brian Bromberg - "Full Circle" - (Artistry/Mack Avenue)
18 - 15 - Darren Rahn - "Sonic Boom" - (Woodward Avenue Records)
19 - 16 - Grace Kelly - "Trying To Figure It Out" - (Pazz)
20 - 21 - Kenya - "My Own Skin" - (Kenya MJ 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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Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - June 6, 2016 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - 3rd Force - "Glocal Force" - (Baja/TSR)
2 - 2 - Adam Hawley - "Just The Beginning" - (Kalimba)
3 - 5 - Marcus Anderson - "And Coffee" - (Anderson Music-LLC)
4 - 3 - Nils - "Alley Cat" - (Baja/TSR)
5 - 7 - Fourplay - "Silver - (Concord Music Group)
6 - 4 - Boney James - "Futuresoul" - (Concord)
7 - 8 - Najee - "You Me And Forever" - (Shanachie)
8 - 6 - BWB - "BWB" - (Artistry/Mack Avenue)
9 - 9 - Paolo Rustichelli - "Don't Stop (Soul Italiano)" - (Next Age Music)
10 - 11 - Andy Snitzer - "American Beauty" - (Goose Song Music)
11 - 10 - Michael Lington - "Second Nature" - (Copenhagen Music)
12 - 13 - Vincent Ingala - "Coast To Coast" - (Independent)
13 - 12 - Philippe Saisse Trio - "And So But Then" - (
14 - 26 - Euge Groove - "Still Euge" - (Shanachie)
15 - 15 - Darren Rahn - "Sonic Boom" - (Woodward Avenue Records)
16 - 16 - Grace Kelly - "Trying To Figure It Out" - (Pazz)
17 - 21 - Freestyle - "A Little Longer" - (WeLoveMusicRecords)
18 - 17 - Gregg Adams & Easy Bay Soul - "That's Life" - (Ripa Records)
19 - 20 - Jeff Lorber Fusion - "Step It Up" - (Heads Up)
20 - 14 - Brian Bromberg - "Full Circle" - (Artistry/Mack Avenue)

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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Joseph Patrick Moore Looks Back #jazz

On June 24th, 2016 Blue Canoe Records will release “Decade II 2006-2015” from baseman and producer, Joseph Patrick Moore. Mr. Moore looks back over the past decade and remixes the hits for a fresh new perspective. His work fuses elements of contemporary jazz, for which Mr. Moore is famous, with funk, rock, pop, urban, spiritual and even electronica for a compilation that keeps listeners on their toes.

Joseph Patrick Moore is a prolific jazz, pop and rock musician as well as producer, session musician, film composer and author. He has worked with artists such as Stewart Copeland (The Police), Earl Klugh, Bob James, Chris Duarte, Celtic Women Lisa Kelly and Chloe Agnew to name a few. “Decade II” is fresh on the heels of “XYZ Factor” and “To Africa With Love” where Mr. Moore coupled its release with a mission trip to Africa. There he was involved personally on the front line of support for the amazing and lost continent. JPM gives a taste of all…work from soundtracks (Path To Geshe), solo work (XYZ Factor and To Africa With Love), group projects (The RockTronix) and projects with friends (Christmas Time Is Here with Dan Baraszu and work with Soulful
genius Chinua Hawk).

“Decade II” opens with the expansive “Ubuntu” originally on “To Africa With Love” (2010). Mr Moore leads with a looped bass formation and drives a powerful line over the top. Joined by supportive guitar and keyboards, the melody tells a beautiful story of hope Moore saw during his time spend in Africa. The anthem finally gives way to a subtle electronic feel in the melody as it fades to the next track.

“Quest” is a song that JPM wrote for Yonrico Scott’s solo album, “Quest Of The Big Drum”,featuring Scott (Grammy winning drummer with The Derek Trucks Band and Royal Southern Brotherhood) and Nick Rosen. The listener enters the song on a light bed of keyboards with chaotic bass playing over the top. The chaos gradually finds peace with a deep, impassioned funk rock groove with a tantalizing melody from Rosen’s keyboard. Quest indeed!

“Magnificent Obsession” is a rock number from Mr. Moore’s band The RockTronix that is saturated with mischievous interplay between Chris Blackwell’s guitar and Mr. Moore’s sparse fretless bass line. The testimony builds throughout, graduating from funky, colorful guitar textures to full on rock guitar and back again. “Magnificent Obsession” shows again not only the versatility of Mr. Moore but also the capability of his accomplices.

“Decade II 2006-2015” is a comprehensive look at the last ten years from a true music talent of our day. Joseph Patrick Moore manages to fuse current and classic and he makes it look easy. Truly, the listener is left impatient…what will the next “Decade” bring?

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