Friday, April 28, 2017

Introducing Stokley set for June 23, 2017 release on Concord Records #jazz

After over two decades as the lead vocalist for the incomparable hit-making R&B band Mint Condition, singer and two-time GRAMMY Award nominee Stokley charters a new course with his breathtaking debut solo album Introducing Stokley, set for release on June 23, 2017 via Concord Records. Featuring guest appearances by the likes of GRAMMY-winning jazz pianist Robert Glasper and Estelle as well as some production from multi-platinum duo Carvin Haggins & Ivan Barias, Introducing Stokley is a refreshing artistic statement rooted in the soul music tradition from one of R&B’s most remarkable voices.
Hailing from the Minnesota twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Stokley was reared in a family that fostered a deep devotion to musical and cultural expression. Showing an affinity for the drums early on, he began seeking out opportunities in the fertile musical landscape of his environment. Coming of age at the peak of Minneapolis’ intense affair with the pop and R&B charts, the city was a virtual hotbed of talent in which Stokley would be groomed for imminent, monumental success. Surrounded by acts like the Time, the Jets and the omnipresent Prince and the Revolution, he began earning his stripes as a drummer and vocalist.
In the mid-1980s, Stokley became a founding member of what was the genesis of Mint Condition. After several years of gigs and paid dues, a stroke of serendipity saw the band cross paths with that of lauded multiplatinum producers and hometown heroes Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. Fresh off the success of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, the two former members of the Time had just inked a deal with A&M Records to distribute their own label, Perspective Records. Jam & Lewis recruited Mint Condition to their label’s roster and released their debut album Meant to Be Mint in 1991.
The group soon found success in their now-classic single “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes).” The song broke through on the pop and R&B charts, reaching #6 on the Billboard 100 and #3 on the Billboard R&B chart and was eventually certified gold. In 1993, the band released its sophomore effort From the Mint Factory. The lead single “U Send Me Swingin’” hit #2 on the Billboard R&B chart and was a testament to the group’s intrinsic ability to craft sublime songs that crystalized contemporary R&B sensibilities with a live band aesthetic.
Continuing their winning streak, Mint Condition released Definition of a Band three years later. The album contained the Billboard Top 40 hit “What Kind of Man Would I Be,” which was also certified gold. Definition of a Band would also become the group’s first gold-certified album. Mint Condition signed with Elektra Records and released their fourth effort, Life’s Aquarium. The album produced yet another Billboard Top 40 hit for the group in the form of “If You Love Me.”
Following Life’s Aquarium, Mint Condition made the collective decision to continue on their journey by taking the reins of their career and young legacy by independently releasing subsequent efforts, the first of which being Livin’ the Luxury Brown, unveiled in 2005. As the group’s first self-released foray, the album reached #54 on the Billboard 200, #11 on the Billboard R&B chart, was #1 on Billboard’s Top Independent Albums chart and was nominated for a Soul Train Music Award. Building on their newfound independent success, the group followed up with E-Life (2008), 7 (2011) and Music at the Speed of Life (2012). In 2017, Healing Season (2016) was GRAMMY-nominated for Best R&B Album.
Apart from his band dynamic, Stokley has been an in-demand session drummer and vocalist in the industry for quite some time, performing on recordings by artists such as Elton John, New Edition, Usher and the late Prince. Over the years, Stokley also began to expand his repertoire as a producer and featured vocalist. In 2011, Stokley co-produced and dueted with R&B recording artist Kelly Price on the hit “Not My Daddy.” The song reached #22 on the Billboard R&B chart and received two GRAMMY nominations in the categories of Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song. The following year, Stokley lent his vocals to a cover of the 2008 Mint Condition song “Why Do We Try” featured on Robert Glasper Experiment’s GRAMMY-winning Black Radio album.
Stokley also built bridges within the hip-hop community, appearing on projects by the likes of A Tribe Called Quest founding member Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Tech N9ne and Brother Ali. Fortifying his relationship with that community, he also co-produced several tracks on Maybach Music Group recording artist Wale’s critically acclaimed 2013 album The Gifted as well as his 2015 album The Album About Nothing—both of which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Stokley also fortified his ties to the jazz community with guest features on albums such as Brian Culbertson’s 2012 Verve Records release Dreams and the Billboard #1 best-selling Contemporary Jazz Record of 2015 by saxophonist Boney James entitled futuresoul.
And while Stokley was content with his band of brothers in Mint Condition as well as his outside collaborative endeavors, he realized that the time had come for him to embark on a musical voyage in a vessel meant for him to steer alone. Introducing Stokley finds the singer stepping into the spotlight, a vibrant portrait of an artist on a quest to cultivate a creative statement as an individual. The album offers listeners a fresh perspective of a dynamic voice that has resonated with core fans around the world for over two decades. “I’ve been gearing up for a minute,” he says. “My thirst has been building. And I’ve been moving at a great pace with Mint Condition. But I just want to take some time to move differently right now. I think one should experience everything life has to offer. And if you have a gift, and most of all the ambition, you should do it.”
Though he’d amassed several albums worth of material over the years, he knew his debut had to be special and was steadfast in pursuit of the goal to ensure the project was founded on a clean slate. “I got tired of just hearing my own voice,” says Stokley. “I didn’t want to feel too isolated. I wanted different textures. So I invited people to come in.” To that effect, he enlisted the efforts of Carvin Haggins & Ivan Barias. Responsible for the success and hits behind such multi-platinum acts as Musiq, Jill Scott, Ledesi and Faith Evans, the Philadelphia-based duo contribute to the fabric of Introducing Stokley in a way that superbly compliments Stokley’s mellifluous vocal style. “They’re like a young, East Coast Jimmy & Terry,” says Stokley. “They know the industry pretty well and also have kept their finger on the pulse of what’s happening musically over the years.”
Introducing Stokley also includes co-writing contributions from Sam Dew and Los Angeles-based songwriting group the A Team. “Putting all these different energies,” he reflects. “Collaboration is a great thing. It’s how you make the world work. I’m a musician at heart, so I wanted to pick people that are just incredible.”
The album’s groove-laden lead single “Level” finds Stokley wielding his mighty pen as a songwriter, weaving lyrics of affirmation over a propulsive rhythm guitar-driven track produced by Stokley. “We all seek to find someone or something that fits just right for us,” he says. “Everybody wants something that fits with them comfortably. Something on their level.”
The Haggins & Barias-produced “Organic” is a take on the human compulsion for acceptance and how individuality can be compromised in the pursuit. “I hear a lot of women particularly speaking about the concept of fitting in, with regard to styles, personalities,” he muses. “A lot of women think that’s what makes them more appealing, when it was actually better when they were just being themselves.” The singer notes that the title “Organic” is also a nod to his newly vegan lifestyle.
Partially inspired by current sociopolitical events and the deliberateness and critical commentary of Marvin Gaye’s landmark 1971 hit “What’s Going On,” “We/Me” finds Stokley reverberating with the times in an earnest yet piercing take on various sociopolitical state of affairs buoyed by undertones of the Motown sound. “It’s a social statement that takes a look at what’s going on around the world,” he says of the song. “I didn’t want to be preachy, but I knew I had to say something. When you’re taking in all this energy, you have to let it out somehow.”
“Art in Motion” (featuring Robert Glasper) is a wondrous, sonic hybrid of eras and production techniques. “I came up during a time when it was just about analog,” he says. “But I also love digital. I love new technology and new sounds. So here, I’m bridging a gap between these two worlds. The song has electronic elements as well as analog.”
Shifting gears, the dancehall-flavored, Stokley-produced “Wheels Up” exudes maximum island vibes and features Jamaican singer Omi (of the 2011 triple-platinum hit “Cheerleader”). “I grew up playing steel pan drums in a lot of reggae bands,” Stokley mentions. “So this is my ode to West Indian culture.” Apart from its festive flare, the song also extols the virtues of holding fast to one’s passion in life. “It’s about going for it,” he says. “Your dreams; your goals. We’ve only got one life. So do whatever it is that you were put here to do.”
It has been said that good things come to those who wait. Fans have been patiently biding their time in hopes of a solo project from the lead vocalist of one of the most important R&B bands of the past several decades. With the bowing of Introducing Stokley it’s safe to say the wait is over. “Artistically, I wanted to say something different and take it a few degrees away from what I’ve done in the past,” contemplates Stokley. “Obviously some of it is going to be familiar, because of my voice. I’ve just expanded my sensibilities a bit more. Introducing Stokley is a look at the past and the future. The fresh and the familiar.”

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Plugged In: Saxophonist Elan Trotman adds EDM beats to his Caribbean-jazz fusion #jazz

The “Electro Sax” album is released as the tropical “Island Gal’” prepares to charm radio.
Saxophonist Elan Trotman is unwavering in his committed to wave the flag high for Caribbean music, but after releasing six soul-jazz albums and more than ten chart-topping singles that made him a permanent fixture on radio playlists, the Barbados native is “shaking it up” by going electronic on “Electro Sax,” his seventh outing which was released last Friday (April 21) by Island Muzik Productions.
Seeking a “hip radio sound that will reach beyond the masses,” Trotman assembled a creative team of up-and-coming producers – Spardakis, P-Nut, Dr. O and Da Troof - who he met at Boston’s esteemed Berklee College of Music and tasked them with putting a fresh, modern twist on the eleven new tracks that he wrote for the collection. With electronic elements evident in the production of Trotman’s tenor and soprano sax and the adventurous EDM sonicscapes, the result is an energizing, dance-happy mix of impromptu jazz sax licks, kinetic dance beats and festive Caribbean rhythms. Adding nuances to the audacious alchemy are guitarists Wayne Jones, Freddie Fox and JJ Sansavarino, and steel pan player Kareem Thompson. The first single set to seduce radio is the reggae-infused “Island Gal’,” which spotlights Trotman on soprano sax on the cut he describes as having “a sexy vibe to it.” Prince fans will appreciate the balladic tribute “Purple Emotion” that closes the set. The session’s lone cover is a tropical, dance hall take of Walk The Moon’s infectious pop smash “Shut Up and Dance.”  
“’Electro Sax’ is a true representation of where I am at in my career. It’s modern sounding with prominent hints of the island. It’s also about branching out, reaching out by making good music for the masses. It’ll definitely ruffle feathers, but that is part of being an artist - pushing boundaries and perhaps establishing new ones,” said Trotman. “The ‘tropicality’ elements are part of who I am and I’m sticking with it. It’ll always be part of my sound and I believe in it. It is part of my brand and it’s authentic to my (Barbadian) roots.”
Trotman showcases and shares the culture of his homeland at his annual Barbados Jazz Excursion, slated to take place on the Caribbean island for the fourth time in October over Columbus Day Weekend (October 6-9, 2017). The saxman performs and hosts the music festival and golf tournament that benefits his nonprofit Never Lose Your Drive Foundation and the Head Start Music Program in Barbados. Slated to perform this year are R&B and contemporary jazz mainstays Will Downing, Norman Brown, Marion Meadows, Brian Simpson, Jeanette Harris and Julian Vaughn as well as the Queen of Soca, Alison Hinds.
Earning a full scholarship at Berklee College of Music from the government of Barbados, Trotman has lived in Boston ever since. Named the Jazz Artist of the Year on multiple occasions by the New England Urban Music Awards and the Barbados Music Awards, he debuted as a solo artist in 2009 with “This Time Around.” Subsequent albums featured collaborations with Grammy winners Kirk Whalum, Terri Lyne Carrington and Paul Brown as well as Downing, Peter White, Jeff Lorber, Cindy Bradley, Tony Terry and Simpson. Trotman has also guested on Billboard No. 1 hits by Meadows, Simpson, Vaughn, Greg Manning and Cal Harris. He’s a popular draw on the festival and club circuit. For more information, please visit
The songs on “Electro Sax” are:
“Happy Place”
“Electro Sax”
“Barbados Breeze”
“Island Gal’”
“Chill Cat”
“Shut Up and Dance”
“Up In The Clouds”
“No Need For Trippin’”
“120 BPM”
“Purple Emotion”

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Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - April 24, 2017 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Nathan East - "Reverence" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group)
2 - 2 - Rick Braun - "Around The Horn" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
3 - 4 - Norman Brown - "Let It Go" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
4 - 6 - Marc Antoine - "Laguna Beach" - (Woodward Avenue)
5 - 3 - Paul Brown - "One Way Back" - (Woodward Avenue)
6 - 9 - Richard Elliot - "Summer Madness" - (Heads Up/Concord)
7 - 5 - Gerald Albright - "G" - (Bright)
8 - 8 - Lindsey Webster - "Back To Your Heart" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
9 - 7 - Jeff Lorber Fusion - "Prototype" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
10 - 11 - Brian Culbertson - "Funk!" - (BCM Entertainment)
11 - 10 - Steve Watson - "Playtime" - (WatsonWood)
12 - 20 - John Novello - "Ivory Soul" - (529 Music)
13 - 17 - Peet Project - "Rosy Cheeks" - (Beagle Beat Records)
14 - 14 - Michael Lington - "Second Nature" - (Copenhagen Music)
15 - 12 - Lawson Rollins - "3 Minutes To Midnight" - (Infinita Records)
16 - 13 - Kayla Waters - "Apogee" - (Independent)
17 - 18 - Threestyle - "Road To Monterey" - (Welovemusic Records)
18 - 26 - Cindy Bradley - "Natural" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
19 - 21 - Darren Rahn - "Sonic Boom" - (Woodward Avenue Records)
20 - 15 - Reza Khan - "Wind Dance" - (Painted Media)

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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Monday, April 17, 2017

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - April 17, 2017 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Nathan East - "Reverence" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group)
2 - 2 - Rick Braun - "Around The Horn" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
3 - 3 - Paul Brown - "One Way Back" - (Woodward Avenue)
4 - 7 - Norman Brown - "Let It Go" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
5 - 4 - Gerald Albright - "G" - (Bright)
6 - 5 - Marc Antoine - "Laguna Beach" - (Woodward Avenue)
7 - 19 - Jeff Lorber Fusion - "Prototype" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
8 - 6 - Lindsey Webster - "Back To Your Heart" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
9 - 11 - Richard Elliot - "Summer Madness" - (Heads Up/Concord)
10 - 8 - Steve Watson - "Playtime" - (WatsonWood)
11 - 9 - Brian Culbertson - "Funk!" - (BCM Entertainment)
12 - 10 - Lawson Rollins - "3 Minutes To Midnight" - (Infinita Records)
13 - 16 - Kayla Waters - "Apogee" - (Independent)
14 - 12 - Michael Lington - "Second Nature" - (Copenhagen Music)
15 - 13 - Reza Khan - "Wind Dance" - (Painted Media)
16 - 15 - Peter White - "Groovin' - (Heads Up/Concord)
17 - 23 - Peet Project - "Rosy Cheeks" - (Beagle Beat Records)
18 - 14 - Threestyle - "Road To Monterey" - (Welovemusic Records)
19 - 24 - Greg Manning - "Sugar & Spice" - (Kalimba)
20 - 18 - John Novello - "Ivory Soul" - (529 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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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Guitarist Blake Aaron is Sirius about making it a “VIVID” spring #jazz

 The vivacious third single from the forthcoming “Color and Passion” album goes for radio adds on April 24.
Guitarist Blake Aaron has been featured multiple times on SiriusXM over the past week as part of Jazz Appreciation Month just as his vibrant new single, “VIVID,” is preparing to bloom brightly. The third single issued in advance of his upcoming “Color and Passion” album, Aaron wrote and produced the multihued bouquet of invigorating instrumental dance music, power pop horns and glossy R&B grooves that surround fragrant stems of fresh electric jazz guitar flourishes. On the way to radio stations now with an April 24 playlist add date, the perfectly-timed spring fling should happily satiate listeners until Blake’s sixth album streets this fall on Innervision Records.
Last Thursday, the national satellite radio broadcaster’s Watercolors aired a live concert performance by Aaron recorded at the SiriusXM studios in Washington, DC. On Sunday, the guitarist who hosted his own nationally syndicated radio show for seven years hung out on the “Dave Koz Lounge” with the affable sax sensation. This week, Aaron served as guest DJ on Tuesday and although he took command of the air waves, he didn’t sneak in the new single before the official add date.
“No, not yet,” he chuckled. “’VIVID’ is my feel good track of the spring/summer. With real Earth, Wind & Fire-style horns and tons of energetic, bright melodic hooks, I am proud to say that this is one of my most infectious grooves and most intense productions I've done to date. Vivid is how I try to live my life and it is how I try to teach my kids to live their lives. Be uniquely you - boldly and with passion. Be you - vividly.”     
Aaron’s last collection, 2015’s “Soul Stories,” spawned five Billboard Top 10 singles. “Color and Passion” aims to continue his run of chart success with a chromatic and intense fusion of sounds and styles – funk, R&B, soul, jazz, rock, blues and Latin music. While the first three singles - “Summer Ride,” “Godfather Brown” and “VIVID” - are upbeat and full of life, the disc will also include intimate ballads allowing Aaron to showcase his lyrically expressive guitar on downtempo numbers.     
Aaron recently plied his soulful fretwork on three songs for urban-jazz chart-topper Najee’s forthcoming set. The in-demand session player, sideman, producer and songwriter will celebrate his birthday with an April 29 concert at Southern California hotspot Spaghettini in Seal Beach where he will be joined by two-time Grammy winner Bill Champlin, a singer-songwriter and keyboardist who spent 28 years as a member of the legendary band Chicago. Aaron will hit the road Memorial Day Weekend for performances at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival in Florida (May 26), St. James Live! in Atlanta, GA on a bill shared with saxophonist Tom Braxton and vocalist Kevin Whalum (May 27), and a headline date with Braxton at The King Center in Melbourne, FL (May 28).   

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - April 10, 2017 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Nathan East - "Reverence" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group)
2 - 2 - Rick Braun - "Around The Horn" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
3 - 3 - Paul Brown - "One Way Back" - (Woodward Avenue)
4 - 5 - Gerald Albright - "G" - (Bright)
5 - 4 - Marc Antoine - "Laguna Beach" - (Woodward Avenue)
6 - 7 - Lindsey Webster - "Back To Your Heart" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
7 - 24 - Norman Brown - "Let It Go" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
8 - 6 - Steve Watson - "Playtime" - (WatsonWood)
9 - 10 - Brian Culbertson - "Funk!" - (BCM Entertainment)
10 - 8 - Lawson Rollins - "3 Minutes To Midnight" - (Infinita Records)
11 - 14 - Richard Elliot - "Summer Madness" - (Heads Up/Concord)
12 - 12 - Michael Lington - "Second Nature" - (Copenhagen Music)
13 - 13 - Reza Khan - "Wind Dance" - (Painted Media)
14 - 11 - Threestyle - "Road To Monterey" - (Welovemusic Records)
15 - 15 - Peter White - "Groovin' - (Heads Up/Concord)
16 - 9 - Kayla Waters - "Apogee" - (Independent)
17 - 18 - Darren Rahn - "Sonic Boom" - (Woodward Avenue Records)
18 - 16 - John Novello - "Ivory Soul" - (529 Music)
19 - 17 - Jeff Lorber Fusion - "Prototype" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
20 - 19 - Doc Powell - "This Is Soul" - (DPR Music)

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Thursday, April 06, 2017

Kevin Eubanks - "East West Time Line" - Mack Avenue April 7th - #jazz

Kevin Eubanks Releases East West Time Line Dave Holland, Orrin Evans, Bill Pierce, Marvin "Smitty" Smith, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Nicholas Payton
Mino Cinelu and Rene Camacho

Since his 18-year tenure as guitarist and music director of TV's "The Tonight Show" Band ended in 2010, Philadelphia-born guitarist, composer Kevin Eubanks has been on a creative roll. On East West Time Line, Eubanks explores the chemistry he maintains with musicians on both coasts. And once again, his distinctive fingerstyle approach to the instrument is in the service of tunes that run the stylist gamut from urgent swingers to introspective ballads to Latin-tinged numbers and some get-down Philly funk. 
Joining Eubanks on this stellar outing are longtime collaborator and former Berklee College of Music schoolmate, drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith, who fuels the West Coast outfit alongside seasoned session bassist Rene Camacho, percussionist Mino Cinelu and saxophonist Bill Pierce. Smith's East Coast counterpart on this bi-coastal session is the irrepressibly swinging Jeff "Tain" Watts, a force of nature on the kit who combines with bassist Dave Holland, Philadelphia-based pianist Orrin Evans and New York trumpeter Nicholas Payton for a potent lineup. Together these great musicians bring out the best in Eubanks' six-string prowess and ignite his searching instincts throughout the sessions in Los Angeles and New York.
"Of course, we all came up through New York," says the Philly guitarist who broke in with Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers during the early '80s. "But we also got the benefits of seeing the East Coast down and dirty and Hollywood down and dirty too. We combined both vibes on this recording-the kind of Latin vibe of Los Angeles and the straight-up swinging vibe of New York. 

The album kicks off with "Time Line," an urgent swinger paced by Holland's signature walking groove and Watts' inimitable polyrhythmic burn. Eubanks digs in with fingers on strings in his trademark percussive attack, alternately doubling the baselines and dealing in Wes-style octaves on his solo. Payton also turns in a trumpet solo that bristles with energy and "Tain" is turned loose on the kit at the tag. "There's something a little Philly about that groove. I mean, it's a long way from when I was playing in the neighborhood bands, but basically that's a little Philly vibe in there.

Shifting gears, the East Coast crew next settles into the gentle "Watercolors," which has Payton delivering a beautifully lyrical solo on this melodic track. "This was the first time that I ever played with Nick before," says Eubanks. "I met him once or twice in passing on the road but we've been communicating on Twitter recently and at some point Nick said, 'Man, one day we gotta hit.' That's really how this connection came about. In the studio I told him, 'If you hear it, man, play it! Just feel free.'"  

The more open-ended "Something About Nothing," which closes out the East Coast's grouping, has the whole ensemble exploring collectively with Evans on Rhodes, Eubanks on electric guitar and Payton turning in another exhilarating trumpet solo. "I think the title really describes the song," says the guitarist. "We're dealing with nothing but we're dealing with something. There's the bass line, and the chords are circular so you're free to go wherever you want." 

The West Coast crew opens with a mambo-flavored arrangement of Duke Ellington's "Take The Coltrane." Eubanks digs in with his typically percussive attack on top of the clavé-fueled groove. Eubanks next extrapolates on a motif from Chick Corea's "Captain Señor Mouse," which has him doubling on steel string guitar and bass, accompanied only by Mino Cinelu on percussion and Marvin "Smitty" Smith on drums.

The ensemble's take on Kevin's uncle, Ray Bryant's "Cubano Chant," has the guitarist alternating between acoustic and electric while Bill Pierce supplies a soaring soprano sax solo. The guitarist explains his directive to the musicians on this popular Afro-Cuban flavored number. "I just said, 'Let's just get compassionate on this...let's breathe on this and let it float so it's not all stick it and quit it.' The influence of Latin jazz is undeniable when you're on the West Coast long enough, and I wanted to reflect that in this session."

Following the familiar soprano sax intro on Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," the band leaps into a swinging rendition of that '60s anthem that has Camacho walking persuasively and Eubanks alternately comping pianistically and soloing with Wes Montgomery styled octaves. Smitty's interactive, swinging pulse fuels this uptempo treatment while Pierce explores the melodic theme before taking off on another flowing soprano sax solo. "The idea was to keep it brief, just kind of making a statement of, 'What IS going on?,' given the current social-political climate. And our version just had an uplifting brightness to it."

Overall, Eubanks seems exceedingly pleased with the copacetic nature of his first bi-coastal recording. "I think because I'm so familiar with all the musicians and we played together over the years in different settings, on different tours, that it helped the music quite a bit. There's something that goes with friendship, knowing everybody's journey to a large extent, that really enhances the communication between the players on a session. It's that thing where everybody's pulling for each other to do well and trying to make each other sound better, and you keep your sorry-ass ego out of it. We all have egos, we're human beings and everything, but through the love of the music and wanting the best, good things happen. It's really such a wonderful kind of democracy that you don't see in other things. I think jazz music is the most perfect example of democracy in action."

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Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Soil & "Pimp" Sessions continues their Death Jazz attack via "Black Track" #jazz

The meteoric Japanese band will release their tenth album in the U.S. on April 14.

Jazz won't know what hit it. The artistic purveyors of a super intense, high-voltage brand of aggressive alternative jazz the band dubbed "Death Jazz," Soil & "Pimp" Sessions returns to the U.S. marketplace on April 14 with the release of their tenth album, "Black Track," which will be issued on the Red River Entertainment imprint with distribution via BFD/Sony RED. The six-piece Japanese outfit rips, roars and rages through twelve piping-hot new tunes they penned for the occasion that they produced featuring a unique mélange of screaming and careening jazz rhythms, club-banging hip-hop beats, retro neo soul grooves and rampaging punk rock & roll jams.

The block party begins with "Introduction" during which the band's rapid-fire horns warm up a vintage jazz-funk groove while Soil & "Pimp" Sessions' agitator and spirit Shacho sets the stage for what's to come. Shortly after Midorin's drums kick in on "By Your Side," guest rapper Bambu spits smitten rhymes about a club-crawling, nocturnal adventure with a woman, a joint seduced by a smooth and sultry chorus sung by Nia Andrews, another guest artist. The scalding "BLACK MILK" takes the record on a distinctive hard bop swing as pianist Josei occupies center stage amidst the furious-paced jazz number that affords ample room for the entire band to show off their astute chops - from Motoharu's soprano sax and Tabu Zombie's trumpet to Akita Goldman's upright bass. Japanese vocalist Nagaoka Ryosuke guests on "Connected," a playful, horn-powered amalgam of pop, jazz and rock sprightliness. Soil & "Pimp" Sessions dims the lights to reimagine Herbie Hancock's classic "Cantaloupe Island," which they slow down and venture into the dark-hued abyss of an atmospheric jazz exploration. The festivities crank back up fiesta style on the showstopper "Papaya Pai Pai," part Cab Calloway big band bash, part Latin samba and part cartoonish anime. Precision horns chisel the crazy-legged "88 9th Avenue" that takes sinewy twists and unexpected turns through melodic lanes. Vocalist Xavier Boyer of French indie pop band Tahiti 80 adds international flavor by guesting on the acid jazz-electronic voyage "In2 My Soul." "One For Carmen" adds a touch of class to the collection, bobbing and weaving along a sweet and tender melody that hovers gracefully atop Midorin's feverish pounding. "SOILOGIC" is trademark Soil & "Pimp" Sessions, a raucous ride that slashes and burns at a merciless, take-no-prisoners straight-ahead jazz tempo. Although a sassy soprano sax plays the role of protagonist on "Simoom," it is a hyperkinetic, horn-ignited jazz-funk dancefloor filler. The contemplative "Mellow Black" is backdropped by probing piano, cascading drums and elastic basslines that plumb murky depths. "SEKAI" closes the date with a full-throttle, whirlwind, smash-and-grab chase that recalls mod punk rock.

Emerging from the Tokyo club scene, Soil & "Pimp" Sessions made their recording debut in 2006 with "Pimp Master." Renowned British DJ Gilles Peterson is credited with turning UK hipsters onto the band through his BBC Radio 1 program, leading to the collection of a BBC Worldwide Award (John Peel Play More Jazz Award) and a television appearance on BBC's trendsetting "Later...with Jools Holland." Popularity in the United Kingdom and Europe soared after a round of buzz-building performances at high-profile festivals including the Glastonbury Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Roskilde Festival and many others around the world. Soil & "Pimp" Sessions' first American release came with 2008's "Planet Pimp." For additional information, please visit

"Black Track" contains the following songs:

"By Your Side" featuring Bambu & Nia Andrews
"Connected" featuring Nagaoka Ryosuke
"Cantaloupe Island"
"Papaya Pai Pai"
"88 9th Avenue"
"In2 My Soul" featuring Xavier Boyer
"One For Carmen"
"Mellow Black"

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Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Norman Brown's Shanachie Debut "Let It Go" - April 14, 2017 - #jazz

Grammy® Winning Guitar Maestro/Singer Norman Brown Teaches Us How to Let It Go on Highly Anticipated Shanachie Entertainment Debut

Brown’s First Solo Album In Five Years Enlists All-Star Friends Including BWB Bandmates Rick Braun & Kirk Whalum, Chanté Moore, Sounds of Blackness, Marion Meadows, S.O.U.L & TrayCar

In the liner notes of Norman Brown‘s exhilarating tenth solo album Let It Go, he speaks about the principals of Maat, the ancient Egyptian concept of truth, balance, order, harmony, morality and justice. These concepts of wisdom and knowledge inform Brown’s life and music. The highly sought-after Grammy®-winning guitarist, composer, singer and producer lays out the songs on Let It Go as his own truth and blueprint for self-realization and actualization. The guitar wizard’s manifesto is simple. He states, “My desire is for my fans to gain the spirit of joy, comfort, understanding and any hint of direction.”

When the iconic and pioneering guitarist George Benson sings your praises you know you are a bad man! Benson has heralded the consummate hit-maker, Norman Brown, as one of the greatest guitarists around today. Like Benson, Brown effortlessly fuses the finer elements of jazz, R&B, pop and blues to create his own insatiable and instantly identifiable and soulful sound. Brown declares, “My blending and crossing of styles happens organically by allowing the content to reveal its elements. There are only two kinds of music – ‘good and bad.” Brown has made a career of churning out the ‘good kind’ for over two decades. His unique elixir of urban contemporary jazz has allowed him to garner a devoted international following and an impressive career as a leader. He has also collaborated with the likes of Brian McKnight, Kirk Whalum, Miki Howard, Gerald Albright, Rick Braun, Dave Koz, Everette Harp andChanté Moore, to name a few. Shanachie VP of Jazz A&R Danny Weiss says, “I’m thrilled to be working with Norman Brown. It has been my goal for years! Although comparisons with the great George Benson are obvious, Norman bring a special freshness and vitality that are unmatched. Really, no one comes close.”

Let It Go is a sonic canvas of 12 mostly original soul-stirring and thought-provoking compositions that celebrate the spiritual and personal journey within each of us. “This CD expresses a chapter of a spirit being’s journey in creation on earth as a man/woman. Through events, challenges and problems as well as the peaceful joys of happiness and love, these moments are our spiritual classroom!” Norman Brown fans will take delight in knowing that he showcases not only his sublime guitar playing but his simmering soulful vocals as well.

Let It Go is also a family affair as Norman Brown, the father of six, shares the spotlight with his talented daughters, S.O.U.L. (Sister of Unbreakable Love). “They have all had the gift of music flowing in them,” says Brown of his vocalist/keyboardist daughters LaNika (a graduate of Musicians Institute of Hollywood), Rochella (a graduate of Berklee College of Music) and bassist/vocalist Kesha (a West Point Military Academy graduate).

Hailing from a musical family, Norman Brown was born in Shreveport, LA, and raised in Kansas City. Music was always playing in Brown’s house. His brother played guitar and a youngster Brown would sneak into his room in order to get his hands on his brother’s acoustic six string. Influenced early on by Jimi Hendrix and the Isley Brothers, it was not long before Brown was drawn in by one of his father’s favorite guitarists, Wes Montgomery. A graduate of the Musician’s Institute in North Hollywood, where Brown would go on to teach, the guitarist landed his first deal on Mojazz in 1992 where he recorded the albums Just Between Us, the Gold selling After The Storm and Better Days. Having recoded a string of successful albums including 1999’s Celebration (in which he teamed up with Paul Brown), 2002’s Just Chillin’ (featuring vocalists Michael McDonald, Miki Howard and Chanté Moore) scored a Grammy® win. The same year, Brown joined forces with saxophonist Kirk Whalum and trumpeter Rick Braun for BWB’s debut recording Groovin’. They also recorded the CDs Human Nature (2013) and BWB (2016). Brown continued a trail of critically heralded albums including West Coast Coolin’ (2004) Stay With Me (2007), Sending My Love (2010) and 24/7 with saxophonist Gerald Albright. Brown has sold over one million albums and continues to delight his devoted fanbase.

With the release of Let It Go, Norman Brown not only delivers an uplifting musical tribute to life but he reminds us of our own instinctive divine light. Brown also affirms that the innovation, virtuosity and musical vision that we fell in love with years ago is full throttle ahead He concludes, “Our being is two parts and the only way for success in life is through the proper balance of the two.” So sit back, listen, open your heart, mind and soul and Let It Go.

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Monday, April 03, 2017

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - April 3, 2017 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Nathan East - "Reverence" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group"
2 - 2 - Rick Braun - "Around The Horn" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
3 - 3 - Paul Brown - "One Way Back" - (Woodward Avenue)
4 - 4 - Marc Antoine - "Laguna Beach" - (Woodward Avenue)
5 - 6 - Gerald Albright - "G" - (Bright)
6 - 7 - Steve Watson - "Playtime" - (WatsonWood)
7 - 5 - Lindsey Webster - "Back To Your Heart" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
8 - 9 - Lawson Rollins - "3 Minutes To Midnight" - (Infinita Records)
9 - 11 - Kayla Waters - "Apogee" - (Independent)
10 - 13 - Brian Culbertson - "Funk!" - (BCM Entertainment)
11 - 8 - Threestyle - "Road To Monterey" - (Welovemusic Records)
12 - 16 - Michael Lington - "Second Nature" - (Copenhagen Music)
13 - 12 - Reza Khan - "Wind Dance" - (Painted Media)
14 - 47 - Richard Elliot - "Summer Madness" - (Heads Up/Concord)
15 - 10 - Peter White - "Groovin' - (Heads Up/Concord)
16 - 15 - John Novello - "Ivory Soul" - (529 Music)
17 - 20 - Jeff Lorber Fusion - "Prototype" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
18 - 22 - Darren Rahn - "Sonic Boom" - (Woodward Avenue Records)
19 - 14 - Doc Powell - "This Is Soul" - (DPR Music)
20 - 19 - Nick Colionne - "The Journey" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Julia Fordham uses “The Language of Love” to romance and seduce #jazz

The British singer-songwriter’s acoustic jazz album, due April 14, reimagines classic hits as standards.  

According to singer-songwriter Julia Fordham, Ella Fitzgerald set the standard when it comes to tackling standards so she had to turn to other source material for her forthcoming collection, “The Language of Love,” which will receive its U.S. and European release on April 14 from Red River Entertainment with distribution via BFD/Sony RED.
“As the Queen of Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald, has already covered every traditional jazz song to perfection, we tried to find a new angle and hopefully put a fresh twist on some of our favorite songs,” the British-born, Los Angeles-based artist said.
Along with producer-arranger Grant Mitchell, Fordham culled a set list of modern pop, rock and R&B classics and revamped them as if they were pages from the Great American Songbook. The misty-voiced singer seductively emotes nine signature hits from the likes of Blondie, Eurythmics, Sting, The Beatles and Stevie Wonder in intimate acoustic jazz settings. She also reconfigured her own debut hit, “Happy Ever After,” and introduces a pair of new tunes - “Like You Used To Do” and “The Morning After (The Night With You)” - that she penned for the occasion with Mitchell.
Throughout “The Language of Love,” Fordham regally plies her deep-hued vocals on tracks that swing (“Call Me” and “Alone Again (Naturally)”), seduce through sultry bossa nova grooves (“Who’s That Girl” and “At Seventeen”), traverse a multicultural world music grid (“Happy Ever After”) and pitter-patter gracefully to a Latin jazz rhythm embellished by a sterling nylon guitar serenade by Ramon Stagnaro (“Fragile”). “I’m Not In Love” becomes a stunning torch song while a stark depiction of “Eleanor Rigby” strikes a hauntingly dramatic tone in a voice, piano and upright bass incarnation. “Sir Duke” bops to a groovy jazz beat highlighted by Wonder’s original “Songs in the Key of Life” tour trumpeter, Harry Kim. The lone tune taken from the Great America Songbook era is “Moon River,” a timeless, heart-tugging beauty written by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer. As for the new originals, “Like You Used To Do” is a steamy affair heated by soulful backing vocals from Judith Owen and Sista Jean McClain. A taut rhythm section comprised of David Piltch (upright bass), Herman Matthews (drums) and Ramon Yslas (percussion) construct a subtle Latin vibe on “The Morning After (The Night With You).”         
Two bonus tracks, “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” and “Moon River” orchestrated with strings, will be available exclusively with the digital purchase of the album. Videos for “Call Me,” “Who’s That Girl,” “Eleanor Rigby” and “At Seventeen” were created and will soon be made available for viewing. Fordham will support “The Language of Love” with concert dates in London on July 28 & 29 at The Strand at PizzaExpress Live, October 18 in Los Angeles at Catalina Jazz Club and October 27 & 28 in New York City at Joe’s Pub.   
Fordham said she selected “The Language of Love” as the album title because “it seemed to conjure up a romantic image and the seductive feeling of the album.” The words are the opening lyrics of “Who’s That Girl” and are mentioned in the bridge section of “Call Me.”
Although she grew up writing and singing folk music in clubs since she was 14 in Portsmouth, England, Fordham discovered jazz shortly thereafter and has always incorporated nuances of jazz throughout her recording career that began with her eponymously-titled 1988 release. Her global hit “Love Moves” was featured in 1992’s “The Butcher’s Wife” starring Demi Moore. After relocating to Los Angeles two years later, three of Fordham’s albums were produced by four-time Grammy winner Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, Madeleine Peyroux). Her 2005 live CD (“That’s Life”) and DVD (“That’s Live”) featured a stellar ensemble including Klein on bass and Academy Award-winning trumpeter/composer Mark Isham, and showcased Fordham dueting with multiple Grammy winner India.Aire. For additional information, please visit
“The Language of Love” contains the following songs:
“Call Me”
“Who’s That Girl”
“Happy Ever After”
“I’m Not In Love”
“Alone Again (Naturally)”
“Like You Used To Do”
“Eleanor Rigby”
“The Morning After (The Night With You)”
“At Seventeen”
“Sir Duke”
“Moon River”
Bonus Tracks – Digital Only
“You Make Me Feel Like Dancing”
“Moon River (with strings)”

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Monday, March 13, 2017

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - March 13, 2017 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 4 - Rick Braun - "Around The Horn" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
2 - 9 - Paul Brown - "One Way Back" - (Woodward Avenue)
3 - 3 - Nathan East - "Reverence" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group"
4 - 4 - Marc Antoine - "Laguna Beach" - (Woodward Avenue)
5 - 5 - Gerald Albright - "G" - (Bright)
6 - 2 - Peter White - "Groovin' - (Heads Up/Concord)
7 - 6 - Lindsey Webster - "Back To Your Heart" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
8 - 7 - Steve Watson - "Playtime" - (WatsonWood)
9 - 8 - Doc Powell - "This Is Soul" - (DPR Music)
10 - 11 - Adam Hawley - "Just The Beginning" - (Kalimba)
11 - 17 - Kayla Waters - "Apogee" - (Independent)
12 - 14 - Nick Colionne - "The Journey" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
13 - 15 - Jazmin Ghent - "Chocolate Sunshine" - (
14 - 12 - Lawson Rollins - "3 Minutes To Midnight" - (Infinita Records)
15 - 16 - Threestyle - "Road To Monterey" - (Welovemusic Records)
16 - 20 - Phil Perry - "Breathless" - (Shanachie)
17 - 13 - Michael Lington - "Second Nature" - (Copenhagen Music)
18 - 10 - Brian Simpson - "Persuasion" - (Shanachie)
19 - 18 - John Novello - "Ivory Soul" - (529 Music)
20 - 21 - Darren Rahn - "Sonic Boom" - (Woodward Avenue Records)

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Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - March 6, 2017 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 4 - Rick Braun - "Around The Horn" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
2 - 2 - Peter White - "Groovin' - (Heads Up/Concord)
3 - 1 - Nathan East - "Reverence" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group"
4 - 3 - Marc Antoine - "Laguna Beach" - (Woodward Avenue)
5 - 7 - Gerald Albright - "G" - (Bright)
6 - 22 - Lindsey Webster - "Back To Your Heart" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
7 - 5 - Steve Watson - "Playtime" - (WatsonWood)
8 - 6 - Doc Powell - "This Is Soul" - (DPR Music)
9 - 26 - Paul Brown - "One Way Back" - (Woodward Avenue)
10 - 9 - Brian Simpson - "Persuasion" - (Shanachie)
11 - 8 - Adam Hawley - "Just The Beginning" - (Kalimba)
12 - 15 - Lawson Rollins - "3 Minutes To Midnight" - (Infinita Records)
13 - 11 - Michael Lington - "Second Nature" - (Copenhagen Music)
14 - 10 - Nick Colionne - "The Journey" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
15 - 14 - Jazmin Ghent - "Chocolate Sunshine" - (
16 - 12 - Threestyle - "Road To Monterey" - (Welovemusic Records)
17 - 41 - Kayla Waters - "Apogee" - (Independent)
18 - 13 - John Novello - "Ivory Soul" - (529 Music)
19 - 33 - U-Nam - "Surface Level" - (Skytown Records)
20 - 27 - Phil Perry - "Breathless" - (Shanachie)

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Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Jeff Lorber Fusion - "Prototype" Release on Shanachie March 24, 2017 #jazz

Trailblazing pianist, composer, producer and bandleader Jeff Lorber is a consummate artist who continues to push himself to new plateaus. A groundbreaking Fender Rhodes pioneer along with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Joe Sample and Bob James, Lorber has triumphed as one of the most innovative musical minds in contemporary jazz. The multi Grammy-nominated pianist’s newest CD is a sterling example of his expansive musical roots, masterfully crafted harmonic and melodic sophistication, irresistible finger-poppin’ grooves and intricate rhythmic sense. “I came up with the name Prototype because we are always trying to up our game and come up with new exciting music that could be a prototype or innovative harbinger for the future of our musical style,” says the LA based pianist. Lorber, a Berklee College of Music alum who formerly majored in Chemistry at Boston College goes full throttle on Prototype, orchestrating like an alchemist in the lab concocting a majestic elixir of jazz, soul, funk, pop, R&B and gospel.

Prototype features longtime collaborators – bassist Jimmy Haslip (founding member of The Yellowjackets) and drummer Gary Novak. “From a production standpoint Jimmy adds a ‘big picture’ element. He contributes a lot with his warm bass sound and on the road he is without a doubt one of the finest soloists out there on his instrument.” Lorber adds, “Gary’s very versatile, imaginative, super solid and gets a great sound. He really shines playing over the funky polyrhythmic grooves we record.” The newest member to the all-star unit is saxophonist Andy Snitzer, who like Lorber (and the Brecker Brothers) hails from Cheltenham, PA. Lorber states, “Andy’s got a perfect approach. It’s soulful and melodic and he is not afraid of taking the music outside a bit.” Prototype also features special guests bassist Nathan East, guitarists Chuck Loeb, Larry Koonse and Paul Jackson, Jr. and saxophonist Dave Mann, among others. 

“Writing is something that I really enjoy and I’m always coming up with ideas to work on,” states Jeff Lorber, who penned nine of the tracks on Prototype and co-wrote one with Jimmy Haslip. “We put a lot of work, love and care into this record. I hope that everyone who hears it enjoys listening to it as much as we enjoyed writing and recording it. I think it’s the kind of record that will reap dividends by repeated listening because there’s a lot of great playing that you can only appreciate by really getting into it and checking out all the details.” Prototype opens with the spunky and electrifying “Hyperdrive” hinting to the euphoric musical excursion that lies ahead. The track features guitarist and Jazz Funk Soul collaborator Chuck Loeb who calls Jeff “an amazing guy and talent.” Lorber says of bassist Nathan East, who also appears on the track, “Nathan played on ‘Hyperdrive’ because I originally wrote that for his project. He played great on it so we kept it. I have to thank him for not using the track because it’s one of my favorites and the first single!”

The album’s title track is a spirited and pulsating mid-tempo blues. Lorber explains, “Blues is a huge part of our music and I think Andy really brings it home with his approach to the melodies and his solos.” Saxophonist Dave Mann offers a vibrant, smoothly executed and feel-good horn arrangement on this track as well as six others. “The shout chorus on ‘Prototype’ is great,” comments Lorber. “I’m glad to also feature guitarist Michael Thompson who plays a stellar solo on the end of the song.” Prototype also showcases the jubilant shuffle “Test Drive,” which serves up a thrilling rock section and finds Lorber doing double duty as he plays not only keys but guitar as well. He reflects, “A shuffle is something I can’t remember writing or recording since Kenny G’s first album. I think the title is great because to me it does have that sound of driving on a beautiful day on the Pacific Coast Highway here in Southern California.”
Jeff Lorber’s Fusion harness the fire and soul of Tower of Power (TOP) on the relentless, soulful and driving “What’s The Deal.” “The title is an inside joke and comes from something studio musician Mike Landau sometimes likes to say. Dave Mann’s horn arrangement is stellar and I’m playing the B3 on this,” says Lorber. “It’s fun to change up my sound and it seems to fit with the TOP influence. Andy takes over and once again injects the track with his unique combination of chops and jazzy and bluesy playing.” Lorber pays homage to Austria’s capital, famous for its waltzes with a catchy ditty in 3/4 called “Vienna.” “It is a beautiful city with a great jazz club (Porgy and Bess) that we like to play,” says Lorber. “This song has more of a bebop feeling and it’s a chance for Andy, Larry (Koonse) and I to show off some of our jazz cops especially when we are trading four’s at the end.” 

Larry Koonse, who is the guitarist heard soloing on the track, has played on Lorber’s last four recordings. “Larry is a very musical player who brings straight ahead point of view,” shares Lorber. “He also plays on ‘Vienna’ and ‘Hidden Agenda.’ I enjoy having him represent the bebop side of the music we play.” A standout on Prototype is the show-stopper, “The Badness,” which is a beautiful showcase for Lorber who shines as he cuts loose on his newly purchased and refurbished 1972 Fender Rhodes. “Hidden Agenda” is a memorable and swooning R&B flavored number while “Gucci’s” house groove revs us into high gear with an unforgettable and high octane performance and “Park West” demonstrates why Lorber is a master at creating nitty-gritty down-home grooves. Prototype comes to a rousing finale with the gorgeous ballad “River Song,” which calls to mind Lorber’s hit song “Anthem For A New America.” “‘River Song” sort of wrote itself in a little burst of inspiration,” recalls Lorber. “I wasn’t really expecting it. Gary gets to really show his jazz finesse here with the drum part.”

Jeff Lorber’s Fusion came to life in the 70s when the pianist attended Berklee College of Music. “I was listening to Miles Davis and Bitches Brew and the beginning of great fusion bands like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report and Return to Forever,” reflects Lorber. “There were also artists like Herbie Hancock, The Crusaders and Grover Washington, who pioneered a more melodic and funky type of sound. Not to mention the fantastic music being made in R&B and pop music like Earth Wind and Fire and Tower of Power.” Lorber envisioned Jeff Lorber Fusion a second generation to these fusion bands that were more R&B and melody oriented. A true clinician, Lorber has made it a point to study the long line of modern jazz pianists since 1945. “Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea have been major influences but I had to go back and try to figure out who they listened to and were inspired by,” says Lorber. “Some of these icons that come to mind are Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, McCoy Tyner and Bud Powell.” He adds, “I also can’t forget all of the pianists who played with Miles Davis such as Red Garland, Wynton Kelly, Tommy Flanagan and Horace Silver.” Growing up in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania offered great inspiration for Jeff Lorber. “There were a lot of home grown record labels like Cameo Parkway and Philadelphia International (Gamble and Huff) not to mention tons of home grown talent. And the Dick Clark show originally came from there.” 

In 1977 Jeff Lorber Fusion released their self-titled debut. Their 1980 album Wizard Island made the introduction of a then little known Kenny G. The ensemble quickly gained traction and became one of the most popular jazz acts, touring nonstop. In 1982 Lorber made his solo debut with It’s A Fact. He scored his first Grammy nomination in 1986 for his radio hit “Pacific Coast Highway” from his album Step By Step. In the 90s Lorber released a successful string of projects including West Side Stories (1994), State of Grace (1996) and Midnight (1998). During this time Lorber also stayed busy producing for the likes of Michael Franks, Richard Elliot, Gerald Albright and Rick Braun, among others. The prolific pianist continued to add to his accolades with his shining recordings Kickin’ It (2001), Philly Style (2003), Flipside (2005), He Had A Hat (2007, Grammy nominated) and Heard That (2008), Now Is The Time (2010, Grammy nominated), Galaxy (2012, Grammy nominated) Hacienda (2013, Grammy nominated) and Step It Up (2015). Lorber made his first recordings for Shanchie as a member of Jazz Funk Soul with Chuck Loeb and Everette Harp on the albums Jazz Funk Soul and the Grammy nominated More Serious Business. 

Jeff Lorber has endured his own battle with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) and has made it a mission to work with the PKD Foundation to raise awareness. “I was very lucky that my wife donated her kidney,” shares the pianist. “I’m going on 11+ years and I’m very grateful for that. My sister had a transplant a couple years ago and she is doing well also. There are some solutions that are being worked on but like many genetic based diseases it could be a long time before there is significant progress. People should know that there are 800,000 people in the US with PKD and two million worldwide. It’s a huge problem that unfortunately doesn’t get a lot of publicity.” Lorber, a self-professed enthusiast of podcasts, audio books, Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music concludes, “Since I had the transplant I focus on doing things that I enjoy and that are meaningful. I try to make the most of each day and to be productive and make great music.” There lies the Prototype for a beautiful life.

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - February 27, 2017 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 2 - Nathan East - "Reverence" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group"
2 - 1 - Peter White - "Groovin' - (Heads Up/Concord)
3 - 3 - Marc Antoine - "Laguna Beach" - (Woodward Avenue)
4 - 10 - Rick Braun - "Around The Horn" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
5 - 4 - Steve Watson - "Playtime" - (WatsonWood)
6 - 6 - Doc Powell - "This Is Soul" - (DPR Music)
7 - 7 - Gerald Albright - "G" - (Bright)
8 - 5 - Adam Hawley - "Just The Beginning" - (Kalimba)
9 - 8 - Brian Simpson - "Persuasion" - (Shanachie)
10 - 9 - Nick Colionne - "The Journey" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
11 - 12 - Michael Lington - "Second Nature" - (Copenhagen Music)
12 - 14 - Threestyle - "Road To Monterey" - (Welovemusic Records)
13 - 16 - John Novello - "Ivory Soul" - (529 Music)
14 - 13 - Jazmin Ghent - "Chocolate Sunshine" - (
15 - 19 - Lawson Rollins - "3 Minutes To Midnight" - (Infinita Records)
16 - 15 - Euge Groove - "Still Euge" - (Shanachie)
17 - 52 - Phil Perry - "Breathless" - (Shanachie)
18 - 27 - BWB - "BWB" - (Artistry/Mack Avenue)
19 - 18 - Paul Jackson Jr. - "Stories From Stompin' Willie - (Branch, Records Inc.)
20 - 24 - Justin Klunk - "Clarity" - (Justin Klunk)

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