Monday, July 31, 2017

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - July 31, 2017 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Nathan East - "Reverence" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group)
2 - 3 - Maysa - "Love Is A Battlefield" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
3 - 4 - Chuck Loeb - "Unspoken" - (Shanachie Records)
4 - 5 - Norman Brown - "Let It Go" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
5 - 8 - Paul Brown - "One Way Back" - (Woodward Avenue)
6 - 7 - Lindsey Webster - "Back To Your Heart" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
7 - 2 - Ragan Whiteside - "Treblemaker" - (Randis Music)
8 - 10 - Nick Colionne - "The Journey" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm")
9 - 19 - Gerald Albright - "G" - (Bright)
10 - 14 - Eric Darius - "Breakin' Thru" - (SagiDarius Music)
11 - 6 - Rick Braun - "Around The Horn" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
12 - 12 - Althea Rene - "Gypsy Soul" - (Independent)
13 - 13 - Vincent Ingala - "Coast To Coast" - (Independent)
14 - 21 - David Benoit & Marc Antoine - "So Nice!" (Shanachie Entertainment)
15 - 9 - Brendan Rothwell - "Time On My Hands" - (Brendan Rothwell)
16 - 16 - Marc Antoine - "Laguna Beach" - (Woodward Avenue)
17 - 15 - Keiko Matsui - "Journey To The Heart" - (Shanachie Records)
18 - 20 - Adam Hawley - "Just The Beginning" - (Kalimba)
19 - 18 - Skinny Hightower - "Emotions" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
20 - 11- Peter White - "Groovin'" - (Heads Up/Concord)

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Debut Solo Album From Singer and Two-Time Grammy Award Nominee Stokley Continues to Climb the Charts

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 has chartered a new course with his breathtaking debut solo album. Featuring guest appearances by 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.

Released on June 23, 2017 via Concord Records, Introducing Stokley charged up iTunes’ R&B/Soul chart and continues to rise to the top of the BDS and Mediabase Urban AC charts, as well as climbing consistently on Amazon’s Movers & Shakers. The album is also the subject of early critical praise:

“The solo debut from Mint Condition vocalist Stokley Williams has been some two-plus decades in the making, but it's worth the wait: Stokley's keen study of R&B and its possibilities animates this wide-ranging album, which shows off his still-supple voice and unending charm.” - Rolling Stone

“‘Level’ is among the 15 tracks featured on Introducing Stokely. A further evolution of Mint Condition’s multi-genre versatility…” - Billboard

“With Introducing Stokley, the artist achieves the difficult task of engaging fans of his work with Mint Condition while making this solo effort truly his own.” - Black Grooves

“…this album really does line up one sensuous surprise after another…his solo debut seeks the kind of personal innovation you can only achieve through others.” - Minnesota Monthly

“Layering contemporary narratives over time-honored musicality, Introducing Stokley sifts through facets of the human experience, elucidating the personal, the political and others in-between…Highly recommended.” - Soul Tracks

“…Introducing Stokley offers a sense of how R&B can be plenty adventurous without somehow ‘transcending’ its genre, and how it can sound contemporary without chasing trends. - City Pages

“The music is sophisticated, the lead and layered background singing is out of this world and, most importantly, the lyrics are richly mature in viewpoint and compelling while also projecting vibrancy, fun and sensuality.” - The Urban Music Scene

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.”

Stokley Tour Dates:
Rocker the Garden (Revolution Tour)
Venue TBD (Revolution Tour)
Arena Theatre
Atlantic City
Resorts Casino Hotel - Superior Hotel (Revolution Tour)
Governors State University
Bethesda Blues & Jazz Club
Los Angeles
Venue TBD (Revolution Tour)
Johnson's Beach Resort
Landers Center (Mary J. Blige )
James Brown Arena (Mary J. Blige)
Chrysler Hall
Civic Center (Mary J. Blige)
KFC Yum! Center (Mary J. Blige)

More Info:

“Level” official music video:

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Monday, July 24, 2017

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

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Nathan East - "Reverence" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group)
2 - 5 - Ragan Whiteside - "Treblemaker" - (Randis Music)
3 - 2 - Maysa - "Love Is A Battlefield" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
4 - 3 - Chuck Loeb - "Unspoken" - (Shanachie Records)
5 - 4 - Norman Brown - "Let It Go" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
6 - 6 - Rick Braun - "Around The Horn" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
7 - 15 - Lindsey Webster - "Back To Your Heart" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
8 - 26 - Paul Brown - "One Way Back" - (Woodward Avenue)
9 - 9 - Brendan Rothwell - "Time On My Hands" - (Brendan Rothwell)
10 - 10 - Nick Colionne - "The Journey" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm")
11 - 7 - Peter White - "Groovin'" - (Heads Up/Concord)
12 - 13 - Althea Rene - "Gypsy Soul" - (Independent)
13 - 11 - Vincent Ingala - "Coast To Coast" - (Independent)
14 - 8 - Eric Darius - "Breakin' Thru" - (SagiDarius Music)
15 - 12 - Keiko Matsui - "Journey To The Heart" - (Shanachie Records)
16 - 16 - Marc Antoine - "Laguna Beach" - (Woodward Avenue)
17 - 22 - Chris Standring - "Ten" - (Ultimate Vibe Recordings)
18 - 21 - Skinny Hightower - "Emotions" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
19 - 18 - Gerald Albright - "G" - (Bright)
20 - 19 - Adam Hawley - "Just The Beginning" - (Kalimba)

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Boney James - "Honestly" - Release on Concord Records, September 1st - #jazz

Four-time GRAMMY-Nominee Celebrates 25 Years With September 1, 2017 Release
Featuring Vocalists Avery*Sunshine & Eric Roberson

It’s been a full quarter-century since a young saxophonist and composer released his debut recording as a leader, Trust. Now, on September 1, 2017, Boney James will release his 16th album, this one titled Honestly. If you sense a direct line between those titles, you’ve already come a long way toward understanding what motivates the four-time GRAMMY nominee and multi-platinum-selling musician.

“I’m fighting the good fight to be my own artist and not be pigeonholed,” says the genre-blurring James. “With a record’s title I always try to find something that will communicate the feeling I get when I listen to it. The feeling I get with this music is a sense of sincerity and intimacy. The word ‘honestly’ really reflects how I aspire to live my life and create my music. One of the great things about music is how powerful it is. It can totally transport people. These are interesting times we are living in and the one thing I can do with the skills that I have is to make music that evokes a feeling and takes people somewhere… to do what I can to try and make the world a more pleasant place.”

Honestly follows futuresoul, James’ 2015 release which spent eleven weeks at #1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. The New York Times raved, “Boney James performs with panache...His arc as a soloist is emotional...he can paint a scene.”

Honestlysays James, is quite different sounding than the previous record. “It’s more exposed,” he says of the 10-track collection. “Some of the arrangements are not as dense. A number of the songs have a more buoyant, cheerful, happy quality to them.” James produced the record and co-wrote all but one track, his interpretation of the Johnny Mercer-Hoagy Carmichael classic ‘Skylark.’
James recruited collaborators and musicians whose work he admires, including chart-topping vocalists/co-writers Avery*Sunshine (on the title track) and Eric Roberson (on ‘If I Can’t Hold You’).

Each track on Honestly reflects a different side of James’ musical personality. “Songs like ‘Kicks’ or ‘Up All Night’ are much more boisterous sounding than the last couple of records,” he says. “Then there’s ‘Skylark,’ a song that I have always loved…a standard which I’ve never recorded before. The track Honestly (and first Urban Adult singlefeaturing Avery*Sunshine is straight up R&B.” Regarding Avery, James says, “I heard her at a festival, we were both playing and then I heard her #1 single ‘Call My Name’ on the radio. I was instantly a fan and just waiting for the right song for us to collaborate.”

First instrumental single ‘Tick Tock,’ one of four songs co-written and co-produced with Jairus Mozee (Anthony Hamilton, Robin Thicke) is one of several on the album featuring a horn arrangement by Jerry Hey, who worked on Michael Jackson’s greatest hits, amongst others. “It’s a very funky track with an insistent groove and the arrangement goes places you don’t expect it to go,” says James.

Although each track on the album has its own definitive feel, James points directly toward some of his greatest influences as having provided inspiration. “I think about Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan and Earth, Wind & Fire,” he says, also mentioning such iconic R&B and contemporary jazz artists as the Brothers Johnson, Tower of Power and Grover Washington Jr. as having impacted him. “These are the bands that I grew up loving and the thing that they had was this method of arranging so the music is a character itself. That’s something I aspire to create on my records. The bass line can be a hook, or a horn line or keyboard riff that you sing in your head—that’s what I’m trying to create on the record. A tapestry of sounds that puts you in another world.”

James plays all of the tenor and soprano saxophone parts on Honestly and contributes keyboards and drum programming to several of the tracks. But his career might have turned out a lot differently had a music store in his native New Rochelle, New York, had his first choice in stock the day he walked inside. “I wanted to play trumpet but when we went to the store to rent a trumpet all they had were clarinets, so I went home with a clarinet. Two years later I guess I was the best clarinet player in a band full of clarinets and the teacher wanted a sax player so he leaned on me to pick up the saxophone. I didn’t want to do it because it was a much heavier case I’d have to carry. But as soon as I switched I loved it and it pretty quickly became my favorite thing to do. It still is!”

By the time he entered his teens, James was gigging with bands, and he turned pro at 19. He apprenticed as a sideman for artists like Morris Day and the Isley Brothers, picking up pointers on how to present himself onstage and off, and didn’t cut his first album under his own name until he was 30. The independently released Trust led immediately to a major label deal and a string of increasingly successful recordings and live dates.

His skill as a performer as well as a recording artist garnered this notice from the Boston Globe, “James swaggered across the stage like a blacktop hero draining treys on an overmatched opponent. He even weaved his way through the audience, never missing a beat and all but daring the crowd not to have a good time."

Over the years, James has racked up sales of more than three million records, four RIAA gold albums, four GRAMMY nominations, a Soul Train Award, nominations for two NAACP Image Awards and 10 CDs atop Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Albums chart. In 2009, Billboard named him one of the Top 3 Contemporary Jazz Artists Of The Decade along with Kenny G and Norah Jones.

With Honestly, as with futuresoul and the GRAMMY-nominated The Beat before it, Boney James is making some of the most stellar, wholly realized music of his career. “I’ve just grown up, personally and musically,” he says. “I’m a lot calmer now when I approach making music and have more confidence. I’m a “give-110 percent” kind of person and I’m enjoying the process more now. I think that comes out in the music. Maybe that’s why this new record is so much fun to listen to. There are parts on the record that still make me smile.”

James lives in Los Angeles with his wife of 32 years, Actress/Director Lily Mariye and has written scores for her film projects.

Honestly tracklist
1. Kicks
2. Tick Tock
3. On the Prowl
4. Low and Slow
5. Honestly (featuring Avery*Sunshine)
6. We Came to Party             
7. Speak Easy
8. Skylark       
9. If I Can’t Hold You (featuring Eric Roberson)
10. Up All Night

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - July 17, 26, 2017 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Nathan East - "Reverence" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group)
2 - 2 - Maysa - "Love Is A Battlefield" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
3 - 6 - Chuck Loeb - "Unspoken" - (Shanachie Records)
4 - 3 - Norman Brown - "Let It Go" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
5 - 5 - Ragan Whiteside - "Treblemaker" - (Randis Music)
6 - 4 - Rick Braun - "Around The Horn" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
7 - 9 - Peter White - "Groovin'" - (Heads Up/Concord)
8 - 10 - Eric Darius - "Breakin' Thru" - (SagiDarius Music)
9 - 7 - Brendan Rothwell - "Time On My Hands" - (Brendan Rothwell)
10 - 8 - Nick Colionne - "The Journey" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm")
11 - 17 - Vincent Ingala - "Coast To Coast" - (Independent)
12 - 12 - Keiko Matsui - "Journey To The Heart" - (Shanachie Records)
13 - 13 - Althea Rene - "Gypsy Soul" - (Independent)
14 - 16 - Pieces Of A Dream - "Just Funkin' Around" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
15 - 20 - Lindsey Webster - "Back To Your Heart" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
16 - 14 - Marc Antoine - "Laguna Beach" - (Woodward Avenue)
17 - 11 - Lawson Rollins - "3 Minutes To Midnight" - (Infinita Records)
18 - 27 - Gerald Albright - "G" - (Bright)
19 - 22 - Adam Hawley - "Just The Beginning" - (Kalimba)
20 - 19 - Special EFX - "Lavish" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)

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Monday, July 10, 2017

Scores of jazz fans planning a summer fling in Cancun #jazz

Star-studded lineup, exotic tropical location, luxurious accommodations and the new Stay & Play option have made Warren Hill’s Cancun Jazz Festival the hot ticket for Labor Day Weekend.

With more than a decade of planning music vacation experiences in alluring locales on land and at sea around the world, it should come as no surprise that in his second full year at the helm, Warren Hill has already doubled the number of festivalgoers preparing to end summer with a trek to his Cancun Jazz Festival at the five-star Hard Rock Hotel in Riviera Maya, Mexico over Labor Day Weekend (August 31-September 3, 2017).

The chart-topping saxophonist knows that his crowd covets value and all-inclusive packages just as much as they value the names on the marquee, that the location really does matter, that posh accommodations and amenities are a must, that most of the performers should be jazz artists if you bill the event as a jazz festival, and that sound, lighting and production values are not to be skimped upon. 

The star power Hill has assembled to perform at this year’s Cancun Jazz Festival rivals or eclipses the lineup at any event on land or at sea and is comprised of smooth and contemporary jazz legends and royalty - from the seminal George Benson and Kenny G to charismatic crossover artist Chris Botti. Smooth R&B singer-songwriter Brian McKnight will be featured along with instrumental luminaries Rick BraunNorman BrownJesse CookCandy DulferRichard ElliotEuge GrooveKeiko MatsuiPaul Taylor and Peter White. Fan favorites Eric DariusMichael LingtonBrian Simpson and Elliott Yamin complete the bill.         
“I really wanted to keep the artists close to the format. I believe that if you are a core fan of smooth and/or contemporary jazz, this is the festival for you. I even feel that Brian McKnight has a tremendous amount of jazz influences in his music. He can riff and improvise as well as any jazz musician I have ever heard. And for those who want to stretch their musical boundaries even further, we have virtuosos such as Chris Botti, Jesse Cook and Keiko Matsui to keep you on the edge of your seat,” said Hill. 

Along with the four-night festival package, new for 2017 is the seven-night Stay & Play option. In addition to four nights of concerts, Stay & Play (August 28-30) adds three days of excursions to Cozumel, Tulum Mayan ruins, Cenotes cave pools and shopping in Playa del Carmen along with a Cirque du Soleil performance to the front end of the vacation. Both packages are all-inclusive and cover reserved concert seating, casual meals and a la carte dining, beverages (including alcohol), access to all festival events and after parties, and resort credits that can be applied to a variety of amenities such as golf, spa treatments and tours.

“The best part of this event is that you have an all-inclusive package. Your wallet never has to leave your room. And there is a very relaxed atmosphere. You have the days to spend at your own leisure - either exploring Mexico or just chilling on the private white sand beach,” said Hill, who co-promotes Rock Getaway at the same location October 26-November 1 headlining Don HenleySantanaSteve Miller BandRoger DaltreyBad CompanyForeigner,  REO SpeedwagonPat BenatarCheap Trick and many more.   

In addition to his award-winning recording career, Hill has been producing first-class music vacation experiences ever since he launched the first smooth jazz cruise in 2004. “There weren’t very many options for musical vacations back then. Now there are multiple cruises and destinations. But I feel the Cancun Jazz Festival overshadows all the other options in terms of the experience. The festival is growing every year as people begin to understand the incredible value that the event has to offer.”

As a world-class performer himself, Hill understands the importance of presenting the talent in the finest settings with premier production values. “Our production quality is second to none. Staging, sound, lights and venues are all top notch. Even though the festival takes place south of the border, we procure some of the best production on the continent. As an artist who has performed in every type of venue - from small clubs to The Hollywood Bowl - this is as good as it gets. And why stop at just great production? Last year’s closing ceremony featured Mayan dancers and fireworks. We put the ‘Can’ in Cancun, baby!”

To book a festival package or for more information, please call 805.491-JAZZ or visit

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