Thursday, August 31, 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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Monday, August 28, 2017

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - August 28, 2017 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Chuck Loeb - "Unspoken" - (Shanachie Records)
2 - 2 - Maysa - "Love Is A Battlefield" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
3 - 4 - Rick Braun - "Around The Horn" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
4 - 3 - Nathan East - "Reverence" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group)
5 - 5 - Paul Brown - "One Way Back" - (Woodward Avenue)
8 - 7 - Gerald Albright - "G" - (Bright)
7 - 7 - Nick Colionne - "The Journey" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm")
8 - 6 - Ragan Whiteside - "Treblemaker" - (Randis Music)
9 - 9 - David Benoit & Marc Antoine - "So Nice!" (Shanachie Entertainment)
10 - 14 - Brian Culbertson - "Funk!" - (BCM Entertainment)
11 - 11 - Roberto Tola - "Bein' Green" - (Roberto Tola)
12 - 12 - Brendan Rothwell - "Time On My Hands" - (Brendan Rothwell)
13 - 10 - Lindsey Webster - "Back To Your Heart" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
14 - 13 - Marc Antoine - "Laguna Beach" - (Woodward Avenue)
15 - 21 - Darryl Williams - "Here To Stay" - (Independent)
16 - 20 - Cindy Bradley - "Natural" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
17 - 16 - Norman Brown - "Let It Go" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
18 - 34 - Boney James - "Honestly" - (Concord Music Group)
19 - 28 - Ben Tankard - "Full Tank3:CanTANKerous - Ben-Jamin Music Universal)
20 - 22 - Paul Jackson Jr. "Stories From Stompin' Willie" (Branch Records Inc)

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Guitarist H Allan rocks “Stiletto Heels” #jazz

He struts with confidence on his debut release that reimagines the Richard Elliot sax classic as a searing guitar jam. The single goes for radio adds on Monday.
Like most guitar players who came of age in the 80s, H Allan was an Eddie Van Halen disciple and he loved to shred. The wannabe rocker never would have imagined that one day he would release a cover version of a tune by smooth jazz sax star Richard Elliot as his debut single, but that’s what will happen on Monday when his version of “Stiletto Heels” goes for radio adds. 
Allan’s first job out of college was with the LA Sax Company, the maker of color-coated saxes used by an array of artists in all genres of music, including Elliot. His duties required that he attend shows whenever the musicians played Chicago thus Allan attended all of Elliot’s local gigs in the early 90s. A dynamic, high-energy performer, Elliot plays sax aggressively with power, passion and pyrotechnics much like the way Van Halen plays guitar, which quickly impressed Allan and won his respect and admiration. One song in Elliot’s set, the funky “Stiletto Heels” from the 1991 album “On The Town,” never fails to whip audiences into a boisterous frenzy. The tune and the way Elliot attacks it - well, simply put, it’s got balls - the kind that would make a lasting impression on Allan, who had the privilege of working with the saxman for nearly a decade.
A few years ago, long after he moved on from the LA Sax Company, Allan’s own dream of being a recording artist was rekindled. He recorded a few original demos and decided to convert “Stiletto Heels” from a powerhouse sax joint into a raucous guitar-led number. 
“I was always blown away by Richard’s playing skills, musicality and ability to connect with his audience. I thought it would be cool to hear a guitar version of this saxophone classic (“Stiletto Heels”),” said Allan, who was named H at birth when his parents couldn’t agree on what name beginning with the letter h to give him. 

He began recording demos on which he played all the lead sax, rhythm guitar and keyboard parts on guitar. Allan decided to send the tracks to Elliot’s longtime keyboardist Ron Reinhardt who was so impressed that he offered to record the keyboard parts for the reboot. Then, after seeing a Facebook post from Elliot’s drummer, Eric Valentine Jr., offering his services as a session player, he landed a drum track from a second core member of Elliot’s band. Another prominent role on the “Stiletto Heels” rhythm track is the elastic basslines for which he recruited fellow Chicago native Mike “Funktastic” Zabrin to handle. 

Piece by piece, it was coming together, but Allan struggled to find his unique guitar voice. He tried out a number of guitars and different approaches – some pure rock with lots of distortion that were true to his roots and some purposely smooth jazz. Eventually he settled on a vintage 1980s Gibson ES-175 guitar with Benedetto pickups and flat wound strings that has the type of clean electric jazz guitar sound that “Wes Montgomery himself would be proud of,” Allan said about the missing link.    

A longtime Frank Zappa acolyte, Allan tapped Zappa band member Robert Martin to mix and master the single. When Elliot heard Allan’s reimagined rendition, he said, “I freaking love it!”
Allan’s hopes for “Stiletto Heels” are clear. “The goal of this project is to get the single onto the charts and try to open some doors to playing shows as a solo artist as well as gigging with other artists.” He’s begun plotting his next recording project, but is keeping the details close to the vest for now. 

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Monday, August 21, 2017

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - August 21, 2017 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Chuck Loeb - "Unspoken" - (Shanachie Records)
2 - 2 - Maysa - "Love Is A Battlefield" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
3 - 3 - Nathan East - "Reverence" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group)
4 - 7 - Rick Braun - "Around The Horn" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
5 - 4 - Paul Brown - "One Way Back" - (Woodward Avenue)
6 - 5 - Ragan Whiteside - "Treblemaker" - (Randis Music)
7 - 6 - Nick Colionne - "The Journey" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm")
8 - 11 - Gerald Albright - "G" - (Bright)
9 - 14 - David Benoit & Marc Antoine - "So Nice!" (Shanachie Entertainment)
10 - 8 - Lindsey Webster - "Back To Your Heart" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
11 - 10 - Roberto Tola - "Bein' Green" - (Roberto Tola)
17 - 12 - Brendan Rothwell - "Time On My Hands" - (Brendan Rothwell)
13 - 14 - Marc Antoine - "Laguna Beach" - (Woodward Avenue)
14 - 12 - Brian Culbertson - "Funk!" - (BCM Entertainment)
15 - 15 - Althea Rene - "Gypsy Soul" - (Independent)
16 - 9 - Norman Brown - "Let It Go" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
17 - 19 - Adam Hawley - "Just The Beginning" - (Kalimba)
18 - 16 - Eric Darius - "Breakin' Thru" - (SagiDarius Music)
19 - 18 - Vincent Ingala - "Coast To Coast" - (Independent)
20 - 22 - Cindy Bradley - "Natural" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sax-vocalist Michael J. Thomas is “Driven” to compete with an upbeat and diverse passion project #jazz

The first single, “Baby Coffee,” earned most added honors at Billboard and hit the SiriusXM playlist ahead of Friday’s album release, leading to a distribution deal.

No sophomore slump for contemporary jazz-pop artist Michael J. Thomas, who released his second album, “Driven,” on Friday on the Harbor Breeze Records imprint. The ten-song set burst out of the gate jolted by a wave of national airplay for the first single, “Baby Coffee,” earning Billboard most-added honors in its debut week followed by an add atSiriusXM’s Watercolors, leading the saxophonist-vocalist to sign a distribution deal for the project with Perry Music Group/Sony Music.            

It’s been seven years since Thomas issued his instrumental debut album, “City Beat,” and six years since he made his vocal debut with the infectious standalone single “I Think About Amy,” which peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard chart after a remix by two-timeGrammy winner Paul Brown. “Driven” is his first collection to combine sax-led soul-jazz instrumentals and R&B-pop vocal tunes that showcase a voice that programmers and reviewers have compared to Michael Jackson and George Michael. It’s a varied, exhilarating session written and produced by Thomas and longtime collaborator Shannon Wallace with additional tracks produced by Oli SilkTrammell Starks and Music Man Dre Forbes.   

"I got the bug to record a new album in 2014. I hadn’t written anything new in a while and all of these melodies and lyrics were hitting me. However, the songs didn’t all fit into one genre, but I recorded them anyway. I decided that this would be a passion project for me more than trying to write music that fits the traditional model,” said the Destin, Florida-based Thomas, who is submitting “Driven” for Grammy nomination consideration. “I titled the album after one of the pop-oriented songs I wrote that has to do with staying driven and motivated to compete.”

While “Baby Coffee” has all the makings of a late summer instrumental hit –percolating groove, stimulating funk beats and energizing horn-powered harmonies – Thomas opens the disc with the shimmering and slick “My Love,” one of four vocal numbers. An empowering vocal drop adds street cred to “In America, You Can Do It!,” an instrumental inspired by Thomas’s alto sax and Gino Rosaria’s glistening keyboards. “You Know You Got This” is another confidence-building instrumental. A Minneapolis-style old-school funk party meets disco vibe breaks out on “Girls Got Moves,” a dance floor filler vocal tune that also closes the album in instrumental form. The percussive instrumental “Make Me Crazy” is an aggressive agitator that showcases Thomas trading barbs during an extended improvisational breakdown with trumpeter Paul Scurto. A congenial “Get Your Smooth On” benefits from a luminous anthemic chorus. Thomas caresses on the intimate “Say Goodbye” with a mix of heartbreak vocals and a tender soprano sax solo followed by the reassuring Quiet Storm instrumental affirmation “Never Gonna Leave You.” The title track offers a take-no-prisoners attack on raw ambition as kinetic beats, incendiary horn and synth blasts, and a screaming electric guitar solo from Mark Jaimes (Simply Red) ignite this scorching vocal number.

Underneath the invigorating instrumental veneer and the pure power pop panache that make “Driven” a bright, vibrant and an assured listen, there is a vulnerable artist who struggled to overcome an intense personal crisis to complete the record.   

“‘Driven’ is very personal and represents a particularly sensitive and difficult period that I endured emotionally. I started writing it in the midst of a romantic relationship. Tragically, she passed away and I didn’t know if I could finish the album after dealing with depression in the aftermath. But I did and I continue to push forward. That’s what I want the takeaway to be from this album.”  

The “Driven” album contains the following songs:

“My Love”
“Baby Coffee”
“In America, You Can Do It!”
“You Know You Got This”
“Girls Got Moves”
“Make Me Crazy”
“Get Your Smooth On”
“Say Goodbye”
“Never Gonna Leave You”
“Girls Got Moves” (instrumental)

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Jazz Fusion Keyboardist Patrick Bradley Releases Fourth Album "Intangible" 8/25 #jazz

The spiritually-minded jazz fusion keyboardist Patrick Bradley doesn't need a special occasion like marking his tenth anniversary as a recording artist to acknowledge his inspirations both tangible and divine. However, "Dear Friend," the first single from his forthcoming fourth album, "Intangible," due August 25, does just that, slated to arrive ten years after the release of his first solo set. Written with the album's producer, Jeff Lorber, "Dear Friend" pays respectful homage to the seminal musicians who influence and inform Bradley's contemporary jazz, rock, fusion and R&B mashups released on the Patrick's Song Factory label.

"My intent was to honor the influence and significant impact that late musicians have on me musically such as keyboardist giants Keith Emerson, Richard Wright, George Duke, Joe Sample and Jon Lord. Bass players Chris Squire and Jaco Pastorius and guitarist Alan Holdsworth have a major influence on my approach to arrangements and melodies. Their influences are woven throughout my musical experiences, abilities and styles," said Bradley, who wrote and arranged the ten songs that comprise "Intangible" with Lorber. "The tune also celebrates friendship of all kinds - whether it is the intimate friendship between a spouse or lover, a trusted best friend, a mentor, your family pet or the friendship expressed through songs of faith."

"Intangible" is the third outing for Bradley and Lorber, the latter of whom is a keyboardist widely recognized as one of the forefathers of jazz fusion, thus an element of mentorship is evident in their ongoing creative friendship. "Jeff and I work very well together. Coming into the studio, I had about 18 songs to work with for this project and we selected ten. Collaborating with Jeff always draws out new dimensions and makes me dig deeper."

One of the dimensions that Bradley developed under the tutelage of Lorber was to cultivate the ability and the confidence to communicate as a trilingual keyboardist: piano, Hammond B3 organ and Moog synthesizer. Bradley's nimble finger work dispenses harmonies in equal measures of power and grace, poignant and propulsive, riveting and rousing, and cerebral and accessible. His multi-voiced keyboard approach makes an individual track seem as if it is helmed by more than one protagonist with each unique keyboard instrument providing a different perspective on the melodies. In addition to the heavy usage of the Hammond B3 along with frequent spacy Moog forays, Bradley's distinctive brand also consists of deep-pocketed grooves constructed by live instrumentation from a core unit of prominent musicians - guitarists Adam Hawley and Michael Thompson, bassist Jimmy Haslip, drummer Gary Novak and Lorber on synth bass, guitar and additional keyboards. A handful of cuts are bolstered by the brawn and bravura of David Mann's horns. Paul Jackson Jr. cranks out a gale force of electric guitar riffs on "Tail Wind" while Andrew Carney's trumpet thrives animatedly while exploring "Newport Coast."

There is another essential element to Bradley's recordings that have been present ever since he issued his debut album, "Come Rain or Shine," a decade ago. "Music and creativity and whatever talents we each have are a gift from God. Love, faith, hope and even music are all intangible, hence the new album title. Much of our universe is intangible yet we spend the majority of our time seeking the physical and temporal things. I always want to encourage people to look beyond the physical universe and turn our hearts towards God," said the Southern California native who balances his creative output with a corporate profile by serving as president of the Southern Pacific Region at Whole Foods Market.

Bradley's singles regularly hit the Billboard chart, but he was especially encouraged by the success and growing support he received for his previous album, 2014's "Can You Hear Me." "It gave me a new drive to write, play and collaborate with a newfound zeal and energy, revealing where I am at musically at this time. All music has a piece of the artist within their songs. I find with each new project, I feel the need and responsibility to dig deeper and in a sense, be truer to the musician I am and inspire to be."

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"Intangible" contains the following songs:

"Dear Friend"
"Funky Greens"
"Tail Wind"
"On Tap"
"Find the Way"
"Newport Coast"
"Winds of Change"
"Out of Bounds"

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - August 14, 2017 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 3 - Chuck Loeb - "Unspoken" - (Shanachie Records)
2 - 3 - Maysa - "Love Is A Battlefield" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
3 - 2 - Nathan East - "Reverence" - (Yamaha Entertainment Group)
4 - 5 - Paul Brown - "One Way Back" - (Woodward Avenue)
5 - 6 - Ragan Whiteside - "Treblemaker" - (Randis Music)
6 - 7 - Nick Colionne - "The Journey" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm")
7 - 16 - Rick Braun - "Around The Horn" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
8 - 8 - Lindsey Webster - "Back To Your Heart" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
9 - 4 - Norman Brown - "Let It Go" - (Shanachie Entertainment)
10 - 23 - Roberto Tola - "Bein' Green" - (Roberto Tola)
11 - 10 - Gerald Albright - "G" - (Bright)
12 - 22 - Brian Culbertson - "Funk!" - (BCM Entertainment)
13 - 14 - Marc Antoine - "Laguna Beach" - (Woodward Avenue)
14 - 13 - David Benoit & Marc Antoine - "So Nice!" (Shanachie Entertainment)
15 - 9 - Althea Rene - "Gypsy Soul" - (Independent)
16 - 11 - Eric Darius - "Breakin' Thru" - (SagiDarius Music)
17 - 12 - Brendan Rothwell - "Time On My Hands" - (Brendan Rothwell)
18 - 15 - Vincent Ingala - "Coast To Coast" - (Independent)
19 - 17 - Adam Hawley - "Just The Beginning" - (Kalimba)
20 - 21 - Pieces Of A Dream - "Just Funkin' Around" - (Shanachie Entertainment)

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Monday, August 07, 2017

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - August 7, 2017 #jazz

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

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Sunday, August 06, 2017

Chuck Loeb, Guitarist and Composer, Dies at 61

Versatile guitarist, composer and producer worked with Stan Getz, Steps Ahead, Fourplay and others

 Chuck Loeb

Chuck Loeb, a versatile guitarist, composer and producer best known for his associations with Stan Getz and Steps Ahead, and a musician whose compositions have been recorded by a variety of smooth-jazz and pop acts, died at 9 p.m. on July 31, according to his family. Loeb was 61. He had suffered with cancer for several years. Loeb recorded more than 20 albums as a solo artist, composed commercial jingles, TV theme songs and music for films, and had an extensive career as a studio musician, his rhythm and lead work found on a variety of pop, jazz and Brazilian recordings.

“The music scene has suffered a devastating blow,” said bassist and longtime associate Will Lee in an email to JT. “Master guitarist and composer Chuck Loeb was so musical, he was one of those big-eared geniuses that heard the music in everyone and everything around him. Playing with Chuck on so many occasions, I can tell you that he had a way of utilizing my talents to get just what he needed out of me. He was so prolific—writing, producing and arranging for not only his own projects, but those of Carmen Cuesta, his multi-talented wife, daughters Lizzy Loeb and Christina Cuesta Loeb, as well as so many artists to whom he has contributed those talents. May Chuck’s incredible spirit be remembered in his music for all time.”

Born Dec. 7, 1955, in Nyack, N.Y., Loeb began playing guitar at 11, and by 13 he was gigging in local bands and had decided that music was all he wanted to do. He became interested in jazz while still in his teens, ultimately studying with Jim Hall on the recommendation of his prior teacher, Philadelphia guitarist and guru of sorts Dennis Sandole. After he graduated from high school, he enrolled at Berklee, where he studied for a couple of years before dropping out in 1976.

Shortly thereafter Loeb moved to NYC and began working as a sideman with various jazz players, including Chico Hamilton, Ray Barretto, Hubert Laws and Freddie Hubbard. Around 1979, Stan Getz asked Loeb to join his band and he worked with Getz for about five years, eventually becoming the musical director of the group. While with Getz he met and married the Spanish singer Carmen Cuesta with whom he had two children, Lizzy and Christina. Getz was the best man at their wedding.

Playing with Getz was also a seminal experience for Loeb because he met and played with keyboardist Mitchel Forman in that group, and the two later reunited to form the band Metro, which released several albums in the ‘90s. In 1984 he joined Michael Brecker in the band Steps Ahead, with whom he toured and recorded for several years. Loeb would always cite Brecker as an important musical influence. In 2010, Loeb replaced Larry Carlton in the smooth-jazz super-group Fourplay, with whom he toured and recorded for many years.

Loeb had a very successful solo career, releasing nearly two dozen albums as a leader, for the DMP, Shanachie and Heads Up labels. “Chuck Loeb’s music seamlessly bounced between straight-ahead jazz, contemporary jazz and Brazilian music,” said former Heads Up label exec Dave Love, for whom Loeb recorded the Presence and Between Two Worlds albums. “[He was] a highly reliable musician that could add the right notes on all of the projects he was involved with.  A loving husband and father who was very proud of his family’s accomplishments, Chuck will be sorely missed by many, but especially from his musical family for which he loved dearly and who respected him to no end on and off the bandstand.”

He toured regularly with his own group, as well as with Fourplay and other bands. He also occasionally collaborated with presenters. John Ernesto, the general manager of the Berks Jazz Fest in Reading, Pa., worked closely with Loeb to create unique shows. “We were always brainstorming new opportunities,” Ernesto said. “Chuck came up with the idea to present a special tribute concert to Wes Montgomery. That idea blossomed into one of the fest’s most memorable concerts that featured seven guitarists—Chuck, Larry Carlton, Russell Malone, Pat Martino, Paul Jackson Jr., Earl Klugh and Jimmy Bruno. The Berks Jazz Fest lost a great friend. We will miss him so much, but his amazing musical spirit will be with us forever.”

Loeb was a prolific composer, not just of jazz tunes but also of compositions for film and television. His credits include theme music for ABC’s Nightline, One Life to Live, the Montel Williams Show, the Atlanta Braves, the New York Yankees and Knicks, and ESPN NCAA College Basketball. He was in fact a big baseball fan, often listening to his Yankees on the radio. However, his most high-profile theme was for CNN Headline News. “You know the one—it ends with the three eighth-note triplets on the tonic,” said Lee. “He may possibly go down in history as one of the world’s most-heard composers, since this piece is heard around-the-clock in countries all over the world.” Loeb played on numerous film scores including The Untouchables, You’ve Got Mail and Hitch.

In an At Home piece David R. Adler did on Loeb for JT in 2005, the guitarist recounted being star-struck during a guest appearance with Bob Dylan at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom. Loeb sat in on “All Along the Watchtower,” “Mr. Tambourine Man” and two lesser-known songs. “The first song I ever learned on guitar was ‘Like a Rolling Stone,’” Loeb said. “Dylan turned to me after one solo and said, ‘Yeah, Chuck,’ and I thought, ‘OK, I can die now!’”

Indeed, despite all his high-profile gigs, sessions and recordings, Loeb was a very unassuming and even self-deprecating man. One New York Times piece dubbed him “the Clark Kent of jazz guitar,” in an attempt to capture that unique combination of humility and talent. A bit of a homebody who lived most of his life in the Nyack, N.Y. area, Loeb was dedicated to his family. That devotion was well captured in Adler’s At Home piece on Loeb, who confessed that the family’s vacations revolved around his daughters’ passion for tennis.

Loeb is survived by his wife Carmen Cuesta Loeb and daughters Lizzy and Christina.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Jazz trumpeter Ilya Serov swinging his way through summer in the studio #jazz

Award winner will make the live performance premiere of “Swing 42” with Grammy-winning pianist Roger Kellaway on Tuesday night.

Jazz trumpeter Ilya Serov has been cooped up in the recording studio all summer working on his second album, but Tuesday night in Laguna Beach, he’s going to take a break to make the live performance debut of the first single, “Swing 42,” featuring the dapper swingman dueting with Grammy winner and Oscar-nominated pianist Roger Kellaway. Accompanied by his 10-piece big band, Serov will be joined by Kellaway on stage at the Pageant of the Masters 2017.

Brandishing a fresh whimsical arrangement by Tom Kubis, Serov’s snappy muted trumpet reading of Django Reinhardt’s “Swing 42” is a frisky and fun summer frolic bolstered by Kellaway’s fanciful piano flourishes and a four-chair horn section.

“‘Swing 42’ is one of my favorite of Django’s tunes. It has such positive energy.  I really like the music of that era and I had been compelled to do a rendition of this tune for a while. I am glad we finally did it. It was so much fun and of course it was such an honor and a pleasure to work with an award-winning legend, pianist Roger Kellaway, who is a featured guest on the track. His brilliant play brought so much to the sound,” said Serov, a classically-trained musician from St. Petersburg, Russia who resides in Los Angeles.

At Tuesday evening’s performance, Kellaway will introduce Serov as part of the Rising Stars series in which “world-famous musicians and music aficionados introduce their favorite up and coming performers.” The two musicians first formed a bond after meeting a few years ago, which led to the collaboration for Serov’s sophomore outing.  

“I was fortunate to have met Roger several years ago and was featured on a couple of songs during one of his shows. It was an unbelievable experience for me and very encouraging. We stayed in touch and I am proud to call Roger and his lovely wife, Jorjana, my friends. I feel blessed to have been able to work with him and honored to have him play on my album,” said Serov, who also teamed with Kellaway to lense a video for “Swing 42” ( 
Last month, Serov appeared on SiriusXM’s The Dave Koz Lounge to talk about “Swing 42” as well as the album in progress, which will consist of standards and tunes from the Great American Songbook. Serov is producing.

A trumpeter and debonair vocalist, Serov released his debut album, “September in the Rain,” in late 2013. A year later, he was named Best New Artist at the Hollywood International Music Awards. Although the new session consists of big band, swing and straight-ahead jazz, Serov is also an imaginative alchemist who experiments with contemporary jazz, R&B, pop and world music nuances. For more information, please visit

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