- Kimberly Brewer
- Don't Make Me Wait Too Long
- Paul Brown
- Promised Land
- Shanachie Entertainment
- John E. Lawrence
- Super Trax
- This Is The Good One
- Safety Net
- Keiko Matsui
- Shanachie Entertainment
- Bill McGee
- The Tree of Life
- 804 Jazz
- Threestyle feat Magdalena Chovancova & Robert Fertl
- Better Days
- Jayson Tipp
- Groove Together
- Mind in Overdrive
Listening Loft : HOTPICKS
Though Gregory Abbott’s classic, instantly recognizable 1986 hit single “Shake You Down” was a Billboard #1 pop/R&B smash with the distinction of reaching a million radio spins faster than any song in BMI history, the NYC bred singer/songwriter is far from a one hit wonder. Beyond his other two Top 5 hits, he’s been releasing a steady stream of Urban/Smooth jazz friendly singles for over 20 years, including five since 2019. Drawing lightly exotic touches of inspiration from his Spanish/Caribbean roots, Abbott’s new single “Whisper the Words” offers a master class in infectious and lilting romantic island charm, with lyrical imagery to match its sweet musical tropicality. The Al Jarreau-flavored seduction features the hypnotic, sensually balmy acoustic playing of guitar great Chieli Minucci.
On her stylistically eclectic, highly autobiographical new album TIME IS NOW, multi-talented Hawaiian vocalist and poetically insightful songwriter Maelan Abran invites us into a unique, sonically dynamic world. She balances exquisite and vulnerable romantic expressions with edgy social consciousness, an impactful feeling of pop/soul/jazz fired hope and thoughtful, heart wrenching and motivating imagery reflecting on her roots growing up on the Big Island. Adding to the epic, sometimes dreamy and atmospheric, other times, swinging and funky vibe is a beautiful piano and orchestra interlude that serves as a sweeping break between the collection’s powerful dramatic narratives. Helping shape the fascinating soundscapes is Abran’s Grammy nominated co-writer and producer Marlin “Hookman” Bonds, best known for his work with pop superstars Jason Derulo, Swizz Beatz, Jay Sean and Chris Brown.
In a recent interview connected with the release of Jim Adkins’ latest album SOUL EXPRESSION, the versatile veteran guitarist said it all about his multi-faceted artistry when he talked about the inspiration for the title, “It all comes from within as an expression of my soul.” Nearly 25 years into his award-winning, regularly charting recording career, the Grammy nominated musician is still mixing up a non-stop, cool swirl of varying vibes and energies centered on his alternately crisp/crackling and sensually fluid lines. Complementing a batch of high-spirited originals with a bluesy, slow burning twist on an Ed Sheeran classic, Adkins brings his jazzy hipster magic to tracks that rock, jazz, immerse us in mystical romance and take us to balmy tropical climes.
Since her recording debut on the Grammy-nominated SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY album with music icon Lionel Hampton, multi-talented jazz vocalist and songwriter Sylvia Bennett has become something of a legend herself, with a dozen solo albums to date, and a successful emergence into Smooth Jazz that includes collaborations with Arturo Sandoval, Paul Brown, Rick Braun and Nathan East. With production by longtime collaborator and producer Hal S. Batt, the vibrant singer’s latest album REFLECTIONS finds her looking firmly ahead, pairing her lush, lilting and sultry vocals with seductive light grooves and sweet caressing musical atmospheres. Complementing her emotionally impactful originals with a tasty “world mix” of a Songbook standard ("Witchcraft"), she thoughtfully explores the many facets of relationships, from hopeful beginnings and making dreams reality to the fine art of working things through.
Twenty-five years after establishing himself as an impactful straight ahead guitarist with his renowned ensemble Pursuance, multi-faceted guitarist Ron Bosse – referred to as a “master in the making” by Guitar Player Magazine - pulls a fascinating, freewheeling 180, getting into a funkified, explosive and uber-melodic groove collaboration with Jeff Lorber on his epic high-octane album BURNING ROOM ONLY. The two bring the wildly infectious, ultra-melodic and robustly grooving tracks to life with an ensemble of equally genre-busting greats – including saxophonists Bob Mintzer and Bob Reynolds (Snarky Puppy), bassists Ben Shepherd, Jimmy Haslip, MonoNeon (Prince’s last bassist), Hadrien Feraud, drummer Gary Novak, with sizzling horn arrangements by David Mann. Bosse freely showcases his potent rhythm lead guitar chops along with his colorful and expressive melody lines and burning improvisations, hence the title!
If you want to know what the multi-faceted musical city of Miami sounds like in 2022, listen no further than SOULFUL NIGHTS, the latest seductive, snazzy, pop, funk and Latin jazz driven album by Latin Grammy winner and five time Grammy nominated saxophonist Dr. Ed Calle. Calle’s silky, uber-romantic and punchy tenor is the delightfully infectious emotional through-line on the compelling originals and imaginative covers of classics by Stevie Wonder, Bobby Caldwell and Marvin Gaye. Yet at heart, this multi-faceted project is a full-on celebration of the saxophonist’s hometown, featuring guest vocals by two pop greats that make their home there (KC of the Sunshine Band and the bilingual Jon Secada) as well as ace production and arrangements by legendary behind the scenes figures Hal Batt and Mike Lewis.
More than just a clever name, Doc City is a dynamic, multi-faceted all-star contemporary jazz/R&B ensemble led by real MD, Dr. Clarence Taylor, who is a practicing internal and emergency medicine physician at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic Foundation – and is also a versatile multi-instrumentalist and vocalist. Two decades after being nominated as Best R&B/Soul Band by the Cleveland Free Times Music Awards, the powerhouse, lushly romantic and wildly grooving 19-piece (15 instrumentalists, 4 vocalists) band featuring trumpeter Sean Jones and singers Evelyn Wright, Tina Farmer, and Reggie Kelly returns with a DELUXE EDITION of their sophisticated project, WELCOME TO DOC CITY. It’s a stylistically expansive set of music that rolls like a sexy party mix featuring soul, hip-hop, jazz and pop and features beautifully crafted songs as well as vibey dance mix of a Sade classic!
Imagine the good fortune of being the wife of master saxophonist Wayne Gutshall. A few years after scoring a remarkable five #1 singles on SmoothJazz.com’s World Listener Chart, the multi-talented Miami based composer/musician finds a fascinating way to pay loving homage to her with a sweet, sensual nod to her Spanish heritage. On the perfectly titled, balmy and breezy “Spanish Love,” he not only plays his passionate heart out, but also uses his emotional sax melody as the foundation for a gorgeous, dreamy conversational duet with the soulful acoustic guitar flow of genre great Steve Oliver. Like in previous solo works, the slow danceable “Spanish Love” draws on Gutshall’s extensive resume playing with Latin artists like Ed Calle, Arturo Sandoval, Nestor Torres and the late Dave Valentin.
Often described vocally as a cross between Ella Fitzgerald and Tina Turner, veteran Australian singer-songwriter Skii Harvey is a celebrated citizen of the world, recognized by the Billboard Music Awards, the UK Songwriting Awards and Australian Songwriter’s Association. Over 15 years after launching her recording career, she profoundly shifts sonic gears, working on her heartrending, soul-piercing and uber cathartic forthcoming EP WAITING with renowned South Korean producer and K-pop artist Mackelli. The sequel/emotional aftermath to her powerful heartbreak chronicle BROKEN, this four-ballad collection finds her taking stock of the past, moving slowly past the pain and embracing the fact that she no longer must wait for happiness. She also slyly embraces the reality that the wait for true love (after one that wasn’t) captures the heart in perpetuity.
Next time you hear “Copacabana,” imagine guitarist Jon Pondel and keyboardist Ron Pedley – collectively recording now as Kombo – playing it on tour behind Barry Manilow in the early 80s. They later joined forces with two other Manilow bandmates to form Uncle Festive, which scored radio hits in the late 80s and 90s. Pondel and Pedley then launched Kombo around the turn of the century. Over 20 years since their last album, the duo’s new, auspiciously titled collection THIS IS THE GOOD ONE, finds them jamming like no time has passed on funky, fluid, moody and soulful guitar and retro keyboard driven tunes - including several with a swinging horn section. Their blend of driving grooves and whimsical adventure hits the sweet spot between Smooth Jazz and contemporary jazz fusion.
Fresh off his 2022 Soul Café Radio Indie Soul Awards nomination, versatile saxophonist Dee Lucas – closing in on 20 years as a recording artist – is set on fulfilling a dual mission as he releases his wildly eclectic, genre pushing new album NO BOUNDARIES. First, he’s committed to creating music as a coping mechanism for others, which in turn brings joy to his listeners. Second, reflective of the project’s theme, to make music that evolves with less restrictions and expectations. While keeping his infectious melodies and lyrical, ever-grooving horn vibe front and center, Lucas’ outside the box/comfort zone vision leads to an expansive palette of expressions, tapping into his cross-pollinating passions for pop, rock, funk, R&B and jazz and inspiring interactions with Blair Bryant, Gino Rosaria, Selina Albright, David P. Stevens and Ragan Whiteside.
Now in her fourth decade as a contemporary jazz icon and perhaps the genre’s most impactful global and charitable ambassador, keyboardist/composer Keiko Matsui titled her epic, wondrously exotic and wildly eclectic 30th album EUPHORIA after the wonderful feeling she gets when she witnesses how her classical and new aged influenced Smooth Jazz connects people around the world. Packed with luminescent melodies and rhythmic influences from around the globe, the visionary artist engages in jazz fusion, a prayerful meditation, an R&B anthem with Lalah Hathaway, a snazzy tango, a playful romp to Paraguay and a track she calls her “jazz symphony” featuring vibes player Joel Ross. She invites a handful of jazz legends along on the incredible journey, including Kirk Whalum, Mike Stern, Randy Brecker and John Beasley.
Having collaborated over the years with both R&B/pop legends the likes of Billy Preston, Maria Muldaur, and The Coasters, as well as Smooth Jazz greats including Acoustic Alchemy, Kirk Whalum and Eric Marienthal, Grammy-nominated bassist and guitarist Dennis Murphy brings a dynamic swirl of history, adventurousness, and hard-grooving energy to his current splash in the genre. Setting the stage for his upcoming, star-studded album INFINITE – the follow up to his hit 2021 collection OUR HIGHER SELVES, which stayed on the Smoothjazz.com TOP100 Chart for 49 weeks, Murphy brings a feisty mix of irrepressible, funky and fiery exotica and gritty blues to Sergio Mendes’ classic “Mas Que Nada.” The fast-rolling track features plenty of trademark improvisations by Murphy, who intermingles throughout with the buoyant, intensely pulsating piano and organ of guest super star Ricky Peterson (David Sanborn, Stevie Nicks).
In establishing his record labels Key Rei Jazz and Studio Luna Azul, prolific pianist, composer, producer Rei Narita – renowned as Asia’s foremost pioneer of Smooth Jazz – has made his intentions clear: to build on the concept of creating beautiful music. Since his two-part full-length album series, THE COLOR OF SOUNDSCAPE in the 2010s, the multi-talented artist has released two follow up EPs and a flurry of popular singles, including one with Omar Hakim and Peter White. The title of Narita’s latest super-melodic, seductive and gently rhythmic gem, “Lets Meet Up Under the Sakura” refers to the Japanese cherry blossom. Narita’s dreamy and atmospheric, easy swaying, and often improvisational flow creates a gentle soundtrack for the image of two people meeting up under this tree that blooms inspirationally in spring.
A few years ago, before recording his popular debut album MAN WITH A HORN, Shawn Raiford was asked by renowned bassist Derek “DOA” Allen, “Who is Shawn Raiford?” The multi-talented musician’s response: “I’m just a guy with a saxophone who wants to play for the world.” Leading the SRE (Shawn Raiford Experience), he’s been a beloved fixture in the Sacramento area for over a decade. After slyly seducing us this past holiday season with a tasty cover of “Santa Baby,” Raiford sets the stage for his sophomore collection THE NEXT STEP. The project rolls out with the first single, “Forever” – a sultry, infectious and uber-melodic romantic ballad featuring a hypnotic/exotic drum groove, sizzling horn textures with backing support by Andre Delano, a snazzy sax-guitar conversation and Quintina Paris’ dreamy female background vocals that float above the sparkling magical cool.
Over the past few decades, Terrence Richburg – known by his peers as “The Quincy Jones of Gospel” – has amassed a mind-boggling, star-studded multi-genre resume in service of the Lord. He’s worked with the likes of Aretha Franklin and the Winans, appeared on over 36 albums, and worked as a jack of all musical trades - vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer, orchestrator, etc. Inventive sourcing of influences like Earth, Wind & Fire, Take 6 and George Duke can be heard all over Richburg’s 16-piece vocal and instrumental masterpiece TREASURES, which he composed and recorded during the pandemic as a companion piece to his 2020 book “Wisdom Treasures.” His luminous blend of easy-flowing gospel-jazz, colorful keyboard instrumentals and funky jams offer a musical testimony to the priceless treasures of God.
While the staggering number of 6 billion downloads and streams may be hard to fathom, Michael Silverman – the most streamed pianist on the planet - has made each a joyful experience over the past 15 years with his diverse array of stylistic excursions. Sure to add quickly to his total, his latest destination is “Clearwater,” a buoyant, melodically infectious, easy grooving romp blending Silverman’s lively elegance with Eric Marienthal’s always spirited sax. Joining forces with legendary bassist John Pattitucci, Silverman’s brother Rob on drums and percussionist Casey Adams, they have a sunswept blast that celebrates their initial meeting playing the Clearwater Jazz Holiday festival. This perfect Smooth Jazz cure for the winter blues is the second lead single from Silverman’s remotely created upcoming album IN THESE TIMES.
After a series of edgy electric guitar driven Smooth Jazz albums featuring beachy/summery titles like COAST DRIVE and RIDE THE WAVE, multi-talented musician-composer Will Sumner got more personal with his 2021 release OCEAN STREET, which featured songs emotionally connected to his longtime former family home in Carlsbad, where his mother lived until her passing at 96. On this latest, truly innovative sonic excursion MEADOWLARK, Will keeps his trademark blend of buoyant funk/rock, sensual atmospheric balladry and breezy, piano-enhanced melodic grace flowing in loving homage to the beautiful working alfalfa farm in Apple Valley, California. owned by his grandmother in the 1960s and 1970s. The collection of infectious tunes brings to life grandma’s warmth and generosity, as well as the sweet nostalgia of his childhood summer vacations there.
Saxophonist and keyboardist D.S. Wilson has teamed with recording artist, guitarist and producer Adam Hawley along with an all-star cast to produce SKYLINE, the 3rd full album of contemporary jazz featuring catchy melodies and solid grooves. The A-listers in the mix include Eric Valentine on drums, Mel Brown on bass and Carnell Harrell on keys. Paying homage to the bustling vibe of the Windy City, the project has released advance singles which have proven to grab the attention of radio stations and music fans around the world. His previous single, "Leave It To The Gods" has nearly 100k streams on Spotify! The successfully charting artist, performer and composer has experience in jazz, blues, pop and rock and all of these genres seamlessly flow through the tracks on SKYLINE, giving the listener an exciting experience from beginning to end.
Listening Loft : MUST HAVES
Acclaimed TV arranger/orchestrator and Tony Award nominee for the score of the Broadway Musical "Anna Karenina," multi-talented pianist/composer Dan Alan Levine says that “one of the nice things about Smooth Jazz is that it allows the spirit and soul to relax.” It’s joyfully ironic then, that the wondrously inviting, infectious tunes on his stylistically eclectic (and perfectly titled) debut album OVER THE MOON are peppy and optimistic. Advance singles are still receiving airplay around the world on Smooth Jazz radio and being featured on some of the most popular streaming Playlists. Mixed and mastered by chart-topping songsmith Peter Ferencz (Peet Project) and driven by light funk grooves that breeze along the pop, soul, jazz, tropical and Latin landscapes – with a dash of classical. Dan’s emotionally compelling melodies come to life with the support of two genre leading ladies, flutist Kim Scott and saxophonist Jeanette Harris. The full album release is celebrated with the latest single, the project's title track, "Over The Moon."
Though pianist/composer Carol Albert has been recording since the early 90s, it’s testament to the fire her singles have caught on at Smooth Jazz Radio since 2016 that two tracks from her 2020 album STRONGER NOW have Spotify streams in the millions – very rare numbers for the genre. Her streak of infectious hits continued with the first two lead singles from her latest wonderwork MAGIC MIRROR, which sweeps us up in spirited whirlwinds of melodic grace via tunes that range from intimate and meditative to exuberant and funky to exotic and Brazilian flavored. While promoting themes of personal soul escape/adventure and self-reflection in this post-pandemic era of new awakenings, Carol showcases her love for dreamy, easy-flowing contemporary jazz that takes her, and us, to many magical places.
Focusing on music after getting a Master’s in physics, German keyboardist/composer Michael Quast wrote his first Smooth Jazz song in 1996, then set his compositions aside and became a busy touring sideman with Paul Young, Nik Kershaw, Johnny Logan and Midge Ure. Since launching his recording career as Amandus in 2020, there’s been no stopping his irresistible blend of lighthearted funk grooves and cheery but often sensually romantic melodies. On his new EP, HER LOVE, Quast optimistically explores the many facets of love real and imagined, complementing his dazzling keys with exotic percussion, colorful vocal textures and the edgy rap of Trinidad born Klyive on the title track. Another essential aspect of Amandus’ sound is his seamless interaction with the fluid energy of German electric guitarist Uli Broderson.
Truly manifesting the thought-provoking title of his fourth album DO WHAT YOU FEEL, veteran Urban Contemporary Jazz trombone master, Steve Baxter’s stirring blend of soulful, funky and smooth music invokes the classic R&B/jazz vibe of Wayne Henderson and finds him joining the ranks of Trombone Shorty and Brian Culbertson as contemporary jazz cats making Smooth Jazz a wonderland of possibilities for the instrument’s unique lower toned timbre. Steve’s unique stylistic array has its roots in his years sharing stage and studio time with everyone from The Crusaders, Barry Manilow and Gladys Knight & The Pips to Alicia Keys, Babyface and Ziggy Marley. Adding deeper emotional cool to the mix are the very different moods created on several key tracks by guest vocalists Devere Duckette and Lynn Fiddmont. This is a must have for music enthusiasts!
To riff on the title of Paul Brown’s stellar, bluesy, jazzy and funky second Shanachie album PROMISED LAND, the veteran double Grammy winning guitarist has been the first-choice producer for any genre artist trying to get to #1 spot on the radio charts for 30+ years. As an artist and producer, he’s scored over 60 chart toppers! A few years ago, Brown took stock of his great success with ONES UPON A TIME, cleverly re-imagining those smashes with other artists. Brown brings his dynamic cool urban jazz aesthetic, fluid, crackling string style and soulful rhythmic diversity to a new batch of sure-fire smashes. He rolls from romantic cool, down home blues and tropical Latin cool to tight, infectious in the pocket jams with special sax guests Marion Meadows and Euge Groove.
Finally making time to pursue his musical dreams after retiring from a successful career in IT, versatile composer/flugelhorn player Bob Coate has been all systems go on his mission to create what he terms “Smooth Jazz and Beyond” over the past few years. He hails from Virginia, but his musical heart is in the tropics. Since breaking through with his appropriately titled 2021 debut single “Super Smooth,” he’s been on a prolific tear, showcasing his developing artistry with eight mostly laid back, beach-vibin’ tracks. His latest, the bright, easy-grooving seduction “Sasha” feat Sonix, is his most infectious yet, a multi-faceted production showcasing his dreamy and melodic horn, a sweet swirling atmosphere, bright synth chords, a tight light funk energy and sparkling soul-jazzy Fender Rhodes solo.
A multi-talented veteran saxophonist and music educator, Russian born, Australia based Igor Fedotov released albums and toured the world as a solo artist and guest performer while teaching 500+ students as an instructor over two decades. Though he’s been releasing solo projects since the late 90s, Fedotov’s stylistically, culturally and rhythmically eclectic, lushly orchestrated new album BELIEVE IN LOVE marks an emotionally impactful launch into Smooth Jazz. Unlike many saxmen who stick with one signature sound, Fedotov brings a multitude of sonic approaches to the mix, playing everything from a sensual Gato Barbieri-like tenor to lyrical and deeply funky soprano, with plenty of robust intensity and graceful romantic expressions in between. The bold production, big swelling strings and commitment to diversity add up nicely to a magnificent musical trip around the globe
Years after establishing his career as an MC/DJ during the early days of rap/hip-hop, writer, producer and musical visionary David Williams had ideas of creating the next Incognito or a hip-hop fired James Brown vibe before organically developing the ultra-melodic, silky cool and laid back funk and sizzling brass tinged sonic universe of the perfectly named Funktastic Players. On their exuberant, soulful and freewheeling seventh album JAZZ ON THE FUNKY SIDE, the quartet of Williams, saxophonist Marcus Mitchell, guitarist David Prince and keyboardist Kevin Croom ride both smooth and swanky, rhythmically eclectic waves of sassy, romantic, sensual and playful joy to create an exciting fusion that draws from all of Williams’ many musical passions and continues to fulfill his founding funktastic vision!
After decades leading numerous jazz fusion bands, guitarist/composer/producer James Morgan’s decision to launch his own brand of “West Coast Laid Back Jazz” via the Ghost Jazz Trio has been a spectacular success, including two 'Best Jazz Album of the Year' nominations from the San Diego Music Awards. Recently upgraded from a trio to a funky, hard-poppin’ quintet, the latest full-length jam GROOVIN’ SMOOTH is an infectious, rhythm-centric showcase for Morgan’s fluid style and the natural wood vibe of his Pat Metheny hollow body signature guitar. Everything is colored, of course, by the skillful and adventurous ensemble of seasoned musicians featuring legendary guitarist (album co-writer, arranger and producer) Dean Brown (Bob James, David Sanborn), bassist Nathan Brown (Bob James, Eric Marienthal, Brian Simpson), keyboardist Chase Pado and holding down the groove, Tres Hodgens on drums. Engineered and recorded by Grammy winner Alan Sanderson (Elton John, Michael Jackson, Rolling Stones).
Till now, everything written about the soulful and passionate, uber-romantic R&B/pop/jazz singer Gil touches on the fact that he finally pursued his musical dreams after decades in the car biz. With the release of this exhilaratingly upbeat and positive new single, “Nothing (Leslie’s Song),” the revamped story is all about his fast-developing artistry and, with the buoyant jam, his anticipatory hope that the lady is as head over heels in love as he is. While vibing brilliantly once again with co-writer and producer, Dove and Stellar Award nominee AyRon Lewis as well as Smooth Jazz guitar great Doc Powell, Gil also complements his Luther Vandross-like lovelorn cool with a sparkling high energy solo from Nashville piano prodigy David M. Rodgers.
The love continues with producer, composer, musician Jeff Golkin’s follow-up single to his critically acclaimed and Smooth Jazz charting debut album WE HAVE LOVE… FOR ALL TIME. “A Million Lifetimes” from the Jeff Golkin & Forever Love project is a timeless, mid-tempo ballad speaking to true love, the kind that lasts forever. The sentiment run deep on this emotive, sweet track… Served up it as a vocal duet and as an instrumental. The sweeping, cinematic piano is the star of the instrumental with complementing expression from violin, flute and guitar, and the musical arrangement warmly caresses the vocals on the original version. Golkin’s vantage point of perennial love leads him to the heartfelt believe that “love of another, greater than oneself, is to know the joy of how to make the world a better place for all time.”
Maggie Herron’s passionate, haunting twist on the Leonard Cohen classic is one of the big selling points for MY STORY IN SONG. The Michigan born, Honolulu based veteran jazz treasure, pianist and vocalist’s raw, vulnerable, emotionally revealing new album is due out soon. Yet it’s Herron’s impactful original material where she shares, in settings ranging from big band and gospel to easy swinging jazz, her enduring love, truth and grief over the 2020 loss of her beloved daughter and collaborator Dawn. Buoyed by jazz greats like Bill Cunliffe, Mitch Forman, Grant Geissman and Andrew Neu, Herron brings Dawn’s talent and spirit into the mix to pay homage to her life and legacy. This single will take you through the musical marble arch to the promised new album!
While old paradigm music industry protocol dictated that recording artists should limit themselves to a single album a year so as not to over-saturate the market, the fiercely indie-minded Lowell Hopper is blissfully answering to a higher muse these days. Only three months after releasing his brisk, feel good album ANOTHER HOT SUMMER NIGHT, the wildly prolific, adventurously melodic and groove intensive guitarist graces us with the equally infectious, uplifting and sweetly romantic TENDER TOUCH. As always, his trademark tonal blend (between crackling and silky) offers a wide palette of engaging tones and moods. Now over three decades and 21 albums into his recording career, the 20-year Air Force vet turned Smooth Jazz hit maker is soaring higher and more creatively than ever.
An incredible 45 years after releasing his epic debut album THE GENIE, and 33 years since his landmark Atlantic album IVORY DREAMS, Bobby Lyle reminds us on his latest collection that he’s still engaged and excited about being in the IVORY FLOW. The multi-talented pianist/keyboardist calls this gloriously crafted set “a reunion album,” with support from his equally legendary contemporary jazz pals Rick Braun, Gerald Albright, Najee, Marcus Miller, Marion Meadows, Nathan East, Everette Harp, Stanley Clarke, Kirk Whalum and Paul Jackson, Jr! This dream team takes fanciful spins through a riveting, expansive landscape infused with classic soul/funk, Latin-fired fusion, straight ahead jazz, solo piano blues and an elegant tune dedicated to Lyle’s son Tommy, who passed away in 2017 from diabetic complications. Step into the IVORY FLOW and feel the love.
With the release of THE TREE OF LIFE, a multi-faceted collection infused with Smooth Jazz, swinging traditional jazz, groovin’ R&B, new soul and bits of gospel and GoGo Afro Funk, veteran horn master, 804 Jazz founder and CEO Bill McGee celebrates musical greats Ramsey Lewis and Donald Byrd as well as personal milestones. Besides marking over 50 years as a recording artist and two decades in Smooth Jazz, Bill was recently elected President of the Richmond Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the civil rights organization founded by MLK! Beyond stylistic diversity, from sweet ballads and juicy jams to special guest performances from A-listers Freddie Fox, Fred Wesley, Christian de Mesones, James Saxsmo Gates, Najee and more, the project also spotlights McGee’s tender melodic flugelhorn and his remarkable one-man horn sections via the trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone and hybrid “flugelbone.” This musical tree provides shelter for enthusiasts who appreciate depth and joy in their listening experience.
For Andrew Neu, one of the perks of years touring with Bobby Caldwell, Diane Schuur, Smokey Robinson and Norman Brown is mastering the art of seamless, intuitive collaboration. Back in the Smooth Jazz fold with a funked-out flair after a critically acclaimed dive into Big Band, the multi-talented saxophonist found the perfect composing partner and producer for this phase of his solo career in #1 Billboard charting artist Greg Manning. Offering the perfect motivational message for the new year, Neu’s latest single “Lean Into It” – his second jam with Manning – brings an infectious blast of action packed, horn-drenched fire and fury via the tenacious snazz of the saxman’s fast simmering melody, Manning’s bluesy keys, Carlyle Barriteau’s jangling guitar and the tight pocket grooves of Mel Brown and Eric Valentine.
In 2021, as his #1 hits “Caught in the Groove” and “Outta Sight” were spinning regularly – ultimately making him Billboard’s #1 Smooth Jazz Airplay Artist of the Year – guitarist, composer and producer Nils was going through a rough personal time, traveling back and forth from L.A. to his original home of Munich to care for his ailing parents. The stylistically, eclectic gems written for his latest album COOL SHADES (which he dedicates to his late father Kurt) alternately reflect the heavy emotions of this time, the importance of musical catharsis and the need for joyful, infectious and funky jams to balance the sadness and brighten up the world. Not surprisingly, Nils works his bluesiest excitement ever – a point emphasized by his clever jazzy arrangement of a Jimi Hendrix classic.
Internationally known as a concert pianist (playing major music halls and festivals) and record producer for three decades, Ken Powe’s decision in 2015 to finally record as a solo artist has led to a wildly prolific run of five full-length albums in seven years – including his 2020 breakthrough STEPPIN’. On his latest, the multi-faceted ON THE LEVEL, he shares his passions for exquisite mood-setting balladry and lively, quick-grooving funk while showcasing a fascinating, dramatic style that reflects a hybrid of his classical training, trad jazz influences and love for Herbie Hancock and Ramsey Lewis. Whether he’s in full on seduction mode or caught up in, off the chain grooves, Powe’s trademark is improvising and creating sparkling flights of fancy at the same time he presents the main melody.
From Kirk Whalum and Jonathan Butler on down, countless Smooth Jazz musicians use their talents for tasteful, beautiful melodies and infectious rhythms to reflect their love of God. After a decade hiatus from recording, keyboardist/composer Hart Ramsey – Senior Pastor and Founder of Northview Christian Church in Dothan and Montgomery, Alabama and Atlanta – returns to help us groove and dance a bit with his stellar, multi-faceted contemporary jazz EP, A DIFFERENT HEART. Enhancing his foundational acoustic piano with adventurous excursions including electric piano, synth vibes and swirling atmospheres, Ramsey works his divinely inspired musical magic with some of the region’s most acclaimed musicians, including Grammy, Dove and Stellar Award-winning guitarist Rick Watford and saxophonists Kelley O’Neal and La’Roy Bodiford.
As Les Sabler embraces his fourth decade as a recording artist, the title of the versatile, ultra-fluid guitarist’s latest album, FLYING HIGH, says it all about his thriving career and creative flow. On his previous album TRANQUILITY, upon the suggestion of his mega hitmaking producer Paul Brown, he began exploring the unique mix of electric and acoustic tones on Brown’s vintage Gibson Johnny Smith model guitar – which likewise leads to a unique palette of sonic colors and a mix of lighthearted and darker tones on the new collection. Brown’s studio crew has a profound influence on Sabler’s ever-expanding artistry, with songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Shane Theriot writing five of the collection’s radio ready gems and trumpeter Ron King crafting fiery and festive horn arrangements of classics by Les McCann/Eddie Harris and The Lovin’ Spoonful.
In 2012, lifelong gospel musician and jazz enthusiast DA Scott was in a serious car crash that forced him to set aside his budding artistry and give up on his dreams. Ultimately believing that God had much greater plans for him, the multi-talented arranger, composer and keyboardist followed the divinely opened doors and launched his recording career ten years later. His second single, a rousing, passionate, choir-fired arrangement of the classic hymn “Come to the Garden,” is a showcase for Scott’s dynamic gospel-jazz keyboard magic and the deeply passionate saxophone of renowned guest artist Donald Hayes. Though the song is driven by powerful emotion, for Scott it’s the “quiet whisper” which reminds him that God is with him every step of the journey.
On many of Spontaneous Groovin’ Combustion’s big airplay singles since 2019, founder/leader Warren A. Keller drew on his history as an NYC rocker, bringing his edgy sax-driven fire to the forefront. On SGC’s latest single, the cleverly titled “Name Dropper” (so named because Keller admits he’s an “insufferable” one!), he showcases his mellower side via a dreamy and heartfelt lead flute melody over an easygoing groove. Fellow hitmaker, frequent collaborator and the song’s co-writer Blake Aaron ups the octane level, adding his trademark cracklin’ guitar and soulful fire, while Keller keeps an easy flowing chill vibe. Speaking of dropping names, Darryl Williams and Tony Moore create a tight pocket as Tateng Katindig dazzles on piano.
New York based producer- composer John Smatla had already played keyboards for a variety of major pop and rock music acts when he teamed with jazz heavyweight Dave Stryker to produce the first Ultrablue record, DUSK 2 DAWN. Now with the group's second album, the self-titled ULTRABLUE, John assumes full artistic control and creates a fascinating and sophisticated jazz collective with top east coast session cats and special all-star contributors including Randy Brecker (trumpet/flugelhorn), Pete Belasco (sax), Nestor Torres (flute), Gabriela Anders (vocals), David Mann (sax and added production), Philip Hamilton (vocals w/Pat Metheny Group) as well as support from R&B group, "Allure." Ultrablue's in-the-pocket, keyboard-driven tracks combine Brazilian, Latin and African rhythms and textures into an easy funk vibe, yielding an ultra romantic and cosmopolitan flow.
Listening Loft : ESSENTIALS
When Stevie Wonder asks you to record one of his songs and recommends a duet with an R&B sensation, you understand that it’s not a matter of saying yes, it’s a matter of how quickly you can say yes! Veteran vocalist Kimberly Brewer has toured the world and recorded three albums with Wonder. She has also toured with Earth, Wind & Fire, Julio Iglesias, k.d. lang, Vanessa Williams and many more. So you also understand why Stevie asked her! When Kimberly and smooth crooner Joe (“I Wanna Know”) recorded “Don’t Make Me Wait Too Long” the author loved it so much that he joined in playing his signature harmonic stylings! It’s a jazzy, contemporary adult smash that’s already had well over a quarter of a million plays on Spotify! What are you waiting for?
Since earning an impressive batch of Smooth Jazz radio accolades upon her breakout in 2020, there’s been no stopping Castella, a onetime HR Exec who turned her musical dreams into reality with her sensual, super-soulful vocals and inviting mid-tempo romantic gems. Vibing with Top 5 Billboard charting saxman Marqueal Jordan, Castella playfully grooves her way into 2023 with “I Saw You,” a hopeful, uplifting and whimsically funky love song – co-written by the singer and the track’s producer David P. Stevens, about how meeting the right person with pure intentions can change everything for the better.
Baghdad-born and raised composer/keyboardist Haider Raad (aka Doctor X) has been leading a fascinating double life, literally composing his wonderfully eclectic, contemporary jazz/funk meets chillout and world fusion debut, the intriguingly titled SINUSOIDAL for the past 25 years while pursuing and launching an impactful career in academia. Currently director of the Engineering Physics program and the Wearable Electronics Research center at Cincinnati’s Xavier University, Doctor X’s infectious tunes breeze artfully between Smooth Jazz and related genres, fulfilling his personal dreams and inspiring his kids while creating sine waves (oscillating mathematical wave forms) that not only symbolize the peaks and valleys of recorded music, but also of our life journeys.
Always full of stylistic surprises, NYC area pianist/composer (and former New England Music Academy piano instructor) Walter Duda followed his two previous singles with saxophonist Marion Meadows with his classical influenced piano and strings EP, GHOSTS OF BYGONE DAYS. Blissfully back in the ultra-melodic Smooth Jazz realm, his latest single “Got It Down” finds him in a passionate, soaring duet with Meadows (in tandem and then each bringing their individual solo sparkle) as his legendary longtime friends Will Lee and Dave Weckl create a tight, vibrant pocket. Guitarist Al Ferrante takes the jam to the next level with a blazing electric solo. Mr. Duda indeed has got it down!
Having created a major concert series in his hometown of Ypsilanti, MI, where he’s produced shows from greats like Earl Klugh, Ashford & Simpson and Mavis Staples, the multi-faceted teacher, instructional guitar book author and Smooth Jazz guitarist John E. Lawrence has met and vibed with countless genre luminaries. Among them is Jeff Lorber, who co-wrote, produced and includes his trademark dazzling keyboards, tight grooves and sizzling horns to this latest single, the high octane jam “Velocity.” In addition to being an electrifying collaboration, the track is yet another masterful showcase for Lawrence’s snappy and adventurous electric guitar magic.
The five multi-talented veteran South Florida musicians who’ve pooled their collective decades of playing funky soul, picante Latin jazz, swing, jazz etc. with locals and legends alike are promoting their full-length debut album Mood 1: THE MIAMI SESSIONS with a ton of colorful, breezy and beachy language to convey that their splashy, vibrantly melodic, alternately sweetly soulful and high energy stylistic fusion is rooted in the rhythmic joys and laid back lifestyle of their hometown. But beyond simply creating catchy radio ready gems, the hard-working quintet fire up inventive, intuitive musical conversations and powerfully emotive solo action to forge a fresh new sound in Miami jazz featuring guitarist Paul Stewart, keyboardist Felix Gomez, saxophonist/flutist Ron Fattorusso, and holding down the low end, Rafael Valencia on bass, with Goetz Kujack on drums.
Not surprisingly considering his pre-Smooth Jazz resume as a keyboardist, producer, film composer, songwriter and music director that includes the likes of Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Nile Rodgers, Charles A. Kelly mixes it up with some of the genre’s elite (Blake Aaron, Darryl Williams, Tony Moore, Munyungo Jackson) on his stellar Innervisions Records debut album, YOU’RE NOT ALONE. With uplifting romantic and spiritually minded melodies, intimate and sparkling piano and keyboard magic, and always in the pocket, edgy and funk-minded grooves, Kelly fulfills the promise of his three dynamic lead radio singles and sets the stage for an incredible new phase in his career.
Three and a half decades since his Grammy winning R&B band Club Nouveau scaled the pop and soul charts with their spin on “Lean On Me” and “Why You Treat Me So Bad,” singer, songwriter and producer Jay King breezes and romances his way into the exotic side of vocal Smooth Jazz with SOULFUL BOSSANOVA – a perfectly titled jaunt full of soulful island rhythms, atmospheric Brazilian sultriness and silky, intimate expressions of love, longing and regret. Helping King cultivate this gentler, more seductive side of his artistry here are hit guitarist Nils and King’s longtime collaborator, saxophonist/flutist Cal Bennett.
A master at blending genuine analog with computer generated sounds, veteran bassist, composer and producer Shawn Kingsberry likens himself and his varied musings in Smooth Jazz, neo-soul and classic R&B to the character of Morpheus in The Matrix. Capping ten years of single releases and EPs, the Maryland-based musician brings fresh, deep in the pocket funk-jazz dazzle and buoyancy to the classic late 80’s Karyn White/Babyface duet “Love Saw It.” In addition to Kingsberry’s throbbing, hypnotic bass energy and Greg Cryme’s sensual vocals, the track features the dynamic sax energy of the artist’s son, saxophonist Kyle Kingsberry.
From touring, recording and performing with iconic talent such as The Rolling Stones, Prince, J. Lo, Etta James, Hiram Bullock and Randy Brecker, saxophonist Eric Knight has been setting the stage for his emergence as a powerhouse solo artist for years. Concurrent with the early success of KnightHammer, a Smooth Jazz duo formed with longtime friend Doug Oberhamer, Knight’s debut solo single takes a freewheeling, easy thumping spin through Gnarls Barkley’s Grammy-nominated smash, “Crazy," featuring a burnin' piano solo from Andy Ezrin (Chris Botti, David Sanborn) and an incendiary guitar solo from Marcus Machado. The track showcases the effervescent saxman’s soulful, funky and deeply melodic soprano and his inventive approach to horn texturing making "Crazy" as clever as a fox!
Smooth music chanteuse M’Lynn is back with an irresistible new hit, “Safety Net.” A neatly packaged production that traverses a steep emotional grade. Proving once and for all that vulnerability is strength, as the indie pop, soul singer goes there… M’Lynn is all in. Channeling her curiosity and confusion to the greater good of music crafting, the talented recording artist is working closely with Grammy nominated producer Emile Ghantous and Emmy-winning producer and songwriter Josh Goode to release several singles this year. Ironically, the latest song about learning to trust a comfortable, loving connection, offers a profound sense of comfort to the listener. Brilliantly fashioned to move your soul with its catchy, crisp arrangement and impeccable vocals, “Safety Net” is modern day musical gem. Go ahead, jump in, just be prepared to wear out the replay button.
In making his long-awaited debut as a Smooth Jazz artist with ANALOG FUTURE, three-time Grammy-winning producer and saxophonist Valentino Maltos fulfills his mission to create a positive vibe by capturing an inviting, soulful analog sound using warm synths, vintage electric pianos, turntable samples and live instrumentation. Along the way, the multi-talented performer – who has worked with the likes of Erykah Badu, Snoop Dogg and Dave Chapelle – stirs up a swirl of edgy funk jams, sensual mid-tempo romantic vocal driven expressions, horn-drenched R&B, a bustling spin on a Stevie Wonder classic, a mystical tribute to Roy Hargrove and a touch of spirituality.
Fusing his lifelong passion for music and love of animals, multi-talented musician, composer and producer Belton Mouras Jr. creates a fascinating multi-genre soundtrack and EP to his acclaimed short film “Mickey’s Tree,” a touching family drama about a teenage boy who follows various pathways to overcoming personal tragedy, including sharing adventures with a rescue dog named Mickey. He creates thematically illustrative tracks that range from the percussive and global fusion-driven theme to inspirational pop, funky piano jazz, infectious mainstream pop and rap. Mouras’s exhilarating piano is featured on “Mickeys Swag” and he also works with an array of talented musicians and artists, including world-class vocalists Craig Long and Laura Marina on “Sing To Me” and vocalists Ann Roach and Keith Stafford along with saxophonist Otis Mourning on the hit song “Don’t Let the Music Die.”
The vibrant pink, green and yellow background and bright, multi-hued outfit Erisa Nicole wears on the cover of her slammin’ new single “Fresh,” perfectly reflect the vibrant, buoyant vibes, whimsically soaring melody and hip, groove-intensive flair the saxophonist creates with co-writer and producer Adam Hawley. Soulful and punchy, with a dynamic blend of grit and whimsy, the optimistic track is the latest triumph for Erisa, who has been lighting up gospel and Smooth Jazz stages everywhere from her home base of San Diego to The Apollo Theatre and gigging with the likes of Con Funk Shun, Elan Trotman, Jazz In Pink and Nathan East.
On a dynamic roll creating sensual pop, R&B and neo-soul vibin’ singles since 2018, chart-topping, Chicago-bred vocalist and songwriter Raja-Nee brings a multi-faceted musical resume – including work with the Chi-Lites and legendary producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis – to her long awaited, rhythmically diverse, full-length album THE SOVEREIGN OF 14742 (dedicated to her parents, the title pertains to her childhood street address and the affectionate nick name for the youngest member of the family). Whether she’s swaying in the sultry romantic breeze or bringing her mid-tempo, easy-grooving, sexy energy to the mix, Raja-Nee captures our hearts by sharing her views on the many facets of love and relationships – including a dreamy, caressing take on a Fifth Dimension heartbreak classic.
Chicago-born native and Caribbean transplant, acclaimed saxophonist Mekiel Reuben delivers his highly anticipated new album JUST LIKE THE RADIO featuring jazzy grooves and soulful vibes. This well-respected musician has shared the stage with Ziggy Marley, Steel Pulse, UB40 Marcus Miller, Chaka Khan and many more over the hears. The island influence let him to study calypso, reggae and Latin rhythms with has since become part of the artist’s signature sound. If you’re a fan of old school, bold brassy horns and the courage to inch your way to your creative edges, this collection has your name written all over it. On the heels of the album’s advance singles, “Sly Jungle” and “FB Maze,” JUST LIKE THE RADIO is fully loaded and ready for your listening enjoyment!
Strategically named after the classic Stevie Wonder album for its intoxicatingly soulful blend of groove, sensuality, romance, spirituality and imparting of life lessons, Talking Book featuring Jared is a unique R&B/contemporary jazz studio ensemble of four vocalists and five instrumentalists captained by songwriter, producer, and keyboardist Jared Johnson. The group’s eclectic, intimately inviting MUSE OF ISIS, VOL. 1 was inspired by contemplating the divine eternal life of the ancient Egyptian goddess as well as a nod to women’s basketball star Isis “Ice” Thorpe. As such, the collection features a graceful blend of sweet acoustic charms, breezy, Sade and Babyface-tinged neo-soul and reggae with comforting, prayer-like tracks designed for healing and uplifting the soul.
When the unique tandem of Doug Thomas & Debbie Davis musically compel you to feel the love on their balmy, breezy new single, it’s an invitation with deep international resonance. Though they have enjoyed successful individual careers dating back decades, New Zealand multi-instrumentalist/composer Thomas and Guyana-born, Spain-based jazz/soul singer Davis have been successfully collaborating since 2009, with tracks being played everywhere from Australia and the U.S. to South America and beyond. On the seductive new “Feel My Love,” Davis’ captivating lead vocals and sweet whispers weave a romantic charm over an uplifting acoustic guitar and piano driven, brass-enhanced bossa-R&B vibe. A feel-good hit from beginning to end!
With the release of his full-length debut P.O.V. (Point Of View), onetime prodigy Bryan (aka B.) Thompson - who overcame a childhood hearing loss to master several instruments – may be a fresh Smooth Jazz sax sensation, but he is already a 100M+ views social media sensation, recognized by everyone from Chris Brown and Cardi B to Mariah Carey. The multi-faceted 25-year-old composer/artist, who’s performed with Najee, Kirk Whalum, H.E.R. and is now touring with Babyface, brings a hipness to the scene with swirling, hypnotic horn arrangements, dreamy soulful atmospheres, and fashionable sonic and rhythmic touches featuring cool hip-hop sensibilities.
At its divinely soulful, melodic, and easy grooving core, #1 Billboard Smooth Jazz charting group ThreeStyle is the Euro bred trio of Bavarian guitarist Robert Fertl and Czech-born twin Chovancova sisters, Magdalena (saxes, flutes) and Gabriela (drums). Yet as their latest sweetly sensual album BETTER DAYS (the band's 11th album) showcases, each fresh batch of colorful R&B/urban jazz expressions reminds us that their incredible array of guest soul-centric vocalists is every bit apart of their uplifting, smooth and romantic vibe. This time out, the guest roster includes Damon Dae, DW3, Latonya Black, Tim Owens, and Ashley Sankey, while guitarist Elvis Stanic shines and crackles on the project’s funk-filled instrumental single. Don't miss the ThreeStyle Jazz Radio Show featuring Smooth Jazz favorites as well as tracks from their albums!
While celebrating 30 years since launching his recording career as founder of the still active as ever, eclectic contemporary jazz ensemble Under the Lake, keyboardist Jayson Tipp – encouraged by band mate Quintin Gerard W – steps out in grand style as a Smooth Jazz solo artist with “Groove Together.” It’s a brassy, spirited and melodic, improvisation filled piano romp perfectly titled to reflect the swaying, high energy funk he creates collaborating with saxophonist and powerhouse composer/producer Darren Rahn. The lead single from Tipp’s upcoming album TABLE FOR ONE also features guitarist Randy Jacobs and the propulsive energy of drummer Tarell Martin.