Listening Loft Store

New Arrivals

  • Hank Bilal
  • A Bona Fide Christmas
  • HankBilalMusic.com

Listening Loft : HOLIDAY

Sylvia Bennett - Baby It's Cold Outside
Sylvia Bennett
Baby, It's Cold Outside feat Paul BrownOut of Sight Music

It may be getting colder outside, but it's definitely getting warmer on the radio as we enter the season to be jolly! Our favorite jazz singer teams with double Grammy winner Paul Brown and critically-acclaimed Miami producer Hal S. Batt for a tour de force, musical holiday surprise, a sophisticated, charismatic cover of "Baby, It’s Cold Outside," featuring PB on vocals, guitar and drums… A sweet blending of soulful and rugged with Sylvia's flawless, velvety delivery! With a smile, smirk and classic sex appeal Bennett thwarts Brown's characterization of the tune's relentless and compelling argument for staying snuggly indoors! A fun, festive arrangement featuring bouncy horns a plenty, and the duos irresistible, albeit confounding chemistry, makes it impossible to listen once... the video is even more addictive! Don’t hold out, check out this year’s favorite holiday hit!

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Hank Bilal - A Bona Fide Christmas
Hank Bilal
A Bona Fide ChristmasHankBilalMusic.com

If you’ve already got a lot of saxophone music in your holiday stocking, get your groove on in a whole different way the moody and soulful trombone tones of Hank Bilal’s intimate yet lively, eclectic jam A BONA FIDE CHRISTMAS. Chock full of sexy, re-imagined classics that you mistakenly thought you had heard every possible version of, the collection features Bilal easing from simmering urban jazz to old school swing, hipster hip-hop in duet with fellow horn man Lin Rountree as well as taking things hypnotic, funky and mysterious with flutist Althea Rene.  

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Leonard Dozier - Christmas Kind Of Way
Leonard Dozier
Christmas Kind Of WayCineplay Productions

In the deeply sensual vocal spirit of one of his top influences Luther Vandross… Actor, voiceover artist and R&B/jazz singer/songwriter Leonard Dozier bookends a year that started with a cozy pandemic-themed duet (featuring Tamira Charone and produced by Chris “Big Dog” Davis) with this gorgeous, original romantic Holiday ballad, “Christmas Kind of Way.” A lush, dreamy tune filled with warm, beautiful images of the season – including everything we love like wrappings under the tree, lighting a fire, falling snow and reindeer. A 2021 Society of Voice Arts and Sciences nominee, Dozier – despite a recent unsuccessful diaphragmatic plication surgery – is currently working on a new album titled RESET. 

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Nick Dukas - Through Their Eyes
Nick Dukas
Through Their EyesCnd Records

Perhaps only a singer/songwriter with eleven Silver Global Music Awards under his belt would try something as wonderfully audacious as Clearwater, FL based Nick Dukas, who charms his way into our Smooth Jazz consciousness this Holiday season with THROUGH THEIR EYES, a six track Christmas EP featuring a whopping four delightful originals that transcend even his crafty takes on Brenda Lee and Bobby Helms classics. Dukas works his earthy yet sparkling vocal glow through lively and sensual arrangements, including a whimsical big band duet and a track featuring the always transcendent sax of guest Michael Lington.   

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Damien Escobar - 25 Days Of Christmas
Damien Escobar
25 Days Of ChristmasPhoenix Lane Entertainment

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without this very special Holiday EP from Emmy-winning, violinist Damien Escobar. The NAACP Image Award nominee who rebuilt his career from the ground up through grassroots movements fueled by soulful mixtapes, now uses his platform to not only share his music, but to make a difference in the world. 25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS delivers the famed Dame sonic emotion, with all of the trimmings of the season. Truly one of the most majestic Christmas soundtracks we’ve had the pleasure of hearing, from classical overtones to contemporary beats on beloved Carols make 25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS a Must Play during your Celebration time!
 

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Forecast feat J.S. Floyd - Christmas Day
ForeCast featuring J.S. Floyd
Christmas DayForecast Music

Rebranded as ForeCast feat JS Floyd following their eclectic urban jazz/funk debut CHECK THE FORECAST earlier in 2021, musical siblings Jonathan (guitar) and Stafford (keyboards) Floyd bring their imaginative, vibrantly percussive sonic arsenal to the  grooving and spirit-filled Holiday collection CHRISTMAS DAY. The brothers, who have collectively collaborated with greats from Holland-Dozier-Holland and the Supremes to Jon B. and Al B. Sure, offer the perfect party playlist, keeping the tempo poppin’ (even on songs usually recorded as ballads) on a batch of classics and two fresh originals penned and sung soulfully by Jonathan. Other featured vocalists include Pam Walker and T C Carson. 

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Wayne Gutshall - I Wrapped My Love For Christmas
Wayne Gutshall
I Wrapped My Love For ChristmasSpicy Music LLC

A longtime mainstay on the Miami Latin music scene who has worked with everyone from Arturo Sandoval and Ed Calle to The Four Tops, saxophonist Wayne Gutshall takes a break from the funk and salsa sizzle to create his new original single “I Wrapped My Love for Christmas.” Fashioned as a tenderly romantic duet with singer Wendy Pedersen, the track was inspired by Gutshall’s wife’s passion for watching Christmas movies. Complementing Pedersen’s warm, inviting vocals, the track features an extended lush and sweetly soulful saxophone solo that will help everyone feel the love this holiday season. 

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Jody Mayfield - A Jody Jazzy Christmas
Jody Mayfield
A Jody Jazzy Christmas230 South Records

Having amassed a decades long resume that includes performing with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie and Illinois Jacquet to Grover Washington, Jr. and James Lloyd from Pieces Of A Dream, Jody Mayfield believes that jazz isn’t a style of music, but rather, how you play it. On his inviting holiday EP A JODY JAZZY CHRISTMAS, the multi-talented keyboardist blends his remarkable sense of soulful sonic adventure with a warm, familiar intimacy, resulting in fresh, hipster spins through five holiday classics. As caressing atmospheres waft around the tight grooves and lush melodies, Mayfield switches off seamlessly between piano and contemporary keyboard vibes. 

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Len Mizzoni - My Christmas Tree
Len Mizzoni
My Christmas TreeGigi Records

It’s always inspiring when an artist shares an original Holiday song rather than cover a classic – and in the case of “My Christmas Tree,” the poignant, intensely personally R&B/pop flavored  ballad by veteran Canadian jazz-soul singer Len Mizzoni, that increases tenfold when we learn the real life story behind it. Expressed beautifully in his poetic lyrics, the tree in question is being watched over by a new angel, Mizzoni’s granddaughter Gabriella, who passed away just before Christmas last year. Though clearly working through his sorrow, Mizzoni still finds joy in what is his favorite time of year – a truly miraculous and inspiring declaration.  

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Art Morris - An Art Morris Christmas
Art Morris
An Art Morris ChristmasArt Morris

This past year, at an age when most folks are enjoying retirement, Art Morris, having suffered through personal losses and critical health issues, figured it was high time to get started on his long set-aside aspiration to be a singer. Teaming with rock producer Brad Cox, the 77 year young musician put his powerful, rangy, and emotional vocals to a bunch of swinging, robustly arranged standards, including a dazzler featuring Mindi Abair. His new holiday EP, AN ART MORRIS CHRISTMAS, offers up a festively, infectious and energetic romp through six Holiday favorites, including noteworthy duets with Dutch jazz singer Laura Fygi and onetime teen sensation Tiffany. Tackling classics in fresh, dynamic and surprisingly rhythmic ways, Morris proves it’s never too late to make musical magic happen!  

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Stephen Rothhaar - God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Stephen Rothhaar
God Rest Ye Merry GentlemenStephenRothhaar.com

Young opera singer, Stephen Rothhaar made a pivot in 2018 and remixed his musical calling to include pop, R&B and jazz influences and ended up with the chart-topping Smooth Jazz release, MOMENTS, that crossed over to several format landscapes and ended up on prestigious playlists all over the world. Returning for a seasonal second round with elite Grammy-nominated producer Nate Harasim, Rothhaar spins his vocal magic on a cinematic pop rendering of  “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” featuring a smooth mash-up with "Carol of the Bells" and “Joy to the World.” Spirited, soulful, seductive. Ideal as a soundtrack segment for the hit TV show, The Blacklist, should they ever shoot a holiday episode.

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Listening Loft : HOTPICKS

Marius Billgobenson - The Spirit Love
Marius Billgobenson
The Spirit LoveMarius Billy

The title of Congolese born, Stockholm, Sweden based singer/songwriter Marius Billgobenson’s album THE SPIRIT LOVE embodies his life’s work and mission as a concerned and compassionate musical citizen of the world with a commitment to bridging cultural divides. Over the course of 11 heartfelt and provocative, urban jazz meets world music tracks, the multi-talented artist – also an award-winning anthropologist with a deep passion for ethnomusicology - creates a deeply visceral and empowering autobiographical fusion of pop, soul, blues and jazz, infused with the spirited rhythms and vocal sounds indigenous to the Congo. Helping him immerse into the Smooth Jazz world are Paul Brown, who wrote and produced two tracks, and Chris “Big Dog” Davis, who helmed six others. 

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Patrick Bradley - Exhale
Patrick Bradley
ExhalePatricks Song Factory

Closing in on a decade and a half of solo artistry, multi-talented pianist, keyboardist and composer Patrick Bradley gives us all permission to EXHALE after a challenging year, on this infectious, fancifully played and deeply funkified new album. Forging an exciting, spiritually driven musical partnership with saxophonist and producer Darren Rahn, Bradley takes his high energy blend of lively urban jazz, hipster blues, cool and rock influenced jazz fusion to transcendent levels, keeping the positive, hopeful energy flowing with fiery guest performances from Rahn, Jeff Lorber, who produced two tracks, guitarist Allen Hinds and trumpeter Rick Braun. Thematically, Bradley uses these stylistically diverse tracks express everything from gratitude and the blessings of his faith, to affection for family.   

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Dreaming In Colour - Back In The Day
Dreaming In Colour
Back In The DayDreaming In Colour LLC

The Euro Jazz Press got it right when it pegged the veteran funk-soul driven ensemble Dreaming in Colour “The Steely Dan of Smooth Jazz.” Originally founded over 30 years ago by bassist Kevin Ellis and drummer Chris Noonan, the veteran ensemble has experienced a renaissance recently with a flurry of big radio singles. Their latest high-energy release, “Back in the Day,” lives up to its moniker, offering a fun-filled, danceable Chicago Steppin’ vibe that its composer, DiC keyboardist Michael Scherer, enthusiastically describes as “the kind of music you might have heard in a roller-skating rink in the 80s.” In addition to Scherer’s lively piano melody, other high points include Ellis’ snappy bass fills and the seamless interaction of Scherer and saxophonist Jason Swagler on the irrepressible hook. 

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Damien Escobar - 25 Days Of Christmas
Damien Escobar
25 Days Of ChristmasPhoenix Lane Entertainment

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without this very special Holiday EP from Emmy-winning, violinist Damien Escobar. The NAACP Image Award nominee who rebuilt his career from the ground up through grassroots movements fueled by soulful mixtapes, now uses his platform to not only share his music, but to make a difference in the world. 25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS delivers the famed Dame sonic emotion, with all of the trimmings of the season. Truly one of the most majestic Christmas soundtracks we’ve had the pleasure of hearing, from classical overtones to contemporary beats on beloved Carols make 25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS a Must Play during your Celebration time!
 

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Jeff Golkin & Forever Love - Jeff Golkin & Forever Love
Jeff Golkin & Forever Love
We Have Love... For All TimeSmiling Goddess Productions, Inc.

With a background of performing on and off Broadway at an early age, producer, pianist and drummer Jeff Golkin brings a unique sense of drama and emotional storytelling to the Smooth Jazz genre on WE HAVE LOVE…FOR ALL TIME, the expansive debut album by Golkin and his large ensemble Forever Love. Weaving a dynamic mix of vocals (by Joanne Williams and Kevin Batchelor) and instrumentals, including his four beautiful originals layered between sparkling twists on standards from the likes of The Blackbyrds, Carpenters, Henry Mancini, Peggy Lee, Jerome Kern and others, the visionary creates an inspiring, love-drenched narrative with exciting stops in Latin, soul/funk, and traditional jazz territories on the romantic road to forever. The 13-track, adventure filled collection marks an auspicious launch for this multi-faceted group.  

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Wayne Gutshall - Going Up
Wayne Gutshall
Going UpSpicy Music LLC

If you’re somehow not familiar with Wayne Gutshall, the guy Sandy Shore calls a “modern master of saxophone” who’s scored five #1 singles on SmoothJazz.com Global’s Listener Chart, you get another inspiring chance with his latest track “Going Up” – a passionate, meditative ballad duet with bassist Brendan Rothwell penned during the pandemic for the sole purpose of soothing our anxieties and lifting our spirits. Gutshall, a favorite on Miami’s vibrant Latin jazz scene, who’s played with Steve Oliver, Paul Brown, Arturo Sandoval and many others, offers up Rothwell’s seductive bassline to build anticipation as he rolls out the song's sultry sax melody. The two fashion a hypnotic dual-energy that balances intuitive musical conversations with vibrant soloing. And all at once you’ll find your blood pressure is going down while your hopes start “Going Up.”

 

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Vincent Ingala - Fire & Desire
Vincent Ingala
Fire & DesireShanachie Entertainment

When saxophonist Vincent Ingala burst into Smooth Jazz consciousness in 2010, he was a multi-talented wunderkind in his late teens setting the genre on fire. Some eleven years later, as he releases his seventh album (and third on Shanachie), the high spirited, infectiously passionate and dance groove intensive FIRE & DESIRE, the veteran powerhouse has 18 Top Ten and 8 #1 radio singles under his belt. The pandemic era recording protocols were a snap for one man band Ingala, who does it all – composing, producing, recording, mixing and playing all instruments (keys, drums, guitar, bass and of course sax) – on an exuberant, celebratory (but also lushly romantic at times) set that taps adventurously into his loves for jazz, R&B, pop, funk, disco (via a re-imagined 70’s instrumental classic) and rock. 

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Reza Khan - Imaginary Road
Reza Khan
Imaginary RoadPainted Media LLC

A socially conscious force in global jazz fusion for over 10 years, Bangladesh born, NYC based composer/guitarist Reza Khan taps into the exotic-meet-melodic aesthetic of one of his major influences, Pat Metheny in his adventurous approach to blending pop, jazz, soul and world music influences. On his multi-faceted and wildly groove intensive album IMAGINARY ROAD, Khan uses a wide array of musical textures to express his emotions about the pandemic and our political culture. Vibing with top genre musicians like Philippe Saisse and Miles Gilderdale (Acoustic Alchemy) as well as fusion great Mark Egan (bass) and trad jazz pianist Matt King, he leads us along an ultimately hopeful path filled with sunshine, sizzling soul, seductive light funk and exquisite free flowing balladry.  

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M'lynn - Trophy Shelf
M'Lynn
Trophy ShelfM'Lynn Music LLC

“Trophy Shelf" is the culmination of artistry from singer/songwriters Melanie Jo and M’Lynn, producer Fivel, and lyrical master L A C E. The four met while attending University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. Melanie Jo and Fivel, while working on their own duo project, found themselves needing a set of extra ears on the beat originally known as “XXX.” M’Lynn got a hold of the beat, and quickly wrote the chorus to “Trophy Shelf” based on her budding relationship with rapper and producer L A C E. Once all four powerhouses got in a room together, the rest of the track was written. The final project features lead vocals by M’Lynn, and beautiful background vocal textures from Melanie Jo and L A C E, masterfully blending all of these artist’s styles into one soulful song!

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Michael Manson - A Ray Of Hope
Michael Manson
A Ray Of HopeManson

In the dozen or so years between the release of his last studio album and this new collection, A RAY OF HOPE, world traveling Chicago-based bassist and composer, Michael Manson and his wife Lana have served the needs of thousands of students at their Musical Arts Institute. Now back in full swing and groove, the multi-talented artist – who’s played with genre elites Steve Cole, Brian Culbertson, Kirk Whalum and Larry Carlton, among others – picks up where he left off, alternating instantly infectious, brass-fired,  melodic funk with a graceful jazz waltz and sensual ballads featuring pianist Ben Tankard and vocalist Kevin Whalum. The multi-mood swinging party also includes guest shots by Najee, Kevin Whalum, Lin Rountree, Ben Tankard, James Lloyd, Darren Rahn, and Tom Braxton!

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Dennis Murphy - Our Higher Selves
Dennis Murphy
Our Higher SelvesDennis Murphy Music

The title of Grammy nominated composer, guitarist, bassist and multi-instrumentalist Dennis Murphy’s 1999 debut HIT ME HARD, perfectly captures the intensity he’s brought over the years to his multitude of endeavors as an early genre radio personality (whose show “Bass Trax” was produced by Smoothjazz.com founder, Sandy Shore), clinician and founder of a popular Monterey, California music school, and studio and touring sideman for Acoustic Alchemy, Maria Muldaur, Billy Preston among others. On this latest foray, the eclectic, ultra-melodic and tightly grooving OUR HIGHER SELVES, Murphy darts artfully between colorful guitar playing and bass-driven Smooth Jazz, fusion, playful samba and spiritual soul while freewheeling with an all-star cast including elite saxophonists Kirk Whalum, Eric Marienthal, Gary Meek and Tower Of Power’s Tom Politzer, as well as late guitar great Jeff Golub and legendary drummer Will Kennedy!

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Grady Nichols - Grady Nichols & Friends - Live
Grady Nichols
Grady Nichols & Friends - LiveGrady Nichols

With the release of GRADY NICHOLS & FRIENDS – LIVE!, the Oklahoma-based saxophonist celebrates 25 years as one of contemporary jazz’s most versatile recording artists – an era that’s found him crossing from Smooth Jazz to R&B to Christian pop, earning multiple awards and opening for Ray Charles, Pavarotti, Wayman Tisdale and The Beach Boys. Capturing the multi-faceted, stylistically eclectic magic of his live performances, the action-packed, funky, rockin’ and sensual 110 minute set finds Nichols having a blast on a mix of originals – including two dazzling Jeff Lorber collaborations from Nichols’ 2004 album SOPHISTICATION -  and dynamic re-imaginings of classic pop tunes (David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Hall & Oates) featuring an array of guests, including Lorber, Chris Rodriguez, Andy Chrisman, Rachael Lampa and Bill Champlin.  

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Pieces of a Dream - Fired Up
Pieces Of A Dream
Fired UpShanachie Entertainment

The great Grover Washington, Jr. discovered, nurtured, and produced Pieces Of A Dream while they were teenage phenoms still in high school. They return with their latest, FIRED UP featuring Special Guest Justin-Lee Schultz! The new collection is a funky, joyful musical celebration, filled with the melodic grooves that have made the band fan favorites. The 10 brilliant originals that run the gamut from ‘in the pocket’ R&B to sensuous Smooth Jazz jams are proof that Pieces Of A Dream are at the top of their game! Founding member, keyboardist James Lloyd, who has been a go-to hit maker and accompanist for such artists as Nick Colionne, Luther Vandross, Babyface, David Sanborn, and others, shines on the new project along with co-founder, percussionist Curtis Harmon, together "Pieces" offers a unique sound, making them a true crowd pleaser!

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Shawn Raiford - Man With A Horn
Shawn Raiford
Man With A HornShawn Raiford Sax Productions

With one listen, you’ll step deeply into the alluring saxophone world of Shawn Raiford… he is the MAN WITH A HORN, playing it smoothly, brightly and with great conviction! This slickly produced and intensely melodic debut album fires up rich bass lines and hip-hop grooves, creating a proprietary blend of Smooth Jazz, pop, funk, soul and gospel for the Sacramento alto saxman. Raiford’s roots took form in a house of worship, where he played sax for the first time at his late grandmother’s 75-year church anniversary. While showcasing his highly spirited style and emotional range, this collection reflects many styles of musical inspirations, from the exhilarating Raiford-penned originals that the world will surely take notice of, to a select and fun handful of covers from Bruno Mars, DeBarge and Rihanna. MAN WITH A HORN from a man who has arrived. 

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Lawson Rollins - Rise
Lawson Rollins
RiseBaja/TSR Records

Ranked as one of the 50 Transcendent Acoustic Guitarists of all time by Guitar Player Magazine, Lawson Rollins has been an impactful virtuosic force on contemporary jazz and world music (both as half of Young & Rollins and a solo artist) using his flair for string and overall sonic intricacy  and exotic adventure to create a hybrid fusion of Afro-Cuban, Spanish, Indian, Persian and Arabic music. Rollins’ latest stylistically wide-ranging excursion, the appropriately titled RISE, is yet another multi-cultural, polyrhythmic delight, featuring speedy Spanish-flavored romps, funky exotic jams, sensual bossa nova and graceful ballads with caressing atmospheric touches. Along the way, he vibes with guests like Haitian vocalist Jeff Pierre, saxophonist Mary Fettig and Grammy winning violinists Charlie Bisharat and Mads Tolling. 

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Paolo Rustichelli - Changes
Paolo Rustichelli
ChangesNext Age Music

A dynamic force in chillout music who has brought progressive energy to Smooth Jazz since the mid-90s, Italian born, L.A. based keyboard maestro Paolo Rustichelli has mesmerized everyone from Miles Davis and Carlos Santana with his mystical jazz-funk productions. His latest single “Changes” is an infectious, atmospheric urban jazz funk romp whose colorful blend of piano and synth textures – with a fiery touch of sax - is rooted in a fascinating serendipitous jam with fellow synth lover Stevie Wonder. In the late 80s, Rustichelli was testing new synths and amps at a West L.A. store when Stevie heard his funky grooves and began improvising on another amplified keyboard. Decades later, Rustichelli brings that memory to life with the fresh, spontaneous joy he felt in that magic moment. 

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Johnny Schaefer - You Can't Hide The Light
Johnny Schaefer
You Can't Hide The Light feat Melissa ManchesterAuditory Verve

A fast-emerging new discovery in the Smooth Jazz realm, versatile singer/songwriter Johnny Schaefer brings an incredible resume to his uplifting, delightfully infectious new single “You Can’t Hide The Light” - a heartfelt, then rousing, pop/jazz meets gospel duet with  legendary Grammy winning vocalist Melissa Manchester. In addition to singing backup over the years for Manchester, Sarah Vaughan, Pete Townshend, Billy Idol and others, Schaefer has been cantor at Hollywood’s Blessed Sacrament Church for decades. An empowering song about healing and the way our inner light can dispel life’s darkness, it begins as an intimate seduction before introducing dynamic vocal chemistry, building towards a high-energy, vocal dance between the singers – all backed with hip, edgy production textures.    

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Kim Scott - I'm Every Woman
Kim Scott
SHINE!Innervision Records

Fresh off her #1 Billboard charting album FREE TO BE, classical and contemporary jazz flutist extraordinaire and syndicated radio host Kim Scott marks a stellar ten years as a force in Smooth Jazz – and lays an empowering foundation for the 2022 release of her fifth collection, SHINE! – by pairing up with her fellow grooving flute virtuosos Althea Rene and Ragan Whiteside on a wildly adventurous re-imagining of the Chaka Khan anthem “I’m Every Woman.” Over a hip and edgy, discofied groove with buoyant synth, the trio stirs the funky-jazzy magic with intricately intertwined melody lines,  hypnotic improvisational swirls and transcendent three-part harmonies. The track starts as an instrumental but by the end, you’ll be singing that evergreen hook along with the tune's lush vocal harmonies!

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Michael Silverman & Eric Marienthal - In These Times
Michael Silverman & Eric Marienthal
In These TimesAutumn Hill Records

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.

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Neika Simone - Sweet Craving
Neika Simone
Sweet Craving Canis Major Digital

“Sweet Craving,” the sensual, super-romantic debut single by Neika Simone, marks the emergence of a passionate and impactful new female voice (with an amazing Mariah Carey-esque range) on the contemporary jazz scene. The song from her upcoming EP BEAUTIFUL MOMENTS has a fascinating history that reflects power of positive visualization. The North Carolina native originally wrote the music after her first marriage ended. A decade later, when she shared it with Richmond producers Victor Nelson, Jr. and Hannon D. Lane, they developed what she had written and, inspired afresh, she created the melody and wrote lyrics about her ideal qualities in a future mate. Soon after, she met her now husband, who embodied all she dreams of on this sparkling light funk ballad. 

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Spontaneous Groovin' Combustion - All's Well
Spontaneous Groovin' Combustion
All's WellTune 9 Records

In early 2021, Spontaneous Groovin’ Combustion – the intensely funky ensemble led by veteran composer, producer, and saxophonist Warren A. Keller, released their self-titled debut album featuring four previously released hit singles. The first offering from their second album is the supremely uplifting, joyful jam, “All’s Well” – produced by fellow genre hitmaker Blake Aaron, which delivers exactly the hopeful message that our weary ears need to hear. While it’s a total group effort featuring Keller’s always emotional, punch-filled sax playing, and the lively drumming of Tony Moore – the spirited track is a dynamic showcase for guest bassist Brendan Rothwell, who carries the high-octane melodic flow, before engaging in some colorful conversation with Keller, leaving us with the feeling that all is indeed well!

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Will Sumner - Ocean Street
Will Sumner
Ocean StreetTzone Music

From COAST DRIVE to ENDLESS SUMNER and RIDE THE WAVE, the titles and coastal vibes of Will Sumner’s decade-plus string of albums make the versatile composer and electric guitarist the Smooth Jazz equivalent of the Beach Boys. The name of his latest collection OCEAN STREET – also the moniker of his indie label – has a more personal meaning: it’s the locale of his longtime family home near the Ocean in Carlsbad, where his mother lived until she passed away at 96. You can feel Sumner’s heartfelt sentimental passion amidst the lively blasts of sandy musical sunshine and chillaxed grooves. As we party at this inviting destination, Sumner treats us to a flow that’s alternately laid back, playful, tropical and driving.    

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Under The Lake - Old Friends, New Grooves
Under The Lake
Old Friends, New GroovesMind in Overdrive, Inc.

Originally formed in San Diego by keyboardist Jayson Tipp in the early 90s, versatile contemporary jazz fusion vets Under the Lake continue their extraordinary Renaissance of the past few years with the ensemble’s aptly titled OLD FRIENDS, NEW GROOVES. The wildly adventurous, perfect for a high-spirited road trip collection’s rapidly shifting vibes – from R&B to funk to blues to rock to Smooth Jazz – and colorful song titles combine to tell the group’s fascinating experience of living through and making a socially and geographically distanced recording during the pandemic. The old pals – including bassist Nathan Brown, drummer Richard Sellers, guitarist Patrick Yandall and saxophonist/flutist Quintin Gerard W – infuse the set with high octane solo action throughout. This one celebrates three decades of contemporary jazz at its finest!

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Listening Loft : MUST HAVES

Marco Albani - Kallaama
Marco Albani
KallaamaDelta Top

Since launching his solo career in 2006, Rome-born and based composer/acoustic guitarist Marco Albani has shared his expansive global consciousness via demanding works that have fused acoustic jazz with Mediterranean, African, and South American textures and rhythms. The title of his latest collection KALLAAMA – from a Senegalese idiom meaning “language,” specifically the universal language of music – speaks to the ambitious thematic concept and dynamic, polyrhythmic culturally fluid scope of the project. It’s a wildly spirited, multi-lingual affair (English, French and idioms of Italian, Senegalese and Zambian) pairing Albani’s bright guitarisma with featured saxophonist Javier Girotto and renowned international vocalists Frances Alina Ascione, Kaw Sissoko, Andrea Sanchini, Umberto Vitiello, Clea Scala, Carla Cocco and Velka-Sai. Collectively, they fulfill Albani’s vision to celebrate freedom, love, hope, fearlessness, and the overcoming of challenges. 

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Brooke Alford - Shine
Brooke Alford
ShineAlford Enterprises & Entertainment Group, LLC

Known throughout the Smooth Jazz realm as “The Artist of the Violin,” Brooke Alford brings her luminous melodic sweetness, fanciful runs and bursts of exotic percussive energy to her latest single “Shine” – an uplifting tune she wrote as a commitment to hope and optimism in the wake of three recent traumatic family losses. She’s brought that kind of joy to the stage  for nearly 15 years, collaborating with the likes of Bob Baldwin and Marcus Anderson and opening for Najee, Marion Meadows and R&B greats The Whispers and Mint Condition. The daughter of prominent educators, Brooke is also spreading hope via the one-on-one studies program, created in 2020 as a way for students to continue their musical education while school programs were shut down.   

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James Bowman III - Brighter Day Chapter 1
James Bowman III
A Brighter Day Chapter 1jB3 Music, LLC

A true “overcomer” who as a jazz and gospel musician has drummed for the likes of Brian McKnight, Mervyn Warren and Eric Essix, James Bowman III uses his other great gift – his silky, soothing crooner voice – to point us to better times ahead on BRIGHTER DAY, CHAPTER 1, an impactful, deeply spiritual EP which by its very title promises more to come. Drawing on his passions for both genres, he wrote these three tracks as thoughtful reflections in response to the sociopolitical divisions and illness in the world. Bowman’s choice to think and sing positivity offers hope and musical healing. 

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Dee Brown - Deep Secrets
dee Brown
Deep SecretsInnervision Records

Grooving up the Smooth Jazz charts album after album, versatile Detroit-based guitarist Dee Brown’s multi-faceted musical character stems from an intrinsic spirituality that’s unafraid to ask the right questions. Yes, even about the DEEP SECRETS of God, as he passionately explores (in the wake of his mother’s passing) on his funky, soulful, and contemplative new gospel-fired album, co-produced with Grammy-nominated producer Valdez Brantley and featuring guests Lin Rountree, Blair Bryant and Merlon Devine and mixes by Blake Aaron, Darren Rahn and Nate Harasim. Many of the tracks may be inspired by Scripture, but everyone will love his alternately edgy and silky string vibe and the enticing mix of dance floor gems and breezy ballads -  including one of where Brown affectionately name checks his first grandchild!

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Groove55 - Jazzful Spirit
Groove55
Jazzful SpiritLake Tunes

Nearly ten years after first hitting the Smoothjazz.com Top 50 chart, Montreal based R&B-jazz-fusion trio Groove 55 is still going full tilt, infusing their sixth album JAZZFUL SPIRIT with soulfully eclectic grooves, sparkling melodies and high-octane performances by multi-saxophonist and clarinetist Yves Adam, keyboardist Jacques Mignault and guitarist Nicolas Chourout. Beyond showcasing dynamic Canadian guest artists (most notably, vocalists Jojo Dupras and Jean-Claude Béliveau), the joy here lies in the trio’s inimitable sense of adventure, which rolls from pocket funk and sizzling electric rock fusion to a hypnotic ode to Jaco Pastorius and sonically trippy clarinet centered voyages by Adam. 

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James Henry - Watermelon Man
James Henry
Watermelon Man (Radio Mix)Samba Production, LLC

Approaching its 60th Anniversary, “Watermelon Man (Radio Mix)” the iconic Herbie Hancock tune hundreds of jazz greats have recorded and jammed to, finds dynamic, freewheeling new expression in the imaginative and adventurous musical universe of multi-talented, three-time Grammy nominated Bay Area percussionist, producer and film composer James Henry (Hands On Fire Band). The unbridled, exotic joys of the arrangement are rooted in a seductive timbale rhythm by the legendary Pete Escovedo, Bob Crawford’s sparkling Latin kissed piano solo, trilled island-flavored vocal whoops, sizzling horns and chant-along vocals by Henry and the legendary artist/producer Narada Michael Walden. The track offers pure toe tapping, shout out loud freedom.    

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Lowell Hopper - No Turning Back
Lowell Hopper
No Turning Backlowellhopper.com

One of Smooth Jazz’s most prolific artists and consistent chart-topping hitmakers, 20-year Air Force veteran Lowell Hopper has released an incredible 19 albums over the past quarter century. With a forward-leaning title that blissfully promises many more, his latest collection NO TURNING BACK is much more than feel good, deeply-grooving and joyfully melodic jazz. Offering some of his deepest, most compelling expressions ever, this is also a master class in fluid and intricate electric guitar lines and ambient/atmospheric musical mood setting that runs the emotional gamut between late night vibes and dance floor jams.

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JahVelle - Up All Night
JahVelle
Up All NightR&R Productions

Having performed alongside jazz and gospel greats ranging from the late Clark Terry and Kirk Whalum to Marvin Winans, multi-talented Kansas City saxophonist JahVelle continues his quick emergence in Smooth Jazz with “Up All Night,” a sparkling, sensually grooving mid-tempo ballad showcasing his deep sense of romantic soprano expression, passion for horn textures and ability to set the perfect mood. For this fast-rising Tiktok star (with 75,000+ followers) and viral sensation (whose last video scored 1.5 million views), making great sax tracks is merely the foundation of his personal mission as a social influencer that includes public speaking, activism and cultivating what he calls a “soulful new wave in music through love, positivity and empowerment.” 

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Terje Lie - Flow
Terje Lie
FlowTCat Records

From his 2006 debut album TRAVELER through his popular 2019 single “Slow Pacific,” Norwegian-born, longtime Southern California based tenor saxophonist, Terje Lie,  always captures the range of movement in music and life through his titles. He keeps that inspiring “motion” theme going on his latest single “Flow.” Centered around Lie’s sultry sax melody, it’s a silky, jazzy tune with a smooth, strolling vibe that creates the perfect soundtrack for an end of summer slow dance, or reflecting on sunny days gone by. While many of his previous recordings featured collaborations with Grammy winning greats Jeff Lorber and Jimmy Haslip, Lie shines mostly as a one man band here, producing and playing piano, keys and bass while drummer Tony Moore kicks up the irresistible groove.  

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Dee Lucas - The Time Is Now
Dee Lucas
The Time Is NowODL Music

The bio page of Dee Lucas’ website boldly declares “The Rebirth of Smooth Jazz” – and anyone who’s been following the sonically inventive, continuously grooving saxophonist since his emergence in 2004 knows his vibe is always on the cutting edge. That trailblazing streak continues on his latest EP, THE TIME IS NOW, which balances balmy, easy flowing vibes and fiery, high impact pairings with bassist Darryl Williams, pianist George Freeman and guitarists Blake Aaron and David P. Stevens. Helping bring Lucas’ fresh licks and infectious melodies are two of Smooth Jazz’s top producers, Adam Hawley and Lew Laing, Jr. We predict that the time is NOW for Dee Lucas… and once the festivals return, he’ll be in demand!

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Gary Meek - Monterey Groove
Gary Meek
Monterey GrooveAutumn Hill Records

A stylistically powerful showcase for his legendary sax skills (Brian Bromberg, Jeff Lorber, Green Day) and equally impressive keyboard playing, the wide range of emotions Meek generates on his adventurous, fusion-fired album MONTEREY GROOVE, might not have been recorded had it not been for Covid-19. The collection was originally intended to be new material for a developing Monterey Peninsula fusion band with neighbor/guitarist Michael Lent (Barry Manilow, Jeffery Osborne). However, the new ensemble struck charismatic musical gold and then the pandemic hit before their first gig. Luckily for listeners around the world, Meek hit record on the new material! With a career that includes more than 200 recordings and notable collaborations with world-class drummer Dave Weckl and a 20-year stint with Brazilian icons Flora Purim and Airto Moreira, this dynamic collection celebrating Meek’s passion for California’s Central Coast features Flora & Airto, as well as Weckl, local bassist Dennis Murphy and of course Mike Lent.

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Paul Messina - Blue Fire
Paul Messina
Blue FireFunky Paul's Music Publishing

Truly one of the most prolific and stylistically wide-ranging artists to grace Smooth Jazz in recent years, saxophonist/flutist Paul Messina’s latest album BLUE FIRE – his remarkable seventh album (solo, dual or with his band Flashpoint) in seven years – balances fiery, robust fusion/funk energy with sleek and lyrical balladry as he showcases the heartfelt and high-octane possibilities of both lead instruments. Each track prominently features the sizzling electric and soulful acoustic guitar of Tommy Paez - and some have the spacey/trippy synth excursions of Grammy nominee Mike Bogle. The passionately performed set is also yet another beautiful chapter in the 35 years collaboration between Messina and bassist Mark R. Harris, which includes their acclaimed recent projects THE BIGGER PICTURE (2019) and RETURN TO SANITY, released earlier in 2021.   

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Darron Cookie Moore - Let It Brew
Darron Cookie Moore
Let It Brewdarroncookiemoore.com

Wrapping up two dynamic decades of successful contemporary urban jazz indie releases, Detroit-raised bass wizard Darron “Cookie” Moore uses his vibrantly melodic and deeply rhythmic axe on his perfectly titled new album LET IT BREW to find that magical sweet spot between laid back atmospheric cool, sonically intoxicating light funk and high octane, densely percussive Latin and club-ready vibes. The multi-faceted artist - also a force in gospel, has played extensively in church and recorded praise and worship albums. Listen as he stirs up his feel-good, energetic grooves with longtime cohorts and friends, including LaDarrel Johnson (Saxappeal) and guitarist Joe Flav.     

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Steve Oliver - Slingshot
Steve Oliver
SlingshotWide Sky Records

To borrow title concepts from some of Steve Oliver’s most beloved albums, the guitarist’s dynamic swirl of snappy melodic string virtuosity, off the charts voice percussion and spirited vocalese have brought POSITIVE ENERGY, RADIANCE, to ILLUMINATE with stylistic GLOBAL (KISS) consciousness to Smooth Jazz for over 20 years – culminating in UNIFIED, his hit 2020 dual album with Brian Simpson. Oliver’s latest single, the irrepressible “Slingshot” finds Oliver grooving forward masterfully with his trademark, fast rolling exuberance, injecting some much-needed uplifting bursts of summer, with top-down sunshine even as the leaves are turning. The track is classic cheerful Oliver, with a spirited guitar melody, fresh vocals and a fashionable blend of electronics, bass, and drums, mixed and mastered by none other than Euge Groove.   

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James Richter - Catamaran
Jim Richter
CatamaranJamesland Music Management, LLC

A versatile multi-instrumentalist who’s been a rising force in Smooth Jazz since his 2016 debut album SUMMER’S GONE, Jim Richter has mastered numerous genres in bands and on his own over the years – from jazz and blues to rock and classical. Kicking back a bit after the explosive blend of funk, pop, rock jams and blues romps that infused his 2020 album MR. KOOL, Richter’s latest catchy  single “Catamaran” is a breezy, easy flowing showcase for his formidable dual skills as a soul-jazz keyboardist and rock-jazz guitarist. On the main melody, over the tight grooves of drummer Jack Jones, he creates a dreamy duality with Chris Otts’ lyrical soprano sax – which he punctuates in the middle with an emotional e-guitar solo.   

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Knick Smith - Romance
Knick Smith
RomanceKnick Smith

A former “Tonight Show” bandmember who served as Stanley Clarke’s musical director for ten years, keyboardist composer Knick Smith™ brings a multi-faceted Joe Samplesque piano and keyboard vibe to ROMANCE, his dazzling and soulful, stylistically freewheeling Smooth Jazz debut album that follows several traditional jazz projects. Showcasing his fanciful, grooving originals and jazzing up Prince, and Barry White classics, Smith offers up the perfect fusion of lush sensuality, wildly grooving jams, innovative keyboard musings and sparkling improvisations. Along the way, he vibes passionately with several prominent guest artists, including vocalists Jeff Robinson and Lynne Fiddmont and famed percussionist Munyungo Jackson.

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Sonix - Easy Street
Sonix
Easy StreetNucleus Entertainment

Cleverly dubbed Sonix for the bold use of sound effects in his productions, veteran keyboardist/ composer and producer Timothy Rouse  makes a rousing splash in Smooth Jazz with his wildly infectious debut single “Easy Street.” Featuring a punchy trademark Eric Marienthal sax solo, it’s a feisty and furious, horn-drenched jazz-funk jam whose title belies its non-stop freewheeling energy. The President and founder of indie label and production company Nucleus Entertainment, Inc., Sonix has worked with greats from many genres (David Bowie, Barry White, DMC, Maxi Priest, 50 Cent) – and will soon be adding major jazz cats to that list with the upcoming release of his first jazz/funk project LOVE CRUSADE, which features John “JR” Robinson, Paul Jackson, Jr., Rachel Z, Omar Hakim and others.

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Noteworthy Band - Sweet Breeze
The Noteworthy Band
Sweet Breeze thenoteworthyband.com

With the release of “Sweet Breeze,” the infectiously soul-jazzy, slyly funky and steadily rockin’ debut single and title track of the forthcoming full album from Northern California’s The Noteworthy Band, we can confidently add another gem to the list of pandemic musical silver linings. Sidelined from their longtime gig as the house ensemble at the Napa Blue Note, legendary Smooth Jazz bassist Tony Saunders, keyboardist Greg Rahn, guitarist John Wheeler and drummer Steve Trovao got together for some socially distanced jamming and songwriting sessions  - which now leads them to bring their inimitable “Surf to Smooth” vibe, which is the title of their 2nd single, leading them to global Smooth Jazz audience. 

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John William, Flautist - Tomorrow's Yesterday
John William, Flautist
Tomorrow's YesterdayJohn William, Flautist LLC

TOMORROW’S YESTERDAY, the cleverly, philosophically titled second album by veteran Atlanta-based flautist and performer John William, is an exquisite, surprise filled journey that finds the artist and his crew of well-known musicians – including its producer DJ Burn One - impactfully fusing atmospheric tranquility, spirited jazz melodies and harmonies as well as hip, edgy neo-soul and rap/hip-hop energy. Though William’s stated aim is to create a “body of work that represents peace, calm and tranquility” via his flute virtuosity, his seductive grooves are plentiful, whether he’s musing about the fall season, driving fast and slow through his hometown, seducing with a hypnotic jazz lounge flow, evoking mystery or vibrantly blending funk and laid-back vibes. It’s the perfect soundtrack to chill for real!  

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Listening Loft : ESSENTIALS

Brad Alexander - Straight Up
Brad Alexander
Straight UpBCB Entertainment

To borrow the ultra-cool title of Brad Alexander’s new EP, STRAIGHT UP, the veteran musician delivers the grooving and melodic goods, mixing up the joyful funk and sensual romance - starting with the high energy title track which was produced by Adam Hawley and features Donald Hayes on sax. Alexander works his nimble magic by including re-imagined romantic R&B classics from The GAP Band and Freddie Jackson, alongside his fresh, colorful originals. One of his titles slyly acknowledges how long his fans have been waiting for a follow-up. 

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Hank Bilal - Desires
Hank Bilal
DesiresHank Bilal

Bringing a unique solo horn sound to the Smooth Jazz flow, versatile trombonist Hank Bilal – who released his debut album BRASSENTIAL ELEMENTS in 2015 -  engages in his second duet with veteran pianist Marcus Johnson on his latest single “Desires” – a moody, romantic, and reflective ballad that floats Bilal’s sensual melody and Johnson’s understated elegant keys over a lush ambient dreamscape and gentle groove. Bilal, a renowned educator who performed with Aretha Franklin at the Grammys and featured Gerald Albright on his THE BLACK AQUARIUS album, makes a sensually restrained yet bold case for the ‘bone as a mainstream genre instrument.  

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Hank Bilal - A Bona Fide Christmas
Hank Bilal
A Bona Fide ChristmasHankBilalMusic.com

If you’ve already got a lot of saxophone music in your holiday stocking, get your groove on in a whole different way the moody and soulful trombone tones of Hank Bilal’s intimate yet lively, eclectic jam A BONA FIDE CHRISTMAS. Chock full of sexy, re-imagined classics that you mistakenly thought you had heard every possible version of, the collection features Bilal easing from simmering urban jazz to old school swing, hipster hip-hop in duet with fellow horn man Lin Rountree as well as taking things hypnotic, funky and mysterious with flutist Althea Rene.  

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Art Boffi - Guitars-A-Fire
Art Boffi
Guitars A' FireWorld Fusion Revolution

Talk about an artist offering something for everyone! On his perfectly titled debut Smooth Jazz EP GUITARS-A-FIRE, Art Boffi takes an exhilarating, multi-faceted approach to introducing us to his crisp, yet remarkably fluid and often rock/blues driven style on the arch-top. He opens with a lyrical, richly atmospheric take on a classic Whitney Houston ballad, then finds the furious crackling fire on a Chick Corea classic that was originally an expansive meditation. Boffi proves that his string virtuosity matches his compositional skills on the set’s third track, a feisty, high-octane Latin jam that brings the fire promised in the EP title.  

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Leonard Dozier - Christmas Kind Of Way
Leonard Dozier
Christmas Kind Of WayCineplay Productions

In the deeply sensual vocal spirit of one of his top influences Luther Vandross… Actor, voiceover artist and R&B/jazz singer/songwriter Leonard Dozier bookends a year that started with a cozy pandemic-themed duet (featuring Tamira Charone and produced by Chris “Big Dog” Davis) with this gorgeous, original romantic Holiday ballad, “Christmas Kind of Way.” A lush, dreamy tune filled with warm, beautiful images of the season – including everything we love like wrappings under the tree, lighting a fire, falling snow and reindeer. A 2021 Society of Voice Arts and Sciences nominee, Dozier – despite a recent unsuccessful diaphragmatic plication surgery – is currently working on a new album titled RESET. 

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Billy Evans - Colorful Groove
Billy Evans
Colorful GrooveJanish Music

Growing up in the Pentacostal Church, veteran Richmond, VA based pianist, vocalist and composer Billy Evans was exposed to a wide array of rhythms, percussive sounds, vocal improvisations and piano styles – all of which he draws upon to fashion the perfectly titled Smooth Jazz collection, COLORFUL GROOVE, his first full-length recording in ten years. Featuring Evans’ dynamic musicianship and vocal coolness, the uplifting collection is all at once silky, funky, inspirational and romantic. 

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Doug Ferony - I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face
Doug Ferony
I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face Fe Music LLC

Originated by Rex Harrison as a dramatic plot-point song in Lerner & Loewe’s My Fair Lady, “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” has become a much-recorded standard over the years, recorded by hundreds of pop, soul and jazz artists. Nearly three decades into his extraordinary recording career, well-traveled, standard-performing vocalist Doug Ferony draws on the subtle romantic charms of his interpretive artistry – and his lengthy side career as a film actor -  for a lush, balmy, intimate and laid back version featuring Doug Monro’s hypnotic acoustic guitar harmonies and a dreamy, lyrical soprano sax solo by Mike Dopazo. 

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Forecast feat J.S. Floyd - Christmas Day
ForeCast featuring J.S. Floyd
Christmas DayForecast Music

Rebranded as ForeCast feat JS Floyd following their eclectic urban jazz/funk debut CHECK THE FORECAST earlier in 2021, musical siblings Jonathan (guitar) and Stafford (keyboards) Floyd bring their imaginative, vibrantly percussive sonic arsenal to the  grooving and spirit-filled Holiday collection CHRISTMAS DAY. The brothers, who have collectively collaborated with greats from Holland-Dozier-Holland and the Supremes to Jon B. and Al B. Sure, offer the perfect party playlist, keeping the tempo poppin’ (even on songs usually recorded as ballads) on a batch of classics and two fresh originals penned and sung soulfully by Jonathan. Other featured vocalists include Pam Walker and T C Carson. 

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Slim Gambill - Up
Slim Gambill
Up feat Charlton SingletonLudlow St. Records

Multi-genre guitarist, producer, composer, arranger and songwriter, Jason “Slim” Gambill has been lighting up hit songs and stages since 2008 with 7-time, multi-platinum, Grammy-winning country music group Lady A. Yet he’s always been a jazz cat, mesmerized by the possibilities of his instrument since hearing George Benson’s BREEZIN' at 14. While Gambill’s 2020 collection LCD was a high-octane, rock-jazz-fusion project (with one track featuring Mindi Abair), his dynamic new single “Up” is a super-melodic, vintage-tinged, in the pocket delight, aligning perfectly with the infectious vibes of his Smooth Jazz heroes. Charlton Singleton of the Grammy winning Gullah band Ranky Tanky, balances Gambill’s playful, jazzy riffs with his silky smooth flugelhorn.

 

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Ghost Jazz Trio - On The Level
Ghost Jazz Trio
On The LevelGhost Records

The second album from the James Morgan-led Ghost Jazz Trio offers up adventurous, rhythmically multi-faceted, urban funk-jazz meets classic jazz fusion. It’s no surprise to learn that the well-traveled guitarist, composer and producer grew up influenced by Return to Forever and Mahavishnu Orchestra and took lessons from RTF’s Bill Connors. The 2021 San Diego Music Awards nominee – whose lineup includes bassist Nathan Brown and drummer Jack Nathan – does everything from hard-edged rock/funk and hipster trad jazz swing to sensual, laid-back smoothness. San Diego guitar great Patrick Yandall is also on board, adding his trademark crackle and fire. 

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Wayne Gutshall - I Wrapped My Love For Christmas
Wayne Gutshall
I Wrapped My Love For ChristmasSpicy Music LLC

A longtime mainstay on the Miami Latin music scene who has worked with everyone from Arturo Sandoval and Ed Calle to The Four Tops, saxophonist Wayne Gutshall takes a break from the funk and salsa sizzle to create his new original single “I Wrapped My Love for Christmas.” Fashioned as a tenderly romantic duet with singer Wendy Pedersen, the track was inspired by Gutshall’s wife’s passion for watching Christmas movies. Complementing Pedersen’s warm, inviting vocals, the track features an extended lush and sweetly soulful saxophone solo that will help everyone feel the love this holiday season. 

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Karlton Jones - The Answer
Karlton Jones
The AnswerKarlton Jones Music

On several of his earlier Billboard Most Added charting singles, saxophonist Karlton Jones brought a soulful spirituality to the Smooth Jazz realm. With his latest infectious and hypnotic track “The Answer,” the multi-faceted artist – also well known in the gospel world – reminds us of the power of God while innovating stylistically and bringing an edgy yet playful Afro dance hall vibe to the genre. He weaves  his whimsical, lighthearted lead horn melody through a percussive burst of high energy fire produced by beat maestro Big H and mixed/mastered by Dale “Rambro” Ramsey (Ludacris, Justin Timberlake). 

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Didier Labossiere - Soarin'
Didier Labossiere
Soarin'Didier Labossiere

Truly embodying the American dream sought by his Haitian immigrant parents, the Miami saxophonist fully embraces and embodies the title concept of his debut EP, SOARIN’ with a slate of high energy, robustly played melodies, grooves and brass-fired jams. Though Labossiere is new on the Smooth Jazz scene, he brings a vibrant, eclectic history to his emotionally intense solo artistry – including leading his own band, D-Jazz Funk, playing everything from be-bop to tribal funk and spending 17 years (including several as musical director) with one of South Florida’s top R&B ensembles, the Valerie Tyson Band. 

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Kathy Lyon - Nothin' But Love feat Houston Person
Kathy Lyon
Nothin' But Love feat Houston PersonKathyLyonMusic.com

The stellar NOTHIN’ BUT LOVE is a true testament to vocal interpreter extraordinaire Kathy Lyon, who’s keen ability to convey rich emotion and confidence has bolstered her over the course of a 40+ year career. Starting as a duo with her husband Tom in Washington, DC, the jazz singer's previous best known albums are engaging live recordings. While we anxiously await Kathy’s 2022 studio release, this wonderful, latest collection finds her swinging slyly and balladeering passionately on a colorful batch of standards from the Great American Songbook with an ensemble of veteran jazz greats, including producer/saxophonist Houston Person (sounding amazing at 86 years young!), as well as pianist Lafayette Harris Jr., guitarist Peter Hand, bassist Matthew Parrish and drummer Vince Ector. 

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Jody Mayfield - A Jody Jazzy Christmas
Jody Mayfield
A Jody Jazzy Christmas230 South Records

Having amassed a decades long resume that includes performing with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie and Illinois Jacquet to Grover Washington, Jr. and James Lloyd from Pieces Of A Dream, Jody Mayfield believes that jazz isn’t a style of music, but rather, how you play it. On his inviting holiday EP A JODY JAZZY CHRISTMAS, the multi-talented keyboardist blends his remarkable sense of soulful sonic adventure with a warm, familiar intimacy, resulting in fresh, hipster spins through five holiday classics. As caressing atmospheres waft around the tight grooves and lush melodies, Mayfield switches off seamlessly between piano and contemporary keyboard vibes. 

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Mark MIxx - Rydn & Chillaxin
Mark Mixx
Rydn & ChillaxinIsis Style

A powerfully grooving, brass-fired ensemble force on the Detroit music scene for 12 years under the direction of producer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist Mark Mixx. Tha Street Jazz Cartel packs a snazzy, energetic hip-hop/soul-jazz punch on their bright, horn-drenched latest single “Rydn & Chillaxin,” whose dope title matches the flow of the track perfectly. Driven by a snappy, funked-out clap filled groove, the track features the crisp melody of guest trumpeter (and Mixx’s very talented cousin) James Gibbs III, fiery horn textures and a sparkling undercurrent of simmering Fender Rhodes. 

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Len Mizzoni - My Christmas Tree
Len Mizzoni
My Christmas TreeGigi Records

It’s always inspiring when an artist shares an original Holiday song rather than cover a classic – and in the case of “My Christmas Tree,” the poignant, intensely personally R&B/pop flavored  ballad by veteran Canadian jazz-soul singer Len Mizzoni, that increases tenfold when we learn the real life story behind it. Expressed beautifully in his poetic lyrics, the tree in question is being watched over by a new angel, Mizzoni’s granddaughter Gabriella, who passed away just before Christmas last year. Though clearly working through his sorrow, Mizzoni still finds joy in what is his favorite time of year – a truly miraculous and inspiring declaration.  

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Len Mizzoni - Len Mizzoni
Len Mizzoni
Len MizzoniGigi Records

While perhaps for comfort’s sake and to see once again just how creative his re-imaginings can be, longtime fans of romantic soul singer/songwriter Len Mizzoni may start their dig into his delightfully eclectic self-titled new album by immersing in his mesmerizing hipster electronica twists of two Great American Songbook standards. As his Smooth Jazz career has taken off, he’s proven to be a deft, soulful interpreter. Testament to his expansive talents as an emotionally impactful songwriter, however, his deeper, more intimate charms and romantic storytelling brilliance come through even more powerfully on his many originals with his emotive voice and powerful charisma. 

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Randy Muller Boom Chang Bang - Sunnyside Up
Randy Muller Boom Chang Bang
Sunnyside UpPlaza Records/Wavehill

Offering an easy flowing, uplifting burst of optimism with his latest single “Sunnyside Up,” Randy Muller Boom Chang Bang is the latest creative incarnation for the lifelong funkateer, whose groove credibility extends back to the 1970s and includes adding his flute, vocal and keyboard magic to BT Express, Skyy and his own ensembles Brass Construction, Brooklyn Soul Biscuits, Brooklyn Groove Machine, etc. “Sunnyside Up” – the title track to his upcoming album – chills and seduces with guest Larry Marsden’s hypnotic wah guitar melody and Muller’s lyrical flute solo. As an added bonus, it’s part of a unique double A-side single with the nostalgic party jam “Welcome To My Life (Single Mix),” another future album inclusion which showcases even more of Muller’s expressive energy on flute and Fender Rhodes.   

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Melton Mustafa Jr. - Mosaic Love
Melton Mustafa Jr.
Mosaic LoveMelton Mustafa Jr.

Saxophonist Melton Mustafa Jr. brings a unique and extensive musical background to his funky and soulfully robust Smooth Jazz debut single, the uplifting gospel influenced anthem “Mosaic Love.” The son of a renowned trumpeter who played with the Count Basie and Duke Ellington orchestras, Mustafa is a two-time Grammy nominated educator who’s performed with  the Ray Charles Band and festivals with Boney James and LL Cool J. The track features Mustafa blending his silky, emotional sax melody with a rousing vocal choir singing about the power of love, feeling victorious and looking forward to brighter days ahead.  

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Demetrius Nabors - Perserverance
Demetrius Nabors
PerseveranceKolorful

A vibrant, multi-faceted instrumental and vocal reflection of personal and collective turbulence and trauma of 2020, Demetrius Nabors’ latest album PERSEVERANCE started with a prayer – which led the veteran pianist, composer and producer to weave his bright infectious melodies, spirited piano and synth licks along with deep emotional grooves that swing from dreamy, seductive ballads to slammin’ celebratory soul jazz fusion. The two-time Detroit Music Award winner – who has produced hits for KEM, Althea Rene, Tim Bowman and Willie Bradley – is also known as “Krayon,” and he elevates his colorful blend with special guests like Rene and saxophonist Randy Scott.  

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Nai Sounds - Can't Deal
Nai Sounds
Can't DealZaki Publishing Media & Entertainment Group

Bringing some of the most inviting, soulful and sultry vocals to Smooth Jazz since Maysa, emerging South Florida singer Nai Sounds creates a great personal intro to her dreamy-cool energy on her Facebook artist page: “20 something, jazz bred, the performing arts, love, peace, soul, vibes…” The most unique aspect of her intoxicating debut single “Can’t Deal” is the contrast between the lyrics about a troubled relationship and the seductive, richly atmospheric sway of the music. Helping her bring out the deep emotion of the tune – and adding his subtle smoky sax harmonies and solo to the mix – is the song’s co-writer and producer, two-time Grammy nominated educator Melton Mustafa, Jr. Get into the easy-flowing groove and let Nai Sounds carry you away!

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Stephen Rothhaar - God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Stephen Rothhaar
God Rest Ye Merry GentlemenStephenRothhaar.com

Young opera singer, Stephen Rothhaar made a pivot in 2018 and remixed his musical calling to include pop, R&B and jazz influences and ended up with the chart-topping Smooth Jazz release, MOMENTS, that crossed over to several format landscapes and ended up on prestigious playlists all over the world. Returning for a seasonal second round with elite Grammy-nominated producer Nate Harasim, Rothhaar spins his vocal magic on a cinematic pop rendering of  “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” featuring a smooth mash-up with "Carol of the Bells" and “Joy to the World.” Spirited, soulful, seductive. Ideal as a soundtrack segment for the hit TV show, The Blacklist, should they ever shoot a holiday episode.

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James 'PJ' Spraggins - Up From Here
James 'PJ' Spraggins
Up From Herejamespjspraggins.com

When we play James “PJ” Spraggins’ latest single “Up From Here” on Spotify, we’re treated to accompanying video imagery of a large plane taking off and flying along a coastline. That’s exactly the soaring feeling the veteran drummer/composer/producer – who has skinned with several Smooth Jazz artists, including Kim Scott – conveys on this soulful, wild-hearted and exuberantly funky 2-song EP. While keeping the dynamic groove hopping, he leaves the sparkling melodic graces that drive the title track and current single to two contemporary jazz masters, keyboardist Greg Manning and guitarist Eric Essix, whose fiery solo lifts the song into a smooth rockin’ stratosphere!

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Sun on a Beach Smooth Orchestra - Whispering Trees
Sun on a Beach Smooth Orchestra
Whispering TreesFlemsten & Starck Music

A tightly rhythmic, dreamily atmospheric yet rambunctious and improvisational piano and synth driven fusion track, “Whispering Trees” caps an incredible year (including a debut EP and four previous singles) for the Stockholm-based Sun on a Beach Smooth Orchestra collective. It was released on the heels of the ensemble’s punchy and playful funk single “Summer Adventure,” which reflects their lighthearted side and features a passionate melody by saxophonist Wojtek Goral, who has recorded with superstars like The Weeknd, Justin Timberlake, Elton John and others. The orchestra pulls off the rare feat of having each song convey a unique vibe with a different featured soloist. 

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Threestyle - Perfect Combination
Threestyle feat Magdalena Chovancova & Robert Fertl
Perfect CombinationWeLoveMusicRecords

One of Smooth Jazz’s hippest Euro imports call themselves Threestyle, but the veteran multiple award winning, #1 Billboard charting group’s groovy and hard rockin’ yet soulfully sultry urban jazz flow comes from the ongoing, ever more spontaneous, and adventurous vision of founding trio, Bavarian guitarist Robert Fertl and Czech Republic born featured saxophonist Magdalena Chovancova, and her twin Gabriela (drums). Launching with gusto into their second decade of hit making, their latest sensual and super-charged gem PERFECT COMBINATION lives up to its title with a freewheeling, funk based yet often uber-romantic flow featuring R&B flavored guest vocals from Damon Dae, Tim Owens, Latonya Black and So Cal faves DW3.  

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