- Mariea Antoinette
- All My Strings
- Infinity Productions
- Dan Beck Band
- Pride And Arrogance
- Thierry Condor
- City Nights
- NiRo Sounds
- Eric Darius
- Breakin' Thru
- SagiDarius Music
- Keith Fiala
- Summer Oasis
- Jazz Holdouts
- Summer Nights
- Palm Beach Jazz
- Chadwick Johnson
- Stormy Love
- Brandon Lane
- Dee Lucas
- Going Left
- ODL Music
- Sly Moore
- The Sweetest Thing
- Jambeat/BeanBag1 Entertainment
- Jeanne Newhall
- Cranes Among Clouds
- Marzipan Records
- Stephen Rothhaar
- Jennifer Saran
- Smoky Nights
- Tarpan Records
- Frank Sutton
- Rain The Experience
- Nu Groove Jazz
- The Groove Project
- Narked Records
Listening Loft : HOTPICKS
Greg Carmichael, founding member of seminal guitar driven contemporary jazz ensemble Acoustic Alchemy, is a true survivor. He regrouped after the passing of band co-founder Nick Webb 20 years ago, and now, with longtime partner Miles Gilderdale, creates some of the group’s most compelling and diverse music ever on 33 1/3, the title reflecting on the band’s age. Recorded in the wake of Carmichael’s wife experiencing a life-threatening bout with meningitis and the loss of their long-time friend and manager, Steward Coxhead. The first studio album in seven years is a collection that darts by design, across a stylistic map from the assertive world-fusion fun on the opening track, “East of Babylon” to an exhilarating nod to fallen guitar hero, Chuck Loeb with “Carmen’s Man.” In addition, it includes a Steely Dan-esque pop/blues tribute to Walter Becker, “Blues For Mr. Mu,” while the album also brushes on Latin, classical and contemporary sonic realms, it also includes a full band collaboration “The Girl With A Plan,” a title inspired by global radio pioneer and decades long companion, Sandy Shore. With a fresh, new energy, their trademark melodic chemistry created by an alchemy of nylon and steel guitars shines brightly through.
In addition to playing for the Obamas, performing with Ne-Yo, working with orchestras and touring Africa, Marie Antoinette is quickly making the mystical sound of the harp a dynamic lead instrument in Smooth Jazz. Two decades after “That Thing” won two Grammys for Lauryn Hill, the jazz/funk performer – currently a touring member of the all-female ensemble Jazz in Pink - takes the enigmatic artist’s socially conscious doo wop/hip hop anthem to a fresh and transcendent, urban jazz meets classical level. From her forthcoming album, ALL MY STRINGS, Mariea swirls her dreamy, stringed melodies around the tune’s trademark synth riff, and artfully builds towards a soaring interaction with a hypnotic string ensemble. It’s a timeless tune about equality, self-awareness and self-value, with a message as essential now as it was 20 years ago!
A fresh, powerfully soulful presence on the Smooth Jazz scene, physician by day, soul singer by night Candace Bellamy’s new EP, the gorgeously produced THIS FEELING, indeed feels like a heartfelt revelation. In only three tracks, she artfully portrays the bleakness of heartbreak, the wonderful promise of a lifelong love and, via a breezy reworking of a Roberta Flack classic, the sensual intensity of love in full bloom. In 2018, she had the opportunity to portray the legendary soul singer in a production of “The Voices of Donny Hathaway” in her adopted hometown of Austin, TX. Broadwayworld.com called her performance “a stellar turn as Roberta Flack.” Allow yourself to feel THIS FEELING, and you’ll feel exactly as we do about Candace!
Because it’s all we need... because it’s the answer and because it never fails. These are only but a few of the reasons why our favorite songbird, Grammy nominated vocalist Sylvia Bennett, wishes us Love on her latest outing of recorded musical bliss! I WISH YOU LOVE is simmering to the brim with delicious contemporary musical treats. Dipping into her collection of favorites from the classic songs that she’s romanced over the years in several languages; this intentional album of love songs blazes a new trail for our tireless, crooning crusader... the lusciously arranged set by longtime producing partner, Hal S. Batt, is all in English and features some amazing special guests including the one and only bass master, Nathan East on an impeccable cover of “Its Impossible” and Chart-topping Smooth Jazz trumpeter Rick Braun on a highly enjoyable run of “C’est Si Bon,” or as we like to call it, “C’est Si Braun.” Really it’s all you need to get by. Love that is… and this wonderful assortment of love songs falls into that category as well. Find out for yourself!
Closing in on 40 solo recordings, Smooth Jazz elder statesman and three-time Grammy nominated pianist/composer David Benoit has been setting standards in the genre since the late 80’s. He’s recorded phenomenal collaborative albums before – most notably, with Russ Freeman, Jane Monheit and Marc Antoine – but takes the concept to an empowering new level on DAVID BENOIT AND FRIENDS, a righteous return to his GRP days vibe. Dazzling from track to track, featuring everything from Bossa to blues, Latin to trad jazz and pop (including covers of smashes by Portugal The Man and Coldplay). Often with symphonic flair, Benoit draws on an cool array of inspirations (including Dave Grusin, Kenny Burrell, and crime novelist Dean Koontz) and has a blast jamming with Antoine, Dave Koz, Peter White, Tim Weisberg, Rick Braun, Vincent Ingala and vocalist Lindsey Webster.
One of Smooth Jazz’s most innovative and popular hitmakers as both artist and producer, trumpet and flugelhorn great Rick Braun springs into his second quarter century with CROSSROADS, an eclectic collection showcasing the multitude of styles he loves. Ensembling with a crew of longtime collaborators (Philippe Saisse, Richard Elliot, Peter White) and for the first time with funky studio legends Greg Phillinganes, Michael Thompson and Gregg Bissonette), Braun dives deep into contemporary pop, old school dance/funk, bossa nova, Americana, Latin jazz and other tasty styles. Braun reflects his joy as a family man with a thoughtful tribute to his maternal grandparents, a vibrant jam dedicated to his daughter Emma and tapping his son Kyle create a lush keyboard intro to a cool re-imagining of a recent Bruno Mars hit.
A spiritually grounded husband and wife duo that recognizes music as a universal healer, Maryland based Butch & Rhonda Coleman create a fascinating dual sound around the plucky thump of his bass and her versatility as a sultry pop/R&B singer and jazz keyboardist. The title of their third album MOMENT OF YOUR TIME doubles as an invitation to get to know them and their deft blend of old school soul-jazz, breezy and heartfelt balladry and buoyant urban-flavored Smooth Jazz. Adept at creating a variety of moods, the Colemans like to say that their music tells a story. Here, that’s paying homage to past influences like Bill Withers while making sure we’re hip to their eclectic, very contemporary sexy, funky flow.
One of the edgiest, innovative and explosive performers in the sweet spot where Smooth Jazz meets contemporary R&B, saxophonist Eric Darius breaks new ground by launching his own label (SagiDarius Music) for his perfectly titled new album BREAKIN’ THRU. With two Top Ten Billboard singles in the mix, the collection hits on all cylinders, from slammin’ funk sizzle to power ballads and a blistering Latin fire. Ensuring a continuously crackling urban crossover flow, the multi-faceted collection was co-produced by Darius and two of today’s hottest R&B sound masters, Rodney Jones Jr. (Chris Brown, Mary Mary, Mary J. Blige) and Butta N’ Bizkit (John Legend, Ne-Yo, Miguel, Ledisi). In addition to a gorgeous track with Brian Culbertson, Darius includes poppin’ vocal features by two next-gen R&B hipsters MAJOR and Ollie Gabriel.
A decade after first dazzling the Smooth Jazz world with their combined talents on the hit debut ALWAYS… Bay Area married couple George and Tracy Franklin – collectively known as GTF, a powerhouse ensemble, deliver an intoxicating mix of soul-sensual ballads and tight urban jazz with an edgy funk twist on their chart-dominating, sophomore release, CROSS PATHS. Iconic jazz great Bob James joins in on the fun and exuberance... While the deeper joys emerge from George’s lush bass lead and vocal stylings, Tracy’s background vocals and the explosive energy of band members, drummer Ron Otis (Earl Klugh, Kem, Aretha Franklin), percussionist Juan Escovedo (of the legendary Escovedo family) as well as GTFers John Rekevics, Richard “Blitz” Livoni and John Cain.
Saxophonist Wayne Gutshall’s perfectly titled debut album SPICY! is a joyous reflection of the many years he’s spent immersed in Miami’s Latin pop and jazz scenes – which includes work with greats like Nestor Torres, Dave Valentin, Arturo Sandoval and an appearance on Ed Calle’s Latin Grammy winning album MAMBLUE. While he showcases these influences via an artful balance of high energy exotica and balmy sensuality, the Latin vibe is simply the launching point for a stylistically eclectic collection that includes jazz fusion, gritty blues, stylish tributes to Gato Barbieri and Miles Davis and engaging twists on pop classics by Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie. Playfully jumping genres from track to track, Wayne Gutshall delivers a fashionable collection with a lot of Miami spice!
Anyone who's ever obsessed over doubts about a prospective romantic partner's true feelings or intentions will immediately connect with emerging indie singer/songwriter and pianist M'Lynn's new single "Paralyzed." An instantly infectious follow-up to her sultry debut track "T.F.I.L.," the hypnotic song's lyrics may be about a feeling of being helpless, but its seductive grooves, cool atmospheres, subtle horn textures and brief bass and guitar solos flow free and easy. Currently enrolled in the Bruce Hornsby Creative American Music songwriter program at the Frost School of Music in Miami, the Dallas born performer is a fresh new talent in the subtle jazz-soul vein of Sade and Norah Jones, yet with a mystical and ethereal vibe all her own.
After recording sensual bossa nova versions of Beatles and Michael Jackson for producers in Brazil and Japan, Brazilian singer Lulu Joppert had a brilliant idea. Joining forces with pianist Marcos Ariel and arranger/multi-instrumentalist Marco Antonio Santos, she formed the cleverly titled trio Pop’n Bossa to create sophisticated bossa re-imaginings of hits by contemporary pop singers. First on the trio’s list is Bruno Mars, and they work their dazzling 24K magic on five of his most notable tunes on their infectious, percussively exotic, self-titled debut. In addition to presenting colorful twists and uncovering new emotions stirring in tunes we thought we knew, the EP is also an exciting showcase for Joppert’s alternately sultry and soaring vocals and Ariel’s adventurous ivory playing.
Bringing deep R&B inspired passion to the sax and masterful/improvisational energy to the flute, Nelson Rangell has been one of Smooth Jazz’s most dynamic and versatile reed players over the past 30 years. Launching eloquently and emphatically into his fourth decade, the multi-talented composer/musician’s latest album BY LIGHT finds him exploring some fresh and exciting creative concepts. True to its title, the collection balances bright, instantly engaging melodies and optimism with intensely muscular, deeply emotional playing. Beyond the edgy, sax driven, mostly up-tempo pop, funk and soul melodies and horn textures, Rangell shares his deeper artistry on several flute centered pieces that showcase his stunning virtuosity and otherworldly improvisational abilities on that instrument.
Since graduating from Ithaca College of Music in 2018 with a degree in voice (Opera believe it or not), ultra-hip pop, R&B and jazz influenced, Pittsburgh based singer/songwriter Stephen Rothhaar has been unstoppable. He follows his indie-acoustic EP HUMANS with the engaging, pure pop, ultra-danceable debut full length album MOMENTS. Helping take Rothhaar’s spirited soul sensibilities and instincts for creating infectious light pop gems to the next level is producer Nate Harasim, who fashions a slick, multi-faceted sonic landscape full of lightly funk contemporary beats, bright jazzy guitar jangle and a sensual seductive flow. In addition to showcasing Rothhaar’s multi-faceted artistry, the album includes impressive guest spots by globally acclaimed bassist Nathan East, chart-topping contemporary jazz guitarist Nils, vocalist Monica Notaro and the popular Detroit-based rapper K-Squeez.
Canadian bassist Brendan Rothwell traces his love of the instrument and its intense soul possibilities to hearing the legendary Marcus Miller play on Miles Davis’ 80’s classic TUTU. On the heels of a debut that charted both in the U.S and Canada, his latest album SENTIMENT, is an eclectic, deeply rhythmic sonic experience. He includes several picture perfect, frothy funk, Smooth Jazz tracks, but the collection’s deeper pleasures expand the emotional palette into neo-soul, jazz fusion and even ambient territory. Reminiscent of the most genre-transcendent works of Miller, Brian Bromberg and Stanley Clarke, these songs are meditative masterpieces, taking him to contemplative realms of expression rich with mood and immersive atmospheres.
Reflective of its title and the individual themes driving its soulful, engaging tracks, Sam Rucker’s emotionally compelling. The versatile Virginia-based saxophonist uses bright melodies, tight grooves and the occasional uplifting, gospel flavored female vocals to enhance the musical praise, and to count the blessings that saw the artist through the dark times. While Rucker’s previous works were infused with inspirational messages, his shift from featuring top guest stars on his previous album TELL YOU SOMETHING (Norman Connors, Bobby Lyle, Euge Groove) to carrying the emotional passion himself is indicative of the many emotional and creative breakthroughs he’s made over the past five years. REDEMPTION is as divinely inspired as Smooth Jazz gets!
An integral member of the all-female ensemble Jazz in Pink, Kim Scott has been one of a handful of visionary artists making Smooth Jazz delightfully flute-friendly since her debut album CROSSING OVER in 2011. After a three-year recording hiatus, the Alabama-based performer is back in action on FREE TO BE, a multi-faceted album balancing her tight, infectiously grooving pop/urban jazz flow with other tracks that showcase her formidably soulful vocals and textured, more nuanced jazz flute expressions. As you listen, you’ll get the sense that her album title is truly her musical philosophy. In addition to an emotionally intense classic ballad duet on "The Prayer" with gospel-jazz saxophonist Cameron Ross, Scott vibes magnificently with all-star guests Jazmin Ghent, James Lloyd and on a Billboard #1 hit with Jonathan Fritzen.
Listening Loft : MUST HAVES
Following her acclaimed single and video for “Thoughts and Prayers,” a socially conscious song about gun violence, Rebecca Angel celebrates the optimistic start of the current season with her latest track, the lighthearted and breezy “Summer Song.” Produced by Jason Miles (who adds his inimitable old school keys) and featuring guitarist Jonah Pendergast and saxophonist Gottfried Stoger, the bossa nova inspired tune – which includes a charming vocalese hook – doubles as an introspective look back at Angel’s own life and a subtle anthem for girls of her generation to stay confident in who they are.
Freeing himself from a corporate job in organic produce, Salinas based guitarist, singer/songwriter Dan Beck followed his passion for musical journaling to create the truly organic sounding, stylistically eclectic Dan Beck Band. On their latest album PRIDE & ARROGANCE, Beck and his guitar, sax and violin driven ensemble engage in a playfully strutting swirl of jazz, rock, blues and Latin vibes that he collectively calls “Blue Jazz.” Creating soulful, enticing conversations, the group weaves its colorful tales via a mix of swinging instrumentals and coolly seductive, thought provoking vocals.
Colorful, uplifting, steady grooving and wildly inspiring, singer/songwriter James Bowman III’s latest album THINGS ON MY MIND offers a seamless merging of gospel energy, sacred reverence and urban oriented Smooth Jazz. Having played with Brian McKnight and Mervyn Warren and opened for everyone from Edwin Hawkins, Kirk Franklin and Bebe and CeCe Winans, the multi-talented artist and seductive vocalist has plenty to communicate about - the Lord, marriage, family and relationship. Led by a spiritual lyrical reworking of an Earth, Wind & Fire classic, the collection offers a positive overall message to combat the harsh discourse occurring in the world today.
Turning a onetime clever album title into the name of his high energy ensemble, Dr. Dave & The Housecall Band work major musical healing miracles on their latest album MIDNIGHT DAYDREAM. With a sizzling swirl of pop, R&B, traditional and contemporary jazz, topped off with tasty touches of Latin, blues and swing, Dr. Dave embraces the freedom to improvise more than ever before and tackle jazz classics and a popular TV theme in addition to a slate of ultra-infectious originals. Two new singles out this year from Dr. Dave's coolest collection yet, on the heels of his chart-topping “Sexy Cindy,” (named for Cindy Sanchez Medina, Miss Santander, Colombia 2018), expect the tropical jazz of "Cabo Time" and the sensual title track, "Midnight Daydream" to saunter up the Smooth Jazz charts as well.
The title of Lowell Hopper’s new album says it all. When the Panama City, Florida guitarist and Smooth Jazz favorite plays, there’s always MAGIC IN THE AIR! Musical trends may come and go, but Hopper – a 20-year Air Force veteran - has been keepin’ it real and consistent for over 25 years with tight, infectious melodies, spirited light funk grooves and crisp, fluid lines that hit the heart with soulful sensuality every time out. On the new album, he adds touches of simmering blues, exotic percussion and tasty island vibes to his ever-adventurous repertoire.
Truly the Smooth Jazz equivalent of pop super group Toto, Jazz Holdouts is a dynamic collective of studio greats with all-star pop, R&B and jazz resumes, featuring the simmering light funk energy of Alan Palanker (keys), Lou Cortelezzi (sax), Michael Thompson (guitar) and John Sieglar (bass). Their cool, yet high spirited full length album, SUMMER NIGHTS is driven by tight, funky, old school soul-jazz meets chill music. The album follows the group’s three groundbreaking Billboard hit singles, including the #1 song that is now the title track. Palanker and Cortelezzi sparkle trading off lead melody lines throughout.
A fascinating, diverse musical citizen of the world, guitarist/composer Reza Khan brings a wealth of progressive jazz and global fusion influences and sensibilities to NEXT TRAIN HOME. Featuring everything from dreamy funk and percussive, multi-cultural exchanges to fiery electric jazz fusion, the festive, extraordinarily intricate album was composed primarily in hotel rooms throughout Africa, where Khan traveled as part of his amazing “day job” as program manager for the United Nations. Khan’s essential tracks featuring Pat Metheny’s longtime bassist Mark Egan are enhanced by the colorful sound design of Philippe Saisse, along with dynamic contributions by Andy Snitzer, Jeff Kashiwa and Nils.
Inventive Seoul-born guitarist Jack Lee may be relatively new to Smooth Jazz, but he’s been recording for nearly 30 years, and has been jazz fusion sensation in his native South Korea and ensembled with countless American jazz legends for decades. His latest album, the sensuous yet grooving and lightly exotic LA HABANA, showcases Lee’s fluid melodic lines and eclectic grooves in action-packed ensemble mode with greats like Nathan East, Steve Ferrone, Michael Thompson and Grammy-winning drummer Antonio Sanchez. True to his international status and the album’s travel theme, Lee incorporates tinges of Latin, blues, reggae and other musical colors into his infectious mix, recorded in Havana, L.A., Tokyo and Mexico.
The quintessential cool and laid-back California song, “Slow Pacific” finds Norwegian-born, Southern Cali saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Terje Lie reflecting passionately on his love for the West Coast lifestyle and a calm day gazing out at the ocean. After several hit recordings collaborating with Grammy winners Jeff Lorber and Jimmy Haslip, Lie marks his dynamic emergence here as the producer of his own music. On this seductive track, he leads the tight ensemble of Alex Al (bass), Tony Moore (drums) and Joey De Leon (percussion), while showcasing his own exciting talents on the keyboards and piano.
INCA, the fascinating debut album by LR-60 (aka veteran trumpeter Skip Warren) and electronic artist Qero (Michael Beaumont), brings a highly original, sonically trippy and transcendent vibe some describe as “organic psychedelica” to the Smooth landscape. There are Latin rhythms, pocket grooves, throbbing beats and dreamy ambiences, yet the deeper flow and intricate, percussive tapestry of their trance-inducing, hypnotic exotica tap into Inca spiritual traditions and the colorful, expressive cultures of Mexico, Central and South America. Warren started his career touring for ten years with legendary bluesman Bobby “Blue” Bland – and these influences add depth and texture throughout.
Veteran guitarist, producer and composer Torcuato Mariano was born in Argentina but has been living in Brazil, working with many of its top jazz musicians since the late 70s. He celebrates 25 years as a recording artist with ESCOLA BRASILEIRA – literally “Brazilian School” - a dynamically textured, rhythmically eclectic romp through a multitude of that culture’s sophisticated and exotic jazz-related styles. Backed by lush strings and horns, Mariano surrounds his snappy playing with guest performances by Brazilian greats, singer-songwriter Djavan, pianist Cesar Camargo Mariano, bandolinist Hamilton de Holanda and harmonica player Gabriel Grossi. Also featured is renowned American vocalist Toni Scruggs.
A onetime member of the orchestras of Glenn Miller and Harry James, saxophonist Gary Meggs calls the release of his latest album LIFE’S LITTLE CHANGES a “lifelong dream, a chance to help place my own footprint in the Smooth Jazz scene,” inspired by the West Coast Jazz of the 80’s and 90’s. Collaborating with rock/fusion guitarist Bryan Jeffries, who produced the collection, Meggs’ brings a bold and brash horn energy to an exciting, stylistically eclectic collection that includes spirited Latin influences, innovative arrangements of pop standards and re-imagined versions (complete with new titles) of a gospel and seasonal classics.
Considering his embrace of fresh opportunities as a solo artist, classically trained, jazz/R&B influenced saxophonist Gary Metz chose the perfect title for his knockout debut OPEN SKIES. His hundreds of gigs as a session player have earned him a range of A-listers excited to contribute to his uniquely diverse sonic landscape. Helping bring his cool and sensual ballads and tight, edgy funk delights to life are, among others, Jimmy Haslip, Greg Manning, Adam Hawley, Darryl Williams, Tony Moore, Lee Thornburg and producer Mike Parlett, who has worked with Norman Brown, Peter White, Jeffrey Osborne and many others.
For legendary bassist Byron Miller, “Psychobass” is more than a clever branding idea reflective of his lifelong passion for his instrument. It’s his full-on “a.k.a.” identity. His rhythmically eclectic, jump off your chair grooving new album THE GIFT: PSYCHOBASS 2 picks up where his 2015 long awaited return to action PSYCHOBASS left off. He keeps the deeply personal autobiography hopping with a sensual George Duke cover, some island fun and a mix of high octane and chill, Duke-inspired originals with appropriate funk and groove related titles. On hand to celebrate the bassist’s many gifts are Kirk Whalum, Paul Jackson, Jr., Walter Beasley, Munyungo Jackson and others.
Classically trained singer, songwriter and pianist Jeanne Newhall celebrates her 30th anniversary as a recording artist with CRANES AMONG CLOUDS, an emotionally moving, profoundly spiritual and deeply intimate and personal set that includes five heartfelt originals (four vocals, one instrumental) and an exquisite, soft-spoken cover of a Paul Simon classic. Inspired by her profound creative connection with Japanese guitarist, Kazunori Koga, who complements her lush piano with his graceful, lilting guitar. "Kazunori and I have the rare gift of a highly intuitive musical sense,” Newhall explains. Acclaimed violinist Charlie Bisharat contributes additional inspiring strings to the project. Jeanne soulfully blends her classical, jazz and pop influences with a theme rooted in the Asian symbolism of the crane as the six songs fit together like pieces of a puzzle.
Phaze II’s fifth and latest album boasts the clever title NO COVER CHARGE, but their kind of finely honed, supremely cool eclectic magic is worth any price! Now well into their third decade lighting the jazz, funk, Latin and R&B fires in their hometown of Washington, DC, the six-piece super-ensemble Phaze II – onetime winners of the Capital Jazz Challenge Competition - alternates their flow between silky, seductive cool, fiery, wild energy storms and infectious, easy grooving mid-tempo tunes. They balance their more muscular, rocking offerings with dreamier pieces clearly and designed to melt the heart.
With a sparkling saxophone vibe that’s been lighting up the Pacific Northwest for years, Kenney Polson – who’s appeared on TV with greats like David Sanborn and Wynton Marsalis - has blended Smooth Jazz with a wide variety of influences, including Latin, classical, R&B/funk and gospel. True to its title FOR LOVERS ONLY, Polson’s latest recording finds him creating a tight, soulful ensemble with members of Tower of Power, Kool & the Gang and Parliament, among others. Soothing, romantic and lyrical, the album builds an easy groove with new compositions and satisfying classics.
Pooling the talents and expansive pop/R&B/gospel resumes of guitarist Vernon “Ice” Black, bassist Tony Saunders and keyboardist Sylvester Burks, the Rainforest Band is a hard grooving and sensually soulful ensemble whose debut album PEACE TO THE PLANET reflects a deeper environmentally conscious mission. The inspiration behind the blues, rock, jazz and funk vibes by these three and guest stars like Jeff Ryan and Gail Jhonson takes us back to 1990’s original Rainforest Band formed by Tony’s dad Merl Saunders and Jerry Garcia. The message is even more urgent now, and it’s exciting to hear the legacy kept alive so vibrantly.
Getting back to making music full time after years where other priorities took precedence, guitarist, keyboardist and composer Jim Richter taps back into his rock/blues roots with a mix of deep soulfulness, playful buoyancy and fiery intensity on his new album BREEZY DAY. Hitting all the infectious yet artsy-cool sweet spots of Steely Dan and Larry Carlton, he offers dreamy ballads, funk jams, island delights and bluesy grit – in addition to playful titles that pay homage to Bill Evans and Weather Report.
Time waits for no man… however Paolo Rustichelli’s innovative sound ensures that his music will live on forever! The Roman artist’s unique signature sound has inspired a generation of Chillout enthusiasts who use the modern, electronic grooves to decompress and unwind. Known for his pioneering of the electro chill jazz genre, Paolo returns with the 2nd single from his forthcoming 2020 album TEMPUS FUGIT. “Hypnofunk” oozes with retro cool grooves with a nod to the 1970’s psychedelic era, when this composer was in his teens and already scoring movies with only a piano and the first prototype of a monophonic Moog. With many noteworthy fans, including musical colleagues Carlos Santana and Miles Davis, Paolo recalls a dinner with Federico Fellini where he and the famous director were discussing UFOs as Fellini drew extraterrestrial images on a napkin, inspiring “Hypnofunk” decades later!
When you grow up, as Tony Saunders did, with godparents like Wynton Kelly and Jimmy Smith, relentless jazz funk becomes part of your DNA. The two-time Emmy winning veteran bassist, composer, arranger and producer – son of legendary Bay Area keyboardist Merl Saunders - brings the goods on his sizzling, amped up re-imagining of The Whispers’ late 1980s #1 R&B jam “Rock Steady.” Vibin’ powerfully with guitarist Nils and weaving in and around dynamic horn section energy, Saunders whets our whistle for the old school and contemporary fusion he’s bringing to his upcoming album SEXY SOMETHIN’.
Spontaneous Groovin’ Combustion isn’t just a clever name – it’s the high octane, groove intensive mission statement of veteran saxophonist/flutist, composer, and producer Warren Keller and his powerhouse all-star guest ensemble of Jeff Lorber, Alex Al, Dwight Sills and Michael White. The group’s latest single “Spy vs Spy” is a frolicsome, horn-spiced old school ode to the great TV spy themes of yesteryear, featuring killer solos by Keller (on sax), Sills, and Lorber and dynamic interaction with all the cats throughout. A true throwback to great 70s soul-fusion bands with a contemporary twist, Spontaneous Groovin’ Combustion is currently working on their upcoming debut EP.
Italian born saxophonist Rocco Ventrella launched his career in 2005 with a well-received tribute to Grover Washington, Jr. and has ingratiated himself into the Smooth Jazz community since with a silky vibe and funky flow that honors the master. True to its title, his stellar new EP COLORS offers a fresh mix featuring breezy groovin’, soul/funk, sensual mid-tempo balladry, raw and bluesy old school fusion and a majestic blues-rock flavored cover of a Bob Dylan classic. In addition to grooves provided by guest bassists Roberto Vally and Darryl Williams, the collection also potlights an exciting vocal talent in Emanuel “Ghani”.
Listening Loft : ESSENTIALS
The Allen Carman Project’s cleverly titled CARMANOLOGY is what happens when a lifelong musician hooks up with masters of his chosen genre and creates an extraordinary recording chock-full of innovative sounds, infectious melodies, explosive grooves and irresistible radio hits. With a rhythmic and melodic foundation laid by Carman on bass, keyboardist Philippe Saisse, percussionist Gumbi Ortiz and drummer Luis Alicea (all vets of fusion legend Al Di Meola’s band), CARMANOLOGY is an expansive playground for spirited contributions by Andy Snitzer, Marc Antoine, Rick Braun, funk legend Nile Rodgers and violinist Evan Garr.
After sharing stages with greats like Ramsey Lewis, Herbie Hancock, George Benson and Gerald Albright, the Richmond, Virginia based composer/keyboardist called Chan leaps into the Smooth Jazz spotlight with his hip and intimate third album EnCHANtment. Though the title is intended as a cool riff on his name, it’s also reflective of the warm, romantic and often exhilarating feeling listeners will get when they hear his spirited melodies, laid back grooves, inventive improvisations and dynamic production values.
On his silky, sensual and super-infectious, latest single “Beautiful Day,” saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Walter Chancellor, Jr. reminds us why he’s been a mainstay in the Twin Cities contemporary jazz and R&B scene for 25 years – an era that’s found him performing and recording with Prince, Maceo Parker and Candy Dulfer, among others. Produced by urban jazz veteran Chris “Big Dog” Davis, “Beautiful Day” is a tight, brassy mid-tempo ballad with sweet old school guitar and keyboard touches.
Summer in our part of the world may be ending soon, but we can still enjoy more cloudless days thanks to Reggie Codrington’s latest single, the buoyantly infectious, coolly funky “Sunny Skies” – the lead single from his upcoming album BACK TO THE GROOVE. The optimism the soprano saxophonist expresses in spirited tracks like this is rooted in his overcoming a difficult childhood afflicted with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy (ACP). “Sunny Skies” was produced by and features bassist Darryl Williams and includes the coolly soulful trumpet of the saxophonist’s dad Ray Codrington.
On CITY NIGHTS, his sparkling, emotionally compelling first collection of all original material after four albums of cover songs, Swiss based singer/songwriter Thierry Condor artfully and soulfully blends vibes from his distinctly European roots with a lighthearted, Bobby Caldwell-esque West Coast retro pop/jazz vibe. Working with luminaries like two-time Grammy winning guitarist Jay Graydon and keyboardist Russell Ferrante, Condor brings romance and playfulness to tunes that take us from sunny California to the South of France. Go explore these sultry CITY NIGHTS!
Blending Smooth Jazz with high energy fusion, folk, pop, orchestrated instrumentals, solo piano tunes and rich classical influences, Pablo Embon’s wondrously eclectic REMINISCENT MOODS will impact you like one of the greatest ensemble albums you’ve ever heard. That is, till you realize that the Argentine born, Israeli based virtuoso is playing all the instruments himself! Adding to his prolific output since 2004, Embon’s 18th album is a wild, mood swinging synthesis of vibrant sounds via guitar, piano, electric keyboards, bass and percussion.
With his high spirited, perfectly titled, dreamy-breezy, Latin-tinged tune “Summer Oasis,” versatile trumpeter Keith Fiala, continues to follow in the footsteps of and capture the musical energies of his mentors Maynard Ferguson and Arturo Sandoval. A founding member of the Austin based R&B group, Memphis Train Revue for 22 years, Fiala has toured the world with Ferguson and since 2017 has served as Sandoval’s road manager, personal assistant and practice partner. This lighthearted tune makes the perfect soundtrack to the end of summer!
A Hollywood Music in Media Award winner for Song of the Year who has shared stages with Olivia Newton-John, Katharine McPhee, Terry Wollman and Susan Anton, Chadwick Johnson’s new album STORMY LOVE introduces his versatility as a songwriter/interpreter with a dynamic vocal range to Smooth Jazz audiences. His cool, strutting soul-blues inflected song, “Addicted," with guest saxophonist Grace Kelly opens the door to a stylistically expansive experience blending pop, traditional jazz and Americana on a unique set featuring compelling originals and unexpected new twists on jazz and pop classics by Roy Orbison, Joni Mitchell and many others.
Richmond, VA bassist Brandon Lane celebrates his recent Masters of Music degree in Jazz Studies from North Carolina Central University with a funk-filled, mightily melodic grooving EP, with a title tells us exactly what’s in store, OLDSOULMUSIC! Influenced by everyone from Marcus Miller and Stanley Clarke to Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind & Fire, Lane’s balance of snappy, in your face intensity and simmering chill vibes pays glorious homage to the classic R&B era while infusing his youthful contemporary sensibilities.
After years of playing keyboards in gospel, rock and funk bands, Swiss born musician, composer producer and electronic engineer Lucas Leuthold gave himself the ultimate 40th birthday gift – DANCING ON GOLDEN STREETS, his fun and fiery yet often deeply heartfelt multi-faceted debut album. Joining forces with top session musicians from Switzerland and Germany, Leuthold buoyantly mixes tight grooves, and deeply emotional melodies and fiery jazz-rock with touches of passionate romance and thoughtful spirituality.
A renowned luminary in his adopted hometown of NYC who has also toured throughout Europe, Russia and Australia, veteran trumpeter Michael C. Lewis’ INTIMATE JOURNEY is the kind of clever, artful, stylistically expansive album that Miles Davis would be making if he were still alive and rising up the Smooth Jazz charts. Lewis enhances his inviting melodies with a blend of old school textures, soothing atmospheres, tight hip-hop elements and edgy electronica flavors. Complementing the vibrant instrumentals, he also impresses with a deep vocal timbre perfect for creating a romantic urban jazz vibe.
With the release of his latest album GOING LEFT, saxophonist and independent label entrepreneur Dee Lucas celebrates 15 years bringing a deep, lyrical sensibility to Smooth Jazz, that both hits and transcends a soulful sweet spot. With a vibe driven by infectious melodies, vibrant horn textures and dreamy atmospheres, Lucas delivers a collection that includes a batch of fashionable originals, a trippy, exotic African music adventure and a sensual revisit of a Frankie Beverly & Maze classic.
The mysteriously named d. Mills may be the only multi-instrumentalist (guitar, piano, bass) on the planet who launched his career with gospel legend Shirley Caesar and works as an NYC detective when he’s not creating street smart Smooth Jazz. True to its title, his new EP, THE COMPLETION OF NEXT STEP is full of lively keyboard driven, sax, trumpet and vocal enhanced silk and funk tracks that reflect changes he’s been experiencing in his own life and observing in the world around him. Jump into the d. MILLS Experience!
Multi-talented songwriter, guitarist and entrepreneur Sly Moore continues to bring his crisp, inventive string energy and lushly melodic sensibilities to the Smooth Jazz genre after making his mark as a producer for top record labels like Universal Republic and MCA and his own Jambeat Entertainment II. His latest single “The Sweetest Thing” is a silky, picture-perfect romantic track blending his crackling guitar with old school keyboard sensibilities, cool ambiences, dreamy vocals and touches of soulful soprano sax.
Fashioned as a fascinating Smooth Jazz travelogue tribute to Anthony Bourdain, Motown Moe’s PARTS WELL KNOWN – a riff on the late TV personality’s show “Parts Unknown” - finds the versatile, easy grooving keyboardist exploring a hypnotic, easy flowing chill/funk hybrid vibe he calls “Nu Jazz.” The Air Force veteran creates a uniquely ambient, surprise filled sonic landscape as he creates an impressionistic soundtrack for cruising through prominent cities in the U.S., Canada and Brazil.
Once cleverly dubbed “the missing link between Pharoah Sanders and Kool & the Gang,” the innovative, relentlessly grooving Plunky & Oneness – led by world renowned saxophonist J. Plunky Branch – has been kicking up the funk, soul, Smooth Jazz, electronica and African percussion for more than 30 years. True to its titular mission, their latest album AFROCLECTIC uses its zesty brew of exotic Afro-funk, cool nu jazz, dreamy neo-soul and global fusion as a backdrop for empowering, socially conscious messages spreading universal love!
In addition to emotional conviction and great passion, sultry and versatile, Hong Kong based vocal powerhouse Jennifer Saran brings a fascinating background to her transition from the alt-pop contemporary realm into the fresh, rhythmically varied jazz explorations on her new EP SMOKY NIGHTS. Since debuting with a critically acclaimed holiday album in 2015, she’s worked regularly with legendary Grammy winning producer Narada Michael Walden (who helms this project) and scored a global hit single with Carlos Santana and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Keyboardist Frank Sutton has a powerful philosophy that defines his multi-faceted musical aesthetic: “What comes from the heart, will touch the heart, so play from that place.” With his extraordinary debut album RAIN THE EXPERIENCE, the Dallas based musician bursts onto the national Smooth Jazz scene with a relentlessly funkified, melodic old school keyboard sensibility that brings the Jeff Lorber/George Duke influence to the next generation. His titles swirl around a cool thematic concept of harsh weather giving way to bright, sunshiny days.
The first ever Singapore citizen to earn a Grammy nomination, multi-faceted guitarist, producer, songwriter and all-around citizen of the world Arun Shenoy is the visionary behind The Groove Project and their sizzling, high octane new single “Pilot.” Based on an insightful quote by author and speaker Michael Althusser – “the bad news is time flies, the good news is you’re the pilot,” the track is a hard hitting, playfully jangling, funk affair showcasing the production talents of Shenoy and Matthew Shell and saxophonist Marcus Mitchell,
The dynamic, stylistically diverse ensemble URBAN AMERICA THE BAND doesn’t drop their stylish, sensual and easy grooving self-titled EP till early 2020, but you can start getting excited now. Creating an infectious, crazy-cool, fusion of jazz, R&B, and pop grounded in deep soul and spirituality, songwriter Josephcat Sanchez, two time Grammy-nominated producer/keyboardist Kevin Toney, lead singer Vince Hall, backing vocalist Domique Toney and masterful trumpet/ flugelhorn player Johnny Britt take a slightly offbeat approach to showcase the bright future of urban adult contemporary music which fits seamlessly onto a current Smooth Jazz soundtrack.
Lilting yet passionate, sultry and breezy yet intensely soulful, Virgin Islands born and bred singer/songwriter Bishop Wayne may call his vibrant and jangling new reggae, R&B and rock-influenced single “Same Thing,” but he brings a breath of fresh air to the Smooth Jazz vocal realm. Though his inspirations include everyone from Bob Marley and Van Halen to Lenny Kravitz, contemporary listeners will also hear bits of John Legend and Sam Smith in his soulful, rangy vocals.