- Nicole Banks Long
- Nicole Banks Long
- Ricky Alan Draughn
- Holiday Best Wishes
- Favorite Things
- KenyaMJ Music
- Jack Magnet
- Hook, Line & Sinker
- Woodward Avenue
- You Are Not Alone
- Blue Velvet Soul Records
- Les McCann
- A Time Les Christmas
- The Abrahams Company
- Gabriel Severn
- Song For Fina
- Alfi Records
- Reta Watkins
- That Christmas Feeling
- Suite 28 Records
Listening Loft : HOLIDAY
While carving out a career as a drummer, Kenwood Anderson began playing keyboards, writing songs and studying recording. He showcased all these skills on his previous recordings – including several duo funk projects – and brings everything to full fruition on the multi-faceted, naturally groove intensive CHRISTMAS DREAMING. Bringing his multitude of talents to the holiday table, Anderson throws down a tasty mix of classics and original tunes that swing from gently intimate to lightly funky. This diverse artist mixes moods and tones so effectively (solo piano, organ, Fender Rhodes), you may think you’re listening to more than a single artist!
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!
Ricky Alan Draughn might be new on the Smooth Jazz artist radar, but he’s been rated one of the hottest cutting-edge artists on the East Coast by virtue of his Tri-State area performances with the Slammin’ Band. Previewing next year’s full length holiday album, BEST HOLIDAY WISHES, the intensely emotional soul singer creates a dramatic, orchestra-enhanced version of “O Holy Night” under the guidance of two-time Grammy nominated producer Chris “Big Dog” Davis. In addition to his towering vocals, the track is notable for its clever quoting of “My Favorite Things.” Draughn’s “O Holy Night” is one of the most inspiring tracks of the season!
The same way John Coltrane redefined the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic “My Favorite Things” for traditional jazz in his time, sultry Chicago based vocalist Kenya re-imagines it for today’s neo-soul generation – just in time for the holidays - as “Favorite Things.” Gerald Albright’s always welcome sax energy adds powerful emotional thrust to the singer’s hip phrasing and a fresh contemporary production driven by sensual atmospheres and a dynamic polyrhythmic flow.
Closing in on the 50th anniversary of Les McCann and Eddie Harris’ groundbreaking soul jazz album, SWISS MOVEMENT, that contained the classic smash hit "Compared to What", the Jazz legend, Les McCann, known for his funky piano style, soulful vocals and his deep catalog of compositions, returns to recording to regale us with A TIME LES CHRISTMAS – his first ever Christmas album. A balance of warm, intimate and funky swinging arrangements of Christmas classics we love and two moving Les McCann originals. At 83 years young, Les is the host of a truly festive affair which includes exciting contributions by Jazz vets, Michael Wolff, John Patittucci, Ray Obiedo, Ricky Peterson, Kenny Elliott, and a vocal duet with Maxayn Lewis.
"I have always wanted to do a Christmas Album, but the timing was never right" – Les McCann ….. UNTIL NOW!
After eight genre-defining hit Smooth Jazz albums, producer, composer and electric guitar master Nils graces us with a whirlwind of holiday cheer on CHRISTMAS EVERYDAY. While applying his alternately silky and feisty trademark tones to catchy originals and fresh spins on pop classics, Nils creates a generous showcase for some amazing soul-driven vocal talents – including Erin Stevenson, Kathryn Bostic, Clydene Jackson, Ken Stacy, Diana Tash and longtime multi-talented Nils collaborator Johnny Britt. A snazzy solo by emerging saxman Jeff Ryan spices up and brings fresh urgency to a Christmas standard as well. NILS makes you wish it was CHRISTMAS EVERYDAY!
It may be rare for singers to make their recording debut with a holiday album, but one listen to powerhouse jazz vocalist Reta Watkins’ THAT CHRISTMAS FEELING and you’ll be glad she made that unique choice! After 30 years of honing her skills as a vocal stylist, she creates a heartfelt, sometimes gently intimate, often playfully swinging big band session. While celebrating the season with delightful, fresh arrangements of classics and two touching original ballads, Watkins also pays homage to her late missionary father and her memories of growing up singing carols with him.
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.
Drawing from his diverse resume as a mixing and mastering engineer, producer and gigging saxophonist in R&B, Rock, Jazz and Latin ensembles, Michael Alan’s debut DISTANT WORLDS is one of the most melodically compelling, stylistically eclectic Smooth Jazz albums of the year. While his tech skills translate to the dynamic use of synth, loops, keyboards and drum samples, Alan makes this a showcase for his alternately fiery and heartfelt sax playing, as well as his soulful, perfectly placed flute and EWI performances. Among the vibrant originals are a couple of irresistible covers and a sultry piece featuring Marie Veillard singing in French. You don’t have to travel to DISTANT WORLDS to enjoy the future of Smooth Jazz!
Southern bred multi-talented vocal interpreter and songwriter Nicole Banks Long brings a fascinating background – including musical theater performer and contributor to Rod McGaha’s jazz fusion album THE SERVANT - to her a fresh, sultry emergence in Smooth Jazz with the release of her debut album FLY. Balancing honest emotion to her balance of hushed intimacy and deeply soul dramatic flair, the singer finds her unique voice as an artist while cleverly re-imagining classics and lesser known tunes by the likes of Al Jarreau, Roberta Flack, Shirley Horn, Phoebe Snow, Nancy Wilson and others. A sly and insightful storyteller, Banks Long also shares a powerful sense of social consciousness on her two standout originals.
It’s that girl again, this time, the chart-topping, multi-million album selling, world-jazz vocalist, Basia flutters into our hearts with her latest glorious release, BUTTERFLIES. In bringing her trademark timeless sophisti-pop style to the present moment, Basia sounds as fresh, breezy and inviting as ever. The key to the enduring magic is those crisp, soulful yet sweetly angelic lead and wordless vocals and exquisite voice textures. True to its title concept, the collection is both musically and lyrically buoyant and breezy, infused with exotic and rhythmically eclectic splashes of bossa swing, jazz, pop and Latin music, mixed and matched throughout to transcendent effect. Over 30 years after her breakthrough album TIME AND TIDE, Basia is still worth waiting nearly a decade for.
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!
With the release of his bold and funky, in your face fourth album INTANGIBLE, composer and multi-keyboardist Patrick Bradley continues to thrive under the production guidance of musical kindred spirit and genre legend Jeff Lorber – who also helmed his previous two projects. Whether he’s jamming on piano and organ or going wild with spacey, way out synth improvisations, Bradley keeps the buoyant melodies and relentlessly energetic grooves flowing. The album’s deep sense of adventure and invention reflects the multi-talented artist’s desire to pay homage to recently departed musical greats like progressive rockers Keith Emerson, Chris Squire and Richard Wright and jazz legends George Duke and Joe Sample. Once you start listening, you won’t be able to let go of INTANGIBLE!
Epic 92, the cool name that producer/multi-instrumentalist/singer K-Tabbs and singer-songwriter Xanthe give their fresh, edgy and soulful male-female duo, refers to two things: the year they met and a journey filled with unbelievable setbacks and triumphs, including a Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop hit. That divinely appointed road leads now to ATLANTA LIGHTS, an album infused with deep, UK influenced vibes, a classic R&B flow, confident but subtle rock edges, laid back grooves and sensual Smooth Jazz touches. The multi-dimensional sonic magic, a tight live band aesthetic and the duo’s lush vocal harmonies lay a perfect foundation for the sensual narrative. It rolls by like a sexy and sophisticated urban romance in a city that shimmers with joy and simmers with daring possibilities.
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!
A fresh addition to the acoustic pop and soul side of Smooth Jazz, 22-year old Joe Hurworth is a UK based artist whose rich blend of clear emotive vocals, lush vocal harmonies and insightful songwriting will appeal to fans who appreciate multi-genre greats like Michael McDonald. Having recently topped the SmoothJazz.com Listener Chart with “Single Day,” Joe’s unassuming, yet exquisitely produced debut EP CREATIVITY is full of infectious ballads and mid-tempo numbers that find him reflecting thoughtfully about different phases of romance and the conflicting nature of the creative process. Vocally, he cites legendary influences like Marvin Gaye, Al Green and the aforementioned McDonald, but he’s no doubt equally in influenced by his contemporaries the likes of Jason Mraz, James Morrison and Ed Sheeran. Joe’s one to watch… from Smooth to Soul, he’s got his finger on the pulse. "Single Day" made it to #1 on the SmoothJazz.com Listener Chart in the Spring of 2018!
Eight years after his hit debut album NORTH END SOUL, with three Billboard #1’s and eight Top Ten hits under his belt, saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Vincent Ingala has evolved from teen sensation to bona fide genre star. True to its title, his Shanachie debut PERSONAL TOUCH takes us deeper into his wildly exciting musical world where the musical wunderkind plays every single instrument! It’s a joyful realm where deep grooving Latin tinged, Smooth Jazz and shimmering, buoyant pop & soul mingle playfully with classic 80’s R&B (on re-imaginings of hits by Billy Ocean and Alexander O’Neal), passionate romance, blazing funk/rock (showcasing his powerful electric guitar) and tight, old school horn-fired jams. At the ripe age of 25, Ingala continues to excite, inspire and conquer the world!
Twenty seven years after co-founding Fourplay, legendary Grammy winning keyboardist/composer and contemporary jazz innovator Bob James’ ESPRESSO album marks a triumphant return to his solo career after 12 years working with David Sanborn, Keiko Matsui and others. Ensembling with his powerhouse trio of Michael Palazzolo (bass) and Billy Kilson (drums), this vibrant, eclectic, deeply percussive set focuses on James’ mastery of Smooth Jazz, straight-ahead, light funk, free-form improvisation, swing and other jazz-related styles. Driven by his deep chemistry with the trio, James’ stylistically liberating vibe extends to wild re-imaginings of Grover Washington, Jr. and Fats Waller classics.
Twenty years since he co-wrote the Smooth Jazz classic “When I Think of You” with Brian Culbertson for Steve Cole, electric guitarist Gerey Johnson continues as a busy sideman (Culbertson, Richard Elliot, Boney James, Rick Braun, Euge Groove), producer, record company executive and co-producer/music director of the Smooth Chicago concert series. With the release of his new track “Like We Used To,” Johnson finally rewards fans who have been waiting for his emergence as a solo artist. An easy-grooving, compelling and crackling, blues/gospel infused track featuring the inimitably soulful Richard Elliot on sax. “Like We Used To” is the lead single of Johnson’s highly anticipated upcoming full-length debut album YOU DIDN’T KNOW? Now you do!
A renowned artist, producer, songwriter, vocal coach, session musician and performer, the multi-talented Jaee Logan brings a lifetime of musical joy to his emergence as a Smooth Jazz artist. In addition to selling over 30 million records worldwide, he has worked with everyone from Sheila E, Pebbles and Club Nouveau to Rosie Gaines, Digital Underground and Bobby Brown. The project's first single, "Morning," features special album guest, legendary Earth, Wind & Fire founder, Verdine White. While the album's latest single, "Treasure," is an uplifting, Smooth Jazz treasure with sweet vocals and a positive vibe promising to enchant music fans around the world. Jaee Logan's SUN RIDER turns up the brightness in today's Smooth music mix!
One of urban jazz’s most consistently soul-inspiring vocalists over the past 25 years, Grammy nominee and Soul Train Award winner Maysa has a powerful message for those who may feel alone in their struggle with life’s ongoing challenges: “You Are Not Alone.” Her dreamy and uplifting, new R&B and gospel tinged single is not a Christmas song, per se, but with its inspirational, hopeful message and stunning performance, it has the makings of a seasonal perennial. While universal in scope and applicable to many situations in her life and the lives of others, she wrote it as a tribute to the folks at the March of Dimes, who helped her through a tough time after the premature birth of her son Jazz.
Reflective of its title and the individual themes driving its soulful, engaging tracks, Sam Rucker’s emotionally compelling third album REDEMPTION is powered by a deep spiritual vision of true soul survival. 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!
In his 20 years as a recording artist, Hawaiian-born ukuele master Jake Shimabukuro has re-imagined the stylistic possibilities of his native instrument, combining elements of jazz, blues, funk, rock, bluegrass, classical, folk and flamenco. On his latest work THE GREATEST DAY, the revolutionary performer expands the rhythm section vibe of his previous Nashville Sessions project (which featured bassist Nolan Verner and drummer Evan Hutchings) to include the fiery electric guitar of Dave Preston. On a set mixing vibrant, catchy originals and wild re-imaginings of classics by The Beatles, The Zombies, Jimi Hendrix, Leonard Cohen and Ed Sheeran, Shimabukuro touches all the melodic, rhythmic and emotional bases – from soft spoken acoustic elegance and symphonic grandeur to dreamy atmospheres, easy rolling grooves, otherworldly exotica and blistering, psychedelic jazz-rock.
Solomon Edmond, the multi-talented composer, keyboardist and sonic mastermind behind his urban jazz project Solex, grew up playing gospel music in his family’s group and has been a Minister of Music for 25 years. As its title would indicate, his eclectic, atmosphere and groove driven new album VOICES draws from many musical influences. Solex’s earlier releases blended jazz, gospel, Latin and R&B. Some of those cool elements carry over here, but the most prominent inspirations are Earth, Wind & Fire and George Duke. The EWF vibe is front and center on the tight funk tracks with soaring vocals and horn textures, and Solex creates many of his artful, lighthearted melodies and harmonies with a wild array of trippy, Duke-esque synth and synth vocal sounds. These are VOICES you’ll want to hear again and again!
Will Sumner’s got a pretty tasty theme developing, and it’s all about bringing the joie de vivre and sunshine filled adventures to Smooth Jazz! Extending the summery magic of his recordings COAST DRIVE, PIER GROOVE and ENDLESS SUMNER, the veteran composer/guitarist’s latest single “Ride The Wave,” the title track from his upcoming album, is pure buoyant, rolling energy. To create the ideal carefree top down, wind in your face, drive along PCH vibe, Sumner takes a Rippingtons-esque production approach, doubling his guitars with saxes and featuring lush piano and tropical percussion textures.
A longtime pilot for Delta Airlines, pianist and composer Paul Tuvman received an overwhelming response to his 2015 debut album, MUSICALLY SPEAKING, which was put on the In Flight entertainment system and pretty much launched Paul’s Smooth Jazz career. The title of his latest, RIDING THE JETSTREAM, is not only a nod to his day job, but an emotional guide to the freewheeling journey ahead. Working with producer Rick Braun (who plays trumpet on two songs) and guests Michael Lington and Pat Kelley, Tuvman alternately caresses and pounds the ivories as he eases effortlessly between lighthearted traditional jazz swing, energetic R&B/funk, lush ballads and ventures into Irish music and Brazilian samba. Time to get on board, buckle up and start RIDING THE JETSTREAM!
Music has colors… as well as textures and energy. Our favorite Lifestyle Music craftsman, Waldino returns with a new collection of musical motifs, RANDOM SCATTERED COLORS. This soundtrack of soul-tugging jazz vibes and melodic dance grooves will play like a weekend every time you turn it on. The one-time, in demand emergency room maxillofacial surgeon returned to music composition after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s over a decade ago. Since that time, Dr. Walter Liskiewicz (aka Waldino) has prolifically created over a dozen albums… all compelling and kinetic upon the last. The perennial composer delivers a stunning set of songs here with RSC, just hit Play/Repeat and see/feel the music for yourself!
Closing in on three decades as one of Smooth Jazz's most sure-thing, romantic hit makers, saxophonist Kim Waters celebrates 20 years as part of Shanachie Entertainment's urban-leaning roster with his latest in the pocket gem WHAT I LIKE. With a title like that, Waters gives his fans insight into what's tickling his sensual yet funky soul fancy these days “ delightfully and perhaps a bit surprisingly, it's a bit less dreamy balladry and more fresh, buoyant and danceable grooves featuring both alto and soprano. Waters has long been a master at re-imagining pop and R&B hits as urban jazz jams. He strikes gold here once again finding the tasty new school cool at the heart of classics by Bruno Mars, Maxwell and The Isley Brothers.
Discovered by the legendary Roy Ayers in the mid-70’s, bassist Nate White has been all about the funk, R&B and jazz for decades, bringing the deep bottom grooves as an opening act for everyone from Chuck Loeb, Jeff Lorber and Everette Harp to Euge Groove and the recent Dave Koz & Friends Summer Horns Tour. On UP CLOSE, the Cincinnati native plays and plucks his crazy-infectious, low toned melodies like a guitarist, weaving in and out of silky atmospheres, old school keys, spacey synth effects, and hypnotic funk and hip-hop percussion. Most of the tracks are grooving fun, but one is a thoughtful, socially conscious ballad inspired by the immigration issues currently dominating the news.
After years playing in swing and dance party bands, trumpeter/flugelhornist Rob Zinn emerged as a top Smooth Jazz artist with his debut album YESTERDAY AGAIN. Upping his game, he hooks up with mega-producer Paul Brown on his new collection WALK THE WALK. With Brown contributing his trademark guitar licks, Zinn vibes with saxophonist Andrew Neu and other special guests (including Michael Paulo) in exploring a whirlwind of spirited grooves and vibes, from ambient and bluesy to mid-tempo sensual, and deep, in the pocket funk. If you like horn solos and tight horn sections, you’re going to WALK THE WALK and dance the dance!
Listening Loft : MUST HAVES
While Grammy and Emmy nominated arranger and trumpeter Greg Adams will forever be renowned as a co-founder of the legendary Tower of Power, it’s exciting to note that his equally explosive ensemble East Bay Soul is quickly closing in on its first decade of kickin’ recordings and performances. The brass fired ensemble’s stirringly eclectic latest album CONVERSATION has it all and, per its title, connects on many emotional levels. It’s got loose, greasy funk, easy flowing traditional swing, sly strutting sensuality and phenomenal, brass fired R&B vocal tunes by lead singer Darryl Walker - including a searing twist on an Otis Redding classic. Get in this CONVERSATION!
R&B/funk driven, Detroit based guitarist dee Brown’s REMEMBERING YOU is that rare Smooth Jazz album that lifts the spirits and gets the fingers snapping as it weaves a compelling narrative through its thoughtful song titles. A colorful blend of hard grooving jams and passionate ballads, the collection tells the beautiful and emotional story of Brown’s relationship with singer/songwriter Shaunia Edwards, his collaborator and fiancée who made her transition to heaven in February 2016. His inspirational chronicle of their time together is a celebration of her extraordinary life and their incredible love - and a reminder that we are all here to share our lives together.
Guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Paul Dozier’s success as a solo artist these past 17 years has led him to open shows for the Smooth Jazz, Soul and Gospel elite, play with everyone from Paul Taylor and Brian Simpson and serve as musical director for Karen Briggs and Gail Jhonson. The optimistic title of his latest album BRAND NEW DAY lets us know that he’s looking forward to the future with tight, infectious melodies, fluid guitar licks and picture perfect urban pocket grooves. Dozier complements the electric guitar vibe with an acoustic neo soul tune featuring vocalist Jessica Lane and a deep electronica soul dive into a Sade classic.
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. The collection’s first single, the sensual, old school R&B-vibin’ “Sexy Cindy,” was named for Cindy Sanchez Medina, Miss Santander, Colombia 2018.
Chicago flutist, composer and music educator Steve Flowers may have titled his latest album MISSING YOU in tribute to a departed friend, but this super soulful, dreamily melodic and rhythmically diverse collection is more about celebrating. Playing an array of flutes – including the piccolo, bass and G flute – the multi-talented artist, who has performed with everyone from Take 6 and Koko Taylor to Regina Belle and B.B. King, takes us on a whimsical yet wistful, emotionally compelling journey filled with pop, R&B, light funk, improvisational jazz and vibrant, spirited Latin pleasures.
Bringing more of the sweet and radiant “Chocolate Sunshine” of her 2016 breakthrough album, electrifying saxophonist, full time music educator and emerging Smooth Jazz sensation Jazmin Ghent now invites us to fully experience THE STORY OF JAZ. Following two hit singles with Paul Brown, she takes her unique brand of snazzy sizzle and sultry funk to the next level with producer Euge Groove and keyboardist Philippe Saisse. Beyond the fiery and infectious, groove intensive originals, she kicks it old school with a re-imagining of a Carole King classic and closes by taking us to church, where her amazing journey began.
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 - are back with CROSS PATHS, leading their powerhouse ensemble on an intoxicating mix of soul-sensual ballads and tight urban jazz with an edgy funk twist. Though keyboardist Bob James and percussionist Juan Escovedo (of the legendary Escovedo family) lend their exuberance, the deeper joys emerge from George’s lush lead and wordless vocals, Tracy’s background vocals and the explosive energy of band members John Rekevics, Richard “Blitz” Livoni and John Cain.
With her sensual yet gritty, world-wise influenced vocals, popular Australian singer/songwriter Skii Harvey offers a cross between the raucous bluesy soul of Tina Turner and hip, jazzy elegance of Ella Fitzgerald. The multiple award-winning artist’s latest EP may be called UNINVITED, but she immediately draws us into the raw, plainspoken emotion and sizzling horns on these four, new tracks. Sharing a variety of moods and tempos, she powerfully fulfills her goal with this tight, energetic project to give herself, and all of us listening, a little mental health TLC as we “un-invite” ourselves from the pressures of the world.
The title of Lowell Hopper’s alternately breezy, bluesy and groove intensive new album DELAYED REACTION is somewhat curious in that his tight, crisp and fluid electric guitar melodies pierce the heart instantaneously. With this seductive 13 track collection, the North Florida based composer and multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist (whose arsenal includes bass and keyboards) celebrates 25 years as a popular independent recording artist. He began composing and producing his own music during his 20 year stint in the Air Force – and on his 15thalbum, he’s still flying high with inventive licks and crackling improvisations to complement his silky lead lines.
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.
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.
Smooth Jazz fans with venturesome musical tastes beyond the core of the genre, will go absolutely wild for young, German composer/producer Kai Otten’s fascinating, genre-bending explorations on his latest album CAMPER MODE. Self-described as creating “decorative music,” Kai utilizes a flamenco guitar vibe – both meditative and fiery - as a foundation, then adds a variety of sound textures including exotic percussion, electronic ambiences and self-styled, instruments to create compelling soundscapes. The journey includes moments of chill and relaxation, as well as dance, and clap-alongs, trippy trances, moody meditations and other unconventional – but always melodic – colors. CAMPER MODE is a musical journey like no other!
Nicknamed “The Vibe” for his mastery of the vibraphone, Steve Raybine was a founding member of jazz fusion greats, Auracle, played with Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck and Rick Braun, and has enjoyed nearly 20 years as a Smooth Jazz Artist. On his latest single “Firefly Dance” – the follow-up to his 2016 album Cool Vibes – Raybine pays homage to the way his cat Indy is mesmerized by the nightly dance of fireflies. His silky, sensual and infectiously haunting vibraphone melody is caressed by old school keyboard harmonies and graceful atmospheres that capture the many facets of these creatures doing their nocturnal thing.
Renowned by his peers as “The Quincy Jones of Gospel,” Terrence Richburg has graced that realm as a songwriter, vocalist, arranger, orchestrator, producer, keyboardist, guitarist, bassist and percussionist. In addition to working with the likes of Yolanda Adams, Shirley Caesar and Ben Tankard, he has been a force in gospel jazz with his own groups R&R and The Terrence Richburg Experience. His latest Smooth Jazz collection PORTRAIT OF ADORATION is a powerful testament to Richburg’s wild multitude of talents, driven by his love of God and equal passions for sensual soul-jazz, sizzling funk and dazzling keyboard and guitar melodies and improvisations. Along the way, Richburg also impresses with some Take 6 like vocalizations.
Perhaps imagining winter in sunnier climes than his native Toronto, multiple Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards nominee Dave Sereny takes his seductive, melodic electric guitar to several exotic locales, including Bob Marley’s Jamaica, on his latest album TALK TO ME. Yet those buoyant excursions are just the open door to a high energy, freewheeling romp through many different Smooth Jazz related styles, including horn-fired, beat happy dance music, dreamy vocal pop, caffienated jazz/funk and exotic, atmospheric world beat. On hand to lend his always welcome sax intensity is saxman and fellow Torontonian, Warren Hill.
Versatile singer-songwriter Rehya Stevens makes her deepest emotional impact to date with her new album "Celebrate." Featuring #1 billboard Smooth Jazz artists Jessy J and Chris Standring, this collection of all - original songs pays homage to the inkwell of timeless Christmas classics by Nat King Cole, Donny Hathaway, Frank Sinatra, Brenda Lee and The Carpenters. With infectious melodies and eloquent lyrics, "Celebrate" is an ultra-passionate collection of classic folky pop, old-school jazz - and fiery swinging' blues - with a vibrant, contemporary - yet nostalgic perspective.
Nearly 10-years after his being named runner-up in the Capital Jazz Challenge launched his exciting and prolific career as a Smooth Jazz artist, Detroit-bred saxophonist Deon Yates is feeling not just great, but QUINTASTIC. The socially trending title of his upcoming fifth solo album literally means “a person aged 50 or more and is still attractive and successful.” That timeless magnetism is on full display on “No Other Love,” a hip and infectious, mid-tempo soprano jam penned and produced by Chris “Big Dog” Davis, that artfully blends old school sensibilities with soul-deep contemporary grooves. This sure-fire hit also features tasty horn texturing, dreamy backing vocals and a lush piano solo.
Listening Loft : ESSENTIALS
Clever tongue twister aside, keyboardist, composer and renowned music educator Mark Adams draws on his mile long jazz/R&B resume (Erykah Badu, Queen Latifah, Maysa, Ronnie Laws, Roy Ayers) to infuse his genre-transcendent latest album I FORGOT TO REMEMBER TO FORGET with deeply joyful eclecticism. He’s got it all – fanciful urban jazz/funk, hip-hop, a touch of big band brass, old school soul-jazz, vibrant Latin fun and deeply felt blues. Traditional jazz fans are also invited to the party, which includes dynamic guest appearances by Ayers and legendary bassist Ron Carter.
Talk about prolific! In just over a year, classically trained keyboardist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Grace Brancale has released nearly 20 albums of atmospheric, chill oriented Smooth Jazz covering a wide variety of vibes and moods. As its title promises, the global sensation’s latest work VACATIONS, VOL. 1 blends soothing ambiences, lively grooves and lush, soulful melodies reflecting a variety of inviting activities and destinations, from a rainforest and a tropical paradise to a festival and just relaxing at home.
Though Kris Brownlee’s deep versatility often finds him infusing bebop chops into the mix, the multi-talented saxophonist cites Boney James as his chief influence over the past 25 years. On BREATHE – NIGHT SESSIONS, his first release since his breakthrough 2013 album SINCERELY YOURS, Brownlee continues to put his own stamp on the sultry-funky urban flow with fanciful old school keyboard textures, sizzling horn textures, trippy atmospheres and tinges of Latin jazz.
At the ripe age of 24, bass whiz Blair Bryant has already been called “a contemporary Stanley Clarke.” Full of deep funk, smooth urban soul and artful, fanciful bass expressions to spare, his third album CERULEAN BLUE finds him in a stylistically diverse and groove intensive strut, far surpassing the well-deserved hype. While vibing brilliantly with genre greats Darren Rahn, Blake Aaron, Donald Hayes and Najee (tearing it up on flute), Bryant, like Clarke, impresses most when he strips down and puts his bass genius center stage.
The title of veteran saxophonist Reggie Codrington’s latest funky and flowing collection album AGAINST THE ODDS refers to all he has overcome early in his life – when he was afflicted with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – to become an artist whose music and personal story offers endless inspiration. Codrington, who has worked with Smooth Jazz greats like Jeff Lorber, Nils, Paul Jackson, Jr. and Ricky Lawson, has it all here – fresh beats, sweeping atmospheres, silky and emotionally punchy melodies and uptempo tunes and ballads to dance and romance to.
While perhaps best known as George Benson’s longtime musical director, David Garfield is also a top composer, arranger, producer and artist who - as the title of the second of his five-part, multi-genre series of releases informs us – loves JAMMIN’ – OUTSIDE THE BOX. Celebrating his lifelong passion for R&B and pop, Garfield invites a party of illustrious musical friends - including Ray Parker, Jr., Michael McDonald, Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum and Marcus Miller - to bring a freewheeling jazzy transcendence to classics by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Rufus, Sting, The Isley Brothers and Adele.
Summer may be over, but you can still catch a warm and inviting SUMMER BREEZE thanks to saxophonist Curtis Haywood's latest tasty, lighthearted collection, which is infused with sultry R&B, Urban Contemporary rhythms, Smooth Jazz and bright, danceable calypso flavors. The onetime member of NYC fusion group Joshua has shared stages with Chieli Minucci and Pieces of a Dream, and he keeps the summer flowing with the dreamy contributions of one of the genre's true rising stars, flutist Ragan Whiteside.
Veteran Grammy-nominated composer, arranger and trumpet and flugelhorn great Ron King has worked with the likes of George Benson, Rickie Lee Jones, Marvin Gaye and Frank Sinatra – and he knew the right guy to vibe with (Paul Brown) for his fresh foray into Smooth Jazz. King penned – and Brown produced – the easy flowing, silky and sensual “You Move Me,” which features Brown on guitar and a dreamy duality between King’s flugelhorn and Darren Rahn’s always soulful sax. You’ll be moved!
On SILVER LINING, their incredible third project together, Michael Lington and veteran R&B producer Barry Eastmond continue to mine rhythmic sonic gold from the Memphis soul sound. Whether he’s in a slow simmering sizzle or throwing down edgy, in your face funk, Lington’s rich horn tone is the ideal vehicle for a contemporary twist on this retro style. Bringing added style and cool are guest guitarists Dave Stewart, Ray Parker Jr. and Paul Jackson Jr., while vocalist Dorian Holley turns a Tower of Power smash into a divine spiritual experience.
Oakland bred saxophonist Angelo Luster’s extensive musical background includes playing in big bands behind legends like Rosemary Clooney, Joe Williams and Maynard Ferguson, as well as winning many awards as a gospel musician and artist. On his perfectly titled new single “Breakthrough,” he’s taking the Smooth Jazz world by storm with a fiery swirl of cool funk, slammin’ synth and horn textures and some wild fun fusion, with the help of Frankie Beverly & Maze’s blazing guitarist John Jubu Smith. New album due out soon.
Rarely has the title of a Smooth Jazz track so perfectly reflected its grip on our body, soul and emotions! Iceland’s foremost musical icon, Jack Magnet’s instantly hummable, crazy-catchy “Hook, Line & Sinker” is technically a solo single, with Magnet front and center on spirited acoustic piano. Yet it’s truly a collaborative jam, with featured guest saxophonist Jeff Ryan and Paul Brown (the track’s producer) and Chris Standring (co-writer) on guitar. From the upcoming release, HIGH NORTH, this is a festive romp driven by the dynamic dual melodic magic of Magnet and Ryan.
Guitarist, composer and music entrepreneur Sly Moore has spent years behind the scenes, producing recordings for numerous major labels while adding his soulful electric sparkle to many of them. Taking center stage on his debut single, the dreamy, sensual ballad “There Goes My Girl,” the multi-talented artist brings an old school production sensibility, crisp, fluid lines and soulful backing vocals to create a contemporary, delightfully jazzy romance.
On her third album WISH OF THE HEART, sultry and sensual soul-jazz singer Jacnique Nina continues to fulfill the promise of the numerous independent music awards she’s won in categories ranging from jazz and R&B to neo-soul. Choosing to yield what she calls “weapons of love,” she puts her silky, romantic vibes in the service of positivity, kindness and respect. The album includes a vocal duet of Kenny G’s “Songbird” with Philip Ingram, helmed by its original producer Preston Glass.
Composer and multi-instrumentalist Herb Partlow has been a radio personality, producer and artist, manager, recording and mastering engineer. Yet he’s totally focused on what’s ahead for him: FUTURE JAZZ, his sonically inventive breakthrough EP that he calls “jazz music for a new generation.” Playing keyboards, piano and bass, he lays a dynamic foundation for an atmospheric, trippy effects filled and groove intensive flow. Saxophonists Allen Omenka Webb and JLP and rockin’ guitarist Ricardo Love take Partlow’s vision and vibe into the urban jazz fusion stratosphere!
An exciting and versatile bass prodigy who formed his first jazz fusion band at age 12, Gabriel Severn makes his Smooth Jazz debut with “Song for Fina,” a gently exotic, quick tempo changing Brazilian flavored gem he wrote for a family friend and which earned him a prestigious DownBeat Award. Helping shape Severn’s dynamic vibe is producer and guitarist Chieli Minucci, who brings current Special EFX members Joel Rosenblatt and Jay Rowe on board for a highly energized good time!
If the swirl of cool sultriness and brassy funk on The PAC’s soaring and inspiring debut single “Loves Holiday” reminds you of Earth, Wind & Fire and Prince, your ears are spot on. The passionate eight-piece pop, rock and soul fusion ensemble are mentored and produced by Verdine White and John Paris of EWF and Eddie M., who recorded and performed with Prince and Sheila E. A classic sounding R&B power ballad, “Love’s Holiday” soars with the deeply inviting vocals of lead singer Johnas Street, with backing vocals by Jaci M.
Led by Bay Area composer, arranger, pianist and multi-instrumentalist Carlos Sanders, Uncle Los Music is a multi-dimensional collective driven by the combined passions of some of the region’s top urban jazz talents – most prominently, saxophonist Tony Peebles. Have your cake and eat too… the latest, colorfully titled album BLACK BOTTOM CUPCAKE has it all – attention-grabbing R&B vocals, fiery funk, laid back old school soul/jazz and touches of rock, blues and gospel. With a title like BLACK BOTTOM CUPCAKE, this spirited jam can be described in only one word, tasty!
The seeds of the uniquely soulful Smooth Jazz duo Urbanity were planted nearly 30 years ago when guitarist Albert Dadon – aka Albare – recruited pianist Phil Turcio for his band at the time. They follow their full-length debut Urban Soul with a gently rhythmic, deeply intimate and slightly bluesy re-imagining of the Eagles’ classic ballad “Desperado.” With Turcio’s B-3 simmering in the background, the track showcases Albare’s versatile rhythmic and fluidly melodic genius.
Embracing the alternately fluid, then crisp and crackling tone and deeply soulful energy of Terence Young’s latest single “My Jewel,” it’s easy to see why R&B greats like Ashford & Simpson, Tower of Power’s Lenny Williams and Angie Stone have tapped the South Carolina guitarist to be their musical director. The song has a unique dual vibe. Just as Young is seducing us with a dreamy, sensual flow, he turns up the groove and thumps his way to the dance floor on the wildly infectious, vocal powered hook.