- Greg Adams and East Bay Soul
- Ripa Records
- Paul Dozier
- Brand New Day
- Gerey Johnson
- You Didn't Know
- Jazz N' Novo Entertainment Inc
- Sly Moore
- There Goes My Girl
- Jambeat/BeanBag1 Entertainment
- Jacnique Nina
- Wish Of The Heart
- SirenFire Music Works LLC
- Paolo Rustichelli
- Magic Life
- Next Age Music
- Rehya Stevens
- The Pac
- Love's Holiday
- Pacsol Entertainment
- Random Scattered Colors
- Deon Yates
Listening Loft : HOTPICKS
Branding themselves as "Jazz From the East Bay," 510Jazz, named for their home base area code, is a fascinating collective of regional session musicians and world-class vocalists performing Sergio Mendes and Quincy Jones-influenced arrangements of spirited original bossa nova flavored tunes. Under the stylistically expansive direction of songwriters, bandleaders and producers, John Vargas (vocals) and David Vargas (rap), their latest album JANUARY 16 fuses the old school bossa with funky urban jazz, tight hip hop beats and infectious soul music – all elevated with empowering spiritual messages. Songs from JANUARY 16 are gaining global momentum... with national and international airplay. The project's latest single, "Right Next To Me," has been enjoying favorable positioning on SmoothJazz.com's Listener Chart, a music chart controlled 100% by radio listeners around the world. The global jazz community loves this Bay Area band!
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!
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!
While Paul Brown has scored over 60 #1 Smooth Jazz hits for himself and as a producer of other artists, the guitarist’s musical heart has always been in the blues. His past decade of pushing the boundaries towards the ultimate powerhouse fusion of urban flavored jazz and hardcore, heartfelt blues culminates in his latest Woodward Avenue Records album UPTOWN BLUES. Brown’s got a few deep in the pocket, mid and uptempo funk burners, but the emotional core of this mostly intimate collection lies in the simmering blues-drenched vocal tunes and a thoughtful, brassy tribute to Jeff Golub. Another can’t miss highlight is the poignant piano and vocal ballad about addiction, “Somebody’s Child,” penned and sung beautifully by Brown’s wife Jacqui Brown.
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!
Legendary contemporary jazz trailblazers Jeff Lorber and Jimmy Haslip knew exactly how to celebrate the keyboardist’s first ever Grammy win this year for their 2017 Jeff Lorber Fusion album PROTOTYPE, get back in the studio and make the next one even funkier, tighter and more musically and harmonically compelling! The fruits of their labor result in the perfectly titled IMPACT, a jammin’ powder keg of a collection which crackles, sears the soul, and commands detailed attention with a swirl of primal energy and silky cool from the jammin’ get-go. With genre-transcendent nods to everyone from Horace Silver to J.R.R. Tolkien, JLF takes on added fuel via a high-powered guest list including Paul Jackson, Jr., Andy Snitzer, Dave Mann and Gary Novak.
Following in the tradition of his earlier albums POSITIVE ENERGY and RADIANT, Steve Oliver dubs his latest album ILLUMINATE, shining a spotlight on his trademark of vibrant, guitar melodies and sunny wordless vocalese couched in uplifting musical atmospheres. Though the uptempo, road trip ready gems drive the journey, his first set of original contemporary jazz instrumentals in six years includes several intimate ballads that bring a soulful depth to the party. Both live and in the studio, Steve showcases his one-man band mastery by generating his own guitar, bass and keyboard vibes through his unique “sound design.” ILLUMINATE is highlighted with a few top-flight friends including Jimmy Haslip, Joel Taylor and Nelson Rangell.
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!
It was a revelation, even for a superstar legend the likes of Carlos Santana, when on a hot day in May 1996, in Los Angeles, California, Santana heard the rough mix of the song “Paisa” and fell in love with the unique composition. The song would become Paolo Rustichelli’s first #1 Billboard Smooth Jazz single and Santana agreed to be the executive producer on Paolo’s MYSTIC MAN album. Two decades later, Paolo is a critically-acclaimed, Smooth Jazz composer with a string of invigorating, innovative radio hits. His trademark sound is a blending of synths and samples admired and emulated by artists around the world. The pioneer of electro Smooth Jazz brings us a brand-new, uplifting single for summer, "Magic Life," offering a super fresh, sexy vibe, continuing Paolo’s Mediterranean, musical mindfulness!
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.
If Smooth Jazz had an MVP award for versatility, keyboardist, composer and musical director extraordinaire, Brian Simpson, would be a perennial winner. As a sideman, he’s brought his spin of grace and funk to stars the likes of Janet Jackson, Dave Koz and George Duke. As a solo artist, with the release of his picture-perfect, eighth album, SOMETHING ABOUT YOU, he’s quickly adding to his extraordinary run of radio hits. Simpson drives his catchy, sun-filled jazz melodies, and breezy soul ballads with a mix of in-the-pocket grooves, shuffling rhythms and exciting, percussive textures. Helping push Simpson’s trademark sonic energies to fresh, transcendent heights, are co-producer Steve Oliver, bassists Alex Al and Andre Berry and the dashing, dreamy trumpet of guest artist Ron King.
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!
Under the guidance of renowned Smooth Jazz guitarist/producer Kenee Maree, the rhythm section known as ZZAPIENS joins forces with some of Atlanta’s best-known pop, R&B and jazz vocalists to create LEGACY OF LOVE/SONGS FOR HER. A collection of lively and emotional re-imagined classics from the worlds of Brazilian, Latin, traditional jazz and classic R&B (Luther Vandross and Roberta Flack), it’s a beautiful celebration of the life of Maree’s business and life partner Brenda, who passed away from breast cancer in 2017. “Bren & Ken” created Breken Records, whose deeply soulful roster includes all the brilliant artists showcased here: Kandis Maureen, Sirlister Smiley, Sybil Eberhart, Jason Smith and Kam Showers. Even without the poignant inspirational backstory, this is a remarkable work introducing us to an important independent record label.
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!
Five and a half decades into one of music’s most illustrious careers… ageless 83-year-old, 9 time Grammy winning legend Herb Alpert is having a retro blast revisiting and amping up his 1960’s classics for the modern music era. The first single from his upcoming album MUSIC VOLUME 3 : HERB ALPERT REIMAGINES THE TIJUANA BRASS is a fresh, hip twist on the spiritual “Wade in the Water,” a Top 5 Adult Contemporary hit back in 1967. The trumpet great’s new version is a playful, lushly produced, bossa nova with stylish synth textures, breezy female vocalese and contemporary beats. Herb is here to stay!
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.
Paving the way for her upcoming third solo album STORY OF JAZ, electrifying saxophonist, full time music educator and emerging Smooth Jazz sensation Jazmin Ghent brings the snazzy sizzle and her unique brand of sultry funk on her ultra-infectious new single “Heat.” She’s recorded two singles with Paul Brown, and here collaborates with two more genre heavyweights, producer Euge Groove and keyboardist Philippe Saisse. As if the song’s bright, textured horn hook and danceable percussion weren’t seductive enough, the track also takes a jubilant trip to the tropics with Saisse’s playful vibraphone and stunning flute runs by the amazing Kim Scott.
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.
Perfectly embodying its cheerful, uplifting title, Charley Langer’s new album HAPPY HOUR is a true celebration of the veteran saxophonist’s locking in on a fully, funky, in the pocket Smooth Jazz vibe. The collection is the long awaited follow-up to his popular debut NEVER THE SAME, whose title track received significant airplay on the radio and The Weather Channel. Creating a soulful, crackling chemistry with guitarist, composer and genre super-producer Nils, Langer brings his muscular alto vibe to exciting, infectious melodies and jumping, horn-textured hooks. Adding some bold and exciting Tower of Power-like edges to the pop-soul flow, Langer embodies the album’s title with a set that exudes energy, optimism and sweet touches of romance. You don’t need a drink to enjoy this very HAPPY HOUR!
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.
Longtime fans of guitarist extraordinaire Nils know that his soulful and infectious new album PLAY is not his first with the word in the title. Back in 2007, a few years after his breakthrough hit “Pacific Coast Highway,” he was READY TO PLAY. This ongoing theme is centered around the dynamic sound of the custom guitar Nils has played on all his works. Hook after hook, groove after groove, that guitar delivers fresh, imaginative excitement on both the party jams and lush ballads. In addition to his core band, Nils continues his exciting collaborations with vocalist, keyboardist and trumpeter Johnny Britt, who brings cool elements like Rhodes, trumpet solos and horn sections to the mix. Don’t say we didn’t warn you – Nils comes to PLAY!
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.
One of Brazil’s most prolific and influential artists for over half a century, pianist, composer and multiple Latin Grammy nominee Antonio Adolfo fulfills his lifelong dream to record with a big band ensemble on his latest album ENCONTROS – ORQUESTRA ATLANTICA. It’s a melodically and harmonically surreal, rhythmically eclectic set mixing his inventive piano skills with the youthful exuberance of a group that, formed in 2012, represents the exciting present and bold future of Brazilian music.
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.
Classically trained, Ukranian-born saxophonist Andrey Chmut uses the clever title SMOOTHABILITY for his fresh, edgy, wildly in the pocket debut album, but he could just as appropriately dubbed it “Funkability” or “Slammability” based on his intensely passionate, deeply percussive approach to these picture perfect melodies – even on the lighthearted mid-tempo tunes and dreamy ballads. The Dave Koz, Eric Marienthal and Charlie Parker influenced Chmut also enjoys sharing the spotlight with some incredible guests – including the legendary Bob James, U-Nam and his Skytown Records labelmate, keyboardist Valeriy Stepanov.
One of the coolest biographical details about emerging saxophonist Christopher CJ is that he was once a professional ballet dancer. He infuses some of that graceful, flowing movement into his dynamics-rich debut, a 4 song EP, SUNSET SONGS, with vibes that range from laid back pop/soul, sultry tropical sway to hard-hitting power balladry. The instantly infectious covers of Ed Sheeran, Drake and The Weeknd smashes will draw you in, and CJ's heartfelt original, "Inspiration Island" will leaving you wanting more!
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.
One of the freshest electronic urban jazz ensembles of the past decade, Montreal based hipster quartet Groove55 takes a cool, intoxicating turn towards chill music and more exotic textures on their appropriately titled fourth album NEW BEGINNING. Their intimate yet sonically provocative multi-textured fusion, captured perfectly by the song title “Chill Funk,” combines the hypnotic melodies, ambiences and otherworldly sounds of keyboardist Jacques Mignault with Yves Nadeau’s deeply grooving bass, Nicolas Chourot’s fluid guitar lines and Yves Adam's emotional saxophone touches.
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.
Taking a supremely cool detour from his trademark pop/rock vocal style, versatile composer/guitarist Tim Hunter creates a fresh sonic adventure (acoustic and electric) on his first all-instrumental album BLUE SKY MOMENTS. He celebrates a profound landscape-driven connection between his home region of North Yorkshire, England and the coastline of California, both boasting coastal vistas, stunning views and scenic paths. Hunter, shares his passion for pop, soul, smooth jazz, melodic techno, fiery blues and spirited rock by weaving them together to create moments of musical blue sky.
Ten years after winning a Lifetime Achievement Award from Billboard magazine, Grammy winning singer, songwriter, producer and musical and fashion trendsetter Jody Watley is still looking forward and feeling “The Passion.” Her sexy, dreamy new hypno-jazz/soul single is under the new group entity Jody Watley & SRL, which stands for “Soul. Revolution. Love.” These emotionally impactful elements infuse the musical vibe created by Watley, as well as legendary Italian producer/mixer Alex Di Cio and Levi Seacer, an original member of Prince & NPG, whose crisp, fluid guitar lines caress the singer’s vocals throughout this seductive track.
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!
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.
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.
With a nifty hipster moniker like “Motown Moe,” you know two things about this incredibly diverse and prolific keyboardist producer – that he’s from Detroit and he’s all about old school soul. WARM BREEZE, MM’s 14th album in ten years, is intimate, inviting and totally chill. The former sports nut and Air Force veteran surrounds his sweet key melodies and lush saxophone leads with dreamy ambience, seductive percussion textures and trippy effects to create a sultry laid-back soundscape.
Still swinging soulfully thirty years after launching his label Nealsight Records, pop, jazz and R&B influenced guitarist Leon Neal is still going strong with this new rhythmically romantic and funk-infused release, WE DANCE AT MIDNIGHT. Building on his already impressive international acclaim from radio stations, DJs and reviewers around the world, from Japan and the UK to Argentina, the multi-faceted musician enhances his seductive, mood setting, Wes Montgomery/Grant Green influenced vibe with rich, self-created production vibe including bass, drums, strings and special effects. Neal complements his groove intensive originals with fresh re-imaginings of classics by The Isley Brothers, Michael Jackson and Chick Corea.
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!
Exploring that sweet spot where gospel music meets Smooth Jazz, pianist, vocalist, piano instructor, vocal coach and radio personality, Ronnette Harrison follows up her 2014 debut with “Always There” – a graceful, passionate reminder that God is with us no matter how cruel and challenging life can be. Penned by Harrison and veteran urban jazz producer Chris “Big Dog” Davis, the track finds Harrison complementing those gorgeous, rangy vocals with her equally stunning keyboard talents.
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 eclectic array of musical styles on Urs Wiesendanger’s sixth album, the cleverly titled BREAKFAST IN PARIS, is no surprise considering the Swiss drummer, keyboardist and vocalist’s history as one of the most versatile arranger/producers in Europe. With Wiesendanger’s dynamic synth and spirited piano melodies leading the way, his tasty mix of pop, R&B, old school brassy funk and jazz vocals and instrumentals is uniquely fashioned as an homage to the Westcoast Pop of the 80s and 90s.