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Listening Loft : HOTPICKS

Rebecca Angel - Life Love Choices
Rebecca Angel
Life Love ChoicesTimeless Grooves Records

Hot off her hit sensual funk rendition of “For What It’s Worth,” the Vietnam era classic she slyly re-appropriated for contemporary times, New York based singer, songwriter and vocal interpreter extraordinaire Rebecca Angel makes her long-awaited full length album debut with the vibrant, multi-faceted LOVE LIFE CHOICES. Vibing with longtime collaborator, veteran keyboardist/producer Jason Miles, and some top-flight session cats, the sultry, easy flowing vocalist makes every track an intimate invitation to join her as she celebrates her recent marriage and artfully chronicles the pandemic and other important societal issues. The set includes  dynamic jazz, R&B and/or Brazilian tinged originals, exotic, atmosphere and groove-centered re-imaginings (of gems by Bill Withers, Bob Marley, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Sade) and a few memorable, previously released singles. 

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Günter Asbeck
Günter Asbeck
EvolveHousemaster Records

After years of serving as a sideman for the Smooth Jazz elite (Kirk Whalum, Brian Culbertson, Gerald Albright, et al), versatile German bassist and vocalist Gunter Asbeck emerges as a compelling and eclectic singer/songwriter with his debut album EVOLVE. Though he cites his bass heroes as Marcus Miller and Nathan East, Asbeck eschews the concept of a bass heavy collection, choosing to keep his axe as a supporting rhythmic instrument on mostly vocal tunes that run the gamut from smooth romantic pop, and edgy, classic styled rockers to easy flowing urban jazz (on two songs with saxman Will Donato) and even country. One of the standout songs, a stunning inspirational ballad featuring Selina Albright, seems perfectly suited as a beacon of light in these challenging times.  

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Sylvia Bennett - This Love Is Real
Sylvia Bennett
This Love Is RealOut of Sight Music

Years after discovering her, jazz legend Lionel Hampton exclaimed of Sylvia Bennett, “Man, that lady can sing! Her magic gets to the ears and the hearts of the audience.” The extraordinary, multi-talented Grammy nominated vocalist does just that once again on her exceptional new album THIS LOVE IS REAL. To the delight of Smooth Jazz fans, Bennett has been part of the genre for much of the new millennium, recording hits with Paul Brown and Rick Braun. Recent smashes featuring Nathan East and Arturo Sandoval lay the buoyant foundation of the new collection produced by Hal S. Batt, which finds Bennett artfully swinging from playful and whimsical to passionate and sensual as she brings smooth grooves and Latin-tinged twists to her all-time favorite subject… love!

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Patrick Bradley - Exhale
Patrick Bradley
ExhalePatricks Song Factory

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

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Vann Burchfield - Keep Pressing On
Vann Burchfield
Keep Pressing OnVann Burchfield

Though Vann Burchfield will forever be known as the ambitious saxophonist who broke Kenny G’s record for circular breathing (over 47 minutes!), that shouldn’t overshadow the amazing reality that, he’s closing in on 15 years as a renowned Smooth Jazz artist. The title of his latest album KEEP PRESSING ON – which is thematically consistent with the names of most of the tracks - says it all about his intention to offer us sparkling and soulful, rhythmically eclectic musical encouragement and optimism as we press forward through this difficult, anxious time. His blend of sultry and lyrical ballads, tight mid-tempo groovers and supercharged jamming funk takes us on a whirlwind journey that inspires reflection on where we’ve been and reminds us to keep the faith. 

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Butch and Rhonda Coleman - Moment Of Your Time
Butch and Rhonda Coleman
Moment Of Your TimeJeremee Records

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.   

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Dreaming In Colour - State & Main
Dreaming In Colour
State & MainDreaming In Colour LLC

Once heralded as the “Steely Dan of Smooth Jazz” by the European Jazz Press, Dreaming in Colour’s principal members Kevin Ellis (founder/bassist) and Chris Noonan (drums) have recorded over the years with the genre’s cream of the crop – including Nelson Rangell, Andy Snitzer, Eric Marienthal, Jeff Kashiwa, Jeff Lorber, Ken Navarro and the late Chuck Loeb. On their latest single, the buoyant, hypnotically percussive, tightly grooving and ultimately soaring “State and Main,” we’re treated to the richness of the group’s current core ensemble, which includes non-stop explosive solo action by saxophonist Jason Swagler, keyboardist Michael Scherer and guitarist Tom Byrne. The title of the spirited, high energy track refers to the intersection of everywhere USA, a dual musical link to the band’s storied past and bright future.    

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San Gabriel 7 - Time To Stay
San Gabriel Seven
Time To StayJRL-SGS

Still blazing trails, grooving hard and firing up their trademark sizzling horns more than 15 years after their launch by trombonist and JPL Spacecraft engineer Jim Lewis, the San Gabriel Seven’s latest album TIME TO STAY offers a prime showcase for the brilliant singing and songwriting of Andrea Miller – one of SoCal’s busiest and well-traveled vocalists and a Top 5 finalist in the International Sarah Vaughan Jazz Competition. The ten romantic minded songs she brings to the collection come to alternately silky/sensual and punchy/explosive life via the six-piece rhythm section and four-piece horn section’s vibrant rendering of Dave Cushman’s bright, emotionally impactful arrangements. Miller and her versatile cohorts infuse the genre-hopping journey with adventurous funk, dance, strutting R&B, sensual soul-pop, tender balladry and gritty soul/rock. Produced by Chris Gordon.

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Alvin Garrett - The Lightness Of Love
Alvin Garrett
The Lightness Of Love HILL Entertainment

A true pioneer of inspirational soul, Alvin Garrett has written and arranged for Joe, Kelly Rowland, Fantasia, Johnny Gill and many others. Nearly a decade into his solo career, the Grammy nominated, Soul Train, Dove and Stellar Award-winning R&B singer-songwriter keeps the musical flow smooth and soulful on his new album THE LIGHTNESS OF LOVE. The captivating collection of original tunes showcases Garrett’s signature blend of Sam Cooke, Luther Vandross and Al Green inspired vocal magic with fresh contemporary beats and engaging lyrics. In recent years, Garrett has lent his array of talents to The Write Life, an innovative songwriting therapy program he teaches with The Dannon Project, using music to teach life management skills, effective communication and other tools to help sculpt a new future. 

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Gil - Sometimes A Man
Gil
Sometimes A Mangilsings.com

In an inspirational video clip Gil Johnson (known professionally as Gil) posted while he was making his down deep soulful, heartfelt and uber-romantic debut album SOMETIMES A MAN, the Detroit based vocalist - reflecting on his recent retirement from the car business after 30 years to pursue his musical dreams – offered a sage piece of advice: “Don’t let age be the reason you didn’t give that one thing you’re passionate about at least an effort.” Gil blazes these personal trails with a set of sweet soaring ballads and easy grooving mid-tempo gems – plus a super funky piano driven, guitar soaring instrumental – produced by David Lee Spradley, renowned for his work with everyone from George Clinton and Stevie Wonder to Roy Ayers and Earl Klugh.    

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Chazzy Green - Let's Go Home
Chazzy Green
Let's Go Homechazzygreen.net

On his first album in five years, “The Funky Sax Man” Charles “Chazzy” Green reconnects with his longtime pal and collaborator Ray Parker Jr., among other top line urban jazz sidemen, to create the richly emotional, alternately punchy/funky and blissfully sensual collection LET’S GO HOME – whose title is a wink towards the reality of remote recording this past year while in lockdown. While renowned for wide-ranging skills on alto and tenor, the Detroit bred, Howard University educated musician – who has played and toured throughout his career with the likes of Howard Hewett, Montell Jordan, Macy Gray and Bobby Womack - showcases on a few infectious tracks his equally sparkling flute skills – a callback to Green’s early classical training which also included clarinet. 

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GTF - 3AM
GTF
Watch Your StepGTF Music

Still producing their 3rd full length album WATCH YOUR STEP for a 2021 drop, the dynamic Bay Area jazz ensemble GTF release “Prayer For Linda,” their 3rd single from the highly anticipated recording. Delivered in a dream, composer John Cain crafted a musical message just as he heard it for his friend and concert producer Linda, the jazzy Samba soundscape features John Rekevics’ sax playing along with the signature GTF, stress-free vibe that includes vocalese and the compelling guitar work of Richard Livoni, along with a feel-good low end powered by drummer Ron Otis, percussionist Juan Escovedo and band co-founder/bassist George Franklin.  “Prayer For Linda” unfolds like a beautiful, musical poem delivering another radio ready, Smooth Jazz smash for George & Tracy Franklin (GTF).

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Wayne Gutshall - Spicy!
Wayne Gutshall
Spicy!Spicy Music LLC

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!

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Skii Harvey - Broken
Skii Harvey
Brokenskiiharvey.com

Like a smooth whiskey, her vocals leave a little burn on the finish. Australia’s Skii Harvey dares to go deeper on her highly anticipated new album BROKEN. A story of heart break and all the ways we try to put our hearts back together. A journey through the darkest moments to the light that breaks the fog. Recognized by Billboard Music Awards, the UK Songwriting Awards, the L.A. Music Awards and a 3-time recipient of the Best Song Award by the Australian Songwriter’s Association, Skii is a lifelong singer/songwriter. She began her career huddled over an old upright piano squeezed into her mother’s small home in Sydney Australia, where their tiny porch had been converted into a makeshift bedroom. Follow Skii down this slope, listen to BROKEN track by track, and feel the magic of music move you, wholly!

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Reza Khan - Imaginary Road
Reza Khan
Imaginary RoadPainted Media LLC

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

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M'lynn - T.F.I.L. (Nate Harasim Remix)
M'Lynn
T.F.I.L. (Nate Harasim Remix)M'Lynn Music LLC

The acronym in the title from emerging indie soul singer/songwriter and pianist M’lynn’s new single “T.F.I.L.” (To Fall in Love) is what everyone has done with the tune, with over 400,000 Spotify plays and counting! The prolific Ms. M has taken the song to acclaimed, Grammy-nominated producer, Nate Harasim for a fresh reconsideration of the track and the result is breathtaking. Graduating from the Bruce Hornsby Creative American Music songwriter program at the Frost School of Music in Miami, M’Lynn is sure to turn heads with the fashionable remix of an otherwise smooth smash single! 

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Marion Meadows - Twice As Nice
Marion Meadows
Twice As NiceShanachie Entertainment

Smooth Jazz Superstar Marion Meadows is without question one of the most popular and unique talents on the jazz scene today. Blessed with movie star looks and the smoothest saxophone tone on the on the planet, Marion has sold over one million albums in his brilliant career. His constant string of radio hits and relentless touring have garnered legions of fans, and his appearances with such varied artists as The Temptations, Michael Bolton and Will Downing are a testament to his broad audience appeal. TWICE AS NICE is Marion's most intimate album to date. A sensuous journey through a soundscape of brilliant compositions and masterful improvisations. Produced by Jeff Lorber, Paul Brown and Chris “Big Dog” Davis and featuring special guest performances from Paul Brown and Joey Sommerville
 

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

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

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Tony Saunders - Sexy Somethin'
Tony Saunders
Sexy SomethinSan Francisco Records

Four years after his previous release, UPTOWN JAZZ, legendary Bay Area bassist, composer and producer Tony Saunders delivers on his stated promise to “make the best, most pleasurable and sensually satisfying album yet” with his perfectly titled, 4th studio release, SEXY SOMETHIN. Alternately bouncy and buoyant, his new original tracks are all infectiously melodic and fall into a groove-intensive pocket, from the kick off hit, the chart-topping cover of The Whispers’ “Rock Steady” to the final interlude. Yet true to the diversity of Saunders’ expansive resume, he infuses stylistic and thematic surprises. While grounding everything on his trademark deep bass tones and delivering sparkling solos, he invites a vibrant all-star cast to help execute his multi-faceted vision – including Nils, Jeff Ryan, Paul Jackson, Jr., Paul Brown, Marion Meadows and Jeff Lorber; co-produced by Tony, Nils and contemporary jazz star Gail Jhonson!

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Solex - Full Moon
Solex
Full Moonsolexmusic.com

A Minister of Music for over 25 years, versatile composer/keyboardist (and preacher’s son) Solomon Edmond (aka Solex) has also channeled all of his great gospel and funk spirit into a nearly 15-year career as a Smooth Jazz recording artist that includes two #1 UK hits! On his easy-flowing 8th album FULL MOON, Solex showcases his range of jazz skills as an artist and producer, offering an artful blend of gentle acoustic piano melodies with classic keyboards and fashionable production textures. While his infectious melodic and harmonic elements are front and center, he equally shines as a collaborator, featuring special guests on the project, including his cousin, gospel guitarist Jonathan Dubose, Jr., saxophonist Jason Gay and soul singer Tony (T-Mac) McLendon. We find it very easy to bask in this FULL MOON!

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Martin Trotman - Let's Begin
Martin Trotman
Let's BeginTrots Music

Martin Trotman has wowed ‘em at top venues in his native UK, worked with legendary Elton John guitarist Caleb Quaye and opened for Snarky Puppy and Nile Rodgers. Yet the multi-faceted composer, keyboardist and producer was so determined to become a solo artist on his own terms that he began playing in restaurants and hotels to fund the sessions that result now in LET’S BEGIN, his dazzling and adventurous, perfectly in the pocket debut. While drawing on the stirring energy of his gospel roots, Trotman stirs in vibrant, tightly grooving splashes of funk and jazz, dreamy atmospheric soul, sweet piano elegance and a lush showcase for his inviting lead vocals. Fans of Brian Culbertson and Oli Silk will find Trotman’s eclectic vibes and keyboard sparkle right up their alley.

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Urban Underground - World Peace
Urban Underground
World PeaceThe Urban Underground

So sonically intricate, expansive and innovative a concept in collective contemporary music production that its name is trademarked, Urban Underground® - masterminded and led by visionary Bay Area composer, bassist and producer Keith “KDubbs” Williams – offers a multi-faceted (electronic pop, chill hip-hop, urban and acid jazz) contemporary equivalent to classic big tent entities like Parliament and CTI Records. Their latest collection WORLD PEACE makes its case for global harmony through 20 adventurous tracks alternately filled with lush, sultry atmospheres, danceable funk, grittier grooves and infectious melodies and raps – all designed to showcase not simply Williams’ inspired genius but also the artistry of other regional urban music influencers. These include rapper Philasifer, smooth jazz group XPresshunz, funk keyboardist Mark “DreyKeyz” Brown, R&B vocalist Quimby and the dance/pop/chillout ensemble B KDragon. 

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Listening Loft : MUST HAVES

Jake Bass - The Jakey B. LP
Jake Bass
The Jakey B. LPBassment Sounds 2.0

Reshaping the music scene from Detroit, the young Jake Bass offers up a buoyant, groove-filled hipster collection of Smooth Jazz on his latest album THE JAKEY B. LP, featuring funk swirls of urban jazz and fiery guitar motifs along with hip-hop inflections and beats. True to his eclectic background, the Motor City native – who’s shared the stage with Ludacris, LL Cool J and Mitch Ryder and worked with everyone from Eminem to deaf hip-hop sensation Sean Forbes – seriously mixes up moods and styles, showcasing his vibrant piano, guitar, bass and edgy, rich production textures while vibing with fellow Detroit dude, acclaimed saxman Dave McMurray on his chart-topping single, “Cookin’ It Up.” 

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Bassmanegg - Star Of The Story
Bassmanegg
The Star Of The Storyadrianeggnorton.com

Since Adrian “Egg” Norton made the early switch from trumpet and tuba to bass, there’s been no stopping his mad cool genius, which has led the multi-talented musician to serve as Musical Director for Regina Belle and a two decade run as part of Washington DC contemporary jazz ensemble (and Capital Jazz Challenge winner) Phaze II. On “The Star of the Story,” his latest single under the nifty moniker Bassmanegg, he vibes dynamically with the soaring vocals of featured singer Karen Linette to bring a spirited, easy grooving energy and a fresh romantic perspective to a Heatwave disco-era classic.   

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

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

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New Day
Brettina
New Daysolo.to/brettina

After a year in quarantine, nothing says sunshine like the music of the islands – and no Smooth Jazz artist these days better captures that spirit of a NEW DAY than Brettina. The Nassau, Bahamas born singer releases her new EP and showcases her equal facility for dreamy, sensual romantic soul/jazz along with breezy vocalese and harmonies, danceable grooves and dynamic percussion patterns of her homeland – the latter vibe infused with folk acoustic guitar and vibrant steel pans! Brettina collaborated on this sexy, feel good project with multi-platinum Grammy nominated producer G’harah Degeddingseze. 

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Keisha Jackson Presents : Caregiver feat Chris 'Big Dog' Davis
Chris 'Big Dog' Davis
CaregiverKeisha L. Jackson

As we start to see daylight through the darkness of the pandemic, it’s the perfect time to pay musical homage to our paid and unpaid caregivers. Full of light funk and atmospheric grace, the silky, easy grooving piano and sax driven ballad, “Caregiver” is a beautiful and thoughtful collaboration between music industry legend, keyboardist/producer (and cancer survivor) Chris “Big Dog” Davis, and world-class musicians, and is inspired by executive producer/caregiver Keisha L. Jackson. Beyond the sultry soulful flow, track highlights include sparkling and colorful solo improvisations and hypnotic vocalizations.    

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Karen Devroop - Ancestral Home
Karen Devroop
Ancestral HomeKaren Devroop

With the release of his rhythmically eclectic, deeply melodic and wonderfully silky new album ANCESTRAL HOME, internationally renowned, South African saxophone giant Karen Devroop continues to bring his highly spirited, emotionally impactful horn vibes to the world of Smooth Jazz. Building off the momentum of his last album THE SOUTH AFRICAN JAZZ SONGBOOK – which was placed in over 80 of his country’s embassies worldwide – the set includes soaring and lively moments, sensuous balladry, light funk R&B grooves and balmy, freewheeling Latin jazz magic. It’s a joyful bundle that makes the perfect soundtrack for happy days and romantic nights.

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Dr. Dave and The Housecall Band - Midnight Daydream
Dr. Dave & The Housecall Band
Midnight DaydreamHatherill Records

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.

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Tracye Eileen - It's Time
Tracye Eileen
It's TimeHoney Crystal Records

Though her popular residency at Buddy Guy’s Legends club is currently on hold, there’s no stopping adventurous Chicago-based R&B/jazz singer Tracye Eileen from taking her budding career to the next level with her prophetically titled new EP, IT’S TIME. On first listen, the collection comes across as a set of intimate, easy grooving, soul-jazz. Dig deeper and you’ll discover an uplifting testament to a woman rising from heartbreak to pursue her own dreams. While seducing us with both intimacy and raw emotion, Tracye balances her R&B/jazz foundations with two renditions of her previously released, autobiographical song “Why Did I Say Yes?” – the original Brazilian light funk version and an expansive rollicking house mix that fuses dance, jazz and her dynamic passion for scat. 

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JS Floyd - Check The Forecast
JS Floyd
Check The ForecastForecast Music

After highly distinguished separate careers that collectively included collaborations with Holland-Dozier-Holland, The Supremes, Force MD’s, Jon B., Al B. Sure and New York’s Black Rock Coalition, brothers Jonathan (guitar) and Stafford (keyboards) pool their melodic and rhythmic genius as JS Floyd. Their dazzling, stylistically expansive debut CHECK THE FORECAST blends tasty Smooth Jazz and funk with touches of everything from rap and hip-hop to jazz fusion, and includes a rousing twist on a Ramsey Lewis classic. Their success at spreading musical joy in so many ways truly makes the case for their desire to be known as “The New Distinguished Gentlemen of Smooth Jazz.”  Visit JSFTV for JS Floyd Music TV!

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James Saxsmo Gates - Stepping Out
James Saxsmo Gates
Stepping Out804 Jazz

Closing in on 30 years as a recording artist, Richmond, VA based saxophonist James Saxsmo Gates offers timely words of wisdom to accompany his sonically bold, sweetly sensual and intensely funked-out new album STEPPING OUT. The Founder of the Dr. Billy Taylor Jazz Studies Program at Virginia State University writes, “Together we can make it if… we Keep Jazz Alive!” Six years in the making, the faith-driven project pairs Gates’ steamy, igniting horn fire with a batch of multi-talented collaborators (including guitarists Alan Parker and Freddie Fox) to create the perfect party mix of anthem-like originals and soulful pop covers.

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Roberta Gentile - Bring It On
Roberta Gentile
Bring It OnSplash Blue

Catching wind of emerging vocalist Roberta Gentile after her appearance on a TV show in her native Italy, Incognito founder Bluey Maunick invited her to perform with his jazz/funk collective on tour in Japan. This quickly led to his producing her debut album BRING IT ON, a sparkling and soulful, rhythmically diverse slate of jazz/R&B ballads and light funk gems that showcase her gently intimate, Norah Jones like grace and darker, edgier, Amy Winehouse-influenced vocal instincts. While deliciously backed by supergroup Incognito and a lush, 20-piece orchestra, Roberta’s most impactful moments are in the sparser arrangements that allow her many shades of heartfelt emotion to shine through. 

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Quintin Gerard - Cleared For Takeoff
Quintin Gerard W
Cleared For TakeoffOTS Music

On his remarkable concept album CLEARED FOR TAKEOFF, veteran saxophonist Quintin Gerard W draws on his lifelong love for aviation and soaring passions for funk, soul, gospel, blues and jazz to create an inspirational journey filled with sonic images of flying, exotic destinations and the deep spiritual places in his heart. Driven by his empowering melodic horn leads, the multi-talented artist, composer and producer entwines his intuitive sense of sensuality with old school sensibilities, varying tempos, atmospheres and instrumental and vocal harmony.  

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

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

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James Kahu - Everything
James Kahu
Everythingjameskahu.com

Born in New Zealand and a veteran of the Royal New Zealand Navy, bassist and pop/soul/jazz vocalist extraordinaire James Kahu is well known in his homeland for his six string, fretless, left handed bass with unique carvings – the only one of its kind there. Already popular via radio airplay in NZ, Australia, the UK and throughout Europe, the versatile, stylish artist brings his breezy vocal coolness to the U.S. Smooth Jazz scene with “Everything,” a warm-hearted, infectious mid-tempo declaration of love that showcases his sterling lead voice and fanciful way with colorful harmonies.

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Ron King - Downtown Mama
Ron King
Downtown MamaKing Sounds Records

If you dig Rick Braun, you’ll welcome veteran trumpeter Ron King’s picture-perfect Smooth Jazz debut album DOWNTOWN MAMA with open arms ready to sway and groove. Drawing on a decades-long resume filled with everyone from Frank Sinatra and Marvin Gaye to David Benoit and Jeff Lorber, King and producer Paul Brown fire up the old school, soul-jazz cool and the stylish horn textures while keeping the silk and funk (and a touch of fiery big band energy) flowing. King complements his bright infectious originals with colorful twists on classics by David Sanborn and The Rolling Stones! 

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

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

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Keith Mason - I Surrender All
Keith Mason
I Surrender Allkeithamason.com

A versatile bass player for an astonishing 45 years, Keith Mason’s life has been dedicated to and defined by his passion for two things that make his latest album I SURRENDER ALL an emotionally impactful and spiritually edifying delight – music and the Lord. With a Christian Smooth Jazz sound incorporating his love for jazz, R&B, funk and gospel, he showcases his poppin’ basslines in the service of a cool yet rhythmically punchy flow that reflects a rich anointing and some truly amazing grace. The collection was inspired by Mark 8:36 (“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”) and his titles are all expressions of his faith… the thoughtful, inviting and exuberant vibes have been Crafted to lift you up spiritually and engage you intellectually. 

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Paul Messina - Nightwalk
Paul Messina
NightwalkGVAP Music

Hot off THE BIGGER PICTURE, his multi-faceted 2019 dual album with bassist Mark R. Harris, multi-talented veteran flutist and saxophonist Paul Messina stirs up a similarly stylistically eclectic mix on his latest solo album NIGHTWALK. The engaging collection finds the Miami-based artist tapping into his freewheeling passions for funky jazz fusion, balmy Caribbean, Latin and Brazilian, exotic Eastern tinged sounds and magic and lyrical and mystical atmospheric chill-jazz. While alternating between his muscular sax and virtuosic flute – sometimes playfully blending them on a single track – Messina and Platinum and Gold record winning producer/engineer Gary Vandy create their unique sonic world using synths and MIDI programming to artfully manipulate sound. 

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Kenny Polson - Colors Of Brazil
Kenney Polson
Colors Of BrazilRosetta Records

Veteran jazz saxophonist Kenney Polson was born in Kansas City and lives in the Pacific Northwest, but the wild, bustling Carnival joy emanating from his horn and a sizzling array  of exotic grooves and international instruments on COLORS OF BRAZIL pay homage to the five formative years he spent living and performing in the Ipanema neighborhood of Rio. Alternating between the rhythms of excitement and romantic, balmy bossa nova, Polson’s deeper global vision as a well-traveled musical citizen of the world includes stellar guest performances by guitarist Leni Stern, harpist Mariea Antoinette and koto greats Osamu Kitajima and Mitsuki Dazai. 

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Ken Powe - Steppin'
Ken Powe
Steppin'Ken Powe Music

Coinciding with the release of his high spirited, melodically sparkling and deeply grooving 5th album STEPPIN’, veteran keyboardist, composer and producer Ken Powe recently published a book exploring the possibilities of our visions and dreams being divine experiences. Smooth Jazz fans checking out the array of moods and grooves by this vibrationally in tune spiritual and musical explorer may truly feel they’ve entered an urban dreamscape full of colorful and trippy atmospheric textures, eclectic rhythms and dazzling, dramatic ivory runs – all of which draw from Powe’s mult-faceted background in jazz, gospel, R&B, pop and classical music.  

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Danny Rae - Enough For Me
Danny Rae
Enough For MeMaddy J Music

California songsmith and vocalist, Danny Rae celebrates the release of her full album ENOUGH FOR ME on February 19, a compelling collection of musical snapshots of life and love. Despite the age of the young troubadour, her personally penned songs drip of emotion and meaning that speaks to anyone who has braved relationships, self-awareness and healing. Produced by two-time Emmy winning bassist Tony Saunders, this soul-stirring, profound pop can’t help but dip its toe into contemporary jazz with exquisite musicianship and production values. With three previous charting singles, and the latest, “Too Many Sorries,” the highly anticipated album, ENOUGH FOR ME, surely will be enough for a short while before the world demands more Danny Rae!

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Jim Richter - Mr. Kool
Jim Richter
Mr. KoolJamesland Music Management, LLC

Celebrating a multi-faceted, on and off five-decade career that’s found him playing blues, pop/rock and traditional jazz, classically trained guitarist Jim Richter made his SmoothJazz.com debut in 2019 with the impressive, Smooth Jazz charting album BREEZY DAY. This is the killer follow-up collection to his successful entry into the genre. MR. KOOL is infused with a multitude of vibes and grooves – from light funk and punchy pop/rock to dreamy ballads, driving rock jams and blues-fired romps – this collection may remind you of the high spirited, freewheeling way contemporary jazz soared in the 80s and 90s.    

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Les Sabler - Tranquility
Les Sabler
TranquilityNew Vista Records

Launching his fourth decade as a recording artist, Les Sabler brings a dynamic new guitar sound to TRANQUILITY, his first album in four years, thanks to a brilliant suggestion by his producer, fellow guitarist and urban jazz hitmaker and Double Grammy winner, Paul Brown. Brown recommended that Sabler switch from his longtime axe to Brown’s vintage Gibson Johnny Smith model – an electric with unique acoustic qualities and an intricate balance of tone and sustain. Working with Brown’s longtime rhythm section and the punchy horns of Lee Thornburg and Greg Vail, Sabler brings fresh vibrancy, fluidity and sparkle to his trademark super melodic, coolly infectious mid-tempo style. 

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Kevin Stevenson - Talk To Me
Kevin Stevenson
Talk To Mekevinstevensonmusic.com

Veteran NYC based drummer Kevin Stevenson keeps the vibe of his adopted hometown hoppin’ via the elegant and sparkling melody and spirited, strutting funk of “Talk to Me” – the follow up to his high energy debut Smooth Jazz single “Movin’.” Stevenson, who has worked on Broadway productions, in TV and film and shared stages with everyone from Take 6 to Marion Meadows, keeps the conversation flowing vibrantly with some of the city’s top veteran musicians - including pianist Matt Carvin, saxman Jordan Pettay (who carries the deeply infectious melody), bassist Kevin Ellis and guitarists Bill White and Phil Hamilton. 

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Noteworthy Band - Sweet Breeze
The Noteworthy Band
Sweet Breeze Independent

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

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The Sax Therapist - Sax Therapy for your Mind, Body & Soul
The Sax Therapist
Sax Therapy For Your Mind, Body & SoulZatjazz Records

Just in time to celebrate Mother’s Day – and perhaps a long-awaited complement to Horace Silver’s iconic jazz classic “Song for My Father” - veteran Chicago saxophonist Traysee J Leonard (aka The Sax Therapist) lifts all our spirits and celebrates moms everywhere, every day with “Song For My Mother,” a soaring, high octane, light funk single driven by Leonard’s singular  horn voice and sizzling horn textures. Collaborating with producer Chieli Minucci of Special EFX – who adds a powerhouse electric guitar solo – the jazz and gospel influenced artist also pays personal homage to his mother, who sadly passed away at an early age. 

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Audrey Turner - I'm Here
Audrey Turner
I'm Hereaudreyturnermusic.com

Onetime Ikette and lead singer for her legendary late husband Ike, the alternately sultry and guttural voiced jazz/blues singer Audrey Turner follows her last single, a rousing take on Billie Holiday’s provocative classic “Strange Fruit,” with I’M HERE, an album chock-full of blues and R&B classics (and a few originals) that allow her to strut her high intensity yet heartbreakingly romantic emotional stuff. The set rolls like a narrative through blues and soul history as Turner immerses in the genius of everyone from Holiday, Big Mama Thornton and Janis Joplin to Elmore James and Otis Redding.  

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Markus Zahrl - A World Of Bliss
Markus Zahrl
A World Of Blissmarkuszahrl.com

On a roll since his multi-faceted 2020 EP CELTIC DANCE scored three Top Ten singles on SmoothJazz.com’s Listener Countdown Chart, Austrian saxophonist Markus Zahrl counters a troubled and anxiety filled world with a more hopeful, life celebrating vision – A WORLD OF BLISS – on his full-length debut. The well-traveled arranger, composer and music educator, who studied at the Conservatory of Vienna as well as Berklee, tones down the exotica and global vibes to focus on hard-hitting pocket funk grooves and all sorts of melodic sax madness and whimsy. Zahrl wraps with a stunning ballad that showcases his dreamy, romantic side.   

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Listening Loft : ESSENTIALS

Mindi Abair - The Best Of Mindi Abair
Mindi Abair
The Best Of Mindi AbairPretty Good for Girl

Celebrating 21 years since her breakthrough Smooth Jazz album IT JUST HAPPENS THAT WAY,  two-time Grammy nominated saxophonist, singer and songwriter Mindi Abair puts a dynamic twist on the “greatest hits” concept with her 19-track retrospective THE BEST OF MINDI ABAIR. She includes radio edits of her biggest hits, a vocal track from her 2000 debut album, a previously unreleased track featuring Booker T. Jones, songs with her blues/rock band The Boneshakers and collaborations featuring Keb’ Mo’, Joe Bonnamassa and Gregg Allman – plus a brand new single! 

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Carol Albert - Stronger Now
Carol Albert
Stronger NowCAHARA

On her latest, perfectly titled album STRONGER NOW, pianist/composer Carol Albert takes us on a soaring, optimistic journey reflective of the own spiritual/emotional breakthroughs she has made in the wake of great personal loss. Written and recorded in the period after the sudden death of her husband, the deeply soulful, wondrously soaring collection – featuring elements of grand orchestration and five tracks produced by Paul Brown – reflects a buoyant spirit set free from pain after a time of intense personal struggle.  

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Brad Alexander - Straight Up
Brad Alexander
Straight UpBCB Entertainment

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

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Balance 9 - Inside Out
Balance9
Inside OutJoydoe Music Publishing

Taking a progressive, artsy and multi-faceted approach to urban jazz, veteran composer/musician Tracy M and composer/saxophonist APJ – collectively known as Balance9 – infuse their sonically trippy but always infectious debut INSIDE OUT with their love for what they call “all 9 elements of composition.” Though the overriding aim of their hybrid SyntheticJazzySoul vibe is to forge a path toward a healing era of instrumental music, the duo’s innovative sonic textures and dynamic sense of groove also opens doors along the way to some playful urban jazz funk.

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Pat Belliveau - Lakeview Drive
Pat Belliveau
Lakeview DriveBellTones Music

With the release of his robustly played, midtempo funk/rock driven jazz single “Lakeview Drive,” Pat Belliveau adds blazing saxophone fire to a fascinating career that includes performing with jazz and soul legends (Herbie Hancock, Harry Connick, Jr., Temptations), playing for three Canadian Prime Ministers and teaching sax and improvisation at Ambrose University in Calgary and formerly at the University of Calgary. The new single takes a nostalgic look back at and is a tribute to the street Belliveau grew up on, where his family lived for over 30 years! 

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Zach Bridges - First Fruits
Zach Bridges
First FruitsZafacom Records

From the album name to the song titles, we intuit the spiritual Source of the deeply soulful, alternately meditative and playfully funky piano melodies on Zach Bridges’ engagingly infectious and seductive EP FIRST FRUITS. Drawing from his extensive background as a church organist, choir director and choir singer, the Brooklyn born, South Carolina raised composer/musician playfully infuses his breezy urban coolness with adventurous organ and synth runs and even some explosive jazz fusion guitar.   

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Brother Reggie - Undercover Brother
Brother Reggie
Undercover Brother Vol. 2: Just UsNo-Sweat Records

A beloved fixture on the DC Metro area scene for years, singer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Brother Reggie – who has performed with everyone from Angela Winbush to Jeffrey Osborne – follows his 2019 first volume of his unfolding UNDERCOVER BROTHER series with the equally inviting UNDERCOVER BROTHER VOL. 2: JUST US. Touching us with a silky caress of multi-generational soul, Brother Reggie graces us with warm, sensual re-imaginings of old school ballad jams by the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire, Floetry, Atlantic Starr, LTD, Ohio Players and Isley Brothers. One listen and you’ll discover why he is the UnderCover Boss of beautiful soul songs lost.

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Evan Carydakis - Groove House
Evan Carydakis
Groove Houseevancarydakis.com.au

A quarter century after taking the stage for the first time as a saxophonist, Melbourne, Australia born, University of New England educated Evan Carydakis makes his first foray into Smooth Jazz with the perfectly titled debut EP GROOVE HOUSE, a fiery, funky, hard-edged yet ultra-melodic and at times balmy and exotic romp that celebrates his family in a variety of ways. Co-written and produced by Evan’s twin brother Stephan, the collection is an homage to the work ethic and selfless love of their parents, who made their successful careers possible. 

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Carol Duboc - Restless
Carol Duboc
RestlessGold Note Music, Inc.

Music veteran, Carol Duboc returns with her collaborative partner, Grammy-winning producer and keyboardist Jeff Lorber on her 9th release, RESTLESS. Lorber has been supporting the prolific songwriter’s ventures since her debut solo album DUBOC in 2002. The dynamic relationship reaches new creative heights, as RESTLESS is an extraordinary blend of killer old school vibes, sparkling solos and soulful vocals with compelling lyrical narratives. Featuring legendary flutist Herbert Laws, guitarist Paul Jackson Jr, and drummer Gary Novak. The best Duboc yet!

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Billy Evans - Colorful Groove
Billy Evans
Colorful GrooveJanish Music

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

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Sonny Fairley - Like Sonny
Sonny Fairley
Like Sonny7even Sounds Music Entertainment Group

A legendary force as a Bay Area music educator, mentor and program director for decades, well- traveled veteran saxophonist Sonny Fairley is so confident in his trademark groove and intensive vibe that he titled his album LIKE SONNY. Having opened for a wide range of Smooth Jazz and R&B greats, Fairley brings years of those inspirations to a spirited, melodically infectious new album, infused with free-spirited funk, heartfelt balladry, jazzy hip-hop cool, atmospheric soul-jazz as well as bits of flute and vibraphone whimsy… just like Sonny.

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Louie Fitzgerald - Master Peace
Louie Fitzgerald
Master PeaceStratophonics Music Group, LLC

Since resuming his recording career after a ten year break in 2020, multi-faceted Tennessee-based composer, keyboardist and producer Louie Fitzgerald has been on an unstoppable ultra-melodic and easy grooving streak, releasing three full length albums – including his latest, the cleverly titled MASTER PEACE. A master of infectious, feel-good compositions, the well-traveled musical veteran plays every instrument, keeping his piano up front while adding synth colors and gospel-tinged organ harmonies, in addition to bass and drums. Reminiscent of Bob James’ stylings, MASTER PEACE will help you master peacefulness with the album’s cool grooves and soulful vibes!

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Ghost Jazz Trio - Invisible Time
Ghost Jazz Trio
Invisible TimeGhost Jazz Trio

Although San Diego based guitarist James Morgan formed his dynamic (and mysteriously named) Ghost Jazz Trio to create a unique genre he calls “ambient jazz,” their debut album INVISIBLE TIME is far more than laid back, background music. Morgan creates a brief but eclectic and spirited journey that includes elements of vibrant R&B/funk, traditional jazz swing, exotic percussion and intricate jazz playing that complement the moments of easy flowing coolness. 

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Tony Lindsay - Life Partner
Tony Lindsay
Life PartnerRecords DK

It’s doubtful that anyone will ever start a rave of a new Tony Lindsay single or album without mentioning his extraordinary 25 years, 11 Grammys and world tours as frontman for Santana. Yet that may ultimately become a glory-filled footnote if the multi-talented singer/songwriter keeps coming up with transcendent tracks like his latest single “Life Partner” – an exuberant, ultra-infectious romantic declaration he creates with the help of some high-octane, horn textures, a chorus of backing vocals and the funky sax punch of Tom Politzer, lead saxophonist for Tower Of Power. 

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Nex Lev'l Band - Got My Top Down
Nex Lev'l Band
Got My Top DownNex Lev'l Band

If you’re a longtime fan of Pieces of a Dream, you’ll love GOT MY TOP DOWN, the fresh new album by Baltimore urban jazz outfit Nex Lev’l Band. Driven by the deep funk grooves of founder/drummer Morris "Pinky" Harris, also known as Mr. Pocket Himself and bassist Ernest Rahim. The vibrant, high octane opening title track ignites the stack with a dazzling melodic and improvisational piano flow by world-class pianist Dawoud Said. The project also features Pieces' saxophonist Eddie Baccus, Jr. The album has spun off several radio-friendly hits that have been played on stations around the world. Don't miss this smooth blend of upbeat contemporary jazz served with style and excitement!

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Evelyn Rubio - Crossing Borders
Evelyn Rubio
Crossing BordersSoSouth

A powerhouse multi-talent and true musical citizen of the world, vocalist, songwriter, multi-saxophonist and onetime dancer and actor, Evelyn Rubio was born in Mexico City and has performed in the U.S., Canada and throughout Europe. Truly living up to the title of her latest album CROSSING BORDERS, her generous 15 track collection is a stylistically eclectic whirlwind that equally showcases her blistering bilingual brilliance as a blues rocker and her sultry and emotional magic as an emerging Smooth Jazz performer.   

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Richard Smith - Let's Roll
Richard Smith
Let's RollChillharmonic Music

After a ten-year U.S. recording hiatus, there’s plenty to celebrate with the release of guitarist Richard Smith’s “Let’s Roll,” the recent cancer survivor’s exuberant, playfully grooving, super summery and life embracing new single – a co-write with hit guitarist (and former student of Smith’s at USC) Adam Hawley featuring the singular punchy sax of Jeff Kashiwa. The title was Smith’s response each day when his medical team asked if he was ready to start the latest rounds of chemo, radiation and experimental protocols to battle neck cancer and save his life. 

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Erin Stevenson - CoverGurl Uncovered
Erin Stevenson
CoverGurl Uncoverederinstevensonmusic.com

A 2020 Indie Soul People’s Choice Award Winner and former background singer for the likes of Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson and Duran Duran, Houston songstress Erin Stevenson continues her emergence with a sultry and sensual yet emotionally urgent twist on Des’ree’s 1990s hit “Gotta Be” – a track from her forthcoming EP COVERGURL UNCOVERED.  Fashioning purposeful female empowerment, Stevenson vibes dynamically with genre stars Althea Rene (flute) and Mariea Antoinette (harp), who add transcendent touches of whimsy and dreaminess to the mix. 

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The Moore Twins - Feels So Good
The Moore Twins
Feels So GoodLounge Renown Records

Not since the emergence of The Braxton Brothers has the urban side of Smooth Jazz been so graced with the kind of brotherly love and sensual, funky magic as we’re hearing now from The Moore Twins. Their perfectly titled, buoyant and bouncy hit, “Feels So Good,” features the Chicago born, Huntsville AL based Jeremiah (bass) and John III (keyboards) as they stir up some silky soul and totally in the pocket jazzy joy with help from guest saxophonist Adrian Crutchfield’s explosive horn energy. One listen will have you feeling so good!

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