- Patrick Bradley
- Patricks Song Factory
- Briggs & Dozier
- Burning Fire
- APO Productions
- Karen Devroop
- Ancestral Home
- Karen Devroop
- Leonard Dozier
- Cineplay Productions
- Sidewalk Sequel
- Sometimes A Man
- Caught In The Groove
- Baja/TSR Records
- Les Sabler
- New Vista Records
- Tony Saunders
- Sexy Somethin
- San Francisco Records
- Ilya Serov
- Just Friends
- Silky Sound Records
- Audrey Turner
- Strange Fruit
- John William - Flautist
- Melodic Ascension
- John William, Flautist LLC
Listening Loft : HOTPICKS
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!
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.
As you find yourself seduced by Kimberly Brewer’s sultry vocals and delightful ‘Quiet Storm’ ballad vibe of her new single “Just That Sweet to Me,” you may wonder why you’ve never heard her before. Actually you have, and for decades, primarily as Stevie Wonder’s longtime backup singer (and on a hit duet he did with Whitney Houston), but also serving in the same capacity on tour and/or in the studio with everyone from Earth, Wind & Fire and Elton John to Boney James, Will Downing, Vanessa Williams and Teena Marie. Her long-awaited emergence onto center stage with this smooth, neo soul ballad is made all the more impactful by Walter Beasley’s sweet whimsical saxophone harmonies and solo!
A powerhouse force in Smooth Jazz since his 2007 debut, Vann Burchfield’s bio will always boast his distinction of setting a Guinness world record for circular breathing and surpassing former champ Kenny G, since Guinness has given him the title for life with the removal of that skillset from the list. Never one to shrink from a challenge and overcome the odds, the versatile Birmingham, AL based saxophonist makes a powerful statement with “Keep Pressing On,” the lead single from his upcoming album of the same name. Using an irrepressible funk groove, instantly catchy lead melody, rich improvisations and spirited low to high note dynamics, Burchfield emphatically urges us to stay focused on the current moment while envisioning a bright future – no matter what’s going on around us right now. It’s a timely message from a truly timeless artist.
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.
Given his stage name CTK by his mentor, legendary former Earth, Wind & Fire guitarist Al McKay, trumpeter, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Clarence T. Kyle perpetuates that group’s style of old school groovin’ soul/funk and builds on the era’s classic horn-fired vibe on his latest album THE 2ND COMING. A musical gumbo for the soul, with Smooth Jazz, R&B, and hip hop, CTK pulls off the remarkable feat of creating instrumental music that tells his personal story. He invites listeners into his multi-faceted life with memorable tunes dedicated to his father-in-law, his recently departed mother, trips to Japan and fond memories of his early childhood in Rhode Island and attending the Newport Jazz Festival.
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.
A few months after gifting us with THE AWAKENING, a socially conscious EP addressing our collective anxiety and the spirit of social unrest, Alvin Garrett offers much-appreciated light at the end of the tunnel with the warm-hearted, soulful ballad “My Gift to You.” From the Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter’s upcoming THE LIGHTNESS OF LOVE (LOL) album, this first single is a sexy-smooth, holiday time tune, spotlighting passionate, soul-deep vocals and heartfelt lyric writing. A renowned R&B/gospel songwriter who has worked with Joe, Fantasia, Kelly Rowland, Johnny Gill and Ruben Studdard, Garrett has extended his talents as a wordsmith to The Write Life, an innovative songwriting therapy program that uses music to teach life management skills, effective communication and other tools to help sculpt their future.
While gearing up for their post-COVID 2021 album release, WATCH YOUR STEP, the dynamic R&B/jazz ensemble GTF deliver another captivating single in advance of their full project. Following on the heels of their chart-dominating vocal “Some Things Happen,” the new tune is an instrumental offering, “3AM.” Truly the embodiment of this seductive time of day… the crossover between late night and never, never land; sensual, earthy, beguiling. Featuring a Northern and Southern California collective of players, “3AM” is graced with the alluring guitar playing of the song’s composer, Richard Livoni, and the haunting sax work of John Rekevics, both complementing GTF’s signature low end landscape provided by drummer Ron Otis and band co-founder/bassist George Franklin.
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!
From his childhood touring with his six siblings as the A-Boys (later A7) to sharing stages with Al Green, Aretha Franklin, John Legend and H.E.R. singer/songwriter, actor and philanthropist Alex Harris has been setting the stage for his uplifting and empowering debut EP FREQUENCY. Drawing on his gospel background and bringing blues and classic R&B into his hybrid New Age Soul revival vibe, he lends his silk and grit vocals to a tasty, purposeful fusion of romance, social consciousness, spirituality and driving freedom anthems on a level perhaps not seen since Marvin Gaye. His multi-faceted educational background (including a Ph.D in organizational leadership) and running the Arts Conservatory for Teens ensure insights into the human condition that will surely help fuel an extraordinary solo career.
After a way too long nine-year recording hiatus, Swedish born, NYC based singer/songwriter Anders Holst brings his sensually romantic vibes and poetic juice back to Smooth Jazz with his inspiring new album ENDLESSLY. While elegantly produced by Grammy Award winner Gordon Chambers, with beguiling string arrangements and soaring backing vocals, the pop/soul/jazz oriented collection is grounded by a live ensemble featuring keyboardist Shedrick Mitchell, guitarist Sherrod Barnes, and saxophonists Peck Almond and Andreas “Pastorn” Andersson. Holst muses on various aspects of love via inviting originals and spirited re-imaginings of Kem’s “Heaven,” a delicious duet with Sy Smith on George Michael's "Cowboys and Angels," as well as paying homage to Stevie Wonder in an intimate, string-laden rendition of "All I Do."
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!
True to the title of his latest can’t miss, in the pocket collection of radio-friendly gems and otherworldly sonic delights, guitarist, composer and producer Nils has been happily CAUGHT IN THE GROOVE as one of Smooth Jazz’s premiere hitmakers and producers for over 15 years. Yet for the artist and his usual crew – including horn player and arranger Johnny Britt and vocalist Clydene Jackson - the easy funk flow is merely the launching pad for a multi-faceted experience. Nils complements his trademark crisp pop/soul/funk vibes with more ambient, atmospheric experimentation and deeper jazz musings with master pianist and Rhodes player Mitchel Forman. One listen and you too will be CAUGHT IN THE GROOVE!
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.
The BAKERS DOZEN referenced in the title of keyboardist Walter Runge’s adventurous, funked to the max and intensely slammin’ debut not only refers to the set list of 13 tunes, but is also a loving homage to his German immigrant grandfather Opa – a baker and musician who imparted his passion for music. That legacy found expression over the years in critically acclaimed cover bands, blues, rock, jazz and gospel groups – all of which gives Runge a broad, high-octane palette of rock, R&B, urban jazz, George Dukesque jazz fusion and experimental vibes to draw from. This collection has a vintage vibe that is sure to appeal to jazz hipsters and contemporary jazz lovers around the world.
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!
It’s telling that singer Zoe Scott includes a sensual version of a Chrissie Hynde / Pretenders hit among other pop and Brazilian classics on SHADES OF LOVE, her exquisite, breezy and lushly produced album of bossa nova. The London-born recording artist found great success as an edgy rock n’ roller for years before the Brazilian jazz bug bit her and challenged her to be more emotionally vulnerable and in tune with what she calls “life in the quiet spaces.” Adding to the magic and charm of Scott’s soul-stirring transformation into an interpreter of subtlety and seduction, are Brazilian-born multi-Grammy and Latin Grammy winning producer Moogie Canazio and bossa legends, including guitarist and arranger Torcuato Mariano and pianist/singer Daniel Jobim, grandson of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Brava!
Encapsulating the carefree days of summer, guitarist Will Sumner, delivers a brand new original collection ranging from coast-driving Smooth Jazz and slow grooves to exciting Latin rhythms on RIDE THE WAVE. The prolific, Southern California composer follows the lead of similarly, beachy themed collections, such as COAST DRIVE, PIER GROOVE and the craftily titled ENDLESS SUMNER. Drawing on an eclectic background that includes performing with Prince and Yanni and composing symphonies, Sumner infuses his signature sound of sensual rhythms and hypnotic melodies with a variety of genres and textures including blues licks and steel pans. RIDE THE WAVE concludes with a rock and soul tinged vocal take on a patriotic classic that will light up the 4th of July!
Listening Loft : MUST HAVES
Best known for his 1986 #1 pop/R&B hit “Shake You Down,” groove balladeer Gregory Abbott’s new single “Chill” – his first recording in nearly a decade – offers sage advice for these troubled times in the most engaging, rhythmically seductive way possible. Over a slow, simmering groove, the singer wraps his soulful vocals and uplifting lyrics about not worrying with horn section punch, gospel-tinged female backing vocals, and – most exciting of all – Gerald Albright’s inimitable sax harmony and emotional soloing. A welcome visit from a cherished musical friend, “Chill” is the perfect anthem to vibe to as we head into 2021!
Though you’ll only be singing actual lyrics to the title track of emerging German keyboardist Amandus’ sparkling, playfully melodic, rambunctiously grooving debut Smooth Jazz album SING A SONG, you’ll find yourself humming along with, and tapping your feet to his wildly infectious instrumentals within a listen or two. After establishing himself as a theatre and cabaret performer and touring with UK greats like Paul Young and Midge Ure, Michael Amandus Quast graces us with a colorful fusion of smooth sizzle, as well as improvisational, impactful ensemble action with guitar, sax and horns that are sure to draw favorable comparisons to Brian Culbertson and Jeff Lorber.
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.”
Impassioned R&B vocalist Terry Briggs (Ohio Players, Cheryl Lynn) and versatile guitarist Fletcher Dozier Jr. (Martha Reeves, Arrested Development) bring years of world traveling with icons to BURNING FIRE, and in Briggs’ case, performing as a member of the Four Tops in a touring production of “Motown Magic.” Their infectious and funky, aptly titled debut album as Briggs & Dozier, draws on their individual experience with countless legacy artists, as the duo forges an empowering future for contemporary Urban / Smooth Jazz, soul and R&B with a rhythmically diverse set that includes buoyant dance floor grooves, infectious rhythms, spirited guitar and seductive balladry.
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.
From his Broadway World nomination for Best Actor to his notoriety as an important voice for NFL Films and success as a recording artist, R&B-influenced singer-songwriter Leonard Dozier’s creative expression knows no limits. With stunning atmospheric production by Chris “Big Dog” Davis, his latest single “Sheltered In With You,” from the forthcoming album RESET, is more than simply a wonderfully lush, romantic duet showcasing his velvety vocals paired with singer Tamira Charone. It also acknowledges this challenging era of pandemic and quarantine while offering a hopeful and bright side for lovers, making the most of their extended time together.
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.
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.
Launching a successful musical career after 30 years in the automotive business, Detroit-based vocalist Gil keeps the romance of his first single, a lush re-imagining of Gino Vanelli’s “Keep on Walking,” with the equally tender and heartfelt “Wishful Thinking.” This vocal adaptation of his longtime friend Earl Klugh’s popular mid 1980’s instrumental song, features lyrics penned by Gil that speak to the spirit of hope amidst ongoing uncertainty. The singer’s gorgeous, soaring, Luther Vandross-esque voice is surrounded by the sweet, lyrical caress of Klugh’s full band, including chart-topping, saxophonist Tom Braxton.
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.
Multi-talented R&B/jazz vocalist Paulette McWilliams started her solo career in 2002 but you may be more familiar with her versatility and exquisiteness gracing hits for the likes of Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, David Bowie and Celine Dion. True to its autobiographical title, her latest album A WOMAN’S STORY presents – in addition to a few heartfelt originals - lush, dreamy, rhythmically engaging and easy swinging re-imaginings of hits and obscure gems by many of the artists she has worked with throughout her fascinating journey (Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross) as well as classics by Janis Ian, Joni Mitchell and Kenny Rankin. This woman’s story is revealing one of today’s most illustrious jazz singers.
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.
Five years after promising us a sultry and funky Digital Future, multi-instrumentalist (piano, keys, bass, drums) and all-around music industry veteran Herb Partlow takes his game to the NEXT LEVEL with the release of this innovative collection of deep grooves and smooth flows. Partlow generates jazz for a new generation with a proprietary blend of funk, hip hop and contemporary jazz. This creative artist knows how to harness today's hottest vibes to compose and produce attention-grabbing music that he releases on his own Superb Muzic label. Take your evening chill session and weekend soundtrack to the NEXT LEVEL with this atmospheric, Smooth Jazz gem. Music for our modern times!
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.
Nipping at the heels of her 2021 full album release, California singer-songwriter, Danny Rae drops the title track, “Enough For Me.” Produced by two-time Emmy winning bassist Tony Saunders, this soul-stirring, vocal pop song is loaded with jazz sensibilities. Danny will have you melting with sentiment upon first listen to her lyrically inspiring radio hits, three so far, bolstered by world-class musicianship and formidable production. There’s a very bright future for this gifted creator who knows how to emotionally relate to her listeners on a one to one basis. While we’re enjoying the first fruits of the project, “Gimme A Call,” “Without You,” and the brand new single, “Enough For Me,” we predict these won’t be enough… as we eagerly await the full album release from such a compelling tunesmith and vocalist!
A master class in saxophone, Mekiel Reuben’s new album CHANCES ARE WHAT THEY ARE is rooted in the second chance at life the multi-talented musician received after recovering from an illness. A spirited, Caribbean island-leaning joyride from start to finish, the collection rolls like a musical life review, taking us on Reuben’s journey growing up in the U.S. and St. Croix and sharing his rich palette of passions – including R&B, urban and traditional jazz, calypso, reggae and steppin’ music. Along the way, he pays homage to a special friend who helped him through his illness and jazz, icon Horace Silver.
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.
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.
Continuing his shift from singing traditionally arranged standards to creating sizzling, Smooth Jazz tracks, Russian born, L.A. based trumpeter Ilya Serov teams with sax star Dave Koz to spark a bright, funky brass duality on his pulsating new single “Heat,” off of his forthcoming album JUST FRIENDS due out later in 2021. The single's fresh sonics extend beyond the simmering grooves, tight melody and balmy tropical touches. Serov engages UK trumpet maker Andy Taylor to build a “Jazzohorn,” a custom hybrid instrument based on a flugelhorn with the shape of a saxophone. Interestingly, Serov waited to record the song until he and composer/guitarist Kay-ta Matsuno had developed the perfect vibe for it!
Forty-one years after Kevin Stevenson moved to NYC to launch his multi-faceted career which has taken him from Broadway productions to television and film as well as work with countless jazz and R&B artists (Cecil Bridgewater, Me’Shell N’Degeocello, Arturo O’Farrill, et al), the versatile drummer/composer makes his Smooth Jazz solo debut with “Movin’,” a playful and feisty track with tight grooves that truly capture the edgy, whimsical cosmopolitan vibe of the Manhattan. As Stevenson drives the drums, saxophonist Jordan Pettay takes the melodic emotional reins, fronting an ensemble that includes well-traveled veterans Matt Carvin (piano), Kevin Ellis (bass) and Bill White (guitar).
After establishing herself as part of her family group Madison Avenue and as a backup singer with Natalie Cole, Audrey Turner learned to sing the blues from collaborating (as an Ikette, then lead singer) with her late husband, the legendary Ike Turner. That slow-burning intensity serves her well on her latest single, a richly soulful, simmering rendition of the classic “Strange Fruit,” which Billie Holiday made famous with a much more subdued version. In addition to showcasing her wide vocal range, Turner adds emotional depth to the song by adding a powerful bridge about “crying mercy” between verses. Important listening in unprecedented times as we celebrate Black History month 2021.
Propelling powerfully into their second quarter century of hard-jamming live performances and recording, West Coast based phenoms Under The Lake – truly the freewheeling, adventurous West Coast equivalent to Spyro Gyra – infuse their high-octane latest album YOUR HORIZON TOO with a multitude of stylistic excursions built on its grooving Smooth Jazz foundation. Led by founder and keyboardist Jayson Tipp, the core trio adds crackling elements of funk, old school R&B, neo-soul, a true spirit of freewheeling jazz fusion and dashes of mystical cool to their relentlessly inventive mix. Although guitarist Patrick Yandall and saxophonist Quintin Gerard W are billed as featured guests, the two interact powerfully with the band while making the deepest emotional impact with their intense, heartfelt solos.
The three words that form the acronym in big, in COMING BIG, (Blessed. Inspired. Genuine.), the 6th independently released solo album by sensual, easy-grooving saxophonist R.L. Walker, says it all about his intentions and the dynamic vibes he shares. Drawing from his personal spiritual path and background in gospel music, he’s truly feeling blessed, inspired and genuinely showcasing his skillset! Like other gospel/jazz saxophonists such as Kirk Whalum, Walker has a few direct references to his faith, but mostly, his passion plays out via sensual, infectious ballads of varying tempos and old school, soul-jazz leanings. Guests include bassist Brendan Rothwell, vocalist Demetriace “Chee Chee” Jordan and keyboardist/producer/arranger Lew Laing Jr.
A true beacon of jazz multi-culturalism, well-traveled Austrian saxophonist and shiatsu practitioner Markus Zahrl makes a bold entry into the Smooth Jazz realm by opening his debut EP CELTIC DANCE with a high energy Irish jig jam. Once the Conservatory of Vienna and Berklee educated musician, arranger, composer and music educator has our attention, he shifts amiably into a more sensual urban flow showcasing his skills on several different saxes and adding touches of intoxicating exotica along the way. This is a must-have, musical journey bridging world-influenced ambient music with jazz.
Listening Loft : ESSENTIALS
It’s right there in Sicilian saxophonist Antonio Alma’s surname – his music is all about soul, and if we’re being even more specific, soul with gospel tinges. Kirk Whalum described his 2013 album PERSONAL ENCOUNTER as “full of soul.” Alma brings his sense of deeply lyrical R&B/jazz to his latest single “Drop,” a wistful, slow-burning seduction that’s cozy Smooth Jazz romance at its most vibrant. Alma’s video for the track, featuring gorgeous fall foliage and him playing his horn in beautiful, natural surroundings, is a must-see!
A versatile Canadian saxophonist whose resume includes jazz legends (Herbie Hancock, Randy Brecker) and playing for three Canadian Prime Ministers, Pat Belliveau packs a two-fisted, funky urban meets improvisational trad jazz punch with his explosive new maxi-single. The latest recording includes the moody, easy grooving and slow simmering “Roscoe’s Big Mama Special” paying homage to the landmark L.A. restaurant “Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles,” and the deeply percussive, sax and trumpet-driven “The C.B. Shuffle,” which opens with the classic Toto “Rosanna” beat, and offers a loving tribute to the laid-back gait of Belliveau’s late father.
Marking the 20th anniversary of his jazz fusion-oriented debut DAYLIGHT AGAIN, veteran pianist, composer and vocalist Walter Duda releases an appropriately titled new EP, SEARCH FOR INSPIRATION. A delightfully eclectic showcase for his multitude of passions and influences, the project vibes with a dynamic ensemble of NYC stalwarts including bassist Will Lee, guitarists Tim DeHuff and Al Ferrante and drummer Scott Lebish. Duda balances his breezily melodic, easy-grooving Smooth Jazz sensibilities with dreamy pop/soul vocals and thoughtful, classical leaning new age piano pieces.
To draw from the title of his 2017 debut SOULLEASH, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and award-winning Canadian producer Duffmusiq’s sizzlingly funky new album SIDEWALK SEQUEL truly reveals a musical soul unleashed and ready for nonstop blues and jazz action. The multi-faceted, constantly grooving collection offers a dynamic swirl of tight, feisty grooves, slick, fluid melodic guitar lines and sensual sensibilities that darts playfully from a wildly funky, horn-fired James Brown danceability to slow-simmering romantic vibes.
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.
Currently an artist in residence at the Kranzenberg Arts Foundation in his hometown of St. Louis, pianist, multi-instrumentalist and composer Mark Harris II – who has shared the stage with Julian Vaughn, Marion Meadows, Pieces of a Dream and Norman Brown – follows his 2018 INTERSTELLAR release, with a new single, the perfectly titled, equally dynamic musical adventure “Traveler.” Harris creates a similarly soaring, epic jazz fusion journey, surrounding his powerfully melodic and percussive piano magic with innovative synth sounds and swirling atmospheres.
A multiple award-winning gospel jazz saxophonist, Oakland native Angelo Luster has long been driven to, as he says, “inspire others through my music.” Luster hits a silky, soulful home run with his lush instrumental re-imagining of Bobby McFerrin’s “Common Threads,” an atmosphere laden track that starts as a graceful ballad before building percussive passion and momentum. While sharing a timely message, Luster also showcases his fiercely melodic and improvisational magic throughout.
Mike Murray’s decision to switch from his early passion for drums to following in his father’s footsteps as a pianist has been an adventurous, melodic and groove-filled blessing for Smooth Jazz as well as the Chillout music scene. On CRUISIN, his 25th release (albums and EPs) since 2007, the multi-talented, ultra-prolific composer/instrumentalist goes the unpredictable, unbridled George Duke inspired route, complementing his jazzy piano and synth melodies and soulful grooves with polyrhythmic, sonically expansive textures on tunes with colorful titles… this is top down, taking the scenic route, driving music!
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's second single, on the heels of "Nita," which was played on radio stations around the world, and featured Pieces member Eddie Baccus, Jr. on saxophone, is the percolating, acoustic guitar driven, "Mornin' Blend." A smooth easy brew of upbeat contemporary jazz served with style and excitement!
A few years ago, the veteran Atlanta club performer who dubs himself John William, Flautist contributed to the soundtrack of the “Superfly” remake. The mix of fantastic atmospheres, super deep soul grooves and gritty street vibes on his multi-faceted debut collection MELODIC ASCENSION sounds like music from a fashionable, urban drama with a redemptive romance. Drawing from his extensive background in gospel, R&B, hip-hop and neo-soul, William surrounds his beautiful flute melodies with high energy horns, silky sax and liquid soul cool.