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Listening Loft : HOTPICKS

Acoustic Alchemy - 33 1/3
Acoustic Alchemy
33 1/3OnSide Records

Greg Carmichael, founding member of seminal guitar driven contemporary jazz ensemble Acoustic Alchemy, is a true survivor. He regrouped after the passing of band co-founder Nick Webb 20 years ago, and now, with longtime partner Miles Gilderdale, creates some of the group’s most compelling and diverse music ever on 33 1/3, the title reflecting on the band’s age. Recorded in the wake of Carmichael’s wife experiencing a life-threatening bout with meningitis and the loss of their long-time friend and manager, Steward Coxhead. The first studio album in seven years is a collection that darts by design, across a stylistic map from the assertive world-fusion fun on the opening track, “East of Babylon” to an exhilarating nod to fallen guitar hero, Chuck Loeb with “Carmen’s Man.” In addition, it includes a Steely Dan-esque pop/blues tribute to Walter Becker, “Blues For Mr. Mu,” while the album also brushes on Latin, classical and contemporary sonic realms, it also includes a full band collaboration “The Girl With A Plan,” a title inspired by global radio pioneer and decades long companion, Sandy Shore. With a fresh, new energy, their trademark melodic chemistry created by an alchemy of nylon and steel guitars shines brightly through.  

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Candace Bellamy - This Feeling
Candace Bellamy
This FeelingCandaceBellamy.com

A fresh, powerfully soulful presence on the Smooth Jazz scene, physician by day, soul singer by night Candace Bellamy’s new EP, the gorgeously produced THIS FEELING, indeed feels like a heartfelt revelation. In only three tracks, she artfully portrays the bleakness of heartbreak, the wonderful promise of a lifelong love and, via a breezy reworking of a Roberta Flack classic, the sensual intensity of love in full bloom. In 2018, she had the opportunity to portray the legendary soul singer in a production of “The Voices of Donny Hathaway” in her adopted hometown of Austin, TX. Broadwayworld.com called her performance “a stellar turn as Roberta Flack.” Allow yourself to feel THIS FEELING, and you’ll feel exactly as we do about Candace!

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Sylvia Bennett - I Wish You Love
Sylvia Bennett
I Wish You LoveOut of Sight Music

Because it’s all we need... because it’s the answer and because it never fails. These are only but a few of the reasons why our favorite songbird, Grammy nominated vocalist Sylvia Bennett, wishes us Love on her latest outing of recorded musical bliss! I WISH YOU LOVE is simmering to the brim with delicious contemporary musical treats. Dipping into her collection of favorites from the classic songs that she’s romanced over the years in several languages; this intentional album of love songs blazes a new trail for our tireless, crooning crusader... the lusciously arranged set by longtime producing partner, Hal S. Batt, is all in English and features some amazing special guests including the one and only bass master, Nathan East on an impeccable cover of “Its Impossible” and Chart-topping Smooth Jazz trumpeter Rick Braun on a highly enjoyable run of “C’est Si Bon,” or as we like to call it, “C’est Si Braun.” Really it’s all you need to get by. Love that is… and this wonderful assortment of love songs falls into that category as well. Find out for yourself!

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Mark Allen Felton - Soul Real
Mark Allen Felton
Soul RealIndependent

Drawing inspiration from jazz, R&B and gospel, versatile saxophonist Mark Allen Felton enjoys calling his remarkably deep, soulful and emotionally expressive tunes “hipstrumentals.” That seems like a great way to describe the fresh, crisp and sensuous flow on his latest album SOUL REAL which truly feels like the future of urban oriented Smooth Jazz. The Chicago native earned the nickname “Panther” from having prowled the stage with Patti Labelle, Al Jarreau and genre greats Gerald Albright, Boney James and Kirk Whalum. Though he clearly picked up a lot of intensely cool energy from them, Felton’s carves out a multi-faceted niche of his own via a dynamic blend of edgy, organic funk, old school dance grooves, jaunty pop-blues, funk-rock fusion and tender neo-soul. 

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Al Gomez - Groovesville
Al Gomez
GroovesvilleShade Records

Known as one of the most versatile guitarists in Texas, Al Gomez has brought a little of everything – Tejano, country, rock and R&B – into his emergence as a formidable Smooth Jazz artist. Losing his vision in 2016, Al entered a new era in his life and career now more reliant on sound playing than sight playing, he turns adversity into triumph on his perfectly titled new EP GROOVESVILLE. With crisp, fluid lines that may remind listeners of Norman Brown or George Benson, he crafts a tight, melodic, light funk mix of cool ballads and moody mid-tempo delights. Complementing the originals are imaginative covers of a Little River Band classic and a beautiful late 70’s Kenny Loggins tune.

GTF - Cross Paths
GTF
Cross PathsGTF Music

A decade after first dazzling the Smooth Jazz world with their combined talents on the hit debut ALWAYS… Bay Area married couple George and Tracy Franklin – collectively known as GTF,  a powerhouse ensemble, deliver an intoxicating mix of soul-sensual ballads and tight urban jazz with an edgy funk twist on their chart-dominating, sophomore release, CROSS PATHS. Iconic jazz great Bob James joins in on the fun and exuberance... While the deeper joys emerge from George’s lush bass lead and vocal stylings, Tracy’s background vocals and the explosive energy of band members, drummer Ron Otis (Earl Klugh, Kem, Aretha Franklin), percussionist Juan Escovedo (of the legendary Escovedo family) as well as GTFers John Rekevics, Richard “Blitz” Livoni and John Cain. 

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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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Joe Hurworth - Higher
Joe Hurworth
HigherIndependent

In the spring of 2018, “Single Day” from Joe Hurworth’s debut EP Creativity hit #1 on the Smoothjazz.com Listener Chart – an extraordinary achievement for a new artist. Fusing old school pop/soul influences like Michael McDonald and Marvin Gaye with contemporary greats like Jason Mraz and Ed Sheeran, the 23-year old UK singer-songwriter finds the perfect way to keep that momentum going with his marvelously uplifting new single “Higher.” Highlighted by a plucky bass groove and feisty saxophone accents, it’s an instantly infectious, eminently danceable, horn-drenched tune fusing pop, soul and contemporary jazz. While on one level, it’s a lighthearted party song, a few listens reveal an artist continuing to discover his unique voice and develop a meaningful musical vision.

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M'Lynn - T.F.I.L
M'Lynn
T.F.I.LM’Lynn Music, LLC

The acronym in the title from emerging Dallas-born, indie soul, singer/songwriter, pianist M’lynn’s new single “T.F.I.L.” means “To Fall in Love” – and that’s what everyone is sure to do when they hear her for the first time. A fresh and exciting new, all-around talent currently enrolled in the Bruce Hornsby Creative American Music songwriter program at the Frost School of Music in Miami, she may bring to mind genre  blending greats like Norah Jones or Corinne Bailey Rae. Beyond that, she’s got a grounded, yet otherworldly vibe all her own. Her vocals on the sultry, soul-jazz song are all at once sensual and seductive yet surprisingly angelic. The breezy and smooth groove will hit you like a personal invitation to F.I.L. as you sway along.

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Gail Moore - Swag
Gail Moore
SwagGail Moore Music

Upon first listen to “Swag,” multi-talented vocalist Gail Moore’s sultry, sensual and gospel inflected debut Smooth Jazz single, you might think she’s giving props to just some regular fellow she admires. But a deeper understanding of the lyrics shows that it’s actually the coolest-ever musical tribute to former U.S. President Barack Obama, with a companion video that already has well over a million views on social media! The swanky “Swag,” is the latest phase of a musical journey that includes recording as a reggae gospel artist and singing backup for legends like Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, and Whitney Houston. Using music as a platform for ministry, Moore is also founder of Just Girls, an organization that empowers young girls to discover their God given purpose and destiny and helps them succeed in today’s culture. 

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Nelson Rangell - By Light
Nelson Rangell
By LightNelson Rangell

Bringing deep R&B inspired passion to the sax and masterful/improvisational energy to the flute, Nelson Rangell has been one of Smooth Jazz’s most dynamic and versatile reed players over the past 30 years. Launching eloquently and emphatically into his fourth decade, the multi-talented composer/musician’s latest album BY LIGHT finds him exploring some fresh and exciting creative concepts. True to its title, the collection balances bright, instantly engaging melodies and optimism with intensely muscular, deeply emotional playing. Beyond the edgy, sax driven, mostly up-tempo pop, funk and soul melodies and horn textures, Rangell shares his deeper artistry on several flute centered pieces that showcase his stunning virtuosity and otherworldly improvisational abilities on that instrument.     

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The Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman - Open Road
The Rippingtons Feat. Russ Freeman
Open RoadPeak Records/eOne Music

A few years ago, as his ever-evolving ensemble capped three decades as an innovative force in contemporary jazz, Rippingtons founder Russ Freeman whimsically stated, “When I started the band, I never imagined it would last more than the release of one album, let alone 30 years!” The title of The Ripps’ sonically and rhythmically eclectic album OPEN ROAD speaks to the composer, guitarist and keyboardist’s freshly expansive mindset. He juxtaposes silky, lighthearted tunes that recall the group’s early heyday with progressive excursions that showcase his penchant for musical off-roading. While keeping his trademark melodic flow, Freeman includes bold symphonic textures, scorching jazz-rock fusion and a universe of transcendent sonic vibes and effects, including wild African drums (courtesy of Dave Karasony) and otherworldly George Duke-esque synth runs.   

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Brendan Rothwell - Sentiment
Brendan Rothwell
SentimentBrendanRothwell.com

UK born, Calgary-based bassist Brendan Rothwell traces his love of the instrument and its intense soul possibilities to hearing the legendary Marcus Miller play on Miles Davis’ 80’s classic TUTU. On the heels of a debut that charted both in the U.S and Canada, his latest album SENTIMENT, is an eclectic, deeply rhythmic sonic experience. He includes several picture perfect, frothy funk, Smooth Jazz tracks, but the collection’s deeper pleasures expand the emotional palette into neo-soul, jazz fusion and even ambient territory. Reminiscent of the most genre-transcendent works of Miller, Brian Bromberg and Stanley Clarke, these songs are meditative masterpieces, taking him to contemplative realms of expression rich with mood and immersive atmospheres.   

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Sam Rucker - Redemption
Sam Rucker
RedemptionFavor Productions

Reflective of its title and the individual themes driving its soulful, engaging tracks, Sam Rucker’s emotionally compelling. The versatile Virginia-based saxophonist uses bright melodies, tight grooves and the occasional uplifting, gospel flavored female vocals to enhance the musical praise, and to count the blessings that saw the artist through the dark times. While Rucker’s previous works were infused with inspirational messages, his shift from featuring top guest stars on his previous album TELL YOU SOMETHING (Norman Connors, Bobby Lyle, Euge Groove) to carrying the emotional passion himself is indicative of the many emotional and creative breakthroughs he’s made over the past five years. REDEMPTION is as divinely inspired as Smooth Jazz gets! 

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Listening Loft : MUST HAVES

Rebecca Angel - Thoughts & Prayers
Rebecca Angel
Thoughts & PrayersTimeless Grooves Records

On her bold, socially conscious new single “Thoughts and Prayers,” jazz/soul vocalist and songwriter Rebecca Angel taps into our collective anxieties and sense of helplessness over America’s increasing problems with random shootings (school and otherwise) and the killing of innocents. The reflective mid-tempo ballad is both a lament and call for action beyond the platitude of offering “thoughts and prayers” after every fresh tragedy. Backed by Jason Miles’ bluesy, rootsy production, Angel emerges as a powerful voice for her generation, asking all of us to examine what we as a society have become. 

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Marcos Ariel - Soul Carioca
Marcos Ariel
Soul CariocaBiscoito Fino

With the release of his vibrant and exotic new EP, SOUL CARIOCA, keyboard master and Rio de Janeiro native Marcos Ariel celebrates 30 influential, soul-transportive years as a bicoastal (Brazil/Los Angeles) recording artist. “Carioca” refers to anything related to the City of Rio de Janeiro and Ariel showcases his hometown pride with every sparkling melody and solo. Driven by lushly produced compositions that were created and matured via numerous performances in Rio, Ipanema and the U.S. This collection alternates between funky, brassy vocal-inflected samba party energy, sultry pop/soul, bossa nova ballads, plus a cool, hipster rap in Portuguese!

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Edda Borg - New Suit
Edda Borg
New SuitIndependent

On her second album NEW SUIT, classically trained Icelandic pianist Edda Borg brings passionate heat to her chilly environs with a collection of sophisticated, infectious magic. Transcending her upbringing, she keeps things loose via a mix of clever, smooth grooving ivory melodies, deeper funk and blues textures (played on Fender Rhodes) and even a few touches of fiery Latin jazz. Borg’s enjoyed a multi-faceted career that includes performing extensively and running her popular Edda Borg Music School in Reykjavik. Now, she’s channeling all of that energy and experience into some of Smooth Jazz’s tastiest new sounds.

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dee Brown - Remembering You
dee Brown
Remembering YouDeeBrownMusic.com

R&B/funk driven, Detroit based guitarist dee Brown’s REMEMBERING YOU is that rare Smooth Jazz album that lifts the spirits and gets the fingers snapping as it weaves a compelling narrative through its thoughtful song titles. A colorful blend of hard grooving jams and passionate ballads, the collection tells the beautiful and emotional story of Brown’s relationship with singer/songwriter Shaunia Edwards, his collaborator and fiancée who made her transition to heaven in February 2016. His inspirational chronicle of their time together is a celebration of her extraordinary life and their incredible love - and a reminder that we are all here to share our lives together.

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James Dawkins - Phenomenon
James Dawkins
Phenomenon High Vibe Tribe

A well-known force as a multi-instrumentalist (keyboards, drums, bass, trumpet) on the Miami scene currently touring with KC & The Sunshine Band, James Dawkins creates a self-fulling prophecy for himself by calling his third album PHENOMENON. Dawkins takes us on a multi-faceted journey infused with deep romance, immersive soul sensuality, colorfully textured R&B/funk and freewheeling contemporary jazz. While Dawkins’ stylish, cool and lively keyboard vibes are front and center, he also provides exciting featured showcases for his guest artists, including guitarist Tremaine Young, saxophonist Donald Hayes and vocalists Lady Blakkbyrd and David Olivieri. 

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Dr. Dave and The Housecall Band - Midnight Daydream
Dr. Dave and 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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Jeremy Hector - Ascension
Jeremy Hector
AscensionThunder Dome Sounds

Rather than simply try to assimilate his fresh, crisp and intense electric guitar vibe into Smooth Jazz, Grenadian born guitarist Jeremy Hector makes his debut album ASCENSION a spiritual, autobiographical musical journey. Working with producer/pianist Eddie Bullen, a fellow Grenadian who creates hip, sonically textured and oftentimes exotic soundscapes, Hector invites us to experience special moments in time via colorful, eclectic musical stories of his life and songs named after familiar places in Grenada. It’s hard to resist playing tourist when your guide is one of the genre’s most exciting and innovative new guitarists!  

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Jessy J - Live at Yoshi's
Jessy J
Live At Yoshi'sChangi Records LLC

Nothing brings out the deeper artistry of a favorite performer like a live concert, and saxophonist/vocalist Jessy J keeps the soul, spice, grooves, improvisations and colorful vibes flowing throughout  LIVE AT YOSHI’S - an exciting way to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of her #1 debut album TEQUILA MOON. Drawing from her array of Latin, Brazilian, Smooth Jazz and R&B/pop influenced array of radio hits, Jessy brings imaginative new dynamics, fresh sizzle and expanded jamming to these songs we love. It’s a blast hearing her spirited interactions with longtime band members Iajhi Hampton (drums), Frank Abraham (bass) and Michael Angel (guitar), but guest keyboardist Jay Rowe steals the show with his old school harmonies and solos, and be sure to check out Jessy's jazzy cover of Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi's smash hit "Despacito"!

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Jazz Holdouts - Summer Nights
Jazz Holdouts
Summer NightsPalm Beach Jazz

Truly the Smooth Jazz equivalent of pop super group Toto, Jazz Holdouts is a dynamic collective of studio greats with all-star pop, R&B and jazz resumes, featuring the simmering light funk energy of Alan Palanker (keys), Lou Cortelezzi (sax), Michael Thompson (guitar) and John Sieglar (bass). Their cool, yet high spirited full length album, SUMMER NIGHTS is driven by tight, funky, old school soul-jazz meets chill music. The album follows the group’s three groundbreaking Billboard hit singles, including the #1 song that is now the title track. Palanker and Cortelezzi sparkle trading off lead melody lines throughout. 

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Reza Khan - Next Train Home
Reza Khan
Next Train HomePainted Media

A fascinating, diverse musical citizen of the world, guitarist/composer Reza Khan brings a wealth of progressive jazz and global fusion influences and sensibilities to NEXT TRAIN HOME. Featuring everything from dreamy funk and percussive, multi-cultural exchanges to fiery electric jazz fusion, the festive, extraordinarily intricate album was composed primarily in hotel rooms throughout Africa, where Khan traveled as part of his amazing “day job” as program manager for the United Nations. Khan’s essential tracks featuring Pat Metheny’s longtime bassist Mark Egan are enhanced by the colorful sound design of Philippe Saisse, along with dynamic contributions by Andy Snitzer, Jeff Kashiwa and Nils. 

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Michael C. Lewis - Intimate Journey
Michael C. Lewis
Intimate JourneyCybervision Entertainment

A renowned luminary in his adopted hometown of NYC who has also toured throughout Europe, Russia and Australia, veteran trumpeter Michael C. Lewis’ INTIMATE JOURNEY is the kind of clever, artful, stylistically expansive album that Miles Davis would be making if he were still alive and rising up the Smooth Jazz charts. Lewis enhances his inviting melodies with a blend of old school textures, soothing atmospheres, tight hip-hop elements and edgy electronica flavors. Complementing the vibrant instrumentals, he also impresses with a deep vocal timbre perfect for creating a romantic urban jazz vibe. 

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Tony Lindsay - Something Beautiful
Tony Lindsay
Something BeautifulLindseed Music

Tony Lindsay’s remarkable quarter century as Carlos Santana’s lead vocalist included numerous world tours and netted him 11 Grammys – but it’s all forward motion now with the release of his first post Santana solo album SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL. As he describes it, it’s a “no smoke, no mirrors” collection of vibrant, heartfelt originals that showcase the versatility of his songwriting and vocal style. With production by greats like Narada Michael Walden, Preston Glass and Randy Emata, Lindsay taps into his love of romantic R&B, gospel, Latin jazz and brass fired blues. This album offers SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL for everyone! 

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Gary Meggs - Life's Little Changes
Gary Meggs
Life's Little ChangesIndependent

A onetime member of the orchestras of Glenn Miller and Harry James, saxophonist Gary Meggs calls the release of his latest album LIFE’S LITTLE CHANGES a “lifelong dream, a chance to help place my own footprint in the Smooth Jazz scene,” inspired by the West Coast Jazz of the 80’s and 90’s. Collaborating with rock/fusion guitarist Bryan Jeffries, who produced the collection, Meggs’ brings a bold and brash horn energy to an exciting, stylistically eclectic collection that includes spirited Latin influences, innovative arrangements of pop standards and re-imagined versions (complete with new titles) of a gospel and seasonal classics. 

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Gary Metz - Open Skies
Gary Metz
Open SkiesGaryMetz.com

Considering his embrace of fresh opportunities as a solo artist, classically trained, jazz/R&B influenced saxophonist Gary Metz chose the perfect title for his knockout debut OPEN SKIES. His hundreds of gigs as a session player have earned him a range of A-listers excited to  contribute to his uniquely diverse sonic landscape. Helping bring his cool and sensual ballads and tight, edgy funk delights to life are, among others, Jimmy Haslip, Greg Manning, Adam Hawley, Darryl Williams, Tony Moore, Lee Thornburg and producer Mike Parlett, who has worked with Norman Brown, Peter White, Jeffrey Osborne and many others.    

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Mikael - Trippin Over You
Mikael
Infinite Nu JazzMikaelmusic Group

Michael Manley, aka Mikael, has been a steadily rising force in Smooth Jazz since his ten year stint playing lead guitar for the legendary Commodores. His latest track, the sensual, smooth funkin’, yet wildly infectious “Trippin’ Over You,”- the lead single from his upcoming album Infinite Nu Jazz - has been recognized by the GMA (Global Music Awards) as a Silver Medal Winner for Outstanding Achievement in Smooth Jazz. In addition to showcasing his crackling, ultra-melodic lead lines, the track will have you trippin’ over two other passionate talents –saxophonist John Michalak and sultry vocalist India Tuck Mills. 

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Byron Miller - The Gift
Byron Miller
The Gift : Psychobass 2Byron Lee Miller Studio, LLC

For legendary bassist Byron Miller, “Psychobass” is more than a clever branding idea reflective of his lifelong passion for his instrument. It’s his full-on “a.k.a.” identity. His rhythmically eclectic, jump off your chair grooving new album THE GIFT: PSYCHOBASS 2 picks up where his 2015 long awaited return to action PSYCHOBASS left off. He keeps the deeply personal autobiography hopping with a sensual George Duke cover, some island fun and a mix of high octane and chill, Duke-inspired originals with appropriate funk and groove related titles. On hand to celebrate the bassist’s many gifts are Kirk Whalum, Paul Jackson, Jr., Walter Beasley, Munyungo Jackson and others.         

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Steve Oliver - Illuminate
Steve Oliver
IlluminateSOM Entertainment

Following in the tradition of his earlier albums POSITIVE ENERGY and RADIANT, Steve Oliver dubs his latest album ILLUMINATE, shining a spotlight on his trademark of vibrant, guitar melodies and sunny wordless vocalese couched in uplifting musical atmospheres. Though the uptempo, road trip ready gems drive the journey, his first set of original contemporary jazz instrumentals in six years includes several intimate ballads that bring a soulful depth to the party. Both live and in the studio, Steve showcases his one-man band mastery by generating his own guitar, bass and keyboard vibes through his unique “sound design.” ILLUMINATE is highlighted with a few top-flight friends including Jimmy Haslip, Joel Taylor and Nelson Rangell.

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Phaze II - No Cover Charge
Phaze II
No Cover ChargeIndependent

Phaze II’s fifth and latest album boasts the clever title NO COVER CHARGE, but their kind of finely honed, supremely cool eclectic magic is worth any price! Now well into their third decade lighting the jazz, funk, Latin and R&B fires in their hometown of Washington, DC, the six-piece super-ensemble Phaze II – onetime winners of the Capital Jazz Challenge Competition - alternates their flow between silky, seductive cool, fiery, wild energy storms and infectious, easy grooving mid-tempo tunes. They balance their more muscular, rocking offerings with dreamier pieces clearly and designed to melt the heart.  

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Kenney Polson - For Lovers Only
Kenney Polson
For Lovers OnlyNo Slop Media

With a sparkling saxophone vibe that’s been lighting up the Pacific Northwest for years, Kenney Polson – who’s appeared on TV with greats like David Sanborn and Wynton Marsalis - has blended Smooth Jazz with a wide variety of influences, including Latin, classical, R&B/funk and gospel. True to its title FOR LOVERS ONLY, Polson’s latest recording finds him creating a tight, soulful ensemble with members of Tower of Power, Kool & the Gang and Parliament, among others. Soothing, romantic and lyrical, the album builds an easy groove with new compositions and satisfying classics. 

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Rohan Reid - Watch Me Now
Rohan Reid
Watch Me NowGoin' Native Records

Starting his career on tour at age 10 with one of Jamaica’s biggest gospel groups, Rohan Reid is a certifiable Caribbean bass legend who has also grooved with Smooth Jazz cats like Eric Darius and Najee. His eclectic new album WATCH ME NOW is a great primer on the multitude of melodic, rhythmic and spiritual influences that drive his music. Bringing Brian Bromberg’s depth and Wayman Tisdale’s sense of joyful exuberance to mind, Reid funks it up one minute, simmers sensually the next, while also showcasing exotic, percussive slices of island magic, African tribal power and a sense of social consciousness.  

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Kim Scott - Emerge
Kim Scott
Free To Be Innervision Records

The title of flutist extraordinaire Kim Scott’s latest single “Emerge” is a bit ironic considering how she’s been hitting the Smooth Jazz charts with her seamless, spirited swirl of dreaminess and fiery energy to the genre since the early 2010s. The track fashions a world all its own, where the mystical and whimsical flow gets caught up in the groovin’ funk. “Emerge” illuminates the friendship and spirited jazz connection between Scott and Jonathan Fritzen, her co-writer who creates beautiful harmonies and a stunning piano solo. “Emerge” is the lead single from Scott’s highly anticipated upcoming album FREE TO BE, due out this spring.  

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The Smooth Jazz Alley - Let's Ride
The Smooth Jazz Alley
Let's RideIndependent

With their latest single “Let’s Ride,” the Bay Area's Marco Montoya (keyboardist/producer/engineer), and drummer/producer Kevin Lewis (collectively known as The Smooth Jazz Alley) found the perfect way to follow up the 2016 breakthrough album BEEN A LONG TIME COMIN’. Trading off melodic lines between sparkling keys and crackling electric guitar, the track romps and rolls like a stunning invitation to join them on their funk-filled journey. “Let’s Ride” is the title track from The Smooth Jazz Alley’s forthcoming sophomore album, a true all-star affair that will feature guest performances by Chieli Minucci, Andy Snitzer, Greg Vail, Tony Guerrero, Eric Marienthal, Lebron, Roberto Vally, Stan Evans and Matt Godina.

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R.L. Walker - Off The Corner
R.L. Walker
Off The CornerIndependent

Continuing to live up to his mantra “Get Your Smooth On,” R.L. Walker dynamically follows his self-titled fifth album with his irresistible, sultry and hypnotic new single, “Off The Corner.” The versatile saxophonist, who developed his self-taught talent while in the military (performing in South Korean clubs and talent shows), delivers a gritty, inner-city Smooth Jazz tune featuring flirtatious rhythm and wah-guitars. Helping with the rich sonic architecture is producer Lew Laing, Jr., who has also worked his studio magic for everyone from Paul Brown and Richard Elliot to Blake Aaron. “Off the Corner” is off the hook!

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Listening Loft : ESSENTIALS

Color and Passion
Blake Aaron
Color and PassionInnervision Records

Blake Aaron – dubbed a “genius on the guitar” by the Los Angeles Times – has laid a mighty foundation for his new album release with four hit singles, including the #1 Billboard smash, “Groovers and Shakers” featuring Darren Rahn. On the heels of this #1 hit comes the velvety guitar and flugelhorn laden, smooth, funky and completely infectious new single, “Drive,” which is sure to follow in the footsteps of Aaron’s chart-busting success and become the anthem for your next road trip. These all foreshadow the vibrant intensity and groove-eclectic range of the upcoming release COLOR AND PASSION. Truly embodying the title concept, Aaron brings the magic which draws from an expansive palette of influences, including colorful Tower of Power flavored horns as well as passionate Latin jazz and pop, R&B, blues and funk accents.

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Reggie Codrington - Against The Odds
Reggie Codrington
Against The OddsM.A.N.D.A.T.E. Records Inc.

The title of veteran saxophonist Reggie Codrington’s latest funky and flowing collection album AGAINST THE ODDS refers to all he has overcome early in his life – when he was afflicted with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – to become an artist whose music and personal story offers endless inspiration. Codrington, who has worked with Smooth Jazz greats like Jeff Lorber, Nils, Paul Jackson, Jr. and Ricky Lawson, has it all here – fresh beats, sweeping atmospheres, silky and emotionally punchy melodies and uptempo tunes and ballads to dance and romance to. 

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Ronald Boo Hinkson - My Good Day
Ronald 'Boo' Hinkson
My Good DayZephryn Records

With fans like saxophonist Ronnie Laws, Stanley Jordan and George Benson, veteran multi-talented Saint Lucia born guitarist Ronald “Boo” Hinkson can pretty much declare any day “My Good Day,” the title of his latest single. On this soaring, infectious easy funk track, Hinkson vibes beautifully with the passionate, ultra-romantic lead vocals of Irvin Ace Loctar and Shannon Pinel. His crisp and cool electric guitar plays harmony behind them before taking emotional control on a fiery solo, complemented by his spirited scatting.     

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Jody Watley - Waiting In Vain
Jody Watley
Waiting In VainAvitone Recordings

Over three decades after she won a Best New Artist Grammy, multi-faceted R&B icon Jody Watley continues to amaze, surprise, and inspire! Her sly, sensual new track “Waiting In Vain” is a fresh, contemporary urban jazz/Bossa Nova re-imagining of the Bob Marley classic. In a completely different mode and mindset than her well known dance hits, she infuses the track with lush atmospheres and gentle, easy flowing Brazilian rhythms. No need to wait, this must-have new single is available now wherever you access music, including in a sexy new song video featuring the lovely songstress!

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Keiser Twins - Guestlist
Keiser Twins
GuestlistNiRo Sounds

An explosive sibling funk machine, drummer Walter Keiser and bassist Peter Keiser – aka Keiser Twins – have been the backbone for a multitude of top artists in their native Switzerland for decades. The duo continues to emerge from the rhythmic shadows on GUESTLIST, a deeply grooving, infectiously melodic thrill-a-minute set showcasing the duo’s passion for pop, rock, jazz fusion, blues, funk and horn-drenched Memphis R&B. Keiser Twins add a batch of exciting Swiss vocalists to their Guestlist. 

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Ron King - Groovin' On Down
Ron King
Groovin' On DownIndependent

After decades in the music business, trumpet/flugelhorn maestro Ron King recently launched his Smooth Jazz career under the guidance of longtime friend Paul Brown. King’s new, perfectly titled single, the Brown produced “Groovin’ On Down,” is a bright, bold and brassy explosion of blues fired pop/soul energy. In addition to showcasing King’s artful balance of silk and funk expressions, the track features dynamic interplay with Brown’s guitar, bassist Roberto Vally, and drummer Gorden Cambell. Don’t miss the fun video that accompanies this infectious hit!

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Brian Lenair - Underground Vol 3
Brian Lenair
Underground Vol 3 : "The Cover Story"Independent

An institution in his hometown of Washington, DC for the past 30 years, saxophonist Brian Lenair’s latest collection UNDERGROUND VOL 3: THE COVER STORY finds him putting fresh, funky, sensual and slow-jam twists on recent chart-toppers by Adele, Bruno Mars, Childish Gambino and Sam Smith. Testament to Lenair’s powerfully emotional composing skills, his originals – including a beautiful song for his baby daughter – make brilliant companions to the familiar tunes. Time to go UNDERGROUND to hear a great new story!

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Aubrey Logan - Where The Sunshine Is Expensive
Aubrey Logan
Where The Sunshine Is ExpensiveResonance Records

Dubbed by raving critics as “the Queen of Sass,” vocalist, songwriter and trombonist Aubrey Logan cements her status as a quirky, soulful and heartfelt triple threat artist on WHERE THE SUNSHINE IS EXPENSIVE, a whimsical musical ode to her adopted hometown of Los Angeles. With vocals that are alternately hushed/intimate and torchy/powerful, Logan weaves a colorful mix of originals with her unique re-imaginings of classics by Michael McDonald and Burt Bacharach. Dave Koz, who says she’s “in a class by herself,” guests memorably on two tracks along with American Idol Casey Abrams.

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Dee Lucas - Going Left
Dee Lucas
Going LeftODL Music

With the release of his latest album GOING LEFT, saxophonist and independent label entrepreneur Dee Lucas celebrates 15 years bringing a deep, lyrical sensibility to Smooth Jazz, that both hits and transcends a soulful sweet spot. With a vibe driven by infectious melodies, vibrant horn textures and dreamy atmospheres, Lucas delivers a collection that includes a batch of fashionable originals, a trippy, exotic African music adventure and a sensual revisit of a Frankie Beverly & Maze classic. 

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Misz The Producer - Time To Groove
Misz The Groove Producer
Time To GrooveSolid Groove Recordings

Like her longtime friend Patrice Rushen, Misz the Groove Producer does it all when it comes to fusing jazz and funk, old school keyboard vibes with fresh grooves, atmospheres and otherworldly sonic possibilities. Driven by her propulsive work on drums and percussion, Misz’s latest album TIME TO GROOVE includes a tasty mix of Fender Rhodes, organ and synth textures (including a spotlight for special guest Jeff Lorber), a tasty reworking of a Rushen classic and an adventurous slow jam dedicated to Bob James. 

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Len Mizzoni - Better Days
Len Mizzoni
Better DaysIndependent

A versatile singer/songwriter who plays piano, guitar and sax, Ontario-based recording artist Len Mizzoni – a former member of the Juno Award winning band Frozen Ghost - brings dramatic passion, deep soul and lively romantic energy to his second solo album BETTER DAYS. These heartfelt, modern themed, atmosphere-rich songs reflect the craftsman powerful and heartfelt jazzy, urban pop sensibilities. We love Len! Once you hear the infectious melodies and hooky tunes on this new project, you’ll be into better days in yourself!   

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Herb Partlow - Future Jazz
Herb Partlow
Future JazzSuperb Muzic

Composer and multi-instrumentalist Herb Partlow has been a radio personality, producer and artist, manager, recording and mastering engineer. Yet he’s totally focused on what’s ahead for him: FUTURE JAZZ, his sonically inventive breakthrough EP that he calls “jazz music for a new generation.” Playing keyboards, piano and bass, he lays a dynamic foundation for an atmospheric, trippy effects filled and groove intensive flow. Saxophonists Allen Omenka Webb and JLP and rockin’ guitarist Ricardo Love take Partlow’s vision and vibe into the urban jazz fusion stratosphere!

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Paul Randolph & The Detroit Memphis Experience - Will The Party Ever End
Paul Randolph & The Detroit Memphis Experience™ featuring Dave McMurray
Will The Party Ever EndMaristar Records

With summer just around the corner, veteran bassist PAUL RANDOLPH & THE DETROIT MEMPHIS EXPERIENCE™ featuring DAVE McMURRAY have a dynamic question for us: “Will the Party Ever End?” Everything about this vibrant track says “No!”. Penned by award winning songwriter Kathy Kosins and produced by Randolph (currently a member of the Berlin DJ dance collective Jazzanova), it’s vibrant contemporary jazz/funk/blues at its best, featuring the spirited musicians in the Detroit Memphis Experience who infuse lively keyboards, sizzling brass textures along with the soaring sax of the great Dave McMurray. 

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Stuart Redd - Dreams To Reality
Stuart Redd
Dreams To RealityStuart Redd

For multi-talented guitarist Stuart Redd, DREAMS TO REALITY is more than an inspirational title. It’s the magical and empowering swirl of excitement he feels digging into and sharing his legendary traditional and electric fusion jazz influences (many he originally discovered listening to on Detroit’s jazz station WJZZ) to create this epic, genre-transcendent collection. Driven by his fluid and melodic, yet crackling style, he blissfully exudes his freewheeling passion for Smooth Jazz, fiery fusion, adventurous rock/funk jazz and sizzling Latin jazz.    

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Jim Richter - Breezy Day
Jim Richter
Breezy DayJamesland Music Management, LLC

Getting back to making music full time after years where other priorities took precedence, guitarist, keyboardist and composer Jim Richter taps back into his rock/blues roots with a mix of deep soulfulness, playful buoyancy and fiery intensity on his new album BREEZY DAY. Hitting all the infectious yet artsy-cool sweet spots of Steely Dan and Larry Carlton, he offers dreamy ballads, funk jams, island delights and bluesy grit – in addition to playful titles that pay homage to Bill Evans and Weather Report.

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Art Ruprecht - Cast Your Care
Art Ruprecht
Cast Your CareFlame Productions

With influences including Joe Pass, Larry Carlton and Pat Metheny, multi-faceted guitarist Art Ruprecht brings a dazzling array of styles to his emergence as a grooving Smooth Jazz artist. The title of his generous 14 track collection CAST YOUR CARE taps into his deep gospel roots and the fresh twists he spins through well-known hymns. Yet those tunes are only the beginning of a genre-busting journey that includes in-the-pocket urban jazz/funk, imaginative straight ahead excursions that pay homage to Wes Montgomery and Miles Davis and acoustic-driven, tropical tinged Latin jazz. 

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BillyRay Sheppard - Silk
BillyRay Sheppard
SilkBig Bib Entertainment

One of the top Smooth Jazz performers in the San Antonio area for several decades, BillyRay Sheppard’s infectious debut album SILK finds him bringing his stylistically and rhythmically sophisticated saxophone magic to life with the alternately supercharged and sensitive input from co-writer and producer Steve Oliver. Beyond the in the pocket, danceable funk and wistful balladry, Sheppard taps into the Latin/Tejano side of his artistry for a rousing closing jam. BillyRay is smooth as SILK!

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SGC - Kickin' It
Spontaneous Groovin' Combustion
Kickin' ItTune 9 Records

Years after finding early success playing rock in NYC and country in Nashville, saxophonist/flutist and composer Warren Keller is sparking new fires in Smooth Jazz with his tight, funky old schoolin’ ensemble Spontaneous Groovin’ Combustion. The explosive debut single “Kickin’ It” is feisty, high octane fun, loaded with jangling guitars, retro keyboards and dynamic horn arrangements centered around Keller’s funky sax melody. The band is currently working on their debut EP with special guests Jeff Lorber, Dwight Sills and Frank Richardson III.

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J Staton - It's All Good
J Staton
It's All GoodIndependent

On J Staton’s latest soprano driven single, the supremely silky, delightfully dreamy, “It’s All Good,” the Hampton Roads, Virginia saxophonist reflects upon life’s deep disappointments and great accomplishments. For him, those achievements include playing the Apollo Theater and opening for Jeff Lorber and Eric Darius – and his positive vibes fit right in among the genre’s best. True to its title, this feel-good song accomplishes the goal of encouraging people and bringing a smile to their faces. 

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The Moore Twins - Versatility
The Moore Twins
VersatilityLounge Renown Records

True to its title, “Versatility,” the vibrant, high octane lead single and from The Moore Twins’ upcoming debut album, showcases the multitude of talents Chicago bred, Alabama based multi-instrumentalists John S. Moore III and Jeremiah S. Moore bring to our Smooth Jazz realm. Carlos Santana’s former trumpeter Bill Oritz adds a powerful, soaring solo to the track. The duo’s explosive synthesis of sound draws from their passions for everything from gospel and neo-soul to funk/R&B. Truly versatile. 

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U-Nam - Future Love
U-Nam
Future LoveSkytown Records

For longtime Smooth Jazz hit making guitarist U-Nam, creating his latest album FUTURE LOVE was a deeply cathartic experience in the wake of intense personal emotional upheaval. Yet instead of sorrowfully looking back, the Parisian born artist speeds optimistically forward, embracing life and love’s grand possibilities with a slate of near non-stop funk, feisty and fluid melodies, crackling solos and bold, and brassy productions – complete with tastes of Latin/Euro fire and trippy, futuristic fusion.  

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North 2unes Woodall - For The Love Of Money
North 2unes Woodall
For The Love Of Money2unewaves Records

A longtime urban jazz staple in his adopted hometown of Atlanta, high energy electric guitarist North 2unes Woodall has shared stages with many funkmasters, from Lakeside to The Ohio Players. All that vibin’ has clearly rubbed off on him, because his wild-hearted, jazz-soul-blues fired romp through The O’Jays’ classic “For the Love Of Money” is a non-stop, in the pocket, old school, funky affair. Saxophonist Ryan Kilgore’s powerhouse solo adds emotional heft to the relentless fun.  

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