- Dreaming In Colour
- Back In The Day
- Dreaming In Colour LLC
- Doug Ferony
- I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face
- Fe Music LLC
- Slim Gambill
- Ludlow St. Records
- Kathy Lyon
- Nothin' But Love feat Houston Person
- Randy Muller Boom Chang Bang
- Sunnyside Up
- Plaza Records/Wavehill
- Nai Sounds
- Can't Deal
- Zaki Publishing Media & Entertainment Group
- Grady Nichols
- Grady Nichols & Friends - Live
- Grady Nichols
- Pieces Of A Dream
- Fired Up
- Shanachie Entertainment
- Johnny Schaefer
- You Can't Hide The Light feat Melissa Manchester
- Auditory Verve
Listening Loft : HOTPICKS
That explosive grooving, horn-fired funk and soaring orchestral energy you hear behind Marie Antoinette’s buoyant, freewheeling harp melody on her latest single “Another Star” perfectly reflects her unstoppable momentum in Smooth Jazz and urban music these past few years. After winning three major accolades in 2018 from the San Diego Prestige Awards, Black Women in Jazz & the Arts Association and Black Music Awards, her 2020 hit single “Overture” – from her most recent album ALL MY STRINGS – debuted at #5 on Billboard. Winter is just around the corner, but that isn’t stopping the multi-talented force of musical nature from creating one of the most frolicsome, summery tracks of 2021 via a vibe fusing danceable earthly percussive rhythms with transcendent string elegance and angelic backing voices.
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!
The title of Congolese born, Stockholm, Sweden based singer/songwriter Marius Billgobenson’s album THE SPIRIT LOVE embodies his life’s work and mission as a concerned and compassionate musical citizen of the world with a commitment to bridging cultural divides. Over the course of 11 heartfelt and provocative, urban jazz meets world music tracks, the multi-talented artist – also an award-winning anthropologist with a deep passion for ethnomusicology - creates a deeply visceral and empowering autobiographical fusion of pop, soul, blues and jazz, infused with the spirited rhythms and vocal sounds indigenous to the Congo. Helping him immerse into the Smooth Jazz world are Paul Brown, who wrote and produced two tracks, and Chris “Big Dog” Davis, who helmed six others.
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.
Grammy-winning, and towering guitar giants Larry Carlton and Paul Brown align on SOUL SEARCHIN’, creating a thrilling canvas for ten new originals! Carlton & Brown’s first co-led album, available September 24, 2021 celebrates jazz, blues, killer grooves, the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, Prince and more! Carlton has graced over 100 Gold and Platinum albums, while Brown has scored 80 some #1 radio hits. The two join forces for a set of songs that promise to excite and delight fans worldwide. The synergy between Larry and Paul is palpable. Their telepathic interplay, and joyful exchange create numerous moments to willingly get lost inside the music. Carlton reveals their secret ingredient, “We have different musical backgrounds but, the common thread for Paul and me is that we both like melodic music with a great groove.”
The Euro Jazz Press got it right when it pegged the veteran funk-soul driven ensemble Dreaming in Colour “The Steely Dan of Smooth Jazz.” Originally founded over 30 years ago by bassist Kevin Ellis and drummer Chris Noonan, the veteran ensemble has experienced a renaissance recently with a flurry of big radio singles. Their latest high-energy release, “Back in the Day,” lives up to its moniker, offering a fun-filled, danceable Chicago Steppin’ vibe that its composer, DiC keyboardist Michael Scherer, enthusiastically describes as “the kind of music you might have heard in a roller-skating rink in the 80s.” In addition to Scherer’s lively piano melody, other high points include Ellis’ snappy bass fills and the seamless interaction of Scherer and saxophonist Jason Swagler on the irrepressible hook.
Founded by trombonist and JPL spacecraft engineer Jim Lewis, the relentlessly creative, soulfully funked up and horn-fired So Cal based ensemble San Gabriel Seven has been both a local and global sensation for an incredible 16 years and counting. Aside from a dazzling mix of originals and pop/soul covers, the powerful musicianship of a cadre of musical vets, the key to the alternately sensual and feisty appeal of albums like their latest, SNEAKIN’ UP ON LOVE, has been showcasing the storytelling talents of charismatic female vocal talents like Katie Campbell. The singer infuses the spirited collection with the same bold, sassy style and intimate, nuanced cool that she’s brought to her gigs with everyone from Sheryl Crow, Stevie Wonder and The Manhattan Transfer.
If you’re somehow not familiar with Wayne Gutshall, the guy Sandy Shore calls a “modern master of saxophone” who’s scored five #1 singles on SmoothJazz.com Global’s Listener Chart, you get another inspiring chance with his latest track “Going Up” – a passionate, meditative ballad duet with bassist Brendan Rothwell penned during the pandemic for the sole purpose of soothing our anxieties and lifting our spirits. Gutshall, a favorite on Miami’s vibrant Latin jazz scene, who’s played with Steve Oliver, Paul Brown, Arturo Sandoval and many others, offers up Rothwell’s seductive bassline to build anticipation as he rolls out the song's sultry sax melody. The two fashion a hypnotic dual-energy that balances intuitive musical conversations with vibrant soloing. And all at once you’ll find your blood pressure is going down while your hopes start “Going Up.”
When saxophonist Vincent Ingala burst into Smooth Jazz consciousness in 2010, he was a multi-talented wunderkind in his late teens setting the genre on fire. Some eleven years later, as he releases his seventh album (and third on Shanachie), the high spirited, infectiously passionate and dance groove intensive FIRE & DESIRE, the veteran powerhouse has 18 Top Ten and 8 #1 radio singles under his belt. The pandemic era recording protocols were a snap for one man band Ingala, who does it all – composing, producing, recording, mixing and playing all instruments (keys, drums, guitar, bass and of course sax) – on an exuberant, celebratory (but also lushly romantic at times) set that taps adventurously into his loves for jazz, R&B, pop, funk, disco (via a re-imagined 70’s instrumental classic) and rock.
In a few short years, saxophonist Jarez has gone from being known as “Mr. Sexy Saxy’ to the mayor of J FUNK CITY! While known to millions as touring saxophonist and right-hand man for Coolio – and his appearances on the rap star’ web series “Cookin’ With Coolio” – the saxophonist has scored an impressive string of smooth urban hits and albums playing it silky, sensual and romantic. This new collection has its steamy moments, but for the most part it’s a punchier, ultra-funky blast featuring a more muscular, emotionally impactful approach. Jarez’s wild success these past years has opened doors for him to invite all-star guests Julian Vaughn, Vandell Andrew, Willie Bradley, Ragan Whiteside and Gerald Albright (on bass!) to help him execute his supercharged vision.
It’s always wise to listen to the soul experts when they tout a must hear blast of urban jazz. Esteemed R&B biographer David Ritz calls “Hi Ya Bye Ya,” the latest single by all-star ensemble Jazz Holdouts featuring legendary bassist Nathan East, “seductive, designed to simultaneously stimulate and soothe. . .with grooves tailored to tame a nervous nation.” Fueled by the peppy, high octane rolling funk stirred up by core members Louis Cortelizzi (sax), Alan Palanker (keyboards) and Michael Thompson (guitar), the speedy paced track is the perfect top down, breeze in your face, late summer anthem. The single, from the band’s upcoming album titled HOLDING ON, is being released to radio in several mixes, sure to offer something to everyone!
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.
“Trophy Shelf" is the culmination of artistry from singer/songwriters Melanie Jo and M’Lynn, producer Fivel, and lyrical master L A C E. The four met while attending University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. Melanie Jo and Fivel, while working on their own duo project, found themselves needing a set of extra ears on the beat originally known as “XXX.” M’Lynn got a hold of the beat, and quickly wrote the chorus to “Trophy Shelf” based on her budding relationship with rapper and producer L A C E. Once all four powerhouses got in a room together, the rest of the track was written. The final project features lead vocals by M’Lynn, and beautiful background vocal textures from Melanie Jo and L A C E, masterfully blending all of these artist’s styles into one soulful song!
In the dozen or so years between the release of his last studio album and this new collection, A RAY OF HOPE, world traveling Chicago-based bassist and composer, Michael Manson and his wife Lana have served the needs of thousands of students at their Musical Arts Institute. Now back in full swing and groove, the multi-talented artist – who’s played with genre elites Steve Cole, Brian Culbertson, Kirk Whalum and Larry Carlton, among others – picks up where he left off, alternating instantly infectious, brass-fired, melodic funk with a graceful jazz waltz and sensual ballads featuring pianist Ben Tankard and vocalist Kevin Whalum. The multi-mood swinging party also includes guest shots by Najee, Kevin Whalum, Lin Rountree, Ben Tankard, James Lloyd, Darren Rahn, and Tom Braxton!
It may sound funny for a guy nicknamed “Motown Moe” to work out of a studio in Chicago, but the keyboardist/composer and Air Force veteran is a Detroit cat through and through - a former member of United Steel Workers and United Auto Workers Unions who grew up on classic R&B and funky jazz fusion and cut his musical teeth in the Motor City. His prolific nearly 15-year career soars to new heights with his vibey new album LIVING MY BEST LIFE, which showcases his mastery of blending sensual moods with lively deep pocket and sometimes unconventional and exotic rhythm patterns, along with his bandleading prowess leading vibrant ensembles featuring the likes of Nils, Rick Stone, Tony Craddock Jr, Tony Guerrero, Ryan Svendson, Chris Campbell and Darron Cookie Moore.
The title of Grammy nominated composer, guitarist, bassist and multi-instrumentalist Dennis Murphy’s 1999 debut HIT ME HARD, perfectly captures the intensity he’s brought over the years to his multitude of endeavors as an early genre radio personality (whose show “Bass Trax” was produced by Smoothjazz.com founder, Sandy Shore), clinician and founder of a popular Monterey, California music school, and studio and touring sideman for Acoustic Alchemy, Maria Muldaur, Billy Preston among others. On this latest foray, the eclectic, ultra-melodic and tightly grooving OUR HIGHER SELVES, Murphy darts artfully between colorful guitar playing and bass-driven Smooth Jazz, fusion, playful samba and spiritual soul while freewheeling with an all-star cast including elite saxophonists Kirk Whalum, Eric Marienthal, Gary Meek and Tower Of Power’s Tom Politzer, as well as late guitar great Jeff Golub and legendary drummer Will Kennedy!
With the release of GRADY NICHOLS & FRIENDS – LIVE!, the Oklahoma-based saxophonist celebrates 25 years as one of contemporary jazz’s most versatile recording artists – an era that’s found him crossing from Smooth Jazz to R&B to Christian pop, earning multiple awards and opening for Ray Charles, Pavarotti, Wayman Tisdale and The Beach Boys. Capturing the multi-faceted, stylistically eclectic magic of his live performances, the action-packed, funky, rockin’ and sensual 110 minute set finds Nichols having a blast on a mix of originals – including two dazzling Jeff Lorber collaborations from Nichols’ 2004 album SOPHISTICATION - and dynamic re-imaginings of classic pop tunes (David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Hall & Oates) featuring an array of guests, including Lorber, Chris Rodriguez, Andy Chrisman, Rachael Lampa and Bill Champlin.
The great Grover Washington, Jr. discovered, nurtured, and produced Pieces Of A Dream while they were teenage phenoms still in high school. They return with their latest, FIRED UP featuring Special Guest Justin-Lee Schultz! The new collection is a funky, joyful musical celebration, filled with the melodic grooves that have made the band fan favorites. The 10 brilliant originals that run the gamut from ‘in the pocket’ R&B to sensuous Smooth Jazz jams are proof that Pieces Of A Dream are at the top of their game! Founding member, keyboardist James Lloyd, who has been a go-to hit maker and accompanist for such artists as Mary J. Blige, BB King, Najee, Wayman Tisdale, and others, shines on the new project along with co-founder, percussionist Curtis Harmon, together "Pieces" offers a unique sound, making them a true crowd pleaser!
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.
Ranked as one of the 50 Transcendent Acoustic Guitarists of all time by Guitar Player Magazine, Lawson Rollins has been an impactful virtuosic force on contemporary jazz and world music (both as half of Young & Rollins and a solo artist) using his flair for string and overall sonic intricacy and exotic adventure to create a hybrid fusion of Afro-Cuban, Spanish, Indian, Persian and Arabic music. Rollins’ latest stylistically wide-ranging excursion, the appropriately titled RISE, is yet another multi-cultural, polyrhythmic delight, featuring speedy Spanish-flavored romps, funky exotic jams, sensual bossa nova and graceful ballads with caressing atmospheric touches. Along the way, he vibes with guests like Haitian vocalist Jeff Pierre, saxophonist Mary Fettig and Grammy winning violinists Charlie Bisharat and Mads Tolling.
A dynamic force in chillout music who has brought progressive energy to Smooth Jazz since the mid-90s, Italian born, L.A. based keyboard maestro Paolo Rustichelli has mesmerized everyone from Miles Davis and Carlos Santana with his mystical jazz-funk productions. His latest single “Changes” is an infectious, atmospheric urban jazz funk romp whose colorful blend of piano and synth textures – with a fiery touch of sax - is rooted in a fascinating serendipitous jam with fellow synth lover Stevie Wonder. In the late 80s, Rustichelli was testing new synths and amps at a West L.A. store when Stevie heard his funky grooves and began improvising on another amplified keyboard. Decades later, Rustichelli brings that memory to life with the fresh, spontaneous joy he felt in that magic moment.
Ten years ago, when Tony Saunders titled his 2011 debut album ROMANCING THE BASS, the two-time Emmy winning Bay Area hyphenate (musician/composer/arranger/producer) set in motion an intoxicating, free-flowing torrent of snappy, grooving and sensual low-end vibes. The ever-percolating adventure culminates now on his Baja/TSR debut with the dynamic, emotionally resonant ALL ABOUT LOVE. It’s a generous 14-track slate of picture-perfect, pocket funk and steamy/sultry originals and re-imaginings (of classics by The Whispers and Burt Bachararch) that are bass driven but created in collaboration with an all-star array of genre greats – including Gail Jhonson, Blake Aaron, Paul Jackson, Jr., Greg Manning, Jazmin Ghent and Adam Hawley. Saunders has a blast taking us on what he dubs a “joyful ride on the Smooth Jazz rollercoaster".
A fast-emerging new discovery in the Smooth Jazz realm, versatile singer/songwriter Johnny Schaefer brings an incredible resume to his uplifting, delightfully infectious new single “You Can’t Hide The Light” - a heartfelt, then rousing, pop/jazz meets gospel duet with legendary Grammy winning vocalist Melissa Manchester. In addition to singing backup over the years for Manchester, Sarah Vaughan, Pete Townshend, Billy Idol and others, Schaefer has been cantor at Hollywood’s Blessed Sacrament Church for decades. An empowering song about healing and the way our inner light can dispel life’s darkness, it begins as an intimate seduction before introducing dynamic vocal chemistry, building towards a high-energy, vocal dance between the singers – all backed with hip, edgy production textures.
Fresh off her #1 Billboard charting album FREE TO BE, classical and contemporary jazz flutist extraordinaire and syndicated radio host Kim Scott marks a stellar ten years as a force in Smooth Jazz – and lays an empowering foundation for the 2022 release of her fifth collection, SHINE! – by pairing up with her fellow grooving flute virtuosos Althea Rene and Ragan Whiteside on a wildly adventurous re-imagining of the Chaka Khan anthem “I’m Every Woman.” Over a hip and edgy, discofied groove with buoyant synth, the trio stirs the funky-jazzy magic with intricately intertwined melody lines, hypnotic improvisational swirls and transcendent three-part harmonies. The track starts as an instrumental but by the end, you’ll be singing that evergreen hook along with the tune's lush vocal harmonies!
A bright and hopeful dual burst of fluid, free-spirited piano and muscular sax energy that speaks to and captures the vibrancy of better days ahead, the single “In These Times” marks the dynamic first time pairing of veteran artists Michael Silverman (the most streamed pianist in the world) and stylistically diverse jazz great Eric Marienthal. Featuring James Lloyd (Pieces Of A Dream), Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets) and Michael’s brother, acclaimed drummer Rob Silverman, it’s the first single for the duo from their upcoming album of the same name. While Marienthal has thrived for decades in deep funk and explosive improvisation, Silverman gets into the urban groove after years of playing everything from new age/chill, solo piano and classical music to traditional jazz. He’s a master of them all!
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!
In early 2021, Spontaneous Groovin’ Combustion – the intensely funky ensemble led by veteran composer, producer, and saxophonist Warren A. Keller, released their self-titled debut album featuring four previously released hit singles. The first offering from their second album is the supremely uplifting, joyful jam, “All’s Well” – produced by fellow genre hitmaker Blake Aaron, which delivers exactly the hopeful message that our weary ears need to hear. While it’s a total group effort featuring Keller’s always emotional, punch-filled sax playing, and the lively drumming of Tony Moore – the spirited track is a dynamic showcase for guest bassist Brendan Rothwell, who carries the high-octane melodic flow, before engaging in some colorful conversation with Keller, leaving us with the feeling that all is indeed well!
From COAST DRIVE to ENDLESS SUMNER and RIDE THE WAVE, the titles and coastal vibes of Will Sumner’s decade-plus string of albums make the versatile composer and electric guitarist the Smooth Jazz equivalent of the Beach Boys. The name of his latest collection OCEAN STREET – also the moniker of his indie label – has a more personal meaning: it’s the locale of his longtime family home near the Ocean in Carlsbad, where his mother lived until she passed away at 96. You can feel Sumner’s heartfelt sentimental passion amidst the lively blasts of sandy musical sunshine and chillaxed grooves. As we party at this inviting destination, Sumner treats us to a flow that’s alternately laid back, playful, tropical and driving.
Originally formed in San Diego by keyboardist Jayson Tipp in the early 90s, versatile contemporary jazz fusion vets Under the Lake continue their extraordinary Renaissance of the past few years with the ensemble’s aptly titled OLD FRIENDS, NEW GROOVES. The wildly adventurous, perfect for a high-spirited road trip collection’s rapidly shifting vibes – from R&B to funk to blues to rock to Smooth Jazz – and colorful song titles combine to tell the group’s fascinating experience of living through and making a socially and geographically distanced recording during the pandemic. The old pals – including bassist Nathan Brown, drummer Richard Sellers, guitarist Patrick Yandall and saxophonist/flutist Quintin Gerard W – infuse the set with high octane solo action throughout. This one celebrates three decades of contemporary jazz at its finest!
When guitarist/composer Patrick Yandall moved from Michigan to his longtime hometown of San Diego in the early 1980’s, his goal was to share his music everywhere – an ambition he’s fulfilled dynamically via his decades of TV and film credits, countless appearances as a sideman and, since the mid-90s, one of contemporary jazz’s most prolific artists. Still funky, fluid, crisply melodic, and alternately sensual and high octane after nearly 30 years, Yandall’s 27th album CHASING THE LIGHT follows on the heels of his earlier, vocal oriented 2021 release SOMEDAY SOMEWHERE. With 13 tracks on his latest, Yandall offers a master class in engaging grooves, robust and intricate electric guitar playing, rockin’ fire, hipster strutting and lively swirls of tropical exotica.
Listening Loft : MUST HAVES
Since launching his solo career in 2006, Rome-born and based composer/acoustic guitarist Marco Albani has shared his expansive global consciousness via demanding works that have fused acoustic jazz with Mediterranean, African, and South American textures and rhythms. The title of his latest collection KALLAAMA – from a Senegalese idiom meaning “language,” specifically the universal language of music – speaks to the ambitious thematic concept and dynamic, polyrhythmic culturally fluid scope of the project. It’s a wildly spirited, multi-lingual affair (English, French and idioms of Italian, Senegalese and Zambian) pairing Albani’s bright guitarisma with featured saxophonist Javier Girotto and renowned international vocalists Frances Alina Ascione, Kaw Sissoko, Andrea Sanchini, Umberto Vitiello, Clea Scala, Carla Cocco and Velka-Sai. Collectively, they fulfill Albani’s vision to celebrate freedom, love, hope, fearlessness, and the overcoming of challenges.
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.
Grooving up the Smooth Jazz charts album after album, versatile Detroit-based guitarist Dee Brown’s multi-faceted musical character stems from an intrinsic spirituality that’s unafraid to ask the right questions. Yes, even about the DEEP SECRETS of God, as he passionately explores (in the wake of his mother’s passing) on his funky, soulful, and contemplative new gospel-fired album, co-produced with Grammy-nominated producer Valdez Brantley and featuring guests Lin Rountree, Blair Bryant and Merlon Devine and mixes by Blake Aaron, Darren Rahn and Nate Harasim. Many of the tracks may be inspired by Scripture, but everyone will love his alternately edgy and silky string vibe and the enticing mix of dance floor gems and breezy ballads - including one of where Brown affectionately name checks his first grandchild!
Dipping into the UNPERFECT collection, song craftsman and vocalist Marshall Charloff releases two more singles, post Coronavirus pandemic. The first, “Colours,” a beautiful, mood-swept vocal landscape penned with the inspiration of melody provided by Prince’s sister who received the notes in her sleep and invited Marshall to be the vessel for the song. Incidentally this kind of divine delivery is common to the family as Prince and his father received musical motifs in the same fashion. The second single, “Eye For Jazz,” is an earworm instrumental track that combines all that’s cool about Smooth Jazz and neo-soul into one buoyant song with a hook that’s sure to get stuck in your head! Charloff is currently holding a residency in Las Vegas with his one man show, the intimate, top selling ticket, Purple Piano, and he’s back on tour with The Purple Xperience, the world’s most successful Tribute to Prince and The Revolution.
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.
Nearly ten years after first hitting the Smoothjazz.com Top 50 chart, Montreal based R&B-jazz-fusion trio Groove 55 is still going full tilt, infusing their sixth album JAZZFUL SPIRIT with soulfully eclectic grooves, sparkling melodies and high-octane performances by multi-saxophonist and clarinetist Yves Adam, keyboardist Jacques Mignault and guitarist Nicolas Chourout. Beyond showcasing dynamic Canadian guest artists (most notably, vocalists Jojo Dupras and Jean-Claude Béliveau), the joy here lies in the trio’s inimitable sense of adventure, which rolls from pocket funk and sizzling electric rock fusion to a hypnotic ode to Jaco Pastorius and sonically trippy clarinet centered voyages by Adam.
Approaching its 60th Anniversary, “Watermelon Man (Radio Mix)” the iconic Herbie Hancock tune hundreds of jazz greats have recorded and jammed to, finds dynamic, freewheeling new expression in the imaginative and adventurous musical universe of multi-talented, three-time Grammy nominated Bay Area percussionist, producer and film composer James Henry (Hands On Fire Band). The unbridled, exotic joys of the arrangement are rooted in a seductive timbale rhythm by the legendary Pete Escovedo, Bob Crawford’s sparkling Latin kissed piano solo, trilled island-flavored vocal whoops, sizzling horns and chant-along vocals by Henry and the legendary artist/producer Narada Michael Walden. The track offers pure toe tapping, shout out loud freedom.
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.
Having performed alongside jazz and gospel greats ranging from the late Clark Terry and Kirk Whalum to Marvin Winans, multi-talented Kansas City saxophonist JahVelle continues his quick emergence in Smooth Jazz with “Up All Night,” a sparkling, sensually grooving mid-tempo ballad showcasing his deep sense of romantic soprano expression, passion for horn textures and ability to set the perfect mood. For this fast-rising Tiktok star (with 75,000+ followers) and viral sensation (whose last video scored 1.5 million views), making great sax tracks is merely the foundation of his personal mission as a social influencer that includes public speaking, activism and cultivating what he calls a “soulful new wave in music through love, positivity and empowerment.”
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!
From his 2006 debut album TRAVELER through his popular 2019 single “Slow Pacific,” Norwegian-born, longtime Southern California based tenor saxophonist, Terje Lie, always captures the range of movement in music and life through his titles. He keeps that inspiring “motion” theme going on his latest single “Flow.” Centered around Lie’s sultry sax melody, it’s a silky, jazzy tune with a smooth, strolling vibe that creates the perfect soundtrack for an end of summer slow dance, or reflecting on sunny days gone by. While many of his previous recordings featured collaborations with Grammy winning greats Jeff Lorber and Jimmy Haslip, Lie shines mostly as a one man band here, producing and playing piano, keys and bass while drummer Tony Moore kicks up the irresistible groove.
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!
A stylistically powerful showcase for his legendary sax skills (Brian Bromberg, Jeff Lorber, Green Day) and equally impressive keyboard playing, the wide range of emotions Meek generates on his adventurous, fusion-fired album MONTEREY GROOVE, might not have been recorded had it not been for Covid-19. The collection was originally intended to be new material for a developing Monterey Peninsula fusion band with neighbor/guitarist Michael Lent (Barry Manilow, Jeffery Osborne). However, the new ensemble struck charismatic musical gold and then the pandemic hit before their first gig. Luckily for listeners around the world, Meek hit record on the new material! With a career that includes more than 200 recordings and notable collaborations with world-class drummer Dave Weckl and a 20-year stint with Brazilian icons Flora Purim and Airto Moreira, this dynamic collection celebrating Meek’s passion for California’s Central Coast features Flora & Airto, as well as Weckl, local bassist Dennis Murphy and of course Mike Lent.
Wrapping up two dynamic decades of successful contemporary urban jazz indie releases, Detroit-raised bass wizard Darron “Cookie” Moore uses his vibrantly melodic and deeply rhythmic axe on his perfectly titled new album LET IT BREW to find that magical sweet spot between laid back atmospheric cool, sonically intoxicating light funk and high octane, densely percussive Latin and club-ready vibes. The multi-faceted artist - also a force in gospel, has played extensively in church and recorded praise and worship albums. Listen as he stirs up his feel-good, energetic grooves with longtime cohorts and friends, including LaDarrel Johnson (Saxappeal) and guitarist Joe Flav.
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.
A versatile multi-instrumentalist who’s been a rising force in Smooth Jazz since his 2016 debut album SUMMER’S GONE, Jim Richter has mastered numerous genres in bands and on his own over the years – from jazz and blues to rock and classical. Kicking back a bit after the explosive blend of funk, pop, rock jams and blues romps that infused his 2020 album MR. KOOL, Richter’s latest catchy single “Catamaran” is a breezy, easy flowing showcase for his formidable dual skills as a soul-jazz keyboardist and rock-jazz guitarist. On the main melody, over the tight grooves of drummer Jack Jones, he creates a dreamy duality with Chris Otts’ lyrical soprano sax – which he punctuates in the middle with an emotional e-guitar solo.
With his recent Billboard charting hits “Heat” feat Dave Koz and “Chillin’,” and now the bold, brassy and ultra-funkified new single “Ironic,” the inspiring story of Ilya Serov’s blazing emergence in Smooth Jazz could be called “Wild Adventures on the Jazz-o-horn,” an entirely new instrument (created from a flugelhorn base) that he innovated with Taylor Trumpets’ Andy Taylor. The tasty, infectious R&B flavored excitement he brings to “Ironic” - the latest single from his upcoming debut Smooth Jazz album JUST FRIENDS - is stylistically worlds away from the classically trained Russian-born, multi-talented musician’s earlier jazz standards recordings. It may be ironic, but we hope he’ll stay this pocket for the sake of Smooth Jazz!
A former “Tonight Show” bandmember who served as Stanley Clarke’s musical director for ten years, keyboardist composer Knick Smith™ brings a multi-faceted Joe Samplesque piano and keyboard vibe to ROMANCE, his dazzling and soulful, stylistically freewheeling Smooth Jazz debut album that follows several traditional jazz projects. Showcasing his fanciful, grooving originals and jazzing up Prince, and Barry White classics, Smith offers up the perfect fusion of lush sensuality, wildly grooving jams, innovative keyboard musings and sparkling improvisations. Along the way, he vibes passionately with several prominent guest artists, including vocalists Jeff Robinson and Lynne Fiddmont and famed percussionist Munyungo Jackson.
With the release of “Sweet Breeze,” the infectiously soul-jazzy, slyly funky and steadily rockin’ debut single and title track of the forthcoming full album 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, which is the title of their 2nd single, leading them to global Smooth Jazz audience.
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.
Listening Loft : ESSENTIALS
Guitarist North “2unes” Woodall is a force of musical nature who’s shared stages with numerous R&B and jazz legends (Lakeside, The Ohio Players, Roy Ayers) and is a longtime staple on the Atlanta music scene. His latest single, “Funkie Sister (By Ur Side)" finds him, and the always magical, two-time Grammy nominated keyboardist Chris “Big Dog” Davis funkin’ around, forging a cool intertwining duality over a punched up shuffle groove, topped with dynamic horn accents - then letting loose and trading fiery and sparkling solos that take the song’s emotion to the next level.
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.
After putting his musical passions on hold to serve in the military as an Army medic and practical nurse, Washington DC native Benny Kyler – who goes by the hipster moniker Be’Ne – promisingly launches his career with MIDNIGHT MASALA. It’s a supremely soulful, endlessly grooving, vocal-infused debut album that, true to its title reference to an Indian spice, offers a flavorful, cross-cultural experience that includes everything from urban and Smooth Jazz to R&B, deep funk, rap, African music and island vibes. Special guests include Eddic Baccus Jr. and Bernardo Bosisio.
Bringing a unique solo horn sound to the Smooth Jazz flow, versatile trombonist Hank Bilal – who released his debut album BRASSENTIAL ELEMENTS in 2015 - engages in his second duet with veteran pianist Marcus Johnson on his latest single “Desires” – a moody, romantic, and reflective ballad that floats Bilal’s sensual melody and Johnson’s understated elegant keys over a lush ambient dreamscape and gentle groove. Bilal, a renowned educator who performed with Aretha Franklin at the Grammys and featured Gerald Albright on his THE BLACK AQUARIUS album, makes a sensually restrained yet bold case for the ‘bone as a mainstream genre instrument.
Talk about an artist offering something for everyone! On his perfectly titled debut Smooth Jazz EP GUITARS-A-FIRE, Art Boffi takes an exhilarating, multi-faceted approach to introducing us to his crisp, yet remarkably fluid and often rock/blues driven style on the arch-top. He opens with a lyrical, richly atmospheric take on a classic Whitney Houston ballad, then finds the furious crackling fire on a Chick Corea classic that was originally an expansive meditation. Boffi proves that his string virtuosity matches his compositional skills on the set’s third track, a feisty, high-octane Latin jam that brings the fire promised in the EP title.
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.
A versatile keyboardist and bandleader whose ensemble The Reggie Buie Group has been a popular mainstay in the Winston-Salem area for over 15 years, Reggie Buie continues making infectious waves in Smooth Jazz with his latest single, a sparkling and sensual re-imagining of the Babyface composed, Tevin Campbell early 90s #1 R&B hit and Soul Train Award winning “Can We Talk.” Though the dreamy vocal hook keeps the track hopping, ultimately, it’s Reggie’s dazzling melodies and improvisations on both piano and gospel/blues infused organ that sets this apart from many other Smooth Jazz covers of classic urban pop hits.
The COVID downtime proved a blessing in disguise for veteran greats like Donn Bynum, a onetime sideman for the Commodores, Bootsy Collins and The Brothers Johnson who had been away since his second album in 2013. The multi-talented saxophonist returns with a funky, party hearty, super danceable vibe – finely balanced with a few sensual laid-back ballads and a sexy Latin romp – on his latest collection DONN B! To help showcase his richly emotional expressions and wild virtuosity, Bynum makes it a jam with Paul Jackson, Jr., Lew Laing Jr., former Earth, Wind & Fire guitarist Sheldon Reynolds and some amazing vocalists.
Saxophonist Tarik Clark may be a relative newcomer to Smooth Jazz, but he’s been serving in the ministry at his home church in Houston and has wowed thousands performing in South Africa and Kenya. And no wonder. His latest infectiously melodic, slow simmering, passionately soaring single “Soul Surpluss” lives up to its clever name with an intense showcase of the multi-talented musician’s robust style and emotional energy, dynamic horn texturing on the poppin’ hook and a powerful production approach featuring a Fender Rhodes sound. The song title and the track’s overall impact will truly inspire people to cry out for more!
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.
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.
Originated by Rex Harrison as a dramatic plot-point song in Lerner & Loewe’s My Fair Lady, “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” has become a much-recorded standard over the years, recorded by hundreds of pop, soul and jazz artists. Nearly three decades into his extraordinary recording career, well-traveled, standard-performing vocalist Doug Ferony draws on the subtle romantic charms of his interpretive artistry – and his lengthy side career as a film actor - for a lush, balmy, intimate and laid back version featuring Doug Monro’s hypnotic acoustic guitar harmonies and a dreamy, lyrical soprano sax solo by Mike Dopazo.
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!
A true musical citizen of the world, Brussels born, Madrid and Washington, DC raised and now San Diego-based vocalist Debora Galán chose to re-imagine the Oscar nominated Michel Legrand/Marilyn & Alan Bergman classic “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life” as an homage to her idol Barbra Streisand. Yet while Streisand and countless others have done it as a ballad, Galán brings the Latin fire, igniting an exotic, wildly funky jam - including an explosive Spanish language choral section, produced by Emmy-winner Allan Phillips - with some high energy guests, including Arturo Sandoval’s drummer Tiki Pasillas, bassist Nathan Brown (Coco Montoya) and San Diego tenor saxman John Rekevics.
Multi-genre guitarist, producer, composer, arranger and songwriter, Jason “Slim” Gambill has been lighting up hit songs and stages since 2008 with 7-time, multi-platinum, Grammy-winning country music group Lady A. Yet he’s always been a jazz cat, mesmerized by the possibilities of his instrument since hearing George Benson’s BREEZIN' at 14. While Gambill’s 2020 collection LCD was a high-octane, rock-jazz-fusion project (with one track featuring Mindi Abair), his dynamic new single “Up” is a super-melodic, vintage-tinged, in the pocket delight, aligning perfectly with the infectious vibes of his Smooth Jazz heroes. Charlton Singleton of the Grammy winning Gullah band Ranky Tanky, balances Gambill’s playful, jazzy riffs with his silky smooth flugelhorn.
The second album from the James Morgan-led Ghost Jazz Trio offers up adventurous, rhythmically multi-faceted, urban funk-jazz meets classic jazz fusion. It’s no surprise to learn that the well-traveled guitarist, composer and producer grew up influenced by Return to Forever and Mahavishnu Orchestra and took lessons from RTF’s Bill Connors. The 2021 San Diego Music Awards nominee – whose lineup includes bassist Nathan Brown and drummer Jack Nathan – does everything from hard-edged rock/funk and hipster trad jazz swing to sensual, laid-back smoothness. San Diego guitar great Patrick Yandall is also on board, adding his trademark crackle and fire.
Truly embodying the American dream sought by his Haitian immigrant parents, the Miami saxophonist fully embraces and embodies the title concept of his debut EP, SOARIN’ with a slate of high energy, robustly played melodies, grooves and brass-fired jams. Though Labossiere is new on the Smooth Jazz scene, he brings a vibrant, eclectic history to his emotionally intense solo artistry – including leading his own band, D-Jazz Funk, playing everything from be-bop to tribal funk and spending 17 years (including several as musical director) with one of South Florida’s top R&B ensembles, the Valerie Tyson Band.
The stellar NOTHIN’ BUT LOVE is a true testament to vocal interpreter extraordinaire Kathy Lyon, who’s keen ability to convey rich emotion and confidence has bolstered her over the course of a 40+ year career. Starting as a duo with her husband Tom in Washington, DC, the jazz singer's previous best known albums are engaging live recordings. While we anxiously await Kathy’s 2022 studio release, this wonderful, latest collection finds her swinging slyly and balladeering passionately on a colorful batch of standards from the Great American Songbook with an ensemble of veteran jazz greats, including producer/saxophonist Houston Person (sounding amazing at 86 years young!), as well as pianist Lafayette Harris Jr., guitarist Peter Hand, bassist Matthew Parrish and drummer Vince Ector.
With the release of his 2017 breakthrough album SWEET DREAMS, and now his soaring, eminently grooving single “Lakeshore Drive,” saxophonist, renowned educator and veteran studio musician Ves Marable is carrying on a sacred jazz tradition in his highly musical family. His pop/R&B influenced Smooth Jazz, urban vibe may be different from pianist Fate Marable (Louis Armstrong, Red Allen) and drummer Larance Marable (Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Chet Baker), but his towering passion and emotional intensity add joyfully to the legacy. Ukranian guitarist Oleg Kuznietsov adds extra electric soul-jazz energy to this instant drive time classic.
Embodying the title of his cool-breezy and sensually funky new album, veteran keyboardist Jody Mayfield knows a little something about DOING THE DO – an expression meaning, “if you’re going to do something, do it well.” In addition to working with top hip-hop producers, he’s performed with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Grover Washington, Jr. and James Lloyd. Stirring up snappy grooves, hypnotic keyboard melodies and dreamy atmospheres, he invites several special guests – including saxman Walter Beasley – to a mix that blends the best of his stylistic worlds, with the intention of promoting positive vibes in response to these difficult times.
While perhaps for comfort’s sake and to see once again just how creative his re-imaginings can be, longtime fans of romantic soul singer/songwriter Len Mizzoni may start their dig into his delightfully eclectic self-titled new album by immersing in his mesmerizing hipster electronica twists of two Great American Songbook standards. As his Smooth Jazz career has taken off, he’s proven to be a deft, soulful interpreter. Testament to his expansive talents as an emotionally impactful songwriter, however, his deeper, more intimate charms and romantic storytelling brilliance come through even more powerfully on his many originals with his emotive voice and powerful charisma.
Offering an easy flowing, uplifting burst of optimism with his latest single “Sunnyside Up,” Randy Muller Boom Chang Bang is the latest creative incarnation for the lifelong funkateer, whose groove credibility extends back to the 1970s and includes adding his flute, vocal and keyboard magic to BT Express, Skyy and his own ensembles Brass Construction, Brooklyn Soul Biscuits, Brooklyn Groove Machine, etc. “Sunnyside Up” – the title track to his upcoming album – chills and seduces with guest Larry Marsden’s hypnotic wah guitar melody and Muller’s lyrical flute solo. As an added bonus, it’s part of a unique double A-side single with the nostalgic party jam “Welcome To My Life (Single Mix),” another future album inclusion which showcases even more of Muller’s expressive energy on flute and Fender Rhodes.
Saxophonist Melton Mustafa Jr. brings a unique and extensive musical background to his funky and soulfully robust Smooth Jazz debut single, the uplifting gospel influenced anthem “Mosaic Love.” The son of a renowned trumpeter who played with the Count Basie and Duke Ellington orchestras, Mustafa is a two-time Grammy nominated educator who’s performed with the Ray Charles Band and festivals with Boney James and LL Cool J. The track features Mustafa blending his silky, emotional sax melody with a rousing vocal choir singing about the power of love, feeling victorious and looking forward to brighter days ahead.
A vibrant, multi-faceted instrumental and vocal reflection of personal and collective turbulence and trauma of 2020, Demetrius Nabors’ latest album PERSEVERANCE started with a prayer – which led the veteran pianist, composer and producer to weave his bright infectious melodies, spirited piano and synth licks along with deep emotional grooves that swing from dreamy, seductive ballads to slammin’ celebratory soul jazz fusion. The two-time Detroit Music Award winner – who has produced hits for KEM, Althea Rene, Tim Bowman and Willie Bradley – is also known as “Krayon,” and he elevates his colorful blend with special guests like Rene and saxophonist Randy Scott.
Bringing some of the most inviting, soulful and sultry vocals to Smooth Jazz since Maysa, emerging South Florida singer Nai Sounds creates a great personal intro to her dreamy-cool energy on her Facebook artist page: “20 something, jazz bred, the performing arts, love, peace, soul, vibes…” The most unique aspect of her intoxicating debut single “Can’t Deal” is the contrast between the lyrics about a troubled relationship and the seductive, richly atmospheric sway of the music. Helping her bring out the deep emotion of the tune – and adding his subtle smoky sax harmonies and solo to the mix – is the song’s co-writer and producer, two-time Grammy nominated educator Melton Mustafa, Jr. Get into the easy-flowing groove and let Nai Sounds carry you away!
Having laid the groundwork for his emergence in Smooth Jazz playing with everyone from Hugh Jackman, The Who, Temptations and Aretha Franklin, veteran Detroit saxman and “woodwind doubler” Andrew Nichols’ soulful and shimmering debut single “I Love the Way You Love Me” is the perfect laid back yet richly emotional, romantic soundtrack. This multi-talented musician notes that he was inspired to become an artist after hearing Dave Koz’s classic LUCKY MAN album. That influence rings strongly as he seduces us with a vibe that’s sultry, lilting, and easy grooving – yet includes dynamic improvisations hinting at a richer artistry.
No Smooth Jazz album title captures our hopeful collective mood these days better than RETURN TO SANITY, the dynamic follow-up to Bigger Picture, the first full on collaboration between musical compadres Paul Messina (sax, flutes) and Mark Harris (bass), who have been creating and producing music together for 35 years. The generous 13 track, nearly hourlong set rolls along seamlessly yet truly delights in its eclectic sensibilities, mood swinging heavily between robust, hard grooving, sax driven funk, balmy, lyrical tropical tinged excursions, and thoughtful, dreamy reflections.
A true musical citizen of the world, pianist/keyboardist and composer Arie Salma was born in Israel to Spanish parents, grew up listening to flamenco, African and Mediterranean Music, leads the flamenco jazz group Sonido and now exotically graces and grooves us with his wild, freewheeling new album BRAZILIAN MUSE. Vibing with top, all-star jazz session cats and Brazilian vocalist Teka, Salma jams on everything from funked up electric fusion and seductive blues to lilting yet sassy Bossa Nova, complementing his lively piano work with the hypnotic, classic styled keyboard vibes of organ and Fender Rhodes.
Gearing up for the release of LANGUAGE OF THE SOUL, his first album in 10 years, veteran guitarist extraordinaire and recent cancer survivor Richard Smith follows his power-packed single “Let’s Roll” (a #1 Add to Smoothjazz.com) with the playful and rambunctious, equally funked up and intensely horn-fired jam “Soul Share.” Co-written, like the earlier tune, with Adam Hawley – a onetime student of Smith’s at USC - the high energy, in the pocket romp celebrates the deeply intuitive musical and spiritual conversations and camaraderie Smith has shared for decades with his friend, the always spot on saxophonist Richard Elliot.
When we play James “PJ” Spraggins’ latest single “Up From Here” on Spotify, we’re treated to accompanying video imagery of a large plane taking off and flying along a coastline. That’s exactly the soaring feeling the veteran drummer/composer/producer – who has skinned with several Smooth Jazz artists, including Kim Scott – conveys on this soulful, wild-hearted and exuberantly funky 2-song EP. While keeping the dynamic groove hopping, he leaves the sparkling melodic graces that drive the title track and current single to two contemporary jazz masters, keyboardist Greg Manning and guitarist Eric Essix, whose fiery solo lifts the song into a smooth rockin’ stratosphere!
With the release of their sultry, wistful and gently heartbreaking new single “Love You From Afar,” The Frost Duo – aka vocalist/songwriter LeahBeth Evans and multi-instrumentalist/composer Christian Gratz - invite Smooth Jazz fans to, as they write on their website, “Get Frosted with Chris and Leah.” The infectious, lilting follow-up to their unique, laid back twist on Black Sabbath’s ‘Changes,” “Love You From Afar” – a lush showcase for LeahBeth’s dreamy and emotional vocals and Christian’s crackling electric guitar energy - was inspired lyrically by heartbreak stories from friends and acquaintances and musically by classic soft rock and disco vibes.
One of Smooth Jazz’s hippest Euro imports call themselves Threestyle, but the veteran multiple award winning, #1 Billboard charting group’s groovy and hard rockin’ yet soulfully sultry urban jazz flow comes from the ongoing, ever more spontaneous, and adventurous vision of founding trio, Bavarian guitarist Robert Fertl and Czech Republic born featured saxophonist Magdalena Chovancova, and her twin Gabriela (drums). Launching with gusto into their second decade of hit making, their latest sensual and super-charged gem PERFECT COMBINATION lives up to its title with a freewheeling, funk based yet often uber-romantic flow featuring R&B flavored guest vocals from Damon Dae, Tim Owens, Latonya Black and So Cal faves DW3.