Tuesday, March 29, 2016



A solid set from Chicago guitarist Andy Brown – a nicely understated player, but a great one too – working here with a very classic sense of tone, and a great chromatic range on his instrument! Brown knows how to inflect his chords in just the right way – making simple moments come across with a subtle sense of power – alongside an easygoing combo who really gives him plenty of time to shine out front in the lead! Quartet members include Jeremy Kahn on piano, Phil Gratteau on drums, and Joe Policastro on bass – and titles include "Funk In Deep Freeze", "Ela E Carioca", "Catch Me", "One Morning In May", "Relaxing", "El Cajon", and "Jeep Is Jumpin".  ~ Dusty Groove


Corey Dennison's making one of his trademark growls of expression on the cover – a gritty grimace that seems to come from down deep inside and really inflect his music with a surprising amount of soul! Dennison's a midwestern bluesman, but has roots in the south – which really come through on this record – both in the swamp-styled way he inflects his guitar, and the soulful currents he brings to his vocals – an approach that's often as unabashed as blue-eyed southerners from the past, like Tony Joe White or Wayne Cochran. Corey's more blues-based overall, but still has that wide range we love in both of those artists – and titles are all originals, and include "She's No Good", "Room To Breathe", "The Deacon", "Getcha Pull", "Tugboat Blues", and "Good Enuff". ~ Dusty Groove


Yolanda Rabun's got a great groove here – a sound that's even tighter, warmer, and jazzier than on her previous album – with all the poise and class you'd expect from her image on the cover! The instrumentation's nice and laidback – plenty of keyboards, and less of the beats that you might expect – with gentle rhythms served up in a nicely tripping style that lets Rabun really open up her vocal flow! The set features great remakes of "Rocket Love", "Be My Husband", and "Feel Like Making Love" – alongside the originals "Believe In Love", "Hold On To Your Dreams", and "Yes".  ~  Dusty Groove



Damn funky work from the west coast scene of the late 60s and early 70s – just the kind of tracks to dispel the idea that too much sun or cannabis might have left the Cali scene a bit weak! Instead, these cuts are right on the money, stone funky throughout, and light years from any sort of California connotations you may have – no west coast jazz, smooth AOR, or breezy Bay Area – and much more of the grit and groove that was brewing up on funky 45s from all points east! Drums are heavy, guitars are sharp, and vocals are super-righteous – filled with the kind of messages that you could only get across on the sort of small label releases that make up most of this set – and which also include a few unreleased tracks appearing here for the first time ever. As usual with BGP, the package is as superb as the music – great sound, detailed notes, and a wonderful track selection that includes "Earthquake" by Rulie Garcia, "Hang Up (part 1)" by Warm Excursion, "Pickin Cotton" by Johnny Talbot & De-Thangs, "If She Wants To Go" by Choice Of Colors, "Just Ain't My Day" by The Entertainers IV, "The Git Down (parts 1 & 2)" by Little Johnny Hamilton & The Soul Pack, "Strike" by Union, "I'm Gonna Speak Out" by Eddie Horan, "The Man" by Jesse & Anita, "Check Me Out" by Little Denise, "The Sneak" by The Douzer, "You Don't Know The Damage You've Done" by Vernon Green & The Medallions, and "Tuned In Turned On" by Alvin Robinson. ~ Dusty Groove


A very moody trio recording from this hip combo – a group that features Marilyn Crispell on piano, Gary Peacock on bass, and Richard Poole on drums! Poole's a player we're not that familiar with, but he wins us over right away – and definitely earns the right to be in the heady company of Crispell and Peacock with his careful sense of sound on the drums, and his creative ways of shifting their role in the music and place in the overall texture of the recording. Crispell's beautifully restrained, but in a way that makes her even more powerful than ever – and Peacock sounds as wonderful here as on his best records from years back – with a magnificent sense of moment that seems to balance his playing perfectly. Titles include "Dichotomy", "Ahzan", "Backseat Of The Galaxy", "Dichotomy", "Blue Streets Up & Down", and "Lucid Air".  ~ Dusty Groove


Tenorist Tom Tallistch has gotten plenty of love from our ears in recent years – and with a record as great as this, he's bound to get plenty more! Tom comes on strong with a really deep tenor sound – a mode that we might put in a range between Hank Mobley and Eric Alexander – boldly rhythmic, but also very skilled at personal phrasing – with solos that fly out effortlessly on top of a crack rhythm combo that features Jon Davis on piano, Peter Brendler on bass, and Rudy Royston on drums – deeply exploring the full range of the tenor, but never in a way that calls attention to its process. Brian Charette joins the group on Hammond for two tracks – but most of the set is from the quartet, who play mostly originals from Tom – including "Terrain", "Kindred Spirit", "Refuge", "Northeast", "Alternate Side", "Oblivion", and "Rust Belt". ~ Dusty Groove

The New York Standards Quartet Celebrates Ten Years of Touring & Recording With New CD - POWER OF 10

Whirlwind Recordings has released The New York Standards Quartet - Power of 10, celebrating ten years of touring/recording together. Power of 10 is the NYSQ's second recording for the label and the much-anticipated follow up to The New Straight Ahead. The New York Standards Quartet is: Tim Armacost (saxophones), David Berkman (piano), Gene Jackson (drums), and Michael Janisch (double bass, and also the owner of Whirlwind Recordings). "We were thrilled to team up with the great Michael Janisch for this project. He was a perfect fit with the group and he brings his unique voice to the music," said the NYSQ.

"Bands are like weeds," New York Standards Quartet pianist David Berkman says, "a lot of the time they come about accidentally, because of luck and circumstances, without much pre-planning." In the case of this band that circumstance was a shared love of, not only jazz, but also Japanese culture. Tim Armacost is a Grammy nominated saxophonist who has performed with Kenny Barron, Bob Hurst and Ray Drummond among many others, and is the NYSQ's founder. He has lived in Tokyo several times and has performed there for years. Gene Jackson, a drumming powerhouse well known from his nine years with the Herbie Hancock trio, as well as his performances/recordings with Dave Holland, the Mingus Band and Wayne Shorter, is married to a Japanese woman and splits his time between New York and Tokyo. David Berkman, a fiery pianist who is both rooted in the jazz tradition and a harmonically adventurous improviser and composer, is a thirty-plus year NYC veteran of many bands including Tom Harrell, The Vanguard Orchestra and countless others. Berkman, also married to a Japanese woman, frequently travels to, and performs in, Japan.

Of course, coming together is one thing, staying together, is another. What began as a happy coincidence of three friends, three master musicians, playing together in a foreign land (documented on Live In Tokyo), has grown into a mature, imposing collective that has become far more than the sum of its impressive parts. Arguably, the most cherished moments in the history of recorded jazz have come from bands, due to the time these groups have had to reach a level of mutual understanding, respect and affection. It is this way with the New York Standards Quartet, as evidenced in their four previous acclaimed recordings, and the impassioned responses from audience across the U.S., U.K., Europe and Japan. "This band was a weed that hung in there through difficult conditions with a lot of perseverance in order to flower into the band it is today. It is a source of great pleasure and pride for all of us that we are still together and going strong, learning and developing and making music," said Berkman. Gene Jackson added that, "one day I was driving my car listening to a special radio show about the Modern Jazz Quartet. It became clear to me that reaching the type of interplay and communication the MJQ had can only be accomplished by developing together as a band for many years. I realized that if we committed to keeping the NYSQ together there could be many benefits, musically and otherwise. Often when things got difficult, when we had reached points where the thought of disbanding seemed plausible or even reasonable, I'd repeat my views to Tim and Dave on staying together, no matter what. I am grateful the NYSQ has chosen the road less travelled. Every time we hit the bandstand together it is obvious we made the right choice. I look forward to the days when, through our commitment to this band, we inspire other bands to stay musically connected, just as the example of the MJQ inspired me."

The mission of the New York Standards Quartet has always been to interpret standards and traditional jazz tunes in a way that would allow audiences to connect and be engaged, while at the same time, playing in the contemporary jazz style the members have developed through their many decades on the New York jazz scene. While Power of 10 celebrates the 10th anniversary of this band, it also shines a spotlight on the group's incredible ability to explore music, together. Tim Armacost explains further, "David was explaining what being a band for 10 years means: that the result of staying together is that we've become totally familiar with each other's playing. When one of us is going for something new, reaching for a different take on a tune, or just pushing the moment forward, everyone hears it immediately. You can feel what the other players are thinking. So when one of us gets inspired and starts a search, or finds a new angle on a tune, everyone jumps in to see where the music will go, or moves over and makes a space for something different to happen. Participating in those moments of discovery is intensely exciting, and that spark is what gives the music its life."

Berkman, who writes much of the band's original repertoire, has a distinctive flair for re-casting well-known jazz standards in new and unexpected settings. On Power of 10, songs like "Deep High Wide Sky" and "Hidden Fondness" are melodies based on the chord progressions of "How Deep is the Ocean" and a reharmonized, "Secret Love". In the hands of the NYSQ, his arrangement of the well worn standard "All of Me" becomes a daring, harmonically tense vehicle for Armacost's mighty soprano playing and Jackson's powerful drumming. Armacost's arrangement of "Lush Life" brings a new perspective to this classic Strayhorn ballad, and his "Green Doll's Phone" is a playful treatment of "On Green Dolphin Street," written to showcase the brilliant technical prowess of bassist Michael Janisch. Gene Jackson, the band's rhythmic center who drives the music forward with fire and infectious good spirits, is in fine form (as always) throughout the session and contributes his brilliant arrangement of Elvin Jones' "Three Card Molly."

April 18-NYC CD Release Celebration - April 28 @ Smalls***
NYSQ Upcoming "Power of 10" Japan Tour:
July 15-Shizuoka-Lifetime
July 16-Osaka-Always
July 17-Himeji-Layla
July 19-Okayama-Cafe Soho
July 20-22-Kita Kyushu-Workshop and Two Concerts
July 24-Kyoto-Live Spot RAG
July 29-Tokyo-Body and Soul


Mentored by piano great Dave McKenna, tutored by the legendary Ann Marie Moss and supported by musical alchemist Allen Toussaint, Marty Elkins is fulfilling dreams - those of her own, and those of the fans who always knew she was a New York talent deserving much wider recognition. Her new record, Walkin' By The River, affirms everyone's belief; it finds Elkins interpreting a host of American Songbook standards. It is her third release on the German Nagel Heyer label. "I wanted to gather the songs that meant the most to me," the vocalist says, "tunes that feel timeless. My aim was to give them a shiny new coat and offer all a new way of hearing them."

On Walkin' By The River Elkins tackles some traditional gems that harken across the decades ("Runnin' Wild," "Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea," "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby,"), as well as less traveled tunes delivered with a twist ("Garbage Can Blues," "Down To Steamboat Tennessee," I'll Wind."). Throughout, she proves herself a songbird with heart, endowing these songs with lessons learned from the greats, from the likes of Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith and Louis Jordan.
"Everything I've ever heard goes into my singing," Elkins continues,"as if the sound of the classic singers AND the sound of their records live inside me. I like to draw on that for inspiration." The evidence can be heard on Walkin' By The River. It is Exhibit A for her case: the artists who deserve wider recognition might just get it.

Musicians: Marty Elkins (Vocals); Jon-Erik Kellso (Trumpet); Howard Alden (Guitar); Joel Diamond (Hammond C3 Organ); Steve Ash (Piano); Lee Hudson (Bass); and Taro Okamoto (Drums)

01 If I Could Be With You (4:51)
02 Runnin' Wild (3:23)
03 Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby (5:24)
04 Garbage Can Blues (3:09)
05 When My Sugar Walks Down the Street (3:31)
06 Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin' (5:20)
07 There'll Be Some Changes Made (3:18)
08 Down To Steamboat Tennessee (5:38)
09 Comes Love   (5:52)
10 Ill Wind   (4:40)
11 I'll Never Be the Same (5:05)
12 Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (4:55)
13 Walkin' By the River (6:00)

Monday, March 28, 2016


At a time of great political and social uncertainty, the dynamic post-cold war partnership of the Russian Federation's Oleg Kireyev (tenor saxophone) and U.S.’s Keith Javors (piano) continues to inspire jazz audiences around the globe. The co-leaders recently welcomed jazz trumpet luminary Tom Harrell, the heralded bassist Ben Williams (Pat Metheny), and the creative drummer E.J. Strickland (Ravi Coltrane) to the studio for their dynamic upcoming release, entitled The Meeting, available on May 31, 2016. (iTunes and Google Play preorder begins May 3.) The new record bridges the influences of two continents, featuring new original compositions by Kireyev and Javors, interspersed with standard material. The deluxe physical-only version of the album includes two additional alternate tracks and liner notes by Howard Mandel.

A chance internet meeting would evolve into something spectacular. Kireyev and Javors' association began in 2007 when Kireyev's manager reached out to Javors through the Internet with the possibility of a gig at the Union of Composers Club in Russia, where Kireyev is Artistic Director. An instant chemistry was noticed and a friendship forged, one that would inevitably result in numerous American and European Tours. In addition to performances at numerous world class clubs such as Smalls, the Iridium, Blues Alley, Chris' Jazz Cafe, and many others, Kireyev and Javors were together featured at the prestigious International House of Music in Moscow, one of the premiere concert venues in Europe.

Their flourishing partnership was first sonically documented on the April 13, 2010 release of Rhyme & Reason, featuring Oleg Kireyev & Keith Javors alongside bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer E.J. Strickland. The record received much critical acclaim from major music writers and charted on the JazzWeek World charts for several consecutive weeks. The tandem’s new effort follows up on its success with a set that is as equally if not more captivating and creative, with model support from Harrell, Williams, and Strickland.

Now on the advent of their this, their sophomore project together, Oleg Kireyev & Keith Javors know, now more than ever, the significance of that chance internet meeting, and it shows in the faces of enthusiastic and involved audience members. While each day performing together is a meeting of sorts, Kireyev and Javors now see it as a blessing. Privileged now to draw from the deep talents of an All-Star NYC rhythm section and a lauded trumpet icon, the tandem continue to push the jazz envelope and promote unity wherever they play.

Oleg Kireyev is an internationally-recognized musician, touring frequently and playing to appreciative audiences in Europe and the U.S. Having undertaken many innovative and provocative international jazz projects in a performing career spanning three decades, The Express and Star says Kireyev is “a Russian sax player with a reputation for hard swing and high excitement”. “Incredibly good”, “Soft and enthusiastic” and “Stylish and top-notch” are all phrases music critics have written about his voice on saxophone. He has performed at the London Jazz Festival, the New York Jazz Improv Festival, and the Montreux Jazz Festival, to name a few. Legendary musician Bud Shank says: "Oleg's playing is a marvelous combination of styles, incorporating a whole lot of players. I hear echoes of the 1920’s and John Coltrane combined with unstructured jazz."

Keith Javors is an iconoclastic figure on today’s international music scene, rare in his accomplishments as dually a producer and artist as well as an award-winning educator. Known for his “technical virtuosity, a riveting compositional style, and constant creativity” (AllAboutJazz), Javors is a true musicians’ musician, possessive of extraordinary versatility and a riveting ballad style. His performance credits include eight albums as a leader and appearances at venues such as the Montreux Jazz Festival, Chicago Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, and numerous others. As Bill Milkowski writes in Jazz Times, “Javors distinguishes himself as a bandleader intent on collective envelope-pushing.”

Sarah Vaughan - Live At Rosy's -- Recorded Live at New Orleans's Iconic '70s Music Venue Rosy's Jazz Club on May 31, 1978

Resonance Records with the cooperation of National Public Radio (NPR) has announced the release of Sarah Vaughan - Live At Rosy's, New Orleans on March 25th, 2016. The deluxe 2-CD set is comprised exclusively of newly discovered recordings by "Sassy" capturing the legendary jazz singer's live performance at Rosy's Jazz Club on May 31, 1978.

Just after the release of the album, The U.S. Postal Service will honor Sarah Vaughan's legacy, by issuing a "Commemorative Forever Stamp". The ceremony will take place at the Sarah Vaughan Concert Hall at Newark Symphony Hall, 1020 Broad Street, Newark, N.J., @ 11:00am, March 29th, 2016.

Confirmed participants include: Tony Bennett, Rhonda Hamilton, Host of WBGO Radio's Midday Jazz, Mayor Ras Baraka, Mayor of Newark, Dr. Gloria White, Pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church, Ronald Stroman, Deputy Postmaster General and Melba Moore, Grammy Award winning Jazz Vocalist and Tony Award Winning Actress & Singer.

Confirmed Performances to include: Mount Zion Baptist Church Choir, Carrie Jackson (A Tribute to Sarah Vaughan, Newark's Own), NJPAC Jazz for Teen Ensemble (educational program), Jazzmeia Horn, Winner 2013 Sarah Vaughan Jazz Vocalist Competition and Melba Moore.

In February 2011, Resonance producer Zev Feldman connected with Tim Owens, the former producer of NPR's weekly syndicated radio program, Jazz Alive! Owens mentioned to Feldman that he had Sarah Vaughan tapes of her stellar live 1978 concert performances at Rosy's. Having performed together hundreds of times with Sassy around the world, her rhythm section -- or as she referred to them, "my trio" -- of pianist Carl Schroeder, bassist Walter Booker and legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb was an extremely cohesive unit by the time they got to Rosy's in May of 1978. As the recordings in this set demonstrate, they were hand-in-glove with each other and with the great Sarah Vaughan.

Over the course of nearly four years, Feldman took on the role of Indiana Jones in tracking down all of the appropriate parties to ensure that this release would be fully endorsed and cleared by the Sarah Vaughan estate, plus by Walter Booker's widow Bertha Hope, as well as the living band members Carl Schroeder and Jimmy Cobb and NPR Music in Washington, D.C. Reflecting on the importance of this release in his introductory essay from the liner notes, Feldman notes: "My goal was to tell the whole story of this magical engagement that fortunately has been preserved for future generations to enjoy. These recordings celebrate the genius that was Sarah Vaughan. I hope we'll all take the time to revisit the legacy of this historic and pivotal figure in the history of jazz. These recordings demonstrate for us why she was much more than just a singer; she was a true artist."

Sarah Vaughan, along with Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, was a member of a triumvirate -- one of the three greatest female jazz singers in jazz history. She first attracted attention at 18 years of age in 1942, when she appeared at the Apollo Theater's amateur night, first as a pianist accompanying another singer and then a few weeks later in her own right as a singer, when she won the contest. During her weeklong Apollo engagement, which was one of the prizes she earned for her victory, Billy Eckstine, who was then the featured singer with the Earl Hines big band, spotted her. Eckstine recommended her to Hines, who asked her to join his band. Other members of the Hines band were Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker; it was widely regarded as one of the early breeding grounds for bebop. The musical ferment of that grouping of musical geniuses had an enormous influence on Vaughan.

Vaughan had an exceptionally broad vocal range; it extended from a coloratura soprano down to a low alto -- some might even say she sometimes made her way into the baritone range. Her tone was rich and lush. Vocalist Helen Merrill told Zev Feldman in his interview with her conducted for this release: "When Sarah sang, she might just as well have been a trumpet player playing. Her musical ability, her jazz phrasing ... it was perfect." She was a musicians' singer, yet despite her extraordinary gifts, she was down to earth; she was always accepted by the musicians whom she worked with as one of them -- "she was like one of the fellas," says Jimmy Cobb.

When these live recordings at Rosy's Jazz Club were made in May of 1978, Sarah Vaughan was at her artistic peak (at age 54). That year, a kind of renaissance year for her, set her on a meteoric course during which she would win an Emmy and a Grammy and tour the world several times. Each time she released an album, Johnny Carson and Merv Griffin showcased her proudly on TV. For all the grand orchestras that backed her, Sarah Vaughan seemed happiest with her trio; they gave her the space to spread her wings and explore. I get ideas from all three of them while I'm singing," she said. "We have a ball together, all of us, and wherever I go to work, they're going with me." In 1978, Vaughan and her band -- pianist Carl Schroeder, bassist Walter Booker, and drummer Jimmy Cobb -- performed at Rosy's Jazz Club in New Orleans.

The founder/owner of Rosy's, Rosalie Wilson, describes her impetus for opening a jazz club in New Orleans in the 1970s: "I was puzzled as to why one seldom experienced these musicians in club settings. Roland Kirk explained this phenomenon during an interview...citing the continued reticence of many black artists to play clubs or smaller venues in the South for reasons of safety, treatment by club owners and the general negative conditions. I knew he was being truthful and I found this to be perverse, given the fact that New Orleans had long been anointed the birthplace of jazz. This angered me and provided the cause this rebel had long been seeking: to create a music club or venue in which the safety, respect and needs of the musicians were the first priority. One in which a "zero tolerance" policy would exist regarding any form of prejudice."

James Gavin writes in his essay "Romance, Family & Heartbreak: The Divine One" within the liner notes of the package: "By the time of Vaughan's performances at Rosy's captured in this set, her dark-chocolate voice had more than survived 36 years of professional singing; her art had only grown in splendor. She took dusky plunges and glided up to fluty soprano highs; she colored the three octaves in between with a wealth of textures, from gravel to velvet. Vaughan controlled her famous vibrato like a concert violinist; she could make it swagger, pulse, or vanish entirely."

Behind the vocal riches was a boundless musical mind. "As soon as I hear an arrangement I get ideas," she said, "kind of like blowing a horn." So many came to her that Vaughan was like a child let loose in a candy store. "She had tremendous harmonic conception," says Carl Schroeder. "Most singers have none." Her breath control enabled her to skitter tirelessly over daredevil bebop changes and to sing ballads at a luxurious crawl. All this came naturally to her. "I don't know what I'm doin'!" she said. "I just get onstage and sing. I don't think about how I'm going to do it--it's too complicated."

Journalist and critic Will Friedwald takes us through Live at Rosy's track-by-track: Gershwin, as always, is a major staple of Vaughan's repertoire, from her classic Gershwin double songbook in 1957 to her epic symphonic jazz concerts (and album) of 25 years later. "The Man I Love" was the Divine One's signature ballad. As with Fitzgerald, there were some songs and some lyrics that meant to more to her than others, and this song always occupied an extra special place in her heart. You'll often hear Vaughan take a serious ballad and completely jazz it up (as she does with "April" here), but when she does this particular song, you can tell she's only thinking about the man she loves.

In 1978, "Send in the Clowns" was gradually evolving into her climactic, show-stopping number. The Sondheim song kept getting longer and longer, growing bigger and bigger as well as slower and slower, and being pushed farther and farther back in the program. Still, it would be hard to say that Vaughan ever sang it better than she did in New Orleans: She absolutely nails it, and makes it clear why, of all the songs and shows that Sondheim has written over almost 60 years, this is easily his most beloved piece of music.

When the request comes through for "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" which was, famously, her colleague Ella Fitzgerald's first and biggest hit, Vaughan says, with mock exasperation, "Well, I'll be damned!" Clearly, it was one thing for Vaughan to make a joke about being mistaken for another singer (earlier she had joked that she was Carmen McRae), and quite another for someone in the crowd to confuse her with Ella Fitzgerald. Yet not to be outdone, she takes it a step further, "[he] thinks I'm Lena Horne, huh?" -- thereby compounding the joke by dropping the name of yet a third iconic African-American vocal headliner. "Then I'll tell you who I am when I finish," she declares, "We got to do this," and then flies into a whole chorus of the 1938 song.

Resonance Records -- a multi-GRAMMY® Award winning label (most recently for John Coltrane's Offering: Live at Temple University for "Best Album Notes") -- prides itself in creating beautifully designed, informative packaging to accompany previously unreleased recordings by the jazz icons who grace Resonance's catalog. Such is the case with Sarah Vaughan - Live At Rosy's. Released as a deluxe 2-CD set on March 25, 2016, this release includes nearly 90 minutes of music from National Public Radio's series then dedicated to showcasing live jazz performances by elite jazz stars, Jazz Alive!, some of which has never been previously broadcast, along with a 36-page book, and is presented in a 6-panel digi-pak beautifully designed by Burton Yount.

Elaborate album books replete with rare photos, and newly commissioned essays and interviews have become a trademark of Resonance Records' historic releases. 2015's Wes Montgomery - In the Beginning included a 56-page book, and 2016's Larry Young - In Paris: The ORTF Recordings and Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra - All My Yesterdays: The Debut 1966 Recordings at The Village Vanguard come in at 68 and 92 pages respectively.

The Live at Rosy's book will also serve as new reference material for Sarah Vaughan fans providing historic essays, interviews and memoirs by producer Zev Feldman, author and journalist James Gavin (author of iconic biographies of Peggy Lee, Chet Baker and Lena Horne, among others), journalist, author, critic and expert on jazz and popular singers Will Friedwald (Jazz Singing: America's Great Voices from Bessie Smith to Bebop and Beyond; Sinatra! and many others; jazz critic regularly featured in The Wall Street Journal), Sarah Vaughan's music director and pianist, Carl Schroeder, Rosy's Jazz Club impresario, Rosalie Wilson and interviewees, the legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb (Miles Davis Kind of Blue) and Sarah Vaughan's esteemed colleague and early Emarcy Records stablemate, Helen Merrill. The album book also features a collection of rare photos by Herman Leonard, Ray Avery, Chuck Stewart, Riccardo Schwamenthal and Tom Copi, as well as ephemera from Rosy's Jazz Club at the time these recordings were made.

Norman Brown, Kirk Whalum and Rick Braun rejoin forces once again as BWB for new Memphis soul album

You can almost smell the tangy barbecue sauce dripping from the forthcoming third album “BWB” by chart-topping trio BWB, who throw down like a sweaty garage band at a Memphis backyard house party on their debut for the Artistry Music label arriving April 22. It’s the first time the band made up of GRAMMY® winners Norman Brown (guitar, vocals) and Kirk Whalum (saxophone, flute, vocals) and Rick Braun (trumpet, flugelhorn, valve trombone, vocals) cooked up a festive, sticky-fingered feast of ten new contemporary jazz, R&B, soul and funk joints. 

Braun produced the session in his suburban Los Angeles-area home studio where the band moved in with their families and lived together for an entire week. The result is a collaborative disc celebrating brotherhood and live music. The tantalizing title track is the first radio cut, which enters Billboard’s Top 10 on next week’s singles chart and appears to be ticketed for the top spot.  

Anytime the three solo stars get together to record, it’s an instant candidate for event album of the year in the contemporary jazz world. BWB has been itching to record original material ever since they first recorded as a high-wattage trio in 2002 when they released a collection of covers entitled “Groovin’.” Over a decade later, they reunited as a combo in 2013 with “Human Nature,” paying tribute to Michael Jackson’s songbook and scoring their first No 1 hit with “Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground).” This time around, they decided to compose the material entirely on their own, creating party jams specifically with their spirited live shows in mind.

As Braun tells it, “A long time ago in a faraway galaxy, three brothers dreamed of recording a CD of all original material as a band. Although the evil forces of time and geography stood in their way for many years, a dream is a powerful idea and ultimately the collective, creative force will prevail. And in that spirit, Norman and Kirk moved into my house for a short week with their loved ones. We played our horns, sang, drank wine, wrote, laughed and lived together. Thus it began!” 

Primarily instrumental with a batch of tunes amped up by fun-filled vocal refrains and catchy, sing-a-long choruses, BWB’s members wove DNA from their hometowns into the music mix. With Whalum’s Memphis soul serving as the nucleus, Braun’s Philly funk atoms and Brown’s Kansas City jazz genes add flavor, flair and some old-school stank to the homegrown offering that struts and seduces with swagger and sophistication along with a devilish dash of mischief. An equally important nonmusical component is incorporating the enduring love and joy of treasured friendships that exists between the musicians.     

“As I grow wiser, grayer and more awesomer (!), I realize just how important relationships are to me –– much more important even than music. But how awesome it is to make great music with great friends! This is a glorious bonus and a wonderful journey. I am grateful for “the Chord of three strands” that is BWB,” Whalum testified.

Brown concurred enthusiastically. “I believe in the Master Mind! Two or more minds joined in harmony with a common goal will surely connect to higher source energy. BWB is a brilliant vibration channeling a spirit of joyful elevation. I love my brothers!”

BWB are touring throughout the year in support of the new album playing festival dates including Boscov’s Berks Jazz Festival (April 8), Las Vegas City of Lights Jazz and R&B Festival (April 16), St. Lucia Jazz Festival (May 7), Steel City Jazz Festival (June 4), Tri-C Jazz Festival (June 25), QC Summerfest (July 31), Wolf Creek Jazz Festival (September 4) and the Capital Jazz SuperCruise (October 23) as well as a pair of Texas dates in Austin at the One World Theatre (May 27) and Houston at Dosey Doe (May 28). 

The songs contained on “BWB” are:
“Triple Dare”
“Bust A Move”
“Bolly Bop”
“I Want You Girl”
“Memphis Steppin’”
“Hey Baby”
“North Star”
“Turn Up”

The Life of Legendary Saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk Topic of New Documentary, The Case of the Three Sided Dream

Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1935-1977) was a one of a kind musician, personality and satirist who despite being blind and becoming paralyzed - did not relent. He was more than a blind musician who could play three horns at once. Beyond the ability to play multiple melodies at the same time, he was a warrior against racial injustice, fought for people with disabilities and was a tireless campaigner for a wider appreciation of jazz in America (what he termed Black Classical Music). Packed with electrifying archival footage of Kirk and his music, intimate interviews, and inspired animated sequences; Adam Kahan's The Case of the Three Sided Dream, is an absorbing look at the man who wouldn't even let partial paralysis keep him from pursuing what he called "The Religion of Dreams."

 The Case of the Three Sided Dream premiered at the 2014 South by Southwest film festival and also was screened at Full Frame, Blue Note Jazz Festival, IFC Center, IDFA, Sound Unseen, Big Sky, Noise Pop, PAFF LA and Atlanta, MIFF, Raindance and many other festivals, towns, countries and venues over the past year.

The film was awarded Best Documentary at the 2015 Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, as well as Best Documentary at the 2015 Soundtrack Cologne festival in Cologne, Germany. It was also named one of the top ten music documentaries of 2014 by Nonfics.com.

The film will be released world wide and will be a joint release by Monoduo Films, Vimeo on Demand, Syndicado and Arthaus. It will be available to stream and download on Vimeo On Demand May 1, available on iTunes May 31 and on DVD this Fall. Further screenings are also planned for later this year in New York, LA, Toronto and Europe.

Additionally Adam Kahan and the estate of Rahsaan Roland Kirk are laying the groundwork for a biopic on Kirk and seeking an executive producer.

Adam Kahan is a filmmaker living in Brooklyn, New York. He started making films in 1989 in San Francisco, when he bought his first Super 8 camera. His first short film "Eyeball" played the San Francisco Film Arts Foundation festival in 1992, and multiple other festivals in the states and abroad. Adam works across multiple genres from documentary to narrative to experimental, and has worn multiple hats including Director, Producer, Writer and Editor. He has also made several short documentaries on contemporary artists (such as Andres Serrano, Fred Tomaselli and Urs Fischer) that have played on national television and in festivals internationally. The Case of the Three Sided Dream is his first feature.


Verve to Release Jazz at the Philharmonic: The Ella Fitzgerald Set Showcasing Classic Songs Recorded From 1949 - 1954

As part of Verve's 60th Anniversary, the storied imprint is set to release the complete U.S. Jazz at the Philharmonic performances of celebrated vocalist Ella Fitzgerald. This classic material, which has previously been released on various albums, will be released for the first time in one dynamic live set featuring the original 12-track vinyl LP album cover from 1983. The re-mastered 22-track CD and digital audio collection, with an essay by author Will Friedwald, features a wide spectrum of A-list musicians including Hank Jones, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, and more.

Jazz at the Philharmonic: The Ella Fitzgerald Set was recorded through various performances between 1949 and 1954, with all original recordings being supervised by the historic label's founder and Fitzgerald's longtime manager, Norman Granz. Highlights include jaw-dropping interpretations of "Old Mother Hubbard," "Oh, Lady Be Good!," "Lullaby of Birdland," and the all-star jam session, "Flying Home."

In 1944, Granz launched the historic Jazz at the Philharmonic series in Los Angeles, which would last 40 years. In the formative years of JATP, Granz invited the vocal icon to join some of the greatest musicians in the world, following in the JATP tradition of Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, and Helen Humes. It wasn't until 1953, when JATP was on tour in Japan that Granz talked to Fitzgerald about managing her career when the singer's contract with Moe Gale at Associated Booking Corporation ran up at the end of the year. She was hesitant at first, but after telling her that it was a matter of pride, the two joined for a historic partnership that lasted more than four decades. With a soon-to-be-ending contract with Decca, Granz launched Verve and announced Fitzgerald as their inaugural signing while they continued work on the JATP series.

The crown jewel of Jazz at the Philharmonic: The Ella Fitzgerald Set was the September 1949 performance at the famed Carnegie Hall-the engagement provides more than 45-minutes of music for this historic release. Granz opens that performance and this release with a special introduction of "the greatest thing in jazz today," Ella Fitzgerald. Two other introductions of the illustrious vocalist appear on the box as well-another from Granz, and one from Dizzy Gillespie.

Throughout three heavy-hitting tracks, Fitzgerald receives support from an all-star JATP horn section featuring trumpeter Roy Eldridge, trombonist Tommy Turk, and saxophonists Charlie Parker, Flip Phillips, and Lester Young. "Flying Home" showcases remarkable scatting from Fitzgerald and features a Phillips solo. "How High the Moon" shows a new take on the classic chorus while switching back and forth between horn players, and "Perdido" hands the reins to the brass players for the melody, with each player taking a solo while Fitzgerald replaces the published lyrics with fervent scatting.

Some of the vocalist's classic tunes appear in this performance as well. She infuses the 1800's nursery rhyme "Old Mother Hubbard" with modern jazz chord progressions and a number of outside melodies, and also performs her trademark tune, "A-Tisket, A-Tasket." Fitzgerald visits two soulful ballads as well, including "A New Shade of Blues" and "Black Coffee," a signature tune for Peggy Lee later on.

Having produced an entire album in homage to Gershwin, it's fitting that the singer includes two of the venerable pianist's tunes. "Oh, Lady Be Good!" has a breakneck tempo that also appears on Ella Sings Gershwin, while "Somebody Loves Me" has a snappy up-tempo that did not appear on her previous Gershwin record. Fitzgerald also explores recordings from Sir Charles Thompson ("Robbins Nest"), Duke Ellington ("I'm Just a Lucky So-And-So"), and Spencer Williams ("Basin Street Blues").

The rest of the release comes from two performances, a year apart, at Bushnell Memorial Hall in Hartford, Connecticut with support from pianist Raymond Tunia, guitarist Herb Ellis, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer J.C. Heard. In 1953, Granz captures two rare songs from Fitzgerald: a moving performance of Jerome Kern's "Bill," and a blues-heavy version of Peggy Lee's tour-de-force "Why Don't You Do Right."

The final five tracks were recorded just a year later. The 1954 performances start off with Gershwin's songbook-standard "A Foggy Day," and move on to showcase compelling contemporary hits. By the time she performed "Lullaby of Birdland" in Hartford, it had already become a success from a recording made just a few months earlier. A beautiful rendition of "The Man That Got Away" is a calm and deliberate recording, while "Hernando's Hideaway" contrasts as a comedy and dance number from The Pajama Game with lyrics exclusive to performance (a 1962 recording of this track did not include this one-time chorus). The set closes with "Later," which elegantly displays Fitzgerald's seamless blend of R&B, pop, bebop, and swing.

The remarkable relationship between an American jazz impresario and the First Lady of Song stands alone as a historically important release and is equally as crucial to celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Verve. Granz produced many consequential performances, however the dynamic live recordings heard on Jazz at the Philharmonic: The Ella Fitzgerald Set are in a league of their own.

Trumpet Player Theo Croker Set to Release Genre-Bending Sophomore Album Escape Velocity

Trumpet player Theo Croker's new album, Escape Velocity, arrives unchecked and un-filtered. It doesn't attempt to fit a single specific musical category, but draws upon the first principle of jazz: to merge and interpret history, styles and ideas and create a unique sound. Escape Velocity (DDB Records/OKeh), due May 6th, and featuring his band DVRK FUNK, is Croker's second album since returning from China where he lived and worked for nearly a decade.

DVRK FUNK includes Anthony Ware on tenor saxophone and flute, pianist Michael King, guitarist Ben Eunson, bassist Eric Wheeler and drummer Kassa Overall. Of the group's name Croker explains: "Darkness has been labeled as a negative thing but the outer reaches of space are dark. Where life starts is dark. Dark is an endless possibility, infinite and unknown. That's what we're about."

It is clear from the opening notes of songs like "Raise Your Vibrations" that this is Croker's world. The glistening glow of keyboards and cymbals float around him as he establishes the band's intentions from mission control. "It's a summons for the listeners to open up their minds and to let them vibrate for the rest of the album."

Songs on the album range from spiritual to upbeat, and are sometimes invested with a commitment to with current events. For example: "We Can't Breathe," Croker observes, "That's about Eric Garner. That's about Trayvon. That's about reflecting everything that is going on in the world, but 'It's Gonna Be Alright' is the response to that. No matter what we deal with, remember it's going to be alright." An anthem of succinct horn lines and joyous vocals, Croker's message carries notes of both optimism and melancholy.

"A Call to the Ancestors" and "Meditations" are the results of communing with the spirits. "A lot of people assume that meditation is very calm, a quiet very clear thing," says Croker. "But it can also have a lot of turbulence. When I get to a good point in meditation, I feel like I am traversing through dimensions." Michael King takes advantage of his opportunity to stride across the piano, digging up a rapid sprint over the pounding percussion.

"Love From The Sun" is an homage to and a collaboration with Dee Dee Bridgewater. The renowned jazz diva, who has served as a mentor to Croker for nearly a decade, revisits a song which she first recorded in 1974. Here Croker overlays a live recording he performed with Bridgewater with a new studio performance from the inimitable vocalist.

The organ-driven pop of "Changes" is loaded with rhythmic energy and cosmic textures, a swelling culmination for a telekinetic band. Marching off in style, DVRK FUNK settles down with "RaHspect (Amen)," a tempered farewell that pairs Croker with King's responsive piano.

"We're always pushing our music as far as we can push it," Croker says of the album. "We're not changing the game, we are creating a new version of the game that hopefully is all our own."

For anyone looking to learn the rules, put your headphones on.

Theo Croker is a trumpeter, vocalist, composer, and bandleader whose powerful and eclectic take on modern jazz pays respect to the tradition of the music while moving the genre forward.

A native of Leesburg, Florida, Croker is the grandson of the late great jazz trumpeter Doc Cheatham. Croker began playing trumpet at age 11 after hearing Cheatham play in New York City, and by his teens was studying music formally at the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville followed by the Music Conservatory at Oberlin College.

Croker's musical training has taken him all over the world including Shanghai, China where he took up residency at the House of Blues and refined his style. Shanghai is also where Croker met his mentor, Dee Dee Bridgewater, whom he performs with often.

Escape Velocity is Croker's second album with OKeh Records. His debut, AfroPhysicist, was released in 2014.

Bay Area Trumpeter Ian Carey's 5th CD, "Interview Music: A Suite for Quintet+1"

Bay Area trumpeter and composer Ian Carey's big, bold new jazz suite, Interview Music, is the centerpiece of his like-titled new album, due for release by his Kabocha Records on April 8.

The piece, which was premiered in 2013 at the California Jazz Conservatory (formerly the Jazzschool) in Berkeley, is a 45-minute, four-movement adventure and Carey's longest composition to date. It is a vehicle for both his intricate writing and the improvisational chops of his group, the Ian Carey Quintet+1, last heard on 2013's acclaimed album Roads & Codes (Kabocha Records), which received praise from DownBeat and NPR, and appeared on many critics' best of 2013 lists.

Carey's rhythm section -- pianist Adam Shulman, bassist Fred Randolph, and drummer Jon Arkin -- goes back more than a decade with him. They are joined by alto saxophonist Kasey Knudsen, whose woody, clarinet-like sound makes for fascinating interplay with the band's extraordinary recent addition, the expansive bass clarinetist Sheldon Brown.

The title of Interview Music is "not about trying to get more interviews," quips Carey, though he's not averse to the idea. It refers to a recent discussion in the jazz world over the increasing percentage of new music being funded through nonprofit commissions and grants, and whether that system favors what the late pianist Mulgrew Miller called "interview music" -- high-concept, programmatic works, often with subject matter like visual artists, literary figures, or social movements.

Carey turned the tables on the argument by writing a new extended piece for his ensemble which specifically rejects that approach. Somewhat ironically, Interview Music was funded by just such a grant (from the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music's Musical Grant Program), but Carey noted when applying that he specifically did not want to go into the project with a pre-existing concept. "I write first and figure out what it's about after I hear it," he says. "If it's about anything!" Happily, the grant committee agreed, and funded the piece's composition and premiere performance.

The result is a challenging work which runs the gamut from intricate through-composed sections to raucous group improvisation. His goals as a composer -- providing individually tailored solo contexts for each improviser, utilizing the dense counterpoint favored by his favorite composers, and moving beyond the melody-solos-melody roadmap of more traditional jazz writing -- show up in surprising ways, including a passacaglia (a classical form built around a cycling melodic figure) and a movement in which the horns and rhythm section each spend most of the time in completely separate tempos (borrowing a trick from Carey's idol Charles Ives), but the improvisational talents of the ensemble are never far from the forefront. "As complicated as the writing got, I never wanted to lose sight of the fact that it's a jazz piece," Carey said. "Improvisation and swing should still be the stars of the show."

The new CD closes with Carey's "Big Friday," which the composer calls "a suite in miniature." It was recorded at the end of the Interview Music session and "felt appropriately like a 'victory lap.'"

Originally from upstate New York, Ian Carey, 41, lived in Folsom, California and Reno before moving to New York City in 1994, where he attended the New School (studying composition with Bill Kirchner, Henry Martin, and Maria Schneider, and improvisation with Reggie Workman, Billy Harper, and Andrew Cyrille). During a productive seven years in New York, he was able to perform with musicians as varied as Ravi Coltrane, Ted Curson, Ali Jackson, Marion Brown, and Eddie Bert, but when an opportunity arose to spend a summer in San Francisco, he realized he was ready for a break from the Gotham grind.

He soon met the musicians who would become the core of his quintet, which transformed over the following twelve years and three albums (2005's Sink/Swim, 2010's Contextualizin', and Roads & Codes) into a tightly-knit unit dedicated to tackling Carey's original compositions. In 2012, looking to augment the group's sonic palette, he expanded the group to the current six members. (He also recorded a well-received duo date, 2014's Duocracy, with pianist Ben Stolorow.)

"For me, there is something for everyone in the music," says Carey of Interview Music. "It works as jazz, with enough red meat for the straight-ahead crowd. And it's heavily influenced by chamber music, so it can appeal to people who are into that. Still, I didn't know how it would go over. When we performed it as part of a chamber series and people responded positively to it -- regular jazz music fans and chamber music listeners, but also people who just decided to give it a listen -- I was so gratified."

The Ian Carey Quintet+1 will be performing Interview Music and more at the Sound Room, 2147 Broadway, Oakland, on Saturday 4/9, 8:00pm.

Vocalist Jane Monheit Releases "The Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald"

Vocalist Jane Monheit had long thought about recording an Ella tribute. Fitzgerald's beloved songbook albums held "Biblical" importance for her when she was growing up and have never lost their hold on her.

Those dreams have come to fruition with Monheit's new album, The Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald. It was the perfect maiden project for her new label, Emerald City Records, which will release the disc April 8, on the cusp of the Ella Fitzgerald centennial. On this new offering, Monheit pays joyous tribute to her idol while sharing a definitive portrait of herself, guided by her producer, arranger, and trumpet great, Nicholas Payton.

"This record is really different," Monheit says. "It's the first time I've made a recording without a label and so I was able to make all the decisions myself. Honestly, when I listened back to the takes, I heard a different singer than I've heard before -- a more mature one. It was a little scary because there's a certain raw quality to some of the vocals but we gave no thought to fixing them. These were the vocals of a 38-year-old woman with a lot of life experience. These tracks really express who I am."

"My first priority was to make Jane comfortable, so all she had to worry about was showing up and singing," says Payton, who first met her in Brazil about five years ago and stayed in touch casually. "But on the other hand, I wanted to make her a little uncomfortable by pushing her into places she might not push herself. She is so multifaceted. I wanted to showcase a lot of different things she loves to do on any given night with her band that haven't necessarily been brought forth on her recordings."

 Jane Monheit From the first song, "All Too Soon," a highlight of Fitzgerald's Duke Ellington Songbook, it's evident that this album is not going to be your usual Ella salute -- the kind that plays up the incomparable singer's swinging, scatting, girlish side. Monheit is all woman here, pouring herself into the lyric with sultry savoir faire.

"It is a salute in name only," writes Christopher Loudon in his JazzTimes review. "Fitzgerald and Monheit are very different singers, their approaches to the material similarly valid but utterly distinct. Monheit's style is plusher and denser -- crushed velvet to Fitzgerald's silk. . . . "

As the arranger of eight of the songs, Payton updated the harmonies and overall feel of several of the tunes. "I wanted to make them romantic and sexy," he says. "We look at love and sex a lot differently today than we did 60 years ago." Longtime band mates, pianist Michael Kanan and bassist Neal Miner, who each arranged two songs, also made contributions to the fresh arrangements on the album.

Kanan, Miner, and drummer Rick Montalbano -- Jane's working trio -- appear on the new CD, along with percussionist Daniel Sadownick; harpist Brandee Younger (on two tracks); and Payton, on trumpet, piano, and organ. "Nick wasn't planning on playing on the album," says Monheit, "but after we discovered what strong chemistry we had, it was inevitable that we had to play together. It was a real honor and a thrill for me."

Jane Monheit has been on the world stage for nearly half her life, since placing as first runner-up (behind Teri Thornton) at the 1998 Thelonious Monk Institute's vocal competition. The Long Island native studied voice at the Manhattan School of Music, where she met her husband, Rick Montalbano, and graduated with honors in 1999. Her debut album Never Never Land -- featuring Kenny Barron, Ron Carter, and Lewis Nash -- was released the following year.

Monheit recorded prolifically for a number of different labels before realizing in the last couple of years that she needed to take more control of her artistic and career decisions; hence, the birth of Emerald City Records. "You have no idea how exhausting it was, bouncing from label to label," she says. "Everyone wanted to mold me into something else. It became harder and harder to put trust in people and to be myself."

In Payton, the vocalist has found a true creative partner. "I felt an instant trust in him that I had never felt before with any other producer," she says. The two envision The Songbook Sessions as the first in an ongoing series of collaborations.

Monheit and her trio will be featuring the music of The Songbook Sessions at the following dates: 3/22-26 The Royal Room at the Colony Hotel, West Palm Beach, FL; 3/30 Weill Concert Hall, NYC (w/ Michael Kanan); 4/7 Pines Theatre, Lufkin, TX; 4/9 Lancaster Middle School, Kilmarnock, VA; 4/10 Capitol Ale House, Richmond, VA; 4/14-17 Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, Seattle (JM Quintet); 4/18 Kuumbwa, Santa Cruz, CA (JM Quintet); 4/21-22 Yoshi's, Oakland (JM Quintet); 6/2-5 Blues Alley, Washington, DC; 6/25 Disney Hall, Los Angeles; 6/26 Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, Half Moon Bay, CA; 8/6 Infinity Hall, Norfolk, CT; 8/13 Louis Armstrong Home & Museum, Corona, Queens, NY; 9/3 Grand Hotel, Mackinaw Island, MI (JM Duo).

Monheit will appear as a special guest with the Nicholas Payton Trio at the following: 7/5-10 Bird's Basement, Melbourne, Australia (to be confirmed); 7/13 Istanbul Jazz Festival (Turkey); 7/16 The Old Tobacco Factory, Rovinjin, Croatia; 7/21 Jazz à Grans (France); and additional European dates to be confirmed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Jazz in the Gardens Has Its Biggest Year Ever

More than 73,000 attended the recent Jazz in the Gardens (JITG) music festival as the City of Miami Gardens celebrated the festival's 11th anniversary on Saturday, March 19 and Sunday, March 20, at Sun Life Stadium (347 Don Shula Dr, Miami Gardens, FL 33056). Once a festival of roughly 1,800 patrons in a corner of Sun Life Stadium's parking lot, JITG is now the fastest growing jazz and R&B music festival in the nation. 

Saturday's lineup showcased locals CriStyle Renae, Ronnie Vop, and April Raquel Kouture Funk, as well as the Jazz in the Gardens All Stars featuring Najee, Alex Bugnon, and Regina Belle; Average White Band; Michael McDonald; Kool & the Gang; and Charlie Wilson.  On Sunday, Fred Hammond,  Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, Janelle Monae, Brian Culbertson, and Usher took to the stage. The host for the festival was comedian and nationally-syndicated radio personality Rickey Smiley.  

Charlie Wilson
I'm a stickler for sound, and I can honestly say that JITG boasts some of the best outdoor sound systems I have ever heard. Just like Michael McDonald said, "It's the first time I ever had a mayor ask me to crank up the bass," and that they did for sure.  The music was superb throughout and all of the performers performed solid sets, from locals CriStyle Renae, Ronnie Vop, and April Raquel, who each had the stage to themselves to shine.  

They each showed that they have what it takes to take their careers to the next level. The Jazz in the Gardens All Stars featuring Najee, Alex Bugnon, and Regina Belle performed both as a group and individually, and all of the other headliners had the audience up on their feet dancing and singing along to countless hits. This audience knows the music and they definitely show their love for the artists.

Kool & The Gang
The 11th-annual Jazz in the Gardens was two days of delicious food, fun for all, and incredible live music. More the half of the audience in attendance at the Saturday show were from out of state, which pretty much says that JITG has gone national.  Who knows, maybe next year it will be a three-day event.

The City of Miami Gardens was born in 2003 and the then City Council sought to create a signature event for the largest predominantly African-American municipality in Florida, which is also the third largest in the United States. In 2006, the City of Miami Gardens presented the inaugural Jazz in the Gardens, an intimate jazz-only festival featuring food and music, setting the foundation for the decade-long, signature experience that followed, adding R&B to the lineup.

Average White Band
"This year's attendance was unprecedented, and our lineup of musical talent was second to none, a fitting tribute to our 10th year of producing an incredible festival experience," said City of Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert. "This is our signature event and we are so proud that people from all over the world look forward to attending every year. "This is my fourth Jazz in the Gardens as mayor, but I’ve been to every Jazz in the Gardens," Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver G. Gilbert III tells us. "So many people put so much effort into this event... It started in a small parking lot in Sun Life Stadium for a few hundred local residents, and now people come from around the world."


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