Friday, September 30, 2011


Sting is about to embark on his Back to Bass Tour throughout North America as he celebrates the 25th anniversary of his solo career by taking it back to bass... all of the hits, stripped down, as they haven't been played in years.   In support of his forthcoming box set collection Sting: 25 Years, slated for release on September 27, the tour features Sting backed by a 5-piece band in an intimate theatre setting.Beginning in Boston on October 21 at The Wang Theatre at the Citi Performing Arts Center, the tour will extend across the U.S. and Canada.  Cities announced today include Philadelphia, Washington DC, Toronto, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Dallas, Houston, Denver, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver. Additional dates will be announced in the coming weeks.

Back to Bass finds Sting performing songs spanning his dynamic and enduring solo career, from his 1985 debut The Dream Of The Blue Turtles to his latest release, Live in Berlin, plus a selection of The Police's greatest hits. Highlights include the Grammy® winners "Brand New Day" and "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You" plus fan-favorites "Englishman In New York," "Desert Rose" and "Roxanne." Sting will be joined by a band including his longtime guitarist Dominic Miller, Rufus Miller (guitarist), Vinnie Colaiuta (drummer), Peter Tickell (electric fiddle), and Jo Lawry(vocalist).

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Sting's solo career, the definitive box set Sting: 25 Years,was released on September 27, 2011.  This collection captures for the first time both the highlights and rarities of Sting's enduring solo career and contains three CDs, all re-mastered exclusively for this set and personally curated by Sting, as well as a previously unreleased live DVD, Rough, Raw & Unreleased, filmed at New York City's Irving Plaza. The discs are housed in a hardcover book featuring rare photos, complete lyrics, and newly written commentary by Sting. In addition, Sting: The Best of 25 Years (single disc) will be released on October 18, 2011.

Sting: Back To Bass Tour 2011 - North America
October 21 Boston, MA The Wang Theatre at the Citi Performing Arts Center
October 26 Philadelphia, PA Tower Theater
October 29 Washington, DC Constitution Hall 
November 1 Toronto, ON Massey Hall
November 5 Chicago, IL Rosemont Theatre
November 6 Detroit, MI Fox Theatre 
November 12 Miami, FL The Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater
November 16 Dallas, TX Verizon Theatre 
November 17 Houston, TX Verizon Wireless Theater 
November 20 Denver, CO Wells Fargo Theatre 
November 22 Phoenix, AZ Comerica Theatre 
November 28 Los Angeles, CA The Wiltern
December 2 San Francisco, CA Nob Hill Masonic Center 
December 5 Seattle, WA The Paramount Theatre 
December 8 Vancouver, BC Queen Elizabeth Theatre


“Desandann” - the Choir’s Cuban name - literally means “descendents,” and with the songs on their new album Tande-La (which translates to “listen”), they tell the stories of their Haitian ancestors who were brought to Cuba to toil in near slave conditions on the sugar and coffee plantations. The Choir - six women and four men, aged 27 to 61 - hail from Camagüey, Cuba’s third largest city. All have studied music to university level in Camagüey and all are members of the Provincial Choir, directed by their leader Emilia Chavez. Desandann emerged out of this choir in 1994, a difficult time for Cubans when the economy collapsed following the end of the USSR and of Soviet support for the Cuban revolution.

The singers decided to re-forge the resistance songs and laments of their forebears, to celebrate the history of their Haitian ancestors enslaved to the Caribbean from West Africa. To the songs that had been passed down in their families since the early 19th century, they added more modern Haitian sounds. In addition to Spanish and French, the Choir mainly sing in Creole, Cuba’s second language which is spoken by close to a million people. This pragmatic fusion of African, French and other tongues is the language of a people twice exiled: first to Haiti from Africa through the iniquitous slave trade, and then from Haiti to Cuba -- tricked into a second slavery by their French masters after the Haitian Revolution of 1790. Other Haitians arrived in Cuba over the 20th century, fleeing political upheaval, poverty and oppression - especially during the barbaric regime of Papa Doc Duvalier from the 1950s to the 1970s, which was marked by reigns of terror and the brutality of his private militia, the Tonton Macoutes.

With melodies driven by richly textured harmonies, shifting Caribbean rhythms with a very original root bass sound, their first U.S. release "Tande-La" showcases the impassioned singing of a unique group celebrating roots, resistance and the irresistible rhythms of life. The album Tande-la on Real World Records is available now. Their first ever national tour of the United States started on September 21 and will run through November 4, 2011, comprising 23 dates.

The Creole Choir of Cuba 2011 US Tour:
10/1/11 Boston, MA                
10/2/11 New York, NY        
10/6/11 Hanover, NH        
10/9/11 Union NJ                
10/12/11 Amherst, MA            
10/14/11 Portland. ME            
10/15/11 New Bedford, MA        
10/16/11 Philadelphia, PA                
10/19/11 North Bethesda, MD            
10/20/11 Hampton, VA        
10/22/11 Santa Cruz, CA        
10/25/11 Chico, CA                
10/27/11 Arcata, CA                
10/29/11 Scottsdale, AZ    
11/1/11 San Diego, CA            
11/2/11 Santa Barbara, CA            
11/3/11 San Francisco, CA
11/5/11 Riverside, CA

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Brian Culbertson @ Thornton Winery, Temecula, CA, Oct 1
Santana @ The Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA, Oct 1
Stanley Jordan @ Sellersville Theater, Sellersville, PA, Oct 1
Diana Ross @ Sovereign PAC, Reading, PA, Oct 1
George Benson @ The Riverbend Centre, Austin, TX, Oct 1
Michael Franks @ Jazz Alley, Seattle, WA, Oct 1-2
Natalie Cole @ Blue Note, Tokyo, Japan, Oct 1-3
Diana Ross @ Mayo Center, Morristown, NJ, Oct 2
George Benson @ Blanche Thouhill PAC, St. Louis, MO, Oct 2
Diana Ross @ Hanover Theatre, Worcester, MA, Oct 4
Tower of Power @ Blue Note, Tokyo, Japan, Oct 4-5
Bobby Caldwell @ Billboard Live! @ Osaka, Japan, Oct 5-8
Stanley Jordan @ Jazz at the Bistro, St. Louis, MO, Oct 5-8
Mindi Abair @ Catalina Island Jazz Festival, Avalon, CA, Oct 6
Tania Maria @ Blue Note, Tokyo, Japan, Oct 6-8
Brian Culbertson @ The Birchmere, Alexandria, VA, Oct 7
Max Weinberg Band @ Catalina Island Jazz Festival, Avalon, CA, Oct 7
Phil Perry, Alex Bugnon, Smooth Jazz Cruise, Chelsea Piers, NY, Oct 7

Dave Koz, The Rippingtons ft. Russ Freeman, Billy Mitchell
@ Sedona Golf Resort, Sedona, AZ, Oct 7

Maxi Priest, Los Lobos, Mindi Abair, Jeff Golub, Soulive, Hiroshima
@ Sedona Golf Resort, Sedona, AZ, Oct 8

The Rippingtons @ Catalina Island Jazz Festival, Avalon, CA, Oct 8
Brian Culbertson @ Rams Head On Stage, Annapolis, MD, Oct 8
The Rippingtons, Acoustic Alchemy @ Thornton Winery, Temecula, CA, Oct 9
Souljazz Orchestra @ Festival de L’outaouais Emergent, Gatineau, CAN, Oct 9
Dotsero, Warren Hill @ Catalina Island Jazz Festival, Avalon, CA, Oct 9
Bobby Caldwell @ Billboard Live! @ Tokyo, Japan, Oct 10-11, 13-15
Pat Metheny @ Blue Note, New York, Oct 11
Stanley Jordan @ Yoshi’s, San Francisco, CA, Oct 11-12
Toots Thielemans @ Blue Note, Tokyo, Japan, Oct 11-13
Johnny Mathis @ The o2 Arena, London, UK, Oct 12
Lee Ritenour @ Catalina Island Jazz Festival, Avalon, CA, Oct 13

Mindi Abair @ Rehoboth Beach Convention Center,
Reheboth Beach, DE, Oct 13,15,16

Marion Meadows @ Catalina Island Jazz Festival, Avalon, CA, Oct 14
Kid Creole @ La fiesta des suds, Marseilles, FR, Oct 14
George Benson @ Sage Court, JW Marriott, Phoenix, AZ, Oct 14
Michael Franks @ Miller Outdoor Theatre, Houston, TX, Oct 14
Sophie Milman @ Blue Note, Tokyo, Japan, Oct 14-16
Kid Creole @ Nancy Jazz Pulsation, Nancy, FR, Oct 15
U-Nam @ Christophe’s, Upland, CA, Oct 15

James Ingram, Lamont Dozier, Fred Payne, Marilyn McCoo &
Billy Davis Jr., Percy Sledge @ Capital FM Arena, Nottingham, UK, Oct 15

Chieli Minucci & Special EFS, Tim Weisberg, Acoustic Alchemy
@ Catalina Island Jazz Festival, Avalon, CA, Oct 15

Candy Dulfer, Alonzo Bodden @ Thornton Winery, Temecula, CA, Oct 15
Michael Franks @ One World Theatre, Austin, TX, Oct 15
George Benson @ Symphony Hall, Atlanta, GA, Oct 16

James Ingram, Lamont Dozier, Fred Payne, Marilyn McCoo &
Billy Davis Jr., Percy Sledge @ MEN Arena, Manchester, UK Oct 17

Maceo Parker @ Blue Note, Tokyo, Japan, Oct 17
Marcos Valle @ Blue Note, Tokyo, Japan, Oct 18-19

James Ingram, Lamont Dozier, Fred Payne, Marilyn McCoo &
Billy Davis Jr., Percy Sledge @ Echo Arena, Liverpool, UK, Oct 19

George Benson @ Bergen PAC, Englewood, NJ, Oct 19
George Benson @ Morristown Civic Center, Morristown, NJ, Oct 20
Norman Brown @ Catalina Island Jazz Festival, Avalon, CA, Oct 20
Stanley Jordan @ Iridium Jazz Club, New York, NY, Oct 20-23
Nick Colionne @ Catalina Island Jazz Festival, Avalon, CA, Oct 21
George Benson @ Town Hall, New York, NY, Oct 21
Jack Jones @ Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, UK, Oct 21
Jack Jones @ York Barbian Centre, York, UK, Oct 22

Mindi Abair, Chris Standring, Keiko Matsui
@ Catalina Island Jazz Festival, Avalon, CA, Oct 22

James Ingram, Lamont Dozier, Fred Payne, Marilyn McCoo &
Billy Davis Jr., Percy Sledge @ LG Arena, Birmingham, UK, Oct 22-23

George Benson @ Keswick Theatre, Glenside, PA, Oct 23

Paul Brown, Michael Lington, Nils, Jessy J @
European Jazz Cruise, Venice, Italy, Oct 23-30

Fourplay, Norman Brown, George Duke, Eric Benet, Phil Perry,
Rachelle Ferrell, Patti Austin, Roy Ayers, Maysa, Conya Doss,
Pieces Of A Dream, Walter Beasley, Chante Moore,
Nick Colionne, Down To The Bone, Gerald Veasley,
Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly, Eric Robertson,
Frank McComb, Angela Johnson, Anthony David,
Capital Jazz Super Cruise V, Miami/Cozumel/
Belize/Ocho Rio, Oct 23-30

Rick Braun @ Catalina Island Jazz Festival, Avalon, CA, Oct 24
Jack Jones @ Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, UK, Oct 24
Jack Jones @ The Sage, Gateshead, UK, Oct 25

James Ingram, Lamont Dozier, Fred Payne, Marilyn McCoo &
Billy Davis Jr., Percy Sledge @ O2 Arena, London, UK, Oct 25-26

Jack Jones @ Town Hall, Birmingham, UK, Oct 27
U-Nam @ Simply Sharon’s Restaurant, Temecula, Cam Oct 28

James Ingram, Lamont Dozier, Fred Payne, Marilyn McCoo &
Billy Davis Jr., Percy Sledge @ Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, UK, Oct 28

Jack Jones @ Cliffs Pavilion, South-On-Sea, UK, Oct 29
Jack Jones @ Fairfield, Croydon, UK, Oct 30
Jack Jones @ London Paladium, London, UK, Oct 31


In 1992, London-based producer and Us3 brainchild, Geoff Wilkinson and production partner Mel Simpson, had unknowingly started a chain reaction by sampling one of the biggest dancefloor tunes of the burgeoning jazz dance scene. The tune he sampled was Grant Green's "Sookie Sookie," originally released on Blue Note Records. London's Kiss FM playlisted "The Band Played The Boogie" and Wilkinson received a call summoning him to EMI's offices in London. Knowing the sample had not been cleared Wilkinson was nervous, but somehow talked himself out of being sued and into the Blue Note vaults. By allowing complete access to their legendary back catalogue, Blue Note went back to the future. "It was a brave decision by Bruce Lundvall (Blue Note President)," says Wilkinson, "but he made me record some demos first, to prove I could do it." One of those demos, recorded in March 1992, was "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)." Exactly two years later it was sitting in the US top ten. The resulting album Hand on the Torch became a global phenomenon and sold over 2.5 million copies. It was the first Blue Note album to achieve Platinum status in the United States and launched the career of Wilkinson and his collective, Us3, who are preparing to release their eighth studio album titled, Lie, Cheat & Steal.

The worldwide success of Us3 took everyone by surprise, and proved a point to Wilkinson. "I always thought there was a huge potential audience for jazz amongst younger people, and I wanted Us3 to be a point of access for them. By sampling classic jazz tracks, mixing them with beats and raps, and having younger jazz cats playing on top I was acknowledging the past, staying rooted in the present, and looking forward to the future, all at the same time."

After several world tours with the Us3 band, Simpson left for pastures new, and in 1996 Wilkinson set about making the follow-up. "It was always my intention to change the vocalists with each Us3 album" says Wilkinson. "It keeps things fresh and exciting for me too." The Blue Note samples became more embedded in the grooves on the 1997 album, Broadway & 52nd and experimental tracks like "Snakes" (in 5/4) and "Sheep" (a spoken word poem) broke new ground, drawing great performances from New York rappers KCB and Shabaam Sahdeeq.

A frustrating period signed to Sony in New York was eventually brought to an end and the third Us3 album, An Ordinary Day In An Unusual Place, was released in 2001 by Toshiba EMI in Japan, and Universal in Europe. The album itself represented a quantum leap in the Us3 sound. "I've always had a very wide ranging taste in music and this was my chance to show it," explains Wilkinson, who incorporated elements of Drum'n'Bass, Latin, and Indian music into the mix. Several European and Japanese tours took place throughout 2002, and the crowd reactions were incredible.

The fourth Us3 album, Questions, was released in Japan in 2003. This time Wilkinson ditched the samples completely and made an album heavily influenced by both his love of Latin music and the neo-soul movement. Brooklyn rapper Reggi Wyns and London-based (South Africa-born) female singer Mpho Skeef were the featured vocalists. Says Wilkinson, "there's been a decreasing reliance on samples with each Us3 album, and Questions is the culmination of that. And it was nice working with some live musicians rather than dead ones!" Questions was also the first Us3 album to be released independently (outside Japan). Two tours of Europe throughout 2005 saw the Us3 live band perform 50 gigs in 14 countries, serving as a huge inspiration for Wilkinson. This resulted in the up-tempo, live sounding album, Schizophonic which featured all members of the Us3 live band.

The 2007 album, Say What!?, saw Us3 taking on a contemporary R&B twist, displaying a huge palette of sounds ranging from big crunchy drums and horns to synthesized string drenched jazz breaks to seductive Brazilian grooves. After taking a break in 2008, Us3 returned in 2009 with a new album stop. think. run. The album touches on tales of urban paranoia and desperation to the pursuit of true romance. Wilkinson sums up the album title: "In life sometimes you need to stop and think about what you are doing and what you really want to do. And when you've identified what that is, run towards it." In promoting the album the live Us3 band performed 39 shows in 17 different countries and reviews were all very positive.

Lie, Cheat & Steal, the eighth album from Wilkinson's hip-hop-jazz crew Us3 sees the introduction of two new MC's from different backgrounds and different nationalities. From Puerto Rico via New York comes Oveous Maximus, and from London, England comes Akala.

The familiar Us3 sound features collaborators past & present, including fiery horn players Ed Jones (sax) and Bryan Corbett (trumpet). A variety of keyboard players take the chair including John Crawford, Mike Gorman, Barry Green, Tim Vine, Neil Angilley, and John Turville. Double Bass is handled by Chris Dodd, and DJ First Rate shows off his turntable trickery again.

Wilkinson explains the title, and theme, of the album, "I've become increasingly disillusioned by the people we, as children, are traditionally brought up to look up to. Politicians, police, business leaders, sportsmen, religious leaders, etc. all seem to be up to their eyeballs in corrupt practices. The gap between the haves and the have-nots is widening at an increasing pace. Is this what a democracy should look like, where it's ok to lie, cheat and steal your way to the top?" Akala and Oveous articulate this in the hard-nosed title track, culminating in an epic crescendo of horns. Both rappers acknowledge the spoken word roots of rap respectively; Oveous appears on the blues-drenched "Wild West" and Akala on the staccato stop/start rhythms of "The Ring."

The melancholic guitar drenched groove of "Ghost" sees Oveous telling a story of abuse and revenge, while the breakbeat led "Puppets" has Akala telling a modern day parable relevant to us all. The Us3 sound is expanded to include flamenco influences on "Uptown," and the Fela Kuti - like afrobeat of "(You Are) So Corrupt." Lie, Cheat & Steal was recorded in London before, during, and after the recent riots, and Akala sums up the atmosphere on "Pressure Bursts Pipes" over an amalgam of piano, electronica, horns and angular beats.

Oveous Maximus grew up in the Bronx & Washington Heights in New York. An honorary member of the legendary Nuyorican Poets Café, Oveous has a unique style of rap and spoken word. He was a National Poetry Slam finalist three years in a row, a multiple winner at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem and has performed on the HBO TV series Def Poetry. He has recorded with Louie Vega and Osunlade, and is about to release his third self-produced studio album this year.

London-based Akala is a MOBO award-winning artist, label owner and social entrepreneur. Inspired by the likes of Saul Williams and the late Gil Scott-Heron, Akala has released three solo albums and performed across the globe in Vietnam, Brazil, Africa, New Zealand and Australia. In 2009 he launched the "Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company," already an acclaimed music theatre production enterprise. Recently he presented a TV show about UK MC culture called, "Life Of Rhyme" on Channel 4.

Upcoming Us3 Appearances:
October 8 - Under the Bridge - London, England
October 9 - Vaartkapoen Club - Brussels, Belgium
October 10 - Le Grand Mix - Lille, France
October 11 - Bataclan - Paris, France
October 13 - Animal Social Club - Rome, Italy
October 14 - Nikaia Live - Nice, France
October 15 - Rockstore - Montpellier, France
October 16 - Cabaret Aleatoire - Marseille, France
October 17 - Q Bar - Padova, Italy
October 18 - Blue Note Club - Milan, Italy
October 19 - Bravo Cafe - Bologna, Italy
October 20 - Lucerna - Prague, Czech Republic
October 21 - Eter - Wroclaw, Poland
October 22 - Estrada - Bydgoszcz, Poland
October 23 - Kwadrat - Krakow, Poland
October 24 - Stodola - Warsaw, Poland
October 25 - Zentrum - Feldbach, Austria
October 27 - Kino Siska - Ljubljiana, Slovenia
October 28 - Sofia Live Club - Sofia, Bulgaria

Us3 · Lie, Cheat & Steal
The Orchard - Release Date: October 3, 2011


After a lengthy hiatus from recording, in December 2008, Bonnie Pointer contacted long time friend David Williams at Melrose Mastering in Hollywood, and joining forces with writing/producing partners Lloyd Poe and Robin Taylor, immersed herself in what was to become Like A Picasso. Experimenting with a new feel and sound, the album resulted in some of Bonnie’s most versatile performances to date. From the complex production of the title track, to the yearning, streamlined “You Will” and “Ghost of 1-95,” to the poignant “Genius of My Heart,” and the uplifting first single, “Strangest Day,” "Like A Picasso" is a journey through the soulful depth that is Bonnie Pointer. Recently, Bonnie also recorded “Just Cried Tear” written by June Nelson for Monte Hellman’s film, “Road To Nowhere,” which won the Special Lion (Career) Award at the 2010 Venice Film Festival. She also composed music for the feature film “Heavenly Bodies” for which she performed the songs “Heaven” and “The Beast In Me” for the film’s soundtrack.

Since returning from a European Tour in 2008, Bonnie has performed in several Gay Pride Festivals and at Hard Rock Cafés. Last summer, she joined her sisters on stage at the Greek Theater, performing together for the first time in over 15 years and is now set to appear on the Discopalooza Tour with domestic and international dates, while continuing to perform as part of The Pointer Sisters. A prolific songwriter, through the years Bonnie has written innumerable songs for herself as well as other performers, including Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and Sly Stone. More recently, she also worked with Jody Watley, Sylvester, and Gloria Gaynor. She won the Tokyo Music Festival Award with a song that she and sister Anita wrote for Stevie Wonder.


1976’s Breezin’, his Warner Bros. Records debut, started Benson off on a phenomenally commercial career as both vocalist and guitarist, yielding the Grammy-winning Record of the Year for his rendition of Leon Russell’s “This Masquerade.”  The hits just kept on coming from that point on: “Give Me the Night,” “Turn Your Love Around,” “Lady Love Me (One More Time),” “On Broadway” and more.  It’s this period in Benson’s career that is anthologized on The Essential Collection – a collection of 32 tracks.  A handful of non-album cuts and 12-inch single versions are included, and the resulting Essential Collection makes for a unique entry in Benson’s compilation catalogue.

George Benson, The Essential Collection Track List:
CD 1
Give Me The Night
Never Give Up On A Good Thing
Feel Like Makin’ Love
Lady Love Me (One More Time)
Turn Your Love Around
On Broadway
Gonna Love You More
Valdez In The Country
The World Is A Ghetto
Soulful Strut
Inside Love (So Personal)
20/20 (Extended Remix)
Living Inside Your Love

CD 2
Love Ballad
In Your Eyes
Love X Love
Shiver (Extended Remix)
The Greatest Love Of All
Kisses In The Moonlight
Nothing’s Going To Change My Love For You
Nature Boy
This Masquerade
Everything Must Change
6 to 4
Lady Blue
What’s On Your Mind
Beyond The Sea (La Mer)
Unchained Melody
You Are The Love of My Life

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


From time to time, there comes across an emerging new artist that deserves attention more so than the rest, and in this case we have a new release from Sarah Fonteyne. Debut is the divine first musical chapter in the story of enchanting singer/songwiter/producer Sarah Fonteyne on her own new label Aesthetic Sounds. London town celebrates the birth of its new soulful diva, and rightfully so, as Sarah delivers her own special flavour of heartfelt songs, beautifully delivered over a classy cross pollenated soundtrack of nujazz and soul. Debut features Sarah’s forthcoming new single ‘Beautiful’, a jazz fused love song which is also due to feature remixes from Bugz In The Attic. Tracks including the funky dancefloor groove ‘Messing’, through to intelligent Jazz outing ‘Music Is The Key’ and the soul drenched ‘Jealous Eyes’ are testament to Sarah’s ability to effortlessly genre cross. Collaborations on the album include some top dogs from the international producer arena. These include Colin Emmanuel (De La Soul, Beverley Knight) on the nu-jazz groove ‘Breathe’; James Yarde (Terri Walker, LL Cool J) on the boom-clack urban grind of ‘If She Breaks Your Heart’ and the classy latin tinged soul ballard ‘Everytime’; Myx Quest (Solange, Bashy) on the positive vibes of ‘Getaway’; Self Taught (TY, Cheryl Cole) on the brash attack on a devil woman, ‘B.I.S.Y (Man Teef)’; and A.C Layne (Phil Asher, Miles Bunny) on ‘Follow Your Dreams (Believe)’. All in all ‘Debut’ is an honest and beautifully penned collection of both personal and emotionally driven songs.


India Arie is known and cherished by fans and fellow musicians as a poet, a songwriter, a daughter, a producer, a musician, a sister, a singer, an advocate, a friend and a philanthropist –– but she is possibly best known for the love in her music that has inspired and motivated people worldwide. From the moment that her very first single “Video” and her multi–platinum debut album Acoustic Soul were released in 2001, India's music established an extraordinary bond of trust, affection and communication with her followers. Her sophomore release the platinum selling Voyage to India in 2002 was hailed worldwide by critics. The New York Times called it “music that only further enhances her reputation as an artist of substance; centering on her acoustic guitar and confident but restrained vocals, it recalls such soul masters as Stevie Wonder and Roberta Flack.”

In 2006 she released her Number One charting album Testimony: Vol.1, Love & Relationship, a beautiful collection of songs treasured by fans for its intimate, heart–tugging portrait of a lover’s parting and its after–ache. Although they’ve been understated, the politics of India.Arie’s Grammy–honored music have also been on open display ever since Oprah Winfrey pointedly thanked her for writing the sentiment “I may not be built like a supermodel/But I’ve learned to love myself unconditionally” – a declaration of independence from a set agenda that, eight years later, remains as politically definitive as any protest song ever written. Winfrey also singled out the Testimony: Vol. 1 track “There’s Hope” as “music that really stimulates and revives the soul,” and India’s music was known to be heard on campaign buses and planes, rallies and fundraisers during the historic Presidential run of Barack Obama. “I want people to hear my music for a long time,” says India, “for this generation to say decades from now: ‘This still says what I think’ and girls who are eleven now, who were one when I wrote ‘Video,’ can say, ‘That’s how I feel.’”

A broadening awareness of her own calling and of our collective worldwide dialogue is central to Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics (Soulbird Music/Universal Republic), the fourth studio album by India.Arie. Years after completing her first multi–platinum album, “I feel my music is even more in accordance with where people are. Everybody’s looking for ways to feel better –– the world is so unpredictable, people are looking inside themselves to ask what’s meaningful in life. My music has always addressed this, and now it’s so much in vibrational accordance with what people are thinking.” India.Arie has stood often with her peers in the top echelon of entertainment as an activist for global health and human dignity.

As a U.S. Ambassador for UNICEF, she traveled to Africa several times to address the AIDS crisis, and filmed the VH–1 documentary Tracking the Monster: Ashley Judd & India.Arie Confront Aids in Africa. “I Am Not My Hair” was central to Lifetime Television’s recent “Stop Breast Cancer for Life” public awareness campaign, “Beautiful Flower” was used for fund–raising for the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, “She Is” was created for the documentary on Ellen Johnson Sirleaf entitled Iron Ladies of Liberia, and “What About the Child” has been used in conjunction with various UNICEF events.

Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics is, as always, a searching, insightful, honest and creatively accomplished expression of inner emotions, and the interconnectedness of all of us. India adds that it’s a reflection of changes – hers and ours, too. “There’s nothing you can do or say that’s separate from other people any more,” she observes. “Now you can have the whole world in your laptop, you are a part of the world instantaneously, laying things on the table for conversation, that’s politics. Politics is what happens when a group of people get together, and section themselves off. A lot of my album is about how we define and separate ourselves. I know from traveling around the world that people are now talking about all these different things. That’s what the album is about.”

The creative strength and satisfaction underlying Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics also reflects India’s experience of a world that’s becoming closer to us all. ”I always looked at myself as a world music artist –– even when I was playing coffee houses in college,” she reflects. “I was always unsatisfied to be filed under urban, only. This is the first world music album that I’ve made. It addresses politics in a way that people don’t expect. One of the biggest political statements it makes is that there’s a new definition of what it means to be part of the world –– to have an album that involves Musiq, Dobet, Sezen, Keb Mo, Lyte, Gramps, doing things together without being in the same place with them, and what it means for all these people to sing songs together.”

India.Arie has sold over eight million albums worldwide, including the double–platinum Acoustic Soul, the platinum Voyage to India and her number one album Testimony: Vol.1, Life & Relationship. Her honors include 17 Grammy nominations, 2 Grammy Awards, 4 NAACP Image Awards, and various awards from BET, Billboard, MTV, VH–1, Vogue, Essence, and others. Her songs have appeared in such films as Sex and the City, The Secret Life of Bees, A Soldier’s Story, Radio, A Shark’s Tale and Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Arie launched her own label, Soulbird Music, in June 2008 through Universal Republic, with the release of singer–songwriter Anthony David's album Acey Deucy and the Grammy–nominated single "Words," a duet with Arie.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


The evolution of Far Out's excellent Brazilian Love Affair series – featuring standouts from earlier volumes as well as new and exclusive tracks! Brazilian Love Affair Revisited celebrates the series to date as well as it charts the evolving sounds of Brazil and its London interpreters – and shows where the sound is going via newer material and younger talents. A great set with both classic and contemporary legends such as Ed Motta, Marcos Valle, Joyce, Azymuth and others, respectful remixes and interpretations by Osunlade, Mark Pritchard and Kirk Degiorgio, newer tracks from more recent Far Out arrivals such as Raf Vilar and Clara Moreno. 15 tracks in all: "Os Escravos Do Jo (Precussion Edit)" and more by Friends From Rio 2, "Ponteio" by Da Lata, "Nova Bossa Nova" by Marcos Valle, "Paz" by Troubleman feat Nina Miranda, "Todos Os Santos" by Joyce, "Preguiciman" by Mamond, "Bossa Me" by Raf Vilar, "Without Words" by 4 Hero Presents Nature's Plan feat Ed Motta, "Sem Pressa (Remix By Danny Wheeler)" by Alex Malheiros And Banda Utopia feat Sabrina Malheiros and more.

Banda Black Rio – the pioneering samba, soul and funk combo that broke so much ground back in the 70’s and remain vital to this day – led here by William Magalhaes, in a mode that celebrates decades of the best Brazilian music, while fearlessly moving it forward! William's father Oberdan Magalhaes was a driving force behind the original Banda Black Rio, and William wrote or co-wrote each track and he sings, plays keys and synth, guitar, bass, drums and more. The expansive group brings a depth of percussion, horns, strings and vocals – delivering timeless and dexterous jazzy Brazilian funk and dancefloor soul. The guest list includes classic and contemporary greats like Seu Jorge, Elza Soares, Marcio Local and others. Includes "Louis Lane" with Seu Jorge & Mano Brown, "Super Nova Samba Funk (9 No Samba)", "America Do Sul", "Isabela" feat Elza Soares and Cesar Camargo Mariano, "Samba Nova", "Quem Vem La" feat Marcio Local, "Deixa Estar" feat Aleha and "Lindos Olhos" feat Seu Jorge and Don Pixote.

Driving rhythms, heavy percussion, and funk filtered through native Haitian and more Caribbean-inflected music - the great Respect album by the Tabou Combo de Petion-Ville! Of the many Tabou Combo albums to be release over ther the years, this one is probably on of ther very beset. The dexterity of the musicians – the exciting percussion backdrop and these spindly, swirling and hypnotic electric guitars are especially impressive – but everything's really, really great. There are impassioned lead vocals and sweet group backup, some accordion and more instrumentation – with songs that balance moving melodies with some surprisingly tripped out bits of echo and other atmospherics. Titles include "Respect", "Minouche", "Maria", "Alle Lave", "Ti Gran Mou'n", "Bebe Paramount", "Plus Pres De Toi" and "Compas Popcorn".

Monday, September 26, 2011


Acoustic Alchemy - Roseland
Afrolicious – A Dub For Mali
Alex Jacquemin – First And Last Light
Alexander Boynton Jr – Doo Bee Doo Bop
Brian Hughes – Fast Train To A Quiet Place
Corey Wilkes – Kind Of Miles: Live At The Velvet Lounge
Deborah Bond – Madam Palindrome
Dwight Trible - Cosmic
E Family – Now And Forever
George Benson – Essential Collection
Jessy J – Hot Sauce
Joey Sommerville – The Get Down Club
Keith Tippett – From Granite To Wind
Kenny Thomas – Breathe
Lorenzo Johnson – Things Are Looking Up
Mark De Clive-Lowe – Leaving This Plant
Maya Azucena – Cry Love
Miles Bonny – Lumberjack Soul
Miles Davis – Live In Europe 1967 The Bootleg Series Vol. 1
Neamen – So Free
Poncho Sanchez & Terence Blanchard – Chano Y Dizzy
Randy Scott – 90 Degrees At Midnight
Sabrina Malheiros - Dreaming
Shuyo Okino & Kyoto Jazz Massive – Destiny
Tasha Taylor - Taylormade
Trombone Shorty – For True
Wendell Harrison – It’s About Damn Time


On his latest Mack Avenue recording, Friends, Jordan takes the time-honored path of inviting a handpicked cadre of guests: guitarists Bucky Pizzarelli, Mike Stern, Russell Malone and Charlie Hunter; violinist Regina Carter; saxophonists Kenny Garrett and Ronnie Laws; trumpeter Nicholas Payton; bassists Christian McBride and Charnett Moffett; and drummer Kenwood Dennard. The results proved truly outstanding on numbers ranging from a Bela Bartokpiece to a Katy Perrypop smash, a heady original blues and three jazz classics spanning swing, cool and modern. There's a listener-friendly samba, an airy spirit song and an astounding nod to the atonal. Jordan even plays some serious piano on a couple of songs, revisiting his first instrument with newfound confidence and wonder.

Jordan opens Friends with the straight-ahead original Capital J featuring Kenny Garrett on tenor saxophone and Nicholas Payton on trumpet. "So much of the great jazz I grew up with was built on a strong horn line," Jordan states. "In the spirit of those great classics I wrote this tune. Nick's tone is fresh and full of life, and he creates interesting, complex improvisations while still leaving plenty of space. Kenny combines a deep musical knowledge with a natural and effortless facility. My favorite part of Capital J was just comping behind the horns."

A trip to Bluesville is next with Walkin' the Dog, which recalls B.B. Kingbut with some edgier things going on around the fringe. Jordan collaborates with groove-master Charlie Hunter on this one. "Our paths have crossed in many jam band situations. We both play multiple parts at once, but he plays more in the lower range while I play more in the higher range, so we complement each other very well."

Next up is the big band standard Lil' Darlin', a gem from the pen of the great Neal Hefti redefined as a quintessential ballad by Count Basie. Together Jordan and guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli create a dreamy romantic feel. "Bucky brought that one in and gave us all a history lesson. How precious this moment was, reminding us that we were in the presence of one of the greats who helped create this music we call jazz."

Jazz rocker Mike Stern emerges next for a mind-blowing spin through the groundbreaking John Coltraneclassic Giant Steps. "Mike and I cut our teeth in the same scene in New York in the early '80s. Once we jammed together on Giant Steps back in the '90s while on tour. He glides through this complex tune with an approach that is so beautiful, natural and musical."

Jordan really lets the fur fly with his take on pop sensation Katy Perry's runaway hit I Kissed a Girl on which he plays guitar and piano simultaneously in a second teaming with Charlie Hunter. Jordan-who scored massive hits with covers of Michael Jackson's The Lady in My Life and The Beatles' Eleanor Rigby-sees this as a vital continuum in both jazz history and his history. "I chose a song from the current generation-a generation moving into a more tolerant and accepting world."

Samba Delight, featuring Ronnie Laws on soprano saxophone and Regina Carter on violin, puts one in the mind of tropical paradise. "Ronnie is a remarkable and versatile musician who is at the crossroads of many musical worlds," Jordan explains. "When I showed Ronnie Samba Delight he remarked on how much he liked the tune. It felt really good to hear that because I composed it with him in mind!"

The pendulum swings back to jazz with the super standard Seven Come Eleven, a song made famous in Benny Goodman's band as a feature for electric jazz guitar pioneer Charlie Christian. In loving homage, Jordan put himself together with Bucky Pizzarelli and Russell Malone to swing this classic into the rafters. "When I told Bucky I was thinking about doing Seven Come Eleven, he just lit up! I love the old time three-way improv we played toward the end. Bucky played a rousing solo, and Russell was great as well-providing a cool yet uplifting spirit."

Bathed in Light is an original that Jordan calls this album's "spirit song." It brings back Garrett and Payton on horns, and the always empathetic Christian McBride on bass in a softer turn than the swinging opener Capital J. "This was our first chance to play together," Jordan says of McBride, "a dream come true because I have admired his playing for many years. He was very sensitive as he adjusted his approach to each song, playing just the right part at all times." On the inspiration behind the music and title, Jordan muses, "The splashy guitar chords bring out the meaning of the title. Sometimes when we're bogged down in the details of things, we get depressed. But when we put things into proper perspective, the clouds part and we see a rainbow. I was having one of those moments when I wrote this song." Mirroring the Zen of all this, Kenwood Dennard played live drums and keyboards simultaneously.

With boundless beauty, Friends moves into the home stretch with two creative renditions of classical themes. The first is Romantic Intermezzo, based on the theme of the fourth movement of Bela Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. This deeply stirring piece features Regina Carter on violin and Stanley, this time exclusively on piano, in his most virtuosic recording on the instrument to date. "Though most of my training is on guitar, I have a strong connection to the piano. I started at the age of three, so playing piano is natural for me, but I had to get out of the mental grid that I'm a 'guitar player'-a major liberation for me." Reflecting on working with the violin virtuoso, Jordan says, "Regina Carter is an amazing violinist who combines my favorite elements from the jazz side and the classical side. Doing improvisations of 'classical' compositions often means spelling out more than just chord symbols. In this case, I wrote out many of the voicings I was using so we could improvise in a cohesive way. The result was a dense page of notes, which was probably a lot to drop on Regina at the last minute, but she rose to the occasion admirably. The sensitivity of her playing is exquisite."

A take on Claude Debussy's Reverie in a jazz context features Jordan and his road trio of Charnett Moffett on bass and Kenwood Dennard on drums. The group has been performing this for many years, which explains the fluid ease with which they weave through it. "We pretty much stuck to the form on this one except for a brief modal improv which was obviously not written into the original composition," Jordan states, "but I feel that it gets across the meaning and spirit of the song."

Friends closes on an ear-turning note with One for Milton, a heartfelt yet adventurous tribute to one of Jordan's most beloved music teachers, composer Milton Babbit (1916-2011),who passed away as Jordan was preparing to record Friends. "I studied theory and composition with Milton at Princeton in the late '70s and early '80s. He was a giant in his field and he left a big impression on me-musically and personally. In Eastern spiritual traditions a guru is someone whose very presence confers enlightenment. Milton truly fit this description. Russell, Kenwood and I created this from scratch as an improvisation. I've always been a fan of Russell's more experimental side, and it got a great showing on this recording. We didn't try to imitate Milton's style, but in the spirit of his music we did take an atonal approach. If anything, there are parts that sound a bit like Milton's teacher, Arnold Schoenberg."

Reflecting on the wealth of music inspired by collaborating with chosen peers on Friends, Stanley Jordan concludes, "I am so humbled and grateful to all of the wonderful musicians who graced this project. This collection truly speaks to my belief in the integrationist spirit of music. I'd like to move beyond 'fusion' and explore the concept of 'integration.' When you integrate styles, you combine them into something new while still remaining true to the original sources. The same principal holds for our friendships, which require mutual respect. Our friends are a mirror revealing the diversity within us, and at the same time they give us the courage to share our true selves with the world."

In a career that took flight in 1985 with both immediate commercial and critical acclaim, guitar virtuoso Stanley Jordan has consistently displayed a chameleonic musical persona of openness, imagination, versatility, respect and maverick daring. Be it bold reinventions of classical masterpieces or soulful explorations through pop-rock hits, to blazing straight ahead jazz forays and ultramodern improvisational works-solo or with a group-Jordan can always be counted on to take listeners on breathless journeys into the unexpected.

Stanley Jordan Upcoming Concert Appearances:
September 29 - Birchmere Music Hall / Arlington, VA
September 30 - Rams Head Tavern /Annapolis, MD
October 1 - Sellersville Theater / Sellersville, PA
October 5-8 - Jazz at the Bistro / St. Louis, MO
October 11-12 - Yoshi's / San Francisco, CA
October 20-23 - Iridium Jazz Club / New York, NY
November 12 - The Soiled Dove Underground / Denver, CO
November 16 - Sculler's Jazz Club /Boston, MA
December 2 - One World Theater / Austin, TX
December 3 - Dosey Doe Coffee House / The Woodlands, TX
January 28, 2012 - Norton Center For The Arts at Centre College / Danville, KY

Stanley Jordan · Friends
Mack Avenue - Release Date: September 27, 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Eagle Rock Entertainment and Reelin’ In The Years Productions have announced the October 25th worldwide release of Ray Charles - Live In France 1961 on DVD. The newly discovered concerts, featuring an hour and 45 minutes of performances, were filmed at the 1961 Antibes Jazz Festival in France and show Ray Charles in his prime period with the original Raelettes and his most legendary band (including David “Fathead” Newman and Hank Crawford.) These concerts, Ray’s first-ever performances in Europe, helped him become one of America’s most beloved international stars. Issued with the full cooperation of the Ray Charles Estate, the concerts have been newly transferred from the original 16mm films and have been digitally restored and remastered.
Ray Charles - Live In France 1961 features 25 songs including the timeless classics “What’d I Say," “Georgia On My Mind,” "Hallelujah, I Love Her So" and "I Believe To My Soul." Also included are “Doodlin’,” "One Mint Julep" & "Hornful Soul" showcasing Ray’s jazz era, as well as the country-tinged Nat King Cole composition, “With You On My Mind,” a song Ray never recorded. Also included is a 25-minute bonus section that features six additional performances from the festival.

This historic discovery is the first project to develop from the new partnership between Reelin’ In The Years Productions, the world’s largest library of music footage and France’s Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (Ina), one of Europe’s most important footage archives. Reelin’ In The Years is confident that Ina’s vast, well-documented archive will provide music footage for many more projects of this caliber in the near future.

Ray Charles - Live In France 1961 will make its Hollywood (and world-wide) premiere at a special screening presented by the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles on October 20th.  The film’s producers and other notables are expected to be on hand at the event for which tickets are available to the public. The screening will be followed by a moderated panel discussion that will include director David Peck, one of the film’s producers Tom Gulotta, Ray Charles catalog authority James Austin and Rob Bowman, Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at Toronto’s York University, whose incisive liner notes are part of the Ray Charles - Live In France 1961 package.

Track Listing:
July 18, 1961:
1) The Story
2) Doodlin’
3) One Mint Julep
4) Let The Good Times Roll
5) Georgia On My Mind
6) Sticks And Stones
7) Hallelujah, I Love Her So
8) What’d I Say

July 22, 1961:
9) Hornful Soul
10) Let The Good Times Roll
11) Georgia On My Mind
12) My Bonnie
13) With You On My Mind
14) Ruby
15) Tell The Truth
16) I Wonder
17) Sticks And Stones
18) I Believe To My Soul
19) What’d I Say

Bonus Tracks July 19,1961:
20) The Story
21) Sticks And Stones
22) Yes Indeed
23) I Believe To My Soul
24) What ’d I Say

July21, 1961

25) I Wonder
Ray Charles · Live In France 1961
Eagle Rock Entertainment · Release Date: October 25, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Soul Jazz veteran Richard Elliot invites loyal fans and newcomers alike to celebrate 25 years since the release of his debut album Initial Approach. Where's the party? Where else - In the Zone, a grooving, funked up, horn splashed collection that finds the energized-as-ever tenor saxophonist paying homage to the pioneering instrumental artists of his formative years ('70s-early '80s) whose brilliance and musical innovations inspired his own. Drawing on the influences of legends like Grover Washington, Jr., Bob James and David Sanborn, Elliot fashions the perfect contemporary jazz complement to Rock Steady, his 2009 recording that was inspired by the great R&B artists he grew up listening to; that collection debuted at #5 on the Billboard Jazz Album chart and remained on the list for over 40 weeks.

In The Zone includes a simmering, hypnotic retro-soul cover of "Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler)," a Marvin Gaye staple whose original instrumental version marked Washington's first session as a leader. Beyond that, the collection is driven by 9 powerful retro-flavored original songs penned by Elliot and co-producer Jeff Lorber, who share a colorful collaborative history over the past 10 years. The two played numerous shows in the early 2000s as part of the all-star Groovin' For Grover tour (with Gerald Albright and Paul Taylor) and have worked together on various tracks on Elliot's recordings Crush (2001), Ricochet (2003), Metro Blue (2005), RnR (Elliot's hit dual 2007 recording with trumpet great Rick Braun) and Rock Steady.

Lorber, who began recording as leader of The Jeff Lorber Fusion in the late '70s, brings his unique dual history as a Jazz Fusion pioneer and R&B producer/re-mixer to the session. In addition to his array of keyboards, including the Fender Rhodes, In The Zone features the input of longtime Elliot associates Nate Phillips (bass), Tony Moore and Lil' John Roberts (drums), Dwight Sills and Michael Thompson (guitar), and percussionist Lenny Castro. The same way that Bob James' horn arrangements created a powerful sonic magic behind Washington's early recordings like "Mister Magic," arranger David Mann creates dreamy retro-atmospheres with a subtle mix of muted trumpets, flute and bass clarinet that transport Elliot deeper In The Zone.

"The interesting thing about my desire to pay homage to the wonderful array of R&B and jazz I grew up with on these last two recordings is that I actually wanted to do it as far back as Metro Blue," says Elliot of the album whose key single, a cover of The Stylistics' "People Make The World Go Round," spent an unprecedented 11 weeks at #1 on Radio & Records airplay chart. "The music of the '70s carved out a lot of where I wanted to go musically, and I felt this need to express some musical gratitude, not by doing a cover record but by incorporating a few familiar songs among originals that had references to my influences. Compared to Rock Steady, the vibe is definitely subtler on In The Zone, especially with David's wonderfully sophisticated low-key horn arrangements, but the same love of that time is there. The vibe is the '70s forerunner to the contemporary instrumental music that became popular in my own era as an artist."

The first single, "Boom Town," has an exuberant and aggressive, in-the-pocket tenor hook that does Sanborn proud-it's intense yet has a smooth, poppy finish. Elliot launches the set with the playful and lilting tropical chill vacation "Island Style," then gets back to the city on the moody and atmospheric mid-tempo ballad "Metropolis," which as it evolves includes Elliot's rich sense of improvisation and emotional power. The same type of sensuous atmospheres caressing that track play behind the lighthearted funk of the drive time tune "The Lower Road." With Lorber providing the percussive synth blasts and Fender Rhodes harmonies, Elliot gets down to bluesy business with his muscular playing on the horn-drenched funk of "Bring It!"

"Just a Taste" takes the groove down a notch into romantic chill territory, while the vibrant, in-the-pocket title track lives up to its name with a swirl of percussive synth accents, brassy vamps and bubbling-over retro keyboard flavors. Elliot saves some of his most expressive, in your face tenor playing for another horn-fired jam "Panamera" before wrapping In The Zone on the wistful, candlelit ballad "Golden Triangle."

Taking the concept of In The Zone to another metaphoric place, Elliot has been on one of the most incredible rolls of his career since Metro Blue, which debuted at #2 on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart. In addition to the incredible chart success of "People Make The World Go Round," "RnR" (the title track from the album Elliot recorded with Braun) stayed at #1 on the chart for over two months. Elliot and Braun crisscrossed the US as part of Jazz Attack (with Peter White and Jonathan Butler) in 2005, 2007 and 2009; and spent 2008 touring as RnR. The saxman also did media appearances and performed in South Africa for the first time, and did his first ever shows in Russia and St. Petersburg in January 2009. Elliot is currently headlining on tour with Grammy® award-winning guitarist Norman Brown.

The Scotland-born, L.A.-raised saxman was still on the road with Tower of Power when he released his debut album Trolltown in 1986. Embarking upon one of instrumental music's most dynamic and multifaceted careers, he has scored four #1 albums (On The Town, Soul Embrace, After Dark and Jumpin' Off) and a growing number of #1 airplay singles. In addition to his participation in all-star tours like Groovin' For Grover and Jazz Attack, in the mid-'90s he helped launch another of the genre's annual franchises, the Guitars & Saxes tours, which he has also participated in on and off ever since. At his peak, Elliot was doing over 100 tour dates a year, but he has scaled it back as his family has grown to include five children over the years.

"My original motivation for doing an album like In The Zone was the opportunity to reconnect with my earlier self, the musician I was when I first started out," says Elliot. "The songs remind me of listening to my heroes in those days and seeing them perform live, feeling incredible joy and enthusiasm about the possibility of following in their footsteps. The wonderful thing is, so many years after I began performing professionally, I still feel that excitement. I love to play live more than anything. Under certain circumstances, the recording process can be arduous, but when you can tap into the kind on inspiration I draw from here, it's a whole different, joyous experience. It's all about feeling the same way I did back when I was 18 and dreaming that this could someday be my life."

Richard Elliot · In The Zone
Artistry Music · Release Date: October 11, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011


Ray's late 60’ss Acid album is a landmark recording – a sublime mixture of Latin jazz, percussion, and soul – grooving hard in a variety of styles, and always hitting the money on every single track. Barretto opens the album on familiar ground, with its high-energy boogaloo-styled salsa sung passionately in Spanish. With the second track, "Mercy, Mercy Baby," the sound shifts dramatically as soul gets a serious drenching in hot sauce. The band chants "Mercy, Mercy Baby" behind Memphis-styled horns, catchy lyrics, timbales, and Barretto's kicking congas. The title track, "Acid," opens up sparsely with a lazy hypnotic bass and percussion groove over which stretches the muted trumpet sounds of Rene Lopez, and it’s one of those tunes you'll be playing over and over again until your CD player burns out. After a rock-steady timbales solo by Orestes Vilato, the band begins calling out "Barretto, Barretto," and master Ray steps forward, obliging them with one of his most fiery and intense conga solos ever. The rest of the record is equally great – with cuts like the bouncy groover "Soul Drummers", the tasty boogaloo "El Nuevo Barretto", and the extended "Espiritu Libre", a great Latin jazz track. Acid turned on a lot of important players with its irresistible blending of Latin and soul music, significantly helping to bring about the rise of the Afro-Latin funk revolution.

1. El Nuevo Barretto (Barretto) - 5:50
2. Mercy, Mercy, Baby (Barretto) - 2:44
3. Acid (Barretto) - 5:05
4. Deeper Shade of Soul (Barretto) - 2:46
5. Soul Drummers (Barretto) - 3:48
6. Sola Te Dejare (Barretto/Lopez) - 3:49
7. Teacher of Love (Barretto/Cruz) - 2:27
8. Espiritu Libre (Barretto) - 8:27

Ray Barretto - Percussion, Congas, Vocals
Big Daddy  -  Bass
Rene Lopez  -  Trumpet
Roberto Rodriguez  -  Trumpet
Adalberto Santiago  -  Vocals, Bells
Orestes Vilato  -  Timbales
Pete Bonet  -  Vocals, Guiro


A powerful singer and underrated songwriter, Vesta Williams released a number of quality singles and albums during the late 80s and early 90s, and has been one of the most sought-after session vocalists of the past two decades. Born in Coshocton, Ohio, Vesta moved to California as a child and performed in a family act with her sisters in the Los Angeles area. After high school she moved back to Ohio and joined the group Wild Honey, formed by Ron Townsend of the 5th Dimension (who was Williams' cousin). Williams' big voice and impressive tone were similar to Chaka Khan, and she was soon developing a solid career as a jingle singer as well as a backing vocalist for singers ranging from Gladys Knight to Sting to Anita Baker. Ironically, by the 1980s she was touring with Khan as a backup singer.

Vesta's increasing notoriety in the music industry led to a meeting with producer David Crawford, who assisted in landing her a contract with A&M Records. Her debut album, Vesta, was produced by Crawford, Gary Taylor and others and included the hit "Once Bitten, Twice Shy," which hit the R&B top ten. Williams assumed a greater role in the creation of her 1988 follow-up, Vesta 4 U, and the results were notable. The excellent disc included two top five hits, "Sweet Sweet Love" and the beautiful ballad "Congratulations," which became a signature song for Vesta and a Quiet Storm staple.

Williams continued her ascension in 1991 with the album Special and the hit title track, both of which became her biggest charters. Unfortunately, she stumbled two years later with Everything-N-More, a lesser album that eschewed her adult soul roots for a more contemporary sound. It stiffed on the charts and nearly stopped her solo recording career in its tracks. Fortunately, Vesta continued to be a popular session singer, landing regular spots on albums by such artists as Phil Perry, Howard Hewett and George Duke.

Disappointed with the results of Everything-N-More, Vesta left A&M in search of a new recording contract. It took nearly five years before she released her next album, Relationships, on Lee Ritenour's IE Records. It was a mature album that appealed to adult soul fans but didn't received sufficient airplay to garner any hits.

As the 21st Century came, Vesta continued to work regularly as a session vocalist, particularly on jazz albums, and her song "One More Bridge To Cross" was arguably the highlight of the popular 2005 compilation Love Pages by the Cafe Soul All-Stars. She also occasionally worked in radio and toured in multi-artist smooth jazz shows. In 2007, Vesta signed with Shanachie Records and released Distant Lover, an album of soul music cover songs.

On September 23, 2011, Vesta reportedly died in her hotel room in Los Angeles, at the tragically young age of 48. Though her time as a major recording artist was relatively brief, Vesta Williams impacted the soul music world for over two decades. Both via her own solo work as well as through her impressive appearances on the albums of other artists, Vesta made a career's worth of notable music and was consistently among the most distinctive singers of her era. She will be missed.

Source: / by Chris Rizik


An amazing new take on the legendary Bullitt soundtrack – one that features the full original album, plus 19 more bonus tracks from the film ever released before now. There's almost 80 minutes of music on this release, and every second of it is pure Lalo Schifrin genius – a beautiful blend of jazz, bossa, and other groovy elements – filtered with some occasional dramatic touches too – easily one of the most perfect records that Schifrin ever cut, and that's saying a hell of a lot, given his reputation for perfection! There's lots of cool bubbling electric bass, lilting keyboards, and moody breezy rhythms – nearly every cut's a winner, and if you like his other work, we can bet that this will become one of your favorites. As with other Screen Archives productions over the last few years, the quality level is amazing – new mastering, and a huge amount of notes – with core album tunes that include "Bullitt", "Room 26", "On the Way To San Mateo", and "Shifting Gears" – and bonus tracks that include film versions of "Air Terminal", "Just Coffee", "Music To Interrogate By", "Shifting Gears", "On The Way To San Mateo", "Song For Cathy", "Architect's Building", "Quiet Morning", "Ice Pick Mike", and "Ross". Only a limited release with 3,000 copies is being made available, so get yours quick before they sellout!

Bullitt Tracklisting
1. Bullitt Main Title [2:05]
2. Room 26 [2:24]
3. Hotel Daniels [2:50]
4. The Aftermath of Love [2:47]
5. Music to Interrogate By [2:48]
6. On the Way to San Mateo [2:38]
7. Ice Pick Mike [2:57]
8. A Song for Cathy [2:44]
9. Shifting Gears [3:14]
10. Cantata for Combo [3:03]
11. The First Snowfall - Paul Francis Webster/Sonny Burke [3:05]
12. Bullitt End Title [2:42]
13. Main Title [3:47]
14. Architect's Building [1:28]
15. Cantata for Combo [3:03]
16. A Song for Cathy [2:02]
17. Hotel Daniels [2:58]
18. Room 26 [1:14]
19. The Aftermath of Love [2:45]
20. Dr. Willard [0:54]
21. Ice Pick Mike [3:12]
22. Quiet Morning [2:33]
23. Music to Interrogate By [3:04]
24. Just Coffee [1:25]
25. Shifting Gears [3:15]
26. On the Way to San Mateo [1:24]
27. The First Snowfall - Paul Francis Webster/Sonny Burke [3:27]
28. Ross [2:06]
29. Air Terminal/Main Lobby [2:32]
30. End Credits [0:31]
31. Bullitt Demo [3:06]

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Jazz Cruises has announced that George Benson will be their Cozumel guest for both sailings of The Smooth Jazz Cruise 2013. After many years of resisting their invitation to attend, Benson has finally decided to get onboard. What changed that caused George Benson to join the cruise? There is an old adage that says “success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.” Well, this success did have many fathers! First, several folks, especially fellow artists, had told George that the cruise was a wonderful event. Second, when he found out that the lineup included such icons as David Sanborn, Marcus Miller, Bob James and Jonathan Butler, genre stars Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Candy Dulfer, Brian Culbertson and Jeff Golub, internationally acclaimed vocalist Angie Stone and jazz violin sensation Ken Ford, he was drawn in further. Third, during his stay at the Seabreeze Jazz Festival, Jazz Cruises’ staff not only saw his show, but also were able to spend some time with him and pressed him as to our desire to have him finally become part of The Smooth Jazz Cruise family. Put this all together and it spells George Benson on the cruise.

U-Nam's "Give Me The Night" has been released as a digital single.  It's from the forthcoming album, Weekend In L.A. (A Tribute To George Benson), by U-Nam and Friends featuring George Duke, Paul Jackson Jr., Phil Perry, Tim TiO Owens, Ronnie Foster, Patrice Rushen, and others.

Chris Standring has just finished mastering Send Me Some Snow, his new Christmas record that he did along with singer songwriter Kathrin Shorr. It's a vintage sounding collection of original songs with sentimental, romantic themes, all complete with lush orchestration and christmassy feelings. The album will be released to the world on November 1st, and no doubt I will be able to release some audio snippets ahead of time. He’s also one song away from finishing writing material for his new solo album which will be released in 2012, hopefully 1st quarter. According to Standring, “…April looks very possible, highly likely actually. Cross fingers. It's coming along nicely. I can tell you it's a little more upbeat and joyful than Blue Bolero. It's pretty funky too in places. Again, there is lots of orchestration on it as I get deeper and deeper into that territory.”

Alexander O'Neal, a pioneer of the Minneapolis Sound, returns with his first ever U.S. live recording on CD and DVD. Fresh off the BET Awards, a feature episode of Unsung, and a thrilling live set at the Essence Festival at the Superdome, the chart topping O'Neal proves he's still got it. Recorded live where it all began--downtown Minneapolis along with his 8-piece band--O'Neal lights up all his biggest hits. Live in Minneapolis includes a number of songs written by famed Minneapolis producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, such as "Criticize," "All True Man," "If You Were Here Tonight," "Sunshine" and more. Bobby Z, drummer for Prince and the Revolution, produced and directed the package, with mixes by Z's Grammy winning brother David Z. The package also includes a bonus DVD concert film edited by Z's son, Joseph Rivkin. This is Bobby Z's first project after suffering a near fatal heart attack last February. "It is Alex in top form," said Z. "I am proud of him on this masterpiece!" Says O'Neal, "Thanks to Bobby Z for believing in me. Who would have thought, with Z being from the Prince camp, and me from the Flyte Tyme camp, we would come together and bring this kind of musical beauty."

Larry Carlton will be performing “The Royal Scam” plus select hits with Steely Dan on September 23, 2011 at the Beacon Theatre in New York, NY (2124 Broadway New York, NY 10023). More upcoming shows: Friday, Sept. 30 - Nashville Symphony; Thursday, Oct. 20 - Quebec, Canada; Friday, Oct. 21 - Gravenhurst, Canada; Saturday, Oct. 22 - Niagara Falls, NY; Sunday, Oct. 23 - Norfolk, CT. See for more details.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


A prolific composer, Grammy-winner and founding member of the contemporary jazz supergroup Fourplay, pianist Bob James explores the classically influenced side of his immense musicality on Altair & Vega. A duet project recorded with fellow piano virtuoso Keiko Matsui, it's a modern take on the four-hands piano tradition established in the 18th and 19th centuries by the likes of such classical composers as Haydn, Brahms and Schubert. Named for a Japanese folkloric tale about the seventh day of the seventh month (July 7th - an annual celebration known as Tanabata), Altair and Vega are two stars in the galaxy that pass by each other only once a year. "So this kind of rare meeting of these two fictional characters seemed to be a good title because it also described my eventual hookup with Keiko on this project," says James.
"Originally this story came from China," adds Matsui. "Later it was combined with Japanese tradition. We write one's wish and prayer on origami (Japanese traditional color paper) and hang it from bambondero grass. We decorate bamboo with origami under the sky for an evening.For us, July 7th is a special day with romantic feeling."

The genesis of this four-hands piano project came 12 years ago when James wrote a piece he titled "Altair & Vega" that he envisioned playing with Matsui. "I didn't really know Keiko at that time," he recalls. "I had only met her once backstage at the Hollywood Bowl but I just thought I would send her this piece of music to see if she might be interested in playing it. I always found it a fun challenge to have two people both sitting at the same piano, working out the choreography and how their hands would go back and forth." The two ultimately got together in the studio when Matsui was on tour in the States and they recorded Altair & Vega as a four-hands piece, which was released in 2001 on James' Dancing on the Water (Warner Bros.). Matsui responded by writing a piece for James called "Ever After," which had appeared on her album Whisper from the Mirror. Shortly after, James and Matsui embarked on a tour together of nine Japanese cities, performing four-hands piano adaptations of their original compositions. "And we had a great time doing it," recalls James. "The audiences loved it, but for a variety of contractual reasons and other problems, we never really got to complete an actual CD project of that music."

Last year, the two performed a four-hands duet in Pittsburgh at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild (MCG), which was documented on video. Two days before that, they had performed a concert in James' hometown, Traverse City, Michigan, and later documented the music in James' home studio. A CD/DVD package of those four-hands piano performances is now available on the eOne label. "Most of the music on this project crosses borders," says James. "There are some elements of classical music along with elements of Keiko's and my different influences. So it is partially written and partially improvised."

On Matsui's Frozen Lake, a piece she wrote at the session after taking a walk on Long Lake by James' home studio, James performs on an Avant Grand digital piano, which gives him a kind of Fender Rhodes effect. His Divertimento: The Professor & The Student is a variation on a piece by Haydn that was originally written for piano duet. "He was using it as a method for teaching so he could sit down at the piano and play with students," James explains. "So he would play a phrase and the student would echo it or answer it. And I used that as a jumping off place for me and Keiko. So I play the role of the professor and she plays the part of the student, and those actually became our nicknames during the course of our working together on this project."

Matsui's Midnight Stone and Invisible Wing are previously recorded pieces given a new four-hands treatment here while the lengthy 13-minute suite, The Forever Variations, is a four-hands take on Matsui's popular theme Forever Forever. "That is, for the most part, written," says James. "Although the kind of jazz or funk stuff that happens in the middle is improvised. So there are a couple of places where we take off."

They also turn in an enchanting arrangement of J.S. Bach's Chorale from Cantata BWV 147 which the two had played together on tour in Japan. As Matsui explains, "In 2002, I did a Christmas show in Tokyo and I invited Bob as guest. And he brought this beautiful four-hands arrangement of the Bach piece as Christmas present for me. We performed it for first time at that show. I love this arrangement. So beautiful and cool!"

Adds Matsui, "Bob's arrangements are very unique. Sometimes it's like classical music with lots of written parts and sometimes we have lots of freedom to improvise. So mentally and technically, our mind and body are working hard to nail both worlds."

Regarding the challenges of the four-hands technique, James says, "It's not for everybody because a lot of pianists don't want to give up that control. There's only one sustain pedal, for example. So whoever does the sustain pedal has a lot of power over phrasing and smooth transitions. I think most of us pianists very often use the pedal as a kind of crutch to smooth our way through technical passages that we're either having trouble with or whatever. And if you happen to be the pianist who doesn't have control over the sustain pedal, you better make sure that your technique is really accurate.

"The other thing is, once we get in the middle of the keyboard, fingering becomes very important," he continues. "Because if some of your fingers are sticking out there and getting in the way of your partner, you make it impossible for them to play. So you have to make sure that you avoid those clashes. And you do that by giving up control and becoming a team. So you have to agree about the way you pass the ball back and forth melodically so that the two really become one person on one piano."

James says that Matsui was an ideal partner on this four-hands project. "Keiko was a dream to work with. There was no way for either one of us to know how we would get along that way, but she is very methodical in the way that she approaches the piano and accurate. So I developed a lot of confidence that I know where and when she's going to arrive on a note, and I try to be the same way with her. In fact, we always challenged each other for the end of every performance, one or the other of us would be depressed because we made the most mistakes. And when you have somebody else that you know is going to be really, really accurate, it motivates you to keep trying to get it better and better so that you don't be the one that brings it down."


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