Friday, December 23, 2011


UNE’s musical journey begin in the Jeffrey Projects in Detroit “the motor city,” as one could only imagine would be the birthplace of an R&B singing phenomenon. Encouraged by his mother at an early age to use his God given talent, UNE’ would perform with his brothers and close friends at various venues in Detroit. There the self-taught singer/songwriter UNÉ (pronounced “you nay”) came to be and started developing his natural gift…his voice. chose this name to express his universal, eternal and soulful spirit. UNE’ also has performed in various stage plays in Detroit and in the mid-west area, where he met Ernest Thomas (Raj) television star from the hit TV show “What’s Happening” and “Everybody Hates Chris” (Mr. Omarr). Afterwards, UNE’ moved to the L.A. area to further his music career and teamed up with Ernest Thomas and Carmela C. Martin to form Unet Music & Entertainment, where he completed his self-titled CD UNE’. Which was produced by Sterling G. and co-produced by Carmela C. Martin. And recently, UNE’ formed UneMusic to further develop himself as an independent artist.

My goal is to make music that touches the very soul of a person. To take them on a journey with me, whether it’s traveling the byways of love or the passages of hurt, I want my music to be a spiritual ride we (the listener) both could share in. When you hear UNE’ on his self-titled CD, you experience his heartfelt sound---smooth, strong and at the same time, gentle. As he sings about life’s journeys, you know that he has experienced a myriad of peaks and valleys. His sojourns in romantic relationships give his music a deep resonant texture, as evidenced by his song “I Can Remember.” When you listen to “I Really Love U Love,” “You Complete Me” and “I Won’t Complain”, you will know this singer/songwriter has been there. Cuts like “Lady You Are” and “Hit Da Shaw” emanated from people in his life who were close to him. UNE’s lyrics are tangible, real not fabricated nor written by a detached source.

Like his Motown predecessors, he carries the magnetism that legendary greats such as Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson possess. His sound is divine whether accompanied by instruments or a cappella. The soul of his music stems from bittersweet realities of love, life and the hurt and joy that it can bring.

UNE’ has performed his music at various venues in the U.S. and abroad in Manchester and London, England under Soulchoonz Promotions. And currently UNE’ is performing an acoustic version of his smooth soul/R&B music accompanied by jazz/blue guitarist, Albert John in the L.A. area. At such venues as the “House of Blues” in Hollywood and Busby’s in L.A. under Surge Events Promotions.

One fan commented, “I love your CD and your live performance was even greater! UNE’ touches the heart and spirit of his audience”.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Studies In Bossa is the debut album from Rio-raised, London-based Raf Vilar on the Far Out label. Vilar fits in perfectly with bossa-influenced sounds of Sabrina Malheiros and Clara Moreno. On Studies In Bossa Vilar moves between Portuguese and English vocals through tracks that evoke the great bossa nova, folk and samba of 60s and 70s Brazil whilst incorporating global jazz and electronica. It’s breezy, airy melodies and light arrangements with enough classic bossa craft to stand the test of time! Raf is the nephew of the legendary Ivan Conti, so it's safe to say that he's got this stuff in his blood. The arrangements are mostly laidback, but filled with unfakeable love and passion for easygoing bossa, with some of the best tracks featuring just Raf's vocals and a guitar – but the more arranged numbers with piano, bass, sax and additional percussion are great, too.

Recorded with musician friends in London the relaxed atmosphere allowed Vilar’s beautifully unhurried songs to flourish. Producer and bossa nova enthusiast August Jacobsen, best known as Hunsley & Guz and resident DJ at some of London’s biggest clubs such as Fabric and The Egg, provided the electronic elements especially present in "Solidão," which mixes synthesizers with the accordion. That zestful quirky edge comes out through the album with the sounds of toys, books, keys and coins in the pocket blending perfectly with more traditional instrumentation.

Studies In Bossa draws on many of the singer-songwriter’s influences; as diverse as Jewel and Tom Waits' folk; samba from Noel Rosa; and original bossa nova from João Gilberto and Chico Buarque. Raf’s love of jazz came from his uncle Ivan Conti who is the drummer for Far Out legends' Azymuth, hence his eventual link to the label.

Inspired by a childhood close to the slums of Rio de Janeiro, Raf now lives in a bohemian warehouse in Brick Lane, London. Although in his early 20s the maturity of the song-writing on tracks such as "Então Ve," a pure bossa in which he sings about making the most of life’s opportunities, shines through.

On "Por Um Amor Qualquer," he uses raw samba as a perfect album opener to introduce his sound before taking these studies in bossa through the harmonica-led folk of "So no Ar;" the simple beauty of acoustic guitar and soft vocals on "Perfeito;" and "Amargo Amor," infused with fado from the Portuguese ancestry of Brazil.

With this recording Vilar is unveiled to an international audience. Until now undiscovered, the quality and beauty of these recordings is undoubted: a rare nu-bossa star has arrived.

1. Por Um Amor Qualquer
2. Bossa Me
3. Sem Ter Voce
4. Imaginar Voce
5. Le Com Cre
6. So no Ar
7. Perfeito
8. Entao Ve
9. Eu Sei
10. Amargo Amor
11. Solidao
12. Lullaby


Travelling back to 1960’s Brazil the Viagem series takes its third voyage. Digging further still Brazilophile and Italian jazz don Nicola Conte has re-discovered eighteen choice rarities 1963 - 1970. As the global centre for all that was musically chic, these bossa nova and samba jazz hybrids blend the passion of South America and Africa with the sophisticated style of Europe and North America. Often written to take bossa back to the people and in protest against the dictatorship that took hold in 1964 these long-neglected classics are expertly conjured together by Blue Note and Schema recording artist Conte. Poetic and wildly evocative the mix perfectly mirrors the creator’s laid-back cool and a swinging cosmopolitan Brazil. Nicola Conte’s love and dedication to Brazilian music is astounding. Evident in his own soulful approach to his music Conte has brought to the fore a truly legendary era in jazz and Brazilian music that has until the Viagem series been long forgotten. The selection of so many undiscovered tunes is sure to reignite the flames for many who have been digging for these rarities since their initial popularisation.

According to Nicola Conte…“On Volume three I researched further to find tracks that are even more obscure. With a wider range to the earlier Viagem volumes – including tracks from the early 1960s though to 1970 – the music of Viagem 3 is deeper and uncovers many brilliant unknown artists who recorded EPs, but never full albums. There is of course beautiful bossa nova here with truly great arrangements, but this is not just a compilation of bossa. For a more contemporary feeling I’ve tried to give a view on a different side of Brazilian music by incorporating darker Afro rhythms and very far out melodies and atmospheres currently so popular in the London and Tokyo scenes. This special taste is most impressive on the spiritual and haunting finale by Werther. There is a strong jazz feel to most of the tracks, which hint on the jazz club scene, some playing an important part in the Brazilian jazz story. The instrumentals from Bossa Trio, Wan Trio, Brasil 40 Graus have long been staples of my DJ set and some of my very favourite tracks from the record collection. Dalmo Castello’s track ‘Fora de Hora’ impressed me most with Edu Lobo inspired strings and broken samba. Lobo’s mid-60s sound - influenced by the new bossa sound, elements of northeastern music and socially conscious lyrics - has a strong resonance with many of these recordings as protest songs deeply unpopular with the rising Brazilian military dictatorship. These are fine classics that define this time of great creativity and change. I truly believe that this period was the peak of Brazilian music.”

Nicola Conte Presents Viagem 3 Tracklist:
1. Dalmo Castello - Fora de Hora
2. O Triangulo - Vocé Que Nao Vem
3. Luiz Carlos Sá - Canto Do Quilombo
4. Aizita - Faz De Conta
5. Octons - Tokyo Blues
6. Vera Brasil - Vai Joao
7. Walter Matesco - Mar Amar
8. Marisa Barroso - Sem Fim
9. Marcio Diniz - Mulata Dengosa
10. Carlos Sodre - Samba De Negro
11. Bossa Trio - Tema em Do
12. Kazinho - O Samba Ta Ficando Bom
13. Herique Benny & JT Meirelles - Chegar De Brigar
14. Wan Trio - Selvagem
15. Eliana Pittman - Batucada Negro
16. Claudia - Macumba
17. Brasil 40 Graus - Copa 70
18. Werther - Litoral


World-renowned film composer and musician Terence Blanchard has completed the score for the soundtrack for Lucasfilm’s Red Tails. A high-flying action epic inspired by the heroic exploits of the first all African-American aerial combat unit, The Lucasfilm Ltd. production of Red Tails will launch on January 20, 2012, released by Twentieth Century Fox. Produced by Rick McCallum and Charles Floyd Johnson, the gripping WWII actioner is directed by Anthony Hemingway (“Treme,” “The Wire,” “Battlestar Galactica”). Red Tails stars Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding, Jr., Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard and Emmy Award winner Bryan Lee Cranston. The film addresses racial prejudice, war and showcases the human spirit as it rises above all odds. Produced by Lucasfilm Ltd., Red Tails began development by George Lucas over 20 years ago. Several writers contributed to the script, but ultimately John Ridley completed the screenplay. Producers interviewed surviving original Tuskegee pilots and even gained access to official logbooks from their missions in World War II. The film was shot in Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy and England, and the film score was recorded in Prague as well with an 85 piece orchestra.

Terence Blanchard’s work on Red Tails comes fresh off the heels of his critically acclaimed score for the Broadway play, The Mother****** With The Hat starring Chris Rock. He is currently at work on the music for the Broadway remake of A Streetcar Named Desire and has been commissioned by the Opera St. Louis for a project that will premiere in 2013. As a film composer, Blanchard has more than 50 scores to his credit and received a Golden Globe nomination for Spike Lee's 25th Hour. In 2009, Blanchard loaned his musical voice to Louis the Alligator in The Princess and the Frog. He has completed scores for Lee's Miracle at St. Anna, the soundtrack for Darnell Martin’s Cadillac Records and Guy Moshe’s adventure thriller Bunraku (Demi Moore, Woody Harrelson and Josh Hartnett). Other film music written by Blanchard includes Kasi Lemmons' Eve's Bayou and Talk to Me, Oprah Winfrey's Their Eyes Were Watching God, Tim Story's Barbershop and Ron Shelton's Dark Blue.

Blanchard’s music was also recently seen in Spike Lee/HBO’s If God’s Willing And The Creek Don’t Rise, commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina disaster and the sequel to the critically-acclaimed 2006 film, “When The Levees Broke.” The film shows the current state of Blanchard’s native New Orleans five years after Hurricane Katrina, and follows the lives of several individuals and their families in the aftermath of one of the worst disasters to occur in U.S. history. Blanchard won a Grammy for his 2007 CD “A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina),” which included tracks from Levees.

Terence Blanchard has established himself as one of the most influential jazz musicians and film score masters of his generation, a member of a jazz legacy that has shaped the contours of modern jazz today. With more than 29 CD’s to his credit, Blanchard is a four-time Grammy Award winner and has received multiple Grammy nominations as well as a Golden Globe nod. His latest CD, “Choices,” was released by Concord Jazz in 2009 to widespread critical acclaim. Recorded in New Orleans at the Ogden Museum Of Art -- itself a survivor of Hurricane Katrina -- “Choices” addresses the choices we all make in life – both as a society and on a personal level. Guest artists on “Choices” include writer, speaker, educator and activist Dr. Cornel West and singer, musician and composer Bilal. West performs spoken word pieces on the album with Bilal providing vocals on several of the tracks.


Quintin Gerard W. is blazing the trail and catapulting Urban/Smooth/Contemporary Jazz music into a future of substance, strength, and popular appeal! Before It’s Gone, the newest CD project for Quintin Gerard W. is an amazing collecting of melodic moods, with funky beats and satisfying sensual grooves! It starts with a funky, sweet, soulfully atmospheric soprano groove, and then eases into a hypnotically trippy chill mode, complete with cool ambiance, spacey sound effects and clever sax/flute harmonizing! Quintin also sprinkles in a lovely and soothing female voice for flavor, while never losing his dynamic sax improvisations. This CD also keeps the mood upbeat, lighthearted and he even throws in a bit of high-energy 90s house music! Before It’s Gone also taps into Quintin’s love of gospel and adds graceful flute touches. Quintin proves he is a true multi-instrumentalist as he handles some of the album’s keyboards himself. However, he emphasizes that he “plays keyboards and piano as a songwriter and producer only,” and he delivers with an incredible collection of tunes that are full of rich, powerful vibes that proves this music is

Before It's Gone Tracklist:
1. Sweet Ladies 4:35
2. Our Day Will Come 5:29
3. Like This Like That 4:15
4. When Things Don't Go So Well 6:52
5. Before It's Gone 5:22
6. Night Time Pleasure 1:39
7. The Asymptote 4:11
8. Foster's Child 4:15
9. Be Happy People 4:06
10. Words Can't Explain 4:47
11. Buy That Ring 5:20
12. Nevada Nights 5:45
13. Test My Love Again 4:54

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Gina Carey
Soul singer Gina Carey is ready to take the music industry by storm once again as she prepares to drop her 6th CD release Love Letters on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2012. Love Letters includes 10 songs all well written, arranged, composed and produced by Gina Carey. Love Letters is a combination of Soul, R&B, funk and & smooth jazz. Her husband Soul /Jazz Guitarist John Carey has also dazzled this CD with his guitar licks. “This project is going to be my best work ever!” Quotes Gina Carey. “This is the first album that I have ever had complete creative control over. Now, those who enjoy my music will finally get the chance to hear the Gina Carey. Gina deems her husband as her greatest inspiration for these incredible Love songs. My mission is to ignite to world to love again.”

Gina’s last CD Melodic soared all the way up the #1 spot on the UK Soul charts. She shared the Top 30 charts will soul divas Jill Scott, India Aire and Aretha Franklin. Melodic was also named one of the Top Soul Albums of the year in the November/December 2011 issue of “Soul Brother Records,” one of the largest Records stores still standing in the UK. Gina anticipates the same if not more success from her new upcoming Valentines gift Love Letters.

John Carey

However, Gina Carey is not the only one in the Carey household that’s making noise in 2012. Her husband and tour partner “The Urban Soul Guitarist” John Carey is about to pluck his strings yet another time with his new upcoming 5th CD release Smooth and Funky. Smooth and Funky will be available on March 1, 2012. John’s eclectic rhythmic style continues to fascinate listeners worldwide as he includes a verity of 80’s Soul, Latin and Smooth Jazz tunes. All songs were perfectly written, composed, arranged and produced by non other than John Carey himself. John produced Gina Carey last CD Melodic. Modest vocal contribution from his wife Gina Carey can also be heard on John’s CD.

John Carey quotes, “Although I love to play smooth jazz music, I also enjoy playing many other styles of music as well. Smooth Jazz, Soul , Blues, Hendrix and Santana. I don’t want to be in a box known as only a smooth Jazz Guitarist, I want to be known a as a guitarist who plays good music. I want to give my listeners the very best of me." John’s last CD New Beginnings soared all the way up the #8 spot on the UK Soul charts and was recently named one of the Top Smooth Jazz Albums of the year 2011 along with Smooth Jazz Guitarist Nick Colionne in the November/December 2011 issue of “Soul Brother Records.” Just like his wife Gina, John is excited and is looking forward to exceeding to success of New Beginnings with his new upcoming CD Smooth and Funky.


The buoyant grooves and graceful melodies heard on the forthcoming CD The Desired Effect serve to introduce a fresh new voice in jazz—Tom Wetmore, whose Crosstown Records will release the pianist/composer’s exceptional debut, The Desired Effect, on January 17. The 29-year-old Massachusetts native has been active on the New York scene since 2005, leading his own traditional jazz trio as well as his eclectic sextet. He’s also performed and/or recorded with Clark Terry, Slide Hampton, T.K. Blue, Bernard Purdie, and the fine contemporary players showcased on his new disc.

Its nine tracks feature a uniquely voiced frontline of alto saxophone and two lead guitars, with Wetmore playing electric Rhodes piano throughout, utilizing time signatures that shift frequently within each composition. “It’s really two lead guitars,” he says of the frontline. “There’s no rhythm guitar. When I compose I think of the guitars and sax as contrapuntal voices, and it really allows for some interesting explorations.” The nucleus of Wetmore’s sextet began forming during his graduate studies at William Paterson University, where he earned a master’s degree in Jazz Performance in 2007. He’s joined on The Desired Effect by alternating alto saxophonists Jaleel Shaw and Eric Neveloff, guitarists Brad Williams and Justin Sabaj, electric bassist Michael League, and drummer Garrett Brown. The CD title was inspired by a line from the song “P. Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)” from Parliament’s Mothership Connection (1975): “The desired effect is what you get when you improve your interplanetary funksmanship.”

“It’s my odd little way of saying that this music isn’t about having a story, or meaning, or any type of grand idea,” explains the pianist. “It’s about the desired effect—which stands in for all the different kinds of beauty people could find.” Or as Wetmore writes in his liner notes: “This music is about being true—or, at the very least, striving to be true. It is about beauty, about being touched. When you allow yourself to be touched, The Desired Effect is what you get.”

As a teenage piano student, Wetmore was introduced to the music of Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, and within months had landed a regular gig playing jazz standards at a local café. He went on to study physics and government at Cornell University, but before completing his undergrad work he took a semester off to study in Boston with legendary pianist and composer Ran Blake. “I’ve never really encountered anybody who has worked out a way to truly transcend style like Ran,” he says of studying with Blake. “I learned how to be true to improvising. Every note really comes from inside you, not from a pattern or a lick or from a solo you transcribed.”

Currently, Wetmore keeps a disciplined regimen of writing at least one new composition each day and posts the scores on In a “very natural next step for me,” he intends to pursue doctoral studies in jazz performance in the near future. “I prize myself as an instinctual natural performer and composer,” he says, “but I also believe in contributing to scholarship. I think that working toward a Ph.D. would create a solid balance between performance and scholarly pursuit, which would allow me to become a better jazz musician overall.”

Upcoming CD release shows for The Desired Effect include the Tea Lounge in Brooklyn, 1/19, and Somethin’ Jazz Club in Manhattan, 2/4. Wetmore will be playing electric piano, with guitarists Brad Williams and Justin Sabaj; bassist Matt Turowski, and drummer Garrett Brown. Alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw is set to appear at the Tea Lounge show, Eric Neveloff at Somethin’ Jazz.


The 70th birthday of Queen Of Soul Aretha Franklin, winner of 15 Grammy Awards® and the first female ever to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, will be celebrated on March 25, 2012. In honor of this momentous occasion, and also in advance of Black History Month in February, Knew You Were Waiting: The Best Of Aretha Franklin 1980-1998 will be available on January 31, 2012. Knew You Were Waiting puts the spotlight on Aretha's hitmaking years as an Arista Records artist, working closely with Arista founder and president Clive Davis. Davis served as executive producer of Knew You Were Waiting, which was compiled and produced by Leo Sacks, known for his work on last year's definitive box set, Take A Look: Aretha Franklin Complete on Columbia, as well as scores of historic Soul and R&B projects for Legacy Recordings over the past two decades.

The new chronologically-sequenced, 16-song collection is the first major U.S. release to focus on the nearly two-decades string of hits that marked Aretha's tenure at Arista. These range from her label debut, 1980's #3 comeback R&B smash "United Together" (her first Top 5 hit in over three and a half years), to 1998's iconic #5 R&B entry, "A Rose Is Still A Rose," written, produced and arranged by Lauryn Hill of the Fugees.
"When Aretha Franklin signed to Arista Records in 1980," writes Ernest Hardy in his liner notes to Knew You Were Waiting, "she had nothing left to prove… She had redefined the terms and reset the boundaries of both R&B and pop. She had sung jazz, gospel and blues, and erased the lines between them. She embodied the beauty that was Blackness while providing a soundtrack to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. She had worked with the very best songwriters, musicians, producers, arrangers and visionaries, and proved herself to be one of the best singers, songwriters, musicians and visionaries the music industry had ever seen." Hardy is an award-winning cultural critic and essayist based in Los Angeles.

Underscoring Hardy's point, Aretha's Arista years were indeed marked by a steady flow of successful collaborations with contemporary music's "very best songwriters, musicians, producers, arrangers and visionaries." Virtually every track on Knew You Were Waiting supports this, starting with "United Together," which was written and produced by Chuck Jackson (known for his career-making hits with Natalie Cole), and features Aretha's beloved Sweet Inspirations on backing vocals (the 'original' lineup of Cissy Houston, Myrna Smith, Sylvia Shenwell and Estelle Brown). Likewise, "Love All The Hurt Away," a duet with George Benson, was written by Sam Dees, and produced by the late Arif Mardin, the legendary producer who worked on so many of Aretha's early breakthrough '60s and '70s Atlantic LPs.

Lauryn Hill, Arif Mardin and Chuck Jackson are just three of the important producers with whom Aretha worked at Arista. In addition to tracks produced by Luther Vandross (with arrangements by Marcus Miller), Narada Michael Walden, and Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds, Knew You Were Waiting also includes tracks produced by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics.

In addition to the collaborations above, Knew You Were Waiting contains many more A-list collaborations that have become cornerstones in the Aretha canon:

•"Freeway Of Love" (1985), featuring the late Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band on tenor saxophone, Randy Jackson on bass, and percussion by the Santana rhythm section, was a #1 R&B hit for 5 weeks, and went on to win the Grammy Award® for Best R&B Female Vocal;

•"Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves" (1985), a Top 20 pop hit with the Eurythmics' Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart (who produced), also features [Tom Petty] Heartbreakers band members Benmont Tench (organ), Stan Lynch (drums), and Mike Campbell (lead guitar);

•"Jumpin' Jack Flash" (1986), a Top 20 R&B and pop crossover smash duet with Keith Richards (who produced and played lead guitar, along with fellow Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood), was the title song from the movie Jumpin' Jack Flash starring Whoopi Goldberg;

•"I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" (1986), a duet with George Michael, was another mega-hit, #1 pop for a fortnight and #5 R&B, and winner of the Grammy Award® for Best R&B Vocal Duo;

•"Through The Storm" (1989), a Top 20 R&B and pop crossover hit vocal duet with Elton John, is one of two Albert Hammond/Diane Warren compositions (among many!) that were brought to Aretha by Clive Davis;

•"It Isn't, It Wasn't, It Ain't Never Gonna Be" (1989), a #5 R&B hit duet with Whitney Houston, is the other Hammond/Warren composition here, from the same album (Through The Storm); and

•"Ever Changing Times" (1991), a Top 20 R&B hit vocal duet with Michael McDonald, written and produced by the hitmaking duo of Burt Bacharach and Carol Bayer Sager, in a mix previously unreleased on CD.

Knew You Were Waiting as Hardy concludes, "makes clear that Aretha Franklin was a vibrant, soulful, stretching, creative, forceful artist at Arista Records. She kept her fingers on the pulse of the world around her while sating old fans and scoring new ones. Her music at the label was about a place that exists behind and beyond mere words... No one expresses joy the way she does. No one conveys grief or loss with anywhere near her force or heartbreaking precision. She burns right through the words she sings, taking you straight to the core. That is her unmatched genius."

Knew You Were Waiting: The Best Of Aretha Franklin 1980-1998
1. United Together (from Aretha, 1980)
2. Love All The Hurt Away - duet w/George Benson(from Love All The Hurt Away, 1981)
3. Jump To It (from Jump To It, 1982)
4. Get It Right (from Get It Right, 1983)
5. Freeway Of Love (from Who's Zoomin' Who?, 1985)
6. Who's Zoomin' Who (from Who's Zoomin' Who?, 1985)
7. Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves - duet w/The Eurythmics (from Who's Zoomin' Who?, 1985)
8. Another Night (Who's Zoomin' Who?, 1985) 
9. Jumpin' Jack Flash (from Aretha, 1986)
10. Jimmy Lee (from Aretha, 1986) 
11. I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) - duet w/George Michael (from Aretha, 1986) 
12. Through The Storm  - duet w/Elton John (from Through The Storm, 1989) 
13. It Isn't, It Wasn't, It Ain't Never Gonna Be - duet w/Whitney Houston (from Through The Storm, 1989) 
14. Ever Changing Times - duet w/Michael McDonald (from What You See Is What You Sweat, 1991) 
15. Willing To Forgive (from Greatest Hits (1980-1994), 1994)
16. A Rose Is Still A Rose (from A Rose Is Still A Rose, 1998)

Monday, December 19, 2011

CESARIA EVORA: 1941-2011

Cesaria Evora's death was announced by her managers. She had a stroke in 2008 and a heart attack in 2010. After another stroke this year, she announced her retirement.

Évora’s music was in a style called morna, which is sung in taverns on the Cape Verde islands: slow, pensive ballads with an underlying lilt, suffused with sodade, the Cape Verdean creole term for a nostalgic longing that pervades music across Portugal (where the word is saudade) and its former empire.

Évora was born on 27 August 1941 in Mindelo, Sao Vicente, Cape Verde. When she was seven years old her father died, and at age ten she was placed in an orphanage, as her mother could not raise all six children. In the 1960s, she started singing on Portuguese cruise ships stopping at Mindelo as well as on the local radio. It was only in 1985 when at the invitation of Cape Verdean singer Bana she went to perform in Portugal. In 1988 a Cape Verdean producer based in France, José da Silva, brought Ms. Évora to Paris to make an album. She sang about love, sorrow and history, including slavery, in a husky, dignified, unhurried contralto that brought warmth and gravity to songs by Cape Verde’s leading poets. She also sang in her country’s more upbeat styles, coladeira and funaná, but her serenely sorrowful mornas were her legacy. She always performed barefoot, a gesture of solidarity with poor women. A concert review in The New York Times described her as “a Yoda of melancholy” onstage.

Évora's international success came only in 1988 with the release of her first studio album La Dive Aux Pieds Nus recorded in France, which fused morna and coladeira with Caribbean, Brazilian and European pop.  Évora drew a following among Cape Verdean expatriates in Europe, but it was not until she returned to unembellished morna with her third album, Mar Azúl — a 1991 collection recorded with acoustic instruments — that her music began to reach a broader audience. Her 1992 album Miss Perfumado sold over 300,000 copies worldwide. Her 1995 album Cesaria brought her broader international success and the first Grammy Award nomination. In 1997, she won the KORA All African Music Awards in three categories: Best Artist of West Africa, Best Album and Merit of the Jury. In 2004, her album Voz d’Amour was awarded a Grammy in the world music category.

Évora toured the world through the 1990s and 2000s, expanding her repertory with Cuban and Brazilian songs on Café Atlántico in 1999, and collaborating with Bonnie Raitt, Caetano Veloso and the Cuban musicians Chucho Valdés and the Orquesta Aragón on her 2001 album São Vicente di Longe. Her final studio album, Nha Sentimento in 2009, introduced tinges of Arabic pop to her music from the Egyptian composer and arranger Fathy Salama.

When Évora announced her retirement this year, she told the French newspaper Le Monde: “I have no strength, no energy. I’m sorry, but now I must rest.” She died on December 17th at the age of 70, and is survived by her children, Eduardo and Fernanda, and two grandchildren. The government in Cape Verde declared two days of national mourning in her honor.


William Johnson has returned with his new Latin jazz & world fusion project Flor de Vida, and explores the textures of jazz, world music, rock, and contemporary with percussion leading the charge. Flor de Vida is a spirit and rhythm filled album that combines the strength of Grammy award winning musicians along with several internationally accomplished musicians from all over the world.

Having spent nearly eight years in the Air Force, William Johnson traveled extensively across the globe and developed a love for diverse forms of music. Drawing upon his Latin heritage, and being inspired by such musicians as Sheila E., William began to study the congas and bongos. This passion for global cultures, people, and music led him to study African, Middle Eastern, and classical forms of Indian music. William has studied classical tabla (small kettle drums from India) under Nikhil Tikkekar from Mumbai, India. In 2009 William started a percussion instruction podcast that has grown to reach thousands across the globe. The Heartbeat for Worship was established in 2007 and since has grown to receive notable press and attention from all over the world including Grammy award winning artists.

In 2009 William released his first solo project Freedom... Joybeat, a meditation album centered around world percussion. The Heartbeat for Worship DVD was recorded & released in 2010. It is a two hour DVD recorded in high definition and stereo surround sound, featuring seven drummers, violin, guitar, vocals, keys, and intense worship. Currently William is working on a film documentary of the Heartbeat for Worship including interviews and performances by world class drummers Luis Conte, Lou Santiago Jr., Al Sergel (of Key of David/ Jason Upton, and more), and more.


Cleveland is about to get a new radio station soon as a Rubber City Radio has begun the process of restoring “107.3 The Wave.” The station’s new website at is up and teasing a “Smooth Jazz Christmas” and ‘Smooth AC Coming Soon,” The station has dropped the remnants of the Album Adult Alternative format and has begin stunting with Smooth Christmas music before actually launching its brand new format on Wednesday, January 4. It was back in October that WNWV owner Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting Co. announced plans to sell the station to the Akron, Ohio based Rubber City Radio Group, Inc.for $6.5 million. The deal was completed that December 16 at 5:00 p.m., with Rubber City Radio Group formally announcing a return to the station's prior "Wave" name[ but with an updated smooth adult contemporary format on January 4, 2012 (in a music style similar to San Diego outlet KIFM). The station serves the Cleveland radio market and much of surrounding Northeast Ohio.

For a bit of history…it was back in December 2009, that it was announced that "The Wave" would be changing formats after 22 years of bringing smooth jazz to Northeast Ohio. WNWV switched to an adult album alternative format featuring a mix of alternative and classic rock. The station at the time cited the nationwide downturn for the smooth jazz format as the reason for the change, despite "The Wave" being a perennially strong ratings performer in Cleveland. Now it appears that the station is comfortable in adopting the smooth jazz/smooth adult contemporary format, which features a hybrid of smooth jazz instrumentals (30%)with adult contemporary vocals (70%). In other words, a smooth jazz format with less smooth jazz thrown in.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Grammy Award nominated pop singer Maxi Priest released a new reggae single, titled Fly High. The song, a romantic R&B-flavored love serenade, is currently featured within the iTunes Top 200 Reggae Singles Chart, stemming from brisk digital sales of the song from Kemar 'Flava' McGregor's Cool and Deadly Riddim album, released November 1, on iTunes. Maxi Priest's Fly High is the second single released from the Cool and Deadly Riddim album, which currently is ranked among the top 100 reggae albums downloaded from iTunes.

Maxi Priest is one of the most successful reggae/fusion artists of all time. He was nominated for the "Best Reggae Album" category at the 1994 Grammy Awards for his sixth album, Fe Real (1992). His seventh album, The Man With The Fun (1996) was nominated for "Best Reggae Album" at the 1997 Grammy Awards. His fourth album, Bonafide (1990), was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, from which the hit single, "Close To You," was ranked number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and number two on the Billboard R&B chart.

Other top-selling artistes featured on Cool and Deadly Riddim include: Grammy Award-winner Buju Banton; Jamaican reggae celebrities Marcia Griffiths and Ce'Cile as well as Canadian reggae phenom Tony Anthony. Also featured on the project are British Lovers Rock legends Janet Kay, Carroll Thompson and Peter Hunnigale. American reggae luminaries Sanchez, Sadiki, Jovi Rockwell, Kashief Lindo and Nikesha Lindo as well as rising British reggae sensations Adele Harley and Lady Lex also have tracks on the project.


Chucho Valdés is one of Cuba's most famous pianists, bandleaders, composers and arrangers. Perhaps best known for founding the famous Latin jazz band Irakere in 1972, Chucho's illustrious career has also garnered him 6 Grammy wins and 16 nominations over the past three decades. His most recent win, a 2009 Latin Grammy for the record Juntos para Siempre, saw him collaborate with his father, Bebo Valdés, a major player on the Cuban jazz scene in his own right. Chucho Valdés has recorded over 80 CDs and performed with everybody who is anybody in the world of jazz; from Herbie Hancock and Dizzy Gillespie, to Wynton Marsalis and Chick Corea. His reputation as one of the greatest living Cuban jazz pianists has earned him appearances on the great stages in music, including Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center and The Hollywood Bowl.

Chucho Valdés will embark on a U.S. tour with the Afro-Cuban Messengers in January and February, featuring performances from his Grammy-winning album, Chucho’s Steps. Dates are below.

January 20 - McCarter Theatre Princeton, NJ
January 22 - Prudential Hall Newark, NJ
January 24 - American Theatre Hampton, VA
January 26 - Merriam Theater Philadelphia, PA
January 27-28 - Jorgensen Auditorium Storrs, CT
January 29 - Staller Center for The Arts Stony Brook, NY
January 31 - Eisenhower Auditorium University Park, PA
February 1 - Camp Concert Hall Richmond, VA
February 3 - Center for the Arts Concert Hall Fairfax, VA
February 4 - Fairfield University’s Quick Center Fairfield, CT
February 7 - Music Hall Center for Performing Arts Detroit, MI
February 8 - Gartner Auditorium Cleveland, OH
February 10 - The Englert Theatre Iowa City, IA
February 11 - Sheldon Concert Hall St. Louis, MO
February 12 - Missouri Theatre Columbia, MO
February 14 - Gates Concert Hall Denver, CO
February 16 - Walt Disney Concert Hall Los Angeles, CA
February 18 - Barbara K. and W. Turrentine Jackson Hall Davis, CA
February 19 - Dinkelspiel Auditorium Stanford, CA 
February 20 - Herbst Theatre San Francisco, CA


Raymond Donnez emerged in the late 1960s as an arranger and musical director for the likes of Françoise Hardy and Serge Gainsbourg, but he became the engineer of the unique French disco sound of the late 70s when he arranged the milestone disco record Love in C Minor by Cerrone and Alec R. Costandinos. Both producers would use the skills of Donnez - or Don Ray as his artist name was - on numerous records the following years. Having just conducted the French 1977 Eurovision Song Contest victory Marie Myriam's"L'oiseau et l'enfant", he also arranged French disco sensation Santa Esmeralda's million-selling debut album Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood.

Cerrone produced Don Ray's one and only solo album, The Garden Of Love. Although all the vocals were done by session singers, Don Ray co-wrote all the songs with Cerrone. One of the coolest club projects of the 70s – a set of tracks based around the keyboards of Don Ray, but handled with lots of electronic disco touches from Cerrone! The pair are great arrangers on their own, but together they really make some magic – kind of a leaner take on the extended Cerrone groove – honed to a "t" in the studio, and sometimes given a nice punch with chorus vocals too. The tracks are shorter than you'd normally get from Cerrone, but still filled with all those freewheeling clubby grooves – warmly soulful undercurrents that make a great platform for the more electronic keyboards – never too cold at all, and a fair bit more personal than the sorts of keys we're used to hearing from the European scene.

"Got To Have Loving" and "Standing In The Rain" went on to become huge club hits. The album was only followed by a 1980 release, the single "Simplify / Stop Your Runnin'", before Don Ray withdrew behind the scene again. He co-wrote and arranged more Cerrone albums 1980-83, and also arranged the 1982 musical "Abbacadabra" with Frida and Daniel Balavoine a.o. Mainly working with French chanson singers, he revisited his glory disco days as a co-writer and arranger of Cerrone's 2002 comeback album Hysteria which included a re-make of his 1978 disco hit, "Got To Have Loving", this time featuring Nile Rodgers on rhythm guitar. Song titles include "Garden Of Love", "My Desire", "Body & Soul", "Got To Have Loving", and "Standing In The Rain".


A great balance between piano trio energy and larger group musings – a set that features the core combo of pianist Paolo DiSabatino on all tracks, but also adds in some great reeds and trumpet on others, too! DiSabatino's work on the keys would be more than enough to draw us in – warm, lyrical, and plenty darn soulful – gliding with this graceful approach to the music that's really wonderful – filled with life and joy, and always with a fresh, personal quality that set's the record apart from others of its nature. But throw in the horns, and things really start to take off – tenor from Gianni DiBenedetto, trumpet from Andrea Sabatino, and soprano and baritone from Javier Girotto – working together in tight formation on the heads, then stretching out with their own inflections to really broaden the sound of the record. Trio members include Glauco DiSabatino on drums, Marco Siniscalo on bass, and a horn section consisting of Javier Girotto. Among the best songs songs here are breezy "Shadows" , a convincing "The Nearness of You", the beautiful orchestration of "Giant Steps" from Coltrane, and the delicate melody of "Wendy" by Paul Desmond.

1. Calypso (P. Di Sabatino)
2. Piccolino / Lullaby for Louis (P. Di Sabatino)
3. Night And Day (C. Porter)
4. Shadows (P. Di Sabatino)
5. The Nearness Of You (H. Carmichael-N. Washington)
6. Floating (P. Di Sabatino)
7. Giant Steps (J. Coltrane)
8. Wendy (P. Desmond)
9. South of the Moon (P. Di Sabatino)
10. Pick yourself up (J. Kern-D. Fields)

Paolo Di Sabatino - piano
Marco Siniscalco - bass
Glauco Di Sabatino - drums
Javier Girotto - soprano sax and baritone
Andrew Sabatino - trumpet and flugelhorn
Gianni Di Benedetto - tenor sax

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Jean-Michel Pilc, François Moutin, and Ari Hoenig, reunited this year under the collective name, Pilc Moutin Hoenig to record a much anticipated comeback project and to re-launch their touring career as a trio. Recorded in a completely improvised stream of single studio takes,Threedom documents the unique trio’s singular and completely unpredictable synchronicity. An enhanced CD, the disc also includes an exclusive video - shot live in the studio - which vividly reveals the method to their improvisational madness.

“Albert Einstein once said, 'Behind anything that can be experienced, there is something that our minds cannot grasp whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly.' This is exactly the way I feel about this trio,” explains pianist Jean-Michel Pilc, “François, Ari, and I have no choice but to surrender to that 'something' and let it create a brand new piece of music every time we play together.”

“We approached this record much like a family reunion,” reveals Hoenig, in his artist notes for the project. “Threedom incorporates new ideas as if to say, ‘this is what I’ve been up to since the last time we hung out.”
Moutin summarizes the 'PMH effect' this way: “Each time Ari, Jean-Michel, and I play together, I experience the feeling of being one cell of some utterly unpredictable, although beautifully coherent, living musical creature. This beast' s psyche escapes any of our individual control. It boosts our group's creativity by immersing all of us into a common landscape of emotions.”

Since their explosive touring days as The Jean-Michel Pilc Trio, each group member has grown considerably in stature both as leaders and sidemen. Pilc permanently moved to New York City in 1994, continuing his steady rise as a major pianist on the European and Canadian circuits, while also gaining a reputation in America as one of the most exciting and unpredictable pianist/composers in jazz. This is the second Motéma release for the pianist, who's March solo release, Essential has been hailed by the Washington Post as a “musical genius at work” and by the New York City Jazz Record as “…easily one of the pianist’s best recordings.”

Bassist François Moutin has since applied his lush tone, astonishing virtuosity, and intelligent musicality in a host of settings, most notably as co-leader of The Moutin Reunion Quartet, a group which has successfully toured Europe and the United States to much acclaim in recent years. A popular artist on the scene, Moutin was voted onto both the Bassist and Rising Star Bassist shortlists in this year's Downbeat Critics Poll.

The skilled and iconoclastic Ari Hoenig, self-defined as a ‘punk-jazz’ artist’, has made several solo records in the ensuing years, and is often in the press for his intense musical antics both as a leader and sideman. The importance of his artistic presence in New York City was recently profiled in Time Out New York's cover feature: The 25 Essential New York City Jazz Icons of 2011.

Throughout the years, Pilc, Moutin, and Hoenig have continued to play together as a live act now and then, but Threedom is their first new recording together since 2003's Welcome Home, and represents the official regrouping of the trio as a touring act. Armed with intense virtuosity, a highly unconventional musical sensibility, and their signature fearless commitment to creating in the moment, the trio is thrilled to be back together and well primed to hit the road.

Of the 18 tracks on Threedom, half are standards and the rest are improvisations ‘composed’ by the group in one take in the studio. The standards take on myriad new forms as the group reinterprets these familiar melodies through their seemingly impossible musical intimacy. Their music simultaneously radiates the confidence of three men who have played together for almost 13 years, while also retaining an unpredictable freshness that one might expect more from a first time meeting of masters in the studio.

Pilc Moutin Hoenig bring a welcome dose of magic to their jazz interpretations and typically elicit standing ovations at their concerts. Of their recent 2011 Montreal Jazzfest date, the Ottawa Citizen confirms, “the trio kept the audience and each other riveted with intense, uninhibited, continually surprising music."


Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, is bringing the box set experience to music lovers of all ages and tastes this holiday season with the release of incredible value-packed career-spanning collections available in both the physical and digital realms at special holiday-only prices. SME/Legacy, the world's foremost catalog music label, has long pioneered and championed the box set concept with Grammy Award-winning releases and ongoing popular and critical successes. Whether a simple collection of career-encompassing album titles or a specifically curated selection of tracks, the box set offers listeners a chance to evaluate the depth and complexity of an artist's output, presenting an experience which amplifies and extends the thrill and immediacy of the latest single. For artists who've created a lasting body of work, a well-designed box set is an invaluable experience, for old and new fans alike.

This holiday season, SME/Legacy is bringing the box set to the digital realm with THE COLLECTION available on the iTunes Store, a "multi-disc" one-click digital bundle of albums presenting an artist's album catalog at an incredible holiday-only price. Artists in THE COLLECTION include Alicia Keys (5 titles), Billy Joel (15 titles), Brad Paisley (9 titles), Britney Spears (7 titles), Chevelle (4 titles), Christina Aguilera (6 titles) , Foo Fighters (7 titles), Incubus (6 titles), John Mayer (5 titles), Kings Of Leon (5 titles), Leonard Cohen (11 titles), Sarah McLachlan (8 titles) and Three Days Grace (3 titles).

THE COLLECTION series will include iTunes LPs containing the original artwork and liner notes for each album. Offering new value and convenience to the box set experience, THE COLLECTION will be available online on iTunes beginning Tuesday, December 13. In addition to THE COLLECTION digital offerings, Legacy Recordings and Sony Music Entertainment is offering great holiday music values in the physical realm with box sets from the world's most iconic and enduring artists. As digital technology helps restore and archive larger portions of the catalogs of Sony Music's artists, it becomes possible to release rare and previously unreleased material from long-established artists.

Here's a listing of this season's most luxurious must-have box sets from SME/Legacy:

Tony Bennett - The Complete Collection chronicles the entire career of the great American pop vocalist as documented in the albums and singles he's made for Columbia Records (beginning in 1952 through the present), as well as his recordings for Roulette (an historic encounter with Count Basie and Orchestra in 1959), MGM (1972-73), Improv (Bennett's own label from 1973-76) and Fantasy (a pair of sublime titles with pianist Bill Evans, released in 1975-76) on 73 CDs and 3 DVDs.

Elvis Presley - Young Man with the Big Beat - The Complete '56 Elvis Presley Recordings is a super deluxe 5-CD, 12-inch square box set (with an amazing 80-page book with timeline) focusing on Elvis's studio recordings, from hits to outtakes, alongside live performances and interviews from 1956, the year Elvis (and Rock itself) broke into the pop mainstream. The collection was recently nominated for the year's Best Historical Album Grammy Award.

Jimi Hendrix - Live at Winterland, a four-disc set drawn from six stellar shows recorded over three days (October 10, 11 and 12, 1968) at San Francisco's historic Winterland Ballroom. "Hendrix was a casual slash-and-burn bluesman, a shredder, a gunner, a riffer, a slinger of elevated sustained lines, a feedback screamer and a rhythm guitarist whose chords sang on their own," wrote Jon Pareles in The New York Times 2011 holiday box set round-up. "These are prime performances, spontaneous and searing."

Miles Davis Quintet - Live In Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1, a 3 CD + DVD set culled from original state-owned television and radio sources in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, and Sweden, spanning five northern European festival performances over the course of nine days in October-November 1967. The audio shows consist entirely of previously unreleased or previously only bootlegged material.

Phil Spector Presents The Philles Album Collection, a 7 CD box set representing the most expansive collection ever to celebrate Phil Spector's Wall Of Sound productions, "Tomorrow's Sound Today." Released in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Philles Records label (1961-2011), this new box set eclipses all previous collections in its scope, gathering in mini-replica LP sleeves the first six original Philles albums from 1962-1964 (five by the Crystals, the Ronettes, and Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, plus the timeless Today's Hits), and a brand-new CD of Spector's never-before-collected instrumental B-sides. Legacy Recordings has also released The Essential Phil Spector, a brand-new 35-song, double-CD collection gathering Spector's game-changing recordings from his peak hit-making years from the Teddy Bears' "To Know Him Is to Love Him" through the litany of 23 hits on the Philles label.

Other SME/Legacy Recordings Box Sets for 2011 include:
WYNTON MARSALIS - Swinging Into The 21st - 11-Disc set / Price: $ 79.99
Available at and

LEONARD COHEN - The Complete Columbia Albums Collection
17-Disc set / Price: $ 139.99
Available Exclusively at

ALICIA KEYS - Songs In A Minor: 10th Anniversary Edition
2-CD, 1-DVD set / Price: $29.99

ROBERT JOHNSON - The Complete Original Masters: Centennial Edition
12-Vinyl, 4-CD, 1-DVD + book / Price: $349.00

ARETHA FRANKLIN - Take A Look: Aretha Franklin Complete on Columbia
11-CD, 1-DVD set / Price: $129.99

GEORGE MICHAEL - Faith: Deluxe Edition
2-CD, 1-LP, 1-DVD set / Price: $173.92 (Amazon)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


A pair of overlooked gems from Smokey Robinson – the 6th chapter in his great solo career for Motown! Warm Thoughts is first, and has equally warm vocals – thanks to the legendary Smokey Robinson, who's still sounding great here at the start of the 80s! The record's surprisingly charming – and has the laidback, mellow-going sort of sound that Robinson first crafted on Quiet Storm – but delivered here with a style that's even more personal and intimate, too. Things are quite stripped-down, especially given the overblown styles other singers were reaching for at the time – and titles include "Let Me Be The Clock", "Into Each Rain Some Life Must Fall", 'Wine, Women & Song", 'What's In Your Life For Me", and "I Want To Be Your Love". Being With You is a great vehicle for the Smokey Robinson sound in the 80s – and a record that helped Smokey kick off the decade with a really massive hit! "Being With You" still let Smokey stay in an older style of soul-based vocals, without slipping into the adult contemporary sound that would hurt so many other artists of the time – and most of the record has Smokey still stepping around some mellow grooves arranged by Sonny Burke, of the sort that let his sweetly cracking voice come to the forefront. Titles include "Being With You", "You Are Forever", "Can't Fight Love", "As You Do", "If You Wanna Make Love", "Food For Thought", and "Who's Sad".  Source: Dusty Groove America


Dave McMurray is an amazing musician who is known by his previous diverse albums - Piece If Mind,  Soul Searching, Area Reservada 2, and The David McMurray Show. Others will remember his collaboration with the group Mirror-Mirror (Sax, Beats and Meditations") or in an earlier time with the group Was (Not Was). He also played with such great artists as for example Gerald Alston ("First Class Only"), Mark Isham, The B-52's ("Good Stuff"), Tim Bowman ("Smile"), Herbie Hancock or Bob James ("Joyride"). Dave has now just released his first CD in 3 years, entitled I Know About Love. It's a collection of dark, hypnotic grooves, that pull you in and never lets you go. The first song is an exotic original named “Time #4”. Next is a song called “The First Night In Africa” featuring master bassist Marcus Miller. Dave also did a cover of KEM’s first hit “Love Calls” that features KEM. Next is “I’m Coming Up, a stepper that features George Duke. The CD also features Bob James, Sweet Pea Atkinson, Herschel Boone, Eminem’s keyboardist Luis Resto, and stunning vocalist Jessica Wagner-Cowan.

01. Time #4 [5:38]
02. I Luv You Like Jazz [2:57]
03. First Night In Africa [5:04]
04. Precious Memories [4:27]
05. I'm Coming Up [4:04]
06. Love Calls [4:38]
07. Waba Doo Bop [4:06]
08. One Night In Paris [4:04]
09. I Know About Love [4:30]
10. Radio Days [4:04]
11. Inherit The Wind [4:04]
12. Beautiful You [4:58]
13. Naked [4:33]
14. Break It Down [4:18]
15. Ma's Song [1:39]
16. I Luv You Like Jazz / Rollin [2:53]

Monday, December 12, 2011


Soul-jazz saxman Richard Elliot has been blowing up radio with the funky single “Boom Town,” which has taken command of Billboard’s smooth jazz national airplay chart for the past four weeks. The track, produced by Elliot and fusion pioneer Jeff Lorber, is the debut single from Elliot’s October release, In The Zone, and the latest of more than a dozen #1 singles registered by the genre-defining Artistry Music recording artist. Elliot’s 16th solo collection, In The Zone salutes the seminal instrumentalists that most influenced the saxophonist in his formative years of the 1970s and ‘80s including Grover Washington Jr., Bob James and David Sanborn. Elliot and Lorber penned the nine original songs that comprise the disc as well as dishing up a sweltering version of the gritty Marvin Gaye classic, “Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler).”

Concert dates are presently being booked for next spring and summer for Elliot to reteam with trumpeter Rick Braun to tour as RnR, a dynamic duo that held the #1 spot captive on the radio airplay charts for an astonishing 15 weeks with the self-titled, title track from their 2007 album collaboration. In addition to sweeping the nation’s radio waves, In The Zone has been receiving critical praise. Smooth Jazz Magazine selected it as the #1 album of 2011. Below are highlights from some reviews.

All Music Guide: “Elliot's sense of time when soloing is deadly. The melody is as infectious and celebratory as it is sexy…”

Digital Jazz News: “Richard Elliot lives his passion. A uniquely personal release and a natural progression and follow up to Rock Steady (Artistry, 2009), Richard Elliot shares his own soulful musical statement with In The Zone…Elliot is an incredibly lyrical instrumentalist with improvisational chops to work on the fly while having that nice fat tenor sound of a Hank Mobley throw-back player…Contemporary jazz has taken some hits over the past year for lacking originality, spontaneity and passion. A perfect ebb and flow on this release provides all three from an artist with a sincere desire to be known as someone that can play from the heart not just the head. Musical honesty and integrity is rare commodity these days but it is clear that it is Richard Elliot's passion that has him ‘In The Zone’ and with one of the finest contemporary releases of the year!”

The Smooth Jazz Ride: “…the iconic saxophonist with the distinctly soulful touch turns it on with jazzy runs, soulful rhythms, memorable melodies, and tight, catchy hooks…Full of sweet grooves, spunk, and slick but not frenzied drive.”

Sounds of Timeless Jazz: “Elliot brings his informed knowledge of such great musicians as Grover Washington, Jr., David Sanborn and Bob James and his own great saxophonics to this inspired project…innovative music that will just blow you away.”

The Urban Music Scene: “It’s a Winner!!...In The Zone is a 10 song horn oriented delight… In The Zone again proves why Richard Elliot is such a joy to listen and see in concert...”

Smooth Jazz Daily: “With In The Zone Richard Elliot garners anew the Triple A of smooth jazz. Eclectic music with a well-crafted musicianship on every track that attracts all music lovers.”

Friday, December 09, 2011


Most artists would be daunted at the thought of remaking a classic work of art made by legends, but not Grammy winner Kirk Whalum. The multidimensional saxophonist adeptly steps into the role of John Coltrane and tapped his brother, vocalist Kevin Whalum, to fill the shoes of Johnny Hartman on an unabashedly romantic collection of duets originally recorded in 1963 by the seminal artists. Romance Language, due to be released on Valentine’s Day by Rendezvous Music, consists of all six songs that comprise the Coltrane/Hartman recording along with a handful of modern ballads to complete the disc produced by Kirk Whalum and John Stoddart.

In addition to the traditional CD and digital version, an extended and enhanced digital version of Romance Language will be released as the world’s first complete LiveAudio optimized album for JAMBOX by JAWBONE, a leader in personal mobile technology devices. LiveAudio allows music to be enjoyed in a 3D-like, surround sound experience from a single, small Bluetooth wireless speaker. This one-of-a-kind version of Romance Language will be available exclusively at

In conjunction with the album release, Kirk & Kevin Whalum will perform a Valentine’s Day concert at the Hilton Portland Downtown in Oregon that will stream live to a global audience through Kirk Whalum’s website,

The Whalum brothers approached the half-dozen standards from the original recording with admiration and veneration. Kirk Whalum and Stoddart crafted fresh arrangements that place the time-tested songs such as Irving Berlin’s “They Say It’s Wonderful,” Sammy Cahn’s “Dedicated To You,” Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” and Richard Rodgers’ “You Are Too Beautiful” in present day R&B-adult pop and jazz settings. The newer songs – including renderings of contemporary hits written by Terry Lewis & James “Jimmy Jam” Harris, Eric Benet, and Joe (Thomas) - maintain the mood, feel and ambience of the storied set. Throughout Romance Language, Kevin Whalum’s suave, velvety voice is cool and in command while Kirk Whalum’s sax solos and fills are inspired, warm and nuanced etchings. The amorous album unfolds with the grace of an intimate hand-penned love letter - seductively sweet, genuinely heartfelt, and poetically passionate. Recorded “live” at Dark Horse recording studios in Nashville with very little overdubbing, the musicians accompanying the Whalum’s were John Stoddart (piano, keyboards, organ, backing vocals), Marcus Finnie (drums), Braylon Lacy (bass), Kevin Turner (electric guitar), Michael “Nomad” Ripoll (acoustic guitar), Ralph Lofton (organ), George Tidwell (flugelhorn, trumpet), and percussionists Bashiri Johnson and Javier Solis. Kirk & Kevin Whalum’s 83 years-young uncle, Hugh “Peanuts” Whalum, poured his distinctive, emotion-charged voice into the broken-hearted “Almost Doesn’t Count” and the poignant bonus track, “You Are So Beautiful.”

Romance Language, now so elegantly completed, absolutely qualifies for my bucket list. Having been a fan of Kevin's luscious voice for over 30 years and a fan of the Coltrane/Hartman recording for at least that long, this project is more of a consummation than just serendipity. Every time I listened to the Coltrane/Hartman recording, I thought of Kevin and mused at the idea of redoing the whole album with my little brother. Kevin caressed each and every note. My other ‘brother,’ John Stoddart ‘dined’ with me on these arrangements. My touring band embraced each performance as we recorded ‘live’ in the studio––virtually no overdubs, over-takes or over-production. Just sheer joy and love, respect and reverence for the original recording as well as these amazing compositions,” said Memphis native Kirk Whalum, who will tour with Kevin in the spring to support Romance Language. “Oh... and boy is this album romantic. I invite you to take it on a test drive. Drive slow.”

Romance Language is Kirk Whalum’s 19th album as a front man since his 1985 solo debut, Floppy Disk. He topped the Billboard contemporary jazz album charts twice (And You Know That! and Cache) and amassed 11 Grammy nominations. Whalum took home a coveted Grammy earlier this year for a duet with Lalah Hathaway that appeared on his The Gospel According to Jazz: Chapter III. An ordained minister who earned a Master’s degree in the Art of Religion, Kirk Whalum has forged an unparalleled career path in both the secular and the non-secular music words, garnering hits, awards and accolades for his jazz, R&B and gospel recordings. His soulfully expressive tenor sax voice is unique and has appeared on literally hundreds of recordings by Barbara Streisand, Quincy Jones, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Michael McDonald, Stanley Clarke, George Duke, and Larry Carlton as well as on collaborative albums with Bob James, Rick Braun and Norman Brown. When not recording or performing, he educates and mentors the next generation of musicians in his role as president/CEO of the STAX Music Academy and the STAX Museum of American Soul Music. Additional information is available at

The songs contained on Kirk Whalum’s Romance Language are:
“They Say It’s Wonderful”
“Dedicated To You”
“My One and Only Love”
“Lush Life”
“You Are Too Beautiful”
“Autumn Serenade”
“Almost Doesn’t Count”
“I Wish I Wasn’t”
“I Wanna Know”
“Spend My Life With You”
“You Are So Beautiful” (bonus track)


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