Monday, April 30, 2012


True to the title of his eighth and latest solo recording Fast Train To A Quiet Place, Brian Hughes at last carved enough time away from his whirlwind live performance schedule to dedicate himself to his first studio recording since 2003’s Along The Way. The benefits of recording and traveling the world with his fellow Canadian Loreena McKennitt for 24 years – the last 20 while also developing his own career as a chart topping contemporary jazz guitarist – are clear from the get go on the explosive ten track collection. Driven by the multiple award winning composer and guitarist’s trademark electric guitar contemporary jazz vibe, the set also incorporates elements of blues, gospel, Latin, Brazilian, flamenco, tropical and Eastern Indian Music.

Hughes complements the unique sounds of his three main guitars – the Gibson ES 175 hollow body jazz guitar, Fender Telecaster and nylon string – with fascinating excursions on the electric sitar and Celtic Bouzouki. Working with longtime band mates, drummer Tal Bergman (Joe Bonamassa, Rod Stewart), percussionist Ron Powell (Kenny G, Madonna) and bassist Rufus Philpot (Al DiMeola, Jeff Golub) as well as new keyboardist Matt Rodhe (Prince, Christina Aguilera, “American Idol”), Hughes succeeds in capturing with a live in the studio recording the spirited, improvisational energy of his live performances.

He’s chronicled these for his fans on two recent live performance projects, Live (2007) and the DVD No Reservations (2010). The train gets rolling with the bustling and percussive, stop and start motion that drives the opening track and first single “Fast Train,” which builds slowly towards a blistering, hypnotic crescendo. The sensual and dreamy “Blanket of Stars” was inspired by Hughes walking out of the studio looking up at the sky on a perfect night in his hometown of Altadena, California. The quirky working title of “Would You Like Fries With That My Dear?” somehow stuck to a sizzling track that spins bossa nova into such frenzy that Hughes began to call the vibe “Rockanova.” After the blues tinged tropical romance of “You & I,” Hughes ventures into spy movie territory with the cool and bluesy, samba/boogaloo piece “Gotcha.” Rodhe brings out the classic soul-jazz via the Hammond B-3 on the funked out “Super Tight,” which features Hughes’ bright, blistering electric guitar.

The inspiration for the title of the acoustic driven flamenco jam “Café Sin Nombre” is the place in Sevilla where flamenco is supposed to have originated. Fast Train To A Quiet Place wraps with a three songs with roots in very different places. Following an exotic venture to India via a romp on the electric sitar on the moody, atmospheric “The Gift,” Hughes goes “To A Quiet Place” with a graceful interlude on the bouzouki. He then heads back home—down home—for a fiery, anthemic electric guitar driven gospel explosion appropriately named “Hallelujah.”

While concurrently building a following via his work as a co-producer and musical director for fellow Canadian Loreena McKennitt, Brian Hughes has carved out an impressive career in the contemporary jazz arena. His first two albums, Between Dusk and Dreaming (1991) and Under One Sky (1992), established him as one of the rhythmically progressive guitarists and composers in the genre, perfectly blending his fluid and emotive guitar style into an exciting, melodic mix of Latin, Jazz and World Music compositions.

After being chosen as a winner in JAZZIZ Magazine’s “Guitars On Fire” competition in the early 90s, his subsequent recordings Straight To You (1996), One 2 One (1998), Shakinʼ Not Stirred, Along the Way, Live and the concert DVD No Reservations have received critical acclaim and major radio air play in the U.S. and Canada. His sizzling fretwork and infectious compositions have received great critical acclaim that is perfectly reflected in one journalist’s assessment that Hughes is “both a great artist and an accessible one. His passion is so obvious, intense and contagious, that his audience shares it.”

Hughes has received the SOCAN / BMI “Jazz & Instrumental Composer of the Year” award seven times from 1997 to 2011, and the title track from Shakinʼ Not Stirred was featured on an episode of HBOʼs “Sex and the City.” He has performed over the years at numerous international festivals and concerts, including: The Providencia Jazz Festival (Santiago, Chile), The Montreal International Jazz Festival, The Edinburgh International Jazz Festival, The Vancouver International Jazz Festival and The Catalina Island Jazz Festival.

“I chose the title Fast Train To A Quiet Place,” he says, “because the new album is another journey oriented recording for me, drawing influences from many different cultures and featuring songs that I’ve written over the past few years. It’s a very personal project and all the songs have a specific meaning — each one a snapshot of a moment in time and which collectively represent where I am in my life now personally and creatively.”

Friday, April 27, 2012


Bobby Broom's new CD, Upper West Side Story, is the guitarist's tenth album in as many years -- the culmination of a golden period of prolific creativity and steady artistic growth. Five of those recordings have featured his jazz trio with bassist Dennis Carroll and drummer Kobie Watkins, who've worked as a unit since 1997. Origin Records, Broom's longtime label, will release the CD on May 15.

Providing an intimate look at Broom's musical personality and the trio's fully developed group chemistry, the original compositions on Upper West Side Story are described by Broom as "an ode to where I'm from." They reflect a wide range of influences across a spectrum of genres while always remaining deep in the tradition of the modern jazz guitarist. Included is the first studio recording of Broom's "D's Blues," a live video of which has been a fan favorite online for several years.

"I purposely waited to make a record of all originals," says Broom. "I feel that can be sort of a run-of-the-mill thing to do -- that everyone is doing it. But, you know, I've been out here 30 years now and people need to know who I am beyond my guitar sound and style. This album reveals more of me."

"In my twenty years of playing with Bobby," says bassist Carroll, "I've always felt that his style of playing melds the feelings of all-American blues with an urban hip soulfulness that really speaks to the progression of jazz."

"B is one of the great guitarists and musicians of this generation," adds drummer Watkins. "Playing with him and this trio has meant so much for my development and prepared me to have intelligent musical conversations."

For the last two years, Broom has also been working with the young drummer Makaya McCraven, who is heard on three tracks of the new CD. Playing with Bobby, says McCraven, "you always have to dig deeper. His depth in vocabulary allows the music to go anywhere with ease."

The CD cover photo was shot on 95th Street and West End Avenue, a very short walk from Broom's childhood home at 95th and Columbus. Though Broom, 51, has now lived over half his life as a Chicagoan, he was born in Harlem and raised on the Upper West Side. He attended the High School of Music and Art, made his Carnegie Hall debut at 16 with Sonny Rollins, and debuted as a leader on record at 21 with Clean Sweep (GRP). Broom remains a New Yorker at heart.

The move to Chicago came in 1984, after which he continued to tour with Rollins (1982-1987, 2005-2010), joined forces with Kenny Burrell & the Jazz Guitar Band, played briefly with Miles Davis, and performed and recorded with local leading lights such as Charles Earland.

"Broom has one of the few truly recognizable styles among modern guitarists, and one of the most satisfying solo concepts in mainstream jazz," critic Neil Tesser has written in the Chicago Examiner.

After recording the all-star blowing session Modern Man in 2001, Broom commenced his series of trio albums with Stand followed by Song and Dance (which Pat Metheny called "one of the best jazz guitar trio records I've ever heard"), The Way I Play, and 2009's Plays for Monk. He also remained busy with the Deep Blue Organ Trio, the group he has co-led with Chris Foreman and Greg Rockingham since 2000. Their fourth album Wonderful!, a Stevie Wonder tribute, was a #1 JazzWeek album shortly after its summer 2011 release. Deep Blue has toured as Steely Dan's opening act on several occasions in recent years.

As jazz finds itself in a more academic period ushered in by programming and institutions, Bobby Broom and his trio(s) continue to operate from jazz's natural standpoint -- the black music aesthetic in rhythm and the blues, and the distinctly urban-American-influenced jazz strain that continues to thrive and evolve from each generation to the next via recordings and tutelage on the stage. Broom and his bandmates have come by their perspective having worked with many of jazz's Golden Era legends, who taught that listeners will respond to music they can understand and feel.


Since his days with Blood Sweat & Tears in the mid-1970s, followed by stints with Billy Cobham and Miles Davis’ band in the ‘80s, and a solo career that now spans more than 25 years, guitarist Mike Stern has used his jazz roots as a starting point for exploring a range of alternate territories that include R&B, rock, swing, funk, world music and numerous other regions along the musical topography. The recipient of Guitar Player magazine’s Certified Legend Award for 2012, he’s an artist who’s not afraid to bring numerous styles and ideas – however diverse – into the same place just to see what happens.

All Over the Place is Stern’s new recording on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group. Set for release on June 19, 2012, the 11-song set aligns the characteristically diverse and adventurous guitarist with a cadre of brilliant guests, including trumpeter Randy Brecker; saxophonist Kenny Garrett; and drummers Dave Weckl, Keith Carlock and Lionel Cordew. Also on hand is a delegation of high-caliber electric and acoustic bass players: Esperanza Spalding, Richard Bona, Victor Wooten, Anthony Jackson, Dave Holland, Tom Kennedy, Will Lee and Victor Bailey.

“I’ve been playing a lot of different kinds of great music with a lot of different musicians on some of my more recent records,” says Stern, whose Big Neighborhood – released on Heads Up in 2009 – followed a similarly eclectic vibe. “I love bebop, swing, rock, all the stuff that a lot of guitar players – especially jazz players – tend to include in their music. It’s the nature of the instrument, but very much a part of my nature as well. There’s a lot of music that really inspires me, and it usually covers quite a few territories.”

It’s all here, starting with the mysterious funk groove of the leadoff track, “AJ,” which Stern wrote specifically for contrabass guitarist Anthony Jackson. Other personnel on board for the opener are saxophonist Chris Potter, keyboardist Jim Beard, rhythm guitarist Leni Stern (Mike’s wife), drummer Keith Carlock and percussionist Tim Keiper.

Leni returns a couple tracks later on “Out of the Blue,” this time playing an exotic three-stringed Malian instrument called a n’goni. Her opening riffs segue into the high-powered free-for-all featuring Brecker, Beard, Kennedy, Keiper and drummer Kim Thompson.

A tempo changeup comes in the form of the much leaner and quieter “As Far As We Know,” featuring Spalding on bass and vocals. “I like drama,” says Stern. “I like a lot of dynamics. I like music that has a lot of heart, and I hope this priority comes through in my playing and in my writing, especially on this tune.”

Stern is joined by drummer Al Foster on three engaging songs that land squarely in the center of the album: the funky and swinging “Blues for Al,” the energetic and colorful “OCD,” a song loaded with solo work by Stern and Garrett; and the much more understated and reflective acoustic piece, “You Never Told Me.”

“Halfway Home” is a gritty blues piece that showcases Stern’s slide guitar chops and deftly juxtaposes them against Wooten’s funky bass work and Cordew’s relentless backbeat.

The mellow groove of “Flipside” throws the spotlight on saxophonist Bob Malach, who joins Stern in some solid solo work. Malach is back for the title track, which closes the set on a fiery note as Stern leads a groove that’s reminiscent of his high-energy collaborations with the Brecker Brothers in the early ‘90s.

“The guitar tends to keep you open-minded, because you hear it in so many places,” says Stern, listing many places he himself has ventured along the way – not just on All Over the Place, but in earlier work as well. “You hear it in rock, in country, in pop, in funk, in classical, you hear it in jazz, you hear it in so many kinds of music that you can immediately identify it on one level or another.”

Stern is ready at a moment’s notice to go to all of these places and more, and he’s ready and willing to bring anyone along for the ride. “Music, to me, is a language of the heart,” he says. “I hope people will get some emotional payoff from what I’ve done on this recording. That’s the vibe that I continue to go for with all of my music.”


With its hard-driving beats, funky rhythms and stellar pop-centric sensibility, vocalist, pianist and composer Peter Cincotti’s fourth album, Metropolis, might be perceived as a sharp left turn from the jazz-focused, boy-crooner sound that established his career in America a decade ago. But Cincotti has been living something of a musical double life, as his last record of all original pop songs went gold in Europe, reaching the top of radio charts alongside the likes of Rihanna and Coldplay. Cincotti sees his latest release, Metropolis, as more evolutionary than revolutionary, marking his continuance along a musical path that he started mapping as early as age three.

Cincotti was just 18 when, in 2003, his eponymous debut album for Concord catapulted him to international fame. Endless comparisons were made to the singing and playing style of Harry Connick Jr. (one of Cincotti’s early mentors and strongest boosters) and Cincotti was often hailed as the post-millennial answer to Frank Sinatra. Looking back a decade, Peter recalls, “I was surrounded by a lot of people who want you to repeat things—to make the same record over and over again. [Back then] I did have a lot of idols in the Sinatra mold, and still do, but that was always just one room in the house for me. Even with the first album, my goal was to find a personal approach to the [jazz] genre. Music for me is about creating something, not repeating something.”

His second album, On The Moon, marked the very beginnings of Cincotti’s expansion beyond the jazz genre, and became a kind of bridge that lead from his first album to his third album East Of Angel Town, released by Warner Brothers Records in 2007. Produced by the legendary David Foster, East Of Angel Town redefined Cincotti overseas and yielded his last hit single “Goodbye Philadelphia”, which reached #1 on pop radio charts throughout Europe, leading to sold out tours, primetime TV performances, and unique collaborations with artists like David Guetta.

For Cincotti, Metropolis is just another step forward. Produced by John Fields (Switchfoot, Jonas Brothers) Cincotti’s fourth album examines the joys and ills of the contemporary urban experience from multiple perspectives. “The album is,” says Cincotti, “meant to be representative of how we live today. It’s not about one particular city, but the urban landscape in general. I wanted each song to feel like a neighborhood within Metropolis, and for the storylines of the songs to somehow seem as if they were occurring simultaneously.”

The album opens with its set piece, the title track, strongly reminiscent of the Pet Shop Boys’ infectiously propulsive electronica. Later tracks “Graffiti Wall,” partially inspired by the twentieth anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s demolition, and “World Gone Crazy,” with its condemnation of society’s tech-fueled ferocity, further speak to the overarching theme.

The remaining tracks focus more on personal tales within this urban jungle. “There are,” says, Cincotti, “a few songs on the album about commitment, beginning with “My Religion.” It’s polar opposite is “Forever and Always.” Both are about becoming someone else for the sake of a relationship, but the first comes from the dark side of commitment and the second from the light.”

Romantic upheaval is also prevalent. “Take a Good Look” traces a disintegrating relationship. As Cincotti explains, “The beginning of the song is a question, the middle a feeling, and the end an undeniable belief that the relationship is over.” The closing track, “Before I Go,” is also about departures but, he says, “has a sort of cockeyed optimism in it. It’s about trying to freeze that moment in time before you have to say goodbye, honestly believing you can fight the inevitable.”

But, proof that Cincotti has not entirely lost heart, there are also several songs that suggest a more upbeat attitude towards love and its possibilities. “Do or Die” tells of a guy infatuated with a workmate who is finally given his chance when he finds himself alone with her in an elevator. “It is,” says Cincotti, “all about making the first move — that ‘fight or flight’ response that sometimes goes through your head when you’re interested in someone.” Irresistible attraction is also central to “Magnetic.” “In this case,” says Cincotti with a laugh, “the guy’s excuse is that it’s pure physics: ‘don’t blame me,’ he’s saying, ‘I have no control over this.’” And “Fit You Better” is a clever tale of, as the lyric suggests, ‘perfect opposites’ whose marked differences are what make the romance work.

Though all 12 tracks demonstrate Cincotti’s skill and maturity as a songwriter, two are particular standouts. “Madeline” again concerns commitment, but with an intriguing twist. The guy in the piece is unswerving in his long-term dedication to one woman, yet realizes that a former lover will always cloud his memory. “I was interested,” says Cincotti, “in the idea of someone from the past forever tainting the present. What it may be like to move forward while accepting the fact that the rest of your life will be haunted by someone you will never have again.” And, dovetailing the through themes of modern urban life and romantic entanglements is “Nothing’s Enough.” Cincotti sees the song as “a big question mark. It concerns [societal] excess; how people my age have become accustomed to quick changes and immediate gratification on every level. The question is: How does that mindset affect modern day relationships?”

Ultimately, Cincotti would like listeners, who nowadays often approach music in terms of individual track downloads rather than complete albums, to “listen to the album as an album. I’m hoping people will press ‘pause’ on the craziness of their daily lives and actually experience the entire record. It’s a lot to ask in this day and age, but this album is all about creating another world—the [quasi-mythical] world of Metropolis — and I want them to feel like they’ve actually been there.”


The Mascot Label Group has announced an April 24 release date for Walter Trout's 21st album Blues For The Modern Daze. The offering displays the contemporary guitar legend returning to his hard-core blues roots, with songwriting at a creative and personal zenith. Blues For The Modern Daze is Trout's sixth recording for Provogue Records, a division of the Mascot Label Group, and his first pure blues album in 23 years as a bandleader.

Trout's practical schooling in blues started when he arrived in Los Angeles in 1973 and got gigs behind Hooker, Big Mama Thornton, Finis Tasby, Pee Wee Crayton, Lowell Fulsom, Percy Mayfield and Joe Tex. In 1981 he joined the remaining original members of Canned Heat. But the real turning point was his tenure with British blues giant John Mayall. Trout became part of the Bluesbreakers' lineage of great guitarists along with Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor. Beginning in 1984 he shared six-string duties with Coco Montoya in Mayall's band, creating a flexible guitar dynamic that helped provide the Bluesbreakers a renaissance that returned the group to the apex of the international blues touring circuit. Trout began leading his own group in 1989 and cut his debut album Life In the Jungle, rapidly becoming a star in Europe. His first Stateside release, 1998's critically heralded Walter Trout, made him start down the road towards becoming the fixture of the American blues-rock scene that he is today.

Trout's travels over the past 39 years, and his wide appreciation of his predecessors, yield a significant influence to Blues For The Modern Daze. Trout shares, "My main inspiration for this album was the country bluesman Blind Willie Johnson, an early blues innovator who recorded such timeless gospel informed blues numbers as 'Soul of a Man' and 'Nobody's Fault But Mine.' His music is so beautiful, primal, direct and deeply spiritual that I wanted to feel it at my back when we were cutting these songs." He continues, "This album captures my interest in exploring a side of my music that's rooted in my first musical love, and it reveals something about me too. It sums up the thoughts and attitudes of somebody who is getting a little older and is feeling a little like he's a part of another era, with different values and a different perspective on life than often seem to be prevalent today. And I stand behind those values, like compassion, authenticity and honesty, as strongly as I stand behind my music."

Blues for the Modern Daze was recorded at Entourage Studios in North Hollywood, California, with Trout and engineer Eric Corne producing. It's the fifth time Trout has collaborated with Corne, who contributed to the arrangements and sonic palette of the songs that Trout wrote and demoed on acoustic guitar during the year before the sessions. The EPK for Blues for the Modern Daze can be streamed here:

Trout returns to the road in the U.S. on April 25th in Solana Beach, CA. Confirmed appearances include:
4/25 Solana Beach, CA Belly Up Tavern
4/26 Las Vegas, NV Boulder Station Casino
4/27 Santa Ana, CA The Observatory
4/28 Simi Valley, CA Simi Valley Blues Festival
5/09 Collinsville, CT Bridge Street Live
5/10 Bethlehem, PA River Jazz Festival @ Musikfest Café
5/11 Shirley, MA Bull Run
5/12 Stanhope, NJ Stanhope House
5/14 Buffalo, NY The Tralf
5/16 Fall River, MA Narrows Center for the Arts
5/18 New York, NY Iridium Jazz Club
5/19 New York, NY Iridium Jazz Club
5/20 New York, NY Iridium Jazz Club
5/21 New York, NY Iridium Jazz Club
5/23 Charlotte, NC Double Door Inn
5/24 Asheville, NC Orange Peel
5/25 Atlanta, GA Smith's Olde Bar
5/26 Biloxi, MS MS Gulf Coast Music, Art, Craft & Seafood Festival
5/27 Biloxi, MS MS Gulf Coast Music, Art, Craft & Seafood Festival
6/02 Hagerstown, MD Western Maryland Blues Festival
6/06 Davenport, IA Redstone Room
6/07 Milwaukee, WI Shank Hall
6/08 Canton, OH Canton Blues Festival
6/09 Minneapolis, MN Famous Dave's Blues Festival
6/10 Des Moines, IA House of Bricks
6/12 Lincoln, NE Zoo Bar
6/13 Kansas City, MO Knucklehead's Saloon
6/14 St. Louis, MO Old Rock House
6/15 Chicago, IL House of Blues
6/16 Henderson, KY WC Handy Blues Festival
6/30 Silverado, CA Irvine Lake Blues Festival
8/12 Duluth, MN Bayfront Blues Festival
8/26 Marshfield, MA North River Blues Festival
9/01 Laramie, WY Snowy Range Music Festival


Coming Together Records has announced Amplify, the second release from Phoenix-based guitarist and composer Pete Gitlin. Following up on Full Circle and the Great Temptation, and its #1 hit "Sunshine Days", Amplify stakes out new ground in the alternative jazz genre. Early previews of the CD describe it as "the Sgt. Pepper of smooth jazz", in that each of the ten tracks are very different, and yet they hang together as an inspiring and uplifting work.

Far from playing it safe, Gitlin and his producer, John Herrera, from the legendary Arizona fusion band Turning Point, have crafted a dizzying array of styles and songs, from the pure smooth jazz of the joyous single "Lucky in Love", to the neo-soul of "Soul Connection", to the raunchy beat of "Reggaetown", to the country/jazz feel of "Cowboys and Indians", to the Philly-soul sound of "Until the Morning Comes". A truly unique work, with production and excitement rare in the smooth jazz genre.

Plus there are fantastic performances from a variety of notable jazz stars, including:
•Cindy Bradley - trumpet and flugelhorn
•Jeff Kashiwa (The Rippingtons and Sax Pack) - saxophones, flutes and EWI (electronic wind instrument)
•Dominic Amato - saxophones, EWI and vocoder
•Michael Broening - keyboards
•Mel Brown - bass
•Dennis Rowland (former Count Basie vocalist) - vocals

Pete Gitlin is a guitar player, bassist and composer who is creating a new kind of jazz…part smooth, part contemporary, part funk, part rock…call it alt jazz. With such varied influences as Pat Metheny and Miles Davis, Lee Ritenour and Larry Carlton, the Beatles and Steely Dan, Pete looks beyond the labels attached to musical styles while searching for the passion and melody behind his own unique music. Having played in rock, fusion, and funk bands in his teens and twenties, Pete took a break from his musical career to raise his family, achieving high levels of success in the technology world as a Vice President at a Fortune 500 company.
But in April of 2007 he decided to take the plunge and devote 100% of his time to writing and performing. Through a series of magical events he met drummer and producer John Herrera from the legendary Phoenix band Turning Point. John heard the potential in Pete’s music, and a collaborative effort began. The result of this partnership is Full Circle and the Great Temptation – featuring Pete’s stellar guitar work ably supported by respected jazz musicians Jeff Kashiwa from the Grammy award-winning smooth jazz band The Rippingtons on sax, Mel Brown (Wayman Tisdale and Eric Darius) on bass, Michael Broening (Grammy award winner with George Benson and Al Jarreau) on keyboards, Dominic Amato on sax, and of course John Herrera on drums and percussion.
Also participating in the project are vocalist and pianist Rachel Eckroth on the adult contemporary radio ready “Golden Love Light” and vocalist Jodi Light on the smooth and refreshing “Sunshine Days”, as well as pedal steel guitar maestro Mike Smith on the brilliant “Sunrise”.



Pure genius from pianist Monty Alexander – a collection that features some of his greatest recordings for MPS! Sometimes, there's a special sort of magic that happens between a player and a label – and that's definitely what happened with Alexander at MPS Records during the 70s – a whole new level of his playing that never came out with other labels – and which, despite countless other recordings in later years, may not have ever sounded this great again! There's a sense of freedom to the MPS recordings – a unique approach to rhythm that really works well with Monty's touch on the keys – and which makes the tunes, although often just trio or quartet number, supremely groovy from the ground up. Titles include "So What", "Theme From Shaft", "Montevideo", "Brown Skin Girl", "We've Only Just Begun", "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life", "Here Comes The Sun", and "Theme From Love Story". ~ Dusty Groove

Sweet grooves from Lee Ritenour – a collection of the guitarist's classic recordings for the GRP label! Lee was one of the key talents who helped forge the GRP sound right from the start – that great blend of soulful and smooth that went onto have an impact on jazz for generations to come – but which is often heard best in the hands of a founder like this! Ritenour's got a great sense of space and timing, which usually keeps things far from the smooth jazz cliches that often hold back other players. There's great keyboards on many numbers – played by Bob James, Dave Grusin, and others – and titles include "Rio Funk", "13", "Butterfly", "St Bart's", "Water To Drink", "Boss City", "78th & 3rd", "Mizrab", and "Children's Games".
~ Dusty Groove

An unusual package of Quincy Jones albums – featuring variations on two American records, presented here in offbeat German versions of the 60s! First up is Songs For Pussycats, kind of a mix of Quincy Jones' Pussycat album for Mercury with some tracks from other records too – all done in that wicked mix of jazz, soundtrack, and popular themes that Quincy virtually helped invent back in the 60s! The album's got plenty of great groovers that take a popular tune and kind of turn it on its ear – takes on tracks like "What's New Pussycat", "Take Five", "Mack The Knife", "Sermonette", "Mr Lucky", and "Cast Your Fate To The Wind" – all of which are souped-up by Quincy, and done in a rhythmic style that takes them past familiar versions you might know. Quincy In Rio is a set that seems to be the famous Big Band Bossa Nova album at the start, but which also features tracks from other 60s albums too – showing a whole new fresh side to Quincy's genius in a jazz bossa mode! Arrangements are very lively, with lots of great percussion underneath the soaring big band charts – and titles include "Bossa Nova USA", "Desafinado", "Jive Samba", "Baia", "The Gentle Rain", "Non-Stop To Brazil", "Samba De Una Nota So", and "I Love You & Don't Forget It". ~ Dusty Groove

Thursday, April 26, 2012



Killer cuts from the glory days of the Latin Soul scene – and a really nice little set that goes way beyond other collections of this nature! All tunes are hard-burning Latin groovers, with plenty of jazz in the instrumentation, and lots of soul in the vocals – but what really makes the package stand out is the way it brings together tracks that aren't compiled as often as others – including a number of gems from the Decca and Mercury labels of the 60s, mixed with other smokers from the Fania family of labels! Great all the way through, and with a whopping 22 tracks that include "Mia's Boogaloo" by Ozzie Torrens, "Chicken & Booze" by Manny Corchado, "The Boogie Man" by Louie Ramirez, "We Belong Together" by Herbie Oliveri & The Latin Blues Band, "Bataola Boogaloo" by Bobby Quesada & His Band, "Dance The Boogaloo" by Johnny Zamot, "Funky Shingaling" by King Nando, "Be's That Way" by Willie Bobo, "Straw Boss" by Lenni Sezar, "Cookin With A&J" by Johnny Rodriguez & Angel Rene, "Lost In The Jungle" by La Cucaracha Brass, "Boogaloo Sabroso" by Monguito Santamaria, "Marilu" by George Guzman, "Funky Big Feet" by Bobby Valentin, and "Lucy's Spanish Harlem" by Louie Ramirez. ~ Dusty Groove


A tremendous concert from the Fania All Stars – recorded on the 30th anniversary of the Fania label, and with enough fire and soul to show that the group hasn't dimmed at all over the years! This performance is really a reunion of the group from the classic years – as it features many of the best artists to work under the Fania All Stars name – including Celia Cruz, Johnny Pacheco, Eddie Palmieri, Ray Barretto, Bobby Valentin, Roberto Roena, Larry Harlow, and many many others – all grooving tightly on a double-length set of tracks! Tunes are a bit shorter than the old days, but still have plenty of room for participants to do their thing – and titles include "Quitate La Mascara", "Puerto Rico/Adoracion", "Azuquita Mami", "Busca Lo Tuyo", "Tres Pianos/Guajira", "Vamanos Pal'Monte", and "Su Gente". ~ Dusty Groove


Global jazz and funk from the excellent Afro Latin Vintage Orchestra – a group that works quite a timeless mode, actually – with strains of Nigerian jazz funk, Latin percussion and rhythms, 70s jazz funk and grittier funky soul throughout Ayodegi! What's so exceptional about this group is the seamless way they pull eclectic styles together without it ever feeling like they're genre hopping – there's an intuitive flow to the material that's totally cohesive. The group has 10 members, laying down an array of great percussion, horns, keys, guitar and vocals. Wonderful stuff! Includes "Ayodegi", "Orient Express", "Mamadou", "Theme Jazz", "Fusion", "Presentations", "Oldskool Trip", "JB & Ben On Faya", "Superstar" and "TNT". ~ Dusty Groove


April 26, 2012
By Billboard staff
Longtime New York radio disk jockey and author Pete Fornatale, best known for his long stints on WFUV-FM and WNEW-FM, died Thursday morning at the age of 66. According to New York's Daily News, He suffered a brain hemorrhage on April 15 and been in intensive care for the last week. What follows is an obituary provided by WFUV (90.7 FM, - the station will offer an on-air celebration of his life and career on Saturday, May 5 from 4 to 8 p.m.

"This is a devastating loss, not just for his family, friends, and colleagues at WFUV, but for radio listeners everywhere," said Chuck Singleton, interim general manager of WFUV. "Pete was a beloved air personality for four decades and a master communicator. His influence as a pioneer of progressive FM radio is almost incalculable."

A native of The Bronx, Pete Fornatale got his start in radio in 1964 as a Fordham University undergraduate, hosting a program on WFUV called Campus Caravan. At a time when rock on the radio was confined to Top 40 AM stations, Fornatale spun records by lesser-known artists, played deeper album cuts than the current hit singles, and conducted soul-searching interviews with artists such as The Beach Boys, The Mamas and The Papas, and Simon & Garfunkel, all of whom came through Fordham on tour. "The complete freedom to put this package together, for better or for worse stamped me then and is still with me today," Pete reflected in 2001.

After graduating from Fordham in 1967, Fornatale taught for several years before beginning his professional career in the summer of 1969 at WNEW-FM in New York. (On his first program he read a commercial for the Woodstock Festival, which was happening in two weeks.) He hosted several different shifts at WNEW-FM before launching his Sunday morning program, Mixed Bag, in December, 1982. As the name implies, the program was designed to be a reflection of Fornatale's eclectic musical taste. Inspired by a fan letter from Suzanne Vega, he helped launch the careers of many singer-songwriters, including Vega, John Gorka, and Christine Lavin. Grammy winner Shawn Colvin told The New York Times in 2001, "Pete helped pave the way for so many of us. He was a rare guy in radio then."

Over the years he conducted in-depth interviews with hundreds of performers, including Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Carly Simon, Dion, and James Taylor. The key to a successful interview, he said, was "establishing trust." One of his frequent guests, Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul & Mary, recounted, "When we would talk together, the nature of our discussions would be very personal, very deep, and very revealing. They were the kind of in-depth discussions you rarely hear in the media."

In 1991 Fornatale moved the program to WXRK (K-Rock), where it was renamed The Sunday Show. In 1997 he returned to WNEW-FM when it launched a format of "Classic Rock with Classic Jocks." He came full circle to WFUV in 2001 as the host of Mixed Bag on Saturdays from 4-8 pm. The latter-day Mixed Bag typically focused on a single theme each week, with Fornatale drawing on his encyclopedic knowledge of music for songs to illustrate that week's theme and engaging his listeners in the process through the program's online bulletin board.
That knowledge and passion for music was also reflected in his career as an author. He wrote or co-wrote six books: Radio in the Television Age (a textbook), The Rock Music Source Book, All You Need Is Love: And 99 Other Life Lessons from Classic Rock Songs, The Story of Rock & Roll, Simon & Garfunkel's Bookends, and Back to the Garden: The Story of Woodstock. At the time of his death, he was working on a book on the Rolling Stones.

The positive response to his books led Fornatale to develop multimedia programs that utilized his personal recollections, his sense of humor, and interview segments to tell the story of Woodstock and Simon & Garfunkel at schools, libraries, and coffee houses. The veteran folk duo Aztec Two-Step frequently appeared with Fornatale on the Simon & Garfunkel's Bookends programs. More recently, Art Garfunkel was an unannounced guest at some of the Simon & Garfunkel: "How Terribly Strange to Be 70" programs.

For many years Pete Fornatale was on the board of World Hunger Year (now known as WhyHunger), the organization co-founded by Harry Chapin and Bill Ayres in 1976, and served as an eloquent co-host of many annual Hungerthon radio fundraisers. Ayres, his Hungerthon co-host and executive director of WhyHunger, said, "Pete and I were friends for 45 years. It is amazing how much good came from Pete Fornatale through his radio work and his work with WhyHunger."

Fornatale also had a presence on television. He co-hosted the 1991 HBO telecast of Paul Simon Live in Central Park and regularly served as expert guest commentator on PBS specials featuring Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Roy Orbison, Peter, Paul and Mary, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor and others.

His work has been recognized with many awards, including The New York Council of Churches Award for Broadcast Excellence (1976), the Armstrong Award for Excellence in Musical Programming (1983), The New York Folk Festival Special Folks Award (1984), The World Folk Music Association Award for Making a Difference in Broadcasting (1992, The New York AIR Award for Achievement in Radio in (1998), and, this past February, the AMEE Award for Excellence in Broadcasting from the AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) Foundation.

Dennis Elsas, WFUV's afternoon host, said, "Pete Fornatale was a radio innovator. His vision of programming music and entertaining his audience was unique and original. I heard that the first time I discovered his Campus Caravan show on WFUV in 1967. I would watch that grow as we became close friends and then be lucky enough to work together for so many years at WNEW-FM and WFUV. It is hard and sad for me and his devoted listeners to imagine the New York radio dial without him."

Next to music Fornatale's biggest passion might have been baseball. When asked the question, "What wacky thing would you if you had the time (or guts)?" he replied, "See a game at every Major League ballpark in the American and National League (The 'guts' part is that I don't like to fly)."

He is survived by his three sons: Peter, a book editor (who worked with his father on several books); Mark, a wine importer; and Steven, a New York City police officer. Donations in his name may be made to Why Hunger.


UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock have  announced International Jazz Day to be held April 30th of every year. In partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, the initiative- Hancock’s first major program introduced as a Goodwill Ambassador-will encourage and highlight intercultural dialogue and understanding through America’s greatest contribution to the world of music. International Jazz Day will foster and stimulate the teaching of jazz education with a particular emphasis placed on children from disadvantaged communities in classrooms around the world and will be offered to all 195 member states of UNESCO.

Said UNESCO Director-General Bokova, “The designation of International Jazz Day is intended to bring together communities, schools and other groups the world over to celebrate and learn more about the art of jazz, its roots and its impact, and to highlight its important role as a means of communication that transcends differences”.

In an address to UNESCO officials, Herbie Hancock said, “Please take a moment and envision one day every year where jazz is celebrated, studied, and performed around the world for 24 hours straight. A collaboration among jazz icons, scholars, composers, musicians, dancers, writers, and thinkers who embrace the beauty, spirit, and principles of jazz, all of them freely sharing experiences and performances in our big cities and in our small towns, all across our seven continents.” He went on to say, “Music has always served as a bridge between different cultures; and no musical art form is more effective as a diplomatic tool than jazz.”

In anticipation of April 30th International Jazz Day, the celebration will kick-off on April 27th at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris with a daylong series of jazz education programs and performances. An evening concert will feature Herbie Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Marcus Miller, Hugh Masekela, Lionel Loueke, Tania Maria, Barbara Hendricks, Gerald Clayton, Terri Lyne Carrington, John Beasley, China Moses, Ben Williams, and Antonio Hart, and others to be announced. The daytime events will include master classes, roundtable discussions, improvisational workshops, and various other activities.

International Jazz Day will be celebrated by millions worldwide on Monday, April 30th and will begin with a sunrise concert in New Orleans’ Congo Square, the birthplace of jazz. The event will feature a number of jazz luminaries along with Hancock including Dianne Reeves, New Orleans natives Terence Blanchard, Ellis Marsalis, Treme Brass Band, Dr. Michael White, Kermit Ruffins, Bill Summers, and others.

The world-wide programs and events will conclude in New York City at the United Nations General Assembly Hall with an historic sunset concert certain to be one of the most heralded jazz celebrations of all time, with confirmed artists including Richard Bona (Cameroon), Dee Dee Bridgewater, Danilo Perez, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, Jack DeJohnette, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Heath, Zakir Hussain (India), Angelique Kidjo (Benin), Lang Lang (China), Romero Lubambo (Brazil), Shankar Mahadevan (India), Wynton Marsalis, Hugh Masekela (South Africa), Christian McBride, Dianne Reeves, Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Hiromi Uehara (Japan) and others to be announced. George Duke will serve as Musical Director. Confirmed Co-Hosts include Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Quincy Jones.

The concert from the United Nations will be streamed live worldwide via the United Nations and UNESCO websites, and will also be post-broadcast on United Nations Radio.

Tom Carter, President of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, said, “The Institute is pleased to be a partner with UNESCO in presenting educational programs and performances as a part of International Jazz Day. For more than a century, jazz has helped soothe and uplift the souls of millions of people in all corners of the globe. It stands for freedom and democracy, particularly for the disenfranchised and brings people of different cultures, religions, and nationalities together.”


Originally from Philadelphia, Alex Levin has performed in Philadelphia and New York as a leader and a sideman for almost two decades. After studying at The New School with teacher Gary Dial, he transferred and graduated from Brown University in 1998 with a degree in English Literature. From 1998-2001 he lived in Berlin, Germany, where he started his first quartet, The Living Room. The popular band played at numerous clubs and festivals throughout Germany, and gained notoriety for unique interpretations of pop songs by the likes of Bjork and Tom Waits.

Alex has played with multiple vocalists and instrumentalists since returning to New York in 2001. He has appeared at countless upscale venues throughout the city. On occasion, you can also find Alex and his trio performing at smaller jazz clubs in the village and Brooklyn. He has composed numerous pieces, and has arranged music for top vocalists, including the brilliant Paulette McWilliams.

Alex released his first CD of trio music, Night and Distance, in April of 2005. His first run of his CDs sold out within eight months of its release. In October, 2006, he released his second CD, A Reason for Being Alone featuring his own compositions and an expanded lineup of musicians, including saxophonists Stacy
Dillard and Max Hacker, and cellist William Martina. His composition "Your Call" was heard in the 2005 film "Parkstories.” In addition, "New Schooled" has been licensed by MTV, and "Emma's Ennui" from the same CD has been downloaded 8540 times at All About Levin’s jazz writing has been published in The Saint Ann’s Review. In the summer of 2006, Alex was invited to play as part of the Jazz Composer's Forum in Asheville, North Carolina, where he presented a special concert of original music.

In 2008, Alex’s trio was invited to be the artist in residence at Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English. Since then, he has been playing weekly gigs at Manhattan Youth Downtown Community Center in Tribecca, where he and his trio perform all-ages shows every Friday evening to a loyal audience ranging in age from 1-80. Originally the band was hired for a month-long residency at the Community Center, but that contract was extended and continues to this day. Always eager to pass along the jazz tradition, Alex invites
students under 16 to sit in with the band for a song or two. Besides his gigs at the Community Center, Alex performs regular gigs as a sideman with vocalist Chris Staffel at Bistro Citron on the Upper West Side, and at Abigail's in Brooklyn as an accompanist to saxophonist Tina Richarson.

Review by Susan Francis / JazzTimes
Standards like George and Ira Gershwin's "I Loves You Porgy" and Lorenz Hart and Richard Rogers' classic tune "My Heart Stood Still" are garnished with a modern flare in the hands of pianist Alex Levin. Levin's trio comprising of bassist Michael Bates and drummer Brain Floody grazes the stars of jazz music's yesteryear on the group's latest recording New York Portraits, which additionally features two original tracks written by Levin. Pensive and penetrative, New York Portraits is driven by the winds of showtunes style harmonies and swing-inspired melodies. The tracks elevate the spirit with each one displaying Levin's keen melodic sensibilities and the trio's ability to fuse their ideas into a striking mix.

The title of the album, New York Portraits, refers to the theme resonating through the recording as Levin uts together a collection of songs that are descriptive to him of New York City including his original contributions, the cushiony gospel tones of "Last Train To Brooklyn" and the jitter-fused swing palpitations of "Blues For Charley." Levin's strokes are elegantly hewn and the trio's interlocking verses exude a sophistication reminiscent of Nat King Cole. The group's renditions of the Gershwin's "Isn't It A Pity?" and Irving Berlin's "Cheek To Cheek" are checklist perfect, and the musicians own improvised add ons like Bates' whirling arcos in "My Heart Stood Still" and Levin's wiggling keys glittering along "Who Can I Turn To" produce a sleek ruffling. The somber coloring of "Body And Soul" closes out the album with a vision of the city winding down and its inhabitants having a last dance before turning down the lights.

In many ways, New York Portraits seems like Levin's dream of what the music played in the swing clubs around New York City during the '40s, '50s, and '60s must have sounded like. The melodies live in two worlds, the past and the present. The songs are steep in nostalgia in their phrasing but the tones and the improvised lines are purely contemporary. New York Portraits is a vital asset to jazz music's gallery. It bridges two worlds that are far apart and yet enjoy each other's company, at least the way Levin's trio presents it.



Damn – we love Conya Doss! Just one note into the record, and we're reminded again of why we've had so much faith in her music over the years – and why she's one of the few who can rise up from the underground, yet still keep things real – moving with an instant-classic approach to soul music, and letting those with ears to hear that, yes, they do still make 'em like this these days! Nothing is forced, nothing's too heavy, and Conya's got a rare flow that holds the whole thing together wonderfully – and a sense of vocal presentation that only seems to have deepened since we last heard from her – a voice that could make millions in the mainstream, yet which has that strong Doss commitment to finding its own way in the end. Great stuff throughout – with titles that include "What About You & Me", "Paradise", "Reaching For The Stars", "Don't Change", "Just Me", "Here For You", and "Where Do We Go From Here". ~ Dusty Groove


Bits of jazz and bits of soul, perfectly folded together with a raspy brilliance that really grabs our attention – a subtle depth of singing that almost takes us back to Nina Simone at times, but which also has some leaner 21s Century styles that are mighty nice too! Malia's vocals alone are plenty great – but the album's also got these great gentle instrumentations – bits of vibes, organ, guitar, and drums – used in simple ways that almost have a Brownswood Recordings sort of vibe – as if this record were a female equivalent to Jose James' great work for that label! Titles include loads of Nina Simone numbers – and tracks include "Four Women", "If You Go Away", "Don't Explain", "Baltimore", "Feeling Good", "Wild Is The Wind", and "Marriage Is For Old Folks". ~ Dusty Groove


Life's musical journey has come full circle for McWilliams. After years of touring and recording with artist like Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross, Marvin Gaye, Bette Midler, Johnny Mathis, and countless others. Singing solo/back up for other artists for tv shows, concerts, one-night stands, and life's ups and downs "her dues" has been well paid, and she is finally beginning to reap the rewards it affords. Her latest project, a collaborative effort with long time colleague, Tom Scott, is a labor of love that features a duet with the incomparable sultry voice of Mr. Will Downing on Kool & The Gang's classic "Too Hot". "I believe that everything I've done in my life has brought me here. For the first time in my life I feel like I am on a path to really embracing the jazz singer that I am."


Pianist Mike Levine is a man of many talents whose career is a blend of different aspects of music. He attended the University of Miami where he studied piano with Vince Maggio. Here at the UM, that Mike formed a group with Billy Ross. They released their first album That Summer Something in 1981, which featured Pat Metheny as a guest artist. Mike wrote the majority of the bands compositions. The recording earned national recognition for them and stayed on the top ten contemporary Jazz (AOR) charts for six weeks. Subsequently they recorded “Humidity” which also did well. The Ross-Levine Band was the opening act for Michael Franks, Gato Barberi, Dionne Warwick, and many others.

Mike's latest release Thining Of You is an amazing CD offering thirteen tracks ten of which are originals produced by composer, pianist and producer Mike Levine. Thinking Of You brings you the best in contemporary soft Jazz music.

Levine can be found on Michael Bolton’s “Vintage”;Geraldo Flores “Junto A Ti”; Jaco Pastorius Big Band “Word of Mouth Revisited”, “The Word is Out”; Less DeMerle’s “Live At The Jazz Corner Volume 1 and 2”; Ed Calle’s “Sunset Harbor”, “Double Talk”; Billy Ross’s “The Sound”, “Woody”, on Fantasy Records; Duffy Jackson’s “Swing, Swing” as well as Raul Di Blasio’s “Solo”, “Piano America”, “El Tiempo de Amor”; Bertin Osborne “Soledad”, “Tu Me Acostumbraste”; Lucia “Yo”; Ricardo Montanier “Una Manana Y Un Camino”; Guillermo Fernandez “Porque Te Quiero”; Jose Jose, Julio Iglesias and Armando Manzanero albums.

He toured with Raul DiBlasio where he visited Mexico, Costa Rica, New York, Dominican Republic, San Francisco, Seattle, and Austria. With Ed Calle and Dana Paul, he performed at the Aruba Jazz Festival and with the Jaco Pastorius Big Band he played at both the Reading Jazz Festival and the Detroit Jazz Festival. At the “Taste of Art & Jazz Festival” in Miami Lakes he played with The Nantucket Sound, The Atlantean Driftwood Band, Ross-Levine Band, and Ed Calle Quintet, Mike also performed at the Hollywood Jazz Festival, Jazz Showcase in West Palm Beach, Pleasure Island in Orlando and the Jazz Corner in Hilton Head. At the “Jazz on the Green” festival , Mike played for thirteen years with Peter Graves’s Atlantean Driftwood Band.

He backed up the following artists: Tom Scott, Michael Brecker, Toots Thielman, Stanley Turrentine, Nat Adderly, Randy Brecker and Ira Sullivan. Mike was also a sideman for saxophonist Marc Colby on tour opening for Hubert Laws and Hank Crawford. He accompanied female Jazz vocalist Dee Daniels with the Palm Beach Pops Orchestra. Levine did a weeklong trio engagement with Mel Torme at Bubba’s the former Fort Lauderdale Jazz Club. He worked on both “Sabado Gigante” and “Don Fransisco Presenta” television programs; two top Hispanics Shows seen internationally for many years.

He has programmed for Latin artists, such as Gerardo Flores ”Junto A Ti”; Olga Tanon, Raul Di Blasio, Ricardo Montanier, Millie and can be found on releases from Alejandro Fernandez, Charlie Saa, and John Secada. His writing includes music for Ed McMahon’s Star Search, Univision Network, Televisa Network, WRLN Radio and Boosey & Hawkes, Inc Library. Other credits are his participation in Jingles for Pizza Hut, Burger King, Lowenbrau, Amoco, Southern Bell, McDonalds, Kraft, and Mattress Giant. In 2002, in the producer role, Mike yielded a Grammy Nomination for Harpist, Roberto Perera, “Sensual” in the category, Latin Pop Instrumental.

He performs locally in South Florida’s top Jazz and Blues venues, Arturo Sandoval, Jazzid, Van Dyke, O’Hara’s, Hard Rock Café, and as well various hotels and restaurants in the area with local artists, Dana Paul, Wendy Pederson, Paulette Dozier, Billy Ross and Peter Graves Band and many more. Summer of 2007 Levine performed at the Syracuse and Montreal Jazz Festival with the Jaco Pastorius Big Band. At the Amelia Island Jazz Festival, October 2007, Mike was one of the featured artists. Mike's first CD, "From The Heart", which features both Hiram Bullock and Ed Calle as guest artists, is available at as well as Mikes latest CD, Thinking Of You, with Special Guests: Will Lee, Ed Calle and Billy Ross, is available at, CD Baby, Amazon, I-tunes and other Internet sites.


With the release of Unscripted, her latest Trippin’ N Rhythm recording, Cindy Bradley is not only keeping the trumpet and flugelhorn hip and grooving lead jazz instruments like her late great heroes Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan and Blue Mitchell--she’s also continues her knack for picking spot on album titles.

Calling her 2009 debut Bloom proved prophetic, as the multi-talented performer blossomed into a powerful and charismatic presence at radio and on the contemporary jazz festival circuit. Along the way, Cindy performed everywhere from the River Raisin’ Jazz Festival in Monroe, Michigan to the Dubai Jazz Fest. She won Best New Artist at the American Smooth Jazz Awards and was named Debut Artist of the Year by the Catalina Island Jazz Trax Festival and Smooth Jazz News. How to follow up? Easy. Don’t over-think or worry about everyone’s great expectations. Like a lot of the most exciting moments in life, it’s sometimes just best to go Unscripted—the perfect moniker for the whimsical spirit and stylistic diversity that drives Cindy’s new album.

For the NYC area based Cindy, collaborating on Bloom with Grammy winning producer Michael Broening (George Benson, Wayman Tisdale, Marion Meadows, Steve Oliver) in his Phoenix studio proved to be a stroke of creative genius. The collection was an incredible showcase for her multitude of talents as a player, which extend from traditional jazz and hard bop to R&B and pop influenced contemporary jazz. For those sessions, Broening had laid out a lot of tracks in advance for Cindy to co-write to and work her horn magic over. Wanting the new project to reflect her artistic growth since the first album and a deeper sense of her true emotions, Broening insisted this time in essentially winging it. He invited her to his Phoenix studio without any prescribed agenda.

Cindy shared with the producer a lot of what she had been going through behind the scenes even as her solo career was taking her to new heights and connecting her with fans all over the world. Within a span of a few months, she ended a romantic relationship and both her grandmother and mother (and admitted best friend) Doreen were diagnosed with cancer; her grandmother has since passed away but Doreen has had clear scans and is doing well now. What started out as essentially Unscripted sessions ultimately became a wonderfully cathartic experience.

“Michael is so good at getting in my head to see where I’m at when we work together,” says Cindy. “He knew I was going through a lot and that this would lead to me writing a lot more than I did on the first album. He really did a lot to get the best songs and performances out of me. It was a unique creative process because we essentially wrote as we went along, and it evolved into a longer, deeper process. Ultimately, I feel that Unscripted is more ‘me’ than anything I had recorded before. It was completely my vision of what I wanted to play.”

“Including ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is’ and ‘Footprints’ was a way to further explore my roots in straight ahead jazz and infuse more of my background into the mix. Considering that Mindy Smith wrote the song ‘A Moment More’ for her mom who was dying of cancer, concluding the album with a cover of it seemed very appropriate. At first I was a bit afraid flying out to work with Michael with nothing prepared beforehand. But ultimately that was the point, because an amazing concept took shape and the end result was more magical than I could have imagined. Music kept me going through these scary times in my personal life, and as a result, Unscripted is a much more intimate and powerful experience.”

The overriding theme that takes shape finds Cindy on a mind clearing, soul-lifting stroll through the hustle, bustle and multiple shades of dance music and jazz found in New York City. The moody, atmospheric opening “Prelude” includes sounds of high heels hitting the pavement and a cab door closing as the trumpeter begins her evening’s adventure. On the brisk, percussive “Mass Transit,” she enters a club and is immediately inspired by the thumping retro soul funk beat to pick up her trumpet and soar along. Then she gets back in the car (“Interlude”) and heads off to a trad jazz club, where she engages in a dreamy, easy rolling take on “Footprints” and an elegant and lush, film score flavored vibe on “You Don’t Know What Love Is.” Afterwards, she heads to a contemporary jazz-friendly spot for the seductive, in the pocket (and yes, optimistic!) flugelhorn driven “Lifted” and “A New Day.”

The next “Interlude” features some heavy radio station flipping to get Cindy into the next musical headspace—which winds up being the fiery and festive, brass-intense celebration “Déjà Blue,” whose grooving funk opens the door for her to explode on trumpet and trombone alongside saxman Tim Veeder. The fun continues—also led by her trumpet and trombone mix—on the high octane horn jam “Pink Slip,” which features Broening adding a deep and bluesy Hammond B-3 texture to the mix. Cindy’s evening winds down with the sensual and sexy flugelhorn ballad “Inevitable,” a flugelhorn solo “Interlude” and the haunting reflective “One Moment More,” which closes Unscripted with a burst of powerful emotions that puts life in its proper perspective.

A native of Buffalo, New York, Cindy loves telling the story of how she became a trumpet player by accident in fourth grade: “I started playing the piano when I was six, but we had to choose a different instrument to be part of the band program. I forgot to bring my permission slip to class, so the teacher just had me randomly circle an instrument that I wanted to play. I picked the trumpet, which turned out to be a life and career defining fluke.” By 12, she was performing professionally with “Sugar and Jazz,” a Buffalo area jazz band that consisted of promising musicians, ages 12-17, which emulated the big bands of the 1940s. Cindy played with many jazz groups during her formative years, but it was with this group that she fell in love with performance, jazz, and especially the trumpet.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in jazz studies from Ithaca College, she went to the New England Conservatory to study for her master’s in jazz trumpet performance; at the conservatory, she studied with and was influenced by many jazz greats including John McNeil, Bob Brookmeyer, Jerry Bergonzi, George Russell and Steve Lacy. After earning her degrees, Cindy immediately headed to the New York City area and immersed herself in the vibrant jazz scene, discovering equal passions for straight ahead be-bop and contemporary jazz, as well as funk, Top 40, R&B and jazz fusion. The bands she was involved with played clubs as well as high profile events like the Emmy Awards and even the Super Bowl.

Cindy has also applied her skills and background in a way to inspire future generations. She has conducted hundreds of jazz workshops at high schools and colleges all over the country. “These workshops are a way of giving back to the community,” she says. “It’s inspiring just to see the influence a few encouraging words can have on young people who really want to develop their passion for music. It’s amazing to realize that a lot of the younger kids I teach have never seen anyone play a live wind instrument before their eyes!”

Cindy has impressed thousands of jazz loving adults as well over the years, touring with legendary urban jazz group Pieces of a Dream, performing in NYC with the Sly Geralds Band (bassist for Maceo Parker) and—since the release of Bloom—playing such renowned events as the Big Bear Lake Jazz Festival, Omaha’s Riverfront Jazz and Blues Festival, the Balcones Heights Jazz Festival in San Antonio and the North Carolina Wine and Jazz Festival.

“It took me a some time to find my voice as a solo artist on trumpet and flugelhorn,” says Cindy, “but it’s been an exciting learning process and I have had so much fun along the way meeting so many great people and being able to play for audiences who love all styles of music. The title Unscripted certainly applies to the way Michael Broening and I went about making this album, but in a larger sense, it’s about the reality of life. Life has no script and you never know how it’s going to go as we experience its ups and downs. Working on this project was definitely a way to keep things up after going through a challenging emotional time.”



The bossa-nova-tinged The Futurist is the fourth album from former radio DJ turned journalist Dan Ackerman. Inspired by his love for classic Brazilian jazz, from Antonio Carlos Jobim to Sergio Mendes, the album lays bossa beats over indie jazz rock, with plenty of Rhodes organs and slinky basslines.
Like his previous albums, The Futurist is a mix of instrumental and vocal tracks, combining influences from jazz, funk, and soul, with lo-fi singer-songwriter rock, creating an eclectic mix of songs that recall artists from Steely Dan to Beck.When he's not recording his unique brand of music, New York native Dan Ackerman is best known as a longtime reporter and columnist, covering consumer technology topics. He's a semi-regular TV news talking head, and has written about music, games, and gadgets for CNET, Men's Journal, SPIN, and other publications.


The brilliant return of Rolf and Joachim Kuhn to Impulse Records – and a set that's every bit as their landmark album for the label in the 60s! As with that classic – Impressions Of New York – there's a sound here that's let free right from the start – bold stepping forward by both players, with piano and clarinet interwoven together in lines that are free, yet still have an inherent sort of pulse – guided subtly by the work of John Patitucci on bass and Brian Blade on drums! What's truly amazing is that the Kuhns sound as vibrant, urgent, and potent as ever – as if the passage of decades hasn't dimmed them a bit, and that they're still breaking down barriers of jazz with a record like this. Titles include "Girona", "Mosquitas", "A Little Time Machine", "Light Year", "Lion's Speech" and "Researching Has No Limits". ~ Dusty Groove


A jazz set, but one with plenty of world music roots – thanks to help from a great range of guests! Daniel Freedman grounds the session nicely on drums – but the album features strong contributions from Meshell Ndegeocello on bass, Lionel Loueke on guitar and vocals, Avishai Cohen on trumpet, Abraham Rodriguez on clave and vocals, and Mark Turner on tenor – all artists with deeply distinct voices of their own, coming together to help color the record with many flavors – but in ways that still come across with a nicely unified groove! Some cuts have the Afro-lyricism you'd find in Loueke's work, while others dig into deeper Afro-Cuban roots – and others go for a straighter funky sort of sound. ~ Dusty Groove

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Venezuelan-American pianist Vanessa Perez will make her Telarc International debut when the label releases her all-Chopin collection, including the 24 Preludes Op. 28, in April in Europe and May in the U.S. Perez is a product of the same energized musical culture in Venezuela that produced such international stars as conductor Gustavo Dudamel and pianist Gabriela Montero. Praised for a bold, passionate performing style allied to musicianship of keen sensitivity, Perez has been championed by the most iconic of performers. Conductor Zubin Mehta said of the pianist: “Her level of musical perception and artistic awareness impressed me as much as her total command of the keyboard.” And the legendary pianist Claudio Arrau was touched by her playing, describing Perez as “a pianist whose technique, musicality, and intelligent approach to the music she plays made a profound impression on me.”

Perez’s influences in Chopin’s 24 Preludes range from “the poetry and grandeur” of Arrau’s Philips recordings – “the way he would sing the melodies on the piano,” she says – to “the energy and intensity” of another hero, Martha Argerich, “always a huge inspiration” to her. Yet Perez has made the music of the 24 Preludes – as well as the Fantasie in F minor Op. 49, Barcarolle Op. 60 and two Preludes from Op. 25 – very much her own on the album. “The way I play this music may not be stereotypically `beautiful’ – it may be more raw than some,” she says. “But I wanted the music to sound organic and real, above all. I didn’t want pretty. I wanted honest.”

Celebrating the release of her Telarc debut, Perez will perform a recital on May 31 at the Americas Society in New York City, with the program including Chopin’s 24 Preludes. Prior to the New York event, she will perform a recital in Milan on April 12, the day of the CD’s release in Europe. Perez has an international profile, with the pianist having played prestigious venues across the United States, Latin America and Europe. She has performed not only with Dudamel and Montero (a close friend since childhood), but also with such top musicians as pianist Ingrid Fliter, cellist Jan Vogler, violinist Colin Jacobsen and conductors John Axelrod, Enrique Batiz, David Gimenez Carreras, Karel Mark Chichon and Diego Matheuz. Reviewing a Perez performance of Mozart’s D Minor Concerto in Germany, the Dortmunder Zeitung called her “a virtuosa wild at heart and with a gentle touch,” combining “spontaneous freshness and poetic expression.” The Miami Herald, witnessing Perez in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, marveled at her “youthful fire” and “rapt lyricism.”

Reviewing a solo recital, the Washington Post said: “Vanessa Perez is not to be taken lightly. She stormed through some beautiful works at the Venezuelan Embassy, her fiery impetuosity proving her technical prowess in works by Villa-Lobos, Albéniz, Ravel and Rachmaninoff. Even Mozart's Sonata in F, K. 332, had muscular energy as she raced through the Allegros. The Adagio was pure grace.” A critic for the Connecticut Post was enraptured by Beethoven playing that was “not only crystalline. . . but overflowing with emotion,” while El Clarin of Buenos Aires said that just “to watch Perez play is an amazing show itself.” And reviewing a performance of Chopin’s Fantasie in F minor – one of the new album’s highlights – Messagero Veneto of Italy praised Perez’s “diamond touch, never lacking full expression and feeling.”

Chopin is some of the music “closest to my heart,” Perez says. “I listened to my mother play Chopin on the piano when I was a child. And my grandmother, who lived in Argentina for years, would always tell me about how she used to listen to a neighbor play Chopin’s 24 Preludes all day next door. Her favorite was the last one, in D minor, which is one of my favorites, too. Each of the 24 Preludes may be brief, but they are powerful – each one a whole world of feeling, highly condensed. The way Chopin speaks through the piano is very intimate, very passionate.” The recording sessions at Patrych Sound Studios in the Bronx “felt like a live concert at times, with friends there in the studio,” Perez recalls. “But then I don’t have a separate `concert mode’ and `studio mode.’ Even in the recording studio, I’m performing, period.”

Perez has had other high-profile experiences in the studio. Joining superstar violinist Joshua Bell, she recorded Astor Piazzolla’s Oblivion for Bell’s At Home with Friends album, released by Sony Classical in 2009. She also teamed with Jan Vogler to duet on Piazzolla’s Le Grand Tango and other pieces for the cellist’s 2008 Sony Classical album, Tango. Under her own name, the pianist’s new Chopin collection follows her 2005 solo album for VAI that featured Chopin’s four Ballades, pieces from Albéniz’s Ibería and a work by contemporary composer Suzanne Farrin. Reviewing that album, International Piano magazine said: “Perez can hold her head up high in the most distinguished company in Chopin’s Ballades. If anything, her Albéniz is even more impressive – impassioned, rich-toned and seductively coquettish where appropriate.” Chiming in with its acclaim, the American Record Guide called Perez a “spirited, hot-blooded pianist. . . Her wide-ranging expression can go inward, and she can unleash a torrent of passion.”

Born in Miami, Perez was raised to age 11 in Venezuela, where she began her studies with Luminita Duca. In the U.S., she studied with noted Claudio Arrau pupils Ena Bronstein and Rosalina Sackstein; at 17, she won a full scholarship for London’s Royal Academy of Music to study with Christopher Elton. She continued her studies with pianists Lazar Berman and Franco Scala in Italy at the renowned Accademia Pianistica Incontri Col Maestro in Imola; she then completed post-graduate studies with Peter Frankl at Yale University and pianist Daniel Epstein in New York City. Perez made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2004, but her first performance in New York wasn’t in an uptown classical concert hall – it was at the downtown jazz shrine of the Blue Note, where Latin jazz star Arturo Sandoval had her perform his Sureña, a piece laced with Venezuelan folk melodies. A dual citizen of the U.S. and Venezuela, she currently resides just outside Manhattan, in New Jersey.

Recalling her myriad musical experiences, Perez comes back to Arrau as a catalyst. “Meeting Arrau when I was 14 changed me – he was so humble, and his encouragement gave me so much strength when things became difficult, as they do,” she says. “Some of his best advice wasn’t about playing the piano, per se. He took my hand and said, `You must learn about everything, not just music – live life to the fullest, all aspects of it. Only then will life come through your playing.’ I have always taken this to heart.”


At a time when music is becoming faster, louder, glitzier and everyone is looking for the perfect hook, three visionary artists have pooled their talents to bring a cleansing breath to the modern musical landscape. With Winter Garden, producer-sound designer and RareNoiseRecords co-founder Ernaldo Bernocchi has teamed up with the enigmatic poet-pianist-composer and ambient music pioneer Harold Budd and multi-instrumentalist-sound engineer Robin Guthrie to present an ambient music offering of rare beauty. Contrary to more conventional band recordings, Winter Garden, can be thought of more as a studio concoction; Budd plays piano, while Guthrie’s subtle touches of guitar, piano, keyboards and auxilliary instruments is radically treated with reverb and effects in the post-production stage. A pastiche of shimmering, tranquil soundscapes that gently insinuate themselves into the subconscious, Winter Garden may serve as the perfect antidote to urban frenzy.

With such evocative titles as “Don’t Go Where I Can’t Find You,” “Losing My Breath,” “Harmony and the Play of Light” and “South of Heaven,” the music heard on Winter Garden can be considered a modern day extension of such early ’80s ambient music classics as Brian Eno’s Music for Airports and Budd’s atmospheric collaborations with Eno on The Pavilon of Dreams, The Plateaux of Mirror and The Pearl. Only two pieces – the pulsating “Entangled” and “Stay With Me” – stray from the ambient nature of the project by incorporating beats and groove. Elsewhere, Winter Garden provides lots of billowy sound washes for listeners to luxuriate in, with Budd’s minimalist grand piano playing and Guthrie’s signature reverb-soaked guitar drones informing the atmospheric mix.

For Bernocchi, the zen-like approach taken on the album is a far cry from his beginnings as a guitar player in Italian punk bands. “I was 14 when punk exploded and I was living on the empire border, this is how I recall Italy. From a distance, everything appeared even bigger. Before punk I was listening to hard rock and stuff like Pink Floyd or Tangerine Dream. Punk gave me the idea that anybody could do music, could use energy on stage. It mattered nothing who was a great player or not, it was about the message, the power. At 14 this was a real blast. Soon after, I became interested in experimenting with sound. This explains why I’ve always been into electronic music or treated music.”

The producer also cites Brian Eno as a major influence in plotting his new musical direction. “Eno was a real master for me. Sound-wise I really was into his stuff from the beginning. But to be honest, what Eno really transmit to me was space – the same sense of space I found in Miles Davis records years after or in Bill Laswell albums.”

Ambient music pioneer Budd previously collaborated with Bernocchi on 2005′s Music for Fragments on the Inside, the soundtrack for an installation at Italy’s Palazzo Delle Papesse Centro Arte Contemporanea by videographer Petulia Mattioli and poet Mara Bressi. Robin Guthrie, founder of the early ’80s Scottish post-punk alternative rock trio Cocteau Twins, had also previously collaborated with Budd on the 2005 soundtrack for the Gregg Araki film Mysterious Skin and on two sister projects recorded simultaneously in 2006 — After the Night Falls and Before the Day Breaks. Their ongoing musical relationship was forged in the mid ’80s when Budd appeared on the Cocteau Twin’s 1986 album, The Moon and the Melodies. Budd and Guthrie most recently collaborated on 2011′s Bordeaux.

Regarding the Winter Garden sessions, Bernocchi says, “We recorded for five days in a studio in Tuscany, a lovely place 20 minutes from my house. We played all together in the same room. Harold took care of the acoustic piano. I played all electronics and the electric piano…I was scared to death to duet with Harold. When he proposed that to me I was astonished because I’m not a piano player. And Robin took care of the guitars. It was a risk. We knew really well that recording the piano with me and Robin in the same room could lead to some serious background noise and pollution, but we did it anyway. I spent two weeks cleaning tracks! The result is really immediate, really emotional.”

Bernocchi and Guthrie mixed the album together, their sound engineering tendencies overlapping in post-production. As Bernocchi says, “Ultimately, there’s a maximum of maybe 15% post-production in this album. We only repeated some guitars or piano parts. That’s all.”

As for where the peaceful, ethereal Winter Garden fits in the ever-expanding RareNoise catalog, Bernocchi says: “RareNoise was created with the aim to produce good music perfectly knowing the music business was and is a disaster. We are not really concerned about genres or pigeonholing records. I think it’s an honor for RareNoise to have Harold and Robin on board for this album. I’d love one day to be on stage with them and also some other RareNoise artists at the same time. It could be interesting.”


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