Friday, July 31, 2015



Aaron Parnell Brown's no tin man here – as the record has a rock-solid sound from the very first note, and a fresh approach that really sets Brown apart from so many male soul singers in the contemporary underground! Aaron's got this laidback vibe in his music – a deeply soulful approach that flows at its own pace, and doesn't need to step out sharply, and knock you over the head – instead kind of sliding into each track with gentle care, then letting things build up as the warm vocals glow nicely over the course of the record. That doesn't mean that things are sloppy or sleepy at all – just carefully confident to never burn the fire too brightly at one point – and instead go for this slow burn that really keeps the album strong throughout. Titles include "Bleed Me Dry", "Can't Stop", "Just Leave", "Somewhere Around", "Changes", "Everlasting Light", "I Believe In You", and "We All Fall In Love Sometimes".  ~ Dusty Groove


Contemporary cuts mixed with rare soul nuggets – all in a blend that goes way beyond the usual soul compilation! The Real Side team have issued a number of underground tracks on their own during the past decade – but they've also got ears that are really tuned towards a unique slice of soul from the 70s – those tracks that might have a deep soul feel in the vocals, but a modern soul element in the rhythms – a blend of rough and smooth that really sparkles strongly on the older tracks on this set! This first LP in the series is a combination of tracks from all 3 CD volumes – with maybe a slightly stronger focus on recent material – and titles include "On The Real Side" by Larry Saunders, "Favour" by Jacqi Williams, "This Girl" by Cookin On 3 Burners with Kylie Auldist, "Love's Journey" by Mebus, "Keep On Pushing Love" by Al Green, "The Walk" by Jesse Gomez & TCB, "Born To Break My Heart (Carolina rmx)" by Roy G Hemmings, and "Hold On To The Blues" by Lonne Givens. ~ Dusty Groove


Snapping percussion, sweet jazzy organ, and other great instrumentation – all dancing wonderfully together in this early bossa jazz set from Eumir Deodato! The album's got a simple brilliance that's totally great – and a sense of color, tone, and timing that really shows Deodato's skill at arranging – a mode that's sophisticated, but which never fails to groove! The whole thing's quite different than his later famous sides on CTI – and it's proof that even at the start, the maestro had a sound that was unlike anyone else. Players include Tenorio Jr on piano, Jose De Araju Oliveira on tenor, and Jorge Ferreira Da Silva on flute and alto – and titles include "Nana", "Straits Of McClellan", "Amor De Nada", "Garota De Ipanema", "Adriana", and "Samba No Congo". ~ Dusty Groove

Brazil meets New Orleans as NATION BEAT teams with CHA WA on CARNIVAL CARAVAN

It’s almost impossible to find music from New Orleans or Brazil that doesn’t have some connection to their respective Carnival traditions, featuring parades, call and response, roaring and rapid percussion, and most importantly - revelry! As Scott Kettner, band leader, describes, “Our goal with Carnival Caravan is to expose our fans to the traditional music of these cultural celebrations.  Most people aren’t aware of the Maracatu or Mardi Gras Indian traditions, and we want to bring this to our fans in the most interactive, enjoyable way - with our own particular twist of course” With their deliciously original sound and energy, they want to show audiences that there’s “more to the New Orleans party than just hanging out on Bourbon Street getting drunk.” Featuring musicians and party starters from Brazil, Brooklyn and The Big Easy, the project is naturally intertwined with movement and travel. Kettner’s partners include front woman Fabiana Masili, a soaring powerhouse vocalist and rising Brazilian star with a commanding stage presence and raucous, versatile guitarist Jules Belmont. The band is further propelled by fluid, animated bassist Chris Venditti and Brazilian percussionist Fernando Saci. When they hit the road together to tour it’s literally a caravan: “a Carnival party on wheels!” 

Nation Beat has shared the stage with artists such as Willie Nelson, Stanton Moore (of Galactic) and the legendary Maracatu Nação Estrela Brillante from Recife, Brazil. Nelson heard the group via an NPR segment in 2008, the invited them to play at his Farm Aid concert. “Hanging with Willie Nelson was a very overwhelming experience” says Scott. “He's an American icon and has been one of my musical heroes since I was a kid. Willie was very encouraging towards us and also very genuine. After playing with us his manager told me that he hasn't seen Willie smile so much on stage in a long time.”   When asked about Nation Beat, The Red Headed Stranger enthused “Just a fantastic group.  I was overwhelmed”.

Their recording project and subsequent tour with Maracatu Nação Estrela Brillante (“Maracatu Nation Bright Star”), titled “A Tale of Two Nations”, earned raves from the likes of  The New York Times and The Village Voice. The latter stated that Nation Beat is “globe-spinning, dangerously funky…Sure they're rooted in a mash-up of big-booming Brazilian maracatu rhythms and the percolating rat-tat-tat of New Orleans second line...But dig a little deeper and you'll find the downhome whine of Southern-fried slide guitar, deep country melodies and beaming zydeco flavors.” The American/Brazilian collective also counts NPR’s Banning Eyre as a fan, calling them “the most original and alluring fusion group I have heard in years.”

In 2002, Scott began teaching maracatu percussion classes in New York to bring the rhythm he was so passionate about broader recognition and to build a community and an audience around it.   In 2006 and again in 2008 he brought twenty students to Recife, Brazil to perform at Carnival, the country’s grandest and culturally resonant celebration. Scott created a cultural exchange program that over time saw Maracatu New York evolve into a top-notch professional percussion group that has inspired countless other groups and artists worldwide.

Scott met Spy Boy “Honey” Banister and fellow percussionist Joe Gellini of Cha Wa in New Orleans during a undoubtedly rowdy Mardi Gras parade. Honey, a traditional Mardi Gras Indian, leads the band with joyful flair, and his intricate suit, fashioned with beads, feathers, and sequins is an immediate show stopper wherever he performs.

“Many artists in the world music field jump around from country to country over the span of their career,” Scott muses. “But I haven’t nudged an inch.  Brazil and New Orleans have remained my source of inspiration for more than 10 years.” As an American and Brazilian collective, Nation Beat truly belongs to both sides of the equator. Look out for the “Carnival Caravan” coming to your market this summer!

North American Tour Dates
June 27 @ SOBs - New York City, NY
July 8th @ Carl Schurz Park - NYC, NY
July 11th-12th @ SunFest - London, ON
July 14th @ PanAm Games - Toronto, ON
July 30th @ Huntington Summer Arts Festival - Huntington, NY
July 31st @ Littlefield - Brooklyn, NY
Aug 1st @ Queens Library - Queens, NY
Aug 2 @ Summer Stage - New York City, NY (with Nação Zumbi)
Aug 8th @ Musikfest - Bethlehem, PA


New album coming soon from musician and producer Darren Rahn

With over 25 #1 radio singles and four Grammy nominations over the past 11 years as an artist, producer and mixing engineer, Darren Rahn has become urban jazz’s premiere sonic architect, the “go-to” guy for established genre greats and up and comers looking for their next sure-fire hit. Yet in signing with Woodward Avenue Records and recording his fifth album, the British Columbia born, Denver based saxophonist – who launched his solo career with Soulful in 2004 - is after something more meaningful than a few more instantly infectious smashes. The multi-talented performer’s desire to launch his second decade as an innovative powerhouse by creating music in his truest voice, straight from the heart, is perfectly in line with the label’s unique mission: to let artists make music authentic to themselves, beyond the trappings of formulas and strictly commercial considerations.

Rahn’s lifelong affinity for woodwinds started as a kid with the clarinet before he taught himself baritone sax to join his junior high jazz band. He has infused his previous four albums – including Once in a Lifetime (2005), Talk of the Town (2009) and Speechless (2012) – with a mix of tenor, alto and soprano. On the new album, he believes that the best way to display the purest representation of his artistry is to focus strictly on the tenor. “I’ve matured to the point on my musical journey where I believe it’s time to really make that choice,” he says. “I’ll still play alto and soprano live, and will play alto, soprano and baritone on future recordings, but the horn that shows my heart and my core as a musician, and that I wanted to showcase on this album, is the tenor.”

Another unique element is the decision to go with all live drums, as opposed to his previous trademark mix of live and computer generated grooves, in addition to instruments like the Hammond B-3 organ and Bosendorfer piano. Because the project is about much more than simply creating ten new potential singles for radio, he is also composing some longer tunes, and ones that explore his equal passions for pop, rock and R&B/funk – as well as his lifelong affinity for the gospel music he grew up playing. Rahn’s desire to keep things as organic and raw as possible may also lead to a bona fide, expansive jazz fusion track.

“The new album will be my most honest and heartfelt to date, with real musicians and an overall live performance feel,” he says. “I’ll have some of the flare and style people are used to from me, but I’m not looking to conform to the genre but instead draw from those funk, jazz fusion and gospel roots as well. This record is really going to showcase my ‘voice’ as an artist more than I’ve done previously, as well as show more versatility. I’m working to make it my best engineering and production to date, but the essence is being built around the saxophone, completely reflective of the blessed place I am in my life.”

Six years after the untimely passing of his close friend, contemporary jazz bass great Wayman Tisdale, Rahn is paying homage to him via the ballad “Losing You.” Rahn explains, “It was a song I could have recorded earlier, but I didn’t feel ready until now. It’s designed to pay homage to a great musician and wonderful friend while also bringing me personal resolution. For fans, his loss was tremendous, but for those of us who were closest to Wayman, his loss was more impactful than anyone could imagine. This tune was my way of saying I’m now at peace with his loss as much as I can be.”

Rahn, who launched his career producing, engineering and mixing for local Denver area artists starting in the late 90s, began working with Tisdale after Rendezvous Music, an independent label co-owned by Dave Koz, showed interest in signing him. While the label couldn’t commit to adding Rahn to their roster, they were so impressed with his production that they offered to have helm a track for Tisdale, one of their top artists. In 2004, just as his own solo career was gaining steam, Rahn produced the bassist’s hit cover of “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now”; it was in the pole position on the airplay charts for four weeks and stayed in the Top 10 for nearly eight months. His subsequent production work on Tisdale’s Way Up! project led him to earn one of his Grammy nominations; the others came from his contributions as a producer and/or mixer for three Dave Koz projects: Greatest Hits, Hello Tomorrow and Summer Horns.

Rahn’s dual paths as an artist and producer reached a unique pinnacle in 2008-2009, when his own single “Talk of the Town” hit #1 on the Billboard jazz chart (followed by the Top 5 track “What Cha Gonna Do For Me”) and he scored three consecutive #1 productions (14 weeks in all) on the Radio & Records smooth jazz chart, holding the top position with Koz, Eric Darius and Tim Bowman. During this time, Rahn held the top three chart positions for several weeks and had as many as four songs in the Top Ten at the same time. Over the years, as his detail-oriented sonic excellence led to more and more hit recordings, his resume has grown to include everyone from Toby Keith, Jonathan Butler and Najee to Bob James, Kirk Whalum, Jeffrey Osborne, Phil Perry, Jeff Lorber, Norman Brown, Jonathan Fritzen, Scott Allman, Julian Vaughn, Nate Harasim, Nick Colionne, Lebron, Dave Bradshaw, Jr., Patrick Lamb and Ryan Montano.

Growing up on a farm in in a small British Columbia mountain town and later in San Diego, Rahn’s formative musical experiences – and the foundation of his later passion for jazz and other genres – came from playing gospel music. In addition to performing at his home churches, he toured around with his parents’ singing group. Throughout his journey, he played everything from traditional hymns to mainstream Southern gospel tunes. After playing jazz in both junior high and high school, he studied music as an undergraduate at Adams State University, then earned his master’s and part of his Doctorate at the University of Northern Colorado in classical saxophone and jazz pedagogy. Settling in Denver, Rahn by 1997 was self employed as a free lance producer, writing his own material on the side as he worked towards his eventual emergence as a solo artist.

“Working on the new album, I’ve really been enjoying the variety of music that draws from all of these musical roots,” he says. “It was especially fun and effortless recording the gospel tune because that was such a huge part of my background. Because of the freedom I have to explore as an artist with Woodward Avenue Records, I also appreciate the opportunity to approach the compositions more from a melodic sense. I am building all of the songs around melodies I compose at the piano, as opposed to starting with big production ideas and working the tunes around those. I’m really excited about this special project and the start of this new phase of my solo career.”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Contemporary jazz singer Carol Duboc releases her seventh album “Colored Glasses” // Collaborates with Jeff Lorber on R&B grooves

On Carol Duboc’s deeply personal 2013 release, “Smile,” the contemporary jazz singer-songwriter opened up in a way that she had never done so before, revealing the pain and heartache involved with dissolving her marriage while being the mother of a young daughter. She described writing the album with producer and jazz keyboards legend Jeff Lorber as therapeutic. Her therapy continues on “Colored Glasses,” a Gold Note Music ten-track disc written and produced by Duboc and Lorber set for release on September 18 and launched that evening with a Hollywood concert date that will be streamed online.

Two years on, Duboc’s new material details her struggles with cutting the ties of the relationship, one tinged by her partner’s delusional view of the world. Writing lyrics and melodies to rhythm tracks sent to her by Lorber, Duboc addresses the realities and realizations of moving forward with honesty and candor, even if she felt her ex was hiding the truth behind “colored glasses,” thus spawning the album’s title. But she acknowledges her own role as well. 

“Some people refuse to see the world as it really is or life as it is, and to be honest, I was so caught up in the hypnotic love that I didn’t see things as they really are either,” admitted Duboc, who titled the first single “Hypnotic.” “I think this album is going to surprise people. It’s about letting go completely and moving on emotionally. And it may be the funkiest solo record I’ve ever made.”

Lorber’s R&B rhythms are lively throughout the soulful, sophisticated session of jazzy adult pop tunes. A marquee supporting cast brings high-caliber musicianship to the taut grooves with stellar performances by Jimmy Haslip (electric bass), Brian Bromberg (acoustic bass), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), guitarists Paul Jackson, Jr. and Michael Thompson, Hubert Laws (flute), Eric Marienthal (sax), Lenny Castro (percussion) and multi-instrumentalist Lorber on keyboards, piano, bass and guitar. Dave Mann punches up several cuts with crisp horns and vivid horn arrangements that add vibrancy, lushness and depth.

“Hypnotic” will be serviced to radio next month coinciding with the release of a video lensed on Venice Beach for the album’s “Wavelength,” a danceable guitar and horn-driven song about intuitive communication between partners. To mark the album’s release and celebrate coming through the other side of the relationship, Duboc will perform at the famed jazz joint the Baked Potato on the release date (Sept. 18), which will be streamed live on her website ( Lorber, Haslip and Thompson are among the musicians from the album’s lineup already confirmed to be backing the singer that night. 

A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Duboc has been living in Los Angeles ever since she attended USC Thornton’s School of Music. Prior to launching her solo recording career in 2001with the critically-acclaimed “With All That I Am,” Duboc wrote hits on gold and platinum-selling albums, including records by Patti LaBelle, Chante Moore, Tom Jones, Stephanie Mills, Jade, Fine Yong Cannibals, Maurice White and the late George Duke. Possessing multimedia appeal, the photogenic blond had a supporting role on the silver screen in “Be Cool” alongside John Travolta, Uma Thurman and Danny DeVito.        

The songs on “Colored Glasses” are:
“Every Shade of Blue”
“Celestial Skies”
“Colored Glasses”
“Walking in My Sleep”
“Code Red”



A tremendous new project from Quantic – a set that has him moving into spiritual jazz territory, with all the depth and care he brought to previous funk and Latin projects! The music here is a mix of electric and acoustic modes – played by Will Holland on guitar with a group that also includes tenor, flute, trumpet, keyboards, moog, and some mighty nice percussion – all used in these warmly flowing ways that are totally wonderful – like some lost, underground 70s set on a tiny label by a local combo – performed with an understated brilliance that really holds us rapt! For a guy who could come on strong at times, Quantic seems to do even more by laying back a bit – and really letting the group energy flow on songs that include "Jumble Sale", "New Constellation", "Bicycle Ride", "The Orchard", "Mirzan", and "Latitude". CD features bonus track – "Latitude (to the point version)". ~ Dusty Groove


Jill Scott's first album away from Hidden Beach – and a set that really marks a tremendous comeback for the singer! Jill sounds better here than we remember in years – as sharply focused and musically pointed as on her tremendous debut from the start of the century – with energy that's apparent from the very first note – both in Scott's vocals and the overall construction of the tunes! All the older, funkier elements from hip hop are in the mix – but as on her debut, they never overwhelm her vocals – and instead seem to empower the singer to be as bold, as righteous as she can possibly be – really winning us all over again with her music. Titles include "Fool's Gold", "Back Together", "Run Run Run", "Wild Cookie", "Prepared", "Lighthouse", "Coming To You", "Beautiful Love", and "Jahraymecofasola".  ~ Dusty Groove


Positraction is the seventh studio album from acclaimed nu-jazz group Four80East. Head-nodding beats and driving bass hooks combine with deft soloing and cinematic soundscapes to create an exciting and unique sound that has garnered the band a devoted fan base around the world. This time around, the funk ante has been upped with the addition of a horn section on several tracks, and the overall vibe is energetic and positive. Includes: Positraction; Eegee Beegee; Into the Wind; Hold a Candle; Dirty Stack; Tikitango; Soft Focus; Cookie Strut; Window Seat; and Moment to Moment. ~ Amazon

AndersonPonty Band Featuring Music Icons Jon Anderson & Jean Luc Ponty To Release New CD/DVD “Better Late Than Never”

One of the most eagerly awaited releases of 2015 by the AndersonPonty Band, featuring music icons Jon Anderson and Jean Luc Ponty, is scheduled to hit the streets early Fall 2015! “Better Late Than Never” is the new album taken from a live performance, and enhanced with innovative production. The package includes a bonus DVD featuring outstanding performances by the band captured in September 2014 at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, Colorado.

The AndersonPonty Band has created some breathtaking new musical compositions. “Better Late Than Never” also showcases rearrangements of classic YES hits like “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”, “Roundabout” and “Wonderous Stories”, as well as some of Jean Luc Ponty's beloved compositions, with Jon's lyrical vocals and melodies enhancing the music and creating a very special and unique sound such as “Infinite Mirage” a new song incorporating Jean Luc's classic tune “Mirage”.

YES's original singer/songwriter for 35 years, Jon Anderson has had a successful solo career, which includes working with such notable music artists as Vangelis, Kitaro, and Milton Nascimento. International violin superstar Jean Luc Ponty is a pioneer and undisputed master of his instrument in the arena of jazz and rock. He is widely regarded as an innovator who has applied his unique visionary spin that has expanded the vocabulary of modern music. Together these two music legends have formed a musical synergy that is unparalleled!

“A breakthrough feeling came as I sang with Jean Luc's music, to be in a band again is very exciting on many levels, we will play and sing our way around the world and have fun, for music is pleasure, music is all that is.” - Jon Anderson

“Collaborating with Jon who is such a creative singer/songwriter is unlike any project I have done before. I knew that we had plenty of musical affinities to make it work, but the result is way beyond my expectations. It is also a lot of fun to reunite with these excellent musicians who played with me in the past, they really put their heart in this project and with Jon's creative input we are not just rehashing the past but giving a new life to the music we started developing decades ago.” - Jean Luc Ponty

The AndersonPonty Band also includes Jamie Glaser on guitars - well known guitarist who has worked with Jean Luc Ponty, Chick Corea, Bryan Adams and Lenny White; Wally Minko on keyboards - virtuoso player and composer who has performed and recorded with many worldwide stars including Pink, Toni Braxton, Jean Luc Ponty, Tom Jones, Gregg Rolie and Barry Manilow; Baron Browne on bass who has played with Steve Smith, Billy Cobham and Jean Luc Ponty; and Rayford Griffin on drums and percussion, who has played with Stanley Clarke Band, George Duke, Jean Luc Ponty and Michael Jackson. The band visit the music created by Jon Anderson and Jean Luc Ponty over the years with new arrangements, virtuosic performances and new energy.

Jean Luc Ponty was originally approached by Jon Anderson with the idea of working together as far back as the 1980's. Now 30 years later the dream has finally come to fruition! In support of the new release, a world tour is currently in the works. Also, a videography documenting the making of the “Better Late Than Never” album will be released along with videos and performances.

AndersonPonty Band tour dates:

10/27 - Philadelphia - Keswick Theater
10/29 - Red Bank, NJ - Count Basie
10/30 - Ridgefield, CT - Ridgefield Playhouse
11/1 - Pittsurgh - Carnegie Theater
11/3 - Chicago - Arcada Theater
11/4 - Milwaukee - Milwaukee PAC
11/6 - Detroit - Detroit Music Hall
11/7 - Toronto - Danforth Music Hall
11/10 - Washington, DC - Howard Theater
11/11 - Long Island - Paramount Theater
11/13 - NYC - Ethical Culture
11/14 - Boston - Berklee Performance Center
11/17 - San Francisco - Regency
11/18 - Sacramento - Crest Theater
11/20 - Los Angeles - Saban Theater
11/21 - Scottsdale - Talking Stick


Twenty four years after Oleta Adams’ empowering version of the Brenda Russell-penned “Get Here” became a Top 5 Billboard 100 hit, earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and was adopted as an anthem for the U.S. troops in the Gulf War, the veteran soul, jazz and gospel singer, songwriter and pianist continues to touch people around the world with comfort, compassion and a beautiful, much needed sense of catharsis.

Responding graciously to fan requests for recordings of two of her most requested songs of the past few years, Adams has simultaneously released “Long and Lonely Hours” and “Safe and Sound” digitally in a multitude of platforms – including iTunes, CD Baby and More than simply lush, heartfelt ballads showcasing her trademark stunning vocals, these two tracks were written as musical prayers touching on important spiritual and societal issues.

Inspired in part by the last years of her mother’s life as she battled cancer, “Long and Lonely Hours” (subtitled “Prayer of the Afflicted”) touches upon the loneliness of a dying person and the questions, hopes, doubts and fears that go into a prayerful conversation with God during the struggle between life and death. It is a song for anyone who has ever suffered or known someone who has been through the experience. In the bridge section, Adams asks, “Lord, can’t you hear me in my suffering/Prayers of a sorrowful song/Father come near me, help me, love me/Don’t let me anguish too long.” Later she asks directly for healing, whether that may come physically in this life – or as a release into the next: “Father, hurry, don’t delay/Master, you’re the great physician/Could you please heal me today.”

On the soulful and lyrical, acoustic guitar driven “Safe and Sound,” Adams offers a heartfelt prayer of protection in response to recent events that have jarred our collective sense of security, and an increasingly troubled society that is often frightening for parents raising young children. Adams concludes each of the three verses describing different stages of a child’s life with a plea that resonates with all mother and fathers: “Keep him safe and sound/Keep him safe and holy/When I’m not around.” In the bridge, she reflects on the connection between earthly parents and our Heavenly Father: “What a mystical creation you’ve turned our lives into/From the love that we’ve been given/We’re living to give him right back to you.”

“Long and Lonely Hours” and “Safe and Sound” are the lead tracks of an upcoming album (release date TBA) of musical prayers that Adams is currently working on entitled A Place for Peace.

“My interest in writing songs as musical prayers stemmed from some observations I made after 9/11, when people were shaken and found themselves back in church, seeking comfort and healing, holding hands and lighting candles – yet not knowing quite how to articulate meaningful prayers that captured their emotions and needs,” says Adams, who released the gospel oriented album Come Walk With Me in 1997 – seven years after her breakthrough Circle of One.

“My journey into this type of songwriting has been about exploring what prayer means,” she adds “Over the years, fans who came to my shows told me they used my music to soothe them in their time of sorrow, and it came to my heart that perhaps I could help them learn the words to say. One of my favorite parts of being a performer is having the opportunity to bless people with my music, be part of their lives and write and sing songs that comfort them through difficult times.”

Adams has been in typical whirlwind touring and performing mode throughout 2015, having recently returned from South Africa (where she performed with singer/guitarist Jonathan Butler) and heading soon to the North Sea Jazz Festival and then Istanbul. In August, she will be performing in Chicago and San Jose, CA with drummer/composer Terri Lyne Carrington; Adams appears on Carrington’s upcoming The Mosaic Project: Love and Soul, which also features R&B and jazz greats Natalie Cole, Lalah Hathaway, Chaka Khan, Ledisi, Chante Moore, Valerie Simpson, Nancy Wilson and Lizz Wright.

July 10 – North Sea Jazz Festival – Holland
July 12 – Istanbul, Turkey
Aug 8 – San Jose, CA – San Jose Jazz Festiva
Aug 22 – Chicago, IL – LIttle Black Pearl
Aug 28 – Richmond, VA – PRIVATE EVENT
Aug 29 – NYC, NY – BB Kings Blues Club
Sept 11-12 – Boston, MA – Scullers Jazz Club
Sept 27 – Houston, TX – House of Blues – Fundraising Event
Oct 8 – Amsterdam, Holland – PRIVATE
Oct 13 – Houston, TX Zilkha Hall – PRIVATE
Nov 6 – Alexandria, VA –
Nov 7 – Annapolis, MD
Dec 12 – Cerritos, CA – Cerritos Performing Colors of Christmas
Dec 14-15 – San Francisco, CA – Symphony Hall  – Colors of Christmas

Brazilian group Bixiga 70s new album, III

Five years after their inception, the Sao Paulo based Brazilian group Bixiga 70 continues to travel musically forward, only to find themselves more and more at home.
The band’s aptly named third album, “III”, is a luminescent and energized admixture of Atlantic cultures. The album’s hyper-contemporary dialogue journeys between the sounds and rhythms of Brazil and Africa, and between the band’s ten musicians and their distinctive musical identities. Their collective influences include jazz, funk and Afro-Brazilian music, and stretch further afield into dub and reggae, electronics, cumbia and carimbó, ethio-jazz and samba.

Bixiga 70’s “III” is a breathtaking rhythmic storm where inspired solos, harmony and dynamics, beats and improvisation all mesh together in vital and unpredictable ways. Spanning between a joyous danceability, a sharp sense of humor and committed political reflections, the life-blood of this ten-piece unit is instrumental music, but it is an instrumental music that speaks profoundly.

Self-produced by the band in their own studio in Sao Paulo (and mixed by Victor Rice) all the compositions on “III” are written and arranged by the entire Bixiga 70 collective. There are no liner note details: the process of creation is decentralized and acknowledges the importance of each musician in the room. The album was recorded live in the studio to further assure the depth of this collaborative spirit and to accentuate the intensity of the band’s sonic experiments.

Following the global attention garnered by their previous album 2014’s “Ocupai” (Mais um Discos), Bixiga 70 headed out into the world. Their musical travels to Europe, the USA and Morocco, as well as the many varied regions of Brazil (including the streets of Bixiga) have all left a deep mark on the sounds and visions of the new album.

Throughout the nine tracks found on “III”, styles merge and original syncretisms come to life. The album shape shifts contemporary afro-funk, Moroccan cumbia, spiritual jazz, adapted afro-brazilian chants, Cuban blaxploitation, sounds from São Paulo’s Black Rio movement, Arabian dub, Malinké drumming, Angolan guitar music and traditional bamboo fife bands.

There is no doubt that Bixiga 70 is one of the guiding voices of Brazil’s contemporary instrumental music scene and their new album “III” clearly demonstrates why.They are a band that deftly searches for untracked and thrilling musical spaces to occupy. And most importantly, they are a band that succeeds in finding them.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015



Zac Harmon is an award-winning guitarist, organist, singer and songwriter whose distinctive style combines the best of old-school soul-blues artists with modern lyrics and themes that bring the blues into a new century. 'Right Man Right Now' is contemporary music that proves just how alive and relevant the blues is today. Addressing issues straight from today's headlines, Harmon presents them in a fresh original style built on the best blues tradition. And he has some incredibly talented musicians helping him, with guests including Bobby Rush, Lucky Peterson, Anson Funderburgh and Mike Finnegan. A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Harmon played guitar for Z.Z. Hill, Dorothy Moore and Sam Myers before moving to L.A., where he established himself as a successful session musician, songwriter and producer, working with the likes of Evelyn 'Champagne' King, The Whispers, The O'Jays and Black Uhuru. Harmon won the Blues Foundation's prestigious International Blues Challenge (IBC) title of 'Best Unsigned Band' and two years later won the Blues Music Award for 'Best New Artist Debut'. Since then, he has become one of the strongest live performers in the genre, thrilling fans everywhere from Memphis to Mumbai, and with 'Right Man Right Now' he finally brings that excitement to a brand new album, his bluesiest ever. The album provides definitive proof that Zac Harmon is indeed the right man to firmly establish all that blues can and should be right now in the second decade of the new millennium. ~ Amazon


In the late 70s Mimi Fariña, the folk singer and younger sister of Joan Baez, established the annual Bread & Roses Festival of Music as a fundraiser for her co-operative social organisation of the same name. The event featured the music world s leading activists and politically engaged artists: Stephen Stills, Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton and Bonnie Raitt among them. The second Bread & Roses Festival took place over the Labor Day weekend in September 1978 at the Greek Theatre in Berkley and marked the stunning comeback of one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time: Joni Mitchell. Joni Mitchell had not performed live since her appearance at The Band s Last Waltz nearly two years earlier and had been undergoing a stylistic transformation, turning away from the acoustic folk of her early career to explore Jazz influenced work. Mitchell s appearance at Bread & Roses was the highlight of the festival, broadcast live by the radio station WBUR, she was joined on-stage by the jazz legend and pioneering fusion artist Herbie Hancock. The set correspondingly featured a full exposition of her new direction - material from Hejira as well as the first incarnations of songs from Mingus , the concept collaboration with Charles Mingus that would not surface until almost a year later. Bread & Roses is a rare and fascinating record of Joni Mitchell during one of her most artistically fertile, daring periods.; coming in advance of Mingus , there s also a loose, exploratory feel to the performance, as Mitchell tests her new work in public for the first time. This concert is quite simply essential listening both for Joni Mitchell fans and anyone wishing to acquaint themselves with one of the most iconic, innovative voices in music. ~ Amazon


On July 12, 2014, Incognito threw a party that will surely be remembered for years to come. To celebrate the band's 35th anniversary in style, Incognito played a show at London's O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire and invited friends, family and fans to join them for a wild night out. With guest performances by genre and music companion Mario Biondi, American soul diva Carleen Anderson and friends and artists from former and current times like Mo Brandis and Imaani, Incognito dug up songs from now and then for an amazing performance, delivered in style, with passion, with soul, with heart. The band's greatest hits like their #6 UK single charts success “Always There”, their first single ever “Parisienne Girl” as well as recent songs like “Goodbye To Yesterday”, fan favourites and songs dear to the band are represented on this night to remember. The memorable gig brought the essentials of Incognito, the jazz, blues, funk, soul, latin and dance together for a perfect blend. The songs are just as surprising on the HD live video as on CD - a great emotional atmosphere where to feel that Incognito loves and lives the music. Embedded with funky grooves and huge soulful voices this music experience will definitely give you goose bumps in its quieter parts and animate you to lose control in the faster ones. So it's time now to turn up the volume control and dance! ~ Amazon


The five discs that make up this boxed set feature the man s complete recorded output across the period many fans consider to be Buddy Rich s most creative and inspired. Containing 11 remastered, original albums from the period 1957 - 1962, the music here contained illustrates perfectly this maverick musician s unrivalled talents which continue to delight jazz fans old and new.

By the second half of 1950s, Buddy Rich was already an established figure in the world of jazz. Often credited as one of the finest drummers in the world due to his virtuoso technique, power, groove and speed, by 1957 Rich had a considerable number of critically acclaimed albums to his name, on which he featured as either sideman to some of the most highly-regarded musicians of the era, as bandleader or as co-leader. By this point he had shared the stage or recording studio with the likes of Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Lester Young, Gene Krupa, Nat King Cole, Lionel Hampton and Harry Sweets Edison among others, with many more to follow in what would be a long and prestigious career. 

Rich began 1957 with one of the more unusual recordings in his catalogue; Buddy Rich Just Sings (Verve). The album was one of a few in his body of work for which he stepped away from the drums to take on his less familiar, but still notably skilled, roll as vocalist. With 1959 s The Voice Is Rich (Mercury, 1959) he went even further into similar territory, with drums now completely abandoned and orchestral backing replacing the more typical jazz set-up. This move however did not mark neither the end nor any kind of hiatus from his rhythmic leanings, as the era was indeed studded with classic LPs on which Buddy continued to provide the backbeat. 

From the early 1950s, Rich had performed regularly with trumpeter Harry James, a partnership that would continue intermittently until 1966. Echoing his drum battle with Gene Krupa, Rich teamed up with another of the day s most respected skin-thumpers, Max Roach, to record Rich Versus Roach (Mercury) in 1959. A truly inspired and unique recording, the album features the twin drummers augmented by the combined efforts of their respective bands. In 1966 Rich formed The Buddy Rich Big Band, achieving great success in an era where groups of said format were suffering a sharp decline in popularity. Their first album, Swingin New Big Band (Pacific Jazz, 1966), contained a highly regarded interpretation of Leonard Bernstein s West Side Story, which blended Rich s drumming into Bernstein s complex arrangement with such majesty it quickly became one of the group s signature pieces. In addition, the group backed legendary Rat-Pack performer Sammy Davis, Jr. on his The Sounds Of 66 (Reprise, 1966). 

The Big Band s 1969 album Mercy, Mercy (Pacific Jazz), recorded at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, would later be considered one of the group s greatest live recordings. Although officially disbanding in 1974, The Buddy Rich Big Band would continue to reunite and perform sporadically for the rest of Rich s career. Despite his age, Rich s drumming ability lost little of its pace or power towards the end of his life. The 1980s saw the emergence of a series of infamous bootlegs known as The Bus Tapes, a collection of rants and tantrums secretly recorded by pianist Lee Musiker. Among the cognoscenti Rich's short temper was almost as famous as his musical ability and it had allegedly resulted in his being slapped by Dusty Springfield and his threatening to fire trombonist Dave Panichi for wearing a beard. Despite this, composer, singer, producer and lifelong friend David Lucas insisted that "Rich had a soft heart underneath it all. His favourite song was 'It's Not Easy Being Green'." Sadly, Buddy Rich passed away following complications from surgery on 2nd April, 1987, at the age of 69. ~ Amazon



AcousticaLevy, represents the first studio album by the enigmatic singer since 1998's Living Dangerously. Levy burst upon the scene in the late 1970s, a diminutive youth with a signature golden voice who, along with producer Henry "Junjo" Lawes and the Roots Radics band, ushered in the early dancehall era of reggae, changing the sound and vibe of the music forever. Throughout the early 1980s, Levy was one of the most popular and prolific artists in the game before moving to the UK and teaming up with producer Jah Screw. With Screw, Barrington Levy would record many of the timeless hits that made him one of the most celebrated vocalists to ever emerge from the Jamaican music scene. Songs like "Murdera," "Under Me Sensi," "Prison Oval Rock," "Black Roses," and "Here I Come" are modern classics that are still highly regarded by fans today, allowing Levy to pack houses throughout the US and Europe. AcousticaLevy is produced by Barrington Levy and musician/producer Handel Tucker, and features "Bull" singing his most beloved hits acoustically. Tucker is a hitmaker's hitmaker whose credits include the platinim-selling Bonafide by Maxi Priest, The Score album by the Fugees, and Etana's brilliant 2014 album, I Rise. Tucker has worked with Levy previously, having played keys on Levy's 1993 debut album for MCA titled Barrington. The album, which will be released April 15, 2015 on Doctor Dread's DDP record label, includes tunes like "Murdera," "Under Me Sensi," "Prison Oval Rock," "Be Strong", "Teach The Youth," "Here I Come". Also included on the album are three new tracks: "Life is Great" (featuring Patrice), "Things Friends" and "Times Hard." ~ Amazon


1973 was the pivotal year in the life of Bob Marley & The Wailers. Though a popular reggae act in their native Jamaica, as well as amongst the Caribbean diaspora in the UK, during the 60s and early 70s West Indian musical forms remained a marginal interest in the major music markets of the US and Europe. While in London in 1972, Marley came to the attention of Chris Blackwell, the young and enterprising founder of Island records who had started to harbour ambitions of bringing ska and reggae music to a mainstream audience. A shrewd marketer well attuned to the shifting notes of musical trend, Blackwell felt that the way to break reggae would be to hook onto the spirit of rebellion inherent to rock n roll. Key to Blackwell s project was the search for a charismatic personality, someone who could style themselves as an iconoclast and cross into the rock world as an insurgent, irresistible force; in Bob Marley, Blackwell recognised such a figure. Released in April 1973, the band s debut for Island, Catch a Fire , broke into the charts in both the US and UK and turned the ears of influential music critics everywhere. The subsequent North American tour saw The Wailers opening for the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Sly & The Family Stone, crucial milestones on the road to the international ascension of reggae music. Behind the scenes, however, all was not well. Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer were suspicious of Blackwell and felt that they were being presented as sidemen to Marley s star performer. By the end of the year, after disagreements around touring, both had quit the band to embark on solo careers. This performance captures the Waliers at their defining moment- the opening night of their North American Catch a Fire tour. Recorded at Paul s Mall in Boston on the 11th of July 1973 and broadcast live by local radio station WBCN, the gig is a fascinating document of an incredible band at the very moment that they broke through; it remains essential listening for Marley fans, reggae enthusiasts and music lovers in general.


THE album for this summer!! This is no ordinary album release from an ordinary artist. Levi Roots has a unique story which many already know. Levi has always wanted to release commercially accessible reggae, and many don’t know that he was actually a MOBO nominated musician. Music and food have always been his passion, and now finally the album has come. With the majority of the songs co-written and co-produced by Levi, as well as three fantastically different but well-known covers, this is an album of strength and depth, ranging from roots inspired reggae with beautifully crafted melodies, to a brilliant cover of the inimitably catchy “Don’t Worry Be Happy”. There is certainly something for everyone on this album and first single “Jam In The Streets” is an infectious summer song that you can’t help singing along to. ~ Amazon

Kirk Whalum's The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter IV; features 19 songs on 2-CD set

Many believe the gospel has always been played in jazz notes, whether in the agonizing lament of a Psalm, the improvisational expression of shape-note singing, the haunting strains of a Negro spiritual or the joyous celebration of a Dixieland band. Kirk Whalum and his company of translators is here to make sure that the intrinsic creativity, inspiration and skilled presentation that is part of both the gospel and the language of jazz is sounded clearly in the culture at large and the church in seasons of both triumph and tragedy. The award-winning series that launched with the initial The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter I in 1998 has transformed the concept of sharing the “gospel truth” through instrumental music. Each of the subsequent releases has garnered critical acclaim and award nominations, with “It’s What I Do” from GATJ III taking home the Grammy for Best Gospel Song in 2011.

After a six-year wait, the much anticipated The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter IV is here with a two-disc, 19-song CD (and a feature-length DVD) that sets a benchmark for live recording, nuanced performance and deep improvisation at the most profoundly felt, thoughtfully conceived and personal level. Kirk Whalum’s insightful and revelational narrative both in concert and post-production in the DVD version enriches the whole experience, with an up-close and personal look at the heart of the artist and his art. Once again, Whalum, shares the stage with members of his exceptionally gifted family, including brother Kevin (vocals) and nephews Kenneth III (saxophones) and Kortland (vocals). His cohorts in jazz super group BWB (both solo artists in their own right), Rick Braun (trumpet, flugelhorn, valve trombone) and Norman Brown (guitars, vocals) join an eminent ensemble comprised of legendary percussionist “Doc” Gibbs, renowned bassist Gerald Veasley, rising vocal star (and Stevie Wonder protégé) Sheléa, as well as returning co-producer John Stoddart who lends his eloquent and soulful keys and vocals to the mix.

GATJ IV is an invitation to pause, hear, and “see” in a fresh, prescient way; it is also a tribute album that is uniquely gospel-centric. Honored are heads of state (Mandela and Obama), departed and greatly respected and loved artists (George Duke, Wayman Tisdale, and John Coltrane), alongside mothers (Kirk’s… and yours if you like) and a homeless woman Whalum came to call friend (“Nannette”). In myriad ways, the gospel’s welcome is declared and displayed with eloquence and power.

GATJ always spotlights the God-given gifts of leading artists outside the “church” world. Says, Kirk, “We always try to reach out to the cadre beyond gospel artists, to a Norman Brown, a Rick Braun, or Doc Gibbs; that is a very crucial part of our approach. By their willingness to be part of it and by honoring them and their spiritual quest, what we are able to do is create a safe space, a sort of spiritual and musical “Switzerland.”

Additionally, Whalum wanted to amplify the direction taken on GATJ III: “One of the things on my mind was carving a deeper niche in the improvisation, longer, more in-depth solos, a little bit more avant garde.” This is front and center on songs like “Madiba,” Kirk’s elegant, polyrhythmic South African seasoned tribute to Nelson Mandela and “Triage,” an instrumental editorial-on-and-embodiment-of the mash-up of life and death in the world—dissonant, chaotic and composed, it’s an improvisational tour de force. His signature melodic and soulful fusion drawing from jazz idiom across generations and genres—contemporary jazz to Dixieland, Bebop, Big Band and beyond—as well as a strong identification with R&B, blues, world music, rock, Latin and pop hasn’t changed, but the balance has indisputably shifted.

Kirk’s intent on this record was to deliver for the listener a more pensive, meditative, contemplative, take your time with what you’re really feeling exploration. Along with the previously mentioned “Madiba” and “Triage,” Kirk’s tribute to Coltrane, “Un Amor Supremo” an original with a Cubano/Santana/Afro-Caribbean vibe and Doc Gibbs strongly featured—reflects that trend. Trane’s artistry is alluded to not only in the title but the extended solos and Whalum’s abandoned yet precision performance—Transcendent. Street. Smart. “Cain’t Stay Blue” is an infectious mood elevator, with a vocal and musical hook that won’t let go. The persistent hope, patience and resolve not to give up that captured the essence of the Civil Rights Movement and a nation in 1964 on Curtis Mayfield’s “Keep On Pushing” is a GATJIV highlight.

On the downside, it is the first GATJ without the inimitable keys of jazz giant George Duke. Kirk Whalum composed and takes the vocal lead on an evocative tribute and heartfelt requiem to his dear friend and fellow artist titled “There,” derived from Duke’s favorite saying “We were there!” Abounding with hopeful transparency and contemporary jazz opulence, underscored by Stoddart’s keys, it’s a fitting tribute to the Duke who is now “there” with his King. The late Wayman Tisdale’s song “Sunday’s Best” is both a tribute and a contemporary jazz triumph showcasing the prodigious talents of BWB and bassist Gerald Veasley. And on the vocal side of things, Kirk’s brother Kevin’s understated cool retools Paul and Linda McCartney’s “Let ’Em In’” (complete with an intricate scat). While Sheléa brings warmth, subtlety and soul to the Foo Fighters mega-hit “My Hero”; the Negro spiritual, “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child”; and “I See You.” The latter was written by Kirk in response to and reflecting the customary greeting, “I see you” of the Na’vi tribe in the movie Avatar—another unexpected context for and allusion to gospel truth, so a perfect fit for a GATJ chapter.

The heart of The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter IV is an invitation to see…and to hear in fresh and expansive ways. To see God and to see people, to experience the Creator’s radical welcome, and then to throw the doors of your heart wide open with welcome to those he loves and created. The message of the final track, originally penned by Todd Rundgren and popularized by England Dan and John Ford Coley not only completes the album, but sums it up and describes the raison d’etre for The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter IV (and all the previous and subsequent chapters to come)—simply, and profoundly: “Love Is The Answer.”

Mack Avenue SuperBand Returns with New Release, Live From the Detroit Jazz Festival - 2014

Live From the Detroit Jazz Festival - 2014 documents the third incarnation of the Mack Avenue SuperBand, an all-star ensemble of bandleaders from the superb roster of the Motor City jazz label. Once again, this powerhouse congregation joined forces under the leadership of bassist Rodney Whitaker to dazzle a hometown crowd in picturesque Hart Plaza, with the results captured for another knockout live recording.

Joining Whitaker as three-time veterans are his longtime rhythm section partner, drummer Carl Allen; pianist Aaron Diehl; and guitarist Evan Perri of Hot Club Of Detroit. Alto saxophonist Tia Fuller returns from the SuperBand's debut outing after taking the second year off, while vibraphonist Warren Wolf and tenor saxophonist Kirk Whalum make it two in a row after joining the band for the first time in 2013. 

The SuperBand comprises a distinctive blend of generations and styles, which Mack Avenue Records President Denny Stilwell says captures the diversity of the label itself. "The SuperBand has always been and will always be a mix of veteran players and top younger talent, which really represents the Mack Avenue roster. When you look at this particular line-up, there are a wide range of styles represented: from the Django-influenced guitar approach of Evan Perri to the soulful/gospel leanings of tenor saxophonist Kirk Whalum, and when you consider the other players, you can find just about everything in between. And each of them are bringing performing and writing chops that are top shelf." 

The final - and perhaps most important - member of the ensemble is the enthusiastic Labor Day weekend crowd. "The Detroit Jazz Festival is one of the best live festivals on Earth to play," Whitaker says. "That audience is pushing you to play and encouraging you. Then you're on the bandstand with a lot of cats that really admire each other, so the combination of having a good time and an excited and lively audience makes for a great recording." 

Or, as Diehl adds succinctly, "Quite simply: Detroit knows jazz. They'll let you know when you're on the right track, and certainly when you're not." 

Whitaker sees the gospel roots of most of Mack Avenue's artists as the common thread that binds them together and allows a once-a-year gathering like the SuperBand to be so successful. Even guitarist Perri, who would seem to be an outlier with his gypsy jazz influences, is a Detroit native in whom the bassist recognizes the influences of Motown, funk, and soul. The SuperBand helps to lend a distinctive identity to a label whose artists spans multiple generations, styles, and hometowns. 

"These days, not everyone who plays jazz necessarily lives in New York," Whitaker points out. The Detroit Jazz Festival is the culminating place where we all get together every year and talk about music and career development - and form a mutual admiration society. It makes the label more of a family. The hang is part of the music, and the hang happens every Labor Day weekend." 

For Whitaker as music director, the hang begins several months earlier, as he reaches out to each musician to solicit their contributions to the year's repertoire. Of the half-dozen tunes on this year's release, all but one were written by members of the SuperBand. The exception is Herbie Hancock's "Riot," which kicks off the album in combustible fashion with fiery solos from Wolf, Perri, Diehl, Whitaker, and Allen. 

Wolf's soulful, plaintive "The Struggle" follows, with the composer, both of whose impressive albums were Mack Avenue releases, building a solo of great craft and intensity. He wrote the tune with Whalum in mind, and this performance shows off the saxophonist's deeply felt blues roots. "Being able to share Mack Avenue with these artists is truly wonderful," Wolf says. "There's just so much history on the label it's hard to beat or compete. Playing with my label mates is a lot of fun. Everyone is a band leader in their own right, it's not often that we get to play together." 

The music director, who has two co-led albums with Carl Allen on the label along with his own 2014 release When We Find Ourselves Alone, contributes "A Mother's Cry," the theme song from his score to the PBS documentary "Malawi & Malaria: Fighting to Save the Children." Despite the darkness of the theme, the song retains a hopeful melodicism and is highlighted by Whitaker's meditative solo bass intro and a solo that passes among most of the band members, with a keening sense provided by Fuller on soprano and Whalum on flute. 

Opening with a tour de force piano intro, Diehl's "Santa Maria" is a showstopper that reveals traces of the composer's jazz, swing, blues, and classical influences all in one package. The pianist recently released Space, Time, Continuum, his sophomore Mack Avenue album. He calls the yearly get-together with the SuperBand "an incredible experience because we typically have our own separate projects. Mack Avenue has an exemplary roster with a variety of artistic approaches. I'm just honored to be a part of it all." 

Perri and the Hot Club of Detroit have released four albums of Djangology on the label, and "For Stephane" is prime evidence of his ability to take his gypsy jazz influences and transform them into his own distinctive take on modern jazz. The tune's shifting time signature spurs intricate playing from Wolf and Perri. 

The set draws to a close with Kirk Whalum's "Bipolar Blues Blues," which may come as a surprise to those who know the saxophonist only in his smooth jazz guise. Whalum's Mack Avenue discography includes homages to soul icons Babyface and Donny Hathaway, the collaboration of John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, and the conjunction of gospel and jazz. Here, his tenor duels with Fuller's soprano on a down-home blues that feels right at home on the streets of Detroit. 

By the time this set draws to a close, listeners at home may feel transported to the city, or at the very least feel some of the excitement that the Hart Plaza crowds were swept up in last August.



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