Friday, April 28, 2017


A love of jazz, learning and a determined passion to make a difference in other people’s lives can manifest itself in many different ways. For Drew Foxman, the choice was clear: he knew he wanted to create awareness via the world’s greatest method of connecting human beings—music. “Historically, slavery, oppression, forced migration, all played a prominent role in music’s evolution and in fact led to many of the western world’s music genres, especially jazz and reggae. Music has also been a huge catalyst in all the human rights movements—whether it’s the civil rights movement in the US, apartheid, the fall of the Eastern Bloc, or the Arab Spring.”

Foxman was reared on jazz, with his father one of the world’s foremost collectors of pre-bebop jazz, the musical background to Drew’s childhood. He played jazz piano, which took a backseat in his teen years, but was re-embraced after a friend gave him a copy of John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, which was a moment that “defined my personal and career trajectory ever since.” After living abroad playing music in Europe and teaching in Tibet, running the San Francisco Jazz Festival’s educational program at age 24, obtaining his Master’s degree from Columbia University, Drew has been working in the international social impact space. His work included running a cultural diplomacy project with the State Department for youth in India and Pakistan to create social responsibility and take action in their communities through music, dance, and theatre. These skills and experiences gave Drew the tools to Giant Steps, an establishment where music and social impact collide, putting together the best of both worlds.

The seed for Giant Steps was planted during one of Foxman’s final projects at San Francisco Jazz. Award-winning literary organization Youth Speaks commissioned SFJAZZ to write socially conscious music, so Foxman created an alumni program bringing together the most talented graduates from the SFJAZZ’s youth ensemble program to work with masters in composition and study social issues. The youth then worked together to compose music based on what they’d learned. The premiere performance sold out and was broadcasted live on KPFA.

Giant Steps became the natural progression to synthesize all of the work Foxman wanted to do. Giant Steps aims to build a field for “social impact music” where music can take its rightful place in society as a springboard for transformative change, “since music has been a huge catalyst in all the human rights movements.” As such, Giant Steps has launched Music Action Lab, a social impact incubator for musicians.  Comprised of a global network of musical innovators who work together to design solutions and create new music in service of a better world, their first project by the Music Action Ensemble will be released on May 12 in the form of a compilation called Foundation. Says Foxman, “Musicians around the world were invited to participate in the first Lab through an open call for submissions. Nine musicians were selected from a pool of 98 applicants across 22 countries through a highly competitive application process—based on their unique combination of artistic excellence, demonstration of community leadership, and social entrepreneurship potential. Each Lab culminates in one album of original material that will have a specially designed educational curriculum to teach and spread the message of the music. Through the Music Action Lab, Giant Steps Music is creating a catalogue of social action recordings through a new global musical language exclusively dedicated to social good.”

Once the Lab started, the musicians were immediately encouraged to be collaborative. They met every day for a half-day of social change leadership training through a unique curriculum where they learned from leading experts from the social impact sector. The second half of the day was spent in the band room to compose and rehearse, informed and inspired by the morning sessions through a leaderless, collaborative, creative process.

In just three weeks of composing, the result is ten boundary-breaking tracks, infusing hip-hop, Afropop, Pakistani folk, and Brazilian rhythms with jazz, contemporary, Arabic music and more.  Every song a collaboration, every song focusing on a position of change, be it how we see beauty, find love or explore the idea of self.  “Foundation is the result of this process of artistic and social innovation. We chose this title because the music explores and examines the shared human values that underlie and support social justice work,” says Foxman. “The album is about laying down the necessary foundation before launching full-throttle into social justice work and social movements.”

Music Action Ensemble - Players
Drew Foxman, Founder & Chief Creative Officer
Farhan Bogra, rubab, Pakistan
Teta, vocals, Rwanda
Aisha Fukushima, vocals, rap, USA/Japan
Amen Viana, guitar, vocals, Togo
Icaro Sá, percussion, Brazil
Derek Beckvold, saxophone, tabla, USA
Will Magid, trumpet, USA
Owen Clapp, bass, USA
Tyler Nam Berg, drums, USA

Foundation Track Listing
Dance Joint
King Cardamom

Thursday, April 27, 2017



Previously unreleased live sets featuring jazz guitar icon Wes Montgomery with the swinging Wynton Kelly Trio featuring bassist Ron McClure & drummer Jimmy Cobb Recorded at Seattle's prestigious jazz club the Penthouse on April 14 and 21, 1966. Includes 40-page booklet featuring rare photos, essays by modern guitar icon Pat Metheny, Seattle Times writer Paul de Barros, Resonance producer Zev Feldman, original recording engineer Jim Wilke, plus interviews with NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron, Jimmy Cobb & more! Tracks listing: 1. There Is No Greater Love (7:56); 2. Not a Tear (6:29); 3. Jingles (4:31); 4. What's New (4:51); 5. Blues in F (2:44); 6. Sir John (8:10); 7. If You Could See Me Now (5:54); 8. West Coast Blues (3:56); 9. O Morro Não Tem Vez (6:15); and 10. Oleo (2:08). Personnel:  Wes Mongtgomery – Guitar; Wynton Kelly – piano; Ron McClure – bass; and Jimmy Cobb – drums.


Fantastic sounds from trumpeter Maurice Brown – a straight jazz player by training, but one who opens up here in a warmly soulful groove! The record bristles with loads of great keyboards from Kris Bowers – whose sound is as important to the album as Brown's trumpet – and the rhythms are played live, but have a nicely chunky quality that fits in well with the occasional vocal from Maurice – as well as guest vocal contributions from Talib Kweli, Chris Turner, and J Ivy! Most tracks also feature tenor from Chelsea Baratz – and the whole thing's got a nice groove that's maybe in the same electric territory as some of the more soul-drenched titles in recent years from Blue Note. Titles include "The Mood", "On My Way Home", "Stand Up","Moroccan Dancehall", "Shenanigans", "Capricorn Rising", and "Journey Exotique".  ~ Dusty Groove


One of the deepest records we've ever heard from Nicole Mitchell – and that's saying a lot, given all her other fantastic albums! This richly-textured piece was first commissioned in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the AACM – that legendary jazz organization of which Mitchell is a part – and as a whole, it really demonstrates both the strong legacy of the group, and the farther territory it's reached over its decades-long span – music that has pushed past the initial moment of improvisation, through the AACM's standard of "great black music" as a replacement for classical – to the sorts of spiritual, cosmic sounds that Mitchell does so well. In addition to Nicole on flute and electronics, the group also features Avery R Young on vocals, Kojiro Umezaki on shakuhachi, Renee Baker on violin, Tatsu Aoki on bass and shamisen, Jovia Armstrong on percussion, Tomeka Reid on cello and banjo, and Alex Wing on electric guitar, oud, and theremin – a mix of instruments that is global in scope, electric and acoustic, and really used to effortlessly express the spiritual vision of Mitchell. The notes go into great detail about the thoughts and inspiration behind the music – and titles include "Egoes War", "The Chalice", "Dance Of Many Hands", "Listening Embrace", "Forestwall Timewalk", "Staircase Struggle", "Shiny Divider", "Timewrap", and "Mandorla Island".  ~ Dusty Groove


Two of John Pizzarelli’s greatest influences, Frank Sinatra and the bossa nova composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, joined forces in 1967 to present a softer, sultrier side of Sinatra on the heels of “That’s Life” and “Strangers in the Night.” Half a century later, John Pizzarelli is celebrating that unique gathering with his July 28, 2017 Concord Jazz release Sinatra & Jobim @ 50.

Sinatraphiles consider the 1967 album Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim one of Frank’s greatest, a meeting that found Frank in an out-of-character setting. Yet he delivered a commanding and understated performance over Jobim’s gentle rhythms and Claus Ogerman’s strings. With Sinatra & Jobim @ 50, Pizzarelli pays tribute to those original recordings, enhancing that collection with two originals, Michael Frank’s ode to Jobim and songs that Sinatra and Jobim recorded at a 1969 session.

“Jobim was such a big influence on me in the 1980s—what I was hearing, then translating and what I was taking away from it,” John says. “A lot of what we did on this record, the medleys and the arrangements for the new songs, come out of what they did on their album and the influence they have had on my music.”

Jobim’s grandson, Daniel Jobim, is John’s duet partner on the Jobim classics Sinatra and Jobim recorded together: “Agua de Beber,” “Bonita,” “This Happy Madness (Estrada Branca)” and “Dindi,” plus a medley of “Meditation” and “Quiet Night of Quiet Stars.” They also cover the standards from the 1967 LP, “Baubles, Bangles & Beads” and a medley of “Change Partners” with Jobim’s “If You Never Come to Me” plus Cole Porter’s “I Concentrate on You,” which is paired with Jobim’s “Wave.”

Pizzarelli & company also perform Jobim’s “Two Kites,” Michael Frank’s song about Daniel’s grandfather, “Antonio’s Song” and two Pizzarelli-Jessica Molaskey originals, “She’s So Sensitive” and “Canto Casual.”

Each is interpreted with a tip of the cap to the 1967 album and bossa nova in general: The intro to “She’s So Sensitive” is taken from Jobim’s “How Insensitive”; John added a João Gilberto guitar lick to his “Canto Casual”; and the end of “Antonio’s Song” is the vocal line to “The Girl From Ipanema.”

“They’re just little riffs I wanted to have in there,” John says.

The idea for Sinatra & Jobim @ 50 sprang up after Pizzarelli and his quartet had a successful string of shows in Brazil in June 2016. One of those shows fell on the birthday of guitarist João Gilberto, whose legendary recording of “The Girl From Ipanema” with Stan Getz made bossa nova a global sensation in 1964. John says his 2004 record Bossa Nova was in many ways a tribute to Gilberto.

“My manager said you should think about making another Brazilian record and I looked around at what would make sense in terms of an anniversary,” says Pizzarelli, who spent much of 2015 and ’16 honoring Sinatra’s centennial with a Frank-centric touring show. “I looked around and noticed Sinatra-Jobim was going to be 50. I thought I’ll call Daniel and ask, ‘you want to do this?’ It could be fun.”

The two had already worked together during John’s annual spring runs at New York’s Café Carlyle. (Drummer Duduka Da Fonseca and piano player Helio Alves, who appear on the album, also performed with them at the Carlyle). The set list came together easily and Jobim sent Pizzarelli outtakes from the sessions from 50 years earlier for research purposes. And like that album, the new one was recorded in three days.

“We did the tracks in two days and Daniel had all his parts in,” John says. “The hardest one was ‘Two Kites.’  My father’s on that record by Jobim”—1980’s Terra Brasilis—“so I thought we had to do that.”

“The idea behind the extra songs was ‘what if their relationship had continued?’ Our relationship, Daniel and mine, made me feel we could add these other songs in there and put our little stamp on it.”

Sinatra and Jobim recorded 10 songs in early 1967 and in April it peaked at No. 19 during a 28-week run on the Billboard chart, eventually receiving a GRAMMY nomination for Album of the Year. Two years and four Sinatra albums later, they reunited, replacing Ogerman with Eumir Deodato and recorded another 10 tracks. Sinatra didn’t care for the way he sounded at those sessions and had Sinatra-Jobim killed at the 11th hour; seven of its tracks were on Sinatra & Company in 1971 and the final three first appeared on Concord’s 2010 release The Complete Reprise Recordings.

“It’s a great record, recorded well. Claus Ogerman gives it a unique sound,” John says. “It’s a beautiful singular idea.”

Stylistically, Sinatra & Jobim @ 50 was not as much a stretch for Pizzarelli as it was for Sinatra. Adding to his confidence in the studio was a secret weapon in the band.

“I said to our bassist Mike Karne, ‘if Duduka is frowning, you’re in a bad place. When something’s going good, Duduka will let you know.’ You always want the Brazilians to let you know you’re doing it right. He seemed to always know which takes got the feeling right.”


Concord Music Group and Rhino Entertainment, Warner Music Group’s catalog division, are proud to announce a joint campaign celebrating the 60th anniversary of iconic soul label, Stax Records. This unique partnership marks the first marketing collaboration of the Stax recordings which have been divided since Atlantic Records split with Stax Records in 1967.  

Honoring historic Soulsville, USA in Memphis, TN, curated collections of some of the greatest Stax music will be released on new hits compilations, vinyl LPs, digital hi-resolution remasters and deluxe boxed sets. These releases will showcase timeless Stax hits, plus rare tracks from many of the label’s legendary artists including Otis Redding, Booker T & the MGs, Isaac Hayes, The Staple Singers, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, Sam & Dave, Albert King, Mable John, The Mad Lads and many more.

The collaboration between Rhino and Concord will kick off with the May 19th launch of the Stax Classics series -- announced exclusively on Rolling Stone (4/26) -- which consists of ten wallet-friendly collections, each highlighting one of the label’s biggest stars with 12 choice tracks and insightful new liner notes. Available on CD and at all digital retailers and streaming services, these albums will celebrate the prolific Stax careers of Otis Redding, William Bell, Johnnie Taylor, Carla Thomas, Booker T & The MGs, The Dramatics, Albert King, Sam & Dave, Isaac Hayes and The Staple Singers.

Throughout the year, both Concord and Rhino will reissue a variety of iconic Stax albums on vinyl, including a 50th anniversary pressing of Otis Redding and Carla Thomas’ King & Queen (Rhino), Melvin Van Peebles’ soundtrack to the groundbreaking Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (Concord), rarity John Gary Williams from The Mad Lads front man (Concord) and Otis Redding’s 1965 classic The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads (Rhino). Also, the forthcoming 4-CD anthology Isaac Hayes: The Spirit of Memphis (1962-1976) will be released in August, 2017 to coincide with the multitalented artist’s 75th birth anniversary. In addition, both labels will collaborate on a three-CD Stax 60th set, plus a new installment in the critically acclaimed Complete Stax Singles boxed set series. Volume Four will focus on the diverse nature of the label’s catalog, featuring singles released not only on Stax and Volt, but also Enterprise, Hip, Chalice, Gospel Truth and more. Both Rhino and Concord will also continue an overhaul of digital releases, re-delivering a handful of popular titles in high-resolution and Mastered for iTunes formats, as well as making many albums available to streaming and digital services for the first time.

This soulful partnership marks a special moment in history for the label, and both Rhino and Concord are proud to have the opportunity to collaborate after nearly 50 years. “The Stax catalog features some of the greatest and most culturally significant albums and singles of all time and continues to resonate with music fans 60 years later,” says Mark Pinkus, President of Rhino Entertainment. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Concord’s team on a wide array of new releases fitting of such an important moment in the Stax legacy.”

Sig Sigworth, Chief Catalog Officer of Concord Bicycle Music, Concord Music Group’s mother company, also notes that “Stax has a great history of bringing people together—songwriters, musicians, singers and fans from around the world.  It’s in this same tradition that we are very pleased to work with Mark and his team to bring together both sides of this incredible catalog while celebrating 60 years of Soulsville, USA.”

Founded in 1957 by Memphis banker and fiddle player Jim Stewart, the Memphis label was a labor of love for Stewart, who oversaw operations initially with his sister Estelle Axton and then associate Al Bell. “On the anniversary of Stax Records’ 60th, this Concord/Rhino collaboration signals the beginning of the end of a bitter-sweet relationship between Stax and Atlantic,” says Stewart. “It’s long-overdue and a good omen for the unending popularity of the very best of Memphis Soul music.” “Stax Records,” Mr. Stewart continues, “was my baby.  Stax music was and always will be inspirational. I am so pleased that the music we created and recorded at Stax is still being discovered, and it continues to reside in the hearts of devotees everywhere that know the joy and power of ‘real’ music.”

Stewart and Axton, who changed the name of the label from Satellite Records to Stax in 1960, soon had a self-contained soul music powerhouse, complete with its own recording studio, a growing staff of A&R personnel, songwriters, producers, an inimitable house band, as well as Stax Publicist, Deanie Parker, who continues to fortify the legacy of Stax in Soulsville, USA. “Through the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, the label’s rich musical and cultural history can be studied, felt and enjoyed,” Parker offers. “Stax’s iconic hits and artists come to life through students at the Stax Music Academy and live on thanks to The Soulsville Charter School. And now, partners Concord and Rhino are unleashing some of the first R&B songs from the womb of Stax Records—music that we’ve grown up loving for more than half a century. It’s free at last,” Parker adds.

During its 15-year run, Stax released more than 800 singles and nearly 300 LPs, winning eight GRAMMY® Awards, plus an Academy Award along the way. The label placed more than 167 hit songs in the Top 100 pop charts, and a staggering 243 hits in the Top 100 R&B charts. Today, the original site of Stax Records is home to The Soulsville Foundation, which operates the multi-million dollar campus that houses the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, as well as the Stax Music Academy and The Soulsville Charter School, both of which serve primarily at-risk, inner-city youth. The Soulsville Foundation aims to impart the spirit and soul upon which Stax Records was founded: using the power of music and opportunity to shape a young person’s life, rebuild a community and keep valuable history alive forever.




A much-needed look at an overlooked side of the genius of Quincy Jones – not his jazz work, not his productions for famous soul artists, but instead his huge legacy of soundtrack material – a part of Q's career that really took off in the 60s! By the time he started working in films, Jones had already had a decade under his belt as one of the hippest arrangers, leaders, and composers in jazz – and the film business really respected those talents, and allowed Quincy to bring some really fresh styles into play – modes that really opened up the vibe of American cinema, and also paved the way for the funky styles of the 70s! As that decade approached, Jones left behind the cinema to take on some more higher-profile records of his own – but all the charms of those great albums can be found here at their roots – in this stunning collection of soundtrack material, some of which has never been on CD. The package is way more than just a sampler – and includes an album's worth of material from the films The Pawnbroker, Slender Thread, Mirage, The Deadly Affair, In The Heat Of The Night, In Cold Blood, Walk Don't Run, The Italian Job, Lost Man, and John & Mary – plus two versions of the love theme from The Getaway, and a bonus CD with 18 tracks – titled Q's highlights, and featuring tracks from his Mercury records – plus more by Billy Preston, Arthur Prysock, Bill Cosby, Shirley Horn, Letta Mbulu, Toots Thielemans, and others. Even features the "Sanford & Son" and "Ironside" themes! ~ Dusty Groove


Fantastic sounds from Eric Roberson – one of the best contemporary soul singers of the past decade or two – and an artist who never fails to blow us away with his music! This time around, Roberson is even more positive and upbeat than ever – both in his lyrics, which have always had such strength, and in the construction of his songs – which have this completely captivating quality right from the start, and make us wonder, once again, why Eric isn't one of the bigger soul stars around the globe! The album's only an EP – with a total of 6 songs, one with Glenn Lewis – but it delivers a level of satisfaction that blows away most of his mainstream contemporaries. Titles include "Looking For", "Million Dollars", "Dreams Don't Have Deadlines", "The Hospital Song", and "Superman". ~ Dusty Groove


Christian Sands is a mighty warm piano player – a musician who's clearly got a great reach and range on the keyboard, but always comes across with a very personal, spontaneous sort of vibe! Sands could clearly overstate his case if he wanted – but he's also one of those pianists who know just how to hang back in the right way – letting the space around the notes do just as much work as the notes themselves – in a beautifully-linked core trio that includes Yasushi Nakamura on bass and Marcus Baylor on drums. Other elements come into the music at times – tenor and bass clarinet from Marcus Strickland, guitar from Gilad Hekselman, and percussion from Cristian Rivera – but it's the core cohesion of the trio that really makes the record sparkle – a fantastic setting for Sands' well-timed, well-chosen notes. Titles include "Song Of The Rainbow People", "Armando's Song", "Gangstalude", "Use Me", "Reaching For The Sun", "Freefall", and "Oyeme". ~  Dusty Groove



Vanessa Farley may be a relatively obscure soul singer from New Jersey – but she sings here with a sophisticated style that's like the best female artists on the 70s Philly scene! Vanessa is the cousin of Phyllis Hyman, and definitely has an influence from that side of the spectrum – but we also hear echoes of some of the Philly International work of Jean Carn, and maybe even The Jones Girls in the way the tunes are put together. The production and instrumentation is great – very classic overall, as is the structure of the songs – and titles include "Shake It Up Tonight", "I'm Not Waiting", "I'm In Love Again", "Someday We'll All Be Free", "No One Can Love You More Than I", "I'm Hurtin Deep Down Inside", and "When You Coming Home". ~ Dusty Groove


The long-overdue return of People's Choice – a great Philly group who gave us some killer funky 45s in the late 60s, then moved towards more of a clubby groove in the following decade! The sound here is much more in that later vibe by the group – produced and arranged by Butch Ingram, who works the right sort of studio magic to make these guys sound surprisingly youthful overall and really strip down to the funky core of their sound! The group handles most of the instrumentation on the rhythms, and also does a great job of trading vocal lines back and forth – which really opens up the more party-hearty side of their sound – on cuts that include "Let's Groove", "Jammin Philly Style", "Party Is A Groovy Thing", "Do It Any Way You Wanna", "Nursery Rhymes", "TSOP", "I Wanna Know Your Name", and "Jam Jam Jam". ~ Dusty Groove


A fantastic set from one of our all-time favorite saxophonists – a musician who gave us a flurry of wonderful albums in the 80s and 90s, but hasn't graced the record racks as much in recent years! Fortunately, Bobby Watson's lost none of his charms at all – and really sounds beautiful here in some very familiar company – the trio of bassist Curtis Lundy, one of Watson's first important musical partners – which also features Stephen Scott on piano and Lewis Nash on drums! The group's got every bit of the soulful swing that you might expect – and Watson soars out with those sublime note on alto sax that we first fell in love with when he was part of the Jazz Messengers in the 70s. The material is very fresh too – as the set includes loads of originals by Bobby – reminding us again what a hell of a writer he can be – on titles that include "The Aviator", "The Cyclist", "The Goat", "The Luckey", "The Real Lone Ranger", "The Butterfly", and "The Guitarist". ~ Dusty Groove

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Pat Metheny, Dr. John, Robert Glasper Experiment, The Isley Brothers, Laura Mvula, Kool & The Gang, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jacob Collier, Hiromi, Eddie Palmieri, Cassandra Wilson, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, McCoy Tyner, Incognito, Jean-Luc Ponty, Henry Butler, Terence Blanchard, The Hot Sardines, Dayme Arocena & More: June 1-30 throughout New York City

New York, NY - April 25, 2017 - With over 100 events in 10 venues throughout New York City, the 2017 Blue Note Jazz Festival returns June 1 through 30.

The seventh annual festival will feature a diverse lineup of high-profile artists including music legends Pat Metheny, Dr. John, and Jerry Lee Lewis; iconic groups such as The Isley Brothers, Kool & The Gang, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and Incognito; jazz staples Hiromi, Eddie Palmieri (currently in residency at Subrosa NYC through August), Cassandra Wilson, and McCoy Tyner; breakout artists Jacob Collier, The Hot Sardines (month-long residency at Blue Note Jazz Club), and Dayme Arocena; as well as two special Central Park SummerStage shows featuring Laura Mvula (with Taylor McFerrin & Marcus Gilmore and Introducing Blue Lab Beats - Presented by Jill Newman Productions) and the Robert Glasper Experiment (with Phony Ppl plus Tank and the Bangas); and many more.

Established in 2011, the Blue Note Jazz Festival was initially formed to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Greenwich Village's iconic Blue Note Jazz Club. Presented by Blue Note Entertainment Group, which owns and operates the venue lineup of Blue Note Jazz Club, B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, Highline Ballroom, Subrosa NYC (located in the Meatpacking District), and Lucille's Grill, the festival has quickly grown into an annual 30-day event, emerging as the city's largest jazz festival, with each venue offering its own unique cultural contribution to the New York City musical landscape. Additional festival venues and co-presenters this year include Beacon Theatre, Kings Theatre, The Town Hall, Central Park SummerStage, and Jill Newman Productions.

Additional headliners at Blue Note Jazz Club, B.B. King Blues Club, Highline Ballroom, and Subrosa include Michel Camilo, Danilo Pérez/John Patitucci/Brian Blade Trio, Candy Dulfer, Robert Cray, Valerie Simpson, Gary U.S. Bonds, Pedrito Martinez, Bria Skonberg, and The Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra, among others to be announced.

Trumpeter/Vocalist Bob Merrill Celebrates the Musical Legacy of Pianist/Songwriter Joe Bushkin with "Tell Me Your Troubles: Songs by Joe Bushkin, Vol. 1"

Coinciding with the centennial of pianist and composer Joe Bushkin's birth, the release on May 19 by trumpeter and singer Bob Merrill of Tell Me Your Troubles: Songs by Joe Bushkin, Vol. 1 (Accurate Records) celebrates the musical legacy of a man who was revered by many of America's foremost entertainers for his wizardry at the keyboard and skills as a tunesmith. He also happened to be Merrill's father-in-law.

Bushkin penned songs with his longtime lyricist John DeVries or the great Johnny Burke in the repertoires of the likes of Sinatra (Joe's "Oh! Look at Me Now" was Frank's first hit), Bing Crosby, Nat "King" Cole, Benny Goodman, Louis Jordan, and countless others. This first volume of a planned two-album commemorative project pays reverential tribute to Bushkin's oeuvre and its special blend of mood and merriment on contemporary interpretations of 10 songs ranging from the popular to the obscure. The album opens and closes with archival spoken word salutes to Bushkin by Sinatra and comedian Red Buttons.

Cut from the same engaging entertainer's cloth as Bushkin -- not to mention trumpeter-singers like Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Prima, and Chet Baker -- Merrill was already performing crowd-pleasers like "Oh! Look at Me Now" and "Boogie Woogie Blue Plate" (a 1947 hit for Louis Jordan and his Tympani Five) before he met his future wife Christina and bonded with her gregarious father. "These songs have such a timeless, universal appeal," says Merrill. "I really hope the album exposes them to a new generation. Maybe Harry Connick, Diana Krall, Michael Bublé, or even Lady Gaga will give them new life."

Tell Me Your Troubles is full of classic tunes and rediscoveries, charismatic vocals, swinging solos, and sparkling arrangements and presents Merrill at his elegant best, whether showcasing his brass palette of trumpet, cornet, and flugelhorn or his smooth Tormé-like vocals, easy articulation, and natural enthusiasm. In addition to the A-List rhythm section of guitarist Howard Alden, bassist Nicki Parrott, and drummer Steve Johns, the album features an illustrious list of guest artists including saxophonist Harry Allen, trombonist/singer Wycliffe Gordon, cabaret star Eric Comstock, guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, and pianist Laurence Hobgood.

Joe Bushkin and Bob Merrill A previously unreleased performance of "Oh! Look at Me Now!," from Bushkin's final recording session in 2003 with Merrill, Howard Alden, and drummer Duffy Jackson, is one of the album's standouts. "Joe's tempo for the song had increased over the years," says Merrill, "but I suggested we slow it down to the tempo of Sinatra's later version, from the 1957 album Swingin' Affair on Capitol." (Pictured at left: Bushkin and Merrill, 2003.)

"I got to spend a lot of time with Joe, always looking over his shoulder, absorbing stuff by osmosis," recalls Merrill, who coaxed Bushkin out of retirement in the early 1990s and performed with him at festivals and clubs such as New York's Tavern on the Green and L.A.'s Jazz Bakery until his passing in 2004 at age 87. He also produced and wrote liner notes for CD reissues of four Bushkin albums, including last fall's release of Live at the Embers (Dot Time Legends) from 1952.

Born in Manhattan in 1958, Bob Merrill traces his early interest in jazz to the fact that Benny Goodman lived in the penthouse of the building he grew up in on the Upper East Side. After his father took him to a Tonight Show taping where he heard Doc Severinsen, Merrill devoted himself to the trumpet (Bushkin's second instrument). He studied with William Vacchiano, first trumpet of the New York Philharmonic, and received improv tips as a teen from Red Rodney. Merrill attended both the New England Conservatory of Music (studying with Jaki Byard, in whose Apollo Stompers he played) and Harvard, where he co-founded a jazz concert series at the Hasty Pudding Club and led a house band for such visiting artists as Illinois Jacquet, George Coleman, Lee Konitz, and Warne Marsh.

Merrill released his first album as a leader, Catch as Catch Can, in 1997, the same year he was featured on American Movie Classics leading the AMC Orchestra on the series Gotta Dance! His second album, Got a Bran' New Suit, featured pianist Bill Charlap among others. It was followed by Christmastime at the Adirondack Grill, and then the wildly eclectic Cheerin' Up the Universe (2015), which featured pianist John Medeski and trombonist Roswell Rudd.

On Thursday May 4, Merrill will preside over a Joe Bushkin Centennial concert at the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center (199 Chambers Street, Manhattan), part of Jack Kleinsinger's Highlights in Jazz series. Featured performers include several from the new CD's cast (Wycliffe Gordon, Eric Comstock, Nicki Parrott, John Colianni, Harry Allen) as well as pianists Ted Rosenthal and Spike Wilner. 


Saxophonist ELAN TROTMAN adds EDM beats to his Caribbean-jazz fusion on new release ELECTRO SAX

Saxophonist Elan Trotman is unwavering in his committed to wave the flag high for Caribbean music, but after releasing six soul-jazz albums and more than ten chart-topping singles that made him a permanent fixture on radio playlists, the Barbados native is “shaking it up” by going electronic on “Electro Sax,” his seventh outing which was released last Friday (April 21) by Island Muzik Productions.

Seeking a “hip radio sound that will reach beyond the masses,” Trotman assembled a creative team of up-and-coming producers – Spardakis, P-Nut, Dr. O and Da Troof - who he met at Boston’s esteemed Berklee College of Music and tasked them with putting a fresh, modern twist on the eleven new tracks that he wrote for the collection. With electronic elements evident in the production of Trotman’s tenor and soprano sax and the adventurous EDM sonicscapes, the result is an energizing, dance-happy mix of impromptu jazz sax licks, kinetic dance beats and festive Caribbean rhythms. Adding nuances to the audacious alchemy are guitarists Wayne Jones, Freddie Fox and JJ Sansavarino, and steel pan player Kareem Thompson. The first single set to seduce radio is the reggae-infused “Island Gal’,” which spotlights Trotman on soprano sax on the cut he describes as having “a sexy vibe to it.” Prince fans will appreciate the balladic tribute “Purple Emotion” that closes the set. The session’s lone cover is a tropical, dance hall take of Walk The Moon’s infectious pop smash “Shut Up and Dance.” 

“’Electro Sax’ is a true representation of where I am at in my career. It’s modern sounding with prominent hints of the island. It’s also about branching out, reaching out by making good music for the masses. It’ll definitely ruffle feathers, but that is part of being an artist - pushing boundaries and perhaps establishing new ones,” said Trotman. “The ‘tropicality’ elements are part of who I am and I’m sticking with it. It’ll always be part of my sound and I believe in it. It is part of my brand and it’s authentic to my (Barbadian) roots.”

Trotman showcases and shares the culture of his homeland at his annual Barbados Jazz Excursion, slated to take place on the Caribbean island for the fourth time in October over Columbus Day Weekend (October 6-9, 2017). The saxman performs and hosts the music festival and golf tournament that benefits his nonprofit Never Lose Your Drive Foundation and the Head Start Music Program in Barbados. Slated to perform this year are R&B and contemporary jazz mainstays Will Downing, Norman Brown, Marion Meadows, Brian Simpson, Jeanette Harris and Julian Vaughn as well as the Queen of Soca, Alison Hinds.
Earning a full scholarship at Berklee College of Music from the government of Barbados, Trotman has lived in Boston ever since. Named the Jazz Artist of the Year on multiple occasions by the New England Urban Music Awards and the Barbados Music Awards, he debuted as a solo artist in 2009 with “This Time Around.” Subsequent albums featured collaborations with Grammy winners Kirk Whalum, Terri Lyne Carrington and Paul Brown as well as Downing, Peter White, Jeff Lorber, Cindy Bradley, Tony Terry and Simpson. Trotman has also guested on Billboard No. 1 hits by Meadows, Simpson, Vaughn, Greg Manning and Cal Harris. He’s a popular draw on the festival and club circuit. For more information, please visit

The songs on “Electro Sax” are:

“Happy Place”
“Electro Sax”
“Barbados Breeze”
“Island Gal’”
“Chill Cat”
“Shut Up and Dance”
“Up In The Clouds”
“No Need For Trippin’”
“120 BPM”
“Purple Emotion”

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


TIED TOGETHER, NOT TO THE GROUND (available on Red Piano Records, May 12, 2017) is the debut album from bassist/composer/bandleader Andrew Schiller. The artist unveils his unique writing style in this evocative 10-song collection, showcasing a group of adventurous and like-minded musicians.

The compositions on this album cover a broad spectrum but maintain a strong underlying theme through Schiller's unifying compositional aesthetic. The album's title refers to Schiller's own attempt to hold on to his identity, his memories, and his beliefs without letting the weight of nostalgia cause stagnation. Songs from the record conjure up an array of remembrances and imagery-pivotal places, experiences, and people encountered-not just as a scrapbook of journeys, but as a gentle reminder to take the occasional leap forward into the unknown.
The first track, LITTLE SHOES, begins with a sparse mantra-like statement between saxophone and drums. The introduction of an intervallic counter-melody signals the gradual transformation of the theme and the piece takes on a lush yearning quality. The metronomic full-band counterpoint eventually drops out to feature a patient, lyrical bass solo from Schiller. The storytelling continues with a winding and melodic tenor saxophone solo from Hery Paz before a brief re-statement of the theme.

GO GET 'EM TIGER! comes out with guns blazing, a dynamic contrapuntal duel between the horns and rhythm section. The fragmented waltz emulates the gyrating of a fan with a broken blade rather than the glide of a ballroom dance. In a contrasting bridge section, the two saxophonists harmonize a repetitive figure, which ultimately serves as the springboard for an ascending piano/bass unison melody. Solos from Alec Harper (tenor sax) and Frank Carlberg (piano) build on the momentum of the piece.

Dancing to TINK TINK would require some well-timed and hiccupy choreography, but the song does have an infectious quality that makes one want to move. The bubbly melody, played in harmony by the saxophonists, makes frequents steps away from a home key but remains memorable nonetheless. Soloists Schiller (bass), Paz (tenor sax), and Robin Baytas (drums) not only navigate the form with deftness, but build upon the sing-song, frolicking nature of the tune.

The tone of ONE THAT NEVER WAS is set by Schiller's solo bass introduction. The piece takes on the melancholic feel of an old western film (a natural landscape for Schiller, who grew up in Arizona). In this analogy, the two tenor saxophonists, Harper followed by Paz, play the role of weary riders and deliver their stories with as much hardiness and grit.

GLUCKSCHMERZ is a five-and-a-half minute roller coaster ride. The break-neck, intervallic melody is matched by an equally turbulent counter-line from the rhythm section. The improvisation begins with the two tenor saxophonists, Harper and Paz, trading phrases. This quickly turns into a full-band rollicking collective improvisation. A drum solo from Baytas emerges from all of this, catapulting the piece towards a restatement of the melody.

Rubato drums set the stage for CFBDSIR-2149 (WANDERING PLANET) before a three-part chorale featuring both saxophones and arco bass. The trance is later broken by Frank Carlberg's punctuated piano solo which carries over into the second rendition of the chorale. A pulse materializes and the piece is seen out by an interlocking melody played by the whole group.

HEAD DOWN, WALK begins with both saxophonists playing in close harmony to the beat of a mechanical march from the drums. The introduction of a jagged counterpoint line, doubled by piano and bass, adds to the robotic nature of the piece. Contrasting solos from Carlberg and Harper create a nice ebb-and-flow and invite fascinating interplay from the rhythm section. Fragments of the melody are later intertwined with a drum solo before the reemergence of the main theme.

SKEGNESS IS SO BRACING is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to an early 20th century postcard depicting a jolly fisherman skipping down the coast of the English fishing town. The melody of this comical waltz features some quirky phrase lengths and shifting tonal centers-like a music box that isn't working quite right. Alec Harper, Frank Carlberg, and Hery Paz trade several short solos atop a swinging rhythm section.

The title track, TIED TOGETHER, NOT TO THE GROUND, is introduced by a brief meditation. This ballad drifts patiently forward without a strongly defined beat and the melody is divided between the saxophonists (first Harper, then Paz). A piano solo from Frank Carlberg emphasizes the nostalgic and playful character of the piece. The return of the melody builds momentarily in intensity but dissipates gradually, finally reaching the finish line at a crawl.

The album's brief send-off, WANDER, is a reinterpretation of an earlier track, this time with the three-part chorale performed on the piano. The rest of the ensemble staggers their entrances and dance around the melody, sparsely at first, but gradually coming to the forefront as the song fades away.

A native of Phoenix, AZ, Andrew Schiller is currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. Schiller's attraction to music stems from junior high school where his friends urged him to pick up the bass guitar and join their punk rock band. While his musical tastes have evolved a lot since then, he still aspires to replicate the same gusto and fearlessness he had as a boy playing music in a friend's garage. Schiller grew up studying both the saxophone and electric bass and later transitioned to the double bass, finding a powerful connection to the instrument. As a young adult, he discovered his love for composition and gradually carved out a unique voice after years spent imitating an array of musical icons.

Over the last decade, Schiller has moved from Phoenix to Boston to New York City, working as both a bandleader and sideman in various musical styles-the bulk of his concentration on jazz and improvised music. He's performed his music all over the world at venues like Cornelia Street Cafe (NYC), the Jazz Showcase (Chicago), the Panama Jazz Festival, and as a guest artist with the National Symphony of Paraguay in Asunción. Andrew holds a master's degree from the New England Conservatory where his mentors included Dave Holland, Billy Hart, and Ralph Alessi. In 2012, he was recognized in DownBeat Magazine for his work as a soloist and was awarded the ASCAP Young Composers Grant in February 2014.


"Chapter Five," the Paul Tynan & Aaron Lington Bicoastal Collective, Set for Release May 19

Bicoastal Collective Chapter Five Since joining forces in 2008 as the Bicoastal Collective, trumpeter Paul Tynan and baritone saxophonist Aaron Lington have recorded a series of outstanding albums ranging in instrumentation from tentet to quintet to sextet to a quintet featuring a Hammond B-3 organist. Chapter Five, their fifth album and the first with a full 18-piece big band, adds a sumptuous new volume to the duo's already impressive discography. The new CD will be released May 19 by OA2 Records.

As on its predecessors, Tynan and Lington shared writing and arranging credits; each contributed four compositions to the new recording."Our goal with every project has been to do all-original music, always with a different ensemble," Lington explains. "It's always been our dream to do a big-band record, and we were finally able to make this happen." The result is a highly original take on the trumpet-baritone frontline tradition pioneered by jazz masters who inspired them, such as Thad Jones-Pepper Adams and Chet Baker-Gerry Mulligan.

Despite living on opposite sides of North America -- hence the name Bicoastal Collective -- Tynan and Lington have remained friends over the decades since meeting at University of North Texas, where both began work on their master's degrees in 1998 and both played in the school's One O'Clock Lab Band a year apart. (Tynan now lives in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where he's a Professor at St. Francis Xavier University, while Lington is Coordinator of Jazz Studies at San Jose State University in California.) They started recording together when both were in San Jose in 2008 and, on Lington's recommendation, Tynan spent a sabbatical year teaching at San Jose State and Chabot College and playing around Northern California with the likes of Poncho Sanchez, Keely Smith, and, of course, Lington.

Arranging for the session to take place at the mid-continental point of Dallas (also close to their alma mater in Denton), Tynan and Lington recorded Chapter Five over two days in July 2016 with 16 handpicked players. "We wanted to record an album featuring all the people who we really trusted with the music," says Tynan. "A lot of them are our best friends, people we've worked with in the past or some we went to school with."

The music on Chapter Five ranges from "Two Views," an extremely swinging Lington composition that finds Tynan and drummer Stockton Helbing in an inspired musical dialogue over the band's aggressive ensemble work, to "I Remember Every Day," which features solos by Lington and guitarist Noel Johnston and was inspired by a hypnotic groove by drummer Omar Hakim.

Tynan penned "Charting Stars," which features his warm solos on flugelhorn, as a showcase for David Lown's soulful tenor saxophone. Tynan's ballad "Karma's Song" spotlights Lington's rich, at times biting baritone saxophone solo over the lovely ensemble arrangement.

Paul Tynan Paul Tynan was born in 1975 in Fort Erie, Ontario. The family moved to Houston when he was 5 and to Buffalo when he was 13. He took up the trumpet in the sixth grade. At the Crane School of Music/SUNY in Potsdam, New York, he studied with trombonist and composer Bret Zvacek and heard some of the university's jazz groups. He didn't begin playing jazz, however, until he met trumpeter Tim Hagans during a trip to Sweden.

Aaron Lington Aaron Lington was born in1974 in Houston and raised in nearby Highlands, Texas, where he played piano, violin, and guitar before taking up alto and baritone saxophones in high school. While doing his undergraduate work at the University of Houston, he did a number of short tours with rock 'n' roll legend Bo Diddley, with whom he played tenor sax.

After earning his master's in 2001, Tynan began working at St. Francis Xavier University, where he presently teaches jazz trumpet, jazz history, and arranging. His arrangements, many of which have been recorded by college jazz bands, are available from Maxwell Tree Music, Eighth Note Publications, UNC Jazz Press, and Walrus Music Publishing.

After receiving his doctorate from North Texas in 2004, Lington accepted his current position at San Jose State University. His charts have been performed by the Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau and the Count Basie Orchestra, as well as by the Pacific Mambo Orchestra, in which he plays. Four of the numbers on the 19-member mambo orchestra's 2014 Grammy Award-winning debut album were arranged by Lington.

Tynan feels Chapter Five is the finest recorded example to date of the unique trumpet-and-baritone sax style he and Lington have created. Now that they've recorded their dream big-band album, the two are already talking about the Bicoastal Collective's next chapter: a trumpet-baritone-bass-and-drums set with no pianist using the same instrumentation Mulligan's famous piano-less quartet but in their own distinctive style. Chapter Six and counting.   

Music Giants Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, John Medeski, and John Scofield, Join Forces on "Hudson"

New York's idyllic Hudson River Valley has been a rich source of inspiration for many millennia, from its rich sacred and artistic native American heritage, to the rise of the 19th century Hudson River School (America's first recognizable non-native school of art) to the folk and rock movement that led to the era-defining Woodstock Festival of 1969, to Pete Seeger's Clearwater movement and the burgeoning locavore movement with its craft wineries, breweries and wide spread indie arts and craft scene the area is home to more artists per-capita than any other area in the country, including New York City. Now, the next chapter in that remarkable history arrives in the form of Hudson, an awe-inspiring new collective that brings together four of the world's most influential jazz musicians who are writing a new chapter in the marriage of jazz and rock which began with Miles Davis in the 1970s.

On their own, drummer Jack DeJohnette, bassist Larry Grenadier, keyboardist/organist John Medeski and guitarist John Scofield can each boast careers that are stunning in their diversity and reach, building impressive audiences across a wide range of genres and styles from jazz to rock and beyond. Together they comprise the rare supergroup worthy of the name. What's brought them together is not just their similarly adventurous and virtuosic music, but a shared love for the scenery and spirit of the Hudson River Valley, which all four call home.

The group's extraordinary self-titled debut, Hudson (out June 9 via Motéma Music), strikingly captures the atmosphere and beauty of the region while celebrating the extraordinary music that has emerged from it. Mixing original music with thrilling renditions of world-famous songs by the likes of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix and The Band's Robbie Robertson, Hudson has created an album as spectacular and breathtaking as the Hudson Valley itself.
The prolific foursome first came together in 2014 at the Woodstock Jazz Festival. The collective immediately recognized their electrifying chemistry and agreed that the project needed to continue. Not that most were strangers to one another: DeJohnette and Scofield first played together nearly four decades ago and have since combined forces in their co-led Trio Beyond as well as in Herbie Hancock's ground breaking New Standards ensemble. Guitar-master Scofield, equally adept at soulful jazz and R&B has recorded four albums with Medeski Martin & Wood, the trio known for melding the jazz and jam band worlds, while Grenadier has played with all three in different contexts. Adding to the fun, they spend this year celebrating the 75th birthday of NEA Jazz Master and GRAMMY®-winner DeJohnette.

Just a two hour drive but a world away, the Hudson Valley has long provided a retreat for those looking to maintain a lifeline to Manhattan's vibrant metropolis but a lifestyle apart from its frenetic pace, its combination of scenic splendor and easy access to the city's cultural hub making it an ideal source of respite and inspiration for artists. "All of us built our careers in the city and then moved out to the Hudson Valley to raise our kids and have a home," Scofield says, who is coming off consecutive GRAMMY® Award wins in 2016 and 17. "One thing that we all have in common is that although we're urban musicians, we left the city to live in nature."

DeJohnette moved to the Valley in the early '70s, enticed by members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, who pulled up stakes not long after while DeJohnette stayed. Relative newcomers Medeski and Grenadier both made the move in the early 2000s. "A lot of creative energy was going on up here at that time," DeJohnette says of his early days. "I got a chance to get to know all the members of The Band and was a big fan of their music. Their tunes take me back to when I was a kid coming up in Chicago and listening to all kinds of music. There's a lot of cultural history in that music."

"This area has been a place for musicians to come to retreat," Medeski says. "There's performing, but there's also writing and practicing and growing and going deeper. Traditionally people have come to this environment to search and grow. To woodshed."

Grenadier concurs with the idea of the valley as a place not to play so much as to recharge and absorb the lessons learned on stages elsewhere. "People seem to come up here to have some quiet and soak up everything that they've taken in from living in the city and touring," he says. "The atmosphere that Jack described in the '70s still exists, in that there's a real cultural awareness and creative energy that exists in all aspects of life around here, so I think it attracts the artistic spirit."

Hudson conjures that spirit in a variety of stirring ways, from the blues-reggae feel of Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay" to the meditative vibe of Mitchell's "Woodstock" to the New Orleans swing of The Band's "Up On Cripple Creek." Hudson's originals cover territory including the electric abstract organic funk of their collectively improvised namesake track, the simmering, Latin-accented groove of Sco's "El Swing," and the defiant "Dirty Ground," featuring DeJohnette's moving, earthy vocals. The closer, "Great Spirit Peace Chant," pays tribute to the Native American tribes that were the first to settle the area, with the whole band joining in with chants, percussion and wood flutes.

The album was recorded, at Scott Petito's NRS Recording Studios, nestled between the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River and sharing the welcoming feel of the valley's homes. "Being up here in the mountains where you have some peace and tranquility, in a small, intimate room, the spiritual bond was definitely there," DeJohnette says. "We didn't feel stressed about recording. It was relaxed, so the music comes out that way. It has spirit and intensity and presence, but it also has a calm as well."

Pastoral yet exhilarating, gorgeous yet thrilling, historic yet intimate, serene yet inspiring: these are the elements that make the Hudson Valley an ideal destination and Hudson a landmark recording.

Hudson Tour Dates
June 8 - San Francisco Jazz Festival, San Francisco, CA
June 9 - Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara, CA
June 10 - Playboy Jazz Festival, Los Angeles, CA
June 11 - Chautauqua Park, Boulder, Colorado
June 18 - Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, Pittsburgh, PA
June 24 - Ottawa Jazz Festival, Ottawa, ON
June 25 - Saratoga Jazz Festival, Saratoga, NY
June 29 - Toronto Jazz Festival, Toronto, ON
June 30 - Montreal Jazz Festival, Montreal, QC
August 6 - Newport Jazz Festival, Newport, RI
October 4 - Bardavon 1869 Opera House, Poughkeepsie, NY
October 6-7 - Rose Theater @ Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York, NY
October 8 - Berklee Performing Arts Center, Boston, MA
October 14 - Sheldon Arts Center, St. Louis, MO
October 15 - Yardley Hall, Overland Park, KS
October 17 - Jack Singer Concert Hall, Calgary, AB
October 18 - Chan Centre For The Performing Arts, Vancouver, BC
October 19 - Moore Theater, Seattle, WA
October 21 - Mondavi Center, Davis, CA
October 22 - The Green Music Center, Rohnert Park, CA
October 23 - Newmark Theater, Portland, OR
October 25 - Piper Theatre, Mesa, AZ
October 26 - Lensic Performing Arts Center, Santa Fe, NM

Guitarist Blake Aaron is Sirius about making it a “VIVID” spring

Guitarist Blake Aaron has been featured multiple times on SiriusXM over the past week as part of Jazz Appreciation Month just as his vibrant new single, “VIVID,” is preparing to bloom brightly. The third single issued in advance of his upcoming “Color and Passion” album, Aaron wrote and produced the multihued bouquet of invigorating instrumental dance music, power pop horns and glossy R&B grooves that surround fragrant stems of fresh electric jazz guitar flourishes. On the way to radio stations now with an April 24 playlist add date, the perfectly-timed spring fling should happily satiate listeners until Blake’s sixth album streets this fall on Innervision Records.

Recently, the national satellite radio broadcaster’s Watercolors aired a live concert performance by Aaron recorded at the SiriusXM studios in Washington, DC. Thereafter,, the guitarist who hosted his own nationally syndicated radio show for seven years hung out on the “Dave Koz Lounge” with the affable sax sensation. Two weeks ago, Aaron served as guest DJ on the Tuesday show and although he took command of the air waves, he didn’t sneak in the new single before the official add date.

“No, not yet,” he chuckled. “’VIVID’ is my feel good track of the spring/summer. With real Earth, Wind & Fire-style horns and tons of energetic, bright melodic hooks, I am proud to say that this is one of my most infectious grooves and most intense productions I've done to date. Vivid is how I try to live my life and it is how I try to teach my kids to live their lives. Be uniquely you - boldly and with passion. Be you - vividly.”    
Aaron’s last collection, 2015’s “Soul Stories,” spawned five Billboard Top 10 singles. “Color and Passion” aims to continue his run of chart success with a chromatic and intense fusion of sounds and styles – funk, R&B, soul, jazz, rock, blues and Latin music. While the first three singles - “Summer Ride,” “Godfather Brown” and “VIVID” - are upbeat and full of life, the disc will also include intimate ballads allowing Aaron to showcase his lyrically expressive guitar on downtempo numbers.    

Aaron recently plied his soulful fretwork on three songs for urban-jazz chart-topper Najee’s forthcoming set. The in-demand session player, sideman, producer and songwriter will celebrate his birthday with an April 29 concert at Southern California hotspot Spaghettini in Seal Beach where he will be joined by two-time Grammy winner Bill Champlin, a singer-songwriter and keyboardist who spent 28 years as a member of the legendary band Chicago. Aaron will hit the road Memorial Day Weekend for performances at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival in Florida (May 26), St. James Live! in Atlanta, GA on a bill shared with saxophonist Tom Braxton and vocalist Kevin Whalum (May 27), and a headline date with Braxton at The King Center in Melbourne, FL (May 28).  


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