Without Allen Toussaint, New Orleans’ crucial musical transition from blazing 1950s rock and roll to the second-line funk grooves of the ‘60s might have fizzled out altogether. As the Crescent City’s preeminent producer, arranger, composer, and session pianist, his visionary contributions provided the seminal bridge to a new sound for a new decade. “I just love writing, and it seems to even embellish more as time goes on,” says the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, who had more to do with the modernization of New Orleans R&B than anyone else.
Herlin Riley – Perpetual Optimism
“I want to live in a world where my glass is always half full!” That’s the inspiring maxim of New Orleans master drummer Herlin Riley. On his second Mack Avenue Records release, Perpetual Optimism, the longtime anchor of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra preaches his silver-lined gospel on 10 tracks whose joyous spirit and contagious swing are sure to convert any listener to the bright side. Since his Mack Avenue debut New Direction, all four of Riley’s bandmates have been making major waves across the modern jazz scene, attesting to the master drummer’s Art Blakey-like ear for talent and sage musical guidance.
Candace Bellamy – This Feeling
A fresh, powerfully soulful presence on the Smooth Jazz scene, physician by day, soul singer by night Candace Bellamy’s new EP, the gorgeously produced THIS FEELING, indeed feels like a heartfelt revelation. In only three tracks, she artfully portrays the bleakness of heartbreak, the wonderful promise of a lifelong love and, via a breezy reworking of a Roberta Flack classic, the sensual intensity of love in full bloom. In 2018, she had the opportunity to portray the legendary soul singer in a production of “The Voices of Donny Hathaway” in her adopted hometown of Austin, TX. Broadwayworld.com called her performance “a stellar turn as Roberta Flack.” Allow yourself to feel THIS FEELING, and you’ll feel exactly as we do about Candace! ~www.smoothjazz.com