Saturday, August 31, 2019

Canadian Pianist Martin Mayer to Headline 20-City China Tour

Martin Mayer will be sharing his music with audiences in 20 Chinese cities during his whirl-wind 27-day tour of the Celestial Empire, starting Sunday September 1. The cross-cultural China tour will offer Chinese audiences a unique experience of Canadian music, and is presented by Poly Culture's Vancouver-headquartered North American subsidiary, Poly Culture North America.

The Vancouver-based award-winning Canadian pianist and composer's style is known as instrumental fusion, a symphonic blend of smooth jazz, classical music, pop, rock and various styles of world music.

Martin Mayer started his music education under the watchful eye of his father, and proceeded to continue with his studies at Canada's Royal Conservatory of Music, as well as graduating from Edmonton's Grant MacEwan University, where he majored in Piano Performance and Composition.

Martin Mayer proceeded to compose, perform and produce a number of albums. All of them have met with enthusiasm from the listening public, and all have received heavy international airplay on traditional, internet and satellite radio stations.

Martin Mayer's concert tours of China began after a Chinese Arts Agency saw the recordings of his self-produced debut concert with a 20-piece orchestra. A 16-city-six-week tour of China took place as a result in 2001, dubbed the biggest tour of any artist in China's modern history.

That is when the Chinese media started calling Martin Mayer Canada's 'Prince of Piano.'

All dates during his subsequent tours of China have played to sold-out houses, entertaining thousands in concert, and millions on Chinese national television.

One of Martin Mayer's proudest moments came recently when his latest album "Unbreakable" was listed as one of the Top 25 New Music Critiques of 2018 (Music Connection Magazine, December 2018). It is one of the few independent Canadian records available on Chinese music-streaming platforms QQ, NetEase, QianQian and Kuwo.

The Beijing Times have taken to calling Martin Mayer Canada's 'Prince of Piano, while Canada's National Post predicts that he's poised to take over the world stage.


Friday, August 30, 2019

New Music Releases: Maxi Priest, Steel Pulse, David Kirton

Maxi Priest – It All Comes Back To Love

International superstar Maxi Priest’s newest album It All Comes Back To Love is now set to release on September 20th, 2019 via S-Curve Records. It All Comes Back To Love was produced entirely by Shaggy, and features special guests including Anthony Hamilton, Estelle, Bounty Killer, Inner Circle, and more. Tracks include: I'm Alright (feat. Shaggy); Free Falling; Cool Nuh (feat. Shaggy); If I Was Your Man; It Call Comes Back To Love; If I Could Change It; It's A Summer Vibe (feat. Bounty Killer & Che Sav); Anything You Want (feat. Estelle, Anthony Hamilton & Shaggy); Out In The Rain (feat. Inner Circle); My Pillow (feat Shaggy); Baby Can You Love Me Slow; Hateful Celebration; Bridge You Burn; and Hard As Me (feat. Noah Powa).

Steel Pulse - Mass Manipulation

The first new album in 15 years from UK reggae legends. Acclaimed as the greatest British reggae band when it emerged in 1978, Steel Pulse is perhaps the last great old-school reggae band left. Mass Manipulation marks Steel Pulse's first album since 2004's African Holocaust. Hinds said of the new LP, For when it comes to addressing the current issues of the world, we hope that this album will be able to sharpen the minds of man to uproot all negativity, and foster embracement; presenting each and every one of us a higher level of consciousness for a harmonious future. In the years since African Holocaust, Steel Pulse has released a handful of singles such as ''Put Your Hoodies On (4 Trayvon),'' in honor of Trayvon Martin, and ''Paint it Black,'' which was released in 2013 to mark what would have been the 100th birthday of Rosa Parks. Steel Pulse will embark on a massive world tour this spring in support of Mass Manipulation. The group's North American leg kicks off March 30th at the Warfield in San Francisco and runs through September 1st, where they'll play the Dry Diggings Festival in Placerville, California. The group plans to announce more tour dates soon.

David Kirton - All Island

David Kirton is an award-winning Reggae crossover singer-songwriter from the Caribbean island of Barbados and has been a quiet storm over the past decade, building a solid catalogue of radio friendly guitar driven songs with reggae rhythms. Kirton says "It was Roots Reggae that captured my senses. My progression as an artist came because I was more relaxed, didn't try to fit into a trendy box, just let my songs flow and represent what I felt inside when I sat down to write them. I feel very comfortable making music my own way, rather than trying to fit in anyone's boots. I love having the freedom to touch people and find success following my own vision. "It all started in a beach side wood shack, quickly moving to a well-received Midem Cannes Showcase in 1999. David has since been awarded multiple Barbados Music Awards including Reggae Artist of the Year and toured the US, opening for the likes of Third World, Steel Pulse, Maxi Priest and Joseph Culture Hill. His trajectory has continued with US and UK tours, multiple festival appearances and various renowned events including Royal Chelsea Flower Show, Toronto Youth Day, Hollywood Bowl Summer Sounds, Reggae on the River, SXSW, Greek Theater Berkeley, Bob Marley Day Long Beach, The Virgin Atlantic Music Festival and Reggae on the Boardwalk in Barbados. Kirton's previous album 'Time For Change' produced the hit Green Camouflage, which charted in Canada, Barbados and dominated the MTV Tempo Charts for over 14 weeks. David's unique and accessible 'feel good' sound is displayed on his fifth studio album 'All Island', produced and recorded in Jamaica with Mikie Bennett. Peppered with infectious hooks, solid drums and bass and tight harmonies, we find reflections of personal and universal truth. Topics like weaponized mosquitoes, human displacement and green industries make you dance, shout, rally, love and laugh


Saxophonist and David Bowie Blackstar bandleader Donny McCaslin today released two new singles, collectively building on the momentum of his critically-acclaimed and genre-transcending album Blow. (released less than one year ago on Motéma Music).

Vocalist and fellow Bowie collaborator Gail Ann Dorsey is featured on McCaslin's first new single “Head of Mine.” The collaboration is timely for Dorsey, who was most recently featured on The National’s new album I Am Easy to Find and subsequent tour dates (as well as working with McCaslin on Blow.). The track centers on the classic personal conflict we go through navigating between our better suited intentions versus our impulsive actions.

“Working with Gail Ann Dorsey is a gift of life for me,” says McCaslin. “She’s a most deeply expressive artist, and absolutely radiates on this track. She and I share a profound ancestry that I humbly cherish. This song is an extension of Blow. For me, It beautifully demonstrates the feeling of restless tranquility. It’s unusual for me not to have saxophone featured on a track but it gives the opportunity for me to lead in a different way and is very in line with the direction I’m headed.”

“There have been many amazing opportunities that have come my way because of my association with David Bowie. One great perk has been the outstanding musicians I’ve had the honour of working with that were part of Bowie’s extraordinary creative circle during my years as a member of that illustrious group,” reflects Dorsey. “Although Donny McCaslin and I did not work together under David’s guidance and vision, there was a ‘connection’ when we met after David's passing, and I could not be happier with the collaborations that have since materialized; first, ‘Eye Of The Beholder’, and now the release of ‘Head Of Mine’. Something about Donny’s compositions and my vocals is a very comfortable and complementary fit, and I think our friend David would agree.”

The second single, “Tokyo,” is an instrumental composition depicting the dense, yet tranquil nature of the city’s iconic “late night” landscape, inspired by McCaslin’s experience touring there.

McCaslin’s latest album Blow. fully realizes McCaslin’s evolved artistic direction and is the most daring work of his two-decade career. As NPR’s Bob Boilen nicely puts it on the popular All Songs Considered when introducing “What About the Body", “It’s that place in music where it’s not anything, and it’s everything...I love this…”

Produced by Steve Wall (Tall Heights, Lucius), Blow. features a top-notch cast of musicians including vocal collaborations with Dorsey, Sun Kil Moon's Mark Kozelek, longtime collaborator Jeff Taylor, and singer-songwriter Ryan Dahle (The Age of Electric, Limblifter, Mounties). Additional heavy hitting instrumentalists include Nate Wood, Zach Danziger, Ben Monder, Jonathan Maron as well as keyboardist Jason Lindner, who was featured on Bowie’s Blackstar with McCaslin. "The idea was to just really go for exploring these collaborations and documenting everything," explains McCaslin, adding that the project had a "good gestation process" and developed "in a way that didn't feel rushed.” "Going all in with new territory is really stimulating to me."

For more information on Donny McCaslin, visit

Thursday, August 29, 2019


This September 18th the SJZ COLLECTIVE embarks on a multi-country Asian tour with performances on some of the most important jazz festivals and clubs in the region.
The group is really excited to be able to showcase the bay area's brand of jazz overseas and connect with the wonderful people and audiences in all these places.

The tour will pass through Japan, Hong Kong, China and Taiwan.

09/20 - MOTION BLUE - Yokohama, JAPAN
09/24 - DDC CLUB - Beijing, CHINA
09/25 - JZ CLUB - Shanghai, CHINA
09/27 - JZ CLUB - Guangzhou, CHINA
09/28 - SAPPHO LIVE - Taipei, TAIWAN
09/29 - BLUE NOTE - Taipei, TAIWAN 

Just before their departure for Asia the SJZ Collective is performing a special fundraising show at the Art Boutiki (one of the premiere music venues in San Jose, CA). All the proceeds form ticket sales will go towards the group's fundraising campaign aimed at offsetting the immense costs of international travel for the formation.

They will be performing their Mingus & Monk program.

Saturday, August 31st
Art Boutiki
San Jose, CA

The "SJZ Collective" - a formation that showcases some of the leading jazz players and improvisers from the Bay Area and especially San Jose has been invited on a multi-nation tour of Asia and has been selected by San Jose Jazz as jazz ambassadors for the city of San Jose.

The group will be traveling to Japan, Hong Kong, all over China, Macau, and all over Taiwan. It is an amazing 14 days tour where they will have the chance to share what the Bay Area has to offer from its extremely diverse and rich musical and cultural traditions with thousands of people is some of the leading cities and communities in Asia with performances at some of the most important jazz clubs and festivals on the region.
The group will also be conducting some workshops and education events as well.
However, with the hardships of the music industry and business in our modern world it is extremely hard or close to impossible to realize this without further financial support and backing from our community and our friends as the expenses of sending 6 people to a different country and city every day are so big that can never be offset by the compensation that the clubs, festivals, and performance organization in Asia can offer.

San Jose Jazz has started a fundraising campaign for the Collective and with all the mutual help of fans, friends, and family they are trying to raise the remaining funds needed to make this a reality.

Every dollar and any amount counts and will greatly help them reach their goal. The campaign is now 33% funded and hopefully they reach the goal by September 15th.
San Jose Jazz is a non profit organization and all donations are also tax deductible.

Camille Harris - New Hip Jazz Album "Baby On The Subway"

Award-winning, Brooklyn-based "silly jazz" singer Camille Harris returns for her fourth release with a team of brilliant jazz players who are in perfect sync with her own blazing vocal and instrumental talents. Camille's wildly creative new album, Baby on the Subway, is set for release on September 13, 2019.

Mixing sparklingly fresh, re-imagined renditions of well-loved traditional children’s songs with her own effervescent tunes, Camille had the benefit of a five-year seasoning at Brooklyn Public Library branches, where she “kid-tested” her music in front of thousands of children.

A sweet sense of humor is never far from the surface of Camille Harris’s songs, and many were originally written to play for adult audiences. “Children have the ability to appreciate sophisticated harmonies and playing, so I wanted to make an album that is both silly and complex, using the most skilled musicians I know,” explains Camille. “Listeners will hear influences ranging from Stevie Wonder, Esperanza Spalding, and Snarky Puppy to Tom Lehrer, Stephen Sondheim, and the joyful sounds coming from today’s NYC jazz scene.”

Because she comes from a musical theater, stand-up comedy, and vocal jazz background, Camille Harris brings to the proverbial children’s music table a body of work that honors all of those traditions. Her own quirky sense of humor and wide-ranging vocal abilities (she’s a classically trained soprano as well as a “Broadway style” belter and an accomplished jazz songstress) set her well apart from the crowd.

Baby on the Subway kicks off with an explosion of up-tempo “Jiggly Wiggly” energy that speaks with a decisive Latin accent, courtesy of a fabulous trumpet solo by Wayne Tucker, Camille’s irrepressible vocals, and outstanding work by drummer Dave Tedeschi and pianist Hila Kulik. Next up is “Chopsticks,” a fun number that jumps into some splendid four-part vocal harmony inspired by the legendary vocal jazz group Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, employing rhyme after rhyme paying homage to Camille’s favorite Chinese restaurant in her home town of Boulder, Colorado.

One of Camille Harris’s first compositions, the pun-filled “Muffin Man” is a fine warm-up for the many puns and jokes heard throughout Baby on the Subway. Here the band employs an elegant swing style that provides a great setting for Camille’s superb jazz improv chops as well as her classy way of handling lyrics. In the funny, Latin-tinged “Procrastination Song (Untitled)” the joke is that Camille has been putting off writing the song’s lyrics, and, alas, she has yet to get around to giving the song a real name!

Camille Harris is a musician, comedian, published playwright, and composer, born and raised in Boulder, Colorado and now living in Brooklyn. Holding a BFA in Musical Theater from Boston’s Emerson College, she teaches music theory, musical theater, piano, and voice. Her compositions have been featured on projects and commercials for clients such as Nickelodeon, Adobe, Merrill Lynch, and more.

A "silly jazz" singer and pianist, Camille has previously released three albums: Where I Go, Silly Jazz, and Beneath the Moon (available on all streaming services).

Baby on the Subway will be available for digital download and streaming at iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby, and other digital retailers. CDs will be available at select retail outlets in NYC, at Sidetracks in Charlottesville, VA, and at Camille Harris’s&& live shows.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Autographed Johnny Mathis Deluxe & Expanded Editions

Real Gone Music’s long love affair with The Voice of Romance continues to burn brightly with two more deluxe and expanded Johnny Mathis releases, both remastered by Mike Piacentini at Sony’s esteemed Battery Studios! First up is a single CD pairing 1976’s I Only Have Eyes for You and 1977’s Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, two albums that reunited Mathis with a pair of his favorite collaborators, producer Jack Gold and arranger Gene Page, for silky renditions of the day’s pop smashes as only Mathis could deliver them.  Page brought the same style of lush orchestration he perfected with Barry White to these sets featuring songs by the top songwriters of the day including Neil Sedaka (“The Hungry Years”), Alan O’Day (“Do Me Wrong, But Do Me”), Stephen Sondheim (“Send in the Clowns”), Marvin Hamlisch (“One”), and the team of Michael Masser and Gerry Goffin (“Do You Know Where You’re Going To,” “I Always Knew I Had It in Me”).  I Only Have Eyes for You introduced the artist’s longtime concert favorite “Yellow Roses on Her Gown” and the Christmas perennial “When a Child Is Born,”while Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me found Mathis saluting his Columbia Records labelmate Barbra Streisand with the romantic “Evergreen,” breathing new life into the vintage standard “All the Things You Are,” and giving a classy spin to the Annie anthem “Tomorrow.” Two outtakes, “Experience” and Stevie Wonder’s spellbinding “If It’s Magic,” round out the package, whose liner notes by The Second Disc’s Joe Marchese feature not just fresh quotes from Johnny himself but also observations from songwriter Harriet Schock (“Ooh, What We Do”)!

Then, we cross over into the ‘80s with our Expanded Edition of Different Kinda Different, Johnny’s first album of the decade, which once again teamed Mathis with producer Jack Gold and arranger Gene Page for a set that lived up to its title.  Two sizzling pop-soul duets with singer Paulette McWilliams, “Different Kinda Different” and “I’d Do It All for You,” are at the heart of an eclectic release that also features tunes by Sammy Cahn, Teddy Randazzo, and Steve Dorff, plus a pair of classic standards (“Deep Purple,” “Temptation”), the timeless disco anthem “I Will Survive,” and the haunting film theme “With You I’m Born Again.”  Real Gone Music and Second Disc Records’ definitive Expanded Edition of Different Kinda Different features nearly an entire album’s worth of bonus tracks–nine in total!  These include a brace of exciting session outtakes such as Johnny’s velvety rendition of Lionel Richie’s “Three Times a Lady” and the new songs recorded for Mathis’ 1981 retrospective The First 25 Years–The Silver Anniversary Album.  The deluxe booklet features new liner notes by The Second Disc’s Joe Marchese drawing upon brand-new interviews with Johnny Mathis and Paulette McWilliams.

Johnny has autographed 100 booklets of each release, which Real Gone Music are giving away to those folks who order these titles from directly from them. But by now you also know that these sell out pretty quickly, so don’t take too long to order!

Pianist Andrés Vial To Release "Gang of Three"

Montreal Pianist Andrés Vial To Release "Gang of Three," Modern Jazz Piano Trio Album of Original Compositions With South American & African Influences
Andres Vial Gang of Three Gang of Three, the stunning new album of originals by Montreal pianist Andrés Vial (pronounced Vee-al) and his fifth as a leader, was written over a two-year period marked by major life events -- becoming a first-time father, and returning to university to complete a Master's degree in jazz piano. It will be released October 4 on the Chromatic Audio label.

Described as "a crisp, inventive pianist" (Stuart Broomer, The WholeNote) who "eschews the obvious to dig a little deeper" (Mike Greenblatt, The Aquarian Weekly), Vial received critical acclaim internationally for his 2018 Thelonious Monk tribute album, Sphereology Volume One, featuring guitarist Peter Bernstein.

For Gang of Three, Vial reunited with bassist Dezron Douglas (who also appeared on Sphereology Volume One) and collaborated for the first time with drummer Eric McPherson. Vial was "inspired by the deep musicality and in-the-moment risk-taking that Eric and Dez brought to the music. These cats never play a song the same way twice!"

The title track is a tribute to the friendship of three bebop piano icons -- Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, and Elmo Hope. After naming the song, however, Vial began thinking about the different trios in his own life: "I love playing in a piano trio precisely because of the magic that can happen between a pianist, bassist, and drummer in that setting," says Vial. "And now that my wife and I have a son, I live with my very own gang of three!"

"Chacarera para Wayne" finds the pianist simultaneously revisiting his roots with a folkloric Argentinian rhythm and paying tribute to Wayne Shorter. "After I wrote the piece," says Vial, "I realized that the pedal point harmony and dark, sparse melodic theme showed the compositional influence of Wayne Shorter, so it made sense to dedicate it to him." 

Other highlights include "Ferguson," a 12/8 gospel ballad inspired by Jason 'Blackbird' Selman's poem "Ferguson/St. Louis Blues"; and "Montaigne," which employs an off-kilter samba funk groove and unusual chord colors that echo dualities and paradoxes discussed in the works of the16th-century French philosopher for whom the song is named.

"Put Your Spikes In" draws inspiration from Central African Gbaya mbira music, while "Samba Fantasma" is named for a friendly ghost known to reside in the concert hall where Vial rehearses.

Andrés Vial was born January 25, 1979, in Montreal. His father was an amateur classical pianist and as early as he can remember Andrés was sitting at the piano improvising little songs, beginning piano lessons shortly thereafter. He also learned from the classical, Latin, and pop records that he heard around the house, until the day when he was 11 that his mother came home with a copy of John Coltrane's Blue Train. "I was just floored," he says. "That was the record that really changed the course of my life, and I was obsessed with it for years to come." He joined his middle school and high school jazz bands and also began playing drums and vibraphone. 

Andrés studied jazz drums and classical percussion at a college in Montreal, before transferring to the New School in New York and completing a degree in jazz piano. Among his teachers were Bill Charlap, Hal Galper, Joe Chambers, and Buster Williams.

After graduation, Vial returned to his hometown, where he recorded his first three albums: Trio/Septet (2007) featuring Malika Tirolien (Bokante, Snarky Puppy), The Infinite Field (2011), and conception/oblivion (2015).

In 2018, he released the critically acclaimed Andrés Vial Plays Thelonious Monk: Sphereology Volume One, a quartet outing featuring Peter Bernstein, Dezron Douglas, Rodney Green, Martin Heslop, and André White. Tor Hammerø (Nettavisen) described Vial as "a brilliant Monk interpreter and pianist." And Scott Yanow (The New York City Jazz Record) wrote that "the high musicianship and obvious affection for the songs make Sphereology Volume One a worthy effort."

Although he has been working steadily on the next Sphereology volumes, Vial didn't want to interrupt the documentation process of his own development as a composer -- hence the arrival of Gang of Three. "I'm looking forward to playing gigs with Dezron and Eric," he says, "and delving deeper into this material. We're just at the beginning of working as a trio together."


GRAMMY Award-winning keyboardist, composer, and producer Jeff Lorber recalls seeing guitarist Mike Stern during his much-ballyhooed tenure with Miles Davis in the early ‘80s. “I’ve been a fan of his for a long time,” said the keyboardist, who was touring hard in support of his hit records Wizard Island and It’s a Fact in those analog days. “Jeff Lorber Fusion and Miles Davis were playing some of the same festivals back then, so I got to hear him play.” For his part, Stern offered, “To be honest, I was aware of him, and had heard a bunch of good things, but I had never really checked him out. We were just in different orbits, me and Jeff.” 

In subsequent years, each staked out his respective musical territory — Lorber, the electric maestro from Los Angeles, pioneering the post-fusion sound of contemporary jazz with his radio-friendly, groove-oriented instrumental music; Stern, the esteemed six-stringer from New York, lending his considerable chops to bands led by Jaco Pastorius, Michael Brecker and Joe Henderson as well as groups like Steps Ahead, Vital Information and the Brecker Brothers while also leading his own band and cutting 18 recordings under his own name. 

Credit bassist-producer Jimmy Haslip, a charter member of Yellowjackets, with bringing these two seemingly disparate musical forces from opposite sides of the country together. And rather than being a musical Odd Couple, it turns out that Lorber and Stern fit hand-in-glove on the ten scintillating tracks that comprise Eleven, set for release on September 27, 2019 via Concord Jazz. (The title is a joking reference toThis Is Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel, who proudly demonstrates in the 1984 movie how his amplifier has a volume knob that goes to eleven… “for when you need that extra push over the cliff.”) 

Haslip was already well acquainted with Stern’s playing, having recruited him for the Yellowjacket’s 2008 album, Lifecycle, and follow up two-year tour. The bassist had also cultivated a longstanding musical relationship with Lorber, having played on and co-produced six of the keyboardist’s previous albums — 2010’s Now Is the Time, 2011’s Galaxy, 2013’s Hacienda, 2015’s Step It Up, 2017’s Grammy-winning Prototype and 2018’s Impact. Sensing a natural blend between the two, Haslip proposed the collaboration. “Jeff and Mike both admired each other’s musicianship and talent,” he said. “As far as my conception for this collaboration, I thought working together would create something new and different, which was compelling to me.” 

“I was definitely very enthusiastic about it because I knew it would be something different and challenging,” added Lorber. “And I liked the idea that it would take me away from what some people call ‘smooth jazz,’ which is a moniker that I don’t really love. Because Mike is not that at all. He’s a lot jazzier in terms of his phrasing. He’s just a bebop wizard, he’s got an incredible jazz feeling. And by the same token, he’s got the rock and blues thing covered too. He’s on both sides of the musical spectrum. So when I heard he was up for it, I was delighted to have a chance to work with him in the studio on this project. And I think we really hit it off musically as well as personally.” 

Said Stern of his main collaborator on Eleven, “When the idea was floated for this project, I asked a bunch of cats who worked with Jeff, like Randy Brecker, Dave Weckl and Bob Franceschini, and they all said, ‘He’s cool, he throws down, he can really get it going.’ And they’re right. Jeff’s got a strong rhythmic groove and he comps and plays beautifully on acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes, and organ. He’s got an especially beautiful touch on the acoustic piano, and I know that he studied with Madame Charloff, an amazingly great teacher in Boston.  And I feel like his music really comes more from soul music than smooth jazz. That Philly soul thing is definitely in some of his tunes on this record.” 

As for the stigma attached to so-called ‘smooth jazz’, Lorber believes that was more a marketing term than a musical category. “I was doing my music way before there was the term ‘smooth jazz.” he said. “I guess the Venn diagram of my music intersects with some of those characteristics of smooth jazz, but my music has always been melodic, it’s always been funky and I definitely try to keep an attention to soloing. It represents something more ambitious, more jazzy and more compelling, I hope.” 

While Stern and Lorber may differ in their approaches in the studio, they found common ground on Eleven. “I like the raw, rough edges of recording live in the studio,” the guitarist maintained. “Jeff does it a different way, and he does it really well. He’s kind of amazing at the kind of more produced, almost pop approach to making a record. There’s a certain kind of clarity to that process that I admire. It’s just a different way of conceptualizing it.” Added the prolific composer-producer, “Mike just loves to play live and his thing builds around that, so we just picked some of his favorite tunes to play live. I wanted to kind of reinvent them and reimagine them, so hopefully we were able to step up and do that. What we did was try to add a modern touch by doing more layering, like with some of the overdubbed horn arrangements that David Mann provided on several tunes. And I think Mike was pretty happy with how they turned out.” 

The result is an extremely copacetic session that is a far cry from smooth jazz. There’s too much harmonic meat and aggressive soloing from track to track to fit comfortably in that marketing category. Instead, both Lorber and Stern throw down with a vengeance on Eleven. From the melodic and catchy opener, “Righteous,” powered by Gary Novak’s crisp backbeat, Lorber’s signature Fender Rhodes playing and Dave Mann’s tight, East Coast/Brecker Brothers-ish horn arrangement, to Stern’s lyrical, African flavored “Nu Som” and his tender ballad “Tell Me,” to nasty, blues-drenched jams like “Jones Street” and “Slow Change,” this summit meeting percolates with insistent grooves and pulsates with energy and ideas. Stern’s runaway romp “Ha Ha Hotel,” fueled by drummer Dave Weckl’s muscular backbeat and punctuated by Mann’s crisp horn pads, has the guitarist unleashing his fabled ‘chops of doom’ before Lorber erupts on a killing organ solo. Lorber’s ultra-funky “Motor City” and “Big Town” add a swagger to the proceedings. The driving Lorber-Haslip number “Rhumba Pagan,” fueled by drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, features a choir of wordless vocals from Stern, Haslip and Chelsea Maull while Lorber’s intricate 6/8 closer “Runner,” has the keyboardist soloing tastefully on piano and the guitarist cranking his axe to Eleven. 

“This project was a joy to work on for many reasons, but I most enjoyed the collaborative effort in this work with Jeff and Mike,” said Haslip. “For me, as a co-producer, it was the kind of creative and experimental experience I look forward to. We did try to shake it up, and I think we really succeeded.” 

Meanwhile, both Stern and Lorber and looking forward to opening up this material on their upcoming tour together. “The way I’m conceiving this is we’re going to stretch a lot live with much longer solos,” said Stern. “Hell, we’ll probably play two tunes the whole set.” Prior to their European tour, Lorber and Stern will commence their swing through the States in late Fall, beginning with a run at Blues Alley in Washington D.C. Sept. 26-29, then Jazz Alley in Seattle Dec. 3-4, Catalina Jazz Club in Los Angeles Dec. 5-8, Yoshi’s in Oakland Dec. 9-10, the Dosey Doe in The Woodlands, TX on Dec. 14, One World Theater in Austin, TX on Dec. 15 and culminating in a run at Iridium in New York Dec. 16-19. 


“Righteous”— “That’s kind of a modal piece,” said Lorber. “The musical development is not harmonic, particularly, in that same way as it is on many of the other tunes. The action is in some other areas. It’s more melodic and rhythmic. It’s one of those radio-friendly uptempo funky jams that people can enjoy. And Ned Mann did an awesome job with the horn arrangement here. I’ve been working with him for a lot of years now and he’s like a secret weapon on my recordings. Usually when I send him things to put horn arrangements on, I’ll put down some rough ideas about what the horn section should be doing. And he just goes into his little room on 70th Street in Manhattan and he plays like 25 tracks of doubled and tripled flute, alto and tenor saxophones while adding extra brass parts with synthesizers. It’s like magic, and it comes back sounding like a large ensemble.” (Stern enters at the 2-1/2 minute mark on the bridge, floating over the top with warm, liquid tones. Lorber switches to acoustic piano as the two take the tune out on an upbeat note, paced by Dave Weckl’s insistent backbeat.) 

“Nu Som” — “That’s one I wrote a while ago but hadn’t ever recorded,” said Stern. “It’s named for Will Lee’s wife, Sandrine Lee. She’s a wonderful photographer and she’s got a book out called “Nudescapes.” That’s her artist name. It’s short for “Nous sommes,” which is “We are” in French. On this song I’m trying to capture the vibe when Sandrine and my wife Leni get together. It’s a fun, very positive vibe when they’re talking, and I thought that tune would really fit that vibe.” Added Lorber, “This tune, to me, is fantastic. I think it’s the one that we’re going to put out as our single to radio. It’s got a beautiful melody, it’s got great changes and Mike plays so great on it. And we also got his wife Leni to play African N’goni on this track.” 

“Jones Street”— “When I was working on this album I went back and checked out a lot of Mike’s records,” said Lorber. “And of course, Michael Brecker is featured on a lot of them. That’s like having Babe Ruth batting cleanup in your lineup. I mean, Mike Brecker’s soloing in the middle of your song? You can’t lose. Of course, it’s kind of hard to live up to that but we did our thing. And I think the big difference here is it’s just a little more produced. We were just trying to add a modern touch. And that’s a real tour de force for Mike. He gets to wail with his blues and jazz vibe on that, and I’m just trying to hang on.” Added Stern, “It’s definitely got that live vibe with Weckl on drums. And it was a little more uptempo than the original (from 1997’s Give And Take). I wanted to do some different things with this version and when we started playing with Jeff, he got the vibe right away. And he’s some really good organ on that. His main thing is piano and Fender Rhodes, but he plays the shit out of the organ here. So that’s going to be fun playing this tune live.” (Catch Weckl unleashing on an ostinato at the end of this piece). 

“Motor City” — “That’s one I had around for a long time and always really liked,” said Lorber. “I think I wrote the first little sketches out for it almost 15 years ago. The original demo that I did back then had these old Yamaha DX7 synthesizer sounds on it, and a couple of them made it through on the final mix. You can hear a couple of them popping through here and there. It’s a fun song with that upbeat vibe that people can enjoy, like ‘Righteous.’ I take an acoustic piano solo here. I just love playing acoustic piano these days. I think as time goes on, I find myself playing more and more acoustic piano and really loving it. I love the Fender Rhodes too, of course, and I have a real Fender Rhodes that I’ve used for years. Those are my two main instruments — piano and Rhodes. And I definitely use the Mini-Moog in some of the fabric of pieces on this record too.” 

“Big Town” — “That was one that I wrote with Jimmy Haslip,” said Lorber. “Jimmy had a little sketch that he put together — the main groove in the song — and I just took it and kind of developed it. I love playing cool changes to lift the song and take it somewhere. I’m always looking for an opportunity to do that.” 

“Slow Change”— “That’s another of Mike’s bluesy workouts…a little darker blues with a slower vibe,” said Lorber. “I’m sure that one will be very fun to play live. I’m looking forward to getting a chance to really explore some of this stuff, like this tune.” Added Stern, “That one was on my 2001 album Voicesand it originally had vocals by Elisabeth Kontomanou. I decided to just do it instrumentally here and it worked out well. For some of this stuff, like on this tune, we just went on the fly in the studio. We sent the music around before the date but we really had no rehearsal. We kind of rehearsed a little bit in the studio before recording and then we just went for it.” 

“Tell Me”— “That was one of the hardest songs to do,” said Lorber. “Mike was very particular about how he wanted it, and we just ended up having to go back and forth on it to get it right. At the end of the day, he opted towards making it quite a bit less produced than most of the other things on the record. There’s not a whole lot getting in the way of the melody and basic chords on this one. It’s just build around the strong guitar part.” Added Stern, “Originally (on 1996’s Between the Lines), I had Bob Malach by saxophone on this. It’s hard for me to pick my own tunes. I tend to get self-critical, but Leni really liked this one and said we should do it. And when we were running it down in the studio, I asked Jeff to play kind of like Bruce Hornsby, and he totally got it. He knows that world and he’s really such a good musician. So that kind of came out cool. That’s the only ballad on the record, so I was happy with that.” 

“Ha Ha Hotel”— “The bluesy vibe that Mike has on that tune inspired me to play organ on this tune,” said Lorber. “The organ is a natural complement to what he’s playing there. It’s got a little bit of insanity with the distortion and the way that melody moves. And it’s quite difficult to play, by the way. So before we went in to record, I worked quite a bit for a couple of weeks before that to get that thing going the best I could. But I know Mike loves playing it live. If you go on YouTube, there’s tons of versions of him playing that tune. So I think it’s one of his favorites.” 

Added Stern, “Jeff played a cool organ solo on that when we recorded this live, but then he wanted to make the tune shorter by taking the organ solo out. And I said, ‘No, baby! You can’t do that. It’s just smoking!” And I put a little wah-wah rhythm guitar thing on there behind his organ solo and he really liked it. That song is 25 years old (originally appearing on 1994’s Is What It Is) and we’re reviving it here. And we had Bob Franceschini play with this octave effect his saxophone on that tune. It’s kind of cool and edgy that way, which I like.” 

“Rhumba Pagan”— “In preparation for this recording, I got a chance to go see Mike’s show a couple of nights when he was here in Los Angeles,” said Lorber. “He's got some terrific ballads and he likes to sing on them too. And when I found out that Mike was looking for something that he could sing on, I thought of ‘Rhumba Pagan,’ which is a song Jimmy and I worked on with a friend of his, Edgar Pagan, a bassist out of Rochester, New York. So we worked on this tune together and I just love the way it turned out. It’s a cool number, different than anything on the record. And it’s one that when we play it live it’ll be a nice change of pace in the set.” Added Stern, “Jimmy and I both sing on that one. I’ve been doing more vocals lately and I’ll probably do more singing live with this band. Maybe we’ll do some Hendrix tunes and I’ll sing on ‘Little Wing’ and ‘Foxey Lady.’ That’ll be fun.” 

“Runner”— “I love to do stuff in 6/8,” said Lorber. “I love odd time signatures. And once again, it’s another way to change things up and make things interesting for the audience when you play concerts. So that’ll be a fun one to do live. Mike wails on this tune. He is just so natural with the way he flies over changes and comes up with his very unique and very identifiable sound of how he interprets things. It’s occasionally a little outside, but in a nice way. His style of soloing is very unpredictable. And I think that’s one thing that people really love about him.”

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Soul-jazz saxophonist JWhite releases "Fearless"

He successfully entered the Billboard Top 20 for the first time with the debut single from the upcoming EP, dropping September 13.

Every artist ever to hit the Billboard chart has stories of struggle, heartbreak, challenges, frustration, doubt and thoughts of giving up on a career as a recording artist. Soul-jazz saxophonist JWhite, a newcomer to the Billboard Top 20 with the summer single, “Driven,” is no different. After some reflection, he decided to pursue his dreams fearlessly, inspiring the title to his third collection, “Fearless,” which drops September 13. 

“I have overcome so many obstacles and setbacks. I've thought about giving up many times. I've come across many other artists who have the same challenges and discouraging moments. However, I decided that I was going to ignore it all and choose to be fearless in my pursuit. No excuses. No public complaining. Just play hard, play with passion every single time and let God do the rest," said JWhite, a Detroit native who resides in Phoenix.  

JWhite had a hand in writing and producing all eight songs that comprise the “Fearless” EP. He previewed the forthcoming set with “Driven,” a midtempo urban contemporary groove that he wrote and produced with drummer Jeff Canady on which the hornman plays his alto sax fervently. 

“I named it ‘Driven’ because I felt the groove had a pulse to it. The way I approached the melody is how I approach my goals as an artist. I approach them with purpose, soul and determination."   

A seasoned core of hitmakers teamed with JWhite to create the EP. Drummer Eric Valentine and bassist Nathaniel Kearney form a deep-pocketed rhythm section on the opening cut, “Valley of the Sun,” which bodes to be the second single. Keyboardist Gail Jhonson pours the soul of her Philly roots into the three tunes she cowrote and coproduced for the set – “Mr. NuGroove,” “Morning Rain” and “90’s Kinda Love” - the last of which features supple basslines from chart-topper Darryl Williams. Guitarist Matt Godina was JWhite’s cowriter and coproducer on “Soiree.” “Just Ride” is the only solo trek on the disc.     

“I wrote ‘Just Ride’ on my own. It's a chord progression I came up with a couple of years ago that I finally put a melody to. I was fortunate enough to have Nick Colionne play guitar on the song. Also, Nathan Mitchell pitched in on production to really bring the tune home." 

On the self-assured title track, JWhite combined forces with David P. Stevens. “I met David in San Diego at the Mediterranean Jazz & Supper Club on a joint show I did with Gail Jhonson. David is an awesome musician and has a new style of producing that is groundbreaking in the world of jazz. It was an honor to collaborate with him on this project,” said JWhite, who returns to the club Sunday (August 25) to headline a concert.   

JWhite debuted as a solo artist with the 2012 album “New Jazz Swagger: Reloaded.” His saxplay is a swirl of modern jazz with straight-ahead jazz references, emoting rich melodies and lush harmonic passes atop sensual R&B tracks. Competing at the Warren Hill Sax Summit in 2013 helped him win slots to perform at the San Diego Jazz Festival, Las Vegas Jazz Festival, Arizona Jazz Festival and Jazz at the Creek. He’s also played club dates from coast to coast. In 2015, JWhite dropped the “Grit and Glamour” EP, an outing that strayed from his jazz base. 

JWhite’s “Fearless” EP contains the following songs: 
“Valley of the Sun” 
“Mr. NuGroove” 
“Morning Rain” 
“90’s Kinda Love” 
“Just Ride” 

New Music Releases From: Patterson Twins, From Wolves To Whales, Kuzu

Patterson Twins - Let Me Be Your Lover

A rare soul treasure from the duo of Estrus and Lester Patterson – a pair who recorded in virtual obscurity during the late 70s, but managed to come across with the strengths of the bigger soul acts of the time! The album was recorded in Nashville and Fort Wayne, Indiana – but has a vibe that's maybe like the better Cali soul of the period – not the indie sides, but the bigger label sets – with really well-formed songs penned just for the date, and instrumentation that moves easily between upbeat groovers and slower-stepping tracks that really fit the vocals nicely! These guys manage to pack in plenty over the course of the album – and in addition to the catchy title cut "Let Me Be Your Lover", and the funky "Funk Machine", other cuts include "A Good Thing", "Disco Dream", "Gonna Find A True Love", "You Give Me Someone To Love", and "He's A Loser". CD also features a bonus track – "Gonna Find A True Love (single version)". ~ Dusty Groove

From Wolves To Whales (Wooley/Rempis/Niggenkemper/Corsano) - Strandwal

Bold rumbling fury from this well-matched quartet of improvising talents – a group that features Nate Wooley on trumpet, Dave Rempis on alto, Pascal Niggenkemper on bass, and Chris Corsano on drums – all often moving together in space as one, while still allowing plenty of room for breakout solos from each member of the lineup! Wooley's sense of shape, sound, and tone just seems to get better and better as the years go on – and Rempis never fails to amaze us with the richness of his creations on alto sax – while both Niggenkemper and Corsano can move hard and fast when needed, but often play in more elliptical ways that really suit the energy of the entire group. The double-length set features four improvised pieces, all recorded live – "Spaarne", "For Kenau", "Hook & Cod", and "IJ". ~ Dusty Groove

Kuzu (Dave Rempis, Tashi Dorji, Tyler Damon) - Hiljaisuus

A pretty intense power trio from the Chicago scene – a group that features guitar from Tashi Dorji, drums and percussion from Tyler Damon, and alto, tenor, and baritone sax from the great Dave Rempis! The album features one completely sprawling improvisation – "Fontanelles" – a very long track that has these guys coming together with a sonic frenzy that's completely mindblowing – maybe not that surprising from Rempis, but with a new fire in the company of Dorji – a guitarist that we might be hearing here for the first time, and who can play with this focused energy that's only driven on more deeply by the drums of Damon! The album features another shorter track – "Gash" – but a number that's still quite open and full of energy – with an explosive middle that makes us wonder if there was anything left of the studio once these guys finished recording. ~ Dusty Groove

Monday, August 26, 2019


One of the brightest jewels in the crown of Canada’s contribution to vocal jazz, two-time JUNO Award winner Diana Panton again brings her distinctive brand of sweet, sincere, swinging elegance straight to the hearts of young and old alike with her second album for children and families, A Cheerful Little Earful, to be released on October 18, 2019.

Conceived as a spirited encore to Diana Panton’s JUNO-winning debut children’s album, I Believe in Little Things, A Cheerful Little Earful is a thoughtfully curated treasure of sparkling gems from the Great American Songbook seasoned with universally recognized hits from Disney, Sesame Street, and more.

In perfect harmony with the authentic jazz sound and style of Diana Panton’s unforgettable voice is the splendid artistry of the album’s instrumental team who possess stellar international credentials of their own. Order of Canada recipient Don Thompson has established a secure place for himself in the galaxy of jazz greats for both his formidable instrumental accomplishments and his stylish and sensitive musical arrangements. Complementing all this talent is the superb playing of National Jazz Award-winning guitarist Reg Schwager.

Both Thompson and Schwager were members of the George Shearing Quartet, and their high-quality solos shimmer with beauty and veracity throughout A Cheerful Little Earful. The album provides a vibrant connection for kids and adults to the sound, the style, and the spirit of the world of jazz.

A Cheerful Little Earful sets the stage with the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic, “Happy Talk,” where the accompaniment creatively “chatters” along in perfect agreement with the light, bright sound of Diana’s cheerful vocals. The jazz waltz joie de vivre of “It’s a Most Unusual Day” provides a scintillating pulse for Diana’s effervescent voice, which itself gives flight to the joy and optimism of the song’s lyrics, while Schwager and Thompson blend the sounds of piano, guitar, vibraphone, and bass in a haunting reflection of that most sophisticated gentleman, George Shearing.

The Shearing sound takes another bow with a tune straight from the heart of the American Songbook, “Pocketful of Miracles,” while Diana’s a capella treatment of the opening verse of “Look to the Rainbow” brings out the pure fantasy of this song from the musical Finian’s Rainbow. Bilingual Diana sings in both English and French on “All in the Golden Afternoon” from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, her French interpretation falling gracefully within the aurally delicious parameters of the French pop chanson style.

Since the release of her first album in 2005, Diana Panton’s career has never ceased to accumulate momentum, drawing international acclaim for her ten albums as well as the impressive variety and quality of her catalogue of songs. The numerous honours garnered include JUNO Awards for I Believe in Little Things in 2017 and RED in 2015, two Silver Disc Awards in Japan, six JUNO nominations, nine Hamilton Music Awards, and a host of National Jazz Awards and Canadian and American Independent Music Award nominations. I Believe in Little Things topped the jazz charts on Amazon and iTunes in Canada and the US, rising to #1 on Amazon’s “Movers and Shakers” chart and debuting at #8 on Billboard. It was also a Top 10 Jazz Bestseller at HMV Japan and #1 Jazz Album of the Year on in Taiwan. The album received a four-star review in DownBeat magazine and was one of their Best Albums of the Year for 2016. Diana’s 2017 release, solstice/equinox, was a JUNO Vocal Jazz Album nominee, a DownBeat magazine Editor’s Pick, and was named one of the Top Albums of the Year by Ici Musique.


New Music Releases From: Dam-Funk, Gary Meggs, Dave Rempis

Dam-Funk - STFU II

Fantastic funk from Dam-Funk – full of heavy bassbits, sweet beats, and plenty of keyboards – all with that stripped-down sound that always helps us focus on the well-chosen elements in his music! The whole thing's instrumental – and relatively spare, but very fulfilling – as the man makes the most with the least, especially with the slowly-evolving bass-heavy moments in the set – more than enough to make the back end of your jeep leap from the speakers, and which should be packaged with a warning not to listen on headphones that are turned up too loud! Titles include "Deeper", "Ladera Heights", "On Code", "Hood Biz", "The Flow", and "Compos Mentis". ~ Dusty Groove

Gary Meggs - Life's Little Changes

A onetime member of the orchestras of Glenn Miller and Harry James, saxophonist Gary Meggs calls the release of his latest album Life’s Little Changes a “lifelong dream, a chance to help place my own footprint in the Smooth Jazz scene,” inspired by the West Coast Jazz of the 80’s and 90’s. Collaborating with rock/fusion guitarist Bryan Jeffries, who produced the collection, Meggs’ brings a bold and brash horn energy to an exciting, stylistically eclectic collection that includes spirited Latin influences, innovative arrangements of pop standards and re-imagined versions (complete with new titles) of a gospel and seasonal classics. ~

Dave Rempis / Josh Abrams / Avreeayl Ra / Jim Baker - Apsis

Dave Rempis is really on fire – effortlessly blowing long-spun lines on alto, tenor, and baritone saxes – as part of a very freewheeling quartet with a old school improvising vibe! The date was recorded live at Elastic Arts in Chicago, and in some ways is a reflection of the way that space has become a hotbed for jazz creation that almost recalls the loft jazz scene of New York in the 70s – really well-matched players who are able to create in long, thoughtful progressions – often with a fair bit of force overall, given their understanding of each other's strengths from previous time together. The group features some tremendous work on bass from Joshua Abrams, richly organic work on drums from Avreeayl Ra, and very cool electronics from Jim Baker, who also plays piano – on two long improvisations, "Exedra" and "Mithrab". ~ Dusty Groove

Sunday, August 25, 2019

New Music Releases From Aaron Weinstein, Jack Lee, Ikebe Shakedown

Aaron Weinstein - 3X3

Aaron Weinstein, a rising star in the New York Jazz community, makes his Chesky Records debut on 3x3, an album of instrumental Jazz standards that not only experiments with modern recording methodologies, but with the boundaries of Jazz expression. Featuring Aaron Weinstein (violin), Matt Munisteri (Guitar), Tom Hubbard (Bass), 3x3 is the perfect illustration of the beauty of simplicity. No unnecessary production; no extemporaneous distractions. You're left with stunning musicianship, breathtaking acoustics, and evocative and memorable music. Tracks include: St. Louis Blues; World Is Waiting For The Sunrise; Makin’ Whoopee; (Back Home Again in) Indiana; Chinatown, My Chinatown; Charlotte; Hindustan; The Zabar Shuffle; There’s A Broken Heart for Every Light On Broadway; Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town); Nola; and Ja-Da. Album release date: 9/6/2019.

Jack Lee -La Habana

Inventive Seoul-born guitarist Jack Lee may be relatively new to Smooth Jazz, but he’s been recording for nearly 30 years, and has been jazz fusion sensation in his native South Korea and ensembled with countless American jazz legends for decades. His latest album, the sensuous yet grooving and lightly exotic La Habana, showcases Lee’s fluid melodic lines and eclectic grooves in action-packed ensemble mode with greats like Nathan East, Steve Ferrone, Michael Thompson and Grammy-winning drummer Antonio Sanchez. True to his international status and the album’s travel theme, Lee incorporates tinges of Latin, blues, reggae and other musical colors into his infectious mix, recorded in Havana, L.A., Tokyo and Mexico. ~

Ikebe Shakedown - Kings Left Behind

It's hard to imagine these kings being left behind, as the sound of Ikebe Shakedown just keeps getting bolder and more majestic with each new release – a very special strand of deep funk, with a blend of horns that you might find in a more Afro-styled band, mixed with tighter rhythms at the core – and dosed throughout with a really cool, very twangy guitar! The mix of elements is great – almost as if a chicha guitarist wandered into sessions for an Afro Funk record, and convinced the rest of the guys to work in more small combo modes, in a way that allows the guitar a great presence in the sound, as it washes over most of the tunes with a strong sense of color! Titles include "Hammer Into Anvil", "Horses", "Mary's Corner", "Not Another Drop", "Unqualified", and "No Going Back". ~ Dusty Groove


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