Undoubtedly at the very pinnacle of his career and at the vanguard of what might be described as smooth jazz for grown ups guitarist Chuck Loeb has just released the wonderful ‘Unspoken’. Out on the invariably excellent Shanachie label this superb eleven-song collection features a dazzling array of guest artists and is making a late bid to become one of the year’s standout recordings.
Not only one of the greatest Earth Wind & Fire tracks of all time but also possessing perhaps the best riff in soul music ever ‘Reasons’ is a colossal tune, a heavyweight masterpiece of the like that only comes along once in a lifetime. Consequently to take it on as a cover version is a very big ask indeed yet the new single by trumpeter Michael C Lewis is a very worthy attempt indeed. Check it out and the memories of the original will come flooding back.
On the streets since September 13 the new album from the incomparable Gerald Albright is titled ‘G’. It is his very first independent release and with gems such as ‘Frankie B’, which is Albright’s tribute to Frankie Beverly, a cool remake of the classic ‘Lovely Day’, with the one and only Michael McDonald on vocals, and this track, the wonderful ‘Boom Boom’, looks like being a winner.
Grammy-nominated guitarist Doc Powell is and always has been the real contemporary jazz deal. His latest CD ‘This Is Soul’ has been around for quite a while with the infectiously shuffling title cut really making it mark yet just as good is ‘Love On Top’ which was originally the lead single but has now been re-issued to radio.
Produced by the award winning Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis ‘This Is Soul’ is a collection that brings together the heart and soul of some of the best music from the present and the past.
Noah and Joshua Thompson, who record under the name of Roman Street made their mark back in 2012 with the CD ‘Caravan’ from which the title cut registered a highly commendable number 24 on Billboard's countdown of smooth jazz songs for that year. The band’s stock in trade is guitar driven Latin infused contemporary jazz yet the track ‘Mr. Morris’ from the album ‘Bohemia’ is a slice of no frills smooth jazz of the highest order. With a dazzling contribution from Smooth Jazz Therapy favorite Vincent Ingala this could be one of the best tracks of the entire year.
With choice albums such as ‘C’est Le Funk’, ‘Weekend in L.A (A Tribute To George Benson’ and ‘First Class’ (from his side project Groove Ltd) Smooth Jazz Therapy favorite U-Nam has been restoring much needed energy into the music we call smooth jazz. Earlier this year he again sent shockwaves through the genre with ‘Going for Miles’, the advance single from his latest project ‘Surface Level’ and now the complete album has been released the great news is that it has been more than worth the wait.
Arguably the most globally recognized of any (and I mean any) smooth jazz artist, guitarist Peter White will release his latest album, ‘Groovin’, on October 28 via Heads Up, a division of Concord Music Group.
Despite it being White’s third collection of hugely personal interpretations of timeless hits, if his previous efforts (‘Reflections’ in 1994 and ‘Playin' Favorites’ that followed twelve years later) are anything to go by then ‘Groovin’ seems all set to be the contemporary jazz event of 2016 bar none.
Ultra jazzy and ultra sophisticated, ‘Never Giving Up’ is the latest single from the sultry and soulful Kenya and is sure to captivate the growing number of contemporary jazz fans that have already latched on to her debut CD ‘My Own Skin’. It follows both ‘Let Me’ and the zesty title-track to radio and exposure that she so richly deserves.
‘The History Of Paul Hardcastle’, out soon on Trippin N Rhythm is yet another celebration of the groove that has garnered an entire sub-genre of contemporary jazz. Hardcastle has the ability to take a single vibe then wring every once from it. ‘19’ is a case in point and another is ‘Bird Island’, traces of which can be found on the enormously compelling ‘Echoes Rising’ that launches the album in the USA as the first radio single.
Quite simply this is wonderful music from a truly timeless artist and comes highly recommended.
Smooth Jazz Therapy favorite Jef Kearns has teamed with vocalist Carlos Morgan for the sumptuously soulful single ‘Just Jane’ that will be available for streaming and download from iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Tidal, and Spotify on October 11.
Indeed, since 2011, and the release of the album ‘On The Level’, this Toronto based flautist has been cornering the market in superbly produced and sensationally performed urban jazz. The follow up, ‘Soulfisticated’ (that arrived in 2013) served to confirm that here was no flash in the pan and in 2016 went three for three with equally good ‘The Flute’.
Having already delivered the highly acclaimed single ‘35th Street’ (that featured Eric Darius on saxophone) ‘Just The Beginning’ from guitarist Adam Hawley is proving to be one of the standout albums of 2016. The latest track to be offered to radio is the groove drenched ‘Joy Ride’ that Hawley co-writes with Greg Manning, who also mixes and produces.
Born in Portland Oregon but a fixture on the LA music scene since 2002, Hawley
Has worked with artists such as Lalah Hathaway, Jennifer Lopez, The Backstreet Boys, Natalie Cole, Dave Koz, Joss Stone, Sheila E, Peabo Bryson, Eric Benet, Kirk Whalum, Take 6, Ray Parker Jr. and Pat Metheny to name just a few.
When in 2010 I reviewed ‘Around Again’ by guitarist Drew Davidsen I described him as being someone who was destined to be around in smooth jazz for a considerable time to come. His follow-up, ‘Spin Cycle’ garnered similar critical acclaim and in 2013 he again came up big with ‘True Drew’, a CD that artistically moved him closer to players such as Pat Metheny, George Benson, Earl Klugh, Larry Carlton and Robben Ford. That Metheny meets Benson vibe is again in evidence with Drew’s latest project ‘Six String King’ from which the single ‘East Moon’ comes.
Written by Davidsen with Cedric Givens, (whose own debut recording, ‘One Of A Kind’ is a delicious walk on the smooth side), this mellow masterpiece should do well.
San Diego based guitarist Patrick Yandall has a style that entirely epitomizes the sumptuous smooth jazz spirit of this sensational city. Indeed, with a discography that (with his latest project, ‘Ethos’) now extends to nineteen CDs he has captured to perfection the essence of west coast contemporary jazz. If proof of this were needed then look no further than the first single to be released to radio, the zesty ‘Peytons Place’. It is what the music of Patrick Yandall is all about.
Although a long time coming, ‘Set Me Free’, the highly anticipated full length album from smooth jazz keyboard player Dave Bradshaw Jr. is almost upon us. After a succession of ‘teaser’ radio singles (the latest of which is the up tempo ‘Guys Night Out’) contemporary jazz fans will already know what Bradshaw Jr. is all about but may not be aware that the recording is, in part, indicative of the blossoming musical partnership he enjoys with producer and saxophonist Darren Rahn.