- Keith Andrew
- Soul Expedition
- Innervision Records
- David Garfield
- Let It Snow
- Creatchy Records
- Phil Klein
- God Bless The Child Reimagined
- Philmo Betta Music
- Illusion Of Love
- City Sketches, Inc.
- Torcuato Mariano
- Escola Brasileira
- Jim Richter
- Breezy Day
- Jamesland Music Management, LLC
- The Doug Hume Orchestra
- That Swinging Manger
- Maristar Records
Listening Loft : HOLIDAY
Putting an exclamation point (this time with a bow!) on another groundbreaking year, NYC jazz singer Rebecca Angel offers a sensual and stylish, hip yet retro twist on the Eartha Kitt originated classic. Opening with a playful scat intro, Angel – who made her recording debut with a holiday original four years ago – weaves her sultry spell over the supple grooves and tasty retro vibes of arranger, producer, keyboardist Jason Miles and a handful of veteran NYC musicians, including Rebecca’s father, Billboard charting hornman, Dennis Angel, who delivers a swanky trumpet solo that adds to the track’s hipster cool.
This voice will certainly warm up your holiday season... with her smooth mix of "Winter Wonderland," international recording artist and Grammy-nominated singer Sylvia Bennett welcomes all of the joys of winter. Kick back, put the worries of the world aside, and pour yourself an egg nog, as you slip into this seasonal selection from our favorite smooth crooner. You're sure to find your happy place with Ms. Bennett's version of one of the most joyful holiday songs ever written, featuring a jazzy saxophone and a fun musical arrangement for Sylvia to cheerfully sing and sled through. Are you listening?
Colorful, uplifting, steady grooving and wildly inspiring, singer/songwriter James Bowman III’s latest album THINGS ON MY MIND offers a seamless merging of gospel energy, sacred reverence and urban oriented Smooth Jazz. Having played with Brian McKnight and Mervyn Warren and opened for everyone from Edwin Hawkins, Kirk Franklin and Bebe and CeCe Winans, the multi-talented artist and seductive vocalist has plenty to communicate about - the Lord, marriage, family and relationship. And as an added bonus for those feeling festive, James includes one of the most soulful versions of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" you've ever heard and worthy of your Holiday playlists this season... HO! HO! HO!
Multi-talented keyboardist David Garfield takes his ongoing, genre-transcendent, “Outside the Box” series into the holiday season with a sultry and easy-flowing and festive spin on the classic “Let It Snow.” This instantly engaging track helps make the season bright via newcomer Jo Nagle’s silky soul vocals, a fiery improvisational solo by Yellowjackets saxophonist Bob Mintzer and Garfield’s own vibrant Fender Rhodes jam. The track is the latest single from Garfield’s upcoming HOLIDAY OUTSIDE THE BOX collection.
A longtime mainstay on the Miami Latin music scene who has worked with everyone from Arturo Sandoval and Ed Calle to The Four Tops, saxophonist Wayne Gutshall takes a break from the funk and salsa sizzle to create his new original single “I Wrapped My Love for Christmas.” Fashioned as a tenderly romantic duet with singer Wendy Pedersen, the track was inspired by Gutshall’s wife’s passion for watching Christmas movies. Complementing Pedersen’s warm, inviting vocals, the track features an extended lush and sweetly soulful saxophone solo that will help everyone feel the love this holiday season.
If it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, there’s musical magic in the air – and Dave Koz, as reliably joyful and magical as Santa, is coming to town once again. This year, he’s bringing GIFTS OF THE SEASON, his remarkable seventh holiday collection. Produced by frequent Koz collaborator Darren Rahn, the whimsical yet heartfelt collection – which includes a jamming dance twist on a Wham classic, a graceful reworking of a Mariah Carey perennial and a prayerful original – features all four of the special guests joining Koz on his 22nd annual Christmas tour: Jonathan Butler, Michael Lington, Chris Walker and Melissa Manchester.
Capping 30 incredible years as a recording artist and one of Smooth Jazz’s premiere saxophone masters, Marion Meadows celebrates the season – and gears up for Norman Brown’s Joyous Christmas tour – with his first-ever holiday collection CHRISTMAS WITH YOU. Inspired by childhood memories of a loving neighborhood where the spread of goodwill taught him the true meaning of Christmas. Meadows takes a magical, mystical, stroll (sometimes super-chill, sometimes crazy-brisk) through a batch of classics and a few heart-tugging originals. This urban-flavored collection has an intimate, nostalgic feeling throughout, with fresh pop, old school R&B, rock and traditional jazz elements sprinkled about. Joining the festivities and helping Meadows make the season bright are a handful of dynamic genre veterans, including Brown, Blake Aaron, Gail Jhonson and Joey Sommerville.
Talk about a funky switch for the holidays! Currently on tour with the world-famous Glenn Miller Orchestra, saxophonist Gary Meggs trades big band for Smooth Jazz on “A Joyous World,” a fresh, sizzling twist on “Joy To the World.” This is one of those rare cool tracks that dynamically shifts tempos and textures midway through. Just as the former director of the 531st Air Force Jazz Band is easing into a dreamy mystical flow, he amps up the groove, starts improvising wildly and brings on some enticing horn textures for a full-on Christmas party. Let’s turn the season into “A Joyous World!”
While many Smooth Jazz artists release holiday tunes that are up-tempo covers of songs we know and love, multi-talented Detroit composer-keyboardist Motown Moe takes a very different, though still beautiful and elegant, approach to the season with his latest single “Christmas Without You.” It’s a downtempo, rhythmically laid back and atmosphere-laden original offers a thoughtful, reflective melody, expressing a sense of longing, melancholy and memories of times and love gone by.
Throughout his career, Pacific Northwest based saxophonist Kenney Polson has lived and performed in over 50 countries and played everything from Latin, classical and new age to funk, R&B, gospel and jazz. On his fresh, high energy spin on Donny Hathaway’s perennial classic “This Christmas,” he’s all about the soul. While keeping to the spirit of the original, Polson and his band bring a quicker tempo, funkier grooves and deeper emotional urgency via a vibrant production that features a snazzy horn section, more percussion and keys - and Polson himself multi-tasking magnificently on alto, tenor and bass clarinet.
You’ll think you’re listening to “That Swinging Manger” on a Frank Sinatra Christmas album, but this timeless tune is new from The Doug Hume Orchestra featuring vocalist Bob Francis and under the direction of Gary Nester! The ultimate in bold holiday hipster fun, fashioned as a loving tribute to all the Vegas lounge acts (including the Rat Pack) circa 1959, the track features the orchestra simmering and strutting through a classic big band arrangement of the familiar carol as the Ol’ Blue Eyes soundalike injects words and phrases like “cat,” “kid,” “dig, and “coo-coo.” The lyrics will make you smile as you’re snapping your fingers along to the music!
Listening Loft : HOTPICKS
Greg Carmichael, founding member of seminal guitar driven contemporary jazz ensemble Acoustic Alchemy, is a true survivor. He regrouped after the passing of band co-founder Nick Webb 20 years ago, and now, with longtime partner Miles Gilderdale, creates some of the group’s most compelling and diverse music ever on 33 1/3, the title reflecting on the band’s age. Recorded in the wake of Carmichael’s wife experiencing a life-threatening bout with meningitis and the loss of their long-time friend and manager, Steward Coxhead. The first studio album in seven years is a collection that darts by design, across a stylistic map from the assertive world-fusion fun on the opening track, “East of Babylon” to an exhilarating nod to fallen guitar hero, Chuck Loeb with “Carmen’s Man.” In addition, it includes a Steely Dan-esque pop/blues tribute to Walter Becker, “Blues For Mr. Mu,” while the album also brushes on Latin, classical and contemporary sonic realms, it also includes a full band collaboration “The Girl With A Plan,” a title inspired by global radio pioneer and decades long companion, Sandy Shore. With a fresh, new energy, their trademark melodic chemistry created by an alchemy of nylon and steel guitars shines brightly through.
In addition to playing for the Obamas, performing with Ne-Yo, working with orchestras and touring Africa, Marie Antoinette is quickly making the mystical sound of the harp a dynamic lead instrument in Smooth Jazz. Two decades after “That Thing” won two Grammys for Lauryn Hill, the jazz/funk performer – currently a touring member of the all-female ensemble Jazz in Pink - takes the enigmatic artist’s socially conscious doo wop/hip hop anthem to a fresh and transcendent, urban jazz meets classical level. From her forthcoming album, ALL MY STRINGS, Mariea swirls her dreamy, stringed melodies around the tune’s trademark synth riff, and artfully builds towards a soaring interaction with a hypnotic string ensemble. It’s a timeless tune about equality, self-awareness and self-value, with a message as essential now as it was 20 years ago!
Because it’s all we need... because it’s the answer and because it never fails. These are only but a few of the reasons why our favorite songbird, Grammy nominated vocalist Sylvia Bennett, wishes us Love on her latest outing of recorded musical bliss! I WISH YOU LOVE is simmering to the brim with delicious contemporary musical treats. Dipping into her collection of favorites from the classic songs that she’s romanced over the years in several languages; this intentional album of love songs blazes a new trail for our tireless, crooning crusader... the lusciously arranged set by longtime producing partner, Hal S. Batt, is all in English and features some amazing special guests including the one and only bass master, Nathan East on an impeccable cover of “Its Impossible” and Chart-topping Smooth Jazz trumpeter Rick Braun on a highly enjoyable run of “C’est Si Bon,” or as we like to call it, “C’est Si Braun.” Really it’s all you need to get by. Love that is… and this wonderful assortment of love songs falls into that category as well. Find out for yourself!
One of the most groundbreaking, virtuosic bassists in contemporary jazz for over 30 years, Brian Bromberg’s eclectic 25 album catalogue – including his latest smash THICKER THAN WATER - has included five #1 Billboard hits and over a dozen Top 10 singles. This year, he achieved the amazing feat of having a clip of his live performance of his latest single, “Minneapolis, 1987,” with his Unapologetically Funky Big Bombastic Band score over one million views on Facebook. The studio version of that unbridled, relentlessly funky jam is just one of the many highlights on the new collection, which finds Bromberg artfully balancing coolly soulful, infectiously in the pocket urban tinged Smooth Jazz with exotic excursions, moments of soft-spoken eloquence and an unadorned bass only improvisation where he struts his deepest, most artistic stuff.
One of the edgiest, innovative and explosive performers in the sweet spot where Smooth Jazz meets contemporary R&B, saxophonist Eric Darius breaks new ground by launching his own label (SagiDarius Music) for his perfectly titled new album BREAKIN’ THRU. With two Top Ten Billboard singles in the mix, the collection hits on all cylinders, from slammin’ funk sizzle to power ballads and a blistering Latin fire. Ensuring a continuously crackling urban crossover flow, the multi-faceted collection was co-produced by Darius and two of today’s hottest R&B sound masters, Rodney Jones Jr. (Chris Brown, Mary Mary, Mary J. Blige) and Butta N’ Bizkit (John Legend, Ne-Yo, Miguel, Ledisi). In addition to a gorgeous track with Brian Culbertson, Darius includes poppin’ vocal features by two next-gen R&B hipsters MAJOR and Ollie Gabriel.
A top vocal coach for J Lo and musical director for Gladys Knight who's also backed everyone from Beyonce and Mavis Staples to John Legend and Michael Lington, pianist, vocalist, arranger and composer John Fluker's hypnotic, ambient electronica piano driven new single "All About That Time" has fascinating origins. The track is a rhythm intensive remix (by Grammy winning engineer Elliott Peters) of the new age-oriented title track that Fluker recorded on his album 11:11. The intoxicating, slightly jazzier, funkier result features unique beats created by Fluker, backed by the subtle tight basslines of Isaias Elpes, Lee Ritenour's regular touring bassist. With the release of "All About That Time" Fluker makes an inspiring transition from successful new age artist to breakthrough Smooth Jazz artist.
A decade after first dazzling the Smooth Jazz world with their combined talents on the hit debut ALWAYS… Bay Area married couple George and Tracy Franklin – collectively known as GTF, a powerhouse ensemble, deliver an intoxicating mix of soul-sensual ballads and tight urban jazz with an edgy funk twist on their chart-dominating, sophomore release, CROSS PATHS. Iconic jazz great Bob James joins in on the fun and exuberance... While the deeper joys emerge from George’s lush bass lead and vocal stylings, Tracy’s background vocals and the explosive energy of band members, drummer Ron Otis (Earl Klugh, Kem, Aretha Franklin), percussionist Juan Escovedo (of the legendary Escovedo family) as well as GTFers John Rekevics, Richard “Blitz” Livoni and John Cain.
Truly embodying the concept of “old musical soul” at the ripe age of 23, multi-talented UK based singer songwriter Joe Hurworth beautifully blends old school, big production R&B with graceful low-key acoustic sensibilities on his second EP FOLLOWING YOUR HEART. Everything starts with his thoughtful, sensitive songwriting and a supple, emotive voice that draws as much inspiration from legends like Al Green and Michael McDonald as it does from contemporary greats Jason Mraz and Ed Sheeran. A passionate storyteller who weaves his tales in a multitude of styles, Hurworth is aces as producer as well, bringing lively funk grooves, sizzling brass accents and even hypnotic dance grooves to his guitar and keyboard grounded tracks.
While building an incredible multi-faceted career that has included being a top BMI composer, with over 10,000 performances in U.S. and European television and solo albums dating back to the mid-90s, keyboardist/composer Phil Klein has dreamed of finding the right time to record his own version of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless The Child.” An all-time favorite. “God Bless the Child Reimagined,” a colorful, lightly funky R&B/jazz driven vocal version featuring dreamy atmospheres, a hip horn arrangement, cool synth effects, a punchy sax solo and lush female backing vocals. Poignantly bringing eras of American History together, Klein has also created a timely video. One that shines a spotlight on the current state of emotionally charged race relations. The heartwarming video is a reminder that prejudice is taught and that children left to their own devices...are colorblind.
Anyone who's ever obsessed over doubts about a prospective romantic partner's true feelings or intentions will immediately connect with emerging indie singer/songwriter and pianist M'Lynn's new single "Paralyzed." An instantly infectious follow-up to her sultry debut track "T.F.I.L.," the hypnotic song's lyrics may be about a feeling of being helpless, but its seductive grooves, cool atmospheres, subtle horn textures and brief bass and guitar solos flow free and easy. Currently enrolled in the Bruce Hornsby Creative American Music songwriter program at the Frost School of Music in Miami, the Dallas born performer is a fresh new talent in the subtle jazz-soul vein of Sade and Norah Jones, yet with a mystical and ethereal vibe all her own.
Steeped now in his incredible fourth decade of contemporary urban jazz excellence and non-stop hit making, Grammy nominated saxophonist and flutist Najee finds exciting new ways to groove and mingle with the Smooth Jazz elite and up and comers on his perfectly titled 18th album CENTER OF THE HEART. Showcasing his amazing flute prowess more than ever before, he’s got everything from in your face, funky originals and elegant sultry ballads to an imaginative, danceable Maxwell cover and a transcendent twist on a Burt Bacharach/Dionne Warwick classic. A thoughtful instrumental storyteller, Najee shares the seductive narrative here with multi-talented rapper son Superb Clawson, Darren Rahn (a spectacular flute-sax jam), Greg Manning, Kenny Lattimore, Demonte Posey and emerging bass virtuoso Blair Bryant.
After recording sensual bossa nova versions of Beatles and Michael Jackson for producers in Brazil and Japan, Brazilian singer Lulu Joppert had a brilliant idea. Joining forces with pianist Marcos Ariel and arranger/multi-instrumentalist Marco Antonio Santos, she formed the cleverly titled trio Pop’n Bossa to create sophisticated bossa re-imaginings of hits by contemporary pop singers. First on the trio’s list is Bruno Mars, and they work their dazzling 24K magic on five of his most notable tunes on their infectious, percussively exotic, self-titled debut. In addition to presenting colorful twists and uncovering new emotions stirring in tunes we thought we knew, the EP is also an exciting showcase for Joppert’s alternately sultry and soaring vocals and Ariel’s adventurous ivory playing.
Since graduating from Ithaca College of Music in 2018 with a degree in voice (Opera believe it or not), ultra-hip pop, R&B and jazz influenced, Pittsburgh based singer/songwriter Stephen Rothhaar has been unstoppable. He follows his indie-acoustic EP HUMANS with the engaging, pure pop, ultra-danceable debut full length album MOMENTS. Helping take Rothhaar’s spirited soul sensibilities and instincts for creating infectious light pop gems to the next level is producer Nate Harasim, who fashions a slick, multi-faceted sonic landscape full of lightly funk contemporary beats, bright jazzy guitar jangle and a sensual seductive flow. In addition to showcasing Rothhaar’s multi-faceted artistry, the album includes impressive guest spots by globally acclaimed bassist Nathan East, chart-topping contemporary jazz guitarist Nils, vocalist Monica Notaro and the popular Detroit-based rapper K-Squeez.
Encapsulating the carefree days of summer, guitarist Will Sumner, delivers a brand new original collection ranging from coast-driving Smooth Jazz and slow grooves to exciting Latin rhythms on RIDE THE WAVE. The prolific, Southern California composer follows the lead of similarly, beachy themed collections, such as COAST DRIVE, PIER GROOVE and the craftily titled ENDLESS SUMNER. Drawing on an eclectic background that includes performing with Prince and Yanni and composing symphonies, Sumner infuses his signature sound of sensual rhythms and hypnotic melodies with a variety of genres and textures including blues licks and steel pans. RIDE THE WAVE concludes with a rock and soul tinged vocal take on a patriotic classic that will light up the 4th of July!
Listening Loft : MUST HAVES
A perfect synchronicity takes place between the title and overall vibe of “It’s a Party,” the high-spirited, playfully grooving new hit single by guitarist Keith Andrew. Written and produced by hitmaker and fellow Smooth Jazz guitarist Nils, the instantly infectious, coolly atmospheric track is as adventurous as the artist himself, easy flowing in the verses, then exploding into a crackling jam mode with bright, tasty licks darting off the melody on the chorus section. Along with Andrew’s previous hit “Cielo,” “It’s a Party” will appear on his forthcoming album SOUL EXPEDITION, which will feature Nils and Chris Standring.
If the Cruaders had ever taken a dip in the warm waters of Ipanema, the result would be something about as gloriously spirited and jazz-chilled as WAVE HUNTER, a unique project combining the melodically and rhythmically varied talents of veteran pianist/composer Marcos Ariel with remarkable guitarist Enéas Marques and world-classe drummer/producer Roberto Alemão. Ariel’s 32nd album fuses classic, soul jazz, alternately easy flowing and percussively charged melodies and grooves and including adventurous vocalese, the collection is a musical love letter to the sea, created by three musicians who share a lifelong passion for the waves in Rio de Janeiro and on the California Coast.
Freeing himself from a corporate job in organic produce, Salinas based guitarist, singer/songwriter Dan Beck followed his passion for musical journaling to create the truly organic sounding, stylistically eclectic Dan Beck Band. On their latest album PRIDE & ARROGANCE, Beck and his guitar, sax and violin driven ensemble engage in a playfully strutting swirl of jazz, rock, blues and Latin vibes that he collectively calls “Blue Jazz.” Creating soulful, enticing conversations, the group weaves its colorful tales via a mix of swinging instrumentals and coolly seductive, thought provoking vocals.
Fresh off another triumphant release by his spirited offshoot band Citrus Sun, guitarist/producer Bluey Maunick celebrates the 40th anniversary of his relentlessly jazzy, tightly grooving and horn-drenched collective, Incognito, with TOMORROW’S NEW DREAM - a tasty, high energy, stylistically multi-faceted set that embraces the future with funk adventurousness and sonic innovation. The vocals-dominated project features whimsical and heartfelt showcases for a wide variety of R&B singers – from familiar artists Joy Rose, Maysa, Phil Perry and Take 6 to a multitude of up and comers as well as newer discoveries, including Mario Biondi, Cherry V, Roberta Gentile and Vanessa Haynes.
A fascinating, diverse musical citizen of the world, guitarist/composer Reza Khan brings a wealth of progressive jazz and global fusion influences and sensibilities to NEXT TRAIN HOME. Featuring everything from dreamy funk and percussive, multi-cultural exchanges to fiery electric jazz fusion, the festive, extraordinarily intricate album was composed primarily in hotel rooms throughout Africa, where Khan traveled as part of his amazing “day job” as program manager for the United Nations. Khan’s essential tracks featuring Pat Metheny’s longtime bassist Mark Egan are enhanced by the colorful sound design of Philippe Saisse, along with dynamic contributions by Andy Snitzer, Jeff Kashiwa and Nils.
Veteran guitarist, producer and composer Torcuato Mariano was born in Argentina but has been living in Brazil, working with many of its top jazz musicians since the late 70s. He celebrates 25 years as a recording artist with ESCOLA BRASILEIRA – literally “Brazilian School” - a dynamically textured, rhythmically eclectic romp through a multitude of that culture’s sophisticated and exotic jazz-related styles. Backed by lush strings and horns, Mariano surrounds his snappy playing with guest performances by Brazilian greats, singer-songwriter Djavan, pianist Cesar Camargo Mariano, bandolinist Hamilton de Holanda and harmonica player Gabriel Grossi. Also featured is renowned American vocalist Toni Scruggs.
The title of Mike & Tanya Smith’s new album SPREAD LOVE is a clear double entendre referring not only to the multi-talented couple’s desire to use music as a vehicle to foster a more loving world, but also to their own personal and professional relationship. With the names of the songs weaving a colorful emotional narrative, the ballads and mid-tempo R&B slo jams are seductive showcases for Mike’s crisp and fluid electric guitar and his and Tanya’s dreamy soul voices, both as leads and in beautiful harmony.
Classically trained singer, songwriter and pianist Jeanne Newhall celebrates her 30th anniversary as a recording artist with CRANES AMONG CLOUDS, an emotionally moving, profoundly spiritual and deeply intimate and personal set that includes five heartfelt originals (four vocals, one instrumental) and an exquisite, soft-spoken cover of a Paul Simon classic. Inspired by her profound creative connection with Japanese guitarist, Kazunori Koga, who complements her lush piano with his graceful, lilting guitar. "Kazunori and I have the rare gift of a highly intuitive musical sense,” Newhall explains. Acclaimed violinist Charlie Bisharat contributes additional inspiring strings to the project. Jeanne soulfully blends her classical, jazz and pop influences with a theme rooted in the Asian symbolism of the crane as the six songs fit together like pieces of a puzzle.
Phaze II’s fifth and latest album boasts the clever title NO COVER CHARGE, but their kind of finely honed, supremely cool eclectic magic is worth any price! Now well into their third decade lighting the jazz, funk, Latin and R&B fires in their hometown of Washington, DC, the six-piece super-ensemble Phaze II – onetime winners of the Capital Jazz Challenge Competition - alternates their flow between silky, seductive cool, fiery, wild energy storms and infectious, easy grooving mid-tempo tunes. They balance their more muscular, rocking offerings with dreamier pieces clearly and designed to melt the heart.
With a sparkling saxophone vibe that’s been lighting up the Pacific Northwest for years, Kenney Polson – who’s appeared on TV with greats like David Sanborn and Wynton Marsalis - has blended Smooth Jazz with a wide variety of influences, including Latin, classical, R&B/funk and gospel. True to its title FOR LOVERS ONLY, Polson’s latest recording finds him creating a tight, soulful ensemble with members of Tower of Power, Kool & the Gang and Parliament, among others. Soothing, romantic and lyrical, the album builds an easy groove with new compositions and satisfying classics.
Getting back to making music full time after years where other priorities took precedence, guitarist, keyboardist and composer Jim Richter taps back into his rock/blues roots with a mix of deep soulfulness, playful buoyancy and fiery intensity on his new album BREEZY DAY. Hitting all the infectious yet artsy-cool sweet spots of Steely Dan and Larry Carlton, he offers dreamy ballads, funk jams, island delights and bluesy grit – in addition to playful titles that pay homage to Bill Evans and Weather Report.
Time waits for no man… however Paolo Rustichelli’s innovative sound ensures that his music will live on forever! The Roman artist’s unique signature sound has inspired a generation of Chillout enthusiasts who use the modern, electronic grooves to decompress and unwind. Known for his pioneering of the electro chill jazz genre, Paolo returns with the 2nd single from his forthcoming 2020 album TEMPUS FUGIT. “Hypnofunk” oozes with retro cool grooves with a nod to the 1970’s psychedelic era, when this composer was in his teens and already scoring movies with only a piano and the first prototype of a monophonic Moog. With many noteworthy fans, including musical colleagues Carlos Santana and Miles Davis, Paolo recalls a dinner with Federico Fellini where he and the famous director were discussing UFOs as Fellini drew extraterrestrial images on a napkin, inspiring “Hypnofunk” decades later!
When you grow up, as Tony Saunders did, with godparents like Wynton Kelly and Jimmy Smith, relentless jazz funk becomes part of your DNA. The two-time Emmy winning veteran bassist, composer, arranger and producer – son of legendary Bay Area keyboardist Merl Saunders - brings the goods on his sizzling, amped up re-imagining of The Whispers’ late 1980s #1 R&B jam “Rock Steady.” Vibin’ powerfully with guitarist Nils and weaving in and around dynamic horn section energy, Saunders whets our whistle for the old school and contemporary fusion he’s bringing to his upcoming album SEXY SOMETHIN’.
Listening Loft : ESSENTIALS
When most people think of Smooth Jazz horns, only the sax and trumpet come to mind – but trombonist Hank Bilal is changing all that with his spectacularly melodic, funky, sassy brassy debut album THE BLACK AQUARIUS. Bilal showcases his virtuosity and improvisational skills on a set showcasing his bright, emotionally resonant tone on a snazzy blend of old and new school soul sensibilities and playful excursions into gospel and Latin territory. Guests Marcus Anderson and Gerald Albright are also on hand to create fascinating brass conversations.
On CITY NIGHTS, his sparkling, emotionally compelling first collection of all original material after four albums of cover songs, Swiss based singer/songwriter Thierry Condor artfully and soulfully blends vibes from his distinctly European roots with a lighthearted, Bobby Caldwell-esque West Coast retro pop/jazz vibe. Working with luminaries like two-time Grammy winning guitarist Jay Graydon and keyboardist Russell Ferrante, Condor brings romance and playfulness to tunes that take us from sunny California to the South of France. Go explore these sultry CITY NIGHTS!
She’s called the “The Saxophone Queen” because she IS! Fostina Dixon delivers hard-hitting, deeply grooving, slickly and soulfully produced urban jazz on her latest album VERTICAL ALIGNMENT. The multi-talented artist - whose decades long resume includes Abbey Lincoln, Roy Ayers, Prince and Marvin Gaye – weaves her emotional, gospel inflected magic on soprano, alto and baritone (not to mention flute and clarinet) with equal sparkle and funk.
If you feel an ultra-hipster, shimmering pop/R&B vibe coming through when you listen to Sheldon Ferguson’s infectious, hypnotic electric guitar melody and improvisations on his latest easy funk single “Take You There,” it’s not a coincidence. When he’s not burning it up as a Smooth Jazz Artist, he’s a major Grammy nominated force behind the scenes in mainstream pop, co-writing and producing mega-hits like “Don’t Check On Me” by Chris Brown and Justin Bieber and coloring others like Travis Scott’s “Yosemite” with his distinctive acoustic flair. “Take You There” is a sneak peek of good things to come from his forthcoming album LOVE LANGUAGES.
Fast emerging Smooth Jazz trumpeter Keith Fiala is honing his craft with the masters, starring in Maynard Ferguson’s Big Bop Nouveau Band and serving as longtime personal assistant to Arturo Sandoval. His latest single, the vibey, heavy thumping, brass-fired “Wanna Be With You,” is an old school, soul-jazz jam that draws from two dynamic influences – Fiala inspirations, Earth, Wind & Fire and the classic Jerry Hey horn arrangements for the ensemble.
A completely self-made independent arranger, composer, singer, producer and online entrepreneur, Jhavali has overcome great financial and emotional setbacks in recent years to emerge now as a force in Smooth Jazz with her sensual and hypnotic debut single “Ooh-Woh-Ooh-Woh.” Connecting early in 2019 via Instagram with Bob Baldwin, Jhavali fuses her unique old school sensibilities with the keyboardist and producer’s easy poppin’ melodies and grooves to create this truly fresh and seductive flow.
Richmond, VA bassist Brandon Lane celebrates his recent Masters of Music degree in Jazz Studies from North Carolina Central University with a funk-filled, mightily melodic grooving EP, with a title tells us exactly what’s in store, OLDSOULMUSIC! Influenced by everyone from Marcus Miller and Stanley Clarke to Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind & Fire, Lane’s balance of snappy, in your face intensity and simmering chill vibes pays glorious homage to the classic R&B era while infusing his youthful contemporary sensibilities.
The title of Brian Lenair’s latest single “Silky Soul” says it all – classy and sexy, with breezy, laidback vibes that make it a smooth, romantic soundtrack. The veteran Washington DC saxophonist, who’s performed with the likes of Will Downing, Maysa, Billy Paul, Pieces of a Dream and Al Jarreau, grounds his intensely emotional playing and bright horn section sizzle in a deep, funky bottom that adds visceral dance energy to the spirited mix. Produced by Mr. Silky Soul himself, Chris “Big Dog” Davis, for Lenair’s upcoming full album!
After years of playing keyboards in gospel, rock and funk bands, Swiss born musician, composer producer and electronic engineer Lucas Leuthold gave himself the ultimate 40th birthday gift – DANCING ON GOLDEN STREETS, his fun and fiery yet often deeply heartfelt multi-faceted debut album. Joining forces with top session musicians from Switzerland and Germany, Leuthold buoyantly mixes tight grooves, and deeply emotional melodies and fiery jazz-rock with touches of passionate romance and thoughtful spirituality.
With the release of his latest album GOING LEFT, saxophonist and independent label entrepreneur Dee Lucas celebrates 15 years bringing a deep, lyrical sensibility to Smooth Jazz, that both hits and transcends a soulful sweet spot. With a vibe driven by infectious melodies, vibrant horn textures and dreamy atmospheres, Lucas delivers a collection that includes a batch of fashionable originals, a trippy, exotic African music adventure and a sensual revisit of a Frankie Beverly & Maze classic.
Japanese born, Atlanta based pianist and composer Madoca™ has traveled and performed all over the world, and her latest album ILLUSIONS OF LOVE cheerfully offers the deeply soulful, eclectically grooving equivalent of this dynamic multi-cultural wanderlust. Produced by fellow keyboardist and artist Bob Baldwin, the engaging collection blends seductive, in the pocket Smooth Jazz with spirited swing tunes, straight ahead jazz ballads and even a high-octane Latin jazz jam.
Multi-talented songwriter, guitarist and entrepreneur Sly Moore continues to bring his crisp, inventive string energy and lushly melodic sensibilities to the Smooth Jazz genre after making his mark as a producer for top record labels like Universal Republic and MCA and his own Jambeat Entertainment II. His latest single “The Sweetest Thing” is a silky, picture-perfect romantic track blending his crackling guitar with old school keyboard sensibilities, cool ambiences, dreamy vocals and touches of soulful soprano sax.
With a background that includes being part of 70’s-80’s funk groups Brass Construction and Skyy, flautist/keyboardist Randy Muller has been defining his musical DNA with old school dance grooves for decades. Ten years after his critically acclaimed GROOVIN’ U, the visionary artist/producer blasts into the Smooth Jazz mix leading the perfectly titled collective Boom Chang Bang to create the ultimate high-octane party collection WELCOME TO MY LIFE. It’s a powerful, non-stop celebration of everything from jazz-inflected 70’s disco/soul to alternately silky and feisty Brazilian and salsa beats.
Once cleverly dubbed “the missing link between Pharoah Sanders and Kool & the Gang,” the innovative, relentlessly grooving Plunky & Oneness – led by world renowned saxophonist J. Plunky Branch – has been kicking up the funk, soul, Smooth Jazz, electronica and African percussion for more than 30 years. True to its titular mission, their latest album AFROCLECTIC uses its zesty brew of exotic Afro-funk, cool nu jazz, dreamy neo-soul and global fusion as a backdrop for empowering, socially conscious messages spreading universal love!
If you love Brian Culbertson and Jonathan Fritzen, you’ll enjoy both grooving hard and swaying gracefully while hearing the magical fingers of Swedish keyboardist/composer Mattias Roos on his latest album IT GOES ON AND ON. Artfully alternating between his lively, melodic piano adventures and infectious old school keyboards, Roos captures every emotion possible on a collection full of slammin’ funk jams, breezy mid-tempo romps and vibey, atmospheric ballads. Roos’ guests include crackling Smooth Jazz guitarist U-Nam and soulful trumpeter Markus Asplund.