Best known to audiences throughout the world as the lead trumpeter for international superstar Michael Buble for the past decade, multi-faceted singer, entertainer and musician Jumaane Smith made his highly anticipated début at the well-known Metropolitan Room on October 1, 2014.
Celebrating the release of his critically acclaimed independent standards-filled début album I Only Have Eyes For You, Smith’s dynamic 75 minute set featured material from the recording in addition to new arrangements of classics by Buble, Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima, Joe Williams/Count Basie, adult contemporary hits like You Are So Beautiful and R&B tunes like Just The Way You Are. The trumpeter’s seven piece band incorporates elements of traditional Dixieland jazz, swing, blues, contemporary jazz, adult contemporary and soul. His sound is so cool!
CD release party for I Only Have Eyes For You in place for November 28th, 2014 at Joe’s Pub – NYC – 7:30 PM.
“I’m very much looking forward to joining these great musicians for my first solo show in Manhattan,” says Smith, whose collaborations range from pop idols to jazz legends, including Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Alicia Keys, The Jonas Brothers, Wyclef Jean, Diddy, Natalie Cole, James Ingram, Wynton Marsalis Ravi Coltrane, Chris Botti and others. The Metropolitan Room is a prestigious, intimate venue which is perfect for my show and its focus, the sentiment of love and romance. I am most excited to finally be making my first appearance in NYC after so many years of being a featured guest artist and sideman.”
Executive produced by Smith and produced by Dave Pierce, I Only Have Eyes For You is a lush celebration of the Great American Songbook featuring interpretations of classics full of personal emotion. The collection includes vocal performances by Smith; Buble’s impeccable styling on Come Rain or Come Shine, the A Capella group Naturally 7 put their spin on I Only Have Eyes For You, and pop classical sensation Jackie Evancho [America Got talent] sassy delivery of La Vie En Rose. Got to give shayna Steele her props. She owned Please Send Me Someone to Love, the perfect pairing of song and vocalist!
Sandy Shore, president of SmoothJazz.com global radio, says of the collection that it’s “an instant essential album, one that is definitive and timeless, a jazz recording appealing to a wide audience of music enthusiast with cool, classic sensibilities…This is a must have…delightfully pleasing to the ears!”
Will Friedwald of the Wall Street Journal echoes these words, calling Smith a “terrific trumpeter.”
One of 17 musicians (including four trumpeters) invited to join the inaugural class of Jazz Studies at the Julliard School in 2001; Smith, trained there for four years on a full scholarship, has appeared on many Grammy winning recordings. His musical accomplishments include playing the Grammy Awards show with Stevie Wonder and the Jonas Brothers; recording “As I Am” with Alicia Keys; appearing on the “American Idol” soundtrack, and scoring and performing music for the film “Handsome Harry.”
“This young man and his horn is pure entertainment. He along with his band of talented musicians and vocalists seamlessly crossed music genres weaving a musical collective that is sure to satisfy the taste of the most discriminating jazz digger’s palate. I Only Have Eyes For You is cool, smooth and will definitely put you in a mellow mood.”… ABYSSJazz
Back with his first contemporary jazz foray in five years, trumpeter Rick Braun is taking it to the top. Get Up And Dance, his fun-filled frolic with sax sensation Dave Koz has become the song of the summer, it was the first cut issued from Braun’s sixteenth set, Can You Feel It, which was released by Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Records.
Braun produced and wrote or co-wrote nine songs on the new session that revisits the spirit of his twenty-year-old breakthrough collection, Beat Street, reflects his past playing in Warand conjures the mighty Tower of Power. The eleven-song record showcases Braun collaborating with some of the finest instrumental artisans including Koz, charismatic keyboardist Brian Culbertson (Back To Back), sax heavyweight Euge Groove (Take Me To The River and Dr. Funkenstein), fusion pioneer Jeff Lorber (Delta and Radar), old soul singer Elliott Yamin (Take Me To The River) and keyboardist-arranger Philippe Saisse, who played on five tunes, co-penned the title track and authored the disc’s lone ballad, the beauty Another Kind of Blue.
Can You Feel It instinctively brings Rick Braun back full circle, an offering guaranteed to satiate listeners who have been on the carousel with the multidimensional horn man while luring new ones to climb aboard. There is a crisp freshness and vibrancy evident in the new material mirroring the great pleasure he derives from making it. The devoted family man feels most comfortable when surrounded by friends while making funk-enriched contemporary jazz using live instrumentation. “It is a return to who I’ve been for so many years,” Braun concludes. “It is a return to being funky. It felt like it was time to keep the funk element alive and well. I’m grateful that people still want to hear what I have to say [musically]. That’s beautiful and miraculous.”
“Yes Rick, I Can Feel It, you, and your crew. Oo-we-baby Can You Feel It is sweet, it knocks you off your feet. I love the grooves, the funk, and the fun of hearing you and your friends break it down and bring the pain. Way to go Mr. Braun! Highly recommended … ABYSSJazz!”
You can feel his genuine sense of gratitude as much as you can feel the joy he pours into his music and the fun he has creating it. On Can You Feel It, Rick Braun fondly conjures the spirit of Beat Street in a return to his jazz-funk roots while continuing to record and collaborate with old and new musical friends.
The first video from Can You Feel It is a live in-studio performance of Get Up And Dance featuring Euge Groove, Enjoy!
Chances are you’ve spent your entire life listening to Nathan East. You just never knew it; until now.
A founding member of the chart-topping contemporary jazz group Fourplay, East was 16 years old when he got his first break and found himself on the road with Barry White. The next time the phone rang, Quincy Jones was on the line. The calls kept coming and for the last forty years, East has been churning out hit songs with artist as legendary as Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, Beyonce, Barbara Streisand, and Stevie wonder.
His genre-crossing groove has earned him both the recognition, a Congressional Record for his contribution to the worldwide music community, and the boundary-busting respect of his peers illustrated by his current appearances on two hit records as diverse as Andrea Bocelli’s Passione and Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories.
Communing with friends is a theme for East so it was only natural that he team up with Yamaha Entertainment Group, with whom he has a professional relationship for over 30 years. “They have had an undeniable world presence, so when Chris Gero started this label and hared his vision, I was in from the first ask.”
Less obvious to east was how to approach stepping out as a lead artist. “I always felt, especially as a bassist, that a solo album was a very difficult thing to try to come up with. I’m used to a more supportive role playing as a sideman, which is why it’s taken me this long to actually get my head around what kind of record to make.”
But the uncertainty stopped there. “Chris said, ‘I don’t want to just make an album that you’d predict you would make. I want you to come away from it with that feeling of “what just happened?!’ He has all these ideas going on and he’s hearing symphonies in his head. It’s like Quincy Jones, where he has a knack of putting ideas and people together. Chris comes with an exceptional production value and wants everything to be epic, so we’re trying to bring that spirit to this record.”
And spirited it is. Joined by a veritable who’s who of fellow musicians and vocalists, East immersed himself in the studio experience. “The thing I love most about the recording process is that you never know exactly whist’s going to happen. I always leave room for that element of surprise because so often it’s what you didn’t plan on that turn into the focal point – that magic moment – on the record.”
One such moment is the triumphant re-imaging of Pat Matheny’s Letter From Spain, where soaring orchestration contrast poignantly with the track’s pensive mood. It’s exactly the kind of narrative in which East gravitates. “I tend to lean toward passionate ballads and I’ve asked Michael McDonald, one of my favorite singers, to join us on the record. There’s just so much emotion and heart in his music.”
Destined to capture every heart is East duet on Yesterday with his 13 year old son Noah, who plays the piano. “Noah came to the studio, put the headphones on and the sound was so beautiful his face just lit up! It’s surreal to play with your son. You are changing his diapers one minute and nest thing, you’re making music with this person.”
East keeps it in the family with one of four co-written songs on the album, 101 Eastbound, a tune penned along with his brother Marcel East. Originally released over 20 years ago on Fourplay’s debut album and newly imbued with an exotic flair, the track captures the vitality of East’s diverse range.
Glowing with meticulous attention to detail, east tackles the anthemic America the Beautiful with a ferocity befitting its title. “I travel around the world visiting many different countries but I must say, I always look forward to coming home.” East continues, “I kiss the ground because even on a rainy day, America is till beautiful.” One thing is certain – the world is listening to Nathan East. “Now that I have an association with Get Lucky, a song that has been played around the world, we thought it would be fun to celebrate that part of my playing on the record. Why not keep the party going?! So Michael Thompson wrote a fun song in the spirit of that music and we called it Daft Funk.”
In the spirit of Nathan east, the album is energized with relentless generosity as he leads –and cede – the way for his friends and fellow musicians to shine. As a result, “You can tell a difference in the way the music feels, East explains, “they’re calling it a solo album, but I consider it everybody’s record.”
East admits, he’s been blessed with a gift. And it’s one that we’ll gladly accept
The long awaited self-titled album by Nathan east will be in stores March 25, 2014 and features longtime guest collaborators Sara Bareilles, bob James, Eric Clapton, Michael McDonald, Stevie wonder, David Paich, Ray Parker Jr., Chuck Loeb, and many others.
Nathan East, the album like the man, is the bomb. It’s cool, it’s smooth, with plenty attitude. Every track is a gem … great compositions, fantastic arrangements, and fine musicianship … it doesn’t get any better than this! Highly recommended, the must have CD for jazz lovers! ~ ABYSSJazz
Twenty celebrates a milestone in the career of New York native/Arranger/Producer/Entrepreneur Bob Baldwin and represents 20 disc in 25 years, which has been a great journey for Baldwin.
“I remember growing up listening to great records by Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones. Meeting Herbie in L.A. and Mr. Hubbard at the Blue Note/NYC in the late 70s had a profound impact on my career and as a result I wanted to salute them both with a couple of pieces on Twenty, Butterfly and Chameleon [Hancock] and Red Clay [Hubbard].
For me it’s always been about pushing that envelope because I don’t really think it’s possible to be totally original anymore because of the huge amount of music in the universe,” says Baldwin, “however, the challenge is still to maintain your own voice so that when people hear your music, they say, ‘Oh, that’s Herbie or Quincy,” or hopefully, that’s Bob Baldwin on the keys.”
Twenty is part of that evolution of honoring your voice and using great musicians to bring the best out of you and vice versa. “Tap into the Baldwin sound and explore his special brand of music magic” … ABYSSJazz!
It was the beginning of November when two-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Jonathan Butler released his first Christmas album, Merry Christmas To You, and launched the Jonathan Butler Foundation in his South African homeland to fund music education programs to inspire children to overcome a life of drugs and poverty. Butler, who completed a media tour in several South African cities and performed two concerts there in September to raise funds for the foundation, will soon form a U. S. affiliate to support the foundation’s music and arts programs in South Africa for children ages 4-17.
Butler grew up in South Africa under Apartheid the youngest of 17 children and it was music “The Jonathan Butler Foundation is about building new legacies and I’ve wanted to help the children in my native land fulfill their dreams. Teaming with the local governments to reclaim our children from the drug lords, we teach the kids to sing and play instruments. These are free-born children and it is about their legacies and saving them from drugs and poverty that rescued him from drugs and extreme poverty thus the inspiration for the foundation comes from personal experience and a desire that has gestated for more than 20 years. There is immense talent over there (South Africa) and down the road we hope to release compilation albums in the U.S. to help sustain the foundation and its diversion programs,” says Butler.
The guitar-playing troubadour was 13 when he released his debut album and became the first black artist played on white radio stations in South Africa.
Butler wrote, produced and played most of the instruments on Merry Christmas To You, an intimate 10-song set released by Artistry Music that showcases the singer with his acoustic guitar. The sparse production maintains focus on the spiritually-impassioned Butler belting out seven Christmas standards, one little known gem Sweet Little Jesus Boy and a pair of soulful originals authored by the artist, including the title cut and Happy Holidays. My personal favorites are Sleigh Ride driven by Butler’s fervent fretwork and the malt shop ballad Merry Christmas To You, which Butler charismatically croons and decorates with elegant jazz guitar riffs. Adding horn section parts to a couple of tunes are contemporary jazz aces Rick Braun, Dave Koz and Paul “Shilts” Weimer.
Oo-we-baby! Mr. Butler put his feet, both elbows, and his knee caps into making Merry Christmas To You. It is definitely one of the best Holiday recordings I have heard in many a year. Soulful and spirited remakes of Christmas favorites with that Butler touch … Afrocentric yet universal in every way that it counts … Highly Recommended ~ this will be a classic ~ bet! … ABYSSJazz
On the 20th anniversary of its release, the multi-instrumentalist hit-maker returns to his contemporary jazz roots to remake his debut album joined by many of the accomplished artists that inspired him.
Brian Culbertson was a 20-year-old student at DePaul University recording demos in his bedroom “studio” in a crowded apartment that he shared with three roommates above a costume shop on a busy Chicago street. Those demos not only landed the then trombone player in DePaul’s jazz ensemble a record deal, but they were released a year later – February 1994 – as part of his debut album, “Long Night Out” on which Culbertson played most of the instruments himself. Twenty years later, he’s an award-winning recording artist, songwriter and producer who is currently in the studio revisiting that first collection of songs that will be released in February 2014 as “Another Long Night Out,” but this time he’ll be accompanied by many of the contemporary jazz artists who influenced him when making the original.
Culbertson’s recent releases have primarily been excursions aboard R&B and funk grooves thus “Another Long Night Out” marks a return to his roots in contemporary jazz. Among the preeminent musicians joining him in the recording studio to play on the 11-song album are the Rippington’s Russ Freeman, Eric Marienthal, Candy Dulfer, Toto’s Steve Lukather, Paul Jackson Jr., Fourplay’s Chuck Loeb and Nathan East, Jimmy Haslip and Will Kennedy of Yellowjackets fame, Ricky Lawson, Michael Thompson, Lenny Castro, Michael Bland, Patches Stewart and a 38-piece orchestra with additional legendary artists soon to be added. Culbertson is producing the record.
Culbertson discusses the new project and shares footage from some of the recording sessions in his latest video blog presented below. Brian …
I heard what sounded like a Paul Taylor lick, his signature lilt, as I listened to More Pressure, the first tract on Live2Love and that got my attention. However Ms. Grayson’s personality began to emerge and along with her gifted crew, a great bass line, and a jamming keyboard I was compelled to listen to rest of her story!
Theresa Grayson wears her passion for soulful pop music proudly. From Aretha Franklin, Hall & Oats, Sade and Tony! Toni! Toné! to Bruno Mars, Maroon 5 and John Legend, the saxophonist-flutist mines hits from decades past to present on her sophomore album, Live2Love. The disc showcases five soul-jazz originals, four of which were penned by Grayson including the first radio single, Afterthoughts, an urbane track featuring soprano sax, scat-like vocalization and live instrumentation typical of the set from producer Terence Fisher
As a songwriter and arranger Ms. Grayson has represented her self well. I am particularly drawn to the interpretive slant placed on the slower tunes, the more soulful offerings on this disc, [Natural Women, Spend My Life, and Just A Litle Time]. Don’t get me wrong, the faster paced songs are impressive too. However, the seductive grooves of the less aerobic fare offered here for our listening pleasure were calling my name.
Grayson does not exhibit the same skill level with vocals as she does with her primary instruments, sax and flute, which is a slight distraction [Smooth Operator, lead vocals] because the difference in skill levels when playing and singing on the same track was noticeable but definitely not a turn off.
Ms. Grayson alternates beautifully between expressive tenor and soprano sax on Live2Love made even better by graceful flute accompaniments. Lush arrangements ~ a skill set to die for ~ I expect to hear a lot more from Theresa Grayson in the future. A star on the rise … Live2Love highly recommended. ABYSSJazz!
… Prodigious guitarist Lawson Rollins’ Full Circle, a riveting 12-song aural adventure, crammed with culture and masterful musicianship is like traversing the world without the hassles of modern travel. Rollins’ fourth album, which he produced with multi-platinum producer Dominic Camardella (Ottmar Liebert, Flora Purim, 3rd Force), explores the border-less expanse of captivating melodies and fascinating global rhythms while discovering multicultural sounds that play like the ideal soundtrack for an intriguing National Geographic expedition.
Rollins guitar work is amazing … creativity + superb skill = Full Circle a profusion of interesting musical styles. Strongly Recommended ~ ABYSSJazz
Who doesn’t want a Sweeter Life? With timeless vocals reminiscent of greats like Natalie Cole and Nancy Wilson, Delilah sings from her enchanted Gypsy soul spinning tales and delivering the history of the Roma in the modern world with the release of Sweeter Life (aka A Sweeter Life).
The heavy-hitting producers on Sweeter Life include Grammy® nominated Vikter Duplaix, (Earth Wind and Fire, Erykah Badu, and Incognito) on A Sweeter Life and My Happiness, along with Canada’s top earning songwriter and producer Marcus Kane/Rane Parish for Magic and Queendom. Lemoyne Alexander (R. Kelly and Aaliyah) produced Love Me, I’ll Be Over You, Precious Love, Unbelievable and Hello, while Dave Sereny (guitarist and founder of the Groove United music label) produced Tell Me and Love Life. Featured artists on the CD include the Steve Wonder rhythm section of Nathan Watts and Stanley Randolph. During the developmental stages of her US solo career, a few tracks from the Sweeter Life CD were featured in a CD known as A Sweeter Life. However, as a struggling artist on the rise, this CD never had a chance to be fully brought to life. Favorite tracks were pulled from the album and seven new songs were added to create the CD simply titled Sweeter Life.
“Once in a great while, you find a voice with a certain ethereal quality that speaks to the soul. When I first heard Delilah sing I felt that. It’s been a joy working with this gifted singer and her musician partner Dave Sereny. As her producer, I am very grateful for the life she brought to my songs. I’m looking forward to the world discovering this great artist,” – Jim Peterik, songwriter
“The old became new and we, music lovers, have been given a reprieve; we get to experience Delilah and her artistry as she takes center stage with Sweeter Life, and for that I am so very grateful. Her sound is amazing; relax, release and be restored with music from the soul to the soul!” – ABYSSJazz