Category Archives: Album Reviews
She’s one of four. And now she’s on her own. Lauren Kinhan of the New York Voices steps out with Circle in a Square (Dotted i Records, 2014). It’s her third solo album.
Kinhan has been with New York Voices for two decades. Following up on her acclaimed 2010 release, Avalon, she presents a set of 12 original songs that are as much about the instruments as they are about her voice.
Andy Ezrin provides piano or Hammond B3 organ on all but one track. David Finck and Will Lee split bass duties. Ben Wittman has drums on all tracks and percussion on most. Among the other contributors are trumpeter Randy Brecker, saxophonists Joel Frahm and Donny McCaslin, and guitarists Romero Lubambo and Chuck Loeb.
The title song, with music co-written by Kinhan with Ada Rovatti and lyrics by Kinhan, features the vocalist with a small ensemble that includes Lee, Wittman and Brecker. It’s a charming piece that highlights the instruments as well as the voice. Kinhan’s bouncy vocal adds a nice touch.
“Chasing the Sun” highlights Kinhan’s scatting skill. Aaron Heick contributes on alto flute with the core trio and Lubambo joining the accompaniment. Kinhan really stretches out here, demonstrating her range and vocal dexterity. Wittman shows off a bit during the guitar solo.
Fellow New York Voices member Peter Eldridge co-wrote the music and plays piano on the closing track, “The Deep Within.” Frahm joins them on tenor sax.
Kinhan is an exceptional blend with her “day job” as a member of New York Voices. The team concept is also evident on Circle in a Square. She showcases her talent as a songwriter and vocalist throughout, while highlighting the gifts of her accompanists. Each musician puts his or her stamp on the songs without necessarily needing a solo to be heard.
As a young turk on the contemporary jazz scene, saxophonist Jackiem Joyner is far from complacent and staid in his sound and style. Not afraid to challenge the fan base that took him to No. 1 twice and Top 3 two more times on the Billboard chart, Joyner gets adventurous on his fifth album, “Evolve,” which will be released April 29th by Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Records. It’s his first on which he wrote and produced the entire set, including the first single going to radio in mid-March, “Generation Next,” an up-tempo urban-pop track with vibrant flashes of strings that provide a contrast to Joyner’s gentle melodic sax.
Juxtaposing invigorating otherworldly sonicscapes under tender sax melodies, “Evolve” is a dynamic, highly-rhythmic session that is unpredictable laced with traces of the familiar. Listening will take you to a different place while defining Joyner as a musician and a writer beyond what we have already heard from the chart-topping rhythm and groove guy. The imaginative new set has a greater purpose with the introductory single, “Generation Next,” serving as “a declaration that the next generation of jazz musicians is here to stay. Music evolves, including jazz. All types of sound evolve. So do people and our imaginations. That is what I tried to put on tape. ‘Evolve’ captures the changes in my musical mind and how I have evolved as an artist. Rather than fitting in with the traditional, I’m bringing the audience along with songs that unfold over different and interesting soundscapes even as I move towards a live organic sound,” explains Joyner.
In addition to playing alto and soprano sax on the record, Joyner is a multi-instrumentalist who played many of the instruments heard on the collection along with a couple of high-profile assists from Grammy-nominated sax player Gerald Albright and internationally-renowned keyboardist Keiko Matsui. The collaborations are noteworthy for different reasons. When Joyner was in high school, Albright was his idol thus dueting with him on “Big Step” was a thrill. Joyner tours in Matsui’s band when not performing his own dates and wrote “Europa” with her mind. On a few tracks, he was joined by his touring band – guitarist Kayta Matsuno, bassist Tim Bailey, keyboardist Bill Steinway and drummer Raymond Johnson – to record live in the studio.
“Evolve” marks a return for Joyner to the contemporary jazz-urban instrumentals for which he achieved notoriety on his first three albums after 2012’s “Church Boy,” an offering that landed on Billboard’s Jazz Albums and Top Gospel Albums charts. Joyner was named Debut Artist of the Year for his 2007 debut, “Babysoul,” by Smooth Jazz News. His sophomore set, “Lil’ Man Soul,” registered a pair of No. 1 Billboard hits with “I’m Waiting For You” reigning for 12 weeks and winning Song of the Year honors at the 2009 American Smooth Jazz Awards. Two singles from Joyner’s self-titled third record climbed into Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Songs Top 3. He’s toured the world extensively in support of each release and anticipates a busy year of touring in 2014 – both with his own band and with Matsui. For more information, please visit www.JackiemJoyner.com and www.facebook.com/jackiemjoyner .
“Evolve” contains the following song titles:
“Born To Fly”
“See Through Me”
“A Gentle Walk On Water”
This highly anticipated album is a perfect blend of the new sound of West Coast jazz guitar coupled with the smooth cool sound of West Coast sax that touches your very soul.
Gonna Be Alright is arrived at CDBaby.
Chart Topping/Award Winning Smooth Jazz recording artist Funkee Boy follows up his award winning/#1 selling CD “Philosoulphy” with his 3rd CD “Soul Pupose”. This stellar CD blends Funkee Boy’s signature keyboard playing/songwriting/music production w/ A-List artists Warren Hill, Najee, Bob Baldwin, Cindy Bradley, Nick Colionne, LEILA, Surface, Lamone, Timmy Maia, Tevin Michael and more!!!
These stellar artists come together on my new CD that features 9 original songs along with hot smooth jazz cover versions of Bruno Mars smash hits “Treasure” & “Just The Way You Are”. Funkee Boy also grooves to R.Kelly’s “Step In The Name Of Love”, and then slow it down with the Eagles classic ballad “I Can’t Tell You Why”.
Soul Purpose takes the listener on a journey starting off with the Uptempo tracks “Bonafide” & “Let It Flow”. Then it embraces your smooth & soulful side with tracks “Deja Vu”, “Karma”, & “Keystroke. There are also brilliantly written lyrics on the RnB vibes “Bring Back The Days” and “Satisfied”. Funkee Boy then plays with your senses and invokes a certain type of mood by drawing on the 50 Shades Of Grey inspiration with the solo piano piece “Escala”.
Check out Funkee Boy’s new album at CDBaby.
The 25th Street Band are writers, arrangers and producers Russ Klinger and Dave Radnor. They play keyboards, guitars and programming. Since their debut album The key of H (2007) we had to wait seven years. Now the wait is over with their return Dawn Of My Career (2014).
Guesting from LA are drummer Tom Brechtlein, and bassist Hussain Jiffry, from Toronto flutist Bill McBirnie, from the UK sax player Mornington Lockett, on vocals Ann Bailey, and Ollie James.
Skyway comes with a lot of joy and effortless ease. Mornington Lockett presents the basic melody in a new light. From the middle of the piece, the group interprets the piece as a naughty rock jazz before they turn back to the smooth jazz style.
Golden Moments is featuring songstress Ann Bailey richly decorated with a string orchestra. Grand Central Station is outlined with hip bass rhythm and snappy keyboard runs. The group also has the courage to chaotic elements. A little rock, turntable scratching and more. I am happy to hear the familiar keyboard sounds of Roland.
Timo falls out of the ordinary. The intro is from the hip-hop, the vocal part is reminiscent of priestly chorales, then goes something into Latin. A roller coaster ride of musical styles. Rock and jazz enter into a palatable communion on Beat. Dawn Of My Career presents a splendid triumvirate of keyboard, guitar and vocals.
Jazzira is by far the longest piece of this album with a length of more than 12 minutes. Great solos of all musicians especially flutist Bill McBirnie. Cold Star Journey is characterized by beautiful sounds, melodies and fantasies. With the funky Hugo’s There, the musicians once again show the immensity of their musical freedom.
Get yourself into the adventure of 25th Street. Listening to this album is great fun.
Title: Dawn Of My Career
Artist: 25th Street Band
Genre: Smooth Jazz
01 Skyway [7:18]
02 Golden Moments [4:58]
03 Grand Central [6:20]
04 Timo [6:26]
05 Beat [5:22]
06 Dawn Of My Career [7:18]
07 Jazzira [12:38]
08 Cold Star Journey [8:20]
09 Hugo’s There [6:32]
Drummer Matt Wilson has at least one Grammy nomination to his name. A feat possible only through creating wonderful music. His 11th release as a leader is Gathering call (Palmetto Records, 2014), featuring the Matt Wilson Quartet and keyboard artist John Medeski.
Born in 1964 in Knoxville, Illionois, Wilson has been featured on the covers of both DownBeat and JazzTimes magazines. His associations include Joe Lovano, Charlie Haden, Herbie Hancock, Elvis Costello, Bobby Hutcherson, Kenny Barron, Cedar Walton, Michael Brecker, Wynton Marsalis, Pat Metheny and others.
The lineup for Gathering Call consists of Wilson, drums; Jeff Lederer, tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinet; Kirk Knuffke, cornet; Chris Lightcap, bass; and Medeski, piano.
The set opens with a delightful take on Duke Ellington’s “Main Stem.” That’s followed by the startling-speed Matt Wilson original, “Some Assembly Required.” One can visualize the ant colony activity at a manufacturing plant as Leder puts the tenor through a blistering pace. Medeski’s solo represents the frantic recovery process that follows a conveyor belt freeze. Once the repair is made, Knuffke takes over, having the workers double their output to cover for lost time. Underneath, Wilson is the shop foreman who keeps pushing everyone to complete their assigned tasks.
The title song is a free-form, mishmash of sound. Apart from the horns playing in unison, there’s no discernible melody or rhythm. It is, indeed, a “Gathering Call.” In contrast is the light-hearted take on Ellington’s “You Dirty Dog.” The rhythm section is tight as Knuffke and Lederer take turns with the lead.
Gathering Call was assembled like a jam session. The album was recorded in one seven-hour session with little or no rehearsal. “We just played the music,” Wilson says. One can easily hear the fun the musicians had making this.