Category Archives: Smooth
Saxophonist Jarez (born Jarel Posey) is inspired by John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. In 2001 Jarez started touring around the world with Grammy Award winning rapper Coolio. While he still has a strong connection to this rapper, Jarez is now working on his own solo career.
His solo albums are To The Top (2007), Saxoholic (2009), and this year On Top Of The World. His recording was supported by AJ Luke (guitar, vocals), and Keenan Holloway (bass). In view of the minimal cast as a trio, the result is nevertheless striking.
The starting song Can’t Let Go is beefed up in the overdub process. Jarez arranges around the catching lead sax a blowing horn arrangement. This is a proper way to win the favor of the audience.
The emotional song True Love is a contest between saxophone and singer to gain the attention of the listener. Feels So Right presents a package that sounds in parts overloaded in the instrumentation. What Pro Tools 9 allows, is not always pleasant for the ear. On the other hand, excels Jarez on Make It Better with creative song ideas.
The title song On Top Of The World excites with an enthralling melody with vocals and instrumentation complement each other perfectly. The arrangement is flawless too. Never Going To Stop offers an unstable harmony image that irritates the listener something.
I’m Leaving has a strong melancholy vibration, which is reinforced by the overt repetition. The Way features anew AJ Luke as singer on the footsteps of Luther Vandross. When I Look At You puts Jarez again in the spotlight. Final piece of this album is Treasure. This song is currently placed as a single release and can be listen on YouTube.
Jarez declares that his greatest desire is to be the “Tiger Woods of jazz.” To explain, he says, “Tiger made an old man’s game exciting and real for kids. I want to do the same for jazz, make it cool again.”
Jarez shows in his new album good approaches to realize this goal in near future.
Title: On Top Of The World
Genre: Smooth Jazz
Label: Top Jazz Records
01 Can’t Let Go [4:56]
02 True Love [4:48]
03 Feels So Right [4:25]
04 Make It Better [4:16]
05 On Top Of The World [5:17]
06 Never Going To Stop [5:12]
07 I’m Leaving [5:12]
08 The Way [4:59]
09 When I Look At You [4:29]
10 Treasure [4:15]
Each musician has experience playing in trios. For Blessed (Origin Records, 2013), the leader wanted to distinguish this lineup from others. Thus the name Scott Neumann Neu3 Trio.
The trio consists of Scott Neumann, drums; Michael Blake, tenor and soprano saxophones and melodica; and Mark Helias, bass.
The title song is an upbeat, snappy tune. After an introductory sequence that mostly features bass and sax, the trio engage in a series of tightly syncopated phrases. Neumann is largely content to play subtly underneath the sax, with Blake being out front much of the way. He puts the tenor through some spirited lines. Helias is firmly engaged throughout. And Neumann, though mostly in the background, still manages to show off his dexterity on the kit, especially during the peak of the tenor solo.
“Clamba,” one of the longer pieces, features Helias in a perpetual stair step rhythm, sometimes descending rather than ascending. Blake goes to town on the tenor while Neumann punctuates each line. About three minutes in, the sax goes silent, and the drums tone it down. This is for Helias to go exploring, which he does, aided by some emphatic tom rolls.
The Brooklyn-based Neumann composed eight of the 10 tracks on Blessed. Helias contributed one song, “Brothers.” The songs vary from just over four minutes to a tad under eight. That avoids the monotony of having too many tracks at some arbitrary running time, gives the musicians room to stretch out – and the listener the opportunity to fully soak in the sounds – but without going on too long.
Blessed is not for the faint of heart. It can and should be appreciated by anyone with an open mind and a taste for solid composition and solid play. However, those locked onto the more catchy, four-minutes-per-song pop instrumentals may need a defibrillator after a few minutes of this.
Ernie Slaughter has just released his long awaited CD project titled “Chillin” which is sure to please the lovers of Smooth Jazz with beautiful songs that come straight the Heart! Ernie plays with passion and emotion on every track which is clearly evident the moment you pop the CD in. The CD is co produced with his Brother Eliot Slaughter, who is also the featured Keyboardist and Songwriter on the CD project.
This CD release is destined to become a classic, and is sure to please the most discriminating listener! Give it a try at CDBaby.
Chicago-based artist, and Los Angeles native, Marqueal Jordan is the rare musician who is blessed with the gift of being equally proficient as an instrumentalist and a vocalist. His distinctive saxophone tone and style, combined with his soulful vocals, places him in the tradition of legendary dual talents, George Benson, Donny Hathaway and Ronnie Laws.
Described by fellow saxophonist Mike Phillips as “one of the most versatile saxophonists in the game today”, Marqueal (pronounced Mar-KWELL) earned his reputation as an electrifying live performer after moving to Chicago in 1995. He was the front man for the Chicago-based funk unit, Fat Time, and became an integral member in numerous Jazz, R&B and Blues bands in the city. In 2008, Smooth Jazz star Brian Culbertson asked Marqueal to join his touring band and since then he’s captivated audiences around the world with his talents. As a sideman, he’s performed with an amazing list of major artists such as Oleta Adams, Gerald Albright, Patti Austin, Avant, Average White Band, Rick Braun, Peabo Bryson, Jonathan Butler, Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Aretha Franklin, Savion Glover, Larry Graham, Buddy Guy, Lalah Hathaway, Al Jarreau, Earl Klugh, Dave Koz, KRS-ONE, Jeff Lorber, Maysa, Najee, Ray Parker, Jr., Phil Perry, Eric Roberson, David Sanborn, Jill Scott, Sinbad, Gerald Veasley, and Kirk Whalum.
“Catalyst” is Marqueal Jordan’s solo debut CD. After years of sideman work and being involved with original bands and projects over the years, “Catalyst” reveals the focused vision and emergence of Jordan as an artist, songwriter and producer. Ronald Jackson discovered this album at CDBaby.
Hailing from Panama City, Florida saxophonist Chris Godber has already four solo albums to his discography. He started his career with Will You Be Mine? (2007) followed by One Breath At A Time (2009), My Offering (2011) and this year Where Are You CHRISTmas.
On his albums he performs soprano, alto and tenor saxophones in addition to the piano, keyboards, and acoustic guitar, drum programming and what you heard toting up.
What Child Is This, a popular Christmas carol written in 1865, starts the album emotionally interpreted by Godber. Since Bill Crosby’s version I’ll Be Home For Christmas became a holiday musical tradition in the United States. Chris continues this practice with his very own interpretations on soprano sax and piano.
The uplifting I Love Christmas features Lowell Hopper, soulful guitarist from Panama City, Florida. Delightful is the interplay between saxophone and chimes. Lowell has his place on the second part of the song. Let It Snow, a song written by lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule Styne in July 1945, is nicely covered. Only the brass insertion is somewhat incongruous.
The Christmas carol Angels We Heave Heard On High is recorded in a traditional way. The Christmas Song presents heartfelt singer Dony Adair sharing the song with saxophonist Chris Godber. A sentimental song softly melting like chocolate ice cream.
Where Are You Christmas known by country singer Faith Hill is reacted cautiously by Chris Godber on soprano sax. Mary Did You Know impresses with its finely chiseled implementation by acoustic guitar and soprano sax.
The traditional classical English carol The First Noel is spiced with a modern rhythm. In contrast to the previous music songs Chris ventures with Feliz Navidad into the zone of Latin Jazz presenting a heightened sense of well-being.
Chris Godber offers with Where Are You Christmas an album of Christmas song in a more traditional way. This album is for those who want to hear no discord in the gift giving special.
Title: Where Are You Christmas
Artist: Chris Godber
Genre: General Jazz
01 What Child Is This [3:39]
02 I’ll Be Home For Christmas [4:50]
03 I Love Christmas [4:52]
04 Let It Snow [4:06]
05 Angels We Heave Heard On High [5:02]
06 The Christmas Song [5:01]
07 Where Are You Christmas [3:55]
08 Mary Did You Know [4:56]
09 The First Noel [3:45]
10 Feliz Navidad [4:10]
Earthy, rich, charming. Those words are the first things that come to mind upon hearing the voice of Nancy Harms. Dreams in Apartments (Gazelle Records, 2013) presents Harms with limited accompaniment, counterbalanced by original songs and fresh arrangements of classics.
Born in Clara City, Minnesota, Harms didn’t have the gift of being born in a musical family. And she was further limited in that exposure to jazz didn’t occur until she went to college. At that point, her future was determined. Though she went into teaching immediately after college, she eventually gave that up in favor of a career in jazz.
Accompanying Harms on this date are pianist Aaron Parks, who also plays Rhodes and organ on “Something Real”; guitarist John Hart; bassist Danton Boller and drummer RJ Miller. Trombonist Wycliffe Gordon cameos on “And It’s Beautiful.”
“Weight of the World,” penned by Harms, is a folksy message song. Harms sings like one might expect to hear Joan Baez if she did jazz. Miller’s parade drum beat enhances the underscore.
Here’s one you don’t hear every day. “From My First Moment (Gymnopedie for Piano No. 1),” adapted from the 1888 composition by Erik Satie. It’s interesting hearing the melody in human voice with lyrics. Parks and Hart provide accompaniment. Harms is true to the elegance of the classical composition, injecting her own flavor.
Harms is a fixture in the Minneapolis-St. Paul jazz scene. She wrote or co-wrote four of the 10 songs on Dreams in Apartments.