Fresh off his 2013 Grammy nomination for Best Latin Jazz, Manuel Valera is setting up for another chance at the music industry honor. With his band, New Cuban Express, Valera releases Expectativas (Mavo Records, 2013).
Valera plays piano, Fender Rhodes and synths. New Cuban Express members are Yosvany Terry, alto and soprano saxophones and chekere; Tom Guarna, electric and acoustic guitar; John Benitez, electric bass; Ludwig Afonso, drums; Paulo Stagnaro, percussion on all but two tracks; Mauricio Herrera, batas on “Isabelita” and percussion on two songs. Special guest Manuel Valera Sr. plays alto saxophone on “La Gloria Eres Tu,” the album’s lone cover song.
The title song is upbeat but has an ambient quality. Terry leads much of the way with the soprano sax, at times paired with Guarna’s electric guitar. Though starkly Latin jazz, this piece has a symphonic element about it. Whatever instrument is out front, one can’t not be aware of the bass, drums and percussion. Listen for Afonso’s toms and cymbals regardless of what else is going on. Valera takes point about mid-song. After his solo, the band engages in a call and response with Afonso and Stagnaro answering the calls of the others.
“Chennai Express (for S.A.M.)” is another high-energy song. It’s dedicated to Valera’s friends at the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music in India, where he taught for seven weeks at the beginning of 2013. The time signature is 11/4. To say there’s a lot going on is an understatement. Highlights are the orchestral maneuverings of all the notes, Benitze’s thick bass lines and Guarna’s electric guitar. Tight syncopation counts for a lot as well.
Manual Valera and New Cuban Express is a project that’s deeply influenced by the experiments of the Cuban artists from the 1970s and ’80s. Like those before them, this ensemble mixes elements of jazz, R&B, fusion and funk with Cuban music styles. Valera composed 11 of the 12 tracks.
2° Volume of Collection dedicated to famous Italian songs reinterpreted on the guitar by piero del prete; piero plays in a style that is very reminiscent of George Benson and Lee Ritenour ! 2° Volume Collection of great Italian songs that are interpreted in smooth jazz & relax guitar.
Italian Music Relax, Vol. 2 is now arrived at CDBaby.
Dillinger’s Hired Guns plays music which can best be described as “Not Quite Jazz”. They blend jazzy tunes with elements of Funk, Rock, and other styles to create a style that is perfect to help you through your day. Dillinger’s Hired Guns blend Funk, Jazz, and Rock music for a smooth dose of ear candy.
You can buy this album at CDBaby.
Montreux, Switzerland born contemporary jazz pianist Alex Bugnon enthused the smooth jazz audience with albums such as Love Season (1989), Head Over Heels (1990), 107 Degrees in the Shade (1991), This Time Around (1993), Tales from the Bright Side (1995), As Promised (2000), Soul Purpose (2001), Southern Living (2003), Free (2005) and Going Home (2009).
The latter album was already released on Bugnon’s label Xela Records. Now he returns with the album Harlem. The album starts with the slow paced Bridging The Gap with Alex Bugnon on piano accompanied by Poogie Bells (drums), Jeremy McDonald (bass) and Keith Robinson (guitar). The melodious piece gives him enough approaches to put his dexterity on the piano to the test.
Curtis Mayfield’s album Super Fly was one of the pioneering soul concept albums. Alex presents from this album the track Pusherman and shines on piano and Wurlitzer organ. Preach Freedom’s percussion delivers an authentic rhythm background. Night In Tunisia by Dizzy Gillespie and Frank Paparelli, a popular jazz standard, is interpreted by Bugnon the acoustic way. He designed the original brass piece around a trio with Poogie Bells on drums and Jeremy McDonald on acoustic bass.
The song River Seine features lead singer Maysa joined by background singers Martha Redbone, Keith Anthony Fluitt and Lisa Fischer and Alex on Fender Rhodes. A reminiscence to the style of the group Incognito. Stevie Wonder’s offers so many heartfelt emotion. With sonorous keystrokes Alex elicits the song its magic and expands it to unexpected solos.
Lush Life is a jazz classic by Billy Strayhorn. Alex Bugnon honors this great composer and performer with his own tribute. Seamlessly in style follows Burt Bacharach’s A House Is Not A Home, which Alex performs with great empathy. Mikell’s was a jazz club on the corner of 97th Street and Columbus Avenue, New York. Stompin’ At Mikell’s is Bugnon’s very own homage with a splash of Birdland.
My personal highlight of this album is Manhattan Lullaby, which can be measured by its intensity with pieces by Pat Metheny. Composer of this song are Alex, Charles Bell, Victor Bailey and Frederico Pena. The contemplative Up There On The Mountain was inspired by a theme of Jean Bovet. Final piece of the album is the swinging Jungle Bells. Alex is humming and piano performing like for example Bud Powell, Cecil Taylor or Glenn Gould.
Thus the circle is closed, which Alex Bugnon encompasses with his album Harlem. From Smooth Jazz to Bebop and Swing united by the maestro himself.
Artist: Alex Bugnon
Genre: Smooth Jazz
Label: Xela Records
01 Bridging The Gap [5:09]
02 Pusherman [5:14]
03 Night In Tunisia [5:20]
04 River Seine [3:40]
05 Summer Soft [4:34]
06 Lush Life [4:24]
07 A House Is Not A Home [6:43]
08 Stompin’ At Mikell’s [5:01]
09 Manhattan Lullaby [5:49]
10 Up There On The Mountain [5:38]
11 Jungle Bells [5:20]
Saxophonist and composer Patrick Cornelius plays it straight with Infinite Blue (Whirlwind Records, 2013). Jazz without gimmicks or chasers.
Collectively, the ensemble has shared the stage or studio with such luminaries as Maria Schneider Orchestra, Chick Corea, Brad Meldhau, Pat Metheny, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Joshua Redman. Cornelius plays the alto sax. His core group consists of Frank Kimbrough, piano; Michael Janisch, bass; and Jeff Ballard, drums. Trombonist Nick Vayenas appears on five tracks, trumpeter Michael Rodriguez appears on three, and pianist John Chin appears on one.
“Infinite Blue” is an ambient piece. Sax and trumpet share the lead during the main melody, then harmonize for the next passage. The horns soon step aside for the piano, with bass and drums assisting. Rodriguez comes forward in a mellow tone but with lots of vigor. Cornelius then licks his chops. Things get a little intense as he puts the alto through some complex rolls, but keeping with the ambient theme.
“Puzzler” is a high-energy, multiple-notes-per-beat selection. Vayenas joins the cast, completing a horn trio that leads during the opening sequence. Rodriguez embarks on a frantic solo, reminiscent of what one might expect from Freddie Hubbard or Randy Brecker. Janisch, Kimbrough and Ballard are firmly locked in underneath. Cornelius rejoins, engaging Rodriguez in a flurry of counterpunches before the trumpet courteously backs off. All stop as Ballard shows off his dexterity. Then the horns, bass and piano come back for the finale.
Infinite Blue is Cornelius’ second album on Whirlwind and his fourth as a leader. Born in San Antonio, Texas, was awarded a 2012 New Jazz Works Commission by Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Foundation. He is composing a suite of tunes for octet that are inspired by A.A. Milne’s collection of classic poems for children, When We Were Very Young. He is also three-time winner of the ASCAP Young Composer Award
Not only did ‘A Simple Plan’ by guitarist Reza Khan prove to be a veritable treasure chest of riches it also garnered the radio singles ‘Language Of Love’ (that featured Andy Snitzer on sax) and the equally good ‘Blue Dreams In Rio’. Now he is back with the CD ‘Dreamwalker’.
Domiciled in New York, Reza was born in Bangladesh and has recorded with his own band, Painted Diaries, since 2001 when he released an album of the same name. Although on record as continuously reaching for a global sound, Kahn’s music is remarkably accessible. Indeed it’s a must for those who have a penchant for smooth jazz guitar in the style of Peter White or Ken Navarro. A case in point is the easy grooving title cut that is well worth looking out for.
New from guitarist Reza Khan comes Dreamwalker featuring keyboardist Philippe Saisse and saxophonist Andy Snitzer on Reza’s exciting new collection of global grooves! Fans of Peter White and Ken Navarro will love this new CD now at CDBaby.