Norm Breest - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection http://www.jazzreview.com Tue, 23 May 2017 08:23:38 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb The Greatest Party at Sea: The Smooth Jazz Cruise http://www.jazzreview.com/general/the-greatest-party-at-sea-the-smooth-jazz-cruise.html http://www.jazzreview.com/general/the-greatest-party-at-sea-the-smooth-jazz-cruise.html The Greatest Party At Sea: The Smooth Jazz Cruise How would you like to be in Smooth Jazz Heaven? It sails around the Caribbean and features an A-list of smooth jazz performers in concert and in special moments. It's "The Smooth Jazz Cruise," which is also called "The Greatest Party At Sea." From the time you board Holland America's Westerdam until you disembark, it's just one amazing experience after another. In January, Bev and I went on what would become not only our first cruise, but the only cruise we would ever think of taking again.

The Greatest Party At Sea: The Smooth Jazz Cruise

How would you like to be in Smooth Jazz Heaven? It sails around the Caribbean and features an A-list of smooth jazz performers in concert and in special moments. It's "The Smooth Jazz Cruise," which is also called "The Greatest Party At Sea." From the time you board Holland America's Westerdam until you disembark, it's just one amazing experience after another. In January, Bev and I went on what would become not only our first cruise, but the only cruise we would ever think of taking again.

Just a half hour after we left from Fort Lauderdale, you get to know how the experience will be. The first concert took place with two smooth jazz performers headlining every night. Each performer does their own concert-sized set with some of the finest backup musicians around. You better watch out because throughout the concerts, other named performers will join the headliner for those magical moments that only "The Smooth Jazz Cruise" can give. Think trumpeter Rick Braun being joined by sax men Euge Groove and Boney James and trombonist Brian Culbertson. That's how good it gets.

As the week moves along, you not only get to hear the performers, but you get to know what makes them tick. Between ports of call, you have the chance to hear songwriters talk about their thought process when they write music and what has influenced them. There were also seminars featuring sax, keyboard, and guitar player telling about why they do certain things to make themselves better. There are also events that show the lighter side of the performers, like sax man Gerald Albright's wife talking about healthy eating while husband Gerald makes chocolate chip cookies.

And don't forget the parties. They don't call it "The Greatest Party at Sea" for nothing. During the seven-night cruise, you have a number of parties by the pool where you can show off your tan, swim or just enjoy the sounds of DW3, sometimes joined by some of the major performers. There are T-shirt parties, a barbecue party, even a pajama party at night. There are also nightly DJ parties in the Crow's Nest where you can dance into the wee hours of the morning.

All this is prepared by Michael Lazaroff, executive director of Entertainment Cruise Productions. After looking over 30 different cruises, he knows what his audience wants, a consistant, first-class cruise experience. Unlike other promoters, Lazaroff takes a personal interest in the comments of the people who go year after year on not only "The Smooth Jazz Cruise," but also "The Jazz Cruise," which has been satisfying the straight-ahead jazz fan for over a decade.

Even though their cruises cost more than a normal Caribbean cruise, Lazaroff says the value in what you get outweighs what people pay. Each evening, you get internationally known talent performing on stage. This kind of dedication has expanded Entertainment Cruise Productions by adding a "Malt Shop Memories" cruise and this year introducing a new "Soul Train Cruise." When word gets around about what kind of cruises the company has done, those additional cruises could become as established at the jazz cruises have. For our money, "The Smooth Jazz Cruise" is something you'll never forget and will want to board year after year.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Norm Breest) General Sun, 11 Mar 2012 16:51:30 -0500
Under the Hat by Ada Rovatti http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/under-the-hat-by-ada-rovatti.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/under-the-hat-by-ada-rovatti.html Just as much as Pamela Williams and Candy Dulfer have opened the doors to female saxophonists in smooth jazz, Ada Rovatti has broken the door wide open to female saxophonis…
Just as much as Pamela Williams and Candy Dulfer have opened the doors to female saxophonists in smooth jazz, Ada Rovatti has broken the door wide open to female saxophonists in contemporary straight-ahead jazz with her release Under the Hat. Rovatti shows he can hold her own with her male counterparts and can raise the bar higher. She also shows just how a woman's touch might be able to change the mold of straight ahead jazz.

Some of the tracks on Under the Hat bring a contemporary approach to the straight ahead idiom. Stuntman is a good example on how improvised segments in a song can be mixed with portions that help to define what the song is all about. Rovatti can give her own touch to a classic on her version of the classic They Can't Take That Away From Me.

Ada Rovatti did a good thing by getting Randy Brecker to help on Under the Hat. Brecker is one of those performers that Rovatti is trying to become, namely a contemporary performer that puts new life to a style of music that is established, but is not understood by many people. Brecker's work on the tracks O Corko Mio, Stuntman and the title track help to raise Rovatti's performance and get her into that contemporary mood that makes the tracks work.

Ada Rovatti's Under the Hat is a CD that presents the newest slant on one of America's own forms of music. Rovatti is a winner because she shows off what she has to offer and also shares that stage with her talented backup musicians. It's the best of the classic and the best of the new.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Norm Breest) Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews Wed, 30 Jul 2003 19:00:00 -0500
Bedroom Communities 01 - Pillow Talk by Various Artists http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/ambient-jazz-cd-reviews/bedroom-communities-01-pillow-talk-by-various-artists.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/ambient-jazz-cd-reviews/bedroom-communities-01-pillow-talk-by-various-artists.html The idea is very simple. Provide a CD of songs that helps people who have been at a high level of stress throughout the day to unwind and be able to talk to each other away…
The idea is very simple. Provide a CD of songs that helps people who have been at a high level of stress throughout the day to unwind and be able to talk to each other away from everything. A compilation CD called Bedroom Communities 01 - Pillow Talk is an interesting CD that realizes that stress today is different than stress in the 70's and needs a new feel to it. However, I question how the songs on the release were placed.

Some of the early tracks on Bedroom Communities have the feeling that they should have been placed in the middle of the CD. I would have started this CD with the UK's Mangafoot and The Sin and the Fear. This track, which is the fourth track on the CD, is the perfect wind down song for people coming from work or a day with the children. From there, the fifth track from Smooth of the United States called Walking on Space is a great followup. From there, you can move on to the first three tracks, Big Sand by the UK's Hardkandy, Three Dimensional by the UK's Dynamo Productions and France's Zend Avest and One of These Days, which The Sin and the Fear and Walking on Space are the perfect setup tracks.

After the first five tracks, the CD goes into perfect order until the last two tracks. Mas Fuerte Que El Sol from the UK's The Vogado Projects should have been placed after Smooth because it is the most upbeat track on Bedroom Communities. Hungary's Erik Sumo's Do It Yourself is the perfect ending track for this release, which brings back a feeling of completion to the night.

Bedroom Communites 01 - Pillow Talk is relaxing music for a new generation. However, you should not have to program your CD player beforehand to play this CD. It just defeats the purpose and adds stress to those who can't program their CD player.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Norm Breest) Ambient Jazz - CD Reviews Wed, 30 Jul 2003 13:00:00 -0500
Whats Wrong With This Picture? by Van Morrison http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/jazz-vocals-cd-reviews/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-by-van-morrison.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/jazz-vocals-cd-reviews/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-by-van-morrison.html Back in the 1970's, vocalist Van Morrison changed the face of vocal jazz with Moondance. At the time, Moondance was a very innovative song that dared to chang…
Back in the 1970's, vocalist Van Morrison changed the face of vocal jazz with Moondance. At the time, Moondance was a very innovative song that dared to change what a vocal was supposed to sound like. Morrison has released his latest CD What's Wrong With This Picture. My answer to that question is what happened?

Since the 70's, Morrison has gone from an innovator to a performer that stays in one mode and seldom strays away from it. On What's Wrong With This Picture, Morrison uses the same kind of backing group on each song, which makes each track sound the same. Once in a Blue Moon and Saint James Infirmary have a similarity to it that at times sounds very unprofessional. The CD title track adds strings to the mix, but as the song goes on, the background performers bring down Morrison's performance.

As for Van Morrison's vocal performance, the grittiness is still there, but there is something missing. Just like Michael McDonald has lost some of his enunciation of some of the words in his songs, Morrison is also losing some of it, especially in some of the quieter passages. I know you should sing your soul out on some songs, but at times when you want to bring out why you feel the way you do, it's important that the listener hears what you are trying to say.

What's Wrong With This Picture is the kind of release where some performers have to decide whether to continue releasing new material or just continue to perform what they are comfortable with live. If Van Morrison wants to continue releasing new material, he must try to find a way to show that he accepts the direction that music is going. If he doesn't like the way music is going, he should make that statement by going out on the road to perform and stop recording. If What's Wrong With This Picture is the best that Morrison can do, it is very wrong.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Norm Breest) Jazz Vocals - CD Reviews Wed, 30 Jul 2003 07:00:00 -0500
Just Come On In by Nick Colionne http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/smooth-jazz-cd-reviews/just-come-on-in-by-nick-colionne.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/smooth-jazz-cd-reviews/just-come-on-in-by-nick-colionne.html There are many guitarists that use Wes Montgomery as their influence for coming into the music business. Chicago guitarist Nick Colionne is one that has brought Montgomery'…
There are many guitarists that use Wes Montgomery as their influence for coming into the music business. Chicago guitarist Nick Colionne is one that has brought Montgomery's sound to a new level. His fourth CD, first for Three Keys Music, called Just Come On In shows how he takes the Montgomery formula and changes it into an urban groove that's smooth.

Even though Colionne does honor Montgomery on the track From the Wes Side, he grinds out as much as he can from his Epiphone guitar. From the opening track High Flyin' to the bonus track Hurry Up This Way Again, Colionne lets his guitar do the talking in both high spirits and intimate reflections. The strongest track is High Flying, but Did You Know is a track that shows how Colionne works well with his side men by bringing out his urban side.

On Just Come On In, you can see some similarities between Nick Colionne and fellow guitarist Norman Brown, who won his first Grammy in 2003. Colionne has the same type of style as Brown, but has an important difference. Colionne has a style that is more refined, but still has the bit of gritty that Brown shows. He sounds like he is enjoying what he does, which to me is very important. You can tell when a performer is really doing what he wants to do by the way he puts his heart into it. Colionne has that heart in what he is doing.

Nick Colionne has had success with his three previous releases. However, Just Come On In is the CD that is going to bring Colionne out of the pack and break out big. Watch out Norman.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Norm Breest) Smooth Jazz - CD Reviews Wed, 30 Jul 2003 01:00:00 -0500
Mediterraneo by Marc Antoine http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/latin-jazz-/-latin-funk-cd-reviews/mediterraneo-by-marc-antoine.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/latin-jazz-/-latin-funk-cd-reviews/mediterraneo-by-marc-antoine.html Mediterraneo is a trip to Spain in a CD packet. Guitarist Marc Antione's first CD for Dave Koz' Rendezvous Entertainment label was recorded in Madrid and sounds just…
Mediterraneo is a trip to Spain in a CD packet. Guitarist Marc Antione's first CD for Dave Koz' Rendezvous Entertainment label was recorded in Madrid and sounds just like you're there. Antoine's mix of flamenco, classical, gypsy soul and romantica makes this a treat you cannot miss.

Just like his previous releases, Mediterraneo has what you expect from Antoine. You'll find spirited tracks like Funky Picante where you in a middle of a Spanish fiesta. You also hear what today's Spain is like with tracks like Cubanova and Gringo. And you'll also hear reflective pieces like Castellana Hood and Gotham where you see the other side of Spain away from the tourist areas.

What gives the right mood for Mediterrano is that with the majority of the CD recorded in Spain, Marc Antoine gets a chance to work with Spanish musicians who have not been exposed a lot to Antoine's style of music. Since many of them work with Spanish pop stars, they get a chance to let loose and gives Antoine a chance to show his guitar work behind some great backup people. Mediterraneo shows the influences Marc Antoine has as he has worked on both sides of the ocean. The mixture brings Antione's game to the highest level. Ole'!

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Norm Breest) Latin Jazz / Latin Funk - CD Reviews Fri, 25 Jul 2003 19:00:00 -0500
Southern Living by Alex Bugnon http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/smooth-jazz-cd-reviews/southern-living-by-alex-bugnon.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/smooth-jazz-cd-reviews/southern-living-by-alex-bugnon.html Throughout his career, I have always enjoyed keyboardist Alex Bugnon. He has always shown me a different side of smooth jazz that can only be his style. His newest CD So…
Throughout his career, I have always enjoyed keyboardist Alex Bugnon. He has always shown me a different side of smooth jazz that can only be his style. His newest CD Southern Living continues that special style in a different kind of setting. Instead of using various kinds of keyboards in the production stage, he keeps to the piano and Fender Rhodes, which helped him release a CD with special Bugnon magic.

The simple production values in Southern Living helps to bring Bugnon out more in the forefront and it works. The songs like Lonely Nights and Cascade are true Bugnon, where the melodies stay with you all day long. Bugnon wrote or cowrote all but two of the tracks on Southern Living and it is where the CD is at its strongest. However, Bugnon's take on Hall and Oates' Sara Smile brings the song a much more personal feeling.

Alex Bugnon recorded Southern Living in and around the Atlanta area, which means that he had the chance to get some of Atlanta's best musicians to help him. Bassist Ronnie Garrett of Jonathan Butler's band, drummers Sonny Emory and Ricardo Jordan, who have performed with David Sanborn, Earth, Wind and Fire, Boney James and Roberta Flack, help Bugnon out. Also working with Bugnon are guitarist Rick Watford and trumpeter Melvin Miller, both newcomers that have promise in their performances on Southern Living.

Southern Living brings Alex Bugnon to new levels. It has been awhile since Bugnon has received any airplay from smooth jazz radio stations. This CD should change that with music that has a different sound that I haven't heard for a long time. The South is where the living is easy and Southern Living is easy on the ears and the mind.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Norm Breest) Smooth Jazz - CD Reviews Fri, 25 Jul 2003 13:00:00 -0500
Groovalicious by Chris Standring http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/smooth-jazz-cd-reviews/groovalicious-by-chris-standring.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/smooth-jazz-cd-reviews/groovalicious-by-chris-standring.html If you want to relive a part of the 70's that was more in the background, but was always there, get guitarist Chris Standring's new CD Groovalicious. The songs that …
If you want to relive a part of the 70's that was more in the background, but was always there, get guitarist Chris Standring's new CD Groovalicious. The songs that Stanring wrote for this CD bring back the urban feeling of the 70's that was always in the background. It shows the other side of the 70's that is not found on That 70's Show and in Saturday Night Fever.

You can hear 70's influences everywhere on Groovalicious. There are signs of the group Earth, Wind and Fire and Marvin Gaye in Miss Downtown Sugar Girl. There are signs of Tom Scott and the LA Express in Say What. There are also signs of singer Gary Wright's Dream Weaver in Gentle Persuasion. Other songs bring back some of the great 70's sounds of Parliament, Cameo, the Ohio Players and the Average White Band.

Chris Standring's song writing capabilities stand out in Groovalicious. Instead of 60's feeling songs that he wrote for his 2000 release Hip Sway, Standring decided to add new influences to his music to show he is trying new things. It just so happens that once the songs were written for the CD, Groovalicious had a 70's feel to it, a natural progression for Standring.

Even though Standring uses guest trumpeter Chris Botti for the track Snowfall, the main reason why Groovalicious works is the people who back Standring up. Keyboardist Rodney Lee, sax man Dino Soldo, bassist Andre Berry and drummer Dave Karasony help to bring Groovalicious that special lift. Groovalicious is Chris Standring's throwback to a era where disco was only the queen in music. Groovalicious is king.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Norm Breest) Smooth Jazz - CD Reviews Fri, 25 Jul 2003 07:00:00 -0500
Right Here, Right Now by David Benoit http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/smooth-jazz-cd-reviews/right-here-right-now-by-david-benoit.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/smooth-jazz-cd-reviews/right-here-right-now-by-david-benoit.html Keyboardist/Composer/Producer David Benoit continues his latest string of groovin' releases with Right Here, Right Now. For the past few CD's, Benoit has used fellow…
Keyboardist/Composer/Producer David Benoit continues his latest string of groovin' releases with Right Here, Right Now. For the past few CD's, Benoit has used fellow producer and trumpeter Rick Braun to bring his sound into the 21st century. Braun has brought a new energy to Benoit and it shows again in Right Here, Right Now.

The new CD brings more of the infectious songs that have been featured in recent releases. Benoit starts strong with a cover of Herbie Hancock's Watermelon Man, which gives a fresh new feeling to the classic. He then continues the party feeling with the CD's title track, cowritten by him and Braun. One of the best uptempo tracks I have heard in a long time is Jellybeans and Chocolate, which features Brian Culbertson coming away from the keyboards and showing his trombone side and saxophonist Euge Groove. This combination could bring about the signs of an all-star band.

In some of his recent work, David Benoit has gone and brought a new feeling of simplicity to his music. Instead of using an orchestral background, he has opted for a more laid back approach to the music. That approach helps to bring more personal feelings out of the music, especially some of the down tempo songs. Right Here, Right Now continues that simplicity with songs like Le Grand, Third Encounter and Quiet Room.

Benoit wrote or cowrote seven of the tracks on Right Here, Right Now, but also performs covers that brings them new life. Besides Watermelon Man, he tackles Norah Jones' Don't Know Why with an arrangement that feels better than the original. James Taylor's Don't Let Me Lonely Tonight has guest guitarist Peter White bring out his best with a solo intro into the song that could be a classic.

David Benoit's Right Here, Right Now is Benoit at his best. He has done so many things in his career, but his roots is in smooth jazz and it continues to grow. Right Here, Right Now is a must have right here, right now.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Norm Breest) Smooth Jazz - CD Reviews Fri, 25 Jul 2003 01:00:00 -0500
On the Beach by Edgar Wallace Jr. http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/smooth-jazz-cd-reviews/on-the-beach-by-edgar-wallace-jr.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/smooth-jazz-cd-reviews/on-the-beach-by-edgar-wallace-jr.html Detroit area saxophonist-keyboardist Edgar Wallace Jr. brings the Motown influence to smooth jazz with his debut CD On the Beach. Wallace shows not only his instrume…
Detroit area saxophonist-keyboardist Edgar Wallace Jr. brings the Motown influence to smooth jazz with his debut CD On the Beach. Wallace shows not only his instrumental savvy, but shows he is a good writer as well Except for one track, Wallace penned the tracks with a special kind of flavor that shows his Detroit roots.

One thing that I liked about On the Beach is that Wallace does not try to oversell himself. However, there is a kind of quiet passion that he has in his playing. The songs Stolen Moments and Take My Hand bring this kind of passion out. However, Wallace can bop out with the best of them. Chene Park and Overdrive show Wallace's driving side that is still powerful, but has a softer edge that makes the CD very listenable.

Edgar Wallace Jr.'s On the Beach Motown influence doesn't stop with Wallace's performance. His backup musicians have worked with Motown's best, including Anita Baker, Hubert Laws, Earl Klugh, Oleta Adams and Aretha Franklin. They include bassist Al Turner, who coproduced the CD with Wallace, drummer Ron Otis, guitarist Johnny E. Lawrence and keyboardist Dave Grisa. Also of note is guitarist Tim Bowman also performs on Take My Hand and brings the level of the song to new heights.

On the Beach shows not only Edgar Wallace Jr.'s Motown influence, but the influence of late saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. With both those influences, On the Beach proves that Motown can meet the sound of Philadelphia on a smooth level. Wallace has a winner.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Norm Breest) Smooth Jazz - CD Reviews Fri, 16 May 2003 07:00:00 -0500