Nothing hurt the new age artists and their market more than the advent of smooth jazz. When smooth jazzers took the kind of music new agers had been creating and gave it a backbeat, along with obvious R&B sentimentality, sales of new age music dropped off the radar. A few of the more well-known new age musicians have survived, such as David Lanz, but in order to do so they moved their music more towards the light R&B stylings, smooth jazzers grew and cultivated. Another new ager who has survived this market shift is keyboardist and composer Keiko Matsui.
Smooth jazz guitarist, vocalist and composer Roger Chong, a graduate of York University in Toronto, works leading his own jazz group, playing in bands lead by others and teaching grade school students in Toronto. Love Me One More Time is his second release as a leader.
Saxophonist and composer Ohad Talmor, now a Brooklynite, came to the United States by way of both Israel and Switzerland. He has garnered not only rave reviews but also peer recognition having played in the Steve Swallow Trio, the Mass Transformation nonet, and with artists such as Jason Moran, Josh Redman, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Chris Cheek, Dave Douglas, Carla Bley, Paul Motian, Joe Lovano, Chris Potter and Billy Hart. Most distinctly it is his relationship with his mentor Lee Konitz, with whom he co-leads three bands, that has brought the young Talmor to prominence.
Danish pianist, keyboardist, composer and arranger, Martin Lutz's third release with his own group, It's Swing – Not Rocket Science, is a collection of disparate compositions all connected by Lutz's rather uniquely slanted compositional concepts. Organized into five suites, all featuring a guest artist, the music is passive at some moments and energetically manic at others, sometimes all within the same suite, as occurs most obviously during the "Africa" suite.
There are far too many young musicians who think the way to achieving success is to release a recording as early as possible. This misguided method usually finds the musician displaying a lack of musicianship, technique and musical maturity. The problem is that even if the musician goes on to develop adequately they will always have to stand behind their first release; one done when they weren't musically ready. Thankfully that is not the case with Seth Ford-Young's first release as a leader.
Guitarist, singer, composer, teacher and poet Reynold David Philipsek has released a number recordings as a leader over the years. Among the artists he's worked with include Connie Evingson, Clint Hoover, The Wolverines Big Band, Glen Helgeson, and Patrick Harison. Philipsek also played with French Gypsy Jazz master Dorado Schmitt during his 2005 U.S. tour.
Harmonica master Toots Thielemans deserves all the accolades and honors a giant in the jazz field has earned when they reach the level of old-guard master. His sound is just as distinctive, as pure, as vibrant and as alive as when he was a young firebrand playing an instrument more associated with honky-tonks and low class dives than the sweetness that jazz represents. That Thielemans has single-handedly made the harmonica his own within the world of jazz could only be due to the fact he is, both harmonically and rhythmically, rooted in the tradition of the music. In addition, the ease of his melodic grace is both effortless and transcendent of any preconceived conceptual ideas anyone might bring to bear in association with the harmonica. In Theilemans' hands, the instrument is, in its own right, a clear representative of the best jazz has to offer.
Guitarist and Berkeley, California native Alex Skolnick was originally inspired to learn the guitar from listening to Kiss. His devotion, and lessons with people like Joe Satriani, to guitar excellence earned Skolnick a spot in the thrash metal band Testament. Interestingly enough, it was while with this band he discovered the music of Miles Davis. Moving to New York to pursue jazz Skolnick earned a degree from the New School, where he studied with Richie Beirach, George Garzone, and Hal Galper. In the process of school and studies Skolnick formed the Alex Skolnick Trio, which is featured on this release.
If one plays the sitar, pygmy sitar, electric sitar, tanpura, as well as the guitar-zither, piano and Fender Rhodes, a career as a jazz musician is usually not the first thing an audience would expect to hear. That is, however, precisely the direction Jonathan Mayer has embarked on. Mayer is the son of the late Indian composer and Indo-jazz fusion founder John Mayer, so the choice of which instrument he wanted to study is logical. That Jonathan would move towards jazz is not.
Saxophonist, flutist, clarinetist and 2011 ASCAP Young Composers Award winner Joshua Kwassman studied at the New School in New York. He has also spent time studying with established jazz artists including keyboardist Rachel Z, saxophonist Mark Turner and bassist Reggie Workman. As a performer he has worked with artists like trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and pianist Geoffrey Keezer. This recording is an EP with three selections, though they are extended in length, totaling 30 minutes.