"They Say It's Wonderful," the first track on this marvelous new record from Kirk Whalum, opens cleverly with a sample (or a fresh recording made to sound like a sample, complete with the scratchy LP and old AM radio speaker sound effects), of McCoy Tyner's piano at the top of the classic John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman cut of the same tune from their eponymous 1963 record that serves as Whalum's inspiration. But following that clip, nothing further is lifted directly from Coltrane and Hartman except the spirit of excellence in musicianship and the mellow, romantic mood.
Whereas Coltrane and Hartman--the latter not well known at the time but nonetheless a brilliant vocalist--set out to make a recording of pop[ular] tunes in a jazz form (trio plus tenor sax and vocals), the Whalums instead are making a smooth jazz record on a core of what became jazz standards, then adding some of their own new music. Because great songs are great songs, both versions work very well. But don't think Kirk Whalum was trying to remake the original; this is a modern recording with its own fresh and eloquent voice.
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.
George Duke is a multi Grammy Award winning legend. So, when I called him to get a few quick quotes for my France Joli interview (he produced her album 'Witch Of Love') I quickly realized I needed to milk this conversation for all it was worth. Duke is a musician's musician with a career spanning over forty years and, even though he's not primarily known as a disco artist, he has produced some great dance tracks. These include Stephanie Mills' 'Edge Of The Razor', Deniece Williams' breakout dance pop crossover hit from Footloose, 'Let's Hear It For The Boy', and his own feel-good smash from 1982, 'Shine On'. He also created adult contemporary staples for A Taste Of Honey and Jeffrey Osborne while in the jazz world has worked with everyone from Nancy Wilson to Dianne Reeves to Al Jarreau. Consequently I decided to break the ice by talking about a time when jazz merged with disco.
My Next Heartbeat is keyboardist, producer, engineer, composer and Founder and Pastor of Northview Christian Church Hart Ramsey's second release as a leader. This lively set of smooth jazz music doesn't skimp on nice easy-going grooves or compromise on room for Ramsey's accompanying musicians to express themselves on those grooves via long improvised solos.
Xeric winner Gary Scott Beatty's "Jazz: The Tiki Room" fiction is featured in the free online magazine MuskegonOnline.NET this month only.
Watching smooth jazz artists embark on new ventures, new arenas and new paths is actually one of the more exciting things to happen to music in 2011 and still now in 2012. With the death of smooth jazz radio we've witnessed George Benson return to the kind of music he played on his CTI and early Warner Brothers recordings, watched Richard Elliot move to soul-jazz, and Candy Dulfer gravitate more fully towards dance music.
Kim Waters has always had a way of captivating his fans with his infectious melodies and outstanding showmanship. On his new CD, 'This Heart of Mine', he again harnesses his hallmark vibe by putting out another set of grooves that his fans will absolutely love. Each track is beautifully arranged, and compliments Waters undoubted talent as the 'King of Smooth Urban Jazz'.
When I heard Candy Dulfer's new CD 'Crazy' I was absolutely flabbergasted. This is not a 'sit down and listen to' CD. It's a 'get up and move' CD. From the first track 'Stop All That Noise' to the cool jazz ending of 'Too Close', Ms. Dulfer took me on a wonderful high energy adventure. Not only that, this collaboration with Black Eyed Peas producer and musical director Printz Board makes for a perfect album and is a complete 'must listen'.
Saxophonist and horn arranger Freddy Vigdor has been a member of the Average White Band for the last decade. He has performed with the band around the globe at festivals, clubs, on television and radio programs while, as a prolific composer, his work has been recorded by the likes of Grover Washington, Jr., Bob Baldwin, Marion Meadows, and of course AWB.