Contemporary Jazz: How I Got Into It, Part 1

My contemporary jazz journey began 20 years ago, in college. In 1989, I was dating a girl who listened to contemporary jazz. She had cassettes of Spyro Gyra’s Point of View and David Sanborn’s A Change of Heart in her blue Honda. I was a bit familiar with modern jazz (a high school classmate had Light Years by the Chick Corea Elektric Band) but not knowledgeable. She and her mother and me took me to an Earl Klugh concert in St. Louis (he was touring behind his Solo Guitar recording). I was completely infatuated with this girl and I wanted to experience everything she enjoyed. When the relationship fell apart, I took an even stronger interest in the music because I didn’t want that part to end. I started buying Jazziz magazine. Based on the issue I bought (the one spotlighting the Happy Anniversary, Charlie Brown! compilation), I bought cassettes of the latest from Grover Washington, Jr. and Fattburger. I’d listen to these on my Walkman while serving as a student worker at the student loans department. Little did I know of the life-changing event coming soon.

New Music in March

Earlier this month, I posted some of the new contemporary jazz and jazz-related videos that have come out this year. Below are some of the new CDs that came out this month. On the carousel to order the latest from Diana Krall, Gregg Karukas, Chris Botti, the Rippingtons, Sean Jones, Chuck Loeb, Return To Forever, Nils, and Philippe Saisse.

Try It Out Tuesdays – Miles Stiebel

Excellent Distraction from Miles StiebelTry It Out Tuesdays offers a free full MP3 of an artist. Today’s artist is Miles Stiebel. I don’t get a lot of jazz violin in my mailbox and it’s always good to hear something other than another guitar or saxophone recording. The cut is a cover of the Stevie Wonder classic from Stiebel’s just-released Excellent Distraction.

“Whenever we perform our version of Sir Duke,” it is very well received by our audience. It is a great feeling to see people move to our music and really groove when we play this tune. I feel that our dynamic arrangement is unique and that it gives the song a different life,” said Stiebel. Click the play button for “Sir Duke.” If you like what you hear, hit the Shopping Cart icon to buy it.

Velez BrothersMiles Stiebel – Excellent Distraction – “Sir Duke”

2009 Releases: Diana Krall, Boney James, Philippe Saisse

Diana Krall’s next recording, Quiet Nights, is a Brazilian jazz album coming out on March 31. After marrying Elvis Costello and giving birth, Diana says, “I feel more womanly, I guess, and I think this record is a love letter but very sensual, more on the erotic side. It’s definitely late night.”

Diana isn’t the one one feeling feeling amorous. Top-selling smooth jazz saxman Boney James has a collection of romantic covers and original compositions on the way. Send One Your Love will be out just before Valentine’s Day, on February 3.

Philippe Saisse’s debut on Koch Records. At World’s Edge. will be out on March 24. According to the press release, “At World’s Edge goes much deeper [than Saisse’s previous radio hits], weaving together a rich, melodic tapestry of progressive, impressionistic, and global threads.”

New on ContemporaryJazz.com Radio – Late November Adds

ContemporaryJazz.com Radio plays nu jazz, acid jazz, remixed jazz, jazzy house, dancefloor jazz, and other groove jazz styles. It’s online all the time and is free (with ads) or you can purchase a VIP package for commercial free listening and other benefits.

In the last three weeks, I added over two dozen new selections to the playlist. Among the tracks are cuts from the latest CDs by Maysa (with Global Noize), S.M.V. (Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten), and John Beasley (from his Letter to Herbie). The weather dropped to below freezing last week so I uploaded Diana Krall’s rendition of Michael Franks’ “Popsicle Toes” as well as Jimmy Smith’s “Jingle Bells.” Of course, there’s more of the acid jazz and nu jazz I love the best, like St. Germain, Praful, and Groove Collective.