Top Names Assemble for Jazz for Japan Benefit Recording

Jazz for Japan benefit recordingJazz For Japan is a benefit album recorded in two days by 25 of the top jazz musicians in the world benefiting the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan. The recordings took place last week in Los Angeles at Capitol Studios in Hollywood. Legendary and Grammy nominated performers include: Kenny G, Christian McBride, Marcus Miller, George Duke, Rickey Minor, Tom Scott, Billy Childs, Boney James, Lee Ritenour, Keiko Matsui, Bob James, and many others.

Larry Robinson, Jazz For Japan producer states; “This project came about after discussing the tragic aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan with my co-workers. I told them that many of the American jazz musicians tour Japan numerous times a year. It was at that moment the seeds of Jazz For Japan were born. Within five days we called all our jazz friends and put together this truly amazing line up of musicians to record at Hollywood’s famous Capitol Recording Studio who all donated their time.”

The album features jazz standards including “Maiden Voyage,” “Body & Soul,” “Watermelon Man,” “So What,” “Sophisticated Lady,” etc. along with a DVD release including interviews with the artists stating their support and sympathy for the Japanese people. “You, the Japanese people inspire us with your resilience. We are trying to send our strength with what we have – and that’s music,” states Steve Gadd (drummer, performing on “Maiden Voyage”, and “So What”).

Jazz For Japan is being produced by Avatar Records and is available now worldwide via iTunes with profits benefiting the International Red Cross in Japan.

Holiday Music Roundup Part 1: Vocalists

I began looking up the various jazz seasonal recordings when I first learned about the new Christmas recording from Bela Fleck & the Flecktones. I’ve gotten a good number and am breaking them into separate posts. Here are some of the singers who have new holiday recordings out this year.

Al Jarreau – Christmas. An all-new recording on Rhino. From the Rhino site: “Album highlights include Jarreau’s instantly classic takes on beloved tunes including “The Christmas Song,” “Winter Wonderland,” “White Christmas” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” Cherished Christmas traditions further come alive with his inspired versions of “Come All Ye Faithful,” “Carol Of The Bells,” “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” and “Gloria In Excelsis,” a sacred song used in the Roman Catholic Mass.”
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Singer Erin Bode has a new Christmas-themed release out titled It’s called A Cold December Night. The only information on it so far comes from the great St. Louis Jazz Notes, which says it’s due in November.

Bob James & Hilary James – Christmas Eyes. I don’t know anything about this other than it’s Bob and his daughter, singer Hilary James, in a Christmas recording produced by Kevin DiSimone (Hilary’s hubby). From the track list, it looks like a mix of familiar carols and original songs.
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Harry Connick, Jr. has recorded a third holiday collection – What A Night! A Christmas Album
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I only know of one Tony Bennett holiday recording where he’s the headliner and that’s amazing considering his long career. A Swingin’ Christmas is new from Tony with Count Basie Big Band.
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Jazz Videos on MTV

MTV is playing videos again! Online, at least at their newly launched mtvmusic.com. I checked it out and – whoa – there are over 100 videos in the jazz category. I wasn’t even expecting a jazz category. There are a lot of Kenny G and Norah Jones videos but also a number of 80s Warner Bros. videos from the likes of Al Jarreau, Bob James, David Sanborn, Michael Franks, George Benson, Quincy Jones, and Miles Davis. Seeing some of these again is kind of a kick. I bet you’ll find some surprises too.

Here’s George Benson and Earl Klugh – Dreamin’:

Bela Fleck & the Flecktones Holiday Recording

Christmas music from Santa Bela Fleck and the Flecktones is coming on September 30. Jingle All the Way is the first collection of holiday music from the long-standing band. It features everything from banjo-harmonic arrangements of “Christmas Time Is Here” and “River,” to a Tuvan-inspired, worldbeat rendition of “What Child Is This / Dyngyldai.”

“We always imagined we would do a holiday album,” Fleck said in a statement. “When the Flecktones first got together, we worked out a Christmas medley; it was really fun. People loved it, and we continued to play it every year.”

Order Jingle All the Way now from Amazon.com

Jingle All the Way isn’t the first seasonal work from Bela Fleck. He previously recorded “White Christmas” with Bob James for the Warner Bros. Jazz Christmas PartyWarner Bros. Jazz Christmas Party CD years ago.

Bob James Goes OUT THERE

After God knows how many albums, Bob James still has a few surprises up his sleeve. You’ll hear it the second you put in his upcoming CD Morning, Noon & Night. That’s not skipping – that’s the awesome scratches of Rob Swift. Unfortunately, it’s the only track that features Rob. The rest of the CD features of a variety of music, from smooth jazz to acoustic sounds. However, I insist that Bob do a whole CD of music that sounds like “Street Smart”. The CD hits stores on September 24.