Saxman Curtis Haywood Helps Feed the Children

Saxophonist Curtis Haywood is donating a portion of his sales of his self-titled debut recording to two causes: Feed the Children and Self Help Africaposition. Feed The Children helps supply food for the people of Ethiopa and around the globe, while Self Help Africa Self Help Africa is an international development agency engaged in promoting and implementing sustainable development programs in rural Africa.

Haywood’s recording is made up of contemporary jazz originals and soulful interpretations of R&B standards. His soprano on the single “Rain Song” reminds me of Najee or the late George Howard. I think we all should give a new talent, who puts his money where his heart is in this fashion, a try. Give him a listen a try at his web site or MySpace page and buy it at Amazon. It’s out now on Smooth Sounds Records.

Review: Tequila Moon from Jessy J

Wow! What a discovery! I was at the Berks Jazz Festival last week. Unfortunately, I was only able to spend two of the festival’s ten days taking in music. Simultaneously I realized that Peak has released the debut of 26-year-old saxophonist Jessy J, who also was to appear at Berks as part of the Guitars & Saxes show. What a debut, from the opening throaty chords of “Tequila Moon,” I knew I was going to like this woman. I’m not sure the last time I’ve gotten this excited over a debut by a young sax player. Jessy J, under the ever-watchful eye of Paul Brown, exhibits maturity on her instrument beyond her age. I can’t help but make the comparison to Grover Washington, Jr. – and that’s a good thing! The album Tequila Moon has a definite Latin lean to it, but in a very sophisticated, intense, contemporary jazz way. This album just feels different – unlike anything that’s been released the last few years – smoky, intense, throaty, complex, and sexy. On top of the blowing, this girl can sing as well! This just might be the best all around contemporary jazz release of the year so far.

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Review: Candy Dulfer – Candy Store

If you’re looking for a contemporary jazz recording that’s not quite a formulaic smooth jazz release and covers a number of styles, your search is over. Candy Dulfer’s latest, Candy Store, is an audio testament to the freedom she felt making it. “I was free from any recording contract,” Candy reports, “so there was no pressure at all in terms of style or time. Hence the two years working on it and the total mish mash of styles.”

Candy delivers the strong funk she does so well on the opening track “Candy” then slips into a comfortable groove on the memorable, mid-tempo composition “L.A. Citylights.” It’s right back to the dance floor with the one-two punch of the jamming “Music=Love” and the spicy “La Cabana.” After a breather with the chill-down track “11:58,” it’s funk time again. Candy pulls up the mic to sing her original song “Summertime,” a true tribute to the season. The title of the next track says it all: “Soulsax,” though I have to add that it’s got a really good groove. “Smokin’ Gun” has an obvious reggae influence. ” “If I Ruled the World” sounds like something from the soundtrack of the last hip film you saw. All of the music on Candy Store are new compositions. “For me, it was important that I’d do only originals and that they had to show different aspects of my life, since I’m the kind of person that likes all kinds of different things at the same time,” says Candy.”

Candy Store is a good recording, full of flavor, from the first track to the last. It’s definitely deserving of more exposure. Check out Candy’s thoughts on each track at her fresh and informative site.

Candy’s playing has my respect. Here’s a video of the Marcus Miller Band playing “Rehab” at the 2007 North Sea Jazz Festival. It’s a smokin’ performance and features solos by Roy Hargrove, Gregoire Maret, Patches Stewart, and Candy Dulfer. Candy’s solo is in the pocket. The fun she’s obviously having here, in addition to the sound she can put in that alto, makes me wish I could catch her live.

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Review: Boney’s Funky Christmas from Boney James

[This is an archived review I wrote at some point between 1997 and 1999.]

Boney's Funky Christmas from Boney JamesThe ads for Boney’s first holiday release call this “the album to put on after you put the kids to bed.” Sure enough, Boney’s Funky Christmas features the seductive grooves you know the saxman for. This is the smoothest Christmas release I’ve heard in the last two years. Boney’s stamp on these songs (mostly traditional holiday tunes) is distinctive and the rhythms and production by his longtime producer, Paul Brown are top notch. Boney is especially tender on the Chris Eaton/Amy Grant composition “Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song).” He has able assistance on the album from guest vocalists Dee Harvey (on “This Christmas”) and Bobby Caldwell (on “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve”). Rick Braun guests on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” Although the other eight tracks are in the silky r&b vein, Boney also tries his hand at a stripped down sound with just him and percussionist Paulinho Da Costa on “Jingle Bells.” Overall, this is one of the most solid contemporary jazz holiday releases and one that will be enjoyed for years to come.

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