Thanks, Carol Archer

Radio & Records, an industry staple, has ceased publishing its smooth jazz chart. It had been published for 15 years. Carol Archer, the only editor for the format for its entire tenure, posted a fond farewell. Carol was one of the first to write about jazz on the web back in the mid-90s. She mentioned my site which was a huge boost. I’m sure I still have that cut out in my files somewhere. I thanked her then and do so again. Thanks, Carol, and best wishes!

2009 Contemporary Jazz Preview

One constant in the contemporary jazz world is the planning and reliable execution of Heads Up recordings. I just got the list for 2009 and it’s another winner for contemporary jazz fans. I’ll elaborate more in later posts but here’s what’s on the schedule:

January
Incognito – More Tales Remixed – remixes of songs from the latest Incognito release;
Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Live;
Walter Beasley – Free Your Mind

February
Joe Zawinul – 75 – two-disc live set;
Pieces of a Dream – Soul Intent;
Mike Stern – New Morning The Paris Concert;
The Bad Plus Joined by Wendy Lewis – For All I Care

March
Marion Meadows – TBD;
Chuck Loeb – Between 2 Worlds;
Yellowjackets – New Morning The Paris Concert

April
Candy Dulfer; Hiroshima

May
Spyro Gyra; Zap Mama; Stanley Clarke/Hiromi/Lenny White

June
Alexander Zonjic, Andy Narell

August
Najee; Mike Stern; Joe Zawinul DVD

September
Take 6 – a new holiday recording

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: Rhythm and Romance from Kenny G

It’s hard to believe that Kenny G is 51 years old but, after releasing 26 albums for Arista, he is starting a new relationship with Concord Records. Concord, by the way, is about the only record company supporting jazz in a big way these days (thank God for an independent label!). I haven’t really listened to Kenny G since his Kenny G Live album from 1989, and if it wasn’t for my emusic subscription, I probably wouldn’t have picked this release up. But Concord has been on a pretty good roll with their releases, so I decided to give the smooth one a shot. This is actually a good album, and this is coming from someone who felt Kenny’s best years were when he was still using his last name and playing along side a guy named Lorber. The album starts off with a “Sax-o-loco” that sounds a lot like “Tequila,” a real upbeat Latin number, but it’s on the next tune, “Ritmo y Romance” that I really sat back and listened hard. Kenny’s as good as anyone in contemporary jazz on this one – maybe even better; no repetitive, simple smooth (boring) jazz here. There’s a little Samba, some Salsa, Spanish and Latin flavorings all tossed together to create a very seductive sounding album, where the energy is bubbling just beneath the surface ready to breakout. There was a time, 40 or so years ago, when the jazz labels, routinely put their stars in a Latin or Bossa setting, even Concord did it 20 and 30 years ago. Listen to Kenny tackle the standard “Besame Mucho” and you’ll understand why it was such a popular idea. If you haven’t listened to Kenny G in awhile, or got tired of all the holiday songs and standards he was putting out, or just gave upon him as I did, give Rhythm & Romance a listen. You just might be as pleasantly surprised as I am.

Buy the CD from Amazon.com!
Buy the download from iTunes!