Will Downing and Gerald Albright topped the charts 20 years ago today

Will Downing and Gerald Albright 1998 photo by Eric Johnson

The Will Downing and Gerald Albright collaboration, Pleasures of the Night, was the best-selling contemporary jazz recording according to the October 31, 1998 issue of Billboard. At the time, Downing said, “‚ÄúThis is a departure for us both. It’s pretty much a traditional sounding record with flavorings of contemporary jazz sprinkled in so as not to exclude the audiences we’ve already built up over the years. It gives both of us an opportunity to stretch out more than our own records. It’s not often that you have the opportunity to do exactly what you want to do, no holds barred.”

Here’s the complete Top Contemporary Jazz Albums for that time:

  1. Will Downing and Gerald Albright – Pleasures of the Night
  2. Kenny G – Greatest Hits
  3. Rick Braun – Full Stride
  4. Down to the Bone – From Manhattan to Staten
  5. George Benson – Standing Together
  6. Fourplay – 4
  7. Keiko Matsui – Full Moon and the Shrine
  8. Marc Antoine – Madrid
  9. Various Artists – KKSF Sampler for AIDS Relief, Volume 9
  10. Medeski, Martin and Wood – Combustication

Also of note in that top ten is that the debut recording of Down to the Bone was in its 37th week on the chart.

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.