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Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Saturday, March 10, 2018
Thursday, March 8, 2018
Thursday, January 25, 2018
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Sunday, December 31, 2017
Smooth Jazz saxophonist - Konstantin Klashtorni
For those of you who are new to Kool&Klean and to its producer, Konstantin Klashtorni, what you are hearing in "Kool&Klean IV" is the culmination of years of study, practice and just plain hard work.
Each of the previous releases for Kool&Klean were far above the standard in Smooth Jazz. He does not look to compete with his peers, he sets the bar high for himself in order to ensure his own latest release surpasses his last. This is no small feat, as Konstantin also produces the incredibly popular Groove Jazz N Chill, Chillaxing Jazz Kollektion series (which began in 2011).
The Ukrainian-born Konstantin Klashtorni has had an extensive musical education, including Kiev State Music College and the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, Holland, where he studied for his Masters Degree.
After graduation, he worked with Peter Pashkov's "Vuyko Band" exploring styles such as hard bop, cool jazz, etc.
His first releases, "Downtown" and "Led by You" were solo efforts that hold their own with the most popular of Smooth Jazz saxophonists of the past and today.
His long and disciplined history in music and music education were immediately apparent and ensured his recordings would receive international acclaim.
No one with this much talent can be a secret for long and mostly through word of mouth, Konstantin has recently developed quite a following.
By J. D. Hisey
San Clemente, CA
B.C. "Beyond Cool"
Brian Culbertson - Beyond Cool
Brian Culbertson is a Jazz/R&B/Funk musician, from Decatur, Illinois.
"B.C." as his friends know him, isn't limited to just being a musician. He is an in-demand producer, songwriter, and bandleader.
Culbertson has written and produced over 25 #1 contemporary smooth singles on the R&R, Gavin Reports, and Billboard Radio charts.
B.C. has had chart success producing Norman Brown, Bob James, Dave Koz, Eric Marienthal, Rick Braun, Steve Cole, Eric Darius and Michael Lington to name a few.
He is a dominant force in Contemporary Jazz today. Whomever hasn't worked with this prolific piano-man sure would like to. When he's not in the studio he's on the road performing to sell-out audiences.
He has fourteen albums, and he also released a solo piano album for yoga and meditation.
His trademark sound is as much R&B as it is Jazz, and energetic as often as it is mellow.
His latest release features the hottest sidemen and women in the business; Steve Lukather, Lee Ritenour, Russ Freeman, Nathan East, Eric Marienthal, Candy Dulfer, Paul Jackson, Jr, Ray Parker Jr, Jimmy Haslip, Will Kennedy, and even Stevie Wonder made a guest live appearance during the tour.
B.C. always brings the heavy hitters to the stage, all experts at their craft, and he always blends lovely melodies with funky grooves.
For those who enjoy their nights sexy, steamy and sultry, B.C.'s chill jazz is beyond cool.
Labels: Brian Culbertson
Location:Phoenix, AZ. 1051 Candlecrest Dr, Westlake Village, CA 91362, USA
Tuesday, December 26, 2017
Dave Grusin - "Masterful"
If you ask him, Dave Grusin will probably tell you: he is just a two-bit piano player, with a shrug and a soft laugh and barely look you in the eye.
Born in Littleton, Colorado he started taking piano lessons at age four. His father, Henri Grusin, was a professional violinist, and his mother, Rosabelle, was a classically trained pianist.
After graduating college with a degree in music, he served in the U.S. Navy. Mr. Grusin later ventured into songwriting and arranging. Over a 50-year career he has won an Oscar, ten Grammy's, and numerous other awards and honorary degrees.
As a composer he wrote the gospel-styled theme song to "Good Times", the 1970's African-American hit comedy television series.
He also composed the music for; "The Graduate" starring Dustin Hoffman, and "Tootsie" (It Might Be You), both nominated for Academy Awards.
As a producer he founded GRP Records with Larry Rosen, who was once his drummer.
Grusin & Rosen Productions was a pioneer in the "smooth-jazz" genre, and they released the first digitally recorded Jazz records ever made, and the first ever Jazz music available on a Compact disc.
Their music became a staple in the new "cool-jazz" radio format on stations such as CD-101.9 in New York and 94.7 "The Wave" in Los Angeles.
GRP went on to create, produce and release albums by young jazz artists like; Angela Bofill, Tom Browne, and Dave Valentin, and veterans like; Jon Lucien, Noel Pointer, Earl Klugh, and Patti Austin.
Grusin & Rosen also worked with Spyro Gyra, Tom Scott, Larry Carlton, and Michael Brecker, veritably dominating the "Contemporary-Jazz" genre, and radio airplay, for more than a decade with the "GRP Sound".
MCA Music Entertainment a subdivision of Universal Music Group, bought the GRP label in February 1990 for approximately $40 million dollars.
Mr. Grusin took that little bit of chump change and put it in the bank. Then he went online.
He became an entrepreneur. He created an online music company called; N2K Encoded Music.
The website hosted online communities for various music genres. They were also the pioneers of online music shopping through their "Music-Boulevard.com" website.
Their company was the first to distribute music via digital downloads (later called MP3's), and led the way for music retailing into the 21st Century.
The late Mr. Larry Rosen, Grusin's close friend and long-time business partner conceived a plan to merge their parent company N2K Inc. with CDNow Inc. At the time they were the two top music e-commerce companies.
Grusin & Rosen completed the merger in March of 1999 when the combined entity was valued at over $500 million dollars.
And yet to many music fans Dave Grusin is not a household name. Sure, jazz fans are familiar with Lucien's; "Dindi", Bofill's; "I Try", and Browne's; "Jamaica Funk", and we all have heard; "temporary lay-offs, good times, ain't we lucky we got 'em, (gospel choir hums soulfully) good times".
But who knew legendary pop-songwriter Stephen Bishop's best song is the one he didn't even write; "somethin's tellin' me it might be you / all of my life / maybe it's true / baby it's you / I've been waiting for, all of my life."
How many of us are aware that there is only one single common denominator behind all those records; Dave Grusin.
Dave Grusin wrote: "Good Times", "Theme from Tootsie" ("It's You"), and arranged and produced "Funkin' for Jamaica", "I Try", "Dindi", and all those other records as well.
So I'd like to take this opportunity to share my favorite Dave Grusin piece with you now.
It's called "Nightwind". It is an instrumental piece which Mr. Grusin composed, arranged, and produced for Jazz trumpeter Tom Browne.
I find "Nightwind" to be tenderly picturesque, sensual and passionate, and meticulous in it's conception and performance.
There is tremendous focus and care given to the interplay of each instrument. Please pay particular attention to the instrumental exchanges taking place among the players. The performers pay close attention to hearing each other clearly, and they respond sensitively to one another throughout the arrangement.
The recording and engineering is provided by Grusin's long-time business partner, the drummer-turned-sound engineer Larry Rosen, and Larry's mix is both picturesque and immaculate.
In many ways when I found this piece of music, all of Mr. Grusin's stellar accomplishments (of which I was vaguely familiar with prior to finding this song) made total sense to me.
"Nightwind" is genuinely masterful in every way. I could understand everything deeply, and on a visceral level simply by listening to this song. I listened over and over and over again.
When the song concluded after my first time hearing it, I knew why this man had been so vastly accomplished in every one of his ventures and endeavors, all throughout his life.
Please enjoy this delicate waltz and partake in all of it's sublime beauty.
Note the interplay between the musicians, and the way the strings, the bass guitar, the rhythm guitar, and the percussion underscore, embellish, and augment the motif. In addition, there are lovely solos by Mr. Grusin and Mr. Browne.
Feel free to leave your own comments below.
Saturday, December 23, 2017
Jazz Keyboardist - Lyle Mays
Galileo famously observed;
“Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.”
Given the complexity of this album review, this quote applies to Lyle Mays the Jazz keyboard maestro, as well.
Lyle Mays is both subtle and complex about his unique keyboard work.
Growing up, Mays said he had four main interests: mathematics, architecture, chess, and music.
His parents were intellectually and musically inclined.
His mother was a pianist, and his father was a guitarist.
Lyle played piano all his life, starting his lessons in early childhood to today becoming one of the foremost Jazz artists in the world.
He is best known for his work with guitarist Pat Metheny, as a member of "The Pat Metheny Group" since 1974.
Lyle Mays provides arrangements, orchestration, plays keyboards, and lends harmonic ideas to the group's musical signature identity; a combination of rock, bossa nova, and Jazz.
Pat Metheny has 20 Grammy wins, Mays has been a co-composer and arranger on nearly all The Pat Metheny Group's music, and has won eleven Grammy Awards for himself.
My latest favorite album is; Lyle Mays - "Solo Improvisations for Extended Piano".
Like his longtime cohort, the Jazz guitar legend Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays executes a deceptive simplicity on his solo projects.
Any other pianist with a solo piano album might just play some lovely romantic piano improvisations and leave it at that.
But on his fourth solo recording, The Metheny Group keyboardist; Lyle Mays boldly goes where perhaps no jazz pianist has gone before.
Mays' approach is so unique and risky, that one almost has to be a music "MIDI" technician to appreciate the way he achieves such a rich texturing of piano and MIDI (synthesizer triggering) orchestrations.
"Solo Improvisations For Extended Piano" paints visual impressionistic scenes with Lyle's acoustic piano as the lead solo instrument and the synthesizers quietly fill in the background.
Lyle plays improvised solo piano compositions, but he adds varied synthesizer colors as fills and textures. The sounds from the electronics are generated by a synthesizer hooked up to the piano.
This is all executed live on the spot and recorded live.
The synth textures and electronic colors are "triggered" from the grand piano notes and chords.
It is a grand piano hooked up via Musical Instrument Digital Interface technology (MIDI).
Suffice it to say, this music doesn't sound like any other piano-based jazz project.
Its more like an ambient new age record, but more active and provocative musically.
Jazz music requires multiple listens to fully appreciate the combination of instruments and interplay. This album is no different with its spontaneous piano composing and the complex synthesizer attachments.
The mix and engineering is provided by Rich Breen.
Breen holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Rochester and studied music at the Eastman School of Music. He has experience in analog circuit design and MIDI technology.
His breadth of specialized experience in the recording studio perfectly captures the clarity and mood of each Piano/Keyboard Visualization.
Each song title is elegantly realized musically. You can see the music come together before your eyes and ears by reading each song title before or during each song.
At times, Mays is dramatic on this album; "Black Ice", "Origami","The Imperative" and "Procession".
Then he'll switch it up and become quietly reflective, as he does on; "Let Me Count The Ways", "We Are All Alone", and the poignant; "Long Life", which closes out the album peacefully and beautifully.
Right from the opening track called; "This Moment", Mays eases us into a gentle impressionism that typifies the entire album.
In summa, this is an album you can put on when you are alone on a quiet evening and having a glass of wine, or smoking an herbal remedy, or having your nightly tea.
You will never feel the need to advance or skip a song. All the moods flow seamlessly from one emotion right into the next.
You'll hear new nuances in the synth textures that gracefully flow from the piano that you didn't even notice the last time you played the album. That's because they "crossfade" into and out of each other automatically, you could say.
There is a very smooth flow from one song to the next in an effortless, and natural way.
I have a peaceful inner journey while meditating to this album every time I listen to it.
A forever unforgettable purchase. This album never gets old.
A contemplative, relaxing, and gorgeously delicate delight.
What else would you expect from a Jazz synthesizer-piano virtuoso? Subtle and masterful.
Ideally listened to when you have your quiet moments, all to yourself, so it can speak to your soul.
By Jonathan Widran and James Clark
Jonathan Widran is a veteran music journalist who has been a regular contributor, feature writer and columnist for over 15 years to numerous publications.
Saturday, December 9, 2017
• Ernie Watts - Tenor, Alto, Soprano Saxophone
• Pat Coil - Piano
• Joel Dibartolo - Bass
• Bob Leatherbarrow - Drums
Recorded live at the St. Anthony Main Street Festival July 24, 1986 Minneapolis, MN