Dave Koz – The Global Ambassador

In a career that spans twenty years and a dozen albums, saxophonist Dave Koz has established himself as one of the most prominent figures in contemporary music. But as noteworthy as his body of recorded work and as entertaining his live performances and other past accomplishments might be, Koz finds himself in an era of dramatic and sweeping change where everything once taken for granted is suddenly up for grabs. For Koz – and for all of us in this new century – it’s a new day, full of new challenges and opportunities, and new rules that are still being written.

Koz embraces this era of change – and even the uncertainty that comes with it – on Hello Tomorrow, his first album for Concord Records. Released on October 12, 2010, Hello Tomorrow debuted at No. 1 on both Billboard’s Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart and iTunes’ Jazz Album chart and was named the “Best Smooth Jazz Album of 2010” by iTunes. Hailed as “an event record” by The New York Times, it has already yielded two No. 1 singles: “Put The Top Down,” which spent 18 weeks at No. 1 on the Mediabase Smooth A/C chart (the longest stint at No. 1 of any of Koz’s chart-topping hits) and “Anything’s Possible.”

Produced by Grammy winners John Burk and Marcus Miller (who also appears on most tracks), the album features a diverse army of high-profile guests: Herb Alpert, Jonathan Butler, Brian Culbertson, Sheila E., Boney James, Jeff Lorber, Keb’ Mo’, Ray Parker, Jr., Lee Ritenour, Christian Scott and others. Each of the thirteen tracks – most of them written by Koz and his collaborators, others penned by friends and legends – focuses on being open to new beginnings, and trusting that the future is unfolding in all the right ways for all the right reasons. Continue reading

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Peter White – A Life For The Guitar

For nearly two decades, Peter White has maintained a reputation as one of the most versatile and prolific acoustic guitarists on the contemporary jazz landscape. Armed with an unparalleled combination of lyricism and energy, he combines elements of jazz, pop and classical guitar to create a sound that is singular and at the same time accessible to a broad audience.

Born in 1954 in Luton, a small town north of London, White and his family moved to nearby Letchworth shortly after he was born. As a child, he learned to play several musical instruments, including the clarinet, trombone, violin and piano. And of course, like so many youngsters growing up during the heyday of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, he gravitated to the guitar.

He learned his first chords on an acoustic guitar, then bought his first electric guitar in his early teens and studied the recordings of the reigning guitar gods of the day – Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. But his musical aspirations ultimately veered back in an acoustic direction following an accident that doomed his beloved electric guitar. The axe was destroyed in a fire, one that White’s younger brother Danny – an aspiring pianist – accidentally started.

“The funny thing is that Danny didn’t actually admit to setting that fire for at least twenty-five years,” says White. “I had been kind of obsessed with the electric guitar at that point in my life, so that episode kind of forced me to go back to playing the acoustic. In retrospect, that’s a good thing.”
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J. Michael Howard – Free Flight

J. Michael Howard, a Virginia native, is a graduate of a computer science program but is an artist at heart. Howard moved to New York with the intention of completing his studies in Fine Art, but was offered an opportunity to acquire a degree in computer science through a scholarship. Set on achieving the greater goal of attaining a good education, he set aside his passion for art to achieve that goal. Michael moved to Atlanta, Georgia where he works as a web content developer.

But he has not forsaken his true passion, continuing to paint and to develop his skills as an artist. He has been painting and exhibiting his works nationally while working as a computer professional since 1990. Music has an intrinsic influence on his paintings and is a dominant theme in his works. Michael’s original paintings and pastels are owned by corporate institutions and private collectors worldwide.

His work can be found on permanent installation in the Comer Museum, in the Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibition for the book Seeing Jazz: Artists and Writers on Jazz. Michael currently teaches both traditional and computer art to children and seniors at facilities throughout metro Atlanta in the evenings.

“I believe strongly in working with the community based institution whose mission is to promote music, visual art or youth development through education, community involvement or publications,” states Howard.

Over the years, Michael continues to contribute his talents and acquired skills to assist non-profit organizations, high school jazz bands, youth orchestras and clubs. He created the 1993 Atlanta Jazz Festival poster sponsored by the Atlanta Bureau of Cultural Affairs and Creative Loafing Urban News. In the commercial realm, Michael’s work can be found on the covers of music CDs, books and magazines.

For more information about J. Michael Howard visit his website.

Smooth Jazz and Fine Dining – Yoshi’s

Yoshi’s began in 1973 as a small, North Berkeley sushi bar owned by a trio of struggling students with plenty of dreams. Its founder and namesake, Yoshie Akiba, orphaned during World War II, came to the U.S. to study fine arts, dance and dance therapy. She opened Yoshi’s Japanese Restaurant with her two best friends Kaz Kajimura, a journalist and carpenter, and Hiroyuki Hori, a painter and Japanese cook.

The original North-Berkeley, 25-seat restaurant quickly became successful and by 1977 the three partners moved to a larger space on Claremont Avenue in Oakland and began introducing live music in their restaurant. Over the next 20 years, Yoshi’s built itself into one of the world’s most respected jazz venues and won a reputation as the Bay Area’s premier location for people who were looking for great food and the best jazz. Yoshi’s has hosted legendary jazz greats such as Betty Carter, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams, Diana Krall, Branford Marsalis, McCoy Tyner, Harry Connick Jr. and Oscar Peterson among hundreds of others.

In 1997, Yoshi’s was invited by the Port of Oakland to relocate to Jack London Square as part of a plan to revitalize the area. Together with Morimoto Architects, Yoshi’s built an award-winning 330-seat jazz club with a state-of-the-art sound system and design. Occupying 17,000 square feet in the heart of Jack London Square, the club is in it’s tenth year in that location which has become one of the East Bay’s greatest destinations. The restaurant and lounge have a combined capacity of 220.

In 1998 Peter Williams was hired as the club’s artistic director. Under his leadership, the club has continued to present the finest in jazz music, as well as world music, blues, neo-soul, latin jazz and afro-cuban music. In fall of 2006, Kajimura decided that it was time to elevate the menu to the quality of the jazz by recruiting Executive Chef Shotaro ‘Sho’ Kamio, one of the Bay Area’s top chefs to make the change. Chef Kamio (formerly of Ozumo) brought a whole new generation of modern Japanese cuisine to Yoshi’s, which instantly put it on the map as a destination to dine in addition to the best place to hear great live music.

Designed by award winning architect Mori Moto, Yoshi’s San Francisco location opened in 2007. Residing in the Fillmore Heritage Center at 1330 Fillmore St., this 28,000 square-foot, two-story, state-of-the-art live music club and upscale Japanese restaurant features the best of local, national and international performance artists. Our highly praised Executive Chef Shotaro “Sho” Kamio impresses with a brand new generation of modern Japanese cuisine that will surely enhance the overall Yoshi’s experience, making it the only place in the City with world-class food and music.

Smooth Jazz artists performing at these venues are Peter White, Spyro Gyra, Keiko Matsui, Nils, Acoustic Alchemy, Chieli Minucci and Special EFX, East Bay Soul and many more. New Year’s Eve at Yoshi’s Oakland will see Brian Culbertson. Yoshi’s San Fransisco will celebrate a funky New Year’s Eve with Maceo Parker.

Smooth Jazz and Fine Dining – Anthology

San Diego’s newest, premiere dining and live music establishment – Anthology, offers some of the most legendary acts on stage and in the kitchen. Located near the hip neighborhood of “Little Italy” on the southern end of India Street, Anthology marked its grand opening on June 6, 2007. Anthology comes to life in the spirit of the classic ’30s and ’40s supper clubs with a decidedly modern spin, to deliver a culturally harmonious gathering of food, music, wine and ambiance in an intimate 300 seat venue.

Anthology has become one of San Diego’s premier upscale dining rooms. On stage, Anthology plays host to renowned local and international musicians in Jazz, Classic Rock, Blues, Latin and World music. From unplugged to plugged, solo to large bands, guests can be sure they will be impressed by the exciting array of local musicians and singers. Artists who have performed include: Ramsey Lewis Arturo Sandoval, Kenny Rankin, Larry Coryell, Mose Allison, Sonny Landreth, Chick Corea and Lee Ritenour. Director of Music Operations Michael Pritchard, with more than 25 years of experience in the entertainment industry, most recently as talent buyer for Humphrey’s Backstage Club, has secured an impressive array of musical talent (see the artists list).

Combined with a highly sophisticated state-of-the-art digital sound, video and lighting system the venue is designed as one of the finest performance environments on the West Coast. The newly constructed space was specifically designed to offer open sightlines to the stage throughout. Anthology is to quickly proving itself to be downtown’s exceptional world-class destination. Designed by BCV Architects of San Francisco, the acclaimed 13,000 square-foot restaurant and club extends vertically to three levels including a mezzanine and VIP dining room. On the Upper Level guests enjoy indoor/outdoor spaces including the Fireside Lounge with 18 foot fireplace, outdoor Bayside Balcony and Taylor Guitars Private Dining Room. The venue also includes two state-of-the-art kitchens to accommodate both fine dining and private events. Anthology is also proud of their relationship with Taylor Guitars, a local, worldrenowned guitar manufacturer.

Anthology sets a new modern standard for the way people experience the pleasures of fine dining and live entertainment. Encompassing a collection of world-class cuisine, music talent and superb service in one environment – one place – one gathering. Anthology welcomed smooth jazz artists like Boney James, Keiko Matsui,  Kyle Eastwood, Down To The Bone, Chris Standring, Joyce Cooling and many more.

Anthology, 1337 India Street, San Diego, California 92101

Lu Hong – Family Tree

Lu Hong, a child of the revolution, was born in 1959, in the coastal city of Qin-Huang-Dao, China. In 1966 the Chinese Cultural Revolution began and the effects of this political upheaval were profound for Lu Hong’s family. During the late 1970’s, while Lu Hong was attending high school, channels of communication were reopened to information from the Western world.

It was during this time, that Lu Hong’s family was visited by his uncle, Ting Shao Kuang. Ting was not only a world-renowned painter and teacher, but also the respected leader of the contemporary Chinese art movement known as the Yunnan School. Ting recognized the signs that predicted future greatness in the abstract paintings of his young nephew. Ting inspired Lu Hong to make use of his innate artistic ability. Immediately after graduating from high school, Lu Hong moved in with Ting and began to study under his tutelage. He learned everything that he could from his mentor until Ting immigrated to the United States two years later.

Lu Hong was influenced by the works of Paul Klee, Modigliani, and Picasso. He listened to the classical music of Chopin, Mueller and Wagner and read books on poetry, Western literature and psychology. Lu Hong relates, “All my life I was forced to think and act a certain way, but after I left the academy, I began to develop my own style of thinking and painting.” Seeking intellectual and artistic freedom, Lu Hong moved to the United States in 1986 where he was reunited with his teacher, Ting Shao Kuang. Lu Hong has become one of the most acclaimed contemporary Chinese artists in America.

Lu Hong has illustrated the CD covers of the albums  Eclipse, Relations, and Seductivity by the contemporary jazz group Times 4. For more information about this artist visit http://www.luhong.net.

Ludner Confident – Interlude

Ludner Confident is a Haitian artist and painter. Inspired by life experiences and emotions, social and spiritual concerns and the beauty of God’s creations, Confidant’s art is distinguished by surrealist sensitivity and a physician’s humanism. His paintings portray a visual poetry with external and inner beauty that appeals to the intellect as well as emotions. They seduce, entertain, delight and lead the viewer down a certain path.

Ludner created the cover Interlude for Allon Sams’ album A Place In Time (2001).