BillyRay Sheppard – Silk

San Antonio saxman BillyRay Sheppard‘s debut album Silk is out now on the Big Bib Entertainment label!

The album was co-written and produced by Smooth Jazz hitmaker Steve Oliver. Sheppard’s new single/title track “Silk” is the follow up to 2018’s debut single, “Heels and Pearls”.

“Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn. They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art.”

– Charlie Parker (quote taken from Sheppard’s website)

Listen to Silk on Smooth Jazz Buzz (Playlist 23/3).

Nicholas Cole – Sugar

Keyboardist Nicholas Cole has surprised the smooth jazz community with his solo albums A Journey of One (2010) and Endless Possibilities (2012).

Meanwhile this wunderkind can be found on albums of well-known musicians such as Brian Simpson (Just What You Need), Steve Cole (Pulse), Julian Vaughn (Breakthrough, Limitless), Lebron (Shades), Elisabeth Mis (Breakaway), Lin Rountree (Serendipitous, Soulfunky), Jeff Kashiwa (Let It Ride) or Marcus Anderson (Style Meets Substance).

While his reputation as a studio musician is already phenomenal, the insiders are waiting for the breakthrough as a live musician. His fame rises by his third album Night Sessions (2015).

From his long awaited forthcoming album The Weekend, keyboardist/producer Nicholas Cole delivers this highly infectious, pop infused visceral sweet, Sugar, the first radio single now playing at Smooth Jazz Buzz.

Listen to Sugar on Smooth Jazz Buzz (Playlist 23/3).

Rhythm Jets – Spice Island

Vance Kelly and the Rhythm Jets have once again teamed up with renowned composer/arranger/producer Trammell Starks on their new single, “Spice Island”.

The dynamic new single features bandleader Vance Kelly on alto sax, Sam Sims (Boney James, Michael Jackson, Dave Koz) on bass, the virtuoso Chris Blackwell on guitars, Rafael Periera on percussion, Trammell Starks on keyboards and the incomparable Lil John Roberts (Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder) on drums.

Listen to Spice Island on Smooth Jazz Buzz (Playlist 23/3).

Jazmin Ghent – Work Wit It

Jazmin Ghent is among the hottest up&coming national Smooth Jazz artists today. Jazmin Ghent’s The Story of Jaz is of astonishing complexity and maturity of a musical personality that has grown up in young years. The smooth jazz genre can be grateful for such talents. From her new album The Story Of Jaz comes the sexy songstress’ new single, “Work Wit It”. It’s the follow-up to Ghent’s Top 5 Billboard hit, “Heat”.

Written by Jazmin Ghent, produced by Ron Jenkins and recorded by Euge Groove at ‘The Groove House’, “Work Wit It” features Jazmin’s signature rich and soulful tone.

Listen to Work Wit It on Smooth Jazz Buzz (Playlist 23/3).

Paul Brown – Blues For Jeff

Even as he’s scored countless #1 hits as the producer of the most popular and influential performers in the genre, Paul Brown, over the past decade plus as a solo artist, has been pushing the needle towards a powerhouse fusion of Smooth Jazz and Blues.

One of the best stories told on Uptown Blues is from behind the scenes. The tightly funky, easy struttin’ new single “Blues For Jeff” isn’t simply a tribute to the late guitarist (and friend) Jeff Golub. Brown originally wrote it for Golub, but unfortunately Jeff never had the opportunity to record it. Golub was truly the originator of the Uptown Blues vibe that Brown celebrates on “Blues For Jeff”.

“Jeff had a huge influence on me as an artist. I went to see him in concert and was blown away by his energy on stage. He played so blusey, I thought…WOW! He, more than any other friend or fellow artist, told me to put out records as a guitarist. I took his advice and here we are today. I wrote this song for him” – Paul Brown

Listen to Blues For Jeff on Smooth Jazz Buzz (Playlist 23/3).

Call Me Saxy – Havana

A musical trendsetter with nine (yes nine) Top30 Billboard hits to his name writer, producer and guitarist extraordinaire Emmanuel “U-Nam” Abiteboul continues to invigorate the world of smooth jazz with an approach that is both innovative and daring.  A string of solo albums, with another planned for February of this year, plus side projects such as the critically acclaimed Groove Ltd. (via which he released the hugely successful “First Class”) have marked him out as a perennial trend setter and now, brand new for 2019, he is all set to do it again with “Call Me Saxy”.

This cool collaboration that is due for release on the Skytown Records label in the last quarter of 2019 finds him teaming with an exciting all female line-up sax players including his latest protégé Nikki Sax and it is Nikki who features with U-Nam on “Havana”, the first single from the album to be serviced to radio.

The duos’ sumptuous reworking of the song that in 2017 was a hit for Cuban-American vocalist Camila Cabello is a triumph for U-Nam’s production skills. Gone is the rap that on the original was provided by Young Thug and in its place is the sophisticated interplay, underscored with a smooth Latin lilt, which showcases to perfection the artistry of Nikki on sax and U-Nam on guitar.

All this points to a meteoric rise for Nikki, a classically trained musician, who was raised and educated in the Ukraine and at age twenty-one, has already performed in India, Turkey, Thailand, Jordan and extensively within her home country. Indeed with looks that are stunning, talent to burn and a newly signed recording contract with Skytown Records the stage seems set for Nikki Sax to be the next big thing in sax driven smooth jazz.

“Havana” is the first single to be taken from U-Nam’s “Call Me Saxy” project and will be going for adds January 28, 2019.

Listen to Havana on Smooth Jazz Buzz (Playlist 23/3).

Scott Allman – Elevated

Chicago-based keyboardist Scott Allman comes out of the gate with his third contemporary jazz project, “ELEVATED”. Scott’s upbeat melodies and synth-backed themes are captured in nine brand new songs prepared to raise you to new heights! Plus, a special treat is Scott’s adaptation of the well-known pop-song “Sweet Freedom” made popular in 1986 by Michael McDonald. Working with celebrated producer Darren Rahn, (who also appears on the record) Scott brings a host of featured guests to the table including sax man Jeff Kashiwa, guitar virtuoso Allen Hinds, and Grammy-winning bassist Mel Brown.
For fans of sophisticated contemporary jazz with a piano flair, “ELEVATED” is sure to please.
Listen to Elevated on Smooth Jazz Buzz (Playlist 22/3).

Eric Darius – L.O.V.E.

Saxophonist Eric Darius is a man of action. Hardly any other musician in the smooth jazz genre has played his way into the front row as fast as he has. His activity is also reflected in his numerous releases. Cruisin (2000), Night On The Town (2004), Just Getting Started (2006), Going All Out (2008), On A Mission (2010), and Retro Forward (2014) are his milestones. Like many other artists, he took over the reins after his record contracts expired and founded his own label SagiDarius Music.

He is well aware of the considerable additional work and responsibility. Nevertheless, he perceives his step as a liberating blow. Appropriately his new album is called Breakin’ Thru (2018). Taken from this album is his new single L.O.V.E. featuring pianist Brian Culbertson. If you need a main theme for your wedding ceremony, L.O.V.E. is your first choice. Brian Culbertson provides the emotional accompaniment at the piano.

Keiko Matsui – Spirit Dance

A world citizen, Keiko Matsui‘s striking and transcendent melodies have long sought to create ‘a oneness’ and build bridges. Her sonic cultural exchange has reached the hearts and mind of fans throughout the world and have allowed the petite and poetically eloquent pianist to work alongside such icons as Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, Hugh Masekela and Bob James. A consummate artist, Keiko views each show and recording as a unique opportunity to connect with her audiences and for them to connect with one another. Anyone who has ever experienced one of her live shows knows that each set is an intimate invitation to become a part of her music. “We need to collectively go back and recall what connects us all…our spirits, hearts and our souls,” explains Matsui who has lent her voice to raise awareness for such causes as The Daniel Pearl and the Susan G. Komen Foundations. On February 22, 2019 Keiko Matsui will release her 28th recording as leader Echo, continuing her inspired evolution. A master storyteller, Keiko Matsui crafts passionate and emotive songs with lush harmonies and global rhythms to create timeless musical anthems.

Spirit Dance was originally born as a song to record with my family on the road (my band). After the melody came to me, with the Brazilian flavor, I immediately thought of Gretchen Parlato who I had met on a cruise a few years ago. I was familiar with her use of voice as percussion, and the chorus section of this song seemed really made for her. Recording with her was a nice reunion, she couldn’t have been nicer and more fun to work with. We connected right off the bat, she totally got into the ‘spirit’ of the song and added such a fantastic element to it.”

Keiko Matsui

Spirit Dance is the new single by Keiko Matsui taken from her upcoming album Echo, scheduled for release on Shanachie Entertainment on Feb. 22. Along with the trusted members of her band, it features an array of guest contributors, like saxophonist Kirk Whalum, bassists Marcus Miller and Kyle Eastwood — and vocalist Gretchen Parlato, who appears here.

John Novello – Good To Go

Along with our friends at 529 Records, we are excited to announce the release of John Novello‘s new single, “Good To Go”! It’s the first single and title track from Novello’s forthcoming new album.

“Good To Go”
Written by John Novello
Produced by Andy Goldmark and John Novello

John Novello – Keys
Eric Marienthal – Sax
Adam Hawley – Guitar
Eric Valentine – Drums

Listen to Good To Go on Smooth Jazz Buzz (Playlist 22/3).

The Allen Carman Project – State Of Mine

By now, you’re probably aware that Philippe Saisse is the songwriter for Allen Carman’s music. Philippe also submitted “State Of Mine” to his friend and legendary producer/guitarist Nile Rogers, who loved the song so much he decided to include a pop mix on Chic’s new album which he produced.

Carman’s “State Of Mine” (Smooth Jazz mix) features Nile Rogers on guitar, along with Philippe Saisse on keys, and Gumbi Ortiz on percussion.

Listen to State Of Mine on Smooth Jazz Buzz (Playlist 22/3).

Kenney Polson – Blessed

Saxman Kenney Polson‘s new single “Blessed” is the first single from his upcoming new album, For Lovers Only Volume II.

Polson’s new album blends Smooth Jazz with R&B, and includes leading players such as guitarist Bruce Conte, keyboardist Roger Smith (Tower of Power), trumpeter Larry Gittens (Kool & The Gang), guitarist Phil Upchurch (Donny Hathaway and George Benson), and smooth jazz pioneer Tom Grant. Trombonist Fred Wesley (Parliament Funkadelic) and bassist/vocalist Michael Henderson (Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder) are also featured.

Listen to Blessed on Smooth Jazz Buzz (Playlist 22/3).

Mel Holder – Crossroads

Born in Brooklyn NY, of Panamanian decent, Mel was a testimony in the making. From an early age of six years old, Mel Holder was hindered from being able to fully participate in all of life’s youthful activities due to asthma. However, God taught him through that challenge to become a focused relentless warrior and saxophone player.

Mel Holder spreads his ministry through a blend of jazz and gospel, fused with African and Caribbean rhythms. He has already released the albums Music Book Volume 1 (2009), and Back To Basics: Music Book Volume 2 (2015).

Saxman Mel Holder’s new single Crossroads is taken from his new album, Music Book Volume III – Magnificent (2018). Ben Tankard is a featured guest artist on Crossroads. We think you and your listeners will dig it!

Listen to Crossroads on Smooth Jazz Buzz (Playlist 22/3).

Willie Bradley – Life On Top

Willie Bradley is a native of Orangeburg, SC and a graduate of South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, SC where he earned his BS Degree in Music Education and Performance. Over the course of his career he has become a go –to musician for many of soul music’s greats over the years. Willie’s stage presence includes performances with jazz greats including Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Frank Foster, Max Roach, Betty Carter, Gerald Albright, Walter Beasley, Alex Bugnon, Ronnie Laws, Hiroshima and Marion Meadows.

In 2014, Willie released his debut Contemporary Jazz CD Another Day & Time produced and co-written by keyboardist/Recording Artist Nicholas Cole. Willie’s sophomore CD Going With The Flow is being considered for a Grammy, “Best New Contemporary Jazz Instrumental Album 2018”. The single Life On Top is the first from Willie’s forthcoming new album, It’s My Time.

Listen to Life On Top on Smooth Jazz Buzz (Playlist 22/3).

Carol Albert – Femme Flight

One of contemporary jazz’s true breakaway artists of 2018 with three consecutive Billboard charting hits, keyboardist/composer Carol Albert keeps the momentum flowing with her new single, Femme Flight.

A bright and high spirited, Brazilian-tinged celebration of creative freedom, the track features Carol on piano and wordless vocals in an ensemble featuring two of the genre’s most acclaimed emerging female artists, flutist Ragan Whiteside and saxophonist Magdalena Chovancova. “Femme Flight” is produced, written and arranged by Carol Albert, and mixed by Paul Brown.

“It’s been very rewarding to see how my new music has resonated with people, and the radio airplay and appreciation from listeners are a wonderful confirmation that I’m on a strong creative path and achieving my goals on this very personal quest” – Carol Albert

Listen to Femme Flight on Smooth Jazz Buzz (Playlist 22/3).