Kim Waters – The Saxiest Saxman

Waters

 

With the release of his 1989 debut album, Sweet and Saxy, saxophonist-band leader-composer-arranger-producer KIM WATERS was instantly established among the premier Urban Jazz hit makers. Now, after over two decades as a music superstar with 16 Top Ten and 14 #1 singles, 4 #1 CDs and sales in excess of a million album units, Kim again elevates his already luminous career profile to an even higher pinnacle with MY LOVES, his 19th solo album and major label debut.

Resplendent with all the KIM WATERS signature in-the-pocket grooves, seductive melodies, virtuoso improvisations, state-of-the-art production and inspired contributions from his musicians and guest vocalists, MY LOVES, with an even deeper focus on the distinctly rich Urban Music mother-lode, is a soulful, 11-track hymnal in praise of romance – always the essential emotional subtext of any KIM WATERS album – in all its varied shadings, hues, depths, grandeur, yearnings and joyous fulfillments.

Imagine an evening-long party where two guests, meeting for the first time, realize they’ve found their forever partners. MY LOVES compellingly portrays the next once-in-a-lifetime hours with a most inviting “It’s a Party in Here,” one of Kim’s very best jazz creations to date. The spell has been cast, and next up is “I Wanna Love You,” co-written by Kim, guest vocalist Glen Jones and destined to become a soul power-ballad classic beyond this first 2013 appearance. And there are few moments ever better than “Watching the Sunset” with your soul-mate in a shimmering musical mood of exquisite, the best is yet to come promise.

Then it’s “High Steppin’” back to the party as your host and groovemeister KIM WATERS keeps the good-time vibe going big time with the very singular brewing of hot and cool Waters jazz jams. The expressive title song is dedicated to all lovers new-found and life-long, and especially to Kim’s special loves, Waters daughters Kimberly and Kayla (who is a 2013 Howard University Summa cum laude graduate!).

Next, the mood turns mellow with “Flamenco Nights,” featuring Kim’s sensuous sax lines embraced by a sumptuous orchestral ambiance with lush harmonies and insinuating rhythms followed by ”My Love is All I Have to Give,” a toast from our host to all his friends and one of Kim’s strongest power-ballad declarations. Then once again, it’s dance time with a scintillating mix of beats, hooks, lines and singer (Kim’s spellbinding solo saxophone) to introduce “The Groove Sensation.”

Another of Kim’s special loves, his wife Dana Pope, brings her vocal talents and individual artistry to the classic soul anthem “Loving You” in a memorable interpretation sure to remain in the mind and heart for all the “Sunny Days” and star-filled moonlight evenings of “Red Wine and You” and the everlasting love all KIM WATERS albums celebrate.

In truth, one look at the titles of his hit albums from only the past decade proves that KIM WATERS knows quite a lot about romance and love with such stellar achievements as Love’s Melody, One Special Moment, From The Heart, Someone to Love You, In the Name of Love, All For Love, You Are My Lady and Love Stories, his classic 2010 collection. Inspired by such jazz icons as Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Herbie Hancock, George Benson, Paul Desmond and Cannonball Adderley, Kim was born into a musical family. The Maryland native picked up his first instrument, the violin, at the age of eight. “That didn’t go over well with the fellas,” says Waters, who later found his true calling on the alto and soprano saxophones at age 13. Shortly afterwards he began playing in a band with his brothers, James (who he still performs with) and Eric, and his old friend, jazz piano legend Cyrus Chestnut. Over the years, KIM WATERS has shared stages with many of the best including Ray Charles, Al Green, Isaac Hayes, Phyllis Hyman, Gerald Albright and Grover Washington, Jr. to name a very few. Waters recently relocated to Elk Grove, California from his longtime Baltimore area home.

MY LOVES is sure to further captivate all KIM WATERS fans and earn him innumerable new ones as well again affirming that he has rightfully been acclaimed The #1 Urban Jazz Saxophonist and is here to stay! In this regard, Kim once stated, “I enjoy helping others and it is my hope that my music in some way brings positivity to the world. I believe that the world cannot live without new music – I know I can’t!”

Kim Waters published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Wayman Tisdale – A Huge One

Tisdale

After a stellar career that produced eight top-selling jazz CDs and one gospel project, prepare yourself for a different side of Wayman Tisdale—one that was 12 years in the making!

It’s The Fonk Record featuring 11 original songs, Tisdale’s own funky vocals and a crew of down-and-dirty musicians, The Fonk Record also boasts three guest stars with extensive funk résumés—George Clinton, George Duke and Ali Woodson.

To those who knew him best, it seemed only natural that Tisdale would craft a funk project. “He always wanted to make funk music,” says Derek (DOA) Allen, who produced The Fonk Record and was one of Tisdale’s closest friends. “People are going to see a whole ‘nother side of Wayman on this record—he was on a mission to play as hard and funky as he could.”

Tisdale confided in Allen that a funk project was something he always wanted to do. At first it was a playful joke with a few demos here and there. Inspired by great funk artists like Bootsy Collins and Robert Wilson of the Gap Band, Tisdale created his own funky moniker: Tiz and named his band The Fonkie Planetarians. His power source came from Stinky the Sock! Those who were lucky enough to catch Tisdale in concert got a glimpse of his alter ego when he’d perform 20 to 30-minute funk-filled interludes during his jazz shows. “If you saw it, you knew it was the most explosive part of his show,” Allen says. “That’s when the party got started!”

But Tisdale was way too busy with his successful jazz career to focus attention on his fonk. Between hosting jazz cruises, headlining tours, and being an active and loving husband and father, there wasn’t much time. One thing changed that: a diagnosis of cancer in 2007. Tisdale could not ignore his alter ego any longer. “He spent the last two years of his life finishing The Fonk Record,” says Allen. “Only he knew, when no one else did, that God was going to call him home. While he was in the hospital getting chemotherapy, he used funk music as therapy. I would send him files to listen to and it was part of the healing process. When he died, he was at peace.

Tisdale died on the morning of May 15, 2009, at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, where his wife had taken him when he had trouble breathing. Tisdale’s agent described his death as a “great shock” and noted that Tisdale had been planning to go into the recording studio the following week for a project with jazz guitarist Norman Brown. Tisdale and his wife, Regina, had four children.

Wayman Tisdale published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Richard Smith – The Jazz Professor

Richard Smith

Richard Smith is a high-acclaimed professor of jazz guitar music at the USC. The University of Southern California is one of the world’s leading private research universities, located in the heart of Los Angeles. The USC Thornton studio/jazz guitar department is considered one of the finest guitar programs in the world, boasting a faculty of world class touring and recording guitarists.

Richard Smith has already performed with Kirk Whalum, Marc Antoine, Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Dan Siegel, Warren Hill, Bob Hope and Brian Bromberg, to name a few. His solo projects are Rockin The Boat (1989), Puma Creek (1989), Bella Firenza (1991), From My Window (1994), First Kiss (1997), Flow (1999), Natural Soul (2002), Soulidified (2003) and LA Chillharmonic (2008).

Richard Smith published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

David Sanborn – Straight to The Heart

Sanborn

One of the most commercially successful American saxophonists to earn prominence since the 1980s, David Sanborn has released 24 albums, won six Grammy Awards, and has had eight Gold albums and one Platinum album. Having inspired countless other musicians, Dave has worked in many genres which typically blend instrumental pop, R&B and lately, more and more traditional jazz. He released his first solo album Taking Off in 1975, but has been playing the saxophone since before he was in high school when he was inspired by the great Chicago blues artists near his hometown of St. Louis. Having contracted polio at the age of three, Dave was introduced to the saxophone as part of his treatment therapy.

By the age of 14, he was able to play with legends such as Albert King and Little Milton. Dave went on to study music at Northwestern University before transferring to the University of Iowa where he played and studied with the great saxophonist JR Monterose. Later traveling to California on the advice of a friend, he joined the Butterfield Blues Band and played Woodstock with Paul Butterfield. Following that, Dave toured with Stevie Wonder and recorded for Wonder’s Talking Book album, played with The Rolling Stones, and toured with David Bowie with whom he recorded the famous solo heard on “Young Americans”.

At the same time, Dave was touring and recording with the great Gil Evans, dividing his time between the two. After moving to New York City and studying with George Coleman, Dave started his solo career where he later collaborated with such artists as Paul Simon and James Taylor. Dave’s solo release of Taking Off in 1975—still considered a classic—further solidified his career. His 1979 release of Hideaway became a popular hit and further propelled Dave’s ascent with the single, “Seduction” being featured in the movie, American Gigolo. Veteran bassist and composer Marcus Miller joined Dave on the 1981 album, Voyeur. The single, “All I Need Is You” won Dave his first Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance.

In 1983, Dave released the hit album Backstreet that included Luther Vandross as a featured guest vocalist. Later albums have included guest artists such as Jack DeJohnette, Bill Frisell, Charlie Hayden, Wallace Roney, Kenny Barron, Christian McBride, and Eric Clapton. Moving onto television, Dave hosted the show, Night Music from 1988 to 1990. Produced by Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, the show featured films of jazz legends like Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck and Billie Holiday, as well as banter and memorable music jams by a remarkable list of musicians including Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, Joe Sample, Pharoah Sanders, and many others. Additionally, Dave has regularly hosted the “After New Year’s Eve” TV special on ABC. During the 1980s and 1990s, Dave hosted a syndicated radio program, The Jazz Show with David Sanborn. Dave has also recorded many shows’ theme songs as well as several other songs for The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder.

In his three-and-a-half decade career, Dave has released 24 albums, won six Grammy Awards, and has had eight Gold albums and one Platinum album. He continues to be one of the most highly active musicians of his genre, with 2010 tour dates exceeding 150. Considered as a whole, Dave is an artist who pushes the limits and continues to make music that challenges the mind and goes Straight to The Heart.

David Sanborn published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Brenda Russell – In An Ideal World

Russell

With a voice that caresses like melted caramel and lyrics that touch the deepest recesses of your emotions, singer/songwriter Brenda Russell proves that a glowing talent only deepens with time. Author of such gems as “Piano In The Dark,” “If Only For One Night,” and the much-loved anthem “Get Here,” Brenda returned to the marketplace in 2000 with the release of Paris Rain on Hidden Beach Recordings-her first studio album in seven years. The exquisitely crafted album displayed her song craft and richly nuanced voice in an elegant journey of mood, melody and memory that satisfied longtime fans and enchanted new listeners.

Along with composing songs for her upcoming record, Brenda has continued to exercise her considerable gifts in a variety of projects. She is currently co-writing (with Allee Willis and Stephen Bray) the music for a Broadway production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker slated to hit the stage in 2005. She also co-wrote the song “Justice of the Heart” with Stevie Wonder for the Denzel Washington movie John Q—a song which Wonder performed. And her co-composition with Brazilian artist Ivan Lins, titled “She Walks This Earth,” was recorded by international superstar Sting for the all-star tribute album Love Affair: The Music Of Ivan Lins. Sting’s inspired performance of the uniquely beautiful song earned him a Grammy Award in 2001 for Best Pop Male Vocal Performance.

Her recording with Koz and the other tour artists of A Smooth Jazz Christmas CD was nominated for a 2002 Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album. That CD included a new version of her classic “Get Here” which received yet another re-working last fall by American Idol’s Justin Guarini, who performed it in the 2002 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and on Oprah as well as recording it for the American Idol: Greatest Moments compilation CD on RCA Records.

Fellow artists who appreciate Brenda’s music call on her formidable talent for penning music and lyrics again and again. Singer Will Downing benefited from Brenda’s songwriting with one of her co-compositions, “Don’t You Talk To Me Like That” (co-written with Vinx and Mark Cawley)-a Top 20 Urban AC hit from his 2002 Verve Records album Sensual Journey. Solomon Burke’s critically acclaimed and Grammy-winning 2002 comeback album Don’t Give Up on Me (Fat Possum) features “None of Us Are Free,” co-written by Brenda, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. The three are among an all-star lineup of songwriters on Burke’s recording including Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, Tom Waits, and Brian Wilson.

And just to keep things fun, Brenda wrote incidental music for the animated series “Fat Girl” on the Oxygen Network, as well as an animated internet short series titled “Driving While Black” for urbanentertainment.com. She also composed the theme music for the syndicated “The Ananda Lewis Show;” a daytime talk show hosted by the former MTV VJ.

Born to musical parents in Brooklyn, New York, Brenda grew up there and in the Canadian town of Hamilton, Ontario. She encountered her first piano while singing as a teenager in the Canadian company of the rock musical “Hair” in Toronto

Without a formal musical education, Brenda says she worried that she would never be able to write a song. “Then I had this revelation that: ‘You’re not doing this, you are just a channel for this, something opened up and it came through you.’ Once I realized that I was sort of fearless about songwriting after that. Because if that’s the way it is, I can do anything, and that’s the premise I’ve based my whole writing career on.”

In the late 1970s, now living in Los Angeles, Brenda and her manager began circulating a demo of her songs. She was signed to Tommy LiPuma’s Horizon Records, and her first single, “So Good, So Right” was released in 1979. Brenda transferred to A&M Records, where she formed a bond with label founder Herb Alpert and released Brenda Russell and Love Life. Her contract was picked up by Warner Bros. for the 1983 album Two Eyes before moving to Sweden, where she wrote tunes for her A&M return, Get Here. That 1988 album contained the Grammy-nominated “Piano In The Dark,” the gorgeous “Le Restaurant,” and the title cut, which was a hit for Oleta Adams a few years later.

After a 1992 Greatest Hits package and her 1993 set Soul Talkin'(EMI Records), Brenda took time off to regroup and travel. Continuing to write, produce, and collaborate with other artists, Brenda honed her craft and contributed tunes to other projects, including albums by Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Patti LaBelle, the score to How Stella Got Her Groove Back, as well as writing and performing two songs in director Barry Levinson’s film Liberty Heights.

As one of few artists who have successfully been able to incorporate a wide range of musical influences–rock, pop, R&B, jazz, classical, Latin–into a distinct style that defies categorization while attracting fans around the world, Brenda Russell’s music endures through time and trends. As evidence, her self-titled debut was re-released on CD by Universal Records in 2000, and the label, which now owns her A&M catalog, released Brenda Russell: Ultimate Collection in 2001. And later music writer David Nathan’s Ambassador Soul Classics label reissued Two Eyes.

“I never write songs that are without hope,” the accomplished artist explains. “People have to be inspired to another level. Like: My heart can go on! I may feel like I’m going to die, but I won’t because something good could be around the corner. I take responsibility on myself to inspire people and even make them cry. Yes, I’ll make you cry but I won’t leave you hopeless.”

Currently Brenda is working on her new album, which shall be released this year.  Stephan Oberhoff shows his wizardry on this album again.

Brenda Russell published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Jimmy Reid – Here To Stay

Reid

According to Dave Koz ” Jimmy is one of the real saxophone players of the future .. and he tells a story with his saxophone ” Jimmy is the featured Sax player on the hit single ” Get it On ” from Brian Culbertson and Jimmy is also featured on many other artists albums. Now it is Jimmy’s turn to be the featured artist.

Being able to record this album, “Jimmy Reid Preview 2002” released October 1, 2001, has been a dream come true for this Chicago native. With the love, support, and belief of his family and friends his dream has become a reality. Jimmy has been blessed with a musical gift. Not only to express his love through the saxophone, but he can also write wonderful memorable melodies and lyrics. This gifted musician can do it all – he writes the words and music, plays keyboards and even assists in the engineering of the music; he is the producer on all the tracks except the first single “Cool Vibe” produced by Brian Culbertson. To know Jimmy is to love him for his beautiful spirit and love for life and music that comes through with each note he plays and writes from his heart.

Jimmy came out to California in 1994 with nothing but his hopes to bring his music to the world. After years of playing street corners and dark night clubs, he finally has accomplished his goal. He has never given up and after years of trying to make it into the music world, he has made it. Not only with the love of his family but the support of fans and fellow musicians. Jimmy is not feared by fellow musicians but he is embraced. Jimmy is a shining example that you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it, and he is bringing something new and fresh to the music world. Combining old school jazz with new school urban, people of all ages are sure to enjoy this new and edgy expression of music. So, everyone get ready for the sounds of Jimmy Reid because he is surely here to stay.

Jimmy Reid published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Freddie Ravel – Music Applied To Life

Ravel

Utterly captivated by Music since age 5, Freddie Ravels’ talent took him from prodigy to a World-renowned Pianist, Composer, Recording Artist and Multi-Media Executive. His passion for bridging communication through Music propelled him to two decades of international acclaim and the creation of Tune Up to Success ®, an unprecedented interactive program that presents Music as a perfect metaphor for the dynamics of business and social networking.

Completing his Music degree cum laude, Freddie began performing around the World with Brazilian icon Sergio Mendes when Universal Records discovered and quickly signed the young artist. This resulted in a series of sensual and fiery albums: Midnight Passion, Sol to Soul & Freddie Ravel-charting #1 in the US. Embraced by his many fans, his songs continue to receive extensive radio airplay and garner critical acclaim: “Freddie’s blend of jazz textures, rock energy, tropical rhythms and charismatic performance style are sure pop-jazz crossovers.” – Los Angeles Times.

Establishing Ravelation Media Group in 1990, as CEO his reputation as a multi-faceted Producer, Artist & Composer soared to the top echelons of the music industry with the legendary Earth, Wind & Fire and Al Jarreau under Freddie’s directorship. Subsequent invitations from Madonna led to their joint MTV appearances and featured Freddie’s sizzling piano solo in Madonna’s remix of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.

Freddie’s lifelong commitment to raise human potential through Music gave birth to a powerful interactive performance event in 2002, which he named Tune Up to Success ®. Performing this interactive program nationwide, to live audiences ranging from teens & young adults to Fortune 500 Companies, Freddie connected new Music Creation by everyday people to their personal and professional lives utilizing a process he called InTuneition™.

“Freddie Ravel shows how listening skills are critical to our success in business and in life by getting “in tune” with our customers, associates, families and ourselves through this truly innovative and entertaining program.”

-Randy Salley, Sr. Vice President, Wal-Mart Information Systems.

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Michael Paulo – The Hawaiian Ambassador

Paulo

One of the most versatile and cosmopolitan saxophonists in pop, soul and contemporary jazz for nearly 20 years, Michael Paulo has added his distinct saxpertise to a virtual who’s who of artists, including Al Jarreau (Paulo’s longest term touring association), James Ingram, No. 1 Smooth Jazz Trumpeter and guitarist Rick Braun and Peter White, Oleta Adams, Kenny Loggins, Patti Austin, Jeffrey Osborne, Jeff Lorber, David Benoit, Carl Anderson, Bobby Caldwell, Johnny Mathis and more.

Paulo grew up in a musical family (his father a pianist, his mother a singer, his siblings all playing instruments) and though he came upon the sax relatively late at age 15, he quickly became first horn player in his high school band and was playing professional gigs around the islands within a few years. Rather than accept a scholarship to North Texas State, he chose a more adventurous road by joining Hawaiian pop/rock band Kalapana, which had some success on the mainland but was most popular in Japan. After playing regularly and recording on all four of Kalapana’s albums from 1975 through 1979, Paulo recorded a solo album for Japanese release on Trio records. In addition to exposing him to the Japanese jazz audience, Tats in the Rainbow gave him the opportunity to work with legendary pianist Herbie Hancock.

Paulo moved to Los Angeles in 1981 and quickly established himself by playing with percussionist Ray Armondo and a local R&B outfit featuring members of Rufus. Two years later, he caught his big break when Al Jarreau hired him for his touring band. The young saxman became an integral part of the Jarreau experience while touring the world for the next decade. Paulo also gained international recognition as a result of his work on Jarreau’s famed “Live in London” release.

In 1988, Paulo met producer Robert Kraft while recording a solo for singer /songwriter Vonda Sheppard . Impressed with the young saxophonist talent, Kraft secured Michael a major recording contract with MCA Records. Kraft produced his MCA debut One Passion, which became a Top Ten hit on the contemporary Jazz/NAC charts. 1990’s Fusebox, on GRP Records which charted in the Top 20 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart.

In 1994 Paulo launched his own label Noteworthy Records with the release of his fourth solo project Save the Children. Paulo spent much of the Nineties managing Noteworthy Records and touring with other artists, strengthening his solo career overseas with many Asian tours as well. Internationally, he is especially beloved in Asia and Thailand where Save the Children was first released. While that album found Paulo reflecting on the joys of fatherhood and his many world excursions, its similarly successful 1996 follow-up, My Heart and Soul, was about the simple balance between Paulo’s passions for slamming funk and dreamy balladry. My Heart and Soul was immediately a top ten Smooth Jazz hit. Continue reading

Marion Meadows – The Womanizer

Born in West Virginia, saxophonist Marion Meadows grew up in Stamford, CT, where he began playing clarinet and studying classical music at age 8. He naturally gravitated to the soprano sax in his high school years, and his passion for various types of music led him to appreciate numerous jazz musicians, including Stanley Turrentine, Sidney Bichet, Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington and Coleman Hawkins. Fortunately for the smooth jazz fans who have embraced his sweet and funky soprano sound over the past 15 years, Meadows took a few very important trips to Europe with his high school band during his junior and senior years. Originally planning to enter a college pre-med program (he had aspirations to pursue a career in veterinary medicine or zoology), he considered the saxophone a hobby until he saw the way audiences reacted to him and his fellow student performers in Holland, Italy and Austria.

“The first trip was with my high school band and the second was a graduation gift to me and a few other guys playing over there in a big band setting,” he says. “It was exciting seeing positive newspaper articles about my playing in Italy, receiving all sorts of accolades and feeling the excitement of interaction with the crowd. It was a tremendous rush, and it lit the fire.”

After studying jazz with Anthony Truglia, Meadows attended Berklee College of Music, where he majored in arranging and composition. He later went to the SUNY Purchase School for the Arts, where he studied under Ron Herder. “I got a lot of sideman jobs in college, and I have always said I got a graduate degree playing clubs,” says Meadows, who perfected his craft studying with Joe Henderson, Dave Liebman and Eddie Daniels. “Not long after I finished school, (drummer) Norman Connors recorded my song ‘Invitation’ and then asked me to join his band. I later produced his Passion album with him. Things just fell into place.”

Meadows first hit the airwaves in 1991 with For Lovers Only, but his career really began one day in the late ‘80s at New York’s Grand Central Station. He had been a sideman with Connors for three years, with only vague notions of eventually going solo. One day, while waiting for a train, he pulled out his horn and began playing under the huge dome. His sweet sound caught the attention of fellow traveler and TV composer Jay Chattaway, who was so impressed that he hooked Meadows up with legendary keyboardist Bob James. James signed Meadows to a deal with his TappanZee label, and though Meadows’ first recording went unreleased, the experience put him on the road to his eventual success.

Meadows hooked up with numerous artists and musicians and became a well known sideman in his own right, recording or performing over the years with Brook Benton, Eartha Kitt, Phyllis Hyman, Jean Carne, The Temptations, Michael Bolton, Angela Bofill, Will Downing and Native American flute player Douglas Spotted Eagle, among many others. In the late ‘80s, Meadows stretched his usual pop/jazz boundaries as a member of a New York avant-garde band called the Aboriginal Music Society. The ‘90s marked the beginning of his solo career when he signed with RCA on the strength of his unreleased first album. He became a staple of the smooth jazz format with his subsequent recordings, which include Keep It Right Here (1993), Forbidden Fruit (1994) and Body Rhythm (1996).

After moving from his home in Connecticut to Phoenix, AZ, Meadows signed with Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group, and released Another Side of Midnight (1999). A contemporary tribute to city life, his label debut was considered by critics to be his strongest work to date. His subsequent Heads Up discography has been equally successful on an artistic as well as commercial level: Next To You (2000), featured a mix of R&B-influenced jazz coupled with sensual Latin rhythms; In Deep (2002), a neo-soul blend of jazz, R&B and hip-hop, brimmed with sophisticated arrangements and impressive tenor/soprano playing; Players Club (2004) paid tribute to Meadows’ fellow musicians with a seamless mix of contemporary jazz and soulful R&B; and Dressed To Chill (2006) was another fine showcase for the joint songcraft of Meadows and keyboardist/producer Michael Broening. All five Heads Up recordings have been well received by his ever-growing, always loyal fans. Secrets, scheduled for release on April 28, 2009, is the latest chapter in Meadows’ satisfying tradition of cool sophistication.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of projects, both my own and group efforts,” says Meadows, “and my main objective is to keep growing as an artist and engage the fans who have invested so much emotion in my music and my career. Aside from that wonderful sense of live communication, the real magic for me happens in the studio when I put on those headphones and start playing. That’s where the ideas just start to flow. Everything else in my musical life comes out of that moment.”

Marion Meadows published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Eric Marienthal – The Fusion Sax

In 1997, Eric was signed by legendary jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour to record for his new label, i.e. Music. Lee produced Eric’s “Easy Street” CD and the title track, which features Rick Braun on trumpet, made it to #2 on the National Contemporary Jazz Radio Charts.

Currently, Eric is signed to the Peak Records label, owned by Rippingtons founder Russ Freeman. “When Russ asked me to join the Rippingtons, he also offered me a deal with his label and I jumped at it. Playing with the Ripp’s has been incredibly fun for me and the band is awesome!” Eric’s first 2 recordings on Peak were “Turn Up The Heat” and “Sweet Talk”. The later of which featured the title track that was co-written by Eric’s 14 year old son, Robert. “Rob plays guitar and wrote this song which was originally more of a folk song. After I put my two cents in it turned into more of a smooth jazz tune and I don’t think Rob will ever forgive me!”

Eric’s next CD is his 3rd for Peak entitled “Got You Covered”. It’s an amazing collection of some of Eric’s favorite tunes and was recorded live in the studio. “Of all 10 of my records, this is my favorite. It features Russell Ferrante, Peter Erskine, Russ Freeman, Chick Corea, Dave Carpenter and Luis Conte. Most of the record was recorded live all together and all at the same time. It was so refreshing to record this way and the music sounds just like we played it.” The record has a very heartfelt, mostly acoustic sound and it’s one that Eric is obviously very proud of.

For the past 7 years Eric has been the musical director of an annual fundraising concert for High Hopes. High Hopes is a non-profit organization in Orange County, California that works with people who have suffered traumatic head injuries. With the help of guest artists such as Lou Rawls, Patti Austin, David Benoit, Brian Culbertson, Rick Braun, Vesta Williams, Jeff Lorber, David Pack, Lee Ritenour and many more, these concerts to date have raise well over a half million dollars for this charity.

Among all the different bands that Eric has been a part of, one of his favorites is the Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band. Gordon is a very prominent, Grammy winning composer in Los Angeles and the Big Phat Band is among the most popular Big Bands in the world today. Eric is the band’s lead alto sax player and obviously loves being there. “This is about the only band I’ve ever been in that has as much fun traveling together as we do playing together! The audiences always go completely crazy during our shows and they know most of the music we play.” The band is made up of some of L.A.’s top studio musicians. The Phat band’s 3rd record, “The Phat Pack” was recently released in June, 2006. According to Eric, it’s the best record Gordon’s ever made.

Eric Marienthal published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Bobby Lyle – Piano Magic

A flexible pianist and keyboardist, Bobby Lyle has long straddled the boundaries between straight-ahead and more commercial forms of jazz. He grew up in Minneapolis and at age six took piano lessons from his mother, who was a church organist. Lyle played clarinet for a period in junior high school before switching back to piano. He considers Oscar Peterson, Ahmad Jamal, Bill Evans, Erroll Garner, and Art Tatum to have been his early influences.

Lyle’s first gig was when he was 16 and, after two years of college, in 1964 he became a full-time musician. He spent six years playing locally in Minneapolis and then toured for two years with Young-Holt Unlimited. After returning to Minneapolis for local work (recording a set in 1974 that was released just in Japan), in 1976 Lyle moved to Los Angeles where he quickly got a job with Sly & the Family Stone.

After playing with Ronnie Laws, he recorded two solo albums for Capitol. Lyle made guest appearances on recordings by George Benson, Phyllis Hyman, and Esther Phillips and in the early ’80s toured with Benson and became Bette Midler’s musical director. After two years with Al Jarreau, Lyle recorded a straight-ahead combo date for King (which was reissued as an Evidence CD), conducted for Anita Baker in 1986, and worked with Gerald Albright.

In 1988 he began a long association with Atlantic that resulted in the release of six albums between 1989 and 1997, with Pianomagic, a 1991 album of piano solos, being one of the highlights of his career.

Bobby Lyle has remained a highly versatile and valuable keyboardist as both leader and sideman during the new millennium, releasing such albums as 2002’s Joyful, 2004’s Straight and Smooth, and 2006’s Hands On on independent labels.

Bobby Lyle published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Jeff Lorber – Master of Fusion Jazz

Over three decades after breaking ground as leader of the pioneering Jeff Lorber Fusion, the Philly-born and bred composer, producer and keyboard legend is still keeping the vibes fresh and the grooves funky, inspiring contemporary jazz fans everywhere to exclaim with each new musical excursion: Heard That. On his highly anticipated Peak Records debut, Lorber keeps the soulful momentum going, collaborating brilliantly on pop, jazz, R&B and blues-influenced tracks–and even harkening back a bit to his early 80s Fusion heyday–with one of urban jazz’s top hit makers and sonic architects, Rex Rideout.

Highlighted by a swinging, bluesy-brass twist on Amy Winehouse’s Grammy winning “Rehab,” (the first single,) Heard That features a typically vibrant Lorber all-star guest list, including trumpet great Rick Braun, guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr., bassist Alex Al, and Peak labelmate, saxman Gerald Albright. Lorber has been touring all throughout 2008 as part of Guitars & Saxes with Albright, Jessy J, Jeff Golub and Peter White.

As high charting, pop-jazz oriented releases like West Side Stories (1994), State of Grace (1996) and Midnight (1998) were establishing him as one of the genre’s top artists, Lorber also became an in demand producer; every artist looking for a hit melody and groove, from Albright to Eric Marienthal, Richard Elliot and David Benoit, tapped his behind the board talents. But on his later projects, Lorber sought new inspiration himself by collaborating with other producers. On his first three Narada Jazz sessions, including Kickin’ It (2001), Philly Style (2003) and 2005’s Grammy nominated Flipside, the keyboardist partnered with producer Steven Dubin. Leaning more jazzy on his eclectic 2007 date He Had A Hat, he worked with legendary Blood, Sweat & Tears drummer and Chris Botti producer Bobby Colomby.

Eager to return to his trademark R&B sound when he signed with Peak, Lorber immediately sought out Rideout, who has lent his Midas touch over the past ten years to a virtual who’s who of contemporary jazz and soul instrumentalists and vocalists: Albright, Elliot, Boney James, Paul Taylor, Kirk Whalum, Maysa, Will Downing, Lalah Hathaway and Ledisi.

“I have been a fan of all of the records he’d been doing in the urban jazz realm for years,” the keyboardist says. “My last album He Had A Hat was more of a serious jazz exploration, and I wanted to record a more funky, R+B approach that would be modern, yet also have some of the funky sound and jazzy chord changes like the music from 1979’s ‘Water Sign’ which is one of my favorite albums. Songs on Heard That like ‘The Bomb’, ‘Night Sky’ and ‘Gamma Rays’ have these influences. There’s also a strong blues influence, especially on ‘Don’t Stop and the title track.”

That exciting blues twist is also a prominent element in Lorber’s instantly infectious romp through “Rehab,” which was actually added to the set list of Heard That at the last minute “I was just messing around at the piano,” he says, “and realized it would be a good instrumental song, based on a Wurlitzer piano figure, which I included in my version, of course. The whole thing came down very quickly and spontaneously. Tony Moore, a good friend who just happened to be coming over, played the drum part on Bobby Colomby’s 30 year old Slingerland drum set that he used to play with Blood Sweat and Tears. We got into a groove reminiscent of Ramsey Lewis’ ‘In Crowd’ immediately. Rex suggested a Motown style back beat guitar part which I recorded with plenty of spring reverb, like a record from the 60’s. Gary Meek and Rick Braun laid down their horn parts a few days later and everything just clicked.”

While most of Lorber’s previous recordings exclusively feature him on piano, Wurlitzer, Hammond B-3, Fender Rhodes and synthesizers, the playful spirit of the sessions for Heard That allowed for him to share the keys with Rideout, most notably on the old school soul-jazz jam opener “Come On Up” (highlighted by a swirl of Rhodes and piano with the Ron King/Gary Meek horn section and a crackling Paul Jackson, Jr. guitar solo); the cool, slow jam soul ballad “You Got Something” (which they wrote with featured vocalist Phillip “Taj” Jackson); the wild and soaring, brassy funk/fusion explosion not called “The Bomb” for nothing!; and the sensual vocal track “Take Control,” which blends a thick funk ballad rhythm and dark keyboard chordings with co-writer Lauren Evans’ dreamy vocals.

“Rex and I were surrounded by tons of keyboards in my studio,” Lorber says, “and every time we came up with a new idea, whoever was closest to the one that would have the right sound would play it. It was great to have his flavor as a complement to my style.” The rest of the tracks, include the guitar and bass driven “Don’t Hold Back”; the percussive and whimsical, fusion-influenced “Gamma Rays” (with Rick Braun on trumpet and Gary Meek on tenor sax and flute); the sly and sensual, bubbling bass and horn accented “Don’t Stop”; the vibrant up-tempo “Night Sky,” featuring Lorber’s bright piano melody and retro wah-wah guitar ; and the high energy, swinging funk/jazz title track closer which Lorber wrote with rising urban jazz star Eric Darius, with whom Lorber toured Indonesia and Japan in early 2008.

Since the late 80s advent of the New Adult Contemporary format, Jeff Lorber has found himself filling a unique dual role. Having played a significant role in developing the late 70’s, early 80s R&B-jazz hybrid sound that later evolved into today’s smooth jazz, the keyboardist is a true elder statesman of the genre and mentor to many of this generation’s top artists. Philly raised and Berklee educated, Jeff Lorber recorded his first two albums for Inner City records: The Jeff Lorber Fusion (1977) and Soft Space (1978)-both of which have been recently re-issued.

Lorber fondly refers to the wealth of music he created on his six popular Arista albums from 1979-1985 (which led to his first Grammy nomination for Best R&B instrumental for “Pacific Coast Highway” in 1985) as “second generation fusion.” In 2000, Arista Records released The Definitive Collection, which gathered the best material from these classic recordings. After the heyday of Jeff Lorber Fusion-a band which featured a then little known sax player named Kenny G, whose first album Lorber produced-the keyboardist produced R&B artists like Karyn White (including her Top Ten hit “Facts of Love”) and entered his remixing phase. Getting back into the instrumental groove in the 90s, he produced tracks on Dave Koz’s first two albums and many other artists including Art Porter and Michael Franks.

Throughout 2004 and 2005, Lorber anchored the immensely popular tribute tour Groovin’ For Grover, which featured Gerald Albright throughout its run in addition to stints by Richard Elliot, Paul Taylor and Kirk Whalum. In November, 2004, the keyboardist had a kidney transplant surgery (his wife Mink was a perfect match) after experiencing end stage renal failure due to the genetic condition Polycystic Kidney Disease; he is currently a spokesman for the PKD Foundation. True to his hardworking form, Lorber was back in action within a few weeks, performing gigs and getting back to his popular, weekly three hour radio show Lorber’s Place Sunday nights on Sirius’ Satellite Radio’s Jazz Café Channel.

“I’m very grateful to be healthy and having the opportunity to do what I love to do, which is making music,” says Lorber. “I think the key to my success and longevity is my work ethic and the time I spend focusing on writing . Some artists only compose songs when it’s time for the next album, but I’m open to inspiration and ideas 24 hours a day, always thinking about harmony, melodies and chords. The best part of recording Heard That was having the chance to work with and become friends with Rex, who generously brought his talent and perspective to the project. Jazz thrives on being a collaborative medium and working with Rex was for me was a great opportunity to learn and bring in new ideas”

Jeff Lorber published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Michael Lington – Pure Lington

Hailing from Denmark saxophonist Michael Lington delights since many years the smooth jazz scene with his solo albums. After his self-titled debut album (1997) followed Vivid (2002), Everything Must Change (2002), Stay With Me (2004), A Song For You (2006) and Heat (2008). Also to mention Best of Michael Lington – The Songbook Collection (2010).

His newest album is entitled Pure, released February 14th 2012 on Trippin N’ Rhythm. Guest musicians are Michael Bolton, Lee Ritenour, Jonathan Butler, Brian Culbertson, Ray Parker Jr., Jeff Golub, Jeff Babko, Paul Jackson Jr. and many more. The album was produced by executive producer Les Cutmore.

Michael Lington published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

June Kuramoto – The Koto

Born in Saitama-ken Japan (just outside of Tokyo), and raised in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles, June epitomizes America’s evolving art and music culture. As a child, she longed to return to Japan and found comfort in playing an ancient Japanese instrument– the koto. Almost by destiny, a renowned koto master, the madame Kazue Kudo, protege of Japan’s most famous kotoist and composer, Michio Miyagi, relocated to the United States, and began teaching koto– in June’s family home. Using her grandmother’s koto, June, only six years old, found a ‘connection’ for her life in the instrument and Japanese music.

June has subsequently received all the classical degrees of koto through Kudo-Sensei and authorized by the Miyagi School of Koto in Japan. Along the way she has performed with some of the greatest musicians in the classical world from Japanese masters to Ravi Shankar. But June is an American artist. She wanted somehow to integrate this music that is her life– with the American culture and music that she loves.

June met an eccentric artist-musician named Dan, and they began merging June’s koto music with the diverse musical environment of Los Angeles. This was the beginning of Hiroshima. June has since been the driving artistic force of Hiroshima, creating a multi-cultural music statement, while growing into one of the world’s greatest kotoists.

June Kuramoto published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Earl Klugh – The Spice of Life

At the age of 13, Klugh was captivated by the guitar playing of Chet Atkins when Atkins made an appearance on the Perry Como Show. Klugh was a performing guest on several of Atkins’ albums. Atkins, reciprocating as well, joined Earl on his Magic In Your Eyes album. Klugh also appeared with Atkins on several television programs, including Hee Haw and a 1994 TV special entitled “Read my Licks”. Klugh was also influenced by Bob James, Ray Parker Jr, Wes Montgomery and Laurindo Almeida. His sound is a blend of these jazz, pop and rhythm and blues influences, forming a potpourri of sweet contemporary music original to only him.

Klugh’s first recording, at age 15, was on Yusef Lateef’s Suite 16. He played on George Benson’s White Rabbit album and two years later, in 1973, joined his touring band.

For their album One on One, Klugh and Bob James received a Grammy award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance of 1981. He has since received 12 Grammy nods, millions of record and CD sales, and continues touring worldwide to this day.

Klugh has recorded over 30 albums including 23 Top Ten charting records – five of them No. 1 – on Billboard’s Jazz Album chart. With 2008’s The Spice of Life, Klugh earned his 12th career Grammy nomination – his second nomination and release on the independent Koch label.

Each spring, Klugh hosts a special Weekend of Jazz featuring jazz legends and greats at the Five-Star Broadmoor Hotel & Resort in Colorado Springs. Jazz greats including Ramsey Lewis, Patti Austin, Chuck Mangione, Bob James, Joe Sample, Chris Botti, Roberta Flack, and Arturo Sandoval have all performed at the annual event set in foot of the Colorado Rockies. In November 2010 Klugh brought the ‘Weekend of Jazz’ to Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina. In November 15–17, 2012 the third Weekend of Jazz at the Kiawah Island Resort is scheduled.

Earl Klugh published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Gregg Karukas – The Soundtrack To Your Soul

The best way to recognize the popularity of a musician is to read his tour schedule. Gregg Karukas is undeniable one of the busiest artists of the smooth jazz genre. His tight current schedule sees him this year with Rick Braun, Earl Klugh, Peter White, Richard Smith, Greg Adams, Michael Paulo. Brian Bromberg and many other stars of the contemporary jazz scene.

“I think we all need music to be the soundtrack to our soul,” Gregg comments. “It can inspire us, balance out our lives and relieve stress. I appreciate that and I treat each CD or concert as another opportunity to connect to those sounds and emotions on a deeper level. I love sharing that with others and try to make each project a special event all its own.”

Karukas feels lucky to work with singers and musicians whom he feels a magical musical rapport with. “People say my music sounds romantic and uplifting – and I look so happy on stage, he says. It’s totally true. For me, the best music comes out of an inner feeling of either intense happiness or sadness. I always try to stay faithful to that original inspiration, because that is where the true sound of emotion’ comes from.

Currently he is working on his new album.

Gregg Karukas published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Paul Jackson – The Session Guitarist

Paul Jackson Jr. is worldwide the first-call and most wanted session guitarist. His performance is recorded on more than 1.000 albums, among those Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Bad. Further artists he played with are Luther Vandross, Quincy Jones, Steely Dan, Elton John, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Madonna, Rod Stewart, Barbara Streisand and some hundreds more.

His solo albums are I Came To Play (1988), Out of The Shadows (1990), River in The Desert (1993), Never Alone: Duets (1996), Power Of The String (2001) and Still Small Voice (2003). After a long hiatus Paul Jackson, Jr. presented in 2009 his  album Lay It Back on his new label Branch Records.

Jackson can be seen playing guitar in a wide variety of styles on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and American Idol.

Paul Jackson published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Hiroshima – A Pioneering Voice

In 1971, Duke Ellington recorded an album entitled The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse. As part of that work, Ellington proclaimed “that whole world was going [Asian],” and that no one would know “who was in the shadow of whom.”

The celebrated ensemble known as Hiroshima is the fulfillment of Ellington’s prophecy. In the three decades since they first convened, the Los Angeles-based ensemble of Dan Kuramoto (keyboards/ woodwinds/ composer/ producer), virtuoso June Kuramoto (koto/ composer), Kimo Cornwell (piano/keyboards/composer), Danny Yamamoto (drums/percussion), Dean Cortez (bass) and Shoji Kameda (taiko drum/percussion) have blended jazz, pop, and rock with traditional Japanese folk music and instruments. The resulting sound was a pioneering voice in the contemporary world music movement of the late 20th century.

Ever evolving, the 2010 Grammy-nominated group, highlighted by the sound of June Kuramoto’s shimmering koto (noted by Stanley Clarke to be the world’s best) creates music and sounds totally unique–with depth, heart and soul.

After more than 30 years in the recording industry — and almost 4 million records sold – Hiroshima decided to leave record companies behind and venture on their own.

Hiroshima published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Warren Hill – The Smooth Jazz Business Man

Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Warren Hill began his musical journey on the guitar and vocals at the age of 7. In his first lesson, his guitar teacher simply asked him “tell me your favorite songs and I’ll teach you how to play them” It was this simple question that set the stage for Warren’s entire musical future: playing the music that he loved.

Within a couple of years he had a songbook the size of an encyclopedia and a growing desire to learn more music. This desire led him to a music camp where he met bassist and hit music producer Matthew Gerrard. At age 14 and 15, the two formed a rock band performing shows all over Toronto. Eventually Warren began to incorporate his growing desire for the saxophone into the band, which led Gerrard and Hill to Rochester for a summer music camp at the acclaimed Eastman School of Music. Warren brought both his guitar and his sax, but once he arrived, someone played him a cassette with Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Warren was instantly hooked on this undiscovered style of music called “jazz”. During that summer, he was so engrossed with the sax that his guitar never left the closet! From there it was back to Toronto where he quit his rock band and formed a fusion group, playing Weather Report, Pat Metheny, Spyro Gyra, Grover Washington Jr. and David Sanborn.

At this point, Warren was in his senior year of high school, with a tough decision to make. An “A” student with a passion for math and physics, he was accepted into the prestigious program of Engineering Science at the University of Toronto. It seemed that the “logical” choice was to sideline his music and pursue a more stable career in Science. Thus began one of the most difficult years of his life. His studies were so demanding that he was only able to play music once a week. This made him realize even more how important music was to him. But then the sudden tragic death of his older sister literally flipped his world on it’s end and made Warren re-think his life path. Realizing that life was precious and his time on this earth was short, he decided that he’d better be doing what he loved. So he applied to Berklee College of Music in Boston and received a full scholarship. In his words it was the best “career” decision he ever made.

3 years later, on Hill’s graduation night performance, to his surprise legendary producer Russ Titleman was in the audience and hired Warren on the spot to record 2 solos on his current project Chaka Khan’s “CK”. The record included a virtual who’s who in music, including Stevie Wonder and Miles Davis. It was a dream come true for Warren. Little did he know that things would not necessarily happen that easily from that point on. He was still going to have to work hard to reach his dreams of becoming a recording artist in his own right. It was 1988 and Hill packed his bags in Boston and went west to Los Angeles to pursue his own record deal.

After only 6 months, one of Warren’s demo tapes was heard by Ahmet Ertegun and HIll was offered a recording contract with Atlantic Records. However, the celebration was short-lived as Warren faced his first challenge of perseverance: he spent 8 months on “cloud nine” composing and preparing to make the record, only to be shut down before ever stepping foot in the studio, due to sudden cutbacks at the label. After investing all of his time and money into a record deal that was now gone, Warren pulled up his boot straps and sent his tapes around to more labels. After 4 months of pounding the pavement he found his new home with Steve Backer and RCA Records, where Warren was finally able to introduce the world to his music. Backer allowed Hill the freedom to make the record with very little input from the label and Warren delivered “Kiss Under the Moon” his debut CD in 1991.

The CD quickly caught the attention of the industry and climbed to the top of the Contemporary Jazz charts. Most importantly, it caught the attention of Natalie Cole, who was looking for an opening act for her “Unforgettable” tour. Suddenly Warren found himself on the hottest tour of the year, performing throughout the US and Canada at some of the most prestigious and historic music halls, including 3 nights at Radio City Music Hall in New York City! A hit record and a tour that put him in front of 250,000 people in 2 months, the foundation for Warren’s solo career had been set.

Since 1991, Warren has released 11 solo CD’s which have reached combined worldwide sales of over 1 million copies. His live show is critically acclaimed as one of the best in his genre and has taken him around the globe including Southeast Asia, Europe and the Caribbean. He has earned accolades from a variety of institutions including: 6 Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards, Berklee Distinguished Alumni, multiple SESAC Songwriter Awards, a Juno Nomination, multiple Number 1 songs at Radio & Records, USA Today and Billboard. He has performed as a special guest for many Artists, including the number 1 Pop hits “Baby I Love Your Way” with Big Mountain, “Tell Me What You Dream” with Restless Heart”. In the field of Contemporary Jazz he has been heard on recordings with Chieli Minucci, Keiko Matsui, Jeff Golub, Steve Oliver, Special EFX, John Tesh, to name a few, many of which became number 1 songs. Still a vocalist at heart, Warren continues to include his vocals on his CD’s, one of which reached Top 20 on the Billboard Charts in 1998 “Shelter From the Storm”. His television credits include performances on Arsenio Hall, The Tonight Show and BBC’s Top of the Pops.

In 2002 Warren had an idea to create an event that would bring his fellow Artists and fans together for a brand new musical experience. He created the concept for the world’s first Smooth Jazz Cruise. After 2 years of development and planning, Hill launched “Warren Hill’s Smooth Jazz Cruise” in January 2004. It was an instant success. So much so that it spawned additional cruises mimicking Hill’s design. After 3 years of sold-out cruises, Warren decided to move on to other projects and handed over the reigns of his cruise to the capable hands of the late, great Wayman Tisdale. 7 years later, Warren’s initial concept and design are still producing several sold-out cruises per year, earning him the right to be referred to as a music business “pioneer”.

The true loves of Warren’s life are his wife of 16 years, Tamara and their 13 year old daughter, Olivia. He has written countless hits dedicated to them, including “The Passion Theme”, “Our First Dance”, “Tamara”, “U R the 1”, “Olivia” and “Still in Love”. Olivia is now getting ready to take over the role of “star” in the family, as her career is beginning to take off. She has a feature film “Olivia Rox” being released as one the the world’s first family oriented webisode series. Olivia is an incredible singer/songwriter with over 200 songs composed since the age of 4. A natural performer, Olivia starred in the role of Annie for 75 shows during the summer of 2009, receiving an Ovation Award Nomination from the critics.

Currently Warren is touring with the “Soul of Summer”, a package tour featuring Jonathan Butler and Maysa. He is working on several projects including: a new CD; his daughter’s CD and next film; his online Sax Club – with student members around the globe; concert promotion; and an innovative new internet music series. When he is not working, he enjoys the outdoors for long family walks with the dogs, jogging, cycling and swimming. Although if you ask him his response would be”Technically I don’t feel like I ever stop working. Even when I go for a jog, I’m working on some new song or arrangement in my head. But I’m not complaining!”

Warren Hill published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Smooth Jazz And Great Venues – Festival of the Arts

You can’t find a more beautiful place to be on a summer day. The Festival of Arts is a beautiful outdoor gallery nestled in the canyon and only a few blocks from the ocean in Laguna Beach. This is the place to find that art treasure for your home or business for which you have been searching. The Festival’s prestigious juried art show includes a wide variety of media such as paintings, photography, printmaking, sculpture, jewelry, handcrafted wood and furniture, ceramics, glass and more – all by over 140 of “The O.C.’s” finest artists! If you’re on the hunt for that perfect art piece, you’ll be sure to find it at The Festival of Arts.

In addition to the art show, the Festival provides a relaxing, entertaining environment with plenty to see and do. In addition to the special events, come and enjoy art workshops, daily docent-led tours offering expert insights to the exhibits, musical entertainment and hands-on demonstrations in printmaking, ceramics, painting and paper art. Then, explore the outstanding accomplishments of talented local students at the Junior Art Exhibit, featuring 150 works selected from over 1,500 submissions.

This venue also offers a great bouquet of National jazz artists.

Festival of the Arts, 650 Laguna Canyon Rd, Laguna Beach, California

Euge Groove – Born 2 Groove

Euge Groove — a pseudonym for saxophone journeyman Steve Grove — began playing piano in the second grade and turned to the saxophone at the age of nine or ten. His teacher gave him a classical education on the instrument, which he followed at the University of Miami’s School of Music, where he became interested in jazz.

Upon graduation, he initially remained in Miami doing sessions and playing in bands such as Expose, where he can be heard on the group’s 1987 number one single “Seasons Change.” He then moved to Los Angeles and joined Tower of Power, remaining with the group about four years.

Following this experience, he freelanced, doing sessions and working in backup bands, his clients including Joe Cocker, Eurythmics, the Gap Band, Huey Lewis & the News, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville, Eros Ramazotti, and Richard Marx.

His saxophone appeared on Marx’s Top 20 pop and number one AC hit “Keep Coming Back” in 1991. At the end of the ’90s, Grove developed the persona of Euge Groove, a corruption of his real name, and recorded a demo that attracted the attention of various labels. This demo soon landed him with Warner Bros. Records. Euge Groove, his debut album, was released in May 2000.

At the time, the saxophonist toured in Tina Turner’s backup band. He followed up with 2002’s Play Date featuring the singles “Slam Dunk” and “Rewind.” In 2004, Grove moved to Narada for the ’70s pop-soul inflected Livin’ Large. Grove stuck with the ’70s vibe for 2005’s Just Feels Right and then incorporated a more gospel approach for 2007’s Born 2 Groove. He moved to Shanachie for 2009’s Sunday Morning. In 2011, Grove returned with his seventh studio effort, the fittingly titled Seven Large on Shanachie.

Euge Groove published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Ray Fuller – The Weeper

There’s an understanding among artists of all walks that the most gifted make their statements with the most refinement. From Picasso and Rembrandt to Miles and B.B., at the height of their artistry, each was able to express volumes with a few precise brush strokes or one and well placed note. Chicago native Ray Fuller, a guitarist, composer and band leader blessed with limitless capacities for taste, economy and sensitivity, is well on the road to such refinement, though it’s mostly been other musicians who have realize it… That will change upon the release of Ray Fuller’s first album as a leader “The Weeper”, its title taken from the nickname he was given by none other than world class musician, George Duke.

From hard working teen on the scene in the ‘70s to A-list session player and world touring Guitarist/Musical Director in the present, Ray Fuller has earned the enviable title of the chosen few in his profession: that of musician’s musician.” For three decades, Ray has been honing his skills in the service of some of the greatest asked most diversified artists of all-time. His resume includes legends Curtis Mayfield, Quincy Jones, Roebuck “Pops Staples & The Staple Singers, Nancy Wilson and “Mr. Motown” himself, Berry Gordy. It also includes all-around musician / producers such as George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, David Foster and Mike Post. It includes vocal divas Dionne Warwick, Natalie Cole, Whitney Houston, Anita Baker and Oleta Adams. And it includes Contemporary Gospel royalty The Winans, Kirk Franklin,Tramaine Hawkins and Yolanda Adams.

This first solo project has been a long time coming for Fuller.’l started thinking about how much life had crept up on me,” he muses.”A musician known for supporting others (and very satisfied with that) began to see that life had become far too easy. I started thinking about my children how one day they would want to know about who their daddy was as an ‘artiste.’ I figured I’d better start thinking about MY legacy and getting a story told.”

Ray was gently pushed into this more foreground position by several people who recognized his greater potential as a lead artist. One was the late artist manager Howard Lowell, who told Ray he envisioned him playing beautiful melodies. Peer saxophonist Everette Harp keenly elaborates, ‘Ray’s ability to subtly emote through his guitar is merely an extension of his soul.With the exception of the late,great Eric Gale, I have never heard anyone play this style. And The Weeper has taken it a step or two further.’ Perhaps the biggest push came in 1997 in the form of some tough love from Ray’s frequent employer, George Duke. When Ray asked him to produce some music for him, Duke said,”No, because you already know what you want. All of the choices that you make around for me are the same ones you need to go ahead and make for yourself.”

Ray Fuller published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Jeff Golub – Between Rock And Jazz

Jeff Golub is a contemporary jazz guitarist with 6 solo albums and 3 CD’s as the leader of the instrumental band “Avenue Blue”.

Before becoming an instrumentalist, Jeff worked as a sideman to a number of very successful rock and pop artists.
He’s probably best known for his work with Rod Stewart, who he played with from 1988 until 1995 performing on 4 albums and 5 world tours as well as recording the live DVD “One Night Only” live at Royal Albert Hall.

Born in Copley Ohio, Jeff started playing by emulating 60’s blues rock guitarists Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix ect…. Then, following up on the artists that these musicians sighted as their inspiration, he delved deeper into the blues listening to Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and anyone named King ( B.B.,Albert and Freddie).

Jeff was in his teens when he first heard a Wes Montgomery record. This moment set him on a whole new course which led him to study at Berklee Music College in Boston. From Boston Jeff Moved to New York in 1980 where his first major gig was with rocker Billy Squier. Jeff appeared on 7 albums and 3 world tours with Billy.

Jeff is still one of New York’s top session musicians. He has performed on several albums for friends in the jazz realm, including sax man Bill Evans (Alternative Man and Push), five with trumpeter/flugelhornist Rick Braun. In May, 1995 Jeff was hired by jazz pianist Bob James for a week’s engagement at the BlueNote Jazz Club in New York. That gig resulted in being asked to tour and perform on a colloberation album by James and saxman Kirk Whalum, “Joined at the Hip”, which received a Grammy Nomination that year.

His solo albums are:

1988 – Unspoken Words, 1994 – Avenue Blue, 1996 – Naked City, 1997 – Nightlife, 1997 – Six String Santa, 1999 – Out of the Blue, 2000 – Dangerous Curves, 2002 – Do It Again, 2003 – Soul Sessions, 2005 – Temptation, 2007 – Six String Santa, 2007 – Grand Central, 2009 – Blues for You and 2011 – The Three Kings.

In June 2011, Golub became blind due to collapse of the optic nerve.

Jeff Golub published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Paul Brown – Brown Sugar

With the crisp, jazzy sound of his beloved Gibson L-5 guitar once again front and center, two-time Grammy Award winner Paul Brown keeps his grooving momentum going. Quickly closing in on a staggering 50 #1 charting airplay hits as the smooth jazz genre’s top producer over the past 15 years, Brown had the unique experience in 2006 of scoring #1 Radio & Records chart hits as both an artist and producer. “Winelight,” the second single from his 2005 solo album The City, was recently ranked by Mediabase as the genre’s most spun track of the year. Brown also had chart topping hits with Norman Brown (“Up And At ‘Em”), Euge Groove (“Get ‘Em Goin’”) and Peter White (“What Does It Take (To Win Your Love).”

“I liked the idea of creating more of a production oriented record and taking more of the classic Quincy Jones approach,” Brown adds. “The key to his success was being so seamless that you don’t pick up what he’s doing because you’re more focused on the performances. Because of my past experiences with everyone, I could just take for granted that a certain high level of performance would be built in, and I could feature my guitar lines over that. It’s kind of like making a lot of mini-records within the context of a single project. It was also exciting for me to have the album mastered by the legendary Lee Hershberg, who was one of my top musical mentors.”

While Brown is always assured an elevated creative experience jamming with the veteran household name artists, he’s constantly on the lookout for fresh new performers to work with. None have been a bigger part of Brown’s life this past year than upstart female sax player Jessy J, who is a member of his live band and is featured here on the sexy, late night, acoustic guitar driven opening title track “White Sand”; she also plays lead tenor on the instrumental bonus version of “Mercy Mercy Mercy”. Another relative newcomer featured on White Sand is Lina, a singer Brown enthusiastically compares to Billie Holliday; Lina’s torchy, soulful vocals bring a fresh emotional urgency to Brown’s samba-lite take on “I Say A Little Prayer.” Keyboardist and drum programmer DC, co-producer of Brown’s The City, also co-produced three tracks on White Sand: the ambient, hip-hop driven slow jam “The Rhythm Method”; “More or Les Paul,” and “Mr. Cool.”

Brown is also currently working on developing the musical career of Hawaii based painter and guitarist Andrea Razzauti, whose compelling visual work “White Sand” inspired Brown to write the title track; after Brown let Razzauti hear the song, Razzauti was in turn inspired to create the very tropical album cover artwork. There is also a larger, separate print of the cover included in the packaging. “The connection between visual art and music is a cool concept to me, and I was only too happy to blend the two on this project,” Brown says.

It’s hard to imagine what smooth jazz would sound like without the powerful, R&B driven sound that has been Brown’s trademark as a producer since breaking through with Boney James’ Trust in 1992. James, whose hit recordings routinely sell over 500,000 apiece, once said, “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Paul Brown.” In an interesting bit of trivia that ties in beautifully with the sessions on White Sand, Brown met James years ago when James was on tour with Bobby Caldwell and Brown was doing mixes for the singer’s live shows.

In addition to Grammy wins as producer and engineer for Norman Brown’s Just Chillin’ and helming hits for instrumental and vocal stars like Jeffery Osborne, Kirk Whalum, Larry Carlton and Patti Austin, Brown—known by some as “The Babyface of Smooth Jazz” for his soulful leanings and Midas touch—achieved a lifelong dream when he produced tracks for George Benson, his chief jazz guitar influence.

“It’s exciting that I was able to produce George Benson because it was his album Breezin’ that helped me realize that the guitar could be the focus of an entire album and could hold a person’s interest for 40 minutes or an hour. That was a big revelation back then.”

With Brown’s production career in overdrive for years and his solo career scaling new heights by the minute, it would seem that he’s working on music literally “24/7” (the name of his hit single from Up Front that Radio & Records named the #2 airplay cut of 2004). But he cherishes his down time, indulging in two major hobbies that he’s almost equally passionate about and allow him some creative rejuvenating time away from the studio. Trumpet great Jerry Hey introduced him to the fine art of wine collecting, and Brown has quickly become a great French wine connoisseur, favoring French Burgundy. He’s also a major poker enthusiast who plays with well-known friends on a weekly basis and participates regularly in major tournaments throughout his hometown of Los Angeles.

“It’s one of those diversions that takes my mind off music entirely,” he says. “I was a math major and it is a total mind game that uses those analytical abilities. There’s a tremendous fad going around Los Angeles with a lot of Hollywood people engaged in celebrity poker tournaments.

Born and raised in LA to parents who were professional singers for legends like Mel Torme (as part of The Meltones), Frank Sinatra, Elvis and Barbara Streisand, Brown started playing drums at age five and picked up his first guitar two years later. A self-proclaimed Deadhead who was also fond of The Beatles and later, Peter Gabriel, Brown jokes that he was always starting, playing in or breaking up a band. He launched his production career unofficially with his first gig as an assistant engineer when he was 15, finding an immediate affinity for an environment that quickly became home when he returned to LA after studying music and math at the University of Oregon.

“The reason I got into this business was to play the guitar and perform live,” says Brown. “As much success as I’ve had as a producer, I’ve always seen that as part of my evolution as a professional to get to this point. Making music is simple to me. When something moves me emotionally, then I know it’s good. That’s why I’ve worked this past year in between bigger projects with so many unsigned acts. Everything I do, from the albums I produce for established artists to those I do for up and coming performers to my own projects, is creatively stimulating to me. I love doing them all.”

Paul Brown published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Joyce Cooling – Staying Cool

Since her arrival in the San Francisco Bay Area Joyce Cooling was always infected by music. But it was Wes Montgomery’s solo on If You Could See Me Now which Joyce turned to the guitar. Her contact to Jay Wagner, a keyboardist on San Francisco’s Brazilian circuit, gave her the impetus and energy to start her solo career. Her first album was Cameo (1990), a Brazilian-oriented music under the strong influence of her partner and musician Jay Wagner.

Her breakthrough was her Heads Up International debut Playing It Cool (1997), presenting a mixture of Latin and smooth jazz. The title song reached #1 on the Gavin Report and was the foundation for her great fan community. Based on a frequent appearance on numerous gigs and festivals her next album Keeping Cool (1999) could extend her popularity and success. Still on the heights of charts followed her albums Third Wish (2001-GRP), This Girl Got To Play (2004) and Revolving Door (2006-Narada Jazz), musically anchored in the smooth jazz genre.

Released from any label contract in the absolute weightlessness of independence Joyce finds back to her roots on her latest album Global Cooling (2009). All songs on the new album are written and arranged by Joyce and her longtime friend Jay Wagner. Joyce expresses her excitement: “Global Cooling is like taking a transcontinental flight, touching down in fun, exciting and beautiful places. We were inspired to travel into uncharted territory, so we really stretched ourselves to get our passports in order! We played with a lot of new instruments and layered Tablas, congas, bongos, sitar, berimbau and even accordion over funk, rock and jazz. It was a trip.”

Currently Joyce is studying music and somehow we all are waiting for her new album, she intended to record soon.

Joyce Cooling published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Jonathan Butler – So Strong

Jonathan Butler grew up in the townships of South Africa, the youngest of 12 children. He started singing and playing guitar at age seven. Even before he reached age ten, he traveled cross-country performing in villages with a 100-member troupe making money to help support his family. The audiences would vary from poverty-ravaged black townships to opulent halls open only to whites. Traveling accommodations were dismal and atrocious. In his travels, the young entertainer could neither comprehend the extreme destitute nor the harsh treatment he endured and bared witness to under the reign of Apartheid. Afrikaans was his native tongue, but he learned English in his travels.

After signing his first record deal as a teenager with British record producer Clive Caulder’s Jive Records, Butler’s premier single became the first by a black artist to be played on white radio stations in South Africa. The single won a Sarie Award, which is the South African equivalent to a Grammy award. Butler called England home for 17 years. His self-titled debut album put him on the map internationally and garnered two Grammy nominations: one for the R&B-pop vocal statement “Lies” and the other for a poignant instrumental, “Going Home.”

Butler’s albums and worldwide concert tours have afforded him fame and a lifestyle far from what he ever could have imagined as a child performer, but more importantly, it brought him the freedom to follow his passion – music – on his own terms. Residing with his family in the verdant hills of Southern California for more than a decade, an area that he says reminds him of his homeland, Butler remains humble and grateful.

Jonathan Butler published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Brian Culbertson – Trumpet

Brian Culbertson is the wonder boy of smooth jazz. Sure, he has reached a decent age, but how he graces his music, that speaks for the energy of his youth. He plays with music like formats never existed. With eleven albums Long Night Out (1994), Modern Life (1995), After Hours (1996), Secrets (1997), Somethin’ Bout Love (1999), Nice & Slow (2001), Come On Up (2003), It’s On Tonight (2005), A Soulful Christmas (2006), Bringing Back the Funk (2008) and Live From The Inside (2009) he won a respectable place in the smooth jazz community. Where Brian is, you find the groove.

His latest album is called XII (2010) and was released in July 20, 2010. On his well-designed website you will find a lot of information about this album. Brian is also a friend of social networks like twitter, myspace and facebook and documented the recording in many video-blogs. So his fans are best informed about the making of this brilliant album.

But wait! Brian is already releasing his next album called Dreams on June 12, 2012. The new album is packed with brand new songs from Brian, and Brian brought in guest vocalists Vivian Green, Noel Gourdin and Stokley Williams of Mint Condition to masterfully mix jazz with some R&B flair! Listen to snippets at Brian’s website or at soundcloud.

Brian Culbertson – Trumpet published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Candy Dulfer – Candy Sax

Candy Dulfer has been on the fast track since she first picked up the saxophone in 1975 at the tender age of six. Thirty years later, the ride has yet to slow down.

Born in Holland in 1969, Dulfer was raised in a musical family. Her father, Hans Dulfer, was a well-known Dutch saxophonist who founded the Bimhaus, the famous jazz club that was originally subsidized by the government as a means to promote the arts. Ironically, Hans was ousted from the original organization for embracing styles outside the strict confines of traditional jazz. Seeing her father ostracized from the very same jazz community that he’d helped establish had a profound effect on young Candy.

“Back then, even as a young girl, I felt betrayed by the Dutch jazz scene,” she recalls. “I decided that I was going to do things my own way. I decided I would play R&B, pop, and whatever else moved me, and then decide later on where all the jazz that I had heard as a child would fit into what I was doing. I really never played straightahead gigs. I thought it was very purist and confining.”

By 14, she had assembled her own band, Funky Stuff (the name alone should offer some clue to her rebellion against the stifling parameters of traditional jazz). The musical unit was still intact five years later when she recorded Saxuality, her solo debut album, in 1988. Released in 1990, Saxuality sold more than a million copies worldwide and scored a GRAMMY nomination. The massive success of the album prompted world touring for Dulfer and Funky Stuff beginning in the early ’90s. More than 15 years and ten solo albums later – not to mention numerous guest appearances on albums by other artists – the globe-trotting itinerary has yet to stop.

Along the way, Dulfer has made scores of friends in high places. She appeared in Prince’s “Partyman” video in 1990, and played with him on the Graffiti Bridge soundtrack released that same year. She has toured with him frequently since the late ’90s, most recently on his Musicology tour in 2004. She also played on his 2006 release, 3121.

Other collaborative partners over the years have included Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), Maceo Parker, Van Morrison, David Sanborn, Beyonce, Pink Floyd, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Blondie, Joey DeFrancesco and many others. Clearly, this is an artist who will not be hampered by the typical constraints of one genre or style over another.

“I think one of the reasons why my career has gone so well, and continues to go well after all these years,” says Dulfer, “is because I make this really strange mix of all the music I grew up with, even if it doesn’t always make sense. I’m not afraid to put jazz and R&B and house music into what I’m doing. For some people, this sounds crazy, but most people just like it.”

Dulfer brings this melting-pot approach to Candy Store, her debut on Heads Up International. The album is a churning confection of R&B, pop, funk, hip-hop, Latin and more – an all-inclusive formula that’s consistent with her career-long philosophy of weaving a diversity of styles to craft high-energy, positive music.

“Aside from my father, I was one of the first musicians in Holland to really just go for it and say, ‘Whatever,'” says Dulfer. “I’ll never play the American forms of music as well as the Americans, because they invented it. But what I can do is take it and combine it with what I know from my own culture and my own background, and then make the music that I think would be the most fun.”

Candy Dulfer published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

The Smooth Jazz Calendar

You join the Smooth Jazz Community on various events and concerts? Didn’t you want to see your favourite Smooth Jazz Artists the year around? Now you can with the brand new

SMOOTH JAZZ CALENDAR 2012

The producers are like you Smooth Jazz Lovers and want to share those magic moments with this calendar full of excellent and stunning pictures in highest quality. Just order today – The Smooth Jazz Calender 2012 will soon be available at exclusive events or directly online. Just use our online shop and order your copy of the SMOOTH JAZZ CALENDAR today.

Enjoy Smooth jazz visually. For more information visit this website.

Stan Sargeant – Hot Jazz

Degreed in molecular biology from Howard University, his science origins and passion for music translated brilliantly to music theory and practical application.

Stan Sargeant relocated from Washington DC to LA in 1991. There he met famed blues guitarist Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson. The unfolding of his dream had begun.

Though well-known as a bassist in the Los Angeles area, Stan’s reputation spans both US and international markets. Following several years of touring in Europe, Stan performed with pop singer Jody Watley on the Arseneo Hall Show in 1994. He remained with Jody Watley for two years.

By 1998, Stan’s resume of performances and tours would feature an enviable cast of world-class artists: Keiko Matsui, Bobby Caldwell, Patti Austin, Dolly Parton, Dianne Caroll, The Jazz Crusaders, Vanessa Williams, Suzanne Sommers, Peggy Lee, Lou Bega, Next, Montel Jordan, Jonathan Butler, Rick Braun, Oleta Adams, Richard Elliott, Paul Jackson Jr., Peter White, Barry Manilow, and many others.

In 1998, Stan worked as the in-house bassist on the Howie Mandel Show. On the show, he met Kevin Eubanks and ‘Smitty’ Smith. When the Howie Mandel Show ended a year later, he was picked up again by Barry Manilow.

In March 2002, Stan accepted a position as the in-house bassist on the Tonight Show.

Stan Sargeant is composing songs for Mindy Abair, David Benoit and several other upcoming artists. Currently, Stan is touring with Al Jarreau.

Stan Sargeant – Hot Jazz published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Kenny Loggins – Eyes

Kenny Loggins was born in Everett, Washington, and moved to the Los Angeles area as a young boy. After a short and, in retrospect, rather surprising stint as a guitarist for The Electric Prunes, Loggins scored a job as a $100-a-week staff songwriter and penned four songs on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s 1970 album Uncle Charlie and His Dog Teddy, among them the classic “House at Pooh Corner.” Around this same time, Loggins caught the attention of former Buffalo Springfield producer and Poco member Jim Messina, then working as staff producer at CBS. Originally, Loggins set out to record his solo debut with Messina behind the boards as his producer. As work progressed, Messina’s involvement increased and the album subsequently emerged in 1972 as Kenny Loggins with Jim Messina Sittin’ In – a gem that featured Loggins’ future standards “Danny’s Song” and “House At Pooh Corner” and quickly established this accidental duo as one of significant recording and touring acts of the 70s.

When Loggins & Messina split up in 1976, Loggins wasted no time in achieving solo stardom with such million-selling solo albums as Celebrate Me Home, Nightwatch (which included the hit “Whenever I Call You Friend” with Stevie Nicks), Keep The Fire (“This Is It,”) and 1982’s High Adventure (“Don’t Fight It” with Steve Perry and “Heart To Heart”). These albums saw Loggins expanding his musical range, impressively exploring new textures of jazz, rock and pop with ambitious production. Loggins’ reputation as one of music’s outstanding vocalists was becoming well established, and in 1980 he won the Best Male Pop Vocal Grammy for “This Is It.” As a songwriter too, Loggins continued to grow, a fact evidenced by his many inspired collaborations such as co-writing the 1979 Grammy-winning Song of The Year “What A Fool Believes” with his long-time friend Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers.

In the 80s, Loggins became more famous than ever as the king of the movie theme songs, thanks to massive smashes like “I’m Alright” (from Caddyshack), “Footloose” (from Footloose), “Danger Zone” (from Top Gun), and “Nobody’s Fool” (from Caddyshack II). Loggins also continued to record albums that were introspective and deeply personal, including 1985’s Vox Humana, 1988’s Back to Avalon, 1991’s Leap of Faith (featuring “Conviction of the Heart,” a song Al Gore called “the unofficial anthem of the environmental movement”), The Unimaginable Life (1997) and 2003’s It’s About Time. During this same period, Loggins continued to take on new challenges like recording a Christmas album (1998’s December) and two successful and acclaimed CDs for children: 1994’s radiant Return To Pooh Corner and its worthy follow-up, More Songs From Pooh Corner.

In 2005, Kenny Loggins reunited with his former partner, Jim Messina, to great surprise and considerable acclaim. As much personally as musically, the Sittin’ In Again tour allowed Loggins to rediscover an old friendship. It was so successful and inspiring that they took their show on the road once again in 2009.

Loggins finds himself doing again what he has always done — writing and playing his songs, digging deep and looking toward the next step.

Kenny Loggins – Eyes published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Norman Brown – Chillin’ Guitar

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Brown first picked up a guitar at the age of 8. First inspired by Jimi Hendrix, it was his father’s preference for the sound of Wes Montgomery that set Brown on his stylistic journey. After high school, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his musical career, attending the Musicians Institute where he also taught for a time. While playing with his own group in local clubs, and drawing comparisons to George Benson, Brown was discovered and signed to the fledgling MoJazz label, a division of Motown. He delivered his debut, Just Between Us, and followed with the gold-certified After The Storm and Better Days Ahead.

With critical acclaim and sales behind him, the talented musician made the leap to Warner Bros. and released Celebration, which first teamed him with producer Paul Brown. The follow-up, Just Chillin’, earned Brown much-deserved Grammy recognition in the best pop instrumental category. That project was followed by his release West Coast Coolin‘, where Brown tested out his skills as a vocalist, a move that was embraced by the urban AC radio market and found him topping the charts.

With changes at the Warner Bros. label, Brown was looking to make a change. The Peak Records label, a joint venture with the Concord Music Group, stepped in. Initially concerned that the strides he’d made in the urban market might be discouraged, Brown says that, “Peak was totally in harmony with that artistically. That was the biggest part of the transition for me. I wanted to continue to be Norman Brown and do my jazz and instrumental music, but, at Warner Bros. I had broke through to the urban audience and want to keep reaching out to those fans as well.”

Brown’s audience has been expanding over the years. His compilation The Very Best Of Norman Brown was one of the best-selling smooth jazz albums of 2005 and 2006. Just this January, Brown’s engaging personality led Broadcast Architecture to tap him for its fledgling Smooth Jazz Network as an on-air personality, hosting the 2 to 7 p.m. shifts on Saturdays and Sundays. Moving forward, Brown has already cemented his tour plans, with solo dates this spring and a roster of very special guests for the 2007 edition of his popular Norman Brown’s Summer Storm tour: superstar vocalist and Peak Records label mate Peabo Bryson, saxophonist Marion Meadows and legendary keyboardist Jeff Lorber.

Armed with the knowledge of who he is as an artist, Brown says he spent just four months in the studio making Stay With Me — his shortest recording time on a project ever. Brown adds, “I’m giving fans exactly what they fell in love with me for: The exciting playing, my lyrical writing, my production as well as my new growth as a singer. So I think it’s complete, it’s a nice summary of where I am at this point.”

Norman Brown published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Gerald Veasley – Basically Bass

Born in Philadelphia, Gerald Veasley has a varied and impressive resume’ that includes recording and/or stints with Joe Zawinul of Weather Report, his longtime friend and mentor, the late Grover Washington Jr., McCoy Tyner, The Dixie Hummingbirds, Odean Pope, Special EFX, Joe McBride, Teddy Pendergrass, Phil Perry, Chieli Minucci, Dianne Reeves, George Howard, Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire, Kenny Blake, Pamela Williams, Eric Marienthal, Onaje Alan Gumbs, Omar Hakim, and many more. He has shared stages and tours with Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. Gerald was recently named “Best Electric Bassist” in Jazziz magazine’s annual readers’ poll and Philadelphia Magazine named him Best Jazz Band. Veasley was nominated and voted as President of the Philadelphia charter of NARAS “The Grammy People” and is credited by author Allan Slutsky as a key contributor to his classis book/CD set, “Standing In The Shadows Of Mo-Town – The Life and Music Of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson”.

He started playing the bass at age twelve and recalls learning a great deal from in-home jam sessions with friends of his musically inclined parents. He was inspired by his parents’ hard work and sacrifices as they gave him a good stable home life and appreciation of education. As an outstanding academic high school graduate he earned a complete four year full academic scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania. During his third year, Veasley lost his father. To deal with the loss, he focused on music, listening to records featuring Charles Mingus, Wes Montgomery, Grand Green and Ron Carter. These all-night affairs would also include Veasley teaching himself how to improvise, transcribe solos and studying chord progressions. Veasley took up studying classical guitar to expand his range as a musician.

“There were several factors which led me to choose music as a profession,” he says. “Basically, it always moved me emotionally and offered me a way to express things I couldn’t find words for. When my father died, I had a hard time coming to grips with the trauma, and music proved very therapeutic.”
The mostly high-profile sideman gigs came in rapid succession for Gerald starting in the early Eighties. Depending on who he was hooked up with, he displayed a starting affinity for all sorts of styles. He played avant-garde music with saxophonist Odean Pope, did orchestra dates with the flutist Leslie Burrs, and joined violinist John Blake’s group for a U.S. tour and three albums on Gramavision.

In 1988, Gerald showed his fusion side as part of the Zawinul Syndicate, and through the years since, he has been affiliated with a wide array of distinctive players – Larry Coryell, Khan Jamal, Eric Kloss, Pat Martino, Charlie Rouse, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, McCoy Tyner, label mate Joe McBride, Special EFX and pieces of A Dream.

Gerald’s resume also boasts numerous other accolades. He was voted “Talent Deserving Wider Recognition” in every Downbeat critics’ poll from 1983 through 1992. He was most recently named “Best Bassist” in Jazziz magazine’s 1999 annual readers poll. He has also taught the history and fundamentals of the electric bass to musicians and educators, both privately and at the university level. He has been artist in residence at the Artist-Teachers institute of Stockton State College; guest lecturer at Dartmouth; instructor at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts; and video instructor on “Solo Bass Techniques” released by CCP Baldwin.

While still doing the occasional sideman date, Gerald’s present focus is on building the audience for his own band both in Europe and Stateside, “creating more and better music, reaching more people and giving my band its own identity.” All signs indicate that Gerald will be one of the most popular and revered bassist/composers, as well as instrumental recording artists, of the millennium and beyond.

Gerald Veasley published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Jean-Marie Poisson – Macys Jazz

Jean-Marie Poisson is conceptually bold and creative. His work depicts “In your face” types of imagery, showing little, but powerfully getting the message across. He spent a number of years as an art director working at many of the leading ad agencies in the Northeast.

His attention grabbing advertising has been recognized by his peers and has won numerous awards:

• Clio                                             • Caples                    • Andy

• One Show                      • ECHO                  • Champion Papers

• Art Directors’ Club               • Creativity               • Stan Winston

His father Louverture Poisson, a highly renowned artist from Haiti recognized his potential and encouraged him to pursue that talent. After many years, he finally decided to do just that.

Jean-Marie has carried that same boldness from the ad world into his fine art and is beginning to get noticed.

You can check out his work on: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/jeanmarie-poisson.html.

Smooth Jazz And Wine – Pasos Vineyards

Specializing in Mediterranean and Bordeaux style wines that reflect the taste, passion and vision of wine maker and owner Antonio Pasos… and lots of fun!  The Pasos Vineyards Winery is located in the Vino Piazza Wine Village. A regional destination wine center that is home to 6 boutique wineries.

Their winery features a huge Red Barrel Room, a Galley Kitchen, Production Facilities, Private Dinning Room with view, Special Loft Art Studio and Gallery, Courtyard and a beautiful Tasting Room. Wine maker Antonio Pasos is often in the tasting room sharing his wine making techniques and visiting with guests; while our friendly staff always has a smile to share and wine information to help you pick out the best bottle of wine. Come visit us and enjoy our fun and relaxing tasting room today.

One of the attractions of Pasos Vineyards is their resident artist and writer, David Jon Foster. Not only is he a prominent and talented artist, he is responsible for the beautiful artwork labeling displayed on each and every bottle produced by Pasos Vineyards. The entire tasting room is a virtual art gallery of Foster’s work.

Pasos Vineyards features the coolest music in their tasting room including Smooth Jazz,  Spanish Classical, World, Reggae, Rock and more. They also pride themselves in finding the best original musical talent to feature at their concerts and special events.

Their resident music man is the great Levi Huffman. Levi is a world class musician who plays his own original ethereal Jazz compositions. Levi also mixes in acoustic classic rock and blues for a solo performance loved by all. See him at Festive Fridays April to Sept. Visit his website at www.levihuffman.com.

Travis Vega is an emerging Smooth Jazz artist and composer that puts on a fun and lively show. Travis performs several concerts every year in the Pasos Courtyard and Red Barrel Room. You can hear his music on Smooth Jazz 105.5 “The River”. Visit his website at www.travisvega.com.

The Smooth Jazz master Ray Iaea consistently puts together 2, 3 or 4 piece ensembles,that features accomplished musicians such as Alex Dedal, Beth Iaea,Levi Huffman, Mike Noche and others. His is a classic Smooth Jazz performance that everyone one will enjoy. Visit his website at www.rayiaea.com.

Further musicians performing at this venue are Ivan Najera, Dennis Sebastian, Mario Sebastian, and Tayler & Mallery.

Open from 11:00-5:30 on Fridays and 11:00-6:00 on Saturday & Sunday

Pasos Vineyards at Vino Piazza, Suite 268, 12470 Locke Rd. Lockeford CA 95237

Dianne Parks – Jazz’n In The Alley

Dianne Parks was born and raised in New Orleans and still live in the New Orleans area, across Lake Pontchartrain, on the North Shore of the lake. She received her art education at McCrady School of Fine Art in the French Quarter and has been an artist for over 30 years. Her paintings are in collections throughout the United States and abroad. She paints in oil and acrylic on canvas, with emphasis on the vibrancy, color and light of southern Louisiana.

As she paints, her mind is filled with the feel of the streets or the taste of their food – the sounds, smells and ‘vibrations’ of the scene in her painting. She attempts to convey these emotions through her painting. Her hope is that as you look at the painting through the years, you not only remember the scene, you still feel it!

Dianne is a member of the St. Tammany Art Association, Art for Madisonville Association, the Arts Council of New Orleans and New Orleans Art Association. Although she has lived in many places in the U.S. and abroad, there is no place she would rather be than there, in south Louisiana, painting her wonderful home town, the outlying swamps and bayous, and its incomparable food!

If you are interested in an original, please visit her personal website: www.DianneParksArt.com. Prints of her paintings are available at http://dianne-parks.artistwebsites.com/index.html.

Chris Botti – Trumpet in Blue

Chris Botti is an American trumpeter and composer. In 2007, Botti was nominated for two Grammy Awards including Best Pop Instrumental Album. On December 4, 2009, he was nominated for three more Grammy Awards including Best Pop Instrumental Album and Best Long Form Music Video. Three of his albums have reached the #1 position on the Billboard jazz albums chart.

His famous muted trumpet is the same model that was once used by Miles Davis. He plays a Martin Committee trumpet made 1940 Handicraft and a mouthpiece from Bach made in 1921 Mt Vincent Bach Corp 3C. He has performed with artists such as Sting, Paul Simon, Josh Groban, Dave Koz, Jeff Lorber, Jill Scott, Michael Bublé and Brian Culbertson.

Coming to prominence with the 2001 recording of his Night Sessions CD, Botti established a reputation as a versatile musician in both jazz and pop music for his ability to fuse both styles together.

Chris Botti published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Bo Woody Winter – Esperanza

Bo Woody Winter‘s work is inspired by jazz and jazz musicians. It’s only naturally that his paintings are often to see on exhibitions during jazz festivals like for example the North Sea Jazz Art 2011  during the North Sea Jazz Festival 2011. Hailing from Rotterdam Bo currently lives in Ibiza, Islas Baleares, Spain. He studied Visual Art – Painting at the Academy of Art in Rotterdam.

His works can be seen at Facebook and at this website.  Also visit Bo’s own blog.

Phil Perry – Laugh

Phil Perry (born in Springfield, IL on January 12, 1952) is an American R&B singer, songwriter, musician and a former member of the soul group The Montclairs from 1971 to 1975.

Born and raised in East St. Louis, Phil Perry has spent most of his career as one of the most sought-after backing vocalists in the music business. His bright, multi-octave range has played a supporting role on dozens of albums by such acts as Anita Baker, Boz Scaggs, Rod Stewart, Peabo Bryson and George Duke. But he has also distinguished himself through a series of strong solo albums that have highlighted both his ability to interpret classic soul songs as well as his own songwriting skills.

Perry first came to the attention of Soul Music fans as the lead singer of the Montclairs, whose “Begging’s Hard to Do” was a moderate hit in 1972. In 1985 he married soul/jazz singer Lillian “Tang” Tynes, and began a marriage partnership that has lasted ever since. After a brief stint as part of the singing duo Perry and Sanlin, Perry went solo in 1991 with The Heart of a Man, an album most notable for Perry’s sheer guts (or some thought audacity) in releasing as a single a remake of Aretha Franklin’s “Call Me.” It was a real coming out for Perry, as he ripped through the song in bold fashion, even surpassing Aretha’s revered original version.

His follow-up album, 1994’s Pure Pleasure, was perhaps his best, and included fantastic remakes of “After the Love is Gone” and “If Only You Knew” and a seven minute cover of the Spinners’ “Love Don’t Love Nobody” that was sheer magic. During the 90s, Perry also received increased coverage on Smooth Jazz radio through his guest work on albums by Lee Ritenour, the Rippingtons and others, and inspired Windham Hill subsidiary Private Music to sign Perry, along with Barry White and Peabo Bryson, in an attempt to become the major label in the confluence of the Urban Adult Contemporary and Smooth Jazz formats.

His Private Music debut, One Heart One Love, was aimed straight at the Smooth Jazz market and hit the top five on the back of its killer title track, despite being perhaps his weakest album. His follow-up album, My Book of Love, received less attention, but was a far stronger album. Book was also the album on which Perry began to take a more active role in songwriting and production, putting his personal imprint beyond the vocal performance. This led to his lead songwriting role on 2001’s Magic, an excellent album on Peak Records that showed Perry in complete control over his music.

In 2005, Perry signed with New Jersey-based Shanachie Records and issued two albums of classic soul covers. Each disc was well received by Perry’s audience, with the second disc, A Mighty Love, earning for him the 2007 SoulTracks Readers’ Choice Award for Male Vocalist of the Year. He parlayed the success of those two albums into a new album of original material, Ready for Love, released in August 2008. Perry recorded the disc with veteran producer Chris “Big Dog” Davis, who helmed the previous two Shanachie Releases. It was an excellent return to form that again revealed Perry’s often underrated ability as a songwriter.

In 2009, Perry teamed up with another soul veteran, Melba Moore, and released The Gift of Love, an album of new songs and covers that was well received by both his audience and by critics. It won another SoulTracks Readers’ Choice Award for best performance by a duo or group.

If ever an artist’s catalog has screamed for a solid compilation – both from his solo albums and from his guest work – it is Phil Perry. However, this seems unlikely given the number of labels and artists that would be involved. And while the material and production on his albums have, at times, been uneven, his marvelous voice has made every disc a keeper, and should keep him in demand as a vocalist for years to come.

by Chris Rizik

Phil Perry – Laugh published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Reggie Duffie – Simply Miles

Reggie Duffie of Duffie and Duffie Visual Designs, creates custom artwork and portraits, and can create a custom portrait from your photo. Most of his recent artwork and design is created digitally, combining years of traditional art techniques with the ever-expanding capabilities of digital painting. These detailed digital paintings are all originals, created by the artist’s hand from scratch using a simple track ball mouse as a virtual paint brush and the computer screen as a virtual canvas.

No pre-drawing or line drawing, no tracing or digital manupulation, no altering of scanned or digital photographs or images and no using filters – this is real digital painting, bar none! Because each print is made from the original digital file, each print should be considered an original piece of art, not a copy. Digital Images are available in any size canvas or glossy print, signed and numbered by artist.

For any information or specific requests or sizes please contact artist —- Reggie is also a gifted versatile multi-medium artist specializing in traditional and conventional art work ranging from oil on canvas, water color, pencil drawings, and pastels. When it come to graphic art, Duffie and Duffie Visual Designs is a one stop shop.
Duffie and Duffie Visual Design at duffieandduffieart.com.

David Benoit – Professional Dreamer

Since launching his recording career in 1977, David Benoit’s expansive career as a contemporary jazz pianist has included over 25 solo recordings. His ‘80s releases This Side Up, Freedom at Midnight and the GRAMMY nominated Every Step of the Way are considered influential genre classics. Among his other Grammy nominations are those for Best Instrumental Composition (for “Dad’s Room,” from 1999’s Professional Dreamer) and Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance (for the GRP All-Star Big Band).

His prolific output since 2000 includes several prominent Charlie Brown related projects (including Here’s To You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years and the star-studded 40 Years: A Charlie Brown Christmas) that reflect his lifelong passion for the music of original Peanuts composer Vince Guaraldi and solidify Benoit’s role as his musical heir. Benoit has also released the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charting albums Fuzzy Logic, Right Here, Right Now, Full Circle and Heroes, which paid homage to the pianist’s top jazz and pop influences.

Benoit’s ever expanding slate of orchestral music endeavors include his ongoing role as conductor of the Asia America Symphony Orchestra and leading such eminent orchestras as the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the symphonies of London, Nuremberg, San Francisco, Atlanta, San Antonio and San Jose. Concurrent with his burgeoning career as a conductor, he recorded 1996’s American Landscape with The London Symphony Orchestra and 2005’s Orchestral Stories with members of the Asia America Symphony Orchestra and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. Orchestral Stories featured his first piano concerto “The Centaur and the Sphinx” and his acclaimed symphonic piece “Kobe,” both of which he has performed in live settings across the country.

In 2009, Benoit performed and conducted Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” with the Asia America Symphony Orchestra in a show that included Broadway great Lea Salonga; he later conducted Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the same orchestra in his critically acclaimed debut at Los Angeles’ Disney Hall.

Benoit’s notable film scores include The Stars Fell on Henrietta, produced by Clint Eastwood and starring Robert Duvall; and The Christmas Tree, produced by Sally Field, voted Best Score of 1996 by Film Score Magazine. Benoit has also been a longtime guest educator with the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, winning the organization’s “excellence in music education” award in 2001.

David Benoit published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Brad Cooper – Add Ice

Brad Cooper is a Phoenix based painter and illustrator. His passion for multi-cultural, traditional and folk art drives him to immerse himself into the roots of a variety of International artistic mediums and styles.

His most recent discoveries have focused him on the early nineteen hundreds jazz scene that birthed out of the sub-culture night life of New Orleans and parts of the Caribbean. After several ventures to the Gulf Coast, Brad began painting and illustrating passionately. His modern take, bright colors and vintage subject matter come together complimenting each element while maintaining longstanding traditions.

Brad’s choice of medium varies, depending on the subject matter and desired mood. Pattern and texture, intricate detail, and his affinity for craftsmanship pushes him to forge the best. For more information about this artist and his works visit http://cooperdesignstudio.com.

Rick Braun – Midnight Caller

Rick Braun’s been playing trumpet since he was a kid. No news there for the legions of fans his richly melodic playing style has attracted since the release of his first album, Intimate Secrets in 1993. Less known is the fact that he’s been a singer, and a good one (backing Rod Stewart and Sade among others, with vocals as well as his stellar trumpet) for most of his life, as well.

Rick Braun Sings With Strings brings both those skills front and center. And it does so in a way that dips back into the music he’s been captivated by since he first picked up a horn.

“This album,” says Rick, “feels a lot like coming home. I grew up hearing this music all around the house. Singing it, playing it. Listening to my mom, who was a singer and piano player. She was one of those people who knew every part of a song – the verse, the chorus, the refrain, all the lyrics.”

The album will no doubt produce similar comfort feelings for anyone with a love for song. And not just Great American Song. Because what Braun and producer/arranger Philippe Saisse have put together in this eminently listenable recording is a gathering of tunes unlimited by boundaries of origin or style. Some are familiar. Songs such as “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,” “I Thought About You” and “The Things We Did Last Summer” have been memorable themes from the soundtrack of American love life for decades. Rick also especially recalls, “I’ve Never Been In Love Before” and “Time After Time” as “tunes I’ve known since I was a kid.”

Others are less familiar, but no less memorable. “Once Upon A Summertime” is an English version of Michel Legrand’s gorgeous French song, “La Valse des Lilas”; “It’s Love” is from the musical Wonderful Town by the brilliant songwriting team of Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Leonard Bernstein; and “Say It (Over and Over Again)” was written by Loesser and Jimmy McHugh for a 1940 Jack Benny film titled Buck Benny Rides Again. Continue reading

Marc Antoine – Marc & Rebeca

Guitarist, composer and producer, Marc Antoine, was born in Paris (France) on the 28th of May 1963. His parents bought him his first guitar when he was 11 years old which quickly became his third arm. Marc has had a guitar in his hands ever since.

At age 13, his father saw such rapid progress that he sent him to the conservatory where he would study classical music. By then his mentors were Andres Segovia and John Williams.

At 17 he’d already won many prizes and started showing an interest in a variety of music genres including jazz, rock, Afro, pop, and more. At the same time he was playing in local bands in Britany (France).

Tragedy struck in the summer of 1981 when his debut career got cut short by a devastating accident to his left hand. The surgeon told him that his chances of playing guitar again were very slim and next to nothing. However, through the adversity, his love and passion for music helped him overcome this tragedy and in 1984 he was back on the scene in Paris, performing in clubs and recording for artists like Philippe Petit, Charlelie Couture, Jill Kaplan, France Gall, and Ray Lema.

In 1988 he moved to London where he joined Basia’s band and worked with The Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra, Soul to Soul, Pato Banton, and General Public. He was also part of the London Acid Jazz scene. His world tour travelling lead him to spend time in Tokyo where he became an acclaimed session player.

As a true citizen of the world, Marc kept moving, this time to Los Angeles in the late 90’s. He stayed there for 12 years playing for music royalty such as Sting, Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, Cher, Selena, Queen Latifah, George Benson, Guru Jazzmatazz, Take 6 and others. He composed and performed for major movie soundtracks: “Get Shorty”; “The Fan”; “Patch Adams”; “Midnight In The Garden Of Good and Evil”; “Demolition Man”; and “Celtic Pride”. He also worked with producers of the likes of Tommy LiPuma, Philippe Saisse, Marcus Miller, Mike Pela, Guy Roche and Stoker.

Most importantly, however, Marc began his successful solo career. His first album was “Classical Soul” NYC records 1994. Then came “Urban Gypsy” NYC 1995, “Madrid” GRP 1998, “Universal Language” GRP 2000, “Cruisin'” GRP 2001, “The Very Best of Marc Antoine” GRP 2002, “Mediterraneo” Rendezvous Entertainment 2003 and “Modern Times” Rendezvous Entertainment 2005. “Hi-Lo Split” Peak Records 2007 (Latin Billboard Nominated as Jazz Album of the Year) and “Foreign Xchange” Peak Records 2009

Marc’s career boasts many #1 hits on the R&R contemporary jazz charts, as well as topping the Billboard charts. In 1995, R&R elected him Best New Artist of The Year, which was followed by his Gavin Award in 1998. He has also received numerous nominations for jazz awards in the US and Canada.

Regularly touring with contemporary jazz artists like Dave Koz, Chris Botti, Jeff Lorber, Jeffrey Osborne, David Benoit, Larry Carlton and others, he also performs or records with Jazz Legends such as Peter Erskine, Jimmy Haslip, Mike Mainieri, Dave Valentin, Christian McBride, and Mark Egan to name a few. Marc was honoured when George Benson mentioned him as one of his favorite guitarists.

Marc currently resides in Madrid (Spain) where he writes and produces in his studio when he´s not giving concerts.

Marc & Rebeca published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Corey Barksdale – Dance Of Our Lives

Corey Barksdale was born in Nashville, Tennessee into a family of Artists. He was exposed to color and form at an early age by his grandmother a quilt artist, and his mother who was gifted with an intuitive feeling for design and a fastidiousness for detail which she expressed in all aspects of her daily life. This rich beginning is the root of Barksdale’s creative expression.

Barksdale earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree at the prestigious Atlanta College of Art in 1994. During this period he was heavily influenced by the abstract expressionists and admired such mainstream artists as Jasper Johns, Clifford Still, William deKooning. The African-American masters Aaron Douglas, John Biggers, Romere Bearden, and William Tolliver instilled in him a appreciation of African/American artistic heritage.

A prolific artist, his fine art subject matter ranges from human figures to non-objective abstracts. In recent years he has concentrated his talents on themes that portray the love and strength that exists within the African American community. His paintings grace the covers of books, magazines, CD covers, and posters. Among his convictions, is to give back to his community through art education.

For more information about the artist and his work visit his website.

Laurie Maves – Love for Jonathan Butler

Laurie Maves is a visual artist and live painter/performing artist based in Denver, Colorado.  She works as ‘green’ as she possibly can, by recycling canvases, paint, collage materials and whatever else she can get her hands on. She also provide various artist services such as portrait commissions, mural work and most recently table and bar tops. Her work historically has been influenced by Picasso and Gauguin and most definitely Modigliani, but more recently by Frida Kahlo and Basquiat.

Most of her work is figurative in nature, but her deepest focus has always been on color and texture. She uses materials that build up the surface of her canvases so that the color can jump out at the viewer. She paints figures, faces, eyes, orbs, moons, landscapes and poppies.  Her newest endeavor has been in the ‘fashion’ industry, by creating and selling one-of-a-kind hand-painted recycled handbags. These are great little art items which she aims to make affordable for everyone.

Please stop by her rockin’ studio located in Denver’s bustling Santa Fe Arts District, at Studio Shakta, 773 Santa Fe. Drive, Denver, CO 80204, USA or visit her website. Also read her interesting blog about this picture and the story behind it.

Boney James – He Has A Hat

Boney James dislikes labels and refuses any and all of them. “In fact, I have never thought of myself as a ‘jazz’ artist specifically,” he says.

Of course, this statement may serve as a source of confusion for the musician’s legion of fans that have scooped up over 3 million copies of his twelve albums (with eight of them going to No. 1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart). It also may seem contradictory to the respected opinions of music critics who consider him one of the most influential jazz artists of his generation. In 2010 Billboard Magazine named him “The No. 3 Top Contemporary Jazz Artist of the Decade.”

Even so, Boney James, who has four Gold albums, three Grammy® nominations, a Soul Train Award and an NAACP Award nomination to his credit, says, “I am just a saxophone player whose music has several different influences. Jazz is only one of them.”

His newest CD Contact — completely produced, arranged and co-written by James — is driven by the signature soulful grooves the world has come to expect from him, but with an added intensity. “I felt really inspired putting together the arrangements and producing the record,” he says. “There are a lot of things happening right now in modern music. The title, in one sense, refers to me reaching across genres and creating music that I believe is relevant and fresh.”

This incredibly accomplished artist — who broke into music in the mid-80s touring with acts such as The Isley Brothers, Morris Day (The Time), Randy Crawford and Teena Marie, and emerged as a solo force in 1992 with his breakthrough debut, Trust — has long been influenced by contemporary R&B.

Boney James  published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Dianne Russell – Mel Brown

Diane Russell was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. She began to paint while attending Portland State University, and studied illustration at Parsons School of Design in New York. After graduating she returned to Oregon, where she has lived and worked as a professional artist for over 30 years. Diane began her professional career as a fashion illustrator, and over time her art has evolved towards portraiture.

Many of her paintings reflect her passion for music and dance, as well as people from all walks of life. Her portraits capture more than a likeness, they bring to light the inner soul. Diane uses her own photos as reference; then goes beyond the photograph to bring the portrait to life on canvas. Diane paints with M. Graham oil paints, using only pure paint with a touch of linseed oil, which she applies in many thin layers to achieve the vibrant and translucent color in her paintings.

Clients include the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, the Blues Foundation, Pendleton Woolen Mills, and Palmer/Pletsch Publications. Her work appears on the 2005 W.C. Handy Blues Awards poster, CD and book covers, and in private and corporate collections across the country. Diane is a member of the Portrait Society of America, the Blues Foundation, the Cascade Blues Association, and the Jazz Society of Oregon.

This painting of Mel Brown was taken from one of Dianne’s photographs of his weekly performances at Salty’s and Jimmy Mak’s in Portland, Oregon. While well known in Oregon, Mel has played and traveled worldwide, including many years with Motown. He is an accomplished musician and teacher, and in recognition of his contributions to the cultural life of Oregon, he received the Governor’s Arts Award in 2002. Labeled the “Gentleman of Jazz”, his career has spanned over 40 years.

For more information about this artist and her work visit Dianne’s website.

Tom Pinch – Mindi Abair

Tom Pinch, also known as “The Time-Lapse Painter” due to the captivating time-lapse painting videos he makes of many of his paintings, is a professional gallery and commission artist and a native Southern Californian currently based in Temecula, CA.

Largely self-taught, Pinch has sought out and learned directly from his mentor Richard Schmid as well as with Morgan Weistling and several others – sometimes involving extensive travel from California to New York City, Washington D.C. and Putney, Vermont in order to do so.

As a representational artist, he has achieved a uniquely versatile style which he describes as “Painterly Realism.” Working in oils, he approaches each individual work of art from a fresh perspective. His paintings have been exhibited in collections throughout the world, including the United States Golf Association Museum in New Jersey. It is there where Pinch’s 40″x30″ portraits of both Tiger Woods and the late PGA Tour player Payne Stewart hang as two of only 35 carefully selected portraits in their exclusive permanent museum collection.

His impressive client list includes many corporate commissions as well as private commissions. His client list continues to grow along with the desire for his artwork. In 2006, he began creating fine art gallery works in order to reach a broader spectrum of collectors as well as to reach his full creative potential. Although still an active commission artist, his gallery paintings of subjects of his choosing has since become his main creative inspiration and focus.

The illustrated picture is available here. For more information about the artist visit this website.

Eric Darius – The Smooth Breeze

Eric Darius released his latest album and Shanachie Entertainment debut, On A Mission, in the summer of 2010. Danny Weiss, VP of Jazz A&R for Shanachie states, “If you think of jazz as a wonderful tree whose trunk is its great tradition and whose branches are the never ending innovations of its young disciples, then Eric Darius is the newest branch of that tree. He can swing like the masters and funk like a hip-hopper; truly the blossoming of tomorrow’s jazz.”

The seeds have been sown and Eric Darius unearths his talents not only as a saxophonist but equally important, as a composer and co-producer on On A Mission. The saxman ,who first started experimenting with writing at age thirteen, cites Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock as among his biggest compositional influences. Darius acknowledges that music has always been an outlet for him to express his emotions and experiences.

Hailing from a musical family (his father from Haiti and mother from Jamaica) and raised in Tampa where he still lives, Eric Darius realized his calling for music at an early age. “ I remember being nine and hearing a saxophonist play at my church. I instantly loved the sound…I remember being blown away by the soul and emotion of the instrument. It was as if I could almost hear the words and lyrics with each note being played…it was at that point that I fell in love with the instrument. The saxophone has a way of reaching people in a way that no other instrument does. It is the closest to the human voice.”

Eric Darius published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Gerald Albright – Funky Sax

One of the biggest stars of R&B, contemporary and straight-ahead jazz, Gerald Albright has earned his reputation as a “musician’s musician.” Born in Los Angeles, he began piano lessons at an early age. Albright’s love of music picked up considerably when he was given a saxophone that had belonged to his piano teacher. By the time he enrolled at the University of Redlands, he was already a polished saxophonist. Albright decided to switch to bass guitar after he saw Louis Johnson in concert. A few months after graduating from college, he joined jazz pianist/R&B singer Patrice Rushen, who was in the process of forming her own band. Later, when the bass player left in the middle of a tour, Albright replaced him and finished the tour on bass guitar.

During the ’80s, Albright became a highly requested session musician, playing on albums by a wide variety of artists – including Anita Baker, Ray Parker, Lola Folana, Atlantic Starr, Olivia Newton-John, the Temptations and Maurice White. He also toured extensively with Les McCann, Jeff Lorber, Teena Marie, the Winans, Marlena Shaw, Quincy Jones, and Whitney Houston, among many others. Albright also went on to record numerous successful solo albums for Atlantic Records. Two albums hit the number one slot on Billboard’s Top Contemporary Jazz Chart, and were nominated for GRAMMY® Awards in 1989 and 1990. Phil Collins asked him to front a Big Band in 1998, and they toured together. The two of them also recorded one of Albright’s tunes, “Chips N’ Salsa” on Collins’ Big Band Project, entitled A Hot Night In Paris. Later that year, Albright released Pleasures of the Night with Will Downing on Verve Forecast, which hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart as well.

Albright moved to GRP in 2002 for the Groovology album, and continued to maintain his busy schedule as a session man. His second GRP album, Kickin’ It Up, followed in 2004. Two years later, he signed with Peak Records, which released the 2008 GRAMMY® nominated New Beginnings, and the 2009 GRAMMY® nominated, Sax for Stax; both in the category of Best Pop Instrumental Album.

Over the years, Albright has appeared on numerous TV shows such as A Different World, Melrose Place and BET Jazz segments, as well as piloting a show in Las Vegas with Designing Women star Meshach Taylor. Albright was selected to be one of 10 saxophonists to play at President Clinton’s inauguration ceremony. Along the way, he has sold over a million albums in the U.S. alone and has appeared on nearly 200 albums by other artists.

Pushing the Envelope is easily Gerald Albright’s most rewarding session to date. “The title reflects all the tunes on the project,” Albright says. “I didn’t want to hold anything back. I really wanted to push the envelope and give people a little more edge. I come from the era where we didn’t think of a formula – we went from the gut.”

Gerald Albright published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Smooth Jazz Calendar 2012

The Original Smooth Jazz Calendar was first created by Sherry Fisher in 2005 for family & friends including artists & industry people is filled with photos of your favorite Smooth Jazz Artists from concerts throughout the year. Over the last several years calendar has been expanded a larger size and now measures 17”x22”, allowing to feature more performers than ever.

The artists this year will include all of your favorites! Peter White, Rick Braun, Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson, Richard Elliot, Mindi Abair, Jeff Golub, Michael Paulo, Spencer Day, Euge Groove, Craig Chaquico, Eric Darius, Jessy J, Norman Brown, Gerald Albright, Vincent Ingala, Trombone Shorty, Candy Dulfer, Acoustic Alchemy, Shilts, Jackiem Joyner, Keiko Matsui and more!

For more information about the calendar visit this website.

Bruni Sablan – Miles Eyes

Bruni Sablan was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil circa the mid-twentieth century. Artistry has been her heritage. Her father Joseph Parello, of Sicilian decent, a civil engineer and architect, also painted. Her mother, Clo Parello, of Lebanese decent, was an accomplished classical pianist and beloved piano instructor for many years in the Northern California bay area.

Bruni’s father introduced her to American jazz at a very early time in her life, she was five years old. She describes him as a “quiet soul” who loved the music of Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Artie Shaw, Louis Armstrong, June Christy, Sarah Vaughan, and many more. At the same time, her Sicilian grandfather, Caetano Parello, was teaching her how to “see” art… He was a sculptor/painter himself. When caught “correcting” an Italian masterpiece owned by the Parello family, the child received accolades from her father and grandfather, although she was properly reprimanded for interfering with a great work of art by the rest of the family….

Bruni grew up with art and music in her blood, and lived for a while in Los Angeles during a hazy, passionate time when the great Brazilian music masters had become prominent in the U.S.A. She sang and traveled with the likes of Joao Donato and Walter Wanderley. – But, painting is what kept her “sane” during those turbulent years. After ten years of marriage and a beautiful daughter, Kristina, -Now a singer, songwriter, and sculptor – Bruni immersed herself in the art and developed (over the last twenty-five years) what has become a legendary body of work, “The Jazz Masters Series by BRUNI.”

Today, as restless as ever, she continues her pursuit of painting “every great jazz musician who ever lived.” Some of her tributes, such as Miles Davis, encompass more than two hundred and eighty canvasses. She presently is working simultaneously on five bodies of work: the continuation of the Jazz Masters Series; a tribute to the great humanitarian Mother Teresa; a Tribute to Africa entitled “Africa: Look at Us”; a tribute to the legendary Brazilian musicians and composers, past and present; and her abstract still-life and figurative paintings.

Bruni is a highly spiritual being, and feels she connects with the souls of her subjects, which results in a tremendously fast, energetic, and sometimes aggressive venture. This can leave her in a state of complete exhaustion. But, her energy and inspiration seem to get replenished endlessly.

BRUNI Gallery is located in San Jose, California – 408-298-4700.

For more information about the artist and her works visit  www.BruniJazzArt.com.

Russ Harris – Floating Guitar

As a graphic designer, photographer and traditional artist Russ Harris has painted in acrylic, chalk, pen & ink, pencils and water colors and is now combining these elements to create and capture visual reality that a photographic moment does not completely capture.

As a fine-artist, Russ Harris adds the moment and expression that visually speaks a thousand words through the use of creating lights, textures traditional artist detail in brush stokes and combining fine detail with pencils, pen & ink and chalk. His artworks have been commissioned and acquired by private clients and is currently offered for sale worldwide. Russ’ lives and creates in the seaside community of La Jolla, California.

For more information about the artist and his work visit his website.

Nick Colionne – The Best Dressed Man In Jazz

Red-hot guitarist and vocalist Nick Colionne continues his blazing success into 2011. BET Jazz has described him as one of the most exceptional performers to come along in a long time. His CD Feel The Heat marks his debut on the prestigious Trippin n Rhythm label, and takes his unique combination of jazz, funk, R&B, blues and soul to new heights. Long known for his dynamic, musically eclectic “live” performances, Feel The Heat  demonstrates his dynamic command of the guitar, rich baritone vocals and varied music styles, all of which make this latest CD a reflection of why he is a true force when performing in concert. His long string of Top 10 hits from his six previous CDs is a testament to his musical talent… Feel The Heat  is destined to add to that list.

Nick was honored with the prestigious 2007 International Instrumental Artist of the Year Award at the Wave Jazz Awards, succeeding 2006 winner Chris Botti. He was nominated for this award again in 2009. He was nominated as Guitarist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year by the American Smooth Jazz Awards in 2010 and received the Wayman Tisdale Humanitarian Award for his ongoing commitment to mentoring children and his work in the community and nationally in support of breast cancer causes.Nick is frequently referred to as “the best dressed man in jazz”, and he enjoys an on-going endorsement from the men’s designer line Stacy Adams as well as longtime endorsements with Epiphone Guitars, Gibson Strings and Accessories and AKG Electronics.

The Chicago native learned to play guitar at 9 from his step-father, was a touring pro by 15 and as a teenager he honed his skills playing with R&B legends the Staples Singers, Curtis Mayfield, The Impressions, Natalie Cole and more. He worked with numerous successful groups before deciding to step out front and center and hasn’t looked back since.

Colionne has toured all over the world but his passion is mentoring children – he is in his 16th year of same at the St. Laurence K-8 School in suburban Elgin, IL. He has also developed a special music curriculum for the Florence B. Price Elementary School for the Performing Arts in Chicago. Nick’s charity work is on-going and generally quiet, but in 2009 he joined forces with Epiphone Guitars, Wine and Jazz Magazine and Tobin James Winery in a national campaign to benefit breast cancer research, and in 2010 he invited his sponsor Stacy Adams to participate in Suited Up For Success, a program with the Urban League of the Carolinas to benefit men re-entering the workforce. Stacy Adams has endowed “his” school, St. Laurence, with a music scholarship in his name to help needy students. He is the recipient of the Malcolm X College alumnus of the year award for his contributions to music and the community.

It’s no surprise that Nick Colionne’s sustained chart-topping radio history and his incredible live performances, infused with his unique and soulful styling of jazz, funk, R&B and blues along with his rich vocals and engaging stage personality, have made him a force to be reckoned with.

Nick Colionne published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Dan Haraga – Miles Davis Live

Dan Haraga is a professional American artist, who lives and works both in Hudson County, NJ and New York City, NY; he is gaining a fast reputation among art lovers and collectors worldwide, having an increasing number of sold original artworks and prints throughout United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and numerous artworks in several commercial art galleries in New York City and beyond.

On Fine Art America he is presenting a selection of his most recent artworks consisting of oil paintings, watercolors and photographs. For more information about the artist and his work visit his website.

George Benson – The Guitar Man

At various points along the four-decade continuum of George Benson’s career, he has been heralded as a jazz guitarist of unparalleled chops, a vocalist with great emotional range and sophistication or a combination of both. However, he regards himself as an entertainer in the broadest sense of the word – a singer of songs, a spinner of tales. That’s the essence, Songs and Stories.

“It’s a very simple equation,” the National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master says of the longevity of his career and the ten Grammy Awards that have punctuated it along the way. “In the end, it’s about the songs and the stories. That’s what keeps the music fresh for me. That’s what keeps me coming back. If you come up with a great melody and put the right lyrics to it, I’m immediately excited.”

That excitement is evident in his new release, Songs and Stories, due August 25, 2009, on Concord Records / Monster Music. The album is a collection of tunes penned by some of the most prolific and enduring songwriters of the last half-century, including James Taylor, Smokey Robinson, Lamont Dozier, Bill Withers, Donny Hathaway and several others. Some were written specifically for this new recording, while others were hand-picked by Benson for their ability to convey simple but universal truths about the human experience.

Songs and Stories was produced by Concord exec VP of A&R John Burk and renowned bassist / composer Marcus Miller. Benson, Miller, keyboardist Greg Phillinganes, guitarist Jubu and drummer John Robinson make up the core unit for the project. They were joined by special guests: guitarists Lee Ritenour, Steve Lukather, Wah Wah Watson and Norman Brown, vocalists Lalah Hathaway and Patti Austin, keyboardist David Paich, saxophonists Tom Scott and Gerald Albright along with several others. “Brother, with that team, you can do just about anything,” said Benson. “We recorded in the studio for three days straight, and everything we touched had something on it that made us all glad we were there. It was just the right mix of people and material. Once we realized that, the challenges disappeared. It just became an exercise in great joy. We were happy to jump on it, we knew we were going to get something special, and that’s what we got.” The combined talents of these writers and musicians make for a series of unforgettable tales, and Benson himself is the narrator who weaves it all together.

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Flora Bowley – Delicioso

Flora Bowley (pronounced bowl-lee) is an internationally celebrated painter, teacher, author and inspirationalist. Her vibrant paintings can be found in numerous galleries, on album covers and in public spaces around the world, as well as on a variety of unique products made in collaboration with Papaya Art.

Flora combines eighteen years of professional painting experience with her background as a yoga instructor and massage therapist to infuse her teaching and painting style with a deep connection to body, mind and spirit. By honoring intuition and celebrating the present moment, Flora encourages her students to overcome fear and welcome joyful spontaneous expression back into the creative process.

Her transformational approach to painting (and living) and has inspired thousands of people to “let go, be bold and unfold.” Flora splits her time between painting, teaching and traveling in colorful locations around the world and living among a community of artists in Portland, OR.

Flora’s new book, “Brave Intuitive Painting,” will be released by Quarry Books on May 1st, 2012 and her “Bloom True” e-course will make its debut in February, 2012.  For information about workshops and online classes, please visit: www.braveintuitiveyou.com.  For more information about Flora Bowley visit her website.

Flora Bowley has created the colorful album cover of Tom Grant’s Delicioso.

 

Greg Adams – Hip Horn

The sound of Greg Adams is one of the world’s best-known musical signatures. For nearly four decades, from the time he first arrived on the San Francisco Bay Area music scene of the early ‘70s, Greg has been a driving force to define artistry that transcends musical genres

Greg has earned both GRAMMY® and Emmy nominations and an International Broadcasting Award from The Hollywood Radio and Television Society. In sync with an ever evolving musical landscape and a life’s work that has included success as an arranger, composer, producer and performer, taking him on worldwide tours and contributing to some of the most important recordings in pop culture.

His 1995 solo debut Hidden Agenda stayed at #1 for five weeks. The ground breaking album received wide critical acclaim, fueled by the world sound of “Burma Road” and a smoldering remake of Sade’s ” Smooth Operator” established him as a major architect of the emerging smooth jazz sound and at the core of creating the genre of urban jazz. Followed up in 2002 with Midnight Morning and two more records in as many years with a string of top ten hits.

Adams is a founding member of Tower of Power. Legendary for the horn arrangements that created it’s resonance and signature sound making Tower of Power one of the most enduring musical entities today. Greg’s musical compositions made the TOP horn section a sought out entity all it’s own. Beginning early with his arrangement on Santana’s “ Everything Is Everything”, Elton John’s “The Bitch Is Back” and Chaka Kahn’s “ Fool’s Paradise”. Greg has arranged, performed and recorded with countless artists as diverse as his career, including The Eurythmics, Rod Stewart, Heart, Lyle Lovett, Linda Ronstadt, Luther Vandross, Aaron Neville, Quincy Jones, Little Feat, Wilson Pickett, Huey Lewis and the News, Raphael Saadiq, The Brothers Johnson, Phish, B.B.King, Everclear, Chicago, Bonnie Raitt, Dionne Warwick, Ray Charles, Peter Frampton, Billy Preston, Terrence Trent Darby, Josh Groban, Madonna, The Rolling Stones and Celine Dion.

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Bob James – Kankiyu

The career of Bob James is long, varied and continues to evolve at every turn. From his first days in Marshall, Missouri, the music of Bob James has captivated audiences throughout the world.

In September, 2011 Altair & Vega, the four-hand piano duet collaboration with Keiko Matsui, was finally released. This unique collaboration which started 10 years ago, had already resulted in several memorable live tour performances, but Bob & Keiko had long hoped that this music would eventually result in a commercially released CD. They got even better than that when E-1 agreed to the concept of including a live performance DVD from a performance at Manchester Craftsmens Guild. Bob & Keiko plan to tour in 2012 showcasing this project.

This album is a good starting point to recapitulate Bob James’ work as painter. The album reminds me of his image Kankiyu, showcasing the four-hand piano playing. During the event Dave McMurray and Friends at the Apollo Theater in London-Hammersmith I had the opportunity to attend his Art exhibition. Today’s it’s very difficult to find any information about the painting talent of the great musician. His website offers currently no information about Bob’s art work. A good reason to present this picture.

Bob James commented his passion for visual art with these words:

Through much of my life I have had an on-and-off flirtation with the visual arts, my desire to create visually more often than not being pushed to the background by my passion for music; the adventure of jazz in particular. I know there must be many similarities in what drives some people to need to create. Whether it be music, painting, ….. theater, dance. The desire to explore uncharted territory can become an obsession that only will be satisfied by creating.”

The images were created on a Macintosh laptop computer, the canvas was a digital drawing tablet, and the studio was anywhere Bob happened to be when inspiration came; frequently during spare time on his concert tours. Whether it was in the back of the tour bus, the tray table of a plane, backstage dressing room, or a hotel room, his palette came from the application software, and the subject matter ranged from his musician comrades with whom he spend a large percentage of his time, recording and performing concerts here in the U.S., Europe and in Japan, to photographs, scans of old newspaper clippings and video still frames. Once the raw material (sketches) had been assembled they were altered and manipulated, utilizing the endless variety of choices the computer makes available.

I connect the publication of this picture with the hope in Bob’s return to the visual art.

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.

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).

Yuriy Shevchuk – Marcus Miller

Born in 1961 in Kiev, Ukraine, Yuriy Shevchuk attended the Kiev Art School and later the prestigious Kiev Architectural Academy. Yuriy has adopted the practice of recording his own experiences in his artworks: his three passions, painting, jazz and historical cars have become the focus of his paintings. Since 1993 Shevchuk has been living in the city of Prague, which he depicts in many of his paintings and also where he exhibits his work widely. He has been described as an accomplished master, full of artistic and intellectual energy.

Bewitched with jazz music he skillfully and rapidly sketches the cool and charming figures of musicians in action, showing the positive mood of jazz and the stunning spiritual intensity of this bright magical world. His lively and spontaneous paintings expertly translate the atmosphere and verve of the music, using dripping, seeping paints and pastels.

Another part of his interests is retro cars. He does not paint cars as such, but tries to depict his emotional perception of retro style. So, the observer can feel spirit of the past on his works.

Shevchuk, an associate member of the Pastels Society of America, has participated in numerous exhibitions and his work is held in collections all over the world. The clarity, harmony, the refined palette of colour and line attract sophisticated art and music lovers worldwide. In the presence of Yuriy’s paintings one can almost hear the blues, feel the beguiling emotions and impassioned feelings of the musicians translated through the artist; such intoxication supports the belief that Yuriy Shevchuk is undoubtedly among the leading contemporary artists exhibiting widely in the Czech Republic today.

For more information about this artist and his works visit
http://www.shevchukart.com.

Craig Fairburn – The Bass Player

Craig P. Fairburn has been painting since 1988. He made the transition from jewelry and engraving to impressionistic themes of jazz and blues in oils. From 1989-92 he lived in New Orleans where the city and club life in general was a rich influence on him.

Meeting local musicians like Charles Neville, Dr. John, Danny Barker and brass band people like Eddie Beaux etc. led him to many others; a great gumbo of mysterious sounds and colors, all this influenced his growing creativity, which he draws from today. When returning to California he showed in rental galleries in L.A. and coffee shops in San Francisco. His cane carving evolved from meeting two of the Neville brothers and a foot injury he sustained at a warehouse in San Francisco in the late nineties. The art studio is a much safer place.

Dirk Joseph – Not Your Typical New Yorker

Dirk Joseph is a multimedia artist producing creations in various mediums including painting, sculpting and computer animation. He does graphic design, commissions, exhibits and conducts creative workshops throughout the New York area. Dirk attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan but he is largely self taught. Dirk is involved in performance art, i.e., live painting and theater set production. His artwork & exhibition reviews have appeared in Newsday, African Voices magazine, The Shield,  Exit The Apple ezine, New York Times, Brooklyn Times, What Weekly e-zine, Baltimore Times, Carribbean Life newspaper and Brooklyn Heights newspaper.

For almost 20 years, he has worked as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer (off and on) and taught art in public schools, libraries, colleges, and community centers in New York and Maryland. He has exhibited his work at numerous galleries, museums, restaurants, and cultural centers in NY, MD, and Canada.

Dirk created all CD covers for late Joseph Diamonds’ albums Not Your Typical New Yorker,  Island Garden and Keep Your Dreams.

Frank Morrison – Soul to Soul

Frank Morrison – The Dream Keeper

Born in Massachusetts then brought by his family to live in New Jersey at an early age, Frank Morrison was reared and spent his formative years there, an affable, precocious and inquisitive youngster whose curiosity about everything around him seemed limitless.  In no time, invested with a brilliant flow of creativity, his eye for and execution of colorful ‘tags’ and ‘R.I.P’ scenes began to bring him considerable ‘street recognition’ and local acclaim.

One need take only a cursory view/examination of his portfolio or his work ‘en gallery’ to find that his power and inspiration are products of his deeply religious grounding and his loving commitment to his family. His innate musicality, natural rhythmic bent and intrinsic understanding of physical/spiritual/emotional expression both invade and explode from his paintings.

Morrison has received commissions from the irrepressible radio/TV commentator Tom Joyner and the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. His artwork has been displayed in prestigious locales shows such as “The National Black Fine Arts Show” produced by Jocelyn Wainwright, at the Savacou Gallery in Manhattan, and was honored and given a one-man show at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture sponsored by ESSENCE ART and Toyota.

He executed serially mounted musical scenes for the compact discs Impulsively Ellington: A Tribute to Duke Ellington, and Down-to-the-Bone’s Crazy Vibes and Things, Cellar Funk and Best of Down To The Bone, Richard Elliot’s Ricochet, and the CD collection Def Jazz.

The Soul To Soul Exhibition is featuring award winning picture book illustrator and fine art artist Frank Morrison:

Fri, Dec 16, 6pm-10pm
Opening Reception

Sat, Dec 17, 6-9p
Artist discussion and viewing

Sun, Dec 18, 12-4p

Book Reading, Signing & Children’s Art Demonstration
Holiday Art Supplies Collection

Sun, Dec 18, 6-9p
Artist discussion and viewing

Dec 19-Jan 29
Exhibition Continued

House of Art , 373 Lewis Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11233
(347) 663-8195

Smooth Jazz and Art Festivals

Smooth Jazz and Art form diverse compounds. Very popular are the Festivals of Arts or Art Exhibitions, on which Smooth Jazz is performed as musical entertainment.

This year  the much-anticipated  Festival of the Arts Boca will run from March 7 to 18, 2012 in Mizner Park. This festival is about all kind of music. Patti Austin will be the featured headliner of the festival.  For more information about the festival visit www.festivaloftheartsboca.org.

Hampden Bank’s Hoop City Jazz & Art Festival will be in July, 2012.  This festival in 36 Court St, Springfield, Massachusetts 01103 presents besides Smooth Jazz artists like Gerald Albright, Vincent Ingala, Marcus Anderson, Down To The Bone numerous art vendors.

The San Antonio Summer Art & Jazz Festival, also known as SAS FEST (San Antonio Summer Festival) and JAZZ FEST S. A. (Jazz Festival of San Antonio) is a free 3-day event held on the first full weekend of June. SAS FEST features 10 great jazz concerts, an Arts and Crafts Fair and delicious Texas cuisine.The San Antonio Summer Art & Jazz Festival is in its 10th year of presenting great fun and entertainment for the whole family.  Crockett Park, 1300 North Main Ave at Cypress St, San Antonio, Texas 78212 is your place of choice.

The 2012 Jacksonville Jazz Festival will feature jazz artists during the Memorial Day weekend on Main Street, Hemming Plaza, Snyder Memorial Church, The Jacksonville Landing, Laura St. and various downtown businesses and buildings. The 2012 Art in the Heart of Downtown art show and sale will feature the work of talented artists and master craftspeople from around the country. Festival patrons can enjoy the sounds of first-rate jazz performers and browse the works of talented artists and master craftspeople throughout the festival weekend. Mark your calendars for the 2012 Jacksonville Jazz Festival in May, 2012.

The Collingwoods Crafts and Fine Arts Festival will be in August, 2012. Haddon Avenue in downtown Collingswood will host nearly 200 craft and fine artists from throughout the United States. Respected artists will present juried contemporary works in wood, clay, glass, metal and fiber: the newest in hand crafts and exciting visual art. Entertainment throughout downtown will include smooth jazz and specialty music perfect for summer strolling. Save the date for the Collingswood Crafts and Fine Art Festival.

Sage Court stages a two-day jazz festival at the beautiful JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa featuring 20 of your favorite artists! Jazz mainstays of last year include Jonathan Butler, Eric Darius & Maysa, Euge Groove, Mindi Abair and Turning Point. The JW Desert Ridge Jazz Festival also presents an Art exhibition.

The annual Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival attracts over 350,000 visitors each year and is one of the biggest and most prestigious outdoor art festivals in Florida. Over 1,600 artists from all over the world apply to attend the famous show and a panel of judges selects between 250 and 300 to exhibit. Visitors can view the various works on display and there are numerous entertainment acts and children’s events planned for the three-day festival. The 53rd Annual Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival will feature entertainment on the Florida Family Insurance Stage. Entertainment presented by Florida Family Insurance, WFTV Channel 9, Orlando Home & Leisure Magazine, and 103.1 WLOQ. The festival will be from 16-18 March, 2012.

The Festival of Arts is California’s longest-running outdoor fine art exhibition. Its jury process and open-air gallery setting allow this festival to please all types of connoisseurs. The show features the original artwork by 140 award-winning artists from Orange County. Special art-related attractions and special events such as jazz concerts, wine and chocolate pairings, and guided art tours throughout the eight-week run provide entertainment for all. This festival is running from July to August, 2012. Michael Paulo, Jessy J, Greg Adams, Eric Marienthal, Brian Bromberg were among the artists of past year.

Watch out for your personal Art Festival next year!

Bill Mayer – The Jazz Cat

Bill Mayer is a graduate of Ringling College of Art in Sarasota, Florida, Clients such as Mattel, Hasbro, DreamWorks, Cartoon Network, Levi’s for Women, Jose’ Cuervo, Time Magazine, IBM, Delta Airlines, Yupo and RJR Nabisco reflect his unique talent. He has the ability to satisfy a varied range of business sectors including illustration, advertising, design, character development, editorial, and consulting.

He won numerous awards, gold medals and consolation prizes.  Bill’s “Bright Eyes” stamps for the U.S. Postal Service were one of the most collectible stamp series of the decade, and the Tour de France posters he produced for Eric Kessel / Kessel Kramer, Amsterdam appeared on the cover of Archive Magazine.  A biography is to find at the Behance Network.

Bill Mayer’s wonderfully energetic and delightfully loopy illustrations are flashes of pure visual hyperbole (Charley Parker).  On his website he showcases some of his works in several categories, on Flickr he presents further compilations. He is also featured by the Weber Group with an own portfolio.

Bill Mayer is the genius who has drawn the CD-cover illustrations of the Rippingtons‘ albums for 25 years.  “Bill has captured the essence and the spirit of the band,” comments Russ Freeman, band leader of the Rippingtons.

Bettie Grace Miner – Works of Art

You will certainly have hold one of her art pieces in your hand. Bettie Grace Miner is one of the most in-demand painters and photographers in the smooth jazz scene and beyond. In an unique way she combines photography and painting techniques to make the typical “Miner Art”.

Influenced by French painters during her stay in Paris she adapted the technique of Expressionism and Impressionism she observed in art museums and painting exhibitions. The art begins as a photograph or a collage of photographs, which Bettie creates in the studio specifically for each piece of art. Lighting and composition is at the heart of the art. Once the perfect photograph is created, she uses that image as the foundation for a painting. Sometimes the art will appear to look very photographic, and other times it will be very abstract. This depends upon the style commissioned (and the mood of the piece). The final art can then be printed on fine art paper or canvas, known as a Gicleé.

She works in her studio in downtown Los Angeles, California. It is a 2300 square foot loft on the top floor of an old art deco era bank building, built in 1921. It’s more of a working studio than a gallery with brick walls, cement floors and the charm of a New York style artist loft. If you’d like to visit and discuss a project or see some art, please make a private appointment and Bettie will be happy to give you the tour.

Bettie loves photography and do a lot for musicians, record labels, advertising and lots more. You can see examples of the work in the photography section of her website. There are packages available for fine art portraits, CD covers, executive portraiture and more. All portrait packages include expert Photoshop retouching by The Photoshop Guy. She does not do product, catalog or architectural photography, but she knows some fantastic photographers who do if you need it.

We recommend to visit her website www.minerworksofart.com and learn more about her immense opus.