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.

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Smooth Jazz And Fine Dining – Ivories Jazz Lounge and Restaurant

Ivories is small for a jazz venue, and the tables – flanked by the bar on one side and windows on the other – are packed in tight. The stage is home to a huge Mason & Hamilton grand piano. The stage lighting and PA system are pretty rudimentary but the place has only been around for a few months. The floor plan, being a big rectangle, makes every seat a good seat.

Great ambiance, great jazz. They’ve got a nice wine list and the menu has some great choices.

Portland trumpeter Farnell Newton and his quintet took the stage and offered up the music of Miles Davis. These guys didn’t need a fancy PA system – they just shot it right at you. Ivories was filled with good music, good food, and a lot of smiling faces.

Portland needs a real jazz venue that doesn’t book the same person four nights a week just because he brings people in. Ivories is making a grand effort to book international jazz luminaries as well as local gems. Support!

Ivories Jazz Lounge and Restaurant, 1435 NW Flanders, Portland, Oregon 97209

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.

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.

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.