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Nestor Torres: Nouveau Latino

Nestor Torres is one versatile flutist, having created smooth-jazz tunes in addition to contemporary jazz with hard-driving Latin rhythms. On Nouveau Latino, the Puerto Rican native now living in Florida returns to his Latin roots with his versions of Latin salsa hits from the ’60 and ’70s, plus a few standards, such as “Cocinando” by … Read More “Nestor Torres: Nouveau Latino”

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Drew Davidsen: Around (Again)

Every year it gets increasingly difficult for new artists to break on through to the smooth-jazz charts, but Maryland-based electric guitarist Drew Davidsen has done it with the rollicking “Astro.” (Its title and inspiration come from Davidsen’s late father, who pioneered satellite technology for NASA.) Produced by keyboardist Eric Copeland for his Nashville-based Creative Soul … Read More “Drew Davidsen: Around (Again)”

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Euge Groove: Sunday Morning

No one in smooth jazz does the dramatic sax growl and the flutter note better than Euge Groove. There’s a modicum of that on his sixth solo CD, but Sunday Morning is mellower than usual; Groove reins in the in-your-face funk with 10 songs that cater to contemplative moods over hot coffee on … yep, … Read More “Euge Groove: Sunday Morning”

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Everette Harp: First Love

It’s probably true that all saxophonists thrown into the orderly smooth-jazz genre desire to bust out with a trad-jazz project that displays their influences and years of training. Of course, you’ll see this at live shows, which are regularly raucous jams that sound nothing like what develops in sterile studios. You can’t take the contemporary … Read More “Everette Harp: First Love”

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Various Artists : Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis, Season One

Just to know that Legends of Jazz was the first national-network weekly TV series to focus on America’s homegrown music in 40 years was depressing, if not understandable. Not to take anything away from PBS, where the series debuted in June 2006, but landing NBC, ABC or CBS would really have been something to crow … Read More “Various Artists : Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis, Season One”

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Chris Botti: To Love Again: The Duets

On To Love Again, as with the 500,000-plus selling When I Fall in Love, trumpter Chris Botti’s producer is Bobby Colomby. Where the first CD offered two vocalists, Sting and Paul Cole, the latest boasts nine, including Sting and Cole for round two. Botti’s selections tend toward melancholia, reinforced by his plaintive trumpet and the … Read More “Chris Botti: To Love Again: The Duets”

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Ramsey Lewis: With One Voice

You gotta love a Ramsey Lewis CD that begins with “Oh Happy Day.” In fact, Lewis’ first gospel recording in his distinguished career is as uplifting as you’d expect. This live project was recorded at the J.W. James Memorial A.M.E. Church in Maywood, Ill. That is, by the way, where the Rev. Lucille L. Jackson–Lewis’ … Read More “Ramsey Lewis: With One Voice”

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Bradley Leighton: Just Doin’ Our Thang

On Bradley Leighton’s second album, Just Doin’ Our Thang, the flutist tackles tunes from points on the musical map as diverse as classic bebop, the Great American Songbook, the Henry Mancini oeuvre and the reflective R&B of Bill Withers. He’s backed by an estimable organ trio comprised of Hammond B3 player Rob Whitlock, drummer Duncan … Read More “Bradley Leighton: Just Doin’ Our Thang”

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Still Grazing: The Musical Journey of Hugh Masekela by Hugh Masekela and D. Michael Cheers

There’s a story behind every great song, of course, and the one behind South African trumpeter and flugelhornist Hugh Masekela’s worldwide smash “Grazing in the Grass” is over pretty quickly. He learned the happy jam in 90 minutes and recorded, overdubbed and mixed it in Los Angeles in two hours. Phil Ochs, recording in an … Read More “Still Grazing: The Musical Journey of Hugh Masekela by Hugh Masekela and D. Michael Cheers”

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Marion Meadows: Smooth Ride to the Top

He’s played his way to the top of the smooth-jazz charts, but did you know that soprano saxophonist Marion Meadows has ridden his way to the top of a French mountainside? Brian Soergel tracks his trail.

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Kombo: Cookin’ Out

Kombo is a breath of fresh air in contemporary jazz, and its Hammond B-3, Rhodes and Wurlitzer wall of sound is as welcome on the airwaves as a dry martini, baby. On its second CD, Cookin’ Out, Kombo digs further into the past with festive interpretations and mighty originals of soul-infused jazz and R&B. Co-leaders … Read More “Kombo: Cookin’ Out”

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Andy Laverne/Dave Samuels: Between Earth and Mars

There’s no doubting Andy LaVerne’s technical skill on the piano and his impressive credentials, which include fusion, big band, straightahead and some impressive solo works. Sometimes, though, you wish for a melodic moment, a little swing, some joy. It’s not overwhelmingly apparent on this trio led by LaVerne and vibist Dave Samuels, who distinguished himself … Read More “Andy Laverne/Dave Samuels: Between Earth and Mars”

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Metro: Metrocafe

Somewhere between smooth jazz and raw fusion sits Metro, who dish out wailing guitar and keyboard solos while keeping an eye on fun funk. Metrocafe, the third CD from guitarist Chuck Loeb, keyboardist Mitchel Forman, bassist Victor Bailey and drummer Wolfgang Haffner, has a softer edge than earlier works, yet it retains a sense of … Read More “Metro: Metrocafe”

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