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Live Review: 2019 San Jose Jazz Summer Fest

Tech-subjugated San Jose, main hub of Silicon Valley, has always been somewhat iconoclastic. Its Jazz Summer Fest—anchored around downtown Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park, the refined Fairmont Hotel, and numerous palatable restaurants—started in 1990 as a two-day (one fusion and one mainstream) grass-roots event. That makes this year’s installment the 30th, a milestone you’d think … Read More “Live Review: 2019 San Jose Jazz Summer Fest”

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Live Review: 2019 Playboy Jazz Festival

Every year the Playboy Jazz Festival, held at the 19,000-capacity Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, is a roll of the dice in regards to mainstream performances. Festival attendees looking for straight-ahead jazz this year had to patiently abide funk, Afro-futurism, world, R&B, fusion, Latin, and even rock sets. For uninitiated, unfamiliar, and curious listeners, that … Read More “Live Review: 2019 Playboy Jazz Festival”

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Soul on Soul: The Life of Mary Lou Williams by Tammy Kernodle

It sounds like a cliche, but if the phenomenal pianist and innovative composer and arranger Mary Lou Williams had not been a woman, black or born in 1910, she undoubtedly would have received much wider recognition and been much more successful. Unfortunately, she endured several lifetimes worth of repression, swindles, loneliness, disregard, along with personal … Read More “Soul on Soul: The Life of Mary Lou Williams by Tammy Kernodle”

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Will Downing: The Look of Love

Think of him as R. Kelly for the professional, urban, adult-contemporary set (minus those pesky criminal charges). Or better yet, think of him as part of the lineage from Nat “King” Cole and Johnny Hartman. Will Downing is a romantic crooner, and Emotions is his latest audio take on love.

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The Jazz Crusaders & Joe Sample: The Next Crusade

We’re in the midst of winter, but it’s another breathtaking San Fernando Valley day, the temperature nestling in the mid-’70s. From the large conference room in the Verve Music Group’s West Coast offices there is a gorgeous view of Burbank through the near-panoramic windows. Reunited Crusaders keyboardist Joe Sample and saxophonist/bassist Wilton Felder can survey … Read More “The Jazz Crusaders & Joe Sample: The Next Crusade”

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Crusaders: Rural Renewal

Rural Renewal marks the return of the Crusaders, with keyboardist Joe Sample back in the fold after a successful 20-year solo career. Equally noteworthy, cofounder and trombonist Wayne Henderson declined to continue with the revamped Crusaders, which now consists of guitarist Dean Parks, trombonist Steve Baxter and bassist Freddie Washington along with original members tenor … Read More “Crusaders: Rural Renewal”

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Gerald Albright: Groovology

Saxophonist Gerald Albright has been around way too long and covered too many styles to be lumped in with your average contemporary-jazz players. Soul-jazz innovators Eddie Harris, Cannonball Adderley, Maceo Parker, Stanley Turrentine and Grover Washington are Albright’s role models, and he’s usually a killer player even when working in formula-based music. Albright’s latest CD, … Read More “Gerald Albright: Groovology”

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Bob Baldwin: The American Spirit: A Smooth Jazz Celebration

There’s been an overload of 9-11 homages in just about every musical format imaginable. Contemporary pianist, arranger and producer Bob Baldwin conceived a record that’s a tribute to the American spirit, too, one that he hopes will help promote healing and inspiration. Amazingly, Baldwin has been able to overcome the most difficult aspect of doing … Read More “Bob Baldwin: The American Spirit: A Smooth Jazz Celebration”

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Norman Brown: Just Chillin’

When guitarist Norman Brown says, “Just chillin’,” he’s not kidding around. His second Warner Brothers release is truly a laid-back affair-almost too relaxed. Just Chillin’ often lacks the trademark zestfulness that the guitarist, who’s considered a culmination of Jimi Hendrix and George Benson with some Wes Montgomery thrown in, usually delivers. Instead, the CD is … Read More “Norman Brown: Just Chillin’”

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