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Rick Braun: Crossroads (Shanachie)

One of contemporary jazz’s most popular artists, trumpeter Rick Braun has a sound built on a silken, lyrical horn voice, usually set over grooving rhythms. On Crossroads, he doesn’t stray too far from that formula, but he deploys it in a rich variety of contexts. A collection of stylistically varied originals and covers, Crossroads includes … Read More “Rick Braun: Crossroads (Shanachie)”

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Mike Stern/Jeff Lorber Fusion: Eleven (Concord Jazz)

Quite an interesting pairing: keyboardist Jeff Lorber, who has performed and/or produced many contemporary jazz and smooth-jazz hits, and jazz/rock guitarist Mike Stern, whose background includes stints with Miles Davis, Billy Cobham, and the Brecker Brothers. It was bassist Jimmy Haslip’s idea to bring the two together. A founding member of the Yellowjackets, Haslip played … Read More “Mike Stern/Jeff Lorber Fusion: Eleven (Concord Jazz)”

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Brandon Goldberg Is the Little Piano Man

Brandon Goldberg’s YouTube channel is filled with videos of the young piano phenom performing publicly with preternatural poise and displaying jaw-dropping musical skill. There’s an eight-year-old Goldberg, outfitted in a pint-sized tuxedo, performing Haydn’s Piano Concerto No. 11 with the South Florida Youth Symphony. A nine-year-old Goldberg jamming with Monty Alexander. An 11-year-old Goldberg sitting … Read More “Brandon Goldberg Is the Little Piano Man”

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The Hot Sardines: Welcome Home, Bon Voyage (Eleven)

Retro outfit the Hot Sardines interprets early-jazz classics with a wink and a smile, their musical deftness topped by a hefty helping of great showmanship. And as their wonderfully fun album Welcome Home, Bon Voyage shows, they can sure bring it live. The album documents shows that the band—singer Elizabeth Bougerol, pianist Evan Palazzo, trombonist … Read More “The Hot Sardines: Welcome Home, Bon Voyage (Eleven)”

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Alexa Tarantino Leads Charge for a More Inclusive Jazz Scene

On their debut album, Pride & Joy (Posi-Tone), the all-female sextet Lioness makes a potent jazz statement while celebrating female jazz artistry past and present. The ensemble features six acclaimed musicians—alto saxophonist Alexa Tarantino, tenor saxophonist Jenny Hill, baritone saxophonist Lauren Sevian, guitarist Amanda Monaco, organist Akiko Tsuruga, and drummer Allison Miller—and all the tracks were … Read More “Alexa Tarantino Leads Charge for a More Inclusive Jazz Scene”

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Michael Wolff’s Sweet Miracle of Life

Michael Wolff survived a harrowing health scare. The experience led him to seek the creation of beauty. The jazz pianist/composer says that in 2013 he was diagnosed with a form of lymphoma that was treatable but not curable. “At that point, they weren’t even going to treat me,” he remembers, “because I wasn’t sick, I … Read More “Michael Wolff’s Sweet Miracle of Life”

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Steve Gadd Band: Way Back Home

During the concert documented on Way Back Home, drummer Steve Gadd says, “I feel a lotta love in this room tonight.” Indeed, the affection flowing between the stage and the audience is palpable and the positive energy is clearly buoying Gadd and the band, who deliver a joyous performance in Gadd’s hometown of Rochester, N.Y. … Read More “Steve Gadd Band: Way Back Home”

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The Rippingtons Featuring Russ Freeman: True Stories

The Rippingtons Featuring Russ Freeman mark their 30th anniversary this year with True Stories, an album that demonstrates how to update a band’s sound without losing what made it popular in the first place. The Rippingtons started as a supergroup led by guitarist/principal composer Freeman and featuring such contemporary-jazz luminaries as keyboardist David Benoit and … Read More “The Rippingtons Featuring Russ Freeman: True Stories”

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Pat Metheny: The Unity Sessions

The Unity Sessions strives to capture the connections, both musical and extramusical, shared by the members of guitarist Pat Metheny’s most recent working group, the Unity Band: saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist Ben Williams, drummer Antonio Sanchez and keyboardist/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi. Metheny wanted to document the musical and human rapport developing within the unit, but he … Read More “Pat Metheny: The Unity Sessions

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Bob James/Nathan East: The New Cool

Keyboardist Bob James and bassist Nathan East explore their long-held musical connection on the mostly acoustic album The New Cool, an elegant, sensitively performed collection of originals and covers. The New Cool marks the first but hopefully not the last time these two artists have collaborated on a duo-billed project such as this. For a … Read More “Bob James/Nathan East: The New Cool”

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Boney James: futuresoul

Retro-soul meets new-school production on Boney James’ futuresoul. The contemporary jazz saxophonist built a highly successful career on a sound deeply rooted in R&B, and his credentials in that arena are impeccable. Heavily influenced by the likes of Grover Washington Jr., the Stylistics and Earth, Wind and Fire, James started his career as a sideman … Read More “Boney James: futuresoul”

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Nilson Matta: EastSideRioDrive

Brazilian-born, now New York-based acoustic bassist and bandleader Nilson Matta finds distinctive, sometimes unexpected ways to present well-known compositions on EastSideRioDrive. Matta is joined by a stellar group of players-including saxophonist Craig Handy, flutist Anne Drummond, guitarist Romero Lubambo, pianist Edsel Gomez and percussionist Cyro Baptista-and he utilizes them to great effect in a variety … Read More “Nilson Matta: EastSideRioDrive”

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Kyle Eastwood: Time Pieces

Bassist Kyle Eastwood explores late-’50s and early ’60s hard bop on Time Pieces. Eastwood says that genre of jazz was a big influence on him, and he and his band-saxophonist Brandon Allen, trumpeter/flugelhornist Quentin Collins, pianist Andrew McCormack and drummer Ernesto Simpson-dig enthusiastically into its melodic, grooving style. Eastwood writes in the liner notes that … Read More “Kyle Eastwood: Time Pieces”

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Kenny G: Brazilian Nights

In the liner notes to Brazilian Nights, Kenny G declares, “I’ve been in love with bossa nova my whole life.” Whether that’s actually true or just a marketing line, the smooth-jazz saxophonist demonstrates a genuine affinity for Brazilian music on this album, a mix of classics and original tracks composed by G and his longtime … Read More “Kenny G: Brazilian Nights”

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Eric Johnson/Mike Stern: Eclectic

With Eclectic, Mike Stern and Eric Johnson, two guitar giants famed for their prodigious, often fiery technique, deliver a duet album that exhibits such a strong musical accord you might wonder why the two hadn’t recorded an album together before. The collaboration dates back to 2009, when Johnson guested on Stern’s disc Big Neighborhood. That … Read More “Eric Johnson/Mike Stern: Eclectic”

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Jeff Lorber/Chuck Loeb/Everette Harp: Jazz Funk Soul

Three of contemporary jazz’s most popular artists-keyboardist Jeff Lorber, guitarist Chuck Loeb and saxophonist Everette Harp-offer a fresh take on fusion on Jazz Funk Soul, an album that grew out of a successful tour. The title is certainly truth in advertising: The set delivers a hefty, and very tasty, helping of jazz, funk and soul … Read More “Jeff Lorber/Chuck Loeb/Everette Harp: Jazz Funk Soul”

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Rick Braun : Can You Feel It

There’s a cut on Rick Braun’s new album called “Get Up and Dance,” and while it’s not the title track, that title captures this disc’s spirit perfectly. Braun, a popular smooth-jazz trumpeter/flugelhornist, evokes the sound and spirit of classic ’70s jazz-funk as he and a stellar group of musicians groove their way through an irresistible … Read More “Rick Braun : Can You Feel It”

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The Rippingtons Featuring Russ Freeman: Fountain of Youth

The Rippingtons Featuring Russ Freeman take the listener on a kaleidoscopic excursion on Fountain of Youth, the popular contemporary jazz outfit’s 20th album. Leader and guitarist Freeman is working with a varied sonic palette here, drawing on influences from around the world and layering an array of instruments to create evocative, constantly shifting soundscapes. This … Read More “The Rippingtons Featuring Russ Freeman: Fountain of Youth”

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Richard Elliot: Lip Service

Marking his 30th anniversary as a solo recording artist this year, saxophonist Richard Elliot delivers Lip Service, an amiable but predictable set filled with the kind of R&B-informed contemporary jazz that has made the former Tower of Power member a mainstay of jazz radio. The album centers on themes of love and romance, but the … Read More “Richard Elliot: Lip Service”

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Gerald Albright: Slam Dunk

On his latest disc, Gerald Albright offers a high-energy contemporary jazz set that puts the veteran saxophonist’s dizzying array of talents amply on display. Not only does the album showcase Albright’s formidable skills on alto, soprano, tenor and baritone sax, it also demonstrates his facility on flute, bass and vocals, as well as his talents … Read More “Gerald Albright: Slam Dunk”

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Harvey Mason: Chameleon

Harvey Mason revisits seven fusion classics of the 1970s on Chameleon, his Concord Records debut album. The veteran drummer, currently a member of the superband Fourplay, has performed with a vast range of artists, and he played on nearly all of the originals he’s remaking here. Mason is joined by a stellar group of musicians-including … Read More “Harvey Mason: Chameleon”

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