Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Vocalist Allan Harris Set to Release Nobody's Gonna Love You Better (Black Bar Jukebox Redux) on September 16


The outstanding and internationally renowned vocalist, guitarist and composer Allan Harris sums up his personal perspective on music in clear and straightforward terms. "There is nothing that I have found that defines and gives credence to my place in this wild and mysterious universe than this thing called music." Harris exemplifies that statement perfectly with his stunning new album Nobody's Gonna Love You Better (Black Bar Jukebox Redux), his eleventh album following on the heels of his highly acclaimed 2015 release Black Bar Jukebox.

For this, Harris takes an even more eclectic approach, drawing upon the wide range of music that he heard growing up in Brooklyn, and feasting on the expansive palette of the Harlem cultural landscape. "My new album captures some of the varied sounds and feelings that have shaped my growth as an artist. I had not one style to heavily rely upon when putting these tunes together, but only my young memories of music, people and events."

Nobody's Gonna Love You Better is a bold statement that builds upon the entire breadth of Harris' already esteemed reputation, demonstrating his enormous versatility within the full scope of his highly creative musical vision. Swinging jazz, rich R&B, sumptuous balladry, wailing rock, rumbling blues and even a touch of playful Brazilian are all woven seamlessly into the tapestry of a musical odyssey that is all Allan Harris. With a deeply resonant baritone/tenor voice that is soulful, richly expressive and flawless in both intonation and phrasing, Harris displays a total command and fluency in every context.

Back from the previous album are the GRAMMY® Award-winning producer Brian Bacchus and Harris' longtime keyboard cohort Pascal Le Boeuf (on acoustic and electric pianos, and Hammond B3 organ), whose deep understanding and empathy for Harris' music creates a marvelous sense of intimacy and shared joy of expression. Pascal is also the primary instrumental soloist and delivers in an inspired fashion throughout. Joining Pascal in the exceptional rhythm section are Russell Hall on acoustic and electric bass, Shirazette Tinnin on drums and cajón, and Freddie Bryant on both electric and classical guitar. Together, with Harris also on acoustic, electric and resonator guitar, they provide impeccably flawless support, whether driving, embellishing, shaping or enhancing the settings as ideally suited to the intent of the music.

The delightful repertoire includes four Harris originals, a couple of American Songbook gems, a pair of jazz classics, and re-imaginations of hit songs from Jimi Hendrix, Steely Dan and Spiral Staircase. As he does with every lyric, Harris pays proper homage to those who have provided the inspiration for his own highly personal sound, specifically here to Ray Charles, Nat 'King' Cole and Eddie Jefferson on three individual items.

Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez
On "I Remember You," Harris channels Nat (a subject of an earlier Harris tribute project) in a beautifully touching rendition with brilliant piano support throughout, as well as a solo that glides in the territory where Red Garland and Erroll Garner meet. "Ruby"--from the Ruby Gentry film score, and a major hit for Ray Charles--is satin-smooth balladry over an old-school swing-jazz groove, complete with Bryant's Freddie Green-like guitar strumming. For the iconic "Moody's Mood For Love," Harris takes the concept of making an often-performed song one's own to an entirely new level, offering a totally fresh interpretation--in rhythm, phrasing and lyrical structure--to the Eddie Jefferson classic. The Stan Getz/João Gilberto hit "Doralice" is a deliciously infectious samba, sung by Harris in Portuguese, and featuring a fine acoustic solo by Bryant.


The three popular song re-imaginations include a somewhat up-tempo blues shuffle take on Hendrix' "Up From The Skies," with Harris in a neatly syncopated groove over LeBoeuf's funky B3. Pascal's Hammond organ sets a bright tone for a bouncy swing version of Spiral Staircase's mega-hit "More Today Than Yesterday" and Steely Dan's "Any Major Dude Will Tell You" gets a transformation (and relocation) from Americana to Harlem, shifting smoothly between brisk syncopation and atmospheric rubato.

The four Harris originals aptly demonstrate that he is as skilled a composer as a vocalist--and his lyrics are moving, heartfelt and poetic. The album opener "Mother's Love (Nobody's Gonna Love You)" begins on a poignant, emotive and dramatic note before morphing into a vibrantly swinging excursion. Its bookend closer "Secret Moments" is a lovely, gentle and lushly evocative ballad, while "Swing" is a powerfully syncopated and punchy romp. Provocative, confrontational and rousing best describes "Blue Was Angry (from the Cross That River song-cycle). Hard-edged, fiery and with a message of barely-controlled ferocity, it flies over a rip-roaring rhythm section and Harris' raw electric guitar. It may be unexpected by Harris' large fan base, but it's deeply emotional and on point.

Over the past 20 years, Harris has steadily developed his reputation as one of the finest vocalists of his era. Brooklyn-born and Harlem-based, he has forged his sterling credentials through his ten previous albums, covering a broad range of contexts, all netted together within the rich territory of the jazz tradition. In addition to his recordings, he has performed on a worldwide stage that has taken him to prestigious international festivals and halls in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, as well as the 2012 Olympics in London. At home, he has toured nationally at festivals and top venues, including New York's Lincoln Center and D.C.'s Kennedy Center. He has received numerous awards, including the New York Nightlife Award for "Outstanding Jazz Vocalist" (which he won three times), the Backstage Bistro Award for "Ongoing Achievement in Jazz," the Harlem Speaks "Jazz Museum of Harlem Award," and the DownBeat Critic's Poll Award for "Rising Star Vocalist." Nobody's Gonna Love You Better (Black Bar Jukebox Redux) will continue to build his legacy as another milestone in the extraordinary artistic aesthetic of Allan Harris.


Upcoming Allan Harris Performances:

September 23 & 24 | Columbia Club | Indianapolis, IN
September 28 & 29 | Smoke Jazz & Supper Club | New York, NY
October 8 | McAnnich Arts Center | Glen Ellyn, IL
October 14 & 15 | South | Philadelphia, PA
October 18 | Jazz at Lincoln Center, Rose Hall | New York, NY
October 25 - November 20 | Australia/Europe Tour | Various Cities
December 21 & 22 | Dazzle Jazz Club | Denver, CO
December 28 - January 2 | Umbria Jazz Festival | Orvieto, Italy

Monday, September 12, 2016

Saxophonist Paul Taylor releases Countdown CD


In the first few bars of the title track to his new Peak Records/eOne album, Countdown, contemporary urban jazz’ hit saxman Paul Taylor, ever the engaging showman, invites his legion of fans into the experience by counting off 5…4…3…2…1. He launches into his incredible third decade as a solo artist with a set that’s fuses his trademark jazzy/ funk/soul vibe with prominent elements of synthy dance pop/EDM, trancelike neo-soul, electronica, folksy lite rock, reggaeton, even a touch of blues.
The album’s colorful fusion of grooves and styles was created by the saxophonist and his longtime collaborator, co-writer and producer Dino Esposito. The two share a dynamic several decade long history that began when they played in the same band while attending the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  Esposito’s collaboration as a co-writer, producer and sonic co-architect began with Paul’s 1995 debut On the Horn and continued with Pleasure Seeker (1997), Undercover (2000), Hypnotic (2001), Nightlife (2005), Prime Time (2011) and Tenacity (2014).

Countdown’s first single, “Arrival” is a spot on reflection of their multi-faceted freewheeling approach to stylistic fusion. The two also cite Paul’s soprano led track “Told Ya So” as another prime example. “It’s dancehall reggae the way artists like Drake and Rihanna do it,” Taylor says. “It’s cool to apply that contemporary pop current to my R&B/jazz sound.” Another track that Taylor feels steps away from the usual urban jazz hitting the charts these days is “Crossroads,” Complementing these tracks are two infectious, in the pocket tunes which reveal Taylor’s mastery of melody and easy flowing funk grooves – achieved here via seductive clapping percussion. The first is the opening track “Countdown,” which introduces the sizzling horn texture dynamic that drives many of the emotional high points throughout the set. Taylor says, “This one starts in a dreamy place, as if you’re anticipating something big, and then it breaks through with beats and ambience, creating emotional power but in a subdued mystical way.” The second is “Polaris,” one of the jazzier tunes on the album, a gentle soprano ballad featuring the subtle acoustic guitar graces of Peter White (providing harmonies and a transcendent solo).

Other key tracks include the EDM jam “Club 702,” a high energy tribute to the many successful DJs in Taylor’s adopted hometown of Las Vegas (whose area code is 702); the spirited midtempo electronic funk piece “Knocking At Your Door,” featuring Taylor’s backing vocals seductively repeating the title; and a whimsical “Roundup” of a lot of different styles, including the folksy, jangling guitar of Brian Monroney and touches of progressive EDM grooves and jazzy energy. One of the highlights of Taylor’s Tenacity album was his cover of The Weeknd’s “Wicked Games.” Setting a precedent by re-inventing a tune by the same artist on consecutive albums, Taylor extends his love for the Canadian alt-R&B singer to his fresh and atmospheric, deep soul-jazz take on the #1 pop hit “The Hills.”  

“Getting the go-ahead for a new album is always the greatest news because we can toss around ideas and come up with fresh new ways to color around the edges of my core melodic horn vibe, staying true to my stylistic integrity,” says Taylor. “Our goal is always to do something we haven’t tried before, and we have fun experimenting and being adventurous. On Countdown, we achieve that by trying new EDMish kind of mashups, trying to make two or three different styles mesh.”

Esposito agrees he and Taylor are so in tune and trust each other so implicitly that if the saxman shoots him an eight or 16 bar idea or vice versa, the other can pick it up and develop it exactly the way the other envisioned. “Paul has never been afraid to step out of the box of the sound urban jazz artists usually conform to, and I’m always pushing that envelope as well,” he says. “Paul’s always hearing amazing new sounds and he’s open to all the music I’ve been immersed in like chill, hip-hop, EDM, electric soul and pop alternative. We’re always thinking, what can we bring to the table,  what can we explore and how can we fuse different touches of all we love without going too far out of the genre’s mainstream.”

Though Taylor has been a groundbreaking force among the sax elite in the genre since his hit 1995 debut On The Horn, his 2014 #1 hit “Supernova” continued the exhilarating upswing he has been enjoying since he started his second decade as an artist with Ladies’ Choice (2007) – his first ever #1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Albums Chart. “Burnin’,” the title track from his 2009 album, hit #1 on the airplay charts, and “Push To Start” from Prime Time (2011), hit the pole position on the Smooth Jazz Songs chart. Prime Time further lived up to its colorful name by reaching the Top Ten on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart. 

The Denver native has been seducing thousands of female fans on the road for years, headlining hundreds of shows and being part of exciting all-star tours – most recently doing dates with Peter White and Euge Groove in a lineup affectionately dubbed “Peter, Paul and Euge.” Before that he was part of the blockbuster summer tours Gentlemen of the Night (with Marion Meadows and Warren Hill) and Sax and the City (with Meadows and Vincent Ingala). Over the years, he has also hit the road with The Rippingtons and the acclaimed “Groovin’ For Grover” tour.

In December 2012, the longtime basketball enthusiast achieved another longtime dream, performing the National Anthem in Madison Square Garden at a New York Knicks game; their coach Mike Woodson is a longtime fan. Taylor is now also an official endorsee of Vigilante mouthpieces and tenor and alto for Cannonball Musical Instruments.

After over ten albums of non-stop hit making, thousands of charismatic performances worldwide and years of setting new standards for the sonic possibilities of contemporary urban jazz, Paul Taylor’s still got his antenna up - ready to pounce on, absorb and be inspired by every vibe he hears that’s fresh, hip and edgy. Now, with Countdown, he’s blasting off into the next phase of his career, excited about the road ahead! 


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Grammy Award-Winning Vocalist Catherine Russell releases new album, Harlem On My Mind


With her sixth album, Harlem On My Mind, Grammy® Award-winning vocalist Catherine Russell journeys to the blue heart of the great African American songbook. Swinging forth with soulful interpretations, Russell taps the golden age of Harlem, as befits this vibrant daughter of jazz. Vocalists Ethel Waters, Billie Holiday, Etta James, and Dinah Washington provide inspiration where tunesmiths like Benny Carter, Irving Berlin, Andy Razaf and Fats Waller once ruled the roost of a renaissance which continues to reverberate. Of the title track, Russell says, "It's about not forgetting your roots," which also serves as her modus operandi for the entire 12 song collection. "The album is comprised of songs from artists who played at The Apollo in Harlem, where all African American artists of note appeared."

Russell is a native New Yorker, born into musical royalty. Her father, the late Luis Russell, was a legendary pianist/composer/bandleader and Louis Armstrong's long-time musical director. Her mother, Carline Ray, was a pioneering vocalist/guitarist/bassist who performed with International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Mary Lou Williams, and Sy Oliver. Russell notes, "My mother was born and raised in Harlem and my father led one of the leading orchestras in Harlem, which was part of the inspiration for this album."  

Harlem On My Mind showcases Russell's honey rich voice in a variety of settings. "I love working with saxophonist/arranger Andy Farber," says Russell, and here Farber contributes five arrangements for tentet, featuring six horns, including Jon-Erik Kellso and Alphonso Horne on trumpets, John Allred on trombone, and Mark Lopeman and Dan Block on reeds. Her smaller groups swing equally hard, sometimes with fewer horns and sometimes stripped down to her road tested rhythm section, including musical director/guitarist/banjoist Matt Munisteri, pianist Mark Shane, bassist Tal Ronen, and drummer Mark McLean. Don't Take Your Love From Me features a special guest appearance by tenor saxophonist Fred Staton, of the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band, who was 100-years-old at the time of the recording session, playing beautifully. Throughout, Russell and her band shine, whether serving up dollops of aural comfort food, or go for the rafters explosion of fun.

Russell's professional life began early. After graduating with honors from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, she embarked upon musical adventures with Carrie Smith, Steely Dan, David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Michael Feinstein, Levon Helm, and Rosanne Cash, among others, appearing on over 200 albums. Her 2006 debut album Cat (World Village/Harmonia Mundi), garnered rave reviews, paving the way for her 2008 sophomore release,Sentimental Streak.  She was a guest on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, PBS-TV's Tavis Smiley Show, and NPR's "Fresh Air", "Piano Jazz", "Mountain Stage", "World Café", and "JazzSet". Russell's third album, Inside This Heart of Mine, reached #1 on JazzWeek and Roots Music Report's radio charts, while also charting on Billboard and reaching #1 on iTunes jazz charts. A fourth album, Strictly Romancin', was awarded Prix du Jazz Vocal (Vocal Album of The Year) by the French Jazz Academy, Grand Prix du Hot Club de France, and a Bistro Award for Outstanding Recording. That same year Russell won a Grammy® Award as a featured artist on the soundtrack album for the HBO-TV series, Boardwalk Empire. Her fifth solo album, Bring It Back (Jazz Village) received a five-star review in DownBeat.

2016 has been an eventful year for Catherine Russell. In January, Russell was featured in an hour-long concert performance on Public Television's American Songbook as part of the NJPAC series. In February, Russell joined the fellow members of David Bowie's last touring band, as well as pop-singer Lorde, for a moving Tribute to David Bowie at the 2016 Brit Awards. In April, Russell appeared at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. to sing the grand finale at the 2016 NEA Jazz Masters Award Ceremony, and then traveled to Los Angeles for a live taping of Radio Deluxewith John Pizzarelli. Her concerts, "Catherine Russell: Sunny Side of The Street", at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Appel Room in April, which saluted her personal connection to Sy Oliver, were featured on NPR's "Jazz Night In America." To support the new album, extensive worldwide touring is slated for the 2016-17 season, including a tour in December 2016 as guest vocalist with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis on their annual Big Band Holidays tour. 

  Select Upcoming Catherine Russell Appearances for 2016
Sept 16 / Bogota Jazz Festival at Teatro Libre / Bogota, Colombia
Sept 29 / Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola / New York, NY
Oct 1 / Annenberg Center for Arts, Zellerbach Hall (Ladies Sing The Blues) / Philadelphia, PA
Oct 4 / Yoshi's / Oakland, CA
Oct 6-9 / Jazz Alley / Seattle, WA
Oct 11 / The Old Church / Portland, OR
Oct 13 / Harlow's / Sacramento, CA
Oct 14 / Kuumbwa Jazz Center / Santa Cruz, CA
Oct 20 / Scullers / Boston, MA
Oct 22 / McCarter Theatre - Berlind / Princeton, NJ
Nov 1 / NJPAC Prudential Hall / Newark, NJ
Nov 16-19 / Jazz St. Louis / St. Louis, MO

Big Band Holidays: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis

Dec 1 / Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland / Kansas City, MO
Dec 2 / Holland Performing Arts Center / Omaha, NB
Dec 3 / Stiefel Theatre for The Performing Arts / Salina, KS
Dec 4 / "We Always Swing" Jazz Series at Missouri Theatre / Columbia, MO
Dec 5 / The Palladium at The Center for Performing Arts / Carmel, IN
Dec 7 / Denison University, Swasey Chapel / Granville, OH
Dec 8 / Keith Albee Theatre / Huntington, WV
Dec 9 / Schermerhorn Symphony Center / Nashville, TN
Dec 10 / Carolina Performing Arts at Memorial Hall / Chapel Hill, NC
Dec 11 /  Moss Arts Center / Blacksburg, VA

Dec 14 - 18 / Rose Theater (Jazz at Lincoln Center) / New York, NY







Thursday, August 18, 2016

Carol Duboc releases new CD on August 19; employs top female musicians for project


On August 19th, contemporary jazz vocalist, pianist, composer and  producer Carol Duboc will release her CD "Open the Curtains. While seven of the ten songs on Open The Curtains are originals penned by Carol, she chooses to pay tribute to a trio of women who have long inspired her – Nina Simone, Patrice Rushen and Peggy Lee. Duboc performs an unforgettable version of the Eddie Cooley/Otis Blackwell song “Fever,” which was one of Peggy Lee’s signature songs. Duboc transforms this chestnut and turns it upside down reinventing it as a cool shuffle swing. Trombonist Aubrey Logan adds a nice touch to the mix. “Peggy Lee was a songwriter, as well as a jazz singer, so this song seemed like the perfect choice.” Duboc reunites with the groundbreaking pianist, vocalist, composer and producer Patrice Rushen. The two recorded Wayne Shorter’s classic “El Gaucho” on Duboc’s second album Duboc (2002). It was not a hard choice for Duboc to select one of her favorite Rushen songs – the 1980s Top 40 pop hit “Forget Me Not.” “She is humble and kind, like an angel from God,” says the singer and pianist of her friend Patrice. “Everything she plays has feeling and she has a huge musical vocabulary drawing from classical, jazz and R&B. She just knows the right thing to play and when to play it. She really understood what I was trying to convey musically and it was a blessing and a joy to have her on this album!” Duboc dips into Nina Simone’s repertoire and serves up a splendid version of “Feeling Good.” While not a Nina Simone composition, it is one of the songs most often associated with the High Priestess of Soul. Carol says, “I spent a lot of time watching Nina Simone perform and ‘Feeling Good,’ struck a nerve in me. When she played piano and sang, she commanded everyone’s complete attention. She is exactly the kind of female jazz musician I wanted to give homage to on this album.”

Among Carol’s original songs on Open the Curtains is the triumphant, soulful and percussive “In Pieces,” featuring the undeniable Afro-Latin percussive funk of Sheila E. and the soulfully swooning saxophone of Mindi Abair. Inspired by a musical partnership that went awry, “In Pieces,” displays Duboc’s resilient spirit as she sings, “I’m not falling to pieces … I may get bent but never broken again.” “I’m a huge Prince fan and I am so saddened by his death, so for percussion I was ecstatic when I reached out to Sheila E. and she said, ‘yes,'” shares Duboc. “She is so musical and put all the right percussion parts on the tracks. It was devastating because Prince died the week following the recording of the album.” Saxophonist Mindi Abair is someone who Carol Duboc has wanted to work with for some time. “Mindi is by far one of the best sax players I have ever recorded and I have recorded them all!,” shares Carol. “She takes chances and is 100% unique. A true talent and everything a jazz musician should be.”
“Whisper” is a tender, meditative and emotive composition about an amicable break-up. Duboc’s cool, sweet and lilting vocals intertwined with Patrice Rushen’s keys, guitarist Bibi McGill, bassist Rhonda Smith and drummer Cora Coleman create a beautiful synergy that caresses every note from beginning to the end. “When I broke up with my husband,” explains Carol, “it was peaceful, almost friendly and I still loved him though we were so terribly broken.” Open The Curtains also features “Faces,” a personal favorite of Duboc’s. It’s a rockin’, high-octane and funk-fueled number that allows everyone to cut loose and strut their stuff including guitarists Jennifer Batten and Bibi McGill, who was Pink’s musical director as well as Beyoncé’s for eight years. “Bibi’s solos are melodic and intense. Not to mention she is a beautiful person inside and out and an expert Yoga instructor. Talk about keeping yourself centered.”

The Female Phenoms kick it up a notch with the invigorating and dance-inducing “Miss You Missing Me.” This song will never be ‘just another memory’ as the song says, as it is one of the album’s highlights. Queen Cora Coleman serves up some serious rhythmic magic on this track and throughout the album. Carol shares, “My dad was a drummer so I have listened to every drummer from Buddy Rich to Harvey Mason and of course I have recorded with Vinnie Colaiuta numerous times, but Cora is unique! She looks forward, straight ahead and poised as if nothing is happening while she rips around her toms. WOW, give me a break! And she is so funky. I totally understand why Prince toured with her and Beyoncé chose her for her all female band.” The sultry R&B ballad “Precious,” featuring Mindi Abair’s ethereal soprano sax is a sublime R&B ballad about a love that is perfect and precious. Duboc’s pure vocal quality and impeccable phrasing shine brightly. It is one of Carol Duboc’s first compositional credits. Chanté Moore originally recorded it in 1992. The bluesy “I’m Gone,” brings Open The Curtains to a rousing finale. Opening with Stevie Wonder-esqe harmonies, “I’m Gone,” is a funky and groove heavy tune that finds Duboc laying down the law and moving on. The track features some gritty guitar work from Jenny Bitten. “Early on in my career, my first producer was Michael Jackson’s producer, and my first record deal was given to me by Larkin Arnold who oversaw Michael’s Thriller album at Sony! So reaching out to Michael Jackson’s infamous female guitarist was a must. Jenny did not disappoint. She took a few hours off from her busy touring schedule to play two solos and I feel BLESSED! She is gifted!”

Hailing from a musical family in Kansas City, MO, by the time Carol Duboc was four she was already dazzling family members with performances of the entire musical My Fair Lady. By five she was playing the piano and it was not long before she began studying the saxophone. Her father, who was a drummer, introduced her to a lot of music including Lionel Hampton and Frank Sinatra, who were frequently playing in the house. Duboc, went on to join the Kansas City Performing Arts Company as a singer and actress. Incidentally, the Renaissance woman actually made a cameo in the 2005 film Be Cool starring John Travolta and Uma Thurman! Duboc eventually relocated to Los Angeles to attend U.S.C.’s School of Music as a double major in composition and vocal performance and a minor in music engineering, which led to numerous collaborations recording with various artists. Carol Duboc had the distinction and privilege of working alongside founder and leader of the legendary Earth, Wind & Fire and was in fact once signed to his label. Singer Deniece Williams whom Duboc credits as another pivotal influence collaborated with White in the 70s. “People used to say I sound a little like her and so I learned some of her songs while I was still in college,” recalls Carol. “I met her backstage at the Hollywood Bowl years ago, the biggest bit of advice she had for me is to put God first. I think I just now really get that!”

In addition to her own solo career, Carol Duboc has composed songs for a stellar list of artists. “It is amazing that when you say you are a writer and you are a woman, people assume you are just writing the lyrics,” bemuses Carol. “I never just write the words even when I collaborate. Often they assume the guy you are working with is doing everything. This is never the case with me!”

Duboc has written songs for everyone from Patti LaBelle to Chanté Moore and Stephanie Mills. Launching her own label Gold Note Music, with distribution through Orchard and City Hall Records, Carol Duboc, made her recording debut as a leader With All That I Am in 2001 and Duboc followed in 2002. In 2005 she released her third solo effort All of You, followed by Songs For Lovers in 2008, Burt Bacharach Songbook in 2009 and 2013’s Smile. In 2015 Duboc released Colored Glasses with her friend and keyboardist Jeff Lorber.

Open The Curtains is about standing in your brilliance and owning your place in this world. It could very well be the musical soundtrack to Dr. Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman,” as Carol Duboc orchestrates a tapestry of uplifting, introspective and empowering anthems. Duboc, considers herself a composer first. Her wide reaching influences are a dynamic aspect of her music but no matter what she writes, there is one constant – great grooves and memorable melodies. “I am always writing something,” says Duboc. “If I am out and I get an idea I will write the melody down and sketch it on whatever I have. I have files full of napkins and scratch paper with bass lines or melodies on them!” The music featured on Open The Curtains derives from a very personal place. “During the time when I was working on this album my nine year old daughter wrote her first song and shared it with me,” explains the Los Angeles based musician. “It was so touching because in her lyrics she said she wanted the Universe to see her as important and she wanted to feel loved. After hearing her song I immediately thought ‘Open the Curtains and shine! Honey, you are important!’ I want her to remember that her gift comes from God and that staying humble and putting God first no matter what is the most important thing in life by far.” Duboc and her daughter were able to come full circle as they recorded the compelling track together. The lyrics to the inspiring album opener state “Open the curtains, let us hear your voice … as long as it is your choice!”

Monday, August 08, 2016

Vocalist Allison Adams Tucker Documents a Travel Memoir Through Song on WANDERlust - Available August 19 on Origin Records


Fascinated from an early age by the diversity of the world's languages and cultures, vocalist Allison Adams Tucker offers a travel memoir in song on her third album, WANDERlust. Tucker sings in six languages on the album, which vividly captures the yearning of the inveterate travel for the romance and adventure of experiencing far-flung corners of the globe.

Recorded in New York City under the direction of award-winning producer Matt Pierson (Brad Mehldau, Becca Stevens, Joshua Redman, Jane Monheit), WANDERlust features a stunning all-star ensemble that not only bridges west and east coasts but adds flavors from around the world. The singer and her longtime pianist Josh Nelson are joined by New York jazz heavy-hitters Chris Potter, Matt Moreno, Scott Colley and Antonio Sánchez, along with percussionist Rogério Boccato and guitarist Romero Lubambo (both from Brazil) and French guitarist Stéphane Wrembel.

Tucker's versatility is remarkable not only for her ability to sing in a half-dozen different languages but to weave entrancing and expressive stories in each of them. Regardless of whether the listener understands English, French, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish and Japanese, the emotion of every word is crystal clear thanks to Tucker's lucent articulation and supple, silken phrasing.

"I'm fascinated with foreign cultures and languages, foreign communities and foreign ways of thinking," Tucker says, the yen to move and explore obvious into her voice. "WANDERlust is all about the longing to experience things outside your own backyard. Music can open you up to a culture in an authentic way; it's usually the thing that connects me with people."
Photo by James DiPietro
Growing up in the border city of San Diego, Tucker was exposed to intermingling cultures from an early age. While still in kindergarten, a Spanish-language children's book suddenly brought to light the fact that people in different places spoke different languages, and the desire to explore those far-off places was ignited within her. "It was an epiphany for a five year-old child that there was another world out there that was very different than mine and had all these different ways to communicate," she recalls.

That same year she began taking Spanish lessons, a study she continued through her college years in Indiana, while at the same time that she was touring the Midwest with a new wave cover band. Tucker majored in linguistics with a minor in music, maintaining both passions. She began traveling after graduation, visiting Jamaica, Australia and New Zealand and living for a time in both Japan and Spain. "I got bitten by the travel bug and wanted to see as much of the world as I could," she says. "I decided to bring into my repertoire all of the music that I'd learned on my travels and start exploring other cultures of music, and I've been building on it since."

Having sung a wide spectrum of styles, from a cappella Elizabethan madrigals to punk rock to country to commercial jingles, Tucker found the most natural fit to be jazz. The genre's freedom of expression and intellectual tilt were both appealing, as was its openness to absorb styles and accents from throughout the vocalists travels. The songs on WANDERlust are musical postcards from distant points of interest, from Rome to Paris to Takeda, Japan--and even destinations that exist purely in the mind's eye.

The album kicks off with Tucker's sprightly, samba-tinged take on "When in Rome (I Do As the Romans Do)," Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh's wry celebration of taking a vacation from strict fidelity. The passion goes from casual to heated on Astor Piazzolla's "Vuelvo Al Sur," a sultry tango about returning home to a native land and a distant lover.

Longing can be a state of mind as well as a state of being, a feeling captured by Christina Perri's "A Thousand Years," originally penned for the soundtrack of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn. The same notion is expressed by "Pure Imagination," an ode to the places we dream about from Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley's score for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Lubambo and Boccato provide the properly breezy Brazilian atmosphere for Antonio Carlos Jobim's classic "Águas de Março," a song from one of the few places remaining on Tucker's bucket list of dream destinations. Ennio Morricone's title song from Cinema Paradiso follows, its sweeping Italian romanticism leading into the wistful French chanson "Sous le ciel de Paris," best known from Edith Piaf's rendition.

"Mediterráneo," by the influential Spanish singer-songwriter Joan Manuel Serrat, marks our departure from European shores, leading to Tucker's mesmerizing version of the traditional Japanese "Takeda Lullaby." The album's theme is expressed via the otherworldly melodies of Björk's "Wanderlust." Tucker leaves off with the optimistic promise of journeys to come with Pat Metheny's "Better Days Ahead," highlighted by lively solos from Potter and Moreno and a thrilling dance pairing Boccato and Tucker.

Tucker's vocal and geographic range has already taken her to unimaginable places, from touring Japan, Europe, Mexico, and the US, to singing French jazz on the soundtrack to the WWII-set video game "The Saboteur." WANDERlust is a rich and gorgeous souvenir of a life's travels and experiences.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Dee Bridgewater, Pamela Williams headline the Palm Springs Women's Jazz Festival


Over the past four years one of the most impressive aspects of the Palm Springs Women’s Jazz Festival has been the gathering of the Jazz All-Star musicians and artists performing throughout the weekend.
Over 20 of today’s jazz greats and rising-stars will gather for the Labor Day Weekend, September 2 – 4, to perform at the Annenberg Theater, Indian Canyons Golf Resort and Hard Rock Hotel.
Recently honored by the City of Los Angeles with a Living Jazz Legend Award,Sweet Baby J’ai brings a wealth of experience and focus to her role as the Festival’s Artistic Director. She is celebrated for her creative and daring programming. SBJ’s penchant for paring the world’s most visible jazz artists with top-notch female musicians from around the country for a multi-day festival makes for many delightful surprises and musical discoveries for audiences and performers alike.

“We have crafted a collection of extraordinary musicians merging jazz, blues and funk who will descend on Palm Springs over the Labor Day Weekend for a compelling musical tapestry,” said Sweet Baby J’ai.
Many of the all-stars have albums of their own as well an impressive list of artists that they have performed with both live and in-studio. Their lists includes John Legend, Eric Benet, Jackson Browne, Don Was, Christopher Cross, Jim Keltner, Kenny Barron, Lizz Wright, Tia Fuller, Terri Lyne Carrington, The Rippingtons, Nick Colionne, Chuck Loeb, Karen Briggs, Four80East, David Sanborn, Bob James, Stanley Clarke, Michael Sembello, Richard Perry, Chuck Berghofer, Tierney Sutton, Marilyn McCoo and Thelma Houston.

Joining headliners Dee Dee Bridgewater and Ann Hampton Callaway, here is a quick view of the artists who are the backbone of the 2016 Palm Springs Women’s Jazz Festival:
Sweet Baby J’ai: Vocals and musician. Few entertainers can command a stage like the indefatigable Sweet Baby J’ai.  A creative force on the music scene for nearly three decades, she tours the world with her genre defying work, which both embraces and expands jazz tradition. Her latest album is Straight to the Place.

Sabine Pothier: Pianist-Composer. Widely respected as an award-winning classical pianist in the United States and Europe, and also respected greatly as a major jazz pianist from her work with Scotty Barnhart Quintet (Barnhart is also Director of Count Basie Orchestra) at the San Jose Jazz Festival, Idyllwild Jazz in the Pines and other venues.

Sherry Luchette: Bass. She has performed with Downbeat Award-winning Jazz Ensemble 1 Youngstown State for five years, the Youngstown Symphony for three years, Ernie Andrews, David Sanborn, Louie Bellson, David Baker, and Terry Gibbs. She has also played/studied with John Clayton, Tamir Hendelman and Joe Harnell.

Paula Atherton: Sax, vocals, recording artist and songwriter. Atherton is noted for a one-week gig at New York’s Blue Note with Hank Jones. Her most recent album is Ear Candy.
Mimi Jones: Double bass, vocals, educator, composer and Jazz Ambassador. This multitalented performer mixes fusion of traditional and contemporary jazz, eclectic soul, funk, and rock. Her recent release CD isFeet In The Mud.

Tina Raymond: Drummer. She has played in jazz festivals around the world, including Sweden’s Women in Jazz Festival and The Mary Lou Williams Festival, and is known for pushing musical boundaries by blending traditional jazz with African polyrhythms and classical percussion techniques.

Pam Trotter: Vocalist. Trotter is known for her performances in musicals such as Dream Girls and The Color Purple. She is also a songwriter/producer for the late Teena Marie.
Sunnie Paxson: Keyboards. A musical prodigy in her hometown of Philadelphia, she was selected as Los Angeles' Best Jazz Performers in Los Angeles Magazine and listed in Jazz Week as one of the Top 100 Artists for radio spins. Albums include Groove Suite and Bohemian Sun.

Karen Hammack: Piano, singer/songwriter, jazz composer. As Musical Director, Hammack has toured with Melissa Manchester and recorded with a slew of jazz and rock heavy hitters. She’s also an educator who has worked with trumpeter Bobby Rodriguez’s Jazz Adventure to introduce jazz to a new generation across Southern California.

Linda Taylor: Guitar. She has toured, recorded, and/or performed with Tracy Chapman, Maia Sharp, Terri Lyne Carrington, Christopher Cross, and Sheila E. Her two solo albums are Pulse and Sum Blues.

Sascha Dupont: Songwriter, piano/vocalist. Dupont has racked up more than 80 television appearances and four albums in her native Denmark. Her most recent release is Sascha D.
Cathy Segal-Garcia: Vocalist. For more than 40 years, Segal-Garcia has used her influence to build up and connect every aspect of the jazz scene in L.A. At the Divas Jazz Brunch, she’ll dip back to the 1950s for the jazz standards and torch songs performed by Julie London.

Lesa Terry: Violin. Terry has recorded with a wide range of artists including Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenour, Yolanda Adams, Aretha Franklin and Clark Terry. Her solo album is called A City Called Heaven.

Jane Getz: Piano. Getz has worked with a Who's Who of jazz during her eight years in New York, most notably with Charles Mingus, Stan Getz (unrelated), Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Charles Lloyd, and Pharoah Sanders (with whom she recorded for ESP).

Rosalia de Cuba: Vocalist. Afro-Cuban jazz and world music are de Cuba’s forte. She’ll bring her power vocals, reminiscent of Shirley Bassey and Celia Cruz to the music of Elena Burke for the brunch. 

Chelsea Stevens: Bass. She recently graduated with a degree in Jazz Bass Performance from California State University, Long Beach, where she was part of both of the university’s Downbeat award-winning ensembles: vocal jazz group Pacific Standard Time, and the instrumental department's Concert Jazz Orchestra. You may recognize her from her work as a bassist on TV shows like Glee.

Gennine Jackson: Vocalist. Jackson plays clubs here in the Coachella Valley. She joins Saxtress Pamela Williams for the Cool Soul Jam at the Indian Canyon Golf Resort for the Saturday afternoon concert.

Maria Martinez: Drums. A Drumming diva, she was featured drummer on Sweet Baby J’ai’s album Introducing J’ai Michel.

Carol Chaikin: She attended the Berklee School Of Music and, starting in 1977, became artist-in-residence at the Aspen Music Festival for six years. She was a member of Maiden Voyage (1980-84) and has two solo albums.

These artists and more are part of the multi-day music festival featuring an all female line up taking place September 2-4, 2016.

The Palm Springs Women’s Jazz Festival is a non-profit 501c3 founded to promote women in jazz through education and events. Since 2013, the festival has hosted over 100 jazz musicians and performers, bringing a worldwide audience of jazz fans to Palm Springs. For Information on the Palm Springs Women’s Jazz Festival, go to www.palmsspringswomensjazzfestival.org or call 760.416.3545.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Brazilian Songstress Kenia Reunites Members of Her First Band After Nearly Two Decades with On We Go - Available August 12


For many jazz fans in the 1980s and '90s, Kenia's singing was the gateway to contemporary Brazilian jazz and pop. She stood out from her compatriots because of her intimate, smooth vocals-subtle yet soulful-and her finesse with both American standards and Brazilian material. On We Go will entice a new generation of listeners, as it showcases Kenia at the top of her form with a seductive, polished vocal phrasing. The intriguing repertoire includes songs co-written by Kenia and the Brazilian songwriting legends Ivan Lins and Antonio Adolfo.

The singer, born Kenia Acioly, grew up in Rio de Janeiro and moved to the U.S. in 1980. She made her recording debut as the featured vocalist on trumpeter Claudio Roditi's Red on Red, produced by the legendary Creed Taylor, the producer of "Desafinado" and "The Girl from Ipanema." Kenia established herself as one of the most popular Brazilian vocalists in the U.S. with her MCA solo debut Initial Thrill (1987) and Distant Horizon (1988), both of which gained substantial radio airplay, and were followed by well-received albums with Denon. On these releases, Kenia sang in English and Portuguese and freely mixed composers like Harold Arlen and Stevie Wonder, Djavan and Toninho Horta.

On We Go boasts standards by big names (Gershwin, Lennon and McCartney), works by lesser known contemporary composers (Romero Lubambo, Luis Simas and others) and songs written for Kenia by Adolfo and Lins.

Paul Socolow plays bass and Mark Soskin handles keyboards on the new album, with Sandro Albert on guitar, Lucas Ashby on percussion and Adriano Santos on drums. Guitarist Romero Lubambo and harmonicist Hendrik Meurkens make notable guest appearances.

The album came about, recalls Kenia, when she "reconnected with Socolow and Soskin, who were the original members of my very first band, Pau-Brazil, and played on her first two albums. When we met again after nearly two decades, it just felt so right that I couldn't resist the urge to do another project with them."

The album opens with Eric Susoeff's upbeat samba "On We Go," which Kenia recorded previously with Susoeff's band Salsamba in vocalese form. For lyrics, "I reached out to the great lyricist Lorraine Feather," says Kenia. A hip, jazzy version of George Gershwin's "Summertime" follows, with adroit vocalese by Kenia.
         
About "Que Amor É Esse (What Love is This?)," Kenia comments, "Antonio Adolfo and I have been friends for many years and I asked if he would write the music for my lyrics," and the result is a lovely, slow love song. The singer's wordless vocals enliven "Melancia (Watermelon)," a breezy, uplifting composition written and arranged by Rique Pantoja, a co-founder of the seminal Brazilian fusion band Cama de Gato.
         
Kenia also contributed the lyrics for two songs by the famed singer-songwriter Ivan Lins. "Closer to Me" ("Mudança de Ventos" originally) is in the bossa nova style, with a beautiful intro by Meurkens. She notes, "I love the melancholic yet sensual sound of his harmonica-perfect for this song." And about Lins's "Illusion," Kenia comments, I asked Ivan (Lins) if he would write a song for me and he shared this jewel."
         
"Pra Quê Que Inventaram a Bahia (Why Did They Invent Bahia?)" is a lively samba by Luiz Simas with a Dorival Caymmi flavor, guaranteed to fill the dance floor. It is followed by Aloisio Aguiar's sweet ballad "Coming Home," co-written with Kenia, and Adolfo's global standard, "Pretty World (Sá Marina)," which has the tasty musical accompaniment characteristic of the whole album. "For Donato," written by Romero Lubambo, is a lively, high-energy tribute to the brilliant composer-pianist João Donato, a huge influence on Brazilian jazz musicians.
"Zureta," also by Simas, starts with a nimble lyrical melody by Kenia that shifts into jazz-edged forró, a style from Brazil's Northeast. The album closes with a soft acoustic version of the Beatles' "Nowhere Man." It is a little surprising yet soothing and pleasing to the ear, like the other songs on On We Go. Once again, the vocalist has bridged jazz, international pop and Brazilian music and done so effortlessly, in one of her best works to date.