For those who like a little mysticism and classical influence in their smooth jazz, Japanese-born composer and keyboardist Keiko Matsui has long been the ticket. She was Billboard's number one Independent Contemporary Jazz Artist in 1997 and is the top New Adult Contemporary female instrumentalist of her time. In the early days (she's up to 14 albums now), Matsui did it with a mix of thunderous film score-like sweeps, elegant and jazzy piano command, and a guest sax solo here and there to score some radio hits. On The Ring, she continues her recent trend of all those same elements and gorgeous melodies without concern for pop airplay considerations.
Due largely to the inclusion of trumpeter Ron Haynes – a one-time Donald Byrd protege – the fourth entry by Ramsey Lewis' smooth jazz supergroup is reminiscent of Byrd's seminal 1970s recordings. While merely hinting at Byrd's proto-disco inventions, Urban Knights IV is nonetheless a modern update of the trumpeter's work with the Blackbyrds. Although this album is nowhere near as funky as, say, Electric Byrd, it does come off grittier than many albums by Urban Knights' contemporaries.
Albums like this are why CD reissues exist and why Wounded Bird are so important. There are handfulls of classics from the jazz-funk-R&B world in the 70's and 80's that are definately lost classics and many with huge commercial potencial that never came close to getting it.Narada Michael Walden's 1982 date 'Confidance' is among them.
Friedemann made his first appearances in his native town, at the former Southwest Radio and Talentschuppen TV between 1967 and 1970. In 1979 he released his first album The Beginning of Hope in which musicians such as Wolfgang Dauner, Lenny MacDowell, Thomas Heidepriem and singer Anne Haigis participated.
Throughout Flora's Song, the veteran Brazilian singer Flora Purim is heard in prime form. The ten compositions fit her style well; she swings in her own fashion and puts plenty of feeling into her vocals. In addition, there are many fine solos along the way, with the standouts including Harvey Wainapel's flute solo on "Flora's Song" and the steel drums of Andy Narrell on "E Precisa Perdoar" and "Forbidden Love." Whether any of the songs eventually become standards is open to question, but they are welcome additions to Flora Purim's repertoire. This is her most rewarding recording in several years, and she sounds quite happy throughout the excellent set.
Most artists' idea of giving back to their communities involves some sort of charitable work or financial contribution. On Urban Knights III, legendary pianist Ramsey Lewis reaches deeper, forgoing the the all-star jam concepts of the first two Urban Knights projects (which featured everyone from the late Grover Washington, Jr. to producer Maurice White), and cultivating some of Chicago's most deserving local R&B and jazz talents. Most of the featured players have deals with Lewis' Ivory Pyramid Productions. These core band members consist of keyboardist Kevin Randolph, bassist Sharay Reed, drummer Calvin Rogers, and percussionist Alejo Poveda, as well as the all-female vocal group the Staples (cousins of the famed Staple Singers) and vocalists Tammi and Hardeman.
His previous album having seen the light of day only in the Land of the Rising Sun, so it’s been a long wait for the fans of former MAHAVISHNU prodigy to deliver a follow-up to 1988?s “Divine Emotion” – and looks like the veteran was quite cautious to do so now. This album is a revised version of 2012 “Thunder” that got expanded from its limited run to span all the facets of Narada’s talent and become his best work to date.
Legends is a wonderful LP by Eric Tingstad and Nancy Rumbel.