April 29th, 2007
Edition #442 Previously Next
Don't Get No Better - Lamb & Meyer:
Taking time from their rolls as support musicians, Patrick Lamb and Patsy Meyer collaborate to give us one of the finer independent releases of the season. Portland, Oregon-based Lamb tours and performs as part of two headlining acts - with Grammy-winning singer Diane Schuur and with legendary R&B vocalist Bobby Caldwell. Meanwhile Patsy Meyer has toured with Patti Austin and Peabo Bryson, and currently backs Norman Brown on percussion & vocals. A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Lamb began playing tenor sax in rural roadhouses as a teen - initially vocalists such as James Brown, Stevie Wonder, and Ray Charles were highly influential while the sax stylings of Wilton Felder of the Crusaders proved particularly inspirational. The Lamb family relocated to Portland in the 80s, where Patrick refined his technique while combining alto and soprano sax and vocals with his skills on the tenor sax. Early on, he played with the noted keyboardist Tom Grant while shaping a career as a premier songwriter and performer.
|Lamb also contributed the stellar sax bits to the track Love Come Down by Shades of Soul - a Café Jazz fave in 2004 - in addition, he's issued a handful of projects under his own name. For her part, Patsy Meyer started her career in the Cincinnati area, singing her first choir solo at thirteen, and adding percussion to her repertoire in high school. While attending Morehead State University, Meyer performed as lead vocalist for their jazz ensemble and later toured the US with a Top-40 band. Returning to Cincinnati, Meyer forged a career as songwriter and performer, earning her recognition as "the finest female voice in the territory" as proclaimed by The Cincinnati Post. Now based in LA, the original concept for Don't Get No Better was to be a follow-up to Meyer's 98 solo debut. However, project producer and nine-time Emmy-award winner John Henry Kreitler proposed a partnership upon seeing Lamb perform. The result is an exceptional album featuring a vibrant mix of vocals & instrumentals, all of which makes Don't Get No Better stand out as one stellar debut - consequently it's now a pleasure to share many of its finer moments as part of our showcase feature. Our line-up begins with a funky ditty called Bon Voyage - guesting on the track are Grant Geissman on guitar, Gregg Karukas on keys & programming while Bill Cunliffe handles piano duties.|
Photo courtesy of
Kicking off our second hour is the understated elegance of You'll Never
Know - the exact same trio of guests contributing their talents to the
selection. Finally, for our finale, there's the current hit, the passionate
Hands of Passion - helping again is Gregg Karukas while Steve Madaio on
flügelhorn & Michael O'Neill on guitar highlight the track. Normally three
tracks and that would be it for the spotlight feature, however, as an
added bonus we've included Without Your Love - this time it's Herman Jackson
on keys, with Nathan East on bass and Paul Jackson Jr. on guitar. Nevertheless,
it's Lamb & Meyer this time duetting on vocals that make this piece a
winner! In so far as exciting new projects attempting to crack the smooth
jazz barrier, the title of the album sums it all up quite nicely - it
Don't Get No Better by Patrick Lamb & Patsy Meyer!
CD: Don't Get No Better
Label: Bluehour Records
Site: P.Lamb ; P.Meyer
|Back Trax: Part One|
The Matador & The Maiden - Pamela Williams:
Since she broke on to the smooth scene, we've been raving about "The First Lady of Sax", believing Pamela Williams to be one of the most accessible, not to mention one of today's most talented sax players - irrespective of gender! Although she had moved to LA in 1989, it was her youth spent in Philadelphia, which proved most influential to Ms Williams' musical identity. In particular, she sites Grover Washington Jr.'s style as crucial to the development of her emerging creative personality. Williams had been a devotee of soul and R&B since childhood until Grover's progressive blend first ignited Williams' interest in jazz as a teen. For today's feature we've chosen a selection upon which Pam clearly displays her connection to Grover & his sound - from 1996 and her debut we give you The First Lady of Sax with The Matador & The Maiden.
CD: Saxtress (1996)
Label: Heads Up International
Site: Pamela Williams
- Les Sabler:
Born and raised in Montreal, Canada, Sabler graduated as a jazz major from Concordia University before his family relocated to Florida's West Coast in 1978. Continuing his studies at the University Of Miami, Sabler turned professional soon after and in 1989, he was commissioned to compose and produce a soundtrack for the documentary Lost Treasures of the Titanic for Canadian TV. Although music wasn't initially his full time gig, it was definitely his full time passion so that in the 90s, Sabler had a pair of releases - each of which gained considerable airplay in the US. Since then Sabler went on to issue Bridge the Gap, which in addition to its remarkable staying power, has proved to be one of the most popular projects ever from a Canadian artist. I'm pleased to say we may have had a small hand in that success as The Café broke the sound of the Bridge the Gap up here in Canada back early in 2003. Now 4 years later, Les has a brand new album in the works with a release date that is imminent, but in the meantime, we're returning to 1995 and Time for Love, Sabler's sophomore smooth jazz / fusion effort. From that cd, we have a track upon which Les plays all the instruments and the very track that first got me hooked on the sounds of Les Sabler!
CD: Time for Love (1995)
Label: Vision Records
Site: Les Sabler
|Back Trax: Part Two|
- Bluezeum (featuring Adwin Brown):
Released in 1996, Adwin Brown's debut album as Bluezeum was particularly well received in Europe, reaching #6 on the German charts - upon which Brown enlisted the expertise of Grammy award-winning producer Rick Hahn for Put Your Mind on Hold, his follow up effort. Both albums were issued on Telarc, a label well known for its catalogue of jazz & classical recordings, and, as such, it comes as a bit of a surprise to the uninitiated - including yours truly - to find both projects heavily draped in funk and rap. In spite of this fact, Brown chose to close the latter disc with an instrumental. Although a somewhat uninspiring vocal version of the track appears earlier on the disc, when stripped of its oral trappings, the selection morphs into a glorious jazz and funk-flavoured bluesy brew!
CD: Put Your Mind on Hold (1999)
- Chris Botti:
A native of Portland Oregon, Chris Botti grew up in the nearby town of Corvallis, located about a 90-minute drive away. His mother, who had trained classically as a pianist and who taught piano part-time, became his earliest musical influence. Nevertheless, at the age of ten the trumpet became Botti's instrument of choice. As a teen, he found inspiration in the music of Miles Davis and began performing professionally while still in high school. After a time in the music program at Indiana University, Botti relocated to New York in 1986 where, upon serving with straight-ahead players such as Woody Shaw and with the guidance of a few topflight producers such as Arif Mardin, he developed into a highly regarded sessionist. He lent his horn to recordings by Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, and others, before being enlisted for Paul Simon's touring band. Beginning in 1990, Botti toured with Simon for a five-year period, so that it wasn't until 1995 that he finally got around to recording his solo debut.
Although Botti's next couple of releases were received well enough, his two-year gig with Sting raised his profile substantially. His subsequent project entitled Night Sessions climbed to # 2 while, When I Fall In Love, catapulted to # 1, after he was discovered by Oprah Winfrey, who quickly championed his artistry. He's gone on to become one of smooth jazz's most popular and most recognized performers. However, on this occasion, we return to Botti's First Wish debut and it's title track, where he first presented his interpretation of pop melodies uniquely married to the atmospheric qualities of jazz.
CD: First Wish (1995)
Label: Polygram Records
Site: Chris Botti
|| Ocean - Monica Ramos:
World-renowned on her chosen instrument, Monica Ramos released three albums in the 90s thru until the new millennium. In spite of being classically trained, or perhaps because of it, Ramos helped in deconstructing many of the barriers traditionally associated with the harp.
A 1995 graduate of Sweden's Royal Academy of Music, Ramos played as a member of the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. She began pioneering her contemporary approach to the harp back in about 1993, around the time of her debut release. However, it wasn't until her 1997 sophomore project that Ms Ramos elevated the staid device to genre-busting status. On the release entitled Moai, so named for the Easter Island monolithic stone sculptures off the coast of her native Chile "Ramos and her deft fingering are unexpectedly married with thick synthesized dance grooves, chunky beats, elegant classical guitar, and melodic violin harmonies. The result is highly unusual, graceful, and soothingly funky." * From that release, we're featuring the heady electro-acoustic groove of a track called Ocean!
* As reviewed by Paige La Grone on Amazon.com.
CD: Moai (1997)
Label: Climate Music
Site: Monica Ramos
|After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Site and Select Affiliates :|
Part 1: New Music
On this edition, our focus is new music as we present 14 absolutely brand new and never-before-been-played on our show tracks - here's a quick run down of what you'll be hearing. We're getting into the latest from Keiko Matsui and Jeff Lorber. We be digging the new one from Randy Crawford and Joe Sample. There's a bit more from Lao Tizer as well as from the band Outta Nowhere as we explore each of their releases. Keyboardist Nate Harasim is on the show - first time for him. There's the latest from Anna Wilson and brand new to our show are Kelly Sweet and James PJ Spraggins. Jeff Golub is here; we're introducing saxman Keyan Williams and we've gone back to the album from Nils for another great track; additionally, there's the latest single from Paul Taylor and his forthcoming cd. In the meantime, we begin the latest single from Ray Parker Jr. and the I'm Free cd!
Part 2: The Top 10 Albums ...
Our second installment for 2007 features a selection from each of the top 10 albums for the week of April 23rd as compiled by smoothjazz.com - but with our our unique Café Jazz twist!
Artist, Album, & Track
#10.Rick Braun: Yours Truly - All Around The World
#9.Norman Brown: Stay With Me - Let's Take A Ride
#8.Wayman Tisdale: Way Up - It's A Good Day
#7.Chuck Loeb: Presence - Hangin' With You
#6.Jeff Golub: Grand Central - Hello Betty
#5.Jonathan Butler: Forever, For Always, For Luther Volume II - Don't Want To Be A Fool
#4.Boney James: Shine - Let It Go
#3.Peter White: Playin' Favorites - The Look of Love
#2.Walter Beasley: Ready For Love - Land of the Sun
#1.Paul Brown: White Sand - Ol' Skoolin'