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JAZZ FM AWARDS 2019 - NOMINEES ANNOUNCED

Saturday, 16 February 2019 09:27 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

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The nominees for this  year's much-anticipated JAZZ FM awards, due to take place on International Jazz Day, on Thursday April 30th in London's Shoreditch Town Hall, have just been announced and recognise the idiom's rising stars and its contemporary trendsetters as well as the iconic trailblazers.

Those nominated range from true giants, like jazz legend John Coltrane, whose album 'Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album,' stormed into the UK Top 40 album charts last year, and octogenarian saxophone guru, Wayne Shorter, whose 'Emanon' album - a contender in the Album Of The Year category - has just picked up a Grammy award. Also nominated from the USA are saxophonist Kamasi Washington,  veteran blues maven, Eric Bibb, jazz sage, Charles Lloyd, soul singers, Leon Bridges and Jose James, and rising drummer/composer, Makaya McCraven.

As always, the Jazz FM Awards, despite  being international in its scope , also has a strong British flavour, reflected by the presence of Biriths jazz acts, Sons Of Kemet along with Nubya GarciaEmma Jean-Thackray, Joe Armon-JonesMoses BoydCamilla George, Cassie Kinoshi, Ian Shaw and Rob Luft.  

Hosting the Awards Ceremony with Jez Nelson is Jazz FM’s Head of Music and broadcaster, Chris Philips, who says:“This year’s Jazz FM Award nominees list reflects another tremendous year of growth and interest in the music. In particular it’s fantastic to see some of our formerly recognised emerging talent like Nubya Garcia and Shabaka Hutchings sharing nominations with some of the world’s best, testament indeed to a vibrant and strengthening jazz community and industry here in the UK.”

You can have your say by taking part in the public vote here - www.jazzfmawards.com - but you'll have to hurry because the  closing date is on Monday 12th March 2019.

Last Updated on Saturday, 16 February 2019 16:42

 

SOFTLY, SOFTLY....

Friday, 15 February 2019 19:36 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altLast October we were introduced to yet another member of the formidable Winans clan. Artist in question was the sweet voiced CARVIN WINANS and our introduction came via a big, contemporary soul groove, 'Once In A Lifetime'. The track, deservedly, topped all the credible soul charts and we were told that the cut's parent album was "on its way". Well, it's almost here. Carvin's people tell us that the long player, 'In The Softest Way' is nearly with us... indeed, it's ready to pre-order.

The great news is that the 11 tracker offers plenty more modern soul excellence. 'Once In A Lifetime' was a great dance groove (produced by The Jackie Boys who anoraks will know from their work with Charlie Wilson and those great, recent Wilson cuts were the template) and if you want more of the same there's a beefy 'So Watcha Got'.

But 'In The Softest Way's' treasure are in the ballads and slow jams and amongst the best is 'If You Only Knew My Heart' – enhanced by some haunting harmonica work from someone called Stevie Wonder! Also on the guest list is brother Marvin who joins Carvin on the steady 'Ready To Love You' while Kenny G add his distinctive sax sound to the album's title cut.

Right now our favourite track is the lush 'You Blow My Mind' and like most of the songs here its sentiment and message can be seen in either a secular or gospel context. Hardly surprising, given Carvin's background. For the past 30 years he's worked the gospel circuit with his brothers Marvin, Michael and Ronald and he's also written hits for people like Whitney Houston, Regina Belle and Peabo Bryson.

CARVIN WINANS; 'In The Softest Way' available to pre-order now.

Last Updated on Friday, 15 February 2019 19:55

 

CHOCOLATE SOUL...

Friday, 15 February 2019 19:33 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altIt was back in September 2017 that we first became aware of LA's PHILLIP BRANDON ... a new-ish kid on the soul block with a fine pedigree (Phillip Sr was a jazz buff while mother Brenda was a member of Ray Charles' legendary Raelets).

We got to know Phillip via his Preston Glass-produced album, 'The Story Begins' ... a set that had some commentators making comparison with early Gregory Porter. Amongst the album highlights were the  album title cut, the gentle 'Stay In The Moment '(a duet with his mother) and 'Chocolate Child'. This uplifting latter referenced messages voiced by pioneers like Oscar Brown Jr, Donny Hathaway and Curtis Mayfield and is still winning radio plays, so much so that the track is being presented as a single and can be investigated at your favourite download portal.

Last Updated on Friday, 15 February 2019 19:56

 

HORN OF PLENTY - Randy Brecker Talks About Big Bands, Reminiscences About Art Blakey, And Recalls How The Brecker Brothers Sprang From A Solo Project.

Friday, 15 February 2019 15:26 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

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"Music is a mystery," laughs the Philly horn maestro Randy Brecker, talking to me from deepest Germany. Given that he's been playing the trumpet for 65 years, since he was eight, and is revered as a master of his chosen instrument, that might seem like a curious thing to say, but Brecker is in a philosophical mood and reveals that musicians, even great ones like him, are not robots or automatons. Even they have their off days. Though he has appeared on hundreds of recordings - from albums by jazz greats such as  Horace Silver and Stanley Turrentine to rock stars Lou Reed and Aerosmith - he confesses that he has endured times when his muse and ability to play his horn seemed to have deserted him altogether.

"Sometimes it feels great, but sometimes, like yesterday in the afternoon, for instance, I could barely play," discloses the 73-year-old, recalling a German jazz festival he performed at the day before this interview. "We were rehearsing and my chops felt terrible," he confides. "I had come from France and hadn't had any sleep so I got very nervous for the gig at night because I was so tired and in the dressing room I kept falling asleep." It got to the point where Brecker felt so bad that he felt he couldn't perform. "Right before the concert, I kept saying, 'I can't do this,' but then, lo and behold, we went out there on stage and it sounded great. My chops came to life. I could play anything and the band, the Cologne funkateers with whom we had just briefly rehearsed, sounded great."

Perhaps it's not so much that music is a mystery, then, but that its creators, human beings, are a mystery. But there's nothing remotely mysterious about Randy Brecker's long and illustrious career, which has brought him numerous accolades and a Grammy award. He was a child prodigy who was born into a music-obsessed Philadelphia family. Raised on jazz, he rose to become one of the most accomplished trumpeters of his generation. As a young man, in the late '60s he played in the big bands of Mel Lewis & Thad Jones, Clark Terry and Duke Pearson before enjoying stints in the Horace Silver Quintet and Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. His career began just as hard bop was being eclipsed by jazz-rock but he made the transition to the new and exciting fusion genre via the groundbreaking group, Dreams, with whom he recorded two LPs. After that, plenty of session work kept him busy and then in the mid 70s, he led the Brecker Brothers, alongside his saxophone-playing brother, Michael, and altoist, David Sanborn. The group's distinctive brand of brassy jazz-funk led to a US hit single ('Sneaking In The Back') and six albums for Arista Records between 1975 and 1981. Although Brecker had released his debut solo album as far back as 1969 for the Solid State label - it was called 'Score' and produced by Blue Note stalwart, Duke Pearson - he didn't resume his solo career until almost twenty years later, in 1987.

Since then, Brecker has released solo albums at regular junctures - his 1997 LP, 'Into The Sun,' won him a Grammy - and now he is just about to unleash a new project recorded in tandem with Germany's NDR  big band. It's called 'Rocks' and features his saxophone-playing wife, Ava Rovatti, as well as saxophone legend, David Sanborn. In an exclusive interview with SJF's Charles Waring, Randy Brecker shed light on his new venture and talked at length about his storied career...

Last Updated on Friday, 15 February 2019 19:53

 

O’JAYS NEW (AND FINAL?) ALBUM....

Wednesday, 13 February 2019 20:46 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altLast Autumn, out of nowhere, it seemed, the legendary O'JAYS (now made up of Eddie Levert, Walter Williams, and Eric Nolan Grant,) announced that in 2020 they would retire from the music biz. The announcement came with the release of the single 'Above The Law' - a tough, hard hitting throwback to their socially conscious music of the 70s.

We were told that the single was from an upcoming new long player... and, alleluia!, the release of the album has been confirmed for April. Confirming their retirement, the LP is to be called 'The Last Word' and as a taster, the trio have just released a new single. The delicious hors d'oeuvre is a wonderful 'I Got You' - another reminder of the great days of Philly – this time the lush. smooth and sophisticated sound of what Gamble and Huff and their team did best! It's a corker and could be no one else but the O'Jays!

Anoraks will be delighted to know that 'I Got You' (along with other album tracks) was produced by Betty Wright.

THE O'JAYS ; 'The Last Word' released April 19th via S-Curve Records/ BMG

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 February 2019 20:54

 

    

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