Thursday, 21 November 2019 19:31 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altLUCKY CHOPS bill themselves as "New York's premier brass funk band".... well on the evidence of their debut, eponymous LP, they certainly are brassy and funky – but we'll let you decide for yourselves their status in the world of US brass funk bands!

Lucky Chops, we're told is an essentially a quintet, though my copy lists eight players – so I guess some are, well, guesting. The band first came to the fore via a series of inventive cover songs that have amassed millions of plays via Spotify and other platforms. The most famous one was a mash up of Lipps Inc's 'Funky Town' and James Brown's 'I Got You'. Now you can enjoy their quirky sounds via a whole 11 track album. The lead single is a shifty, boppy 'Traveller' that fully captures the way Lucky Chops meld sounds and genres into something quiet unique. You can check the video to get the flavour... album, single and video out now!

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 November 2019 19:49



Wednesday, 20 November 2019 20:47 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altChart anoraks will have noticed that an album currently doing very well on the US soul charts is 'Ride' from THE BILL HENRY BAND. Sadly we don't know too much about "the Bill Henry Band" save that they formed in 2016, in Pittsburgh and right now they are the "Steel City's" preeminent live R&B act regularly selling out performances, with a loyal fan base that eagerly attends their regular outings at local venues Rivers Casino and the Savoy.

The album's lead single is the smooth and catchy 'Slow Down' and its commercial appeal reminds me of what "beach music" is all about. Now my US geographical knowledge isn't that good but I'm pretty sure that Pittsburgh is a good way away from the Carolina beaches... but if you know beach music, you'll understand what I'm talking about. It's smooth, it's poppy, it's optimistic and, above all else, it synthesises the best of commercial soul with a very contemporary edge and that's the sound of the Bill Henry Band.

'Slow Down' is a strong tune, but the LP's title track is even stronger, but across this ten tracker there's nothing not to like... it's out now



Wednesday, 20 November 2019 20:44 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altThirty years ago long before green issues, climate change and deforestation became big issues, jazz keyboardist Merl Saunders saw for himself the impact that the destruction of the Amazonian rainforest was starting to have. He teamed up with the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia to create the LP 'Blues From The Rainforest'. They described their suite as "environmental earth music" and it drew much needed attention to the issue. Now, Merl's son, bassist Tony Saunders is following his father's work with the release of 'Peace To The Planet' credited to Tony's group, THE RAINFOREST BAND.

Tony says: "The rainforests around the world are disappearing at an alarming rate. This band has three strong souls as leaders and our mission is to bring awareness with our music to a cause that needs vigilant attention!" Those "strong souls" are, of course, bassist Saunders, guitarist Vernon" Ice" Black and keyboardist Sylvester. Black has co-produced the album with Ron Umile, boss of San Francisco Records – the issuing label. Amongst the other player on 'Peace To The Planet' are chart-topping saxophonist Jeff Ryan, noted keyboardist Gail Jhonson, drummer Austin White and percussionist Maquinto Brasil. It's Ryan's soulful sax that starts proceedings, leading on the big opener, 'S I Z'... shades of Ernie Watts and David Sanborn. That thunderous tune, though, isn't representative of the LP's overall mood which is much more gentle and reflective. Indeed Umile says that the music is intended to install calmness for a minute to allow reflection on how we can do our part to be part of the solution". Tracks like 'One More Time', 'Reflections' and the quite lovely 'Just Before Sunrise' create that introspective mood for sure. And to remind us about the specific problems of Amazonia, 'Verano Dias' is the album's big Latin moment... think Charlie Byrd and/or Earl Klugh.

'Peace To The Planet' is out now on San Francisco Records and, admirably, a portion of the proceeds from "Peace To The Planet" album sales will go to The Jerry Garcia Foundation and Rainforest Action Network.

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 November 2019 15:20



Wednesday, 20 November 2019 20:40 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altUS soulstress SUMMER DENNIS fronts an outfit called Rhymes, (essentially a duo... Ms Dennis and Bill Moore) and they're busy right now promoting their new LP 'Second Summer'. We're told that Summer is classically trained but you wouldn't know it as she tears through some raucous, raw, organic soul... certainly she takes no prisoners!

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 November 2019 15:25


Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2020 - First Wave Of Headline Acts Announced

Wednesday, 20 November 2019 08:31 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

                    altNow regarded as something of a UK jazz institution and recognised as one of Europe's premier jazz events, the annual Cheltenham Jazz Festival returns in May 2020 for another six days of great music.  The organisers have just announced some of the headline acts for next year, which include Brazilian singer, Bebel Gilberto; Malian Afro-pop duo, Amadou and Mariam; legendary veteran gospel group, The Blind Boys Of Alabama; and a newly-formed jazz trio comprised of ex-Miles Davis saxophonist Dave Liebman, trumpeter Randy Brecker, and pianist Marc Copland.

Says Dave Gaydon, the festival's Head of Programming: “I am thrilled to be taking on the programming of this incredible Festival at such a genuinely exciting time for jazz music. We are really spoilt for choice with the huge wealth and breadth of amazing new talent and to be able to present these young artists alongside the jazz legends that Cheltenham is so well known for is a fantastic opportunity. 2020 will see some brilliant and unique collaborations, and as always, we will be championing new talent through our year-round commitment to engaging Gloucestershire’s fine young musicians.”

Located in the spa town's Montpellier Gardens, the festival will run from Tuesday 5th to Sunday 10th May 2020.

Tickets will go on sale to Cheltenham Festivals Members at 1pm on Tuesday 26th November and to the general public at 1pm on 28th November:

The full Cheltenham Jazz Festival line-up will be announced on Wednesday 12th February. To be the first to hear Festival announcements, sign up at

For more info go to


Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 November 2019 16:55


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