Resilient jazz singer Anna Danes finds her wings

anna danes

Resilient jazz singer Anna Danes finds her wings

Emboldened by her own recent diagnosis, the chanteuse aims to empower and educate others with “Find Your Wings,” set to take flight during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  

SAN DIEGO (24 August 2016): It was against all odds that Anna Danes found herself standing in Capitol Records Studio A, in front of the same microphone used by her role models, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, recording an a cappella song that she wrote for her sophomore album. In the dimly lit studio in the heart of Hollywood, the woman who escaped communist Poland as a child and overcame the pain and loneliness of a loveless marriage by discovering her voice just three years ago poured her broken heart into the intimate album closer, “I Love You,” as producer Dave Darling sat spellbound at the recording console. In the famed studio during sessions financed by selling a car, Danes shared her deeply personal tales of love and loss through the six acoustic jazz songs that she wrote for “Find Your Wings,” the DLG Records disc scheduled for release on October 14 that is completed by five standards and a stunning interpretation of blues singer Janiva Magness’ “When You Were My King.”

Late last month, as Danes plotted with her marketing and promotions team to gear up for the upcoming album release, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. True to the theme of “Find Your Wings,” the positive-minded vocalist faced her worst fears, saw the silver lining and penned a motivational blog, “Cancer Part 1: Vanity Saved My Life,” to help educate and encourage others facing their own health and personal challenges (http://www.annadanes.com/2016/07/31/cancer-part-1-vanity-saved-life/).

When Danes began the recording project that is slated to street during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, she had the desire to emulate the sound of a pair of jazz vocal albums from the esteemed duo of Tony Bennett and Bill Evans. Darling kept Danes’ captivating and expressive voice front and center in the mix using only sparse accompaniment from pianist Rich Ruttenberg, drummer John Ferraro and bassist Trey Henry. Blessed with a classic voice possessing charm, warmth, elegance and grace, Danes’ patient delivery and vocal phrasing uncoils with poise and complete control despite the vulnerability and intensity of her emotion-charged subject matter. Love is her ever-present muse on “Find Your Wings.” On originals, she sings a haunting melody on “The Voice,” pines hopefully on “See You In L.A.” and longs to see forever in the eyes of her lover on “Long Distance.” Among those she interprets from the Great American Songbook are Michel Legrand’s “I Will Wait For You,” Sammy Cahn’s “It’s Crazy” and Johnny Mercer’s “I Want To Be Around” while on the romantic duet “That’s All,” she takes enduring vows with Richard Shelton’s debonair tenor.

“I’m a very late bloomer in life. For the majority of my life, I’ve either had little confidence or have drafted off other people’s confidence and floated under their wings,” said Danes, who wrote the title track with Cindy Alexander. “Cindy asked me what I wanted to write about. I told her about my story post-separation and how I found my voice and confidence through music. Bam! That’s all that was needed to start the creative process. What was supposed to be a song about finding hope, turned into an anthem about finding yourself, your true purpose, your voice, your identity and so much more.”

Finding her voice has been life transforming for the former lawyer and stay-at-home mom who has called San Diego home for the past 16 years. Danes hopes to empower people to pursue their passions and dreams with the songs on “Find Your Wings,” which will also be the subject of her first book, personal growth products and motivational speeches on the corporate circuit. Via music, writing and speaking, Danes’ encouraging message is that by facing your fears – in health and any personal challenge – you can break out of your cage, find your wings and transform your life.  

Although she sang as a child in church after arriving in Sweden and settling in Canada after escaping Poland with her parents in 1979, Danes didn’t sing again until 2013 when her young daughter cried boredom and refused to participate at a vocal lesson. Since the lesson was already paid for, Danes stepped in. She released her debut album that same year, “Longing,” which was an extravagantly produced and elaborately-orchestrated collection of standards and modern pop tunes. Her love of jazz spawned the mission to bring more live jazz to the San Diego area through her own event production and promotion company, which produces the Jazz on Cedros series. For more information, please visit www.AnnaDanes.com.

“Find Your Wings” contains the following songs

“When You Were My King”

“I Will Wait For You”

“It’s Crazy”

“I Want To Be Around”/”Cry Me A River”

“Find Your Wings”

“That’s All”

“Long Distance”

“In The Wee Small Hours”

“See You In L.A.”

“Mr. OMG”

“The Voice”

“I Love You”

 

KEIKO MATSUI’S “JOURNEY TO THE HEART”

Pianist, humanitarian, and composer Keiko Matsui is celebrating her 30th anniversary of recording. Admittedly, for Keiko, it doesn’t feel like it has been that long. On August 5th, “Journey To The Heart” was released, and as of August 17th, debuted at #1 on Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts. Throughout the years, Keiko has always written from her heart and embraced what was relevant in her life at any particular time. She’s not only a brilliant musician; she is a humanitarian who makes it her business to shine a light on issues around the world. Her humble spirit can be felt in her music as well as her passion. Keiko states,”‘Journey To The Heart’ is my gift to my fans. I want to deliver the most beautiful and emotional experience.” Undoubtedly, she has once again conveyed her message. Each song has a personality of its own and tells its own story. “Journey To The Heart” arouses every human sense and emotion. Using an acoustic approach, Keiko created a whole new energy resembling change and a new life chapter. Narrowing down over 100 melodic ideas, Keiko takes listeners on a “Journey To The Heart” saying “my melodies are my living testimony.”

My friend and I talk about her incredible journey:

Keiko Matsui 3

 

LET’S “OPEN THE CURTAINS” WITH CAROL DUBOC

Carol Duboc encompasses an impeccable voice. However, she is also a composer, pianist, engineer, and producer. Carol has worked with some of the very best in music and has shown she is quite the force herself. Among peers, in the studio, and on stage, Carol is dynamite. Recently, Duboc released her eighth album titled “OPEN THE CURTAINS”–a title expressing the sentiments shared by her daughter Anna and herself. Why not “OPEN THE CURTAINS,” some may say? Through the music, Carol empowers women to step on out and know that you are important; just another poetic collection of songs stemming from her personal experiences and desire to rise above all circumstances. Carol enlisted girl power like no other to join her on this album. She called on colleagues Patrice Rushen, Sheila E., Bibi McGill, Queen Cora Coleman, Rhonda Smith, Aubrey Logan, and Mindi Abair. Having wrote seven songs on “OPEN THE CURTAINS,” she also wanted to highlight other female musicians that share her love for songwriting. So, she covered Patrice Rushen, of course, Peggy Lee, and Nina Simone. Recording the album was in her words an “enlightening experience.” Unbeknownst to her at the time, when the project was complete, it would become an empowering anthem for women. Carol is very clear about the message she feels and hopes fans can gain by hearing her music and that is: “let go and let God.”

Listen as Carol and I share another enlightening conversation:

Carol Duboc 3

Darren Barrett’s Trumpet Vibes pays tribute to “The Music of Amy Winehouse”

Darren Barrett

 

Darren Barrett’s Trumpet Vibes pays tribute to

“The Music of Amy Winehouse”

The award-winning trumpeter’s reggae jazz band will release a nine-song salute to the late Grammy winner on August 26.

BOSTON (27 July 2016): Trumpeter Darren Barrett, winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, was flipping through cable television channels while taking a break from a recording session when he stumbled upon a live concert by Amy Winehouse. He had heard the buzz about the unconventional British artist, but hadn’t heard any of her music until that moment. The musician of Jamaican descent with a proclivity for incorporating reggae into his neo-bop jazz recordings was instantly struck by the way the rhythm & soul singer-songwriter infused reggae into her throwback tracks.

“I was surprised to discover that the majority of her concert consisted of performing music mirroring the spirit-liberating sound of reggae music. Damn! Amy was laying the music down like one of the ‘old heads.’ She immediately gained much respect from me and I soon became a fan and a loyal follower of her fast-moving musical career,” Barrett recalled about his 2008 discovery and the inspiration for his eighth album, “The Music of Amy Winehouse,” which will be released August 26 on the dB Music label.

Barrett and his Trumpet Vibes band, a jazz and reggae group, selected nine songs from the late artist’s songbook and spent over a year working on the arrangements and rehearsing before entering the studio. To recreate Winehouse’s high voltage, multi-tiered sound, Barrett augmented his band by adding guitars, keyboards, saxophone and percussion to the Trumpet Vibes lineup that consists of the trumpeter-producer, bassist Alexander Toth, drummer Anthony Toth and vibraphonist Simon Moullier (noted vibraphonist Warren Wolf is featured on “Our Day Will Come”). Naturally, the toughest part was casting a female vocalist capable of capturing Winehouse’s uniquely soulful and charismatic spirit on hallmark hits such as “Tears Dry On Their Own,” “Rehab,” “Back To Black” and “Just Friends.” Enter Joanna Teters.

“I met Joanna many years ago when she was a student at Berklee College of Music, but never had the opportunity to work with her,” said Barrett, who is an associate professor in the ensemble department at the distinguished school in addition to his work as an artist. “I continued to listen to many of her projects after she graduated, having a strong sense that someday we would eventually work together. Well it happened just as I predicted. Joanna joined us on the Amy Winehouse project and really captured the essence of Amy’s musicality without neglecting to incorporate the uniqueness of her own personality into each song. The commitment and musical steadfastness that each musician brought to the project has resulted in a recording that Amy’s well-deserving fans will not only enjoy, but also appreciate as they reconnect to Amy’s simple joy of creating music.”

A Toronto, Ontario native who has been based in Boston ever since he attended Berklee, Barrett was a soloist on Esperanza Spaulding’s two-time Grammy-winning “Radio Music Society.” Mentored by trumpet great Donald Byrd, he has recorded or played internationally with jazz giants Elvin Jones, Jackie McLean, Herbie Hancock, Antonio Hart, Wayne Shorter and Roy Hargrove. Barrett has also performed with Common, will.i.am, Talib Kweli and D’Angelo. Maintaining a prolific album release pace since 2014, “The Music of Amy Winehouse” follows last fall’s critically-hailed jazz and reggae mashup “Trumpet Vibes” and predates a straight-ahead jazz outing from the dB Quintet that is expected in the first quarter of 2017. For more information, please visit www.DarrenBarrett.com.

“The Music of Amy Winehouse” contains the following songs:

“Tears Dry On Their Own”

“Rehab”

“Our Day Will Come”

“Back To Black”

“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”

“Cupid”

“Just Friends”

“To Know Him Is To Love Him”

“Monkey Man”

“Tears Dry On Their Own” (clean version)

“TURN IT UP” WITH STEVE COLE

Steve Cole’s latest album “TURN IT UP” has lived up to its name since it was released on July 15, 2016. His first single “Mirage” is already setting the tone for the album. It was the No. 1 most added on the Billboard BDS chart. Steve once again collaborated with David Mann who produced this project to create a collection of soulful tunes. His approach to making “TURN IT UP” was clever and genius. Steve decided to travel to a few different cities, recording with his musical colleagues to embrace the energy and differences of each one. The result was astounding and can be heard in every song on “TURN IT UP.” The title song was arranged by pianist Nicholas Cole who, coincidentally, arranged the title song to Steve’s last album, “Pulse.” Also joining Steve was James Lloyd on the song “Bright Side.” Steve is excited about touring and bringing “TURN IT UP” to life for his fans. He assures that the music comes to life when played live.

Steve and I talk about “TURN IT UP”:

Steve Cole (3)

 

 

Rob “Fonksta” Bacon will release debut single August 2, 2016 “Cause & E-Funk” (featuring The P-Funk Horns and Amp Fiddler) in honor of the late Bernie Worrell.

RB SINGL GRAPH (SMALL)

Rob Bacon, also known as Rob “Fonksta” Bacon to fans around the world, is set to release his personal tribute to a Funk pioneer: legendary musician Bernie Worrell. Rob Bacon–guitarist, bassist, composer, producer, and artist–didn’t have to look far when creating “Cause & E-Funk.” In his personal quaint studio, Rob conjured up everything that existed within the deepest parts of his soul.

“Cause & E-Funk” features the original P-Funk horns (Bennie Cowan and Greg Thomas) and Detroit Funk legend Amp Fiddler on piano and synthesizers. “Cause & E-Funk” is Rob’s personal dedication to the memory of legendary musician and P-Funk alumni Bernie Worrell. The single was produced, arranged, and composed by Bacon. Reminiscing on the heyday of pure, un-cut funk, Rob was compelled to record an instrumental Dance Funk jam. He was driven to capture and celebrate the essence of classic Parliament-Funkadelic as well as conjure memories of fun and funky times he experienced while growing up in his hometown of Detroit.

Rob’s funky interweaving of guitars and synth bass are the glue that holds it all together. Bennie Cowan (trumpet) and Greg Thomas (saxophone) of the P-Funk Horns provide ridiculously funky horn riffs, and Rob’s Detroit Funk comrade Amp Fiddler nods to the legendary Bernie Worrell with clever and tasty piano and synthesizer fills.

“Cause & E-Funk” is set to be released on August 2nd, 2016 and will be available for download via all digital outlets worldwide. CDs of the single will be available soon after. For more information and inquiries contact mm2513@hotmail.com and stay tuned to the Rob “Fonksta” Bacon Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/RobFonkstaBacon/ for updates.

Monica H. Murphy

 

The Songbird of New Orleans is ready to spread her wings soulfully

Robin Barnes

 

The Songbird of New Orleans is ready to spread her wings soulfully 

Award-winning jazz chanteuse Robin Barnes will release “Songbird Sessions” on August 26

NEW ORLEANS (21 July 2016): Having conquered hearts locally and captured media acclaim as “The Songbird of New Orleans,” award-winning jazz singer Robin Barnes is preparing to spread her soulful song beyond The Big Easy. On August 26, the powerfully-voiced siren who was named the Favorite New Orleans Musician earlier this year by New Orleans Magazine will issue her second EP, “Songbird Sessions,” on the Rhythm Elevation Records label. Barnes and bassist Pat Casey produced the intimate five-song acoustic jazz date of standards and gems made famous by her seminal influences such as New Orleans icons Allen Toussaint and Irma Thomas. The first track being serviced to radio is Barnes’s smoldering and sultry rendition of Thomas’s “Ruler of My Heart.”

Backed by Casey, drummers and percussionists Herlin Riley and Shannon Powell, and guitarists Steve Masakowski and Danny Abel, Barnes soars mightily on “Songbird Sessions.” Confident and assured, the twenty-something chanteuse unveils unadulterated passion with poise and in complete command on the rousing spiritual “Great Day” and the gentle jazz lullaby “Little Jazz Bird.” Barnes’s arresting take of Van Morrison’s “The Way Young Lovers Do” haunts. On the classic “My Funny Valentine,” her aching, delicate croon depicts an intrepid artist confronting her fragility head on.

“’Songbird Sessions’ is about spreading my wings and singing with my soul. This little jazz bird is taking a leap and following a dream. The EP is made up of songs that I’ve been passionate about while growing up in New Orleans. This music helped me express my heart though song. I wanted to do something more intimate for this record with just vocals, bass, guitar and drums. Sometimes it was scary because it’s just me and my vocals. There’s no big band or sounds to help cover my vulnerability or distract the listener. The tracks are open and powerful, but it’s just me. As a young artist, I’m finding my voice and my self. Jazz has impact and power. I want to remind the world how amazing jazz music is,” said Barnes, who begins a six-week residency at the House of Blues in New Orleans on July 28 and will celebrate the EP at a hometown record release concert at Peaches Records on August 27.

Barnes has come a long way since she started singing in church as a six-year-old and going on to performing in her family’s jazz band. Two years ago, she won Offbeat magazine’s Outstanding Millennial in Music Award. Her weekly gigs in New Orleans have not only endeared her to the city, but have brought national fanfare including a performance on “NCIS: New Orleans” as well as an abundance of press coverage in the pages of ESPN, Forbes, Ebony, Southern Living , Travel + Leisure and Southwest Magazine. Having become synonymous with the distinctive sounds of New Orleans by being featured in various media and marketing campaigns promoting the Crescent City, Barnes has adorned the cover of area newspapers and magazines and maintains a regular presence on local television. Her leadership role includes her running club, “Move Ya Brass,” which counts over 200 runners in the fitness program she created to help motivate her to get fit after recovering from a near fatal kidney ailment four years ago. Barnes’s first EP, “Me,” was a soul-pop effort released in 2013. For more information, please visit www.RobinBarnesMusic.com.

“Songbird Sessions” contains the following songs:

“Great Day”

“Little Jazz Bird”

“My Funny Valentine”

“Ruler of My Heart”

“The Way Young Lovers Do”