International jazz guitarist Marc Antoine returns to health and California with a diverse outing at “Laguna Beach” with friends

marc-antoine

 

International jazz guitarist Marc Antoine returns to health and California with a diverse outing at

“Laguna Beach” with friends

The title track continues its chart-toping trajectory on the Billboard songs chart as the album is released Friday.

Laguna Beach, Calif. (23 September 2016): The four-year gap between albums for global guitarist Marc Antoine was spent fighting for his life and career as well as moving his family from their longtime home in Spain to the Southern California coast. Having conquered two major health challenges – one life-threatening and one career-threatening – and resettled into the placid enclave of Laguna Beach, the Paris-born, classically-trained hit-maker resumes his recording career Friday with the release of his Woodward Avenue Records debut, “Laguna Beach.” The title cut, which preceded the celebratory set of Antoine’s signature classical acoustic and nylon-string guitar melodies, quixotic gypsy jazz forays, brassy funk grooves and sultry Latin, Brazilian and Cuban rhythms, is already No. 5 on the Billboard songs chart, offering a last gasp of summer.

His thirteenth album, Antoine produced “Laguna Beach,” wrote eight of the nine songs and called upon some of his accomplished friends to collaborate with him, something he couldn’t do easily when he lived abroad for twelve years.

“When you live near LA, you can call anyone to come and work with you. Once I built my new studio over here, fired it up and began working on new material, I knew I just had to make a few phone calls to get the right guys to play on it,” said Antoine, who reached out to soloists Philippe Saisse (keyboards), Rick Braun (trumpet), Greg Vail (saxes), Armand Sabal-Lecco (bass), Tim Welvaars (harmonica) and two-time Grammy winner Paul Brown (electric guitar), who mixed the album. Anchoring the tracks were drummer Gorden Campbell, upright bassist Roberto Vally, keyboardist Marco Basci, and percussionists Gumbi Ortiz and Richie Gajate Garcia.

Incorporating an interesting variety of sounds, tapestries, moods and styles remains the guitar alchemist’s forte. Antoine’s compositions on “Laguna Beach” are enriched with his spirited sense of joy and gratitude after enduring major heart surgery in 2012 to repair an incapacitating atrial fibrillation problem only to be followed by hand surgery two years later to relieve the crippling pain and permanent nerve damage he endured while playing the guitar that locked the fingers on his left hand in odd positions.

After “pretty much hitting rock bottom” in 2014, Antoine and his wife, Rebeca, decided to make the move back to California where they resided prior to Spain. It turns out playing the guitar is ideal physical therapy, enabling Antoine to work through the scar tissue in his hand.

“I remember vividly what a hand therapist from LA told me, that the only way to fix this is to change my ways,” Antoine recalled. “I have a deep relationship with my guitar. It’s a little bit like a marriage: if you don’t put effort into it, there is no life in it. So playing, and most importantly, playing with joy, love and respect is the key. I am so grateful for what is going on in my life right now and I am back enjoying my instrument, which fixes all problems. It is for real: life through guitar therapy.

Rejuvenated, re-inspired and restored to full health, Antoine anticipates a busy concert itinerary of festival, theater and club dates to support the album release across the U.S. where he has been a popular entertainer ever since he toured globally with Basia in 1988. He’s also shared the stage with superstars Sting, Queen Latifah and Selena prior to launching his solo career with the album “Classical Soul,” which spawned the first of a library of radio hits that have made Antoine one of the mainstays at contemporary/smooth jazz radio since 1994. He’s played in pop, rock, jazz, world music, hip-hop and acid jazz settings, each of which have informed his multicultural sonicscapes and furthered his international appeal.  For more information, please visit www.MarcAntoine.com.

Antoine’s “Laguna Beach” album contains the following songs:

“Why Not”

“This and That”

“Laguna Beach”

“Deixa”

“Minority”

“Romantico”

“High Five”

“New Morning”

“Twice Upon a Time”

JOHN COLTRANE INTERNATIONAL JAZZ & BLUES FESTIVAL

The John Coltrane International Jazz & Blues Festival was once again a phenomenal showcase of the best jazz has to offer. Labor day weekend at Oak Hollow Park in High Point, North Carolina is where fans enjoy two days of music. The line-up consisted of Kenny G, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ramsey Lewis, Eric Gales, Esperanza Spalding, Gregory Porter, and the Latin Jazz All Stars.

THE “COUNTDOWN” IS ON FOR PAUL TAYLOR

Saxophonist Paul Taylor is ready and set to release the 11th project of his illustrious career: “Countdown.” On September 9th, his fans will get the opportunity to experience Paul like never before. Taylor keeps an open mind and pays attention to new sounds and elements in music. Thus, he is armed with a diversified palette to create “Countdown” from. Paul collaborated with his longtime friend and co-producer, writer Dino Esposito. Their working relationship is built on years of trust and respect. The title track, “Countdown,” is the first song on the cd and sets the tone for the mystical journey ahead. “Arrival” is the first single and is flirtatiously soulful. Guitarist Peter White joins Paul on the sultry song “Polaris.” And amidst his saxophone playing, Taylor garnishes “What You Love” and “Knocking At The Door” with his laid-back vocals. He adds just the right amount of spice by giving fans a little something different. Paul is an artist who likes to keep current and listens to all music, staying engaged. Paul said, “I feel like I’m just coming into my own.” Admittedly, this is a new direction for Paul, and he is embracing it.

Listen to my conversation with my friend Paul:

PaulTaylor_Countdown_cover

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)