Saxophonist Elan Trotman has “Got To Give It Up” to Marvin Gaye

Elan Trotman

Saxophonist Elan Trotman has “Got To Give It Up” to Marvin Gaye

He drops a tribute album, “Dear Marvin,” on April 2, the iconic crooner’s 80th birthday. The first single, “Got To Give It Up,” is the No. 1 most-added single on the Billboard chart this week.

BOSTON (20 March 2019): Sax salutes sexy soul on Elan Trotman’s “Dear Marvin,” a collection of ten of Marvin Gaye’s best-loved songs that drops on April 2, the late legendary R&B singer’s 80th birthday. Preceding the set’s arrival is the single “Got To Give It Up,” a vibrant reboot of one of Gaye’s funky dance tracks that is the No. 1 most-added single on the Billboard chart this week as an instrumental from the Woodward Avenue Records album produced by Charles Haynes (Marcus Miller, Erykah Badu, Queen Latifah) and Trotman.

“It’s amazing how this project came about. ‘Got To Give It Up’ has been a huge part of my live show for the past two years and has always been a crowd favorite. That is just one of the many factors that inspired me to record the song and to dig deeper into Marvin’s catalogue and life story. I had no idea that his 80th birthday would be coming up around our time of completing the album, but once I found out, I knew we had to release it on April 2 to mark the occasion,” said Trotman, an award-winning saxophonist who has topped the Billboard singles chart more than ten times.

In reimagining Gaye’s catalogue in instrumental form, Trotman shares the spotlight on “Dear Marvin,” with premier soloists, including Grammy-winning keyboardist Jeff Lorber, seminal urban-jazz flautist Najee, esteemed trumpeter Patches Stewart, soul-jazz-hip hop-funk trombonist Jeff Bradshaw and veteran guitarist Sherrod Barnes. Trotman strategically deploys vocals to illumine a few key tracks. Ray Greene (Santana, Tower of Power) begs on “Mercy Mercy Me”; rapper Obadele Thompson plies his come-on skills to “I Want You”; and Tim “Smithsoneon” Smith provides the cure through “Sexual Healing.” Members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra enhance a pair of tracks with strings. Including Haynes, Trotman’s core collaborators are his former colleagues from Berklee College of Music: keyboardist Mitch Henry (Marsha Ambrosius), bassists Kyle Miles and Keithen Foster (H.E.R.), and percussionist Atticus Cole.

“It’s been an honor to be able to share my interpretations of some of Marvin’s classics. As with all cover projects, I made an extra effort to learn lyrics and storylines for each composition in order to truly understand his interpretations and performances on each song,” said the Boston-based Trotman, who is planning to be in Los Angeles on April 2 for an 11am ceremony held by the United States Postal Service at The Greek Theatre to celebrate the release of the Marvin Gaye commemorative Forever stamp.

“We, Marvin’s family, heard about Elan doing a musical tribute to Marvin. We are very pleased with his album ‘Dear Marvin,’ and are so happy that it will be released on his birthday, April 2. The musicians are all incredible! Thank you, Elan Trotman. Job well done,” said Janis Gaye, Gaye’s second wife.

“Dear Marvin,” is Trotman’s eighth album and second on the Woodward Avenue Records imprint. The label issued the saxophone-flute player’s 2013 disc, “Tropicality,” an autobiographical album that colors contemporary jazz with native sounds from Trotman’s homeland, Barbados. Trotman curates, produces and hosts the Barbados Jazz Excursion and Golf Weekend annually over Columbus Day Weekend with the sixth edition taking place this October 10-14. Bringing that winning formula closer to home, he will launch the first annual Martha’s Vineyard Jazz Excursion and Golf Weekend in Oak Bluffs, MA on June 28-30. To support the album release, Trotman will perform at festivals, theaters and nightclubs through October beginning with the prestigious Boscov’s Berks Jazz Festival in Reading, PA on April 5.

“Dear Marvin,” contains the following songs:

“Inner City Blues” featuring Sherrod Barnes

“Got To Give It Up”

“Distant Lover” featuring Patches Stewart

“Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing”

“Mercy Mercy Me” featuring Ray Greene

“I Want You” featuring Obadele Thompson

“Sexual Healing” featuring “Smithsoneon”

“After The Dance” featuring Najee

“Trouble Man” featuring Jeff Lorber

“I Heard It Through The Grapevine” featuring Jeff Bradshaw

For more information, please visit http://elantrotman.com.

Brian Culbertson’s “Colors” comes alive

BC

Brian Culbertson’s “Colors” comes alive

The electric entertainer captured his hit-filled Colors of Love Tour in Las Vegas for his first live concert video that dropped Valentine’s Day as a stunning Blu-ray and double CD.

LOS ANGELES (15 February 2019): Fans have been asking multi-instrumentalist hitmaker Brian Culbertson for years, “When are you going to put out a concert video?” As the dynamic performer rolled out his elaborate Colors of Love Tour on a 77-show, 14-week journey last year, he knew he had to capture the magic. Filmed during his stop in the neon city, “Colors of Love Tour – Live in Las Vegas” was released by BCM Entertainment on Valentine’s Day as a Blu-ray disc and two-disc CD through Culbertson’s site (www.BrianCulbertson.com). Amazon also has the CD set available now and will soon list the Blu-ray. Digital fans can obtain the audio version now from all major digital retail outlets.

“I’ve been aspiring to finally film a concert and for this tour, I knew we had an impressive-looking show and a great-sounding band. It’s the most visual show I’ve ever created in terms of the lighting, video elements and wardrobe. It’s stunning. Once the tour started, I knew we had to film it somehow,” said Culbertson about his first live concert video.

The 2018 spring/summer trek was mounted in support of the “Colors of Love” album, a romantic release that dropped last Valentine’s Day and was inspired by Culbertson’s 20th wedding anniversary. In addition to showcasing the bouquet of love songs from the intimate collection, Culbertson constructed a generous three-act set list comprised of more than two hours of music culled from his extensive catalogue of Billboard No. 1 hits and fan favorites. With the first and third acts centered on the amorous material from “Colors of Love” along with similarly-themed library cuts, the second act is a high-energy, get-down-tonight funk set. Culbertson holds down the keyboards, grand piano, trombone and vocals, sharing the stage and spotlight with his five-piece band – Marqueal Jordan (saxophone, vocals and percussion), Eddie Miller (keyboards, organ and vocals), Tyrone Chase (guitar), Joewaun Scott (bass) and Chris Miskel (drums). They are joined by special guest vocalist Noel Gourdin along with comedic bits from Sinbad that separate each act.

Three video screens adorned the stage projecting Sinbad’s comedy sketches, a fun cartoon sequence that accompanies the performance of “Mile Sauce,” and photos of Culbertson’s wife, Michelle, and Culbertson’s collaborators, Maurice White (Earth, Wind & Fire) and Bootsy Collins. Helmed by award-winning television producer-director Scott Sternberg in his first full-length concert video, the production utilized ten cameras to film the concert that took place at the Aliante Casino last May. The two-and-a-half-hour performance was lensed in its entirety with the video offering 26 songs plus bonus features, including “BC Medley” from 2016’s Funk! Tour Live, an in-studio performance of “Through the Years,” a solo piano performance of “All My Heart” shot live at SiriusXM, the “Mile Sauce” cartoon, and a commentary track from Culbertson and Miskel.

“The ‘Colors of Love’ album is personal and intimate, so we set out to create a show and video that tells a more personal story. The videos and photos on stage, like the pictures of my wife who inspired the music I wrote, is part of that. Scott (Sternberg) and his crew used unique camera angles so that it feels like you’re on stage with the band when you watch the video. It’s much more up close and personal than most concert videos,” said Culbertson.

Although Culbertson knew early on that he wanted to film the production, what he didn’t know initially was the how and where. After financial backing arrived upon sharing his creative vision for the project, he looked at the itinerary and circled the two-night stand in Las Vegas.

“I earmarked the Vegas dates because I knew the venue has great in-house lighting that would look amazing on camera. We recorded the audio from both nights to have as a backup, but the film crew shot only the one show, so we had to nail it in one take,” said Culbertson.

The video opens with Culbertson walking the Vegas strip filmed overhead by a drone. “I wanted viewers to feel like they are in Las Vegas. It was important for the opening to establish that feeling and location,” said Culbertson. “After we shot the concert, I put on my silver-sequined jacket and we drove the strip at midnight to shoot additional footage for the opener. I can’t wait for people to see the video. It’s really exciting energy.”

To view the trailer for “Colors of Love Tour – Live in Las Vegas,” click https://bit.ly/2OFW1Kp.

The songs included on the Blu-ray and CD are:

ACT 1

“Love Transcended”

“It’s On Tonight”

“Another Love”

“I Want You”

“Wear It Out”

“You’re My Music” featuring Noel Gourdin

“I Could Get Used To This”

“All About You”

“Hookin’ Up”

“Somethin’ Bout Love”

“Through The Years”

“Colors of Love”

 

Sinbad – “Kinda Pimpish”

 

ACT 2

“Feelin’ It”

“Funkin’ Like My Father”

“Always Remember”

“Been Around The World”

“Damn, I’m Hungry”

“Mile Sauce”

“Got To Give It Up”

“Hollywood Swinging”

“Play That Funky Music”

 

Sinbad – “I’m Black Dangit, 100%”

 

ACT 3

“Secret Garden”

“Michelle’s Theme”

“On My Mind”

“Colors of Love Reprise”

“Our Love”

For more information, please visit http://www.brianculbertson.com.

NORMAN BROWN SHARES “THE HIGHEST ACT OF LOVE”

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Norman Brown “had to dig deep” when creating his upcoming album “The Highest Act of Love,” which will be released on February 22, 2019. He is ready to share this project and says, “I’m so excited about this record.” It took Norman two albums’ worth of music to create this very special one. He describes this record as a “framework for thinking and reasoning about life.”  When beginning the project, Norman visited his archived music and started from there. The first song he pulled was a demo of Deniece Williams’ hit “Free.” Ironically, it didn’t make the first round of songs selected for the album, but it definitely made the final cut. The collaboration with Deniece on her song was very special because when she heard it, she was elated, saying it was “incredible.” Norman also collaborated with Paul Brown on the first song on the album, appropriately titled “Inside The Garden of Peace and Love.” That’s where the journey for the listener begins. Kim Waters and Chris “Big Dog” Davis collaborated with Norman on the album, as well.

Listen to my in-depth and enlightening conversation with Norman:

EXPERIENCE “LIFE AND TIMES” WITH JAZZ FUNK SOUL

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When you combine three powerhouse musicians who have had amazing careers for decades, you are in for a masterful musical journey. Jazz Funk Soul was formed in 2014 with the late Chuck Loeb. The group made an instant impact and realized they had something very special. When the music world lost Chuck Loeb, it was obvious that no one could fill his shoes. However, Paul Jackson, Jr. had been filling in for Loeb when the band was on the road performing. Paul previously worked with Jeff and Everett in their individual careers, and they embraced the musical language he brought into the group. “LIFE AND TIMES,” the groups latest project, is set to be released on January 25th. The single “Windfall” was an obvious first release and a new sound from the project. It perfectly displays the individual gifts that each member possesses. Jeff, Everette, and Paul each believe that working together propels them to constantly reach higher levels of musicianship.

Listen to Jeff, Everette, and Paul discuss the project with me: 

“Imagine” the Beatles in an urban-jazz context

Bob Baldwin

“Imagine” the Beatles in an urban-jazz context         

The release of “Bob Baldwin presents Abbey Road and the Beatles” marks the pianist-keyboardist’s 30th anniversary as a recording artist. The first single, “Imagine (Living As One)” featuring Euge Groove, was shipped to radio. 

ATLANTA (4 December 2018): Bob Baldwin was a kid listening to pop radio in the outskirts of New York City when he fell in love with the melodies of the Beatles. For his 25th album, the pianist-keyboardist embarks upon a magical mystery tour through the hit-filled pages of the legendary group’s storied songbook, plying his trademark urban-jazz sheen to the iconic harmonies. The Red River Entertainment release that dropped last Friday (November 30), “Bob Baldwin presents Abbey Road and the Beatles” was produced and arranged by Baldwin who wrote an original song in tribute to the band, “Abbey Road,” along with composing new passages that add unique elements to the eleven reimagined Beatles classics.

Having issued albums that honor the landmark works of Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Thom Bell, Baldwin set his sights on the Fab Four’s influential catalogue that first captured his interest decades ago.

“My childhood listening tendencies before I was ten-years-old were quite broad, including Oscar Peterson, Miles Davis, the music of Motown and Aretha Franklin. On the pop side, the catchy hooks of the Beatles crept into my ear from days of listening to pop radio. For this project, I wanted to interject my own reharmonized view of the Beatles music while keeping the original melodies pure. Doing the Beatles was a different twist for me,” said Baldwin, who plays piano, keyboards, bass, drums, melodica, vocoder and plies his soothing tenor voice to the session. “It would be cool to know if Sir Paul McCartney could hear it, and more importantly, if he digs the attempt.”

The first single recently serviced to radio is a reading of John Lennon’s signature piece that Baldwin soulfully reinvents as “Imagine (Living As One)” and adds sweet soprano sax from Euge Groove. Other prominent soloists include vocalist CeCe Peniston on “(Don’t Wanna Be) The Fool on The Hill”; flutist Ragan Whiteside serenely illuminates “Michelle (My Girl)”; and noted jazz-R&B singer Lori Williams, who brings a nuanced grace and elegance to Paul & Linda McCartney’s “My Love.” Williams also charms on the Beatles salute that she wrote with Baldwin, “Abbey Road,” which the pair perform as a vocal duet. Songs like “Come Together (Can We All Just Get Along?),” “(Mellow) Yellow Submarine,” “And I Love Her,” “Yesterday” and “Eleanor Rigby” swing and groove like never before, rebuilt from the ground up on the back of Baldwin’s meticulous jazz and urban arrangements. Anchoring the rhythm section are drummer Tony Lewis and bassist Dave Anderson, who craft deep pockets seasoned with a smattering of percussion from Café Da Silva.

The arrival of “Bob Baldwin presents Abbey Road and the Beatles” coincides with Baldwin’s 30th anniversary as a solo recording artist. The 1988 release of “A Long Way To Go” was discovered by Roberta Flack, who was a finalist judge at the time for the Sony Innovators Award, a prestigious honor bestowed upon Baldwin. The debut album was the first entry in a library consisting of jazz, R&B and gospel discs, of which over a dozen have entered the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Top 20 sales chart. At radio, Baldwin’s track record boasts 15 Top 20 Billboard BDS hits, the most recent being this year’s “Be Blessed (No Stress).” He is the creative force behind The Groove Pact’s “Club Life,” a late summer smash from an all-star collective consisting of Baldwin, Marion Meadows, Marcus Anderson, Nils, Joey Sommerville, Oli Silk, Tom Browne, Whiteside and others. Enjoying a remarkably prolific period, Baldwin released seven full-length albums over the last twelve months.

Ten years ago, Baldwin launched his nationally-syndicated radio program, “The NewUrbanJazz Lounge,” which reaches over half-a-million listeners weekly with a mix of contemporary jazz influenced by urban and Brazilian music. A creative, Atlanta-based entrepreneur who leads a music production and event planning company, he authored “You Better Ask Somebody,” a 2012 book about his experiences in the music business. Baldwin, who also designs and markets a hat collection, has a patented invention that will soon be revealed.

“Bob Baldwin presents Abbey Road and the Beatles” contains the following songs:

“Come Together (Can We All Just Get Along?)”

“(Mellow) Yellow Submarine”

“And I Love Her (Real Talk)”

“(Don’t Wanna Be) The Fool on The Hill” featuring CeCe Peniston

“Imagine (Living As One)” featuring Euge Groove

“Michelle (My Girl)” featuring Ragan Whiteside

“Something (In The Way She Moves)”

“My Love” featuring Lori Williams

“Abbey Road” featuring Lori Williams

“Yesterday”

“Eleanor Rigby”

“Something (In The Way She Moves)” vocal version

 

The album is available for purchase at https://amzn.to/2rcgTLO. For more information, please visit www.BobBaldwin.com and www.NewUrbanJazz.com.

STANLEY CLARKE

Stanley Clarke and his band of masterful musicians had an outstanding performance in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

The 8th Annual John Coltrane International Jazz & Blues Festival

The John Coltrane International Jazz & Blues Festival held on September 1st -2nd began with the Coltrane Youth Jazz Workshop. Every year they are always the festival openers. Following them were the 2018 Coltrane Jazz All Stars spearheaded by the director of Jazz Ensemble at North Carolina A&T State University Mondre Moffett. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band from New Orleans had the crowd on their feet with their funky big band grooves. Grammy nominated Jazzmeia Horn blew onlookers away with her incredible jazz vocals. The rain made its way in and even caused a brief break in the performances, but in the end it didn’t stop the music. Renowned guitarist Lee Ritenhour was everything fans expected. Gregory Porter graced the stage with his fabulous band and flawless vocals to end the evening. It was the perfect finale to a day of incredible music. The last day of the festival included vocalist and guitar player Jackie Venson, Michelle and Ravi Coltrane, Diane Reeves, and Pete Escovedo with Sheila E.

Photo cred for last 4 images: Garland Hancock