Urban-jazz saxophonist Sam Rucker finds solace as an “Overcomer” on the path to “Redemption”

Sam Rucker

Urban-jazz saxophonist Sam Rucker finds solace as an “Overcomer” on the path to “Redemption”

His steadfast message of “True Love” heads to radio as a single, preceding the August 24 release of his inspired third album.

WILLIAMSBURG (2 July 2018): One of the first songs that urban-jazz saxophonist Sam Rucker recorded for his third album, “Redemption,” was the soothing “Overcomer,” on which he emotes intimately on soprano sax during an uplifting exchange with a guitar duo comprised of his nephew, Justin Taylor, and John Calisto. Tragically, both guitarists passed away unexpectedly three days apart and the tune Rucker wrote to comfort and inspire others became his own healing grace. It is a focal point of the rousing eleven-track set penned and produced by Rucker that drops August 24 from Favor Productions.

Rucker’s life and his musical journey have evolved in recent years, growing from a gritty hip hop producer into a soul-baring R&B-contemporary jazz instrumentalist, yet his faith has never wavered. He is on a mission as an empowering evangelic emissary, using his tenor, alto and soprano sax on “Redemption” to deliver heartening orations that commiserate and console as much as persevere and conquer. His writing, production and sax play reflect a more refined, mature and sophisticated auteur who retained just enough of the raw urban grit from his edgy past to ensure that his recordings are genuine. Despite enduring pain, struggle and suffering, Rucker never loses sight of the Divine hand orchestrating it all – the victories and the losses – purposely placing his focus on the abundance of blessings and the love that cushions his every fall.

“‘Redemption’ is a feel-good album designed to touch the inner soul, to encourage and inspire the listener. It is about perseverance, keeping the faith, overcoming some of the worst that life has to offer and coming out better on the other side. Redemption of everything that was lost: the naysayers and doubters, the narrowly missed opportunities, the emotional scars and the sore spiritual muscles from years of exercised faith. Staying steadfast and seeing the gracious hand of God redeem all and make our former days greater than the latter. It’s also about making someone nod their head to the beat when they feel like hanging it during a tough time,” said Rucker.

Listeners will soon be nodding their head to the first radio single, “True Love,” when it goes for playlist adds on July 16. Rucker’s fat tenor sax packs a powerful punch on the sensually steamy mid-tempo groove graced by Calisto’s sultry nylon guitar and a celestial, gospel chorus-like affirmation that embodies the album’s message: “Take one look, and you will see, what true love has done for me, take one look and you will see, what true love has done in me.”

“First and foremost, the song is about the fact that despite all the mistakes I’ve made and how undeserving I am, God still loves me enough to redeem me and bless me with as much as he has. For the listener, ‘True Love’ could be about life with a special someone. For me, it is really about the love of God, the only true love that holds no records of wrongs and never fails. If you look at your life, you’ll see evidence of His love in what He has done for you. But, when you really get it and realize that it’s Him and really receive His love, then there is a change in you that people will see. Hence the song’s lyrics.”

The Williamsburg, Virginia native debuted in 2011 with “Heat from the Heavens,” introducing his formula of hip hop beats, improv jazz and stirring inspirational messages. Three years later, “Tell You Something,” upped the ante by offering collaborations with urban stalwarts Norman Connors, Bobby Lyle, Tom Browne and Alyson Williams, boosting Rucker’s appeal at radio. His eyes averted the camera on the first album cover and were hidden behind dark glasses on the second. “Redemption” depicts a happier, lighter Rucker looking directly into the camera, eager to face and embrace what lays ahead of him with gratitude.

“When I released the last album (“Tell You Something”), it was a difficult time for me personally,” admitted Rucker. “In the last five years, my life has done a complete 180. With the release of ‘Redemption,’ I feel spiritually, physically, emotionally and materially redeemed. On this album, there are no covers, no guest producers and no big-time superstar performers. Just pure, raw and real me and those closest to me.”

“Redemption” contains the following songs:

“Down on the Inside” (intro)

“Down on the Inside”

“True Love”

“Overcomer”

“Nothing’s Too Hard”

“Redemption”

“Forever Forgiven”

“Follow Me”

“I Am with You”

“Throwback”

“Please Child”

For more information, please visit https://www.samrucker.com.

 

IT’S “A NEW DAY” FOR GREG CHAMBERS

For saxophonist Greg Chambers, A New Day has been 2 years in the making. He and his wife, Chelsea, have added the joy of parenthood to their lives, welcoming their baby boy, Owen. Greg is experiencing “balancing life and work.” A New Day was partially written and inspired by Owen, and the title, itself, represents embracing something new. Greg co-wrote all 10 original songs on the project and collaborated alongside Matt Godina, Nate Harasim, Lew Laing and Paul Brown. Working with Paul Brown provided “a different approach” that served as an inviting addition to the music. Chambers “enjoys the writing process” and is always “excited when working with other people and seeing the music take shape.”

Listen to Greg and I discuss A New Day

Greg Chambers (2)

THE 2018 QUEEN CITY JAZZFEST

Live music–who doesn’t love it? There is nothing quite like it, and on June 16th, live music is exactly what the city of Charlotte received. On that hot afternoon, fans packed the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre with much anticipation. No one was disappointed as artist after artist took to the stage, giving the crowd their all. Opening the show was a local talent, Darnell Showcase Taylor. If fans didn’t know him then, they definitely know him now. He was followed by Kindred the family soul who sang as the crowd swooned with them. The Rippingtons with their legendary jazz style and masterful musicianship, gave fans exactly what they came to see. When Will Downing graced the stage, everyone was beyond ready to hear him sing the songs they know all the words to. He is always a crowd favorite. And under the stars, Norman Brown closed the night with everyone in the palm of his hand. His performance was stellar, as always and spiritually moving. When it was all said and done, Norman Brown had undoubtedly left it all on that stage.

Urban-jazz guitarist dee Brown remembers his late fiancée with songs of love and joy

dee Brown

Urban-jazz guitarist dee Brown remembers his late fiancée with songs of love and joy

His fourth album is a celebration of life chronicling their time together with fun and spirited songs such as the new chart-bound single, “Pop the Question.”

SOUTHFIELD (22 June 2018): Two years ago, soul-jazz guitarist dee Brown was preparing for a summer wedding to his fiancée, gospel singer Shaunia Edwards. When her young life was tragically cut short by an unexpected illness, he was devastated, leaning on his strong faith to endure. Shifting his mindset from a mourning period during which he sought meaning by asking “Why?” to a perspective of positivity, Brown turned to writing, honoring the sweet, lasting memories of Edwards and their romance by composing lively, intimate and playful stories of love, laughter and hope. He shares his fond remembrances via the ten new songs that constitute his fourth album, “Remembering You,” his second release for Innervision Records.

Determined to make “Remembering You” a joy-filled affair, Brown imparts his charming recollections by setting his lyrically expressive, loose and improvisational cool jazz fretwork amidst ebullient pop nuances, pulsating dance beats and sensual R&B grooves. He picks, plays and scats soulfully throughout, inspired to celebrate his season with Edwards by deriving meaning from her lingering place in his heart, not in the loss of her physical presence.

“Shaunia was the reality of my dreams, a woman heaven sent to make me whole. ‘Remembering You’ celebrates her life and our life together. It’s purposely an upbeat celebration, not a mourning. The meaning that I derived from this experience and a message I think everyone can relate to is that we should exalt those in our lives as well as remember those who are no longer in our lives for whatever reason. Tomorrow is coming, but not necessarily for you. Share our love with those with us in the here and now because tomorrow is not guaranteed,” said Brown, who coproduced nine of the album’s tracks.

A loving, encouraging greeting from Edwards opens “Hey Baby,” the sweeping, feel-good first single illuminated by fervent guitar and alto sax banter on the cut that presaged the set’s arrival. Brown’s frequent writing and producing partner, pianist-keyboardist-programmer Valdez Brantley (Usher’s former music director), uses the vocoder to tantalize and tease on “Pop the Question,” the current chart-bound single that appears on the record in both album and d-Funk remix versions. Other noteworthy contributions are made by keyboardist Bob Baldwin, who also produced and cowrote the sleek and sophisticated “I Will”; Althea Rene, who adds fanciful flute flourishes to the vibrant escapade “Our Summer”; and keyboardist Nate Harasim, cowriter and producer of the sultry reflection “Beauty Within.”

A Detroit born and based guitar man who got his start in music as a vocalist, Brown launched his solo career in 2007 with “No Time To Waste.” Teaming with Valdez and Kern Brantley (Lady Gaga’s former music director and bassist who plays on “Remembering You’s” opener, “I Want You Too”) two years later for his sophomore outing, “A Little Elbowroom,” proved formative to his sound and style. Brown dropped his first recording for Innervision Records in 2014, “Brown Sugar Honey-Coated Love,” spawning the Top 15 Groove Jazz Music chart single, “Natural Love.”

Brown performs regularly on the Motor City music scene backed by Valdez Brantley, saxophonist Dezie McCullers Jr. and drummer Ron Otis, his core band that appears on the new album. Brown is looking forward to performing cuts from “Remembering You” in a big setting at the River Raisin Jazz Festival on August 11held in nearby Monroe, Michigan. One week later, his summer wedding will finally take place when he takes marriage vows with “a beautiful child of God.”

Brown’s “Remembering You” album contains the following songs:

“I Want You Too”

“Hey Baby”

“Pop the Question”

“Our Summer”

“I Will”

“Follow You”

“So Much”

“Pop the Question” (d-Funk remix)

“Beauty Within”

“Remembering You”

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

MICHAEL FRANKS GETS INTIMATE WITH “THE MUSIC IN MY HEAD”

It’s been seven years since Michael Franks’ last album was released, and his fans are elated to receive “The Music In My Head” on June 8th. It is his 18th album to date in his 45 year career. Franks is known for his eloquent and poetic lyrics, clever song titles, and smooth charismatic delivery. Michael describes this project as “very true” and “very personal”– one in which you can hear and feel his “love for nature” as well as his everlasting love for his wife Claudia of 42 years. Once again, Franks has given us a plethora of musical gems while working in the studio with his musical comrades: Jimmy Haslip, David Spinozza, Gil Goldstein, Scott Petito, Charles Blenzig, Eric Marienthal, Gary Meek, Bob Mintzer, and Rachel Z. He feels especially blessed to have also collaborated with his dear friend Chuck Loeb on the song “As Long As We’re Both Together.” It would be one of the last recordings Loeb would work on. Franks’ collection of ten new songs embraces listeners and glides them through a journey of love, nature, science-fiction, old LA jazz clubs, and healing relationships.

Listen and enjoy my interview with Michael Franks:


MFranksCover

 

Saxophonist Michael Paulo calls upon friends to celebrate “Beautiful Day”

Michael Paulo

Saxophonist Michael Paulo calls upon friends to celebrate “Beautiful Day” 

Ray Parker Jr., Paul Brown, Peter White, David Benoit, Paul Jackson Jr. and Brian Simpson are among his buddies illuminating the new soul-jazz album. The first single, “Who You Gonna Call?,” impacts radio. 

MENIFEE (7 June 2018): From beginning to end, saxophonist Michael Paulo’s “Beautiful Day,” is a celebration of love, friendship and the Aloha spirit. Opening with the title track inspired by the joyous news that he was going to become a grandfather and closing with the timeless Carole King ode to friendship, “You’ve Got A Friend,” Paulo’s eleventh solo disc dropped on the Apaulo Productions imprint. The collection is comprised of eight Paulo compositions and five modern classics produced by Paulo with two tracks helmed by two-time Grammy winner Paul Brown. The first single presently collecting radio spins and playlist adds spotlights guitarist Ray Parker Jr. on the aptly titled “Who You Gonna Call?”

Inherent in Paulo’s soulful play emoted through tenor, soprano and alto saxes on “Beautiful Day” is an effervescent spirit, a hallmark that perhaps emanates from the DNA of his Hawaiian blood. A genuine sense of gratitude is another vital element present in his recordings. With that ethos, Paulo crafted a set list that enabled him to record with and feature some of his accomplished friends the likes of which include guitarists Parker Jr., Brown, Peter White and Paul Jackson Jr.; pianist David Benoit, keyboardist Brian Simpson, bassists Freddie Washington and Roberto Vally, percussionist Lenny Castro, and drummers Gorden Campbell and Michael White.

“I truly have the best friends in life that always are there to support me. ‘You’ve Got A Friend’ represents why I am able to do what I do. I hope this record will touch people emotionally. My approach to playing has always been about expressing feeling and emotion and drawing the listener in so that they forget all the stress in their lives. I hope it renews their spirit, so they can continue to be happy and express love. When I perform live, my biggest gratification is when I feel that I have uplifted people emotionally and they can go home feeling good about themselves and life in general. That’s our gift as musicians and I am so blessed to be able to do what I do,” said Paulo.

The album also showcases Paulo’s touring band – a trio of Hawaiians comprised of Kimo Cornwell (keyboards), David Inamine (bass) and Fred Schreuders (guitar) along with drummers Land Richards and Sergio Gonzalez – which will take the stage with Paulo at SoCal hotspot Spaghettini on July 21 to celebrate the release of “Beautiful Day.”

Paulo’s professional career spans more than forty years, and includes gigs playing alongside R&B, pop and jazz headliners Al Jarreau, James Ingram, Patti Austin, Jeffrey Osborne, Kenny Loggins, Johnny Mathis, Bobby Caldwell and Rick Braun. He debuted as a solo artist in 1977 with the Japan-only release of “Tat’s in the Rainbow,” an album that highlighted Herbie Hancock on keyboards. Paulo continues his dual career as a solo artist and as a first-call session player-sideman. He also produces concerts and jazz festivals in Hawaii and in the long-time California resident’s home state. These days, Paulo tours frequently with Peter White, who plies his signature delicate acoustic guitar nuances in addition to contributing to the arrangement for “Beautiful Day’s” profound version of Sting’s “Fragile.” The saxman’s longest touring association was with Jarreau, with whom he shared the stage throughout the late crossover crooner’s glory days.

“I recorded ‘Your Song’ as a tribute to Al, who gave me my big break when he hired me for his touring band in 1983. We toured the world together for eleven years and he featured me on his ‘Live in London’ album. I used his arrangement of ‘Your Song’ and David Benoit delivered a heartfelt piano performance. I miss Al.”

Paulo’s “Beautiful Day” album contains the following songs:

“Beautiful Day” featuring Paul Brown

“Mr. Magic” featuring Paul Brown

“Europa”

“Back with the Funk” featuring Paul Jackson Jr.

“Your Song” featuring David Benoit

“Who You Gonna Call?”

“#FromtheHeart”

“Fragile”

“Keiko’s Groove”

“Galaxia”

“Mysterious”

“Fire Dance”

“You’ve Got A Friend”

For more information, please visit www.MichaelPaulo.com.

Keyboardist David Garfield is joined by George Benson and David Sanborn on the next single previewing his “Jammin’ Outside the Box” album

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“Jammin’” with legends 

Keyboardist David Garfield is joined by George Benson and David Sanborn on the next single previewing his “Jammin’ Outside the Box” album. “Stay” features the Rufus hit’s co-writer, Moon Calhoun, on lead vocals.

LOS ANGELES (23 May 2018): When asked how he got Grammy-winning legends George Benson and David Sanborn to perform on his new single, “Stay,” keyboardist David Garfield responds dryly with a gleeful grin, “You ask them.” The third single from Garfield’s forthcoming “Jammin’ Outside the Box” album is a remake of the Rufus classic featuring the vintage R&B-funk band’s former drummer Moon Calhoun singing lead on the song he wrote with Chaka Khan. “Stay” goes for radio adds on June 11 and drops digitally from Creatchy Records on June 15.

As Garfield was gathering material for his multi-disc, multi-genre “Outside the Box” series, he decided to give his long-time friend, Calhoun, the chance to sing the first song he ever wrote, which appeared on Rufus’s “Street Player” (1978). Calhoun was paralyzed in a bike accident 25 years ago and although he can no longer play drums, he can still sing. After inviting Benson and Sanborn to participate, Garfield let Calhoun cast the rest of the track’s musicians, which includes original Rufus guitarist Tony Maiden, along with Maiden’s daughter, Amanda Maiden, on backing vocals. Among the prominent players is a powerhouse sax section comprised of Sanborn on alto, Eric Marienthal on tenor and Tower of Power’s Doc Kupka on baritone; Paul Jackson Jr. (rhythm guitar), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), Freddie Washington (bass) and Lenny Castro (percussion). Sanborn and Benson take turns in the spotlight soloing.

“Both George and David were very gracious. It was great to put them together. They compliment each other,” said Garfield, who is Benson’s long-serving music director and has collaborated with Sanborn on numerous occasions. “Initially George was only going to play the solo, but when he heard the guitar tracks, he added some rhythm guitar as well. This track really embodies the idea of musical community, where everyone works hand in hand, gifting each other with their talents. All I think about when I hear the finished song now is, ‘Moon finally got to sing his song!’”

Scheduled to street on July 20, “Jammin’ Outside the Box” is the second volume of the star-studded “Outside the Box” collection. Released in late March, Garfield’s first ever straight-ahead jazz date, “Jazz Outside the Box,” continues to gather radio spins and receive accolades. “Jammin’ Outside the Box” mixes it up in the smooth/contemporary jazz sandbox showcasing luminaries Benson, Sanborn, Smokey Robinson, Michael McDonald, Ray Parker Jr., Oleta Adams, Phil Perry, Marcus Miller, Kirk Whalum, Rick Braun and many more. The outing’s first single, “Go Home,” hit No. 2 on the Billboard chart, while the follow up, “Jamming,” rose to No. 8.

Garfield will perform music from “Outside the Box” on May 31at Cleveland’s Night Town and celebrate “Jazz Outside the Box” on June 12 in Hollywood at the Catalina Jazz Club featuring special guests.

For more information, please visit www.DavidGarfield.com.