Inspired sax with a hip-hop lean‏

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Inspired sax with a hip-hop lean

 

Sam Rucker urges “Be True 2 Who U R” ahead of the June 3 release of “Tell You Something”

Williamsburg, Virginia (31 March 2014): Hip-hop producer turned contemporary jazz saxophonist Sam Rucker has something to say. Blending jazz, hip-hop, soul and gospel, he communicates through inspirational instrumentals that meaningfully resonate with listeners. Nearly three years in the making, his sophomore album, “Tell You Something,” is slated for release from Favor Productions on June 3 and includes contributions from Norman Connors, Bobby Lyle, Tom Browne and Alyson Williams on the set mixed and mastered by Euge Groove.

Rucker produced “Tell You Something” featuring eight originals that he wrote or co-penned. The tracks harness the rhythms and intensity of hip-hop, melodic phrasing typical of R&B, rousing gospel affirmations and improvisational jazz nuances. A fan of vintage R&B, Rucker was honored to share production chores with Connors on instrumental renditions of three classics: “Before I Let Go,” “Footsteps in the Dark” and Connors’ signature hit, “You Are My Starship.” Lyle’s keyboard wizardry is on full display on each cover tune with gregarious solos while Browne’s regal trumpet adds a touch of class along with a fervent solo to “Starship.” Williams’ glorifies “Before I Let Go” and “Footsteps” with her lustrous voice. But it’s one of Rucker’s own empowering compositions, “Be True 2 Who U R,” that will be the first to receive airplay from the radio-friendly disc when it is serviced to stations in May. Rucker, who plays keyboards as well as tenor, alto and soprano sax on the record, elects to use his soprano horn over the chunky hip hop beats on the single.

“My desire as an artist is not only to entertain, but to be a communicator – to connect with the listener in such a way that they are encouraged and inspired by my music. Even as an instrumentalist, I believe my music speaks lyrically and I use it to convey uplifting messages. I wrote ‘Be True 2 Who U R,’ ‘No Other Way’ and ‘Ain’t Nothin’ Like It’ to inspire confidence in one’s individuality. My music has a unique fingerprint and the songs on the album celebrate what the Creator put in me to share with the world. ‘Tell You Something’ and ‘A Million Ways’ convey my gratitude for the gifts He’s given me. ‘Brighter Day,’ ‘Love’s Melody’ and ‘A Long Way to Go’ were written to offer compassion for the sacrifices and struggles that we face in life and touch that place in our soul where adversity rests. ‘Brighter Day’ advocates that a brighter day will come if you keep the faith. The covers I selected pay tribute to some of the great R&B artists that shaped my listening while growing up. One of whom, Norman Connors, I had the pleasure of working with on this album,” said Rucker, a Virginia Beach, Virginia native who studied music while attending nearby James Madison University.

Shortly after releasing his 2011 debut album, “Heat from the Heavens,” that introduced his formula of “hip-hop grooves + jazz melodies + a splash of inspirational lyrics,” Rucker met Connors and planning commenced straightaway for “Tell You Something.” The saxman toured as a member of Connors’ Starship Orchestra through 2012. Over the years, Rucker has performed with Peter White, Ronnie Laws, Phil Perry, Cindy Bradley, Ivan Neville, Howard Hewett and Gerald Veasley as well as Groove, Browne and Williams. His work as producer spans hip-hop, gospel and spoken word. Rucker gigs throughout Virginia and looks to expand his routing nationally with the successful release of “Tell You Something.” For more information, please visit www.SamRucker.com and http://www.reverbnation.com/rpk/samrucker.

The cuts contained on “Tell You Something” are:

“Tell You Something”

“Before I Let Go”

“A Million Ways”

“You Are My Starship”

“Be True 2 Who U R”

“Ain’t Nothin’ Like It”

“Footsteps in the Dark”

“Brighter Day”

“No Other Way”

“Love’s Melody”

“A Long Way to Go”

“Tell You Something” (album version)

 

 

ANNA DANES

What started out as a hobby for Anna Danes turned out to be the opportunity of a lifetime. For Anna, taking voice lessons from her mentor, Larry White, positioned her at just the right place at the right time. She didn’t hesitate in taking his advice to go into the studio and record a demo. It was then that she saw her own voice in a different light for the first time and embraced the idea of making an album. With her incredible voice and the help of White, she recorded her debut cd “Longing.” It is full of emotions, and love serves as the backdrop for every song. Anna describes it as a reflection of her life, both past and present.

 

Anna Danes

Anna Danes

Jackiem Joyner/”Evolve”‏

The evolution of an imaginative young artist is fascinating to behold, especially those refusing to play it safe after achieving success and notoriety. Jackiem Joyner (www.JackiemJoyner.com), an award-winning chart-topping saxophonist, is stretching the limits of what urban contemporary jazz grooves can be while moving towards a more organic live sound on his fifth album, “Evolve,” which will be released April 29. He wrote and produced the highly-rhythmic 11-song CD we sent you featuring collaborations with multiple Grammy-nominated saxophonist Gerald Albright and internationally renowned keyboardist Keiko Matsui.

Joyner has always had knack for crafting catchy R&B-pop melodies and his deft touch with honeyed harmonies remains. What changed are the inventive rhythms and textured sonic-scapes he’s constructed under his gentle yet impassioned horn play. The futuristic aural backdrop stands in stark contrast to the visceral sound of his sax.

First cut from “Evolve” going to radio is “Generation Next,” a musical declaration from Joyner that the next generation of jazz artists is here to stay. You can view a live performance clip of the single to get a taste of how Joyner mixes and matches jazz, R&B and instrumental pop with searing rock guitar. http://youtu.be/KXJbzKS7HEs

Joyner debuted in 2007 when he was named Debut Artist of the Year for his first offering, “Babysoul.” His sophomore set, “Lil’ Man Soul,” spawned a pair of No. 1 Billboard singles, including “I’m Waiting For You,” which won Song of the Year honors at the 2009 Smooth Jazz Awards. The momentum continued even before he reached the age of 30 when two singles from his self-titled third album shot up to No. 2 and No. 3 on Billboard. Switching gears, Joyner embraced his church roots in 2012 with the gospel jazz record, “Church Boy.” It will be intriguing to hear where the popular concert performer ventures next.

Rick Scott

Great Scott P.R.oductions

 

THE ERIC ESSIX JAZZ ESCAPE

The year of 2014 is off to a great start for Eric Essix. He is enjoying a multitude of success from his latest release “Evolution” and planning an event with a purpose. The Eric Essix Jazz Escape will be held in Birmingham, Alabama on August 29-31 this year. This will be the first year of the Escape that Essix plans to have annually–very appropriately named an Escape versus a festival because that is what Eric intends the experience to feel like. The Jazz Escape will be held at the Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa. The line-up for the three day event will include Brian Culbertson, Rick Braun, and Essix’s own band just to name a few. All the proceeds from the Jazz Escape will go directly to Eric’s non-profit foundation, The Eric Essix Foundation for the Arts and Education.

Eric talks with me about his vision and plans for Jazz Escape.

The Eric Essix Jazz Escape

The Eric Essix Jazz Escape

THE “TENACITY” OF PAUL TAYLOR

If ever there were a most appropriate title for Paul Taylor’s latest album, “Tenacity” wins hands down. Nineteen years in the music business and counting, he shows no signs of slowing down. In the past few years, Paul has had a #1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charts, #1 on the airplay charts, and a Top Ten album on the Billboard Jazz Albums charts. It is no surprise that he continues to be successful. He’s mastered the balancing act of maintaining a solo career and being a member of several projects over the years. Taylor lends his talents to Keiko Matsui’s band, The Rippingtons, Groovin For Grover, Gentlemen of the Night, and Sax and the City. I told him he must be a “superhero.” Paul attributes his success to tenacity, making the title “Tenacity” not one difficult to come up with. He joined forces with his longtime friend and colleague Don Espisito when he embarked upon the making of his 10th album to be released on March 18th. He invited some of jazz’s favorites to collaborate with him on “Tenacity.” Johnathan Fritzen plays on the funky opening song “Supernova” while Jeff Lorber adds his touch to the smooth tune “Luxe,” and Paul Hardcastle ignites the fun “Peace of Mind.” The final song on the album is significantly titled “Empire” because it symbolizes Paul reflecting on all that he has accomplished.

Listen as he shares the story with me.

Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor

THE PLACE WHERE “STYLE MEETS SUBSTANCE”

As a child growing up, Marcus Anderson would hear his father tell him repeatedly, “protect your hands, that’s going to be your ticket.” Those words kept Marcus from having to do too much heavy work growing up, and they also were instinctively true. Marcus became a skilled saxophone player throughout his younger years and continued growing as a musician, thus inevitably becoming a multi-instrumentalist; not to mention that he is also a producer, songwriter, vocalist, and thrilling entertainer. Anderson works with some of the best artists in music. With too many to name, however, I’ll just name a few: Alex Bugnon, Brian Simpson, Nicholas Cole, and PRINCE. Although he is in a fortunate situation, Marcus embraces the opportunity to learn and grow from the wisdom of his fellow musicians. He will be releasing his fifth album titled “Style Meets Substance” on March 25th–appropriately titled as he shows that he not has “style” but also “substance.”  And both style and substance are definitely recognizable on this sexy, smooth, and funky album. Marcus exhibits versatility along with his creative instincts and ability to collaborate with just the right musicians to bring his music to life.

Marcus Anderson

Marcus Anderson

Brian Culbertson’s “Another Long Night Out” debuts at No. 1‏

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Brian Culbertson’s “Another Long Night Out” debuts at No. 1

Hitmaker revisits his contemporary jazz roots joined by an all-star cast to reinterpret his debut album 20 years later.

Los Angeles, Calif. (7 March 2014): Twenty years after the release of his debut album, “Long Night Out,” award-winning contemporary jazz/R&B multi-instrumentalist Brian Culbertson completely reimagined the collection as “Another Long Night Out,” his 14th album and first on his BCM Entertainment label, which debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Albums chart. The set spotlighting a stellar collective comprised of many of the contemporary jazz luminaries that influenced and inspired Culbertson to make the first record is the musician’s sixth album to debut at No. 1. Speeding up the Billboard Smooth Jazz Songs chart to No. 2, the first single, “Fullerton Ave.” featuring guitarist Chuck Loeb, is on the road to earning Culbertson his 27th No. 1 single as an artist, producer and songwriter.

The day before the February 25 album release, Culbertson took over Sirius XM’s Watercolors for 16 hours programming cuts from the new collection as well as from some of the musicians featured on “Another Long Night Out” including Loeb, Lee Ritenour, Eric Marienthal, Rick Braun, Steve Lukather, Russ Freeman, “Patches” Stewart, Candy Dulfer and Jonathan Butler. Other noteworthy musicians appearing on the remake are Paul Jackson Jr., Jimmy Haslip, Will Kennedy, Nathan East, the late Ricky Lawson, Ray Parker Jr., Jeff Kashiwa, Larry Dunn and Ricky Peterson along with a 33-piece orchestra playing arrangements by David Benoit and Culbertson.

For the first time, Culbertson has made the sheet music used during the “Another Long Night Out” recording sessions available for free on his website. Musicians that want to play along can purchase “Music Minus One” mixes for piano, bass, drums and “band only” (no piano or other lead instruments) on Culbertson’s webstore.

Recorded in the bedroom of his crowded college apartment above a Chicago costume shop while he was a 20-year-old music student at DePaul University, the three demos that formed the basis of “Long Night Out” landed Culbertson a 6-album record deal. The notion to rebuild the album from scratch using fresh arrangements and feature performances from contemporary jazz royalty has long-ruminated inside Culbertson’s head and began with a wish list cast of musicians.

“The idea behind the remake was to make the album the way I always wanted to do it. Over the years, I’d randomly listen to that album. I liked the songs and arrangements, but always heard things that I would have liked to have done differently, mainly because of the limitations I had at the time. I had a very limited budget and limited technology so I tried to make the instruments sound real even though I had to use synth piano, a drum machine and synth bass. Now I can use real piano and live players along with the experience I’ve had over the past 20 years as a producer,” said Culbertson, who also had another purpose for the new recording in mind. “I wanted to return to my roots and introduce newer fans to another side of me as a musician and an artist. Contemporary jazz fans will dig ‘Another Long Night Out.’ I hadn’t done a full instrumental album in years. It is jazz fusion-y and I want to be known as a broader artist than just the R&B/funk guy. A lot of people didn’t know the (music on the) first album, which is out of print.”

Also a popular concert draw known for high-energy performances and masterful musicianship, Culbertson will begin rehearsals next week for an entirely new show that will be unveiled at a dress rehearsal March 12 for invited guests and 94.7 The Wave Los Angeles radio station contest winners with the first tour dates in support of “Another Long Night Out” taking place March 20-23 at Seattle’s Jazz Alley. Last week, Culbertson played a short set in Napa for Wine Country royalty as he launched his own wine, “Culbertson” Pinot Noir by Reata Wines, a personal blend he created in partnership with Jamieson Ranch Vineyards. Tickets for Culbertson’s third annual Napa Valley Jazz Getaway, a star-studded wine and jazz festival that will again lure thousands of enthusiasts from all over the world to Napa June 11-15, 2014, are on sale now with the June 14 & 15 shows taking place on the stunning Jamieson Ranch property.

For more information, please visit www.BrianCulbertson.me.