New edition of the Arizona Jazz Festival is packed with soul‏

AZ 2014

 

New edition of the Arizona Jazz Festival is packed with soul

R&B veterans Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill, Ralph Tresvant, Charlie Wilson, Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Mint Condition, Kem, Fantasia and Jaheim join smooth jazz headliners

Boney James, Brian Culbertson, Mindi Abair, Peter White, Euge Groove and more

 

Phoenix, Arizona (28 July 2014): Thousands of concertgoers from all over the U.S. will be dancing in the desert October 24-26, 2014 when a stellar lineup of R&B and smooth jazz artists perform at the fall version of the Arizona Jazz Festival taking place at the posh Arizona Grand Resort & Spa. Tickets are on sale now for single-day and 3-day passes priced from $50 to $750 available at the festival’s website (www.ArizonaJazzFestival.com) and by calling event producer BTWconcerts.com at 602-244-8444.

 

The boys will be out to play when the Arizona Jazz Festival blasts off with perhaps the strongest opening night lineup in the semi-annual festival’s history. The cool cat in the hat, four-time Grammy nominee Boney James gets the event started with his soulful sax grooves that never fail to stir the crowd to spontaneously erupt into a fervent “Go Boney! Go Boney!” chant. Jaheim employs his distinctive husky voice to chronicle his pained upbringing and tales of ghetto life that have earned him three Grammy nominations. It is far from the end of the road for Philly’s finest Boyz II Men, a trio that harmonizes in perfect union while presenting their Grammy-winning songbook filled with R&B/pop vocal and a cappella hits. New Edition members Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant, each of whom has also scored solo hits, are touring as Heads of State and you can bank on a well-choreographed, high-octane show from these R&B superstars.

It will “Be OK” on Saturday when Grammy-winning alchemist Chrisette Michele takes the stage to sing her empowering love songs blending R&B, soul, jazz and hip hop. Equally capable of seducing with her proficient saxophone skills as well as her feminine wiles, Mindi Abair has it all. She will team with Booker T and Elliot Yamin for a hot buttered soul, blues and rock jam. Fantasia’s incomparable voice reflects the real-life pain that’s she endured molding her into a mesmerizing talent. At heart, crossover crooner Brian McKnight is a singer-songwriter able to captivate with compelling lyrics, rich melodies and an emotional vocal delivery. Those in attendance at last fall’s Arizona Jazz Festival are still abuzz over the show that “Uncle” Charlie Wilson put on. The BET Lifetime Achievement Award and Soul Train Icon Award winner marched through his hits backed by a skin tight band, elaborate dance routines performed with precision by an army of performers and enough costume changes to rival Beyoncé. Expect more of the same.

The energy continues on full blast Sunday with sax showman Eric Darius making sure that patrons will arrive early to catch the consistent crowd pleaser. British guitarist Peter White and sax powerhouse Euge Groove have racked up enough No. 1 hits between them to keep the festival going for days, but they’ll rip through their biggest and best in an afternoon session. Mint Condition keeps the endangered full band concept alive with a rich R&B sound spiked with funk, rock, Latin and reggae. Multi-talented keyboardist Brian Culbertson is responsible for 27 No. 1 hits and is out on his 20th anniversary tour while supporting his sixth album to debut at No. 1, “Another Long Night.” Kem’s suave and sophisticated voice melts into steamy, sensual grooves that have earned him a pair of Grammy nominations and a Billboard Music Award. The festivities conclude in old school party mode with Maze featuring Frankie Beverly who leads audiences through sing-a-long sets of the outfit’s enduring classics.

The Arizona Jazz Festival is a lifestyle experience as fans spend the weekend immersed in the music, the lavish resort’s first-class amenities and the adjacent food, fashion and crafts expo. The Arizona Grand Resort & Spa is the state’s only award-winning all-suite resort in Phoenix set amidst a challenging 18-hole golf course, spacious athletic club, luxurious spa and salon and a 7-acre water park. Six different dining options on the property enable festival goers to never have to leave the grounds during the weekend. A limited number of tickets and hotel packages are available through the festival’s website.

About BTWconcerts.com

Phoenix, Arizona-based BTWconcerts.com is one of the preeminent concert producers in the Southwest. Among the star-studded jazz and R&B concerts and multiday music and lifestyle festivals that the company promotes at first-class resorts for adult audiences are the Arizona Jazz Festival (http://ArizonaJazzFestival.com), San Diego Jazz Festival (http://www.SanDiegoJazzFest.com) and the Las Vegas Jazz Festival (http://www.LVJazzFestival.com). BTWconcerts.com’s sister company for events at sea, BTWatsea.com will launch the maiden voyage of the Maxwell + The 7 Seas Cruise (http://www.maxwellatsea.com/) May 3-10, 2015 hosted by the Grammy-winning balladeer.

TERRI LYNE CARRINGTON

Terri Lyne Carrington had a childhood that afforded her the opportunity to know and work with jazz musicians including her father, Sonny Carrington–a saxophonist. There is no doubt that it was Terry’s destiny to have a substantial and rewarding career in music. She is full of creative energy that propels her to be a consummate professional and musician who is driven to complete tangible pieces of work. In the midst of it all, Carrington also maintainins a career as a professor at Berklee in Boston. Throughout her illustrious career, she has collaborated with just about everyone in the business from Stan Getz to Herbie Hancock; that’s just to name a small few. Terri was honored by her peers and won a Grammy in 2011 for The Mosaic Project. With that project, she worked with and celebrated talented women. She believes that to be successful in this business, you have to know that it is a puzzle, and you have to have all the pieces in order to be truly successful. It’s about longevity and maintaining it and always being ready when the door opens. She is such a smart woman and musician that after reading a book about Duke Ellington, she decided to pay tribute to him by recording Money Jungle: Proactive in Blue last year. Terri hopes to “aspire to inspire.” Although she’s been producing for a while, she enjoys the fact that it puts her in the driver’s seat, allowing her room to create. Recently, she produced Dianne Reeves’ latest album, Beautiful Life, and worked with saxophonist Tia Fuller to produce her future project. On the horizon for Terri is Mosiac 2 which fans can be assured will be a masterpiece.

Terri and I briefly chat about her successful career:

Terri Lyne Carrington

Terri Lyne Carrington

 

ERIC ROBERSON ON “THE BOX”

When you hear an artist who woos you with their velvety voice and multidimensional music, you know you’re listening to someone special. When you see that artist perform live, you’re given a glimpse into just how good they are. Eric Roberson–unbeknownst to some–is a singer, songwriter, producer, and Grammy Award Nominee. He has worked with artists such as Jill Scott, Dwele, and Kim Waters. Growing up in a home surrounded by music, ironically, it wasn’t until Eric’s early twenties that he realized music was going to be his life. He takes the diversity of a myriad of genres along with inspiration from those he’s worked with to create music that infuses everything from hip hop to R&B to rock. There are so many facets to Roberson–not to mention his riveting live performances. The chemistry between him and his band is incredible to witness. It is as if they are all sharing the same mind and thoughts simultaneously. His performances can be viewed as theatrical in a sense. With the ability to improvise and make up songs with suggestions from the crowd, he adds another entire dimension for the viewers. Eric’s uncanny ability to engage the fans by pulling them into his performances enhances the experience exponentially. With the highly anticipated release of his tenth album, The Box, being released on August 12th, Roberson is thrilled to share new music with his fans.

Eric and I discuss his career and The Box in a live interview:

 

Eric Roberson "The Box"

Eric Roberson “The Box

Unforgettable all-star lineup leads to a record sell-out and a second sailing of The Smooth Jazz Cruise‏

cruise

 

Unforgettable all-star lineup leads to a record sell-out and a second sailing of The Smooth Jazz Cruise

 

Natalie Cole, David Sanborn, Marcus Miller, Boney James, Brian Culbertson, Candy Dulfer, Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler, Joe Sample, Peter White and more will headline two Caribbean voyages in 2015

St. Louis, Missouri (23 July 2014): While sailing into placid blue-green Caribbean waters last January, The Smooth Jazz Cruise encountered a tidal wave of demand for cabins for the 2015 sailing. On just the second day of the 2014 venture, next year’s cruise sailing January 11-18, 2015 showcasing more than twenty of the brightest stars in contemporary jazz and R&B sold out. To make sure that no one would be left stranded ashore, cruise producer Entertainment Cruise Productions, working with cruise line Holland America and the enthusiastic cooperation of the artists and musicians, swiftly put together a solution to rescue the lengthy waiting list of enthusiasts from all over the world eager to be part of the luxurious musical vacation adventure. Six days later, The Smooth Jazz Cruise 15.2 sailing March 1-8, 2015 was conceived.

Spending a week at sea performing, meeting and hanging out with fans aboard Holland America’s m/s Eurodam while visiting exotic Caribbean ports during the traditional January time slot fits nicely into the musicians’ schedules because most don’t tour or release new albums immediately after the holiday season, but rounding up everyone six weeks later in March, including such Grammy winners, legends and chart-toppers as Natalie Cole, David Sanborn, Marcus Miller, Boney James, Brian Culbertson, Candy Dulfer, Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler, Joe Sample, Peter White and many others, could have been difficult.

“We called all the artists’ agents and managers and they were happy to hear about the unprecedented demand so everyone was ready and willing to sign up immediately,” said Entertainment Cruise Productions’ Executive Director Michael Lazaroff of the cruise that will depart Fort Lauderdale and visit Nassau, St. Thomas, St. Croix and the private island Half Moon Cay. “The Smooth Jazz Cruise is simply the best entertainment in the world of smooth jazz. No other festival or event can boast this level and depth of talent, fun and excitement. As it’s affectionately known, it is ‘The Greatest Party at Sea.’”

Capturing the unique spirit of the perennially sold-out cruise that many guests embark upon year after year has been a bit of a challenge as well. Offering live music plus DJ Biz Markie in six different venues large and intimate on top of informative panels, theme parties and autograph sessions with the artists, it is more than a music festival and more than backstage experiences with fan favorites. It is more than a vacation in the Caribbean with a dazzling array of amenities and delectable dining. It is more than a week of pampering during which everyone is treated first class by the Holland America staff. For the past twelve years on 17 full-ship charters, The Smooth Jazz Cruise has delivered unforgettable music and lifestyle experiences. Something special happens when passionate guests devote the entire week to being immersed in the music. A new video clip that provides a glimpse into the magic that occurs on every sailing is as close as one can get without leaving shore. It can be viewed at http://www.thesmoothjazzcruise.com/Videos/PreCruise2015.

To reserve a cabin for The Smooth Jazz Cruise, call toll-free 888.852.9987 in the U.S. and Canada and 800.852.99872 internationally. Additional information is available at www.TheSmoothJazzCruise.com.

About Entertainment Cruise Productions, LLC

The world leader in full-ship charter music cruises, St. Louis, Missouri-based Entertainment Cruise Productions, LLC (ECP) owns, produces and promotes The Smooth Jazz Cruise and The Jazz Cruise (www.thejazzcruise.com), and is proud to partner with Time Life for the Soul Train Cruise (www.soultraincruise.com), Malt Shop Memories Cruise (www.maltshopcruise.com), The Country Music Cruise (www.countrymusiccruise.com) and The Signature Jazz Cruise on Seabourn (www.signaturejazzcruise.com). Pleasing guests is Entertainment Cruise Productions’ most important goal and objective while providing luxurious vacation experiences featuring marquee stars from their respective music genres in an extraordinary setting for devoted passengers, many of whom make the fun and exciting cruises an annual affair. Additional information is available at www.ecpcruises.com.

I “CAN’T HELP MYSELF” – GREG CHAMBERS

Life for Greg Chambers has certainly changed since the release of his EP, After Hours. His fans are eager, and the buzz is loud surrounding the August 1st release of his latest album, Can’t Help Myself. Chambers admits that it is a great feeling to know that the work you poured your heart and soul into is loved and well received by old and new fans. With this in mind and a clear direction, he embarked on a year-long process to make sure that each song was done the right way–an indicator that Greg will continue to make an indelible impression on smooth jazz, amongst his peers, and on his fans. Can’t Help Myself consists of nine original songs and two covers that Greg produced with Nate Harasim and Matt Godina. He also collaborated with Julian Vaughn, Paul Brown, and Nils. Chambers’ desire was for each song to have his its own identity. He went into the creative process for this album with three standards: each melody had to be on point, the performances had to be compelling, and it had to have dimension. The first radio single and album title Can’t Help Myself represents the aforementioned standards and was added to radio on July 21st. On the morning of our interview on July 22nd, Greg received an email that his single was the fourth most added on the billboard. With that in mind, I would say that Can’t Help Myself is off to a great start.

Greg and I have an enjoyable chat:

Greg C 2

 

 

PHIL PERRY CELEBRATES 45 YEARS IN MUSIC

The unmistakable voice of Phil Perry has graced us for over four decades. For generations upon generations who have loved his music, it is a gift to still have him sharing his talents with us. Although it has been 45 years for Phil in the music industry, it doesn’t feel like it has been that long to him. He is honored, fortunate, and humbled to have earned the respect of his peers for all these years. Perry has prided himself on his professionalism and feels that it has been a sustaining quality throughout the years. He is critical of himself when it comes to writing, yet he is led to write. His latest album, “Say Yes,” features some original tunes and some covers. The covers–although recognizable–are not the same. They have Phil Perry all over them. The album spent weeks on the smooth jazz charts as Top Vocal and Top 10. He collaborated with Chante Moore on the song “Where Is The Love,” and it has spent weeks as Billboards’ Top Smooth Jazz Vocal. Phil enjoys performing and always delivers more live than you can hear from simply pushing play. His success can be attributed to the fact that he is grateful for every chance he has to make music because it makes him a better singer each time. In addition, he attempts to leave himself in what he is doing, and that creates an emotional connection between him and his audience. Perry’s advice to anyone who wants to be in the business is to “make sure you love it, and love it to the degree that you’re willing to suffer for it. Because without suffering, there’s no growth.” I personally couldn’t agree more and have been profoundly inspired by his wisdom and willingness to share it.

From the porch of his home in California on a picture perfect day, Phil shares his story with me:

Phil Perry "Say Yes"

Phil Perry “Say Yes”

 

 

THE BEST OF PATRICE RUSHEN

Patrice Rushen has accomplished over the years what most musicians will never experience. Her gift has earned her insurmountable accolades including Grammy nominations. As an accomplished and world renowned pianist, composer, producer, and musical director, Patrice has worked with a vast array of artists across the genre lines. Beyond her 14 solo albums, she’s been honored by ASCAP and also received an honorary doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music where she’s currently a professor. Rushen gives back by working to ensure that music education is available to young people in LA. When she reflects over her career, although she could have never imagined it, it’s all been a learning experience. Being the best that she can be is how she approaches life, and she uses each experience as a building block for the next. Patrice’s advice is to “determine your why, and how it resonates with who you are.” She believes, “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Rushen shares more profound wisdom with me:

Patrice Rushen promo