WILL DOWNING’S SONG GARDEN

When it comes to singing and writing timeless songs, Will Downing does it like no other. His undeniably successful career has spanned decades; he knows how to keep his fans satisfied and wanting more. Will’s 24th album “The Song Garden” is set for release on January 29th. What began as a couple of song releases during the pandemic blossomed into an album. The singles were received and applauded around the world, and fans will absolutely relish “The Secret Garden.” The first single from the album is titled “Stand Up.” Not only does it speak to the current atmosphere in our country, but it inspires and reminds us to stay strong. The album is a combination of all things we know and love about Downing. As you’ll hear in our interview, we are both anticipating the return of live music. Enjoy my interview with Will.

WILL DOWNING’S SONG GARDEN

 

 

When it comes to singing and writing timeless songs, Will Downing does it like no other. His undeniably successful career has spanned decades; he knows how to keep his fans satisfied and wanting more. Will’s 24th album “The Song Garden” is set for release on January 29th. What began as a couple of song releases during the pandemic blossomed into an album. The singles were received and applauded around the world, and fans will absolutely relish “The Secret Garden.” The first single from the album is titled “Stand Up.” Not only does it speak to the current atmosphere in our country, but it inspires and reminds us to stay strong. The album is a combination of all things we know and love about Downing. As you’ll hear in our interview, we are both anticipating the return of live music. Enjoy my interview with Will.

HE IS STOKLEY

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While the world is dealing with a pandemic, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Stokley Williams is taking time to reflect and finding the silver lining in the midst of it all. His single “She,” from his upcoming album “Sankofa,” is a current favorite amongst both old and new fans. The single has earned two weeks at no.1 on the Billboard Urban Adult Contemporary Chart. While speaking to Stokely about life, I recalled our conversation three years ago and before he released his first album, “Introducing Stokley.” Furthermore, we covered the success he has had since then. On this album, Stokely reconnected with his mentors, super duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. He also collaborated with Snoop Dogg on the second single. titled “Vibrant.” Stokley’s acknowledgement of where he came from is the driving force for “Sankofa.”

Listen and enjoy my conversation with Stokley:

LINDSEY WEBSTER SHARES “A WOMAN LIKE ME”

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In the midst of a pandemic, Lindsey Webster, alongside the rest of us, is adjusting to the new normal. She released her fifth album, “A Woman Like Me,” on March 27th. Since then, “A Woman Like Me” has debuted #1 on iTunes jazz, and this week, the album is #1 on the Billboard chart. The project is doing extremely well and is bringing joy and positivity to Webster’s fans. Lindsey collaborated with artists she’d never met yet had always admired. Nathan East adds a solo to the title track, and Vinnie Colaiuta and Luis Conte can be heard on other songs. Creating and recording with new energy was an enjoyable part of the making of this album. Webster grew up in Woodstock and has always been supported and given the freedom to be her true self; it’s evident when listening to all of her music–especially, on this album. She is at the apex of her career and unapologetic about the woman she has become. Lindsey is always striving to better herself and figure out her place in the world. 

Listen to my conversation with Lindsey about her new album: 

 

 

KAYLA WATERS IS IN “FULL BLOOM”

Kayla Waters

Urban-jazz pianist Kayla Waters has everything it takes and more to be a successful artist. She is strong, confident, grounded, focused on her gifts, and translates it all beautifully through her music. Kayla is enjoying the success of her sophomore album “Coevolve” and feeling the love with her second consecutive Billboard No.1 single “Zephyr.” This week, her latest single, “Full Bloom,” is No.2. Waters took an eight-month hiatus from social media to focus solely on her music and her connection with God. The fruits of doing so was the creation of “Coevolve.” It tells the story of two things: first is life of a plant and how it grows; second is Kayla herself and how, like the plant, she, too, is growing and blossoming. Essentially, Waters is telling her life story in every song. Additionally, she collaborated with Michael Broening on the single “Full Bloom.” She is currently working on her third album, touring, and preparing to launch her own production company. She’ll be sharing the stage with her father, saxophonist Kim Waters, on December 6th in Charlotte, NC at the Mcglohon Theater.

Listen as Kayla shares some of her story with me: 

This Friday: Urban-Jazz pianist Kayla Waters to perform Dec. 6 at the McGloghon Theater in Charlotte

Kayla Waters

One of the most exciting and visionary urban-jazz artists to arrive in recent years, pianist Kayla Waters (www.iamkaylawaters.com) is touring in support of her sophomore album, “Coevolve,” which spawned her second consecutive Billboard No. 1 single, “Zephyr.” The creative and energizing force of substance and style plays the McGloghon Theater in Charlotte on December 6.

Waters, an award-winning musician, songwriter and producer, crafted “Coevolve” that she describes as a collection of “rich polyphonic textures, unique sounds, tones, impromptu melodic, harmonic and rhythmic nuances that justly epitomize the aeolian cycle of God, music and natural life.​” That description  alone reflects the depth of her recordings. Waters masterfully deploys alluring melodies and enveloping grooves while presenting scholarly, divine concepts that stimulate contemplation. Her earthy and organic aural palette incorporates soulful R&B, improvised modern jazz, freeform indie sensibilities and celestial inspirational music that touches hearts, minds and souls. And she has only begun to scratch the surface of her artistic gifts and vision.

“Coevolve” follows Waters’ 2017 debut disc, “Apogee,” an enchanting flight far beyond the borders of contemporary jazz powered by the Billboard No. 1 single, “I Am,” a confident introduction to a compelling and charismatic artist who is making the music genre refreshing for the stalwarts and appealing to young millennials through her recorded offerings and by her powerful presence. Both the breakthrough single and album ended the year on Billboard’s yearend charts.

The Black Women in Jazz and the Arts Foundation honored Waters with their Rising Star in Jazz award and the Washington, DC-based artist was named Best Jazz Artist at the Wammies. Waters has performed at major festivals, theaters and clubs around the globe with the upcoming tour stop part of a busy concert itinerary.

MUSIC KEEPS CALLING RAPHAEL SAADIQ

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On a recent pleasurable visit to Blakeslee Recording Studio in Burbank, California, I sat down with studio owner Raphael Saadiq to discuss his latest project “Jimmy Lee.” Saadiq shared glimpses of his childhood growing up in Oakland, California and his emergence as an artist, songwriter, and producer, as well as the creation of what the world now knows as the album “Jimmy Lee,” named aptly for his brother. It is a collection of songs that most can relate to in one way or another. Raphael is candid, humble, and brilliant. His artistry has touched and crossed over a multitude of facets in the entertainment industry including movies and television. The first single from the album, titled “Something Keeps Calling” featuring Rob Bacon, came in recently at no.1 on the Urban Contemporary/R&B chart.

Enjoy my conversation with Raphael Saadiq at Blakeslee Studio where his hits come to life:

#1 Billboard Artist Najee Drops 18th & New CD Friday – Jazziz Has Exclusive Stream Now!

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#1 BILLBOARD ARTIST & MULTI-PLATINUM SELLING JAZZ VISIONARY NAJEE IS BACK WITH NEW MUSIC SURE TO CAPTURE
THE CENTER OF THE HEART
In a business where trends and artists come and go, Najee’s name is synonymous with innovation, consistency and the best in contemporary jazz. The visionary has enjoyed an enviable three-decade career by staying true to his own artistic vision. “Throughout my career, I have enjoyed working with diverse musicians in so many different musical contexts,” confides the two-time Platinum-selling and four-time Gold-selling multi-instrumentalist. “All of these experiences live inside you and they come out in your music. Honestly, if I were not able to mix it up, I would be bored.” Mentored by iconic saxmen Jimmy Heath and Frank Foster and flutist Harold Jones, the New England Conservatory of Music alum has worked with a who’s who list in music that includes Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones and Herbie Hancock. Najee’s anticipated 18th new recording, Center Of The Heart, (Shanachie, November 15, 2019) showcases his technical agility, grace, compositional prowess, unbridled passion and fearless genre bending on ten thrilling tracks. Deftly wielding the soprano, flute, tenor and alto, Najee steers the ten-track excursion, showcasing moving originals, a hauntingly beautiful orchestration of a Bacharach/David classic, a sizzling reinvention of a Maxwell hit and unforgettable collaborations with singer Kenny Lattimore, pianist Greg Manning (Brian McKnight, Deniece Williams, Dave Koz, Jonathan Butler), saxophonist Darren Rahn (Wayman Tisdale, Toby Keith, Dave Koz, Jeff Lorber), and keyboardist/producer Demonte Posey (Eric Benet, Babyface, Toni Braxton).
Najee is a master storyteller. Whether the debonair multi-instrumentalist is engaged in a verbal or musical conversation, his alluring charisma has a way of seducing you into his world. Center Of The Heart finds Najee doing what he does best – shape-shifting through diverse musical terrain and fusing all of the elements that have made him a fan favorite all of these years. The CD opens with the exhilarating and inviting “Bella Vista,” an original Najee penned with Demonte Posey that shines a spotlight on Najee’s dazzling, agile and pristine flute work. The album’s first single unites Najee with saxophonist Darren Rahn who co-wrote the track and who has previously produced for Najee and written hits for Dave Koz and Wayman Tisdale. “I went to Denver,” recalls Najee. “When we got in the studio I could not get Darren’s sax sound out of my head so I said ‘let’s do this one together’ and call it ‘Face To Face.’” Najee puts his own timeless and sensuous spin on Maxwell’s Sumthin’ Sumthin’ from the singer’s acclaimed Urban Hang Suite and he conjures up his own lush arrangement of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Alfie” from the 1966 film of the same title that was scored by Sonny Rollins. Najee’s idea to play flute instead of the often-recorded tenor saxophone on this track is genius. His impeccable phrasing, flawless tone and sense of timing on this gem almost make time stand still. His performance is breathtaking from the opening note until the end.
Center Of The Heart marks the first time that Najee has recorded with Grammy nominated vocalist Kenny Lattimore. “Kenny and I started our careers around same time and never did a record together even though we have been around the world together. We first met in 1998 when we both performed at Nelson Mandela’s Gift To the Nation concert in Johannesburg and Durban.” It is undeniable that Najee and Lattimore both get “Better” with time. The laid-back and in-the-pocket flow of “The Way She Moves” features Najee’s bluesy tenor while the soulful “One Note Love” is a family affair. The latter features Najee’s son, rapper Superb Clawson and his granddaughter is also heard on the track. The banger “Speak Love!” will have you confessing your love over the way Najee rides danceable grooves and elevates the mood with his joyful orchestration and jubilant melodic anthems. The album’s title track was co-written by and features bassist Blair Bryant, who has collaborated with Stanley Clark, Eric Roberson and Bernie Williams among others. The euphoric and hypnotic feel good track is an album highlight. Center Of The Heart Najee closes with “Tonight We Say Goodbye.” This bittersweet parting is a reminder of why we keep coming back for more.
“When I was about 14 I was playing on a school instrument and everyone in the house was covering their ears and saying “stop, stop!” My mom noticed that it was my thing and kind of my release and bought me my first saxophone,” recalls Najee. As I began to develop on my instrument, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Yusef Lateef and Hubert Laws on flute were some of the artists that inspired me. As an industrious and hungry young musician, Najee had the good fortune of coming through Dr. Billy Taylor’s now legendary Jazzmobile program. While a student at the New England Conservatory (where both Najee and his brother attended) he studied jazz with George Russell and Jaki Byard. When he finished school Najee returned to New York in the early 80s and was lucky to land a gig with Chaka Khan along with his brother, guitarist Fareed (who is now his manager). In 1987 Najee’s Themewas released and the saxophonist earned a slot on tour with singer Freddie Jackson. The following year, Day By Day was released, and in 1991, Tokyo Blue, which is one of Najee’s most successful and enduring recordings. Tokyo Blue (whichwas producedby Najee’s brother Fareed) and Day By Day both went Gold and led to two Soul Train Awards for Najee (Best Jazz Artist in 1991 and 1993). Just An Illusioncame in 1992 and around this time he collaborated with such iconic figures as Quincy Jones and a collaboration with jazz greats Stanley Clarke, Billy Cobham and Larry Carlton resulted in the album Live At The Greek. Share My Worldcame in 1994 and was followed in 1995 by a critically acclaimed tribute to Stevie Wonder’s 1976 classic, Songs In The Key Of Life. The CD was produced by George Duke and featured Herbie Hancock and Sheila E. among others. His CD Morning Tenderness, released in 1998, went to #1 on the contemporary jazz charts. For Najee, the late ‘90s were marked by extraordinary international experiences, from performing at Nelson Mandela’s birthday celebration in South Africa to playing as a special guest of President Clinton at the White House at an event honoring President Jerry Rawlings of the Republic of Ghana. Najee also spent two years of touring (2001-2003) with Prince and appears on Prince’s albums Rainbow Children and One Night Alone. In 2003 Najee released Embrace, featuring special guests Roy Ayers and BeBe Winans. My Point Of View was his follow up in 2005 featuring his good friend and vocalist Will Downing. 2007’s Rising Sun joined Najee with Phil Perry and Mind Over Matter from 2009 paired Najee with singer Eric Benét.  The Smooth Side Of Soul (Najee’s Shanachie debut) followed in 2012, successfully covering such diverse terrain as Jimmy Heath and Ne-Yo and the follow-up, The Morning After, arrived in 2013 debuting at #1 on the Billboard charts and exploring the many sides of love. You, Me & Forever was released in 2015 and united Najee with James Lloyd and Frank McComb among others. In 2017 Najee released Poetry In Motion, dedicated to the memory of Prince and Al Jarreau and featuring an all-star line up including Maysa, Will Downing, Eric Roberson and Incognito.
“I’ve known real legends,” concludes Najee. “I remember watching Charles Mingus rehearse when I was a kid and meeting Sonny Rollins at 16. There is a saying about musicians. It says that we never retire – we just stop hearing music. I still hear music and I love working with people and that is what keeps me inspired.”

Brian Culbertson’s 2020 vision: Drop his 20th album, “XX,” and launch The XX Tour

 

 

 

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Brian Culbertson’s 2020 vision: Drop his 20th album, “XX,” and launch The XX Tour

Tickets go on sale this week for the three-month US concert trek that begins April 1.

CHICAGO (7 November 2019): As chart-topping multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Brian Culbertson crafts his 20th album, the aptly titled “XX” – Roman numerals representing twenty – he revealed plans for the extensive US concert tour that will support the record release. Beginning April 1 in Louisville, Kentucky, Culbertson will take an elaborately designed concert production, The XX Tour, on the road for three consecutive months, playing more than 70 shows, an extremely rare feat for a contemporary jazz artist.

Culbertson’s catalogue includes recordings of jazz – contemporary and straight ahead – as well as R&B, funk, instrumental pop and New Age. “XX,” which drops April 10, reflects his remarkable diversity.

“It’s a mix of things that I’ve done throughout my twenty records. There’s a lot of funky instrumentals, some pop-sounding tracks, a couple slow jams, straight-ahead jazz, gospel, some vocals, lots of horns and some straight-up FUNK! The album is very much a mixture of some modern sounding programming along with live instruments, too. Real drums on almost everything mixed with programming. Definitely a cool sound,” said Culbertson, who invites fans to get involved with the making of “XX” via an Indiegogo campaign that launched this week (https://igg.me/at/BCXX).

Recreating that cool sound live for The XX Tour is Culbertson’s favorite part. Like his massive Colors of Love Tour that played 77 shows in three months and was captured for “Brian Culbertson’s Colors of Love Tour: Live in Las Vegas” Blu-ray disc and two-disc CD that dropped last Valentine’s Day, Culbertson is creating the sound and look for The XX Tour as a sensory experience. The exuberant performer spends months in preproduction meticulously conceiving stunning visuals – staging, lighting, wardrobe and effects – in order to put on a mesmerizing show each time he takes the stage. In addition to spotlighting the new album, the setlist will include cuts from Culbertson’s hit-filled songbook that has amassed 32 Billboard No. 1 singles. There will also be a segment showcasing songs from “Winter Stories,” an album released last month that placed him in an acoustic jazz trio setting for the first time.

Culbertson, who founded and curates the annual Napa Valley Jazz Getaway and Chicago Jazz Getaway music and lifestyle festivals, is offering two tiers of VIP ticket experiences during The XX Tour. The Ultra VIP package includes front row center seats; an intimate pre-show champagne toast backstage with Culbertson; pre-show meet & greet, photo opportunity and performance; exclusive tour merchandise gift; autographed tour poster; commemorative The XX Tour VIP laminate; and early access to the venue for crowd-free merchandise shopping.

The Meet & Greet VIP package consists of premium seats; pre-show meet & greet, photo opportunity and performance; exclusive tour merchandise gift; autographed tour poster; commemorative The XX Tour VIP laminate; and early access to the venue for crowd-free merchandise shopping.

Tickets for The XX Tour go on sale on Wednesday, November 13 at 10am local time exclusively for American Express cardholders and those connected to Culbertson’s social media and fan email lists as well as subscribers to the Napa Valley Jazz Getaway and Chicago Jazz Getaway email lists. On Thursday, November 14 at 10am local time, presales begin for Ticketmaster and the venues’ email lists. The public on-sale starts on Friday, November 15 at 10am local time.

Below is The XX Tour itinerary (more dates will be added to the itinerary when confirmed):

April 1              Louisville, KY                          Bomhard Theater

April 3              New Haven, CT                        Lyman Center for Performing Arts **

April 4              Cranston, RI                             Park Theater

April 5              Reading, PA                             Scottish Rite Cathedral **

April 7              Morristown, NJ                         Mayo Performing Arts Center

April 8              Collingswood, NJ                      Scottish Rite Auditorium

April 9              Buffalo, NY                              Buffalo State Performing Arts Center **

April 10            Pittsburgh, PA                           Roxian Theatre

April 11            Columbus, OH                          Southern Theatre **

April 14            Detroit, MI                               MotorCity Casino Hotel

April 15            Ft. Wayne, IN                           The Clyde Theatre

April 16            Indianapolis, IN                        Egyptian Room at Old National Centre

April 17            Akron, OH                                Akron Civic Theater

April 18            Washington, DC                       Warner Theatre

April 19            Richmond, VA                          The National

April 21            Clearwater, FL                          Bilheimer Capitol Theatre

April 22            Orlando, FL                              Plaza Live

April 23            Sarasota, FL                              Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall *

April 24            Panama City, FL                       Seabreeze Jazz Festival *

April 26            Jacksonville, FL                        Florida Theatre *

April 27            Newberry, SC                           Newberry Opera House *

April 29            Nashville, TN                           Marathon Music Works

May 1               Atlanta, GA                              Atlanta Symphony Hall

May 2               St. Louis, MO                           The Pageant

May 3               Minneapolis, MN                      Fitzgerald Theater

May 5               Joliet, IL                                   Rialto Square Theatre

May 6               Kansas City, MO                      Arvest Back Theatre at The Midland

May 7               Tulsa, OK                                 Cain’s Ballroom

May 8               San Antonio, TX                       Empire Theatre

May 9               Dallas, TX                                Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center Dallas

May 10             Houston, TX                             Cullen Performance Hall

May 14             Ft. Collins, CO                          The Armory

May 15             Denver, CO                              Paramount Theatre

May 19 & 20    Mesa, AZ                                 Mesa Arts Center

May 21             Tucson, AZ                               Rialto Theatre

May 22 & 23    Las Vegas, NV                          Aliante Casino

May 24             Lake Tahoe, NV                        Montbleau Resort Casino & Spa

May 27             Santa Barbara, CA                    Lobero Theatre

May 28             Fresno, CA                               Tower Theatre

May 30             San Diego, CA                          Humphreys

June 3               Bend, OR                                 Tower Theater

June 4               Spokane, WA                           Bing Crosby Theatre

June 5               Seattle, WA                              The Moore Theatre

June 6               Boise, ID                                  The Egyptian Theatre

June 7               Portland, OR                             Revolution Hall

June 12             Yountville, CA                         Napa Valley Jazz Getaway *

June 14             Los Angeles, CA                       The Wiltern

June 17             New Orleans, LA                      The Civic Theatre

June 19             Memphis, TN                            Minglewood Hall

June 21             Charlotte, NC                           Knight Theater

June 24             Durham, NC                             The Carolina Theatre

June 25             Birmingham, AL                       Lyric Theatre

*Denotes tickets are already on sale

** Denotes tickets will go on sale at a later date

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