Jazz guitarist Chris Standring basks in the positive glow of joyous “Sunlight”

Chris Standring

Jazz guitarist Chris Standring basks in the positive glow of joyous “Sunlight”

The March 23 album release, featuring appearances by Bob James and Mica Paris, will be preceded by the rousing radio single, “Love Street.”

 STUDIO CITY (18 January 2018): Much like a prism refracts light into a colorful spectrum, guitarist Chris Standring’s “Sunlight” reflects rays of multihued jazz into a vibrant sonic palette of joy and positivity. The Los Angeles-based, native Brit will drop his twelfth album on March 23 on the Ultimate Vibe Recordings label, marking the twentieth anniversary since the release of his debut disc (“Velvet”). Paving the way for the new collection penned and produced by Standring is the jaunty “Love Street,” set to cast an alluring spell as the first radio single.

 Diverse strains of jazz reign on “Sunlight” with Standring’s clean electric jazz guitar shining brightly throughout the ten tracker plus a reprise that closes the session. The prevailing sounds and engaging textures create warm, organic backdrops for his nimble fretwork forays that traverse lush rhythms and grooves. Wave after wave of Fender Rhodes keyboards and Hammond B3 organ wash over the taut beats serving as the rhythmic spine. Vintage elements offer a compelling contrast to the imaginative electronic nuances, deftly making the recordings feel retro, futuristic, experimental and visionary all at the same time while Standring’s cool-toned guitar slices through to the fore cranking out nifty licks, precision fills and impassioned melodic sojourns.

 Helping flush out his vision for “Sunlight,” Standring shares the spotlight with contemporary jazz forefather Bob James (piano) on the stratospheric exploration “The Revisit” and UK soul-pop chanteuse Mica Paris on the lusty R&B, jazz and electronic hybrid “No Explanation,” the latter a tune he wrote with seven-time Grammy nominee Lauren Christy. Also lending their artistry to the platter are noted saxmen Pete Christlieb and Brandon Fields, keyboardists John Novello, Mitchel Forman and longtime collaborator Rodney Lee; bassists Jimmy Haslip, Andre Berry and Roberto Vally; and drummers Chris Coleman and Dave Karasony.

 “For the first time, I feel a huge degree of comfort stylistically. ‘Sunlight’ seems to be a much more refined version of who I am. Musically, I can’t shake off who I am. It just is. It’s a fusion of my traditional be-bop background with infectious soul and funk grooves, and a sense of arranging and orchestration that comes very easily now. My influences are not from my contemporaries. They come from orchestral music, traditional jazz and European chill, lounge and progressive club music plus a good dose of R&B. It’s a weird mix, but I guess that’s what results in everything sounding like me when it all comes together,” said Standring who purposely infused the set with uplifting notes of hope and glee.

 Perhaps a commentary on our times or just a thoughtful embrace of a longtime personal favorite, Standring reimagines Brian Wilson’s “God Only Knows” as a serene guitar meditation.

 “The album is upbeat and joyful for the most part. Perhaps it is somewhat reactionary to these challenging times we are presently living through, but I am inherently a positive soul who tends to see the bright side of things, albeit with a touch of British cynicism. Sunlight represents positivity and joy to me, hence the title.”

 Standring celebrated three No. 1 singles in 2017: his solo hit “Like This, Like That,” and duet collaborations with trumpeter Cindy Bradley (“Category A”) and two-time Grammy-winning producer-guitarist Paul Brown (“Piccadilly Circus”). The classically-trained guitarist’s ambitious catalogue of instrumental R&B, soul jazz and electronica includes his hit debut single, “Cool Shades”; the No. 1 Billboard Contemporary Jazz Track of the Year in 2010, “Bossa Blue”; and a 2014 Billboard No. 1 single, “Sneakin’ Out the Front Door.” Coming to the U.S. after a lengthy and prosperous run at the BBC and on London’s West End in theatrical orchestras, Standring was a session ace who recorded with Jody Watley and Bebe & Cece Winans among many others. He partnered with Lee to form the acid jazz outfit SolarSystem before touring extensively backing trumpeter Rick Braun. Standring issued “Velvet” soon after, launching his solo mission that continues to climb in trajectory and scope.

“Sunlight” contains the following songs:

 “Static In The Attic”

“Aphrodisiac”

“Love Street”

“The Revisit” featuring Bob James

“No Explanation” featuring Mica Paris

“God Only Knows” featuring John Novello

“Like Paradise”

“Moon Child”

“Do Not Adjust Your Set”

“The Principle Of Pleasure”

“Static In The Attic (Reprise)”

 For additional information, please visit http://www.chrisstandring.com.

Urban-jazz bassist Darryl Williams shows he’s got staying power on new single

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Urban-jazz bassist Darryl Williams shows he’s got staying power on new single

“Do You Remember,” featuring saxophonist Michael Lington, follows the Billboard top 10 “Here to Stay.” 

TEMECULA (11 January 2018): It took ten years for urban-jazz bass player Darryl Williams to write, record and release “Here to Stay,” his Billboard top 10 single and the title track to his second album. This week’s release of the follow-up single, “Do You Remember,” proves that he doesn’t plan to go away anytime soon. Plucking rubbery basslines on piccolo and electric basses on the slick jazz-funk energizer that he wrote and produced, Williams is joined on the dancefloor filler by chart-toppers Michael Lington (saxophone) and Adam Hawley (guitarist).

Williams’ return to center stage as a frontman with the “Here to Stay” set resulted in a 2017 Best New Artist nomination from the Smooth Jazz Network. The first-call bassman calls the collection that he produced with sax powerhouse Euge Groove “a labor of love,” featuring eight of his hand-penned originals along with a pair of remakes that have personal meaning to the San Diego native who currently resides in Temecula. A stellar list of his regular employers were quick to return the favor by making guest appearances on “Here to Stay,” including Groove, who ignites a pair of tunes including the title cut, two-time Grammy-winning guitarist and producer Paul Brown, jazz-funk keyboard pioneer Jeff Lorber, saxmen Marcus Anderson and Elan Trotman, and keyboardists Jonathan Fritzen, Greg Manning and Scott Wilkie. The disc’s lone vocal number, a faithful rendering of The Emotions’ “Don’t Ask My Neighbors,” is soul kissed by R&B crooner Ashling Cole. Williams remembers his late mentor, Carl Evans Jr., by revamping the former Fattburger leader’s sweetly redolent “The Doctor,” which is graced by Michael Paolo’s caressing soprano sax.

“While to some people, ‘labor of love’ is an overused cliché, it certainly applies to ‘Here to Stay.’ I began writing songs for the collection in 2007 before moving my family to Temecula from Las Vegas. The compositions were inspired by different experiences we went through in our journey throughout that period. It was an important and formative time in my career as well. That’s when I first started playing in Euge’s (Groove) band and did a tour with Jeff (Lorber) a couple years later. In between is when my very good friend and mentor Carl (Evans Jr.) passed, which was devastating. ‘Do You Remember’ was one of the last songs I wrote for the record and it was inspired by reflecting on how far I’ve come from growing up as a kid in Los Angeles and San Diego to playing in a funk band with my brother as a teenager. It took me ten years to finish this album and while it takes me back in time, the reaction from fans, radio and reviewers has me looking forward with excitement. I couldn’t be more proud of this album,” said Williams.

Williams was a teenager when he opened for R&B acts Lakeside and Al Green along with gospel legend Shirley Caesar. After studying jazz at San Diego State University, Williams went from regular gigs backing many of San Diego’s most prominent homegrown talent to the neon lights of the Las Vegas strip where he accompanied such nationally-renowned headliners as Clint Holmes, Angela Bofill, Tevin Campbell, Howard Hewett and Keith Washington, and did a road stint with Chaka Khan. After moving back to California in 2008, Williams dropped his debut album, “That Was Then,” garnering praise from JazzTimes and national airplay on SiriusXM. He has become a fixture on the smooth/contemporary jazz scene where he has shared the stage with the genre’s heavy hitters: Richard Elliot, Peter White, Gerald Albright, Mindi Abair, Brenda Russell, Darren Rahn, Jessy J, Everette Harp and Jeff Kashiwa. He has also recorded with Jackiem Joyner, Blake Aaron, Nils Jiptner, U-Nam and Kay-Ta Matsuno.

For additional information, please visit http://darrylwilliamsmusic.com/.

JUSTIN YOUNG SHARES HIS “BLUE SOUL”

Justin Young is just in time for the November 17th release of his fourth album “Blue Soul,” fashioned and created by Justin’s desire to “get back to his roots.” Hailing from Detroit, Young automatically pulled his inspiration from the soulful music he grew up listening to. His approach to “Blue Soul” was to create music the good old-fashioned way. As a result of his determination, Justin, along with a cast of A-list musicians, recorded in the studio. His tenacious spirit paid off, and the momentum of “Blue Soul” has been non-stop; the pendulum is steadily swinging in his favor. Young told me he was “going to make sure this project flies.” To his credit, that, he did. His third single “High Definition” was recently released, and his first single “Always There,” written and produced by Jackiem Joyner, made the Billboard Top 25 and the Smooth Jazz Top 20 Countdown.

Listen to Justin and I converse about this project: 

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JUSTIN YOUNG SHARES HIS “BLUE SOUL”

Justin Young is just in time for the November 17th release of his fourth album “Blue Soul,” fashioned and created by Justin’s desire to “get back to his roots.” Hailing from Detroit, Young automatically pulled his inspiration from the soulful music he grew up listening to. His approach to “Blue Soul” was to create music the good old-fashioned way. As a result of his determination, Justin, along with a cast of A-list musicians, recorded in the studio. His tenacious spirit paid off, and the momentum of “Blue Soul” has been non-stop; the pendulum is steadily swinging in his favor. Young told me he was “going to make sure this project flies.” To his credit, that, he did. His third single “High Definition” was recently released, and his first single “Always There,” written and produced by Jackiem Joyner, made the Billboard Top 25 and the Smooth Jazz Top 20 Countdown.

Listen to Justin and I converse about this project: 

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Brian Culbertson to celebrate love with a colorful bouquet of romantic music on Valentine’s Day

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Brian Culbertson to celebrate love with a colorful bouquet of romantic music on Valentine’s Day

 

The jazz-R&B keyboardist will release the intimate “Colors of Love” single and album that will be supported by an extensive spring concert tour. A bonus track is available for Indiegogo supporters.

LOS ANGELES (7 November 2017): They met for the first time when they were music majors at DePaul University. Flash forward, Michelle and Brian Culbertson celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary last month. With love, romance and his wife serving as his motivation, the soulful contemporary jazz hit-maker started writing material earlier this year inspired by the occasion, crafting thirteen new songs that will be released as “Colors of Love,” his eighteenth album, on Valentine’s Day on the BCM Entertainment label. The seduction begins early next month when the amorous title track, a sensual R&B groove illuminated by Culbertson’s lyrical acoustic piano melodies typical of the collection’s contents, ships to radio. A nearly three-month-long U.S. concert tour will bring “Colors of Love” to life in a vivid theatrical production with the itinerary being revealed December 1.   

Culbertson is thriving creatively on this, his third independent album funded by an Indiegogo campaign (http://bit.ly/2wr3kt9), which closes this Thursday and offers unique opportunities and exclusive perks including a bonus track. Having spent the majority of his career on a major label, the freedom to follow his creative muse is readily apparent on “Colors of Love,” a complete contrast to last year’s “Funk!” set, which was a lively, full-band funk/R&B workout that features a number of vocal cuts. He describes “Colors of Love” as “purposely electronic, using very modern sounds and production” with his acoustic piano serving as the singular lead voice throughout the intimate date. The quiet and contemplative tracks are textured atmospherics and gentle R&B grooves – soothing beds for Culbertson’s melodic piano expressions of ardor.

Sharing the recording process via Facebook live, Culbertson polled his audience and they voted that “Colors of Love” be instrumental only. He took it a step further and for the first time in his career that to date has racked up 30 No. 1 Billboard singles as an artist, producer and/or songwriter, he refrained from using saxophone or guitar as lead instruments – only his poetic piano.

“The music on ‘Colors of Love’ explores all aspects of what love is. It’s a deep word that says a lot of things. There’s passionate love, love at first sight, longing love, lost love. Each color represents a different type of love. There are heart-wrenching songs, cuddly love – all kinds of different love songs,” said Culbertson, who played all of the instruments on the new record except for rhythm guitar (Isaiah Sharkey) and accordion (Peter White).

“I’ve been playing ‘Through the Years’ from the new album in my set since the Berks Jazz Fest last April. The response has been very emotional. Clearly this music touches a nerve – or the heart to be more exact.”   

Culbertson is already at work on how he will present “Colors of Love” live during the U.S. concert trek that runs March 28 through June 17 with tickets going on sale December 8. He’s planning to incorporate a video element in a major way.

“It’s going to be a very theatrical presentation with video images and lighting timed to the music. This music is visual and cinematic thus the show needs to be visual to complement the experience. It’s going to be larger than life when you see it live.

“Colors of Love” contains the following songs:

“Love Transcended”

“I Want You”

“Colors of Love”

“Don’t Go”

“You’re Magic”

“Through the Years”

“In A Dream”

“Let’s Chill”

“Desire”

“Michelle’s Theme”

“In Your Embrace”

“The Look”

“All My Heart”

A bonus track will be available exclusively for Indiegogo supporters.

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

Saxophonist Justin Young’s “Blue Soul” powered by “High Definition”

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Saxophonist Justin Young’s “Blue Soul” powered by “High Definition

The November 17 album release reflects his Motor City roots, driven by the set’s new single

SEATTLE (9 October 2017): Justin Young is hungry. The energetic and enthusiastic saxophonist is all about hustle and hard work. For over a decade, he’s put out quality soul-jazz albums, but his forthcoming disc, “Blue Soul,” captures an artist hitting his stride on the cusp of a major breakthrough. Mining his Detroit roots, Young’s fourth album, due November 17 via JustnTime Records, features a dozen new songs recorded live in the studio with premier musicians, producers and songwriting collaborators. Paving the way for the collection is the new single, “High Definition,” a vibrant R&B/pop confection just shipped to radio stations, a tune that Young penned with fellow soul-jazz saxman Jackiem Joyner and keyboardist Matt Godina.  

The release of “Blue Soul” caps a lengthy recording odyssey for Young. His approach for this outing was purposely different and taps into the Motown lore that influenced his musical discoveries while growing up.

“I started work on this album three and a half years ago. There have probably been about 40 different songs written for this album. In the past, I would write twelve songs, and then enter the studio quickly and put out an album. But for ‘Blue Soul,’ I wanted to take a different approach and put the absolute best songs out, really push myself to elevate the standard this time around,” said Young, who had a hand in writing all but one song on the album. “‘Blue Soul’ goes back to my roots in music, Detroit, the home of Motown. I loved the creativity of musicians recording together in the studio, creating an amazing vibe. The opportunity to put high-quality musicians together along with amazing producers has always been my dream. I watched this growing up and listened to the Motown stories. ‘Blue Soul’ goes back to my love of jazz and soul music. It’s organic, it’s played by consummate musicians and it truly is soul music with saxophone at its beating heart.

Throughout “Blue Soul,” Young’s alto, tenor and soprano sax is embedded amidst rhythms and grooves constructed by the likes of bassists Alex Al and Hussain Jiffry, and the late drummer to the stars, Ricky Lawson. Former Earth, Wind & Fire guitarist-vocalist Sheldon Reynolds is another notable player who fortified Young’s lilting harmonies and undeniable melodies. The first single, “Always There,” one of four cuts written and produced by Joyner – a Billboard chart-topper in his own right – hit the Billboard Top 25 and the Smooth Jazz Top 20 Countdown. “Jazz Along The 101,” one of three tracks shepherded by gospel producer Noel Hall (Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond), kept Young’s momentum motoring along with both singles garnering daily spins on SiriusXM’s Watercolors. In response to Hurricane Harvey, he released the hopeful “Song For A Better Tomorrow” (https://youtu.be/PoL8NtcUwFw), donating the track’s proceeds to the American Red Cross. “High Definition” promises to take him into 2018 on a high note with a wealth of potential singles in the offing.

Young began in music as a drummer and was introduced to a wide array of styles – from R&B and pop to jazz and gospel – by his father, Jim Young, who led and played in a variety of bands, encouraging his scion to play sax. Landing his first professional concert at age sixteen, Young put himself through Michigan State University by playing weekend gigs. He issued his debut album, “Rendezvous,” in 2003. After winning a competition at the famed Capital Jazz Fest in 2007, he released “On The Way.” A move to Southern California helped his following multiply quickly when he booked a year-long residency at Spaghettini, a hot spot for the contemporary jazz crowd south of Los Angeles. Gigs on the national festival circuit ensued as did subsequent recordings, “Home for the Holidays” and “Nothin’ But Love.” Young previewed music from “Blue Soul” at a Detroit show held at Chene Park last July with 5,000 people in attendance and at a sold-out date in August when he returned to Spaghettini. Now based near Seattle, he will support the new record with a series of local concerts at nearby wineries this fall. Resourceful and brand savvy, Young produces and plies his effervescent personality as the host of “The Justin Young Audio Experience,” a podcast that teaches musicians about the business of music. For more information, please visit www.JustinYoungSax.com.

“Blue Soul” contains the following songs:

 “Always There”

“Nothin’ But Love”

“Razzmajazz”

“Jazz Along The 101”

“Paradise Found”

“New Life”

“Blue Soul”

“Sorento”

“Sweet Release”

“India”

“Song For A Better Tomorrow”

“High Definition”

SUNSET JAZZ FESTIVAL

The fifth annual Sunset Jazz Festival was nothing short of spectacular. The evening was hosted by Will Downing and featured guest appearances by Chris Walker and Norman Brown. The line-up included Regina Belle, Boney James, and concluded with a stellar performance by the master himself, Mr. George Benson. The weather was beautiful at Chastain Park in Atlanta, providing music lovers with the perfect atmosphere. Regina Belle serenaded the audience with hit after hit, wooing the crowd as they sang along. Boney James gave fans the show they’ve grown to expect and enjoy. After the sun set, George Benson and his amazing band graced the stage giving fans a night to remember. The legendary Benson played song after song from various era’s of his illustrious career. He was simply phenomenal.