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”

It’s “3 Minutes to Midnight” and Lawson Rollins has “Island Time” on his mind

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It’s “3 Minutes to Midnight” and Lawson Rollins has “Island Time” on his mind

The world music guitarist is feeling “Golden” about landing his first motion picture score.  

SAN FRANCISCO (23 January 2017): Award-winning world music guitarist Lawson Rollins has the Billboard, America’s Music Charts and Groove Jazz Music charts under the hypnotic spell of his new single, “Island Time,” the first cut taken from his seventh album, “3 Minutes to Midnight,” which was released last Friday (January 20) by Infinita Records. Radio programmers at influential national outlets, including SiriusXM’s Watercolors and Broadcast Architecture, have made the seductive waltz paced by Rollins’ beguiling fingerstyle nylon guitar come-ons one of the “most added” and “most played” new singles on the first two charts published in 2017. Another composition appearing on the multicultural and multi-genre collection written by Rollins, the mystical meditation “Eternal,” began receiving airplay last month on the nationally-syndicated public radio program Echoes. “3 Minutes to Midnight” wasted no time climbing into the top 20 of the iTunes world music album sales chart.

Adopting a “Brevity is the soul of wit” mantra while crafting the twelve tunes that form “3 Minutes to Midnight,” Rollins opted to communicate with a sense of urgency, immediacy and poignancy perhaps to contrast the clutter and clamor incessantly assaulting our senses and shrinking bandwidths. He eschewed his long-held penchant for sprawling compositions and opulently-layered audioscapes in favor of clear and concise constructs – all in the three-minute range – with a pared down sonic aesthetic. Producing the session with multi-platinum producer Dominic Camardella, Rollins’ new set evokes a full gamut of moods and emotions ranging from passion, energetic and excitement to brooding, melancholic and pensive.

In the March issue of Guitar Player that is slated to hit magazine racks early next month, Rollins, whose virtuosic classical guitar technique has amassed over 10 million YouTube views, discusses “3 Minutes to Midnight” as well as nabbing his first film score. In a feature story that serves as the cover to the magazine’s “Frets” section, he talks about composing the music and serving as the music supervisor and executive producer of “Golden,” a movie described as a modern day psychological morality thriller currently in post-production.

“The soundtrack is going to be all original material from me on acoustic, electric, slide and Spanish guitars, backed by two-time Grammy-winning Danish violinist Mads Tolling, Native American master flute player Guillermo Martinez (of the Tarascan tribe) and multi-instrumentalist Stephen Duros. It’s going to be a haunting soundtrack of acoustic Americana guitar motifs, blues-based electric guitar playing, violin fiddling, and Native American flute and drumming fused with some contemporary synthesizer and percussive elements,” said Rollins, a San Francisco-based artist whose authentic world beat sound and earthy ethereal recordings foretold eventual work in cinema.

Along with garnering robust radio play and early chart action, “3 Minutes to Midnight” is being well received by critics. Below is a sampling of the initial reviews:

If your ears are thirsting for swirling guitar work that will thrill your heart and bring you up out of whatever funky mood you’re in – Lawson’s new (January 20th, 2017) release is just perfect for doing that.” – Improvijazzation Nation

“Lawson Rollins once again takes the listener on a magical musical journey…A nicely balanced release of 12 tracks together with Rollins’ exquisite guitar work as great as ever, means that ‘3 Minutes to Midnight’ is one of those albums that quickly becomes addictive listening.” – Exclusive Magazine

This American artist is one of the most creative world music and fusion guitarists in the world.” – Keys & Chords

“As one of those guitarists who first captured my attention with his Latin-infused and Nuevo Flamenco guitar style quite a while ago, Lawson Rollins continues to provide awe-inspiring melodies and riffs on his latest release, ‘3 Minutes to Midnight.’…these compositions, all penned by Rollins, by the way, are simply filled with the moving vibe that defies description but always speaks to you and manages to transport you to some wondrous land of color and intrigue.” – The Smooth Jazz Ride

“Classic, acoustic guitar jazz with a hint of the exotic.” – Soul and Jazz and Funk

“Firmly staking out his territory as a world beat guitarist par excellence…A tasty treat throughout.” – Midwest Record

“’3 Minutes to Midnight’ is dazzling, pertinent and explosive.” – SmoothJazz.com

For more information about Rollins, please visit www.LawsonRollins.com. To view the “Golden” trailer, go to www.GoldenTheMovie.com.

World music guitarist Lawson Rollins muses time on “3 Minutes to Midnight”

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Tick, tick, tick…World music guitarist Lawson Rollins muses time on “3 Minutes to Midnight”  

The exotic and sensual first radio single, “Sway,” previews the January 20 album release that conveys the urgency of the moment.  

SAN FRANCISCO (1 November 2016): Three minutes to midnight. Time is lapsing. What would you do with the final moments of your day? Award-winning world beat guitarist Lawson Rollins pondered that question as he entered the recording studio to craft his seventh album, “3 Minutes to Midnight,” which will be released on January 20 via the Infinita Records label. Focusing on “the urgency of the moment, the exhilaration of the speed of sound, the poignancy of the remains of the day and the mystical power of the number three,” Rollins wrote a dozen multicultural compositions – all in the three minute range and illuminated by his prodigious fingerstyle guitar play. The recording is stripped down, punchy and concise, a radical departure for the Billboard chart-topping artist known for creating lavishly produced and elaborately-constructed tracks that are at least twice as long.

“I really made an effort to pare down my musical flights of fancy and focus on the essentials instead of diverging into various plots and subplots within the song structure. The songs have an urgent, succinct quality and are unencumbered by elaborate instrumentation. This is the first time I came up with the title and overall concept early on in the process. I don’t know if it’s a reaction to the times we live in, with our shrinking bandwidth for complexity and desire for clarity, or if I just wanted to be as impactful and expressive as I could across a range of emotions – from exciting, passionate and bursting with energy to sad, contemplative and meditative,” said Rollins, who will introduce the new material when the sultry first single, “Sway,” is serviced to radio programmers for airplay ahead of the album’s release date.

Like his previous discs, Rollins produced “3 Minutes to Midnight” with multi-platinum producer Dominic Camardella utilizing the same core group of musicians. Grammy-winning violinist Charlie Bisharat, bassist Randy Tico and drummer/percussionist Dave Bryant joined Rollins (guitar, keyboards, drum programming) and Camardella (piano, Rhodes piano, Hammond organ) along with newcomers to the fold Stephen Duros (drum programming) and Forrest Marquisse (pedal steel). Since fans have marveled at videos of his dazzling and dexterous classical guitar technique that have generated a whopping 8 million YouTube views, Rollins welcomed cameras into the Santa Barbara Sound Design studio to capture the recording of his guitar parts for three videos – including one lensed during the tracking of “Sway” – that are now posted on YouTube and Rollins’ website (www.LawsonRollins.com).

Rollins has landed on Billboard’s Top 10 World Music Albums chart and four of his collections placed singles on the Billboard Top 30 contemporary jazz radio chart. Recently he collected three major awards from the Akademia Music Awards (Best Jazz Song), the USA Songwriting Competition (1st place, Instrumental) and the Global Music Awards (triple gold medal winner). Why does the number three continue to come up for the long-time San Francisco resident?

“Three is a significant number that resonates in the human psyche and has a mystical power in our culture. Three is significant not only in world religions, but also in simple human terms with our body, mind and spirit triad. With songs, we have a beginning, middle and end. We even sync up with others on the count of three. Ready, set, go!,” noted Rollins, who released the albums “Traveler” and “Infinite Chill (The Remix Sessions)” last year, spawning the radio hits “Berlin Bossa” and “Café Paris (chill remix).”

The “3 Minutes to Midnight” album, which was mastered at New York City’s Sterling Sound, contains the following songs:

“3 Minutes to Midnight”

“Light the Way”

“Sway”

“Island Time”

“Driving Force”

“Southbound”

“Stringdance”

“Time Shift”

“Reveal”

“Split Second”

“Eternal”

“Mary’s Rock”

LINDSEY WEBSTER GETS “BACK TO YOUR HEART”

The smooth, effortless voice of Lindsey Webster has been compared to Sade. However, make no mistake; Lindsey Webster is in a league of her own. Lindsey recently signed with Shanachie Entertainment and has the first vocal number one to grace the Contemporary Jazz charts. Her song “Fool Me Once” was the first to have that honor since Sade’s “Soldier Of Love.” That is quite an accomplishment in a genre where men are the majority. Webster says, “this honor has changed the game for me. Once a dream comes into fruition, it really lights a fire.” Her highly awaited new album, “Back To Your Heart,” will be released on November 4th. Lindsey is excited about the endless possibilities and looks forward to touring and sharing with audiences around the world. I asked Lindsey what “Back To Your Heart” represents to her. She says, “it is an accurate representation of who I am as an artist.”

Listen to my conversation with Lindsey:

lindsey-webster

 

TALKING “NIGHT SESSIONS” WITH NICHOLAS COLE

“Unapologetic” and “innovative” both describe Nicholas Cole precisely. His youthful yet old soul approach to music is a welcomed breath of fresh air. His presence in contemporary smooth jazz is undeniable. Having a number one song from his last album, “Endless Possibilities,” didn’t steer him to play it safe, but quite the contrary. Nicholas went into the creative writing process of his latest album, “Night Sessions,” with specific goals. He knew who he wanted to collaborate with and feature. Among the list of enlisted talent: Anthony Saunders, Julian Vaughn, Kayta Matsuno, and Steve Cole. Nicholas was also very clear that he wanted to infuse elements of different genres into “Night Sessions.” In doing so, he created a fresh new sound without limitations; he has managed to captivate listeners seventeen years old and older. Nicholas has opened a door in jazz music that will lead to the future. As of September 8, 2015, his first single, “Mary Ann,” was number one on Billboard Smooth Jazz songs chart, and “Night Sessions” was number seventeen for top Smooth Jazz albums–not bad for the album that was released on August 21, 2015. In addition to his solo career, Nicholas is a member of “Generation Next” with his peers Lebron Dennis and Lin Rountree. The sky is the limit for Nicholas Cole.

As per our usual conversation, Nicholas and I keep it real. Listen:

Nicholas Cole

KENYON CARTER PERSEVERED… NOW “GAME ON”

Increased anticipation and excitement is brewing in the Carter household as the release date of Kenyon’s latest album, “Game On,” draws near–August 14, 2014 to be exact. The 10 song original collection was penned and produced by Kenyon and is a reflection of his musical influences. Guitarist Chuck Loeb joins him on the flirtatious title track, “Game On.” The first single, “Jammin’ On Juniper,” was most added on the Billboard chart its first week. Kenyon exemplifies strength, courage, and persistence after recovering from a car accident that injured his arm severely, proving that patience and faith will get you through anything if you simply press on. “Game On” is a beautifully inspirational conclusion to the rollercoaster journey Kenyon Carter has experienced. The best is yet to come.

Kenyon inspires me with his story:

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