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.

 

 

Kim Scott

Soul-Jazz flutist Kim Scott emerges in the GRAMMY® race

Music from her “Free to Be” album makes the first-round ballot in two categories

BIRMINGHAM (5 October 2019): It was a hot July for soul-jazz flutist Kim Scott, who rocketed like fireworks to the top of the Billboard chart with her first No. 1 single, which has inserted the emerging artist into the GRAMMY conversation. Scott’s solo on “Emerge” (http://bit.ly/354BX9Y) made the first-round ballot for Best Improvised Jazz Solo while the album on which the track appears, “Free to Be,” is garnering consideration in the Best Contemporary Instrumental Album category.

Scott wrote “Emerge” with keyboardist Jonathan Fritzen, a hitmaker who is featured delivering his own shimmering solo. However, it is the flautist’s fanciful flourishes that are meriting consideration from the voting members of The Recording Academy for the 62nd GRAMMY Awards that take place on January 26, 2020.

After setting the stage to perfection with a Billboard chart-topping single that also went No. 1 on the Groove Jazz Music chart, Innervision Records dropped “Free to Be,” Scott’s fourth album, in mid-July. She had a hand in writing five of the album’s nine songs, which offer an alluring blend of instrumental pop appeal, jazz spontaneity and funky R&B grooves. Scott’s classically trained flute melodies share the spotlight equitably on a few numbers with prominent guest soloists Fritzen, saxophonist Jazmin Ghent and Pieces of A Dream keyboardist James Lloyd. Guitarist Eric Essix, drummer/percussionist James “PJ” Spraggins and bassist Sean Michael Ray anchor the rhythm section with compelling textures and vibrant harmonies crafted by keyboardist/programmer/producer Kelvin Wooten, keyboardists West Byrd and Jaden Scott, alto saxophonist Cameron Ross and instrument programmer Dimitri Turner. The disc’s second single, the bumping “Take It To The Rink,” is presently skating laps around playlists after earning Most Added honors in its debut week at radio.

In addition to her recording career, Scott hosts the nationally syndicated “Block Party Radio Show,” which added to its growing list of stations with the recent pickup on Alabama Public Radio, an NPR affiliate. The artist infuses her energy and enthusiasm into the weekly broadcast featuring the latest  contemporary jazz, urban and Latin jazz releases.

The Birmingham, Alabama-based Scott debuted in 2011 with “Crossing Over.” Her records have consistently produced Billboard Top 20 singles. On the concert stage, she’s performed at clubs and marquee festivals, including Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival and Seabreeze Jazz Festival. Scott is also a member of the all-female supergroup Jazz in Pink with whom she has played shows across the US. For more information, please visit http://kimscottmusic.com.

Urban-jazz harpist Mariea Antoinette making a “Thing” about her new single

Mariea

Urban-jazz harpist Mariea Antoinette making a “Thing” about her new single

She previews her forthcoming “All My Strings” album with an imaginative take on Lauryn Hill’s

“Doo Wop (That Thing),” dropping September 23.

SAN DIEGO (29 August 2019): Strip away Lauryn Hill’s scathing admonition to men and women on her 1998 hit, “Doo Wop (That Thing),” and you are left with an innovative rhythmic track that astutely balances jagged hip hop edginess and a melodic R&B soul. It’s an unlikely composition for a classical harpist, which makes it Mariea Antoinette’s sweet spot. She has made it her mission to tackle unexpected funk, rhythm and blues, and pop songs, creating new possibilities for her instrument by presenting them with harp as the protagonist. Teaming with producer and arranger Allan Phillips, Antoinette’s reimagined “That Thing” goes for playlist adds on September 23.

Antoinette’s elegant stringed siren provides a surprising contrast over the buoyant beats Phillips constructed. Lush harmonic accoutrements are provided by a vibrant live horn section – trumpeter Derek Cannon, tenor saxophonist John Rekevics and trombonist Jordan Morita – and dramatic strings from the APM Allstars Strings along with Evan Marks’ guitar and Phillips’ keyboards. Antoinette debuted “That Thing” with her band on stage last month at the San Diego Smooth Jazz Festival, garnering an enthusiastic standing ovation.

“I chose the track for its funky, innovative rhythm and the beats are very cool. It’s a perfect song for harp that people are not expecting. Lauryn Hill is a music pioneer and a leading voice for women and for her style, ingenuity and edginess. The stories she tells through her music and lyrics are fresh and unique. ‘That Thing’ schools both women and men on motivations, keeping your eyes open and being wise in relationships. Everyone loved it when we played it live in San Diego,” said Antoinette.

“That Thing” offers an alluring glimpse into Antoinette’s forthcoming album, “All My Strings.” She and Phillips are busy tracking material for her third album that is slated to drop January 31, 2020 on the Infinity Productions/MAH Productions label. Antoinette’s last outing, “Straight from the Harp,” went top five at Billboard when it was released in 2015. The San Diego-based musician has been balancing her solo career with being a member of the all-star female ensemble Jazz in Pink since 2007. In June, she made her Playboy Jazz Festival debut at The Hollywood Bowl playing with Jazz in Pink, with whom she has performed at several prominent festivals this year, including Seabreeze Jazz Festival, Capital Jazz Cruise and the upcoming Barbados Jazz Excursion and Cancun Jazz Festival. The award-winning harpist collected three statues last year for Instrumentalist of Year (San Diego Prestige Awards), Best Jazz Single for “Overture” (Black Women in Jazz & The Arts Association), and a BMA Image Award from the Black Music Awards. Her high-profile performances include playing for President Barak Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, with Ne-Yo at the BET Awards, at Vanity Fair’s Grammy party with Jamie Foxx and on American Idol. For more information, please visit https://www.marieaantoinette.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”

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

lawson-rollins

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”

lawson-rollins

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