Jazz luminaries help Romanian refugee realize “The American Dream”

luminaries

 

Jazz luminaries help Romanian refugee realize

“The American Dream” 

Damian Draghici’s mission to introduce pan flute to bebop features Chris Botti, Arturo Sandoval, Michel Camilo, Eddie Daniels, Luciana Souza, Stanley Clarke, Brian Bromberg, Frank Gambale & others

WOODLAND HILLS (16 June 2016): A year before he escaped communism in his native Romania by walking through the mountains of Yugoslavia and into Greece, the seed of Damian Draghici’s dream was planted when he was just a 17-year-old teenager who snuck into a Bucharest nightclub to watch a set by an American jazz combo. Nearly 30 years later, his vision will finally come to fruition on July 8 when Century Jazz Records issues “The American Dream,” a 13-song disc of standards produced by Dan Siegel and Tom McCauley that showcases the pan flutist collaborating with nearly two dozen jazz, Brazilian and Latin music greats, Grammy winners, icons and top-shelf musicians. Preceding the album at jazz radio is the sultry bossa nova “Ceora,” an exquisite duet with trumpeter Chris Botti.

As trumpeter Randy Brecker soloed in the crowed club that 1987 evening, what sparked Draghici’s imagination was recording a jazz album that would feature the tones, textures and the unique voice produced on the hollow-tubed bamboo instrument, the pan flute. “The American Dream” also pays homage to the jazz giants that influenced Draghici’s artistic expression.

“’The American Dream’ has been a dream of mine for a while now,” Draghici recalls. “Here’s how the story started almost 30 years ago. When I was 17 years-old during the communist times in Bucharest, Romania, I saw and heard for the first time real American jazz musicians playing live. That was the moment I fell in love with jazz and I knew that I had to go to America to learn jazz – to play and improvise bebop on my instrument – to become the Bebop Pan-piper.”

Twenty years ago, Draghici first arrived in America to attend the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston on a full scholarship, which is where he linked up and began working with a bevy of premier jazz musicians, including drummers Vinnie Colaiuta and Dave Weckl, who keep time on “The American Dream.” The respect Draghici garners from his musician peers helped him attract an impressive list of guest soloists who perform on the collection, including Botti, trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, clarinetist Eddie Daniels, Grammy-winning pianist Michel Camilo, Grammy-winning vocalist Luciana Souza and Grammy-winning guitar virtuoso Frank Gambale along with a stellar ensemble of internationally-renown players such as Siegel, Stanley Clarke, Brian Bromberg, Russell Ferrante (Yellowjackets), Tom Kennedy, Alan Broadbent, Charlie Bisharat, Alex Acuna, Luis Conte, Paulinho Da Costa, Oscar Castro Neves, Mitchel Forman, Otmaro Ruiz, Ramon Stagnaro and Jorge Calandrelli. With so much talent gathered around Draghici’s improvisational pan flute forays and flourishes, the musicianship throughout the session is masterful while Siegel and McCauley’s acoustic jazz production is warm and organic.

The set list Draghici & Company chose to reimagine consists of selections from Charlie Parker (album opener “Donna Lee”), Lee Morgan (“Ceora”), John Coltrane (“Giant Steps”), Chick Corea (“Spain”), Antonio Carlos Jobim (“Modhina” and “One Note Samba”); Michel Legrand, Marilyn & Alan Bergman and Jacques Denny (“You Must Believe In Spring”); Keith Jarrett (“My Song”), Pat Metheny (“See The World”), Bill Evans (“Waltz For Debbie”) Castro Neves (“More Than Yesterday”) and Cesar Camargo Mariano (“Curumin”) as well as Camilo’s “From Within.” Inventive arrangements chisel space in the elaborately-constructed cuts for the pan flute harmonics, genteel vocalizations and stirring melodies knitted from piano, guitar, horns and strings to effortlessly waft beauty and splendor on quieter numbers. More aggressive tracks are granted the expanse to expound dexterously on playgrounds of layered percussion and sinewy basslines.

Recognized as an award-winning prodigy when he was a teenager in Romania before seeking refuge in Greece, Draghici landed a record deal after busking on the streets of Athens, garnering acclaim in Europe. He’s toured with an array of signature artists that spans James Brown, Joe Cocker, Cyndi Lauper, Shaggy and Gypsy Kings. In 2006, he formed Damian & Brothers with “his gypsy brothers,” adopting the purpose of changing the perception of gypsy music globally. They toured extensively throughout Europe performing over 600 concerts in three years. Draghici now splits his time living in the valley near Los Angeles and abroad. For more information, please visit www.DamianDraghici.com.

Draghici’s “The American Dream” contains the following songs:

“Donna Lee” with Arturo Sandoval

“Ceora” with Chris Botti

“Giant Steps” with Eddie Daniels

“From Within” with Michel Camilo

“Spain”

“Modhina” with Luciana Souza

“You Must Believe In Spring”

“My Song”

“More Than Yesterday”

“See The World”

“Curumin” with Frank Gambale

“Waltz For Debbie”

“One Note Samba”

Groove therapy: contemporary jazz singer Carol Duboc keeps her diary open on “Colored Glasses”‏

Carol Duboc

Groove therapy: contemporary jazz singer Carol Duboc keeps her diary open on “Colored Glasses”

Her seventh album, due September 18, is bolstered by collaborator Jeff Lorber’s R&B rhythms.

Los Angeles, California (30 July 2015): On Carol Duboc’s deeply personal 2013 release, “Smile,” the contemporary jazz singer-songwriter opened up in a way that she had never done so before, revealing the pain and heartache involved with dissolving her marriage while being the mother of a young daughter. She described writing the album with producer and jazz keyboards legend Jeff Lorber as therapeutic. Her therapy continues on “Colored Glasses,” a Gold Note Music ten-track disc written and produced by Duboc and Lorber set for release on September 18 and launched that evening with a Hollywood concert date that will be streamed online.

Two years on, Duboc’s new material details her struggles with cutting the ties of the relationship, one tinged by her partner’s delusional view of the world. Writing lyrics and melodies to rhythm tracks sent to her by Lorber, Duboc addresses the realities and realizations of moving forward with honesty and candor, even if she felt her ex was hiding the truth behind “colored glasses,” thus spawning the album’s title. But she acknowledges her own role as well.

“Some people refuse to see the world as it really is or life as it is, and to be honest, I was so caught up in the hypnotic love that I didn’t see things as they really are either,” admitted Duboc, who titled the first single “Hypnotic.” “I think this album is going to surprise people. It’s about letting go completely and moving on emotionally. And it may be the funkiest solo record I’ve ever made.”

Lorber’s R&B rhythms are lively throughout the soulful, sophisticated session of jazzy adult pop tunes. A marquee supporting cast brings high-caliber musicianship to the taut grooves with stellar performances by Jimmy Haslip (electric bass), Brian Bromberg (acoustic bass), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), guitarists Paul Jackson, Jr. and Michael Thompson, Hubert Laws (flute), Eric Marienthal (sax), Lenny Castro (percussion) and multi-instrumentalist Lorber on keyboards, piano, bass and guitar. Dave Mann punches up several cuts with crisp horns and vivid horn arrangements that add vibrancy, lushness and depth.

“Hypnotic” will be serviced to radio next month coinciding with the release of a video lensed on Venice Beach for the album’s “Wavelength,” a danceable guitar and horn-driven song about intuitive communication between partners. To mark the album’s release and celebrate coming through the other side of the relationship, Duboc will perform at the famed jazz joint the Baked Potato on the release date (Sept. 18), which will be streamed live on her website (www.CarolDuboc.com). Lorber, Haslip and Thompson are among the musicians from the album’s lineup already confirmed to be backing the singer that night.

A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Duboc has been living in Los Angeles ever since she attended USC Thornton’s School of Music. Prior to launching her solo recording career in 2001with the critically-acclaimed “With All That I Am,” Duboc wrote hits on gold and platinum-selling albums, including records by Patti LaBelle, Chante Moore, Tom Jones, Stephanie Mills, Jade, Fine Yong Cannibals, Maurice White and the late George Duke. Possessing multimedia appeal, the photogenic blond had a supporting role on the silver screen in “Be Cool” alongside John Travolta, Uma Thurman and Danny DeVito.

The songs on “Colored Glasses” are:

“Hypnotic”

“Every Shade of Blue”

“Celestial Skies”

“Wavelength”

“Breathing”

“Trajectory”

“Spinning”

“Colored Glasses”

“Walking in My Sleep”

“Code Red”

Additional information is available at www.carolduboc.com.

Keyboardist Dan Siegel returns with a lush collection of astute jazz etched in melodically rich “Indigo”‏

dan siegel

Keyboardist Dan Siegel returns with a lush collection of astute jazz etched in melodically rich “Indigo”

Irvine, California (17 September 2014): Having recorded a catalogue of Top 10 albums in a vivid spectrum of jazz hues with topflight musicians for 35 years, Dan Siegel only emerges when he has something engaging to say with his poetic piano and crafty keyboards. Back with his first new statement in five years, Siegel’s DSM record label will release “Indigo” on October 14, a set comprised of ten new compositions that he wrote, arranged and shared production chores with Grammy-nominated bassist Brian Bromberg.

On his 20th album, Siegel creates right up the spine of the jazz dichotomy allowing the melodies, improvisational soloing and grooves to unfold and flourish unencumbered by restrictive genre borders and polarizing labels. His cerebral compositions traverse the expansive jazz terrain, but do so with heart rendering them instantly accessible. The keyboardist has a gift for writing inviting, emotionally-evocative material that connects soulfully.

“My tendency is it to overwrite, which can make it challenging for the listener.  I believe the emotional allure of the music on this album (“Indigo”) transcends its compositional complexity,” said the Irvine, California-based artist who was born in Seattle, Washington and raised in Eugene, Oregon.

The beating heart and soul heard on “Indigo” in part comes from the live production tracked in the cozy confines of Bromberg’s home studio in the valley just over the hill from Los Angeles. Siegel and Bromberg have an easy rapport and level of trust that dates back several decades from playing and recording together. Bromberg’s 300-year-old acoustic bass provides the rhythmic bottom end on tracks anchored by the deft drum beats from Yellowjackets veteran Will Kennedy. Bob Sheppard plays a prominent role using a variety of saxophones and impassioned play to echo Siegel’s piano and keyboards leads as well as emote his own scholarly theses. Allen Hinds and Mike Miller are afforded ample room to dispense thoughtful guitar riffs and do so with finesse. Lenny Castro’s percussion and Craig Fundyga’s vibraphone embellishments add texture, color and shadow in all the right places while two different horn sections appear on a total of six tracks providing power and depth. The cumulative result of such masterful players animating Siegel’s poignant piano pieces is a warm and plush album that will be serviced for airplay at straight-ahead jazz (full album) and contemporary/smooth jazz outlets (title cut).

Siegel inked his first record deal in 1979 with Inner City Records, which issued his debut disc, “Nite Ride,” featuring guitar great Lee Ritenour. Siegel’s sophomore session, “The Hot Shot,” went No. 1 on the Radio & Records chart and spent ten weeks in the Top 10 on the Billboard jazz chart. A couple years later, Siegel moved to Los Angeles to focus on composing film and television scores. Subsequently, he signed with Epic Records and altered his sound from fusion to collections that spanned contemporary jazz, electronic, worldbeat and R&B. Over the years, he has played and recorded with Herbie Hancock, Boney James, Larry Carlton, Joe Sample, Ernie Watts, John Patitucci, Bela Fleck and Ottmar Liebert in instrumental settings; Glenn Frey, Chaka Khan, Berlin and Philip Bailey (Earth, Wind & Fire) in the pop world; and amassed an array of television and film credits that boasts Oscar-winner “The Usual Suspects.” For more information, please visit www.DanSiegelMusic.com.

The songs contained on “Indigo” are:

“To Be Continued”

“By Chance”

“Indigo”

“Beyond”

“Far and Away”

“If Ever”

“Spur of the Moment”

“First Light”

“Consider This”

“Endless”

Mike MacArthur “Feels Like Home”

Mike McArthur

Mike McArthur

Moving away from the kids’ table

In the company of prominent friends, saxophonist Mike MacArthur releases a sterling jazz album,

“Feels Like Home,” his first major release as a frontman.

Tampa, Florida (4 June 2013): In the midst of graduation season, it seems like the ideal time for the release of long-time sideman Mike MacArthur’s first major recording on center stage. The saxophonist’s 10-song “Feels Like Home” was released today by Paradise Point Music. On the collection produced by Grammy-nominee Brian Bromberg, MacArthur graduates surrounded by his scholarly musician friends on the set comprised of soulfully performed jazz standards and alluring originals.

When asked to describe how he felt after recording the album at Bromberg’s suburban Los Angeles home, MacArthur said “It felt like the beginning of a lot of things to come – like I’ve finally moved away from the kids’ table with my own (musical) offering. It confirms that I can stand alone as a frontman.”

“Feels Like Home” sounds live. MacArthur describes it as “real players making real music on real acoustic instruments.” Playing the music of the masters such as Duke Ellington (“In A Sentimental Mood”), Miles Davis (“Jean Pierre”), Sonny Rollins (“Blue Seven”) and Joe Zawinul (“Birdland”), MacArthur, bass prodigy Bromberg, Ron Reinhardt (piano, B-3 organ) and Frank “Third” Richardson (drums) formed the core quartet that features spotlight soloing from contemporary jazz maverick Jeff Lorber on piano, Rick Braun on trumpet and flugelhorn, and Jeff Golub on guitar. Journeyman percussionist Alex Acuna decorates and texturizes the tracks. MacArthur graciously gives his friends permission to uncork their finest vintage of improvisational jazz.

Radio stations have been playing the gospel soul cut “Sanctified,” which was christened as the first single and includes a vocal hook belted out by the almighty Alva Copeland. MacArthur wrote the three other original tunes on the disc, including the title track, a heartfelt ballad with a gorgeous melody gracefully emoted from his tenor sax. He penned the boisterous blues joint “Around The Corner” specifically with Golub’s gritty guitar in mind. Written on piano in his daughter Sydney’s playroom while the then 5-year-old was gleefully dancing, MacArthur refers to the frenetic “Sydney Style” as the “up tune on the album.”

Throughout the album, MacArthur’s sax play is dexterous, precise and efficient. He plays just enough notes to convey the song and solos with just enough pizazz to get his point across. Having performed with a bevy of marquee musicians as a sideman throughout his career, including with Bromberg, Braun and Golub, he wants the release of “Feels Like Home” to signal the start of a new chapter. Setting the bar high in terms of performance, production, and composition, MacArthur’s stride into the spotlight is smartly executed with confidence, poise and a whole lot of soul.

After recently opening for superstar Queen Latifah, MacArthur will lead his own band at Uptown Altamonte near Orlando, Florida on June 15th sharing the bill with guitarist Nils and will open for guitarist Peter White on July 21st at Glenora Wine Cellars in Dundee, New York.

A clip of MacArthur discussing “Feels Like Home” can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LmHusgBHR4. Highlights from some of the album reviews appear below:

“One of the best for 2013 no matter what flavor jazz you may be into. That nice fat tenor sound with chops to match, if ‘Feels Like Home’ doesn’t move you then you must be waiting on your autopsy report.” – Critical Jazz

“This album has no safety zone. It is entertaining, listenable, and catchy but it is not safe. Some of these guys have made a name for themselves in smooth but this is a jazz album. It is not an academic, archival, or intimidating jazz album. It’s a jazz album because there is a lot of improvisation and about half of the songs on here are benchmark songs in the history of contemporary jazz, and beyond…This is an album that will lead even the most skeptical pop/smooth listener deeper into the world of jazz.” – SmoothViews

“He (MacArthur) has surrounded himself with some pretty fine players and has made an album which is simply terrific…Of the album’s ten tracks, three are MacArthur originals and it’s a testament to his skills that you can’t differentiate them from the standards…this is a warm and enjoyable album that is a treat for the ears.” – Bass Players United

“’Feels Like Home’ is superior jazz made among friends. From the first track ‘Filthy McNasty’ by Horace Silver to the 10th and final cut ‘Mo Better Blues’, music enthusiasts will know that this one belongs on the top shelf.” – The Entertainment Bank

“Rolling through a set of tracks as diverse as any jazz enthusiast could hope for, MacArthur puts both feet into this project, offering appealing sax runs while his pals mix up a batch of riveting acoustic bass runs, soul-wrenching guitar riffs, tantalizing piano/keys action, and solid drums and percussions.” – The Smooth Jazz Ride

“He (MacArthur) comes out firing – surrounding himself with some of the very best players on the circuit and wisely mixing the repertoire between tried and tested jazz standards and quality originals.” – Soul and Jazz and Funk

“The result is a predictably eclectic and jazzy mix with which jazz lovers of all persuasions will find favor.” – Smooth Jazz Therapy

Additional information about MacArthur is available at http://www.mikemacarthur.com.