DW3 pays “Tribute” to their late drummer-mentor Ricky Lawson‏

DW3

DW3 pays “Tribute” to their late drummer-mentor Ricky Lawson

 

R&B vocal band goes retro on their sophomore album, “Vintage Truth,” due March 17, with assistance from contemporary jazz luminaries Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson,

Paul Brown, Greg Adams and Elan Trotman.

Los Angeles, California (12 February 2015): At the untimely passing of the drummer Steely Dan’s Walter Becker described as having perfect timing, Ricky Lawson was only four songs into producing the sophomore album by R&B vocal group DW3. Lawson, who had an extraordinary GRAMMY®-winning career collaborating with Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Whitney Houston and Steely Dan, had been a member of the band for more than two years and the tracks are his last recordings. Over a year later, DW3’s “Vintage Truth,” dedicated to Lawson, is finally finished and scheduled for release March 17 on the Woodward Avenue Records label.

Despite being rocked by the unexpected loss that occurred two days before Christmas 2013, DW3 knew that Lawson would want the groove to continue. He not only was a member of the outfit fronted by brothers Billy & Eric Mondragon and Damon Reel, but he mentored them as well. He believed that the GRAMMY®-nominated vocalists who are a perennial draw on the jazz festival and cruise circuit is at their dynamic best in live settings thus the record’s core tracks were laid down in the studio live. DW3 maintained that template when finishing the album, which they produced themselves with one cut, the collection’s first single – a seductively soulful take on The Eagles’ “I Can’t Tell You Why” – produced by hit-maker Paul Brown.

“We titled the album ‘Vintage Truth’ because of the way we approached the recording process, like a live jam session where the core musicians – the guitarist, bassist, keyboardist and drummer – were in the room playing at the same time. We rehearsed each song twice, then went in the studio and pressed record. Our previous recordings featured a lot of drum programming, but this project has all live drums,” said Eric Mondragon. “Another vintage element we added that we absolutely love is the live horns – so much so that we recently added a horn section to our lineup so that we could perform these songs properly onstage.”

The twelve-tracker “Vintage Truth” offers a blend of originals and fan favorites that the group has performed on stage for years such as Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed,” Luther Vandross’s “So Amazing” and The Mamas & The Papas’ “California Dreamin’,” the last of which won the California Lottery Powerball song contest for their trademark three-part harmonies spawning a popular video (http://bit.ly/1vDOe1D). Making instrumental contributions to the disc were contemporary jazz chart-toppers Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson, Greg Adams, Elan Trotman and Brown.

Four years ago, the Los Angeles born and raised DW3 issued its debut set, “On The Floor,” which peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard contemporary jazz albums chart in the U.S. while it went all the way to No. 1 on the United Kingdom’s soul chart driven by the sophisticated neo soul single “I Got You” highlighted by a sultry sax solo from multiple GRAMMY® nominee Gerald Albright. DW3’s three vocalists were 2014 GRAMMY® nominees for singing background on the Summer Horns album, an ensemble comprised of saxophone superstars Koz, Albright, Mindi Abair and Richard Elliot. Ever since DW3 served as the resident party band on the inaugural sailing of The Smooth Jazz Cruise in 2004, they’ve been part of the sold-out cruise. In addition to performing at premier festivals across the nation, the funksters maintain a long-running weekly residency at SoCal hotspot Spaghettini and serve as the house band for L.A. radio station 94.7 The Wave’s Sunday Brunch held at the same venue. Further information about DW3 is available at www.DW3music.com.

“Vintage Truth” contains the following songs:

“Let The Music” (featuring Brian Culbertson)

“Tribute (Right On)”

“I Can’t Tell You Why”

“Hold Me” (featuring Greg Adams)

“Dance With Me”

“Overjoyed”

“California Dreamin’”

“When You Cry” (featuring Dave Koz)

“She Keeps Running”

“Square One”

“So Amazing”

“At The Club” (featuring Elan Trotman)

THE 3RD ANNUAL SUNSET JAZZ FESTIVAL

The 3rd annual Sunset Jazz Festival–held in Atlanta, GA–did once again raise the bar. I’ve attended the jazz festival all three years, and I’m always enamored by the line-up and even more so by their performances. Tucked beautifully away and where all the magic happens is Chastain Park. It is by far one of the best outdoor venues I’ve seen. The list of performers this year included chart-topping, Grammy-award-winning artists. Jonathan Butler, who recently released “Living My Dream,” shared the stage with Norman Brown and Alex Bugnon also know as the Summer Love Tour. They were followed by the lady of the evening, Grammy winner Dianne Reeves. She too recently released a new album titled “Beautiful Life.” As the sun faded and night fell over the park, Brian Culbertson lit up the stage with an electrifying performance that had everyone on their feet. Culbertson’s latest album, “Another Long Night Out,” is quite indicative of how an evening at the Sunset Jazz Festival feels–a long night out and certainly a night to remember. Headlining for the evening was the man with a sax that everyone loves: Boney James. Boney delivered everything and more of what his fans love.

The producer of the Sunset Jazz Festival–amongst other titles–Kyle Newport has created an event that is not to be missed. Each year, he exceeds expectations and brings forth a show that is unlike any other. With so many choices for jazz lovers to choose from, no matter where you’re from, the Sunset Jazz Festival is one you don’t want to miss.

Sunset Jazzfest
Sunset Jazzfest

RICK BRAUN WANTS TO KNOW “CAN YOU FEEL IT”

The pulse of “Can You Feel It” can truly be felt throughout Braun’s entire latest release. On every funky tune, you hear the resounding theme loud and clear, no matter whether it is “Get Up And Dance” or “Another Kind Of Blue.” As Rick looks forward to the release of his sixteenth album, he feels blessed to have fans old and new who love his music. Embarking on this journey, he wanted to encompass the vibe of “Beat Street.” When it was all said and done, Rick Braun’s intent to create organic music with his friends and create a funky album with a real experience was accomplished. He humbly gives credit to Philipe Saisse, Brian Culbertson, Euge Groove, Jeff Lorber, Elliot Yamin, and Dave Koz whom collaborated with him to breathe life into his project. From beginning to end, “Can You Feel It” will take you on a funky, musical ride. Ironically, Rick’s birthday is 2 days before the July 8th release date of “Can You Feel It.” I have a feeling that he is going to have many reasons to celebrate this year.

Rick and I talk about the unmistakable funkiness of this album.

 

Rick Braun "Can You Feel It"
Rick Braun “Can You Feel It”

 

 

 

RICK BRAUN WANTS TO KNOW “CAN YOU FEEL IT”

The pulse of “Can You Feel It” can truly be felt throughout Braun’s entire latest release. On every funky tune, you hear the resounding theme loud and clear, no matter whether it is “Get Up And Dance” or “Another Kind Of Blue.” As Rick looks forward to the release of his sixteenth album, he feels blessed to have fans old and new who love his music. Embarking on this journey, he wanted to encompass the vibe of “Beat Street.” When it was all said and done, Rick Braun’s intent to create organic music with his friends and create a funky album with a real experience was accomplished. He humbly gives credit to Philipe Saisse, Brian Culbertson, Euge Groove, Jeff Lorber, Elliot Yamin, and Dave Koz whom collaborated with him to breathe life into his project. From beginning to end, “Can You Feel It” will take you on a funky, musical ride. Ironically, Rick’s birthday is 2 days before the July 8th release date of “Can You Feel It.” I have a feeling that he is going to have many reasons to celebrate this year.

Rick and I talk about the unmistakable funkiness of this album.

 

Rick Braun "Can You Feel It"
Rick Braun “Can You Feel It”

 

 

 

Brian Culbertson’s Napa Valley Jazz Getaway – June 11-15, 2014‏

There is no other wine and jazz festival in the world like the Napa Valley Jazz Getaway (www.NapaValleyJazzGetaway.me) , an immersive music and lifestyle experience taking place June 11-15, 2014 showcasing a stellar lineup of performers headlined by the event’s founder and creative director Brian Culbertson who partnered  with the best wineries and restaurants in beautiful Napa Valley.

Culbertson, a charismatic contemporary jazz star who recently released his sixth album (“Another Long Night Out”) to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard chart that spawned his 27th No. 1 single as an artist, producer and songwriter, is very hands on and involved in every aspect in planning the Getaway down to the minutest detail. He curated a luminous lineup of contemporary jazz and R&B heavy-hitters to perform and prepared a full slate of wine tastings, fine dining at popular Napa restaurants and post-concert gatherings where the artists meet and mingle with the guests, many of whom will be traveling to California Wine Country from all over the globe for the third annual festival scooping up VIP (sold-out), multiday (4-day Gold and 2-Day Silver Packages) and single-day tickets.

The June 12 and June 13 concerts at the Lincoln Theater are theme nights. Jazz Legends Night (June 12) stars Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenour, Earl Klugh plus special guests Eric Marienthal, David Benoit and more.

Friday Night Funk Night (June 13) struts out The Ohio Players, comedian Keenen Ivory Wayans, and Brian Culbertson & The Funk Experience with Eric Darius, Marqueal Jordan and Marienthal. Before the show, the annual silent auction and wine reception will take place in the lobby to benefit The GRAMMY Foundation.

The weekend concerts move outdoors to the stunning Jamieson Ranch Vineyards grounds. Saturday’s marquee will be lit by Brian Culbertson’s 20th Anniversary Show, Morris Day & The Time, Average White Band and Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Sunday spotlights Eric Benét, Mavis Staples, Darius and Jazz in Pink featuring Gail Jhonson, Althea Rene and Karen Briggs. Between sets on both days, the crowd will be entertained by The World Famous Rick & Russ Show featuring CJ Flash.

The Napa Valley Jazz Getaway celebrates the good life while providing a taste of the idyllic Napa Valley. Daytime events scheduled for June 11 are VIP wine tastings and a luncheon while the evening offers welcome dinners at two locations: one at Round Pond for VIPs serving a performance by Benoit and Culbertson, and the sold-out dinner at Black Stallion Winery featuring live music by Cecil Ramirez and Michael Lington. Another sold-out show is “piano2piano” by Culbertson & Benoit in the round at Rutherford Hill Winery on June 13 from 12-2pm, which includes lunch and a wine tasting. After, Lington hosts a cigar & port event at Prager Winery & Port Works open to all from 2-4pm.

Wine Downs at The Westin Verasa Napa will take place afternoons June 12-15 for VIPs and Gold Package holders to enjoy wine tastings and intimate solo performances by some of the Getaway artists. After the June 12-14 concerts, VIPs and Gold Package holders are invited back to The Westin Verasa Napa for “Another Long Night Out” Late Night Hangs for music, drinks and prix fixe dining. Silver Package holders are welcome to join the Hang on June 14.

Golfers can play in the 2nd Napa Valley Jazz Getaway Golf Tournament at Chardonnay Golf Club on Saturday morning, June 14.

THE ERIC ESSIX JAZZ ESCAPE

The year of 2014 is off to a great start for Eric Essix. He is enjoying a multitude of success from his latest release “Evolution” and planning an event with a purpose. The Eric Essix Jazz Escape will be held in Birmingham, Alabama on August 29-31 this year. This will be the first year of the Escape that Essix plans to have annually–very appropriately named an Escape versus a festival because that is what Eric intends the experience to feel like. The Jazz Escape will be held at the Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa. The line-up for the three day event will include Brian Culbertson, Rick Braun, and Essix’s own band just to name a few. All the proceeds from the Jazz Escape will go directly to Eric’s non-profit foundation, The Eric Essix Foundation for the Arts and Education.

Eric talks with me about his vision and plans for Jazz Escape.

The Eric Essix Jazz Escape
The Eric Essix Jazz Escape

Brian Culbertson’s “Another Long Night Out” debuts at No. 1‏

BC

Brian Culbertson’s “Another Long Night Out” debuts at No. 1

Hitmaker revisits his contemporary jazz roots joined by an all-star cast to reinterpret his debut album 20 years later.

Los Angeles, Calif. (7 March 2014): Twenty years after the release of his debut album, “Long Night Out,” award-winning contemporary jazz/R&B multi-instrumentalist Brian Culbertson completely reimagined the collection as “Another Long Night Out,” his 14th album and first on his BCM Entertainment label, which debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Albums chart. The set spotlighting a stellar collective comprised of many of the contemporary jazz luminaries that influenced and inspired Culbertson to make the first record is the musician’s sixth album to debut at No. 1. Speeding up the Billboard Smooth Jazz Songs chart to No. 2, the first single, “Fullerton Ave.” featuring guitarist Chuck Loeb, is on the road to earning Culbertson his 27th No. 1 single as an artist, producer and songwriter.

The day before the February 25 album release, Culbertson took over Sirius XM’s Watercolors for 16 hours programming cuts from the new collection as well as from some of the musicians featured on “Another Long Night Out” including Loeb, Lee Ritenour, Eric Marienthal, Rick Braun, Steve Lukather, Russ Freeman, “Patches” Stewart, Candy Dulfer and Jonathan Butler. Other noteworthy musicians appearing on the remake are Paul Jackson Jr., Jimmy Haslip, Will Kennedy, Nathan East, the late Ricky Lawson, Ray Parker Jr., Jeff Kashiwa, Larry Dunn and Ricky Peterson along with a 33-piece orchestra playing arrangements by David Benoit and Culbertson.

For the first time, Culbertson has made the sheet music used during the “Another Long Night Out” recording sessions available for free on his website. Musicians that want to play along can purchase “Music Minus One” mixes for piano, bass, drums and “band only” (no piano or other lead instruments) on Culbertson’s webstore.

Recorded in the bedroom of his crowded college apartment above a Chicago costume shop while he was a 20-year-old music student at DePaul University, the three demos that formed the basis of “Long Night Out” landed Culbertson a 6-album record deal. The notion to rebuild the album from scratch using fresh arrangements and feature performances from contemporary jazz royalty has long-ruminated inside Culbertson’s head and began with a wish list cast of musicians.

“The idea behind the remake was to make the album the way I always wanted to do it. Over the years, I’d randomly listen to that album. I liked the songs and arrangements, but always heard things that I would have liked to have done differently, mainly because of the limitations I had at the time. I had a very limited budget and limited technology so I tried to make the instruments sound real even though I had to use synth piano, a drum machine and synth bass. Now I can use real piano and live players along with the experience I’ve had over the past 20 years as a producer,” said Culbertson, who also had another purpose for the new recording in mind. “I wanted to return to my roots and introduce newer fans to another side of me as a musician and an artist. Contemporary jazz fans will dig ‘Another Long Night Out.’ I hadn’t done a full instrumental album in years. It is jazz fusion-y and I want to be known as a broader artist than just the R&B/funk guy. A lot of people didn’t know the (music on the) first album, which is out of print.”

Also a popular concert draw known for high-energy performances and masterful musicianship, Culbertson will begin rehearsals next week for an entirely new show that will be unveiled at a dress rehearsal March 12 for invited guests and 94.7 The Wave Los Angeles radio station contest winners with the first tour dates in support of “Another Long Night Out” taking place March 20-23 at Seattle’s Jazz Alley. Last week, Culbertson played a short set in Napa for Wine Country royalty as he launched his own wine, “Culbertson” Pinot Noir by Reata Wines, a personal blend he created in partnership with Jamieson Ranch Vineyards. Tickets for Culbertson’s third annual Napa Valley Jazz Getaway, a star-studded wine and jazz festival that will again lure thousands of enthusiasts from all over the world to Napa June 11-15, 2014, are on sale now with the June 14 & 15 shows taking place on the stunning Jamieson Ranch property.

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

Brian Culbertson is ready for “Another Long Night Out”

Brian Culbertson
Brian Culbertson

Culbertson gears up for “Another Long Night Out”

Album pre-orders underway as the first single, “Fullerton Ave.” featuring Chuck Loeb, earns the highest debut on the Billboard chart and the music video premieres. 

Los Angeles, Calif. (23 January 2014): Twenty years in the making, the album multi-instrumentalist hitmaker Brian Culbertson wanted to record ever since he was a 20-year-old music student at DePaul University recording demos in the bedroom of the crowded Chicago apartment on Fullerton Avenue above a costume shop that he shared with three roommates is finally ready for release. Joined by some of the most accomplished musicians in contemporary jazz, Culbertson completely reimagined the eleven songs he wrote and produced for his debut disc, “Long Night Out.” “Another Long Night Out” will be available in stores and online February 25th with Amazon and iTunes now accepting pre-orders. Culbertson will autograph albums pre-ordered through his website (www.BrianCulbertson.me).

The low-budget demos on which Culbertson played most of the instruments himself resulted in his first record deal and became his debut album. It is fitting that the entirely re-envisioned production serves as the first release from his BCM Entertainment label.

Culbertson’s 14th collection, “Another Long Night Out” is prefaced with the release of “Fullerton Ave.,” which will be the highest new single to debut on next week’s Billboard Smooth Jazz Songs chart. A video of the sprawling jazz jam led by Culbertson on piano, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, keyboards, slap bass, trombone and tambourine and a towering inferno of lead guitar from Chuck Loeb premiered yesterday on Culbertson’s YouTube page (www.youtube.com/brianculbertsonmusic). The clip showcases an all-star ensemble – Paul Jackson Jr., Michael “Patches” Stewart, Eric Marienthal, Jimmy Haslip and Will Kennedy – recording the cut in the studio along with a montage of shots of the Chicago skyline and the city’s locales frequented by Culbertson, including his college apartment.

“‘Another Long Night Out’ is a return to my creative roots and reflects my love of instrumental contemporary jazz. To help realize my vision, I gathered many of the legendary musicians that inspired me to make this kind of music in the first place. People like Lee Ritenour, Chuck Loeb, Nathan East, Russ Freeman, Jonathan Butler, Candy Dulfer, Jimmy Haslip, Rick Braun, Eric Marienthal, Larry Dunn, Steve Lukather, Ricky Lawson, David Benoit and many, many more joined me in the studio. This is the project that I’ve wanted to do for many years and I’ve finally done it,” said Culbertson, an award-winning radio favorite and concert headliner who has amassed 26 No. 1 hits as an artist, producer and songwriter.

“Another Long Night Out” will be supported by record release events, in-store appearances and concert dates.

Culbertson is also a lifestyle curator who created the Napa Valley Jazz Getaway, a star-studded wine and jazz festival that will take place for the third time June 11-15, 2014 drawing thousands of music and wine lovers from around the world to Napa, Calif. He will soon unveil his own wine, a Pinot Noir blended in partnership with Reata Wines and Jamieson Ranch Vineyards. For more information, please visit www.BrianCulbertson.me.

The songs that comprise Culbertson’s “Another Long Night Out” are:

“City Lights” featuring Lee Ritenour

“Fullerton Ave.” featuring Chuck Loeb

“Beyond The Frontier”

“Heroes Of The Dawn” featuring Eric Marienthal & Rick Braun

“Beautiful Liar” featuring Steve Lukather

“Double Exposure” featuring Russ Freeman

“Twilight” featuring Eric Marienthal

“Horizon” featuring Michael “Patches” Stewart

“Alone With You”

“Long Night Out” featuring Candy Dulfer

“Changing Tides” featuring Jonathan Butler

An intimate “Christmas Song” from Brian Culbertson‏

Brian Culbertson
Brian Culbertson

An intimate “Christmas Song” from Brian Culbertson

Los Angeles, Calif. (5 December 2013): With the holiday season on his mind, contemporary jazz-R&B star Brian Culbertson recently took a break from recording his forthcoming “Another Long Night Out” album, sat down at the Mason & Hamlin grand piano in his studio and played a stark, emotionally stirring rendition of “The Christmas Song.” Enjoying his newfound freedoms as an independent recording artist, Culbertson recorded the seasonal classic and put it on iTunes (http://bit.ly/BCChristmasSong), Amazon (http://bit.ly/bcChristmasSong) and other major digital outlets.

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“It is a solo piano piece of an arrangement I did many years ago. I have performed it on my Christmas tours, but had never recorded it until recently,” said Culbertson of the heartfelt, contemplative beauty. “Being able to spontaneously record and then swiftly release something new for fans is one of the energizing perks of the new music industry.”

Culbertson’s first full-length indie release and 14th album overall, “Another Long Night Out” is slated for release in late February. The project is a reimaging of his debut album, “Long Night Out,” which will mark its 20th anniversary in February. Culbertson, a multi-instrumentalist who wrote the eleven songs and played most of the instruments on the original album that he recorded in his crowded Chicago apartment while he was a 20-year-old student at DePaul University, is producing the set featuring performances by Lee Ritenour, Russ Freeman, Jonathan Butler, Rick Braun, Candy Dulfer, Eric Marienthal, Chuck Loeb, Steve Lukather and Paul Jackson Jr. along with a stellar collective of contemporary jazz musicians and a 33-piece orchestra playing arrangements by David Benoit.

Additional information about Culbertson, who will bring in the New Year on stage with his band at a New Year’s Eve Gala at the Hyatt Regency in Huntingdon Beach, Calif., is available at www.BrianCulbertson.me.

SAXOPHONIST AND VOCALIST MARQUEAL JORDAN

Marqueal Jordan is a double threat in the world of music. The extraordinary musician is a gifted saxophone player and an amazing vocalist. He’s thankful for his vocal talent and has mastered how to use it. However, it’s the saxophone that compels him to push beyond the boundaries. Marqueal has been on the music scene for a long time. Early on, he showcased his talents with the funk unit “Fat Time.” Along the way, he had several opportunities to weave his way through genres such as R & B, Blues, and Jazz. Fortunately for him, in the long run, those experiences would have served him immensely. When he was asked by Brian Culbertson to join his band and go on tour with him, he did not hesitate. This was the moment for which he’d been preparing for many years. Since that time, Marqueal has collaborated with some of the very best artists in multiple genres of music. His skills and talents make him the perfect asset. Although he has spent much of his career as a sideman, Marqueal recently decided to step into the spotlight and embark upon a solo career. That decision has proven to be the right move for Jordan. His debut album is titled “Catalyst” and is full of songs that Marqueal says are “the best representation of himself.” His quest was to create a project that was a cross between Grover Washington and Maxwell. Ultimately, his work with friends and fellow musicians Brian Culbertson, DJ INC, Chris “Big Dog” Davis, and Frank McComb has led to this body of music that is nothing short of incredible. All of his hard work paved the way for such a time as this.

Marqueal and I had a great time talking about “Catalyst.”

Marqueal Jordan
Marqueal Jordan
Marqueal Jordan
Marqueal Jordan