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.

STANLEY CLARKE: IN HIS OWN WORDS

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1. You’ve been referred to as a legend since you were in you mid-20s. When you hear the title “legend,” who comes to mind?

“Legend” is a funny term to me. I don’t pay it any mind. Famous, happy, great, ego, confidence are all feelings. “Legendary” doesn’t really seem to have feelings wrapped around it.

I have heroes like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Stan Getz and Charlie Parker. These are people I listened to when I was young.

2.  You are undoubtedly one of the most accomplished bassists, prolific in jazz-fusion and jazz, and an inspiration for other musicians to emulate. As a young prodigy, who were your major musical influences?

My mother was a semi-professional opera singer and played a lot of classical music. My father really liked gospel. I was very fortunate in that music was always in my home growing up. My parents introduced me to all different styles of music and I have continued to listen to all types of music, new and old. I was not a person to get heavily into a particular genre.

When I started listening to the radio as a teenager, I loved Jimi Hendrix and the R&B music coming out of Motown. Someone gave me a John Coltrane album in my teens that I fell in love with. That motivated me to listen to artists like Miles Davis, Stan Getz and Charlie Parker. All are incredibly creative and innovative in their own way.

I began studying music around 12 or 13 years old. I first learned on the acoustic bass. I was blessed that the foundation of my career was a great musical education. My initial music education was very traditional and somewhat strict, but it gave me a strong base that I could build upon.

3.  How was the transition fresh out of school from the Philadelphia Academy of Music to New York and into the company of musical bandleaders such as Stan Getz and Dexter Gordon?

I was very lucky in that when I came to New York to launch my career, I immediately landed jobs with famous bandleaders such as Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson, Pharaoh Saunders, Gil Evans and Stan Getz among others. They were great role models, each in different ways. It was the best on-the-job training. One of the wonderful things about Jazz is the nurturing that takes place of young musicians by the masters. I now try and do this myself.

In Charlotte I’m going to be bringing along Beka Gochiashvili on acoustic piano, Mike Mitchell on drums, and Cameron Graves on keyboards. We’ve been playing together for the last few years. Beka is now about 19-years-old and Mike 20-years-old. They are already award-winning, extraordinary musicians. They are about the same age I was when I first started playing with some of the masters. Cameron has been around a bit longer and is a very talented musician.

4.  Shortly thereafter, as a masterful jazz-fusion bassist, you had gold albums and were selling out shows as the headliner. Were you prepared for the success you were achieving by the age of 25?

My ultimate goal has always been to bring the bass out from the rhythm section to the front of the stage. I worked very hard to give the bass a distinctive voice and I could see the progress with each success. Playing in huge arenas was pretty heavy stuff and certainly different from my earlier jazz combo experiences, but, wow, what a great adventure. Specifically to answer your question, I don’t think anyone can really prepare for that kind of success and fame on a major scale.

Things were pretty different for a young musician 40 or 50 years ago. Probably the biggest thing is that we didn’t have the media scrutinization created by the Internet. I’m thankful I didn’t have to deal with that.

5.  Throughout your illustrious career, Mr. Clarke, you’ve received countless accolades including 4 Grammy’s and are well established as a composer, producer, and film score composer, arranger, and conductor.

You had the honor of collaborating with some of the greatest artists in the world. The list–just to name a few–includes Jean Luc Ponty, Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten, Lenny White, and Larry Carlton.

Another one of those artists is Chick Corea. Together, you formed the electric jazz/fusion band Return To Forever. The band won a Grammy for Forever and recorded eight other successful albums. Describe what made that collaboration such a huge success.

Chick and I started playing together around 1970 with Stan Getz. Later we formed many different groups of which Return To Forever was one. A major one. It was great being able to spearhead a movement together. That movement was jazz-rock, jazz-fusion or just fusion…whatever one wants to call it.

One thing special about my relationship with Chick was that he was very encouraging about me writing my own compositions. I had never been challenged in that area before. Composing has become essential to my career.

On the whole, Return to Forever was like a traveling university. At the time the record companies didn’t know what the hell we were doing, but people were coming out to see the shows and we were selling records. Basically, we were as loud as rock bands, but we brought technique to it. It was a great time. We were experimenting with new concepts of uniting those genres. Fusion of jazz and rock was somewhat of an “exposure gateway” of the time. Fans of rock were exposed to jazz and jazz fans were exposed to rock. It gave listeners an appetite for discovery. It still does.

I think it’s interesting that jazz-fusion or jazz-rock has been assimilated into so many genres of music now. I hear it in Gospel, Rock, Pop, Country and more.

6.  You also had tremendous success working with the late George Duke. You were known as the Clarke/Duke Project in 1981. You two recorded three albums and toured together in 2006, 2012, and 2013, actually, up until Mr. Duke passed. What was the highlight of working with George over the years?

Probably the best connection I’ve had on stage and off is with George. I loved George as a brother and had the highest respect for him as a man and a musician. I feel forever fortunate to have had him as a friend for more than forty years. The most fun I had touring was with George because we had such a good time together. So often on a tour the comedy doesn’t live up to the music. In our case it did. George left a huge footprint in our industry. He was a light, bright star with a certain unique skill set.

I always admired George’s sophisticated musicality. Few have the ability to walk through so many different genres as he did…R&B, Jazz, Pop, Rock, and Classical. He knew all well and didn’t have any weaknesses. Incredibly, he understood how to weave these all together. I strive for that myself.

In homage to George, I dedicated my last album, UP to him and made a conscious decision to include his music in every show and project this year.

7.  In 2014, you produced The Stanley Clarke Band: UP which received a NAACP Image Award nomination for Best Jazz Album in 2015, and the song Last Train To Sanity was nominated for a Grammy in 2015 for Best Jazz Arrangement Instrumental or A Cappella. How was UP different from other projects?

UP is the most energetic, fun, rhythmic and upbeat album that I have ever done. My goal was to make a record with my personal friends. The entire album concept was experimentation. I wanted the creative process to be as effortless as possible.

Everyone came prepared and ready to play. All are fantastic musicians and there was an ease and naturalness to our sessions, especially considering the various genres everyone came from. The talent ranged from the great Michael Jackson session rhythm section of John Robinson, Paul Jackson, Jr. and Greg Phillinganes to my friends from rock like Stewart Copeland and Joe Walsh to my newer friends from the more classical Harlem String Quartet as well as so many more. They came to the studio to give everything they had and it was a creative process that I am grateful to have experienced.

8.  Your own record label Roxboro Entertainment was formed in 2010. Aside from your own projects, it’s also home to other musicians as well as projects geared towards education in music. Has this been a goal of yours since the beginning of your career?

Not really. The music “business” is a whole different industry from when I started out. Then, major record companies ruled. Now we’re all trying to find our place. Access to new technology and the Internet has changed almost everything.

I launched Roxboro Entertainment Group in 2010. My business model includes music publishing for my own and other musicians’ work, as well as the development of various projects aimed at music education.

I chose a selection of artists whose work I personally liked, but had not had a lot of recording exposure. So far the roster includes guitarist Lloyd Gregory, multi-instrumentalist Kennard Ramsey, keyboardist Sunnie Paxson, Ukrainian-born pianist, arranger and keyboardist Ruslan Sirota, jazz piano prodigy Beka Gochiashvili from Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia and most recently singer Natasha Agrama’s CD, The Heart of Infinite Change. Natasha is my daughter and I’m very proud of her work and accomplishments.

9.  In addition to your success over the years as an accomplished artist creating music that will live forever and establishing a respectful legacy, you and your wife Sofia established The Stanley Clarke Foundation over a decade ago. What is the foundation’s main mission?

It’s very simple really. In 2002 my wife, Sophia, and I created The Stanley Clarke Foundation. So far, we’ve been able to offer a generous amount of scholarships to the Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles. One day I’d love it to expand to other regions. There is certainly the need.

The foundation is something near and dear to our hearts. We strongly believe that those who have reached success in realizing their own artistic vision have a duty to help others in their struggle to emerge. I’ve always believed that “talent” and not one’s socioeconomic background should be the basis of an individual’s chance to go on to create artistically.

10.  On November 6th, 2015, D-STRINGZ, an acoustic project, was released featuring yourself, violinist Jean Luc-Ponty, and guitarist Bireli Lagrene. How would you describe this album, and what sets it apart?

D-Stringz is entirely acoustic–drumless. I think the album will make listeners rethink how to listen to some of their favorites like: Blue Train and Mercy Mercy Mercy. I’ve been very pleased that reviewers have been very positive and seem to get the point.

We first played together as a trio at a concert last year marking Jean-Luc’s 50th year as a professional and agreed to record together. It was a treat and a true collaboration. Jean-Luc and I had toured on and off for years, but Biréli Lagrène, who is also French, is much less well known to the jazz establishment. Bireli, a guitar virtuoso very popular in Europe, comes from the classic French mold of Django Reinhardt-laced gypsy swing. But, he’s also good at dancing around the fringes of soul, blues, flamenco, jazz and whatever else can be played on guitar. I think people here will enjoy getting introduced to him.

11.  Aside from touring, Mr. Clarke, what does 2016 look like for you?

2016 looks like it will be a wonderful busy year. I’m going to be touring in Europe starting mid-February. Over a break in Europe I’m planning to record my next Stanley Clarke Band CD in Brussels.

I have a movie I scored coming out April 15th. It’s the next in the popular Barbershop franchise, Barbershop: The Next Cut. This one is directed by my old friend Malcolm D. Lee. I’ve done several movies with him, the last being Best Man’s Holiday. Barbershop: The Next Cut stars Ice Cube, Anthony Anderson, Common, Nicki Minaj and others.

I’m also working on a documentary about my career and have some other projects up my sleeve.

I always have things going. I love to keep busy

12.  Finally, if you could have a super power, what would it be, and why?

To be able to be physically in more places than one at the same moment….

The reason is that I would be able to get more things done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overcoming connectivity issues: jazz keyboardist Mark Etheredge connects with GRAMMY-winning producer Paul Brown to create “Connected,” due February 26‏

Mark Etheredge

Overcoming connectivity issues: jazz keyboardist Mark Etheredge connects with GRAMMY®-winning producer Paul Brown to create “Connected,” due February 26

 

LOS ANGELES (9 December 2015): Emitting an abundance of light on the front and back covers, contemporary jazz keyboardist Mark Etheredge describes his forthcoming “Connected” as the happiest album he’s ever made. Listening to the ten-song Vipaka Records release produced by two-time GRAMMY® winner Paul Brown, the upbeat melodies and optimistic grooves are spirit-raisers, written by a man who is quite comfortable in his own skin. But the inspiration behind the project that is scheduled for release February 26, 2016 is anything but comfy. While growing up, the tall and gawky Etheredge was bullied. He felt alone and disconnected. One of four boys born to a father who was a minister, Etheredge grew up singing and playing in church yet as he discovered his sexual identity, he felt further isolated. He was different and he knew it.

“I had a deep feeling of being disconnected from humanity. Later, I realized that these feelings were all in my head. We are all connected in this world, and what we do affects each other. ‘Connected’ is a celebration of our human connection – across geography, race, language, class, gender, sexual orientation and beliefs,” said Etheredge. “I’ve wanted to make an album like this for a long time. Working with Paul Brown and the high caliber of musicians was a real treat for me, and I’m thrilled to share this album with listeners.”

While most of the tunes on “Connected” offer a treasure trove of lilting piano and keyboard harmonies, the tension is palpable on “Lost In The Shuffle,” an instrumental account of Etheredge’s bullied past provoked by Brown’s menacing electric guitar and horn section stabs from saxophonist Greg Vail and trumpeter Lee Thornburg. It took decades before Etheredge could feel at ease composing a soaring affirmation like “Be Who You Are.” Championing our differences and connectivity, the disc’s deep-pocketed title track will be the first single shipped to radio after the New Year for airplay (watch the video for “Connected” here http://bit.ly/1m7Krpe). The urbane outing produced to sound live also makes room for the lighthearted with the carefree romantic romp “Groovin’ With My Baby”; the rousing “For Your Love” highlighting ace guitarist Chuck Loeb (Fourplay);  the frivolously-titled “Bing Bang Boom,” which packs an explosive wallop along with combustible Latin sounds; and incorporates R&B and gospel into the mix with Andy Suzuki’s soul-stirring tenor sax appeals as Etheredge demonstrates his proficiency on the Hammond B3 and Wurlitzer on “Soul Clap Honey.”

Throughout the album, drummer Gorden Campbell, bassist Roberto Vally and percussionist Richie Garcia form a taut rhythm section from which Etheredge’s nimble and vibrant piano and keyboard melodies leap to the fore, bolstered by Brown’s guitar prowess.

“Connected” denotes a return to instrumental music for Etheredge following 2012’s adult contemporary vocal session “Change Coming,” which was driven by “The One,” a single graced with backing vocals from dance music diva Jeanie Tracy that received international airplay. His debut date, “As Dawn,” was a New Age record released at the height of the genre’s commercial power and reissued in 2010. “Connected” is Etheredge’s first collection recorded in Los Angeles after his relocation from the Bay Area two years ago, leaving a job in the tech space to fully focus on following his musical muse.

“I realized I wanted to do something more meaningful, make a more positive impact on the world and share my passion for music,” said Etheredge, who will be performing at album release concerts at Spaghettini near Los Angeles on February 28 and at Bay Area jazz club Angelicas on March 19.

Etheredge’s “Connected” album contains the following songs:

“Groovin’ With My Baby”

“Be Who You Are”

“Roger That”

“Connected” featuring Paul Brown

“Lost In The Shuffle” featuring Paul Brown

“Cherry Cha”

“For Your Love” featuring Chuck Loeb

“Bing Bang Boom”

“Rain”

“Soul Clap Honey”

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

WE’RE “TAKING ANOTHER LOOK” AT LEGENDARY RAMSEY LEWIS

With a career spanning decades, over 75 albums, 3 GRAMMY’S, and other countless honors, Ramsey Lewis has sustained a presence that only true icons possess. His early love for the piano turned into an illustrious career of doing what he loves to do. Ramsey has been able to make music that impacts an entire genre of music and has done so while collaborating with the very best musicians in music. Ramsey’s recent audacious moves are truly indicative of a legend with more work to do. One of those ventures is establishing his own label: Ramsey’s House, distributed through SONY/Red. Additionally, on July 24th, 2015, Ramsey released his latest album “Taking Another Look – Deluxe Edition” on his label. Ramsey’s House will be home to Ramsey and other jazz artists. “Taking Another Look – Deluxe Edition” is a reincarnation of sorts of Ramsey’s 1974 album “Sun Goddess,” including exceptional covers of “Betcha By Golly Wow” and “Living For The City.” The addition of three bonus songs featuring Dr. John, the funky group Kung Fu, and the band TAUK complete the Deluxe Edition. Ramsey says, “this album is definitely among the top five.”

Listen as the legendary Ramsey Lewis and I converse about his past and present:

Ramsey Lewis

 

AT HOME WITH JEFF LORBER

In Jeff Lorber’s home, surrounded by a variation of instruments old and new, creativity is abundant. Taking a step down into his studio, I was overwhelmed by the majestic presence of music. I knew it was the home of countless artists, songs, albums, and hits. It was the place that Grammy-nominated Jeff Lorber called home. As we comfortably made our way from one room to the other, Jeff and fellow friend/producer shared stories about the “Beatles.” I listened intently absorbing every word.

Jeff is very fortunate because he gets to do what he loves and that is making music. Having grown up in a household where music was abundant helped fuel his passion. His ability to evolve with the change of tides in the music industry, in addition to being inspired by new music and artists has contributed to his longevity. Lorber challenges himself to get out of his comfort zone when collaborating with countless musicians crossing genre lines. Reinventing himself continuously, Jeff is keenly aware that it is his job to make great music, and holds himself accountable if it is not. From his point of view, his music is “melodic, funky, and harmonic.”

Lorber is undeniably a great musician. While talking with him, I discovered he’s great for more reasons than one:

 

THE BEST OF PATRICE RUSHEN

Patrice Rushen has accomplished over the years what most musicians will never experience. Her gift has earned her insurmountable accolades including Grammy nominations. As an accomplished and world renowned pianist, composer, producer, and musical director, Patrice has worked with a vast array of artists across the genre lines. Beyond her 14 solo albums, she’s been honored by ASCAP and also received an honorary doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music where she’s currently a professor. Rushen gives back by working to ensure that music education is available to young people in LA. When she reflects over her career, although she could have never imagined it, it’s all been a learning experience. Being the best that she can be is how she approaches life, and she uses each experience as a building block for the next. Patrice’s advice is to “determine your why, and how it resonates with who you are.” She believes, “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Rushen shares more profound wisdom with me:

Patrice Rushen promo

A talk with Norman Brown

Grammy Award Winner Norman Brown talks to me about his love for music and the guitar. From those who inspired him, to his huge decision to move to LA after High School to pursue his dream, Norman reveals how it all came together. He quickly established himself as one of the best guitar players. From his debut album in 1992 “Just Between Us” to his collaboration with Gerald Albright in 2012 “24/7”, Brown has continuously given us great music. He shows off his vocal skills on his project “West Coast Coolin”, and then again on his R&B hit “Stay With Me.” Finally, Norman can add Broadcaster to the list of his accomplishments. He once hosted his own weekend radio show on the Smooth Jazz Network.

In his own words.

Norman Brown

Norman Brown

Norman Brown

Norman Brown

BWB

BWB

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