“AROUND THE HORN” WITH RICK BRAUN

Rick Braun sets himself apart with his latest album “AROUND THE HORN.” This standout project is more contemporary and described by Rick as being “a musical journey around the world.” This will be Rick’s seventeenth album and debut release on Shanachie Entertainment. Braun collaborated with long time friend John Stoddart and says that “this record would not be what it is without John’s help.” Peter White and Lindsey Webster are featured artists, adding their originality. “AROUND THE HORN” is a collection of original songs and covers of songs. Braun added his genius to songs by Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Charlie Puth, and Selena Gomez, maintaining their authenticity. Rick proudly admits that his daughter was “a big inspiration for the album.” He even titled the song “Pool Dancer” for her. Braun’s friend and fellow trumpet player from Germany, Till Bronner, joins him on the title track “AROUND THE HORN.” Together, they take trumpet playing to another level.

Listen to Rick and I share conversation:

Layout 1

 

 

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

“LIVING MY DREAM” STORYTELLING BY JONATHAN BUTLER

With every season, there is change. For Jonathan Butler, that change was embraced, and a body of work was subsequently created. “Living My Dream” was born out of a time of transition for Butler while he held on to his faith in God to see him through trying times. At this appointed time in his life, he is well rounded and very seasoned. He is enjoying making life changes, new hobbies, and new passions. Jonathan wholeheartedly knows that this is divinely the right time and right season for him as a man, husband, father, grandfather, and artist. He says his inspiration for making “Living My Dream” is his daughter, Jodie. Jodie–an artist in her own right–collaborated with her father on the romantic and healthily risqué “Night To Remember.” Additionally, he also shares collaborations with Marcus Miller, Elan Trotman, Davy Nathan, and the late George Duke. This album is all about Butler’s identity and storytelling that crosses multiple genres of music and is easily identifiable. The first radio single and first song on the album, “African Breeze,” is one that was written many years ago, and he felt it was time to retrieve it out of the archives. When I spoke with Jonathan, like always, it was like talking to an old friend. He makes such an indelible impression and is always honest. He wants everyone to know that he is a real man with real issues and not just an artist to be admired. That is what “Living My Dream” expresses to the world. Sitting at #1 on iTunes and on Billboard, Butler says, “I’m a granddad who’s kicking butt, taking no prisoners, and “Living My Dream.” I love it!

Jonathan speaks from the heart and very candidly with me:

Jonathan Butler "Living My Dream"

Jonathan Butler “Living My Dream”

 

 

Jonathan Butler

 

 

 

 

Rising above the struggles, Jonathan Butler is living his dream‏

untitled

Rising above the struggles, Butler is living his dream

Family, friends – including Marcus Miller and the late George Duke – and an “African Breeze” combine forces on “Living My Dream,” coming June 24 from the R&B-jazz artist.

Sherman Oaks, Calif. (30 April 2014): It took a while for Jonathan Butler to feel comfortable saying it, but the South African singer-songwriter-guitarist’s confidence has grown as he celebrates what he calls “the season of me” and finally admitting that he is living his dream. He tells the story of his life and loves in the eleven original songs that “came from the heart” on his forthcoming Artistry Music album, “Living My Dream,” which will be released June 24.

Like Butler’s best material from a diverse, award-winning and chart-topping career that’s spanned R&B, jazz, pop and gospel, “Living My Dream” provides an honest and revealing soulful songbook probing the artist’s passions: God, family and his homeland. He has been taking care of others ever since he was seven years-old when he became a child star and was the first black artist played on white radio stations while growing up under Apartheid. Writing and producing gold-selling albums and international hit singles, the two-time Grammy-nominee’s entire life has unfolded in the public eye. Enduring recent struggles forced him to do a lot of reflection and ponder the type of man he wanted to be. He decided that he was finally in a place where it was time to celebrate his own extraordinary life and accomplishments.

With a much needed push from his daughter, singer-songwriter Jodie Butler, and guitarist-songwriter Dennis Dodd Jr., he wrote music every day before heading into the House of Blues recording studio in Los Angeles to record the material in a live setting “like records used to be made.” Bassist-songwriter-producer Marcus Miller co-wrote “Let There Be Light” with Butler and played on that track as well as on “Be Still,” which Butler wrote with George Duke during a 5-hour visit to the late legend’s wine cellar. Saxophonist Elan Trotman also appears on “Let There Be Light.”

“It’s one of those albums that I really didn’t think I had in me. I had been struggling, going through this emotional period. Last year was a transitional period. Once I got my wind and got back to a place of focus, it turned out to be the best experience for me. I had to be vulnerable to the songs,” said Butler about the essence of “Living My Dream.” “It’s the story of my life and the newness of discovery. These really are the best years of my life.”

Butler wrote or co-wrote ten songs for “Living My Dream,” which is a balanced blend of contemporary jazz instrumentals and R&B vocal tunes. The first radio single, “African Breeze,” is a reboot of an instrumental that he wrote 30 years ago for “The Jewel of the Nile” motion picture soundtrack. It is a brisk, energetic African-hued dancer on which Butler plucks the festive melody on nylon string guitar.

A captivating and impassioned performer, Butler will help launch “Living My Dream” during a summer concert tour at which he will share the spotlight with Grammy-winning guitarist Norman Brown.

Butler takes you into the recording studio and talks about recording “Living My Dream” in his EPK, which can be viewed at http://youtu.be/UFFmGWfsKkk. For more information, please visit www.JonathanButler.com.

“Living My Dream” contains the following songs:

“African Breeze”

“Living My Dream”

“Be Still”

“Let There Be Light”

“Heart and Soul”

“Song For You”

“Catembe”

“Night To Remember”

“All About Love”

“Sweet Serenade”

“A Prayer”

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM JONATHAN BUTLER

For Jonathan Butler, Christmas is a very special time of the year. The holiday represents precious time spent with family and the birth of Jesus Christ, both priorities to Jonathan. Thus, the release of his first Christmas album: “Merry Christmas To You.” The title track, penned by Butler, is a beautiful ballad expressing affection for those we love. His instrumental rendition of “Sleigh Ride” encompasses his native South African vibe. Jonathan is joined on this project by fellow friends and musicians Dave Koz, Rick Braun, Dan Lutz, Paul “Shilts” Weimer, and his daughter, Jodie Butler. “Merry Christmas To You” and “Sleigh Ride” will be released this season in time for the holidays. His faith and the gift of music are what continually sustain him. As a youth, it was music that enabled him to break through barriers and achieve tremendous success. His desire to spare youth from the snares of drugs and poverty compelled him to launch the Jonathan Butler Foundation in South Africa. The foundation aims to impart music into the lives of children, consequently giving them the tools to change the outcomes of their future.

Jonathan tells me just what “Merry Christmas To You” means to him.

Jonathan Butler

Jonathan Butler

Jonathan Butler’s holiday spirit of giving gives year-round‏

Jonathan Butler

Jonathan Butler

Butler’s holiday spirit of giving gives year-round

Singer-songwriter launches a foundation to reclaim children from drugs and poverty through music education in his native South Africa in conjunction with the release of “Merry Christmas To You.”

Sherman Oaks, Calif. (4 November 2013): It may only be the beginning of November, but two-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Jonathan Butler is in full holiday spirit with the release of his first Christmas album, “Merry Christmas To You,” and the launch of the Jonathan Butler Foundation in his South African homeland to fund music education programs that give children the purpose to overcome a life of drugs and poverty. Butler, who completed a media tour in several South African cities and performed two concerts there in September to raise funds for the foundation, will soon form a U. S. affiliate to support the foundation’s music and arts programs in South Africa for children ages 4-17.

Butler grew up in South Africa under Apartheid the youngest of 17 children and it was music that rescued him from drugs and extreme poverty thus the inspiration for the foundation comes from personal experience and a desire that has gestated for more than 20 years. The guitar-playing troubadour was 13 when he released his debut album and became the first black artist played on white radio stations in South Africa. Approached by the directors of a Pretorian music school for which Butler served as a benefactor, the foundation with the mission statement “Purpose kills addiction” finally came into being thanks to the formation of key strategic partnerships along with funding and support from the local governments and lottery in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

“The Jonathan Butler Foundation is about building new legacies and I’ve wanted to help the children in my native land fulfill their dreams. Teaming with the local governments to reclaim our children from the drug lords, we teach the kids to sing and play instruments. These are free-born children and it is about their legacies and saving them from drugs and poverty. I plan to visit the different townships and precincts a few times a year to give talks to the kids about how music helped me overcome drugs and poverty. There is immense talent over there (South Africa) and down the road we hope to release compilation albums in the U.S. to help sustain the foundation and its diversion programs,” said Butler.

Butler wrote, produced and played most of the instruments on “Merry Christmas To You,” an intimate 10-song set released October 1st by Artistry Music that showcases the singer with his acoustic guitar. The sparse production maintains focus on the spiritually-impassioned Butler belting out seven Christmas standards, one little known gem (“Sweet Little Jesus Boy”) and a pair of soulful originals authored by the artist, including the title cut and “Happy Holidays.” Radio stations will soon receive a double dose of yuletide glee in the form of a South African-flavored instrumental take on “Sleigh Ride” driven by Butler’s fervent fretwork and the malt shop ballad “Merry Christmas To You,” which Butler charismatically croons and decorates with elegant jazz guitar riffs. Adding horn section parts to a couple of tunes are contemporary jazz aces Rick Braun, Dave Koz and Paul “Shilts” Weimer.

After leading a group of fans out on his third South African Safari last month and playing a handful of U.S. gigs with his band in November, Butler will co-star on the coast to coast Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Tour with the popular sax personality, Oleta Adams and Keiko Matsui starting the day after Thanksgiving (November 29) in Sarasota, Florida and concluding three weeks later with a December 22nd concert in San Francisco, Calif.

For more information about Butler, please visit http://www.JonathanButler.com.

SMOOTH JAZZ CRUISE

Picture1

West Coast Jazz Party at Sea prepared to be hit by a tidal wave of live music

Many firsts are in store for the star studded cruise hosted by Brian Culbertson & Boney James

sailing to the gorgeous Mexican Riviera.

St. Louis, Missouri (24 June 2013): If there has been one complaint among passengers who have sailed aboard The Smooth Jazz Cruise during its first decade it is that there are so many extraordinary concerts and events to attend that it is simply impossible to see and do everything during the 7-day music vacation experience. Wait until they find out what is planned for the first-ever West Coast departure of the perennially sold out luxury cruise to music paradise sailing to exotic Mexican Riviera ports October 12-19. With an astounding 60 concerts slated and a jam-packed program of unique first-time events, excursions and opportunities exclusively available during the West Coast Jazz Party at Sea, this adventure bodes to top all previous cruises, including the traditional January sailing that sold out for 2014 in record time.

R&B jazz luminaries Brian Culbertson and Boney James will host the cruise embarking from San Diego aboard Holland America’s m/s Westerdam en route to Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Baja Coast with a starry cast of Grammy-winning and chart-topping performers featuring David Sanborn, Marcus Miller, Tower of Power, Candy Dulfer, Jonathan Butler, Oleta Adams, Rick Braun, Norman Brown, Richard Elliot, Euge Groove, Earl Klugh, Kenny Lattimore, party band DW3 and music director Brian Simpson. When the live music pauses, legendary MC Biz Markie and Cool V will DJ to keep The Greatest Party at Sea grooving on the dance floor, and comedian Alonzo Bodden will provide the laughter.

Here are ten reasons why the West Coast Party at Sea is different than previous sailings of The Smooth Jazz Cruise:

· Wall to wall live music. The usual program offers 40 shows. 60 concerts will be staged on the October cruise.

· Guests will have the once in a lifetime opportunity to take a one-hour music lesson from the stars with the fee going to charity.

· At a first-ever songwriting seminar, Culbertson and the band will compose a new song on the spot with direct input from the audience.

· During the “Opening Act” talent contest where guests get to show off their own musical gifts, cruisers will judge the opening rounds of the competition with Culbertson, James and Dulfer ultimately determining the winner who will earn the privilege of opening for the headliner and perform with the cruise hosts on the final night of the voyage.

· When in Puerto Vallarta, guests will enjoy artist hosted excursions such as play golf with Braun, ride horseback with Elliot, sightsee with Culbertson, participate at an outdoor challenge with Butler, explore hideaways with Simpson, or join Dulfer for a swim with dolphins.

· While at sea, cruisers can battle Culbertson and James in a ping pong tournament, take a yoga class with Klugh or shoot hoop with Miller.

· For the romantically inclined, couples can renew their wedding vows during a ceremony presided over by Butler.

· On a theme night designated to support Pinktober, national breast cancer awareness month, guests are encouraged to wear pink. Each cruiser will be given a commemorative pin and when they give the card accompanying the pin to the front desk, they will be making a $5.00 donation to fight breast cancer with cruise producer Entertainment Cruise Productions donating matching funds.

· “Backstage Pass” will be filmed nightly aboard the ship in front of a live audience for national television broadcast. Host Dane Butcher will interview each of the cruise stars.

· For the first time, premium reserved seats for the main shows in the Vista Lounge theater are available for all guests who book their cabins by July 31.

Butcher, the Director of Cruise Operations & Programming for Entertainment Cruise Productions, said,

“We are super excited for the West Coast Jazz Party at Sea because this itinerary has allowed us to program the cruise THE perfect way. With more than 60 shows onboard, we added a bunch of brand new activities that make the guests just as much a part of the cruise as the musicians. Visiting Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta provide fantastic shore excursions, beautiful beaches, great shopping and amazing food along with fabulous weather and smooth sailing. We are not only bringing in celebrity DJ Biz Markie and his sidekick Cool V, who are a perfect match for this party crowd, but we added more artists than ever before and have surprises planned that are guaranteed to make this one of the greatest cruises that we have ever produced.”

Guests have fallen in love with The Smooth Jazz Cruise ever since its maiden voyage in 2004. Much more than a jazz festival and much more than a vacation, cruisers spend an entire week completely immersed in the music. On top of the stellar concert performances with Dream Team pairings that take place nightly in the theater and in more intimate nightclub venues aboard the vessel, guests interact daily with the musicians at cocktail parties, poolside games and activities, informative seminars, autograph sessions and cooking demonstrations. It’s an unforgettable first-class lifestyle experience that keeps fans coming back year after year. Cabins for the October sailing are still available and can be reserved by calling toll-free 888.852.9987 in the U.S. & Canada and +800.852.99872 internationally. For more information, please visit http://www.thesmoothjazzcruise.com.

About Entertainment Cruise Productions, LLC

The world leader in full ship charter music cruises, St. Louis, Missouri-based Entertainment Cruise Productions, LLC (ECP) owns, produces and promotes The Smooth Jazz Cruise and The Jazz Cruise (www.thejazzcruise.com), and is proud to partner with Time Life for the Soul Train Cruise (www.soultraincruise.com), Malt Shop Memories Cruise (www.maltshopcruise.com), The Country Music Cruise. (www.countrymusiccruise.com) and Celtic Thunder Cruise (www.celticthundercruise.com). Pleasing guests is Entertainment Cruise Productions’ most important goal and objective while providing luxurious vacation experiences featuring marquee stars from their respective music genres in an extraordinary setting for devoted passengers, many of whom make the fun and exciting cruises an annual affair. Additional information is available at http://www.ecpcruises.com.