“THE JOURNEY” IS THE REWARD FOR NICK COLIONNE

Nick Colionne is embracing the success of his ninth and most recent album, “The Journey,” and has already begun to share the music through his engaging performances. When I spoke to Nick, he was in Florida getting ready for the Seabreeze Jazz Festival. Nick collaborated with Najee, James Lloyd, Chris “Big Dog” Davis, John “Blaster” Blasucci, and Nicholas Cole on “The Journey” which engulfs and delivers the varying styles of each musician. Colionne’s career has been a journey of highs and lows, he admits, and this album represents and reflects that journey. Nick maintains that he is thankful and blessed for the gift of music and hopes to continually make his family and fans proud.

Nick and I share conversation and laughter:

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Blake Aaron spins soulful guitar tales on “Soul Stories,” coming May 5‏

Blake Aaron

 

Blake Aaron spins soulful guitar tales on “Soul Stories,” coming May 5

 

“Wes Side Story” bodes to be the fourth single from the set to enter the Billboard Top 10.

 

Aliso Viejo, Calif. (16 March 2014): Guitarist Blake Aaron utilized an unconventional approach when constructing his fifth album, “Soul Stories,” which will be released May 5 by Innervision Records. To maintain his presence on radio and in the marketplace while juggling a busy schedule as a first-call session player, featured sideman and in-demand producer, he issued a variety of singles with three cuts – the retro funk-disco energizer “Groove-O-Matic,” the urbane romantic duet with jazz crooner Spencer Day entitled “You’re the One for Me” and the salsa-singed “Encantadora” featuring Najee on flute – entering the Billboard Top 10. The ten-track “Soul Stories,” Aaron’s first collection that is entirely self-produced, contains eight original tunes authored by the artist.

Saluting one of his hallmark influences, Aaron embodies seminal jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery on the aptly-titled “Wes Side Story,” an evocative selection that will be serviced to radio stations for playlist adds beginning April 6.

Weaving engaging narratives told through a triad of guitar voices, Aaron’s “Soul Stories” unfolds amidst a varied backdrop of contemporary jazz, R&B, Latin and funk settings. He approaches his compositions as a storyteller and elects to feature a different guitar – cool jazz electric, gentle acoustic or emotional nylon string – as the protagonist of each musical vignette. Often Aaron provides a counterpoint by waging an expressive discourse using interpretive play between multiple guitars on the same song. Whether emoting on brisk radio-friendly jaunts or taking his time to elaborate on expansive improvised jams, Aaron’s inspired fret work is crisp, clear, lyrical and skillfully performed with passion and precision.

“As with my live performances, I like to make all of my records as if they are movies with all the emotional ups and downs, as if I am taking the listener through a story or a musical landscape. On ‘Soul Stories,’ I wanted to try to tell compelling musical stories – some with words, but most without. Many artists like to focus on one trademark sound, but I prefer using different modes of expression because that’s really who I am. It keeps the albums fresh and allows for more spontaneity onstage,” said Aaron who recently previewed the album at a sold-out gig at Spaghettini south of Los Angeles. “It’s the most expressive album I’ve ever made as an artist representing the many different facets of the music I love and who I am creatively. There’s literally every part of me on this CD – my heart, blood and sweat. It’s all on this record.”

The musicians who helped Aaron illustrate “Soul Stories” were vocalist Derek Bordeaux, keyboardists Tom Zink, Rob Mullins and Lew Laing; bassists Hussain Jiffry and Melvin Davis; strings arranger and keyboardist Mike Whittaker; strings arranger and label mate Craig Sharmat; percussionist Ronnie Gutierrez, and drummers Ricky Lawson and Winston Butts.

Another creative outlet occupying Aaron’s time is his weekly “Blake Aaron Live with Tina Anderson,” a nationally-syndicated radio show airing in markets including California, New York, Florida, Arizona and on Urban Soul Radio. Over the years, Aaron has hosted, interviewed and played with a galaxy of the brightest stars in contemporary jazz, adult contemporary and pop on the radio program. The Southern California-based recording artist debuted with 2002’s “With Every Touch” that offers collaborations with David Benoit and Eric Marienthal. Subsequent releases – “Bringin’ It Back,” “Desire” and “A Romantic Christmas” – garnered airplay and chart action while frequent appearances on the concert circuit enhanced his national profile. In other media, Aaron held a 14-year-stint as the guitarist and theme song co-composer for “MAD TV” along with more than a dozen films and television series the likes of which include “The Ben Stiller Show,” “Super Dave Osborne” and “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment.” For more information, please visit www.BlakeAaron.com.

“Soul Stories” is comprised of the following songs:

“Groove-O-Matic”

“Wes Side Story”

“Sol Amor”

“Europa”

“You’re the One for Me”

“Story of the Blues”

“Sara Smile”

“Story of My Life”

“You’re My Miracle”

“Encantadora”

BRIAN SIMPSON STRAIGHT “OUT OF A DREAM”

Brian Simpson knows quite a bit about making hits. After all, he has had a few of them since his solo career began in 2005. He has been and continues to be the guy that his fellow musicians call upon when it comes to producing. Brian’s belief is that “the melody is still king.” To go along with that, he also remembers what a teacher once told him he should always remember: “unity, variety, and continuity.” While it may have been unbeknownst to him at the time, those three vital components would later become very clear. While embarking upon the creation of his latest album, “Out Of A Dream,” Brian embraced the idea of variety and enlisted a host of co-composers. “Out Of A Dream” could be viewed as an album of duets. Simpson features the superb saxophone skills of Grace Kelly and the flute of Najee on the title track, “Out Of A Dream.” Brian’s collaboration with longtime friend Dave Koz exhibits why the two have such a successful working relationship. Keeping variety front and center, Simpson’s first single, “Sky Watcher,” was co-written by Ryan Farish–who only does electronic music. Furthermore, being an international traveler, Brian takes his listeners on a global journey from Spain to Brazil through songs featuring Marc Antoine and Maysa. And as a tribute to Joe Sample, Simpson penned “Lets Get Away” with Oliver Wendell. Other collaborators include Jonathan Fritzen, Maurice Brown, and Norman Brown.

Brian and I discuss the importance of variety and the creation of “Out Of A Dream”:

Brian Simpson

MARION MEADOWS: THE “SOUL TRAVELER”

Marion Meadows is eclectic. In his own words, “he’s always been a Gypsy and a daredevil.” His latest album, “Soul Traveler,” is truly symbolic as the soundtrack to his life. Meadows worked with Carlo Pennisi to write all original songs–albeit, with a little resistance. Although thinking outside the box is how Marion usually operates, it took a little more urging on behalf of Pennisi to bring “Soul Traveler” into existence. He describes the evolution of “Soul Traveler” much like a blooming flower. Meadows amorously says that “he loves the people he works with.” Graciously, he was joined by longtime friend and fellow saxophonist, Najee, Elan Trotman, Vincent Ingala, Juan Benevides, Phil MacArthur, Joey Sommerville, Kyle Turner, Ragan Whiteside, Toni Bias, and Lamar Gaines. Unwittingly, unknowingly, and with all of himself, Marion created a record that his fans will relish.

Listen as Marion and I talk all things “Soul Traveler”:

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PHIL PERRY CELEBRATES 45 YEARS IN MUSIC

The unmistakable voice of Phil Perry has graced us for over four decades. For generations upon generations who have loved his music, it is a gift to still have him sharing his talents with us. Although it has been 45 years for Phil in the music industry, it doesn’t feel like it has been that long to him. He is honored, fortunate, and humbled to have earned the respect of his peers for all these years. Perry has prided himself on his professionalism and feels that it has been a sustaining quality throughout the years. He is critical of himself when it comes to writing, yet he is led to write. His latest album, “Say Yes,” features some original tunes and some covers. The covers–although recognizable–are not the same. They have Phil Perry all over them. The album spent weeks on the smooth jazz charts as Top Vocal and Top 10. He collaborated with Chante Moore on the song “Where Is The Love,” and it has spent weeks as Billboards’ Top Smooth Jazz Vocal. Phil enjoys performing and always delivers more live than you can hear from simply pushing play. His success can be attributed to the fact that he is grateful for every chance he has to make music because it makes him a better singer each time. In addition, he attempts to leave himself in what he is doing, and that creates an emotional connection between him and his audience. Perry’s advice to anyone who wants to be in the business is to “make sure you love it, and love it to the degree that you’re willing to suffer for it. Because without suffering, there’s no growth.” I personally couldn’t agree more and have been profoundly inspired by his wisdom and willingness to share it.

From the porch of his home in California on a picture perfect day, Phil shares his story with me:

Phil Perry "Say Yes"

Phil Perry “Say Yes”

 

 

“Groove-O-Matic” glory for guitarist Blake Aaron‏

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“Groove-O-Matic” glory for guitarist Blake Aaron

 

No. 1 single will appear on the “Soul Stories” album coming this summer.

 

Aliso Viejo, Calif. (20 February 2014): Guitarist Blake Aaron is still tucked away in the recording studio tinkering on his forthcoming fifth album, “Soul Stories,” yet he’s already topped the charts with a single from the session. Aaron’s cool electric jazz guitar dances to a retro ‘70s disco groove aided by big vibrant horn blasts on “Groove-O-Matic,” which has spent the last nine weeks at No. 1 on the Groove Jazz Music chart and entered the Billboard Smooth Jazz Songs Top 5.

“Groove-O-Matic” is the second single to hit the charts from the album slated for release this summer on Innervision Records. Jazz crooner Spencer Day was featured on “You’re The One For Me,” which reigned in the Top 10 for 20 weeks. The first album Aaron has produced on his own, “Soul Stories” is a collection of soulful jazz, funk and Latin grooves and includes an appearance by urban jazz saxophone star Najee.

“’Soul Stories’ is literally the musical story of my soul. It’s been a long-time coming and spans the journey of my marriage and the birth of my two children. It’s my first CD that is entirely self-produced, my biggest radio and commercial success to date and has been nicknamed our ‘Third Child.’ I’m very proud of the record and look forward to performing it live,” said Aaron, who will perform tracks from the disc with his band and special guests this Saturday night at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, Calif.

Aaron headlines the San Antonio Summer Arts Jazz Festival on June 1and is presently lining up summer dates in support of “Soul Sessions.”

Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as “a genius on the guitar,” Aaron pours passion and precision into his fretwork. Emerging from the studio where he was an in-demand session player and stepping out of the shadows after being a long-time sideman, Aaron launched his solo career with 2001’s “With Every Touch” containing appearances by contemporary jazz stalwarts Eric Marienthal and David Benoit. Singles from the debut album as well as from subsequent releases – “Bringin’ It Back,” “Desire” and “A Romantic Christmas” – have always been favorably received at radio and charted well nationally. Since 2008, Aaron has hosted the internationally syndicated “The Blake Aaron Radio Show” that he describes as an “artist to artist show” on which he jams live on the weekly program with guests that have included Anita Baker, Kenny Loggins, Brian Culbertson, Boney James, Peter White, Rick Braun, Mindi Abair, Earl Klugh, Lee Ritenour, Nathan East, Paul Jackson Jr., Jackiem Joyner and Jessy J. His resume includes playing on and composing music and theme songs for films and popular television series such as “MAD TV,” “The Ben Stiller Show,” “Super Dave Osborne” and “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment.” Additional information is available at www.BlakeAaron.com.

“Soul Stories” contains the following songs:

“Groove-O-Matic”

“Encantadora”

“You’re The One For Me”

“Wes Side Story”

“You’re My Miracle”

“Sara Smile”

“Europa”

“Soul Stories”

THE INNOVATIVE NAJEE

Najee once again very poignantly delivers a collection of songs that we can all connect with on his latest album, “The Morning After.” It encompasses stories of love and journeys well traveled, and it debuted #1 Contemporary Jazz album on the Billboard charts. With a career that spans over several years, Najee continues to captivate audiences without fail. Over the years, he has collaborated with everyone from George Duke to Jeff Lorber to Phil Perry. Najee has the ability to create songs that everyone loves and that reach across multiple genres. As is displayed with the release of the single titled “In The Mood To Take It Slow,” featuring his long time friend Meli’sa Morgan, he does this by making music that is accessible and relevant. She was the perfect person for this sensual slow groove. Smooth Jazz radio stations as well as R & B stations have been giving the single a lot of airplay, and fans are starting to request it more. Najee will be on tour throughout the upcoming year, promoting “The Morning After” and continuing to share his new music.

Najee and I discuss it all via Skype.

Najee

Najee

Najee

Najee