JESSY J WELCOMES A “CALIFORNIA CHRISTMAS”

2016 has been a great year for saxophonist Jessy J. She got married and on October 28th, released her debut holiday album, “California Christmas.” Jessy produced the project that she had been working on since 2014. She released it on her own label, Changi Records. The album was dedicated to her former manager, Stewart, who passed away last year. A few of Jessy’s friends including Jeff Lorber, Paul Brown, Steve Oliver, Michael Thompson, Maurice Smith, Jay Rowe, and more joined her on the album. Christmas is Jessy’s favorite time of year, and creating a holiday album that was a reflection of a “California Christmas” felt like a must to her. Covering holiday favorites with her own blues, tropical, jazzy sound makes this album a welcome addition to fans’ collections. Additionally, Jessy started a Pledge Music campaign–a great way for her to interact with fans.

Listen to my conversation with Jessy:

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Grammy-winning hit-maker Paul Brown follows his heart “Back” to his roots

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Grammy-winning hit-maker Paul Brown follows his heart “Back” to his roots

The urban-jazz guitarist releases the bluesy “One Way Back” on Friday, an album on which he collaborates with four contemporary jazz guitar giants and another Paul Brown.

SHERMAN OAKS (30 September 2016): Paul Brown has had the Midas touch since the early ‘90s when he began producing some of the biggest contemporary jazz hits and definitive chart-topping albums by the brightest urban-jazz stars in the galaxy, amassing more than 60 Billboard No. 1 singles. In the past twelve years, the guitarist stepped forward as an artist in his own right, consistently cranking out hits of his own. Although his formative recordings established the sound of the smoother side of contemporary jazz for more than two decades, Brown yearned to reconnect with his first musical passion: the blues. On Friday, Woodward Avenue Records issued his eighth solo collection, “One Way Back,” a self-produced ten-track outing on which he followed his heart back to his blues roots.

“There was only one way back to my roots and that was to go down every road and embrace each one of them in order to find my way back to where I began,” said Brown, a two-time Grammy winner who wrote nine new tunes for the disc that was preceded by a reimagined take on Joe Sample’s party starter “Put It Where You Want It,” currently bulleted at No. 8 on the Billboard singles chart.

Bubbling under Brown’s clean and cool electric jazz guitar expressions throughout “One Way Back” are blues-powered keyboard and Hammond B3 organ blasts courtesy of the similarly-named Brother Paul Brown (no relation) and stacks of muscular horn section workouts from saxophonist Greg Vail and trumpeter-horn arranger Lee Thornberg. Having enjoyed a tremendous amount of success producing signature hits for saxophonists Boney James, Kirk Whalum, Euge Groove and Jessy J, Brown invited label mate saxman Darren Rahn to guest on “Sexy Thang.” Guitar fans will rejoice that four cuts – “Piccadilly Circus,” “River Walk,” “Take Flight” and “Rear View Mirror”- spotlight Brown trading stringed barbs with contemporary jazz guitar sensations Chris Standring, Marc Antoine, Peter White and Chuck Loeb respectively. Standring, Antoine and White stand apart using the voice of nylon guitars while Fourplay’s Loeb emotes deftly on jazz guitar. The session boasts a roof-raising gospel-jazz vocal from Don Bryant on the celebratory juke joint original “Well Alright.” Brown himself takes to the mic to croon the intimate “Heaven,” a poignant, heart-on-the-sleeve country-blues album closer spotlighting the artist’s character-rich voice.

“’One Way Back’ is a journey thru my musical and life experiences. This album is a pure sense of expression and everything I’ve got to give,” said Brown before adding, “I’m a much better guitarist, producer and writer now than ever before.”

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Calif., initially Brown was a drummer before picking up the guitar. After learning his way around the recording studio, he became the engineer for R&B legends Diana Ross, Luther Vandross and Aretha Franklin. Moving over into the producer’s seat, Brown almost single-handedly architected the sound of smooth/contemporary jazz since the 1990s before delivering his solo debut in 2004, “Up Front.” From subsequent albums, three of which went Top 10, two singles -2005’s “Winelight” and 2007’s “The Rhythm Method” – were the most-played radio songs of their respective years. Concert performances around the world enabled him to refine and develop his guitar chops as well as cultivate his fan base far beyond the limiting confines of a recording studio. For more information, please visit www.PaulBrownJazz.com.

Brown’s “One Way Back” album contains the following songs:

“Put It Where You Want It”

“Sexy Thang” (featuring Darren Rahn)

“Hush”

“Piccadilly Circus” (featuring Chris Standring)

“River Walk” (featuring Marc Antoine)

“Well Alright” (featuring Don Bryant)

“Take Flight” (featuring Peter White)

“One Way Back”

“Rear View Mirror” (featuring Chuck Loeb)

“Heaven”

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MARK ETHEREDGE IS “CONNECTED”

Keyboardist Mark Etheredge, armed with a diverse musical background, has come full circle and is set to release the instrumental album he has always wanted to. On February 28, 2016 at Spaghettini’s near Los Angeles, Mark will have a CD release party for “Connected.” Paul Brown produced the much anticipated album and was featured on two of the ten songs, including the title track. Guitarist Chuck Loeb of Fourplay is also a featured artist on the project. As of January 11, 2016, the first single and title track “Connected” was the number one most added song on the BDSradio Smooth Jazz Chart.  “Connected” is the result of Mark’s message about humanity. Unfortunately, like so many other young people in our society, Mark experienced being bullied and developed a sense of being disconnected. Overcoming those feelings and empowering himself, Mark musically expressed it all with “Connected.” He recognizes our differences and expresses how we are all still “Connected.”

Listen as Mark shares his story:

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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.

Jessy J’s “MY ONE AND ONLY ONE”

Jessy J sets out on a new journey–a journey of love and new beginnings–releasing her fifth album, “My One and Only One.” Jessy demonstrates a diverse variety of emotions and music. Again, she collaborated with friend and producer, Paul Brown. Together, their chemistry shines throughout the entire project. Jessy drew inspiration for “My One and Only One” from love and her travels to Cuba and South Africa. She also beautifully covers “Strawberry Letter 23” by Shuggie Otis and “You’re Makin’ Me High,” originally produced by Paul Brown for Babyface and Toni Braxton. Her first single, “Tango Boy,” is garnering rave reviews and lots of attention. Along with the single, Jessy released a video conveying the sexy, carefree expression of a man living life to the fullest.

She and I discuss how the album came to be:

 

 

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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)

I “CAN’T HELP MYSELF” – GREG CHAMBERS

Life for Greg Chambers has certainly changed since the release of his EP, After Hours. His fans are eager, and the buzz is loud surrounding the August 1st release of his latest album, Can’t Help Myself. Chambers admits that it is a great feeling to know that the work you poured your heart and soul into is loved and well received by old and new fans. With this in mind and a clear direction, he embarked on a year-long process to make sure that each song was done the right way–an indicator that Greg will continue to make an indelible impression on smooth jazz, amongst his peers, and on his fans. Can’t Help Myself consists of nine original songs and two covers that Greg produced with Nate Harasim and Matt Godina. He also collaborated with Julian Vaughn, Paul Brown, and Nils. Chambers’ desire was for each song to have his its own identity. He went into the creative process for this album with three standards: each melody had to be on point, the performances had to be compelling, and it had to have dimension. The first radio single and album title Can’t Help Myself represents the aforementioned standards and was added to radio on July 21st. On the morning of our interview on July 22nd, Greg received an email that his single was the fourth most added on the billboard. With that in mind, I would say that Can’t Help Myself is off to a great start.

Greg and I have an enjoyable chat:

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