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”:
If ever there were a most appropriate title for Paul Taylor’s latest album, “Tenacity” wins hands down. Nineteen years in the music business and counting, he shows no signs of slowing down. In the past few years, Paul has had a #1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charts, #1 on the airplay charts, and a Top Ten album on the Billboard Jazz Albums charts. It is no surprise that he continues to be successful. He’s mastered the balancing act of maintaining a solo career and being a member of several projects over the years. Taylor lends his talents to Keiko Matsui’s band, The Rippingtons, Groovin For Grover, Gentlemen of the Night, and Sax and the City. I told him he must be a “superhero.” Paul attributes his success to tenacity, making the title “Tenacity” not one difficult to come up with. He joined forces with his longtime friend and colleague Don Espisito when he embarked upon the making of his 10th album to be released on March 18th. He invited some of jazz’s favorites to collaborate with him on “Tenacity.” Johnathan Fritzen plays on the funky opening song “Supernova” while Jeff Lorber adds his touch to the smooth tune “Luxe,” and Paul Hardcastle ignites the fun “Peace of Mind.” The final song on the album is significantly titled “Empire” because it symbolizes Paul reflecting on all that he has accomplished.
When I hear the name Nicholas Cole, a few words come to my mind. Words such as gifted, grounded, humble, and beyond a shadow of a doubt, AMAZINGLY talented. Cole has landed on the contemporary jazz scene and shown that he’s the future generation. His friend Brian Simpson says “Nicholas is the best young songwriter of contemporary jazz that I’ve come across in the last several years….and he will definitely play a huge part in the future.” He is a composer, producer, and performer. He collaborated with Michael Stever, Tim Bowman, Vincent Ingala, Steve Oliver, Julian Vaughn, Marcus Anderson, and Lynne Fiddmont on his current CD “Endless Possiblities.” His knowledge and awareness of different genres of music gives him the ability to be innovative and continuously evolving. The future is very bright for Nicholas, and I look forward to following his journey.
June 21st at the Time Warner Cable Uptown Ampitheatre the line-up for a night a smooth jazz was stellar. The sky was blue and sun was bright. Local group 5th and York kicked the show off. Peter White and Euge Groove took to the stage and grooved us into the sunset. Peter played a couple of his songs as Euge grooved with him. Then the “House of Groove”, Euge that is, played his saxophone and drew the crowd in with hand clapping high energy. Peter and Euge complimented one another extremely well. Their chemistry was outstanding. They sent the crowd into a “chillaxin” mood perfectly indicative of the sun setting overhead. Night fell, darkness filled the sky, and the Charlotte sky line was beautifully lit up as Brian Culbertson graced the stage. He did so in classic Brian Culbertson style. He jammed with his new band from start to finish. His incredible vocalists Selina Albright and Jason Morales showed off their skills with duet’s and solo’s. WHEW!! The sound coming form the speakers kept the energy high and the crowd grooving. He slowed us down with “It’s On Tonight.” Then the unexpected as well as my favorite moment of the night happened. He took us down memory lane in Brian style and performed “Secret Garden.” It was for me the highlight of his show. He took his time and played his keyboard with pure passion.
June 22nd, night 2 under the sun, the moon, and the stars was jumpstarted by Gregg Karukas. He started the show off nice and easy. He opened with “Wild Wood” from his latest CD. Vincent Ingala joined him on stage and accompanied him on a few songs. Gregg’s working on his 12th CD. He played a few of the songs and asked the crowd to help him come up with a title. Guests were able to write down their suggestions and give them to him during the meet and greet session. That was pretty cool. Marion Meadows, Paul Taylor, and Vincent Ingala came to the stage playing 3 saxophones and heated things up a bit. They each shared music from their individual projects, and of course they jammed as a trio. Joe McBride wooed the crowd with his amazing vocals while playing the keyboard. During which, Vincent put his saxophone down and picked up a guitar and started playing. The entire band was electrifying and energizing. Ending the evening for us was Norman Brown, Kirk Whalum, and Rick Braun aka as BWB. What a combination they are. They grooved, they sang, and engaged the crowd from start to finish. Each artist played individually taking us down memory lane with some of their songs. When they began to play songs from their new release “Human Nature”, all everyone could do is sing along. That was quite amazing being that it was a couple of days away from the 4 year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death. What a beautiful tribute to an unforgettable legend.