Carl Gustave is a born of St.Lucian heritage singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer whom was raised mostly in Los Angeles. His musical style is a melting pot of blues, jazz, reggae, rock and soul. When watching Gustave perform, audiences from around the world have been witness to an artist delivering his set with conviction and raw emotion.
Gustave’s musical journey began in Los Angeles, California where he performed his original music in clubs on the Hollywood strip and other venues around town on finishing high school. After his band split he began performing with other artists from the area both live and in the studio.
Before moving to St Lucia he received a Peabody Award for, "I Won't Do You No Wrong" that he wrote, sang, and played guitar on. The song was first aired on the ABC After School Special in 1998.
This talented musician has also performed or recorded with members of the Chick Corea Band, the Tuesday Night Music Club, Don Henley’s band (of Eagles fame), David Kitay, David and David, Kool and The Gang, Maze, and seasoned Blues veterans such as John Huston, Louisiana 'Guitar' Red, Coco Montoya, Guitar Jack, Bobby Picket, Leon Ruebenhold, Luther Francois, and others.
Carl Gustave has been part of the St Lucia Jazz Festival for the last five years. He has performed on his own and with others at Pigeon Island ‘s Main Stage and Side Lawn, at three major Jazz launches, Jazz on the Square and Jazz in the South, as well as many of the heavily sponsored “fringe events”.
In 2002, he performed two sets of original material with his five-piece band. One as the opening act for En Vogue on the Pigeon Island Side Lawn, this Singer /Songwriter won new followers and entranced hardened fans. One reviewer wrote of that performance: "There's no doubting Gustave's talent. His smooth vocals and impressive skill at the electric guitar were equal to many of the international stars performing at this year's Jazz Festival and he deserved his place in the spotlight." This performance was filmed by BET for their series, "Jazz in the Sun".
His second performance at the 2002 festival was as a warm-up act for the legendary Phil Upchurch—another well-received soiree onto the international stage.
Most recently he performed at the 2005 St. Vincent Blues Festival along side such acts as Arturo Tapin, Millie Jackson, and Steel Pulse. One reviewer of his show wrote,”His set was exciting and powerful with strong vocals and searing guitar licks from Gustave whom, along with his bass player and drummer delivered a tight performance that the audience lapped up.”
Perhaps Gustave’s most memorable musical collaboration came in 1998, while performing at what was then Snooty Agouti, when Chick Corea's bass player and drummer heard what they described as "notes of emotion" spilling out on to the streets luring them upstairs. Soon after coming into the club they asked to sit in. That special moment is captured on Gustave’s first CD, "Too Hard". The spirit of the blues came to town as the small crowd watched while four musician-strangers laid it down on "Five Long Years"--the CD’s only cover song.
In addition to his live international performances Gustave has recorded two full length CDs, “Too Hard" and "Searchin' ". Filled with original material, his sets are always exciting and honest. Songs from his first two CDs have been included on various compilations CD’s of St Lucian music and have been used on NTN television to promote the island. His songs have been used as backing tracks for tourism related features and he also secured his own slot, "Carl Gustave: The Search Continues", featuring live and studio performances.
Gustave built a Protools project studio capable of recording live drums and ensembles using state of the art technology in St Lucia. This allowed him to record and produce his "Searchin’" CD locally and to embark on charity projects with other musicians. One such project was the St Lucia National Trust, “Piton Song” which he arranged, recorded, produced, played guitar and sang backing vocals on. A video of the song was used to support St Lucia’s bid to have the Pitons now be declared an UNESCO World Heritage site.
Carl Gustave’s music is available on the Internet at www.cdbaby.com as well as other download sites like www.mp3music.com and www.itunes.com.
This year a group of local musicians led by Alison Marquis and Monty Maxwell, together with three of their friends residing in the U.S., are performing as the group “Kalbas”. Alison and Monty have been working together for the past nine years and perform regularly in the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival. They are both composers and they arrange music for some of the best steel bands in the country.
Their repertoire consists of a blend of Caribbean music, Saint Lucian folk music and World Music. This year Alison and Monty are working with the traditional drummer Gibbs from the Piaye community and with a folk violinist. Also featured in the group are Mervyn Wilkinson, Berklee graduate Neil “Toots” Franklyn, Cecil Peter, Julian St. Rose, Martin Dorville, Dien Thomas, the Piaye Dancers and others.
On 1 May, the patrons at the beautiful Balenbouche Estate in Choiseul should expect a unique performance, combining West Indian rhythms, Saint Lucian folk music, African drumming and dance from the group “Kalbas, the Lucian Roots Project”. This will be the premiere appearance of the band.
The Saint Lucia School of Music Community Choir was started over five years ago as part of the music programme for students of the School. It was felt at the time that such a choir provided the practical aspect to the theoretical training and further knowledge of vocal techniques, which is required for those students who are interested in teaching music within the school system.
Today the Choir has expanded to include persons within the community of Castries and its environs who are interested in developing their vocal ability within a choir setting. The Choir’s repertoire is diverse with music ranging from gospel to calypso to jazz and blues. The Choir is under the directorship of Jennifer Gaston who took over from Jason “Bachelor” Joseph 2 years ago while he is presently on music study overseas.
The Community Choir will perform at St. Jude Jazz in Vieux Fort on the afternoon Wednesday 4 May, along with Claudia Edward and Paul Peress.
The Drum Steel Workshop is a group set to broaden the boundaries of pan-jazz music and expose audiences to unusual progressive melodies and harmonies. The group features some of Saint Lucia’s top pannists, backed up by a quartet of international instrumentalists. Heading the pan line-up is Allison Marquis, arranger and performer extraordinaire, along with Leo Hippolyte, another formidable but unsung pan hero, Ivan Smith, talented giant from panorama champions North Stars Steel and his gifted brother, Tony Robert Smith. Rising star Jamille “Bubble” MacDonald on tenor and number one pan bassist Francis “Stone” Pierre, also of North Stars fame, complete the pan section.
The back-up quartet comprises Emerson Nurse, one of the Caribbean’s top keyboardists, explosive Moses Auguste on bass guitar, versatile Italian percussionist Sebastiano Taeggi and drummer/bandleader Ricardo François, who also drums for the Caribbean Jazz Workshop Band and The West Indies Jazz Band.
The Drum Steel Workshop will perform for one night only at the Rudy John Beach Park in Laborie on Tuesday 3 May. Labowi Promotions, the co-organisers of Jazz in the South, are looking forward to what promises to be one of the most creative and innovative performances of the Festival, led by a formidable Caribbean musician, Ricardo Francois.
One of the highlights of this year’s edition of Saint Lucia Jazz will undoubtedly be the appearance of world renowned Jamaican pianist Monty Alexander on the Balenbouche stage on Sunday 1 May. By grafting the traditions of American jazz to his authentic Jamaican roots, pianist Monty Alexander has spent a lifetime exploring the rich depths of musical and cultural diversity. In a career that spans more than four decades, he has performed and/or recorded with artists from every corner of the musical universe, including Frank Sinatra, Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Quincy Jones, Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare and many more.
At Balenbouche, Alexander will feature guitarist Ernest Ranglin, with whom he recently revisited his roots with Rocksteady, a collaborative album released in April 2004. The album is a tribute to the ska movement that flourished in Jamaica 's Studio One (the island version of Motown) in the late 60s and early 70s and eventually spread throughout the world. Rocksteady revisits a time and place in which Alexander and Ranglin were two young guns, loaded with talent and in the midst of a sweeping musical movement. This is some of the music that Monty Alexander and Ernest Ranglin will perform at Balenbouche.
Separate and apart from being the best musician he can be, Alexander's most important objective – whether his vehicle is reggae or jazz or soul, small combo or symphony – is to express the joy of music to all within earshot, regardless of prevailing differences in taste or culture. “My goal is to uplift,” says Alexander. “The piano, to me, is a vehicle for connecting to other human beings. I'm very open to all forms of music. I'm not a bebop musician, I'm not a calypso musician, I'm not a reggae musician. I'm a musician who loves it all.”
Paul Peress is an experienced and talented drummer, bandleader and composer. His last CD was nominated for best Latin Jazz CD, and was also up for Best Song, Best New Artist, and Producer of the Year in the Latin Jazz Categories. His playing has continued to branch out into other forms of world music. “My new band and I have been together for a couple of years now, so we're very locked in, and have been extremely well received. A couple of festivals last summer stated that we were the best band they had ever had; one of those concerts followed the Dave Brubeck band!!” For Jazz 2005, Paul will perform as part of a quartet that includes some of the world’s best jazz musicians.
Brandon Fields will be on saxophones. He is one of the most recorded sax players in the world, having toured and recorded with George Benson, Queen Latifah, Dave Weckl, Tower of Power, Quincy Jones, Al Jarreau, Stephanie Mills, Elton John... He is on over 250 recordings, including seven solo CDs under his name. “I have been performing a lot out west”, says Paul, “and Brandon has been on all my gigs out there. He's featured on my latest CD.”
The quartet’s pianist will be Helio Alves. Helio is a Brazilian who has performed on three Grammy winning CDs, with Yo Yo Ma, Paquito D'Rivera, and Joe Henderson. “He's amazing”, says Paul Peress. “He comes from Sao Palo, Brazil, and his playing is heavily influenced by his exposure to the great music of his homeland. A true virtuoso, and an amazing performer - the audience will be totally captivated”.
On bass will be Gary Brown. Born into a family of musicians, his inevitable musical career began at an early age. By his eleventh birthday Gary was already performing in jazz bands with his two brothers and his father, jazz trumpeter Wilbert Brown. Gary went on to form his own bands and develop a talent and reputation as a skilled and versatile bassist. Currently dividing his time performing with Flora Purim & Airto 3 Thinking and Jose Neto Quartet, Gary continues to compose, perform and produce with various artists and is writing music for his first solo project.
The Paul Peress Quartet will perform at St. Jude Jazz on Wednesday 4 may and at the Heineken Jazz Fest later in the week.
Claudia is one of Saint Lucia’s fastest rising starlets, affectionately known as “The Diva”, who has had quite a remarkable career since she started performing professionally in the early 90s. A performer since the age of ten, she later made the rounds on the hotel circuit in Saint Lucia, performing with such popular bands as “Magic Circle” and “Tricepts”.
In 1997 she made her recording debut with the single “Reason To Love”, with Gale Frank, off the compilation “Ricky D & Friends”. In 1998 she was featured on a single by one of the most popular soca bands around, Square One of Barbados. The song “Electricity” became extremely popular in the English, Dutch and French Antilles. All of this was just a prelude to the release of her very first EP, which came out in 1999. The CD featured the songs “Sha La La” and a remake of Shania Twain’s “Still The One”. The tracks became very popular in Saint Lucia, making the young singer a household name in her homeland.
Since then, Claudia Edward has never looked back. She performed in Barbados and Martinique on several occasions and in New York during the annual Labour Day celebrations there. She has also done session work with a number of musicians.
In 2002 Claudia appeared for the first time at Saint Lucia’s premiere event, the annual Saint Lucia Jazz Festival alongside Vincent Small Lewis. She later accompanied him to Grenada for the Spice Jazz Festival there. In 2003 Claudia made her solo debut at the annual Saint Lucia Jazz Festival performing during teatime jazz at La Place Carenage. It was there that she gave her fans and the audience a preview of her latest CD, with the song “Don’t Wanna”. In August 2004, Claudia flew off to Costa Rica where she performed at four different venues at the VI Annual Black Cultural Festival.
What’s next for her? To take music to the world stage and with faith in God, herself and her talent, she knows she can make it happen.
Mystic, as the name suggests, has that certain mysterious quality with a mixture of musicians from such diverse areas in the music scene. Wendell Richards, the leader of the band who is also its youngest member, has grown up with influences such as Monty Alexander, Grover Washington, Barbara Cadet, Steel Pulse and Cross Fire, taking what he likes from all these great artists and fusing it into his own musical style. Mahurney Augier, a well-known pianist on the local scene, has been in the business for many years in Saint Lucia. Being the oldest member, he will bring all his experience into the band. Hugh Poleon is a very promising young drummer from Vieux-Fort who is actively involved in Gospel Music in his church, using his gospel roots and fusing them with the new age hip hop and funk beats gives him a unique sound. Jedi Joseph is another promising young guitar player from Vieux-Fort who currently works on the cruise ship circuit. Ron Louis and local calypso walk hand in hand. He produces many of the local calypsos from his studio in Laborie and is the backbone of the band with his bass in hand.
Then you see why Mystic is so mysterious!!!! This is what you get when you mix Calypso, Gospel, Jazz, R&B; and Funk!!! Mystic will be present at three of the Jazz in the South venues, in Soufriere on 2 May, in Laborie on 3 May and in Vieux Fort on 4 May.
If the Caribbean had a heart, Haiti would be the first of the countries in the basin contending for that title. The warmth of its people, the sun, the history, the landscape and the music all combine to make Haiti a legendary place.
“Strings” was born there. At first glance, it is quite likely that this simple word might not mean very much to those who are not aware of this phenomenal trio of guitarists, accompanied by three percussionists, two female vocalists and a Latin flutist. For those in the know, “Strings” is much more than a simple word – it is a milestone in the history of contemporary instrumental music.
Jacky Ambroise (the band leader), Philippe Augustin and former member Ralph Blanchard decided to join their destinies in Haiti one day in April 1996. From the start, their artistic restlessness took them down the very paths they are now travelling with the skill of those who are born to succeed. Their point of departure is the folk music from Haiti; however, the sensitive and melodious style of this trio of acoustic guitars crosses boundaries of the other musical rhythms inspired by flamenco and Latin America, with versatility and professionalism.
The nine members of “Strings” are no strangers to the more demanding classics from all eras and all styles, ranging from Beethoven to the Beatles. Their mastery of technique, harmony composition, arrangements and interpretation of musical scores has made them starting with their first appearance on stage almost nine years ago, one of the favorite performers in the most renowned concert halls in the world. Wherever good music is the main dish, there is a place reserved at the table for “Strings”.
In fact, the release from “Strings” on the Crossover Record label of their compact discs “Tropical Mood”, “Flamenco Tropical”, “Island Follies” and their most recent release ”Coconut Groove” includes their own composition as well as interpretation from other renowned composers, are destined to become international successes. “Tropical Mood” is a delicious walk on the score sheet, where in “Flamenco Tropical” even the pauses are richly melodious and the notes are performed with such mastery that it is difficult to choose a song without dismissing the others we enjoyed. All of this is due in part to the popular feeling that although contemporary music already existed before “Strings” was founded, from now on it would be hard to conceive of a musical world which does not include these magnificent performers.
“Strings” has in its core a group of talented musicians dedicated to the movement of acoustic sound. They are composed of three percussionists; Arus Joseph (conga player), Pierre Alcius (drummer), Serge Laguerre (percussionist); three guitars, replacing Ralph Blanchard, Camille Fortune (second guitar), Philippe Augustin (bass guitar), and band leader Jacque Ambroise (lead guitar); two singers Melissa Dauphine (lead female vocalist) and Anotte St-Ford (background vocalist); and the only “Latino” known as Chino Gerardo Pena ( Flutist).
For the third time in the history of Jazz in the South, Strings will be the headliner at Balenbouche 0n Sunday 1 May. By popular demand…….
Panergy is a unique musical experiment led by Saint Lucia pan player Aimran Simmons. Aimran started playing pan at the age of 14 with the Diamond Steel Orchestra which was the name of the band back then. After a year with the band, he decided to further his musical ability by taking up music theory classes at the Saint Lucia School of Music. After four years there and with the ability to read and comprehend music, he began preparing himself as a solo pannist. Since then, he has performed alongside local artists such as Allison Marquis, Luther Francois and Boo Hinckson to name a few. In the year 2000, calypsonian Hammer released a tune called “Panman Aimran” in tribute to Simmons, and to this day most people address him by that name. He is also featured on a song for Grenada by the Windies Band, of which he is proud to be a member. In 2004, Aimran had the formidable experience of performing with Black Stalin of Trinidad and Tobago on one of his compositions called Play One.
As a member of Diamond Steel Orchestra, Simmons has toured the Caribbean, the US and Germany, always representing Saint Lucia in a highly professional manner. He is currently the musical director for the band, a position he has held for the last three years. With this band called “Panergy”, Aimran Simmons intends to take Steel Pan music to a higher level, both locally and internationally. “Music is life, music is me”, says Aimran. Panergy has been invited by Labowi Promotions to perform at Balenbouche on 1 May 2005.
Disturbing Joan started as a bunch of surfers in Saint Lucia with a couple of beat up guitars. Joan lived next door to the initial band room and the name seemed an obvious choice. From inception there was creativity, and a small but loyal underground fan base emerged who kept coming back for the band’s clever fusion of rock and reggae.
The band cut their teeth in Rodney Bay’s fledgling bar scene of the late nineties, finally getting a chance in 2001 to open for Malcolm Jamal Warner’s band during Jazz on the Square. Their debut album, Bush Tea, was released in Saint Lucia in August 2002, and earned an M&C; Fine Arts music award the following year.
They jumped at the chance to open for Barrington Levy and Third World in early 2003, and appeared at a new venue during Saint Lucia Jazz – Jazz on the Beach. Later that year, they completed a hugely successful tour of Martinique, earning them return bookings for New Year’s Eve.
A concert in Anse la Raye in February 2004 sparked the interest of former Creed producer, Ron St. Germain who kindly offered to pitch the CD to Volcom. In March they released their first video, Affluence, from the Bush Tea album and performed at two venues during Saint Lucia Jazz. 2004 closed with tours to Martinique and Trinidad, where they opened for that country’s biggest rock act, Orange Sky.
2005 finds them recording their second album. A single entitled Inner Creature off the new album will be released along with a video, leading up to their appearance at Jazz in the South on Wednesday 4 May. Whether the audience is 4 or 4,000, Disturbing Joan is always ready to launch into their brand of entertainment that leaves audiences thoroughly entertained.
Popular Florida-based bandleader Eddy Balzola and his Afro-Latin Jazz fusion band ORIENTE pay tribute to the Cuban masters as well as many great American and world music innovators from Beny Moré, Tom Jobim and Taj Mahal to Robert Johnson, Pat Metheny and Jaco Pastorius. The group has a large body of original music known for its soulful melodies and rhythmic drive as well as a great selection of traditional and popular music arranged in ORIENTE’s signature style.
The band’s repertoire is deeply influenced by Cuban roots music, jazz, New Orleans funk, Delta blues, Brazilian and Caribbean flavors. ORIENTE’s versatility puts them in a position to perform at many different kinds of venues and events, from concerts and festivals to casinos, cultural events and private functions. ORIENTE’s latest CD release, Searching For A Blue Unseen, clearly demonstrates Balzola’s versatile and sensitive musical nature and features fine performances throughout by superb band members and top notch guest players.
Oriente is scheduled to perform at the Heineken Jazz Fest on Rodney Bay and at Jazz in the South, where it will share the stage with Mystic and Disturbing Joan on the evening of Wednesday 4 May. Over the past few years, this Vieux Fort event has pulled some of the Festival’s largest and most appreciative audiences, and it is expected that this year will be no exception.
Park Lane started off as a music project. World renowned drummer and teacher Tony Mason was approached by Johnny Lawes to put a dream team of musicians together to write and produce a music album. This is how Park Lane was born. It brings together top world class UK session musicians who write music as a unit. Their ambition is to capture a sound or blend of R & B with jazz overtones with pure and simple melodies. Their music is purely inspirational to the heart; it touches every area of this world with pure and simple music, with great hooks and melodies.
Park Lane is scheduled to perform twice during the Festival, first in Soufriere on the evening of Monday 2 May as part of Jazz in the South, and then at Bocage on Wednesday 4 May. Their performances will offer a fusion of R & B, Jazz with Caribbean rhythms and other influences. Park Lane comprises of six band members who are extensively experienced in performance and entertainment throughout the world, spanning from North and South America to Canada, Europe Africa, Asia and the Far East, Australia and New Zealand.
After zouk exploded on the Caribbean music scene in the late 1970s, hundreds of bands developed, including Taxikréol, which became one of the most innovative in the French Caribbean. Taxikréol see themselves as musical “taxi”, crossing the Caribbean, picking up various cultural genres along the way, combining them into their own “kréol” sauce.
Their music is a blend of various Caribbean sound including soca, salsa and reggae, American funk, rock, jazz and R&B; along with African folk music that came from, as they describe it, “the hills deep in Martinique.” These hills were once the home to the maroons (escaped slaves), who helped develop and nurture Afro-Martinican folk styles such as bélè and danmyé.
Eight rather skillful and generous musicians constitute the group Taxikréol. The band was created in 1990 and it is now an inescapable reference on the French Caribbean musical landscape … To resist to the passage time is, as every one knows, one of the most hard challenges for a musical group. Taxikréol has shown how to do it, thanks to a rare artistic sincerity… Furthermore, the happiness to play together is intact: Taxikréol knows how "switch you on" with its first notes of music!
The cultural message of the group is clear: it attempts, through its lyrics, to protect and to promote the mould of Créolité, of the Creole identity. Taxikréol tells, often under anecdotal shape, the enjoyment of existence, the cheeky humour, the sufferings, the hopes and the "faults" of these colourful peoples who have in common the memory of painful but determining time for its history : SLAVERY…
Taxikréol will be at Jazz in the South for a unique concert on Tuesday 2 May at the Rudy John Beach Park in Laborie.
Prolifik is a newly formed band of talented and experienced Saint Lucian performers. This six-member group includes musicians who have extensive backgrounds, having played on cruise ships and having been involved in calypso and other musical forms over the years. One member of the band also participated in charity performances on behalf of UNICEF. The band is deeply rooted in reggae music and it also delves into jazz, cadence, R&B;, Hip Hop and other styles of music.
Prolifik was formed in 2004, and it participated that year in the opening of Jazz, backing local reggae singer Daddy Twan. The band has been referred to as one of the hardest reggae bands in the region. In addition to the core members of the band, Prolifik intends to bring on stage a spectacular line-up for their performance in Soufriere on 2 May. “This show is really something to look forward to”, promises band leader and manager Theo Joseph.
One of Jamaica's most crucial DJs, Beenie Man's recording career stretches back to 1981, although it was in the sound systems where he later made his mark. The witty toaster began his true ascent to stardom in the early '90s and by 1994, his reputation couldn't be beat. Then again, when you're a recording veteran at age ten, one wonders just what took him so long.
By 1983, the youngster found himself appearing on Henry "Junjo" Lawes' , which was recorded live and featured such DJ heavyweights as Dillinger and Fathead. Along with Unlimited, Beenie was also DJing at Prince Jammy's and Volcano sound systems, had a hit single to his credit, "Over the Sea," produced by Niney Holness, and even had a debut album out. Produced by Lee Clayton, 's title pretty much sums it all up. He recorded some material with Barrington Levy in 1984, two of which, "Under Mi Sensi" and "Two Sounds," would resurface in remixed form later in the '90s. But for the moment, his recording career came virtually to a close, bar the occasional single. But the young DJ remained sound system favorite.
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Kenny Lattimore became a music aficionado at an early age, and performed publicly throughout high school. He then attended Howard University (where one of his musical idols, Donny Hathaway, had spent three years), where he studied architecture, not music. Nonetheless, the music bug kept him, and following his graduation he joined the group Maniquin, which recorded one unsuccessful album in the late 80s. He left the group in 1990 and became a popular writer for other soul artists, including lenn Jones and Jon Lucien.
Wanting to become a solo recording artist, Lattimore signed with Sony and, in 1996, released Kenny Lattimore, with an A-List of producers and musicians. He followed it up with the wedding ballad, "For You," a nice tune that he brought to life with his expressive vocals. The rest of his album was promising, but not as strong as the radio cuts. He was nominated for a Grammy that year for Best Male R&B; Artist, but lost to Tony Rich.
In 2001, Lattimore married songstress Chanté Moore, and they almost immediately began working on an album of duets. The result, Things That Lovers Do, became Lattimore's biggest hit album (Top 5 Soul and Top 40 Pop, and led to a popular national tour and play.
Chanté Moore was born February 17, 1967, in California. The daughter of a minister, she was influenced early on by her father's piano playing and the gospel music that could be heard throughout the house. It wasn't until the age of 16, however, that Chanté (whose name appropriately means "sing" in French) felt the pull to pursue a musical career after appearing in a high-school production of The Wiz.
Her first album, Precious, was released in 1992 and was a huge success. Songs like "Love's Taken Over" helped her gain fame in the United States and Europe, rare for an artist of her genre.
Moore then became a whirlwind of creativity, releasing two albums in two years: This Moment Is Mine in 1999 and Exposed, the following year. It was with her latest release that Moore received the greatest amount of press.
Trumpeter Chris Botti is a gifted instrumentalist, a talented composer, and a charismatic performer who--since the release of his first solo album in 1995--has created a series of recordings that have made him a virtual genre-of-one in the realm of contemporary jazz. Through a singular combination of lush atmospheres and thoughtful improvisations, he has earned both critical acclaim and mainstream appreciation.
On his latest collection, When I Fall In Love, the best-selling trumpet virtuoso expands the range of his earlier work with an album devoted to once and future classic love songs, each one performed with Botti's impeccable taste and signature tonal qualities.
Chris Botti is a native of Oregon who was born in Portland and grew up in Corvallis. His earliest musical influence was his mother, a classically trained pianist and part-time piano teacher. "I can't really sit down and play a song on the piano," Chris admits. "But I know harmony, and generally I compose on the piano rather than on the trumpet." The music that really inspired me as a teenager was more like Miles Davis playing ballads with the second Quintet. You know that spacey thing, when they broke down all the chords in the song? That band playing 'Stella By Starlight' is something very different from, say, Bud Powell playing the same tune.
Earl Klugh (cluu) was putting the "smooth" into jazz long before there was an official radio format, debuting the lighthearted, easy funk style that became his trademark on a self-titled album in 1976. Over the course of nearly 30 albums, Earl Klugh has not only stuck to his guns in the face of shifting musical trends, but has also become in the modern smooth jazz genre one of the most imitated acoustic guitar icons.
After making a single song appearance on the popular Melrose Place soundtrack, the Detroit native after a twelve album stint on Warner Bros. Records joined Windham Hill's roster of accomplished jazz greats.
Earl Klugh has long attributed his ongoing popularity to the equal attention he pays to composing memorable melodies, as well as his development as a guitarist.
The chief influences of Klugh's musical life – Burt Bacharach, the Beatles, Sergio Mendes – are never far from his melodic thoughts. "I am always reflecting positively on those early influences," he says.
First formed in the early '50s, the Isley Brothers enjoyed one of the longest, most influential, and most diverse careers in the pantheon of popular music -- over the course of nearly a half century of performing, the group's distinguished history spanned not only two generations of Isley siblings but also massive cultural shifts which heralded their music's transformation from gritty R&B; to Motown soul to blistering funk.
The first generation of Isley siblings was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH, where they were encouraged to begin a singing career by their father, himself a professional vocalist, and their mother, a church pianist who provided musical accompaniment at their early performances. Initially a gospel quartet, the group was comprised of Ronald, Rudolph, O'Kelly, and Vernon Isley; after Vernon's 1955 death in a bicycling accident, tenor Ronald was tapped as the remaining trio's lead vocalist. In 1957, the brothers went to New York City to record a string of failed doo wop singles; while performing a spirited reading of the song "Lonely Teardrops" in Washington, D.C., two years later, they interjected the line "You know you make me want to shout," which inspired frenzied audience feedback.
During a 1964 tour, they recruited a young guitarist named Jimmy James to play in their backing band; James -- who later shot to fame under his given name, Jimi Hendrix -- made his first recordings with the Isleys, including the single "Testify," issued on the brothers' own T-Neck label. They signed to the Motown subsidiary Tamla in 1965, where they joined forces with the famed Holland-Dozier-Holland writing and production team. Their first single, the shimmering "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)," was their finest moment yet, and barely missed the pop Top Ten. "This Old Heart of Mine" was their only hit on Motown, however, and when the song hit number three in Britain in 1967, the Isleys relocated to England in order to sustain their flagging career; after years of writing their own material, they felt straitjacketed by the Motown assembly-line production formula, and by the time they returned stateside in 1969, they had exited Tamla to resuscitate the T-Bone label.
Kevin Mahogany grew up with the sound of Memphis and Mowtown as well as the ever-evolving rock 'n' roll in the turbulent '60s. He attended the Charlie Parker Foundation in his hometown of Kansas City, and was teaching clarinet by the time he was 14. He also studied piano and became an accomplished baritone saxophonist, performing with three jazz bands while still in high school. His interest in singing did not materialize until he attended Baker University in Kansas where the industrious Mahogany founded a jazz choir. He entered the school in 1976 and graduated with a BFA in Music and English Drama in 1981. After College, Kevin established two groups, ensembles focusing on contemporary R&B;, crossover jazz and classic '60s soul music. At the same time Kevin was very attracted to singers such as Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, and Eddie Jefferson.
Kevin recorded three well-recieved albums with the German independent Enja before landing at Warner Bros. Records in 1995.
Since then, Kevin has been in high demand. He appears on the upcoming Malpaso release Eastwood After Hours, a Clint Eastwood ensemble project performed and recorded live at Carnegie Hall earlier this year. Additionally Kevin headlined this year's IAJE Benefit, also at Carnegie Hall.
If Kevin Mahogany had set out to prove he is the quintessential jazz vocalist, he could not have made a more convincing album. But Kevin leaves those concerns to the critics. He simply sings with great feeling and subtlety, transporting the listener to regions of the heart and soul - to "Another Time, Another Place" his second release on Warner Bros. Records - which is the real sign of a great jazz artist.
New Edition's early, Jackson 5-inspired material made them the forerunners of two generations of teen pop (most of which was geared to white audiences). As they matured and progressed, they laid much of the groundwork for the fusion of hip-hop and R&B; known as new jack swing. In fact, after New Edition drifted apart, all of its members had at least some significant success outside the group as part of the new jack movement, which helped ensure that their original incarnation would be remembered for much more than the bubblegum urban soul that made their name.
New Edition was formed in the Roxbury section of Boston, MA, by Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, and Bobby Brown, who began singing together in 1978 while still in elementary school, hoping to perform for pocket cash. They eventually recruited friend Ralph Tresvant as a fourth member, and after winning a talent show in 1980. They were discovered by writer/producer/impresario Maurice Starr, who signed the group to his small Streetwise label in hopes of launching a Jackson 5 phenomenon for the '80s.
By the mid-'90s, new jack swing was giving way to new fusions of hip-hop and soul that were alternately more organic or aggressive. Although their status as innovators was secure, many of the New Edition splinter acts had a hard time keeping up and maintaining their career momentum. Thus, given their individually positive reputations, it made sense for the group to announce its triumphant reunion, with all six members participating in what was essentially an R&B; supergroup. The public loved the idea; when the comeback album Home Again was finally released in 1996, it debuted at number one, and the first single, "Hit Me Off," was a smash, hitting number one on the R&B; charts. The follow-up, "I'm Still in Love With You," was another big hit, and the group embarked on a blockbuster tour.
Born Farrell Sanders, 13th October, 1940, Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.A. Pharoah Sanders possesses one of the most distinctive tenor saxophone sounds in jazz. He is highly-regarded to the point of reverence by a great many soul and jazz fans. 'Pharoah' (an interpretation of his given name, Ferrell) Pharaoh was born to a musical family. Both his mother and father taught music, his mother privately and his father in the public schools. His first instrument was the clarinet, but he switched to tenor sax as a high school student, under the influence of his band director, Jimmy Cannon. Cannon also exposed Sanders to jazz for the first time.
In 1961, Sanders moved to New York, where he struggled. Unable to make a living with his music, Sanders took to pawning his horn, working non-musical jobs, and sometimes sleeping on the subway. During this period he played with a number of free jazz luminaries, including Sun Ra, Don Cherry, and Billy Higgins. Sanders formed his first group in 1963, with the pianist John Hicks (with whom he would continue to play off-and-on into the '90's), bassist Wilbur Ware, and drummer Higgins. The group played an engagement at New York's Village Gate. A member of the audience was John Coltrane, who apparently liked what he heard. In late-'64, Coltrane asked Sanders to sit in with his band.
Robert Zi' Taylor is no newcomer to the world of music. Although it was only a brief hobby for his mother and father, playing the piano and guitar, it was enough to plant the musical seed within their second son.
Growing up for the first 11 years of his life in rural Lancashire, England, on a sheep farm, Zi' began piano lessons at the age of 8, but from as early as he can remember always had an infatuation with the sax.
It wasn't until he was 12 and living in St. Lucia, due to his father's professional career, did he begin saxophone lessons at the St. Lucia School of Music, under the tutelage of Barbara Cadet.
In 1992, Zi' joined local reggae band Amate and enjoyed over 3 years of performing regularly at hotels and concerts, opening for Jamaican artists such as Maxi Priest, Buju Banton, Beenie Man, Beres Hammond and Steel Pulse, just to name a few. He also performed on Amate's second album and featured in their music videos.
Always striving for higher heights with his musical career, Zi' embarked on another venture in 1996. A recording studio and dancehall reggae group named Kronic Heights.
Soca sensation Rupee (born Rupert Clarke) got his start with the Barbadian reggae group Coalishun, which he joined in 1997 after strong showings at area talent contests. Though he began as a chanter in the dancehall style, Rupee soon discovered calypso song, and in 1998 wrote the international soca hit "Ice Cream." The song launched his solo career, and he issued three successful solo albums in the early 2000s. Blame It on de Music, Leave a Message, and thisisrupee.com all featured a modernized mix of soca, hip-hop, and R&B; flavors, and did well not only in the islands, but at festivals and in clubs around the world, where songs like "Jump" and "Tempted to Touch" were big favorites. That exposure prompted Atlantic Records to sign Rupee in late 2003, after the success of fellow Atlantic artist Kevin Lyttle had proven the eminent marketability of the addictive soca sound. Rupee made his Atlantic debut in late November 2004 with the album 1 on 1, which included the international hit "Tempted to Touch." ~ Johnny Loftus, All Music Guide.
UB40's fortunes changed at the beginning of 1980. Having spent the previous years working live, and rapidly developing an instant "buzz" among the movers & shakers, they were asked to join The Pretenders' triumphant national tour. The Pretenders were then at the top of the charts, and very hot indeed. They could have hardly have chosen a hotter support act.
The first single with Graduate, their initial label, was a double-A coupling of "Food For Thought" a bitter meditation on third-world poverty, and "King", a lament for Dr. Martin Luther King. "King" had seemed to be the favourite with live audiences, but it was "Food For Thought", that got the airplay and became the first hit.
The single was released during the tour, without the benefit of major-label marketing or promotion, and headed straight for the top five. Such was the band's impact on their first major live audiences. The first album was released on September of that year. The sleeve was a reproduction of the familiar buff-coloured dole card (more familiar, at that time, than it had ever been), with the title "Signing Off" apparently rubber-stamped in red. It referred to "signing off" the dole, i.e. getting a job. It was both an acknowledgement of the band's inception, and a celebration of their new status.
UB40 have maintained their instantly recognizable and highly distinctive style through nine more albums, as well as two hits compilations.
For twenty years, UB40 have continued the job of popularising reggae around the globe. In the process, they continue to give enormous pleasure to a public too vast to be defined by age, generation tribe or fashion.