Smooth jazz is undergoing a resurgence. A multitude of smooth jazz concerts, cruises, and festivals were on the increase last year. I just got word Los Angeles has added a full time smooth jazz radio station joining San Diego and Sacramento back in the fold. Last fall saw more new releases from this format than have occurred for many years. Normally this time of year is slow but it looks like the trend of increased releases will continue this year. Smooth jazz is even increasing in Redding. This program will now be played a second time Wednesday afternoon from 2:00 to 4:00 PM. in addition to Saturday from 9:00 to 11:00 PM.
I am really looking forward to a new release On February 22nd from one of the true greats, internationally acclaimed pianist Keiko Matsui. This will be her 28th album. She has written and recorded over 270 songs. A consummate artist, Keiko views each show and recording as a unique opportunity to connect with her audiences. Anyone who has ever experienced one of her live shows, and I have, feels an intimate invitation to become a part of her music. She says and I quote “We need to collectively go back and recall what connects us all - our spirits, hearts, and souls.” Important words to remember in these days of conflict.
Getting back to her new yet to be released album, it is titled Echo and I have obtained a song from it. It is titled Spirit Dance and features Gretchen Parlato, a lady that uses her voice as percussion. Keiko had met her on a cruise and felt that the chorus section of this song was made for her and would add a fantastic element to it. This will be our first listen from Echo.
I have an early release from an album that will also be out February 22nd. It is from Grammy Award winning guitarist, singer, and producer Norman Brown featured twice on our program, first on program 5 as part of the group BWB and then for his solo career on program 48. Both programs are available in our archives. His new album will be titled The Highest Act Of Love. The early release features great guitar work by Brown and a vocal by Multi Grammy award winner R & B singer Deniece Williams who joins Brown with a remake of her 1970’s hit and signature song Free originally from her hit album This is Niecy.
I have more new releases from late last year from Michael Buble', Jeff Goldblum, Acoustic Alchemy, Kayla Waters, Herb Alpert, Skinny Hightower, and Adam Hawley.
In the middle of the first hour I have Billboard's top three songs in smooth jazz.
The second hour is devoted to the classic old in smooth jazz. I start as always with jazz singer and jazz pianist Diana Krall.
I am now trying to close with some of what I would call the real classics among classics in smooth jazz.. This week I play a couple of songs from Bob James 1990 Grand Piano Canyon album. This brought together the keys of Bob James, the guitar of Lee Ritenour, the bass of Nathan East, and the drums of Harvey Mason. They so enjoyed working together and respected each others musical talent that the following year in 1991 they formed the group Fourplay. This became one of the longest lasting, most successful groups in smooth jazz history.