Monrovia Liberia born guitarist Martin Mathelier was raised mostly in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. First learning the guitar from his well-known Haitian guitar virtuoso brother Marc Mathelier, the younger brother focused, as he got older, on Brazilian Bossa Nova. In 1981, in New York, Martin, along with two others, founded the group Vibes, a long lasting band featuring Haitian Kompa music.
Saxophonist, flutist, keyboardist, composer and arranger Eric Person, who was born in St. Louis and trained at the St. Louis Conservatory of Music, continues his tradition to release good music that is questing, yet firmly planted in jazz's tradition with his latest CD, The Grand Illusion.
There are a number of excellent saxophonists who have worked in the area of gospel jazz, including Kirk Whalum, Angella Christie and Tom Braxton. Todd Ledbetter is another one of these musical pioneers. A student of Dr. Nathan Davis at the University of Pittsburgh, Ledbetter eventually worked with artists like saxophonists Grover Washington Jr., James Moody, Eddie Harris and trumpeter Jon Faddis. Later work in the bands of Joe Harris, Roger Humphries and Bishop Walter Hawkins led to Ledbetter becoming a leader in his own right.
Great musicians, truly great musicians, can play any style of music. That is true in any of the great recording cities in the United States. The wealth of fantastic musicians in New York, Los Angeles and Nashville almost boggles the mind. This CD is a compilation of different jazz artists currently working in Nashville. All the cuts, as is typically true with compilations, are great. When artists have the ability to put their best foot forward you're going to get their best. There are 11 different cuts on the disc led by 10 different artists.
One of the constants in the music world is that saxophonist, composer and Philadelphia native Andy Snitzer will always be working. Even though he gave up his gig with the Rolling Stones to Tim Ries, Snitzer is not hurting for work. Since being discovered by Bob James when Snitzer was a student at the University of Miami, he eventually went on to earn a Master of Business Administration degree from New York University. Snitzer has worked steadily as a session musician and touring artist when not working for Wall Street investment firms. Whether touring with Paul Simon, playing his own gigs or sitting in with the David Letterman band, Snitzer is offered far more gigs than he can ever adequately accept.
Chicago guitarist, composer and producer Vince Agwada has worked the Chicago music scene for over 25 years. This heavily blues and rock oriented musician has worked with artists like Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Magic Slim, Otis Rush, Syl Johnson and Sammy Lawhorn, to list but a few. Of his many awards the most standout one was when, in 1996, Agwada was listed as one of the top 40 Blues artists under 40 by Living Blues Magazine. Basic Blue is his second release as a leader.
One of the more delightful bands to come out of Sweden in the most recent past is The Soup. This quartet of keyboards, guitar, bass and drums has a rockabilly type of backbeat that is incredibly infectious. With drummer Tom Steffensen's two-beat dance hall backbeats and Johan Bendrik's B3 organ playing, this quartet gets down to the nit-and gritty from the first notes of the first track to the last beat of the final 11th cut.
Alto saxophonist and composer Libby Richman's abilities are easily seen in her winning two Meet The Composer grants and one New England Foundation On The Arts grant. Originally from Indiana, she earned her degree from the University of Massachusetts and now lives and works in the New York area. Among the artists she has worked with include The Duprees, The Earls, Leslie Gore, The Guy Lombardo Orchestra, Martha Reeves and The Shirelles. Open Strings is Richman's third release as a leader.
Bassist, guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist and composer Joseph Toliver is perhaps best known as being smooth jazz saxophonist Tom Braxton's bass player for the past five years. Dancing In The Window is Toliver's first release as a leader.
Smooth jazz groups are, unfortunately, becoming a dime a dozen. Smooth jazz sounds, to most unsophisticated ears, as being remarkably easy to play. With no need to have to master tricky rhythms or complex harmonies, as in straight-ahead jazz, many musicians have turned to smooth jazz in hopes of cashing in on this lucrative music market. The truth is, however, that to play smooth jazz well, one has to truly feel the music. There have been a ton of musicians, including greats like Kenny Garrett, who tried their hand at smooth jazz, only to fail. The reason being they do not have a genuine love for the style.