music reviews

  • Mariea Antoinette Straight from the Harp Review

    In an industry prevalent with saxophonists, guitarists, and keyboardists, it’s not often that you come across instrumentalists of a different sort, but Mariea Antoinette is one such musician paving her own way as a jazz and soul harpist.

    On September 25, 2015, with the release of a special edition of her Billboard Top 5 charting album “Straight from the Harp” with MAH Productions, harpist Mariea Antoinette celebrated her recognition as a Phenomenal Women in Entreneurship with an award from the National Council of Negro Women. The new version of the album features two bonus tracks and updated artwork.

    “Straight from the Heart” was produced by Allan Phillips and includes a combination of both original music and R&B classics such as “Rock Wit’cha”, “Give Me Your Love”, “Boogie Nights”, “Waiting in Vain”, “Human” and “I’m Gonna Love You”.

    Several of the tracks feature a live horn section and string section, and violinist Karen Briggs even performs as a guest on “Walk the Walk.” I had the pleasure of seeing Ms. Mariea Antoinette perform several of the tracks from her project at an event in Los Angeles last year and the energy of her live performances are certainly reflected in the recordings on “Straight from the Harp.”

    One of my favorite tracks on the album is “Special Treasures,” a tune that is somewhat nostalgic for me with trumpet parts that make me think of a lot of the music I heard in films growing up. Her rendition of “Boogie Nights” is another fun track as is “Single Dance”.

    Mariea Antoinette transcends the ways in which many may have perceived the harp – showing that it’s more than a classical instrument and that artists can pursue the performance of the music that they love and not just the styles that their instrument may have been traditionally used for. It’s certainly an inspiring message to send to the next generation of musicians.

    Based in San Diego, California, Mariea Antoinette made her debut with “Sexy Paradise” in 2003. Since, she has performed around the world for events including a performance for Barak and Michelle Obama, backing Ne-Yo at the BET Awards, and playing for a Vanity Fair Grammy soiree. She currently performs as a part of Jazz in Pink.

    Get Straight to the Harp on Amazon

    Title: Straight to the Harp
    Artist: Mariea Antoinette
    Year: September 25, 2015
    Genre: Jazz, R&B
    Label: MAH Productions

    01 Fly Away
    02 Rock Wit’cha
    03 Special Treasures
    04 Give Me Your Love
    05 Single Dance
    06 Spend Some Time
    07 Boogie Nights
    08 Journey
    09 I’m Gonna Love You (Just a Little More Baby)
    10 Waiting in Vain
    11 Human
    12 Straight from the Harp
    13 Walk the Walk

    Get Straight to the Harp on Amazon

    November 12, 2015 • Reviews • Views: 3088

  • Groove LTD Releases Debut Album “First Class”

    Teen Jazz Host Shannon Kennedy and guitarist U-Nam are proud to announce the release of their debut album as Groove Ltd. The new project, “First Class” features guests including Myron, Maysa, Jonathan Fritzen, Paulhino da Costa, Michael White, and many more.

    The first day of its digital release saw the album attain a #1 place for Smooth Jazz and #6 for overall Jazz on Amazon.

    You can purchase the album here.

    September 14, 2015 • Reviews, Teen Jazz • Views: 2635

  • A review of Al Di Meola’s Elysium

    With more than four decades in music, three gold albums, and more than six million record sales worldwide, Al Di Meola is ready for his next success with Elysium.

    The album consists of 14 original tracks with Di Meola accompanied by guests such a Philippe Saisse and Mario Parmisano on keyboards, Rhani Krija on percussion, and Peter Kaszas on drums.

    Al Di Meola can be heard blending the sounds of his Conde Hermanos acoustic prototype model with his ’71 Les Paul electric throughout the songs on Elysium, bringing two usually distinct guitar styles – a sometimes hard rock and sometimes classically romantic – together.

    Elysium opens with “Adour,” in which Di Meola accompanies an electric guitar melody with acoustic guitar. “Babylon” has a ostinato part over which Di Meola something action through a fusion-influenced melody, definitely our favorite on the project. “Purple and Gold” is somewhat cinematic in nature, but something nonetheless fitting with the other tunes on the project.

    The title track, “Elysium” has a lighter feel to it and a melody that transports you from where ever you might be listening to an intimate sonic landscape. “Amanjena” begins with a slow and something introduction before delving into a full-something with Di Meola improvising over the track on electric. The album closes with the mysterious and vibraphone driven “La Lluvia”.

    The project is definitely one that will be undoubtedly poured over by guitarists and fans of Di Meola.

    Al Di Meola has worked with Return to Forever, Rite of Strings, his Guitar Trio along with John McLaughlin and Paco Lucia, and more. He has more than 20 albums as a leader and is world renowned for his blending of world and Latin musics with jazz. He attended Berklee College of Music and soon joined Chick Corea’s fusion group Return to Forever at the age of 19. He will be honored with the 22nd Miles Davis Award at the Montreal Jazz Festival this summer (2015).

    Get Elysium on Amazon.

    Title: Elysium
    Artist: Al Di Meola
    Date: June 09, 2015
    Genre: Jazz, Jazz Fusion
    Label: inakustik Label Group


    01 Adour
    02 Cascade
    03 Babylon
    04 Purple and Gold
    05 Esmeralda
    06 Elysium
    07 Amanjena
    08 Sierra
    09 Etcetera in E Major (Intro)
    10 Etcetera in E Major
    11 Tangier
    12 Stephanie
    13 Monsters
    14 La Lluvia

    Get Elysium on Amazon.

    August 19, 2015 • Reviews • Views: 2447

  • A Review of Jamison Ross’s Debut Album Jamison

    On June 23, 2015, drummer Jamison Ross celebrated the release of his debut album, Jamison. The album, released on Concord Jazz, not only features the young artists talents as a drummer and composer, but as a vocalist as well.

    The album is the perfect blend of jazz, blues, and soul and Jamison’s voice has a subtle power to it that captivates the listener, making this debut a very enjoyable listen.

    Jamison is a combination of original music with covers such as Muddy Waters’ “Deep Down in Florida”, refreshed as a new orleans-style tune driven by grungy guitar over a blues form. “Sack Full of Dreams” from Louis Savary and Eddie Harris’ and Les McCann’s “Set Us Free”, and Carmen Lundy’s “These Things You Are to Me” round up the covers on the project, making the album a pleasant blend of classics and new material.

    Jamison Ross is accompanied by his college mates on the project including guitarist Rick Lollar, bassist Corcoran Holt, saxophonist Dayve Stewart, pianist Chris Pattishall, organist Cory Irvin, and trumpet player Alphonso Horne III. Jonathan Batiste also performs piano on four of the tracks.


    Jamison Ross was the winner the 2012 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Award for drums in 2012.

    Get Jamison on Amazon.

    Title: Jamison
    Artist: Jamison Ross
    Date: June 23, 2015
    Genre: Jazz,
    Label: Concord Jazz


    01 Deep Down in Florida
    02 Martha’s Prize – Instrumental
    03 Emotions
    04 Sack Full of Dreams
    05 Set Us Free – Instrumental
    06 Sweet Surrender (The Hook) – Interlude
    07 My One and Only Love
    08 These Things You Are to Me
    09 Jazz (Aubrielle Ross) – Interlude
    10 Epiphany
    11 Bye Bye Blues – Part I
    12 Bye Bye Blues – Part II

    Get Jamison on Amazon.

    August 12, 2015 • Reviews • Views: 1941

  • Steven Davis What Happened to Romance Review

    On June 23, 2015, vocalist Steven Davis will release his first big band album, “What Happened to Romance” on his label, First Second Records.

    The fourteen-track album includes a collection of original music and covers of Johnny Mercer’s “Day In, Day Out” and Irving Berlin’s “All By Myself.”

    Davis, a Nashville native, traveled to New York City to create “What Happened to Romance”, penning several of the tunes alongside The 88s’ Josh Charles and Alissa Moreno. The album was recorded with The After Midnight Orchestra which features members of the Count Basie and Duke Ellington bands. The arrangements, assembled and directed by Andy Farber, bring a classic elegance to the project.

    On “Young Love,” the closing track on the album, Steven Davis really shines as a vocalist, bringing an energy to the song that has you snapping along. “Love Comes Right on Time” is a great lead-in for the project and gets you in the mood for some great American Songbook-esque listening.

    The track “Perfectly Perfect” was featured in a commercial for the German mobile banking application, Centrally Numbers. Steven Davis’ recent performances include the I Create Music ASCAP Expo and the Durango Songwriters Film/TV Expo.

    Get What Happened to Romance on Amazon.

    Title: What Happened to Romance
    Artist: Steven Davis
    Date: June 23, 2015
    Genre: Jazz, American Songbook
    Label: First Second Records


    01 Love Comes Right on Time
    02 You’re Gonna Fall in Love With Me
    03 What Happened to Romance
    04 This Time
    05 Perfectly Perfect
    06 I Found Love
    07 Let’s Keep It a Secret
    08 Day In, Day Out
    09 If You Were Mine
    10 Close Your Eyes
    11 If I Could Give You More
    12 All By Myself
    13 Sometime Soon
    14 Young Love

    Get What Happened to Romance on Amazon.

    July 15, 2015 • Reviews • Views: 1960

  • Groove LTD Gearing Up for the Release of their First Album

    This post is a brief interruption from our regular programming because U-Nam and I have exciting news! We’re thrilled to announce that our latest collaboration, Groove LTD, is ready for it’s album debut!

    But we need your help!

    We are currently running a crowd funding campaign for the project through Indiegogo and by pre-ordering the album, or by purchasing any of the awesome incentives we have, you’ll help us cover the costs of mastering, manufacturing and marketing.

    We are really proud of this project and cannot wait to share it with you.

    There is just over a month left of the campaign and you can help us reach our goal!

    Learn more and watch the video here.

    The project features an awesome, “first class” group of special guests including Maysa, Jonathan Fritzen, Michael White, Andy Narell, Paulinho daCosta, Myron Davis, Dwayne “Smitty” Smith and many more.

    You can hear a few of the songs from the project in the background of our video on the Indiegogo page and you can also check out the music video from our first single “It’s Only Love.”

    Thank you so much in advance for all of your support.

    And whether or not you choose to contribute to our project, we’d really appreciate you sharing it with your friends, coworkers, family, everyone! Please help us get the word out.

    Thanks again!

    Contribute to the project.

    July 1, 2015 • Teen Jazz • Views: 2006

  • Do You Have an Album Out?

    Today I thought I’d do something a little different and open Teen Jazz up to you.

    Do you have an album out?

    If not, what about a single or an EP?

    So if you have an album or project out, feel free to tell us about it in the comments and share a link to where we can listen or purchase your music! You can share a link to your website, Youtube, Soundcloud, iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp, etc.

    I look forward to hearing your music! Who knows, it may end up in our What We’re Listening to spotlight!

    June 3, 2015 • Teen Jazz • Views: 1878

  • A Review of Jessy J’s My One and Only One

    On May 26, saxophonist Jessy J is releasing her first solo album, My One and Only One. Following on the heels of the success of her previous albums, Tequila Moon, True Love, Hot Sauce, and Second Chances, her new project may just be her best album yet.

    My One and Only One features the talents of Paul Brown, Gregg Karukas, Roberto Vally, Sergio Gonzalez, Richie Gajate, Michael Ripoll, Zoux, Oskar Cartaya, Ruslan Sirota, Alex Al, Taku, Michael Angel, Frank Abraham, Iajhi Hampden, Bryant Siono, Norman Jackson, Jay Gore, Lee Thornberg, Dave Hooper, Ronnie Gutierrez, Janis Leibhart and Dave Darlington.

    With a collection of energetic Latin-influenced arrangements like “The Tango Boy” and sultry, ballads such as “Lovesong,” My One and Only One has a little something for every one and every mood.

    Jessy is launching her album tour with album release parties at both the Orange County and Beverly Hills Spaghettini’s locations. She then continues on across the US and into the Caribbean Islands and then London.

    In 2008, Jessy made her debut in contemporary jazz with Tequila Moon. She held the #1 spot on the smooth jazz charts for eight weeks and was rewarded with the Radio & Records “Debut Artist of the Year” and “Song of the Year” awards. She has had the opportunity to work with groups and artists such as Michael Bublé, Jessica Simpson, Michael Bolton, The Temptations, Aerosmith and more.

    Get My One & Only One on Amazon.

    Title: My One and Only One
    Artist: Jessy J
    Year: May 26, 2015
    Genre: Jazz, Smooth Jazz, Latin
    Label: Shanachie Entertainment


    1. Una Mas
    2. My One and Only One
    3. Lovesong
    4. The Tango Boy
    5. Paraíso Mágico
    6. Back To The Basics
    7. You’re Making Me High
    8. Siempre
    9. Cuba
    10. Strawberry Letter 23

    Get My One & Only One on Amazon.

    May 28, 2015 • Reviews • Views: 2344

  • Patrick Bradley Can You Hear Me Review

    Patrick Bradley released his latest and third album, Can You Hear Me, in September of 2014. With guests like Dave Koz, Jimmy Haslip, Rick Braun, and Eric Marienthal, the album is a collection of ten smooth and contemporary jazz tracks produced and arranged by Patrick Bradley and fellow keyboardist, Jeff Lorber.

    The opening cut, “All In”, is a smooth and mellow introduction to the album, with “Blue Skies,” following in a more fusion-JLF style. One of my favorite tracks from the project is “Catalan,” a funky and fusion driven tune with Marienthal on sax. I also enjoyed the ballads “Shoreline” and “Can You Hear Me”, the title track and album single, a heartfelt ballad with Dave Koz sharing the spotlight on soprano.

    Patrick Bradley made his debut on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts with Come Rain or Shine in 2006. His sophomore release, Under the Sun, arrived in 2006 achieving #6 on the Indie Charts. He works at Whole Foods Market as the president of the Southern Pacific region in addition to his work as a professional musician and recording artist.

    Get Can You Hear Me on Amazon.

    Title: Can You Hear Me
    Artist: Patrick Bradley
    Date: September 23, 2014
    Genre: Jazz, Smooth Jazz
    Label: Patrick’s Song Factory


    01 All In
    02 Blue Skies
    03 North of Evermore
    04 Can You Hear Me
    05 Daylight
    06 Shoreline
    07 Catalan
    08 For Her
    09 Sierra
    10 Voyage

    Get Can You Hear Me on Amazon.

    May 11, 2015 • Reviews • Views: 2291

  • Blake Aaron Soul Stories Review

    Guitarist Blake Aaron celebrated the release of his latest project Soul Stories yesterday, May 5, 2015. The album was released by Innervision Records and has already entered the Billboard Top 10 with “Encantadora”, a salsa-influenced track featuring Najee on flute.

    The album weaves through the contemporary jazz, R&B, Latin and funk genres with a collection of ten tracks both originals and covers. In Blake Aaron’s words, “It’s the most expressive album I’ve ever made as an artist representing the many different facets of the music I love and who I am creatively.”

    Soul Stories begins with the horn-driven, disco-inspired “Groove-o-Matic” and then steps back a decade in style with the 60’s influenced Wes Side Story. He next serenades use with nylon string guitar during “Sol Amor” and uses a combination of nylon string and electric guitars for the ever popular ballad “Europa.”

    Joining forces with vocalist Spenser Day on “You’re the One for Me”, Blake Aaron steps into the jazz realm before shifting to the bluesy-rock style on “Story of the Blues.” The album closes with “You’re My Miracle” and the chart-topping “Encantadora.”

    Soul Stories is certainly a cinematic experience as Blake Aaron paints a diverse collection of aural landscapes for his listeners as the project progresses from track to track. There’s definitely something for everyone on this project – whether you enjoy Latin-fusion or blues.

    On Soul Stories, Blake Aaron is expertly accompanied by Derek Bordeaux, Tom Zink, Rob Mullins, Lew Lain, Hussain Jiffry, Melvin Davis, Mike Whittaker, Craig Sharmat, Ronnie Gutierrez, Rick Lawson and Winston Butts.

    Get Soul Stories on Amazon.

    Title: Soul Stories
    Artist: Blake Aaron
    Date: May 05, 2015
    Genre: Jazz, Smooth Jazz
    Label: Innervision Records


    01 Groove-o-Matic
    02 Wes Side Story
    03 Sol Amor
    04 Europa
    05 You’re the One for Me feat. Spencer Day
    06 Story of the Blues
    07 Sara Smile
    08 Story of My Life
    09 You’re My Miracle
    10 Encantadora feat. Najee

    Get Soul Stories on Amazon.

    May 6, 2015 • Reviews • Views: 2212