music reviews

  • Joey Sommerville Overnight Sensation Review

    On October 28, 2014, trumpeter Joey Sommerville released Overnight Sensation, his fifth solo album on Jayvox.

    The album consists of nine originals amongst the ten tracks, and the trumpet player is heard sharing production duties with keyboardist, Jeff Lorber. Guests including Earl Klugh, Jeff Bradshaw, Elan Trotman, and Eric Essix make an appearance on the project, sharing their voices and playing on this unique project.

    The album opens with the title track, “Overnight Sensation,” a groove-driven and funky cut that draws you in. He then steps back and slows it down with “Desire” before changing things up again with the rock-inspired rendition of the classic Duke Ellington composition, “Caravan”, featuring Jeff Bradshaw on trombone.

    The standout song on the project is surely to become what it’s name implies. “The Next Big Thing” is a contemporary jazz and funk-infused track with Elan Trotman and Joey Sommerville sharing the melody with Jeff Lorber’s trademark groove and sound behind the wheel.

    Atlanta-based musician, Joey Sommerville, was a spotlight soloist on the Grammy-nominated and Juno Award-winning Cirque du Soleil album “Alegria.” He’s written and produced a Top 20 single for Bob Baldwin and an album by Rhonda Smith with performances from the likes of Prince, Sheila E. and Fred Hammond. When he isn’t performing as a jazz trumpet player, he can be heard doing voice spots for companies such as BMW, Coke and Ford.

    Get Overnight Sensation on Amazon.

    Title: Overnight Sensation
    Artist: Joey Sommerville
    Date: October 28, 2014
    Genre: Jazz
    Label: Jayvox


    01 Overnight Sensation
    02 Desire (feat. Earl Klugh)
    03 Caravan (feat. Jeff Bradshaw)
    04 Red Cups Up
    05 I Just Wanna Be With You
    06 The Next Big Thing (feat. Elan Trotman)
    07 Rebecca of Birmingham (feat. Eric Essix)
    08 Karma
    09 Forever
    10 The Passport Life

    Get Overnight Sensation on Amazon.

    April 15, 2015 • Reviews • Views: 1850

  • DW3 Vintage Truth Review

    On March 17, 2015 DW3 celebrated the release of their sophomore album, Vintage Truth on the Woodward Avenue Records label. The project, with its twelve tracks, serves as a tribute to the late Ricky Lawson who produced and recorded on four of the tracks from the album.

    The DW3 frontmen, Billy Mondragon, Eric Mondragon and Damon Reel, are joined by Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson, Greg Adams, Paul Brown, Elan Trotman, and Ricky Lawson. Their rhythm section and horns include the talents of Charles Streeter, Steve Carias,  Rick Marcel, Carnell Harell, Tracy Carter, Darryl Williams and more.

    Vintage Soul is a collection of DW3’s most popular songs selected over their many years of performances. “I Can’t Tell You Why”, the popular song by The Eagles was produced by guitarist Paul Brown. Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed”, Luther Vandross’s “So Amazing” and The Mamas & The Papas “California Dreamin'” can also be heard on the project.

    The dynamic energy and signature harmonies listeners have come to expect of the trio certainly carries over into their most recent project. From the spirited “Let the Music” to the laid-back and soulful “I Can’t Tell You Why”, fans certainly get to take the essence of these popular SoCal based performers home with them.

    In 2011, DW3 made their debut at #16 on the US Billboard charts with “On the Floor”. In 2014 they were Grammy nominated for their background vocals on the Dave Koz Summer Horns album and they have been the resident party band for The Smooth Jazz Cruise since 2004.

    Our Favorite Track: She Keeps Runnin’

    Get Vintage Truth on Amazon

    Title: Vintage Truth
    Artist: DW3
    Date: March 17, 2015
    Genre: Smooth Jazz, R&B
    Label: Woodward Avenue Records


    01 Let the Music feat. Brian Culbertson
    02 Tribute (Right On)
    03 I Can’t Tell You Why
    04 Hold Me feat. Greg Adams
    05 Dance with Me
    06 Overjoyed
    07 California Dreamin’
    08 When You Cry feat. Dave Koz
    09 She Keeps Runnin’
    10 Square Onw
    11 So Amazing
    12 At the Club feat. Elan Trotman

    Get Vintage Truth on Amazon

    April 8, 2015 • Reviews • Views: 1781

  • A Review of Indigo by Dan Siegel

    Pianist Dan Siegel’s latest solo release, Indigo, was released fall 2014. It includes a collection of ten original compositions in the jazz style.

    Accompanied by Yellowjackets veteran Will Kennedy on drums, Bob Sheppard on sax, guitarists Allen Hinds and Mike Miller, percussionist Lenny Castro, vibraphone player Craig Fundyga, and bassist Brian Bromberg, Siegel takes listeners on a journey across an array of soundscapes.

    The listening journey begins with “To Be Continued,” a mellow track with Sheppard’s fluid tenor playing taking the lead on melody. “Indigo” is a track that gets your head moving with the guitar on lead, and “Beyond” is next with a a beautifully written melody played by Dan Siegel with an acoustic guitar keeping accompaniment. “Spur of the Moment” has elements of the big band swing genre with it’s horn section playing around the melody.

    This is definitely an album I plan on keeping in my playlist for some time.

    Siegel shares production credit with Bromberg, and their chemistry in the study is certainly present on this release. The various textures and arrangements on the project keep you on your toes from track o track.

    Dan Siegel made his Top 10 Billboard debut with his second release, “The Hot Shot” and hasn’t looked back since. In addition to his work as a film and television composer, he has played with artists such as Herbie Hancock, Boney James, Joe Sample, Bela Fleck, John Patitucci, Berlin, Chaka Khan, and Philip Bailey.

    Get Indigo on Amazon

    Title: Indigo
    Artist: Dan Siegel
    Date: November 07, 2014
    Genre: Jazz
    Label: DSM


    01 To Be Continued
    02 By Chance
    03 Indigo
    04 Beyond
    05 Far and Away
    06 If Ever
    07 Spur of the Moment
    08 First Light
    09 Consider This
    10 Endless

    Get Indigo on Amazon

    April 1, 2015 • Reviews • Views: 1819

  • Lawson Rollins Traveler Review

    Guitarist Lawson Rollins released Traveler, his fifth album as a solo artist on February 17, 2015 by way of Inifinita Records. Accompanied by Mads Tolling, Charlie Bisharat, Randy Tico, Dave Bryant, Cameron Stone, Scotty Morris, Joshua Levy, and Karl Hunter, the composer delights listeners with twelve original tracks.

    One almost feels as though they need to get their passport ready as Lawson Rollins brings us along on his journey to Spain (“Barcelona Express” and “Meeting in Madrid”), France (“Café Paris”), Germany (“Berlin Bossa” – my favorite track), among other popular travel destinations.

    Opening with the exciting and energetic title track, “Traveler,” Lawson Rollins takes listeners on a global adventure by bringing us across Europe. Rollins then leads us back to California with “Marching West” and “Journey Home”. Each of the tracks on the project are tied to a certain place where the guitarist and artist has either lived or visited, those places which have inspired his prodigious career and music.

    Lawson Rollins won the 2014 USA Songwriting Competition’s “Best Instrumental Song”, placing third overall in the contest. He has also topped the most-played charts for Sirius Radio’s Watercolors and was offered a guest DJ hosting spot. He began his career as a solo artist in 2008 with “Infinita” after performing as Young & Rollins alongside Daniel Young.

    Get Traveler on Amazon.

    Title: Traveler
    Artist: Lawson Rollins
    Date: February 17, 2015
    Genre: World
    Label: Infinita Records


    01 Traveler
    02 Barcelona Express
    03 Café Paris
    04 Berlin Bossa
    05 Meeting in Madrid
    06 Marching West
    07 Journey Home
    08 Beyond the Bayou
    09 Across the Moors
    10 Metropolis
    11 Ancient City
    12 City Electric

    Get Traveler on Amazon.

    March 16, 2015 • Reviews • Views: 1842

  • A Review of ShaShaty’s Brighter Day

    On March 3, 2015, saxophonist ShaShaty will be celebrating the release of his sixth album, Brighter Day on the newly formed A.H.I. Records. The album features the talents of Steve Oliver, Will Donato, Spyro Gyra, and Taiwanese vocalist Usay Chu.

    With eleven tracks ranging from the romantic ballads “My Heart Yours” and “I’m Always Near” to the Indian motif in “Mumbai” and the funky “Let’s Go!”, Brighter Day is ShaShaty’s first original release in several years.

    Stand Out Tracks

    “Brighter Day,” the title track from the album features an uplifting and spirited arrangement with ShaShaty on alto sax. The saxophonist didn’t stick to just one voice on the album, opting to record alto, soprano, and tenor and showcase his diversity as an instrumentalist.

    “Dream Ride,” the single from the album, hit radio stations this past month. It opens with a catchy bass riff, guitar swells, and a horn section with ShaShaty easing listeners in with a few fills before settling into the verse.

    About ShaShaty

    Originally from Miami, Florida, ShaShaty now resides in Los Angeles. His past performances include dates with Carlos Santana, The Mavericks, The Bee Gees, Gloria Estefan, Michael McDonald, Peter Cetera, George Benson, Dave Koz, and more. He has performed on the national television program “Today with Kathie Lee & Hoda” as well as on PBS alongside Al Jarreau.

    Get Brighter Day
    on Amazon

    Title: Brighter Day
    Artist: ShaShaty
    Date: March 03, 2015
    Genre: Smooth Jazz
    Label: A.H.I. Records


    01 Dream Ride
    02 Let’s Go
    03 Song of Hope
    04 Late on 91
    05 My Heart Yours
    06 Mumbai
    07 A Million Miles
    08 August
    09 I’m Always Near
    10 Brighter Days
    11 Float Away

    Get Brighter Day
    on Amazon

    March 2, 2015 • Reviews • Views: 1488

  • What We’re Listening to This Month | Feb 2015

    Every few months we try to feature a few songs or albums that we’re listening to here at Teen Jazz. We’ll showcase the playlists of our host, Shannon Kennedy, as well as a few of our Teen Jazz Artists, Contributors and Influences. We hope you enjoy getting an inside look, and even more importantly, we hope you discover some great music!


    Shannon Kennedy, Teen Jazz Host

    Joshua Redman Elastic

    This has been one of my favorite albums since high school and I’ve recently started listening to it again. There are so many great tracks on this album but if I had to pick just one, it would probably be “Oumou”. It’s one of the few on which he plays alto. I could definitely listen to Elastic on repeat. It definitely sticks with you.


    Yellowjackets Time Squared

    Still going for a bit of nostalgia here. I’ve recently been getting back into the stuff that I loved as a teen. This is another great album that I listened to until I wore it out back in high school and I am so glad I gave it another listen.


    Khalil Fong Back to Wonderland

    This one’s a little different. As many of you may know, I study languages in addition to doing music. One of the languages I study is Mandarin, so I sought out artists from China and Taiwan (music can be a great way to develop your comprehension and speaking in a language). Khalil Fong is an impressive songwriter and vocalist and I’m really digging his music.


    Olivia Castle, Teen Jazz Artist

    I am a big fan of Classic by Mkto at the moment, I love the message and it has a great beat. Another current favourite is Make Someone Happy, the Jamie Cullum version from his new album Interlude – it is a stunningly good song.



    Greg Chambers, Teen Jazz Influence

    Brian Culbertson- XII

    I love the “live” feel of this album- it seems to start with sort of an impromptu jam, has a stellar horn and rhythm section throughout the CD, great vocal performances (esp. Avant), great drum and bass sequencing.


    Euge Groove – Livin’ Large

    Absolutely love the 2nd, 7th, and 8th tracks on this CD. Euge always plays with an uncanny level of expression, soul, and feeling and everything about this CD just works!!


    Julian Vaughn – Breakthrough

    I think Julian will be one of the dominant artists in this genre, if he isn’t already- it certainly helps that I got to know him a bit at NAMM and enjoyed collaborating with him! I think I pretty much wore out this CD and love Marcus Anderson’s and Darren Rahn’s sax work on it too.


    Dave Koz – Saxophonic

    This album is probably one of my all time favorites and DK is certainly a huge inspiration to me- I particularly love this album for the variety and the way that the personalities of all the instrumentalists really shine through.


    U-Nam, Teen Jazz Influence

    Bounce” Craig Sharmat

    Probably one of the most fresh and exciting songs, I’ve heard in a long time. A very clever mix of Groove “A La Stevie Wonder” and Gypsy Jazz; they called that Funky Django. Great musicianship on this track, the guitar has a beautiful sound and Craig is playing a very nice mix of Gypsy Jazz and Funky licks on his acoustic guitar.


    “That’s Right” George Benson (from the album That’s Right)

    One of my favorite songs on one of my favorite George Benson albums. Released in 1993 and recorded at Prince’s Paysley Park Studios, with Prince’s drummer Michael Brand and the Petterson’s “Funky” Brothers (Ricky and Paul). The song was actually co-written by one of my very good friends, drummer Michael White ( which plays on most of all my albums). GB is delivering one of my favorite guitar solos mixed with intricate jazz licks, lightning-fast arpeggios and some Funky licks with a sense of timing, command and rhythm that only George has the secret to executing.


    Summertime” DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince

    Will Smith AKA Fresh Prince’s big first hit, based on Kool and the Gang’s “Summer Madness”. A very smooth fresh/fun hip hop groove tune that actually gave me the idea for a remix of my new single “Throwback Kid”. It actually made go back to listen to early Kool and the Gang Jazz/Funk albums from the 70’s…

    February 23, 2015 • Reviews • Views: 1621

  • Recap & Review of NAMM 2015

    This year was my tenth year attending NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants convention held in Anaheim, California from January 22-25, 2015.

    NAMM 2015 | Teen Jazz

    The NAMM show is a fun music event held annually and is a great time to catch-up with friends from around the world, see exciting new products from music manufacturers, and mingle with some of the most renowned names in music. The event lasts four days, Thursday to Sunday, but we only attended the first two days of the show. So rather than doing a twopart review and recap, I’m going to try to fit it all into one post.

    Some of the cool things we saw at the show this year:

    1. Friends and Fellow Musicians, of course! We got to hang out with Mindi Abair, Eric Darius, Darren Rahn, Lin Rountree, George Benson, Tim Price, Ryan Saranich, Arno Haas, Rob Tardik, Carson Freeman, and so many others.

    2. Seeing Funkadelic perform. It was so crowded, but we stood behind the stage and watched them on the screen. It was pretty cool seeing such a legendary band perform.

    3. The Diamond Sax from CE Winds. Wow. Check out Charles McNeal’s video below.

    4. Of course, I still love the Antigua Winds Copper Sax. You can see it in my quick montage video above.

    5. Yamaha’s new Sternberg products. The UR12 was pretty neat. It is a 24-bit/192kHz converter that offers outstanding audio fidelity with a D-PRE mic preamp. It is iOS compatible and can run on mobile battery or bus power.

    6. SaxRax Sax Stick. The new SaxRax sax stick is a pretty cool new way to play bari. It allows you to play either seated or standing without using a neckstrap. That means all the weight of your sax is on the stand rather than your neck and shoulders. Since I spend quite a bit of time in the studio on bari, this is definitely going on my wishlist.

    What about you? Did you go to NAMM? If you saw anything you thought was cool, please tell us about it in the comments!

    February 2, 2015 • Reviews • Views: 1388

  • Groove LTD feat. U-Nam and Shannon Kennedy

    I try not to use this space [Teen Jazz] for shameless self-promotion. I have my own website to do that, but every once in a while I have a project that I am a part of that I am just to excited about not to share.

    Over the past few months, guitarist U-Nam and I have been working on a new collaboration – Groove LTD. This past week we released our first single “It’s Only Love”, a cover of the Barry White classic made popular by Simply Red.

    The single is currently going for adds at smooth jazz radio stations around the country and we would be absolutely thrilled if you called in to your favorite local station to request the song. Just ask for “It’s Only Love” by Groove LTD.

    In the meantime, you can pick up a copy of the song on either iTunes or Amazon OR you can get an exclusive, limited edition copy signed by both U-Nam and I here.

    Thank you again so much for all of your support. Happy New Year!

    Groove LTD can be found here:

    January 14, 2015 • Reviews • Views: 1650

  • Holiday Gift Guide for Musicians 2014

    It’s almost that time of year! If you haven’t already finished holiday shopping for your musician friends, here are a few ideas to help you check of your shopping list.

    Note: Some of these links are affiliate links, and AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU, Teen Jazz will make a small commission from a number of the products on this page. It’s an easy way to support our site and help keep us up and running.

    A Ticket Stub Diary

    Many musicians love going out to see live music as much as they love the opportunity to get to perform it. Get your musician friend a ticket stub diary so they can organize mementos from their favorite nights out. These can be used to collect tickets from their own shows or to shows they attended as an audience member. Check out the Ticket Stub Diary.


    Music Lessons

    For musicians still in the early stages of musical development, lessons can help a great deal. You can check out music tutors for various instruments and music skills at places like Wyzant, but we’ve also recommended a few more places here.

    A Scratch of Map

    One of the best things about being a musician other than the music (imho) is the fact that we often get opportunities to travel. I love being on the road and traveling to new places. If your musician friends are anything like me, they may love this scratch map. Check the out.

    Music Mixtape Doormat

    This AKF Shop Decorative Mixtape Cassette Funny Retro Vintage Doormats Welcome Mats Entrance Mat Floor Mat Door Mat Rug Indoor/Outdoor/Front Door/Bathroom Mats Rugs for Home/Office/Bedroom Neoprene Rubber Non Slip Backing Machine Washable (23.6″x15.7″,L x W) is customizable and is a fun gift to give your musician friend.

    External Storage Device (or a Dropbox Subscription)

    Most musicians are constantly writing or recording music and so having backups of all of their handwork is an absolute must! Get them a USB key or a hard drive or even get them a subscription to Dropbox. Many musicians may also need a place to back up their music collection since most of us are “collecting” digitally now.

    Upcycled Records: Bowls or Bracelet Cuff

    This Vinyl Album Record Bowl – “Rock Essentials” Genre
    is a pretty neat decorative item. The labels are protected so you do not have to worry about them being damaged. The upcycled Vinyl Record Cuff Bracelet is adorable. They are created by the same designer as the bowls.

    USB Keyboard

    The M-Audio Keyboard is the standard go-to midi keyboard, but if you want to get fancy, the ARTURIAmidi keyboard is beautiful. If they already have a midi keyboard, you can always go for the travel size option (M-Audio Travel Size Midi Keyboard), plus it’s more affordable.


    USB Microphone

    For the musician who is just starting to record, this is great option if they’re using software like Garageband. It gives them an easy way to record and get started. You can get a pretty affordable option here with the Audio-Technica ATR2500-USB Microphone, but you can take it a step up with this one (Audio-Technica AT2020 USB Microphone) from Audio Technica. Blue USB Microphones also have some pretty great reviews on Amazon.

    You can never have enough of these

    Korg TM50BK Instrument Tuner and Metronome, Black For some reason I seem to either misplace or wear out my tuners so I think it’s time to invest in a new one (or two or three). I’m a fan of the basic Korg tuners and it’s pretty neat that this one also has a built in metranome.


    Get them new music

    Musicians can be pretty picky about the music that they listen to so it’s a safer bet to get them a gift card from one of their preferred music vendors: Amazon Gift Cards | iTunes



    Shameless Plug #1: The Album Checklist

    Our book, The Album Checklist, is a great guide and workbook to help you or your musician friends help plan and budget your next (or first) album. It takes you step-by-step through the planning process all the way to post-release marketing and promotion. It has a nice collection of worksheets to help you keep organized too. Details here.

    Shameless Plug #2: Kenkase Reedcases and Guitar Pick Cases

    My dad has a pretty cool business where he handcrafts wood reed and guitar pick cases with tons of customizable options. You can get different sizes (like 5 reeds or 10 reeds), stone inlays, initials, wood combinations, felt colors, wood inlays, etc. It’s a great option for your musician friends and it’s totally personalized. Details here.

    Shameless Plug #3: Holiday Music

    Okay, I know, I’m pushing it with 3 plugs, but I promise this is the last one! I’ve released a holiday album and you can pick up a copy of it here (Signed) or get it digitally on iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp or CDBaby. We also recommend this album.

    December 3, 2014 • Teen Jazz • Views: 1393

  • Kiki Ebsen’s Scarecrow Sessions Review

    Kiki Ebsen’s latest release, Scarecrow Sessions, is a tribute to her late father and her first endeavor covering the classics of The Great American Songbook that her father often encouraged her to take on as a vocalist. Produced by David Mann, the project launched following a successful Kickstarter campaign and has since gone on the see #2 on the most added radio single charts.

    Scarecrow Sessions opens with the hauntingly beautiful rendition of “You Don’t Know What Love Is” before transitioning into “If I Only Had a Brain.” The Latin-influenced arrangement of “Comes Love” is a fantastic take on the jazz classic and with “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” one of my favorite tracks on the project. “At the Codfish Ball” has a fun clarinet solo and was a song that Ebsen’s father, Buddy Ebsen, sang and danced to alongside Shirley Temple in Captain January.

    The album features the talents of John Patitucci, Henry Hey, Chuck Loeb, Clint de Ganon, and David Mann.

    Kiki Ebsen has toured and performed with artists such as Al Jarreau, Tracy Chapman, Boz Scaggs, Christopher Cross, and Chicago. Her original compositions have been recorded by artists such as Boney James, Eric Marienthal and Jessy J.

    Get Scarecrow Sessions on Amazon

    Title: Scarecrow Sessions
    Artist: Kiki Ebson
    Date: September 30, 2014
    Genre: Jazz
    Label: Painted Pony Media


    01 You Don’t Know What Love Is
    02 If I Only Had a Brain
    03 Missing You
    04 Moon River
    05 Comes Love
    06 Tea for Two
    07 At the Codfish Ball
    08 Laura
    09 Easy to Love
    10 Prelude
    11 St. Louis Blues
    12 Over the Rainbow

    Get Scarecrow Sessions on Amazon

    October 8, 2014 • Reviews • Views: 1587