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  • Keyboardist George Duke Biography | Teen Jazz Legend

    This past week we lost legendary keyboardist, composer and performer George Duke. He publicist announced that he passed away on Monday, August 5, 2013.

    George Duke led a successful career that spanned a variety of genres including funk, jazz, soul and R&B over the last several decades. Throughout his career he not only collaborated with other legendary perfumers such as Miles Davis, Barry Manilow, George Clinton, Frank Zappa, and Jill Scott, but built an incredible reputation for himself as an artist and composer in his own right.

    He had most recently released Dreamweaver (2013 on Concord Records), his latest solo album and tribute to his wife Corine who passed away in 2012. Get DreamWeaver on Amazon.

    Duke was born in San Rafael, California on January 12, 1946. He began playing the piano at the age of four and went on to study trombone and composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, earning his degree in 1967. He continued his studies at San Francisco State University where he earned his Master’s degree while working with a trio that backed (then up and coming) Al Jarreau.

    Throughout the 1960s and 70s, George Duke worked with a myriad of well-known performers such as Frank Zappa, Cannonball Adderley, Dizzy Gillespie, et al. In 1977 he signed with Epic Records and released “From Me to You” and “Reach for It.” He would go on to release some thirty-odd records as a solo artist.

    In the 1980s, he also worked as a producer and composer with trumpeter Miles Davis on “Backyard Ritual” and “Amandla.” He additionally teamed up with Stanley Clarke to form the Clarke/Duke Project and “Sweet Baby,” the hit single from the album was a huge success. As a producer, he worked with Phillip Bailey, Rufus, Jeffrey Osborne and many more. In 1988, he served as the musical director for the Nelson Mandela Tribute Concert at Wembley Stadium.

    The widespread influence of George Duke can be seen in a variety of genres. His has been sampled by groups and artists such Daft Punk, Kanye West, and Ice Cube, and that doesn’t even begin to detail the generations of musicians that have been influenced by his music.

    I did not have the opportunity to meet or perform with George Duke like many of my peers, but I have been blessed with the chance to see him perform and play alongside him on “This Masquerade” from U-Nam’s album Weekend in LA: A Tribute to George Benson. We lost a great musician this week, but his memory and his music remain with us, and for that we can be grateful. Thank you George Duke for your beautiful, innovative and inspiring music.

    George Duke was 67.

    August 6, 2013 • Interviews • Views: 1046

  • Review of Keiko Matsui’s Album Soul Quest

    On July 30, 2013, keyboardist Keiko Matsui will release Soul Quest (Shanachie Entertainment), a celebration of 25 years of recording in the US and her latest album as a solo artist. Soul Quest spotlights an all-star cast of players such as producer and drummer Narada Michael Walden, guitarist Chuck Loeb, saxophonist Kirk Whalum, bassist Marcus Miller, and more.

    The album features ten diverse compositions inspired by Keiko Matsui’s experiences touring the world, so it’s no small wonder that the various songs on Soul Quest were recorded all across the globe in New York, Japan, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Eastern Europe.

    The album opens with “Dream Seeker,” written by Chuck Loeb and Matsui with the addition of Andy Snitzer on saxophone. Following the opening track is the album single, “Black Lion,” inspired by a painting Keiko saw while on tour in Georgia. At the time of writing, “Black Lion,” the first single from Soul Quest is already rising in the Billboard Smooth Jazz Charts (as of today, the track is #14).

    “Top Secret,” the third track on the album, is another collaboration with guitarist Chuck Loeb. In fact, Loeb co-wrote three of the songs on the album with Matsui and produced five. In addition to “Top Secret” and “Dream Seeker,” Chuck and Keiko also co-composed “Two Hearts,” a funky, laid back track. Fourth on the album is “A Night with Cha Cha,” featuring saxophonist Kirk Whalum, a piece that was also influenced by her tour across Europe and probably my favorite track from the recording with it’s catchy hook, percussion, and energetic ending.

    In addition to Chuck Loeb, Narada Michael Walden was another big contributor on the album, working with Matsui to create “Moving Mountain,” “Antartica – A Call to Action,” and “Stingo,” a tribute to Sting and the closing track on the project.

    A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE ARTIST:

    Keiko Matsui has been quite the prolific recording artist – she has more than 20 album releases to her name. She began playing piano at the age of 5 in Tokyo, Japan, and at the age of 19, she traveled to the US to record her first album, Drop of Water. Since, she has appeared numerous times in the Top 10 Billboard charts and she has received several awards and recognition for her work as an artist.

    Get Soul Quest on Amazon

    Title: Soul Quest
    Artist: Keiko Matsui
    Date: July 30, 2013
    Genre: Smooth Jazz
    Label: Shanachie Entertainment

    Tracks:

    01 Dream Seeker (ft. Chuck Loeb)
    02 Black Lion
    03 Top Secret (ft. Chuck Loeb)
    04 A Night with Cha Cha (ft Kirk Whalum)
    05 Moving Mountain (ft. Narada Michael Walden)
    06 Antartica – A Call to Action (ft. Marcus Miller & Kirk Whalum)
    07 Soul Quest
    08 Proof (ft. Chuck Loeb)
    09 Two Hearts (ft. Chuck Loeb)
    10 Stingo (ft Narada Michael Walden)

    Get Soul Quest on Amazon

    July 19, 2013 • Reviews • Views: 1259

  • Review of Jonathan Fritzén’s Album Magical

    In the past year or two, a new wave of artists have been making their way into the smooth jazz charts, bringing with them their creative energy and fresh perspectives on the genre. To name a few, these artists include Vincent Ingala, Nicolas Cole, and Jonathan Fritzén, and it’s the latter artist I’d like to introduce to you today.

    Towards the end of last year, Swedish-American keyboardist, producer and composer, Jonathan Fritzén released his fourth album as an artist on Nordic Night Records. Magical features eleven original tracks and a collection of impressive guests including Boney James, Jackiem Joyner, Paul Brown, Vincent Ingala, Malene Mortensen and Darren Rahn.

    Magical covers a lot of ground with Fritzén’s eleven diverse compositions, hinting at everything from pop to smooth jazz to cinematic music and it more than exemplifies one of the new directions in which it seems contemporary jazz artists are heading. With Magical, Fritzén does an excellent job of composing music in the smooth jazz style. I was equally impressed with the film score style piece on the project, “Angels.”

    Jonathan Fritzén was born in Stockholm, Sweden to a Swedish mother and American father. He got his start in music playing the drums, but then later added piano, bass, guitar, flute and vocals to his credit. His releases include Love Birds (2008), VIP (2009), Diamonds (2010) and Magical (2012). He has reached Number 1 on the Billboard charts with both “Diamonds” and “Magical.”

    Get Magical on Amazon

    Title: Magical
    Artist: Jonathan Fritzén
    Date: August 21, 2012
    Genre: Smooth Jazz
    Label: Nordic Night Records

    Tracks:

    01 Magical (feat Boney James)
    02 Love Will Overcome (feat Jackiem Joyner)
    03 Sweet Spot (feat Paul Brown)
    04 Electric
    05 Nostalgia
    06 To the Top (feat Vincent Ingala)
    07 Can’t Get You Out of My Mind (feat Malene Mortensen)
    08 Turn Back Time
    09 Nordic Night
    10 Lullaby (feat Darren Rahn)
    11 Angels

    Get Magical on Amazon

    June 11, 2013 • Reviews • Views: 882

  • Keyboardist Rachel Cantrell | Teen Jazz Artist

    Setup/Gear/Manufacturer of Instruments:

    For electric: Yamaha & Casio
    For acoustic: Estonia

    Why did you begin studying music?

    I began studying music at the age of 4 when my parents enrolled me in piano group classes. Up until my freshman year in high school I only studied classical music; the number of competitions I’ve done and pieces I’ve played are countless, and this study also included (and still includes) studying music theory in a 10-year theory program called Certificate of Merit (MTAC.org). In my first year of high school I did my first concerto with the community orchestra – one of the greatest and scariest memories of my life.

    Keyboardist Rachel Cantrell

    Located in Stevenson Ranch, CA

    • Keyboards and Piano
    • 12 years of playing

    www.thejazzpost.com


    Teen Jazz Artist Badge

    [What’s this?]

    Jazz, however, began my freshman year when I showed up for an audition for the jazz program at my high school. To be honest, I had no idea what jazz was — chord symbols made absolutely no sense to me at all. For some reason, I still placed in the advanced jazz band. But this still frustrated me — how could it be that I understood so little about something I loved so much? So for an entire year, I studied all I could about jazz — especially piano jazz — including chord symbols, rhythm changes, and standard tunes. I even enrolled in an arts program at CalArts (which is in my area) for jazz, where I learned the most about improv.

    I’m now in my third year in the jazz program (and in jazz in general) and I love it — I love the music, the history, and the groove. I lead the rhythm section in the jazz band in regards to the whole band in general.

    What are you doing with music now?

    Currently I participate in the advanced jazz band at my high school and take community arts classes at CalArts and through SCVYO. My case is a bit unique — my focus isn’t entirely on jazz piano, but it’s also on my jazz blog which I started up this summer after listening to a few jazz players in my area. I’ve got a big passion in writing — so to be able to combine both of my passions is great for me. The blog is at www.thejazzpost.com, and I’ve been writing about my favorite jazz musicians and the shows that I attend — In fact, today I’m going to the Jazz Through the Generations show in Palos Verdes to check out the performers and KKJazz’s LeRoy Downs.

    I’m also taking part in starting up the jazz combo program at my school and I’ll be in our first jazz combo — something that I’m very excited for.

    I also teach basic piano — I know that piano lessons are expensive, but I do not believe that it should be a reason that children do not get exposed to music, especially a core instrument like piano. I only charge $10 for half an hour so that I can expose them to music without being a burden on their parents, and pass them on to more experienced teachers when I feel that they are ready, or I introduce them to new instruments if piano’s just not their “thing.”

    Who are some of your influences?

    My biggest influence is Count Basie (and his orchestra, including the All-American rhythm section), mainly for his simplicity in his improvisation and his influence on the jazz world. I also look up to the new artist, Hiromi Uehara, and her group, SonicBloom; I can connect to her love for piano and to her Japanese heritage.

    Another one of my influences is Marian McPartland, who is managing one of the longest-running radio shows in history, Piano Jazz, through NPR. McPartland is both a jazz pianist and a journalist, which is what I aspire to be.

    Who have you studied with?

    I study classical piano with Elizabeth Petersen, who attended Juilliard and teaches piano privately in my area.

    As for jazz, my jazz director is Robert Babko; I study privately with Daisuke Iwasaki, who studied jazz piano at the Berklee School of Music, when I visit Japan. (His site is at http://www2u.biglobe.ne.jp/~qnm47791/index.html; but it is all in Japanese.) Currently I take lessons with Mark Nilan (www.marknilanjr.com); please see his “about” page there.

    What would you like to do with music in the future?

    I believe that the greatest thing about music is that no one can hate it, since it possesses such a wide variety of genres. With this kind of influence, I think that music can be used to advocate anything. I plan to continue my blog (www.thejazzpost.com) and work in writing about music, as well as playing jazz for the purpose of influencing those younger than me. Jazz never ages — it sounds just as great from someone as old as Dave Brubeck as it does from someone as young as Esperanza Spalding.

    I love piano; I want to give as much back to music as it has given to me.


     

    Interested in having your profile featured on our site?

    Teen Jazz is also looking for young Jazz Artist features, so you could become a feature if you apply. You will be notified by email of the status of your application.

    Terms and Conditions:

    (A) You cannot submit one sentence answers to the Teen Jazz Artist Application form questions, they must be a short paragraph.

    (B) You must respond to the confirmation email that you receive from Shannon Kennedy after you submit your profile or your profile will not be published on Teen Jazz.

    (C) Pictures and Contact Information on your page are optional, but let us at Teen Jazz know if you would like to have both or either on your profile.

    Apply Here

    February 1, 2013 • Up and Coming Musicians • Views: 809

  • Keyboardist Donovan Bullock | Teen Jazz Artist

    Setup/Gear/Manufacturer of Instruments:

    Yamaha Keyboard, SX Guitar, Hohner Harmonica

    Why did you begin studying music?

    After hearing John Lennon’s “Imagine”, something just clicked in my brain. I loved the piano before, but that sparked my interest in learning it. After I found a decent, 61-key Casio board in a D.A.V. thrift store, I began my journey to hopefully become a respected artist.

    Keyboardist Donovan Bullock

    Located in Harfield, Virginia

    • Keyboards and Piano
    • 3 years of playing
    • Doubles on Mallet Percussion, Guitar, Harmonica, Percussion

    Teen Jazz Artist Badge

    [What’s this?]

    What are you doing with music now?

    I have a Myspace page with my work on it. I’m doing my best to become renowned around my county, with some success. My goal for 2010 is to release a CD.

    Who are some of your influences?

    John Lennon, The Doors, David Sylvian, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Elton John

    Who have you studied with?

    It’s been a solo effort the whole way through with the exception of music books.

    What would you like to do with music in the future?

    I want to release at least one mainstream CD and hopefully go on tour.


     

    Interested in having your profile featured on our site?

    Teen Jazz is also looking for young Jazz Artist features, so you could become a feature if you apply. You will be notified by email of the status of your application.

    Terms and Conditions:

    (A) You cannot submit one sentence answers to the Teen Jazz Artist Application form questions, they must be a short paragraph.

    (B) You must respond to the confirmation email that you receive from Shannon Kennedy after you submit your profile or your profile will not be published on Teen Jazz.

    (C) Pictures and Contact Information on your page are optional, but let us at Teen Jazz know if you would like to have both or either on your profile.

    Apply Here

    January 19, 2013 • Up and Coming Musicians • Views: 1003

  • Review of Diane Schuur’s Performance at Catalina’s 2005

    Preferring instrumental music over vocal, there are very few vocalists that I listen to regularly, but Diane Schuur is one of them. Diane Schuur recently performed at Catalina’s bar and grill. I attended the very last show of the last night that she was there.

    The ensemble sounded great, especially Diane Schuur. Her singing and piano playing was incomparable. She picked really great tunes for the set and played them all amazingly. In addition to her outstanding musicianship, Diane Schuur is also a fantastic performer. Occasionally smiling at the crowd during a solo, or talking to the audience between songs really showed her desire for the audience to be truly involved in the show. One of the most entertaining non-musical moments of the show was when she explained what “Deedle-caf” was. It is her name for decaf coffee (her nickname is Deedles). When she was brought “Deedle-caf”, she said “mmm” into the mic after every sip, which in itself defined why she named decaf coffee after herself.

    Diane Schuur is an absolutely amazing performer. If you have not seen her perform yet, you really should – it will be some of the best jazz you will ever hear.

    November 8, 2012 • Reviews • Views: 790

  • Jeff Lorber, Now is the Time Review

    Release Date: 01 JUN 2010

    Fusion is re-emerging as a popular genre in the instrumental music market. In fact, many artists are “going back to basics” and rediscovering their musical roots and influences. Artists like Jeff Lorber and Chieli Minucci are bringing back fusion while saxophonist Mindi Abair has released an R&B/Motown inspired album.

    These artists are moving away from the overly produced, synth dominant smooth jazz style and rediscovering their roots. It’s not out of place to say that many smooth jazz artists have come full circle, trading in midi sounds for more traditional and acoustic instruments. Hopefully, sequenced drums and horn sections will continue down the path of extinction as live musicians once more begin their way back into recording studios and onto the albums of their peers.

    For those unfamiliar with the various genres of instrumental music, fusion is a style that developed in the 60s and 70s, and was made popular by groups such as Weather Report and Return to Forever. It is a combination the improvisation and somewhat enhanced instrumentation of jazz with rock, R&B, and funk styles, implementing more electronic sounds than most of the music that came before. In fact, the literal definition of fusion is “the process or result of joining two or more things together to form a single entity”. So, by definition, most musical styles today are “fusion”.

    By the late 70’s, Jeff Lorber Fusion, originally from Portland, Oregon, had begun its expanse into national and international markets. After a brief period as a solo artist and producer, Lorber has returned to the style that launched his career.

    Now is the Time, Jeff Lorber’s latest release signifies his return to fusion. The title of the album is not the title of a song as one would assume, but rather a statement of the musical shift the album takes to something a little “jazzier… exciting…”

    Many of the songs on the album are reinventions of the old Jeff Lorber Fusion material. His reason for covering his own songs is because “… people seem to be interested in hearing that again. They’re ready to hear musicians who can really play, really stretch the envelope with their technique, with their songwriting, and with harmonic structure.” Several artists have been redoing their catalog; even mainstream artists like Jewel are doing it. Many artists look forward to the opportunity to rerecord their pieces, and in the case of Jeff Lorber, with three decades of improvement by both the musicians and technology. The pieces are recreated in a way that stimulates the aural senses and intellect of listeners. Some of the updated songs on the album include Black Ice, the 7/4 piece Chinese Medicinal Herbs, and my personal favorite, Water Sign. Lorber also covers Wayne Shorter’s “Mysterious Traveler.”

    This album features a selection of exciting melodies, both instrumental and vocal, and showcases many great artists. On Now is the Time, Lorber collaborates with guitarist Paul Jackson Jr., trumpeter Randy Brecker, saxophonist Eric Marienthal, and rhythm secion players Vinnie Colaiuta, Jimmy Haslip, Alex Al, and Lenny Castro, and Dave Weckl. The Blood, Sweat and Tears horn section also appears on numerous tracks.

    Now is the Time, is not the typical aggressive, in your face fusion typically associated with the genre. Instead, it is more laid back and easier for listeners to enjoy. The instrumentation on the album is fairly simple – it is easy to identify each of the sounds (instruments) on the record, and it is far more enjoyable to hear. The arrangements are clear and comprehensible because they are not buried by strings and synthesizers. Over all, any listener looking for something a little more edgy or musically interesting is sure to enjoy Jeff Lorber’s Now is the Time.

    Get the album Now Is the Time on Amazon

    September 19, 2012 • Reviews • Views: 915