Each month we’re going 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

Adam Larson, Overdue Ovation (2013)

Adam, one of our Teen Jazz Artists recently released his sophomore album and I’ve been digging it quite a bit. The music consists of six original compositions by Larson, a composition by Nils Weinhold and an Irving Berlin piece all heavily influenced by bebop and post-bop. Considering that it’s been less than a year since his debut release Simple Beauty, it’s astonishing how far his playing and skills as a composer have come on Overdue Ovation.

Ludovic Beier & Angelo DeBarre, Entre Amis (2013)

Entre Amis, at the moment, is one of my favorite gypsy jazz albums. Of everything in my player this month, I probably listen to this the most. The accordion playing by Beier is outstanding, and of course, DeBarre is a world-renowned player in his own right. If you’re a fan of Django Reinhard or any of the Hot Club groups, the CD is an absolute must.

Denis Chang & Fleche D’Or, Nature Boy (2007)

We recently interviewed Denis Chang of DC Music School on Teen Jazz to discuss his online music school and of his life as a music entrepreneur, so naturally, I was curious about his music as an artist which is why I decided to check out Nature Boy. Chang has (and currently is) touring the world with some of the most prestigious names in the gypsy jazz genre. I enjoyed listening to his CD as I wrote our interview with him and some of the articles you can look forward to on Teen Jazz soon.

Steve Cole, “Slinky” from Pulse (2013)

We really enjoyed this funky track from saxman Steve Cole from his latest release, Pulse. We also recently caught up with Cole to discuss his new album. You can read the interview here.

Candy Dulfer, Crazy (2012)

This album has been at the top of my listening list for several months now. I love how Candy has taken a bit of the dance, jazz, smooth jazz and pop genres to create Crazy. It’s all over the place, but that’s what makes it so interesting, fun and enthralling to listen to. The album has received mixed reviews, and though I understand why it’s not a favorite for many, I enjoy the experimental nature of the project.

U-Nam, Guest Artist and Teen Jazz Influence

Daft Punk, “Get Lucky feat. Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers”

When I first heard Get Lucky a few months, it was an instant hit for me. It had a great groove and a great melody – it’s just a great pop tune. However, I’m not a big fan of the production and I think the vocals sound pretty raw, but I guess that was done on purpose. Pharrell is doing Pharrell on this song and the vocoder breakdown part is really cool, but for me, this song is all about one of my heroes. Nile Rodgers. Nile is driving that song and actually when the guitar stops, well, it doesn’t groove the same…

Level 42, “World Machine”

I’ve been listening to a lot of 80s music lately particularly because I was working on the NiVO DEUX project. I found myself frequently listening to one of my favorite bands, Level 42. I just couldn’t stop playing my favorite song “World Machine.” The song has a funky fusion-ish vibe to it, the melody is really great as well the production (Wally Badarou). Mike Lindup is handling most of the lead vocals, and my favorite part is the killer funky bass line on the breakdown played by my favorite bass player, Mark King. The song is worth listening to just for the bass.

Chic, “Stage Fright” from Take It Off

I love that song and that album! I used to have this album recorded on a K7 tape when I was 16 years old and I played it in constant loop while I was taking the subway in Paris to go to the music school. Chic is more known for having Disco / Funk hits like “Good Times” and “Le Freak” but Take It Off is far more edgy. It wasn’t a big hit but it’s one of my favorite Chic albums. I’m a huge fan of Nile Rodgers and when he played with bassist Bernard Edwards and drummer Tony Thompson, well, that was the best Funky rhythm section ever!

George Benson, “Off Broadway” from Give Me The Night

An instrumental classic written by Rod Temperton. It’s one of my favorite GB instrumentals. This is one of my warmup songs. I use to jam along with it when I got ready for a show. George’s solo is so funky, one of favorites! And Bruce Swedien did such an amazing job with George’s guitar sound ( I’m still trying to figure it out ) and it’s only on Give Me The Night. Otherwise, it’s just a classic 80s Quincy Jones production and so you can’t go wrong.

Michael O’Neill, “Beans N Grease Redux” from The String and I

Speaking of George Benson, Mike has been playing guitar for George for more than 25 years. The last time I saw George play, Mike gave me his latest album, and there is some really great stuff in it. My favorite is “Beans N Grease Redux.” It’s in the Smooth Jazz style I like, but unfortunately, you won’t hear it on the radio. I really think The String and I deserves much more attention. The musicians are some of the top LA session musicians and so the musicianship is super great. Fantastic songwriting as well. It’s laid back and acoustic but not soporific.

Curtis Brooks, Teen Jazz Artist

In my playlist I like to mix a lot of older songs and newer songs.

Ronnie Laws, “Always There”

Beyonce, “Love on Top”

Kim Waters, “Stop in The Name of Love”

Chris Brown, “Fine China”

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Published by Shannon Kennedy

Shannon Kennedy is a vocalist and saxophonist living in Southern California. She is author of "The Album Checklist" and the founder of Teen Jazz. She has been contributing articles to music magaizines and websites since 2004.