2015 Jazz on the Vine at the Osthoff Resort (Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin) - May 8 & 9. (Vincent Ingala, Mindi Abair, Down to the Bone, Michael Lington, Kenny Lattimore, Cindy Bradley, Chris Standring, Nick Colionne, Roman Street)
*The Loews Chicago O'Hare Hotel, home to the Montrose Room, is offering discounted room rates for those attending this show. Book a room, stay 'til the very last note of the final encore and don't worry about having to make the drive home! For information, click here.
Our Smooth Video of the Day: It's the new Al Jarreau featuring Gerald Albright's sax, "Somebossa (Summer Breezin').
. . . in my car. This is the no-brainer for everyone. Unless you are sitting in the back seat being chauffeured, radio is your best companion. My hubby says if the only thing that was wrong with the car was the radio, I would park the car and take the bus. He’s right.
. . . at the gym. I love to have music as a motivator. Doing the exercises to the beat helps keep me coordinated and makes the workout seem easier.
. . . at my desk. I need to block out the negative noise of the workplace. I need to make the time warp into a smooth groove so that the day will pass quickly and efficiently.
. . . on my headboard. I set my clock to wake me with smooth jazz. Buzzers make me think I’m in the middle of a grammar school fire drill. Talk will incorporate itself into my dreams and often convert them to nightmares. Classical will lull me back to sleep and rock will give me heartburn before I get my breakfast.
. . . doing housework. I hate washing dishes and vacuuming floors, but with smooth jazz I get those chores done without the angst.
. . . gardening. If I have to be pulling weeds and battling insects, I need smooth jazz to make it enjoyable.
. . . bathing. Candles, bubbles (in the tub and in a glass) and smooth jazz are the perfect end to any day.
. . . Where do you use smooth jazz? Comment below or add it to our Facebook page!
Our Smooth Video of the Day: About twenty years ago a listener sent WNUA a CD he made. He titled it Hot Tub Jazz. "Perfect relaxation music for when I'm in the hot tub," was how he described it. This was the first track on the CD.
If you have eggs and something has happened to your hen, you put them in an incubator and it provides the warmth and security to let them hatch. If you have an idea for a business, there are places set up called incubators where you go to learn the craft of doing business and take your idea from a germ to, hopefully, the next Microsoft.
So what do you do when you want a smooth jazz artist? Is there a place where you can incubate such a thing? Absolutely. One place is in the backup band of the rocker turned crooner, Rod Stewart.
How can that be? What’s he got to do with smooth jazz?
Rod’s discography is a who’s who of musicians, good and great, from a wide variety of genres. Reading the personnel list on Rod’s albums, you might be overwhelmed. From both sides of the Atlantic, the best and brightest have participated in his touring bands and recording sessions. For example, two of my favorite artists were part of the machine that was Rod Stewart’s backup crew.
First, the late Jeff Golub was his guitar player for many years before going out on his own into the contemporary jazz world. Jeff started with Rod in 1988, but if you want to be sure you are hearing him play with Rod, you have to go to the album released in 1991 called "Vagabond Heart." On four of the thirteen songs, Jeff is credited as a vocalist, but I am sure that he had his guitar in his hands too. Finally, in 1995, on the "A Spanner in the Works" album, Jeff is credited as a guitarist. Actually, he had left Rod in 1994 to led his own band called Avenue Blue but came back to do the recording with Rod.
Second, there’s Rick Braun, trumpeter extraordinaire, playing behind Rod on tour and several recordings. He first shows up in 1998 on the CD called "When We Were New Boys," the first actual CD released by Rod and Warner Brothers Music, but it’s no secret that he was playing in the band well before that. Rick also branched out with Jeff Golub in Avenue Blue, which served as another incubator of smooth jazz performers like Boney James, Chris Botti and Dave Koz.
However, if you see Bobby Caldwell as one of the band members, don’t get excited. He is not the smooth jazz crooner of "What You Won’t Do For Love" fame, but a hard rocking drummer who was one of the founders of the rock band Iron Butterfly. Which brings up another connection between smooth jazz and rock. Iron Butterfly’s biggest song was called "In-A-Gada-Da-Vida." According to Herbie Hancock in his new book Possibilities, Herbie writes, “Rumor had it that the song was actually titled ‘In the Garden of Eden,' but the singer was drunk and slurred the words.” Herbie, who shared management and the stage with them in the early 1970’s, should know.
With Rod Stewart's having turned 70 years old on January 10, all I want to say is Happy Birthday and Thank You for being the place where some of my favorite smooth jazz artists were allowed to hone their craft and develop their sounds. And Rod, you’re not too shabby yourself.
For the next five years, saxophonist Steve Coleman doesn’t have to worry about where his next dollar is coming from. The saxophonist, composer, music educator was nominated for and has been awarded a $625,000, no-strings-attached grant from the MacArthur Foundation.
The Foundation explains the intention of the grants, often called the Genius Grants, on their website: “The MacArthur Fellowship is not a lifetime achievement award; we are looking for individuals on the precipice of great discovery or a game-changing idea.”
Steve Coleman was born on Chicago’s south side in 1956, where he absorbed the records in his parent’s jazz collections, but called them “old folks' music.” Starting on a violin in public school, he moved to saxophone and found that the music that he had heard as a child flowed from his horn easily, but in transmuted forms. Attending Illinois Wesleyan University and then graduating from Roosevelt University in the middle 1970s, he played locally before joining the Mel Lewis Orchestra and touring the country.
Now settled in Allentown, Pennsylvania, he run the music co-op M-Base. The MacArthur Foundation website says that “M-Base (Macro-Basic Array of Structured Extemporizations), a cooperative that Coleman co-founded in the mid-1980s . . . provides a supportive environment for musical experimentation and original performance, and his workshops, seminars, online instruction, and interdisciplinary collaborations encourage younger musicians both here and abroad to push the boundaries of their craft.” With his grant, he is going to work on bringing music to different communities like he has done in Allentown.
In a piece on CBS Sunday Morning, Steve said “Improvising is like talking to someone, the audience, the other band members. It’s a conversation.”
Steve said that Sonny Stitt once told him that if he took care of his horn, it would take care of him. He said he didn’t believe it then, but he believes it now.
Blogger Lydia Barnes recalls a popular midday segment on WNUA, The Dreamset.
Dreaming is such a simple act. Everyone does it, whether they remember it or not. When it gets translated into music, it can take on many moods. It can go from a sweet and gentle to inflamed passions with the lick of a jazzy guitar. Drumbeats evoke dances, and the yowl of a sax can give nightmares.
When I started thinking about dreams in jazz, it was back in 1998 when I was trying to find three songs to put together for Rick O’Dell’s old Dreamset segment on WNUA. At my desk in a downtown high-rise office, I listened and I kept notes. I have the dated page I kept for just that purpose. Web crawlers weren’t that efficient back then, and there were no playlists posted. So to assist my brain, I had a notebook divided into various themes: happy love, sad love, divorce songs, food, sports, etc. When I heard things that I liked and fit the categories, on the paper they would go.
For me I have always found that the third song to be the hardest to find when doing a theme. I was trying to round out the "dream combo" with a nice horn instrumental, but I was having buzzards' luck.
I had Vanessa Williams' "Dreaming"firmly in mind, along with Keiko Matsui’s "Dreamwalk." As a matter of fact, "Dreamwalk" is a popular title, with both Peter White and Bob James jazzing it up in two totally different songs, but sadly they are not sax men. They went on the paper, but I didn’t include them in the set.
When I heard Larry Carlton play "Sleepwalk" on his guitar, I was thrilled, but it’s not what I needed. Yanni had a cut that called "One Man's Dream," but not enough brass for my purpose. Manhattan Transfer sang with James Taylor to jazz up the 50’s hit "Dream Lover," but even with plenty of scatting, they still didn’t have that sax punch.
I reached into my CD box for Rick Braun, hoping that his trumpet could be a good substitute for the sax. On Intimate Secrets, my first and favorite CD of his, there are four tunes that could be used. "In a Dream" was too long and "The Guardian of the Dreamer" had the right name in the title but not the right punch to end the set. "Midnight Caller" is my favorite cut, but a call at midnight is the kind of thing that ruins dreams, so I let it pass. And the cut that the CD was named for, "Intimate Secrets," could be interpreted as a dream, yet it didn’t seem right either. I put the notebook away and forgot about the Dreamy Dreamset.
Sadly, like so many other dreams, the Dreamset is a now whisper in the ether. Yet, in the light of an internet morning, while cleaning out a box of office supplies, I found the old notebooks. And as serendipity would have it, the SmoothJazzChicago.net playlist was showing just the song I needed to round out my trio! Kim Waters sexy sax on "Dreaming of You." Finally, I could say "Jazz Bingo" and toss out the paper! Thanks so much TuneGenie. Where were youwhen I needed you back in the 1990s?
While I was upstairs working this morning, my husband, Marty, yelled up to me that he was leaving to start his day. Anyway, he could tell by my tone of voice that something was wrong. He came upstairs to see what was amiss.
Rick, I had a complete meltdown. with tears streaming down my face about Jeff Golub’s death. Jeff was such an inspiration to me this past summer when Marty lost his sight for ten weeks in his left eye. Even on June 20th, 2014, as I was driving like a maniac to meet Marty at the surgeon's office, I kept telling myself it's going to be OK. No matter what happens, Jeff continued on with his life even though he lost the sight in BOTH eyes. I had to keep this information all bottled inside of myself, because never once did I mention Jeff's name to Marty. Marty is a worrier and telling him about Jeff's condition was not an option.
So during the summer, as I was changing his bandages, administering meds and gels into his eyes and scared to death that I wasn’t doing all of this correctly, I would take a deep breath and think of Jeff and kept telling myself, if Jeff and his family got through it, we can get through it.
I finally let the flood gates open and told Marty this story about this past summer. He almost fell over in shock and said: "thank you for not telling me.” Laying around here all summer knowing what Jeff was going through would have filled his head with more worries. He feels terrible that I kept all of this bottled up all summer and listened intently while I told him I first learned of Jeff Golub during the Rod Stewart years. A lot of people are remembering Jeff today for his career. I am remembering Jeff as being my little angel during this past summer during the #1 scariest time of my life since Marty and I have been together nine years. My heart breaks for his family. He was much much much too young to carry the weight of such life-changing health issues.
On a lighter note, my BFF Jackie is not interested one bit in smooth jazz. We've been friends since 7 years old, and I keep working on her. She was in LOVE LOVE LOVE with Jeff Golub. Jackie and I have seen Rod Stewart 21 times in concert. I sent Jeff's obituary to her and told her if Jeff can go from Rod Stewart to smooth jazz, she can too. I'll get her to a concert one of these years!
Thanks again Rick, for taking the time to read my email.
The past year was a home-going for a few great musicians, but the jazz side of heaven got a top notch revival when both Joe Sample and Wayne Henderson entered the gates.
As two of the four original Houstonians who created the Jazz Crusaders, the two moved to California together, played together and, coincidentally, died together in the same year.
Along with fellow Houston musicians Wilton Felder on sax and Stix Hooper on drums, they made marvelous music together until 1976 when Wayne Henderson decided to branch out to become a producer. Yet, the trombonist in him made him come back to the group in 1995. He taught at the California College of Music in Pasadena in 2007. Henderson died on April 4, 2014, at the age of 74 from heart failure.
Unfortunately, the beautiful hippie piano player is no longer out on the corner. Joe Sample walked away from the curb on September 12, 2014. Joe had remained a part of the Crusaders, through all its incarnations until the final album in 1991. We got to enjoy his solo career that started in the 1980s when he played with Eric Clapton, Steely Dan, George Benson, B.B. King, the Supremes and many others. Sample died back in Houston from lung cancer at the age of 75.
Iola Whitlock Brubeck, daughter of a California forest ranger, was the hidden, often unsung fifth member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet. For seventy years, she was wife, collaborator and manager. She and Dave met at what is now the University of the Pacific in 1941. Dave proposed that very night in the concert hall and they were married a year later. Iola finished her degree in 1945 while Dave was in the Army.
After the war, he struggled to get his career going. They even lived in a one room corrugated tin shack in the early years. She suggested that he and the quartet play colleges and, to that end, she wrote, offering their service to each one within driving distance of their home in San Francisco. Her efforts worked. In 1950, she helped him teach a one of the first Jazz appreciation courses in the nation and by 1953, the album Live at Oberlin was recorded at that college in Ohio. The series of albums from the campus concerts moved him into prominence.
A 1958 State Department-sponsored tour of Eastern Europe made the Brubecks semiofficial emissaries behind the Iron Curtain. As a result of that trip, the quintessential Brubeck song, "Take Five," was born. Paul Desmond, the alto sax man of the group composed the music and Iola and Dave wrote the lyrics. She wrote lyrics for many of his songs and choral works. Her battle with cancer ended on March 12, 2014, almost two years after Dave's death. She is survived by five of her six children, ten grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Horace Silver played with some of the biggest names in jazz during his early career in the 1950s. A prolific composer and marvelous pianist, he was called the originator of hard bop, a style which incorporates bebop, blues and gospel with a driving fast and tight rhythm.
Horace Silver and his Quintet did the album Song for My Father in 1965 for the Blue Note label after a trip to Brazil. The cover artwork features a photograph of Silver's father, John Tavares Silva, to whom the title song was dedicated. In the liner notes Horace says "My mother was of Irish and Negro descent, my father of Portuguese origin, He was born on the island of Maio, one of the Cape Verde Islands."
That title song is so good that parts of it has been incorporated into several other songs that went on to be big hits in several genres. Steely Dan used the beginning bars to build "Ricki Don’t Lose That Number." Stevie Wonder used the it in his hit "Don’t Worry ‘Bout A Thing" and Earth Wind and Fire used the opening bass note for their song "Clover."David Benoit played it whole on his cover album called Heroes.
Although, Dee Dee Bridgewater does a wonderful version of the song, she does not use the original lyrics written by Silver. It’s a simple poem that you’ll not hear on the album version of the song either. It goes as follows:
If there was ever a man, Who was generous, gracious and good, That was my dad, The man,
A human being so true, He could live like a king, 'Cause he knew, The real pleasure in life,
To be devoted to and always stand by me, So I’d be unafraid and free
His death was announced by Blue Note Records, the company for which he recorded from 1952 to 1979. He was 85 when he died at his home in New Rochelle, N.Y., June 18, 2014.
Ronny Jordan's guitar was silenced when, at age 51, he died of unknown causes on January 13, 2014. The self-taught acid jazz pioneer, who started with a ukulele and didn't pick up the guitar until he was twenty, mixed hip hop and funk into Miles Davis' So What, making it a dance floor hit in the 1990s.
This success brought him to the attention of Dave Brubeck and George Benson. In 2000, MOBO, the UK’s award platform for urban music, gave him nod as the best jazz act. He was also nominated for a Grammy for his album Brighter Day which was a top 10 Billboard hit that year. His song The Jackal was lip-synched by the actor Allison Janney in her role of CJ Cregg for the hit TV drama The West Wing. In 2001 the Gibson Company made him its Guitarist of the Year. Jordan kept touring to the very end, doing his last set on concerts in Italy.
Although the name Manhattan Transfer evokes thoughts of the subway, Tim Hauser used the front seat of a New York taxicab to gather the singers who comprised his two versions of the Grammy winning group. The first set of singers dissolved some months after their first album, Jukin’, was recorded in 1969. Tim's encounters with singers and musicians in his cab allowed him to bring together the 1972 version of Manhattan Transfer, which remained stable through the 70's and 80's.
Winning ten Grammys and being number one on the Downbeat and Playboy polls every year of the 1980s, the group's genre crossing tight harmonies, often done a capella within their songs, enchanted us. In 2007 they were voted the JazzTimes best vocal group of the year. The story ended for Tim, who was hospitalized for pneumonia just before a scheduled solo performance in Philadelphia, when he had a fatal heart attack this past October.