So Nice (Summer Samba) [Mario Caldato Jr. Remix] - Bebel Gilberto
Cubanova - Marc Antoine
When You're Near
After rhyming over Premier's doctored jazz beats in Gang Starr, Guru decided to take it to the next level, employing the talents of actual jazz musicians to create the grooves over which he would flow. Coming off like a jazzier extension of the Brand New Heavies' Heavy Rhyme Experience: Vol. 1, Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 brought together a diverse group of jazz cats both old-school and new, including Roy Ayers, Donald Byrd, Lonnie Liston Smith, Ronny Jordan, and Courtney Pine. Guru even enlisted the serene pipes of Carleen Anderson and N'Dea Davenport and acted as something of an international hip-hop ambassador when he flipped "Le Bien, Le Mal" with French mic pro MC Solaar. From the Blue Note-style cover art to the hepcat spoken-word intro, this package is pure hip-hop jazz music. Jazz purists may wish to note that the grooves lean heavily toward the funkier 1970s era of jazz, and hardcore hip-hop heads my be turned off by the mellower musical stance. But then again, this is neither pure jazz nor hardcore hip-hop but rather an extension of the two. --Spence Abbott
Somethin' Deep (Album Version)
Whether with the groundbreaking group Rufus or on her own, Chaka Khan has one of the most distinctive and influential voices in R&B. She's able to wail at full emotive throttle or deliver a love song with nuanced jazz-inflected tones, and sometimes even do both within the same track. This 1996 collection gathers some of Khan's biggest and most beloved solo efforts. Included here are the classic tangy attack of "Ain't Nobody" and the turntable-enhanced smash "I Feel for You" (penned by admirer and recent collaborator Prince). There's also the anthemic original version of "I'm Every Woman," the moody "Through the Fire," and her 1996 collabo with Me'Shell Ndegeocello, "You Never Miss the Water." As all great vocalists do, Khan takes control of every song, breathing fire and life into the words and interpreting them without overpowering their meaning. One listen to Epiphany and it's abundantly clear that, even though she's been AWOL from the charts for a while, Chaka Khan remains a founding mother of soul and funk, armed with a potent voice that can both illuminate and elevate. --Amy Linden
Old School Lovin'
Her sultry debut, "Precious," was perfectly acceptable, but on her sophomore release "A Love Supreme," Chante Moore spread her wings and absolutely soared. Masterfully combining classic and modern elements of R&B, Chante created one of the most memorable soul albums of the 90's.
The most noticeable improvement over its predecessor is the number of thick, solid midtempo grooves, whereas her debut was largely stuck in ultra-slow ballad mode. "This Time" takes the tropical-influenced rhythms of her first single, "Love's Taken Over," and raises the stakes by coming up with an equally slick groove and another set of flawless vocals. A cover of Deniece Williams' "Free" has a driving groove behind it (not to mention a gorgeoud fluglehorn and backing vocals), and "Searchin" lays down a bass-heavy beat underneath Chante's spoken-word stylings (think Madonna, "Justify My Love").
But the ballads are just as distinct and original as well. The slightly-distorted percussion of "Your Love's Supreme" are a striking contrast to her smooth-as-silk vocals, ditto for the window-rattling rhythms of "Soul Dance." Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis work their usual percussive magic on the seductive "Mood," and the rapid-fire verses juxtapositioned against a laid-back groove make "I'm What You Need" a near-perfect gem.
The only true faults of the record rest at the very end: "Am I Losing You" skirts the realm of maudlin, and "Thou Shalt Not" is so bland a pop ballad it's a wonder it made the album, considering the quality of material that comes before it. But one listen to "Old School Lovin" will settle any score; sounding every bit like a 70's record (this was before the sound of scratchy vinyl became so popular and therefore overused, so it's enjoyable here) Chante sings the joys of old-fashioned romance, and the production, arrangement, vocals, and hook are all beyond reproach.
The same could be said most of the whole album. Mature and stunningly stylish, "A Love Supreme" proved Chante Moore to be a most significant figure in contemporary R&B.
Gather Ye Rosebuds
I Can't Stop The Rain
An expressive and versatile vocalist, Carl Anderson worked in theatrical productions and recorded soul, pop, rock, and fusion dates. He was born in Lynchburg, VA, and moved to Washington in 1969. Anderson sang with the rock band Second Eagle before relocating to Los Angeles in the early '70s and joining Motown in 1971.
While working with Stevie Wonder on some songs that were never issued, Anderson began acting. He was in both the film and stage productions of Jesus Christ Superstar during the early and mid-'70s, and also made appearances in several L.A. clubs. CBS talent scout Larkin Arnold signed Anderson to his label in 1980, and Richard Rudolph produced his Columbia debut, Absence Without Love, in 1982. It didn't attract much attention, but the second LP, On & On, included the single "Magic" and duet "It's the Love" with Vanesse Thomas, which did well internationally.
He cut two more LPs for the label, and the 1986 release Carl Anderson earned him his lone pop hit, the duet "Friends and Lovers" with soap star Gloria Loring that made it to the number two spot. Anderson recorded with Nancy Wilson and Weather Report in 1987; his duet with Wilson, "Forbidden Lover," won critical praise. He recorded An Act of Love for Polydor in 1988, and Pieces of a Heart and Fantasy Hotel for GRP in 1990 and 1992, respectively. His acting career continued as well, with appearances in the television programs Hill Street Blues and Hotel and the film The Color Purple. Anderson passed away on February 23, 2004 after a battle with leukemia. ~ Ron Wynn, All Music Guide
You Should Be Mine(Don't Waste Your Time)
Brian McKnight grew up in a family where music came naturally. He was a member of the church choir along with his immediate family; his grandfather was the director. With a gospel upbringing, McKnight explored other genres of music. Still in his early teens, he exercised his writing ambitions by penning instrumentals (soft jazz, easy listening). He formed a band and began performing his originals at local venues. By the age of 18, McKnight had secured a publishing deal. His calling to the national scene manifested itself when his older brother Claude and the group he was a member of, Take 6, signed a recording contract with a major label.
After sending out numerous demos to various record companies, McKnight's tape drew the interest of Mercury Records president Ed Eckstine (son of Billy Eckstine). Eckstine was so impressed with McKnight's sound that the young artist was signed to a deal within two weeks. McKnight's first release on Mercury was "The Way Love Goes," peaking at number 11 after 19 weeks on the Billboard R&B charts. His two follow-up singles barely cracked the Billboard R&B Top 60, including "Love Is," a duet with Vanessa Williams featured on Beverly Hills 90210. Ironically, that single peaked at number three on the Billboard pop charts, introducing McKnight to a crossover audience.
In addition to being a singer, McKnight is a songwriter, multi-talented musician, arranger, and producer. The success he has achieved as producer and songwriter on his own projects has facilitated his popularity as a producer and songwriter for other artists. However, the Buffalo native retained the services of hip-hop producer Sean "Puffy" Combs on the release of his 1997 CD Anytime, which features the club-flavored single "You Should Be Mine." A Christmas album, Bethlehem, followed in 1998, and a year later McKnight returned with Back at One. Superhero from 2001 kicked off with the surprisingly rock title track while 2003's U Turn was a fairly straightforward and ballad-filled affair. A divorce and some time playing guard for the California ABA basketball team the Ontario Warriors kept McKnight out of the musical picture for a couple years before 2005's lush Gemini marked his return. Ten followed in 2006. ~ Craig Lytle, All Music Guide
Get'n Over You (feat. Lori Perry)
Very rare these days...usually one or two songs, but Brian has put together a whole list, each one worth really listening to, you know, over and over.... This is smooth jazz at it's best!..... I did get hung up on #3, "A Secret Garden", a real nice tune, something to listen to, sitting with your 'significant other', while you stare out at the ocean (I live at the beach)...then there's #7, "It's Only You". Since I'm a bassplayer and have listened to Wayman Tisdale for quite a while, it's a real treat! Trust me, #7 is worth cranking up....and his bass solo is totally awesome (playing on top of the bass track he laid down)! This is one of those CDs you could never get tired of. I can't wait for his next project. I'm hoping Brian never looses his passion for music, keeps playing from 'the heart'. Thanks Brian. Don't ever loose 'it'.....
You'll Never Find (Album Version
Even though Brian Culbertson might be categorized as jazz lite, his music has enough "oomph" to keep you interested. The talented composer/arranger/keyboardist/trombonist's music has maturity that is, at times, beyond his years, and Culbertson credits his dad with helping him develop an ear for the type of music he makes. His father, Jim Culbertson, a respected high school jazz band director and trumpeter, cultivated a love of sanguine sounds for a young Brian, who eagerly listened to anything his dad listened to. Their Decatur, IL, home would be alive with the recorded sounds of Maynard Ferguson, Buddy Rich, the Brecker Brothers, and David Sanborn. Growing up, Culbertson also listened to '70s R&B/pop/funk bands like Blood, Sweat & Tears, Tower of Power, and Earth, Wind & Fire. Culbertson began his musical training at the age of eight with piano lessons; at nine he moved to drums, at ten trombone, and at 12 bass. Bored with classical recital pieces, he began composing in junior high. By his freshman year in high school, he was experimenting with the then-new Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer and an old four-track recorder in the basement of his parents' home. His dedication earned him six individual and five group Down Beat student awards.
During his high-school years, he started getting into MIDI sequencing and synthesizers. He couldn't find players who were able to play his songs on the level he wanted as most of his peers were into heavy metal. So Culbertson, who cites pop producer/songwriter David Foster (Earth, Wind & Fire's "After the Love Is Gone") as one of his strongest influences, learned how to play all the parts himself. After graduation, Culbertson headed to Chicago to begin studies in the music program at DePaul University. On campus, he began to run into high-level musicians and started playing in a band. A family friend helped Culbertson get a deal with Mesa/Blue Moon in 1994. In the bedroom of the apartment he shared with three college buddies, Culbertson single-handedly recorded his debut album, Long Night Out. The album spent ten consecutive weeks in the Top Five of the adult contemporary charts. On his follow-up album, Modern Life, Culbertson eschewed the one-man band approach in favor of a live band made up of some of the best musicians in Chicago, plus stellar saxophonist Gerald Albright. He's since put out several other albums, including After Hours (1995), Secrets (1997), and Somethin' Bout Love (1999). Culbertson's productions include albums by Bob Mamet and Steve Cole. Having gotten into composing advertising jingles, Culbertson has set his sights on soundtracks. In 2001 the pianist (who also could play the trombone, trumpet, and percussion as well) released Nice & Slow, followed by Come on Up in 2003. Two years later he issued It's on Tonight, and in 2006 Soulful Christmas, a collection of holiday favorites as well as an original. ~ Ed Hogan, All Music Guide
Cruising For Bruising (Album Version)
Vocalist Basia Trzetrzelewska spent a couple of years in the pop band Matt Bianco, an offshoot of Blue Rondo à la Turk, before she launched a solo career in 1987. With the musical assistance of Matt Bianco's Danny White, Basia developed a subtle cocktail jazz-pop which was first showcased on her 1987 debut album, Time and Tide. Supported by the singles "New Day for You" and "Time and Tide," the record became a hit in Europe and America, where the album went platinum. Her second record, 1990's London Warsaw New York, was just as successful, but her third album, 1994's Sweetest Illusion, failed to find an audience. Clear Horizon: The Best of Basia followed in 1998. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide
Every Time I Open My Eyes
Smooth jazz saxophonist André Ward was born and raised in Chicago. His first instrument, which he took up at age eight, was the snare drum. He later moved to trumpet and tenor saxophone before settling on alto saxophone and becoming sufficiently proficient to earn a music-performing scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Based in Boston, he played internationally and did session work for such artists as Freddie Jackson. He was signed to Orpheus Music and released his debut solo album, Feelin' You, in October 2001. It reached number four on Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart and also appeared on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. His second album, Steppin' Up, released in March 2004, was similarly successful. ~ William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide