8 from 1988 – Playlist Online!

Take a step into the past with these eight tracks from contemporary jazz releases that came out in the year 1988! Hear music from Kim Pensyl’s first series of sketches, Al Jarreau feeling so good, David Benoit taking every step along the way, and David Sanborn missing someone so far away. It’s one of a number of mixes I hope to be putting up on 8tracks in the future.

Click on the Play button in the lower left corner of the blown-up image below to listen right now!

Ramsey Lewis Releases 80th Recording

Ramsey Lewis has pulled out his Fender Rhodes and enlisted his Electric Band for his 80th recording. Ramsey, Taking Another Look features Lewis’ favorite tunes including a new edit of the original “Sun Goddess” recording featuring Earth, Wind & Fire and a new rendition of the Stevie Wonder penned “Living for the City”. After headlining so many albums, it’s truly saying something when Lewis states that “this album is definitely among the top five.”

Ramsey, Taking Another Look will be released on the Hidden Beach label on September 20th.


Top of the Charts – July 2006, 2001, 1996, 1986

Here’s the top-selling contemporary jazz albums, according to Billboard magazine, in mid-July of years past.

25 years ago: Larry Carlton, Alone/But Never Alone
15 years ago: Quincy Jones, Q’s Jook Joint
10 years ago: Brian Culbertson, Nice and Slow
5 years ago: Wayman Tisdale, Way Up

New Contemporary Jazz Discussion Area!

The ContemporaryJazz.com group on Facebook has been upgraded! Come join the community and discuss the music you love, post pictures, add links, and more. Today’s topic, the always popular: what are you listening to right now?

Amazon vs. iTunes: June Jazz

There seems to be a higher-than-usual number of contemporary jazz recordings coming out this month. Here’s a quick breakdown of what the latest music costs at iTunes vs. the Amazon MP3 shop.

  Amazon iTunes
Pat Metheny What’s It All About $8.99 $11.99
Michael Franks Time Together $6.99 $9.99
Corea, Clarke & White Forever $15.00 $19.99
Paul Taylor Prime Time $6.99 $9.99
New Gary Burton Quartet Common Ground $8.99 $9.99

Pat Metheny Introduces What’s It All About

Available June 14.

Love for Japan: A Charity Project founded by Bluey (Incognito)

New Grammy Category Reorganization Eliminates Contemporary Jazz

Grammy AwardIt’s going to be a lot tougher for modern jazz instrumentalists to get recognition starting next year. The number of categories to be recognized at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2012 will drop from 109 to 78. You can check out the Recording Academy’s press release for the reasons but here’s what is of interest to contemporary jazz fans.

There is no longer a Best Contemporary Jazz Album or a Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual Or Group category. The Jazz field drops to four awards: Best Improvised Jazz Solo, Best Jazz Vocal Album, Best Jazz Instrumental Album, and Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. On one side, I like that there doesn’t have to be an adjective to separate contemporary jazz from other jazz. It’s part of the big jazz family. On the other hand, it’s going to be tougher to compete with every type of jazz.

The Pop field also sees a category eliminated that contemporary jazz artists were frequently nominated in: Best Pop Instrumental Performance. Spyro Gyra and George Benson are artists that immediately come to mind that were nominated in that category in the last few years. Best Pop Instrumental Album remains so there is a chance there. Bela Fleck and Fourplay have been nominees in the category.

In another blow to instrumentals, the Best Rock Instrumental Performance has also been eliminated. I remember Pat Metheny winning that years ago for “The Roots of Coincidence” but don’t recall any other jazz artists being in contention since.

What are your thoughts on these changes? Add a comment!

Top Names Assemble for Jazz for Japan Benefit Recording

Jazz for Japan benefit recordingJazz For Japan is a benefit album recorded in two days by 25 of the top jazz musicians in the world benefiting the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan. The recordings took place last week in Los Angeles at Capitol Studios in Hollywood. Legendary and Grammy nominated performers include: Kenny G, Christian McBride, Marcus Miller, George Duke, Rickey Minor, Tom Scott, Billy Childs, Boney James, Lee Ritenour, Keiko Matsui, Bob James, and many others.

Larry Robinson, Jazz For Japan producer states; “This project came about after discussing the tragic aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan with my co-workers. I told them that many of the American jazz musicians tour Japan numerous times a year. It was at that moment the seeds of Jazz For Japan were born. Within five days we called all our jazz friends and put together this truly amazing line up of musicians to record at Hollywood’s famous Capitol Recording Studio who all donated their time.”

The album features jazz standards including “Maiden Voyage,” “Body & Soul,” “Watermelon Man,” “So What,” “Sophisticated Lady,” etc. along with a DVD release including interviews with the artists stating their support and sympathy for the Japanese people. “You, the Japanese people inspire us with your resilience. We are trying to send our strength with what we have – and that’s music,” states Steve Gadd (drummer, performing on “Maiden Voyage”, and “So What”).

Jazz For Japan is being produced by Avatar Records and is available now worldwide via iTunes with profits benefiting the International Red Cross in Japan.

Roy Ayers Project Documentary

The Roy Ayers Project is first and foremost a documentary, produced by digital media professionals, telling the life, music, and philosophy of the great Roy Ayers. It is also art, talented artists who use their gifts to express themselves through canvas, murals, and other mediums capturing the spirit of Roy Ayers. It is also performance, bringing together Roy Ayers himself with talented musicians to perform live at venues across the country. The Roy Ayers Project is about sharing the essence and legacy of one of the greatest musicians ever to live. This trailer is the first installment of the documentary, which features the legendary drummer from The Roots, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson.

Keep track of this must-see project on Twitter, Facebook, and on the Web.