New Dimensions from Urban Elements

Urban Elements is a quintet of musicians from Sweden and Chile. I sampled this release simply based on the name of the group and was impressed. This is what contemporary jazz is about!

Acid/Electronic/Lounge/Chill Jazz from Living Room

Discovered Liquid Jazz by Living Room while hunting for new sounds tonight:

Try It Out Tuesdays – MM7 Secret Jazz

MM7 Secret JazzFrom Hungary comes today’s Try It Out Tuesdays offering: MM7 Secret Jazz is an electronica/jazz project of trumpeter Miklós Mákó. Miklós records for Beagle Beat Records, a jazz-focused micro-label in Budapest. Check the label out on MySpace to sample their artist roster, which covers a range of contemporary jazz styles.

Click the play button to hear “Bond Express” from the MM7 Secret Jazz project. If you like what you hear, click the Shopping Cart icon to buy it from Amazon.com.

Bond Express from MM7 Secret JazzMM7 Secret Jazz – Bond Express

Contemporary Jazz on Twitter in July

I’ve posted over 500 tweets of contemporary jazz news, release dates, and site information on Twitter in the last few months. It’s how I communicate quick contemporary jazz items of interest. In today’s quick-moving world, this is how I get most of my information – through brief, one-sentence notifications. Later, I can go back and read more about something or compose a blog post. Follow my tomorrowjazz tweets on Twitter!

I keep a list of my most recent tweets here on the site, but here are some items you might have missed.

  • Smooth jazz takes another blow as The Weather Channel replaces it with classic rock for Weather on the 8′s.
  • Miroslav Vitous’ new CD honors Weather Report http://is.gd/1oYMf
  • New release from jazz pianist Eldar coming August 25. Called Virtue, it has guests Nicholas Payton and Joshua Redman.
  • Pandora and three others might be ok but that doesn’t mean it’s smooth sailing Internet radio. http://is.gd/1sYhv
  • Mike Stern’s Big Neighborhood out 8/11 w/ Dave Weckl, MMW, Steve Vai, Esperanza Spalding, Eric Johnson, Terri Lyne Carrington, and more.
  • B.B. King calls George Benson “the best guitarist in the world in all kinds of music.” http://is.gd/1yQhp
  • One of today’s greatest jazz composers, Terence Blanchard, releases Choices on August 18th. Recorded in New Orleans. http://is.gd/1zHt7
  • Chuck Owen & The Jazz Surge release The Comet’s Tail: Playing The Compositions of Michael Brecker on 8/11 w/guest stars. http://is.gd/1AYmC
  • Pat Metheny writes about his upcoming “orchestrionics” recording. It’s going to be interesting. http://is.gd/1L7tI
  • Far Out Recordings-Brazilian Music Sampler Free at Amazon MP3 Store. With Marcos Valle, Joyce, Azymuth, Sabrina Malheiros. http://bacn.me/9ja
  • Didn’t know Larry Carlton was joining Steely Dan on six dates during their current tour.

Contemporary Jazz: How I Got Into It, Part 3

This is the third part of a three-part series reminiscing on how I got started with contemporary jazz 20 years ago and highlights since. Part one is here; part two here.

Eventually, I graduated from the University of Missouri but still stayed on as a volunteer announcer for KBIA for some time. I think at some point the evening contemporary jazz show was put to rest and I didn’t want to stay on for programming that didn’t interest me as much. It wasn’t long before I missed it. At the same time, I started learning this new way to make content for this thing called the World Wide Web. In 1995, I learned HTML, got a web host and created my first GIF. cJazz: The Contemporary Jazz Site was launched in January 1996. I recall it being one of the first 16 jazz sites indexed by Yahoo! (people added sites manually then; there was nothing like Google yet). I’ll never forget how I quickly received 15 email messages about the site and about half were outside the U.S. It really put the world in World Wide Web. I remember an email exchange with Rob Mounsey, getting a nice message from a doctor in Italy, and meeting Suzy Cline who was running a jazz hub called Jazz Stuff.

Most labels weren’t sure or unaware of the Web then but Randall Kennedy at Warner Bros. knew the deal. I think he had a WB Jazzspace site going earlier than other jazz labels. Michael Ricci launched AllAboutJazz.com, now the top jazz site on the Web. Larry Rosen, Dave Grusin, and Jon Diamond founded Jazz Central Station. Morrice Blackwell launched JazzReview.com, still a top jazz site to visit.

I spent five years building up ContemporaryJazz.com (I’d bought the domain name soon after the site launched). I worked on it almost every day for most of those years. Due to a major change in my life and some burnout, I sold the site in 2001. I later regretted that decision and was happy to be able to get the site back a couple of years ago. I won’t be giving it up again.

Contemporary Jazz: How I Got Into It, Part 2

This is the second part of a three-part series reminiscing on how I got started with contemporary jazz 20 years ago. Part one is here.

KBIA-FM, one of the top NPR stations in the country, had an evening contemporary jazz program that would have a life-altering affect. One night, I won a GRP sampler in a giveaway. When I went to the station to pick it up, I started talking with the music director and I guess I got talked into doing a tryout for the show. I had no broadcast experience. I remember a pronunciation sheet that taught me how to say Metheny and Corea. I gave it a try and before I knew it, I had a FCC license and was on the air from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Having unlimited access to contemporary jazz was a dream come true. I’d come in to listen to (and later get to participate in) calls from record label promoters the music director was taking. Fellow students and the KBIA staff would joke that they should be a cot in the studio for me since I would always cover for people. Eventually, the music director trusted me to help select the music. That was so awesome for me. To this day, I still am compelled to share music I like with people, which is why there is ContemporaryJazz.com Radio. That music director, Darren Hellwege, became a good friend. He was the best man at my wedding! The program director at that time was the organist. My time working at KBIA is a treasured part of my life. My next contemporary jazz highlight would also be in the media field: the World Wide Web!

Contemporary Jazz: How I Got Into It, Part 1

My contemporary jazz journey began 20 years ago, in college. In 1989, I was dating a girl who listened to contemporary jazz. She had cassettes of Spyro Gyra’s Point of View and David Sanborn’s A Change of Heart in her blue Honda. I was a bit familiar with modern jazz (a high school classmate had Light Years by the Chick Corea Elektric Band) but not knowledgeable. She and her mother and me took me to an Earl Klugh concert in St. Louis (he was touring behind his Solo Guitar recording). I was completely infatuated with this girl and I wanted to experience everything she enjoyed. When the relationship fell apart, I took an even stronger interest in the music because I didn’t want that part to end. I started buying Jazziz magazine. Based on the issue I bought (the one spotlighting the Happy Anniversary, Charlie Brown! compilation), I bought cassettes of the latest from Grover Washington, Jr. and Fattburger. I’d listen to these on my Walkman while serving as a student worker at the student loans department. Little did I know of the life-changing event coming soon.

Summer DVDs

There’s a handful of DVD and Blu-ray releases coming out this summer that jazz fans might be interested in. A Blu-ray version of Jamiroquai’s excellent 2003 Live at Montreux is on its way. New Morning concerts by Yellowjackets and Mike Stern are coming out on both DVD and Blu-ray. Go through the carousel below to see what else you can expect!

Remembering Michael Jackson

It’s hard to believe Michael Jackson is dead at the age of 50. I always imagined him having a comeback of sorts. A time when he rose above all the weirdness and rumors and reminded us why he was on top in the 80s. I just thought he had more to contribute. A last chapter on a high note.

From Herbie Hancock:

This is an unbelievable tragedy, first of all for his family, for his devout fans, for the world of music and for the world of culture. Michael was one of the most diligent creators. His passion flowed through every pore of his being. His sense of invention was unparalleled. Who else could have thought of the moonwalk and who else could have created such a unique sense of movement in dance. His contribution to music and music videos; Off the Wall, Thriller, We are the World are expressions of his consummate talent. Above all his compassion for serving humanity and desire to uplift and encourage excellence are etched in his legacy.

He changed the world.

From Quincy Jones:

For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don’t have the words. He was the consummate entertainer and his contributions and legacy will be felt upon the world forever. I’ve lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him.

Hiroshima Legacy

Legacy - East meets West contemporary jazz from HiroshimaI’ve been a fan of Hiroshima for a long time. I love contemporary jazz. I love Japanese arts, culture, and society. It’s been a natural fit. I’ve been recommending The Best of Hiroshima compilation for a long time. It’s been the best compilation of their music from their earlier recordings. It’s also been their only compilation…until now. The band is celebrating 30 years in the recording industry with a retrospective called Legacy. Legacy is eleven of the band’s more familiar songs from their first decade, re-recorded by the band’s current lineup. Led by founders Dan Kuramoto (on saxophone) and June Kuramoto (on koto), Legacy reminds you how their East Meets West sound became so popular (two of their first five records went gold). The songs are nicely balanced between faithful renditions and reworked versions that sound like what they might have created for live performances. I don’t know if Hiroshima’s old label is keeping Best of Hiroshima in circulation so I’m happy the band included some original arrangements. Tracks like “Turning Point,” “Thousand Cranes,” “One Wish,” and “I’ve Been Here Before” stand the test of time. The updated, extended version of “Another Place” works for me. “Hawaiian Electric” stays a little too familiar at first (the 80s keyboard sound could have been left behind) then goes salsa. Appropriately omnipresent is June, who plays the koto as beautifully as ever.

Dan Kuramoto sums up Legacy best: “I would like to think that there’s a heart and a voice within this music that doesn’t go out of style,” he says. “These songs are as fresh and meaningful to us today as they were the first time they were recorded. They’re not of a particular genre. They are our musical heart. They shift gears from Japanese to jazz to salsa to R&B and beyond. Throughout each piece, you can hear the echoes of all the experiences that have influenced us along the way.”

Look for Legacy from Hiroshima out on August 18 on the Heads Up label.

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