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Album Review

Pybus Groove Quartet - Good Evening (2011)

Artist: Pybus Groove Quartet
Title Of Album: Good Evening
Year Of Release: 2011
Label: La Riera Records
Genre: Jazz / Funk


1. Good Evening (6:04)
2. Natural Blend (6:18)
3. Green Tea (5:18)
4. Chatterbox (6:03)
5. Sweet Soul (6:34)
6. Fot-li (3:56)
7. Misterios al Descubierto (6:23)
8. Shamtime (5:16)

Pybus Groove Quartet was created by four well known and highly respected veterans of the Barcelona music scene: Dave Pybus, Toni Saigi Chupi, Jules Bikoko and Caspar St. Charles. The group plays “groove music “, hot and exciting instrumental music with roots in soul-jazz and jazz-funk of the 60’s and the 70’s. With a varied repertoire of original tunes, the band combines the inspiration and spontaneity of jazz improvisation with dance rhythms developed from the last fifty years of African American popular music.

During the following years, the group presented the CD all over Spain – in jazz festivals such as Terrassa, Figueres, Peñiscola, Pamplona, Granada, Ávila, Burgos, Reus, Alcúdia, Badalona, Girona and Albacete as well as in concerts in the Café Central or the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, or in the Festes de la Mercè in Barcelona.

Now, at the beginning of 2011, the group is releasing its new CD, “Good Evening “ which captures the excitement and the special atmosphere that the band is capable of creating in its live shows.

Dave Pybus - saxes
Originally from Canada, he’s lived in Barcelona for more than thirty years. He was a member of important local groups such as l’Orquestra Mirasol, Transatlantic or Princes of Time. He’s also worked with well known international artists such as Stevie Wonder, Thad Jones, Al Cohn and Jack MacDuff and has performed all over Spain with a great variety of jazz and funk groups.

Toni Saigi Chupi - keyboards
Born in Badalona, he is considered one of the pioneers of funk in Catalonia and is a charismatic stage performer. He’s also the cofounder of BSO, an important Spanish music production company. He’s a well-known producer of CDs and also a prize winning composer of film music ( Festival de Valladolid ) and music for TV commercials ( Cannes, San Sebastian )

Caspar St. Charles - drums
Originally from London, he studied music in the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Stylistically very versatile, he’s one of the most active musicians on the Barcelona scene. He's formed part of bands such as Traditional Tourist, Groove Unlimited and Phat Fred and has also worked with important artists such as Jackson Browne, Eddie Bo, George Braithe and Sharon Jones.

Jules Bikoko - bass
Born in Cameroon, he spent a large part of his musical career in Paris. He worked there with groups such as Groove Gang and Laurent Coq Quartet. He’s also accompanied many international jazz greats such as Frank Wess, Sonny Fortune, Peter King and Minu Cinelu. During the last few years he’s been the bass player, producer and musical director of the well-known Barcelona group, Macaco.

Smooth Jazz Network News ©

U-Nam Raising Funds to Complete Benson Tribute

Like something out of a PBS pledge drive, French guitarist U-Nam is asking fans to join his current project, a tribute album to George Benson -- by kicking in some dough to complete it.  In a reflection of the turbulent state of the music business, U-Nam is going "grassroots," appealing directly to lovers of Benson's music.  He writes on his website, "My only goal in these ever-changing days is to do GREAT MUSIC...and share it directly with you, the fans.  That's why I'm paying tribute to my hero, George Benson....right now, you and I need to raise more money to complete the project, so I'm counting on you and you Benson fans to help me reach that goal!"  The album, already underway, features guest artists including George Duke, Najee, Phil Perry and Patrice Rushen.  Benson himself will be writing the liner notes.  U-Nam promises to keep fans abreast of the progress with special sneak peeks, a dedicated website and more.  The full album should be out this fall, with several singles ahead of it.

Berks Jazz Fest Draws Near

One of the year's biggest music festivals continues to add stars as it nears its kickoff.  The 21st annual Berks Jazz Fest near Reading, PA is scheduled for March 25 thru April 3.  Among the dozens of acts scheduled to perform are The Rippingtons, Fourplay, Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio, Pieces of A Dream with Phil Perry, Chuck Loeb, the Brian Bromberg Quartet and the Dave Brubeck Quartet.  Gerald Albright and Friends will also perform, bringing together Albright with Brian Culbertson, Rick Braun and more.  Nick Colionne has stepped in to replace an ailing Marc Antoine at the event.  One of the highlights of the Festival is the annual All-Star Jam; this year, participants will include Euge Groove, Rick Braun, Gerald Albright, Phillippe Saisse and Brian Bromberg.  For more info, head here.


 Norah Jones, Michael Buble Work with Tony Bennett


To mark his upcoming 85th birthday, legendary crooner Tony Bennett is joining forces with some other great singers for a new album.  The project is a follow-up to 2006's Duets: An American Classic, which paired him with Sting, Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand, among others.  This new album, currently being recorded in Nashville, L.A. and New York, brings Bennett together with Norah Jones, Michael Buble, k.d.lang, Josh Groban and Sheryl Crow.  Other names are reportedly in the pipeline, as well.  The project will be part of a series of events to mark Bennett's big day in August.





Quincy Jones to Be Honored at White House

Producer Quincy Jones is set to be honored today [March 2] as President Obama presents him with the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal. He's among 20 recipients, including author Harper Lee ["To Kill a Mockingbird"], actress Meryl Streep and singer James Taylor.  According to a statement, Jones was selected for "his extraordinary contributions as a musician, composer, record producer and arranger. As a master inventor of musical hybrids, he has mixed pop, soul, hip-hop,jazz, classical, African and Brazilian music into many dazzling fusions, traversing virtually every medium, including records, live performances, movies and television." 



Ray Charles … Live!

In the half-century between his earliest recordings in the 1950s and his death in 2004, Ray Charles ascended to icon status by leaving his mark on virtually every form of American popular music that emerged in the latter half of the 20th century. Nowhere was this more evident than in his live performances, where one was likely to hear shades of blues, soul, R&B, jazz, gospel, country and more in a single evening — indeed, sometimes in a single song.

All of these subtle shades and styles are evident in Concord Music Group’s April 5, 2011, reissue of Ray Charles Live in Concert. Originally released as a 12-song LP on ABC-Paramount in early 1965, Live in Concert captured Charles at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in September 1964. More than four decades later, the CD reissue brings additional depth and perspective to the 1964 recording with the help of 24-bit remastering, seven previously unreleased tracks and extensive new liner notes that provide additional historical context to what is already considered a pivotal recording in Charles’ overall body of work.

“There could be no more uplifting live musical experience than digging Ray Charles and his mighty orchestra in their prime,” says roots music historian Bill Dahl in his new liner notes. Indeed, the 15-piece orchestra backing Ray on this date — assembled just a few years earlier in 1961 — boasted no less than a dozen horns, including formidable saxophonists David “Fathead” Newman, Hank Crawford and Leroy “Hog” Cooper, all of whom had been with Ray since his days as a leader of smaller combos. “This amazing aggregation,” says Dahl, “was every bit as conversant with the intricacies of modern jazz as with the gospel-blues synthesis that Brother Ray pioneered during the mid-1950s, when he began accruing serious cred as the father of what would soon become known as soul music.”

Chris Clough, Concord’s manager of catalog development and producer of the Live in Concert reissue, notes that the Shrine Auditorium performance took place at a transitional moment in Ray’s career, just as he was transcending the confines of R&B and entering the mainstream by demonstrating a firm grasp of various other genres. “He’d made his ascendance in the early ’60s, and he had the world at his feet by this time,” says Clough. “He’d basically invented soul, he’d done R&B, he’d conquered country and he was on his way to becoming an American icon.”

In the span of 19 songs, Live in Concert illuminates the route to that destination. Ray wastes no time taking his audience on a ride from the jazzy big-band groove of “Swing a Little Taste” to the Latin-flavored “One Mint Julep” to the blues-gospel hybrid of his classic “I Got a Woman.” Although his live rendition of “Georgia On My Mind” on this date didn’t make the cut on the original LP, the song is a standout track on the reissue, thanks to his complex organ runs and the flute lines moving in counterpoint with his rich vocals.

Clough considers the yearning “You Don’t Know Me” and the previously unreleased “That Lucky Old Sun” to be among the high points of the recording. “It sounds like he’s really baring his soul on those two tracks, and they just sound incredible,” says Clough, noting that Charles was unaware that tape was rolling during this performance. “This particular date was at the end of their tour, and the performance seems a little loose as a result — in a good way, and in a less slick way.”

The sly and swaggering “Makin’ Whoopee” is delivered completely off the cuff, with drummer Wilbert Hogan, bassist Edgar Willis, and guitarist Sonny Forriest improvising an accompaniment behind what Dahl calls “Ray’s luxurious piano and breathy, supremely knowing vocals.”
In the home stretch, Ray introduces the Raeletts, the female backing vocalists who served as his foil for some of his biggest hits. Together they work their way through “Don’t Set Me Free,” the comical “Two Ton Tessie” and the torchy “My Baby” before climaxing with the churning “What’d I Say.”

“Few performers were less predictable onstage than Ray Charles,” says Dahl. “And nobody did it better.”

Photo credit: The Ray Charles Foundation

 Grace Kelly’s Very Good Year

In February, 18-year-old saxophonist Grace Kelly won the 2011 ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Award. And if that prestigious honor isn’t enough to launch Kelly’s new year on a sunny note, she’ll also by making her debut on NPR’s nationally syndicated radio show JazzSet in March during a segment featuring the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival All-Star Quintet.

Taped in May 2010 in Washington D.C., the quintet includes, in addition to Kelly, bassist Esperanza Spalding, pianist Geri Allen, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and JazzSet’s longtime host, vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater. The first half of the concert focuses on the music of Mary Lou Williams while the second half showcases music from the various quintet members; selections from both halves will be heard on JazzSet, which can be heard on 110 NPR affiliates across the country. Check your local station for dates and times or listen on demand at

Kelly is currently celebrating the January release of her most recent PAZZ Productions album, Man With the Hat. Consisting of seven standards and originals written by both Kelly and Phil Woods, the disc features and pays tribute to Woods, inaugurating the great alto saxophonist’s 80th birthday year.

For more information, go to

Photo credit: Jimmy Katz




Charlie Haden To Play The Barbican With Quartet West and The Liberation Music Orchestra

The Barbican in London is to host a two-night stint by Charlie Haden, one of the great bassists in jazz, showcasing two remarkable bands he has been associated with over the years, Quartet West and the Liberation Music Orchestra.

To take place on 21 and 22 May (with Quartet West on the 21st followed the next night by the LMO) the opening concert celebrates a quarter century of Quartet West the romantically inclined group that luxuriates in Haden’s love of the great ballads and showtunes of yesteryear. The concert will also feature some guest singers to be announced to coincide with the band’s latest album Sophisticated Ladies.

The Liberation Music Orchestra by contrast has for over 40 years stood up for what it believes in with songs of protest and revolution pivotal to the orchestra’s artistic vision. Co-led by Haden and Carla Bley the orchestra will also feature some UK players joining for the concert including Jason Yarde, Andy Sheppard and John Parricelli.



Listen To A Rare 1969 Miles Davis Interview

24-Minutes of Miles Davis Outlooks

With a new Miles Davis companion guide right around the corner from release later this month on eBook format and a physical paperback edition following shortly thereafter, there is a lot to be excited about. In the weeks leading up to its release other Miles Davis goodies have been uncovered and released such as a new "Bitches Brew Live" CD available from Columbia/Legacy Recordings and a newly uploaded rare 1969 interview from the In "A Silent Way" era.

The eBook "Miles: The Companion Guide To The Autobiography" which is tentatively slated for a late February release this year in Apple's iBookstore (for iPad), Amazon's Kindle Store (for Kindle), Barnes & Noble's NOOKbooks (for Nook), and Sony's Reader Store (for Sony Reader) respectively, features many supplemental sections with added extra value content on what the author seen as already a good book to begin with.

The latest addition which has been added to the book last week is a section featuring a listing of all Miles Davis' video and audio interviews that can be found either on DVD, from TV, and online. While maybe not a definitive listing due to some interviews continually popping up and being uncovered from time-to-time, it is as comprehensive a list you can get for the time being. One fine example of a great interview you can find cited within the pages of the new book is a rare 1969 interview with Miles done by a group of Japanese journalists just five days after the release of "In A Silent Way".

If you haven't heard it before, be one of the first now to listen to this long, in-depth, 24-minute interview in which Miles speaks about his fashion, producer Teo Macero , Gil Evans , and "In A Silent Way" among other things.

Listen on YouTube now
Part 1:
Part 2:

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