Thursday, September 23, 2021

Montclair Jazz Fest Announces Lineup for Downtown Jamboree on Sep. 25

Christian McBride, Billy Hart, The Baylor Project,
Alicia Olatuja, Emmet Cohen, Zaccai Curtis,
Camille Thurman, Rudresh Mahanthappa,
Jazz House Collective, Danielle Ponder + more
Headline 2021 MONTCLAIR JAZZ FEST Grand Finale Week

On the heels of a magical summer series of evening concerts in July and all-day swinging block parties in August attended by thousands of music fans, the Montclair Jazz Fest Grand Finale features the Downtown Jamboree, a jam-packed exciting full day of free inspiring live music and activities on Saturday, September 25, 1:00 PM - 9:00 PM, preceded by two nights of special events on September 22 and 23.

Presented by BDP Holdings, LLC and Montclair Center BID, the festival will feature internationally acclaimed headliners, regional favorites and emerging talent on four stages spanning an all-pedestrian Bloomfield Avenue, the main artery of downtown Montclair, from Lackawanna Plaza to South Park. The nearly half-mile long jazz playground will feature more than 100 artisan food and craft vendors from across the town and region and a Family Jazz Discovery Zone with partners Montclair Art Museum, Montclair Public Library and the YMCA of Montclair.

Produced by JAZZ HOUSE KiDS, one of the nation’s foremost jazz education organizations for young people with its Artistic Director and festival curator, 7-time GRAMMY Award-winning bassist Christian McBride, the festival celebrates the vibrant and diverse town of Montclair and its many music fans. Winner of three consecutive "People’s Choice Awards'' for Favorite Music Festival, the Montclair Jazz Fest presents a diverse range of styles, ages, and talent featuring gospel, soul, Latin and traditional jazz.

The Grand Finale showcases powerhouse jazz vocalists and instrumentalists delivering dynamic live performances and much more. Headliners include:

Christian McBride All-Stars featuring Mike Stern + Chris Potter
The Baylor Project
Alicia Olatuja
Billy Hart Quartet
Zaccai Curtis Afro-Cuban Quintet playing Cubop (Cuban bebop)
Camille Thurman Quintet
Rudresh Mahanthappa “Hero Trio” featuring Gene Lake
Emmet Cohen Trio
JAZZ HOUSE Collective in tribute to Roy Hargrove 
Danielle Ponder (performing at the Blue in Green on Thursday)
JAZZ HOUSE All-Star Alumni Ensembles

One of the highlights each year at the Montclair Jazz Fest is finding out which incredible artists Christian McBride will put together for his set. This year, McBride's All-Star Band will feature heralded saxophonist Chris Potter and one of the greatest contemporary jazz guitarists of his time, Mike Stern.  Earlier this year, Christian teamed up with his label Mack Avenue Records and with hi-res streaming and download service QoBuz for a special recording called with Q Sessions. "For the date I put together a special group featuring one of my favorite guitarists of all time, Mike Stern,” explained McBride. “It was such a great day in the studio that I wanted to bring that to the festival and have invited another amazing artist and good friend, Chris Potter to join us...I can't wait!"
JAZZ HOUSE KiDS mission in action and its commitment to fostering the next generation of jazz musicians will be on full display on Montclair Jazz Fest street stages which will feature ensembles led by talented JAZZ HOUSE alumni. Since its inception18 years ago, the award-winning nonprofit, which taps into America's original art form to transform lives, has invested $13.5 million in year-round jazz education, mentoring and leadership programs that bridge the gap in the arts. Opening doors and possibilities for thousands of students aged 8-18 each year, the organization works in under-resourced schools, leads after-school programs in the JAZZ HOUSE studios in Montclair, NJ and presents community programming. The JAZZ HOUSE legacy grows with the long list of young talented musicians who got their start at the JAZZ HOUSE making a name for themselves on the jazz scene today -- Matthew Whitaker, Julian Lee, Immanuel Wilkins, Coleman Hughes, Zoe Obadia, Isaiah Thompson to name a few.  

According to Melissa Walker, founder + president of JAZZ HOUSE KiDS and the creator of the Montclair Jazz Festival, the opportunity to expand partnerships and work with the Montclair Township and Essex County officials to close Bloomfield Avenue for the Downtown Jamboree was an important move, coming out of an unprecedented year of hardship for many local businesses and individuals.  

"With the right ingredients, we knew the Montclair Jazz Fest could be a powerful tool to help bring our community come back together again. By expanding the festival offering over three months, from July to September, allowed us to stretch out and put a lot of musicians to work to thrill our fans and help boost local business," said Melissa Walker. "The Montclair Jazz Fest embodies so much that is wonderful about our cherished Montclair community -- resiliency, access, inclusion, diversity, multi-generational engagement, mentorship, youth development and public-private partnerships."

"The Downtown Jamboree in September will build on this community spirit for a mega day of coming together with a shared passion for arts and music -- one of the many things that makes Montclair a destination town for people all over the region," she said.

Leading up to the Downtown Jamboree on Saturday, the festival will host a “Jazz Goes to the Movies” film screening on Wednesday, September 22 and “Blue in Green: Cocktails and a Concert in the Garden,” a gala featuring vocalist Danielle Ponder on Thursday, September 23. For the latest information about line up and schedules, visit the Montclair Jazz Fest website.

Both McBride and Walker are available for interviews about the Montclair Jazz Fest and JAZZ HOUSE KiDS organization.

For more information on the Montclair Jazz Festival, please visit:

Terell Stafford |"Without You, No Me" | Available September via BCM&D Records

Terell Stafford and The Temple University Jazz Band
THonor The Legacy of Jimmy Heath On Their
Upcoming Release "Without You, No Me"

Album Features Heavy Hitters
Christian McBride and Joey DeFrancesco

Available September via BCM&D Records

January 19, 2020, bears a bittersweet tinge in Terell Stafford’s memory. On one hand, Temple University’s Director of Jazz and Instrumental Studies recalls that day with a great deal of pride and celebration, as the Temple University Jazz Band took top honors in the inaugural Jack Rudin Jazz Championship at Jazz at Lincoln Center. 

That same night, however, Stafford received the sad news that the legendary saxophonist Jimmy Heath had died at the age of 93. Since their days touring together with the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Big Band, Stafford had been fortunate to call Heath a friend, a colleague, a mentor, and a confidante. 

“Jimmy Heath was an incredible human being,” Stafford says. “When I got the phone call saying that he had just passed, I was totally devastated and broken. The next day I called Temple Dean Robert T. Stroker and said, ‘I hope we can find a way to honor Mr., Heath this year.’ So, we started to prepare some music -- and then the pandemic hit.” 

Ah yes, that by now familiar refrain. At this writing, more than a year and a half later, January 2020 feels like a lifetime ago. The events of last year hardly bear repeating; no matter where you read these words and hear this music, the Covid-19 pandemic had its effect on your existence. It certainly disrupted the lives of the students and faculty at Temple, though the music, as always, found a way. 

Thanks to the tenacity and ingenuity of Stafford and his colleagues, Without You, No Me is the second new album released by the Temple University Jazz Band in the wake of the pandemic. The first, the aptly titled Covid Sessions: A Social Call, was recorded long-distance, in student’s homes across the country, via the innovative portable sound rigs devised by Grammy and Emmy Award- winning recording engineer John Harris and Temple Music Technology Professor Dr. David Pasbrig. 

Without You, No Me was captured at much closer range. The musicians were able to convene in the spacious confines of the Temple Performing Arts Center in April 2021, with filters and covers over the bells of the horn players and breaks every half hour for air exchange. The 12 feet of space and plexiglass dividers between them were less than optimal but still an improvement over the miles and days that had separated them on their previous outing. Harris and Pasbrig’s rigs were dusted off to facilitate this session’s special guests, bassist Christian McBride and organist Joey DeFrancesco. 

Whatever the obstacles presented by these most unprecedented of circumstances, it was clearly worth it to honor an artist who has meant so much to the music and to the city of Philadelphia as well as to Temple University, its students, and its director. Along with his brothers, bassist Percy and drummer Albert “Tootie,” Jimmy Heath is Philly jazz royalty, a master saxophonist, composer, and bandleader who has contributed several tunes to the jazz canon, including “CTA,” “Gingerbread Boy,” and “For Minors Only.” 

The title track of the present album, “Without You, No Me,” was originally commissioned by Dizzy Gillespie and named in the iconic trumpeter’s honor. Here it comes full circle, acknowledging the foundational influence that Jimmy Heath has had on generations of jazz musicians, Terell Stafford among them. Famous for his teasing, pun-happy nicknames, Heath christened the younger trumpeter “Staff Inflection.” 

“He was almost like a father to me,” Stafford explains. “When I started at Temple, he was the first person I called. He gave me such great advice: ‘Just teach yourself,’ he said. ‘Teach who you are. Figure out what you do, how you do it and teach that. And that will be what the students will need.’ He would constantly call to check on the students and came to the school whenever he could to conduct master classes and give concerts at Temple.” 
In the same spirit Todd Bashore, a former student of Mr. Heath’s at Queens College, composed album opener “Passing of the Torch” in honor of his mentor. Heath’s compositional gifts are further represented by “The Voice of the Saxophone,” rendered in lush and vibrant hues by this stellar ensemble. 

Tragically, Jimmy Heath was not the only loss that Philadelphia endured over the past year. The great tenor saxophonist Bootsie Barnes, a linchpin of the Philly jazz scene, passed in April at the age of 82. The young saxophonist and bandleader Jack Saint Clair, a Temple alumnus, composed the rollicking “Bootsie” in Barnes’ honor, its muscular yet relaxed swing offering a knowing portrait of the wryly laconic jazzman. 

Saint Clair also contributes a brassy rendition of the standard “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone” and a sultry arrangement of a piece from another Philly jazz giant, organist Shirley Scott, with whom Bootsie shared the stage many times. Both tracks showcase the clarion vocals of Danielle Dougherty while Scott’s “The Blues Ain’t Nothin’ (But Some Pain)” encourages the band to dig deep into their own blues to capture the tune’s sense of heartache and remorse. 

Hall of Fame basketball coach John Chaney, who led Temple to 17 NCAA tournaments during his 24 seasons at the University, was another icon in the city whose influence reached far beyond the court. The night he died in January; Christian McBride called Stafford to suggest an homage to Chaney. The bass great composed “The Wise Old Owl,” inspired by the school’s avian mascot as well as the coach’s reputation as a sage counselor to so many of his students. The tune unfolds with a nail-biting dramatic arc that vividly conveys Chaney’s grace under pressure, an elegant demeanor that suddenly erupts into kinetic action. 

McBride lends his robust voice to John Clayton’s vigorous arrangement of the classic “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love,” engaging in a spirited dialogue between his nimble, eloquent bass and the joyous ensemble. To close the album, he’s reunited with lifelong friend Joey DeFrancesco (albeit remotely) for a brisk romp through living legend saxophonist Larry McKenna’s arrangement of Juan Tizol’s “Perdido,” which prompts blistering turns from both virtuosic Philly natives. DeFrancesco’s jaw-dropping organ skills are on full display on his own “In That Order,” which the great pianist Bill Cunliffe arranged for the occasion. 

The title Without You, No Me acknowledges a debt to the past, one that is paid by keeping memories alive. While it’s safe to say that much about this album falls under the category of the unforgettable – recorded during an unforgettable period in history, undertaken in honor of some of the city and the music’s most unforgettable visionaries – it nonetheless repays that debt with dazzling enthusiasm and gratitude. As Jimmy Heath once wrote about his relationship to Dizzy Gillespie, the experience is “like being on a musical mountaintop or hitting a high note.” 

Without You, No Me" was produced by Robert T. Stroker and Terell Stafford,
and recorded at the Temple Performing Arts Center, April 2021
recorded, mixed, and master by David Pasbrig and John Harris.

Terell Stafford and The Temple University Jazz Band · Without You, No Me
BCM&D Records · Release Date: September 2021

For more information on other BCM&D Records releases, please visit:

Pasquale Grasso | "Pasquale Plays Duke" | Available via Sony Music Masterworks

Guitar Virtuoso
Celebrates the Legacy of Duke Ellington
on Pasquale Plays Duke
Available on September – Pre-Order Now

Special Guests Sheila Jordan and Samara Joy 
Join Bassist Ari Roland and Drummer Keith Balla

Pasquale Plays Duke, PASQUALE GRASSO’s September 17 release, is the second of a three-part trilogy which follows the early 2021 digital release of Solo Ballads. For this particular album he introduces his working trio of bassist Ari Roland and drummer Keith Balla, and is joined by special guest vocalists Samara Joy and Sheila Jordan. Available for preorder now, Grasso reimagines five Duke Ellington classics on solo guitar, alongside several collaborative tracks, performing some of Ellington’s most-cherished masterpieces including today’s release “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “Prelude to a Kiss,” “In a Sentimental Mood” and “Cotton Tail,” with Joy and Jordan making appearances on “Solitude” and “Mood Indigo,” respectively.

Long before earning the endorsement of everyone from New Yorker magazine to living luminary guitarist Pat Metheny and recording a series of solo EPs and albums for Sony Music Masterworks, Grasso grew up in the quaint and quiet Italian town of Ariano Irpino. At six-years-old, Pasquale developed a bond with his guitar that ignited an unbelievable journey from the Italian countryside to international renown. 

After attending the Conservatory of Bologna, the U.S. Embassy enlisted Grasso as its Jazz Ambassador. He embedded himself in New York City’s jazz community through a standing gig with late saxophonist Charles Davis. Among many standout performances, he won the 2015 Wes Montgomery International Jazz Guitar Competition and shared the stage with Pat Martino’s organ trio. In 2018, he appeared at the NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., delivering a show-stopping homage to honor Pat Metheny who christened him “The best guitar player I’ve heard in maybe my entire life.” 

Signing to Sony Music Masterworks, Grasso kicked off his solo EP/album series in 2019 with Solo Standards, Vol. 1, Solo Ballads, Vol. 1, Solo Monk, and Solo Holiday. His momentum continued in 2020 with yet another string of solo releases Solo Bird, Solo Masterpieces, Solo Standards, and Solo Bud Powell, earning the praise of New Yorker magazine, “Pasquale Grasso can play guitar like ringing a bell.”
Pasquale Grasso - Photo Credit Stefania Curto

Grasso shows off his technique early on in the album, with the introduction of “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” which was released today – watch here. The silky, vintage guitar tone makes it sound like a Johnny Smith or Tal Farlow LP from the 1950s. “I've always loved the guitar sound from the '40s and '50s and I love the sound of classical guitar,” says Grasso.

The classic jazz sound of Art Tatum, an inspiration of Grasso’s, stays present throughout the album. His influence is apparent in the transitional runs that play a major part in much of Grasso’s compositions, and whole-tone scales are able to take us from one chord to the next throughout the album. Tracks such as “Prelude to a Kiss,” “Cotton Tail,” “In a Sentimental Mood” (which released last month) and “Day Dream,” carry the listener up and down a flurry of intense and elegant scales.

The featured vocals of Samara Joy and Sheila Jordan add even more texture to the already vintage sound. Joy is only 21 and graduated this May from SUNY Purchase, thirty five miles north of her native Bronx, NY. Immediately, the natural strength and richness of her voice grabs the listeners’ attention. Her feature on the track “Solitude” is another reassurance to these claims. A powerful yet soft sound blends with Grasso's beautiful scales, producing a sound reminiscent of a live performance from the great Ella Fitzgerald.

Sheila Jordan is featured on “Mood Indigo.” Her decades-long experience in the jazz scene shines in her vocals throughout the track. Since her first release in the 1960s, Jordan is known as one of the most creative living jazz singers. She is one of the few vocalists who can improvise lyrics, which often rhyme, is a superb scat singer, and is also an emotional interpreter of ballads. During the track, the runs of Grasso’s guitar are matched by the impressive scatting of Jordan throughout the feature. It creates a back and forth battle before falling back into a final verse of soft vocals about feeling blue, hence the title “Mood Indigo.”

“Reflections in D”, the final track, slows the tempo so as to relax and wind down the album. The silky sound is still present, the tone being presented much to the name of the track, a reflection on everything heard in the prior twelve songs of Pasquale Plays Duke. All the same aspects are maintained, yet, this particular piece allows more space and time to experience Pasquale Grasso’s artistry.

For more information on Pasquale Grasso please visit:

Orrin Evans | "The Magic of Now" | Smoke Sessions Records

Pianist Orrin Evans Boldly Embraces
Challenges and Change to Create Music of
Beauty and Meaning in the Present Time

The Magic of Now Reconnects Evans with
Immanuel Wilkins, Vicente Archer, and Bill Stewart

moke Sessions Records proudly releases The Magic of Now, Orrin Evans’ sixth leader album for the label, and the 20th of the 46-year-old pianist-composer’s luminous career. Recorded in the midst of the upheavals set in motion by the COVID-19 pandemic, this latest recording of Evans’ kaleidoscopic artistic journey coincides with several self-generated sea changes in his life. For one thing, Evans and his wife recently sold their Philadelphia home of 20 years to their oldest son. For another, on March 15th, Evans ended a three-year association with the popular piano trio The Bad Plus to focus on musical projects under his own name.

“People have had to make adjustments and be reborn to a certain extent,” Evans says by way of explaining the title. “We’re past the point where we didn’t know what was going on or what the future would look like. Now we’re settling into what our ‘new normal’ will be, embracing the magic of now and the shape of what will happen next.”

The Magic of Now was recorded at SMOKE during the second weekend of December 2020 by Evans and a multi-generational cohort of A-list partners – first-call New York bassist Vicente Archer; iconic drummer Bill Stewart; and the dynamic 23-year-old alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins. They generate an eight-piece program that exemplifies state-of-the-art modern jazz, including three tunes apiece by the leader and Wilkins (whose 2020 Blue Note debut, Omega, was named “Best Debut Jazz Recording of 2020” by NPR Music and number-one jazz recording of 2020 by the New York Times). From the first note to the last, the quartet, convening as a unit for the first time, displays the cohesion and creative confidence of old friends.

Actually, “old friends” is a precise descriptor for the protagonists. “This album is a reunion,” explains Evans, who met Archer when both moved to New York City during the mid-1990s. He began playing frequently with Stewart when saxophone titan Steve Wilson hired both to play in his Wilsonian Grain quartet in 2008. In 2013, he played “big fun” trio gigs with Archer and Stewart at the Litchfield Jazz Festival and the Detroit Jazz Festival, and used Stewart on his 2014 Smoke Session album Liberation Blues.

Evans initially met Wilkins – a fellow Philadelphia resident – when teaching him at a summer music camp. They first shared the Smoke Jazz Club bandstand in 2018, when Evans to organize a series called “Philly Meets New York.” Their simpatico intensified last summer, as Evans recruited Wilkins to play several self-produced “Club Patio” concerts outside his Philadelphia home.

“I knew Immanuel as a performer and a saxophonist, but not as a composer until I played some of his pieces during that series,” Evans says. “I loved the compositions, how he treated them within a set, and how he put everything together. Playing other people’s music inspires me.”

Producer Paul Stache, who’d personally experienced the Evans-Wilkins simpatico during a Wilkins-led livestream at Smoke last August, suggested the matchup. “I’d wanted to do more with Vicente and Bill after 2013, but they ended up playing with Nicholas Payton for a few years and I couldn’t figure out a way to put it back together,” Evans says. “By happenstance, we were all at home during the pandemic.”

“I love Vicente’s fearlessness,” says Evans, himself known for applying a “kamikaze” attitude to jazz expression since he began leading groups in his late teens. “He learns the music and then adds so much to the conversation by playing harmonic and rhythmic ideas you might not have thought of. And I love the way that Bill’s drums sound – his cymbal choices, the way he tunes his bass drum and snare drum.”

As for Wilkins, Evans appreciates his lovely tone throughout the alto’s registral range; his command of a broad swath of jazz lineage; his “ability to bring music to the table and let it breathe, allowing myself, Vicente and Bill to bring something to it totally different than what his band would do.”

On The Magic of Now, the members apply their collective mojo to three heretofore unrecorded Wilkins songs, including the gorgeous ballad “The Poor Fisherman,” of which Evans (a master of the genre) remarks, “I’ve always wanted to write a ballad like that.” The leader notes the “relaxed” quality that Archer and Stewart impart to the 5/4 time signature that underpins the melody-drenched “Levels,” on which composer and leader engage in probing dialogue before each uncorks a commanding solo. Evans also applauds Wilkins’ “Momma Loves,” analogizing it to “a modern-day Monk tune, or modern-day bebop, with extra bars that make it feel weird – everyone plays right on through it.”

The program opens with a medley of Stewart’s anthemic “Mynah” (which debuted on Stewart’s 1997 Blue Note album, Telepathy) and Mulgrew Miller’s “The Eleventh Hour,” a blues that Evans describes as “a melody that, when you get in there, it’s going to start swinging.” That understates what the unit does on this ferociously executed, up-tempo tour de force, on which Wilkins and Evans refract the language of seminal ’60s modernism into their respective argots, propelled by stalwart beat flow from Archer and Stewart.

The first of Evans’ three tunes is “Libra,” a stick-to-the-ribs melody that previously appeared on Evans’ self-released Luvpark and White Boy, You Don’t Know Nothin’ About No Barbecue. “I wanted to hear what Bill would play,” says Evans, whose intensely percussive solo dances to the “distinctive groove” of Stewart, who played regularly with jazz-funk saxophone legend Maceo Parker during the early ’90s.

Evans dedicated the medium-up swinger “MAT-Matt” – which debuted on Evans’ 1999 album Listen To The Band and was reprised on the 2010 date Faith and Action – to his two sons, now 28 and 23. “It speaks to watching them grow,” he says.

The intensity winds down on the set-closing “Dave,” a pensive ballad on which Stewart showcases his skill at flowing in the rubato space. As on the preceding tunes, where he explores numerous dimensions of piano expression, Evans projects his singular voice onto the 88 keys.

“I love the sound of the piano and drums on this record – and I love the sound at Smoke,” Evans says of The Magic of Now. “I love the energy – so close, so intimate. And I appreciate having a long-standing relationship with Paul Stache that’s built on mutual respect. That has a lot to do with how much I enjoy playing music there.”

1 Mynah / The Eleventh Hour
2 Libra
3 The Poor Fisherman
4 MAT-Matt
5 Levels
6 Momma Loves
7 Dave

Kirk Whalum | "How Does Christmas Sound?" | Artistry Music

GRAMMY® Award-Winning Saxophonist
Kirk Whalum Asks, How Does Christmas Sound?
with Second Holiday-Themed Release

Album Explores More Spiritual and
Introspective Sound for Christmas,
Welcoming Peace and Celebration

When we think of Christmas, sometimes it’s the sights that come to mind: the multi-colored lights framing the windows of neighbors’ houses, the line of eager children waiting to sit on Santa’s lap, the Nativity scene on the lawn at the local church. Or maybe it’s the smells that arise first: fresh-baked gingerbread, pine needles, a turkey dinner in the oven.
On his new album for Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Music Group, GRAMMY® Award-winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum asks How Does Christmas Sound? On his second holiday-themed album, Whalum doesn’t answer that question in the expected way – revisiting the most familiar carols, the ones that have already worn out their welcome most years by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. Instead, he finds a more spiritual, introspective sound for Christmas, one that acknowledges the melancholy that often accompanies the Yuletide and the faith that is so central to his own celebrations.
“You can talk about the sights and the smells, but to me it's always a sound that takes me to the true meaning of Christmas,” Whalum explains. “Even in April, I will put on Nat King Cole’s Christmas record and it brings me peace.”
How Does Christmas Sound? follows Whalum’s previous holiday album, 2001’s GRAMMY® Award-nominated The Christmas Message. Over the last decade he’s regularly celebrated the season with his annual “A Gospel According to Jazz Christmas” Tour. So, it only made sense to revisit the Christmas canon with a renewed perspective, especially following a season when many families spent the holiday apart during the pandemic.
“We had to sit out a Christmas,” Whalum says. “I realized during the pandemic that Christmas means more to me now than it ever did. Like my faith, Christmas is axiomatic to my life, and I have evolved spiritually in so many ways.”
To reflect that profound evolution, Whalum reconvened with producer/trumpeter James McMillan, with whom he also worked on his monumental 2019 album Humanité, also on Artistry Music. The two share a friendship dating back much further, however, to their days touring in the horn section for the British pop duo Everything but the Girl. Their close relationship, as well as their experiences conceiving the globe-spanning Humanité, made McMillan the ideal collaborator for this latest endeavor, so Whalum returned to the producer’s studio in the seaside English hamlet of Hastings.
“One of the main points we made with Humanité was the fact that there's so much life and culture and beauty that exists outside of your world. I'd like to say that life can be about getting to know some of it. So, James had the idea to bring to light all of these more obscure Christmas songs. It gave us a great opportunity to unearth these jewels of Christmas songs that exist outside of the American mainstream.”
Those unexpected selections include the hymns “A Babe is Born” and “Es Ist Ein Ros Gesprungen” and the Contemporary Christian song “Thorns in the Straw.” Originally written and recorded by British singer-songwriter Graham Kendrick, the latter is here reimagined with a bright jazz feel and vocals by the saxophonist’s brother, singer Kevin Whalum.
Family is central to the album as a whole, as it always has been throughout Whalum’s career. On the album’s title track, one of two new songs penned by Whalum for the occasion, the saxophonist’s nephew, actor/singer Kortland Whalum, is the featured vocalist, while his son Kyle Whalum handles bass duties.
“My discography is always about family, and this record is no different,” Whalum says. “Whenever I record music, I'd be crazy not to use my son who plays with Kelly Clarkson, my nephew who is out doing Broadway shows and my other nephew who plays with Bruno Mars.” (Whalum’s nephew, trombonist Kameron Whalum, is in fact so busy with his Bruno Mars duties that he was unable to participate in How Does Christmas Sound? but he’s a frequent guest on his uncle’s projects.)
Not all of the songs that make up How Does Christmas Sound? are quite so arcane. The second track is perhaps the album’s most unexpected, a forlorn treatment of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas,” which has become the iconic Christmas song of its generation. Whalum’s reverently slow version becomes a song of faith, directed to the saxophonist’s savior rather than a Yuletide lover.
“I probably would never have recorded that song, though it’s apparently the most popular Christmas song since ‘Joy to the World,’” Whalum admits. “My daughter convinced me, and James agreed that there was gold to be found in the song. When you slow it down it makes one consider the materialism and expectations around Christmastime that end up leaving people feeling empty and disappointed sometimes. So, in essence I'm saying to Christ, ‘You do the things that I need and fulfill my greatest dreams, so that as a gift is more than sufficient.’ It just so happens that because of that great gift, I also have these other gifts, like my wife and my family.”
Whalum’s crooning tenor finds an intimate moment amidst all the year-end festivities on a wistful “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” aided by Mark Edwards’ sensitive piano and Marcus Finnie’s whispering brushwork on the drums. He switches to flute for an updated “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and is joined by rising R&B star Chantae Cann on the Contemporary Christian favorite “Mary Did You Know?” which has been recorded by everyone from Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd to Cee-Lo Green, Pentatonix to Dolly Parton.
Whalum’s second original, with lyrics by Nashville singer-songwriter Benita Hill, is the romantic ode “Seven,” with lead vocals by Kevin Whalum backed by the rich harmonies of Take 6. “What guy or girl wouldn't want to have someone write a song about them as the seventh wonder of the world?” Whalum muses. “It’s the perfect Christmas present.”
Conceived in Whalum’s home studio, his unique take on “Angels We Have Heard on High” is a solo tour-de-force layering soprano, tenor and baritone saxophones with percussion generated by the hammering of saxophone keys, all deftly performed by Whalum himself with accompaniments by Edwards and McMillan. The album concludes with an impassioned rendering of “In the Bleak Midwinter” given silken texture by the guitar playing of Mark Jaimes.
More than just another merry round of caroling, How Does Christmas Sound? is Whalum’s attempt at offering a moment of soul-searching for Christmas revelers and a balm for those whose holidays don’t shine as brightly. 
“In Christendom we have this beautiful hymn, ‘There's a Balm in Gilead,’ which says, ‘to heal the sin-sick soul, to make the wounded whole,’” Whalum shares. “I wanted to make it a point to ask how does Christmas sound when your heart is sad, when you feel anything but joy? I'm hoping that it impacts people in that way, that it reminds listeners that God is thinking about them.”

Kirk Whalum · How Does Christmas Sound?
Artistry Music (Mack Avenue Music Group) · Release Date: September 2021

For more information on Kirk Whalum, please visit:

Chris Standring - Wonderful World (September 2021)


Guitarist, composer, and arranger CHRIS STANDRING is one of the most prolific and successful artists on the contemporary urban jazz scene. With 13 Billboard Top 10 singles and 6 singles that reached number one on the chart, Jazz Monthly has said of Standring, “One of contemporary jazz’s most dynamic and in-demand guitarists, Standring’s sensual chill, ambient soul and retro-groove pop jazz is fashioned around his trademark hip-swaying guitar.”

Now, with WONDERFUL WORLD, his 14th release as a leader, he is once again pushing the envelope of taste and style with a project that is wholly different from anything he has done before.

Standring is a native of England. He was born and raised on a farm in the rural countryside of Buckinghamshire, where he spent his childhood driving tractors and feeding sheep. Music has been the nearly all-consuming focus of his life since he was 6 years old and began studying classical guitar. Although he had been listening to a lot of West Coast American jazz growing up, he did not become a serious jazz musician until he attended the London College of Music, where he met many aspiring jazz musicians, many of whom were members of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and hard-core, straight-ahead aficionados. Standring soon found himself listening to the great bebop players and learning new approaches to harmony and rhythm.

Although London has a vibrant jazz scene, the U.S. is still a mecca for world class jazz artists. Standring had visited the States several times and loved the West Coast vibe, so he moved to Los Angeles in 1991 and quickly became part of the local jazz scene. Playing the top L.A. venues with A-list musicians, it did not take long until he caught the attention of many top music acts, and his contemporary guitar sound can be heard on recordings by Bebe and Cece Winans, Jody Watley, Carole Bayer Sager and Rick Braun. He has also performed with Marc Antoine, Patti Austin, Bob James, Dave Koz, Richard Elliott, Boney James, Peter White, Kirk Whalum, and Al Stewart.

Standring landed a record deal with Instinct Records, a label out of New York City, and in 1998, produced Velvet, his first album as a leader. He produced a new album for a variety of labels every year or two thereafter, writing or co-writing every one of the 100+ compositions. When asked how he could be so prolific, he responds, “I’m very disciplined about my writing. I’m not married and don’t have any children, because I have been so intensely focused on my music and don’t want any distractions. I write pretty much every day and need silence and time for reflection. Although I listen to a wide range of music styles to spark my creativity, I would have to say that just 1% of my output is from inspiration and 99% is from dedication to my craft.”

For WONDERFUL WORLD, Standring wanted to take his art in a different direction. Unlike all his other projects, he composed just one of the tunes on the album and instead concentrated on putting his own unique spin on songs from the Great American Songbook. The album also features a 19-piece orchestra, which is something he always wanted to do. He has been playing standards for many years, and he chose songs for WONDERFUL WORLD that he has always enjoyed. Standring says, “I chose these songs because I like them but also because they could be arranged for a full orchestra or a trio setting. I think there’s something magical about the sound of a guitar and orchestra playing together, but I won’t always be in situations where it’s possible to use an orchestra. So the arrangements had to be flexible enough to work in a trio setting.”

Standring wanted the album to be lush and sentimental, and he needed players who could capture the emotional tone he wanted and also navigate the subtle arrangements. He put together an all-star band that includes RANDY BRECKER on trumpet, PETER ERSKINE, HARVEY MASON, and DAVID KARASONY on drums, and CHUCK BERGHOFER, DAREK OLES, and GEOFF GASCOYNE on bass. All are top L.A.-based musicians except for Gascoyne, who is an old friend of Standring and still lives in England. Gascoyne wrote the string arrangements and helped Standring create the feel he wanted. Gascoyne also assembled and conducted the orchestra at the famed Abbey Road studios.

Also featured on one song is vocalist KATHRIN SHORR, an alternative-folk/pop singer who has recorded several CDs with her group Sweet Talk Radio. She and Standring released a CD of all original Christmas songs in 2011. Standring thought her smokey voice would be an excellent choice for “What a Wonderful World.”

Standring set out to make an album of music that was pared down to its essence. He wasn’t interested in pyrotechnics that would show off his considerable chops. Instead, he wanted to invite listeners in with open trio arrangements and lush orchestrations that would be nostalgic yet updated with a contemporary sensibility. Songs like “How Insensitive,” “Night & Day,” “Autumn In New York,” “Estate,” “What A Wonderful World,” “Green Dolphin Street,” “Alfie,” “Falling In Love With Love,” and “My Foolish Heart” are certainly well-known to jazz audiences, but Standring and company breathe new life into these chestnuts with a sentimental sweetness on WONDERFUL WORLD.

2. NIGHT & DAY 5:50
4. ESTATE 4:43
7. ALFIE 4:16
9. SUNRISE 4:55
10. MAXINE 4:30

RANDY BRECKER  flugelhorn (9)
PETER ERSKINE  drums (1, 2, 3, 5, 8)
HARVEY MASON  drums (6, 9, 10)
DAVID KARASONY  drums  (4)
CHUCK BERGHOFER  bass (2, 3, 5, 8)
DAREK OLES  bass (6, 9, 10)
GEOFF GASCOYNE  bass (1, 4, 7, 11)
KATHRIN SHORR  vocal (5)

Arranged and Produced by CHRIS STANDRING
Orchestra arranged and conducted by GEOFF GASCOYNE  
Orchestra recorded at Abbey Road Studios

WONDERFUL WORLD will be available on CD, vinyl and digitally everywhere

Kerry Moffit & Turning Circles - What Goes Around Comes Around (2021)

KERRY MOFFIT has been a professional musician for 41 years, performing regularly around the country and around Europe. He has performed with and written arrangements for all types of groups, from large jazz orchestras to small ensembles, and he has appeared on over 70 recordings as a sideman. Moffit has accomplished much over his long career, but he has never released a project under his name until now. WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND, Moffit’s debut CD as a leader with his band, Turning Circles, is an impressive showcase for this brilliant trumpeter’s performance and compositional talents.

Moffit has a good reason for not putting out his own project. He served as a proud member of the United States Air Force Bands for nearly 25 years. The Air Force Bands are among the premier musical organizations in the country. Moffit enlisted in 1991, and throughout his service, he played trumpet in concert bands, ceremonial bands, jazz ensembles, and pop/rock bands for both military and civilian audiences.

A native of Flint, MI, Moffit has been playing in bands since junior high school and continued his music education at Michigan State University, where he studied Orchestral Trumpet Performance. After several years of performing around mid-Michigan, he had reached a point where he wanted to move his career forward. Fellow musicians encouraged him to move to a music mecca like New York or Los Angeles to perform and record, but with a growing family to support, he needed more stability and a steady source of income. A friend had told him about the benefits of joining the Air Force bands, and Moffit decided to audition. He was offered a position with one of the regional bands and enlisted in the Air Force. It wound up being one of the best gigs he could hope for, both professionally and personally.

Moffit spent almost 20 years of his tour of duty at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, the oldest Air Force base in the country. It provides support to more than 9,000 military and civilian personnel around the world. There are over a dozen Air Force Bands around the world with dozens more smaller ensembles that play all types of music – from various classical orchestras to jazz, rock, pop, and country bands that provide musical accompaniment for everything from funerals at Arlington National Cemetery and awards ceremonies to welcoming heads of state and civilian leaders.

Moffit is a straight-ahead jazz trumpeter, but he honed his chops by performing in many different styles. The band was on the road around 10 days a month for eight months a year, touring up and down the East Coast, as well as performing numerous local gigs for holidays and for state and local civilian leaders. In 1996, Moffit was appointed the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of the Dixie Players, an ensemble that is part of the United States Air Force Heritage of America Band. The Dixie Players released a CD in 2003, titled Dixie Parade, which received widespread critical acclaim.

In 2010, Moffit was re-assigned to Mons, Belgium, where he became the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge and Music Director of The NATO Jazz Orchestra, which is part of the SHAPE International Band, the official musical representative of NATO and Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). The band comprised an international roster of musicians from NATO countries. Moffit led the organization on more than 20 missions throughout five Western European countries and was instrumental in the planning and coordination of the NATO Jazz Orchestra CD titled A Taste of NATO, Part II. One of the highlights of his time in Europe was serving as the Artist-in-Residence at the Lier Jazz Festival in Belgium.

After nearly 25 years in the service and attaining the rank of Master Sergeant, Moffit had reached the end of his tenure and was forced to retire in 2015. He says, “I loved the job and the people I worked with. My uniform still fits, and I would go back tomorrow if they let me.”
After nearly 25 years in the service and attaining the rank of Master Sergeant, Moffit had reached the end of his tenure and was forced to retire in 2015. He says, “I loved the job and the people I worked with. My uniform still fits, and I would go back tomorrow if they let me.”

Since leaving the service, Moffit has worked as a freelance musician and teacher. Over the course of his career, he has performed with numerous jazz artists including Bobby Shew, the New York Voices, Chuck Mangione, Clark Terry, Pete Christlieb, Louis Bellson, Arturo Sandoval and many others. He has also performed with several ensembles at international festivals, including North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland, and the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. He has also appeared on many recordings, including the Grammy winning Grand Serenade for an Awful Lot of Winds and Percussion by P.D.Q. Bach.

Moffit returned to Michigan to complete his education and brought on board some of the finest musicians in the Midwest for TURNING CIRCLES, including SETH EBERSOLE (alto and tenor sax), ROB KILLIPS (trombone), ALTIN SENCALAR (trombone), ARLENE PRITCHARD MCDANIEL (Fender Rhodes, piano, Casio Privia), LUTHER ALLISON (Fender Rhodes), TERRY NEWMAN (bass), and IAN LEVINE (drums).

Moffit arranged all the music on this project. He says he chose the songs on WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND based on the traditional rhyme that lays out what a bride should wear at her wedding for good luck: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” The four jazz standards on the album represent something borrowed. Hank Mobley’s “This I Dig of You,” Shorty Rogers’ “Just a Few,” Woody Shaw’s “Katrina Ballerina,” and Jimmy Van Heusen’s “But Beautiful,” which was written in 1947 and is the “something old” tune, have a swinging, 1950s West Coast feel. Moffit’s original compositions are the new tunes. Inspired by the great composers/arrangers like Duke Ellington, Sammy Nestico, and Neal Hefti, his compositions are hip with a bop feel. They could easily be mistaken for jazz standards written by one of the masters. Moffit often works through compositions on the piano, playing from his gut rather than analyzing the music intellectually. In fact, he composed “Free for All,” which is a blues in a non-standard form, while he was studying with Charlottesville, Virginia-based trumpeter, John D’Earth.

WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND is a stellar debut album for an artist who has had an amazing career despite the fact he is unknown to general jazz audiences. Moffit is at the top of his form as a musician and composer. His warm trumpet tone and hip phrasing pare beautifully with his sophisticated compositions. Like a fine wine that has had time to age, his music is intricate, full of vibrant colors, and eminently pleasing to the palate.

2. JUST A FEW 4:48
3. FREE FOR ALL 8:16
5. LIFE, LOVE, LOSS 8:04
6. 20-4 JAM 7:27
7. M.I. 6:25

Arranged and Produced by Kerry Moffit

Kerry Moffit, trumpet, flugelhorn
Seth Ebersole, alto & tenor saxophones
Rob Killips, trombone (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8)
Altin Sinclair, trombone (3, 6)
Arlene Pritchard McDaniel, Fender Rhodes, Casio Prive  (1, 3, 4, 6, 8)
Luther Allison, Fender Rhodes (2, 5, 7)
Terri Newman, acoustic bass
Ian LeVine, drums

Brasuka | "A Vida Com Paixão" | Available October 8 via Outside In Music

Over the past year and a half, music experienced a dark and dismal outlook of pandemic doom. But in demanding times, musicians keep us grounded. They call up the strong, beautiful parts of our spirits.

Welcome Brasuka, the hopeful and spirited ensemble that offers a healing outlook. Based in Dallas, the sextet’s compelling debut recording, A Vida Com Paixão, captures the joy and beauty of its translated name, A Life With Passion. Inspired by different styles of Brazilian music with spices of reggae, classical, jazz improvisation, folk-styled melodies, Uruguayan candombe, and splashes of pop, the six-member band, along with special guests, delivers a sublime album with every tune a pure delight of lyricism and percussive rhythms. It is released on trombonist Nick Finzer’s Outside in Music label.  

The 10 tracks, including 9 original songs, work together as a culturally diverse journey of a group formed a decade ago, originally as a Sergio Mendes tribute spearheaded by percussionist Ricardo Bozas and vocalist and current spokesperson, Rosana Eckert. “After many years of playing music by artists like Sergio Mendes and Ivan Lins, the band evolved. After a few personnel changes and some brainstorming, we shifted our focus to original music. We started writing songs together as a group and loved it.” says Eckert. 

Eckert likens the band to a collective. “There is no one leader. There are six leaders, and we’re all invested. The biggest challenge has been finding the time to rehearse and write, given that we all have so many other musical jobs and groups. But we believe in this band and devote ourselves to it, planning rehearsals weeks in advance. Rehearsals are often day-long events when we eat together, write, arrange, eat some more. We also split up into smaller groups for writing sessions.” she says.

Brasuka stands as a solid band with a firm undergirding influenced by their shared love of Brazilian music. The multi-ethnic ensemble features Mexican-American Eckert on vocals and keyboards, Uruguay-born Bozas on percussion and vocals, Cuba-born Denny Robinson on keys and vocals, Tom Burchill from South Dakota on acoustic and electric guitars and vocals, Dallas-born Brian Warthen on bass and percussion, and Puerto Rico native Jose Aponte on drums and vocals. Guests include co-producer Daniel Pardo on flutes and melodica, Drew Zaremba on flute and tenor sax, and Jeff Robbins on tenor saxophone. 

Written by Eckert especially for the band, the opening track, “Samba Jiji,” delivers with welcoming percussion and her captivating wordless vocals. “I think this song best represents the band. It’s got a cool and funky partido alto groove, it’s danceable, and like many of our songs, it has a big sing-along at the end.” she says. 
The ebullient “Road to Hermeto” was the first tune the group wrote all together. It was inspired by innovative Brazilian composer Hermeto Pascoal who often writes complex and whimsical melodies. The band channeled Hermeto’s style with harmonic twists and turns and exciting eighth-note rhythms. Other tunes are credited as Eckert/Bozas collaborations. The title track, “A Vida Com Paixão,” is a joyful and uplifting invitation with exuberant Portuguese vocals sailing over an infectious samba reggae. “Marakandombe,” sparks as a hybrid of two grooves: Uruguayan candombe and the Brazilian maracatu. There’s an interchange of gentle march-like majesty followed by a nod to rock with Burchill’s scorching guitar solo. On “Deusa Do Meu Carnaval,” dance is central to the theme of the song’s evolution, from a gentle samba sung by an admirer about a beautiful dancer to a rousing street carnival party with Pardo conjuring up flute and melodica joy. 

Eckert and Bozas also combine to shape the cheerful “Praia Felix” about the percussionist’s paradisal visit to Felix Beach in Ubatuba in the São Paulo state. “Ricardo wrote the melody and a lyric about his trip, and I added the chords as I imagined he heard them. He wanted to help people understand the story, so we sang in both Portuguese and English. And of course, there’s a big beach party at the end!” Eckert says.

Other songs include Eckert’s original “Reina’s Song” accompanied by Burchill on classical-styled acoustic guitar. It’s the most sobering moment on the album, inspired by Eckert’s aunt grieving the loss of her husband. “I had written the melody twenty years prior, and it finally found a home with Brasuka.” she says. 

Written and sung by Robinson, inspired by the biblical story of a fig tree, “La Higuera” goes on a shape-shifter trip. It opens with a candombe groove that develops into a quiet zone with Warthen’s mellowed bass solo. It then erupts into another signature Brasuka sing-along party, this time influenced by the keyboardist’s Cuban heritage. Aponte’s “Confundido,” meaning “confused,” also travels different roads, with a free and open start, a pensive and floating melody, and dynamic improvisation and interaction that highlight the band’s jazz roots. 

At the end of A Vida Com Paixao the band delightfully digs into the only cover of the album: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” arguably one of the Beatles’ most renditioned songs. It works perfectly with Brasuka’s rhythmic approach. “We’re trying to create happy music. We want to tell thoughtful and uplifting stories, get people dancing, and bring people together. Hopefully our passion comes through.” Eckert says. 

For more information on Brasuka, please visit:

Tanya Dennis - White Sails Blue Skies (2021)


TANYA DENNIS is a singer, violinist, guitarist, and composer who has toured much of the world, backing up some of the top names in the music business. Her newest CD, WHITE SAILS BLUE SKIES, has been described as “cinematic” and blends elements of many musical genres -- jazz, samba, tango, gypsy and blues -- capturing her romantic spirit tempered by the ups and downs of a life lived to the fullest. Her previous recordings include Waterdance (1999) and Apartment 9 (2003).

Tanya is currently a resident of Nashville, TN, but with her love of travel and desire for new experiences, you may find her sailing around the Caribbean or exploring the Austrian Alps.

Tanya says music is in her DNA. Her grandmother was an evangelist who recorded gospel music for Chicago’s King label in the 1950s, and her mother, also a singer, performed with Jack Teagarden and also recorded several projects. Tanya still has the player piano and rolls that she grew up with and credits them for her early ear training.

Tanya began performing when she was 16 years old, playing guitar at a deli in North Myrtle Beach. It was also when she fell in love with the violin. Her parents had taken her on a trip to Gatlinburg, TN, where she met George Kindler, who played fiddle with David Bromberg’s band. She was spellbound and knew instantly that this was her instrument.

Tanya went on to become a serious violin student and studied jazz theory, electronic music, composition, and classical violin at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Jerry Coker, the famed saxophonist and educator, had started the school’s Studio Music and Jazz program. He suggested to Tanya that she may want to check out the University of Miami Jazz Orchestra as the next step in her studies.

She subsequently spent three years in the University of Miami jazz program, performing with the 80-piece jazz orchestra and also played electric violin and sang with a funk-fusion band that had a regular gig at the Village Inn in Coconut Grove. During this period, Tanya also played with jazz legend Ira Sullivan in his band. It was a life-changing experience for her, but eventually, when the funk band dissolved, Miami lost its appeal. She decided it was time to move on. She was intrigued by Seattle, so she moved there and spent three years playing with various bands at different venues around the area. Seattle had a thriving grunge scene at the time but it was not for her and she realized it was time to plant serious roots for her musical career. She felt her choices were between, L.A., New York or Nashville.

Her father, who lived in Johnson City, TN, was advanced in age, so Tanya moved back to Tennessee to be near him. Being a violinist who could play just about any type music, she had no trouble finding work. Tanya played many local venues with her bands and also sang demos for aspiring songwriters in her early years in Nashville.

According to Tanya, “I really didn’t want to move to Nashville. The music wasn’t really my scene, but I had more work than I could handle, and I wound up spending 10 years performing and touring as a violinist, rhythm guitarist, mandolin player, and backup vocalist with many top names like Faith Hill and Janie Fricke, a two-time CMA Female Vocalist of the Year winner, among many others.” Her first recording, Waterdance, was a mixture of jazz, blues, and country. Tanya was voted “Rising Female Star European Market” as a result of Waterdance. The album opened a lot of doors for her and provided several opportunities to tour around Europe at festivals and clubs under her own name.

Tanya dedicates WHITE SAILS BLUE SKIES to harmonica master Toots Thielemans. She has always loved his music but had never seen him perform live, so in 2010, she treated herself to a birthday present and flew from Nashville to Oakland, CA, just to attend one of his concerts. Thielemans was very gracious and even played “Happy Birthday” to her. When she was ready to make this album, she invited him to play on it, but he had retired and in poor health.

Tanya still wanted a harmonica player for the project and enlisted HENDRIK MEURKENS, the harmonica virtuoso who has worked with a Who’s Who of jazz greats, like Ray Brown, Paquito D'Rivera, Herb Ellis, Herbie Mann, James Moody, Charlie Byrd, and many more. She flew Meurkens down to Nashville from New York to spend a few days in the studio. She also brought on board some of the finest musicians in Nashville, including JIM FERGUSON (bass), DAVID MARTIN (nylon string guitar), BILLY PANDA (acoustic guitar), DANN SHERRILL (percussion), SCOTT HALGREN (piano), MATT BERRY (acoustic guitar), JOHN RICHARDS (electric guitar), and NOAH HUNTGATE (percussion). Dennis is featured on violin on two tracks.

Tanya is also an avid sailor. She had purchased a 50-foot sailboat after experiencing a series of life-changing events and set sail around the Keys, Bahamas and Caribbean. It was a trip she had always wanted to make, and the time was right for her to reinvent herself musically and personally. The music on WHITE SAILS BLUE SKIES is a result of that journey.

Dennis composed seven of the nine songs on the album. She was inspired to write “Chiarascura,” which is a term from the visual arts pertaining to the play of contrasted light and shadow, watching the full moon reflecting on the water. “Till You” is a song about finding your soul mate. “Slow Reckless Tango” is about unrequited love. Tanya’s husband is another avid sailor who crosses oceans solo. She wrote “Where You Are” for him during their transglobal courtship. ”White Sails” is about mornings on the water and re-inventing one’s life. “The World Can Do Without Us Today” was written by Ronnie Hughes, who wrote it as a country song, but Dennis turns it into a jazz ballad. “Indigo” was penned by her good friend and Hall of Fame songwriter, Kostas. “Desolation Sound” is a true story about a scoundrel who broke her heart. She discovered his deceit while they were sailing in Desolation Sound in British Columbia. “All to Myself” was written for a close friend whom she dearly loves.

WHITE SAILS BLUE SKIES is a showcase for Tanya Dennis’ smooth voice, superb musicianship, production chops and engaging songwriting. She has had an eclectic career. The multi-instrumentalist has played everything from jazz and rock to country to pop to fusion, and the music on this album moves like a tidal flow of Tanya’s life experiences, both the good and the bad. She likens the project to reaching shore after years at sea.

1 Chiaroscura 3:32
2 Till You 4:41
3 Slow Reckless Tango 5:43
4 Where You Are 4:13
5 White Sails 4:08
6 The World Can Do Without Us 3:59
7 Indigo 3:49
8 Desolation Sound 3:50
9 All To Myself 6:00