Jazz Guitarist Norman Brown

Norman Brown is another of the newer talents I like to spend a little time with. Quick, smooth and precise, Norman is easy to listen to while reading, driving, cooking, partying, a whole range of activities. Brown does all of his own arrangements and creates some great combinations of talent and instruments.

Guitarist Norman Brown

Guitarist Norman Brown

His 2008 album After the Storm was Jazz Album of the Year on at least two charts. It is one of my favorites and it features a great version of  That’s the Way Loves Goes, a composition by James Harris, Terry Lewis and Janet Jackson.

Another great track on this CD is Norman’s shift to the acoustic guitar. Titled  Acoustic Time, this is a soft, lovely tune:

Brown is probably best recognized for his version of Ernie Isely’s  For the Love of You, which gets tons of play on all smooth jazz radio stations and live streams.

Speaking of live jazz streaming, Norman Brown (like the jazz radio pioneer Dave Koz) broadcasts a great show every weekend on The Smooth Jazz Network.  The link is http://smoothjazznetwork.com

I also really enjoy Norman’s Just Between Us CD.

thejazzmonger

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Gota – Man of Many Talents

Continuing the short series of posts on some of the newer artists and groups that I listen to regularly, I have to give a big shout out to Gota. His full name is Gota Yashiki, but he performs and records under his first name only.

I am listening to this guy all the time. Whether it’s CDs in the car or the big system at home, earbuds stuck into the laptop, or the SanDisk player on an airline flight, a little Gota always perks me up.

Gota Live

Gota Live

Born in Kyoto, Japan, a young Gota learned traditional Japanese Drums. In 1982, at the age of 20, he moved to Tokyo and became a drummer in various reggae groups and started experimenting with electronic dubbing. By 1988 Gota was based in London and heavily involved in studio remixing and working on film soundtracks. He also worked with a number of top recording artists and groups.

Moving beyond just his talent for drumming, Gota became heavily involved in the programming of electronic instruments and remixing. He recorded and toured with Simply Red, and contributed to recordings by Seal, Soul II Soul, Swing Out Sister & Depeche Mode. Alanis Morissette has called him the “Groove Activator” on her brerakout album Jagged Little Pill. He played drums and programmed all the electronic instruments on Sinead O’Connor‘s smash hit Nothing Compares 2 U.

Let's Get Started cover

Let's Get Started cover


In 1999 came the American release of Gota’s second album, Let’s Get Started, where I first discovered him. Lend an ear to the title track:

The third track on Let’s Get.. became a No. 1 hit on Jazz radio. Listen to In the City Life

In 2001, Gota released day & night, a strong follow-up to Let’s Get..
Still working in the style of electronic, fusion Jazz, day & night is another strong collection of tunes and one of those rare albums that are great to play just straight through. Track 1, Cruisin’ Your Way is absolutely one of my favorite up-tempo Jazz pieces. Give it a listen:

I hope these samples of this terrifically creative artist motivate you to buy his CDs. I am believer in artists getting paid and the music I put up here is meant only to whet your appetite and turn you into a paying customer.

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Steve Tyrell

I mentioned that a friend of mine was in New York City a couple of weeks ago, and saw Cole Porter‘s piano in the cocktail lounge of The Waldorf Astoria.

She had asked me for ideas on where to go for some good music one evening. After checking around on what was happening (thanks New Yorker magazine) I recommended they consider seeing Steve Tyrell, who was performing at The Blue Note.

Steve Tyrell at The Blue Note

Steve Tyrell at The Blue Note

They went, and they really enjoyed it. The Blue Note is a terrific, intimate venue for this kind of act. The performance was built largely around Steve’s Back to Bacharach album, but included some tunes from the Great American Songbook. At the very beginning of his music career, Steve worked as an assistant producer for Burt Bacharach, and he has a special feel for all the Bacharach/Hal David material.

Back to Bacharach album

Back to Bacharach album

On most tunes, Tyrell’s voice has certain rough, growly quality. I think of it as “a little taste of Louie.” This makes for an interesting interpretation of some of the classics on his Standard Time album, which includes several of my all-time favorites like Stardust. Probably my favorite track on the album is Fats Waller‘s Ain’t Misbehavin’ from way back in 1929.

Tyrell followed up Standard Time with A New Standard offering more of the great old stuff. This time we get Cheek to Cheek , I Can’t Get Started and Smile. Where you really hear “a little taste of Louie” is on A Kiss To Build A Dream On. It’s not Louie, but it’s close.

Any of you who saw my post on the Denise Brigham recording sessions for Hotel Lafayette knows that I am always intrigued by the process behind the final track. While not quite the same as the ‘live look” at the recording process we saw there, the following video has Steve talking about what it was like working with, and learning from, Burt Bacharach, as well as some of the production work and strategy that has gone into some of his best tracks.

Steve Tyrell will take over at The Carlyle Hotel for a run fro November 10- December 30, plus a special performance on New Year’s Eve. We recommend it. Read more of this post

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