The Jazz Project

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Escape •••
Adam Hawley, guitar
This is Adam Hawley’s third album, which he produced and wrote eight of the album’s ten tunes, showcasing his collaborations with smooth/contemporary jazz musicians Rick Braun, Najee, Michael Lington, Jeff Ryan, Marcus Anderson and Greg Manning. Attacking his electric guitar with fervent tones amidst a shimmering jazz-pop backdrop reminiscent of guitar legends Wes Montgomery and George Benson, Mr. Hawley delivers deft fretwork on opening track “Tokyo Groove,” supported by David Mann’s crisp and punchy horn arrangements with trumpeter Trevor Neumann. The album includes contributions from a number of noteworthy horn players along with Mr. Lington who cranks up the soul power on “99 and Counting.” “Sunday Swing” bounces to a funky, go-go-influenced beat that finds the artist’s electric jazz guitar in a loquacious mood. “Can’t Stop” opens with the chorus, a potent hook that connects with muscle added by sax player Mr. Anderson. Seminal urban-jazz icon Najee blesses “Thinking of You” with dreamy flute that meshes sublimely with Mr. Hawley’s amorous guitar riffs and runs on the song co-written and co-produced by keyboardist Mr. Manning. Anchoring the beats and grooves throughout Escape, are drummer Eric Valentine, bassists Nathaniel Kearney Jr., and Ian Martin. Percussionist Ramon Yslas adds nuance and Carnell Harrell supplements with vibrant harmonies with his keyboards, organ and synth. Anchoring the beats and grooves throughout Escape, are drummer Eric Valentine, bassists Nathaniel Kearney Jr., and Ian Martin. Percussionist Ramon Yslas adds nuance and Carnell Harrell supplements with vibrant harmonies with his keyboards, organ and synth.

Vibrasonic •••
Vibes Alive, vibraphone and guitar
Utilizing vibraphone and guitar as lead instrumental voices is an unusual pairing on the contemporary jazz scene, but together they form an organically warm and earthy sound. Vibes Alive’s third album, Vibrasonic, is written and produced by vibraphonist Dirk Richter and guitarist Randall Crissman. This latest release from Vibes Alive represents an 11-year gap between their 1997 self-titled debut and the release of their sophomore set, After Hours. A dozen years later, here comes Vibrasonic. “Sweet Vibes” opens and establishes the tone for the album. Mr. Lorber’s Minimoog intertwines with Mr.Richter’s vibraphone, adding spacy dimensions to the soul-jazz odyssey. The title track, “Vibrasonic,” is an explosive journey on the group’s musical excursion ride. Going downtempo, “Windchime”focus on Mr. Crissman’s electric fretwork and Mr. Richter’s vibes forming a magnetic melody. The welcoming “Going Home” spreads cheer and comfort, affording the players ample room to relish the homecoming. Vibes and guitar engage in imaginative discourse on “Daydream.” “Rainy Day” sets a contemplative tone. Mr. Lorber’s storming organ helps power “Spy,” a fun and mysterious vibraphonic frolic that breaks into a swinging jazz bridge. The record closes with “Guitar Noir,” a hypnotic number penned by Mr. Crissman, who shines on guitars, keys and bass.   Performing on the album is Grammy award-winner keyboardist and fusion pioneer Jeff Lorber who plays keys, synthesizers, piano and synth bass. Legendary drummer Vinnie Colaiuta anchors the rhythm section with Jimmy Johnson on bass and Luis Conte on percussion.

Real Life •••
Chris Sandring, guitar
Guitarist Chris Sandring’s new release can be summed up best with the rhetorical title track, “Is There A Doctor In The House?,” which is illuminated by a celestial gospel vocal sample and the artist’s joyous electric guitar parlance and rousing keyboard blasts. The album is a compelling amalgam of slick jazz, soul-singed R&B, funk grooves and bright pop harmonies. Performers include Mitchel Forman on piano, Andre Berry on bass, Kevin Axt on upright bass, Matt Rohde and Hans Zermulen both on their keyboards, Ronnie Gutierrez on percussion, and Chris Coleman and Dave Karasony keeping the beat on their drums. After opening “Real Life” with the first single, the tension is palpable on “Out Of The Blue.” Mr. Standring’s electric jazz guitar meanders through the outer edges and his keyboard lends dramatic emphasis to the track that, despite the tense mood, allows bright melodic bursts of hope. “Whatever She Wants” is celebrated with an abundance of endearing fretwork atop bouncy beats and rhythmic handclaps. Heartfelt and atmospheric, “In Other Words” is a tender beauty that deftly balances intimacy, vulnerability and the promise of a glorious sunrise at dawn. Hip-hop beats drive “What Goes Around,” on which the artist’s improvisational guitar riffs and runs squawk with an edgy air of defiance. Balancing his performance with Lauren Christy, “Living The Poetry” is a soulful R&B joint featuring the smooth and sultry croon of Incognito vocalist Vanessa Haynes. Ambient and meditative, “This Mess Is A Place” is a slow burn, churning chantlike at a deliberate pace and repetitive rhythm, setting the mind free. The album closes masterfully with a Spanish classical guitar interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Prelude From Bach Cello Suite 1.”

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