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Personal Notes - The Music I Played This Week

I receive hundreds of songs each week from record companies, servicing agents and artists from all over the world for inclusion in our 3 Jazz Channels, but what do I listen to on my own music system ?

Personal Notes ‘ returns after a few years as so many artists ask me to review their albums, but the 30 hours per week that it takes to research, produce and market our 3 jazz shows leaves me little spare time, but I do take some time out each week to listen to some carefully selected albums which I think require further discovery and I hope that jazz fans will find these ‘ Personal Notes ‘ useful in learning a little more about some of the great jazz music out there and hopefully add them to their own music collection.

Here’s what I have been playing this week on my sound system :-

Artist : Ray Blue | Album : Work | Year : 2019 | Label : Jazzheads

Personnel : Ray Blue : Tenor Sax | Ron Wilkins : Trombone | Neil Clark : Percussion | Steve Johns : Drums | Essiet Okon Essiet : Bass | Belden Bullock : Bass | Jeff Barone : Guitar | Sharp Radway : Piano | Kirk Lightsey : Piano | Benito Gonzalez : Piano

New York based tenor saxman Ray Blue was a new name to me and was introduced by my new friend and servicing agent Mike Carlson from MC Promotion in Washington State in 2019 and I am very glad he did. Ray’s smooth and deep tenor sax tone is quiet and creative and his interplay with the other members of this excellent selection of songs is harmonious, elegant and reminiscent of the old school swinging jazz greats mentioned below.

Ray has chosen his song selections carefully and the first track that we choose for our radio shows was ‘ My Friend And I Took A Walk ‘ which is a lilting ballad which caresses the senses , his version of Al Jarreau’s ‘ Teach Me Tonight ‘ is a wonderful tribute to one of the best jazz vocalists that I have heard. Uptempo tracks include ‘ Lift Every Voice And Sing ‘, ‘ Mellow Mood ‘ which has a Latin American rhythm reminiscent of Cal Tjader or Poncho Sanchez. There are two version of the Alan Brandt and Bob Haymes classic ‘ That’s All ‘ from the Great American Songbook which Ray Blue was clearly influenced by with this production, one with the classic piano trio and one with only pianist Kirk Lightsey.

Ray has an intro solo on ‘Everything Happens To Me ‘ with drummer Steve Johns exchanging pleasantries, but the clarity and ease of his playing is a delight to the listener, the exchange with the piano trio makes this album the perfect accompaniment to your Dinner Hour or Late Night Listening.

As a fan of mainstream jazz I like to be entertained with tracks which will showcase the individual artists yet blend them together as an entity which will convey the magic ingredients which have stood the test of time for me, improvisation, creativity and track selection. Ray Blue has recorded a set of standards which will appeal to a wide audience and perhaps introduce non-jazz fans to a genre which has been sadly overlooked for many years as it has strayed from its roots.

‘ Work ‘ has been a delight to behold and will be played in my Music Room for many years to come.

Similar Artists and Style : Coleman Hawkins, Stan Getz, Lee Konitz, Benny Carter, Ike Quebec, Lou Donaldson, Stanley Turrentine, Paul Desmond, Ben Webster, Johnny Hodges, Joe Henderson, Lester Young, Dexter Gordon.

For further info : www.rayblue.com  ^

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Personal Notes - The Music I Played This Week
Wes George at the iconic Cristo Redentor in Rio De Janeiro in Brazil during a visit to the home of Bossa Nova and the wonderful rhythms of a pulsating city.
wes george

Artist : Roger Beaujolais Quartet | Album : Sunset | Year : 2017 | Label : Stay Tuned

Personnel : Roger Beaujolais : Vibraphone | Robin Aspland : Piano | Simon Thorpe : Double Bass | Winston Clifford : Drums

The first time I heard vibest Roger Beaujolais was in our local jazz club in the UK and I immediately was impressed by the interplay of his piano trio and his smooth playing on his self penned songs as well as some classic standards. One highlight for me in this session was when Roger was adjusting the vibe’s setting for a few moments and his drummer Winston Clifford stood up and did an impromptu ‘ a capella ‘ with his pure voice which surprised me even more that Roger hadn’t featured him on a vocal during the session or on any of the four CDs that I bought at the gig.

However one of the albums was ‘ Sunset ‘ from 2017 and it includes self penned tracks plus songs from Bobby Hutcherson ( Little B’s Poem ), Cole Porter ( I Love You ),and Jerome Kern ( Yesterdays ). The vibraphone is by its very essence a cool and melodic instrument and whilst it is mainly a polyphonic instrument like a sax or a trumpet, it can be played with dual hammers and exact constructions which offer harmony and semi chord offerings. However Roger’s playing is distinct and the pedal sustain resonates through the speakers like a fine red wine tickling your palate.

Roger has a wonderful piano trio backing, and their interplay is quite outstanding on ‘ Benign Tonight ‘ with Robin Aspland, Simon Thorpe and Winston Clifford in particular offering some impressive syncopated drumming.

The title track ‘ Sunset ‘ is a mid-tempo delight which captures the mood perfectly of a setting sun and the peace and tranquillity of a summer’s evening. The four musicians share the space with equal aplomb and offer delightful solos. Robin Aslpand is playing a grand piano in this studio outing which resonates so perfectly with the vibraphone, he is clearly one of the foremost pianists in the country and a joy to listen to on his piano solos.

This is the perfect album to sit down and unwind to after a strenuous day with a glass of your favourite tipple at the ready, it is stylish, rhythmic and beautifully arranged by one of the UK’s finest musicians.

‘ Sunset ‘ is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to CDs by Roger Beaujolais and his latest outing ‘ Barba Lunga ‘ from 2019 features a trio setting with Alessandro Pivi on drums and Giacomo Dominici on double bass.

Roger told me recently that he plans to release a tribute album to the great vibest Milt Jackson in the late summer / early fall time of 2020, and I for one will be eagerly awaiting this new outing, not only as a jazz lover to listen to myself, but also as a radio producer who would like to share this Professor of Music at The Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance with our listeners and offer them the opportunity to enjoy the peace and serenity that is a vibraphone.

Similar Artists and Style : Lionel Hampton, Mike Manieri, Roy Ayers, Milt Jackson, Dave Samuels, Gary Burton, Bobby Hutcherson, Cal Tjader, Red Norvo, Dave Pike, Victor Feldman, Mulatu Astatke, Karl Berger, Vince Montana.

For further info : www.rogerbeaujolais.com  ^

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