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June 2013

Bob James & David Sanborn "Quartette Humaine"

Quartette Humaine is the first creative collaboration between keyboardist-composer Bob James and alto saxophonist David Sanborn since their million-selling, Grammy-winning album, Double Vision, twenty-five years ago. With Quartette Humaine, James and Sanborn eschew the pop and R&B production values that mark large chunks of their careers and offer instead an all-acoustic quartet recital consisting of six new compositions by James, three pieces by Sanborn and a James-arranged standard.

Joined by legendary drummer Steve Gadd and bass giant James Genus, Quartette Humaine is reflective and swinging with unfailingly melodic improvising and beautiful tonalities. "We felt it's far more exciting and adventurous to move forward," James says. "Times have changed and we have changed." Adds Sanborn, "At this stage of my life, I wanted more than anything to play music that's challenging and fun, outside the style we've been associated with." It's a poignant coincidence that the recording sessions occurred a week after the death of iconic pianist-composer Dave Brubeck, and the album evokes the sound of the Brubeck quartet with Paul Desmond. Bob James and David Sanborn have produced another masterpiece.

Ed Motta "AOR"


Pure Westcoast Music from Brazil comes from latest cd by Ed Motta, "AOR".

Motta has worked with Roy Ayers, 4 Hero, Seu Jorge, Incognito, Bo Diddley and Ryuichi Sakamoto amongst others.

Ed tells: "Maybe it’s because ever since my adolescence, I’ve always been a keen record collector. So recording is the apex of my career, the moment I most look forward to, the great reason for making music.

What is AOR? A north-American expression invented by radio stations in the 70’s -“Album Oriented Rock” and also “Adult Oriented Rock”. The term AOR has several meanings and aesthetic representations: records of different kinds of music like funk, soul, Brazilian, Argentine, French, Italian, reggae music, etc, can be described as AOR. Earth Wind & Fire is one of the best examples. A legendary soul/funk band that has been called AOR because of its extremely precise production standard.

One of the AOR offshoots is the Westcoast sound, California music, from the Beach Boys (actually, sunshine pop) to the great production Midas, David Foster. Pop music at its best as far as technical quality is concerned, both musically and sonically speaking. Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, Pages, Chicago, Toto, Christopher Cross, Player, Hall & Oates, Boz Scaggs, etc, etc. Thousands of artists escorted by a whole cult following of sites, parties, new bands and artists dedicated to this universe. Naturally, all the AOR hits and rarities are available on YouTube.

This has been one of the most intricate records I’ve ever made. The mixing rate, for instance, was of one week per song. On most records, especially in Brazil, one day is set aside for each song. I used to work with two, three days. One of the greatest talents that I’ve ever encountered in sound engineering, MarioLeo, was the technician in charge. A shining sound is what you want in AOR culture, just like an extremely low bass is in a reggae recording. In the world of pop music, politeness is wrongly taken for coldness, mannerism. In AOR, technical perfection is a virtue, as in jazz and classical music.

I am very lucky to have had great musicians by my side, each one’s signature and accent is indispensable so that my arrangements can take on the life and shape I imagine for them. All of them are outstanding musicians, with personality and their own sound and style. And I got lucky: Chico Pinheiro, Bluey, leader of Incognito, as well as legendary guitarist David T.Walker, who has recorded just about everything and a little more of North-American music from the 70’s to the present day.

Before listening to this record, the modus vivendi and the AOR imaginary would put on a Hawaiian shirt à la Magnum PI, slip on a pair of loafers with no socks like in Miami Vice, get inside a convertible car and drive by coconut trees at sunset. Drive through Rio de Janeiro, Los Angeles, Miami, Hawaii. Aloha!

Lonestar "Life As We Know It"

Multi-platinum and award-winning country quartet LONESTAR has announced that their new album, LIFE AS WE KNOW IT, will be released Tuesday, June 4 via the band’s own 4 Star Records, in partnership with The Orchard.  LIFE AS WE KNOW IT marks the first full-length album release for LONESTAR in over three years and the first since the much-anticipated return of revered original vocalist RICHIE McDONALD.

The album’s second single “Maybe Someday” is currently spinning nationwide at country radio. Recently shot inNashville, the “Maybe Someday” video features the return of Sunny Mabrey (“Mad Men,” “Desperate Housewives,” “CSI: Miami”), the actress from the video for their massive hit “Amazed”.

Known both for their strong country roots as well as their multi-genre crossover appeal that’s led to a history of success on the pop/rock charts, multi-platinum-selling LONESTAR has only their own career records to break. The band has RIAA-certified sales in excess of 10 million album units since their national launch in 1995. According to Billboard, "Lonestar's chart history boasts 18 Top 10 songs, which includes three Top 5 peaks, and nine No. 1's."

2012 also marked a big year personally and professionally for LONESTAR--MICHAEL BRITT, lead guitar & backing vocals; RICHIE McDONALD, lead vocals & piano; KEECH RAINWATER, drums; and DEAN SAMS, keyboards and backing vocals--as they celebrated their 20th anniversary as a band and the return of McDONALD.

McDONALD is excited to be back with his friends and the upcoming release of LIFE AS WE KNOW IT, recently telling they had full control of the album:  “I think what’s different about this one is that we got to produce it, so we had a little more creative control.  We actually wrote nine of the twelve songs, so we really feel--for the first time in our careers--that this is really us more than ever.”  As for re-joining the group, McDONALD says, “It’s been awesome.  When we got back together, we all said that were gonna enjoy this time and I think in years past we kind of took it for granted and didn’t really enjoy the moment.  For us, we feel like there’s no pressure.  We just want to enjoy making music, enjoy being together, enjoy playing, performing live and entertaining our fans…and that’s really what it’s all about for us.”

Amy Sky "Alive & Awake"

ALIVE AND AWAKE is Amy Sky first CD of all-new material since 2001. It’s a gorgeous and inspiring collection of 16 new songs. The CD is part of a project that also includes a newsletter, website  and performances both sung and spoken, all connected to Amy’s remarkable life and career, and her work as an advocate and activist for mental health.

ALIVE AND AWAKE is a beautiful and cohesive collection of songs, chosen to reflect Amy’s belief that “art can be tremendously healing,” And although her songs have always reflected an artist whose lyrics have come from a deep place of observing the human condition, the focus for this CD coalesced around her work as a mental health advocate; in particular, the area of mood disorders and self-care.

Believing “that secrets only have power when they are secret,” in 2006 Amy went public with her own struggles with depression and postpartum psychosis, a severe form of postpartum depression. That same year, she agreed to become one of the faces of the Transforming Lives Public Awareness campaign sponsored by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, a decision that would prove to be transformative and pivotal for her.

As part of the campaign, giant posters of Amy were installed in bus shelters around Toronto. As Amy was absorbing the impact that her public revelation was having on her own life, a story came to her from a friend that would help cement her feelings about where she wanted to go with her career as a songwriter and performer. The friend told Amy about a woman who had been suffering from postpartum depression. As a result, her husband walked out, ending the marriage. The woman had reached such a point of despair that she had decided to take her own life. That dark day she saw Amy’s poster, and instead of harming herself, she reached out to the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto and found the help she needed.

That story crystallized things for Amy. “I realized that I had a choice. I’ve been blessed with a burden. If I can choose between doing music that just gets applause, or music  that saves lives, for me there’s no contest.”

From an outsider’s perspective, it seems like a natural evolution for this therapist’s daughter. Friends and colleagues can tell you that even before her own struggles with mood disorders, Amy was a nonjudgmental and deeply compassionate friend, with a canny insight into their issues. Millions of people struggle with mental health issues, but the stigma prevents them from talking about it, or from seeking help. But no one who knows her was surprised that Amy had the courage to go public and speak openly about her own story.

The campaign had an unexpected effect. Since speaking out about her experience with mood disorders, Amy had developed parallel careers: She was suddenly not just a successful singer and a go-to songwriter/arranger/producer and actor, but now people were seeking her out to speak on issues of mental health.

For years, Amy had been writing and performing material that always seemed to dig deeper than most of the standard pop fare. Songs like “I Will Take Care of You,” or her musical interpretation of Dr. Maya Angelou’s powerful poem “Phenomenal Woman,” leapt off her CDs and became hits. People would tell her that when these songs came on the radio, they would have to stop doing what they were doing. Amy was staggered by the number of people who approached her to say that they had to pull their cars off the road, because the songs touched them so deeply that they would weep when they heard them. And so while she was building a fan base through the usual channels of radio and video airplay on multiple formats — pop, rock, country – she was also building a loyal fan base of people who would write letters or come to shows and tell her how her music inspired them, or pulled them through a difficult time and uplifted them.




History Of The Eagles on DVD/Blu-ray

History of the Eagles, the iconic band's acclaimed documentary, is now available on DVD, Blu-Ray and as a limited edition super deluxe box set. This exceptional three-disc set includes History of the Eagles Part One and History of the Eagles Part Two, as well as Eagles Live At The Capital Centre - March 1977, featuring never-before-released performances from the Eagles’ two-night stand at Washington, D.C.’s Capital Center during the legendary Hotel California tour.


Susan James "Driving Toward The Sun"

Susan James earned high praise for her 2011 release, “Highways Ghosts Hearts & Home” of which Ryan Adams, tweeted about her “great songs” and killer band. Now in 2013 Susan James returns with the lushly written and well produced "Driving Toward The Sun". Although Susan has many musical influences, DJ's familiar with the music of everyone from Lucinda Williams to Byrds, Beach Boys, Linda Ronstadt, Eagles and even Fairport Convention will hear echoes of their legacy laced throughout James' music, which sparkles with her compelling lyrics, vocals and overall sound.

Teaming up with Ryan Ulyate, producer for Tom Petty and George Harrison among others, Ulyate is just one of the many talented people who James attracts to her projects. “When Ryan and I began, we talked about how it should be as acoustic as possible, but still have a big sound. Our aim was to get the acoustic guitar to really rock like the guitars in the Rolling Stones 'Street Fighting Man', for instance… We named the sound we were attempting 'The Wall Of Intimacy’. And every song had to have it in a way, no matter how big or small the song was. I think we achieved it, and I'm proud to share it with everyone now.”

From the transitional feeling of 'Driving Toward The Sun' to the intensity of 'U-Haul In The Driveway', and 'House Of Love', listeners will be able to visualize these snapshots of a longterm relationship that has completely fallen apart. 'Anniversary' and 'Tule Fog' and 'Mission Bells' are more stripped down acoustic tracks, where listeners will sense a glimmer of hope in some of the toughest times.

James has been described by The Los Angeles Times as a “a master at exploring the emotional and sonic possibilities”, and Blurt Magazine noted, “excellent songwriting and an eye for musical details”. On "Driving Towards The Sun", she affirms the praise with insightful and big-picture stories. An adept and seasoned performer, Susan opened for both Lindsey Buckingham and Bob Weir throughout their respective six-week national tours and also supported acts from Richard Thompson, Son Volt, Rufus Wainright to Daniel Lanois just to name a few. She is currently booking tours for 2013.

Tom Kell & Emiko Woods "Glory Bound"

Music industry veteran singer-songwriter Tom Kell ('Lonely Town', 'One Sad Night', 'Angeltown', 'Complicated Luck', 'This Desert City') delivers a fresh and deeply spiritual album with a widely embraced sound. Written and performed as a collaboration with newcomer Emiko Woods, the result is like an old wine of masterful, memorable melodies captured in new wine skins of contemporary, emotional, harmonic textures.

Among the throngs of fans who have enjoyed this drink, include the famed Ben Harper, JD Souther and Karla Bonoff. Comparisons with the Civil Wars, Buddy & Julie Miller and Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell lend credibility to a style and sound that legitimately stands on its own.

"Glory Bound" is full of the kind of americana gospel music that is rare these days. Smart and rootsy, it moves your soul and lightens your spirit. Produced in a small church studio in Long Beach California, it feels as big as the heavens above, and yet stays true to the pure and simple sounds of a classic genre. Musical contributions include industry legend Bob Glaub (Jackson Browne, John Fogerty) and contemporary master composer and instrumentalist TJ Hill (Future of Forestry).

How it came to be that a seasoned storyteller (who has recorded with such legends as JD Souther, Timothy B Schmit, Valerie Carter, Karla Bonoff and Kenny Edwards) partnered with a bright young unknown singer, is as simple as the longtime friendships they share with each other’s families and their common love of Americana music. What was inevitable soon followed.

After co-writing for several months and beginning to share their songs in churches and local venues, their music found resonance in the hearts of its listeners; but more importantly solidified an undeniable chemistry as musical partners. In 2011, Tom and Emiko began to perform regularly at the First Baptist Church of Lakewood, Tom's home church. With the very first musical offering, the congregation fell in love with Tom and Emiko; and soon after, an invitation was extended to record an album with the church acting as label. A year later, "Glory Bound" was realized.

Tom Kell: Glory Bound

Thanks to Peter Holmstedt at HEMIFRAN

Jude Johnstone "Shatter"

Jude Johnstone is one of the most respected and acclaimed songwriters of her generation. Johnstone’s lyrical depth and memorable melodies have attracted an impressive list of recording legends that have covered her songs including Johnny Cash, Stevie Nicks, Bette Midler, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Trisha Yearwood, Jennifer Warnes, and Clarence Clemmons. Music supervisors have begun to spotlight Johnstone as well, with television shows Lifetime’s “Army Wives”, Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie” and Fox’s “Lie To Me” using her songs in emotional scenes and ending credits.

"Shatter" is Johnstone’s 6th release on BoJak, returning her to the early roots of her music around the time “Big Man” Clarence Clemmons discovered her. "Shatter" brings her closer to the gospel, blues and reggae tracks found on her early demos when she first arrived in Los Angeles. "Shatter" features two songs from those days, “Free Man”, and "When Does Love Get Easier”, with soaring background vocals by Maxayn Lewis.

Johnstone states “'Shatter', is about reclaiming your power by giving it up and looking deep at your shortcomings, while finding the courage to change. The old self shatters in order to find a better self”.

“Touchdown Jesus” was inspired when she visited Dr John in New Orleans. When explaining directions to his home, Dr John told Jude, “When you get to the statue of Touchdown Jesus take a left”. Johnstone could not pass up that imagery and wrote “Touchdown Jesus,” which simmers with a sultry New Orleans attitude. “The Underground Man” is reminiscent of a Tom Waits’ tune with evocative lyrics and phrasing.

Title track, “Shatter”, is a gospel prayer, of sorts, which makes use of a New Orleans style brass ensemble and the heartfelt vocals of Johnstone, and the incomparable Maxayn Lewis. It is powerful, poignant and thought provoking and a true indicator of the depth of wisdom and creativity from which Jude works.

"Shatter" is Johnstone’s most diverse collection so far, spanning several musical genres, delving honestly, and even eerily at times (i.e. Tom Waits, Randy Newman) into a world of experiences that have led her characters down a darkened path only to emerge from it, ultimately.

Jude Johnstone: Shatter
Thanks to Peter Holmstedt at HEMIFRAN