PAUL BROWN: GUITAR
Two decades into a multi-faceted career marked by dynamic explorations of the possibilities of contemporary jazz and R&B, two-time Grammy Award winner Paul Brown keeps his grooving momentum going with an amped-up visit to The Funky Joint—his sixth solo album and Woodward Avenue Records debut.
The guitarist and composer’s eagerly anticipated new collection features performances by many of the artists that he has produced or played with over the years, including Boney James, Bob James, Euge Groove, Marc Antoine, Bob Baldwin and Darren Rahn; several tracks also feature Marco Basci, who plays keyboards with Brown when he performs live.
The multi-talented performer had the unique experience in 2006 of scoring #1 Radio & Records chart hits as both an artist and producer. “Winelight,” the second single from his sophomore album The City, was ranked by Mediabase as the genre’s most spun track of that year. Radio & Records and Mediabase declared “The Rhythm Method,” the first single from Brown’s third release White Sand, the most played song of 2007. The title track from saxophonist Jessy J’s Brown-produced debut Tequila Moon earned the same distinction for 2008.
In 2011, Brown performed many European shows, including appearances with Antoine at Pizza Express in London and a set at the 2011 Smooth Jazz Festival Augsberg (Germany), which featured guest appearances from Jessy J, Gerald Albright and keyboardist Jonathan Fritzen. Stateside, Brown headlined numerous gigs with saxophonist Darren Rahn, a successful genre producer who has scored multiple hits for artists like Eric Darius, Dave Koz and the late Wayman Tisdale. “The Producers” tour found Brown and Rahn playing each other’s songs as well as hits they produced for other artists. The two will be performing more dates together in 2012 and 2013.
> www.PaulBrownJazz.com > Paul Brown on iTunes
WENDY MOTEN: VOCALIST
The Memphis born singer has earned a vast collection of professional credits in the R&B, Contemporary and Jazz genres. She has supported the worldwide tours of some of the most important entertainers of our time and has performed on numerous Grammy award winning albums.
Wendy has toured with Julio Iglesias for the past 12 years and has performed with Michael Bolton, Freddie Jackson, Michael McDonald, Peabo Bryson, Stevie Wonder and Kirk Whalum.
Blessed with one of the most incredible voices in this world, Wendy Moten is a singer's singer. We are honored to have her featured on "Without You," from Michael J. Thomas....produced by the great Paul Brown.
> www.wendymoten.com > wendy moten on iTunes
NATE NAJAR: GUITAR
Considered one of the most interesting and stylish young guitarists on the jazz scene, Nate Najar has arrived, in a major way, as a Groove Jazz solo artist. He has performed with traditional jazz artists like Clark Terry, Ken Peplowski and Ray Kennedy and regularly plays with the world's top smooth jazz artists. A personal and professional achievement, Nate has also shared the stage numerous times with the Joe Byrd Trio, to pay tribute to the late Charlie Byrd, who has been one of the biggest influences on his style.
In the late fall of 2009, Nate released his first Smooth Jazz CD, Until Now, which hit the charts in style and announced his presence on the national jazz music scene. Until Now was Nate’s fourth solo CD, which followed his previous recordings, Live At the Side Door, Christmas with the Nate Najar Trio and The Nate Najar Trio - I'm All Smiles.
"Groove Me," a unique and funky collaboration with legendary songstress, Melba Moore, produced by Rick Braun for Woodward Avenue Records was released in October 2010 and has been rockin' the charts for over a full year. The second single from the EP, "Midnight Groove," a Najar original, was released to National Radio in October, 2011.
> www.NateNajar.com > Nate Najar on iTunes
ELAN TROTMAN: SAX
Saxophonist Elan Trotman, quickly becoming one of jazz’s most thrilling and emotive performers, continues to stand out and push boundaries as a composer, performer, teacher and recording artist. Trotman’s playing, though inspired by Grover Washington, Jr. and Kirk Whalum, among others, displays his own fresh ideas and distinctive tone. So much so that he's a 3-time winner of the New England Urban Music Award for Best Jazz Male, nominated for a Boston Music Award in 2010 for Best Jazz Male, and winner for Instrumentalist of the Year (Barbados) in 2011. Born and raised in Barbados, the native island of pop star Rihanna, and educated at the world-renowned Berklee College Of Music in Boston, Trotman approaches jazz in his own way. Blending Caribbean rhythms from his roots with skillful horn textures, his playing is full of surprises. “I like to stretch out, take chances on my solos.” Inspiring and eminently listenable, Trotman’s music is never predictable.
MELBA MOORE: VOCALIST
A Tony Award Winner and three-time Grammy Nominee, Melba Moore is known as one of the greatest performers of our era. Over 20 albums and 40 singles later (including two #1s), Melba continues to amaze fans and listeners with her incredible voice and range, as well as her incomparable ability to make great music even better. Melba inspires others with her energy and talent, while also feeding off the creative environment fashioned by the great musicians she works with. Woodward Avenue Records is about great music and great musicians, and it doesn’t get any better than Melba Moore.
> www.MelbaMoore.com > Melba Moore on iTunes
MICHAEL J THOMAS: SAX
Raised in a small Kentucky town on sumptuous helpings of R&B, funk and soul by icons such as Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder and Prince, Michael J. Thomas studied piano at the age of seven but switched to saxophone —shortly after discovering contemporary jazz artists like Yellowjackets and Dave Grusin on a Technics demo disc that came with a stereo his dad purchased. He earned a music scholarship to the University of Kentucky, but left school early to pursue his professional career. Thomas was just 19 when he joined the Jive Rockets, which opened for the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Big Bad Voo Doo Daddy and Bill Haley’s Original Comets.
Since the March 2010 release of his highly acclaimed, successful and chart-topping album, "City Beat," this Destin, Florida resident is fast becoming one of the genre’s brightest new stars.
In August 2011, Thomas released the widely popular single "I Think About Amy."
> www.MichaelJThomas.net > Michael J Thomas on iTunes
BART BRANDJES: VOCALIST
A finalist on "The Voice of Holland," Bart has a voice and talent that the world is blessed with very rarely. We are proud to introduce Bart to the American public and look forward to his recording project that will be out to National radio in the late fall of 2012! Blue-eyed soul takes on a whole new meaning! To quote a Grammy winning producer and artist, "You don't hear voices like this........ever!"
> Bart Brandjes > Bart Brandjes on iTunes
BROTHER STRUT: Band
There are few bands that can boast members who have played on countless hit records that have sold millions and performed with the biggest artists in the music business. Brother Strut has a whole gang of them, and is a collective of some of the best session musicians in the world. Band members have performed and recorded with artists such as Stevie Wonder, Joe Cocker, Elton John, Tina Turner and Amy Winehouse.
JONATHAN FRITZEN: KEYS
The key attribute of any truly successful artist is the ability to consistently write music of the quality that can shape a career. This doesn’t always come easy, but in the case of writer, producer and keyboard player Jonathan Fritzén, he makes it appear to be the most natural thing in the world.
Fritzén was born into a very musical family in Stockholm to a Swedish mother and an American father. Throughout this fast-track progression to contemporary jazz stardom, Fritzén has described his musical evolution as a great learning experience. Already the owner of a Billboard #1 tune and 3 chart-topping albums, there appears to be no stopping this incredible musician from becoming the standard by which all others will be measured.
The single "Friday NIght" was released on the Woodward Avenue Records label in the summer of 2011 and rocketed to #1 on the smoothjazz.com and IndieStar charts and # 2 on Billboard.
> www.JonathanFritzen.com > Jonathan Fritzén on iTunes
GRACE KELLY : SAX & VOCALS
When it comes to singer/ saxophonist/ composer/ lyricist/ arranger/ educator Grace Kelly, people seem to be divided into two groups: those who marvel at her proficiency, creativity and ever-accelerating growth, and those who have yet to encounter the 20-year-old wunderkind. The ranks of the former category are growing by the day. Wynton Marsalis was so impressed with Kelly’s three-night stand as guest of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra that he invited her to join the ensemble at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater in Washington, D.C. for Barack Obama’s Inauguration Celebration. Harry Connick, Jr. heard Kelly in a master class on a December afternoon and brought her on stage to sit in with his band that night. Since then, Kelly has been voted "Best Jazz Act” in Boston four consecutive years in the FNX/Phoenix Best Music Poll, and then voted Best National Jazz Act in 2012. She has received the ASCAP Foundation’s Young Jazz Composers Award in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011 and won "Jazz Artist of the Year” at the Boston Music Awards in both 2008 and 2010. The 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 Downbeat Critics Poll added to her the list naming her one of the "Alto Saxophone Rising Stars”, the youngest artist ever to be named to the music poll.
> Grace Kelly
SARA WASSERMAN: VOCALIST
Daughter of Rob Wasserman, legendary Grammy® Award-winning bassist — was literally born to sing. Over the course of the past seven years, her family’s roots and shoots led her to musical collaborations with Lou Reed, Christian McBride, Aaron Neville, Vernon Reed, DJ Logic and Stephen Perkins. The result was "Solid Ground," an album of songs released on the Pacific Coast Jazz label that is both the reflection of a beautiful creative soul and a brilliant showcase for a truly spectacular voice. Woodward Avenue Records is pleased to welcome Sara for her rockin’ single collaboration with producer and guitarist Nate Najar.
> www.SaraWasserman.com > Sara Wasserman on iTunes
NATHAN MITCHELL: KEYBOARDIST/ COMPOSER
Producer, Multi-Instrumentalist, Composer and Singer, Nathan Mitchell, has become one of the most sought after talents in Smooth Jazz.. A well known gospel artist, Nate has performed with many of the biggest names in smooth jazz since his entry into the genre in 2011.
ANDREA RAZZAUTI : GUITAR
Andrea’s father (gifted in his own right) presented him with his first guitar when he was only 9 years old; by 11, he was playing in a local band and in his early teens performing professionally. Opening for many well-known popular bands, he received high-praise and an exalted notoriety for a variety of musical styles, ranging from traditional classical Italian to R&B and pop/rock. His fans followed him to many of the most prominent Italian (and European) venues. While continuing as a featured recording artist, it was inevitable that he would ultimately turn to jazz. He studied such masters as Villalobos, Wes Montgomery, Toninho Horta and George Benson. In the 80’s his artistic interests and musical abilities reached an even greater level of sophistication. Recognizing an indefinable affinity between the classical and jazz guitar, he successfully connected the two. Andrea’s passion and fervor translated into an even deeper dedication to his musical compositions. In the 90’s he composed, arranged and produced his first release: Blu Oltremare, a captivatingly seamless blend of classic, Brazilian and jazz.
> Andrea Razzauti
TIERRA : Latin Soul and R&B Band
"TIERRA," the famous Latin Soul and R&B band founded by Rudy Salas in East Los Angeles, is back………… with a brand new single titled…….. “Take You There.” Best known for their mega-hit, “Together,” Tierra also produced classics like "Gonna Find Her", "Memories" and "Zoot Suit Boogie". Named "Best R&B Vocal Group" by four leading magazines including Billboard, Tierra’s three decade commitment shows a dedication that can only be truly understood …....by listening to their smooth and soulful sounds.
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