Goodnight everyone, and have a smoooooooooth weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

For some time this weekly feature has focused on specific themes. Time to highlight some new, more contemporary pieces that are very pleasant. Might encourage you to run out and buy a new CD. Enjoy as we get started!

Sax man Dave Koz’s 20th album as leader and, surprisingly, his first solo album of original material since 2010 focuses on optimism.  Recorded at the beginning of the pandemic, Koz’s “A New Day” features contemporary jazz with undertones of soul.

In the opening track, “Summertime In NYC,” there’s a definite seasonal summer vibe enhanced by a nearly scat vocal from Brian McKnight.

One reviewer called the track “an instant mood elevator.”

Hard to believe Koz has been around for three decades. This platinum-selling artist has had 9 GRAMMY® nominations, 12 No. 1 albums, 13 sold-out cruises, and sold-out tours across the country.

“Time After Time” is a song dating back to 1947. Sammy Cahn did the lyrics. Jule Styne wrote the music.

Los Angeles-based trumpeter /singer /guitarist /band leader Ilya Serov came to the US from Russia in 2008 at the age of 21. His latest album contains the Cahn/Styne standard.

After hearing Serov perform in LA, Dave Koz invited him to be a guest artist on his popular Dave Koz and Friends at Sea Jazz Cruise.

“Ilya really is a talented trumpeter and a great singer. This guy has got the goods. Ilya Serov – remember that name.” 
Dave Koz

And what in the world is Serov playing in that photo?

“People have been asking me a lot about my new horn lately,” said Serov. “This instrument was custom built in collaboration with a great trumpet maker Andy Taylor from the UK. I call it ‘Jazzohorn.’ It has the warmth of the flugelhorn, but it also has a unique, breathy quality to the sound. A bonus feature is that it looks like a saxophone, which I always wanted to play, so the Jazzohorn gets me closer to that childhood aspiration!”

As the above video demonstrates anybody and everybody today and over the past three decades is doing the old standards, defined as musical compositions of established popularity, considered part of the “standard repertoire” of one or several genres. Standards may cross over from one genre’s repertoire to another’s as we’ll hear in our next selection.

Cole Porter wrote “Night and Day” for a 1932 musical, and specifically for Fred Astaire.

Jazz guitarist Chris Standring has just released his first orchestral album. All the tracks are standards.

Porter suffered a near tragic accident when in 1937, five years after he wrote “Night and Day,” he was thrown from a horse that fell on him and crushed both of his legs. For the rest of his life, he’d be in constant, often crippling pain, going through more than 30 operations. One of his legs was finally amputated in 1958. Porter lost all desire, and never wrote another song. He died six years later in 1964.

The last time you heard noted pianist David Benoit it was probably his bouncy rendition of “Linus and Lucy” but he’s a lot more than that. You name the genre and Benoit has done it: funk and electric fusion, classical, acoustic modern jazz, instrumental pop and R&B. They all come into play in Benoit’s latest album released in February, “A Midnight Rendezvous.” There are three big band style numbers including “Generations” that features textbook jazz rhythms and a fair amount of swing.

“COVID gave me a rare opportunity to sit back and do some serious composing. Usually I only have a few weeks to prepare for a record but this time I had over a year! I’ve had several opportunities during my 40-year career of making records but never actually wrote new original big-band material, so I had the time during COVID,” Benoit told JazzTimes.

That’s it for this week.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a good weekend.

We close with saxophonist Jessy J. Born in Oregon and raised in southern California of Hispanic heritage, Jessy is a jazz studies graduate from USC. She paved the way for her success recording with Michael Buble and touring with Jessica Simpson, The Temptations and Michael Bolton. 

Jessy’s latest album was released last month, featuring original material based on soul and blues sounds of the 60s and 70’s. Even the album cover art is reminiscent of albums of that era. This track was influenced by one of Jessy’s favorites, the late saxman Cannonball Adderley.

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