Weekend of Jazz Artists – 2018

Earl Klugh

“Klugh…a guitarist with impeccable technique.”
The New York Times

“Klugh…a Style That Pleases…the performance consistently delighted a capacity crowd.”
Mike Joyce, The Washington Post

Since GRAMMY®-WINNER and 13 Time GRAMMY®- NOMINEE Earl Klugh released his inaugural album in 1976, the Detroit-born master of the acoustic-classical guitar has become one of the most imitated icons of the instrument. He has released over 40 records, 24 of which have been on Billboard’s top-10 list of jazz albums and 6 of which have made it to the No. 1 slot. Klugh’s recordings have received 13 Grammy® nominations (including one for his latest release, HandPicked) – and his collaboration with pianist Bob James, One on One, walked away with the 1980 Grammy® Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album.

In 2016, Earl celebrated the 40th Anniversary of his debut album Earl Klugh (1976, Blue Note Records). His show highlights selections from over 250 original compositions and featuring Klugh’s favorite standards, influences and collaborations from throughout his illustrious career.

“I’ve been so fortunate to be able to create the music that I’ve wanted to create, and work with some of the greatest artists of our time,” says Klugh. “It’s hard to believe it’s been 40 years since that first record!”

“You know, this one really caught me by surprise,” reflects Klugh. “When I look up, time has just flown by. But, I’m still here, and I’m still playing! I’m just so pleased and happy to have the career I’ve had so far. I’ve met so many wonderful people, in and out of the musical realm. I’m living a really wonderful life where you just have to pinch yourself sometimes, because there are so many things to be grateful for.” EarlKlugh.com

Chris Botti

Since the release of his 2004 critically acclaimed CD When I Fall In Love, Chris Botti has become the largest-selling American instrumental artist. His success has crossed over to audiences usually reserved for pop muisc and his ongoing association with PBS has led to four #1 jazz albums, as well as multiple Gold, Platinum and Grammy Awards. Most recently, his latest album Impressions won the Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental. Performing worldwide and selling more than four million albums, he has found a form of creative expression that begins in jazz and expands beyond the limits of any single genre.

Over the past three decades, Botti has recorded and performed with the best in music, including Sting, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Josh Groban, Yo-Yo Ma, Michael Bublé, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, John Mayer, Andrea Bocelli, Joshua Bell, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and even Frank Sinatra. Hitting the road for as many as 300 days per year, the trumpeter has also performed with many of the finest symphonies and at some of the world’s most prestigious venues from Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl to the Sydney Opera House and the Real Teatro di San Carlo in Italy.

Impressions, Botti’s 2012 Columbia Records and Grammy winning release, is the latest in a stellar parade of albums – including When I Fall In Love (2004), To Love Again: The Duets (2005), Italia (2007), and the CD/DVD Chris Botti in Boston (2009) – that has firmly established him as a clarion voice in the American contemporary music scene. Playing with his uniquely expressive sound and soaring musical imagination, Botti is joined on the disc by featured artists Andrea Bocelli, Vince Gill, Herbie Hancock, Mark Knopfler, and David Foster in a warm, intimate celebration of melodic balladry.

With Impressions and the albums that preceded it, Chris Botti has thoroughly established himself as one of the important, innovative figures of the contemporary music world. ChrisBotti.com

Peabo Bryson with special guest Deniece Williams

Peabo Bryson has established a career as one of the premier male vocalists in contemporary music of the last quarter century. The Greenville, South Carolina native has enjoyed an unprecedented, across the board level of international success despite the passage of time and changes in popular music. Bryson has the distinction of being the first artist in music history to have separate records topping four different charts.

It was with the help of famous Disney animated films that earned Peabo his two GRAMMY’s® and the songs, two Oscars®. The first was 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast” with international pop singer Celine Dion which also topped the pop chart. The very next year, Peabo struck gold with a Grammy® and an Oscar® with Regina Belle for “A Whole New World” (Aladdin’s Theme) from Aladdin. Peabo also starred on stage in the lead role of “Raisin,” as The Wizard in “The Wiz” and was featured in the Michigan Opera’s 100th anniversary production of “Porgy & Bess.” He released three Christmas CDs, lovingly filled with music he’s performed for several years.

And now the legendary voice of love, is collaborating with powerhouse producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for his 21st album titled Stand For Love. This music dream team has delivered something music and music fans didn’t know was missing… R&B HITS. Stand For Love is an anticipated and epic return to popular music by one of the industries most gifted and cherished voices. TheRealPeaboBryson.com

Deniece Williams, born as Deniece Chandler, is an American 4–time GRAMMY® Award winning singer, songwriter and record producer. She is best known for her hits including “Free”, “Let’s Hear It for the Boy”, “It’s Gonna Take a Miracle” and her many vocal duets with Johnny Mathis.

In the early 70’s, Deniece became a backup vocalist for Stevie Wonder as part of “Wonderlove”. She then signed with Columbia Records and teamed up with Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire, and Charles Stepney to release her 1976 debut album This Is Niecy. The single “Free” reached #2 on the Black Singles chart, #25 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #1 on the British Singles chart. In 1978, she shared a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with Johnny Mathis with the duet “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late” which also topped the Black Singles and Adult Contemporary charts. The song would be the first of many hits the two would record together. Williams also topped the dance charts with her disco single “I’ve Got the Next Dance”. In 1984, Deniece released “Let’s Hear It for the Boy”, the title track reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was featured on the Footloose soundtrack.

In 1980, her musical career path began change toward Gospel music. She joined Phillip Bailey (Earth, Wind and Fire fame), Billy Davis and Marilyn McCoo to present a gospel show at The Roxy in Los Angeles. After that, both Bailey and Williams decided to pursue careers in Christian music. She released her first gospel album, “So Glad I Know” which brought her two of her 4 GRAMMY® awards. Deniece recorded the Gospel album This Is My Song, which brought her another GRAMMY® award for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album.

Deniece has an incredible four-octave range and distinctive soprano voice. According to Monica Haynes of Post-Gazette.com, “Williams has the kind of range that would make Mariah Carey quiver”! DenieceWilliams.com

Ramsey Lewis

Ramsey Lewis has been an iconic leader in contemporary jazz for over 50 years with an unforgettable sound and outgoing personality that has allowed him to crossover to the pop and R&B charts.

The Ramsey Lewis Trio became a fixture on the Chicago jazz scene releasing their debut album, Ramsey Lewis & His Gentlemen of Jazz in 1956. Lewis earned his first gold record and a Grammy for Best Jazz Performance, for their version of Dobie Gray’s hit “The In Crowd.” He hit the pop charts in 1966 with versions of “Hang On Sloopy” and “Wade In The Water.” Throughout the years, Lewis’ trio has undergone membership changes, all the while staying true to Lewis’ high musical standards.

Throughout his illustrious career, Lewis, an NEA Jazz Master, joined forces with countless artists to create new and innovative music. His collaborations included Nancy Wilson, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, a series of duets with Dr. Billy Taylor and many others. In 1995, Lewis launched the side project Urban Knights, in which he collaborated with a handful of successful crossover jazz stars, including Grover Washington, Jr., Earl Klugh, and Dave Koz. In 1997, Lewis added disc jockey to his resume, hosting a popular show on Chicago’s WNUA-FM that ran until 2009. He also syndicated Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis, that broadcast on jazz radio stations and PBS TV nationwide, featuring live performances by a long list of venerable jazz artists including the likes of Tony Bennett, Dave Brubeck and Chick Corea.

After playing for years in an acoustic trio, the three-time Grammy winner released Taking Another Look. Lewis rekindled his electric roots and his 1974 career-defining album Sun Goddess through a collection of re-recorded tracks from the original disc perfectly balanced with five new tunes. For the title track “Sun Goddess”, Lewis re-edited the original studio recording featuring Earth, Wind and Fire. Lewis and his Electric Band breathed new life into classic covers, such as Stevie Wonder’s “Living For The City” and the tender interpretation of the timeless “Betcha By Golly Wow.” “I’ve recorded maybe 70-80 albums, and this album is definitely among the top five” said Lewis.

Showing no signs of slowing down, Ramsey is currently working on a new record which he will begin recording in August with his long time band known as the Urban Knights. RamseyLewis.com

Najee

Two-time GRAMMY® nominated saxophonist and flautist, Najee has made a career following his heart and musical intuition pushing musical boundaries which have made him an international pioneer in the music industry. Having collaborated with everyone in the music business from Prince, Quincy Jones to Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan and Herbie Hancock, Najee’s technical agility, grace, compositional prowess, passion and fearless genre bending have made him one of the most sought after musicians of his generation. With two Platinum and four Gold albums under his belt, Najee is an icon whose musical vision spawned an entire new genre by fusing the music close to his heart (R&B and Jazz).

Born in Greenwich Village in New York City and raised in Jamaica, Queens; he is an alumnus of the New England Conservatory of Music. When he emerged onto the scene with his soulful R&B and jazz fused sound, it wasn’t long before his trademark soprano found a home at the top of the charts and he carved out his own unique niche in the musical landscape. “My first love was tenor saxophone and flute,” confides Najee. “It was my brother Fareed who got me to play soprano saxophone.” While a student at the New England Conservatory he studied saxophone performance and performed with George Russell and Jaki Byard big bands. After the conservatory, Najee returned to New York and landed a gig with Chaka Khan along with his brother and guitarist Fareed, now his manager.

Performing at Nelson Mandela’s birthday celebration in South Africa, performing at the White House for President Clinton, recording and touring with Prince, winning an NAACP Image Award for “Best Jazz Artist” and being the recipient of two Soul Train Awards are just a few of the honors and accomplishments this highly sought after musician has achieved.

Najee says, “I enjoy the challenge of recording music that can be commercially accessible and diverse at the same time. Making music is exciting and I am always evolving. As a musician the love of performing for people whether in studio or live is still a gratifying experience.” Najee’s latest release is Poetry in Motion. NajeeOfficial.com

The Rippingtons Ft. Russ Freeman

GRAMMY® nominated contemporary jazz group The Rippingtons, founded by leader Russ Freeman, provide musical elixir delighting devout fans and attracting new ones for over 30 years. Under Freeman’s production, the group has released 22 albums, all of which have attained top 5 Billboard status, with 5 of them reaching #1. Jazziz magazine called their debut album, “Moonlighting”, “the number one most influential contemporary jazz album of all time.”

The group’s influences are wide-ranging, from instrumental pop, to rock, to world music, to EDM, to R&B. Some artists having recorded with the Rippingtons include Arturo Sandoval, Jeffrey Osbourne, James Taylor, Kirk Whalum, Kenny G, Dave Grusin, the late Joe Sample, Dave Koz, David Benoit, Patti Austin, Peter White, Rick Braun, Zak Wylde, and many more. The Rippingtons were chosen Best Group 2000 by Billboard BET, and Best Group 2 years in a row, 2001 and 2002 by the Oasis Awards.

The Nashville born, LA based guitarist Russ Freeman, began studying classical guitar at eleven. Musical inspiration is a triage of sonics, melody and visual reference,” states Freeman. His approach to composition is similar to that of a mixed-medium painter, in which he engages all the senses and employs disparate techniques. Hurling unique instrumentation, wide-ranging dynamics and contrasting textures upon his auditory canvas, he pushes the boundaries sonically, harmonically, rhythmically and emotionally.

“I have always attributed the band’s success to our loyal fans,” says the humble maverick. “I try to always respect the limited time we have, and treat each day as the last,” shares the visionary and virtuosic guitarist, keyboardist, composer and producer. This spiritual grounding and deep understanding of how to operate in gratitude, has allowed the multi-instrumentalist to explore the realms of possibility, making him a pioneer in the music game. Rippingtons.com

Adam Hawley

Adam Hawley, a resident of Los Angeles, started his music career in the Portland Area of Oregon before moving to Southern California. The music bug bit early when he came across his parent’s record collection, which ranged from Earth, Wind, & Fire & The Brothers Johnson to Elvis. Adam started piano at age 8 before embarking on his career as a guitarist at 9 years old! Touring came just 5 years later in a bluegrass band that performed extensively throughout the Pacific Northwest followed by a blues/rock band touring Oregon and Washington.

Adam moved to LA at 17 to attend the University of Southern California. He received his Bachelors, Masters & Doctorate from USC in Studio/Jazz Guitar. He has gone on to hold countless master classes and clinics worldwide and currently teaches at the Musician’s Institute, Chaffey College, and Saddleback College.

Adam was known as a prolific guitarist to the stars, appearing with a who’s who list of artists in a wide variety of genres including Dave Koz, Jennifer Lopez, Brian Culbertson, Natalie Cole, Brian McKnight, Gerald Albright, Dave Koz and Friends Cruise and American Idol to name a few.

In 2015 he was tapped to join Maurice White’s new label Kalimba Music. His debut record “Just The Beginning” garnered numerous accolades and three #1 hit songs, unprecedented for a new artist. The first single “35th St. ft Eric Darius” had the longest run at #1 on Billboard in 2016. He was named Debut Artist of the Year from Smooth Jazz News and Jazz Trax. His second record “Double Vision” released this year. AdamHawley.com

Al Turner

Bass Guitar Impresario, Al Turner, affectionately called “The Burner” grew up in Detroit and began playing bass at age 12. He has been playing professionally since the early ’80s and currently serves as Earl Klugh and KEM’s musical director. Al has recorded with Aretha Franklin, Anita Baker, Earl Klugh, Oleta Adams, Nancy Wilson, Bob James, Randy Crawford, Ron Isley, Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight to name a few. Ms. Anita Baker proclaims, “The Burner’ holds it down. Locks it up right and tight,” and R&B Superstar KEM calls Al Turner, “the baddest bass player in the world.” You can also hear Turner on many television and radio commercials.

Al maintains an unbelievable touring schedule, touring with Bob James, Oleta Adams, KEM and Klugh. Al released his fourth CD titled, Simply Amazing, which has enjoyed national success. His artistry exceeds category and has been featured on many television and radio commercials as well. We look forward to his return to the Weekend of Jazz stage. Turner has recorded and worked with Earl Klugh since 1994. AlTurner.com