I recently renewed my Spotify Premium subscription (actually started a new one, which earned me 250 Starbucks stars; gotta work the angles, you know) and became recacquainted with the music of smooth jazz and New Age keyboardist Keiko Matsui. Matsui-san started the piano at age 5 and became interested in jazz and composition in junior high school (roughly between age 11 and 14, a pretty amazing feat). She studied children’s culture at Japan Women’s College, then studied at the Yamaha Music Foundation. During that time she started the band Cosmos, with whom she recorded 8 albums, and met her husband, New Age shakuhachi (a traditional Japanese bamboo flute) player Kazu Matsui, who produced her first solo album, 1987’s A Drop Of Water. Her music blends Eastern and Western music with her compositions.
From her 2013 album Soul Quest, “Dream Seeker.”
From her 1995 album Sapphire, “Safari.”
The list of tour dates on her website indicates she’ll be working in and around Russia for the month of March.
Keiko Matsui, your Two for Tuesday, February 19, 2019.
The Weather Channel (US) used to be one of the best places to hear smooth jazz. Six times an hour, during their “Local on the 8’s” segments, they would display the current conditions and forecast accompanied by a smooth jazz number. TWC actually produced a couple of albums over the years, which are sort of collector’s items now that they’re playing pop music instead. Anyway, if you watched The Weather Channel up until a few years ago, there’s a better than average chance you’ve heard keyboardist Chris Geith (rhymes with “bite”). I first heard of Chris on Facebook, although I can’t remember if he contacted me or I just found him there. In any event, he’s recorded five albums, the first, Prime Time (2007) recorded as the Chris Geith Group, and has collaborated with guitarist David Wells on a sixth.
He’s recorded extensively for TV, for shows such as Hometime (PBS), That’s My Baby (Animal Planet), and Behind the Music (VH-1), as well as playing piano for Julie Andrews and opening for Paul Anka. The band has been #1 in smooth jazz, jazz fusion, and contemporary urban/R&B on the site MP3.com. Prime Time was selected “Top Net CD” with over 1.4 milion downloads.
From 2008’s Timeless World, here is “Restless Heart.”
From his most recent album, 2016’s Well Tempered Love, the title track.
Chris has a YouTube channel where you can listen to all his albums and link to him on social media.
Chris Geith, your Two for Tuesday, February 12, 2018.
Keyboardist and trombonist (!) Brian Culbertson is from Decatur, Illinois. He learned to play a lot of instruments in grammar school and high school, including piano, drums, bass, euphonium, and many others. He attended DePaul University in Chicago, whre he met his future wife Michelle, known professionally as Micaela Haley, through a friend. They’ve worked together frequently, initially on commercials for McDonalds and State Farm (a couple of good Illinois companies). His influences include Marcus Miller, George Duke, The Yellowjackets, Chicago (several of whose members were also DePaul graduates) and Earth, Wind & Fire.
He’s recorded 17 albums (including two live albums), several of which reached #1 on the jazz chart. Here’s “Long Night Out,” featuring Candy Dulfer on saxophone, from his 2014 #1 release, Another Long Night Out.
Here’s the title track from his most recent album, last year’s Colors Of Love, which also topped the jazz chart.
In 2011, Brian started the Napa Valley Jazz Getaway. This annual event has proven so popular that this year he’s added a second one in Chicago. This year’s concert in Napa Valley is scheduled for June 5-8, while the one in Chicago is set for September 19-22. His website tells us he’ll be doing the Smooth Jazz Cruise later this month.
Brian Culbertson, your Two for Tuesday, February 5, 2019.
Alto and soprano saxophonist Kim Waters, according to AllMusic, “specializes in the romantic side of mellow smooth jazz.” He’s recorded 36 albums as a soloist as well as a member of The Sax Pack and Streetwize, a supergroup he started with singer Maysa Leak, bassist James Waters Jr., and guitarist Ken Navarro. His most recent album is What I Like, released last September.
From What I Like, “Midnight Magic.”
From One Special Moment (1999), featuring Meli’sa Morgan and the late Chuck Loeb, “Am I The Same Girl (Soulful Strut).”
Kim’s website tells us he now lives in Alpharetta, Georgia, just a couple of towns over from where I live. (The things you learn in this job…) His itinerary tells us he’ll be at The South in Philadelphia from February 14 thru 17, so if you’re in the area, be sure and see him.
Kim Waters, your Two for Tuesday, January 29, 2019.
Since we talked aboout a member of The Sax Pack last week, let’s talk about the other two, starting with Steve Cole. Steve’s from Chicago, and picked up the saxophone in high school. He went to Northwestern intending to major in classical saxophone, but changed his major to economics and eventually received his MBA from the University of Chicago. After graduating, he fcused again on music, particularly jazz, a genre particularly suited to the saxophone. His 1998 debut album Stay Awhile won him the Prism Award for Best New Artist at the Oasis Smooth Jazz Awards in 2000.
In 2001, he joined with Regina Belle (vocals) and George Duke (keyboards) to cover Grover Washington Jr.’s “Just the Two of Us” for the album To Grover With Love. It has become a favorite on Smooth Jazz radio.
His fourth album, 2003’s Spin, yielded the single “Thursday.” It reached the Top 20 that year.
Steve is also a professor and adviser in music business at The University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. His website tells us that he’ll be in Punta Gorda, Florida on February 23 and Atlanta on April 4.
Steve Cole, your Two for Tuesday, January 22, 2019.