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  Gardena Jazz Festival 2015 Artists  

MARCUS MILLER

An album entitled Renaissance is long overdue for the widely acclaimed Renaissance Man Marcus Miller. In among the most enviable careers in music, Miller is a two-time Grammy-winner and the composer/producer of ten critically acclaimed and genre-defying albums (seven studio and three live). Even the most devoted follower may be astonished to realize that Renaissance is only his eigth studio project since his 1983 debut, Suddenly, considering the abundance of occasions Miller's name has appeared within album credits and that he has dazzled with performances, compositions, and productions - in the company of some of the world's most respected and accomplished players and superstars - from the mid - ‘70s to the present.

As a multi-instrumentalist, Marcus is highly proficient as a keyboardist, clarinetist/bass clarinetist and, primarily, as a world-renowned bassist, topping critics' and reader's polls for three decades. His rèsume as an A-list player brims with over 500 recording credits as a sideman on albums across the spectrum of musical styles: rock (Donald Fagen and Eric Clapton), Jazz (George Benson, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Sample, Wayne Shorter and Grover Washington, Jr.), pop (Roberta Flack, Paul Simon and Mariah Carey), R&B (Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan), hip hop (Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg), blues (Z.Z. Hill), new wave (Billy Idol), smooth jazz (Al Jarreau and Dave Koz) and opera (collaborations with tenor Kenn Hicks and soprano Kathleen Battle).

As a film music pro, Miller rose from writing the go-go party classic "Da Butt" for Spike Lee's "School Daze" to becoming the go-to composer for 20+films (from the documentary "1 Love" to the animated children's fable "The Trumpet and The Swan" to the Eddie Murphy/Halle Berry classic "Boomerang").

As a producer, writer and player, he was the last primary collaborator of jazz legend Miles Davis, contributing the composition and album "Tutu" to the canon of contemporary jazz music. The breadth of his collaborative talents were best showcased in his work with the late, great soul man Luther Vandross, contributing to well over half of his albums as a producer, composer and/or player on a string of hits capped by "Power of Love/Love Power" for which Marcus won his first Grammy, 1991's R&B Song of the Year.

And starting with David Sanborn's 1980 album Hideaway and its follow-up Voyeur (for which the alto sax giant won a Grammy performing Marcus' composition of "All I Need is You"), Marcus not only left an indelible mark on Sanborn's distinctive sound, he laid the often-copied blueprint for the coolest of contemporary jazz sounds.

Style, soul and intense professionalism have set Marcus MIller at the top of his game for three decades now. Marcus was born in 1959 and raised in a musical family that includes his father, William Miller (a church organist and choir director) and jazz pianist Wynton Kelly. By 13, Marcus was proficient on clarinet, piano and bass guitar, and already writing songs. Two years later he was working regularly in New York City, eventually playing bass and writing music for jazz flutist Bobbi Humphrey and keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith. Miller soon became a top call session musician, gracing well over 500 albums, recording with musicians and in countries around the globe - from Frank Sinatra and Elton John to Bill Withers and LL Cool J.

After two R&B-learning solo albums for Warner Bros. in the `80s followed by co-leading The Jamaica Boys (with drummer Lenny White and singer Mark Stevens), Marcus took a hiatus then returned rejuvenated with the galvanizing The Sun Don't Lie (1993) and Tales (1995), both of which found him brilliantly connecting the dots of Black music's evolution. Following the fan-demanded Live and More in 1997, Miller released M2 ("M-Squared") on his own 3 Deuces Records label and won his second Grammy, 2001's Best Contemporary Jazz Album. A second double live CD, The Ozell Tapes: The Official Bootleg (2003) came next, follwed by Silver Rain (2005) and Marcus (2008) (released as Free in Europe and Asia) featuring his Grammy-nominated crowd-rouser of Middle Eastern Funk, "Blast".

2007 found Marcus in a new realm, as host of the North Sea Jazz Cruise, followed by the Playboy Jazz Cruise in 2009 and subsequent Smooth Jazz Cruises annually. In 2008, he co-led the all-star bass trio S.M.V. with Stanley Clarke and Victor Wooten for an album (entitled Thunder) followed by an extenstive world tour. A concert Marcus arranged and produced with his own band and The Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra featuring trumpeter Roy Hargrove and vocalist Raul Midon was recorded the same year and subsequently released as A Night in Monte-Carlo. In the fall of 2009, Marcus put together a new band of young musicians for "Tutu Revisited" - a project that started as a special one night only event to coincide with the acclaimed We Want Miles exhibit at Citè de la Musique in Paris - then became a two-year global sensation beautifully captured for posterity on the CD/DVD Tutu Revisited featuring Christian Scott. In 2011 Marcus went on from Tutu Revisited to co-lead another trio DMS, a funk-jazz collaboration with George Duke and David Sanborn. In the summer of 2012 Marcus conceived of and produced the "Tribute to Miles", a 9-city tour of Europe with fellow Davis alumni Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, in which they presented their unique vision of every era of Miles' music.

In the midst of all of his tours, Miller still miraculously made time to continue working in the studio. co-producing George Benson's concept album Songs and Stories and Dave Koz's Grammy-nominated CD Hello Tomorrow. He also co-produced a track with Herbie Hancock and internationally renowned singer Juanes entitled "La Tierra" for Hancock's ambitious The Imagine Project.

Now, duly fortified and deeply inspired, Marcus Miller returns to composing and exploring new music of his own on Renaissance with a sharper focus than ever before, a new band of curious and like-minded young musicians, and a mission to travel the world - country by country, city by city, venue by venue - to take the message of this musical movement straight to the hearts, souls and minds of the people.



NORMAN BROWN

Picking up a guitar at age 8, Norman Brown was initially inspired by Jimi Hendrix but it was his father's preference for Wes Montgomery that set Norman on his stylistic journey. After high school, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue music, attending the Musicians Institute where he also taught for a time. Playing with his own group in local clubs and drawing comparisons to George Benson, he was discovered and signed to the fledgling MoJazz label, a division of Motown. His debut, "Just Between Us" was followed by the gold-certified "After the Storm" and "Better Days Ahead." Moving to Warner Bros., he released "Celebration," which first teamed him with producer Paul Brown. The follow-up, "Just Chillin", earned him Grammy® recognition in the best pop instrumental category. Next, on "West Coast Coolin'," Norman tested his skills as a vocalist, a move embraced by the urban Adult Contemporary radio market and found him topping the charts, with a fan base that's been expanding over the years. His compilation "The Very Best Of Norman Brown" was one of the best-selling smooth jazz albums of 2005 and 2006. His 2010 release "Sending My Love" with its seamless blend of pop, R&B and jazz marked his 8th solo album. 2012 saw the release of "24/7", in collaboration with saxophonist Gerald Albright.



MARION MEADOWS


Marion Meadows began playing clarinet and studying classical music at age 8. He gravitated to the soprano sax in high school, and his passion for various types of music led him to appreciate numerous jazz musicians, including Stanley Turrentine, Sidney Bichet, Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington, and Coleman Hawkins. After studying jazz with Anthony Truglia, he attended Berkeley College of Music, majoring in arranging and composition and later attended SUNY Purchase School for the Arts. "I got a lot of sideman jobs in college, and I have always said I got a graduate degree playing clubs," says Meadows, who perfected his craft studying with Joe Henderson, Dave Liebman and Eddie Daniels. Shortly after he finished school, drummer Norman Connors recorded his song "Invitation" and then asked Marion to join his band. Meadows first hit the airwaves in 1991 with For Lovers Only, but his career really began one day in the late '80s at NYC's Grand Central Station. He'd been a sideman with Connors for 3 years, with only vague notions of eventually going solo. While waiting for a train, he pulled out his horn and began playing under Grand Central's huge dome. He caught the attention of fellow commuter TV composer Jay Chattaway, who was so impressed that he hooked Meadows up with legendary keyboardist Bob James. James signed Meadows to his label, and though Meadows' first recording went unreleased, the experience put him on the road to his eventual success. Marion became a well-known sideman in his own right, recording or performing over the years with Brook Benton, Eartha Kitt, Phyllis Hyman, Jean Carne, The Temptations, Michael Bolton, Angela Bofill, and Will Downing among others. In the late '80s he stretched his usual pop/jazz boundaries as a member of a New York avant-garde band called the Aboriginal Music Society. The '90s marked the beginning of his solo career and he became a staple of the smooth jazz format with his subsequent recordings in the 1990s and 2000's through today.



VINCENT INGALA


Back in January of 2011, Smooth Jazz Journalist of The Year nominee, Denis Poole commented that 'North End Soul' from multi-instrumentalist, writer, and producer Vincent Ingala was, by any standards, an outstanding piece of work. In fact, it proved to be a spectacular debut and set the scene for what evolved into a truly remarkable year, In San Diego, at what became known as 'The Lemonade Weekend,' Ingala owned the stage at Anthology and later that night played with Peter White at the Hard Rock Hotel. Twelve months later, his ever growing fan-base would be rewarded with Vincent's follow up album 'Can't Stop Now', earning him two Billboard top five singles, one of them topping at #1 for four weeks. With seven original compositions, two spellbinding covers and guest performances from Gregg Karukas & Jonathan Fritzen, 'Can't Stop Now' is a measure of just how far Ingala has come and a tribute to the focus and dedication he has for his music.

Indeed, 'Can't Stop Now' bears testimony to the way Vincent pursues his musical goals with determination and zeal. Not only did he write and co-write seven of the tracks, he also played every instrument and, if that wasn't enough, produced and programmed the album throughout. This all seems a far cry from the time his parents bought him his first drum set at the age of four. Later, he was given his first guitar and after only nine months of lessons in third grade, was strumming Elvis tunes that he had perfected by ear. Both friends and family quickly sensed that there was something special going on and this was confirmed when in fifth grade he mastered the keyboard before trading it in for the saxophone. Finally, Vincent had found the sound for which he had been searching. He was hooked and the rest, as they say, is history.

Since May 2011, Vincent has become an ever-increasing presence on the Smooth Jazz Circuit, performing as a solo artist at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach Jazz Festival, Cataling Island Jazz Trax Festival, The Seabreeze Jazz Festival and was a featured artist on the Dave Koz & Friends 2011 Alaskan Cruise. He will also be on board for Koz's 2016 Caribbean Cruise this fall. Vincent will be releasing his third album, "Coast to Coast" on May 1st, 2015.

A Yamaha Performing Artist, Vincent cites Elvis Presley, Sam Butera, Wilton Felder and Richard Elliot as being among some of his major influences in music. Family is also a core value for Vincent. He enjoys nothing more than spending time with his parents and their large, extended Italian family. With more dates in support of 'Can't Stop Now' already planned for this year, there has never been a better time to experience the magic of Vincent Ingala. Vincent plays Yamaha saxophones exclusively.

 

JONATHAN FRITZÉN


Take one of the hottest composers and keyboard players in instrumental pop, add in featured performances from the likes of Gerald Albright, Paul Taylor and Nils Landgren, hook them up with ten wonderful new tunes and what do you have? The answer is 'Fritzenized', the latest album from the Billboard chart-topping, artist Jonathan Fritzén.

It is the Swedish American's fifth solo CD and follows the critically acclaimed 'Magical' from which the title cut blasted a path to #1 on every smooth jazz airplay chart on the planet.

The fact that even before its release date, 'Fritzenized' has already become a chart topper says much for a collection that, two years in the making, is Fritzén's most personal to date. Writing, producing and (for the first time) mixing every track, he comes closer to his true magical vision than with any other project he has created so far.

A case in point is the aptly titled 'A Funky Night' that finds him reuniting with vocalist Laila Adele. As Jonathan explains, "Laila is not only a long term collaborator of mine but also one of my favorite singers. The groove for the song was inspired by one of the most sampled drum loops in rap music, 'Juicy Fruit' that I thought would fuse nicely with my own musical spices."

There is no doubt it worked out just fine and much the same can be said of 'Guacamole', which has a vibe of the kind Fritzén first heard when touring in Nicaragua many years ago. "After the shows", Jonathan recalls, "we would go out to the local clubs to party. The songs that the DJ's were spinning would often have this beat they called "reggaeton" and this is my own take on it. Guacamole is probably my favorite thing to eat so I thought it would be a good title for the tune." It features Swedish trombone player Nils Landgren, one of Europe's most famous jazz musicians, and another guest performer that Fritzén was eager to have on board is Gerald Albright whom Fritzén describes as being one of the greatest sax players on earth.

As Jonathan tells it, "We were figuring out who was going to play sax on the track 'Celebration' and, for me, Albright was the perfect choice. A number of years ago we played in Germany at the same festival, just when I was coming onto the scene, and we had breakfast together. I remember what a nice person he was and, having seen him at various festivals in the States where we've both played, it felt natural to ask him. I wanted a very 'jammy' ending to the number, where we could play off each other, so his versatility and master of improvisation was just what I needed." The title reflects the festive feeling that the song has and is helped in this respect by Alex Al on bass and Randy Jacobs on guitar, guys who Fritzén considers to be two of the hottest cats on the scene today.

Talking of hot, Paul Taylor's contribution on 'Euphoria' is top notch yet, in the final analysis, 'Fritzenized' is all about the magic that the music of Jonathan Fritzén invariably brings. Take for example the first single to be serviced to radio, 'A New Beginning' of the dreamy 'Sailing Away' on which Fritzén utilizes his under-used singing voice for the first time since 2008 and the release of his debut album 'Love Birds'. Both these masterpieces of rhythm and melody find him at his excellent best and seem set to accelerate his already meteoric rise to fame at a rate rarely seen since the mid-seventies when those other Swedish superstars, Abba, took the USA by storm.

As Jonathan puts it, "I feel so fortunate that my dreams of touring the world, sharing my music with so many people and playing with childhood idols has beome a reality. Now, I feel more strongly that I want to focus on different types of goals and for my music to affect people's lives in a very positive way. Music can be a powerful force and all I want is for everybody who hears this record to come out a little bit different on the other side. That's my dream for Fritzenized."





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