Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Traveling Music

One of our loyal listeners, “SaxFan” in Louisville, Kentucky, asked in the Shoutbox last week for a few suggestions on Smooth Jazz CDs which would make for good listening in the car during those long holiday drives. In the car I prefer a CD that has decent energy and a fair amount of hit material. Here are a few that I've always enjoyed listening to through the years while we made our way over the river and through the woods:

Acoustic Alchemy – Reference Point (GRP)

David Benoit – Best of, 1987-1995 (GRP)

Chris Botti – The Very Best of Chris Botti (GRP)

Boney James – Sweet Thing (Warner Bros.)

Jazzmasters – The Greatest Hits (Trippin' 'n' Rhythm)

Joe Sample – Spellbound (Warner Bros.)

And some festive holiday season fare:

The Very Best of Christmas (new release for 2009) (Trippin' 'n' Rhythm)

Making Spirits Bright (featuring G. Albright, R. Elliot, D. Krall and more) (GRP)

Vince Guaraldi – A Charlie Brown Christmas (Fantasy)

Boney James – Christmas Present (Concord)

Diana Krall – Christmas Songs (Verve)

Dave Koz & Friends – A Smooth Jazz Christmas (Capitol)

Eric Tingstad & Nancy Rumbel – The Gift (Narada)

Peter White – Songs of the Season (Columbia)

Have I left out anything? Drop me a note (; I'm also on Facebook), and I'll add your suggestions to the list.

Rick O'Dell

Operations Manager –

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Win a Gift Pack of The Year's Best New Releases

We're giving away holiday gift packs featuring the year's best new releases in Smooth Jazz. Included among the CDs in each gift pack is my pick for the year's finest new holiday CD, The Very Best of Christmas on Trippin' 'n' Rhythm Records.

The Very Best of Christmas features Paul Hardcastle, Tim Bowman, Gregg Karukas, U-Nam, Oli Silk and others performing our favorite songs this time of year.

To enter, it's very simple. All you have to do is send me an email to Please include:

1. Your name.
2. Your email address. (And we'll never sell your email address to a third party.)
3. Where you listen to

(You can also enter by regular mail with a letter or postcard to: Rick O'Dell, UltraSmoothJazz, 400 North Wells, Suite 408, Chicago, IL 60654.)

We'll select winners at random starting soon.

What's New at Ultra Smooth

Just added to the playlist:

Cindy Bradley - "Bloom"
CD: Bloom (Trippin' 'n' Rhythm)

Smooth Jazz has always suffered from a shortage of talented women musicians, so it's a treat to introduce this Buffalo-born trumpeter on her major label debut.

Craig Chaquico - "Songbird"
CD: Follow the Sun (Shanachie)

Yes, it's the melody made famous by Kenny G, a tune that's become a standard of Smooth Jazz. For the first time, we get to hear a guitar playing the lead. Much like Paul Brown's take on "Winelight" and Norman Brown's read on "Skating," the effect is ear-catching.

Paul Hardcastle - "The Circle"
CD - The Collection (Trippin' 'n' Rhythm)

Paul's son, Paul Jr., who up to this point has been featured occasionally on his father's CDs only in the liner notes, steps forward to make a statement of his own--on saxophone. That's the younger Paul Hardcastle making a memorable first impression playing all the sax solos.

Everette Harp - "Texas Groove"
CD - First Love (Shanachie)

Doing a little "background check" on the big man, I was stunned to learn this is his 17th year in Smooth Jazz, his debut coming in 1992. Since then, he's lost a ponytail but gained a consistently powerful tone that cuts through on his ninth CD.

Brian McKnight - "What I've Been Waiting For"
CD - Evolution of a Man (Koch)

He's no longer just a smooth crooner. Add in a successful morning show on radio (KTWV/Los Angeles) and his new "Brian McKnight Show" on TV, and you've got a multi-media star in full bloom.


Rick O'Dell
Operations Manager - (

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