TSJR News Corner

Current smooth jazz news

Mar. 18, 2017

Legendary Rock & Roll Pioneer Guitarist Chuck Berry Dead at 90

Chuck Berry, the singer, songwriter, and guitar great who practically defined rock music with his impeccably twangy hits “Maybellene,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Memphis,” “My Ding-a-Ling” and “Sweet Little Sixteen,” has died. He was 90.

The guitarist/singer/songwriter, whose classic “Johnny B. Goode” was chosen by Carl Sagan to be included on the golden record of Earth Sounds and Music launched with Voyager in 1977, died Saturday afternoon, St. Charles County Police Department confirmed. The cause of death was not revealed.

During his 60-plus years in show business, Berry, in 1986, became one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He entered The Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame in ’85 and that year also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

He performed in 1979 for President Jimmy Carter at the White House, landed at No. 6 on Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time,” and trademarked his stage showmanship with his famous “duck walk.”

John Lennon once said, “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry.’” He paved the way for such music legends as the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Band, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, AC/DC, Sex Pistols and Jerry Lee Lewis, among many others.

TSJR offers its most sincere condolences to the Berry family. The end of an era has surely descended upon music fans everywhere.

Source: Billboard.com


Feb. 21, 2017

Fusion Guitarist Larry Coryell Dead at Age 73

Legendary guitarist Larry Coryell died Sunday (Feb. 19) at the age of 73 in his New York City hotel room, according to a statement sent to Billboard from jazz publicist Jim Eigo.

Coryell, who passed away in his sleep from natural causes, had performed his last two shows this past weekend at the city’s Iridium Jazz Club.

Known as the “Godfather of Fusion,” Coryell was a pioneer of jazz-rock. He made his mark in the music world with his highly acclaimed solo work, releasing more than 60 solo albums in his lifetime.

Coryell performed with mid-’70s powerhouse fusion band The Eleventh House and collaborated with jazz greats including Miles Davis, Gary Burton, Alphonse Mouzon, Ron Carter and Chet Baker.

Coryell is survived by his wife, Tracey, four children and six grandchildren. The Smooth Jazz Ride extends its sincere condolences to them.

Source: Billboard.com


Feb. 12, 2017

Legendary Vocalist Al Jarreau Dies at Age 76

“Mornin'” just turned into the darkest of nights for the fans of iconic singer Al Jarreau who passed away today at age 76 following an illness that forced him to announce just days ago that he was cancelling all live performances permamnently. The famed singer had been known for keeping a busy performance schedule and had remained incredibly active even into his mid-70s. In fact, he had a full concert schedule planned for 2017.

Jarreau was truly a mainstay in jazz and played a massive role in the emergence of contemporary jazz in the 1980s. One of the most unique vocalists ever in recorded music, Jarreau emerged from an unlikely background to win seven Grammy awards and become one of the most significant singers in the world.

Jarreau began singing at his birth home in Milwaukee, WI, and, as a teen, joined a local group called the Indigos. After college, he moved to San Francisco to work in vocational rehabilitation but found himself continuously drawn to the local jazz scene. By the late 60s, he was a regular performer in San Francisco clubs, often working in a trio with future star George Duke. In the early 70s, he moved to Los Angeles and became part of the robust music scene there.

Jarreau signed his first recording contract with Warner Brothers in 1975 and had an international smash with his debut album, We Got By. But it was his live album Look To the Rainbow that made him a bona fide star and won for him his first Grammy.

Entering the 1980s, he continued to rise as a leader in the contemporary jazz field before seemingly taking over the world with his 1981 crossover album Breaking Away and the smash hit “We’re In This Love Together.”

Over the remainder of the decade, Jarreau continued to record popular album after album and issue big hits like “Mornin,” the ballad “After All,” and the theme song from the television show Moonlighting. He also continued to stretch his musical boundaries into R&B and pop, working with such production luminaries as Nile Rodgers, Marcus Miller, and Narada Michael Walden. In 1999, he toured the world performing with symphonic orchestras.

The 21st century brought more accolades such as Grammy awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It also brought more new music and world tours, as well as a tribute album to his close friend, George Duke.

In his 50 years in the spotlight, Al Jarreau proved himself to be one of the most versatile, awe-inspiring, and important artists in the world. To say he will be greatly missed the world over is a gross understatement. Yes, “Mornin'” may have just turned into night for Al Jarreau fans but only temporarily as they will surely be warmed by the memory of his sunshine-filled smile and stellar musical career.

We at The Smooth Jazz Ride offer our most sincere condolences to his family. Rest in peace, Mr. Jarreau.

Many thanks to Soul Tracks as the factual source for much of this article.


Feb. 11, 2017

“Queen of Soul”  Aretha Franklin to Retire  

Vocalist/music icon Aretha Franklin, known around the world as the “Queen of Soul,” has told a local television station in Detroit that she plans to retire from performing in 2017 after the release of her upcoming Stevie Wonder-produced album, which she will be recording exclusively in Detroit.

Franklin told Channel 4 WDIV, “This will be my last year. I will be recording, but this will be my last year in concert… I feel very, very enriched and satisfied with respect to where my career came from, and where it is now.” She did leave open the possibility of doing occasional special events in the future. “I’ll be pretty much satisfied, but I’m not going to go anywhere and just sit down and do nothing. That wouldn’t be good either.”

Franklin has had an amazing five-decade career that has found success in gospel, jazz, pop, and, particularly soul, where her instantly recognizable voice has graced dozens of hits including “Chain of Fools,” “Rock Steady,” “Think,” and her renowned cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect.” Few artists have established the kind of fame that she;s enjoyed — where simply saying her first name is sufficient. Beginning in an era that saw the likes of Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Al Green, and countless others emerge and mesmerize audiences everywhere, Franklin’s vocal prowess placed her among the top of that incomparable elite list.  

Many thanks to Soul Tracks as the source for a major portion of this article.